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Title: Idling in Italy - studies of literature and of life
Author: Collins, J. E. (Joseph Edmund), 1855-1892
Language: English
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IDLING IN ITALY



IDLING IN ITALY

STUDIES OF
LITERATURE AND OF LIFE


BY
JOSEPH COLLINS

AUTHOR OF "MY ITALIAN YEAR"


_I loaf and invite my soul_


NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
1920



Copyright, 1920, by

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


Published September, 1920

[Illustration]



  TO M. K. C.

  ... Io vengo di lontana parte,
  Dov'era lo tuo cuor.



PREFACE


Nothing obstacled my pleasure so much when I first went to Italy as
unfamiliarity with its literature. Every one who would add to his
spiritual stature and his emotional equanimity by tarry in Italy should
have some intimacy with the Bible, with mythology, and with Italian
writers, especially the poets. I sought books about books but was not
very successful in finding them. Interpretative articles on men and
books which are so common in British and American literature are
exceptional in Italy. One who is ambitious to get even a bowing
acquaintance with them must make the introduction himself. In 1918 an
enterprising Italian, Signor A. T. Formiggini, attempted to supply such
introduction by the publication of a literary review called _L'Italia
Che Scrive_, a monthly supplement to all the periodicals. He has had
gratifying success.

My purpose in publishing the essays on fictional literature in this
volume is in the hope of awakening a larger interest in America in
Italian letters and to aid in creating a demand for their translation
into English. I shall be glad if they serve to orient any one who is
bewildered by his first glance into the maze of Italian modern,
improvisional literature.

Americans go to Italy by the thousands, but very few of them take the
trouble to acquaint themselves with her history or with her ideals and
accomplishments. This is to be regretted, for proportionately as they
did that their pleasure would be enhanced and their profit increased.
Moreover, it would contribute to better mutual understanding of
Americans and Italians.

The remaining chapters are the outgrowth of experiences and emotions in
Italy during and after the war.

Some of these essays originally appeared in _The Bookman_, _Scribner's
Magazine_, and _The North American Review_, and I thank the editors of
those journals for permission to make use of them.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

I. LITERARY ITALY                                                 1

II. LITERARY ITALY (CONTINUED)                                    25

III. GABRIELE D'ANNUNZIO--POET, PILOT, AND PIRATE                 44

IV. THE FUTURIST SCHOOL OF ITALIAN WRITERS                        70

V. GIOVANNI PAPINI AND THE FUTURISTIC LITERARY MOVEMENT IN ITALY  88

VI. TWO NOISY ITALIAN SCHOOLMASTERS                               107

VII. IMPROVISIONAL ITALIAN LITERATURE OF TO-DAY AND YESTERDAY     121

VIII. FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHY AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY                       148

IX. THE LITERARY MAUSOLEUM OF SAMUEL BUTLER                       159

X. SAINTS AND SINNERS                                             173

XI. WOMAN'S CAUSE IS MAN'S: THEY RISE OR SINK TOGETHER            185

XII. POSTBELLUM VAGARIES                                          198

XIII. WORLD CONVALESCENCE                                         214

XIV. BANQUETS AND PERSONALITIES                                   236

XV. SENTIMENTALITY AND THE MALE                                   251

XVI. THE PLAY INSTINCT IN CHILDREN                                263

XVII. "IF A MAN WALKETH IN THE NIGHT, HE STUMBLETH; BUT IF HE
  WALKETH IN THE DAY HE SEETH THE LIGHT OF THIS WORLD"            277

XVIII. THE AMERICAN EAGLE CHANGES HIS PERCH                       293



IDLING IN ITALY



IDLING IN ITALY



CHAPTER I

LITERARY ITALY


There is something about the word Italy that causes an emotional glow in
the hearts of most Americans. For them Italy is the cradle of modern
civilization and of the Christian religion; the land where modern
literature and science took their faltering first steps; the garden
where the flowers of art first bloomed, then reached a magnificence that
has never been equalled; the land that after having so long agonized
under the tyrant finally rose in its might and delivered her children,
carrying the principles of personal liberty to a new and noble
elevation.

We have an admiration and affection for her that one has for a beautiful
mother whose charm and redolency of accomplishment has increased with
time.

In recent days there have been countless numbers on this western
continent who feel that Italy has not had recognition from the world of
her decision, her valor, and her accomplishment in shaping the World War
to a successful end. Their interest in her has been quickened and their
pride enhanced. They look forward with confidence to the time when she
will again have a measure of that supremacy in the field of art and
literature which once made her the cynosure of all eyes, the loadstone
of all hearts. They hope to see her on a pedestal of political, social,
and religious liberty worthy of the dreams of Mazzini, which shall be
exposed to the admiring gaze of the whole world.

Already there are indications that she is making great strides in
literature and a generation of young writers is forging ahead, heralding
the coming of a new order.

It can scarcely be expected that Italy will achieve the position she had
in the sixteenth century when Ariosto and Tasso, Machiavelli and
Guicciardini, Bandello and Aretino, Cellini and Castiglione gave to
literature an unrivalled supremacy. But it may be legitimately hoped
that Italy will give up the servile admiration and imitation of foreign
literature, and particularly of the French, which has been so evident
during the past one hundred years, and at the same time while taking
pride in her cinquecento accomplishments, even in the glories of her
romantic period, realize that the vista which appeals to the children of
men to-day is that obtained from looking forward and not backward.

I shall take a cursory glance over the literature of the nineteenth
century preparatory to a survey of that of the twentieth, and note some
trends and their significance: the dislocation of habitual ways of
looking at things, of modes of thought, and of peeps into the future
caused by the French Revolution; the outlook for the Italian people
which seemed to be conditioned by the Napoleonic occupation; the
imminence of a change in the way in which the world was likely to be
ordered and administered suggested by the fall of thrones and
governments. Such events could not fail to be reflected in the
literature, particularly in imaginative literature as parallel
conditions to-day are being reflected in literature, practically all of
which is burdened with one topic: destruction of privilege and
liberation from archaic convention that freedom and liberty shall have a
larger significance--in brief, making a new estimate of human rights.
With the powerful political and religious reaction that was manifest in
all Europe after the French Revolution there developed a kind of
contempt, indeed abhorrence, of antique art and literature because it
was pagan and republican. The deeds of men, their longings, their
aspirations, their loves, their hatreds, their melancholies; the
beauties of nature, their potencies to influence the emotional state of
man and particularly to contribute to his happiness; the liberation of
mankind from galling tyranny and the universal happiness that would flow
from further liberation were the themes of writers. These coupled with
neglect and disdain of the heroes of antiquity, mythological and actual,
caused a romantic literature which moved over Europe like an avalanche.

Italy contested every inch of the threatened encroachment upon its soil,
and one of her poets, Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803), who was most potent
in resisting it, stood out to the end for the classic ideal. The period
of his greatest mental activity and creativeness antedated the French
Revolution, and although he was in Paris when it was at its height, its
significance in so far as it is reflected in his writings was lost upon
him. The same is true of Giuseppe Parini (1729-1799), who, during the
last fifty years of the eighteenth century, had great vogue in Italy
because of a poem called "Il Giorno" ("The Day"), in which "The
Morning," "The Noon," "The Evening," and "The Night" of a Lombard
gentleman was depicted to life and satirized.

The writings of Ugo Foscolo (1776-1827), which were given far higher
rating by contemporaries than by posterity, foreshadowed the yielding of
the classic traditions. But it was not until Cesarotti published a
translation of MacPherson's "Ossian" that the floodgates of romance were
opened for Italian literature. It was published at Padua (1763-1770).
From that date imaginative and lyric literature of Italy began to devote
itself to celebrating Italy's glorious past, to anticipating its future
glories, to recounting and satirizing contemporaries, to pillorying the
crimes of the tyrants who had fastened themselves upon Italy, and to
exposing the corruptions of its governments.

Its promoters were obsessed with the idea that they must get away from
the classic traditions. They sought to avoid the stern realities of
life, its sufferings and its tragedies, and instead to depict beauty,
pleasure, and happiness. They exalted the comedy and suppressed the
tragedy of daily life.

It has often been said that Italian romantic literature had its origin
in the Società del Caffè founded in Milan in 1746. But like many other
dogmatic statements, it should not be accepted literally. "Il Caffè,"
published by the Accademia dei Pugni, was not romantic. Its iconoclastic
attitude alone toward literary tradition may entitle it to a certain
influence as a remote precursor of the romantic movement. The
publication which fought the battle for Romanticism was the
_Conciliatore_ (1818-1819). Around it was constituted the Romantic
school which produced Grossi and the others. Most of its followers in
the beginning were Lombardians, therefore under the espionage of the
Austrian Government. They were particularly Tommaso Grossi, the author
of a romance of the fourteenth century entitled "Marco Visconti," of
"Ildegonda," and "I Lombardi" (the best seller of its day), and Giovanni
Berchet, who, though of French descent, was the most Italian of
Italians, and spent a large part of his life in exile in Switzerland and
England.

Soon the Romanticists were given a political complexion--they were
resigned to their fate of being slaves to Austria--at least they were
accused of this by the classicists. In truth they were digging the
trenches in which were later implanted the bombs whose explosion put the
Austrians to flight.

The predominant figure of the romantic period was Alessandro Manzoni
(1785-1873). It is no exaggeration to say that he carried fame of
Italian letters to greater numbers of people the world over than any
writer save Dante. In 1827 he published a novel, "I Promessi Sposi"
("The Betrothed Ones"), which Walter Scott said was the best ever
written, and this opinion was seconded by Goethe. He had shown his
emancipation from classicism in two earlier plays, "Carmagnola" and
"Adelchi," but it was not until the romance above mentioned and which
earned his immortality that the romantic triumph can be said to have
occurred in Italy. The men who carried the movement forward were
Pellico, Niccolini, Grossi, D'Azeglio, Giordani, Leopardi, Giusti, and
many others.

Among these the two who have been most favored by posterity are Silvio
Pellico (1789-1854), principally because of the book in which he
described his experiences in Austrian dungeons, "Le mie Prigioni" ("My
Prisons"), and Leopardi, the intellectual giant of an arid epoch. The
immortality of the former is founded in sentiment, of the latter in
merit.

The poet who had greatest popularity in Italy at this time was Giuseppe
Giusti (1809-1850), a satirist who chose verse as his medium. Although
posterity has not given him a very high rating, his "Versi" are still
widely read in Italy. His most appealing possession was ability to
express in scannable, rememberable, singable verse what may be called
every-day sentiment, to depict simple characters whose virtues every one
would like to have, and to interlace political satires with the most
panoplied, pathetic, patriotic sentiments. There is no safer way to
sense to-day the sentiment of the first half of the nineteenth century
of Italy than to read Giusti's poems. His "All'Amica Lontana" ("To the
Friend Far Away"), "Gli Umanitari" ("The Humanitarians"), and his poems
of spleen and of dream have a sprightliness and freshness as if they
were of yesterday. Dario Niccodemi has recently borrowed the title
"Prete Pero" from one of Giusti's poems for a comedy in which is
depicted the conduct of a simple, honest, pious priest confronted with
the conflict of ecclesiastical instructions and war problems. Giusti's
brief life was a strange mixture of potential joy and actual suffering.
In the vigor of his manhood he was seized by a painful disease, and to
his sufferings was added the mental agony caused by fear of hydrophobia.

Giuseppina Guacci Nobile (1808-1848), of Naples, a contemporary of
Giusti, had great popularity as a poetess of sentiment. She sang of love
of country, of art, of husband, of children, of heaven, and when the
sadness of the times was so profound that she needs must sing of hate
she died.

Three poets of northern Italy must also be mentioned. Francesco
Dall'Ongaro, who, though born in the Friuli, went to Venice when he was
ten years old and lived for the rest of his life in the northern
provinces, had a tremendous popularity in the revolutionary period of
1848 because of a little collection of lyrics called "Stornelli";
Giovanni Prati, of Dasindo, Trent, whose permanent reputation as a poet
depends upon his ballads, became widely known through his poem
"Edmenegarda"; and Aleardo Aleardi, born at Verona in the early years of
the nineteenth century, whose best-known book, "Le Prime Storie," was
extensively read.

The pillars of the romantic movement were soon erected in Central Italy
by the writings of Leopardi, Niccolini, and Giusti.

Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) had a personality that has fastened itself
upon Italy, even unto the present day, in a most extraordinary--one
might even say, inexplicable--way. He was laconic, silent, morose,
introspective, solitary, celibate. His filial love was readily
overdrawn; he loathed his ancestral home and environment; he contended
with ill health from infancy; he was denied the understanding friend,
save one, whose behavior toward Leopardi has been criticised severely.
He wandered solitarily about central Italy wrapped in the mantle of
introspection and veiled in melancholy until 1833, when he settled at
Naples, and there he remained four years, until he had attained his
thirty-ninth year, when he died under most distressing circumstances.
Ranieri, in his "Sette Anni di Sodalizio con Giacomo Leopardi," gives
this description of Leopardi's appearance: he was of moderate height,
bent and thin, with a fair complexion that inclined to pallor, a large
head, a square, broad forehead, languid blue eyes, a short nose, and
very delicate features; his voice was modest and rather weak; his smile
ineffable and almost unearthly.

It is not easy for a foreigner to understand the exalted estimation in
which the poetry of Leopardi is held in Italy to-day. To do so one must
needs sense the spirit of the times when he lived. The "whatever is is
right" day of Pope had been succeeded by a day of tragedy the like of
which the world had perhaps never known, and things would never be again
as they were. Leopardi sung this change. He was the poet of pain and of
despair, the versifier of Schopenhauer's philosophy. He sang of
melancholy, but he was never reconciled to supine resignation. Though
classical in form, his poems are steeped with the romantic spirit.
Although a supporter of the romantic school, he scarcely can be called
an exponent or upholder of it. A familiarity with his writings is an
integral part of the education of all cultured Italians, and nearly
every schoolboy can recite parts of the poems "To Italy" or "The Quiet
after the Storm."

Leopardi considered it was harder to write good prose than good verse.
Greek thoughts were clearer and more vivid to him than Latin or Italian.
It is a pitiable picture that Ranieri draws of him in Naples, suffering
from consumption and from dropsy, unable to read, turning night into
day, having dinner at midnight to the discomfiture of the household,
having to be nursed and entertained, disliking the country, and living
in abject terror of the cholera which then raged in Naples.

De Musset praised his work. Sainte-Beuve did homage to him, and at an
early date made his name familiar to French readers. The judgment of
posterity is the one that counts and not the judgment of individuals,
and Leopardi is Italy's greatest modern poet. De Sanctis said of him:
"His songs are the most profound and occult verses of that laborious
transition called the nineteenth century." His death marked the close of
the first romantic period in Italy.

Gian Battista Niccolini (1785-1861) wrote tragedies, historical
romances, and poetry, the best known of which is "Arnaldo da Brescia."
The Florentines have erected a noble monument to his memory in their
Westminster Abbey--the church of Santa Croce.

Massimo D'Azeglio (1798-1866), diplomat, statesman, and man of letters,
played a very conspicuous part in the political and social life of his
day, and left an extraordinarily interesting account of it and of his
period in "I miei Ricordi" ("My Recollections"), which no one desirous
of acquainting himself with the social life of the risorgimento period
fails to read.

A literary production of this period which must be mentioned, not
because of its merits but because it is a sign of the times, was that of
Cesare Cantù (1804-1895), a universal history in thirty-five volumes,
which went through forty editions. It displays lucidity of statement,
sequential narrative, and finished literary technic. It was highly
partisan and not based on critical study of documentary evidence. He saw
in all Italian writers, beginning with Dante, enemies of the church and
of God. All had something false in their art which it pleased him to
reveal. Italian writers were all anti-Catholic, and classic literature
was all pagan; he excepted Manzoni, however, and himself.

Two noteworthy historic writers were V. Gioberti (1801-1852) and
Pasquale Galluppi (1770-1846), though the latter confined himself
chiefly to philosophy. No review of the literature of this period should
fail to mention Francesco de Sanctis (1817-1883), one of the most
versatile and soundest literary critics, who was assiduous in calling
the attention of his countrymen to the writings of foreigners and in
keenly analyzing and evaluating home productions, and Pasquale Villari,
the historian of Savonarola and Macchiavelli.

There were two great literary figures in the romantic triumph of Italy
of the nineteenth century, Manzoni and Leopardi, and after their death
no figure of any importance came upon the stage for upward of a
generation.

During this period--from 1830 to 1860, let us say--the rocks from which
were to gush forth the waters of liberalism were being drilled. The
times were too tense to facilitate imaginative literature, and mere
record of events was more startling and absorbing than fiction.

It was not until Giosuè Carducci (1836-1907) entered the arena and dealt
romanticism a blow, and at the same time restored classicism, that
Leopardi had a worthy successor.

To-day there is a Carducci cult in Italy. There are individuals and
groups who have the same kind of reverence for him that they or others
have for Leonardo. There is no praise for him that is too fulsome, no
adulation too great. Admirers like Panzini, Panzacchi, and Papini
ransack dictionaries and archives to find words that will convey their
devotion to him. He was a man who incited the admiration and affection
of those who came personally in contact with him. His was a sturdy
personality, which inspired confidence, generated respect, and mediated
an easy belief in his inspiration. The son of a country doctor, he was
born in a little village in Tuscany in 1836. Thus his childhood and
early youth coincided with those years in which king, pope, and emperor
seemed to vie with one another in crushing independent thought in Italy;
those years in which men dared not write, fearing their words might be
misconstrued, or, writing, were obliged to publish clandestinely. During
these years Carducci's thirst for liberty and freedom, political,
social, and religious, developed, and for a third of a century after he
had reached the age of man he externalized it in moving, majestic,
musical verse, which made known Italy's rights and aspirations, and
encouraged her loyal sons to continue their struggles.

After teaching a few years in the high schools of San Miniato and
Pistoia, during which time he published a selection of religious, moral,
and patriotic juvenile poems entitled "Juvenilia," he went to Bologna.
In 1860 he was called to the chair of Italian literature in the
University of Bologna and soon published "Giambi ed Epodi" ("Iambs and
Epodes"). In this he preached republican doctrines so openly that he
gave offense to the crown and was suspended from his position, which,
however, he soon regained.

Soon after this he published, under the pseudonym of "Enotrio Romano,"
an irreligious or materialistic poem entitled "Inno a Satana" ("A Hymn
to Satan"), which gave him great popularity. It is an invective against
the church, which through its mysticism and asceticism seeks to suppress
natural impulses and which through its intellectual censorship aims to
stifle scientific investigation. It breathed a spirit of revolt against
tyranny and privilege, especially clerical privilege, which had made
such profound growth in Italy. It inveighed against the efforts of
suppression of human rights and bespoke the culture of human reason. It
is quite impossible to read understandingly the "Hymn to Satan" without
a knowledge of mythology and Greek history. Indeed, one of the most
characteristic features of his poem is the wealth of classic allusion.
Agramiania, Adonis, Astarte, Venus, Anadyomene, Cyprus, Heloise, Maro,
Flaccus, Lycoris, Glycera are some of the names that are encountered. It
was not until the publication of his "Odi barbare" ("Barbaric Odes")
that his stride as an original poet began to be recognized. They called
forth the most vicious criticism and at first sight it would seem that
they must sink beneath the avalanche of disapproval, but in reality
Italy was ready to listen to a message couched in new form. Conventional
rhymes, easily read, easily remembered, were now to give way to rough,
sonorous lines in which rhythm took the place of rhyme and
straight-from-the-shoulder blows took the place of feints and passes.

Carducci met his critics with the "Ça ira." It is the apology of the
French Revolution and especially of the _Convention_. The title of the
sonnets comes from the famous revolutionary song of the reign of terror.
Within a brief time, namely, from 1883 to 1887, when his books entitled
"New Barbaric Odes" and "New Rhymes" were published, there were few
competent to express an opinion who did not realize that he was Italy's
most learned poet, potent in the art of appreciation, felicitous in
conveying noble sentiments and inspiring thoughts, human in his
sympathies with the simple and the oppressed, a tower of strength, a
pillar of fire. From that period until to-day Carducci's fame as a poet
has steadily gained ground in Italy, so that it is no exaggeration to
say that many accord him the crown worn by Petrarch and Tasso. Those who
fulsomely praise his memory see in him not only a poet but a learned man
who was able to strain classic erudition through his understanding mind
to such effect that the average individual could avail himself of it to
satisfaction and to advantage. They also see in him the noblest work of
God, an honest man.

His students idolized him. When they left the university and returned to
their various spheres of activity they carried his image in their hearts
and sounded his praises with tongue or pen. They made propaganda con
amore. No one is ever approved of universally in any country, probably
least of any in Italy. When Carducci published his "Alla Regina
d'Italia" ("Ode to the Queen of Italy"), one of his best--simple,
musical, redolent of reverence and affection--he aroused the fury of the
republicans, who called him traitor, and the scorn of the envious, who
called him snob.

In 1891, when he accepted a senatorship of the realm, the students of
the University of Bologna howled and jeered at him, and many of the
former students plucked or tore his image from their hearts. They had
apotheosized the Great Commoner, and they saw in this truckling to
royalty and honors weakness and vanity which they could not believe that
he possessed. Yet in 1896, when he completed thirty-five years of
service at the university, the event was celebrated for three successive
days, and the outpouring of expressions of admiration and gratitude from
colleagues and students, and from heads crowned with laurel and gold,
has scarcely ever been paralleled.

In an autobiographical sketch in the volume of "Poesie," of 1871, he
relates with great detail the way in which he broke from his early
parental teachings and acquired his new literary, political, and
religious feelings. Following his Hellenic instincts, the religious
trend in him was toward the paganism of the ancient Latin forefathers
rather than toward the spirituality that had come in with the infusion
of foreign blood. He rebelled against the passive dependence on the fame
of her great writers, in which Italy had lived in the apathy of a
long-abandoned hope of political independence and achievement. The
livery of the slave and the mask of the courtesan disgusted him. His was
the hope and joy of a nation waking to a new life. He was the poet of
the national mood.

Carducci is little known as a poet in this country. There are many
reasons why his fame has not made headway in Anglo-Saxon countries. In
the first place, he has not been extensively translated, and in the
second place, although the subject of his song was so often liberty, his
lines are so replete with erudite classic illusions that even though he
could be translated he would be found to be hard reading. But more than
all there is probably no poet whose matter loses so much of its music
and its fire by translation as Carducci. Such exquisite verses as the
"Idylls of the Lowlands," "The Ox," "The Hymn to the Seasons," "To the
Fountains of Clitumnus" are translatable. It would require a Longfellow
to do it so that they should not be emasculated.

In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature and the entire
literary world approved of the reward. Two years previously he had
resigned his professorship, and parliament voted him a pension of twelve
thousand lire a year for life, but it was of short duration, for he died
in 1907.

Mario Rapisardi, to whom a monument has been erected in his native town
of Catania, and who is known best for his tragedy "Manfredi" and his
philosophic poem, "La Palingenesi," and "Poesie religiose," was a
ferocious critic of Carducci. In his poem entitled "Lucifer" there are
many disparaging allusions to him. Rapisardi was a teacher and a poet,
but a spiritual chameleon: a devout believer, he became a radicalist; a
monarchist, he became a socialist; a romanticist, he became a
classicist. He is one of the best specimens of the old order of poets.
His "Falling Stars" and "The Impenitent" have a genuine lyric quality,
and such poems as "To a Fire-fly" have movement, rhythm, and luminosity
that are impressive.

The only poet that approximated Carducci's stature was Giovanni Pascoli
(1855-1912). Though he was a few years younger, the period of his
literary activity was contemporaneous. When Carducci died, Pascoli
succeeded him for a few years in the University of Bologna. His personal
story appealed tremendously to Italians, and he was of the masses in
appearance and sentiment. After the assassination of his father by an
unknown hand the family suffered great poverty, and as a boy the support
of two younger sisters fell upon him, and like so many of the talented
young men of Italy he accomplished it by teaching school. He was
teaching in the high school of Leghorn in 1892 when he published
"Myricae," upon which to-day his fame rests most securely. His verses
gave him an immediate celebrity, and he was soon made professor of Latin
and Greek in the University of Messina. From there he went to Pisa and
soon afterward to Bologna.

Pascoli has been called the greatest Latin poet after Virgil. Some of
the titles of his volumes are "Poemetti" ("Little Poems"), "Poemi
Conviviali" ("Convivial Poems"), "Odi e Inni" ("Odes and Hymns"), "Canti
di Castelvecchio" ("Songs of Castelvecchio"), "Nuovi Poemetti" ("New
Little Poems"), "Poemetti Italici" ("Little Poems of Italy"), "Le
Canzoni di Re Enzio" ("The Songs of King Enzio"), and an interpretative
volume of Dante entitled "Sotto il Velame" ("Beneath the Veil").

Despite the fact that he was an advanced political thinker, he taught
his students to respect the law. He was the poetical evangelist of the
humble, of the unfortunate, and of the physically venturesome. He sang
of the cravings of the soul, of the problems of existence, of Christian
acceptation, of the glory of Italy and the accomplishments of her sons.

Posterity, however, is whispering that the name most worthy to be
bracketed with Carducci is Gabriele D'Annunzio. I shall consider him in
another chapter.

There is a name in the literary annals of this period that is steadily
gaining claim to immortality. It is Giovanni Verga, the chief exponent
of the Veristic school, who was born at Catania in 1840 and is still
living. Although it is the opinion of those who are competent to judge
that his fame as a novelist is greater than that of Fogazzaro, it may
truthfully be said that he is scarcely known beyond the confines of
Italy, and even there his romances have not had the reception that they
deserve. A few years ago when I asked for a copy of "Mastro-don
Gesualdo" in the leading bookshop of Palermo and was not successful in
obtaining it, the young man with whom I talked assured me that Zuccoli
would prove to be a satisfactory substitute for Verga. If he is known at
all in this country, it is as the author of the play entitled
"Cavalleria Rusticana," upon which was composed the popular opera. He
has not been a very prolific writer--eight romances, half a dozen
volumes of short stories, and a few plays. He got the material for many
of his short stories in central and northern Italy, but most of his
romances are of his native Sicily, and the pictures of life in the
little villages and towns in the houses of the passionate peasants, in
the huts of the poverty-stricken shepherds, in the hovels of the
adventurous fishermen, and the crumbling palaces of the decayed nobles
are so realistic, so true to life, so almost photographically depicted,
that the reader feels that they are mediated by his own senses. Verga
has the supreme faculty of creating men and women that the reader has
met or would like to meet.

If realism consists in depicting people as they are and particularly
people who are battling with the stern realities of life--poverty,
illness, passions--then Verga is a great realist. The best of his
romances, though not the most popular, are "I Malavoglia" and
"Mastro-don Gesualdo." "Tigre Reale" had the greatest popularity, and
the "Storia di una Capinera" ("The Story of a Black-hood Novice"), the
most ardently romantic of all romantic stories, and "Il Marito di Elena"
("The Husband of Helen") were widely read.

"I Malavoglia" and "Mastro-don Gesualdo" were to have been succeeded by
a third volume which would complete the story of the characters unfolded
in them, but it never appeared. When we recall that only eight thousand
copies of the former have been sold in forty years, we readily
understand the artist's discouragement. Posterity is likely to link
Verga's name with Leopardi and Manzoni.

The great romance-writer of Italy during the days of her resurrection
was Manzoni. During the first and second generations of Italy's unity
the mantle of his greatness was worn gracefully and becomingly by
Antonio Fogazzaro (1842-1911). Born at Vicenza, he had the bringing-up
and education of a gentleman. His best-known books are "Daniele Cortis,"
"Piccolo Moderno Mondo" ("The Little Modern World"), "Piccolo Mondo
Antico" ("The Little Antique World"), and "Il Santo" ("The Saint").
"Daniele Cortis" is generally believed to reveal Fogazzaro's moral,
religious, and political convictions. It is a series of interesting
pictures of intimate life in the upper circles and reveals the mental
development of a man of high principles, the skeleton in whose closet is
a mother who, having side-stepped the paths of morality in her youth,
and who was lost to her son for several years, thrusts herself upon him
the very day when he has his feet securely set on the ladder whose apex
is a brilliant political career. His struggles between duty to his
mother and obligations to his country, his desire not to offend
convention or outrage morality, his love for his cousin Eleana, tame for
him but consuming to her, unhappily married to a Sicilian roué brute and
baron, are narrated in a way that seduces even the casual reader. Indeed
it is wonderfully done, and attention is sustained to the end, virtue
being finally rewarded.

"The Saint" is a psychological study of abnormal religious development.
It presented forcibly the necessity for reform of the Vatican and
ecclesiastical customs and beliefs. When it was put on the Index it
caused its illustrious author, a fervent believer and an exemplary
communicant, much pain and remorse. "Leila" continued the history of the
leading character of "The Saint." It is said that the author hoped it
would make amends for the offense that the latter had given, but it was
also put on the Index.

He wrote a volume of poetry, and many of his verses are redolent of
music and charm, such as "Ultima Rosa" ("The Last Rose") and "Amorum."
He has been more widely read in this country than any Italian writer of
fiction save D'Annunzio. He raised one slab to his memory which will
resist more than granite--"Piccolo Mondo Antico." It will be preserved
by time, and cherished for the same reason that one keeps and lauds a
marvellous picture of wife or mother, brother or sweetheart, because it
is a bit of perfection and because the owner loves it.

An extraordinary figure in Italian literature of yesterday and of the
period under discussion, was Olindo Guerrini (1845-1916), for many years
director of the University Library at Bologna. In 1878 he published a
volume entitled "Postuma" which purported to be the work of one Lorenzo
Stecchetti which caused prudish Italy to shiver, prurient Italy to
shake, and literary Italy to be enormously diverted. The "Postuma" went
through thirty-two editions in forty years, but one should not inquire
too closely the reason for this. When critics discovered that the author
was alive they assailed his immodest verses, and his responses "Nova
Polemica" added to his literary reputation. But it was not until he
published his prose writings that he displayed his real literary
stature.

"Postuma" is still read, that the reader may find something recent to
compare with the conduct of Messalina rather than for its literary
qualities. "Rime," which has no panoplied display of the author's libido
but many charming idyls, reminiscences, and vignettes is much read
to-day. Such poems as "Il Guado" ("The Ford") and "Nell' Aria" are as
redolent of sentiment and ingenuous experiences that lead to thrills as
a rose is redolent of perfume. Every schoolgirl can quote the last two
lines of the latter:

    "Ed io che intesi quel che non dicevi
    M'innamorai di te perchè tacevi."

Other poems such as "Congedo" ("Leave-taking") and "Wienerblut," after
the waltz of Johann Strauss, had great popularity at the time and were
praised by his contemporaries, but to-day it is difficult to find great
merit in them. Were one called upon to make specific comment upon his
poetry, he would have to point out the very obvious influence of Byron,
De Musset, and Heine, and to say that Guerrini in no way is comparable
with any of them. Much has been written about him as the index of the
revolt against the corrupt romanticism of the third romantic period in
Italy. He was the uncompromising foe of cant and hypocrisy in literature
and the stanch defender of realism.

Giuseppe Lipparini, an eminently fair critic, gives him a higher rating
as a writer of prose than of poetry. These include "Vita di Giulio
Cesare Croce" ("Life of Julius Cæsar Croce"), a monograph on Francesco
Patuzio, and "Bibliografia per ridere" ("The Laugher's Library").

Although there were countless poets of this period, two or three should
be mentioned, more because of the effect they had upon the public taste,
perhaps one might say public education, than for the intrinsic merit of
their writings; and of these may be mentioned Vittorio Betteloni
(1840-1910), the son of a romantic poet. His writings may be said to
have popularized the public protest against the romanticism of the third
romantic period. He also made known to many of his countrymen the poetry
of Byron and of Goethe in faithful poetic translations.

Brief mention is here made of two literary men of affairs in Italy, the
purpose being more to call attention to a type of individual who is more
often found in Italy than in any other country--the versatile,
many-sided, cultivated man of affairs who has also distinctive literary
talent.

Enrico Panzacchi (1841-1904) published a volume of lyrics, fluid,
harmonious, transparent, treating of homely, every-day subjects which
appealed very much to the public. He first became known as a writer of
seductive romances, then as an accomplished musician, afterward as a
lyric poet, then as a critic of literature, æsthetics, and philosophy.
He taught the philosophy and history of art; he was the secretary of the
Academy of Belle Arti at Bologna, for many years a deputy in Parliament,
and at one time undersecretary of state and an orator of great renown.
His reputation as a poet depends largely upon "Cor Sincerum," published
in 1902. In his versatility he reminds of Remy de Gourmont, although his
literary productions were incomparably less numerous, but in temper of
mind, literary equipment, æsthetic appetite, and general virtuosity they
are brothers.

The other is Ferdinando Martini, a governor of one of Italy's colonies,
a minister of public instruction, a deputy of long service, a poet, an
essayist, a biographer, and a traveller, the Italian Admirable Crichton.
He was born in Monsummano in 1841, and for forty-five years was without
interruption in the Chamber of Deputies. He went under in the last
election. He has published many books and articles, amongst which may be
mentioned "Nell' Africa Italiana" ("In African Italy"), but the casual
reader will get most pleasurable contact with him from "Pagine
Raccolte." He is an excellent example of the cultured man in public life
in Italy. His prose integrates the aroma of the classics, while at the
same time his sympathies and interests bring his subjects up to the
minute. His writings have a pragmatic as well as an æsthetic quality.
None of them has the air of preachings. He knows how to be profound
without being heavy and learned without being pedantic. For him
literature has not been an æsthetic exercise or a statement of human
rights and human needs. Prospective admirers should not study too
closely his political career.

Death has claimed nearly all of the conspicuous figures of literature in
the period of the risorgimento. One who had a strange tenacity of life,
which he but recently yielded, was Salvatore Farina, whose first
romances, "Un Segreto" ("A Secret") and "Due Amori" ("Two Loves"), were
published more than fifty years ago. He was, perhaps, the truly
representative writer of the Piccolo Borghese in the generation that
followed Italy's unity. In the fifty or more volumes that he published
(the last of which appeared in 1912 and was called the "Second Book of
the Lovers") he portrayed a variety of romanticism which was the
outgrowth of the struggle between the drab and commonplace realities of
life and the fantastic dreams of simple-minded persons who thought that
life would be ideal if it could be fashioned after their own plans. He
was the novelist of sickly sentiment, the most slavish disciple that
Samuel Richardson ever had. Students of Italian literature will read his
two reminiscent volumes called "La mia Giornata," the first published in
1910, the second in 1913, to get a picture of the literary doings of one
of the grayest and most uncertain periods of modern Italian literature.
He is mentioned here merely to note the tremendous popularity which his
writings had, and to call attention to the fact that they left no
impression upon the times and that the type of novel which they
represent has practically now disappeared the world over.



CHAPTER II

LITERARY ITALY

(CONTINUED)


Among the interesting literary figures of the old school still living is
Renato Fucini, whose pen-name is Neri Tanfucio. He is now nearly eighty
years old, and for some years has been living in a small town not far
from Florence, writing his recollections. In college he studied civil
engineering, but he soon forsook it and secured employment in the office
of the Municipal Art Direction in Florence. Later he taught Italian in
the technical school at Pistoia and after that was several years an
inspector of rural schools. It was during these years of wandering
through Tuscany that he got the intimate knowledge of its simple,
industrial, pleasure-loving people, peasant and poacher, landlord and
inspector, teacher and pupil, that he has embodied in his stories and in
his burlesque, tragic, and sentimental verses.

His fame rests on his dialect poetry ("Poesie"), chiefly in sonnet form,
in which he depicts the virtues and vices, the licenses and inhibitions,
the hopes and the despairs, of his fellow Tuscans, at the same time
embodying delightful descriptions of their charming, romantic land; and
a few small volumes of prose, all little masterpieces--"Napoli a occhio
nudo" ("Naples to the Naked Eye," letters written to a friend about that
enchanting city two generations ago when it was still plunged in the
misery of its protracted predatory misrule and the majority of its
inhabitants were reduced to a deplorable state); "All' Aria Aperta" ("In
the Open Air"), scenes and incidents of life among the common people of
Tuscany; and "Le Veglie di Neri" ("Fireside Evenings of Neri"), which
showed him a man of heart and of mind supremely capable of transforming
the messages of the former by the latter in such a way as to make great
appeal to his fellow beings. His books can be read to-day with the same
pleasure that they were read half a century ago, and the pictures which
are painted, particularly in the former, are as vivid as the day they
were first put on the canvas.

Fucini is a type that is indigenous to central Italy, by nature a lover
of the fields, the forest, the brooks, he was compelled from earliest
infancy to earn his living, and he seemed to be content with a bare
sustenance, getting pleasure from his wanderings and from books. He did
on foot and more intimately what Signore Panzini has done on a bicycle
or on way trains. As an inspector of country schools he was obliged to
visit countless villages and hamlets, and there he found in the habits,
customs, and conduct of their inhabitants material for comment and
reflections such as most people find in new countries and large cities.
His descriptions of them found sympathetic response in the hearts of
many who see in the lives of these simple yet sophisticated people the
romance of bygone days.

Fucini has not cut a great figure in Italian letters, but any one who
would get a familiarity with the literature of the early days of Italian
unity, or who is in search of diversion and delight should not neglect
him. He is a sympathetic figure, whether wandering through Tuscany,
bending over a table in the Riccardi Library, or awaiting his cue at
Empoli.

A writer of this period to whom posterity is likely to give a high
rating is Alfredo Oriani, who died in 1907. His fame will finally rest
on his fiction rather than on his historical contributions. Though "La
lotta politica in Italia" ("The Political Struggle in Italy"), from 486
to 1877 in three volumes, is a creditable performance, it is not based
on personal research. Malignant-minded critics have occupied themselves
with proving him a pilferer, but the work is done with such consummate
literary skill that he has put the reading world under obligations to
him.

His first books, "Memorie inutili" ("Useless Memories"), "Sullo Scoglio"
("On the Reefs"), and "Al di la, no" ("The Next World, No"), revealed
such unbridled license of morbid tendencies that even Italians could not
stomach them. He appeared to them a romanticist after the manner of
Guerrazzi, addicted to the Macabre, subject to satanic inspiration,
bombastic, and rhetorical.

When Oriani took up a second phase of his writing in the period from
1880 to 1890 the reading public still continued to mistrust him.
Although he brought his spirit to a more stable equilibrium, he carried
upon himself the stigma that clung to him in consequence of his previous
books, and such productions as "Il Nemico" ("The Enemy"), "Incenso e
Mirra" ("Incense and Myrrh"), "Fino a Dogali" ("Up to Dogal"),
"Matrimonio e divorzio" ("Marriage and Divorce"), did not absolve him
from previous sins.

His turgid style was more objected to than his taints and his themes,
and his aggressiveness and political arrogances found greater opposition
than his early decadent manner and his late negations in religious
matters. He was accused of being a plagiarist. His greatest work "Lotta
Politica" was characterized by a critic, L. Ambrosina, to be wholly
devoid of originality. His "Momo" was called an imitation of
Turgénieff's "A Neighbor's Bread." His "L'Invincibile" was derived from
"Andrea Cornelis" of Paul Bourget, and the "Ultimi Barbari" ("The Last
Barbarians") from Verga's "Pagliacci" and the "Cavalleria Rusticana."

Thus beset, Oriani, despairing of recognition, gathered his strength for
a final flight and strove to reach heights never reached before, and he
wrote "The Political Struggle," "Holocaust," and "Ideal Revolts."

"The Holocaust" is a study of mother and daughter. The mother has, from
leading a wayward life, been able to keep body and soul together until
middle age has effaced her charms. Reduced to hunger and rags, she
decides to sacrifice her fifteen-year-old daughter and offers her to the
first stranger whom she encounters walking beside the Arno one evening;
she takes him to her contemptible rooms where the emaciated and ragged
child awaits, in ignorance of her mission, the mother.

The young man of the self-made and aggressive type primed with animal
spirits hesitates to be the instrument of the mother's monstrous
designs, and hurls himself from the house when he realizes the
situation, leaving the contents of his purse with the crushed little
flower. The inhuman mother and a friend even more saturated in iniquity
spend the money in an improvised banquet and plan how they shall take
the child to the home of a well-known procuress. Their object is
realized when this is accomplished and the mother receives a small sum
of money, but the child, not having been cut out for the life, soon
escapes. A narrative of her experiences, a picture of her suffering, the
conflict between filial love and justifiable resentment, is set forth in
page after page of psychological analysis. From the violence of the
encounter flow simultaneously mortal disease and pregnancy. The former
gives the author an opportunity to depict the child mind in rebellion
against both bodily and spiritual salvation. The ministrations of the
church are done with great finesse, kindliness, and skill, and give much
satisfaction to believers. This may be the author's votive offering to
the church, or it may reflect a new illumination of his soul. When the
heroine dies the mother realizes her sin in having borne the child and
in having betrayed her.

It would be difficult to imagine anything more disagreeable than the
story. The only thing that can be said is that it is well told, but what
does it advantage one to read it? As Henry James said, no one is
compelled to admire any particular sort of writing, but surely there
must be compulsion to make one write them. And as Flaubert, whom Oriani
probably called master, wrote: "Such books are false; nature is not like
that."

Oriani lived a singularly isolated life, having little contact with his
fellow workers and little recognition. But he was a thinker and
idealist, and it is unfortunate that he did not choose more attractive
media to present his thought and project his aspirations. Only after his
death did he begin to get any measure of appreciation. The four wars
against Austria, the final charge against the Alps, foreseen and invoked
by Oriani, were the conditions of his recognition by the Italian people.

The most widely read of all Italian writers of this period was Edmondo
de Amicis (1846-1908). His books, "Bozzetti Militari" ("Military Life"),
which appeared shortly after his period of service in the army, and the
book for boys entitled "Cuore" ("Heart"), had a tremendous sale and
still have. They were also widely read outside of Italy. He wrote many
books of travel, some poetry, literary portraits, and short stories.
However, he made no particular impression upon the literary period of
his time.

Guido Mazzoni, born in 1859, was, and perhaps still is, professor at the
University of Florence. He has been for many years secretary of the
Crusca and senator of the realm. His critical work is "L'Ottocento." His
poetry is of the familiar variety. "Sewing-machine" is one of them. He
is an excellent example of the culture of the Italians, but he has made
no lasting impression upon Italian letters. He is best known in this
country from Papini's gibes at him and at the Crusca. His recent
contributions, "The Lament of Achilles" and "Con Gli Alpini" ("With the
Alpini"), are of the eminently respectable, commendable, poet-laureate
variety, called forth by valorous deeds of Italy's soldier sons.

Nothing shows the flight from romanticism to realism that took place at
the end of the nineteenth century so clearly as its stage literature.
The dominating figure of that period was Giuseppe Giacosa. He was not
alone the most prolific contributor to the literature of the theatre,
but a man who early excited and kept the admiration and affection of
fellow artists. He can truthfully be called the literary mirror of that
period in Italy.

The lamp of enthusiasm was flickering when he first put secure steps
upon the literary road, but it lighted him to a great success in "Una
Partita a Scacchi" ("A Game of Chess"). Then the car of realism came
along with a rush, as if it would carry everything in its wake, and he
threw a great bouquet into the tonneau in the shape of "Surrender at
Discretion." But his ear was always to the ground, and, when he sensed
the advent of a new literary period and learned of the existence of
readers that did not know just what they wanted but thought they would
like to have the truth, the naked truth of life as depicted in fiction,
he wrote "Sad Loves." But the Veristic period did not last long, and
Giacosa took leave of it without a tear. Pascoli and D'Annunzio had not
only entered idealistic realism in the literary race, but they were
shouting in the most vociferous way for the latter especially to win.
When Giacosa became fully cognizant of the favorite colors he was quick
to make his entry with "As the Leaves" and "Il Più Forte" ("The
Stronger").

The play to which he owed his first success, "A Game of Chess," had a
remarkable career in Italy, and it still makes leading appeal to
extravagant youth and romantic maturity, who see, in the lovely Iolande
or in the dashing Fernando, prototypes who solve perplexing problems of
life with an ease and readiness that is soul-satisfying. They also see
in their experiences the smouldering or dying embers of their own
passions, whose articulate breathings cause them to glow consumingly and
pleasantly.

Its success turned the author from law, which he despised, to
literature, which he adored.

His next play, "Il Trionfe d'Amore" ("The Triumph of Love"), was along
the same lines: life without sorrow or strife save such as make
pleasure--which bulks large in life--sweeter. Within a few years Giacosa
began to depict life as it really was, is, or should be, and the first
indication of it was "Il Conte rosso" ("The Red Count"), and for a
decade he gave himself to the production of historical plays none of
which can be used to-day as a wreath on the monument to his memory. It
was not until he wrote "Resa a Discrezione" ("Surrender at Discretion"),
that he came into the field which he finally tilled so profitably,
holding up to the contemptuous, scornful gaze of the people the useless,
iniquitous, pernicious existences of a certain class, the noble. In this
he did the same thing that he had done in his masterpiece, "As the
Leaves." But here he portrayed flesh and blood confronted with problems
conditioned by life, called chance. Instead of desperation and whetted
appetite for sensuous appeasement, we see latent character budding and
flowering under the stimulus of adversity; virtue which does not lose
its aroma from enforced tarry in putrid milieu; the deadly sins, rooted
in ancestral emotions and nurtured by environment displayed in the
conduct of human beings of our acquaintance and our intimacy; we see the
exaltation and the deprecation of viciousness just as we see it and
accomplish it in real life. The literary features of the lines, the
crispness and naturalness of the dialogue, the fidelity with which he
reflected the handling of problems likely to confront any one show the
finished artist.

Giacosa was a conspicuous literary figure of yesterday's Italy, friend
of poets and philosopher, journalist, essayist, lecturer, man of the
world, mirror of one side of its mental and emotional activity.

Next to Verga the Verists found their chief exponent in Luigi Capuana, a
Sicilian born in 1839 and still living. He wrote romances, short
stories, plays, and criticisms, none of which save the latter had great
vogue, though one of his plays, "Malia" ("Enchantment"), gave such
offense to Mrs. Grundy that it had great popularity. Like Verga he knows
his countrymen and women, particularly their emotional reactions and the
conduct conditioned by it, by their inheritancy, and by their
environment. Many of his short stories are gems of construction and of
narrative. For instance, "Passa l'Amore," in "Il buon Pastore" ("The
Good Pastor"), is a masterly delineation of the struggle between what is
usually called good and evil in the person of a saintly old priest. Love
had been an abstract conception for the good pastor until he essayed to
reclaim a lamb who had been driven from the fold by the efforts of a
cruel father intensively to prepare her for sacrifice at the hands of
Cavalier Ferro. Perhaps if Capuana had not been content with merely
interesting and diverting the public, as he counselled Bracco to be, and
had tried to teach them and lead them he would have greater renown. As
it is he is one of the best short-story writers of Italy, a discerning,
trustworthy critic, who has written an interesting volume of studies in
contemporary literature, and several plays, the last of which, "Il
Paraninfo" ("The Best-man"), has recently been published. Nevertheless
he must be considered a writer whose potentialities were but partially
realized.

Two realistic writers of the end of the nineteenth century must be
mentioned, though their work scarcely merits discussion and to do so may
be unjust to others. They are Gerolamo Rovetta and Marco Praga. Although
the former wrote criticisms, interpretations, and romances, some of
which had much success, the contributions by which he is best known are
his plays. Rovetta studied contemporary life and depicted it for the
stage. His first success, the one upon which his reputation as a man of
letters most solidly rests, "La Trilogia di Dorina" ("Dorina's
Trilogy"), presents the public pie, upper and lower crust and middle,
quite as Zola might have made it. His favorite theme was that man is but
a reaction to his environment, expounded particularly in "I Disonesti"
("Dishonest Men"), though his greatest popular success was
"Romanticismo" ("Romanticism"), which was a contribution to "idealistic
reaction" which would turn us from ugly verities of life. It has been
said by competent authorities to be a faithful presentation of public
and private sentiment existing in northern Italy previous to her
deliverance from tyrannical Austria.

Marco Praga is the son of Emilio Praga, who was the best-known Bohemian
poet of Italy in his day (1839-1875), but who abandoned writing to teach
dramatic literature in the Conservatory of Music in Milan. He professes
to be the dramatic mirror held up to life and to tell the truth as he
sees it, that he cannot be persuaded to camouflage it, and that when it
is depicted on the stage it shall amuse rather than distress. That is
what makes his most successful plays, such as "Le Vergini" ("The
Virgins") and "La Moglie Ideale" ("The Ideal Wife"), depressing reading.
Such conduct as they depict and such exchange of thought and sentiment
as they report undoubtedly exist, but the less one knows of it and comes
in contact with it the happier he or she is likely to be. If adultery
could only be made a virtue for a few years, it would lose its
attractiveness and many writers would have to earn their living.

At the end of the nineteenth century Italy had three women poets of much
distinction, one of whom, Ada Negri, had and still has great popularity.
Her last book of poems, "Il libro Di Mara" ("The Book of Mara"), has
shown that she still has the capacity to put into verse dramatically and
lyrically the most delicate and the most dominant notes of love as she
or as those she has loved has experienced it. She was born in a little
village of Lombardy in 1870. Her mother worked in a factory, and she
herself was for some years a teacher in the elementary schools; so she
had first-hand knowledge of the shut-in life of those whose repressions
and aspirations she sung and published in _L'Illustrazione Popolare_ of
Milan. In these she set forth with great sincerity and with stirring
lyric quality the sordid sufferings and sorrows of the toiling masses.
These poems and others were published under the titles of "Fatality" and
"The Tempest" in 1892 and 1894. Two years later a radical change in her
social and spiritual environment was brought about by her marriage to
Signor Garlanda, and soon she sang of it in a volume called "Maternity,"
which does for that state what her previous volumes had done for human
pain and human poverty. "Dal Profondo" ("From the Depths") was but a
continuation of these sentiments, tinctured with philosophical and
socialistic knowledge that had been displayed for other purpose in "The
Tempest." After this came a volume entitled "Esilio" ("Exile"), which
reflected the same thoughts and sentiments in Swiss light. She has
written two prose works, a series of short stories entitled "Le
Solitarie" and "Orazioni" ("Orisons"). She glorifies purity, idealizes
it, and sings its adoration.

In the closing years of the century there was published in Milan a
volume of lyrics by one Annie Vivanti, which was praised intemperately
by Carducci and by the _Nuova Antologia_. She had some fiction to her
credit which dealt chiefly with the life of the stage, but her advent
into the world of letters was like a shooting star; nothing was known of
her origin save that she was said to have been born in London, and there
was some mystery about her career. In her poetry there was a true lyric
wail, especially in "Destino" ("Destiny"), "Non Sarà mai" ("It Can Never
Be"), that appealed tremendously to the public mind. Had she been
productive she might have been compared to Ella Wheeler Wilcox. After
her marriage to Mr. Chartres, a London journalist, she became better
known as the mother of a child-wonder violinist. Amongst her romances
the one which had greatest popularity was entitled "I Divoratori" ("The
Devourers"). It is obviously the story of her life and of her daughter's
career, the record of filial shortcomings steeped in wormwood.

The third of these interesting writers, half Armenian, half Italian, was
Vittoria Aganoor, who was born in Padua in 1855. In 1900 she published a
volume called "Leggenda Eterna" ("Eternal Legend"), which showed her to
be a sincere, impassioned artist with a pronounced leaning toward the
sentimental. She died in London in the spring of 1910, after a surgical
operation, and a few hours later her husband, Guido Pompili, killed
himself. Her best-known poems are "Il Canto dell' Ironia" ("The Song of
Irony"), "La vecchia Anima sogna ... " ("The Old Soul Dreams"), "Mamà,
sei tu?" ("Mother, Is It Thou?"). A complete volume of her poetry was
published in 1912.

Italians are astonished when women make a great stir in the world. They
have had no Jeanne d'Arc or Florence Nightingale. Their historic women
have been mostly mystics who would punish the flesh that they might
become spiritually pure, but the generation that is now passing has had
five women, four at least of whom will have to be discussed by any
historian of the intellectual movement in the latter half of the
nineteenth century. They are Matilde Serao, Grazia Deledda, Maria
Montessori, Eusapia Palladino, and Eleanora Duse, and most space will be
given to Duse.

Matilde Serao is the Marie Corelli of Italy with one important
qualification. She has not been obliged to subscribe to the rigors of
convention. She has spoken with great frankness about whole sides of
life which Miss Corelli knows, but about which she has been compelled to
be silent. Not that the romances of Matilde Serao are in any sense
pornographic, but she has painted her subjects so vividly and registered
her sensations and impressions so sumptuously that they are considered
very improper by Mrs. Grundy. She was in turn school-teacher,
telegraphist, journalist, publisher, author, but throughout her writings
she has kept the note of the journalist who has made a careful study of
Zola and of Flaubert. Her thought is spontaneous, her expression facile,
as she depicts the emotions and "feelings" of her Neapolitan characters,
clad in rags or royal raiment, living in hovel or in palace.

Her most successful books were "La Storia di un Monaco," "Il Ventre di
Napoli" ("The Belly of Naples"), "Il Paese della Cuccagna" ("The Land of
the Cockaigne"), and "Terno secco" in which the social, economic, and
political world of Naples is revealed. With the third of those
enumerated she tried to do for lottery-gambling in Naples what Charles
Dickens did for the private schools of England. Regrettably her efforts
did not have a similar result.

In her Neapolitan stories the local color is not a mere background, but
the very marrow of their being, with the result that it is almost
impossible to reproduce it adequately in translation. Her later books
were always pictures of the professional lover in different
environments. He loves with fury and usually for a short time only. His
amatory conduct has no ancillæ of Anglo-Saxon love-making. It is taurine
and satyric. He does not always kill after the embrace, but one gathers
from his conduct that he would like to do so. Time has tempered Matilde
Serao's erotic literary coefficient and her last books are cool, more
serene, and less interesting. One of her last books, "Ella non rispose,"
has recently been translated into English under the title of "Souls
Divided."

Grazia Deledda has done for her native island of Sardinia that which
Signora Serao did for Naples, but to a great extent she kept lubricity
out of her writings. In her "Il Vecchio della Montagna" ("The Old Man of
the Mountain"), "La Via del Male" ("Road to Evil"), "Cenere" ("Ashes"),
"Nostalgia," "L'Incendio nell' Uliveto" ("The Burning in the Olive
Grove"), and many others, she depicted with wondrous accuracy the life,
feelings, struggles, ambitions, infirmities of the Sardinians, and
painted their sordid surroundings and glorious scenery. She did for that
wonderful island, so strangely neglected by the mother country, what
Mary Wilkins did for New England. Her imagination was never so vivid nor
was her eye so penetrating as that of her Neapolitan sister, nor has she
known the voluptuous side of life, seamy or embroidered, but she has
known how to put down in a way that engrosses the reader's attention the
pitiable and pathetic plights that circumstance and passion force upon
the people with whom she lives. The display of their passions and
sorrows are apparently as familiar to her as the landscapes.
Unfortunately, however, she does for them that which she does for the
latter. She idealizes them or, better said, she strains them through her
imagination. In other words, instead of recording them as they are she
records them as they should be. Her novels give the impression of being
photographic until you read Verga. Not that the breath of insincerity
which Croce said was the curse of Italy's modern writers comes from her.
She is most sincere, but her characters are sandman manikins into whose
nostrils she has breathed the breath of life. She makes her characters
do what she might do if she were one of them.

Whether she is tugging at the end of her intellectual tether or not
remains to be seen, but her recent work has not the spontaneity and
imaginativeness of her earlier books and she is almost obsessed with
describing landscapes, the advent and departure of the sun, and
stage-settings generally. Her last story, "The Burning in the Olive
Grove," is a conflict between the present and the past, and turns upon a
marriage of convention. It gives the author the opportunity to depict
the imperious eighty-three-year-old grandmother, her useless brother,
the farm lassie whose worldly success in marrying into a family above
her station she owes to her beauty, and a pillar of feminine virtue who
would live her own life in her own way despite the schemings of the
grandmother of feudalistic behavior. The scene is filled with character
studies which she likes so well: the old soldier of Garibaldi's legion,
his lame son whom the heroine loves, and virtuous heroic peasantry.

Several of Grazia Deledda's novels have been translated into English,
but they have not had great success. She is one of the last of the
realistic idealizers. The most her admirers can hope that the future
will do for her is that it will suggest to those in search of Sardinian
color that they should consult her writings. Neither the psychologist
nor the literary craftsman will disturb her literary remains.

The most promising successor of these women novelists is Clarice
Tartufari, whose "Rete d'Acciaio" ("Nets of Steel") is a powerful though
painful study of the Sicilian brand of jealousy.

Arturo Graf (1848-1918), for many years a professor in the University of
Turin, was a materialistic poet whose productions during his lifetime
were received with some favor and are now being given high rating.
Fifteen years ago a very flattering review of his dramatic poems,
especially "Medusa," appeared in the _Nuova Antologia_, and recently
Signor Vittorio Gian has published in _Gazetta di Torino_ an analysis of
his mental processes and an estimate of the merit and significance of
his poetical productions which, should they find general acceptance, may
give Graf the most important position in the poetic field since Pascoli.
Neither his intellectual reactions nor his point of view, however, is
Italian. They show both his Teutonic origin and inclinations. His last
verses, "Nuove Rime della Selva" ("New Rhymes of the Forest"), are full
of delightful imagery, delicate fantasy, and gentle sentiment and they
do not display the materialism, pessimism, or the figurative symbolism
of his early works. In 1900 he published a psychological romance
entitled "Riscatto" ("Redemption"), admittedly a spiritual autobiography
which heralded and prepared his after-faith, which was thus also a
battle for a faith against materialistic pessimism, against arid
positivism which had seduced him and against which he reacted. "He who
seeks God laboriously may become more religious than he who coddles Him
in the firm belief of having found Him." His book of poems published in
1895 is the poet's voicings of his struggle to this end. His fame is
greater as a dramatist and litterateur than as a poet. Nevertheless some
of his poetical writings show a rare imagery, a facile capacity for
description and versification, though a pessimistic psychology. His
best-known poems are entitled "Venezie" ("Venices"), "Le Rose sono
sfiorite" ("Faded Roses"), "Silenzio" ("Silence"), "Anelito"
("Longings"). Gian says of him: "He did not attain in his career as
teacher, writer, and poet that outward recognition that fame and fortune
usually bestow on their favorites," but as a recompense "he was honored
with such hatreds as are never the lot of mediocrities and which for
this very reason are the sanction and almost the guaranty of true
worth."

Much of the interesting literature of the past generation has appeared
in dialect, especially the poetic literature.

Salvatore di Giacomo must be put at the head of all dialectical poets of
Italy. He is very little known to English readers, because he has been
so little translated, save into German. He is the librarian of the
National Library of the Naples Museum. The subjects of his poems are
drawn from Naples and its people, its beauty and their ardency; the
realism of his verse is sober, its sentiments are healthy and true to
human nature but to the human nature of a voluptuous, passionate people.
He writes of love in all its aspects, and of death, physical, emotional,
and mental. He knows the hopes, aspirations, sympathies, longings,
customs of his fellow Neapolitans; he knows them when they are ill, when
they are happy, and when they are depressed, when they are fortunate and
when they are seeped in misfortune, and he puts them into lyrics that
they understand and that poetasters praise.

His lyrics have been collected into one volume called "Poesie." He has
been called the Robert Burns of Italy, and it is likely that he deserves
it. It is to be regretted that no one has attempted to render him in
English.

An Italian poet neglected and almost unknown during his lifetime
(1872-1919), whose literary output was very small, is slowly coming to
his estate and it is not unlikely that the coming generation will hail
Ceccardo Roccatagliata-Ceccardi as one of Italy's greatest modern poets.
"Sonetti e Poemi" contains practically all of his verse save a small
collection published when he was twenty.



CHAPTER III

GABRIELE D'ANNUNZIO--POET, PILOT, AND PIRATE


The most conspicuous name in the annals of Italian literature of the
generation now passing is that assumed by a child or a youth when the
voice first whispered to him that he had been chosen to announce the
coming of a new era, to blaze the way for a new social and national
life: Gabriele D'Annunzio. He was born at Pescara in the Regno, March
13, 1863, the son of Francescopaolo D'Annunzio and of his wife, Luisa de
Benedictis of Ortona. A studied effort has been made to envelop his
birth and parentage in a mantle of mystery, but it has been thwarted.

One day of his infancy, in Ferravilla-on-the-Sea, suddenly there came a
sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind. From that moment the
little Annunciator was filled with the gift of verbal expression. He
enhanced the endowment by diligent study in the high school at Prato, in
Tuscany, where he spent his boyhood. Thus did he acquire an unparalleled
mastery of the Italian language. The gods of mythology, the Hellenic
heroes and philosophers, the emperors and courtesans of Pagan Rome were
the loves of his infancy. After Carducci's "Odi Barbari" exploded his
poetic magazine he looked about to find a god and a Greek upon whom to
model his conduct. He recalled Dionysus going through the world with
Priapus ostentatiously displaying the Phallus, and the die was cast.

But he must have a philosophy as well. He who taught that eternal flux
and change is the only actuality; that all phenomena are in a state of
continuous transition from non-existence to existence and vice versa;
that everything is and is not; all things are and nothing remains; that
all things must be reduced by way of quasi-condensation to the primary
matter from which they originated, in brief--Heraclitus, whose name
signified "he who rails at the people," was the one that he selected.
The process of quasi-reduction was to be preceded by purification
through pleasure, and pleasure was to be obtained by stimulation of the
senses. The more they were stimulated the greater became their potency
for purification. When he looked about the world he found others had
been seduced by Heraclitus. Nietzsche, whose activity preceded
D'Annunzio's by a few years, was the most conspicuous exponent of the
Eternal Recurrence. He too taught a master morality, a morality which
says yea to life and nay to morals, rules, and conventions. Christianity
is the moral code of slaves. Instinct is the true wisdom. The genesic
instinct is the basis of all other instincts. Therefore cultivate it,
for in that way one becomes a superman and begets a race of supermen. If
we must have a statue of Apollo, as Socrates and Christ taught, let us
make it a feminine figure and place it beside Dionysus, first erected by
animal men, and around them let us dance a frenzied tarantella while we
intoxicate ourselves with foaming wine, the product of sensuous
fermentation.

No attempt will be made here to put an estimate upon D'Annunzio's
conduct or his accomplishments of the past five years, save to say that
they have been in keeping with his previous life.

Literary criticism is concerned with the genius of the writer and the
way in which he makes that genius manifest. It is not concerned with the
morals or immorality of his writing, and yet it has to take some
cognizance of them, especially if they are at variance with that which
is considered moral or approximately moral. No one who is a public
figure or whose activities are concerned with the welfare of the public,
whether it be with their diversion, instruction, or protection, can
comport himself in a way that is flagrantly offensive to the public
without showing the effect of it in his writings. For instance, a writer
produces a masterpiece of literature, one that has qualities of
conception and construction that evoke universal admiration. It has been
written for one of three reasons, or all of them. First, because the
artist has it in him and he must externalize it, a creative craving that
must be satisfied; second, he has a purpose in doing it--he wants to
amuse, amaze, or instruct people; third, he wants to gain fame or money.

If he is utterly oblivious to the two last, his writings may be as
immoral or unrighteous as he wishes to make them. If the public does not
wish to read them it need not, and if it considers them injurious to
others whose mental capacity does not enable them to judge whether they
are proper or injurious they can be suppressed. If, however, the writer
is animated to production by either of the latter two motives, he must
be reconciled to having an estimate made of his work not only from the
point of view of literary criticism, but also from the point of view of
the fitness of his works for literary consumption. That is, he must be
reconciled to attempts at estimating whether or not the world would not
have been better off without his writings.

There are few writers to whom these remarks apply with greater force
than Gabriele D'Annunzio. It is generally admitted that he is the most
consummate master of Italian verse now living. Though his prose writings
show that he is not a literary craftsman of the first order, he has
understood that art rises out of our primal nature and that it is
instinctive. He has sung the praises of sensualism as they never have
been sung in modern times, and he has panoplied the preliminaries to
love's embrace with garlands made of flowers of forced blooming,
artificially perfumed and colored so that the average human being does
not recognize them as products of nature. He has preached and practised
a moral code the antithesis of Christianity, and yet no one has sought
seriously to save his soul.

In truth, D'Annunzio had tired the world of him. The people of it were
tired of him as they might have been of a radiantly beautiful woman who
had become a gorgeously decorated strumpet constantly walking up and
down in the world seeking praise and admiration. When he went to Paris
the world seemed to be satisfied that he should disappear in that
maelstrom, as it was willing that a contemporary sensuous egocentrist
should disappear when he left Reading Gaol, but D'Annunzio must enter
upon the final stage of his mission from the gods, and the Great War
gave him the opportunity.

Although so long a conspicuous figure in the public eye, he has managed
to wrap certain layers of the mantle of mystery about him so closely
that little is known of his origin or of the forces that contributed to
the making and development of his extraordinary career. It is
confidently stated by those who pretend to know him that he is a Jew,
but he is not claimed by Hebrew writers, who are proud of enrolling
Bergson and Brandes, Spinoza and Strauss in their list. Vainly offering
his life for Italy, he is not somatically, mentally, or emotionally an
Italian. Knowing her history, her traditions, and her reactions as few
of her sons have known them, until the war he had not sung her virtues
or mirrored her wondrous accomplishments of nation-building. His face
has steadily been turned not toward the east, where the sun of her glory
is arising, but toward the west, where he has revelled in the
resurrected glows of sunsets of pagan and Renaissance days. He has
treated his friends disdainfully when it suited his whim; he has meted
out contumely to his adulators when it pleased his fancy; he has
disdained those who have accused him; he has passed unnoticed those who
have sought to belittle him; and he has gone among his superiors as if
he were their king. He has been called everything save Philistine and
fool. He has been called the greatest literary figure of modern Italy
and it is likely that he merits it.

He is a poet, novelist, dramatist, journalist, politician, critic,
propagandist, prophet, aviator, hero, dictator, and self-constituted
arbiter of Italy's destinies.

Neither his peer nor his superior has ever denied him a rare
imagination, an artistic intelligence of extraordinary range, depth and
exquisiteness, a stupendous versatility and productiveness, a tireless
energy, a fearless daring and a supreme contempt for the feelings,
beliefs, and accomplishments of others.

There are two ways of approaching an estimate of D'Annunzio. One is to
analyze him--to set him up as a god or a monster and to dissect him and
study the elements of his complex mechanism, then put them together
patiently and laboriously as one puts together a jigsaw picture-puzzle.
It is the tempting way, but it risks injuring the sensibilities of his
admirers and the judicially minded who are so constituted that they
cannot pass judgment unless they are in possession of all the facts
concerning him and his career: what he did and the circumstances
attending the doing of them, that is, the environment in which they were
done--both that which he created and that which was thrust upon him.
Finally they want to view him in rest and in action. Then they are ready
to render a verdict in much the same way as a jury renders a verdict
with or without the analysis and summing up of the testimony and
evidence by proponent or opponent advocate. The way of synthesis would
be the way to approach an interpretation of D'Annunzio if the man were
under discussion, but here only an estimate of his literary career is
attempted.

There is no dearth of evidence to show that he was a precocious child
and a youth of prodigious intellectual acumen and prehensility, of
boundless self-confidence and fathomless egocentrism. His first
collection of verse, "Primo Vere" ("First Beginnings"), was published
when he was fifteen years old, and two years later he published a second
edition "corrected with pen and fire and augmented." From the beginning
it was pointed out by critic and commentator that he plagiarized line
and verse from poets of Italy, such as Giambattista Marino, Niccolo
Tommaseo, and Giosuè Carducci, and of other countries; but if the
accusations made any impression upon him it was not evident in his
future conduct, for later he took from Verga and Capuana, from Nietzsche
and Tolstoy, from Maeterlinck and Flaubert, from Ibsen and Dostoievsky,
and from countless others that which it pleased him to take.

His fame in Italy as a poet was heralded by the poet Giuseppe Chiarini,
who published an article which did for him what Octave Mirabeau's
article in the _Figaro_ of August 24, 1890, did for Maeterlinck. Before
he had reached his maturity he was hailed as the coming poet, whose
originality was admirable, whose sensuality was shocking but acceptable,
whose versatility was marvellous. There is nothing morbid, decadent, or
blatant in his early poems. In the "Canto Novo," published in 1882, he
displayed the torridity of his temperament, the splendor of his
imagination, the ardency of his loves, and the implacability of his
hatreds. It swept like a fire over Italy. It was a lyric of the joy of
life, "the immense joy of living, of being strong, of being young, of
biting with eager teeth the fruits of the earth, of looking with flaming
eyes upon the divine face of the world, as a lover looks upon his
mistress." It was followed in quick succession by "Terra Vergine,"
"Intermezzo di Rime," and "Il libro delle Vergini" ("The Book of the
Virgins"), which enhanced his reputation and caused the Italians to hail
him intemperately.

He then went to Rome and began work as a journalist, but this did not
interfere with his output of poetry, and by 1892, when he began
publishing romances, he had established, by the publication of "Isaotta
Guttadauro," the "Elegie romane" and the "Odi navali," a reputation with
the reading public of being the most appealing, most satisfying poet in
Italy, and the critics were not at all sure he would not surpass
Carducci, who was then considered Italy's greatest poet and whose fame
has steadily increased.

His fame as a poet being established to his own satisfaction he turned
to the field of romance, and in the next five years (1893-1898) there
flowed from the printing-presses a series of romances that veritably
flooded literary Italy: "L'Innocente," "Il Piacere," "Giovanni
Episcopo," "Trionfo della Morte," "Le Vergini delle Rocce," "Forse che
si forse che no," and the "Novelle della Pescara." They had a quality
that is not easily characterized by word or brief description. They were
"sensuous," "decadent," "daring," "shocking," "brilliant." They were
modelled on Flaubert, Prevost, Huysmans; they were saturated with the
philosophy of Nietzsche, the psychology of Ibsen, the mysticism of
Maeterlinck, the morality of Petronius; they reek of the bestialities of
Wilde and Verlaine; they are the glorification of pagan ethics; they are
the apotheosis of lust. But they were read, discussed, admired, praised,
not only in Italy but the world over. I doubt that praise was ever given
so lavishly, so widely, and so unjustifiably as was given to this series
of romances, which to-day, a generation after their publication, are as
constant a reminder of a wayward step which Italian literature took at
the end of the nineteenth century as the linea alba on the torso of a
woman whose reputation for virtue is established and admitted reminds
her of a faux pas of her youth.

In these volumes the author showed that he had a marvellous capacity to
depict states of exalted sensibility; that he had an extraordinary,
almost superhuman sensitiveness to beauty as it is revealed in nature
and in art; that he had a clairvoyant knowledge of the activity of the
unconscious mind of human beings and how it conditions their behavior
under circumstances and environments fortuitous or chosen--in other
words, until it is revealed to them behavioristically; that he had a
comprehensive familiarity with plastic and pictorial art; an intimacy
with ancient history and modern literature that was stupendous, and
withal a capacity to externalize his visions, his emotional elaboration,
and his mental content in words so linked together that the very
juxtaposition of them is a pleasure to the eye and a satisfaction to the
soul.

But that which he knew best of all was the history of eroticism. Not
only was he familiar with its ancestry to the remotest time, but he had
guarded its infant days with such solicitude that he knew every
impression that worldly contact made upon its plastic consciousness, and
when it got its growth he set to work to ornament it so that contact
with it would be the apogee of all beauty, intimacy with it the purpose
of all ambition, union with it the object of all strife.

There are features of his romances that cannot be adequately praised;
there are features that cannot be sufficiently condemned. A poem that
contains no particular thought may excite our profoundest admiration,
just as does a _papier-mâché_ triumphal arch or monument; but a romance
or novel depicts some phase or aspect of life, reveals man's aspirations
or accomplishments, his behaviors and reactions under certain
conditions, reflects his nobilities, depicts his frailties, and extols
his ambitions and what he would like to do, experience, or accomplish.
In a general way, it is expected that it shall be tuned to an ethical
pitch that will not give offense to the man of average Christian or
pagan morality, or outrage universally accepted and acceptable
convention. The most successful horticulturist in the world would find
no market for his roses, even though they were more exquisite than those
of all other florists, should he impregnate them with a scent obtained
from the Mustelidæ. This is what D'Annunzio did.

It would be very difficult to find a religion, a form of government, a
code of ethics, a type of beauty, a map of life, a canon of morals, a
custom, habit, or a convention that something could not be said in
praise of it. Bolshevism has its attractive facet, even though the
present-day proponents of it have got it so deeply submerged in the mire
of ambition and power, and so defaced with lust for revenge that it
cannot be recognized. There is scarcely any form of those various
indulgences and commissions which are labelled "vice" that have not some
commendable and praiseworthy feature, but there is one aberration of
human conduct that has never had a champion in the open. It is incest,
and Gabriele D'Annunzio is its champion. Concealed or openly, it goes
through his writings with the same constancy that streams flow through
plains that go out from glacier mountains. In the English translations
of his romances elaborate descriptions of other forms of perversion of
the genesic instinct have been largely expurgated, but it is impossible
to purge them entirely of the incest theme, for in many of his writings
it is beyond the verbal description. It is the atmosphere of the book.
Take, for instance, the novel "L'Innocente." On the face of it, it is
the narration of the conduct of a man who, having wedded a superior
woman of great intellectual charm and bodily attractions, yields to the
temptations of the life of dissipation in which he had distinguished
himself previous to an ideal matrimony and a contented paternity. He
realizes that his digressions are scandalous, and that their frequent
deliberate repetitions justify his wife in living apart from him, though
her love, being beyond control, still continues. They agree to live with
each other as brother and sister. The moment he succeeds in placing her
in his soul as his sister an irresistible impulse seizes him to have
carnal possession of her, and the burden of the book is a description of
his seduction of his own wife, who in the new covenant is his sister.
Meanwhile with consummate art he has described in the first chapter as
the only true love that which exists between brother and sister, his
apostrophe of it having been called forth by recalling the sister whom
death had fortunately removed.

Before he has accomplished the seduction of his wife-sister he has
precipitated her into a vulgar adventure with his own brother, a pattern
of all the virtues. It is a part of his consummate art to create
circumstantial evidence that will tend to put the paternity of her child
upon a fellow author who in other days had been civil and courteous to
his wife, and had sent her a copy of his latest book with an enigmatical
inscription on the fly-leaf, but in reality he succeeds in creating an
atmosphere from which one senses with readiness that the real father is
his brother. The book, in so far as it is concerned with the nobility of
Giuliana, the sweetness of life in the country, the lovability of her
mother and her children, the way in which Giuliana's emotions and
thought after the advent of the child are shaped that she may grow to
hate it as he hates it, as well as the mental elaborations that justify
him in seeking to destroy it, and the accomplishment of it, are done in
a way that shows the author to be not only intimately familiar with the
workings of the normal human mind but with the depraved human mind.

From the beginning of his literary career D'Annunzio was at no pains to
conceal that he was the model from which he painted his heroes. The
reader who identifies him with Tullio Hermil is the perspicacious
reader, in the eyes of the author; the reader who considers the conduct
of Tullio, infracting as it does the canons of law, of morality, and of
decency, as the conduct of a superman, is, in the judgment of the
author, the sapient reader. He who sees in Tullio and his conduct a
beast abnormally freighted with lubricity, lacking in inhibitory
qualities of a man unguided and uninfluenced by any obligation to God or
man, and knowing no other obligation than the pursuit of his own
pleasures and desires, is a fool, a weakling, an inanimate mass of
protoplasm moulded in the form of a human being unworthy of
consideration. D'Annunzio conceived himself a superman long before he
began to write romances, and I am not one of those who believe that he
got his conception from Nietzsche. He got it from the same indescribable
source that that unbalanced monster of materialism got his. Its roots if
they could be traced back to the days of the Hebrew prophets would be
found to have their germinal sprouts in some descendant of Samuel or
David.

D'Annunzio's romances are a mixture of materialism, sensualism, and
pessimism reduced in a pagan mortar to a homogeneous consistency, and
then skilfully admixed with honey so that it is acceptable to the
Christian palate, but, once it has got beyond the taste-buds of the
tongue, once it is taken into the system, its poisonous, corroding, and
destructive qualities become operative. I doubt if D'Annunzio ever wrote
a word or line in his plays or romances that any one was the better for
having read or heard, and by better I mean that he added to his
spiritual possessions, to his inherent nobility, or to his aspirations
for a moral perfection, one iota. I doubt if any normal human being,
normal physically, mentally, and spiritually, can read "Il Piacere"
without feeling ill and humiliated, not because of the picture that the
author draws of himself in the guise of Andrea Sperelli, this finished
expert in the employments of love, nor of Donna Maria, nor of the woman
more infernally expert in those matters, nor the score of other
characters which he paints with a master-hand, but because of the way in
which he draws his bow across the overtaut strings of sensuousness until
they scream and wail in frenzied fashion and then finally burst asunder.
The way in which he makes an appeal to his perverted sensuality through
vicarious overstimulation of the senses with which he was endowed for
self-conservation and self-preservation, the senses of smell and sight
and touch and hearing, is in itself a perversion. He stimulates them
until they shriek for mercy or for immersion in some benumbing balm. The
true pervert is he who puts out of proportion and out of perspective the
sources of æsthetic emanation, and who concentrates them upon the
percipient apparatus of one or other of the senses so that it may be
excited to a frenzied activity. The description of Andrea's room, in
which he awaits Donna Maria, with its perfumes, lights, and colors, and
the description of his toilet articles and his bedroom is one of the
most nauseating things in all literature. Like Nietzsche, D'Annunzio
looks upon women as creatures of an inferior race, instruments of
pleasure and procreation who were created to serve. When they no longer
are amusing, useful, or serviceable they are to be brushed aside and
with the same _sang froid_ as one would put aside an automobile that had
broken down, worn out, or because it's "corpo non è più giovane," as he
kept saying of Foscarina in "Il Fuoco," who belonged to him, "like the
thing one holds in his fist, like the ring on one's finger, like a
glove, like a garment, like a word that may be spoken or not, like a
draft that may be drunk or poured on the ground."

In "Vergini delle Rocce" he expounds the theory that inequality is the
essence of the state, and in this book as well as in "Il Trionfo della
Morte" we find all the passion of language and of sentiment that one
finds in Nietzsche. It is no longer to be doubted that he had kept his
word "noi tendiamo l'orecchio alla voce del magnanimo Zarathustra e
prepariamo nell' arte con sicura fede l'avvento del Uebermensch del
superuomo"--we listen to the voicing of the magnanimous Zarathustra and
we prepare with unfaltering faith for the coming of the superman to the
arts.

In his life of Cola di Rienzo D'Annunzio again took occasion to lampoon
and traduce the common people, describing them as the great beast which
must be crushed and annihilated. "Il Trionfo della Morte" is the very
essence of Heraclitan philosophy and Dionysan ethics. The hero, who is a
paragon of knowledge which he displays for the reader's edification,
meets the young and pretty wife of a business man who bores her. He is
successful finally in permitting her to pass a few weeks with him in his
villa by the sea. During these weeks they run the gamut of every
conceivable sensation and the reader gets a description of them and of
the gradual hatred that develops in him for his subjection of her.
"Every human soul carries in it for love a definite quality of sensitive
force. This quality is used up with time and when it is used up no
effort can prevent love from ceasing." But, unlike the animal when his
concupiscence is satiated and he is still urged to greater display, the
hero is not content with driving her from him; he must needs mete out
the same fate to her that he did to the infant in "Il Piacere," so he
lures her to the edge of a sea cliff and hurls her into space. "She
would in death become for me matter of thought, pure ideality; from a
precarious and imperfect existence she would enter into an existence
complete and definite, forsaking forever the infirmities of her weak,
luxurious flesh. Destroy to possess. There is no other way for him who
seeks the absolute in love."

The reader yields to the enchantment of his style, to the seductiveness
of his lyrism, to the intoxications of his descriptions of beauty; and
the critic and fellow writer to his mastery of technic and consummate
mastery of behavioristic psychology. From the critics' point of view
"The Triumph of Death" and "The Fire" are the high-water marks of
D'Annunzio as a stylist, and they mark his completest moral dissolution.

In "Il Fuoco" we get the same ethics, philosophy, æsthetics, and
glorification of sensuousness that we get in all his other books. Here
the two leading characters are exact replicas of himself and of the
world's greatest actress of her day portrayed in an environment, Venice,
that is redolent of beauty in decay, like a cracked Grecian vase
overfilled with withered rose leaves which fall from it at every puff of
wind. This environment makes an ideal palette upon which he blends the
colors whose pigments he has been selecting and experimenting with for a
quarter of a century. The publication of it promoted his voluntary exile
from Italy. His fellow countrymen could not condone the monstrous
offense of depicting therein as the pliant mediator of his perverted
sensuousness their beloved actress. And they have not yet forgiven him,
nor are they likely to forgive him.

After D'Annunzio had established a reputation as a neoromanticist with a
classical tendency he turned to drama, and the year 1897 marked his
advent into that field. His first efforts, three one-act parables--"The
Foolish Virgins and the Wise Virgins," "The Rich Man and Poor Lazarus,"
and "The Prodigal Son"--were published in the _Mattino_ of Naples, a
newspaper controlled by the husband of his friend and fellow writer,
Matilde Serao. They are noteworthy merely to show the way in which a
sensuous pagan can transform simple characters into decadent, perverted
proselyters of pleasure. It was not until he wrote "The Dream of a
Spring Morning" and "The Dream of an Autumn Sunset" that he displayed
the same measure of lascivious imagery and capacity for description of
the perverse manifestations of eroticism that he revealed in his
romances. These were revealed in lines that truly may be said to be
masterpieces of lyric beauty, and when the Mad Woman of the first and
the Messalina of the second were interpreted by Eleanora Duse the
musical sound of the words and the emotional force of the sentiment
gained a quality of importance and grandeur which enhanced their
inherent qualities.

In "La Città Morta," his most successful drama, he returned to his
favorite topic, incest. Though his purpose in writing it, the most
successful of all his dramas, was to revive in form, structure, and
unity the Greek drama, it gave him an opportunity to display his
knowledge of the classics and archæology. The philosophy and mysticism
of the play he got from Maeterlinck. Its theme is lust and crime. Lust
is portrayed in almost every conceivable form of perversion, in poetic
thoughts and graceful diction, especially in the delineation of
Leonardo, the explorer, who lusts for his sister. The dreamy, meditative
languor of the dramatis personæ, their insensitiveness to every form of
ethical conformation, their perversion of every form of moral
relationship, constitute an atmosphere that the northerner does not
breath pleasurably. It was thoroughly purged before it was put on the
boards in this country.

His next play, "La Gioconda," is an exposition of the exemption which
D'Annunzio thinks the artist of his own superman caliber should have
from conforming to the laws of estate or custom. The contention is a
simple one. He should do anything that he pleases--which means give
himself over to the pleasure of the senses and the appetites until the
indulgence is followed by satiety and thus his progress toward
perfection through gratification of desires will be accomplished. After
satiety comes disgust, and then a period of dementia, but this is merely
the prelude to another fling of erotic fury in his conformation to the
doctrine of purification through pleasure.

The hero is a psychopathic individual, sensitive, aboulic, distractible,
impressionable, impulsive, vacillating, and suicidal. He is married to a
woman who apparently has every beauty of soul and body that a woman can
have. But, alas, she is virtuous! She has not the key to the
jewel-casket of his genius. That is possessed by his model Gioconda
Dianti, the source of all his inspirations. One quiver of her eyelid
causes his soul to dissolve like sugar in water, while two make him feel
that he is lord of the universe.

The tragedy of the play is the permanent mutilation of the wife's hands,
the only somatic feature that has "appealed" to the artist. She attempts
to save his masterpiece which the model pushes over in temper on being
told falsely that she is to be banished. Her mutilated hands serve to
remind her the rest of her life that virtue is its own reward.

The two dramas of D'Annunzio which are best known to the
English-speaking public are "La Figlia d'Jorio" and "Francesca di
Rimini." "The Daughter of Jorio" is a tragedy laid in the mountains of
Abruzzi. D'Annunzio knows the customs, habits, and traditions of the
shepherds and mountaineers, their superstitions and emotions, as he
knows art, archæology, and eroticism. The first act is a description of
the betrothal of the son of a brutal shepherd to a simple girl with whom
he is not particularly in love. At the ceremony of betrothal the
daughter of Jorio, who is suspected to have evil powers, claims
protection from certain shepherds who had designs upon her. The first
impulse of the joyous party was to cast her out, but when the betrothed
young man was about to do so he saw behind her his lustful desire
presented to his eyes in the guise of an angel, which made him hesitate,
and the daughter of Jorio was allowed to remain. In the next act he is
seen as her lover. He quarrels about her with his father and kills him.
The parricide's punishment is to be sewed into a sack with a dog, a
cock, a viper, and a monkey and cast into the sea. The daughter of Jorio
comes to the rescue and convinces the people that she is the real
criminal. Eros is unconquerable.

In "Francesca di Rimini," a historical play filled with erudite
archæological details, he displays a knowledge of the thirteenth century
and of the customs of the time which has never been excelled save by
historical writers. It is a picture of war and bloodshed, of treachery
and accusation. The central theme is the love of Francesca and Paolo.
They may be taken as the typical human beings of the thirteenth-century
Italy, fond of luxury and beautiful things but savage in their
reactions. Perhaps Francesca is one of the best feminine figures that
D'Annunzio has ever drawn.

In 1904 there appeared two volumes entitled "Praises of the Sky, the
Sea, the Earth and of Heroes." After that period his tragedies, "The
Light under the Bushel," "The Ship," "Fedra," and "The Mystery of San
Sebastian" appeared in French, and soon he adopted France as his home,
having previously published a spiritual autobiography of eight thousand
four hundred lines entitled "Laus Vitæ," in which he summarizes the
motives of his past and lays the basis of his new inspiration.

D'Annunzio's war poems have all been inspired with the belief that
Italy's future lies on the sea. It is much to be regretted that they
have not yet been collected into a single volume. When it is done he
will not unlikely be recognized as the most legitimate of Pindar's
descendants. Undoubtedly he will want them to be the conspicuous,
permanent wreath on his tomb. The Libyan War inspired him to the
production of his noblest war poetry, "Canzoni della Gesta d'Oltremare"
("Songs of Achievements across the Sea").

In the "Canzoni di Mario Bianco" he foresaw the beginning of a new era
for Italy, and he forecast the aspirations and promises of the third
Italy. His "Canzone del Quarnaro" describes the raid of the three
Italian torpedo-boats on the Buccari, a few miles to the southeast of
Fiume. It is short and forceful. The introductory "beffa" describes the
raid in detail. D'Annunzio is inordinately fond of using Christian
imagery, and he reverts to it here in the distribution of his little
tricolor flags, which has a mystic import. "It is a true eucharistic
sacrament, the closest and most complete communion of the spirit with
beautiful Italy. There is no need of consecrating words; the tricolor
wafer was converted through our faith into the living beauty of our
country. We are purified, we are sundered from the shore and from our
daily habits, separated from the land and all vulgar cares, from our
homes and from all useless idleness, from profane love and all base
desires; we are immune from the thought of return."

The "Cantico per l'ottava della Vittoria" is a wish fulfilment for him.
As the boat enters the Quarnaro and runs up the coast of Istria it is,
for D'Annunzio, the guarantor of the treaty of London, and he sees all
the cities and islands of this coast restored to Italy, and these cities
and all the places hallowed by the war join in the pæan of triumph.

In "Songs of Achievements across the Sea" D'Annunzio established an
incontestable claim to be the great inspiring poet, even the prophet, of
his generation in Italy, and he produced work which has not been
surpassed, but he was still the poet only, singer of the deeds of
others, in which he had no share himself. The contrast between his
pretensions and his achievements made the affectations of his early
years appear ridiculous to many people, and tended to obscure the true
value of his work. He was still seeking and the years that followed in
Paris showed that he had discovered no new world to explore, but when
Italy joined the Allies he suddenly found himself. All the brooding
sense of incomplete achievement of other days vanished in a moment. The
speeches and addresses that he delivered between May 4 and 25, 1915,
showed that he had been preparing for what he knew would be "The Day"
for him.

It was widely believed in Italy in 1917 and 1918 that on the evening of
May 4, 1915, when D'Annunzio addressed a meeting at Quarto to
commemorate an anniversary of Garibaldi's departure with his faithful
thousand to deliver Sicily and Naples from the Bourbon yoke, and a few
days later when he addressed them in the Costanzi Theatre in Rome and
then went with the enormous crowd to ring the bell of the Campidoglio,
the signal was given for the declaration of war against Austria and
Germany.

The last books of D'Annunzio, illustrating his new attitude toward life,
are "La Leda senza-cigno" ("Leda without the Swan"), "Per la più grande
Italia" ("For Greater Italy"), "La Beffa di Buccari" ("Buccari's Joke"),
"La Riscossa" ("The Rescue"), "Bestetti e Tuminelli" ("Italy and
Death"), "Contro Uno e contro Tutti" ("Against One and against All"),
and a series of volumes under the title of "The Archives of Icarius,"
which are all concerned with incidents in the Great War.

It is too soon to attempt to guess the pedestal that posterity will
allot Gabriele D'Annunzio in the gallery of fame. The committee that
will do it will estimate his qualifications of lyric poet and Hellenic
dramatist--perhaps as warrior.

D'Annunzio is a poet who abounds in lyrical ecstacies. His style is the
most remarkable thing about him. He describes armor, architecture,
archæology like an expert. He knows the dynamic point of view. He knows
how to depict dramatic situations. His personages are all living
personages. He is concerned with the neurotic, decadent, hectic,
temperamental type of human beings. All his characters have a love of
beauty. He is the true decadent of the nineteenth-century literature, to
whom the decadent French symbolists cannot hold a candle.

After he had sucked the luscious orange of Italy dry and eaten of its
pomegranates to satiety; after he had exhausted sensation in the search
for sensation and he could no longer hope for stimulation from vision,
from image, from sound, from color; when the nets of Eros were so
lacerated and worn from having been dragged upon the rocks and crags of
life; when Italian food, though appetizingly spiced and washed down with
rare vintage of the Castelli Romani, would no longer nourish him, he
abandoned his native land and went to France. His writings while in
France were like those of a man who is dominated by a dementia following
a protracted delirium, and as he emerged from this dementia he published
a pietistic piece called "The Contemplation of Death." It seems to have
been suggested to him by the death of the poet Pascoli, for whom he
professed an admiration, but more particularly by Adolfo Bermond, whom
he had met after he went to France and who apparently had been able to
depict the beauties of humility so that they were recognizable to
D'Annunzio. In his fatigued, emotional, and enfeebled mental state he
asked himself whether humility was not more desirable than pride, love
not stronger than hate, spiritual aristocracy more ennobling than
aristocracy of blood, of money, of brain, of privilege. In this state of
mock humility he wrote: "I always feel above me the presence of the
sacrifice of Christ. I see now that the glory of my life is not in the
beauty of my possessions. I have never felt so miserable and at the same
time so powerful. Never since I lived have I had within me an instinct,
a need so deep and so storming. I am aware that a part of my being,
maybe the best part, is deeply asleep within me." But soon this
spiritual awakening was throttled by the influence of Nietzsche. "What
will become of me if I surrender wholly to the Saviour? Surely I want
the world to know if in my life, filled with base instincts, there comes
the moment of changing. Even if my glory be destroyed I will not be a
prisoner to the worse that speaks within me." It was from that hour that
he decided to be the Garibaldi of the third Italy. He would then be
another Gabriel standing in the presence of God and sent to speak to
them and show them glad tidings.

It was a strange awakement that D'Annunzio had when he went to Rome in
the early '90's. Perhaps it was before that time that he encountered
"L'Ornement des Noces Spirituelles de Ruysbroeck l'Admirable," and later
"La Sagesse et la Destinée," and he absorbed some of its æsthetic
mysticism. He realized that it was another variety of search for wisdom
because it is happiness, and he began to portray it in his poetry and
tragedies. From the day he began to write he accustomed himself to take
as it pleased him from others' writings, and not only lines and
paragraphs but subjects, movements, cadences, thoughts, and images which
determined the character and decided the nature of the production.
Italian critics have taken the trouble to return to the original
creators the borrowed constituents of some of his productions,
"L'Asiatico," for instance; and that which then remained was the
caressing modulation of the verses. When his romances appeared in French
many of the passages taken bodily from Dostoievsky, Tolstoy, de
Maupassant, Pêladan, de Goncourt, Huysmans, and many others were
prudently suppressed. But no one can fail to recognize that he read
these authors with a keen eye, a note-book by his side. But he has known
how to use what he borrowed. The day came when the conduct of a corrupt
people in a decadent fictitious world no longer sufficed to divert him;
having drunk from the poisoned springs of lust not only to satiety but
to disgust, he, like his prototype of Huysmans's creation, "Des
Esseintes," the Thebaide raffinée of "A Rebours," must hide himself away
far from the world, in some retreat where he might deaden the discordant
sounds of the rumblings of inflexible life, as one deadens the street
with straw where an important or beloved one is sick. This retreat was
Paris and there we must leave him making scenic plays and erudite verse
for a Russian ballerina, and working out his destiny in contemplation of
death and in planning the selection of warriors for Valhalla.

We are not concerned with his conduct or with his morals. We are
concerned with his activities to divert and instruct us, and the
influence that his efforts had upon the people of his time. He wrote
artistically perfect novels; his poetry is the highest form of lyric
expression; he made his dramas the revivification of the elements of
Greek tragedy; and he strove to prove that Eros was unconquerable by
priest, sage, or warrior. Now, with the world in ferment, they are the
only earnest for our acceptation of his assurance that he can shape the
fate of Italy more acceptably than its statesmen.

Before the Great War he had practically passed from the stage of
letters. That epochal occurrence resurrected him. We can wait to hear
what posterity will say of him.



CHAPTER IV

THE FUTURIST SCHOOL OF ITALIAN WRITERS


The Italians are a people of great emotional complexity, displaying a
strange mixture of idealism and realism. They are at present engaged in
constructing an edifice which shall be the admiration of the world for
all time, to wit, a third Italy. Naturally the designers, the
architects, the builders and the prospective inhabitants hope that it
will be more ideal, more commodious, more adapted to its purposes than
its predecessors. To the sympathetic observer, however, they appear to
limit themselves narrowly to old building material.

There is nothing which mirrors the individual and composite mind of a
country so illuminatingly as its literature. The man craving for power
prefers the allegiance of a country's song-writers to that of its
lawgivers. That a tremendous change has taken place to-day, not only in
the songs of Italy but in all her literature, must be admitted. This
change has been in process for a generation and is going on with
increasing rapidity.

Italian literature is now going through a phase quite as distinct as
that which characterized the romanticism initiated by Manzoni and which
ended with the advent of Carducci. It would be difficult to find a word
which would adequately express the spirit of it--perhaps the most
descriptive one is _protest_. The new writers protest against the
social, political, and religious acceptances of the past fifty years.
They object to the acceptance of alleged facts substantiated only by
tradition; they refuse adherence to teachings, doctrines, modes of
thought and expression merely because they are old; they reject dogma
originating in self-constituted authority, no matter how long or by whom
it has been sanctioned and privileged, no matter how securely rooted.
They will have none of the conventionalism which is out of harmony with
the present conditions of life and with the present yearning for
liberty. They stand against the teaching that the flesh must be punished
in order that the soul may be purified, as they do against all slavish
stereotypy, moss-covered convention, and archaic laws.

They claim instead that the best of life is to be found in purposeful
action; that life should be speeded up, and that every one should be
encouraged to live fully for the advantage that may come to himself, to
those to whom he is beholden, and to the world. They advocate the
strenuous life and invite the new and unforeseen, while urging
exploration of untrodden fields and especially determination of things
called inaccessible and unrealizable. They advocate equal life for men
and women, and seek to give to such words as "patriotism" and "idealism"
a fuller significance, so that the former shall not mean the heroic
idealization of commercial, industrial, and artistic solidarity of a
people but a love of liberty and a knowledge, recognition, and
appreciation of what other people and other countries are attempting and
accomplishing; and that the latter may be applied to the affairs of life
and not to the affairs of the imagination.

This movement, in Italy, was begun by a group of men who called
themselves Futurists and, if that name can be dissociated from the
connotation that is given to it when applied to art, I see no objection
to it. It has been influenced by the French Symbolists of the preceding
generation, Baudelaire, de Goncourt, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Mallarmé,
Verlaine, Huysmans, Rimbaud, whose work so profoundly influenced the
course of French literature. Like this school the self-styled futuristic
writers of Italy revolt against rhetoric and against tradition.
Therefore they reject equally the ardent classicism of Carducci and
D'Annunzio's decadent blend of idealism and realism, the crass, slavish
Gallicism of Brocchi, the Scandinavian genuflections of Bracco and the
Shavian imitations of Pirandello. In protest against all these they seek
the full liberty of the written word, as the evangel of socialism seeks
the liberty of the individual. Not from other writers but from reality
itself, or from the depths of their own imaginations, they have received
a vision and this vision they demand the right to evoke in others, by
what words or what images they will. The art of expression should be
speeded up, abbreviated, and epitomized, while the love of profound
essentials is cultivated. To borrow from England's singer of
materialistic grandeur and promise, they

    " ... want the world much more the world;
    Men to men and women to women--all
      Adventure, courage, instinct, passion, power."

And in addition, as true Futurists, they want us to have constantly in
mind what happened to Lot's wife when she looked back to see how high
the flames rose over Sodom and Gomorrah.

The leaders of the Futuristic movement in Italy were Guillaume
Apollinaire, then editor of _Les Soirées de Paris_, and F. T. Marinetti
of Milan.

One thing can be said of Signor Marinetti, the pope of Futurism, which
no one, I fancy, will deny. He is the most amusing writer in Italy. His
idea of beauty is a massive building of concrete in course of
construction with the scaffoldings lovingly embracing it. His idea of
ugliness is a curve of any kind--save in the feminine body. "Parole in
libertà," words free from syntactical shackles are the words with which
we shall fight the battle of the future. They are the dynamite which
will blow asunder literary Monte Testaccio, in which are buried the
useless literary labors of his forebears but which shall also prepare
the soil for a fertility that it has never possessed. Dynamism is the
master-key. No artificer of the past or wizard of the future can
construct a lock that it will not readily open, and as for political
manacles they are as fragile as rubber bands when confronted with the
doctrines of his new book, "Democrazia Futurista."

Signor Marinetti has no delusions of grandeur; he only pretends that he
has. Nor is he the victim of a mental disorder which is characterized by
loss of insight and megalomania. It is gratifying to be able to make
this diagnosis of one of Italy's literary leaders. It offsets the
diagnosis of general paresis made of Woodrow Wilson by one of Mr.
Marinetti's fellow citizens and published with such elaborate attempts
of substantiation in the _Giornale di Italia_. He merely overestimates
his intellectual and emotional possessions, but he says many clever
things and makes some prophecies that are likely to come through. The
last European ruler who talked and acted as Signor Marinetti does got a
bad spill, as is now fairly widely known. In reality, Marinetti is a
Bolshevik who amuses himself behind a mask, but not all the principles
of Bolshevism are bad by any means, nor even are they new. The most
telling way of making a statement is to overstate it. The most
successful way of getting a bad smell out of a house is to burn the
house; then, if you have a good plan and plenty of time, money, and
building material, you can construct yourself a house free from bad
odors. However, there are other ways of making it a very livable and
beautiful house, but why one should object to Mr. Marinetti's building
his own house his own way is difficult to understand, unless in so doing
it he makes himself such a nuisance to his neighbors that they cannot
tolerate him. So far he has not done that, but when he joins force with
Signor Bruno Corra, as he has in "L'Isola dei Baci" ("The Island of
Kisses"), he comes perilously near it.

Apollinaire, a Pole whose real name was Kostrowitski, was born in Rome
and lived in Italy until late childhood, when he went to France, where
he remained until his death in 1919. He had a tremendous influence upon
many of the young symbolist writers of Italy, comparable to that
exercised by Stéphane Mallarmé on the young writers in the '80's and
'90's. One of them wrote at the time of his death: "Hero of thought and
of art, idealist, philosopher, genuine poet, prophetic theorist and
critic, sublime soul, comrade, joyous, generous, he was also in the last
years of his life a hero of humanity."

The most important figure of the school has been Giovanni Papini, who
has gathered about him in Florence a coterie which includes Ardengo
Soffici, the painter, critic, and novelist; Aldo Palazzeschi, poet;
Alberto Savinio, wanderer, musician, and litterateur; and a long list of
names more or less ancillary to Marinetti, some of which I shall mention
later.

Papini, who is considered at length in another chapter, does not admit
that he is a Futurist. As he puts it, he did not marry Futurism; it was
for him one of many intellectual adventures, a mistress that left an
indelible impression on him. He simply passed through Futurism's
influence and at the same time gave momentum to the best of that school,
to Palazzeschi, Govoni, Boccioni, Folgore. Then he proceeded alone,
after having become persuaded that it had become too popular and
consequently less refined and select, and after the hazardous and
aristocratic little group had become a species of low, bigoted democracy
into which any one could enter who dangled a rosary of incomprehensible
words. He left it in company with Soffici and Palazzeschi and soon Carrà
and others followed his example. Thus, on the death of Boccioni, the
first generation of Futuristic writers reformed or disappeared.

Then there are many young men carrying the banner of literature in Italy
to-day who do not call themselves Futurist, and whose writings contain
less of the grotesque, which has been made familiar to Italian readers
by Marinetti's "Zang Tumb Tumb." They are men of the stamp of Antonio
Beltramelli, Mario Mariani, Luigi Morselli, Gino Rocca, Salvator Gotta,
Lorenzo Montano, Vincenzo Cardarelli, Raffale Calzini, Enrico
Cavacchioli, Alfredo Grilli, and a score of others who not alone have
ideas but who keenly sense the composite world-thought, who believe that
the era of Big Business will reach its apogee when it weds Big Justice,
and who know how to express their ideas with explosive rhythmic
eloquence and with distinction of form.

It would be presumptuous on my part to attempt to select the winners
entered in the great sweepstakes of literary fame in Italy, with no
qualification for prophecy or judgment than a love of literature and a
lifelong ardent consumption of it. I shall, therefore, content myself
with brief discussion of the work of some of these younger writers with
the particular end in view of suggesting to others the pleasure and
profit that may result from more intimate acquaintance with them.

About ten years ago there began to appear in the Florentine publication,
_La Voce_, a series of articles critical and interpretative of French
art. It is difficult now to believe that Cézanne, Courbet, Renoir,
Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and the school of
impressionists and neo-impressionists was so little known in Italy as
they were at the time of the appearance of these articles from the pen
of Ardengo Soffici, a painter by training and profession enrolled in the
Futuristic movement. He was, in reality, the first to speak in Italy
with appreciation and intelligence of the tendencies in French art shown
in the last half-century which have to-day had such a stamp of profound
approval put upon them. These criticisms attracted much attention from
the first, and they have since been republished under the title of
"Scoperte e Massacri" ("Discoveries and Massacres"), and to-day they
constitute a trustworthy guide to the schools mentioned both in
presentation and in description.

They were quite unlike previous criticisms, more particularly in a note
of challenge, of insolence, and of prophecy. His judgments were stated
with a firmness and tranquillity that savored of the dogmatic, and,
although time has shown him to have been mistaken in his estimate of
some of the artists discussed--Gauguin, for instance--it has
corroborated most of them with remarkable accuracy. In a small way he
did for Italian readers what Mr. MacColl did for English readers in his
"Nineteenth Century Art," for, like that writer, he is an artist with a
fastidious temperament who knows how to write.

Since that time Signor Soffici has published nearly a score of
books--romances, criticisms, fragments which show him to be a clear
thinker with a pungent style, writing what he thinks and not what he
cribs from others, and not continually advertising himself as the last
cry of intelligence or the most perfect type of superman. His first book
was called "Ignoto Toscano" ("An Unknown Tuscan"), and appeared in 1909,
but it was not until the publication of "Lemmonio Boreo" two years later
that it was realized that there had appeared a writer with a definite
message: a protest against the utter triviality and purposelessness of
Italian middle-class life.

The hero, an artist, who would reform many customs of the land, went
about the countryside accompanied by two aids, one chosen for physical
strength, the other for his "promoter" type of mind. Their encounters
with the predatory innkeeper, with the peculating clerk, with the
industrious stone-breaker of the roads, with the pilferer of the farm or
the barn, and with the pulchritudinous peasant sitting picturesquely in
her cart or gossiping in the village constitute the substance of the
book. It was planned to have it run into several volumes, but it stopped
after the first one, without accomplishing any of the reforms that the
hero had essayed.

Then the writer reverted to art again and published a book on Cubism and
one on Cubism and Futurism. Soon he published Giornale di Bordo, a diary
of sentiment and philosophy--thoughts engendered by various
environments, by reading, and by reflection. In the most casual way the
author reveals his impressionable and poetic nature. They are not
profound or epoch-making thoughts. They are merely the thoughts of a
sane, healthy, artistic mind bathing and refreshing itself in the
beauties of nature and contrasting them with the ugliness of most of
man's handiwork.

Then came two books about the outgrowth of the military life. "Kubilek"
is named after a hill on the Bainsizza Tableland where the author fought
and was wounded. It gives a picture of the Italian as a soul which will
be recognized as true to life by every one who has had to do with him.
No one can read it without feeling an admiration and an affection for
that extraordinarily loyal being the Italian soldier who tolerates
hardship with equanimity and without complaint and who is so
appreciative of anything done for his comfort or welfare. "La Ritirata
del Friuli" ("The Retreat from Friuli") is not up to the author's
standard.

The next book, a very small one, "La Giostra dei Sensi" ("The Joust of
the Senses"), is a portrayal of the capacity shown by a "lost soul" for
radiating unselfish love upon an individual who comes to her for
meretricious contact but who stays to add to his spiritual stature. The
scene is laid in Naples and the author utilizes the sheer beauty of the
place and picturesqueness of the people to give an artistic setting for
the description of the jousts. It could not possibly be published in
England unless the publisher aspired to "languish" in prison.

Of the many questions I have asked in Italy none has been so
unsatisfactorily answered as "Do you let your young folk read that book
and what effect does it have?" No one could think of calling Soffici a
pornographic writer. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that he is one
of the most respected and admired of all the young school of Italian
writers, and yet there are passages in the book now under discussion
coarser and more vulgar than any in the "Satyricon." Despite this it is
not a circumstance to the recent book of a seventeen-year-old girl of
Rome, Margherita Emplosi Gherardi, entitled "Il Nudo nelle Anime." It is
dedicated to all those who deny that the youthful mind has not the
capacity, discernment, liberty, and daring to envisage and interpret the
painful mysteries of the human soul. There are few things more
disgusting in literature, "Gamiana" excluded, than the sketch entitled
"The Impure Hour," for women only.

His remaining books, "Statue e Fantocci" ("Statues and Dolls"), are made
up chiefly of critical reviews, many of which have appeared in journals.
They show that the writer has a mastery of literary technic and an
understanding of modern art and literature creditable to himself and to
his country. He can be satirical, caustic, sarcastic, but he is never
brutal. He can be an ardent admirer, a valorous champion, a sympathetic
interpreter, a critical friend, and a prejudiced judge, but he is never
an implacable, insensate enemy, nor a literary fiend. Moreover, one does
not gather from his writings that he is what is called the "whole thing"
from the literary standpoint.

Signor Soffici has got some bad habits from Papini. Among these are:
saying old things as if they never had been said before; taking on an
air of complacency after the delivery of a sentiment or a conviction in
no wise epoch-making; believing that all his geese are swans and the
geese of others decoys; that his every thought is a jewel which people
are frenzied to possess unless they are too stupid; and saying trivial
things with the subtly conveyed insinuation that the reader should, if
he is perspicacious and cultured, find a deep significance in them.

He is yet a long way from his full stature, but he is growing.

Aldo Palazzeschi (1885-) is one of the youngest of the Futuristic group
who has gained enduring fame as a poet. His first volume of verses,
"Cavalli Bianchi" ("White Horses"), which was published when he was
twenty years old, showed him to be a youth of sensibility and
originality, with capacity for tuneful verse and for dainty sentiment
daintily expressed. The publication of a second volume, entitled
"Lanterna" ("The Lantern"), two years later, fully justified the
expectations of those who were attracted by the little gems of his early
verse. But it was not until 1909, on the publication of a volume
entitled "The Poems of Aldo Palazzeschi," that it was realized that
there had come upon the scene a poet who might quite easily get a fame
equal to that of Carducci or Pascoli.

His poems not only showed the influence of Apollinaire and Marinetti,
but also of Whitman, of Mallarmé, of Rimbaud, of Laforgue, and of other
French writers. The dyed-in-the-wool critics saw in much of his work
clownishness and infantilism, especially in such productions as "E
lasciatemi divertire." They thought it should be construed: "And let me
divert myself with insane-asylum poetry." They were quite right from
their standpoint, but a fellow poet whose emotional mechanism is not so
equilibrated as that of the sort of man called normal, would be likely
to see in it something of beauty and of merit which the latter could not
see, and ask: "Why should not the poet divert himself?" It is to him
what exercise is to the average man, and he speaks of it, in fact is
proud of it, just as the average man is proud of his golf score when he
gets it in that Elysian field, "under ninety."

Those who do not see in Palazzeschi's poetry an adhesion to a certain
school of philosophy, an advocacy of certain ethical systems, a
restatement of others' thoughts and teachings, miss the very essence of
his contribution. This is his capacity to present the world around us in
colors which, if not new, at least have been recognized only since the
advent of the impressionistic painter. So illuminated, it presents
facets of beauty that make appeal to that which within us mediates and
interprets pleasure.

In addition to this, he has an extraordinary sense of the fantastic, the
grotesque, the panoplied. His eye is microscopic and his mind is
telescopic, and his soul waves tend to a rhythm which is akin to that of
genius when he reveals them and describes them to others, as he does,
for instance, in the "Villa Celeste" ("The Celestial House"); the
average man (who is attuned to interpret some poetic waves) realizes
that the soul of this young man is the generating station of genuine
poetical energy. He puts a reflector before his soul and it reflects the
waves in our direction.

    "Io metto una lente
    dinanzi al mio cuore,
    per farlo vedere alla gente."

Among the youngest of the Italian litterateurs who are giving great
promise is Alberto Savinio, who is not only an interesting writer but an
accomplished musician, composer, and performer. Of Sicilian origin, he
was born in Tuscany and has lived in various parts of central Europe. He
first came to conspicuous notice through his articles in _Les Soirées de
Paris_. To the average reader he is known as a traveller and a narrator
of his observations and experiences in the form of comments and short
stories. Latterly, however, he has published a queer book entitled
"Hermaphrodito," which is difficult briefly to characterize without
doing it injustice. It is a book that a clever man might write in the
early stages of delirium tremens, providing he returned to it after
recovery and added the chapters "Isabella Hasson" and "La Partenza dell'
Argonauti." In the latter especially he shows himself capable of writing
temperate, vivacious, robust prose, of making inviting descriptions of
places, and of revealing man's conduct and his motives.

When the war broke out he returned to Italy and his contributions soon
began to appear in different journals, more particularly in the _Voce_
of Florence and the _Brigati_ of Bologna. Since then he has received
even greater praise than was meted out to him in Paris, and he gives
promise, should his development continue, of getting a place amongst the
modern writers.

Another young writer of the same kidney, though by no means of such
promise, is Mario Venditti. He is a type of juvenile writer in Italy who
excites a curiosity to know how he succeeds in getting some of his
writings published. He appears to have a writing formula: take of
substantives whose meaning is known to few save dictionary experts,
archaic or uncommon adjectives, adverbs, or adverbial phrases taken from
other languages, excerpts from scientific writings, especially
philosophy and medicine, and string them together so that when they are
read aloud there will be a certain sonorous, musical effect, and at the
same time suggest a color accompaniment. He reminds of a properly
brought-up and well-educated boy who, when he reaches the age of
puberty, insists upon wearing what are called "outlandish" clothes, a
combination of the apparel of the clown and that of the fashion-plate,
to which he attaches ornate trimmings and incongruous decoration. In
such costume he struts about with a nonchalance and swagger of
self-appreciation which is more irritating even than his sartorial
affectations. Many modern literary youths seem to have to go through a
period of this kind, just as the children of "First Families,"
unfortunately, must have mumps and measles. Like the victims of those
diseases the majority of them go through unscathed, but every now and
then one of them is intellectually enfeebled and genetically sterilized.

Signor Venditti has not assured us by the publication of "Il Burattino e
la Pialla" that he is not a victim.

When is a Futurist not a Futurist? A very difficult question that, for
readers answer it one way and writers another. Some writers are
Futuristic on alternate days, or every seventh day. One of these is
Enrico Cavacchioli, a Sicilian living in Milan, the dramatic critic of
the _Secolo_ and the director of _Il Mondo_ and of the publishing-house
of Vitagliano. His reputation as a man of letters stands in no relation
to his futurist poems. It does, however, to his compositions for the
theatre, and especially to his great success, "Uccello del Paradiso"
("Bird of Paradise"). His last contribution, "Quella che t'assomiglia"
("That Which Resembles You"), which he calls a vision in three acts, is
a satire on the present-day interest in the occult and supernatural.

When the promising and brilliant young writer of the Florentine group,
Renato Serra, was killed in the war, Italy lost one of its most gifted
critics since De Sanctis. Despite his youth he had, when he was called
to the colors, already won a conspicuous position as a man of letters.
Alfredo Panzini dedicated his "Madonna di Mamà" to him, and made
touching allusions to his qualities of soul and potential greatness. In
1914 he published a survey of contemporary Italian literature ("Le
Lettere"), and the five years which have elapsed since then have shown
that his estimates and judgments were unusually sound. His was neither
the academic idealistic criticism of the old school nor the historic
philosophic criticism of Croce. He attempted to interpret writers,
plans, and performances and to contrast them with ideals he had himself
conceived or worked out from study of the masters. His last work,
"Scritti Critici" ("Critical Writings"), was published in 1919. They
show a subtle and profound analysis, an original point of view, and
equilibrium in expression and in form. His style is simple, his
statements clear, his presentations convincing.

Another young writer of this group, a man of great promise, was Scipio
Slattaper. He gave his life for his country in the early days of the
war.

Corrado Govoni has, for the past decade, been considered by some to be
Italy's most promising poet. There is definite infantilism in his work,
a distractibility, a discursiveness, that has stood in the way of
meriting such estimate. Although still a young man (thirty-five), he has
eight volumes of poetry that bear his name. Papini was his impresario
but he no longer treats him as one of his favored family. His first
volume was called "Le fiale" ("The Honeycomb"), the next "Armonia in
Grigio ed in Silenzio" ("Harmony in Gray and in Silence"). They were
truly juvenile. The third volume, "Fuochi d'Artifizio" ("Fireworks"),
showed the influence of Rodenbach, of James, and of the modern French
school.

In 1907 he published "Aborti," which showed his mental growth and which
is one of his best even to the present time.

In 1911 he issued a volume entitled "Electric Poetry" ("Poesie
elettriche"), whose futurist cover was the only futuristic feature it
had. There is no humming, puffing, whirring to convey that
steam-and-gasoline-engine modernity which it should have in order to
justify the name. Its lines are too refined, too pussy-foot, too
pathetic, too tender-minded for that. Were it not for the perfect
equality of the sexes to-day we would be tempted to say they had a
feminine quality. Daintiness does not express it; neither does unvirile.

There is none of this quality in his next production--the "Hymn on the
Death of Sergio." "Neve" ("The Snow") appeared in 1914; "Rarefazione"
("Rarefactions") in 1915. The latter is a weird collection of childish
figures designed by the poet and commented upon by him to such effect as
to demonstrate a state of latent infantilism. In the same year he
published a volume entitled "The Inauguration of the Spring"
("L'Inaugurazione della Primavera"), which contains most of Govoni's
best work in poems. His last book, a series of short stories, "La Santa
Verde" ("The Ardent Saint"), adds nothing to his fame. Most of them are
insignificant, colorless, reliefless, purposeless.

An attempt has been made by champions of Corrado Govoni to show that
"Base rivals, who true wit and merit hate" are forming a cabal to
prevent his getting his deserts. Fiumi, his last champion, does not
materially advance his claim.

Such, in all their diversity, are the Futurists. There is no common
formula which describes them. They have a programme which, like that of
the Socialists, must from its very nature lack specificity. They are not
very definitely organized and many who enrolled under their banner in
the enthusiasm of youth soon deserted the cause. But meanwhile they got
sufficient inspiration and impetus to throw off the shackles of
tradition and to taste the pleasure of exploration. More often they get
purged of a kind of literary preciosity which makes for their well-being
and usefulness. The programme of the Futurist is of little importance in
itself, but it is of great importance as a symptom of tendencies now
agitating the minds of the younger generation in Italy. It may be that
their efforts will constitute the small end of the wedge by which
Romanticism and Verism shall be burst asunder like the Dragon of Bel's
Temple.



CHAPTER V

GIOVANNI PAPINI AND THE FUTURISTIC LITERARY MOVEMENT IN ITALY


In one of his "Appreciations"--depreciations would be the more fitting
word--Signor Papini says he seems to have read or to have said that in
every man there are at least four men: the real man, the man he would
like to be, the man he thinks he is, and the man others think he is. He
is sure to have read it, for he has read widely. Undoubtedly he has also
said it, for he has made a specialty of saying things that have been
said before--even that he has said before.

As for the man he thinks he is, he has written a long autobiography with
plentiful data, from which it may be deduced that he is a man with great
possibilities and a great mission, to wit, to precipitate in Italy a
spiritual revolution, to bring to his countrymen the gospel that it is
time to be up and doing and that intoxication with past successes will
not condone present inertness. He has been chosen to teach men that the
best of life is to be found in purposeful action regardless of
inconsistencies, contradictions, and imperfections; that the ego should
be guided peripherally not centrically; that introspection is the
stepping-stone to mental involution. In reality, he is but one of many
who are proclaiming those tidings in Italy.

The distinction between what he would like to be and what he thinks he
is, is not so marked as in more timid and less articulate souls.
Substantially, it is this same calling of prophecy which is his aim. As
for the man he is, time and his own accomplishments alone will show.
Now, at the zenith of his creative power, he is still a man of promise,
a carrier-pigeon freighted with an important message who, instead of
delivering it, exhausts himself beating his wings in a luminous void.

In Giovanni Papini these four aspects stand out very distinctly. Let us
take them up in inverse order, since what others think of a man is soon
stated and what he really is is a vague goal, to be approached only
distantly, even at the end of this paper. Mr. Reginald Turner says:
"Papini is by far the most interesting and most important living writer
of Italy. 'L'Uomo Finito' has become a classic in Italy; it is written
in the most distinguished Italian; it can be read again and again with
increasing profit and interest ... its Italian is impeccable and clear.
Mr. J. S. Barnes calls him the most notable personality on the stage of
Italian letters to-day," and Signor G. Prezzolini writes: "His mind is
so vast, so human, that it will win its way into the intellectual
patrimony of Europe." I cannot go all the way with these adherents of
Signor Papini. I have talked with scores of cultured Italians about his
writings and I have heard it said, "He has acquired an enviable mastery
of the Italian language," but I have never once heard praise of his
"impeccable and clear Italian"; nor do I hold with Mr. Barnes that he is
unquestionably the most notable personality save D'Annunzio on the stage
of Italian letters to-day. We would scarcely call Mr. Shaw the most
notable personality on the stage of English letters to-day. Surely it
would be an injustice to Mr. Kipling, Mr. Wells, and Mr. Conrad. It
might be unjust to Mr. Swinnerton.

Signor Papini is an interesting literary figure, particularly as a sign
of the times. During the past generation there has been in Italy a
profound revolt against what may be called satisfaction with and
reverence for past performances and against slavish subscription to
French, German, and Russian realism. It is to a group of writers who
call themselves Futurists and who see in the designation praise rather
than opprobrium that this salutary, beneficial, and praiseworthy
movement is due.

Signor Papini has publicly read himself out of the party, but apostasy
of one kind or another is almost as necessary to him as food, and most
people still regard him as a Futurist, though he refuses to subscribe to
the clause in the constitution of the literary Futurists of Italy
bearing on love, published by their monarch Signor Marinetti in that
classic of Futuristic literature "Zang Tumb Tumb" and in "Democrazia
Futurista."

It is now twenty years since there appeared unheralded in Florence a
literary journal called the _Leonardo_, whose purpose in the main seemed
to be to overthrow certain philosophic and socialistic doctrines,
Positivism and Tolstoian ethics. The particularly noteworthy articles
were signed Gian Falco. It soon became known that the writer was one
Giovanni Papini, a contentious, self-confident youth of peculiarly
inquisitive turn of mind, and of sensitiveness bordering on the
pathological, an omnivorous reader, an aggressive debater. He was hailed
by a group of youthful literary enthusiastics as a man of promise.

In the twenty years that have elapsed since then he has written more
than a score of books, short stories, essays, criticisms, poetry,
polemics, some of which, such as "L'Uomo Finito" ("The Played-Out Man"),
"Venti Quattro Cervelli" ("Twenty-four Minds"), and "Cento Pagine di
Poesia" ("One Hundred Pages of Poetry"), have been widely read in Italy
and have known several editions. Save for a few short stories, he has
not appeared in English, though there seems to be propaganda in his
behalf directed by himself and by his friends of his publishing-house in
Florence to make him known to foreigners. Like other Italian propaganda
it has not been very successful and this is to be regretted. It is due
in part to the fact his advocates have claimed too much for him.

Signor Papini is like Mr. Arnold Bennett in that they both know the
reading public are personally interested in authors. From the beginning
he and his friends have capitalized his poverty of pulchritude and his
pulchritudinous poverty. Signor Giuseppe Prezzolini, in a book entitled
"Discorso su Giovanni Papini" has devoted several pages to his person,
which, he writes, "is like those pears, coarse to the touch but sweet to
the palate," yet I am moved to say that the eye long habituated to
resting lovingly upon somatic beauty does not blink nor is it pained
when it rests upon Giovanni Papini.

In one of his latest books--it is never safe to say which is really his
last, unless you stand outside the door of the bindery of _La Voce_--in
one of his latest books, entitled "Testimonials," the third series of
"Twenty-four Brains," he reverts to this, and says that his person is
"so repugnant that Mirabeau, world-famed for his ugliness, was compared
with him an Apollo."

He does not get the same exquisite pleasure from deriding his qualities
of soul, but, as the face is the mirror of the soul, no one is
astonished to learn that "this same Papini is the gangster of
literature, the tough of journalism, the Barabbas of art, the dwarf of
philosophy, the straddler of politics, and the Apache of culture and
learning." Nevertheless, no prudent, sensitive man should permit himself
to say this or anything approximating it in Papini's hearing, for not
only has he a card index of substantives that convey derogation, but he
has perhaps the fullest arsenal of adjectives in Italy, and has
habituated himself to the use of them, both with and without
provocation.

I have been told by his schoolmates and by those whom he later essayed
to teach that as a youth he was inquisitive about the nature of things
and objects susceptible to physical and chemical explanation. His
writings indicate that his real seduction was conditioned by philosophic
questions. Early in life he displayed a symptom which is common to many
psychopaths--an uncontrollable desire to read philosophical writers
beyond their comprehension. In the twenty years that he has been
publishing books he has constantly returned to this practice, as shown
by his "Twilight of the Philosophers," "The Other Half," and
"Pragmatism."

His first articles in the _Leonardo_, which now make up the volume known
as "Il Tragico Quotidiano e il Pilota Cieco" ("The Tragedy of Every Day
and the Blind Pilot"), are sketches and fantasies of a personal kind,
some of them fanciful and charming, some with a touch of inspired
extravagance that recall Baudelaire and Poe, and faintly echo Oscar
Wilde's "Bells and Pomegranates," Dostoievsky's "Poor People," and
Leonida Andreieff's "Little Angel." Some of the stories have a weird
touch. Others are founded in obsession that form the ancillæ of
psychopathy. Take, for instance, the man with a feeling of unreality who
did not really exist in flesh and blood but was only a figure in the
dream of some one else, and who felt that he would be vivified if only
he could find the sleeper and arouse him. This idea is not of infrequent
occurrence in that strange disorder, dementia precox; take again the man
who found his life dull and who covenanted with a novelist to do his
bidding in exchange for being made an interesting character; and the two
men who changed souls; and the talks with the devil interpreting
scripture. All these awaken an echo in the reader's mind of either
having been heard before or they bring the hope that they never will be
heard again.

Although his early writings had an arresting quality, it was not until
he undertook to edit some Italian classics published under the title of
"I Nostri Scrittori" ("Our Writers") that they began to take on the
features that have since become characteristic and which have been
described by his admirers as "rugged, vigorous, virile, rich,
neologistic," and everything else the antithesis of pussy-foot. This
feature, if feature it can be called, showed itself first in "L'Uomo
Finito," a book which is admitted to be an autobiography. It introduces
us to an ugly, sensitive, introspective, mentally prehensile child of
shut-in personality who is not only egocentric at seven but who loves
and exalts himself and despises and disparages others.

This unlovable child with an insatiate appetite for information found
his way to a public library and determined to write an encyclopædia of
all knowledge. His juvenile frenzy came its first cropper when he
reached the letter "B," and he was submerged with the Bible and with
God. The task was too big, he had to admit, but his ambition to
accomplish some great and thorough piece of work was undaunted. He began
a compendium of religions, then of literature, and last of the Romance
languages.

These successive attempts at completeness are typical of Papini's
far-reaching ambitions. "The Played-Out Man" is a record of his plunge
into one absorption after another. He discovered evil, and planned not
only individual suicide but suicide of the people _en masse_. Next came
the desire for love. His instincts were of a sort not to be satisfied by
the conventional sweetness of "I Promessi Sposi," but from Poe, Walt
Whitman, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Dostoievsky, and Anatole France he got a
vicarious appeasement of the sentiment he craved. Then he encountered
"dear Julian." "We never kissed each other and we never cried together,"
but he could not forgive Julian for allowing his friend to learn of his
matrimony only through the _Corriere della Sera_.

The brief emotional episode past, Papini's life interest swung back to
philosophy. He discovered Monism, and believed it like a religion. Then
Kant became his ideal, then Berkeley, Mill, Plato, Locke, culminating in
the glorified egotism of Max Stirner. After Stirner philosophy has no
more to say. Down with it all! It is necessary to liberate the world
from the yoke of these mumblers, just as Papini has liberated himself.
But how to do it! Ah, yes! Found a journal that will purge the world of
its sins, as the Great Revolution purged France of royalty.

Thus Papini's literary work had its beginning. It takes several
tempestuous chapters of the autobiography to describe the launching of
the _Leonardo_ by himself and a few congenial souls. Nine numbers marked
the limit of its really vigorous life, but it ran, with Papini as its
chief source of material, for five years. Ultimately, with the
dissipation of the author's youthful energy, this child of his bosom had
to be interred. But Papini still goes to its grave.

The tumultuous, introspective life of the author continued. He went
through a period of self-pity and neurasthenia, then one of intense
hero-worship directed toward all radicals, including William James, whom
he had once seen washing his neck. Then came an immense desire for
action, hindered, however, by the fact that the author could not decide
whether to found a school of philosophy, become the prophet of a
religion, or go into politics. His only inherent conviction concerns the
stupidity of the world and his own calling to rise above it. This long,
internal history ends with a period of sweeping depression, out of which
the author at last emerges with the intense conviction that he is not,
after all, played out, that there is still matter in him to give the
world. He feels welling up within him a stream of arrogance and
self-confidence that is not to be dammed. He has not yet delivered his
message; people have not yet understood him.

    "They cannot grasp it, cannot bear to listen.
    The thing I have to tell, unthought before,
    Demands another language."

So he goes back to the market-place of Florence, shouting: "I have not
finished. I am not played out. You shall see." And it is at this stage
that Signor Papini's work now stands. We wait to see.

The "L'Uomo Finito" is Signor Papini's G. P. No. 2. It is not fiction in
the ordinary use of the term; any more than "Undying Fire" of Mr. Wells
is. In a measure it is fiction like "The Way with All Flesh" of Samuel
Butler. But in point of interest and workmanship it is far inferior to
the former and in purposefulness, character delineation, orientation,
resurrection, and reform it is not to be compared with the latter.

Although it is the book by which Signor Papini is best known, it is not
his love-child. "The Twilight of the Philosophers" is. He is proud to
call it his intellectual biography, but it would be much truer to call
it an index of his emotional equation. "This is not a book of good
faith. It is a book of passion, therefore of injustice, an unequal book,
partisan, without scruples, violent, contradictory, unsolid, like all
books of those who love and hate and are not ashamed of their love or
their hatred." This is the introductory paragraph of the original
preface.

In reality it is a cross between a philosophic treatise and a popular
polemic, with the technical abstruseness of the one and the passion of
the other, and its purpose is to show that all philosophy is vain and
should make way for action. Although it indicates wide and attentive
reading and a certain erudition, the only indication of constructive
thought that it reveals is a rudimentary attempt to adjust the
philosophic system of each man to the temperamental bias of the author.
Others, Santayana for instance, have done this so much better that there
is scarcely justification for his pride. He could have carried his point
quite as successfully by stating it as by laboring it through a whole
volume devoted largely to railing both at philosophers and at their
philosophy.

From the point of view of the philosopher this book is "popular." From
the standpoint of the people it is "philosophical." It is really a
testimonial to the author's breathless state of emotional unrest. He is
like a bird in a cage and he feels that he must beat down the barriers
in order to accomplish freedom, but when they are fractured and he is
apparently free there is no sense of liberation. He is in a far more
secure prison than he was before, and to make matters worse he cannot
now distinguish the barriers that obstacle his freedom. The wonder is
not that a man of the temperament and intellectual endowment of Signor
Papini has this feeling, but that he can convince himself that any one
else should be interested in his discovery.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words, and the mistake is to consider
words linked up as subject, predicate, and object, especially if the
substantives are qualified by lurid adjectives, the equivalent of
knowledge. He knows the "ars scrivendi" as Aspasia knew the "ars
amandi"; Papini knows the value of symbolic, eye-arresting, suggestive
titles. He realizes the importance of overstatement and of exaggerated
emphasis; he is cognizant of the insatiateness of the average human
being for gossip and particularly gossip about the great; he recognizes
that there is no more successful way of flattering the mediocre than by
pointing out to him the shortcomings of the gods, for thus does he
identify their possessions with his own and convince himself that he
also is a god. Papini's sensitive soul whispers to him that the majority
of people will think him brave, courageous, valorous, resolute,
virtuous, and firm if he will adopt a certain pose, a certain manner, a
certain swagger that will convey his grim determination to carry his
mission to the world though it takes his last breath, the last glow of
his mortal soul.

"They wished me to be a poet; here, therefore, is a little poetry," is
the opening line of his book called "Cento Pagine di Poesia," and this,
though not in verse, is characterized by such imaginative beauty, more
in language, however, than in thought, that it is worthy to be called a
poem. More than any other of his books it reveals the real Papini. Here
he is less truculent, less Nietzschian, less self-conscious of
understudying and attempting to act the parts of Jove. He is more like
the Papini that he is by nature, and therefore more human, more kind and
gentle--would I could add modest--more potent and convincing, than in
any of his other books. It is especially in the third part, under the
general title of "Precipitations," that the author gives the freest rein
to his fantasy and is not always endeavoring to explain or tell the
reason why, but abandons himself to the production of words which will
present rhythmically the emotions that are springing up within him. It
is difficult to believe that the same hand penned these poems and the
open letter to Anatole France beginning: "In these days Anatole France
is in Rome, and perhaps returning he will stop in Florence, but I beg
him fervently not to seek me out. I could not receive him." That quality
of delusion of grandeur I have seen heretofore only in victims of a
terrible disease.

Signor Papini is never so transparent as he is in his "Stroncatura" and
in his excursions into the realm of philosophy. His attack on Nietzsche
is most illuminating. In fact, Giovanni Papini is Frederick Nietzsche
viewed through an inverted telescope. "Nietzsche's volubility
(indication of easy fatigue) makes him prefer the fragmentary and
aphoristic style of expression; his incapacity to select from all that
which he has thought and written leads him to publish a quantity of
useless and repeated thought; his reluctance to synthetize, to
construct, to organize, which gives to his books an air of oriental
stuff, a mixture of old rags and of precious drapery, jumbled up without
order, are the best arguments for imputing to him a deficiency of
imperial mentality, a reflex of the general weakness of philosophy. But
the most unexpected proof of this weakness consists in his incapacity to
be truly and authentically original. The highest and most difficult
forms of originality are certainly these two: to find new interpretation
and solution of old problems, to pose new problems and to open streets
absolutely unknown."

No one can examine closely the writings of Signor Papini without
recognizing that he has shown himself incapable of selecting from that
which he has written and thought and of setting it forth as a statement
of his philosophy or as an Apologia pro Sua Vita. Constant republication
of the same statements and the same ideas dressed up with different
synonyms is a charge that can be brought with justice. It can be
substantiated not only by his books but by _La Vraie Italie_, an organ
of intellectual liaison between Italy and other countries directed by
Signor Papini, which had a brief existence in 1919, a considerable
portion of which was taken up with republication of the old writings of
the director.

Even the most intemperate of his admirers would scarcely contend that he
merits being called original, judged by his own standards. At one time
in his life Nietzsche was undoubtedly his idol, and I can think of the
juvenile Papini No. 3 suggesting that he model himself after the
Teutonic descendant of Pasiphae and the bull of Poseidon. Thus did he
appease his morbid sensitiveness and soothe his pathological erethism by
enveloping himself in an armor made up of rude and uncouth words, of
sentiment and of disparagement; of raillery against piety, reverence,
and faith; of contempt for tradition. In fact, he seemed equipped with a
special apparatus for pulling roots founded in the tender emotions. He
would pretend that he is superior to the ordinary mortal to whom love in
its various display, sentiment in its manifold presentations, dependence
upon others in its countless aspects are as essential to happiness as
the breath of the nostrils is essential to life. In secret, however, he
is not only dependent upon it, he is beholden to it.

When he assumes his most callous and indifferent air, when he is least
cognizant of the sensitiveness of others, when in brief he is speaking
of his fellow countrymen, Signore D'Annunzio, Mazzoni, Bertacchi, Croce,
and up until recently when he speaks of God or religion, he reminds me
of that extraordinary and inexplicable type of individual whom we have
had "in our midst" since time immemorial, but who had greater vogue in
the time of Petronius than he has to-day.

Although the majority of these persons are _au fond_ proud of their
endowment, the world at large scoffs at them; and in primitive countries
such as our own it kicks at them; therefore they are quick to see the
advantage of assuming an air of crass indifference and, with the swagger
of the social corsair, to express a brutal insensitiveness to the
æsthetic and the hedonistic to which in reality they vibrate. They never
deceive themselves, and Signor Papini does not deceive himself. He knows
his limitations, and the greatest of them are that he is timid, lacking
in imagination, in sense of humor, and in originality. He is as
dependent upon love as a baby is upon its bottle.

When writing about himself he hopes the reader will identify him only
with the characters whose thoughts and actions are flattering, but the
real man is to be identified with some of the characters whom he desires
his public to think fictitious. In one of his short stories he narrates
a visit to a world-famed literary man. He describes his trip to the
remote city that he may lay the modest wreath plated from the pride of
his mind and his heart at the feet of his idol. He finds him a
commonplace, almost undifferentiated lump of clay with a more
commonplace, slatternly wife and even more hopelessly commonplace
children. His repute is dependent wholly upon the skill with which he
manipulates a card index and pigeon-holes. Papini fled to escape
contemplation of himself and the fragments of the sacred vessel.

Signor Papini has been an omnivorous reader along certain lines; he has
been a tireless writer, and he is notorious for his neologistic
logorrhea, but the possession which stands in closest relation to his
literary reputation is his indexed collection of words, phrases, and
sentences. This, plus knowing by heart the poetry of Carducci, and his
envy of Benedetto Croce for having obtained the repute of being one of
the most fertile philosophic minds of his age, and his advocacy of the
gospel of strenuousness, is the framework upon which he has ensheathed
his house of letters.

No study of the man or of his work can neglect one aspect of his
career--his constant change of position. He knocks with breathless
anxiety at the door of some new world, and no sooner does he secure
entrance and see the pleasant valley of Hinnom than he feels the lure of
black Gehenna and is seized with an uncontrollable desire to explore it.
When he returns he hastens to the public forum and announces his
discoveries, preferring to tell of the gewgaws which he discovered than
to expatiate on the few jewels which he gathered.

His last production augurs well for him, because it indicates that
finally he will bathe in the pool of the five porches at Jerusalem, the
World War having troubled its water instead of an angel. November 30,
1919, he published in the most widely circulated and influential
newspaper of Central Italy, the _Resto del Carlino_, an article entitled
"Amore e Morte" ("Love and Death"), which sets forth that he has had
that experience which the Christian calls "seeing a great light, knowing
a spiritual reincarnation," and which those whom Papini has been
supposed to represent call a pitiable defalcation, a spiritual
bankruptcy.

On February 21, 1913, he proclaimed in the Costanzi Theatre of Rome that
"in order to reach his power man must throw off religious faith, not
only Christianity or Catholicism, but all mystic, spiritualistic,
theosophic faiths and beliefs." Now he has discovered Jesus. In his
literary ruminations he has come upon the gospels of Matthew, Mark,
Luke, and John, which set forth the purpose and teachings of our Lord
and which have convinced countless living and dead of His divinity. We
must forswear egocentrism; we must stop making obeisance to materialism;
we must cease striving for success, comfort, or power. Such efforts led
to the massacre of yesterday, to the agony of to-day, and are
conditioning our eternal perdition. Salvation is within ourselves, the
Kingdom of Heaven is within our hearts, he who seeks it without is a
blind man led by a blind guide. The road over which we must travel is
bordered on either side by seductive pastures from which gush
life-giving springs, topped with luxurious trees of soul-satisfying
color that protect from the blazing sun or the congealing wind, and on
either side are pathways so softly cushioned that even the most tender
feet may tread them without fear of wound or blister. The sign-posts to
this road are the four little volumes written two thousand years ago.

No one unfamiliar with that strange disorder of the mind called the
manic depressive psychosis can fully understand Signor Papini. There is
no one more sane and businesslike than the former Futurist, yet the
reactions of his supersensitive nature have some similarity with this
mental condition present, in embryo, in many people. In that mysterious
malady there is a period of emotional, physical, and intellectual
activity that surmounts every obstacle, brushes aside every barrier,
leaps over every hurdle. During its dominancy the victim respects
neither law not convention; the goal is his only object. He doesn't
always know where he is going and he isn't concerned with it; he is
concerned only with going. When the spectator sees the road over which
he has travelled on his winged horse he finds it littered with the
débris that Pegasus has trampled upon and crushed.

This period of hyperactivity is invariably followed by a time of
depression, of inadequacy, of emotional barrenness, of intellectual
sterility, of physical impotency, of spiritual frigidity. The sun from
which the body and the soul have had their warmth and their glow falls
below the horizon of the unfortunate's existence and he senses the
terrors of the dark and the rigidity of beginning congelation. Then,
when hope and warmth have all but gone and only life, mere life without
color or emotion remains, and the necessity of living forever in a world
perpetually enshrouded in darkness with no differentiation in the débris
remaining after the tornado, then the sun gradually peeps up,
illuminates, warms, revives, fructifies the earth, and the sufferer
becomes normal--normal save in the moments or hours of fear when he
contemplates having again to brave the hurricane or to breast the
deluge. But once the wind begins to blow with a velocity that bespeaks
the readvent of the tornado, he throws off inhibition and goes out in
the open, holds up the torch that shall light the whole world, and with
his megaphone from the top of Helicon shouts: "This way to the
revolution."

In a relative sense, this is the mode of Signor Papini. He is fascinated
by the beauty and perfections of an individual or of a school and he
will enroll himself a member, but before he gets thoroughly initiated he
gets word of another individual or another school which must be
investigated. In the intoxication he defames and often slays his
previous mistress. Thus his whole life has been given to the task of
discovering a new philosophy, a new poetry, a new romance, a new
prophecy, and their makers. In the ecstasy of discovery he cannot resist
smashing the idol of yesterday that his pedestal may be free for the
more worthy one of to-day, and he cannot inhibit the impulse to rush off
to the composing-rooms of _La Voce_ to register his emotions in print.

In his desire to be famous he reminds one of those individuals who would
be liked by every one, and who will do anything save cease making the
effort. Pretending that he loves to have people hate him, he does not,
but he would rather have hate and disparagement than indifference or
neglect. He desires power, that unattainable he will be satisfied with
notoriety. He does not agree with a fellow poet that

    "On stepping stones we reach to higher dreams,
    And ever high and higher must we climb,
    Casting aside our burdens as we go,
    Till we have reached the mountain-tops sublime,
    Where purged from care and dross the free winds flow."

Were he a genius and at the same time had the industry that he has
displayed, he would be the equal of H. G. Wells, possibly the peer of
Bernard Shaw, but he is neither. He is simply a clever, industrious,
versatile, sensitive, emotional man of forty, whose mental juvenility
tends to cling to him. He has so long habituated himself to
overestimation and his admiring friends have been so injudicious in
praising his productions for qualities which they do not possess and
neglecting praiseworthy qualities which they do possess, that he is like
an object under a magnifying-glass out of focus.

But, as Papini himself says, he has not finished. He is still
comparatively a young man and the world awaits his accomplishment. If
the function he has chosen is that of agitation rather than
construction, of preparation rather than of building, he cannot be
totally condemned for that. His environment is in a condition where much
destruction is necessary before anything real can be evolved. And as the
apostle of this destruction Papini must be accepted. He stands as a
prophet, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare ye the
way--'"; and the generations will show whether it is indeed a highway he
has opened.



CHAPTER VI

TWO NOISY ITALIAN SCHOOLMASTERS


The most diverting and conspicuous figures in the literary world of
Italy to-day are two old school-teachers, Alfredo Panzini, humanist, and
Luigi Pirandello, satirist. Both of them have earned a permanent fame
and their fecundity seems to be increasing with age.

Alfredo Panzini, a pedagogue by profession, is a writer by dint of long
training. Born in Senigaglia, a small town in the Province of Ancona, in
1863, he called Carducci master. After serving a long literary
apprenticeship compiling grammars, readers, dictionaries, anthologies,
his name began to appear in journals and magazines, and gradually he has
forged his way to the front rank as an episodist, an interpreter of the
feelings and sentiments of the average man and woman and their
spokesman, and as a master of prose.

In appearance he is a typical lower middle-class Italian, short, stout,
and ruddy, a kindly, benevolent face, with contented eyes that look at
you uninquiringly from behind gold-rimmed spectacles. One might gather
from looking at him that he had asked but little from the world and got
more than he asked.

His writings display an intimate familiarity with a few classic writers,
especially of Greece and Italy, which he reveals by frequent and
appropriate quotations and references, contrasting the sayings and
doings of the venerated ancients with those of the not always deprecated
modern. He knows the emotional desires and reactions of the average man;
he senses his aspirations and his appeasements; he has keen
understanding of his virtues and his infirmities. He knows his potential
and actual pleasures, and he reveals this understanding of his fellows
to us in a diverting and instructive way and at the same time shows us
idealistic vistas of life and conduct that are most refreshing. It is to
be regretted that he is not equally enlightened about women. If he knows
their aspirations he denies the legitimacy of them; if he discerns their
future he refuses to forecast it; if he knows feminine psychology his
writings do not reveal it. He is the traveller ascending from the plains
whose pleasure is in looking backward to survey the paths over which he
has travelled, to describe the beauty of the country and its
associations, and to moralize about them. Elevations in front of him
from which one may legitimately anticipate more comprehensive vistas he
refuses to consider, or, if constrained to do so, denies that what shall
be seen from them will compare with what he sees and has seen.

His two most successful and commendable books are "La Lanterna di
Diogene" ("Diogenes' Lantern") and "Xantippe." The first is a narrative
of sentimental wandering in which he describes the commonplace world and
the homely conflict of those whom he encounters, and in which he
displays not only tolerance, but love of his fellow men. He is sometimes
playful, more often ironical, but never disparaging or vituperative, and
his prose is clear, limpid--sometimes, indeed, sparkling.

His "Xantippe" does not deal particularly with the virtues or
infirmities of that renowned shrew. It recounts many incidents in the
life, trial, and incarceration of Socrates which, while still redounding
to his fame, are made to show by contrasting them with man's conduct and
customs to-day the weaknesses, inconsistencies, and fallacies of many
conventions of the twentieth century.

"Il Viaggio di un Povero Letterato" ("The Wanderings of a Poor Writer")
shows the same simple-minded, charming vagabondage as "Diogenes'
Lantern." It was published in 1912, when many readers did not share his
distrust of Germany or hold with him in his forecasts. Many of his
statements are to-day prophecies fulfilled.

It is not an imaginary man of letters who starts on a trip in obedience
to a doctor's orders. It is Alfredo Panzini, exhausted from many labors.
He goes wherever his fancy takes him, to Vicenza, Bologna, Pisa, Venice,
and it is with the literary memories of these places that he is chiefly
concerned. At Pisa it is Leopardi, Shelley, and Byron; at Vicenza,
Fogazzaro; but at Bologna the memories become more personal. Here he sat
at the feet of Carducci and learned to love and respect him; here his
budding fancies first showed indications of blooming; here he first
essayed amatory flights. He chances upon an old flame of his student
days leading the old life in the old home, except that she had taken to
writing poems and insists on having his opinion of them. His account of
how he succeeded in meeting her wishes and still maintained his
self-respect is a masterpiece of ingenuousness. The least thing suffices
to start a train of thought and reflection or to decide his next
tarrying-place. The volume ends with an interesting account of a visit
to the birthplace of Pascoli, the socialist and idealist poet of the
Romagna.

In his "Piccole Storie del Mondo Grande" he describes a pilgrimage to
the country of Leopardi, and to Umbria. It is filled with little
anecdotes of literary immortals who wandered there, and of references
that are more significant to Italians than to foreigners, and through it
all there is a strange, melancholy humor which is quite characteristic
of Panzini.

The two novels which he has written show that he has the art of the
story-teller in narration, sequence, and constructiveness, but they lack
what the dramatists call action. "Io Cerco Moglie" ("I Seek a Wife") is
his best work. Ginetto Sconer, who oozes prosperity and
self-satisfaction, proceeds in a businesslike way to select a wife. He
consults a pastry-cook and a doctor, to the great glee of the reader. He
sees women in three categories: those who presume to disturb the dreams
of anchorites and are still men's pleasure and despair; the aristocratic
blue-stocking; and the domestic paragon. He had not contemplated
marrying a blue-stocking or even aspiring to blue blood, but when he
meets Countess Ghiselda he realizes that ambition expands with amatory
awakement. Her freedom is handicapped by the attentions of a Futuristic
poet whose intellectual productions and antics are amusing to every one
save Cavaliere Sconer. He has peeps into spiritual and emotional vistas,
but he yields finally to the flesh-box and woos the daughter of the
woman who places a caramel in the mouth of her husband every morning
before he goes to his office.

Signor Panzini knows the present-day Borghese, their thoughts, their
virtues, their absurdities, and their charm, and he has depicted them in
this book in the most interesting way.

Signor Panzini is not what is called a feminist fan, and he utilizes
Ginetto Sconer, who is seeking the ideal mate, as a mouthpiece for his
own convictions and sentiments concerning women. Italy is likely to be
one of the last countries that will yield woman the freedom for
emotional and intellectual development to which she is entitled, and
when it comes, as it is bound to do, it will be despite the kindly and
sentimental protests and ironies of such oppositionists as Signor
Panzini.

"La Madonna di Mamà" ("The Madonna of Mamma") is, in addition to a
splendid character study, a revelation of the disturbance caused in a
gentle and meditative soul, his own, by the war. For, in reality, like
so many Italian writers, Panzini is autobiographical in everything that
he writes. In this book he has shown more insight of feminine psychology
than in any of his other writings, though he is more successful with
Donna Barberina, who represents modern Italian emotional repressions,
than with the English governess, Miss Edith, who forecasts in a timid
way what her countrywomen have obtained. Nevertheless, the strength of
the story is the evolution of the moral and intellectual nature of
Aquilino, to whom the reader is partial from the first page, and Count
Hypolyte, who is "too good to be true." Aquilino is what Alfredo Panzini
would have been had he encountered Conte Ippolito in his early youth.
The reader who makes his acquaintance identifies him with the future
glory of Italy, the type of youth who has no facilitation to success
save ideals and integrity.

Many of his short stories--such as "Novelle d'Ambo i Sessi" ("Stories of
Both Sexes"), "Le Chicche di Noretta" ("The Gewgaws of Little
Nora")--have elicited great praise. To-day Panzini has the reputation of
being one of the most gifted writers of Italy. He has come to his
patrimony very slowly. Without being in the smallest way like George
Meredith or Henry James, his writings have experienced a reception
similar to theirs in so far as it has been said of them that they are
hard to understand. It is difficult for a foreigner to give weight to
this accusation. The reader who once gets a familiarity with them
becomes an enthusiast. To him Panzini is one of the most readable of all
Italian writers. To be sure, if one reads "Xantippe" it is to be
expected that more or less will be said about Socrates and about the
customs and habits of Athens of that day. The same is true of Diogenes
and his lantern. It is also likely that when a man of literary training
and taste wanders about the country, writing of his encounters, he will
be likely to write of people and things, which, when others read them,
will presuppose a certain culture, but the reader who has the misfortune
to lack it need not hesitate to read the books of Signor Panzini. He
will have a certain degree of it after he has read them and he will get
possessed of it without effort. It is not at all unlikely that Signor
Panzini writes his stories and novels in much the same way as he writes
his dictionaries, namely, laboriously. His later writings have some
indication of having been thrown off in a white heat of creative passion
without preparation or conscious premeditation, but most of his books
bear the hallmarks of careful planning, methodical execution,
painstaking revision, and careful survey after completion that the
writer may be sure that his creation exposed to the gaze and criticism
of his fellow beings shall be as perfect as he can make it both from his
own knowledge and from the knowledge of others assimilated and
integrated by him.

The position which Panzini holds in the Italian world of letters to-day
is the index of the protest against the writings of D'Annunzio. Panzini
is sane, normal, human, gentle, kindly. He sees the facts of life as
they are; he fears the ascendancy of materialism; his hopes are that
man's evolutionary progress shall be spiritual, and he does not
anticipate the advent of a few supermen who shall administer the affairs
of the planet.

Alfredo Panzini may finally get a place in Italian letters comparable to
that of Pascoli, and should his call to permanent happiness be delayed
until he has achieved the days allotted by the psalmist he is likely to
have the position in Italian letters which Joseph Conrad has in English
letters to-day. This statement is not tantamount to an admission that it
is to writers like Panzini that we are to look for new developments in
imaginative literature. They will be found rather amongst a group of
writers who are the very antithesis of him--the Futurists.

The successor to the literary fame of Giacosa is Luigi Pirandello,
another schoolmaster. His earlier writings were cast as romances, but
latterly he has confined himself largely to stage-pieces which reflect
our moralities, satirize our conventions, and lampoon our hypocrisies.
His diction is idiomatic and telling. It reminds of de Maupassant and of
Bernard Shaw. Either he inherited an unusual capacity for verbal
expression or he has cultivated it assiduously.

He is Panzini's junior by three years, having been born in Girgenti,
June 28, 1867. His father was an exporter of sulphur, and his early life
was spent amongst the simple, passionate, emotional, tradition-loving
people of southern Sicily. Unlike his fellow Sicilians, Verga and
Capuana, he has not utilized them to any considerable degree as the
mouthpiece of his satiric comments and reflections on social life. He
has taken the more sophisticated if less appealing people of northern
and central Italy, and puts them in situations from which they extricate
themselves or get themselves more hopelessly entangled for the reader's
amusement or edification. In his last comedy, "L'uomo, la Bestia, e la
Virtu" ("Man, Beast, and Virtue"), the scene is laid "in a city on the
sea, it doesn't matter where," yet the characters are typically
Sicilian.

After graduating from the University of Rome, Pirandello studied at Bonn
and made some translations of Goethe's "Roman Elegies." Soon after he
returned to Rome he published a book of verse and a book of short
stories which made no particular stir. It was not until he published "Il
fu Mattia Pascal" ("The Late Mattias Pascal") that he obtained any real
success. Critics consider it still his best effort in the field of
romance. From the standpoint of construction it deserves the
commendation that it has received, but both the luck and the plans of
the hero are too successful to be veristic, and the eventuations of his
daily existence so far transcend ordinary experience that the reader
feels the profound improbability of it all and loses interest. One
pursues a novel that he may see the revelations of his own experiences
or what he might wish his experiences to be under certain circumstances.
When these circumstances get out of hand or when the events that
transpire are so improbable, or so antipathic, that the reader cannot
from his experience or imagination consider them likely or probable,
then the novel does not interest him. Moreover, the Anglo-Saxon reader,
unless he has lived in Italy, finds the flavor of many passages "too
high"--certain experiences are related in unnecessary detail. Like a
Cubist picture the charm and the beauty disappear in proportion with the
nearness with which it is viewed and the closeness with which it is
examined.

In reality, Pirandello did not get his stride until he began to concern
himself with social and domestic problems, such as those depicted under
the title of "Maschere Nude" ("Naked Masks"). In the play "Il Piacere
dell' Onestà" ("The Pleasure of Honesty"), he pictures a new type of
ménage à trois: the "unhappy" husband in love with the mature daughter
of an aristocratic Philistine mother, who, when she must needs have a
husband for conventional satisfaction, appeals to a facile male cousin
who finds in a ne'er-do-well disciple of Descartes one who is willing to
act the part vicariously, the apparent quid pro quo being the payment of
his gambling debts. The hypocritical, bombastic lover; the sentimental
mother with a "family complex"; the anguishing, passionate daughter; the
suave, aristocratic male procurer, and finally he who was to be the
victim of the machinations of these experienced persons, but who proves
to be the victor because he plays the game in a way new to them--that
is, straight--each in turn delivers herself or himself of sentiments and
convictions that reveal the social hypocrisies and conventional lies
which form the scaffolding and supports of what is called "every-day
life," and give Pirandello an opportunity to display his irony, his
sarcasm, and his humor. The art of Pirandello is a subtle play of
paradoxes and analyses of motives which are second nature to persons
called complex, the result of inherited and acquired artificialities. To
get the full effect of these paradoxes and analyses the closest
attention of the reader and of the auditor is required, and as a matter
of fact Pirandello's comedies read much better than they play. Those who
know maintain that he has little capacity for stage technic, that he
knows nothing of the art of the stage. Hence his comedies have not had
the success of Giacosa and of Bracco.

As human documents they depend upon their humor and veiled irony more
than upon any other qualities. The humor, which seems to be obtained by
simple means, is nearly always the result of an analysis so fine, so
subtle, that sometimes one loses track of the premises on which it is
founded. He compels the attention of his reader and he makes him think.
Without such attention and thought the subtleties of Pirandello often
escape the reader. Sometimes he labors a point almost to a tiresome
degree, for instance, in the play "Così è se vi pare" ("It's so if You
Think It's so"). The central point is the identity of a woman, which
would seem, to the average individual, could be established readily
beyond peradventure, but the point is--is there anything that can be
established beyond peradventure? Is there any such thing as literal
truth? Is not truth in reality synonymous with belief, individual or
collective, or both? Discussion of questions of this sort may become
very tiresome, but Pirandello has the art of mixing them up with human
weaknesses and human virtues which makes the mixture not only palatable
but appetizing. In his last comedies--"Il Giuoco delle Parti" ("Each One
Plays His Own Rôle") and "Ma non è una Cosa Seria" ("But It isn't a
Serious Matter")--he reverts to matrimonial tangles and attempts at
disentanglement, depicting in the former the "temperamental" woman who
gets what she wants, but who finds when she gets it she does not want
it, and the long-suffering husband who is discerning enough to know how
to handle her by conceding what she demands that he may get what he
should have.

The man who usurps the conjugal privileges of the husband must also
discharge his obligations. So it transpires when his temperamental wife
has been insulted by some intoxicated gilded youths who by their conduct
in her house provoke a scandal in the neighborhood, it is necessary for
the _de facto_ husband to challenge the most aggressive of them to a
duel. During the excitement of the preparation the happy thought comes
to him to have the vicarious husband fight the duel. He does so and is
killed. The cause of all the trouble, the lady, is quite ignorant of
this arrangement and thinks the _de facto_ husband is battling with the
most invincible sword of the city and that he will get killed, which is
her desire. On returning to her house she finds her husband lunching as
if nothing unusual had happened. The dramatic climax soon comes when she
scornfully taunts him with having some one fight a duel for him and he
replies: "Not for me but for you."

The play gives Pirandello the opportunity to display his knowledge of
the sentiments and passions of the modern "high life" individual.
Although they talk and act and express familiar sentiment in a way that
makes one think they are real people, in reality they are unreal. They
are taken from the author's imagination rather than from real life.

The second comedy in this volume is much more meritorious than the
first. The author portrays characters who well might have existed in the
flesh. Gasparina, who has put twenty-seven years of continency behind
her and had achieved the direction of a second-class boarding-house, is
derided and maltreated by her "guests." The most swagger of her
boarders, who has been miraculously saved in a duel which followed a
broken engagement, has an original idea. He will make a mock marriage
with her and thus establish freedom from further love, annoyance, and
duels. She sees in the proposal escape from the boarding-house. In the
little villa of the country to which he sends her, under promise that
she is not to make herself evident and where he is not to visit her, she
blooms like a flower. In due course of time he falls in love again, and
in order that he may accomplish matrimony he must free himself from
Gasparina. This could be accomplished, as it never was consummated, but
the messenger, an old aspirant to her favor, is on the point of having
his aspirations realized when the husband in name only sees in Gasparina
the woman he really loves. The curtain falls at an opportune moment
before any hearts are broken or any blood is shed.

It is one of the plays of Pirandello that has had considerable success
on the stage.

He is in reality a finished workman, an accomplished stylist, a happy
colorist, and fecund withal. His most important of the stories are "Erma
bifronte" ("Deceitful Hermes"), "La Vita Nuda" ("Naked Life"), "La
Trappola" ("The Snare"), "E Domani ... lunedi" ("And
To-morrow--Monday"), "Un Cavallo Nella Luna" ("A Horse in the Moon"),
"Quand ero matto" ("When I was Crazy"), "Bianche e Nere" ("Blacks and
Whites"); his romances, in addition to the ones already mentioned, are
"I Vecchi e I Giovani" ("The Old and the Young"), and "Si Gira" ("One
Turns"), the most recent and poorest of them.

It would be a mistake to convey the impression that Pirandello is
universally admired in Italy. His stories and romances have an
adventuresome quality that transcend ordinary experience, and his plays
attempt to dispense with theatricalness and to substitute for it a
subtle analysis of life with corrosive comment, both of which are very
much resented.

It is strange that the Freudians have never explained the popularity of
plays and novels concerned wholly or largely with sexual relations that
infract convention and law as dominancy of the unconscious mind, a "wish
fulfilment" of the waking state. It may be assumed that three-fourths of
those who see and read them never have, and never contemplate (with
their conscious minds) having, similar experiences. They would be
scandalized were any one to assume that they approved such conduct.
Perhaps the explanation of the hold such literature has upon the public
is the same as the interest we have in the accounts of criminals seeking
to evade apprehension. It is not that we sympathize in any way with the
malefactor. We are lawmaking, law-abiding, law-upholding citizens, and
we know he ought not to escape, and, naturally, we hope he will be
caught. However, we cannot help thinking what we would do confronted
with his predicament. We feel that in his place we could circumvent the
sleuths and overcome what would be to the ordinary person insuperable
obstacles. Thus we divert ourselves imagining what we would do if we
were adulterous husbands, lecherous wives, lubricitous wooers, vicarious
spouses, while assuring ourselves we are not and could never be, and
plume ourselves that we could conduct ourselves even in nefariousness in
such a way as to escape detection or, if detected, to disarm criticism.
Meanwhile we enjoy being virtue-rewarded and vice-punished, for it is
only upon the stage or in books that it happens, save in exceptional
instances.



CHAPTER VII

IMPROVISIONAL ITALIAN LITERATURE OF TO-DAY AND YESTERDAY


I never fully appreciated how hazardous it is to speak of the literature
of a foreign country until I read an article in the _Tribuna_ of Rome,
signed Mario Vinciguerra, on Michaud's "Mystiques et Realistes
Anglo-Saxons," which seeks to disparage the originality of some of our
Transcendentalists, particularly Emerson, and to trace tendencies in our
literature. I hope that I may be more successful in reviewing some of
Italy's recent literature and in making an estimate of the merit of
those who are responsible for it than Signor Vinciguerra, who says the
two most potent romancers of living American writers are Jack London and
Upton Sinclair. At least I shall not say that Guido da Verona and
Salvator Gotta are the most potent romancers of Italy, and even I shall
not go so far as to say that Luciano Zuccoli is. Any writer who would
maintain that "Before the breaking out of the war the books that made
the greatest stir in the United States were Upton Sinclair's 'A Captain
of Industry,' 'The Jungle,' 'The Metropolis,' and Jack London's 'The
Iron Heel,'" would not write himself so hopelessly ignorant of American
literature as he would were he to claim that Harold Bell Wright and Rex
Beach were our leading novelists. Such contention would show either
unfamiliarity with our literature or dearth of understanding.

Previous to the war there was no such pouring out of literature in Italy
as there was in England, and there were few writers of fiction whose
output or content could be compared with that of Mr. H. G. Wells, Mr.
Arnold Bennett, Mr. Hugh Walpole, Mr. Gilbert Cannan, Mr. Compton
Mackenzie, Mr. D. H. Lawrence, and others. D'Annunzio had long since
ceased to write romances. Matilda Serao was in the twilight of her years
and literary career. Grazia Deledda was displaying stereotypy and
Zuccoli reploughed the familiar acre. French fiction was the favorite
pabulum of the Italian who would kill time, dispel ennui, and combat
dearth. Since then, however, there has been a great change and there is
every indication that Italians will provide literature for their
countrymen which will at least obviate the necessity of importation.

That it has not yet been accomplished, however, must be admitted in the
beginning. The young writers are like birds trying their wings, aerial
pilots striving for altitude tests. From their performances one is
justified in hoping, indeed believing, that they will go far and soar
high, but up to date Verga dominates the field of Italian fiction just
as Hardy dominates the field of English fiction.

No reference to the literature of to-day should fail to take note of the
fact that much of the most important and suggestive fiction does not
appear in book form, or at least not for a long time, but in periodicals
such as the monthlies and quarterlies, and also in such publications as
_Novella_ and _Comoedia_. No one can gain a familiarity with the hundred
or more active writers of fiction in Italy who does not see and read
such publications. They lend themselves readily to brevity and to that
speeding up which the Futurists urge, and they tend to do away with the
long-drawn-out descriptions which are the despair of the average reader.

Another feature of the newer literature which augurs well for it is that
its theme is not wholly portrayal of the genesic instinct and the
multiform perversions to which it has been subject by culture and which
Christianity has been unable materially to influence. We realize how
large the subject has bulked in the literature of every nation, but it
is probably not beyond the truth to say that it has bulked larger in the
modern literature of Italy even than of France.

It is natural that recent literature has begun to occupy itself with the
conditions of the people and to display awareness of the new
significance that they are giving to the words liberty and equality, and
an attempt is being made to reconcile preaching and practising in their
bearings on life here and hereafter.

The acceptable fiction of to-day will reflect in some measure the world
thought, or it will soothe man's cravings for assurance of future life
and strengthen his belief in it. It is idle to deny that the pitch of
man's thought to-day is materialistic, though his unconscious mind is
steeped in the mystic. Could we but teach future generations the
pleasure-potency of the imagination, we should give them an asset that
would enhance the usefulness and efficiency of their lives comparable to
health. But for some years at least there has been a mistaken notion
that the chief sources of pleasure are responding to the call of the
instincts, the fortuitous offerings of chance, and awaiting the day when
the vital sap will return from the branches of that universal tree upon
which we are the leaves to the trunk, that the spirit may be restored to
the Infinite. "Poor vaunt of life, indeed, were man but formed to feed
on joy, to solely seek and find and feast."

Pedagogy has never concerned itself with our imaginative life. That is
left to endowment and to chance, which sometimes shows itself in the
shape of a literary critic. Fortunate, indeed, is the people or nation
that breeds competent critics, it matters not what field of activity
they cultivate, letters, science, or theology. Italy has had many such,
but there is a greater dearth of them now than ever before. With the
exception of Benedetto Croce there is perhaps no one of more than
national reputation.

It is, perhaps, unwise to select from the considerable number of
present-day literary critics the names of a few, but I hazard it. Emilio
Cecchi, of the Rome _Tribuna_, is a versatile, scholarly writer, a
thoughtful, judicious estimator of his fellow writers' works, and a
critic who is not obsessed with the impulse that is supposed to dominate
a certain type of Irishman, namely, to hit a head whenever he sees it.
Giuseppe Prezzolini, who has been very intimate with the Florentine
group headed by Papini and who has written a critical estimate of his
writings and made a glowing statement of his personal charms, has a
sympathy and admiration for the writers of what may be called the new
school. That does not prevent him from being a keen observer, a logical
thinker with a judicious capacity to weigh the evidence presented by his
fellow writers in their claim for popularity and fame. He is a type of
literary man new to Italy, a keen critic, a clear thinker, a master of
literary expression who devotes much of his energy to his
publishing-house and to _La Voce_. His writings are chiefly political
and critical, "Il Sarto Spirituale" ("The Spiritual Tailor"), "L'Arte di
Persuadere" ("The Art of Persuading"), "Cos' è il Modernismo?" ("What is
Modernism?"). He has done more to introduce and bring forward the potent
group of young writers than any one in Italy.

Lionello Fiumi, a young poet and critic, has published contributions
that are noteworthy, but he has given no real capacity to analyze
evidence, to sum it up, or to interpret it judiciously. His last effort
to prove that Corrado Giovi is the poetic sun of Italy to-day was anæmic
and feeble. The antithesis of him is Gherardo Marone, who thinks that
Futurism and anarchism are synonymous, but the agnostic in religion sees
no choice between Catholicism and Presbyterianism. He also maintains the
extraordinary position that a great poet must needs be a great thinker.
He is a very young man and his "Difesa di Dulcinea" ("Defense of
Dulcinea") gives promise that when he gets in his stride he will go near
the winning post.

Vincenzo Cardarelli is a literary critic whose writings are
characterized by erudition, sympathy, understanding, and a sense of
responsibility. He has published a volume of poems entitled "Prologhi"
in line with the symbolist school of France, and especially Stephane
Mallarmé.

Another critic who senses the trend of Italian literature and puts
correct interpretation upon it is G. A. Borghese.

Two of the popular writers of fiction of to-day, Alfredo Panzini and
Luigi Pirandello, I have discussed in a separate chapter.

Luciano Zuccoli is the most conspicuous and successful exponent in Italy
of the type of fiction which was thrown upon the world for the first
time now nearly two hundred years ago by Samuel Richardson, father of
the novel of sentimental analysis. Though Zuccoli has a score of novels
and romances to his credit, he would seem to be now at the height of his
fecundity. The literary school in Italy which is the outgrowth of the
Futuristic movement points the contemptuous finger at him and scoffs at
his productions, but he has, nevertheless, a large following and is a
writer of much skill. His success depends largely upon taking characters
of the Borghesia and exposing them to the ordinary incidents of life,
such as love, matrimony, war, politics, and then depicting what comes
"naturally" to some of the victims: disillusionment tugging at the leash
until it snaps the illicit splicing of it to another snapped leash (for
there is no divorce in Italy); conflict between patriotism and pacifism,
and between sentiment and idealism from a political, social, and
personal point of view. He has got far away from the simpler
delineations of his earlier books, such as "La Freccia nel Fianco" ("The
Arrow in the Flank"), in which the love of a sentimental girl of
eighteen for a boy of eight, the son of a most dissolute noble who tends
to follow in his father's footsteps, is featured, and the meticulous
discussion of the daily life of male and female sybarites, who have
chosen the smooth and easy road to destruction as it travels through
Italy's wickedest city, Milan, as in "Fortunato in Amore" and have come
to keep what might be called better company, the company of those whose
infraction of convention is conditioned more by environment than by
determination.

"L'Amore non c'è più" ("There Is No More Love") and "Il Maleficio
occulto" ("Witchcraft") are other popular romances.

Virgilio Brocchi is a similar writer, though his writings have never had
similar popularity. His most meritorious books have been "Mite" and "Le
Aquile." His later books, such as "Isola Sonante," show the author's
progress in literary craftsmanship. His last book, "Secondo il Cuor mio"
("According to My Heart"), shows that he has had his ear to the ground
and has noticed that the chariot labelled "Public Taste in Letters" is
being driven on a new road. There is a note of idealism in the conduct
of Gigi Leoni, the artist passionately devoted to his art, in love with
Merine Dialli, proud and rich; he refuses to accept her suggestion that
he relinquish his art and do something that will lead to material
success. After she has made a failure in matrimony with an army officer
and returns to the artist, Zuccoli succeeds in drawing with masterly
strokes the portrait of a real hero, who, when he perishes later on the
field of battle, excites unreservedly the admiration of his readers. In
reality it is a book in which passion, of life or of the senses, as it
sways an attractive man full of nobility and of dreams, is depicted in
the traditional idealistic manner.

The Harold Bell Wright of Italian fiction is Guido Da Verona, and this
does Mr. Wright an injustice, for he has never written pornographically
and Signor Da Verona has rarely written otherwise. But he is Italy's
best-seller. It is depressing to think that really great romances, like
the "I Malavoglia" of Verga, stories such as Capuana's "Passa L'Amore,"
or Renato Fucini's, or even Panzini's "La Madonna di Mamà," should have
a sale of only a few thousand copies, while books of the character of
"Mimi Bluette," the flower of Signor Da Verona's garden, should go up
toward the hundred-thousand mark. It is an index of the salaciousness of
the average person, whoever he may be. Any review of Italy's recent
literature must mention "The Woman Who Invented Love," "Life Begins
To-morrow," if for no other purpose than to show that there is a kind of
literature in every country which has a great popularity. In Belgium its
clientele is found in the prurient of other countries; in France the
"best people" do not read it or say they do not; in England the public
censor prohibits it; and we have Mr. Comstock and his successors.
"Madeline," which has recently cost its guiltless publisher a fine, is
"soft stuff" compared with "Mimi Bluette," and I doubt if Mr. George
Moore could revoke any memories of his dead life that could hold a
candle to some of Signor Da Verona's actual life.

There is little to be said in favor of his books that could not be said
for narcotic-taking, gambling-hells, and underworld tango palaces. They
have a glamour about them and an aroma that appeals to the
feeble-minded, the inherently decadent, and the ennuyed idle. It is a
realism whose reality exists only in a mind made lubricitous by
cupidity.

Marino Moretti is one of the young writers whose short stories and
romances have found much favor. There is an atmosphere of triviality, of
lightness, of inconsequentiality about his writings which is an
important part of his art. In reality he is a finished technician and an
artist with a wonderful mastery of perspective and of color, and a
commendable capacity for expression. His particular charm is that he
creates an atmosphere or a situation, but does not insist upon giving a
chemical analysis or physical description of either. When he takes you
to a drawing-room or to the bathing-beach at the fashionable hour he
does not insist on presenting you to every one or giving you a detailed
history of their lives and particularly of their amatory tidal waves.
Although he seems to give his clientele soft food, he does not insist on
spoon-feeding them. In the guise of pap he gives them often
thought-making pabulum.

Some of his popular books are "Il Sole del Sabato" ("Saturday's Sun"),
"Guenda," "La Voce di Dio" ("The Voice of God"), and "Adamo ed Eva."

Antonio Beltramelli is another writer who has studied literary form to
great purpose and with it he combines imaginative gifts of an
exceptional order. His earlier books, short stories entitled "Anna
Perena" and "I Primogeniti" ("First-born Sons"), were well received. He
has recently come back to similar presentations in "La Vigna
Vendemmiata" ("The Harvested Vineyard"), which while not revealing the
spiritual growth which his admirers expected from him, shows him,
nevertheless, to be a man of parts. His chief defect is his ignorance of
behavioristic psychology which is nowhere better shown than in this
collection of short stories, "La Madre," for instance. Moreover, it is
an ambitious writer who makes a story of these unromantic facts; a
stupid man with some of the characteristics of the ox and the rat is
married to a gross, slovenly creature who deceives him. A friendly
neighbor opens his eyes and he finds her and her paramour in the brake
and cane around the vineyard. On his way thence he encounters the parish
priest and asks him if one would be justified in meting out personal
punishment to such transgressors. "Perhaps yes, perhaps no" is the
reply. When he comes upon the guilty couple he kills the man with the
blow of a stick, then falls back upon the priest's words for
justification.

"Gli Uomini Rossi" ("The Red Men") is his best-known romance. He has
read and still reads Cervantes and Rabelais. Had he the gift of artistic
presentation he might become a great novelist, but until now he has
confounded embellishment with natural beauty.

Among the fiction that has appeared in Italy during the past year a few
books call for mention, not because of their intrinsic merit but because
it is indicative of the change that is going on in the minds of the
common people which reflects particularly the thought now being given to
social and psychological questions.

The American reader of Italian fiction cannot fail to be impressed with
the poverty of subject-matter which it displays. This is explained
partly by the fact that it is sometimes biographical and very often
autobiographical--moreover, the family and social and religious customs
of Italy do not make for novelty or variety in individual life. The zone
in which all the details of existence is predetermined by convention
extends much farther with them both up and down the social scale than
with us. If man is independent of it to some extent woman is not, and
since there is no object in chronicling the obvious, popular Italian
fiction is apt to deal with excursions of man beyond his own circle and
class. Another thing that has to be kept in mind is the position of
women. The important woman in the life of the majority of Italians is
the mother, not the wife. She is on terms of equality with her son and
she retains much of the authority of the Roman matron in her children's
married life. This it need scarcely be said is changing with the eternal
flux of things.

Italy of to-day is a very new country. Whenever we as a nation do
something which the Italians consider gauche or raw, and they are
obliged to dislocate an inherent politeness by mention of it, they
excuse us because we are so young. So one excuses an infant for some
verbal or conductual infraction. In reality we are about a century older
than Italy of to-day, and we have spent that time developing a "manner"
that reflects our protracted habituation to freedom. That it is
sometimes masked by arrogance and self-satisfaction is to be regretted.
Hence our indifference to convention which is often painful to the
foreigner. It is a mistake to think that it is only the upper classes of
Italy who are beholden to unwritten convention and customs. In truth,
subscription to them is more mandatory amongst the Borghesia and Il
Popolo. With the gradual dissemination and acceptation of the doctrines
of socialism, the equal rights of women, and the widening sphere of
culture through universal education, many of the shackling conventions
of to-day will disappear. The younger workers are blazing the way. Of
those who herald this change Mario Mariani must be heeded. In "La Casa
dell' Uomo" ("The House of Man"), he makes a satiric onslaught against
the amorous, avid of money and of pleasure, who are ready to sacrifice
every basic virtue in order to obtain them. After presenting a picture
of the present-day cages of human beings he tells his story through the
mouth and diary of the janitress of a modern apartment-house, who being
deprived by time of her pulchritude and sensuous appeal, has been
obliged to forego her chosen profession, that of Mrs. Warren, and to
gain her livelihood in the sweat of her brow. She has visions of a day
when she can no longer even do that, and yet must needs have food,
raiment, and shelter; so she keeps a diary which sets forth the
flagrancies of the tenants, men, women, and children. She does not admit
that the entries are the wythes of blackmail. She salves such conscience
as has survived her life of sin by assuring herself that the entries in
the book are to assuage literary growing pains. When Signor Mariani
obtained the documents by fabrication or by stealth he found himself in
possession of the "characters" of many individuals, young and old, who
present a strange similarity to those we encounter in daily life. He has
seen fit to publish them without saying whether it was art or bread that
was the incentive, and they constitute a serious charge against society.
The wonder is that if such things exist the social fabric conserves the
appearance of well-being. In truth, life is not a mask behind which the
wearer laughs, if this diary is to be believed. It is in reality a
tragedy made up of a tissue of hypocrisies, banalities, sordid
commonplaces, inimical to joy, subversive of pleasure, and destructive
of happiness.

It is obvious that de Maupassant is the author's model. Despite a
certain vivacity of form, his tales are in substance very old-fashioned
and his characters are so sordid and sensual that their actions and
their fate from an artistic point of view fail to interest.

In "Smorfia dell' anima" ("Grimaces of the Soul"), the central theme is
that all people who defy accepted morals are much more honest and happy
than those who hypocritically accept convention but do not conform to
the moral laws which underlie them. There is a certain amount of truth
in this view, but it will not stand too much insistence.

Though Signor Mariani's books are not entitled to laudation, they, with
his commentual writing, encourage us to await the advent of his full
powers with a sincere belief that he will arrive in Italian letters.

Gino Rocca is a young Milanese writer who has returned from the war with
ideas and capacity to express them. His novel "L'Uragano" is what is
popularly called powerful. It is the same old theme, love and adultery,
but it introduces what may be called new reactions. It is a story of a
young man who, "temperamentally unfit" to live in the refined and
shut-in atmosphere of his parental home, goes to Milan and does
successfully newspaper work while giving himself copiously to what is
called a life of sin. The picture of this life is one with which readers
of modern French fiction are familiar. Through the mediation of a
sympathetic aunt he encounters a lady burdened with an unworthy husband,
who makes such appeal to him that he abandons the gaming-table and the
underworld, but in such a way as to leave the impression that it would
have been only temporary had not the call to arms put them beyond his
reach. In the army and in the hospital, while idealizing his innamorata
he has experiences which show him the perfidy of the feminine human
heart. When he returns to Milan he realizes that even with his enriched
experience he is not yet the man who understands women, for he has yet
to learn of the inconstancy of her to whom he attributed all the
virtues. This discovery gives the writer an opportunity to depict a
profound emotional storm from which the novel gets its name and from
which the hero emerges a better man.

There is nothing noteworthy in the book except its character
delineation. It is a novel in so far as it is an exact and complete
reproduction of social surroundings or environment, but photographs are
often spoiled by being colored. It shows the writer to have a mastery of
literary technic and an unusual capacity for expression.

Another writer who has shown himself a master of verbal structure and
adept in the delineation of character, a student of psychological
reactions and facile artist of the environment in which they are
displayed, is Raffaele Calzini. His first short stories, "La Vedova
Scaltra" ("The Wary Widow"), published seven or eight years ago, were
hailed by some critics as the work of a writer of potential distinction.
They are coloristic or impressionistic stories. Although he has not yet
given proof that he will earn enduring fame, he is nevertheless one of
the most promising of the younger writers, and, although he is not
prolific, each succeeding publication has added to his fame. His last
contribution is a comedy entitled "Le Fedeltà" ("Fidelity").

I could not have better illustrations of the rôle played by
autobiography in modern fiction than two recent novels--one by Michele
Sapanaro, "Peccato" or "Six Months of Rustic Life"; the other by
Frederigo Tozzi, "Con gli Occhi Chiusi" ("With Closed Eyes"). The first
is a fresh, ingenuous book with a vein of romanticism which does not run
into great effusion or great amativeness, in which is depicted the
atmosphere, environment, and inhabitants of a small community in
southern Italy, whither the writer has gone to visit his peasant brother
and to recover from some of the wounds inflicted upon him in
transformation from peasant to "gentleman." It is undoubtedly an
elaborated, embellished chapter of the author's life.

That "With Closed Eyes," a novel of provincial and peasant life in
Tuscany, is wholly autobiographical, we have the testimony of a fellow
Tuscan who says of Signor Tozzi that he first met him when he was a
waiter in his father's tavern. Lazy, slothful, unkempt, and of coarse
appearance, he had a passion for reading Angiolieri and Verlaine. He was
radical, socially and politically. After a colorless, misspent youth
beyond authority, parental or communal, he began newspaper work, the
stepping-stones of so many Italian writers of to-day. The discipline of
military life and the environment of Rome effected a change in his
outward appearance, and the composition of his book, "Bestie"
("Beasts"), which the church put on the Index, helped him spiritually.
"With Closed Eyes" is a narrative of his life, sordid, ugly,
commonplace, revealing, however, a gradual spiritual uplift and
refinement. It was not until the publication of "Tre Croci" that he was
much discussed. Competent critics such as Signor Borghese think that
Italy's most promising literary light was extinguished when Frederigo
Tozzi died in Rome, in March, 1920. His literary output was not great
for a man who had lived thirty-eight years, but it can truthfully be
said that each succeeding volume from his pen showed that he was likely
one day to be Verga's successor in the literary primacy of Italy. His
last romance, "Il Podere," ("The Farm,") has not yet appeared in book
form.

One cannot always judge from first performances the potentialities of a
writer. A few years ago Rosso di San Secondo, a young Sicilian,
published "Io Commemoro Loletta" ("I Commemorate Loletta"), a series of
short stories which in substance and in workmanship showed not only no
talent but no promise of talent. In reality they seemed to show an
absence of artistic capacity, architectural ability, and literary taste.
A year later "La Bella Addormentata" ("The Sleeping Beauty"), a
coloristic, mystic drama, a strange mixture of Plotinus and Dionysius,
revealed real talent.

The Sleeping Beauty, of infantile mind and facial pulchritude, formerly
a servant, yielded to the advances of a notary, the nephew of a senile,
implacable shrew, whose miserly savings he and his sister hoped to
inherit. After a few secure trips on the sliding-board of sensual
indulgence, the Sleeping Beauty shot to the bottom of the pit and became
the travelling harlot of a caravan which went from one country fair to
another. The more frequently she yielded the body the greater became her
spiritual detachment, until finally she lived in a world of unreality.
Becoming pregnant, the spiritual flame gradually lighted up in her, and
finally blazed under the ardent fanning of a new type of Lothario, Nero
of the Sulphur Mines, half knight, half jail-bird, but withal a romantic
and seductive figure. His flair for her was wholly spiritual. Not only
did he encourage her to renounce her life, but he insisted that she
return to the house of the notary. They go there and she charges him
with her interesting condition, even though three years have elapsed.
Water doesn't flow in the brook of the valley if there is no spring
higher up. The aunt who has sought in vain the opportunity to crush the
cringing hypocrite whose outward life had seemingly been one of virtue
and rigorous conventionalism, sees it now. She compels him to marry the
Sleeping Beauty. He becomes the butt of the taunts and derisions of the
community, juvenile and adult, especially after the child is born. The
strain is too much for him and he hangs himself when he realizes that
the dying aunt has left her money to the child of another and to the
church.

From the moment the Sleeping Beauty felt a new life within her a
spiritual torch was lit in her soul, which illuminated the abyss into
which she had fallen to such purpose that she found her way out, with
the helping hand which Nero held out to her. Continuing to burn during
her gestation and delivery, it conditioned her spiritual resurrection
and the moral rehabilitation of Nero. The impression left in the mind of
the reader is that they live together happily forever after, the summum
bonum of earthly existence, because of the happiness that flows from it
and because it insures eternal repose in Paradise. Although the play was
received with groans and howls and shrieks of depreciation when it was
first given in Rome, nevertheless some of the eternal verities are
accentuated and carried home by Nero of the Mines and by the Sleeping
Beauty.

I find greater difficulty in writing of recent Italian poetry than of
fiction. In the first place, I have not read it so extensively, and, in
the second, nearly every writer of fiction writes poetry as well. Some
of the young poets are discussed in the chapter on Futurists in
literature. Here I shall mention one or two others. Guido Gozzano, who
recently died, in his twenty-eighth year, was a prolific writer of
verse. It is confidently claimed by some critics that he earned the
distinction of being called Italy's most representative poet, the only
one since Pascoli and D'Annunzio who made a new vibration to the poetic
lyre and stamped verse with an individual conception which poetasters
have more or less accepted. But he suffered from hyperfecundity, and
many of his intellectual children are anæmic and rachitic. Even though
they are endowed with some feature of beauty their vitality is so slight
that no one wants to adopt them, and their parent being busy with the
creation of others, neglects them after having given them one passably
decent suit of clothes in the shape of book-form publications, so they
die.

Guido Gozzano was a melancholy figure. From life he appeared to have got
only sadness. At twenty-five years it had deluged his soul. His true
infelicity was then of not being able even to be sad. Scarcely had he
entered youth before he felt old. He had no companions, he was often
ill; nothing appealed to him, not even poetry. Literary life resembled
death. He forsook the city for the country, and the novelty of it for a
while diverted him. But it was not for long. He vacillated between doing
nothing and dreaming, between contemplating the emptiness of a grotesque
reality and the nostalgia of an unreal life, felt but not seen. He was
never emotional, never exalted, never blasphemous. Nevertheless, he
would seem to have written incessantly.

"Verso la Cuna del Mondo" ("Toward the Cradle of the World") consists of
the impressions of a voyage in India made in 1912 and 1913. "I Colloqui"
is a book of fables for children. In the "L'Altare del Passato" ("The
Altars of the Past") Gozzano takes as a rhythm the cry for the things
that were; the past arises anew in the intimacy of his feelings to tempt
him and to inspire him. It is the generous wine that he hopes will
intoxicate him and fill him with joy. Its effects are transitory.

His last book, "L'Ultima Traccia" ("The Last Traces"), did not
materially enhance his reputation as a story-teller. The story called
"The Eyes of the Soul" is undoubtedly the best. A beautiful girl has to
live her betrothed days alone; her fiancé goes to the war. She contracts
smallpox, which disfigures her. When she is called to his bedside in the
hospital where he is lying wounded, perhaps dying, she is concerned what
his feelings will be when he sees her face. When she gets there he is
not mortally injured, he is blind.

Francesco Chiesa has already differentiated himself from the writing
herd and his "Viali d'Oro" has had great popularity with the younger
generation of his country. His style, imagery, and masterful synthesis
is best seen in the volume entitled "Istorie e Favole," a collection of
short stories.

Another young Italian writer who is likely to come to the fore is Piero
Jahier. He wrote the best war story, "Con mi e con gli Alpini."
"Ragazzo," a recent publication, shows him in an entirely different
light.

Alfredo Bacceli was a young man of great promise in letters. His "Verso
la Morte" ("Toward Death"), showed clear vision, deep feeling, and
mastery of form.

Some of the most conspicuous of the present-day poets of Italy are
Marradi, Pastonchi, Rapisardi, Siciliani, and Sindici. The first two are
lyric poets, the last two masters of form in addition.

Luigi Siciliani, who became a member of Parliament in the last
elections, is the one of this group who is most likely to be remembered.
His "Canti perfetti," translations from the Greek, Latin, Portuguese,
and English, published in 1910, showed him to be not only a student but
a writer possessed of exquisite literary craftsmanship. He has written
novels, criticisms, anthologies, but the volume by which he is best
known is "Poesie per ridere," published in 1909.

Francesco Meriano, one of the group of young literary Italians that are
known through the _Brigata_ of Bologna, and who published some years ago
a volume of Futuristic poetry entitled "Equatore Notturno," is the
author of a volume containing his lyric compositions of the past four
years, entitled "Croci di legno" ("Wooden Crosses"), which has been very
well received by the critics.

In Marino Moretti's "Poesie" we encounter things which make us think of
the great poets--little perfections that much recent poetry almost no
longer knows, lucidity, subtle vision and modesty. If poetry is emotion
recollected in tranquillity some of these verses are real poetry.

Alfredo de Bosis, translator of Shelley's Cenci and advocate of Walt
Whitman, is the author of many lyrical poems, some of which have been
highly praised.

The three most prolific writers for the stage of yesterday in Italy are
Roberto Bracco, Sem Benelli, and Dario Niccodemi. They have all had much
success outside of their own country, and their names are well known to
readers and theatre-goers of our own country. They are now in the
fulness of their mature years, but with the exception of the latter none
has given evidence in recent productions of having sensed the change
that has taken place in the likings of the theatre-going public in
Italy.

Signor Bracco, a Neapolitan approaching sixty years of age, has for the
past twenty years worn gracefully the mantle of Giacosa. His works have
been published in ten fat volumes averaging three plays to a volume,
mostly comedies. Of these the most important are "L'Infedele" ("The
Unfaithful Woman"), and "Il Trionfo" ("The Triumph"), both published in
1895. The best of his dramas are "Tragedie dell' Anima" ("The Tragedies
of the Soul") and "La Piccola Fonte" ("The Little Spring"), which
becomes the fount of life in inspiration for those with whom the heroine
comes in contact. The best of his tragedies is "Sperduti nel Buio"
("Lost in the Darkness"). This brief enumeration gives no idea of the
versatility of Signor Bracco, who in reality has depicted in his
twoscore plays the ravages of carnal love in peasant and prince, in maid
and in mistress, in priest and professor, in the underworld and in the
overworld, in the cradle and in the grave.

Had the display of love and the passions that flow from it any confines,
they would encompass Signor Bracco's imagination. Although denied what
is called a scholastic education, he has studied science and philosophy,
literature and art, but always with one object in view: to learn what
human beings think and do when swayed by sexual passion. Not that
anything that he has written can be construed as exalting it or as
licensing it. On the contrary, the moral of the majority of his plays is
that continence, like virtue, is its own reward. Although Signor Bracco
would be the last to admit that he has not had an uplift motive in his
writings, it is difficult to discover it. Nor does he point the way that
will lead to avoidance of the suffering that flows, apparently with so
much directness, from social convention, from privilege, and from the
almost mediæval position of women in certain parts of Italy to-day. He
is a realist of realists in fiction, but he is like a physician who is
content to diagnose disease and leave to others its prevention and its
cure.

A writer who dyes his products in Bracco's vat, then for contrast colors
them with Sardou and Dumas, which, exposed for sale in the market-place,
find avid purchasers and bring high prices, is Dario Niccodemi, whose
comedies, especially "Scampolo" ("The Remnant") and "L'Ombra" ("The
Shadow"), have had great success. In his last two books, "Il Titano"
("The Titan") and "Prete Pero" ("Priest Pero"), he gives evidence that
he is keenly discerning of the new social consciousness that has
developed in Italy apparently as the result of the war. "Prete Pero,"
while depicting the subterfuges of the church to accomplish its ends and
the arguments that it uses to convince that the ends justify the means,
portrays one of those simple, faithful, honest, transparent souls, in
the shape of Father Bragio, who have been the pillars of the Roman
church which no Samson has ever been able to tear down. "I wrote 'Prete
Pero,'" he says, "as a journalist writes a series of articles or as a
speaker makes a series of conferences--for a general idea; but I have
had two, the first æsthetic, to sustain the principle that in Italy, as
in France and in England, and, indeed, in every country agonized by this
terrible war, one might make and make acceptably war comedies; second,
moral, to prove that it is permitted to say from the stage in verse or
in prose that which in the past four years has been said in journals, in
speeches, in conferences, in parliament and in committees, which is: in
the disorder of the social organization produced by the phenomena of war
there have been sublime heroes and brazen-faced cheats and swindlers."
"Prete Pero" showed that Signor Niccodemi has a nose for the favorite
perfume of the modern reader, just as his "L'Ombra" showed it when he
afflicted his heroine with hysterical paralysis and then cured her by
the method which Freud originally called the cathartic method. Dario
Niccodemi has not added materially to the dignity of Italian letters,
but he has amused and diverted his countrymen and ourselves, and for
that we are grateful.

Sem Benelli, who has recently had political life thrust upon him is, in
common with many literary Jews in Italy, inclined to give himself a
certain mystery of origin by concealing his antecedents. In reality he
was born in 1877. Not only is he well known in Italy but in this
country, where one of his early plays, "La Cena delle Beffe" ("The
Supper of the Jests"), has had great success. He began his literary
career as a journalist on a Florentine review, _Marzocco_. His first
play was published when he was twenty-five years old. Although "La
Tignola" ("The Moth") showed unusual quality of construction and
contrasted with great force the artistic temperament with the world of
the big business, it was not until "La Cena delle Beffe" that he
arrived.

His great forte is to be able to put melodrama of the most lurid kind
into verse, while depicting the lives and customs of the aristocracy of
the Renaissance, whose standard of morals and canons of conduct were so
unlike those of to-day. His heroes are always in search of revenge, his
women of adventure. In his "Le Nozze dei Centauri" ("The Marriage of the
Centaurs") he widens the field of his activity to display the conflict
of christian and barbarian, but again it is the same thing, adventure
and revenge. He does not trouble to be historically exact. It does not
matter to him whether his characters are true to life so long as they
are true to his conception of revengefulness. To accomplish his purpose
he often strikes a note that reminds of his ancestors of the Old
Testament.

The leader of all the younger Italian writers in drama and tragedy is
Luigi Ercole Morselli, born at Pesaro in 1883. The commission nominated
by the Ministry of Instruction to decide the most meritorious dramatic
production of 1918 awarded the prize of six thousand lire to him. As a
youth he studied medicine and later letters in Florence, but he soon
deserted them and wandered in America and Africa. His first success, a
pagan theme entitled "Orione," was recognized by competent critics to
have originality and unusual dramatic qualities, but he was by way of
being forgotten when nearly ten years later, 1919, a mystic drama based
upon mythology, entitled "Glauco," appeared. It was produced in Rome and
was greeted with every manifestation of approval. In reality it had an
astonishing but merited success. Glauco, the amorous fisherman, in order
to obtain his Scilla, braves the sea and seeks renown and riches. But,
alas for human frailties, he falls under the enchantment of Calypso.
When he returns to his native shore to claim his best-beloved he learns
of the heart-breaking events that have transpired during his absence.
Neither he nor Scilla can tolerate constant reminder of them and they
disappear in the deep waves after one of the most remarkable farewells
in modern literature.

Morselli does not follow either the mythological stories or their recent
reconstruction very closely. On the contrary he makes the events of the
legends harmonize with or conform to the laws that govern modern
amatoriousness. His heroes react in their love and hate, ambition,
realizations, in the same way as the people of to-day. His world is a
mythological world, but it is scenery in which we live or visit, and it
is peopled by men and women who love, hate, envy, portray, succor, and
defend, quite like the modern world.

He has recently published two new dramas entitled "Belfagor" and "Dafni
e Cloe." His fiction is a volume of fanciful tales called "Favole per i
Re d'Oggi" ("Fables for the Kings of To-day"), and short stories which
have appeared in magazines and journals.

Another young writer for the stage is Nino Berrini. The success of "Il
Beffardo" ("The Jester") was so great that one may confidently look
forward to his career without fear of disappointment.

Other successes in the theatrical world of 1919 in Italy were "La Vena
d'Oro" ("The Vein of Gold"), of Zorzi, and in much lesser degree "La
nostra Ricchezza" of Gotta.

The author of the latter is a man of thirty-three years who returned
from the war with new ideas regarding the rights of the people, liberty,
or whatever one calls that which underlies the present social unrest. He
has written many short stories, several romances, of which "Ragnatele"
("Cobwebs"), "Il Figlio Inquieto" ("The Restless Son") and "La più Bella
Donna del Mondo" ("The Most Beautiful Woman in the World") are the most
important.

Not only is he a man of ideas, but he has disciplined himself to a
chaste and virile way of expressing them. In "Our Riches" he has given
an admirable picture of the honest, high-principled aristocrat-farmer of
his native territory Ivrea, who has the same feeling for his acres that
the ideal patriot has for his country: reverence and love, and a
paternal interest in the welfare of those who gain their livelihood in
serving him. In contrast with him is his grandson, who has the same
reverence and affection for the ancestral home and acres but who sees
life, its entailments and its privileges, in an entirely different
light, who is a socialist in the correct sense of the term. Then he
draws with great distinctness the daughter of the former and the mother
of the latter, who is confronted with the conflict of choosing between
her son, father, and husband, the latter a profiteering shark in the
world of affairs. The weakness of the play is the author's failure or
unwillingness to define his own state of mind concerning property rights
and property distribution, or to define the relationship that should
exist between product and producer, capital and labor.

Were I obliged to characterize the fictional output of Italy during the
past few years, I should say that it was imaginatively sterile and
emotionally fecund. Whereas much of it displays technical efficiency in
form, construction, and finish, it lacks originality and does not reveal
comprehensive imaginativeness, which the renowned fiction of every
country has always had and must continue to have. It must be said,
however, that it portrays human nature: that is, thoughts and emotional
reactions incited and elicited by new conditions and new aspirations in
such a way as to pique the reader's curiosity and sustain his interest.

The Italian novelists of to-day are not story-tellers; they are
incident-relaters, narrators of personal experiences, observers armed
with cameras.



CHAPTER VIII

FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHY AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY


Often I find myself thinking of the justification of autobiographical
writing in fiction. The modern Italian writer is devoted to it.
D'Annunzio set the example a generation ago and carried it to such a
point that he outraged all sense of decency. So long as he confined
himself to revelation of his own alleged amatory potency and mastery of
the arts of love, even though he trampled upon sacred ideals, the public
tolerated it. When he strained the sensualities of well-known and
beloved notabilities through the percolators of his perverse imagination
they sickened of him and denounced him. It is an exquisite form of
self-appreciation--the belief that the commonplace events, deliberate
thoughts, and vagrant fancies of an individual who has in no way
distinguished himself will divert and instruct others, and that they are
worthy of record. The fact that such writings are bought is the
justification they allege. But the public is like the editor of a
magazine. He has to read reams of trash to find one worthy and
acceptable contribution. The purpose of fiction may be manifold, but it
is read chiefly for distraction and diversion. The critic and
interpreter read it to get the temper of the public mind and the trend
of its projection, but the purchaser of it reads it to get surcease of
the woes of life, whether they be the ruts worn by operating the daily
treadmill or the despondencies thrust upon him by circumstances more
inexorable than the tigers of Hyrcania. It is not likely that the
occurrences in the life of another commonplace individual even though
they are pieced with fiction will suffice to provide this. Therefore
those who turn to the narration of the lives of others in which there
have been stirring events, picturesque phases, and romantic incidents
are likely to have greater success. Whether it is a legitimate procedure
is another question. It is a matter of taste. It was as justifiable for
Mr. Somerset Maugham to portray Paul Gauguin in "The Moon and Sixpence"
as it was for Mr. Morley Roberts to describe George Gissing in "The
Private Life of Henry Maitland," and even more so, for the latter had
revealed himself adequately in his books. Nothing was to be gained by
raking up a past that led through prison any more than the prison days
of O. Henry is an asset of immortality. Sometimes such writings have a
meritoriousness apart from their literary qualities. The "Green
Carnation" did much to inform Britishers how prevalent and pernicious
was the vice which its prototype was afterward locked in Reading Gaol
for practising and apotheosizing. To take a man whose fame has mounted
steadily since his death and make a monster of him is a hazardous and,
many will think, an iniquitous thing to do, even though the individual
during his lifetime was unmoral and immoral. This is what Mr. Somerset
Maugham has done for Paul Gauguin, master of the Pont Aven school of
painting; dislocater of impressionism and neo-impressionism; liberator
of art from stereotyped, slavish copyists of nature; apostle of
intellectualism and emotionalism versus æstheticism, and from it he has
created Charles Strickland, victim of a strange disease resulting in
dissociation of personality. The critics tell us "The Moon and Sixpence"
is a "great" book. From the standpoint of literary construction it may
be entitled to such designation. From the standpoint of one who desires
in fiction some verisimilitude of life as it is, or as it should be if
it were ideal, it is disgusting and nauseous, atavistic in implication,
primitive in delineation, bestial in its suggestion, and it tends to
undermine faith in the fundamental goodness of human nature. It is
radicalism in realism carried to the _n_th degree.

A middle-class Englishman of unknown antecedents, of commonplace somatic
and intellectual possessions, of emotional barrenness and shut-in
personality, marries, procreates, and serves--on the London Stock
Exchange, after the manner of his kind, until he is forty. If artistic
impulses had peeped from his unconscious mind to his conscious he had
not betrayed them. Then, when constructive incubal activity had passed
its height, he becomes big with the idea that his unsightly hulk harbors
the soul of an artist. He forsakes his family without warning and
without making the smallest provision for their maintenance or welfare,
goes to Paris to study art, to scorn convention and decency, and to
treat mankind with contumely. He knows no French, and gradually his
English vocabulary shrinks to "You are a damn fool" when a man makes
proffer of service or supper, and "Tell her to go to hell" if the offer
of self or succor comes from a woman. When he writes, however, his
mental elaborations encompass the degree that permits him to pen this
chaste message: "God damn my wife. She is an excellent woman. I wish she
was in hell."

Like all victims of dementia præcox, when the disorder conditions
bizarre conduct for the first time in mid-maturity, he becomes
profoundly egocentric, neglectful of his appearance and of his person,
and callously insensitive to the feelings and rights of others. As the
components of personality dissociate the god disappears, the beast
remains, puissant and uncontrollable when under the dominion of primeval
appetites or instincts. He has no pride to swallow when he feeds from
the hand that still stings from slapping him, no more than does the lion
who devours the meat thrust into his cage on the prong that a moment
before prodded and wounded him.

"Haven't you been in love since you came to Paris?" is Mr. Maugham's
euphemistic question, in his effort to find out for Mrs. Strickland if
her husband has been faithful to his marriage vows. After noting
Strickland's "slow smile starting and sometimes ending in the eyes,
which was very sensual, neither cruel nor kindly, but suggested rather
the inhuman glee of the Satyr," he got this answer: "I haven't got time
for that sort of nonsense. Life isn't long enough for love and art."
This is not what Michaelangelo said to Vittoria Colonna. It is what Tom
Cat says when not in the throes of concupiscency. Then Mr. Maugham gives
a new verbal dress to the devil, who was sure when ill he would like to
be a monk, but who in good health didn't fancy monastic life. "You know
that all the time your feet have been walking in the mud. And you want
to roll yourself in it, and you find some woman, coarse and low and
vulgar, some beastly creature in whom all the horror of sex is blatant,
and you fall upon her like a wild animal. You drink till you're blind
with rage."

Poor Strickland, in the throes of mental dissolution, obsessed, enmeshed
in stereotypy, is still capable of sufficient mental reaction to realize
that "You are a damn fool" or "Go to hell" was not an appropriate
rejoinder or comment to such a speech, so "He stared at me without the
slightest movement. I held his eyes with mine. I spoke very closely."
"When it's over you feel so extraordinarily pure; you feel like a
disembodied spirit, immaterial, and you seem to be able to touch beauty
as though it were a palpable thing; and you feel an intimate communion
with the breeze, and with the trees breaking into leaf, and with the
iridescence of the river. You feel like God." The antivivisectionists
should get after Doctor Maugham. It is cruelty to humans to hold
unfortunate Strickland with hypnotic eye, and then thrust a record of
experience so obviously personal upon him--or was it only a recollection
of some published experiences of George Sand and Alfred de
Musset--garnered from those days when he "idled on the quays, fingering
a second-hand book that I never meant to buy," after he settled down in
Paris and began to write a play?

Every Johnson has his Boswell, though he may be mute, unrecording, and
sterile, and every sadist has his masochist. The young Dutchman, Vincent
Van Gogh, a constitutional psychopath, whose mental aberrations took him
into spiritual exhortation, social reformation, and finally "art," often
tried to kill Gauguin. When the latter showed himself versed in mayhem
Van Gogh made his bed, lit his pipe, wrapped himself in serenity and
shot himself in the abdomen, as lunatics often do. Not so Dick Stroeve,
Strickland's fidus Achates. He worshipped Strickland, who reviled him,
kicked him, spat upon him; Stroeve, who naïvely asks, "Have I ever been
mistaken?" in his estimate of artists, knew that Strickland was a great
artist, greater than Manet or Corot, more puissant than El Greco or
Cézanne, and that he had been sent to complete the cycle which Delacroix
and Turner ushered in. Stroeve, a passive, asexual creature, had married
a temperamental English governess in Rome, where he had earned the
soubriquet of "le Maître de la Boîte à Chocolats" after she had had a
disastrous experience with the son of an Italian prince whose children
she had been hired to instruct.

When Strickland falls desperately ill from the combined effects of
insufficient food, touting for prurient Anglicans, and translating the
advertisements of French patent medicines that "restore" Doctor
Maugham's countrymen to such a degree that they may go to Paris with
pleasurable anticipation, Stroeve takes him to his house, despite the
strenuous opposition and pathetic protests of Mrs. Stroeve, whose
previous fleeting contacts with Strickland echoed the call of the wild
in her and presaged disaster. From the moment he arrived the fat was in
the fire. No affinities are so difficult to keep from blending as sex
affinities, facetiously called soul affinities by the newspapers.
Strickland's spark was fanned lovingly into glow by Stroeve, and when it
flamed he threw Stroeve out of his house, possessed complaisant Mrs.
Stroeve violently, and then put her on canvas, nude, "one arm beneath
her head and the other along her body, one knee raised, the other leg
stretched out." After nature's cataclysm had spent itself, Mrs. Stroeve
committed suicide in approved feminine fashion by taking a corroding
acid, without condoning her husband's offense--that of being virtuous.
When she died Stroeve, a true masochist, looked up Strickland, forgave
him, invited him to go with him to Holland, because "we both loved
Blanche. There would have been room for him in my mother's house. The
company of poor, simple people would have done his soul a great good."
But Strickland, becoming for the moment verbally more expansive,
replied: "I have other fish to fry." When Mr. Maugham spoke to him about
Stroeve's visit he said: "I thought it damned silly and sentimental."

The author doesn't attempt a synopsis of the mental process that took
Strickland to Tahiti, via Marseilles, though he depicts experiences that
parallel those of Gauguin. Instead he animadverts on love and the sexual
appetite to such purpose as to reveal that he is not expert in biology,
psychology, or art. "For men love is an episode which takes its place
among the other affairs of the day, and the emphasis laid upon it in
novels gives it an importance which is untrue to life." But what about
the emphasis laid upon it by countless thousands who find in it a
quality of that ennobling spiritual peace called faith, and which will
be their reward when they repose in Abraham's bosom and live forever
with God in paradise? "As lovers the difference between men and women is
that women can love all day long, but men only at times." And the
difference between male and female animals is that the female of the
species permits contact at certain definite times, while the males are
all Barkises. "Art is a manifestation of the sexual impulse. It is the
same emotion which is excited in the human heart by the sight of a
lovely woman, the Bay of Naples under the yellow moon, and the
'Entombment' of Titian." After the author delivered himself of a
statement so pregnant of platitude he must have experienced a sense of
lightening, and a conviction that he would not have to consult the Drei
Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie at least until he wrote his next book.

That art has a definite purpose to perpetuate the creative will and that
God endowed his image with a genesic instinct that he might create and
thus reproduce his kind every one knows, but to contend that one is a
manifestation of the other is puerile, unenlightened, and harks back to
barbarism. One might think that there is no such thing as the psychology
of art or the science of æsthetics. Art has an intellectual significance
as well as, or more than, an emotional significance, and the
unfortunate, unhappy, disequilibrated man who is parodied in this book
contributed his substantial mite in the twentieth century to make us see
it.

Any one who reads the "Lettres de Paul Gauguin," which are prefaced by a
brief survey of his life by Victor Segalen, or his life by Jean de
Rotonchamps, which was published at Weimar at the expense of Count von
Kessler, will see how closely Maugham described Gauguin's life in the
Polynesian cannibal islands. Strickland marries the native girl Ata, who
had a "beguin" for him, but Gauguin had Tioka in his maison de joie
without benefit of clergy. Doctor Coutras, who gives Mr. Maugham so much
valuable information (via Rotonchamps and Segalen) is M. Paul Vernié,
who attended Gauguin and wrote an account of his last days.

Despite the fact that in July, 1914, the London _Times_ lifted the veil
of secrecy from the face of the most prevalent disease in the world, and
thus announced that the name of the disease which Fracastorius, the
poet-physician of Verona, borrowed from the shepherd Syphlus should be
no longer taboo by "nice people," the prevalence of the disease and the
efforts to combat it have been widely discussed, though they are not
topics of conversation at dinner-parties or at "welfare meetings" in
churches, as tuberculosis is. It is for this reason, perhaps, that the
author prefers to kill his "hero" with leprosy. But Doctor Maugham has
been devoting so much of his time in latter years to novels and dramas
that he finds the differentiation between them difficult, and, too,
Gauguin's disease has been diagnosticated leprosy, elephantiasis,
syphilis. "La dernière de ces avaries est exacte, mais ne doit pas être
imputées au pays: c'était une pure vérole parisienne."

"The Moon and Sixpence" is interesting. There is scarcely any diversion
more engrossing than reading about others' infirmities unless it be
relating one's own. Hence the continued popularity of Pepys, Amiel,
Rousseau, Marie Bashkirsteff, and other garrulous sufferers. But it is a
book that no one can be the better or happier for reading, and it does
Gauguin's memory an injury because it parodies it. His life as it has
been revealed to us was bizarre and irregular enough. We could wish that
he had been less like Rimbaud and more like Rodin, but, distressing as
his behavior was, seen in conventional light, we should like not to have
seen it featured in fiction.

Mr. Maugham wrote a novel, "Out of Human Bondage," which is a far more
meritorious piece of work than "The Moon and Sixpence," in which some of
his professional colleagues--he is a physician--recognized portraitures.
Perhaps it was his success with them that encouraged him to try a larger
canvas.

The author's admitted cleverness was never more evident than in the
depiction of Mrs. Strickland's character and characteristics--a smug
Philistine, who runs the gamut of preciosity, jealousy, martyrdom,
autorighteousness, and autosanctification. She is pleased and proud as
she views the veneer of sanctimoniousness which her son, in holy orders,
gives the dearly beloved husband of Mrs. Charles Strickland, who wrote
his father's biography "to remove certain misconceptions which had
gained currency," viz., that Doctor Maugham is masquerading as a
psychiatrist and publishing his experiences with the insane, meanwhile
throwing off "punk" about art and traducing normal, though admittedly
"immoral," man.

"There is in my nature a strain of asceticism, and I have subjected my
flesh each week to a severe mortification. I have never failed to read
the literary supplement of the _Times_." So says Mr. Somerset Maugham.
The first part of the statement is difficult to believe after reading
"The Moon and Sixpence." The latter part may be true, but it can't be
truer than the statement that any one, possessed of ordinary decency and
sensibility, and belief that love, sentiment, kindliness, generosity,
altruism, forgiveness, and faith are the seven lamps that illumine our
path on our way to immortality, will subject his flesh to severe
mortification, while being interested and sometimes even amused by
reading Mr. Maugham's new book.



CHAPTER IX

THE LITERARY MAUSOLEUM OF SAMUEL BUTLER

     "Those two fat volumes with which it is our custom to commemorate
     the dead--who does not know them, with their ill-digested masses of
     material, their slipshod style, their love of tedious panegyric,
     their lamentable lack of selection, of detachment, of design?"

  _--Lytton Strachey._


Samuel Butler's "Note-books" and "The Authoress of the Odyssey" added to
the delights of the spring of 1915, which I spent in Sicily. The former,
which is the quintessence of his wisdom and his impudence, gave
revealing peeps into the mental and emotional make-up of the man who in
"Erewhon" forecast the advent of the supremacy of machines and
anticipated Mrs. Eddy in considering disease a sin and a crime, and the
latter gave a quickened interest to Trapani, Segesta, and many other
places, some of which have since become shrines in my memory.

From these "Note-Books" and from "The Way with All Flesh," which gave a
remarkable vista of his own unconscious mind as well as those of his
ancestors, I made a vivid picture of the author. It has been blurred,
and in some respects quite erased by the two massive biographic volumes
recently given to the world by Mr. Henry Festing Jones,[A] and which
depicts him in all the nakedness of his virtues and his infirmities,
revealing an unloving and unlovable character. Some day it will be
explained to us why we cannot be left in possession of the cherished
delusions that add to our happiness, increase our good-will toward our
fellow men, and in no wise impair the reputations of those to whom they
are directed.

  [A] "Samuel Butler, author of 'Erewhon,'" a memoir by Henry Festing
  Jones, Macmillan & Co., London, 1919.

One of the things that is most difficult to forgive a biographer is the
wealth of sordid details they give us about our gods. Who can forgive
Ranieri, for instance, for having told us with so much particularity
that Leopardi hated to change his shirt or to take a bath, that he had a
passion for cheap sweets, that he insisted upon keeping the servants of
the household where he was a guest up until midnight in order that he
might have his principal meal, that he was morbidly susceptible to
adulation? It does not advantage any one to know such things, even if
they are true, and if it serves any laudable purpose I am not aware that
it has been set forth.

Mr. Jones's biography is painfully candid and distressingly frank and
confidential.

Samuel Butler's life was one of rebellion and resignation, of contention
and strife, of unhappiness and unyieldingness, of disappointment and
suspicion, of wrongheartedness and rightmindedness, of rude energy and
crude revery. He had a vanity of his intellectual capacity that
transcends all understanding and a passion for what he called doing
things thoroughly. He believed in the music of Handel, in the art of
Giovanni Bellini, and his credo was the thirteenth chapter of St. Paul's
First Epistle to the Corinthians, which apotheosizes charity and
humility. Samuel Butler may have had charity and humility on his lips,
but I fail to find from reading his biography that they ever got as far
as his heart. He had an unhappy childhood, a perturbed adolescence, a
lonely and isolated early manhood, an obsessed maturity, and an
emotionally sterile old age. He hated his father, he pitied his mother,
he barely tolerated his sisters, and he suspected the integrity and
motives of his illustrious contemporaries who, though polite to him,
personally ignored him controversially. Indeed, part of the time he must
have felt himself a modern, though tame Ishmael, his hand against every
man, and every man's hand against him.

Although he had a few forgiving, appreciative friends, a constant and
ardent mistress, and a devoted servant who mothered and domineered him,
engrossing interests and boundless energy, still he was chronically
unhappy, the sweetness of his soul being embittered by contempt of his
fellow men.

The offspring of a narrow-minded, obstinate, inflexible, selfish father
and a gentle, reverential, yielding, and kindly mother, it was taken for
granted that he would follow in the footsteps of his father and
grandfather and become a clergyman. He found when he began to take
thought that he could not accept the Christian miracles or believe in a
personal, anthropomorphic God. So he went to New Zealand and became a
successful sheep-grazer, and within five years he had more than doubled
the four thousand pounds which he had been able to screw from his
father.

His life during these years is interesting in so much as it shows how a
man of education and breeding lived in the bush while developing
intellectually. The devil often tempted him there, but not always with
success, though he became terribly fussed over the death and
resurrection of Christ. He thought and wrote about it, but he was not
successfully delivered from his dilemma until the idea of "Erewhon" took
possession of him. This idea was that machines were about to supplant
the human race and be developed into a higher kind of life. When the
conception first seized him he wrote to Charles Darwin, whom he started
by admiring and ended by despising, that he developed it "for mere fun
and because it amused him and without a particle of serious meaning." He
had Butler's "Analogy" in his head as the book at which it should be
aimed, but when "Erewhon" appeared most readers thought he had "The
Origin of Species" in mind.

From this time one begins to see how extraordinarily laborious were all
of Butler's writings. "Erewhon" was not published until eight years
later, during which time he had written and rewritten, corrected and
re-corrected, pruned, elaborated, and incorporated sentences from
letters, records of experiences which he had while prospecting for and
developing his sheeprun, and innumerable notes from a commonplace book
which he early acquired the art of keeping. Ten years after its
publication he wrote to an indiscriminating, ardent admirer: "I don't
like 'Erewhon'; still it is good for me."

The next book he wrote, "The Fair Haven," he liked very much, but few
others did. When he was a very young man he had written a pamphlet on
the Resurrection. He was disappointed that it made little or no
impression. Finally he decided it had been written too seriously. It
then occurred to him to treat the subject as he had treated the analogy
of crime and disease in "Erewhon." The book purports to be written by
the son of a clergyman, the antithesis of Butler's father, insane before
the manuscript was completed, and of a mother, the replica of his own
mother. A brother gives the book to the world, prefixing a memoir of the
author modelled after Butler. The book fell flat. The few who resented
it were the sensitive orthodox whose feelings were outraged. Butler
could not understand why he was unable to induce people to reconsider
the gospel accounts of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

The second distinctive characteristic of Butler's make-up was his spirit
of God-I-thank-thee-that-I-am-not-as-other-men.

When Butler left New Zealand he had eight thousand pounds, partly in his
pocket and partly invested in the country that had been so bountiful to
him; he decided to return to England and devote himself to painting,
which he felt convinced was the field of activity in which he gave real
promise. It was then from the exceeding high mountain that he saw
Charles Payne Pauli, of Winchester, and Pembroke College, Oxford, who
had gone out to the colony and found employment on a newspaper. One
evening Pauli called upon Butler and stayed talking until midnight. "I
suddenly became aware that I had become intimate with a personality
quite different from that of any one whom I had ever known." Within a
few months there was established a strange intimacy, "one of those
one-sided friendships when a diffident, poetical shy man becomes devoted
to the confident, showy, real man as a dog to his master." He loaned
Pauli one hundred pounds that he might return with him to England; he
maintained him in London until Pauli was called to the bar; then he put
him on an allowance which he continued for many years and which used up
one-half of his savings and earnings.

When Pauli began to earn a comfortable income at the bar he treated
Butler with scorn, though accepting money and food from him. When he
died none of the nine thousand pounds which he had accumulated was left
to Butler. Indeed, the latter did not know of his death until he saw a
notice of it in the London _Times_. However, his love for Pauli, which
surpassed understanding, surmounted all obstacles and he wrote a long,
detailed account of the relation between himself and Pauli which, his
biographer says, if ever printed in full, will be "very painful
reading."

Some time before he broke with Pauli he started a friendship with
another man which fortunately did not test his indulgence and his
generosity to a similar extent, but it was no less remarkable. Indeed,
it was more so, for Butler was now fifty-six, and he poured the depleted
vessels of his affection upon Hans Rudolf Faesch in such a way as
practically to submerge this young man. I doubt if there is anything in
literature of men's friendships which for intensity of passion and
affection surpasses the letters which Butler addressed to the young
Swiss. The poem, "Out in the Night," addressed to Faesch on his
departure for Singapore, is a genuine, impassioned expression of grief
coming straight from the heart. And the letters to Faesch are truly
remarkable documents. In fact, the letter written to Hans Faesch after
he had started for Singapore, when Butler was fifty-nine years old,
might well have been written by Pericles to Aspasia or by a sentimental
youth to his dulcina. "I should be ashamed of myself for having felt so
keenly and spoken with as little reserve as I have if it were any one
but you; but I feel no shame at any length to which grief can take me
when it is about you." And yet we speak of Anglo-Saxon frigidity and
aloofness!

Butler would seem never to have been in love in the ordinary usual way.
We are justified in concluding that he had only a tenderness for
"Madame," who "during the twenty years of intimacy with Butler had no
rivals." Certainly he never was in love with Elizabeth Mary Ann Savage,
an extraordinary woman whose mentality is reflected in all of Butler's
books. From 1871, when he was writing "Erewhon," until her death, in
1885, Butler submitted to Miss Savage everything he wrote, and
remodelled in accordance with her criticisms and suggestions. Not only
did he submit the drafts of his books to her, but the suggestions of
many of them originated with her. If ever the soul and spirit of one
person operated through another, the soul and spirit of this brilliant
woman operated through the apparent mental elaborations of Samuel
Butler. She understood him as no one else understood him; she loved him
as no other woman loved him. Her devotion to him, her appreciation of
his talent, her unrequited love, her unfailing humor and mirth, her
incomparable courage when confronted with serious disease and with
death, and her apparent willingness that her talent should shine through
him is one of the most extraordinary things in literature. I am at a
loss to understand why neither his biographers nor the critics of
Butler's writings have given the subject adequate consideration.

Some years ago a youthful Austrian psychopath, Weininger, wrote a book,
"Geschlecht und Charakter," which had great popularity. It was widely
read in the original and in translations. Amongst other things that he
discussed was the sex endowment of man. The hundred per cent male is
very uncommon, and he is rarely encountered amongst creative artists.
The feminine percentage in them is considerable, often more than fifty
per cent. Samuel Butler had many feminine traits. He was vain, gossipy,
vindictive, swayed by his emotions, and he allowed himself to be wooed
by a woman. He took from Elizabeth Mary Ann Savage without giving a quid
pro quo or even acknowledgment. He did not have the courage to say to
her in the flesh what he said of her in the grave. He sold to the public
as of his own manufacture the warp and woof of her intellectual
weavings. Her letters, which form such a large part of the first volume
of these memoirs and which Butler wrote to her father "the like of which
I have never elsewhere seen," testify the public debt to her contracted
in the name of Samuel Butler.

The wit, humor, irony, and sarcasm of these letters all combine to
reveal a remarkable soul and rare personality. For twenty years she was
a true, steadfast, resourceful, sympathetic helpmate to Samuel Butler.
He accepted her amatory homage and her literary co-operation, and she
might legitimately have inferred from his letters that she was
somatically as well as spiritually sympathetic. Many women have
convinced themselves that their passion was reciprocated by men who gave
less tangible evidence of it than Samuel Butler gave Miss Savage. That
she loved him there can be no doubt, but her unæsthetic appearance
appalled him, her halting stride annoyed him, and her loving attentions
bored him. Some years after her death he composed two sonnets to her
memory, the first exquisitely vulgar, the second painfully pathetic.

    "She was too kind, wooed too persistently,
    Wrote moving letters to me day by day;
    The more she wrote, the more unmoved was I,
    The more she gave, the less could I repay,
    Therefore I grieve not that I was not loved
    But that, being loved, I could not love again.
    I liked; but like and love are far removed;
    Hard though I tried to love I tried in vain.
    For she was plain and lame and fat and short,
    Forty and over-kind. Hence it befell
    That, though I loved her in a certain sort,
    Yet did I love too wisely but not well.
      Ah! had she been more beauteous or less kind
      She might have found me of another mind.

    "And now, though twenty years are come and gone,
    That little lame lady's face is with me still;
    Never a day but what, on every one,
    She dwells with me as dwell she ever will.
    She said she wished I knew not wrong from right;
    It was not that; I knew, and would have chosen
    Wrong if I could, but, in my own despite,
    Power to choose wrong in my chilled veins was frozen.
    'Tis said that if a woman woo, no man
    Should leave her till she have prevailed; and, true,
    A man will yield for pity if he can,
    But if the flesh rebels what can he do?
      I could not; hence I grieve my whole life long
      The wrong I did in that I did no wrong."

Her memory deserves a better fate than interment in Mr. Jones's huge
mausoleum.

The third of Samuel Butler's distinguishing characteristics was that he
was incapable of falling in love with any one but himself.

He labored prodigiously to become a painter, and during his life he
succeeded in having five pictures hung in the Royal Academy exposition.
However, he never got out of Class C as a painter, and when he was
forty-one he forsook the brush for the pen. Meanwhile he had (according
to his father) killed his mother by the publication of "Erewhon,"
launched "The Fair Haven," got thoroughly enmeshed in the teachings of
Darwin and the contentions of Mivart, Lamarck, and others, plunged into
Hellenic literature to give it specificity of origin and display, and
was otherwise very busy pushing over statues of heroes which he mistook
for tin soldiers. Early in life he began keeping notes. His principle
was that if you wanted to record a thought you had to shoot it on the
wing. When he thought of or said anything especially illuminating or
amusing, or heard any one else say anything of the sort, down it went.
He was his own Boswell with all of that immortal's colloquiality and
ingenuousness. He did not hesitate to make frank comments on the people
he met, and photographic descriptions of such individuals, of his family
and friends, and their letters went to make up the novel (if novel a
narrative of fact can be called) through which he was made known to the
general public, and by which he will probably be longest remembered,
namely, "The Way of All Flesh." It was begun when he was thirty-one and
finished fifteen years later. Because it is autobiographical, and
biographical of his family and friends, he found the necessity of
frequently rewriting it, as time, event, and God changed them.

This is not the place to discuss the merits and demerits of that book.
It had an artificial popularity--Mr. G. Bernard Shaw being the
artificer. There was one thing about it concerning which every one
agreed: to pillory your parents in public is the equivalent of beating
them up in private.

The fourth of Samuel Butler's characteristics was insensitiveness to
what is generally called refinement or finer feeling. Though an artist
he had little æsthetic awareness. If he knew the canons of good taste he
did not subscribe to them. What he called his little jokes, which Mr.
Jones relates with great gustfulness, is the ample proof of this
accusation. "What is more subversive of a sultan's dignity than pinching
his leg? Pinching his sultana's leg." "We shall not get infanticide,
permission of suicide, cheap and easy divorce, and other social
arrangements till Jesus Christ's ghost has been laid." Cheap and vulgar
prostitution of intellectual possession a gentleman would call it.

Mr. Jones and Alfred, clerk, valet, and general attendant, "a live young
thing about the place, and a cheerful addition to 15 Clifford's Inn,"
became very intimate with Butler. Mr. Jones had been a barrister, but
had abandoned the law and was under a modest retainer of two hundred a
year from Butler to give him Boswellian service. They found Butler
companionable, and there are such indications as letters from casual
acquaintances, particularly in Italy, to show that he was agreeable and
sympathetic to some persons.

Aside from these there is very little in these two massive volumes to
testify to the kindness, gentleness, simpleness, and humility of Samuel
Butler. Apparently he disliked every one with whom he had to do or with
whom he came in contact, save Mr. Pauli, Mr. Faesch, Lord Beaconsfield,
and Richard Garnett. Still he was pleased with Mr. Garnett's
discomfiture on hearing his lecture on "The Humor of Homer." Searching
Mr. Jones's plethoric volumes carefully, it is difficult to find kind or
appreciative words for contemporary or forebear.

"How many years was it before I learned to dislike Thackeray or Tennyson
as much as I do now?" "Middlemarch is a long-winded piece of studied
brag." "What a wretch Carlyle must be to run Goethe as he has done!" "We
talked about Charlotte Brontë; Butler did not like her." "I do not like
Mr. W. J. Stillman at all." "I do not remember that Edwin Lear told us
anything particularly amusing." "All I remember about John Morley is
that I disliked and distrusted him." "I dislike Rossetti's face and his
manner and his work, and I hate his poetry and his friends." "No, I do
not like Lamb; you see Canon Anger writes about him, and Canon Anger
goes to tea with my sisters." "Blake was no good because he learned
Italian at over sixty in order to read Dante, and we know Dante was no
good because he was so fond of Virgil, and Virgil was no good because
Tennyson ran him, and as for Tennyson, well, Tennyson goes without
saying." "I said I was glad Stanley was dead." "I never read a line of
Marcus Aurelius that left me wiser than I was before." Speaking of
Maeterlinck, who was then coming to his estate, "Now a true genius
cannot so soon be recognized. If a man of thirty-five can get such
admiration he is probably a very good man, but he is not one of those
who will redeem Israel." Though Butler was fascinated by G. Bellini, he
surely had heard of Raphael.

Darwin, Wallace, Ray Lankester, most of the scientists of his time who
did not fully agree with him; novelists, philosophers, artists,
poets--all excited his disapproval. When he was fifty-three he made a
note to remind himself to call Tennyson the Darwin of poetry and Darwin
the Tennyson of science. Thus would he empty the vials of his wrath and
contempt.

He acided his system, as the Italians say, with hatred and envy of his
fellow man who had achieved fame or who was upon the road to it. It is
difficult to rid one's mind of the thought that the motive that prompted
him to literary work was that he might show how contemptibly inadequate
the masters were or had been, all of them save Handel and G. Bellini.

Samuel Butler took himself with great solemnity. He believed what he
wanted to believe and he believed he knew about many things far better
than experts and empiricists. When they did not agree with him he took
great umbrage and wrote disagreeable letters to them or made disparaging
references to them in his notes. "He never could form an opinion on a
subject until he had established his volatile thoughts and caged them in
a note. This enabled him to make up his mind." Thus he made up his mind,
aided by Miss Savage, that "The Odyssey" was written by a female, or, to
use his felicitous expression, "any woman save Mrs. Barrett Browning."

Samuel Butler's most deforming characteristic was lack of reverence. He
was endowed with an orderly mind. It was his passion and pastime to
train and develop it. He never let anything stand in the way of
accomplishing that purpose. His greatest literary gift was his capacity
for presenting evidence. His chief weakness was his incapacity to gather
evidence. He assumed certain things and then proceeded to prove to the
reader that they were facts. This is a procedure that has never had
favor in the courts or in the laboratories. Neither has it been accepted
as a legitimate procedure in what might be called constructive
literature, critical or creative. The only place where it has ever been
received with favor is the pulpit, and Samuel Butler was the true son of
the cloth which he did so much to deride and from which he believed he
had divested himself.

We should never have known what a pathetic figure he was if Mr. Jones
had not seen fit in his affection and his obsession to reveal him to us.
We can forgive Mr. Jones for this, however, because of his belief that
Samuel Butler is immortal. Would that we could also forgive him for
publishing a portrait of Mr. Butler standing before the hearth in the
sitting-room of his home--in his shirt-sleeves! We could not have been
more shocked had we found that he wore garters around his arms to
regulate the length of his shirt-sleeves. England indeed is changed.
This life of Butler gives the lie to Britishers' reputation for
stolidity and formality.



CHAPTER X

SAINTS AND SINNERS


Many a pia mater has been stretched to aching in the past few years by
thoughts of death and its harvest of human flower in first, fresh bloom.
Mystics have tried to give death a symbolic significance; they would
have us believe that it has or will have a repercussion in some occult
way beneficent to the world and those who are allowed to tarry here.
"What is this grave which the world was coming in its heart and in its
daily practices to treat as final? May it not be that the answer of the
whole world, which is busy with the question, will bring into being a
new adaptation of living to dying--a new Death?" is the way one of them
expresses herself. Were we concerned herein with death, either new or
old, we might deny her premise any foundation, and reason therefore that
any conclusion she might incline to draw must be false and misleading.
The world has in its heart to-day a yearning for promise and proof of
immortality such as its composite heart has never had. That Christianity
as practised fails to satisfy that yearning, does not justify the
allegation that the thinkers of the world have become materialists.

Historians and critics who view the question from a biologic angle
profess to see in war a contribution to our evolutionary progress: it
kills many of the most virile, but it kills also the weaklings, actual
and potential. The virile who remain push the weaklings to the wall,
particularly in the procreative contest. It puts a premium on prowess
and valor, and makes the race franker and braver, more resolute and more
efficient; it uproots decadency; it sacrifices the grain to get rid of
the tare; it plucks the flower that the thistle may be eradicated. The
philosopher accepts it as a part of God's programme: some he allows to
succumb to bullets, others to germs. The latter is the wise man, for he
accepts things as they are, and at the same time tries to shape their
course in a way that will give him and those he loves, which is all
mankind, the greatest safety.

We get accustomed to and become tolerant of everything save pain. Even
in such upheaval as the World War it was beyond belief how little the
mechanism of daily life was disjointed. Fifteen millions of men and more
were engaged in a life-and-death struggle, and yet the ordinary events
of daily life were very little disturbed. People seemed to have time for
work, for play, for relaxation, for contemplation. I was always reminded
of this by reading the papers and observing people in theatres,
concert-halls, stadia, churches, restaurants, and public places
generally. I realize full well that one cannot sit still and nurse
either his griefs or his hopes; that man is so constituted that he must
display activity in some form. But I never fully realized that man is
chronically happy. And yet it must be so, for how otherwise could he
come out from prisons rotund and well-nourished, or from dark filthy
tenements with a smile on his face? How else could we be so
pleasure-seeking and pleasure-displaying as we were in those agonal days
of the war?

The war put many things out of joint, but it did not divorce man from
felicity save in individual instances or for short periods of time. The
thing that the war dislocated most was further tolerance of the
paradoxes of the Christian religion, the irreconcilability between
preached and practised Christianity. Every one admits that the
fundamental principles of Christianity are perfect and beautiful--that
is, they are as perfect and as beautiful as the finite mind can grasp.
But nothing can be more imperfect and uglier than the way in which the
professional pietist practises it. There isn't a tenet, as formulated by
its Founder, or such perfect disciples as St. Francis of Assisi, to
which the professing or professional Christian conforms even
approximately; and because his fellow man, prostituting it in some
similar way to conform with his personal bias, does not agree with him,
he proceeds to point the finger of scorn at him and to hail him as
infidel and unbeliever.

I have no intention of prophesying whether the church will weather the
storm in which it is now floundering or not. I think very likely it
will. One reason for so thinking is that it has weathered all previous
storms; one of them five hundred years ago was of severity that will
never be forgotten. Since then education and enlightenment have lifted
man from the supine obedience and resignation of the domestic animal,
and he has demanded, and in a measure obtained, his worldly rights. This
encourages me to believe that he may soon demand his spiritual rights:
liberation from the tyranny imposed upon his mind by the Junkers of the
church, freedom to look upon God as the fountainhead of wisdom, mercy,
and love who mediates succor to the poor, the mourning, and the meek
more willingly than to the rich, the joyous, and the arrogant; liberty
to live according to the mandates of Christ and to die in confidence
that his pledges will be redeemed. Another reason is that man must have
a religion. Individual man can live without it, but collective man
cannot, and there is not the slightest sign of the second coming of
Christ. Religion was never so openly repudiated as during the Great War,
and it never wielded as little influence on the determinations of man's
conduct as it does to-day. Those who convince themselves otherwise make
themselves immune to the teachings of experience.

The paucity of men who have the capacity for constructive statesmanship
is pitiable, but how trifling is such a capacity compared with that
required to formulate the tenets of a livable new religion! The
practices of the church to-day are not those of the thirteenth,
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when it was steeped in every
conceivable kind of depravity, licentiousness, simony, wealth, power,
arrogance, avarice, and flattery; when it betrayed its mission to
protect the weak; when it fornicated with the princes of the world; when
it crucified Jesus in the name of egoism. But in what way has it
espoused the sacred cause of the lowly, the best-beloved of Him who died
that eternal happiness might be vouchsafed us? If Christ's vicar could
remain silent without being called to account as was the case a few
years ago when we were offering our fathers on the sacrificial altar for
the liberation from slavery of God's ebony image, it is not likely that
he will be called on to explain a similar silence during the Great War.
I do not profess to say, not even to know, the attitude of the hierarchy
which governed the Roman Catholic church toward the war. If it was
Germanophile or Austrophile, it was more wicked than the harlot of
Babylon. I should say the same had it been Anglophile or Francophile.
The man who can believe that the temporal head of the church is the
infallible spiritual guide of her adherents cannot believe that it
should take sides against any of her own people. "The house divided
against itself must fall." What I should like from the church is a
definition of her attitude toward war. She teaches her children what
their conduct should be about indulging their genesic extent, about the
property and person of their fellow men, about intemperance of language
and of appetite. Why not about war? What troubles me with the church is
not so much the determination to keep her children in ignorance, nor
that she has her back to the door which opens upon a vista of the
world's progress and advance, hoping that she may keep it closed in the
face of the divine forces of evolutionary progress which are seeking to
push it open. That might be tolerated, but not her arrogation of
self-sufficiency, her assumption of self-satisfaction, her boasted
immutability, her sanctimonious semblance of resignation, her mumblings
of archaic sayings in a language that neither its votaries nor one-half
its priests understand, her profession to protect the weak and aid the
poor while at the same time she bends the knee to the rich and traffics
with emperors.

Though I lived nearly two years in the city where the church's mediæval
gorgeousness is more striking than in any other city of the world, and
where its chief stronghold is, it was rarely that its practices or its
preachings disturbed my spiritual equanimity, my belief in God, or my
fathomless faith. Nearly every day my duties took me through the Piazza
of St. Peter and along the Vatican Gardens, and my thought was more
often of his mediæval predecessors than of the voluntary "prisoner" who,
while occupying the sumptuous palace, eats out his heart because he is
not allowed to be a temporal sovereign--in other words, to be the
antithesis of Him whose vicar he claims to be.

One morning, after I read the communiqués and had that glow of
satisfaction in the accomplishments of my fellow men, that feeling of
pride which every ally had during the last weeks of the war, I turned
the paper and saw the arresting headline, "Translation of the Bones of
St. Petronius," and I read:

     "This morning at eight o'clock the Holy Father, accompanied by the
     pontifical court, repaired to the Sistine Chapel, where were
     gathered the residents of Bologna who had come to Rome for the
     occasion. The pope, clad in sacred vestments, celebrated the mass
     and gave communion to those present. After the mass Cardinal
     Gusmimi, Archbishop of Bologna, gave a brief discourse, while the
     pope sat on the throne. The pope then responded, recalling the
     religious glory of Bologna and the life of the sainted Bishop
     Petronius. He then covered himself with other sacred vestments
     appropriate for the occasion and assisted the archbishop of Bologna
     in taking from the provisory urn the bones of that saintly man who
     had yielded this life for a place in the heavenly hierarchy many
     years ago, and placed them in the urn offered by the Bolognese;
     having done this, he placed the urn on the altar. The ceremony
     lasted upward of two hours."

In my fancy I saw a lot of able-bodied men thus engaged while those
whose spiritual destinies they had elected to shape were being
slaughtered on battlefields, struggling with wounds and disease in
hospitals, contending with cold, thirst, hunger, and indescribable
discomfort. What was the purpose of it, what benefit did it mediate,
what enlightenment flowed from it? If Petronius was a good man, if he
loved his fellow men, and if he did all that was within his power to do
to make them better men, more capacious for a full life here and more
worthy of eternal life, why should they not allow him to enjoy his
reward in the bosom of the Lord? How can they enhance his happiness,
what does mankind gain by taking the semblance of that which once formed
a framework for his spirit and transferring it from one vessel to
another while mumbling or chanting over it? What deep symbolism attaches
itself to this attempt to stay nature in gathering the ashes of
Petronius to their ultimate destiny? Would not these men give a better
account of their stewardship to their Master were they to devote their
time and their strength and their minds to the betterment of the
physical and spiritual lot of those poor, desolate, forsaken
unfortunates with whom I spent the afternoon--a trainload of men who had
been imprisoned in an enemy country and who were returning to Italy to
die of the dreadful disease that had been thrust upon them by those
insatiate monsters of cruelty, the Austrians?

I have rarely spent two hours more steeped in misery than I did that
afternoon at Forte Tiburtino, where I went to visit the enormous
hospital constructed around that old fort. It was intended to be used
for temporary concentration of the sick and wounded soldiers sent from
the front, until their disorders and diseases could be interpreted
sufficiently to indicate where they should be sent for most speedy
restoration to health. The protracted inactivity on the battlefronts of
Italy had allowed the hospital to remain for many months unutilized.
When Austria decided to send back to Italy a number of the men captured
in the Caporetto disaster, upon whom she had thrust tuberculosis through
starvation and every conceivable deprivation, it was decided to use this
hospital for their shelter until they should die or be sufficiently
nurtured to be sent to parts of the country whose climate is favorable
to recovery from that disease. Two or three times a week a trainload of
two hundred or more of these pitiful creatures arrived, many of them in
a dying state. As a rule, they had been _en route_ for a week, and,
though the Swiss Red Cross and the Italian Red Cross both attempted to
make some provision that would contribute to their comfort, very little
evidence of their efforts was to be seen.

Forte Tiburtino is three miles beyond Rome on the road to Tivoli. The
train is switched at the Portonaccio station to the rails of the tramway
and goes directly to the gates of the hospital. It was the first day of
autumn, the wind was blowing a gale, whereby the unfortunates arrived in
a cloud of dust which must have added to their suffering. But that was
as nothing, I fancy, compared with the pain and ignominy put upon them
by the antics of one of my countrywomen clad in the uniform of an
American relief organization, an affable Amazon who, approaching her
physiological Rubicon, had begun to display somatically and emotionally
the results of disturbance and inadequacy of those wondrous internal
secretions that give elasticity to the skin, lustre to the hair, sparkle
to the eye, and appearance of health to the _tout ensemble_. She but
heightened her painful plainness by a stereotyped smile which, while
displaying a row of long teeth, set at an obtuse angle, accentuated the
aquilinity of her nose and the prognathousness of her jaw. Everywhere I
looked she was there. Every place I went I heard her: "Bentornato,"
"Benvenuto," "Aspetti un memento, farò la sua fotografia." The ways of
the Lord are obscure. Otherwise one could explain why he did not let
these poor devils die without having thrust upon them this presence,
voice, and affected cheer. I saw them, weak and prostrated as they were,
shrink from her as one might shrink from a famished alligator.

They opened the side doors of the cars and put steps against them; the
white-clad orderlies came down first, and then began the procession of
the weak, the emaciated, the forlorn, the desolate. Some were able to
descend unaided, others had to be helped, one on either side, and still
others dropped inert and corpse-like, across the strong back of an
orderly who carried them the few feet to a stretcher. Now and then one
would step out with an air of attempted jauntiness and a feeble smile,
but for the most part it was a procession of those who had lost hope,
who had abandoned faith in every one and everything, and who read over
the portal, "_Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate_." It is some such
procession that Dante must have encountered frequently in his passage
through the infernal regions. "_Nulla speranza gli comforta mai nonchè
di posa, ma di minor pena._" Not only did their faces reveal absolute
despair but their bodies were reduced to such a state of emaciation that
they were scarcely recognizable as human beings. Major Pohlmanti
afterward told me that the majority of them had lost upward of forty per
cent in weight, some of them, indeed, as much as sixty per cent. Many of
them were so scantily clad that their chests and legs and arms were
bare. Some were without socks, and their bony feet, thrust into cloth
shoes with wooden soles, gave the finishing touch to what seemed to be
animated skeletons covered with dirty brown paper which had been soaked
in putrid oil. After those who were able to get on their feet had passed
out came those who were practically in the throes of death, and those
whose minds had been dethroned by suffering and privation. One was able
to keep the sob in his throat until _they_ appeared, and then the effort
to suppress it was impotent. Indeed,

    They had a rendezvous with death
    When Spring brings back blue days and fair,

and they are reconciled that he shall take their hands and lead them
into his dark land, as Alan Seeger said in those precious lines which
will ornament his memory for many a day.

The procession slowly wound its way within the gates, and I supposed
that they would be conducted and helped lovingly and tenderly to the
pavilions ready to receive them; that they would be undressed and given
hot, stimulating nourishment by nurses and orderlies recruited, perhaps,
from those who had come before and whom nature had been kind enough
partially to restore. But immediately they were confronted with a
species of Italian bureaucracy which hindered their progress toward this
haven of rest and of solace toward which they had been looking forward
for many days, perhaps months. They were segregated in a large, barnlike
structure a few yards within the gate, permitted to sit on rude,
unbacked, uncomfortable benches, and compelled to await their turn until
their names and their histories and an enumeration of their possessions
could be recorded. I felt that God would have been kind if he had
stamped across their brows the letter V to stand for virtue and valor,
as he stamped the letter A upon the breast of Arthur Dimmesdale to
testify to the people of New England the frailty of that Puritan parson,
which was revealed to his parishioners when they gathered together to
listen to the confession of his sins and to decide his punishment. There
they sat, inanimate, inert, resigned, awaiting what the Italian
Government might have in store for them with the same indifference as
they awaited that which nature had in store for them.

Never again shall I believe that the victim of tuberculosis is
optimistic and hopeful. It may be that their obvious and striking
forlornness was the expression of starvation and not of disease. Only
about thirty per cent of them, I am told, showed signs of active
tuberculosis after the ravages of inadequate and unsuitable food have
been overcome. I saw and talked with many of their predecessors, and
especially those who had been there a number of weeks, sufficiently long
for them to have gained in weight and in strength, but even they were
still branded with that expression which hopelessness comes nearest to
describing.

It occurred to me that perhaps these were the men who sat down on the
sides of the road and in the fields before that great disaster in the
Friuli and were resigned to being taken captive, and that the
resignation which they then displayed had been stamped on them gradually
day after day since then, until now it had become indelible. Life had
had no joy or poetry for them. Neither the present nor the future
had been tinctured with pleasure nor flavored with hope, and since
that day they had been silently awaiting that which now seemed
imminent--translation.

I could not but contrast the event of the morning with that of the
evening. Probably every one of these boys and men had been brought up in
the faith which the Holy Father claims is the only true one. They had
been taught that God is Justice. They had been imbued since earliest
infancy with the belief that, next to loyalty to God, their most sacred
duty was to their country. In their own way they had done their best for
both, and this was their reward. Their expressions of despair, their
manifestations of hopelessness, their silent portrayal of their
abandonment needed no explanation. The saint in the Vatican was having
his reward on earth, and the sinners in Forte Tiburtino looked for
theirs only in heaven.

    "Ahi giustizia di Dio! tante chi stipa
    Nuove travaglie e pene, quanto io viddi?
    E perchè nostra colpa si ne scipa?"

    "Ah, Justice Divine! who shall tell in few the
    Many fresh pains and travails that I saw?
    And why does guilt of ours thus waste us?"



CHAPTER XI

WOMAN'S CAUSE IS MAN'S: THEY RISE OR SINK TOGETHER ...

     "But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ:
     and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God
     ... but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of
     the woman but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for
     the woman; but the woman for the man."


Woman's position in the world, socially, politically, and economically
was profoundly altered by the Great War. Every contact with the affairs
of the world, save uxorially, was changed and I believe that one of the
aftermaths of the war will be further to change that relationship, to
extend her liberty, to enhance her privileges until every semblance of
the cage that has confined her since time immemorial is destroyed.

Eye-witnesses of the political and social emancipation of women do not
realize how extensively concerned with it the historian of the future
will be. Even less do they realize how directly certain social and
economic changes of the beginning of the twentieth century will be
traced to the entrance of women into the political arena. The individual
who would attempt to forecast the eventual effects of national
prohibition upon a people would have no respect whatsoever for his
reputation as a prophet. I assume there is little doubt that women
initiated and in large measure accomplished that legislation. Small
wonder they did. They had to bear the brunt and the pernicious effects
of alcohol consumption. Man drank it, but women paid; paid in privation,
in suffering, in disease, in ignominy--they and their children. There
are many habits, conventions, laws that deal with women differently than
they do with men. We may confidently anticipate that woman in full
possession of political privileges will soon turn her attention to
legislation whose purpose will be to change this, to effect a like
relationship of all human beings but especially of men and women.

The most ardent and pious Christian must admit that the practice of its
principles is inimical to woman's welfare or woman's full development,
using the terms welfare and development in the conventional sense of
to-day. There are undoubtedly many intelligent, honest, serious women
who subscribe to St. Paul's teachings of woman's duties and privileges
and who take no umbrage at his pronouncements. These were in a word that
she should be man's aid, his servant, and his ornament; that she should
minister unto his corporeal needs, and that she should be the instrument
through which God permitted man to reproduce his image and perpetuate
mankind. The Christian religion came gradually to be considered
figurative in its practicability, an ethical system strict conformation
to which would cause the individual to be looked upon as a victim of
mental aberration, but ideally quite perfect. With this conception the
restrictions put upon woman's activity gradually began to disappear, and
those that remained, such as, for instance, being obliged to cover her
head in church, were not only willingly accepted but were considered a
prerogative in so far as they facilitated personal adornment and thus
contributed to the realization of a fundamental, inherent ambition--to
be attractive.

Opponents of feminism have busied themselves with extraordinary industry
and tireless assiduity to point out the differences between man and
woman, always to the disadvantage of the latter. Their mental endowment
is inferior to man; their physical strength is less; their moral caliber
more attenuated; their emotional nature shallower. Why should any one
take the trouble to deny any of these? He who maintains that every
specimen of the human species endowed with average reasoning power
should live in the enjoyment of freedom and liberty should not allow
himself the trouble of denying them. He should admit it with the same
readiness that he admits that there are anatomical and physical
differences between the sexes. But the opponents of "rights of women,"
to use the phrase that has now come to have a sinister meaning, are not
satisfied with such admission. They want to have us admit that, in so
far as these qualities are at variance with those of man, so in
proportion is woman inferior. This no well-balanced, thoughtful,
unprejudiced man who has had much to do with men and women for a
sufficient period to entitle him to pass judgment upon the matter can
possibly admit. One may say dogmatically that woman has not the
potential or actual capacity of man in the field of politics and
statecraft, in the field of art and literature, in the field of science
and investigation, in the field of peace and strife. He may say it, but
he can furnish very little substantiation of his statement. Neither will
he be able to say it convincingly very much longer. It is not and will
not be fair or just that any one should make ex cathedra statements upon
such subjects until women have had the same freedom in fields of
activity that men have had for countless centuries. No weight or
credence need be given to statements that women are possessed of
intellectual and moral qualities that militate against their fitness to
occupy or adorn the important positions of life's constructive
activities. Possessions or infirmities which many of their ill-wishers
maintain unfit them for such places may disappear when they have had
opportunity to indulge their freedom. These alleged infirmities may be
merely reactionary to the restrictions of their environments since time
immemorial, since it is notorious that the place often develops the man.
No bird can tell how far it can fly until it tries its wings.

The American people are less astonished than any other nation to find
that women have invaded every field of human activity save that of
active warfare. They have long since thrown down the barriers that kept
women from entering such fields of activity, and welcomed their entrance
into them. They were encouraged to believe that they would give an
earnest of their activities and they have accomplished it without loss
of their sex attractiveness. The matter, however, is quite different in
the countries of Europe. There only the women of the lower classes have
earned their bread in the sweat of their brow, and particularly in the
fields, in the mills, and in the shops. But to-day all that is changed.
They drive tram-cars, load and unload ships, they till the soil and work
the mines, they make and deliver munitions; they have replaced the
porter and the ticket-taker at the stations; they are the
letter-carriers, cab-drivers, guardians of the peace; they direct and
administer great mercantile houses; and they are forcing their way into
every profession. They have not yet been in any of these activities a
sufficient length of time to enable any one to say whether or not they
can successfully compete with man. The prophets of old were stoned, and
he would be a daring one who would venture the statement that man will
successfully dislodge woman from all the positions she so satisfactorily
filled during the war. In some countries she will have gained, before
the end of the great social and economic adjustment which we are now
attempting, the political privileges which more than anything else will
put her on an equality with man, namely, the franchise. From such
vantage-point she will most successfully hold what she has gained. It is
too much to expect that woman will emancipate herself and come into the
arena of man's activities with her handicaps and lack of training and
not make mistakes prejudicial to her welfare. To expect it would be as
illegitimate as to expect that a strong man who had never trained for a
prize fight could enter the ring and successfully contend against a man
equally strong or stronger who had been training for the contest for a
long time.

No one was so fatuous as to believe in 1914 that the Central Powers,
after having devoted a quarter of a century to the most assiduous
training and preparation for the war that they thrust upon the civilized
world, would not jeopardize the liberty of the world. The Allied nations
had been content apparently to risk their fate without such preparation
merely because they had right on their side. They made many mistakes and
some of them were so flagrant and enormous as nearly to have cost them
their existence. Women likewise have right on their side in the struggle
which they have waged against the mandates of Christianity and the
usurpation of man. But right alone is not sufficient in such a contest.
They must combine might with it and might these days spells
organization. Without it nothing worth while can be accomplished. I
venture to prophesy that the striking legislation of our country of the
next generation will be accomplished largely by the influence of
organized women. This war has given them opportunity to display their
might and examples of what organization can accomplish. Unless I
misconstrue all signs, they will never again be deprived of the
privileges which they have at the present day. On the contrary, such
privileges will become larger and more comprehensive until they are upon
an absolute equality in every walk of life with man.

In the world of politics, society, economics, education, and religion
the question of rights of woman may not be given the constructive
attention to which it is entitled. In our country it is possible that
women are sufficiently organized to present their claims and insist upon
their being heard, and not only demand their rights, which are liberty
and equality, but they will get them. In England I am not so confident
of the result. In France and Italy I am still less confident; in fact,
their cause in these countries as things are at present seems to me
almost a hopeless struggle. The only thing that consoles me is history.
When one recalls that all that which we now speak of as democracy flowed
from one master mind in Cromwell's little army; that the Laocoön hold
which the church had upon the people in the Middle Ages was broken by
Luther and a few similar masters whose spirits successfully carried the
idea of liberty; that all that which is now spoken of as industrial
ascendancy flowed from the activities of one or two supermen in the mill
districts of northern England only three or four generations ago; then
one is lifted above his depression. Liberty and tolerance have taken on
a new significance. This is not due entirely to the war. The war minted
the meanings, but the gold was ready for the stamp. Liberty has come to
mean that woman and man are not only equal before God but that they are
equal before man. And, now that this admission has been wrung from
unwilling man and imposed upon governments one after the other, what
kind of a life do we wish? What are our visions? What are our sane and
legitimate aspirations? Are we willing to yield supinely to the tyranny
of state or of money? Are we content further to tolerate the infirmities
and impotency of present-day education? Shall we continue to close our
eyes to the hypocrisies of the church? Shall we be willing to submit to
the restrictions that are put upon us by law and covenant concerning
marriage and its entailments? Shall we bow down to autocratic
governments whose rulers claim, and apparently have their claims
allowed, to have divine guidance? Shall we be content with the
concentration of property or of private capitalistic enterprise? Shall
we be callous enough to see countless thousands of God's own, the poor,
deprived of the advantages of food and clothing, education and the gifts
of hygiene--in brief, of everything that makes life worth living? I
firmly believe that the rank and file of educated, thinking,
serious-minded persons who are not immediately concerned with the
possession or administration of any of these, will not tolerate them,
and in so expressing my belief I do not feel that I label myself
socialist. I feel that I enroll myself in the legion marching forward
under the banner of liberty and the belief that enlightenment is
followed by progress as unerringly as night is followed by day.

These things may be brought about by revolution, just as democracy was
brought about in France after the teachings of Voltaire, Rousseau, and
the French encyclopædists had blazed the way and the aftermath of the
American Revolution had reached that country; but I am firmly convinced
that one of the things that the World War will accomplish is that this
social reformation and reconstruction will be brought about without
violence and without revolution. Once a satisfactory integration of a
large number of individual lives is brought about, then integration of
the community and of the state is bound to follow. No one is so fatuous
or so blind as to hope that integration of individual life can come to
him whose creative impulses in any field are hampered or stultified, but
when these creative impulses, whatever they be, are encouraged,
nurtured, developed, facilitated, then the genus homo will reach its
full estate and we may confidently look forward to community and state
integration upon which lasting reform can be carried out socially and
politically. There is not the slightest advantage to be gained by what
is called political and economic reform unless at the same time there is
a reformation of the creative forces of life--education, sex relations,
and religion.

Any scheme of life that concerns itself only with life is bound to be a
failure. Man is so constituted that he must have a philosophy from which
he can form a creed that facilitates his craving for immortality. It is
this belief in immortality, as fundamental a demand as life itself,
which is the final conditioning impulse of all that is best in man and
which gives him an inexhaustible strength and a lasting peace.

How any intelligent person can believe that the teachings of Christ as
practised to-day, and I emphasize the word "practised," furnish such a
philosophy or a system of ethics, transcends my understanding. The chief
branch of the Christian religion stands for dogma to-day just as firmly
as it did before the Renaissance, and it pretends the humility of Christ
while maintaining the imperiousness of Cæsar. There is scarcely a
minister of the Protestant church who is not selling his birthright for
a mess of pottage by not daring to get up in his pulpit and tell his
flock that they must live up to the basic principles of Christ's
teachings. These ministers are just as cognizant as I am that their
branch of the Christian church has lost its hold upon the people except
in so far as its alleged teachings are reconcilable with their
pleasurable conduct in private and in public affairs. I do not mean to
say that there are not many wholly sincere and devout believers in these
churches who feel the inspiration of the teachings of Christ. But
because they are paid workers in the vineyard of the Lord they dare not
jeopardize their existence and take no heed for the morrow, and they
dare not insist that those to whom they minister should conform their
conduct to Christ's commandments, because it would hazard their very
existence and provoke the starvation of their children.

Do the meek inherit the earth? Have they inherited it? Does any one
rejoice and be exceeding glad when men revile him and persecute him and
say all manner of evil against him falsely? Is there any clergyman
to-day who is teaching and insisting that if any one shall break any one
of these least commandments and shall teach men to do so he shall be
called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven? Suppose we grant that the
Sermon on the Mount is not to be taken literally, but symbolically, of
what are these mandates symbolical? "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck
it out and cast it from thee. If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off
and cast it from thee." Why does one not give the same heed to these
commands as he does to "Thou shalt not kill; thou shall not commit
adultery"? The reason is that he who kills or commits adultery is liable
to be punished by the law, and he is deterred by the fear of such
punishment or of the social ostracism to which he would be subject.
Christ referred to the fact that "It hath been said that whosoever shall
put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement, but I say
unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife, save for the cause of
fornication, causeth her to commit adultery." But the present-day
mandates of Christianity are in no way in keeping with this.

As a matter of fact, every one must admit that the only conformation
which Christians make to the commands and counsel of the Sermon on the
Mount is a repetition of the verses following on "After this manner
therefore pray ye," and those commands which are at variance to-day with
statutory and conventional laws.

I am not railing against Christianity. I am of those who firmly believe
that if we were to conform our lives to the tenets of the ethical and
moral teaching of Christ we should not have the need of social
reconstruction which we have to-day. I am contending against the
hypocrisy of those who proclaim themselves Christians from the housetops
and who persecute others who do not conform to those trivial doctrinal
modifications which one sect maintains are the only true interpretations
of Christ's teachings. I am clamoring against the flimsy hypocrisy under
which half the people of the civilized world live in regard to marriage,
and who pretend to shudder and feel ill when you profess that you cannot
look upon marriage as a sacrament. I am railing against those who
believe that there should be one code of so-called morality for men and
an entirely different one for women. If the code that is practically
universally accepted to-day is proper for men, it is likewise proper for
women, and I want to live to see the day when women will have as much
freedom in their conduct in every walk of life as men have. The idea
that woman's life centres in motherhood and that all her instincts and
desires are directed, consciously or unconsciously, to that end is
buncombe. It would be just as legitimate to contend that all man's
instincts and desires centre in fatherhood and that his frenzied passion
to accumulate fortune, or his uncontrollable ambition to obtain fame, or
his insatiate appetite for power, or his insuppressible feeling to
externalize his thoughts in music, in art, in poetry, in invention, were
all secondary characteristics. The reproductive faculty of woman is
incidental to her existence. If any one desires to claim it was the
purpose of God in creating her, I shall not deny it, but as a student of
human nature, and as a physician whose life has been spent with
women--most of them, fortunately for me, honest and intelligent--I
maintain that civilized, cultivated, thinking women do not find that
motherhood satisfies their demands, their yearnings, their
aspirations--in brief, their personal development. The creative will has
other yearnings; not so imperative always in their demands for
satisfaction, but nevertheless insistent on being satisfied if the
possessor is to be spiritually content.

There are other reasons for the decline in the birthrate of the educated
and civilized people of every country than the fact that motherhood does
not completely satisfy the physical and mental demands of
women--financial reasons, social reasons, and reasons that partake of
both of them, yet not entirely of them, such as the occupation of women
and the celibacy which comes of enforcement or from choice. These must
be taken into consideration in our social renaissance when we shall
erect our ideals of justice and liberty. The time will never come again
when woman shall be man's willing or unwilling slave. The time has gone
by when society shall require that the wife be faithful while the
husband is faithless. Never again will the saintly, self-sacrificing
woman who never questions her husband's authority but who yields
supinely to his will be our ideal.

Woman may not be so strong as man. She may not be so truthful. She may
be more impressionable to sinister influences. She may be less capable
of erecting ideals and conforming her conduct to them. She may be less
steadfast in the pursuit of any plan of life, or less capable of
adhering to the ideal canons of conduct. She may or may not have any or
all of the sins of omission or commission of which she is accused by
man, but she is a human being made in God's image, of whom He may be
more proud than He is of man. She has been rocked in the cradle of
liberty and of freedom for the past five years, and to such purpose that
at the present moment she is not only able to walk but to stride. In the
future it will require the best effort of man to outdistance her, even
though he has the benefit of ages of experience and the advantage of a
start of forty thousand years.

We shall soon see whether Socrates was right when he said: "Woman once
made equal to man becometh his superior."



CHAPTER XII

POSTBELLUM VAGARIES


It seems incredible that we who have chanted "Peace on earth, good-will
to men" for upward of two thousand years, professing the Christian
religion and enjoying its benefits, should have in the year 1914
proceeded to discredit our professions and our protestations.

It is interesting to have lived in those times, for it brought into
one's thoughts and imagination sentient recognition of qualities or
characteristics of individuals and of peoples which, until the advent of
the war, one didn't know existed. Students of events curious to know and
to understand the factors and forces that had shaped the world,
geographically, politically, socially, religiously, were obliged until
1914 to rely upon the written records of the past. After that they had
but to observe daily events or read of them in the public press to
become apprised of what is meant by world progress. It has been a
universal belief that greater reform, politically and socially, flowed
from the French Revolution than from any premeditated, organized
violence that the world has ever seen. In the years preceding that
momentous event the peoples of Europe, and more especially those of
France, were living in a state of intellectual and physical oppression
which is almost impossible for the individual of average intelligence
and education to appreciate. Although republican forms of government had
frequently existed and had been conducted in many instances with much
success, there was no indication that any of them had left the smallest
trace of democracy in Europe, and the idea of social equality on a
physical, intellectual, moral basis did not exist. I fancy there is
scarcely an observer of the events which transpired during the Great
War, or a person who gives any concrete thought to the matter, who will
not admit--indeed, who will not maintain--that the results which have
issued and which shall issue from that conflict and particularly those
that have to do with men's relationship to each other in every walk of
life, whether it be governmental or individual, conductual or spiritual,
will be so radically changed that the issues of the French Revolution
will seem trivial compared with them.

It was vouchsafed me to be in a position during the last year of the war
to see at short range and sometimes from a vantage-point the workings of
the minds of a people who have had liberty, unity, and nationality on
their tongues and in their hearts for half a century and more. The
Italians were in the lime-light from the day Germany threw a brand laden
with explosives and poison gases into the different Christian countries
of Europe. Her conduct as a whole since that time has been one of
dignity, honesty, responsibility, and the exponent of the highest ideals
of nationality. Whether or not she succeeded at any time in gaining the
complete and absolute confidence of her allies, it would be difficult to
say. To get the confidence of an individual or a country you must trust
them, and the more implicitly you trust the greater will be the
confidence and the finer the quality. Every one knows that Italy's
alliance with Austria was an unnatural one and the majority of her
people have always believed that the issue of it would be disastrous.
Even the most shallow student of history knows that Austria stood
menacingly over Italy during the entire period of the unholy alliance,
but never more insultingly so than in 1912, when she veritably defended
Turkey, while Italy was at war with that country. When Italy decided to
throw her lot in with the Allies, there is no doubt whatsoever that it
was with the hearty approbation of the vast majority of her people. The
treaty which her minister of foreign affairs, Sonnino, made with the
Allies, and which is known as the Treaty of London, and which sets forth
what Italy was to have when victory was hers, although not known to the
people, was satisfactory to the government, and one who reads it now can
readily understand why it was so. The question was--would it be
satisfactory to other governments? Was it an instrument consistent with
the new liberty? Was it not at variance with what was going to be
considered a fundamental right of the people, the principle of
self-determination?

Italy's conduct during the first two years of the war drew forth the
approbation, the praise, and the admiration of the whole world. The
quality of approbation was undoubtedly merited. Whether the quantity was
merited is another question. Then came their colossal disaster of
Caporetto, the explanations of which have been many--some partially
satisfactory, others not at all. One of the undeniable results of it was
that upward of a half-million of her vigorous fighting men were marched
into Austrian detention-camps and prisons. The results of this
defalcation upon Italy and upon her internal resistance everybody knows.
It was a greater shock to Italy and far more sinister in its effect than
it was upon the Allies. Following it, she gave an example of capacity to
put her house in order, and to present a solid front, the like of which
has rarely been given by any country of the world. She cleaned her house
to good purpose. How thoroughly she cleaned it no one can possibly know
who was not permitted to enter it. The account which she gave of her
courage and her strength when the enemy attempted to cross the Piave, in
June of 1918, and which she gave in maintaining her lines in the
mountains against an enemy infinitely superior in numbers, was the
earnest of her honesty and determination.

There were, however, some things that awaited, and still await,
satisfactory explanation. When the war began Italy had a population of
about thirty-six millions, Austria-Hungary about fifty-four millions.
Italy had an army of upward of four millions of men. It was currently
estimated that Austria-Hungary had an army of between six and seven
millions. It is believed by the Italians that the greater part of the
dual monarchy's army was on the Italian front, and Italy convinced
herself that she was standing out practically alone against an army of
greatly superior numerical strength and larger military reserves. She
admitted that a few Allied divisions were with her, but she maintained
that she was giving far more to the western front than she received from
all the Allies. There is no doubt that there were a hundred thousand
Italians in France, both in the lines and behind them, and there is
likewise no doubt that there was no such number of Allied soldiers in
Italy. She had called to the colors boys born in 1899 and 1900. Indeed,
youths of the 1899 class were sent to the front after the military
reverses of October, 1917. Italy looked upon this in the light of a
sacrifice which she was obliged to make in order to resist the forces of
the empire which was at her throat. She believed that the Italian front
was of signal importance to the alliance as a whole, and she made no
secret of the fact that she was counting on the immediate assistance of
American divisions. Her government frequently said that very nearly a
tenth of her entire population was in the United States, and that
America had always been her most trustworthy friend, and that two
hundred thousand American soldiers would not only be a great moral
force, but would impart fresh vigor to the national resistance.

No one denied the truth of these statements, but cogitating on them one
is led to certain reflections, and they are: With an army of four
millions of men, why is it they were able to put only a million and a
half on the front? I understand that men were needed for munition
factories, for the essential industries that provide for war
consumption, and for the maintenance of the civil population; that
fields must be tilled, mines must be worked, water power must be
guarded, and railways must be manned. These things have to be done in
every country, but soldiers do not do them. Other countries have
militarized workmen, but they do not count them when they are
enumerating the man strength of their army. In reality Italy had called
to the colors all her healthy men between eighteen and forty-five in
order that she might more easily manage them, govern them, discipline
them.

The outsider who sees Italy through the veil of her statesmen's oratory
and polemics knows her only pleasantly masked. One is led to think
sometimes that they are more concerned with the appearance than the
substance. It often looks as if they were banking too much upon her
great and glorious past, and not looking to the furthering of conditions
that make for the happiness and efficiency of their people. The
conditions produced by the war have reminded the politicians in control
that the people love their government in proportion to the benefits they
derive from it, and I fancy it has at times felt that the people were
not giving it that strong support which is rooted in love and
consideration. "Four-fifths of the Italians have always lived on the war
footing," said Prime Minister Orlando in one of his speeches to
Parliament. He meant to convey that the Italians, being accustomed to
hardships and sacrifices, could stand war better than others. He claimed
to see in this a source of strength. Yet he must have known that the
soldiers lying down by the roadside in the days of Caporetto, awaiting
with Mohammedan indifference the coming of the Austrians, were replying
to the officers who were urging them to retreat to some place of
reorganization: "We have always lived on polenta, and we shall always
have it, and it will always taste the same even if the Austrians win."
Though not responsible for the sins of the past, it seems incredible
that the authorities were not aware of this wide-spread feeling among
the people.

It is in the hour of great trial that our conscience shows us, as in a
mirror, all our past shortcomings, and it admonishes us that we reap
what we have sown. Reviewing the past, the Italian Government must have
known that it could not have the unswerving loyalty of a people who for
fifty years had been fed on promises, big words, and magniloquent
speeches covering illiterateness, oppressive taxation, obstacles to
activity, and necessity of emigration. It is not with words alone that
one gives happiness to a nation and receives love and support.
Emigration and Bolshevism are the two symptoms of the disease that
threatens the nation. Nearly a million Italians emigrated in 1913, and
socialism has a firmer footing in Italy than in any other country.
Surely these facts have far-reaching significance. The conclusion is
that there can be little doubt that men had to be called to the colors
so as to manage them better with martial discipline. Possibly it was a
wise measure and a necessary prologue to the rigid censorship and to
Sacchi's decree, which was a kind of _lettre de cachet_.

I have often asked myself, What is the Italian's most dominant
characteristic? What is his most conspicuous idiosyncrasy? One day I
answer it in one way, another in another. But on mature reflection I
think it is that he believes what he wants to believe and that he does
not trust any one implicitly. He trusts his own fellow citizen least of
all. He says he trusts him, but when he puts him in a position of trust
he puts somebody in to watch him and to report on him. The Italian has
not that confidence in his fellow human beings that a normal man has in
his honest wife, that a normal mother has in her dutiful child, that a
normal lover has in his trusted _innamorata_. I am so prejudiced in the
Italian's favor that I must defend even his infirmities. For centuries
Italy was divided and weak, and countless times she has been the tool of
the ambitious, the insatiate, and the predatory. She has been used over
and over by more powerful nations as tongs to get their chestnuts out of
the fire. For every favor she has received she has had to pay dearly,
and she has learned by sad experience that promises are usually made of
fragile material. Leaving out the treatment she received from France and
England in the nineteenth century, more particularly during the years
when she was big with nationality and unity, and during the period when
she gave birth to these beloved terms, the treatment she received from
these nations in 1911 and 1912, while she was waging the Libyan War,
still rankles in her bosom. Despite Salisbury's promises and his parable
of the stag, they recall England's disparagement of her initiative and
of her conduct of her righteous War. They recall the sinister frenzy
that France displayed when they took the S. S. _Carthage_ into one of
their ports because they believed she was carrying aeroplanes to the
Turks, and the S. S. _Manouba_ because she had Turkish passengers
camouflaged as doctors and nurses. She recalls also that when the Hague
Tribunal practically decided in her favor, neither France nor England
displayed the slightest graciousness.

Despite these stabs of yesterday, Italy must purge herself of distrust,
which is the ferment and leaven of weakness. She must make good her
alleged trust of France, her professed confidence in England, her hail
of the United States as her deliverer. It is difficult for me to believe
that often she has not had one language on her lips and another in her
heart. The time has come when she must make the words of her heart and
her tongue one. The moment has arrived when she must put her cards upon
the table and say: "That is my hand and I play the cards face upward."
If she can be made to realize it, Italy is big with the prospect of a
glorious future and her delivery will not be long delayed.

Nothing impressed me so much in Italy during the momentous last months
of the war as her ideas of nationality, the ideas that found
dissemination, if not birth, in the prophetic soul of Mazzini and which
began to germinate nearly a century ago. "Great ideas make peoples
great, and ideas are not great for the peoples unless they go beyond
their boundaries. A people to be great must fulfil a great and holy
mission in the world. Internal organization represents the sum of means
and forces accumulated for the performance of a preordained mission
without. National life is the instrument; international life the goal.
The prosperity, the glory, the future of a nation are in proportion to
its approximation to the assigned goal." These words were written by
Mazzini several years after his ideas had made Italy great, and during
the war they were on the tongue and in the pen of every constructive
statesman who was satisfied to live only under liberty's banner.

For fifty years or more, but particularly since that fateful day, the
20th of September, 1870, when Italian union became a reality, she had
professed the profoundest sympathy for the oppressed nations of her
hereditary and actual enemy, Austria-Hungary. Since the beginning of the
World War the proud spirits of these oppressed nations, now commonly
spoken of as the Czecho-Slovaks, had been active in devising plans that
would liberate them and their peoples from the jaws of the monster. The
whole civilized world who love liberty were in sympathy with them. No
one denies that they accomplished results that were almost miraculous.
Those who had real knowledge of what was going on in the world knew that
in a measure we owed to them the secrets of Germany's diabolic
machinations in our own country when we were on terms of amity with the
Central Powers. It was not denied that Italy's success on the Piave in
June, 1918, was in some measure at least due to the information that the
Czecho-Slovaks were able to give the Italians.

In April, 1918, there was a congress of Czecho-Slovaks in Rome, which
was warmly received by the Italian people and by some representatives of
the Italian Government. This congress formulated the principles upon
which it was waging war against Austria-Hungary. It set forth in
language that even a child could understand its ideas of nationality. It
put before the democratic nations of the world the ideas that they
represented and proposed to represent. Their claims received the
approbation of the prime minister of Italy, but for some inexplicable
reason the stamp of approval of Italy's minister of foreign affairs, the
only one who was in a position to represent the government
authoritatively, was withheld from them. It was necessary, apparently,
to bring the country to the brink of dissolution of its government by a
public agitation of the question initiated by the _Corriere della Sera_
before Sonnino's official approval of their aims could be secured.
Despite the fact that France, England, the United States, Japan had in
turn accorded to the Czecho-Slovaks the right of nationality, and
despite the fact that it was well known that that organization called
into being by Italy's noble, loyal sons known as the Fascio was warmly
and industriously championing the cause of these oppressed people, yet
the governmental hand had to be forced before she would put it on the
table and play her cards face upward. When the _Corriere della Sera_ was
able to throw off the manacles of the censorship and bring the subject
of discussion into the public arena, the influential journals that
represent the standpatters in the government, such as the _Giornale
d'Italia_, the _Epoca_, and even the _Messaggero_, denied that there was
any dissension or shadow of dissension between the prime minister and
the minister of foreign affairs, and they continued to deny it in the
most determined and deliberate way up until the very last moment.
Sonnino's champions maintained that the position he took was necessary
that Austria-Hungary's intrigues be rooted up and killed. The fear was
expressed that the new policy favorable to the Jugoslavs might
circumvent the stipulations of the Treaty of London, which were
favorable to Italy, and sacrifice them to the exaggerated claims of the
Jugoslav ideas of nationality.

The _Corriere della Sera_ pointed out the futility of too great
adherence to the Treaty of London and asked: "Can we expect Wilson to
feel bound by the I. O. U. given to us in London if he did not sign it?"
It insisted that the maintenance of the London treaty in full force was
incompatible with a policy favorable to Czecho-Slav aspirations. This
embittered those holding the opposite view. The _Tempo_ rejoined: "An
attempt is made to make Italians believe that there is a conflict
between Rome and Washington due to our 'imperialistic ambitions,' which
are looked upon with distrust by Washington. It is for this reason, they
tell us, that the United States is loath to give us the help of their
forces on our front. The nation rebels against this and will not allow
anybody to put a noose around her neck and blackmail her by any such
dilemma: either we must have a change of policy, with consequent
revision of the London stipulations, or abandonment on the part of the
Allies. We are not defending Sonnino, but what is much nearer our
heart--the interests of Italy. We defend the Pact of London as the only
guarantee of our interests. You can't tell us that an effort is not
being made to diminish those stipulations: It is not true...." (Here the
censor intervened.) "We entertain no prejudice against the Czecho-Slavs
provided they do not insist stubbornly on crossing our path, and prove
that they can do what is necessary in their own interests instead of
expecting sacrifices from us. Let them meet us halfway by implicitly
recognizing the integrity of the rights guaranteed to us by the Treaty
of London, which are the reasons for our having entered into this war."

In the same paper, August 20, 1918, appeared this editorial statement:

     "Either this war will make us secure in the Adriatic or it will be
     a complete failure as far as we are concerned. In politics there
     are no friends. There are interests only. The friends of to-day may
     be the enemies of to-morrow. It doesn't profit us to take away the
     control of the Adriatic from Austria to give it to those who up to
     yesterday have been the bitter enemies of our race and who now,
     because it is convenient to them, pose as our friends. We are not
     surprised that this is of no concern to Mr. Steed (the English
     pro-Jugoslav journalist, for many years correspondent of the London
     _Times_ in Italy and now its editor). Were we English instead of
     Italian we also would not mind to see the Czecho-Slavs inherit the
     vantage position of the Adriatic held to-day by the Central
     Empires. This may be sufficient for those who only see in this war
     an Anglo-German conflict, but it is not sufficient for those who
     look only at Italian interests. It is easily conceivable that
     others may be interested in perpetuating our weakness in the
     Adriatic which will prevent our further development, but it is
     absurd that Italians should blindly follow such foreigners. Ask our
     navy officers, defenders of Italy, what they think of those who
     advise us to give up our just claims to the Dalmatian coast and
     islands, which is not only a pistol aimed at Italy's head, but a
     series of machine guns. The Treaty of London covers also our rights
     on the Ægean islands, eastern Mediterranean, and colonies. If we
     establish the precedent that this treaty can be abrogated or
     diminished, we do not know where this may lead us--all our
     interests protected by it may be questioned sooner or later. This
     fact has surely not been grasped by those who intoxicate themselves
     with demagogic magniloquence, who believe that after the war men
     will go to play the bagpipe in the shade of ilex-trees, and that
     the kingdom of Saturn will be restored. It can be understood only
     by men still in possession of their full mental powers, who know
     that this is a conflict of political and economic interests, after
     which men will continue to forge weapons for the great competitions
     in the vast world, resuming the struggle for the control of
     colonial markets and supremacy of the seas. Only such men
     understand the necessity of defending _unguibus et rostris_, even
     against our allies, the juridical ground we have conquered. The
     London treaty must not be discussed, as it is the only
     justification for our war, conceived as a war, for national
     development and balance of power among the nations which will
     constitute the new world which will be born out of this conflict.
     Whosoever thinks differently is a traitor to his country."

This is what may properly be called "tall talk." After this climax of
virulence, a tendency developed in the press tending to mitigate the
effect of such rancor. An attempt was made to show that the variance of
opinions was more formal than substantial, and that it was for
Parliament to decide. Even the _Idea Nazionale_ expressed this opinion,
though for years it conducted a campaign to undermine the authority and
prestige of parliamentary institutions in Italy.

The _Tempo_, however, did not back down, but asked: "Is it true or not
that during the meeting of the oppressed Czecho-Slavs in Rome no
territorial agreement could be arrived at because the Czecho-Slav
representatives did not want to accept the Adriatic limitations involved
by the Treaty of London?" It also sarcastically remarked that the Treaty
of London is now being called the "Pact of London," that somebody has
already started to call it a "memorandum," and that it is to be expected
that soon it will be called a "laundry list." And it continued: "Is it
true or not that our requests, contained in that document, are an
indispensable minimum to insure our safety in the Adriatic such as will
justify the enormous sacrifices we have made in this war? Are we not
right, then, to distrust this policy favorable to the Czecho-Slavs which
tends to postpone the solution of geographic points without first
recognizing the Italian claims as being fundamental? Let the
Czecho-Slavs first recognize our right to safety and let them dispel our
legitimate diffidence. All this discussion seems to have been the
pleasant outcome of those who entertain the jolly notion that we are
waging a poetic war instead of trying to solve in our favor vital
military and political problems, and that we should be perfectly
unconcerned about knowing whether on the other shore of the Adriatic
there will be either Germans or Slavs, Republicans, Catholics, Orthodox,
Conservatives, Democrats, musicians, or poets."

Gradually the thunder-clouds began to disperse and a conciliatory
element was introduced into the discussion. "Rastignac," who drives an
authoritative quill, and who is one of the leading and much-listened-to
journalists and lawyers of Italy, wrote in the _Tribuna_, the newspaper
identified with Giolitti:

     "Would it not be better to keep silent instead of creating currents
     of ideas hostile to Italy, all on account of the Pact of Rome
     between an Italy which is still invaded by Austria and a Jugoslavia
     which still exists in dreamland? Is this new pact, born through the
     efforts of the Anglo-French friends of the Czecho-Slavs, capable of
     diminishing the Treaty of London, which is fundamental for our
     interests? Poor Italy, if this should prove to be the case. We are
     quarrelling as if the war had ended, Austria had been conquered and
     dismembered, and as if we were already seated before the green
     table for the signature of that treaty which will assign to this or
     the other power the shreds of Austria. Meanwhile we forget that
     there are seventy-two Austrian divisions on our soil, and that the
     war is continuing without the possibility of foreseeing when it
     will end. I am well aware that our friends of England and France,
     prompted by their great love for Jugoslavia, seem quite ready to
     sacrifice the Treaty of London to the new Pact of Rome. These
     friends are strongly inclined to be very generous, at our expense
     unfortunately. We are being lulled into the belief of a sure
     dismemberment of Austria, on which dismemberment is based this new
     creation of our allies, _i. e._, Jugoslavia. It is strange,
     however, that there are in France some political parties who
     reproach Clemenceau for having ruined the rich possibilities of
     which the letter to 'dear Sixtus' was full.... It is no mystery
     that tradition is not easily uprooted in England and that one of
     the deepest-rooted of them has always been that of friendship with
     Austria. There are roots much older and stronger than the new ones
     of the "Society of Nations." ... Let's not base our policy entirely
     on a hope which will last we do not know how long, _i. e._, the
     destruction of Austria. Do not forget, please, that this, the
     greatest conflict of history, is nothing but a conflict of
     interests ill-concealed under the rosy cloak of the highest and
     noblest idealism. Its true essence remains a struggle for political
     and commercial supremacy. It is no time now to read the 'Fioretti
     of St. Francis.' We shall have time later on for this."

The _Corriere della Sera_ stuck to its guns. It was neither blinded by
the rhetorical dust which the pro-Sonnino organs kicked up, nor was it
asphyxiated by their noxious gases, and Sonnino had to line himself with
England, France, the United States, and Japan in according the
Czecho-Slovaks nationality and rights of allies.

Italy's trials, ill fortune, and good fortune since then are much better
understood if they are contemplated in light of that discussion and of
her momentous election of the autumn of 1919.



CHAPTER XIII

WORLD CONVALESCENCE


We had become so habituated to war and its machinery, its incidents and
horrors, its demands and entailments, that when we were thrust suddenly
into a new world with whose conduct and ordering we were unfamiliar we
had the sensation of one who comes from long tenancy of a dark room into
the glare of sunlight, the feeling of unreality of one who emerges from
a delirium. The abdication of emperors, their flight and their fate
distracted us for a moment; the abyss into which the Central Empires of
Europe had been hurled arose before our eyes; the needs of the
unfortunates in the devastated districts and of those struggling to get
back to their native land made appeal to us; thoughts of future work and
play occurred to us, but none of them engrossed us. Though saturated
with the joy of deliverance no one gave himself over to revelling in it.
Groping in darkness as we have been for so long, we blinked and gasped,
trying to accustom ourselves to the divine light of the new day that had
dawned, and to discern and define beauties which the new world would
present. We were like a person who had suddenly been liberated from a
danger that not only threatened his life but made existence
insupportable. Utterance could not give such thoughts relief. Only
appreciative silence could express his gratitude.

In the lull or convalescence that came after the world's injury and long
illness, peace terms were formulated, indemnities exacted, the map of
Europe remade, and compacts formulated and signed to prevent another
holocaust. Thus the greatest venture the world ever embarked upon will
end. Then will come the great task--reconstruction of the world's
institutions.

The question that has fatigued the human mind since time immemorial,
"What shall man do that he may live again?" is for the hour replaced by
another more likely to be answered, "What kind of a world will the one
just wrought be in which to live, and when will it be habitable?" The
old world has been delivered of a promising offspring. Its travail was
terrible and sanious. The accoucheur had to call to her aid the counsel
and service of many nations, but the new-born world gives promise of
great tidings. Grief for the old world that yielded its existence in the
agony of deliverance is engulfed by the joy that has come in
contemplation of the beauty, purity, and immaculateness of the new
world, in which liberty shall be as free as the air in which it is
suspended.

What will this new world that is arisen from the destruction of empires
and from the ashes of tyrannical institutions be like? In what way will
it be better and more satisfying than the one that existed previous to
the war? What are the benefits that will flow from the sacrifices that
have been made? What are the rewards that will follow the labor and
effort expended to win the war? What are the mercies that will be
vouchsafed us for our deeds of commission and of omission? How shall
things be ordered that man, mere man, without other possession than
intelligence, without other aspiration than to be permitted to display
his dominant instincts,--love and constructiveness,--without other
ambition than to enjoy life and make others enjoy it, may be worthy of
his mission and deserving of its reward? These are the questions that
are occupying the mind of every thinking person in the whole world
to-day.

Before any one of them can be answered the fate of the former Central
Empires must be settled, because the Allies must know with whom they are
dealing and how much they are deserving of confidence and trust, and how
much they can be relied upon to carry out the terms of any agreement. We
may be absolutely certain that recent advantageous treaties will be
abrogated and that territories appropriated in the last half-century
will be restored. That which we cannot feel reasonable assurance of is
what form of government the former Central Empires will have, or whether
that which they bring forth will not be, in reality, a resurrected
Trojan horse, the Teuton's contribution to political camouflage.

The spokesmen of these newly formed governments say they will be
democracies. But who are the spokesmen? Are they not of them who until
yesterday were fighting for the preservation of the country and
government which had been selected by God and by themselves to thrust
"Kultur" upon the world, and which had been wantonly attacked by its
neighbors on the north, the south, the east, and the west? Did they
admit until that fateful yesterday that their government was not
perfect, or at least possessed of only such trifling imperfections that
they, the Socialists of one kind or another, could readily remove them?
Nothing has transpired in Germany since the abdication of the Kaiser, so
far as we have been informed, that permits us to say with anything like
assurance what form of government Germany hopes to have. All that we
really know is that the government has fallen into the hands of the
German Socialists, the deeply dyed-in-the-wool Socialists and the
Socialistic Democrats. So far as one can predicate judgment on the
reported sayings of the spokesmen of either of these two parties, the
purpose of the present government is to save as much as it can of the
previous régime and to continue it, minus the Kaiser and the war lords.

In none of the addresses or communications of any of these spokesmen is
there any real admission of defeat, any intimation of humility, any
indication of having been lessoned, nor, indeed, of anything that can be
interpreted as recognition of the fact that Germany has been the victim
of _Grossenwahn_, megalomania, which prompted and compelled her to a
line of conduct which conditioned her destruction. On the contrary,
everything that has been said has a note of determination to
rehabilitate herself in order that she may take the leading position,
morally, intellectually, commercially, in the world. At the very moment
when admission that she had lost the war was forced from her, and while
she was prostrate on the field of battle and in a state of collapse in
every acre of her territory, instead of silence and of resignation,
instead of an indication of that humility which tauts the heart-strings
of the conqueror, there was clamor of exultation setting forth the
virtues of the people and their ineradicable potentialities. Having been
denied victory on the field of battle, if that _Gott_ who was their
_Feste Burg_ does not desert them, they will now win a greater
victory--they will show the world that they can conquer themselves and
convert defeat into victory. They are without shame and without modesty.
They ask for succor from the nation which less than eighteen months ago
was a negligible quantity and which four years ago was made up of
drivelling idiots and men mad with lust for wealth. "You will not let
countless thousands of women and children die of starvation." No, we
shall not let them starve, but we shall have adequate care that never
again will it be within your power to thrust the mailed fist of one
extremity upon the honest, God-fearing people of the world while with
the other you snatch the food from the mouths of those unable, because
of age or infirmity, to provide for themselves.

One does not fail to detect the ring of exultation with which they say
that they will win the greatest of all victories--that of showing that,
though defeated in arms, they can be masters of themselves. They have no
recognition whatsoever that the destruction of mediæval imperialism and
the unfurling of the flag of liberty have been due to valor and
sacrifice of the peoples of the whole world, who have accomplished it
without other motive than to make the world a fit place in which an
honest man can live. In short, they are endeavoring to make it seem that
their defeat in the material control of the world by the German sword is
to be an opportunity for a great German triumph.

At this distance it is impossible to distinguish between the arrogance
of the German Kaiser and his supporters and the arrogance of the German
Socialists. They have every appearance of being born of the same
monstrous mother made big of Satan. That which the latter are now
stating they can do is the same as the Kaiser and his cohorts of
authority, founded in divine rights, thought they could do and set out
to do a quarter of a century ago. The Germans are as intoxicated with
their own vanity, their own self-sufficiency, their own divine mission
and potentialities to-day as they have been at any time in the twentieth
century.

No one denies that Germany defeated may make any attempt at government
which she chooses. At the same time no one can abrogate the right of the
conquerors to see to it that the form of government which she institutes
and which she attempts to carry into operation shall not be one that
militates against the success of the ideals for which the Allies have
striven, not for themselves alone but for the whole world. It needs no
prophetic vision to discern in the expressions of dictatorial arrogance
of those who have taken the government in hand in Germany the same
assumption of superiority which led to their defeat, the greatest the
world has ever seen. In brief, as we see it to-day, the effort in
Germany at the present time is to substitute one kind of class interests
for another which was admitted by the world's best judges to be not only
pernicious but destructive of liberty. If the former was of such a
nature, why does not the latter partake of it? If there were any
indications of sincere desire to establish an honest form of democratic
government in Germany, there is no doubt that its originators and the
whole German people would soon realize that they were dealing with a
magnanimous conqueror, but in view of the fact that the wild beast has
now in its agonal days the same snarl, the same venom, and the same
sharp teeth that it had when it was lusty and well-nourished, it is
necessary that the conquerors should harden their hearts and judiciously
guard the springs and cisterns of their generosity.

Promises of Germans should no longer be adequate. We should demand
deeds, and not only that but that they should be backed by the sentiment
and determination of the whole people and not of those who in
maintaining that they speak for them speak only for themselves and their
malignant ambitions. Teutonic tradition and authority must be replaced
by Jeffersonian, Mazzinian, Wilsonian liberty and justice.

It would be well for the whole world to realize that we are on the
threshold of the most fundamental transformation that the human mind can
conceive. We have been so long accustomed to the institutions and
conventions that constitute authority and privilege that it is almost
impossible for any one to realize that they are about to cease to exist.
Not only has the death-knell of such class privileges been rung, but
likewise that of institutions which have stultified intellectual growth
and moral supremacy, and amongst them none has more importance than
organized religion, that is, religion which claims to be authoritative
in so much as its directors or trustees--call them what you
may--formulate a dogma to the teaching of which all others must conform
in order that they may have life everlasting. People's religion must be
left to the free choice of the people.

Few of us realize that the curtain rung down on the 11th of November,
1918, was the closing of the second act in that great drama of which the
first act was the French Revolution and of which the third and closing
act will be devoted to social and political reconstruction. The majority
have some ill-defined notion or thought that we shall go back to the
kind of world that existed previous to August, 1914. There isn't the
smallest chance of it. I doubt whether even those who have had a vision
of the impending transformation realize, however, how great or
far-reaching the change will be. The time has come when the people are
going to rule the world. They are going to administer its affairs in
such a way that every man and woman capable of taking thought will have
opportunity to be heard and will be privileged to live without
authority, whose purpose it is to make the masses conform to a line of
conduct that will make for the advantage of the few, favored by birth or
fortune which may have been their birthright or their acquisition. For
years the word socialism and that for which it stands have been redolent
of bad odor. This war has purged it of its disagreeable connotation, and
to-day that which is meant by socialism is equivalent to the rights of
man. In the minds of many socialism and anarchy are synonymous, but in
reality the socialism which the war just finished has nurtured to a
lusty youth is much freer from anarchy and from the potentialities of
destruction than the reign of autocracy, of capital and of bosses, which
it supplanted.

I realize that it is difficult to defend this position in view of what
is happening in Russia. To-day the bugaboo to the world's children is
Bolshevism; that is what will "get us if we don't look out." When a riot
breaks out anywhere nowadays it is Bolshevism. It has become a
shibboleth, a name to conjure with, this social and political experiment
in organized and carefully planned violence that has been carried out by
the Jews in Russia since the conclusion of the peace of Brest-Litovsk.
The word has suddenly come into wide-spread use and it is being given
the connotation of socialism. In truth it is the socialism of the young
Russia. Its theory is a perverted Marxism and its practice is an
envenomed Hindenburgism. The etymology of the word Bolshevism as a name
for a pseudopolitical party finds its origin in the programme of the
party itself, that is, in the ultraradical tendencies of "Maximilist
extremists" professed by the party leaders, Lenine, Trotzky, and
Sinowjew. The leader Lenine said of the Bolsheviks in a moment of
frankness: "For every genuine Bolshevik of my party there are sixty
idiots and thirty-nine rascals," and no one can doubt his fitness to
judge. We should not forget that the Russian public that looks on Lenine
as its idol is honeycombed with deserters, ruffians, and at least three
hundred thousand common criminals who were liberated from the prisons
and from exile in Siberia by the revolution.

The Bolsheviks are neither a party nor are they the expression of
democratic and revolutionary Russia, as a great many persist in
believing. They are a mob drunk with ultraradical doctrines, who from
exceptional circumstances have become able to seize the power,
dominating with methods ferociously reactionary a hundred and twenty
million individuals. And the world is witnessing in astonishment the
spectacle offered by these bandits who, illegally holding the state
power, arbitrarily decide the fortunes of a whole people after having
allured them with fallacious promises, betraying them before the enemy.

The absolute unpreparedness of the Russian people--eighty per cent is
illiterate--to pass into a régime of democracy and social autonomy has
facilitated the successes of the Bolsheviks, whose "ideas" or
conceptions, as expressed in the programmes of Lenine, Trotzky, et al.,
consist in carrying "persuasion" to the majority of the ignorant masses.
Such "ideas" are first of all that the "proletariat has not and must not
have a country." "The issue of the World War is of interest to the
proletariat only from the point of view of the possibility for them to
take advantage of the general situation, doing everything in order to
turn the war of the states into a war of classes."

The bastard Bolshevism of present-day Russia professes, furthermore, the
conception formerly considered as purely anarchic that "the property of
others does not exist"; theft and violence are the normal means of
exchange; liberty of speech is non-existent; neither press liberty nor a
free literary production exists, because the Bolsheviks are exercising a
censorship more tyrannical than the ill-famed imperial censorship. Their
methods of coercion are to bring about financial exhaustion by means of
fines and indemnities; physical exhaustion by means of enforced labor
and confiscation of food supplies, and moral exhaustion by removing the
foundations upon which individual life is integrated, removing all
dominant objects, such as desire for scientific or artistic creation,
religious principle, or strong and lasting affections. It is not only
the dictatorship of proletariat which the Bolsheviks are trying to
establish but a dictatorship of tyranny, and they use every conceivable
means, showing themselves especially rabid against the well-to-do
classes, against the intellectuals, against capitalism and militarism.

The application of all this "programme" carries with it, as a first
consequence, the complete dissolution of every state form, in the
political sense as well as in the economic sense. The disorganization is
complete; hunger, by which the masses see themselves threatened,
increases the spread of every form of criminality and violence. The
destruction of every sentiment of individual responsibility and the
abolition of religious faith contribute to take away from the class of
those who are better fitted to resist morally every obstacle and
restraint in the choice of their actions. It is the "universal
destruction," it is the madness of the _après nous le déluge_!

The position of the Jews, radically changed after the revolution of the
spring of 1917, which gave them equal rights with the rest of the
population of Russian origin and religion, has had its triumph in the
recent manifestations of Bolshevism. In fact, besides Trotzky, whose
real name is Braunstein, there is a high percentage of Jews among the
mob leaders and dictators of the "soviet" (councils) by which every city
is administered, forming in this way an infinite number of "small social
republics" in every part of the vast Russian territory.

The words of one of the most profound connoisseurs of the Russian soul,
Dostoievsky, words which, alas, are prophetic not only of the concrete
facts, but also of the general dangers which threaten his country,
portray the condition that has come to pass.

     "Our people, in the immense majority, adapt themselves cheerfully
     to the hardest discipline, and it is the easiest thing in the world
     to drag them toward the most noble deeds or toward the most ignoble
     crimes. I tremble to think of what these good people are capable of
     doing if they are left, even for a moment, without discipline.
     Alas, side by side with them there are always some evil spirits,
     full of envy, thirsty of power, with their soul filled with selfish
     passions and bad instincts; it is they who always exercise a
     mysterious and nefarious influence on the Russian mobs. I had a
     striking example of this when the whole population of a prison,
     about four thousand persons, was supinely submitting to the will of
     one of these demons who took advantage of them. Nobody dared to
     murmur. The Russian needs an idol; he feels the need of bending, of
     being guided, of obeying. Free the Russian people of a leading
     power which they willingly followed and they will immediately
     create for themselves another dominator more obnoxious and
     nefarious. Let God preserve us when the crowd of the weak ones will
     follow under the power of the wicked ones. What a horrible
     spectacle we shall witness then! What atrocities! What useless
     slaughter! We shall see the country and religion betrayed; we shall
     see Russia fall the prey to external enemies; we shall see material
     servitude, the loss of all our acquisitions, the oblivion of all
     the affections. Let God save me from seeing this turning-point in
     Russian history!"

God saved him, but this mercy was not extended to us. We shall have to
be witness of Russia groaning under the system of bloodless terror, but
it will not be for long. In theory the Bolsheviks desire the same thing
as the Socialists; in practice they want it plus revenge, that which has
been the motivating characteristic of the Jew since time immemorial.
Their power is founded in resources which I suspect are largely in
America, and their agents have been granted citizenship and protection
in practically every country of the world. So soon as the motives of
their supporters then shall be widely known, and so soon as their
monstrous practices shall be revealed to the whole world, this malignant
exuberance that has developed upon the healthy growth of Liberalism and
Socialism will be removed by a giant cautery wielded in a hand more
powerful than that of Hercules.

A decree recently issued by the Bolsheviks of Vladimir, published in
that official Soviet organ _Izvestija_, and now beginning to be widely
published by European papers, will be relished by many in the U. S. A.,
where unquestionably the Bolsheviks have largely been financed.

     "Every girl who has reached her eighteenth year is guaranteed by
     the local Commissary of Surveillance the full inviolability of her
     person.

     "Any offender against an eighteen-year-old girl by using insulting
     language or attempting to ravish her is subject to the full rigors
     of the Revolutionary Tribunal.

     "Any one who has ravished a girl who has not reached her eighteenth
     year is considered a state criminal, and is liable to a sentence of
     twenty years' hard labor unless he marries the injured one.

     "The injured, dishonored girl is given the right not to marry the
     ravisher if she does not so desire.

     "A girl having reached her eighteenth year is to be announced as
     the property of the state.

     "Any girl having reached her eighteenth year and not married is
     obliged, subject to the most severe penalty, to register at the
     Bureau of Free Love in the Commissariat of Surveillance.

     "Having registered at the Bureau of Free Love, she has the right to
     choose from among men between the ages of nineteen and fifty a
     cohabitant-husband.

     "Remarks: (1) The consent of the man in the said choice is
     unnecessary; (2) the man on whom such a choice falls has no right
     to make any protest whatsoever against the infringement.

     "The right to choose from a number of girls who have reached their
     eighteenth year is given also to men.

     "The opportunity to choose a husband or a wife is to be presented
     once a month.

     "The Bureau of Love is autonomous.

     "Men between the ages of nineteen and fifty have the right to
     choose from among the registered women, even without the consent of
     the latter, in the interests of the state.

     "Children who are the issue of these unions are to become the
     property of the state."

The "decree" states further that it has been based on the excellent
"example" of similar decrees already issued at Luga, Kolpin, and
elsewhere.

A similar "Project of Provisional Rights in Connection with the
Socialization of Women in the City of Hvolinsk and Vicinity" was
published in the _Local Gazette_ of the Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.

I am not sure that this lurid conduct of the Bolsheviks will do the
cause of social reconstruction harm. I recall the conduct of the
promoters of woman-suffrage in England in the few years preceding 1914.
Their campaign seemed to be founded in insanity, and yet something of
the kind was necessary to concentrate the world's attention on their
rights, and the Bolsheviks have got the world's attention and thought
to-day--and will have them to-morrow.

Socialism is adverse to imperialism and capitalism. Imperialism has been
conquered, but capitalism has not yet been throttled. One will be able
more safely to prophesy how much it has been weakened, potentially and
actually, after labor has had its next chance at the bat in Great
Britain. This war was not undertaken to overcome capitalism. It was
undertaken to overcome imperialism and the tyranny of foreign
domination, but its success has been dependent upon the people, who will
now assert their rights, and the most fundamental of their rights is
that they shall not be oppressed by money. It is not sufficient that the
principles of nationality defined by Mazzini shall be upheld--that is,
that the peoples of one nationality shall not be dominated by the
peoples of another. It is necessary, if such peoples are going to live
in freedom, that they must not be dominated or enslaved by any
mastodonic power which is protected from attack, such as capital. Had it
not been for the determination of the people to have the right to live
in freedom, the miracle that transpired in the closing months of 1918 in
Europe would not have been wrought. The factors that sustained the
peoples of the conquering nations in these long, dark months of tragedy
and of carnage, the thing that made them go on stubbornly and
steadfastly with the war when the odds seemed to be all against them,
may be summarized in one sentence: "Their determination to have their
inalienable right, the right to live in freedom." One may perhaps say
that in different countries of the world they have had such right, but
the person who says this would have great difficulty in naming the
country. Any one who contended that in republics such as ours capital
has not been privileged and arbitrary, that it has not been the dominant
factor in making and adopting the laws to which the people are beholden,
would be laughed at by any sane man.

And now that the people who have lived and died, toiled and wrought,
suffered and supplicated through fifty-two months of agony have won,
there will arise from those who have survived a dominant chorus which
will insist upon the fulfilment of the promises that were made them to
incite them to victory. Their hopes and desires and aspirations must be
satisfied. I am one of those who believe that they will make their
demands orderly and insistently, and not by means of revolution or
serious disturbance of order. They will work out their salvation by
mutual co-operation, not only amongst themselves but with those who are
the leaders of the world's thought, many of whom have been heretofore of
the privileged classes, but they will insist upon certain fundamental
things which I have previously enumerated, and the foremost of which is
the dispersion of great wealth, particularly hereditary wealth. The
revolutionary Socialist sees an easy solution of the matter in the
giving of the wealth to the masses and of recognizing no other source of
wealth except labor, but that is not the kind of Socialist who will have
to do with the reordering of the world that is now being born. It is the
Socialist who is to-day frequently called the individualist, who
believes that the dissipation of individual property and initiative will
spell a greater ruin for the masses than for the individual and who
believes in harmonizing the principles of individual liberty with those
of solidarity, who will be the Socialist of the New Era.

The future state will be arbitrary only in so far as it is the
expression of the collected, united force of its citizens. They will
really make its laws, not have them made for them by capital or
privileged interests; they will enforce them impartially, and it is
devoutly to be hoped the external force of such peoples will be
conventionized in such a way with other peoples that armies and navies
will practically cease to exist. The basis of such hope is in the League
of Nations, for then we shall have a world-state which shall make
international law or convention subject to law and enforcement. Once the
fear of invasion of a country is overcome and once the principles of
nationality can be established and put into operation, there will be no
reason for the existence of armies and navies.

The beneficences subsumed under the name liberty that must flow from the
sacrifices that we have made for the welfare of the people must assure
their health, contribute to their happiness, and promote their
efficiency. Disease must be prevented, not by personal effort as on the
part of physicians who do it for gain or fame, but by the state, which
shall devote adequate sums for research, investigation, propaganda, and
enforcement of the principles of sanitation. It shall likewise devote
adequate sums for the education of all the people and thrust such
education upon them in order that they may make use, not only for
themselves but for the state, of the talents with which they have been
endowed, so that liberty and personal initiative may be made running
mates, and no closely knit organization as the church shall be permitted
to stand in the way of such education. It shall permit them to worship
God as they, educated, see fit and proper, and it shall not attempt, or
tolerate the attempt of others, to thrust a religion founded in
authority upon them, non-conformation to which is followed by
punishment, often in condign form, such as social ostracism, refusal of
the ministration of paid priests, refusal of burial in consecrated
grounds, or threat of punishment. It shall not enforce upon them a
conduct at variance with the laws of nature in sex relations; therefore,
it shall solve the marriage and population questions, or at least make
an attempt to do so. It shall give the same freedom to woman as it does
to man and not have one written or unwritten law for the former and
another for the latter. It shall replace our present economic system by
a better one; in other words, money must be given a new valuation.

When everything has been said, the state is the thing. What constitutes
a state or a nation? We know what has constituted it in the past, but
when we read history we realize that it has never been stable, always
has been in transformation. Some have been more stable than
others--England more than Italy, France more than Austria, the United
States more than France. When a nation does not change it is dead like
Spain, strangled by the parasite, arbitrary authority, the church.

A new order of state-formation is about to be instituted--that of
nationalism. Comparatively few people appreciate what is meant by
nationalism. Until the wide-spread discussion of the aspirations of the
Czecho-Slovaks in America, I doubt whether any one, except students of
history and statesmen, gave any attention to it whatsoever. And yet,
despite this, no one has elaborated the fundamental facts of nationality
as clearly as has President Wilson. Nearly a third of all the peoples of
Europe have been obliged to submit to governments to which they were
antipathic by birth, sympathy, or tradition. In other words, Italians
living beyond a certain arbitrary geographic line have been obliged to
subscribe to the laws of Austria; French living beyond a certain
geographic line have been obliged to subscribe to the laws of Germany;
Slavs to those of Hungary. Patriotism, that indefinable quality made up
of primitive instincts, intellectual convictions, and religious feeling,
which is supposed to be the greatest of all the virtues, has been an
artifice for a third of all the peoples of the European continent. If
they were really patriotic, their hearts and minds were with their
mother countries, and therefore their conduct toward the ruler to which
they bowed the knee must have been that of the hypocrite. One of the
things on which all the Allied nations are agreed is that in the
remaking of the map of Europe every man shall be free to elect his
nationality and that no one shall be coerced to be a citizen of another
nation. He may elect to be a citizen of another nation, but that is his
concern.

It is more than probable that there will be very great difficulty in
rearranging the map of Europe satisfactorily in order that this
principle of nationality may be fulfilled, and nowhere will it be so
difficult as in Italy. The agreement of Italy with the Allies previous
to her entering the war, and which is known as the Pact of London, gave
her, in event of victory, large sections of the Dalmatian coast of which
she has great need in order to facilitate the development of her
commerce and to provide her with certain essentials which her territory
does not furnish. This Dalmatian coast and the territory contiguous to
it to the east--Istria, Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina--are not
populated by Italians to any considerable extent. As a matter of fact,
the vast majority of the people are Slavs, and it is this country which
many people believe and hope will eventually become Jugoslavia. There is
no doubt whatsoever that Italy will get all her unredeemed territory,
but whether or not she will get much more than that on the continent of
Europe is doubtful in the minds of many, including her well-wishers.

The question of nationality is not going to be an easy one for
Austria-Hungary to settle. In reality, German-Austria constitutes an
important hinge upon which all the problems that are connected with the
reconstruction of Central Europe swing. Aside from the Czecho-Slovak
nation, which is Bohemia and the territories that were lopped off from
it previous to the time when it was absorbed by Austria-Germany, the
smaller nations that have come to the surface and have been
differentiated in this waterspout that has disturbed the waters of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire will have to wait a long time for their rights
and differentiation, but the status of German Austria will have to be
settled very promptly. It has been said repeatedly in the newspapers
that these people have expressed a desire to unite themselves with a
German confederation, probably Bavaria. A great many people see in this
accession to Germany of ten or twelve millions of people a potential
menace in so far as this added number might make for a disturbance of
the equilibrium of power. But one cannot say whether or not this fear is
groundless until we see what form of government Prussia and Bavaria and
the other states of Germany are eventually going to have. If the
principles of nationality are not going to be invalidated by any future
settlements, the Germans of Austria would have only two choices--to
constitute an independent government of their own or to link themselves
with one of the Prussian states. As a matter of fact, it is most
unlikely that the Allies will attempt to give them any advice in this
matter, which means they will not attempt to direct or coerce them.

France may not have an easy time with Alsace-Lorraine. In the two
generations that have elapsed since Germany took them, it is not at all
unlikely that many of their people have become a part of the national
consciousness of that country. The just way would be to let the adults
of Alsace-Lorraine decide at the end of another forty-eight years,
during which time it is united to France, by universal vote of its
adults, men and women, whether they want to have French or German
nationality. I should think France would be taking no risks in such a
plebiscite.

England will have Ireland to deal with after the war even more than
before the war. There is only one way that she can do it successfully
and that is on the principles of nationality. The Irish are no more like
the English than the Czechs are like the Austrians; in fact, they are
less so. They are different emotionally, intellectually, morally, and
physically, and England will not much longer be allowed to coerce them.
Her one privilege in Ireland is to force universal education upon her
people. If this had been done before, England would have long ere this
brought about that instinctive liking and common purpose which is the
basis of all sound union, whether it be between individuals or between
components of a nation.

Italy's chief difficulty is going to be with the Jugoslavs, as the
southern Slavs are called, and already these difficulties have begun.
The southern Slavs have not, so far as I can learn, formulated a
definite programme, and they were never recognized as belligerent allies
by the Entente. Italy had a hesitating recognition of southern Slav
aspirations forced from her, but there is no trust or confidence reposed
in the Slavs by the Italians. The Croatians, the Bosnians, the
Montenegrins, the Albanians do not know what they want, save change, and
that they have wanted since time immemorial. They have no specific
programme and there is no definite interlacement of their desires with
Serbia. So far as their plans can be gleaned, realization of them, even
in the most fundamental one of establishing a plebiscitary area, would
find itself in violent conflict with Italy's pre-bellum agreement with
the Allies known as the Treaty of London.

All things come to him who waits. If while waiting things do not come to
us that make life forever after unlivable, we shall be fortunate, and
forever grateful.

     November, 1918.



CHAPTER XIV

BANQUETS AND PERSONALITIES


I marvel how men in public life stand banquets, especially Italians, who
take to them like babes to mothers' milk. I fancy they often long for a
succulent chop and a baked potato, with a tray for mahogany and a book
for company! But the _banchetto_ gives them an alluring arena for
oratory, and my deliberate conviction is that the Italian has more
pleasure in speaking than in any other voluntary act. Not only does he
like to talk, but he likes to be talked to. The Italian language lends
itself to sonorous oratory, and one can become more impassioned while
delivering himself of simple thought and plain sentiment in it than in
any other tongue. Rome has always been the city of pilgrims. Formerly
they came in pursuit of the salvation of their souls; now they come to
help make the world safe for liberty. Missions, delegations, committees,
distinguished personages with their trains come nearly every day from
all parts of the world, and to each is given a banquet, to some many
banquets.

A diverting one was a luncheon given to a delegation of the Japanese Red
Cross headed by Prince Tokugawa. There were many distinguished
personages present, including the Premier Orlando, the minister of war,
the minister of the navy, Duke Torlonia, the directors-general of public
health and of military health, and other exalted or celebrated
personages "too numerous to mention." It was a pleasant party. The Japs
interested me very much. They looked less Oriental, if that means
anything, than their fellows with whom I have come in contact. I fancy
this is due partly to the fact that they were in uniform not unlike that
of American officers, and also they seemed bigger, that is--of greater
stature--and more deliberate and suave than many that I had previously
met. I talked to the Prince and found him intelligent and communicative,
without sign or display of royal prerogative. Professor Seigami
Sawamura, who sat on my left at lunch, is a lawyer who seemed to have
about the same point of view on ordinary topics that a well-educated,
cultured man of his profession in America might have. The man on my
right was----, who spoke English perfectly, and whom I discovered, after
a small attempt to draw him out on the political situation, to be an
adherent of Sonnino, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and of his entourage.
He seemed to be as devoid of capacity for constructive thought as any
educated Italian of thirty-five or forty in political life that I have
ever met, or perhaps it was that he had a wonderful facility for
concealing it. His small talk, however, was quite perfect, and I can
imagine that he might have radiated considerable luminosity in a
properly selected salon.

The speeches of the visitors and of the Japanese Ambassador to Italy
were most diverting. I have never been so entertained and instructed by
oratory of which I didn't understand a word. After the speeches were
delivered they were put into excellent Italian by a young attaché of the
Italian embassy who must have spent many years away from his native
sunny Italy in order to get the mastery of the Oriental language that he
displayed. Banquet speeches are, as a rule, a series of platitudes in
ornate dress, interspersed with sentiment and expressions of
appreciation and praise phrased diplomatically. These speeches had those
qualities--all save that of the Japanese Ambassador. His remarks had
been carefully prepared and were read. Undoubtedly they had been
submitted to the Mikado or his advisers before they were put before us,
for they stated the position of his government relative to the war,
narrated their reason for participation in its activities, and made
statement of their determination to have the efforts of the Allies
crowned with success.

The Italian premier, Orlando, replied. He is a real orator. Even below
the stature of the average Italian of the South, the large, shapely, and
well-poised head, surmounted with thick, closely cropped gray hair
brushed pompadour, the sparkling eyes, ruddy face, and genial expression
give you at once the feeling that you are in the presence of a man of
power, of resourcefulness, and of facility. No one could mistake that he
is a man of the people. There is no trace of arrogance or of
self-exaltation, and when he speaks you feel that his words are
fountained from sincerity. His remarks gave evidence of research and
careful preparation. After having pointed out the pleasant relations
that had always existed between Italy and Japan and the present intimate
solidarity, he cited some historic instances which bind the nations in
amity. It was a forebear of the Prince Tokugawa, the Shogun Yasu
Tokugawa, who in 1613 permitted a Western ship to land in Japan, and who
facilitated the advent of the first Japanese ambassador to Rome. The
visitors were apparently very much pleased with his remarks, as he
intended they should be. There was nothing said that seemed to indicate
that there was any general adhesion to the belief that if the Allies won
the war England would become the vassal of America, or of the yellow
people of the extreme Orient, such as the _Frankfurter Zeitung_ has
recently said would probably be the case.

All of the visitors with whom I spoke were loud, and seemingly sincere,
in praise of the treatment they had had at the hands of the Americans
during their visit there, and I gathered that there exists at the
present time between America and Japan a more generalized sentiment of
trustfulness than existed before the war. At least, it may be said that
the Jap loses no opportunity to say "nice things" of our country.

A benefit that flows from such a gathering is the opportunity it gives
to see, in their hour of semi-relaxation and at short range, some of
those who are helping to make history in this country and whose names
one sees every day in the newspapers. The first impression that one gets
is that they are substantial, serious, intelligent, earnest, alert in
their appearance, manner, and conduct, sincere in their efforts, and
unalterable in their determination. I fancy that they compare favorably
with a similar group of any nationality. Though perhaps you are
disappointed in finding that none of them bears any particular outward
manifestations of genius, if there be such thing, yet you have no
misgivings that they are individuals capable of constructive thought and
mature deliberation, self-reliant, and confident.

The next day I went to a midday banquet tendered by Melville E. Stone,
the general manager of the Associated Press, by the newspaper men of
Rome. It was a very different gathering. Newspaper men have a make-up, a
physiognomy, a general appearance, more or less founded in what may be
called personal neglect, that is, an insensitiveness to personal
æsthetics, which is quite characteristic. One can't pick a newspaper man
from a crowd with the same readiness and accuracy that he picks a monk
or an actor, but the majority of journalists become hall-marked after
they have plied their vocation for any considerable length of time. I
was impressed with the appearance of intelligence and seriousness of the
men of the Italian press. Few of them bore the somatic signs of intimacy
with Mr. Barleycorn. The company had a fair sprinkling of ministers,
including Nitti and Gallenga, deputies, and ex-ministers, but as far as
I could see there were no dukes or princes. The latter are ornamental
and not infrequently pleasing to look upon, but a gathering of newspaper
men is redolent of democracy, which is antipathic to princely presence.
We lunched at the restaurant in the Borghese Gardens. It was a much
simpler affair than the banquet tendered the Japs at the Grand Hotel,
but it was an ample, edible lunch, and you had the feeling that we had
foregathered to honor one who was deserving.

When one attempts to describe Mr. Stone he is tempted at once to say he
is a typical American. But what is a typical American? There are so many
types. William Jennings Bryan is a typical American. So is Henry Cabot
Lodge. Benjamin Franklin was a typical American, yet he fraternized with
dukes and flirted with duchesses, the sheer embodiment of _suaviter in
modo_ and _fortiter in re_. While successfully putting America on the
map and advancing the humanities generally, he immortalized himself and
affectioned the French people. Abraham Lincoln, we like to think, was a
typical American, but were one to encounter him incog. in ceremonial
circles, political or social, in Europe to-day, ninety-nine Americans
out of a hundred would deny him. Uncle Sam is supposed to depict the
somatic make-up of the typical Yankee, and at the same time to convey
the idea that he is a man to be reckoned with emotionally and
intellectually at all times, in his moments of relaxation and in his
hours of activity. Nevertheless the average person has something fairly
specific in mind when he says, "He is a typical American." He means a
man who displays and who often can't conceal a determination to put
through that which he has planned; who is self-confident, opinionated, a
stranger to ceremony and oftentimes unfamiliar with ordinary social
amenities; who is fully appreciative of the accomplishments and
potentialities of his country and its institutions, and who doesn't
hesitate to contrast them with those of other countries, often to their
disparagement; who speaks only one language, American, and that not
always either grammatically or elegantly; who is often a stranger to
culture and the last person in the world to find it out; whose dress is
that of a farmer or a fashion-plate, and who has bizarre tastes for food
and drink--cocktails and ice-water bulk large in his necessities, and he
despises Continental breakfasts; who is attracted by the treasures of
art and moved by the beauties of nature, but the immediate result of the
emotion is to enhance the value of something similar in his own country,
yet when he treads his native heath he is often a disparager of it, its
possessions, and its institutions.

Melville E. Stone is not that sort of typical American. His record is
not unlike that of thousands of his countrymen. He is temperamentally
and emotionally an Irishman, and intellectually and physically an
American. The son of an itinerant Methodist preacher who forsook the
cloth for commerce during the Civil War, and was thus able to provide
for the maintenance and education of his children, he gives you the
impression of a man who has made his way in the world, and made his own
way. Although he is now past the age allotted to man by the Psalmist, he
has the appearance and conduct of a man easily ten years younger. I had
opportunity of observing him at short range for three or four days, for
he was our guest, and as all the other members of our household were
away I saw more of him than I otherwise might. He is a man of vast
information, which he is not averse to sharing with others, and, unlike
many who have such possessions, his information is accurate. This, in a
measure, is due to the fact that it is largely personal. As the general
manager and general motivator of the greatest news-collecting bureau in
the world, he is constantly coming in contact with men who are making
history, and his personality is so ingratiating that they allow him a
personal contact which in many instances apparently reaches intimacy.
Although he is a man who talks freely, my impression is that he is not
indiscreet. In addition to this, he has been a studious reader. It was
interesting to find that he is a bed reader, for my belief is that the
man who reads attentively in bed has an impression of what he reads made
upon the memory cells of his brain cortex which sleep then stamps with
permanency.

I gather Mr. Stone had very little schooling; that is, he did not go to
college. As a boy he went to school in the winter and worked in the
summer and during other vacations, and apparently the work that he did
most willingly was newspaper work. He became editor of the Chicago
_Daily News_ while still a very young man, and continued in that
important post for a quarter of a century. He acquired the art of going
easily and successfully to men in political life and other avenues of
constructive activity while in Chicago, Washington, and the capitals of
Europe. The thing that has made him a man of culture, however, is an
inherent desire for knowledge, which, he early realized, is the only
means that man can successfully employ to add to his stature. He is a
true Celt, emotional, sensitive, tenacious of his opinions, reliant in
his judgments, a hater of his enemies, and an admirer of his friends. If
I were asked to enumerate his most distinctive possession, after a short
intimacy with him I should say it was a quality which we speak of as
justice. When he brings a question up to the threshold of his
consciousness for solution, or a problem for decision, the first thing
that he considers is "Is it just?" After that its feasibility and
advisability are discussed.

The representative gathering of Italians which greeted him at lunch were
prejudiced in his favor. In addition to that, they were saturated with
the belief that America was the young Lochinvar who came out of the West
to deliver them from threatened bondage. I doubt very much whether any
one in America to-day realizes the feeling that Italians had for
America, and it is one of great interest. Until the advent of America
into the war Italians practically knew nothing of the United States of
America, save that it was a place to which large numbers of their
poorest and most ignorant inhabitants emigrated, and where they made
money which enabled them to return to their native land, or to maintain
their families or dependents during their exile. Of the history of
America, of the men who made that history and who are making it, of its
institutions, its traditions, its accomplishments, its potentialities
they knew practically nothing. Undoubtedly there are many who would not
accept this statement as true, but I am convinced that it is. Naturally
there are men of culture, men of studious habits, men with inclination
for historic reading who are exceptions to this blanket accusation. I
was very much amused last winter, when dining with an admiral of the
navy on duty at Spezia, by the inquiry whether I came from North America
or from South America. There are many Italians who claim to be educated
who make very little differentiation between the two continents, and I
have never yet met an Italian, unless he was a bookish man, who knew
anything about our literature. In my own profession I doubt that there
are a half-dozen men in America whose fame has reached Italy, and those
whose names are familiar are known because of some eponymic association.

I could cite many examples to show not only the indifference which
Italians have to the history and literature of our country but also the
absence of any desire to know about them. Then, their conceptions or
ideas of Americans are quite extraordinary. They got them from tourists
whom they saw overrunning their country en prince or en Cook, and made
up their minds that they were a type of uncivilized Croesus or of
unæsthetic barbarian. They saw the effete, the effeminate and decadent,
or the semi-invalided business man surrounded by a bevy of overdressed
females whose chief interest seemed to be their luggage and the sights;
and they saw the weary and wearisome gapers constituting the "personally
conducted." Then again, the Italian is no great traveller. He likes his
country, he is content with it, and, although he rails against his
government, he would feel that a large part of the pleasure of life was
taken from him if he were not permitted to discuss critically, and often
disparagingly, what are commonly called politics. I don't mean to say
that the Italian "fancies" himself, but neither the spirit of admiration
nor of emulation distinguishes him. He is like the Roman in miniature.
The Roman still thinks he is the last cry of God's handiwork in the
human line.

When America declared war on Germany, and particularly when she declared
war on Austria, Italians quickly got interested in America; and when
they learned that America came so generously to Italy's aid, first, in
supplying the money for the conduct of the war, and then in supplying
the material needs of her people, Italians manifested a tremendous
interest in us and in our country, and they began to look upon us as
their guide and their savior. I never heard a disparaging word of our
country or of him who was directing our ship of state until after the
Peace Conference. They looked upon Woodrow Wilson as a man inspired.
There were times during the war when they would have been very glad if
America had acquiesced more readily and more whole-heartedly in their
requests, such as in July, 1918, when they believed that it was
imperative to have large numbers of American troops in Italy. But at the
same time, when their wishes were not met and their requests not
granted, they did not sit in adverse judgment upon him who made the
decision. In fact, they believed he could not err.

It is natural that they should have been concerned about the situation
that existed in the early summer of 1918. There were two millions of
American troops in Europe, with more constantly coming, and there were
only a very small number in Italy. The Italians saw themselves pitted
more or less alone against a country, Austria-Hungary, which had an army
nearly twice as large as theirs and which was more rapacious than a
hungry wolf goaded into renewed ferocity by recent defeat. They
sincerely believed that if they had received help at that time they
could have overcome their hereditary and acquired enemy promptly, and it
is likely that they could. That might have been a reason for sending
American troops to Italy, but it was not an adequate reason. The one
task in hand was to win the war, to win it expeditiously and to win it
in such a manner that would put Germany, as she was constituted and as
she had been constituted for the past twenty-five years, out of
existence; that is, to exterminate the war lords, to destroy them and
their influence. The man or men who were permitted to look at the
question from all angles were far better able to plan how this should be
done than the councillors of one nation who naturally saw the question
only from one side, that is, their own point of view.

It is likely also that the Italians constantly reminded themselves that
if they had received help from the Allies early in 1916 the war might
have been ended. I have heard many an Italian say that they were in a
position then to overcome the Austrian army had they received such help
and that with the simultaneous activity of the Russians on the eastern
front they would have carried the Allied arms into Vienna. But you do
not grind your grist more satisfactorily by regretting that the waters
that have gone over the mill were not used more efficaciously.

I have wandered far afield from the testimonial lunch to Mr. Stone, but
my reflections are apropos of the remarks which the Honorable Nitti, a
wizard with figures and a magician with men, made. Many of his
countrymen profess to distrust him and to say that Giolitti made him and
still controls him. Nothing could be more absurd. Nitti is the type of
man who is made by his endowment and by his environment. It would be
easier to think of any other public man in Italy as the tool of a
dictator, dethroned or enthroned, than it would be of Nitti. The son of
poor parents who sacrificed everything for his education, he has been
journalist, author, teacher, economist, professor, advocate, and
statesman. When he first went in the House he sat on the extreme left,
and gradually he moved up toward the centre, although he is always
inscribed in the radical party. He is unquestionably of formidable brain
and combines a will of iron with an audacity that has the appearance at
least of transcending all temerity.

In appearance he is the typical middle-class South Italian, short,
rotund, with thick neck and massive face adorned with a smile that
rarely comes off. He is a polished orator and his political papers read
like literary documents. He is reputed to be a master of political
stage-setting. Realizing that the most potent factor in shaping men's
judgment is the press, and realizing that the man who has his fingers on
the keyboard of the organ that makes the music was the honored guest of
the occasion, he embraced the opportunity to put before Mr. Stone and
his colleagues his convictions of the needs of Italy and his hopes that
they might be gratified. I am sure that he did not say publicly anything
that Mr. Stone had not already heard in private audience, for the doors
leading to the council chambers of the men of influence in this country
swing open welcomingly to Mr. Stone, but to say them in his presence to
the representative press of Italy convinced us that his hopes and
aspirations in this matter were the expression of the government, and he
was willing and wished to communicate them to the public.

The other speakers were entertaining but scarcely instructive. One
doesn't expect inspired sentiment or statement at testimonial banquets,
but I felt that the speakers missed an opportunity to herald the
democratization of the world through education and enlightenment via the
press. Many nice things were said about Mr. Stone, but I confess frankly
that I was disappointed that no one took it upon himself to interpret
his accomplishments or to dwell upon and elaborate his activities and
accomplishments symbolically. If they would stop telling us Germany's
motives in precipitating the Great War and give us instead a credo for
the present and the future, it would be a relief. I am firmly convinced
that Germany thrust the war upon the world because she couldn't inhibit
her latent and active cruelty which possesses and has possessed her for
generations, as lust possesses the satyric man who, when he becomes
intoxicated or unbalanced, throws prudence, precedent, precept, and
principles to the wind and gives himself and his possessions to the
orgy. The Central Powers will have to pay the full penalty for their
crimes, even though they deny their guilt, just as the wilful murderer
is electrocuted, even though he goes to the chair protesting his
innocence.

The guest's speech was felicitous. He dwelt briefly on Italy's
justification for entering the war when she did; he justly evaluated her
work and he paid a deserving tribute to her resourcefulness in having
extricated herself from the horns of the bull after the Caporetto
disaster. He brought Columbus, Mazzini, and Garibaldi, our debt to them
and their inspiration for us, into his remarks in such a way as to
convince his auditors that they constitute for us a revered Italian
trinity, and he adequately depicted the tenderness and affection that
his countrymen have for Italy.

It takes a big man, using that word in one of its conventional senses,
to conduct a successful publicity campaign. In the first place, he has
to understand the people with whom he works, and the first successful
step in understanding them is to want to understand them. If he has
preconceived ideas not founded in reliable information or experience, if
he is biassed and hypercritical, if he doesn't know how to elicit
testimony and evaluate evidence, if he hasn't habituated himself to look
at events, heralded or transpired, from different points of view, if he
isn't animated by the spirit of service--that is, to do his work for the
good of the cause--he is doomed to failure, or at least he can be only
partially successful. Then again, he must be a man who worthily
represents his government and his people. He should know his way about.
He should be familiar with ordinary social amenities, so that he may go
easily amongst his superiors and excite their approbation, and he must
have the capacity to bear true witness while constantly keeping the
burnished side of his shield before the people he is aiming to succor
and orient. There are few ways in which one can be of more service to
his country than by making proper propaganda in an allied country. The
narrow-minded, biassed, obsessed man has the worst possible equipment
for such position.

Propaganda is the priceless privilege of the press.



CHAPTER XV

SENTIMENTALITY AND THE MALE


It is a long time now that the belief has been generally accepted that
God made man, and, contemplating his work, realized that it was a
failure for the purpose for which man was created. He then made woman.
The way in which this was accomplished is full of interest to the
artificer, but it does not concern me, whose lifelong study has been of
the finished species; nor does the object of the creation of man,
alluring as it is, tempt me to digress from the subject of his
sentimental endowment. Soon after his organism was endowed with sentient
possession, man was made aware that he had imperious desires which not
only demanded satisfaction but which insisted upon being satisfied. It
pleased the Christian church to enshroud the most vital of these
God-given desires in the mantle of sin, save when its appeasement was
done in conformity with the restrictions laid upon it by the church. It
may quite well be that such restrictions were founded in wisdom. For a
long time England maintained that it was right to restrict the franchise
to owners of property of a certain value, and for many centuries the
world accepted slavery without a thought that it was wrong. Ruskin spoke
truly when he said: "The basest thought about man is that he has no
spiritual nature, and the foolishest that he has no animal nature."

The facts around which these remarks are spun are first: God reproduced
his image, and, finding that the image was incomplete and useless for
the purposes for which he was created, he made him whole, as it were, by
creating the female; and second: that he endowed man and woman with
mental and emotional qualities which were to aid them in living their
lives happily for themselves, usefully for others, and acceptably to
him. The moment this endowment was made known to them the fat was in the
fire. "She tempted me and I fell" has been the subject of picture and
poem, story and sermon, excuse or extenuation, since time immemorial.
Learned tomes and ponderous volumes have set forth specifically the
difference of the sexes, more or less uselessly too, for no one needs to
be convinced that there are anatomical and physiological differences.
The obvious is never interesting; the pleasurable quest is pursuit of
the elusive, the intangible. There are differences between the sexes
that defy specific designation, for I do not admit that specificity is
given to these distinctions by saying that men differ from women
emotionally, morally, spiritually, ethically, or that they react
differently to the same stimulus under the same circumstances, or that
there are soul differences of kind and degree. We do not have to decide
whether these distinctions are inherent or acquired. We have only to
admit that they exist. The plain fact is that tradition and experience
teach us that both the male and the female of the _genus homo_ have
certain spiritual endowments, both on the emotional and the intellectual
side, which have come to be looked upon as characteristic. Courage,
valor, secrecy are universally considered to be characteristics of the
male. On the other hand, patience, sentiment, vanity, and fickleness
have become traditionally linked up with the opposite sex. Women are
often braver than men, more continent, less vain, but to admit this does
not diminish the acceptability of the general proposition. No one is
likely to contend that either sex has a monopoly of any of these
qualities, but I fancy it will readily be admitted that sentimentality,
in its most flagrant display, is a more characteristic ancilla of woman
than of man. Bulwer Lytton was a shrewd observer when he wrote: "There
is sentiment in all women and sentiment gives delicacy to thought and
tact to manner." But sentiment with men is generally acquired, an
offspring of the intellectual quality, not as with the other sex, of the
moral. A man considers it a term of reproach to be called sentimental;
on the other hand, such designation in no way detracts from a woman's
estimate of herself, nor does it derogate her in the esteem of others so
long as she confines it within certain limits and so long as it does not
condition her conduct. Many a man on reviewing his past recognizes that
his ship of celibacy foundered upon the sandy shoals called
"tender-minded." The tender-minded girl is one with a mind somewhat
underdeveloped, saturated in sentimentality usually associated with a
streak of obstinacy which is beyond parental influence.

With nubility there comes to every girl a wealth of emotional endowment
which is often most bewildering--indeed, it upsets some unstable
organizations, while to others it is merely an intoxication. It disturbs
their equilibrium, it tends to break down their inhibitions and to befog
the perspectives that have been so carefully developed for them, and it
not infrequently roils the water of life in which they have been
floating and swimming without effort to such a degree that they
constitute a problem for parent and teacher. The average girl gradually
throws off these disequilibrilizing effects; and the moonlight walks in
the garden, or the romantic plans to spend an idyllic life in a tiny
cottage covered by a rambler rose-bush far from the madding crowd,
companioned by an Adonis and the poetry of Tennyson, her extravagant
protestations of love for another girl, her exuberant interest in some
mystic or fantastic cult, and other concomitants of this period, are
given proper valuation.

She emerges into womanhood with a "head" for the intoxicating libation
that wells up in her tissues, and is poured through her soul as sap
wells up in a tree, even to the smallest branches preparatory to its
bloom and fructification. The knowledge is borne in upon her that she
can manage the new possession conformably to the canons of church,
state, and society, and that the total of what has come to her at this
period may be split up into qualities or possessions to which are given
specific names, such as sentiment. Soon she realizes that these
qualities become important assets in her display of the _ars amoris_ and
they prepare the road that leads pleasantly and propitiously to the goal
which shall be the fulfilment of her physiological destiny, namely,
maternity via matrimony. When that gratifying stage has been reached and
fulfilled she understands that sentimentality, modestly displayed,
contributes largely to her success, not only in her family but in the
world.

How different with the opposite sex! He likewise feels the obscuring
mists of sex potency and of sentimentality settling over him as puberty
approaches. He is also bewildered, but it is early made clear to him by
his fellows who have gone through the experience that the slightest
manifestation of it will be the signal for loosing on him the floodgates
of their contempt and for opening for him the sluiceways of their scorn.
To be called a mollycoddle is worse than being called a sneak, a cad, or
a liar, and he is made to appreciate that if he merits such designation
his companions will give him the kind of reception the wedding guests
gave the ancient mariner. It is borne in upon him that display of
sentiment in any form whatsoever is not "manly"; so he not only
suppresses sentimentality, but in order to conceal it he goes much
farther and no longer treats his sisters with the same kindness and
consideration as before; he withdraws his intimacies and his confidences
from his mother, professes a contempt for the society of girls, and
embraces every opportunity to display a furious antagonism toward
sentimentality.

This period is oftentimes a trying one for the parent, and, as every one
knows, it is fraught with danger to the individual, particularly if he
is a weak character, because it is during these times that sinister
associations and injurious habits are formed which are prejudicial to
physical development and mental evolution. This is the period of life
which has furnished the fertile soil in which the modern English
novelist successfully sows his seed.

The average boy emerges from this period with a vision so adjusted to
his immediate environment and the world that he senses things as they
really are. He begins to get some idea of the purposes and value of
life, its obligations and its privileges, and as the result of intuition
or tuition, that happiness and usefulness, the chief aims and objects of
life, stand in direct and measurable relationship to the possession and
display of certain qualities which are commonly spoken of as virtues. As
his mind unfolds and he is able to give relativity to these qualities,
he becomes aware that sentiment in a man is not a deforming but a
meritorious possession, which, when used properly, is a great asset, but
that it is one of the qualities of his make-up that should not be
displayed to the vulgar gaze, and is a possession which he should rarely
use save to blend with other qualities to give them savor. He
appreciates that sentiment gives momentum to his designs and tone to his
accomplishments, while furnishing appropriate and fitting setting for
their display, and with discernment he is able to distinguish clearly
between sentiment and sentimentality and knows that the word sentiment
is used synonymously with feeling or conviction. Sentiment is a
composite of many of the virtues and is a subjective possession which,
when revealed in words, action, or conduct may become sentimentality,
providing the origin of these words, acts, and deeds is founded in
sentiment.

The possession of sentiment, that is, of feeling, is a most desirable
one so long as it does not warp the judgment, interfere with the
mission, or prevent a man from doing his duty. The man or woman who is
devoid of feeling is a species of monster, but the man or woman whose
plan of life is based upon sentiment and whose conduct conforms to
sentiment is mentally and morally unhealthy. As Lowell says: "Every man
feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh
less than a single lovely action." Decisions, plans of action, conduct
conditioned by or founded in sentiment can be followed safely only if
they are submitted to the acid test of reason before acceptation or
subscription. Sentiment as a possession may be compared to a ferocious
dog. He may be invaluable as a watch-dog, which adequately chained gives
you a feeling of security, and at appropriate times can be unleashed to
signal advantage, and accomplishes under guidance that which merits full
approval; but let loose at all times he is an intolerable nuisance and
may get you into one trouble after another.

The sentimentalist is a person who, in decisions, judgments, plans of
action, and conduct of them, point of view in dealing with persons
individually and collectively, has his conduct so colored by sentiment
that his plan of action and ability and methods of its execution seem
illogical and incapable of being subjected to the test of reason.
Carlyle put it tersely when he said: "The barrenest of mortals is the
sentimentalist."

The agonal struggle of the Great War was not necessary to convince us
that very little is to be accomplished in the world single-handed. The
individual can give birth to the idea, the plan, or possess the
initiative which may revolutionize some phase of the activities of the
world, but to carry out the idea he must have the co-operation of many.
It is in securing such co-operation that he has a great opportunity to
make a proper use of sentiment. There is nothing that an organizer or an
administrator finds out earlier or surer than that loyalty is the cement
that keeps his organization together, and the more it sets the more firm
and invulnerable becomes his organization.

How to engender such loyalty is a problem that each person confronted
with it must solve for himself. Some do it by meriting the respect and
admiration of their coworkers and subordinates by display of such
qualities as kindliness, justice, generosity, consideration of the
welfare of their fellows, while others encompass it by the whole-hearted
and unselfish way in which they give themselves to the work. Some do it
quite impersonally and may possibly not be on terms of intimacy with any
member of their organization. This does not necessarily mean that they
hold themselves aloof from those with whom they come in contact; on the
contrary, there may exist a genial comradeship from which mutual
respect, admiration, and possibly even affection are developed. Some few
develop loyalty from personal contact on the basis of sentimentality.
They proceed upon the plan that if they cannot secure the personal
admiration and affection of those associated with them, impelling them
to do their best because of this relationship rather than for the good
of the cause, they have not been completely successful in their
accomplishment. To this end they not infrequently resort to a display of
sentimentality which is distressing to the impartial onlooker. That
great dissector of the morals and motives of men, Thackeray, said: "One
tires of a sentimentalist who is always pumping the tears from his eyes
or your own." They lavish praise upon those who have not merited it,
substituting adulation for admonition; they profess a confidence that is
not justified by results; they claim to see only virtues in every
individual who is drawn into the sacred circle of their employment or
association. Should they have suspicions that some in their circle are
not deserving of confidence or do not have the qualities from which
loyal, useful associates can be made, they delude themselves with the
belief that they can engender a sufficient desire in the inadequate one
to compel him to be loyal and efficient in order that the confidence and
admiration of the chief may be requited.

People who work together should respect each other, and by it employer
and employee should be linked together. If a more intimate relation
flows naturally from this respect, well and good, but there should not
be the slightest attempt made to engender it on a sentimental basis. The
rugged mind of Carlyle eschewed the sentimental. He stated: "The
sentimental by and by will have to give place to the practical."

Most men if they strive sufficiently to make others like them can
succeed in their endeavor, but a man should be liked for the inherent
virtues or laudable qualities that he possesses and not for the
semblance of them which he assumes for a special purpose. We like a man
because he is trustworthy, loyal, efficient, reliable, truthful,
co-operative, sympathetic, understanding, but we do not necessarily like
him because some one else tells us that we ought to like him,
particularly if we have found that he does not possess any of the
qualities we desire and which would have made him acceptable. The
sentimentalist is often guided in his decisions and in his conduct
relative to others by the fear that, if he apprises the individual of
the reason why he no longer wishes to keep up business or professional
relations with him, the individual thus treated will devote some time
afterward to tarnishing the lustre of his halo.

The sentimentalist fears especially the criticism, disparagement, and
possibly one might say the malignity of those from whom he chooses to
separate after they have been weighed and found wanting. It is not that
he fears that injury will be done him, because not infrequently his
career is so successful that it can withstand an enormous amount of
disparagement and criticism without detrimental impression. The
disparagement of such individuals can do him no harm save in the
humiliation to his pride when it is brought home to him that he has not
been able to make the leopard change his spots. Self-interest is the
subconscious motive that often leads to a display of sentimentality. The
sentimentalist realizes that allegations of merit and of capacity are
"things that are graceful in a friend's mouth but blushing in a man's
own," and as such praise is the breath of his nostrils he will go to
great lengths to achieve its accomplishment. But, though he may be
deceived by flattery, there are others who know that "on ne trouve
jamais l'expression d'un sentiment qui l'on n'a pas; l'esprit grimace et
le style aussi." He is the easy prey for those who appeal to his vanity
or to his susceptibility to flattery, to advance their own or others'
projects and interests, and he may be led into doing things which his
sober judgment tells him are not desirable, because he feels that he
must not run the risk of lowering himself in the estimate of the
individual from whom he has accepted adulation, reverence, or adoration.

When the male sentimentalist habituates himself to this worshipful
attitude from the other sex he becomes covered with points which
Achilles had only immediately above the heel. The sex which has long
been popularly known as the weaker has an inherited or acquired code of
morality which permits them to make demands of the sentimental man which
a mere man, unless base, would scorn, and now that the sex has been
emancipated we begin to feel that they should come out in the open and
play fair. If they want to rely for their successes upon the weapons
that have been vouchsafed them heretofore, they should not have the
privileges which they are asking for and receiving to-day. Heaven knows
no one is more desirous that they should have what they ask for in that
direction than I am, but they should not use their sex quality to take
an unfair advantage. Thus oftentimes one who merits the designation of
"pillar of strength and tower of fire" becomes a reed in the emotional
wind that blows from the designing woman. She may not be designing in a
malignant sense; she may merely enjoy the display of power. It is
remarkable what a sentimentalist will put up with in the shape of
indignity and inefficiency rather than run the risk of being impaired in
the esteem of one who has this kind of influence over him. Emerson, one
of our deepest thinkers, said: "Man is the will and woman is the
sentiment. In this ship of humanity will is the rudder and sentiment the
sail; when woman affects to steer, the rudder is only the masked sail."

There is nothing more Jove-like than virility and continency, but a man
saturated with sentimentality produces a sensation akin to that which
the child experiences when she finds her doll is stuffed with sawdust.

Sentiment in a man is like scent in a rose. It is the finishing touch to
perfection; when it is deficient it thrills one no more than the painted
flower; when it is excessive the heaviness of its enervating odor is
oppressive.



CHAPTER XVI

THE PLAY INSTINCT IN CHILDREN


Italy's greatest recent patriot is Cesare Battisti, who suffered
martyrdom for love of his native land. He was an Austrian subject,
professor of biology and geography in the University of Trent and a
deputy in the Austrian House of Parliament. In the beginning of the war
he returned to Italy to fight against the country of his adoption and to
favor the fortunes of his native land, and his efforts were crowned with
great success. He entered the Italian Army as a lieutenant of the
Alpini, and in 1916 fell into the hands of the Austrians, who quickly
and cruelly despatched him by the most barbarous methods that they could
conceive. Streets and piazzas have been named for him, hospitals and
monuments have been raised in his honor, and his name is known to every
man, woman, and child in the kingdom.

But it is not of Battisti that I would write, but to record a train of
thought that was initiated by the sight of the orphans who were
occupying the building which Italy's most distinguished physician,
Ettore Marchiafava, aided by generous friends of the sick poor, has
taken over for a tuberculosis hospital, and which will be called after
Cesare Battisti. There were about two hundred girls, ranging in age from
six to fourteen, in the charge of an order of nuns. The building is
situated on a hill in the outskirts of Rome known as Monte Verde, which
is the southern continuation of the Janiculum. In former days it was a
palatial villa belonging to some dignitary of the church and latterly
church property. It commands a magnificent view of Rome, of the Tiber,
of the Campagna, the Castelli Romani, and the Alban Hills. When I
arrived the children were in the grounds about the house and more or
less segregated in a broad walk or alley lined by trees which led from
the street to the villa. They were walking up and down in twos or threes
or singly, apparently without other objective or display of desire than
to walk. They looked like children of many nationalities, healthy and
clean; but, more than that, they looked happy, contented, satisfied. As
I passed amongst them, nearly every one greeted me with a smile and
"_Buon giorno_." There was no show of embarrassment, shyness,
bashfulness, or artificiality.

I looked over the grounds of the place, several acres, and saw not the
slightest sign of games, swings, playgrounds, sand-piles, or other
feature with which children divert themselves or are diverted in other
lands. I went through the house from cellar to garret, and rarely have I
seen an inhabited building with fewer signs of habitation. The
dormitories contained long rows of beds with no sign of tables, chairs,
stands, comfort-bags--nothing save the beds. The refectory was equally
barren. The schoolroom was desolation itself--benches, long desks, and a
solitary blackboard. The only indication that anything was taught save
that which could be imparted by word of mouth was a typewriting machine.
Examine as carefully as I might, I wasn't able to detect the smallest
object for the diversion, entertainment, distraction, occupation of the
little ones that the place was utilized to harbor, to nurture, to
develop, and to instruct. When I returned to _terra firma_, there they
were, walking up and down the alley as they were when I went in. A
gentle-eyed sister was among the groups of the smaller ones, but they
seemed not to need care. They were self-sufficient.

For the first time I felt the sensation of oppression in the presence of
a crowd of joyous children. I felt they were in a prison-house narrower
and more restricting than that which closes in upon the budding man, and
I went away without thought of Cesare Battisti, but big with solicitude
for these lusty young beings whose best and most potential quality, the
play instinct, was being stultified, or at least not cultivated.

I marvelled that the country which made the most constructive
contribution to child pedagogy of the nineteenth century fails to see or
to realize that the most potent, directly God-sent possession of a child
is its imagery or fancy, which externalizes itself in every child in the
desire to play--to play parent, construction, warfare, games, or ape the
activities of their elders. The explanation cannot be that Italy is
ignorant of the cultivation of the child's instinct for play in other
countries or of the immense provision that is made to enhance it both in
public and in private life. I can readily understand that there might be
wilful opposition to it in church institutions, as its elaborate display
is considered inimical to that humility which is the essence of the
Christian religion. Punish the flesh, have a contempt and a disdain for
any of its clamorings, treat it as if it were a vessel unworthy of its
sacred cargo the soul, scourge it and humiliate it, and you will find
favor in His sight. It is extraordinary and inexplicable that man should
feel himself free to suggest to himself and to others that a
suppression, even abnegation, of God-given instincts which are as much
an integral part of the _genus homo_ as his speech capacity, is
necessary in order that the individual should find favor in God's eyes
and be worthy of reward when he is called to join Him. It seems so much
more consistent with reason that the species were provided with
instincts that they might be utilized, and therefore that the duty of
the teacher and the guide is to foster these instincts, to develop them,
and to direct them toward the channels where they may be utilized to the
advantage of the individual, the community, and the state. If it were
only the church that displayed an opposition to the development of the
play instinct in children I should not concern myself particularly with
it, as I am not inclined to take issue with the church, either in its
propaganda or in its teachings. I consider that it takes an unfair
advantage of infants and children, but I solace my indignation with the
thought that when the child comes to man's estate mentally he is free to
liberate himself from its enthralments and inhibitions. It may be said
that it has shaped his mental processes, activities, and inclinations to
such purpose that he does not see straight, and that accusation is true,
providing they have sterilized his mind to such a degree that he is no
longer capable of constructive thought. There is no doubt that they
often bring about such mental eunuchoidismus, but it is probable that
the great majority of those thus sterilized would have been dead-wood in
the stream of evolutionary progress had they been left intact. But
insensitiveness to the child's needs is not confined to parochial
schools and other church institutions where children are harbored and
taught. In Italy it is displayed in nearly every public and private
institution where the young are segregated for purposes of instruction
and maintenance.

I would not be understood to say that there are not playgrounds of any
kind connected with Italian schools, but the few that exist are scarcely
worthy of the name. The plain truth of the matter is that the play
instinct has been thwarted so long in the Italian that it doesn't seem
to exist any more. One of the things that strikes the stranger who
penetrates far enough into family life to permit him the opportunity of
observation is that the parent doesn't play with his children as does
the Anglo-Saxon, and children do not play with each other. I cannot
conceive that the child, left to itself, does not

    "Hold unconscious intercourse with beauty
    Old as creation,"

and give evidence of it and of the activity of its developing mind which
reveals itself constructively in that which we call play. But the
observation and experience of children in Italy lead me to believe that
when they grow up and recall

    "Those recollected hours that have the charm
    Of visionary things, those lovely forms
    And sweet sensations that throw back their life,
    And almost make remotest infancy
    A visible scene, on which the sun is shining,"

they do not expose a treasure-house in which are stored the
recollections of the most envied times of their lives.

The little _villino_ that I occupy is cared for by a couple whose only
child is a little girl of eight. From my window I survey her activities
and I have never yet seen her in play,

    "Seen no little plan of chart or fragment
    From her beam of human life
    Shaped by herself with newly learned art."

When I look out in the morning she is likely to be sitting outside the
gate as if awaiting something to transpire that would be worthy of
observation, attention, or participation. When I return in the middle of
the day and again in the evening and when Sundays or other times I am in
my rooms for a protracted period, I see her ever busily engaged in doing
nothing. The only imaginative or emotional activity that I have ever
witnessed her display is that sometimes I find her humming and she
always smiles and greets me most affably. At times I see other children
make a visit to her, but it is obviously a ceremonious one, for there
are no shrieks or yells, no tumbling or rolling, no scampering or
chattering, none of that display of physical vitality and joy of living
that lambs or colts or calves or even puppies or kittens make. They are
like a miniature group of Giacondas, older than the rocks upon which
they sit, who have tasted all the joys to satiety. The doll that I gave
her has apparently been put away, not at all unlikely with a scapular or
holy beads. At least, I have never seen her with it in her arms since
the day she received it. There is no sign of miniature wheelbarrow or
shovel or sandpile, no little wooden geegee, no bicycle or miniature
locomotive, no blocks or other material from which to construct a castle
or a kitchen, no indication whatsoever that she attempts to portray any
of the vagrant thoughts or fleeting fancies that arise in her budding
mind. When I go on a Sunday to the little villages in the Campagna or in
the Castelli Romani to which the proletariat repair with their families
in _villeggiatura_, I see hundreds of children, but never once have I
seen any of them playing, nor are they noisy and boisterous. If they are
clamorous and restless, it is for food or for appeasement of some other
physical need. Even the little boys do not play in the streets. Their
one source of amusement is for a number of them to gather around a pile
of small stones used for repair of the road and to divert themselves by
hurling them at one another when a carriage or an automobile is not
passing, at which time they concentrate their efforts on attempts to
slay the occupants of these vehicles with the deadly missiles at hand.

On the Janiculum where I live there is a paradise for children, a little
park with the roaring, splashing fountain of St. Paolo at one end of it
and the entrance to the broad, shaded driveway that traverses the
Janiculum to St. Onofrio at the other. On either side of this drive are
broad lawns interspersed with flowerbeds and shaded with most seductive
trees, amongst which is Tasso's oak, now fallen into such a state of
decrepitude that it has to have artificial support and braces. The place
is often alive with children, painfully decorous and silent. They often
remind me of Millet's "Man with the Hoe," bowed down with the weight of
ages. Not infrequently I meet in the morning and in the evening whole
troops of children going and returning from the accessible fields of
Monte Verde, always lined up like soldiers, two abreast, and the only
manifestation of externalized emotion I have ever seen in them is that
occasionally their keepers--priest, nun, or sour-visaged
guardian--permit them to break into song--patriotic anthem or lyric
wail.

It is notorious that games play no such part in the diversion of the
adult Italian as they do in the countries peopled by our own race. Golf,
tennis, football, cricket, baseball are practically unknown except as
they have been established by foreigners for their own use. Naturally
they have attracted some Italians, but there is no general interest in
them. Contests of endurance, such as bicycle races and rowing, they
have, and horse-racing has a certain vogue, but chiefly because it
facilitates taking chances on the winner. This is the more remarkable,
for when they do go in for games they often excel, showing aptitude,
endurance, and daring. There is no nationality that compares with them
in their riding, for instance. It is not true to say that they do not
play games. The Spanish game of ball known as _pelota_ is played in some
centres where the _jeunesse dorée_ segregate, and another game of ball
called _pallone_ is played a little, but with no enthusiasm, and it
arouses no considerable interest. In fact, nothing included under the
head of sport plays a great rôle in Italy. Fortunately it is being
encouraged, and within a generation we may confidently anticipate a
decided change. It would, of course, be ridiculous to say that they do
not shoot and fish. You often encounter in tramping through the country
a man with a gun on his shoulder, but usually he is a pot-hunter, and
now and then your rambles bring you face to face with a Nimrod, but in
nine cases out of ten he likewise is animated by the desire for
succulent food.

On superficial examination it seems extraordinary that this state of
affairs should exist in a country which for many centuries seemed to
have had its chief enjoyment in murder, sense-gratification, games, and
contests of courage, strength, and endurance. No one can read the
history of the days of Roman supremacy without being struck with the
fact that the chief amusement of the populace of those days was play,
display of strength, skill, dexterity, and inventiveness. Archæologists
and others interested in unearthing and interpreting archaic remains
tell us that the aphorism that there is nothing new under the sun is
true so far as games are concerned, and I expect any day to hear that
they have disinterred a golf course at Ostia, a diamond or a football
field at Salerno. However, after reflection, it occurs to me that there
are many reasons why the Italians, young and old, do not play
spontaneously and intentionally, or as naturally and pleasurably as
those of other nations. It is easy enough to understand why all play
ceased in those days of intellectual apathy, artistic sterility, and
emotional decay which, beginning with the fourth century A.D., continued
for nearly a thousand years. I have never looked into the matter with
sufficient care to be able to say whether or not there was a renaissance
of the play instinct or any elaborate and wide-spread manifestation of
it beginning with the fourteenth century, but my impression is that
there was. We have records of tournaments and jousts and games of
various kinds in certain cities of Italy, such as Salerno; there still
exist the physical features or foundations of such play. Any one who has
read Italian history until the successful movement of nationality of
1870 will not be astonished that play in any form did not have a great
vogue during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The people were
too busy devising plans to outwit their neighbors and to get possession
of their lands and their treasures to have time for play.

The Italian nature or temperament is not favorable to development of the
play instinct. The Italian likes to act, or to display histrionic
possession, more than anything else; it has often been remarked that
they are born actors, and not only do they produce more great actors and
actresses than any other country but you see more finished and artistic
acting in Italy than in any other country of the world. They are devoted
to mimicry, adepts in pantomime, and their "marionettes" have reached a
high degree of artistic development. As for the cinema, they go to it
with the ardor of a lover to his mistress. The theatre and gambling is
the Italian idea of diversion, relaxation, and amusement.

The display and satisfaction of the play instinct spell work, oftentimes
most laborious work carefully planned and elaborately carried out. The
successful pursuit of games of all sorts requires not only work but
oftentimes protracted physical training and profound physical effort.
The Italians do not take kindly to them. In the south of Italy there are
six months of the year and often more when no one is keenly disposed to
active physical effort and at no time in the year is there that
atmospheric incitation to physical activity that exists in England or in
our own country. It may well be that children of the South do not take
kindly to play because of the great and protracted heat, during which
they are taught to remain within doors several hours in the middle of
the day, and children of the lower classes are often obliged to work
during the cool hours.

Italian children mature very early, and the emotional disequilibrium
that comes with the supremacy of a new internal secretion makes them
self-conscious, bashful, retiring, and inimical to play. I am not
inclined to lay much stress on any of these occurrences as an
explanation for the apathy for play shown by Italian children. Jewish
children, who live in countries quite as hot as Italy, and who certainly
mature as early as Italian children, are naturally playful, and not only
playful but inventive of games. If one reads the biographies of some of
the literary Hebrews of America who have set forth in print their
renunciations and their successes, it will be seen that despite their
most unfavorable surroundings the play instinct in childhood--which,
after all, is the imaginative faculty--is often very strong.

Another thing that is very curious in Italy is that children of both
sexes do not play together. It is true that no particular effort is made
to keep them apart when they are very young, but there is no more
unusual sight in Italy than a boy from ten to fourteen with a girl of
the same age, unless it is to see a young man with a young woman who is
not his wife. There is no open and fraternizing relationship between the
sexes. If you say in Italy that a young woman is the _amica_ or friend
of a man, you mean what is signified in French by _chère amie_. In
certain parts of Italy, and particularly in the South, the position of
women in society and in relationship to men savors very much of the
Oriental.

Every one is agreed that play does two things for the young child--it
promotes its physical welfare and it facilitates its budding
imagination. More than this, it contributes materially to its education
and, particularly, it develops its constructive faculties. It teaches
older children and youths who participate in games of skill and control
the principles of give and take, bear and forbear, and it shows them how
to be victors without arrogance and losers without venom. It instils
principles of honesty, favors frankness and directness, and generally
paves the way for successful dealing with their fellows socially,
commercially, and politically in mature life. When one considers the
pains and money that are expended in our own country and in England to
teach young people how to play, it is astonishing how apathetic the
Italians have been toward the matter.

My belief is that Italy is awakening to the fact that play is one of the
most important factors in the development of the people, and if this war
had not come on I should most likely not have had occasion to make these
observations and to draw conclusions from them. I am told that a few
years ago they began to have mixed schools, that is, schools where
children of both sexes are assembled during school hours, and in many
cities there were stadia where sports of all sorts were encouraged and
fostered.

There are many factors that have tended to impede the development of
play in this country and the recognition of its importance, but aside
from that there is something in the Italian temperament or nature that
is antipathic to the play instinct and inimical to sports. Pedagogy has
recognized its importance but it has not succeeded in promoting and
developing it.

I have often wondered whether the suppression of the play instinct
practically to the point of abnegation is not manifest in the energies
and success of a people. Aside from the field of mechanical application
as represented by that in the profession of engineering, I do not know
of any realm in which the Italian of the past three or four generations
has signally distinguished himself. There have been poets, artists,
architects, physicians, priests, statesmen, philosophers, explorers, or
interpreters of life and events whose names have taken permanent places
in the world. I mean to say that in this period there have been many
Italians who have attained eminence and earned immortality, but there
has been no one from whom an epoch dates: no Pasteur, no Deisler, no
Thompson, no Devries, no Stanley, no Edison, no Langley, no Wright, no
Morgan, no Eddy--to enumerate only a few of those that are legitimately
put in the class of supermen.

This paucity of genius may be no more than a coincidence, but it strikes
me, nevertheless, as extraordinary that a country which has enjoyed
freedom as this country has for the past fifty years, has not manifested
the fruits of its liberation from tyranny and oppression such as were
manifested in France after the French Revolution, when once its
devastation had been cured.

If the child is father to the man, it stands to reason that indulgence
and training during childhood will manifest their effect during
maturity, and success in any activity of human life stands in direct
relation to imagination or vision and industry. It likewise follows that
if we neglect to facilitate the development of the former and to develop
the appetite for and form the habit of the latter during the early years
of life, it is too much to expect the display of them in later years. It
is quite possible, it seems to me, that the reputation for lack of
directness in their dealings with the peoples of other nationalities,
their circuitousness in the business affairs of life, their secrecy or
lack of frankness and candor, their ceremoniousness, their failure to
cement a solid friendship with other nations of Europe, may, in some
measure at least, be linked up with the suppression of the play instinct
in childhood and the subservient place which they have given to women.



CHAPTER XVII

"IF A MAN WALKETH IN THE NIGHT, HE STUMBLETH BUT IF HE WALKETH IN THE
DAY HE SEETH THE LIGHT OF THIS WORLD"


My morning walks take me the length of the Janiculum. In the early light
of these autumn days Rome and its settings take on an expression of
seductive resignation due largely to the clouds which rob it of that
glare which is the most trying feature of summer in Rome. The clouds
permit streams of light to filter through, as if from a monstrous
search-light, especially over the Castelli Romani and the Alban Hills.
Ordinarily Monte Cavo is on the horizon line, but to-day, after the sun
had been nearly an hour on its diurnal way, hundreds of parallel bundles
of light were directed perpendicularly upon it, so that another chain of
mountains came into view beyond, and the decaying villa surmounting it
seemed to be in a valley atop of a mountain peak backed by other peaks.
The way from my _villino_ to St. Peter's is past the Garibaldi monument,
and I am well acquainted with the countenances of his generals and his
guard, whose life-size busts in marble flank the monument in long,
parallel rows, constituting an alley leading up to it. If their effigies
do them justice, they were fine-looking, intelligent, and resolute.

It takes me also past the hideous lighthouse which Argentina thrust upon
the Italians, and which has been erected upon a spot from which one has
perhaps the most commanding view of Rome, its near and distant
environment.

This morning I determined that I would spend a half-hour in the Church
of S. Onofrio and refresh my recollections of the frescoes of Baldassare
Peruzzi and of Pinturicchio, and pay a tribute to the memory of the
greatest poet of the late Renaissance, Torquato Tasso. On the side of
the steps that lead down to the shoulder of the hill surmounting St.
Peter's is an oak-tree, long since dead, but securely banded and spliced
and propped by indestructible metal. Here, it is said, Tasso sat and
contemplated, too forlorn and ill further to poetize, during those
months of 1594 while he was awaiting his call to the capitol to be
crowned poet laureate. When the illness to which he succumbed increased
to such extent as to incapacitate him he repaired to S. Onofrio "to
begin my conversation in heaven in this elevated place, and in the
society of these holy fathers." It is strange enough that Tasso is a
very real and living force in Italy to-day. Not only are many of his
poems, and selections from them, read in the schools, but "Jerusalem
Delivered" on the screen has recently had a remarkable success in Rome
and in other cities of Italy.

The Convent of S. Onofrio is now scarcely more than a reminder of what
it was in its golden days. Long before the Italian Government had
abolished the right of monasteries to hold property, and therefore
delivered the death-blow to the parasitical grasp which they had upon
this country, the Ospedale Bambini Gesu had taken possession of a large
part of it and converted it into a work of mercy and of salvation which
finds, I fancy, more favor in the eyes of people to-day than does
conventual life. The church, rather impressive from without and
particularly when approached from below, is small and dainty and has
distinctly a spiritual atmosphere. It is what the Italians call _molto
carina_. When I entered the church there was one solitary female
prostrate before an image. I fancied that she had had a troubled night
and had repaired to this sacrosanct environment early in the morning to
purge herself of her sins and to ask forgiveness. For a long time she
remained in an attitude of profound contrition, and I was curious to see
if, on arising, she displayed in feature or in form any evidences or
manifestations of indulgence in those transgressions which we are taught
are so offensive to the Lord. My vigil was rewarded by the sight of age,
deprivation, and poverty. Had pulchritude or passion ever been a part of
her, all sign of them had passed; had sins of commission ever brought to
her riches or the semblance of riches, she had long since forfeited
them; had her transgressions been translated into fugitive pleasures, no
signs of them remained. Like Tasso, she had repaired there to begin the
conversation she hoped to continue in heaven. It is much more likely,
however, that she had gone to church without definite antecedent thought
or determination. It seems to be as much an act of nature for women in
Italy when they reach a certain age to haunt the churches as it is for
their hair to turn gray. They do it quite as mechanically as they do
their housework. I often doubt that there is any spiritual or emotional
feeling accompanying it whatsoever. I am certain that the recitation of
prayers which were learned in infancy, and which have been repeated
thousands of times without the smallest attention to the significance of
the words, as children recite them, is not associated with any spiritual
alteration, neither humility nor exaltation. It is part of the meagre,
barren daily life of these old women, and they get from it something
which for them constitutes pleasure and satisfaction.

As I sat in contemplation of the frescoes surrounding the high altar,
and which set forth the coronation of the Virgin, the Nativity, the
Flight into Egypt, a middle-aged monk or priest came forward and
volunteered to draw the curtain that more light might fall upon them. He
was incredibly dirty and dishevelled, and he had lost an eye, but he was
gentle and simple and friendly. He told me what he knew about the
frescoes; he bemoaned the evil days upon which the world had fallen, and
he expressed the hope that peace and tranquillity would soon again be
ours; but when I attempted to talk to him about the significance of the
war and the universal awakement to man's rights that would flow from it,
I found that his comments were ejaculatory and that his reflections had
no root in thought or reason. It is incredible that a person so naïve
and so lacking in every display of intelligence, culture, and
perspicacity can be a spiritual teacher or guide. Perhaps it is that
faith alone is necessary that one shall satisfactorily fulfil his duties
as priest.

He called my attention to an oil graphite on the side walls of the
chapel which had been uncovered in recent times. In early days its
artistic merit or value was not appreciated and it had been covered over
with other pastels or paintings thought to be more appropriate or more
fitting. The composition is a figure standing in what seems to be a
square box and on either side a number of closely massed masculine
figures, each one having a different facial expression, one of
astonishment, another of incredulity, another of humility and
satisfaction. It depicted the Resurrection of Christ, my little friend
thought, but when he saw a figure outside the box that resembled Christ,
he thought it must be the resurrection of Lazarus, and then in the most
childlike way he remarked that the figure in the box seemed to be a
female one, and as that didn't seem to fit in with the resurrection of
Lazarus he gave it up. I fancy that he had never read that when Martha
and Mary made their successful appeal Lazarus had been dead four days,
and that after Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee
that thou hast heard me," Lazarus came forth bound hand and foot with
grave-clothes and his face was bound about with a napkin. These
accoutrements of the grave would successfully conceal sex, even from the
eyes of a sacerdotal Sherlock Holmes.

I persuaded him to take me into the convent that I might see Leonardo's
lovely fresco of the Virgin and the Child, and standing before it he
spoke of the sweetness of the mother's expression and of the dignity and
nobility of her pose and carriage in a way that made me forget his
ignorance and his unattractive exterior.

In the northwest chapel of the little church is the grave and monument
of Tasso. There is nothing particularly meritorious about the monument,
and there is nothing even suggestive of poetry. The effigy represents
the poet in the costume of a Spanish cavalier as he appeared at the age
of his greatest activity. The chapel opposite is a jungle of frescoes
depicting scenes in the life of S. Onofrio, who lived like an animal in
the desert for more than half a century, and who, for thus outraging
nature's laws, was brought to Rome to teach others how to live
acceptably in God's eyes. After he had gone to his final reward, which
we trust was the opposite of a desert, the church in its wisdom made him
a saint.

I did not attempt to visualize the desert-dweller or his activities as I
descended the steps that lead from this lovely hill to the Tiber, for I
was soon lost in contemplation of a view with which I was very familiar
but which now presents itself at a different angle, for I had never been
down this well-worn stone staircase. The little street led first past
the fine old Salviati Palace, a vast, massive structure built apparently
to provide a sumptuous _piano nobile_ and a great impressive court. It
has, I suppose, a definite architectural beauty, but to me it looks
merely massive, cumbersome, and overgrown. It reminds of nothing so much
as of a lady whose figure, once worthy of admiration, had become altered
by the adipose that is fatal to beauty. From here it is but a few steps
to the Villa Farnesina, with its priceless possessions from Raphael's
hand, but my way leads me across the rickety iron suspension bridge
immediately in front of the Salviati Palace, to cross which one must pay
a penny. From the middle of this bridge one gets a stunning view of the
Castle of S. Angelo and the Holy Ghost Hospital. The latter, an enormous
Renaissance structure, accommodates upward of five thousand patients. It
looks to-day much as illustrations of it show that it looked five
hundred years ago. In those days it was the last cry in hospitals, but
it is far from that to-day. In fact, as a hospital it leaves much to be
desired. I go there sometimes to visit the library, which has one of the
largest collections of incunabuli in the world. As you look over it from
the end of the Ponte Ferro, the dome of St. Peter's seems as if it were
suspended from the heaven and its marvellous symmetry is most
impressive. When you look at the dome of St. Peter's and the church
together, there is something a little incongruous. I do not attempt to
define it, but it is the same thing that you get when you look at a man
whose hat doesn't fit.

After crossing the Tiber I strike into the heart of the densely
populated city through a succession of narrow streets without sidewalks,
and flanked on either side with never-ending little shops, now and then
crossing a piazza which gives space and light to some massive mediæval
palace. But none of them solicits me to stop until the Palazzo Braschi
comes into view. I have seen its wondrous staircase, with its many
columns of Oriental granite, so often that I would pass it by without a
thought were it not for the brutally hideous figure of Pasquino, who
greets me from his pedestal like an old acquaintance. I realize quite
well that he has been called one of the most beautiful remains of
antique sculpture, and that the expert eye, guided by a knowledge of
Hellenic art supremity, may see charm and wondrousness in it, but I have
bid him good-morning and good-day many times, and, like some old
acquaintances, he does not get nearer my heart as I learn to know him
better. There have been innumerable conjectures as to what the figure
represents. The one most generally accepted is that it represents
Menelaus supporting the dead body of Patroclus after the vile Trojan had
stabbed him in the back while Hector was engaging his attention. You
have such a feeling of pride in Patroclus and the wonderful things that
he did with his Myrmidons that your heart goes out to him. When the
Trojan War was going badly, he was persuaded to take up the direction of
the forces against the enemy, and one cannot help feeling grateful to
Menelaus for having played the good Samaritan to him at the end. But if
this old King of Sparta had made Helen behave better when Paris came to
visit them, she might never have eloped with that hazardous youth after
he had made the memorable decision on Mount Ida, spurning power promised
by Juno, and glory and renown tendered by Minerva, in order that he
might have the fairest woman in the world for wife. But one should not
be too hard on the old king. There is no telling just how far Helen
acted on her own initiative and how far Venus was responsible for the
flight. Still, were it not for this little irregularity in the conduct
of the royal household, we would have been denied a knowledge of the
greatness of Greece and a record of its accomplishments in one of the
greatest poems, which has been a solace and a stimulation to countless
lovers of literature the past two thousand years.

Though I bring no trained eye or accurate information to the discussion
of Pasquino's identity, I am convinced, since seeing the bronze statue
of a boxer which Lanciani unearthed in excavating the Baths of
Constantine in 1885, that this statue is no other than an early marble
setting forth the same subject. To me it is the effigy of a fighting
brute. Whatever his name or his profession may have been, he has become
known the world over as Pasquino, and satires and sarcasms similar to
those which he is supposed to have uttered to the amusement and
edification of the Romans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries have
become known as pasquinades all over the world.

Italians like to write stories concerning historic incidents and to
embellish them with a veneer of verisimilitude. They like particularly
to give them a personal note, deprecatory or laudatory. When the
Egyptian obelisk was being forced to a perpendicular position in the
Piazza of St. Peter's, the crowd had been admonished under penalty of
death to be silent. The stillness of the piazza, broken only by the
creaking of the ropes, was suddenly torn asunder by a shout of "Wet the
ropes." Thus the famous obelisk was preserved intact, and the man whose
discernment had accomplished it, instead of having his head cut off, was
allowed to furnish the palms for St. Peter's every Palm Sunday.
Incidentally he was ennobled, and since that time his reward has been
the family's chief asset. In the same way, one of the river gods of the
fountain set up in the middle of the Piazza Navona seems to be drawing a
mantle up over his head while the others, those of the Danube, the
Ganges, and the Rio della Plata, are looking straight ahead. Bernini,
who built the fountain, says that Nile was so shocked by the façade
which Borromini, a contemporary architect, added to the Church of St.
Agnes, which is immediately in front of it, that he had to veil his
face.

The story of Pasquino is that he asked questions concerning the conduct
of the reigning power, which, of course, in those days was the pope, and
made reflections which Marforio, the river god which stood between the
horse-tamers in the Piazza della Quirinale, answered. Pasquino, in
short, became the organ of public opinion, and it was not subject to the
censor, for the authors prudently kept out of sight. His most poisonous
venom and destructive wrath were directed against popes and cardinals.
If he said the things that he is alleged to have said about Alexander VI
and Innocent XI (the holy man who started the Inquisition), it is easy
to understand that one of their successors wished to throw him into the
bottom of the Tiber, the resting-place of countless priceless objects of
art for many centuries. As a matter of fact, however, the stories about
Pasquino to be found in every guide-book are, like many other stories
when run to earth, largely fiction.

Thirty years ago there was published in the _Nuova Antologia_ an article
by Domenico Gnoli which sets forth the real history of Pasquino. When
Cardinal Carraffa went to live in the Braschi Palace he had the statue
set up at one of the corners, and there it has since remained. In those
days religious processions were as common as automobiles and bicycles
are to-day. The priests in them often rested at this corner, and it
became the custom to make up the statue to represent different
personages, and the man who was intrusted with this task happened to be
a professor in the adjacent university. He encouraged his boys to write
epilogues, elegies, and epigrams which they pasted or stuck on the
statue. At first these were purely literary efforts, juvenile flights to
Parnassus, but later they took on a political and social flavor, while
still later they became concerned with the doings of the Curia. These
pasquinades have been collected in book form, and some of the volumes
exist at the present time. The majority, however, have been
lost--perished in flames, destroyed as having no value, or disappeared
in other ways. Thus the statue was initiated as a news-bearer or organ
of public opinion.

Immediately across the road from the statue there was a tailor or barber
shop, and the name of the chief operator was Pasquino. It was in this
shop that the messages stuck on the statue were collected, deciphered,
and discussed, and when the witty tailor died they gave his name to the
statue and thus immortality was thrust upon him. In reality, after the
cessation of the publications, "Carmina quæ ad Pasquillum fuerunt posita
in anno," and the murder of the professor who had encouraged his
students to put forth their youthful efforts, men groaning under the
oppression of their rulers, men big with ideas of what we now call
liberty, men in whom the germs of freedom and equality had been
implanted, saw a fairly safe way of getting their sentiments before the
public, and they utilized Pasquino as a forum from which they could
radiate their ideas and their sentiments. During the entire sixteenth
century these men conveyed to the Borgias and to Julius II and Paul III
and Innocent X and Innocent XI and Pius VI an expression of their
feeling and conviction concerning their conduct, individually and
collectively. Whether these contributions had anything to do with
shaping public opinion and leading up to the great Reformation, it is
impossible to say.

Whatever Pasquino accomplished or didn't accomplish seems not to concern
him, for there he sits tranquilly upon six blocks of volcanic stone,
indifferent to the passing show and to the transpirations of the world.

A few paces beyond the Palazzo Braschi I suddenly come upon one of the
most attractive and alluring piazzas in Rome, the Piazza Navona, or, as
it is sometimes called, the Circo Agonale. By its oblong form, its
seductive symmetry, its elaborate decorations--three beautiful
fountains, the central one surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk which once
stood in the Circus of Maxentius; by its boundaries, which include the
Palazzo Pamfili, the Church of S. Agnese, and the Church of S. Giacomo
of the Spaniards, and innumerable small and large houses--it succeeds in
conveying to the observer, who is susceptible to æsthetic impressions,
sensations which are as purely pleasurable as anything can possibly be.
Were it not for the distinctively Italian architecture one might easily
imagine that he was in the centre of some provincial large city of
France. It has, more than any other public square that I have ever been
in, that quality which we speak of as foreign. No two buildings are
alike, and, mean though many of them are, and especially toward the
northern end, they blend in such a way as to produce a perfect harmony
of color and architectural effect. In olden times they held races here,
and I can imagine how marvellous a sight it must have been with the
palaces and houses gayly decked with flags and drapery, rich rugs
hanging from the window-sills, on which leaned beautiful ladies, frail
and strong, attended solicitously, perhaps watchfully, by cavaliers and
admirers, and the square below filled with the pleasure-loving crowd
whose conduct betrayed nothing else save a desire to be amused and
diverted. During the summer I often sat for a half-hour on my way home
in this square, and, while watching the countless children from the
surrounding tenements in those simple indulgences which they call play,
tried to fancy some of the events that had taken place in the square and
in the palaces and churches bordering it.

It was in the Pamfili Palace, built by Innocent X in 1650 for his
predatory and dissolute sister-in-law, Olympia Malacchimi, that the
fortunes of the Pamfili family began. Here she sold bishoprics and
beneficences, and here she externalized that conduct which brought
infamy on her name. What a story an account of the intimate doings of
that family would make! Their palace in the Corso is one of the most
beautiful Renaissance residences in the world, and their villa on the
Janiculum is an approximation to a rural paradise. All that is left of
the family is a faded, sad, suggestible, middle-aged princess, whose
English appearance and manner betray a lifelong habit of emotional
suppression, and one son who is eking out his miserable days in the
mountains of Switzerland.

Immediately adjacent to the palace is the Church of St. Agnes, built
about the same time and on the spot where the girl whose name it
commemorates was supposed to have had miraculous delivery from
humiliations and outrages similar to those to which the Belgian nuns
were subjected by the Germans. I say "Germans" advisedly, for I am
unable to understand why any one should think for a moment that the term
"Hun," so widely applied to them, carries with it any such obloquy or
opprobrium as the simple name "German." I venture to say that in years
to come, when any one wishes to describe abominations, cruelties,
savageries for which no name is adequate, he will use the term
"Germanic." Then even the most inexperienced in crime and sin will get a
glimmering of what is meant.

It is related that when Agnes was about fourteen years old she was taken
to a lupanalia and there, bereft of all her clothing, became the target
of the word and the conduct of a group of lubricitous monsters.
Overwhelmed with shame, her head fell upon her chest and she prayed.
Immediately her hair took on such miraculous growth that it concealed
her nakedness. But there were other more startling experiences in store
for her. For her rebelliousness and general contumacy she was condemned
to be burned alive. When the flames were about to devour her they
suddenly became possessed of a dual quality, one radiating refreshment
upon her, the other destruction upon her executioners. The lady had many
other experiences which have long since been denied her sex, but it is
popularly believed that she devotes much attention in her heavenly home
to seeing that maidens who request her in a proper frame of mind and
body, which for the latter is twenty-four hours' abstinence from
everything but pure spring water, are provided with husbands. It would
be trivial of me to add that she probably is overworked these days when
so many prospective husbands are at the front, but I have no real
information on the matter, and I sincerely hope that the nubile Italians
have no serious difficulty in finding spouses.

From here my route is to the Corso, which at this early hour is nearly
deserted. There are many streets that I may take: one that leads to the
Pantheon; another that goes past the Palazzo Madama and other
interesting public and private buildings. As a rule I take the latter,
for it leads me to the Via Condotti, which ends in the Piazza di Spagna.
Before the war this piazza was the rendezvous of American tourists. The
vendors of objects of art and of Roman pearls, the antiquarian who had
his wares fabricated around the corner or in the Trastevere, the dealer
in genuine Raphaels and Tintorettos, the rapacious dealers in old books
are all there, but most of them are on their knees in their shops with
half-closed shutters, praying for the war to end so that the gullible
rich Americans may come again. Their prayers are heard and their
supplications will soon be answered. Meanwhile I cast a glance at the
wretched monument erected a half-century ago to commemorate the
promulgation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, look lovingly
at the semi-sunken boat-shaped fountain just in front of the steps, and
begin slowly to mount the most impressive steps in Rome, which seem to
lead up like heavenly stairs to the massive, double-belfried Church of
Trinità dei Monti, with the graceful Egyptian obelisk in front of it.
Nowadays the steps are not so picturesque as I have often seen them in
peace time, when lovely artists' models, picturesque loafers and the
exponents of the _dolce far niente_ collected on the steps and made, in
conjunction with the flowers and plants that were exhibited there for
sale, an almost unique picture. It is now deserted save for some
hazardous Greek or Italian who attempts to eke out a living by disposing
of flowers that have been camouflaged to look fresh. Nevertheless the
staircase and its environment make an appeal which repeated visits serve
only to increase. From the top of it, in the little square in front of
the church, one gets an attractive, though limited, view of the city and
of Monte Mario, but it is a view that convinces him that he is in a city
quite unlike any other in the world.

A picturesque old woman who sells papers at the bottom of the stairs has
made a regular customer out of me, and I scan the morning news as I
ascend the steps, and by the time I have reached the top I find thoughts
of beauty and of the good old days are being replaced by thoughts of
work and of the war. As I walk across the Pincian Hill I am conscious
that I am big with joy at what the past twenty-four hours have
accomplished at the battle-front, and throbbing with anticipation of
what the following day will bring forth. That it will soon bring
victory, complete and absolute, even the professional warrior is now
forced to admit, and soon we shall bask again in the light of a livable
world.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE AMERICAN EAGLE CHANGES HIS PERCH


The shrieks of the American eagle have been joyous sounds to American
ears since 1776, when we discovered his capacity to render our hymn of
freedom. Heretofore our national bird has been in best voice on his
native soil. When brought to Europe by statesman or hero, by citizen or
delegate, it was found that certain conditions there impaired his
vocality and the flap of his wings. Suddenly in 1918 all this changed.
Conditions were not only favorable--they were ideal. Perched upon a
parapet of Guildhall, sitting majestically on the Eiffel Tower, alight
on the campanile that crowns the Capitoline Hill, his shrieks conveyed a
message to the people of Europe whose ears have awaited it longingly for
centuries, and the flapping of his wings created a current that
stimulated and energized them. Floating majestically through the
empyrean, he was to those human beings, weary of war, of tyranny, and of
privilege, what the dove was to the occupants of the ark--the emblem of
salvation. Nothing could then convince the peoples of Italy that this
harbinger of hope had not been liberated by Woodrow Wilson. I cannot
believe that the American eagle has permanently forsaken the United
States of America. I anticipate hearing there again the familiar scream.
One tolerates him better at home than in Europe, but I must accord the
bird great sapiency in having selected the autumn of 1918 to give the
European people the opportunity to judge of the quality and quantity of
his vocal production.

It is a platitude to say that no prophet or potentate, no king or
conqueror was ever greeted with such spontaneous, whole-hearted, genuine
enthusiasm as President Wilson was greeted in Italy, and, if I may judge
from newspaper accounts, the reception which was offered him there was
not unlike that which he received in England and France. He went to
Italy when its people were incensed by the conduct of the newly fledged
Jugoslavs, and when the press was in the throes of inflammatory polemics
over the fate of the Treaty of London. It was widely known in Italy that
President Wilson was not in sympathy with the Sonninian alleged
imperialistic policies and that he was fully in sympathy with the
Jugoslav aspirations. Nevertheless, the Italians, from royalty to
peasant, welcomed him with a spontaneity and warmth, an enthusiasm and
whole-heartedness, a genuineness and devotion that was as moving as
anything I ever witnessed. The hour of his arrival in Rome was not
definitely known until shortly before he arrived. But despite this
hundreds of people remained in the street all night, and thousands of
them gathered there before sunrise in order that they might not miss the
opportunity of looking upon him whom they firmly believed to be the
apostle of liberty and freedom, the herald of light and brotherly love.
It was not curiosity alone that prompted them to this effort and
sacrifice of comfort. Curiosity undoubtedly entered into it, but the
potent reason for the outpouring that took place that memorable January
was that their presence might convey to our President an expression of
their esteem and an earnest of their appreciation of his efforts.

No American, though he had the heart of a frog and the emotional caliber
of a lizard, could suppress the succession of thrills that mounted from
his bowels to his brain on seeing with what dignity, suavity, and
self-respecting composure their Chief Magistrate comported himself as he
was transported through the Via Nazionale, seated beside the most
democratic and beloved king in the world. Though the American spectator
had spent his time impregnating with venom darts which he believed he
would gladly drive into the President, he had to admit that there was a
man who more than satisfied all of Kipling's "Ifs." When he encountered
him later in the Palazzo del Drago acting as host at the table of his
country's charming ambassadress, or at Montecitorio, where he told the
Solons of Italy of his country's hopes, ideals, aspirations, and
willingness, or in less solemn moments on the Capitoline, when he
received the honorary citizenship of Rome, he knew that his first
impressions were founded in verity and he lent a willing ear to the
screech of the American eagle which revealed itself throughout the
entire Italian press. Every city of Italy clamored for a visit, and
though he spent but a few minutes in Genoa and a few hours in Milan, the
outpouring of the people to welcome him was no less remarkable than it
was in Rome. The tribute which Europe gave Mr. Wilson seemed to depress
many of his countrymen on the other side of the Atlantic. It is an
extraordinary thing that while Europe rocked with his fame America
reeked with his infamy.

After having lived two years in Italy I found many things about the
Italians difficult to understand. After having lived fifty years in the
United States of America I find some things about the Americans beyond
comprehension. Nothing is so enigmatic as their attitude toward Woodrow
Wilson, the man who was accorded higher esteem in Europe than was ever
vouchsafed mortal man, and who gave and has since given earnest of such
accord. From the day he decided to represent our country in the Peace
Conference the papers and magazines began to contain the material from
which could readily be formulated a new hymn of hate. What was the
genesis of this display? What was the cause of this distrust? From
whence did this venom emanate? How could a man whose life was a mirror
of integrity, whose ideals were of the loftiest, and who attempted to
conform his conduct to them excite such contempt? Why should the only
statesman who had revealed the ability to formulate a plan which, put in
operation, led to cessation of hostilities, who was the leader in
formulating the terms of peace, and who insisted, and had his insistence
allowed, that it should incorporate a covenant whose enforcement would
make for perpetual peace, be hated and distrusted, vilified and
traduced, thwarted and misrepresented by so many of his countrymen? What
had he done, by commission or omission, that such treatment should be
accorded him? I propose to attempt to answer these questions and thus to
suggest why he has been a failure as President. I know the replies
usually given to these questions by his depreciators and defamers. "His
nature is so imperious and his temper so tyrannical that he cannot
co-operate with others; he neither solicits advice nor heeds counsel; he
selects his coadjutors, aides, and advisers from those whom he knows he
can dominate; the passport to his favor is flattery, and intimacy with
him is maintained only by the cement of agreement; he neither made
preparation for war when there was ample time for doing so nor did he
wage war until months after repeated _casus belli_; he is hypocritical
in having sought and accomplished election under the slogan 'He kept us
out of war,' and immediately on being elected he 'thrust' the country
into war; he was 'too proud to fight' in 1916, but keen to fight in
1917; he has hebrewphilia and popophobia; he is a socialist masquerading
as a liberal; he is a Bolshevik beneath the mask of a radical. In brief,
he is temperamentally unfit to be President of the United States;
intellectually and morally unfit to represent its people; and withal so
completely under the dominion of an insatiate ambition to be the
greatest man the world has ever known that every kindly human feeling
has been crowded from him."

Intelligent, educated men who have never seen him, who know little of
his career save that he was president of Princeton University and
governor of the State of New Jersey and twice President of the United
States, elected by the Democratic party, hate him as if he were a bitter
personal enemy, malign him as if he had injured their reputation for
honesty and probity, calumniate him as though he were a man without
character, depreciate him as though his career were barren of signal
accomplishment, and distrust his motives and procedures as though he had
once, or many times, betrayed them. Men who are unable to give the
smallest specificity to their dislike of him feel that they add to their
stature by detracting from his accomplishments and defaming him. Not one
of them with whom I have talked has been able to state the facts of his
disagreement and rupture with the trustees of Princeton University. My
understanding was that he insisted that the university should submit to
certain reforms that would make it democratic in reality as well as in
name, and that would enhance its pedagogical usefulness, and that there
should not be a privileged class in the university, viz., members of
exclusive clubs whose portals were opened by money. He maintained that
his training as an educator, his experience as an administrator, his
accomplishment as a student of history and as an interpreter of events,
his experience with men, entitled him to a judgment concerning the needs
of such an institution that should be given a hearing, and he contended
that his recommendations, rather than those of trustees whose training
had been largely in the world of affairs, be put in operation and at
least be given a trial. He had the courage to jeopardize his very bread
and butter, and that of his family, at a time in his life when his
physical forces had reached their zenith rather than sacrifice what he
believed to be a principle. The men who were permitted to take Woodrow
Wilson's measure in that contest had no more idea of his stature than if
they were blind. They would have laughed to scorn the idea that five
years later the people of the United States would select him for their
president. It was in this episode that his repute not to be able to do
team-work with his equals and his inferiors originated. Time has shown
that it isn't only a question of being able to do team-work, he cannot
do his best work in an atmosphere of friction and dissent. It is as
impossible for him to yield a position which he has taken, and which we
will assume he believes to be right, as it is impossible for the magnet
to yield the needle that it has attracted; therefore he adopts the only
course for him--he doesn't enter contests, save golf with his physician.

His cabinet meetings are a farce, so say they who have never attended
one and who have never even spoken to a cabinet member. He selects
pygmies for his cabinet and for his aides in order that they may proffer
him no advice, resent no contradiction or protest indignities to their
offices. This in face of the fact that he and his cabinet and his aides
have conditioned the only miracle of modern times, namely, throwing a
whole country, millions of whose people were adverse to war, into a
bellicose state which was never before witnessed; conditioning and
transporting the men and material resources of that country across the
Atlantic and into the fighting lines at a crucial moment, at a time when
the backs of the Allies were against the wall, according to the
statements of their own authorized spokesmen; who succeeded in
engendering in the composite mind of the American people a determination
to win the war that was more potent than men or weapons; who impregnated
the composite soul of the Allies with a faith that the world would be an
acceptable abode for the common people once the enemy was crushed, that
transcended in its intensity the faith of the Christian martyrs; who
filled the heart of every statesman of the Allied nations with a hope
and belief that there was within him the masterful mind that would
conduct their legions to victory and salvation. If he and his pygmies
accomplished this, I am one who maintains they are myrmidons and giants.
But they didn't do it, his detractors say. The rejoinder to which is: "I
know, a little bird did it!"

If we had entered the war after the sinking of the _Lusitania_, when the
wise men of the West say we should have gone in, countless lives and
inestimable expenditures would have been spared. Where is the man in the
United States of America to-day who has revealed the Jove-like mind that
entitles him to make such sentient statement? When he is found, how can
he possibly know? What delivery of thought, idea, conception, execution
has he ever made that entitles him to be heard, not to say believed? How
can any one possibly know what would have been the result of our
entrance into the war at that time? If any one thing is responsible for
America's efficiency in the war, it is that it had the American people
fused into one man with one mind, determined to win the war. I am sure
that I encountered nothing in the United States in my travel from the
Atlantic to the Pacific and back again in the spring of 1916 that made
me believe that the people of our country wanted war, or that there
could be developed in them at that time a sentiment which would make for
such internal resistance of the people as they displayed in the spring
of 1917 and continued to display until November 11, 1918. I cannot speak
from personal knowledge, for I was not in the United States during the
year of its war efficiency, but I am told that there was never a whisper
of disloyalty or a syllable of disparagement of the President personally
during that time. But many of those who were silent then are strident
now. Their enforced silence has enhanced the carry-power of their
voices, and their clamor prevents the harmony that the world is seeking.
They not only defame Wilson, but they contend that the part we played in
the war has been overestimated. It has been, but not by us. It has been
evaluated by those whom it was our most sacred privilege to aid. They
neither minimize our efforts not underestimate our accomplishment. The
British know that they were steadfast; the French realize that they were
resolute; the Italians appreciate that they were brave. We know it, but
that does not prevent us from realizing the magnitude of the rôle we
played, and the man who was responsible for it is the man to whom the
world, save a political party in the United States, gives thanks and
expresses appreciation. His name is Woodrow Wilson. Americans do not
boast of the part they played in winning the war, but they do encourage
that which is far worse than boasting--lying about it, particularly when
the motive for such perversion of truth is deprecation of their Chief
Executive.

He is an idealist and theorist. He is the kind of idealist who destroyed
the Democratic machine in the State of New Jersey, which had been the
synonym for corruption in politics for a generation; the kind of
idealist who put through the Underwood Tariff Bill, which at one stroke
did more to strangle the unnatural mother of privilege than any measure
in the past twenty years; the kind of idealist who, when the transport
system of the entire country threatened to be hopelessly paralyzed by
reason of the determination of the railway magnates to refuse the
demands of locomotive engineers that their working-day should consist of
eight hours, sent for representatives of the plutocrats and the
proletariats and told what they were to do and when they were to do it,
and the whole civilized world approved. He is the idealist who has done
more to make our government a republican government representative of
the people and not of party bosses than any one in the memory of man. He
is the idealist who is a scholar, a thinker, a statesman, a creator, an
administrator, and a man of vision. More than that, he is an efficiency
expert in the realm of world-ordering. It is to our inestimable
misfortune that his personality has successfully obstacled his projects.

His secretary of war is a failure; his secretary of state is a
figurehead; his secretary of finance is his family, and so on _ad
nauseam_.

I am not a competent judge whether Mr. Baker has been a good secretary
of war or not, but I am sure that he is not so unfit as Simon Cameron
was. No one has said of him: "Cameron is utterly ignorant and regardless
of the course of things and probable result. Selfish and openly
discourteous to the President. Obnoxious to the country. Incapable
either of organizing details or conceiving and executing general plans"
(Nicolay). President Wilson has never had to say of any of his cabinet
what Lincoln said of Seward: "The point and pith of the senators'
complaint was that they charged him, Seward, if not with infidelity,
with indifference, with want of earnestness in the war, with want of
sympathy with the country, and especially with a too great ascendancy
and control of the President and measures of administration. While they
seemed to believe in my honesty, they also appeared to think that when I
had in me any good purpose or intention Seward tried to suck it out of
me unperceived."

So far as I know, no one has characterized President Wilson's mentality
as "painful imbecility," as Stanton characterized Lincoln a few months
before the latter appointed him secretary of war.

He has been accused of not surrounding himself with the ablest men of
his party or of the country, in the conduct of the affairs of the nation
during the period when the country was emerging from the position of
aloofness from world politics which it had maintained from the time
Washington warned of the danger of "entangling foreign alliances." But
it does not convince me that a man is not competent to do the job that
the President has given him because his training has been as a
stockbroker and his activities on the bear side of the market. That is
not the kind of training that one would give his son whom he wished to
see become a statesman, but it occurs to me that the task entrusted to
him may be one which a statesman is not best fitted to handle. It may be
a job that a man with the mentality and training and moral possessions
that he selected could do better than any one else.

What earnest of superior constructive, intellectual powers has any
public man in the United States displayed that justifies
self-constituted critics in saying that the men selected by President
Wilson are not their peers? It is universally admitted that President
Wilson has a more masterful and comprehensive grasp of politics in
America, using that word in its conventional, every-day sense and
meaning, particularly a familiarity with bosses and the "machine," than
any President ever had. No one denies his statesmanship. He is,
therefore, a competent judge of who was best fitted to do the work which
it was necessary to do in order that the programme which he formulated
for the benefit of humanity might be executed, and particularly that the
yoke might be lifted from the necks of the oppressed nations and that
another world calamity in the shape of war might be avoided. His choice
of aides and representatives was not acceptable to men who put party
interests before public interests, who are willing to sacrifice world
weal for worldly advancement, and who lash themselves into a frenzied
state by repetition of the admonitions of Washington or Monroe. It does
not detract from the glory of the father of his country, or from the
lustre of great interpreters of national law, to say that the principles
that they enunciated and the practices that they initiated centuries ago
are not necessarily those that should guide us now. It would be just as
legitimate to say that physicians should follow the teachings of
Hippocrates or Galen, because the one was the father of medicine and the
other its greatest expositor, as it would to say that we must follow
slavishly the teachings of Washington and Monroe.

That the American Peace Commission did not contain men of the mental
caliber of Mr. Root or Mr. Lodge, that the reservoirs of expert
knowledge were not drained and taken to Paris, that our Commission as a
whole was less sophisticated, less perceptive and apperceptive, than
that of Great Britain, let us say, is to be regretted, just as we regret
the effects of some fallacious judgment or specious decision of our
youth. There were ways of offsetting them, however, and in this
particular instance Congress was the way. The President did not go
beyond his prerogative in selecting the Peace Commission. The public
elected him to make these selections, as well as to do other things. If
the people do not want that such selection should be his privilege and
power, they have only to say it at the polls. The Eighteenth Amendment
was not difficult of accomplishment. Perhaps time will show that Mr.
Wilson "guessed right" oftener in the selection of his cabinet than any
predecessor.

Mr. Josephus Daniels was the target of scorn and the butt of ridicule
from the time he went into the cabinet until he began to make
preparations for war, but the rumor has reached me that his efforts were
fairly satisfactory to the hypercritical American public. The
President's critics are jealous of the prodigious powers which an
unauthorized representative of the government has in the affairs of the
country, and they do not understand why, if he is the paragon of virtue
that his position seems to indicate he is, the President did not put him
on the commission. But again I say the President knows his limitations
and the public has only recently discovered them. He may short-circuit
some of them by means of Colonel House. He may find him "great in
counsel and mighty in work," or he may have habituated himself to buy
only gold that he has tried in the fire himself. It is his privilege and
no one can gainsay it.

He is silent and ungetatable. Silence has been considered a sign of
strength in man since the days of Hammurabi, and the greater the man the
more solitary he is. If Mr. Wilson were twice as great, even Mr. Tumulty
would not be allowed to see him!

Wilson has been accused of pilfering his idea of the League of Nations
from the Duc de Sully and from the Abbé of Saint Pierre. Enemies
animated by malice and fired by envy have striven to show that the
famous fourteen statements or principles were his only by the right of
possession or enunciation; that he resurrected the doctrines of Mazzini,
dressed them up and paraded them as his own. It would be difficult to be
patient with such critics if one did not know the history of
epoch-making events in the world's progress. In truth, the public is
resentful that it was not consulted. It is umbraged that it was not
allowed to make suggestions. It is spiteful because it was treated with
contempt. The public manifested the same quality of spleen toward
Lincoln, only the quantity was greater. In brief, the public professes
not to have any confidence in Mr. Wilson's wisdom, and this in face of
the fact that up to date he has displayed more wisdom than all the
Solons in America combined, and I can say this the more unprejudicedly
as a Republican than I could if I were a member of the party that
elected Mr. Wilson.

Mr. Wilson is disliked for emotional, not intellectual, reasons.
Although he has probably done more to engrave the graving upon the stone
that will remove the iniquity of the land than any man who has ever
lived, "we don't like" him. There must be some good reason for this
other than envy, jealousy, and resentment, and I propose to inquire for
these reasons in Mr. Wilson's emotional make-up.

Whether I "like" Mr. Wilson or not does not enter into it. I never knew
Pascal or Voltaire or Benjamin Franklin, and still I am sure I could
make a statement of their qualities and possessions that would elicit
commendation from one who had known them. As a matter of fact, personal
contact with men from whose activities the world dates epochs is not
conducive to personal liking. I cannot fancy liking Rousseau. I am sure
I should not have liked Voltaire. I can even understand why Lincoln was
despised and scoffed at by his contemporaries. I am one of those who
believe Mr. Wilson is a great man, but I am not concerned to convince
others of it. I am concerned alone to explain why he is not beloved of
the people.

The esteem or disesteem in which Mr. Wilson is held in this country is
due to his personality, and this does not seem to me to be enigmatic. He
has the mind of a Jove but the heart of a batrachian. It is to the
former that he owed his rise, it is the latter that conditioned his
fall. If we were not satisfied to have such a man sail our ship of state
in smooth as well as in turbulent seas, in calm and in tornado, we had
opportunity to drop him from the bridge gracefully in 1916. Although his
possessions and deficits were not so universally known then as now,
still they were generally recognized and widely discussed. Instead of
dropping our pilot we re-elected him. This could only be construed by
him as approval of his conduct. When he continued to display his
inherent qualities he excited our ire. We called him names and neither
forgave nor wished to forgive him.

Perhaps no one has ever had the opportunity to fix his position so
indestructibly at the apogee of human accomplishment by permitting
himself kindly indulgences or what is commonly called human feelings as
Woodrow Wilson had. If when Roosevelt sought to raise a regiment or
division to take to France the President had been sympathetic to the
project and had wiped out with a stroke of the pen the obvious
difficulties that stood in the way of such project, it would have
thrilled the people of this country of every color, or every complexion,
political and somatic, as nothing else could possibly do. It would not
have taken from his prestige as commander-in-chief of the army one jot
or tittle, nor would it have interfered in the smallest way with the
disciplinary unity which is the vital spark of the army.

If he had said of General Leonard Wood, "Father, forgive him, for he
kneweth not that which he did," and had the emotional exaltation which
every one has when he forgives an enemy, and given him a command to
which his past performances entitled him, a few soreheads and soulless
pygmies wearing the uniform of the United States Army and their
congressional wire-pullers might have resented it, but the people by and
large would have said: "Our President is a big man: he is magnanimous,
he is a man who walks in the pathway of the Lord, he forgives his
enemies." General Wood would have received the recompense for having
prepared the way for the selective draft that he deserved, for even
though he did it in a tactless and tasteless way, he made a contribution
of incalculable value to the victory of our arms. Had he sent for the
chairman of the committee on foreign affairs and conferred with him on
the selection of the Peace Conference personnel, had he shown some signs
of deference to that committee, had he discussed with them his peace
plan proposals and taken note of their suggestions, modifying his
proposals in accordance with their convictions when to do so did not
yield a fundamental point, we should not have been on the horns of the
dilemma we were for a year following the President's last return from
Paris, and the world would have been spared discomfiture--yea, even
agony.

Mr. Wilson knows the rules of the game, but he does not know how to play
fair. He knows that contests and strife elicit his most deforming
qualities--intolerance, arrogance, and emotional sterility; hence he
hedges himself about in every possible way to avoid them. He knows that
the sure way for him is to play the game alone.

Woodrow Wilson does not love his fellow men. He loves them in the
abstract, but not in the flesh. He is concerned with their fate, their
destiny, their travail en masse, but the predicaments, perplexities, and
prostrations of the individual or groups of individuals make no appeal
to him. He does not refresh his soul by bathing it daily in the milk of
human kindness. He says with his lips that he loves his fellow men, but
there is no accompanying emotional glow, none of the somatic or
spiritual accompaniments which are the normal ancillæ of love's display.
Hence he does not respect their convictions when they are opposed to his
own, he does not value their counsels. His determination to put things
through in the way he has convinced himself they should be put through
is not susceptible to change from influences that originate without his
own mind. He has made many false steps, but none of them so conditioned
the fall from the exalted position the world had given to him as his
determination to go to Paris and represent this country at the Peace
Conference. If one may judge what the verdict of all the voters in this
country would have been, had the question of his going been submitted to
them, from the expressions of opinion of those one encounters in his
daily life, it would be no exaggeration to say that three-fourths of the
voters would say he should not have gone. I think I may say truthfully
that I never encountered a person who approved his decision. It is
possible that his entourage or cabinet and counsellors did not contain a
daring soul who volunteered such advice, but it is incredible that both
they and the President did not sense the judgment of their countrymen as
it was reflected in the newspapers. However, it is likely that he would
have gone had he known that the majority of the voters of this country
were opposed to it.

In contact with people he gives himself the air of listening with
deference and indeed of being beholden to judgment and opinion, but in
reality it is an artifice which he puts off when he returns to the
dispensing centre of the word and of the law just as he puts off his
gloves and his hat. Nothing is so illustrative of this unwillingness to
heed counsel emanating from authority and given wholly for his benefit
as his conduct toward his physician during the trip around the country
in September, 1919. The newspaper representatives who accompanied him
say that he had often severe and protracted headache, was frequently
nervous and irritable, sometimes dizzy, and always looked ill. These
symptoms, conjoined with the fact that for a long time he had high blood
pressure, were danger signals which no physician would dare neglect. It
is legitimate to infer that his physician apprised him and counselled
him accordingly. Despite it Mr. Wilson persisted, until nature exacted
the penalty and by so doing he jeopardized his own life and seriously
disordered the equilibrium of affairs of the country. Indeed, obstinacy
is one of his most maiming characteristics.

The President attempts to mask with facial urbanity and a smile in
verbal contact with people, and with the subjunctive mood in written
contact, his third most deforming defect of character, namely, his
inability to enter into a contest of any sort in which there is strife
without revealing his obsession to win, his emotional frigidity, his
lack of love for his fellow men. These explain why he did not win out to
a larger degree in Paris, and why he did not win out with Congress. When
he attempts to play such game his artificed civility, cordiality,
amiability are so discordant with the real man that they become as
offensive as affectations of manner or speech always are, and instead of
placating the individual toward whom they are manifest, or facilitating
a modus vivendi, they offend and make rapport with him impossible.

Probably nothing would strike Mr. Wilson's intimates as so wholly untrue
as the statement that he is cruel, yet, nevertheless, I feel convinced
that there is much latent cruelty in his make-up, and that every now and
then he is powerless to inhibit it. He was undoubtedly wholly within his
rights in dismissing Mr. Lansing from his cabinet, but the way in which
he did it constitutes refinement of cruelty. He may have had a contempt
for him because he had not insisted on playing first fiddle in Mr.
Wilson's orchestra, the part for which he was engaged, but that did not
justify Mr. Wilson in flaying him publicly because he attempted to keep
the orchestra together and tuned up as it were during Mr. Wilson's
illness.

Selfishness is another conspicuous deforming trait of the President. He
is more selfish than cruel. Undoubtedly his friends can point to many
acts of generosity that deny the allegation. Some of the most selfish
people in the world give freely of their counsel, money, and time.
Selfishness and miserliness are not interchangeable terms. He is the
summation of selfishness because he puts his decisions and
determinations above those of any or all others. It matters not who the
others may be. Until some one comes forward to show that he has ever
been known to yield his judgments and positions to those of others I
must hold to this view. He is ungenerous of sentiment and unfair by
implication. Nothing better exemplifies his ungenerosity than his
refusal to appear before the Senate or a committee of them previous to
his return to Paris after his visit here and say to them that he had
determined to incorporate all their suggestions in the Treaty and in the
Covenant. He did incorporate them, but he did not give the Senate the
satisfaction of telling them that he was going to do so or that the
instrument would be improved by so doing. It has been said of him that
he is the shrewdest politician who has been in the presidential chair in
the memory of man. That is a euphemistic way of saying he knows mob
psychology and individual weakness, but his reputation in this respect
has been injured by his failure to be generous and gracious to Congress.

The receptive side of his nature is neither sensitive nor intuitive, nor
is his reactive side productive or creative. He is merely ratiocinative
and constructive, consciously excogitative and inventive. In other
words, he has talent, not genius. Genius does what it must, talent what
it can. The man of genius does that which no one else can do. His work
is the essential and unique expression of himself. He does it without
being aware how he does it. It is as much an integral part of him as the
pitch of his voice and his unconscious manner. He is conscious only of
the throes of productive travail; of the antecedents of his creation he
is ignorant. Many artists essay to paint their own portraits and many
succeed in portraying themselves spiritually and somatically as no one
else can. Mr. Wilson did with words for himself in describing Jefferson
Davis what artists do with pigments.

     "What he did lack was wisdom in dealing with men, willingness to
     take the judgment of others in critical matters of business, the
     instinct which recognizes ability in others and trusts it to the
     utmost to play its independent part. He too much loved to rule, had
     too overweening confidence in himself, and took leave to act as if
     he understood much better than those who were in actual command
     what should be done in the field. He let prejudice and his own
     wilful judgment dictate to him.... He sought to control too many
     things with too feminine a jealousy of any rivalry in authority."

True, too true; but not nearly so true of Jefferson Davis as of Woodrow
Wilson. Posterity profited by the limitations of the former, and we are
paying and mankind will continue to pay for those of the latter.

Mr. Wilson is a brilliant, calculating, and vindictive man: brilliant in
conception, calculating in motive, and vindictive in execution. From the
time of his youth he instructed himself to great purpose. He has made a
careful review and digest of the world's history and he has attempted to
survey the tractless forests and untrodden deserts of the future. From
the activities in the former fields he has evolved a plan which he
believes will make the latter a favorable place for the human race to
display its activities, and he has striven to put that plan into
practice. He concedes that others have looked backward with as
comprehensive an eye as his own; he grants that others have had visions
of the future that are even more penetrating than his own; but _he_ has
the opportunity to try out his plan, and _they_ have not, and he is
unwilling to take them into partnership in the development of the claim
that he has staked out. He cannot do it. It is one of his emotional
limitations. Were he generous, kindly, and humble it would be difficult
to find his like in the flesh or in history. He must be reconciled to
the frowns of his contemporaries, the disparagements of his fellows, and
the scorn of those who have been scorned by him. The world has always
made the possessor of limitations pay the penalty. In his hour of hurt,
if sensitiveness adequate to feel is still vouchsafed him, he may
assuage the pain with the knowledge that posterity will judge him by his
intellectual possessions, not by his emotional deficit.

If we are not satisfied with his conduct as chief magistrate we must do
one of two things. We must either curtail the powers of future
presidents, or we must select presidents for their qualities of heart as
well as mind. Perhaps future candidates for the presidency should be
submitted to psychological tests to determine their intellectual and
emotional coefficients. Those who do not measure up to a certain
standard shall be eliminated.

One of the most unsurmountable obstacles to advancement of an officer in
the army or navy is an annotation of his record by a superior officer as
"temperamentally unfit." From the day that appears underneath his
pedigree there is scarcely any power that can advance him. It may be
that Woodrow Wilson has been "temperamentally unfit" to be President of
the United States, but for any one to say that he has been
intellectually unfit for that office is to utter an absurdity and an
untruth. Had he been baptized in the waters of humility, had his parents
or his pedagogues inoculated him with the vaccine of modesty, had he
during the years of his spiritual growth come under the leavening
influence of love of humanity, had he by taking thought been able to
develop what are considered "human qualities,"--kindliness, sympathy,
and reverence for others,--had he included in his matutinal prayers,
"Let me accomplish, not by might, nor by power, but by spirit," had he
had Lincoln's heart and his own brain, he would be, not one of the
greatest men that America has produced, he might be the greatest. As it
is, his emotional limitations have thwarted his career and dwarfed his
spiritual stature. The American people speak of this as his fault. It is
in reality his misfortune. We laugh at the child who cries when she
finds that her doll, with outward appearance of pulchritude, is filled
with sawdust, but we wail when we find our gods are only human, and we
resent it when our humans err.

Woodrow Wilson is better liked by the people of the world to-day than
any prophet or reformer the world has ever had. He has fewer enemies and
fewer detractors. He should consider himself particularly fortunate, for
he owes his life to it, that he lives in the twentieth century. It is
only a century or two ago, in reality, that they gave up burning at the
stake prophets and reformers, and it is only a few decades ago that they
allowed them to remain in their native land or even to visit it. Critics
and self-constituted judges of his conduct will continue to pour their
vials of wrath upon his head and purge themselves of their contempt for
him, but these are the fertilizers of his intellectual stature.

Woodrow Wilson has had meted out to him more considerate and respectful
consideration than any man who originated stirring impulse that has led
to world renovation. There is a choice between calumniation and
crucifixion.

  Transcriber's note

  _Underscores_ have been used to indicate _italic_ fonts.

  Minor printers errors have been corrected without comment. The
  following words have been added where they seemed to be missing.

  Added "about" to:
  Then came two books about the outgrowth of the military life.

  Added "by" to:
  The next day I went to a midday banquet tendered by Melville E. Stone,
  the general manager of the Associated Press, by the newspaper men of
  Rome.





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