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Title: Irvin Cobb, His Book: - Friendly Tributes upon the Occasion of a Dinner Tendered - to Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New - York April Twenty-Fifth, MCMXV
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Irvin Cobb, His Book: - Friendly Tributes upon the Occasion of a Dinner Tendered - to Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New - York April Twenty-Fifth, MCMXV" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Old Irv Cobb’s back home!      J.M.F.


       *       *       *       *       *

Appreciation by Robert H. Davis in the New York _Sun_, October 19, 1912.

It is not for me to indicate when the big events in his life will occur
or to lay the milestones of the route along which he will travel. I
know only that they are in the future, and that, regardless of any of
his achievements in the past, Irvin Cobb has not yet come into his own.

       *       *       *       *       *

I know of no single instance where one man has shown such fecundity and
quality as Irvin Cobb has so far evinced, and it is my opinion that at
fifty his complete works will contain more good humor, more good short
stories, and at least one bigger novel than the works of any other
single contemporaneous writer.

       *       *       *       *       *

One is impressed not only with the beauty and simplicity of his
prose, but with the tremendous power of his tragic conceptions and
his art in dealing with terror. There appears to be no phase of human
emotion beyond his pen. Without an effort he rises from the level
of actualities to the high peaks of boundless imagination, invoking
laughter or tears at will.

       *       *       *       *       *

He writes in octaves, striking instinctively all the chords of humor,
tragedy, pathos, and romance with either hand. Observe this man, in his
thirty-seventh year, possessing gifts the limitations of which even he
himself has not yet recognized.

       *       *       *       *       *

There seem to be no pinnacles along the horizon of the literary future
that are beyond him. If he uses his pen for an Alpine stock, the
Matterhorn is his.

Some critics and reviewers do not entirely agree with me concerning
Cobb; _but they will_.

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *


_By Sinclair Lewis_

A man has to be not only famous but well-beloved before the little
facts of his biography become known to any one but his mother and his
aunts. Voltaire and Rousseau are useful persons to whom to refer when
you are dragged to a talk-party, but you feel no burning curiosity
as to where they were born or what editorial page saw their first
effusions. It is Robert Louis Stevenson whose home in Samoa you
photograph; whose refuge in Monterey you visit. And so it is with Irvin
S. Cobb, who is three things: a big reporter, a big writer, and a big

If there is a newspaperman in New York who says that he doesn’t know
that Cobb was born in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1876; that his first
newspaper work was on the _Paducah Daily News_, that he did the Goebel
murder trial, moved to Louisville, came to New York and stole a job on
the _Evening Sun_, then that newspaperman is one of the I-knew-him-when
club, whose family name is Legion and whose middle name is occasionally
Liar. To be a New York newspaperman it is necessary to know Doc Perry’s
and the fact that Cobb was born in Paducah.

There’s a reason for it other than the fact that Cobb is a big writer
and a well-beloved man. That is: Cobb has made Paducah, and all the
other Paducahs--in Kentucky, and Minnesota, and California, and
Vermont--from which the rest of us came, live for us, in fiction which
gets us as no foreign tale ever can. He makes one smell the soil--a
thing that has been said of him so often that it is a platitude.

Covering the Portsmouth Peace Conference for the _Sun_, writing
humorous stuff for the _Evening World_, making a national reputation
for straight reporting with his account of the Thaw trial, Irvin Cobb
had developed into a good, dependable star reporter when suddenly
he broke away and in a story in the _Saturday Evening Post_, a
story called “The Escape of Mr. Trimm,” he made himself known as
a probable genius. No one could tell, yet, but in that story, the
dramatic structure of it, the words like sparks from a third-rail
in a snow-storm, the intensity with which the author saw himself as
the chief character of the tale, there was evidenced a new American
genius. Lord knows we needed him. We had--we still have--been letting
England and France and Kulturland beat us ten to one in fiction. We
had--we still have--a number of expert penmen who could do well with
a wealthy young Yale grad. in a motor car; others, largely feminine,
who could cheer our hearts with sweet stories about the Little Woman
Who Always Smiled. But where were the writers who could go out on the
street, really see the folks going by, and present them truthfully and
interestingly in fiction? With one lone short story, Cobb had elected
himself as one member of that missing and much needed class of geniuses.

Stories of the South followed; other stories, too, of New York. The
mere list of them, as they appear in the two books called “Back Home”
and “The Escape of Mr. Trimm” is enough to bring thrills to every
reader of fiction: The Belled Buzzard, An Occurrence up a Side Street,
Another of Those Cub Reporter Stories, Smoke of Battle, The Exit of
Anse Dugmore, Fishhead; Words and Music, Five Hundred Dollars Reward,
Up Clay Street, The Mob from Massac, Black and White, and the rest....
“Words and Music,” the first story in “Back Home” might be used as a
test for the Americanism of anybody. It’s a seditious, Confederate,
Southern story, but anybody, Yank or Southerner, who doesn’t thrill to
it, doesn’t feel all the old traditions of the real country when he
reads it, is a fake-American, a person of hyphenation.

Meanwhile, writing these slices of authentic genius, Cobb was not
forgetting his humor, and he decorated the _Saturday Evening Post_
with improper references to stomachs and dentists and vittles and art,
published in book form as “Cobb’s Anatomy,” and “Cobb’s Bill-of-Fare,”
then with irreverent things about the tourists and real-estate artists
from the Grand Canyon to San Francisco, published as “Roughing It De
Luxe,” and still more irreverent things about the grand old game of
doing the American tourist, published in “Europe Revised.”

And then the Great War, and Cobb’s account of it in “Paths of Glory.”

I have listed his books at such length--because they are at such
length. Here is Cobb, aged only thirty-nine, a mere child in the game.
A few years ago everybody was surprisedly saying that he was a good
fellow, fished discriminatingly, told edifying tales, was a friend
of Bob Davis and George Horace Lorimer and Sam Blythe, was not very
handsome, but was one of the few big newspapermen in whose records
there wasn’t one single black spot, one single case of meanness or
pettiness or failure in sympathy. The diagnosis was usually wound
up, “He will be a big writer.” That is, to-day, no proper ending for
this scholarly biography of Cobb, for he _is_ a big writer, and his
permanent place depends upon his written word.


       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *


“Not to exceed one hundred words.”--_The Editors_


  A hundred words to eulogize
  And crown with figurative flowers
  Our honoured one?--
  And chant his praises to the skies
  During these merry midnight hours?
  It can’t be done!


  Search dictionaries for his fête!
  Rummage Thesaurus through and through
  And also rob
  Encyclopedias to date!
  Their million words are all too few
  To honour Cobb.


  No! All the languages of Earth
  Set to the music of the spheres
  Can’t do the job!
  Not words but hearts enshrine your worth,
  Master of laughter and of tears,
  Old Irvin Cobb!

                                                  --_Robert W. Chambers_

       *       *       *       *       *

  You may praise, you may flatter I. Cobb if you will,
  But the band of his derby will fit round him still.

                                                       --_Julian Street_

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: BY HARRISON FISHER]

       *       *       *       *       *

There is nothing in the world pleasanter than meeting nice people,
and by nice people I mean in the case of men, good-tempered and
entertaining people. Women, to be really nice, must also be good
looking. An author--it is to this tribe that Mr. Cobb belongs--gives
us the pleasure of meeting him twice; meeting him twice, that is to
say, for the first time. I met Mr. Cobb in a train between Chicago and
Memphis, a vile train which went through maybe a dull country. Mr. Cobb
was the one redeeming feature of the journey. I had him in my bag and
I fought for the possession of him with my wife. He was nicely bound
and there were more than 200 pages of him. The next occasion on which I
met Mr. Cobb for the first time was at an afternoon party. It was quite
as dull as the railway journey until--a foolish person insisted on my
making a speech and then on another man making a speech. That shows how
dull the party was. Then the same person, turned suddenly wise, said
that Mr. Cobb was to tell stories, and he did. The party was not dull
any more. That was the second of my two first meetings with Mr. Cobb.
I met the author and I met the man. There was no disappointment about
either meeting.

                                                --_George A. Birmingham_

       *       *       *       *       *

If Irvin Cobb had ever been a ball player he would have been more of an
all-around player than Tyrus R. Cobb by about twenty-two inches.

                                                      --_Grantland Rice_

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *

I have been asked to write “an appreciation” of Irvin S. Cobb. I
appreciate Cobb, but if I appreciate him too much he will raise his
prices, and if I appreciate him too little he will seek an editor who
understands the artistic temperament, so I appreciate him just enough.
I appreciate him because he makes laughter; because he makes tears; and
because he makes circulation. But most of all I appreciate him because
he is the only man writing for the magazines who was not discovered by
Robert Harding Davis. As Editor of the _Paducah Bugle_, Cobb was the
first man to discover and appreciate Irvin S. Cobb. To-night he sits
among us a monumental example of apt appreciation’s artless aid.

                                               --_George Horace Lorimer_

       *       *       *       *       *

I can imagine nothing more superfluous than giving a dinner to Irvin
Cobb, regarded from the viewpoints of nourishment, nutrition and waist
measurement. If, however, there is some idea in the proceeding of
giving the lie to the ancient calumny that no one loves a fat man, then
the occasion may serve a useful purpose. If it goes still further and
seeks to establish affirmatively that every one loves one particular
fat man, I heartily endorse the undertaking. If this is the theory, a
number of dinners should be given to Irvin Cobb, and I should be glad
to attend every one of them.

                                                   --_James S. Metcalfe_

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: ME UND COBB


       *       *       *       *       *

I. S. C.

  I hate like the devil to drop into verse
  Because hardly a chap can do it much worse:
  Still prose sounds so dull when your mind lights on Cobb
  And the writer of verse has some chance with the job;
  For if ever a chap breathed forth sunlight and wit
  And could write and then talk as if they were nit
  And wooed you, and held you and made you first gulp
  And tighten the throat and made you like pulp
  Just to turn you to laughter until your sides ache,--
  It’s Cobb: bless his heart and his wit: and I ask him to take
  This rotten attempt to bid him God-speed
  In taking the world and his wife in those paths
  Where laughter and smiles still hang on the trees
  And fun goes with sunshine, like the heart of a child!

         *       *       *       *       *

  Who wrote this? Oh, Lord: here’s the key to the lock,
  Just read Cobb’s name backward, and you can’t miss the dock.[A]

  [A] Edward Bok

       *       *       *       *       *

Cobb’s ability as a football player should entitle him to speak at
every Gridiron dinner. Cobb may require a sofa to sit down on, but, as
an all-around star he stands alone.

                                                     --_Walter Trumbull_

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: BY JOHN T. McCUTCHEON]

       *       *       *       *       *

To-night, as I look at Mr. Cobb, aglow with all that tailor, laundry,
barber and friendship can do for man, I find it hard to realize that
this is the same Mr. Cobb I saw one day last August in Belgium.

Time had not dealt gently with him that day. The sun of his smile had
set early in the forenoon. His beard was several days gone. His raiment
was an affront to at least three of the five senses and all that was
left of his spirit was the droop.

He had eaten nothing for a long time, his feet were sore, and he was so
chafed that he emanated sparks at every step.

Even in a land as rich in ruins as Belgium, he stood out a conspicuous
masterpiece of wreckage.

The homeless Belgians pitied him!

Late in the evening, after several hours of brooding silence, he gave
utterance to the following statement:

“I wish I was back in New York, just sitting down to a good square meal
with some friends.”

And so to-night it is pleasant to realize that virtue is at least
triumphant and that his wish has come true.

                                                  --_John T. McCutcheon_

       *       *       *       *       *

My admiration for him and what he has done is really beyond words.

                                                      --_J. A. Mitchell_

       *       *       *       *       *




       *       *       *       *       *


Monumental on a boot cleaning stand, he is equally interested in cigars
and in assassinations, and he likes to wear his thinnest clothes in
winter. His stories are always reliable, even when they deal with the
British War Office. After annexing Broadway he took Belgium and his
book thereon is history. He sees straight and writes straight, and I am
his friend and his fan.

                                                      --_Arnold Bennett_

       *       *       *       *       *

Cobb’s “Paths of Glory” is acclaimed throughout Britain to be the most
vivid, most moving, most convincing of all books on the Great War;
which means the British public recognizes in the printed page the
compelling personality of its author. I am proud to be his publisher.

                                               --_J. E. Hodder Williams_

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

Irvin Cobb leads his league in everything but base running. He went to
the Belgian battle-fields equipped as a war correspondent with a facile
pen, a sense of humor, and a wonderful repertoire of darkey stories. He
came back with a neutral dialect, a reputation enhanced by the depth
and sincerity of his writing, and the mantles of Archibald Forbes and
Bennett Burleigh combining to cover--at least--portions of him.

                                                         --_Walter Hale_

       *       *       *       *       *

We have long appreciated the corn of the South whose bright kernels,
properly distilled, make brighter Colonels still. Yet when before
have we worshipped the Cobb of the South? Here, surely, is all the
brightness and all the stimulation--and all the nourishment which a fat
land can give to a lean and hungry world. More joy comes from one Cobb
than from 1,000,000,000 bushels of corn--and although he is rare, in
one sense, in another he may be ranked as the South’s largest output.

                                                       --_Wallace Irwin_

       *       *       *       *       *

I see no reason why I should not say that I like Irvin Cobb--because
I do, very much. He does not irritate the throat; and, if you are a
magazine editor, his is the stuff you will eventually buy.

                                                            --_F. P. A._

       *       *       *       *       *





       *       *       *       *       *

The surest and simplest way to appreciate Irvin Cobb is to start in to
read him when you are too busy or too tired to read anything at all.

                                              --_George Barr McCutcheon_

       *       *       *       *       *

Irvin Cobb! Gentle, keen, loyal and truth-telling--the best ever.

                                                  --_Wm. Travers Jerome_

       *       *       *       *       *

Certainly I appreciate Cobb! I appreciated him long before the mob
got on to him. But the thing that galls me is--why the wrist watch?
He came among us out west here, wearing a 27-jewelled, steam-heated,
forty-dollar wrist watch and I assure you it is not being done here at
all--at least not in our set. Shall we blame the Germans for this, or
is Old Irv slipping? From my heart, I ask you to reason with him.

                                                      --_C. E. Van Loan_

       *       *       *       *       *

This is the first time in five years I’ve regretted not being in New

                                                   --_Harry Leon Wilson_

  Monterey, California,
  April First, Nineteen-fifteen.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

Irvin is a true humorist in that he knows when not to be funny.
In addition to numberless works of irresistible joviality, he has
contributed to American literature some of its most serious notes,
including stories of pathos and also of gruesome power, almost
unrivalled. He has written important essays on food, too, one on
Southern cooking, in particular, that is as savory as Charles Lamb’s
“Dissertation on Roast Pig.” We are safe in hailing Cobb as already a

Everybody reads and rejoices in Cobb’s printed self. Those who know the
man love him and rejoice in his society. “Cobb’s Anatomy” is for the
general public. His heart is the biggest part of him, and if that were
not true, this unusual dinner would not be given. It takes more than a
great writer to earn great affection.

                                                       --_Rupert Hughes_

       *       *       *       *       *

A big brain needs a big belly to balance it.

Irvin Cobb has a well-balanced brain.

He’s never top-heavy and never will be.

In all the years he wrote for the _Sunday World_ he never was late
turning in his copy, reaching the pay-window, going to luncheon, buying
a drink, laughing at his own jokes or demanding a raise in salary.

In his New York career he has made only three mistakes in judgment:
his house in Park Hill, the play he wrote, and leaving the _World_.
The first he _may_ sell, the second he can live down, but the third is
irreparable,--if not to him, assuredly to us.

                                                    --_William Johnston_

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: BY ALFRED FRUEH]

       *       *       *       *       *


Damn the speeches, go ahead and eat.

                                                    --_Admiral Farragut_

       *       *       *       *       *

                                              From somewhere in England,
                                                        April something,

In my opinion Irvin Cobb is one of the ---- ---- that ever lived!

                                                            --_K. of K._

       *       *       *       *       *

“Cobb’s Anatomy” to me is bigger, is funnier, than “John Brown’s Body.”

                                                          --_An Admirer_

       *       *       *       *       *


Always leave the table a little bit sober.


                                                    --_Ralph W. Emerson_

       *       *       *       *       *


Appetite and capacity, now and forever, one and inseparable.

                                                          --_D. Webster_

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: IRVIN COBB

His Book]


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Emboldened text is surrounded by equals signs: =bold=.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Irvin Cobb, His Book: - Friendly Tributes upon the Occasion of a Dinner Tendered - to Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New - York April Twenty-Fifth, MCMXV" ***

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