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Title: Post-Impressions - An Irresponsible Chronicle
Author: Strunsky, Simeon, 1879-1948
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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POST-IMPRESSIONS



POST-IMPRESSIONS

An Irresponsible Chronicle


BY
SIMEON STRUNSKY

Author of "The Patient Observer," "Through
the Outlooking Glass," etc.

[Illustration]

NEW YORK
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
1914



COPYRIGHT, 1913,
BY THE EVENING POST COMPANY,

COPYRIGHT, 1914,
BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY

The papers in the present volume were published during 1913 in the
Saturday Magazine of the _New York Evening Post_.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
       I ALMA MATER BROADWAY                                           1
      II THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE                                        8
     III SUMMER READING                                               17
      IV NOCTURNE                                                     26
       V HAROLD'S SOUL, I                                             35
      VI EDUCATIONAL                                                  44
     VII MORGAN                                                       53
    VIII THE MODERN INQUISITION                                       63
      IX THORNS IN THE CUSHION                                        72
       X LOW-GRADE CITIZENS                                           80
      XI ROMANCE                                                      89
     XII WANDERLUST                                                   99
    XIII UNREVISED SCHEDULES                                         108
     XIV SOMEWHAT CONFUSED                                           117
      XV HAROLD'S SOUL, II                                           126
     XVI RHETORIC 21                                                 134
    XVII REAL PEOPLE                                                 141
   XVIII DIFFERENT                                                   150
     XIX ACADEMIC FREEDOM                                            157
      XX THE HEAVENLY MAID                                           166
     XXI SHEATH-GOWNS                                                176
    XXII WITH THE EDITOR'S REGRETS                                   185
   XXIII A MAD WORLD                                                 194
    XXIV PH.D.                                                       202
     XXV TWO AND TWO                                                 211
    XXVI BRICK AND MORTAR                                            220
   XXVII INCOHERENT                                                  228
  XXVIII REALISM                                                     236
    XXIX ART                                                         239
     XXX THE PACE OF LIFE                                            242
    XXXI MARCUS AURELIUS, 1914                                       244
   XXXII BY THE TURN OF A HAND                                       247
  XXXIII THE QUARRY SLAVE                                            250
   XXXIV MONOTONY OF THE POLES                                       253



POST-IMPRESSIONS



I

ALMA MATER BROADWAY


He came in without having himself announced, nodded cheerfully, and
dropped into a chair across the desk from where I sat.

"I am not interfering with your work, am I?" he said.

"To tell the truth," I replied, "this is the busiest day in the week for
me."

"Fine," he said. "That means your mind is working at its best, brain
cells exploding in great shape, and you can follow my argument without
the slightest difficulty. What I have to say is of the highest
importance. It concerns the present condition of the stage."

"In that case," I said, "you want to see Mr. Smith. He is the editor
responsible for our dramatic page."

"I want to speak to the irresponsible editor," he said. "I asked and
they showed me in here. I think I had better begin at the beginning."

I sighed and looked out of the window. But that made no difference. He,
too, looked out of the window and spoke as follows:

"Last night," he said, "I attended the first performance of A. B.
Johnson's powerful four-act drama entitled 'H2O.' It was a remorseless
exposure of the phenomena attending the condensation of steam. In the
old days before the theatre became perfectly free the general public
knew nothing of the consequences that ensue when you bring water to a
temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The public didn't know and didn't
care. Those who did know kept the secret to themselves. I am not
exaggerating when I say that there was a conspiracy of silence on the
subject. A play like 'H2O' would have been impossible. The public would
not have tolerated such thoroughgoing realism as Johnson employs in his
first act, for instance. With absolute fidelity to things as they are he
puts before us a miniature reciprocating engine, several turbine
engines, and the latest British and German models in boilers,
piston-rods, and valve-gears. When the curtain rose on the most masterly
presentation of a machine shop ever brought before the public, the house
rocked with applause. But this was nothing compared to the delirious
outburst that marked the climax of the second act, when the hero, with
his arm about the woman he loves, proudly declares that saturated steam
under a pressure of 200 pounds shows 843.8 units of latent heat and a
volume of 2.294 cubic feet to the pound. The curtain was raised eleven
times, but the audience would not be content until the author appeared
before the footlights escorted by a master plumber and the president of
the steamfitters' union.

"The third act was laid in the reception room of a Tenderloin resort--"

"I don't quite see," I said.

"That followed inevitably from the development of the plot," he replied.
"The heroine, you must understand, had been abducted by the president
of a rival steamfitters' union and had been sold into a life of shame.
She is saved in the nick of time by an explosion of the boiler due to
superheated steam. In the old days such a scene would have been
impossible and the author's lesson about the effects of condensation and
vaporization would have been lost to the world."

"And the play will be a success?" I said.

"It's a knockout," he replied. "No play of real life with a punch like
that has been produced since C. D. Brewster put on his three-act
tragi-comedy, 'Ad Valorem.' As the title implies, the play sets out to
demonstrate the difference between the Payne-Aldrich tariff law and the
Underwood law, item by item. I have rarely seen an audience so deeply
stirred as all of us were during the long and pathetic scene toward the
end of the first act in which the author deals with the chemical and
mineral oil schedule. Are you aware that under the Underwood law the
duty on formaldehyde is reduced from twenty-five per cent. to one cent a
pound?"

"I hardly ever go to the theatre nowadays," I said.

He looked at me reproachfully.

"Some day you will find yourself, quite unexpectedly, facing a crisis in
which your ignorance of the duty on formaldehyde will cost you dear, and
then you will have cause to regret your indifference toward the progress
of the modern drama. However, the third act of 'Ad Valorem' is laid in
the reception room of a Tenderloin resort."

"What?" I said.

"It was bound to be," he replied. "Freed from all Puritanical
restrictions, the playwright of the present day follows wherever his
plot leads him in accordance with the truth of life. In 'Ad Valorem,'
for instance, the fabulously rich importer of oils and chemicals who is
the villain of the piece has succeeded in smuggling an enormously
valuable consignment of formaldehyde out of the Government warehouse.
What is more natural than that he should conceal the smuggled goods in
the Tenderloin? The case is a perfectly simple one. Forbid a playwright
to show the interior of a Tenderloin dive and the public will never know
the truth about the Underwood bill. You see, there is nothing about the
tariff in the newspapers. There is nothing in the magazines. College
professors never mention the subject. Campaign speakers ignore it. There
is a conspiracy of silence. Only the theatre offers us enlightenment on
the subject. Under such conditions would you keep the playwright from
telling us what he knows?"

"Putting it that way--" I said.

"I knew you would agree with me," he went on. "Take, for instance, E. F.
Birmingham's realistic drama, 'The Shortest Way,' in which the author
has demonstrated with implacable truthfulness and irresistible logic
that in any triangle the sum of two sides is greater than the third. In
a joint letter to the freshman classes of Columbia University and New
York University, the author and the producer of 'The Shortest Way' have
pointed out that nowhere have the principles of plane geometry been so
clearly formulated as in the second act of the play. The gunman has just
shot down his victim on the corner of Broadway and Forty-second Street.
He flees northward on Broadway to Forty-third Street and then doubles
backward on Seventh Avenue. The hero, who is a professor of mathematics,
recalling his Euclid, runs westward on Forty-second Street, and the
curtain descends. At the beginning of the next act we find that the
gunman has taken refuge in the reception room of a Tender--"

"I know," I replied. "He was driven there by the irresistible logic of
the dramatist's idea."

"Exactly," he said. And so left me.



II

THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE


From the chapter entitled "My Milkman," in Cooper's volume of
"Contemporary Portraits," hitherto unpublished, through no fault of his
own, but because one publisher declined to handle anything but
typewritten copy, and another suggested that if cut down by half the
book might be accepted by the editor of some religious publication, and
still another editor thought that if several chapters were expanded and
a love story inserted, the thing might do, otherwise there was no market
for essays, especially such as failed to take a cheerful view of life,
whereupon Cooper insisted that his book was exceptionally cheerful,
inasmuch as it showed that life could be tolerable in spite of being so
queer, to which the editor replied that serializing a book of humour was
quite out of the question. "Then how about Pickwick?" said Cooper--but
let us get back to the chapter on the milkman. I quote:

Would sleep never come! I shifted the pillow to the foot of the bed and
back; threw off the covers; pulled them over my head; discarded them;
repeated the multiplication table; counted footsteps in the street
beneath my window; lit a cigarette; tried to go to sleep sitting up and
embracing my knees the way they bury the dead in Yucatan. No use. I
would doze off, and immediately that unfortunate column of figures would
appear, demanding to be added up, and I unable to determine whether sums
written in Roman numerals could be added up at all. That is the
disadvantage of taking conversation seriously, after ten in the evening,
or at any time. I had been discussing the immigration problem till
nearly midnight, and now I was busy adding up the annual influx from
Austria-Hungary during the last twelve years expressed in Roman
numerals. Some people are different. Their opinions don't hurt them. I
have heard people say the most biting things about the need of
abolishing religion and the family, and five minutes later ask for a
caviare sandwich. Whereas I take the total immigration from
Austria-Hungary for the last twelve years to bed with me and cannot fall
asleep.

I heard the rattle of wheels under my window. It was nearing daybreak. I
looked at my watch and it was close to five. I got up, washed in cold
water, dressed, and went outside. As I walked downstairs I heard the
clatter of bottles in the hallway below and some one whistling
cheerfully. It was the milkman. His wagon was at the curb, and as I
passed down the front steps and stopped to breathe in the sharp, clean,
mystic air of dawn, the milkman's horse raised his head, gazed at me for
a moment with a curious, friendly scepticism, and sank back into
thoughtful contemplation of a spot eighteen inches immediately in front
of his fore-legs.

(Here one editor had written in the margin: "Amateurish beginning;
should have led off with a crisp phrase or two addressed to the milkman
and then proceeded to a psychological analysis of the milkman's horse.")

I said to the milkman:

"This life of yours must be wonderfully conducive to seeing things from
a new angle. A world of chill and pure half-shadows; the happiest time
of the twenty-four hours; the roisterers gone to bed and the
factory-workers not stirring for a good hour. I should imagine that men
in your line would all be philosophers."

"It does get a bit lonely," he said. "But I always carry an evening
paper with me and read a few lines from house to house. Do you think
they'll let Thaw off?"

"What do _you_ think about it?" I said. "I haven't been following up the
case."

"I have read every bit of the story," he said. "He isn't any more crazy
than you or me. He's been punished enough; what's the use of persecuting
a man like that?"

If Thaw were as sound in mind as my friend the milkman, there would be
no doubt that he deserved his freedom. My new acquaintance was so well
set up, so clear-eyed, with that ruddy glow which comes from shaving and
washing in cold water before dawn, with the quiet air of peace and
strength which comes from working in the silent hours. I thought what an
upright, independent life a milkman's must be, so free from the petty
chaffering and meanness that make up the ordinary tradesman's routine.
He has no competition to contend with. He is no one's servant. He
deposits his wares at your doorstep and you take them or leave them as
you please. He can work in the dark because he does not need the light
to study your face and overreach you. With no one to watch him, with no
one to criticise him, with leisure and silence in which to work out his
problems--I envied him.

(Here another editor had written: "Tedious; chance for an excellent bit
of characterisation in dialogue entirely missed.")

"You're an early riser," he said.

"Can't fall asleep," I said. "This air will do me good."

"A brisk walk," he suggested.

"I'm too tired," I said.

He turned on the wagon step. "Jump in," he said; and when I was seated
beside him he clucked to the horse, who raised his drooping head and
started off diagonally across the street, apparently confident that he
would find another cobblestone to contemplate, eighteen inches in front
of his fore-legs.

"A good many more people find it hard to sleep nowadays than ever
before," he said. "You can tell by the windows that are lit up. Though
very often it's diphtheria or something of the sort. You hear the little
things whimper, and sometimes a man will run down the street and pull
the night-bell at the drug-store."

"Then you don't read all the time while you are driving?"

"Oh, you notice those things and keep on reading. It isn't very noisy
about this time of the day." He laughed.

"I should think you'd be tired," I said.

He said they did not work them too hard in his line. The hours were
reasonable. At one time there was an attempt on the part of the dairy
companies to make the hours longer; but the milkmen have some union of
their own, and there was a strike which ended in the companies agreeing
to pay for over-time from 7 to 9 A.M. Their association was more of a
social and benefit society than a trade union. Once a month in summer
they had an outing with lunch and some kind of a cabaret show and
dancing. They were a contented lot. The work was not too exacting. He
could read the evening paper when it got light enough, or sometimes he
could just sit still and think.

Think what?

Again I envied him. What extraordinary facilities this man had for
thinking straight, for seeing things clearly in this crisp morning air,
and around him silence and everything as fresh, as frank, as fragrant as
when the world was still young.

He blushed and hesitated, but finally confessed that for more than a
year he had been carrying about in his head a scenario for a
moving-picture play. His story was naturally interrupted at frequent
intervals as he went about the distribution of his milk bottles. But
stripped of repetitions and ambiguities the plot he had evolved in the
course of more than a year's driving through the silent streets was
about as follows:

The infant daughter of an extremely wealthy Mexican mine-owner is stolen
by the gipsies. When she grows up she is chosen by the gipsy king for
his bride. Before the wedding takes place the gipsies plan to rob the
house of a Mexican millionaire who is no other than the girl's father.
She volunteers to gain entrance into the house by posing as a celebrated
Spanish dancer. At night she opens the door to her confederates. Leaving
the girl to keep watch over their prisoner, the gipsies go about
ransacking the house. The unhappy man groans and cries out, "Ah, if only
I could see my little Juanita before I die." Father and daughter
recognise each other, she releases him from big bonds, and arming
themselves with Browning revolvers they shoot down the gipsy marauders
as they enter the room in single file. Juanita marries the young
overseer whom the childless old man has designated as his heir.

(Here one editor wrote: "An ordinary plot; nothing in it to show that it
was written by a milkman instead of a clergyman or a structural iron
worker.")

I think the criticism is a fair one.



III

SUMMER READING


Our vacation plans last year were of the simplest. Personally, I said to
Emmeline, there was just one thing I longed for--to get away to some
quiet place where I could lie on my back under the trees and look up at
the clouds. To this Emmeline replied that in this posture (1) I always
smoke too much; (2) I catch cold and begin to sneeze; (3) I don't look
at the clouds at all, but tire my eyes by studying the baseball page in
the full glare of the sun. The newspaper habit is one which I regularly
forswear every summer on leaving town. I hold to my resolution to this
extent that I refrain from going down to the post office in the morning
to buy a paper. But toward eleven o'clock the strain becomes unendurable
and I borrow a copy of yesterday's paper after peering wistfully over
other people's shoulders. Emmeline thinks this habit all the more
inexcusable because, working for a newspaper myself, I ought to know
there is never anything in them. She can't imagine what drives me on. I
told her, perhaps it is the unconscious hope that some day I shall find
in the paper something worth while.

Actually, one soon discovers that the simple act of lying on one's back
on the grass and looking up at the clouds involves an extraordinary
amount of preparation. I am inclined to think that there must be
correspondence courses which teach in ten lessons how to lie on one's
back properly and look up. There must be text-books on how to tell the
cumuli from the cirrus. There must be useful hints on how to relax and
lose yourself in the immensity of the blue void.

The personal equipment one needs to gaze at the clouds, if you believe
the department stores, is tremendous. English flannels; French
shirtings; native khaki; silks; home-spuns; belts with a monogram
buckle; flowered cravats in colours to blend with the foliage; safety
razors; extra blades for the razors; strops to sharpen the blades;
unguents to keep the strops flexible; nickeled cases to keep the
unguents in; and metal polish for the nickeled cases. Arduous labour is
involved in going to Maple View Farm from the comparatively simple
civilisation of New York. I am not certain whether in the best circles
one can properly lie on one's back and look at the clouds without a
humidor and a thermos bottle.

Emmeline said I must be sure and not forget my fishing-pole, as that
trout in the brook behind the barn would probably be expecting me.

It seems absurd for a full-grown man to speak of hating a trout. But why
deny it? When I think of the utterly debased creature in the pool behind
the barn, the accumulated results of ten thousand years of civilisation
drop from me, and my heart is surcharged with venom. It all came about
so gradually. My landlord asked me one morning whether I shouldn't like
to try my luck with his rod. I said I should. I took his rod and hooked
the blackberry bush on the other side of the stream. I did better on my
next try. As my hook sank below the surface, a thrill ran along the
line, the slender bamboo stem arched forward, and I waited with my heart
in my mouth for an enormous trout to emerge and engage me in a
life-and-death struggle. But through three long weeks he refused to
emerge. Emmeline said it was the bottom of the soap-box whose upper edge
is visible above the surface. But that cannot be. No inanimate object
could elicit in any one the rage and the sense of frustrated
desire--perhaps I had better say no more. All my better instincts
corrode with the thought of that fish. It would have been compensation,
at least, if I had ever caught any other fish in that brook. It might
have been a near relation, a favourite son perhaps, and I should have
had my revenge--but there I go again.

       *       *       *       *       *

What Emmeline wanted was a chance to catch up in her reading. It had
been a hard winter and spring, with the doctor too frequently in the
house and books quite out of the question. There were a half-dozen
novels Emmeline had in mind, not to mention Mr. Bryce's book on South
America, John Masefield, and Strindberg, whom she cordially detests. I
do too. I warned her against drawing up too ambitious a list, but she
was determined to make a summer of it. She said she felt illiterate and
terribly old. All I could do was to mention a few bookshops where she
could get the best choice with the least expenditure of energy.
Nevertheless she came back from her first day's shopping with a
headache.

Éponge is a rough, Turkish-towel fabric, selling in many widths, and
eminently desirable for out-of-door wear because of its peculiar
adaptability to the slim styles which prevent walking. Éponge has this
fatal defect, however, that when it is advertised in ready-made gowns at
an astounding reduction from $39.50, all the desirable models sell out
some time before ten o'clock in the morning. Hence Emmeline's headache.
She took very little supper and expressed the belief that our vacation
would be a complete failure. The mountains are always hot and dusty and
the crowd is a very mixed one.

After a while Emmeline had a cup of tea and felt better. We went over
our list of books for the summer and she wondered whether it wouldn't
pay to get a seamstress into the house and avoid the exhausting trips
downtown. On second thoughts she decided not to. Next morning she was
quite well and asked me to remind her not to forget Robert Herrick's new
novel. She said she might drop in at the office for lunch if she got
through early at the stores, and we might look at books together.

Charmeuse is a shimmering, silk-like material which lends itself
admirably to summer wear, because it stains easily. But in its effect on
the shopper's nerves, charmeuse is even worse than éponge. In fact, as a
preparation for a summer's reading, I don't know what is more
exhausting than charmeuse, unless it be crêpe de Chine. Emmeline did not
drop in for lunch that day, and when I came home at night, I found her
more depressed than ever. There was nothing to be had downtown. Prices
were impossible and anything else wasn't fit to be touched. It might be
just as well to stay in town for the summer as go away and take the
chance of getting typhoid. The situation was somewhat relieved by the
arrival at this juncture of several parcels, some long and narrow, and
others short and square. One particularly heavy box felt as if it might
contain a set of Strindberg, but turned out to be a really handsome coat
in blue chinchilla which Emmeline explained would be just the thing for
cool nights in the country. She had bought it in despair at obtaining
the kind of crêpe de Chine she wanted. The crêpe de Chine came in a
smaller box.

At breakfast the next day we were tremendously cheerful. I told Emmeline
of the handsome raincoat I had bought in preparation for lying on my
back on the grass and looking up at the clouds. From that we passed to
the new Brieux play. But when Emmeline intimated that she was going
downtown soon after breakfast, I grew anxious.

"Do you think," I said, "that it will really make any difference to Mr.
Galsworthy whether you read him in a voile or in a white cotton ratine?"

"If that is the way you feel about it," said Emmeline, "I can telephone
and have them take all these things back. I hate them anyhow."

"What I mean is," I said, "that you don't want to wear yourself out
completely before we leave the city. We have a month's reading ahead of
us. Let us begin it in peace of mind."

"With nothing to wear?" she said.

Tulle is a partly transparent material, which in the hands of a skilful
milliner becomes an invaluable aid to a thorough comprehension of the
plays of M. Brieux, especially when studied amid the complexities of
life on Maple View Farm. As usual, it is the department stores which
have been first to discover this fundamental connection in life. They
have everything necessary for the thorough enjoyment of Mr. Bryce's book
on South America--blouses, toques, parasols, and tennis shoes. Special
bargains in linen crash and batiste are offered on the same day with a
cut-rate edition of "Damaged Goods." Reading Brieux in the country is
almost as complicated a diversion as lying on one's back and looking up
at the clouds.



IV

NOCTURNE


Once every three months, with fair regularity, she was brought into the
Night Court, found guilty, and fined. She came in between eleven o'clock
and midnight, when the traffic of the court is as its heaviest, and it
would be an hour, perhaps, before she was called to the bar. When her
turn came she would rise from her seat at one end of the prisoners'
bench and confront the magistrate.

Her eyes did not reach to the level of the magistrate's desk. A
policeman in citizens' clothes would mount the witness stand, take oath
with a seriousness of mien which was surprising, in view of the
frequency with which he was called upon to repeat the formula, and
testify in an illiterate drone to a definite infraction of the law of
the State, committed in his presence and with his encouragement. While
he spoke the magistrate would look at the ceiling. When she was called
upon to answer she defended herself with an obvious lie or two, while
the magistrate looked over her head. He would then condemn her to pay
the sum of ten dollars to the State and let her go.

She came to look forward to her visits at the Night Court.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Night Court is no longer a centre of general interest. During the
first few months after it was established, two or three years ago, it
was one of the great sights of a great city. For the newspapers it was a
rich source of human-interest stories. It replaced Chinatown in its
appeal to visitors from out of town. It stirred even the languid pulses
of the native inhabitant with its offerings of something new in the way
of "life." The sociologists, sincere and amateur, crowded the benches
and took notes.

To-day the novelty is worn off. The newspapers long ago abandoned the
Night Court, clergymen go to it rarely for their texts, and the tango
has taken its place. But the sociologists and the casual visitor have
not disappeared. Serious people, anxious for an immediate vision of the
pity of life, continue to fill the benches comfortably. No session of
the court is without its little group of social investigators, among
whom the women are in the majority. Many of them are young women,
exceedingly sympathetic, handsomely gowned, and very well taken care of.

As she sat at one end of the prisoners' bench waiting her turn before
the magistrate's desk, she would cast a sidelong glance over the railing
that separated her from the handsomely gowned, gently bred, sympathetic
young women in the audience. She observed with extraordinary admiration
and delight those charming faces softened in pity, the graceful bearing,
the admirably constructed yet simple coiffures, the elegance of dress,
which she compared with the best that the windows in Sixth Avenue could
show. She was amazed to find such gowns actually being worn instead of
remaining as an unattainable ideal on smiling lay figures in the shop
windows.

Occupants of the prisoners' bench are not supposed to stare at the
spectators. She had to steal a glance now and then. Her visits to the
Night Court had become so much a matter of routine that she would
venture a peep over the railing while the case immediately preceding her
own was being tried. Once or twice she was surprised by the clerk who
called her name. She stood up mechanically and faced the magistrate as
Officer Smith, in civilian clothes, mounted the witness stand.

She had no grudge against Officer Smith. She did not visualise him
either as a person or as a part of a system. He was merely an incident
of her trade. She had neither the training nor the imagination to look
behind Officer Smith and see a communal policy which has not the power
to suppress, nor the courage to acknowledge, nor the skill to regulate,
and so contents itself with sending out full-fed policemen in civilian
clothes to work up the evidence that defends society against her kind
through the imposition of a ten-dollar fine.

To some of the women on the visitors' benches the cruelty of the process
came home: this business of setting a two-hundred-pound policeman in
citizens' clothes, backed up by magistrates, clerks, court criers,
interpreters, and court attendants, to worrying a ten-dollar fine out of
a half-grown woman under an enormous imitation ostrich plume. The
professional sociologists were chiefly interested in the money cost of
this process to the taxpayer, and they took notes on the proportion of
first offenders. Yet the Night Court is a remarkable advance in
civilisation. Formerly, in addition to her fine, the prisoner would pay
a commission to the professional purveyor of bail.

Sometimes, if the magistrate was young or new to the business, she would
be given a chance against Officer Smith. She would be called to the
witness chair and under oath be allowed to elaborate on the obvious
lies which constituted her usual defence. This would give her the
opportunity, between the magistrate's questions, of sweeping the
court-room with a full, hungry look for as much as half a minute at a
time. She saw the women in the audience only, and their clothes. The
pity in their eyes did not move her, because she was not in the least
interested in what they thought, but in how they looked and what they
wore. They were part of a world which she would read about--she read
very little--in the society columns of the Sunday newspaper. They were
the women around whom headlines were written and whose pictures were
printed frequently on the first page.

She could study them with comparative leisure in the Night Court.
Outside in the course of her daily routine she might catch an occasional
glimpse of these same women, through the windows of a passing taxi, or
in the matinée crowds, or going in and out of the fashionable shops. But
her work took her seldom into the region of taxicabs and fashionable
shops. The nature of her occupation kept her to furtive corners and the
dark side of streets. Nor was she at such times in the mood for just
appreciation of the beautiful things in life. More than any other walk
of life, hers was of an exacting nature, calling for intense powers of
concentration both as regards the public and the police. It was
different in the Night Court. Here, having nothing to fear and nothing
out of the usual to hope for, she might give herself up to the æsthetic
contemplation of a beautiful world of which, at any other time, she
could catch mere fugitive aspects.

Sometimes I wonder why people think that life is only what they see and
hear, and not what they read of. Take the Night Court. The visitor
really sees nothing and hears nothing that he has not read a thousand
times in his newspaper and had it described in greater detail and with
better-trained powers of observation than he can bring to bear in
person. What new phase of life is revealed by seeing in the body, say, a
dozen practitioners of a trade of whom we know there are several tens of
thousands in New York? They have been described by the human-interest
reporters, analysed by the statisticians, defended by the social
revolutionaries, and explained away by the optimists. For that matter,
to the faithful reader of the newspapers, daily and Sunday, what can
there be new in this world from the Pyramids by moonlight to the habits
of the night prowler? Can the upper classes really acquire for
themselves, through slumming parties and visits to the Night Court,
anything like the knowledge that books and newspapers can furnish them?
Can the lower classes ever hope to obtain that complete view of the
Fifth Avenue set which the Sunday columns offer them? And yet there the
case stands: only by seeing and hearing for ourselves, however
imperfectly, do we get the sense of reality.

That is why our criminal courts are probably our most influential
schools of democracy. More than our settlement houses, more than our
subsidised dancing-schools for shop-girls, they encourage the
get-together process through which one-half the world learns how the
other half lives. On either side of the railing of the prisoners' cage
is an audience and a stage.

That is why she would look forward to her regular visits at the Night
Court. She saw life there.



V

HAROLD'S SOUL, I


I agree with the publishers of Miss Amarylis Pater's book, "The New
Motherhood," that the subject is one which cannot possibly be ignored. I
have not only read the book, but I have discussed it with Mrs. Hogan,
and with my eldest son Harold, who will be seven next June. As a result
I am confronted with certain remarkable differences of opinion.

Twenty years ago, as I plainly recall, the Sacred Function of Motherhood
was not a topic of popular interest. There were a great many mothers
then, of course, and there were unquestionably many more children than
there are to-day. People, as a rule, spoke of their mothers with
fondness, and sometimes even with reverence. The habit had been forming
for several thousand years, in the course of which poets and painters
never grew tired of describing mothers who were engaged in such highly
useful occupations as bending over cradles, watching by sick-beds,
baking, mending, teaching, laughing in play-rooms, weeping at the Cross,
manipulating with equal dexterity the precious vials of love and
sacrifice and the carpet slipper of justice. But though people had thus
got into the way of accepting their mothers as an essential part in the
scheme of things, they rarely thought it necessary to write to the
editor about the Sacred Function of Motherhood. I mean in the
impersonal, scientific sense in which Amarylis Pater uses the phrase.

Life in general was a pitifully unorganised, rule-of-thumb affair in
those days. People fell in love because every one was doing it and
without any expressed intention to advance the purposes of Evolution.
They did not marry because they were anxious to render social service;
but waited only till they had saved up enough to furnish a home. They
bore children without regard to the future of the race. When the child
came it was not a sociological event. The family did not consider the
occurrence sacred, as Miss Vivian Holborn insists on calling it in her
frequent communications to the press. The family contented itself with
wishing the mother well and hoping the baby would not look too much like
its father.

Here I thought it would be well to confirm my own impressions by the
testimony of a competent witness. So I turned and called through the
open door into the dining-room.

"Mrs. Hogan," I said, "what do you think of the Sacred Function of
Motherhood?"

"What do I think of what?" said Mrs. Hogan.

"Of the Sacred Function of Motherhood," I repeated, rather timidly.

She looked at me with a distrustful eye, her broom suspended in midair.

Mrs. Hogan comes in once a week to help out. Distrust is her chronic
attitude toward me. She has all of the busy woman's aversion for a man
about the house while domestic operations are under way. But besides,
she cannot quite understand why a full-grown and able-bodied man should
be lolling at his desk, pen in hand, when he ought to be downtown
working for his family. She is aware, of course, that all the members of
my family are well-nourished, decently dressed, and apparently quite
happy. But that only renders the source of my income all the more
dubious. When any one asks Mrs. Hogan how many children she has, she
stares for some time at the ceiling before replying. From which I gather
that there must be several.

"I refer to the business of being a mother, Mrs. Hogan. Have you never
felt what a sacred thing that is?"

"An' what would there be sacred about the same?" she asked, seeing that
I was quite serious. "Bearin' a child every other year, an' nursin'
them, an' bringin' them through sickness, an' stayin' up nights to sew
an' wash an' darn, an' drivin' them out to school, an' goin' out by the
day's wurrk, where's the time for anythin' sacred to come into the life
of a woman?"

"Just the same it does," I said. "Motherhood, Mrs. Hogan, is so holy a
thing nowadays that a great many women are afraid to touch it,
preferring to write in the magazines about it. Are you aware that when
you married Mr. Hogan you were performing an act of social service?"

"I was not that," said Mrs. Hogan, "I was doin' a service to Jim,
besides plazin' myself. 'Twas himself needed some one to take care of
him."

"But that would mean," I said, "that you were false to your own highest
self. If you had read Miss Pater's book you would know that any marriage
entered into without the sense of social service merely means that a
woman is selling herself to a man for life for the mere price of
maintenance."

"When I married Jim," said Mrs. Hogan, "he was after being out of a job
for six months."

She went back to her work more than ever puzzled why my wife and the
children should look so well taken care of.

In those days--I mean about the time Mrs. Hogan was married to Jim, and
I was at college constructing my world of ideas out of the now forgotten
books which Mr. Gaynor was always quoting--I recall distinctly that the
sacred things were also the secret things. What burned hot in the heart
was allowed to rest deep in the heart. Partly this was because of a
common habit of reticence which we have so fortunately outgrown. But
another reason must have been that life then, as I have said, was
imperfectly organised. To-day we have applied the principle of the
division of labour so that we no longer expect the same person to do the
work of the world and to feel its sacred significance. Thus, to-day
there are women who are mothers and other women who proclaim the sacred
function of motherhood. To-day there are women who bring up their
children, and other women who, at the slightest provocation, thrill to
the clear, immortal soul that looks out of the innocent eyes of
childhood.

At this moment the clear, immortal soul of my boy, Harold, finds
utterance in a succession of blood-curdling howls. He is playing Indians
again. The wailing accompaniment in high falsetto emanates from the
immortal soul of the baby. Those two immortalities are at it again.

I call out, "Harold!"

There is a silence.

"Harold!"

With extreme deliberation he appears in the doorway. I recognise him
largely by intuition, so utterly smeared up is he from crawling in
single file the entire length of the hall on his stomach. Beneath that
thick deposit of rich alluvial soil I assume that my son exists. I ask
him what he has been doing with the baby.

He had been doing nothing at all. He had merely tied her by one leg to a
chair and pretended to scalp her with a pair of ninepins. He had
performed a war dance around her and every time his ritual progress
brought him face to face with the baby he made believe to brain her, but
he only meant to see how near he could come without actually touching
her, and he would strike the chair instead. He didn't know why the baby
shrieked.

"Harold," I said, "do you feel the sacred innocence of childhood
brooding in you?"

He was alarmed, but bravely attempted a smile.

"Ah, father!" he said.

I looked at him severely.

"Do you know what I ought to do to you in the name of the New
Parenthood?"

"Ah, father!" and his lip trembled.

"You are a disgrace to the eternal spark in you," I said.

He lowered his head and began to cry. It required an effort to be stern,
but I persisted.

"Harold," I said, "you will go into your room and stand in the corner
for ten minutes. Close the door behind you. I will tell you when time is
up."

He dragged himself away heartbroken and I found it was useless trying to
write any more. I had made two people utterly miserable. I threw down my
pen and rose to take a book from the shelf, but stopped in the act. Out
of Harold's room came music. I stole to the door and looked in. He had
not disobeyed orders. He had merely dressed himself in one of the
nurse's aprons and the baby's cap, and standing erect in his corner, he
sang "Dixie," with all the fervour of his fresh young voice.

About his appearance there was nothing sacred.



VI

EDUCATIONAL


Half-minute lessons for up-to-the-minute thinkers:


I. WORD STUDY

CHILD, _noun_; a student of sex hygiene; a member of boy scout
organisations and girls' camp-fire organisations for the practice of the
kind of self-control that parents fail to exercise; a member of school
republics for the study of politics while father reads the sporting
page; a ward of the State; a student of the phenomena of alcoholism; a
handicap carefully avoided by specialists in child-study; one-third of a
French family; the holder of an inalienable title to happiness which the
Government must supply; in general, a human being under thirteen years
of age who must be taught everything so that he will be surprised at
nothing when he is thirty years of age. The ignorant and innocent
offspring of a human couple, obs. Synonyms: man-child; girl-child;
love-child.

MOTHERHOOD, _noun_; a profession once highly esteemed, but rejected by
modern spirits as too frequently automatic.

MOTHER, _noun_; a female progenitor; a term often employed by the older
poets in connection with the ideas of love, sacrifice, and holiness, but
now delicately described by writers of the _Harper's Weekly_ temperament
as being synonymous with cow.

EUGENICS, _noun_; a condition of intense excitement over the future of
the human race among those who are doing nothing to perpetuate it.

LITERATURE, _noun_; see SEX; WHITE SLAVE.

DRAMA, _noun_; see SEX; WHITE SLAVE.

PUNCH, _noun_; see DRAMA; LITERATURE; MAGAZINE ADVERTISING.

ADENOIDS, _noun_; something that is cut out of children.

SOCIAL-MINDEDNESS, _noun_; something that is injected into children.


II. GEOGRAPHY

ARGENTINA; where the tango comes from.

RUSSIA; where Anna Pavlova and ritual murder trials come from.

PERSIA; where the harem skirt comes from, and other fashions eagerly
embraced by a generation which insists that woman shall no longer be
man's chattel and plaything.

AMERICA; where the profits of all-night restaurants in Montmartre come
from.

ASSYRIA, BABYLONIA, EGYPT, PERU, YUCATAN, PATAGONIA; where the
decorations for Broadway lobster-palaces come from.

EQUATOR; the earth's waistline, unfashionably located in the same place
year after year.

TENDERLOIN; where the world's wisdom comes from.

CAMBRIDGE, NEW HAVEN, PRINCETON, MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS; the sites of once
celebrated educational institutions whose functions have now been taken
over by theatre managers on Broadway.

UNDERWORLD; the world now uppermost.

MOUNTAIN; a rugged elevation of the earth's surface which comes to every
self-constituted little prophet when he snaps his fingers.

SEA; where we are all at.

MEXICO CITY; residence of Huerta, the most eminent living disciple of
Nietzsche.

BULGARIA; a nation which scornfully rejected peace and reaped honour,
widows, and orphans; where the Servians were the other day.

SERVIA; where the Bulgarians may be next week.

CHAUTAUQUA; any place outside the offices of the State Department.


III. ARITHMETIC

1. A ship carrying 800 passengers and crew is in collision off the banks
of Newfoundland, and 700 are saved. Describe the method by which the
_Evening Journal_ computes 400 souls lost.

2. The salary of a police lieutenant is about $2,500 a year. At what
rate of interest must this sum be invested to produce a million dollars'
worth of real estate in ten years?

3. 2+2=4. Show this to be true otherwise than by writing a four-act play
with its principal scene laid in a house of ill fame.

4. The loss to the nation from disease has been estimated at
$200,000,000 a year. Show the profit that would accrue to the nation
from abolishing every form of disease after deducting the cost of
maintaining the dependent widows and orphans of 50,000 doctors who have
starved to death.

5. In a certain gubernatorial campaign several disinterested gentlemen
contributed $10,000 each to the campaign fund; yet the total of campaign
contributions was a little over $5,000. Explain this.

6. If you were called upon to build a bridge to the moon, which would
you rather use, the total number of postage stamps on rejected magazine
contributions laid end to end, or the total number of automobiles
shipped from Detroit placed end to end?

7. In a recent article on mortality statistics in the _World_, the
writer omitted to divide his average death rate by 2. Was his argument,
because of that, two times as convincing or only half as convincing?

8. Describe the modifications in the laws of arithmetic introduced by
Mr. Thomas W. Lawson.


IV. HISTORY

The supporters of Mr. Theodore Roosevelt have frequently remarked that
if Abraham Lincoln were alive to-day, he would be with them. Uncle Joe
Cannon has expressed the conviction that Abraham Lincoln if he were
alive to-day would be on his side. Is there anything in history to
indicate that Abraham Lincoln, great man though he was, could be in two
places at the same time?

Mention three Republican administrations in which the rainfall was twice
as heavy as in any Democratic administration since 1837, and show what
this indicates for the prosperity of the country under Mr. Woodrow
Wilson.

Julius Cæsar is said to have been in the habit of dictating to three
secretaries simultaneously. How does this compare with the literary
productivity of Mr. Arnold Bennett and Mr. Jack London?

At the last meeting of the Tammany aldermanic convention of the Fifth
Assembly District a speaker declared it to be the most momentous event
in the history of the world. Compare the Fifth Assembly District
convention with (a) the battle of Marathon; (b) the meeting of the
States-General at Versailles in 1789; (c) the signing of the
Emancipation Proclamation.


V. LOGIC

Prove that the department store is the principal cause of prostitution
by showing that the department store is fifty-six years old and the
social evil is forty thousand years old.

The mortality rate in municipal foundling asylums is 99-1/2 per cent.
Develop this into an argument for the maintenance of all children by the
State.

Compare the arguments advanced in at least four (4) New York newspapers
to show that the Giants would win with the reasons given in the same
newspapers why the Athletics won.

Compare Richard Pearson Hobson's last speech on the Japanese peril with
Demosthenes's Oration on the Crown.


VI. SCIENCE

The classification of the sciences has always presented peculiar
difficulties, but a partial list would include the following:

  Tonsorial Science,                 Sunday Supplement Science,
  Science of Bricklaying             Domestic Science,
  Science of Cosmic Love             Bohemian Science,
  Science of Advertising             Science of Sir Oliver Lodge,
  Scranton, Pa., Science             Science of Packy McFarland,
  Science of Puts and Calls          Science of Sexology,
  Anti-vivisectionist Science,       Science.



VII

MORGAN


We were speaking of the man whose career was written in terms of huge
corporations and incomparable art collections.

"What a life it was!" said Cooper. "From his office-desk he controlled
the destinies of one hundred million people. His leisure hours were
spent amidst the garnered beauty of five thousand years. Isn't it almost
an intolerable thought that the same man should have been master of the
Stock Exchange and owner of that marvellous museum in white marble on
Thirty-sixth Street?"

"Cooper," I said, "you sound like the I. W. W."

"I am that," he retorted. "I express the Inexhaustible Wonder of the
World in the face of this thing we call America. A nation devoted to the
principle that all men are born equal has produced the perfect type of
financial absolutism. A people given up to material aims has cornered
the art treasures of the ages. Need I say more?"

"You needn't," I said. "You have already touched the high-water mark in
lyricism."

But Harding waved me aside.

"I have also been thinking of that marble palace on Thirty-sixth
Street," he said. "I can't help picturing the scene there on that
critical night in the fall of 1907 when Wall Street was rocking to its
foundations, and a haggard group of millionaires were seeking a way to
stave off ruin. I imagine the glorious Old Masters looking down from
their frames on that unhappy assembly of New Masters--the masters of our
wealth, our credit, our entire industrial civilisation. I imagine
Lorenzo the Magnificent leaning out from the canvas and calling the
attention of his neighbour, Grolier, to that white-faced company of
great American collectors. The perspiring gentleman at the head of the
table had one of the choicest collections of trust companies in
existence. The man at his elbow was the owner of an unrivalled
collection of copper mines and smelters. Facing him was an amateur who
had gone in for insurance companies. Others there had collected
railroads, or national banks, or holding companies. No wonder old
Lorenzo was moved at the prospect of so many matchless accumulations,
representing the devoted labour of years, going under the hammer. Around
the walls the wonderful First Editions stood at attention and some one
was saying, 'Naturally, on the security of your first mortgage bonds--'"

"Putting poetry aside," I said somewhat impatiently, "what I should like
to know is whether this garnered beauty of five thousand years, as
Cooper calls it, really has any meaning to its owners. I understand that
most of our great collections are bought in wholesale lots, Shakespeare
folios by the yard, Chinese porcelains by the roomful. Does a man
really take joy in his art treasures in such circumstances?"

"Of course he does," said Cooper. "If we buy masterpieces in the bulk,
that again is the American of it. I am certain that this man's
extraordinary business success is to be explained by the mental stimulus
he derived from his books and his pictures. His business competitors
really had no chance. Their idea of recreation was yachts or cards or
roof-gardens. But he found rest in the presence of the loveliest dreams
of dead painters and poets. Can't you see how a man's imagination in
such surroundings would naturally expand and embrace the world? No
wonder he thought in billions of dollars. Why, I myself, if I could
spend half an hour before a Raphael whose radiant beauty brings the
tears to your eyes, could go out and float a $100,000,000 corporation."

"Having first dried your tears, of course," I suggested.

"Well, yes," he said.

Harding had been showing signs of impatience, a common trait with him
when other people are speaking.

"When a rich man dies," he said, "the first thing people ask is what
will the stock market do. They were putting that question last week.
Your Wall Street broker is a sensitive being. Nothing can happen at the
other end of the world but he must rush out and sell or buy something.
Returning, he says to the junior partner, 'I see there has been a big
battle at Scutari. Where's Scutari and what are they fighting about?'
'Search me,' says the junior partner, 'but I think you did right in
buying.' 'I sold,' says the broker. 'Who won the battle?' says the
junior partner. 'I don't recall,' says the broker. But he is convinced
that no big battle should be allowed to pass without being reflected in
Wall Street.

"But that is not what I wanted to say. Suppose the market does go up two
points or loses two points. What is the effect on the Stock Exchange
compared with the crisis that ensues in the art world when a rich
American dies? There's where things begin to look panicky. The
quotations on Rembrandts and Van Dycks are cut in two. There is
consternation in London auction rooms and Venetian palaces. In some
half-ruined little Italian town the parish council has almost made up
its mind to ship to New York the thirteenth-century altar piece which is
the glory of the cathedral. The news comes that Croesus is dead and
the parish authorities see their dreams of new schools and a new chapel
and a modern water supply vanish. That is the crisis worth considering."

"Not to speak," I said, "of that little shop on Fourth Avenue where they
paint Botticellis."

"I admit that Harding has made a very interesting suggestion, though
probably without any deliberate intention on his part," said Cooper.
"This steady drain by Wall Street upon Europe's art treasures is a
civilising process which scarcely receives the attention it deserves,
except when some Paris editor loses his temper and calls us barbarians
and despoilers. I am not sure who is the barbarian, the American trust
magnate who thinks a million francs is not too much for one of Raphael's
Madonnas, or the scion of Europe's ancient nobility who thinks that no
Madonna is worth keeping if you can get a million francs for it.
According to the European idea, the proper place for a masterpiece is a
corner of the lounging-room where the weary guest, after a hard day with
the hounds, may be tempted to stare at the canvas for a moment and say,
'Nice little daub, what?' Their masterpieces are made to be seldom seen
and never heard of.

"Now see what we do with the same picture over here. Before it is
brought into the country all the papers have cable despatches about it,
and they have impressed its value on the public mind by multiplying the
real price by five. Then we advertise it by raising the question whether
it is genuine or a fake. Then we put it into a museum and countless
thousands besiege the doorkeeper and ask which is the way to the
million-dollar picture. Then the Sunday papers print a reproduction in
colours suitable for framing, but it isn't framed very often because the
baby destroys it while papa is busy with the comic supplement. Then the
New York correspondents of the Chicago papers write columns about the
picture. Then it is taken up by women's clubs, the reading circles, and
the Chautauqua. Before the process is completed that picture has entered
into the daily thought and speech of the American people."

Harding interrupted.

"The members of the European nobility have seldom been interested in
art. They have been too busy wearing military uniforms or pursuing the
elusive fox all over the landscape."

"But that is just the point I was making," said Cooper indignantly.

"Yes, but not so clearly as I have formulated it," said Harding. "The
fact is that art has always flourished under the patronage of the
merchant class. The Athenians were a trading people. Lorenzo the
Magnificent came from a family of pawn-brokers. Rembrandt sold his
pictures to the sturdy, and quite homely, tea and coffee merchants of
Holland. It is preposterous to suppose that because a man is lucky in
the stock market he is incapable of appreciating the very best things in
art. He is not incapable; only he keeps his interests separate. From ten
o'clock to three our patron of the arts is busy downtown attending to
the unfortunate financiers whom he has caught on the wrong side of the
market. If Cooper here were a Cubist painter, and you gave him the run
of a great art collector's front office on settlement day, he could
produce any number of pictures entitled Nude Speculator Descending a
Wall Street Staircase."

"The European aristocracy doesn't always despise us," I said.
"Occasionally an American will be decorated by the Grand Duke of
Sonderklasse-Ganzgut with the cross of the Bald Eagle of the Third
Class, the person thus honoured being worth nine hundred million
dollars and the area of the Prince's dominions being eighty-nine square
miles."



VIII

THE MODERN INQUISITION


QUESTIONNAIRE: _A favourite indoor amusement in uplift circles._

His eyes were bloodshot and he stared forward into vacancy.

"We were married," he said, "shortly after I was graduated from law
school. For just five years we were happy. We were in love. I was making
good in my profession. Helen took delight in her household duties and
her baby. Then one day--the exact date is still engraved in letters of
fire on my memory--I received a letter. It was from the Society for the
Propagation of Ethical Statistics. It said that a study was being made
of the churchgoing habits of college graduates, and there was a printed
list of questions which I was requested to answer. I cannot recall the
entire list, but these were some of the items:

"Do you go to church willingly or to please your wife?

"Do you stay all through the sermon?

"What is the average amount you deposit in the contribution plate (a) in
summer; (b) in winter?

"Is your choice of a particular church determined by (a) creed; (b) the
quality of the preaching; (c) ventilation?

"Are you ever overtaken by sleep during the sermon, and if so, at what
point in the sermon do you most readily yield to the influence? (Note:
In answering this question a state of recurrent drowsiness is to be
considered as sleep.)

"Do you go to sleep most easily under (a) an Episcopalian; (b)
Presbyterian; (c) Methodist; (d) Rabbi; (e) Ethical Culturist? (Note:
Strike out all but one of the above names.)

"Is your awakening attended by a sensation of remorse or merely one of
profound astonishment?

"What do you consider to be the ideal length for a sermon, leaving
climatic conditions out of account?

"I tossed the letter across the breakfast table to Helen and intimated
that I couldn't spare the time for an answer. But Helen insisted it was
my duty as a college graduate. If the science of sociology couldn't look
to us men of culture for its data, whom could it go to? So I telephoned
down to the office that I would be late and sat down to draft my reply.
It was much more difficult than I imagined. I was amazed to find how
little I knew of my own habits and processes of thoughts. It took the
greater part of the morning, and when I finally did get down to the
office I learned that my most important client, an aged gentleman of
uncertain temper, had gone off in a rage saying he would never come
back. He kept his word.

"That letter was the beginning. I had no leisure to worry over this loss
of a very considerable part of my income, because the next morning's
mail brought a letter from the Association for the Encouragement of the
City Beautiful. It contained a very long questionnaire which I was
requested to fill out and forward by return mail. I was asked to state
whether the character of the telegraph poles in our neighbourhood was
such as to reflect credit on the civic spirit of the community, in
respect to material (a) wood, (b) ornamental iron; and secondly, as to
paint, (a) yellow, (b) red, (c) green, (d) no paint at all. I was also
to say whether conditions in our neighbours' back yards were conducive
to the propagation of the typhoid-bearing or common house-fly and to
give my estimate of the number of flies so propagated in the course of a
week, in hundreds of thousands. Finally, was the presence of the
house-fly in our community due to the negligence of individual citizens,
or was it the direct result of inefficient municipal government? And if
the latter, was our municipal administration Republican or Democratic,
and what were the popular majorities for mayor since the
Spanish-American war?

"With Helen's assistance I managed to send off my reply within two
days. But when I came down to my place of business I found that I had
missed an important long-distance call from Chicago which the office-boy
had promised to transmit to me, but failed to do so because he did not
understand it in the first place."

He sighed and stared at the floor. His emaciated fingers beat a rapid
tattoo on my desk. He droned on in dull, impersonal tones, as if this
story of the wreck of a man's happiness had no special concern for him.

"Well," he said, "you can foresee the end for yourself. Within less than
two months my law business disappeared, because I simply could not
devote the necessary time to it. I resorted to desperate measures. I
wrote to our alumni secretary, asking him to remove my name from the
college catalogue; but it was too late. My name was by this time the
common property of all the sociological laboratories and research
stations in the country. At home, want began to stare us in the face.
Worry over my financial condition, added to the long hours of labour
involved in filling out questionnaires, undermined my health. I grew
morose, ill-tempered, curt in my behaviour to Helen and the child. We
still loved each other, but the glow and tenderness of our former
relations had disappeared.

"Fortunately Helen did not feel my neglect as she might. For by this
time she, too, was getting letters from sociological experiment
stations. Helen was graduated from a New England college. Her letters,
at first, dealt with problems of domestic economy. She had to write out
model dietaries, statements of weekly expenses, the relative merits of
white and coloured help. Later she was led into the field of child
psychology. Our little Laura was hardly able to go out into the open
air, because her mother had to keep her under observation during so many
hours of the day. The child grew pale and nervous. Helen grew thin. In
her case, poor girl, it was actual lack of food. There was no money in
the house. One night as we sat down at table there was just a glass of
milk and a slice of bread and butter at Laura's plate; for us there was
nothing. At first I failed to understand. Then I looked at Helen and she
was trying to smile through her tears."

He sobbed and I turned and stared out of the window.

"That night," he said, "I went out and pawned my watch; my
great-grandfather had worn it. People rally quickly under trouble, and
the next morning we were fairly cheerful. I set to work on a list of
questions from the Bureau of Comparative Eugenics. Helen was busy with a
questionnaire on Reaction Time in Children Under Six, from the
Psychological Department at Harvard. I was resigned. I looked up and saw
Laura playing with her alphabet blocks. I thought: Well, our lives may
be spoiled, but there is the child. Life had cast no shadow on the
current of her young days. At that moment the hall-boy brought in a
letter. It was addressed to Miss Laura Smith--our baby. It was from the
Wisconsin Laboratory of Juvenile Æsthetics. It contained a list of
questions for the child to answer. How many hours a day did she play?
Did she prefer to play in the house or on the street? Did she look into
shop windows when she was out walking or at moving-picture posters? Was
she afraid of dogs? I was crushed. There was a mist before my eyes. I
fell forward on the table and wept."

His lip trembled, but the manhood was not gone from him. He faced me
with a show of firmness.

"Mind you," he said, "I am not complaining. The individual must suffer
if the world is to move forward. We have suffered, but in a good cause."

I agreed. I recalled the tabulated results of a particularly elaborate
questionnaire printed in the morning's news. Questions had been sent to
a thousand college graduates. Of that number it appeared that 480 lived
in the country, 230 preferred the drama to fiction, 198 were
vegetarians, and 576 voted for Mr. Wilson at the last Presidential
election. Those who voted the Democratic ticket were less proficient in
spelling than those who voted for Colonel Roosevelt. Could anything be
more useful?



IX

THORNS IN THE CUSHION


I have a confession to make and I have my desk to clean out. One is as
hard to go at as the other. If people would only refrain from putting my
books and papers in order whenever I am away, I could always find things
where I leave them and the embarrassment I am about to relate would have
been spared me. After all, there is efficiency and efficiency. If the
book I need at any moment is always buried beneath a pile of foreign
newspapers, it is only interfering with my work to haul it out during my
absence and put it on the desk right in front of me, where I cannot see
it.

It was at Harding's place that I met Dr. Gunther. Harding had insisted
that we two ought to know each other. After I had spent half an hour in
the Doctor's company I agreed that had been worth my while; the rest is
for him to say. Gunther is a physician of high standing, but his hobby
is astronomy, and it was quite evident that he is as big an expert in
that field as in his own profession. We spent a delightful evening. As
he rose to say good-night, Gunther turned to me and smiled in a timid
fashion that was altogether charming.

"I must confess," he said with a sort of foreign dignity of speech,
"that my desire to make your acquaintance was not altogether
disinterested. I have here," pulling a large envelope out of his pocket,
"a few remarks which I have thrown together at odd moments, and which it
occurred to me might be of interest to your readers. It is on a subject
which I can honestly profess to know something about. Perhaps you might
pass it on to your editor after you have glanced through it and decided
that it had a chance. In case it is found unavailable for your purposes,
you must be under no compunction about sending it back. You see, I have
put the manuscript into a stamped and addressed envelope. I know how
busy you journalists are."

I told him I would be delighted to do what I could. I brought the
manuscript to the office next morning, laid it on my desk, and forgot
about it. It was a Saturday. After I left the office, the janitor's
assistant, being new to the place, came in and cleaned up my room. When
I looked for the paper on Monday, I could not find it. At first I was
not alarmed, because I reasoned that in the course of two or three weeks
it would turn up.

But this was evidently Dr. Gunther's first experience as a contributor
to the press. He was impatient. Within a week I had a letter from him,
dated Boston, where, as he explained, he had been called on a matter of
private business which would keep him for some time. Without at all
wishing to seem importunate, he asked whether my editor had arrived at
any decision with regard to his manuscript. It was a vexing situation. I
shrank from writing and confessing how clumsy I had been; and besides
the paper was likely to be found at any moment. I saw that I must fight
for time.

What I am about to say will confirm many good people in their opinion of
the unscrupulous nature of the newspaper profession; but the truth must
be told. I determined to write to Dr. Gunther as if I had read his
article. The terrible difficulty was that I did not know what it was
about. I was fairly sure it had to do with one of two things, medicine
or astronomy. He had said, when he gave me the manuscript, that it was a
subject on which he could claim special knowledge. But which of the two
was it? For some time I hesitated, and then I wrote the following
letter:

"Dear Dr. Gunther: Before giving your valuable paper a second and more
thorough reading, I must bring up a question which suggests itself even
after the most cursory examination. It is this: Will your article go
well with illustrations, and if so where are they to be had? You know
that ours is a picture supplement, appealing to a general audience, and
there is every chance for inserting illustrations into an article of
scientific nature abounding in such close-knit argument as you present.
Of course there is not the least reason for haste in the matter. A reply
from you within the next four weeks will be in time."

Next morning I found a telegram from Boston on my desk. It said:
"Naturally no objection to pictures. Suggest you reproduce some of the
illustrations from Langley's masterly work on the subject. Gunther."

My ruse had succeeded. I was prepared now to keep up a fairly active
correspondence until the missing paper was found. I knew of Samuel
Pierpont Langley, one of the greatest of American astronomers and a
pioneer of aviation. I turned to the encyclopædia to see which one of
Langley's books was likely to be the one Gunther had in mind. There,
before me, was a biographical sketch of John Newport Langley, an English
physiologist, who had published, among other things, a treatise "On the
Liver," and another "On the Salivary Glands." I recalled that at
Harding's house Gunther, after an elaborate discussion of the present
state of meteorology, had drifted into a spirited tirade against the
evils of ill-cooked and undigested food. It might very well be this
paper "On the Salivary Glands" that Gunther had in mind.

I delayed writing as long as I could while the office was being
ransacked for the missing article. It was a hopeless search. The
manuscript had evidently been swept away into the all-devouring waste
basket, another victim to mistaken ideals of efficiency. A few days
later came a long and friendly letter from Gunther. Without wishing to
flatter me, he said that he was quite as much interested in my opinion
of his article as in getting it published. He hoped to hear from me at
my very earliest convenience.

I waited nearly a week, and yielding to fate wrote as follows:

"Dear Dr. Gunther: The article is altogether admirable. It seems to me
that there are just two subjects which never lose their appeal to the
average man. One is the food by which he lives. The other is the
universe in which he lives. They represent the opposite poles in his
nature, one being no less important than the other. Let the primitive
man but satisfy the cravings of his stomach, and his awed gaze will turn
to the illimitable glory of the stars. I think of Pasteur's epoch-making
researches into the processes of food-fermentation and then I think of
Galileo. If you ask me which is the greater man, I will say frankly I do
not know. Your article will duly appear in our magazine, though not for
some time. In the meanwhile, it may be that additions or changes will
suggest themselves to you. Very likely you have a carbon copy of your
manuscript at home. Make such alterations as you see fit and send the
new manuscript to us as soon as you are satisfied with it."

The foregoing letter was addressed to Dr. Gunther in Boston. Two days
later he wrote from his home address in New York. He said: "I cannot
speak adequately of the consideration you have given to my poor literary
effort. Your letter offering me an opportunity to revise the manuscript
reached me just before I left for New York. At home I found the original
article awaiting me, in my own envelope. Evidently it had occurred to
you that I might not have a copy of the article at hand--which is indeed
the case--and so you hastened to send me the original."

Of course the envelope containing the good Doctor's manuscript had not
fallen into the hands of the janitor at all. It had caught the quick eye
of our conscientious mail-boy, who saw his duty and promptly did it. It
only remains for me to persuade the managing editor to print the article
when it comes back. After what I have gone through, this should not be
difficult. Our readers, therefore, may look forward to a masterly
article on a subject of great interest. Whether it is an astronomical
article or a pure food article the reader will learn for himself.



X

LOW-GRADE CITIZENS


Cooper was in a confidential mood.

"Isn't it true," he said, "that once so often every one of us feels
impelled to go out and assassinate a college professor?"

"Why shouldn't one?" said Harding. "No one would miss a professor
except, possibly, his wife and the children."

"That's just it, his children," said Cooper. "That's what makes a man
hesitate. The particular college professor I have in mind recently
published an article on Social Decadence in the _North American Review_.
He deplored the tendency among our well-to-do classes toward small
families. At the same time he deplored the mistaken zeal of our
low-income classes in trying to more than make up for the negligence of
their betters. He said, 'The American population may, therefore, be
increasing most rapidly from that group least fitted by heredity or by
income to develop social worth in their offspring. Such a process of
"reversed selection" must mean, for the nation, a constant decrease in
the social worth of each succeeding generation.' He brought forward a
good many figures, but I have been so angry that I am quite unable to
recall what they are."

"In that case," Harding said, "you should lose no time in seeking out
the man and slaying him before his side of the case comes back to you."

"People," said Cooper, with that happy gift of his for dropping a
subject to suit his own convenience, "have fallen into the habit of
saying that the art of letter-writing is extinct. They say we don't
write the way Madame de Sévigné did or Charles Lamb. This is not true.

"For instance, on April 26, 1913, Charles Crawl, a low-income American
residing in the soft-coal districts of western Pennsylvania, wrote a
letter which I have not been able to get out of my mind. With that
unhappy predilection for getting into tight places which is one of the
characteristics of our improvident, low-income classes, Charles Crawl
happened to be in one of the lower workings of the Cincinnati mine when
an explosion of gas--unavoidable, as in all mine disasters--killed
nearly a hundred operatives. Charles Crawl escaped injury, but after
creeping through the dark for two days he felt his strength going from
him, and so, with a piece of chalk, on his smudgy overalls, he wrote the
following letter:

"'Good-bye, my children, God bless you.'

"He had two children, which for a man of low social worth was doing
quite well. But on the other hand he was improvident enough to leave his
children without a mother. When I was at college, my instructor in
rhetoric was always saying that my failure to write well was due to the
fact that I had nothing to say; and he used to quote passages from
Isaiah to show how the thing should be done. I think my rhetoric teacher
would have approved of Charles Crawl's epistolary style. I think Isaiah
would have."

"But we can't all of us work in the mines," I said.

"Therefore it is not to you that America is looking for the development
of an epistolary art," said Cooper; "an art in which we are bound to
take first place long before our coal deposits are exhausted. Charles
Crawl had his predecessors. In November, 1909, Samuel Howard was
thoughtless enough to let himself be killed, with several hundred
others, in the St. Paul's mine at Cherry, Illinois. He, too, left a
letter behind him. He wrote:

      "If I am dead, give my diamond ring to Mamie Robinson. The ring is
      at the post-office. I had it sent there. The only thing I regret
      is my brother that could help mother out after I am dead and gone.
      I tried my best to get out and could not.

"You see, being a low-income man, of small social worth and pitifully
inefficient, even when he did his best to get out, he could not. But
perhaps the subject tires you?"

"You might as well go on," said Harding. "If you finish with this
subject you will have some other grievance."

"I have only two more examples of the vulgar epistolary style to cite,"
said Cooper. "Strictly speaking one of them is not a letter. But it is
to the point. On the night of April 14, 1912, an Irishman named Dillon
of low social value, in fact a stoker, happened to be swimming in the
North Atlantic. The _Titanic_ had just sunk from beneath his feet. But
perhaps I had better quote the testimony before the Mersey Commission,
which, being an official communication, is necessarily unanswerable, as
the late Sir W. S. Gilbert pointed out:

      "Then he [Dillon] swam away from the noise and came across Johnny
      Bannon on a grating--

"From the fact that Johnny Bannon had managed to possess himself of a
grating we are justified in concluding that he was a man of somewhat
higher social worth than the witness, Dillon. However,

      "--came across Johnny Bannon on a grating. He said, "Cheero,
      Johnny," and Bannon answered, "I am all right, Paddy." There was
      not room on the grating for two, and Dillon, saying, "Well, so
      long, Johnny," swam off--

In thus leaving Johnny Bannon in undisputed possession of the grating
you see that Dillon once more wrote himself down as a low-grade man
unfit for competitive survival. However,

      --"Well, so long, Johnny," swam off in the direction of a star
      where Johnny Bannon had seen a flashlight.

And as it turned out, it was, indeed, a flashlight, and Dillon was
pulled out of the water to go on stoking and accelerating the process of
national decadence.

"My last letter," continued Cooper, "was written in October, 1912, in
the Tombs. The author was one Frank Cirofici, known to the patrons of
educational moving-picture shows all over the country as Dago Frank. It
was addressed to one Big Jack Zelig, a distinguished ornament of our
Great White Way, cut down before his time by a bullet from behind.
Cirofici wrote:

      "I know the night I heard Jip and Lefty were arrested I cried like
      a little baby.--Dear pal, I have more faith in you than in any
      living being in this country. I tell you the truth right from my
      heart. I don't know you long, Jack, and I think if it wasn't for
      you, I don't know what would happen to me. Being I am a Dago, of
      course, you don't know what I know."

"Please," said Harding, "please don't knock a hole into your own
argument by asking us to shed tears over the undefiled wells of purity
that lie deep in the soul of the Bowery gunman. You won't contend that
Dago Frank, when he leaves us, will be a loss to the nation."

"It would be an act of delusion on my part," said Cooper, "to expect you
to see what I am driving at without going to the trouble of spelling it
out for you, Harding, even if you do belong to the classes of superior
social worth. What I want to express is the justifiable wrath which
possesses me at this silly habit of taking a pile of figures and adding
them up and dividing by three and deducing therefrom scarlet visions of
Decadence and the fall of Rome and Trafalgar, and all that rot. What if
empires, and republics, and incomes, and the size of families do rise
and fall? Does the soul of man decay? Do the primitive loyalties decay?
As long as we have men like Charles Crawl and Samuel Howard, do you
think I care whether or not Harvard graduates neglect to reproduce their
kind? The soul of man, as embodied in Dillon with his 'So long, Johnny,'
is as sound to-day as it was ten thousand years ago, before the human
race entered on its decline by putting on clothes. And Cirofici, pouring
his soul out to his 'pal,' crying like a child over those poor lambs,
Lefty Lewis and Gyp the Blood--"

"If that's what you mean," said Harding with suspicious humility, "I
quite agree with you. You know, I have often--"

"Once you agree with me," said Cooper, "I don't see why it is necessary
for you to continue."



XI

ROMANCE


At 5:15 in the afternoon of an exceptionally sultry day in August, John
P. Wesley, forty-seven years old, in business at No. 634 East
Twenty-sixth Street as a jobber in tools and hardware, was descending
the stairs to the downtown platform of the Subway at Twenty-eighth
Street, when it occurred to him suddenly how odd it was that he should
be going home. His grip tightened on the hand rail and he stopped short
in his tracks, his eyes fixed on the ground in pained perplexity. The
crowd behind him, thrown back upon itself by this abrupt action, halted
only for a moment and flowed on. Cheerful office-boys looked back at him
and asked what was the answer. Stout citizens elbowed him aside without
apology. But Wesley did not mind. He was asking himself why it was that
the end of the day's work should invariably find him descending the
stairs to the downtown platform of the Subway. Was there any reason for
doing that, other than habit? He wondered why it would not be just as
reasonable to cross the avenue and take an uptown train instead.

Wesley had been taking the downtown train at Twenty-eighth Street at
5:15 in the afternoon ever since there was a Subway. At Brooklyn Bridge
he changed to an express and went to the end of the line. At the end of
the line there was a boat which took him across the harbour. At the end
of the boat ride there was a trolley car which wound its way up the hill
and through streets lined with yellow-bricked, easy-payment, two-family
houses, out into the open country, where it dropped him at a cross road.
At the end of a ten minutes' walk there was a new house of stucco and
timber, standing away from the road, its angular lines revealing mingled
aspirations toward the Californian bungalow and the English Tudor. In
the house lived a tall, slender, grey-haired woman who was Wesley's
wife, and two young girls who were his daughters. They always came to
the door when his footsteps grated on the garden path, and kissed him
welcome. After dinner he went out and watered the lawn, which, after his
wife and the girls, he loved most. He plied the hose deliberately, his
eye alert for bald patches. Of late the lawn had not been coming on
well, because of a scorching sun and the lack of rain. A quiet chat with
his wife on matters of domestic economy ushered in the end of a busy
day. At the end of the day there was another day just like it.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, motionless in the crowd, Wesley was asking whether right to the
end of life this succession of days would continue. Why always the
south-bound train? He was aware that there were good reasons why. One
was the tall grey-haired woman and the two young girls at home who were
in the habit of waiting for the sound of his footsteps on the garden
path. They were his life. But apparently, too, there must be life along
the uptown route of the Interborough. He wanted to run amuck, to board a
north-bound train without any destination in mind, and to keep on as far
as his heart desired, to the very end perhaps, to Van Cortlandt Park,
where they played polo, or the Bronx, where there was a botanical museum
and a zoo. Even if he went only as far as Grand Central Station, it
would be an act of magnificent daring.

Wesley climbed to the street, crossed Fourth Avenue, descended to the
uptown platform, and entered a train without stopping to see whether it
was Broadway or Lenox Avenue. Already he was thinking of the three women
at home in a remote, objective mood. They would be waiting for him, no
doubt, and he was sorry, but what else could he do? He was not his own
master. Under the circumstances it was a comfort to know that all three
of them were women of poise, not given to making the worst of things,
and with enough work on their hands to keep them from worrying
overmuch.

Having broken the great habit of his life by taking an uptown train at
5:15, Wesley found it quite natural that his minor habits should fall
from him automatically. He did not relax into his seat and lose himself
in the evening paper after his usual fashion. He did not look at his
paper at all, but at the people about him. He had never seen such men
and women before, so fresh-tinted, so outstanding, so electric. He
seemed to have opened his eyes on a mass of vivid colours and sharp
contours. It was the same sensation he experienced when he used to break
his gold-rimmed spectacles, and after he had groped for a day in the
mists of myopia, a new, bright world would leap out at him through the
new lenses.

Wesley did not make friends easily. In a crowd he was peculiarly shy.
Now he grew garrulous. At first his innate timidity rose up and choked
him, but he fought it down. He turned to his neighbour on the right, a
thick-set, clean-shaven youth who was painfully studying the comic
pictures in his evening newspaper, and remarked, in a style utterly
strange to him:

"Looks very much like the Giants had the rag cinched?"

The thick-set young man, whom Wesley imagined to be a butcher's
assistant or something of the sort, looked up from his paper and said,
"It certainly does seem as if the New York team had established its
title to the championship."

Wesley cleared his throat again.

"When it comes to slugging the ball you've got to hand it to them," he
said.

"Assuredly," said the young man, folding up his paper with the evident
design of continuing the conversation.

Wesley was pleased and frightened. He had tasted another new sensation.
He had broken through the frosty reserve of twenty years and had spoken
to a stranger after the free and easy manner of men who make friends in
Pullman cars and at lunch counters. And the stranger, instead of
repulsing him, had admitted him, at the very first attempt, into the
fraternity of ordinary people. It was pleasant to be one of the great
democracy of the crowd, something which Wesley had never had time to be.
But on the other hand, he found the strain of conversation telling upon
him. He did not know how to go on.

The stranger went out, but Wesley did not care. He was lost in a
delicious reverie, conscious only of being carried forward on
free-beating wings into a wonderful, unknown land. The grinding of
wheels and brakes as the train halted at a station and pulled out again
made a languorous, soothing music. The train clattered out of the tunnel
into the open air, and Wesley was but dimly aware of the change from
dark to twilight. The way now ran through a region of vague apartment
houses. There were trees, stretches of green field waiting for the
builder, and here or there a colonial manor house with sheltered
windows, resigned to its fate. Then came cottages with gardens. And in
one of these Wesley, shocked into acute consciousness, saw a man with a
rubber hose watering a lawn. Wesley leaped to his feet.

The train was at a standstill when he awoke to the extraordinary fact
that he was twelve miles away from South Ferry, and going in the wrong
direction. The imperative need of getting home as soon as he could
overwhelmed him. He dashed for the door, but it slid shut in his face
and the train pulled out. His fellow passengers grinned. One of the most
amusing things in the world is a tardy passenger who tries to fling
himself through a car door and flattens his nose against the glass. It
is hard to say why the thing is amusing, but it is. Wesley did not know
that he was being laughed at. He merely knew that he must go home. He
got out at the next station, and when he was seated in a corner of the
south-bound train, he sighed with unutterable relief. He was once more
in a normal world where trains ran to South Ferry instead of away from
it. He dropped off at his road crossing, just two hours late, and found
his wife waiting.

They walked on side by side without speaking, but once or twice she
turned and caught him staring at her with a peculiar mixture of wonder
and unaccustomed tenderness.

Finally he broke out.

"It's good to see you again!"

She laughed and was happy. His voice stirred in her memories of long
ago.

"It's good to have you back, dear," she said.

"But you really look remarkably well," he insisted.

"I rested this afternoon."

"That's what you should do every day," he said. "Look at that old maple
tree! It hasn't changed a bit!"

"No," she said, and began to wonder.

"And the girls are well?"

"Oh, yes."

"I can hardly wait till I see them," he said; and then, to save
himself, "I guess I am getting old, Alice."

"You are younger to-night than you have been for a long time," she said.

Jennie and her sister were waiting for them on the porch. They wondered
why father's kiss fell so warmly on their cheeks. He kissed them twice,
which was very unusual; but being discreet young women they asked no
questions. After dinner Wesley went out to look at the lawn.



XII

WANDERLUST


April sunlight on the river and the liners putting out to sea. Paris!
Florence! the Alps! the Mediterranean! I turned away and let my thoughts
run back to the time when Emmeline and I were in the habit of making,
once a year, the trip to Prospect Park South.

The Subway has brought this delightful region within the radius of
ordinary tourist travel, though I am told that the element of adventure
has not been completely eliminated, owing to the necessity of
transferring at Atlantic Avenue, where it is still the custom of the
traffic policemen to direct passengers to the wrong car. At the time of
which I am speaking, Prospect Park South lay off the beaten track, but
the difficulties of the venture were atoned for by the delight of
finding one's self, at the journey's end, in a world of new impressions,
a world untouched by the rush and clamour of our own days, and steeped
in the colour and poetry which Cook's, cotton goods, and the
cinematograph have been wiping out in Europe and the Near East.

There were no Baedekers then for travellers to Prospect Park South.
To-day I presume guide-books and maps may be purchased at the Manhattan
end of the Brooklyn Bridge if people still go by that route. We did
without guide-books or guides, because the inhabitants of Prospect Park
South were a kindly folk and as a rule would wait for visitors at the
trolley stops, with an umbrella. When this did not happen, we asked our
way from passers-by. These were always strangers who had lost their way.
The inhabitants were either peacefully at home or waiting at the trolley
stops. For that matter an inhabitant, when encountered by rare chance,
was not really of assistance. A resident always referred to streets and
avenues by the names they bore when he first moved in; and inasmuch as
the streets in Prospect Park South are renamed every year and the
street numbers altered at the same time, the settlers, who would find
their own homes by intuition, were worse than useless as guides. On the
other hand, to meet a stranger who was lost was always a help. It was a
peculiarity of strangers who were lost in Prospect Park South that they
would always be passing the street you were looking for, while you in
turn had just turned in from the street they were looking for, so that
an exchange of information was always mutually profitable.

The following hints for travellers to Prospect Park South are based upon
our experiences of some years ago. Those who go by the Interborough tube
will probably find that changed conditions have rendered many of these
rules obsolete. But for those who go by way of Brooklyn Bridge they may
still be of some value. First then as to dress. As a rule one should
dress for Prospect Park South very much as for a short run to Europe.
That is to say, woollens are always preferable, especially in the rainy
season (which in Prospect Park South is coextensive with the visiting
season), owing to the long waits between cars. It is true, as I have
said, that the inhabitants of Prospect Park South are accustomed to wait
at the trolley stations with an umbrella, and no household is without a
full assortment of old mackintoshes and rubbers to lend to improvident
visitors who believed the weather reports in the paper. But house
parties in Prospect Park South are frequently large and there may not be
enough old raincoats to go around. A light overcoat, an umbrella,
rubbers or a pair of stout shoes, and a pocket electric light for
reading names on the street lamps at night, will be found sufficient for
the ordinary traveller.

The choice of route is important. Those who, like us, live in upper
Manhattan may lay their plans (excluding the Subway) either for the
Ninth Avenue L or the Sixth Avenue L. As far south as Fifty-third Street
the two lines coincide. Below Fifty-third Street the question of route
should be determined by one's personal preferences in the matter of
scenery; though not entirely. Veteran travellers assure me that there is
also a difference in comfort. The curves are sharper on Sixth Avenue,
but there are more flat wheels on the Ninth Avenue line. According as
the tourist is susceptible to lateral or vertical disturbances he will
make his choice. The front and rear cars are to be recommended above all
others because a seat may always be obtained. I recognise, however, that
if the traveller has long been a resident of New York he will force his
way into the middle cars. Then, hanging from a strap, he may curse the
company and be in turn cursed by the quick-tempered gentleman upon whose
feet he is standing.

A phrase-book is not necessary. The English language is used on both the
Sixth and Ninth Avenue lines, and being equally incomprehensible, cannot
be looked up in a dictionary. Only legal currency of the United States
is accepted at the ticket-offices, but change is frequently given in
Canadian dimes. It is convenient, but not essential, to supply one's
self with reading matter at the beginning of the trip. Newspapers are
always to be had for the picking on the floor of the cars. The question
of fresh air, a topic of constant unpleasant controversy between
American travellers and Europeans on the Continent, need not concern the
traveller here. The matter is regulated by the company management which
keeps the windows closed in summer and open in winter. Passengers of an
independent turn of mind will be wary of opening windows on their own
account. The sudden entrance of air following upon the heavy
perspiration induced by the effort has been known to lead to pneumonia.

With these few general considerations in mind, we may proceed to give a
rapid sketch of the route the tourist traverses. As we have said, down
to Fifty-third Street the passenger on the Sixth Avenue and on the Ninth
Avenue will pass through the same landscape. As the train makes the
magnificent curve through One Hundred and Tenth Street he will have
before him on the right the towering mass of the Cathedral of St. John,
which a kindly neighbour will tell him is Columbia University, and on
the left the lovely, wooded heights of Central Park, their base skirted
by a low line of garages and French dyeing establishments. At
Ninety-eighth Street, on the right, is a water tower of red brick, which
probably has the distinction of being the tallest water tower on
Ninety-eighth Street. At Seventy-seventh Street to the left is the
Museum of Natural History, which the same kindly informant to whom we
have referred will describe as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On every
cross street to the right one may catch a glimpse of the beautiful
Riverside Drive with the smoke from the New York Central's freight
engines rising above the trees.

At Fifty-third Street the Sixth Avenue trains diverge to the left for a
short distance and then, turning south once more, carry the traveller
through a region heavily overgrown with skeleton advertising signs of
woman's apparel and table waters. If the Ninth Avenue route is selected
the vista is one of tenement houses and factories. At Thirty-third
Street is the new Pennsylvania Station, the cost of which the same
kindly neighbour will exaggerate by several hundred millions of dollars.

Ten blocks further down are the buildings of the General Theological
Seminary, so beautiful in line and colour that no resident of New York
ever alludes to them. A few minutes further down the train rounds a
curve and the traveller, if he goes in the early morning, as every
visitor to Prospect Park South must, catches a glimpse of the fairy land
of steeples and battlements of lower New York, a Camelot wreathed with
wisps of steam. For the lover of scenery the Ninth Avenue is to be
unhesitatingly recommended, whereas the Sixth Avenue route will give
pleasure to the citizen who takes pride in the development of our
garment industries.

I have no space to describe the interesting views to be had while
crossing Brooklyn Bridge. I can only mention the harbour with the
sunlight upon it, a spectacle of loveliness for which New York will be
forgiven much. Straight under the span of the bridge is the pier from
which Colonel Roosevelt set sail for South America. On the left, close
to the edge of the river, is the beetling mass of sugar refineries
famous the world over as the scene of an epoch-making experiment in
modifying the law of gravitation, when the sugar company succeeded in
weighing in three thousand pounds of sugar to the ton and paying duty on
the smaller amount to the United States Government.

Of the trip through Brooklyn to Prospect Park South I will not attempt
to give any description. For that matter I will not pretend that on any
of our journeys I have carried away a definite idea of Brooklyn. For
that a lifetime is necessary.



XIII

UNREVISED SCHEDULES


Life's ironies beset us whichever way we turn. The very day that Woodrow
Wilson signed the tariff bill, I discovered that Emmeline is a
Protectionist.

Thrice in the course of the evening I alluded, with pretended calm, to
the signing of the bill, without awakening the least response in
Emmeline. The tariff apparently had no meaning to her. Thereupon I
reproached her openly.

"It is characteristic of your sex," I said, "not to betray the slightest
interest in a matter that comes so intimately home to you. Here is a
bill which is bound to affect the problem of high prices. Every woman
who carries a market basket, every woman who shops, every woman who has
the management of a household on her hands, is directly concerned in the
question of lower tariff duties. Yet I dare say you haven't read two
lines on the subject in your newspaper."

"What have we been paying duties on?" she said.

"On everything," I replied with spirit. "Anchors, for instance. We have
been paying one cent a pound on them. That means twenty dollars a ton.
You know what the average anchor weighs, so you can figure out for
yourself what we have been paying out all these years for this commodity
alone. We have been paying 85 per cent. on bunion plasters, 10 per cent.
on animals' claws, and 85 per cent. on teazels."

"But we hardly ever use any of these things," she said.

"I was simply illustrating the iniquitous extremes to which our tariff
advocates were prepared to go," I said. "It may seem natural to put a
duty on beef, and shoes, and cotton goods. But the tariff barons were
not content. Insatiable greed demanded that a tax be put on teazels."

"What is a teazel?" she said.

"I am not sure that I know," I replied. "But that just illustrates one
of the favourite methods of the tariff plunderers. It consisted in
slapping a stiff duty on articles people did not know the meaning of and
so would pay without protest. I say teazels, but, of course, I mean
meat, and sugar, and cotton, and woollen goods, all of which things will
soon be within the reach of all. I should imagine that women would be
grateful for what has been done to make the living problem so much
easier."

"Under the new tariff bill," she said, "will there still be only
twenty-four hours to the day?"

"The new tariff doesn't repeal the laws of astronomy," I replied.

"That is what I was thinking when you spoke of the living problem being
made easier for us," she said. "Putting twelve more hours into the day
would be a help. Did the old tariff have a big duty on hanging up
pictures?"

"I don't know what you are driving at," I said, but in my heart I
thought I knew.

"I mean," she said, "around moving time. I have always thought there
must be a very heavy tax on every picture that a man hangs up; or
rugs--"

I decided that frivolity was the best way out of a situation that had
suddenly become menacing. "Usually we don't hang up rugs," I said.

"That may be an oversight on our part," she replied. "Perhaps, if we
hung up rugs and put pictures on the floor it might appeal to your
passion for romance. You might even find it exhilarating."

The idea seemed to fascinate her.

"There are a great many things," she went on, "that I should like to see
on the free list. Seats in the Subway, for instance. I stood up all the
way from Twenty-third Street this afternoon, but I suppose the duty on a
man's giving up his seat to a woman is prohibitive. Then there's Mrs.
Flanagan who comes in by the day. She has a baby who is teething and
cries all night. I wish there was a lower duty on babies' teeth, so that
they came easier; and on sleep for mothers who have to go out by the
day. I also wish there was a lower duty on the whisky that her husband
consumes. She could possibly afford to stay at home more than she does."

"He'd only drink himself to death," I said.

But she was not paying attention. "There might be a lower duty on
efficient domestic help. It would be a relief."

"Foreign household help are not under the tariff law at all," I said.
"They come in free."

"That's what the girl said yesterday when she decided to quit, an hour
before dinner. And from the way she spoke to me I imagine that her
language also came in free. The more I think of it the fewer advantages
I can see for us women under your new tariff bill." And then the bitter
truth came out. "I think that on the whole I am in favour of a high
tariff on most things."

"You are in favour of Protection," I stammered, hardly believing my
senses.

"I am in favour of protecting domestic industry," said Emmeline, and I
saw that she had been reading the newspapers more carefully than I
imagined.

The protective system which Emmeline outlined to me that evening would
have made Senator Penrose sob for joy. One of the first things she
demanded was a heavy duty on tobacco. She said she would be satisfied
with a flat rate of 100 per cent. on the nasty article, with a super tax
of 100 per cent. on all half-smoked cigars left lying around the house,
and another 100 per cent. on cigar ashes and half-burnt matches.
Alcoholic spirits should be totally excluded. She wanted a pretty heavy
duty on raincoats left lying on chairs when they should be hung up on
the proper hook. She was also in favour of a prohibitive tax on all
arguments tending to prove that woman's natural sphere is the home.
Lodge dues, club dues, and the practice of reading newspapers at the
breakfast table should be heavily taxed. There were a great many other
schedules she proposed, carrying a minimum duty of seventy-five per
cent. I cannot pretend to remember all, but my impression is that plays
dealing with the social evil and eugenics were among them.

By this time it will be apparent that Emmeline's views on tariff
legislation were somewhat confused. She evidently made no distinction
between import duties, internal revenue taxes, and the police power of
the State. Before continuing our discussion I therefore insisted that we
restrict debate to the specific question of import duties and the cost
of living. The simple fact was that we had now changed from a
high-tariff nation to a low-tariff nation. How would this affect
ourselves and our neighbours?

Thereupon I was subjected to a severe examination as to tariffs and
prices in other countries. My answers were, in a general fashion,
correct, though possibly I may have confused the British tariff system
with that of Germany.

"From your statements, so far as I can make head or tail out of them,"
said Emmeline, "I gather that in protection countries the cost of food
and clothing and rent is always just a little ahead of wages and
salaries."

"You have followed me perfectly," I said.

"Whereas in low-tariff countries people's wages and salaries are always
just a little behind the cost of food, clothing, and shelter.

"That is due to quite a different set of causes," I said.

"I imagined," she said, "that the causes must be other than those you
mentioned. But the fact remains that the choice which confronts most of
us is between having a little less than we need, or needing a little
more than we have. If that is so, it seems to me rather a waste of time
to spend--did you say seventy-five years?--in revising the tariff. I
prefer my own kind of tariff."

"And the cost of living?" I said.

"My kind of tariff gets much nearer to solving that problem," she said.

"But then, why Mrs. Pankhurst?" I said. "If the making of laws has
nothing to do with the comfort of life, why do you want to vote?"

"Because we want to assert our equality by sharing your illusions.
Besides, we can use the vote to bring about a state of things when
voting won't be necessary."

On further thought, Emmeline is not a Protectionist; she is an
Anarchist.



XIV

SOMEWHAT CONFUSED


He said:

"Last night my wife took me to a lecture on Eugenics and the Future. The
night before, we went to a lecture on the Social Implications of the
Tango. I enjoyed them both immensely. Of course, after a long day in the
office, I am rather tired in the evening. If I dozed off on either
occasion it must have been just for a moment. I followed the arguments
perfectly."

"Are you converted?" I said.

He pushed his derby further back on his head.

"Quite. I am not a mule. I know a good argument when I see one. Now,
isn't it true, as the speaker contended last night, that the human
animal, taking him by and large, is not a beautiful object? When he
isn't bow-legged, he is knock-kneed. There are too many men prematurely
bald. There are too many women prematurely wrinkled--and fat. We are
nothing but a shambling, stoop-shouldered race, in a permanent state of
ill-health. In summer we get sun-struck. In winter we get colds in the
head. Look at the ancient Greeks. Is there any reason why we cannot
produce a race as healthy, as beautiful, as graceful in the free play of
muscle and limb? An erect, supple, free-stepping race, breathing deeply
of life, looking the world full in the face, daring everything, afraid
of nothing. Our bodies are divine, as much so as our souls. To go on
being a race of physical degenerates, a snuffling, wheezing, perspiring
race that is always running to the doctor, is mortal sin; especially
when the remedy is close at hand."

"You mean eugenics?" I said.

"No," he said, "I refer to the tango. The speaker last night--or was it
the night before?--was absolutely convincing on the point. I am sure you
will agree."

To make sure that I would agree he interrupted me just as I opened my
mouth to frame an objection. He continued rapidly:

"Take this matter of old age. There's no reason why people should let
themselves grow old, is there now? And a properly constituted race would
see to it that old age was postponed indefinitely. After all, when a man
says he is eighty years old or ninety years old, it is only a figure of
speech. Look at Napoleon winning the battle of Leipzig when he was
seventy-eight years old."

"I never heard that before," I said. "I thought Napoleon lost the battle
of Leipzig, and when he died--"

"It may have been Hannibal," he said. "At that point I may possibly have
dozed off. But the principle of the thing is the same. Only a race of
weaklings will succumb to the ravages of time without making a fight for
it. There is really nothing beautiful in old age. You sit out the long
winter nights by the fire. Your eyes are too weak for the fine print in
the evening paper, and when you ask your son to tell you about the new
Currency Law he grows cross and scolds the baby. When you stop to buy a
ticket in the Subway, people grow impatient and murmur something about
an old ladies' home. It's all as plain as daylight. There is no reason
why people, as soon as they get to be sixty, should reconcile themselves
to the idea of debility, warm gruel, and chest protectors, when they
might go on being young, alert, graceful, full of the joy of life, if
they would only recognise the way of going about it."

"You mean the tango?" I said.

"No," he said. "I was alluding to eugenics."

He spoke with assurance, but from the corner of his eye he threw me a
wistful, fugitive glance, as if to make sure from my bearing that this
was really what he meant. I did not contradict him. I was thinking of
his wife. For the first time in my experience my sympathies were with
the tired business man. It is good for the tired business man that his
wife shall be alive to the things that count; but two nights in
succession is rather hard. His wife, I knew, was alive to every phase of
our intense modern existence, and in rapid succession. She did not
precisely burn with that hard, gemlike flame which Mr. Pater
recommended. Sometimes I thought she burned with a sixty-four-candle
power carbon glow. It was a bit trying on the eyes.

"Or take the question of sex," he said. "What is there in sex emotion to
be ashamed of? It is the most primordial of feelings. It comes before
the law of gravitation, as the speaker showed last night."

"Does it though?" I said.

"Well," he said, "perhaps it was the night before last. Around this
universal urge, of which we ought to be proud, as the most powerful
force in Evolution (the speaker last night was sure there could be no
doubt on the subject), we have built up an elaborate structure of
reticence and hypocrisy. All art, all literature, is of significance
only as it emphasises sex. If the Bible has impressed itself on the
imagination of humanity for two thousand years, it is because it
contains the most beautiful love songs in all literature. It is the
force which drives the sun in its course, as the Italian poet has said.
It has been the inspiration of all great deeds. If we searched deeply
enough, we should find that sex was the inspiration behind the discovery
of America, the invention of printing, and the building of the Roman
aqueducts. Only the most benighted ignorance will permit our prudish
sentiments on the subject to stand in the way of a movement which is
sweeping the world like wildfire."

"Referring to eugenics?" I said.

"No," he said, "I mean the tango."

He looked out of the window and pondered.

"Yes," he said, "that was night before last. What the speaker dwelt upon
last night was the subject of democracy. At present we know nothing of
true democracy, of true equality. Society is divided into classes with
separate codes of morals and standards of conduct. There are rich and
poor; workers and idlers; meat eaters and vegetarians; the old and the
young; the literate, the illiterate, and the advocates of simplified
spelling. It isn't a world at all; it is chaos. In the end it all
resolves itself into this: humanity is divided into the strong and the
weak. The surest way to do away with inequality is to produce a race in
which every member is strong."

"You mean--" I said.

"Pardon me," he said. "I haven't finished. Let me sum up the speaker's
concluding sentence as I recall it. As we look around us to-day there is
unmistakably one force which works for the elimination of that
inequality which is the source of all our troubles; a force which wipes
out all distinction of class, of age, and of education, and produces a
world in which everybody is engaged in doing the same thing as everybody
else."

"Oh, I see," I said. "You are now speaking of the tango."

"Not at all," he said, "I am referring to eugenics. But perhaps you do
not agree with me?"

I hesitated. He was watching me eagerly, pushing his derby back until it
stood upright on its tail like a trained seal.

"I have done my best to agree with you," I said, "but you have made it
rather difficult for me. Nevertheless I do agree with you. What I am
thinking of now is something which the speaker last night omitted to
mention--or was it the night before last? And it is this. Under the
conditions which you describe, how beautifully complex the art of
thinking will become. At present we can hardly be said to think at all.
We are cowards. We crawl along from one truth to another. We timidly
look back to our premises before jumping at the conclusion. We are
horrified by inconsistencies. We are enslaved by facts--facts of nature,
facts of human nature, facts of experience. How different it will all be
when we can sidestep facts, when we can dip over inconsistencies, when
we can hug boldly an apparent contradiction and make it our own; when
thinking, in short, will not be a timid regulated process, but a
succession of dips, twists, gallops, slides, bends, hurdles, sprints,
and pole vaults."

"You are thinking of the tango?" he said.

"No," I replied. "I had eugenics in mind."



XV

HAROLD'S SOUL, II


You, mothers and fathers [said this particular advertising folder which
I found in my morning's mail], do you know what goes on in the soul of
your child?

I, for one, know very little of what goes on inside of Harold. My
information on the subject would hardly furnish material for a single
university extension lecture on child psychology. It is an imperfect,
unsystematised knowledge based on accidental glimpses into Harold's
soul, odd flashes of self-revelation, and occasional questions the boy
will put to me. I don't know whether Harold is more reticent than the
average boy in the second elementary grade, but in his case it does no
good to cross-examine. He grows confused, suspicious, and afraid. He
resents the intrusion of my rough fingers into his sensitive world of
ideas. So I do not insist on detailed accounts of how the boy passes
his time in class or at play; for what are time and space and
grammatical sequence to the child? I am content to wait, and now and
then I make discoveries.

Harold and I were discussing one day the rather important question,
raised by himself, from what height a man must fall down in order to be
killed. It began, I think, with umbrellas and how they behave in a high
wind. From that we passed on to parachutes and balloons and the loftier
mountain tops. We dwelt for some time upon the difficulties and dangers
of mountaineering.

"Once there was a man," said Harold, "who used to drive six mules up a
mountain."

"Six mules," I said. "How do you know?"

"A bishop told me," he said.

The sense of utter helplessness before the closed temple of Harold's
private life oppressed me. Let alone his soul, I found that I did not
even know how the boy was spending his time and who his associates
were. Fortunately, in this case it was a bishop; but it might have been
some one much worse.

And why had Harold never spoken of his friend the bishop until our talk
of parachutes and mountain climbing brought forth his perfectly
matter-of-fact statement? Was it indifference on Harold's part? Was it
studied reticence? I thought with a pang of self-accusation how I would
have behaved, after meeting a bishop; how I would have turned the
conversation at the dinner-table to the declining influence of the
Church; how I would have found a way of comparing the Woolworth Building
with ecclesiastical architecture; how I might have steered a course from
golf to bridge and from bridge to chess; always ending with a careless
allusion to what the bishop said when we met.

There was, as it turned out, a simple explanation for Harold's
statement. A notable conclave of bishops and laymen had been in session
for some days in our neighbourhood, and one of the visiting dignitaries
had addressed the school children at the opening exercises one morning.
I say the explanation is simple, though it is largely my own hypothesis
based on Harold's words as I have given them above; but I believe my
supposition to be true. With regard to the six mules up a steep mountain
I am not so sure; but probably it was a missionary bishop who
entertained the children with an account of his experiences in Montana
or British Columbia. What else the bishop told them Harold could not
say. He admitted, regretfully, that the bishop used long words.

But I am not at all certain that other bits of information from that
ecclesiastical speech have not lodged in Harold's memory, to be brought
forward on some utterly unexpected but quite appropriate occasion. In
the meanwhile I can only think that it must be a very fine sort of
bishop, indeed, who could find time for an audience of school children
and was not afraid to use long words in their presence. As I can
testify, the encounter thus brought about did Harold good; and I am
inclined to think that it did the bishop good.

We finally decided that no man could fall from a height over one hundred
and fifty feet and reasonably expect to live.

You, mothers and fathers [this advertising folder petulantly insists],
can you appease the wonder that looks out of the eyes of your child?

From Harold's eyes, I am inclined to think, no wondering soul looks out.
The world to him is quite as it should be. Everything fits into its
place. Harold does not think it strange that a bishop should address him
any more than he would think it strange to have the Kaiser walk into the
class-room and begin to do sums on the blackboard. Why should there be
anything to puzzle him? He has learned no rules of life and is,
therefore, in no position to be astonished by the exceptions of life. If
only you are unaware that two things cannot be in the same place at the
same time, or that the whole is greater than any of its parts, the world
becomes a very easy thing to explain. To Harold everything that is, is.
Everything that appears to be, is. Everything that he would like to be,
is; and nothing contradicts anything.

It is true that Harold asks questions. But I believe he asks questions
not because he wonders, but because he suspects that he is being
deprived of something that should be his. It is that partly and partly
it is the desire to make conversation. He insists on having his privacy
respected, but often he appears to be seized with an utter sense of
loneliness. All children experience this recurrent necessity of clinging
to some one, and they do so by putting questions the answers to which
frequently do not interest them or else are already known to them. To
postpone the bed-time hour a child will try to make conversation as
desperately as any fashionable hostess with an uncle from the country in
her drawing-room. Children rarely deceive themselves, but they are
expert at the game of hoodwinking and concealment. I think we find it
difficult to understand how passionately they desire to be let alone
whenever they do not need us.

And how desperately bent we are upon not letting them alone! The number
of ways in which I am constantly being urged to make myself a nuisance
to Harold is extraordinary. I am assailed by advertising folders, uplift
articles in the magazines, Sunday specials, Chautauqua lectures,
pedagogical reviews, and the voice of conscience in my own breast, to
inflict myself upon the boy, to win his confidence, make him my comrade,
guide his thoughts, shape his moral development, keep a diary of his
pregnant utterances, and in every other way that may occur to a fertile
mind bent on mischief, peer into him, pry into him, spy on him, spring
little psychological traps under him--a disgusting process of infant
vivisection which has no other excuse than our own vacant curiosity.
Provided Harold digests his food, sleeps well, does his lessons, and
abstains from unclean speech, it is no business of mine what Harold is
doing with his soul. I am thankful for what he consents to reveal at
odd moments. I guess at what I can guess and am content to wait.

And waiting, I have my reward--occasionally. Not until several weeks
after I had discovered that Harold had the entrée into ecclesiastical
circles did the subject come up again. The boy paused between two
spoonfuls of cereal and asked me whether a bishop would not find it
easier to go up a mountain in an aeroplane. I foolishly asked him what
he was driving at and he grew shy. I am afraid he now thinks bishops are
not proper.

But who shall say that the connection between high altitudes and the
episcopal dignity is not really an important one? Harold is apparently
occupied with the question and I shall take care not to disturb him.



XVI

RHETORIC 21

Every time I happen to turn to the Gettysburg Address I am saddened to
find that, after many years of practice, my own literary style is still
strikingly inferior to that of Lincoln at his best. The fact was first
brought home to me during my sophomore year.

(Incidentally I would remark that the opportunities for consulting the
Gettysburg Address occur frequently in a newspaper office. Every little
while, in the lull between editions, a difference of opinion will arise
as to what Lincoln said at Gettysburg. Some maintain that he said, "a
government of the people, for the people, by the people"; some declare
he said, "a government by the people, of the people, for the people";
some assert that he said, "a government by the people, for the people,
of the people." Obviously the only way out is to make a pool and look
up Nicolay and Hay. When we are not betting on Lincoln's famous phrase,
we differ as to whether the first words in Cæsar are "Gallia omnis est
divisa," or "Omnis Gallia est divisa," or "Omnis Gallia divisa est." We
all remember the "partes tres.")

In my sophomore year we used to write daily themes. We were then at the
beginning of the revolt from the stilted essay to the realistic form of
undergraduate style. Instead of writing about what we had read in De
Quincey or Matthew Arnold, we were asked to write about what we had seen
on the Elevated or on the campus. I presume this literary method has
triumphed in all the colleges, just as I know that the new school of
college oratory has quite displaced the old. Instead of arguing whether
Greece had done more for civilisation than Rome, sophomores now debate
the question, "Resolved, that the issue of 4-1/2 per cent. convertible
State bonds is unjustified by prevailing conditions in the European
money market." So with our daily themes. We did not write about
patriotism or Shakespeare's use of contrast. We wrote about football,
about the management of the lunch-room, about the need of more call-boys
in the library.

The underlying idea was sensible enough. But it was disheartening to
have a daily theme come back drenched in red ink to show where one's
prose rhythm had broken down or the relative pronouns had run too thick.
Our instructors were good men. They did not content themselves with
pointing out our sins against style; they would show us how much more
skilfully the English language could be used. When I wrote: "That the
new improvements that have been made in the new gymnasium that has just
been inaugurated are all that are necessary," my instructor would pick
up the Gettysburg Address and read out aloud: "But in a larger sense, we
cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground."
Sometimes he would pick up the Bible and read out aloud:

      For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have
      slept: then had I been at rest,

      With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate
      places for themselves.

Sometimes he would read from Keats's "Grecian Urn," or ask me, by
implication, why I could not frame a concrete image like "Look'd at each
other with a wild surmise, Silent upon a peak in Darien."

Even then I laboured under a sense of injustice. I could not help
thinking that the comparison would have been more fair if I had had a
chance to speak at Gettysburg and Abraham Lincoln had had to write about
the new gymnasium. I thought how the red ink would have splashed if I
had ended a sentence with a comma like Job, or had said "kings and
counsellors which." Are there still sophomores whom they drill in
writing about the prospects of the hockey team and to whom they read
"The Fall of the House of Usher," as an example of what can be done with
the English language? And do some of them do what some of us, in
desperation, used to do? We cheated. We worked ourselves up into
ecstasies of false emotion over the hockey team or pretended to see
things in Central Park which we never saw. I always think of Central
Park with bitterness. We were to write a description of what we saw as
we stood on the Belvedere looking north. I wrote a faithful catalogue of
what I saw, and the instructor picked up "Les Misérables" and read me
the story of the last charge over the sunken road at Waterloo. I should
have done what one of the other men did. He never went to Central Park.
He stayed at home and, looking straight north from the Belvedere, he saw
the sun setting in the west, and Mr. Carnegie's new mansion to the east,
and the towers of St. Patrick directly behind him. He saw it all so
vividly, so harmoniously, that they marked him A. I got C+. Is it any
wonder that I cannot even now read the Gettysburg Address without a
twinge of resentment?

And yet we were fortunate in one way. In those days they read the
Gettysburg Address to us as a model, and in spite of our resentment our
sophomore hearts caught the glory and the awe of it. But in those days
the art of text-book writing had not attained its present perfection,
and the Gettysburg Address had not yet been edited as a classic with
twenty pages of introduction and I don't know how many foot-notes. Am I
wrong in supposing that somewhere in the high schools or the colleges
this is what the young soul finds in the Gettysburg Address?:

      Fourscore and seven years[1] ago our fathers[2] brought forth on
      this continent[3] a new nation,[4] conceived in liberty, and
      dedicated to the proposition[5] that all men are created equal.[6]
      Now we are engaged in a great civil war,[7] testing whether that
      nation,[8] or any nation so conceived and so dedicated,[9] can
      long endure. We are met on a great battlefield[10] of that war.

NOTES

[1] I.e., eighty-seven years ago. The Gettysburg Address was delivered
Nov. 19, 1863. Lincoln is here referring to the Declaration of
Independence.

[2] Figuratively speaking. To take "fathers" in a literal sense would,
of course, involve a physiological absurdity.

[3] The western continent, embracing North and South America.

[4] "A new nation." This is tautological, since a nation just brought
forth would necessarily be new.

[5] "Proposition," in the sense in which Euclid employs the term and not
as one might say now, "a cloak and suit proposition."

[6] See the Declaration of Independence in Albert Bushnell Hart's
"American History Told by Contemporaries" (4 vols., Boston, 1898-1901).

[7] The war between the States, 1861-65.

[8] I.e., the United States.

[9] See Elliot's Debates in the several State Conventions on the
adoption of the Federal Constitution, etc. (5 vols., Washington,
1840-45).

[10] Gettysburg; a borough and the county seat of Adams Co.,
Pennsylvania, near the Maryland border, 85 miles southwest of
Harrisburg. Pop. in 1910, 4,030.



XVII

REAL PEOPLE


Among the most remarkable people I have never met is the family that had
just moved out of the apartment we were going to rent. My knowledge of
those strangers is based entirely on odd bits of information casually
furnished by the renting-agent in the course of a single interview. Yet
they are more actual and alive to me than many people with whom I have
lived in intimate communion for years. Is it our fate ever to meet? I
look forward to the event and dread it. I look forward with eagerness to
a new sensation, and I fear lest the reality fall short of the vivid
image I have built up with the help of the renting-agent.

In the matter of picking out an apartment, it is an invariable rule that
I shall inspect the place and decide whether I like it. This I do after
Emmeline has paid down a month's rent and selected the wall-paper. On
questions of such nature, Emmeline is the Balkan States and I am the
European Concert. She creates a _status quo_ and I ratify. In the
present instance, however, I was really given a free hand. Emmeline
admitted she was suffering from headache when she told the renting-agent
that she rather liked the place. Later she recognised that the rooms
were altogether too small. What had swayed her judgment was that the
bedrooms had the sun in the morning and we should thus be saving on our
doctor's bills. In this respect expensive apartments are like
high-powered motor cars and a long summer vacation on the St. Lawrence.
They may be all easily paid for by cutting in two the doctor's annual
bills amounting to ninety-odd dollars. However, I understood that this
time Emmeline would be glad to be overruled.

The European Concert had its first shock when it was confronted with the
size of the nursery bedroom. The renting-agent called my attention to
the wall-paper. It had a very pretty border, showing scenes from
"Mother Goose"; this at once revealed the purpose for which the room was
intended. But I pointed out to him that if we put a chest of drawers
against the wall and a little armchair in the corner, the crib would
come hard against the steam pipe and would project halfway across the
window.

"Oh," he said, looking up in surprise. "There's a crib?"

"Naturally," I said, "we should want this nursery for the baby."

This did not seem to strike him as altogether unreasonable, but he was
puzzled nevertheless.

"You see," he explained, "the people who were here before you had a
music-box."

When a renting-agent discerns signs of disappointment in a prospective
tenant he immediately calls his attention to the shower. The agent's
face as he ushered me into the bath-room and pointed to the shower was
irradiated by a smile of ecstatic beatitude. He reminded me of Mme.
Nazimova when she waits for the Master Builder to tumble from the
church tower.

"Does the shower work?" I asked.

"Why, of course it does," he said.

"That is very interesting," I said. "Most of them either drip or else
the hot water comes down all at once. I don't suppose you have to keep
away to one side and thrust your finger forward timidly before you
venture under the shower?"

"Not at all," he said. "This has splendid pressure. Just turn it on for
yourself."

I did as I was told, and after he had finished drying himself with his
handkerchief he asked me whether this wasn't one of the best showers I
had ever come across. I agreed, and he then told me that the very latest
ideas in modern bath-room construction had been utilised by the
architect. As for the people who had just moved out, they were so
delighted with the shower that they spent the greater part of the day in
the tub, often doing their reading there.

On our way towards the library and living-room he called my attention
to the air in the hall. He said that if there was any breeze stirring
anywhere we were sure to get it in that particular apartment. This
puzzled me, because he had told Emmeline the same thing about another
apartment which she had inspected and which faces south and west, while
this one faces north and east. Suppose now a good northeast breeze-- But
we were now in the main bedroom and he was asking me to take notice of a
small iron safe let into the wall at the height of one's head.

"This," he said, "is extremely useful for jewels and old silver. You
don't find it in every apartment house, I assure you."

"That _is_ convenient," I said, and looked out of the window, "and of
course one could keep other valuables in there, too, like bonds and
mortgages and such things."

"A great many people do," he said.

We passed another bedroom which was so small that even the agent looked
apologetic. He said it was the maid's room, but that the people who had
just moved out had a woman come in by the day and used the chamber as a
store-room. He supposed we should prefer to have our maid sleep in the
house.

"We do," I said, "but then we might get a short maid. The Finns, for
example, are a notoriously chunky race and attain their full height at
an early age. Let us look at the library."

I did not like the room at all. It faced north and looked out upon the
rear of a tall building only thirty feet away. I asked him if the light
was always as bleak as it was to-day.

"You get all the light you want in here," he said. "Lots of people, you
know, object to the sun. It's hard on the eyes. The people who had this
apartment always kept the window shades down. It made the room so cosy."

I shook my head. The dimensions of the room were quite disappointing. It
was not only small, but there was little wall space, because the
architect had provided no less than three doorways which were supposed
to be covered with portières. I presume that architects find open
doorways much easier to plan than any other part of a room.

He was surprised at my objections. There was plenty of space, he
thought. As libraries go it was one of the largest he had seen. Here you
put an armchair, and here you put a small, compact writing-desk, and you
had plenty of floor space in the middle for a small table.

"And the bookcases?" I asked.

He looked downcast.

"You have bookcases?" he said.

"We have six."

He was about to say something, but I anticipated him.

"I know, of course," I said, "that the people who lived here before used
to keep their books in the kitchen, but I hardly see how we could manage
that. It's too much trouble, and besides I am somewhat absent-minded. It
would be absurd if I should walk into the kitchen for a copy of 'Man and
Superman,' and come back with half a grapefruit on a plate. And,
furthermore, I like a library where a man can get up occasionally from
his writing-table and pace up and down while he is clarifying his ideas.
You couldn't do that here."

"There is a nice, long hall," he said. "You might pace up and down
that." But he saw I was unconvinced, and he did not go to much pains in
exhibiting the dining-room, merely remarking that it did look rather
small, but the people who last lived in the apartment were accustomed to
go out for their meals.

You will see now why I am so intensely interested in the tenants whose
successors we were on the point of being. With life growing more flat
and monotonous about us, how refreshing to come across a family which
keeps a music-box in the nursery, does its reading in the bath-tub, and
never eats in the dining-room. Is it studied originality on their part
or are they born rebels? And how far does their eccentricity go? Does
the head of the house, when setting out for his office in the morning,
walk upstairs? Do they walk downstairs when they wish to go to bed?

I am still to meet these highly original citizens of New York, but their
numbers must be increasing. Every year I hear of more and more former
tenants who prefer dark rooms and libraries without shelf space. I have
never asked the renting-agent why, being so contented with their
surroundings, his tenants should have moved out. But probably it is
because they have found an apartment where the rooms are still smaller
and the windows have no sun at all.



XVIII

DIFFERENT


Constantly I am being invited, through the mails or the advertising
columns, to buy something because it is different. Such appeals are
wasted upon me. In the realm of ideas, I am as radical as the best of
them, in many ways. But when it comes to shopping I am afraid of change.

The advertising writer is the most unoriginal creature imaginable. He is
more imitative than a theatre manager on Broadway. He is more imitative
than the revolutionaries of art, the Impressionist who imitates the
Romanticist, the Post-Impressionist who imitates the Impressionist, the
Cubist who imitates the Post-Impressionist, the Futurist who imitates
the Cubist, and the Parisian dressmaker who imitates the Futurist. When
a happy word or phrase or symbol is let loose in the advertising world,
it is caught up, and repeated, and chanted, and echoed, until the sound
and sight of it become a torture. How long ago is it since every
merchantable product of man's ingenuity from automobiles to xylophones
was being dedicated to "his majesty the American citizen"? How long is
it since every item in the magazine pages was something ending in ly,
"supremely" good, or "potently" attractive, or "permanently" satisfying,
or in any other conceivable phrase, adverbially so? To-day the
mail-order lists are crammed with commodities that are different. Oh,
jaded American appetite that refuses to accept a two-for-a-quarter Troy
collar unless it is different!

Now the truth that must be apparent to any man who will only think for a
moment--and by all accounts your advertising writer is always engaged in
a hellish fury of cerebration--is that there are a great many
commodities whose value depends on the very fact that they shall not be
different, but the same. If I were engaged in the business of publicity,
I cannot imagine myself writing, "Try our eggs--they are different." I
should also hesitate to write, "Sample our lifeboats, they are
different; try them and you will use no other." If I were working for
the gas company I should never think of saying, "Come in and look at our
gas metres, they are different." It requires little effort to draw up a
list of marketable goods, services, and utilities for which it would be
no recommendation at all to say that they are different. Thus:

  Railway time tables.
  Photographs.
  Grocers' scales.
  Complexions.
  Affidavits, and especially statements made in swearing off personal
      property tax assessments.
  Clocks.
  Individual shoes of a pair.
  The multiplication table.
  The Yosemite Valley.

In every instance it would manifestly be absurd to try to prove that the
object in question is anything but what we have always known it to be
or expected it to be.

On the other hand, there is a great class of commodities which one would
never think of taking seriously unless we were assured that they are
different from what we have always found them to be. If some ingenious
inventor could really put on the market a Tammany Hall that was
different, or a hair tonic that was different, or something different in
the way of

  Hat plumes (guaranteed not to tickle).
  Musical comedy.
  Rag-time.
  Domestic help.
  Book-reviews.
  Winter temperature at Palm Beach (as compared with temperature in New
      York city).
  Remarks on the weather.
  Mr. Carnegie's speeches.
  Remarks on Maude Adams.
  Epigrams about women.
  Epigrams about love.
  Epigrams about money.
  Epigrams.
  Food prices.
  Florence Barclay.
  Golf drivers (guaranteed not to slice).
  Brassies (guaranteed not to top).
  Mid-irons (guaranteed not to cut).
  Advertising.

And countless other things which every one can imagine being different
in a better-organised world than ours.

But does your advertising expert recognise the distinction between
things which must under no consideration be different and things which
must be made different if they are to find acceptance? Not in the least.
In season and out he sounds his poor little catch-word, and frightens
away as many customers as he attracts. Under such circumstances one can
only wonder why advertising should continue to be the best-paid branch
of American literature. Of what use are the Science of Advertising, the
Psychology of Advertising, the Dynamics of Advertising, the Ethics of
Advertising, the Phonetics of Advertising, the Strategy and Tactics and
Small-Fire Manuals of Advertising--on all of which subjects I have
perused countless volumes--if all this theoretical study will not teach
a man that it is appropriate to say: "Try our latest Hall Caine, it is
different," and quite out of place to say, "Try our quart measures, they
are different"?

Between the things that must never be different and the things that
ought never to be the same, there is a vast class of commodities which
may be the same or may be different according to choice. Linen collars,
musical machines, newspapers, ignition systems, interior decoration--it
is evident that some people may like them the same and some people may
like them different. My own inclinations, as I have intimated, are
toward the same, but my sympathies are with those who want things
different. The argument advanced by the advertiser in behalf of his
latest three-button, long-hipped, university sack with rolling collar,
that it is different and that it radiates my individuality, leaves me
cold. I am not moved by the plea that the rolling-collar effect is so
different that a quarter-million suits of that model have already been
sold west of the Alleghanies. I remain indifferent on being told that
the three-button effect would radiate my individuality even as it is
radiating the individuality of ten thousand citizens of Spokane. When it
is a choice between wearing unindividual clothes of my own or being
different with a hundred thousand others, I suppose I must be classed as
a reactionary and a fossil.



XIX

ACADEMIC FREEDOM


The approaching end of another college year gives peculiar timeliness to
the following account of a recent meeting of the Supercollegiate
Committee on Entrance Examinations. For the details of the story I am
indebted to the able and conscientious correspondent of the
Disassociated Press at Nottingham. The discerning reader will have no
difficulty in identifying the persons mentioned. Professor Münsterberg
is, of course, Professor Münsterberg. Professor Lounsbury is Professor
Lounsbury. Professor Hart is Professor Albert Bushnell Hart. Dr. Woods
Hutchinson is Dr. Woods Hutchinson.

Professor Münsterberg: The meeting will please come to order. We are now
in the first week of October. This fact, which the average citizen has
probably accepted without question, has been amply confirmed in an
elaborate series of laboratory tests carried on by means of white and
yellow cards and rapidly revolving disks. Thus we are prepared to
discuss once more the highly interesting question, why the vast majority
of freshmen cannot spell. Neither can they write their native tongue in
accordance with the rules of grammar.

Professor Lounsbury: Aw, gee! Why should they? Look at Chaucer, Milton,
and Browning. The fiercest bunch of little spellers you ever saw. And
their grammar is simply rotten. They didn't care a red cent for the
grammarians. When they saw a word or a phrase they liked they went to
it. If the grammarians didn't agree with them it was up to the
grammarians. Chaucer should worry.

Dr. Hutchinson: Quite right.

Professor Lounsbury: The question is this: Are freshmen made for the
English language or is language made for freshmen? Language is like a
human being; change does it good. Stick to your Lindley Murray and it's
a cinch your little old English tongue will be a dead one in fifty
years.

Dr. Hutchinson: I agree with Professor Lounsbury, speaking from the
standpoint of physiology. Constant use of a plural verb with a plural
subject plays the deuce with the larynx. You know what the larynx is,
gentlemen. It's the rubber disk in the human Victrola. Drop the pin on
the rubber disk and the record will grind out the same formula, again
and again. Keep it up long enough and the record wears out. That's the
larynx under the operation of grammatical rules. It gets the habit, and
the first law of health is to avoid all habits. What you want to do is
to shake up the larynx by feeding it with new forms of expression. When
a man says "I done it," it imparts a healthy jolt to the delicate
muscles of the throat, limbers up his aorta and his diaphragm, and
reconciles him with his digestion. This is the opinion of eminent
physiologists, like Drinckheimer of Leipzig.

Professor Lounsbury: Whom did you say the man is?

Dr. Hutchinson: Drinckheimer, professor at Leipzig. He doesn't write for
the magazines.

Professor Lounsbury: Then you agree with me that when a man has
something to say he will say it?

Professor Münsterberg: We have an excellent illustration on this point
in a history paper submitted in the last entrance examinations. In reply
to the question, "Name the first two Presidents of the United States,"
one candidate wrote, "The first pressident was Gorge Washington; his
predeceassor was Alexander Hamilton." Observe the extraordinary
psychological correlation between thought and expression in such a
reply.

Professor Hart: I don't think the young man was guilty of an injustice
with regard to Alexander Hamilton. You will recall that Hamilton was one
of the principal founders of the system of privilege which has produced,
in our own day, Lorimerism and the purchase of Southern delegates. If
it had not been for Hamilton and his crowd we should not now be
compelled to wage a campaign for social justice and I should not be
under the necessity of writing Bull Moose history for _Collier's_.

Dr. Hutchinson: But getting back to the real point of our inquiry,
whether the failure to spell and write correctly is a sign of mental
feebleness--

Professor Münsterberg: On that point I believe I can speak with
authority. Psychological tests in the laboratory show that the average
freshman is as quick-witted to-day as his predecessor of fifty or a
hundred years ago. We examined three hundred first-year men from eleven
colleges and universities. Each man was required to peep into a dark
box, shaped like a camera, through an eye-hole sixteen millimetres in
diameter. By pressing a button, light was flashed upon a slip of paper
inside the box, on which was printed, in letters nine millimetres high,
the following question: "What is your favourite breakfast food?" The
candidate was required to signify his answer by tapping with his finger
on the table, one tap for Farinetta, two taps for Dried Husks, three
taps for Atlas Crumbs, and so forth. The average time for three hundred
answers was six and seven-tenths seconds. Thereupon the candidates were
asked to think over the question at their leisure and to hand in a
written answer sworn to before a notary public. On comparing the written
answers with the laboratory results, it appeared that only thirty-seven
out of the three hundred had tapped the wrong answer. Need I say more?

Professor Lounsbury: May I ask how the written answers showed up from
the point of view of spelling and grammar?

Professor Münsterberg: They were impressively defective.

Professor Lounsbury: I'm tickled to death. When you cut out bad spelling
and grammar, you queer the evolution of the English language. There's
nothing to it.

Professor Münsterberg: But take the case of the freshman squad whom we
kept in a hermetically sealed room for twenty-four hours at a
temperature of eighty-nine degrees--

Professor Lounsbury: May I ask what their language was when they were
released at the end of twenty-four hours?

Professor Münsterberg: Truth compels me to say it was something awful.

Professor Lounsbury: But how about the grammar?

Professor Münsterberg: There was no grammar to speak of. They used
mostly interjections.

Dr. Hutchinson: Finest thing in the world, interjections. Good for the
lungs and the heart. Rapid process of inhalation and expulsion keeps the
bellows in prime order. That's all a man is, gentlemen, a bellows on a
pair of stilts driven by a hydraulic pump. If the bellows holds out
under sudden strain, that's all you want. That's why I like to hear
people swear. It's good for the wind. Next time you walk down a step too
many in the dark or lose your hat under a motor truck, don't hold
yourself back. It's the way nature is safeguarding you against asthma.

Professor Münsterberg: Then it is the consensus of opinion here that the
psychological and cultural status of our college freshmen is everything
it ought to be?

Professor Hart: I'd rather take the opinion of a roomful of freshmen on
any subject than the opinion of the United States Supreme Court. They
don't know anything about American history, but it's the kind of history
that isn't worth knowing. I prefer them to know things as they ought to
have been rather than as they were before the Progressive party was
born. Whatever is worth preserving from the past, including the
Decalogue, will be found in the Bull Moose platform. We don't want
examination papers. We want social justice.

Professor Lounsbury: Between you and I, the English language won't get
what's coming to it until all entrance examinations have been chucked
into the discard.

Dr. Hutchinson: Spelling is demonstrably bad for the muscles of the
chest and the abdomen.

Professor Lounsbury: You've said it.



XX

THE HEAVENLY MAID


As the familiar sound fell upon our ears, we walked to the window, drew
aside the curtains, and shamelessly stared into the windows of the
apartment across the court. That usually quiet home had been in evident
agitation all that afternoon. There was the noise of hurrying feet.
Excited voices broke out now and then. Twice a woman scolded and we
distinctly heard a child cry. Now the mystery was explained.

"The new Orpheola has come," said Emmeline. "I wonder how late they will
keep it up the first night."

In the apartment across the way the family was gathered in a reverent
circle about the new talking-machine, and we heard the opening strains
of the "Song to the Evening Star."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Have you ever thought," I said to Emmeline, "how infinitely superior
the music of Wagner is to that of any other composer, in its immunity
against influenza? The German Empire, you know, has a moist climate, and
the magician of Bayreuth recognised that he must write primarily for a
nation that is extremely subject to cold in the head. It was different
with the Italian composers. Bronchial troubles are virtually unknown in
Italy. When Verdi wrote, he failed to make allowance for a sudden attack
of the grippe. That is why when Caruso catches cold they must change the
bill at the Metropolitan. But if a Wagnerian tenor loses his voice, the
papers say the next morning, 'Herr Donner sang Tristan last night with
extraordinary intelligence.' Sometimes Herr Donner sings with
extraordinary intelligence; sometimes he sings with marvellous
histrionic power; sometimes he sings with an earnest vigour amounting to
frenzy. Wagner, who foresaw everything, foresaw the disastrous effect of
steam-heated rooms on the delicate organs of the throat. So he developed
a music form in which the use of the throat is not always essential."

"I know," said Emmeline, "that you'd much rather listen to the la-la,
la-la-la-la-la-lah from Traviata."

"I'd much rather listen to Traviata," I said, losing my temper, "than
strive painfully to be electrified by the 'Ho-yo-to-ho' of eight
Valkyrie maidens averaging one hundred and seventy-five pounds and
leaping from crag to crag at a speed of two miles an hour."

       *       *       *       *       *

When a man first acquires an Orpheola, he loses interest in his
business. He leaves for home early and bolts his dinner. The first night
he sits down before the machine from 6:30 to 11, and with a rapt
expression on his face he runs off every record in his collection twice.
No one but himself is permitted to return the precious rubber disk to
its envelope. Later in the week the eldest child, as a reward of good
behaviour, may be allowed to adjust the record on the revolving base
and to pull the starting lever, while mother watches anxiously from the
dining-room. At intervals grandma puts her head in at the door to make
sure that the proper needle has been inserted. The modern musical
cabinet does not eliminate the personal factor. People can put all of
their individuality into the music by choosing between a fine needle and
one with a blunt point. Persons of temperament are particular about the
speed at which the disk revolves. When a man is in high spirits he picks
out a sharp needle and winds the spring up tight. Pessimists do just the
opposite. It is imperative to keep the fine, steel points out of the
baby's reach because irreparable harm might thereby be done to the
record.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Of course," said Emmeline, "I can see why you should be so greatly
attracted by the Italian ting-a-ling stuff. It's the result of your
journalistic training. It's the most superficial business there is.
Everything in a newspaper must be perfectly obvious at the first
glance, and there's nothing like a jingle to fetch the crowd. After a
while a man gets to be like the people he writes for."

I had been called to the telephone and Emmeline had made use of the
interval to build up her little argument. It was unfair, but I
generously refrained from saying so. Besides, I, too, had not been idle
while I waited for Central to restore the connection.

"I am not denying," I said, "that Wagner gets his effects, if you give
him time enough. But how does he do it? By wearing you out and knocking
you down and running away with you. That was the way, you will recall,
the old Teutonic gods and heroes used to make love. When a Germanic
warrior was attacked with the fatal passion, he would seize the
well-beloved by the hair, throw her over his shoulder and ride away with
her. It was different with Puccini's countrymen. In their hands a
mandolin on a moonlit night under a balcony melted away all opposition.
After half an hour of solid Wagnerian brasswork you surrender; but only
the way Adrianople surrendered.

"That, too, was the case with the early Teutonic ladies. Their masters
did not always woo with a club. Now and then they interjected little
bits of kindness which were appreciated because they were so rare. That
is Wagner again. Every little while he throws you a kind word, a snatch
of golden melody that Verdi himself might have written, and, as a matter
of fact, did write all the time. With the master of Bayreuth these
little rifts in the clouds are doubly welcome. They shine out like a
good deed on a dark night."

"How any one can listen to the last act of Tristan without feeling all
the sorrow of the universe, I cannot understand," said Emmeline. "Do you
mean to say that the Liebestod does not really carry you out of
yourself?"

"It does not," I said. "But when Gadski in Aïda turns to the wicked
Amneris and sings 'Tu sei felice,' something in me begins to give way."

"It is probably your intellect," said Emmeline.

       *       *       *       *       *

One popular error with regard to talking-machines is that they have
solved the hitherto irreconcilable conflict between music on the one
hand and bridge and conversation on the other. At first sight it may
seem that the religious silence which one must maintain while some one
is singing--it may be the hostess herself--is no longer compulsory. You
cannot hurt the feelings of a mahogany cabinet three feet high. If the
worst happens, you can wind up the machine and start all over again. But
actually the situation is very much what it was before. I myself, on one
occasion when Tetrazzini was singing from Lucia, ventured to lean over
to my neighbour and whisper a word or two. Whereupon there came across
the face of my host, brooding fondly over the machine, a look of pain
such as I never want to bring to any face again. As it happened, it was
the man's favourite record. On the other hand, people who play cards
tell me that as between a living tenor and Caruso on the machine there
is not much to choose. Both are a hindrance to the correct leading of
trumps.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Besides," I said, "any number of Wagnerians will tell you that the
music dramas in their unabridged form are much too long. You will recall
that Wagner himself said that many of his scores would benefit by
generous cutting. A great many eminent conductors have made a specialty
of cutting things out of Tristan. This serves a double purpose. It
permits the development of a class of post-graduate Wagnerians who can
take the whole opera without flinching, and it enables people to catch
the 11:45 for Montclair. Somewhere I have come across a story of two
great conductors who had charge of rival orchestras in one of the
principal cities of Europe. One man, when he conducted the Ring, was in
the habit of cutting out the first half of every act. The other man
played the first half, but omitted the second half of every act. For
many years there was a bitter controversy as to which of the two
conductors best brought out the real meaning of the composer."

"I don't think it is a very good story," said Emmeline, walking to the
window and closing it; for our neighbour's machine had switched without
warning from the Ride of the Valkyrs to Alexander's Band. "It's a poor
story and I am inclined to think you made it up yourself."

"As for that," I said, "that is just what Wagner did with his music."

       *       *       *       *       *

When you overhear a man in the subway say to his neighbour, "Mine are
all twelve-inch, reversible, and go equally well on low or high speed,"
you will know that the new Orpheola came home last week. Next week the
children will be allowed to handle the records without special
injunctions regarding the proper needle. The week after that, the baby
will be allowed to approach quite near and hear Mother Goose come out of
the mahogany toy. Within a month the master of the house will be looking
for his hat in the cabinet. The intolerable air of superiority and
aloofness with which he has been greeting you will disappear.



XXI

SHEATH-GOWNS


From Emmeline I learned that I had been doing the fashion designers an
injustice. I had always imagined that styles were the creation of
Parisian dressmakers who worked with only two ends in view--novelty and
discomfort. But Emmeline assured me that styles are a faithful record of
the march of civilisation. When the Manchurian War was under way,
everything in the shops was Russian. When Herr Strauss produced
"Salome," half the world went in for the slim and viperous costume. The
revolution in Persia worked a revolution in blouse decoration. Later
everything was Bulgarian.

"In that case," I said, "those poor fellows at Adrianople have not died
in vain. Under a rain of shot and shell I can hear the Bulgarian
officers rallying their men: 'Forward, my children! The eyes of Fifth
Avenue are upon you! Fix bayonets! For King, for country, and for
Paquin!' The Turks, being a backward millinery nation, naturally had no
chance."

"What you say is extremely amusing, of course," remarked Emmeline. "But
I seem to remember an old suit of yours. It was about the time of the
Boer War. The coat was cut like an hour glass and there was cotton
wadding in the shoulders so that you had to enter a room sideways. The
trousers were Zouave. Yes, it must have been about the time of the Boer
War or the war with Spain."

"That was just when the feminist movement was beginning to shape our
ideals," I retorted.

Not only do the styles symbolise the process of historic evolution--I
distinctly recall toilets on Fifth Avenue which must have commemorated
the Messina earthquake and the report of the New York Tenement House
Commission--but styles actually follow an evolution of their own. They
do not change abruptly, but melt into each other. Thus the costume
which Emmeline described as Bulgarian could not have been altogether
that. The coat was military enough, with its baggy shoulders and a bold
backward sweep of the long skirts. But this coat was worn over a gown
that was unmistakably hobble, revealing the persistence of the Salome
influence. To call this outfit Bulgarian is to raise the supposition
that the Bulgarians hopped to victory at Kirk-Kilisseh.

I pointed this out to Emmeline, and at the same time took occasion to
protest against the extravagant lengths to which the languorous styles
were being carried. It was bad enough, I said, to see elderly matrons
arrayed like Oriental dancing girls. But what was worse was to see young
girls, mere children, in scant and provocative attire. I thought the law
might very well take up the question of a minimum dress for women under
the age of eighteen.

"Of course it's disgusting," said Emmeline, "but it's their right."

"I know that youth has many rights," I said, "but I didn't know that
the right to make one's self a public nuisance and offence is among
them."

"What I mean," said Emmeline, "is that we have outgrown the days when
young ladies fainted and wives fetched their husbands' slippers. We have
broken the shackles of mid-Victorian propriety and are working out a new
conception of free womanhood. Our ideas of modesty are changing. You
might as well make up your mind to be shocked quite frequently before
the process is completed."

"Oh, I see," said I. "Enslaved within the iron circle of the home,
crushed by the tyranny of convention, of custom, of man-made laws, woman
lifts up her head and declares she will be free by inserting herself
into a skirt thirteen inches in diameter. Where's the sense of it?"

"It's all very simple," said Emmeline. "It means that we are having an
awful time trying to escape from the degradation into which you have
forced us. We struggle forward, and then the habits of the harem
civilisation which you have imposed on us assert themselves. Do you
think we women love to dress? Every time we try on a pretty gown we know
that we are riveting on the chains of our own servitude."

"But why make the chains so tight?" I said.

She now turned to face me.

"The reason for the sheath-gown is quite plain," said Emmeline. "Men
have always shown such a decided preference for actresses and dancing
girls that we others have taken to imitating actresses and dancing girls
in self-defence."

"But that isn't so at all," I said. "Look at your trained nurses in
their simple white caps and aprons. They are bewitching. It is
universally conceded that the most dangerous thing in the world is for
an unmarried man to be operated on for appendicitis. That was the way,
you'll recall, Adam obtained his wife--after a surgical operation. The
case of the hospital nurse alone disposes of your entire argument about
our predilection for dancing girls."

"That I do not admit," said Emmeline. "It is true that a man finds
himself longing for what is simple and wholesome whenever there is
something the matter with him."

"When I spoke of the immodesty of present-day fashions," I said,
adroitly turning the subject, "I am afraid I gave you the wrong
impression. It isn't the viciousness of the thing that I object to, it's
the stupid, sheeplike spirit of imitation behind it. If the passion for
tight gowns indicated a kind of spiritual development, I shouldn't mind
it even if it was development in the wrong direction. There might be an
erring soul in the hobble, but still a soul. If the young girl of good
family who strives to look like a lady of the chorus did so out of sheer
perversity, there would be some comfort. One must think and feel to be
perverse. What appals me is the dreadful, unquestioning innocence with
which the thing is done. If we males are indeed responsible for what you
are, then we have a real burden on our souls. We have done more than
degrade you; we have made automata out of you. The little girl behind
the soda counter who paints her face and hangs jet spangles from her
ears will just as readily comply with fashion by putting on a military
cape and boots, or a pony coat, or calico and a sunbonnet, or an
admiral's uniform, or a _yashmak_."

"A what?" said Emmeline, frowning slightly.

"A _yashmak_," I replied, meeting her gaze steadily. "I use the word
with confidence because I have just looked it up in the dictionary. At
first I confused it with _sanjak_, which, on examination, turns out to
be a district in the Balkan Peninsula bounded on the east by Servia and
on the north by Bosnia-Herzegovina. A _yashmak_ is the long veil worn by
Moslem women to conceal the face and the outlines of the upper part of
the body."

"You seem to have prepared pretty thoroughly for this discussion," said
Emmeline.

"I have always considered it prudent before entering into debate with a
woman to have a few facts on my side," I said.

"As if that made any difference," she replied scornfully.

"As to the sheeplike way in which women follow the fashions of the
moment," continued Emmeline, "it simply isn't true." I could see she was
terribly in earnest now. "There are tens of thousands of women who dress
to please themselves; independent, courageous, self-reliant women who
face life seriously and rationally. We are going in more and more for
loose and comfortable things to wear."

"Not the typical woman of to-day, I assure you."

"Of course not the typical woman," said Emmeline. "Any Exhibition of
common-sense by a woman at once makes her a freak. You prefer the other
kind for your ideal of the eternal womanly. Take her and welcome. I
suppose it is necessary for a man to have something worthless to work
for."



XXII

WITH THE EDITOR'S REGRETS


Talk of post-office-reform brings to my mind a conversation I had with
Williams, who is a poet. It was about the time, some two years ago, when
a Postmaster-General of the United States proposed the abolition of the
second-class mail privilege for magazines.

I knew that Williams hates magazine editors with all the ardour of an
unsuccessful poet's soul. Consequently, when he sat down and lighted one
of my cigarettes and said that the magazines in their quarrel with the
post office had overlooked the strongest argument on their side, I
suspected irony. It is Williams's boast that he has one of the largest
collections of rejected manuscripts in existence, the greater part being
in an absolutely new and unread condition. Placed end to end, Williams
once estimated, his unpublished verses would reach from Battery Park to
the Hispanic Museum, at Broadway and One Hundred and Fifty-Sixth Street.
Every poem in his collection has been declined at least once by every
editor in the United States, and many of the longer poems have been
declined two or three times by the same editor, and for totally opposite
reasons.

It is not mere brute persistence on Williams's part that is responsible
for this unparalleled literary accumulation. As a matter of fact he is
easily discouraged, although, of course, like all poets he has his
moments of exaltation. The trouble, he complains, is that with every
printed rejection slip there comes a word of sincere encouragement from
the editor. The editors are constantly telling Williams that his verse
is among the very best that is now being produced, but that a sense of
duty to their readers prevents them from printing it. They regret to
find his poems unavailable, and earnestly advise him to keep on writing.

"You will recall," said Williams, "the principal point made by the
periodical publishers. Conceding that their publications, as
second-class mail matter, are carried at a loss, they argue that the
post office is more than compensated by the volume of first-class mail
sent out in response to magazine advertisements. The argument is sound,
as I can testify from personal experience. Not long ago I came across a
five-line 'ad' in agate which said, 'Are you earning less than you
should? Write us.' Well, the question seemed to fit my case and I wrote.
That was two cents to the credit of the post office. The post office
sold another stamp when I received a reply asking me to send fifty cents
in postage for instructions on how to double my income in three months.
I was somewhat disappointed. With my income merely doubled I should
still find it difficult to pay my landlady, but it was better than
nothing. So I sent the fifty cents in stamps. You will recall the
half-dollar."

"Oh, don't mention it," I said.

"Well, after a day or two I received in a penny envelope a paper-bound
copy of 'How to Succeed,' being a baccalaureate address delivered by the
Rev. Josiah K. Pebbles, who showed that honesty, thrift, and
perseverance were the secrets underlying the career of Hannibal, Joan of
Arc, John D. Rockefeller, and Theodore Roosevelt. So you see, by the
time the secret had been conveyed to me the post office had sold stamps
to the amount of fifty-five cents. Now assume that there are in the
United States between forty and fifty thousand poets and other literary
workers who would like to double their income, and it is plain that the
United States Government made a very handsome profit on that five-line
'ad.'"

"But that is not what I started out to show," said Williams. "What the
magazines have omitted to point out is that by rejecting every
contribution at least once, the editors are doing more for Uncle Sam's
first-class mail business than through their advertising pages. And the
difference is this: While there must be a limit to the number of people
who will answer an advertisement, there need be no limit to the number
of times a manuscript is sent back. I can't see why the publishers and
the Postmaster-General should be flying at each other's throat, when
there's such a simple solution at hand. It is evident that there is no
postal deficit, however large, which cannot be wiped out by a sharp
increase in the average number of rejections per manuscript. Editors
will only have to augment by, say, fifty per cent. the number of reasons
why a contribution of exceptional merit is unavailable. My 'Echoes from
Parnassus' was sent back thirty-seven times before it found a publisher.
It would have been a simple matter to send the poem back a dozen times
more either absolutely or with a word of hearty encouragement."

By this time I had made up my mind that it was indeed irony, and I was
sorry. I don't mind when Williams gets quite angry and lashes out; but I
hate to have a poet laugh at himself.

"Not that I can help feeling sorry for the editor chaps," he went on.
"You couldn't help feeling sorry, could you, for a man who has been
trained to recognise the very best in literature, and to send it back on
the spot? And the more he likes it the quicker he sends it back.
Frequently I have been on the point of writing to the man and telling
him that if it is really such a wrench to return my poem to please not
consider my feelings in the matter, but to go ahead and print it. What
saves the editor, I imagine, is that after a while he does learn how to
detect some real fault in a contribution which just enables him to send
it back without altogether succumbing to grief. Of the fourteen men who
rejected my 'Echoes from Parnassus,' one wrote that I reminded him of
Milton, but that I lacked solemnity; another wrote that I reminded him
of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, but that I was a little too serious; another
wrote that my verses had the Swinburnian rush, but were somewhat too
fanciful. The editor who accepted the poem wrote that he couldn't quite
catch the drift of it, but that he would take a chance on the stuff."

Here Williams got up and strode about the room and vowed that no
combination of editors could prevent him from continuing to write
poetry. "And I never refuse to meet them half way," he said rather
inconsequentially. "I went into Smith's office yesterday with a bit of
light verse and had him turn it down because it had the 'highbrow
touch.' 'My boy,' he said, 'we must give the people what they want. For
instance, I was going up to my apartment last night and the negro boy
who runs the elevator was quite rude to me; he had been drinking. Now
why couldn't you write a series of snappy verses on the troubles of the
flat-dweller? This line you're on now won't go at all with my readers;
they are not a very intelligent class, you know.' And that's another
thing I can't understand: Why should every editor be anxious to prove
that his subscribers are a bigger set of donkeys than any other editor
in town can claim?"

"I was fool enough," Williams proceeded, "to reject Smith's suggestion.
I should have accepted it. My poet's mission won't feed me. If President
Eliot insists it is my mission to write stuff no editor will touch, he
doesn't know what he is talking about."

"I don't think it was President Eliot," I said.

"Wasn't it? Say Plato or Carlyle, then. You can't go on for ever
slapping us on the back and letting us starve. You have got to back up
your highly laudatory statements by purchasing our wares or we shut up
shop. We don't ask for champagne and truffles, but we do want a decent
measure of substantial appreciation, all of us people with a mission,
poets, artists, prophets, women. Now women, here comes Plato or Carlyle
and says it is a woman's mission to have at least eight children."

"President Eliot said that," I interposed.

"Oh it _was_ President Eliot? Eight children, says he, is her mission.
But let me tell you if you take her children and pitch them into the
waste basket, if you use them only to fill up your factories, and slums,
and reformatories, woman will be chucking that sacred mission of hers
through the window before President Eliot can say Jack Robinson. She is
doing it now and serve them right. Mission! Rot!"

He seized a handful of my cigarettes and went out without saying
good-morning.



XXIII

A MAD WORLD


_From an old-fashioned country doctor to an eminent alienist in New York
city:_

My dear Sir:

I cannot claim the honour of your acquaintance. My name is quite unknown
to you. For some thirty years I have been established in this little
town, ministering to a district which extends five miles in every
direction from my house-door. My practice, varying little from year to
year consists largely in prescribing liniments, quinine, camphorated
oil, and bicarbonate of soda; and regularly I am summoned, of course,
into the presence of the august mysteries of birth and death.

The life, though grateful, is laborious. The opportunities for keeping
in touch with the march of events in the great world outside are
limited. It has nevertheless been one of the few delights of my
restricted leisure to follow your career through the medium of the
public press. My own course, as I have shown, lies far from the highly
specialised and fascinating field of mental pathology to which you have
devoted yourself. But from the distance I have admired the expert skill
and the consummate authority which have made you the central figure in
an unbroken succession of brilliant criminal trials. I have admired and
kept silent. If I have departed from my custom in the present instance,
it is only because I feel that your brilliant services in the recent
Fletcher embezzlement case ought not, in justice to yourself and to our
common profession, to be passed over in silence.

Let me recall the principal circumstances of the Fletcher case. The man
Fletcher was indicted for appropriating the funds of the trust company
of which he was the head. His lawyer pleaded insanity and called upon
you to give an account of several examinations you had made of the
prisoner's mental condition. You testified that on one occasion you
asked the defendant how much two plus two is, and he replied four,
thereby revealing the extraordinary cunning with which the insane assume
the mask of sanity. You then asked him to enumerate the days of the week
in their proper order. This the prisoner did without the least
hesitation, thereby supplying a remarkable instance of the unnatural
lucidity and precision of thought which, in the case of those suffering
from progressive insanity, immediately precede a complete mental
eclipse.

On the other hand you found that the defendant was unable to recall the
name of the clergyman who had married him to his first wife at San
Jacinto, Texas, twenty-seven years ago; an unaccountable failure of
memory, which could not be passed over as an accident and must be
accepted as a symptom of the gravest nature. You cited the prisoner's
lavish expenditure on motor-cars and pearl necklaces as evidence of his
inability to recognise the value of money; and this in turn clearly
indicated a congenital incapacity to recognise values of any kind,
whether physical or moral. This contention you drove home by citing the
very terms of the indictment, in which it was charged that the prisoner
had failed to distinguish between what was his and what was not
his--another infallible sign of approaching mental deliquescence.

You did not stop with the man Fletcher. You searched his family history
and found (1) a great-uncle of the defendant who used to maintain that
Mrs. E. D. N. Southworth was a greater genius than George Eliot; (2) a
second cousin who dissipated a large fortune by reckless investments in
wild-cat mining shares; and (3) a nephew who was accustomed to begin his
dinner with the salad and finish with the soup.

At the trial, counsel for defence asked you a hypothetical question. It
contained between nine and ten thousand words arranged in two hundred
and fifty principal clauses, and nearly a thousand subordinate
adjective and adverbial clauses, with no less than eighty-three
parentheses and seven asterisks referring to as many elaborate
foot-notes. It would have taken a professional grammarian from three to
six days to grasp the proper sequence of the clauses. Yet it is on
record that within three seconds after the lawyer had finished his
question, and while he was still wiping the sweat from his forehead, you
answered "Yes." This is all the more curious because I gather from
statements in the press that while the question was being propounded to
you, you were apparently engaged in jesting with your fellow-experts or
nodding cheerfully to friends in different parts of the court-room.
Needless to say Fletcher was acquitted.

I have mentioned your fellow-experts. That recalls to my mind another
admirable phase of your services in behalf of the medical art. Your
activity in the criminal courts has freed our profession from the
ancient reproach that doctors can never agree. As a matter of fact,
whether you have been retained by the prosecution or the defence, I
cannot think of a single instance in which you have failed to agree with
every one of the half-dozen other experts on the same side. More than
that, I firmly believe that if by some unexpected intervention you were
suddenly transferred from the employ of the defence to that of the
prosecution, or _vice versa_, your opinion would still be in complete
harmony with that of every one of your new colleagues. In offering your
services impartially to the District Attorney or to counsel for the
defence you have lived up to that lofty impartiality of service which is
the glory of our art. The physician knows neither friend nor foe,
neither saint nor sinner. From the rich store of your expert knowledge
you can draw that with which to satisfy all men.

I find it hard to frame a single formula which shall describe the sum
total of your achievements in the field of medicine. Perhaps one might
say that you have discovered the unitary principle underlying the laws
of health and disease, for which men have searched since the beginning
of time. Behind all physical ills they have looked for Evil. Behind
diseases they have looked for Disease. That unitary principle you have
found in what goes by the general name of Insanity. The cynical opinion
of mankind long ago laid it down that all crimes may be resolved into
the single crime of allowing one's self to be found out. If a poor man
is caught, it is stupidity or negligence. But obviously, when a wealthy
criminal is apprehended, the only possible explanation is that he is
insane.

The youthful degenerate who resorts to murder; the financier who steals
the savings of the poor; the lobbyist who buys a Senator-ship and sells
a State; the Pittsburg millionaire who seeks to rise above the laws of
bigamy, may all be explained, and acquitted, in terms of mental
aberration. The only parallel in history that I can think of, is the
elder Mr. Weller's belief in the efficacy of an alibi as a defence in
trials for murder and for breach of promise of marriage.

I congratulate you, sir. You have discovered a principle which, like
charity, covers a multitude of sins. Like charity, too, your discovery
begins at home. For, as I have shown, there is no home in this broad
land wherein the expert will fail to discover the necessary great-aunt
or third cousin endowed with the precise degree of paranoia, paresis, or
infantile dementia required to secure an acquittal, or, at least, a
disagreement of the jury.

  Sincerely yours,
  AN ADMIRER.



XXIV

Ph.D.


The time has come when a serious attempt must be made to determine
Gilbert and Sullivan's permanent place in the world of creative art. A
brief review of the musical-comedy output during the last theatrical
season will convince any one that we are sufficiently far removed from
"Pinafore" and "The Mikado" to insure a true perspective.

Happily, the material for a systematic examination of the subject is
accessible. It is true that we are still without a definitive text of
the Gilbert librettos. For this we must wait until Professor Rücksack,
of the University of Kissingen, has published the results of his
monumental labours. So far, we have from his learned pen only the text
for the first half of the second act of "The Mikado." This is in
accordance with the best traditions of German scholarship, which demand
that the second half of anything shall be published before the first
half. In the meanwhile, there are several editions of Gilbert available
which, though somewhat imperfect, ought to present no difficulties to
the scholar. For example, in my own favourite edition of "The Mikado"
(Chattanooga, 1913), the text reads:

  And he whistled an air, did he,
      As the sabre true
      Cut cleanly through
  His servical vertebrae!

where "servical" is evidently a misprint for "cervical." So, too, the
trained eye will at once discern that in the following passage from the
Peers' chorus in "Iolanthe":

  'Twould fill with joy
    And madness stark
  The hoi polloi
    (A Greek rebark),

the sense is greatly improved by reading "remark" for "rebark," unless
we argue that the chorus had a slight cold in the head, an assumption
which nothing in the text would justify us in bringing forward, and
which, indeed, would be contradicted by the highly emphasised summer
style in which the chorus is apparelled. Thus forewarned, then, we are
ready to enter upon a detailed examination of the intensely animated men
and women in whom Sir William S. Gilbert has embodied his _ultima
ratio_, his _dernier cri_, and his _Weltanschaung_.

In Ko-Ko, the author has given us a Man, with none of the
sentimentalities of August Strindberg, with nothing of the limited,
vegetarian outlook upon life of Bernard Shaw, with nothing of the
over-refinement of Mrs. Wharton. Ko-Ko is atingle with all the passion
and faults of humanity. He is both matter and spirit. He comes close to
us in his rare flashes of insight and in his moments of poignant
imbecility. The human being is not lost in the Lord High Executioner. He
is alive straight through to his entrails and liver, as Jack London
might say. He is infinite, even as life is infinite. He is, by turns,
affable, as with Pitti-Sing; cynically disdainful, as with Pooh-Bah;
paternal, as with Nanki-Poo.

In the presence of Yum-Yum he is that most appealing figure, a strong
man in love torn between desire and duty. The firmness with which he
rejects the suggestion that he decapitate himself, arguing that in the
nature of things such an operation was bound to be injurious to his
professional reputation, reveals a character of almost Roman austerity.
There is something of the Roman, too--or shall we say something of the
German?--in the thoroughness with which he would enter on his career. He
would prepare himself for his functions as Lord High Executioner by
beginning on a guinea pig and working his way through the animal kingdom
till he came to a second trombone. This is the old standard of
conscientiousness of which our modern world knows so little.

And yet a very modern man withal, this Ko-Ko. I cannot help thinking
that Mr. Chesterton would have loved him, and would have had no
difficulty in proving that his name should be pronounced not Ko-Ko, but
the second syllable before the first. He is modern in his extraordinary
adaptability to time and circumstance. Starting life as a tailor, he
adapts himself to the august functions of Lord High Executioner. He
adapts himself to Yum-Yum. He adapts himself to Katisha. No sooner is he
released from prison to become Lord High Executioner than he has ready
his convenient little list of people who never would be missed. Of his
powers of persuasion we need not speak at great length. His wooing of
Katisha is a triumph of romantic eloquence. It carries everything before
it, as in that superb climax when Katisha inquires whether it is all
true about the unfortunate little tom-tit on a tree by the river, and
Ko-Ko replies: "I knew the bird intimately." He is modern through and
through, our Ko-Ko. He is at one with Henri Bergson in asserting that
existence is not stationary but in constant flux, and that the universe
takes on meaning only from our moods:

  The flowers that bloom in the spring,
      Tra la,
  Have nothing to do with the case.

Far less subtle a character is the Lord High Chancellor in "Iolanthe,"
although, within the well-defined liminations of his type, he is as real
as Ko-Ko. Like Ko-Ko he has risen from humble beginnings. But whereas
our Japanese hero attains fortune by trusting himself boldly and
joyfully to life, letting the currents carry him whither they will, like
Byron, like Peer Gynt, and like Captain Hobson, the Lord High
Chancellor's rise is the result of painful concentration and steadfast
plodding. Ko-Ko is at various times the statesman, the poet, the lover,
the man of the world (as when he is tripped up by the Mikado's
umbrella-carrier). The Lord High Chancellor is always the lawyer. In
response to Strephon's impassioned cry that all Nature joins with him in
pleading his love, that dry legal soul can only remark that an
affidavit from a thunderstorm or a few words on oath from a heavy shower
would meet with all the attention they deserve.

Plainly, we have here a man who has won his way to the highest place in
his profession by humdrum methods; the same methods which Sir Joseph
Porter, K.C.B., employed when, by writing in a hand of remarkable
roundness and fluency, he became the ruler of the Queen's navee; the
same methods brought into play by Major-General Stanley, of the British
army and Penzance, when he qualified himself for his high position by
memorising a great many cheerful facts about the square of the
hypothenuse.

There is matter enough for an entire volume on Gilbert's self-made
men--Ko-Ko, the Lord High Chancellor, Major-General Stanley, and the
lawyer in "Trial by Jury," who laid the foundation of his fortunes by
marrying a rich attorney's elderly ugly daughter. I throw out the
suggestion in the hope that it will be some day taken up as the subject
of a Ph.D. thesis in the University of Alaska. That is only one hint of
the unworked treasures of research that await the student in these
librettos. How valuable would be a really comprehensive monograph on the
royal attendants in Gilbert, including a comparison of the Mikado's
umbrella-carrier with the Lord High Chancellor's train-bearer!

As for Gilbert and Sullivan's women, I find that even if I were not so
near to the end of my chapter, I could not enter upon a discussion of
the subject. The field is too vast. I must content myself with merely
pointing out that Gilbert's ideas on women were painfully Victorian. It
is true that the eternal chase of the male by the female was no secret
to him. In Katisha's pursuit of Nanki-Poo we have a striking
anticipation of Anne's pursuit of John Tanner in "Man and Superman." But
on the whole, Gilbert describes his women of the upper classes as
simpering and sentimental--Josephine, Yum-Yum, Mabel, Iolanthe--and his
women of the working classes as ignorant and incapable. What an
extraordinary example of ineptitude is afforded by Little Buttercup,
who, in her capacity as baby-farmer, so disastrously mixes up Ralph
Rackstraw with Captain Corcoran. Or by Nurse Ruth of Penzance, who fails
to carry out orders and, instead of apprenticing her young charge to a
pilot, apprentices him to a pirate. Miss Ida Tarbell could not have
framed a severer indictment of inefficiency in the home.



XXV

TWO AND TWO


Harding said that if he were ever called upon to deliver the
commencement oration at his alma mater, he knew what he would do.

"Of course you know what you would do," I said. "So do I. So does every
one. You would rise to your feet and tell the graduating class that
after four years of sheltered communion with the noblest thought of the
ages they were about to plunge into the maelstrom of life. If you didn't
say maelstrom you would say turmoil or arena. You will tell them that
never did the world stand in such crying need of devoted and unselfish
service. You will say that we are living in an age of change, and the
waves of unrest are beating about the standards of the old faith. You
will follow this up with several other mixed metaphors expressive of the
general truth that it is for the Class of '14 to say whether this world
shall be made a better place to live in or shall be allowed to go to the
demnition bow wows. You will conclude with a fervent appeal to the
members of the graduating class never to cease cherishing the flame of
the ideal. You will then sit down and the President will confer the
degree of LL.D. on one of the high officials of the Powder Trust."

But Harding was so much in earnest that he forgot to receive my remarks
with the bitter sneer which is the portion of any one unfortunate enough
to disagree with him.

"The commencement address I expect to deliver," he said, "will precisely
avoid every peculiarity you have mentioned. It is the fatal mistake of
every commencement orator that he attempts to deal with principles. He
knows that by the middle of June the senior class has forgotten most of
the things in the curriculum. His error consists in supposing that this
is as it should be; that Euclid and the rules of logic were made to be
forgotten, and that the only thing the college man must carry out into
the world is an Attitude to Life and a Purpose. Which is all rot. There
is no necessity for preaching ideals to a graduating class. The ideals
that a man ought to cling to in life are the same that a decent young
man will have lived up to in college. The dangers and temptations he
will confront are very much like those he has had to fight on the
campus. The undergraduate of to-day is not a babe or a baa-lamb."

He paused and seemed to be weighing the significance of what he had
said. Apparently he was pleased. He nodded a vigorous approval of his
own views on the subject, and proceeded:

"It is not the temptations of the world the college man must be on the
lookout against, but its stupidities, its irrelevancies, its general
besotted ignorance. He is less in peril of the flesh and the devil than
of the screaming, unintelligent newspaper headline, whether it leads off
an interview with a vaudeville star or with a histrionic college
professor. What he needs to be reminded of is not principles, but a few
elementary facts. My own commencement address would consist of nothing
more or less than a brief review of the four years' work in
class--algebra, geometry, history, physics, chemistry, psychology,
everything."

"How extraordinarily simple!" I said. "The wonder is no one has ever
thought of this before."

"I admit," he said, "that it may be rather difficult to compress all
that matter in fifteen hundred words, but it can be done. It can be done
in less than that. My peroration, for instance, would go somewhat as
follows--that is, if you care to listen?"

"It will do no harm to listen," I said.

"I would end in some such way: 'Members of the graduating class, as you
leave the shades of alma mater for the career of life, the one thing
above all others that you must carry with you is a clear and ready
knowledge of the multiplication table. Wherever your destiny may lead
you, to the Halls of Congress, to the Stock Exchange, to the counting
room, the hospital ward, or the editorial desk, let not your mind wander
from the following fundamental truths. Two times two is four. A straight
line is the shortest distance between two points. Rome fell in the year
476, but it was founded in the year 753 B. C., and so took exactly 1,229
years to fall. The northern frontier of Spain coincides with the
southern frontier of France. The Ten Commandments were formulated at
least 2,500 years ago. Japan is sixty times as far away from San
Francisco as it is from the mainland of Asia. Virginius killed his
daughter rather than let her live in shame. The subject of illicit love
was treated with conspicuous ability by Euripides. The legal rate of
interest in most of the States of the Union is six per cent. The
instinct for self-preservation is one of the elementary laws of
evolution. Hamlet is a work of genius. Victor Hugo is the author of "Les
Misérables." I thank you.'"

"Thus equipped, any young man ought to become President in time," I
said.

"Thus equipped," retorted Harding, "any young man ought to make his way
through life as a rational being, and not as a sheep. And that is the
main purpose of a college education, or of any process of education. No
amount of moral enthusiasm will safeguard a man against the statement
that the panic of 1893 was caused by the Democratic tariff bill; but the
knowledge that the tariff bill was passed in 1894 may be of use. It
saves a rational being from talking like a fool. Idealism will not keep
a man from investing in get-rich-quick corporation stock; but knowledge
of the fact that the common sense and experience of mankind have agreed
upon six per cent. as a fair return on capital will keep him from going
after 520 per cent. Mind you, it is not the fact that he will lose his
money which concerns me. It is the fact that there should be a mentality
capable of believing in 520 per cent. The dignity of the human mind is
at stake. Or take this matter of the boundary line between France and
Spain."

"If you are sure it is related to the subject in hand," I said.

"It is, intimately," he replied. "I am, as you know, exceedingly fond of
books of travel. I read them as eagerly as I do all the cheap fiction
that deal with brave adventures in foreign lands. Now a very common
trait in books of both kinds is the author's fondness for pointing out
the differences between the people of the southern part of a particular
country and the people living in the northern part. You are familiar
with the distinction. The inhabitants of the south are hot-headed,
amorous, given to mandolin playing, and lacking in political genius. The
people of the north are phlegmatic, practical, averse to love-making,
unimaginative, readers of the Bible, and tenacious of their rights. I
don't recall who first called attention to the fact. Perhaps it was
Macaulay. Perhaps it was Herodotus. The idea is sound enough.

"But observe what the writers have made out of this simple truth. It
has escaped them that anything is north or south only by comparison with
something else. In the minds of our parrot authors the south has simply
become associated with one set of stock phrases and the north with
another. Here is where my Franco-Spanish frontier comes in. We learn
that the people of southern Spain are gay and fickle whereas the people
of northern Spain are sturdy and sober-minded. But cross over into
France and the people of southern France are once more gay and fickle,
in spite of the fact that they live further north than the sober-minded
inhabitants of northern Spain; and the people of northern France are
calm and self-reliant. Moving still further toward the Pole, into
Belgium, we find that the Belgians of the south are a frivolous lot, but
the Belgians of the north are eminently desirable citizens. From what I
have said you will no longer be surprised to hear that the inhabitants
of southern Sweden are a harum-scarum populace, whereas in the north of
Sweden every one attends to his own business. As a result of my long
course in travel literature I am convinced that the southern Eskimos are
not to be mentioned in the same breath, for hardihood and manly
self-control, with the sturdy inhabitants of northern Congo. People go
on writing this terrific nonsense and people go on reading it. A brief
review in geography would put a stop to the nefarious practice. Have I
made myself clear?"

"The question is whether people are interested in the countries you have
mentioned," I said.

Even then Harding was patient with me.

"That is what I would try to do in my commencement oration--arm those
young minds against the catch-words and imbecilities of the great world.
Altruism, the passion for service, the passion for progress, are all
very well in their way. But first of all comes the duty of every man to
defend the integrity of his own mind and the multiplication table."



XXVI

BRICK AND MORTAR


It is a pleasure to put before my readers the first completely
unauthorised interview with Professor Henri Bergson on the spiritual
significance of American architecture. We were speaking of Mr. Guy
Lowell's original design for New York's new County Court house.

M. Bergson smiled pragmatically.

"A round court house, you say? Suggestive of the Colosseum, with a touch
of the Tower of Babel, and the merest _soupçon_ of Barnum and Bailey?
Come then, why not? To me it is eminently just that your architecture
should typify the different racial strains that have entered into the
making of the American people. When one observes in the façade of your
magnificent public buildings the characteristic marks of the Chinese,
the Red Indian, the Turco-Tartar, the Provençal, the Lombard
Renaissance, the Eskimo, and the Late Patagonian, one catches for the
first time the full meaning of your so complex civilisation."

The distinguished philosopher turned in his seat, struck a match on a
marble bust of Immanuel Kant just behind him, and lit his cigar. He
gazed thoughtfully out of the window. Before him stretched the
enchanting panorama of Paris so familiar to American eyes--Notre Dame,
the Gare de St. Lazare, the Bois de Boulogne, the Eiffel Tower, the
cypresses of Père Lachaise, the tomb of Napoleon, and the offices of the
American Express Company.

"Yes," he said, "one envies the advantages of your multi-millionaires.
The kings and princes of former times, when they built themselves a
home, had to be content with a single school of architecture. Your rich
men on Fifth Avenue may have two styles, three, four--what say I?--a
dozen! And on their country estates, where there is a garage, a
conservatory, stables, kennels, the opportunities are unlimited."

"But we have pretty well exhausted all the known styles," I said. "What
about the future?"

"Have no fear," he replied. "The archæologists are continually digging
up new monuments of primitive architecture. By the time you need a new
City Hall excavations will be very far advanced in Peru and Ceylon.

"The one secret of great architecture," M. Bergson went on, "is that it
shall contain a soul, that it shall be the expression of an idea. A
splendid courage accompanied by a high degree of disorder is what I
regard as the American Idea. Hence the perfect propriety of a
fifty-story Venetian tower overlooking a Byzantine temple devoted to the
Presbyterian form of worship. Too many of my countrymen are tempted to
scoff at your skyscrapers. But I maintain that a skyscraper perfectly
expresses the spirit of a people which has created Pittsburg, the Panama
Canal, and Mr. Hammerstein's chain of opera houses. Take your loftiest
structures in New York and think what they stand for."

I thought in accordance with instructions, and recognised that the three
tallest structures in New York symbolised, respectively, the triumph of
the five and ten cent store, the sewing machine, and industrial
insurance at ten cents a week.

"In your skyscrapers," he went on, "there speaks out the soul of
American idealism."

I recalled what a drug the skyscrapers are on the real estate market,
how they yield an average of two per cent. on the cost, and I decided
that our tall buildings are indeed the expression of uncompromising
idealism. As an investment there was little to be said for them.

"I repeat," said M. Bergson, "your skyscrapers stand for an idea, but
they also express beauty. Not only do they reveal the restless energy of
a people which waits five minutes to take the elevator from the tenth
floor to the twelfth, but they also embody the most modern conception of
fine taste. I think of them as displaying the perfection of the
hobble-skirt in architecture--tall, slim, expensive, and never failing
to catch the eye."

We were interrupted by a trim-looking maid who brought in a telegram. My
host tore open the envelope, glanced at the message, and handed it to me
with a smile. It was from a Chicago vaudeville manager who offered M.
Bergson five thousand dollars a week for a series of twenty-minute talks
on the influence of Creative Evolution on the Cubist movement to be
illustrated with motion pictures. I handed the telegram to M. Bergson,
who dropped it into the waste basket.

"People," he said, "have fallen into the habit of asserting that beauty
in architecture is not to be separated from utility. To be beautiful a
building must at once reveal the use to which it is devoted. But this
need not mean that a certain architectural type must be devoted to a
certain purpose. The essential thing is uniformity. The same form should
be devoted to the same purpose. Then there would be no trouble in
learning the peculiar architectural language of a city. When I was in
New York I experienced no difficulty whatsoever. When I saw a Corinthian
temple I knew it was a church. When I saw a Roman basilica I knew it was
a bank. When I saw a Renaissance palace I knew it was a public bath
house. When I saw an Assyrian palace I knew there was a cabaret tea
inside. When I saw a barracks I knew it was a college laboratory. When I
saw a fortress I knew it was an aquarium. The soul of the city spoke out
very clearly to me."

He thought for a moment.

"But yes," he said. "When I think of New York and its architecture I am
more than ever convinced that there is no such a thing as
predestination, that your American architect is emphatically a free
agent."

"This seems so very true," I murmured.

"Recently," he went on, "when I was the guest of your most hospitable
countrymen there was a sharp controversy regarding the appropriateness
of the architect's design for a memorial to be erected to your immortal
Lincoln in the national capital. There were critics who professed to be
shocked by the incongruity of placing a statue of Lincoln, the
frontiersman, the circuit-rider of your raw Middle West, the teller of
most amusing anecdotes, amusing, but--somewhat Gothic, shall I
say?--putting a statue of this typical American inside a temple of pure
Grecian design. Such critics, in my opinion, were in error. They made
the same mistake of concentrating on the specific use, instead of
searching after the broad meaning. Lincoln was an American. His monument
should be American in spirit. And I contend that it is the American
spirit to put a statesman in frock coat and trousers inside a Greek
temple. For that matter, what structural form is there which one might
call typical of your country, outside of your skyscrapers?"

"There is the log cabin," I said, "but that would hardly bear
reproduction in marble. And there is the baseball stadium, but somehow
that sounds rather inappropriate."

"So I should earnestly advise you," continued M. Bergson, "not to waste
time in studying what your architectural types ought to be, but to build
as the fancy seizes you. In the course of time the right fancy may seize
you. If anything, avoid striving for perfection. Continue to mix your
styles. It is not essential to cling to the original plans once you have
started. Change your plans as you go along. Avoid the spick and span. If
your foundations begin to sag a little before the roof is completed, so
much the better. If the right wing of your building is out of line with
the left wing, let it go at that. If your interior staircases blind the
windows, if your halls run into a _cul-de-sac_, instead of leading
somewhere, let them."

"But that is precisely the way we build our State Capitols," I said.

"Then you are to be congratulated on having solved the problem of a
national style," said M. Bergson.



XXVII

INCOHERENT


A topsy-turvy chapter of no particular meaning and of little
consequence; whether pointing to some divine, far-off event, the reader
must determine for himself.

He came into the office and fixed me with his glittering eye across the
desk. Under ordinary circumstances I should have found his manner of
speech rather odd. But it was the last week of the Cubist Exhibition on
Lexington Avenue, and a certain lack of coherence seemed natural. He
said:

"Is there a soul in things we choose to describe as inanimate? Of course
there is. Can we assign moral attributes to what people usually regard
as dead nature? Of course we can. Why don't we do something then? Take
the abandoned farm. Doesn't the term at once call up a picture of
shocking moral degradation? We are surrounded by abandoned farms, and
do nothing to reclaim them morally. But I have hope. That is the fine
thing about the spirit of the present day. It abhors sentimentality. It
is honest. It recognises that before we can do away with evil we must
acknowledge that it exists. Look at the wild olive! Look at the vicious
circle! Look at Bad Nauheim!"

"Are you sure it's me you wished to see?" I asked. "Because there's a
man in the office whose name sounds very much the same and the boys are
apt to confuse us. He is in the third room to your right."

"It doesn't matter," he said. "The main thing is that the present uplift
does not go half far enough. Just consider the semi-detached family
house. Can anything be more depressing? There are happy families; of
them we need not speak. There are unhappy families; but there at least
you find the dignity of tragedy, of fierce hatreds, of clamour, of hot
blood running riot in the exultation of excess--Swinburne, you know,
Dolores, Faustina, Matisse, and all that. But a semi-detached family, a
home of chilly rancours and hidden sneers, too indifferent for love, too
cowardly for hate, a stagnant pool of misery--can you blame me?"

"I do not," I said. "Far be it from me to censure the natural antipathy
for real estate agents which surges up--"

"Thank you," he said. "That is all I wish to know." He rose, but turned
back at the door. "Of course," he said, "there is the other side of the
picture. Not all nature is degenerate. There are upright pianos. There
are well-balanced sentences. There are reinforced-concrete engineers. I
thank you for your courtesy." And he went out.

I had no scruples in directing my visitor to the third floor from mine
on the right, because that room is occupied by the anti-suffragist
member of the staff. Between editions he reads the foreign exchanges
with a fixed sneer and polishes up his little anti-feminist aphorisms.
These he recites to me with a venomous hatred which Charlotte Perkins
Gilman would have no trouble in tracing back to the polygamous cave
man. He came in now and sat down in the chair just vacated by my
somewhat eccentric visitor.

"Mrs. Pankhurst," he said, "is completely justified in asserting that
the leaders may perish, but the good fight will go on. There are plenty
of frenzied Englishwomen to carry the torch. The practice of arson, you
will observe, comes natural to woman as the historic guardian of the
domestic fire. We have great difficulty in preventing our cook from
pouring kerosene into the kitchen range. Instinct, you see."

"But look at the other side of the question," I said.

"That doesn't concern me in the least," he replied. "Of course you will
say there is the hunger strike. But what does that prove? Simply that
another ancient custom of the submerged classes has become an amusement
of the well-to-do. We are all copying the underworld nowadays. We have
borrowed their delightfully straightforward mode of speech. We have
learned their dances. We are imitating their manners. Now we are
acquiring their capacity for going without food. Not that I think the
hunger-strike is altogether a futile invention. Practised on a large
scale it will undeniably exercise a beneficent influence on the status
of woman. Modern fashions in women's garments have already reduced the
expenditure on dress material to an insignificant minimum. When the
wives of the middle and upper classes have learned to be as abstemious
with food as they are with clothes, it is plain that the economic
independence of women will be close at hand."

"You are assuming that the sheath-gown is less expensive than the
crinoline," I managed to interject.

"I consider your remarks utterly irrelevant to my argument," he said.
"Mind you, I don't deny that forcible feeding is a disgusting business
as it is carried on at present. But that is because it is being
misdirected. If the British Government were to apply forcible feeding in
Whitechapel and among the human wreckage that litters the Thames
Embankment, I am confident that the problem of social unrest would be
speedily disposed of."

He, too, turned back at the door.

"Mark my word," he said, "it won't be long before the manhood of England
asserts itself, and then look out for trouble! You know, even the earth
turns when you step upon it."

But sometimes you find yourself wondering whether it is really (1) the
solid earth we tread to-day, or whether it is (2) on clouds we step, or
whether (3) we walk the earth with our heads in the clouds, or whether
(4) we are standing on our heads on earth with our feet in the clouds.
It isn't an age of transition, because that means progress in one
direction. It isn't revolution, because revolution is an extremely
clear-cut process with heads falling and the sewers running red with
blood; whereas the swollen channels to-day run heavy with talk chiefly.
It isn't a transmutation of values, because we have no single accepted
standard of exchange. It isn't a shifting of viewpoints, because it is
much more than that.

It is a shifting of the optical laws, of the entire body of physical
laws. Pictures are painted to be heard, music is written to be seen,
passion is depicted in odours, dancing aims to make the bystander lick
his chops. Mathematics has become an impressionist art, and love, birth,
and death are treated arithmetically. Grown men and women clamour for
the widest individual freedom, and children, if you will listen to the
Princeton professor, should render compulsory service to the State. We
are in full revolt; in revolt toward State Socialism, toward Nietzsche,
toward Christian idealism, toward the paganism of the Latin Quarter and
Montmartre, toward university settlements, toward the cabaret. Are we in
a fog? Are we in the clouds striving toward the light? Well, I haven't
the least doubt that the mist will roll away and leave us in man's
natural position, his feet planted solidly on earth, his face lifted to
the sun. But for the moment it's puzzling.



XXVIII

REALISM

(AFTER A-N-LD B-N-ETT)


In the dining-room of her little apartment, from the windows of which
one might catch a glimpse of the Place de la Révolution on a clear day,
Madame Lafarge was laying the table for supper. She had folded the
table-cloth in two. With outstretched arms she held the four ends of the
beautifully laundered piece of napery between the thumb and
middle-finger of either hand. Suddenly she released two of the corners
of the white cloth, transferring her grip with practised deftness to the
two other corners, and whipped the flapping sheet across the table with
a confident gesture that emphasised the vigour of her ample bosom. The
further end of the cloth wrinkled. Perfect mistress of herself, Madame
Lafarge walked around the table and patted the offending creases into
an unblemished surface. She was extremely proud of her finger-nails,
upon which she spent fifteen minutes twice a day.

From the china-closet at one end of the room, Madame Lafarge brought
forth two plates, which she placed on the table at either end of a
perfect diameter. This diameter she bisected with four salt and pepper
casters of cut-glass topped with silver elaborately chased in the
bourgeois style. While arranging the spoons she happened to look at the
clock and noticed that it was a quarter past five. M. Lafarge would be
leaving his shop behind the Palais Royal in half an hour. He would stop
at the tobacconist's for his semi-weekly bag of fine-cut Maryland and
would probably call at the cobbler's for Madame's second best shoes
which she was having resoled for the third time; they would last out the
winter. That would bring her husband home within an hour. In another
half hour it would be time to put the cutlets on the fire. As she walked
into the kitchen she wondered whether there was quite enough flour in
the sauce. A heavy sauce made M. Lafarge toss about in bed.

Outside, on the Place, they were guillotining Marie Antoinette....



XXIX

ART

(WHEN EMMY DESTINN SANG IN THE LION CAGE)


First Lion: I'm nervous. Aren't you?

Second Lion: Not in the least.

First Lion: Then why do you keep your tail between your legs?

Second Lion: I always do that when I'm thinking.

First Lion: What I want to know is, what do they want to go and put her
in the cage for? The place is crowded as it is and there isn't enough
raw beef to go around.

Second Lion: Maybe she is a new kind of beef.

First Lion: I wouldn't touch it for the world-- Now what are you doing?
Are you afraid?

Second Lion: Who's afraid?

First Lion: What made you back into me like that and growl when she
waved her upper limbs and stepped forward?

Second Lion: Purely reflex action. Do you think she's hungry?

First Lion: For heaven's sake, don't say that. What makes you think so?

Second Lion: She has her mouth wide open and she emits prolonged howls.
I wish she wouldn't move forward so abruptly.

First Lion: And I wish you wouldn't back into me like that without
warning.

Second Lion: Perhaps she howls because she's afraid.

First Lion: Whom would she be afraid of?

Second Lion: The man outside who is turning the handle of the
picture-machine.

First Lion: He has a red face.

Second Lion: He must be juicy. I could fetch him in two leaps if I were
feeling just right.

First Lion: There you go again. You'll be backing me against the bars
before you know it.

Second Lion: Can't one stretch when one feels bored?

First Lion: The red-faced man must be the new keeper.

Second Lion: Probably, and she is howling for something to eat. I wonder
how long this will last.

First Lion: I wonder. This is worse than the circus with nothing between
you and a crowd. What is it now?

Second Lion: She's come nearer again and she is stretching out her upper
limbs in our direction. Suppose she's hungry and the red-faced man
refuses to let her have anything.

First Lion: For heaven's sake, don't speak like that.



XXX

THE PACE OF LIFE

(AS RECORDED BY THE FILM DRAMA AND TIMED BY A DOLLAR WATCH)


From love at first sight to end of successful courtship, 2-1/2 minutes.

Breakfast, 45 seconds.

Ascent of the Jungfrau, 5 minutes.

A riot, 1 minute, 45 seconds.

A wedding, 1-1/2 minutes.

A conflagration, 55 seconds.

A night of restless tossing on a bed of pain, 35 seconds.

From discovery of wife's faithlessness to attempt at suicide, 50
seconds.

Reconciliation between life-long enemies, 1 minute.

Trust monopolist converted to endow a hospital and reorganise business
on a profit-sharing basis, 1-1/2 minutes.

A piano recital, 30 seconds.

A battle in Mexico, 1-1/2 minutes.

A major abdominal operation, 19 seconds.

Establishing identity of long-lost heir, 6 seconds.

Buy your hats at O'Grady's--they're different, 2 minutes.

Getting Central on the telephone, instantaneous.

Central gives the right connection, 2 seconds. (Incidentally it may be
remarked that the film drama can never hope to reproduce the most
powerful comic device of the legitimate stage. This consists in saying
to Central, "Yes, I want two-four-six-thr-r-re-e," the most notable
advance in dramatic art since the invention of the inflated bladder.)

Restoration of lost memory and discovery of hiding-place of lost
documents, 10 seconds.

Orator sways hostile audience, 15 seconds.

Detailed plan for robbing Metropolitan Museum formulated by six
conspirators, 15 seconds.

Twenty years pass, 2 seconds.



XXXI

MARCUS AURELIUS, 1914


Let me exaggerate! For in exaggeration there is life and the punch that
makes for progress. Whereas no man can manifestly qualify as a live wire
who sees things as they are.

Let me exaggerate the number of millions of bacteria to the cubic
centimetre in our morning milk; and the hosts of virulent bacilli that
make their encampment on the unlaundered dollar-bill; and the
anti-social micro-organisms that beset the common drinking-cup.

Let me exaggerate the virtue of assiduously and courageously swatting
the common house-fly.

Let me exaggerate the grey and monotonous life of the poor, forgetting
the children who dance to the sound of the hurdy-gurdy; and the mothers
who smile over their babies in tenement cradles, and the lovers in the
parks, and the May parties, and the millions who patronise the
moving-picture theatres, and the millions in Coney Island.

Let me exaggerate the grinding, crushing, withering speed of modern
industry, forgetting the hundreds of thousands who throng the baseball
parks and the additional millions who study the score boards on Park
Row.

Let me exaggerate the number of children who go breakfastless to school,
since nothing less than 25,000 gets into the newspaper headlines; and
the wickedness of regularly ordained clergymen who marry people without
asking for a physician's certificate; and the peril of helping an old
lady up the Subway steps lest she turn out to be a recruiter of white
slaves.

Let me exaggerate the blessings of an age when babies shall be born
without adenoids and tonsils, and shall develop just as automatically
into clear-eyed little Boy Scouts and Camp-fire Girls.

Let me exaggerate! Teach me that outlook upon life which the highbrow
pragmatists describe as the will to believe, and the low-brow describes
as pipe dreams! Save me from those twin devils, the Sense of Humour and
the Sense of Proportion; for in common sense is stagnation and death,
but progress lies in exaggeration!



XXXII

BY THE TURN OF A HAND


In seven different ways has the world been on the point of being
regenerated since the Spanish-American War. For the completeness with
which the world has been reconstructed consult the current files of the
newspapers.

The world was to be made over by the bicycle. The strap-hanger was to
abandon his strap and ride joyfully down the Broadway cable-slot,
snapping his fingers at traction magnates and imbibing ozone. The
factory-hand was to abandon his city flat and live in the open country,
going to and from his work through the green lanes at fifteen miles an
hour, with his lunch on the handle bars. The old were to grow young
again and the young were to dream close to the heart of Nature. The
doctors were to perish of starvation. But where is the bicycle to-day?

The world was to be made over by jiu-jitsu. Elderly gentlemen were to
regain the waistline of their youth by ten minutes' attention every
morning to the secrets of the Samurai. Slim young women, when attacked
by heavy ruffians, were to seize their assailants by the wrist and hurl
them over the right shoulder. The police were to discard their revolvers
and their night sticks, and suppress rioters by mere muscular
contraction. The doctors, as before, were to grow extinct through the
rapid process of starvation. But where is jiu-jitsu to-day?

The world was to be regenerated by denatured alcohol. Congress had
merely to remove the internal revenue tax and a new motive power would
be let loose, far transcending the total available horsepower of our
coal mines. Denatured alcohol was to drive the farmer's machines, propel
our war automobiles, run our factories, and reduce the cost of living to
a ridiculous minimum. But where is denatured alcohol to-day?

The world was to be redeemed by the bungalow. The landlord was to
disappear and in his place would come a race of free-men bowing the head
to no man and raising their own vegetables. Kitchen drudgery was to be
eliminated by the simple device of abolishing the kitchen and calling it
a kitchenette. With no more stairs to climb, rheumatism would pass into
history. So would the doctors. The bungalow is still with us, and alas,
so are the doctors.

The world was to be regenerated by sour milk; by the simple life; by
sleeping in the open air. But where now are Prof. Metchnikoff and Pastor
Wagner? And the pictures of rose-embowered sleeping porches in the
garden magazines have been supplanted by pictures of colonial farmhouses
transformed into charming interiors by two coats of white-wash and a
thin-paper edition of the classics.

Does this show that we must give up all hope of seeing a new world
around us before 1915? By no means. We still have Eugenics.



XXXIII

THE QUARRY SLAVE


The tired business man leaves his home in the country just in time to
catch the next train. By ten o'clock, at the latest, he is in his
office, having ridden up to the thirteenth floor in an express elevator
and so gained a distinct advantage over his London competitors who are
in the habit of walking up to their offices on the third floor. He finds
his mail opened and sorted on his desk. He glances over the most
important letters, puts aside those requiring immediate attention, and
has his shoes shined. At eleven o'clock he calls up on the telephone
and, in the course of fifteen minutes' conversation, transacts a great
deal of business which has to be confirmed by letter. His father would
merely have written the letter.

Ignoring the primary rule of health which forbids the mingling of work
and recreation, he makes a business appointment for lunch, and between
one o'clock and half-past three he puts through a deal on which his
father would have spent at least half an hour during his busiest hours.
Returning to his office he dictates several letters which he dictated
the day before and into which a number of vital errors have been
introduced in the course of transcription. This necessitates repeated
reference to a card catalogue, an operation which takes some time
because the young man in charge has been brought up on the phonetic
system and experiences some difficulty in determining the proper place
of the letter G in the alphabet. From 3:30 to 4:30 the business man is
interviewed by an agent who demonstrates the merits of a new
labour-saving letter file. Donning his overcoat hastily he runs to make
an express which takes eight minutes to reach Grand Central Station,
whereas the local trains sometimes take as much as eleven minutes.

Later, exhausted by his efforts of the day, he just manages to purchase
two seats on the aisle from a speculator, and staggers to his chair at
8:30 as the curtain rises on the first act of "The Girl and the
Eskimo."



XXXIV

MONOTONY OF THE POLES

(AT A FIVE O'CLOCK TEA)


The Lady: It's so good of you to come. It must be wonderful to have been
at the Pole. Do you know, when the news first reached us, I was so
excited I insisted on calling up all my friends on the telephone and
asking them if they had heard. It must have been a wonderful trip. Won't
you sit down and tell us all about it?

The Explorer: Thank you. We left our winter camp in latitude 83 degrees
7 minutes on October 24, with five men, four sledges, and thirty-two
dogs. The long wait was spent in laying in stocks of seal-meat for the
dogs, constructing sledges, breaking the dogs to harness, making
meteorological observations, bathing, sleeping, and attending to the
dogs. In the cold of the Polar night, work moves on rather slowly, but
I always enjoyed the restful half-hour I devoted to winding up my watch.
On August 24 we caught the first sign of spring.

The Lady: Of course.

The Explorer: But it was not till October 24 that the sun rose and the
Polar day began.

The Lady: How very interesting!

The Explorer: We had been getting impatient. We were afraid the dogs
would grow too fat. We were glad when the edge of the sun's disk showed
above the horizon.

The Lady: It must have been like the first day of creation; it must have
been like the radiant illumination of a great love.

The Explorer: It was indeed. We immediately harnessed the dogs and set
out. The sledges had been loaded several days before. The dogs were in
excellent physical condition. The ice was smooth. The temperature was
minus 28 degrees Centigrade. What this is when expressed in terms of
Fahrenheit, madam, you will of course readily ascertain for yourself by
multiplying by 9, dividing by 5, and subtracting 32.

The Lady: It is all too wonderful!

The Explorer: On our first day's march we covered forty-three
kilometres, the kilometre being equal, as you are aware, to .62121 of a
mile. Part of the way we rode upon the sledges. Then the ice grew rough,
and we took to our skis. We camped in 83 degrees 29 minutes, and built
an igloo, which you will recall is a hut made of ice-blocks and snow.
First we fed the dogs. The daily ration for the dogs was one and a half
kilogrammes of seal-meat, the kilogramme, I need not tell you, being
equal to 2.2046 pounds. Then we turned in.

The Lady: Your first night in the unknown!

The Explorer: As you say, madam. The next day we camped in 83 degrees 53
minutes, fed the dogs as usual, and built an igloo. The day after, we
camped in 84 degrees 29 minutes and built another igloo, after feeding
the dogs. Nothing happened for the next ten days. The dogs were in good
condition. The sledges held well. We made an average daily march of 36
kilometres. But on the eleventh day, at the conclusion of a fairly good
march, one of the dogs in sledge number 2--we called him
Skraal--attacked and bit a dog we called Ragnar. We parted them with
great difficulty. The two days that followed were uneventful, but on the
third day Ragnar attacked and bit Skraal. We had to club them apart. On
the fifteenth day out Ragnar and Skraal attacked and bit a third dog
named Skalder, but he eventually recovered. That was in latitude 85
degrees 87 minutes, at an altitude of 3,700 feet, and the temperature
was minus 27 degrees Centigrade. It occurred just after we had finished
building an igloo and were preparing to feed the dogs.

The Lady: And always you were drawing nearer the goal!

The Explorer: Naturally, madam. All this time we were busy laying down
depots of food for the dogs and the men. Because once we reached the
goal we must, of course, get back as fast as we could. We built a depot
at every degree of latitude, or, roughly speaking, every 100 kilometres.
Our depot in latitude 87 degrees 25 minutes was situated amidst very
picturesque surroundings.

The Lady: In that wonderful landscape!

The Explorer: Yes, the spot had some very extraordinary ice-formations.
Setting out from that point we marched 37 kilometres over rough ice, fed
the dogs, and built an igloo. The next day we marched 70 kilometres over
smooth ice, and, having attended to the dogs, built another igloo. The
next day we marched 50 kilometres over ice that was partly rough and
partly smooth, and had a good night's rest, after putting up an igloo
and caring for the dogs. The next day the ice was very soft, and the
dogs hung back and complained. However, we managed to cover 27
kilometres that day, reaching 88 degrees 14 minutes. There we camped
and--

The Lady: And built another igloo!

The Explorer: No, madam, a food depot. It was on the following day that
I first had reason to feel anxious for my men. Skaarmund, my chief
assistant, froze his ears. That was in latitude 88 degrees 36 minutes,
and the temperature was minus 40 degrees Centigrade. After being
vigorously rubbed for several minutes, he was all right again. Almost
immediately Knudsen complained of headache and we had to give him some
phenacetine. Half an hour later Lanstrup fell down a crevice in the ice.

The Lady: Horrors!

The Explorer: Fortunately the crevice was only two feet deep, and after
we had applied peroxide and vaseline, Lanstrup was as well as ever.
Owing to the high altitude we all experienced some difficulty in
breathing. It was very much like being stalled on a crowded train in
your Subway. It was our ambition to reach the Pole on the fifth day
after, because that was our national holiday. But we found the going too
rough. However, we celebrated the day by giving an extra
half-kilogramme of seal-meat to the dogs and a whole cup of coffee to
the men. Skaarmund had some cigarettes hidden about his person and we
smoked and took an extra hour's rest. Two days later, we were at the
Pole.

The Lady: Where no man's foot had trod before! Alone amidst that
infinite stretch of virgin snow!

The Explorer: Quite so, madam. Immediately after taking observations and
noting the temperature and the velocity of the wind, we built an igloo
and picketed the dogs. We remained there for three days, taking
additional observations, repairing the sledges, and resting up the dogs.
On the third day after we raised the flag over the Pole, we set out on
our return journey.

The Lady: What thoughts must have been yours! You were coming back with
the prize of the centuries, to find the world at your feet.

The Explorer: Exactly, madam. Not one of the dogs had failed us. Having
said farewell to the flag waving proudly at the apex of the globe, we
marched fifty-two kilometres. At the end of the march we built an igloo
and fed the dogs. At the end of the next day's march we killed two dogs:
we gave one to the other dogs, and the other we ate ourselves. It tasted
not unlike fresh veal. The following morning we had hardly commenced our
march when Malstrom cut his foot on a sharp piece of ice which
penetrated his boot. We washed his foot out with witch hazel and made
him ride for a mile or two on a sledge. The pain thereupon disappeared.
At exactly 89 degrees we built an igloo and slept for ten hours in one
stretch. Rising, we killed a dog for breakfast, took our observations,
and set out. Malstrom's foot gave him no trouble. That day we camped at
88 degrees 23 minutes, built another igloo, and killed another dog. Our
appetites were very active. On the way to the Pole we had allowed
ourselves two and one-half kilos of food per day. Now we were consuming
over four kilos a day.

The Lady: Fancy eating four kilometres a day.

The Explorer: No, madam, kilogrammes. But at the same time we were
travelling at a much faster pace; one day our record was ninety.

The Lady: That was a great deal, wasn't it, ninety kilogrammes a day?

The Explorer: No, madam, kilometres. And in this manner we arrived
safely at our winter camp. Five days later we were on board our ship, on
the way to civilisation.

The Lady: How happy you must have been!

The Explorer: We were. But perhaps madam may be interested in some of
the photographs illustrating incidents of our journey to the Pole?

The Lady: How can you ask!

The Explorer: This picture, you will see, shows our permanent camp,
situated in the midst of a snow plain stretching to the horizon in every
direction. This is a picture of the South Pole, similarly situated, you
will observe, in the midst of a snow plain stretching as far as the eye
can see. This is the sledge upon which I travelled to the Pole. The next
picture shows the same sledge viewed from the rear and a little to one
side, and this is still the same sledge as seen at a distance of 200
feet to the left and from a slight elevation. The next picture shows the
sledge with its load, and the one after that shows the load itself
resting close to the walls of an igloo which is just going up. In this
picture you see the igloo completed and with the dogs lying in front.
The next picture shows the same group of dogs with two of the leaders
missing. The next two pictures show the sledge as it was before the
accident and after. The remaining pictures deal with similar subjects.

The Lady: This has been so delightful! Do you know, your English
pronunciation is wonderful for a foreigner!

THE END





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