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Title: Atlantic Classics, Second Series
Author: Baldwin, Lida F., Chapman, John Jay, 1862-1933, Crothers, Samuel McChord, 1857-1927, Mackenzie, Jean Kenyan, Goodspeed, Edgar J., Hall, Sharlot M., Kimball, Richard Bowland, Foster, William T., Allinson, Anne C. E. (Anne Crosby Emery), 1871-1932, Beebe, William, 1877-1962, Merwin, Henry C., Gifford, Fannie Stearns, Addams, Jane, 1860-1935, Donnelly, Lucy Martin, Taylor, Elizabeth, Portor, Laura Spencer, Gay, Robert M.
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.

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Second Series



The Atlantic Monthly Press, Inc.

Three Park Street


COPYRIGHT, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917 BY THE ATLANTIC








When, some two years ago a collection of Atlantic essays was offered to
the public, it was the editor's idea that this volume should be, to use
the current phrase, a kind of permanent exhibit of the character and
quality of _The Atlantic_. In these hurrying days, even the sedatest of
magazines must quicken its pace to keep abreast of the marching world,
and much that is most serviceable in _The Atlantic_ during its appointed
life dies at the heart when a new number brings fresh interests to men's
minds. But a residue there is, no more useful at the time, perhaps, than
much which perishes, but which evidently ought to have such length of
days as the covers of a book can ensure for it. The experiment was made
with the first volume of Atlantic Classics, composed of sixteen essays,
by as many authors, all dealing with topics of more than temporary
interest. The success of this book, which has been many times reprinted,
outstripped anticipation; more than that, it assumed a character quite
unlooked for, and proceeded, on its own account, to introduce itself
into the curricula of colleges and high schools throughout the country,
welcomed, as the editor is credibly informed, by students as well as by

Even a layman can see that in such a use there is a sound development. A
book of contemporary expression, exhilarating to the student and
knitting his interests to those of the world outside the schoolroom, may
be peculiarly suited to call forth his appreciation and to kindle
emulation within him. Such a book may teach him to think of literature
as a living thing, quite as alive and full of spirit as he is himself,
and by such method, perhaps, tender shoots of young intelligence may be
spared the blighting influence of too formal education.

These matters belong most properly to the province of the schoolmaster.
The editor's is a different purpose. It is not a text which he seeks to
compile, but (forgive a layman's distinction) a _book_, a book to read,
enjoy, and keep. To all who have found amusement and profit in the first
series of Atlantic Classics, I think I can promise that here shall be
found no lowering of the bars, but only the enlargement of interest
which must come from such an influx of new company.

During pleasant hours spent in selecting this second series of essays
typical of _The Atlantic_, I have more than once turned aside to re-read
well-remembered pages of a similar character written an hundred years
and more ago by men whose names, if not effulgent, still shine in
clusters from the more condensed paragraphs of our literary histories.
Comparisons are odious, and stir inordinate prejudice; so names shall
not be mentioned here, but as I turn from those enshrined volumes to
the less sententious essays of our day, I can truly say I feel no drop
to earth from heaven. Here before me is a group of essays, quite as
individual, if less self-conscious; quite as urbane, often in better
taste; and quite (one reader thinks) as suggestive of company he should
like to keep. Take for instance such a paper as Miss Mackenzie's 'Exile
and Postman.' Bind it in levant, gild well ornament and title, and let
it stand straight on your bookshelf for an hundred years. Then shall
your great-grandson take it down and learn with respect that in his
grandsire's day English still lived as English, and that the magic of
words cannot die.

In republishing this collection, The Atlantic Press owes its warm thanks
to every author represented, and desires to make acknowledgment to
Houghton Mifflin Company for the inclusion of Mr. Merwin's inimitable
'Dogs and Men,' already reprinted in a volume of the author's own; to
the Macmillan Company for permission granted to Miss Addams to allow her
contemporary legend 'The Devil Baby' to be reprinted here. It should be
added that Mr. Chapman's shining paper on 'The Greek Genius' will be
found in more extended form in his volume of similar title, to which
every instructed reader should turn.

E. S.

_The Atlantic Office._ January, 1918.


DOGS AND MEN                                    _Henry C. Merwin_           1

JUNGLE NIGHT                                    _William Beebe_            26

THE DEVIL BABY AT HULL-HOUSE                    _Jane Addams_              52


THE TEMPLE'S DIFFICULT DOOR                     _Robert M. Gay_            95

EXILE AND POSTMAN                               _Jean Kenyan Mackenzie_   109

THE LIFE OF ADVENTURE                           _Edgar J. Goodspeed_      121


CAR-WINDOW BOTANY                               _Lida F. Baldwin_         162

STUDIES IN SOLITUDE                             _Fannie Stearns Gifford_  173

THE GREEK GENIUS                                _John Jay Chapman_        184

IN PRAISE OF OLD LADIES                         _Lucy Martin Donnelly_    217

A MEMORY OF OLD GENTLEMEN                       _Sharlot M. Hall_         227

VIOLA'S LOVERS                                  _Richard Bowland Kimball_ 235

HAUNTED LIVES                                   _Laura Spencer Portor_    247

THE ACROPOLIS AND GOLGOTHA                      _Anne C. E. Allinson_     273

THE BAPTIZING OF THE BABY                       _Elizabeth Taylor_        292

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES                                                        307

Dogs and Men

By Henry C. Merwin

There are men and women in the world who, of their own free will, live a
dogless life, not knowing what they miss; and for them this essay,
securely placed in the dignified _Atlantic_, there to remain so long as
libraries and books shall endure, is chiefly written. Let them not pass
it by in scorn, but rather stop to consider what can be said of the
animal as a fellow being entitled to their sympathy, and having,
perhaps, a like destiny with themselves.

As to those few persons who are not only dogless but dog-haters, they
should excite pity rather than resentment. The man who hates a good dog
is abnormal, and cannot help it. I once knew such a man, a money-lender
long since passed away, whose life was largely a crusade against dogs,
carried on through newspapers, pamphlets, and in conversation.

He used to declare that he had often been bitten by these animals, and
that, on one occasion, a terrier actually jumped on the street-car in
which he was riding, took a small piece out of his leg (a mere soupçon,
no doubt), and then jumped off--all without apparent provocation, and in
a moment of time. Probably this story, strange as it may sound, was
substantially true. The perceptions of the dog are wonderfully acute. A
recent occurrence may serve as the converse of the money-lender's story.
A lost collie, lame and nearly starved, was taken in, fed, and cared for
by a household of charitable persons, who, however, did not like or
understand dogs, and were anxious to get rid of this one, provided that
a good home could be found for him. In the course of a week there came
to call upon them in her buggy an old lady who is extremely fond of
dogs, and who possesses that combination of a masterful spirit with deep
affection which acts like witchcraft upon the lower animals. The collie
was brought out, and the story of his arrival was related at length.
Meanwhile the old lady and the dog looked each other steadfastly in the
eye. 'Do you want to come with me, doggie?' she said at last, not really
meaning to take him. Up jumped the dog, and sat down beside her, and
could not be dislodged by any entreaties or commands--and all parties
were loath to use force. She took him home, but brought him back the
next day, intending to leave him behind her. Again, however, the dog
refused to be parted from his new and real friend. He bestowed a
perfunctory wag of the tail upon his benefactors--he was not ungrateful;
but, like all dogs, he sought not chiefly meat and bones and a
comfortable place by the fire, but affection and caresses. The dog does
not live that would refuse to forsake his dinner for the companionship
of his master.

The mission of the dog--I say it with all reverence--is the same as the
mission of Christianity, namely, to teach mankind that the universe is
ruled by love. Ownership of a dog tends to soften the hard hearts of
men. There are two great mysteries about the lower animals: one, the
suffering which they have to endure at the hands of man; the other, the
wealth of affection which they possess, and which for the most part is
unexpended. All animals have this capacity for loving other creatures,
man included. Crows, for example, show it to a remarkable degree. 'As
much latent affection goes to waste in every flock of crows that flies
overhead as would fit a human household for heaven.'[A] A crow and a
dog, if kept together, will become almost as fond of each other as of
their master.

[Note A: _Atlantic Monthly_, vol. 89, p. 322.]

Surely this fact, this capacity of the lower animals to love, not only
man, but one another, is the most significant, the most deserving to be
pondered, the most important in respect to their place in the universe,
of all the facts that can be learned about them. Compared with it, how
trivial is anything that the zoölogist or biologist or the physiologist
can tell us about the nature of the lower animals!

The most beautiful sight in the world, I once heard it said (by myself,
to be honest), is the expression in the eyes of an intelligent,
sweet-tempered pup--a pup old enough to take an interest in things about
him, and yet so young as to imagine that everybody will be good to him;
so young as not to fear that any man or boy will kick him, or that any
dog will take away his bone. In the eyes of such a pup there is a look
of confiding innocence, a consciousness of his own weakness and
inexperience, a desire to love and to be loved, which are irresistible.
In older dogs one is more apt to notice an eager, anxious, inquiring
look, as if they were striving to understand things which the Almighty
had placed beyond their mental grasp; and the nearest approach to a
really human expression is seen in dogs suffering from illness. Heine,
who, as the reader well knows, served a long apprenticeship to pain,
somewhere says that pain refines even the lower animals; and all who are
familiar with dogs in health and in disease will see the truth of this
statement. I have seen in the face of an intelligent dog, suffering
acutely from distemper, a look so human as to be almost terrifying; as
if I had accidentally caught a glimpse of some deep-lying trait in the
animal which nature had intended to conceal from mortal gaze.

The dog, in fact, makes a continual appeal to the sympathies of his
human friends, and thus tends to prevent them from becoming hard or
narrow. There are certain families, especially perhaps in New England,
and most of all, no doubt, in Boston, who need to be regenerated, and
might be regenerated by keeping a dog, provided that they went about it
in the proper spirit. A distinguished preacher and author, himself a
Unitarian, remarked recently in an address to Unitarians that they were
usually the most self-satisfied people that he ever met. It was a casual
remark, and perhaps neither he nor those who heard it appreciated its
full significance. However, the preacher was probably thinking, not so
much of Unitarians as of a certain kind of person often found in this
neighborhood, and not necessarily professing any particular form of
religion. We all know the type. When a man _invariably_ has money in the
bank, and is respectable and respected, was graduated at Harvard, has a
decorous wife and children, has never been carried away by any passion
or enthusiasm, knows the right people, and conforms strictly to the
customs of good society; and when this sort of thing has been going on
for, perhaps, two or three generations, then there is apt to creep into
the blood a coldness that would chill the heart of a bronze statue. Such
persons are really degenerates of their peculiar kind, and need to be
saved, perhaps by desperate measures. Let them elope with the cook; let
them get religion of a violent Methodistic, or of an intense
Ritualistic, kind (the two forms have much in common); or if they
cannot get religion, let them get a dog, give him the run of the house,
love him and spoil him, and so, by the blessing of Providence, their
salvation may be effected.

Reformers and philanthropists should always keep dogs, in order that the
spontaneous element may not wholly die out of them. Their tendency is to
regard the human race as a problem, and particular persons as 'cases' to
be dealt with, not according to one's impulses, but according to certain
rules approved by good authority, and supposed to be consistent with
sound economic principles. To my old friend ----, who once liked me for
myself, without asking why, I have long ceased to be an individual, and
am now simply an item of humanity to whom he owes such duty as my
particular wants or vices would seem to indicate. But if he had a dog he
could not regard him in that impersonal way, or worry about the dog's
morals: he would simply take pleasure in his society, and love him for
what he was, without considering what he might have been.

I know and honor one philanthropist who, in middle life or thereabout,
became for the first time the possessor of a dog; and thenceforth there
was disclosed in him a genuine vein of sentiment and affection which
many years of doing good and virtuous living had failed to eradicate.
Often had I heard of his civic deeds and of his well-directed charities,
but my heart never quite warmed toward him until I learned that, with
spectacles on nose and comb in hand, he had spent three laborious hours
in painfully going over his spaniel, and eliminating those parasitic
guests which sometimes infest the coat of the cleanest and most
aristocratic dog. I am not ashamed to say that I have a confidence in
his wisdom now which I did not have before, knowing that his head will
never be allowed to tyrannize over his heart. His name should be
recorded here, were it not that his modesty might be offended by the
act. (Three letters would suffice to print it.)

In speaking of the dog as a kind of missionary in the household, I mean,
it need hardly be said, something more than mere ownership of the
animal. It will not suffice to pay a large sum for a dog of fashionable
breed, equip him with a costly collar, and then relegate him to the
stable or the kitchen. He should be one of the family, living on equal
terms with the others, and their constant companion. The dog's life is
short at the best, and every moment of it will be needed for his
development. It is wonderful how, year by year, the household pet grows
in intelligence, how many words he learns the meaning of, how quick he
becomes in interpreting the look, the tone of voice, the mood of the
person whom he loves. He is old at ten or eleven, and seldom lives
beyond thirteen or fourteen. If he lived to be fifty, he would know so
much that we should be uneasy, perhaps terrified, in his presence.

A certain amount of discipline is necessary for a dog. If left to his
own devices, he is apt to become somewhat dissipated, to spend his
evenings out, to scatter among many the affection which should be
reserved for a few. But, on the other hand, a dog may easily receive too
much discipline; he becomes like the child of a despotic father. A dog
perfectly trained, from the martinet point of view,--one who never
'jumps up' on you, never lays an entreating paw on your arm, never gets
into a chair, or enters the drawing-room,--such a dog is a sad sight to
one who really knows and loves the animal. It is against his nature to
be so repressed. Over-careful housewives, and persons who are burdened
with costly surroundings, talk of injury to carpets and other furniture
if the dog has a right of entry everywhere in the house. But what is
furniture for? Is it for display, is it a guaranty of the wealth of the
owners, or is it for use? Blessed are they whose furniture is so
inexpensive or so shabby that children and dogs are not excluded from
its sacred precincts. Perhaps the happiest household to which I ever had
the honor of being admitted was one where it was sometimes a little
difficult to find a comfortable vacant chair: the dogs always took the
arm-chairs. Alas, where are those hospitable chairs now? Where the dogs
that used to sit up in them, and wink and yawn, and give their paws in
humorous embarrassment?

'The drawing-room was made for dogs, and not dogs for the
drawing-room,' would be Lady Barnes's thesis, did she formulate it. It
was this same Lady Barnes--Rhoda Broughton's--who once said, 'I have no
belief in Eliza, the housemaid I leave in charge here. When last I came
down from London the dogs were so unnaturally good that I felt sure she
bullied them. I spoke very seriously to her, and this time, I am glad to
say, they are as disobedient as ever, and have done even more mischief
than when I am at home.' And she laughed with a delicate relish of her
own folly.

Of all writers of fiction, by the way, is there any whose dogs quite
equal those of Rhoda Broughton? Even the beloved author of _Rab and His
Friends_, even Sir Walter himself, with his immortal Dandie Dinmonts,
has not, it seems to me, given us such life-like and home-like pictures
of dogs as those which occur in her novels. They seem to be there, not
of set purpose, but as if dogs were such an essential part of her own
existence that they crept into her books almost without her knowing it.
No room in her novels is complete without a dog or two; and every remark
that she makes about them has the quality of a caress. Even in a tragic
moment, the heroine cannot help observing, that 'Mink is lying on his
small hairy side in a sunpatch, with his little paws crossed like the
hands of a dying saint.' 'Mr. Brown,' that dear, faithful mongrel, is
forever associated with the unfortunate Joan; and Brenda's 'wouff' will
go resounding down the halls of time so long as novels are read.

Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is willingness to
permit them to make a camping-ground of the bed. There is no other place
in the world that suits the dog quite so well. On the bed he is safe
from being stepped upon; he is out of the way of draughts; he has a
commanding position from which to survey what goes on in the world; and,
above all, the surface is soft and yielding to his outstretched limbs.
No mere man can ever be so comfortable as a dog looks.

Some persons object to having a dog on the bed at night; and it must be
admitted that he lies a little heavily upon one's limbs; but why be so
base as to prefer comfort to companionship! To wake up in the dark
night, and put your hand on that warm soft body, to feel the beating of
that faithful heart--is not this better than undisturbed sloth? The best
night's rest I ever had was once when a cocker spaniel puppy, who had
just recovered from stomach-ache (dose one to two soda-mints), and was a
little frightened by the strange experience, curled up on my shoulder
like a fur tippet, gently pushed his cold, soft nose into my neck, and
there slept sweetly and soundly until morning.

Companionship with his master is the dog's remedy for every ill, and
only an extreme case will justify sending him away or boarding him out.
To put a dog in a hospital, unless there is some surgical or other like
necessity for doing so, is an act of doubtful kindness. Many and many a
dog has died from homesickness. If he is ill, keep him warm and quiet,
give him such simple remedies as you would give to a child: pour beef
tea or malted milk down his throat, or even a little whiskey, if he is
weak from want of food; and let him live or die, as did our fathers and
our fathers' dogs--at home.

Many dogs are sensitive to an excessive degree, so sensitive indeed that
any correction of them, beyond such as can be conveyed by a word,
amounts to positive cruelty. A dog of that kind may easily be thrown by
harsh treatment into a state of nervous disorder, and will be really
unable to do what is required of him. In that state he often presents an
appearance of obstinacy, whereas in fact he is suffering from a sort of
nervous atrophy or paralysis, closely resembling that of a 'balky'

This nervous temperament makes the dog susceptible to misery in many
forms, but the worst evil that can befall is to be lost. The very words
'lost dog' call up such pictures of canine misery as can never be
forgotten by those who have witnessed them. I have seen a lost dog,
lame, emaciated, wounded, footsore, hungry, and thirsty, yet suffering
so intensely from fear, and loneliness, and despair,--from the mere
sense of being lost,--as to be absolutely unconscious of his bodily
condition. The mental agony was so much greater that it swallowed up
the physical pain.

A little Boston terrier, who was lost in a large city for two or three
days, became so wrecked in his nervous system that no amount of care or
petting could restore him to equanimity, and it was found necessary to
kill him. Oh, reader, pass not by the lost dog! Succor him if you can;
preserve him from what is worse than death. It is easy to recognize him
by the look of nervous terror in his eye, by his drooping tail, by his
uncertain movements.

There is a remorseful experience of my own, of which I should be glad to
unburden myself to the reader. It once became my duty to kill a dog
afflicted with some incurable disease. Instead of doing it myself, as I
should have done, I took him to a place where lost dogs are received,
and where those for whom no home can be found are mercifully destroyed.
There, instead of myself leading him to the death-chamber, as, again, I
should have done, I handed him over to the executioner. The dog was an
abnormally nervous and timid one; and as he was dragged most unwillingly
away, he turned around, as nearly as he could, and cast back at me a
look of horror, of fear, of agonized appeal--a look that has haunted me
for years.

Whether he had any inkling of what was in store for him, I do not know,
but it is highly probable that he had. Dogs and other animals are
wonderful mind-readers. I have known three cases in which some
discussion about the necessity of killing an old dog, held in his
presence, was quickly followed by the sudden, unaccountable
disappearance of the animal; and no tidings of him could ever be
obtained, although the greatest pains were taken to obtain them. Horses
are inferior only to dogs in this capacity. Often, especially in the
case of vicious or half-broken horses, an intention will flash from the
mind of the horse to the mind of the rider or driver, and _vice versa_,
without the slightest indication being given by horse or man. Men who
ride race-horses have told me that a sudden conviction in their own
minds, in the course of a race, that they could not win has passed
immediately to the horse, and caused him to slacken his speed, although
they had not ceased to urge him. It is notorious in the trotting world
that faint-hearted and pessimistic drivers often lose races which they
ought to win.

As to remarkable stories about this or that animal, perhaps it might be
said that they are probably true when they illustrate the animal's
perceptive abilities, and are probably false when they depend upon his
power to originate. There appeared lately an account of a race between
loons in the wild state: how the loons got together and arranged the
preliminaries (whether they made books on the event or adopted the pool
system of betting was not stated), how the race was run, or rather
flown, amid intense loon excitement, and how the victor was greeted with
screams of applause!

Some power of origination animals, and dogs especially, certainly have.
There is the familiar trick which dogs play when one, to get a bone away
from another, rushes off a little space, gives the bark which signifies
the presence of an intruder, then comes back and quietly runs away with
the bone which the other dog, in his curiosity to see who is coming, has
impulsively dropped. This is an example, not of reasoning only, but of

In general, however, when dogs surprise us, as they frequently do, it is
by the delicacy and acuteness of their perceptive powers. How unerringly
do they distinguish between different classes of persons, as, for
example, between the members of the family and the servants; and again,
between the servants and the friends of the household! Unquestionably
the dog has three sets of manners for these three classes of persons. He
will take liberties in the kitchen that he would never dream of taking
in the dining-room. We have known our cook to fly in terror from the
kitchen because Figaro, a masterful cocker spaniel, threatened to bite
her if she did not give him a piece of meat forthwith. Figaro reasoned
that the cook was partly _his_ cook, and that he had a right to bully
her if he could.

As for the different members of the family, the dog will 'size them up'
with an unerring instinct. It is impossible to conceal any weakness of
character from him; and if you are strong, he will know that, too. As I
write these lines, the vision of 'Mr. Guppy' rises before me. Mr. Guppy
was a very small Boston terrier with a white head, but otherwise of a
brindle color. He had a beautiful 'mug,' much like that of a bull dog,
with a short nose, wide jaws, and plenty of loose skin hanging about his
stout little neck. It must be admitted that he was somewhat
self-indulgent, being continually on the watch for a chance to lie close
by the fire--a situation considered by his friends to be unwholesome for
him. Mr. Guppy understood me very well. He knew that I was a poor, weak,
easy-going, absent-minded creature, with whom he could take liberties;
accordingly, when we were alone together, the rogue would lie sleeping
with his head on the hearth, while I was absorbed in my book. But hark!
there is a step on the stairs, of one whom Mr. Guppy both loved and
feared more than any dog ever loved or feared me; and forthwith the
little impostor would rise and crawl softly back to his place on a rug
in the corner; and there he would be found lying and winking, with an
expression of perfect innocence, when the disciplinarian entered the

Dogs have the same sensitiveness that we associate with well-bred men
and women. Their politeness is remarkable. Offer a dog water when he is
not thirsty, and he will almost always take a lap or two, just out of
civility, and to show his gratitude. I know a group of dogs that never
forget to come and tell their mistress when they have had their dinner,
feeling sure that she will sympathize with them; and if they have failed
to get it, they will notify her immediately of the omission. If you
happen to step on a dog's tail or paw, how eagerly--after one
irrepressible yelp of pain--will he tell you by his caresses that he
knows you did not mean to hurt him and forgives you!

In their relations with one another, also, dogs have a keen sense of
etiquette. A well-known traveler makes this unexpected remark about a
tribe of naked black men, living on one of the South Sea Islands: 'In
their everyday intercourse there is much that is stiff, formal, and
precise.' Almost the same remark might be made about dogs. Unless they
are on very intimate terms, they take great pains never to brush against
or even to touch one another. For one dog to step over another is a
dangerous breach of etiquette unless they are special friends. It is no
uncommon thing for two dogs to belong to the same person, and live in
the same house, and yet never take the slightest notice of each other.
We have a spaniel so dignified that he will never permit another member
of the dog family to pillow his head on him; but, with the egotism of a
true aristocrat, he does not hesitate to make use of the other dogs for
that purpose.

Often canine etiquette is so subtle that one has much difficulty in
following it out. In our household are two uncongenial dogs, who, in
ordinary circumstances, completely ignore each other, and between whom
any familiarity would be resented fiercely. And yet, when we are all out
walking, if I am obliged to scold or punish one of these two, the other
will run up to the offender, bark at him, and even jostle him, as if he
were saying, 'Well, old man, you got it that time; aren't you ashamed of
yourself?' And the other dog, feeling that he is in the wrong, I
suppose, submits meekly to the insult.

A family of six dogs used to pair off in couples, each couple being on
terms of special intimacy and affection; and besides these
relationships, there were many others among them. For example, they all
deferred to the oldest dog, although he was smaller and weaker than the
rest. If a fight began, he would jump in between the contestants and
stop it; if a dog misbehaved, he would rush at the offender with a
warning growl; and this exercise of authority was never resented. The
other dogs seemed to respect his weight of years, his character, which
was of the highest, and his moral courage, which was undoubted. This
same dog--his name was Pedro--had many human traits. He and his
companions slept together on a sofa upstairs, where, of a cold night,
they would curl up together in an indistinguishable heap. Sometimes the
old dog would put himself to bed before the others, and then, finding
that he needed the warmth and companionship of their presence, he would
go into the hall, put his head between the balusters, and whine softly
until they came upstairs to join him.

That animals reason is a fact of everyday experience. That they can
communicate their wants and feelings to one another and to man is
equally plain. 'When a cat or a dog,' wrote the late Mr. Romanes, 'pulls
one's dress to lead one to the kittens or puppies in need of assistance,
the animal is behaving in the same manner as a deaf mute might behave
when invoking assistance from a friend. That is to say, the animal is
translating the logic of feelings into the logic of signs; and so far as
this particular action is concerned, it is psychologically
indistinguishable from that which is performed by the deaf mute.'

Mentally, we are not so many epochs removed from the other animals, and
emotionally the connection is closer yet. I will not discuss the
question whether dumb animals have any sense of right and wrong. I
believe that they have this sense in a rudimentary degree; or at least
that it is latent in them, and may be developed. The popular instinctive
notions about animals, the result of the experience of the race, seem to
justify this view. 'If we say a _vicious_ horse,' remarked Dr. Arnold,
'why not a _virtuous_ horse?' And we do speak of a 'kind' horse.

Moreover, it is obvious that dogs have a sense of humor; and they have
also a sense of shame, perfectly distinct from the fear of punishment.
Of this sense of shame let me give one example. The dog's eyesight, so
far at least as stationary objects are concerned, is very poor, his real
reliance being on his sense of smell; and I have often seen a dog
mistake one of his own family for a strange animal, run toward him, with
every sign of hostility, and then, when he came within a few feet of the
other dog, suddenly drop his tail between his legs and slink away, as if
he feared that somebody had noticed his absurd mistake.

Can it be that an animal should possess a sense of humor and a sense of
shame, without having also some elementary sense of right and wrong? But
even if it be thought that he is devoid of that sense, it is certain
that he has those kindly impulses from which it has been developed. All
that is best in man springs from something which is practically the same
in the dog that it is in him, namely, the instinct of pity or
benevolence. To that instinct, as it exists in the lower animals, Darwin
attributed the origin of conscience in man; and there are now few, if
any, philosophers who would give a different account of it.

I have seen a pup not six months old run to comfort another pup that
cried out from pain; and the impulse that prompted this act was
essentially the same as that which impels the noblest of mankind when
they befriend the poor or the afflicted. We are akin to the lower
animals morally, as well as physically and mentally.

But this is a modern discovery. It is astonishing and confusing to
realize how little organized Christianity has done for the lower
animals. The ecclesiastical conception of them was simply that they were
creatures without souls, and therefore had no rights as against, or at
the hands of, mankind. To this day that conception remains, although it
is qualified, of course, by other and more humane considerations. Even
Cardinal Newman said,--

'We have no duties toward the brute creation; there is no relation of
justice between them and us. Of course, we are bound not to treat them
ill, for cruelty is an offense against the holy law which our Maker has
written on our hearts, and it is displeasing to Him. But they can claim
nothing at our hand; into our hand they are absolutely delivered. We may
use them, we may destroy them at our pleasure: not our wanton pleasure,
but still for our own ends, for our own benefit and satisfaction,
provided that we can give a rational account of what we do.'

This position, although not perhaps cruel in itself, inevitably results
in immeasurable cruelties. When an English traveler remonstrated with a
Spanish lady for throwing a sick kitten out of the second-story window,
she justified herself by saying that the kitten had no soul; and that is
the national point of view.

Protestantism has been almost as indifferent as Catholicism to the lower
animals. In fact, the conscience which exists outside of the church,
Catholic or Protestant, has in this matter, outstripped the conscience
of the church. 'Cruelty,' said Du Maurier, 'is the only unpardonable
sin'; and the world is slowly but surely coming to that opinion. The
long-deferred awakening of mankind to the sufferings of dumb animals was
not due to a decline of the ecclesiastical conception of them, although
it has declined; nor even to the new knowledge concerning the common
origin of man and beast--indeed, it slightly preceded that knowledge;
but it was due to the gradual enlightenment and moral improvement of the
race, especially of the English-speaking race.

The nineteenth century, as we are often told, saw more discoveries and
inventions than had been made in the preceding six thousand years; but I
believe that in future ages not one of those discoveries and inventions,
nor all together, will bulk so large as factors in the development and
uplifting of man, as will those humane laws and societies which first
came into existence in that century.

We overvalue intellectual as compared with moral and emotional gifts.
The material civilization upon which we pride ourselves is almost wholly
the achievement of the intellect. Fame and wealth, luxury, cultivation,
and leisure,--all the big prizes of the world, in fact,--are obtained
by the successful exercise of the intellect. The moral qualities, of
themselves, can procure us nothing but a clear conscience, and the
approval, perhaps mixed with contempt, of our neighbors.

And yet, when the intellectual qualities are brought to the test of
reality; when one's view of them is not clouded by pride, avarice, or
passion, then how amazingly does their value shrink and shrivel! When a
man lies on his deathbed, for example, his intellectual achievements,
though of the highest order, will seem as nothing to him--he will ask
himself simply whether he has lived a good or a bad life; and after his
death his family and his friends will look at the matter in precisely
the same way.

Even the progress of mankind is far more moral than intellectual.
Competent authorities tell us that the Anglo-Saxon of to-day is mentally
inferior to the Greek who lived two thousand years ago: and if the human
race has improved during that time, it is not so much because man has
advanced in knowledge as because he has acquired more sympathy with his
inferiors, be they brute or human, more generosity, more mercy toward
them. Not Stevenson, nor Faraday, nor Morse, nor Fulton, nor Bell, did
so much for the human race, to say nothing of the other animals, as did
that dueling Irishman who, in the year 1822, proposed in the English
Parliament, amid shrieks and howls of derision, what afterward became
the first law for the protection of dumb animals ever placed on the
statute-book of any country. Every movement for the relief of the brute
creation has originated in England; and when we damn, as we righteously
may, John Bull for one thing and another, let us remember this fact to
his eternal honor!

It is hard to part from an old dog-friend with no hope of ever meeting
him again, hard to believe that the spirit of love which burned so
steadfastly in him is quenched forever. But for those who hold what I
have called the ecclesiastical conception of the lower animals, no other
view is possible. That devout Catholic and exquisite poet, Dr. Parsons,
has beautifully expressed this fact:

    When parents die there's many a word to say--
    Kind words, consoling--one can always pray;
    When children die 't is natural to tell
    Their mother, 'Certainly with them 't is well!'
    But for a dog, 't was all the life he had,
    Since death is end of dogs, or good or bad.
    This was his world, he was contented here;
    Imagined nothing better, naught more dear,
    Than his young mistress; sought no higher sphere;
    Having no sin, asked not to be forgiven;
    Ne'er guessed at God nor ever dreamed of heaven.
    Now he has passed away, so much of love
    Goes from our life, without one hope above!

But is there no hope? Is there not as much--or, if the reader prefers,
as little--hope for the dog as there is for man? I remember reading
years ago in a prominent magazine the statement that doubtless a few
men, the very wickedest, will become extinct at death, whereas the rest
of mankind will be immortal. This view had some adherents then, but
would now be regarded by almost everybody as irrational. Who can believe
that between the best and the worst man there is any such gulf as would
justify so diverse a fate!

Moreover we have learned that there are no chasms or jumps in nature.
One thing slides into another; every creature is a link between two
other creatures; and man himself can be traced back physically,
mentally, and morally, to the lower animals. Is it not then reasonable
to suppose that immortality belongs to all forms of life or to none?
that if man is immortal, the dog is immortal, too? Even to speculate
upon this subject seems almost ridiculous, our knowledge is so limited;
and yet it is hard to refrain from speculation. The transmigration of
souls may be a fact, or men and dogs and all other forms of life may be
simply forms, temporary phases, proceeding from one source, and
returning thereto. But alas, every supposition that we can make is
rendered almost, if not quite, untenable by the mere fact that the human
intellect has conceived it--it is so unlikely that we should hit upon
the right solution!

In this situation, what we seem bound to do is to refrain from hasty,
and especially from egotistic conclusions, to keep our minds open, to
regard the lower animals, not only with pity, but with a certain
reverence. We do not know what or whence they are; but we do know that
their nature resembles ours; that they have Individuality, as we have
it; that they feel pain, both physical and mental; that they are capable
of affection; that, although innocent, as we believe, their sufferings
have been, and are, unspeakable. Is there no mystery here?

To many men, to most men, perhaps, a dog is simply an animated machine,
developed or created for the convenience of the human race. It may be
so; and yet again it may be that the dog has his own rightful place in
the universe, irrespective and independent of man, and that an injury
done to him is an insult to the Creator.


Jungle Night

By William Beebe


Within gun-reach in front of me trudged my little Akawai Indian hunter.
He turned his head suddenly, his ears catching some sound which mine had
missed, and I saw that his profile was rather like that of Dante.
Instantly the thought spread and the simile deepened. Were we two not
all alone? and this unearthly hour and light.--Then I chuckled softly,
but the silence that the chuckle shattered shrank away and made it a
loud, coarse sound, so that I involuntarily drew in my breath. But it
was really amusing, the thought of Dante setting out on a hunt for
kinkajous and giant armadillos. Jeremiah looked at me wonderingly, and
we went on in silence. And for the next mile Dante vanished from my
thoughts and I mused upon the sturdy little red man. Jeremiah was his
civilized name; he would never tell me his real one. It seemed so
unsuited to him that I thought up one still less appropriate and called
him Nupee--which is the three-toed sloth; and in his quiet way he saw
the humor of it, for a more agile human being never lived.

Nupee's face was unclouded, but his position as hunter to our expedition
had brought decisions and responsibilities which he had not known
before. The simple life,--the unruffled existence in the little open
_benab_, with hammock, cassava field, and an occasional hunt,--this was
of the past. A wife had come, slipping quietly into his life,
Indian-fashion; and now, before the baby arrived, decisions had to be
made. Nupee longed for some store shoes and a suit of black clothes. He
had owned a big _benab_ which he himself had built; but a godmother,
like the cowbird in a warbler's nest, had gradually but firmly ousted
him and had filled it with diseased relatives, so that it was unpleasant
to visit. He now, to my knowledge, owned a single shirt and a pair of
short trousers.

The shoes were achieved. I detected in him qualities which I knew that I
should find in some one, as I do on every expedition, and I made him
perform some unnecessary labor and gave him the shoes. But the clothes
would cost five dollars, a month's wages, and he had promised to get
married--white-fashion--in another month, and that would consume several
times five dollars. I did not offer to help him decide. His Akawai
marriage ceremony seemed not without honor, and as for its sincerity--I
had seen the two together. But my lips were sealed. I could not tell
him that a recementing of the ritual of his own tribe did not seem quite
the equal of a five-dollar suit of clothes. That was a matter for
individual decision.

But to-night I think that we both had put all our worries and sorrows
far away, and I memory as well; and I felt sympathy in the quiet, pliant
gait which carried him so swiftly over the sandy trail. I knew Nupee now
for what he was--the one for whom I am always on the lookout, the
exceptional one, the super-servant, worthy of friendship as an equal. I
had seen his uncle and his cousins. They were Indians, nothing more.
Nupee had slipped into the place left vacant for a time by Aladdin, and
by Satán and Shimosaka, by Drojak and Trujillo--all exceptional, all
faithful, all servants first and then friends. I say 'for a time'--for
they all hoped, and I think still hope with me, that we shall meet and
travel and camp together again, whether in the Cinghalese thorn-bush, or
Himalayan dâks, in Dyak canoes or among the camphor groves of

Nupee and I had not been thrown together closely. This had proved a
static expedition, settled in one place, with no dangers to speak of, no
real roughing it, and we met only after each hunting trip. But the magic
of a full moon had lured me from my laboratory table, and here we were,
we two, plodding junglewards, becoming better acquainted in silence than
I have often achieved with much talk.

It was nearly midnight. We traversed a broad trail of white sand,
between lines of saplings of pale-barked rubber trees, flooded,
saturated, with milky-gray light. Not a star appeared in the cloudless
sky, which, in contrast to the great silver moon-plaque, was blue-black.
These open sandy stretches, so recently etched into what had been
primitive jungle, were too glowing with light for most of the nocturnal
creatures who, in darkness, flew and ran and hunted about in them. And
the lovers of twilight were already come and gone. The stage was vacant
save for one actor--the nighthawk of the silvery collar, whose eerie
_wheeeo!_ or more leisurely and articulate _who-are-you?_ was queried
from stump and log. There was in it the same liquid tang, the virile
ringing of skates on ice, which enriches the cry of the whip-poor-will
in our country lanes.

Where the open trail skirted a hillside we came suddenly upon a great
gathering of these goat-suckers, engaged in some strange midnight revel.
Usually they roost and hunt and call in solitude, but here at least
forty were collected on the white sand within an area of a few yards. We
stopped and watched. They were dancing--or, rather, popping, as corn
pops in a hopper. One after another, or a half dozen at a time, they
bounced up a foot or two from the ground and flopped back, at the
instant of leaving and returning uttering a sudden, explosive _wop!_
This they kept up unceasingly for the five minutes we gave to them, and
our passage interrupted them for only a moment. Later we passed single
birds which popped and wopped in solitary state; whether practicing, or
snobbishly refusing to perform in public, only they could tell. It was a
scene not soon forgotten.

Suddenly before us rose the jungle, raw-edged, with border zone of
bleached, ashamed trunks and lofty branches white as chalk, of dead and
dying trees. For no jungle tree, however hardy, can withstand the
blasting of violent sun after the veiling of emerald foliage is torn
away. As the diver plunges beneath the waves, so, after one glance
backward over the silvered landscape, I passed at a single stride into
what seemed by contrast inky blackness, relieved by the trail ahead,
which showed as does a ray of light through closed eyelids. As the
chirruping rails climbed among the roots of the tall cat-tails out
yonder, so we now crept far beneath the level of the moonlit foliage.
The silvery landscape had been shifted one hundred, two hundred feet
above the earth. We had become lords of creation in name alone,
threading our way humbly among the fungi and toad-stools, able only to
look aloft and wonder what it was like. And for a long time no voice
answered to tell us whether any creature lived and moved in the

The tropical jungle by day is the most wonderful place in the world. At
night I am sure it is the most weirdly beautiful of all places outside
the world. For it is primarily unearthly, unreal; and at last I came to
know why. In the light of the full moon it was rejuvenated. The simile
of theatrical scenery was always present to the mind, the illusion lying
especially in the completeness of transformation from the jungle by
daylight. The theatrical effect was heightened by the sense of being in
some vast building. This was due to the complete absence of any breath
of air. Not a leaf moved; even the pendulous air-roots reaching down
their seventy-foot plummets for the touch of soil did not sway a hair's
breadth. The throb of the pulse set the rhythm for one's steps. The
silence, for a time, was as perfect as the breathlessness. It was a
wonderfully ventilated amphitheatre; the air was as free from any
feeling of tropical heat, as it lacked all crispness of the north. It
was exactly the temperature of one's skin. Heat and cold were for the
moment as unthinkable as wind.

One's body seemed wholly negligible. In soft padding moccasins and easy
swinging gait, close behind my Indian hunter, and in such khaki browns
that my body was almost invisible to my own downward glance, I was
conscious only of the play of my senses: of two at first, sight and
smell; later, of hearing. The others did not exist. We two were
unattached, impersonal, moving without effort or exertion. It was magic,
and I was glad that I had only my Akawai for companion, for it was magic
that a word would have shattered. Yet there was this wonderfully
satisfying thing about it, that most magic lacks: it exists at present,
to-day, perhaps, at least once a month, and I know that I shall
experience it again. When I go to the window and look out upon the city
night, I find all extraneous light emaciated and shattered by the blare
of gas and electricity, but from one upreaching tower I can see
reflected a sheen which is not generated in any power-house of earth.
Then I know that within the twenty-four hours the _terai_ jungles of
Garhwal, the tree-ferns of Pahang, and the mighty _moras_ which now
surround us, were standing in silvery silence and in the peace which
only the wilderness knows.

I soon took the lead and slackened the pace to a slow walk. Every few
minutes we stood motionless, listening with mouth as well as ears. For
no one who has not listened in such silence can realize how important
the mouth is. Like the gill of old which gave it origin, our ear has
still an entrance inward as well as outward, and the sweep of breath and
throb of the blood are louder than we ever suspect. When at an opera or
concert I see some one sitting rapt, listening with open mouth, I do not
think of it as ill-bred. I know it for unconscious and sincere
absorption based on an excellent physical reason.

It was early spring in the tropics; insect life was still in the
gourmand stage, or that of pupal sleep. The final period of pipe and
fiddle had not yet arrived, so that there was no hum from the
underworld. The flow of sap and the spread of petals were no less silent
than the myriad creatures which, I knew, slumbered or hunted on every
side. It was as if I had slipped back one dimension in space and walked
in a shadow world. But these shadows were not all colorless. Although
the light was strained almost barren by the moon mountains, yet the glow
from the distant lava and craters still kept something of color, and the
green of the leaves, great and small, showed as a rich dark olive. The
afternoon's rain had left each one filmed with clear water, and this
struck back the light as polished silver. There was no tempered
illumination. The trail ahead was either black, or a solid sheet of
light. Here and there in the jungle on each side, where a tree had
fallen, or a flue of clear space led moonwards, the effect was of cold
electric light seen through trees in city parks. When such a shaft
struck down upon us, it surpassed simile. I have seen old paintings in
Belgian cathedrals of celestial light which now seems less imaginary.

At last the silence was broken, and like the first breath of the
trade-wind which clouds the Mazaruni surface, the mirror of silence was
never quite clear again--or so it seemed. My northern mind, stored with
sounds of memory, never instinctively accepted a new voice of the jungle
for what it was. Each had to go through a reference clearing-house of
sorts. It was like the psychological reaction to words or phrases. Any
strange wail or scream striking suddenly upon my ear instantly
crystallized some vision of the past--some circumstance or adventure
fraught with similar sound. Then, appreciably as a second thought, came
the keen concentration of every sense to identify this new sound, to
hear it again, to fix it in mind with its character and its meaning.
Perhaps at some distant place and time, in utterly incongruous
surroundings, it may in turn flash into consciousness--a memory-simile
stimulated by some sound of the future.


I stood in a patch of moonlight listening to the baying of a hound--or
so I thought: that musical ululation which links man's companion
wolf-wards. Then I thought of the packs of wild hunting dogs, the
dreaded 'warracabra tigers,' and I turned to the Indian at my elbow,
full of hopeful expectation. With his quiet smile he whispered,
'Kunama,' and I knew I had heard the giant tree-frog of Guiana--a frog
of size and voice well in keeping with these mighty jungles. I knew
these were powerful _beenas_ with the Indians, tokens of good hunting,
and every fortunate _benab_ would have its dried mummy frog hung up with
the tail of the giant armadillo and other charms. Well might these
batrachians arouse profound emotions among the Indians, familiar as they
are with the strange beings of the forest. I could imagine the great
goggle-eyed fellow sprawled high near the roof of the jungle, clutching
the leaves with his vacuum-cupped toes. The moonlight would make him
ghostly--a pastel frog; but in the day he flaunted splashes of azure and
green on his scarlet body.

At a turn in the trail we squatted and waited for what the jungle might
send of sight or sound. And in whispers Nupee told me of the big frog
_kunama_, and its ways. It never came to the ground, or even descended
part way down the trees; and by some unknown method of distillation it
made little pools of its own in deep hollows, and there lived. And this
water was thick like honey and white like milk, and when stirred became
reddish. Besides which, it was very bitter. If a man drank of it,
forever after he hopped each night and clasped all the trees which he
encountered, endlessly endeavoring to ascend them and always failing.
And yet, if he could once manage to reach a pool of _kunama_ water in an
uncut tree and drink, his manhood would return and his mind be healed.

When the Indians desired this _beena_, they marked a tree whence a frog
called at night, and in the daytime cut it down. Forming a big circle,
they searched and found the frog, and forthwith smoked it and rubbed it
on arrows and bow before they went out. I listened gravely and found
that it all fitted in with the magic of the night. If an Indian had
appeared down the trail, hopping endlessly and gripping the trunks,
gazing upward with staring eyes, I should not have thought it more
strange than the next thing that really happened.

We had settled on our toes in another squatting-place--a dark aisle with
only scattered flecks of light. The silence and breathlessness of the
moon-craters could have been no more complete than that which enveloped
us. My eye wandered from spot to spot, when suddenly I began to think of
that great owl-like goatsucker, the 'poor-me-one.' We had shot one at
Kalacoon a month before and no others had called since, and I had not
thought of the species again. Quite without reason I began to think of
the bird, of its wonderful markings, of the eyes which years ago in
Trinidad I had made to glow like iridescent globes in the light of a
flash--and then a poor-me-one called behind us, not fifty feet away.
Even this did not seem strange among these surroundings. It was an
interesting happening, one which I have experienced many times in my
life. It may have been just another coincidence. I am quite certain it
was not. In any event it was a Dantesque touch, emphasized by the
character of the call--the wail of a lost soul being as good a simile as
any other. It started as a high, trembling wail, the final cry being
lost in the depths of whispered woe:--







Nupee never moved; only his lips formed the name by which he knew
it--_kalawoe_. Whatever else characterized the sounds of the jungle at
night, none became monotonous or common. Five minutes later the great
bird called to us from far, far away, as if from another round of
purgatory--an eerie lure to enter still deeper into the jungle depths.
We never heard it again.

Nature seems to have apportioned the voices of many of her creatures
with sensitive regard for their environment. Sombre voices seem
fittingly to be associated with subdued light, and joyous notes with the
blaze of sunlit twigs and open meadows. A bobolink's bubbling carol is
unthinkable in a jungle, and the strain of a wood pewee on a sunny
hillside would be like an organ playing dance-music. This is even more
pronounced in the tropics, where, quite aside from any mental
association on my part, the voices and calls of the jungle reflect the
qualities of that twilight world. The poor-me-one proves too much. He is
the very essence of night, his wings edged with velvet silence, his
plumage the mingled concentration of moss and lichens and dead wood.

I was about to rise and lead Nupee still farther into the gloom when the
jungle showed another mood--a silent whimsy, the humor of which I could
not share with the little red man. Close to my face, so near that it
startled me for a moment, over the curved length of a long, narrow
caladium leaf, there came suddenly two brilliant lights. Steadily they
moved onward, coming up into view for all the world like two tiny
headlights of a motor-car. They passed, and the broadside view of this
great elater was still absurdly like the profile of a miniature tonneau
with the top down. I laughingly thought to myself how perfect the
illusion would be if a red tail-light should be shown, when to my
amazement a rosy red light flashed out behind, and my bewildered eyes
all but distinguished a number! Naught but a tropical forest could
present such contrasts in such rapid succession as the poor-me-one and
this parody of man's invention.

I captured the big beetle and slid him into a vial, where in his disgust
he clicked sharply against the glass. The vial went into my pocket and
we picked up our guns and crept on. As we traversed a dark patch, dull
gleams like heat lightning flashed over the leaves, and, looking down, I
saw that my khaki was aglow from the illuminated insect within. This
betrayed every motion, so I wrapped the vial in several sheets of paper
and rolled it up in my handkerchief. The glow was duller but almost as
penetrating. At one time or another I have had to make use of all my
garments, from topee to moccasins, in order to confine captives armed
with stings, beaks, teeth, or fangs, but now I was at a complete loss. I
tried a gun-barrel with a handkerchief stopper, and found that I now
carried an excellent, long-handled flashlight. Besides, I might have
sudden use for the normal function of the gun. I had nothing
sufficiently opaque to quench those flaring headlights, and I had to own
myself beaten and release him. He spread his wings and flew swiftly
away, his red light glowing derisively; and even in the flood of pure
moonlight he moved within an aura which carried far through the jungle.
I knew that killing him was of no use, for a week after death from
chloroform I have seen the entire interior of a large insect box
brilliantly lighted by the glow of these wonderful candles, still
burning on the dead shoulders of the same kind of insect.

Twice, deeper in the jungle, we squatted and listened, and twice the
silence remained unbroken and the air unmoved. Happening to look up
through a lofty, narrow canyon of dark foliage, I was startled as by
some sudden sound by seeing a pure white cloud, moon-lit, low down, pass
rapidly across. It was first astounding, then unreal: a bit of
exceedingly poor work on the part of the property man, who had mixed the
hurricane scenery with that of the dog-days. Even the elements seemed to
have been laved with magic. The zone of high wind, with its swift-flying
clouds, must have been flowing like a river just above the motionless
foliage of the tree-tops.

This piece of ultra-unnaturalism seemed to break part of the spell and
the magic silence was lifted. Two frogs boomed again, close at hand, and
now all the hound similitude was gone, and in its place another, still
more strange, when we think of the goggle-eyed author far up in the
trees. The sound now was identical with the short cough or growl of a
hungry lion, and though I have heard the frogs many times since that
night, this resemblance never changed or weakened. It seemed as if the
volume, the roaring outburst, could come only from the throat of some
large, full-lunged mammal.

A sudden tearing rush from the trail-side, and ripping of vines and
shrubs, was mingled with deep, hoarse snorts, and we knew that we had
disturbed one of the big red deer--big only in comparison with the
common tiny brown brockets. A few yards farther the leaves rustled high
overhead, although no breath of wind had as yet touched the jungle. I
began a slow, careful search with my flashlight, and, mingled with the
splotches and specks of moonlight high overhead, I seemed to see scores
of little eyes peering down. But at last my faint electric beam found
its mark and evolved the first bit of real color which the jungle had
shown--always excepting the ruby tail-light. Two tiny red globes gleamed
down at us, and as they gleamed, moved without a sound, apparently
unattached, slowly through the foliage. Then came a voice, as wandering,
as impersonal as the eyes--a sharp, incisive _wheeeeeat!_ with a
cat-like timbre; and from the eyes and voice I reconstructed a night
monkey--a kinkajou.

Then another notch was slipped and the jungle for a time showed
something of the exuberance of its life. A paca leaped from its meal of
nuts and bounced away with quick, repeated pats; a beetle with wings
tuned to the bass clef droned by; some giant tree-cricket tore the
remaining intervals of silence to shreds with unmuted wing-fiddles,
_cricks_ so shrill and high that they well-nigh passed beyond the upper
register of my ear out into silence again. The roar of another frog was
comforting to my ear-drum.

Then silence descended again, and hours passed in our search for sound
or smell of the animal we wished chiefest to find--the giant armadillo.
These rare beings have a distinct odor. Months of work in the open had
sharpened my nostrils so that on such a tramp as this they were not much
inferior to those of Nupee. This sense gave me as keen pleasure as eye
or ear, and furnished quite as much information. The odors of city and
civilization seemed very far away: gasolene, paint, smoke, perfumery,
leather--all these could hardly be recalled. And how absurd seemed
society's unwritten taboo on discussion of this admirable but pitifully
degenerate sense! Why may you look at your friend's books, touch his
collection of _netsukés_, listen to his music, yet dare sniff at naught
but his blossoms!

In the open spaces of the earth, and more than anywhere in this
conservatory of unblown odors, we come more and more to appreciate and
envy a dog's sensitive muzzle. Here we sniffed as naturally as we turned
ear, and were able to recognize many of our nasal impressions, and even
to follow a particularly strong scent to its source. Few yards of trail
but had their distinguishable scent, whether violent, acrid smell or
delectable fragrance. Long after a crab-jackal had passed, we noted the
stinging, bitter taint in the air; and now and then the pungent wake of
some big jungle-bug struck us like a tangible barrier.

The most tantalizing odors were the wonderfully delicate and penetrating
ones from some great burst of blossoms, odors heavy with sweetness,
which seeped down from vine or tree high overhead, wholly invisible from
below even in broad daylight. These odors remained longest in memory,
perhaps because they were so completely the product of a single sense.
There were others too, which were unforgettable, because, like the voice
of the frog, they stirred the memory a fraction before they excited
curiosity. Such I found the powerful musk from the bed of leaves which a
fawn had just left. For some reason this brought vividly to mind the
fearful compound of smells arising from the decks of Chinese junks.


Along the moonlit trail there came wavering whiffs of orchids, ranging
from attar of roses and carnations to the pungence of carrion, the
latter doubtless distilled from as delicate and as beautiful blossoms as
the former. There were, besides, the myriad and bewildering smells of
sap, crushed leaves, and decaying wood; acrid, sweet, spicy, and
suffocating, some like musty books, others recalling the paint on the
Noah's Ark of one's nursery.

But the scent of the giant armadillo eluded us. When we waded through
some new, strange odor I looked back at Nupee, hoping for some sign that
it was the one we sought. But that night the great armored creatures
went their way and we ours, and the two did not cross. Nupee showed me a
track at the trail-side made long ago, as wide and deep as the spoor of
a dinosaur, and I fingered it reverently as I would have touched the
imprint of a recently alighted pterodactyl, taking care not to spoil the
outlines of the huge claw-marks. All my search for him had been in vain
thus far, though I had been so close upon his trail as to have seen
fresh blood. I had made up my mind not to give up, but it seemed as if
success must wait for another year.

We watched and called the ghostly kinkajous and held them fascinated
with our stream of light; we aroused unnamable creatures which squawked
companionably at us and rustled the tree-top leaves; we listened to the
whispered rush of passing vampires skimming our faces and were soothed
by the hypnotic droning hum which beetles left in their swift wake.
Finally we turned and circled through side trails so narrow and so dark
that we walked with outstretched arms, feeling for the trunks and
lianas, choosing a sloth's gait and the hope of new adventures rather
than the glare of my flash on our path.

When we entered Kalacoon trail, we headed toward home. Within sight of
the first turn a great black branch of a tree had recently fallen across
the trail in a patch of moonlight. Before we reached it, the branch had
done something it should not have done--it had straightened slightly. We
strained our eyes to the utmost but could not, in this eerie light, tell
head from tail end of this great serpent. It moved very slowly, and with
a motion which perfectly confounded our perception. Its progress seemed
no faster than the hour hand of a watch, but we knew that it moved, yet
so close to the white sand that the whole trail seemed to move with it.
The eye refused to admit any motion except in sudden shifts, like widely
separated films of a motion-picture. For minute after minute it seemed
quiescent; then we would blink and realize that it was two feet higher
up the bank. One thing we could see--a great thickening near the centre
of the snake: it had fed recently and to repletion, and slowly it was
making its way to some hidden lair, perhaps to lie motionless until
another moon should silver the jungle. Was there any stranger life in
the world?

Whether it was a giant bushmaster or a constrictor, we could not tell in
the diffused light. I allowed it to go unharmed, for the spell of
silence and the jungle night was too strongly woven to be shattered
again by the crash of gun or rifle. Nupee had been quite willing to
remain behind, and now, as so often with my savage friends, he looked at
me wonderingly. He did not understand and I could not explain. We were
at one in the enjoyment of direct phenomena; we could have passed months
of intimate companionship in the wilds as I had done with his
predecessors; but at the touch of abstract things, of letting a deadly
creature live for any reason except for lack of a gun--then they looked
at me always with that puzzled look, that straining to grasp the
something which they knew must be there. And at once always followed
instant acceptance, unquestioning, without protest. The transition was
smooth, direct, complete: the sahib had had opportunity to shoot; he had
not done so; what did the sahib wish to do now--to squat longer or to go

We waited for many minutes at the edge of a small glade, and the event
which seemed most significant to me was in actual spectacle one of the
last of the night's happenings. I sat with chin on knees,
coolie-fashion--a position which, when once mastered, and with muscles
trained to withstand the unusual flexion for hour after hour, is one of
the most valuable assets of the wilderness lover and the watcher of wild
things. It enables one to spend long periods of time in the lowest of
umbrella tents, or to rest on wet ground or sharp stones where actual
sitting down would be impossible. Thus is one insulated from _bêtes
rouges_ and enthusiastic ants whose sole motto is eternal preparedness.
Thus too one slips, as it were, under the visual guard of human-shy
creatures, whose eyes are on the lookout for their enemy at human
height. From such a position, a single upward leap prepares one
instantly for advance or retreat, either of which manoeuvres is well
within instant necessity at times. Then there were always the two
positions to which one could change if occasion required--flat-footed,
with arm-pits on knees, or on the balls of the feet with elbows on
knees. Thus is every muscle shifted and relaxed.

Squatting is one of the many things which a white man may learn from
watching his _shikarees_ and guides, and which, in the wilderness, he
may adopt without losing caste. We are a chair-ridden people, and dare
hardly even cross our knees in public. Yet how many of us delight in
sitting Buddha-fashion, or as near to it as we can attain, when the ban
of society is lifted! A chairless people, however, does not necessarily
mean a more simple, primitive type. The Japanese method of sitting is
infinitely more difficult and complex than ours. The characters of our
weak-thighed, neolithic forbears are as yet too pronounced in our own
bodies for us to keep an upright position for long. Witness the
admirable admittance of this anthropological fact by the architects of
our subway cars, who know that only a tithe of their patrons will be
fortunate enough to find room on the cane-barked seats which have come
to take the place of the stumps and fallen logs of a hundred thousand
years ago. So they have thoughtfully strung the upper reaches of the
cars with imitation branches and swaying lianas, to which the
last-comers cling jealously, and swing with more or less of the grace of
their distant forbears. Their fur, to be sure, is rubbed thinner; nuts
and fruits have given place to newspapers and novels, and the roar and
odors are not those of the wind among the leaves and blossoms. But the
simile is amusing enough to end abruptly, and permit individual
imagination to complete it.

When I see an overtired waiter or clerk swaying from foot to foot like a
rocking elephant, I sometimes place the blame further back than
immediate impatience for the striking of the closing hour. It were more
true to blame the gentlemen whose habits were formed before caste, whose
activities preceded speech.

We may be certain that chairs will never go out of fashion. We are at
the end of bodily evolution in that direction. But to see a
white-draped, lanky Hindu, or a red-cloaked lama of the hills, quietly
fold up, no matter where he may be, is to witness the perfection of
chairless rest. One can read or write or doze comfortably, swaying
slightly with a bird's unconscious balance, or, as in my case at
present, wholly disarm suspicion on the part of the wild creatures by
sinking from the height of a man to that of a jungle deer. And still I
had lost nothing of the insulation which my moccasins provided from all
the inconveniences of the forest floor. Looking at Nupee after this rush
of chaotic thoughts which came between jungle happenings, I chuckled as
I hugged my knees, for I knew that Nupee had noticed and silently
considered my little accomplishment, and that he approved, and I knew
that I had acquired merit in his sight. Thus may we revel in the
approval of our super-servants, but they must never know it.

From this eulogy of squatting, my mind returned to the white light of
the glade. I watched the motionless leaves about me, many of them
drooping and rich maroon by daylight, for they were just unbudded.
Reaching far into the dark mystery of the upper jungle stretched the
air-roots, held so straight by gravity, so unheeding of the whirling of
the planet through space. Only one mighty liana--a monkey-ladder--had
revolted against this dominance of the earth's pull and writhed and
looped upon itself in fantastic whorls, while along its length rippled
ever the undulations which mark this uneasy growth, this crystallized
Saint Vitus plant.

A momentary shiver of leaves drew our eyes to the left, and we began to
destroy the optical images evolved by the moon-shadows and to seek the
small reality which we knew lived and breathed somewhere on that long
branch. Then a sharp crack like a rifle lost whatever it was to us
forever, and we half leaped to our feet as something swept downward
through the air and crashed length after length among the plants and
fallen logs. The branches overhead rocked to and fro, and for many
minutes, like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption, came a shower, first
of twigs and swirling leaves, then of finer particles, and lastly of
motes which gleamed like silver dust as they sifted down to the trail.
When the air cleared I saw that the monkey-ladder had vanished and I
knew that its yards upon yards of length lay coiled and crushed among
the ferns and sprouting palms of the jungle floor. It seemed most
fitting that the vegetable kingdom, whose silence and majesty gave to
the jungle night its magic qualities, should have contributed this
memorable climax.

Long before the first Spaniard sailed up the neighboring river, the
monkey-ladder had thrown its spirals aloft, and through all the
centuries, all the years, it had seen no change wrought beneath it. The
animal trail was trod now and then by Indian hunters, and lately we had
passed several times. The sound of our guns was less than the crashing
fall of an occasional forest tree. Now, with not a leaf moved by the
air, with only the two of us squatting in the moonlight for audience,
the last cell had given way. The sap could no longer fight the decay
which had entered its heart; and at the appointed moment, the moment set
by the culmination of a greater nexus of forces than our human mind
could ever hope to grasp, the last fibre parted and the massive growth

In the last few minutes, as it hung suspended, gracefully spiraled in
the moonlight, it had seemed as perfect as the new-sprouted _moras_ at
my feet. As I slowly walked out of the jungle I saw in this the
explanation of the simile of artificial scenery, of all the strange
magic which had come to me as I entered. The alchemy of moonlight turned
all the jungle to perfect growth, growth at rest. In the silvery light
was no trace of gnawing worm, of ravening ant, or corroding fungus. The
jungle was rejuvenated and made a place more wonderful than any
fairyland of which I have read or which I have conceived. The jungle by
day, as I have said--that, too, is wonderful. We may have two friends,
quite unlike in character, whom we love each for his own personality,
and yet it would be a hideous, an unthinkable thing to see one
transformed into the other.

So, with the mist settling down and tarnishing the great plaque of
silver, I left the jungle, glad that I could be far away before the
first hint of dawn came to mar the magic. Thus in memory I can keep the
dawn away until I return.

And sometime in the future, when the lure of the full moon comes, and I
answer, I shall be certain of finding the same silence, the same
wonderful light, and the waiting trees and the magic. But Nupee may not
be there. He will perhaps have slipped into memory, with Drojak and
Aladdin. And if I find no one as silently friendly as Nupee, I shall
have to watch alone through my jungle night.


The Devil Baby at Hull-House

By Jane Addams


The knowledge of the existence of the Devil Baby burst upon the
residents of Hull-House one day when three Italian women, with an
excited rush through the door, demanded that he be shown them. No amount
of denial convinced them that he was not there, for they knew exactly
what he was like, with his cloven hoofs, his pointed ears and diminutive
tail; moreover, the Devil Baby had been able to speak as soon as he was
born and was most shockingly profane.

The three women were but the forerunners of a veritable multitude; for
six weeks the streams of visitors from every part of the city and
suburbs to this mythical baby poured in all day long, and so far into
the night that the regular activities of the settlement were almost

The Italian version, with a hundred variations, dealt with a pious
Italian girl married to an atheist. Her husband vehemently tore a holy
picture from the bedroom wall, saying that he would quite as soon have a
devil in the house as that; whereupon the devil incarnated himself in
her coming child. As soon as the Devil Baby was born, he ran about the
table shaking his finger in deep reproach at his father, who finally
caught him and in fear and trembling brought him to Hull-House. When the
residents there, in spite of the baby's shocking appearance, wishing to
save his soul, took him to church for baptism, they found that the shawl
was empty, and the Devil Baby, fleeing from the holy water, ran lightly
over the backs of the pews.

The Jewish version, again with variations, was to the effect that the
father of six daughters had said before the birth of a seventh child
that he would rather have a devil in the house than another girl,
whereupon the Devil Baby promptly appeared.

Save for a red automobile which occasionally figured in the story, and a
stray cigar which, in some versions, the newborn child snatched from his
father's lips, the tale might have been fashioned a thousand years ago.

Although the visitors to the Devil Baby included people of every degree
of prosperity and education,--even physicians and trained nurses who
assured us of their scientific interest,--the story constantly
demonstrated the power of an old wives' tale among thousands of people
in modern society who are living in a corner of their own, their vision
fixed, their intelligence held by some iron chain of silent habit. To
such primitive people the metaphor apparently is still the very 'stuff
of life'; or, rather, no other form of statement reaches them, and the
tremendous tonnage of current writing for them has no existence. It was
in keeping with their simple habits that the reputed presence of the
Devil Baby at Hull-House did not reach the newspapers until the fifth
week of his sojourn--after thousands of people had already been informed
of his whereabouts by the old method of passing news from mouth to

During the weeks of excitement it was the old women who really seemed to
have come into their own, and perhaps the most significant result of the
incident was the reaction of the story upon them. It stirred their minds
and memories as with a magic touch; it loosened their tongues and
revealed the inner life and thoughts of those who are so often
inarticulate. These old women enjoyed a moment of triumph, as if they
had made good at last and had come into a region of sanctions and
punishments which they understood.

Throughout six weeks, as I went about Hull-House, I would hear a voice
at the telephone repeating for the hundredth time that day, 'No, there
is no such baby'; 'No, we never had it here'; 'No, he couldn't have seen
it for fifty cents'; 'We didn't send it anywhere because we never had
it'; 'I don't mean to say that your sister-in-law lied, but there must
be some mistake'; 'There is no use getting up an excursion from
Milwaukee, for there isn't any Devil Baby at Hull-House'; 'We can't
give reduced rates because we are not exhibiting anything'; and so on
and on. As I came near the front door, I would catch snatches of
arguments that were often acrimonious: 'Why do you let so many people
believe it, if it isn't here?' 'We have taken three lines of cars to
come, and we have as much right to see it as anybody else'; 'This is a
pretty big place, of course you could hide it easy enough'; 'What you
saying that for--are you going to raise the price of admission?' We had
doubtless struck a case of what the psychologists call the 'contagion of
emotion,' added to that 'æsthetic sociability' which impels any one of
us to drag the entire household to the window when a procession comes
into the street or a rainbow appears in the sky.

But the Devil Baby of course was worth many processions and rainbows,
and I will confess that, as the empty show went on day after day, I
quite revolted against such a vapid manifestation of an admirable human
trait. There was always one exception, however: whenever I heard the
high eager voices of old women, I was irresistibly interested, and left
anything I might be doing in order to listen to them.


Perhaps my many talks with these aged visitors crystallized thoughts and
impressions that I had been receiving through years; or the tale itself
may have ignited a fire, as it were, whose light illumined some of my
darkest memories of neglected and uncomfortable old age, of old peasant
women who had ruthlessly probed into the ugly depths of human nature in
themselves and others. Many of them who came to see the Devil Baby had
been forced to face tragic human experiences; the powers of brutality
and horror had had full scope in their lives, and for years they had had
acquaintance with disaster and death. Such old women do not shirk life's
misery by feeble idealism, for they are long past the stage of
make-believe. They relate without flinching the most hideous
experiences. 'My face has had this queer twist for now nearly sixty
years; I was ten when it got that way, the night after I saw my father
do my mother to death with his knife.' 'Yes, I had fourteen children;
only two grew to be men and both of them were killed in the same
explosion. I was never sure they brought home the right bodies.' But
even the most hideous sorrows which the old women related had apparently
subsided into the paler emotion of ineffectual regret, after Memory had
long done her work upon them; the old people seemed, in some
unaccountable way, to lose all bitterness and resentment against life,
or rather they were so completely without it that they must have lost it
long since.

Perhaps those women, because they had come to expect nothing more from
life and had perforce ceased from grasping and striving, had obtained,
if not renunciation, at least that quiet endurance which allows the
wounds of the spirit to heal. Through their stored-up habit of
acquiescence, they vouchsafed a fleeting glimpse of that translucent
wisdom so often embodied in old women, but so difficult to portray. I
recall a conversation with one of them, a woman whose fine mind and
indomitable spirit I had long admired; I had known her for years, and
yet the recital of her sufferings, added to those which the Devil Baby
had already induced other women to tell me, pierced me afresh.

'I had eleven children, some born in Bohemia and some born here; nine of
them boys; all of the children died when they were little, but my dear
Liboucha, you know all about her. She died last winter in the insane
asylum. She was only twelve years old when her father, in a fit of
delirium tremens, killed himself after he had chased us around the room
trying to kill us first. She saw it all; the blood splashed on the wall
stayed in her mind the worst; she shivered and shook all that night
through, and the next morning she had lost her voice, couldn't speak out
loud for terror. After a while her voice came back, although it was
never very natural, and she went to school again. She seemed to do as
well as ever and was awful pleased when she got into High School. All
the money we had, I earned scrubbing in a public dispensary, although
sometimes I got a little more by interpreting for the patients, for I
know three languages, one as well as the other. But I was determined
that, whatever happened to me, Liboucha was to be educated. My husband's
father was a doctor in the old country, and Liboucha was always a clever
child. I wouldn't have her live the kind of life I had, with no use for
my mind except to make me restless and bitter. I was pretty old and worn
out for such hard work, but when I used to see Liboucha on a Sunday
morning, ready for church, in her white dress with her long yellow hair
braided round her beautiful pale face, lying there in bed as I
was,--being brought up a freethinker and needing to rest my aching bones
for the next week's work,--I'd feel almost happy, in spite of

'But of course no such peace could last in my life; the second year at
High School, Liboucha began to seem different and do strange things. You
know the time she wandered away for three days and we were all wild with
fright, although a kind woman had taken her in and no harm came to her.
I could never be easy after that; she was always gentle, but she was
awful sly about running away, and at last I had to send her to the
asylum. She stayed there off and on for five years, but I saw her every
week of my life and she was always company for me, what with sewing for
her, washing and ironing her clothes, cooking little things to take out
to her and saving a bit of money to buy fruit for her. At any rate, I
had stopped feeling so bitter, and got some comfort out of seeing the
one thing that belonged to me on this side of the water, when all of a
sudden she died of heart-failure, and they never took the trouble to
send for me until the next day.'

She stopped, as if wondering afresh that the Fates could have been so
casual, but with a sudden illumination, as if she had been awakened out
of the burden and intensity of her restricted personal interests into a
consciousness of those larger relations which are, for the most part, so
strangely invisible. It was as if the young mother of the grotesque
Devil Baby, that victim of wrongdoing on the part of others, had
revealed to this tragic woman, much more clearly than soft words had
ever done, that the return of a deed of violence upon the head of the
innocent is inevitable; as if she had realized that, although she was
destined to walk all the days of her life with that piteous multitude
who bear the undeserved wrongs of the world, she would walk henceforth
with a sense of companionship.

Among the visitors were pitiful old women who, although they had already
reconciled themselves to much misery, were still enduring more. 'You
might say it's a disgrace to have your son beat you up for the sake of a
bit of money you've earned by scrubbing,--your own man is
different,--but I haven't the heart to blame the boy for doing what he's
seen all his life; his father forever went wild when the drink was in
him and struck me to the very day of his death. The ugliness was born
in the boy as the marks of the devil was born in the poor child

This more primitive type embodies the eternal patience of those humble
toiling women who through the generations have been held of little
value, save as their drudgery ministered to their men. One of them
related her habit of going through the pockets of her drunken son every
pay-day, and complained that she had never got so little as the night
before, only twenty-five cents out of fifteen dollars he had promised
for the rent long overdue. 'I had to get that as he lay in the alley
before the door; I couldn't pull him in, and the copper who helped him
home left as soon as he heard me coming and pretended he didn't see me.
I have no food in the house nor coffee to sober him up with. I know
perfectly well that you will ask me to eat something here, but if I
can't carry it home, I won't take a bite nor a sup. I have never told
you so much before. Since one of the nurses said he could be arrested
for my nonsupport, I've been awfully close-mouthed. It's the foolish way
all the women in our street are talking about the Devil Baby that's
loosened my tongue--more shame to me.'

There are those, if possible more piteous still, who have become
absolutely helpless and can therefore no longer perform the household
services exacted from them. One last wish has been denied them. 'I hoped
to go before I became a burden, but it was not to be'; and the long
days of unwonted idleness are darkened by the haunting fear that 'they'
will come to think the burden too heavy and decide that the poorhouse is
'the best.' Even then there is no word of blame for undutiful children
or heedless grandchildren, for apparently all that is petty and
transitory falls away from austere old age; the fires are burned out,
resentments, hatreds, and even cherished sorrows have become actually
unintelligible. It is as if the horrors through which these old people
had passed had never existed for them; and, facing death as they are,
they seem anxious to speak only such words of groping wisdom as they can

This aspect of memory has never been more clearly stated than by Gilbert
Murray in his _Life of Euripides_. He tells us that the aged poet, when
he was officially declared to be one of 'the old men of Athens,' said,
'Even yet the age-worn minstrel can turn Memory into song'; and the
memory of which he spoke was that of history and tradition, rather than
his own. The aged poet turned into song even the hideous story of Medea,
transmuting it into 'a beautiful remote song about far-off children who
have been slain in legend, children who are now at peace and whose
ancient pain has become part mystery and part music. Memory--that Memory
who is the mother of the Muses--having done her work upon them.'

The vivid interest of so many old women in the story of the Devil Baby
may have been an unconscious, although powerful, testimony that tragic
experiences gradually become dressed in such trappings in order that
their spent agony may prove of some use to a world which learns at the
hardest; and that the strivings and sufferings of men and women long
since dead, their emotions no longer connected with flesh and blood, are
thus transmuted into legendary wisdom. The young are forced to heed the
warning in such a tale, although for the most part it is so easy for
them to disregard the words of the aged. That the old women who came to
visit the Devil Baby believed that the story would secure them a hearing
at home, was evident, and as they prepared themselves with every detail
of it, their old faces shone with a timid satisfaction. Their features,
worn and scarred by harsh living, even as effigies built into the floor
of an old church become dim and defaced by rough-shod feet, grew
poignant and solemn. In the midst of their double bewilderment, both
that the younger generation were walking in such strange paths and that
no one would listen to them, for one moment there flickered up that last
hope of a disappointed life, that it may at least serve as a warning
while affording material for exciting narrations.

Sometimes in talking to one of them, who was 'but a hair's breadth this
side of the darkness,' one realized that old age has its own expression
for the mystic renunciation of the world. The impatience with all
non-essentials, the craving to be free from hampering bonds and soft
conditions, was perhaps typified in our own generation by Tolstoi's last
impetuous journey, the light of his genius for a moment making
comprehensible to us that unintelligible impulse of the aged.

Often, in the midst of a conversation, one of these touching old women
would quietly express a longing for death, as if it were a natural
fulfillment of an inmost desire. Her sincerity and anticipation were so
genuine that I would feel abashed in her presence, ashamed to 'cling to
this strange thing that shines in the sunlight, and to be sick with love
for it.' Such impressions were in their essence transitory, but one
result from the hypothetical visit of the Devil Baby to Hull-House will,
I think, remain: a realization of the sifting and reconciling power
inherent in Memory, itself. The old women, with much to aggravate and
little to soften the habitual bodily discomforts of old age, exhibited
an emotional serenity so vast and reassuring that I found myself
perpetually speculating as to how soon the fleeting and petty emotions
which seem so unduly important to us now might be thus transmuted; at
what moment we might expect the inconsistencies and perplexities of life
to be brought under this appeasing Memory, with its ultimate power to
increase the elements of Beauty and Significance and to reduce, if not
to eliminate, stupidity and resentment.


As our visitors to the Devil Baby came day by day, it was gradually
evident that the simpler women were not moved wholly by curiosity, but
that many of them prized the story as a valuable instrument in the
business of living.

The legend exhibited all the persistence of one of those tales which
have doubtless been preserved through the centuries because of their
taming effects upon recalcitrant husbands and fathers. Shamefaced men
brought by their women-folk to see the baby but ill-concealed their
triumph when there proved to be no such visible sign of retribution for
domestic derelictions. On the other hand, numbers of men came by
themselves. One group from a neighboring factory, on their 'own time,'
offered to pay twenty-five cents, a half-dollar, two dollars apiece to
see the child, insisting that it must be at Hull-House because 'the
women-folks had seen it.' To my query as to whether they supposed we
would exhibit for money a poor little deformed baby, if one had been
born in the neighborhood, they replied, 'Sure, why not?' and, 'It
teaches a good lesson, too,' they added as an afterthought, or perhaps
as a concession to the strange moral standards of a place like
Hull-House. All the members of this group of hardworking men, in spite
of a certain swagger toward one another and a tendency to bully the
derelict showman, wore that hang-dog look betraying the sense of unfair
treatment which a man is so apt to feel when his womankind makes an
appeal to the supernatural. In their determination to see the child, the
men recklessly divulged much more concerning their motives than they had
meant to do, and their talk confirmed my impression that such a story
may still act as a restraining influence in that sphere of marital
conduct, which, next to primitive religion itself, we are told, has
always afforded the most fertile field for irrational tabus and savage

What story more than this could be calculated to secure sympathy for the
mother of too many daughters, and contumely for the irritated father?
The touch of mysticism, the supernatural sphere in which it was placed,
would render a man perfectly helpless.

The story of the Devil Baby, evolved to-day as it might have been
centuries before in response to the imperative needs of anxious wives
and mothers, recalled the theory that woman first fashioned the
fairy-story, that combination of wisdom and romance, in an effort to
tame her mate and to make him a better father to her children, until
such stories finally became a rude creed for domestic conduct, softening
the treatment that men accorded to women.

These first pitiful efforts of women, so wide-spread and powerful that
we have not yet escaped their influence, still cast vague shadows upon
the vast spaces of life, shadows that are dim and distorted because of
their distant origin. They remind us that for thousands of years women
had nothing to oppose against unthinkable brutality save 'the charm of
words,' no other implement with which to subdue the fiercenesses of the
world about them.

During the weeks that the Devil Baby drew multitudes of visitors to
Hull-House, my mind was opened to the fact that new knowledge derived
from concrete experience is continually being made available for the
guidance of human life; that humble women are still establishing rules
of conduct as best they may, to counteract the base temptations of a
man's world. Thousands of women, for instance, make it a standard of
domestic virtue that a man must not touch his pay envelope, but bring it
home unopened to his wife. High praise is contained in the phrase, 'We
have been married twenty years and he never once opened his own
envelope'; or covert blame in the statement, 'Of course he got to
gambling; what can you expect from a man who always opens his own pay?'

The women are so fatalistically certain of this relation of punishment
to domestic sin, of reward to domestic virtue, that when they talk about
it, as they so constantly did in connection with the Devil Baby, it
often sounds as if they were using the words of a widely known ritual.
Even the young girls seized upon it as a palpable punishment, to be
held over the heads of reckless friends. That the tale was useful was
evidenced by many letters similar to the anonymous epistle here given.

'me and my friends we work in talor shop and when we are going home on
the roby street car where we get off that car at blue island ave. we
will meet some fellows sitting at that street where they drink some beer
from pail, they keep look in cars all time and they will wait and see if
we will come sometimes we will have to work, but they will wait so long
they are tired and they don't care they get rest so long but a girl what
works in twine mill saw them talk with us we know her good and she say
what youse talk with old drunk man for we shall come to thier dance when
it will be they will tell us and we should know all about where to see
them that girl she say oh if you will go with them you will get devils
baby like some other girls did who we knows, she say Jane Addams she
will show one like that in Hull House if you will go down there we shall
come sometime and we will see if that is trouth we do not believe her
for she is friendly with them old men herself when she go out from her
work they will wink to her and say something else to. We will go down
and see you and make a lie from what she say.'


The story evidently held some special comfort for hundreds of forlorn
women, representatives of that vast horde of the denied and proscribed,
who had long found themselves confronted by those mysterious and
impersonal wrongs which are apparently nobody's fault but seem to be
inherent in the very nature of things.

Because the Devil Baby embodied an undeserved wrong to a poor mother,
whose tender child had been claimed by the forces of evil, his merely
reputed presence had power to attract to Hull-House hundreds of women
who had been humbled and disgraced by their children; mothers of the
feeble-minded, of the vicious, of the criminal, of the prostitute. In
their talk it was as if their long rôle of maternal apology and
protective reticence had at last broken down; as if they could speak out
freely because for once a man responsible for an ill-begotten child had
been 'met up with' and had received his deserts. Their sinister version
of the story was that the father of the Devil Baby had married without
confessing a hideous crime committed years before, thus basely deceiving
both his innocent young bride and the good priest who performed the
solemn ceremony; that the sin had become incarnate in his child, which,
to the horror of the young and trusting mother, had been born with all
the outward aspects of the devil himself.

As if drawn by a magnet, week after week, a procession of forlorn women
in search of the Devil Baby came to Hull-House from every part of the
city, issuing forth from the many homes in which dwelt 'the two
unprofitable goddesses, Poverty and Impossibility.' With an
understanding that was quickened perhaps by my own acquaintance with the
mysterious child, I listened to many tragic tales from the visiting
women: of premature births, 'because he kicked me in the side'; of
children maimed and burned, because 'I had no one to leave them with
when I went to work.' These women had seen the tender flesh of growing
little bodies given over to death because 'he wouldn't let me send for
the doctor,' or because 'there was no money to pay for the medicine.'
But even these mothers, rendered childless through insensate brutality,
were less pitiful than some of the others, who might well have cried
aloud of their children as did a distracted mother of her child
centuries ago,--

    That God should send this one thing more
    Of hunger and of dread, a door
    Set wide to every wind of pain!

Such was the mother of a feeble-minded boy who said, 'I didn't have a
devil baby myself, but I bore a poor "innocent," who made me fight
devils for twenty-three years.' She told of her son's experiences, from
the time the other little boys had put him up to stealing that they
might hide in safety and leave him to be found with 'the goods' on him,
until, grown into a huge man, he fell into the hands of professional
burglars; he was evidently the dupe and stool-pigeon of the vicious and
criminal until the very day he was locked into the State Penitentiary.
'If people played with him a little, he went right off and did anything
they told him to, and now he's been sent up for life. We call such
innocents "God's Fools" in the old country, but over here the Devil
himself gets them. I've fought off bad men and boys from the poor lamb
with my very fists; nobody ever came near the house except such like and
the police officers who were always arresting him.'

There were a goodly number of visitors, of the type of those to be found
in every large city, who are on the verge of nervous collapse or who
exhibit many symptoms of mental aberration and yet are sufficiently
normal to be at large most of the time and to support themselves by
drudgery which requires little mental effort, although the exhaustion
resulting from the work they are able to do is the one thing from which
they should be most carefully protected. One such woman, evidently
obtaining inscrutable comfort from the story of the Devil Baby even
after she had become convinced that we harbored no such creature, came
many times to tell of her longing for her son who had joined the army
some eighteen months before and was stationed in Alaska. She always
began with the same words. 'When spring comes and the snow melts so that
I know he could get out, I can hardly stand it. You know I was once in
the Insane Asylum for three years at a stretch, and since then I
haven't had much use of my mind except to worry with. Of course I know
that it is dangerous for me, but what can I do? I think something like
this: "The snow is melting, now he could get out, but his officers won't
let him off, and if he runs away he'll be shot for a deserter--either
way I'll never see him again; I'll die without seeing him"--and then I
begin all over again with the snow.' After a pause, she said, 'The
recruiting officer ought not to have taken him; he's my only son and I'm
a widow; it's against the rules, but he was so crazy to go that I guess
he lied a little. At any rate, the government has him now and I can't
get him back. Without this worry about him, my mind would be all right;
if he was here he would be earning money and keeping me and we would be
happy all day long.'

Recalling the vagabondish lad who had never earned much money and had
certainly never 'kept' his hard-working mother, I ventured to suggest
that, even if he were at home, he might not have worked these hard
times, that he might get into trouble and be arrested,--I did not need
to remind her that he had already been arrested twice,--that he was now
fed and sheltered and under discipline, and I added hopefully something
about seeing the world. She looked at me out of her withdrawn harried
eyes, as if I were speaking a foreign tongue. 'That wouldn't make any
real difference to me--the work, the money, his behaving well and all
that, if I could cook and wash for him; I don't need all the money I
earn scrubbing that factory; I only take bread and tea for supper, and I
choke over that, thinking of him.'


A sorrowful woman clad in heavy black, who came one day, exhibited such
a capacity for prolonged weeping that it was evidence in itself of the
truth of at least half her statement, that she had cried herself to
sleep every night of her life for fourteen years in fulfillment of a
'curse' laid upon her by an angry man that 'her pillow would be wet with
tears as long as she lived.' Her respectable husband had kept a shop in
the Red Light district, because he found it profitable to sell to the
men and women who lived there. She had kept house in the rooms 'over the
store,' from the time she was a bride newly come from Russia, and her
five daughters had been born there, but never a son to gladden her
husband's heart.

She took such a feverish interest in the Devil Baby that when I was
obliged to disillusion her, I found it hard to take away her comfort in
the belief that the Powers that Be are on the side of the woman, when
her husband resents too many daughters. But, after all, the birth of
daughters was but an incident in her tale of unmitigated woe, for the
scoldings of a disappointed husband were as nothing to the curse of a
strange enemy, although she doubtless had a confused impression that if
there was retribution for one in the general scheme of things, there
might be for the other.

When the weeping woman finally put the events of her disordered life in
some sort of sequence, it was clear that about fifteen years ago she had
reported to the police a vicious house whose back door opened into her
own yard. Her husband had forbidden her to do anything about it and had
said that it would only get them into trouble; but she had been made
desperate one day when she saw her little girl, then twelve years old,
come out of the door, gleefully showing her younger sister a present of
money. Because the poor woman had tried for ten years, without success,
to induce her husband to move from the vicinity of such houses, she was
certain that she could save her child only by forcing out 'the bad
people' from her own door-yard. She therefore made her one frantic
effort, found her way to the city hall, and there reported the house to
the chief himself. Of course, 'the bad people' 'stood in with the
police,' and nothing happened to them except, perhaps, a fresh levy of
blackmail; but the keeper of the house, beside himself with rage, made
the dire threat and laid the curse upon her. In less than a year from
that time he had enticed her daughter into a disreputable house in
another part of the district. The poor woman, ringing one doorbell after
another, had never been able to find her; but the girl's sisters, who in
time came to know where she was, had been dazzled by her mode of life.
The weeping mother was quite sure that two of her daughters, while still
outwardly respectable and 'working downtown,' earned money in the
devious ways which they had learned all about when they were little
children, although for the past five years the now prosperous husband
had allowed the family to live in a suburb where the two younger
daughters were 'growing up respectable.'

At moments it seemed possible that these simple women, representing an
earlier development, eagerly seized upon the story simply because it was
primitive in form and substance. Certainly one evening a long-forgotten
ballad made an unceasing effort to come to the surface of my mind, as I
talked to a feeble woman who, in the last stages of an incurable disease
from which she soon afterwards died, had been helped off the street-car
in front of Hull-House.

The ballad tells that the lover of a proud and jealous mistress, who
demanded as a final test of devotion that he bring her the heart of his
mother, had quickly cut the heart from his mother's breast and
impetuously returned to his lady bearing it upon a salver; but that,
when stumbling in his gallant haste, he stooped to replace upon the
silver plate his mother's heart which had rolled upon the ground, the
heart, still beating with tender solicitude, whispered the hope that her
child was not hurt.

The ballad itself was scarcely more exaggerated than the story of our
visitor that evening, who had made the desperate effort of a journey
from home in order to see the Devil Baby. I was familiar with her
vicissitudes: the shiftless drinking husband and the large family of
children, all of whom had brought her sorrow and disgrace; and I knew
that her heart's desire was to see again before she died her youngest
son, who was a life prisoner in the penitentiary. She was confident that
the last piteous stage of her disease would secure him a week's parole,
founding this forlorn hope upon the fact that 'they sometimes let them
out to attend a mother's funeral, and perhaps they'd let Joe come a few
days ahead; he could pay his fare afterwards from the insurance money.
It wouldn't take much to bury me.'

Again we went over the hideous story. Joe had violently quarreled with a
woman, the proprietor of the house in which his disreputable wife lived,
because she withheld from him a part of his wife's 'earnings,' and in
the altercation had killed her--a situation, one would say, which it
would be difficult for even a mother to condone. But not at all: her
thin gray face worked with emotion, her trembling hands restlessly
pulled at her shabby skirt as the hands of the dying pluck at the
sheets, but she put all the vitality she could muster into his defense.
She told us he had legally married the girl who supported him, 'although
Lily had been so long in that life that few men would have done it. Of
course such a girl must have a protector or everybody would fleece her;
poor Lily said to the day of her death that he was the kindest man she
ever knew, and treated her the whitest; that she herself was to blame
for the murder because she told on the old miser, and Joe was so
hot-headed she might have known that he would draw a gun for her.' The
gasping mother concluded, 'He was always that handsome and had such a
way. One winter when I was scrubbing in an office-building, I'd never
get home much before twelve o'clock; but Joe would open the door for me
just as pleasant as if he hadn't been waked out of a sound sleep.'

She was so triumphantly unconscious of the incongruity of a sturdy son
in bed while his mother earned his food, that her auditors said never a
word, and in silence we saw a hero evolved before our eyes: a defender
of the oppressed, the best beloved of his mother, who was losing his
high spirits and eating his heart out behind prison bars. He could well
defy the world even there, surrounded as he was by that invincible
affection which assures both the fortunate and unfortunate alike that we
are loved, not according to our deserts, but in response to some
profounder law.

This imposing revelation of maternal solicitude was an instance of what
continually happened in connection with the Devil Baby. In the midst of
the most tragic recitals there remained that something in the souls of
these mothers which has been called the great revelation of tragedy, or
sometimes the great illusion of tragedy--that which has power in its own
right to make life acceptable and at rare moments even beautiful.

At least, during the weeks when the Devil Baby seemed to occupy every
room in Hull-House, one was conscious that all human vicissitudes are in
the end melted down into reminiscence, and that a metaphorical statement
of those profound experiences which are implicit in human nature itself,
however crude in form the story may be, has a singular power of healing
the distracted spirit.

If it has always been the mission of literature to translate the
particular act into something of the universal, to reduce the element of
crude pain in the isolated experience by bringing to the sufferer a
realization that his is but the common lot, this mission may have been
performed by such stories as this for simple hard-working women, who,
after all, at any given moment compose the bulk of the women in the


Every Man's Natural Desire to be Somebody Else

By Samuel McChord Crothers


Several years ago a young man came to my study with a manuscript which
he wished me to criticize.

'It is only a little bit of my work,' he said modestly, 'and it will not
take you long to look it over. In fact it is only the first chapter, in
which I explain the Universe.'

I suppose that we have all had moments of sudden illumination when it
occurred to us that we had explained the Universe, and it was so easy
for us that we wondered why we had not done it before. Some thought
drifted into our mind and filled us with vague forebodings of
omniscience. It was not an ordinary thought, that explained only a
fragment of existence. It explained everything. It proved one thing and
it proved the opposite just as well. It explained why things are as they
are, and if it should turn out that they are not that way at all, it
would prove that fact also. In the light of our great thought chaos
seemed rational.

Such thoughts usually occur about four o'clock in the morning. Having
explained the Universe, we relapse into satisfied slumber. When, a few
hours later, we rise, we wonder what the explanation was.

Now and then, however, one of these highly explanatory ideas remains to
comfort us in our waking hours. Such a thought is that which I here
throw out, and which has doubtless at some early hour occurred to most
of my readers. It is that every man has a natural desire to be somebody

This does not explain the Universe, but it explains that perplexing part
of it which we call Human Nature. It explains why so many intelligent
people, who deal skillfully with matters of fact, make such a mess of it
when they deal with their fellow creatures. It explains why we get on as
well as we do with strangers, and why we do not get on better with our
friends. It explains why people are so often offended when we say nice
things about them, and why it is that, when we say harsh things about
them, they take it as a compliment. It explains why people marry their
opposites and why they live happily ever afterwards. It also explains
why some people don't. It explains the meaning of tact and its opposite.

The tactless person treats a person according to a scientific method as
if he were a thing. Now, in dealing with a thing, you must first find
out what it is, and then act accordingly. But with a person, you must
first find out what he is and then carefully conceal from him the fact
that you have made the discovery.

The tactless person can never be made to understand this. He prides
himself on taking people as they are without being aware that that is
not the way they want to be taken.

He has a keen eye for the obvious, and calls attention to it. Age, sex,
color, nationality, previous condition of servitude, and all the facts
that are interesting to the census-taker, are apparent to him and are
made the basis of his conversation. When he meets one who is older than
he, he is conscious of the fact, and emphasizes by every polite
attention the disparity in years. He has an idea that at a certain
period in life the highest tribute of respect is to be urged to rise out
of one chair and take another that is presumably more comfortable. It
does not occur to him that there may remain any tastes that are not
sedentary. On the other hand, he sees a callow youth and addresses
himself to the obvious callowness, and thereby makes himself thoroughly
disliked. For, strange to say, the youth prefers to be addressed as a
person of precocious maturity.

The literalist, observing that most people talk shop, takes it for
granted that they like to talk shop. This is a mistake. They do it
because it is the easiest thing to do, but they resent having attention
called to their limitations. A man's profession does not necessarily
coincide with his natural aptitude or with his predominant desire. When
you meet a member of the Supreme Court you may assume that he is gifted
with a judicial mind. But it does not follow that that is the only
quality of mind he has; nor that when, out of court, he gives you a
piece of his mind, it will be a piece of his judicial mind that he

My acquaintance with royalty is limited to photographs of royal groups,
which exhibit a high degree of domesticity. It would seem that the
business of royalty when pursued as a steady job becomes tiresome, and
that when they have their pictures taken they endeavor to look as much
like ordinary folks as possible--and they usually succeed.

The member of one profession is always flattered by being taken for a
skilled practitioner of another. Try it on your minister. Instead of
saying, 'That was an excellent sermon of yours this morning,' say, 'As I
listened to your cogent argument, I thought what a successful lawyer you
would have made.' Then he will say, 'I did think of taking to the law.'

If you had belonged to the court of Frederick the Great, you would have
proved a poor courtier indeed if you had praised His Majesty's
campaigns. Frederick knew that he was a Prussian general, but he wanted
to be a French literary man. If you wished to gain his favor, you
should have told him that in your opinion he excelled Voltaire.

We do not like to have too much attention drawn to our present
circumstances. They may be well enough in their way, but we can think of
something which would be more fitting for us. We have either seen better
days or we expect them.

Suppose you had visited Napoleon in Elba and had sought to ingratiate
yourself with him.

'Sire,' you would have said, 'this is a beautiful little empire of
yours, so snug and cosy and quiet. It is just such a domain as is suited
to a man in your condition. The climate is excellent. Everything is
peaceful. It must be delightful to rule where everything is arranged for
you and the details are taken care of by others. As I came to your
dominion I saw a line of British frigates guarding your shores. The
evidences of such thoughtfulness are everywhere.'

Your praise of his present condition would not have endeared you to
Napoleon. You were addressing him as the Emperor of Elba. In his own
eyes he was Emperor, though in Elba.

It is such a misapprehension which irritates any mature human being when
his environment is taken as the measure of his personality.

The man with a literal mind moves in a perpetual comedy of errors. It is
not a question of two Dromios. There are half a dozen Dromios under one

How casually introductions are made, as if it were the easiest thing in
the world to make two human beings acquainted! Your friend says, 'I want
you to know Mr. Stifflekin,' and you say that you are happy to know him.
But does either of you know the enigma that goes under the name of
Stifflekin? You may know what he looks like and where he resides and
what he does for a living. But that is all in the present tense. To
really know him you must not only know what he is but what he used to
be; what he used to think he was; what he used to think he ought to be
and might be if he worked hard enough. You must know what he might have
been if certain things had happened otherwise, and you must know what
might have happened otherwise if he had been otherwise. All these
complexities are a part of his own dim apprehension of himself. They are
what make him so much more interesting to himself than he is to any one

It is this consciousness of the inadequacy of our knowledge which makes
us so embarrassed when we offer any service to another. Will he take it
in the spirit in which it is given?

That was an awkward moment when Stanley, after all his hardships in his
search for Dr. Livingstone, at last found the Doctor by a lake in
Central Africa. Stanley held out his hand and said stiffly, 'Dr.
Livingstone, I presume?' Stanley had heroically plunged through the
equatorial forests to find Livingstone and to bring him back to
civilization. But Livingstone was not particularly anxious to be found,
and had a decided objection to being brought back to civilization. What
he wanted was a new adventure. Stanley did not find the real Livingstone
till he discovered that the old man was as young at heart as himself.
The two men became acquainted only when they began to plan a new
expedition to find the source of the Nile.


The natural desire of every man to be somebody else explains many of the
minor irritations of life. It prevents that perfect organization of
society in which every one should know his place and keep it. The desire
to be somebody else leads us to practice on work that does not strictly
belong to us. We all have aptitudes and talents that overflow the narrow
bounds of our trade or profession. Every man feels that he is bigger
than his job, and he is all the time doing what theologians call 'works
of supererogation.'

The serious-minded housemaid is not content to do what she is told to
do. She has an unexpended balance of energy. She wants to be a general
household reformer. So she goes to the desk of the titular master of the
house and gives it a thorough reformation. She arranges the papers
according to her idea of neatness. When the poor gentleman returns and
finds his familiar chaos transformed into a hateful order, he becomes a

The serious manager of a street railway company is not content with the
simple duty of transporting passengers cheaply and comfortably. He wants
to exercise the functions of a lecturer in an ethical culture society.
While the transported victim is swaying precariously from the end of a
strap he reads a notice urging him to practice Christian courtesy and
not to push. While the poor wretch pores over this counsel of
perfection, he feels like answering as did Junius to the Duke of
Grafton, 'My Lord, injuries may be atoned for and forgiven, but insults
admit of no compensation.'

A man enters a barber's shop with the simple desire of being shaved. But
he meets with the more ambitious desires of the barber. The serious
barber is not content with any slight contribution to human welfare. He
insists that his client shall be shampooed, manicured, massaged, steamed
beneath boiling towels, cooled off by electric fans and, while all this
is going on, that he shall have his boots blacked.

Have you never marveled at the patience of people in having so many
things done to them that they don't want, just to avoid hurting the
feelings of professional people who want to do more than is expected of
them? You watch the stoical countenance of the passenger in a Pullman
car as he stands up to be brushed. The chances are that he doesn't want
to be brushed. He would prefer to leave the dust on his coat rather than
to be compelled to swallow it. But he knows what is expected of him. It
is a part of the solemn ritual of traveling. It precedes the offering.

The fact that every man desires to be somebody else explains many of the
aberrations of artists and literary men. The painters, dramatists,
musicians, poets, and novelists are just as human as housemaids and
railway managers and porters. They want to do 'all the good they can to
all the people they can in all the ways they can.' They get tired of the
ways they are used to and like to try new combinations. So they are
continually mixing things. The practitioner of one art tries to produce
effects that are proper to another art.

A musician wants to be a painter and use his violin as if it were a
brush. He would have us see the sunset glories that he is painting for
us. A painter wants to be a musician and paint symphonies, and he is
grieved because the uninstructed cannot hear his pictures, although the
colors do swear at each other. Another painter wants to be an architect
and build up his picture as if it were made of cubes of brick. It looks
like brick-work, but to the natural eye it doesn't look like a picture.
A prose-writer gets tired of writing prose, and wants to be a poet. So
he begins every line with a capital letter, and keeps on writing prose.

You go to the theatre with the simple-minded Shakespearean idea that the
play's the thing. But the playwright wants to be a pathologist. So you
discover that you have dropped into a grewsome clinic. You sought
innocent relaxation, but you are one of the non-elect and have gone to
the place prepared for you. You must see the thing through. The fact
that you have troubles of your own is not a sufficient claim for

Or you take up a novel expecting it to be a work of fiction. But the
novelist has other views. He wants to be your spiritual adviser. He must
do something to your mind, he must rearrange your fundamental ideas, he
must massage your soul, and generally brush you off. All this in spite
of the fact that you don't want to be brushed off and set to rights. You
don't want him to do anything to your mind. It's the only mind you have
and you need it in your own business.


But if the desire of every man to be somebody else accounts for many
whimsicalities of human conduct and for many aberrations in the arts, it
cannot be lightly dismissed as belonging only to the realm of comedy. It
has its origin in the nature of things. The reason why every man wants
to be somebody else is that he can remember the time when he was
somebody else. What we call personal identity is a very changeable
thing, as all of us realize when we look over old photographs and read
old letters.

The oldest man now living is but a few years removed from the
undifferentiated germ-plasm, which might have developed into almost
anything. In the beginning he was a bundle of possibilities. Every
actuality that is developed means a decrease in the rich variety of
possibilities. In becoming one thing it becomes impossible to be
something else.

The delight in being a boy lies in the fact that the possibilities are
still manifold. The boy feels that he can be anything that he desires.
He is conscious that he has capacities that would make him a successful
banker. On the other hand, there are attractions in a life of adventure
in the South Seas. It would be pleasant to lie under a bread-fruit tree
and let the fruit drop into his mouth, to the admiration of the gentle
savages who would gather about him. Or he might be a saint--not a
commonplace modern saint who does chores and attends tiresome committee
meetings, but a saint such as one reads about, who gives away his rich
robes and his purse of gold to the first beggar he meets, and then goes
on his carefree way through the forest to convert interesting robbers.
He feels that he might practice that kind of unscientific charity, if
his father would furnish him with the money to give away.

But by and by he learns that making a success in the banking business is
not consistent with excursions to the South Seas or with the more
picturesque and unusual forms of saintliness. If he is to be in a bank
he must do as the bankers do.

Parents and teachers conspire together to make a man of him, which means
making a particular kind of man of him. All mental processes which are
not useful must be suppressed. The sum of their admonitions is that he
must pay attention. That is precisely what he is doing. He is paying
attention to a variety of things that escape the adult mind. As he
wriggles on the bench in the school-room, he pays attention to all that
is going on. He attends to what is going on out-of-doors; he sees the
weak points of his fellow pupils, against whom he is planning punitive
expeditions; and he is delightfully conscious of the idiosyncrasies of
the teacher. Moreover, he is a youthful artist and his sketches from
life give acute joy to his contemporaries when they are furtively passed

But the schoolmaster says sternly, 'My boy, you must learn to pay
attention; that is to say, you must not pay attention to so many things,
but you must pay attention to one thing, namely, the second declension.'

Now, the second declension is the least interesting thing in the room,
but unless he confines his attention to it he will never learn it.
Education demands narrowing of attention in the interest of efficiency.

A man may, by dint of application to a particular subject, become a
successful merchant or real-estate man or chemist or overseer of the
poor. But he cannot be all these things at the same time. He must make
his choice. Having in the presence of witnesses taken himself for better
or worse, he must, forsaking all others, cleave to that alone. The
consequence is that, by the time he is forty, he has become one kind of
a man, and is able to do one kind of work. He has acquired a stock of
ideas true enough for his purposes, but not so transcendentally true as
to interfere with his business. His neighbors know where to find him,
and they do not need to take a spiritual elevator. He does business on
the ground floor. He has gained in practicality, but has lost in the
quality of interestingness.

The old prophet declared that the young men dream dreams and the old men
see visions, but he did not say anything about the middle-aged men.
_They_ have to look after the business end.

But has the man whose working hours are so full of responsibilities
changed so much as he seems to have done? When he is talking shop is he
'all there'? I think not. There are elusive personalities that are in
hiding. As the rambling mansions of the old Catholic families had secret
panels opening into the 'priest's hole,' to which the family resorted
for spiritual comfort, so in the mind of the most successful man there
are secret chambers where are hidden his unsuccessful ventures, his
romantic ambitions, his unfulfilled promises. All that he dreamed of as
possible is somewhere concealed in the man's heart. He would not for the
world have the public know how much he cares for the selves that have
not had a fair chance to come into the light of day. You do not know a
man until you know his lost Atlantis, and his Utopia for which he still
hopes to set sail.

When Dogberry asserted that he was 'as pretty a piece of flesh as any is
in Messina,' and 'one that hath two gowns and everything handsome about
him,' he was pointing out what he deemed to be quite obvious. It was in
a more intimate tone that he boasted, 'and a fellow that hath had

When Julius Cæsar rode through the streets of Rome in his chariot, his
laurel crown seemed to the populace a symbol of his present greatness.
But gossip has it that Cæsar at that time desired to be younger than he
was, and that before appearing in public he carefully arranged his
laurel wreath so as to conceal the fact that he had had losses.

Much that passes for pride in the behavior of the great comes from the
fear of the betrayal of emotions that belong to a simpler manner of
life. When the sons of Jacob saw the great Egyptian officer to whom they
appealed turn away from them, they little knew what was going on. 'And
Joseph made haste, for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he
sought where to weep, and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.
And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself.' Joseph
didn't want to be a great man. He wanted to be human. It was hard to
refrain himself.


What of the lost arts of childhood, the lost audacities and ambitions
and romantic admirations of adolescence? What becomes of the sympathies
which make us feel our kinship to all sorts of people? What becomes of
the early curiosity in regard to things which were none of our business?
We ask as Saint Paul asked of the Galatians, 'Ye began well; who did
hinder you?'

The answer is not wholly to our discredit. We do not develop all parts
of our nature because we are not allowed to do so. Walt Whitman might
exult over the Spontaneous Me. But nobody is paid for being spontaneous.
A spontaneous switchman on the railway would be a menace to the
traveling public. We prefer some one less temperamental.

As civilization advances and work becomes more specialized, it becomes
impossible for any one to find free and full development for all his
natural powers in any recognized occupation. What then becomes of the
other selves? The answer must be that playgrounds must be provided for
them outside the confines of daily business. As work becomes more
engrossing and narrowing, the need is more urgent for recognized and
carefully guarded periods of leisure.

The old Hebrew sage declared, 'Wisdom cometh from the opportunity of
leisure.' It does not mean that a wise man must belong to what we call
the leisure classes. It means that, if one has only a little free time
at his disposal, he must use that time for the refreshment of his hidden
selves. If he cannot have a sabbath rest of twenty-four hours, he must
learn to sanctify little sabbaths, it may be of ten minutes' length. In
them he shall do no manner of work. It is not enough that the self that
works and receives wages shall be recognized and protected; the world
must be made safe for our other selves. Does not the Declaration of
Independence say that every man has an inalienable right to the pursuit
of happiness?

The old-time minister, after he had exhorted the believers at
considerable length, used to turn to a personage who for homiletical
purposes was known as the Objector. To him he addressed his most labored
arguments. At this point I am conscious of the presence of the Objector.

'All you say,' he remarks, 'in praise of your favorite platitude is true
to a fault. But what has all this to do with the War? There is only one
thing in these days worth thinking about--at least, it is the only thing
we _can_ think about.'

'I agree with you, courteous Objector. No matter where we start, we all
come back to this point: Who was to blame for the War, and how is it
coming out? Our explanatory idea has a direct bearing on the question
before us. The Prussian militarists had a painstaking knowledge of
facts, but they had a contempt for human nature. Their tactlessness was
almost beyond belief. They treated persons as if they were things. They
treated facts with deadly seriousness, but had no regard for feelings.
They had spies all over the world to report all that could be seen, but
they took no account of what could not be seen. So, while they were
dealing scientifically with the obvious facts and forces, all the hidden
powers of the human soul were being turned against them. Prussianism
insists on highly specialized men who have no sympathies to interfere
with their efficiency. Having adopted a standard, all variation must be
suppressed. It is against this effort to suppress the human variations
that we are fighting. We don't want all men to be reduced to one

'But what about the Kaiser? Does your formula explain him? Does he want
to be somebody else?'

'I confess, dear Objector, that it is probably a new idea to him; but he
may come to it.'


The Temple's Difficult Door

By Robert M. Gay

Do you remember the little old white church which, when we were boys, we
attended more or less unwillingly, according to the season, with its
stiff-backed pews in which we sat aching, counting the pipes in the
organ and the balusters in the altar-rail and the dentils in the
moulding of the pulpit? Of course you remember it, and the little old
lady who sat in a corner ejaculating her hallelujahs and amens with the
regularity of a cuckoo-clock, and the solemn precentor who sawed out the
time with his hand, and the preacher who took his texts from the Old
Testament and rolled the names of the Ten Tribes and their enemies as a
sweet morsel under his tongue. The little old lady, you recollect, was
valiant in prayer-meeting. She was not afraid to criticize the minister,
or to repeat week by week the story of her conversion in her ninth year.
Nor did she fail continually to impress upon us boys--facing us
sometimes, with uplifted finger--the immanence of him who goeth to and
fro in the earth and rageth like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. Ah,
those prayer-meetings! Shall we, shall we ever forget them? Or the
references to the sinners who sat on the back row (where we always sat)?
Or the wailing hymns, or the dismal testimonies, or the waves of
dejection that swept over us during the cataloguing of our omissions and

And there was always a boy! Do you remember him? A boy of our own age,
mind you, a boy who ostentatiously arose and, with the decorum of a
deacon, dwelt upon his former iniquities and present beatitude. We
expected this of an occasional girl, yet the girls never did it; a
mumbled text, a flurried word or two, were the extent of their temerity.
As for us, it was not our custom to discuss our souls, even among
ourselves. It is said that to forget the existence of a stomach is the
best symptom of health in that useful organ, and, if the analogy holds,
our souls must have been singularly robust. We were bashful about our
virtues and vices; we could not fathom the sentiments of _Take Time to
be Holy;_ we were in mortal fear that some day somebody might convict us
of sin and hale us forthwith into the fold of the elect. Yet here was a
boy who flaunted his goodness in our faces. It was evident that he was
not normal, that it lay with us as a duty to puncture the bubble of his

The time came, you remember, very opportunely. On a memorable evening it
was announced that this Infant Samuel, as the little old lady called
him, was to recite to the congregation the entire Book of Esther from
memory. For us, who found it beyond our power to remember a Golden Text
of ten words for ten minutes, such a performance was unbelievable. We
put our heads together and evolved a plot, dark, yet charming in its
simple effectiveness. We decided to make faces at him.

We were expert in the art of face-making, because we had practiced it
for weeks upon our sisters who sang in the choir. They had suffered, but
were now immune. The grimaces of a Grimaldi could not have ruffled the
calm of their scornful features.

We planted ourselves in the front row, and the boy began his recital. In
time his preoccupied and lack-lustre eye wandered in our direction and
rested upon us. He started, looked away, stammered, recovered, and went
bravely on. But we knew that he would look back. We dared not glance at
our neighbors, but had faith that each was doing his duty.

Of course he did look back, but why prolong the mournful tale? It is
sufficient to say that Esther and Ahasuerus remained unwedded and Haman
unhung; and that our victim retired amid the titterings of the judicious
and the commiserations of the pious, while we plumed ourselves upon a
difficult task laudably accomplished.

I have indulged in this long reminiscence, which probably can be matched
in the experience of most of my masculine readers, because it is
provocative of thoughts that deserve to be aired. An essay might be
written upon the pathos that lies in the spectacle of a boy who is
incited to a public display of his goodness; in the docility which is as
clay in the hands of deluded adults. That he suffered there can be no
doubt--not one half so much under the ordeal of our contriving, which, I
hope, cured him, as under the isolation which his dedication to goodness
made inevitable. He was a lonely boy, though he may not have realized
that he was. That he could ever understand his fellows, or be understood
by them, was impossible. He was the victim of the most perverse fate
that can afflict a boy: he had been born in the bosom of a family whose
piety contained not a grain of the salt of humor, not a particle of the
leaven of imagination, not--But I am forgetting. I wish to ask the
reader's consideration, not of the victim, but of the tormentors.

Why is it that boys are suspicious of that approximate moral perfection
called goodness? Girls find a deep satisfaction in being good--in being
neat, in being clean, in being decorous. If they are not these, we call
them tomboys, still casting the onus of sinfulness upon the other sex.
When we boys confided our exploit to the little girls, we found that
they openly defended the boy, though, it must be admitted, they
privately admired us, as is the way of their sex. Our fathers, informed
by our sisters, and instigated by our mothers, solemnly reproached us,
but with a twinkle that would not be hidden. Manifestly, the trail of
the serpent was over them, too. They were sorry that they had not sat in
the choir.

The meekest of men love to tell how bad they were as boys, hugging their
fiction of early depravity with an unregenerate glee. The more innocuous
they may be now, the more they love to boast--especially to their
wives--of these phantasmal wild oats. The ladies pretend to be shocked
at the stories, but are glad to believe them; and so it is not
surprising if some men, in their fear of being mistaken for saints,
remain boys all their lives.

The pursuit of the ideal is complicated by man's suspicion of goodness,
and by woman's curious, but characteristic, indecision whether to
espouse perfection or imperfection. Gifted with a natural propensity
toward virtue and propriety and neatness and respectability and all the
other approximate perfections of life, attaining them with ease and
wearing them with grace, she of course values them little enough in man.
His foibles interest her more than his virtues. She admires even while
she condemns. He, because he is a man, prefers admiration to

In education, man as a rule inculcates ideals of perfection without
pretending to practice them; but woman, with an iron logic which, man's
aspersions to the contrary notwithstanding, is characteristic of her,
not only points but leads the way. Hence it is that some teachers of
her sex have two manners, the human for social occasions, and the divine
for the class-room. In the privacy of their homes they have their
imperfections; in the class-room they are icily perfect. Their
perfectness extends to such details as facial expression and tone of
voice. Occasionally a man adopts the duplex character, but with
deplorable result. I remember such a one in high school. Those of us who
had the good fortune to meet him socially, found that he had his
peccadillos of character, manner, and language, but in the school he was
a pattern which we despaired of imitating. From his necktie to his
reading of Burke's 'Conciliation,' he was without spot or blemish. We
did not dare to love him; we gave up all hope of emulation. We nicknamed
him Mrs. Dawson, and let it go at that.

But women carry this dual character more successfully than men. Whether
because they are better actors or because we confuse saintliness with
femininity, even as boys we are more ready to forgive it in them. To the
little girls, it seems perfectly natural. They catch the idea readily
and practice their teachers' precisions and pruderies upon the family.
We must admit, too, that in the art of being a pattern, women show a
sterner conscientiousness than men. They are not constitutionally so
lazy. It requires hard and sustained effort to be a pattern, an
inveterate and dogged attention to detail. It is chiefly here that we
men fail. The male saints--witness Jerome--had a time of it with their
petty temptations, simply because sainthood is largely a matter of
detail. Most men are good enough in essentials, but fail in the little
things; the little things, of which woman is enamored,--too often, the
slave. To be perfect gives her a satisfaction that man will never
understand; and, prompted by the constitutional laziness aforesaid, he
takes refuge in calling goodness womanish.

His institutions, therefore, are good enough in essentials; his
political organizations and governments, his bureaus and offices and
federations and unions, all are nobly planned, but lack the feminine
touch that makes for perfection. His streets are dirty and so are his
politics; his laws need dusting; a little sweeping would not hurt his
governments; his various organizations would be none the worse for some
polishing and weeding and clipping of loose threads and sewing up of
rents and various other species of revamping. All these last subtleties
are beyond him, just as, be he never so neat, are all the tiny
sweetnesses and refinements and knots and bows and satisfying
knick-knacks of his wife's person. She is a creature of _soupçons_ and
_nuances_ and intuitive niceties. She can endure no compromise with
disorder or dirt or decay. Her motes are all beams until they are
demolished; she uses a mountain of faith to move a mustard-seed; she
cannot see the polished surface for the speck of dust that is on it. In
her extreme development she spends her life doing the million and one
trifles that man would leave undone.

The trouble is that, not satisfied with all this, she longs to make him
perfect, too. Never deterred by the stupendousness of the task, she goes
on, century by century, generation by generation, teaching him,
preaching to him, marrying him; gently leading him or tyrannously
compelling him toward the heaven of her ideal. And here again her gaze
is microscopic. In her attention to his foibles she is liable to
overlook his sins. She can seldom understand badness in boys, nor can
ever see that the boy who is most bad in small matters may be the most
good in large. She loves to keep her male offspring lamblike, and tries
his docility by making him wear long hair and wide collars and linen and
ruffles and lace, never learning but through hard experience that, like
the puppy, he takes naturally to mud and feels at ease only close to the
soil. When he at last rebels and privily snips off his hair and rends
his sashes and furbelows, she weeps, not because of the loss of
material, but because of the loss of an ideal.

And who can blame her? It is seldom enough in this world that we can
kiss and fondle an ideal, except in dreams.

I have a theory that our school laws should be revised and that we
should confide our grammar-school teaching of boys only to women who
have been married. My reason is not the one the reader is imagining,
however. It is not because she will have had children. No. I do not go
so far as that. I merely demand that she shall have had a husband. He is
quite sufficient. He is a male. A year's association with him will have
softened her fibre, will have aroused in her mind doubts of the
perfectibility of mankind. Then, then she will be ready to teach boys.

Yet it must be admitted that every teacher who has managed to remain
human is confronted by a dilemma. As a teacher, he is expected to
inculcate ideals of perfection, not only in studies, but in deportment;
and yet, when he happens to come upon a student who approaches
perfection, it is a mournful occasion. The student may be admirable, but
he is dull company. It has been suggested that teaching can be a
satisfying profession only to very big or very little natures. I suppose
that the idea is that the big nature sees the future in the instant,
tolerates the present imperfection, dreaming of a distant flawlessness;
while the little nature satisfies itself by attaining perfection in

The average man or woman who has drifted into the profession is saved
from despair or insanity by that biological interest in, and curiosity
about, humanity, which we call humor. He knows that everlasting concern
with perfection in trifles is a belittler of souls; that correcting
sentences and paragraphs and Latin and German exercises and algebraic
problems and geometrical proofs is poor food for a human mind. On the
other hand, instinct tells him that the larger perfection is cold; that
it dwells in the rarefied air of the mountain-tops; that it is un-human.
To love the derelict student is treason to his profession; yet, as he
looks back over the long line of pupils who have passed through his
hands, he sees that the ones who remain warm and vivid in his memory are
those who fell most short of the very ideals which he tried to

Among all the students in a certain school, I have a living recollection
of just one, and he was the most imperfect student in it. He refused to
study, he refused to behave, he insisted on fighting and bringing snakes
to school in his pocket and--I do not exaggerate--standing on his head
in the middle of a recitation. He passed most of his days sitting in the
headmaster's office, studying demurely when that gentleman was present,
and making paper flying-machines when surveillance relaxed. Yet, as I
search my heart, I find that my memories of him are pleasant; that I
should like to see him again, even at the price of having to recapture
his garter-snakes, or of having to turn him right-side-up during a
recitation. He was much misunderstood. Some of his teachers, having no
faith in my theory of the interestingness of the imperfect, found him a
thorn in the flesh, and predicted for him a sudden end by suspension;
and there were doubtless times when, in an access of impatience, I
longed for the end to come and was ready to officiate at it. He
shattered the pedagogic ideal. Try as I would, I was unable to discover
in him ideals of any sort, and he refused to adopt any that I offered,
however edifying. Yet all the good little boys to whom he administered
black eyes with the utmost generosity have faded from my memory and he
stands out the brighter for the years that have gone. If he had been
good, he, too, would long since have been consigned to the limbo of 'the
dream of things that were.' Viewed in the narrow light of class
discipline, he was a burden, like the grasshopper; in the broad and
genial glow that falls from a humorous philosophy of life, he was a joy,
a heart-filling atomy of mischief, a triumphant example of the
imperfectness of humanity and the humanness of imperfection.

We can postulate so much of the imperfect thing and so little of the
perfect. Flawlessness leaves the weaker imagination so little to take
hold of: it is slippery. Even woman, with that inconsistency which makes
her adorable, really loves perfection no more than we. Every one knows
that a little girl loves an old doll, or a rag doll, or a one-legged
doll, better than the most expensive Parisian wax doll with real hair,
and eyes that open and shut. The Parisian beauty has been longed for for
months, but now that it has become an entity, it leaves the child cold.
If it is so lucky as to lose an arm or some sawdust, there may be hope
for it; but so long as it remains new and whole, it can never hope to
enter the warmest precincts of the little girl's heart. 'To keep in
sight Perfection,' says a contemporary poet, 'is the artist's best
delight,' and his bitterest pang that he can do no more than that; yet
in another epigram the same poet speaks as follows:--

    The thousand painful steps at last are trod,
      At last the temple's difficult door we win.
    Perfect upon his pedestal, the god
      Freezes us hopeless when we enter in.

The little girl is tasting this experience. The contemplation of elastic
joints, mechanical eyes, and waxen complexion warmed the cockles of her
heart, but the embodiment of these in a palpable doll freezes her
hopeless. If the poet, with more imagination, suffers too, and the
highest natures--those which we call the transcendental--whiff the
sadness that lies in the attainment of the perfect, surely the
unimaginative mass of mankind can be excused if they find the
inter-lunar regions chilly.

In reckless moments I wonder whether the Greek statues did not suffer
more happily at the hands of fate when they lost their arms and heads
and legs than we are accustomed to think; whether their dilapidation has
not given them a place in our hearts instead of merely in our heads; has
not couched them in our love instead of merely pedestaled them in our

Or, to take an illustration from a lower plane, may it not be that we
get a keener pleasure out of eating an imperfect apple? It is neither
the best possible apple, which would be perfect, nor the worst possible
apple, which would have a kind of negative perfection; it has a worm at
the core; but I wonder whether we do not enjoy it more because we have
to eat the more carefully to keep from eating him. Besides, he arouses
in our mind all sorts of questionings. Why is he there? What kind of
worm is he? How did he get in? How would he have got out if we had not
ousted him? And--note this--what sort of an apple would it have been if
he had taken up his residence elsewhere?

I am rather proud of this little apologue of the apple. For the perfect
apple could have roused no queries which the defective apple does not.
The same subtle influences went to make both: the same elements, the
same forces, the same chemical processes. But the defective apple has in
addition to all these--the worm.

There is 'some strangeness' even 'in beauty.' The perfect rhythm is
intolerable. We demand chiaroscuro in life as in color. The preciousness
of the ointment is the more evident for the fly. 'We love people for
their vices,' so the vices do not make them despicable.

If the gods that sit above have a sense of humor, they must find us
grown men and women as funny and as sad as we find the boys and girls
and dogs. Not knowing the sentiments of the gods, we have to content
ourselves with those of the poets and humorists who, we fondly imagine,
have in them something of the god-like vision. They look at humanity
from above. And they find that the spectacle of humanity trying to be
what it cannot be, facing both ways, on the threshold of heaven casting
a longing, lingering look behind, is comic and tragic in its very
essence; for comedy and tragedy differ chiefly in degree. In the
imperfection of humanity lie its tragedy and its humor. Without it, this
would be a happier world; but with it, it is a merrier.


Exile and Postman

By Jean Kenyon Mackenzie

It used to make me homesick, in our little African clearing, to see the
albino woman. She would move about among her brown companions like a
flame--and her white body, that flickered in the sun and glimmered in
the shade, used to knock at the door of nostalgia. Homesick people
always long for a visit, and that albino was so white!

Once, to our neighborhood, where in those days white women did not come,
there came a white woman. She did not lodge with us; she lodged with the
white officer because she was an officer's wife. We used to wonder if
she would call upon us. One of us had a pair of field-glasses, and we
used to watch her little figure coming and going about the clearing on
the government hill. When one day she was seen to come down into our
valley by the zigzag trail, we thought we had a Visit. I cannot tell you
how anxious we were, in that little bark house, to make a good
appearance--or what fresh disposals were made, with our eyes upon that
descent, of our properties. I do not wish to make you too sad, but that
white woman did not visit us. She went away. She did not know about us,
or about exiles--that they are always dreaming of a Visit.

It seems a hard thing, sometimes, when night closes the doors of all the
little trails, that the day has passed without a visitor. It is true of
exiles that they have the most unreasonable expectations of the sort,
based perhaps upon the migrations of swallows, and not relinquished
until the hour of dusk. Yes, then the little trails of the forest are
perceived by the mind's eye--which like a cat's eyes sees them better
for the dark--to wander away into an infinite distance and a solitude.

Dusk is altogether the most illuminating hour for the exile; he then
knows so exactly where he is; he has a perfectly visual sense of his
surroundings. He sees where he is, but how came he to be there? The
geography of his circumstance is plain, but not the logic. He who has no
other companions than himself suspects this companion, in that hour of
dusk, to be a fool. It must be a poor fool, he thinks, who has drifted
into such a clearing by such a river!

The forest of the Cameroon is as good a place as any to be homesick; but
I will not be saying that the members of my profession--and I am a
missionary--are chronic sufferers. Missionaries are, in the main, gay,
and for excellent reasons--some of them pagan reasons, for they are
little brothers of Antæus; some of them Christian reasons, for they are
of the company of successful fishermen. A fisherman with a good catch
can defy even the dusk; his string of silver fish is a lantern to his

No, if there were an altar and a service to placate nostalgia it would
not be that fisherman who would most attend that service. The path to
that altar would be worn brown by the feet of the trader. I think the
trader is lonelier than the missionaries are; he is better versed in
solitude. He goes into the forest with a backward look; he comes out of
the forest sometimes with a secret and a stricken countenance. More than
missionaries do, he does. More often than they, he builds out of his
lonely horror and the license of solitude a perverse habitation for his
soul. Sometimes--and this is very sad--he is afraid. He lingers and
lingers on the margin of that green sea of forest.

'The heart,' say the Bulu, 'has gone to hide in the dark.' And this is a
Bulu way of saying that the heart is not worn upon the sleeve. Well,
upon the sleeve of the white-drill suits that beach-traders wear there
is, I will agree, no device of hearts. But those lonely inland
traders,--those that have traveled ten, twenty, thirty days from their
kind,--what is that they sometimes seem to wear upon the sleeve of their
singlets? And who cares where he wears his heart if there is never a
white man's eye to fall upon it! In those little bark huts on the
trading posts, where young white men pale with the passing hours, there
comes to be a careless fashion in wear, whether of hearts or of collars.
In the warm dusk of those little houses, where there is an earthen
floor, where there are tin trade-boxes as bright as jockeys' jackets,
where there are trade-cloths printed with violent designs, where there
is salt fish and cheap scent and tobacco,--where all these desirable
things may be had for ivory and rubber,--there the trader may wear his
heart upon his sleeve without shame. None of those brilliant eyes, set
in those dark faces, know a white man's heart when they see it. There in
his hut is a monotony of brown bodies quick with vehement gestures;
there is a tumult of controversy in a tongue he does not know. The
sudden glitter of brass ornament is there, and the glitter of brass
spears. There are fantastic head-dresses studded with buttons and shells
and beads, and scented with the odor of wood-fires. Between those brown
bodies and the body of the white man lies the counter. More lies between
them than this. There are between them such barriers that the white man
is not more lonely when he is alone.

Yet how still it is of an idle day under the thatched leaves of that
little house! The sun does its exaggerated violence to the yellow earth
of the clearing; the forest hangs its arras over its secret. How far it
is, in this place not named on the map, from Manchester! How, when the
rain falls, it is other than rainfall on the Clyde! How the pale fruit
that hangs high on the _ajap_ tree is not like the apples that ripen in

Do not speak of apples! Nostalgia in her cruel equipment carries a
scented phantom apple.

At night there is about that young trader a trouble of drums that never
rest. There is the sharp concerted cry of the dancers. There is the
concerted wail for the dead. There is about him all the rhythmic beating
of the mysterious life of his neighborhood, tormenting him where he lies
under his mosquito net. For this he will rise and walk about, the ember
of his pipe drifting back and forth in the dark, and his gramophone,
roused by himself, making its limited obedient effort.

There is this about a gramophone: it is a thing that speaks the home
tongue. I have seen him sitting under the eaves of his little hut, by
his little table spread with a checkered cloth, his gramophone beside
him, trying, with its tale of the old grouse gunroom, to divert that
lonely meal. Now that I think of it, the gramophone is a kind of hero of
my little piece--a kind of David with five tunes to do battle with
nostalgia. Back in the tent broods Saul, and this poor patient David
plays the endless round of five tunes. Until some day there is a javelin
in the wall, and a proud black man goes away with a gramophone into the

The night sky does more permanent ministry to the homesick, and of all
the bright ministers the moon is the most effectual. It is the great
reflector of lights; there it comes, swinging up its old path in the
sky, and the fires of home are mirrored on its disk. You who read have
spread your hands, in your hour of homesickness, to those phantom
fires--and other hands are always spread. Some of us were sitting on our
heels about a little flame in a new clearing; all of us were alien in
that clearing; one of us was white. And the black woman said to the
white woman when the moonlight fell upon all those women faces,--

'The moon looks upon the villages and upon the home village. We black
people, when we sit in the towns of strangers and the moon shines, we
say, "Now by the light of this same moon the people at home dance to the
drums!" However far we walk, we look upon the moon and we remember our
friends at home.'

Upon another moonlight night, sitting in a forest camp with young black
girls for companions, these sang for me a little set of songs--the
songs, they told me, of the moon:--

    'Ah, moné zip, alu a danéya! Ah moné zip'[B]

[Note B: 'Ah, little gazelle, the night has deepened! Ah, little

This little refrain they sang, clapping their hands ever so lightly, and
the meaning of the singing was a warning.

It was a song of the moon, a song for wanderers. And the moon on that
remembered night, dragging its net of broken silver cords in among the
trees of the forest, caught everywhere the wandering hearts and drew
them back on the little rough trails to the home fires. Every night that
is a moonlight night there is the casting of that silver net upon far
rivers and forests deeper than rivers--wherever aliens make a bed of
leaves or sleep on a canvas cot.

On such a night, and caught in such a net, I have met the postman. Yes,
on just such a night, when the world appeared as it hangs in space, a
crystal globe, and when so observed from a little clearing in an African
forest, it was seen to be charted for voyagers, and all its little paths
ran readily about the globe to that gilt side which is home. On such a
night, and upon such a path, I met the postman.

To hang upon a little wicket gate under the moon at the end of a
moon-filled clearing in a breach of the forest,--to see the black body
of the postman suddenly darken the checkered light upon the path from
the west,--how to speak of this adventure with moderation! How to speak
of postmen at all with moderation! And of those postmen who thread the
lonely forests of the world, their loads upon their backs, their rations
of salt fish on top of their loads; how to recall their aspects, their
monthly or bi-monthly or semi-annual arrivals, the priceless treasures
they carry! how speak of these things to men and women who have never
followed the little gazelle into those forests where the night has
deepened; who have never felt the divinity in postmen!

Imagine that there is a people in this world who let a postman walk up
the path unattended, and who wait until he knocks on the door! Who do
not shout to their neighbors when they receive a letter, and who receive
one every day! These items alone prove the truth of the Bulu proverb
that there are tribes and tribes, and customs and customs.

And I will agree that there are, even on the trails of the wilderness,
postmen and postmen. There are even, though I hate to dwell upon it,
postmen whom I do not trust. Not all postmen have wings upon their
heels. The ideal postman does of course fly. He is like

    The bird let loose in eastern skies
    When hastening fondly home.

He avoids idle wanderers. But they do not all do so. I remember to have
been wakened one night in a village by the gossip of two old headmen.
They had met before my tent; there in the moonlight they chatted
together. All the little life of the village was sleeping; the two old
men alone were abroad. They were about the business of the post. It is a
pioneer custom in Africa, east and west, that the white man's local
letter is franked from town to town. The black man to whom the white man
gives his letter carries it to the headman of the next settlement, who
carries it in turn to his brother headman down the trail; and so from
hand to hand, by day and by night, with a glance from any passing white
man, the letter goes forward. Such a letter--carried as the custom is,
in a split rod from which there hung, like a flag, a bit of turkey
red--changed hands that night before my tent. And now I write it in a
white man's book that the postmen loitered.

To stand and chat there in the moonlight with the exile's letter in your
hands--how could you do that, you two old heartless headmen? I watched
you from my little green tent. It is remembered of you that you so
delayed, while in some lonely hamlet under that same moon a white man
sickened for a letter. And when one gave the forked stick to the other,
it was then too late. If indeed, as you would say, you spoke no more
than five words of gossip one to the other, those words were five too
many. It is remembered of you, and a thousand nights since when I have
waited for the mail, if it were a moonlight night, I have told myself
with an extreme self-pity and a bitterness, 'The carrier is gossiping in
some clearing.' I have seen in my heart that man with the load of mail
upon his back, standing for hours by a friend of his, laughing and
asking news one of the other. This conjured vision of two black men
holding up the mail is the sad issue of an imagination infected beyond
cleansing. You see, _I saw them do it_.

Some postmen have come in late because their feet were sore. And some,
in passing through their home town, have permitted themselves an illness
or a marriage. Some have waited, with the mail in their loads, to bury
the dead. Such a postman, so given to misadventures and clumsy ill-timed
tragedies, was once late to the tune of eleven days. Who remembers what
delayed him or what exquisite reasons he gave? And who of us in that
little clearing forgets the long hours of that year of days?

Another postman, of an extreme beauty and an extreme speed, arrived
before his time. There was a shouting when he came. All the inhabitants
of that little settlement of white men called to each other; the four or
five of them filled a room of a bark house--those white faces that were
growing daily like the face of the Asra, 'bleich und bleicher,' were all
lit by the flame of the mail. In all that little commonwealth, with its
pioneer trades and its pioneer gardens and its pioneer hospital and
school and church--in all that settlement all the busy crude wheels of
industry slackened and stood still while the white men opened the load
of the mail.

'Now they will be reading the _books_ from home!'

And of Ebengé, that young carrier, it is still remembered that he
arrived before he was due. 'Ah, Ebengé.' you still say to him from time
to time, 'that was a fine walking you walked that walk so long ago when
you slept but three nights with the mail!'

Another postman, never to be forgotten by those exiles whom he served,
never came at all. This was a boy, too young, you would think, for his
great office. The letters in his little pack were from husbands to
wives, and they must travel a hundred miles of forest-trail in time of
war. Not twenty miles they traveled when the postman, surrounded by
black soldiers, was called to deliver. He did not deliver. He could not
give the white man's letters to another hand. He said, No, he could not.
And for this they killed him. That young body tarried forever upon the
trail, witnessing in that interminable delay--as Ebengé had witnessed in
his swift coming--to the sacred element in the mail.

Here is the king's touch for the king's evil--the hand of the postman
dropping a letter. For this the victims of nostalgia do long service.
For this they scribble, in their lonely and various dwellings, their
letters. There is a night, in those alien settlements all about the
world, that is unlike other nights. It is the night before the mail is
closed. The lamp is full of oil that night, and the cup of coffee is at
the elbow. On and on, while the stars march, the white man's hand runs
upon the page. In villages where there are no street lamps, the white
man's window is a lamp all night of the night before the mail. From
steamers that are tied to trees among the rushes, in rivers that you do
not know, the officer on watch may look all night through such a window
at such a man writing, writing a long, long letter--the beating heart of
man, articulate in all that heartless darkness.

How quick a seed, you would say, the seed in such a letter! How such a
letter must bear, some sixty-, some an hundred-fold! Yet myself I saw
this: I saw the harbor-master of Kabinda, a settlement of white men on
the west coast of Africa, come aboard the monthly steamer to get the
mail. He was an old Portuguese, coffee-colored in his gray linen suit. A
long time he had been harbor-master, and many times he had taken the
brown bag of mail ashore. This day, when he lifted his bag, he 'hefted'
it: the lightness of it in his hand made him smile. Some irony that was
the fruit of his long experience of exiles and their letters made that
old indifferent man curl the lip. I think that in Kabinda that night
there went white men hungry to bed.

I would not like to live in Kabinda, where the postman is so old and so
wise. These white postmen know too much; they can count more than ten.
And other things they know: they know a thing too sad to tell. Better
Ebengé, who ran so swiftly with his load, or little Esam, who thought
that for a load of letters some would even dare to die.


The Life of Adventure

By Edgar J. Goodspeed

'ADVENTURES,' said the gifted Mr. Disraeli, 'are to the adventurous.'
Stevenson somewhere recommends the conception of life as a series of
adventures, each morning witnessing as it were a new embarkation upon
some treasure-quest or feat of arms. And I have often observed that my
adventurous friends have a knack of reporting with all the flavor of
genuine adventures, experiences which upon sober reflection seem rather
to fade into the light of common day. It would appear, therefore, that
it is they who put the adventurous into life, rather than that life is

In this fact lies much encouragement for one whose life seems set in a
routine of commonplace; who lives upon a decent city street, where even
burglars seldom penetrate, and nothing more exciting than automobile
collisions ordinarily happens. These last are, however, of a gratifying
frequency, if it is excitement that one craves. Indeed, we have latterly
come to a weary sense of annoyance when the familiar crunch informs us
that two motorists have simultaneously claimed the right of way. The
pious duty of sweeping up all that was mortal of these unfortunates
sometimes becomes really distressing, and one feels like a modern Tobit,
keeping watch o'er man's mortality.

I make it a point never to witness these distressing occurrences; that
would be a vocation in itself. Only when the fatal crash is heard do I
emerge, like Æsculapius from his temple. I was a witness once, but only
in a burglary. I had not, of course, seen the burglary, but I could
remember seeing the _corpus delicti in situ_, as it were, later than any
one else; and the proof that the object had existed had, of course, to
precede the evidence that it had disappeared. Such is the logic of the
law. Twenty several times I accordingly visited the Halls of Justice,
and twenty several mornings I sacrificed upon the altar of duty. Months
wore on; we witnesses, from our frequent meetings, came to be firm
friends. We talked of forming a permanent organization. We even began to
produce a literature, though all that I now remember of it is, 'For
we're trying Johnny Artzle in the morning.'

I became so seasoned an habitué of the court building that belated
witnesses for other tribunals, on reaching the witness-room, would rush
up to me and explain in broken English that they had been detained, that
they had come as fast as they could and hoped I would excuse them;
showing that there was nothing about me that looked out of place in the
precincts of the Criminal Court.

But, with all this assiduity, we did not convict our burglar. The kindly
judge reduced his bail, that he might rejoin his family; he seized the
opportunity to filch some golden teeth, which a prosperous dentist had
destined for his fashionable clients, and this irate gentleman thrust in
his case ahead of ours (though the Statute of Limitations had not yet
run against us) and thus snatched from us the satisfaction of immuring
our defendant in his deserved dungeon.

This is why I never witness motor accidents. But it is plain that even
this unhappy business may take on the glamour of romance when approached
from the point of view of adventure. The other morning, when the
familiar crunch informed us that we were again to function as first aids
to broken humanity, I rushed into the street, to see a large limousine,
of the eight-passenger type now usual at obsequies, resting comfortably
on its port side on the opposite parkway. What might it not contain, in
the way of youth, beauty, and interest? Yet in point of fact, when its
cargo had been laboriously hoisted up through the main hatch, which was
ordinarily its right-hand door, it proved to be nothing very romantic
after all, and we gave it its coffee with a certain vague sense of
disappointment. Some people really are not worthy of adventure, and it
is a great pity that many who have adventures refuse to accept them
gratefully in an adventurous spirit.

War is, of course, the main avenue to adventure, and even so commonplace
an affair as military drill has, at least in its early stages,
adventurous possibilities. Our corporal (for I have to admit that I am
only a private--as yet) being one day kept from duty by a seminar on
Plato, an expert on the history of art, excluding that of war, was set
over us. His eagerness exceeded his experience, and it is not too much
to say that he led us into places of danger previously unsuspected. The
company, though with the gravest misgivings, was called upon to deploy
as skirmishers, guide left. Placing himself at our head and crying,
'Follow me,' our gallant leader at once set off at a double-quick in the
wrong direction, where a lieutenant much out of breath overtook us,
crying, 'Hay, corporal! you belong at the other end of the line!'
'Follow me,' ordered our leader unabashed; and we double-quicked to the
other end, there to meet the other lieutenant, with the cry, 'Hay,
corporal! you belong in the middle of the line!'

But one of our most inflexible deans occupied the middle with his squad,
and his conception of military duty would not permit him to budge
without orders. Perhaps he remembered the Marne and defeat by
dislocation. With no place to go, our embarrassment was relieved by the
captain's 'As you were,' and we formed again in our familiar column of
squads. But in the slight confusion which I have to admit had for a
moment prevailed, a metathesis had taken place: from being third squad
we had become fourth, which position carried with it the responsibility
of leading the second platoon. When therefore the hoarse order,
'Platoons column left,' rang out, the company plodded placidly on in
column of squads. We seemed to have lost our platoon consciousness. Our
captain was annoyed; he knew that he had two platoons, but they declined
to separate. Again the order came, without effect.

The company now vaguely felt that something was wrong, and suppressed
cries of 'Hay, corporal! you're pivot man!' 'Hay, second platoon! wake
up!' came to us from front and rear. With a start, our guilty squad
awoke to its new responsibilities, and a sense of the eternal
watchfulness of the soldier's life. _Qui vive? Qui va?_

The day before Marshal Joffre arrived, I asked our guide, a Plattsburg
veteran, whether the Faculty Company was to participate in his review of
the battalion. His face darkened with apprehension.

'Say,' said he, 'that would be a mess! He's reviewed better troops than
we are!'

Never more desperate ones, though, we agreed. Like all great soldiers,
our officers are modest, even about their handiwork. We of the ranks,
however, in our eagerness feel some disappointment that we cannot
exhibit our newly won proficiency, even to General Barry. Why keep it
all for Hindenburg?

Battalion drill is a great day in the life of the military neophyte, and
our favorite evolution is the company front double-quick. It would have
been a pleasure to perform this for the Marshal of France, but our last
execution of the manoeuvre made our officers reluctant to exhibit our
proficiency in it again to the jealous eye of authority. In company
front, we spread in two ranks well across the field, and at the command
'Double time!' we inaugurated a really imposing movement, before the
reviewing officer. For some reason the front rank of the first squad set
a rapid pace, which the whole rank nobly strove to imitate. The second
rank, in fear of being distanced, came thundering up behind, and the
first rank, hearing their onset close upon their heels, regularly ran
away. In consequence, our alignment, usually so precise, suffered
considerably; and it began to look like an interscholastic 'quarter
mile' badly bunched at the finish. Reduced to the more professorial
'quick time' at the end of the race, we soon recovered our breath if not
our composure, and it was remarked that in the rush it had been the
Faculty orators who led the field; both things being after all at bottom
a matter of wind.

Before we were dismissed that morning, the reviewing officer commented
favorably on our drill, excepting only the double-quick, and admonished
us to try to keep from laughing. Yet is it not well known from the
writings of Captain Beith and others that the British Tommies go into
action laughing, joking, and singing music-hall ballads?

The other day the major's usual stirring lecture on the art of war was
replaced by that threadbare faculty device, a written quiz. The first
question (I believe I am disclosing no military secret in telling) was,
'Name the textbook.' The answer was, of course, I.D.R.; but some poor
fellows who had plunged into the contents without first mastering the
cover, were found wanting.

The sociability characteristic of convocation processions naturally
tends to pervade our military marching as well. At battalion the other
day we were trying to catch the captain's far-off orders and then to
distinguish which of several whistles was the 'command of execution' for
our company, when a late arrival dropped into the vacant file beside me,
and in the most sociable manner began to relate an experience on the
rifle range the Saturday before. This extended narrative was much
interrupted, for I lost him every little while under the stress of those
far-off orders, of which he appeared quite unconscious. His method
seemed to be to wait for the evolution to be completed and then rejoin
me wherever I might be and resume his parable, although he did
occasionally complain that he had not heard the order.

Nevertheless, we learn quickly. The other day the first sergeant, a
theologian of a wholly unsuspected bellicosity, called upon the squad
leaders to report. The first corporal at once glibly cried out, 'All
present or accounted for'; whereupon each successive corporal, confident
that none of his men had been killed or captured since the day before,
joyfully answered with the same crisp and comprehensive formula.

For all our attempts at militarism, a certain democratic informality
still lingers among us. The captain is ordinarily affectionately
addressed as 'Henry.' Thus, while at rest, a voice is heard from the
rear rank: 'Well, Henry, I don't understand what the rear rank is to do
on the order, "Company platoons right." Now the front rank--'

'There's no such command,' answers the captain patiently, thus closing
the incident.

The captain frequently marches backward, so that he can face us and
enjoy the swift precision with which we carry out his orders. The other
day he backed into the east bleacher and sat down abruptly on the bottom
step. Luckily he gave the command to halt, or in our blind obedience we
should probably have marched right over him up the bleacher and off the
back of it into space.

I shall never forget our first review. It was with no little reluctance
that our captain consented to our participation in it. He seemed to fear
that we might shy at the visiting officers' decorations, and run away.
Only the most protracted good behavior on our part carried the day.
After marching past the reviewing party, in as straight a company front
as we could exhibit, we opened our ranks for inspection, and the
visiting colonel prowled about among us. Just before he reached our
company, a student major, in a frenzy of apprehension, came up and gave
us one final adjuration not to wiggle.

The colonel--a fine military figure--marched swiftly up and down our
ranks, stopping now and then to address a few crisp questions to one or
another of the men. He seemed to select those whose soldierly bearing
suggested military promise; at least our corporal and I thought so, as
we were the men he spoke to in our part of the line. Or it may be that
we were standing so like statues that he wanted to satisfy himself that
those marble lips could speak. Our comrades were of course eager to know
what he had said, and we had later to tell them that he had imparted to
us important military information of a confidential character; to which
they cynically replied, '_Yaas_, he did!'

We also tactfully let it be known that the colonel was anxious to learn
whether our officers were perfectly satisfactory. With more tractable
and appreciative inquirers we entered into more detail. He had asked the
corporal whether he had ever shot a rifle: corporal blushingly admitted
that he had once shot a squirrel. (Corporal is a football hero, and
accustomed to meet the enemy at much closer quarters than rifle range.
The rest of us, on the other hand, are publicists, and are deadliest at
distances of from 500 to 5000 miles.) Number 2 was asked if he could
cook, and claimed that he could. Colonel in his haste did not think to
ask Number 2 if any one could eat what he cooked, or he would have
learned that Number 2's cookery is best suited to prisoners of war.

Colonel had no sooner departed on his inquisitorial way than the student
major reappeared from nowhere, in a fearful rage, to inquire if we
couldn't stand still even for _two minutes_, and to complain bitterly
that during the inspection one man had been guilty of rubbing his nose.
Murmurs of disapproval ran through the ranks at the mention of this
wretched offender, who was probably responsible for dragging our company
down to a tie with the Law School for third place out of nine in the
honors of the day.

Captain now mercifully ordered, 'Rest,' and a prodigious and concerted
sigh rose from the ranks. Each man abandoned his pokerlike pose of
'Ten-_shun_' for an attitude of infinite dejection and fatigue. It was
6:15 and I remarked to Number 2 that my back ached. He said his ached
clear through. Our former corporal asked the captain what a man was to
do if he had a dinner engagement. Captain said he had one, but guessed
we'd all have to wait for orders to dismiss. Corporal replied that he
hadn't one, but just wanted to know. If one is to rise in the service,
one should never lose an opportunity of extracting military information
from one's officers.

We have not yet been promoted to uniforms, but last night after drill
we were informed that while we could not be provided with the invisible
olive-gray now in fashion, some antiquated khaki-colored uniforms of
1910 were being provided for our adornment. This arrangement met with no
objection. The fact is, we are not wholly unaccustomed to wearing
clothes of the fashion of 1910, and furthermore, while we have no desire
to be conspicuous, some of us rather shrink from the idea of wearing
invisible clothing, no matter how fashionable.

So full of adventure is military life, even in its most elementary form.
But after all I am not primarily a soldier: I am a human coral
insect--that is to say, a university professor, before whom life
stretches, as Stevenson said of another class, 'long and straight and
dusty to the grave.' I should like to be a volcanic being, shouldering
up whole islands at a heave; or even, if that could not be, perhaps
engulfing one or two, reluctantly of course, now and then. Whereas it is
my lot in life to labor long and obscurely beneath the surface, to make
the intellectual or historical structure of the universe solider by some
infinitesimal increment, about which in itself nobody except my wife and
me particularly cares.

Sometimes, however, I repine a little and wish that I were, say, a
porpoise, splashing gayly along at the surface, and making a noise in
the world. Once in a while, when I am going to sleep (for even a coral
insect must sometimes sleep), dreams float through my mind of sudden
achievement, such as might make one a porpoise or better; and once one
of these nearly came true. Judge how nearly. I was wandering through a
half-subterranean Spanish chapel, fitly set with huge old missals, dark
altar-pieces, covered stalls, and quaint curios. Its dim recesses
beckoned us on from one rich relic to another. Interest quickened. It
seemed a place where anything might be, awaiting only the expert eye of
discovery. I had often fancied such a place, and finding in some dim
corner of it a certain long-lost work of literature still remembered
after a thousand years' absence; somewhere in such a sleepy
treasure-house it doubtless lay, enfolding within its mouldering folios,
not its quaint contents only, but fame and fortune for its finder. And
look! Yonder, under a corner staircase, is a shelf of old books, large
and small. You approach it with feigned indifference; here, if anywhere,
will be your prize, a manuscript whose unique rarity will awaken two
hemispheres. It is not among the ponderous tomes, of course; so you take
them down first, postponing putting fortune to the decisive touch. But
these small octavos have just the look of promise; they are thin, too,
as it would be; and what period more likely for it than that sixteenth
century to which they so obviously belong?

Only the other day, a friend of mine who lives on our reef, and on a
branch even more recondite than mine, found among the uncatalogued
antiques of an American museum the one long-lost Tel-el-Amarna tablet,
which had disappeared almost as soon as it was discovered, and of which
it was only known that it was probably in America. Thus may one be
changed in a moment from polyp to porpoise, and be translated from the
misty obscurity of the bottom to the stirring, dazzling, delightful
surface of things.

But after all, the plain truth is that adventure consists less in the
experiences one actually has than in the indefatigable expectancy with
which one awaits them. Indeed, I sometimes fear that people must be
divided into those who have adventures and those who appreciate them.
And between the two the affinity for adventure is greater treasure than
the experiencing of it. If we are possessed of the affinity, adventure
itself is, at most, just round the corner from us. This opens the life
of adventure to all who crave it. What possibilities lie in merely
crossing a street, for example! Some one remarked the other day as he
dodged across among the motor-cars, 'Why not take a chance now and then
and lead a real life for a few minutes?'

I therefore recommend the life of adventure. It conceives each day as a
fresh enterprise, full of delightful possibilities and promise, and so
preserves the wine of life from growing flat.

Here is the secret of youth. The moral of Mr. Disraeli's epigram is, 'Be


An Indictment of Intercollegiate Athletics

By William T. Foster


Intercollegiate athletics provide a costly, injurious, and excessive
régime of physical training for a few students, especially those who
need it least, instead of inexpensive, healthful, and moderate exercise
for all students, especially those who need it most.

Athletics are conducted either for education or for business. The old
distinction between amateur and professional athletics is of little use.
The real problems of college athletics loom large beside the
considerations that define our use of the terms 'professional' and
'amateur.' The aims of athletics reveal the fact that the important
distinctions are between athletics conducted for educational purposes
and athletics conducted for business purposes.

When athletics are conducted for education the aims are (1) to develop
all the students and faculty physically and to maintain health; (2) to
promote moderate recreation in the spirit of joy, and as a preparation
for study rather than as a substitute for study; and (3) to form habits
and inculcate ideals of right living. When athletics are conducted for
business, the aims are (1) to win games--to defeat another person or
group being the chief end; (2) to make money--as it is impossible
otherwise to carry on athletics as business; (3) to attain individual or
group fame and notoriety. These three--which are the controlling aims of
intercollegiate athletics--are also the aims of horse-racing,
prize-fighting, and professional baseball.

These two sets of aims are in sharp and almost complete conflict.
Roughly speaking, success in attaining the aims of athletics as
education is in inverse proportion to success in attaining the aims of
athletics as business. Intercollegiate athletics to-day are for
business. The question is pertinent whether schools and colleges should
promote athletics as business.

Nearly all that may be said on this subject about colleges applies to
secondary schools. The lower schools as a rule tend to imitate the worst
features of intercollegiate athletics, much as the young people of
fraternities, in their 'social functions,' tend to imitate the empty
lives of their elders that fill the weary society columns of the

If the objection arises that intercollegiate athletics have educational
value, there is no one to deny it. 'Athletics for education' and
'athletics for business' are general terms, used throughout this
discussion as already defined. Exceptions there may be: only the main
tendencies are here set forth. The whole discussion is based on my
personal observations at no less than one hundred universities and
colleges in thirty-eight states during the past five years.

The most obvious fact is that our system of intercollegiate athletics,
after unbounded opportunity to show what it can do for the health,
recreation, and character of _all_ our students, has proved a failure.
The ideal of the coach is excessive training of the few: he best attains
the business ends for which he is hired by the neglect of those students
in greatest need of physical training. Our present system encourages
most students to take their athletics by proxy. When we quote with
approval the remark of the Duke of Wellington that Waterloo was won on
the playing grounds of Eton, we should observe that he did not maintain
that Waterloo was won on the grandstands of Eton.

What athletics may achieve without the hindrance of intercollegiate
games and business motives is suggested by the experience of Reed
College. There the policy of athletics for everybody was adopted five
years ago before there were any teachers, students, alumni, or
traditions. Last year all but six of the students took part in athletics
in the spirit of sport for the sake of health, recreation, and
development. Sixty per cent of the men of the college, including the
faculty, took part in a schedule of sixteen baseball games. Nearly all
the students, men and women alike, played games at least twice a week.
There were series of contests in football, baseball, track, tennis,
volley-ball, basket-ball, and other out-of-door sports. All of this,
according to the report of the athletic association, cost the students
an average of sixteen cents apiece. No money for coaches and trainers;
no money for badges, banners, cups, and other trinkets; no money for
training-tables and railroad fares; no money for grandstands, rallies,
brass bands, and advertising. Fortunately, it is the unnecessary
expenses that heap up the burdens--the cost of athletics as business.
The economical policy is athletics for everybody--athletics for


Opposed to the three educational aims are the aims of athletics as
business--winning games, making money, and getting advertised.

Almost invariably the arguments of students in favor of intercollegiate
games stress the business aims and ignore all others. Win games!
Increase the gate-receipts! Advertise the college! These are the usual
slogans. Thus the editors of one college paper reprimand the faculty for
even hesitating to approve a trip of fifteen hundred miles for a single
game of football:--

'Contrary to the expectations of the students, the matter of the
Occidental football game for next fall has not been acted upon as yet.
That such an important matter as this has not received attention so far
from the Faculty is unfortunate. While it is generally believed that the
Faculty will act favorably in regard to letting the game be scheduled,
it is understood that some opposition has developed on the ground that
such a long trip would keep the football men away from their classes too
long a time.

'From every point of view, there seems no reason why the game should not
be played. To state any of the arguments in favor of the offer is
unnecessary. Every one knows what it would mean to football next fall,
the greater interest it would mean to the game, the incentive it would
prove to every football man to work to become one of the seventeen men
to take the trip, the advertising it would give to the college, and,
perhaps most important, the drawing card it would be to bring new
athletes to the college in the fall. These points and others are too
well known to need pointing out and too evident to need proof.'

This is a typical football argument. It attempts to prove the necessity
of the proposed trip by showing that it would tend to perpetuate the
thing the value of which is under dispute.

In like vein the students of Cornell complain because the faculty did
not grant an additional holiday in connection with the Pennsylvania
football game. It is the familiar cry: 'Support the team! Win games!
Advertise the college!'

'Our friends, the professors, will perforce hold forth in their
accustomed cells from eight till one of that fair morning. The benches,
no doubt, will derive great benefit therefrom....

'We want the football team to have as much support as possible. The
Faculty should want the football team to have as much support as
possible. The Faculty should foster true Cornell spirit whenever it can
honestly do so, and intercollegiate athletics is the greatest single
thing that unites the different colleges into Cornell University. A
victory over Penn would mean a lot for Cornell.'

After all, how important is this end for which such sacrifices are made?
To hear the yelling of twenty thousand spectators, one might suppose
this aim to be the only one of great importance in the life of the
university. Yet who wins, who loses, is a matter of but momentary
concern to any except a score or two of participants; whereas, if there
is one thing that should characterize a university, it is its cheerful
sacrifice of temporary for permanent gains,--in Dr. Eliot's fine phrase,
its devotion to the durable satisfactions of life.

The making of money, through intercollegiate athletics, continues a
curse, not only to institutions, but as well to individual players. Only
childlike innocence or willful blindness need prevent American colleges
from perceiving that the rules which aim to maintain athletics on what
is called an 'amateur' basis, by forbidding players to receive pay in
money, are worse than useless, for while failing to prevent men from
playing for pay, they breed deceit and hypocrisy. There are many ways of
paying players for their services. Only one of these, and that the most
honorable, is condemned.

There are many subterranean passages leading to every preparatory school
notable for its athletes. By such routes, coaches, over-zealous alumni,
and other 'friends' of a college, reach the schoolboy athlete with
offers beyond the scope of eligibility rules. Sometimes payments are
made expressly for services as half-back, or short-stop, or hurdler, and
no receipts taken, the pay continuing as long as the player helps to win
games. Sometimes payments take a more insidious and more demoralizing
form. The star athlete is appointed steward of a college clubhouse on
ample pay, his duties being to sign checks once a month. Or his college
expenses are paid in return for the labor of opening the chapel door, or
ringing the bell, or turning out the lights.

Athletes may be paid for their services in other ways that escape the
notice of the most conscientious faculties and athletic associations.
But there are hundreds of boys who know that they are paid to win games
and keep silent; they are hired both as athletes and as hypocrites.

The sporting editor of one of the leading daily papers said recently,
'It is well known that the Northwest colleges are at present simply
outbidding one another in their desire to get the best athletes. Money
is used like water. It is a mystery where they get it, but they do.'

So common is the practice of paying athletes that they sometimes apply
to various colleges for bids. While I was acting as Registrar of Bowdoin
College, I received a letter from a man asking how much we would
guarantee to pay him for pitching on the college nine. I found out later
that he had registered at one college, pitched a game for his class
team, left his trunk at a second college awaiting their terms, and
finally accepted the offer of a third college, where he played 'amateur'
baseball for four years before joining one of the big league
professional teams.

At the athletic rallies of a New England college, a loyal alumnus is
often cheered for bringing so many star athletes to the college.
Officially, the college does not know that he hires men to play on the
college teams. And what is to prevent a graduate of the college or any
other person from hiring athletes? All but futile are the rules
governing professionalism. Is it not a worthy act to enable a boy to go
to college? And shall he be denied such aid because he happens to be an
athlete? No eligibility committee knows of all these benefactors or even
has the right to question their motives. But the objectionable motives
themselves can be eliminated by one act--the abolition of
intercollegiate athletics. With the subordination of winning games as
the chief end in athletics, falls also the money-making aim and its
attendant evils.

All the serious evils of college athletics centre about the
gate-receipts, the grandstand, and the paid coach. Yet the aim of nearly
every college appears to be to fasten these evils upon the institution
by means of a costly concrete stadium or bowl, and by means of more and
more money for coaches. When the alumni come forward to 'support their
team,' they usually make matters worse. Typical of their attitude is a
letter signed in Philadelphia last fall by some thirty graduates of a
small college:--

'The team has just closed the most disastrous season in its history....
The alumni will coöperate cheerfully with the undergraduates in
increasing the football levy. It only remains, then, to initiate a
campaign for procuring the money.... We must depart from our time-worn
precedents and give _more money for the coaches_! Alumni are tired of
reading the accounts of useless defeats!'

The extent to which interest in athletics is deadened by paid coaches
was shown last spring, when a track team from one university, after
traveling over two hundred and fifty miles--at the expense of the
student body--to compete with the team of another institution, took off
their running shoes and went home because the _coaches_ could not agree
on the number of men who should participate in the games. Could there be
a more abject sacrifice of the educational purposes of athletics?
Consider the spectacle. A glorious afternoon in spring, a perfect
playground, complete equipment in readiness, two score of eager youth in
need of the health and recreation that come from sport pursued in the
fine spirit of sport. Could anything keep them from playing? Nothing but
the spirit of modern American intercollegiate athletics and the
embodiment of that spirit, the paid coach, who knows that there is but
one crime that he can commit--that of losing a contest.

The athletic policy of many an institution is determined by a commercial
aim, the supposed needs of advertising, much as the utterances of many a
newspaper are dictated by the business manager. But does the advertising
gained through intercollegiate athletics injure or aid a college? At one
railroad station I was greeted by a real-estate agent who offered to
sell me 'on easy terms a lot in the most beautiful and rapidly growing
city in America.' (Thus do I safely cover its identity.) Among the
attractions, he mentioned the local college. He was proud of it; he said
it had the best baseball team in the state. Apart from that he had not
an intelligent idea about the institution, or any desire for ideas. The
only building he had visited was the grandstand. He could not name a
member of the faculty or a course of instruction. College advertising
which gets no further than this is paid for at exorbitant rates.

The people of Tacoma discovered recently that college athletics
conducted as a business are too costly. They brought college students
1400 miles to play a football game at Tacoma on Thanksgiving Day for the
benefit of the Belgian refugees. The charitable object of the game was
widely advertised and there was a large attendance. After they had paid
the expenses of the 'amateur' teams, the coaches, and the advertising,
they announced that there was nothing left for the Belgians.

A writer in the _North American Review_ tries to justify the time spent
by college boys in managing athletic teams on the plea that it is good
training for business. He gives testimony to this effect from a graduate
of two years' standing 'engaged in the wholesale coal business in one of
the large New York towns.' Following the usual custom, this young
graduate returns to his college and gives the admiring undergraduates
the benefit of his wisdom, lest they be corrupted by the quaint notions
of impractical professors. He has them guess what part of his college
work has proved of greatest use; then he assures them that his best
training came as manager of the baseball team. Such is the mature
judgment of the coal-dealer. And such is the advice of alumni which
makes undergraduates resolve anew not to allow their studies to
interfere with their college education. But some people raise the
question why a boy should be maintained in college for four years, at a
great cost to society and to his parents, in order that he may gain a
little business experience when he could gain so much more by earning
his living.

The conflicts frequently arising between faculties and students over
questions of intercollegiate athletics are the natural outcome of the
independent control of a powerful agency with three chief aims--winning
games, making money, and getting advertised--which are antagonistic to
the chief legitimate ambitions of a university faculty. No
self-respecting head of a department of psychology would tolerate the
presence in the university of persons working in his field, in no way
subject to him and with aims subversive of those of the department. No
professor of physical education should tolerate a similar condition in
his department. It is one of the hopeful signs in America that several
of the men best qualified to conduct athletics as education have
declined to consider university positions, unless they could have
control of students, teams, coaches, alumni committees, grandstands,
fields, finances, and everything else necessary to rescue athletics from
the clutches of commercialism.

I have read a letter from one of the ablest teachers in America,
declining to accept a certain university position under the usual
conditions, but outlining a plan whereby, as the real head of the
department of physical education, he might begin a new chapter in the
history of American athletics. His plan was rejected, not because it had
any defects as a system of education, but solely because it would cause
a probable decline in victories, gate-receipts, and newspaper space.
That university continued the traditional dual contest of coaches and
physical directors with their conflicting ideals. Recently I received a
letter from the professor of physical education who _did_ accept the
position, himself one of the ablest athletes among its graduates,
declaring that he would no longer attempt the impossible, in an
institution which deliberately prostituted athletics for commercial

We hear much about the value of intercollegiate games for the 'tired
business man' who needs to get out of doors and watch a sport that will
make him forget his troubles. It is true that for him a game of baseball
may be a therapeutic spectacle. The question is whether institutions of
learning should conduct their athletics--or any other department--for
the benefit of spectators. Doubtless university courses in history could
provide recreation for the general public and make money, if instruction
were given wholly by means of motion-pictures. But such courses would
hardly satisfy the needs of all students. Is it less important that
departments of physical education should be conducted primarily for all
students rather than for spectators? We do not insist that banks,
railroads, factories, department stores, and legislatures jeopardize
their main functions in order to provide recreation for the tired
business men. Universities are institutions of equal importance to
society, in so far as they attend to their main purposes. Athletics for
the benefit of the grandstand must be conducted as business; athletics
for the benefit of students must be conducted as education.


It is when we rightly estimate the possibilities of athletics as
education that the present tyranny of athletics as business becomes
intolerable. Is it not an anomaly that those in charge of higher
institutions of learning should leave athletic activities, which are of
such great potential educational value for _all_ students, chiefly under
the control of students, alumni, coaches, newspapers, and spectators?
Usually the coach is engaged by the students, paid for by the students,
and responsible only to them. He is not a member of the faculty or
responsible to the faculty. The faculty have charge of the college as an
educational institution; athletics is for business and therefore
separately controlled. Why not abandon faculty direction of Latin?
Students, alumni, and newspapers are as well qualified to elect a
professor of Latin and administer the department in the interests of
education, as they are to elect coaches and administer athletics in the
interests of education.

A few of the more notable coaches of the country are aware of the
possibilities of athletics controlled by the faculty for educational
purposes. Mr. Courtney, the Cornell coach, spoke to the point when he

'If athletics are not a good thing, they ought to be abolished. If they
are a good thing for the boys, it would seem to me wise for the
university to take over and control absolutely every branch of sport; do
away with this boy management; stop this foolish squandering of money,
and see that the athletics of the University are run in a rational way.'

Next to the physical development and the maintenance of the health of
all the students and teachers of an institution, the main purpose of
athletics as education is to provide recreation as a preparation for
study rather than as a substitute for study. But, intercollegiate
athletics having won and retained unquestioned supremacy in our
colleges, students do not tolerate the idea of a conflicting interest.

Even the nights preceding the great contests must be free from the
interference of intellectual concerns. An editorial in one of our
college weeklies makes this point clear. If a member of the faculty
ventured to put the matter so extremely, he would be charged with
exaggeration. But in this paper the students naïvely present their
conviction that even the most signal opportunities for enjoying
literature must be sacrificed by the entire student body in order that
they may get together and yell in preparation for their function of
sitting in the grandstand. In this case the conflicting interest
appeared in no less a person than Alfred Noyes. For a geographically
isolated community to hear the poet was an opportunity of a college
lifetime. Yet the students wrote as follows:--

      v          'THE RALLY _vs_. NOYES

     'Returning alumni this year were somewhat surprised to find the
     Hall used for a lecture on the eve of our great gridiron struggle,
     and some were very much disappointed. The student body was only
     partially reconciled to the situation and was represented in great
     part by Freshmen [who were required to attend].'

The relative importance of intercollegiate athletics and other college
affairs, in the minds of students, is indicated by student publications.
There is no more tangible scale for measuring the interests of college
youth than the papers which they edit for their own satisfaction,
unrestrained by the faculty.

Let us take two of the worthiest colleges as examples. The Bowdoin
College _Orient_, a weekly publication, is typical. For the first nine
weeks of the academic year 1914-15, the _Orient_ gave 450 inches to
intercollegiate athletics. For the same period, it devoted six inches to
art, ten inches to social service, thirteen inches to music, and twelve
inches to debating. Judging from this free expression, the students rate
the interests of intercollegiate athletics nearly three times as high as
the combined interests of art, music, religion, philosophy, social
service, literature, debating, the curriculum, and the faculty. Second
in importance to intercollegiate athletics, valued at 450 inches, are
dances and fraternities, valued at 78 inches.

Another possible measure of the student's interest is found in _Harvard
of Today from an Undergraduate Point of View_, published in 1913 by the
Harvard Federation of Territorial Clubs. The book gives to athletics ten
pages; to the clubs, six pages; to debating, five lines--and that
student activity requires sustained thinking and is most closely
correlated with the curriculum. The faculty escapes without mention.
'From an undergraduate point of view' the faculty appears to be an
incumbrance upon the joys of college life.

These publications appear to be fair representatives of their class. It
is probable, furthermore, that the relative attention given by the
student papers to intellectual interests is a criterion of the
conversation of students.

Not long ago, I spent some time with the graduate students at an Eastern
university. Their conversation at dinner gave no evidence of common
intellectual interests. They appeared to talk of little but football

On a visit to a Southern state university, I found the women's
dormitory in confusion. The matron excused the noise and disorder on the
ground that a big football game was pending and it seemed impossible for
the girls to think of anything else.

'The big game comes to-morrow?' I asked.

'Oh, no, next week,' she said.

Last spring, at a large university on the Pacific Coast, I met one young
woman of the freshman class who had already been to thirty-one dances
that year. At a state university of the Middle West, I found that the
students had decided to have their big football game on Friday instead
of Saturday, in order to wrench one more day from the loose grip of the
curriculum. When the faculty protested, the students painted on the
walks, 'Friday is a holiday'--and it was.

Intellectual enthusiasm is rare in American colleges, and is likely to
be rarer still if social and athletic affairs continue to overshadow all
other interests. Their dominance has given many a college faculty its
characteristic attitude in matters of government. They assume that boys
and girls will come to college for anything but studies. They tell new
students just how many lectures in each course they may escape. A
penalty of unsatisfactory work is the obligation to attend all the
meetings on their schedule, and the usual reward for faithful conduct is
the privilege of 'cutting' more lectures without a summons from the
dean. Always the aim of students appears to be to escape as much as
possible of the college life provided by the faculty, in order to
indulge in more of the college life provided by themselves. Their
inventive powers are marvelous; they bring forth an endless procession
of devices for evading the opportunities for the sake of which
(according to old-fashioned notions) students seek admission to college.
The complacent acceptance of this condition by college faculties--the
pervasive assumption that students have no genuine intellectual
enthusiasm--tends to stagnation. In the realm of thought some appear to
have discovered the secret of petrified motion.

The pronounced tendencies in higher education aggravate the disease.
Feeble palliatives are resorted to from time to time,--the baseball
schedule in one college, after six hours of debate by the faculty, was
cut down from twenty-four games to twenty-two,--but the bold and
necessary surgeon seldom gets in his good work. When he does operate, he
is hung in effigy or elected President of the United States.

Concerning the policy of no intercollegiate games at Clark College,
President Sanford says: 'Our experience with this plan has been
absolutely satisfactory and no change of policy would be considered.
Doubtless some of the less intellectually serious among the students
might like to see intercollegiate sports introduced. It is generally
understood that in a three-year college there is not time for such
extras.' The faculty appear to be unanimously in favor of no
intercollegiate games, since the course at Clark College takes only
three years. Intercollegiate contests appear to be ruled out chiefly on
the ground that, in a three-year course, students cannot afford to waste
time. But why is it worse for a young man to waste parts of three years
of his student life than to waste parts of four years of it?

The educational effect of our exaggerated emphasis on intercollegiate
athletics is shown in the attitude of alumni. It is difficult to arouse
the interest of a large proportion of graduates in anything else. At one
of the best of our small colleges, in the Mississippi Valley, I saw a
massive concrete grandstand. This valiant emulation of the Harvard
stadium seemed to me to typify the indifference of alumni to the crying
needs of their alma mater. For these graduates who contributed costly
concrete seats, to be used by the student body in lieu of exercise,
showed no concern over the fact that the college was worrying along with
scientific laboratories inferior to those of the majority of modern high
schools. 'What could I do?' the president asked. 'They would give the
stadium, and they would not give the laboratories.'


There have been numerous attempts to prove that intercollegiate
athletics are not detrimental to scholarship by showing that athletes
receive higher marks than other students. Such arguments are beside the
point. Though we take no account of the weak-kneed indulgence to
athletes in institutions where winning games is the dominant interest,
and of the special coaching in their studies provided for them because
they are on the teams, we must take account of the fact that wherever
the student body regards playing on intercollegiate teams as the supreme
expression of loyalty, the men of greatest physical and mental strength
are more likely than the others to go out for the teams, and these are
the very men of whom we rightly expect greatest proficiency in
scholarship. That they do not as a group show notable leadership in
intellectual activities seems due to the excessive physical training
which, at certain seasons, they substitute for study.

But this is not the main point. A large college might be willing to
sacrifice the scholarship of a score of students, if that were all. The
chief charge against intercollegiate athletics is their demoralizing
effect on the scholarship of the entire institution. The weaklings who
have not grit enough to stand up on the gridiron and be tackled talk
interminably about the latest game and the chances of winning the next
one. They spend their hours in cheering the football hero, and their
money in betting on him. The man of highest achievement in scholarship
they either ignore or condemn with unpleasant epithets.

Further hindrances to scholarship are found in the periodic absences of
the teams. It is said that athletes are required to make up the work
they miss during their trips, but is not this one of the naïve ways
whereby faculties deceive themselves? They are faced with this dilemma.
Either the work of a given week in their courses is so substantial, and
their own contribution to the work so great, that students cannot
possibly miss it, and 'make it up' while meeting the equally great
demands of the following week, or else the work of all the students is
so easy that the athletes on a week's absence do not miss much. What
actually happens, year in and year out, is that the standards of
scholarship of the entire institution are lowered to meet the exigencies
of intercollegiate athletics.

To what an illogical position we are driven by our fetish worship of
college 'amateur athletics'! We especially provide the summer vacation
as a period for play and recreation, and as a time when a majority of
students must earn a part of the expenses of the college year. For these
purposes we suspend all classes. Yet the student who uses this vacation
to play ball and thereby earn some money must either lie about it or be
condemned to outer darkness. There are no intercollegiate athletics for
him; he has become a 'professional.' It matters not how fine his ideals
of sport may be, how strong his character, or how high his scholarship.
These considerations are ignored. The honors all go to the athlete who
neglects his studies in order to make games his supreme interest during
that part of the twelve months which is specifically set apart for

Far more sensible would be an arrangement whereby, if we must have
intercollegiate athletics at all, the games could be scheduled in
vacation periods, and a part of the gate-receipts, if we must have them
at all, could be used for the necessary living expenses of worthy
students, instead of being squandered, as much of that money is
squandered to-day. That this will seem a preposterous plan to those who
are caught in the maelstrom of the present collegiate system need not
surprise us. An accurate record of the history of intercollegiate
athletics shows that, year in and year out, the arrangements desired by
students are those that interfere most seriously with study during the
days especially intended for study.

The maelstrom of college athletics! That would not seem too strong a
term if we could view the age in which we live in right perspective--an
age so unbalanced nervously that it demands perpetual excitement. We
have fallen into a vicious circle: the excesses of excitement create a
pathological nervous condition which craves greater excesses. The
advertisement of a head-on collision of two locomotives is said to have
drawn the largest crowd in the history of modern 'sport'; next in
attractiveness is an intercollegiate football game. It is unfortunate
that our universities, which should serve as balancing forces,--which
should inculcate the ideal of sport as a counterpoise to an overwrought
civilization,--are actually making conditions worse through cultivating,
by means of athletics as a business, that passion for excitement which
makes sustained thinking impossible and which is elsewhere kept at fever
heat by prize-fights, bullfights, and blood-curdling motion pictures.


But even if intercollegiate games are detrimental to the interests of
scholarship, is not the college spirit they create worth all they cost?
Perhaps so. A university is more than a curriculum and a campus. It is
more than the most elaborate student annual can depict. Even in
Carlyle's day, it was more than he called it: a true university was
never a mere 'collection of books.' It is the spirit that giveth life,
and 'college spirit' is certainly a name to conjure with. The first
question is what we mean by college spirit. A student may throw his hat
in the air, grab a megaphone, give 'three long rahs,' go through the
gymnastics of a cheer-leader,--putting the most ingenious mechanical
toys to shame,--and yet leave some doubt whether he has adequately
defined college spirit.

What is this college spirit that hovers over the paid coach and his
grandstand--this 'indefinable something,' as one writer calls it, 'which
is fanned into a bright flame by intercollegiate athletics'? Shall we
judge the spirit by its manifestations in an institution famed above all
else for its winning teams and its college spirit? In such an
institution, not long ago, every student was cudgeled or cajoled into
'supporting the team,' and many a callow youth acted as though he
thought he had reached the heights of self-sacrifice when he sat for
hours on the grandstand, watching practice, puffing innumerable
cigarettes, and laying up a stock of canned enthusiasm for the big game.
A student who would not support his team by betting on it was regarded
as deficient in spirit. Every intercollegiate game was the occasion of
general neglect of college courses. If the game was at a neighboring
city, the class-rooms were half empty for two days; but the bar-rooms of
that city were not empty, and worse places regularly doubled their rates
on the night of a big game. Some of the most enthusiastic supporters of
the team went to jail for disturbing the peace. If the contest took
place at home, returning alumni filled the fraternity houses and
celebrated with general drunkenness. 'An indefinable something'--consisting
of college property and that of private citizens--was 'fanned into a
bright flame' in celebration of the victory. Following this came the
spectacle of young men parading the streets in nightshirts. For
residents of the town who did not enjoy this particular kind of spirit,
the night was made hideous by the noises of revelry. All this and much
more was tolerated for years on the assumption that students, imbued
with college spirit, should not be subjected to the laws of decent
living that govern those members of civilized communities who have not
had the advantages of a higher education. The most serious difficulties
between faculties and students and between students and the police, the
country over, for the past twenty years, have arisen in connection with
displays of 'college spirit' after the 'big game.' Any college and any
community might cheerfully sacrifice this kind of college spirit.

But some men mean by college spirit something finer than lawlessness,
dissipation, and rowdyism. They mean the loyalty to an institution which
makes a student guard its good name by being manly and courteous in
conduct at all times and in all places. They mean the sense of
responsibility which aids a student in forming habits of temperance and
industry. They mean that eagerness to make a grateful use of his
opportunities which leads a student to keep his own body fit, through
moderate athletics, and a physical training that knows no season--is
never broken. By college spirit some men mean this and far more: they
mean that loyalty to a college which rivets a man to the severest tasks
of scholarship, through which he gains intellectual power and
enthusiasm, without which no graduate is an entire credit to any
college; and finally they mean that vision of an ideal life beyond
Commencement which shows a man that only through the rigid
subordination of transient and trivial pleasures can he hope to become
the only great victory a university ever wins--a trained, devoted, and
inspired alumnus, working for the welfare of mankind. There is no
evidence that the intercollegiate athletics of to-day inculcate in many
men this kind of college spirit.

Have I exaggerated the evils of intercollegiate athletics? Possibly I
have. Exceptions should be cited here and there. But I am convinced that
college faculties agree with me in my main contentions. My impression is
that at least three fourths of the teachers I have met the country over
believe that the American college would better serve its highest
purposes, if intercollegiate athletics were no more. At a recent dinner
of ten deans and presidents, they declared, one by one, in confidence,
that they would abolish intercollegiate athletics if they could
withstand the pressure of students and alumni.

Is it therefore necessary for all institutions to give up
intercollegiate athletics permanently? Probably not. Let our colleges
first adopt whatever measures may be necessary to make athletics yield
their educational values to all students and teachers. If
intercollegiate athletics can then be conducted as incidental and
contributory to the main purposes of athletics, well and good. But first
of all the question must be decisively settled, which aims are to
dominate--those of business or those of education. And it will be
difficult for a college already in the clutches of commercialism to
retain the system and at the same time cultivate a spirit antagonistic
to it. Probably the quicker and surer way would be to suspend all
intercollegiate athletics for a college generation by agreement of
groups of colleges--during which period every effort should be made to
establish the tradition of athletics for education. If an institution
could not survive such a period of transition, it is a fair question
whether the institution has any reason for survival.

Typically American though our frantic devotion to intercollegiate
athletics may be, we shall not long tolerate a system which provides
only a costly, injurious, and excessive régime of physical training for
a few students, especially those who need it least. The call to-day is
for inexpensive, healthful, and moderate exercise for all students,
especially those who need it most. Colleges must sooner or later heed
that call: their athletics must be for education, not for business.


Car-Window Botany

By Lida F. Baldwin

One thinks of the botanist as in silence and solitude wandering by some
forest brook, or penetrating into almost impenetrable swamps, or
climbing rocky mountain paths, lured on by the hope of finding some rare
and curious flower. But I in my own experience have had some of my best
finds from the windows of a railway train.

It was with people sitting all around me, and the engine puffing noisily
away on an up grade, that my delighted eyes first fell on the
one-flowered pyrola. The railway cutting had been made in the heart of
the deep forest, and as the bank settled down, some of the rarer and
shyer forest growths, such as ground-pine, arbutus, and pyrola, in the
course of years had slipped over the brink of the cutting and were now
part way down the bank. Inside the car were tired and grimy faces; just
a few feet outside were forest freshness and greenness, and the white
blossoms of the pyrola with their delicate flush.

Sometimes there is no bank on either side of the railway, and from the
car window one catches glimpses into the edges of forests, or looks
down upon swamps and small clear ponds, or gazes across broad level
meadows; but more often one's view from the car window is confined to
the narrow ditch of water just beyond the road-bed and to the sides of
the cutting just beyond the ditch. Even in that confined outlook there
are always possibilities; and it was in just such a ditch of water, as
our train slowed up on the outskirts of Buffalo, that I saw growing
great numbers of what looked like miniature calla lilies. There were the
same golden, erect spadix, and the same ivory-white spathe rolled back
in the very curve of the spathe of the calla lily; but the flower was
not one quarter the size of the calla. As usual my botany was in my
handbag; and the temptation to make a quick dash from the train, to try
to secure one specimen for analysis, was almost irresistible. But I did
resist the temptation; for the bank was quite steep, and I never could
have climbed back in time if the train had started while I was trying to
secure my flower; and a lonely woman would have been left in the dusk,
watching the train bearing her friends vanish in the deepening twilight.
But the small white beauties were never forgotten, and years afterwards
I found the flower, _arum palustris_, growing in a swamp not many miles
from my old home.

One July day I traveled from Quebec to Portland on the slowest of
trains. The road ran for much of the way, first on one side, then on
the other, of the Chaudière River, but never far out of sight of its
clear brown waters. Fortunately for me, our locomotive used wood for
fuel, and consequently every few hours we would stop at some great
woodpile in a forest clearing while the trainmen threw a fresh supply of
wood into the tender; and some of the passengers took advantage of the
stop to make short explorations into the forest. About mid-day, as we
were riding slowly along, I began to notice a pink-purple flower that
was new to me, growing here and there in rather marshy places. Shortly
after I had first seen the flower the added slowness of the train showed
that we were coming to another woodpile. The instant the train stopped I
was out of the cars, over the low rail fence, and picking my way
carefully from grassy hummock to grassy hummock; and soon I had found a
specimen. Upon analysis it proved to be calopogon, familiar to all New
Englanders from childhood, but new to my Ohio eyes.

I have never made any formal herbarium, and the only botanical record I
have ever kept consists of the date and place of my first seeing the
flower written opposite its scientific name in the margin of the pages
of my old school-girl's copy of Gray's Botany. But that is the only
record one needs to whom all the flowers one knows are either old
friends or new acquaintances--in either case distinct individuals.
Often, as I have been turning the pages of the old botany in a bit of
analyzing, I have stopped at the page on which is written, opposite the
scientific name of the calopogon, 'Saint Henry's, Canada, July 11,
1884'; and across the more than twenty years that lie between, I smell
once more the balsam of the Canadian forest, and see the amber-brown
waters of the Chaudière River, and hear the shouts of the trainmen as
they throw the great sticks of wood up to the tender; and giving color
to all this mental picture is the pink-purple blossom of the calopogon.

But all trains do not have the accommodating habit of stopping for wood
just after you have seen a strange flower; in that case, all that you
can do is, take the best mental landmarks you can, and then at the first
opportunity go back for your specimen. One summer I was going down on
the express from Philadelphia to Cape May. As you near the coast the
road runs through very level country, and between the railway and the
pine wood lies a strip of marshy ground about forty feet wide. Each
year, as I go back to the sea-coast, I watch eagerly for my first sight
of the two characteristic flowers of the Jersey coast, the swamp mallow
and the sabbatia. On this particular morning I had already seen many of
the great mallows with their rose-pink flowers, so like those of the
hollyhock that not even the most careless eye can fail to notice the
family resemblance; and I had welcomed them as a sure sign of the
fast-nearing seashore.

Now, with my face, as usual, close to the window, I was watching the
sparse marsh-grass most narrowly to see if I could detect amidst it the
pink star-shaped flower of the sabbatia. Suddenly the marsh-grass was
set thick with spikes of yellow flowers, just rising above the level of
the grass. There was only that one hurried look as the train went by;
but from that look I felt almost certain of two things: the first was
that I had never seen that flower before, and the second, that it must
be close of kin to an old flower friend of mine, the white

Then and there I determined to get that flower, and the first thing was
to make sure of its location. At first this seemed almost hopeless,
since for miles back we had had that narrow strip of marsh-grass flanked
by the unchanging pine woods; but in a few minutes our road passed under
another railway; here was one landmark, and in a couple of minutes more
we went past a way-station slowly enough for me to read the name on the
board; now I knew that I could find my plant. The next day we took one
of the local trains from Cape May, got off at the station whose name I
had read, and started down the track. After a walk of a mile we passed
under that other railroad; and about two miles farther down the track I
saw again the yellow spikes of the flowers barely o'er-topping the

It had been a hot July morning with a sultry land breeze blowing, and as
we walked the three miles down the unshaded track, we had weariedly and
unavailingly slapped at mosquitoes at every step. All of these
discomforts together had not daunted my courage; but the swarms of
mosquitoes that arose buzzing at my first step into the marsh-grass made
me draw back to the comparative security of the railway track, with the
feeling that no flower could repay one for facing those swarms. A second
look at the yellow flowers growing not thirty feet away gave me fresh
courage and I started again. I was as quick as possible; but when I was
back once more on the track, this time with my hands full of the
flowers, face and hands and arms were one mass of blotches from the
mosquito bites.

Upon analysis the flower proved to be the yellow fringed-orchis, the
handsomest species of its genus, and the one most closely allied to the
white fringed-orchis. Our train had been running about forty miles an
hour; I had never even known that there was a yellow orchid, but in that
one quick glance from the express train the unmistakable family look of
the orchis had shown.

Success and pleasure in car-window botany depend not so much on a
scientific knowledge of structural details as on the ability of the eye
to recognize at a glance the characteristic effect produced by a mass of
details. It is this ability which enables you to be sure that you
recognize the faces of old flower friends in the hurried glance cast
from the window; which enables you to tell with certainty gray-blue
clump of houstonias from gray-blue clump of hepaticas, wind-swept bank
of purplish phlox from wind-swept bank of wild geranium; and it is that
same ability to recognize the characteristic effect produced by a group
of structural details which enables one to place without analysis the
new flower in the right family.

I have always been secretly very proud of the certainty with which at
the first sight of the yellow flower I felt that it was an orchis, but
all my feeling in connection with it is not that of pleasure. Certain
flowers always recall to me certain sounds; in most cases the sound
associated with a flower is the one heard at the time at which I first
saw the flower; and to this day, with the thought of the yellow
fringed-orchis is inseparably joined that most persistent and irritating
of sounds, the buzzing of the mosquito.

But the true history of a car-window botanist is not always a record of
successful achievement, of the triumphant finding of his flower; he also
has his haunting disappointments, his glimpses of strange flowers which
he is never afterwards able to place. One July day, riding through
northern New Hampshire, I saw just over the fence at the edge of the
woods a tall plant--evidently some kind of a lily. It bore a single dark
orange-red flower, which did not droop as do the flowers of the meadow
lily, but stood stiffly erect. I have never seen that lily since; though
never does a July come, especially if it is to be spent in a new place,
that I do not think, 'Maybe this year I shall find my lily.' Perhaps,
after all, such experiences are not to be classed with the
disappointments either of life or of car-window botany--is it not rather
true that to both they give zest and expectancy?

The charm of such botanizing is not alone in finding or in hoping to
find some new flower: even more enduring is the pleasure that comes from
the recognition of the faces of old friends in new surroundings. An
April day's journey was made one long pleasure; for the swamplike ditch
just below the road-bed shone golden with the intense yellow of the
marsh-marigold, an old friend from my earliest childhood; and when the
railway ran half-way up a hillside, I spied, amid the dead leaves of
last year, the little clumps of the clustering blue hepaticas, and
recognized even in those fleeting glances the singularly starry effect
produced by the numerous white stamens; and as the train crossed over
the creeks, that flow over rocky bottoms from out the hemlock woods, I
saw in the opening up of the creek bed the June-berry trees in showers
of white bloom, looking doubly white against the dark green of the
hemlocks, just as I had seen them the day before in the hemlock woods of
Mill Creek at my own home.

One of the keenest pleasures of the railway botanist comes from his
enjoyment of the massed color of great quantities of flowers of the same
kind. One morning our train was running along through the level Jersey
country; it was at that wretched hour of the morning when you have just
taken your place in someone else's seat while the porter is getting your
own ready, and you have that all-over miserable feeling that comes from
a night's ride in a stuffy sleeper. In an instant all discomfort was
forgotten in the sight of a wide salt meadow which seemed one mass of
the pink swamp-mallows. The gray morning mist was turned silvery white
by the rising sun, and giving color to it all were the wide stretches of
the flowers. It was all one shimmering mass of misty silvery-gray,
sunlight radiance, and rose-color as delicate as that of the lining of
some seashells.

Once again, this time on one of our home roads near Pittsburg, I felt
the beauty of the color of great masses of flowers. The railway runs
along about half-way up the bluffs by the side of the Beaver River; as
we rounded a curve, the steep bank above me turned suddenly intensely
red with the vivid color of the scarlet campion. Only those who notice
most closely have any idea how rare a color in our wild flowers any
shade of true red is. Nearly all the flowers that are commonly spoken of
as red are in reality purplish pink or reddish lilac. Indeed I know only
two wild flowers whose color is a true red. One of these is the cardinal
lobelia, whose petals are of the darkest, clearest, most velvety red;
and the other flower is the scarlet campion. The color of this latter is
true scarlet, and the river bluff that June morning fairly glowed with
its bloom. It is Holmes who compares the color of the cardinal flower
to that of drops of blood new fallen from a wounded eagle's breast; but
any true comparison for the color of this other flower must be founded
on life, and on life when it is at its fullest of strength and of

Even the most ardent of car-window botanists will not claim that the
only place from which the beauty of the color of flowers in mass can be
appreciated is the window of a railway train. To all there come memories
of fitful spring days when in long country drives they have seen partly
worn-out meadows and barren hillsides turned to the softest blue-gray
mist by the delicate color of countless blossoms of houstonia. And as
they drove slowly along the partly dried, muddy roads of mid-April the
effect of every varying phase of the spring weather on the massed color
sank slowly into their consciousness. They had time to notice how blue
was the color-mist lying on the sheltered meadows in the sunshine, and
how coldly gray it grew as it crept up the hillsides across which the
chill spring wind was blowing.

And if one lives in a country where there are chestnut ridges, one looks
forward through all the spring to that one week of late June and
earliest July when the chestnut trees will be in bloom. The long
staminate flowers of the chestnut are a soft cream-yellow with a
greenish tint; and on the ridges where the trees grow in abundance the
great irregular masses of their blossoming tops do not stand out
against their background of the dark green foliage of midsummer, but
blend softly with it, giving to all such an indescribable effect of
lightness and airiness that the whole wooded ridge seems not to be
fastened securely to the earth, but to be floating cloud-like above it.
During that one week of the chestnut-blossoming one stops at door or at
window in the midst of the early morning work to watch for the moment
when the first rays of the rising sun, falling on the cream-yellow of
the chestnut tops, turn them into their own deep gold; and at the
restful close of day one lingers on the doorstep through the long June
twilight till their blossoming tops can no longer be distinguished from
the dark foliage of the other trees in the gathering darkness.

All one's life long the pictures of old meadow lands gray-blue with the
mist of the houstonias are recalled by the alternate glinting sunshine
and bleak gloom of an April day; and the blossoming chestnut woods form
the background to many recollections of the old home life. But these
pictures which have become a part of one's inmost consciousness are
scarcely more dear than that one, seen for a few moments, of the
low-lying Jersey meadows flushing rose-pink with the mallows in the
misty morning sunshine; or than that other 'vision of scarce a moment,'
the river bluff scarlet with the flowers of the campion, seen from the
windows of a railway train.


Studies in Solitude

By Fannie Stearns Gifford


She was never lonely, she told herself. The solitude of her little old
white house, sitting retired from the village street among its lilac
trees and syringas did not frighten or depress her. She could spend a
whole day of rain there, seeing no one but the grocer's boy, the big
gray cat, and occasional stooped hurrying figures out in the wet street
and could come down into evening calmly, busied with her enforced or
chosen duties and thoughts. A cloud seemed to wrap her round in many
folds of seclusion till the common world of hurry and friction and loud
or secret loves and hates was dim to her eyes and ears. Street sounds
and whistles of trains at the cross-roads were muffled echoes; but the
ticking of the tall clock, the throbbing of rain on a tin roof, the
infrequent wind banging at a loose window, the cat's creepy tread on the
stairs, grew rhythmic and insistent.

Yet she was not lonely. She never stopped to brood, listening long to
perilous voices. She denied even to certain pieces of furniture, books,
or ornaments, their passive right to conjure up the spectre of her
solitude. If a room seemed too vibrant with unseen presences, she would
enter it and drive out the quivering mystery with some brisk petty
business of sweeping, of shifting a picture, or rearranging a
book-shelf. Often she whistled softly about her work, although there
were moments when as if by an instinct she would stop short and glance
over her shoulder, to see nothing, and after that to be still.

So the day would shift from gray dawn to gray dusk; and she had not
allowed herself to think that she might have cause for loneliness, there
in the quiet house behind its dripping lilac trees.

Only in the evenings did the clock and the rain become too loud and
real. Then, as she sat with a pleasant book or broidery in the yellow
lamplit circle of her sitting-room, warm and quaint in its accumulation
of color,--old gay reds, greens, blues, tumbled together by generations
of fond house-holders, and now subdued into harmony by years and the low
light,--she would find herself all at once rigid as an ice-image, yet
alert as a coiled serpent; listening, listening,--for what? For a quick
step on the flags before the door? For a long jangling peal at the bell?
For a voice in the hall, or a sick querulous summons from the downstairs
chamber, or the scraping of a chair from above? No, she knew that she
had no cause to wait for these things. There was only the rain, the
clock, sleek Diogenes purring on the white fox-skin, the lamp wick
fretting a little to itself, and once in a while, out in the dark
street, the splash and clatter of wheels, the faint wet whisper of feet
that always passed her gate.

So, with a self-scorning smile and a drawing of her hand across her
eyes, she would take up again the book or needle-work, and stop abruptly
that rigid listening for sounds which never came. Long since, on her
first solitary night in the old house, she had vowed to herself that she
would not be sad, or strange, no matter what tricks her heart and mind
might play her. She would not fear memory and anticipation, but would
compel them to be her servants, to keep their distance. She had been
young then, and had not quite believed in her solitude. Now that she
knew it through and through, she was still aware that to look too far
back or too far forward would equally undo her. On these rainy nights of
withdrawal, her trial-times were still upon her. If she failed now, if
one shudder or one tear escaped her, she was lost forever; and the white
house would drive her out, into a world where she could no more choose
her own way of being alone.

But she was not lonely, she repeated; and to prove it, her mind would
indulge in a fantasia of loneliness. The book would slip from her hand,
and she, gazing half-hypnotized into shadowy corners, visited all the
solitary people over the wide world. It pleased her to imagine homesick
officers in stifling Indian bungalows; young men and girls, fresh come
to the City, wandering forlorn through the glare of streets, or idling
under their meagre lodging-house gas-jets; light-keepers on desolate
sand-dunes and rock-ledges, climbing at night twisted iron steps to tend
the eternal lamp; night-watchmen pacing deserted yards and
mill-corridors; sailors in the dead watch; poets and prophets trying
passionately to capture the wild visions which leaped across their
darkness; and most of all, many women sitting as she did in warm quaint
rooms, near village streets, hearing the clock tick and the rain throb.

It pleased her, to travel so on light unhindered wing. Almost it seemed
as if her soul left her body, and fared out to knock against every
lonely window and to keep dumb company round every solitary lamp. And
she felt that she was one of an endless army, marching straightforwardly
and silently out upon their lives, stripped of the disguises that
kindred and close friendship invent, and making, in return for the
silence of their hearts and the smiling of their lips, only one demand
of all that encountered them.

That demand she never shaped, of her own will. But when she had sat a
long time, dreaming, and had at length roused herself to make fast doors
and windows, had shut the cat in the kitchen, taken her hand-lamp and
gone up the broad stairs to bed--then, in the gay chintz-hung security
of her own chamber, her throat would fashion involuntarily those words
that her heart and lips refused to let themselves speak.

'It is all right enough,' her throat would say for her, as she turned
down the counterpane, untied her shoes, and wound her watch. 'I am quite
all safe and right. But--no one must ask me--if I am lonely. No one must
ever ask me that.'


It had appeared presently that her house was haunted, though not by
ghostly terrors. For herself, she had only felt, at times, the vaguely
imagined intimation of some presence other than her own in the quiet
rooms. But she had no surer knowledge of her dimly harbored guests until
a friend, wearied out with the love and care of over-many babies, came
to her for rest; and after two days of grateful idleness in her sunny
window, asked suddenly,--

'Miriam, whose are the Voices?'

'What voices?' Miriam parried; and Lucy described them: happy, laughing
voices, as of young people playing and gossiping together. 'I have heard
them so often when I was lying alone and you were out, or off somewhere.
I almost asked a dozen times who was talking. They are always
downstairs, or across the hall, or under the window; and they are such
happy voices: young voices--oh, very sweet and glad.'

Miriam smiled and stroked her friend's nervous fingers. Lucy had always
heard and seen more than other people did, and now that she was so
tired, no doubt her worn-out fancy befooled her lightly. They talked it
over together. Lucy, smiling at herself, none the less insisted: there
were Voices in the house.

'Some time you'll hear them too,' she nodded. 'They're not sad or
dreadful or gloomy; oh, no! They're just young and glad. I love to hear

And another evening, when Miriam came into the sitting-room after an
errand down the street, Lucy greeted her eagerly, saying,--

'It was music this time. Oh, I've heard such music! I almost went to see
if some one wasn't playing. It was like a harp, I think, with a violin
and piano: it was very beautiful. I thought some one _must_ be playing,
until it came to me that of course it was the Young People. It was happy
music, just as the Voices are so happy. Miriam, there _are_ young people
somehow in your house.'

It became a sort of gentle pleasant joke between them, while Lucy stayed
on. 'Have you heard them to-day?' Miriam would ask; and sometimes Lucy
replied, 'No; they must have gone off on a picnic; it was such a good
day'; or 'Yes; they were here while you were out this afternoon. I don't
see why you don't hear them.'

And Miriam would shake her head. 'I never hear and see Things, you know.
They are your Voices, Lucy; they are your babies grown-up who are
talking to you even here in my old-maid house.'

But Lucy denied it. 'No, Miriam, I never heard them anywhere else. They
belong to you and your house, and they mean something good, and sweet,
and _coming_, not gone by. They're not ghosts.'

And when at last Miriam kissed her good-bye at the train, Lucy was
saying, 'I'm glad to think of you, there in your nice sunny house, with
the Voices, and the Music. Good-bye, dear.'

As Miriam sat alone that evening, she wondered about those young happy
presences. She wished that she could hear them laugh and sing and play;
not merely feel them blindly stirring about her. She sat, deep in
reverie, smiling at Lucy's merry yet honest insistence upon her quaint
little hallucination,--at herself for more than half believing it.

'It is better that I never hear them,' she concluded at last, rather
soberly. 'I couldn't live alone this way if I heard them. It is all well
enough for Lucy, with her husband and her houseful of babies, to hear
things like that; granting that she truly did, dear mysterious
Lucy!--But if I heard them--if I heard them,--' she glanced about the
room as if she half expected to see a gay face above the piano, a bright
head bending by the lamp,--'it would mean that I was going a little bit
mad: yes, just a little bit mad, for all that they are sweet, young

She shivered, stood up quickly, and went over to the long mirror.
'Miriam,' she whispered, looking into the shadowy face that met hers,
'Lucy said those were young voices, _coming_ voices, not gone by. But
you know, Miriam, that if they are, they belong to some one else who may
live in this house: to some one else, I tell you, not to you at all.
Don't be a fool.--You've been quite sensible so far: don't spoil it all
now. Do you hear? you mustn't even wish to hear those Voices, or that
lovely harp-music. Now you understand.'

Months later she saw her friend again. 'How are the Voices?' Lucy asked
gayly, across the laughing baby who pulled at her necktie and snatched
down her curls.

'I never hear them,' Miriam answered, almost shortly. 'You know, don't
you,--"to him that hath shall be given"?--Please may I hold the baby?'


Yet often, when she had spent a part of the day or evening away from
home, she had a curious expectation of returning to find her house not
empty and silent, but with something alive in it to greet her. She did
not think of the people who had been her own in the different days so
far past, nor of her living friends, nor of the young presences whose
laughter Lucy had insisted upon hearing. It seemed to her simply that
there was more life and motion and personality in her waiting house,
than just Diogenes crouching on the front porch, and the kettle steaming
to itself on the back of the stove.

One winter evening she walked late down the village street. The moon
rode high and white. Every frosty breath shone, every step creaked and
crackled in the snow. Through the thin leafless maple-trunks and
lilac-boughs she could see her house plainly: the snowy roof, glittering
to the moon, the low eaves, ragged with silver icicles, and the four
yellow windows of the hall and sitting-room, which she had lighted
against her late return.

She had a definite sense of expectancy. She was going back to something,
to somebody--and found herself hurrying almost joyfully. But with her
hand on the gate, she stopped, and stared at the house as if it were
strange to her. An icy little stream flowed suddenly round her heart.
For a second, all the world--the moon, the village, the house, and her
own inner secret universe--staggered and reeled and shook. But as
suddenly, everything grew calm and still again. The frightful chill
melted from her blood; the moon watched her with the same high virgin
regard, and the yellow windows beckoned her home.

She went slowly up the path and into the warm silent hall.

In that moment at the gate, she had realized that it was only Herself to
whom she was going back. Herself, who made those windows bright, who
piled the logs on the hearth that now she could light and sit by,
dreaming. It was Herself, would be running down the stairs to greet
her, and fetching an apple from the pantry, and listening to her story
of the evening's doings.

It seemed to her almost as if she had become two individuals. One of her
went out into the village and the world. The other stayed always in the
little white house. She would always be waiting to greet her home.

That was all. Now that she understood it, it did not concern her any

She was becoming a good hermit, she commented; but noticed, with the
detachment that had grown upon her, that she was not going to remember
that shuddering moment at the gate. She blew the fire high, thinking,
'After all, there is nobody but Myself who understands me much,' and was
amused at her simple egotism.


But secretly she knew her most perilous enemy. It was not sadness, or
selfishness, or the Voices, or the odd wilderness of a determined
recluse. It was Eternity.

There was no telling when Eternity might claim her. Sometimes she awoke
at dawn, and went down into the dewy garden to work among the roses and
iris and pansy plants, with the birds all singing and the sun dancing
like a great wise morning star. The day wore on, as she digged and
transplanted and clipped and watered, till, weary a little, she went
into the house and took up the endless bit of sewing, or some story or
poem to finish. And all at once, in spite of the sun, the earth-smell,
the brisk village-sounds beyond her garden-fence, she knew that her
anchor dragged,--she had slipped her moorings in the safe harbor of
Time, and was drifting off, off into Eternity.

Then she cared nothing for rose-bugs, or iris-roots, or stockings to
darn, or stories to read. She thought of Love, and Sin, and Death; of
nations at war and her friends' souls in joy or agony, of God
Himself,--and they were all as nothing. She saw the flickering garden,
she heard the song-sparrow and the clucking hen, she felt her own
scrubbed and earth-stained fingers and her beating heart, but these were
not necessary to her. She was terribly remote; terribly careless and
still and proud; for she was in Eternity.

'What does it all matter?' she would murmur. 'What if they drink and
steal and sin and die? or love and lose and win and die too? And what of
me? What of me?--We are all in Eternity. God Himself is in Eternity.'

But she kept the peril close. None of the neighbors, who hailed her on
the street or gossiped on the vine-hung porch, ever noticed that often,
as she talked, she would clasp her hands with a sudden fierce little
gesture, as if she were holding tight to some strong arm, and that in
her heart she was whispering, even while the swift crooked smile danced
across her lips, 'O God, make me remember! make me remember! We're in
Time, now: not in Eternity yet: _not in Eternity yet!_'


The Greek Genius

By John Jay Chapman

The teasing perfection of Greek Literature will perhaps excite the world
long after modern literature is forgotten. Shakespeare may come to his
end and lie down among the Egyptians, but Homer will endure forever. We
hate to imagine such an outcome as this, because, while we love
Shakespeare, we regard the Greek classics merely with an overwhelmed
astonishment. But the fact is that Homer floats in the central stream of
History, Shakespeare in an eddy. There is, too, a real difference
between ancient and modern art, and the enduring power may be on the
side of antiquity.

The classics will always be the playthings of humanity, because they are
types of perfection, like crystals. They are pure intellect, like
demonstrations in geometry. Within their own limitations they are
examples of miracle; and the modern world has nothing to show that
resembles them in the least. As no builder has built like the Greeks, so
no writer has written like the Greeks. In edge, in delicacy, in
proportion, in accuracy of effect, they are as marble to our sandstone.
The perfection of the Greek vehicle is what attacks the mind of the
modern man and gives him dreams.

What relation these dreams bear to Greek feeling it is impossible to
say--probably a very remote and grotesque relation. The scholars who
devote their enormous energies to a life-and-death struggle to
understand the Greeks always arrive at states of mind which are
peculiarly modern. The same thing may be said of the severest types of
Biblical scholar. J. B. Strauss, for instance, gave his life to the
study of Christ, and, as a result, has left an admirable picture of the
German mind of 1850. Goethe, who was on his guard if ever a man could
be, was still a little deceived in thinking that the classic spirit
could be recovered. He left imitations of Greek literature which are
admirable in themselves, and rank among his most characteristic works,
yet which bear small resemblance to the originals. The same may be said
of Milton and of Racine. The Greeks seem to have used their material,
their myths and ideas, with such supernal intellect that they leave this
material untouched for the next comer. Their gods persist, their
mythology is yours and mine. We accept the toys,--the whole baby-house
which has come down to us: we walk in and build our own dramas with
their blocks.

What a man thinks of influences him, though he chance to know little
about it; and the power which the ancient world has exerted over the
modern has not been shown in proportion to the knowledge or scholarship
of the modern thinker, but in proportion to his natural force. The Greek
tradition, the Greek idea became an element in all subsequent life; and
one can no more dig it out and isolate it than one can dig out or
isolate a property of the blood. We do not know exactly how much we owe
to the Greeks. Keats was inspired by the very idea of them. They were an
obsession to Dante, who knew not the language. Their achievements have
been pressing in upon the mind of Europe, and enveloping it with an
atmospheric appeal, ever since the Dark Ages.

Of late years we have come to think of all subjects as mere departments
of science, and we are almost ready to hand over Greece to the
specialist. We assume that scholars will work out the history of art.
But it is not the right of the learned and scholarly only, to be
influenced by the Greeks, but also of those persons who know no Greek.
Greek influence is too universal an inheritance to be entrusted to
scholars, and the specialist is the very last man who can understand it.
In order to obtain a diagnosis of Greek influence one would have to seek
out a sort of specialist on Humanity-at-large.


Since we cannot find any inspired teacher to lay before us the secrets
of Greek influence, the next best thing would be to go directly to the
Greeks themselves, and to study their works freshly, almost innocently.
But to do this is not easy. The very Greek texts themselves have been
established through modern research, and the footnotes are the essence
of modernity.

The rushing modern world passes like an express train; as it goes, it
holds up a mirror to the classic world--a mirror ever changing and ever
false. For upon the face of the mirror rests the lens of fleeting
fashion. We can no more walk straight to the Greeks than we can walk
straight to the moon. In America the natural road to the classics lies
through the introductions of German and English scholarship. We are met,
as it were, on the threshold of Greece by guides who address us
confidently in two very dissimilar modern idioms, and who overwhelm us
with complacent and voluble instructions. According to these men we have
nothing to do but listen to them, if we would understand Greece.

Before entering upon the subject of Greece, let us cast a preliminary
and disillusioning glance upon our two guides, the German and the
Briton. Let us look once at each of them with an intelligent curiosity,
so that we may understand what manner of men they are, and can make
allowances in receiving the valuable and voluble assistance which they
keep whispering into our ears throughout the tour. The guides are
indispensable; but this need not prevent us from studying their
temperaments. If it be true that modern scholarship acts as a lens
through which the classics are to be viewed, we can never hope to get
rid of all the distortions; but we may make scientific allowances, and
may correct results. We may consider certain social laws of
refraction--for example, spectacles, beer, sausages. We may regard the
variations of the compass due to certain local customs, namely, the
Anglican communion, school honor, Pears' soap. In all this we sin not,
but pursue intellectual methods.

The case of Germany illustrates the laws of refraction very pleasantly.
The extraordinary lenses which were made there in the nineteenth century
are famous now, and will remain as curiosities hereafter. During the
last century, Learning won the day in Germany to an extent never before
known in history. It became an unwritten law of the land that none but
learned men should be allowed to play with pebbles. If a man had been
through the mill of the Doctorate, however, he received a certificate as
a dreamer. The passion which mankind has for using its imagination could
thus be gratified only by men who _had been_ brilliant scholars. The
result was a race of monsters, of whom Nietzsche is the greatest.

The early social life of these men was contracted. They learned all they
knew while sitting on a bench. The classroom was their road to glory.
They were aware that they could not be allowed to go out and play in the
open until they had learned their lessons thoroughly; they therefore
became prize boys. When the great freedom was at last conferred upon
them, they roamed through Greek mythology, and all other mythologies,
and erected labyrinths in which the passions of childhood may be seen
gamboling with the discoveries of adult miseducation. The gravity with
which the pundits treated each other extended to the rest of the world,
because, in the first place, they were more learned than any one else,
and in the second, many of them were men of genius. The 'finds' of
modern archæology have passed through the hands of these men, and have
received from them the labels of current classification.

After all, these pundits resemble their predecessors in learning.
Scholarship is always a specialized matter, and it must be learned as we
learn a game. Scholarship always wears the parade of finality, and yet
suffers changes like the moon. These particular scholars are merely
scholars. Their errors are only the errors of scholarship, due, for the
most part, to extravagance and ambition. A new idea about Hellas meant a
new reputation. In default of such an idea a man's career is _manquée_;
he is not an intellectual. After discounting ambition, we have left
still another cause for distrusting the labors of the German professors.
This distrust arises from a peep into the social surroundings of the
caste. Here is a great authority on the open-air life of the Greeks: he
knows all about Hellenic sport. Here is another who understands the
brilliant social life of Attica: he has written the best book upon
Athenian conversation and the market-place. Here is still a third: he
has reconstructed Greek religion: at last we know! All these miracles of
learning have been accomplished in the library--without athletics,
without conversation, without religion.

When I think of Greek civilization,--of the swarming, thieving, clever,
gleaming-eyed Greeks, of the Bay of Salamis, and of the Hermes of
Praxiteles,--and then cast my eyes on the Greatest Authority, my guide,
my Teuton master, with his barbarian babble and his ham-bone and his
self-importance, I begin to wonder whether I cannot somehow get rid of
the man and leave him behind. Alas, we cannot do that; we can only
remember his traits.

Our British mentors, who flank the German scholars as we move gently
forward toward Greek feeling, form so complete a contrast to the Teutons
that we hardly believe that _both_ kinds can represent genuine
scholarship. The Britons are gentlemen, afternoon callers, who eat small
cakes, row on the Thames, and are all for morality. They are men of
letters. They write in prose and in verse, and belong to the æsthetic
fraternity. They, like the Teutons, are attached to institutions of
learning, namely, to Oxford and Cambridge. They resemble the Germans,
however, in but a single trait--the conviction that they understand

The thesis of the British belle-lettrists, to which they devote their
energies, might be stated thus: British culture includes Greek culture.
They are very modern, very English, very sentimental, these British
scholars. While the German Doctors use Greek as a stalking-horse for
Teutonic psychology, these English gentlemen use it as a dressmaker's
model upon which they exhibit home-made English lyrics and British stock
morality. The lesson which Browning sees in _Alcestis_ is the same that
he gave us in _James Lee's Wife_. Browning's appeal is always the appeal
to robust feeling as the salvation of the world. Gilbert Murray, on the
other hand, sheds a sad, clinging, Tennysonian morality over Dionysus.
Jowett is happy to announce that Plato is theologically sound, and gives
him a ticket-of-leave to walk anywhere in England. Swinburne clings to
that belief in sentiment which marks the Victorian era, but Swinburne
finds the key to life in unrestraint instead of in restraint.

There is a whole school of limp Grecism in England, which has grown up
out of Keats's Grecian Urn, and which is now buttressed with philosophy
and adorned with scholarship; and no doubt it does bear some sort of
relation to Greece and to Greek life. But this Anglican Grecism has the
quality which all modern British art exhibits,--the very quality which
the Greeks could not abide,--it is tinged with _excess_. The Briton
likes strong flavors. He likes them in his tea, in his port wine, in his
concert-hall songs, in his pictures of home and farm life. He likes
something unmistakable, something with a smack that lets you know that
the thing has arrived. In his literature he is the same. Dickens,
Carlyle, Tennyson lay it on thick with sentiment. Keats drips with
aromatic poetry, which has a wonder and a beauty of its own--and whose
striking quality is _excess_. The scented, wholesale sweetness of the
modern æsthetic school in England goes home to its admirers because it
is easy art. Once enjoy a bit of it and you never forget it. It is
always the same, the 'old reliable,' the Oxford brand, the true, safe,
British, patriotic, moral, noble school of verse; which exhibits the
manners and feelings of a gentleman, and has success written in every
trait of its physiognomy.

How this school of poetry invaded Greece is part of the history of
British expansion in the nineteenth century. In the Victorian era the
Englishman brought cricket and morning prayers into South Africa. Robert
Browning established himself and his carpet-bag in comfortable lodgings
on the Acropolis--which he spells with a K to show his intimate
acquaintance with recent research. It must be confessed that Robert
Browning's view of Greece never pleased, even in England. It was too
obviously R. B. over again. It was Pippa and Bishop Blougram with a few
pomegranate seeds and unexpected orthographies thrown in. The
Encyclopædia Britannica is against it, and suggests, wittily enough,
that one can hardly agree with Browning that Heracles got drunk for the
purpose of keeping up _other_ people's spirits.

So, also, Edward FitzGerald was never taken seriously by the English;
but this was for another reason. His translations are the best
transcriptions from the Greek ever done by this British school; but
FitzGerald never took himself seriously. I believe that if he had only
been ambitious, and had belonged to the academic classes,--like Jowett
for instance,--he could have got Oxford behind him, and we should all
have been obliged to regard him as a great apostle of Hellenism. But he
was a poor-spirited sort of man, and never worked up his lead.

Matthew Arnold, on the other hand, began the serious profession of being
a Grecian. He took it up when there was nothing in it, and he developed
a little sect of his own, out of which later came Swinburne and Gilbert
Murray, each of whom is the true British article. While Swinburne is by
far the greater poet, Murray is by far the more important of the two
from the ethnological point of view. Murray was the first man to talk
boldly about God, and to introduce his name into all Greek myths, using
it as a fair translation of any Greek adjective. There is a danger in
this boldness. The reader's attention becomes hypnotized with wondering
in what manner God is to be introduced into the next verse. The reader
becomes so concerned about Mr. Murray's religious obsessions that he
forgets the Greek altogether and remembers only Shakespeare's hostess in
her distress over the dying Falstaff: 'Now I, to comfort him, bid him 'a
should not think of God,--I hoped there was no need to trouble himself
with any such thoughts yet.'

Murray and Arnold are twins in ethical endeavor. I think that it was
Arnold who first told the British that Greece was noted for melancholy
and for longings. He told them that chastity, temperance, nudity, and a
wealth of moral rhetoric marked the young man of the Periclean period.
Even good old Dean Plumptre has put this young man into his prefaces.
Swinburne added the hymeneal note,--the poetic nature-view,--of which
the following may serve as an example:--

    And the trees in their season brought forth and were kindled anew
    By the warmth of the mixture of marriage, the child-bearing dew.

There is hardly a page in Swinburne's Hellenizing verse that does not
blossom with Hymen. The passages would be well suited for use in the
public schools of to-day where sex-knowledge in its poetic aspects is
beginning to be judiciously introduced.

This contribution of Swinburne's,--the hymeneal touch,--and Murray's
discovery that the word God could be introduced with effect anywhere,
went like wildfire over England. They are characteristic of the latest
phase of Anglo-Grecism.

Gilbert Murray has, in late years, had the field to himself. He stands
as the head and front of Greek culture in England. It is he, more than
any one else, who is the figure-head of dramatic poetry in England
to-day; and, as such, his influence must be met, and, as it were, passed
through, by the American student who is studying the Greek classics.


The Greek genius is so different from the modern English genius that
they cannot understand each other. How shall we come to see this
clearly? The matter is difficult in the extreme; because we are all
soaked in modern feeling, and in America we are all drenched in British
influence. The desire of Britain to annex ancient Greece, the deep-felt
need that the English writers and poets of the nineteenth century have
shown to edge and nudge nearer to Greek feeling, is familiar to all of
us. Swinburne expresses his Hellenic longings by his hymeneal strains,
Matthew Arnold by sweetness and light, Gilbert Murray by sweetness and
pathos--and all through the divine right of Victorian expansion. It has
been a profoundly unconscious development in all these men. They have
instinctively and innocently attached their little oil-can to the
coattails of Euripides and of the other great Attic writers. They have
not been interested in Greek for its own sake. They have been interested
in the exploitations of Greece for the purpose of British consumption.

Some people will contend that none of the writers of this school are,
properly speaking, professional scholars. Others will contend that
professional scholarship is tolerable only because it tends to promote
cultivation of a non-professional kind. For instance, Jowett was never
regarded as a scholar by the darkest-dyed Oxford experts, and Jebb of
Cambridge is undoubtedly regarded as an amateur in Germany, because he
descends to making translations. The severest classicist is able to talk
only about texts. He is too great to do anything else. And yet, properly
speaking, these men are all scholars. Murray represents popular
scholarship to a degree which would have shocked Matthew Arnold, just as
Arnold himself would have been poison to Nauck--Nauck the author of the
text of Euripides.

But they are all scholars, and Murray, who is an Australian, and who
rose into University prominence on the wings of University Extension,
and through his lyric gift rather than through his learning, belongs to
Oxford by race and by nature, as well as by adoption. The outsider ought
not to confuse him with the whole of Oxford, and the whole of Oxford
ought not to disown him after making him the head and front of its
Hellenism so far as the world at large can judge. Murray, as St. Paul
would say, is not the inner Oxford; but Murray is the outer Oxford which
the inner Oxford cannot too eagerly sniff at or condemn; because he is
no accident, but a true-bred Oxonian of the Imperial epoch.

The tendency of universities has ever been to breed cliques and secret
societies, to produce embroideries and start hothouses of specialized
feeling. They do well in doing this: it is all they can do. We should
look upon them as great furnaces of culture, largely social in their
influence, which warm and nourish the general temperament of a nation.
Would that in America we had a local school of classic cultivation half
as interesting as this Oxford Movement--quaint and non-intellectual as
it is! It is alive and it is national. While most absurd from the point
of view of universal culture, it is most satisfactory from the domestic
point of view--as indeed everything in England is. If in America we ever
develop any true universities, they will have faults of their own. Their
defects will be of a new strain, no doubt, and will reflect our national
shortcomings. These thoughts but teach us that we cannot use other
people's eyes or other people's eye-glasses. We have still to grind the
lenses through which we shall, in our turn, observe the classics.


Ancient religion is of all subjects in the world the most difficult.
Every religion, even at the time it was in progress, was always
completely misunderstood, and the misconceptions have increased with the
ages. They multiply with every monument that is unearthed. If the
Eleusinian mysteries were going at full blast to-day, so that we could
attend them, as we do the play at Oberammergau, their interpretation
would still present difficulties. Mommsen and Rhode would disagree. But
ten thousand years from now, when nothing survives except a line out of
St. John's Gospel and a tablet stating that Fischer played the part of
Christ for three successive decades, many authoritative books will be
written about Oberammergau, and reputations will be made over it.
Anything which we approach as religion becomes a nightmare of
suggestion, and hales us hither and thither with thoughts beyond the
reaches of the soul.

The _Alcestis_ and the _Bacchantes_ are, in this paper, approached with
the idea that they are _plays_. This seems not to have been done often
enough with Greek plays. They are regarded as examples of the sublime,
as forms of philosophic thought, as moral essays, as poems, even as
illustrations of dramatic law, and they are unquestionably all of these
things. But they were primarily plays--intended to pass the time and
exhilarate the emotions. They came into being as plays, and their form
and make-up can best be understood by a study of the dramatic business
in them. They become poems and philosophy incidentally, and afterwards:
they were born as plays. A playwright is always an entertainer, and
unless his desire to hold his audience overpoweringly predominates, he
will never be a success. It is probable that even with Æschylus,--who
stands _hors ligne_ as the only playwright in history who was really in
earnest about morality,--we should have to confess that his passion as a
dramatic artist came _first_. He held his audiences by strokes of
tremendous dramatic novelty. Both the stage traditions and the plays
themselves bear this out. The fact is that it is not easy to keep people
sitting in a theatre; and unless the idea of holding their attention
predominates with the author, they will walk out, and he will not be
able to deliver the rest of his story.

In the grosser forms of dramatic amusement--for example, where a bicycle
acrobat is followed by a comic song--we are not compelled to find
philosophic depth of idea in the sequence. But in dealing with works of
great and refined dramatic genius like the _Tempest_, or the
_Bacchantes_, where the emotions played upon are subtly interwoven,
there will always be found certain minds which remain unsatisfied with
the work of art itself, but must have it explained. Even Beethoven's
Sonatas have been supplied with philosophic addenda--statements of their
meaning. We know how much Shakespeare's intentions used to puzzle the
Germans. Men feel that somewhere at the back of their own consciousness
there is a philosophy or a religion with which the arts have some
relation. In so far as these affinities are touched upon in a manner
that leaves them mysteries, we have good criticism; but when people
dogmatize about them, we have bad criticism. In the meantime the great
artist goes his way. His own problems are enough for him.

The early critics were puzzled to classify the _Alcestis_, and no
wonder, for it contains many varieties of dramatic writing. For this
very reason it is a good play to take as a sample of Greek spirit and
Greek workmanship. It is a little Greek cosmos, and it happens to depict
a side of Greek thought which is sympathetic to modern sentiment, so
that we seem to be at home in its atmosphere. The _Alcestis_ is thought
to be in a class by itself. And yet, indeed, under close examination,
every Greek play falls into a class by itself (there are only about
forty-five of them in all), and the maker of each was probably more
concerned at the time with the dramatic experiment upon which he found
himself launched than he was with any formal classification which
posterity might assign to his play.

In the _Alcestis_ Euripides made one of the best plays in the world,
full of true pathos, full of jovial humor, both of which sometimes verge
upon the burlesque. The happy ending is understood from the start, and
none of the grief is painful. Alcestis herself is the good-wife of Greek
household myth, who is ready to die for her husband. To this play the
bourgeois takes his half-grown family. He rejoices when he hears that it
is to be given. The absurdities of the fairy-tale are accepted simply.
Heracles has his club, Death his sword, Apollo his lyre. The women wail,
Admetus whines; there is buffoonery, there are tears, there is wit,
there is conventional wrangling, and that word-chopping so dear to the
Mediterranean theatre, which exists in all classic drama and survives in
the Punch and Judy show of to-day. And there is the charming return of
Heracles with the veiled lady whom he presents to Admetus as a slave for
safe keeping, whom Admetus refuses to receive for conventional reasons,
but whom every child in the audience feels to be the real Alcestis, even
before Heracles unveils her and gives her back into her husband's bosom
with speeches on both sides that are like the closing music of a dream.

The audience disperses at the close, feeling that it has spent a happy
hour. No sonata of Mozart is more completely beautiful than the
_Alcestis_. No comedy of Shakespeare approaches it in perfection. The
merit of the piece lies, not in any special idea it conveys, but
entirely in the manner in which everything is carried out.


It is clear at a glance that the _Alcestis_ belongs to an epoch of
extreme sophistication. Everything has been thought out and polished;
every ornament is a poem. If a character has to give five words of
explanation or of prayer, it is done in silver. The tone is all the tone
of cultivated society, the appeal is an appeal to the refined,
casuistical intelligence. The smile of Voltaire is all through Greek
literature; and it was not until the age of Louis XIV, or the Regency,
that the modern world was again to know a refinement and a
sophistication which recall the Greek work. Now, in one word,--this
subtlety which pleases us in matters of sentiment is the very thing that
separates us from the Greek upon the profoundest questions of
philosophy. Where religious or metaphysical truth is touched upon,
either Greek sophistication carries us off our feet with a rapture which
has no true relation to the subject, or else we are offended by it. We
do not understand sophistication. The Greek has pushed aesthetic
analysis further than the modern can bear. We follow well enough through
the light issues, but when the deeper questions are reached we lose our
footing. At this point the modern cries out in applause, 'Religion,
philosophy, pure feeling, the soul!'--He cries out, 'Mystic cult,
Asiatic influence, Nature worship,--deep things over there!'--Or else he
cries, 'What amazing cruelty, what cynicism!' And yet it is none of
these things, but only the artistic perfection of the work which is
moving us. We are the victims of clever stage-management.

The cruder intelligence is ever compelled to regard the man of complex
mind as a priest or as a demon. The child, for instance, asks about the
character in a story, 'But is he a good man or a bad man, papa?' The
child must have a moral explanation of anything which is beyond his
æsthetic comprehension. So also does the modern intelligence question
the Greek.

The matter is complicated by yet another element, namely stage
convention. Our modern stage is so different from the classic stage that
we are bad judges of the Greek playwright's intentions. The quarrels
which arise as to allegorical or secondary meanings in a work of art are
generally connected with some unfamiliar feature of its setting. A great
light is thrown upon any work of art when we show how its form came into
being, and thus explain its primary meaning. Such an exposition of the
primary or apparent meaning is often sufficient to put all secondary
meanings out of court. For instance: It is, as we know, the Germans who
have found in Shakespeare a coherent philosophic intention. They think
that he wrote plays for the purpose of stating metaphysical truths. The
Englishman does not believe this, because the Englishman is familiar
with that old English stage work. He knows its traditions, its
preoccupation with story-telling, its mundane character, its
obliviousness to the sort of thing that Germany has in mind. The
Englishman knows the conventions of his own stage, and this protects
him from finding mares'-nests in Shakespeare. Again, Shakespeare's
sonnets used to be a favorite field for mystical exegesis, until Sir
Sidney Lee explained their form by reference to the sixteenth-century
sonnet literature of the continent. This put to flight many theories.

In other words, the appeal to convention is the first duty of the
scholar. But, unfortunately, in regard to the conventions of the Classic
Stage, the moderns are all in the dark. Nothing like that stage exists
to-day. We are obliged to make guesses as to its intentions, its humor,
its relation to philosophy. If the classics had only possessed a
cabinet-sized drama, like our own, we might have been at home there. But
this giant-talk, this megaphone-and-buskin method, offers us a problem
in dynamics which staggers the imagination. All we can do is to tread
lightly and guess without dogmatizing. The typical Athenian, Euripides,
was so much deeper-dyed in skepticism than any one since that day, that
really no one has ever lived who could cross-question him--let alone
expound the meanings of his plays. In reading Euripides, we find
ourselves, at moments, ready to classify him as a satirist, and at other
moments as a man of feeling. Of course he was both. Sometimes he seems
like a religious man, and again, like a charlatan. Of course he was
neither. He was a playwright.


The _Bacchantes_, like every other Greek play, is the result, first, of
the legend, second, of the theatre. There is always some cutting and
hacking, due to the difficulty of getting the legend into the building.
Legends differ as to their dramatic possibilities, and the incidents
which are to be put on the stage must be selected by the poet. The site
of the play must be fixed. Above all, a Chorus must be arranged for.

The choosing of a Chorus is indeed one of the main problems of the
tragedian. If he can hit on a natural sort of Chorus he is a made man.
In the _Alcestis_ we saw that the whole background of grief and wailing
was one source of the charm of the play. Not only are the tragic parts
deepened, but the gayer scenes are set off by this feature. If the fable
provides no natural and obvious Chorus, the playwright must bring his
Chorus on the stage by stretching the imagination of the audience. He
employs a group of servants or of friends of the hero; if the play is a
marine piece, he uses sailors. The whole atmosphere of his play depends
upon the happiness of his choice.

In the _Agamemnon_ 'the old men left-at-home' form the Chorus. There is
enough dramatic power in this one idea to carry a play. It is so
natural: the old men are on the spot; they are interested; they are the
essence of the story, and yet external to it. These old men are, indeed,
the archetype of all choruses--a collection of by-standers, a sort of
little dummy audience, intended to steer the great, real audience into a
comprehension of the play.

The Greek dramatist found this very useful machine, the Chorus, at his
elbow; but he was, on the other hand, greatly controlled by it. It had
ways of its own: it inherited dramatic necessities. The element of
convention and of theatrical usage is so very predominant in the
handling of Greek choruses by the poets, that we have in chorus-work
something that may be regarded almost as a constant quality. By studying
choruses one can arrive at an idea of the craft of Greek
play-writing--one can even separate the conventional from the personal
to some extent.

The Greek Chorus has no mind of its own; it merely gives echo to the
last dramatic thought. It goes forward and back, contradicts itself,
sympathizes with all parties or none, and lives in a limbo. Its real
function is to represent the slow-minded man in the audience. It does
what he does, it interjects questions and doubts, it delays the plot and
indulges in the proper emotions during the pauses. These functions are
quite limited, and were completely understood in Greek times; so much
so, that in the typical stock tragedy of the Æschylean school certain
saws, maxims, and reflections appear over and over again. One of them,
of course, was, 'See how the will of the gods works out in unexpected
ways.' Another, 'Let us be pious, and reverence something that is
perhaps behind the gods themselves.' Another, 'This is all very
extraordinary: let us hope for the best.' Another, 'Our feelings about
right and wrong must somehow be divine; traditional morality,
traditional piety, are somehow right.'

Precisely the same reflections are often put in the mouths of the
subordinate characters, and for precisely the same purpose. 'Oh, may the
quiet life be mine! Give me neither poverty nor riches: for the
destinies of the great are ever uncertain.' 'Temptation leads to
insolence, and insolence to destruction'; and so forth. Such reflections
serve the same purpose, by whomever they are uttered. They underscore
the moral of the story and assure the spectator that he has not missed
the point.

As religious tragedy broadened into political and romantic tragedy, the
Chorus gained a certain freedom in what might be called its
interjectional duty,--its duty, that is to say, of helping the plot
along by proper questions, and so forth. It gained also a Protean
freedom in its emotional interpretations during pauses. The playwrights
apparently discovered that by the use of music and dancing, the most
subtle and delicate, nay, the most whimsical varieties of lyrical mood
could be conveyed to great audiences. In spite of this license, however,
the old duties of the Chorus as guardians of conservative morality
remained unchanged; and the stock phrases of exhortation and warning
remained _de rigueur_ in the expectation of the audience. Their meaning
had become so well known that, by the time of Æschylus, they were
expressed in algebraic terms.

No man could to-day unravel a Chorus of Æschylus if only one such Chorus
existed. The truncated phrases and elliptical thoughts are clear, to us,
because we have learned their meaning through reiteration, and because
they always mean the same thing. The poet has a license to provide the
Chorus with dark sayings,--dark in form, but simple in import. It was,
indeed, his duty to give these phrases an oracular character. In the
course of time such phrases became the terror of the copyists. Obscure
passages became corrupt in process of transcription; and thus we have
inherited a whole class of choral wisdom which we understand _well
enough_ (just as the top gallery understood it _well enough_) to help us
in our enjoyment of the play. The obscurity, and perhaps even some part
of what we call 'corruption,' are here a part of the stage convention.

Now with regard to the _Bacchantes_--the scheme of having Mænads for a
Chorus gave splendid promise of scenic effect; and the fact that, as a
logical consequence, these ladies would have to give utterance to the
usual maxims of piety, mixed in with the rhapsodies of their
professional madness, did not daunt Euripides. He simply makes the
Chorus do the usual chorus work, without burdening his mind about
character-drawing. Thus the Mænads, at moments when they are not
pretending to be Mænads, and are not singing, 'Away to the mountains, O
the foot of the stag,' and so on, are obliged to turn the other cheek,
and pretend to be interested by-standers--old gaffers, wagging their
beards, and quoting the book of Proverbs. The transition from one mood
to the other is done in a stroke of lightning, and seems to be
independent of the music. That is, it _seems_ to make no difference, so
long as the musical schemes are filled out, whether the ladies are
singing, 'On with the dance, let joy be unconfined!' or, 'True wisdom
differs from sophistry, and consists in avoiding subjects that are
beyond mortal comprehension.' All such discrepancies would, no doubt,
have been explained if we possessed the music; but the music is lost. It
seems, at any rate, certain that the grand public was not expected to
understand the word-for-word meaning of choruses; hence their license to
be obscure. We get the same impression from the jibes of Aristophanes,
whose ridicule of the pompous obscurity of Æschylus makes us suspect
that the audiences could not follow the grammar in the lofty parts of
the tragedy. They accepted the drum-roll of horror, and understood the
larger grammar of tragedy, much as we are now forced to do in reading
the plays.

It would seem that by following the technique of tragedy, and by giving
no thought to small absurdities, Euripides got a double effect out of
his Mænads and no one observed that anything was wrong. In one place he
resorts to a dramatic device, which was perhaps well known in his day,
namely, the 'conversion' of a bystander. After the First Messenger has
given the great description of Dionysus's doings in the mountains, the
Chorus, or one of them, with overpowering yet controlled emotion, steps
forward and says, 'I tremble to speak free words in the presence of my
King; yet nevertheless be it said: Dionysus is no less a god than the
greatest of them!' This reference to the duty of a subject is probably
copied from a case where the Chorus was made up of local bystanders. In
the mouth of a Mænad the proclamation is logically ridiculous; yet so
strange are the laws of what 'goes' on the stage that it may have been
effective even here.

Some of the choruses in the _Bacchantes_ are miracles of poetic beauty,
of savage passion, of liquid power. It is hard to say exactly what they
are, but they are wonderful. And behind all, there gleams from the whole
play a sophistication as deep as the Ægean.


There is one thing that we should never do in dealing with anything
Greek. We should not take a scrap of the Greek mind and keep on
examining it until we find a familiar thought in it. No bit of Greek
art is to be viewed as a thing in itself. It is always a fragment, and
gets its value from the whole. Every bit of carved stone picked up in
Athens is a piece of architecture; so is every speech in a play, every
phrase in a dialogue. You must go back and bring in the whole Theatre or
the whole Academy, and put back the fragment in its place by means of
ladders, before you can guess at its meaning. The inordinate
significance that seems to gleam from every broken toy of Greece,
results from this very quality--that the object is a part of something
else. Just because the thing has no meaning by itself, it implies so
much. Somehow it drags the whole life of the Greek nation before you.
The favorite Greek maxim, 'Avoid excess,' does the same. It keeps
telling you to remember yesterday and to-morrow; to remember the
_palæstra_ and the market-place; above all to remember that the very
opposite of what you say is also true. Wherever you are, and whatever
doing, you must remember the _rest_ of the Greek world.

It is no wonder that the Greeks could not adopt the standards and
contrivances of other nations, while their own standards and
contrivances resulted from such refined and perpetual balancing and
shaving of values. This refinement has become part of their daily life;
and whether one examines a drinking cup or a dialogue or a lyric, and
whether the thing be from the age of Homer or from the age of
Alexander, the fragment always gives us a glimpse into the same Greek
world. The foundation of this world seems to be the Myth; and as the
world grew it developed in terms of Myth. The Greek mind had only one
background. Athletics and Statuary, Epic and Drama, Religion and Art,
Skepticism and Science expressed themselves through the same myths. In
this lies the fascination of Greece for us. What a complete cosmos it
is! And how different from any other civilization! Modern life, like
modern language, is a monstrous amalgam, a conglomeration and mess of
idioms from every age and every clime. The classic Greek hangs together
like a wreath. It has been developed rapidly, during a few hundred
years, and has an inner harmony like the temple. Language and
temple--each was an apparition; each is, in its own way, perfect.

Consider wherein Rome differed from Greece. The life of the Romans was a
patchwork, like our own. Their religion was formal, their art imported,
their literature imitative, their aims were practical, their interests
unimaginative. All social needs were controlled by political
considerations. This sounds almost like a description of modern life;
and it explains why the Romans are so close to us. Cicero, Horace,
Cæsar, Antony, are moderns. But Alcibiades, Socrates, Pericles, and the
rest take their stand in Greek fable. Like Pisistratus, Solon, and
Lycurgus, they melt into legend and belong to the realms of the

No other people ever bore the same relation to their arts that the
Greeks bore; and in this lies their charm. When the Alexandrine critics
began to classify poetry and to discuss perfection, they never even
mentioned the Roman poetry, although all of the greatest of it was in
existence. Why is this? It is because no Roman poem is a poem at all
from the Greek point of view. It is too individual, too clever, and,
generally, too political. Besides, it is not in Greek. The nearest
modern equivalent to the development of the whole Greek world of art is
to be found in German contrapuntal music. No one except a German has
ever written a true sonata or a symphony, in the true polyphonic German
style. There are _tours de force_ done by other nationalities; but the
natural idiom of this music is Teutonic.

I am not condemning the Latins, or the moderns. Indeed, there is in
Horace something nobler and more humane than in all Olympus. The Greeks,
moreover, seem in their civic incompetence like children, when
contrasted with the Romans or with the moderns. But in power of
utterance, within their own crafts, the Greeks are unapproachable. Let
us now speak of matters of which we know very little.

The statues on the Parthenon stand in a region where direct criticism
cannot reach them, but which trigonometry may, to some extent,
determine. Their beauty probably results from an artistic knowledge so
refined, a sophistication so exact, that, as we gaze, we lose the
process and see only results. A Greek architect could have told you just
what lines of analysis must be followed in order to get these effects in
grouping and in relief. It is all, no doubt, built up out of _tonic_ and
_dominant_--but the manual of counter-point has been lost. As the tragic
poet fills the stage with the legend, so the sculptor fills the metope
with the legend. Both are closely following artistic usage: each is
merely telling the old story with new refinement. And whether we gaze at
the actors on the stage or at the figures in the metope, whether we
study a lyric or listen to a dialogue, we are in communion with the same
genius, the same legend. The thing which moves and delights us is a

This Genius is not hard to understand. Any one can understand it. That
is the proof of its greatness. As Boccaccio said of Dante, not learning
but good wits are needed to appreciate him. One cannot safely look
toward the mind of the modern scholar for an understanding of the Greek
mind, because the modern scholar is a specialist--a thing the Greek
abhors. If a scholar to-day knows the acoustics of the Greek stage, that
is thought to be a large enough province for him. He is not allowed to
be an authority on the scenery. In the modern scholar's mind everything
is in cubby-holes; and everybody to-day wants to become an authority.
Every one, moreover, is very serious to-day; and it does not do to be
too serious about Greek things, because the very genius of Greece has in
it a touch of irony, which combines with our seriousness to make a
heavy, indigestible paste. The Greek will always laugh at you if he can,
and the only hope is to keep him at arm's length, and deal with him in
the spirit of social life, of the world, of the _beau monde_, and of
large conversation. His chief merit is to stimulate this spirit. The
less we dogmatize about his works and ways, the freer will the world be
of secondary, second-rate commentaries. The more we study his works and
ways, the fuller will the world become of intellectual force.

The Greek classics are a great help in tearing open those strong
envelopes in which the cultivation of the world is constantly getting
glued up. They helped Europe to cut free from theocratic tyranny in the
late Middle Ages. They held the Western world together after the fall of
the Papacy. They gave us modern literature: indeed, if one considers all
that comes from Greece, one can hardly imagine what the world would have
been like without her. The lamps of Greek thought are still burning in
marble and in letters. The complete little microcosm of that Greek
society hangs forever in the great macrocosm of the moving world, and
sheds rays which dissolve prejudice, making men thoughtful, rational,
and gay. The greatest intellects are ever the most powerfully affected
by it; but no one escapes. Nor can the world ever lose this benign
influence, which must, so far as philosophy can imagine, qualify human
life forever.


In Praise of Old Ladies

By Lucy Martin Donnelly

It is everywhere the custom, in life, in literature, to celebrate the
young girl; to praise her pink cheeks, her shining hair, her innocence,
her gayeties--her muslins, even, and blue ribbons. She has become in
these latter days a proverb, a type--_la jeune fille_. Yet, to the
discreet observer how gaudy is her charm, how showy and unsubstantial,
and of the day only, when matched with graces like those of the truly
incomparable old lady! It is an antique convention that hurries off old
age with decrepitude and care and quavering palsy. And it may be that
the old gentleman is unamiable; that, his days of strenuousness fairly
over, he becomes crabbed, a lover of snuff, and unpoetical. But the old
lady is a creature of another quality. The refinements of age only
enhance the femininity of her charm; to her, whimsicalities, delicate
occupations, the fine lines that etch themselves expressively across her
brow and about her mouth, are all vastly becoming. With what ineffable
grace, moreover, she pronounces certain words in the elegant fashion of
an age ago! How softly the old Indian shawls she wears fall about her
shoulders! What strange, unlikely stories she tells of the beginning of
the century!

I am indeed no novice to her charms. I have been victim to the
enchantments of a long line of old ladies from my earliest years upward.
When my frocks were still short and I still suffered under the ignominy
of pinafores, I remember very well following a friend of my
grandmother's about, and fetching big books for her. She was an
exceedingly learned old lady, I take it; indeed, my grandmother always
spoke of her as strong-minded, wherefore I am sometimes led to doubt
whether she would so unreservedly have pleased my maturer taste. But in
those early days my devotion impelled me even to the point of learning
the alphabets of the curious languages she read. What constituted her
peculiar, her romantic charm, however, was the fact that she had
traveled in many far-away countries. I always understood it was their
strange suns that had turned her skin the yellow color of old parchment,
and stopped the whitening of her hair at a grizzly gray. This particular
ugly gray I admired along with the rest: it suggested worldly
sophistication and a cosmopolitan experience, as did no less her deep
voice and blue-veined hands, and her habit of taking a vigorous walk in
the morning, before breakfast. Her daughter, she told me, was named
Aurore. How I wished that I myself had been favored with such a name!

My grandmother was very different--much prettier and gentler, no doubt;
but her daughters bore such stiff, old-fashioned names as Anne and
Emeline, and she herself had seldom left New England, and took only a
short walk in the sun at noonday, under a tiny black silk parasol. At
other times she sat beside her work-table, which had legs of twisted
mahogany, and a crimson silk bag hanging down from the middle in a way I
never understood. Out of this she occasionally brought scraps of faded
old brocades,--pink and green they would be, with a rare yellow, or a
blue still a little gay; and now and then, when the winter evenings
until my bedtime were long, she even found bright-colored beads in a
small drawer at the side. Although she had been 'a proficient' in music
as a girl, I think she knew no language save English. Emerson she read
chiefly; the prayers of Theodore Parker; black volumes of sermons by
William Ellery Channing; and sometimes, to me, in a very soft voice,
Whittier's poems. In the late afternoons she was accustomed to play at
solitaire, letting me sit at a corner of the table to look on. Not
infrequently, when excited by the odds against which we were fighting, I
forgot to hold up my head, and my long brown curls, falling down among
the cards, threw them into disarray, and obliged me to sit at a
penitential distance. My grandmother did not choose to be interrupted.
But all the games in turn she invariably won by a deft rearrangement of
the cards when she saw them going wrong. 'With one's self, you know, my
dear,' she would say, judiciously distributing diamonds among the
spades,--'with one's self it is quite understood.'

Since the days of my grandmother and her friends I have known a hundred
other old ladies, if none more charming. There are, I dare say, persons
who, in going about the world, meet people of other sorts: actors,
perhaps, or ladies of fashion, or diplomatists,--first of all, I fancy,
to be desired,--or spiritualists, or musicians. Personally, I never fall
in with any one except old ladies. In a railway train, for example, I am
sure to find myself opposite or beside one, and of late years they have
generally had birds with them.

The first I remember--with a bird, that is--was in a German railway
carriage going from Berlin to Hanover. At least, my destination was
Hanover; the old lady herself was on her way home to Düsseldorf. She had
been visiting her nephews and nieces in Berlin; she had a great many of
them, she told me. From her fingers, covered with old pearl and diamond
rings, I gathered that she was very rich; and from the bouquets of many
colors, ranged in the luggage-rack above her head, that the nephews and
nieces were trying to persuade her to leave them her fortune. She wore,
nevertheless, an air of extreme detachment, holding her long netted silk
purse--through whose meshes the Prussian gold gleamed--tightly clasped
between two fat fingers. Altogether she was a very portly and
regal-looking person, and gave you the impression of being dressed in
black velvet, though in point of fact I do not think that she was. But
her mantle was fringed heavily several times about, and her hat--for she
wore a hat with a brim that dropped slightly, discreetly, all
around--was also bordered by a black fringe that just cleared her faded
eyebrows and her black beady eyes. She had a gouty foot, too,--she was
quite complete,--that rested on a little folding stool she had brought
with her; and she rang imperiously for the guard. When he came she
ordered coffee, bullying the cream-faced Teuton into bringing a double
portion of sugar to feed her bird, a little green creature, disposed
among the flowers above her head. It was with a good deal of difficulty
that she struggled up to reach him, but to have him handed down would,
she said, excite him unnecessarily. 'Mein Männchen, mein Männchen,' she
murmured in a deep, tender tone, as she fed him each successive crumb.
After feasting the bird she turned her attention to me, and asking to
see the book that I was absorbed in, she kept it until we arrived at
Hanover. I had evidently read too much in trains, she remarked, alluding
to my eye-glasses. Americans, she knew, were very foolish. Then she
asked me the price of everything in the States, and of my traveling bag
in particular, and quarreled with me as to the number of marks in a
dollar. 'You'll find that I am right,' she assured me, as I was
squeezing myself and the brown leather bag she admired out of the narrow
door of the German coupé. 'You'll find there are six marks in every
dollar. Auf wiedersehen, Fräulein.'

The last of my old ladies with birds I met only a month or two ago, on
the way from London down to Southsea,--the one place in all the world, I
suppose, whither a thin spinster, accompanied by a ragged-tailed bird
named Tip, should be traveling. She was, of course, very different from
the German dowager; not so far on in years, and, as I indicated,
exaggeratedly thin; shy, furthermore, and dressed in a worn black-silk
gown, with a lace collar at her throat drawn together by a hair brooch.
And she spoke only from time to time, to inquire if we must change
carriages at Woking; meanwhile looking a little greedily from Tip to the
seedcakes in the hands of three English schoolgirls, who, with shortish
frocks and longish hair hanging over their shoulders, sat in a row on my
side of the carriage, and scattered crumbs enough to have fattened a
family of partridges.

Old ladies at sea, though there without the embellishments of flowers
and birds, I have found no less attractive than on land. I fell in with
a party of them in the early summer, on their way to Carlsbad to drink
the waters; with the exception, that is, of two or three whose
destination was Kissingen, and who disbelieved altogether, I learned
when we were a few days out from New York, in the rheumatism of the
Carlsbad-bound ladies. Carlsbad, they assured me,--punctuating their
remarks with sniffs of their smelling-bottles as I tucked cushions
behind their poor backs,--Carlsbad was all fine clothes and frivolity
and band music (than which surely nothing has a more wicked sound), and
was by no means the place a person really ill would dream of retiring to
for her health's sake.

But it matters very little whether I travel in trains or in ships, or
whether I rest quietly at home, my companions are rarely of my own age.
If I am asked out to luncheon to meet the wife of a melancholy doubtful
poet who died young, and on my way to the house in question dwell, not
unnaturally, on her youthful tragic grief, on my arrival I find myself
confronted by a fat, kindly old lady, crowned with a large black-beaded
bonnet that shows a bunch of purple flowers above either ear. If I go to
visit some beautiful house secluded in the country, it is an old lady
who stands on the threshold. I remember such a mansion, built in Tudor
times, and topped with chimneys calculated to make you sigh your soul
away in longing; it had once been the dower house of an English queen,
and in front of it two peacocks paraded proudly all day long. Others, I
knew, went to admire it, and were entertained by the granddaughter, or
at least by the middle-aged daughter, of its mistress. Not so on the
sunny morning of my visit. Lady W---- herself was working among the
flowers in her garden, and herself showed me back to the cascade and the
tulip tree, stepping over the lawn with the spirit of a girl, and
apologizing with a girl's vanity, too, for her garden hat and gloves.

She was the very flower and mirror of all the old ladies I have ever
known; conscious, if you will, of her charm, and all the more charming
for that. She led me into the drawing room--she knew she held my heart
in her hand--to see her portrait, which, though painted by a celebrated
artist, made her look very like any other old lady in velvet and a
bonnet and furs. Her great gayety, her beautiful eyes, the sweet curving
lines about her mouth, were all forgotten. 'I don't know,' she said to
me a little stiffly, as she paused before it, and for a moment glanced
across to her maternal grandmother done by Reynolds, with pink cheeks,
and with a pink rose in her hand instead of a muff, 'I don't know, my
dear, whether it is like or not, but certainly it is a very odd

More delightful though each one be than the last, it is but reasonable
that the wealth of my experience among old ladies should have led me to
certain discriminations. Old ladies, I am prepared to say, divide
themselves into two classes: the thin, namely, and the fat. Nor is this
discrimination so artificial as it may appear. Another equally
expressive, equally conclusive, could not be made. And of the two--but
this is a matter of prejudice--I prefer the thin, as having commonly
more wit, more liveliness, brighter eyes, and a taste for anecdote
generally wanting, I think it only right to say, in the fatter, kindlier
class. My point of view is possibly ultra-modern, but what will you? _La
grande dame_, so called, vanished with the days and ideals of Louis XIV.
At the end of two centuries or so she is rarely to be met with. I have
known her only once in all her traditional fairness, but then she was of
the essence of perfection. She gave one the impression of having never
for a moment been out of the great world; of having lived, though in New
York, perpetually with princes--'_les princes du sang, les princes
étrangers, les grands-seigneurs façon de princes_.' But what is my
ungraceful pen that it should hazard a description of her, or attempt
the splendor of her white hair and her white hands! Her graciousness,
her elegance, her worldliness, are not to be compassed by a sentence.

Among modern old ladies, of whom I speak somewhat less diffidently, I
affect the more frivolous sort. My own feeling is, very strictly, that
in old age the world of affairs should be left behind, and one's hours
passed pleasantly among pleasant things. Age should be impulsive,
light-hearted--brilliant, if you will; it should fill its days with
flowers and music and embroidery; it should drive in low carriages
behind plump ponies; it should write a pretty, pointed, epistolary
hand, and read nothing heavier than memoirs. Intellectuality may be all
very well in youth, but in an old lady anything beyond a delicate
pedantry is unlovely. I like old ladies with decided opinions, with a
gift for repartee and some skill in the passions. Curiosities, strange
modesties,--I knew of an old lady who brought her grandsons up never to
look into a butcher's shop, deeming it indecorous, even
indecent,--fantastic economies, eccentricities of various sorts, are
delightful. And of all these things the insipidity and jejuneness of
youth perforce know nothing. The very pattern of young girls is bound by
a strait-lacing conventionality. Formalities, anxieties, uncertainties,
sit upon her sleeve. She has no alternative, innocent creature, save to
order her days and lay her plans in behalf of a charming old ladyhood.


A Memory of Old Gentlemen

By Sharlot M. Hall

I have always shared the preference of the poet Swinburne for very old
people and very little children, and, as it has happened, nearly all of
my old people have been of that sex to which Shakespeare refers as
coming eventually to the 'lean and slippered pantaloon.'

It began when I was a particularly roly-poly little girl of four, with
brown braids carried through the back of my sunbonnet and tied fast in
its strings, that the unwelcome shadow of that blue gingham might never
be absent.

In compensation, I suppose, there was an equally roly-poly old gentleman
who used to toss me up in the long swing under the big oak trees,
singing in rhythm to my swaying self the chorus of a then popular

    Swinging in the lane; swinging in the lane;
    Sweetest girl I ever met was swinging in the lane.

The great, bending branches spread a canopy befitting a Druid temple,
and the new little leaves, like crumpled bronze velvet, brushed my face
as I held fast to the ropes, all a-tremble with the spirit of adventure
and a little fear that the earth was so very far away, and was tossed up
till I could peep into the nest out of which my pet blue jay had tumbled
a week before. One of his brothers sat, a disconsolate fluff of faded
blue feathers, on the edge of the nest, and the parent birds squalled
noisy protest at the sturdy, red-stockinged legs invading their domestic

The oaks and the swing and the old gentleman were the first milestones
on my way to Grown-Up Land. When my round fat arm had no longer to reach
straight up to clasp my pudgy fingers around the thumb of my friend;
when after many trials I caught the ropes and lifted myself without help
to the wide board swing-seat; then I was truly 'big,' and trotted off to
demand that a new mark should take the place of the one that had lately
shown my height on the smooth gray trunk of my favorite tree. Smooth,
for those wonderful oaks, centuries old, and each many feet in girth,
had been repeatedly stripped of their bark as high as a man could reach;
and now, as if tired of renewing the ever stolen coat, contented
themselves with a thin, scarlike covering. Since their sapling days,
perhaps, slender, conical tepees of buffalo skins had nestled in their
shade, and number-less brown babies had swung 'Rock-a-bye baby in a
tree-top' from their limbs.

There was a broad hearth of stones between the spreading roots of one
where buffalo steaks had been broiled, and where other children had
roasted the plump ripe acorns as I was fond of doing.

The buffalo robes for the tepees and deerskins for the gayly wrought
moccasins had been tanned with the bark stripped from those very trees
under which I played and swung. In the little grove behind my beloved
trees, and bordered by the tiny creek where I waded and fished with a
bent pin for small flat sunfish as bright as living sunbeams, were bare
poles still standing in a circle, lashed together at their tops with
strips of bark or thongs of raw-hide.

There were wild cherries in the grove, good in blossom and better in
fruit, puckery-sweet wild plums, and a great black-walnut tree dear to
myself and the squirrels; and here the spirit of adventure thrilled me
again, for my fancy saw dusky faces behind every bush, and the feathery
cherry blossoms were always nodding eagle feathers on the head of the
warrior just waiting to seize me.

A good deal of this was due to my old friend who had just come from the
East, a far-away, mysterious Somewhere to me, and who, I am inclined to
think, secretly shared my dread of these brown people in whose home we
were interlopers. But some of it came from the tales to which I listened
after I was tucked away in my trundle-bed on winter nights, and the men
gathered around the fire to talk of Indian raids and hunting and
trapping adventures.

Not a few of my old gentlemen at this time were gray-bearded scouts and
hunters, with great caps of fur and long rifles that seemed to tower
above my head as far as the oaks. Children were rare novelties to those
men of the plains, and I was passed from shoulder to shoulder, delighted
with tales of bear and buffalo, and fingering with awed hands the beaded
shot-pouches and belts of embroidered buckskin, but feeling all the
while almost as far above earth as when I swung over the blue jay's
nest. Then we moved away, and my next old gentleman was the very
antithesis of the first. Small and thin and morose, with a bitterness
that almost hid the sadness in his face. A misanthrope, a miser, an
atheist, said his neighbors; but, in truth, only a man over whom hung
the shadow of a tragedy that had darkened his life. Sometimes for days
his mind 'traveled a crooked road,' as he said, and then he would wander
alone in the hills, or shut himself up with his books; and no smoke came
out of the chimney, and no answer was given to curious people who
knocked at the door. Most children feared him, but I did not; that and
my love of books made the bond between us. He lent me quaint old
histories and philosophies, full of big words that sounded very fine as
he rolled them off in a sonorous voice. I learned to know Swedenborg
from Kant, and Kant from Comte, and was in a fair way to become a
philosopher myself when again we moved--so far that we both knew the
parting was final.

With fingers still pudgy I crocheted him a pair of marvelous green
'wristers' as a farewell gift, and he brought me a thick red volume, De
Foe's _History of the Devil_, with pictures that made my brown braids
rise up visibly every time I looked at them, and a single German silver
teaspoon, which he said was to form the nucleus of my wedding silver.

Years later some book thief of abnormal tastes robbed me of the
treasured De Foe, but the spoon still reposes in solitary state,
untroubled by additions, and most unlikely ever to serve the end for
which my old friend designed it.

My last word of him was in an ill-scrawled, childish letter from a
schoolmate: 'Mr. Cushion is dead; the doctor gave him some medicine and
he died.' I was old enough to have a certain gladness mingle with my
regret. The shadow was lifted; there were no more crooked roads to
travel; my old friend was at rest.

It was my next old gentleman who introduced me to Shakespeare and the
'lean and slippered pantaloon.' A wicked sense of the appropriateness of
the quotation flashed into my mind as he read it; I wondered, in fact,
if the Bard of Avon had been shuffling around in dressing-gown and
carpet slippers when it was written. Yet this untidy old man, who loved
Shakespeare, reveled in Shelley, and wrote heroic verse and Greek
dramas by the sackful, had, they told me, been a brilliant soldier, the
pick and pride of his regiment, the model in dress and deportment of all
the fresh recruits. Surely the irony of fate is something more than

If he wrote in lighter vein, he had lived in tragedy; between The
Skylark and Under the Greenwood Tree we had glimpses of bloody
battlefield, of disease-reeking, famine-scourged Southern prisons, of
narrow escapes, and men hunted like wild beasts.

Very proud was my old friend when my own blundering thoughts first
shaped themselves in verse; I doubt if Hamlet on his first appearance
received such an ovation. And then one night the sacks of manuscript
were packed, the little trunk strapped, and the daylight train bore
away, we never knew whither, one who left word to no one, but three
books--the battered Shakespeare, Shelley minus his cover, and a first
edition of Whittier--to a little girl.

No word has come out of the silence, but when I am making air castles I
like to think that some summer night I shall visit the Parthenon and
find my old friend writing Greek dramas in the moonlight.

After that my old gentlemen began to come in pairs and trios, so that
they seldom threw such a clearly focused memory. The one whom I loved
best was not really the best known; we were both too shy to realize in
time how much we might have been to each other. He was a gentle, quiet,
courtly man; I remember that I always involuntarily looked for the pages
holding up my court train of velvet and ermine when he bowed to me: a
scholarly man, whom one would have taken for some gifted professor or
polished diplomat: and he was in fact an Indian scout, known the length
of the West for his courage and fidelity and unshakable honor. He would
have stood with his life to a promise given the blackest renegade that
ever harried his trail.

I knew in a vague way that his was a name in history; but we were always
too busy with Sir Edwin Arnold and the Vedas and Mahatmas to talk of
that. I can see him now throwing back the silver hair from a face as
fine as some old marble Jove, and repeating the Sanskrit tales or the
lines he loved best:--

    'Such as thou shalt see not self-subduing do no deed of good,
    In youth or age, in household or in wood:
    It needs not man should pass by th' Orders Four
    To come to Virtue; doing right is more
    Than to be twice born: therefore wise men say
    Easy and excellent is Virtue's way.'

Fit words for him who subdued himself with such gentle patience to years
of blindness; never saying 'Is the sun shining?' but 'How beautiful the
hills are in the sunshine!' It was always daylight in his soul, till he
slept at last in the sunniest corner of his beloved hills.

There are many dear old gentlemen still; indeed, now that I think of it,
I have known but one young man at all intimately, and him I have not met
face to face. Homer and Odysseus have been such satisfying friends to me
that I have not missed Paris and Adonis. The flavor of old wine has been
too long on my lips for me to change now, and I shall be well content to
have it said of me at last: 'Here lieth one who had the friendship of
old men and little children's love.'


Viola's Lovers

A Study in the New Morality

By Richard Bowland Kimball

I sometimes think that our relations with our children, or our pets, are
successful because we expect nothing in return. Yet, after all, the
relations are reciprocal; and I have been thinking today of some of the
things I have got from an old dog who has been in our family for years
and years. I have learned several spiritual truths from her, and I have
learned them more thoroughly, perhaps, because she never had the
slightest idea that she was teaching me anything. Dogs, of course, show
various characteristics--some are snobs, others take naturally to a low
life, others again are aristocratic and reticent and self-controlled;
but I have never known a dog yet that you could describe as exactly a

Viola came to us out of the primeval woods with an effect of
apparitional beauty. Rather a poetic name for a dog, perhaps; but there
was such a union of grace and timidity, such a charm of silken draperies
and russet ruff and tail almost sweeping the ground, that we were
irresistibly reminded of a Viola we had seen recently. It was as if the
dog said mutely, 'What should I do in Illyria?'

She had evidently been through a terrible experience. A broken rope was
around her neck; she was as gaunt as a wolf; her eyes were almost
iridescent with terror, like the wonderful eyes of some hysteriacs.

    Imprison her soft hand and let her rave,
    And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes!

We did not adopt Viola; she adopted us. She followed us to the tent
where we were spending the summer, and there she stayed with us, to
remain on guard when we were away, to welcome us on our return with such
a show of abject gratitude. I think a male dog could not have shown such
a union of love and fear; her spirit had evidently been broken; it
became our task to lure her confidence back again--and here began my own
education. If I spoke with--well, decision to my wife, poor Viola slunk
to the ground. She thought the tone was meant for her. I would never
claim to be a model husband, but I did learn from Viola, theoretically
at least, that one can have good manners even in the privacy of the
family circle.

More rapidly than we could have expected Viola's terrors left her, and
she resumed the normal canine outlook on life-like humans I have known
who have managed to counteract the false starts of their early
childhood--obsessions regarding dark closets, snakes, or an avenging

I am not going to dwell on the intelligence Viola manifested after she
had freed herself from fear. All dogs are wonderful, even when they are
not intelligent. The most stupid dog I know mopes around the house and
refuses to eat whenever his master is away, thus evincing an emotional
sensibility more valuable than the smartness of the most Frenchified of
poodles that ever trod the vaudeville stage. Unlike a collie of my
acquaintance, Viola did not keep the woodbox replenished; nor had she a
vocabulary of several hundred words, like another collie that I know.
Still, she had an aptitude to learn spelling. When it was inadvisable to
take her out for a walk, we spelled the words, vainly trying to conceal
the fact from her, as we would from a child; and often, to this day,
people stop me on the road, and ask if I am the owner of the dog that
knows how to spell.

What I want to dwell on is my own education rather than Viola's, and
this began in earnest after we had moved to the real country, and lived
in a little farmhouse without any farm. Viola was a lovely ornament to
the dooryard; but it seemed a pity that there were no flocks or herds to
evoke her ministering care. We didn't even keep chickens; we were
ostensibly in the country to cultivate thoughts,--such as they
were,--and while Viola might be said to inspire thoughts, they hardly
gave her the necessary exercise. A collie should have a run of ten miles
every day, and it was pathetic to see Viola lying in the dooryard, ears
erect, eyes eager, watching, waiting, hoping for something to happen. I
should not be surprised if her very eagerness attracted the thing she
longed for.

Our next-door neighbor, a man fully as fond of dogs as myself, was early
attracted to her. He had recently lost his own dog, and asked if he
might borrow Viola to help him catch his chickens, and if she might
accompany him on the long drive he took every day through the
countryside. With perfect good will, and in utter innocence, I
consented. Little did I dream, as they say in the novels, of what lay
before me.

I had an idea that Viola would understand that she was merely loaned for
these expeditions; that she would come back from them with undiminished
loyalty, grateful to me for having given her a chance for exercise. But
our friendly neighbor had a very taking way with dogs. Aside from the
wonderful trips, which were enough to turn the head of any collie, he
knew how to talk dog-language better than I did. He knew how to pinch a
dog's ear in the most seductive manner. With him, doggishness was both
an art and a science.

There was nothing lovelier than the sight of Viola rounding up the
chickens, shepherding them into their houses, holding down a
recalcitrant pullet with her paw, or bringing in her mouth a dowager
hen to her foster-father. If I had the gift of a sculptor and wished to
carve a personification of pride, I think I should depict Viola bringing
in a chicken--her tail aloft, like a plume of triumph, her eyes shining,
stepping over imaginary obstacles like a high-manège horse with an air
of dignity that was really ludicrous. If an unlucky chicken got away
from her, away she went across meadows, and over walls, her beautiful
voice vibrating through the landscape, sometimes breaking to an octave
higher in her excitement.

It was fun to see her scour ahead of the wagon when her new master took
her out to help him pick up eggs. It was charming to see her come home
sitting on the seat beside him, tired but still eager, looking to right
and left, sniffing the air, learning all sorts of smell secrets which
are closed forever to our supposedly superior human consciousness. Is it
any wonder that it was necessary for me to go next door to get her, and
that she followed me along the path with a certain droopy air that was
hardly flattering?

There is not much in the literary life that would interest an outdoor
dog. I felt somewhat like a dry-as-dust professor married to a young and
attractive wife who is being taken to all the routs and parties
throughout the neighborhood by a disgustingly youthful and handsome
cavalier. I know nothing quite so shriveling to the soul as jealousy,
nor anything so hard to fight against. I reasoned that Viola's
expeditions were doing her good, that I ought to be grateful for them,
and I repeated the antediluvian fallacy that my jealousy was only
indicative of my love. Nothing that I could say to myself made any
difference; and if I were in danger of forgetting how I felt, there were
plenty of other persons to remind me.

'Well,' said the fisherman, 'I guess you don't know whether that dog is
yours or Lysander's!' And my most intimate friend remarked genially, 'If
I had a dog, I'd want it to be _my_ dog, or I wouldn't want to have

It was bad enough to bear the sympathy of the community; it was worse to
witness the triumph of my rival. Often, after I had brought home the
drooping Viola, Lysander would follow after her. Instantly she revived
like flowers in water. She smiled, she was even coquettish. They began a
lengthy conversation I could not understand--little sounds from him,
little grunts from her. If, by any chance, through a belated sense of
duty, she happened to remain beside my chair, he surreptitiously snapped
his fingers and made little sucking sounds that he fancied were
inaudible, and then she sidled over to his chair.

If jealously is an index of one's love, it is strange that, the more
jealous I became of Lysander, the less I loved Viola. 'Well, _let_ her
stay with him,' I said to myself. 'I guess he won't object to having me
pay for the license.'

She did stay; she sometimes stayed all night; and few things in my life
have been more humiliating than my visits to get her.

Lysander was glad to see me--oh my, yes! He welcomed me with a crooked
sardonic smile that I understood thoroughly. Viola knew just as well as
he did why I had come, and pretended to take an interest in the
wall-paper. As we walked home along the path, I scolded her, and she
slunk to the ground and asked my pardon. Was there anything in her life
that could make her conscious of any evil? Of course not. Without
realizing it, I was exercising a sort of spiritual coercion over her. I
was really condemning her for what was a true expression of collie life;
but she accepted my suggestion of evil. I have often wondered since, how
many persons in the human realm are suffering from a sense of sin as
false as hers was. Of course, I did not philosophize the situation at
the time. I simply felt disquietude when I was with her. This
disquietude increased rapidly until I apparently disliked her; and I
suppose that in my feeling for her there was actually an element of

'Very well,' I said to myself in effect, 'there are better dogs in the
world than ever were licensed. The next one I get, I'll keep for my very

I had now reached my low spot--a centre of indifference; and if this
were fiction, the reader might expect an ever-increasing objective
crescendo from this point onward, culminating in a stirring climax.
Possibly Viola would rescue me from a burning building, thus showing
that she really loved me, after all. Unfortunately I am dealing with
facts of a rather intangible nature. I have noticed that in life coffee
and pistols for two are not called for so often as in literature. We
pass the time of day with an acquaintance, discuss the play, and what
not, little dreaming that behind that smiling exterior a spiritual
crisis may be taking place.

My crisis was rather interesting because it seemed almost physical. Not
so much in the subconscious brain ganglia as in the sympathetic
nerve-centres, the process was taking place--the reverse process of what
had taken place during my period of jealousy. I could almost hear a
spiritual clicking going on inside me, as if I were composed of
children's blocks which had become disarranged and were being replaced
in a symmetrical pattern. One by one, the filaments of possession were
being broken--that sense which in its grossest terms is really a sort of
fatuous pride. Say what we will, most of us feel that we deserve praise
and tribute for having selected so attractive a wife, for having
begotten such charming children. Having no longer any more of a
proprietary interest in Viola than I had in the wild flowers, or the
sea, or sky, I got a fresh eye on her. I could not help admiring her,
and I could not help admiring her for herself alone. Having no longer
any taint of possession, it was impossible for me to impose my will on
her, so I adopted unconsciously the courtesy one shows to some one
else's wife.

'Well, Viola,' I would say, 'do you want to come home to-night? You
don't _have_ to.'

She would look up and listen, cock her ears, consider the matter.
Sometimes she would decide to stay with Lysander, and sometimes,
strangely enough, she would decide to go home with me. If she came, she
came happily, because she was exercising the prerogative of an
independent creature. Her sense of sin or shame left her; and somehow we
were all gainers, Lysander, Viola, and myself. He no longer snapped his
fingers or made little sucking noises. These had been psychical
reactions from my jealous emanations when we were struggling for Viola's
favor; but we were now united in doing what we could to make her happy;
and our friendship, which had suffered previously, in this new office
became confirmed. What expansive talks we had about her! How he rushed
over to tell me the latest example of her wisdom or affection; and when
one expects nothing from a dog, it is rather pleasant to feel suddenly,
while struggling with a sentence, a damp delightful nose inside your

Sometimes I fancy that Viola, in forming her friendship for Lysander,
had a prevision; for the time came when we had to leave her, and in
whose hands could it be better to leave her than Lysander's and his

Most dog stories end with the death of the dog, but I can assure the
reader that Viola is still very much alive. Not agile any longer, she
has become a privileged parlor guest, for the stairs are too much for
her. Sometimes she even finds it impossible to bury a bone, and then she
goes through the pantomime of burying it. She knows that we know that
she has not really done it. Her assumption of achievement is ludicrous.
Who says dogs have not a sense of humor?

She is beautiful as old ladies are beautiful. If she wore a lace
stomacher, she would make a magnificent Rembrandt--rich browns, tawny
gold, and, in the heart of the picture, the spirit of her personality as
mellow and pervasive as a flame.

I don't see Viola often nowadays, but what I gained by renouncing a
purely personal interest in her has extended itself somehow beyond what
we know as the realm of time and space. This sounds rather esoteric, but
what I mean is that I am very happy whenever I think of her, whether I
am with her or not. I feel very near her though we are separated by a
hundred miles; and I should not be surprised if, in the muffled 'Woof!
Woof!' of her dreams, she often lives again what I happen to be thinking
of at the moment--wonderful runs with Teddy, the cocker spaniel, or the
homeric combat with the woodchuck beside Simon Brook.

As I sit thinking of Viola, there happens to come into my mind, by one
of those odd associations that have so little logic in them, an
apparently trivial incident that took place a day or so ago. A couple of
little girls stopped me on Arlington Street, Boston, and asked the way
to Marlboro Street. It chanced that I was going to Marlboro Street
myself, and I offered to conduct them there, but they were walking in
the leisurely way of children, taking in everything on the way, and I
soon outstripped them. At the corner of Marlboro Street, however, I
turned and waved to them to indicate that this was the street they
wanted, and they waved back to show that they understood.

That was apparently the end of the incident; but two or three blocks up
Marlboro Street, something impelled me to turn. The children had found
the street, they were following safely, they were evidently watching me;
for as soon as I turned, they waved again. As I went up the steps of the
house where I had an appointment, I looked back for the third time. The
children, now become almost fairy-like figures, were still watching me.
Up went their hands and up went mine, and across the long length of city
street, we waved in greeting and farewell.

I do not know why the incident should have seemed to contain an element
of real beauty. I was reminded of George E. Woodberry's poem in which a
somewhat similar incident is celebrated. A boy, you remember, while
playing, ran heedlessly into the poet, and the poem ends,--

    It was only the clinging touch
    Of a child in a city street;
    It hath made the whole day sweet.

What struck me even more than the beauty of my adventure was the quality
of permanence that it seemed to wear. In my under-consciousness, there
was something immortal about it. Can it be possible that our casual
relations, where love is,--our relations with children, or with
strangers whom we shall never see again, or with the lower animals whose
span of life is necessarily very limited,--can it be possible that these
relations are less ephemeral than we think? Would it be too much to hope
that the relation between Viola and myself is a small but permanent
addition to the store of worth-while things?


Haunted Lives

By Laura Spencer Portor


It is my increasing belief, to which the careful observation and study
of years give strength, that all lives may be said to be haunted in
greater or less degree by certain recurrent thoughts or influences or
impressions or realizations, which, visiting and revisiting the chambers
of the mind, probably from earliest years, come at last to dwell
persistently with us, returning again and again like the French ghostly
_revenants_, making free to haunt those long-closed rooms of the memory
where once, it may be, they moved in the full daylight of consciousness
and realization, as delights or dreads, joys or terrors of the soul.

'Two ideas,' says Pater, in writing of Leonardo, 'were especially fixed
in him, as reflexes of things that touched his brain in childhood beyond
the measure of other impressions--the smiling of women, and the motion
of great waters.' And later on, 'He became above all a painter of
portraits; faces of a modeling more skillful than has been seen before
or since, embodied with a reality which almost amounts to illusion on
dark air. To take a character as it was, and delicately sound its stops,
suited one so curious in observation, curious in invention.'

So we seem to see Leonardo possessed always by the interest and beauty
and meaning of faces, fascinated by the individuality, the infinite
variety, the delicately interpretative meanings of them; reminiscent of
the charm of them; visited by a hundred recurrent lovelinesses of them;
preoccupied by their mystery; and above all, it seems, haunted and
summoned by the lovely and enigmatic smiling of women.

To recognize this is to know much of Leonardo and his work; and even if
we read no more of Pater's memorable essay, he has succeeded in these
three sentences in bringing before us some impression of the essential
man which is not readily forgotten, and has admitted us as it were to a
partial knowledge of that great and diverse mind.

But all this is rare, very rare in biography. We write biography, for
the most part, as we write history--with a leaning toward dates and
successions of events.

M. Taine in the introduction to his _History of English Literature_
makes a strong protest, it will be remembered, against this method of
writing history. He cites Carlyle's _Cromwell_ and Sainte-Beuve's _Port
Royal_ as examples of the opposite and more modern method. In these
event and happening are given but secondary place; in these it is
always rather the subtle underlying causes which are touched on with
particular insistence. It is the tragedy of the soul of Cromwell which
is so memorably recorded by Carlyle; and by Sainte-Beuve it is the
intricate psychology of an entire institution which is laid bare.

It is according to this method, Taine argues, not only that history
should be written, but also that we should study the literature of any
nation. He then proceeds through his several volumes to his memorable
consideration of English literature, dwelling repeatedly on the
psychology of the English people as it manifests itself in their
literature. He calls attention again and again to certain recurring
ideas or ideals which manifest themselves persistently in this
particular race, which haunt it almost as an individual is haunted by
certain not always definite, yet strongly formative influences.

All this is not very new in substance, yet in application it belongs
distinctly to modern times. It falls in with the spirit of research and
inquiry so active in the past half century, and announces as with
prophetic voice--for it was written as much as fifty years ago--the
psychology of nations, of which we only lately begin to speak with real

We have long admitted, it is true, a certain psychology of eras--a kind
of 'soul' of certain times, or 'spirit' of certain ages, manifesting
itself diversely in diverse periods. And, quite as the name of an
individual not alone summons to the mind that individual and no other,
but connotes a particular personality, so such wide phrases as 'The
Elizabethan Age,' 'The Renaissance,' 'The Homeric Age,' the 'Age of
Chivalry' do not alone designate certain ages, but in each case connote
some essential quality which went to render that particular age
memorable and significant. This quality is found to be in every instance
dependent upon some idea or ideal which, drawing its power often from
unremarked and not always discoverable sources, moulds and fashions the
thought and motives of the times.

So the art, the science, the religion, the philosophy of any given age,
all these do but flower from causes that have their roots deep under the
surface; and he who would acquaint himself with any notable period must
study, not so much the outward and obvious facts and happenings of that
period, as the hidden and subtle forces lying beneath all these.

But if the true history of a people cannot be given, or the true spirit
of an era be revealed by a mere citing of events, however important or
carefully chosen, what shall be said of the futility of studying that
infinitely more delicate thing, the history of a human soul, by method
of index and compilation? Yet that is precisely what much of our
accepted and well-credited biography amount to, and we have little of
what might be called the more modern method. One looks in vain in the
average Lives of great men for any careful consideration or analysis of
the remote causes or springs of personality.

Certain biographical facts are, it would seem, expected and provided.
These facts the average biographer sets out in a perfectly conventional
order, somewhat as the host of the conventional inn--I hope I may be
forgiven the comparison--sets out the usual _table d'hôte_ in certain
courses time-honored and anticipated. If the biographer is a well-known
man,--if this be at the sign of Chesterton, or Colvin, or Birrell, or
Gosse,--then there will be added, without extra cost, the sprightly
light wine of easy style.

In a well-known biography of Hawthorne we have for chapter titles the
following: 'Early Years'; 'Early Manhood'; 'Early Writings'; 'Brook Farm
and Concord'; 'The Three American Novels'; 'England and Italy'; 'Last

In an equally well-known life of Keats,--and in lieu of something better
it is perhaps the least unsatisfactory of them all,--we have, among
other page and chapter headings: 'Leigh Hunt'; 'Determination to
Publish'; 'Poems of 1817'; 'Margate'; 'Winter at Hampstead'; 'Doubts of
Success'; 'Northern Tour'; 'Absorption in Love and Poetry'; 'Haydon and
Money Difficulties'; 'The Odes'; 'The Plays'; 'Recast of Hyperion';
'Last Days and Death.' It is true that there comes a whole chapter at
the very last, under the promising title, 'Character and Genius'; but
reading it hopefully, one finds but talk of 'self-control,' 'sweetness
of disposition' 'sympathy,' 'good sense,' 'honor,' 'manliness'--with a
somewhat hackneyed reference to the Greek purity and the mediæval
richness of imagery which characterize Keat's poetry, and a few words
concerning his influence on a later age.

Now, considering the vivid and marvelous personality of the man, if
these be not the bare bones and laboratory skeletons of biography, then
I do not know bare bones or skeletons when I have sight of them.

No one questions that these are helpful if one is studying anatomy; that
they may even be admitted as necessary to an understanding of that
timely temple of abode in which the fiery spirit for a while took up its
residence; but to call this a 'life' of the man, which gives so little
knowledge of his spirit's habits of living!

If I turn to a little volume of Shelley on my table, where only eighteen
small pages out of five hundred and ninety-two are devoted, as it
happens, to the same subject, and only at that to the closing incident
of Keats's career,--his untimely death,--I find him spoken of in
somewhat more adequate fashion.

I shall not quote the words metred out in verse, as they stand in the
volume, but shall ask to be allowed to set them down as if they were
mere running prose, as follows:--

    For he is gone where all things wise and fair descend.

So much for the sense of shining and resplendent peace that comes with
the going of so large a spirit! But let us read on. It is Urania now who
is addressed concerning the poet:--

     Thy youngest dearest one has perished; thy extreme hope, the
     loveliest and the last. The bloom whose petals, nipt before they
     blew, died in the promise of the fruit, is waste; the broken lily
     lies--the storm is overpast. The quick Dreams, the passion-winged
     ministers of thought, who were his flocks, whom near the living
     streams of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught the love
     which was its music, wander not, wander no more.... And one with
     trembling hand clasps his cold head, and fans him with her
     moonlight wings, and cries: 'Our love, our hope, our sorrow is not
     dead; see on the silken fringe of his faint eyes, like dew upon a
     sleeping flower, there lies a tear some Dream has loosened from his
     brain.' ... And others came,--Desires and Adorations, Winged
     Persuasions, and Veiled Destinies, Splendors and Glooms and
     glimmering Incarnations of hopes and fears and twilight Phantasies
... all he had loved and moulded into thought from shape, and hue
     and odor and sweet sound, lamented Adonaïs.... He is made one with
     Nature; there is heard his voice in all her music, from the moan of
     thunder to the song of night's sweet bird; he is a presence to be
     felt and known in darkness and in light, from herb and stone,
     spreading itself where'er that Power may move which has withdrawn
     his being to its own; ... he is a portion of the loveliness which
     once he made more lovely; ... he is gathered to the kings of
     thoughts who waged contention with their times' decay, and of the
     past are all that cannot pass away.

And this further, this little bit about the poet's grave:--

     Here pause, these graves are all too young as yet, to have outgrown
     the sorrow which consigned its charge to each; and if the seal is
     set, here, on one fountain of a mourning mind, break it not
     thou!... From the world's bitter wind seek shelter in the shadows
     of the tomb. What Adonaïs is, why fear we to become?

It will be objected that this is not biography at all, but poetry, and
very famous poetry at that. I am aware, full aware of it. I have only to
remark that, since there is a beating upon the gates and the starved
people demand bread and there is none, 'Why then, let them eat cake!'
There is perhaps more pure essence of biography in lines like these,
which purport not to be biography at all, than in any pompous
three-volume 'Life,' which comes decked in scarlet, and heralded by the
trumpet-blasts of publishers well versed in the psychology of

Or take all these supreme lines away and leave me but that one by the
same hand, 'The soul of Adonaïs like a star,' and I am not sure that I
am not richer by that, than by many biographical chapters.


It has always seemed to me that the best possible biographer, even
including the immortal Boswell, would have been Horatio. Ophelia might
have been better still had she kept her poor senses. Even having lost
them, she seems to do no less than draw back a shimmering veil from the
soul and life of Hamlet in the few remarks she makes concerning him:
'Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?'

Horatio, never having dreamed, certainly, of writing an account of
Hamlet's life at all, yet seems to set forth in his few words more of
Hamlet than is to be found in all the commentaries. What is there not
revealed in his 'Here, sweet lord, at your service,' and his 'O my dear

There is further evidence of his qualification, of course, in Hamlet's
unforgettable words concerning him:--

    'Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
    As e'r my conversation coped withal.'

and at the very last,--

        'Horatio, I am dead,
    Thou livest; report me and my cause aright
    To the unsatisfied.'

But that which fits Horatio more than all, it seems to me, to bring
report to others concerning the life, the motives and character of his
'sweet lord,' is that he had long been aware of those fearful and
familiar hauntings of his lord's mind--hauntings which, for the purposes
of the play, must be dramatized into the very form of a ghost, but which
were in reality something far subtler still, and less bodied. It was of
these delicate and awful visitings that Horatio was, more than the rest,
aware and sensitively expectant.

It is such an eagerness, such an expectancy, and such an ability as
well, I take it, that are needed by him who would understand the life of
any great man and would hope to interpret it to others. He who would
give us an adequate study of any life whatsoever must, it would seem,
reckon on and investigate those subtle hauntings of mind and spirit of
which the biographers have as yet, apparently, taken so little account,
having left such investigations to be followed, and that only along
somewhat morbid lines, by the psychiatrists and psycho-analysts.

For these, it is true, have recognized clearly that there are such
hauntings, though they do not call them such. It is recognized by them
that there is frequently an unconscious retention by the mind, and a
repression within the unconscious self, of former striking and formative
experiences. Freud and his followers tell us that an unpleasant or
shocking experience, long dead to the conscious memory, may nevertheless
return to haunt and newly shock and distress us when consciousness
sleeps. In dreams it is, they tell us, that morbid fears or hateful
repressions or unlawful desires of all kinds return to move where they
will, unhindered and invulnerable. In whatever scientific or psychologic
terms we speak of these things, it all sounds very ghostlike, and the
more so when one recalls that these haunting manifestations vanish at
the awaking to consciousness, as ghosts at the crowing of the cock;
then, be it ghost or old repression, 'the extravagant and erring spirit
hies to his confines' once more.

The avowed task of the Freud school is the anticipation, the
expectation, and at last the careful analysis of these morbid
hauntings, these repressions and forbidden desires. It is the
self-appointed task of the psycho-analyst to watch for these things, to
recognize them, speak with them, and examine into their meanings and
purposes, as Hamlet with the ghost of his father on the battlements of
Elsinore. All this has been looked upon--rightly, no doubt--as
epoch-making in the history of psychology, and more especially as it
applies to the study and treatment of nervous and mental disorders.

But to deal only with the morbid hauntings of the mind is to look upon
the gloom and night of things only. For, by the same token, it would
seem there must be other presences not morbid; other haunting
influences, not dreadful, but lovely. There must be without doubt many
an exquisite or startling experience or impression, long since passed
over into the world of our dead memories--perhaps the frail beauty of
flower or leaf, some unearthly delicacy of laced moonlight on the floor
of the forest, the spaciousness of dawn, the beauty of women, the kindly
clinging touch of hands--some impression which found in us, in early
youth it may be, a congenial abode, and returning to us again and again
(never in the full daylight of consciousness, but in a dim and twilight
fashion, in some delicate haunting form 'as the air invulnerable'),
obtains at last a ghostly possession of some chamber of the mind, holds
from there a kind of subtle occupancy of our thoughts, in time a sort
of dominion over our personalities, and even at last, it must be, exerts
a definite influence upon our characters.

For it is precisely the exact and delicate response to such subtle
visitings, whether it be a visiting of fear and dread or of beauty and
delight, which, expressing itself in the individual's manner of living
and taste for life, we call personality; which, manifesting itself in
his art, we call style; which, exhibiting itself in his purpose and
action, we call character.

It is in this sense, then, that the lives of all of us, and very
especially the lives of the great, may, without fantastical imagery, be
said to be haunted. And if this be true, then it is obvious that,
without reference to such hauntings, no so-called 'lives' or biographies
of great men can be complete.


It seems likely that the new criticism must more and more take into
account these delicate and psychological reckonings; but meanwhile how
shall we, the unelect, seeking unacademically among the lives of the
great, become aware of these subtle influences which forever haunt the
characters and the works of great men? How shall we put ourselves
sensitively in touch with that which is so essentially characteristic;
with those mysterious influences of personality which, working together,
make, for instance, a poem of Arnold's a poem of Arnold's unmistakably,
and a painting of Raphael's so much his own that we are wont to speak
of it as 'a Raphael'?

Again I turn to Horatio. There must first of all be in us, I believe, a
deep love of the men whom we would know--'O my sweet lord!' There must
be on our part all that loyal and watchful friendship which would make
any hearsay or report concerning them a matter of interest to us;
further, there must be that full intimate companionship to be had, not
by hearsay at all, but only by living day after day with these men and
their works; and lastly, there must be in us a sensitiveness to
spiritual and haunting presences in their lives--a patient and sensitive
watching as it were upon the battlements of Elsinore.

If we turn from Leonardo, as Pater presents him to us, to another
notable and equally strong type--to Isaiah; if we ignore all those facts
usually insisted upon in biography; if we dismiss as less important the
kings and rulers of his age and the dramatic yet negligible
circumstances of his times; and if we give our attention rather to the
subtle predilections and preoccupations of this great mind, we find
Isaiah visited again and again, haunted unceasingly it would seem, by
certain effects and meanings, and lovelinesses and memories of light.

Again and again we see him sensitive to its manifestations. Here and
there throughout his writings we find him noting and delighting in its
return, greeting it with relief and rejoicing, as after a long night's
watching; calling to his people passionately to arise and waken from the
darkness of their sins, holding up his own streaming torch, as it were,
across their night, in shining prophecy of the better luminary already
on the way, which was to be the light of the world.

'Arise! Shine!' he cries, 'for thy light is come and the glory of the
Lord is risen upon thee.... The People that walked in darkness have seen
a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon
them hath the light shined.... Then shall thy light break forth as the
morning.... And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the
brightness of thy rising.... The Lord shall be to thee an everlasting
light, and thy God thy glory.... The sun shall no more go down, neither
shall thy moon withdraw herself.'

His mention also of trees and their boughs and roots and branches is
even more frequent still. Here, likewise, 'two ideas' seem 'especially
fixed in him as reflexes of things that touched his brain in childhood
beyond the measure of other impressions.'

When we study Dante carefully and watch with him also, we find him to
have been, hardly less than Isaiah, haunted by the same loveliness, the
beauty and meaning of light. For him not less, light would seem to have
had a most insistent and spiritual appeal. Far too many to quote are his
innumerable exact and sensitive descriptions of it, his careful and
repeated observations of its gradations and delicate alterations.
Memorably, too, he has it in mind in speaking of Saint Francis of
Assisi, that sun of righteousness risen out of the mediæval night. 'Call
it not Assisi,' he cries; 'if you would truthfully name it, call it the
East because of the sun that rose there.'

Likewise, one who watches patiently and devotedly with Homer cannot but
become sensible at last how his mind entertains constantly the thought
and moving beauty of the various air. Perpetually, it must have been, he
was haunted by the freshness and loveliness of it as it moved across the
Ægean and the windy isles of Greece. Pure and awful, in the semblance of
the blue-eyed Athena, it was the air which passed among his Greek hosts
at eventide, or went stirringly among the serried ranks, reviving with a
touch the old spirit in them; or in the tent of Achilles took him by the
yellow hair, and directed him, a spirit and a presence.

Again and again throughout the Iliad and the Odyssey, the sensitive and
watchful will note this persistency and preoccupation, this recurrent
observation of the air in its manifold behaviors, as of something dear
or memorable, from the swirling, snatching Harpies to the clean-breathed
morning; from the sullen sultriness of Achilles's wrath--a stubborn heat
that will not stir--to the swift flight of windy arrows cleansing the
banquet-hall of Ithaca. So too, that divinity to whom he paid his most
constant homage was Athena, goddess of knowledge and of the air, who
exquisitely typified, not alone wisdom, but, as almost one with wisdom,
the most moving and yielding of the elements.

How well by these things have we come to know Homer--who yet know not by
seven chances even so much as the city of his birth! The bare facts of
biography seem poor when compared with these preferences, these
preoccupations and predilections of the very man himself.

So, too, though we knew little else about him, it were possible to take
the full measure of St. Francis of Assisi by his haunting persistent
love of brotherhood. Nothing else in all his deeds and words is half so
strong. One even comes to believe that his devotion to his beloved Lady
Poverty was--doubtless unknown to himself--rendered solely because it
made him one of a larger fraternity and brother to a greater number of
men. The fire that burned and seared him was his brother, even as was
the beneficent luminary that warmed him. From his triumphant salutation
to his radiant 'brother the sun,' on down to the delicate and gentle
admonishings of his 'little brothers' the birds and fishes, the thought
of an unlimited and unfettered fraternity perpetually dominates his
loving spirit.

In like manner I have noted in my many readings of Matthew Arnold that
his mind seems to have responded with a peculiar sensitiveness, and been
often subject to the sound and meaning of moving waters, and to the
high destiny of stars. It would seem that 'the unplumbed, salt,
estranging sea' came in time to have a definite power over him in the
ordering of his images and even in the determining of his philosophies;
that rivers flowing silver under the sun, or, unguessed, in subterranean
chambers, became to him interpretative of life itself, and their course
and channel and ultimate end a promise to his soul. It is not alone in
his poetry that one finds the 'incognizable sea,' and hears so
frequently of its coasts and beaches and sands and watery wastes and
isles; of voyages and charts; the 'swinging waters and the clustered
pier'; the ebbing and flowing of tides; and the still stars: one comes
upon these in his prose not less, very especially and memorably in his
_Study of Poetry_.

It may be argued that these might be mere favorite figures and symbols;
but it is hardly thinkable, after a careful study of them, that they are
not rather haunting influences and impressions having long a familiar
access to the chambers of his mind, now taking him with his forsaken

    Down, down, down!
    Down to the depths of the sea!

or with the Neckan beside the green Baltic, pointing out the sounding
deeps, and the starry poles, and interpreting life's meanings by them.

So too,--to pass but lightly from one to another,--we can hardly read
Chaucer devotedly without at length becoming aware how this poet seems
to have been haunted by the idea of the freshness and loveliness of the
day's awaking; his very heroes and heroines again and again seeming to
partake of it, and to be like dawn themselves upon the hills.

    Up rose the sun and up rose Emilie.

The 'yonge squire' too, of 'twenty yere of age':--

    Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
    All full of fresshe floures, white and red.
    Singing he was, or floyting all the day.
    He was as fresshe as is the moneth of May.

In his most delicate descriptions one feels the presence as of a
breaking light, and the birds seem forever to sing in his green coverts.

It is the dawn and early morning of the year not less which is dear to
him--and which he has chosen, perhaps by an election not wholly his own,
as the season in which to order and assemble his famous pilgrimage.

    When that Aprille with his schowres swoote
    The drought of Marche hath pierced to the roote

           *       *       *       *       *

    Then longen folke to gon on pilgrimages.

And so, out into the dawn of the year they go, making an immortal
morning of it.


Two more lives suggest themselves as especially rich in the testimony
they bring of haunting influences which permanently moulded them--those
of Keats and Rossetti.

It is well known how completely the early life of Rossetti came under
the influence of the Florence of the Middle Ages, and how from the very
beginning there fell athwart his life and across his very name the
shadow of her greatest son. It is doubtful whether we gain as much
knowledge of him by a study of the modern times in which he lived, as by
turning our attention to the history and ideals of the Florence of the
time of Dante and Lorenzo de' Medici.

'It has been said,' writes Pater, 'that all the great Florentines were
preoccupied with death. _Outre-tombe! Outre-tombe!_ is the burden of
their thoughts, from Dante to Savonarola. Even the gay and licentious
Boccaccio gives a keener edge to his stories by putting them in the
mouths of a party of people who had taken refuge from the danger of
death by plague, in a country house. It was to this inherited sentiment,
this practical decision that to be preoccupied with the thought of death
was in itself dignifying and a note of high quality, that the
seriousness of the great Florentines of the fifteenth century was partly
due; and it was reinforced in them by the actual sorrows of their

A careful study of Rossetti reveals him also, like them, early and
profoundly preoccupied with death. The richly lighted chambers of his
mind are in their dark moments visited repeatedly by its pity and its
melancholy. Space does not admit of citing here the many evidences; but
if ever a mind was visited, preoccupied, and at last mastered by a
strong idea, a dominant persuasion, the mind of Dante Gabriel Rossetti
was so haunted--so dominated--by the idea of death.

When we turn to Keats's life and writings, they offer examples hardly
less notable. For as Rossetti was haunted by the idea of death, so Keats
would seem from the first to have been preoccupied by the idea of
beauty. By his own memorable confession he had worshiped the spirit of
it in all things; he has not the slightest feeling of humility, he says,
toward anything in existence with three exceptions only: The Eternal
Being, the Memory of Great Men, and the Principle of Beauty.

There is further and ample evidence throughout his writings that he was
perpetually possessed by certain definite forms of beauty: by the beauty
of mead and moon, the wash of waters at their priestly task, the
splendor of the night's starred face; but very especially and more
often, it would seem, was he haunted by that most intimate and tangible
of all lovelinesses--the loveliness of flowers.

There is constant reference to them, a constant recurring delight in
them. Their influence again and again visited him and pervaded his most
delicate observations. The memory of flowers again and again laid a
detaining hand upon him, and must have ministered to him unrecorded in
how many a night hour, mindful, reminiscential, with what gentle

They bloom in his lines everywhere, familiar as the name of the beloved
on the lips. It will be recalled that they stand among those things of
beauty which he names with so much devotion as 'joys forever';
'daffodils, with the green world they live in' shedding an ethereal
sunlight across the more sombre beauty of 'the dooms we have imagined
for the mighty dead.'

So, too, 'hushed cool rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,' touch his memory
with an ever-freshening sensibility. The greatest pleasure he has
experienced in life, he tells us, is in watching the growth of flowers;
and to him--as Hazlitt recalls--Hebrew poetry was faulty because it made
so little mention of them; and for the converse reason, it would seem
likely, Chaucer and Spenser were forever his delight.

What he specially longs for now, he writes,--he has been ill, and is
within a year of his death,--is 'the simple flowers of Spring.'

In the same letter we get a glimpse of certain early personal
associations not fully followed, which would seem to lend an added
loveliness to flowers which he had always found in themselves so

'How astonishingly,' he writes, ' ...does the chance of leaving the
world impress a sense of its natural beauties upon us! Like poor
Falstaff, though I do not "babble," I think of green fields; I muse with
the greatest affection on every flower I have known from my
infancy--their shapes and colors are as new to me as if I had just
created them with a superhuman fancy. It is because they are connected
with the most thoughtless and happiest moments of our lives. I have seen
foreign flowers in hothouses, of the most beautiful nature, but I do not
care a straw for them. The simple flowers of our Spring are what I want
to see again!'

He did see them once again, and then no more.

In the account of his drive to Rome, he who reads sympathetically must
enjoy most, it seems to me, as doubtless Keats did, the autumn flowers
which Severn gathered for him by the way and put into his remembering

Lying quiet at the last, as Severn tells us, with his hand clasped on
the white carnelian Fanny Brawne had given him, when all other presences
seemed to have departed from him,--Love and Ambition having for the last
time visited him,--and when life itself, with her hand already on the
latch, stood ready to depart, there lingered yet awhile beside him that
old sense of loveliness that had so often, even from earliest infancy,
visited and haunted his spirit--the loveliness and friendliness of
flowers. Already, in some vision of his spirit, he was laid down in
their green world he knew so well and loved. 'I feel,' he said, 'the
flowers growing over me.'


The observations I have suggested are here touched on but lightly, and
in passing. I have made no profound study of them, or of the infinitely
subtle psychology which, without doubt, underlies such hauntings of the
spirit. I have but known these men from childhood and from early youth:
have watched with them in many watchings. If there be one boast left me
when I also shall go down into the darkness to which they have so long
lent splendor, it may well be that these I have loved and have cherished
with a whole heart, and would have served them if I could, than Horatio
not less eager: 'Here, sweet lord, at your service.'

But be all that as it may, I am yet persuaded that it is by some such
means as I have here touched on that all biography of the better sort
must in time be written. Turn where we will among the great, we find
facts of date and birth and schooling and death and all outward
circumstance to have been the lesser factors. All these Time at
last--the only lastingly considerable biographer--rejects and throws
away. That which Time retains as precious and imperishable is rather
some fine essence of the spirit, some essential personality built up and
moulded by preferences, predilections, and prepossessions of a most
highly spiritual order. The loves, the desires, the dear delights of
men; the returning dreams, the recurrent longings that will not be
gainsaid; the dead and long-lost dreamings that revisit the glimpses of
our moon--these are indeed the spirits of us, and our immortalities.

Nor is it only as aids to a more just analysis of the great that these
infinitely subtle influences may be considered. _Plus on connait de
langues plus on est de personnes_. If the knowledge of another language
gives one another life, as it were,--makes of one yet another
person,--what may not be said to be added unto us by the knowledge--not
the mere speculation, but the intimate knowledge--of another soul, and
that soul one of the great ones of the earth?

This can be had only by an intimate companionship, not with the mere
flagrant facts, but with the spiritual visitings, the dear desires and
predilections, which haunt all rich lives significantly, perpetually,
even as they haunt life itself.

For life is but an infinitely ancient abode, haunted by recurring
presences surpassingly spiritual; as he knows who has seen death pass in
and out of the ancient chambers in the night watches, or who has heard
the autumn rains how reminiscent in patient woodlands, or who has been
aware of lovely springs long-gone keeping tryst at certain seasons with
the evening star in the twilight, or has felt them stealing back,
ghostly and exquisite, when the April crescent hangs thoughtful and
remote above dark apple-boughs.

In life as in lives, the presences move dark and dread or shining and
lovely; and in the lives of the great as in life itself the shining and
lovely would seem to be the more constant visitants. It is not to be
forgotten that, though Banquo knocks his fearful summons, and the
murdered Dane speaks with hollow mouthings, yet drifting forms dance no
less gayly and delicately on midsummer nights in woodsy hollows by the

It is noteworthy and remarkable that even those among the great whose
lives have been sombre with tragedy have been visited--indeed they often
more than others--by recurring influences of a most haunting beauty,
like Beethoven, who with ears dull yet heard high symphonies, and
Milton, who with sight closed to all outward loveliness saw yet in the
darkened chambers a vision as of squadrons of bright-harnessed angels
ranged in order serviceable, and knew the pastures and the silent woods
to be full of sweet voices and light steps:--

    Oh, friend, I hear the tread of nimble feet,
        Hasting this way!

It is of all such haunting and recurrent presences, be they dread or
lovely, that he who most knows life is most aware, and that he who
would know the lives of great men must be most sensitively observant.
These are the things that must be watched for faithfully and with a
whole heart and a single devotion: 'Here, sweet lord, at your service!'
Leaving all prejudice or interest of our own, it is for us, in studying
the lives of great men, to make their affair ours as wholly as may be;
and to forget ourselves in a knowledge so much more dearly to be

And by no means, I believe, may this be done so surely as by a patient
study of those high elections, those persistent hauntings of mind and
spirit which have influenced and, it may be, in so large a measure
directed the lives of all great men; giving their mind its bent, their
personality its leanings; often guiding, it must be, their motives, and
suggesting their high behaviors; laying upon them, as the ghost upon
Hamlet, purposes and duties thence never to be avoided, inevitably to be
discharged; lending to their speech its lovely and broidered figures, or
to the work of the hand its so memorable distinctions, and to all their
activities that which we call 'characteristic'--something particularly
and peculiarly their own; some chosen and essential and precious manner
of expression which, mortal though they be, lives on, surviving them;
and which is not to be found elsewhere in its kind or measure throughout
all the rich and inexhaustible ages.


The Acropolis and Golgotha

By Anne C. E. Allinson

The following letters contain a true record of a mind's journey.

ATHENS, _May 1, 1914_.


We drove in from Eleusis this afternoon, once more breathlessly watching
the Acropolis offer its white and golden marbles to adornment by the
setting sun. Our Greek winter is drawing to an end and this was our
good-bye visit to the Mysteries. How clear and lucid the beauty of the
place seemed to-day, from the brightness of the sea and the firm
modeling of the mountains to the bloom of the placated earth! Demeter
and Persephone were evidently together in safety, the mystery of the
unseen forgotten in the palpable joy of life restored.

On our way back we stopped, of course, at the Convent of Daphne, to make
ourselves tea in the sunlit courtyard, and to take one more look at the
Byzantine mosaics. I confess that this time they seemed to me quaint
bits of the wreckage of mediævalism cast upon the shore of Hellenism.
If the mediæval part of Christianity is as inextricable as you say it
is, then I will grant you that 'Christian thought' is an outworn system
compared with the immortal mind of Greece. As we crossed the bridge over
the Cephisus, the Parthenon, which is far more mutilated than the little
convent, once more sent abroad from broken colonnades and crumbling
pediments the impression that some perennial spirit and undying vitality
had, indeed, as Plutarch once suggested, mingled in its very
composition. The Shrine of Wisdom seemed to take up and weld together
all the mysticism and all the rationalism of the world.

Was it really ten years ago that I wrote to you after such another
journey along the Sacred Way? And ten more still since I last saw you at
the little station of Eleusis? You were going back to Patras to take
ship for Italy, and we--and those others--had ended an afternoon spent
among the ruins by speculating on

        those great nights of Demeter,
    Mystical, holy.

I remember how sure you were that the wilder ideas in the Mysteries,
which allowed for the redeeming death of gods and over-stated
immortality, were but vagrants in the ordered area of Greek reason and
sanity. Somebody older and wiser than I began to appeal to Plato on
behalf of Greek transcendentalism, but you retorted that he was only the
most disorderly vagabond of them all. Then your train clattered into
the toy station, and you held my hand for a moment and said with a kind
smile, '_Au revoir, petite savante, icibas_.'

But we never have seen each other again and probably never shall. Only
an odd accident, you know, led to the annual letters which have spun the
leisurely web of intimacy between two travelers so disparate in age and
in nationality. You said that the differences in our experience, speech
and traditions were lost in our common pilgrimage to Greece. My youth
reminded you of the youth of Hellas, your age embodied for me her store
of wisdom.

It is your book which has set me on the trail of these old memories. For
when we began our letters you said that, since we knew little of each
other's objective lives, we should have to concern ourselves with inner
impressions; and now your printed opinions open up the question how the
years have treated us in this matter of subjective experience. For one
thing, automatically they have made me your equal. When we met, you, at
forty-five, had experienced middle age. At sixty-five you are but
confirming its revelation. You have yet to come to the fresh experience
of old age. So that now, when I am forty-five, I may for a time talk
with you eye to eye.

Your twenty years, unless you have misled me, have held no transforming
experiences. Joys have but grown more dear and familiar. Sorrows, of a
shattering kind, have let you alone. Your work prospers, your fame is
assured, your children have grown up to be well in body and mind. All
your fruit is ripening in the tranquil sunshine. My years, on the other
hand, sweeping me out of the twenties into the forties, have been packed
with fresh happenings to heart and head and will. Disaster has been left
out of the brew, but almost everything else I have tasted. Perhaps this
difference between us--unless it is one of sex--explains why you, in the
books you have written lately, deal with philosophies and religions as
if they sprang, Athena-like, out of the intellect, while to me they seem
the issue of a normal union: if they are begotten of thought they are
brought forth in anguish by experience.

In this last book you are interested in Hellenism and Christianity as
forms--or attributes--of 'civilization.' I cannot forget that each of
them means the way in which men and women have managed and are managing
their diurnal round. You remember, don't you, the delightful story of
Plato lecturing one day in the Academy on the Absolute Good, and his
audience drifting away from him--except one man who was Aristotle? I
have often wondered about the different things the other men did that
day after they had run away from the Idea! At any rate the complex was
as 'Hellenic' as the conversation of the philosophers.

And when one turns to Christianity,--why, the very philosopher who first
intellectualized a Way and a Life had himself been born anew of the
intensely personal experience of sin and repentance. Do you know
Frederic Myers's _Saint Paul_?--ah! there was a 'Greek scholar' who
understood a Christian!--

    So shall all speech of now and of to-morrow,
      All he hath shown me or shall show me yet,
    Spring from an infinite and tender sorrow,
      Burst from a burning passion of regret.

You, reading history, would be willing to obliterate Christianity and
restore Hellenism as a universal ideal. I would rather see them united
in each separate life.

Before I explain what I mean by this I must beguile you by some
agreement with you in your criticism of 'cardinal' Christian doctrines!
You are right, I think, in objecting to the emphasis laid by the church
upon a future life. But you seem to me unnecessarily disturbed by a
theory. Christians, like the followers of many other faiths, do
'believe' in immortality. In fact, I suspect that only specifically
intellectual people actually disbelieve in it--and, with all respect to
yourself, I must add that the opinion of intellectualists on the destiny
of the spirit fails to hold my attention! The authority of the
spiritually gifted--including both Socrates and St. Francis--is
overwhelmingly on the side of the soul being immortal. But does that
make any more difference in the life of the flesh to-day than in the
time of Alcibiades? Mediæval Christians certainly went mad over heaven
and hell; but who now neglects Demeter's green earth for apocalyptic
visions? You are depressed by a shadow cast from the printed page. Stop
reading and look about at your friends! They are not too startled by the
white radiance of eternity to install the latest electric lights!

As to your horror over the Christian 'adoration of suffering,' that
seems to me better founded in view of the historic and continued
insistence upon the cross as a symbol. I agree with you. I can scarcely
express the revulsion which I feel in picture galleries before the
endless succession of crucifixions and tortured saints. Until we conquer
disease or discard violence there will be physical suffering in the
world. But it is a thing to fight against, not to worship. For man to
have painted and carved as _beautiful_ a racked body seems to me an
insult to the God who made straight limbs and fair flesh, and a strange
betrayal of the Galilean who wished to heal the suffering of others as
long as he lived, and only accepted it for himself as an incidental
necessity at the end. _He_ had no mediæval disregard for the flesh. The
agony in Gethsemane consisted in facing the obligation to offer up a
body and a life which were very precious to him. The glory consisted in
the sacrifice, not in the temporary torture to which it led. Love, not
suffering, is the core of Christianity. A truer symbol than the defeated
body on the cross would be the same body strong and beneficent among

Here the Periclean sculptor would have done better for us than the
mediæval painter. But only here. Neither he nor any of his
contemporaries could have understood Gethsemane. Their greatness
consisted in their selection, out of the prodigal abundance which lies
before man, of noble possessions. They were far superior to the Puritans
in that they retained art with morals, and they were equally superior to
the modern Romanticists in that they picked and chose only such beauty
as they believed could be amalgamated with character. Their inferiority
to the Christians lay in their failure to hold their treasures in trust
for humanity.

And now I come back to my argument against you. We who boast of being
the 'heirs of the ages' need not be as limited as you imply. The modern
man or woman can combine the Greek ideal of self-development with the
Christian ideal of self-dedication. In reality, I am not arguing, but
asserting. I know that this union is possible by the only evidence which
is admissible--the evidence of a life. I have known for many years one
person who unites in a normal experience your grandiose abstractions of
Christianity and Hellenism. This person is my mother. Do not take her
sex as an obstacle. She is a better example than some famous man might
be, because her character is not obscured by public achievement. She has
none of the limitations of a profession or career, or of some unique
strain of genius. What she is creates careers or feeds genius. She is
the most complete human being I have ever known, and yet her wholeness
is a presage of what we all might become. It is to a life like this that
you ought to go when you take stock of the philosophies of the world!

My mother's external fortune, judged by Greek standards, is good--too
good, of course, for a woman. She has received from fate much that would
have satisfied a Greek man: the consciousness of citizenship in a proud
and prospering nation; health, long life, an active mind, and enough
money to live tastefully; and, finally, satisfactory children (if I may
be permitted to say this) and the approval of her fellow citizens. The
Greek estimate of the importance of such approval springs, I suppose,
from intense feeling for the communal life. No Greek man could be
mentally less confined to the walls of a house than is my mother, and an
Athenian voter could scarcely have served his _polis_ more completely
than she serves our little town. The only difference here between her
and a Periclean citizen is that she is perplexed and shy rather than
expectant and gratified when evidences of public approval are forced
upon her.

In natural endowment, also, my mother is singularly Greek, because she
possesses diverse qualities harmoniously welded into one whole. We are
conscious of no contradictions in her, and yet she is both sane and
imaginative, sensitive and practical, dominating and gentle.

Finally, in her conscious activities she is Greek. There is, for
example, her moral insistence upon form and beauty. If you could live in
her house for a day you would see Hellenism as a diurnal practice. Her
taste is flawless; everything she touches turns to beauty and to a
tranquillizing order and simplicity. She selects a vase or a baking dish
with the æsthetic fastidiousness which beset the artists and artisans of

And, furthermore, she is Greek in her perennial enthusiasm for fresh
knowledge. Her enjoyment of life seems to me intense because she is
never tired of exploring the world through every kind of human
achievement. She has the curiosity of the Hellenic mind. The Athenian
men who were like her made it worth while for other men to be scientists
and philosophers and poets.

And yet my mother is a Christian. You see what I believe she has and is.
Well, all of this she takes in her two hands and _offers_ daily. Of
course, she believes in immortality, but she never talks about the
future life, and I have told you of her vigorous interest in this one.
Of course, too, she has known many sorrows--who has not at seventy?--but
she has consistently concealed pain and suffering instead of enthroning
them. Her Christianity is compounded of Love. As it streams out from her
it is the creative, regenerating passion for humanity which transcended
the reasoned good-will of the pagan philosophers and transcends the
materialistic serviceableness of the modern humanitarians. In the
noblest pagan literature there is no emotion at all resembling that
which suffuses the New Testament. In this emotion my mother lives and
moves and has her being.

I snap my fingers at Nietzscheism when I realize that she is the
strongest personality in my little world. She dies daily for us, but we
live her way! No superman could impose his will more effectively than
this Christian in whom power and sacrifice are one. God is love. If all
history tried to make me a skeptic my mother's nature would keep me a

    Whoso hath felt the spirit of the Highest
      Cannot confound nor doubt him nor deny;
    Yea with one voice, O world, tho' thou deniest,
      Stand thou on that side, for on this am I.

I have spoken of my mother's health and energy. Just lately these have
flagged a little, and I came away this time with some misgivings, and
only for my husband's sake. But her letters have quite reassured me.
Lately she wrote, 'I am daily thankful that nothing prevented you from
spending this winter on the Acropolis. In thinking of you I can't manage
to dislodge you from the hill long enough to eat and sleep.'

She knows me! We have traveled all over the country this year, but
always come back to Athens and the Attic plain as to the heart of
Greece. We went to Egypt in midwinter, and on our return hurried almost
from the ship to the Parthenon. It had snowed lightly and the whitened
summits of Pentelicon and Hymettus and Parnes lay in sharp relief under
the brilliant sky. A Greek friend of mine, looking at these fleshless
mountains, said proudly, 'It is not every one who dares show her bones.'
Attica needs no softening mist, no glamorous moonlight, no romantic
obscuration. Her beauty is born of light and her teaching is light. In
Egypt man was mocked by the desert. Small wonder the Christian saints
hid themselves there to punish their poor bodies! Here man seeks the sun
and stands erect in his dignity. Mediævalism, I grant you, must make way
for this immortal humanism. The 'mystery of suffering' is an invention
of distorted minds. Stripped of disguise, suffering is merely an evil to
be done away with by Love. This, I take it, is the message of the
Acropolis to the Christian.

We are leaving next week for a month in London, and then home. May
Fortune multiply your royalties and Athena inspire another book!

Faithfully yours.

P.S. The American mail is just in. A letter from a neighbor in my native
town says that no one in my mother's house will disobey her order that I
am not to be sent for, but that I am greatly needed. It is possible that
she will not live until I can reach her. We shall sail for New York day
after to-morrow. My world begins to crumble.

PINELANDS, MAINE, _April 20, 1915_.


As I begin this letter there flashes into my mind the last sentence
which I wrote to you a year ago from Greece--that my little world was
crumbling. And since then how your own world has been shattered, and the
universe almost set reeling in its course! I remember how I talked on in
that letter about areas of experience, blocking you off into twenty-year
periods! I thought then that only the years would carry us into new
seas. But in twelve months you have been swept from the moorings of your
middle life. France is again facing the enemy as she did in your
boyhood, but now your sons are risking lives more precious than your
own. Your wife and daughters are nursing the wounded and the stricken.
You, 'too old to fight,'--and so in a flash set forward into old
age,--are nevertheless finding your pen tipped with passion instead of
with philosophy. One of your lyrics is being sung in the trenches. You
are no longer an intellectualist, but a voice of France. And thousands
upon thousands of other men and women are experiencing a similar
metamorphosis. Who knows what new philosophies and religions will be

I have been wondering whether you would still call Plato an intruder and
vagabond in Hellenism. Greek thought changed under the shock to Athenian
civilization caused by the Peloponnesian War. By this abstraction do we
mean anything else than that Plato and other men had brought home to
them the transitoriness of prosperity, the helplessness of morals,
learning, and art before a recrudescence of primitive violence, and the
limitations of humanism? The material stage in those days was
small,--little states wage a little war,--but in view of her spiritual
importance the suffering of Athens was a world-experience of the first
magnitude. Possibly Plato seems to you now less a vagrant than a pilot.

For certainly our 'new religion,' if we bring one to birth, cannot be
composed of truths wholly unknown before. Some of our new creative
energy will go into stripping the veil from the face of that Reality
which men at one time and another have beheld. I find it easy to believe
this because through an intensive personal experience of my own I have
been brought to perceive a truth which is two thousand years old. Last
year I argued about Christianity, choosing this part, discarding that.
This year I have knelt and touched the hem of the seamless robe. The
experience would be too intimate and sacred to reveal were it not bound
up with your own. Let me tell you about it. It is the only way in which
I can talk with you about your sons who are facing death and suffering.

I wrote you that I was called home from Athens by my mother's illness.
She died last month. During the intervening months revelation after
revelation came to me. My mother had grown worse rapidly and at first I
was shocked to my innermost heart by the change in her. All her strength
seemed turned to weakness. Her rich and varied life had shrunk to the
hushed quiet of a sick-room. Her tranquil face had become haggard. Her
eager intellect had slipped away from her. There was nothing left of the
beautiful Hellenism of her life. A Periclean Greek would now have seen
in her only an illustration of the shadow lurking within the sunshine,
the tragedy of bodily weakness and old age and death.

And since she no longer had riches to offer, what had become of her
Christianity? The question could not frame itself, for I was caught and
lifted out of my despair by the swift impression that about my frail
mother there glowed a radiance which outshone the sunlight of her active
years. The dayspring from on high had but put to flight the lesser
stars. Every one who could see her was conscious of it. One of her
nurses said to me, 'She is so different from the weak people I've seen
before. I feel so _warm_, somehow, when I'm with her.'

A further revelation was that my mother was done with life and with us.
She was exquisite in her treatment of us, managing in receiving still to
be the giver. One day she said to me, unforgettably, 'You are making
pain and sickness very beautiful.' But that inward eagerness of hers
which had led me to believe that she had the Greek feeling for this
world was now turned toward a new and vaster world. She had exhausted
the experiences of this life--marriage and children, work and
achievement, knowledge and beauty, joy and sorrow. In seeing this I saw
too how far short they fall of the potentialities of an immortal soul.
With her energy and imagination she had drained every drop out of them,
but now she tossed them aside for some new wine.

The only time she ever spoke to me of the death which I was sure she
knew was drawing close, she did it lightly, with that humor which was a
part of her sanity. The doctors had just left her room after consulting
about some new form of her sickness, and she turned to me with a smile
and said, 'Don't repair me too often! I shall never get free if I don't
get worse.' But she told a friend of her own age that nobody could
imagine how eager she was to be gone. 'I can hardly wait,' she said, 'to
find out about it all. The only thing that troubles me is that the
others will be sorry.' I am not sorry. Since she wanted eternity without
my grief, she shall have it.

In the last few months Nature did us one of her not uncommon services.
Much of my mother's physical strength came back to her, as if at the end
the body was determined to be a fit mate for the soul it had so long
accompanied. She could move about once more in her little _polis_.
During my last visit at home I was enchanted by a sweet and bubbling
gayety which seemed to flow from some hidden spring of contentment. A
week later she died swiftly, before I could reach her. All our friends
talked to me of the light in her face during that week, and an old
bedridden Irish servant, telling me of a visit from her, exclaimed, 'I
kept thinking that she was just like a bride, dressed so beautifully and
looking so happy.' The Christian figure of the soul and God! The old
Celtic eyes had seen the truth. Of such substance was my mother's faith
in a future life. It was, indeed, the _evidence of things unseen_! I
perceived the fresh heart of Christianity in a belief so aged that it
had built the pyramids centuries before it set up the temples at
Eleusis. Never again shall I be found chattering while the great trumpet
blasts for immortality echo down the ages.

But before my mother's death another veil had been lifted for me. Behind
it I found the meaning of the cross. The experience will hardly bear
words. It was very simple, the issue of intimate daily living, but it
transformed one human mind as Bible and church, history and art had
never done. On the day it happened to me I was open to no impressions
from without. The weather was severe in our northern town whose normal
beauty is not un-Greek in its austerity and lucidity. A stormy east wind
drove dark clouds across the sky, and our firs and pine trees loomed
black and forbidding. I turned from the window to the soft loveliness of
my mother's room. There my heart and mind were closed to all abstract
thought and large emotions, for the nurse was away and I was absorbed
in the details of thermometer and medicines. My whole being was centred
in the hope that I might make my mother comfortable during those hours.
With inexpressible tenderness I began to bathe her, doing for her in her
frailty at the end of life what she had so often done for me in mine at
the beginning. Then it was that my eyes were opened. You know what a
Greek would have seen in a body worn with age, emaciated by sickness,
bearing many marks of suffering. But I beheld in it the central beauty
of the world. If the noblest of the marble Aphrodites had stood in the
room I should have recoiled from her in horror. I knew that my mother's
sickness was due to her prodigal waste, for us, of her natural strength.
Her flesh had been spent for us--_for me_. In a sudden supreme moment I
was at one with the disciples, passionately loving the friend who had
given his body to be broken for them; at one with the mad Christian
iconoclasts, shattering heathen statues; at one with the mediæval
artists, painting and carving the crucified Christ.

Later I came to see that only in that hour had I grasped the
significance of my mother's life. At first I had thought of her
suffering as subordinate to her love, an incident among her sacrifices.
Now I know it to be a sacramental reality, preëxistent in all her
earlier beneficence and at the end the earnest of her immortality.

Later still I realized what had happened. In an obscure individual hour
had been reënacted an experience which once befell the world. The
antique order was swept away by a tidal wave of emotion, and in its
place was left a new life and thought and art. Mediævalism, which had
offended me in history, issued from the feeling of men and women as
unknown as myself, married to the expression of thinkers, poets and
artists. In understanding, at last, the feeling, I came to understand
the way in which it was expressed.

When the Christian world, recovering its balance by means of the
Renaissance, once more accepted the worth of antiquity, it refused to
surrender the new treasure which it had gained in its temporary recoil
from humanism. Popes on the throne retained the symbol which had
comforted slaves in the Catacombs. The same cross survived the
Reformation and persists, plastically and verbally, as the sign of
modern Christianity. Until lately this paradox was as strange, in its
way, as that of a Borgian posing as Vicar of the Crucified. Last year I
saw all kinds of people trying to obliterate suffering: the
intellectualists were denying its efficacy, the humanitarians its
necessity, the Christian Scientists its reality. In our various modern
forms of speech we were addressing prayers to Hygeia, enshrined on the

Then, with terrible suddenness, the roar of guns interrupted us.

    Clouds and darkness
    Closed upon Camelot.

Some one light in the encircling gloom we must have, if we are to work
our way out into a renewal of civilization. Are we to discover it by
still another paradox, in the very mystery of suffering which we have
been denying? If one of your sons (which God forbid!) should be brought
home mutilated, you would not choose to remember him in his young
strength and beauty, because he would seem more beautiful to you
stretched upon his cross. You would not rest in your agony, or in your
fierce anger that such things are possible in the world. You would pass
from these to the conviction that his suffering for France made his
humanity divine. I do not pretend to understand the matter. I only know
it to be true. Even the Greeks presaged it at Eleusis, but they forgot
it as they turned homeward. For us it still lies beyond reason, but is
beginning to be clearer than the axioms of reason. The mystery of
suffering is more lucid than the fact of well-being.

My friend, may we not look upon this as the answer of Golgotha to the

Faithfully yours.


The Baptizing of the Baby

By Elizabeth Taylor

The Baby arrived in a howling nor'easter. The _fjelds_ were white with
driving snow, the sea was white with the spindrift of gale-lashed waves,
when the little procession filed into the parsonage courtyard. There
were a father, five godfathers, two godmothers, and a few non-official
friends. No baby was visible, but a muffled gurgle betrayed her
presence. One of the godfathers, a fine young Viking of a lad, had a
woman's dress-skirt buttoned around his neck and hanging down in front.
Within its warm folds was the Baby.

The Baby's age was but four weeks, and this her first journey into the
outside world. Custom has decreed that a Faroe Island baby must not pass
its parents' threshold until it goes to the Pastor to be received into
the Church, and so made secure from the Powers of Darkness. Having once
left its home, it cannot return with the sacred rite unperformed.

Imagine, then, the dismay that fell upon the Baby's escorts when they
learned that the Pastor had gone to the capital, several days before,
on important church business. _To Thorshavn!_ Only seven miles away, by
sea, to be sure, but, with that gale, it might as well be seventy. What
to do now? The Baby could not be taken back unbaptized. And there was
the baptismal feast all arranged: sweet soup, hung mutton, potatoes,
coffee, little cakes, with card-playing in the afternoon, and
rice-porridge and sandwiches in the evening. The Baby's mother was
putting the sweet soup over the fire when they left that morning. Five
miles by fjord they had come; then, as the gale increased, and they
neared the open sea, they had 'set up' on land, and trudged the
remaining three miles through deep snow.

'Oh, well,' sighed the father, 'we may as well "take it with quiet." The
women-folk are too weary, anyhow, to go through those drifts again. We
had better send one man home to explain matters, while the rest of us
visit our friends. The storm may lessen at any time, so we can go to
Thorshavn and bring home the Pastor.'

But--_the Baby_--And here the 'Pastorinde' was called upon to advise.
Yes the Pastorinde _did_ know of a newly-arrived baby in the village,
and she doubted not that its mother would kindly permit the
stranger-baby to share and share alike with her own.

I, too, was 'weather-fast.' From Thorshavn I had come, twelve days
before, to 'hold Jule' at the parsonage, intending to return two days
after Christmas. Then came this long storm. There was no going to
Thorshavn by sea; but in a roundabout way, by fjord and fjeld, it might
be done in a case of necessity, such as this church-meeting that the
Pastor must attend.

The foreman of the eight-man boat, however, flatly refused to take _me_.
'The Herr Pastor,' he explained patiently, 'has strong legs. He can jump
and stand fast in surf, climb cliffs, and go through deep snow. But it
is no journey for women-folk in high winter-time.'

So I was left behind when the Pastor went to Thorshavn.

One must start before daylight these short winter days to enable the
boats to return before dark. For eight days I had been living as much
packed up as possible, sleeping lightly, waking in the blackness of
morning at the sound of voices in the kitchen below. Groping to the head
of the stairway, I could hear the decision of the foreman: 'Not possible
to-day, Fru Pastorinde. There is _ribbingur i sjónum_ (dangerous sea)
outside.'--And back I would creep shivering, sure of one day more in the

'What is the Baby's name to be?' I asked one of the godfathers, as we
chanced to meet the next day. An embarrassed silence was followed by an
abrupt change of subject, and I felt that I had made a _faux pas_.
Later, I was told that a baby's name must never be asked, never be told,
before baptism. I knew, already, some bits of babylore. For instance,
if a child cries while it is being baptized, it will have a good voice
and sing well at the ballad dances. The water must never be allowed to
run down into the baby's eyes, or it will have 'second sight.' This is
not a happy gift, and I notice that the godmother holding the child,
_tilts_ it at the right moment so that the water flows back over the
forehead. I know, too, that the man who carries a baby-boy to and from
the church goes as fast as possible, so that the boy will be strong at
the oar, sure-footed on the fjelds.

All this, you observe, for the _boy_ baby. No such trouble is taken for
a mere girl. But, for both alike, there is this precaution: never leave
a child alone before it is baptized. Until then it falls easily into the
power of evil spirits, and is in danger of being carried away by
Hulderfolk. These underground creatures are not 'the little people,' or
the Brownies. In size and appearance they resemble human beings. They
have boats and go to the fishery; they have cows, sheep (that are always
gray), dogs (large black hounds that often have a light on the end of
their tails); but one thing the Hulderfolk lack and that is _souls_. If,
however, they can take away a Faroe baby and substitute one of their
own, and it is baptized, then that child will have a soul.

I know a peasant woman whose daughter died in childbirth not long ago,
leaving her baby to her mother's care. The father of the baby was
fishing in Iceland, and the old woman lived alone in her little
cottage. I went to see her, and during my visit, she wished to show me
some articles in another part of the house. Wherever we went she took
the cradle with her. I understood the reason and said to her,--

'But, Sanna, living by yourself as you do, are you not obliged sometimes
to leave the baby alone?'

'Yes, Fróken,' she replied sadly, 'several times I have had to leave him
just for a few minutes. But I put the Psalm-book under his pillow, I
mark him with the sign of the Cross, and _I run my best!_'

Another story I have heard lately is about a Hulderchild on Videró. A
peasant and his wife had a baby-boy, a good happy healthy child, who
never cried or made trouble. One day the mother had to leave him alone a
little while. When she returned she found the baby crying and fretting.
Its face seemed changed, somehow, and yet she could not say that it was
_not_ their child. From that time it cried night and day until the
parents were worn out, and they took it to the Pastor to ask his advice.
Now the Pastor 'knew more than his Paternoster,' as the saying is; that
is, he had studied Black Art. He examined the child and said he feared
it _was a bytte_ (changeling). 'Now,' said he, 'go home and build a
great brewing fire in the fire-place. In each of the four corners put a
limpet-shell filled with milk. Then hide yourselves, so you can see and
hear the child, but it will not know you are there. If it says or does
anything that shows it is a Hulderchild, then you may hope to get your
own baby back again.'

The parents followed carefully the Pastor's instructions, and, trembling
with anxiety, awaited the result. As the fire roared and crackled, the
child stirred uneasily and stopped crying. Then it raised itself on its
elbow and watched the fire and the four limpet-shells that were sizzling
away in the corners. Then they heard the child laugh scornfully, and saw
it point at the limpets. 'Huh!' it exclaimed, 'how can a child be
expected to thrive in a house where they have such things for kettles!
They should just see the great kettles--the great brewing-pots--in the
house of my father, Buin!'

The Hulderchild had betrayed itself! That night there was no crying, the
parents slept in peace and woke to find their own good happy baby in the

What are the cradle-songs this Baby will hear in the cabin where she
first saw the gray light of December? Verses from the old Kingos
Psalm-book, ballads of the Long Serpent and King Olaf, of Queen Dagmar's
death, the Whale Song, stories from the Iceland Sagas and the
Nibelungenlied. Little verses, too, Mother Goosey jingles; one that is
sung in Norwegian to babies in all the Scandinavian lands:--

    Row, row to the fishing ground,
    How many fishes have you found?
      One for Father,
      One for Mother,
      One for Sister,
      One for Brother,
    One for him that drew the nets,
      One for my little Baby.

Here is a little Faroe verse:--

    Down comes the Puffin to the sea,
      With his head carried high.
    'Little Gray-titlark, lend me thy boat?'
    'Small is my boat, short are my legs--
      But come thee on board';
    And the oars rattle in the oarlocks.

When the Baby grows a little bigger, she will not be taught that 'the
Bossy-cow says, "Mo-o-o," the Pussy-cat says, "Me-ow."' No, she will
learn what the _birds_ say:--

    The Puffin says, _'Ur-r! UR-R! UR-R!'_
    The Raven says, _'Kronk! KRONK! KRONK!'_
    The Crow says, _'Kra! KRA! KRA!'_
    The Eider-duck says, _'Ah-oo! AH-OO! AH-OO!'_
    The Wheatear says, _'Tck! TCK! TCK! None so pretty as I!'_

and so on through a long list of the birds of fjeld and sea.

Summer and winter the birds will be the Baby's neighbors. From her
father's cabin she can hear the eider-ducks cooing softly as they rise
and fall just beyond the white crest of the breakers. Starlings bubble
and chortle on the grassy house-roof; from the dark cliffs sounds the
raven's clarion cry, and there are always sea-gulls near. With spring
come all the sea-fowl to the bird-cliffs, and curlew, golden plover, and
Arctic jaegers, 'plaintive creatures that pity themselves on moorlands.'
All through the long dark winter the wren and titlark sing cheerfully.
The 'mouse's brother' the Baby will call the Faroe wren, and she will
know one fact of which grave scientists are ignorant, that the 'mouse's
brother' and the titlark sing a bird-translation of a verse from the old
Kingos Psalm-book. She will know, too, how the eider-duck won her down,
the story of the naughty shag and the Apostle Peter, why the cormorant
has no tongue, and that the great black-backed gull once struck our Lord
upon the Cross and thenceforth bore a blood-red spot on his bill. Well
can the Baby say in the words of the Kalevala, 'The birds of Heaven, the
waves of the sea, have spoken and sung to me; the music of many waters
has been my master.'

Few will the Baby's pleasures be. She will never have a Christmas tree,
nor hang up her stocking, nor have other presents than a pair of mittens
or a woolen kerchief for her head. The day before Christmas she will
help her mother to scrub everything that can be scrubbed, indoors and
out, working far into 'Jóla-Natt,' so that all shall be sweet and clean
for the birthday of our Lord. And next morning, in the sod-roofed church
where never was a fire made, she will sit with her mother on the
women's side, waiting meekly after service until the last man and the
last boy have left their seats. She will dance lightly on the sea-rocks,
her fair hair blowing in the wind, retreating as the big waves crash
down, and singing something which sounds like '_Ala kan eje taka mej!_'
(The wave cannot catch me!) She sings it to the same little tune I sang
as a child when dancing back and forth across the danger-line of Taffy's
land, mocking the rushes of an agile Taffy.

From seven to fourteen years she will go to school two weeks out of
every six (the schoolmaster must be shared between three hamlets), and
when fourteen years old, she will be confirmed, if she has learned
enough Danish to pass the examinations and to say the prayers and creed.
On that morning of confirmation she will turn up her hair, and wear a
dress skirt that will flap about her little heels. And that afternoon
there will be chocolate and cakes in her father's cabin, with friends
coming and going.

She will know suspense and fear and sickening dread when 'the boats are
out,' and the great gales burst without warning. From every hamlet the
sea has taken many; not one home has been spared. She cannot escape the
common lot; of grief she shall have her share.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three days of storm passed and the Baby was not thriving. She needed her
mother, and a consultation was held, the old sea-dogs of the hamlet
advising. The gale was surely lessening, and with nine picked men, eight
to row and one to steer, it could and should be done. The passage was to
be made to Thorshavn to bring the Pastor home. So off they went in the
early morning.

I was in my room, upstairs, about eleven o'clock, when I noticed that
the roar of the wind and the creaking and groaning of the timbers
overhead had ceased. I went to the window in time to see a great mass of
snow gathered up from the ground and hurled against the house. In that
short pause the wind had changed, and now blew from the west with
redoubled fury. I hurried downstairs, and one glance at the Pastorinde's
face confirmed my fears. She knew only too well where the returning boat
was at that hour: far out, off the worst place on the coast, in fierce
sea-currents, and in the full sweep of this new off-shore gale. The men
were in dire peril. Many boats the Pastorinde had known to 'go away' in
such a storm, after hours of desperate struggle to hold the boat in
place and make some headway toward land. Then, as strength failed, there
would be a slipping seaward, faster and faster, till men and boat went
under, overwhelmed by a mighty cross-sea--'the drowning wave.'

Hour after hour went by; the Pastorinde paced the rooms, pale and
silent. Under the shelter of walls and boat-houses were groups of men
looking seaward. At last a shout, and men pointing; out in a smother of
flying foam a dark spot had been seen, then lost, then seen again far
away under the cliffs of distant Stromö. The boat was slowly making its
way to a point due west, where it could blow in with the gale. All the
men and boys who could stand on their legs were down in the surf to meet
it, and with a rush the boat was borne up on land.

All was ready in the parsonage. The rug in the dining-room rolled up,
hot coffee made, food on the table; and the Pastorinde was standing in
the doorway as the men toiled feebly up, their clothes streaming with
sea-water. _Nine_ men only! Where was the _tenth_--where was the Pastor?
And, all together, the tale was told. The Pastor, they had found, was
_not_ in Thorshavn; two days ago the Danish gun-boat had carried him off
to Trangisvaag on some church affair, and nothing had been seen of him
since. Higher and higher rose the voices, trembling with the irritation
and unreasoning anger of utter exhaustion. The storm had struck them at
the worst place; for four hours they had struggled just to hold their
own, and were drifting seaward, when a short lull came, and with hope
renewed they fought again and at last reached the sheltering cliffs of
Stromö. Their eyes were wild and glassy, their hair matted, their hands
swollen and bleeding from straining at the oars. The Pastorinde--wise
woman--wasted no words of sympathy: she poured coffee, hot fragrant
coffee with plenty of cream in it. The men drank and the talking
quieted to grateful mumbles, and the cups were filled again, while their
clothes dripped sea-water and the floor was all afloat.

Two mornings later, before dawn, I heard a knock on my door, and the
Pastorinde's voice calling, 'The storm has ceased and they are going to
take the Baby to Thorshavn, to be baptized by the Thorshavn pastor. They
will take you, too, if you can be ready in half an hour.'

We were ready, all the baptismal party, plus myself and the borrowed
'maternal font.' One of the men came for me with a lantern, and I
clutched his strong hand and slipped and slid over the icy rocks. Lights
flared here and there, and land, sea, and sky were all one blackness;
only a faint gray line showed where the sea was breaking. The surf was
still high, covering the usual landing-place. One by one, we women were
carried to a group of rocks that rose above the surf. Beyond, the boat
was pitching and tossing, two men in the rowing-seats keeping the high
sharp prow pointing toward the land. It was no easy matter to get on
board, but we stood not upon the order of our going but jumped at once.
At one moment I was on top of two godmothers, the next moment five
godfathers scrambled over me to their places at the oars. Muffled
shrieks arose and ejaculations: '_Ak Gud bevare os!_' '_Ak Herre Jesu!_'
The boat swept out into the darkness, and we women-folk picked
ourselves up and sorted ourselves out.

It was bitterly cold, and it rained--oh, how it rained! But we didn't
care, we were going to Thorshavn at last, and there was a good sea. The
change of wind, the down-pour, had flattened the broken surges. Only the
great ground-swells swept landward, rank on rank, crashing along the
coast. We mounted slowly to their summits and glided down the outer
slopes with the motion of a bird in flight. Gayly rose the talk in the
boat, and there was a lighting of little pipes, one at a time, so that
the rowing need not be hindered. Now a faint yellow gleam on the
southern horizon beyond the down-dropping veils of mist; then, dimly
seen, the snow-crowned heights of Naalsö rising eighteen hundred feet
from the sea. The danger-point on Stromö passed, and then in the
distance twinkling lights, and a breath from shore bearing the fragrance
of peat-smoke.--'So he bringeth them to their desired haven.'

Out on the fjord the Danish gun-boat rose and fell, and on the wet
shore-rocks was a lonely figure gazing out to sea, like the pictures of
Napoleon on Elba. It had a familiar look--it was--yes, it was the

They laid hands on the Pastor, as though they expected him to vanish
from their sight. The Baby would be baptized then and there. Scant time
was given to the godmothers to change their shoes, skirts, and
stockings, and to prink.

_Clang, Clang! Clang!_ rang the church-bell in treble staccato notes.
There was a clattering of pattens in the stony lanes as children hurried
to the Baptism. The Pastor, a dignified priestly figure in his long
black robes and Elizabethan ruff, left the Thorshavn parsonage, passed
through the side gate to the church-portal, and the bell-ringing died

       *       *       *       *       *

I was down at the landing an hour later to say 'farvel' to the Pastor
and the baptismal party. And as the boat left shore I turned away to my
little cabin-home with a sigh of relief. The Baby--_Karin Marin Malene
Elsebet Jakobina Jakobson_--was baptized.


Biographical Notes

=Henry C. Merwin= has practiced law in Boston for a generation. A tireless
and enthusiastic worker in the cause of kindness to dumb animals, he
organized, many years ago, and still largely manages, the Decoration-Day
Workhorse Parade--an institution which has been extraordinarily
beneficent in its results.

=William Beebe= is Curator of Ornithology at the New York Zoölogical Park,
and has traveled far and wide, especially in tropical countries, in
study or search of every bird that flies.

=Jane Addams=, a pioneer among those Americans who have spent their lives
in ameliorating the conditions which breed poverty in our great cities,
has been for nearly thirty years the head of Hull-House, Chicago, which
she founded in 1889.

=Reverend Samuel McChord Crothers= is the minister of the First Church
(Unitarian) at Cambridge, Massachusetts. The most individual among our
essayists, he is known wherever the essay is read.

=Professor Robert M. Gay= fills the chair of English at Goucher College
for Women in Baltimore.

=Jean Kenyon Mackenzie= is an American missionary to Southwest Africa,
where she has long lived with the black folk on terms of sympathy and

=Edgar J. Goodspeed= is a professor of Chicago University, where he
teaches biblical and patristic lore.

=William T. Foster= has been, since its establishment, President of Reed
College, Oregon, where his policy of opposition to intercollegiate
athletics is creating a new tradition of college sport.

=Lida F. Baldwin= is a teacher of Youngstown, Ohio, and a lover and
observer of all natural things.

=Fannie Stearns Gifford= is a frequent contributor of both prose and verse
to the _Atlantic Monthly_ from her home in Pittsfield, Mass.

=John Jay Chapman= is an essayist of uncompromising vigor and independence
of thought. The author of many books, including a memoir of William
Lloyd Garrison, he has also published, with a notable introduction, the
letters of his son Victor, who was killed in the flying service on the
Western Front.

=Lucy M. Donnelly= is a lecturer in English in Bryn Mawr College.

=Sharlot Mabridth Hall= is a writer and traveler, with a very considerable
and specialized knowledge of Southwestern America.

=Richard Rowland Kimball=, a resident of Adamsville, R. I., is a pleasant
essayist, and a true lover of dogs.

=Laura Spencer Portor=, one of the editors of a well-known woman's paper
in New York, is a writer of versatile and temperamental charm.

=Mrs. Anne C. E. Allinson=, wife of a professor at Brown University, is an
enthusiastic and informed devotee of Greek history, art, and literature.
Before her marriage Mrs. Allinson was Dean of Women in the University of

=Elizabeth Taylor= still lives in the Faroe Islands, with whose customs
and mode of life she has the familiarity of a native, with more than a
native's appreciation.

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