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Title: The Americanization of Edward Bok - The Autobiography of a Dutch Boy Fifty Years After
Author: Bok, Edward William, 1863-1930
Language: English
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THE AMERICANIZATION OF EDWARD BOK

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A DUTCH BOY FIFTY YEARS AFTER

by Edward William Bok (1863-1930)



To the American woman I owe much, but to two women I owe more,
  My mother and my wife.
And to them I dedicate this account of the boy to whom one gave
birth and brought to manhood and the other blessed with all a
home and family may mean.



An Explanation


This book was to have been written in 1914, when I foresaw some leisure
to write it, for I then intended to retire from active editorship. But
the war came, an entirely new set of duties commanded, and the project
was laid aside.

Its title and the form, however, were then chosen. By the form I refer
particularly to the use of the third person. I had always felt the most
effective method of writing an autobiography, for the sake of a better
perspective, was mentally to separate the writer from his subject by
this device.

Moreover, this method came to me very naturally in dealing with the
Edward Bok, editor and publicist, whom I have tried to describe in this
book, because, in many respects, he has had and has been a personality
apart from my private self. I have again and again found myself watching
with intense amusement and interest the Edward Bok of this book at work.
I have, in turn, applauded him and criticised him, as I do in this book.
Not that I ever considered myself bigger or broader than this Edward
Bok: simply that he was different. His tastes, his outlook, his manner
of looking at things were totally at variance with my own. In fact, my
chief difficulty during Edward Bok's directorship of The Ladies' Home
Journal was to abstain from breaking through the editor and revealing my
real self. Several times I did so, and each time I saw how different was
the effect from that when the editorial Edward Bok had been allowed
sway. Little by little I learned to subordinate myself and to let him
have full rein.

But no relief of my life was so great to me personally as his decision
to retire from his editorship. My family and friends were surprised and
amused by my intense and obvious relief when he did so. Only to those
closest to me could I explain the reason for the sense of absolute
freedom and gratitude that I felt.

Since that time my feelings have been an interesting study to myself.
There are no longer two personalities. The Edward Bok of whom I have
written has passed out of my being as completely as if he had never been
there, save for the records and files on my library shelves. It is easy,
therefore, for me to write of him as a personality apart: in fact, I
could not depict him from any other point of view. To write of him in
the first person, as if he were myself, is impossible, for he is not.

The title suggests my principal reason for writing the book. Every life
has some interest and significance; mine, perhaps, a special one. Here
was a little Dutch boy unceremoniously set down in America unable to
make himself understood or even to know what persons were saying; his
education was extremely limited, practically negligible; and yet, by
some curious decree of fate, he was destined to write, for a period of
years, to the largest body of readers ever addressed by an American
editor--the circulation of the magazine he edited running into figures
previously unheard of in periodical literature. He made no pretense to
style or even to composition: his grammar was faulty, as it was natural
it should be, in a language not his own. His roots never went deep, for
the intellectual soil had not been favorable to their growth;--yet, it
must be confessed, he achieved.

But how all this came about, how such a boy, with every disadvantage to
overcome, was able, apparently, to "make good"--this possesses an
interest and for some, perhaps, a value which, after all, is the only
reason for any book.

EDWARD W. BOK
MERION, PENNSYLVANIA, 1920



CONTENTS


An Explanation
An Introduction of Two Persons
I. The First Days in America
II. The First Job: Fifty Cents a Week
III. The Hunger for Self-Education
IV. A Presidential Friend and a Boston Pilgrimage
V. Going to the Theatre with Longfellow
VI. Phillips Brooks's Books and Emerson's Mental Mist
VII. A Plunge into Wall Street
VIII. Starting a Newspaper Syndicate
IX. Association with Henry Ward Beecher
X. The First "Woman's Page," "Literary Leaves," and Entering Scribner's
XI. The Chances for Success
XII. Baptism Under Fire
XIII. Publishing Incidents and Anecdotes
XIV. Last Years in New York
XV. Successful Editorship
XVI. First Years as a Woman's Editor
XVII. Eugene Field's Practical Jokes
XVIII. Building Up a Magazine
XIX. Personality Letters
XX. Meeting a Reverse or Two
XXI. A Signal Piece of Constructive Work
XXII. An Adventure in Civic and Private Art
XXIII. Theodore Roosevelt's Influence
XXIV. Theodore Roosevelt's Anonymous Editorial Work
XXV. The President and the Boy
XXVI. The Literary Back-Stairs
XXVII. Women's Clubs and Woman Suffrage
XXVIII. Going Home with Kipling, and as a Lecturer
XXIX. An Excursion into the Feminine Nature
XXX. Cleaning Up the Patent-Medicine and Other Evils
XXXI. Adventures in Civics
XXXII. A Bewildered Bok
XXXIII. How Millions of People Are Reached
XXXIV. A War Magazine and War Activities
XXXV. At the Battle-Fronts in the Great War
XXXVI. The End of Thirty Years' Editorship
XXXVII. The Third Period
XXXVIII. Where America Fell Short with Me
XXXIX. What I Owe to America
Edward William Bok: Biographical Data
The Expression of a Personal Pleasure



An Introduction of Two Persons

IN WHOSE LIVES ARE FOUND THE SOURCE AND MAINSPRING OF SOME OF THE
EFFORTS OF THE AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK IN HIS LATER YEARS


Along an island in the North Sea, five miles from the Dutch Coast,
stretches a dangerous ledge of rocks that has proved the graveyard of
many a vessel sailing that turbulent sea. On this island once lived a
group of men who, as each vessel was wrecked, looted the vessel and
murdered those of the crew who reached shore. The government of the
Netherlands decided to exterminate the island pirates, and for the job
King William selected a young lawyer at The Hague.

"I want you to clean up that island," was the royal order. It was a
formidable job for a young man of twenty-odd years. By royal
proclamation he was made mayor of the island, and within a year, a court
of law being established, the young attorney was appointed judge; and in
that dual capacity he "cleaned up" the island.

The young man now decided to settle on the island, and began to look
around for a home. It was a grim place, barren of tree or living green
of any kind; it was as if a man had been exiled to Siberia. Still,
argued the young mayor, an ugly place is ugly only because it is not
beautiful. And beautiful he determined this island should be.

One day the young mayor-judge called together his council. "We must have
trees," he said; "we can make this island a spot of beauty if we will!"
But the practical seafaring men demurred; the little money they had was
needed for matters far more urgent than trees.

"Very well," was the mayor's decision--and little they guessed what the
words were destined to mean--"I will do it myself." And that year he
planted one hundred trees, the first the island had ever seen.

"Too cold," said the islanders; "the severe north winds and storms will
kill them all."

"Then I will plant more," said the unperturbed mayor. And for the fifty
years that he lived on the island he did so. He planted trees each year;
and, moreover, he had deeded to the island government land which he
turned into public squares and parks, and where each spring he set out
shrubs and plants.

Moistened by the salt mist the trees did not wither, but grew
prodigiously. In all that expanse of turbulent sea--and only those who
have seen the North Sea in a storm know how turbulent it can be--there
was not a foot of ground on which the birds, storm-driven across the
water-waste, could rest in their flight. Hundreds of dead birds often
covered the surface of the sea. Then one day the trees had grown tall
enough to look over the sea, and, spent and driven, the first birds came
and rested in their leafy shelter. And others came and found protection,
and gave their gratitude vent in song. Within a few years so many birds
had discovered the trees in this new island home that they attracted the
attention not only of the native islanders but also of the people on the
shore five miles distant, and the island became famous as the home of
the rarest and most beautiful birds. So grateful were the birds for
their resting-place that they chose one end of the island as a special
spot for the laying of their eggs and the raising of their young, and
they fairly peopled it. It was not long before ornithologists from
various parts of the world came to "Eggland," as the farthermost point
of the island came to be known, to see the marvellous sight, not of
thousands but of hundreds of thousands of bird-eggs.

A pair of storm-driven nightingales had now found the island and mated
there; their wonderful notes thrilled even the souls of the natives; and
as dusk fell upon the seabound strip of land the women and children
would come to "the square" and listen to the evening notes of the birds
of golden song. The two nightingales soon grew into a colony, and within
a few years so rich was the island in its nightingales that over to the
Dutch coast and throughout the land and into other countries spread the
fame of "The Island of Nightingales."

Meantime, the young mayor-judge, grown to manhood, had kept on planting
trees each year, setting out his shrubbery and plants, until their
verdure now beautifully shaded the quaint, narrow lanes, and transformed
into cool wooded roads what once had been only barren sun-baked wastes.
Artists began to hear of the place and brought their canvases, and on
the walls of hundreds of homes throughout the world hang to-day bits of
the beautiful lanes and wooded spots of "The Island of Nightingales."
The American artist William M. Chase took his pupils there almost
annually. "In all the world to-day," he declared to his students, as
they exclaimed at the natural cool restfulness of the island, "there is
no more beautiful place."

The trees are now majestic in their height of forty or more feet, for it
is nearly a hundred years since the young attorney went to the island
and planted the first tree; to-day the churchyard where he lies is a
bower of cool green, with the trees that he planted dropping their
moisture on the lichen-covered stone on his grave.

This much did one man do. But he did more.

After he had been on the barren island two years he went to the mainland
one day, and brought back with him a bride. It was a bleak place for a
bridal home, but the young wife had the qualities of the husband. "While
you raise your trees," she said, "I will raise our children." And within
a score of years the young bride sent thirteen happy-faced,
well-brought-up children over that island, and there was reared a home
such as is given to few. Said a man who subsequently married a daughter
of that home: "It was such a home that once you had been in it you felt
you must be of it, and that if you couldn't marry one of the daughters
you would have been glad to have married the cook."

One day when the children had grown to man's and woman's estate the
mother called them all together and said to them, "I want to tell you
the story of your father and of this island," and she told them the
simple story that is written here.

"And now," she said, "as you go out into the world I want each of you to
take with you the spirit of your father's work, and each in your own way
and place, to do as he has done: make you the world a bit more beautiful
and better because you have been in it. That is your mother's message to
you."

The first son to leave the island home went with a band of hardy men to
South Africa, where they settled and became known as "the Boers."
Tirelessly they worked at the colony until towns and cities sprang up
and a new nation came into being: The Transvaal Republic. The son became
secretary of state of the new country, and to-day the United States of
South Africa bears tribute, in part, to the mother's message to "make
the world a bit more beautiful and better."

The second son left home for the Dutch mainland, where he took charge of
a small parish; and when he had finished his work he was mourned by king
and peasant as one of the leading clergymen of his time and people.

A third son, scorning his own safety, plunged into the boiling surf on
one of those nights of terror so common to that coast, rescued a
half-dead sailor, carried him to his father's house, and brought him
back to a life of usefulness that gave the world a record of
imperishable value. For the half-drowned sailor was Heinrich Schliemann,
the famous explorer of the dead cities of Troy.

The first daughter now left the island nest; to her inspiration her
husband owed, at his life's close, a shelf of works in philosophy which
to-day are among the standard books of their class.

The second daughter worked beside her husband until she brought him to
be regarded as one of the ablest preachers of his land, speaking for
more than forty years the message of man's betterment.

To another son it was given to sit wisely in the councils of his land;
another followed the footsteps of his father. Another daughter, refusing
marriage for duty, ministered unto and made a home for one whose eyes
could see not.

So they went out into the world, the girls and boys of that island home,
each carrying the story of their father's simple but beautiful work and
the remembrance of their mother's message. Not one from that home but
did well his or her work in the world; some greater, some smaller, but
each left behind the traces of a life well spent.

And, as all good work is immortal, so to-day all over the world goes on
the influence of this one man and one woman, whose life on that little
Dutch island changed its barren rocks to a bower of verdure, a home for
the birds and the song of the nightingale. The grandchildren have gone
to the four corners of the globe, and are now the generation of
workers--some in the far East Indies; others in Africa; still others in
our own land of America. But each has tried, according to the talents
given, to carry out the message of that day, to tell the story of the
grandfather's work; just as it is told here by the author of this book,
who, in the efforts of his later years, has tried to carry out, so far
as opportunity has come to him, the message of his grandmother:

"Make you the world a bit more beautiful and better because you have
been in it."



The Americanization of Edward Bok



I. The First Days in America


The Leviathan of the Atlantic Ocean, in 1870, was The Queen, and when
she was warped into her dock on September 20 of that year, she
discharged, among her passengers, a family of four from the Netherlands
who were to make an experiment of Americanization.

The father, a man bearing one of the most respected names in the
Netherlands, had acquired wealth and position for himself; unwise
investments, however, had swept away his fortune, and in preference to a
new start in his own land, he had decided to make the new beginning in
the United States, where a favorite brother-in-law had gone several
years before. But that, never a simple matter for a man who has reached
forty-two, is particularly difficult for a foreigner in a strange land.
This fact he and his wife were to find out. The wife, also carefully
reared, had been accustomed to a scale of living which she had now to
abandon. Her Americanization experiment was to compel her, for the first
time in her life, to become a housekeeper without domestic help. There
were two boys: the elder, William, was eight and a half years of age;
the younger, in nineteen days from his landing-date, was to celebrate
his seventh birthday.

This younger boy was Edward William Bok. He had, according to the Dutch
custom, two other names, but he had decided to leave those in the
Netherlands. And the American public was, in later years, to omit for
him the "William."

Edward's first six days in the United States were spent in New York, and
then he was taken to Brooklyn, where he was destined to live for nearly
twenty years.

Thanks to the linguistic sense inherent in the Dutch, and to an
educational system that compels the study of languages, English was
already familiar to the father and mother. But to the two sons, who had
barely learned the beginnings of their native tongue, the English
language was as a closed book. It seemed a cruel decision of the father
to put his two boys into a public school in Brooklyn, but he argued that
if they were to become Americans, the sooner they became part of the
life of the country and learned its language for themselves, the better.
And so, without the ability to make known the slightest want or to
understand a single word, the morning after their removal to Brooklyn,
the two boys were taken by their father to a public school.

The American public-school teacher was perhaps even less well equipped
in those days than she is to-day to meet the needs of two Dutch boys who
could not understand a word she said, and who could only wonder what it
was all about. The brothers did not even have the comfort of each
other's company, for, graded by age, they were placed in separate
classes.

Nor was the American boy of 1870 a whit less cruel than is the American
boy of 1920; and he was none the less loath to show that cruelty. This
trait was evident at the first recess of the first day at school. At the
dismissal, the brothers naturally sought each other, only to find
themselves surrounded by a group of tormentors who were delighted to
have such promising objects for their fun. And of this opportunity they
made the most. There was no form of petty cruelty boys' minds could
devise that was not inflicted upon the two helpless strangers. Edward
seemed to look particularly inviting, and nicknaming him "Dutchy" they
devoted themselves at each noon recess and after school to inflicting
their cruelties upon him.

Louis XIV may have been right when he said that "every new language
requires a new soul," but Edward Bok knew that while spoken languages
might differ, there is one language understood by boys the world over.
And with this language Edward decided to do some experimenting. After a
few days at school, he cast his eyes over the group of his tormentors,
picked out one who seemed to him the ringleader, and before the boy was
aware of what had happened, Edward Bok was in the full swing of his
first real experiment with Americanization. Of course the American boy
retaliated. But the boy from the Netherlands had not been born and
brought up in the muscle-building air of the Dutch dikes for nothing,
and after a few moments he found himself looking down on his tormentor
and into the eyes of a crowd of very respectful boys and giggling girls
who readily made a passageway for his brother and himself when they
indicated a desire to leave the schoolyard and go home.

Edward now felt that his Americanization had begun; but, always
believing that a thing begun must be carried to a finish, he took, or
gave--it depends upon the point of view--two or three more lessons in
this particular phase of Americanization before he convinced these
American schoolboys that it might be best for them to call a halt upon
further excursions in torment.

At the best, they were difficult days at school for a boy of six without
the language. But the national linguistic gift inherent in the Dutch
race came to the boy's rescue, and as the roots of the Anglo-Saxon lie
in the Frisian tongue, and thus in the language of his native country,
Edward soon found that with a change of vowel here and there the English
language was not so difficult of conquest. At all events, he set out to
master it.

But his fatal gift of editing, although its possession was unknown to
him, began to assert itself when, just as he seemed to be getting along
fairly well, he balked at following the Spencerian style of writing in
his copybooks. Instinctively he rebelled at the flourishes which
embellished that form of handwriting. He seemed to divine somehow that
such penmanship could not be useful or practicable for after life, and
so, with that Dutch stolidity that, once fixed, knows no altering, he
refused to copy his writing lessons. Of course trouble immediately
ensued between Edward and his teacher. Finding herself against a literal
blank wall--for Edward simply refused, but had not the gift of English
with which to explain his refusal--the teacher decided to take the
matter to the male principal of the school. She explained that she had
kept Edward after school for as long as two hours to compel him to copy
his Spencerian lesson, but that the boy simply sat quiet. He was
perfectly well-behaved, she explained, but as to his lesson, he would
attempt absolutely nothing.

It was the prevailing custom in the public schools of 1870 to punish
boys by making them hold out the palms of their hands, upon which the
principal would inflict blows with a rattan. The first time Edward was
punished in this way, his hand became so swollen he wondered at a system
of punishment which rendered him incapable of writing, particularly as
the discerning principal had chosen the boy's right hand upon which to
rain the blows. Edward was told to sit down at the principal's own desk
and copy the lesson. He sat, but he did not write. He would not for one
thing, and he could not if he would. After half an hour of purposeless
sitting, the principal ordered Edward again to stand up and hold out his
hand; and once more the rattan fell in repeated blows. Of course it did
no good, and as it was then five o'clock, and the principal had
inflicted all the punishment that the law allowed, and as he probably
wanted to go home as much as Edward did, he dismissed the sore-handed
but more-than-ever-determined Dutch boy.

Edward went home to his father, exhibited his swollen hand, explained
the reason, and showed the penmanship lesson which he had refused to
copy. It is a singular fact that even at that age he already understood
Americanization enough to realize that to cope successfully with any
American institution, one must be constructive as well as destructive.
He went to his room, brought out a specimen of Italian handwriting which
he had seen in a newspaper, and explained to his father that this
simpler penmanship seemed to him better for practical purposes than the
curlicue fancifully embroidered Spencerian style; that if he had to
learn penmanship, why not learn the system that was of more possible use
in after life?

Now, your Dutchman is nothing if not practical. He is very simple and
direct in his nature, and is very likely to be equally so in his mental
view. Edward's father was distinctly interested--very much amused, as he
confessed to the boy in later years--in his son's discernment of the
futility of the Spencerian style of penmanship. He agreed with the boy,
and, next morning, accompanied him to school and to the principal. The
two men were closeted together, and when they came out Edward was sent
to his classroom. For some weeks he was given no penmanship lessons, and
then a new copy-book was given him with a much simpler style. He pounced
upon it, and within a short time stood at the head of his class in
writing.

The same instinct that was so often to lead Edward aright in his future
life, at its very beginning served him in a singularly valuable way in
directing his attention to the study of penmanship; for it was through
his legible handwriting that later, in the absence of the typewriter, he
was able to secure and satisfactorily fill three positions which were to
lead to his final success.

Years afterward Edward had the satisfaction of seeing public-school
pupils given a choice of penmanship lessons: one along the flourish
lines and the other of a less ornate order. Of course, the boy never
associated the incident of his refusal with the change until later when
his mother explained to him that the principal of the school, of whom
the father had made a warm friend, was so impressed by the boy's simple
but correct view, that he took up the matter with the board of
education, and a choice of systems was considered and later decided
upon.

From this it will be seen that, unconsciously, Edward Bok had started
upon his career of editing!



II. The First Job: Fifty Cents a Week


The Elder Bok did not find his "lines cast in pleasant places" in the
United States. He found himself, professionally, unable to adjust the
methods of his own land and of a lifetime to those of a new country. As
a result the fortunes of the transplanted family did not flourish, and
Edward soon saw his mother physically failing under burdens to which her
nature was not accustomed nor her hands trained. Then he and his brother
decided to relieve their mother in the housework by rising early in the
morning, building the fire, preparing breakfast, and washing the dishes
before they went to school. After school they gave up their play hours,
and swept and scrubbed, and helped their mother to prepare the evening
meal and wash the dishes afterward. It was a curious coincidence that it
should fall upon Edward thus to get a first-hand knowledge of woman's
housework which was to stand him in such practical stead in later years.

It was not easy for the parents to see their boys thus forced to do work
which only a short while before had been done by a retinue of servants.
And the capstone of humiliation seemed to be when Edward and his
brother, after having for several mornings found no kindling wood or
coal to build the fire, decided to go out of evenings with a basket and
pick up what wood they could find in neighboring lots, and the bits of
coal spilled from the coal-bin of the grocery-store, or left on the
curbs before houses where coal had been delivered. The mother
remonstrated with the boys, although in her heart she knew that the
necessity was upon them. But Edward had been started upon his
Americanization career, and answered: "This is America, where one can do
anything if it is honest. So long as we don't steal the wood or coal,
why shouldn't we get it?" And, turning away, the saddened mother said
nothing.

But while the doing of these homely chores was very effective in
relieving the untrained and tired mother, it added little to the family
income. Edward looked about and decided that the time had come for him,
young as he was, to begin some sort of wage-earning. But how and where?
The answer he found one afternoon when standing before the shop-window
of a baker in the neighborhood. The owner of the bakery, who had just
placed in the window a series of trays filled with buns, tarts, and
pies, came outside to look at the display. He found the hungry boy
wistfully regarding the tempting-looking wares.

"Look pretty good, don't they?" asked the baker.

"They would," answered the Dutch boy with his national passion for
cleanliness, "if your window were clean."

"That's so, too," mused the baker. "Perhaps you'll clean it."

"I will," was the laconic reply. And Edward Bok, there and then, got his
first job. He went in, found a step-ladder, and put so much Dutch energy
into the cleaning of the large show-window that the baker immediately
arranged with him to clean it every Tuesday and Friday afternoon after
school. The salary was to be fifty cents per week!

But one day, after he had finished cleaning the window, and the baker
was busy in the rear of the store, a customer came in, and Edward
ventured to wait on her. Dexterously he wrapped up for another the
fragrant currant-buns for which his young soul--and stomach--so
hungered! The baker watched him, saw how quickly and smilingly he served
the customer, and offered Edward an extra dollar per week if he would
come in afternoons and sell behind the counter. He immediately entered
into the bargain with the understanding that, in addition to his salary
of a dollar and a half per week, he should each afternoon carry home
from the good things unsold a moderate something as a present to his
mother. The baker agreed, and Edward promised to come each afternoon
except Saturday.

"Want to play ball, hey?" said the baker.

"Yes, I want to play ball," replied the boy, but he was not reserving
his Saturday afternoons for games, although, boy-like, that might be his
preference.

Edward now took on for each Saturday morning--when, of course, there was
no school--the delivery route of a weekly paper called the South
Brooklyn Advocate. He had offered to deliver the entire neighborhood
edition of the paper for one dollar, thus increasing his earning
capacity to two dollars and a half per week.

Transportation, in those days in Brooklyn, was by horse-cars, and the
car-line on Smith Street nearest Edward's home ran to Coney Island. Just
around the corner where Edward lived the cars stopped to water the
horses on their long haul. The boy noticed that the men jumped from the
open cars in summer, ran into the cigar-store before which the
watering-trough was placed, and got a drink of water from the ice-cooler
placed near the door. But that was not so easily possible for the women,
and they, especially the children, were forced to take the long ride
without a drink. It was this that he had in mind when he reserved his
Saturday afternoon to "play ball."

Here was an opening, and Edward decided to fill it. He bought a shining
new pail, screwed three hooks on the edge from which he hung three clean
shimmering glasses, and one Saturday afternoon when a car stopped the
boy leaped on, tactfully asked the conductor if he did not want a drink,
and then proceeded to sell his water, cooled with ice, at a cent a glass
to the passengers. A little experience showed that he exhausted a pail
with every two cars, and each pail netted him thirty cents. Of course
Sunday was a most profitable day; and after going to Sunday-school in
the morning, he did a further Sabbath service for the rest of the day by
refreshing tired mothers and thirsty children on the Coney Island
cars--at a penny a glass!

But the profit of six dollars which Edward was now reaping in his newly
found "bonanza" on Saturday and Sunday afternoons became apparent to
other boys, and one Saturday the young ice-water boy found that he had a
competitor; then two and soon three. Edward immediately met the
challenge; he squeezed half a dozen lemons into each pail of water,
added some sugar, tripled his charge, and continued his monopoly by
selling "Lemonade, three cents a glass." Soon more passengers were
asking for lemonade than for plain drinking-water!

One evening Edward went to a party of young people, and his latent
journalistic sense whispered to him that his young hostess might like to
see her social affair in print. He went home, wrote up the party, being
careful to include the name of every boy and girl present, and next
morning took the account to the city editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, with
the sage observation that every name mentioned in that paragraph
represented a buyer of the paper, who would like to see his or her name
in print, and that if the editor had enough of these reports he might
very advantageously strengthen the circulation of The Eagle. The editor
was not slow to see the point, and offered Edward three dollars a column
for such reports. On his way home, Edward calculated how many parties he
would have to attend a week to furnish a column, and decided that he
would organize a corps of private reporters himself. Forthwith, he saw
every girl and boy he knew, got each to promise to write for him an
account of each party he or she attended or gave, and laid great stress
on a full recital of names. Within a few weeks, Edward was turning in to
The Eagle from two to three columns a week; his pay was raised to four
dollars a column; the editor was pleased in having started a department
that no other paper carried, and the "among those present" at the
parties all bought the paper and were immensely gratified to see their
names.

So everybody was happy, and Edward Bok, as a full-fledged reporter, had
begun his journalistic career.

It is curious how deeply embedded in his nature, even in his earliest
years, was the inclination toward the publishing business. The word
"curious" is used here because Edward is the first journalist in the Bok
family in all the centuries through which it extends in Dutch history.
On his father's side, there was a succession of jurists. On the mother's
side, not a journalist is visible.

Edward attended the Sunday-school of the Carroll Park Methodist
Episcopal Church, in Brooklyn, of which a Mr. Elkins was superintendent.
One day he learned that Mr. Elkins was associated with the publishing
house of Harper and Brothers. Edward had heard his father speak of
Harper's Weekly and of the great part it had played in the Civil War;
his father also brought home an occasional copy of Harper's Weekly and
of Harper's Magazine. He had seen Harper's Young People; the name of
Harper and Brothers was on some of his school-books; and he pictured in
his mind how wonderful it must be for a man to be associated with
publishers of periodicals that other people read, and books that other
folks studied. The Sunday-school superintendent henceforth became a
figure of importance in Edward's eyes; many a morning the boy hastened
from home long before the hour for school, and seated himself on the
steps of the Elkins house under the pretext of waiting for Mr. Elkins's
son to go to school, but really for the secret purpose of seeing Mr.
Elkins set forth to engage in the momentous business of making books and
periodicals. Edward would look after the superintendent's form until it
was lost to view; then, with a sigh, he would go to school, forgetting
all about the Elkins boy whom he had told the father he had come to call
for!

One day Edward was introduced to a girl whose father, he learned, was
editor of the New York Weekly. Edward could not quite place this
periodical; he had never seen it, he had never heard of it. So he bought
a copy, and while its contents seemed strange, and its air unfamiliar in
comparison with the magazines he found in his home, still an editor was
an editor. He was certainly well worth knowing. So he sought his newly
made young lady friend, asked permission to call upon her, and to
Edward's joy was introduced to her father. It was enough for Edward to
look furtively at the editor upon his first call, and being encouraged
to come again, he promptly did so the next evening. The daughter has
long since passed away, and so it cannot hurt her feelings now to
acknowledge that for years Edward paid court to her only that he might
know her father, and have those talks with him about editorial methods
that filled him with ever-increasing ambition to tread the path that
leads to editorial tribulations.

But what with helping his mother, tending the baker's shop in
after-school hours, serving his paper route, plying his street-car
trade, and acting as social reporter, it soon became evident to Edward
that he had not much time to prepare his school lessons. By a supreme
effort, he managed to hold his own in his class, but no more.
Instinctively, he felt that he was not getting all that he might from
his educational opportunities, yet the need for him to add to the family
income was, if anything, becoming greater. The idea of leaving school
was broached to his mother, but she rebelled. She told the boy that he
was earning something now and helping much. Perhaps the tide with the
father would turn and he would find the place to which his unquestioned
talents entitled him. Finally the father did. He associated himself with
the Western Union Telegraph Company as translator, a position for which
his easy command of languages admirably fitted him. Thus, for a time,
the strain upon the family exchequer was lessened.

But the American spirit of initiative had entered deep into the soul of
Edward Bok. The brother had left school a year before, and found a place
as messenger in a lawyer's office; and when one evening Edward heard his
father say that the office boy in his department had left, he asked that
he be allowed to leave school, apply for the open position, and get the
rest of his education in the great world itself. It was not easy for the
parents to see the younger son leave school at so early an age, but the
earnestness of the boy prevailed.

And so, at the age of thirteen, Edward Bok left school, and on Monday,
August 7, 1876, he became office boy in the electricians' department of
the Western Union Telegraph Company at six dollars and twenty-five cents
per week.

And, as such things will fall out in this curiously strange world, it
happened that as Edward drew up his chair for the first time to his desk
to begin his work on that Monday morning, there had been born in Boston,
exactly twelve hours before, a girl-baby who was destined to become his
wife. Thus at the earliest possible moment after her birth, Edward Bok
started to work for her!



III. The Hunger for Self-Education


With school-days ended, the question of self-education became an
absorbing thought with Edward Bok. He had mastered a schoolboy's
English, but seven years of public-school education was hardly a basis
on which to build the work of a lifetime. He saw each day in his duties
as office boy some of the foremost men of the time. It was the period of
William H. Vanderbilt's ascendancy in Western Union control; and the
railroad millionnaire and his companions, Hamilton McK. Twombly, James
H. Banker, Samuel F. Barger, Alonzo B. Cornell, Augustus Schell, William
Orton, were objects of great interest to the young office boy. Alexander
Graham Bell and Thomas A. Edison were also constant visitors to the
department. He knew that some of these men, too, had been deprived of
the advantage of collegiate training, and yet they had risen to the top.
But how? The boy decided to read about these men and others, and find
out. He could not, however, afford the separate biographies, so he went
to the libraries to find a compendium that would authoritatively tell
him of all successful men. He found it in Appleton's Encyclopedia, and,
determining to have only the best, he saved his luncheon money, walked
instead of riding the five miles to his Brooklyn home, and, after a
period of saving, had his reward in the first purchase from his own
earnings: a set of the Encyclopedia. He now read about all the
successful men, and was encouraged to find that in many cases their
beginnings had been as modest as his own, and their opportunities of
education as limited.

One day it occurred to him to test the accuracy of the biographies he
was reading. James A. Garfield was then spoken of for the presidency;
Edward wondered whether it was true that the man who was likely to be
President of the United States had once been a boy on the tow-path, and
with a simple directness characteristic of his Dutch training, wrote to
General Garfield, asking whether the boyhood episode was true, and
explaining why he asked. Of course any public man, no matter how large
his correspondence, is pleased to receive an earnest letter from an
information-seeking boy. General Garfield answered warmly and fully.
Edward showed the letter to his father, who told the boy that it was
valuable and he should keep it. This was a new idea. He followed it
further: if one such letter was valuable, how much more valuable would
be a hundred! If General Garfield answered him, would not other famous
men? Why not begin a collection of autograph letters? Everybody
collected something.

Edward had collected postage-stamps, and the hobby had, incidentally,
helped him wonderfully in his study of geography. Why should not
autograph letters from famous persons be of equal service in his
struggle for self-education? Not simple autographs--they were
meaningless; but actual letters which might tell him something useful.
It never occurred to the boy that these men might not answer him.

So he took his Encyclopedia--its trustworthiness now established in his
mind by General Garfield's letter--and began to study the lives of
successful men and women. Then, with boyish frankness, he wrote on some
mooted question in one famous person's life; he asked about the date of
some important event in another's, not given in the Encyclopedia; or he
asked one man why he did this or why some other man did that.

Most interesting were, of course, the replies. Thus General Grant
sketched on an improvised map the exact spot where General Lee
surrendered to him; Longfellow told him how he came to write
"Excelsior"; Whittier told the story of "The Barefoot Boy"; Tennyson
wrote out a stanza or two of "The Brook," upon condition that Edward
would not again use the word "awful," which the poet said "is slang for
'very,'" and "I hate slang."

One day the boy received a letter from the Confederate general Jubal A.
Early, giving the real reason why he burned Chambersburg. A friend
visiting Edward's father, happening to see the letter, recognized in it
a hitherto-missing bit of history, and suggested that it be published in
the New York Tribune. The letter attracted wide attention and provoked
national discussion.

This suggested to the editor of The Tribune that Edward might have other
equally interesting letters; so he despatched a reporter to the boy's
home. This reporter was Ripley Hitchcock, who afterward became literary
adviser for the Appletons and Harpers. Of course Hitchcock at once saw a
"story" in the boy's letters, and within a few days The Tribune appeared
with a long article on its principal news page giving an account of the
Brooklyn boy's remarkable letters and how he had secured them. The
Brooklyn Eagle quickly followed with a request for an interview; the
Boston Globe followed suit; the Philadelphia Public Ledger sent its New
York correspondent; and before Edward was aware of it, newspapers in
different parts of the country were writing about "the well-known
Brooklyn autograph collector."

Edward Bok was quick to see the value of the publicity which had so
suddenly come to him. He received letters from other autograph
collectors all over the country who sought to "exchange" with him.
References began to creep into letters from famous persons to whom he
had written, saying they had read about his wonderful collection and
were proud to be included in it. George W. Childs, of Philadelphia,
himself the possessor of probably one of the finest collections of
autograph letters in the country, asked Edward to come to Philadelphia
and bring his collection with him--which he did, on the following
Sunday, and brought it back greatly enriched.

Several of the writers felt an interest in a boy who frankly told them
that he wanted to educate himself, and asked Edward to come and see
them. Accordingly, when they lived in New York or Brooklyn, or came to
these cities on a visit, he was quick to avail himself of their
invitations. He began to note each day in the newspapers the
"distinguished arrivals" at the New York hotels; and when any one with
whom he had corresponded arrived, Edward would, after business hours, go
up-town, pay his respects, and thank him in person for his letters. No
person was too high for Edward's boyish approach; President Garfield,
General Grant, General Sherman, President Hayes--all were called upon,
and all received the boy graciously and were interested in the problem
of his self-education. It was a veritable case of making friends on
every hand; friends who were to be of the greatest help and value to the
boy in his after-years, although he had no conception of it at the time.

The Fifth Avenue Hotel, in those days the stopping-place of the majority
of the famous men and women visiting New York, represented to the young
boy who came to see these celebrities the very pinnacle of opulence.
Often while waiting to be received by some dignitary, he wondered how
one could acquire enough means to live at a place of such luxury. The
main dining-room, to the boy's mind, was an object of special interest.
He would purposely sneak up-stairs and sit on one of the soft sofas in
the foyer simply to see the well-dressed diners go in and come out.
Edward would speculate on whether the time would ever come when he could
dine in that wonderful room just once!

One evening he called, after the close of business, upon General and
Mrs. Grant, whom he had met before, and who had expressed a desire to
see his collection. It can readily be imagined what a red-letter day it
made in the boy's life to have General Grant say: "It might be better
for us all to go down to dinner first and see the collection afterward."
Edward had purposely killed time between five and seven o'clock,
thinking that the general's dinner-hour, like his own, was at six. He
had allowed an hour for the general to eat his dinner, only to find that
he was still to begin it. The boy could hardly believe his ears, and
unable to find his voice, he failed to apologize for his modest suit or
his general after-business appearance.

As in a dream he went down in the elevator with his host and hostess,
and when the party of three faced toward the dining-room entrance, so
familiar to the boy, he felt as if his legs must give way under him.
There have since been other red-letter days in Edward Bok's life, but
the moment that still stands out preeminent is that when two colored
head waiters at the dining-room entrance, whom he had so often watched,
bowed low and escorted the party to their table. At last, he was in that
sumptuous dining-hall. The entire room took on the picture of one great
eye, and that eye centred on the party of three--as, in fact, it
naturally would. But Edward felt that the eye was on him, wondering why
he should be there.

What he ate and what he said he does not recall. General Grant, not a
voluble talker himself, gently drew the boy out, and Mrs. Grant seconded
him, until toward the close of the dinner he heard himself talking. He
remembers that he heard his voice, but what that voice said is all dim
to him. One act stamped itself on his mind. The dinner ended with a
wonderful dish of nuts and raisins, and just before the party rose from
the table Mrs. Grant asked the waiter to bring her a paper bag. Into
this she emptied the entire dish, and at the close of the evening she
gave it to Edward "to eat on the way home." It was a wonderful evening,
afterward up-stairs, General Grant smoking the inevitable cigar, and
telling stories as he read the letters of different celebrities. Over
those of Confederate generals he grew reminiscent; and when he came to a
letter from General Sherman, Edward remembers that he chuckled audibly,
reread it, and then turning to Mrs. Grant, said: "Julia, listen to this
from Sherman. Not bad." The letter he read was this:

"Dear Mr. Bok:--

"I prefer not to make scraps of sentimental writing. When I write
anything I want it to be real and connected in form, as, for
instance, in your quotation from Lord Lytton's play of
'Richelieu,' 'The pen is mightier than the sword.' Lord Lytton
would never have put his signature to so naked a sentiment.
Surely I will not.

"In the text there was a prefix or qualification:

  "Beneath the rule of men entirely great
  The pen is mightier than the sword.

"Now, this world does not often present the condition of facts
herein described. Men entirely great are very rare indeed,
and even Washington, who approached greatness as near as any
mortal, found good use for the sword and the pen, each in its
proper sphere.

"You and I have seen the day when a great and good man ruled this
country (Lincoln) who wielded a powerful and prolific pen, and
yet had to call to his assistance a million of flaming swords.

"No, I cannot subscribe to your sentiment, 'The pen is mightier
than the sword,' which you ask me to write, because it is not true.

"Rather, in the providence of God, there is a time for all things;
a time when the sword may cut the Gordian knot, and set free the
principles of right and justice, bound up in the meshes of hatred,
revenge, and tyranny, that the pens of mighty men like Clay,
Webster, Crittenden, and Lincoln were unable to disentangle.

"Wishing you all success, I am, with respect, your friend,

"W. T. Sherman."

Mrs. Grant had asked Edward to send her a photograph of himself, and
after one had been taken, the boy took it to the Fifth Avenue Hotel,
intending to ask the clerk to send it to her room. Instead, he met
General and Mrs. Grant just coming from the elevator, going out to
dinner. The boy told them his errand, and said he would have the
photograph sent up-stairs.

"I am so sorry we are just going out to dinner," said Mrs. Grant, "for
the general had some excellent photographs just taken of himself, and he
signed one for you, and put it aside, intending to send it to you when
yours came." Then, turning to the general, she said: "Ulysses, send up
for it. We have a few moments."

"I'll go and get it. I know just where it is," returned the general.
"Let me have yours," he said, turning to Edward. "I am glad to exchange
photographs with you, boy."

To Edward's surprise, when the general returned he brought with him, not
a duplicate of the small _carte-de-visite_ size which he had given the
general--all that he could afford--but a large, full cabinet size.

"They make 'em too big," said the general, as he handed it to Edward.

But the boy didn't think so!

That evening was one that the boy was long to remember. It suddenly came
to him that he had read a few days before of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln's
arrival in New York at Doctor Holbrook's sanitarium. Thither Edward
went; and within half an hour from the time he had been talking with
General Grant he was sitting at the bedside of Mrs. Lincoln, showing her
the wonderful photograph just presented to him. Edward saw that the
widow of the great Lincoln did not mentally respond to his pleasure in
his possession. It was apparent even to the boy that mental and physical
illness had done their work with the frail frame. But he had the memory,
at least, of having got that close to the great President.

  Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, October 13th 1881

The eventful evening, however, was not yet over. Edward had boarded a
Broadway stage to take him to his Brooklyn home when, glancing at the
newspaper of a man sitting next to him, he saw the headline: "Jefferson
Davis arrives in New York." He read enough to see that the Confederate
President was stopping at the Metropolitan Hotel, in lower Broadway, and
as he looked out of the stage-window the sign "Metropolitan Hotel"
stared him in the face. In a moment he was out of the stage; he wrote a
little note, asked the clerk to send it to Mr. Davis, and within five
minutes was talking to the Confederate President and telling of his
remarkable evening.

Mr. Davis was keenly interested in the coincidence and in the boy before
him. He asked about the famous collection, and promised to secure for
Edward a letter written by each member of the Confederate Cabinet. This
he subsequently did. Edward remained with Mr. Davis until ten o'clock,
and that evening brought about an interchange of letters between the
Brooklyn boy and Mr. Davis at Beauvoir, Mississippi, that lasted until
the latter passed away.

Edward was fast absorbing a tremendous quantity of biographical
information about the most famous men and women of his time, and he was
compiling a collection of autograph letters that the newspapers had made
famous throughout the country. He was ruminating over his possessions
one day, and wondering to what practical use he could put his
collection; for while it was proving educative to a wonderful degree, it
was, after all, a hobby, and a hobby means expense. His autograph quest
cost him stationery, postage, car-fare--all outgo. But it had brought
him no income, save a rich mental revenue. And the boy and his family
needed money. He did not know, then, the value of a background.

He was thinking along this line in a restaurant when a man sitting next
to him opened a box of cigarettes, and taking a picture out of it threw
it on the floor. Edward picked it up, thinking it might be a "prospect"
for his collection of autograph letters. It was the picture of a
well-known actress. He then recalled an advertisement announcing that
this particular brand of cigarettes contained, in each package, a
lithographed portrait of some famous actor or actress, and that if the
purchaser would collect these he would, in the end, have a valuable
album of the greatest actors and actresses of the day. Edward turned the
picture over, only to find a blank reverse side. "All very well," he
thought, "but what does a purchaser have, after all, in the end, but a
lot of pictures? Why don't they use the back of each picture, and tell
what each did: a little biography? Then it would be worth keeping." With
his passion for self-education, the idea appealed very strongly to him;
and believing firmly that there were others possessed of the same
thirst, he set out the next day, in his luncheon hour, to find out who
made the picture.

At the office of the cigarette company he learned that the making of the
pictures was in the hands of the Knapp Lithographic Company. The
following luncheon hour, Edward sought the offices of the company, and
explained his idea to Mr. Joseph P. Knapp, now the president of the
American Lithograph Company.

"I'll give you ten dollars apiece if you will write me a
one-hundred-word biography of one hundred famous Americans," was Mr.
Knapp's instant reply. "Send me a list, and group them, as, for
instance: presidents and vice-presidents, famous soldiers, actors,
authors, etc."

"And thus," says Mr. Knapp, as he tells the tale to-day, "I gave Edward
Bok his first literary commission, and started him off on his literary
career."

And it is true.

But Edward soon found the Lithograph Company calling for "copy," and,
write as he might, he could not supply the biographies fast enough. He,
at last, completed the first hundred, and so instantaneous was their
success that Mr. Knapp called for a second hundred, and then for a
third. Finding that one hand was not equal to the task, Edward offered
his brother five dollars for each biography; he made the same offer to
one or two journalists whom he knew and whose accuracy he could trust;
and he was speedily convinced that merely to edit biographies written by
others, at one-half the price paid to him, was more profitable than to
write himself.

So with five journalists working at top speed to supply the hungry
lithograph presses, Mr. Knapp was likewise responsible for Edward Bok's
first adventure as an editor. It was commercial, if you will, but it was
a commercial editing that had a distinct educational value to a large
public.

The important point is that Edward Bok was being led more and more to
writing and to editorship.



IV. A Presidential Friend and a Boston Pilgrimage


Edward Bok had not been office boy long before he realized that if he
learned shorthand he would stand a better chance for advancement. So he
joined the Young Men's Christian Association in Brooklyn, and entered
the class in stenography. But as this class met only twice a week,
Edward, impatient to learn the art of "pothooks" as quickly as possible,
supplemented this instruction by a course given on two other evenings at
moderate cost by a Brooklyn business college. As the system taught in
both classes was the same, more rapid progress was possible, and the two
teachers were constantly surprised that he acquired the art so much more
quickly than the other students.

Before many weeks Edward could "stenograph" fairly well, and as the
typewriter had not then come into its own, he was ready to put his
knowledge to practical use.

An opportunity offered itself when the city editor of the Brooklyn Eagle
asked him to report two speeches at a New England Society dinner. The
speakers were to be the President of the United States, General Grant,
General Sherman, Mr. Evarts, and General Sheridan. Edward was to report
what General Grant and the President said, and was instructed to give
the President's speech verbatim.

At the close of the dinner, the reporters came in and Edward was seated
directly in front of the President. In those days when a public dinner
included several kinds of wine, it was the custom to serve the reporters
with wine, and as the glasses were placed before Edward's plate he
realized that he had to make a decision then and there. He had, of
course, constantly seen wine on his father's table, as is the European
custom, but the boy had never tasted it. He decided he would not begin
then, when he needed a clear head. So, in order to get more room for his
note-book, he asked the waiter to remove the glasses.

It was the first time he had ever attempted to report a public address.
General Grant's remarks were few, as usual, and as he spoke slowly, he
gave the young reporter no trouble. But alas for his stenographic
knowledge, when President Hayes began to speak! Edward worked hard, but
the President was too rapid for him; he did not get the speech, and he
noticed that the reporters for the other papers fared no better. Nothing
daunted, however, after the speechmaking, Edward resolutely sought the
President, and as the latter turned to him, he told him his plight,
explained it was his first important "assignment," and asked if he could
possibly be given a copy of the speech so that he could "beat" the other
papers.

The President looked at him curiously for a moment, and then said: "Can
you wait a few minutes?"

Edward assured him that he could.

After fifteen minutes or so the President came up to where the boy was
waiting, and said abruptly:

"Tell me, my boy, why did you have the wine-glasses removed from your
place?"

Edward was completely taken aback at the question, but he explained his
resolution as well as he could.

"Did you make that decision this evening?" the President asked.

He had.

"What is your name?" the President next inquired.

He was told.

"And you live, where?"

Edward told him.

"Suppose you write your name and address on this card for me," said the
President, reaching for one of the place-cards on the table.

The boy did so.

"Now, I am stopping with Mr. A. A. Low, on Columbia Heights. Is that in
the direction of your home?"

It was.

"Suppose you go with me, then, in my carriage," said the President, "and
I will give you my speech."

Edward was not quite sure now whether he was on his head or his feet.

As he drove along with the President and his host, the President asked
the boy about himself, what he was doing, etc. On arriving at Mr. Low's
house, the President went up-stairs, and in a few moments came down with
his speech in full, written in his own hand. Edward assured him he would
copy it, and return the manuscript in the morning.

The President took out his watch. It was then after midnight. Musing a
moment, he said: "You say you are an office boy; what time must you be
at your office?"

"Half past eight, sir."

"Well, good night," he said, and then, as if it were a second thought:
"By the way, I can get another copy of the speech. Just turn that in as
it is, if they can read it."

Afterward, Edward found out that, as a matter of fact, it was the
President's only copy. Though the boy did not then appreciate this act
of consideration, his instinct fortunately led him to copy the speech
and leave the original at the President's stopping-place in the morning.

And for all his trouble, the young reporter was amply repaid by seeing
that The Eagle was the only paper which had a verbatim report of the
President's speech.

But the day was not yet done!

That evening, upon reaching home, what was the boy's astonishment to
find the following note:

MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND:--

I have been telling Mrs. Hayes this morning of what you told me at the
dinner last evening, and she was very much interested. She would like to
see you, and joins me in asking if you will call upon us this evening at
eight-thirty.

Very faithfully yours,

RUTHERFORD B. HAYES.

Edward had not risen to the possession of a suit of evening clothes, and
distinctly felt its lack for this occasion. But, dressed in the best he
had, he set out, at eight o'clock, to call on the President of the
United States and his wife!

He had no sooner handed his card to the butler than that dignitary,
looking at it, announced: "The President and Mrs. Hayes are waiting for
you!" The ring of those magic words still sounds in Edward's ears: "The
President and Mrs. Hayes are waiting for you!"--and he a boy of sixteen!

Edward had not been in the room ten minutes before he was made to feel
as thoroughly at ease as if he were sitting in his own home before an
open fire with his father and mother. Skilfully the President drew from
him the story of his youthful hopes and ambitions, and before the boy
knew it he was telling the President and his wife all about his precious
Encyclopedia, his evening with General Grant, and his efforts to become
something more than an office boy. No boy had ever so gracious a
listener before; no mother could have been more tenderly motherly than
the woman who sat opposite him and seemed so honestly interested in all
that he told. Not for a moment during all those two hours was he allowed
to remember that his host and hostess were the President of the United
States and the first lady of the land!

That evening was the first of many thus spent as the years rolled by;
unexpected little courtesies came from the White House, and later from
"Spiegel Grove"; a constant and unflagging interest followed each
undertaking on which the boy embarked. Opportunities were opened to him;
acquaintances were made possible; a letter came almost every month until
that last little note, late in 1892.

  My Dear Friend:

  I would write you more fully
  if I could. You are always thoughtful
  & kind.

  Thankfully your friend
  Rutherford B. Hayes

  Thanks--Thanks for your steady friendship.

The simple act of turning down his wine-glasses had won for Edward Bok
two gracious friends.

The passion for autograph collecting was now leading Edward to read the
authors whom he read about. He had become attached to the works of the
New England group: Longfellow, Holmes, and, particularly, of Emerson.
The philosophy of the Concord sage made a peculiarly strong appeal to
the young mind, and a small copy of Emerson's essays was always in
Edward's pocket on his long stage or horse-car rides to his office and
back.

He noticed that these New England authors rarely visited New York, or,
if they did, their presence was not heralded by the newspapers among the
"distinguished arrivals." He had a great desire personally to meet these
writers; and, having saved a little money, he decided to take his week's
summer vacation in the winter, when he knew he should be more likely to
find the people of his quest at home, and to spend his savings on a trip
to Boston. He had never been away from home, so this trip was a
momentous affair.

He arrived in Boston on Sunday evening; and the first thing he did was
to despatch a note, by messenger, to Doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes,
announcing the important fact that he was there, and what his errand
was, and asking whether he might come up and see Doctor Holmes any time
the next day. Edward naively told him that he could come as early as
Doctor Holmes liked--by breakfast-time, he was assured, as Edward was
all alone! Doctor Holmes's amusement at this ingenuous note may be
imagined.

Within the hour the boy brought back this answer:

  MY DEAR BOY:

  I shall certainly look for you to-morrow morning at eight
  o'clock to have a piece of pie with me. That is real New
  England, you know.

  Very cordially yours,

  OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES."

Edward was there at eight o'clock. Strictly speaking, he was there at
seven-thirty, and found the author already at his desk in that room
overlooking the Charles River, which he learned in after years to know
better.

"Well," was the cheery greeting, "you couldn't wait until eight for your
breakfast, could you? Neither could I when I was a boy. I used to have
my breakfast at seven," and then telling the boy all about his boyhood,
the cheery poet led him to the dining-room, and for the first time he
breakfasted away from home and ate pie--and that with "The Autocrat" at
his own breakfast-table!

A cosier time no boy could have had. Just the two were there, and the
smiling face that looked out over the plates and cups gave the boy
courage to tell all that this trip was going to mean to him.

"And you have come on just to see us, have you?" chuckled the poet.
"Now, tell me, what good do you think you will get out of it?"

He was told what the idea was: that every successful man had something
to tell a boy, that would be likely to help him, and that Edward wanted
to see the men who had written the books that people enjoyed. Doctor
Holmes could not conceal his amusement at all this.

When breakfast was finished, Doctor Holmes said: "Do you know that I am
a full-fledged carpenter? No? Well, I am. Come into my carpenter-shop."

And he led the way into a front-basement room where was a complete
carpenter's outfit.

"You know I am a doctor," he explained, "and this shop is my medicine. I
believe that every man must have a hobby that is as different from his
regular work as it is possible to be. It is not good for a man to work
all the time at one thing. So this is my hobby. This is my change. I
like to putter away at these things. Every day I try to come down here
for an hour or so. It rests me because it gives my mind a complete
change. For, whether you believe it or not," he added with his
inimitable chuckle, "to make a poem and to make a chair are two very
different things."

"Now," he continued, "if you think you can learn something from me,
learn that and remember it when you are a man. Don't keep always at your
business, whatever it may be. It makes no difference how much you like
it. The more you like it, the more dangerous it is. When you grow up you
will understand what I mean by an 'outlet'--a hobby, that is--in your
life, and it must be so different from your regular work that it will
take your thoughts into an entirely different direction. We doctors call
it a safety-valve, and it is. I would much rather," concluded the poet,
"you would forget all that I have ever written than that you should
forget what I tell you about having a safety-valve."

"And now do you know," smilingly said the poet, "about the Charles River
here?" as they returned to his study and stood before the large bay
window. "I love this river," he said. "Yes, I love it," he repeated;
"love it in summer or in winter." And then he was quiet for a minute or
so.

Edward asked him which of his poems were his favorites.

"Well," he said musingly, "I think 'The Chambered Nautilus' is my most
finished piece of work, and I suppose it is my favorite. But there are
also 'The Voiceless,' 'My Aviary,' written at this window, 'The Battle
of Bunker Hill,' and 'Dorothy Q,' written to the portrait of my
great-grandmother which you see on the wall there. All these I have a
liking for, and when I speak of the poems I like best there are two
others that ought to be included--'The Silent Melody' and 'The Last
Leaf.' I think these are among my best."

"What is the history of 'The Chambered Nautilus'?" Edward asked.

"It has none," came the reply, "it wrote itself. So, too, did 'The
One-Hoss Shay.' That was one of those random conceptions that gallop
through the brain, and that you catch by the bridle. I caught it and
reined it. That is all."

Just then a maid brought in a parcel, and as Doctor Holmes opened it on
his desk he smiled over at the boy and said:

"Well, I declare, if you haven't come just at the right time. See those
little books? Aren't they wee?" and he handed the boy a set of three
little books, six inches by four in size, beautifully bound in half
levant. They were his "Autocrat" in one volume, and his better-known
poems in two volumes.

"This is a little fancy of mine," he said. "My publishers, to please me,
have gotten out this tiny wee set. And here," as he counted the little
sets, "they have sent me six sets. Are they not exquisite little
things?" and he fondled them with loving glee. "Lucky, too, for me that
they should happen to come now, for I have been wondering what I could
give you as a souvenir of your visit to me, and here it is, sure enough!
My publishers must have guessed you were here and my mind at the same
time. Now, if you would like it, you shall carry home one of these
little sets, and I'll just write a piece from one of my poems and your
name on the fly-leaf of each volume. You say you like that little verse:

"'A few can touch the magic string.'

Then I'll write those four lines in this volume." And he did.

As each little volume went under the poet's pen Edward said, as his
heart swelled in gratitude:

"Doctor Holmes, you are a man of the rarest sort to be so good to a
boy."

  A few can touch the magic string.
  And noisy fame is proud to win them,--
  Alas for those who never sing.
  But die with all their music in them!
  Oliver Wendell Holmes

The pen stopped, the poet looked out on the Charles a moment, and then,
turning to the boy with a little moisture in his eye, he said:

"No, my boy, I am not; but it does an old man's heart good to hear you
say it. It means much to those on the down-hill side to be well thought
of by the young who are coming up."

As he wiped his gold pen, with its swan-quill holder, and laid it down,
he said:

"That's the pen with which I wrote 'Elsie Venner' and the 'Autocrat'
papers. I try to take care of it."

"You say you are going from me over to see Longfellow?" he continued, as
he reached out once more for the pen. "Well, then, would you mind if I
gave you a letter for him? I have something to send him."

Sly but kindly old gentleman! The "something" he had to send Longfellow
was Edward himself, although the boy did not see through the subterfuge
at that time.

"And now, if you are going, I'll walk along with you if you don't mind,
for I'm going down to Park Street to thank my publishers for these
little books, and that lies along your way to the Cambridge car."

As the two walked along Beacon Street, Doctor Holmes pointed out the
residences where lived people of interest, and when they reached the
Public Garden he said:

"You must come over in the spring some time, and see the tulips and
croci and hyacinths here. They are so beautiful.

"Now, here is your car," he said as he hailed a coming horse-car.
"Before you go back you must come and see me and tell me all the people
you have seen; will you? I should like to hear about them. I may not
have more books coming in, but I might have a very good-looking
photograph of a very old-looking little man," he said as his eyes
twinkled. "Give my love to Longfellow when you see him, and don't forget
to give him my letter, you know. It is about a very important matter."

And when the boy had ridden a mile or so with his fare in his hand he
held it out to the conductor, who grinned and said:

"That's all right. Doctor Holmes paid me your fare, and I'm going to
keep that nickel if I lose my job for it."



V. Going to the Theatre with Longfellow


When Edward Bok stood before the home of Longfellow, he realized that he
was to see the man around whose head the boy's youthful reading had cast
a sort of halo. And when he saw the head itself he had a feeling that he
could see the halo. No kindlier pair of eyes ever looked at a boy, as,
with a smile, "the white Mr. Longfellow," as Mr. Howells had called him,
held out his hand.

"I am very glad to see you, my boy," were his first words, and with them
he won the boy. Edward smiled back at the poet, and immediately the two
were friends.

"I have been taking a walk this beautiful morning," he said next, "and
am a little late getting at my mail. Suppose you come in and sit at my
desk with me, and we will see what the postman has brought. He brings me
so many good things, you know."

"Now, here is a little girl," he said, as he sat down at the desk with
the boy beside him, "who wants my autograph and a 'sentiment.' What
sentiment, I wonder, shall I send her?"

"Why not send her 'Let us, then, be up and doing'?" suggested the boy.
"That's what I should like if I were she."

"Should you, indeed?" said Longfellow. "That is a good suggestion. Now,
suppose you recite it off to me, so that I shall not have to look it up
in my books, and I will write as you recite. But slowly; you know I am
an old man, and write slowly."

Edward thought it strange that Longfellow himself should not know his
own great words without looking them up. But he recited the four lines,
so familiar to every schoolboy, and when the poet had finished writing
them, he said:

"Good! I see you have a memory. Now, suppose I copy these lines once
more for the little girl, and give you this copy? Then you can say, you
know, that you dictated my own poetry to me."

Of course Edward was delighted, and Longfellow gave him the sheet as it
is here:

  Let us, then, be up and doing,
  with a heart for any fate,
  Still achieving, still pursuing,
  Learn to labor and to wait.
  Henry W. Longfellow

Then, as the fine head bent down to copy the lines once more, Edward
ventured to say to him:

"I should think it would keep you busy if you did this for every one who
asked you."

"Well," said the poet, "you see, I am not so busy a man as I was some
years ago, and I shouldn't like to disappoint a little girl; should
you?"

As he took up his letters again, he discovered five more requests for
his autograph. At each one he reached into a drawer in his desk, took a
card, and wrote his name on it.

"There are a good many of these every day," said Longfellow, "but I
always like to do this little favor. It is so little to do, to write
your name on a card; and if I didn't do it some boy or girl might be
looking, day by day, for the postman and be disappointed. I only wish I
could write my name better for them. You see how I break my letters?
That's because I never took pains with my writing when I was a boy. I
don't think I should get a high mark for penmanship if I were at school,
do you?"

"I see you get letters from Europe," said the boy, as Longfellow opened
an envelope with a foreign stamp on it.

"Yes, from all over the world," said the poet. Then, looking at the boy
quickly, he said: "Do you collect postage-stamps?"

Edward said he did.

"Well, I have some right here, then," and going to a drawer in a desk he
took out a bundle of letters, and cut out the postage-stamps and gave
them to the boy.

"There's one from the Netherlands. There's where I was born," Edward
ventured to say.

"In the Netherlands? Then you are a real Dutchman. Well! Well!" he said,
laying down his pen. "Can you read Dutch?"

The boy said he could.

"Then," said the poet, "you are just the boy I am looking for." And
going to a bookcase behind him he brought out a book, and handing it to
the boy, he said, his eyes laughing: "Can you read that?"

It was an edition of Longfellow's poems in Dutch.

"Yes, indeed," said Edward. "These are your poems in Dutch."

"That's right," he said. "Now, this is delightful. I am so glad you
came. I received this book last week, and although I have been in the
Netherlands, I cannot speak or read Dutch. I wonder whether you would
read a poem to me and let me hear how it sounds."

So Edward took "The Old Clock on the Stairs," and read it to him.

The poet's face beamed with delight. "That's beautiful," he said, and
then quickly added: "I mean the language, not the poem."

"Now," he went on, "I'll tell you what we'll do: we'll strike a bargain.
We Yankees are great for bargains, you know. If you will read me 'The
Village Blacksmith' you can sit in that chair there made out of the wood
of the old spreading chestnut-tree, and I'll take you out and show you
where the old shop stood. Is that a bargain?"

Edward assured him it was. He sat in the chair of wood and leather, and
read to the poet several of his own poems in a language in which, when
he wrote them, he never dreamed they would ever be printed. He was very
quiet. Finally he said: "It seems so odd, so very odd, to hear something
you know so well sound so strange."

"It's a great compliment, though, isn't it, sir?" asked the boy.

"Ye-es," said the poet slowly. "Yes, yes," he added quickly. "It is, my
boy, a very great compliment."

"Ah," he said, rousing himself, as a maid appeared, "that means
luncheon, or rather," he added, "it means dinner, for we have dinner in
the old New England fashion, in the middle of the day. I am all alone
to-day, and you must keep me company; will you? Then afterward we'll go
and take a walk, and I'll show you Cambridge. It is such a beautiful old
town, even more beautiful, I sometimes think, when the leaves are off
the trees.

"Come," he said, "I'll take you up-stairs, and you can wash your hands
in the room where George Washington slept. And comb your hair, too, if
you want to," he added; "only it isn't the same comb that he used."

To the boyish mind it was an historic breaking of bread, that midday
meal with Longfellow.

"Can you say grace in Dutch?" he asked, as they sat down; and the boy
did.

"Well," the poet declared, "I never expected to hear that at my table. I
like the sound of it."

Then while the boy told all that he knew about the Netherlands, the poet
told the boy all about his poems. Edward said he liked "Hiawatha."

"So do I," he said. "But I think I like 'Evangeline' better. Still," he
added, "neither one is as good as it should be. But those are the things
you see afterward so much better than you do at the time."

It was a great event for Edward when, with the poet nodding and smiling
to every boy and man he met, and lifting his hat to every woman and
little girl, he walked through the fine old streets of Cambridge with
Longfellow. At one point of the walk they came to a theatrical
bill-board announcing an attraction that evening at the Boston Theatre.
Skilfully the old poet drew out from Edward that sometimes he went to
the theatre with his parents. As they returned to the gate of "Craigie
House" Edward said he thought he would go back to Boston.

"And what have you on hand for this evening?" asked Longfellow.

Edward told him he was going to his hotel to think over the day's
events.

The poet laughed and said:

"Now, listen to my plan. Boston is strange to you. Now we're going to
the theatre this evening, and my plan is that you come in now, have a
little supper with us, and then go with us to see the play. It is a
funny play, and a good laugh will do you more good than to sit in a
hotel all by yourself. Now, what do you think?"

Of course the boy thought as Longfellow did, and it was a very happy boy
that evening who, in full view of the large audience in the immense
theatre, sat in that box. It was, as Longfellow had said, a play of
laughter, and just who laughed louder, the poet or the boy, neither ever
knew.

Between the acts there came into the box a man of courtly presence,
dignified and yet gently courteous.

"Ah! Phillips," said the poet, "how are you? You must know my young
friend here. This is Wendell Phillips, my boy. Here is a young man who
told me to-day that he was going to call on you and on Phillips Brooks
to-morrow. Now you know him before he comes to you."

"I shall be glad to see you, my boy," said Mr. Phillips. "And so you are
going to see Phillips Brooks? Let me tell you something about Brooks. He
has a great many books in his library which are full of his marks and
comments. Now, when you go to see him you ask him to let you see some of
those books, and then, when he isn't looking, you put a couple of them
in your pocket. They would make splendid souvenirs, and he has so many
he would never miss them. You do it, and then when you come to see me
tell me all about it."

And he and Longfellow smiled broadly.

An hour later, when Longfellow dropped Edward at his hotel, he had not
only a wonderful day to think over but another wonderful day to look
forward to as well!

He had breakfasted with Oliver Wendell Holmes; dined, supped, and been
to the theatre with Longfellow; and to-morrow he was to spend with
Phillips Brooks.

Boston was a great place, Edward Bok thought, as he fell asleep.



VI. Phillips Brooks's Books and Emerson's Mental Mist


No one who called at Phillips Brooks's house was ever told that the
master of the house was out when he was in. That was a rule laid down by
Doctor Brooks: a maid was not to perjure herself for her master's
comfort or convenience. Therefore, when Edward was told that Doctor
Brooks was out, he knew he was out. The boy waited, and as he waited he
had a chance to look around the library and into the books. The rector's
faithful housekeeper said he might when he repeated what Wendell
Phillips had told him of the interest that was to be found in her
master's books. Edward did not tell her of Mr. Phillips's advice to
"borrow" a couple of books. He reserved that bit of information for the
rector of Trinity when he came in, an hour later.

"Oh! did he?" laughingly said Doctor Brooks. "That is nice advice for a
man to give a boy. I am surprised at Wendell Phillips. He needs a little
talk: a ministerial visit. And have you followed his shameless advice?"
smilingly asked the huge man as he towered above the boy. "No? And to
think of the opportunity you had, too. Well, I am glad you had such
respect for my dumb friends. For they are my friends, each one of them,"
he continued, as he looked fondly at the filled shelves. "Yes, I know
them all, and love each for its own sake. Take this little volume," and
he picked up a little volume of Shakespeare. "Why, we are the best of
friends: we have travelled miles together--all over the world, as a
matter of fact. It knows me in all my moods, and responds to each, no
matter how irritable I am. Yes, it is pretty badly marked up now, for a
fact, isn't it? Black; I never thought of that before that it doesn't
make a book look any better to the eye. But it means more to me because
of all that pencilling.

"Now, some folks dislike my use of my books in this way. They love their
books so much that they think it nothing short of sacrilege to mark up a
book. But to me that's like having a child so prettily dressed that you
can't romp and play with it. What is the good of a book, I say, if it is
too pretty for use? I like to have my books speak to me, and then I like
to talk back to them.

"Take my Bible, here," he continued, as he took up an old and much-worn
copy of the book. "I have a number of copies of the Great Book: one copy
I preach from; another I minister from; but this is my own personal
copy, and into it I talk and talk. See how I talk," and he opened the
Book and showed interleaved pages full of comments in his handwriting.
"There's where St. Paul and I had an argument one day. Yes, it was a
long argument, and I don't know now who won," he added smilingly. "But
then, no one ever wins in an argument, anyway; do you think so?

"You see," went on the preacher, "I put into these books what other men
put into articles and essays for magazines and papers. I never write for
publications. I always think of my church when something comes to me to
say. There is always danger of a man spreading himself out thin if he
attempts too much, you know."

Doctor Brooks must have caught the boy's eye, which, as he said this,
naturally surveyed his great frame, for he regarded him in an amused
way, and putting his hands on his girth, he said laughingly: "You are
thinking I would have to do a great deal to spread myself out thin,
aren't you?"

The boy confessed he was, and the preacher laughed one of those deep
laughs of his that were so infectious.

"But here I am talking about myself. Tell me something about yourself?"

And when the boy told his object in coming to Boston, the rector of
Trinity Church was immensely amused.

"Just to see us fellows! Well, and how do you like us so far?"

And in the most comfortable way this true gentleman went on until the
boy mentioned that he must be keeping him from his work.

"Not at all; not at all," was the quick and hearty response. "Not a
thing to do. I cleaned up all my mail before I had my breakfast this
morning.

"These letters, you mean?" he said, as the boy pointed to some letters
on his desk unopened. "Oh, yes! Well, they must have come in a later
mail. Well, if it will make you feel any better I'll go through them,
and you can go through my books if you like. I'll trust you," he added
laughingly, as Wendell Phillips's advice occurred to him.

"You like books, you say?" he went on, as he opened his letters. "Well,
then, you must come into my library here at any time you are in Boston,
and spend a morning reading anything I have that you like. Young men do
that, you know, and I like to have them. What's the use of good friends
if you don't share them? There's where the pleasure comes in."

He asked the boy then about his newspaper work: how much it paid him,
and whether he felt it helped him in an educational way. The boy told
him he thought it did; that it furnished good lessons in the study of
human nature.

"Yes," he said, "I can believe that, so long as it is good journalism."

Edward told him that he sometimes wrote for the Sunday paper, and asked
the preacher what he thought of that.

"Well," he said, "that is not a crime."

The boy asked him if he, then, favored the Sunday paper more than did
some other clergymen.

"There is always good in everything, I think," replied Phillips Brooks.
"A thing must be pretty bad that hasn't some good in it." Then he
stopped, and after a moment went on: "My idea is that the fate of Sunday
newspapers rests very much with Sunday editors. There is a Sunday
newspaper conceivable in which we should all rejoice--all, that is, who
do not hold that a Sunday newspaper is always and per se wrong. But some
cause has, in many instances, brought it about that the Sunday paper is
below, and not above, the standard of its weekday brethren. I mean it is
apt to be more gossipy, more personal, more sensational, more frivolous;
less serious and thoughtful and suggestive. Taking for granted the fact
of special leisure on the part of its readers, it is apt to appeal to
the lower and not to the higher part of them, which the Sunday leisure
has set free. Let the Sunday newspaper be worthy of the day, and the day
will not reject it. So I say its fate is in the hands of its editor. He
can give it such a character as will make all good men its champions and
friends, or he can preserve for it the suspicion and dislike in which it
stands at present."

Edward's journalistic instinct here got into full play; and although, as
he assured his host, he had had no such thought in coming, he asked
whether Doctor Brooks would object if he tried his reportorial wings by
experimenting as to whether he could report the talk.

"I do not like the papers to talk about me," was the answer; "but if it
will help you, go ahead and practise on me. You haven't stolen my books
when you were told to do so, and I don't think you'll steal my name."

The boy went back to his hotel, and wrote an article much as this
account is here written, which he sent to Doctor Brooks. "Let me keep it
by me," the doctor wrote, "and I will return it to you presently."

And he did, with his comment on the Sunday newspaper, just as it is
given here, and with this note:

  If I must go into the
  newspapers at all--which
  I should always vastly
  prefer to avoid--no words could
  have been more kind than
  those of your article. You
  were very good to send it
  to me. I am ever
  Sincerely, Your friend,
  Phillips Brooks

As he let the boy out of his house, at the end of that first meeting, he
said to him:

"And you're going from me now to see Emerson? I don't know," he added
reflectively, "whether you will see him at his best. Still, you may. And
even if you do not, to have seen him, even as you may see him, is
better, in a way, than not to have seen him at all."

Edward did not know what Phillips Brooks meant. But he was, sadly, to
find out the next day.

A boy of sixteen was pretty sure of a welcome from Louisa Alcott, and
his greeting from her was spontaneous and sincere.

"Why, you good boy," she said, "to come all the way to Concord to see
us," quite for all the world as if she were the one favored. "Now take
your coat off, and come right in by the fire."

"Do tell me all about your visit," she continued.

Before that cozey fire they chatted. It was pleasant to the boy to sit
there with that sweet-faced woman with those kindly eyes! After a while
she said: "Now I shall put on my coat and hat, and we shall walk over to
Emerson's house. I am almost afraid to promise that you will see him. He
sees scarcely any one now. He is feeble, and--" She did not finish the
sentence. "But we'll walk over there, at any rate."

She spoke mostly of her father as the two walked along, and it was easy
to see that his condition was now the one thought of her life. Presently
they reached Emerson's house, and Miss Emerson welcomed them at the
door. After a brief chat Miss Alcott told of the boy's hope. Miss
Emerson shook her head.

"Father sees no one now," she said, "and I fear it might not be a
pleasure if you did see him."

Then Edward told her what Phillips Brooks had said.

"Well," she said, "I'll see."

She had scarcely left the room when Miss Alcott rose and followed her,
saying to the boy: "You shall see Mr. Emerson if it is at all possible."

In a few minutes Miss Alcott returned, her eyes moistened, and simply
said: "Come."

The boy followed her through two rooms, and at the threshold of the
third Miss Emerson stood, also with moistened eyes.

"Father," she said simply, and there, at his desk, sat Emerson--the man
whose words had already won Edward Bok's boyish interest, and who was
destined to impress himself upon his life more deeply than any other
writer.

Slowly, at the daughter's spoken word, Emerson rose with a wonderful
quiet dignity, extended his hand, and as the boy's hand rested in his,
looked him full in the eyes.

No light of welcome came from those sad yet tender eyes. The boy closed
upon the hand in his with a loving pressure, and for a single moment the
eyelids rose, a different look came into those eyes, and Edward felt a
slight, perceptible response of the hand. But that was all!

Quietly he motioned the boy to a chair beside the desk. Edward sat down
and was about to say something, when, instead of seating himself,
Emerson walked away to the window and stood there softly whistling and
looking out as if there were no one in the room. Edward's eyes had
followed Emerson's every footstep, when the boy was aroused by hearing a
suppressed sob, and as he looked around he saw that it came from Miss
Emerson. Slowly she walked out of the room. The boy looked at Miss
Alcott, and she put her finger to her mouth, indicating silence. He was
nonplussed.

Edward looked toward Emerson standing in that window, and wondered what
it all meant. Presently Emerson left the window and, crossing the room,
came to his desk, bowing to the boy as he passed, and seated himself,
not speaking a word and ignoring the presence of the two persons in the
room.

Suddenly the boy heard Miss Alcott say: "Have you read this new book by
Ruskin yet?"

Slowly the great master of thought lifted his eyes from his desk, turned
toward the speaker, rose with stately courtesy from his chair, and,
bowing to Miss Alcott, said with great deliberation: "Did you speak to
me, madam?"

The boy was dumfounded! Louisa Alcott, his Louisa! And he did not know
her! Suddenly the whole sad truth flashed upon the boy. Tears sprang
into Miss Alcott's eyes, and she walked to the other side of the room.
The boy did not know what to say or do, so he sat silent. With a
deliberate movement Emerson resumed his seat, and slowly his eyes roamed
over the boy sitting at the side of the desk. He felt he should say
something.

"I thought, perhaps, Mr. Emerson," he said, "that you might be able to
favor me with a letter from Carlyle."

At the mention of the name Carlyle his eyes lifted, and he asked:
"Carlyle, did you say, sir, Carlyle?"

"Yes," said the boy, "Thomas Carlyle."

"Ye-es," Emerson answered slowly. "To be sure, Carlyle. Yes, he was here
this morning. He will be here again to-morrow morning," he added
gleefully, almost like a child.

Then suddenly: "You were saying--"

Edward repeated his request.

"Oh, I think so, I think so," said Emerson, to the boy's astonishment.
"Let me see. Yes, here in this drawer I have many letters from Carlyle."

At these words Miss Alcott came from the other part of the room, her wet
eyes dancing with pleasure and her face wreathed in smiles.

"I think we can help this young man; do you not think so, Louisa?" said
Emerson, smiling toward Miss Alcott. The whole atmosphere of the room
had changed. How different the expression of his eyes as now Emerson
looked at the boy! "And you have come all the way from New York to ask
me that!" he said smilingly as the boy told him of his trip. "Now, let
us see," he said, as he delved in a drawer full of letters.

For a moment he groped among letters and papers, and then, softly
closing the drawer, he began that ominous low whistle once more, looked
inquiringly at each, and dropped his eyes straightway to the papers
before him on his desk. It was to be only for a few moments, then Miss
Alcott turned away.

The boy felt the interview could not last much longer. So, anxious to
have some personal souvenir of the meeting, he said: "Mr. Emerson, will
you be so good as to write your name in this book for me?" and he
brought out an album he had in his pocket.

"Name?" he asked vaguely.

"Yes, please," said the boy, "your name: Ralph Waldo Emerson."

But the sound of the name brought no response from the eyes.

"Please write out the name you want," he said finally, "and I will copy
it for you if I can."

It was hard for the boy to believe his own senses. But picking up a pen
he wrote: "Ralph Waldo Emerson, Concord; November 22, 1881."

Emerson looked at it, and said mournfully: "Thank you." Then he picked
up the pen, and writing the single letter "R" stopped, followed his
finger until it reached the "W" of Waldo, and studiously copied letter
by letter! At the word "Concord" he seemed to hesitate, as if the task
were too great, but finally copied again, letter by letter, until the
second "c" was reached. "Another 'o,'" he said, and interpolated an
extra letter in the name of the town which he had done so much to make
famous the world over. When he had finished he handed back the book, in
which there was written:

  R. Waldo Emerson
  Concord
  November 22, 1881

The boy put the book into his pocket; and as he did so Emerson's eye
caught the slip on his desk, in the boy's handwriting, and, with a smile
of absolute enlightenment, he turned and said:

"You wish me to write my name? With pleasure. Have you a book with you?"

Overcome with astonishment, Edward mechanically handed him the album
once more from his pocket. Quickly turning over the leaves, Emerson
picked up the pen, and pushing aside the slip, wrote without a moment's
hesitation:

  Ralph Waldo Emerson
  Concord

The boy was almost dazed at the instantaneous transformation in the man!

Miss Alcott now grasped this moment to say: "Well, we must be going!"

"So soon?" said Emerson, rising and smiling. Then turning to Miss Alcott
he said: "It was very kind of you, Louisa, to run over this morning and
bring your young friend."

Then turning to the boy he said: "Thank you so much for coming to see
me. You must come over again while you are with the Alcotts. Good
morning! Isn't it a beautiful day out?" he said, and as he shook the
boy's hand there was a warm grasp in it, the fingers closed around those
of the boy, and as Edward looked into those deep eyes they twinkled and
smiled back.

The going was all so different from the coming. The boy was grateful
that his last impression was of a moment when the eye kindled and the
hand pulsated.

The two walked back to the Alcott home in an almost unbroken silence.
Once Edward ventured to remark:

"You can have no idea, Miss Alcott, how grateful I am to you."

"Well, my boy," she answered, "Phillips Brooks may be right: that it is
something to have seen him even so, than not to have seen him at all.
But to us it is so sad, so very sad. The twilight is gently closing in."

And so it proved--just five months afterward.

Eventful day after eventful day followed in Edward's Boston visit. The
following morning he spent with Wendell Phillips, who presented him with
letters from William Lloyd Garrison, Lucretia Mott, and other famous
persons; and then, writing a letter of introduction to Charles Francis
Adams, whom he enjoined to give the boy autograph letters from his two
presidential forbears, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, sent Edward on
his way rejoicing. Mr. Adams received the boy with equal graciousness
and liberality. Wonderful letters from the two Adamses were his when he
left.

And then, taking the train for New York, Edward Bok went home, sitting
up all night in a day-coach for the double purpose of saving the cost of
a sleeping-berth and of having a chance to classify and clarify the
events of the most wonderful week in his life!



VII. A Plunge into Wall Street


The father of Edward Bok passed away when Edward was eighteen years of
age, and it was found that the amount of the small insurance left behind
would barely cover the funeral expenses. Hence the two boys faced the
problem of supporting the mother on their meagre income. They determined
to have but one goal: to put their mother back to that life of comfort
to which she had been brought up and was formerly accustomed. But that
was not possible on their income. It was evident that other employment
must be taken on during the evenings.

The city editor of the Brooklyn Eagle had given Edward the assignment of
covering the news of the theatres; he was to ascertain "coming
attractions" and any other dramatic items of news interest. One Monday
evening, when a multiplicity of events crowded the reportorial corps,
Edward was delegated to "cover" the Grand Opera House, where Rose
Coghlan was to appear in a play that had already been seen in Brooklyn,
and called, therefore, for no special dramatic criticism. Yet The Eagle
wanted to cover it. It so happened that Edward had made another
appointment for that evening which he considered more important, and yet
not wishing to disappoint his editor he accepted the assignment. He had
seen Miss Coghlan in the play; so he kept his other engagement, and
without approaching the theatre he wrote a notice to the effect that
Miss Coghlan acted her part, if anything, with greater power than on her
previous Brooklyn visit, and so forth, and handed it in to his city
editor the next morning on his way to business.

Unfortunately, however, Miss Coghlan had been taken ill just before the
raising of the curtain, and, there being no understudy, no performance
had been given and the audience dismissed. All this was duly commented
upon by the New York morning newspapers. Edward read this bit of news on
the ferry-boat, but his notice was in the hands of the city editor.

On reaching home that evening he found a summons from The Eagle, and the
next morning he received a rebuke, and was informed that his chances
with the paper were over. The ready acknowledgment and evident regret of
the crestfallen boy, however, appealed to the editor, and before the end
of the week he called the boy to him and promised him another chance,
provided the lesson had sunk in. It had, and it left a lasting
impression. It was always a cause of profound gratitude with Edward Bok
that his first attempt at "faking" occurred so early in his journalistic
career that he could take the experience to heart and profit by it.

One evening when Edward was attending a theatrical performance, he
noticed the restlessness of the women in the audience between the acts.
In those days it was, even more than at present, the custom for the men
to go out between the acts, leaving the women alone. Edward looked at
the programme in his hands. It was a large eleven-by-nine sheet, four
pages, badly printed, with nothing in it save the cast, a few
advertisements, and an announcement of some coming attraction. The boy
mechanically folded the programme, turned it long side up and wondered
whether a programme of this smaller size, easier to handle, with an
attractive cover and some reading-matter, would not be profitable.

When he reached home he made up an eight-page "dummy," pasted an
attractive picture on the cover, indicated the material to go inside,
and the next morning showed it to the manager of the theatre. The
programme as issued was an item of considerable expense to the
management; Edward offered to supply his new programme without cost,
provided he was given the exclusive right, and the manager at once
accepted the offer. Edward then sought a friend, Frederic L. Colver, who
had a larger experience in publishing and advertising, with whom he
formed a partnership. Deciding that immediately upon the issuance of
their first programme the idea was likely to be taken up by the other
theatres, Edward proceeded to secure the exclusive rights to them all.
The two young publishers solicited their advertisements on the way to
and from business mornings and evenings, and shortly the first
smaller-sized theatre programme, now in use in all theatres, appeared.
The venture was successful from the start, returning a comfortable
profit each week. Such advertisements as they could not secure for cash
they accepted in trade; and this latter arrangement assisted materially
in maintaining the households of the two publishers.

Edward's partner now introduced him into a debating society called The
Philomathean Society, made up of young men connected with Plymouth
Church, of which Henry Ward Beecher was pastor. The debates took the
form of a miniature congress, each member representing a State, and it
is a curious coincidence that Edward drew, by lot, the representation of
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The members took these debates very
seriously; no subject was too large for them to discuss. Edward became
intensely interested in the society's doings, and it was not long before
he was elected president.

The society derived its revenue from the dues of its members and from an
annual concert given under its auspices in Plymouth Church. When the
time for the concert under Edward's presidency came around, he decided
that the occasion should be unique so as to insure a crowded house. He
induced Mr. Beecher to preside; he got General Grant's promise to come
and speak; he secured the gratuitous services of Emma C. Thursby, Annie
Louise Cary, Clara Louise Kellogg, and Evelyn Lyon Hegeman, all of the
first rank of concert-singers of that day, with the result that the
church could not accommodate the crowd which naturally was attracted by
such a programme.

It now entered into the minds of the two young theatre-programme
publishers to extend their publishing interests by issuing an "organ"
for their society, and the first issue of The Philomathean Review duly
appeared with Mr. Colver as its publisher and Edward Bok as editor.
Edward had now an opportunity to try his wings in an editorial capacity.
The periodical was, of course, essentially an organ of the society; but
gradually it took on a more general character, so that its circulation
might extend over a larger portion of Brooklyn. With this extension came
a further broadening of its contents, which now began to take on a
literary character, and it was not long before its two projectors
realized that the periodical had outgrown its name. It was decided--late
in 1884--to change the name to The Brooklyn Magazine.

There was a periodical called The Plymouth Pulpit, which presented
verbatim reports of the sermons of Mr. Beecher, and Edward got the idea
of absorbing the Pulpit in the Magazine. But that required more capital
than he and his partner could command. They consulted Mr. Beecher, who,
attracted by the enterprise of the two boys, sent them with letters of
introduction to a few of his most influential parishioners, with the
result that the pair soon had a sufficient financial backing by some of
the leading men of Brooklyn, like A. A. Low, H. B. Claflin, Rufus T.
Bush, Henry W. Slocum, Seth Low, Rossiter W. Raymond, Horatio C. King,
and others.

The young publishers could now go on. Understanding that Mr. Beecher's
sermons might give a partial and denominational tone to the magazine,
Edward arranged to publish also in its pages verbatim reports of the
sermons of the Reverend T. De Witt Talmage, whose reputation was then at
its zenith. The young editor now realized that he had a rather heavy
cargo of sermons to carry each month; accordingly, in order that his
magazine might not appear to be exclusively religious, he determined
that its literary contents should be of a high order and equal in
interest to the sermons. But this called for additional capital, and the
capital furnished was not for that purpose.

It is here that Edward's autographic acquaintances stood him in good
stead. He went in turn to each noted person he had met, explained his
plight and stated his ambitions, with the result that very soon the
magazine and the public were surprised at the distinction of the
contributors to The Brooklyn Magazine. Each number contained a
noteworthy list of them, and when an article by the President of the
United States, then Rutherford B. Hayes, opened one of the numbers, the
public was astonished, since up to that time the unwritten rule that a
President's writings were confined to official pronouncements had
scarcely been broken. William Dean Howells, General Grant, General
Sherman, Phillips Brooks, General Sheridan, Canon Farrar, Cardinal
Gibbons, Marion Harland, Margaret Sangster--the most prominent men and
women of the day, some of whom had never written for magazines--began to
appear in the young editor's contents. Editors wondered how the
publishers could afford it, whereas, in fact, not a single name
represented an honorarium. Each contributor had come gratuitously to the
aid of the editor.

At first, the circulation of the magazine permitted the boys to wrap the
copies themselves; and then they, with two other boys, would carry as
huge bundles as they could lift, put them late at night on the front
platform of the street-cars, and take them to the post-office. Thus the
boys absolutely knew the growth of their circulation by the weight of
their bundles and the number of their front-platform trips each month.
Soon a baker's hand-cart was leased for an evening, and that was added
to the capacity of the front platforms. Then one eventful month it was
seen that a horse-truck would have to be employed. Within three weeks, a
double horse-truck was necessary, and three trips had to be made.

By this time Edward Bok had become so intensely interested in the
editorial problem, and his partner in the periodical publishing part,
that they decided to sell out their theatre-programme interests and
devote themselves to the magazine and its rapidly increasing
circulation. All of Edward's editorial work had naturally to be done
outside of his business hours, in other words, in the evenings and on
Sundays; and the young editor found himself fully occupied. He now
revived the old idea of selecting a subject and having ten or twenty
writers express their views on it. It was the old symposium idea, but it
had not been presented in American journalism for a number of years. He
conceived the topic "Should America Have a Westminster Abbey?" and
induced some twenty of the foremost men and women of the day to discuss
it. When the discussion was presented in the magazine, the form being
new and the theme novel, Edward was careful to send advance sheets to
the newspapers, which treated it at length in reviews and editorials,
with marked effect upon the circulation of the magazine.

All this time, while Edward Bok was an editor in his evenings he was,
during the day, a stenographer and clerk of the Western Union Telegraph
Company. The two occupations were hardly compatible, but each meant a
source of revenue to the boy, and he felt he must hold on to both.

After his father passed away, the position of the boy's desk--next to
the empty desk of his father--was a cause of constant depression to him.
This was understood by the attorney for the company, Mr. Clarence Cary,
who sought the head of Edward's department, with the result that Edward
was transferred to Mr. Cary's department as the attorney's private
stenographer.

Edward had been much attracted to Mr. Cary, and the attorney believed in
the boy, and decided to show his interest by pushing him along. He had
heard of the dual role which Edward was playing; he bought a copy of the
magazine, and was interested. Edward now worked with new zest for his
employer and friend; while in every free moment he read law, feeling
that, as almost all his forbears had been lawyers, he might perhaps be
destined for the bar. This acquaintance with the fundamental basis of
law, cursory as it was, became like a gospel to Edward Bok. In later
years, he was taught its value by repeated experience in his contact
with corporate laws, contracts, property leases, and other matters; and
he determined that, whatever the direction of activity taken by his
sons, each should spend at least a year in the study of law.

The control of the Western Union Telegraph Company had now passed into
the hands of Jay Gould and his companions, and in the many legal matters
arising therefrom, Edward saw much, in his office, of "the little wizard
of Wall Street." One day, the financier had to dictate a contract, and,
coming into Mr. Cary's office, decided to dictate it then and there. An
hour afterward Edward delivered the copy of the contract to Mr. Gould,
and the financier was so struck by its accuracy and by the legibility of
the handwriting that afterward he almost daily "happened in" to dictate
to Mr. Cary's stenographer. Mr. Gould's private stenographer was in his
own office in lower Broadway; but on his way down-town in the morning
Mr. Gould invariably stopped at the Western Union Building, at 195
Broadway, and the habit resulted in the installation of a private office
there. He borrowed Edward to do his stenography. The boy found himself
taking not only letters from Mr. Gould's dictation, but, what interested
him particularly, the financier's orders to buy and sell stock.

Edward watched the effects on the stock-market of these little notes
which he wrote out and then shot through a pneumatic tube to Mr. Gould's
brokers. Naturally, the results enthralled the boy, and he told Mr. Cary
about his discoveries. This, in turn, interested Mr. Cary; Mr. Gould's
dictations were frequently given in Mr. Cary's own office, where, as his
desk was not ten feet from that of his stenographer, the attorney heard
them, and began to buy and sell according to the magnate's decisions.

Edward had now become tremendously interested in the stock game which he
saw constantly played by the great financier; and having a little money
saved up, he concluded that he would follow in the wake of Mr. Gould's
orders. One day, he naively mentioned his desire to Mr. Gould, when the
financier seemed in a particularly favorable frame of mind; but Edward
did not succeed in drawing out the advice he hoped for. "At least,"
reasoned Edward, "he knew of my intention; and if he considered it a
violation of confidence he would have said as much."

Construing the financier's silence to mean at least not a prohibition,
Edward went to his Sunday-school teacher, who was a member of a Wall
Street brokerage firm, laid the facts before him, and asked him if he
would buy for him some Western Union stock. Edward explained, however,
that somehow he did not like the gambling idea of buying "on margin,"
and preferred to purchase the stock outright. He was shown that this
would mean smaller profits; but the boy had in mind the loss of his
father's fortune, brought about largely by "stock margins," and he did
not intend to follow that example. So, prudently, under the brokerage of
his Sunday-school teacher, and guided by the tips of no less a man than
the controlling factor of stock-market finance, Edward Bok took his
first plunge in Wall Street!

Of course the boy's buying and selling tallied precisely with the rise
and fall of Western Union stock. It could scarcely have been otherwise.
Jay Gould had the cards all in his hands; and as he bought and sold, so
Edward bought and sold. The trouble was, the combination did not end
there, as Edward might have foreseen had he been older and thus wiser.
For as Edward bought and sold, so did his Sunday-school teacher, and all
his customers who had seen the wonderful acumen of their broker in
choosing exactly the right time to buy and sell Western Union. But
Edward did not know this.

One day a rumor became current on the Street that an agreement had been
reached by the Western Union Company and its bitter rival, the American
Union Telegraph Company, whereby the former was to absorb the latter.
Naturally, the report affected Western Union stock. But Mr. Gould denied
it in toto; said the report was not true, no such consolidation was in
view or had even been considered. Down tumbled the stock, of course.

But it so happened that Edward knew the rumor was true, because Mr.
Gould, some time before, had personally given him the contract of
consolidation to copy. The next day a rumor to the effect that the
American Union was to absorb the Western Union appeared on the first
page of every New York newspaper. Edward knew exactly whence this rumor
emanated. He had heard it talked over. Again, Western Union stock
dropped several points. Then he noticed that Mr. Gould became a heavy
buyer. So became Edward--as heavy as he could. Jay Gould pooh-poohed the
latest rumor. The boy awaited developments.

On Sunday afternoon, Edward's Sunday-school teacher asked the boy to
walk home with him, and on reaching the house took him into the study
and asked him whether he felt justified in putting all his savings in
Western Union just at that time when the price was tumbling so fast and
the market was so unsteady. Edward assured his teacher that he was
right, although he explained that he could not disclose the basis of his
assurance.

Edward thought his teacher looked worried, and after a little there came
the revelation that he, seeing that Edward was buying to his limit, had
likewise done so. But the broker had bought on margin, and had his
margin wiped out by the decline in the stock caused by the rumors. He
explained to Edward that he could recoup his losses, heavy though they
were--in fact, he explained that nearly everything he possessed was
involved--if Edward's basis was sure and the stock would recover.

Edward keenly felt the responsibility placed upon him. He could never
clearly diagnose his feelings when he saw his teacher in this new light.
The broker's "customers" had been hinted at, and the boy of eighteen
wondered how far his responsibility went, and how many persons were
involved. But the deal came out all right, for when, three days
afterward, the contract was made public, Western Union, of course,
skyrocketed, Jay Gould sold out, Edward sold out, the teacher-broker
sold out, and all the customers sold out!

How long a string it was Edward never discovered, but he determined
there and then to end his Wall Street experience; his original amount
had multiplied; he was content to let well enough alone, and from that
day to this Edward Bok has kept out of Wall Street. He had seen enough
of its manipulations; and, although on "the inside," he decided that the
combination of his teacher and his customers was a responsibility too
great for him to carry.

Furthermore, Edward decided to leave the Western Union. The longer he
remained, the less he liked its atmosphere. And the closer his contact
with Jay Gould the more doubtful he became of the wisdom of such an
association and perhaps its unconscious influence upon his own life in
its formative period.

In fact, it was an experience with Mr. Gould that definitely fixed
Edward's determination. The financier decided one Saturday to leave on a
railroad inspection tour on the following Monday. It was necessary that
a special meeting of one of his railroad interests should be held before
his departure, and he fixed the meeting for Sunday at eleven-thirty at
his residence on Fifth Avenue. He asked Edward to be there to take the
notes of the meeting.

The meeting was protracted, and at one o'clock Mr. Gould suggested an
adjournment for luncheon, the meeting to reconvene at two. Turning to
Edward, the financier said: "You may go out to luncheon and return in an
hour." So, on Sunday afternoon, with the Windsor Hotel on the opposite
corner as the only visible place to get something to eat, but where he
could not afford to go, Edward, with just fifteen cents in his pocket,
was turned out to find a luncheon place.

He bought three apples for five cents--all that he could afford to
spend, and even this meant that he must walk home from the ferry to his
house in Brooklyn--and these he ate as he walked up and down Fifth
Avenue until his hour was over. When the meeting ended at three o'clock,
Mr. Gould said that, as he was leaving for the West early next morning,
he would like Edward to write out his notes, and have them at his house
by eight o'clock. There were over forty note-book pages of minutes. The
remainder of Edward's Sunday afternoon and evening was spent in
transcribing the notes. By rising at half past five the next morning he
reached Mr. Gould's house at a quarter to eight, handed him the minutes,
and was dismissed without so much as a word of thanks or a nod of
approval from the financier.

Edward felt that this exceeded the limit of fair treatment by employer
of employee. He spoke of it to Mr. Cary, and asked whether he would
object if he tried to get away from such influence and secure another
position. His employer asked the boy in which direction he would like to
go, and Edward unhesitatingly suggested the publishing business. He
talked it over from every angle with his employer, and Mr. Cary not only
agreed with him that his decision was wise, but promised to find him a
position such as he had in mind.

It was not long before Mr. Cary made good his word, and told Edward that
his friend Henry Holt, the publisher, would like to give him a trial.

The day before he was to leave the Western Union Telegraph Company the
fact of his resignation became known to Mr. Gould. The financier told
the boy there was no reason for his leaving, and that he would
personally see to it that a substantial increase was made in his salary.
Edward explained that the salary, while of importance to him, did not
influence him so much as securing a position in a business in which he
felt he would be happier.

"And what business is that?" asked the financier.

"The publishing of books," replied the boy.

"You are making a great mistake," answered the little man, fixing his
keen gray eyes on the boy. "Books are a luxury. The public spends its
largest money on necessities: on what it can't do without. It must
telegraph; it need not read. It can read in libraries. A promising boy
such as you are, with his life before him, should choose the right sort
of business, not the wrong one."

But, as facts proved, the "little wizard of Wall Street" was wrong in
his prediction; Edward Bok was not choosing the wrong business.

Years afterward when Edward was cruising up the Hudson with a yachting
party one Saturday afternoon, the sight of Jay Gould's mansion, upon
approaching Irvington, awakened the desire of the women on board to see
his wonderful orchid collection. Edward explained his previous
association with the financier and offered to recall himself to him, if
the party wished to take the chance of recognition. A note was written
to Mr. Gould, and sent ashore, and the answer came back that they were
welcome to visit the orchid houses. Jay Gould, in person, received the
party, and, placing it under the personal conduct of his gardener,
turned to Edward and, indicating a bench, said: "Come and sit down here
with me."

"Well," said the financier, who was in his domestic mood, quite
different from his Wall Street aspect, "I see in the papers that you
seem to be making your way in the publishing business."

Edward expressed surprise that the Wall Street magnate had followed his
work.

"I have because I always felt you had it in you to make a successful
man. But not in that business," he added quickly. "You were born for the
Street. You would have made a great success there, and that is what I
had in mind for you. In the publishing business you will go just so far;
in the Street you could have gone as far as you liked. There is room
there; there is none in the publishing business. It's not too late now,
for that matter," continued the "little wizard," fastening his steel
eyes on the lad beside him!

And Edward Bok has often speculated whither Jay Gould might have led
him. To many a young man, a suggestion from such a source would have
seemed the one to heed and follow. But Edward Bok's instinct never
failed him. He felt that his path lay far apart from that of Jay
Gould--and the farther the better!

In 1882 Edward, with a feeling of distinct relief, left the employ of
the Western Union Telegraph Company and associated himself with the
publishing business in which he had correctly divined that his future
lay.

His chief regret on leaving his position was in severing the close
relations, almost as of father and son, between Mr. Cary and himself.
When Edward was left alone, with the passing away of his father,
Clarence Cary had put his sheltering arm around the lonely boy, and with
the tremendous encouragement of the phrase that the boy never forgot, "I
think you have it in you, Edward, to make a successful man," he took him
under his wing. It was a turning-point in Edward Bok's life, as he felt
at the time and as he saw more clearly afterward.

He remained in touch with his friend, however, keeping him advised of
his progress in everything he did, not only at that time, but all
through his later years. And it was given to Edward to feel the deep
satisfaction of having Mr. Cary say, before he passed away, that the boy
had more than justified the confidence reposed in him. Mr. Cary lived to
see him well on his way, until, indeed, Edward had had the proud
happiness of introducing to his benefactor the son who bore his name,
Cary William Bok.



VIII. Starting a Newspaper Syndicate


Edward felt that his daytime hours, spent in a publishing atmosphere as
stenographer with Henry Holt and Company, were more in line with his
editorial duties during the evenings. The Brooklyn Magazine was now
earning a comfortable income for its two young proprietors, and their
backers were entirely satisfied with the way it was being conducted. In
fact, one of these backers, Mr. Rufus T. Bush, associated with the
Standard Oil Company, who became especially interested, thought he saw
in the success of the two boys a possible opening for one of his sons,
who was shortly to be graduated from college. He talked to the publisher
and editor about the idea, but the boys showed by their books that while
there was a reasonable income for them, not wholly dependent on the
magazine, there was no room for a third.

Mr. Bush now suggested that he buy the magazine for his son, alter its
name, enlarge its scope, and make of it a national periodical.
Arrangements were concluded, those who had financially backed the
venture were fully paid, and the two boys received a satisfactory amount
for their work in building up the magazine. Mr. Bush asked Edward to
suggest a name for the new periodical, and in the following month of
May, 1887, The Brooklyn Magazine became The American Magazine, with its
publication office in New York. But, though a great deal of money was
spent on the new magazine, it did not succeed. Mr. Bush sold his
interest in the periodical, which, once more changing its name, became
The Cosmopolitan Magazine. Since then it has passed through the hands of
several owners, but the name has remained the same. Before Mr. Bush sold
The American Magazine he had urged Edward to come back to it as its
editor, with promise of financial support; but the young man felt
instinctively that his return would not be wise. The magazine had been
The Cosmopolitan only a short time when the new owners, Mr. Paul J.
Slicht and Mr. E. D. Walker, also solicited the previous editor to
accept reappointment. But Edward, feeling that his baby had been
rechristened too often for him to father it again, declined the
proposition. He had not heard the last of it, however, for, by a curious
coincidence, its subsequent owner, entirely ignorant of Edward's
previous association with the magazine, invited him to connect himself
with it. Thus three times could Edward Bok have returned to the magazine
for whose creation he was responsible.

Edward was now without editorial cares; but he had already, even before
disposing of the magazine, embarked on another line of endeavor. In
sending to a number of newspapers the advance sheets of a particularly
striking "feature" in one of his numbers of The Brooklyn Magazine, it
occurred to him that he was furnishing a good deal of valuable material
to these papers without cost. It is true his magazine was receiving the
advertising value of editorial comment; but the boy wondered whether the
newspapers would not be willing to pay for the privilege of simultaneous
publication. An inquiry or two proved that they would. Thus Edward
stumbled upon the "syndicate" plan of furnishing the same article to a
group of newspapers, one in each city, for simultaneous publication. He
looked over the ground, and found that while his idea was not a new one,
since two "syndicate" agencies already existed, the field was by no
means fully covered, and that the success of a third agency would depend
entirely upon its ability to furnish the newspapers with material
equally good or better than they received from the others. After
following the material furnished by these agencies for two or three
weeks, Edward decided that there was plenty of room for his new ideas.

He discussed the matter with his former magazine partner, Colver, and
suggested that if they could induce Mr. Beecher to write a weekly
comment on current events for the newspapers it would make an auspicious
beginning. They decided to talk it over with the famous preacher. For to
be a "Plymouth boy"--that is, to go to the Plymouth Church Sunday-school
and to attend church there--was to know personally and become devoted to
Henry Ward Beecher. And the two were synonymous. There was no distance
between Mr. Beecher and his "Plymouth boys." Each understood the other.
The tie was that of absolute comradeship.

"I don't believe in it, boys," said Mr. Beecher when Edward and his
friend broached the syndicate letter to him. "No one yet ever made a
cent out of my supposed literary work."

All the more reason, was the argument, why some one should.

Mr. Beecher smiled! How well he knew the youthful enthusiasm that rushes
in, etc.

"Well, all right, boys! I like your pluck," he finally said. "I'll help
you if I can."

The boys agreed to pay Mr. Beecher a weekly sum of two hundred and fifty
dollars--which he knew was considerable for them.

When the first article had been written they took him their first check.
He looked at it quizzically, and then at the boys. Then he said simply:
"Thank you." He took a pin and pinned the check to his desk. There it
remained, much to the curiosity of the two boys.

The following week he had written the second article and the boys gave
him another check. He pinned that up over the other. "I like to look at
them," was his only explanation, as he saw Edward's inquiring glance one
morning.

The third check was treated the same way. When the boys handed him the
fourth, one morning, as he was pinning it up over the others, he asked:
"When do you get your money from the newspapers?"

He was told that the bills were going out that morning for the four
letters constituting a month's service.

"I see," he remarked.

A fortnight passed, then one day Mr. Beecher asked: "Well, how are the
checks coming in?"

"Very well," he was assured.

"Suppose you let me see how much you've got in," he suggested, and the
boys brought the accounts to him.

After looking at them he said: "That's very interesting. How much have
you in the bank?"

He was told the balance, less the checks given to him. "But I haven't
turned them in yet," he explained. "Anyhow, you have enough in bank to
meet the checks you have given me, and a profit besides, haven't you?"

He was assured they had.

Then, taking his bank-book from a drawer, he unpinned the six checks on
his desk, indorsed each thus: wrote a deposit-slip, and, handing the
book to Edward, said:

  For deposit (??) in Bank
  H. W. Beecher

"Just hand that in at the bank as you go by, will you?"

Edward was very young then, and Mr. Beecher's methods of financiering
seemed to him quite in line with current notions of the Plymouth
pastor's lack of business knowledge. But as the years rolled on the
incident appeared in a new light--a striking example of the great
preacher's wonderful considerateness.

Edward had offered to help Mr. Beecher with his correspondence; at the
close of one afternoon, while he was with the Plymouth pastor at work,
an organ-grinder and a little girl came under the study window. A cold,
driving rain was pelting down. In a moment Mr. Beecher noticed the
girl's bare toes sticking out of her worn shoes.

He got up, went into the hall, and called for one of his granddaughters.

"Got any good, strong rain boots?" he asked when she appeared.

"Why, yes, grandfather. Why?" was the answer.

"More than one pair?" Mr. Beecher asked.

"Yes, two or three, I think."

"Bring me your strongest pair, will you, dear?" he asked. And as the
girl looked at him with surprise he said: "Just one of my notions."

"Now, just bring that child into the house and put them on her feet for
me, will you?" he said when the shoes came. "I'll be able to work so
much better."

One rainy day, as Edward was coming up from Fulton Ferry with Mr.
Beecher, they met an old woman soaked with the rain. "Here, you take
this, my good woman," said the clergyman, putting his umbrella over her
head and thrusting the handle into the astonished woman's hand. "Let's
get into this," he said to Edward simply, as he hailed a passing car.

"There is a good deal of fraud about beggars," he remarked as he waved a
sot away from him one day; "but that doesn't apply to women and
children," he added; and he never passed such mendicants without
stopping. All the stories about their being tools in the hands of
accomplices failed to convince him. "They're women and children," he
would say, and that settled it for him.

"What's the matter, son? Stuck?" he said once to a newsboy who was
crying with a heavy bundle of papers under his arm.

"Come along with me, then," said Mr. Beecher, taking the boy's hand and
leading him into the newspaper office a few doors up the street.

"This boy is stuck," he simply said to the man behind the counter.
"Guess The Eagle can stand it better than this boy; don't you think so?"

To the grown man Mr. Beecher rarely gave charity. He believed in a
return for his alms.

"Why don't you go to work?" he asked of a man who approached him one day
in the street.

"Can't find any," said the man.

"Looked hard for it?" was the next question.

"I have," and the man looked Mr. Beecher in the eye.

"Want some?" asked Mr. Beecher.

"I do," said the man.

"Come with me," said the preacher. And then to Edward, as they walked
along with the man following behind, he added: "That man is honest."

"Let this man sweep out the church," he said to the sexton when they had
reached Plymouth Church.

"But, Mr. Beecher," replied the sexton with wounded pride, "it doesn't
need it."

"Don't tell him so, though," said Mr. Beecher with a merry twinkle of
the eye; and the sexton understood.

Mr. Beecher was constantly thoughtful of a struggling young man's
welfare, even at the expense of his own material comfort. Anxious to
save him from the labor of writing out the newspaper articles, Edward,
himself employed during the daylight hours which Mr. Beecher preferred
for his original work, suggested a stenographer. The idea appealed to
Mr. Beecher, for he was very busy just then. He hesitated, but as Edward
persisted, he said: "All right; let him come to-morrow."

The next day he said: "I asked that stenographer friend of yours not to
come again. No use of my trying to dictate. I am too old to learn new
tricks. Much easier for me to write myself."

Shortly after that, however, Mr. Beecher dictated to Edward some
material for a book he was writing. Edward naturally wondered at this,
and asked the stenographer what had happened.

"Nothing," he said. "Only Mr. Beecher asked me how much it would cost
you to have me come to him each week. I told him, and then he sent me
away."

That was Henry Ward Beecher!

Edward Bok was in the formative period between boyhood and young manhood
when impressions meant lessons, and associations meant ideals. Mr.
Beecher never disappointed. The closer one got to him, the greater he
became--in striking contrast to most public men, as Edward had already
learned.

Then, his interests and sympathies were enormously wide. He took in so
much! One day Edward was walking past Fulton Market, in New York City,
with Mr. Beecher.

"Never skirt a market," the latter said; "always go through it. It's the
next best thing, in the winter, to going South."

Of course all the marketmen knew him, and they knew, too, his love for
green things.

"What do you think of these apples, Mr. Beecher?" one marketman would
stop to ask.

Mr. Beecher would answer heartily: "Fine! Don't see how you grow them.
All that my trees bear is a crop of scale. Still, the blossoms are
beautiful in the spring, and I like an apple-leaf. Ever examine one?"
The marketman never had. "Well, now, do, the next time you come across
an apple-tree in the spring."

And thus he would spread abroad an interest in the beauties of nature
which were commonly passed over.

"Wonderful man, Beecher is," said a market dealer in green goods once.
"I had handled thousands of bunches of celery in my life and never
noticed how beautiful its top leaves were until he picked up a bunch
once and told me all about it. Now I haven't the heart to cut the leaves
off when a customer asks me."

His idea of his own vegetable-gardening at Boscobel, his Peekskill home,
was very amusing. One day Edward was having a hurried dinner,
preparatory to catching the New York train. Mr. Beecher sat beside the
boy, telling him of some things he wished done in Brooklyn.

"No, I thank you," said Edward, as the maid offered him some potatoes.

"Look here, young man," said Mr. Beecher, "don't pass those potatoes so
lightly. They're of my own raising--and I reckon they cost me about a
dollar a piece," he added with a twinkle in his eye.

He was an education in so many ways! One instance taught Edward the
great danger of passionate speech that might unconsciously wound, and
the manliness of instant recognition of the error. Swayed by an
occasion, or by the responsiveness of an audience, Mr. Beecher would
sometimes say something which was not meant as it sounded. One evening,
at a great political meeting at Cooper Union, Mr. Beecher was at his
brightest and wittiest. In the course of his remarks he had occasion to
refer to ex-President Hayes; some one in the audience called out: "He
was a softy!"

"No," was Mr. Beecher's quick response. "The country needed a poultice
at that time, and got it."

"He's dead now, anyhow," responded the voice.

"Not dead, my friend: he only sleepeth."

It convulsed the audience, of course, and the reporters took it down in
their books.

After the meeting Edward drove home with Mr. Beecher. After a while he
asked: "Well, how do you think it went?"

Edward replied he thought it went very well, except that he did not like
the reference to ex-President Hayes.

"What reference? What did I say?"

Edward repeated it.

"Did I say that?" he asked. Edward looked at him. Mr. Beecher's face was
tense. After a few moments he said: "That's generally the way with
extemporaneous remarks: they are always dangerous. The best impromptu
speeches and remarks are the carefully prepared kind," he added.

Edward told him he regretted the reference because he knew that General
Hayes would read it in the New York papers, and he would be nonplussed
to understand it, considering the cordial relations which existed
between the two men. Mr. Beecher knew of Edward's relations with the
ex-President, and they had often talked of him together.

Nothing more was said of the incident. When the Beecher home was reached
Mr. Beecher said: "Just come in a minute." He went straight to his desk,
and wrote and wrote. It seemed as if he would never stop. At last he
handed Edward an eight-page letter, closely written, addressed to
General Hayes.

"Read that, and mail it, please, on your way home. Then it'll get there
just as quickly as the New York papers will."

It was a superbly fine letter,--one of those letters which only Henry
Ward Beecher could write in his tenderest moods. And the reply which
came from Fremont, Ohio, was no less fine!



IX. Association with Henry Ward Beecher


As a letter-writer, Henry Ward Beecher was a constant wonder. He never
wrote a commonplace letter. There was always himself in it--in whatever
mood it found him.

It was not customary for him to see all his mail. As a rule Mrs. Beecher
opened it, and attended to most of it. One evening Edward was helping
Mrs. Beecher handle an unusually large number of letters. He was reading
one when Mr. Beecher happened to come in and read what otherwise he
would not have seen:

"Reverend Henry Ward Beecher.

"Dear Sir:

"I journeyed over from my New York hotel yesterday morning to hear you
preach, expecting, of course, to hear an exposition of the gospel of
Jesus Christ. Instead, I heard a political harangue, with no reason or
cohesion in it. You made an ass of yourself.

"Very truly yours, __ __.

"That's to the point," commented Mr. Beecher with a smile; and then
seating himself at his desk, he turned the sheet over and wrote:

My Dear Sir:--

"I am sorry you should have taken so long a journey to hear Christ
preached, and then heard what you are polite enough to call a 'political
harangue.' I am sorry, too, that you think I made an ass of myself. In
this connection I have but one consolation: that you didn't make an ass
of yourself. The Lord did that."

"Henry Ward Beecher.

When the Reverend T. De Witt Talmage began to come into public notice in
Brooklyn, some of Mr. Beecher's overzealous followers unwisely gave the
impression that the Plymouth preacher resented sharing with another the
pulpit fame which he alone had so long unquestioningly held. Nothing, of
course, was further from Mr. Beecher's mind. As a matter of fact, the
two men were exceedingly good friends. Mr. Beecher once met Doctor
Talmage in a crowded business thoroughfare, where they got so deeply
interested in each other's talk that they sat down in some chairs
standing in front of a furniture store. A gathering throng of intensely
amused people soon brought the two men to the realization that they had
better move. Then Mr. Beecher happened to see that back of their heads
had been, respectively, two signs: one reading, "This style $3.45," the
other, "This style $4.25."

"Well," said Mr. Beecher, as he and Doctor Talmage walked away laughing,
"I was ticketed higher than you, Talmage, anyhow."

"You're worth more," rejoined Doctor Talmage.

On another occasion, as the two men met they began to bandy each other.

"Now, Talmage," said Mr. Beecher, his eyes twinkling, "let's have it
out. My people say that Plymouth holds more people than the Tabernacle,
and your folks stand up for the Tabernacle. Now which is it? What is
your estimate?"

"Well, I should say that the Tabernacle holds about fifteen thousand
people," said Doctor Talmage with a smile.

"Good," said Mr. Beecher, at once catching the spirit. "And I say that
Plymouth accommodates, comfortably, twenty thousand people. Now, let's
tell our respective trustees that it's settled, once for all."

Mr. Beecher could never be induced to take note of what others said of
him. His friends, with more heart than head, often tried to persuade him
to answer some attack, but he invariably waved them off. He always saw
the ridiculous side of those attacks; never their serious import.

At one time a fellow Brooklyn minister, a staunch Prohibitionist,
publicly reproved Mr. Beecher for being inconsistent in his temperance
views, to the extent that he preached temperance but drank beer at his
own dinner-table. This attack angered the friends of Mr. Beecher, who
tried to persuade him to answer the charge. But the Plymouth pastor
refused. "Friend -- is a good fellow," was the only comment they could
elicit.

"But he ought to be broadened," persisted the friends.

"Well now," said Mr. Beecher, "that isn't always possible. For
instance," he continued, as that inimitable merry twinkle came into his
eyes, "sometime ago Friend -- criticised me for something I had said. I
thought he ought not to have done so, and the next time we met I told
him so. He persisted, and I felt the only way to treat him was as I
would an unruly child. So I just took hold of him, laid him face down
over my knee, and proceeded to impress him as our fathers used to do of
old. And, do you know, I found that the Lord had not made a place on him
for me to lay my hand upon."

And in the laughter which met this sally Mr. Beecher ended with "You
see, it isn't always possible to broaden a man."

Mr. Beecher was rarely angry. Once, however, he came near it; yet he was
more displeased than angry. Some of his family and Edward had gone to a
notable public affair at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where a box had
been placed at Mr. Beecher's disposal. One member of the family was a
very beautiful girl who had brought a girl-friend. Both were attired in
full evening decollete costume. Mr. Beecher came in late from another
engagement. A chair had been kept vacant for him in the immediate front
of the box, since his presence had been widely advertised, and the
audience was expecting to see him. When he came in, he doffed his coat
and was about to go to the chair reserved for him, when he stopped,
stepped back, and sat down in a chair in the rear of the box. It was
evident from his face that something had displeased him. Mrs. Beecher
leaned over and asked him, but he offered no explanation. Nothing was
said.

Edward went back to the house with Mr. Beecher; after talking awhile in
the study, the preacher, wishing to show him something, was going
up-stairs with his guest and had nearly reached the second landing when
there was the sound of a rush, the gas was quickly turned low, and two
white figures sped into one of the rooms.

"My dears," called Mr. Beecher.

"Yes, Mr. Beecher," came a voice from behind the door of the room in
question.

"Come here one minute," said Mr. Beecher.

"But we cannot," said the voice. "We are ready for bed. Wait until--"

"No; come as you are," returned Mr. Beecher.

"Let me go down-stairs," Edward interrupted.

"No; you stay right here," said Mr. Beecher.

"Why, Mr. Beecher! How can we? Isn't Edward with you?"

"You are keeping me waiting for you," was the quiet and firm answer.

There was a moment's hesitation. Then the door opened and the figures of
the two girls appeared.

"Now, turn up the gas, please, as it was," said Mr. Beecher.

"But, Mr. Beecher--"

"You heard me?"

Up went the light, and the two beautiful girls of the box stood in their
night-dresses.

"Now, why did you run away?" asked Mr. Beecher.

"Why, Mr. Beecher! How can you ask such a question?" pouted one of the
girls, looking at her dress and then at Edward.

"Exactly," said Mr. Beecher. "Your modesty leads you to run away from
this young man because he might possibly see you under a single light in
dresses that cover your entire bodies, while that same modesty did not
prevent you all this evening from sitting beside him, under a myriad of
lights, in dresses that exposed nearly half of your bodies. That's what
I call a distinction with a difference--with the difference to the
credit neither of your intelligence nor of your modesty. There is some
modesty in the dresses you have on: there was precious little in what
you girls wore this evening. Good night."

"You do not believe, Mr. Beecher," Edward asked later, "in decollete
dressing for girls?"

"No, and even less for women. A girl has some excuse of youth on her
side; a woman none at all."

A few moments later he added:

"A proper dress for any girl or woman is one that reveals the lady, but
not her person."

Edward asked Mrs. Beecher one day whether Mr. Beecher had ever expressed
an opinion of his sister's famous book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and she told
this interesting story of how the famous preacher read the story:

"When the story was first published in The National Era, in chapters,
all our family, excepting Mr. Beecher, looked impatiently for its
appearance each week. But, try as we might, we could not persuade Mr.
Beecher to read it, or let us tell him anything about it.

"'It's folly for you to be kept in constant excitement week after week,'
he would say. 'I shall wait till the work is completed, and take it all
at one dose.'

"After the serial ended, the book came to Mr. Beecher on the morning of
a day when he had a meeting on hand for the afternoon and a speech to
make in the evening. The book was quietly laid one side, for he always
scrupulously avoided everything that could interfere with work he was
expected to do. But the next day was a free day. Mr. Beecher rose even
earlier than usual, and as soon as he was dressed he began to read Uncle
Tom's Cabin. When breakfast was ready he took his book with him to the
table, where reading and eating went on together; but he spoke never a
word. After morning prayers, he threw himself on the sofa, forgot
everything but his book, and read uninterruptedly till dinner-time.
Though evidently intensely interested, for a long time he controlled any
marked indication of it. Before noon I knew the storm was gathering that
would conquer his self-control, as it had done with us all. He
frequently 'gave way to his pocket-handkerchief,' to use one of his old
humorous remarks, in a most vigorous manner. In return for his teasing
me for reading the work weekly, I could not refrain from saying
demurely, as I passed him once: 'You seem to have a severe cold, Henry.
How could you have taken it?' But what did I gain? Not even a
half-annoyed shake of the head, or the semblance of a smile. I might as
well have spoken to the Sphinx.

"When reminded that the dinner-bell had rung, he rose and went to the
table, still with his book in his hand. He asked the blessing with a
tremor in his voice, which showed the intense excitement under which he
was laboring. We were alone at the table, and there was nothing to
distract his thoughts. He drank his coffee, ate but little, and returned
to his reading, with no thought of indulging in his usual nap. His
almost uncontrollable excitement revealed itself in frequent
half-suppressed sobs.

"Mr. Beecher was a very slow reader. I was getting uneasy over the marks
of strong feeling and excitement, and longed to have him finish the
book. I could see that he entered into the whole story, every scene, as
if it were being acted right before him, and he himself were the
sufferer. He had always been a pronounced Abolitionist, and the story he
was reading roused intensely all he had felt on that subject.

"The night came on. It was growing late, and I felt impelled to urge him
to retire. Without raising his eyes from the book, he replied:

"'Soon; soon; you go; I'll come soon.'

"Closing the house, I went to our room; but not to sleep. The clock
struck twelve, one, two, three; and then, to my great relief, I heard
Mr. Beecher coming up-stairs. As he entered, he threw Uncle Tom's Cabin
on the table, exclaiming: 'There; I've done it! But if Hattie Stowe ever
writes anything more like that I'll--well! She has nearly killed me.'

"And he never picked up the book from that day."

Any one who knew Henry Ward Beecher at all knew of his love of books. He
was, however, most prodigal in lending his books and he always forgot
the borrowers. Then when he wanted a certain volume from his library he
could not find it. He would, of course, have forgotten the borrower, but
he had a unique method of tracing the book.

One evening the great preacher suddenly appeared at a friend's house
and, quietly entering the drawing-room without removing his overcoat, he
walked up to his friend and said:

"Rossiter, why don't you bring back that Ruskin of mine that I lent
you?"

The man colored to the roots of his hair. "Why, Mr. Beecher," he said,
"I'll go up-stairs and get it for you right away. I would not have kept
it so long, only you told me I might."

At this Beecher burst into a fit of merry laughter. "Found! Found!" he
shouted, as he took off his overcoat and threw himself into a chair.

When he could stop laughing, he said: "You know, Rossiter, that I am
always ready to lend my books to any one who will make good use of them
and bring them back, but I always forget to whom I lend them. It
happened, in this case, that I wanted that volume of Ruskin about a week
ago; but when I went to the shelf for it, it was gone. I knew I must
have lent it, but to whom I could not remember. During the past week, I
began to demand the book of every friend I met to whom I might have lent
it. Of course, every one of them protested innocence; but at last I've
struck the guilty man. I shall know, in future, how to find my missing
books. The plan works beautifully."

One evening, after supper, Mr. Beecher said to his wife:

"Mother, what material have we among our papers about our early Indiana
days?"

Mr. Beecher had long been importuned to write his autobiography, and he
had decided to do it after he had finished his Life of Christ.

Mrs. Beecher had two boxes brought into the room.

"Suppose you look into that box, if you will," said Mr. Beecher to
Edward, "and I'll take this one, and we'll see what we can find about
that time. Mother, you supervise and see how we look on the floor."

And Mr. Beecher sat down on the floor in front of one box,
shoemaker-fashion, while Edward, likewise on the floor, started on the
other box.

It was a dusty job, and the little room began to be filled with
particles of dust which set Mrs. Beecher coughing. At last she said:
"I'll leave you two to finish. I have some things to do up-stairs, and
then I'll retire. Don't be too late, Henry," she said.

It was one of those rare evenings for Mr. Beecher--absolutely free from
interruption; and, with his memory constantly taken back to his early
days, he continued in a reminiscent mood that was charmingly intimate to
the boy.

"Found something?" he asked at one intermission when quiet had reigned
longer than usual, and he saw Edward studying a huge pile of papers.

"No, sir," said the boy. "Only a lot of papers about a suit."

"What suit?" asked Mr. Beecher mechanically, with his head buried in his
box.

"I don't know, sir," Edward replied naively, little knowing what he was
reopening to the preacher. "'Tilton versus Beecher' they are marked."

Mr. Beecher said nothing, and after the boy had fingered the papers he
chanced to look in the preacher's direction and found him watching him
intently with a curiously serious look in his face.

"Must have been a big suit," commented the boy. "Here's another pile of
papers about it."

Edward could not make out Mr. Beecher's steady look at him as he sat
there on the floor mechanically playing with a paper in his hand.

"Yes," he finally said, "it was a big suit. What does it mean to you?"
he asked suddenly.

"To me?" Edward asked. "Nothing, sir. Why?"

Mr. Beecher said nothing for a few moments, and turned to his box to
examine some more papers.

Then the boy asked: "Was the Beecher in this suit you, Mr. Beecher?"

Again was turned on him that serious, questioning look.

"Yes," he said after a bit. Then he thought again for a few moments and
said: "How old were you in 1875?"

"Twelve," the boy replied.

"Twelve," he repeated. "Twelve."

He turned again to his box and Edward to his.

"There doesn't seem to be anything more in this box," the boy said, "but
more papers in that suit," and he began to put the papers back.

"What do you know about that 'suit,' as you call it?" asked Mr. Beecher,
stopping in his work.

"Nothing," was the reply. "I never heard of it."

"Never heard of it?" he repeated, and he fastened that curious look upon
Edward again. It was so compelling that it held the boy. For several
moments they looked at each other. Neither spoke.

"That seems strange," he said, at last, as he renewed the search of his
box. "Never heard of it," he repeated almost to himself.

Then for fully five minutes not a word was spoken.

"But you will some day," said Mr. Beecher suddenly.

"I will what, Mr. Beecher?" asked the boy. He had forgotten the previous
remark.

Mr. Beecher looked at Edward and sighed. "Hear about it," he said.

"I don't think I understand you," was the reply.

"No, I don't think you do," he said. "I mean, you will some day hear
about that suit. And I don't know," then he hesitated, "but--but you
might as well get it straight. You say you were twelve then," he mused.
"What were you doing when you were twelve?"

"Going to school," was the reply.

"Yes, of course," said Mr. Beecher. "Well," he continued, turning on his
haunches so that his back rested against the box, "I am going to tell
you the story of that suit, and then you'll know it."

Edward said nothing, and then began the recital of a story that he was
destined to remember. It was interesting then, as Mr. Beecher
progressed; but how thrice interesting that wonderful recital was to
prove as the years rolled by and the boy realized the wonderful telling
of that of all stories by Mr. Beecher himself!

Slowly, and in that wonderfully low, mellow voice that so many knew and
loved, step by step, came the unfolding of that remarkable story. Once
or twice only did the voice halt, as when, after he had explained the
basis of the famous suit, he said:

"Those were the charges. That is what it was all about."

Then he looked at Edward and asked: "Do you know just what such charges
mean?"

"I think I do," Edward replied, and the question was asked with such
feeling, and the answer was said so mechanically, that Mr. Beecher
replied simply: "Perhaps."

"Well," he continued, "the suit was a 'long one,' as you said. For days
and weeks, yes, for months, it went on, from January to July, and those
were very full days: full of so many things that you would hardly
understand."

And then he told the boy as much of the days in court as he thought he
would understand, and how the lawyers worked and worked, in court all
day, and up half the night, preparing for the next day. "Mostly around
that little table there," he said, pointing to a white, marble-topped
table against which the boy was leaning, and which now stands in Edward
Bok's study.

"Finally the end came," he said, "after--well, months. To some it seemed
years," said Mr. Beecher, and his eyes looked tired.

"Well," he continued, "the case went to the jury: the men, you know, who
had to decide. There were twelve of them."

"Was it necessary that all twelve should think alike?" asked the boy.

"That was what was hoped, my boy," said Mr. Beecher--"that was what was
hoped," he repeated.

"Well, they did, didn't they?" Edward asked, as Mr. Beecher stopped.

"Nine did," he replied. "Yes; nine did. But three didn't. Three
thought--" Mr. Beecher stopped and did not finish the sentence. "But
nine did," he repeated. "Nine to three it stood. That was the decision,
and then the judge discharged the jury," he said.

There was naturally one question in the boyish mind to ask the man
before him--one question! Yet, instinctively, something within him made
him hesitate to ask that question. But at last his curiosity got the
better of the still, small voice of judgment.

"And, Mr. Beecher--" the boy began.

But Mr. Beecher knew! He knew what was at the end of the tongue, looked
clear into the boy's mind; and Edward can still see him lift that fine
head and look into his eyes, as he said, slowly and clearly:

"And the decision of the nine was in exact accord with the facts."

He had divined the question!

As the two rose from the floor that night Edward looked at the clock. It
was past midnight; Mr. Beecher had talked for two hours; the boy had
spoken hardly at all.

As the boy was going out, he turned to Mr. Beecher sitting thoughtfully
in his chair.

"Good night, Mr. Beecher," he said.

The Plymouth pastor pulled himself together, and with that wit that
never forsook him he looked at the clock, smiled, and answered: "Good
morning, I should say. God bless you, my boy." Then rising, he put his
arm around the boy's shoulders and walked with him to the door.



X. The First "Woman's Page," "Literary Leaves," and Entering Scribner's


Mr. Beecher's weekly newspaper "syndicate" letter was not only
successful in itself, it made liberal money for the writer and for its
two young publishers, but it served to introduce Edward Bok's proposed
agency to the newspapers under the most favorable conditions. With one
stroke, the attention of newspaper editors had been attracted, and
Edward concluded to take quick advantage of it. He organized the Bok
Syndicate Press, with offices in New York, and his brother, William J.
Bok, as partner and active manager. Edward's days were occupied, of
course, with his duties in the Holt publishing house, where he was
acquiring a first-hand knowledge of the business.

Edward's attention was now turned, for the first time, to women and
their reading habits. He became interested in the fact that the American
woman was not a newspaper reader. He tried to find out the psychology of
this, and finally reached the conclusion, on looking over the
newspapers, that the absence of any distinctive material for women was a
factor. He talked the matter over with several prominent New York
editors, who frankly acknowledged that they would like nothing better
than to interest women, and make them readers of their papers. But they
were equally frank in confessing that they were ignorant both of what
women wanted, and, even if they knew, of where such material was to be
had. Edward at once saw that here was an open field. It was a productive
field, since, as woman was the purchasing power, it would benefit the
newspaper enormously in its advertising if it could offer a feminine
clientele.

There was a bright letter of New York gossip published in the New York
Star, called "Bab's Babble." Edward had read it, and saw the possibility
of syndicating this item as a woman's letter from New York. He
instinctively realized that women all over the country would read it. He
sought out the author, made arrangements with her and with former
Governor Dorscheimer, owner of the paper, and the letter was sent out to
a group of papers. It was an instantaneous success, and a syndicate of
ninety newspapers was quickly organized.

Edward followed this up by engaging Ella Wheeler Wilcox, then at the
height of her career, to write a weekly letter on women's topics. This
he syndicated in conjunction with the other letter, and the editors
invariably grouped the two letters. This, in turn, naturally led to the
idea of supplying an entire page of matter of interest to women. The
plan was proposed to a number of editors, who at once saw the
possibilities in it and promised support. The young syndicator now laid
under contribution all the famous women writers of the day; he chose the
best of the men writers to write on women's topics; and it was not long
before the syndicate was supplying a page of women's material. The
newspapers played up the innovation, and thus was introduced into the
newspaper press of the United States the "Woman's Page."

The material supplied by the Bok Syndicate Press was of the best; the
standard was kept high; the writers were selected from among the most
popular authors of the day; and readability was the cardinal note. The
women bought the newspapers containing the new page, the advertiser
began to feel the presence of the new reader, and every newspaper that
could not get the rights for the "Bok Page," as it came to be known,
started a "Woman's Page" of it own. Naturally, the material so obtained
was of an inferior character. No single newspaper could afford what the
syndicate, with the expense divided among a hundred newspapers, could
pay. Nor had the editors of these woman's pages either a standard or a
policy. In desperation they engaged any person they could to "get a lot
of woman's stuff." It was stuff, and of the trashiest kind. So that
almost coincident with the birth of the idea began its abuse and
disintegration; the result we see in the meaningless presentations which
pass for "woman's pages" in the newspaper of to-day.

This is true even of the woman's material in the leading newspapers, and
the reason is not difficult to find. The average editor has, as a rule,
no time to study the changing conditions of women's interests; his time
is and must be engrossed by the news and editorial pages. He usually
delegates the Sunday "specials" to some editor who, again, has little
time to study the ever-changing women's problems, particularly in these
days, and he relies upon unintelligent advice, or he places his "woman's
page" in the hands of some woman with the comfortable assurance that,
being a woman, she ought to know what interests her sex.

But having given the subject little thought, he attaches minor
importance to the woman's "stuff," regarding it rather in the light of
something that he "must carry to catch the women"; and forthwith he
either forgets it or refuses to give the editor of his woman's page even
a reasonable allowance to spend on her material. The result is, of
course, inevitable: pages of worthless material. There is, in fact, no
part of the Sunday newspaper of to-day upon which so much good and now
expensive white paper is wasted as upon the pages marked for the home,
for women, and for children.

Edward Bok now became convinced, from his book-publishing association,
that if the American women were not reading the newspapers, the American
public, as a whole, was not reading the number of books that it should,
considering the intelligence and wealth of the people, and the cheap
prices at which books were sold. He concluded to see whether he could
not induce the newspapers to give larger and more prominent space to the
news of the book world.

Owing to his constant contact with authors, he was in a peculiarly
fortunate position to know their plans in advance of execution, and he
was beginning to learn the ins and outs of the book-publishing world. He
canvassed the newspapers subscribing to his syndicate features, but
found a disinclination to give space to literary news. To the average
editor, purely literary features held less of an appeal than did the
features for women. Fewer persons were interested in books, they
declared; besides, the publishing houses were not so liberal advertisers
as the department stores. The whole question rested on a commercial
basis.

Edward believed he could convince editors of the public interest in a
newsy, readable New York literary letter, and he prevailed upon the
editor of the New York Star to allow him to supplement the book reviews
of George Parsons Lathrop in that paper by a column of literary chat
called "Literary Leaves." For a number of weeks he continued to write
this department, and confine it to the New York paper, feeling that he
needed the experience for the acquirement of a readable style, and he
wanted to be sure that he had opened a sufficient number of productive
news channels to ensure a continuous flow of readable literary
information.

Occasionally he sent to an editor here and there what he thought was a
particularly newsy letter just "for his information, not for sale." The
editor of the Philadelphia Times was the first to discover that his
paper wanted the letter, and the Boston Journal followed suit. Then the
editor of the Cincinnati Times-Star discovered the letter in the New
York Star, and asked that it be supplied weekly with the letter. These
newspapers renamed the letter "Bok's Literary Leaves," and the feature
started on its successful career.

Edward had been in the employ of Henry Holt and Company as clerk and
stenographer for two years when Mr. Cary sent for him and told him that
there was an opening in the publishing house of Charles Scribner's Sons,
if he wanted to make a change. Edward saw at once the larger
opportunities possible in a house of the importance of the Scribners,
and he immediately placed himself in communication with Mr. Charles
Scribner, with the result that in January, 1884, he entered the employ
of these publishers as stenographer to the two members of the firm and
to Mr. Edward L. Burlingame, literary adviser to the house. He was to
receive a salary of eighteen dollars and thirty-three cents per week,
which was then considered a fair wage for stenographic work. The
typewriter had at that time not come into use, and all letters were
written in long-hand. Once more his legible handwriting had secured for
him a position.

Edward Bok was now twenty-one years of age. He had already done a
prodigious amount of work for a boy of his years. He was always busy.
Every spare moment of his evenings was devoted either to writing his
literary letter, to the arrangement or editing of articles for his
newspaper syndicate, to the steady acquirement of autograph letters in
which he still persisted, or to helping Mr. Beecher in his literary
work. The Plymouth pastor was particularly pleased with Edward's
successful exploitation of his pen work; and he afterward wrote: "Bok is
the only man who ever seemed to make my literary work go and get money
out of it."

Enterprise and energy the boy unquestionably possessed, but one need
only think back even thus far in his life to see the continuous good
fortune which had followed him in the friendships he had made, and in
the men with whom his life, at its most formative period, had come into
close contact. If we are inclined to credit young Bok with an
ever-willingness to work and a certain quality of initiative, the
influences which played upon him must also be taken into account.

Take, for example, the peculiarly fortuitous circumstances under which
he entered the Scribner publishing house. As stenographer to the two
members of the firm, Bok was immediately brought into touch with the
leading authors of the day, their works as they were discussed in the
correspondence dictated to him, and the authors' terms upon which books
were published. In fact, he was given as close an insight as it was
possible for a young man to get into the inner workings of one of the
large publishing houses in the United States, with a list peculiarly
noted for the distinction of its authors and the broad scope of its
books.

The Scribners had the foremost theological list of all the publishing
houses; its educational list was exceptionally strong; its musical list
excelled; its fiction represented the leading writers of the day; its
general list was particularly noteworthy; and its foreign department,
importing the leading books brought out in Great Britain and Europe, was
an outstanding feature of the business. The correspondence dictated to
Bok covered, naturally, all these fields, and a more remarkable
opportunity for self-education was never offered a stenographer.

Mr. Burlingame was known in the publishing world for his singularly keen
literary appreciation, and was accepted as one of the best judges of
good fiction. Bok entered the Scribner employ as Mr. Burlingame was
selecting the best short stories published within a decade for a set of
books to be called "Short Stories by American Authors." The
correspondence for this series was dictated to Bok, and he decided to
read after Mr. Burlingame and thus get an idea of the best fiction of
the day. So whenever his chief wrote to an author asking for permission
to include his story in the proposed series, Bok immediately hunted up
the story and read it.

Later, when the house decided to start Scribner's Magazine, and Mr.
Burlingame was selected to be its editor, all the preliminary
correspondence was dictated to Bok through his employers, and he
received a first-hand education in the setting up of the machinery
necessary for the publication of a magazine. All this he eagerly
absorbed.

He was again fortunate in that his desk was placed in the advertising
department of the house; and here he found, as manager, an old-time
Brooklyn boy friend with whom he had gone to school: Frank N. Doubleday,
to-day the senior partner of Doubleday, Page and Company. Bok had been
attracted to advertising through his theatre programme and Brooklyn
Magazine experience, and here was presented a chance to learn the art at
first hand and according to the best traditions. So, whenever his
stenographic work permitted, he assisted Mr. Doubleday in preparing and
placing the advertisements of the books of the house.

Mr. Doubleday was just reviving the publication of a house-organ called
The Book Buyer, and, given a chance to help in this, Bok felt he was
getting back into the periodical field, especially since, under Mr.
Doubleday's guidance, the little monthly soon developed into a literary
magazine of very respectable size and generally bookish contents.

The house also issued another periodical, The Presbyterian Review, a
quarterly under the editorship of a board of professors connected with
the Princeton and Union Theological Seminaries. This ponderous-looking
magazine was not composed of what one might call "light reading," and as
the price of a single copy was eighty cents, and the advertisements it
could reasonably expect were necessarily limited in number, the
periodical was rather difficult to move. Thus the whole situation at the
Scribners' was adapted to give Edward an all-round training in the
publishing business. It was an exceptional opportunity.

He worked early and late. An increase in his salary soon told him that
he was satisfying his employers, and then, when the new Scribner's
Magazine appeared, and a little later Mr. Doubleday was delegated to
take charge of the business end of it, Bok himself was placed in charge
of the advertising department, with the publishing details of the two
periodicals on his hands.

He suddenly found himself directing a stenographer instead of being a
stenographer himself. Evidently his apprentice days were over. He had,
in addition, the charge of sending all the editorial copies of the new
books to the press for review, and of keeping a record of those reviews.
This naturally brought to his desk the authors of the house who wished
to see how the press received their works.

The study of the writers who were interested in following the press
notices of their books, and those who were indifferent to them became a
fascinating game to young Bok. He soon discovered that the greater the
author the less he seemed to care about his books once they were
published. Bok noticed this, particularly, in the case of Robert Louis
Stevenson, whose work had attracted him, but, although he used the most
subtle means to inveigle the author into the office to read the press
notices, he never succeeded. Stevenson never seemed to have the
slightest interest in what the press said of his books.

One day Mr. Burlingame asked Bok to take some proofs to Stevenson at his
home; thinking it might be a propitious moment to interest the author in
the popular acclaim that followed the publication of Doctor Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde, Bok put a bunch of press notices in his pocket. He found the
author in bed, smoking his inevitable cigarette.

As the proofs were to be brought back, Bok waited, and thus had an
opportunity for nearly two hours to see the author at work. No man ever
went over his proofs more carefully than did Stevenson; his corrections
were numerous; and sometimes for ten minutes at a time he would sit
smoking and thinking over a single sentence, which, when he had
satisfactorily shaped it in his mind, he would recast on the proof.

Stevenson was not a prepossessing figure at these times. With his sallow
skin and his black dishevelled hair, with finger-nails which had been
allowed to grow very long, with fingers discolored by tobacco--in short,
with a general untidiness that was all his own, Stevenson, so Bok felt,
was an author whom it was better to read than to see. And yet his
kindliness and gentleness more than offset the unattractiveness of his
physical appearance.

After one or two visits from Bok, having grown accustomed to him,
Stevenson would discuss some sentence in an article, or read some
amended paragraph out loud and ask whether Bok thought it sounded
better. To pass upon Stevenson as a stylist was, of course, hardly
within Bok's mental reach, so he kept discreetly silent when Stevenson
asked his opinion.

In fact, Bok reasoned it out that the novelist did not really expect an
answer or an opinion, but was at such times thinking aloud. The mental
process, however, was immensely interesting, particularly when Stevenson
would ask Bok to hand him a book on words lying on an adjacent table.
"So hard to find just the right word," Stevenson would say, and Bok got
his first realization of the truth of the maxim: "Easy writing, hard
reading; hard writing, easy reading."

On this particular occasion when Stevenson finished, Bok pulled out his
clippings, told the author how his book was being received, and was
selling, what the house was doing to advertise it, explained the
forthcoming play by Richard Mansfield, and then offered the press
notices.

Stevenson took the bundle and held it in his hand.

"That's very nice to tell me all you have," he said, "and I have been
greatly interested. But you have really told me all about it, haven't
you, so why should I read these notices? Hadn't I better get busy on
another paper for Mr. Burlingame for the next magazine, else he'll be
after me? You know how impatient these editors are." And he handed back
the notices.

Bok saw it was of no use: Stevenson was interested in his work, but,
beyond a certain point, not in the world's reception of it. Bok's
estimate of the author rose immeasurably. His attitude was in such sharp
contrast to that of others who came almost daily into the office to see
what the papers said, often causing discomfiture to the young
advertising director by insisting upon taking the notices with them. But
Bok always countered this desire by reminding the author that, of
course, in that case he could not quote from these desirable notices in
his advertisements of the book. And, invariably, the notices were left
behind!

It now fell to the lot of the young advertiser to arouse the interest of
the public in what were to be some of the most widely read and
best-known books of the day: Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde; Frances Hodgson Burnett's Little Lord Fauntleroy; Andrew
Carnegie's Triumphant Democracy; Frank R. Stockton's The Lady, or the
Tiger? and his Rudder Grange, and a succession of other books.

The advertising of these books keenly sharpened the publicity sense of
the developing advertising director. One book could best be advertised
by the conventional means of the display advertisement; another, like
Triumphant Democracy, was best served by sending out to the newspapers a
"broadside" of pungent extracts; public curiosity in a novel like The
Lady, or the Tiger? was, of course, whetted by the publication of
literary notes as to the real denouement the author had in mind in
writing the story. Whenever Mr. Stockton came into the office Bok pumped
him dry as to his experiences with the story, such as when, at a dinner
party, his hostess served an ice-cream lady and a tiger to the author,
and the whole company watched which he chose.

"And which did you choose?" asked the advertising director.

"_Et tu, Brute?_" Stockton smilingly replied. "Well, I'll tell you. I
asked the butler to bring me another spoon, and then, with a spoon in
each hand, I attacked both the lady and the tiger at the same time."

Once, when Stockton was going to Boston by the night boat, every room
was taken. The ticket agent recognized the author, and promised to get
him a desirable room if the author would tell which he had had in mind,
the lady or the tiger.

"Produce the room," answered Stockton.

The man did. Stockton paid for it, and then said: "To tell you the
truth, my friend, I don't know."

And that was the truth, as Mr. Stockton confessed to his friends. The
idea of the story had fascinated him; when he began it he purposed to
give it a definite ending. But when he reached the end he didn't know
himself which to produce out of the open door, the lady or the tiger,
"and so," he used to explain, "I made up my mind to leave it hanging in
the air."

To the present generation of readers, all this reference to Stockton's
story may sound strange, but for months it was the most talked-of story
of the time, and sold into large numbers.

One day while Mr. Stockton was in Bok's office, A. B. Frost, the
illustrator, came in. Frost had become a full-fledged farmer with one
hundred and twenty acres of Jersey land, and Stockton had a large farm
in the South which was a financial burden to him.

"Well, Stockton," said Frost, "I have found a way at last to make a farm
stop eating up money. Perhaps it will help you."

Stockton was busy writing, but at this bit of hopeful news he looked up,
his eyes kindled, he dropped his pen, and eagerly said:

"Tell me."

And looking behind him to see that the way was clear, Frost answered:

"Pave it solid, old man."

When the stories of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Little Lord Fauntleroy
were made into plays, Bok was given an opportunity for an entirely
different kind of publicity. Both plays were highly successful; they ran
for weeks in succession, and each evening Bok had circulars of the books
in every seat of the theatre; he had a table filled with the books in
the foyer of each theatre; and he bombarded the newspapers with stories
of Mr. Mansfield's method of making the quick change from one character
to the other in the dual role of the Stevenson play, and with anecdotes
about the boy Tommy Russell in Mrs. Burnett's play. The sale of the
books went merrily on, and kept pace with the success of the plays. And
it all sharpened the initiative of the young advertiser and developed
his sense for publicity.

One day while waiting in the anteroom of a publishing house to see a
member of the firm, he picked up a book and began to read it. Since he
had to wait for nearly an hour, he had read a large part of the volume
when he was at last admitted to the private office. When his business
was finished, Bok asked the publisher why this book was not selling.

"I don't know," replied the publisher. "We had great hopes for it, but
somehow or other the public has not responded to it."

"Are you sure you are telling the public about it in the right way?"
ventured Bok.

The Scribner advertising had by this time attracted the attention of the
publishing world, and this publisher was entirely ready to listen to a
suggestion from his youthful caller.

"I wish we published it," said Bok. "I think I could make it a go. It's
all in the book."

"How would you advertise it?" asked the publisher.

Bok promised the publisher he would let him know. He carried with him a
copy of the book, wrote some advertisements for it, prepared an
attractive "broadside" of extracts, to which the book easily lent
itself, wrote some literary notes about it, and sent the whole
collection to the publisher. Every particle of "copy" which Bok had
prepared was used, the book began to sell, and within three months it
was the most discussed book of the day.

The book was Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward".



XI. The Chances for Success


Edward Bok does not now remember whether the mental picture had been
given him, or whether he had conjured it up for himself; but he
certainly was possessed of the idea, as are so many young men entering
business, that the path which led to success was very difficult: that it
was overfilled with a jostling, bustling, panting crowd, each eager to
reach the goal; and all ready to dispute every step that a young man
should take; and that favoritism only could bring one to the top.

After Bok had been in the world of affairs, he wondered where were these
choked avenues, these struggling masses, these competitors for every
inch of vantage. Then he gradually discovered that they did not exist.

In the first place, he found every avenue leading to success wide open
and certainly not over-peopled. He was surprised how few there were who
really stood in a young man's way. He found that favoritism was not the
factor that he had been led to suppose. He realized it existed in a few
isolated cases, but to these every one had pointed and about these every
one had talked until, in the public mind, they had multiplied in number
and assumed a proportion that the facts did not bear out.

Here and there a relative "played a favorite," but even with the push
and influence behind him "the lucky one," as he was termed, did not seem
to make progress, unless he had merit. It was not long before Bok
discovered that the possession of sheer merit was the only real factor
that actually counted in any of the places where he had been employed or
in others which he had watched; that business was so constructed and
conducted that nothing else, in the face of competition, could act as
current coin. And the amazing part of it all to Bok was how little merit
there was. Nothing astonished him more than the low average ability of
those with whom he worked or came into contact.

He looked at the top, and instead of finding it overcrowded, he was
surprised at the few who had reached there; the top fairly begged for
more to climb its heights.

For every young man, earnest, eager to serve, willing to do more than he
was paid for, he found ten trying to solve the problem of how little
they could actually do for the pay received.

It interested Bok to listen to the talk of his fellow-workers during
luncheon hours and at all other times outside of office hours. When the
talk did turn on the business with which they were concerned, it
consisted almost entirely of wages, and he soon found that, with
scarcely an exception, every young man was terribly underpaid, and that
his employer absolutely failed to appreciate his work. It was
interesting, later, when Bok happened to get the angle of the employer,
to discover that, invariably, these same lamenting young men were those
who, from the employer's point of view, were either greatly overpaid or
so entirely worthless as to be marked for early decapitation.

Bok felt that this constant thought of the wages earned or deserved was
putting the cart before the horse; he had schooled himself into the
belief that if he did his work well, and accomplished more than was
expected of him, the question of wages would take care of itself. But,
according to the talk on every side, it was he who had the cart before
the horse. Bok had not only tried always to fill the particular job set
for him but had made it a rule at the same time to study the position
just ahead, to see what it was like, what it demanded, and then, as the
opportunity presented itself, do a part of that job in addition to his
own. As a stenographer, he tried always to clear off the day's work
before he closed his desk. This was not always possible, but he kept it
before him as a rule to be followed rather than violated.

One morning Bok's employer happened to come to the office earlier than
usual, to find the letters he had dictated late in the afternoon before
lying on his desk ready to be signed.

"These are the letters I gave you late yesterday afternoon, are they
not?" asked the employer.

"Yes, sir."

"Must have started early this morning, didn't you?"

"No, sir," answered Bok. "I wrote them out last evening before I left."

"Like to get your notes written out before they get stale?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good idea," said the employer.

"Yes, sir," answered Bok, "and I think it is even a better idea to get a
day's work off before I take my apron off."

"Well said," answered the employer, and the following payday Bok found
an increase in his weekly envelope.

It is only fair, however, to add here, parenthetically, that it is
neither just nor considerate to a conscientious stenographer for an
employer to delay his dictation until the end of the day's work, when,
merely by judicious management of his affairs and time, he can give his
dictation directly after opening his morning mail. There are two sides
to every question; but sometimes the side of the stenographer is not
kept in mind by the employer.

Bok found it a uniform rule among his fellow-workers to do exactly the
opposite to his own idea; there was an astonishing unanimity in working
by the clock; where the hour of closing was five o'clock the
preparations began five minutes before, with the hat and overcoat over
the back of the chair ready for the stroke of the hour. This concert of
action was curiously universal, no "overtime" was ever to be thought of,
and, as occasionally happened when the work did go over the hour, it was
not, to use the mildest term, done with care, neatness, or accuracy; it
was, to use a current phrase, "slammed off." Every moment beyond five
o'clock in which the worker was asked to do anything was by just so much
an imposition on the part of the employer, and so far as it could be
safely shown, this impression was gotten over to him.

There was an entire unwillingness to let business interfere with any
anticipated pleasure or personal engagement. The office was all right
between nine and five; one had to be there to earn a living; but after
five, it was not to be thought of for one moment. The elevators which
ran on the stroke of five were never large enough to hold the throng
which besieged them.

The talk during lunch hour rarely, if ever, turned toward business,
except as said before, when it dealt with underpaid services. In the
spring and summer it was invariably of baseball, and scores of young men
knew the batting averages of the different players and the standing of
the clubs with far greater accuracy than they knew the standing or the
discounts of the customers of their employers. In the winter the talk
was all of dancing, boxing, or plays.

It soon became evident to Bok why scarcely five out of every hundred of
the young men whom he knew made any business progress. They were not
interested; it was a case of a day's work and a day's pay; it was not a
question of how much one could do but how little one could get away
with. The thought of how well one might do a given thing never seemed to
occur to the average mind.

"Oh, what do you care?" was the favorite expression. "The boss won't
notice it if you break your back over his work; you won't get any more
pay."

And there the subject was dismissed, and thoroughly dismissed, too.

Eventually, then, Bok learned that the path that led to success was wide
open: the competition was negligible. There was no jostling. In fact,
travel on it was just a trifle lonely. One's fellow-travellers were
excellent company, but they were few! It was one of Edward Bok's
greatest surprises, but it was also one of his greatest stimulants. To
go where others could not go, or were loath to go, where at least they
were not, had a tang that savored of the freshest kind of adventure. And
the way was so simple, so much simpler, in fact, than its avoidance,
which called for so much argument, explanation, and discussion. One had
merely to do all that one could do, a little more than one was asked or
expected to do, and immediately one's head rose above the crowd and one
was in an employer's eye--where it is always so satisfying for an
employee to be! And as so few heads lifted themselves above the many,
there was never any danger that they would not be seen.

Of course, Edward Bok had to prove to himself that his conception of
conditions was right. He felt instinctively that it was, however, and
with this stimulus he bucked the line hard. When others played, he
worked, fully convinced that his play-time would come later. Where
others shirked, he assumed. Where others lagged, he accelerated his
pace. Where others were indifferent to things around them, he observed
and put away the results for possible use later. He did not make of
himself a pack-horse; what he undertook he did from interest in it, and
that made it a pleasure to him when to others it was a burden. He
instinctively reasoned it out that an unpleasant task is never
accomplished by stepping aside from it, but that, unerringly, it will
return later to be met and done.

Obstacles, to Edward Bok, soon became merely difficulties to be
overcome, and he trusted to his instinct to show him the best way to
overcome them. He soon learned that the hardest kind of work was back of
every success; that nothing in the world of business just happened, but
that everything was brought about, and only in one way--by a willingness
of spirit and a determination to carry through. He soon exploded for
himself the misleading and comfortable theory of luck: the only lucky
people, he found, were those who worked hard. To them, luck came in the
shape of what they had earned. There were exceptions here and there, as
there are to every rule; but the majority of these, he soon found, were
more in the seeming than in the reality. Generally speaking--and of
course to this rule there are likewise exceptions, or as the Frenchman
said, "All generalizations are false, including this one"--a man got in
this world about what he worked for.

And that became, for himself, the rule of Edward Bok's life.



XII. Baptism Under Fire


The personnel of the Scribner house was very youthful from the members
of the firm clear down the line. It was veritably a house of young men.

The story is told of a Boston publisher, sedate and fairly elderly, who
came to the Scribner house to transact business with several of its
departments. One of his errands concerning itself with advertising, he
was introduced to Bok, who was then twenty-four. Looking the youth over,
he transacted his business as well as he felt it could be transacted
with a manager of such tender years, and then sought the head of the
educational department: this brought him to another young man of
twenty-four.

With his yearnings for some one more advanced in years full upon him,
the visitor now inquired for the business manager of the new magazine,
only to find a man of twenty-six. His next introduction was to the head
of the out-of-town business department, who was twenty-seven.

At this point the Boston man asked to see Mr. Scribner. This disclosed
to him Mr. Arthur H. Scribner, the junior partner, who owned to
twenty-eight summers. Mustering courage to ask faintly for Mr. Charles
Scribner himself, he finally brought up in that gentleman's office only
to meet a man just turning thirty-three!

"This is a young-looking crowd," said Mr. Scribner one day, looking over
his young men. And his eye rested on Bok. "Particularly you, Bok.
Doubleday looks his years better than you do, for at least he has a
moustache." Then, contemplatively: "You raise a moustache, Bok, and I'll
raise your salary."

This appealed to Bok very strongly, and within a month he pointed out
the result to his employer. "Stand in the light here," said Mr.
Scribner. "Well, yes," he concluded dubiously, "it's there--something at
least. All right; I'll keep my part of the bargain."

He did. But the next day he was nonplussed to see that the moustache had
disappeared from the lip of his youthful advertising manager. "Couldn't
quite stand it, Mr. Scribner," was the explanation. "Besides, you didn't
say I should keep it: you merely said to raise it."

But the increase did not follow the moustache. To Bok's great relief, it
stuck!

This youthful personnel, while it made for esprit de corps, had also its
disadvantages. One day as Bok was going out to lunch, he found a
small-statured man, rather plainly dressed, wandering around the retail
department, hoping for a salesman to wait on him. The young salesman on
duty, full of inexperience, had a ready smile and quick service ever
ready for "carriage trade," as he called it; but this particular
customer had come afoot, and this, together with his plainness of dress,
did not impress the young salesman. His attention was called to the
wandering customer, and it was suggested that he find out what was
wanted. When Bok returned from lunch, the young salesman, who, with a
beaming smile, had just most ceremoniously bowed the plainly dressed
little customer out of the street-door, said: "You certainly struck it
rich that time when you suggested my waiting on that little man! Such an
order! Been here ever since. Did you know who it was?"

"No," returned Bok. "Who was it?"

"Andrew Carnegie," beamed the salesman.

Another youthful clerk in the Scribner retail bookstore, unconscious of
the customer's identity, waited one day on the wife of Mark Twain.

Mrs. Clemens asked the young salesman for a copy of Taine's Ancient
Regime.

"Beg pardon," said the clerk, "what book did you say?"

Mrs. Clemens repeated the author and title of the book.

Going to the rear of the store, the clerk soon returned, only to
inquire: "May I ask you to repeat the name of the author?"

"Taine, T-a-i-n-e," replied Mrs. Clemens.

Then did the youthfulness of the salesman assert itself. Assuming an air
of superior knowledge, and looking at the customer with an air of
sympathy, he corrected Mrs. Clemens:

"Pardon me, madam, but you have the name a trifle wrong. You mean
Twain-not Taine."

With so many young men of the same age, there was a natural sense of
team-work and a spirit of comradeship that made for successful
co-operation. This spirit extended outside of business hours. At
luncheon there was a Scribner table in a neighboring restaurant, and
evenings saw the Scribner department heads mingling as friends. It was a
group of young men who understood and liked each other, with the natural
result that business went easier and better because of it.

But Bok did not have much time for evening enjoyment, since his outside
interests had grown and prospered and they kept him busy. His syndicate
was regularly supplying over a hundred newspapers: his literary letter
had become an established feature in thirty different newspapers.

Of course, his opportunities for making this letter interesting were
unusual. Owing to his Scribner connection, however, he had taken his
name from the letter and signed that of his brother. He had, also,
constantly to discriminate between the information that he could publish
without violation of confidence and that which he felt he was not at
liberty to print. This gave him excellent experience; for the most vital
of all essentials in the journalist is the ability unerringly to decide
what to print and what to regard as confidential.

Of course, the best things that came to him he could not print. Whenever
there was a question, he gave the benefit of the doubt to the
confidential relation in which his position placed him with authors; and
his Dutch caution, although it deprived him of many a toothsome morsel
for his letter, soon became known to his confreres, and was a large
asset when, as an editor, he had to follow the golden rule of editorship
that teaches one to keep the ears open but the mouth shut.

This Alpha and Omega of all the commandments in the editorial creed some
editors learn by sorrowful experience. Bok was, again, fortunate in
learning it under the most friendly auspices. He continued to work
without sparing himself, but his star remained in the ascendency. Just
how far a man's own efforts and standards keep a friendly star centred
over his head is a question. But Edward Bok has always felt that he was
materially helped by fortuitous conditions not of his own creation or
choice.

He was now to receive his first public baptism of fire. He had published
a symposium, through his newspaper syndicate, discussing the question,
"Should Clergymen Smoke?" He had induced all the prominent clergymen in
the country to contribute their views, and so distinguished was the list
that the article created wide-spread attention.

One of the contributors was the Reverend Richard S. Storrs, D.D., one of
the most distinguished of Brooklyn's coterie of clergy of that day. A
few days after the publication of the article, Bok was astounded to read
in the Brooklyn Eagle a sensational article, with large headlines, in
which Doctor Storrs repudiated his contribution to the symposium,
declared that he had never written or signed such a statement, and
accused Edward Bok of forgery.

Coming from a man of Doctor Storrs's prominence, the accusation was, of
course, a serious one. Bok realized this at once. He foresaw the damage
it might work to the reputation of a young man trying to climb the
ladder of success, and wondered why Doctor Storrs had seen fit to accuse
him in this public manner instead of calling upon him for a personal
explanation. He thought perhaps he might find such a letter from Doctor
Storrs when he reached home, but instead he met a small corps of
reporters from the Brooklyn and New York newspapers. He told them
frankly that no one was more surprised at the accusation than he, but
that the original contributions were in the New York office of the
syndicate, and he could not corroborate his word until he had looked
into the papers and found Doctor Storrs's contribution.

That evening Bok got at the papers in the case, and found out that,
technically, Doctor Storrs was right: he had not written or signed such
a statement. The compiler of the symposium, the editor of one of New
York's leading evening papers whom Bok had employed, had found Doctor
Storrs's declaration in favor of a clergyman's use of tobacco in an
address made some time before, had extracted it and incorporated it into
the symposium. It was, therefore, Doctor Storrs's opinion on the
subject, but not written for the occasion for which it was used. Bok
felt that his editor had led him into an indiscretion. Yet the
sentiments were those of the writer whose name was attached to them, so
that the act was not one of forgery. The editor explained that he had
sent the extract to Doctor Storrs, who had not returned it, and he had
taken silence to mean consent to the use of the material.

Bok decided to say nothing until he heard from Doctor Storrs personally,
and so told the newspapers. But the clergyman did not stop his attack.
Of course, the newspapers egged him on and extracted from him the
further accusation that Bok's silence proved his guilt. Bok now took the
case to Mr. Beecher, and asked his advice.

"Well, Edward, you are right and you are wrong," said Mr. Beecher. "And
so is Storrs, of course. It is beneath him to do what he has done.
Storrs and I are not good friends, as you know, and so I cannot go to
him and ask him the reason of his disclaimer. Otherwise I would. Of
course, he may have forgotten his remarks: that is always possible in a
busy man's life. He may not have received the letter enclosing them.
That is likewise possible. But I have a feeling that Storrs has some
reason for wishing to repudiate his views on this subject just at this
time. What it is I do not, of course, know, but his vehemence makes me
think so. I think I should let him have his rein. Keep you quiet. It may
damage you a little here and there, but in the end it won't harm you. In
the main point, you are right. You are not a forger. The sentiments are
his and he uttered them, and he should stand by them. He threatens to
bring you into court, I see from to-day's paper. Wait until he does so."

Bok, chancing to meet Doctor Talmage, told him Mr. Beecher's advice, and
he endorsed it. "Remember, boy," said Doctor Talmage, "silence is never
so golden as when you are under fire. I know, for I have been there, as
you know, more than once. Keep quiet; and always believe this: that
there is a great deal of common sense abroad in the world, and a man is
always safe in trusting it to do him justice."

They were not pleasant and easy days for Bok, for Doctor Storrs kept up
the din for several days. Bok waited for the word to appear in court.
But this never came, and the matter soon died down and out. And,
although Bok met the clergyman several times afterward in the years that
followed, no reference was ever made by him to the incident.

But Edward Bok had learned a valuable lesson of silence under fire--an
experience that was to stand him in good stead when he was again
publicly attacked not long afterward.

This occurred in connection with a notable anniversary celebration in
honor of Henry Ward Beecher, in which the entire city of Brooklyn was to
participate. It was to mark a mile-stone in Mr. Beecher's ministry and
in his pastorate of Plymouth Church. Bok planned a worldwide tribute to
the famed clergyman: he would get the most distinguished men and women
of this and other countries to express their esteem for the Plymouth
pastor in written congratulations, and he would bind these into a volume
for presentation to Mr. Beecher on the occasion. He consulted members of
the Beecher family, and, with their acquiescence, began to assemble the
material. He was in the midst of the work when Henry Ward Beecher passed
away. Bok felt that the tributes already received were too wonderful to
be lost to the world, and, after again consulting Mrs. Beecher and her
children, he determined to finish the collection and publish it as a
memorial for private distribution. After a prodigious correspondence,
the work was at last completed; and in June, 1887, the volume was
published, in a limited edition of five hundred copies. Bok distributed
copies of the volume to the members of Mr. Beecher's family, he had
orders from Mr. Beecher's friends, one hundred copies were offered to
the American public and one hundred copies were issued in an English
edition.

With such a figure to whom to do honor, the contributors, of course,
included the foremost men and women of the time. Grover Cleveland was
then President of the United States, and his tribute was a notable one.
Mr. Gladstone, the Duke of Argyll, Pasteur, Canon Farrar, Bartholdi,
Salvini, and a score of others represented English and European opinion.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, T. De Witt Talmage,
Robert G. Ingersoll, Charles Dudley Warner, General Sherman, Julia Ward
Howe, Andrew Carnegie, Edwin Booth, Rutherford B. Hayes--there was
scarcely a leader of thought and of action of that day unrepresented.
The edition was, of course, quickly exhausted; and when to-day a copy
occasionally appears at an auction sale, it is sold at a high price.

The newspapers gave very large space to the distinguished memorial, and
this fact angered a journalist, Joseph Howard, Junior, a man at one time
close to Mr. Beecher, who had befriended him. Howard had planned to be
the first in the field with a hastily prepared biography of the great
preacher, and he felt that Bok had forestalled him. Forthwith, he
launched a vicious attack on the compiler of the memorial, accusing him
of "making money out of Henry Ward Beecher's dead body" and of
"seriously offending the family of Mr. Beecher, who had had no say in
the memorial, which was therefore without authority, and hence extremely
distasteful to all."

Howard had convinced a number of editors of the justice of his position,
and so he secured a wide publication for his attack. For the second
time, Edward Bok was under fire, and remembering his action on the
previous occasion, he again remained silent, and again the argument was
put forth that his silence implied guilt. But Mrs. Beecher and members
of the Beecher family did not observe silence, and quickly proved that
not only had Bok compiled the memorial as a labor of love and had lost
money on it, but that he had the full consent of the family in its
preparation.

When, shortly afterward, Howard's hastily compiled "biography" of Mr.
Beecher appeared, a reporter asked Mrs. Beecher whether she and her
family had found it accurate.

"Accurate, my child," said Mrs. Beecher. "Why, it is so accurate in its
absolute falsity that neither I nor the boys can find one fact or date
given correctly, although we have studied it for two days. Even the year
of Mr. Beecher's birth is wrong, and that is the smallest error!"

Edward Bok little dreamed that these two experiences with public
criticism were to serve him as a foretaste of future attacks when he
would get the benefit of hundreds of pencils especially sharpened for
him.



XIII. Publishing Incidents and Anecdotes


One evening some literary men were dining together previous to going to
a private house where a number of authors were to give readings from
their books. At the table the talk turned on the carelessness with which
the public reads books. Richard Harding Davis, one of the party,
contended that the public read more carefully than the others believed.
It was just at the time when Du Maurier's Trilby was in every one's
hands.

"Don't you believe it," said one of the diners. "I'll warrant you could
take a portion of some well-known story to-night and palm it off on most
of your listeners as new stuff."

"Done," said Davis. "Come along, and I'll prove you wrong."

The reading was to be at the house of John Kendrick Bangs at Yonkers.
When Davis's "turn" in the programme came, he announced that he would
read a portion from an unpublished story written by himself. Immediately
there was a flutter in the audience, particularly among the younger
element.

Pulling a roll of manuscript out of his pocket, Davis began:

"It was a fine, sunny, showery day in April. The big studio window--"

He got no farther. Almost the entire audience broke into a shout of
laughter and applause. Davis had read thirteen of the opening words of
Trilby.

All publishing houses employ "readers" outside of those in their own
offices for the reading of manuscripts on special subjects. One of these
"outside readers" was given a manuscript for criticism. He took it home
and began its reading. He had finished only a hundred pages or so when,
by a curious coincidence, the card of the author of the manuscript was
brought to the "reader." The men were close friends.

Hastily gathering up the manuscript, the critic shoved the work into a
drawer of his desk, and asked that his friend be shown in.

The evening was passed in conversation; as the visitor rose to leave,
his host, rising also and seating himself on his desk, asked:

"What have you been doing lately? Haven't seen much of you."

"No," said the friend. "It may interest you to know that I have been
turning to literary work, and have just completed what I consider to be
an important book."

"Really?" commented the "reader."

"Yes," went on his friend. "I submitted it a few days ago to one of the
big publishing houses. But, great Scott, you can never tell what these
publishers will do with a thing of that sort. They give their
manuscripts to all kinds of fools to read. I suppose, by this time, some
idiot, who doesn't know a thing of the subject about which I have
written, is sitting on my manuscript."

Mechanically, the "reader" looked at the desk upon which he was sitting,
thought of the manuscript lying in the drawer directly under him, and
said:

"Yes, that may be. Quite likely, in fact."

Of no novel was the secret of the authorship ever so well kept as was
that of The Breadwinners, which, published anonymously in 1883, was the
talk of literary circles for a long time, and speculation as to its
authorship was renewed in the newspapers for years afterward. Bok wanted
very much to find out the author's name so that he could announce it in
his literary letter. He had his suspicions, but they were not well
founded until an amusing little incident occurred which curiously
revealed the secret to him.

Bok was waiting to see one of the members of a publishing firm when a
well-known English publisher, visiting in America, was being escorted
out of the office, the conversation continuing as the two gentlemen
walked through the outer rooms. "My chief reason," said the English
publisher, as he stopped at the end of the outer office where Bok was
sitting, "for hesitating at all about taking an English set of plates of
the novel you speak of is because it is of anonymous authorship, a
custom of writing which has grown out of all decent proportions in your
country since the issue of that stupid book, The Breadwinners."

As these last words were spoken, a man seated at a desk directly behind
the speaker looked up, smiled, and resumed reading a document which he
had dropped in to sign. A smile also spread over the countenance of the
American publisher as he furtively glanced over the shoulder of the
English visitor and caught the eye of the smiling man at the desk.

Bok saw the little comedy, realized at once that he had discovered the
author of The Breadwinners, and stated to the publisher that he intended
to use the incident in his literary letter. But it proved to be one of
those heart-rending instances of a delicious morsel of news that must be
withheld from the journalist's use. The publisher acknowledged that Bok
had happened upon the true authorship, but placed him upon his honor to
make no use of the incident. And Bok learned again the vital
journalistic lesson that there are a great many things in the world that
the journalist knows and yet cannot write about. He would have been
years in advance of the announcement finally made that John Hay wrote
the novel.

At another time, while waiting, Bok had an experience which, while
interesting, was saddening instead of amusing. He was sitting in Mark
Twain's sitting-room in his home in Hartford waiting for the humorist to
return from a walk. Suddenly sounds of devotional singing came in
through the open window from the direction of the outer conservatory.
The singing was low, yet the sad tremor in the voice seemed to give it
special carrying power.

"You have quite a devotional servant," Bok said to a maid who was
dusting the room.

"Oh, that is not a servant who is singing, sir," was the answer. "You
can step to this window and see for yourself."

Bok did so, and there, sitting alone on one of the rustic benches in the
flower-house, was a small, elderly woman. Keeping time with the first
finger of her right hand, as if with a baton, she was slightly swaying
her frail body as she sang, softly yet sweetly, Charles Wesley's hymn,
"Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and Sarah Flower Adams's "Nearer, My God, to
Thee."

But the singer was not a servant. It was Harriet Beecher Stowe!

On another visit to Hartford, shortly afterward, Bok was just turning
into Forrest Street when a little old woman came shambling along toward
him, unconscious, apparently, of people or surroundings. In her hand she
carried a small tree-switch. Bok did not notice her until just as he had
passed her he heard her calling to him: "Young man, young man." Bok
retraced his steps, and then the old lady said: "Young man, you have
been leaning against something white," and taking her tree-switch she
whipped some wall dust from the sleeve of Bok's coat. It was not until
that moment that Bok recognized in his self-appointed "brush" no less a
personage than Harriet Beecher Stowe.

"This is Mrs. Stowe, is it not?" he asked, after tendering his thanks to
her.

Those blue eyes looked strangely into his as she answered:

"That is my name, young man. I live on this street. Are you going to
have me arrested for stopping you?" with which she gathered up her
skirts and quickly ran away, looking furtively over her shoulder at the
amazed young man, sorrowfully watching the running figure!

Speaking of Mrs. Stowe brings to mind an unscrupulous and yet ingenious
trick just about this time played by a young man attached to one of the
New York publishing houses. One evening at dinner this chap happened to
be in a bookish company when the talk turned to the enthusiasm of the
Southern negro for an illustrated Bible. The young publishing clerk
listened intently, and next day he went to a Bible publishing house in
New York which issued a Bible gorgeous with pictures and entered into an
arrangement with the proprietors whereby he should have the Southern
territory. He resigned his position, and within a week he was in the
South. He made arrangements with an artist friend to make a change in
each copy of the Bible which he contracted for. The angels pictured
therein were white in color. He had these made black, so he could show
that there were black angels as well as white ones. The Bibles cost him
just eighty cents apiece. He went about the South and offered the Bibles
to the astonished and open-mouthed negroes for eight dollars each, two
dollars and a half down and the rest in monthly payments. His sales were
enormous. Then he went his rounds all over again and offered to close
out the remaining five dollars and a half due him by a final payment of
two dollars and a half each. In nearly every case the bait was
swallowed, and on each Bible he thus cleared four dollars and twenty
cents net!

Running the elevator in the building where a prominent publishing firm
had its office was a negro of more than ordinary intelligence. The firm
had just published a subscription book on mechanical engineering, a
chapter of which was devoted to the construction and operation of
passenger elevators. One of the agents selling the book thought he might
find a customer in Washington.

"Wash," said the book-agent, "you ought to buy a copy of this book, do
you know it?"

"No, boss, don't want no books. Don't git no time fo' readin' books,"
drawled Wash. "It teks all mah time to run dis elevator."

"But this book will help you to run your elevator. See here: there's a
whole chapter here on elevators," persisted the canvasser.

"Don't want no help to run dis elevator," said the darky. "Dis elevator
runs all right now."

"But," said the canvasser, "this will help you to run it better. You
will know twice as much when you get through."

"No, boss, no, dat's just it," returned Wash. "Don't want to learn
nothing, boss," he said. "Why, boss, I know more now than I git paid
for."

There was one New York newspaper that prided itself on its huge
circulation, and its advertising canvassers were particularly insistent
in securing the advertisements of publishers. Of course, the real
purpose of the paper was to secure a certain standing for itself, which
it lacked, rather than to be of any service to the publishers.

By dint of perseverance, its agents finally secured from one of the
ten-cent magazines, then so numerous, a large advertisement of a special
number, and in order to test the drawing power of the newspaper as a
medium, there was inserted a line in large black type:

"SEND TEN CENTS FOR A NUMBER."

But the compositor felt that magazine literature should be even cheaper
than it was, and to that thought in his mind his fingers responded, so
that when the advertisement appeared, this particular bold-type line
read:

"SEND TEN CENTS FOR A YEAR."

This wonderful offer appealed with singular force to the class of
readers of this particular paper, and they decided to take advantage of
it. The advertisement appeared on Sunday, and Monday's first mail
brought the magazine over eight hundred letters with ten cents enclosed
"for a year's subscription as per your advertisement in yesterday's --."
The magazine management consulted its lawyer, who advised the publisher
to make the newspaper pay the extra ninety cents on each subscription,
and, although this demand was at first refused, the proprietors of the
daily finally yielded. At the end of the first week eight thousand and
fifty-five letters with ten cents enclosed had reached the magazine, and
finally the total was a few over twelve thousand!



XIV. Last Years in New York


Edward Bok's lines were now to follow those of advertising for several
years. He was responsible for securing the advertisements for The Book
Buyer and The Presbyterian Review. While the former was, frankly, a
house-organ, its editorial contents had so broadened as to make the
periodical of general interest to book-lovers, and with the subscribers
constituting the valuable list of Scribner book-buyers, other publishers
were eager to fish in the Scribner pond.

With The Presbyterian Review, the condition was different. A magazine
issued quarterly naturally lacks the continuity desired by the
advertiser; the scope of the magazine was limited, and so was the
circulation. It was a difficult magazine to "sell" to the advertiser,
and Bok's salesmanship was taxed to the utmost. Although all that the
publishers asked was that the expense of getting out the periodical be
met, with its two hundred and odd pages even this was difficult. It was
not an attractive proposition.

The most interesting feature of the magazine to Bok appeared to be the
method of editing. It was ostensibly edited by a board, but,
practically, by Professor Francis L. Patton, D.D., of Princeton
Theological Seminary (afterward president of Princeton University), and
Doctor Charles A. Briggs, of Union Theological Seminary. The views of
these two theologians differed rather widely, and when, upon several
occasions, they met in Bok's office, on bringing in their different
articles to go into the magazine, lively discussions ensued. Bok did not
often get the drift of these discussions, but he was intensely
interested in listening to the diverse views of the two theologians.

One day the question of heresy came up between the two men, and during a
pause in the discussion, Bok, looking for light, turned to Doctor Briggs
and asked: "Doctor, what really is heresy?"

Doctor Briggs, taken off his guard for a moment, looked blankly at his
young questioner, and repeated: "What is heresy?"

"Yes," repeated Bok, "just what is heresy, Doctor?"

"That's right," interjected Doctor Patton, with a twinkle in his eyes,
"what is heresy, Briggs?"

"Would you be willing to write it down for me?" asked Bok, fearful that
he should not remember Doctor Briggs's definition even if he were told.

And Doctor Briggs wrote:

"Heresy is anything in doctrine or practice that departs from the mind
of the Church as officially defined.

Charles A. Briggs.

"Let me see," asked Doctor Patton, and when he read it, he muttered:
"Humph, pretty broad, pretty broad."

"Well," answered the nettled Doctor Briggs, "perhaps you can give a less
broad definition, Patton."

"No, no," answered the Princeton theologian, as the slightest wink came
from the eye nearest Bok, "I wouldn't attempt it for a moment. Too much
for me."

On another occasion, as the two were busy in their discussion of some
article to be inserted in the magazine, Bok listening with all his
might, Doctor Patton, suddenly turning to the young listener, asked, in
the midst of the argument: "Whom are the Giants going to play this
afternoon, Bok?"

Doctor Briggs's face was a study. For a moment the drift of the question
was an enigma to him: then realizing that an important theological
discussion had been interrupted by a trivial baseball question, he
gathered up his papers and stamped violently out of the office. Doctor
Patton made no comment, but, with a smile, he asked Bok: "Johnnie Ward
going to play to-day, do you know? Thought I might ask Mr. Scribner if
you could go up to the game this afternoon."

It is unnecessary to say to which of the two men Bok was the more
attracted, and when it came, each quarter, to figuring how many articles
could go into the Review without exceeding the cost limit fixed by the
house, it was always a puzzle to Doctor Briggs why the majority of the
articles left out were invariably those that he had brought in, while
many of those which Doctor Patton handed in somehow found their place,
upon the final assembling, among the contents.

"Your articles are so long," Bok would explain.

"Long?" Doctor Briggs would echo. "You don't measure theological
discussions by the yardstick, young man."

"Perhaps not," the young assembler would maintain.

But we have to do some measuring here by the composition-stick, just the
same."

And the Union Seminary theologian was never able successfully, to vault
that hurdle!

From his boyhood days (up to the present writing) Bok was a pronounced
baseball "fan," and so Doctor Patton appealed to a warm place in the
young man's heart when he asked him the questions about the New York
baseball team. There was, too, a baseball team among the Scribner young
men of which Bok was a part. This team played, each Saturday afternoon,
a team from another publishing house, and for two seasons it was
unbeatable. Not only was this baseball aggregation close to the hearts
of the Scribner employees, but, in an important game, the junior member
of the firm played on it and the senior member was a spectator. Frank N.
Doubleday played on first base; William D. Moffat, later of Moffat, Yard
& Company, and now editor of The Mentor, was behind the bat; Bok
pitched; Ernest Dressel North, the present authority on rare editions of
books, was in the field, as were also Ray Safford, now a director in the
Scribner corporation, and Owen W. Brewer, at present a prominent figure
in Chicago's book world. It was a happy group, all closely banded
together in their business interests and in their human relations as
well.

With Scribner's Magazine now in the periodical field, Bok would be asked
on his trips to the publishing houses to have an eye open for
advertisements for that periodical as well. Hence his education in the
solicitation of advertisements became general, and gave him a
sympathetic understanding of the problems of the advertising solicitor
which was to stand him in good stead when, in his later experience, he
was called upon to view the business problems of a magazine from the
editor's position. His knowledge of the manufacture of the two magazines
in his charge was likewise educative, as was the fascinating study of
typography which always had, and has to-day, a wonderful attraction for
him.

It was, however, in connection with the advertising of the general books
of the house, and in his relations with their authors, that Bok found
his greatest interest. It was for him to find the best manner in which
to introduce to the public the books issued by the house, and the
general study of the psychology of publicity which this called for
attracted Bok greatly.

Bok was now asked to advertise a novel published by the Scribners which,
when it was issued, and for years afterward, was pointed to as a proof
of the notion that a famous name was all that was necessary to ensure
the acceptance of a manuscript by even a leading publishing house. The
facts in the case were that this manuscript was handed in one morning by
a friend of the house with the remark that he submitted it at the
suggestion of the author, who did not desire that his identity should be
known until after the manuscript had been read and passed upon by the
house. It was explained that the writer was not a famous author; in
fact, he had never written anything before; this was his first book of
any sort; he merely wanted to "try his wings." The manuscript was read
in due time by the Scribner readers, and the mutual friend was advised
that the house would be glad to publish the novel, and was ready to
execute and send a contract to the author if the firm knew in whose name
the agreement should be made. Then came the first intimation of the
identity of the author: the friend wrote that if the publishers would
look in the right-hand corner of the first page of the manuscript they
would find there the author's name. Search finally revealed an asterisk.
The author of the novel (Valentino) was William Waldorf Astor.

Although the Scribners did not publish Mark Twain's books, the humorist
was a frequent visitor to the retail store, and occasionally he would
wander back to the publishing department located at the rear of the
store, which was then at 743 Broadway.

Smoking was not permitted in the Scribner offices, and, of course, Mark
Twain was always smoking. He generally smoked a granulated tobacco which
he kept in a long check bag made of silk and rubber. When he sauntered
to the back of the Scribner store, he would generally knock the residue
from the bowl of the pipe, take out the stem, place it in his vest
pocket, like a pencil, and drop the bowl into the bag containing the
granulated tobacco. When he wanted to smoke again (which was usually
five minutes later) he would fish out the bowl, now automatically filled
with tobacco, insert the stem, and strike a light. One afternoon as he
wandered into Bok's office, he was just putting his pipe away. The pipe,
of the corncob variety, was very aged and black. Bok asked him whether
it was the only pipe he had.

"Oh, no," Mark answered, "I have several. But they're all like this. I
never smoke a new corncob pipe. A new pipe irritates the throat. No
corncob pipe is fit for anything until it has been used at least a
fortnight."

"How do you break in a pipe, then?" asked Bok.

"That's the trick," answered Mark Twain. "I get a cheap man--a man who
doesn't amount to much, anyhow: who would be as well, or better,
dead--and pay him a dollar to break in the pipe for me. I get him to
smoke the pipe for a couple of weeks, then put in a new stem, and
continue operations as long as the pipe holds together."

Bok's newspaper syndicate work had brought him into contact with Fanny
Davenport, then at the zenith of her career as an actress. Miss
Davenport, or Mrs. Melbourne McDowell as she was in private life, had
never written for print; but Bok, seeing that she had something to say
about her art and the ability to say it, induced her to write for the
newspapers through his syndicate. The actress was overjoyed to have
revealed to her a hitherto unsuspected gift; Bok published her articles
successfully, and gave her a publicity that her press agent had never
dreamed of. Miss Davenport became interested in the young publisher, and
after watching the methods which he employed in successfully publishing
her writings, decided to try to obtain his services as her assistant
manager. She broached the subject, offered him a five years' contract
for forty weeks' service, with a minimum of fifteen weeks each year to
spend in or near New York, at a salary, for the first year, of three
thousand dollars, increasing annually until the fifth year, when he was
to receive sixty-four hundred dollars.

Bok was attracted to the work: he had never seen the United States, was
anxious to do so, and looked upon the chance as a good opportunity. Miss
Davenport had the contract made out, executed it, and then, in high
glee, Bok took it home to show it to his mother. He had reckoned without
question upon her approval, only to meet with an immediate and decided
negative to the proposition as a whole, general and specific. She argued
that the theatrical business was not for him; and she saw ahead and
pointed out so strongly the mistake he was making that he sought Miss
Davenport the next day and told her of his mother's stand. The actress
suggested that she see the mother; she did, that day, and she came away
from the interview a wiser if a sadder woman. Miss Davenport frankly
told Bok that with such an instinctive objection as his mother seemed to
have, he was right to follow her advice and the contract was not to be
thought of.

It is difficult to say whether this was or was not for Bok the
turning-point which comes in the life of every young man. Where the
venture into theatrical life would have led him no one can, of course,
say. One thing is certain: Bok's instinct and reason both failed him in
this instance. He believes now that had his venture into the theatrical
field been temporary or permanent, the experiment, either way, would
have been disastrous.

Looking back and viewing the theatrical profession even as it was in
that day (of a much higher order than now), he is convinced he would
never have been happy in it. He might have found this out in a year or
more, after the novelty of travelling had worn off, and asked release
from his contract; in that case he would have broken his line of
progress in the publishing business. From whatever viewpoint he has
looked back upon this, which he now believes to have been the crisis in
his life, he is convinced that his mother's instinct saved him from a
grievous mistake.

The Scribner house, in its foreign-book department, had imported some
copies of Bourrienne's Life of Napoleon, and a set had found its way to
Bok's desk for advertising purposes. He took the books home to glance
them over, found himself interested, and sat up half the night to read
them. Then he took the set to the editor of the New York Star, and
suggested that such a book warranted a special review, and offered to
leave the work for the literary editor.

"You have read the books?" asked the editor.

"Every word," returned Bok.

"Then, why don't you write the review?" suggested the editor.

This was a new thought to Bok. "Never wrote a review," he said.

"Try it," answered the editor. "Write a column."

"A column wouldn't scratch the surface of this book," suggested the
embryo reviewer.

"Well, give it what it is worth," returned the editor.

Bok did. He wrote a page of the paper.

"Too much, too much," said the editor. "Heavens, man, we've got to get
some news into this paper."

"Very well," returned the reviewer. "Read it, and cut it where you like.
That's the way I see the book."

And next Sunday the review appeared, word for word, as Bok had written
it. His first review had successfully passed!

But Bok was really happiest in that part of his work which concerned
itself with the writing of advertisements. The science of advertisement
writing, which meant to him the capacity to say much in little space,
appealed strongly. He found himself more honestly attracted to this than
to the writing of his literary letter, his editorials, or his book
reviewing, of which he was now doing a good deal. He determined to
follow where his bent led; he studied the mechanics of unusual
advertisements wherever he saw them; he eagerly sought a knowledge of
typography and its best handling in an advertisement, and of the value
and relation of illustrations to text. He perceived that his work along
these lines seemed to give satisfaction to his employers, since they
placed more of it in his hands to do; and he sought in every way to
become proficient in the art.

To publishers whose advertisements he secured for the periodicals in his
charge, he made suggestions for the improvement of their announcements,
and found his suggestions accepted. He early saw the value of white
space as one of the most effective factors in advertising; but this was
a difficult argument, he soon found, to convey successfully to others. A
white space in an advertisement was to the average publisher something
to fill up; Bok saw in it something to cherish for its effectiveness.
But he never got very far with his idea: he could not convince (perhaps
because he failed to express his ideas convincingly) his advertisers of
what he felt and believed so strongly.

An occasion came in which he was permitted to prove his contention. The
Scribners had published Andrew Carnegie's volume, Triumphant Democracy,
and the author desired that some special advertising should be done in
addition to that allowed by the appropriation made by the house. To
Bok's grateful ears came the injunction from the steel magnate: "Use
plenty of white space." In conjunction with Mr. Doubleday, Bok prepared
and issued this extra advertising, and for once, at least, the wisdom of
using white space was demonstrated. But it was only a flash in the pan.
Publishers were unwilling to pay for "unused space," as they termed it.
Each book was a separate unit, others argued: it was not like
advertising one article continuously in which money could be invested;
and only a limited amount could be spent on a book which ran its course,
even at its best, in a very short time.

And, rightly or wrongly, book advertising has continued much along the
same lines until the present day. In fact, in no department of
manufacturing or selling activity has there been so little progress
during the past fifty years as in bringing books to the notice of the
public. In all other lines, the producer has brought his wares to the
public, making it easier and still easier for it to obtain his goods,
while the public, if it wants a book, must still seek the book instead
of being sought by it.

That there is a tremendous unsupplied book demand in this country there
is no doubt: the wider distribution and easier access given to
periodicals prove this point. Now and then there has been tried an
unsupported or not well-thought-out plan for bringing books to a public
not now reading them, but there seems little or no understanding of the
fact that there lies an uncultivated field of tremendous promise to the
publisher who will strike out on a new line and market his books, so
that the public will not have to ferret out a book-store or wind through
the maze of a department store. The American reading public is not the
book-reading public that it should be or could be made to be; but the
habit must be made easy for it to acquire. Books must be placed where
the public can readily get at them. It will not, of its own volition,
seek them. It did not do so with magazines; it will not do so with
books.

In the meanwhile, Bok's literary letter had prospered until it was now
published in some forty-five newspapers. One of these was the
Philadelphia Times. In that paper, each week, the letter had been read
by Mr. Cyrus H. K. Curtis, the owner and publisher of The Ladies' Home
Journal. Mr. Curtis had decided that he needed an editor for his
magazine, in order to relieve his wife, who was then editing it, and he
fixed upon the writer of Literary Leaves as his man. He came to New
York, consulted Will Carleton, the poet, and found that while the letter
was signed by William J. Bok, it was actually written by his brother who
was with the Scribners. So he sought Bok out there.

The publishing house had been advertising in the Philadelphia magazine,
so that the visit of Mr. Curtis was not an occasion for surprise. Mr.
Curtis told Bok he had read his literary letter in the Philadelphia
Times, and suggested that perhaps he might write a similar department
for The Ladies' Home Journal. Bok saw no reason why he should not, and
told Mr. Curtis so, and promised to send over a trial installment. The
Philadelphia publisher then deftly went on, explained editorial
conditions in his magazine, and, recognizing the ethics of the occasion
by not offering Bok another position while he was already occupying one,
asked him if he knew the man for the place.

"Are you talking at me or through me?" asked Bok.

"Both," replied Mr. Curtis.

This was in April of 1889.

Bok promised Mr. Curtis he would look over the field, and meanwhile he
sent over to Philadelphia the promised trial "literary gossip"
installment. It pleased Mr. Curtis, who suggested a monthly department,
to which Bok consented. He also turned over in his mind the wisdom of
interrupting his line of progress with the Scribners, and in New York,
and began to contemplate the possibilities in Philadelphia and the work
there.

He gathered a collection of domestic magazines then published, and
looked them over to see what was already in the field. Then he began to
study himself, his capacity for the work, and the possibility of finding
it congenial. He realized that it was absolutely foreign to his Scribner
work: that it meant a radical departure. But his work with his newspaper
syndicate naturally occurred to him, and he studied it with a view of
its adaptation to the field of the Philadelphia magazine.

His next step was to take into his confidence two or three friends whose
judgment he trusted and discuss the possible change. Without an
exception, they advised against it. The periodical had no standing, they
argued; Bok would be out of sympathy with its general atmosphere after
his Scribner environment; he was now in the direct line of progress in
New York publishing houses; and, to cap the climax, they each argued in
turn, he would be buried in Philadelphia: New York was the centre, etc.,
etc.

More than any other single argument, this last point destroyed Bok's
faith in the judgment of his friends. He had had experience enough to
realize that a man could not be buried in any city, provided he had the
ability to stand out from his fellow-men. He knew from his biographical
reading that cream will rise to the surface anywhere, in Philadelphia as
well as in New York: it all depended on whether the cream was there: it
was up to the man. Had he within him that peculiar, subtle something
that, for the want of a better phrase, we call the editorial instinct?
That was all there was to it, and that decision had to be his and his
alone!

A business trip for the Scribners now calling him West, Bok decided to
stop at Philadelphia, have a talk with Mr. Curtis, and look over his
business plant. He did this, and found Mr. Curtis even more desirous
than before to have him consider the position. Bok's instinct was
strongly in favor of an acceptance. A natural impulse moved him, without
reasoning, to action. Reasoning led only to a cautious mental state, and
caution is a strong factor in the Dutch character. The longer he pursued
a conscious process of reasoning, the farther he got from the position.
But the instinct remained strong.

On his way back from the West, he stopped in Philadelphia again to
consult his friend, George W. Childs; and here he found the only person
who was ready to encourage him to make the change.

Bok now laid the matter before his mother, in whose feminine instinct he
had supreme confidence. With her, he met with instant discouragement.
But in subsequent talks he found that her opposition was based not upon
the possibilities inherent in the position, but on a mother's natural
disinclination to be separated from one of her sons. In the case of
Fanny Davenport's offer the mother's instinct was strong against the
proposition itself. But in the present instance it was the mother's love
that was speaking; not her instinct or judgment.

Bok now consulted his business associates, and, to a man, they
discouraged the step, but almost invariably upon the argument that it
was suicidal to leave New York. He had now a glimpse of the truth that
there is no man so provincially narrow as the untravelled New Yorker who
believes in his heart that the sun rises in the East River and sets in
the North River.

He realized more keenly than ever before that the decision rested with
him alone. On September 1, 1889, Bok wrote to Mr. Curtis, accepting the
position in Philadelphia; and on October 13 following he left the
Scribners, where he had been so fortunate and so happy, and, after a
week's vacation, followed where his instinct so strongly led, but where
his reason wavered.

On October 20, 1889, Edward Bok became the editor of The Ladies' Home
Journal.



XV. Successful Editorship


There is a popular notion that the editor of a woman's magazine should
be a woman. At first thought, perhaps, this sounds logical. But it is a
curious fact that by far the larger number of periodicals for women, the
world over, are edited by men; and where, as in some cases, a woman is
the proclaimed editor, the direction of the editorial policy is
generally in the hands of a man, or group of men, in the background. Why
this is so has never been explained, any more than why the majority of
women's dressmakers are men; why music, with its larger appeal to women,
has been and is still being composed, largely, by men, and why its
greatest instrumental performers are likewise men; and why the church,
with its larger membership of women, still has, as it always has had,
men for its greatest preachers.

In fact, we may well ponder whether the full editorial authority and
direction of a modern magazine, either essentially feminine in its
appeal or not, can safely be entrusted to a woman when one considers how
largely executive is the nature of such a position, and how thoroughly
sensitive the modern editor must be to the hundred and one practical
business matters which to-day enter into and form so large a part of the
editorial duties. We may question whether women have as yet had
sufficient experience in the world of business to cope successfully with
the material questions of a pivotal editorial position. Then, again, it
is absolutely essential in the conduct of a magazine with a feminine or
home appeal to have on the editorial staff women who are experts in
their line; and the truth is that women will work infinitely better
under the direction of a man than of a woman.

It would seem from the present outlook that, for some time, at least,
the so-called woman's magazine of large purpose and wide vision is very
likely to be edited by a man. It is a question, however, whether the day
of the woman's magazine, as we have known it, is not passing. Already
the day has gone for the woman's magazine built on the old lines which
now seem so grotesque and feeble in the light of modern growth. The
interests of women and of men are being brought closer with the years,
and it will not be long before they will entirely merge. This means a
constantly diminishing necessity for the distinctly feminine magazine.

Naturally, there will always be a field in the essentially feminine
pursuits which have no place in the life of a man, but these are rapidly
being cared for by books, gratuitously distributed, issued by the
manufacturers of distinctly feminine and domestic wares; for such
publications the best talent is being employed, and the results are
placed within easy access of women, by means of newspaper advertisement,
the store-counter, or the mails. These will sooner or later--and much
sooner than later--supplant the practical portions of the woman's
magazine, leaving only the general contents, which are equally
interesting to men and to women. Hence the field for the magazine with
the essentially feminine appeal is contracting rather than broadening,
and it is likely to contract much more rapidly in the future.

The field was altogether different when Edward Bok entered it in 1889.
It was not only wide open, but fairly crying out to be filled. The day
of Godey's Lady's Book had passed; Peterson's Magazine was breathing its
last; and the home or women's magazines that had attempted to take their
place were sorry affairs. It was this consciousness of a void ready to
be filled that made the Philadelphia experiment so attractive to the
embryo editor. He looked over the field and reasoned that if such
magazines as did exist could be fairly successful, if women were ready
to buy such, how much greater response would there be to a magazine of
higher standards, of larger initiative--a magazine that would be an
authoritative clearing-house for all the problems confronting women in
the home, that brought itself closely into contact with those problems
and tried to solve them in an entertaining and efficient way; and yet a
magazine of uplift and inspiration: a magazine, in other words, that
would give light and leading in the woman's world.

The method of editorial expression in the magazines of 1889 was also
distinctly vague and prohibitively impersonal. The public knew the name
of scarcely a single editor of a magazine: there was no personality that
stood out in the mind: the accepted editorial expression was the
indefinite "we"; no one ventured to use the first person singular and
talk intimately to the reader. Edward Bok's biographical reading had
taught him that the American public loved a personality: that it was
always ready to recognize and follow a leader, provided, of course, that
the qualities of leadership were demonstrated. He felt the time had
come--the reference here and elsewhere is always to the realm of popular
magazine literature appealing to a very wide audience--for the editor of
some magazine to project his personality through the printed page and to
convince the public that he was not an oracle removed from the people,
but a real human being who could talk and not merely write on paper.

He saw, too, that the average popular magazine of 1889 failed of large
success because it wrote down to the public--a grievous mistake that so
many editors have made and still make. No one wants to be told, either
directly or indirectly, that he knows less than he does, or even that he
knows as little as he does: every one is benefited by the opposite
implication, and the public will always follow the leader who
comprehends this bit of psychology. There is always a happy medium
between shooting over the public's head and shooting too far under it.
And it is because of the latter aim that we find the modern popular
magazine the worthless thing that, in so many instances, it is to-day.

It is the rare editor who rightly gauges his public psychology. Perhaps
that is why, in the enormous growth of the modern magazine, there have
been produced so few successful editors. The average editor is obsessed
with the idea of "giving the public what it wants," whereas, in fact,
the public, while it knows what it wants when it sees it, cannot clearly
express its wants, and never wants the thing that it does ask for,
although it thinks it does at the time. But woe to the editor and his
periodical if he heeds that siren voice!

The editor has, therefore, no means of finding it out aforehand by
putting his ear to the ground. Only by the simplest rules of psychology
can he edit rightly so that he may lead, and to the average editor of
to-day, it is to be feared, psychology is a closed book. His mind is all
too often focussed on the circulation and advertising, and all too
little on the intangibles that will bring to his periodical the results
essential in these respects.

The editor is the pivot of a magazine. On him everything turns. If his
gauge of the public is correct, readers will come: they cannot help
coming to the man who has something to say himself, or who presents
writers who have. And if the reader comes, the advertiser must come. He
must go where his largest market is: where the buyers are. The
advertiser, instead of being the most difficult factor in a magazine
proposition, as is so often mistakenly thought, is, in reality, the
simplest. He has no choice but to advertise in the successful
periodical. He must come along. The editor need never worry about him.
If the advertiser shuns the periodical's pages, the fault is rarely that
of the advertiser: the editor can generally look for the reason nearer
home.

One of Edward Bok's first acts as editor was to offer a series of prizes
for the best answers to three questions he put to his readers: what in
the magazine did they like least and why; what did they like best and
why; and what omitted feature or department would they like to see
installed? Thousands of answers came, and these the editor personally
read carefully and classified. Then he gave his readers' suggestions
back to them in articles and departments, but never on the level
suggested by them. He gave them the subjects they asked for, but
invariably on a slightly higher plane; and each year he raised the
standard a notch. He always kept "a huckleberry or two" ahead of his
readers. His psychology was simple: come down to the level which the
public sets and it will leave you at the moment you do it. It always
expects of its leaders that they shall keep a notch above or a step
ahead. The American public always wants something a little better than
it asks for, and the successful man, in catering to it, is he who
follows this golden rule.



XVI. First Years as a Woman's Editor


Edward Bok has often been referred to as the one "who made The Ladies'
Home Journal out of nothing," who "built it from the ground up," or, in
similar terms, implying that when he became its editor in 1889 the
magazine was practically non-existent. This is far from the fact. The
magazine was begun in 1883, and had been edited by Mrs. Cyrus H. K.
Curtis, for six years, under her maiden name of Louisa Knapp, before Bok
undertook its editorship. Mrs. Curtis had laid a solid foundation of
principle and policy for the magazine: it had achieved a circulation of
440,000 copies a month when she transferred the editorship, and it had
already acquired such a standing in the periodical world as to attract
the advertisements of Charles Scribner's Sons, which Mr. Doubleday, and
later Bok himself, gave to the Philadelphia magazine--advertising which
was never given lightly, or without the most careful investigation of
the worth of the circulation of a periodical.

What every magazine publisher knows as the most troublous years in the
establishment of a periodical, the first half-dozen years of its
existence, had already been weathered by the editor and publisher. The
wife as editor and the husband as publisher had combined to lay a solid
basis upon which Bok had only to build: his task was simply to rear a
structure upon the foundation already laid. It is to the vision and to
the genius of the first editor of The Ladies' Home Journal that the
unprecedented success of the magazine is primarily due. It was the
purpose and the policy of making a magazine of authoritative service for
the womanhood of America, a service which would visualize for womanhood
its highest domestic estate, that had won success for the periodical
from its inception. It is difficult to believe, in the multiplicity of
similar magazines to-day, that such a purpose was new; that The Ladies'
Home Journal was a path-finder; but the convincing proof is found in the
fact that all the later magazines of this class have followed in the
wake of the periodical conceived by Mrs. Curtis, and have ever since
been its imitators.

When Edward Bok succeeded Mrs. Curtis, he immediately encountered
another popular misconception of a woman's magazine--the conviction that
if a man is the editor of a periodical with a distinctly feminine
appeal, he must, as the term goes, "understand women." If Bok had
believed this to be true, he would never have assumed the position. How
deeply rooted is this belief was brought home to him on every hand when
his decision to accept the Philadelphia position was announced. His
mother, knowing her son better than did any one else, looked at him with
amazement. She could not believe that he was serious in his decision to
cater to women's needs when he knew so little about them. His friends,
too, were intensely amused, and took no pains to hide their amusement
from him. They knew him to be the very opposite of "a lady's man," and
when they were not convulsed with hilarity they were incredulous and
marvelled.

No man, perhaps, could have been chosen for the position who had a less
intimate knowledge of women. Bok had no sister, no women confidantes: he
had lived with and for his mother. She was the only woman he really knew
or who really knew him. His boyhood days had been too full of poverty
and struggle to permit him to mingle with the opposite sex. And it is a
curious fact that Edward Bok's instinctive attitude toward women was
that of avoidance. He did not dislike women, but it could not be said
that he liked them. They had never interested him. Of women, therefore,
he knew little; of their needs less. Nor had he the slightest desire,
even as an editor, to know them better, or to seek to understand them.
Even at that age, he knew that, as a man, he could not, no matter what
effort he might make, and he let it go at that.

What he saw in the position was not the need to know women; he could
employ women for that purpose. He perceived clearly that the editor of a
magazine was largely an executive: his was principally the work of
direction; of studying currents and movements, watching their formation,
their tendency, their efficacy if advocated or translated into
actuality; and then selecting from the horizon those that were for the
best interests of the home. For a home was something Edward Bok did
understand. He had always lived in one; had struggled to keep it
together, and he knew every inch of the hard road that makes for
domestic permanence amid adverse financial conditions. And at the home
he aimed rather than at the woman in it.

It was upon his instinct that he intended to rely rather than upon any
knowledge of woman. His first act in the editorial chair of The Ladies'
Home Journal showed him to be right in this diagnosis of himself, for
the incident proved not only how correct was his instinct, but how
woefully lacking he was in any knowledge of the feminine nature.

He had divined the fact that in thousands of cases the American mother
was not the confidante of her daughter, and reasoned if an inviting
human personality could be created on the printed page that would supply
this lamentable lack of American family life, girls would flock to such
a figure. But all depended on the confidence which the written word
could inspire. He tried several writers, but in each case the particular
touch that he sought for was lacking. It seemed so simple to him, and
yet he could not translate it to others. Then, in desperation, he wrote
an installment of such a department as he had in mind himself, intending
to show it to a writer he had in view, thus giving her a visual
demonstration. He took it to the office the next morning, intending to
have it copied, but the manuscript accidentally attached itself to
another intended for the composing-room, and it was not until the
superintendent of the composing-room during the day said to him, "I
didn't know Miss Ashmead wrote," that Bok knew where his manuscript had
gone.

Miss Ashmead?" asked the puzzled editor.

Yes, Miss Ashmead in your department," was the answer.

The whereabouts of the manuscript was then disclosed, and the editor
called for its return. He had called the department "Side Talks with
Girls" by Ruth Ashmead.

"My girls all hope this is going into the magazine," said the
superintendent when he returned the manuscript.

"Why?" asked the editor.

"Well, they say it's the best stuff for girls they have ever read.
They'd love to know Miss Ashmead better."

Here was exactly what the editor wanted, but he was the author! He
changed the name to Ruth Ashmore, and decided to let the manuscript go
into the magazine. He reasoned that he would then have a month in which
to see the writer he had in mind, and he would show her the proof. But a
month filled itself with other duties, and before the editor was aware
of it, the composition-room wanted "copy" for the second installment of
"Side Talks with Girls." Once more the editor furnished the copy!

Within two weeks after the second article had been written, the magazine
containing the first installment of the new department appeared, and the
next day two hundred letters were received for "Ruth Ashmore," with the
mail-clerk asking where they should be sent. "Leave them with me,
please," replied the editor. On the following day the mail-clerk handed
him five hundred more.

The editor now took two letters from the top and opened them. He never
opened the third! That evening he took the bundle home, and told his
mother of his predicament. She read the letters and looked at her son.
"You have no right to read these," she said. The son readily agreed.

His instinct had correctly interpreted the need, but he never dreamed
how far the feminine nature would reveal itself on paper.

The next morning the editor, with his letters, took the train for New
York and sought his friend, Mrs. Isabel A. Mallon, the "Bab" of his
popular syndicate letter.

"Have you read this department?" he asked, pointing to the page in the
magazine.

"I have," answered Mrs. Mallon. "Very well done, too, it is. Who is
'Ruth Ashmore'?'

"You are," answered Edward Bok. And while it took considerable
persuasion, from that time on Mrs. Mallon became Ruth Ashmore, the most
ridiculed writer in the magazine world, and yet the most helpful editor
that ever conducted a department in periodical literature. For sixteen
years she conducted the department, until she passed away, her last act
being to dictate a letter to a correspondent. In those sixteen years she
had received one hundred and fifty-eight thousand letters: she kept
three stenographers busy, and the number of girls who to-day bless the
name of Ruth Ashmore is legion.

But the newspaper humorists who insisted that Ruth Ashmore was none
other than Edward Bok never knew the partial truth of their joke!

The editor soon supplemented this department with one dealing with the
spiritual needs of the mature woman. "The King's Daughters" was then an
organization at the summit of its usefulness, with Margaret Bottome its
president. Edward Bok had heard Mrs. Bottome speak, had met her
personally, and decided that she was the editor for the department he
had in mind.

"I want it written in an intimate way as if there were only two persons
in the world, you and the person reading. I want heart to speak to
heart. We will make that the title," said the editor, and unconsciously
he thus created the title that has since become familiar wherever
English is spoken: "Heart to Heart Talks." The title gave the department
an instantaneous hearing; the material in it carried out its spirit, and
soon Mrs. Bottome's department rivaled, in popularity, the page by Ruth
Ashmore.

These two departments more than anything else, and the irresistible
picture of a man editing a woman's magazine, brought forth an era of
newspaper paragraphing and a flood of so-called "humorous" references to
the magazine and editor. It became the vogue to poke fun at both. The
humorous papers took it up, the cartoonists helped it along, and actors
introduced the name of the magazine on the stage in plays and skits.
Never did a periodical receive such an amount of gratuitous advertising.
Much of the wit was absolutely without malice: some of it was written by
Edward Bok's best friends, who volunteered to "let up" would he but
raise a finger.

But he did not raise the finger. No one enjoyed the "paragraphs" more
heartily when the wit was good, and in that case, if the writer was
unknown to him, he sought him out and induced him to write for him. In
this way, George Fitch was found on the Peoria, Illinois, Transcript and
introduced to his larger public in the magazine and book world through
The Ladies' Home Journal, whose editor he believed he had "most
unmercifully roasted";--but he had done it so cleverly that the editor
at once saw his possibilities.

When all his friends begged Bok to begin proceedings against the New
York Evening Sun because of the libellous (?) articles written about him
by "The Woman About Town," the editor admired the style rather than the
contents, made her acquaintance, and secured her as a regular writer:
she contributed to the magazine some of the best things published in its
pages. But she did not abate her opinions of Bok and his magazine in her
articles in the newspaper, and Bok did not ask it of her: he felt that
she had a right to her opinions--those he was not buying; but he was
eager to buy her direct style in treating subjects he knew no other
woman could so effectively handle.

And with his own limited knowledge of the sex, he needed, and none knew
it better than did he, the ablest women he could obtain to help him
realize his ideals. Their personal opinions of him did not matter so
long as he could command their best work. Sooner or later, when his
purposes were better understood, they might alter those opinions. For
that he could afford to wait. But he could not wait to get their work.

By this time the editor had come to see that the power of a magazine
might lie more securely behind the printed page than in it. He had begun
to accustom his readers to writing to his editors upon all conceivable
problems.

This he decided to encourage. He employed an expert in each line of
feminine endeavor, upon the distinct understanding that the most
scrupulous attention should be given to her correspondence: that every
letter, no matter how inconsequential, should be answered quickly,
fully, and courteously, with the questioner always encouraged to come
again if any problem of whatever nature came to her. He told his editors
that ignorance on any question was a misfortune, not a crime; and he
wished their correspondence treated in the most courteous and helpful
spirit.

Step by step, the editor built up this service behind the magazine until
he had a staff of thirty-five editors on the monthly pay-roll; in each
issue, he proclaimed the willingness of these editors to answer
immediately any questions by mail, he encouraged and cajoled his readers
to form the habit of looking upon his magazine as a great clearing-house
of information. Before long, the letters streamed in by the tens of
thousands during a year. The editor still encouraged, and the total ran
into the hundreds of thousands, until during the last year, before the
service was finally stopped by the Great War of 1917-18, the yearly
correspondence totalled nearly a million letters.

The work of some of these editors never reached the printed page, and
yet was vastly more important than any published matter could possibly
be. Out of the work of Ruth Ashmore, for instance, there grew a class of
cases of the most confidential nature. These cases, distributed all over
the country, called for special investigation and personal contact. Bok
selected Mrs. Lyman Abbott for this piece of delicate work, and, through
the wide acquaintance of her husband, she was enabled to reach,
personally, every case in every locality, and bring personal help to
bear on it. These cases mounted into the hundreds, and the good
accomplished through this quiet channel cannot be overestimated.

The lack of opportunity for an education in Bok's own life led him to
cast about for some plan whereby an education might be obtained without
expense by any one who desired. He finally hit upon the simple plan of
substituting free scholarships for the premiums then so frequently
offered by periodicals for subscriptions secured. Free musical education
at the leading conservatories was first offered to any girl who would
secure a certain number of subscriptions to The Ladies' Home Journal,
the complete offer being a year's free tuition, with free room, free
board, free piano in her own room, and all travelling expenses paid. The
plan was an immediate success: the solicitation of a subscription by a
girl desirous of educating herself made an irresistible appeal.

This plan was soon extended, so as to include all the girls' colleges,
and finally all the men's colleges, so that a free education might be
possible at any educational institution. So comprehensive it became that
to the close of 1919, one thousand four hundred and fifty-five free
scholarships had been awarded. The plan has now been in operation long
enough to have produced some of the leading singers and instrumental
artists of the day, whose names are familiar to all, as well as
instructors in colleges and scores of teachers; and to have sent several
score of men into conspicuous positions in the business and professional
world.

Edward Bok has always felt that but for his own inability to secure an
education, and his consequent desire for self-improvement, the
realization of the need in others might not have been so strongly felt
by him, and that his plan whereby thousands of others were benefited
might never have been realized.

The editor's correspondence was revealing, among other deficiencies, the
wide-spread unpreparedness of the average American girl for motherhood,
and her desperate ignorance when a new life was given her. On the theory
that with the realization of a vital need there is always the person to
meet it, Bok consulted the authorities of the Babies' Hospital of New
York, and found Doctor Emmet Holt's house physician, Doctor Emelyn L.
Coolidge. To the authorities in the world of babies, Bok's discovery
was, of course, a known and serious fact.

Doctor Coolidge proposed that the magazine create a department of
questions and answers devoted to the problems of young mothers. This was
done, and from the publication of the first issue the questions began to
come in. Within five years the department had grown to such proportions
that Doctor Coolidge proposed a plan whereby mothers might be
instructed, by mail, in the rearing of babies--in their general care,
their feeding, and the complete hygiene of the nursery.

Bok had already learned, in his editorial experience, carefully to weigh
a woman's instinct against a man's judgment, but the idea of raising
babies by mail floored him. He reasoned, however, that a woman, and more
particularly one who had been in a babies' hospital for years, knew more
about babies than he could possibly know. He consulted baby-specialists
in New York and Philadelphia, and, with one accord, they declared the
plan not only absolutely impracticable but positively dangerous. Bok's
confidence in woman's instinct, however, persisted, and he asked Doctor
Coolidge to map out a plan.

This called for the services of two physicians: Miss Marianna Wheeler,
for many years superintendent of the Babies' Hospital, was to look after
the prospective mother before the baby's birth; and Doctor Coolidge,
when the baby was born, would immediately send to the young mother a
printed list of comprehensive questions, which, when answered, would be
immediately followed by a full set of directions as to the care of the
child, including carefully prepared food formulæ . At the end of the
first month, another set of questions was to be forwarded for answer by
the mother, and this monthly service was to be continued until the child
reached the age of two years. The contact with the mother would then
become intermittent, dependent upon the condition of mother and child.
All the directions and formulæ were to be used only under the direction
of the mother's attendant physician, so that the fullest cooperation
might be established between the physician on the case and the advisory
department of the magazine.

Despite advice to the contrary, Bok decided, after consulting a number
of mothers, to establish the system. It was understood that the greatest
care was to be exercised: the most expert advice, if needed, was to be
sought and given, and the thousands of cases at the Babies' Hospital
were to be laid under contribution.

There was then begun a magazine department which was to be classed among
the most clear-cut pieces of successful work achieved by The Ladies'
Home Journal.

Step by step, the new departure won its way, and was welcomed eagerly by
thousands of young mothers. It was not long before the warmest
commendation from physicians all over the country was received.
Promptness of response and thoroughness of diagnosis were, of course,
the keynotes of the service: where the cases were urgent, the special
delivery post and, later, the night-letter telegraph service were used.

The plan is now in its eleventh year of successful operation. Some idea
of the enormous extent of its service can be gathered from the amazing
figures that, at the close of the tenth year, show over forty thousand
prospective mothers have been advised, while the number of babies
actually "raised" by Doctor Coolidge approaches eighty thousand. Fully
ninety-five of every hundred of these babies registered have remained
under the monthly letter-care of Doctor Coolidge until their first year,
when the mothers receive a diet list which has proved so effective for
future guidance that many mothers cease to report regularly. Eighty-five
out of every hundred babies have remained in the registry until their
graduation at the age of two. Over eight large sets of library drawers
are required for the records of the babies always under the supervision
of the registry.

Scores of physicians who vigorously opposed the work at the start have
amended their opinions and now not only give their enthusiastic
endorsement, but have adopted Doctor Coolidge's food formulæ for their
private and hospital cases.

It was this comprehensive personal service, built up back of the
magazine from the start, that gave the periodical so firm and unique a
hold on its clientele. It was not the printed word that was its chief
power: scores of editors who have tried to study and diagnose the appeal
of the magazine from the printed page, have remained baffled at the
remarkable confidence elicited from its readers. They never looked back
of the magazine, and therefore failed to discover its secret. Bok went
through three financial panics with the magazine, and while other
periodicals severely suffered from diminished circulation at such times,
The Ladies' Home Journal always held its own. Thousands of women had
been directly helped by the magazine; it had not remained an inanimate
printed thing, but had become a vital need in the personal lives of its
readers.

So intimate had become this relation, so efficient was the service
rendered, that its readers could not be pried loose from it; where women
were willing and ready, when the domestic pinch came, to let go of other
reading matter, they explained to their husbands or fathers that The
Ladies' Home Journal was a necessity--they did not feel that they could
do without it. The very quality for which the magazine had been held up
to ridicule by the unknowing and unthinking had become, with hundreds of
thousands of women, its source of power and the bulwark of its success.

Bok was beginning to realize the vision which had lured him from New
York: that of putting into the field of American magazines a periodical
that should become such a clearing-house as virtually to make it an
institution.

He felt that, for the present at least, he had sufficiently established
the personal contact with his readers through the more intimate
departments, and decided to devote his efforts to the literary features
of the magazine.



XVII. Eugene Field's Practical Jokes


Eugene Field was one of Edward Bok's close friends and also his despair,
as was likely to be the case with those who were intimate with the
Western poet. One day Field said to Bok: "I am going to make you the
most widely paragraphed man in America." The editor passed the remark
over, but he was to recall it often as his friend set out to make his
boast good.

The fact that Bok was unmarried and the editor of a woman's magazine
appealed strongly to Field's sense of humor. He knew the editor's
opposition to patent medicines, and so he decided to join the two facts
in a paragraph, put on the wire at Chicago, to the effect that the
editor was engaged to be married to Miss Lavinia Pinkham, the
granddaughter of Mrs. Lydia Pinkham, of patent-medicine fame. The
paragraph carefully described Miss Pinkham, the school where she had
been educated, her talents, her wealth, etc. Field was wise enough to
put the paragraph not in his own column in the Chicago News, lest it be
considered in the light of one of his practical jokes, but on the news
page of the paper, and he had it put on the Associated Press wire.

He followed this up a few days later with a paragraph announcing Bok's
arrival at a Boston hotel. Then came a paragraph saying that Miss
Pinkham was sailing for Paris to buy her trousseau. The paragraphs were
worded in the most matter-of-fact manner, and completely fooled the
newspapers, even those of Boston. Field was delighted at the success of
his joke, and the fact that Bok was in despair over the letters that
poured in upon him added to Field's delight.

He now asked Bok to come to Chicago. "I want you to know some of my
cronies," he wrote. "Julia [his wife] is away, so we will shift for
ourselves." Bok arrived in Chicago one Sunday afternoon, and was to dine
at Field's house that evening. He found a jolly company: James Whitcomb
Riley, Sol Smith Russell the actor, Opie Read, and a number of Chicago's
literary men.

When seven o'clock came, some one suggested to Field that something to
eat might not be amiss.

"Shortly," answered the poet. "Wife is out; cook is new, and dinner will
be a little late. Be patient." But at eight o'clock there was still no
dinner. Riley began to grow suspicious and slipped down-stairs. He found
no one in the kitchen and the range cold. He came back and reported.
"Nonsense," said Field. "It can't be." All went down-stairs to find out
the truth. "Let's get supper ourselves," suggested Russell. Then it was
discovered that not a morsel of food was to be found in the
refrigerator, closet, or cellar. "That's a joke on us," said Field.
"Julia has left us without a crumb to eat.

It was then nine o'clock. Riley and Bok held a council of war and
decided to slip out and buy some food, only to find that the front,
basement, and back doors were locked and the keys missing! Field was
very sober. "Thorough woman, that wife of mine," he commented. But his
friends knew better.

Finally, the Hoosier poet and the Philadelphia editor crawled through
one of the basement windows and started on a foraging expedition. Of
course, Field lived in a residential section where there were few
stores, and on Sunday these were closed. There was nothing to do but to
board a down-town car. Finally they found a delicatessen shop open, and
the two hungry men amazed the proprietor by nearly buying out his stock.

It was after ten o'clock when Riley and Bok got back to the house with
their load of provisions to find every door locked, every curtain drawn,
and the bolt sprung on every window. Only the cellar grating remained,
and through this the two dropped their bundles and themselves, and
appeared in the dining-room, dirty and dishevelled, to find the party at
table enjoying a supper which Field had carefully hidden and brought out
when they had left the house.

Riley, cold and hungry, and before this time the victim of Field's
practical jokes, was not in a merry humor and began to recite
paraphrases of Field's poems. Field retorted by paraphrasing Riley's
poems, and mimicking the marked characteristics of Riley's speech. This
started Sol Smith Russell, who mimicked both. The fun grew fast and
furious, the entire company now took part, Mrs. Field's dresses were
laid under contribution, and Field, Russell, and Riley gave an impromptu
play. And it was upon this scene that Mrs. Field, after a continuous
ringing of the door-bell and nearly battering down the door, appeared at
seven o'clock the next morning!

It was fortunate that Eugene Field had a patient wife; she needed every
ounce of patience that she could command. And no one realized this more
keenly than did her husband. He once told of a dream he had which
illustrated the endurance of his wife.

"I thought," said Field, "that I had died and gone to heaven. I had some
difficulty in getting past St. Peter, who regarded me with doubt and
suspicion, and examined my records closely, but finally permitted me to
enter the pearly gates. As I walked up the street of the heavenly city,
I saw a venerable old man with long gray hair and flowing beard. His
benignant face encouraged me to address him. 'I have just arrived and I
am entirely unacquainted,' I said. 'May I ask your name?'

"'My name,' he replied, 'is Job.'

"'Indeed,' I exclaimed, 'are you that Job whom we were taught to revere
as the most patient being in the world?'

"'The same,' he said, with a shadow of hesitation; 'I did have quite a
reputation for patience once, but I hear that there is a woman now on
earth, in Chicago, who has suffered more than I ever did, and she has
endured it with great resignation.'

"'Why,' said I, 'that is curious. I am just from earth, and from
Chicago, and I do not remember to have heard of her case. What is her
name?'

"'Mrs. Eugene Field,' was the reply.

"Just then I awoke," ended Field.

The success of Field's paragraph engaging Bok to Miss Pinkham stimulated
the poet to greater effort. Bok had gone to Europe; Field, having found
out the date of his probable return, just about when the steamer was
due, printed an interview with the editor "at quarantine" which sounded
so plausible that even the men in Bok's office in Philadelphia were
fooled and prepared for his arrival. The interview recounted, in detail,
the changes in women's fashions in Paris, and so plausible had Field
made it, based upon information obtained at Marshall Field's, that even
the fashion papers copied it.

All this delighted Field beyond measure. Bok begged him to desist; but
Field answered by printing an item to the effect that there was the
highest authority for denying "the reports industriously circulated some
time ago to the effect that Mr. Bok was engaged to be married to a New
England young lady, whereas, as a matter of fact, it is no violation of
friendly confidence that makes it possible to announce that the
Philadelphia editor is engaged to Mrs. Frank Leslie, of New York."

It so happened that Field put this new paragraph on the wire just about
the time that Bok's actual engagement was announced. Field was now
deeply contrite, and sincerely promised Bok and his fiancée to reform.
"I'm through, you mooning, spooning calf, you," he wrote Bok, and his
friend believed him, only to receive a telegram the next day from Mrs.
Field warning him that "Gene is planning a series of telephonic
conversations with you and Miss Curtis at college that I think should
not be printed." Bok knew it was of no use trying to curb Field's
industry, and so he wired the editor of the Chicago News for his
cooperation. Field, now checked, asked Bok and his fiancée and the
parents of both to come to Chicago, be his guests for the World's Fair,
and "let me make amends."

It was a happy visit. Field was all kindness, and, of course, the entire
party was charmed by his personality. But the boy in him could not be
repressed. He had kept it down all through the visit. "No, not a
joke-cross my heart," he would say, and then he invited the party to
lunch with him on their way to the train when they were leaving for
home. "But we shall be in our travelling clothes, not dressed for a
luncheon," protested the women. It was an unfortunate protest, for it
gave Field an idea! "Oh," he assured them, "just a good-bye luncheon at
the club; just you folks and Julia and me." They believed him, only to
find upon their arrival at the club an assembly of over sixty guests at
one of the most elaborate luncheons ever served in Chicago, with each
woman guest carefully enjoined by Field, in his invitation, to "put on
her prettiest and most elaborate costume in order to dress up the
table!"

One day Field came to Philadelphia to give a reading in Camden in
conjunction with George W. Cable. It chanced that his friend, Francis
Wilson, was opening that same evening in Philadelphia in a new comic
opera which Field had not seen. He immediately refused to give his
reading, and insisted upon going to the theatre. The combined efforts of
his manager, Wilson, Mr. Cable, and his friends finally persuaded him to
keep his engagement and join in a double-box party later at the theatre.
To make sure that he would keep his lecture appointment, Bok decided to
go to Camden with him. Field and Cable were to appear alternately.

Field went on for his first number; and when he came off, he turned to
Bok and said: "No use, Bok, I'm a sick man. I must go home. Cable can
see this through," and despite every protestation Field bundled himself
into his overcoat and made for his carriage. "Sick, Bok, really sick,"
he muttered as they rode along. Then seeing a fruit-stand he said: "Buy
me a bag of oranges, like a good fellow. They'll do me good."

When Philadelphia was reached, he suggested: "Do you know I think it
would do me good to go and see Frank in the new play? Tell the driver to
go to the theatre like a good boy." Of course, that had been his intent
all along! When the theatre was reached he insisted upon taking the
oranges with him. "They'll steal 'em if you leave 'em there," he said.

Field lost all traces of his supposed illness the moment he reached the
box. Francis Wilson was on the stage with Marie Jansen. "Isn't it
beautiful?" said Field, and directing the attention of the party to the
players, he reached under his chair for the bag of oranges, took one
out, and was about to throw it at Wilson when Bok caught his arm, took
the orange away from him, and grabbed the bag. Field never forgave Bok
for this act of watchfulness. "Treason," he hissed--"going back on a
friend."

The one object of Field's ambition was to achieve the distinction of so
"fussing" Francis Wilson that he would be compelled to ring down the
curtain. He had tried every conceivable trick: had walked on the stage
in one of Wilson's scenes; had started a quarrel with an usher in the
audience--everything that ingenuity could conceive he had practised on
his friend. Bok had known this penchant of Field's, and when he insisted
on taking the bag of oranges into the theatre, Field's purpose was
evident!

One day Bok received a wire from Field: "City of New Orleans purposing
give me largest public reception on sixth ever given an author. Event of
unusual quality. Mayor and city officials peculiarly desirous of having
you introduce me to vast audience they propose to have. Hate to ask you
to travel so far, but would be great favor to me. Wire answer." Bok
wired back his willingness to travel to New Orleans and oblige his
friend. It occurred to Bok, however, to write to a friend in New Orleans
and ask the particulars. Of course, there was never any thought of Field
going to New Orleans or of any reception. Bok waited for further
advices, and a long letter followed from Field giving him a glowing
picture of the reception planned. Bok sent a message to his New Orleans
friend to be telegraphed from New Orleans on the sixth: "Find whole
thing to be a fake. Nice job to put over on me. Bok." Field was
overjoyed at the apparent success of his joke and gleefully told his
Chicago friends all about it--until he found out that the joke had been
on him. "Durned dirty, I call it," he wrote Bok.

It was a lively friendship that Eugene Field gave to Edward Bok, full of
anxieties and of continuous forebodings, but it was worth all that it
cost in mental perturbation. No rarer friend ever lived: in his serious
moments he gave one a quality of unforgetable friendship that remains a
precious memory. But his desire for practical jokes was uncontrollable:
it meant being constantly on one's guard, and even then the pranks could
not always be thwarted!



XVIII. Building Up a Magazine


The newspaper paragraphers were now having a delightful time with Edward
Bok and his woman's magazine, and he was having a delightful time with
them. The editor's publicity sense made him realize how valuable for his
purposes was all this free advertising. The paragraphers believed, in
their hearts, that they were annoying the young editor; they tried to
draw his fire through their articles. But he kept quiet, put his tongue
in his cheek, and determined to give them some choice morsels for their
wit.

He conceived the idea of making familiar to the public the women who
were back of the successful men of the day. He felt sure that his
readers wanted to know about these women. But to attract his newspaper
friends he labelled the series, "Unknown Wives of Well-Known Men" and
"Clever Daughters of Clever Men."

The alliterative titles at once attracted the paragraphers; they fell
upon them like hungry trout, and a perfect fusillade of paragraphs
began. This is exactly what the editor wanted; and he followed these two
series immediately by inducing the daughter of Charles Dickens to write
of "My Father as I Knew Him," and Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, of "Mr.
Beecher as I Knew Him." Bok now felt that he had given the newspapers
enough ammunition to last for some time; and he turned his attention to
building up a more permanent basis for his magazine.

The two authors of that day who commanded more attention than any others
were William Dean Howells and Rudyard Kipling. Bok knew that these two
would give to his magazine the literary quality that it needed, and so
he laid them both under contribution. He bought Mr. Howells's new novel,
"The Coast of Bohemia," and arranged that Kipling's new novelette upon
which he was working should come to the magazine. Neither the public nor
the magazine editors had expected Bok to break out along these more
permanent lines, and magazine publishers began to realize that a new
competitor had sprung up in Philadelphia. Bok knew they would feel this;
so before he announced Mr. Howells's new novel, he contracted with the
novelist to follow this with his autobiography. This surprised the
editors of the older magazines, for they realized that the Philadelphia
editor had completely tied up the leading novelist of the day for his
next two years' output.

Meanwhile, in order that the newspapers might be well supplied with
barbs for their shafts, he published an entire number of his magazine
written by famous daughters of famous men. This unique issue presented
contributions by the daughters of Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne,
President Harrison, Horace Greeley, William M. Thackeray, William Dean
Howells, General Sherman, Julia Ward Howe, Jefferson Davis, Mr.
Gladstone, and a score of others. This issue simply filled the
paragraphers with glee. Then once more Bok turned to material calculated
to cement the foundation for a more permanent structure.

He noted, early in its progress, the gathering strength of the drift
toward woman suffrage, and realized that the American woman was not
prepared, in her knowledge of her country, to exercise the privilege of
the ballot. Bok determined to supply the deficiency to his readers, and
concluded to put under contract the President of the United States,
Benjamin Harrison, the moment he left office, to write a series of
articles explaining the United States. No man knew this subject better
than the President; none could write better; and none would attract such
general attention to his magazine, reasoned Bok. He sought the
President, talked it over with him, and found him favorable to the idea.
But the President was in doubt at that time whether he would be a
candidate for another term, and frankly told Bok that he would be taking
too much risk to wait for him. He suggested that the editor try to
prevail upon his then secretary of state, James G. Blaine, to undertake
the series, and offered to see Mr. Blaine and induce him to a favorable
consideration. Bok acquiesced, and a few days afterward received from
Mr. Blaine a request to come to Washington.

Bok had had a previous experience with Mr. Blaine which had impressed
him to an unusual degree. Many years before, he had called upon him at
his hotel in New York, seeking his autograph, had been received, and as
the statesman was writing his signature he said: "Your name is a
familiar one to me. I have had correspondence with an Edward Bok who is
secretary of state for the Transvaal Republic. Are you related to him?"

Bok explained that this was his uncle, and that he was named for him.

Years afterward Bok happened to be at a public meeting where Mr. Blaine
was speaking, and the statesman, seeing him, immediately called him by
name. Bok knew of the reputed marvels of Mr. Blaine's memory, but this
proof of it amazed him.

"It is simply inconceivable, Mr. Blaine," said Bok, "that you should
remember my name after all these years."

"Not at all, my boy," returned Mr. Blaine. "Memorizing is simply
association. You associate a fact or an incident with a name and you
remember the name. It never leaves you. The moment I saw you I
remembered you told me that your uncle was secretary of state for the
Transvaal. That at once brought your name to me. You see how simple a
trick it is."

But Bok did not see, since remembering the incident was to him an even
greater feat of memory than recalling the name. It was a case of having
to remember two things instead of one.

At all events, Bok was no stranger to James G. Blaine when he called
upon him at his Lafayette Place home in Washington.

"You've gone ahead in the world some since I last saw you," was the
statesman's greeting. "It seems to go with the name."

This naturally broke the ice for the editor at once.

"Let's go to my library where we can talk quietly. What train are you
making back to Philadelphia, by the way?"

"The four, if I can," replied Bok.

"Excuse me a moment," returned Mr. Blaine, and when he came back to the
room, he said: "Now let's talk over this interesting proposition that
the President has told me about."

The two discussed the matter and completed arrangements whereby Mr.
Blaine was to undertake the work. Toward the latter end of the talk, Bok
had covertly--as he thought--looked at his watch to keep track of his
train.

"It's all right about that train," came from Mr. Blaine, with his back
toward Bok, writing some data of the talk at his desk. "You'll make it
all right."

Bok wondered how he should, as it then lacked only seventeen minutes of
four. But as Mr. Blaine reached the front door, he said to the editor:
"My carriage is waiting at the curb to take you to the station, and the
coachman has your seat in the parlor car."

And with this knightly courtesy, Mr. Blaine shook hands with Bok, who
was never again to see him, nor was the contract ever to be fulfilled.
For early in 1893 Mr. Blaine passed away without having begun the work.

Again Bok turned to the President, and explained to him that, for some
reason or other, the way seemed to point to him to write the articles
himself. By that time President Harrison had decided that he would not
succeed himself. Accordingly he entered into an agreement with the
editor to begin to write the articles immediately upon his retirement
from office. And the day after Inauguration Day every newspaper
contained an Associated Press despatch announcing the former President's
contract with The Ladies' Home Journal.

Shortly afterward, Benjamin Harrison's articles on "This Country of
Ours" successfully appeared in the magazine.

During Bok's negotiations with President Harrison in connection with his
series of articles, he was called to the White House for a conference.
It was midsummer. Mrs. Harrison was away at the seashore, and the
President was taking advantage of her absence by working far into the
night.

The President, his secretary, and Bok sat down to dinner.

The Marine Band was giving its weekly concert on the green, and after
dinner the President suggested that Bok and he adjourn to the "back lot"
and enjoy the music.

"You have a coat?" asked the President.

"No, thank you," Bok answered. "I don't need one."

"Not in other places, perhaps," he said, "but here you do. The dampness
comes up from the Potomac at nightfall, and it's just as well to be
careful. It's Mrs. Harrison's dictum," he added smiling. "Halford, send
up for one of my light coats, will you, please?"

Bok remarked, as he put on the President's coat, that this was probably
about as near as he should ever get to the presidency.

"Well, it's a question whether you want to get nearer to it," answered
the President. He looked very white and tired in the moonlight.

"Still," Bok said with a smile, "some folks seem to like it well enough
to wish to get it a second time."

"True," he answered, "but that's what pride will do for a man. Try one
of these cigars."

A cigar! Bok had been taking his tobacco in smaller doses with paper
around them. He had never smoked a cigar. Still, one cannot very well
refuse a presidential cigar!

"Thank you," Bok said as he took one from the President's case. He
looked at the cigar and remembered all he had read of Benjamin
Harrison's black cigars. This one was black--inky black--and big.

"Allow me," he heard the President suddenly say, as he handed him a
blazing match. There was no escape. The aroma was delicious, but--Two or
three whiffs of that cigar, and Bok decided the best thing to do was to
let it go out. He did.

"I have allowed you to talk so much," said the President after a while,
"that you haven't had a chance to smoke. Allow me," and another match
crackled into flame.

"Thank you," the editor said, as once more he lighted the cigar, and the
fumes went clear up into the farthest corner of his brain.

"Take a fresh cigar," said the President after a while. "That doesn't
seem to burn well. You will get one like that once in a while, although
I am careful about my cigars."

"No, thanks, Mr. President," Bok said hurriedly. "It's I, not the
cigar."

"Well, prove it to me with another," was the quick rejoinder, as he held
out his case, and in another minute a match again crackled. "There is
only one thing worse than a bad smoke, and that is an office-seeker,"
chuckled the President.

Bok couldn't prove that the cigars were bad, naturally. So smoke that
cigar he did, to the bitter end, and it was bitter! In fifteen minutes
his head and stomach were each whirling around, and no more welcome
words had Bok ever heard than when the President said: "Well, suppose we
go in. Halford and I have a day's work ahead of us yet."

The President went to work.

Bok went to bed. He could not get there quick enough, and he
didn't--that is, not before he had experienced that same sensation of
which Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: he never could understand, he said,
why young authors found so much trouble in getting into the magazines,
for his first trip to Europe was not a day old before, without even the
slightest desire or wish on his part, he became a contributor to the
Atlantic!

The next day, and for days after, Bok smelled, tasted, and felt that
presidential cigar!

A few weeks afterward, Bok was talking after dinner with the President
at a hotel in New York, when once more the cigar-case came out and was
handed to Bok.

"No, thank you, Mr. President," was the instant reply, as visions of his
night in the White House came back to him. "I am like the man from the
West who was willing to try anything once."

And he told the President the story of the White House cigar.

The editor decided to follow General Harrison's discussion of American
affairs by giving his readers a glimpse of foreign politics, and he
fixed upon Mr. Gladstone as the one figure abroad to write for him. He
sailed for England, visited Hawarden Castle, and proposed to Mr.
Gladstone that he should write a series of twelve autobiographical
articles which later could be expanded into a book.

Bok offered fifteen thousand dollars for the twelve articles--a goodly
price in those days--and he saw that the idea and the terms attracted
the English statesman. But he also saw that the statesman was not quite
ready. He decided, therefore, to leave the matter with him, and keep the
avenue of approach favorably open by inducing Mrs. Gladstone to write
for him. Bok knew that Mrs. Gladstone had helped her husband in his
literary work, that she was a woman who had lived a full-rounded life,
and after a day's visit and persuasion, with Mr. Gladstone as an amused
looker-on, the editor closed a contract with Mrs. Gladstone for a series
of reminiscent articles "From a Mother's Life."

Some time after Bok had sent the check to Mrs. Gladstone, he received a
letter from Mr. Gladstone expressing the opinion that his wife must have
written with a golden pen, considering the size of the honorarium.
"But," he added, "she is so impressed with this as the first money she
has ever earned by her pen that she is reluctant to part with the check.
The result is that she has not offered it for deposit, and has decided
to frame it. Considering the condition of our exchequer, I have tried to
explain to her, and so have my son and daughter, that if she were to
present the check for payment and allow it to pass through the bank, the
check would come back to you and that I am sure your company would
return it to her as a souvenir of the momentous occasion. Our arguments
are of no avail, however, and it occurred to me that an assurance from
you might make the check more useful than it is at present!"

Bok saw with this disposition that, as he had hoped, the avenue of
favorable approach to Mr. Gladstone had been kept open. The next summer
Bok again visited Hawarden, where he found the statesman absorbed in
writing a life of Bishop Butler, from which it was difficult for him to
turn away. He explained that it would take at least a year or two to
finish this work. Bok saw, of course, his advantage, and closed a
contract with the English statesman whereby he was to write the twelve
autobiographical articles immediately upon his completion of the work
then under his hand.

Here again, however, as in the case of Mr. Blaine, the contract was
never fulfilled, for Mr. Gladstone passed away before he could free his
mind and begin on the work.

The vicissitudes of an editor's life were certainly beginning to
demonstrate themselves to Edward Bok.

The material that the editor was publishing and the authors that he was
laying under contribution began to have marked effect upon the
circulation of the magazine, and it was not long before the original
figures were doubled, an edition--enormous for that day--of seven
hundred and fifty thousand copies was printed and sold each month, the
magical figure of a million was in sight, and the periodical was rapidly
taking its place as one of the largest successes of the day.

Mr. Curtis's single proprietorship of the magazine had been changed into
a corporation called The Curtis Publishing Company, with a capital of
five hundred thousand dollars, with Mr. Curtis as president, and Bok as
vice-president.

The magazine had by no means an easy road to travel financially. The
doubling of the subscription price to one dollar per year had materially
checked the income for the time being; the huge advertising bills,
sometimes exceeding three hundred thousand dollars a year, were
difficult to pay; large credit had to be obtained, and the banks were
carrying a considerable quantity of Mr. Curtis's notes. But Mr. Curtis
never wavered in his faith in his proposition and his editor. In the
first he invested all he had and could borrow, and to the latter he gave
his undivided support. The two men worked together rather as father and
son--as, curiously enough, they were to be later--than as employer and
employee. To Bok, the daily experience of seeing Mr. Curtis finance his
proposition in sums that made the publishing world of that day gasp with
sceptical astonishment was a wonderful opportunity, of which the editor
took full advantage so as to learn the intricacies of a world which up
to that time he had known only in a limited way.

What attracted Bok immensely to Mr. Curtis's methods was their perfect
simplicity and directness. He believed absolutely in the final outcome
of his proposition: where others saw mist and failure ahead, he saw
clear weather and the port of success. Never did he waver: never did he
deflect from his course. He knew no path save the direct one that led
straight to success, and, through his eyes, he made Bok see it with
equal clarity until Bok wondered why others could not see it. But they
could not. Cyrus Curtis would never be able, they said, to come out from
under the load he had piled up. Where they differed from Mr. Curtis was
in their lack of vision: they could not see what he saw!

It has been said that Mr. Curtis banished patent-medicine advertisements
from his magazine only when he could afford to do so. That is not true,
as a simple incident will show. In the early days, he and Bok were
opening the mail one Friday full of anxiety because the pay-roll was due
that evening, and there was not enough money in the bank to meet it.
From one of the letters dropped a certified check for five figures for a
contract equal to five pages in the magazine. It was a welcome sight,
for it meant an easy meeting of the pay-roll for that week and two
succeeding weeks. But the check was from a manufacturing patent-medicine
company. Without a moment's hesitation, Mr. Curtis slipped it back into
the envelope, saying: "Of course, that we can't take." He returned the
check, never gave the matter a second thought, and went out and borrowed
more money to meet his pay-roll!

With all respect to American publishers, there are very few who could
have done this--or indeed, would do it to-day, under similar
conditions--particularly in that day when it was the custom for all
magazines to accept patent-medicine advertising; The Ladies' Home
Journal was practically the only publication of standing in the United
States refusing that class of business!

Bok now saw advertising done on a large scale by a man who believed in
plenty of white space surrounding the announcement in the advertisement.
He paid Mr. Howells $10,000 for his autobiography, and Mr. Curtis spent
$50,000 in advertising it. "It is not expense," he would explain to Bok,
"it is investment. We are investing in a trade-mark. It will all come
back in time." And when the first $100,000 did not come back as Mr.
Curtis figured, he would send another $100,000 after it, and then both
came back.

Bok's experience in advertisement writing was now to stand him in
excellent stead. He wrote all the advertisements and from that day to
the day of his retirement, practically every advertisement of the
magazine was written by him.

Mr. Curtis believed that the editor should write the advertisements of a
magazine's articles. "You are the one who knows them, what is in them
and your purpose," he said to Bok, who keenly enjoyed this advertisement
writing. He put less and less in his advertisements. Mr. Curtis made
them larger and larger in the space which they occupied in the media
used. In this way The Ladies' Home Journal advertisements became
distinctive for their use of white space, and as the advertising world
began to say: "You can't miss them." Only one feature was advertised at
one time, but the "feature" was always carefully selected for its wide
popular appeal, and then Mr. Curtis spared no expense to advertise it
abundantly. As much as $400,000 was spent in one year in advertising
only a few features--a gigantic sum in those days, approached by no
other periodical. But Mr. Curtis believed in showing the advertising
world that he was willing to take his own medicine.

Naturally, such a campaign of publicity announcing the most popular
attractions offered by any magazine of the day had but one effect: the
circulation leaped forward by bounds, and the advertising columns of the
magazine rapidly filled up.

The success of The Ladies' Home Journal began to look like an assured
fact, even to the most sceptical.

As a matter of fact, it was only at its beginning, as both publisher
and editor knew. But they desired to fill the particular field of the
magazine so quickly and fully that there would be small room for
competition. The woman's magazine field was to belong to them!



XIX. Personality Letters


Edward Bok was always interested in the manner in which personality was
expressed in letters. For this reason he adopted, as a boy, the method
of collecting not mere autographs, but letters characteristic of their
writers which should give interesting insight into the most famous men
and women of the day. He secured what were really personality letters.

One of these writers was Mark Twain. The humorist was not kindly
disposed toward autograph collectors, and the fact that in this case the
collector aimed to raise the standard of the hobby did not appease him.
Still, it brought forth a characteristic letter:

"I hope I shall not offend you; I shall certainly say nothing with the
intention to offend you. I must explain myself, however, and I will do
it as kindly as I can. What you ask me to do, I am asked to do as often
as one-half dozen times a week. Three hundred letters a year! One's
impulse is to freely consent, but one's time and necessary occupations
will not permit it. There is no way but to decline in all cases, making
no exceptions, and I wish to call your attention to a thing which has
probably not occurred to you, and that is this: that no man takes
pleasure in exercising his trade as a pastime. Writing is my trade, and
I exercise it only when I am obliged to. You might make your request of
a doctor, or a builder, or a sculptor, and there would be no impropriety
in it, but if you asked either of those for a specimen of his trade, his
handiwork, he would be justified in rising to a point of order. It would
never be fair to ask a doctor for one of his corpses to remember him by.

"MARK TWAIN".

At another time, after an interesting talk with Mark Twain, Bok wrote an
account of the interview, with the humorist's permission. Desirous that
the published account should be in every respect accurate, the
manuscript was forwarded to Mark Twain for his approval. This resulted
in the following interesting letter:

"MY DEAR MR. BOK:

"No, no--it is like most interviews, pure twaddle, and valueless.

"For several quite plain and simple reasons, an 'interview' must, as a
rule, be an absurdity. And chiefly for this reason: it is an attempt to
use a boat on land, or a wagon on water, to speak figuratively. Spoken
speech is one thing, written speech is quite another. Print is a proper
vehicle for the latter, but it isn't for the former. The moment 'talk'
is put into print you recognize that it is not what it was when you
heard it; you perceive that an immense something has disappeared from
it. That is its soul. You have nothing but a dead carcass left on your
hands. Color, play of feature, the varying modulations of voice, the
laugh, the smile, the informing inflections, everything that gave that
body warmth, grace, friendliness, and charm, and commended it to your
affection, or at least to your tolerance, is gone, and nothing is left,
but a pallid, stiff and repulsive cadaver.

"Such is 'talk,' almost invariably, as you see it lying in state in an
'interview.' The interviewer seldom tries to tell one how a thing was
said; he merely puts in the naked remark, and stops there. When one
writes for print, his methods are very different. He follows forms which
have but little resemblance to conversation, but they make the reader
understand what the writer is trying to convey. And when the writer is
making a story, and finds it necessary to report some of the talk of his
characters, observe how cautiously and anxiously he goes at that risky
and difficult thing:

"'If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,' said Alfred, taking
a mock heroic attitude, and casting an arch glance upon the company,
'blood would have flowed.'

"'If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,' said Hawkwood, with
that in his eye which caused more than one heart in that guilty
assemblage to quake, 'blood would have flowed.'

"'If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,' said the paltry
blusterer, with valor on his tongue and pallor on his lips, 'blood would
have flowed.'

"So painfully aware is the novelist that naked talk in print conveys no
meaning, that he loads, and often overloads, almost every utterance of
his characters with explanations and interpretations. It is a loud
confession that print is a poor vehicle for 'talk,' it is a recognition
that uninterpreted talk in print would result in confusion to the
reader, not instruction.

"Now, in your interview you have certainly been most accurate, you have
set down the sentences I uttered as I said them. But you have not a word
of explanation; what my manner was at several points is not indicated.
Therefore, no reader can possibly know where I was in earnest and where
I was joking; or whether I was joking altogether or in earnest
altogether. Such a report of a conversation has no value. It can convey
many meanings to the reader, but never the right one. To add
interpretations which would convey the right meaning is a something
which would require--what? An art so high and fine and difficult that no
possessor of it would ever be allowed to waste it on interviews.

"No; spare the reader and spare me; leave the whole interview out; it is
rubbish. I wouldn't talk in my sleep if I couldn't talk better than
that.

"If you wish to print anything, print this letter; it may have some
value, for it may explain to a reader here and there why it is that in
interviews as a rule men seem to talk like anybody but themselves.

"Sincerely yours,

"MARK TWAIN."

The Harpers had asked Bok to write a book descriptive of his
autograph-letter collection, and he had consented. The propitious
moment, however, never came in his busy life. One day he mentioned the
fact to Doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes and the poet said: "Let me write
the introduction for it." Bok, of course, eagerly accepted, and within a
few days he received the following, which, with the book, never reached
publication:

"How many autograph writers have had occasion to say with the Scotch
trespasser climbing his neighbor's wall, when asked where he was going
Bok again!'

"Edward Bok has persevered like the widow in scripture, and the most
obdurate subjects of his quest have found it for their interest to give
in, lest by his continual coming he should weary them. We forgive him;
almost admire him for his pertinacity; only let him have no imitators.
The tax he has levied must not be imposed a second time.

"An autograph of a distinguished personage means more to an imaginative
person than a prosaic looker-on dreams of. Along these lines ran the
consciousness and the guiding will of Napoleon, or Washington, of Milton
or Goethe.

"His breath warmed the sheet of paper which you have before you. The
microscope will show you the trail of flattened particles left by the
tesselated epidermis of his hand as it swept along the manuscript. Nay,
if we had but the right developing fluid to flow over it, the surface of
the sheet would offer you his photograph as the light pictured it at the
instant of writing.

"Look at Mr. Bok's collection with such thoughts, ...and you will cease
to wonder at his pertinacity and applaud the conquests of his
enthusiasm.

"Oliver Wendell Holmes."

Whenever biographers of the New England school of writers have come to
write of John Greenleaf Whittier, they have been puzzled as to the
scanty number of letters and private papers left by the poet. This
letter, written to Bok, in comment upon a report that the poet had
burned all his letters, is illuminating:

"Dear Friend:

"The report concerning the burning of my letters is only true so far as
this: some years ago I destroyed a large collection of letters I had
received not from any regard to my own reputation, but from the fear
that to leave them liable to publicity might be injurious or unpleasant
to the writers or their friends. They covered much of the anti-slavery
period and the War of the Rebellion, and many of them I knew were
strictly private and confidential. I was not able at the time to look
over the MS. and thought it safest to make a bonfire of it all. I have
always regarded a private and confidential letter as sacred and its
publicity in any shape a shameful breach of trust, unless authorized by
the writer. I only wish my own letters to thousands of correspondents
may be as carefully disposed of.

"You may use this letter as you think wise and best.

"Very truly thy friend,

"John G. Whittier."

Once in a while a bit of untold history crept into a letter sent to Bok;
as for example in the letter, referred to in a previous chapter from
General Jubal A. Early, the Confederate general, in which he gave an
explanation, never before fully given, of his reasons for the burning of
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania:

"The town of Chambersburg was burned on the same day on which the demand
on it was made by McCausland and refused. It was ascertained that a
force of the enemy's cavalry was approaching, and there was no time for
delay. Moreover, the refusal was peremptory, and there was no reason for
delay unless the demand was a mere idle threat.

"I had no knowledge of what amount of money there might be in
Chambersburg. I knew that it was a town of some twelve thousand
inhabitants. The town of Frederick, in Maryland, which was a much
smaller town than Chambersburg, had in June very promptly responded to
my demand on it for $200,000, some of the inhabitants, who were friendly
to me, expressing a regret that I had not made it $500,000. There were
one or more National Banks at Chambersburg, and the town ought to have
been able to raise the sum I demanded. I never heard that the refusal
was based on the inability to pay such a sum, and there was no offer to
pay any sum. The value of the houses destroyed by Hunter, with their
contents, was fully $100,000 in gold, and at the time I made the demand
the price of gold in greenbacks had very nearly reached $3.00 and was
going up rapidly. Hence it was that I required the $500,000 in
greenbacks, if the gold was not paid, to provide against any further
depreciation of the paper money.

"I would have been fully justified by the laws of retaliation in war in
burning the town without giving the inhabitants the opportunity of
redeeming it.

"J. A. Early."

Bok wrote to Eugene Field, once, asking him why in all his verse he had
never written any love-songs, and suggesting that the story of Jacob and
Rachel would have made a theme for a beautiful love-poem. Field's reply
is interesting and characteristic, and throws a light on an omission in
his works at which many have wondered:

"Dear Bok:

"I'll see what I can do with the suggestion as to Jacob and Rachel.
Several have asked me why I have never written any love-songs. That is
hard to answer. I presume it is because I married so young. I was
married at twenty-three, and did not begin to write until I was
twenty-nine. Most of my lullabies are, in a sense, love-songs; so is 'To
a Usurper,' 'A Valentine,' 'The Little Bit of a Woman,' 'Lovers' Lane,'
etc., but not the kind commonly called love-songs. I am sending you
herewith my first love-song, and even into it has crept a cadence that
makes it a love-song of maturity rather than of youth. I do not know
that you will care to have it, but it will interest you as the first....

"Ever sincerely yours,

"Eugene Field."

During the last years of his life, Bok tried to interest Benjamin
Harrison, former President of the United States, in golf, since his
physician had ordered "moderate outdoor exercise." Bok offered to equip
him with the necessary clubs and balls. When he received the balls, the
ex-president wrote:

"Thanks. But does not a bottle of liniment go with each ball?"

When William Howard Taft became President of the United States, the
impression was given out that journalists would not be so welcome at the
White House as they had been during the administration of President
Roosevelt. Mr. Taft, writing to Bok about another matter, asked why he
had not called and talked it over while in Washington. Bok explained the
impression that was current; whereupon came the answer, swift and
definite!

"There are no _personæ non gratæ_ at the White House. I long ago learned
the waste of time in maintaining such a class."

There was in circulation during Henry Ward Beecher's lifetime a story,
which is still revived every now and then, that on a hot Sunday morning
in early summer, he began his sermon in Plymouth Church by declaring
that "It is too damned hot to preach." Bok wrote to the great preacher,
asked him the truth of this report, and received this definite denial:

"My Dear Friend:

"No, I never did begin a sermon with the remark that "it is d--d hot,"
etc. It is a story a hundred years old, revamped every few years to suit
some new man. When I am dead and gone, it will be told to the rising
generation respecting some other man, and then, as now, there will be
fools who will swear that they heard it!

"Henry Ward Beecher."

When Bok's father passed away, he left, among his effects, a large
number of Confederate bonds. Bok wrote to Jefferson Davis, asking if
they had any value, and received this characteristic answer:

"I regret my inability to give an opinion. The theory of the Confederate
Government, like that of the United States, was to separate the sword
from the purse. Therefore, the Confederate States Treasury was under the
control not of the Chief Executive, but of the Congress and the
Secretary of the Treasury. This may explain my want of special
information in regard to the Confederate States Bonds. Generally, I may
state that the Confederate Government cannot have preserved a fund for
the redemption of its Bonds other than the cotton subscribed by our
citizens for that purpose. At the termination of the War, the United
States Government, claiming to be the successor of the Confederate
Government, seized all its property which could be found, both at home
and abroad. I have not heard of any purpose to apply these assets to the
payment of the liabilities of the Confederacy, and, therefore, have been
at a loss to account for the demand which has lately been made for the
Confederate Bonds.

"Jefferson Davis."

Always the soul of courtesy itself, and most obliging in granting the
numerous requests which came to him for his autograph, William Dean
Howells finally turned; and Bok always considered himself fortunate that
the novelist announced his decision to him in the following
characteristic letter:

"The requests for my autograph have of late become so burdensome that I
am obliged either to refuse all or to make some sort of limitation.
Every author must have an uneasy fear that his signature is 'collected'
at times like postage-stamps, and at times 'traded' among the collectors
for other signatures. That would not matter so much if the applicants
were always able to spell his name, or were apparently acquainted with
his work or interested in it.

"I propose, therefore, to give my name hereafter only to such askers as
can furnish me proof by intelligent comment upon it that they have read
some book of mine. If they can inclose a bookseller's certificate that
they have bought the book, their case will be very much strengthened;
but I do not insist upon this. In all instances a card and a stamped and
directed envelope must be inclosed. I will never 'add a sentiment'
except in the case of applicants who can give me proof that they have
read all my books, now some thirty or forty in number.

"W. D. Howells."

It need hardly be added that Mr. Howells's good nature prevented his
adherence to his rule!

Rudyard Kipling is another whose letters fairly vibrate with
personality; few men can write more interestingly, or, incidentally,
considering his microscopic handwriting, say more on a letter page.

Bok was telling Kipling one day about the scrapple so dear to the heart
of the Philadelphian as a breakfast dish. The author had never heard of
it or tasted it, and wished for a sample. So, upon his return home, Bok
had a Philadelphia market-man send some of the Philadelphia-made
article, packed in ice, to Kipling in his English home. There were
several pounds of it and Kipling wrote:

"By the way, that scrapple--which by token is a dish for the
Gods--arrived in perfect condition, and I ate it all, or as much as I
could get hold of. I am extremely grateful for it. It's all nonsense
about pig being unwholesome. There isn't a Mary-ache in a barrel of
scrapple."

Then later came this afterthought:

"A noble dish is that scrapple, but don't eat three slices and go to
work straight on top of 'em. That's the way to dyspepsia!

"P. S. I wish to goodness you'd give another look at England before
long. It's quite a country; really it is. Old, too, I believe."

It was Kipling who suggested that Bok should name his Merion home
"Swastika." Bok asked what the author knew about the mystic sign:

"There is a huge book (I've forgotten the name, but the Smithsonian will
know)," he wrote back, "about the Swastika (pronounced Swas-ti-ka to
rhyme with 'car's ticker'), in literature, art, religion, dogma, etc. I
believe there are two sorts of Swastikas, one [figure] and one [figure];
one is bad, the other is good, but which is which I know not for sure.
The Hindu trader opens his yearly account-books with a Swastika as 'an
auspicious beginning,' and all the races of the earth have used it. It's
an inexhaustible subject, and some man in the Smithsonian ought to be
full of it. Anyhow, the sign on the door or the hearth should protect
you against fire and water and thieves.

"By this time should have reached you a Swastika door-knocker, which I
hope may fit in with the new house and the new name. It was made by a
village-smith; and you will see that it has my initials, to which I hope
you will add yours, that the story may be complete.

"We are settled out here in Cape Town, eating strawberries in January
and complaining of the heat, which for the last two days has been a
little more than we pampered folk are used to; say 70° at night. But
what a lovely land it is, and how superb are the hydrangeas! Figure to
yourself four acres of 'em, all in bloom on the hillside near our home!"

Bok had visited the Panama Canal before its completion and had talked
with the men, high and low, working on it, asking them how they felt
about President Roosevelt's action in "digging the Canal first and
talking about it afterwards." He wrote the result of his talks to
Colonel Roosevelt, and received this reply:

"I shall always keep your letter, for I shall want my children and
grandchildren to see it after I am gone. I feel just as you do about the
Canal. It is the greatest contribution I was able to make to my country;
and while I do not believe my countrymen appreciate this at the moment,
I am extremely pleased to know that the men on the Canal do, for they
are the men who have done and are doing the great job. I am awfully
pleased that you feel the way you do.

"Theodore Roosevelt."

In 1887, General William Tecumseh Sherman was much talked about as a
candidate for the presidency, until his famous declaration came out: "I
will not run if nominated, and will not serve if elected." During the
weeks of talk, however, much was said of General Sherman's religious
views, some contending that he was a Roman Catholic; others that he was
a Protestant.

Bok wrote to General Sherman and asked him. His answer was direct:

"My family is strongly Roman Catholic, but I am not. Until I ask some
favor the public has no claim to question me further."

When Mrs. Sherman passed away, Doctor T. DeWitt Talmage wrote General
Sherman a note of condolence, and what is perhaps one of the fullest
expositions of his religious faith to which he ever gave expression came
from him in a most remarkable letter, which Doctor Talmage gave to Bok.

"New York, December 12, 1886.

"My Dear Friend:

"Your most tender epistle from Mansfield, Ohio, of December 9 brought
here last night by your son awakens in my brain a flood of memories.
Mrs. Sherman was by nature and inheritance an Irish Catholic. Her
grandfather, Hugh Boyle, was a highly educated classical scholar, whom I
remember well,--married the half sister of the mother of James G. Blaine
at Brownsville, Pa., settled in our native town Lancaster, Fairfield
County, Ohio, and became the Clerk of the County Court. He had two
daughters, Maria and Susan. Maria became the wife of Thomas Ewing, about
1819, and was the mother of my wife, Ellen Boyle Ewing. She was so
staunch to what she believed the true Faith that I am sure that though
she loved her children better than herself, she would have seen them die
with less pang, than to depart from the "Faith." Mr. Ewing was a great
big man, an intellectual giant, and looked down on religion as something
domestic, something consoling which ought to be encouraged; and to him
it made little difference whether the religion was Methodist,
Presbyterian, Baptist, or Catholic, provided the acts were 'half as
good' as their professions.

"In 1829 my father, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio, died at
Lebanon away from home, leaving his widow, Mary Hoyt of Norwalk, Conn.
(sister to Charles and James Hoyt of Brooklyn) with a frame house in
Lancaster, an income of $200 a year and eleven as hungry, rough, and
uncouth children as ever existed on earth. But father had been kind,
generous, manly with a big heart; and when it ceased to beat friends
turned up--Our Uncle Stoddard took Charles, the oldest; W. I. married
the next, Elisabeth (still living); Amelia was soon married to a
merchant in Mansfield, McCorab; I, the third son, was adopted by Thomas
Ewing, a neighbor, and John fell to his namesake in Mt. Vernon, a
merchant.

"Surely 'Man proposes and God disposes.' I could fill a hundred pages,
but will not bore you. A half century has passed and you, a Protestant
minister, write me a kind, affectionate letter about my Catholic wife
from Mansfield, one of my family homes, where my mother, Mary Hoyt,
died, and where our Grandmother, Betsey Stoddard, lies buried. Oh, what
a flood of memories come up at the name of Betsey Stoddard,--daughter of
the Revd. Mr. Stoddard, who preached three times every Sunday, and as
often in between as he could cajole a congregation at ancient Woodbury,
Conn.,--who came down from Mansfield to Lancaster, three days' hard
journey to regulate the family of her son Judge Sherman, whose gentle
wife was as afraid of Grandma as any of us boys. She never spared the
rod or broom, but she had more square solid sense to the yard than any
woman I ever saw. From her Charles, John, and I inherit what little
sense we possess.

"Lancaster, Fairfield County, was our paternal home, Mansfield that of
Grandmother Stoddard and her daughter, Betsey Parker. There Charles and
John settled, and when in 1846 I went to California Mother also went
there, and there died in 1851.

"When a boy, once a year I had to drive my mother in an old 'dandy
wagon' on her annual visit. The distance was 75 miles, further than
Omaha is from San Francisco. We always took three days and stopped at
every house to gossip with the woman folks, and dispense medicines and
syrups to the sick, for in those days all had the chills or ague. If I
could I would not awaken Grandmother Betsey Stoddard because she would
be horrified at the backsliding of the servants of Christ,--but oh! how
I would like to take my mother, Mary Hoyt, in a railroad car out to
California, to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, among the vineyards of
grapes, the groves of oranges, lemons and pomegranates. How clearly
recurs to me the memory of her exclamation when I told her I had been
ordered around Cape Horn to California. Her idea was about as definite
as mine or yours as to, Where is Stanley? but she saw me return with
some nuggets to make her life more comfortable.

"She was a strong Presbyterian to the end, but she loved my Ellen, and
the love was mutual. All my children have inherited their mother's
faith, and she would have given anything if I would have simply said
Amen; but it is simply impossible.

"But I am sure that you know that the God who created the minnow, and
who has moulded the rose and carnation, given each its sweet fragrance,
will provide for those mortal men who strive to do right in the world
which he himself has stocked with birds, animals, and men;--at all
events, I will trust Him with absolute confidence.

"With great respect and affection,

"Yours truly,

"W. T. Sherman."



XX. Meeting a Reverse or Two


With the hitherto unreached magazine circulation of a million copies a
month in sight, Edward Bok decided to give a broader scope to the
periodical. He was determined to lay under contribution not only the
most famous writers of the day, but also to seek out those well-known
persons who usually did not contribute to the magazines; always keeping
in mind the popular appeal of his material, but likewise aiming
constantly to widen its scope and gradually to lift its standard.

Sailing again for England, he sought and secured the acquaintance of
Rudyard Kipling, whose alert mind was at once keenly interested in what
Bok was trying to do. He was willing to co-operate, with the result that
Bok secured the author's new story, William the Conqueror. When Bok read
the manuscript, he was delighted; he had for some time been reading
Kipling's work with enthusiasm, and he saw at once that here was one of
the author's best tales.

At that time, Frances E. Willard had brought her agitation for
temperance prominently before the public, and Bok had promised to aid
her by eliminating from his magazine, so far as possible, all scenes
which represented alcoholic drinking. It was not an iron-clad rule, but,
both from the principle fixed for his own life and in the interest of
the thousands of young people who read his magazine, he believed it
would be better to minimize all incidents portraying alcoholic drinking
or drunkenness. Kipling's story depicted several such scenes; so when
Bok sent the proofs he suggested that if Kipling could moderate some of
these scenes, it would be more in line with the policy of the magazine.
Bok did not make a special point of the matter, leaving it to Kipling's
judgment to decide how far he could make such changes and preserve the
atmosphere of his story.

From this incident arose the widely published story that Bok cabled
Kipling, asking permission to omit a certain drinking reference, and
substitute something else, whereupon Kipling cabled back: "Substitute
Mellin's Food." As a matter of fact (although it is a pity to kill such
a clever story), no such cable was ever sent and no such reply ever
received. As Kipling himself wrote to Bok: "No, I said nothing about
Mellin's Food. I wish I had." An American author in London happened to
hear of the correspondence between the editor and the author, it
appealed to his sense of humor, and the published story was the result.
If it mattered, it is possible that Brander Matthews could accurately
reveal the originator of the much-published yarn.

From Kipling's house Bok went to Tunbridge Wells to visit Mary Anderson,
the one-time popular American actress, who had married Antonio de
Navarro and retired from the stage. A goodly number of editors had tried
to induce the retired actress to write, just as a number of managers had
tried to induce her to return to the stage. All had failed. But Bok
never accepted the failure of others as a final decision for himself;
and after two or three visits, he persuaded Madame de Navarro to write
her reminiscences, which he published with marked success in the
magazine.

The editor was very desirous of securing something for his magazine that
would delight children, and he hit upon the idea of trying to induce
Lewis Carroll to write another Alice in Wonderland series. He was told
by English friends that this would be difficult, since the author led a
secluded life at Oxford and hardly ever admitted any one into his
confidence. But Bok wanted to beard the lion in his den, and an Oxford
graduate volunteered to introduce him to an Oxford don through whom, if
it were at all possible, he could reach the author. The journey to
Oxford was made, and Bok was introduced to the don, who turned out to be
no less a person than the original possessor of the highly colored
vocabulary of the "White Rabbit" of the Alice stories.

"Impossible," immediately declared the don. "You couldn't persuade
Dodgson to consider it." Bok, however, persisted, and it so happened
that the don liked what he called "American perseverance."

"Well, come along," he said. "We'll beard the lion in his den, as you
say, and see what happens. You know, of course, that it is the Reverend
Charles L. Dodgson that we are going to see, and I must introduce you to
that person, not to Lewis Carroll. He is a tutor in mathematics here, as
you doubtless know; lives a rigidly secluded life; dislikes strangers;
makes no friends; and yet withal is one of the most delightful men in
the world if he wants to be."

But as it happened upon this special occasion when Bok was introduced to
him in his chambers in Tom Quad, Mr. Dodgson did not "want to be"
delightful. There was no doubt that back of the studied reserve was a
kindly, charming, gracious gentleman, but Bok's profession had been
mentioned and the author was on rigid guard.

When Bok explained that one of the special reasons for his journey from
America this summer was to see him, the Oxford mathematician
sufficiently softened to ask the editor to sit down.

Bok then broached his mission.

"You are quite in error, Mr. Bok," was the Dodgson comment. "You are not
speaking to the person you think you are addressing."

For a moment Bok was taken aback. Then he decided to go right to the
point.

"Do I understand, Mr. Dodgson, that you are not 'Lewis Carroll'; that
you did not write Alice in Wonderland?"

For an answer the tutor rose, went into another room, and returned with
a book which he handed to Bok. "This is my book," he said simply. It was
entitled An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, by C. L. Dodgson. When
he looked up, Bok found the author's eyes riveted on him.

"Yes," said Bok. "I know, Mr. Dodgson. If I remember correctly, this is
the same book of which you sent a copy to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria,
when she wrote to you for a personal copy of your Alice."

Dodgson made no comment. The face was absolutely without expression save
a kindly compassion intended to convey to the editor that he was making
a terrible mistake.

"As I said to you in the beginning, Mr. Bok, you are in error. You are
not speaking to 'Lewis Carroll.'" And then: "Is this the first time you
have visited Oxford?"

Bok said it was; and there followed the most delightful two hours with
the Oxford mathematician and the Oxford don, walking about and into the
wonderful college buildings, and afterward the three had a bite of lunch
together. But all efforts to return to "Lewis Carroll" were futile.
While saying good-by to his host, Bok remarked:

"I can't help expressing my disappointment, Mr. Dodgson, in my quest in
behalf of the thousands of American children who love you and who would
so gladly welcome 'Lewis Carroll' back."

The mention of children and their love for him momentarily had its
effect. For an instant a different light came into the eyes, and Bok
instinctively realized Dodgson was about to say something. But he
checked himself. Bok had almost caught him off his guard.

"I am sorry," he finally said at the parting at the door, "that you
should be disappointed, for the sake of the children as well as for your
own sake. I only regret that I cannot remove the disappointment."

And as the trio walked to the station, the don said: "That is his
attitude toward all, even toward me. He is not 'Lewis Carroll' to any
one; is extremely sensitive on the point, and will not acknowledge his
identity. That is why he lives so much to himself. He is in daily dread
that some one will mention Alice in his presence. Curious, but there it
is."

Edward Bok's next quest was to be even more disappointing; he was never
even to reach the presence of the person he sought. This was Florence
Nightingale, the Crimean nurse. Bok was desirous of securing her own
story of her experiences, but on every hand he found an unwillingness
even to take him to her house. "No use," said everybody. "She won't see
any one. Hates publicity and all that sort of thing, and shuns the
public." Nevertheless, the editor journeyed to the famous nurse's home
on South Street, in the West End of London, only to be told that "Miss
Nightingale never receives strangers."

"But I am not a stranger," insisted the editor. "I am one of her friends
from America. Please take my card to her."

This mollified the faithful secretary, but the word instantly came back
that Miss Nightingale was not receiving any one that day. Bok wrote her
a letter asking for an appointment, which was never answered. Then he
wrote another, took it personally to the house, and awaited an answer,
only to receive the message that "Miss Nightingale says there is no
answer to the letter."

Bok had with such remarkable uniformity secured whatever he sought, that
these experiences were new to him. Frankly, they puzzled him. He was not
easily baffled, but baffled he now was, and that twice in succession.
Turn as he might, he could find no way in which to reopen an approach to
either the Oxford tutor or the Crimean nurse. They were plainly too much
for him, and he had to acknowledge his defeat. The experience was good
for him; he did not realize this at the time, nor did he enjoy the
sensation of not getting what he wanted. Nevertheless, a reverse or two
was due. Not that his success was having any undesirable effect upon
him; his Dutch common sense saved him from any such calamity. But at
thirty years of age it is not good for any one, no matter how well
balanced, to have things come his way too fast and too consistently. And
here were breaks. He could not have everything he wanted, and it was
just as well that he should find that out.

In his next quest he found himself again opposed by his London friends.
Unable to secure a new Alice in Wonderland for his child readers, he
determined to give them Kate Greenaway. But here he had selected another
recluse. Everybody discouraged him. The artist never saw visitors, he
was told, and she particularly shunned editors and publishers. Her own
publishers confessed that Miss Greenaway was inaccessible to them. "We
conduct all our business with her by correspondence. I have never seen
her personally myself," said a member of the firm.

Bok inwardly decided that two failures in two days were sufficient, and
he made up his mind that there should not be a third. He took a bus for
the long ride to Hampstead Heath, where the illustrator lived, and
finally stood before a picturesque Queen Anne house that one would have
recognized at once, with its lower story of red brick, its upper part
covered with red tiles, its windows of every size and shape, as the
inspiration of Kate Greenaway's pictures. As it turned out later, Miss
Greenaway's sister opened the door and told the visitor that Miss
Greenaway was not at home.

"But, pardon me, has not Miss Greenaway returned? Is not that she?"
asked Bok, as he indicated a figure just coming down the stairs. And as
the sister turned to see, Bok stepped into the hall. At least he was
inside! Bok had never seen a photograph of Miss Greenaway, he did not
know that the figure coming down-stairs was the artist; but his instinct
had led him right, and good fortune was with him.

He now introduced himself to Kate Greenaway, and explained that one of
his objects in coming to London was to see her on behalf of thousands of
American children. Naturally there was nothing for the illustrator to do
but to welcome her visitor. She took him into the garden, where he saw
at once that he was seated under the apple-tree of Miss Greenaway's
pictures. It was in full bloom, a veritable picture of spring
loveliness. Bok's love for nature pleased the artist and when he
recognized the cat that sauntered up, he could see that he was making
headway. But when he explained his profession and stated his errand, the
atmosphere instantly changed. Miss Greenaway conveyed the unmistakable
impression that she had been trapped, and Bok realized at once that he
had a long and difficult road ahead.

Still, negotiate it he must and he did! And after luncheon in the
garden, with the cat in his lap, Miss Greenaway perceptibly thawed out,
and when the editor left late that afternoon he had the promise of the
artist that she would do her first magazine work for him. That promise
was kept monthly, and for nearly two years her articles appeared, with
satisfaction to Miss Greenaway and with great success to the magazine.

The next opposition to Bok's plans arose from the soreness generated by
the absence of copyright laws between the United States and Great
Britain and Europe. The editor, who had been publishing a series of
musical compositions, solicited the aid of Sir Arthur Sullivan. But it
so happened that Sir Arthur's most famous composition, "The Lost Chord,"
had been taken without leave by American music publishers, and sold by
the hundreds of thousands with the composer left out on pay-day. Sir
Arthur held forth on this injustice, and said further that no accurate
copy of "The Lost Chord" had, so far as he knew, ever been printed in
the United States. Bok saw his chance, and also an opportunity for a
little Americanization.

"Very well, Sir Arthur," suggested Bok; "with your consent, I will
rectify both the inaccuracy and the injustice. Write out a correct
version of 'The Lost Chord'; I will give it to nearly a million readers,
and so render obsolete the incorrect copies; and I shall be only too
happy to pay you the first honorarium for an American publication of the
song. You can add to the copy the statement that this is the first
American honorarium you have ever received, and so shame the American
publishers for their dishonesty."

This argument appealed strongly to the composer, who made a correct
transcript of his famous song, and published it with the following note:

"This is the first and only copy of "The Lost Chord" which has ever been
sent by me to an American publisher. I believe all the reprints in
America are more or less incorrect. I have pleasure in sending this copy
to my friend, Mr. Edward W. Bok, for publication in The Ladies' Home
Journal for which he gives me an honorarium, the only one I have ever
received from an American publisher for this song.

"Arthur Sullivan."

At least, thought Bok, he had healed one man's soreness toward America.
But the next day he encountered another. On his way to Paris, he stopped
at Amiens to see Jules Verne. Here he found special difficulty in that
the aged author could not speak English, and Bok knew only a few words
of casual French. Finally a neighbor's servant who knew a handful of
English words was commandeered, and a halting three-cornered
conversation was begun.

Bok found two grievances here: the author was incensed at the American
public because it had insisted on classing his books as juveniles, and
accepting them as stories of adventure, whereas he desired them to be
recognized as prophetic stories based on scientific facts--an insistence
which, as all the world knows, has since been justified. Bok explained,
however, that the popular acceptance of the author's books as stories of
adventure was by no means confined to America; that even in his own
country the same was true. But Jules Verne came back with the rejoinder
that if the French were a pack of fools, that was no reason why the
Americans should also be.

The argument weighed somewhat with the author, however, for he then
changed the conversation, and pointed out how he had been robbed by
American publishers who had stolen his books. So Bok was once more face
to face with the old non-copyright conditions; and although he explained
the existence then of a new protective law, the old man was not
mollified. He did not take kindly to Bok's suggestion for new work, and
closed the talk, extremely difficult to all three, by declaring that his
writing days were over.

But Bok was by no means through with non-copyright echoes, for he was
destined next day to take part in an even stormier interview on the same
subject with Alexander Dumas _fils_. Bok had been publishing a series of
articles in which authors had told how they had been led to write their
most famous books, and he wanted Dumas to tell "How I Came to Write
'Camille.'"

To act as translator this time, Bok took a trusted friend with him,
whose services he found were needed, as Dumas was absolutely without
knowledge of English. No sooner was the editor's request made known to
him than the storm broke. Dumas, hotly excited, denounced the Americans
as robbers who had deprived him of his rightful returns on his book and
play, and ended by declaring that he would trust no American editor or
publisher.

The mutual friend explained the new copyright conditions and declared
that Bok intended to treat the author honorably. But Dumas was not to be
mollified. He launched forth upon a new arraignment of the Americans;
dishonesty was bred in their bones! and they were robbers by instinct.
All of this distinctly nettled Bok's Americanism. The interpreting
friend finally suggested that the article should be written while Bok
was in Paris; that he should be notified when the manuscript was ready,
that he should then appear with the actual money in hand in French
notes; and that Dumas should give Bok the manuscript when Bok handed
Dumas the money.

"After I count it," said Dumas.

This was the last straw!

"Pray ask him," Bok suggested to the interpreter, "what assurance I have
that he will deliver the manuscript to me after he has the money." The
friend protested against translating this thrust, but Bok insisted, and
Dumas, not knowing what was coming, insisted that the message be given
him. When it was, the man was a study; he became livid with rage.

"But," persisted Bok, "say to Monsieur Dumas that I have the same
privilege of distrusting him as he apparently has of distrusting me."

And Bok can still see the violent gesticulations of the storming French
author, his face burning with passionate anger, as the two left him.

Edward Bok now sincerely hoped that his encounters with the absence of a
law that has been met were at an end!

Rosa Bonheur, the painter of "The Horse Fair," had been represented to
Bok as another recluse who was as inaccessible as Kate Greenaway. He had
known of the painter's intimate relations with the ex-Empress Eugenie,
and desired to get these reminiscences. Everybody dissuaded him; but
again taking a French friend he made the journey to Fontainebleau, where
the artist lived in a chateau in the little village of By.

A group of dogs, great, magnificent tawny creatures, welcomed the two
visitors to the chateau; and the most powerful door that Bok had ever
seen, as securely bolted as that of a cell, told of the inaccessibility
of the mistress of the house. Two blue-frocked peasants explained how
impossible it was for any one to see their mistress, so Bok asked
permission to come in and write her a note.

This was granted; and then, as in the case of Kate Greenaway, Rosa
Bonheur herself walked into the hall, in a velvet jacket, dressed, as
she always was, in man's attire. A delightful smile lighted the strong
face, surmounted by a shock of gray hair, cut short at the back; and
from the moment of her first welcome there was no doubt of her
cordiality to the few who were fortunate enough to work their way into
her presence. It was a wonderful afternoon, spent in the painter's
studio in the upper part of the chateau; and Bok carried away with him
the promise of Rosa Bonheur to write the story of her life for
publication in the magazine.

On his return to London the editor found that Charles Dana Gibson had
settled down there for a time. Bok had always wanted Gibson to depict
the characters of Dickens; and he felt that this was the opportunity,
while the artist was in London and could get the atmosphere for his
work. Gibson was as keen for the idea as was Bok, and so the two
arranged the series which was subsequently published.

On his way to his steamer to sail for home, Bok visited "Ian Maclaren,"
whose Bonnie Brier Bush stories were then in great vogue, and not only
contracted for Doctor Watson's stories of the immediate future, but
arranged with him for a series of articles which, for two years
thereafter, was published in the magazine.

The editor now sailed for home, content with his assembly of foreign
"features."

On the steamer, Bok heard of the recent discovery of some unpublished
letters by Louisa May Alcott, written to five girls, and before
returning to Philadelphia, he went to Boston, got into touch with the
executors of the will of Miss Alcott, brought the letters back with him
to read, and upon reaching Philadelphia, wired his acceptance of them
for publication.

But the traveller was not at once to enjoy his home. After only a day in
Philadelphia he took a train for Indianapolis. Here lived the most
thoroughly American writer of the day, in Bok's estimation: James
Whitcomb Riley. An arrangement, perfected before his European visit, had
secured to Bok practically exclusive rights to all the output of his
Chicago friend Eugene Field, and he felt that Riley's work would
admirably complement that of Field. This Bok explained to Riley, who
readily fell in with the idea, and the editor returned to Philadelphia
with a contract to see Riley's next dozen poems. A little later Field
passed away. His last poem, "The Dream Ship," and his posthumous story
"The Werewolf" appeared in The Ladies' Home Journal.

A second series of articles was also arranged for with Mr. Harrison, in
which he was to depict, in a personal way, the life of a President of
the United States, the domestic life of the White House, and the
financial arrangements made by the government for the care of the chief
executive and his family. The first series of articles by the former
President had been very successful; Bok felt that they had accomplished
much in making his women readers familiar with their country and the
machinery of its government. After this, which had been undeniably solid
reading, Bok reasoned that the supplementary articles, in lighter vein,
would serve as a sort of dessert. And so it proved.

Bok now devoted his attention to strengthening the fiction in his
magazine. He sought Mark Twain, and bought his two new stories; he
secured from Bret Harte a tale which he had just finished; and then ran
the gamut of the best fiction writers of the day, and secured their best
output. Marion Crawford, Conan Doyle, Sarah Orne Jewett, John Kendrick
Bangs, Kate Douglas Wiggin, Hamlin Garland, Mrs. Burton Harrison,
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Mary E. Wilkins, Jerome K. Jerome, Anthony
Hope, Joel Chandler Harris, and others followed in rapid succession.

He next turned for a moment to his religious department, decided that it
needed a freshening of interest, and secured Dwight L. Moody, whose
evangelical work was then so prominently in the public eye, to conduct
"Mr. Moody's Bible Class" in the magazine--practically a study of the
stated Bible lesson of the month with explanation in Moody's simple and
effective style.

The authors for whom the Journal was now publishing attracted the
attention of all the writers of the day, and the supply of good material
became too great for its capacity. Bok studied the mechanical make-up,
and felt that by some method he must find more room in the front
portion. He had allotted the first third of the magazine to the general
literary contents and the latter two-thirds to departmental features.
Toward the close of the number, the departments narrowed down from full
pages to single columns with advertisements on each side.

One day Bok was handling a story by Rudyard Kipling which had overrun
the space allowed for it in the front. The story had come late, and the
rest of the front portion of the magazine had gone to press. The editor
was in a quandary what to do with the two remaining columns of the
Kipling tale. There were only two pages open, and these were at the
back. He remade those pages, and continued the story from pages 6 and 7
to pages 38 and 39.

At once Bok saw that this was an instance where "necessity was the
mother of invention." He realized that if he could run some of his front
material over to the back he would relieve the pressure at the front,
present a more varied contents there, and make his advertisements more
valuable by putting them next to the most expensive material in the
magazine.

In the next issue he combined some of his smaller departments in the
back; and thus, in 1896, he inaugurated the method of "running over into
the back" which has now become a recognized principle in the make-up of
magazines of larger size. At first, Bok's readers objected, but he
explained why he did it; that they were the benefiters by the plan; and,
so far as readers can be satisfied with what is, at best, an awkward
method of presentation, they were content. To-day the practice is
undoubtedly followed to excess, some magazines carrying as much as
eighty and ninety columns over from the front to the back; from such
abuse it will, of course, free itself either by a return to the original
method of make-up or by the adoption of some other less-irritating plan.

In his reading about the America of the past, Bok had been impressed by
the unusual amount of interesting personal material that constituted
what is termed unwritten history--original events of tremendous personal
appeal in which great personalities figured but which had not sufficient
historical importance to have been included in American history. Bok
determined to please his older readers by harking back to the past and
at the same time acquainting the younger generation with the picturesque
events which had preceded their time.

He also believed that if he could "dress up" the past, he could arrest
the attention of a generation which was too likely to boast of its
interest only in the present and the future. He took a course of reading
and consulted with Mr. Charles A. Dana, editor of the New York Sun, who
had become interested in his work and had written him several voluntary
letters of commendation. Mr. Dana gave material help in the selection of
subjects and writers; and was intensely amused and interested by the
manner in which his youthful confrere "dressed up" the titles of what
might otherwise have looked like commonplace articles.

"I know," said Bok to the elder editor, "it smacks a little of the
sensational, Mr. Dana, but the purpose I have in mind of showing the
young people of to-day that some great things happened before they came
on the stage seems to me to make it worth while."

Mr. Dana agreed with this view, supplemented every effort of the
Philadelphia editor in several subsequent talks, and in 1897 The Ladies'
Home Journal began one of the most popular series it ever published. It
was called "Great Personal Events," and the picturesque titles explained
them. He first pictured the enthusiastic evening "When Jenny Lind Sang
in Castle Garden," and, as Bok added to pique curiosity, "when people
paid $20 to sit in rowboats to hear the Swedish nightingale."

This was followed by an account of the astonishing episode "When Henry
Ward Beecher Sold Slaves in Plymouth Pulpit"; the picturesque journey
"When Louis Kossuth Rode Up Broadway"; the triumphant tour "When General
Grant Went Round the World"; the forgotten story of "When an Actress Was
the Lady of the White House"; the sensational striking of the gold vein
in 1849, "When Mackay Struck the Great Bonanza"; the hitherto
little-known instance "When Louis Philippe Taught School in
Philadelphia"; and even the lesser-known fact of the residence of the
brother of Napoleon Bonaparte in America, "When the King of Spain Lived
on the Banks of the Schuylkill"; while the story of "When John Wesley
Preached in Georgia" surprised nearly every Methodist, as so few had
known that the founder of their church had ever visited America. Each
month picturesque event followed graphic happening, and never was
unwritten history more readily read by the young, or the memories of the
older folk more catered to than in this series which won new friends for
the magazine on every hand.



XXI. A Signal Piece of Constructive Work


The influence of his grandfather and the injunction of his grandmother
to her sons that each "should make the world a better or a more
beautiful place to live in" now began to be manifest in the grandson.
Edward Bok was unconscious that it was this influence. What directly led
him to the signal piece of construction in which he engaged was the
wretched architecture of small houses. As he travelled through the
United States he was appalled by it. Where the houses were not
positively ugly, they were, to him, repellently ornate. Money was wasted
on useless turrets, filigree work, or machine-made ornamentation. Bok
found out that these small householders never employed an architect, but
that the houses were put up by builders from their own plans.

Bok felt a keen desire to take hold of the small American house and make
it architecturally better. He foresaw, however, that the subject would
finally include small gardening and interior decoration. He feared that
the subject would become too large for the magazine, which was already
feeling the pressure of the material which he was securing. He
suggested, therefore, to Mr. Curtis that they purchase a little magazine
published in Buffalo, N. Y., called Country Life, and develop it into a
first-class periodical devoted to the general subject of a better
American architecture, gardening, and interior decoration, with special
application to the small house. The magazine was purchased, and while
Bok was collecting his material for a number of issues ahead, he edited
and issued, for copyright purposes, a four-page magazine.

An opportunity now came to Mr. Curtis to purchase The Saturday Evening
Post, a Philadelphia weekly of honored prestige, founded by Benjamin
Franklin. It was apparent at once that the company could not embark upon
the development of two magazines at the same time, and as a larger field
was seen for The Saturday Evening Post, it was decided to leave Country
Life in abeyance for the present.

Mr. Frank Doubleday, having left the Scribners and started a
publishing-house of his own, asked Bok to transfer to him the copyright
and good will of Country Life--seeing that there was little chance for
The Curtis Publishing Company to undertake its publication. Mr. Curtis
was willing, but he knew that Bok had set his heart on the new magazine
and left it for him to decide. The editor realized, as the Doubleday
Company could take up the magazine at once, the unfairness of holding
indefinitely the field against them by the publication of a mere
copyright periodical. And so, with a feeling as if he were giving up his
child to another father, Bok arranged that The Curtis Publishing Company
should transfer to the Doubleday, Page Company all rights to the title
and periodical of which the present beautiful publication Country Life
is the outgrowth.

Bok now turned to The Ladies' Home Journal as his medium for making the
small-house architecture of America better. He realized the limitation
of space, but decided to do the best he could under the circumstances.
He believed he might serve thousands of his readers if he could make it
possible for them to secure, at moderate cost, plans for well-designed
houses by the leading domestic architects in the country. He consulted a
number of architects, only to find them unalterably opposed to the idea.
They disliked the publicity of magazine presentation; prices differed
too much in various parts of the country; and they did not care to risk
the criticism of their contemporaries. It was "cheapening" their
profession!

Bok saw that he should have to blaze the way and demonstrate the
futility of these arguments. At last he persuaded one architect to
co-operate with him, and in 1895 began the publication of a series of
houses which could be built, approximately, for from one thousand five
hundred dollars to five thousand dollars. The idea attracted attention
at once, and the architect-author was swamped with letters and inquiries
regarding his plans.

This proved Bok's instinct to be correct as to the public willingness to
accept such designs; upon this proof he succeeded in winning over two
additional architects to make plans. He offered his readers full
building specifications and plans to scale of the houses with estimates
from four builders in different parts of the United States for five
dollars a set. The plans and specifications were so complete in every
detail that any builder could build the house from them.

A storm of criticism now arose from architects and builders all over the
country, the architects claiming that Bok was taking "the bread out of
their mouths" by the sale of plans, and local builders vigorously
questioned the accuracy of the estimates. But Bok knew he was right and
persevered.

Slowly but surely he won the approval of the leading architects, who saw
that he was appealing to a class of house-builders who could not afford
to pay an architect's fee, and that, with his wide circulation, he might
become an influence for better architecture through these small houses.
The sets of plans and specifications sold by the thousands. It was not
long before the magazine was able to present small-house plans by the
foremost architects of the country, whose services the average
householder could otherwise never have dreamed of securing.

Bok not only saw an opportunity to better the exterior of the small
houses, but he determined that each plan published should provide for
two essentials: every servant's room should have two windows to insure
cross-ventilation, and contain twice the number of cubic feet usually
given to such rooms; and in place of the American parlor, which he
considered a useless room, should be substituted either a living-room or
a library. He did not point to these improvements; every plan simply
presented the larger servant's room and did not present a parlor. It is
a singular fact that of the tens of thousands of plans sold, not a
purchaser ever noticed the absence of a parlor except one woman in
Brookline, Mass., who, in erecting a group of twenty-five "Journal
houses," discovered after she had built ten that not one contained a
parlor!

"Ladies' Home Journal houses" were now going up in communities all over
the country, and Bok determined to prove that they could be erected for
the prices given. Accordingly, he published a prize offer of generous
amount for the best set of exterior and interior photographs of a house
built after a Journal plan within the published price. Five other and
smaller prizes were also offered. A legally attested builder's
declaration was to accompany each set of photographs. The sets
immediately began to come in, until over five thousand had been
received. Bok selected the best of these, awarded the prizes, and began
the presentation of the houses actually built after the published plans.

Of course this publication gave fresh impetus to the whole scheme;
prospective house-builders pointed their builders to the proof given,
and additional thousands of sets of plans were sold. The little houses
became better and better in architecture as the series went on, and
occasionally a plan for a house costing as high as ten thousand dollars
was given.

For nearly twenty-five years Bok continued to publish pictures of houses
and plans. Entire colonies of "Ladies' Home Journal houses" have sprung
up, and building promoters have built complete suburban developments
with them. How many of these homes have been erected it is, of course,
impossible to say; the number certainly runs into the thousands.

It was one of the most constructive and far-reaching pieces of work that
Bok did during his editorial career--a fact now recognized by all
architects. Shortly before Stanford White passed away, he wrote: "I
firmly believe that Edward Bok has more completely influenced American
domestic architecture for the better than any man in this generation.
When he began, I was short-sighted enough to discourage him, and refused
to co-operate with him. If Bok came to me now, I would not only make
plans for him, but I would waive any fee for them in retribution for my
early mistake."

Bok then turned to the subject of the garden for the small house, and
the development of the grounds around the homes which he had been
instrumental in putting on the earth. He encountered no opposition here.
The publication of small gardens for small houses finally ran into
hundreds of pages, the magazine supplying planting plans and full
directions as to when and how to plant-this time without cost.

Next the editor decided to see what he could do for the better and
simpler furnishing of the small American home. Here was a field almost
limitless in possible improvement, but he wanted to approach it in a new
way. The best method baffled him until one day he met a woman friend who
told him that she was on her way to a funeral at a friend's home.

"I didn't know you were so well acquainted with Mrs. S--," said Bok.

"I wasn't, as a matter of fact," replied the woman. "I'll be perfectly
frank; I am going to the funeral just to see how Mrs. S--'s house is
furnished. She was always thought to have great taste, you know, and,
whether you know it or not, a woman is always keen to look into another
woman's home."

Bok realized that he had found the method of presentation for his
interior-furnishing plan if he could secure photographs of the most
carefully furnished homes in America. He immediately employed the best
available expert, and within six months there came to him an assorted
collection of over a thousand photographs of well-furnished rooms. The
best were selected, and a series of photographic pages called "Inside of
100 Homes" was begun. The editor's woman friend had correctly pointed
the way to him, for this series won for his magazine the enviable
distinction of being the first magazine of standing to reach the then
marvellous record of a circulation of one million copies a month. The
editions containing the series were sold out as fast as they could be
printed.

The editor followed this up with another successful series, again
pictorial. He realized that to explain good taste in furnishing by text
was almost impossible. So he started a series of all-picture pages
called "Good Taste and Bad Taste." He presented a chair that was bad in
lines and either useless or uncomfortable to sit in, and explained where
and why it was bad; and then put a good chair next to it, and explained
where and why it was good.

The lesson to the eye was simply and directly effective; the pictures
told their story as no printed word could have done, and furniture
manufacturers and dealers all over the country, feeling the pressure
from their customers, began to put on the market the tables, chairs,
divans, bedsteads, and dressing-tables which the magazine was portraying
as examples of good taste. It was amazing that, within five years, the
physical appearance of domestic furniture in the stores completely
changed.

The next undertaking was a systematic plan for improving the pictures on
the walls of the American home. Bok was employing the best artists of
the day: Edwin A. Abbey, Howard Pyle, Charles Dana Gibson, W. L. Taylor,
Albert Lynch, Will H. Low, W. T. Smedley, Irving R. Wiles, and others.
As his magazine was rolled to go through the mails, the pictures
naturally suffered; Bok therefore decided to print a special edition of
each important picture that he published, an edition on plate-paper,
without text, and offered to his readers at ten cents a copy. Within a
year he had sold nearly one hundred thousand copies, such pictures as W.
L. Taylor's "The Hanging of the Crane" and "Home-Keeping Hearts" being
particularly popular.

Pictures were difficult to advertise successfully; it was before the
full-color press had become practicable for rapid magazine work; and
even the large-page black-and-white reproductions which Bok could give
in his magazine did not, of course, show the beauty of the original
paintings, the majority of which were in full color. He accordingly made
arrangements with art publishers to print his pictures in their original
colors; then he determined to give the public an opportunity to see what
the pictures themselves looked like.

He asked his art editor to select the two hundred and fifty best
pictures and frame them. Then he engaged the art gallery of the
Philadelphia Art Club, and advertised an exhibition of the original
paintings. No admission was charged. The gallery was put into gala
attire, and the pictures were well hung. The exhibition, which was
continued for two weeks, was visited by over fifteen thousand persons.

His success here induced Bok to take the collection to New York. The
galleries of the American Art Association were offered him, but he
decided to rent the ballroom of the Hotel Waldorf. The hotel was then
new; it was the talk not only of the town but of the country, while the
ballroom had been pictured far and wide. It would have a publicity
value. He could secure the room for only four days, but he determined to
make the most of the short time. The exhibition was well advertised; a
"private view" was given the evening before the opening day, and when,
at nine o'clock the following morning, the doors of the exhibition were
thrown open, over a thousand persons were waiting in line.

The hotel authorities had to resort to a special cordon of police to
handle the crowds, and within four days over seventeen thousand persons
had seen the pictures. On the last evening it was after midnight before
the doors could be closed to the waiting-line. Boston was next visited,
and there, at the Art Club Gallery, the previous successes were
repeated. Within two weeks over twenty-eight thousand persons visited
the exhibition.

Other cities now clamored for a sight of the pictures, and it was
finally decided to end the exhibitions by a visit to Chicago. The
success here exceeded that in any of the other cities. The banquet-hall
of the Auditorium Hotel had been engaged; over two thousand persons were
continually in a waiting-line outside, and within a week nearly thirty
thousand persons pushed and jostled themselves into the gallery. Over
eight thousand persons in all had viewed the pictures in the four
cities.

The exhibition was immediately followed by the publication of a
portfolio of the ten pictures that had proved the greatest favorites.
These were printed on plate-paper and the portfolio was offered by Bok
to his readers for one dollar. The first thousand sets were exhausted
within a fortnight. A second thousand were printed, and these were
quickly sold out.

Bok's next enterprise was to get his pictures into the homes of the
country on a larger scale; he determined to work through the churches.
He selected the fifty best pictures, made them into a set and offered
first a hundred sets to selected schools, which were at once taken. Then
he offered two hundred and fifty sets to churches to sell at their
fairs. The managers were to promise to erect a Ladies' Home Journal
booth (which Bok knew, of course, would be most effective advertising),
and the pictures were to sell at twenty-five and fifty cents each, with
some at a dollar each. The set was offered to the churches for five
dollars: the actual cost of reproduction and expressage. On the day
after the publication of the magazine containing the offer, enough
telegraphic orders were received to absorb the entire edition. A second
edition was immediately printed; and finally ten editions, four thousand
sets in all, were absorbed before the demand was filled. By this method,
two hundred thousand pictures had been introduced into American homes,
and over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in money had been raised
by the churches as their portion.

But all this was simply to lead up to the realization of Bok's cherished
dream: the reproduction, in enormous numbers, of the greatest pictures
in the world in their original colors. The plan, however, was not for
the moment feasible: the cost of the four-color process was at that time
prohibitive, and Bok had to abandon it. But he never lost sight of it.
He knew the hour would come when he could carry it out, and he bided his
time.

It was not until years later that his opportunity came, when he
immediately made up his mind to seize it. The magazine had installed a
battery of four-color presses; the color-work in the periodical was
attracting universal attention, and after all stages of experimentation
had been passed, Bok decided to make his dream a reality. He sought the
co-operation of the owners of the greatest private art galleries in the
country: J. Pierpont Morgan, Henry C. Frick, Joseph E. Widener, George
W. Elkins, John G. Johnson, Charles P. Taft, Mrs. John L. Gardner,
Charles L. Freer, Mrs. Havemeyer, and the owners of the Benjamin Altman
Collection, and sought permission to reproduce their greatest paintings.

Although each felt doubtful of the ability of any process adequately to
reproduce their masterpieces, the owners heartily co-operated with Bok.
But Bok's co-editors discouraged his plan, since it would involve
endless labor, the exclusive services of a corps of photographers and
engravers, and the employment of the most careful pressmen available in
the United States. The editor realized that the obstacles were numerous
and that the expense would be enormous; but he felt sure that the
American public was ready for his idea. And early in 1912 he announced
his series and began its publication.

The most wonderful Rembrandt, Velasquez, Turner, Hobbema, Van Dyck,
Raphael, Frans Hals, Romney, Gainsborough, Whistler, Corot, Mauve,
Vermeer, Fragonard, Botticelli, and Titian reproductions followed in
such rapid succession as fairly to daze the magazine readers. Four
pictures were given in each number, and the faithfulness of the
reproductions astonished even their owners. The success of the series
was beyond Bok's own best hopes. He was printing and selling one and
three-quarter million copies of each issue of his magazine; and before
he was through he had presented to American homes throughout the breadth
of the country over seventy million reproductions of forty separate
master-pieces of art.

The dream of years had come true.

Bok had begun with the exterior of the small American house and made an
impression upon it; he had brought the love of flowers into the hearts
of thousands of small householders who had never thought they could have
an artistic garden within a small area; he had changed the lines of
furniture, and he had put better art on the walls of these homes. He had
conceived a full-rounded scheme, and he had carried it out.

It was a peculiar satisfaction to Bok that Theodore Roosevelt once
summed up this piece of work in these words: "Bok is the only man I ever
heard of who changed, for the better, the architecture of an entire
nation, and he did it so quickly and yet so effectively that we didn't
know it was begun before it was finished. That is a mighty big job for
one man to have done."



XXII. An Adventure in Civic and Private Art


Edward Bok now turned his attention to those influences of a more public
nature which he felt could contribute to elevate the standard of public
taste.

He was surprised, on talking with furnishers of homes, to learn to what
extent women whose husbands had recently acquired means would refer to
certain styles of decoration and hangings which they had seen in the
Pullman parlor-cars. He had never seriously regarded the influence of
the furnishing of these cars upon the travelling public; now he realized
that, in a decorative sense, they were a distinct factor and a very
unfortunate one.

For in those days, twenty years ago, the decoration of the Pullman
parlor-car was atrocious. Colors were in riotous discord; every foot of
wood-panelling was carved and ornamented, nothing being left of the
grain of even the most beautiful woods; gilt was recklessly laid on
everywhere regardless of its fitness or relation. The hangings in the
cars were not only in bad taste, but distinctly unsanitary; the heaviest
velvets and showiest plushes were used; mirrors with bronzed and
redplushed frames were the order of the day; cord portières,
lambrequins, and tasselled fringes were still in vogue in these cars. It
was a veritable riot of the worst conceivable ideas; and it was this
standard that these women of the new-money class were accepting and
introducing into their homes!

Bok wrote an editorial calling attention to these facts. The Pullman
Company paid no attention to it, but the railroad journals did. With one
accord they seized the cudgel which Bok had raised, and a series of
hammerings began. The Pullman conductors began to report to their
division chiefs that the passengers were criticising the cars, and the
company at last woke up. It issued a cynical rejoinder; whereupon Bok
wrote another editorial, and the railroad journals once more joined in
the chorus.

The president of a large Western railroad wrote to Bok that he agreed
absolutely with his position, and asked whether he had any definite
suggestions to offer for the improvement of some new cars which they
were about to order. Bok engaged two of the best architects and
decorators in the country, and submitted the results to the officials of
the railroad company, who approved of them heartily. The Pullman Company
did not take very kindly, however, to suggestions thus brought to them.
But a current had been started; the attention of the travelling public
had been drawn for the first time to the wretched decoration of the
cars; and public sentiment was beginning to be vocal.

The first change came when a new dining-car on the Chicago, Burlington
and Quincy Railroad suddenly appeared. It was an artistically treated
Flemish-oak-panelled car with longitudinal beams and cross-beams, giving
the impression of a ceiling-beamed room. Between the "beams" was a quiet
tone of deep yellow. The sides of the car were wainscoting of plain
surface done in a Flemish stain rubbed down to a dull finish. The grain
of the wood was allowed to serve as decoration; there was no carving.
The whole tone of the car was that of the rich color of the sunflower.
The effect upon the travelling public was instantaneous. Every passenger
commented favorably on the car.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad now followed suit by
introducing a new Pullman chair-car. The hideous and germ-laden plush or
velvet curtains were gone, and leather hangings of a rich tone took
their place. All the grill-work of a bygone age was missing; likewise
the rope curtains. The woods were left to show the grain; no carving was
visible anywhere. The car was a relief to the eye, beautiful and simple,
and easy to keep clean. Again the public observed, and expressed its
pleasure.

The Pullman people now saw the drift, and wisely reorganized their
decorative department. Only those who remember the Pullman parlor-car of
twenty years ago can realize how long a step it is from the atrociously
decorated, unsanitary vehicle of that day to the simple car of to-day.

It was only a step from the Pullman car to the landscape outside, and
Bok next decided to see what he could do toward eliminating the hideous
bill-board advertisements which defaced the landscape along the lines of
the principal roads. He found a willing ally in this idea in Mr. J.
Horace McFarland, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, one of the most skilful
photographers in the country, and the president of The American Civic
Association. McFarland and Bok worked together; they took innumerable
photographs, and began to publish them, calling public attention to the
intrusion upon the public eye.

Page after page appeared in the magazine, and after a few months these
roused public discussion as to legal control of this class of
advertising. Bok meanwhile called the attention of women's clubs and
other civic organizations to the question, and urged that they clean
their towns of the obnoxious bill-boards. Legislative measures
regulating the size, character, and location of bill-boards were
introduced in various States, a tax on each bill-board was suggested in
other States, and the agitation began to bear fruit.

Bok now called upon his readers in general to help by offering a series
of prizes totalling several thousands of dollars for two photographs,
one showing a fence, barn, or outbuilding painted with an advertisement
or having a bill-board attached to it, or a field with a bill-board in
it, and a second photograph of the same spot showing the advertisement
removed, with an accompanying affidavit of the owner of the property,
legally attested, asserting that the advertisement had been permanently
removed. Hundreds of photographs poured in, scores of prizes were
awarded, the results were published, and requests came in for a second
series of prizes, which were duly awarded.

While Bok did not solve the problem of bill-board advertising, and while
in some parts of the country it is a more flagrant nuisance to-day than
ever before, he had started the first serious agitation against
bill-board advertising of bad design, detrimental, from its location, to
landscape beauty. He succeeded in getting rid of a huge bill-board which
had been placed at the most picturesque spot at Niagara Falls; and
hearing of "the largest advertisement sign in the world" to be placed on
the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, he notified the advertisers
that a photograph of the sign, if it was erected, would be immediately
published in the magazine and the attention of the women of America
called to the defacement of one of the most impressive and beautiful
scenes in the world. The article to be advertised was a household
commodity, purchased by women; and the owners realized that the proposed
advertisement would not be to the benefit of their product. The sign was
abandoned.

Of course the advertisers whose signs were shown in the magazine
immediately threatened the withdrawal of their accounts from The Ladies'
Home Journal, and the proposed advertiser at the Grand Canyon, whose
business was conspicuous in each number of the magazine, became actively
threatening. But Bok contended that the one proposition had absolutely
no relation to the other, and that if concerns advertised in the
magazine simply on the basis of his editorial policy toward bill-board
advertising, it was, to say the least, not a sound basis for
advertising. No advertising account was ever actually withdrawn.

In their travels about, Mr. McFarland and Bok began to note the
disreputably untidy spots which various municipalities allowed in the
closest proximity to the centre of their business life, in the most
desirable residential sections, and often adjacent to the most important
municipal buildings and parks. It was decided to select a dozen cities,
pick out the most flagrant instances of spots which were not only an
eyesore and a disgrace from a municipal standpoint, but a menace to
health and meant a depreciation of real-estate value.

Lynn, Massachusetts, was the initial city chosen, a number of
photographs were taken, and the first of a series of "Dirty Cities" was
begun in the magazine. The effect was instantaneous. The people of Lynn
rose in protest, and the municipal authorities threatened suit against
the magazine; the local newspapers were virulent in their attacks.
Without warning, they argued, Bok had held up their city to disgrace
before the entire country; the attack was unwarranted; in bad taste;
every citizen in Lynn should thereafter cease to buy the magazine, and
so the criticisms ran. In answer Bok merely pointed to the photographs;
to the fact that the camera could not lie, and that if he had
misrepresented conditions he was ready to make amends.

Of course the facts could not be gainsaid; local pride was aroused, and
as a result not only were the advertised "dirty spots" cleaned up, but
the municipal authorities went out and hunted around for other spots in
the city, not knowing what other photographs Bok might have had taken.

Trenton, New Jersey, was the next example, and the same storm of public
resentment broke loose--with exactly the same beneficial results in the
end to the city. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was the third one of
America's "dirty cities." Here public anger rose particularly high, the
magazine practically being barred from the news-stands. But again the
result was to the lasting benefit of the community.

Memphis, Tennessee, came next, but here a different spirit was met.
Although some resentment was expressed, the general feeling was that a
service had been rendered the city, and that the only wise and practical
solution was for the city to meet the situation. The result here was a
group of municipal buildings costing millions of dollars, photographs of
which The Ladies' Home Journal subsequently published with gratification
to itself and to the people of Memphis.

Cities throughout the country now began to look around to see whether
they had dirty spots within their limits, not knowing when the McFarland
photographers might visit them. Bok received letters from various
municipalities calling his attention to the fact that they were
cognizant of spots in their cities and were cleaning up, and asking
that, if he had photographs of these spots, they should not be
published.

It happened that in two such instances Bok had already prepared sets of
photographs for publication. These he sent to the mayors of the
respective cities, stating that if they would return them with an
additional set showing the spots cleaned up there would be no occasion
for their publication. In both cases this was done. Atlanta, Georgia;
New Haven, Connecticut; Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and finally Bok's own
city of Philadelphia were duly chronicled in the magazine; local storms
broke and calmed down-with the spots in every instance improved.

It was an interesting experiment in photographic civics. The pity of it
is that more has not been done along this and similar lines.

The time now came when Bok could demonstrate the willingness of his own
publishing company to do what it could to elevate the public taste in
art. With the increasing circulation of The Ladies' Home Journal and of
The Saturday Evening Post the business of the company had grown to such
dimensions that in 1908 plans for a new building were started. For
purposes of air and light the vicinity of Independence Square was
selected. Mr. Curtis purchased an entire city block facing the square,
and the present huge but beautiful publication building was conceived.

Bok strongly believed that good art should find a place in public
buildings where large numbers of persons might find easy access to it.
The proximity of the proposed new structure to historic Independence
Hall and the adjacent buildings would make it a focal point for visitors
from all parts of the country and the world. The opportunity presented
itself to put good art, within the comprehension of a large public, into
the new building, and Bok asked permission of Mr. Curtis to introduce a
strong note of mural decoration. The idea commended itself to Mr. Curtis
as adding an attraction to the building and a contribution to public
art.

The great public dining-room, seating over seven hundred persons, on the
top floor of the building, affording unusual lighting facilities, was
first selected; and Maxfield Parrish was engaged to paint a series of
seventeen panels to fill the large spaces between the windows and an
unusually large wall space at the end of the room. Parrish contracted to
give up all other work and devote himself to the commission which
attracted him greatly.

For over a year he made sketches, and finally the theme was decided
upon: a bevy of youths and maidens in gala costume, on their way through
gardens and along terraces to a great fete, with pierrots and dancers
and musicians on the main wall space. It was to be a picture of happy
youth and sunny gladness. Five years after the conception of the idea
the final panel was finished and installed in the dining-room, where the
series has since been admired by the thirty to fifty thousand visitors
who come to the Curtis Building each year from foreign lands and from
every State in America. No other scheme of mural decoration was ever
planned on so large a scale for a commercial building, or so
successfully carried out.

The great wall space of over one thousand square feet, unobstructed by a
single column, in the main foyer of the building was decided upon as the
place for the pivotal note to be struck by some mural artist. After
looking carefully over the field, Bok finally decided upon Edwin A.
Abbey. He took a steamer and visited Abbey in his English home. The
artist was working on his canvases for the State capitol at Harrisburg,
and it was agreed that the commission for the Curtis Building was to
follow the completion of the State work.

"What subject have you in mind?" asked Abbey.

"None," replied Bok. "That is left entirely to you."

The artist and his wife looked at each other in bewilderment.

"Rather unusual," commented Abbey. "You have nothing in mind at all?"

"Nothing, except to get the best piece of work you have ever done," was
the assurance.

Poor Abbey! His life had been made so tortuous by suggestions, ideas,
yes, demands made upon him in the work of the Harrisburg panels upon
which he was engaged, that a commission in which he was to have free
scope, his brush full leeway, with no one making suggestions but himself
and Mrs. Abbey, seemed like a dream. When he explained this, Bok assured
him that was exactly what he was offering him: a piece of work, the
subject to be his own selection, with the assurance of absolute liberty
to carry out his own ideas. Never was an artist more elated.

"Then, I'll give you the best piece of work of my life," said Abbey.

"Perhaps there is some subject which you have long wished to paint
rather than any other," asked Bok, "that might fit our purpose
admirably?"

There was: a theme that he had started as a fresco for Mrs. Abbey's
bedroom. But it would not answer this purpose at all, although he
confessed he would rather paint it than any subject in the realm of all
literature and art.

"And the subject?" asked Bok.

"The Grove of Academe," replied Abbey, and the eyes of the artist and
his wife were riveted on the editor.

"With Plato and his disciples?" asked Bok.

"The same," said Abbey. "But you see it wouldn't fit."

"Wouldn't fit?" echoed Bok. "Why, it's the very thing."

Abbey and his wife were now like two happy children. Mrs. Abbey fetched
the sketches which her husband had begun years ago, and when Bok saw
them he was delighted. He realized at once that conditions and choice
would conspire to produce Abbey's greatest piece of mural work.

The arrangements were quickly settled; the Curtis architect had
accompanied Bok to explain the architectural possibilities to Abbey, and
when the artist bade good-by to the two at the railroad station, his
last words were:

"Bok, you are going to get the best Abbey in the world."

And Mrs. Abbey echoed the prophecy!

But Fate intervened. On the day after Abbey had stretched his great
canvas in Sargent's studio in London, expecting to begin his work the
following week, he suddenly passed away, and what would, in all
likelihood, have been Edwin Abbey's mural masterpiece was lost to the
world.

Assured of Mrs. Abbey's willingness to have another artist take the
theme of the Grove of Academe and carry it out as a mural decoration,
Bok turned to Howard Pyle. He knew Pyle had made a study of Plato, and
believed that, with his knowledge and love of the work of the Athenian
philosopher, a good decoration would result. Pyle was then in Italy; Bok
telephoned the painter's home in Wilmington, Delaware, to get his
address, only to be told that an hour earlier word had been received by
the family that Pyle had been fatally stricken the day before.

Once more Bok went over the field of mural art and decided this time
that he would go far afield, and present his idea to Boutet de Monvel,
the French decorative artist. Bok had been much impressed with some
decorative work by De Monvel which had just been exhibited in New York.
By letter he laid the proposition in detail before the artist, asked for
a subject, and stipulated that if the details could be arranged the
artist should visit the building and see the place and surroundings for
himself. After a lengthy correspondence, and sketches submitted and
corrected, a plan for what promised to be a most unusual and
artistically decorative panel was arrived at.

The date for M. de Monvel's visit to Philadelphia was fixed, a final
letter from the artist reached Bok on a Monday morning, in which a few
remaining details were satisfactorily cleared up, and a cable was sent
assuring De Monvel of the entire satisfaction of the company with his
final sketches and arrangements. The following morning Bok picked up his
newspaper to read that Boutet de Monvel had suddenly passed away in
Paris the previous evening!

Bok, thoroughly bewildered, began to feel as if some fatal star hung
over his cherished decoration. Three times in succession he had met the
same decree of fate.

He consulted six of the leading mural decorators in America, asking
whether they would consent, not in competition, to submit each a
finished full-color sketch of the subject which he believed fitted for
the place in mind; they could take the Grove of Academe or not, as they
chose; the subject was to be of their own selection. Each artist was to
receive a generous fee for his sketch, whether accepted or rejected. In
due time, the six sketches were received; impartial judges were
selected, no names were attached to the sketches, several conferences
were held, and all the sketches were rejected!

Bok was still exactly where he started, while the building was nearly
complete, with no mural for the large place so insistently demanding it.

He now recalled a marvellous stage-curtain entirely of glass mosaic
executed by Louis C. Tiffany, of New York, for the Municipal Theatre at
Mexico City. The work had attracted universal attention at its
exhibition, art critics and connoisseurs had praised it unstintingly,
and Bok decided to experiment in that direction.

Just as the ancient Egyptians and Persians had used glazed brick and
tile, set in cement, as their form of wall decoration, so Mr. Tiffany
had used favrile glass, set in cement. The luminosity was marvellous;
the effect of light upon the glass was unbelievably beautiful, and the
colorings obtained were a joy to the senses.

Here was not only a new method in wall decoration, but one that was
entirely practicable. Glass would not craze like tiles or mosaic; it
would not crinkle as will canvas; it needed no varnish. It would retain
its color, freshness, and beauty, and water would readily cleanse it
from dust.

He sought Mr. Tiffany, who was enthusiastic over the idea of making an
example of his mosaic glass of such dimensions which should remain in
this country, and gladly offered to co-operate. But, try as he might,
Bok could not secure an adequate sketch for Mr. Tiffany to carry out.
Then he recalled that one day while at Maxfield Parrish's summer home in
New Hampshire the artist had told him of a dream garden which he would
like to construct, not on canvas but in reality. Bok suggested to
Parrish that he come to New York. He asked him if he could put his dream
garden on canvas. The artist thought he could; in fact, was greatly
attracted to the idea; but he knew nothing of mosaic work, and was not
particularly attracted by the idea of having his work rendered in that
medium.

Bok took Parrish to Mr. Tiffany's studio; the two artists talked
together, the glass-worker showed the canvas-painter his work, with the
result that the two became enthusiastic to co-operate in trying the
experiment. Parrish agreed to make a sketch for Mr. Tiffany's approval,
and within six months, after a number of conferences and an equal number
of sketches, they were ready to begin the work. Bok only hoped that this
time both artists would outlive their commissions!

It was a huge picture to be done in glass mosaic. The space to be filled
called for over a million pieces of glass, and for a year the services
of thirty of the most skilled artisans would be required. The work had
to be done from a series of bromide photographs enlarged to a size
hitherto unattempted. But at last the decoration was completed; the
finished art piece was placed on exhibition in New York and over seven
thousand persons came to see it. The leading art critics pronounced the
result to be the most amazing instance of the tone capacity of
glass-work ever achieved. It was a veritable wonder-piece, far exceeding
the utmost expression of paint and canvas.

For six months a group of skilled artisans worked to take the picture
apart in New York, transport it and set it into its place in
Philadelphia. But at last it was in place: the wonder-picture in glass
of which painters have declared that "mere words are only aggravating in
describing this amazing picture." Since that day over one hundred
thousand visitors to the building have sat in admiration before it.

The Grove of Academe was to become a Dream Garden, but it was only after
six years of incessant effort, with obstacles and interventions almost
insurmountable, that the dream became true.



XXIII. Theodore Roosevelt's Influence


When the virile figure of Theodore Roosevelt swung down the national
highway, Bok was one of thousands of young men who felt strongly the
attraction of his personality. Colonel Roosevelt was only five years the
senior of the editor; he spoke, therefore, as one of his own years. The
energy with which he said and did things appealed to Bok. He made
Americanism something more real, more stirring than Bok had ever felt
it; he explained national questions in a way that caught Bok's fancy and
came within his comprehension. Bok's lines had been cast with many of
the great men of the day, but he felt that there was something
distinctive about the personality of this man: his method of doing
things and his way of saying things. Bok observed everything Colonel
Roosevelt did and read everything he wrote.

The editor now sought an opportunity to know personally the man whom he
admired. It came at a dinner at the University Club, and Colonel
Roosevelt suggested that they meet there the following day for a
"talk-fest." For three hours the two talked together. The fact that
Colonel Roosevelt was of Dutch ancestry interested Bok; that Bok was
actually of Dutch birth made a strong appeal to the colonel. With his
tremendous breadth of interests, Roosevelt, Bok found, had followed him
quite closely in his work, and was familiar with "its high points," as
he called them. "We must work for the same ends," said the colonel, "you
in your way, I in mine. But our lines are bound to cross. You and I can
each become good Americans by giving our best to make America better.
With the Dutch stock there is in both of us, there's no limit to what we
can do. Let's go to it." Naturally that talk left the two firm friends.

Bok felt somehow that he had been given a new draft of Americanism: the
word took on a new meaning for him; it stood for something different,
something deeper and finer than before. And every subsequent talk with
Roosevelt deepened the feeling and stirred Bok's deepest ambitions. "Go
to it, you Dutchman," Roosevelt would say, and Bok would go to it. A
talk with Roosevelt always left him feeling as if mountains were the
easiest things in the world to move.

One of Theodore Roosevelt's arguments which made a deep impression upon
Bok was that no man had a right to devote his entire life to the making
of money. "You are in a peculiar position," said the man of Oyster Bay
one day to Bok; "you are in that happy position where you can make money
and do good at the same time. A man wields a tremendous power for good
or for evil who is welcomed into a million homes and read with
confidence. That's fine, and is all right so far as it goes, and in your
case it goes very far. Still, there remains more for you to do. The
public has built up for you a personality: now give that personality to
whatever interests you in contact with your immediate fellow-men:
something in your neighborhood, your city, or your State. With one hand
work and write to your national audience: let no fads sway you. Hew
close to the line. But, with the other hand, swing into the life
immediately around you. Think it over."

Bok did think it over. He was now realizing the dream of his life for
which he had worked: his means were sufficient to give his mother every
comfort; to install her in the most comfortable surroundings wherever
she chose to live; to make it possible for her to spend the winters in
the United States and the summers in the Netherlands, and thus to keep
in touch with her family and friends in both countries. He had for years
toiled unceasingly to reach this point: he felt he had now achieved at
least one goal.

He had now turned instinctively to the making of a home for himself.
After an engagement of four years he had been married, on October 22,
1896, to Mary Louise Curtis, the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus H. K.
Curtis; two sons had been born to them; he had built and was occupying a
house at Merion, Pennsylvania, a suburb six miles from the Philadelphia
City Hall. When she was in this country his mother lived with him, and
also his brother, and, with a strong belief in life insurance, he had
seen to it that his family was provided for in case of personal
incapacity or of his demise. In other words, he felt that he had put his
own house in order; he had carried out what he felt is every man's duty:
to be, first of all, a careful and adequate provider for his family. He
was now at the point where he could begin to work for another goal, the
goal that he felt so few American men saw: the point in his life where
he could retire from the call of duty and follow the call of
inclination.

At the age of forty he tried to look ahead and plan out his life as far
as he could. Barring unforeseen obstacles, he determined to retire from
active business when he reached his fiftieth year, and give the
remainder of his life over to those interests and influences which he
assumed now as part of his life, and which, at fifty, should seem to him
best worth while. He realized that in order to do this he must do two
things: he must husband his financial resources and he must begin to
accumulate a mental reserve.

The wide public acceptance of the periodical which he edited naturally
brought a share of financial success to him. He had experienced poverty,
and as he subsequently wrote, in an article called "Why I Believe in
Poverty," he was deeply grateful for his experience. He had known what
it was to be poor; he had seen others dear to him suffer for the bare
necessities; there was, in fact, not a single step on that hard road
that he had not travelled. He could, therefore, sympathize with the
fullest understanding with those similarly situated, could help as one
who knew from practice and not from theory. He realized what a
marvellous blessing poverty can be; but as a condition to experience, to
derive from it poignant lessons, and then to get out of; not as a
condition to stay in.

Of course many said to Bok when he wrote the article in which he
expressed these beliefs: "That's all very well; easy enough to say, but
how can you get out of it?" Bok realized that he could not definitely
show any one the way. No one had shown him. No two persons can find the
same way out. Bok determined to lift himself out of poverty because his
mother was not born in it, did not belong in it, and could not stand it.
That gave him the first essential: a purpose. Then he backed up the
purpose with effort and an ever-ready willingness to work, and to work
at anything that came his way, no matter what it was, so long as it
meant "the way out." He did not pick and choose; he took what came, and
did it in the best way he knew how; and when he did not like what he was
doing he still did it as well as he could while he was doing it, but
always with an eye single to the purpose not to do it any longer than
was strictly necessary. He used every rung in the ladder as a rung to
the one above. He always gave more than his particular position or
salary asked for. He never worked by the clock; always by the job; and
saw that it was well done regardless of the time it took to do it. This
meant effort, of course, untiring, ceaseless, unsparing; and it meant
work, hard as nails.

He was particularly careful never to live up to his income; and as his
income increased he increased not the percentage of expenditure but the
percentage of saving. Thrift was, of course, inborn with him as a
Dutchman, but the necessity for it as a prime factor in life was burned
into him by his experience with poverty. But he interpreted thrift not
as a trait of niggardliness, but as Theodore Roosevelt interpreted it:
common sense applied to spending.

At forty, therefore, he felt he had learned the first essential to
carrying out his idea of retirement at fifty.

The second essential--varied interests outside of his business upon
which he could rely on relinquishing his duties--he had not cultivated.
He had quite naturally, in line with his belief that concentration means
success, immersed himself in his business to the exclusion of almost
everything else. He felt that he could now spare a certain percentage of
his time to follow Theodore Roosevelt's ideas and let the breezes of
other worlds blow over him. In that way he could do as Roosevelt
suggested and as Bok now firmly believed was right: he could develop
himself along broader lines, albeit the lines of his daily work were
broadening in and of themselves, and he could so develop a new set of
inner resources upon which he could draw when the time came to
relinquish his editorial position.

He saw, on every side, the pathetic figures of men who could not let go
after their greatest usefulness was past; of other men who dropped
before they realized their arrival at the end of the road; and, most
pathetic of all, of men who having retired, but because of lack of inner
resources did not know what to do with themselves, had become a trial to
themselves, their families, and their communities.

Bok decided that, given health and mental freshness, he would say
good-by to his public before his public might decide to say good-by to
him. So, at forty, he candidly faced the facts of life and began to
prepare himself for his retirement at fifty under circumstances that
would be of his own making and not those of others.

And thereby Edward Bok proved that he was still, by instinct, a
Dutchman, and had not in his thirty-four years of residence in the
United States become so thoroughly Americanized as he believed.

However, it was an American, albeit of Dutch extraction, one whom he
believed to be the greatest American in his own day, who had set him
thinking and shown him the way.



XXIV. Theodore Roosevelt's Anonymous Editorial Work


While Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, Bok was
sitting one evening talking with him, when suddenly Mr. Roosevelt turned
to him and said with his usual emphasis: "Bok, I envy you your power
with your public."

The editor was frankly puzzled.

"That is a strange remark from the President of the United States," he
replied.

"You may think so," was the rejoinder. "But listen. When do I get the
ear of the public? In its busiest moments. My messages are printed in
the newspapers and read hurriedly, mostly by men in trolleys or
railroad-cars. Women hardly ever read them, I should judge. Now you are
read in the evening by the fireside or under the lamp, when the day's
work is over and the mind is at rest from other things and receptive to
what you offer. Don't you see where you have it on me?"

This diagnosis was keenly interesting, and while the President talked
during the balance of the evening, Bok was thinking. Finally, he said:
"Mr. President, I should like to share my power with you."

"How?" asked Mr. Roosevelt.

"You recognize that women do not read your messages; and yet no
President's messages ever discussed more ethical questions that women
should know about and get straight in their minds. As it is, some of
your ideas are not at all understood by them; your strenuous-life
theory, for instance, your factory-law ideas, and particularly your
race-suicide arguments. Men don't fully understand them, for that
matter; women certainly do not."

"I am aware of all that," said the President. "What is your plan to
remedy it?"

"Have a department in my magazine, and explain your ideas," suggested
Bok.

"Haven't time for another thing. You know that," snapped back the
President. "Wish I had."

"Not to write it, perhaps, yourself," returned Bok.

"But why couldn't you find time to do this: select the writer here in
Washington in whose accuracy you have the most implicit faith; let him
talk with you for one hour each month on one of those subjects; let him
write out your views, and submit the manuscript to you; and we will have
a department stating exactly how the material is obtained and how far it
represents your own work. In that way, with only an hour's work each
month, you can get your views, correctly stated, before this vast
audience when it is not in trolleys or railroad-cars."

"But I haven't the hour," answered Roosevelt, impressed, however, as Bok
saw. "I have only half an hour, when I am awake, when I am really idle,
and that is when I am being shaved."

"Well," calmly suggested the editor, "why not two of those half-hours a
month, or perhaps one?"

"What?" answered the President, sitting upright, his teeth flashing but
his smile broadening. "You Dutchman, you'd make me work while I'm
getting shaved, too?"

"Well," was the answer, "isn't the result worth the effort?"

"Bok, you are absolutely relentless," said the President. "But you're
right. The result would be worth the effort. What writer have you in
mind? You seem to have thought this thing through."

"How about O'Brien? You think well of him?"

(Robert L. O'Brien, now editor of the Boston Herald, was then Washington
correspondent for the Boston Transcript and thoroughly in the
President's confidence.)

"Fine," said the President. "I trust O'Brien implicitly. All right, if
you can get O'Brien to add it on, I'll try it."

And so the "shaving interviews" were begun; and early in 1906 there
appeared in The Ladies' Home Journal a department called "The
President," with the subtitle: "A Department in which will be presented
the attitude of the President on those national questions which affect
the vital interests of the home, by a writer intimately acquainted and
in close touch with him."

O'Brien talked with Mr. Roosevelt once a month, wrote out the results,
the President went over the proofs carefully, and the department was
conducted with great success for a year.

But Theodore Roosevelt was again to be the editor of a department in The
Ladies' Home Journal; this time to be written by himself under the
strictest possible anonymity, so closely adhered to that, until this
revelation, only five persons have known the authorship.

Feeling that it would be an interesting experiment to see how far
Theodore Roosevelt's ideas could stand unsupported by the authority of
his vibrant personality, Bok suggested the plan to the colonel. It was
just after he had returned from his South American trip. He was
immediately interested.

"But how can we keep the authorship really anonymous?" he asked.

"Easily enough," answered Bok, "if you're willing to do the work. Our
letters about it must be written in long hand addressed to each other's
homes; you must write your manuscript in your own hand; I will copy it
in mine, and it will go to the printer in that way. I will personally
send you the proofs; you mark your corrections in pencil, and I will
copy them in ink; the company will pay me for each article, and I will
send you my personal check each month. By this means, the identity of
the author will be concealed."

Colonel Roosevelt was never averse to hard work if it was necessary to
achieve a result that he felt was worth while.

"All right," wrote the colonel finally. "I'll try--with you!--the
experiment for a year: 12 articles... I don't know that I can give your
readers satisfaction, but I shall try my very best. I am very glad to be
associated with you, anyway. At first I doubted the wisdom of the plan,
merely because I doubted whether I could give you just that you wished.
I never know what an audience wants: I know what it ought to want: and
sometimes I can give it, or make it accept what I think it needs--and
sometimes I cannot. But the more I thought over your proposal, the more
I liked it... Whether the wine will be good enough to attract without
any bush I don't know; and besides, in such cases the fault is not in
the wine, but in the fact that the consumers decline to have their
attention attracted unless there is a bush!"

In the latter part of 1916 an anonymous department called "Men" was
begun in the magazine.

The physical work was great. The colonel punctiliously held to the
conditions, and wrote manuscript and letters with his own hand, and Bok
carried out his part of the agreement. Nor was this simple, for Colonel
Roosevelt's manuscript--particularly when, as in this case, it was
written on yellow paper with a soft pencil and generously
interlined--was anything but legible. Month after month the two men
worked each at his own task. To throw the public off the scent, during
the conduct of the department, an article or two by Colonel Roosevelt
was published in another part of the magazine under his own name, and in
the department itself the anonymous author would occasionally quote
himself.

It was natural that the appearance of a department devoted to men in a
woman's magazine should attract immediate attention. The department took
up the various interests of a man's life, such as real efficiency; his
duties as an employer and his usefulness to his employees; the
employee's attitude toward his employer; the relations of men and women;
a father's relations to his sons and daughters; a man's duty to his
community; the public-school system; a man's relation to his church, and
kindred topics.

The anonymity of the articles soon took on interest from the
positiveness of the opinions discussed; but so thoroughly had Colonel
Roosevelt covered his tracks that, although he wrote in his usual style,
in not a single instance was his name connected with the department.
Lyman Abbott was the favorite "guess" at first; then after various other
public men had been suggested, the newspapers finally decided upon
former President Eliot of Harvard University as the writer.

All this intensely interested and amused Colonel Roosevelt and he fairly
itched with the desire to write a series of criticisms of his own
articles to Doctor Eliot. Bok, however, persuaded the colonel not to
spend more physical effort than he was already doing on the articles;
for, in addition, he was notating answers on the numerous letters
received, and those Bok answered "on behalf of the author."

For a year, the department continued. During all that time the secret of
the authorship was known to only one man, besides the colonel and Bok,
and their respective wives!

When the colonel sent his last article in the series to Bok, he wrote:

"Now that the work is over, I wish most cordially to thank you, my dear
fellow, for your unvarying courtesy and kindness. I have not been
satisfied with my work. This is the first time I ever tried to write
precisely to order, and I am not one of those gifted men who can do so
to advantage. Generally I find that the 3,000 words is not the right
length and that I wish to use 2,000 or 4,000! And in consequence feel as
if I had either padded or mutilated the article. And I am not always
able to feel that every month I have something worth saying on a given
subject.

"But I hope that you have not been too much disappointed."

Bok had not been, and neither had his public!

In the meanwhile, Bok had arranged with Colonel Roosevelt for his
reading and advising upon manuscripts of special significance for the
magazine. In this work, Colonel Roosevelt showed his customary
promptness and thoroughness. A manuscript, no matter how long it might
be, was in his hands scarcely forty-eight hours, more generally
twenty-four, before it was read, a report thereon written, and the
article on its way back. His reports were always comprehensive and
invariably interesting. There was none of the cut-and-dried flavor of
the opinion of the average "reader"; he always put himself into the
report, and, of course, that meant a warm personal touch. If he could
not encourage the publication of a manuscript, his reasons were always
fully given, and invariably without personal bias.

On one occasion Bok sent him a manuscript which he was sure was, in its
views, at variance with the colonel's beliefs. The colonel, he knew,
felt strongly on the subject, and Bok wondered what would be his
criticism. The report came back promptly. He reviewed the article
carefully and ended: "Of course, this is all at variance with my own
views. I believe thoroughly and completely that this writer is all
wrong. And yet, from his side of the case, I am free to say that he
makes out the best case I have read anywhere. I think a magazine should
present both sides of all questions; and if you want to present this
side, I should strongly recommend that you do so with this article."

  Sagamore Hill. April 26th 1916

  This is a really noteworthy story--a
  profoundly touching story--of the Americanizing
  of an immigrant girl, who between babyhood
  and young womanhood leaps over a space
  which in all outward and humanizing essentials
  is far more important than the distance
  painfully traversed by her forefathers during
  the preceding thousand years. When we tend to
  grow disheartened over some of the developments
  of our American civilization, it is well
  worth while seeing what this same
  civilization holds for starved and noble
  souls who have elsewhere been denied what
  here we hold to be, as a matter of course, rights
  free to all--altho we do not, as we should do,
  make these rights accessible to all who are
  willing with resolute earnestness to strive for them.
  I most cordially commend this story.

  Theodore Roosevelt

  One of Theodore Roosevelt's "Reports" as a reader of
  special manuscripts"

Not long after, Bok decided to induce Colonel Roosevelt to embark upon
an entirely new activity, and negotiations were begun (alas, too late!
for it was in the autumn of 1918), which, owing to their tentative
character, were never made public. Bok told Colonel Roosevelt that he
wanted to invest twenty-five thousand dollars a year in American
boyhood--the boyhood that he felt twenty years hence would be the
manhood of America, and that would actually solve the problems with
which we were now grappling.

Although, all too apparently, he was not in his usual vigorous health,
Colonel Roosevelt was alert in a moment.

"Fine!" he said, with his teeth gleaming. "Couldn't invest better
anywhere. How are you going to do it?"

"By asking you to assume the active headship of the National Boy Scouts
of America, and paying you that amount each year as a fixed salary."

The colonel looked steadily ahead for a moment, without a word, and then
with the old Roosevelt smile wreathing his face and his teeth fairly
gleaming, he turned to his "tempter," as he called him, and said:

"Do you know that was very well put? Yes, sir, very well put."

"Yes?" answered Bok. "Glad you think so. But how about your acceptance
of the idea?"

"That's another matter; quite another matter. How about the organization
itself? There are men in it that don't approve of me at all, you know,"
he said.

Bok explained that the organization knew nothing of his offer; that it
was entirely unofficial. It was purely a personal thought. He believed
the Boy Scouts of America needed a leader; that the colonel was the one
man in the United States fitted by every natural quality to be that
leader; that the Scouts would rally around him, and that, at his call,
instead of four hundred thousand Scouts, as there were then, the
organization would grow into a million and more. Bok further explained
that he believed his connection with the national organization was
sufficient, if Colonel Roosevelt would favorably consider such a
leadership, to warrant him in presenting it to the national officers;
and he was inclined to believe they would welcome the opportunity. He
could not assure the colonel of this! He had no authority for saying
they would; but was Colonel Roosevelt receptive to the idea?

At first, the colonel could not see it. But he went over the ground as
thoroughly as a half-hour talk permitted; and finally the opportunity
for doing a piece of constructive work that might prove second to none
that he had ever done, made its appeal.

"You mean for me to be the active head?" asked the colonel.

"Could you be anything else, colonel?" answered Bok.

"Quite so," said the colonel. "That's about right. Do you know," he
pondered, "I think Edie (Mrs. Roosevelt) might like me to do something
like that. She would figure it would keep me out of mischief in 1920,"
and the colonel's smile spread over his face.

"Bok," he at last concluded, "do you know, after all, I think you've
said something! Let's think it over. Let's see how I get along with this
trouble of mine. I am not sure, you know, how far I can go in the
future. Not at all sure, you know--not at all. That last trip of mine to
South America was a bit too much. Shouldn't have done it, you know. I
know it now. Well, as I say, let's both think it over and through; I
will, gladly and most carefully. There's much in what you say; it's a
great chance; I'd love doing it. By Jove! it would be wonderful to rally
a million boys for real Americanism, as you say. It looms up as I think
it over. Suppose we let it simmer for a month or two."

And so it was left--for "a month or two." It was to be
forever--unfortunately. Edward Bok has always felt that the most
worth-while idea that ever came to him had, for some reason he never
could understand, come too late. He felt, as he will always feel, that
the boys of America had lost a national leader that might have led
them--where would have been the limit?



XXV. The President and the Boy


One of the incidents connected with Edward Bok that Theodore Roosevelt
never forgot was when Bok's eldest boy chose the colonel as a Christmas
present. And no incident better portrays the wonderful character of the
colonel than did his remarkable response to the compliment.

A vicious attack of double pneumonia had left the heart of the boy very
weak--and Christmas was close by! So the father said:

"It's a quiet Christmas for you this year, boy. Suppose you do this:
think of the one thing in the world that you would rather have than
anything else and I'll give you that, and that will have to be your
Christmas."

"I know now," came the instant reply.

"But the world is a big place, and there are lots of things in it, you
know."

"I know that," said the boy, "but this is something I have wanted for a
long time, and would rather have than anything else in the world." And
he looked as if he meant it.

"Well, out with it, then, if you're so sure."

And to the father's astonished ears came this request:

"Take me to Washington as soon as my heart is all right, introduce me to
President Roosevelt, and let me shake hands with him."

"All right," said the father, after recovering from his surprise. "I'll
see whether I can fix it." And that morning a letter went to the
President saying that he had been chosen as a Christmas present.
Naturally, any man would have felt pleased, no matter how high his
station, and for Theodore Roosevelt, father of boys, the message had a
special appeal.

The letter had no sooner reached Washington than back came an answer,
addressed not to the father but to the boy! It read:

"The White House, Washington.

"November 13th, 1907.

"Dear Curtis:

"Your father has just written me, and I want him to bring you on and
shake hands with me as soon as you are well enough to travel. Then I am
going to give you, myself, a copy of the book containing my hunting
trips since I have been President; unless you will wait until the new
edition, which contains two more chapters, is out. If so, I will send it
to you, as this new edition probably won't be ready when you come on
here.

"Give my warm regards to your father and mother.

"Sincerely yours,

"Theodore Roosevelt."

Here was joy serene! But the boy's heart had acted queerly for a few
days, and so the father wrote, thanked the President, and said that as
soon as the heart moderated a bit the letter would be given the boy. It
was a rare bit of consideration that now followed. No sooner had the
father's letter reached the White House than an answer came back by
first post--this time with a special-delivery stamp on it. It was
Theodore Roosevelt, the father, who wrote this time; his mind and time
filled with affairs of state, and yet full of tender thoughtfulness for
a little boy:

"Dear Mr. Bok:--

"I have your letter of the 16th instant. I hope the little fellow will
soon be all right. Instead of giving him my letter, give him a message
from me based on the letter, if that will be better for him. Tell Mrs.
Bok how deeply Mrs. Roosevelt and I sympathize with her. We know just
how she feels.

"Sincerely yours,

"Theodore Roosevelt."

"That's pretty fine consideration," said the father. He got the letter
during a business conference and he read it aloud to the group of
business men. Some there were in that group who keenly differed with the
President on national issues, but they were all fathers, and two of the
sturdiest turned and walked to the window as they said: "Yes, that is
fine!"

Then came the boy's pleasure when he was handed the letter; the next few
days were spent inditing an answer to "my friend, the President." At
last the momentous epistle seemed satisfactory, and off to the busy
presidential desk went the boyish note, full of thanks and assurances
that he would come just as soon as he could, and that Mr. Roosevelt must
not get impatient!

The "soon as he could" time, however, did not come as quickly as all had
hoped!--a little heart pumped for days full of oxygen and accelerated by
hypodermic injections is slow to mend. But the President's framed
letter, hanging on the spot on the wall first seen in the morning, was a
daily consolation.

Then, in March, although four months after the promise--and it would not
have been strange, in his busy life, for the President to have forgotten
or at least overlooked it--on the very day that the book was published
came a special "large-paper" copy of The Outdoor Pastimes of an American
Hunter, and on the fly-leaf there greeted the boy, in the President's
own hand:

"To Master Curtis Bok,

"With the best wishes of his friend,

"Theodore Roosevelt.

"March 11, 1908."

The boy's cup was now full, and so said his letter to the President. And
the President wrote back to the father: "I am really immensely amused
and interested, and shall be mighty glad to see the little fellow."

In the spring, on a beautiful May day, came the great moment. The mother
had to go along, the boy insisted, to see the great event, and so the
trio found themselves shaking the hand of the President's secretary at
the White House.

"Oh, the President is looking for you, all right," he said to the boy,
and then the next moment the three were in a large room. Mr. Roosevelt,
with beaming face, was already striding across the room, and with a
"Well, well, and so this is my friend Curtis!" the two stood looking
into each other's faces, each fairly wreathed in smiles, and each
industriously shaking the hand of the other.

"Yes, Mr. President, I'm mighty glad to see you!" said the boy.

"I am glad to see you, Curtis," returned Mr. Roosevelt.

Then there came a white rose from the presidential desk for the mother,
but after that father and mother might as well have faded away. Nobody
existed save the President and the boy. The anteroom was full; in the
Cabinet-room a delegation waited to be addressed. But affairs of state
were at a complete standstill as, with boyish zeal, the President became
oblivious to all but the boy before him.

"Now, Curtis, I've got some pictures here of bears that a friend of mine
has just shot. Look at that whopper, fifteen hundred pounds--that's as
much as a horse weighs, you know. Now, my friend shot him"--and it was a
toss-up who was the more keenly interested, the real boy or the man-boy,
as picture after picture came out and bear adventure crowded upon the
heels of bear adventure.

"Gee, he's a corker, all right!" came from the boy at one point, and
then, from the President: "That's right, he is a corker. Now you see his
head here"--and then both were off again.

The private secretary came in at this point and whispered in the
President's ear.

"I know, I know. I'll see him later. Say that I am very busy now." And
the face beamed with smiles.

"Now, Mr. President--" began the father.

"No, sir; no, sir; not at all. Affairs can wait. This is a long-standing
engagement between Curtis and me, and that must come first. Isn't that
so, Curtis?"

Of course the boy agreed.

Suddenly the boy looked around the room and said:

"Where's your gun, Mr. President? Got it here?"

"No," laughingly came from the President, "but I'll tell you"--and then
the two heads were together again.

A moment for breath-taking came, and the boy said:

"Aren't you ever afraid of being shot?"

"You mean while I am hunting?"

"Oh, no. I mean as President."

"No," replied the smiling President. "I'll tell you, Curtis; I'm too
busy to think about that. I have too many things to do to bother about
anything of that sort. When I was in battle I was always too anxious to
get to the front to think about the shots. And here--well, here I'm too
busy too. Never think about it. But I'll tell you, Curtis, there are
some men down there," pointing out of the window in the direction of the
capitol, "called the Congress, and if they would only give me the four
battleships I want, I'd be perfectly willing to have any one take a
crack at me." Then, for the first time recognizing the existence of the
parents, the President said: "And I don't know but if they did pick me
off I'd be pretty well ahead of the game."

Just in that moment only did the boy-knowing President get a single inch
above the boy-interest. It was astonishing to see the natural accuracy
with which the man gauged the boy-level.

"Now, how would you like to see a bear, Curtis?" came next. "I know
where there's a beauty, twelve hundred pounds."

"Must be some bear!" interjected the boy.

"That's what it is," put in the President. "Regular cinnamon-brown
type"--and then off went the talk to the big bear at the Washington
"Zoo" where the President was to send the boy.

Then, after a little: "Now, Curtis, see those men over there in that
room. They've travelled from all parts of the country to come here at my
invitation, and I've got to make a little speech to them, and I'll do
that while you go off to see the bear."

And then the hand came forth to say good-by. The boy put his in it, each
looked into the other's face, and on neither was there a place big
enough to put a ten-cent piece that was not wreathed in smiles. "He
certainly is all right," said the boy to the father, looking wistfully
after the President.

Almost to the other room had the President gone when he, too,
instinctively looked back to find the boy following him with his eyes.
He stopped, wheeled around, and then the two instinctively sought each
other again. The President came back, the boy went forward. This time
each held out both hands, and as each looked once more into the other's
eyes a world of complete understanding was in both faces, and every
looker-on smiled with them.

"Good-by, Curtis," came at last from the President.

"Good-by, Mr. President," came from the boy.

Then, with another pump-handly shake and with a "Gee, but he's great,
all right!" the boy went out to see the cinnamon-bear at the "Zoo," and
to live it all over in the days to come.

Two boy-hearts had met, although one of them belonged to the President
of the United States.



XXVI. The Literary Back-Stairs


His complete absorption in the magazine work now compelled Bok to close
his newspaper syndicate in New York and end the writing of his weekly
newspaper literary letter. He decided, however, to transfer to the pages
of his magazine his idea of making the American public more conversant
with books and authors. Accordingly, he engaged Robert Bridges (the
present editor of Scribner's Magazine) to write a series of
conversational book-talks under his nom de plume of "Droch." Later, this
was supplemented by the engagement of Hamilton W. Mabie, who for years
reviewed the newest books.

In almost every issue of the magazine there appeared also an article
addressed to the literary novice. Bok was eager, of course, to attract
the new authors to the magazine; but, particularly, he had in mind the
correction of the popular notion, then so prevalent (less so to-day,
fortunately, but still existent), that only the manuscripts of famous
authors were given favorable reading in editorial offices; that in these
offices there really existed a clique, and that unless the writer knew
the literary back-stairs he had a slim chance to enter and be heard.

In the minds of these misinformed writers, these back-stairs are gained
by "knowing the editor" or through "having some influence with him."
These writers have conclusively settled two points in their own minds:
first, that an editor is antagonistic to the struggling writer; and,
second, that a manuscript sent in the ordinary manner to an editor never
reaches him. Hence, some "influence" is necessary, and they set about to
secure it.

Now, the truth is, of course, that there are no "literary back-stairs"
to the editorial office of the modern magazine. There cannot be. The
making of a modern magazine is a business proposition; the editor is
there to make it pay. He can do this only if he is of service to his
readers, and that depends on his ability to obtain a class of material
essentially the best of its kind and varied in its character.

The "best," while it means good writing, means also that it shall say
something. The most desired writer in the magazine office is the man who
has something to say, and knows how to say it. Variety requires that
there shall be many of these writers, and it is the editor's business to
ferret them out. It stands to reason, therefore, that there can be no
such thing as a "clique"; limitation by the editor of his list of
authors would mean being limited to the style of the few and the
thoughts of a handful. And with a public that easily tires even of the
best where it continually comes from one source, such an editorial
policy would be suicidal.

Hence, if the editor is more keenly alert for one thing than for
another, it is for the new writer. The frequency of the new note in his
magazine is his salvation; for just in proportion as he can introduce
that new note is his success with his readers. A successful magazine is
exactly like a successful store: it must keep its wares constantly fresh
and varied to attract the eye and hold the patronage of its customers.

With an editor ever alive to the new message, the new note, the fresh
way of saying a thing, the new angle on a current subject, whether in
article or story--since fiction is really to-day only a reflection of
modern thought--the foolish notion that an editor must be approached
through "influence," by a letter of introduction from some friend or
other author, falls of itself. There is no more powerful lever to open
the modern magazine door than a postage-stamp on an envelope containing
a manuscript that says something. No influence is needed to bring that
manuscript to the editor's desk or to his attention. That he will
receive it the sender need not for a moment doubt; his mail is too
closely scanned for that very envelope.

The most successful authors have "broken into" the magazines very often
without even a letter accompanying their first manuscript. The name and
address in the right-hand corner of the first page; some "return" stamps
in the left corner, and all that the editor requires is there. The
author need tell nothing about the manuscript; if what the editor wants
is in it he will find it. An editor can stand a tremendous amount of
letting alone. If young authors could be made to realize how simple is
the process of "breaking into" the modern magazine, which apparently
gives them such needless heartburn, they would save themselves infinite
pains, time, and worry.

Despite all the rubbish written to the contrary, manuscripts sent to the
magazines of to-day are, in every case, read, and frequently more
carefully read than the author imagines. Editors know that, from the
standpoint of good business alone, it is unwise to return a manuscript
unread. Literary talent has been found in many instances where it was
least expected.

This does not mean that every manuscript received by a magazine is read
from first page to last. There is no reason why it should be, any more
than that all of a bad egg should be eaten to prove that it is bad. The
title alone sometimes decides the fate of a manuscript. If the subject
discussed is entirely foreign to the aims of the magazine, it is simply
a case of misapplication on the author's part; and it would be a waste
of time for the editor to read something which he knows from its subject
he cannot use.

This, of course, applies more to articles than to other forms of
literary work, although unsuitability in a poem is naturally as quickly
detected. Stories, no matter how unpromising they may appear at the
beginning, are generally read through, since gold in a piece of fiction
has often been found almost at the close. This careful attention to
manuscripts in editorial offices is fixed by rules, and an author's
indorsement or a friend's judgment never affects the custom.

At no time does the fallacy hold in a magazine office that "a big name
counts for everything and an unknown name for nothing." There can be no
denial of the fact that where a name of repute is attached to a
meritorious story or article the combination is ideal. But as between an
indifferent story and a well-known name and a good story with an unknown
name the editor may be depended upon to accept the latter. Editors are
very careful nowadays to avoid the public impatience that invariably
follows upon publishing material simply on account of the name attached
to it. Nothing so quickly injures the reputation of a magazine in the
estimation of its readers. If a person, taking up a magazine, reads a
story attracted by a famous name, and the story disappoints, the editor
has a doubly disappointed reader on his hands: a reader whose high
expectations from the name have not been realized and who is
disappointed with the story.

It is a well-known fact among successful magazine editors that their
most striking successes have been made by material to which unknown
names were attached, where the material was fresh, the approach new, the
note different. That is what builds up a magazine; the reader learns to
have confidence in what he finds in the periodical, whether it bears a
famous name or not.

Nor must the young author believe that the best work in modern magazine
literature "is dashed off at white heat." What is dashed off reads
dashed off, and one does not come across it in the well-edited magazine,
because it is never accepted. Good writing is laborious writing, the
result of revision upon revision. The work of masters such as Robert
Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling represents never less than eight or
ten revisions, and often a far greater number. It was Stevenson who once
said to Edward Bok, after a laborious correction of certain proofs: "My
boy, I could be a healthy man, I think, if I did something else than
writing. But to write, as I try to write, takes every ounce of my
vitality." Just as the best "impromptu" speeches are those most
carefully prepared, so do the simplest articles and stories represent
the hardest kind of work; the simpler the method seems and the easier
the article reads, the harder, it is safe to say, was the work put into
it.

But the author must also know when to let his material alone. In his
excessive regard for style even so great a master as Robert Louis
Stevenson robbed his work of much of the spontaneity and natural charm
found, for example, in his Vailima Letters. The main thing is for a
writer to say what he has to say in the best way, natural to himself, in
which he can say it, and then let it alone--always remembering that,
provided he has made himself clear, the message itself is of greater
import than the manner in which it is said. Up to a certain point only
is a piece of literary work an artistic endeavor. A readable, lucid
style is far preferable to what is called a "literary style"--a foolish
phrase, since it often means nothing except a complicated method of
expression which confuses rather than clarifies thought. What the public
wants in its literature is human nature, and that human nature simply
and forcibly expressed. This is fundamental, and this is why true
literature has no fashion and knows no change, despite the cries of the
modern weaklings who affect weird forms. The clarity of Shakespeare is
the clarity of to-day and will be that of to-morrow.



XXVII. Women's Clubs and Woman Suffrage


Edward Bok was now jumping from one sizzling frying-pan into another. He
had become vitally interested in the growth of women's clubs as a power
for good, and began to follow their work and study their methods. He
attended meetings; he had his editors attend others and give him
reports; he collected and read the year-books of scores of clubs, and he
secured and read a number of the papers that had been presented by
members at these meetings. He saw at once that what might prove a
wonderful power in the civic life of the nation was being misdirected
into gatherings of pseudo-culture, where papers ill-digested and mostly
copied from books were read and superficially discussed.

Apparently the average club thought nothing of disposing of the works of
the Victorian poets in one afternoon; the Italian Renaissance was "fully
treated and most ably discussed," according to one programme, at a
single meeting; Rembrandt and his school were likewise disposed of in
one afternoon, and German literature was "adequately treated" at one
session "in able papers."

Bok gathered a mass of this material, and then paid his respects to it
in the magazine. He recited his evidence and then expressed his opinion
of it. He realized that his arraignment of the clubs would cost the
magazine hundreds of friends; but, convinced of the great power of the
woman's club with its activities rightly directed, he concluded that he
could afford to risk incurring displeasure if he might point the way to
more effective work. The one was worth the other.

The displeasure was not slow in making itself manifest. It came to
maturity overnight, as it were, and expressed itself in no uncertain
terms. Every club flew to arms, and Bok was intensely interested to note
that the clubs whose work he had taken as "horrible examples," although
he had not mentioned their names, were the most strenuous in their
denials of the methods outlined in the magazine, and that the members of
those clubs were particularly heated in their attacks upon him.

He soon found that he had stirred up quite as active a hornet's nest as
he had anticipated. Letters by the hundred poured in attacking and
reviling him. In nearly every case the writers fell back upon personal
abuse, ignoring his arguments altogether. He became the subject of
heated debates at club meetings, at conventions, in the public press;
and soon long petitions demanding his removal as editor began to come to
Mr. Curtis. These petitions were signed by hundreds of names. Bok read
them with absorbed interest, and bided his time for action. Meanwhile he
continued his articles of criticism in the magazine, and these, of
course, added fuel to the conflagration.

Former President Cleveland now came to Bok's side, and in an article in
the magazine went even further than Bok had ever thought of going in his
criticism of women's clubs. This article deflected the criticism from
Bok momentarily, and Mr. Cleveland received a grilling to which his
experiences in the White House were "as child's play," as he expressed
it. The two men, the editor and the former President, were now bracketed
as copartners in crime in the eyes of the club-women, and nothing too
harsh could be found to say or write of either.

Meanwhile Bok had been watching the petitions for his removal which kept
coming in. He was looking for an opening, and soon found it. One of the
most prominent women's clubs sent a protest condemning his attitude and
advising him by resolutions, which were enclosed, that unless he ceased
his attacks, the members of the -- Woman's Club had resolved "to
unitedly and unanimously boycott The Ladies' Home Journal and had
already put the plan into effect with the current issue."

Bok immediately engaged counsel in the city where the club was situated,
and instructed his lawyer to begin proceedings, for violation of the
Sherman Act, against the president and the secretary of the club, and
three other members; counsel to take particular pains to choose, if
possible, the wives of three lawyers.

Within forty-eight hours Bok heard from the husbands of the five wives,
who pointed out to him that the women had acted in entire ignorance of
the law, and suggested a reconsideration of his action. Bok replied by
quoting from the petition which set forth that it was signed "by the
most intelligent women of -- who were thoroughly versed in civic and
national affairs"; and if this were true, Bok argued, it naturally
followed that they must have been cognizant of a legislative measure so
well known and so widely discussed as the Sherman Act. He was basing his
action, he said, merely on their declaration.

Bok could easily picture to himself the chagrin and wrath of the women,
with the husbands laughing up their sleeves at the turn of affairs. "My
wife never could see the humor in the situation," said one of these
husbands to Bok, when he met him years later. Bok capitulated, and then
apparently with great reluctance, only when the club sent him an
official withdrawal of the protest and an apology for "its
ill-considered action." It was years after that one of the members of
the club, upon meeting Bok, said to him: "Your action did not increase
the club's love for you, but you taught it a much-needed lesson which it
never forgot."

Up to this time, Bok had purposely been destructive in his criticism.
Now, he pointed out a constructive plan whereby the woman's club could
make itself a power in every community. He advocated less of the
cultural and more of the civic interest, and urged that the clubs study
the numerous questions dealing with the life of their communities. This
seems strange, in view of the enormous amount of civic work done by
women's clubs to-day. But at that time, when the woman's club movement
was unformed, these civic matters found but a small part in the majority
of programmes; in a number of cases none at all.

Of course, the clubs refused to accept or even to consider his
suggestions; they were quite competent to decide for themselves the
particular subjects for their meetings, they argued; they did not care
to be tutored or guided, particularly by Bok. They were much too angry
with him even to admit that his suggestions were practical and in order.
But he knew, of course, that they would adopt them of their own
volition--under cover, perhaps, but that made no difference, so long as
the end was accomplished. One club after another, during the following
years, changed its programme, and soon the supposed cultural interest
had yielded first place to the needful civic questions.

For years, however, the club-women of America did not forgive Bok. They
refused to buy or countenance his magazine, and periodically they
attacked it or made light of it. But he knew he had made his point, and
was content to leave it to time to heal the wounds. This came years
afterward, when Mrs. Pennypacker became president of the General
Federation of Women's Clubs and Mrs. Rudolph Blankenburg,
vice-president.

Those two far-seeing women and Bok arranged that an official department
of the Federation should find a place in The Ladies' Home Journal, with
Mrs. Pennypacker as editor and Mrs. Blankenburg, who lived in
Philadelphia, as the resident consulting editor. The idea was arranged
agreeably to all three; the Federation officially endorsed its
president's suggestion, and for several years the department was one of
the most successful in the magazine.

The breach had been healed; two powerful forces were working together,
as they should, for the mutual good of the American woman. No relations
could have been pleasanter than those between the editor-in-chief of the
magazine and the two departmental editors. The report was purposely set
afloat that Bok had withdrawn from his position of antagonism (?) toward
women's clubs, and this gave great satisfaction to thousands of women
club-members and made everybody happy!

At this time the question of suffrage for women was fast becoming a
prominent issue, and naturally Bok was asked to take a stand on the
question in his magazine. No man sat at a larger gateway to learn the
sentiments of numbers of women on any subject. He read his vast
correspondence carefully. He consulted women of every grade of
intelligence and in every station in life. Then he caused a straw-vote
to be taken among a selected list of thousands of his subscribers in
large cities and in small towns. The result of all these inquiries was
most emphatic and clear: by far the overwhelming majority of the women
approached either were opposed to the ballot or were indifferent to it.
Those who desired to try the experiment were negligible in number. So
far as the sentiment of any wide public can be secured on any given
topic, this seemed to be the dominant opinion.

Bok then instituted a systematic investigation of conditions in those
states where women had voted for years; but he could not see, from a
thoughtful study of his investigations, that much had been accomplished.
The results certainly did not measure up to the prophecies constantly
advanced by the advocates of a nation-wide equal suffrage.

The editor now carefully looked into the speeches of the suffragists,
examined the platform of the National body in favor of woman suffrage,
and talked at length with such leaders in the movement as Susan B.
Anthony, Julia Ward Howe, Anna Howard Shaw, and Jane Addams.

All this time Bok had kept his own mind open. He was ready to have the
magazine, for whose editorial policy he was responsible, advocate that
side of the issue which seemed for the best interests of the American
woman.

The arguments that a woman should not have a vote because she was a
woman; that it would interfere with her work in the home; that it would
make her more masculine; that it would take her out of her own home;
that it was a blow at domesticity and an actual menace to the home life
of America--these did not weight with him. There was only one question
for him to settle: Was the ballot something which, in its demonstrated
value or in its potentiality, would serve the best interests of American
womanhood?

After all his investigations of both sides of the question, Bok decided
upon a negative answer. He felt that American women were not ready to
exercise the privilege intelligently and that their mental attitude was
against it.

Forthwith he said so in his magazine. And the storm broke. The
denunciations brought down upon him by his attitude toward woman's clubs
was as nothing compared to what was now let loose. The attacks were
bitter. His arguments were ignored; and the suffragists evidently
decided to concentrate their criticisms upon the youthful years of the
editor. They regarded this as a most vulnerable point of attack, and
reams of paper were used to prove that the opinion of a man so young in
years and so necessarily unformed in his judgment was of no value.

Unfortunately, the suffragists did not know, when they advanced this
argument, that it would be overthrown by the endorsement of Bok's point
of view by such men and women of years and ripe judgment as Doctor
Eliot, then president of Harvard University, former President Cleveland,
Lyman Abbott, Margaret Deland, and others. When articles by these
opponents to suffrage appeared, the argument of youth hardly held good;
and the attacks of the suffragists were quickly shifted to the ground of
"narrow-mindedness and old-fashioned fogyism."

The article by former President Cleveland particularly stirred the ire
of the attacking suffragists, and Miss Anthony hurled a broadside at the
former President in a newspaper interview. Unfortunately for her best
judgment, and the strength of her argument, the attack became intensely
personal; and of course, nullified its force. But it irritated Mr.
Cleveland, who called Bok to his Princeton home and read him a draft of
a proposed answer for publication in Bok's magazine.

Those who knew Mr. Cleveland were well aware of the force that he could
put into his pen when he chose, and in this proposed article he
certainly chose! It would have made very unpleasant reading for Miss
Anthony in particular, as well as for her friends. Bok argued strongly
against the article. He reminded Mr. Cleveland that it would be
undignified to make such an answer; that it was always an unpopular
thing to attack a woman in public, especially a woman who was old and
ill; that she would again strive for the last word; that there would be
no point to the controversy and nothing gained by it. He pleaded with
Mr. Cleveland to meet Miss Anthony's attack by a dignified silence.

These arguments happily prevailed. In reality, Mr. Cleveland was not
keen to attack Miss Anthony or any other woman; such a thought was
foreign to his nature. He summed up his feeling to Bok when he tore up
the draft of his article and smilingly said: "Well, I've got if off my
chest, that is the main thing. I wanted to get it out of my system, and
talking it over has driven it out. It is better in the fire," and he
threw the torn paper into the open grate.

As events turned out, it was indeed fortunate that the matter had been
so decided; for the article would have appeared in the number of Bok's
magazine published on the day that Miss Anthony passed away. It would
have been a most unfortunate moment, to say the least, for the
appearance of an attack such as Mr. Cleveland had in mind.

This incident, like so many instances that might be adduced, points with
singular force to the value of that editorial discrimination which the
editor often makes between what is wise or unwise for him to publish.
Bok realized that had he encouraged Mr. Cleveland to publish the
article, he could have exhausted any edition he might have chosen to
print. Times without number, editors make such decisions directly
against what would be of temporary advantage to their publications. The
public never hears of these incidents.

More often than not the editor hears "stories" that, if printed, would
be a "scoop" which would cause his publication to be talked about from
one end of the country to the other. The public does not give credit to
the editor, particularly of the modern newspaper, for the high code of
honor which constantly actuates him in his work. The prevailing notion
is that an editor prints all that he knows, and much that he does not
know. Outside of those in the inner government circles, no group of men,
during the Great War, had more information of a confidential nature
constantly given or brought to them, and more zealously guarded it, than
the editors of the newspapers of America. Among no other set of
professional men is the code of honor so high; and woe betide the
journalist who, in the eyes of his fellow-workers, violates, even in the
slightest degree, that code of editorial ethics. Public men know how
true is this statement; the public at large, however, has not the first
conception of it. If it had, it would have a much higher opinion of its
periodicals and newspapers.

At this juncture, Rudyard Kipling unconsciously came into the very
centre of the suffragists' maelstrom of attack when he sent Bok his
famous poem: "The Female of the Species." The suffragists at once took
the argument in the poem as personal to themselves, and now Kipling got
the full benefit of their vitriolic abuse. Bok sent a handful of these
criticisms to Kipling, who was very gleeful about them. "I owe you a
good laugh over the clippings," he wrote. "They were delightful. But
what a quantity of spare time some people in this world have to burn!"

It was a merry time; and the longer it continued the more heated were
the attacks. The suffragists now had a number of targets, and they took
each in turn and proceeded to riddle it. That Bok was publishing
articles explaining both sides of the question, presenting arguments by
the leading suffragists as well as known anti-suffragists, did not
matter in the least. These were either conveniently overlooked, or, when
referred to at all, were considered in the light of "sops" to the
offended women.

At last Bok reached the stage where he had exhausted all the arguments
worth printing, on both sides of the question, and soon the storm calmed
down.

It was always a matter of gratification to him that the woman who had
most bitterly assailed him during the suffrage controversy, Anna Howard
Shaw, became in later years one of his stanchest friends, and was an
editor on his pay-roll. When the United States entered the Great War,
Bok saw that Doctor Shaw had undertaken a gigantic task in promising, as
chairman, to direct the activities of the National Council for Women. He
went to see her in Washington, and offered his help and that of the
magazine. Doctor Shaw, kindliest of women in her nature, at once
accepted the offer; Bok placed the entire resources of the magazine and
of its Washington editorial force at her disposal; and all through
America's participation in the war, she successfully conducted a monthly
department in The Ladies' Home Journal.

"Such help," she wrote at the close, "as you and your associates have
extended me and my co-workers; such unstinted co-operation and such
practical guidance I never should have dreamed possible. You made your
magazine a living force in our work; we do not see now how we would have
done without it. You came into our activities at the psychological
moment, when we most needed what you could give us, and none could have
given with more open hands and fuller hearts."

So the contending forces in a bitter word-war came together and worked
together, and a mutual regard sprang up between the woman and the man
who had once so radically differed.



XXVIII. Going Home with Kipling, and as a Lecturer


It was in June, 1899, when Rudyard Kipling, after the loss of his
daughter and his own almost fatal illness from pneumonia in America,
sailed for his English home on the White Star liner, Teutonic. The party
consisted of Kipling, his wife, his father J. Lockwood Kipling, Mr. and
Mrs. Frank N. Doubleday, and Bok. It was only at the last moment that
Bok decided to join the party, and the steamer having its full
complement of passengers, he could only secure one of the officers'
large rooms on the upper deck. Owing to the sensitive condition of
Kipling's lungs, it was not wise for him to be out on deck except in the
most favorable weather. The atmosphere of the smoking-room was
forbidding, and as the rooms of the rest of the party were below deck,
it was decided to make Bok's convenient room the headquarters of the
party. Here they assembled for the best part of each day; the talk
ranged over literary and publishing matters of mutual interest, and
Kipling promptly labelled the room "The Hatchery,"--from the plans and
schemes that were hatched during these discussions.

It was decided on the first day out that the party, too active-minded to
remain inert for any length of time, should publish a daily newspaper to
be written on large sheets of paper and to be read each evening to the
group. It was called The Teuton Tonic; Mr. Doubleday was appointed
publisher and advertising manager; Mr. Lockwood Kipling was made art
editor to embellish the news; Rudyard Kipling was the star reporter, and
Bok was editor.

Kipling, just released from his long confinement, like a boy out of
school, was the life of the party--and when, one day, he found a woman
aboard reading a copy of The Ladies' Home Journal his joy knew no
bounds; he turned in the most inimitable "copy" to the Tonic, describing
the woman's feelings as she read the different departments in the
magazine. Of course, Bok, as editor of the Tonic, promptly pigeon-holed
the reporter's "copy"; then relented, and, in a fine spirit of
large-mindedness, "printed" Kipling's pæans of rapture over Bok's
subscriber. The preparation of the paper was a daily joy: it kept the
different members busy, and each evening the copy was handed to "the
large circle of readers"--the two women of the party--to read aloud. At
the end of the sixth day, it was voted to "suspend publication," and the
daily of six issues was unanimously bequeathed to the little daughter of
Mr. Lockwood de Forest, a close friend of the Kipling family--a choice
bit of Kiplingania.

One day it was decided by the party that Bok should be taught the game
of poker, and Kipling at once offered to be the instructor! He wrote out
a list of the "hands" for Bok's guidance, which was placed in the centre
of the table, and the party, augmented by the women, gathered to see the
game.

A baby had been born that evening in the steerage, and it was decided to
inaugurate a small "jack-pot" for the benefit of the mother. All went
well until about the fourth hand, when Bok began to bid higher than had
been originally planned. Kipling questioned the beginner's knowledge of
the game and his tactics, but Bok retorted it was his money that he was
putting into the pot and that no one was compelled to follow his bets if
he did not choose to do so. Finally, the jack-pot assumed altogether too
large dimensions for the party, Kipling "called" and Bok, true to the
old idea of "beginner's luck" in cards, laid down a royal flush! This
was too much, and poker, with Bok in it, was taboo from that moment.
Kipling's version of this card-playing does not agree in all particulars
with the version here written. "Bok learned the game of poker," Kipling
says; "had the deck stacked on him, and on hearing that there was a
woman aboard who read The Ladies' Home Journal insisted on playing after
that with the cabin-door carefully shut." But Kipling's art as a
reporter for The Tonic was not as reliable as the art of his more
careful book work.

Bok derived special pleasure on this trip from his acquaintance with
Father Kipling, as the party called him. Rudyard Kipling's respect for
his father was the tribute of a loyal son to a wonderful father.

"What annoys me," said Kipling, speaking of his father one day, "is when
the pater comes to America to have him referred to in the newspapers as
'the father of Rudyard Kipling.' It is in India where they get the
relation correct: there I am always 'the son of Lockwood Kipling.'"

Father Kipling was, in every sense, a choice spirit: gentle, kindly, and
of a most remarkably even temperament. His knowledge of art, his wide
reading, his extensive travel, and an interest in every phase of the
world's doings, made him a rare conversationalist, when inclined to
talk, and an encyclopedia of knowledge as extensive as it was accurate.
It was very easy to grow fond of Father Kipling, and he won Bok's
affection as few men ever did.

Father Kipling's conversation was remarkable in that he was exceedingly
careful of language and wasted few words.

One day Kipling and Bok were engaged in a discussion of the Boer
problem, which was then pressing. Father Kipling sat by listening, but
made no comment on the divergent views, since, Kipling holding the
English side of the question and Bok the Dutch side, it followed that
they could not agree. Finally Father Kipling arose and said: "Well, I
will take a stroll and see if I can't listen to the water and get all
this din out of my ears."

Both men felt gently but firmly rebuked and the discussion was never
again taken up.

Bok tried on one occasion to ascertain how the father regarded the son's
work.

"You should feel pretty proud of your son," remarked Bok.

"A good sort," was the simple reply.

"I mean, rather, of his work. How does that strike you?" asked Bok.

"Which work?"

"His work as a whole," explained Bok.

"Creditable," was the succinct answer.

"No more than that?" asked Bok.

"Can there be more?" came from the father.

"Well," said Bok, "the judgment seems a little tame as applied to one
who is generally regarded as a genius."

"By whom?"

"The critics, for instance," replied Bok.

"There are no such," came the answer.

"No such what, Mr. Kipling?" asked Bok.

"Critics."

"No critics?"

"No," and for the first time the pipe was removed for a moment. "A
critic is one who only exists as such in his own imagination."

"But surely you must consider that Rud has done some great work?"
persisted Bok.

"Creditable," came once more.

"You think him capable of great work, do you not?" asked Bok. For a
moment there was silence. Then:

"He has a certain grasp of the human instinct. That, some day, I think,
will lead him to write a great work."

There was the secret: the constant holding up to the son, apparently, of
something still to be accomplished; of a goal to be reached; of a higher
standard to be attained. Rudyard Kipling was never in danger of
unintelligent laudation from his safest and most intelligent reader.

During the years which intervened until his passing away, Bok sought to
keep in touch with Father Kipling, and received the most wonderful
letters from him. One day he enclosed in a letter a drawing which he had
made showing Sakia Muni sitting under the bo-tree with two of his
disciples, a young man and a young woman, gathered at his feet. It was a
piece of exquisite drawing. "I like to think of you and your work in
this way," wrote Mr. Kipling, "and so I sketched it for you." Bok had
the sketch enlarged, engaged John La Farge to translate it into glass,
and inserted it in a window in the living-room of his home at Merion.

After Father Kipling had passed away, the express brought to Bok one day
a beautiful plaque of red clay, showing the elephant's head, the lotus,
and the swastika, which the father had made for the son. It was the
original model of the insignia which, as a watermark, is used in the
pages of Kipling's books and on the cover of the subscription edition.

"I am sending with this for your acceptance," wrote Kipling to Bok, "as
some little memory of my father to whom you were so kind, the original
of one of the plaques that he used to make for me. I thought it being
the swastika would be appropriate for your swastika. May it bring you
even more good fortune."

To those who knew Lockwood Kipling, it is easier to understand the
genius and the kindliness of the son. For the sake of the public's
knowledge, it is a distinct loss that there is not a better
understanding of the real sweetness of character of the son. The
public's only idea of the great writer is naturally one derived from
writers who do not understand him, or from reporters whom he refused to
see, while Kipling's own slogan is expressed in his own words: "I have
always managed to keep clear of 'personal' things as much as possible."

  If

  If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
  If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
  If you can wait and not grow tired by waiting
    Or, being lied about don't deal in lies,
    Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
  And yet don't look too good or talk too wise;

  If you can dream and not make dreams your master,
    If you can think and not make thoughts your aim,
  If you can meet with triumph and disaster,
    And treat those two imposters just the same;
  If you can stand to hear the truth you've spoken
    Twisted by Knaves to make a trap for fools,
  Or watch the work you've given your life to broken,
    And stoop and build it up with worn-out tools;

  If you can make one pile of all your winnings
    And risk it at one game of pitch-and-toss,
  And lose, and start again from your beginnings
    And never breath a word about your loss,
  If you can force you heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
  And so hold on, though there is nothing in you
    Except the will that says to them, "Hold on!"

  If you can talk to crowds and keep your virtue,
    And walk with Kings nor lose the common touch,
  If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
  If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
  Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it
    And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

  Copied out from memory by Rudyard Kipling.
  Batemons: Sept. 1913
  for E.W. Bok on his 50th Birthday

It was on Bok's fiftieth birthday that Kipling sent him a copy of "If."
Bok had greatly admired this poem, but knowing Kipling's distaste for
writing out his own work, he had resisted the strong desire to ask him
for a copy of it. It is significant of the author's remarkable memory
that he wrote it, as he said, "from memory," years after its
publication, and yet a comparison of the copy with the printed form,
corrected by Kipling, fails to discover the difference of a single word.

The lecture bureaus now desired that Edward Bok should go on the
platform. Bok had never appeared in the role of a lecturer, but he
reasoned that through the medium of the rostrum he might come in closer
contact with the American public, meet his readers personally, and
secure some first-hand constructive criticism of his work. This last he
was always encouraging. It was a naive conception of a lecture tour, but
Bok believed it and he contracted for a tour beginning at Richmond,
Virginia, and continuing through the South and Southwest as far as Saint
Joseph, Missouri, and then back home by way of the Middle West.

Large audiences greeted him wherever he went, but he had not gone far on
his tour when he realized that he was not getting what he thought he
would. There was much entertaining and lionizing, but nothing to help
him in his work by pointing out to him where he could better it. He
shrank from the pitiless publicity that was inevitable; he became more
and more self-conscious when during the first five minutes on the stage
he felt the hundreds of opera-glasses levelled at him, and he and Mrs.
Bok, who accompanied him, had not a moment to themselves from early
morning to midnight. Yet his large correspondence was following him from
the office, and the inevitable invitations in each city had at least to
be acknowledged. Bok realized he had miscalculated the benefits of a
lecture tour to his work, and began hopefully to wish for the ending of
the circuit.

One afternoon as he was returning with his manager from a large
reception, the "impresario" said to him: "I don't like these receptions.
They hurt the house."

"The house?" echoed Bok.

"Yes, the attendance."

"But you told me the house for this evening was sold out?" said the
lecturer.

"That is true enough. House, and even the stage. Not a seat unsold. But
hundreds just come to see you and not to hear your lecture, and this
exposure of a lecturer at so crowded a reception as this, before the
talk, satisfies the people without their buying a ticket. My rule is
that a lecturer should not be seen in public before his lecture, and I
wish you would let me enforce the rule with you. It wears you out,
anyway, and no receptions until afterward will give you more time for
yourself and save your vitality for the talk."

Bok was entirely acquiescent. He had no personal taste for the continued
round of functions, but he had accepted it as part of the game.

The idea from this talk that impressed Bok, however, with particular
force, was that the people who crowded his houses came to see him and
not to hear his lecture. Personal curiosity, in other words. This was a
new thought. He had been too busy to think of his personality; now he
realized a different angle to the situation. And, much to his manager's
astonishment, two days afterwards Bok refused to sign an agreement for
another tour later in the year. He had had enough of exhibiting himself
as a curiosity. He continued his tour; but before its conclusion fell
ill--a misfortune with a pleasant side to it, for three of his
engagements had to be cancelled.

The Saint Joseph engagement could not be cancelled. The house had been
oversold; it was for the benefit of a local charity which besought Bok
by wire after wire to keep a postponed date. He agreed, and he went. He
realized that he was not well, but he did not realize the extent of his
mental and physical exhaustion until he came out on the platform and
faced the crowded auditorium. Barely sufficient space had been left for
him and for the speaker's desk; the people on the stage were close to
him, and he felt distinctly uncomfortable.

Then, to his consternation, it suddenly dawned upon him that his tired
mind had played a serious trick on him. He did not remember a line of
his lecture; he could not even recall how it began! He arose, after his
introduction, in a bath of cold perspiration. The applause gave him a
moment to recover himself, but not a word came to his mind. He sparred
for time by some informal prefatory remarks expressing regret at his
illness and that he had been compelled to disappoint his audience a few
days before, and then he stood helpless! In sheer desperation he looked
at Mrs. Bok sitting in the stage box, who, divining her husband's
plight, motioned to the inside pocket of his coat. He put his hand there
and pulled out a copy of his lecture which she had placed there! The
whole tragic comedy had happened so quickly that the audience was
absolutely unaware of what had occurred, and Bok went on and practically
read his lecture. But it was not a successful evening for his audience
or for himself, and the one was doubtless as glad when it was over as
the other.

When he reached home, he was convinced that he had had enough of
lecturing! He had to make a second short tour, however, for which he had
contracted with another manager before embarking on the first. This tour
took him to Indianapolis, and after the lecture, James Whitcomb Riley
gave him a supper. There were some thirty men in the party; the affair
was an exceedingly happy one; the happiest that Bok had attended. He
said this to Riley on the way to the hotel.

"Usually," said Bok, "men, for some reason or other, hold aloof from me
on these lecture tours. They stand at a distance and eye me, and I see
wonder on their faces rather than a desire to mix."

"You've noticed that, then?" smilingly asked the poet.

"Yes, and I can't quite get it. At home, my friends are men. Why should
it be different in other cities?"

"I'll tell you," said Riley. "Five or six of the men you met to-night
were loath to come. When I pinned them down to their reason, it was I
thought: they regard you as an effeminate being, a sissy."

"Good heavens!" interrupted Bok.

"Fact," said Riley, "and you can't wonder at it nor blame them. You have
been most industriously paragraphed, in countless jests, about your
penchant for pink teas, your expert knowledge of tatting, crocheting,
and all that sort of stuff. Look what Eugene Field has done in that
direction. These paragraphs have, doubtless, been good advertising for
your magazine, and, in a way, for you. But, on the other hand, they have
given a false impression of you. Men have taken these paragraphs
seriously and they think of you as the man pictured in them. It's a
fact; I know. It's all right after they meet you and get your measure.
The joke then is on them. Four of the men I fairly dragged to the dinner
this evening said this to me just before I left. That is one reason why
I advise you to keep on lecturing. Get around and show yourself, and
correct this universal impression. Not that you can't stand when men
think of you, but it's unpleasant."

It was unpleasant, but Bok decided that the solution as found in
lecturing was worse than the misconception. From that day to this he
never lectured again.

But the public conception of himself, especially that of men, awakened
his interest and amusement. Some of his friends on the press were still
busy with their paragraphs, and he promptly called a halt and asked them
to desist. "Enough was as good as a feast," he told them, and explained
why.

One day Bok got a distinctly amusing line on himself from a chance
stranger. He was riding from Washington to Philadelphia in the smoking
compartment, when the newsboy stuck his head in the door and yelled:
"Ladies' Home Journal, out to-day." He had heard this many times before;
but on this particular day, upon hearing the title of his own magazine
yelled almost in his ears, he gave an involuntary start.

Opposite to him sat a most companionable young fellow, who, noticing
Bok's start, leaned over and with a smile said: "I know, I know just how
you feel. That's the way I feel whenever I hear the name of that damned
magazine. Here, boy," he called to the retreating magazine-carrier,
"give me a copy of that Ladies' Home Disturber: I might as well buy it
here as in the station."

Then to Bok: "Honest, if I don't bring home that sheet on the day it is
out, the wife is in a funk. She runs her home by it literally. Same with
you?"

"The same," answered Bok. "As a matter of fact, in our family, we live
by it, on it, and from it."

Bok's neighbor, of course, couldn't get the real point of this, but he
thought he had it.

"Exactly," he replied. "So do we. That fellow Bok certainly has the
women buffaloed for good. Ever see him?"

"Oh, yes," answered Bok.

"Live in Philadelphia?"

"Yes."

"There's where the thing is published, all right. What does Bok look
like?"

"Oh," answered Bok carelessly, "just like, well, like all of us. In
fact, he looks something like me."

"Does he, now?" echoed the man. "Shouldn't think it would make you very
proud!"

And, the train pulling in at Baltimore, Bok's genial neighbor sent him a
hearty good-bye and ran out with the much-maligned magazine under his
arm!

He had an occasion or two now to find out what women thought of him!

He was leaving the publication building one evening after office hours
when just as he opened the front door, a woman approached. Bok explained
that the building was closed.

"Well, I am sorry," said the woman in a dejected tone, "for I don't
think I can manage to come again."

"Is there anything I can do?" asked Bok. "I am employed here."

"No-o," said the woman. "I came to see Mr. Curtis on a personal matter."

"I shall see him this evening," suggested Bok, "and can give him a
message for you if you like."

"Well, I don't know if you can. I came to complain to him about Mr.
Bok," announced the woman.

"Oh, well," answered Bok, with a slight start at the matter-of-fact
announcement, "that is serious; quite serious. If you will explain your
complaint, I will surely see that it gets to Mr. Curtis."

Bok's interest grew.

"Well, you see," said the woman, "it is this way. I live in a
three-family flat. Here is my name and card," and a card came out of a
bag. "I subscribe to The Ladies' Home Journal. It is delivered at my
house each month by Mr. Bok. Now I have told that man three times over
that when he delivers the magazine, he must ring the bell twice. But he
just persists in ringing once and then that cat who lives on the first
floor gets my magazine, reads it, and keeps it sometimes for three days
before I get it! Now, I want Mr. Curtis to tell Mr. Bok that he must do
as I ask and ring the bell twice. Can you give him that message for me?
There's no use talking to Mr. Bok; I've done that, as I say."

And Bok solemnly assured his subscriber that he would!

Bok's secretary told him one day that there was in the outer office the
most irate woman he had ever tried to handle; that he had tried for half
an hour to appease her, but it was of no use. She threatened to remain
until Bok admitted her, and see him she would, and tell him exactly what
she thought of him. The secretary looked as if he had been through a
struggle. "It's hopeless," he said. "Will you see her?"

"Certainly," said Bok. "Show her in."

The moment the woman came in, she began a perfect torrent of abuse. Bok
could not piece out, try as he might, what it was all about. But he did
gather from the explosion that the woman considered him a hypocrite who
wrote one thing and did another; that he was really a thief, stealing a
woman's money, and so forth. There was no chance of a word for fully
fifteen minutes and then, when she was almost breathless, Bok managed to
ask if his caller would kindly tell him just what he had done.

Another torrent of incoherent abuse came forth, but after a while it
became apparent that the woman's complaint was that she had sent a
dollar for a subscription to The Ladies' Home Journal; had never had a
copy of the magazine, had complained, and been told there was no record
of the money being received. And as she had sent her subscription to Bok
personally, he had purloined the dollar!

It was fully half an hour before Bok could explain to the irate woman
that he never remembered receiving a letter from her; that
subscriptions, even when personally addressed to him, did not come to
his desk, etc.; that if she would leave her name and address he would
have the matter investigated. Absolutely unconvinced that anything would
be done, and unaltered in her opinion about Bok, the woman finally left.

Two days later a card was handed in to the editor with a note asking him
to see for a moment the husband of his irate caller. When the man came
in, he looked sheepish and amused in turn, and finally said:

"I hardly know what to say, because I don't know what my wife said to
you. But if what she said to me is any index of her talk with you, I
want to apologize for her most profoundly. She isn't well, and we shall
both have to let it go at that. As for her subscription, you, of course,
never received it, for, with difficulty, I finally extracted the fact
from her that she pinned a dollar bill to a postal card and dropped it
in a street postal box. And she doesn't yet see that she has done
anything extraordinary, or that she had a faith in Uncle Sam that I call
sublime."

The Journal had been calling the attention of its readers to the
defacement of the landscape by billboard advertisers. One day on his way
to New York he found himself sitting in a sleeping-car section opposite
a woman and her daughter.

The mother was looking at the landscape when suddenly she commented:

"There are some of those ugly advertising signs that Mr. Bok says are
such a defacement to the landscape. I never noticed them before, but he
is right, and I am going to write and tell him so."

"Oh, mamma, don't," said the girl. "That man is pampered enough by
women. Don't make him worse. Ethel says he is now the vainest man in
America."

Bok's eyes must have twinkled, and just then the mother looked at him,
caught his eye; she gave a little gasp, and Bok saw that she had
telepathically discovered him!

He smiled, raised his hat, presented his card to the mother, and said:
"Excuse me, but I do want to defend myself from that last statement, if
I may. I couldn't help overhearing it."

The mother, a woman of the world, read the name on the card quickly and
smiled, but the daughter's face was a study as she leaned over and
glanced at the card. She turned scarlet and then white.

"Now, do tell me," asked Bok of the daughter, "who 'Ethel' is, so that I
may try at least to prove that I am not what she thinks."

The daughter was completely flustered. For the rest of the journey,
however, the talk was informal; the girl became more at ease, and Bok
ended by dining with the mother and daughter at their hotel that
evening.

But he never found out "Ethel's" other name!

There were curiously amusing sides to a man's editorship of a woman's
magazine!



XXIX. An Excursion into the Feminine Nature


The strangling hold which the Paris couturiers had secured on the
American woman in their absolute dictation as to her fashions in dress,
had interested Edward Bok for some time. As he studied the question, he
was constantly amazed at the audacity with which these French
dressmakers and milliners, often themselves of little taste and scant
morals, cracked the whip, and the docility with which the American woman
blindly and unintelligently danced to their measure. The deeper he went
into the matter, too, the more deceit and misrepresentation did he find
in the situation. It was inconceivable that the American woman should
submit to what was being imposed upon her if she knew the facts. He
determined that she should. The process of Americanization going on
within him decided him to expose the Paris conditions and advocate and
present American-designed fashions for women.

The Journal engaged the best-informed woman in Paris frankly to lay open
the situation to the American women; she proved that the designs sent
over by the so-called Paris arbiters of fashion were never worn by the
Frenchwoman of birth and good taste; that they were especially designed
and specifically intended for "the bizarre American trade," as one
polite Frenchman called it; and that the only women in Paris who wore
these grotesque and often immoderate styles were of the demimonde.

This article was the opening gun of the campaign, and this was quickly
followed by a second equally convincing--both articles being written
from the inside of the gilded circles of the couturiers' shops. Madame
Sarah Bernhardt was visiting the United States at the time, and Bok
induced the great actress to verify the statements printed. She went
farther and expressed amazement at the readiness with which the American
woman had been duped; and indicated her horror on seeing American women
of refined sensibilities and position dressed in the gowns of the
_déclassé_ street-women of Paris. The somewhat sensational nature of the
articles attracted the attention of the American newspapers, which
copied and commented on them; the gist of them was cabled over to Paris,
and, of course, the Paris couturiers denied the charges. But their
denials were in general terms; and no convincing proof of the falsity of
the charges was furnished. The French couturier simply resorted to a
shrug of the shoulder and a laugh, implying that the accusations were
beneath his notice.

Bok now followed the French models of dresses and millinery to the
United States, and soon found that for every genuine Parisian model sold
in the large cities at least ten were copies, made in New York shops,
but with the labels of the French dressmakers and milliners sewed on
them. He followed the labels to their source, and discovered a firm one
of whose specialties was the making of these labels bearing the names of
the leading French designers. They were manufactured by the gross, and
sold in bundles to the retailers. Bok secured a list of the buyers of
these labels and found that they represented some of the leading
merchants throughout the country. All these facts he published. The
retailers now sprang up in arms and denied the charges, but again the
denials were in general terms. Bok had the facts and they knew it. These
facts were too specific and too convincing to be controverted.

The editor had now presented a complete case before the women of America
as to the character of the Paris-designed fashions and the manner in
which women were being hoodwinked in buying imitations.

Meanwhile, he had engaged the most expert designers in the world of
women's dress and commissioned them to create American designs. He sent
one of his editors to the West to get first-hand motifs from Indian
costumes and adapt them as decorative themes for dress embroideries.
Three designers searched the Metropolitan Museum for new and artistic
ideas, and he induced his company to install a battery of four-color
presses in order that the designs might be given in all the beauty of
their original colors. For months designers and artists worked; he had
the designs passed upon by a board of judges composed of New York women
who knew good clothes, and then he began their publication.

The editor of The New York Times asked Bok to conduct for that newspaper
a prize contest for the best American-designed dresses and hats, and
edit a special supplement presenting them in full colors, the prizes to
be awarded by a jury of six of the leading New York women best versed in
matters of dress. Hundreds of designs were submitted, the best were
selected, and the supplement issued under the most successful auspices.

In his own magazine, Bok published pages of American-designed fashions:
their presence in the magazine was advertised far and wide; conventions
of dressmakers were called to consider the salability of
domestic-designed fashions; and a campaign with the slogan "American
Fashions for American Women" was soon in full swing.

But there it ended. The women looked the designs over with interest, as
they did all designs of new clothes, and paid no further attention to
them. The very fact that they were of American design prejudiced the
women against them. America never had designed good clothes, they
argued: she never would. Argument availed naught. The Paris germ was
deep-rooted in the feminine mind of America: the women acknowledged that
they were, perhaps, being hoodwinked by spurious French dresses and
hats; that the case presented by Bok seemed convincing enough, but the
temptation to throw a coat over a sofa or a chair to expose a Parisian
label to the eyes of some other woman was too great; there was always a
gambling chance that her particular gown, coat, or hat was an actual
Paris creation.

Bok called upon the American woman to come out from under the yoke of
the French couturiers, show her patriotism, and encourage American
design. But it was of no use. He talked with women on every hand; his
mail was full of letters commending him for his stand; but as for actual
results, there were none. One of his most intelligent woman-friends
finally summed up the situation for him:

"You can rail against the Paris domination all you like; you can expose
it for the fraud that it is, and we know that it is; but it is all to no
purpose, take my word. When it comes to the question of her personal
adornment, a woman employs no reason; she knows no logic. She knows that
the adornment of her body is all that she has to match the other woman
and outdo her, and to attract the male, and nothing that you can say
will influence her a particle. I know this all seems incomprehensible to
you as a man, but that is the feminine nature. You are trying to fight
something that is unfightable."

"Has the American woman no instinct of patriotism, then?" asked Bok.

"Not the least," was the answer, "when it comes to her adornment. What
Paris says, she will do, blindly and unintelligently if you will, but
she will do it. She will sacrifice her patriotism; she will even justify
a possible disregard of the decencies. Look at the present Parisian
styles. They are absolutely indecent. Women know it, but they follow
them just the same, and they will. It is all very unpleasant to say
this, but it is the truth and you will find it out. Your effort, fine as
it is, will bear no fruit."

Wherever Bok went, women upon whose judgment he felt he could rely, told
him, in effect, the same thing. They were all regretful, in some cases
ashamed of their sex, universally apologetic; but one and all declared
that such is "the feminine nature," and Bok would only have his trouble
for nothing.

And so it proved. For a period, the retail shops were more careful in
the number of genuine French models of gowns and hats which they
exhibited, and the label firm confessed that its trade had fallen off.
But this was only temporary. Within a year after The Journal stopped the
campaign, baffled and beaten, the trade in French labels was greater
than ever, hundreds of French models were sold that had never crossed
the ocean, the American woman was being hoodwinked on every hand, and
the reign of the French couturier was once more supreme.

There was no disguising the fact that the case was hopeless, and Bok
recognized and accepted the inevitable. He had, at least, the
satisfaction of having made an intelligent effort to awaken the American
woman to her unintelligent submission. But she refused to be awakened.
She preferred to be a tool: to be made a fool of.

Bok's probe into the feminine nature had been keenly disappointing. He
had earnestly tried to serve the American woman, and he had failed. But
he was destined to receive a still greater and deeper disappointment on
his next excursion into the feminine nature, although, this time, he was
to win.

During his investigations into women's fashions, he had unearthed the
origin of the fashionable aigrette, the most desired of all the
feathered possessions of womankind. He had been told of the cruel
torture of the mother-heron, who produced the beautiful aigrette only in
her period of maternity and who was cruelly slaughtered, usually left to
die slowly rather than killed, leaving her whole nest of baby-birds to
starve while they awaited the return of the mother-bird.

Bok was shown the most heart-rending photographs portraying the butchery
of the mother and the starvation of her little ones. He collected all
the photographs that he could secure, had the most graphic text written
to them, and began their publication. He felt certain that the mere
publication of the frightfully convincing photographs would be enough to
arouse the mother-instinct in every woman and stop the wearing of the
so-highly prized feather. But for the second time in his attempt to
reform the feminine nature he reckoned beside the mark.

He published a succession of pages showing the frightful cost at which
the aigrette was secured. There was no challenging the actual facts as
shown by the photographic lens: the slaughter of the mother-bird, and
the starving baby-birds; and the importers of the feather wisely
remained quiet, not attempting to answer Bok's accusations. Letters
poured in upon the editor from Audubon Society workers; from lovers of
birds, and from women filled with the humanitarian instinct. But Bok
knew that the answer was not with those few: the solution lay with the
larger circle of American womanhood from which he did not hear.

He waited for results. They came. But they were not those for which he
had striven. After four months of his campaign, he learned from the
inside of the importing-houses which dealt in the largest stocks of
aigrettes in the United States that the demand for the feather had more
than quadrupled! Bok was dumbfounded! He made inquiries in certain
channels from which he knew he could secure the most reliable
information, and after all the importers had been interviewed, the
conviction was unescapable that just in proportion as Bok had dwelt upon
the desirability of the aigrette as the hallmark of wealth and fashion,
upon its expense, and the fact that women regarded it as the last word
in feminine adornment, he had by so much made these facts familiar to
thousands of women who had never before known of them, and had created
the desire to own one of the precious feathers.

Bok could not and would not accept these conclusions. It seemed to him
incredible that women would go so far as this in the question of
personal adornment. He caused the increased sales to be traced from
wholesaler to retailer, and from retailer to customer, and was amazed at
the character and standing of the latter. He had a number of those
buyers who lived in adjacent cities, privately approached and
interviewed, and ascertained that, save in two instances, they were all
his readers, had seen the gruesome pictures he had presented, and then
had deliberately purchased the coveted aigrette.

Personally again he sought the most intelligent of his woman-friends,
talked with scores of others, and found himself facing the same trait in
feminine nature which he had encountered in his advocacy of American
fashions. But this time it seemed to Bok that the facts he had presented
went so much deeper.

"It will be hard for you to believe," said one of his most trusted
woman-friends. "I grant your arguments: there is no gainsaying them. But
you are fighting the same thing again that you do not understand: the
feminine nature that craves outer adornment will secure it at any cost,
even at the cost of suffering."

"Yes," argued Bok. "But if there is one thing above everything else that
we believe a woman feels and understands, it is the mother-instinct. Do
you mean to tell me that it means nothing to her that these birds are
killed in their period of motherhood, and that a whole nest of starving
baby-birds is the price of every aigrette?"

"I won't say that this does not weigh with a woman. It does, naturally.
But when it comes to her possession of an ornament of beauty, as
beautiful as the aigrette, it weighs with her, but it doesn't tip the
scale against her possession of it. I am sorry to have to say this to
you, but it is a fact. A woman will regret that the mother-bird must be
tortured and her babies starve, but she will have the aigrette. She
simply trains herself to forget the origin.

"Take my own case. You will doubtless be shocked when I tell you that I
was perfectly aware of the conditions under which the aigrette is
obtained before you began your exposure of the method. But did it
prevent my purchase of one? Not at all. Why? Because I am a woman: I
realize that no head ornament will set off my hair so well as an
aigrette. Say I am cruel if you like. I wish the heron-mother didn't
have to be killed or the babies starve, but, Mr. Bok, I must have my
beautiful aigrette!"

Bok was frankly astounded: he had certainly probed deep this time into
the feminine nature. With every desire and instinct to disbelieve the
facts, the deeper his inquiries went, the stronger the evidence rolled
up: there was no gainsaying it; no sense in a further disbelief of it.

But Bok was determined that this time he would not fail. His sense of
justice and protection to the mother-bird and her young was now fully
aroused. He resolved that he would, by compulsion, bring about what he
had failed to do by persuasion. He would make it impossible for women to
be untrue to their most sacred instinct. He sought legal talent, had a
bill drawn up making it a misdemeanor to import, sell, purchase, or wear
an aigrette. Armed with this measure, and the photographs and articles
which he had published, he sought and obtained the interest and promise
of support of the most influential legislators in several States. He
felt a sense of pride in his own sex that he had no trouble in winning
the immediate interest of every legislator with whom he talked.

Where he had failed with women, he was succeeding with men! The
outrageous butchery of the birds and the circumstances under which they
were tortured appealed with direct force to the sporting instinct in
every man, and aroused him. Bok explained to each that he need expect no
support for such a measure from women save from the members of the
Audubon Societies, and a few humanitarian women and bird-lovers. Women,
as a whole, he argued from his experiences, while they would not go so
far as openly to oppose such a measure, for fear of public comment,
would do nothing to further its passage, for in their hearts they
preferred failure to success for the legislation. They had frankly told
him so: he was not speaking from theory.

In one State after another Bok got into touch with legislators. He
counselled, in each case, a quiet passage for the measure instead of one
that would draw public attention to it.

Meanwhile, a strong initiative had come from the Audubon Societies
throughout the country, and from the National Association of Audubon
Societies, at New York. This latter society also caused to be introduced
bills of its own to the same and in various legislatures, and here Bok
had a valuable ally. It was a curious fact that the Audubon officials
encountered their strongest resistance in Bok's own State: Pennsylvania.
But Bok's personal acquaintance with legislators in his Keystone State
helped here materially.

The demand for the aigrette constantly increased and rose to hitherto
unknown figures. In one State where Bok's measure was pending before the
legislature, he heard of the coming of an unusually large shipment of
aigrettes to meet this increased demand. He wired the legislator in
charge of the measure apprising him of this fact, of what he intended to
do, and urging speed in securing the passage of the bill. Then he caused
the shipment to be seized at the dock on the ground of illegal
importation.

The importing firm at once secured an injunction restraining the
seizure. Bok replied by serving a writ setting the injunction aside. The
lawyers of the importers got busy, of course, but meanwhile the
legislator had taken advantage of a special evening session, had the
bill passed, and induced the governor to sign it, the act taking effect
at once.

This was exactly what Bok had been playing for. The aigrettes were now
useless; they could not be reshipped to another State, they could not be
offered for sale. The suit was dropped, and Bok had the satisfaction of
seeing the entire shipment, valued at $160,000, destroyed. He had not
saved the lives of the mother-birds, but, at least, he had prevented
hundreds of American women from wearing the hallmark of torture.

State after State now passed an aigrette-prohibition law until fourteen
of the principal States, including practically all the large cities,
fell into line.

Later, the National Association of Audubon Societies had introduced into
the United States Congress and passed a bill prohibiting the importation
of bird-feathers into the country, thus bringing a Federal law into
existence.

Bok had won his fight, it is true, but he derived little satisfaction
from the character of his victory. His ideal of womanhood had received a
severe jolt. Women had revealed their worst side to him, and he did not
like the picture. He had appealed to what he had been led to believe was
the most sacred instinct in a woman's nature. He received no response.
Moreover, he saw the deeper love for personal vanity and finery
absolutely dominate the mother-instinct. He was conscious that something
had toppled off its pedestal which could never be replaced.

He was aware that his mother's words, when he accepted his editorial
position, were coming terribly true: "I am sorry you are going to take
this position. It will cost you the high ideal you have always held of
your mother's sex. But a nature, as is the feminine nature, wholly
swayed inwardly by emotion, and outwardly influenced by an insatiate
love for personal adornment, will never stand the analysis you will give
it."

He realized that he was paying a high price for his success. Such
experiences as these--and, unfortunately, they were only two of
several--were doubtless in his mind when, upon his retirement, the
newspapers clamored for his opinions of women. "No, thank you," he said
to one and all, "not a word."

He did not give his reasons.

He never will.



XXX. Cleaning Up the Patent-Medicine and Other Evils


In 1892 The Ladies' Home Journal announced that it would thereafter
accept no advertisements of patent medicines for its pages. It was a
pioneer stroke. During the following two years, seven other newspapers
and periodicals followed suit. The American people were slaves to
self-medication, and the patent-medicine makers had it all their own
way. There was little or no legal regulation as to the ingredients in
their nostrums; the mails were wide open to their circulars, and the
pages of even the most reputable periodicals welcomed their
advertisements. The patent-medicine business in the United States ran
into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The business is still
large; then it was enormous.

Into this army of deceit and spurious medicines, The Ladies' Home
Journal fired the first gun. Neither the public nor the patent-medicine
people paid much attention to the first attacks. But as they grew, and
the evidence multiplied, the public began to comment and the nostrum
makers began to get uneasy.

The magazine attacked the evil from every angle. It aroused the public
by showing the actual contents of some of their pet medicines, or the
absolute worthlessness of them. The Editor got the Women's Christian
Temperance Union into action against the periodicals for publishing
advertisements of medicines containing as high as forty per cent
alcohol. He showed that the most confidential letters written by women
with private ailments were opened by young clerks of both sexes, laughed
at and gossiped over, and that afterward their names and addresses,
which they had been told were held in the strictest confidence, were
sold to other lines of business for five cents each. He held the
religious press up to the scorn of church members for accepting
advertisements which the publishers knew and which he proved to be not
only fraudulent, but actually harmful. He called the United States Post
Office authorities to account for accepting and distributing obscene
circular matter.

He cut an advertisement out of a newspaper which ended with the
statement:

"Mrs. Pinkham, in her laboratory at Lynn, Massachusetts, is able to do
more for the ailing women of America than the family physician. Any
woman, therefore, is responsible for her own suffering who will not take
the trouble to write to Mrs. Pinkham for advice."

Next to this advertisement representing Mrs. Lydia Pinkham as "in her
laboratory," Bok simply placed the photograph of Mrs. Pinkham's
tombstone in Pine Grove Cemetery, at Lynn, showing that Mrs. Pinkham had
passed away twenty-two years before!

It was one of the most effective pieces of copy that the magazine used
in the campaign. It told its story with absolute simplicity, but with
deadly force.

The proprietors of "Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup" had strenuously
denied the presence of morphine in their preparation. Bok simply bought
a bottle of the syrup in London, where, under the English Pharmacy Act,
the authorities compelled the proprietors of the syrup to affix the
following declaration on each bottle: "This preparation, containing,
among other valuable ingredients, a small amount of morphine is, in
accordance with the Pharmacy Act, hereby labelled 'Poison!'" The
magazine published a photograph of the label, and it told its own
convincing story. It is only fair to say that the makers of this remedy
now publish their formula.

Bok now slipped a cog in his machinery. He published a list of
twenty-seven medicines, by name, and told what they contained. One
preparation, he said, contained alcohol, opium, and digitalis. He
believed he had been extremely careful in this list. He had consulted
the highest medical authorities, physicians, and chemists. But in the
instance of the one preparation referred to above he was wrong.

The analysis had been furnished by the secretary of the State Board of
Health of Massachusetts; a recognized expert, who had taken it from the
analysis of a famous German chemist. It was in nearly every standard
medical authority, and was accepted by the best medical authorities. Bok
accepted these authorities as final. Nevertheless, the analysis and the
experts were wrong. A suit for two hundred thousand dollars was brought
by the patent-medicine company against The Curtis Publishing Company,
and, of course, it was decided in favor of the former. But so strong a
public sentiment had been created against the whole business of patent
medicines by this time that the jury gave a verdict of only sixteen
thousand dollars, with costs, against the magazine.

Undaunted, Bok kept on. He now engaged Mark Sullivan, then a young
lawyer in downtown New York, induced him to give up his practice, and
bring his legal mind to bear upon the problem. It was the beginning of
Sullivan's subsequent journalistic career, and he justified Bok's
confidence in him. He exposed the testimonials to patent medicines from
senators and congressmen then so widely published, showed how they were
obtained by a journalist in Washington who made a business of it. He
charged seventy-five dollars for a senator's testimonial, forty dollars
for that of a congressman, and accepted no contract for less than five
thousand dollars.

Sullivan next exposed the disgraceful violation of the confidence of
women by these nostrum vendors in selling their most confidential
letters to any one who would buy them. Sullivan himself bought thousands
of these letters and names, and then wrote about them in the magazine.
One prominent firm indignantly denied the charge, asserting that
whatever others might have done, their names were always held sacred. In
answer to this declaration Sullivan published an advertisement of this
righteous concern offering fifty thousand of their names for sale.

Bok had now kept up the fight for over two years, and the results were
apparent on every hand. Reputable newspapers and magazines were closing
their pages to the advertisements of patent medicines; legislation was
appearing in several States; the public had been awakened to the fraud
practised upon it, and a Federal Pure Food and Drug Act was beginning to
be talked about.

Single-handed, The Ladies' Home Journal kept up the fight until Mark
Sullivan produced an unusually strong article, but too legalistic for
the magazine. He called the attention of Norman Hapgood, then editor of
Collier's Weekly, to it, who accepted it at once, and, with Bok's
permission, engaged Sullivan, who later succeeded Hapgood as editor of
Collier's. Robert J. Collier now brought Samuel Hopkins Adams to Bok's
attention and asked the latter if he should object if Collier's Weekly
joined him in his fight. The Philadelphia editor naturally welcomed the
help of the weekly, and Adams began his wonderfully effective campaign.

The weekly and the monthly now pounded away together; other periodicals
and newspapers, seeing success ahead, and desiring to be part of it and
share the glory, came into the conflict, and it was not long before so
strong a public sentiment had been created as to bring about the passage
of the United States Food and Drug Act, and the patent-medicine business
of the United States had received a blow from which it has never
recovered. To-day the pages of every newspaper and periodical of
recognized standing are closed to the advertisements of patent
medicines; the Drug Act regulates the ingredients, and post office
officials scan the literature sent through the United States mails.

There are distinct indications that the time has come once more to scan
the patent-medicine horizon carefully, but the conditions existing in
1920 are radically different from those prevailing in 1904.

One day when Bok was at luncheon with Doctor Lyman Abbott, the latter
expressed the wish that Bok would take up the subject of venereal
disease as he had the patent-medicine question.

"Not our question," answered Bok.

"It is most decidedly your question," was the reply.

Bok cherished the highest regard for Doctor Abbott's opinion and
judgment, and this positive declaration amazed him.

"Read up on the subject," counselled Doctor Abbott, "and you will find
that the evil has its direct roots in the home with the parents. You
will agree with me before you go very far that it is your question."

Bok began to read on the unsavory subject. It was exceedingly unpleasant
reading, but for two years Bok persisted, only to find that Doctor
Abbott was right. The root of the evil lay in the reticence of parents
with children as to the mystery of life; boys and girls were going out
into the world blind-folded as to any knowledge of their physical
selves; "the bloom must not be rubbed off the peach," was the belief of
thousands of parents, and the results were appalling. Bok pursued his
investigations from books direct into the "Homes of Refuge," "Doors of
Hope," and similar institutions, and unearthed a condition, the direct
results of the false modesty of parents, that was almost unbelievable.

Bok had now all his facts, but realized that for his magazine, of all
magazines, to take up this subject would be like a bolt from the blue in
tens of thousands of homes. But this very fact, the unquestioned
position of the magazine, the remarkable respect which its readers had
for it, and the confidence with which parents placed the periodical on
their home tables--all this was, after all, Bok thought, the more reason
why he should take up the matter and thresh it out. He consulted with
friends, who advised against it; his editors were all opposed to the
introduction of the unsavory subject into the magazine.

"But it isn't unsavory," argued Bok. "That is just it. We have made it
so by making it mysterious, by surrounding it with silence, by making it
a forbidden topic. It is the most beautiful story in life."

Mr. Curtis, alone, encouraged his editor. Was he sure he was right? If
he was, why not go ahead? Bok called his attention to the fact that a
heavy loss in circulation was a foregone conclusion; he could calculate
upon one hundred thousand subscribers, at least, stopping the magazine.
"It is a question of right," answered the publisher, "not of
circulation."

And so, in 1906, with the subject absolutely prohibited in every
periodical and newspaper of standing, never discussed at a public
gathering save at medical meetings, Bok published his first editorial.

The readers of his magazine fairly gasped; they were dumb with
astonishment! The Ladies' Home Journal, of all magazines, to discuss
such a subject! When they had recovered from their astonishment, the
parents began to write letters, and one morning Bok was confronted with
a large waste-basket full brought in by his two office boys.

"Protests," laconically explained one of his editors. "More than that,
the majority threaten to stop their subscription unless you stop."

"All right, that proves I am right," answered Bok. "Write to each one
and say that what I have written is nothing as compared in frankness to
what is coming, and that we shall be glad to refund the unfulfilled part
of their subscriptions."

Day after day, thousands of letters came in. The next issue contained
another editorial, stronger than the first. Bok explained that he would
not tell the actual story of the beginning of life in the magazine--that
was the prerogative of the parents, and he had no notion of taking it
away from either; but that he meant to insist upon putting their duty
squarely up to them, that he realized it was a long fight, hence the
articles to come would be many and continued; and that those of his
readers who did not believe in his policy had better stop the magazine
at once. But he reminded them that no solution of any question was ever
reached by running away from it. This question had to be faced some
time, and now was as good a time as any.

Thousands of subscriptions were stopped; advertisements gave notice that
they would cancel their accounts; the greatest pressure was placed upon
Mr. Curtis to order his editor to cease, and Bok had the grim experience
of seeing his magazine, hitherto proclaimed all over the land as a model
advocate of the virtues, refused admittance into thousands of homes, and
saw his own friends tear the offending pages out of the periodical
before it was allowed to find a place on their home-tables.

But The Journal kept steadily on. Number after number contained some
article on the subject, and finally such men and women as Jane Addams,
Cardinal Gibbons, Margaret Deland, Henry van Dyke, President Eliot, the
Bishop of London, braved the public storm, came to Bok's aid, and wrote
articles for his magazine heartily backing up his lonely fight.

The public, seeing this array of distinguished opinion expressing
itself, began to wonder "whether there might not be something in what
Bok was saying, after all." At the end of eighteen months, inquiries
began to take the place of protests; and Bok knew then that the fight
was won. He employed two experts, one man and one woman, to answer the
inquiries, and he had published a series of little books, each written
by a different author on a different aspect of the question.

This series was known as The Edward Bok Books. They sold for twenty-five
cents each, without profit to either editor or publisher. The series
sold into the tens of thousands. Information was, therefore, to be had,
in authoritative form, enabling every parent to tell the story to his or
her child. Bok now insisted that every parent should do this, and
announced that he intended to keep at the subject until the parents did.
He explained that the magazine had lost about seventy-five thousand
subscribers, and that it might just as well lose some more; but that the
insistence should go on.

Slowly but surely the subject became a debatable one. Where, when Bok
began, the leading prophylactic society in New York could not secure
five speaking dates for its single lecturer during a session, it was now
put to it to find open dates for over ten speakers. Mothers' clubs,
women's clubs, and organizations of all kinds clamored for authoritative
talks; here and there a much-veiled article apologetically crept into
print, and occasionally a progressive school board or educational
institution experimented with a talk or two.

The Ladies' Home Journal published a full-page editorial declaring that
seventy of every one hundred special surgical operations on women were
directly or indirectly the result of one cause; that sixty of every one
hundred new-born blinded babies were blinded soon after birth from this
same cause; and that every man knew what this cause was!

Letters from men now began to pour in by the hundreds. With an oath on
nearly every line, they told him that their wives, daughters, sisters,
or mothers had demanded to know this cause, and that they had to tell
them. Bok answered these heated men and told them that was exactly why
the Journal had published the editorial, and that in the next issue
there would be another for those women who might have missed his first.
He insisted that the time had come when women should learn the truth,
and that, so far as it lay in his power, he intended to see that they
did know.

The tide of public opinion at last turned toward The Ladies' Home
Journal and its campaign. Women began to realize that it had a case;
that it was working for their best interests and for those of their
children, and they decided that the question might as well be faced. Bok
now felt that his part in the work was done. He had started something
well on its way; the common sense of the public must do the rest. He had
taken the question of natural life, and stripped it of its false mystery
in the minds of hundreds of thousands of young people; had started their
inquiring minds; had shown parents the way; had made a forbidden topic a
debatable subject, discussed in open gatherings, by the press, an
increasing number of books, and in schools and colleges. He dropped the
subject, only to take up one that was more or less akin to it.

That was the public drinking-cup. Here was a distinct menace that actual
examples and figures showed was spreading the most loathsome diseases
among innocent children. In 1908, he opened up the subject by ruthlessly
publishing photographs that were unpleasantly but tremendously
convincing. He had now secured the confidence of his vast public, who
listened attentively to him when he spoke on an unpleasant topic; and
having learned from experience that he would simply keep on until he got
results, his readers decided that this time they would act quickly. So
quick a result was hardly ever achieved in any campaign. Within six
months legislation all over the country was introduced or enacted
prohibiting the common drinking-cup in any public gathering-place, park,
store, or theatre, and substituting the individual paper cup. Almost
over night, the germ-laden common drinking-cup, which had so widely
spread disease, disappeared; and in a number of States, the common
towel, upon Bok's insistence, met the same fate. Within a year, one of
the worst menaces to American life had been wiped out by public
sentiment.

Bok was now done with health measures for a while, and determined to see
what he could do with two or three civic questions that he felt needed
attention.



XXXI. Adventures in Civics


The electric power companies at Niagara Falls were beginning to draw so
much water from above the great Horseshoe Falls as to bring into
speculation the question of how soon America's greatest scenic asset
would be a coal-pile with a thin trickle of water crawling down its vast
cliffs. Already companies had been given legal permission to utilize
one-quarter of the whole flow, and additional companies were asking for
further grants. Permission for forty per cent of the whole volume of
water had been granted. J. Horace McFarland, as President of the
American Civic Association, called Bok's attention to the matter, and
urged him to agitate it through his magazine so that restrictive
legislation might be secured.

Bok went to Washington, conferred with President Roosevelt, and found
him cognizant of the matter in all its aspects.

"I can do nothing," said the President, "unless there is an awakened
public sentiment that compels action. Give me that, and I'll either put
the subject in my next message to Congress or send a special message.
I'm from Missouri on this point," continued the President. "Show me that
the American people want their Falls preserved, and I'll do the rest.
But I've got to be shown." Bok assured the President he could
demonstrate this to him.

The next number of his magazine presented a graphic picture of the
Horseshoe Falls as they were and the same Falls as they would be if more
water was allowed to be taken for power: a barren coal-pile with a tiny
rivulet of water trickling down its sides. The editorial asked whether
the American women were going to allow this? If not, each, if an
American, should write to the President, and, if a Canadian, to Earl
Grey, then Governor-General of Canada. Very soon after the magazine had
reached its subscribers' hands, the letters began to reach the White
House; not by dozens, as the President's secretary wrote to Bok, but by
the hundreds and then by the thousands. "Is there any way to turn this
spigot off?" telegraphed the President's secretary. "We are really being
inundated."

Bok went to Washington and was shown the huge pile of letters.

"All right," said the President. "That's all I want. You've proved it to
me that there is a public sentiment."

The clerks at Rideau Hall, at Ottawa, did not know what had happened one
morning when the mail quadrupled in size and thousands of protests came
to Earl Grey. He wired the President, the President exchanged views with
the governor-general, and the great international campaign to save
Niagara Falls had begun. The American Civic Association and scores of
other civic and patriotic bodies had joined in the clamor.

The attorney-general and the secretary of state were instructed by the
President to look into the legal and diplomatic aspects of the question,
and in his next message to Congress President Roosevelt uttered a
clarion call to that body to restrict the power-grabbing companies.

The Ladies' Home Journal urged its readers to write to their congressmen
and they did by the thousands. Every congressman and senator was
overwhelmed. As one senator said: "I have never seen such an avalanche.
But thanks to The Ladies' Home Journal, I have received these hundreds
of letters from my constituents; they have told me what they want done,
and they are mostly from those of my people whose wishes I am bound to
respect."

The power companies, of course, promptly sent their attorneys and
lobbyists to Washington; but the public sentiment aroused was too strong
to be disregarded, and on June 29, 1906, the President signed the Burton
Bill restricting the use of the water of Niagara Falls.

The matter was then referred to the secretary of war, William Howard
Taft, to grant the use of such volume of water as would preserve the
beauty of the Falls. McFarland and Bok wanted to be sure that Secretary
Taft felt the support of public opinion, for his policy was to be
conservative, and tremendous pressure was being brought upon him from
every side to permit a more liberal use of water. Bok turned to his
readers and asked them to write to Secretary Taft and assure him of the
support of the American women in his attitude of conservatism.

The flood of letters that descended upon the secretary almost taxed even
his genial nature; and when Mr. McFarland, as the editorial
representative of The Ladies' Home Journal, arose to speak at the public
hearing in Washington, the secretary said: "I can assure you that you
don't have to say very much. Your case has already been pleaded for you
by, I should say at the most conservative estimate, at least one hundred
thousand women. Why, I have had letters from even my wife and my
mother."

Secretary Taft adhered to his conservative policy, Sir Wilfred Laurier,
premier of Canada, met the overtures of Secretary of State Root, a new
international document was drawn up, and Niagara Falls had been saved to
the American people.

In 1905 and in previous years the casualties resulting from fireworks on
the Fourth of July averaged from five to six thousand each year. The
humorous weekly Life and The Chicago Tribune had been for some time
agitating a restricted use of fireworks on the national fete day, but
nevertheless the list of casualties kept creeping to higher figures. Bok
decided to help by arousing the parents of America, in whose hands,
after all, lay the remedy. He began a series of articles in the
magazine, showing what had happened over a period of years, the
criminality of allowing so many young lives to be snuffed out, and
suggested how parents could help by prohibiting the deadly firecrackers
and cannon, and how organizations could assist by influencing the
passing of city ordinances. Each recurring January, The Journal returned
to the subject, looking forward to the coming Fourth. It was a
deep-rooted custom to eradicate, and powerful influences, in the form of
thousands of small storekeepers, were at work upon local officials to
pay no heed to the agitation. Gradually public opinion changed. The
newspapers joined in the cry; women's organizations insisted upon action
from local municipal bodies.

Finally, the civic spirit in Cleveland, Ohio, forced the passage of a
city ordinance prohibiting the sale or use of fireworks on the Fourth.
The following year when Cleveland reported no casualties as compared to
an ugly list for the previous. Fourth, a distinct impression was made
upon other cities. Gradually, other municipalities took action, and year
by year the list of Fourth of July casualties grew perceptibly shorter.
New York City was now induced to join the list of prohibitive cities, by
a personal appeal made to its mayor by Bok, and on the succeeding Fourth
of July the city authorities, on behalf of the people of New York City,
conferred a gold medal upon Edward Bok for his services in connection
with the birth of the new Fourth in that city.

There still remains much to be done in cities as yet unawakened; but a
comparison of the list of casualties of 1920 with that of 1905 proves
the growth in enlightened public sentiment in fifteen years to have been
steadily increasing. It is an instance not of Bok taking the
initiative--that had already been taken--but of throwing the whole force
of the magazine with those working in the field to help. It is the
American woman who is primarily responsible for the safe and sane
Fourth, so far as it already exists in this country to-day, and it is
the American woman who can make it universal.

Mrs. Pennypacker, as president of The Federation of Women's Clubs, now
brought to Bok's attention the conditions under which the average rural
school-teacher lived; the suffering often entailed on her in having to
walk miles to the schoolhouse in wintry weather; the discomfort she had
to put up with in the farm-houses where she was compelled to live, with
the natural result, under those conditions, that it was almost
impossible to secure the services of capable teachers, or to have good
teaching even where efficient teachers were obtained.

Mrs. Pennypacker suggested that Bok undertake the creation of a public
sentiment for a residence for the teacher in connection with the
schoolhouse. The parson was given a parsonage; why not the teacher a
"teacherage"? The Journal co-operated with Mrs. Pennypacker and she
began the agitation of the subject in the magazine. She also spoke on
the subject wherever she went, and induced women's clubs all over the
country to join the magazine in its advocacy of the "teacherage."

By personal effort, several "teacherages" were established in connection
with new schoolhouses; photographs of these were published and sent
personally to school-boards all over the country; the members of women's
clubs saw to it that the articles were brought to the attention of
members of their local school-boards; and the now-generally accepted
idea that a "teacherage" must accompany a new schoolhouse was well on
its way to national recognition.

It only remains now for communities to install a visiting nurse in each
of these "teacherages" so that the teacher need not live in solitary
isolation, and that the health of the children at school can be looked
after at first hand. Then the nurse shall be at the call of every small
American community--particularly to be available in cases of childbirth,
since in these thinly settled districts it is too often impossible to
obtain the services of a physician, with the result of a high percentage
of fatalities to mothers that should not be tolerated by a wealthy and
progressive people. No American mother, at childbirth, should be denied
the assistance of professional skill, no matter how far she may live
from a physician. And here is where a visiting nurse in every community
can become an institution of inestimable value.

Just about this time a group of Philadelphia physicians, headed by
Doctor Samuel McClintock Hamill, which had formed itself into a hygienic
committee for babies, waited upon Bok to ask him to join them in the
creation of a permanent organization devoted to the welfare of babies
and children. Bok found that he was dealing with a company of
representative physicians, and helped to organize "The Child
Federation," an organization "to do good on a business basis."

It was to go to the heart of the problem of the baby in the congested
districts of Philadelphia, and do a piece of intensive work in the ward
having the highest infant mortality, establishing the first health
centre in the United States actively managed by competent physicians and
nurses. This centre was to demonstrate to the city authorities that the
fearful mortality among babies, particularly in summer, could be
reduced.

Meanwhile, there was created a "Baby Saving Show," a set of graphic
pictures conveying to the eye methods of sanitation and other too often
disregarded essentials of the wise care and feeding of babies; and this
travelled, like a theatrical attraction, to different parts of the city.
"Little Mothers' Leagues" were organized to teach the little girl of ten
or twelve, so often left in charge of a family of children when the
mother is at work during the day, and demonstrations were given in
various parts of the city.

The Child Federation now undertook one activity after the other. Under
its auspices, the first municipal Christmas tree ever erected in
Philadelphia was shown in the historic Independence Square, and with two
bands of music giving concerts every day from Christmas to New Year's
Day, attracted over two hundred thousand persons. A pavilion was erected
in City Hall Square, the most central spot in the city, and the "Baby
Saving Show" was permanently placed there and visited by over one
hundred thousand visitors from every part of the country on their way to
and from the Pennsylvania Station at Broad Street.

A searching investigation of the Day Nurseries of Philadelphia--probably
one of the most admirable pieces of research work ever made in a
city--changed the methods in vogue and became a standard guide for
similar institutions throughout the country. So successful were the
Little Mothers' Leagues that they were introduced into the public
schools of Philadelphia, and are to-day a regular part of the
curriculum. The Health Centre, its success being proved, was taken over
by the city Board of Health, and three others were established.

To-day The Child Federation is recognized as one of the most practically
conducted child welfare agencies in Philadelphia, and its methods have
been followed by similar organizations all over the country. It is now
rapidly becoming the central medium through which the other agencies in
Philadelphia are working, thus avoiding the duplication of infant
welfare work in the city. Broadening its scope, it is not unlikely to
become one of the greatest indirect influences in the welfare work of
Philadelphia and the vicinity, through which other organizations will be
able to work.

Bok's interest and knowledge in civic matters had now peculiarly
prepared him for a personal adventure into community work. Merion, where
he lived, was one of the most beautiful of the many suburbs that
surround the Quaker City; but, like hundreds of similar communities,
there had been developed in it no civic interest. Some of the most
successful business men of Philadelphia lived in Merion; they had
beautiful estates, which they maintained without regard to expense, but
also without regard to the community as a whole. They were busy men;
they came home tired after a day in the city; they considered themselves
good citizens if they kept their own places sightly, but the idea of
devoting their evenings to the problems of their community had never
occurred to them before the evening when two of Bok's neighbors called
to ask his help in forming a civic association.

A canvass of the sentiment of the neighborhood revealed the unanimous
opinion that the experiment, if attempted, would be a failure,--an
attitude not by any means confined to the residents of Merion! Bok
decided to test it out; he called together twenty of his neighbors, put
the suggestion before them and asked for two thousand dollars as a
start, so that a paid secretary might be engaged, since the men
themselves were too busy to attend to the details of the work. The
amount was immediately subscribed, and in 1913 The Merion Civic
Association applied for a charter and began its existence.

The leading men in the community were elected as a Board of Directors,
and a salaried secretary was engaged to carry out the directions of the
Board. The association adopted the motto: "To be nation right, and State
right, we must first be community right." Three objectives were selected
with which to attract community interest and membership: safety to life,
in the form of proper police protection; safety to property, in the form
of adequate hydrant and fire-engine service; and safety to health, in
careful supervision of the water and milk used in the community.

"The three S's," as they were called, brought an immediate response.
They were practical in their appeal, and members began to come in. The
police force was increased from one officer at night and none in the
day, to three at night and two during the day, and to this the
Association added two special night officers of its own. Private
detectives were intermittently brought in to "check up" and see that the
service was vigilant. A fire hydrant was placed within seven hundred
feet of every house, with the insurance rates reduced from twelve and
one-half to thirty per cent; the services of three fire-engine companies
was arranged for. Fire-gongs were introduced into the community to guard
against danger from interruption of telephone service. The water supply
was chemically analyzed each month and the milk supply carefully
scrutinized. One hundred and fifty new electric-light posts specially
designed, and pronounced by experts as the most beautiful and practical
road lamps ever introduced into any community, were erected, making
Merion the best-lighted community in its vicinity.

At every corner was erected an artistically designed cast-iron road
sign; instead of the unsightly wooden ones, cast-iron automobile
warnings were placed at every dangerous spot; community bulletin-boards,
preventing the display of notices on trees and poles, were placed at the
railroad station; litter-cans were distributed over the entire
community; a new railroad station and post-office were secured; the
station grounds were laid out as a garden by a landscape architect; new
roads of permanent construction, from curb to curb, were laid down;
uniform tree-planting along the roads was introduced; bird-houses were
made and sold, so as to attract bird-life to the community; toll-gates
were abolished along the two main arteries of travel; the removal of all
telegraph and telephone poles was begun; an efficient Boy Scout troop
was organized, and an American Legion post; the automobile speed limit
was reduced from twenty-four to fifteen miles as a protection to
children; roads were regularly swept, cleaned, and oiled, and uniform
sidewalks advocated and secured.

Within seven years so efficiently had the Association functioned that
its work attracted attention far beyond its own confines and that of
Philadelphia, and caused Theodore Roosevelt voluntarily to select it as
a subject for a special magazine article in which he declared it to
"stand as a model in civic matters." To-day it may be conservatively
said of The Merion Civic Association that it is pointed out as one of
the most successful suburban civic efforts in the country; as Doctor
Lyman Abbott said in The Outlook, it has made "Merion a model suburb,
which may standardize ideal suburban life, certainly for Philadelphia,
possibly for the United States."

When the armistice was signed in November, 1918, the Association
immediately canvassed the neighborhood to erect a suitable Tribute
House, as a memorial to the eighty-three Merion boys who had gone into
the Great War: a public building which would comprise a community
centre, with an American Legion Post room, a Boy Scout house, an
auditorium, and a meeting-place for the civic activities of Merion. A
subscription was raised, and plans were already drawn for the Tribute
House, when Mr. Eldridge R. Johnson, president of the Victor Talking
Machine Company, one of the strong supporters of The Merion Civic
Association, presented his entire estate of twelve acres, the finest in
Merion, to the community, and agreed to build a Tribute House at his own
expense. The grounds represented a gift of two hundred thousand dollars,
and the building a gift of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This
building, now about to be erected, will be one of the most beautiful and
complete community centres in the United States.

Perhaps no other suburban civic effort proves the efficiency of
community co-operation so well as does the seven years' work of The
Merion Civic Association. It is a practical demonstration of what a
community can do for itself by concerted action. It preached, from the
very start, the gospel of united service; it translated into actual
practice the doctrine of being one's brother's keeper, and it taught the
invaluable habit of collective action. The Association has no legal
powers; it rules solely by persuasion; it accomplishes by the power of
combination; by a spirit of the community for the community.

When The Merion Civic Association was conceived, the spirit of local
pride was seemingly not present in the community. As a matter of fact,
it was there as it is in practically every neighborhood; it was simply
dormant; it had to be awakened, and its value brought vividly to the
community consciousness.



XXXII. A Bewildered Bok


One of the misfortunes of Edward Bok's training, which he realized more
clearly as time went on, was that music had little or no place in his
life. His mother did not play; and aside from the fact that his father
and mother were patrons of the opera during their residence in The
Netherlands, the musical atmosphere was lacking in his home. He realized
how welcome an outlet music might be in his now busy life. So what he
lacked himself and realized as a distinct omission in his own life he
decided to make possible for others.

The Ladies' Home Journal began to strike a definite musical note. It
first caught the eye and ear of its public by presenting the popular new
marches by John Philip Sousa; and when the comic opera of "Robin Hood"
became the favorite of the day, it secured all the new compositions by
Reginald de Koven. Following these, it introduced its readers to new
compositions by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Tosti, Moscowski, Richard Strauss,
Paderewski, Josef Hofmann, Edouard Strauss, and Mascagni. Bok induced
Josef Hofmann to give a series of piano lessons in his magazine, and
Madame Marchesi a series of vocal lessons. The Journal introduced its
readers to all the great instrumental and vocal artists of the day
through articles; it offered prizes for the best piano and vocal
compositions; it had the leading critics of New York, Boston, and
Chicago write articles explanatory of orchestral music and how to listen
to music.

Bok was early attracted by the abilities of Josef Hofmann. In 1898, he
met the pianist, who was then twenty-two years old. Of his musical
ability Bok could not judge, but he was much impressed by his unusual
mentality, and soon both learned and felt that Hofmann's art was deeply
and firmly rooted. Hofmann had a wider knowledge of affairs than other
musicians whom Bok had met; he had not narrowed his interests to his own
art. He was striving to achieve a position in his art, and, finding that
he had literary ability, Bok asked him to write a reminiscent article on
his famous master, Rubinstein.

This was followed by other articles; the publication of his new mazurka;
still further articles; and then, in 1907, Bok offered him a regular
department in the magazine and a salaried editorship on his staff.

Bok's musical friends and the music critics tried to convince the editor
that Hofmann's art lay not so deep as Bok imagined; that he had been a
child prodigy, and would end where all child prodigies invariably
end--opinions which make curious reading now in view of Hofmann's
commanding position in the world of music. But while Bok lacked musical
knowledge, his instinct led him to adhere to his belief in Hofmann; and
for twelve years, until Bok's retirement as editor, the pianist was a
regular contributor to the magazine. His success was, of course,
unquestioned. He answered hundreds of questions sent him by his readers,
and these answers furnished such valuable advice for piano students that
two volumes were made in book form and are to-day used by piano teachers
and students as authoritative guides.

Meanwhile, Bok's marriage had brought music directly into his domestic
circle. Mrs. Bok loved music, was a pianist herself, and sought to
acquaint her husband with what his former training had omitted. Hofmann
and Bok had become strong friends outside of the editorial relation, and
the pianist frequently visited the Bok home. But it was some time, even
with these influences surrounding him, before music began to play any
real part in Bok's own life.

He attended the opera occasionally; more or less under protest, because
of its length, and because his mind was too practical for the indirect
operatic form. He could not remain patient at a recital; the effort to
listen to one performer for an hour and a half was too severe a tax upon
his restless nature. The Philadelphia Orchestra gave a symphony concert
each Saturday evening, and Bok dreaded the coming of that evening in
each week for fear of being taken to hear music which he was convinced
was "over his head."

Like many men of his practical nature, he had made up his mind on this
point without ever having heard such a concert. The word "symphony" was
enough; it conveyed to him a form of the highest music quite beyond his
comprehension. Then, too, in the back of his mind there was the feeling
that, while he was perfectly willing to offer the best that the musical
world afforded in his magazine, his readers were primarily women, and
the appeal of music, after all, he felt was largely, if not wholly, to
the feminine nature. It was very satisfying to him to hear his wife play
in the evening; but when it came to public concerts, they were not for
his masculine nature. In other words, Bok shared the all too common
masculine notion that music is for women and has little place in the
lives of men.

One day Josef Hofmann gave Bok an entirely new point of view. The artist
was rehearsing in Philadelphia for an appearance with the orchestra, and
the pianist was telling Bok and his wife of the desire of Leopold
Stokowski, who had recently become conductor of the Philadelphia
Orchestra, to eliminate encores from his symphonic programmes; he wanted
to begin the experiment with Hofmann's appearance that week. This was a
novel thought to Bok: why eliminate encores from any concert? If he
liked the way any performer played, he had always done his share to
secure an encore. Why should not the public have an encore if it desired
it, and why should a conductor or a performer object? Hofmann explained
to him the entity of a symphonic programme; that it was made up with one
composition in relation to the others as a sympathetic unit, and that an
encore was an intrusion, disturbing the harmony of the whole.

"I wish you would let Stokowski come out and explain to you what he is
trying to do," said Hofmann. "He knows what he wants, and he is right in
his efforts; but he doesn't know how to educate the public. There is
where you could help him."

But Bok had no desire to meet Stokowski. He mentally pictured the
conductor: long hair; feet never touching the earth; temperament galore;
he knew them! And he had no wish to introduce the type into his home
life.

Mrs. Bok, however, ably seconded Josef Hofmann, and endeavored to
dissipate Bok's preconceived notion, with the result that Stokowksi came
to the Bok home.

Bok was not slow to see that Stokowski was quite the reverse of his
mental picture, and became intensely interested in the youthful
conductor's practical way of looking at things. It was agreed that the
encore "bull" was to be taken by the horns that week; that no matter
what the ovation to Hofmann might be, however the public might clamor,
no encore was to be forthcoming; and Bok was to give the public an
explanation during the following week. The next concert was to present
Mischa Elman, and his co-operation was assured so that continuity of
effort might be counted upon.

In order to have first-hand information, Bok attended the concert that
Saturday evening. The symphony, Dvorak's "New World Symphony," amazed
Bok by its beauty; he was more astonished that he could so easily grasp
any music in symphonic form. He was equally surprised at the simple
beauty of the other numbers on the programme, and wondered not a little
at his own perfectly absorbed attention during Hofmann's playing of a
rather long concerto.

The pianist's performance was so beautiful that the audience was
uproarious in its approval; it had calculated, of course, upon an
encore, and recalled the pianist again and again until he had appeared
and bowed his thanks several times. But there was no encore; the stage
hands appeared and moved the piano to one side, and the audience
relapsed into unsatisfied and rather bewildered silence.

Then followed Bok's publicity work in the newspapers, beginning the next
day, exonerating Hofmann and explaining the situation. The following
week, with Mischa Elman as soloist, the audience once more tried to have
its way and its cherished encore, but again none was forthcoming. Once
more the newspapers explained; the battle was won, and the no-encore
rule has prevailed at the Philadelphia Orchestra concerts from that day
to this, with the public entirely resigned to the idea and satisfied
with the reason therefor.

But the bewildered Bok could not make out exactly what had happened to
his preconceived notion about symphonic music. He attended the following
Saturday evening concert; listened to a Brahms symphony that pleased him
even more than had "The New World," and when, two weeks later, he heard
the Tschaikowski "Pathetique" and later the "Unfinished" symphony, by
Schubert, and a Beethoven symphony, attracted by each in turn, he
realized that his prejudice against the whole question of symphonic
music had been both wrongly conceived and baseless.

He now began to see the possibility of a whole world of beauty which up
to that time had been closed to him, and he made up his mind that he
would enter it. Somehow or other, he found the appeal of music did not
confine itself to women; it seemed to have a message for men. Then, too,
instead of dreading the approach of Saturday evenings, he was looking
forward to them, and invariably so arranged his engagements that they
might not interfere with his attendance at the orchestra concerts.

After a busy week, he discovered that nothing he had ever experienced
served to quiet him so much as these end-of-the-week concerts. They were
not too long, an hour and a half at the utmost; and, above all, except
now and then, when the conductor would take a flight into the world of
Bach, he found he followed him with at least a moderate degree of
intelligence; certainly with personal pleasure and inner satisfaction.

Bok concluded he would not read the articles he had published on the
meaning of the different "sections" of a symphony orchestra, or the
books issued on that subject. He would try to solve the mechanism of an
orchestra for himself, and ascertain as he went along the relation that
each portion bore to the other. When, therefore, in 1913, the president
of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association asked him to become a member
of its Board of Directors, his acceptance was a natural step in the
gradual development of his interest in orchestral music.

The public support given to orchestras now greatly interested Bok. He
was surprised to find that every symphony orchestra had a yearly
deficit. This he immediately attributed to faulty management; but on
investigating the whole question he learned that a symphony orchestra
could not possibly operate, at a profit or even on a self-sustaining
basis, because of its weekly change of programme, the incessant
rehearsals required, and the limited number of times it could actually
play within a contracted season. An annual deficit was inevitable.

He found that the Philadelphia Orchestra had a small but faithful group
of guarantors who each year made good the deficit in addition to paying
for its concert seats. This did not seem to Bok a sound business plan;
it made of the orchestra a necessarily exclusive organization,
maintained by a few; and it gave out this impression to the general
public, which felt that it did not "belong," whereas the true relation
of public and orchestra was that of mutual dependence. Other orchestras,
he found, as, for example, the Boston Symphony and the New York
Philharmonic had their deficits met by one individual patron in each
case. This, to Bok's mind, was an even worse system, since it entirely
excluded the public, making the orchestra dependent on the continued
interest and life of a single man.

In 1916 Bok sought Mr. Alexander Van Rensselaer, the president of the
Philadelphia Orchestra Association, and proposed that he, himself,
should guarantee the deficit of the orchestra for five years, provided
that during that period an endowment fund should be raised, contributed
by a large number of subscribers, and sufficient in amount to meet, from
its interest, the annual deficit. It was agreed that the donor should
remain in strict anonymity, an understanding which has been adhered to
until the present writing.

The offer from the "anonymous donor," presented by the president, was
accepted by the Orchestra Association. A subscription to an endowment
fund was shortly afterward begun; and the amount had been brought to
eight hundred thousand dollars when the Great War interrupted any
further additions. In the autumn of 1919, however, a city-wide campaign
for an addition of one million dollars to the endowment fund was
launched. The amount was not only secured, but over-subscribed. Thus,
instead of a guarantee fund, contributed by thirteen hundred
subscribers, with the necessity for annual collection, an endowment fund
of one million eight hundred thousand dollars, contributed by fourteen
thousand subscribers, has been secured; and the Philadelphia Orchestra
has been promoted from a privately maintained organization to a public
institution in which fourteen thousand residents of Philadelphia feel a
proprietary interest. It has become in fact, as well as in name, "our
orchestra."



XXXIII. How Millions of People Are Reached


The success of The Ladies' Home Journal went steadily forward. The
circulation had passed the previously unheard-of figure for a monthly
magazine of a million and a half copies per month; it had now touched a
million and three-quarters.

And not only was the figure so high, but the circulation itself was
absolutely free from "water." The public could not obtain the magazine
through what are known as clubbing-rates, since no subscriber was
permitted to include any other magazine with it; years ago it had
abandoned the practice of offering premiums or consideration of any kind
to induce subscriptions; and the newsdealers were not allowed to return
unsold copies of the periodical. Hence every copy was either purchased
by the public at the full price at a newsstand, or subscribed for at its
stated subscription price. It was, in short, an authoritative
circulation. And on every hand the question was being asked: "How is it
done? How is such a high circulation obtained?"

Bok's invariable answer was that he gave his readers the very best of
the class of reading that he believed would interest them, and that he
spared neither effort nor expense to obtain it for them. When Mr.
Howells once asked him how he classified his audience, Bok replied: "We
appeal to the intelligent American woman rather than to the intellectual
type." And he gave her the best he could obtain. As he knew her to be
fond of the personal type of literature, he gave her in succession Jane
Addams's story of "My Fifteen Years at Hull House," and the remarkable
narration of Helen Keller's "Story of My Life"; he invited Henry Van
Dyke, who had never been in the Holy Land, to go there, camp out in a
tent, and then write a series of sketches, "Out of Doors in the Holy
Land"; he induced Lyman Abbott to tell the story of "My Fifty Years as a
Minister." He asked Gene Stratton Porter to tell of her bird-experiences
in the series: "What I Have Done with Birds"; he persuaded Dean Hodges
to turn from his work of training young clergymen at the Episcopal
Seminary, at Cambridge, and write one of the most successful series of
Bible stories for children ever printed; and then he supplemented this
feature for children by publishing Rudyard Kipling's "Just So" stories
and his "Puck of Pook's Hill." He induced F. Hopkinson Smith to tell the
best stories he had ever heard in his wide travels in "The Man in the
Arm Chair"; he got Kate Douglas Wiggin to tell a country church
experience of hers in "The Old Peabody Pew"; and Jean Webster her
knowledge of almshouse life in "Daddy Long Legs."

The readers of The Ladies' Home Journal realized that it searched the
whole field of endeavor in literature and art to secure what would
interest them, and they responded with their support.

Another of Bok's methods in editing was to do the common thing in an
uncommon way. He had the faculty of putting old wine in new bottles and
the public liked it. His ideas were not new; he knew there were no new
ideas, but he presented his ideas in such a way that they seemed new. It
is a significant fact, too, that a large public will respond more
quickly to an idea than it will to a name.

This The Ladies' Home Journal proved again and again. Its most
pronounced successes, from the point of view of circulation, were those
in which the idea was the sole and central appeal. For instance, when it
gave American women an opportunity to look into a hundred homes and see
how they were furnished, it added a hundred thousand copies to the
circulation. There was nothing new in publishing pictures of rooms and,
had it merely done this, it is questionable whether success would have
followed the effort. It was the way in which it was done. The note
struck entered into the feminine desire, reflected it, piqued curiosity,
and won success.

Again, when The Journal decided to show good taste and bad taste in
furniture, in comparative pictures, another hundred thousand circulation
came to it. There was certainly nothing new in the comparative idea; but
applied to a question of taste, which could not be explained so clearly
in words, it seemed new.

Had it simply presented masterpieces of art as such, the series might
have attracted little attention. But when it announced that these
masterpieces had always been kept in private galleries, and seen only by
the favored few; that the public had never been allowed to get any
closer to them than to read of the fabulous prices paid by their
millionaire owners; and that now the magazine would open the doors of
those exclusive galleries and let the public in--public curiosity was at
once piqued, and over one hundred and fifty thousand persons who had
never before bought the magazine were added to the list.

In not one of these instances, nor in the case of other successful
series, did the appeal to the public depend upon the names of
contributors; there were none: it was the idea which the public liked
and to which it responded.

The editorial Edward Bok enjoyed this hugely; the real Edward Bok did
not. The one was bottled up in the other. It was a case of absolute
self-effacement. The man behind the editor knew that if he followed his
own personal tastes and expressed them in his magazine, a limited
audience would be his instead of the enormous clientele that he was now
reaching. It was the man behind the editor who had sought expression in
the idea of Country Life, the magazine which his company sold to
Doubleday, Page & Company, and which he would personally have enjoyed
editing.

It was in 1913 that the real Edward Bok, bottled up for twenty-five
years, again came to the surface. The majority stockholders of The
Century Magazine wanted to dispose of their interest in the periodical.
Overtures were made to The Curtis Publishing Company, but its hands were
full, and the matter was presented for Bok's personal consideration. The
idea interested him, as he saw in The Century a chance for his
self-expression. He entered into negotiations, looked carefully into the
property itself and over the field which such a magazine might fill,
decided to buy it, and install an active editor while he, as a close
adviser, served as the propelling power.

Bok figured out that there was room for one of the trio of what was, and
still is, called the standard-sized magazines, namely Scribner's,
Harper's, and The Century. He believed, as he does to-day, that any one
of these magazines could be so edited as to preserve all its traditions
and yet be so ingrafted with the new progressive, modern spirit as to
dominate the field and constitute itself the leader in that particular
group. He believed that there was a field which would produce a
circulation in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million copies a month
for one of those magazines, so that it would be considered not, as now,
one of three, but the one.

What Bok saw in the possibilities of the standard illustrated magazine
has been excellently carried out by Mr. Ellery Sedgwick in The Atlantic
Monthly; every tradition has been respected, and yet the new progressive
note introduced has given it a position and a circulation never before
attained by a non-illustrated magazine of the highest class.

As Bok studied the field, his confidence in the proposition, as he saw
it, grew. For his own amusement, he made up some six issues of The
Century as he visualized it, and saw that the articles he had included
were all obtainable. He selected a business manager and publisher who
would relieve him of the manufacturing problems; but before the contract
was actually closed Bok, naturally, wanted to consult Mr. Curtis, who
was just returning from abroad, as to this proposed sharing of his
editor.

For one man to edit two magazines inevitably meant a distribution of
effort, and this Mr. Curtis counselled against. He did not believe that
any man could successfully serve two masters; it would also mean a
division of public association; it might result in Bok's physical
undoing, as already he was overworked. Mr. Curtis's arguments, of
course, prevailed; the negotiations were immediately called off, and for
the second time--for some wise reason, undoubtedly--the real Edward Bok
was subdued. He went back into the bottle!

A cardinal point in Edward Bok's code of editing was not to commit his
magazine to unwritten material, or to accept and print articles or
stories simply because they were the work of well-known persons. And as
his acquaintance with authors multiplied, he found that the greater the
man the more willing he was that his work should stand or fall on its
merit, and that the editor should retain his prerogative of
declination--if he deemed it wise to exercise it.

Rudyard Kipling was, and is, a notable example of this broad and just
policy. His work is never imposed upon an editor; it is invariably
submitted, in its completed form, for acceptance or declination. "Wait
until it's done," said Kipling once to Bok as he outlined a story to him
which the editor liked, "and see whether you want it. You can't tell
until then." (What a difference from the type of author who insists that
an editor must take his or her story before a line is written!)

"I told Watt to send you," he writes to Bok, "the first four of my child
stories (you see I hadn't forgotten my promise), and they may serve to
amuse you for a while personally, even if you don't use them for
publication. Frankly, I don't myself see how they can be used for the L.
H. J.; but they're part of a scheme of mine for trying to give children
not a notion of history, but a notion of the time sense which is at the
bottom of all knowledge of history; and history, rightly understood,
means the love of one's fellow-men and the land one lives in."

James Whitcomb Riley was another who believed that an editor should have
the privilege of saying "No" if he so elected. When Riley was writing a
series of poems for Bok, the latter, not liking a poem which the Hoosier
poet sent him, returned it to him. He wondered how Riley would receive a
declination--naturally a rare experience. But his immediate answer
settled the question:

"Thanks equally for your treatment of both poems, [he wrote], the one
accepted and the other returned. Maintain your own opinions and respect,
and my vigorous esteem for you shall remain 'deep-rooted in the fruitful
soil.' No occasion for apology whatever. In my opinion, you are wrong;
in your opinion, you are right; therefore, you are right,--at least
righter than wronger. It is seldom that I drop other work for logic, but
when I do, as my grandfather was wont to sturdily remark, 'it is to some
purpose, I can promise you.'

"Am goin' to try mighty hard to send you the dialect work you've so long
wanted; in few weeks at furthest. 'Patience and shuffle the cards.'

"I am really, just now, stark and bare of one common-sense idea. In the
writing line, I was never so involved before and see no end to the
ink-(an humorous voluntary provocative, I trust of much
merriment)-creasing pressure of it all.

"Even the hope of waking to find myself famous is denied me, since I
haven't time in which to fall asleep. Therefore, very drowsily and
yawningly indeed, I am your

"James Whitcomb Riley."

Neither did the President of the United States consider himself above a
possible declination of his material if it seemed advisable to the
editor. In 1916 Woodrow Wilson wrote to Bok:

"Sometime ago you kindly intimated to me that you would like to publish
an article from me. At first, it seemed impossible for me to undertake
anything of the kind, but I have found a little interval in which I have
written something on Mexico which I hope you will think worthy of
publication. If not, will you return it to me?"

The President, too, acted as an intermediary in turning authors in Bok's
direction, when the way opened. In a letter written not on the official
White House letterhead, but on his personal "up-stairs" stationery, as
it is called, he asks:

"Will you do me the favor of reading the enclosed to see if it is worthy
of your acceptance for the Journal, or whether you think it indicates
that the writer, with a few directions and suggestions, might be useful
to you?

"It was written by --. She is a woman of great refinement, of a very
unusually broad social experience, and of many exceptional gifts, who
thoroughly knows what she is writing about, whether she has yet
discovered the best way to set it forth or not. She is one of the most
gifted and resourceful hostesses I have known, but has now fallen upon
hard times.

"Among other things that she really knows, she really does thoroughly
know old furniture and all kinds of china worth knowing.

"Pardon me if I have been guilty of an indiscretion in sending this
direct to you. I am throwing myself upon your indulgence in my desire to
help a splendid woman.

"She has a great collection of recipes which housekeepers would like to
have. Does a serial cook-book sound like nonsense?"

A further point in his editing which Bok always kept in view was his
rule that the editor must always be given the privilege of revising or
editing a manuscript. Bok's invariable rule was, of course, to submit
his editing for approval, but here again the bigger the personality back
of the material, the more willing the author was to have his manuscript
"blue pencilled," if he were convinced that the deletions or
condensations improved or at least did not detract from his arguments.
It was the small author who ever resented the touch of the editorial
pencil upon his precious effusions.

As a matter of fact there are few authors who cannot be edited with
advantage, and it would be infinitely better for our reading if this
truth was applied to some of the literature of to-day.

Bok had once under his hand a story by Mark Twain, which he believed
contained passages that should be deleted. They represented a goodly
portion of the manuscript. They were, however, taken out, and the result
submitted to the humorist. The answer was curious. Twain evidently saw
that Bok was right, for he wrote: "Of course, I want every single line
and word of it left out," and then added: "Do me the favor to call the
next time you are again in Hartford. I want to say things which--well, I
want to argue with you." Bok never knew what those "things" were, for at
the next meeting they were not referred to.

It is, perhaps, a curious coincidence that all the Presidents of the
United States whose work Bok had occasion to publish were uniformly
liberal with regard to having their material edited.

Colonel Roosevelt was always ready to concede improvement: "Fine," he
wrote; "the changes are much for the better. I never object to my work
being improved, where it needs it, so long as the sense is not altered."

William Howard Taft wrote, after being subjected to editorial revision:
"You have done very well by my article. You have made it much more
readable by your rearrangement."

Mr. Cleveland was very likely to let his interest in a subject run
counter to the space exigencies of journalism; and Bok, in one instance,
had to reduce one of his articles considerably. He explained the reason
and enclosed the revision.

"I am entirely willing to have the article cut down as you suggest,"
wrote the former President. "I find sufficient reason for this in the
fact that the matter you suggest for elimination has been largely
exploited lately. And in looking the matter over carefully, I am
inclined to think that the article expurgated as you suggest will gain
in unity and directness. At first, I feared it would appear a little
'bobbed' off, but you are a much better judge of that than I. ... I
leave it altogether to you."

It was always interesting to Bok, as a study of mental processes, to
note how differently he and some author with whom he would talk it over
would see the method of treating some theme. He was discussing the
growing unrest among American women with Rudyard Kipling at the latter's
English home; and expressed the desire that the novelist should treat
the subject and its causes.

They talked until the early hours, when it was agreed that each should
write out a plan, suggest the best treatment, and come together the next
morning. When they did so, Kipling had mapped out the scenario of a
novel; Bok had sketched out the headings of a series of analytical
articles. Neither one could see the other's viewpoint, Kipling
contending for the greater power of fiction and Bok strongly arguing for
the value of the direct essay. In this instance, the point was never
settled, for the work failed to materialize in any form!

If the readers of The Ladies' Home Journal were quick to support its
editor when he presented an idea that appealed to them, they were
equally quick to tell him when he gave them something of which they did
not approve. An illustration of this occurred during the dance-craze
that preceded the Great War. In 1914, America was dance-mad, and the
character of the dances rapidly grew more and more offensive. Bok's
readers, by the hundreds, urged him to come out against the tendency.

The editor looked around and found that the country's terpsichorean
idols were Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle; he decided that, with their
cooperation, he might, by thus going to the fountainhead, effect an
improvement through the introduction, by the Castles, of better and more
decorous new dances. Bok could see no reason why the people should not
dance, if they wanted to, so long as they kept within the bounds of
decency.

He found the Castles willing and eager to co-operate, not only because of
the publicity it would mean for them, but because they were themselves
not in favor of the new mode. They had little sympathy for the
elimination of the graceful dance by the introduction of what they
called the "shuffle" or the "bunny-hug," "turkey-trot," and other
ungraceful and unworthy dances. It was decided that the Castles should,
through Bok's magazine and their own public exhibitions, revive the
gavotte, the polka, and finally the waltz. They would evolve these into
new forms and Bok would present them pictorially. A series of three
double-page presentations was decided upon, allowing for large
photographs so that the steps could be easily seen and learned from the
printed page.

The magazine containing the first "lesson" was no sooner published than
protests began to come in by the hundreds. Bok had not stated his
object, and the public misconstrued his effort and purpose into an
acknowledgment that he had fallen a victim to the prevailing craze. He
explained in letters, but to no purpose. Try as he might, Bok could not
rid the pages of the savor of the cabaret. He published the three dances
as agreed, but he realized he had made a mistake, and was as much
disgusted as were his readers. Nor did he, in the slightest degree,
improve the dance situation. The public refused to try the new Castle
dances, and kept on turkey-trotting and bunny-hugging.

The Ladies' Home Journal followed the Castle lessons with a series of
the most beautiful dances of Madam Pavlowa, the Russian dancer, hoping
to remove the unfavorable impression of the former series. But it was
only partially successful. Bok had made a mistake in recognizing the
craze at all; he should have ignored it, as he had so often in the past
ignored other temporary, superficial hysterics of the public. The
Journal readers knew the magazine had made a mistake and frankly said
so.

Which shows that, even after having been for over twenty-five years in
the editorial chair, Edward Bok was by no means infallible in his
judgment of what the public wanted or would accept.

No man is, for that matter.



XXXIV. A War Magazine and War Activities


When, early in 1917, events began so to shape themselves as directly to
point to the entrance of the United States into the Great War, Edward
Bok set himself to formulate a policy for The Ladies' Home Journal. He
knew that he was in an almost insurmountably difficult position. The
huge edition necessitated going to press fully six weeks in advance of
publication, and the preparation of material fully four weeks previous
to that. He could not, therefore, get much closer than ten weeks to the
date when his readers received the magazine. And he knew that events, in
war time, had a way of moving rapidly.

Late in January he went to Washington, consulted those authorities who
could indicate possibilities to him better than any one else, and found,
as he had suspected, that the entry of the United States into the war
was a practical certainty; it was only a question of time.

Bok went South for a month's holiday to get ready for the fray, and in
the saddle and on the golf links he formulated a policy. The newspapers
and weeklies would send innumerable correspondents to the front, and
obviously, with the necessity for going to press so far in advance, The
Journal could not compete with them. They would depict every activity in
the field. There was but one logical thing for him to do: ignore the
"front" entirely, refuse all the offers of correspondents, men and
women, who wanted to go with the armies for his magazine, and cover
fully and practically the results of the war as they would affect the
women left behind. He went carefully over the ground to see what these
would be, along what particular lines women's activities would be most
likely to go, and then went home and back to Washington.

It was now March. He conferred with the President, had his fears
confirmed, and offered all the resources of his magazine to the
government. His diagnosis of the situation was verified in every detail
by the authorities whom he consulted. The Ladies' Home Journal could
best serve by keeping up the morale at home and by helping to meet the
problems that would confront the women; as the President said: "Give
help in the second line of defense."

A year before, Bok had opened a separate editorial office in Washington
and had secured Dudley Harmon, the Washington correspondent for The New
York Sun, as his editor-in-charge. The purpose was to bring the women of
the country into a clearer understanding of their government and a
closer relation with it. This work had been so successful as to
necessitate a force of four offices and twenty stenographers. Bok now
placed this Washington office on a war-basis, bringing it into close
relation with every department of the government that would be connected
with the war activities. By this means, he had an editor and an
organized force on the spot, devoting full time to the preparation of
war material, with Mr. Harmon in daily conference with the department
chiefs to secure the newest developments.

Bok learned that the country's first act would be to recruit for the
navy, so as to get this branch of the service into a state of
preparedness. He therefore secured Franklin D. Roosevelt, assistant
secretary of the navy, to write an article explaining to mothers why
they should let their boys volunteer for the Navy and what it would mean
to them.

He made arrangements at the American Red Cross Headquarters for an
official department to begin at once in the magazine, telling women the
first steps that would be taken by the Red Cross and how they could
help. He secured former President William Howard Taft, as chairman of
the Central Committee of the Red Cross, for the editor of this
department.

He cabled to Viscount Northcliffe and Ian Hay for articles showing what
the English women had done at the outbreak of the war, the mistakes they
had made, what errors the American women should avoid, the right lines
along which English women had worked and how their American sisters
could adapt these methods to transatlantic conditions.

And so it happened that when the first war issue of The Journal appeared
on April 20th, only three weeks after the President's declaration, it
was the only monthly that recognized the existence of war, and its pages
had already begun to indicate practical lines along which women could
help.

The President planned to bring the Y. M. C. A. into the service by
making it a war-work body, and Bok immediately made arrangements for a
page to appear each month under the editorship of John R. Mott, general
secretary of the International Y. M. C. A. Committee.

The editor had been told that the question of food would come to be of
paramount importance; he knew that Herbert Hoover had been asked to
return to America as soon as he could close his work abroad, and he
cabled over to his English representative to arrange that the proposed
Food Administrator should know, at first hand, of the magazine and its
possibilities for the furtherance of the proposed Food Administration
work.

The Food Administration was no sooner organized than Bok made
arrangements for an authoritative department to be conducted in his
magazine, reflecting the plans and desires of the Food Administration,
and Herbert Hoover's first public declaration as food administrator to
the women of America was published in The Ladies' Home Journal. Bok now
placed all the resources of his four-color press-work at Mr. Hoover's
disposal; and the Food Administration's domestic experts, in conjunction
with the full culinary staff of the magazine, prepared the new war
dishes and presented them appetizingly in full colors under the personal
endorsement of Mr. Hoover and the Food Administration. From six to
sixteen articles per month were now coming from Mr. Hoover's department
alone.

The Department of Agriculture was laid under contribution by the
magazine for the best ideas for the raising of food from the soil in the
creation of war-gardens.

Doctor Anna Howard Shaw had been appointed chairman of the National
Committee of the Women's Council of National Defence, and Bok arranged
at once with her that she should edit a department page in his magazine,
setting forth the plans of the committee and how the women of America
could co-operate therewith.

The magazine had thus practically become the semiofficial mouthpiece of
all the various government war bureaus and war-work bodies. James A.
Flaherty, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, explained the
proposed work of that body; Commander Evangeline Booth presented the
plans of the Salvation Army, and Mrs. Robert E. Speer, president of the
National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association, reflected the
activities of her organization; while the President's daughter, Miss
Margaret Wilson, discussed her work for the opening of all schoolhouses
as community war-centres.

The magazine reflected in full-color pictures the life and activities of
the boys in the American camps, and William C. Gorgas, surgeon-general
of the United States, was the spokesman in the magazine for the health
of the boys.

Secretary of the Treasury McAdoo interpreted the first Liberty Loan
"drive" to the women; the President of the United States, in a special
message to women, wrote in behalf of the subsequent Loan; Bernard
Baruch, as chairman of the War Industries Board, made clear the need for
war-time thrift; the recalled ambassador to Germany, James W. Gerard,
told of the ingenious plans resorted to by German women which American
women could profitably copy; and Elizabeth, Queen of the Belgians,
explained the plight of the babies and children of Belgium, and made a
plea to the women of the magazine to help. So straight to the point did
the Queen write, and so well did she present her case that within six
months there had been sent to her, through The Ladies' Home Journal, two
hundred and forty-eight thousand cans of condensed milk, seventy-two
thousand cans of pork and beans, five thousand cans of infants' prepared
food, eighty thousand cans of beef soup, and nearly four thousand
bushels of wheat, purchased with the money donated by the magazine
readers.

On the coming of the coal question, the magazine immediately reflected
the findings and recommendations of the Fuel Administration, and Doctor
H. A. Garfield, as fuel administrator, placed the material of his Bureau
at the disposal of the magazine's Washington editor.

The Committee on Public Information now sought the magazine for the
issuance of a series of official announcements explanatory of matters to
women.

When the "meatless" and the "wheatless" days were inaugurated, the women
of America found that the magazine had anticipated their coming; and the
issue appearing on the first of these days, as publicly announced by the
Food Administration, presented pages of substitutes in full colors.

Of course, miscellaneous articles on the war there were, without number.
Before the war was ended, the magazine did send a representative to the
front in Catherine Van Dyke, who did most effective work for the
magazine in articles of a general nature. The full-page battle pictures,
painted from data furnished by those who took actual part, were
universally commended and exhausted even the largest editions that could
be printed. A source of continual astonishment was the number of copies
of the magazine found among the boys in France; it became the third in
the official War Department list of the most desired American
periodicals, evidently representing a tie between the boys and their
home folks. But all these "war" features, while appreciated and
desirable, were, after all, but a side-issue to the more practical
economic work of the magazine. It was in this service that the magazine
excelled, it was for this reason that the women at home so eagerly
bought it, and that it was impossible to supply each month the editions
called for by the extraordinary demand.

Considering the difficulties to be surmounted, due to the advance
preparation of material, and considering that, at the best, most of its
advance information, even by the highest authorities, could only be in
the nature of surmise, the comprehensive manner in which The Ladies'
Home Journal covered every activity of women during the Great War, will
always remain one of the magazine's most noteworthy achievements. This
can be said without reserve here, since the credit is due to no single
person; it was the combined, careful work of its entire staff, weighing
every step before it was taken, looking as clearly into the future as
circumstances made possible, and always seeking the most authoritative
sources of information.

Bok merely directed. Each month, before his magazine went to press, he
sought counsel and vision from at least one of three of the highest
sources; and upon this guidance, as authoritative as anything could be
in times of war when no human vision can actually foretell what the next
day will bring forth, he acted. The result, as one now looks back upon
it, was truly amazing; an uncanny timeliness would often color material
on publication day. Of course, much of this was due to the close
government co-operation, so generously and painstakingly given.

With the establishment of the various war boards in Washington, Bok
received overtures to associate himself exclusively with them and move
to the capital. He sought the best advice and with his own instincts
pointing in the same way, he decided that he could give his fullest
service by retaining his editorial position and adding to that such
activities as his leisure allowed. He undertook several private
commissions for the United States Government, and then he was elected
vice-president of the Philadelphia Belgian Relief Commission.

With the Belgian consul-general for the United States, Mr. Paul
Hagemans, as the president of the Commission, and guided by his intimate
knowledge of the Belgian people, Bok selected a committee of the ablest
buyers and merchants in the special lines of foods which he would have
to handle. The Commission raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, with
which it purchased foods and chartered ships. The quantities of food ran
into prodigious figures; Bok felt that he was feeding the world; and yet
when the holds of the ships began to take in the thousands of crates of
canned goods, the bags of peas and beans, and the endless tins of
condensed milk, it was amazing how the piled-up boxes melted from the
piers and the ship-holds yawned for more. Flour was sent in seemingly
endless hundreds of barrels.

Each line of goods was bought by a specialist on the Committee at the
lowest quantity prices; and the result was that the succession of ships
leaving the port of Philadelphia was a credit to the generosity of the
people of the city and the commonwealth. The Commission delegated one of
its members to go to Belgium and personally see that the food actually
reached the needy Belgian people.

In September, 1917, word was received from John R. Mott that Bok had
been appointed State chairman for the Y. M. C. A. War Work Council for
Pennsylvania; that a country-wide campaign for twenty-five million
dollars would be launched six weeks hence, and that Pennsylvania's quota
was three millions of dollars. He was to set up an organization
throughout the State, conduct the drive from Philadelphia, speak at
various centres in Pennsylvania, and secure the allocated quota. Bok
knew little or nothing about the work of the Y. M. C. A.; he accordingly
went to New York headquarters and familiarized himself with the work
being done and proposed; and then began to set up his State machinery.
The drive came off as scheduled, Pennsylvania doubled its quota,
subscribing six instead of three millions of dollars, and of this was
collected five million eight hundred and twenty-nine thousand
dollars--almost one hundred per cent.

Bok, who was now put on the National War Work Council of the Y. M. C. A.
at New York, was asked to take part in the creation of the machinery
necessary for the gigantic piece of work that the organization had been
called upon by the President of the United States to do. It was a
herculean task; practically impossible with any large degree of
efficiency in view of the almost insurmountable obstacles to be
contended with. But step by step the imperfect machinery was set up, and
it began to function in the home camps. Then the overseas work was
introduced by the first troops going to France, and the difficulties
increased a hundredfold.

But Bok's knowledge of the workings of the government departments at
Washington, the war boards, and the other war-work organizations soon
convinced him that the Y. M. C. A. was not the only body, asked to set
up an organization almost overnight, that was staggering under its load
and falling down as often as it was functioning.

The need for Y. M. C. A. secretaries overseas and in the camps soon
became acute, and Bok was appointed chairman of the Philadelphia
Recruiting Committee. As in the case of his Belgian relief work, he at
once surrounded himself with an able committee: this time composed of
business and professional men trained in a knowledge of human nature in
the large, and of wide acquaintance in the city. Simultaneously, Bok
secured the release of one of the ablest men in the Y. M. C. A. service
in New York, Edward S. Wilkinson, who became the permanent secretary of
the Philadelphia Committee. Bok organized a separate committee composed
of automobile manufacturers to recruit for chauffeurs and mechanicians;
another separate committee recruited for physical directors, and later a
third committee recruited for women.

The work was difficult because the field of selection was limited. No
men between the military ages could be recruited; the War Boards at
Washington had drawn heavily upon the best men of the city; the
slightest physical defect barred out a man, on account of the exposure
and strain of the Y. M. C. A. work; the residue was not large.

It was scarcely to be wondered at that so many incompetent secretaries
had been passed and sent over to France. How could it have been
otherwise with the restricted selection? But the Philadelphia Committee
was determined, nevertheless, that its men should be of the best, and it
decided that to get a hundred men of unquestioned ability would be to do
a greater job than to send over two hundred men of indifferent quality.
The Committee felt that enough good men were still in Philadelphia and
the vicinity, if they could be pried loose from their business and home
anchorages, and that it was rather a question of incessant work than an
impossible task.

Bok took large advertising spaces in the Philadelphia newspapers, asking
for men of exceptional character to go to France in the service of the
Y. M. C. A.; and members of the Committee spoke before the different
commercial bodies at their noon luncheons. The applicants now began to
come, and the Committee began its discriminating selection. Each
applicant was carefully questioned by the secretary before he appeared
before the Committee, which held sittings twice a week. Hence of over
twenty-five hundred applicants, only three hundred appeared before the
Committee, of whom two hundred and fifty-eight were passed and sent
overseas.

The Committee's work was exceptionally successful; it soon proved of so
excellent a quality as to elicit a cabled request from Paris
headquarters to send more men of the Philadelphia type. The secret of
this lay in the sterling personnel of the Committee itself, and its
interpretation of the standards required; and so well did it work that
when Bok left for the front to be absent from Philadelphia for ten
weeks, his Committee, with Thomas W. Hulme, of the Pennsylvania
Railroad, acting as Chairman, did some of its best work.

The after-results, according to the report of the New York headquarters,
showed that no Y. M. C. A. recruiting committee had equalled the work of
the Philadelphia committee in that its men, in point of service, had
proved one hundred per cent secretaries. With two exceptions, the entire
two hundred and fifty-eight men passed, brought back one hundred per
cent records, some of them having been placed in the most important
posts abroad and having given the most difficult service. The work of
the other Philadelphia committees, particularly that of the Women's
Committee, was equally good.

To do away with the multiplicity of "drives," rapidly becoming a drain
upon the efforts of the men engaged in them, a War Chest Committee was
now formed in Philadelphia and vicinity to collect money for all the
war-work agencies. Bok was made a member of the Executive Committee, and
chairman of the Publicity Committee. In May, 1918, a campaign for twenty
millions of dollars was started; the amount was subscribed, and although
much of it had to be collected after the armistice, since the
subscriptions were in twelve monthly payments, a total of fifteen and a
half million dollars was paid in and turned over to the different
agencies.

Bok, who had been appointed one of the Boy Scout commissioners in his
home district of Merion, saw the possibilities of the Boy Scouts in the
Liberty Loan and other campaigns. Working in co-operation with the other
commissioners, and the scoutmaster of the Merion Troop, Bok supported
the boys in their work in each campaign as it came along. Although there
were in the troop only nine boys, in ages ranging from twelve to
fourteen years--Bok's younger son was one of them--so effectively did
these youngsters work under the inspiration of the scoutmaster, Thomas
Dun Belfield, that they soon attracted general attention and acquired
distinction as one of the most efficient troops in the vicinity of
Philadelphia. They won nearly all the prizes offered in their vicinity,
and elicited the special approval of the Secretary of the Treasury.

Although only "gleaners" in most of the campaigns--that is, working only
in the last three days after the regular committees had scoured the
neighborhood--these Merion Boy Scouts sold over one million four hundred
thousand dollars in Liberty Bonds, and raised enough money in the Y. M.
C. A. campaign to erect one of the largest huts in France for the army
boys, and a Y. M. C. A. gymnasium at the League Island Navy Yard
accommodating two thousand sailor-boys.

In the summer of 1918, the eight leading war-work agencies, excepting
the Red Cross, were merged, for the purpose of one drive for funds, into
the United War Work Campaign, and Bok was made chairman for
Pennsylvania. In November a country-wide campaign was launched, the
quota for Pennsylvania being twenty millions of dollars--the largest
amount ever asked of the commonwealth. Bok organized a committee of the
representative men of Pennsylvania, and proceeded to set up the
machinery to secure the huge sum. He had no sooner done this, however,
than he had to sail for France, returning only a month before the
beginning of the campaign.

But the efficient committee had done its work; upon his return Bok found
the organization complete. On the first day of the campaign, the false
rumor that an armistice had been signed made the raising of the large
amount seem almost hopeless; furthermore, owing to the influenza raging
throughout the commonwealth, no public meetings had been permitted or
held. Still, despite all these obstacles, not only was the twenty
millions subscribed but oversubscribed to the extent of nearly a million
dollars; and in face of the fact that every penny of this large total
had to be collected after the signing of the armistice, twenty millions
of dollars was paid in and turned over to the war agencies.

It is indeed a question whether any single war act on the part of the
people of Pennsylvania redounds so highly to their credit as this
marvellous evidence of patriotic generosity. It was one form of
patriotism to subscribe so huge a sum while the war was on and the guns
were firing; it was quite another and a higher patriotism to subscribe
and pay such a sum after the war was over!

Bok's position as State chairman of the United War Work Campaign made it
necessary for him to follow authoritatively and closely the work of each
of the eight different organizations represented in the fund. Because he
felt he had to know what the Knights of Columbus, the Salvation Army,
the Y. W. C. A., and the others were doing with the money he had been
instrumental in collecting, and for which he felt, as chairman,
responsible to the people of Pennsylvania, he learned to know their work
just as thoroughly as he knew what the Y. M. C. A. was doing.

He had now seen and come into personal knowledge of the work of the Y.
M. C. A. from his Philadelphia point of vantage, with his official
connection with it at New York headquarters; he had seen the work as it
was done in the London and Paris headquarters; and he had seen the
actual work in the American camps, the English rest-camps, back of the
French lines, in the trenches, and as near the firing-line as he had
been permitted to go.

He had, in short, seen the Y. M. C. A. function from every angle, but he
had also seen the work of the other organizations in England and France,
back of the lines and in the trenches. He found them all
faulty--necessarily so. Each had endeavored to create an organization
within an incredibly short space of time and in the face of adverse
circumstances. Bok saw at once that the charge that the Y. M. C. A. was
"falling down" in its work was as false as that the Salvation Army was
doing "a marvellous work" and that the K. of C. was "efficient where
others were incompetent," and that the Y. W. C. A. was "nowhere to be
seen."

The Salvation Army was unquestionably doing an excellent piece of work
within a most limited area; it could not be on a wider scale, when one
considered the limited personnel it had at its command. The work of the
K. of C. was not a particle more or less efficient than the work of the
other organizations. What it did, it strove to do well, but so did the
others. The Y. W. C. A. made little claim about its work in France,
since the United States Government would not, until nearly at the close
of the war, allow women to be sent over in the uniforms of any of the
war-work organizations. But no one can gainsay for a single moment the
efficient service rendered by the Y. W. C. A. in its hostess-house work
in the American camps; that work alone would have entitled it to the
support of the American people. That of the Y. M. C. A. was on so large
a scale that naturally its inefficiency was often in proportion to its
magnitude.

Bok was in France when the storm of criticism against the Y. M. C. A.
broke out, and, as State chairman for Pennsylvania, it was his duty to
meet the outcry when it came over to the United States. That the work of
the Y. M. C. A. was faulty no one can deny. Bok saw the "holes" long
before they were called to the attention of the public, but he also saw
the almost impossible task, in face of prevailing difficulties, of
caulking them up. No one who was not in France can form any conception
of the practically insurmountable obstacles against which all the
war-work organizations worked; and the larger the work the greater were
the obstacles, naturally. That the Y. M. C. A. and the other similar
agencies made mistakes is not the wonder so much as that they did not
make more. The real marvel is that they did so much efficient work. For
after we get a little farther away from the details and see the work of
these agencies in its broader aspects, when we forget the lapses--which,
after all, though irritating and regrettable, were not major--the record
as a whole will stand as a most signal piece of volunteer service.

What was actually accomplished was nothing short of marvellous; and it
is this fact that must be borne in mind; not the omissions, but the
commissions. And when the American public gets that point of view--as it
will, and, for that matter, is already beginning to do--the work of the
American Y. M. C. A. will no longer suffer for its omissions, but will
amaze and gladden by its accomplishments. As an American officer of high
rank said to Bok at Chaumont headquarters: "The mind cannot take in what
the war would have been without the 'Y.'" And that, in time, will be the
universal American opinion, extended, in proportion to their work, to
all the war-work agencies and the men and women who endured, suffered,
and were killed in their service.



XXXV. At the Battle-Fronts in the Great War


It was in the summer of 1918 that Edward Bok received from the British
Government, through its department of public information, of which Lord
Beaverbrook was the minister, an invitation to join a party of thirteen
American editors to visit Great Britain and France. The British
Government, not versed in publicity methods, was anxious that selected
parties of American publicists should see, personally, what Great
Britain had done, and was doing in the war; and it had decided to ask a
few individuals to pay personal visits to its munition factories, its
great aerodromes, its Great Fleet, which then lay in the Firth of Forth,
and to the battle-fields. It was understood that no specific obligation
rested upon any member of the party to write of what he saw: he was
asked simply to observe and then, with discretion, use his observations
for his own guidance and information in future writing. In fact, each
member was explicitly told that much of what he would see could not be
revealed either personally or in print.

The party embarked in August amid all the attendant secrecy of war
conditions. The steamer was known only by a number, although later it
turned out to be the White Star liner, Adriatic. Preceded by a powerful
United States cruiser, flanked by destroyers, guided overhead by
observation balloons, the Adriatic was found to be the first ship in a
convoy of sixteen other ships with thirty thousand United States troops
on board.

It was a veritable Armada that steamed out of lower New York harbor on
that early August morning, headed straight into the rising sun. But it
was a voyage of unpleasant war reminders, with life-savers carried every
moment of the day, with every light out at night, with every window and
door as if hermetically sealed so that the stuffy cabins deprived of
sleep those accustomed to fresh air, with over sixty army men and
civilians on watch at night, with life-drills each day, with lessons as
to behavior in life-boats; and with a fleet of eighteen British
destroyers meeting the convoy upon its approach to the Irish Coast after
a thirteen days' voyage of constant anxiety. No one could say he
travelled across the Atlantic Ocean in war days for pleasure, and no one
did.

Once ashore, the party began a series of inspections of munition plants,
ship-yards, aeroplane factories and of meetings with the different
members of the English War Cabinet. Luncheons and dinners were the order
of each day until broken by a journey to Edinburgh to see the amazing
Great Fleet, with the addition of six of the foremost fighting machines
of the United States Navy, all straining like dogs at leash, awaiting an
expected dash from the bottled-up German fleet. It was a formidable
sight, perhaps never equalled: those lines of huge, menacing, and yet
protecting fighting machines stretching down the river for miles, all
conveying the single thought of the power and extent of the British Navy
and its formidable character as a fighting unit.

It was upon his return to London that Bok learned, through the
confidence of a member of the British "inner circle," the amazing news
that the war was practically over: that Bulgaria had capitulated and was
suing for peace; that two of the Central Power provinces had indicated
their strong desire that the war should end; and that the first peace
intimations had gone to the President of the United States. All
diplomatic eyes were turned toward Washington. Yet not a hint of the
impending events had reached the public. The Germans were being beaten
back, that was known; it was evident that the morale of the German army
was broken; that Foch had turned the tide toward victory; but even the
best-informed military authorities outside of the inner diplomatic
circles, predicted that the war would last until the spring of 1919,
when a final "drive" would end it. Yet, at that very moment, the end of
the war was in sight!

Next Bok went to France to visit the battle-fields. It was arranged that
the party should first, under guidance of British officers, visit back
of the British lines; and then, successively, be turned over to the
American and French Governments, and visit the operations back of their
armies.

It is an amusing fact that although each detail of officers delegated to
escort the party "to the front" received the most explicit instructions
from their superior officers to take the party only to the quiet sectors
where there was no fighting going on, each detail from the three
governments successively brought the party directly under shell-fire,
and each on the first day of the "inspection." It was unconsciously
done: the officers were as much amazed to find themselves under fire as
were the members of the party, except that the latter did not feel the
responsibility to an equal degree. The officers, in each case, were
plainly worried: the editors were intensely interested.

They were depressing trips through miles and miles of devastated
villages and small cities. From two to three days each were spent in
front-line posts on the Amiens-Bethune, Albert-Peronne,
Bapaume-Soissons, St. Mihiel, and back of the Argonne sectors. Often,
the party was the first civilian group to enter a town evacuated only a
week before, and all the horrible evidence of bloody warfare was fresh
and plain. Bodies of German soldiers lay in the trenches where they had
fallen; wired bombs were on every hand, so that no object could be
touched that lay on the battle-fields; the streets of some of the towns
were still mined, so that no automobiles could enter; the towns were
deserted, the streets desolate. It was an appalling panorama of the most
frightful results of war.

The picturesqueness and romance of the war of picture books were
missing. To stand beside an English battery of thirty guns laying a
barrage as they fired their shells to a point ten miles distant, made
one feel as if one were an actual part of real warfare, and yet far
removed from it, until the battery was located from the enemy's "sausage
observation"; then the shells from the enemy fired a return salvo, and
the better part of valor was discretion a few miles farther back.

The amazing part of the "show," however, was the American doughboy.
Never was there a more cheerful, laughing, good-natured set of boys in
the world; never a more homesick, lonely, and complaining set. But good
nature predominated, and the smile was always uppermost, even when the
moment looked the blackest, the privations were worst, and the longing
for home the deepest.

Bok had been talking to a boy who lived near his own home, who was on
his way to the front and "over the top" in the Argonne mess. Three days
afterward, at a hospital base where a hospital train was just
discharging its load of wounded, Bok walked among the boys as they lay
on their stretchers on the railroad platform waiting for bearers to
carry them into the huts. As he approached one stretcher, a cheery voice
called, "Hello, Mr. Bok. Here I am again."

It was the boy he had left just seventy-two hours before hearty and
well.

"Well, my boy, you weren't in it long, were you?"

"No, sir," answered the boy; "Fritzie sure got me first thing. Hadn't
gone a hundred yards over the top. Got a cigarette?" (the invariable
question).

Bok handed a cigarette to the boy, who then said: "Mind sticking it in
my mouth?" Bok did so and then offered him a light; the boy continued,
all with his wonderful smile: "If you don't mind, would you just light
it? You see, Fritzie kept both of my hooks as souvenirs."

With both arms amputated, the boy could still jest and smile!

It was the same boy who on his hospital cot the next day said: "Don't
you think you could do something for the chap next to me, there on my
left? He's really suffering: cried like hell all last night. It would be
a Godsend if you could get Doc to do something."

A promise was given that the surgeon should be seen at once, but the boy
was asked: "How about you?"

"Oh," came the cheerful answer, "I'm all right. I haven't anything to
hurt. My wounded members are gone--just plain gone. But that chap has
got something--he got the real thing!"

What was the real thing according to such a boy's idea?

There were beautiful stories that one heard "over there." One of the
most beautiful acts of consideration was told, later, of a lovable boy
whose throat had been practically shot away. During his convalescence he
had learned the art of making beaded bags. It kept him from talking, the
main prescription. But one day he sold the bag which he had first made
to a visitor, and with his face radiant with glee he sought the
nurse-mother to tell her all about his good fortune. Of course, nothing
but a series of the most horrible guttural sounds came from the boy: not
a word could be understood. It was his first venture into the world with
the loss of his member, and the nurse-mother could not find it in her
heart to tell the boy that not a word which he spoke was understandable.
With eyes full of tears she placed both of her hands on the boy's
shoulders and said to him: "I am so sorry, my boy. I cannot understand a
word you say to me. You evidently do not know that I am totally deaf.
Won't you write what you want to tell me?"

A look of deepest compassion swept the face of the boy. To think that
one could be so afflicted, and yet so beautifully tender and always so
radiantly cheerful, he wrote her.

Pathos and humor followed rapidly one upon the other "at the front" in
those gruesome days, and Bok was to have his spirits lightened somewhat
by an incident of the next day. He found himself in one of the numerous
little towns where our doughboys were billeted, some in the homes of the
peasants, others in stables, barns, outhouses, lean-tos, and what not.
These were the troops on their way to the front where the fighting in
the Argonne Forest was at that time going on. As Bok was walking with an
American officer, the latter pointed to a doughboy crossing the road,
followed by as disreputable a specimen of a pig as he had ever seen.
Catching Bok's smile, the officer said: "That's Pinney and his porker.
Where you see the one you see the other."

Bok caught up with the boy, and said: "Found a friend, I see, Buddy?"

"I sure have," grinned the doughboy, "and it sticks closer than a poor
relation, too."

"Where did you pick it up?"

"Oh, in there," said the soldier, pointing to a dilapidated barn.

"Why in there?"

"My home," grinned the boy.

"Let me see," said Bok, and the doughboy took him in with the pig
following close behind. "Billeted here--been here six days. The pig was
here when we came, and the first night I lay down and slept, it came up
to me and stuck its snout in my face and woke me up. Kind enough, all
right, but not very comfortable: it stinks so."

"Yes; it certainly does. What did you do?"

"Oh, I got some grub I had and gave it to eat: thought it might be
hungry, you know. I guess that sort of settled it, for the next night it
came again and stuck its snout right in my mug. I turned around, but it
just climbed over me and there it was."

"Well, what did you do then? Chase it out?"

"Chase it out?" said the doughboy, looking into Bok's face with the most
unaffected astonishment. "Why, mister, that's a mother-pig, that is.
She's going to have young ones in a few days. How could I chase her
out?"

"You're quite right, Buddy," said Bok. "You couldn't do that."

"Oh, no," said the boy. "The worst of it is, what am I going to do with
her when we move up within a day or two? I can't take her along to the
front, and I hate to leave her here. Some one might treat her rough."

"Captain," said Bok, hailing the officer, "you can attend to that, can't
you, when the time comes?"

"I sure can, and I sure will," answered the Captain. And with a quick
salute, Pinney and his porker went off across the road!

Bok was standing talking to the commandant of one of the great French
army supply depots one morning. He was a man of forty; a colonel in the
regular French army. An erect, sturdy-looking man with white hair and
mustache, and who wore the single star of a subaltern on his sleeve,
came up, saluted, delivered a message, and then asked:

"Are there any more orders, sir?"

"No," was the reply.

He brought his heels together with a click, saluted again, and went
away.

The commandant turned to Bok with a peculiar smile on his face and
asked:

"Do you know who that man is?"

"No," was the reply.

"That is my father," was the answer.

The father was then exactly seventy-two years old. He was a retired
business man when the war broke out. After two years of the heroic
struggle he decided that he couldn't keep out of it. He was too old to
fight, but after long insistence he secured a commission. By one of the
many curious coincidences of the war he was assigned to serve under his
own son.

When under the most trying conditions, the Americans never lost their
sense of fun. On the staff of a prison hospital in Germany, where a
number of captured American soldiers were being treated, a German
sergeant became quite friendly with the prisoners under his care. One
day he told them that he had been ordered to active service on the
front. He felt convinced that he would be captured by the English, and
asked the Americans if they would not give him some sort of testimonial
which he could show if he were taken prisoner, so that he would not be
ill-treated.

The Americans were much amused at this idea, and concocted a note of
introduction, written in English. The German sergeant knew no English
and could not understand his testimonial, but he tucked it in his
pocket, well satisfied.

In due time, he was sent to the front and was captured by "the ladies
from hell," as the Germans called the Scotch kilties. He at once
presented his introduction, and his captors laughed heartily when they
read:

"This is L--. He is not a bad sort of chap. Don't shoot him; torture him
slowly to death."

One evening as Bok was strolling out after dinner a Red Cross nurse came
to him, explained that she had two severely wounded boys in what
remained of an old hut: that they were both from Pennsylvania, and had
expressed a great desire to see him as a resident of their State.

"Neither can possibly survive the night," said the nurse.

"They know that?" asked Bok.

"Oh, yes, but like all our boys they are lying there joking with each
other."

Bok was taken into what remained of a room in a badly shelled farmhouse,
and there, on two roughly constructed cots, lay the two boys. Their
faces had been bandaged so that nothing was visible except the eyes of
each boy. A candle in a bottle standing on a box gave out the only
light. But the eyes of the boys were smiling as Bok came in and sat down
on the box on which the nurse had been sitting. He talked with the boys,
got as much of their stories from them as he could, and told them such
home news as he thought might interest them.

After half an hour he arose to leave, when the nurse said: "There is no
one here, Mr. Bok, to say the last words to these boys. Will you do it?"
Bok stood transfixed. In sending men over in the service of the Y. M. C.
A. he had several times told them to be ready for any act that they
might be asked to render, even the most sacred one. And here he stood
himself before that duty. He felt as if he stood stripped before his
Maker. Through the glassless window the sky lit up constantly with the
flashes of the guns, and then followed the booming of a shell as it
landed.

"Yes, won't you, sir?" asked the boy on the right cot as he held out his
hand. Bok took it, and then the hand of the other boy reached out.

What to say, he did not know. Then, to his surprise, he heard himself
repeating extract after extract from a book by Lyman Abbott called The
Other Room, a message to the bereaved declaring the non-existence of
death, but that we merely move from this earth to another: from one room
to another, as it were. Bok had not read the book for years, but here
was the subconscious self supplying the material for him in his moment
of greatest need. Then he remembered that just before leaving home he
had heard sung at matins, after the prayer for the President, a
beautiful song called "Passing Souls." He had asked the rector for a
copy of it; and, wondering why, he had put it in his wallet that he
carried with him. He took it out now and holding the hand of the boy at
his right, he read to them:

  For the passing souls we pray,
  Saviour, meet them on their way;
  Let their trust lay hold on Thee
  Ere they touch eternity.

  Holy counsels long forgot
  Breathe again 'mid shell and shot;
  Through the mist of life's last pain
  None shall look to Thee in vain.

  To the hearts that know Thee, Lord,
  Thou wilt speak through flood or sword;
  Just beyond the cannon's roar,
  Thou art on the farther shore.

  For the passing souls we pray,
  Saviour, meet them on the way;
  Thou wilt hear our yearning call,
  Who hast loved and died for all.

Absolute stillness reigned in the room save for the half-suppressed sob
from the nurse and the distant booming of the cannon. As Bok finished,
he heard the boy at his right say slowly: "Saviour-meet-me-on-my-way":
with a little emphasis on the word "my." The hand in his relaxed slowly,
and then fell on the cot; and he saw that the soul of another brave
American boy had "gone West."

Bok glanced at the other boy, reached for his hand, shook it, and
looking deep into his eyes, he left the little hut.

He little knew where and how he was to look into those eyes again!

Feeling the need of air in order to get hold of himself after one of the
most solemn moments of his visit to the front, Bok strolled out, and
soon found himself on what only a few days before had been a field of
carnage where the American boys had driven back the Germans. Walking in
the trenches and looking out, in the clear moonlight, over the field of
desolation and ruin, and thinking of the inferno that had been enacted
there only so recently, he suddenly felt his foot rest on what seemed to
be a soft object. Taking his "ever-ready" flash from his pocket, he shot
a ray at his feet, only to realize that his foot was resting on the face
of a dead German!

Bok had had enough for one evening! In fact, he had had enough of war in
all its aspects; and he felt a sigh of relief when, a few days
thereafter, he boarded The Empress of Asia for home, after a ten-weeks
absence.

He hoped never again to see, at first hand, what war meant!



XXXVI. The End of Thirty Years' Editorship


On the voyage home, Edward Bok decided that, now the war was over, he
would ask his company to release him from the editorship of The Ladies'
Home Journal. His original plan had been to retire at the end of a
quarter of a century of editorship, when in his fiftieth year. He was,
therefore, six years behind his schedule. In October, 1919, he would
reach his thirtieth anniversary as editor, and he fixed upon this as an
appropriate time for the relinquishment of his duties.

He felt he had carried out the conditions under which the editorship of
the magazine had been transferred to him by Mrs. Curtis, that he had
brought them to fruition, and that any further carrying on of the
periodical by him would be of a supplementary character. He had, too,
realized his hope of helping to create a national institution of service
to the American woman, and he felt that his part in the work was done.

He considered carefully where he would leave an institution which the
public had so thoroughly associated with his personality, and he felt
that at no point in its history could he so safely transfer it to other
hands. The position of the magazine in the public estimation was
unquestioned; it had never been so strong. Its circulation not only had
outstripped that of any other monthly periodical, but it was still
growing so rapidly that it was only a question of a few months when it
would reach the almost incredible mark of two million copies per month.
With its advertising patronage exceeding that of any other monthly, the
periodical had become, probably, the most valuable and profitable piece
of magazine property in the world.

The time might never come again when all conditions would be equally
favorable to a change of editorship. The position of the magazine was so
thoroughly assured that its progress could hardly be affected by the
retirement of one editor, and the accession of another. There was a
competent editorial staff, the members of which had been with the
periodical from ten to thirty years each. This staff had been a very
large factor in the success of the magazine. While Bok had furnished the
initiative and supplied the directing power, a large part of the
editorial success of the magazine was due to the staff. It could carry
on the magazine without his guidance.

Moreover, Bok wished to say good-bye to his public before it decided,
for some reason or other, to say good-bye to him. He had no desire to
outstay his welcome. That public had been wonderfully indulgent toward
his shortcomings, lenient with his errors, and tremendously inspiring to
his best endeavor. He would not ask too much of it. Thirty years was a
long tenure of office, one of the longest, in point of consecutively
active editorship, in the history of American magazines.

He had helped to create and to put into the life of the American home a
magazine of peculiar distinction. From its beginning it had been unlike
any other periodical; it had always retained its individuality as a
magazine apart from the others. It had sought to be something more than
a mere assemblage of stories and articles. It had consistently stood for
ideals; and, save in one or two instances, it had carried through what
it undertook to achieve. It had a record of worthy accomplishment; a
more fruitful record than many imagined. It had become a national
institution such as no other magazine had ever been. It was indisputably
accepted by the public and by business interests alike as the recognized
avenue of approach to the intelligent homes of America.

Edward Bok was content to leave it at this point.

He explained all this in December, 1918, to the Board of Directors, and
asked that his resignation be considered. It was understood that he was
to serve out his thirty years, thus remaining with the magazine for the
best part of another year.

In the material which The Journal now included in its contents, it began
to point the way to the problems which would face women during the
reconstruction period. Bok scanned the rather crowded field of thought
very carefully, and selected for discussion in the magazine such
questions as seemed to him most important for the public to understand
in order to face and solve its impending problems. The outstanding
question he saw which would immediately face men and women of the
country was the problem of Americanization. The war and its
after-effects had clearly demonstrated this to be the most vital need in
the life of the nation, not only for the foreign-born but for the
American as well.

The more one studied the problem the clearer it became that the vast
majority of American-born needed a refreshing, and, in many cases, a new
conception of American ideals as much as did the foreign-born, and that
the latter could never be taught what America and its institutions stood
for until they were more clearly defined in the mind of the men and
women of American birth.

Bok went to Washington, consulted with Franklin K. Lane, secretary of
the interior, of whose department the Government Bureau of
Americanization was a part. A comprehensive series of articles was
outlined; the most expert writer, Esther Everett Lape, who had several
years of actual experience in Americanization work, was selected;
Secretary Lane agreed personally to read and pass upon the material, and
to assume the responsibility for its publication.

With the full and direct co-operation of the Federal Bureau of
Americanization, the material was assembled and worked up with the
result that, in the opinion of the director of the Federal Bureau, the
series proved to be the most comprehensive exposition of practical
Americanization adapted to city, town, and village, thus far published.

The work on this series was one of the last acts of Edward Bok's
editorship; and it was peculiarly gratifying to him that his editorial
work should end with the exposition of that Americanization of which he
himself was a product. It seemed a fitting close to the career of a
foreign-born Americanized editor.

The scope of the reconstruction articles now published, and the clarity
of vision shown in the selection of the subjects, gave a fresh impetus
to the circulation of the magazine; and now that the government's
embargo on the use of paper had been removed, the full editions of the
periodical could again be printed. The public responded instantly.

The result reached phenomenal figures. The last number under Bok's full
editorial control was the issue of October, 1919. This number was
oversold with a printed edition of two million copies--a record never
before achieved by any magazine. This same issue presented another
record unattained in any single number of any periodical in the world.
It carried between its covers the amazing total of over one million
dollars in advertisements.

This was the psychological point at which to stop. And Edward Bok did.
Although his official relation as editor did not terminate until
January, 1920, when the number which contained his valedictory editorial
was issued, his actual editorship ceased on September 22, 1919. On that
day he handed over the reins to his successor.

As Bok was, on that day, about to leave his desk for the last time, it
was announced that a young soldier whom he "had met and befriended in
France" was waiting to see him. When the soldier walked into the office
he was to Bok only one of the many whom he had met on the other side.
But as the boy shook hands with him and said: "I guess you do not
remember me, Mr. Bok," there was something in the eyes into which he
looked that startled him. And then, in a flash, the circumstances under
which he had last seen those eyes came to him.

"Good heavens, my boy, you are not one of those two boys in the little
hut that I--"

"To whom you read the poem 'Passing Souls,' that evening. Yes, sir, I'm
the boy who had hold of your left hand. My bunkie, Ben, went West that
same evening, you remember."

"Yes," replied the editor, "I remember; I remember only too well," and
again Bok felt the hand in his relax, drop from his own, and heard the
words: "Saviour-meet-me-on-my way."

The boy's voice brought Bok back to the moment.

"It's wonderful you should remember me; my face was all bound up--I
guess you couldn't see anything but my eyes."

"Just the eyes, that's right," said Bok. "But they burned into me all
right, my boy."

"I don't think I get you, sir," said the boy.

"No, you wouldn't," Bok replied. "You couldn't, boy, not until you're
older. But, tell me, how in the world did you ever get out of it?"

"Well, sir," answered the boy, with that shyness which we all have come
to know in the boys who actually did, "I guess it was a close call, all
right. But just as you left us, a hospital corps happened to come along
on its way to the back and Miss Nelson--the nurse, you remember?--she
asked them to take me along. They took me to a wonderful hospital, gave
me fine care, and then after a few weeks they sent me back to the
States, and I've been in a hospital over here ever since. Now, except
for this thickness of my voice that you notice, which Doc says will be
all right soon, I'm fit again. The government has given me a job, and I
came here on leave just to see my parents up-State, and I thought I'd
like you to know that I didn't go West after all."

Fifteen minutes later, Edward Bok left his editorial office for the last
time.

But as he went home his thoughts were not of his last day at the office,
nor of his last acts as editor, but of his last caller--the soldier-boy
whom he had left seemingly so surely on his way "West," and whose eyes
had burned into his memory on that fearful night a year before!

Strange that this boy should have been his last visitor!

As John Drinkwater, in his play, makes Abraham Lincoln say to General
Grant:

"It's a queer world!"



XXXVII. The Third Period


The announcement of Edward Bok's retirement came as a great surprise to
his friends. Save for one here and there, who had a clearer vision, the
feeling was general that he had made a mistake. He was fifty-six, in the
prime of life, never in better health, with "success lying easily upon
him"--said one; "at the very summit of his career," said another--and
all agreed it was "queer," "strange,"--unless, they argued, he was
really ill. Even the most acute students of human affairs among his
friends wondered. It seemed incomprehensible that any man should want to
give up before he was, for some reason, compelled to do so. A man should
go on until he "dropped in the harness," they argued.

Bok agreed that any man had a perfect right to work until he did "drop
in the harness." But, he argued, if he conceded this right to others,
why should they not concede to him the privilege of dropping with the
blinders off?

"But," continued the argument, "a man degenerates when he retires from
active affairs." And then, instances were pointed out as notable
examples. "A year of retirement and he was through," was the picture
given of one retired man. "In two years, he was glad to come back," and
so the examples ran on. "No big man ever retired from active business
and did great work afterwards," Bok was told.

"No?" he answered. "Not even Cyrus W. Field or Herbert Hoover?"

And all this time Edward Bok's failure to be entirely Americanized was
brought home to his consciousness. After fifty years, he was still not
an American! He had deliberately planned, and then had carried out his
plan, to retire while he still had the mental and physical capacity to
enjoy the fruits of his years of labor! For foreign to the American way
of thinking it certainly was: the protestations and arguments of his
friends proved that to him. After all, he was still Dutch; he had held
on to the lesson which his people had learned years ago; that the people
of other European countries had learned; that the English had
discovered: that the Great Adventure of Life was something more than
material work, and that the time to go is while the going is good!

For it cannot be denied that the pathetic picture we so often see is
found in American business life more frequently than in that of any
other land: men unable to let go--not only for their own good, but to
give the younger men behind them an opportunity. Not that a man should
stop work, for man was born to work, and in work he should find his
greatest refreshment. But so often it does not occur to the man in a
pivotal position to question the possibility that at sixty or seventy he
can keep steadily in touch with a generation whose ideas are controlled
by men twenty years younger. Unconsciously he hangs on beyond his
greatest usefulness and efficiency: he convinces himself that he is
indispensable to his business, while, in scores of cases, the business
would be distinctly benefited by his retirement and the consequent
coming to the front of the younger blood.

Such a man in a position of importance seems often not to see that he
has it within his power to advance the fortunes of younger men by
stepping out when he has served his time, while by refusing to let go he
often works dire injustice and even disaster to his younger associates.

The sad fact is that in all too many instances the average American
business man is actually afraid to let go because he realizes that out
of business he should not know what to do. For years he has so excluded
all other interests that at fifty or sixty or seventy he finds himself a
slave to his business, with positively no inner resources. Retirement
from the one thing he does know would naturally leave such a man useless
to himself and his family, and his community: worse than useless, as a
matter of fact, for he would become a burden to himself, a nuisance to
his family, and, when he would begin to write "letters" to the
newspapers, a bore to the community.

It is significant that a European or English business man rarely reaches
middle age devoid of acquaintance with other matters; he always lets the
breezes from other worlds of thought blow through his ideas, with the
result that when he is ready to retire from business he has other
interests to fall back upon. Fortunately it is becoming less uncommon
for American men to retire from business and devote themselves to other
pursuits; and their number will undoubtedly increase as time goes on,
and we learn the lessons of life with a richer background. But one
cannot help feeling regretful that the custom is not growing more
rapidly.

A man must unquestionably prepare years ahead for his retirement, not
alone financially, but mentally as well. Bok noticed as a curious fact
that nearly every business man who told him he had made a mistake in his
retirement, and that the proper life for a man is to stick to the game
and see it through--"hold her nozzle agin the bank" as Jim Bludso would
say--was a man with no resources outside his business. Naturally, a
retirement is a mistake in the eyes of such a man; but oh, the pathos of
such a position: that in a world of so much interest, in an age so
fascinatingly full of things worth doing, a man should have allowed
himself to become a slave to his business, and should imagine no other
man happy without the same claims!

It is this lesson that the American business man has still to learn:
that no man can be wholly efficient in his life, that he is not living a
four-squared existence, if he concentrates every waking thought on his
material affairs. He has still to learn that man cannot live by bread
alone. The making of money, the accumulation of material power, is not
all there is to living. Life is something more than these, and the man
who misses this truth misses the greatest joy and satisfaction that can
come into his life-service for others.

Some men argue that they can give this service and be in business, too.
But service with such men generally means drawing a check for some
worthy cause, and nothing more. Edward Bok never belittled the giving of
contributions--he solicited too much money himself for the causes in
which he was interested--but it is a poor nature that can satisfy itself
that it is serving humanity by merely signing checks. There is no form
of service more comfortable or so cheap. Real service, however, demands
that a man give himself with his check. And that the average man cannot
do if he remains in affairs.

Particularly true is this to-day, when every problem of business is so
engrossing, demanding a man's full time and thought. It is the rare man
who can devote himself to business and be fresh for the service of
others afterward. No man can, with efficiency, serve two masters so
exacting as are these. Besides, if his business has seemed important
enough to demand his entire attention, are not the great uplift
questions equally worth his exclusive thought? Are they easier of
solution than the material problems?

A man can live a life full-square only when he divides it into three
periods:

First: that of education, acquiring the fullest and best within his
reach and power;

Second: that of achievement: achieving for himself and his family, and
discharging the first duty of any man, that in case of his incapacity
those who are closest to him are provided for. But such provision does
not mean an accumulation that becomes to those he leaves behind him an
embarrassment rather than a protection. To prevent this, the next period
confronts him:

Third: Service for others. That is the acid test where many a man falls
short: to know when he has enough, and to be willing not only to let
well enough alone, but to give a helping hand to the other fellow; to
recognize, in a practical way, that we are our brother's keeper; that a
brotherhood of man does exist outside after-dinner speeches. Too many
men make the mistake, when they reach the point of enough, of going on
pursuing the same old game: accumulating more money, grasping for more
power until either a nervous breakdown overtakes them and a sad
incapacity results, or they drop "in the harness," which is, of course,
only calling an early grave by another name. They cannot seem to get the
truth into their heads that as they have been helped by others so should
they now help others: as their means have come from the public, so now
they owe something in turn to that public.

No man has a right to leave the world no better than he found it. He
must add something to it: either he must make its people better and
happier, or he must make the face of the world fairer to look at. And
the one really means the other.

"Idealism," immediately say some. Of course, it is. But what is the
matter with idealism? What really is idealism? Do one-tenth of those who
use the phrase so glibly know its true meaning, the part it has played in
the world? The worthy interpretation of an ideal is that it embodies an
idea--a conception of the imagination. All ideas are at first ideals.
They must be. The producer brings forth an idea, but some dreamer has
dreamed it before him either in whole or in part.

Where would the human race be were it not for the ideals of men? It is
idealists, in a large sense, that this old world needs to-day. Its soil
is sadly in need of new seed. Washington, in his day, was decried as an
idealist. So was Jefferson. It was commonly remarked of Lincoln that he
was a "rank idealist." Morse, Watt, Marconi, Edison--all were, at first,
adjudged idealists. We say of the League of Nations that it is ideal,
and we use the term in a derogatory sense. But that was exactly what was
said of the Constitution of the United States. "Insanely ideal" was the
term used of it.

The idealist, particularly to-day when there is so great need of him, is
not to be scoffed at. It is through him and only through him that the
world will see a new and clear vision of what is right. It is he who has
the power of going out of himself--that self in which too many are
nowadays so deeply imbedded; it is he who, in seeking the ideal, will,
through his own clearer perception or that of others, transform the
ideal into the real. "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

It was his remark that he retired because he wanted "to play" that
Edward Bok's friends most completely misunderstood. "Play" in their
minds meant tennis, golf, horseback, polo, travel, etc.--(curious that
scarcely one mentioned reading!). It so happens that no one enjoys some
of these play-forms more than Bok; but "God forbid," he said, "that I
should spend the rest of my days in a bunker or in the saddle. In
moderation," he added, "yes; most decidedly." But the phrase of "play"
meant more to him than all this. Play is diversion: exertion of the mind
as well as of the body. There is such a thing as mental play as well as
physical play. We ask of play that it shall rest, refresh, exhilarate.
Is there any form of mental activity that secures all these ends so
thoroughly and so directly as doing something that a man really likes to
do, doing it with all his heart, all the time conscious that he is
helping to make the world better for some one else?

A man's "play" can take many forms. If his life has been barren of books
or travel, let him read or see the world. But he reaches his high estate
by either of these roads only when he reads or travels to enrich himself
in order to give out what he gets to enrich the lives of others. He owes
it to himself to get his own refreshment, his own pleasure, but he need
not make that pure self-indulgence.

Other men, more active in body and mind, feel drawn to the modern arena
of the great questions that puzzle. It matters not in which direction a
man goes in these matters any more than the length of a step matters so
much as does the direction in which the step is taken. He should seek
those questions which engross his deepest interest, whether literary,
musical, artistic, civic, economic, or what not.

Our cities, towns, communities of all sizes and kinds, urban and rural,
cry out for men to solve their problems. There is room and to spare for
the man of any bent. The old Romans looked forward, on coming to the age
or retirement, which was definitely fixed by rule, to a rural life, when
they hied themselves to a little home in the country, had open house for
their friends, and "kept bees." While bee-keeping is unquestionably
interesting, there are to-day other and more vital occupations awaiting
the retired American.

The main thing is to secure that freedom of movement that lets a man go
where he will and do what he thinks he can do best, and prove to himself
and to others that the acquirement of the dollar is not all there is to
life. No man can realize, until on awakening some morning he feels the
exhilaration, the sense of freedom that comes from knowing he can choose
his own doings and control his own goings. Time is of more value than
money, and it is that which the man who retires feels that he possesses.
Hamilton Mabie once said, after his retirement from an active editorial
position: "I am so happy that the time has come when I elect what I
shall do," which is true; but then he added: "I have rubbed out the word
'must' from my vocabulary," which was not true. No man ever reaches that
point. Duty of some sort confronts a man in business or out of business,
and duty spells "must." But there is less "must" in the vocabulary of
the retired man; and it is this lessened quantity that gives the tang of
joy to the new day.

It is a wonderful inner personal satisfaction to reach the point when a
man can say: "I have enough." His soul and character are refreshed by
it: he is made over by it. He begins a new life! he gets a sense of a
new joy; he feels, for the first time, what a priceless possession is
that thing that he never knew before, freedom. And if he seeks that
freedom at the right time, when he is at the summit of his years and
powers and at the most opportune moment in his affairs, he has that
supreme satisfaction denied to so many men, the opposite of which comes
home with such cruel force to them: that they have overstayed their
time: they have worn out their welcome.

There is no satisfaction that so thoroughly satisfies as that of going
while the going is good.

Still--

The friends of Edward Bok may be right when they said he made a mistake
in his retirement.

However--

As Mr. Dooley says: "It's a good thing, sometimes, to have people size
ye up wrong, Hinnessey: it's whin they've got ye'er measure ye're in
danger."

Edward Bok's friends have failed to get his measure--yet!

They still have to learn what he has learned and is learning every day:
"the joy," as Charles Lamb so aptly put it upon his retirement, "of
walking about and around instead of to and fro."

The question now naturally arises, having read this record thus far: To
what extent, with his unusual opportunities of fifty years, has the
Americanization of Edward Bok gone? How far is he, to-day, an American?
These questions, so direct and personal in their nature, are perhaps
best answered in a way more direct and personal than the method thus far
adopted in this chronicle. We will, therefore, let Edward Bok answer
these questions for himself, in closing this record of his
Americanization.



XXXVIII. Where America Fell Short with Me


When I came to the United States as a lad of six, the most needful
lesson for me, as a boy, was the necessity for thrift. I had been taught
in my home across the sea that thrift was one of the fundamentals in a
successful life. My family had come from a land (the Netherlands) noted
for its thrift; but we had been in the United States only a few days
before the realization came home strongly to my father and mother that
they had brought their children to a land of waste.

Where the Dutchman saved, the American wasted. There was waste, and the
most prodigal waste, on every hand. In every street-car and on every
ferry-boat the floors and seats were littered with newspapers that had
been read and thrown away or left behind. If I went to a grocery store
to buy a peck of potatoes, and a potato rolled off the heaping measure,
the groceryman, instead of picking it up, kicked it into the gutter for
the wheels of his wagon to run over. The butcher's waste filled my
mother's soul with dismay. If I bought a scuttle of coal at the corner
grocery, the coal that missed the scuttle, instead of being shovelled up
and put back into the bin, was swept into the street. My young eyes
quickly saw this; in the evening I gathered up the coal thus swept away,
and during the course of a week I collected a scuttleful. The first time
my mother saw the garbage pail of a family almost as poor as our own,
with the wife and husband constantly complaining that they could not get
along, she could scarcely believe her eyes. A half pan of hominy of the
preceding day's breakfast lay in the pail next to a third of a loaf of
bread. In later years, when I saw, daily, a scow loaded with the garbage
of Brooklyn householders being towed through New York harbor out to sea,
it was an easy calculation that what was thrown away in a week's time
from Brooklyn homes would feed the poor of the Netherlands.

At school, I quickly learned that to "save money" was to be "stingy"; as
a young man, I soon found that the American disliked the word "economy,"
and on every hand as plenty grew spending grew. There was literally
nothing in American life to teach me thrift or economy; everything to
teach me to spend and to waste.

I saw men who had earned good salaries in their prime, reach the years
of incapacity as dependents. I saw families on every hand either living
quite up to their means or beyond them; rarely within them. The more a
man earned, the more he--or his wife--spent. I saw fathers and mothers
and their children dressed beyond their incomes. The proportion of
families who ran into debt was far greater than those who saved. When a
panic came, the families "pulled in"; when the panic was over, they "let
out." But the end of one year found them precisely where they were at
the close of the previous year, unless they were deeper in debt.

It was in this atmosphere of prodigal expenditure and culpable waste
that I was to practise thrift: a fundamental in life! And it is into
this atmosphere that the foreign-born comes now, with every inducement
to spend and no encouragement to save. For as it was in the days of my
boyhood, so it is to-day--only worse. One need only go over the
experiences of the past two years, to compare the receipts of merchants
who cater to the working-classes and the statements of savings-banks
throughout the country, to read the story of how the foreign-born are
learning the habit of criminal wastefulness as taught them by the
American.

Is it any wonder, then, that in this, one of the essentials in life and
in all success, America fell short with me, as it is continuing to fall
short with every foreign-born who comes to its shores?

As a Dutch boy, one of the cardinal truths taught me was that whatever
was worth doing was worth doing well: that next to honesty came
thoroughness as a factor in success. It was not enough that anything
should be done: it was not done at all if it was not done well. I came
to America to be taught exactly the opposite. The two infernal
Americanisms "That's good enough" and "That will do" were early taught
me, together with the maxim of quantity rather than quality.

It was not the boy at school who could write the words in his copy-book
best who received the praise of the teacher; it was the boy who could
write the largest number of words in a given time. The acid test in
arithmetic was not the mastery of the method, but the number of minutes
required to work out an example. If a boy abbreviated the month January
to "Jan." and the word Company to "Co." he received a hundred per cent
mark, as did the boy who spelled out the words and who could not make
the teacher see that "Co." did not spell "Company."

As I grew into young manhood, and went into business, I found on every
hand that quantity counted for more than quality. The emphasis was
almost always placed on how much work one could do in a day, rather than
upon how well the work was done. Thoroughness was at a discount on every
hand; production at a premium. It made no difference in what direction I
went, the result was the same: the cry was always for quantity,
quantity! And into this atmosphere of almost utter disregard for quality
I brought my ideas of Dutch thoroughness and my conviction that doing
well whatever I did was to count as a cardinal principle in life.

During my years of editorship, save in one or two conspicuous instances,
I was never able to assign to an American writer, work which called for
painstaking research. In every instance, the work came back to me either
incorrect in statement, or otherwise obviously lacking in careful
preparation.

One of the most successful departments I ever conducted in The Ladies'
Home Journal called for infinite reading and patient digging, with the
actual results sometimes almost negligible. I made a study of my
associates by turning the department over to one after another, and
always with the same result: absolute lack of a capacity for patient
research. As one of my editors, typically American, said to me: "It
isn't worth all the trouble that you put into it." Yet no single
department ever repaid the searcher more for his pains. Save for
assistance derived from a single person, I had to do the work myself for
all the years that the department continued. It was apparently
impossible for the American to work with sufficient patience and care to
achieve a result.

We all have our pet notions as to the particular evil which is "the
curse of America," but I always think that Theodore Roosevelt came
closest to the real curse when he classed it as a lack of thoroughness.

Here again, in one of the most important matters in life, did America
fall short with me; and, what is more important, she is falling short
with every foreigner that comes to her shores.

In the matter of education, America fell far short in what should be the
strongest of all her institutions: the public school. A more inadequate,
incompetent method of teaching, as I look back over my seven years of
attendance at three different public schools, it is difficult to
conceive. If there is one thing that I, as a foreign-born child, should
have been carefully taught, it is the English language. The individual
effort to teach this, if effort there was, and I remember none, was
negligible. It was left for my father to teach me, or for me to dig it
out for myself. There was absolutely no indication on the part of
teacher or principal of responsibility for seeing that a foreign-born
boy should acquire the English language correctly. I was taught as if I
were American-born, and, of course, I was left dangling in the air, with
no conception of what I was trying to do.

My father worked with me evening after evening; I plunged my young mind
deep into the bewildering confusions of the language--and no one
realizes the confusions of the English language as does the
foreign-born--and got what I could through these joint efforts. But I
gained nothing from the much-vaunted public-school system which the
United States had borrowed from my own country, and then had rendered
incompetent--either by a sheer disregard for the thoroughness that makes
the Dutch public schools the admiration of the world, or by too close a
regard for politics.

Thus, in her most important institution to the foreign-born, America
fell short. And while I am ready to believe that the public school may
have increased in efficiency since that day, it is, indeed, a question
for the American to ponder, just how far the system is efficient for the
education of the child who comes to its school without a knowledge of
the first word in the English language. Without a detailed knowledge of
the subject, I know enough of conditions in the average public school
to-day to warrant at least the suspicion that Americans would not be
particularly proud of the system, and of what it gives for which
annually they pay millions of dollars in taxes.

I am aware in making this statement that I shall be met with convincing
instances of intelligent effort being made with the foreign-born
children in special classes. No one has a higher respect for those
efforts than I have--few, other than educators, know of them better than
I do, since I did not make my five-year study of the American public
school system for naught. But I am not referring to the exceptional
instance here and there. I merely ask of the American, interested as he
is or should be in the Americanization of the strangers within his
gates, how far the public school system, as a whole, urban and rural,
adapts itself, with any true efficiency, to the foreign-born child. I
venture to color his opinion in no wise; I simply ask that he will
inquire and ascertain for himself, as he should do if he is interested
in the future welfare of his country and his institutions; for what
happens in America in the years to come depends, in large measure, on
what is happening to-day in the public schools of this country.

As a Dutch boy I was taught a wholesome respect for law and for
authority. The fact was impressed upon me that laws of themselves were
futile unless the people for whom they were made respected them, and
obeyed them in spirit more even than in the letter. I came to America to
feel, on every hand, that exactly the opposite was true. Laws were
passed, but were not enforced; the spirit to enforce them was lacking in
the people. There was little respect for the law; there was scarcely any
for those appointed to enforce it.

The nearest that a boy gets to the law is through the policeman. In the
Netherlands a boy is taught that a policeman is for the protection of
life and property; that he is the natural friend of every boy and man
who behaves himself. The Dutch boy and the policeman are, naturally,
friendly in their relations. I came to America to be told that a
policeman is a boy's natural enemy; that he is eager to arrest him if he
can find the slightest reason for doing so. A policeman, I was informed,
was a being to hold in fear, not in respect. He was to be avoided, not
to be made friends with. The result was that, as did all boys, I came to
regard the policeman on our beat as a distinct enemy. His presence meant
that we should "stiffen up"; his disappearance was the signal for us to
"let loose."

So long as one was not caught, it did not matter. I heard mothers tell
their little children that if they did not behave themselves, the
policeman would put them into a bag and carry them off, or cut their
ears off. Of course, the policeman became to them an object of terror;
the law he represented, a cruel thing that stood for punishment. Not a
note of respect did I ever hear for the law in my boyhood days. A law
was something to be broken, to be evaded, to call down upon others as a
source of punishment, but never to be regarded in the light of a
safeguard.

And as I grew into manhood, the newspapers rang on every side with
disrespect for those in authority. Under the special dispensation of the
liberty of the press, which was construed into the license of the press,
no man was too high to escape editorial vituperation if his politics did
not happen to suit the management, or if his action ran counter to what
the proprietors believed it should be. It was not criticism of his acts,
it was personal attack upon the official; whether supervisor, mayor,
governor, or president, it mattered not.

It is a very unfortunate impression that this American lack of respect
for those in authority makes upon the foreign-born mind. It is difficult
for the foreigner to square up the arrest and deportation of a man who,
through an incendiary address, seeks to overthrow governmental
authority, with the ignoring of an expression of exactly the same
sentiments by the editor of his next morning's newspaper. In other
words, the man who writes is immune, but the man who reads, imbibes, and
translates the editor's words into action is immediately marked as a
culprit, and America will not harbor him. But why harbor the original
cause? Is the man who speaks with type less dangerous than he who speaks
with his mouth or with a bomb?

At the most vital part of my life, when I was to become an American
citizen and exercise the right of suffrage, America fell entirely short.
It reached out not even the suggestion of a hand.

When the Presidential Conventions had been held in the year I reached my
legal majority, and I knew I could vote, I endeavored to find out
whether, being foreign-born, I was entitled to the suffrage. No one
could tell me; and not until I had visited six different municipal
departments, being referred from one to another, was it explained that,
through my father's naturalization, I became, automatically, as his son,
an American citizen. I decided to read up on the platforms of the
Republican and Democratic parties, but I could not secure copies
anywhere, although a week had passed since they had been adopted in
convention.

I was told the newspapers had printed them. It occurred to me there must
be many others besides myself who were anxious to secure the platforms
of the two parties in some more convenient form. With the eye of
necessity ever upon a chance to earn an honest penny, I went to a
newspaper office, cut out from its files the two platforms, had them
printed in a small pocket edition, sold one edition to the American News
Company and another to the News Company controlling the Elevated
Railroad bookstands in New York City, where they sold at ten cents each.
So great was the demand which I had only partially guessed, that within
three weeks I had sold such huge editions of the little books that I had
cleared over a thousand dollars.

But it seemed to me strange that it should depend on a foreign-born
American to supply an eager public with what should have been supplied
through the agency of the political parties or through some educational
source.

I now tried to find out what a vote actually meant. It must be recalled
that I was only twenty-one years old, with scant education, and with no
civic agency offering me the information I was seeking. I went to the
headquarters of each of the political parties and put my query. I was
regarded with puzzled looks.

"What does it mean to vote?" asked one chairman.

"Why, on Election Day you go up to the ballot-box and put your ballot
in, and that's all there is to it."

But I knew very well that that was not all there was to it, and was
determined to find out the significance of the franchise. I met with
dense ignorance on every hand. I went to the Brooklyn Library, and was
frankly told by the librarian that he did not know of a book that would
tell me what I wanted to know. This was in 1884.

As the campaign increased in intensity, I found myself a desired person
in the eyes of the local campaign managers, but not one of them could
tell me the significance and meaning of the privilege I was for the
first time to exercise.

Finally, I spent an evening with Seth Low, and, of course, got the
desired information.

But fancy the quest I had been compelled to make to acquire the simple
information that should have been placed in my hands or made readily
accessible to me. And how many foreign-born would take equal pains to
ascertain what I was determined to find out?

Surely America fell short here at the moment most sacred to me: that of
my first vote!

Is it any easier to-day for the foreign citizen to acquire this
information when he approaches his first vote? I wonder! Not that I do
not believe there are agencies for this purpose. You know there are, and
so do I. But how about the foreign-born? Does he know it? Is it not
perhaps like the owner of the bulldog who assured the friend calling on
him that it never attacked friends of the family? "Yes," said the
friend, "that's all right. You know and I know that I am a friend of the
family; but does the dog know?"

Is it to-day made known to the foreign-born, about to exercise his
privilege of suffrage for the first time, where he can be told what that
privilege means: is the means to know made readily accessible to him: is
it, in fact, as it should be, brought to him?

It was not to me; is it to him?

One fundamental trouble with the present desire for Americanization is
that the American is anxious to Americanize two classes--if he is a
reformer, the foreign-born; if he is an employer, his employees. It
never occurs to him that he himself may be in need of Americanization.
He seems to take it for granted that because he is American-born, he is
an American in spirit and has a right understanding of American ideals.
But that, by no means, always follows. There are thousands of the
American-born who need Americanization just as much as do the
foreign-born. There are hundreds of American employers who know far less
of American ideals than do some of their employees. In fact, there are
those actually engaged to-day in the work of Americanization, men at the
top of the movement, who sadly need a better conception of true
Americanism.

An excellent illustration of this came to my knowledge when I attended a
large Americanization Conference in Washington. One of the principal
speakers was an educator of high standing and considerable influence in
one of the most important sections of the United States. In a speech
setting forth his ideas of Americanization, he dwelt with much emphasis
and at considerable length upon instilling into the mind of the
foreign-born the highest respect for American institutions.

After the Conference he asked me whether he could see me that afternoon
at my hotel; he wanted to talk about contributing to the magazine. When
he came, before approaching the object of his talk, he launched out on a
tirade against the President of the United States; the weakness of the
Cabinet, the inefficiency of the Congress, and the stupidity of the
Senate. If words could have killed, there would have not remained a
single living member of the Administration at Washington.

After fifteen minutes of this, I reminded him of his speech and the
emphasis which he had placed upon the necessity of inculcating in the
foreign-born respect for American institutions.

Yet this man was a power in his community, a strong influence upon
others; he believed he could Americanize others, when he himself,
according to his own statements, lacked the fundamental principle of
Americanization. What is true of this man is, in lesser or greater
degree, true of hundreds of others. Their Americanization consists of
lip-service; the real spirit, the only factor which counts in the
successful teaching of any doctrine, is absolutely missing. We certainly
cannot teach anything approaching a true Americanism until we ourselves
feel and believe and practise in our own lives what we are teaching to
others. No law, no lip-service, no effort, however well-intentioned,
will amount to anything worth while in inculcating the true American
spirit in our foreign-born citizens until we are sure that the American
spirit is understood by ourselves and is warp and woof of our own being.

To the American, part and parcel of his country, these particulars in
which his country falls short with the foreign-born are, perhaps, not so
evident; they may even seem not so very important. But to the
foreign-born they seem distinct lacks; they loom large; they form
serious handicaps which, in many cases, are never surmounted; they are a
menace to that Americanization which is, to-day, more than ever our
fondest dream, and which we now realize more keenly than before is our
most vital need.

It is for this reason that I have put them down here as a concrete
instance of where and how America fell short in my own Americanization,
and, what is far more serious to me, where she is falling short in her
Americanization of thousands of other foreign-born.

"Yet you succeeded," it will be argued.

That may be; but you, on the other hand, must admit that I did not
succeed by reason of these shortcomings: it was in spite of them, by
overcoming them--a result that all might not achieve.



XXXIX. What I Owe to America


Whatever shortcomings I may have found during my fifty-year period of
Americanization; however America may have failed to help my transition
from a foreigner into an American, I owe to her the most priceless gift
that any nation can offer, and that is opportunity.

As the world stands to-day, no nation offers opportunity in the degree
that America does to the foreign-born. Russia may, in the future, as I
like to believe she will, prove a second United States of America in
this respect. She has the same limitless area; her people the same
potentialities. But, as things are to-day, the United States offers, as
does no other nation, a limitless opportunity: here a man can go as far
as his abilities will carry him. It may be that the foreign-born, as in
my own case, must hold on to some of the ideals and ideas of the land of
his birth; it may be that he must develop and mould his character by
overcoming the habits resulting from national shortcomings. But into the
best that the foreign-born can retain, America can graft such a wealth
of inspiration, so high a national idealism, so great an opportunity for
the highest endeavor, as to make him the fortunate man of the earth
to-day.

He can go where he will: no traditions hamper him; no limitations are
set except those within himself. The larger the area he chooses in which
to work, the larger the vision he demonstrates, the more eager the
people are to give support to his undertakings if they are convinced
that he has their best welfare as his goal. There is no public
confidence equal to that of the American public, once it is obtained. It
is fickle, of course, as are all publics, but fickle only toward the man
who cannot maintain an achieved success.

A man in America cannot complacently lean back upon victories won, as he
can in the older European countries, and depend upon the glamour of the
past to sustain him or the momentum of success to carry him. Probably
the most alert public in the world, it requires of its leaders that they
be alert. Its appetite for variety is insatiable, but its appreciation,
when given, is full-handed and whole-hearted. The American public never
holds back from the man to whom it gives; it never bestows in a
niggardly way; it gives all or nothing.

What is not generally understood of the American people is their
wonderful idealism. Nothing so completely surprises the foreign-born as
the discovery of this trait in the American character. The impression is
current in European countries--perhaps less generally since the war--that
America is given over solely to a worship of the American dollar. While
between nations as between individuals, comparisons are valueless, it
may not be amiss to say, from personal knowledge, that the Dutch worship
the gulden infinitely more than do the Americans the dollar.

I do not claim that the American is always conscious of this idealism;
often he is not. But let a great convulsion touching moral questions
occur, and the result always shows how close to the surface is his
idealism. And the fact that so frequently he puts over it a thick veneer
of materialism does not affect its quality. The truest approach, the
only approach in fact, to the American character is, as Viscount Bryce
has so well said, through its idealism.

It is this quality which gives the truest inspiration to the
foreign-born in his endeavor to serve the people of his adopted country.
He is mentally sluggish, indeed, who does not discover that America will
make good with him if he makes good with her.

But he must play fair. It is essentially the straight game that the true
American plays, and he insists that you shall play it too. Evidence
there is, of course, to the contrary in American life, experiences that
seem to give ground for the belief that the man succeeds who is not
scrupulous in playing his cards. But never is this true in the long run.
Sooner or later--sometimes, unfortunately, later than sooner--the public
discovers the trickery. In no other country in the world is the moral
conception so clear and true as in America, and no people will give a
larger and more permanent reward to the man whose effort for that public
has its roots in honor and truth.

"The sky is the limit" to the foreign-born who comes to America endowed
with honest endeavor, ceaseless industry, and the ability to carry
through. In any honest endeavor, the way is wide open to the will to
succeed. Every path beckons, every vista invites, every talent is called
forth, and every efficient effort finds its due reward. In no land is
the way so clear and so free.

How good an American has the process of Americanization made me? That I
cannot say. Who can say that of himself? But when I look around me at
the American-born I have come to know as my close friends, I wonder
whether, after all, the foreign-born does not make in some sense a
better American--whether he is not able to get a truer perspective;
whether his is not the deeper desire to see America greater; whether he
is not less content to let its faulty institutions be as they are;
whether in seeing faults more clearly he does not make a more decided
effort to have America reach those ideals or those fundamentals of his
own land which he feels are in his nature, and the best of which he is
anxious to graft into the character of his adopted land?

It is naturally with a feeling of deep satisfaction that I remember two
Presidents of the United States considered me a sufficiently typical
American to wish to send me to my native land as the accredited minister
of my adopted country. And yet when I analyze the reasons for my choice
in both these instances, I derive a deeper satisfaction from the fact
that my strong desire to work in America for America led me to ask to be
permitted to remain here.

It is this strong impulse that my Americanization has made the driving
power of my life. And I ask no greater privilege than to be allowed to
live to see my potential America become actual: the America that I like
to think of as the America of Abraham Lincoln and of Theodore
Roosevelt--not faultless, but less faulty. It is a part in trying to
shape that America, and an opportunity to work in that America when it
comes, that I ask in return for what I owe to her. A greater privilege
no man could have.



  Edward William Bok: Biographical Data

  1863: Born, October 9, at Helder, Netherlands.
  1870: September 20: Arrived in the United States.
  1870: Entered public schools of Brooklyn, New York.
  1873: Obtained first position in Frost's Bakery,
        Smith Street, Brooklyn, at 50 cents per week.
  1876: August 7: Entered employ of the Western
        Union Telegraph Company as office-boy.
  1882: Entered employ of Henry Holt & Company as stenographer.
  1884: Entered employ of Charles Scribner's Sons as stenographer.
  1884: Became editor of The Brooklyn Magazine.
  1886: Founded The Bok Syndicate Press.
  1887: Published Henry Ward Beecher Memorial (privately printed).
  1889: October 20: Became editor of The Ladies' Home Journal.
  1890: Published Successward: Doubleday, McClure & Company.
  1894: Published Before He Is Twenty: Fleming H. Revell Company.
  1896: October 22: Married Mary Louise Curtis.
  1897: September 7: Son born: William Curtis Bok.
  1900: Published The Young Man in Business: L. C. Page & Company.
  1905: January 25: Son born: Cary William Bok.
  1906: Published Her Brother's Letters (Anonymous): Moffat, Yard & Co.
  1907: Degree of LL.D. of Order of Augustinian Fathers conferred by
        order of Pope Pius X., by the Most Reverend Diomede Falconio, D.D.,
        Apostolic Delegate to the United States, at Villanova College.
  1910: Degree of LL.D. conferred, in absentia, by Hope College, Holland,
        Michigan (the only Dutch college in the United States).
  1911: Founded, with others, The Child Federation of Philadelphia.
  1912: Published: The Edward Bok Books of Self-Knowledge; five
        volumes: Fleming H. Revell Company.
  1913: Founded, with others, The Merion Civic Association, at Merion,
        Pennsylvania.
  1915: Published Why I Believe in Poverty: Houghton, Mifflin Company.
  1916: Published poem, God's Hand, set to music by Josef Hofmann:
        Schirmer & Company.
  1917: Vice-president Philadelphia Belgian Relief Commission.
  1917: Member of National Y. M. C. A. War Work Council.
  1917: State chairman for Pennsylvania of Y. M. C. A. War Work Council.
  1918: Member of Executive Committee and chairman of Publicity Committee,
        Philadelphia War Chest.
  1918: Chairman of Philadelphia Y. M. C. A. Recruiting Committee.
  1918: State chairman for Pennsylvania of United War Work Campaign.
  1918: August-November: visited the battle-fronts in France as guest of
        the British Government.
  1919: September 22: Relinquished editorship of The Ladies' Home Journal,
        completing thirty years of service.
  1920: September 20: Upon the 50th anniversary of arrival in the United
        States, published The Americanization of Edward Bok.



The Expression of a Personal Pleasure

I cannot close this record of a boy's development without an attempt to
suggest the sense of deep personal pleasure which I feel that the
imprint on the title-page of this book should be that of the publishing
house which, thirty-six years ago, I entered as stenographer. It was
there I received my start; it was there I laid the foundation of that
future career then so hidden from me. The happiest days of my young
manhood were spent in the employ of this house; I there began
friendships which have grown closer with each passing year. And one of
my deepest sources of satisfaction is, that during all the thirty-one
years which have followed my resignation from the Scribner house, it has
been my good fortune to hold the friendship, and, as I have been led to
believe, the respect of my former employers. That they should now be my
publishers demonstrates, in a striking manner, the curious turning of
the wheel of time, and gives me a sense of gratification difficult of
expression.

Edward W. Bok





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