The Little Review
Vol. I JUNE, 1914 No. 4
Copyright, 1914, by Margaret C. Anderson.
“Incense and Splendor”
Margaret C. Anderson
Ayoung American novelist stated the other day that the American woman is oversexed; that present-day modes of dress are all designed to emphasize sex; and that it is high time for a reaction against sex discussions, sex stories, and sex plays.
But I think she’s entirely mistaken. The American woman, speaking broadly, is pathetically undersexed, just as she is undersensitive and underintelligent. The last adjective will be disputed or resented; but it’s interesting once in a while to hear the thoughtful foreigner’s opinion of our intelligence. Tagore, for instance, said that he was agreeably surprised in regard to the American man and astonished at the stupidity of the American woman. As for our fiction and drama—we’ve had much about sex in the last few years, some of it intensely valuable, much of it intensely foolish; but it’s quite too early to predict the reaction. The really constructive work on the subject is yet to be done.
And the pity of the whole thing is that the critics who keep lecturing us on our oversexedness don’t realize that what they’re really trying to get at is our poverty of spirit, our emotional incapacities, our vanities, our pettinesses—any number of qualities which spring from anything but too much sex. Nothing is safer than to say that the man or woman of strong sex equipment is rarely vain or petty or mean or unintelligent. But as a result of all this vague bickering, “sex” continues to shoulder the blame for all kinds of shortcomings, and the real root of the trouble goes untreated—even undiagnosed. One thing is certain: until we become conscious that there’s something very wrong with our attitude toward sex, we’ll never get rid of the hard, tight, anæmic, metallic woman who flourishes in America as nowhere else in the world.
This doesn’t mean the old Puritan type, to whom sex was a rotten, unmentionable thing; nor does it mean the Victorian, who recognizes the sex impulse only as a means to an end. They belong to the past too definitely to be harmful. It means two newer types than these: the woman who looks upon sex as something to be endured and forgiven, and the woman who doesn’t feel at all.
The first type has a great (and by no means a secret) pride in her spiritual superiority to the coarse creature she married, and a never-dying hope that she can lead him up to her level. She talks a lot about spirituality; she has her standards, and she knows how to classify what she calls “sensuality”; she’s convinced that she has married the best man in the world, but—well, all men have this failing in common, and the only thing one can do is to rise above it magnificently, with that air of spiritual isolation which is her most effective weapon. Shaw has hit her off on occasion, but he ought to devote a whole three acts to her undoing; or perhaps an Ibsen would do it better, because tragedy follows her path like some sinister shadow, as inevitably as those other “ghosts” of his. The second type has no more capacity for love or sex than she has for music or poetry—which is none at all. Like a polished glass vase, empty and beautiful, she lures the man who loves her to a kind of supreme nothingness. She will always tell you that marriage is “wonderful”; and she urges all her friends to marry as quickly as possible, for that’s the only way to be perfectly happy. Marriage is “wonderful” to her just as birth is “wonderful” in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s satire:
Birth comes. Birth—
The breathing re-creation of the earth!
All earth, all sky, all God, life’s sweet deep whole,
Newborn again to each new soul!
“Oh, are you? What a shame! Too bad, my dear!
How will you stand it, too. It’s very queer
The dreadful trials women have to carry;
But you can’t always help it when you marry.
Oh, what a sweet layette! What lovely socks!
What an exquisite puff and powder box!
Who is your doctor? Yes, his skill’s immense—
But it’s a dreadful danger and expense!”
It’s all a powder-puff matter: marriage means new clothes, gifts, and a house to play with. It gives her another chance to get something for nothing—which is immoral. But the beauty of the situation is that the immorality (thanks to our habits of not thinking straight) is so perfectly concealed: it even appears that she is the one who does the giving. As for any bother about sex, she’ll soon put an end to that. And so she goes on her pirate ways, luring for the sake of the lure, adding her voice to the already swelled chorus which proclaims that truth and beauty lodge in things as they are, not in things as they might or should be.
But, to return to the novelist’s argument about clothes, the present fashion for low necks and slit skirts has nothing to do with sex necessarily. Its origin is in vanity—which may or may not have a bearing upon sex. And of course it usually hasn’t; for vanity is an attribute of small natures, and sex is an attribute of great ones.
There has never been a time when women had such an opportunity to be beautiful physically. And they are taking advantage of it. Watch any modern matinée or concert or shopping crowd carefully. There’s something about the new style that points to a finer naturalness, just as it is more natural for men to wear clothes that follow the lines of their bodies than to pad their shoulders and use twice too much cloth in their trouser legs. The move of muscles through a close-fitting suit gives an effect of strength and efficiency and animal grace that is superbly healthy. And it is so with women, too. With the exception of the foolish and unnecessary restrictions in walking women have such a splendid chance to look straight, unhampered, direct, lithe. I don’t know just why, but I want to use the word “true” about the new clothes. They’re so much less dishonest than the old padded ways—the strange, perverted, muffled methods. The old plan was built on the theory that the suppression of nature is civilization; the new plan seems to be that a recognition of nature is common sense. We may become Greek yet. By all of which I’ll probably be credited with supporting the silly indecencies we see every day on the street—ridiculous, unintelligent manifestations of the new freedom—instead of merely seeing in its wise expression a bigger hope of truth. I think the preachers who are filling the newspapers with hysterical protests about women’s dress had better look a little more closely at the real issue and stop confusing a fine impulse with its inevitable abuses.
But after all there’s only one important thing to be said about sex in its relation to a full life. Some day we’re going to have a tremendous revaluation of the thing known as feeling. We’re going to realize that the only person who doesn’t err in relation to values is the artist; and since the bigger part of the artist’s equipment is simply the capacity to feel, we’re going to begin training a race of men toward a new ideal. It shall be this: that nothing shall qualify as fundamentally “immoral” except denial—the failure of imagination, of understanding, of appreciation, of quickening to beauty in every form, of perceiving beauty where custom or convention has dwarfed its original stature; the failure to put one’s self in the other person’s place; the great, ghastly failure of life which allows one to look but not to see, to listen but not to hear—to touch but not to feel.
The other night I heard Schumann’s Des Abends—that summer-night elegy of a thousand, thousand cadences—played near a place where trees were stirring softly and grass smelling warm and cool; some one said afterward that it was pretty…. The other day I heard a violin played so throbbingly that it was like “what the sea has striven to say”; and through it all a group of people talked, as though no miracle were happening. Not very long after these two —— (I can’t find a noun), I talked with some one who tried to convince me that the biggest and most valiant person I know was—“well, not the sort one can afford to be friends with.” Somehow all three episodes immediately linked themselves together in my mind. Each was a failure of the same type—a failure of imagination, of feeling; the last one, at least, was tragedy; and it will become impossible for people to fail that way only when they stop failing in the first two ways.
Not long ago I went into a music store and bought Tschaikowsky’s Les Larmes. It cost twenty-eight cents. I walked out so under the spell of the immense adventure of living that I realized later how imbecile I must have looked and why the clerk gazed at me so suspiciously. But I had a song which had cost a man who knows what sorrow to write—a thing of such richness that it meant experience to any one who could own it. One of the world’s big things for twenty-eight cents! And such things happen every day!
Sex is simply the quintessence of this type of feeling, plus a deeper thing for which no words have been made. But we reach the wonder of the utmost realization in just one way: by having felt greatly at every step.
“American artists know everything,” said a young foreign sculptor lately; “they know that much” (throwing out his arms wide), “but they only feel that much!” (measuring an inch with his fingers). How can we produce the great audiences that Whitman knew we needed in order to have great poets, if we don’t train the new generations to feel? How can we prevent these crimes against love and sex—how put a stop to human waste in all its hideous forms—if we don’t recognize the new idealism which means not to deny?
Nicholas Vachel Lindsay
Blanche Sweet—Moving-Picture Actress
[After seeing the reel called Oil and Water.]
Beauty has a throne-room
In our humorous town,
Spoiling its hobgoblins,
Laughing shadows down.
Dour musicians torture
Rag-time ballads vile,
But we walk serenely
Down the odorous aisle.
We forgive the squalor,
And the boom and squeal,
For the Great Queen flashes
From the moving reel.
Just a prim blonde stranger
In her early day,
Hiding brilliant weapons,
Too averse to play;
Then she burst upon us
Dancing through the night,
Oh, her maiden radiance,
Veils and roses white!
With new powers, yet cautious,
Not too smart or skilled,
That first flash of dancing
Wrought the thing she willed:—
Mobs of us made noble
By her strong desire,
By her white, uplifting
Though the tin piano
Snarls its tango rude,
Though the chairs are shaky
And the drama’s crude,
Solemn are her motions,
Stately are her wiles,
Filling oafs with wisdom,
Saving souls with smiles;
Mid the restless actors
She is rich and slow,
She will stand like marble,
She will pause and glow,
Though the film is twitching
Keep a peaceful reign,
Ruler of her passion,
Ruler of our pain!
Girl, You Shall Mock No Longer
You shall not hide forever,
I shall your path discern;
I have the key to Heaven,
Key to the pits that burn.
Saved ones will help me, lost ones
Spy on your secret way—
Show me your flying footprints
On past your death-bed day.
If by your pride you stumble
Down to the demon-land,
I shall be there beside you,
Chained to your burning hand.
If, by your choice and pleasure,
You shall ascend the sky,
I, too, will mount that stairway,
You shall not put me by.
There, ’mid the holy people,
Healed of your blasting scorn,
Clasped in these arms that hunger,
Splendid with dreams reborn,
You shall be mastered, lady,
Knowing, at last, Desire—
Lifting your face for kisses—
Kisses of bitter fire.
Ah, in the night, all music haunts me here …
Is it for naught high Heaven cracks and yawns
And the tremendous amaranth descends
Sweet with glory of ten thousand dawns?
Does it not mean my God would have me say:—
“Whether you will or no, oh city young
Heaven will bloom like one great flower for you,
Flash and loom greatly, all your marts among?”
Friends I will not cease hoping, though you weep.
Such things I see, and some of them shall come
Though now our streets are harsh and ashen-grey,
Though now our youths are strident, or are dumb.
Friends, that sweet town, that wonder-town shall rise.
Naught can delay it. Though it may not be
Just as I dream, it comes at last, I know
With streets like channels of an incense-sea!
I. The voice of the man who is impatient with visions and Utopias.
We find your soft Utopias as white
As new-cut bread, as dull as life in cells,
Oh scribes that dare forget how wild we are,
How human breasts adore alarum bells.
You house us in a hive of prigs and saints
Communal, frugal, clean, and chaste by law.
I’d rather brood in bloody Elsinore
Or be Lear’s fool, straw-crowned amid the straw.
Promise us all our share in Agincourt.
Say that our clerks shall venture scorns and death.
That future ant-hills will not be too good
For Henry Fifth, or Hotspur, or Macbeth.
Promise that through tomorrow’s spirit-war
Man’s deathless soul will hack and hew its way,
Each flaunting Cæsar climbing to his fate
Scorning the utmost steps of yesterday.
And never a shallow jester any more.
Let not Jack Falstaff spill the ale in vain.
Let Touchstone set the fashions for the wise,
And Ariel wreak his fancies through the rain!
II. The Rhymer’s reply. Incense and Splendor.
Incense and splendor haunt me as I go.
Though my good works have been, alas, too few,
Though I do naught, High Heaven comes down to me
And future ages pass in tall review.
I see the years to come as armies vast,
Stalking tremendous through the fields of time.
Man is unborn. Tomorrow he is born
Flamelike to hover o’er the moil and grime;
Striving, aspiring till the shame is gone,
Sowing a million flowers where now we mourn—
Laying new precious pavements with a song,
Founding new shrines, the good streets to adorn.
I have seen lovers by those new-built walls
Clothed like the dawn, in orange, gold, and red;
Eyes flashing forth the glory-light of love
Under the wreaths that crowned each royal head.
Life was made greater by their sweetheart prayers;
Passion was turned to civic strength that day—
Piling the marbles, making fairer domes
With zeal that else had burned bright youth away.
I have seen priestesses of life go by
Gliding in Samite through the incense-sea:—
Innocent children marching with them there,
Singing in flowered robes—“the Earth is free!”
While on the fair deep-carved, unfinished towers
Sentinels watched in armor night and day—
Guarding the brazier-fires of hope and dream—
Wild was their peace, and dawn-bright their array!
Darling Daughter of Babylon
Too soon you wearied of our tears.
And then you danced with spangled feet,
Leading Belshazzar’s chattering court
A-tinkling through the shadowy street.
With mead they came, with chants of shame,
Desire’s red flag before them flew.
And Istar’s music moved your mouth
And Baal’s deep shames rewoke in you.
Now you could drive the royal car:
Forget our Nation’s breaking load:—
Now you could sleep on silver beds—
(Bitter and dark was our abode).
And so for many a night you laughed
And knew not of my hopeless prayer,
Till God’s own spirit whipped you forth
From Istar’s shrine, from Istar’s stair.
Darling daughter of Babylon—
Rose by the black Euphrates flood—
Again your beauty grew more dear
Than my slave’s bread, than my heart’s blood.
We sang of Zion, good to know,
Where righteousness and peace abide …
What of your second sacrilege
Carousing at Belshazzar’s side?
Once, by a stream, we clasped tired hands—
Your paint and henna washed away.
Your place (you said) was with the slaves
Who sewed the thick cloth, night and day.
You were a pale and holy maid
Toil-bound with us. One night you said:—
“Your God shall be my God until
I slumber with the patriarch dead.”
Pardon, daughter of Babylon,
If, on this night remembering
Our lover walks under the walls
Of hanging gardens in the spring—
A venom comes, from broken hope—
From memories of your comrade-song,
Until I curse your painted eyes
And do your flower-mouth too much wrong.
I Went Down Into the Desert
I went down into the desert
To meet Elijah—
Or some one like, arisen from the dead.
I thought to find him in an echoing cave,
For so my dream had said.
I went down into the desert
To meet John the Baptist.
I walked with feet that bled,
Seeking that prophet, lean and brown and bold.
I spied foul fiends instead.
I went down into the desert
To meet my God,
By Him be comforted.
I went down into the desert
To meet my God
And I met the Devil in Red.
I went down into the desert
To meet my God.
Oh Lord, my God, awaken from the dead!
I see you there, your thorn-crown on the ground—
I see you there, half-buried in the sand—
I see you there, your white bones glistening, bare,
The carrion birds a-wheeling round your head!
Encountered on the Streets of the City
The Church of Vision and Dream
Is it for naught that where the tired crowds see
Only a place for trade, a teeming square,
Doors of high portent open unto me
Carved with great eagles, and with Hawthorns rare?
Doors I proclaim, for there are rooms forgot
Ripened through æons by the good and wise:
Walls set with Art’s own pearl and amethyst
Angel-wrought hangings there, and heaven-hued dyes:—
Dazzling the eye of faith, the hope-filled heart:—
Rooms rich in records of old deeds sublime:
Books that hold garnered harvests of far lands
Pictures that tableau Man’s triumphant climb:
Statues so white, so counterfeiting life,
Bronze so ennobled, so with glory fraught
That the tired eyes must weep with joy to see,
And the tired mind in Beauty’s net be caught.
Come, enter there, and meet Tomorrow’s Man,
Communing with him softly, day by day.
Ah, the deep vistas he reveals, the dream
Of Angel-bands in infinite array—
Bright angel-bands that dance in paths of earth
When our despairs are gone, long overpast—
When men and maidens give fair hearts to Christ
And white streets flame in righteous peace at last!
The Stubborn Mouse
The mouse that gnawed the oak-tree down
Began his task in early life,
He kept so busy with his teeth
He had no time to take a wife.
He gnawed and gnawed through sun and rain,
When the ambitious fit was on,
Then rested in the sawdust till
A month in idleness had gone.
He did not move about to hunt
The coteries of mousie-men;
He was a snail-paced stupid thing
Until he cared to gnaw again.
The mouse that gnawed the oak-tree down
When that tough foe was at his feet—
Found in the stump no angel-cake
Nor buttered bread, no cheese, nor meat—
The forest-roof let in the sky.
“This light is worth the work,” said he.
“I’ll make this ancient swamp more light”—
And started on another tree!
The Sword-Pen of the Rhymer
I’ll haunt this town, though gone the maids and men
The darling few, my friends and loves today.
My ghost returns, bearing a great sword-pen
When far off children of their children play.
That pen will drip with moonlight and with fire;
I’ll write upon the church-doors and the walls;
And reading there, young hearts shall leap the higher
Though drunk already with their own love-calls.
Still led of love, and arm in arm, strange gold
Shall find in tracing the far-speeding track
The dauntless war-cries that my sword-pen bold
Shall carve on terraces and tree-trunks black—
On tree-trunks black, ’mid orchard-blossoms white—
Just as the phospherent merman, struggling home,
Jewels his fire-paths in the tides at night
While hurrying sea-babes follow through the foam.
And, in the winter, when the leaves are dead
And the first snow has carpeted the street,
While young cheeks flush a healthful Christmas red,
And young eyes glisten with youth’s fervor sweet—
My pen will cut in snow my hopes of yore,
Cries that in channelled glory leap and shine—
My village gospel—living evermore
’Mid those rejoicing loyal friends of mine.
Futurism and Pseudo-Futurism
Alexander S. Kaun
That Futurism is not a mere fad, a capricious bubble, is apparent from the fact that after five years of stormy existence the movement does not disappear or abate, but, on the contrary, continually gains soil and spreads deep and wide over all fields of European art. The critics of the new school no longer find it possible to dismiss it with a contemptuous smile as a silly joke of over-satiated modernists, but they either attack the Futurists with the vehemence and fury of a losing combatant, or they discuss the doctrine earnestly and apprehensively.
To set art free of the atavistic fetters of the old culture and civilization, to imbue it with the nervous sensitiveness of our age, have been the negative and positive aims of Futurism. It is absurd to abide by the forms of Phydias and Æschylus in the days of radium and aeroplanes. The influence of the old masterpieces is accountable for the fact that of late humanity ceased to produce great works of art. It is quite natural that the protest against the “historical burden” should have originated in Italy, a country which, after having served for centuries as a pillar of light, has so degenerated that in our times it can boast only of such names as the saccharine Verdi and the pretentious D’Annunzio. It is natural, I should like to add, that in this country Futurism is still a foreign plant; for, fortunately or unfortunately, we have been free of a burdensome heritage, and an iconoclastic movement would appear quixotic.
Started in Milan in the end of the year 1909, the movement has swept the continent and has revolutionized art. Even conservative England feebly echoes the battle-cry in the attempts of the Imagists. I do not intend to prognosticate the future of Futurism; it is still in its infantile stage, growing and developing with surprising leaps, continually taking on new forms; but the present-day Futurism is abundant with quaint, grotesque features approaching caricature; and some of them merit a few words.
The “parent” of Futurism and the present leader of Futurist poets, Marinetti, is, to say the least, an unusual personality. His Boswell, Tullia Pantea, describes his master’s life in its minutest nuances and chants dithyrambs to his wonderful achievements. We learn that Marinetti was born in Egypt in voluptuous surroundings, his father being a millionaire. From his childhood on he disposed of unlimited sums of money. “At the age of eleven he knew a woman; at fifteen he edited a literary magazine, Papyrus, printed on vellum paper; at seventeen he fought a duel.” We follow this enfant terrible to Paris where he lavishly squanders his millions, fights duels, and faces the court for his pornographic poems. He is sentenced to an eight weeks’ imprisonment for an exotic work which I shall not venture to quote, as it is too repulsive to the English reader. Pantea further describes his master’s kingly palazzo in Milan, where “… at night in the bed-chamber decorated with astonishing elegance and with mad extravagance meet the most beautiful women of Italy and Europe.”
I quote these nauseatic details, for they help to explain the erotic aroma of Marinetti’s poems. Their erotism is morbid, aroused by artificial “convulsions of sensuality,” “imitation of madness,” “a cancan of dancing Death.” Yet we cannot overlook the beauty of the verses, their devilish rhythm, and enchanting mysticism. Some of his early poems, more natural than his latest Words at Liberty, are intoxicating with their mad exoticism.
The following is one of his best-known poems, The Banjos of Despair:
Elles chantent, les benjohs hystériques et sauvages,
comme des chattes énervées par l’odeur de l’orage.
Ce sont des nègres qui les tiennent
empoignées violemment, comme on tient
une amarre que secoue la bourrasque.
Elles miaulent, les benjohs, sous leurs doigts frénétiques,
et la mer, en bombant son dos d’hippopotame,
acclame leurs chansons par des flic-flacs sonores
et des renâclements.
The hysteric and savage banjos that meow like cats maddened by the odor of the storm; the sea which, swelling its back of a hippopotamus, applauds their songs with its sonorous twick-twacks and snorts—I understand the poet, I believe him. But, as I said, this is Marinetti’s early poetry. How far he has “progressed” you may judge from the following quotation from his latest Words at Liberty, as it appears in The London Times:
DI 2 ROTONDITA SOSPESE
SOLE + PALLONE
colonne di fumo
spirali di scintille
villaggi turchi incendiati
rrrrrzzzonzzzzzzante d’ue monoplano bulgaro
+ neve di manifesti.
This “poem” is a description of a battle during the Turco-Bulgarian war; the style is supposed to be “polychromatic, polymorphous, and polyphonic, that may not only animalize, vegetalize, electrify, and liquefy itself, but penetrate and express the essence and the atomic life of matter.” This is the dernier cri of Italian Futurism which originated in a—draff-ditch. Here is Marinetti’s own “electrified” description of that memorable event:
As usual we spent the night in our favorite café, which is attended by the most elegant women. Some one suggested that we take an automobile ride in the suburbs. We whirled over the sleepy streets. Out of town. Deep darkness…. Moment of falling. We are hurled into an abyss. Ecstasy….
Then—we are on the bottom of a ditch filled with malodorous dregs. We drown in the mud. Mud covers the face, the body, mud blinds the eyes, fills the mouth.
Finally we succeed in getting out of the filthy ditch and we go back to the city. But….
For a certain time there remained with us the taste of rottenness; we could not get rid of the rotten odor that permeated all pores of our bodies. In the moment of falling into that ditch the idea of Futurism came into my head. On the same night before dawn we wrote the entire first manifesto on Futurism.
Thus the new art was born under peculiar circumstances—“under the sign of scandal”—and scandal became the tactics of Italian Futurists who have professed their “delight in being hissed” and their contempt for applause.
A few points of that manifesto:
We shall sing of the love of danger, the habit of energy and boldness. Literature has hitherto glorified thoughtful immobility, ecstasy of sleep; we shall extol aggressive movement, feverish insomnia, the double quick step, the somersault, the box on the ear, the fisticuff.
There is no more beauty except in strife. We wish to glorify war—the only purifier of the world—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchist, the beauty of Ideas that kill, the contempt for women.
We wish to destroy the museums, the libraries, to fight against moralism and feminism, and all opportunistic and utilitarian meannesses.
This bombastic program has been heralded by the Italian Futurists ever since 1909. Fortunately they went no further than threats, but they strove to attract attention and in this they gloriously succeeded.
Their attitude toward women was expressed in the motto: “Méprisez la femme.” Love for woman is an atavism and should be discarded into archives.
We chant hymns to the new beauty that has come into the world in our days, a hymn to swiftness, a doxology to motion.
Woman is justified in her existence inasmuch as she is a prostitute. Sensuality for the sake of sensuality is extolled as the only stimulus in human life,—its only aim. Otherwise human beings are of no importance, at best as important as inanimate objects.
The suffering of a man is of the same interest to us as the suffering of an electric lamp, which, with spasmodic starts, shrieks out the most heart-rending expressions of color.
These aphorisms belong to the pen of Marinetti or to those of his disciples, who are but pigmies in comparison with their leader. They greeted the war with Turkey in Tripolitania enthusiastically, and Marinetti joyously witnessed the splendor of “bayonets piercing human bodies” and similar features of the great “health-giver”—war. At that time he began the cycle of his pictorial poems recently published in the Words at Liberty. Here is one of his early descriptions:
A stream. A bridge. Plus artillery. Plus infantry. Plus trenches. Plus cadavers. Dzang-bah-bakh. Cannon. Kha-kh-kha. Mitrailleuse. Tr-r-r. Sh-sh-sh-sh. S-s-s-s-s-s. Bullets. Chill. Blood. Smoke.
To complete the character of Marinetti I shall quote his article in The London Daily Mail in which he states his “profound disgust for the contemporary stage because it stupidly fluctuates between historic reconstruction (pasticcio or plagiarism) and a minute, wearying, photographic reproduction of actuality.”
His ideal is the smoking concert, circus, cabaret, and night-club as “the only theatrical entertainment worthy of the true Futurist spirit.” “The variety theater is the only kind of theater where the public does not remain static and stupidly passive, but participates noisily in action.” The variety show “brutally strips woman of all her veils, of the romantic phrases, sighs, and sobs which mark and deform her. On the other hand, it shows up all the most admirable animal qualities of woman, her powers of attack and of seduction, of treachery, and of resistance.”
The variety theater is, of course, antiacademical, primitive, and ingenuous, and therefore all the more significant by reason of the unforeseen nature of all its fumbling efforts…. The variety theater destroys all that is solemn, sacred, earnest, and pure in Art—with a big A. It collaborates with Futurism in the destruction of the immortal masterpieces by plagiarizing them, parodying them, and by retailing them without style, apparatus, or pity.
At this point I am ready to agree with the Russian critic, A. Lunacharsky, who thus defines Marinetti:
He combines in his personality the exoticism of an East-African with the cynical blaguerie of a Parisian and the clownishness of a Neapolitan.
In connection with the foregoing it is curious to observe the pranks of Marinetti’s colleagues in the land of eternal contradictions—Russia. The Russian Futurists, Ego-futurists, and Acmeists, vie with the Italians in noisiness and eccentricity, and they have aroused an extensive pro and con polemic. In the last issue of Russkaja Mysl there is an interesting criticism of the Futurist poetry written by Valery Brusov. This foremost poet, known on the continent as the Russian Verhaeren, began his literary career some fifteen years ago with the one-line “poem”: “Oh, conceal thy pallid legs.” This extremist is now ranked by the Futurists among the reactionaries. Brusov is not hostile to Futurism, although he opposes the contemporary bearers of its banner. In a dialogue supposedly carried on between a Symbolist and a Futurist Brusov makes the latter say:
Tell me, what is poetry? The art of words, is it not? In what else does it differ from music, from painting? The poet is the artist of words: they are for him what colors are for the painter or marble for your sculptors. We have determined to be artists of words, and only of words, which means to fulfill the true vocation of the poet. You, what have you done with the word? You have transformed it into a slave, into a hireling, to serve your so-called ideas! You have debased the word to a subservient rôle. All of you, the realists as well as the symbolists, have used words just as the “Academicians” have used colors. Those understood not that the essence of painting is in the combination of colors and lines, and they have strived to express through colors and lines some meager ideas absolutely useless for commonly known. You likewise have not understood that the essence of poetry lies in the combination of words, and you have mutilated them by forcing them to express your thoughts borrowed from the philosophers. The futurists are the first to proclaim the true poetry, the free, the real freedom of words.
And so, since words have become enslaved and carry, unfortunately, within them the ballast of established notions and conceptions, the Futurists experiment in liberating the words of their accepted meanings by creating new words, weird combinations of syllables, skilful arrangements of sounds which defy translation. For the benefit of that part of mankind which does not understand Russian the Futurists invented a “universal tongue” which consists exclusively of single vowels. Here is a specimen under the title Heights. I give the original letters and their English transliteration.
е у ю — yeh oo you
и а о — ee ah oh
о а — oh ah
о а е е и е я — oh ah yeh yeh ee yeh yah
о а — oh ah
е у и е у — yeh oo ee yeh oo
и е е — ee yeh yeh
и и ы и е и и ы — ee ee ēh ee yeh ee ee ēh
Do you feel the heights? The poet does, however, and he proclaims in his defense: “The more subjective is truth, the more objective is the subjective objectivity.”
Brusov’s point of view is expressed in the impassioned words of the historian of literature who appears at the end of the above-mentioned dialogue:
In the new poetry, that is, in the poetry of the last centuries, one observes a definite shifting of two currents. One school puts forward the primary importance of the content, the other—that of form; later the same tendencies are repeated in the two successive schools. Pseudo-Classicism, as a school, placed above all form not the “what” but the “how.” The content they borrowed from the ancients and then performed the task most important in their eyes—the elaboration of that material. The Romanticists, in contra-distinction to the Pseudo-Classicists, insisted first of all on the content. They admired the middle ages, their yearning for an ideal, their religious aspirations. Of course, the Romanticists contributed their did this, so to speak, casually, while actually they neglected the form of their verses; recall, if you will, the frolics of Musset or the carelessness of the poems of Novalis. The Parnassians once more proclaimed the primariness of form. “Reproachless verse” became their motto. It was they who declared that in poetry not the “what” was important, but the “how,” and it was none other than Théophile Gautier who invented the formula “art for the sake of art.” The Symbolistic school again revived the content. All this was in reality not so simple, schematic, rectilineal, as I expressed it. To be sure, all true poets have endeavored to bring into harmony both content and form, but I have in view the prevailing tendency of the poetic school as a whole. If my point of view is correct, then it is natural to expect that there is to come a new school, replacing the Symbolists, which will once more consider form of primary importance. At the appearance of a new school the doctrine of the old corresponding school becomes more subtle, more poignant, more extreme. The Parnassians went further than their progenitors, the Pseudo-Classicists. It is natural then to foresee that the new coming school will in its cult of form go further than the Parnassians. As such a school, destined to take the place of Symbolism, I consider Futurism. Its historic rôle is to establish the absolute predominance of form in poetry, and to repudiate any content in it.
The weak point of Futurism appears to be, as is the case with every revolutionary movement, the fact that alongside with the true fighters for new horizons straggle parasitic marauders, that on the heels of the sincere searchers of artistic truth tread nonchalantly buffoons and charlatans. The number of the latter is so great that the true prophets drown in the vast slough, and the public sees but the caricature side of the movement. Take for instance, the Post-Impressionist and the Futurist painters. Any unbiased and open-minded observer will admit that many of them, like Odilon Redon, Duchamp, Picasso, Chabaud, even Matisse, have created works which, whether you like them or not, possess the sure criterion of art: they stir you, arouse your thoughts and emotions. Yet how easy it is to smuggle into their midst colossal nonsense and counterfeit can be judged from the following episode:
A group of young painters in Paris decided to arouse public opinion against the unrestricted accessibility of the Independent Salon by proving that among the exponents of the exhibition such an “independent” artist as a donkey could find a place. The editors of Fantasio undertook to assist them in carrying out their plan. A manifesto was issued of which I quote a few pearls:
To the public:
A manifesto of the school of the Excessivists. Hurrah! Brother-Excessivists, hurrah! Masters splendid and renascent, we are on the eve of various exhibitions of banal and stereotypical paintings. Let us smash, then, the palettes of our forefathers; let us set fire of Joy to the pseudo-masterpieces, and let us establish great canons destined to rule art henceforward.
The canon is contained in one word: L’excessivisme.
“Excess in everything is a defect,” once said a certain ass. We proclaim the reverse: excess at all times, in everything, is the absolute power. The sun can never be too ardent, the sky too blue, the sea-perspective too ruby, darkness too black, as there can never be heroes too valiant or flowers too fragrant.
Down with contours, down with half-tones, down with craft! Instead—dazzling and resplendent colors! And so on. Bombastic phrases borrowed from Marinetti and his colleagues. The manifesto is signed Joachim Raphael Boronali. Boronali is the anagram of Aliboron—the French word for donkey. The jesters later explained that they intended by the euphony of an Italian name “to arouse with more certainty the admiration of the crowd.”
The next step was to procure the services of Lolo, an old donkey well known to the artists on Montmartre, as its stable is at the cabaret Lapin Agile. The following procedure is immortalized in an official protocol, the most unique document in the annals of art:
Protocol (Procès-verbal de constat). On the 8th of March, before me, Paul Henri Brionne, magistrate of the civil court of Paris, in my office on rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 33, appeared M. ——, of the periodical Fantasio, whose residence is in Paris, boulevard Poissonière, 14, and declared:
“Every year there takes place an exhibition of various works of drawing, painting, and sculpture under the name of the Salon of the Independent Artists;
“This exhibition is open for all painters, and unfortunately, alongside with productions of high value there figure ridiculous works that have no signs of art;
“In order to show to what extent any work can be accepted in that exhibition, to the detriment of the meritorious productions, he intends to send there in the name of Fantasio, a picture the author of which would be a donkey. The picture will be entered in the catalogue under the title Et le soleil s’endormit sur l’Adriatique, and signed J. R. Boronali;
“For said reasons he asks me to be present at the painting of said picture in order to witness the process and draw an official report about it.”
Having consented to the request, I went in the company of Messrs. ——, the editors of Fantasio, to the cabaret du Lapin Agile, where in front of said establishment Messrs. —— set up a new canvas on a chair that took the place of an easel. In my presence they arranged paints—blue, green, yellow, and red; to the tail-extremity of the donkey, which belongs to the owner of the cabaret Lapin Agile, was tied a paint-brush.
Then the donkey was brought to the canvas, and M. —— upholding the brush and the tail of the beast allowed her to daub in all directions taking care only of changing the paints on the brush.
I assured myself that the picture presented various tones passing from blue into green and from yellow into red without constituting anything definite and resembling nothing.
When the work had been finished, in my presence the picture and author were photographed.
In testimony of the aforesaid I have written and issued this protocol for legal use.
 The names were not revealed.
From the photograph it may be seen that the donkey had been teased with some appetizing food held before his mouth, to which tantalization the so-called Boronali responded with the wags of his “tail-extremity,” according to the phraseology of the solemn document.
The picture then having been taken to the Salon, Monsieur Boronali was asked to pay his membership fee, and thenceforward his name figured among those of Matisse, Rousseau, Le Fauconnier, and other great. To the astonishment of the Fantasio group, their prank remained unnoticed for some time; the critics spoke of Boronali’s work along with the other pictures, and the manifesto of the Excessivists was but slightly commented upon. In a series of sensational articles and piquant stories The Fantasio finally succeeded in drawing general attention to their chef d’oeuvre. The Paris press, as well as the foreign, opened a hot discussion on the significance of Boronali’s work in a serious tone. Only the Kölnische Zeitung in a review of the manifesto and the picture carefully remarked, “If it is not a carnival joke”—referring to the manifesto but not doubting the authenticity of Boronali’s canvas. True, the title of the picture seemed mystifying: why The Sun Asleep over the Adriatic, when there were neither sun nor sea? The Gazette de France ridiculed the title. The New York Herald, endeavoring to justify the name of the picture, suggested that the sun was asleep beneath the Adriatic—an ingenious hypothesis. The Revue des Beaux-Arts gave a detailed and scholarly account of the picture, but found in it nothing extraordinary in comparison with the other Independents. The hardest blow to Boronali’s genius was dealt by De l’Art Ancien et Moderne, which accused him of being banal. “Among the cosmopolite crowd, along with Messrs. Ghéon, Klingsor, Jamet … struts the sheer banality of M. Boronali.”
The scandal that took place after the mystificators had revealed their trick is of secondary importance. What looms out of this incident is the dangerously vague line of demarcation between what is true art and what is mere daubery in Futurism.
The Gaulois summed up the affair in a few significant words:
The scholastics had maintained that “It is much easier for the ass to disprove than it is for the philosopher to assert.” But here came an ass and proved something in spite of all the philosophers of the world. He has proved—not a priori but a posteriori—that the most manifest daubery may pass as a picture in the eyes of those who accept the non-real, the improbable, and the absurd for new art.
Thought uttered becomes an untruth.—Thaddeus Tutchev.
A Wonder-Child Violinist
Margaret C. Anderson
The wonder-child is not so much a “wonder” in Europe as in this country. “At seven, yes—even up to eleven, perhaps,” a young German violinist who began to concertize at six once told me. “But after that—there are so many and they all play so beautiful! So it is more common there and people think not so much of it.” And she went on to tell me, with the most wistful seriousness, how at twelve she had felt suddenly so oppressed with age and weariness that for two years she had wanted not to play at all. She described it as a period when she wanted to “stop feeling and run in the country all day and be only with animals.”
But on the whole her theory seemed to be that it was the simplest thing in the world for a child to play well—better, in some ways, than he will ever play later on; and very likely it’s true. The newer psychologists have given us enough reason to think so.
It still comes with something of a shock to us here, however; and when we started for The Chicago Little Theatre one night two weeks ago to hear Master Ruby Davis, aged twelve, give a violin recital, it was with the most excited anticipations. I had never heard a child play the violin. Surely disappointment was inevitable….
A little boy walked quietly out on to the stage, smiling. (I heard afterward that some one had asked him if it didn’t frighten him to face all those people. “Oh, no,” he said, “I’m going to play my violin!”) He had on a little soft white shirt and knickerbockers. His hair was almost auburn and curled away from his forehead; his eyes were blue and his skin the softest white. His hands were the long, slender, “artistic” type rather than the blunt, heavy type which is quite as common among first-rate violinists. “Antoine”—that was all I could think.
And then he lifted his bow and swung into the Haendel Sonata in A with all the assurance of a master. It was only a matter of seconds until you knew that he could not disappoint—ever: he knew how to feel! A musician may commit all the crimes in the musical universe, or he may play so flawlessly that you marvel; but none of it matters particularly. A phrase will tell you whether he is an artist—the way the notes rise or fall or seem to be gathered up into that subtle thing which is the difference between efficient Playing and Music by the grace of God.
Ruby Davis makes Music. And how he loved doing it! He played a Canzonetta by Ambrosia, and the Jarnefelt Berceuse, and other difficult things like the Pugnani Praeludium, and that Motto Perpetuo of Ries, beside the regulation Cavatina and the Dvořák Humoresque—every one of them, in spite of small deficiencies that will be corrected, with a quality that is genius. As nearly as I can register it this is the picture of him I shall remember:
A little slender, eager, swaying body, and a great violin above which his face seemed worshipping. His eyes turned deep blue as flowers when he raised his head for some lovely soaring tone or dropped it on his instrument over some deep G string melody. His mouth was the saddest little mouth I’ve ever seen, and somehow you could watch the music coursing through his cheek bones. His right foot kept moving gently inside his shoe, always in perfect time.
The New Paganism
DeWitt C. Wing
One of the momentous achievements of applied science is the convincing demonstration that the earth is a living thing. It is as truly a live organism as any of the animals of which it is the mother. Life could not have been evolved by or from it if there had not been life in it. We do not require an inexplicable miracle to account for the evolution of man; we can trace his pedigree back to an ancestry with fins and gills, and of course it stretches far beyond that comparatively recent stage in his development. From the beginning of the world conditions have steadily grown more favorable to the habitation of the earth by the higher animals. Since man is a part of the earth, what he himself has done to bring about this auspicious change may be credited to the mind or life resident in the earth. Then there is essential goodness in the earth—which is not saying that there is no evil in it. The world is a better place for a man to live in now than it was when his ancestors occupied dismal caves. It is no illusion that, design or no design, the cosmic urge has been toward goodness, by which I mean an increasingly hospitable dwelling-place for men. There have been recessions, and there will be others, but, apart from faith and hope, established facts compel the man who understands them to declare his absolute and unalterable certainty that the inexorable law of life’s becoming greater than it is cannot be nullified. So that, regardless of all poverty and misery, of all that is unlovely, of all the blind and passionate class hatreds and sex quibbles, the man who really thinks must think hopefully. There is indeed the most ample justification of optimism.
The world is God, and the man who worships it the new pagan. He comes off the same stock as the old pagans, who were called heathens—because they were not Christians. They were, in fact, the classic earth-lovers, and, hence, more truly the sons of God than the crusaders who, directed by an anthropomorphic Deity, tortured and killed them. The new pagan, who not only feels, smells, hears, and sees the earth, but comprehends the established scientific facts about it, finds a keener and larger delight and satisfaction in it than his forefathers could experience. He loves it with his heart and his mind. Having this attitude toward it, he wishes to serve it, prompted by the same motive which actuates him when he serves his immediate father and mother.
Ruskin was sure that his beautiful England was desecrated when steel rails were laid across its green fields and factory smoke contaminated the golden air; he canonized the landscape, and when it changed, his heart ached. He was an artist, not a prophet. The industrialism that he hated disseminated his written appreciations of beauty. Machinery is the extension of man’s personality and power; the instrument with which he is realizing the bounties and the Fatherhood of God. At present it is too much an end in itself instead of a means toward nobler results, but tomorrow will see the needed adjustment. Wherefore the new pagan is not saddened but gladdened at the sight of factories and the development of commerce. The awful carnage which commercialism entails is the price which we have been fated to pay for experience. Through commerce we are paving the way for the action of the world-mind—the collective thought of men. Collective thinking precludes socialism as well as individualism, and brings in humanism. The increasing complexity of civilizations symbolizes the enlarged intricacy of human life. Experience and consciousness are expanded by the maze of external detail through which a child in a modern state passes to maturity. The extension of a more highly organized civilization into every habitable region of the earth, and commercial and intellectual communication among all nations, will synthesize the thought of the world. Toward this goal every vital movement is directed, whether consciously or unwittingly. The germ of life was the original leaven, and it will leaven the whole lump. That races and states should disappear does not matter; if human life as a whole were to vanish the birth-labor that the world has begun would be retarded but not abandoned. Man would return in a few billion years. If not, a higher animal would; man himself is on the long way to ever-new heights. He has climbed up out of the sea, and with the birth of reason in his brain he began to ascend into loftier realms. The power of reason is a late acquisition, but it has provided the wondrous banquet at which the modern pagan feasts. It has enabled him literally to soar and revel in high, thin air.
All the fine arts are subsidiary to and dependent upon material progress, and the primal source of well-being is the soil. Man is a land animal, and he must have access to the land with the same freedom that a babe enjoys at its mother’s breast; otherwise he will be stunted and dwarfed. The earth is the Old Mother, yielding an abundance of food for all her children. More reason and more consciousness on their part will induce them to share it with one another, not like unreasoning pigs but like reasoning men. The “new freedom” means eventually the accessibility of the earth to every man. In the meantime the biggest business at hand is to build soils as well as schools; to keep the land full of sap; to extend mechanism into the arts of agriculture; to unify the thought and purpose of city and country. All this will follow the world-mindedness that is being developed by industrialism and internationalism.
All constructive thought and action must deal not less with the city but more and more with the country—the land. Typical cities are sapping the wealth of life that grows up round them. The obsessed man in the market place needs the poise and power of the shepherd on the hill. The only true and durable magnificence of a state lies in the equitable use of its natural resources. No man who has thought profoundly wants to own land, but the majority of men do want to use it. That ought to be every man’s privilege, for every man is in some fashion a lover of the verdant earth. But even the millions of us who are landless, because a few men legally own the earth, have occasional esthetic accesses to it, and if we passionately loved its beauty we should hasten the day of its release by an uneconomic monopoly. An intelligent love of the earth as a living thing is at the bottom of the dynamic impulse of man to be forever becoming.
And as these lovely days of wanton greenness steal like fairies into the secret recesses of his child-heart, man has a sense of eternal kinship with
… that small untoward class which knows the divine call of the spirit through the brain, and the secret whisper of the soul in the heart, and for ever perceives the veils of mystery and the rainbows of hope upon our human horizons; which hears and sees, and yet turns wisely, meanwhile, to the life of the green earth, of which we are part, to the common kindred of living things, with which we are at one—is content, in a word, to live, because of the dream that makes living so mysteriously sweet and poignant; and to dream, because of the commanding immediacy of life.
In what dim, half imagined place
Does the Titanic lie to-day,
Too deep for tide, too deep for spray,
In night and saltiness and space?
Oh, quiet must the sea-floor be!
And very still must be the gloom
Where in each well-appointed room
The splendor rots unto the sea.
Through crannies in the shattered decks
The sea-weed thrusts pale finger-tips,
And in the bottom’s jagged rips
With ghostly hands it waves and becks.
The mirrors in the great saloons
Sleep darkly in their gilt and brass
Save when the silent fishes pass
With eyes like phosphorescent moons.
On painted walls are slimy things,
And strange sea creatures, lithe and cool,
Spawn in the marble swimming pool
And shall, a thousand springs.
For as it is, so it shall be,
Untouched of time till Doom appears,
Too deep for days, too deep for years
In the salt quiet of the sea.
The Will to Live
George Burman Foster
Like the sense for the true, the good, the holy, the esthetic sense is elementary. Man comes to himself as man in all alike. Without the effectuation of his peculiar artistic impulse, man, the born artist, could not find the real consecration and dignity of the human. Indeed, the worth of all human culture depends upon the sense for the beautiful. As religion is not restricted to some fragment of our experience but informs the whole, so culture requires that life shall be beautiful down to the commonplace and homely things of the daily round. The new program, to which this modern insight points, means a rebirth of our entire moral and social life.
Why is it, then, that those who vocationally and constantly worship in the sanctuary of art—the priests in this sanctuary—often so easily and singularly fail in the consecration which the worship of beauty is supposed to supply to the human personality? The lives of those whose calling it is to exhibit and exemplify the beautiful, why are they often so very ugly, so bereft of lovable emotions? The shortcomings of the artist, why do we count among these the pettiest and the basest known to man? To be specific, why do we speak almost proverbially of an artistic vanity, an artistic sensitiveness, an artistic envy or jealousy? If we answered, “Because the shadows of the ‘human all too human’ seem so dark in the golden light of the artistic calling,” that would be true, but it would not be the whole truth. Does not the professional occupation of oneself with art involve a danger to character? To live constantly in the world of the emotions, to fable and fantasy and dream, in all this there is so easily something weak, not to say “effeminate” and sickly, and hence enervating. Of great spirits this is true often enough—how much more of the lesser who sophistically find warrant in the weakness of the great for the greatness of their weakness! For instance, they have heard of “inspiration”—something not under the control of the artist, something that must “come upon him,” but only when the divine hour strikes, as it struck at the pentecostal “outpouring” of the “spirit” upon the early Christians. Hence no care for a thousand things—in both cases—for which other men must care! Hence a standard of life different from that by which other men live! To be outwardly different from others, to set oneself above others, that is to be artistic. Because some great artists are different from other people in moods and manners and morals, it is naïvely concluded that to emulate the latter is to be the former, and right merrily does the emulation go on. It must be a grief to a real artist, this culture of the eccentric head and the more eccentric heart. Therefore we need a man to free us from these eccentricities, a man to lift us above these caricatures because he has himself put them beneath his feet. This man is Friedrich Nietzsche.
The sickness and the soundness of life, both these were in Nietzsche. In his demand for an artistic culture he put his finger upon the wound of present humanity. This demand was accepted, the meaning of the demand was lost sight of. This was the fatality—as if Nietzsche required a new artistic culture only, and not at the same time a new life culture! Beauty the form of life indeed, but strength, will, deed, the content—that was the brave burden of the prophet’s message.
Nietzsche was born into a time that marked the climax of a more than millennial cultus of Death. The old songs of death as bridge of sunset into the eternal day of Bliss, songs of earthly lamentation and heavenly yearning and anticipation, these no longer came from the heart, to be sure; though still sung, the voices of “the faithful” grew ever thinner and thinner; and the songs were a monument of past piety rather than a witness to a present. Like vice, this earth which was once “a monster of so frightful mien” was first endured, then pitied, then embraced—and even wedded by man; its sufferings were healed and its delights enjoyed. The pain, the pleasure of earth, what does it mean? man’s heart again asked as it asked in happy Greece long ago. But as time went by, the human mind was bruised and broken over this question, until it concluded that all we call life is a great illusion. And back and behind this life, with its tumult and fitful fever, there is the “vasty deep” of the infinite nothing. Life is a cheat. And now there is Weltschmerz, Lebenschmerz—simply a naturalistic form of the old ecclesiastical longing for death. It said the same “No!” to life that the old church song said—it, too, valued the day of death higher than the day of birth; it, too, urged that, since life is intrinsically evil, the cure of the evil is to live as little as possible.
Into such a world Friedrich Nietzsche was born, breathed its atmosphere, was himself once drunk upon its drugged drinks. The preacher of this modern yearning for Nirvana,—i.e., not metaphysical non-existence but psychological desirelessness,—was Schopenhauer as well as his disciple von Hartmann. This is the worst possible world, croaked Schopenhauer; No, moaned von Hartmann, it is not the worst possible world, it is the best possible world, but it is worse than none! And once Nietzsche called Schopenhauer his teacher—went forth as an enthusiastic apostle of the message of passive resignation to the inevitable sorry scheme of things, nay, of the message that the world is the work of an anguished god seeking redemption from the infinite misery of existence by the infinite negation of life.
And surely the anguish of Nietzsche fitted him, as no other, to be partner in distress of this anguished god. Surely he, if anyone, could say, To this end was I born and for this purpose came I into the world, to bear witness—to the body of this death. From his mother’s womb was he set apart to suffer. Endowed with a transcendent and super-abundant fulness of spirit, every fresh and forceful impulse of his personality he felt as an indictment of the inexorable pitiless limitations within which his best innermost life was imprisoned. He was a voice crying in the wilderness, not only to men, but to himself. Each new flash of light which illumined his inner eye let him see the graves upon which he was treading, and revealed those who claimed to be alive in the mask of the death to which they had succumbed. In the abounding wealth of youth he felt a mortal sickness getting its grip upon him. As life dragged on, he felt more and more the hell tortures of pain from which he had to wring his work every hour of his existence.
Who would have the effrontery to cast a stone at this man had he flung down his arms into one of those graves, and cried with an old philosopher: This may all be very well for the gods, but not for me! But he did not lay down his arms! Freed from all encumbrances of conscience and debilitating sense of sin which had paralyzed the Christian, and from the Schopenhauer Welt- und Lebenanschauung, he welcomed all that life had to offer and went unhesitatingly toward the universal goal of annihilation with a blithe and unregretting spirit. Entertaining no illusions about indeterminism or free-will or immortality, he rejoiced in his strength, seized with avidity the passing moment, and fell fighting to the last. He spoke his courageous “Yes!” to life, while Schopenhauer, with his money and his mistress, and all the world beside, were crying to him to say “No!” For this we must thank him. In this we find an antidote to present-day tendencies to sink the individual in the multitude, to subordinate men to institutions, and to apotheosize mediocrity. Nietzsche met pain with a power which transformed even death into life, and turned the day of his death even into a festival of the soul. He taught himself and he taught others to believe in that power, which alone is great,—to believe in the Power of the Will! Nietzsche, like Jesus, proclaimed the inestimable worth of the individual man, saw for him vast and glorious possibilities, sought the regeneration of society through the regeneration of the individual. Both committed the fortunes of the cause to which they devoted their lives to individuals and not to masses of men. Both believed that the best was yet to be. Both believed in the inwardness, the self-dependence, and the autonomy of personality. Neither ever side-stepped or flinched.
Today we are suffering from impuissant personality, from cowardice, from weakness of the will. Taming the great wild strong instincts, making them small and weak, choking them, so that man can will nothing or do nothing great and original and special—this is what we call civilization. A comfortable existence, this is the final end of life, according to this civilization. No conflict, no danger, for these menace comfort! Not to know the comfort of a calm, safe existence from which you can look down upon the struggles in a neck-breaking life far below—that is barbarism indeed! And is not this comfort a virtue, buttressed by moral principles at that? So buttressed, one’s slumbers are not disturbed. And may not one add to this virtue of comfort that other cardinal virtue of hatred of all that keeps matters stirred up, all that causes unrest, that causes sleepless nights and stormy days? What the man of civilization hates he calls “bad,” what he loves he calls “good.” Accordingly, as Nietzsche saw and said, the weak are the “good” people, the brave and the strong are the “bad.” Accordingly, also, it is comfortable to be “moral.” All one needs is to attune one’s life to the “common run,” to quarantine against every profound disturbance, to steal by every dangerous abyss of life. And if powers stir in man which do not amiably submit to taming, why, “morality” may be used as a whip to lash these insubordinate stirrings into subjection. And if the living heart crouches into submission under the lash, why, such crouching is called “virtue,” and the daring to resist and escape the lash, this of course is “vice.” In a word, the most will-less is the most virtuous. Thus—such was Nietzsche’s uncanny insight—“moral laws” are devices for disciplining the will into weakness! “Morality” is a poison with which man is inoculated, so that his strength may be palsied. “Morality” is itself death to a man, a will to weakness, a destruction of the will, while life is a will to power, a will to self-affirmation.
Every virtue has its double, easily confounded with it, in reality the exact opposite of it. Take meekness, peaceableness. It is a virtue which the cowardly, the over-cautious, arrogate to themselves—those who duck and bow and bend so as to give no offense, and to conjure up no violent conflict. Yet to be peaceable and meek is in truth supreme strength, having one’s own stormy heart under control, and being absolutely sure of power over the militant spirits of men. Humility is a sign at once of smallness and of greatness. Patience is at once a lazy lassitude and an active steadfast strength. Chastity may be reduced vitality, fear of disease, fear of being found out, lack of opportunity, slavery to respectability, poverty, or it may be temperance and self-control in satisfying sex-needs. And so on. Every virtue may arise because a man is too weak for the opposite. And this virtue which walks the path of virtue because it lacks the courage and the strength not to do so, this complacent, harmless, untempted virtue, men make the universal criterion of all virtue, the codex of their morality. Today still the pharisee, not the publican, the son who stupidly ate his fill in his father’s house, not the “prodigal” who hungered in the far country, heads the scroll of the virtuous. To fear and flee vice, or to “pass a law,” this is the current solution of morality, dinged into us from youth up, not to confront vice, battle with it, conquer and coerce it!
So misunderstood Nietzsche thought. He thought that the morality of “virtuous people” was, in fact, a foe of life, that the virtue of the weak was a grave for the virtue of the strong, and that, consequently the consciences of men must be aroused so that they could see the whole abomination of this, their virtue, of which they were so proud. To bridle and tame men is not to ennoble them; to make men too weak and cowardly for vice is not to make them strong and brave for the good. This anxious and painful slipping and winding and twisting between virtue and vice, this cannot be the fate of the future, the eternal destiny of man; this is to make man the eternal slave of man; to damn him in his innermost and idiomatic life to the lot of the eternal slave. Virtue and vice are values which men mint, stamps which men imprint upon their ever-changing conduct, not eternal values, born of life itself, sanctioned by the law of life itself. As time goes on tables of old values become sins. To obey them, to have the law outside and not inside us, is “to fall from grace” indeed. A law of life cannot be on paper, for paper is not living. Life must be the law of life. Life must interpret and reveal life. And life must be the criterion of life. What makes us alive, and strong, and mighty of will, is on that account good; what brings death and weakness, foulness and feebleness of will is bad. The courage which in the most desperate situation of life, in the most labyrinthan aberration of thought, dares to wring a new strength to live, is good; all pusillanimity, all over-mastery by pain, all collapse under the burden of life, all disappointing desert of the censure, “O ye of little faith, why are ye fearful?”—all this is bad. It will be a new day for man when he feels it wrong and immoral to lament his lot, to whine, but right and moral to earn strength from pain, a will to labor from temptation to die. Not the fear of the moral man to sin, but the fear to be weak, so that one cannot do one’s work in the world—that is to be the fear in the future. The powerful will, nay, the will become power itself, the fixed heart, the keyed and concentrated personality; this means freedom from every slave yoke. And it means that life is no longer at the mercy of capricious and contingent gain and loss, but a King’s Crown conquered in conflict with itself, with man, and with God.
Also sprach Nietzsche-Zarathustra!
Keats and Fanny Brawne
By Charlotte Wilson
He tried to pour the torrents of his love
Into a tiny vase; a trinket—smooth,
Pretty enough—but fit to hold a rose
Upon some shrewd collector’s cabinet.
Toward that small moon the wild tides of his love
Reared up, and fell back, moaning; and he died
Asking his heart why love was agony.
And she? She loved the best she could, I think,
And wondered sometimes—but not overmuch—
At poor John’s queer, unseemly violence.
A New Woman from Denmark
Karen Borneman, by Hjalmar Bergström. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.]
From the north, whence Ibsen’s Nora challenged the world as far back as 1879, comes a fresh message of rebellion in the more radical figure of Karen Borneman. In judging this play of Bergström’s, which has but now appeared in Edwin Björkman’s translation, we must remember that it was written in 1907—before we had grown so sophisticated concerning the rebel woman in her infinite manifestations. And yet, because this vanguard of a new morality is still a slender company, the addition of a new member cannot fail to arouse a ripple of excitement in the watchful rank and file. For that reason, as well as for some novel characteristics of her own, Karen Borneman merits a word for herself.
Bergström chose the most obvious method of contrast in projecting his heroine upon a background of stringent restraint. Her father is Kristen Borneman, a professor of theology whose chief interest in life is the propagation of the principles contained in his magnum opus, Marriage and Christian Morality. Her mother is an apparently submissive woman who sometimes questions the edicts of her husband. Her brother, Peter, is an adolescent youth, already awake to the conflict between the natural man and the unnatural economic system, and seemingly bound for destruction. Thora, her young sister, is already seeking out the clandestine outlet for an excessive and dangerous sentimentality. Another sister, Gertrude, has suffered a mental collapse and is confined in an insane asylum. These children, the author seems to say, are the results of a chafing restrictive discipline, and natural instincts gone wrong—a conclusion weakened, not strengthened by over-illustration. When four of a family of eight show signs of a similar abnormal development one suspects not only the disciplinary system but the purity of their inheritance.
Be that as it may, the chief protagonist, Karen, is quite a normal person—except in the matter of courage, of which she possesses an inordinate amount. But then all new women are courageous to a fault. She is a woman of twenty-eight, mature, cultivated, and a successful professional writer. Her most salient claim to consideration in the early scenes of the play is her quiet assurance in the right of her position. She voluntarily opens up her past to the professedly liberal physician who seeks her hand.
“Some years ago I—lived with a man…. You are a widower yourself. You may regard me as a widow or—a divorced wife.”
And when he spurns her action as squalor, she indignantly replies, “Doctor, how dare you. A phase of my life that at least to me is sacred, and you cast reflections on it, that—”
There is a brevity, a terseness, about her words that create greater sense of her power than would any amount of emotional pyrotechnics. In the later scene with her father she is equally as simple:
“The sum and substance of it is this: I have been married twice…. I mean that twice during my life—with years between—I have given myself, body and soul, to the man I loved, firmly determined to remain faithful to him unto death.” Then follows the recital of the two love affairs—the first with a brilliant but very poor journalist who died prematurely, and the other with a sculptor, Strandgaard, whom she left on the discovery of his faithlessness.
Her vision is of a time of greater freedom for self-expression:
“… the day will come when we, too, will demand it as our right—demand the chance to live our own lives as we choose and as we can, without being held the worse on that account. Of course, I know that this is not an ideal, but merely a makeshift meant to serve until at last a time comes which recognizes the right of every human being to continue its life through the race.”
Her justification is the characteristic one:
“I have, after all, lived for a time during those few years of youth that are granted us human beings only once in our lifetime, and that will never, never come back again. What have these other ones got out of their enforced duty and virtue except bitterness—bitterness and emptiness? I have, after all, felt the fullness of life within me while there was still time, and I don’t regret it!”
The clash with her father whom she loves tenderly she accepts as inevitable in spite of the pain it must bring them both. The ecstasy of a great vision softens to the note of personal loss as she leaves him:
“Yes—I do pity you, father! Don’t think my heart is made of stone. The sorrow I have done you cannot be greater than the one I feel within myself at this moment, when perhaps I see you for the last time! But how can I help that I am the child of a time that you don’t understand? We have never wanted to hurt each other, of course—but I suppose it is the law of life, that nothing new can come into the world without pain—”
Because Karen advocates a course generally denoted by the term (of wretched connotation) free love, she is not to be confused with those of lesser fineness who are fighting at her side. For instance, with Stanley Houghton’s heroine in Hindle Wakes. Anyone who sees in Karen another Fanny Hawthorne, has failed to understand Karen’s position. She is a woman of culture and of ideals in all matters of life, and especially in that of the sex relationship. “I have given myself, …” she says, “to the man I loved, firmly determined to remain faithful to him unto death.” This is a far cry from Fanny’s reply to Alan: “Love you? Good heavens, of course not! Why on earth should I love you? You were just someone to have a bit of fun with. You were an amusement—a lark.” To Karen the relationship is justified only by depth of passion, and she entered it with as great a solemnity and glow of consecration as did ever a serious woman a church-made marriage. To the many camp-followers of “established” feminism, those who don or doff their principles with the transient fashion,—to them Karen must seem a humorous, if not a pitiable figure. For she dares to have beliefs and gallantly cleaves to them.
Karen, then, is a new woman in the sense that in the moment of crisis she did not accept as inevitable the reply of convention, but weighed her need against the law, and, finding the latter wanting, fulfilled her need at the sacrifice of the law. On the other hand, she is not of those who break laws for the intrinsic pleasure of destruction.
“Of course,” she admits, “it would have been ever so much more easy for me if, while I was still young, some presentable man, with all his papers in perfect order and a financially secure future, had come and asked for me—”
And she welcomes marriage with the good Doctor Schou in an attitude unpleasantly reactionary:
“… I believe every woman who has reached a certain age—and you know I am twenty-eight—will, without hesitation, prefer a limited but secure existence by the side of an honest man to the most unlimited personal freedom.”
And worst of all, she, who throughout the play declares herself unconvinced of guilt or stain, at the close of the first act becomes quite mawkishly sentimental over Heine’s pretty line, “May God forever keep you so fair, and sweet, and pure.”
Because Karen exhibits these painful inconsistencies, she is no less possible or real or worthwhile. We who know many women emerging in diverse odd shapes from the travail of awakening have discovered just as inconsistent a combination of precipitation and reaction; and thus will it ever be until we have at length worked out our way to the most serviceable harmony. It is for this very reason that Karen is interesting: she is no superwoman, but our own imperfect sister.
Of the other characters there is but one deserving special comment—Karen’s mother, who to me is the most remarkable person Bergström has here created. She confesses to her husband that she has known for three years that Karen had been living in Paris with Strandgaard, but had kept the knowledge to herself because it had been too late to interfere, and because she did not regard the calamity as others would have in her place. From a terrible and bitter experience with another daughter, Gertrude, who had gone insane through the abrupt breaking off of a long engagement which had aroused primitive passion and left it unfulfilled, Mrs. Borneman had reached a revolutionary conclusion:
“… from that day I have—after a careful consideration—done what I could to let our children live the life of youth, sexually and otherwise, in as much freedom as possible. The result of your educational method, my dear Kristen, is our poor Gertrude, who is now confined in an insane asylum, as incurable. The result of my method is Karen, I suppose. I don’t know if it is very sinful to say so, but I feel much less burdened by guilt than I should if conditions were reversed.”
When Karen, however, defends her course as an abstract ideal of “every human being to continue its life through the race,” and appeals to her mother to understand, Mrs. Borneman retreats with, “I wash my hands of it, Karen. I don’t dare to think that far….”
It was her motherhood that had forced upon her the courage to overlook the law, and not any desire to throw over the old to set up a new law. The glory of the new vision means nothing to her in comparison with her husband’s suffering to which she herself has added. She is the promise of a new type—the awakened mother.
As for the play as a whole, it appears to me that Mr. Bergström has tried to say too much in the slight space of one short play, for he has two distinct themes—the right of woman to love and life, and the relationship between marriage and children. The first is the chief theme, which is worked out in the story of Karen; the second is too important to be employed as a subsidiary thread, and instead of adding richness to the first it rather clutters and confuses it with unnecessary baggage. Mrs. Borneman pities one of her sons because he cannot afford to have children on his slender salary, and feels that her other son is not justified in blindly bringing child after child into the world, depending upon the rest of the family for their maintenance. She asks her husband:
“So it is not enough for two people to live together in mutual love?”
“No, Cecilia, that has nothing to do with marriage. What is so inconceivably glorious about marriage is that, through it, God has delegated His own creative power to us simple human beings—that He has made us share His own divine omnipotence.”
The poor professor is made consistent to the point of absurdity, and the main issue befogged, when he cries out to Karen:
“And yet I could have forgiven you everything—your wantonness and your defiance—if you had taken the consequences and had a child! If you had had ten illegitimate children—better that than none at all! But you have arrogantly defied the very commandments of nature, which are nothing but the commandments of God!”
Perhaps this matter was included for the sake of Karen’s reply:
“Do you think I am a perfect monster of a woman, who has never felt the longing for a baby? Not me does your anger hit, but that society which will not regard it as an inevitable duty to recognize the right of every human being to have children—as a right, mark you, and not as a privilege reserved for the richest and the poorest. There are thousands of us to whom the right is denied—thousands of men as well as women. But we, too, are human beings, with love longings and love instincts, and we will not let us be cheated out of the best thing that life holds!”
Technically the play is not so perfect a thing as Mr. Björkman’s unbounded encomiums would make us believe. It opens, for instance, in the good old fashion scorned by Ibsen—with the gossip of servants, who are here engaged in laying the table instead of in the time-honored task of dusting. The whole action is cast within some eight hours, thus causing a use of coincidence to the straining point. The most commendable feature of technique is the admirably sustained suspense: the story of Gertrude overshadows the entire piece from the opening scene to Mrs. Borneman’s avowal in the last act. The powerful use of the story as contrast to Karen’s career is also unusual.
And yet in spite of its faults—perhaps because of them—we have found Karen Borneman the most stimulating play of the year. We hope one of our two organizations dedicated to the drama will put it on in the near future.
When the ape lost his wits he became man.—Viacheslav Ivanov.
Galsworthy’s Little Human Comedy
No magazine that comes to this office is looked for more excitedly than Harper’s Weekly. Poetry and Drama is a quarterly event that keeps us in a dignified intensity of expectation; and there are others. But Harper’s is a weekly adventure in the interest of which we haunt the postman. At present it is featuring a series of sketches by Galsworthy—satirical characterizations of those human beings who pride themselves on being “different.” Here is a man who knows himself for a philosopher; here is an “artist”; here is one of those rare individualities so enlightened, so superior, so removed, that there is only one label for him: “The Superlative.”
But it is in The Philosopher that Galsworthy excels himself. It is probably the most consummate satire that has appeared in the last decade:
He had a philosophy as yet untouched. His stars were the old stars, his faith the old faith; nor would he recognize that there was any other, for not to recognize any point of view except his own was no doubt the very essence of his faith. Wisdom! There was surely none save the flinging of the door to, standing with your back against that door, and telling people what was behind it. For though he did not know what was behind, he thought it low to say so. An “atheist,” as he termed certain persons, was to him beneath contempt; an “agnostic,” as he termed certain others, a poor and foolish creature. As for a rationalist, positivist, pragmatist, or any other “ist”—well, that was just what they were. He made no secret of the fact that he simply could not understand people like that. It was true. “What can they do save deny?” he would say. “What do they contribute to the morals and the elevation of the world? What do they put in place of what they take away? What have they got, to make up for what is behind that door? Where are their symbols? How shall they move and leave the people?” “No,” he said; “a little child shall lead them, and I am the little child. For I can spin them a tale, such as children love, of what is behind the door.” Such was the temper of his mind that he never flinched from believing true what he thought would benefit himself and others. Amongst other things he held a crown of ultimate advantage to be necessary to pure and stable living. If one could not say: “Listen, children, there it is, behind the door. Look at it, shining, golden—yours! Not now, but when you die, if you are good.”… If one could not say that, what could one say? What inducement hold out?…
This is merely the first paragraph. The rest is even better. Such an analysis ought to extinguish the Puritan forever—except that he won’t understand it. He’ll think it was aimed at his neighbor. He knows any number of men like that….
Knowledge or Prejudice
A critic writes us that he finds no fault with freedom of speech, and that Emma Goldman’s disregard of ordinary moral laws and blasphemy of religion do not destroy the fact that she exists. But such an article about her as appeared in our last issue is well calculated to make us appear absurd, he thinks; it sounds like the oration of some one who is just beginning to discover the things that the world has known always; and he closes with this deliciously naïve question: “Do you believe in listening respectfully to advocates of free love, and, because of their daring, applauding them?”
Yes, we believe in listening respectfully to any sincere programme; we believe that is the only way people get to understand things. We even believe in listening seriously to insincere programmes, because the insincere person usually thinks he is sincere and helps one to understand even more. By doing all these things one is likely to reach that altitude where “to understand all is to forgive all.”
As for “advocates of free love”—we recall the impatient comment of a well-known woman novelist: “When will people stop using that silly, superfluous phrase ‘free love’? We don’t talk about ‘cold ice’ or ‘black coal’!”
And, though our applause was not confined to Emma Goldman’s daring, as our critic would probably concede, is not daring a thing worthy of applause? Just as conflict is better than mediation, or suffering than security, daring is so much more legitimate an attitude than complacency.
But it is that remark about “things the world has known always” which exasperates us the most. The world has not known them always; it doesn’t know them now. It has heard of them vaguely—just to the point of becoming prejudiced about them. And prejudice is the first element that sneaks away when knowledge begins to develop. If the world represented by our critic knew these things it might be roused to daring, too.
Rupert Brooke’s Visit
Rupert Brooke was in Chicago for a few days last month. One of the most interesting things to us about his visit was that he so quickly justified all the theories we have had about him since we first read his poetry. First, that only the most pristine freshness could have produced those poems that some people have been calling decadent; second, that while he probably is “the most beautiful young man in England” it was rather silly of Mr. Yeats to add that he is also “the wearer of the most gorgeous shirts.” Because Rupert Brooke doesn’t wear gorgeous shirts; he appears to have very little interest in shirts, as we expected. He is too concerned with the big business of life and poetry. He is, as a very astute young member of our staff suggested, somehow like the sea.
“Books and the Quiet Life”
George Gissing has always had a peculiarly poignant place in our galaxy of literary favorites, and nowhere have we loved him more than in that little “autobiography” which he called The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft. The portions of that book which have to do specifically with books and reading have been brought together by Mr. Waldo R. Browne and published with Mr. Mosher’s usual incomparable taste.
A good many people have loved books as well as George Gissing did, perhaps, but very few of them have been able to express that love like this:
The exquisite quiet of this room! I have been sitting in utter idleness, watching the sky, viewing the shape of golden sunlight upon the carpet, which changes as the minutes pass, letting my eye wander from one framed print to another, and along the ranks of my beloved books….
I have my home at last. When I place a new volume on my shelves, I say: Stand there whilst I have eyes to see you; and a joyous tremor thrills me….
For one thing, I know every book of mine by its scent, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things….
I regard the book with that peculiar affection which results from sacrifice … in no drawing-room sense of the word. Dozens of my books were purchased with money which ought to have been spent upon what are called the necessities of life. Many a time I have stood before a stall, or a bookseller’s window, torn by conflict of intellectual desire and bodily need. At the very hour of dinner, when my stomach clamored for food, I have been stopped by sight of a volume so long coveted, and marked at so advantageous a price, that I could not let it go; yet to buy it meant pangs of famine. My Heyne’s Tibullus was grasped at such a moment. It lay on the stall of the old book-shop in Goodge Street—a stall where now and then one found an excellent thing among quantities of rubbish. Sixpence was the price—sixpence! At that time I used to eat my mid-day meal (of course, my dinner) at a coffee-shop in Oxford Street, one of the real old coffee-shops, such as now, I suppose, can hardly be found. Sixpence was all I had—yes, all I had in the world; it would purchase a plate of meat and vegetables. But I did not dare to hope that the Tibullus would wait until the morrow, when a certain small sum fell due me. I paced the pavement, fingering the coppers in my pocket, eyeing the stall, two appetites at combat within me. The book was bought and I went home with it, and as I made a dinner of bread and butter I gloated over the pages.
New York Letter
Hilaire Belloc is coming to America next fall for a lecturing tour. It is well to take stock of him, so that we shall know what to expect. He is clever, and a Catholic—that tells the whole story. We don’t know exactly how he will say it, but we know what he will say. Through various smiling subtleties and paradoxes he will attack democracy, feminism, socialism, individualistic rebellion of any kind. It is quite possible that he will aim a few careless shots at Montessori, the discussion of sex questions in public, Galsworthy, and Bernard Shaw. He is a masculine, English, Agnes Repplier. He will entertain his cultivated audiences, and give them the impression that he is very modern and daring.
It is curious how the thinking mind immediately discounts the testimony of one who is known to have given his allegiance to an embracing authority of any kind. Whether the authority in question is the Vatican, Karl Marx, Business, Nietzsche, or Theodore Roosevelt, we know the man’s whole mind is likely to be colored with it, and that the evidence is probably of less importance to him than his case. Yet there is always a moral suspicion against the man who refuses to enroll himself under any banner. He seems dead, inhuman, academic. March to the drums, salute the colors, or admit there is no blood in you! It is good that most of mankind does so. The strongest army (not necessarily the largest) will win, and the battle must come for the sake of the victory.
Therefore, let the radicals welcome Mr. Belloc as a good enemy. He stands for a sincere, highly organized, and powerful propaganda which cannot be ignored on the modern battlefield. On account of their worship of authority the Catholics have a solidarity which no other movement can boast. For the same reason they are doomed to an eternal enmity with adventurous souls, those who fight for change of any kind. They seem often to be in accord with advancing thinkers because they condemn present conditions. But closer investigation will always show that instead of pointing to the future they cling to the past. Mgr. Benson, during his recent visit to New York, stated in private conversation that present social conditions are intolerable. He went on to say that an ideal society can be attained only under feudalism, with the church in control.
There will be no more danger from the Catholics than from any other army as long as we know what they are fighting for, and are able to recognize their irregular troops.
But let there be no complacency among the enemies of the church on the ground that it may not be really in the field, or has not artillery when it gets there. Without investigation of any kind, I have heard of two books attacking the church which were suppressed by their publishers at the demand of Catholic authorities. In each case the weapon was a threat to withdraw an extensive text book business from the house in question. Naturally, the parties to the matter have not been anxious to give it publicity. A magazine which published an article displeasing to Catholics received a letter threatening it with black-listing. There appears to be a well organized and efficient church publicity bureau to attend to these and other matters. A proposal was recently made by a Catholic journal that priests in confessional impose as penance the subscription to Catholic papers and the purchase of Catholic books, at the same time warning the people against secular publications. This was discussed with some approval by America, the New York Jesuit weekly, which regretfully admitted, however, that in the end Catholic publications must depend “mainly on their merit.” We are likely to ignore such mediæval methods until we find them obstructing some actual movement of importance. They do obstruct such movements, however, sometimes very annoyingly.
All these methods are but the natural and blameless working of the doctrine of intolerance. And perhaps their greatest danger is that their temporary success will induce the opposing armies to use the same weapon and so shackle themselves. The intolerance of the Puritan was a natural result of his bitter struggle, yet it produced a century of aesthetic darkness. The advanced opponents of the Puritan era are now uttering pronunciamentos and personalities that are Archiepiscopal in their intolerance.
But, you say, intolerance is necessary in the soldier. He must hate his enemy and seek not only to dislodge but to silence his opponent. Well, I will admit that when the soldier is in battle he must shoot to kill. But there is a new kind of soldier developing who is more valuable to man than the old. He joins the army not so much because of the magic of the colors as because of the necessity of the cause and its temporary usefulness in serving the truth behind it. Just as he will not march to war without reason, so he will stop fighting his immediate enemy when his cause is won, and will not go on to bickering and pillage. He is ready to enlist under a new banner at any moment when a new banner represents a more glorious cause than the old. His General is not a god, but a leader. His freedom of choice is always the biggest asset of his strength. Therefore he cannot be intolerant. He is strong, hard, efficient, relentless, but never pompous or slavish. How much time the world has lost eliminating armies of strong men whose fatal fault was excessive, unreasoning loyalty!
That, after all, solves the riddle of my second paragraph. And if the soldier must subordinate his cause to his truth, how much more so the General and the King! The General has very little time to hate his enemy. He must know their strength, study their methods, adopt the best of their ideas, spy out the country, plan a campaign. He orders slaughter not for revenge or hatred, but for success. Therefore it is of supreme importance that his success be worth while.
And the King, the man who selects the cause and fires men to battle. The nearer he comes to an assertion of infallibility the surer is the final defeat of his cause. If he will allow no room for change and growth, change and growth will sweep him aside. We need big men who will not enlist under colors, but are always pushing back the horizon of truth. Distrust the leader who has found the final answer to the riddle. Some day shall we not have a Messiah who shall begin by saying: “Do not found in my name any church, cult, or school. If a man question my message, listen to him closely and learn what truth he has. Always seek the new, the more perfect. Always grow out from the fixed. So shall you begin a race of Kings greater than I.”
Miss Columbia: An Old-Fashioned Girl
That the United States of America is young is a truism which needs no stating, and unfortunately its youth is hopelessly fettered in the strings of tradition.
Ferrero says that aesthetic taste in America shows itself in bathrooms; and certainly in plumbing we do seem to have a taste above that of the rest of the world. In other things America fears originality and change far more even than England does. Miss Columbia is a bright girl, sitting in a schoolroom, with well-worn editions of the English classics on the book-shelves. Miss Columbia writes verses and stories following the most approved models; she succeeds rather well, but, after all, they are only school essays. It seems impossible for Americans to have the courage to admit that Life is as they see it. Hence the shallow and frivolous optimism which hangs like an obscuring fog over practically all our writing. It would be a convention were it not that we think we believe it; it would be a conviction only that we never look at it close enough to test it. The vogue, a year or two ago, of Mr. Robert Haven Schauffler’s Scum o’ the Earth is a case in point. It deals with the problem of immigration, not as it is, but as it might be if it were. The poem is imitative as art, and false as life, but it flatters an existing condition, and paints a sore to represent healthy flesh; wherefore America hails it with content. Americans are afraid of Life, in the Victorian manner. A Catholic said to me, some time ago: “Sex is dirty.” This sacrilege is a thoroughly Victorian sentiment, but sex alone does not come under the ban; pain, squalor, and, above all, the fact that virtue and effort frequently go unrewarded, are facts to which, in America, one must shut one’s eyes. Miss Columbia is very young, and her gold must be minted before she recognizes it; in the matrix it looks insignificant to her inexperienced eyes.
Style is not manner, but personality. And the fact that our poets and story writers keep to the old forms and expressions proves (does it not?) that they have no inward urging which makes them find old molds too cramping.
In a play of George Cohan’s, Broadway Jones, you have the best of middle-class America—its good points and its limitations. Perhaps this is even better brought out in his other play, Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford. “Crude,” you say; “childish!” Quite true, but entirely and absolutely America. For the United States is governed by the Great God: Mediocrity! The middle-class, or, as we call him, “the man in the street,” rules. Neither the gaunt simplicities of the lower class (although we talk a great deal about the lower class), nor the simplicities of the educated and intellectually alert, can leaven the lump of self-satisfied commonplaceness. Not only don’t we know, but we don’t want to know. An American writer, who had lived in Europe long enough to forget the peculiar American temper, was sufficiently ingenuous as to propose to the editor of one of our best-known magazines a series of three articles on six contemporary French poets. They were refused, because his clientèle did not care to read of things of which they knew nothing. “They will know less than I,” said the editor, “and I have only heard of two of these names.”
We are a little better off as regards our musical taste, because music is a universal language, and we can hear music in the “original,” so to say. In music, again, our output is more in accordance with the spirit of the whole world.
This does not mean that there are not good writers in America. There are. But most of them write “dans le goût d’avant-hier.” I am only telling you that Miss Columbia is in her artistic ’teens, and is as unimaginatively conventional as is the human animal at the same age. And, again like the human animal, she was not so childish when she was a baby. Paul Revere, riding across the Middlesex Fells to rouse the minute men, was like any adult man on a job which he shrewdly suspects will change the fate of nations. Poe and Whitman were not exactly childish. But were Poe writing today, he would be told that his subjects were “unimportant” and that he “lacked social consciousness.” For we in America are suffering from a pathological outlook on the world. Our activities function along the line of preventive medicine for communities. The richness and variety of personality is lost sight of in the lump. We forget that admirable truth set forth in the poem beginning “Little drops of water.”
And then, too, poor America is so many different kinds of persons and places. What we are going to be lies on the lap of the Gods. But it seems quite clear that, whatever it is, it will not be Anglo-Saxon.
Go to any vaudeville theatre and you will see Americans “turkey-trotting” to an intricately syncopated music we have dubbed “rag-time.” No European can dance it with just that zip and swing. It is a purely American thing. Stop a minute! Do you realize that this is America’s first original contribution to the arts! Low or high, that is not the point; it is America’s own product, and for that reason I regret to see the tango superseding it, although the tango is a better dance. I am told by those who know, that dancing is the first art practised by primitive peoples. I believe that in our “turkey-trotting” and “rag-time” we have the earliest artistic gropings of a new race. Our musicians scorn “rag-time,” and it takes the clear eye of a Frenchman to see its interest. Debussy has seen it in his Minstrels.
Poetry to the Uttermost
We are afraid. We are all horribly afraid. The seal of poetic propriety is laid upon our lips, the burden of tradition bows us down. Crouched and abject beneath the dominance of the slave-driver, gap-toothed Custom, we set our shoulders to the toil—the useless toil—of dragging through the mile-years of simoom-whipped sand the impassive statue of Mediocrity.
What, if the vulture scream above us, can we dare to tell the meaning of its cry? Sharp will descend the whip of circumstance to warn that otherwhere the nightingales are singing under a full-orbed moon and we must sing of them.
Does an all-reckless slave defy his Maker with a thunderbolt of blasphemy, forged in the furnace of his agony? Straight comes the penalty decreeing silence and neglect unless we chant apocalyptic anodynes.
If the challenge of the blood outbeats the clanging of the bonds and in the glowing dusk man and woman cling to each other until the uttermost is won, shall this be told in paean and in song? Not unless social usage has been satisfied and it be ascertained that desire has given place to design, that love has been exchanged for lucre, and that marriage has been substituted for mating; then are we bidden cull from the common-casket of permitted phrases the veil, the orange-flower wreath, and all the weary paraphernalia of convention, and write an epithalamium to the plaudits of the admiring throng.
Rituals began in poetry. And since all rituals today have lost most of their ancient power, serving to soothe and charm instead of to stir and challenge, we look to the poetry of today to lay the web whereon the rituals of the future shall be spun. Let not that web possess one strand of mediocrity. Platitudinizing is no pattern for the future. If we are fain to cry aloud, let our throats crack thereat; if we would hurl defiance, let us not fear to charge after our javelins and find our freedom in the breach ourselves have made.
Every true poet has the uttermost within, if he or she will but give it voice. Oh, poets of every craft, give of the uttermost! Better a single cry like The Ballad of Reading Gaol, like Bianca, like When I am dead and sister to the dust—to touch on a few moderns only—than a lumber-loft of pretty and tuneful voicings of the themes that please but do not satisfy. There are those of us who read whose blood runs hot and red as well as yours. Dare, O you poets of every craft! Rise to the cry! Your hearts are high and full of gallantry, the world is waiting to be led by you to heights before unscaled. Shake cowardice away and dare!
Reflections of a Dilettante
All art is symbolical. A mere presentation of things as they are seen by our physical eye is photography, not art. Yet there exists a Symbolistic school in contradistinction to other currents such as Realism, Impressionism, Neo-Romanticism, etc. Is not this a misnomer? Can we say, for instance, that Beaudélaire’s Fleurs du Mal were symbols, while Goethe gave us but realistic reproductions of actual life? Should we exclude Whitman from the Symbolists for the reason that his poems are less fantastic, nearer to life than those of Poe? What about Vereshchagin: was not his brush symbolistic because he adhered to realistic methods? Obviously, an artist presents not objects but ideas, and the symbolisticity of a certain work of art is rather a question of method and degree.
Perhaps we should differentiate artists according to their relationship with and attitude towards the public. The realist—and under this elastic term we may understand likewise the romanticist and the impressionist—is definite in his interpretation of life, is outspoken and clear in conveying his conceptions; he drags us unto his point of view, makes us see through his eyes and take for granted his impressions. He says to us: “Thus I see the world. Thus life and nature are reflected in my mind. This is precisely what I mean; please do not misinterpret me.” We are bound to obey; the artist—provided he is a real artist—forces upon us his eyeglasses, and we follow his directions.
The purely Symbolistic artist, on the other hand, grants freedom to the public. Vague tones, dim outlines, abstract figures, imperceptible moods, misty reflections, make his art unyielding to a definite interpretation. All he imposes upon us is an atmosphere, into which we are invited to come and co-create. Here is a canvas, here are colors, here are moods; go ahead and make out of them what you like. We are thus left to our own guidance; we are enabled to put our ego into the artist’s work, we are free to find in it whatever reflections we choose and to form our own conceptions. If we succeed in solving the problem, if we make the symbol live in our imagination, we experience the bliss of creation; should we fail in our task, should the symbol remain meaningless to us, we conclude that the given atmosphere is alien to our mind. Music of all arts is the most symbolical. True, Wagner and Strauss have endeavored to impose upon the listener leit-motifs, to dictate the public an interpretation of specific tones, but they have failed in their attempts to introduce a sort of a “key” to music; we remain autonomous in “explaining” Siegfried and Don Quixote.
Which of the methods is preferable? I should resent any narrow decision on this point. A crystalline September day or a purple-crimson sunset, how can we choose? We delight in both, but in one case we admire the visible beauty, while in the other we make one step forward and complement the seen splendor with strokes of our creative imagination. Perhaps my non-partisanship is due to my dilettantism; as it is, I approach a book or a picture with one scale: is it a work of art? If it is, then any method is justifiable, no matter how differently it may appeal to the individual taste.
Yet—and there is no inconsistency in my statement—I do discriminate in art productions in so far as my personal affections are concerned. Great as my delight is in the arts of Tolstoi and Zola, of Rubens and Corot, of Brahms and Massenet, of Pavlova and Karsavina, my mind is more akin to the mystic utterances of Maeterlinck and Brusov, to the hazy landscapes of Whistler and to the unreal women of Bakst, to the narcotic music of Debussy and Rachmaninov, to the wavy rhythm of Duncan and St. Denis. It is with them, with the latter, that I erect fantastic castles of my own designs and find expression of my moods and whims. I may not understand all of the Cubists and Futurists, but I owe them many new thoughts and emotions which I had not realized before having seen the new art. Schoenberg’s pieces still irritate my conventional ear, but I allow him credit for discovering new possibilities in the region of sound interpretation. We, plain mortals, who are doomed to contemplate art without having the gift to contribute to it, we are envious of genius and crave for freedom in co-creating with the artist. Hence my love for Bergson who appeals to the creative instinct of man; for him I abandoned Nietzsche, my former idol: it is so much more pleasant and feasible to be a creative being than to strive to become a perfect super-being.
Alexander S. Kaun.
The Immortality of the Soul
Bergson argues that there is a spiritual entity behind all science and that it is impossible for scientists to go beyond a certain point in developing a knowledge of whence we came. Clara E. Laughlin, in writing a review of The Truth about Woman, by Mrs. Walter M. Gallichan, accuses the writer of possessing a short-sighted, astigmatic vision of “whereuntoness.” She winds up her discussion with the sob of an ultra religionist by accusing Mrs. Gallichan of having left out a most important point in her discussion—that of the immortality of the soul. To quote Miss Laughlin exactly:
But if, as most of us believe, we are more than just links in the human chain; if we have a relation to eternity as well as to history and to posterity, there are splendid interpretations of our struggles that Mrs. Gallichan does not apprehend. If souls are immortal, life is more than the perpetration of species, or even than the improvement of the race; it is the place allotted to us for the development of that imperishable part which we are to carry hence, and through eternity. And any effort of ours which helps other souls to realize the best that life can give, to seek the best that immortality can perpetuate, may splendidly justify our existence.
Very fortunately for the future of her book, Mrs. Gallichan ignores the religionist except to say of religion, “I am certain that in us the religious impulse and the sex impulse are one.”
Mrs. Gallichan’s book is a scientific discussion of woman yesterday and today, without any attempt at sentimentalism. Her analysis is perfect and decidedly constructive. She goes back to prehistoric times and discusses in scientific phraseology how woman has progressed through the ages, and describes the part she has taken in establishing civilizations. Nowhere does she forget that she is writing for posterity and indulge in the petty foibles that are sometimes so noticeable in the work of women who write on feminism.
Lee A. Stone.
[The question of whether whatever it is that is meant by the word soul is immortal—immortal in the sense that it will live forever in a realm of the spirit or the blessed—is answered affirmatively by those who hold to the orthodox faith, is not worth discussing by a rational man who is informed, and is discussed by avowed or implied atheists with a fanatical seriousness that destroys whatever force their main contention may have. The legitimate domain of argument is limited; truth that is verifiable by men here and now is its only content. As regards what uncritical people call “immortality” serious argumentation is absolutely impossible. Faith, quotations, and personal desires are not arguments. Mrs. Gallichan’s book is in parts scientific, and is therefore of importance to thousands of people whose religion is an achievement of courageous thinking and living. To many excellent persons their professed belief in what they term “immortality” is a kind of merciful necessity. They crave and even invent assurances of it. To such persons there is no argument against it. To persons who produce the “negative” arguments there is no argument for it. And there you are!—W. C. D.]
The Possessed, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. [The Macmillan Company, New York.]
Shatov was an incorrigible idealist, with a keen satirical ability to destroy his own ideals. He had made a god out of Verhovensky, the leading figure in Dostoevsky’s The Possessed. Verhovensky was, he imagined, a god of selfish courage and supreme unconcern, the sort of man whom everybody followed involuntarily. Shatov knew that his hero had irreparably injured three women, one of them half-witted and defenseless. That did not bother the idealist at all; it was “in character.” But when Verhovensky lied about it to avoid condemnation, Shatov hit him a savage blow on the cheek and brooded for weeks over the disappointment. The disappointment was deepened by the fact that Verhovensky did not kill him for the blow.
There is something characteristically Russian about that. It goes far to explain Russian pessimism, and give the key to this very book. Your Russian wants above all things to be logical. He will fasten upon an idea and enshrine it in his holy of holies. He will relentlessly follow the dictates of his idea though it lead him to insanity. There is greatness in his attitude, also absurdity. Witness Tolstoy. And when he recognizes his own absurdity he becomes gloomy and savage; there is no escape from the vanity of the world, the spirit, and himself.
I can imagine the mood of Dostoevsky when this book germinated in his mind. He saw this trait in the people about him, he felt it in himself. The intellectuals, each with his little theory, were steadily working towards—nothing at all. The government with its elaborate systems for economic improvement and individual repression, the revolutionary with his scheming insincerity and chaotic program, were equally futile. The women with their pathetic loves, the frivolous with their mad pursuit of amusement, the great and the small, the sycophant and the rebel, were all bitter failures. Suddenly it occurred to him—they are all mad in an insane world, each in his way, one no more than another. I will vent my disgust with these vermin in a book; I will show what they really are. Like the madman who carefully traces out his meaningless labyrinth, I will with the most painstaking psychology unravel their minds, and in so doing I will find my release and my fiendish joy. The only thing lacking in this madhouse is complete self-consciousness. That I will furnish.—And so Dostoevsky logically and nobly followed his idea to its insane conclusion.
The fascinating result cannot be described in a paragraph. It is done, of course, with consummate ability. Beginning the book is like walking into a village of unknown people. They are real enough outwardly; you don’t know their nature or direction. Little by little you learn about them, and begin to take sides. Long habit makes you pick favorites. This man will be noble and successful; perhaps he is the hero. Suddenly you begin to suspect that something is wrong. All things are not working together for one end, as in well-regulated novels. Your favorites become jumbled up with the others. The author doesn’t give you a chance, because he never shows you a cross-section of a mind. He merely tells what the people do and say. You must draw your own conclusions as in ordinary life. When you get used to this, you see an occasional subtlety, a flash of sardonic laughter. Some of the people are not quite right in their minds. And at length the truth dawns; the sane people are even crazier than the others! This impression comes by sheer force of magic; how the author creates it is inexplicable. But once you have it, the fascination of following an idea obsesses you. And at the end it is impossible to find any meaning or direction in the world.
Of course, no such obsession can find a firm footing in the American temperament. After a while it seems Russian and incredible. If you can’t answer Dostoevsky logically, you will abandon logic. But he has stirred you up, and certain important conclusions rise to the surface.
One is that it would be impossible to be such a pessimist unless one looked for a good deal in the world, and looked for it rather sharply. Idealism and courage began this course of thought. Isn’t a big share of our optimism shallow? Shouldn’t we go a little deeper into things before being so sure they are right? Another is that no living individual is worth very much, after all. Our only salvation is in creating a nobler race. And for that any sacrifice of present individuals is supremely worth while.
It is as if some inspired member of a negro tribe in central Africa had suddenly awakened to the fact that his voodoo-worshipping friends were not acting rationally. From their status the burden of his chant might be horrible for its devilish revelations. But in our eyes he would be a seer and a prophet. Why should he have considered the feelings of the miserable savages? There is something more important than that!
The Salvation of the World à la Wells
Social Forces in England and America, by H. G. Wells. [Harper and Brothers, New York.]
Like many philosophers, Mr. Wells is concerned mainly with the need of a new human race. All profound reformers want that. The method of achieving this desirable result is, however, the rock of turning. It probably isn’t necessary to say that our present reformer is not one of those blind apostles of effortless immediacy. Such transmution was respectable when Botany Bay was a popular seaside resort for radical poets and philosophers. They of today realize something of the immensity of the developmental process. Their hopes are often so remote that they seem almost despair, but still time is trusted with a reliance on science for the urge toward human perfectibility. Of such the leader is H. G. Wells.
Clearly the conviction that civilization needs a new race is well founded. All ideals, all ideas, civilization, culture are and have always been the products of a pitiful minority. The tendency at present is toward making the desire of the majority supreme. The majority do not cleave toward ideals—not even toward establishing their own glory. Rousseau imagined that millions loved righteousness; Jefferson made such beliefs the basis of the country’s documents of incorporation. The idealists were manifestly mistaken. Men have never been drawn toward the ideals they have professed. Truth, justice, equality have never been valued when sex, property, or power were opposed. The virtues came in the early days from “Thus saith the Lord,” and they come today, if they come at all, from “Thus saith a Strong Man.”
Mr. Wells guesses that there are fifty thousand reading and thinking persons in England—keepers of the citadel. The fifty thousand are practically England. Perhaps his estimate is too low. John Brisben Walker says that in the United States the number of persons able to think independently about political and social matters has increased from a few score to about two hundred and fifty thousand within thirty years. The fact is, albeit, that the world has been fashioned always by this very small minority. Furthermore the present creation is not one in which there is reason for great pride.
The essay on the Great State is especially fine in this connection. Wells’s idea of the Normal Social Life and of the constant divergence of a minority is altogether clarifying for the watcher from any vantage, but it is in his discussion of the labor unrest that the reader in Colorado discovers the prophecies he most needs. For illustration this:
The worker in a former generation took himself for granted; it is a new phase when the toilers begin to ask, not one man here and there, but in masses, in battalions, in trades: “Why, then, are we toilers, and for what is it that we toil?”
The ruling minority in Colorado has been confronted with this question during the coal strike. So far no response has been given save the impromptu utterances of a hideous rage and fright at the thought of awakening workers.
Wells answers his own questions. He replies as Colorado will sometime if Colorado is to persist. It is in this tone:
The supply of good-tempered, cheap labor—upon which the fabric of our contemporary ease and comfort is erected—is giving out. The spread of information and the means of presentation in every class and the increase of luxury and self-indulgence in the prosperous classes are the chief cause of that. In the place of the old convenient labor comes a new sort of labor, reluctant, resentful, critical, and suspicious. The replacement has already gone so far that I am certain that attempts to baffle and coerce the workers back to their old conditions must inevitably lead to a series of increasingly destructive outbreaks, to stresses and disorder culminating in revolution. It is useless to dream of going on now for much longer upon the old lines; our civilization, if it is not to enter upon a phase of conflict and decay, must begin to adapt itself to the new conditions, of which the first and foremost is that the wage earning laboring class, consenting to a distinctive treatment and accepting life at a disadvantage, is going to disappear.
That is the truth which men hate most to hear. It is the doctrine which “Mother” Jones preaches and for which she has been imprisoned regardless of laws and constitutions.
But this reasonableness of Wells appeals as little to the left wing of the socialists as it does to conservatives. The I. W. W.’s have no patience with the detailed delays suggested and Wells is as irritated with the losses in civilization to which a violent revolution is likely to lead. He sets forth his feeling in a discussion of the American population, a curious phrase, necessary on account of his distaste for the word people. In speaking of the possibility of a national revolutionary movement as an arrest for the aristocratic tendency now so pronounced he says:
The area of the country is too great and the means of communication between the workers in different parts inadequate for a concerted rising or even for effective political action in mass. In the worst event—and it is only in the worst event that a great insurrectionary movement becomes probable—the newspapers, magazines, telephones, and telegraphs, all the apparatus of discussion and popular appeal, the railways, arsenals, guns, flying machines, and all the materials of warfare, will be in the hands of the property owners, and the average of betrayal among the leaders of a class, not racially homogeneous, embittered, suspicious, united only by their discomforts and not by any constructive intentions, will necessarily be high.
It is true almost. There are always enough of the Gracchi family present to supply the minimum number of weapons essential. To the truth of this the revolutionary movement in Mexico is a witness and Colorado itself could tell tales.
Social Forces, a too collegiate title, sums up satisfactorily Wells’s important opinions. The book isn’t really a whole: some of the essays are journalistic and some are old. It lacks nearly everywhere the fierceness of The Passionate Friends. In this book Wells is in his dinner coat, comfortable and well fed. He is respectable—horrible admission—but he is still prophetic.
In a sense, too, Social Forces is a warehouse. There one may find stored the rough materials which on occasion are hammered into the poignancies of Marriage or Tono-Bungay. As a vista into a masterhand’s workshop the book has its intense psychological interest, but most of all it is text for salvation of the world.
William L. Chenery.
A Novelist’s Review of a Novel
Vandover and the Brute, by Frank Norris. [Doubleday, Page and Company, New York.]
“I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn’t like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the truth; I knew it for the truth then, and I know it for the truth now.”—Frank Norris.
It would seem inevitable that had Frank Norris lived he would have rewritten Vandover and the Brute. In the book, as it was rescued from the packing box that had been through the San Francisco fire and sent to the publisher, there is much that would have been discarded by the later Norris. Perhaps he would have thrown it all away and written a new story with the same theme. He was a big man and he had the courage of bigness. He could throw fairly good work into the waste-paper basket. The decay of man in modern society, the slow growth in him of the brute that goes upon all fours—what a big, terrible theme! What a book the later Norris would have made of it!
In the introduction by Charles G. Norris quotation is made from the Frank Norris essay, The True Reward of the Novelist, in which this sentence stands out: “To make money is not the province of the novelist.” Also it is suggested that the book was written under the influence of Zola, and there is more than a hint of Zola’s formula that everything in life is material for literature in the way the job is done.
As it stands, Vandover wants cutting—cutting and something else. With that said and understood, we are glad that the book has been rescued and that it can stand upon our book shelves. American letters cannot know and understand too much of the spirit of Frank Norris, and just at this time when there is much talk of the new note and some little sincere effort toward a return to truth and honesty in the craft of writing, it is good to have this visit from the boy Norris. He was a brave lad, an American writing man who lived, worked, and died without once putting his foot upon the pasteboard road that leads to easy money. “The easy money is not for us,” he said and had the manhood to write and live with that warning in his mind. He had craft-love. With a few more writers working in his spirit we should hear less of the new note. Norris was the new note. He was of the undying brotherhood.
When Frank Norris wrote Vandover he was not the great artist he became, but he was the great man; and that’s why this book of his is worth publishing and reading. The greater writer would have possessed a faculty the boy who wrote this book had not acquired—the faculty of selection. He would have been less intent upon telling truly unimportant details and by elimination would have gained dramatic strength.
Read Vandover therefore not as an example of the work of Norris the artist but as the work of a true man. It will inspire you. Its very rawness will show you the artist in the making. It will make you understand why Frank Norris with Mark Twain will perhaps, among all American writers, reach the goal of immortality.
The Immigrant’s Pursuit of Happiness
They Who Knock at Our Gates, by Mary Antin. [Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.]
Shaking the Declaration of Independence in the face of all those opposed to immigration in any form Mary Antin makes an impassioned appeal for practically unrestricted immigration. Her motive is no doubt praiseworthy, her enthusiasm and eloquence are admirable. She contrasts the nature of our present-day immigrants with those who landed in the Mayflower. The self-satisfied middle class attitude peeps through the question: “Is immigration good for us?”
And of course it is good. The immigrants do more than three-quarters of our bituminous coal mining. They make seven-tenths of our steel. They do four-fifths of our woolen, nine-tenths of our cotton-mill work, nearly all our clothing, nearly all our sugar, eighty-five per cent of all labor in the stock-yards. You cannot but come to the same conclusions as Mary Antin: “Open wide our gates and set him on his way to happiness.”
On his way to happiness? One thinks of Lawrence, Massachusetts, where immigrants are not exactly happy; or Paterson, New Jersey; or an incident of this kind from Marysville, California, related by Inez Haynes Gillmore in Harper’s Weekly for April 4: “An English lad, the possessor of a beautiful tenor voice, song leader of the hop pickers, was walking along carrying a bucket of water. A deputy sheriff shot him down.” One thinks of the Michigan copper mines. Alexander Irvine told us something about peonage in the South in his “Magyar.” The New York East Side with its 364,367 dark rooms and its “lung block with nearly four thousand people, some four hundred of whom are babies. In the past nine years alone this block has reported two hundred and sixty-five cases of tuberculosis.” In Pittsburgh alone, according to The Literary Digest of January 16, 1909, five hundred laborers are killed and an unknown number injured every year in the steel industry. According to Dr. Peter Roberts about eighty per cent of those suffering from rickets in Chicago are Italians, Greeks, and Syrians. This disease is almost unknown in the southern countries. The following is taken from an article by Henry A. Atkinson in Harper’s Weekly:
The policy of the companies has been to exclude the more intelligent, capable English-speaking laborers by importing large numbers from southern Europe: Greeks, Slavonians, Bulgarians, Magyars, Montenegrins, Albanians, Turks as well as representatives from all of the Balkan states. The Labor Bureau charges the large corporations of the state with hiring these men—“because they can be handled and abused with impunity.”… Louis Tikas is dead. His body riddled with fifty-one shots from rapid fire guns, lay uncared for twenty-four hours at Ludlow where he had been for seven months the respected chief of his Greek countrymen. He was shot while attempting to lead the women and children to a place of safety. At least six women and fifteen little children died with him.
“Open wide our gates and set him on his way to happiness” says Mary Antin.
Sixty thousand illiterate women were admitted in 1911 to this country. The president of The Woman’s National Industrial League says in this connection to the House Committee: “Syndicates exist in New York and Boston for the purpose of supplying fresh young girls from immigrants arriving in this country for houses of ill fame. Immigrants arriving in New York furnish twenty thousand victims annually.” Mr. Jacob Riis said very recently: “Scarce a Greek comes here, man or boy, who is not under contract. A hundred dollars a year is the price, so it is said by those who know, though the padrone’s cunning has put the legal proof beyond their reach.”
But these are statistics, and Mary Antin is horrified by statistics except when she can prove that “the average immigrant family of the new period is represented by an ascending curve. The descending curves are furnished by degenerate families of what was once prime American stock.” The “happiness” that those who knock at our gates run into once they land in our mines, factories, sweatshops, department stores, etc., might be traced further. The real question is this: Is immigration good for the immigrant? In view of the above facts there is but one answer so far as the illiterate and physically weak are concerned. Twisting of facts out of a desire to reach certain conclusions will only harm the immigrant and the inhabitants of this country.
Mary Antin would have been Mary Antin in Russia, Turkey, or Aphganistan. The weak and the illiterate are the ones who keep this question in the foreground. Probably the only exception is the Russian Jew. He has no country of his own and the New York East Side is a comparative improvement over the Czar’s empire.
 Fifth Report of Tenement House Department, 1909. Page 102.
 Ernest Poole:—A Handbook on the Prevention of Tuberculosis.
The Unique James Family
Notes of a Son and Brother, by Henry James. [Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.]
Whatever the deprecators of Henry James’s later manner may have to say about the difficulties of his involved style there are some situations, some plots, for which it is most happily suited. Was so haunting a ghost story ever written as that truly horrible one which involved two children—the name of which has unfortunately escaped me, for I should like to recommend it for nocturnal perusal. And in The Golden Bowl the gradual way you are led to perceive the wrong relationship between two of the characters, which, had it been offered bluntly, with no five degrees of approach and insinuation, would have lost half its mystery of guilt. As he himself says, in the Notes of a Son and Brother, “I like ambiguities, and detest great glares.”
Unfortunately, the style that is fitting to a slow unfolding of a psychological situation does not lend itself well to biography. The direct way is the only possible way there, if the reader is to keep an unflagging interest, and the direct way is simply not possible for Henry James. And one asks nothing more than to be told simply of the student days at Switzerland and Germany, and the life afterward at Newport, just as the Civil War was beginning or best of all throughout the story of a united family—the four boys, little sister, father, mother, and aunt, quite unlike, I imagine, any other family in the world. The quality of the genius of the brothers seems to have sprung from the association with a father as unlike as possible to the American father of today. He did not influence them, we are told, by any power of verbal persuasion to his own ideas. It was quite simply himself, his personality and character, the way he lived life, that took hold upon his sons’ imagination. Of course that is the only way anyone ever is influenced, but I think most parents do try the verbal persuasion as well. Henry James says of his father:
I am not sure, indeed, that the kind of personal history most appealing to my father would not have been some kind that should fairly proceed by mistakes, mistakes more human, more associational, less angular, less hard for others, that is less exemplary for them (since righteousness, as mostly understood, was in our parents’ view, I think, the cruellest thing in the world) than straight and smug and declared felicities. The qualification here, I allow, would be his scant measure of the difference, after all, for the life of the soul, between the marked achievement and the marked shortcoming. He had a manner of his own of appreciating failure or of not, at least, piously rejoicing in displayed moral, intellectual, or even material economies, which, had it not been that his humanity, his generosity, and, for the most part, his gaiety were always, at the worst, consistent, might sometimes have left us with our small saving, our little exhibitions and complacencies, rather on our hands.
Speaking of the “detached” feeling they had after returning from Europe to settle in Newport, he says:
I remember well how, when we were all young together, we had, under pressure of the American ideal in that matter, then so rigid, felt it tasteless and even humiliating that the head of our little family was not in business….
Such had never been the case with the father of any boy of our acquaintance; the business in which the boy’s father gloriously was stood forth inveterately as the very first note of our comrade’s impressiveness. We had no note of that sort to produce, and I perfectly recover the effect of my own repeated appeal to our parent for some presentable account of him that would prove us respectable. Business alone was respectable—if one meant by it, that is, the calling of a lawyer, a doctor, or a minister (we never spoke of clergymen) as well; I think if we had had the Pope among us we should have supposed the Pope in business, just as I remember my friend Simpson’s telling me crushingly, at one of our New York schools, on my hanging back with the fatal truth about our credentials, that the author of his being was in the business of stevedore. That struck me as a great card to play—the word was fine and mysterious; so that “What shall we tell them you are, don’t you see?” could but become on our lips at home a more constant appeal.
Very interesting are the occasional letters telling of Emerson and Carlyle. Especially so to me are the side lights on Carlyle, as chiming in somehow with the series of impressions I seem gradually to have accumulated about him as time goes on. Perhaps it really isn’t fair, as a large amount of those impressions I feel sure I owe to Froude, but I can’t help wondering what our times, with modern surgery and therapeutics, would have accomplished with Carlyle’s indigestion, and what resultant difference there would assuredly have been in his philosophy. To quote from a letter of the elder Henry James:
I took our friend M—— to see him [Carlyle], and he came away greatly distressed and désillusionné, Carlyle having taken the utmost pains to deny and descry and deride the idea of his having done the least good to anybody, and to profess, indeed, the utmost contempt for everybody who thought he had, and poor M—— being intent on giving him a plenary assurance of this fact in his own case.
And again in a letter to Emerson:
Carlyle nowadays is a palpable nuisance. If he holds to his present mouthing ways to the end he will find no showman là-bas to match him…. Carlyle’s intellectual pride is so stupid that one can hardly imagine anything able to cope with it.
An earlier letter has this delicious bit about Hawthorne:
Hawthorne isn’t to me a prepossessing figure, nor apparently at all an enjoying person…. But in spite of his rusticity I felt a sympathy for him fairly amounting to anguish, and couldn’t take my eyes off him all dinner, nor my rapt attention…. It was heavenly to see him persist in ignoring the spectral smiles—in eating his dinner and doing nothing but that, and then go home to his Concord den to fall upon his knees and ask his heavenly Father why it was that an owl couldn’t remain an owl and not be forced into the diversions of a canary!
And in the postscript of the same:
What a world, what a world! But once we get rid of Slavery the new heavens and the new earth will swim into reality.
Which shows how much in earnest the Abolitionists really were—it was a tenet of faith with them. Sad and strange and illuminating to us of a later generation, who are now struggling for other abolitions of slavery, and still hoping for a new world.
I wish I could quote from the delightful letters of William James, but they must be read entire, with the author’s comments, to place them correctly. Pending a biography of the man, these letters will be to many readers the most interesting feature of the book. One of the most magnificent things about the book, however,—if I may use a large word for a large concept—is the spirit running through it of filial and fraternal love, never expressed in so many words, but apparent throughout, which makes, as I said before, the James family unique in the history of American letters.
De Morgan’s Latest
When Ghost Meets Ghost, by William De Morgan. [Henry Holt and Company, New York.]
Whatever else I may say about De Morgan’s new book, I absolutely refuse to tell the number of its pages. Every other criticism begins or ends with this uninteresting fact, and usually adds that it makes no difference how long it is, since the writer’s charm pervades it all. But it does make a difference, and it is too trite to say we are so hurried and nervous and given over to frivolity nowadays that we are unable to read Dickens and Thackeray and Scott and De Morgan. There is a great deal more to read, and a great deal more to do and to think about, than ever there was in Thackeray’s day. And if we are going to spend our time reading countless pages (I very nearly told how many, after all!) we want to be sure it is more worth while than anything else we can be doing, or thinking, or reading.
However, one can’t say very well that he greatly admires a stork, or would if he had a short beak and short legs. De Morgan’s style is his own, and he will tell the story his own way, though we all have a quarrel with him for leaving the most interesting bits to a short “Pendrift” at the end. Did Given’s lover contemplate taking his East Indian poison when the newspapers announced that she was to marry an Austrian noble? Think of cutting that episode off in a few words, while an entire chapter is devoted to a “shortage of mud” for little Dave and Dolly, who were making a dyke in the street! But then, De Morgan doesn’t know how to stop when he begins to talk of children. How he loves them, and all other helpless creatures! He can’t speak even of kittens without a touch of tenderness:
Mrs. Lapping explained that she was using it (the basket) to convey a kitten, born in her establishment, to Miss Druitt at thirty-four opposite, who had expressed anxiety to possess it. It was this kitten’s expression of impatience with its position that had excited Mrs. Riley’s curiosity. “Why don’t ye carry the little sowl across in your hands, me dyurr?” she said, not unreasonably, for it was only a stone’s throw. Mrs. Topping added that this was no common kitten, but one of preternatural activities and possessed of diabolical, tentacular powers of entanglement. “I would not undertake,” said she, “to get it across the road, ma’am, only catching hold. Nor if I got it safe across, to onhook it, without tearing.” Mrs. Riley was obliged to admit the wisdom of the Janus basket. She knew how difficult it is to be even with a kitten.
It is bits like this that make Mr. De Morgan’s story so long, and it is bits like this that reconcile us to its length. I believe most readers won’t care greatly whether the two poor old sisters who have been separated so many years ever do meet again. There is no feeling of climax when they do—merely relief that the thing has finally been put across. It was beginning to look as if it never would happen; and though the reader himself, as I say, doesn’t greatly care, he can see that De Morgan does; he has apparently been doing his best to bring it about, but the cantankerous ones just wouldn’t let him.
On the other hand, who can help loving Given o’ the Towers—all sweetness, beauty, and light? Only—isn’t she really more of a twentieth-century heroine than a Victorian young lady, with her crisp decisiveness and air of being most ably able to look out for herself? Truly Victorian, however, are our “slow couple”—Miss Dickenson and Mr. Pellew. Miss Dickenson is thirty-six, and, by all Victorian standards, quite out of the running. De Morgan is extremely apologetic for allowing her to have a romance at this belated hour—her charms faded and gone. But we are betting quite heavily on Miss Dickenson’s chances for happiness with the Hon. Mr. Pellew. The two were “good gossips,” and would always have topics of interest in common.
The Pendrift at the end—quite the most fascinating part of the book—tells us of the daughter of this union Cicely, by this time sixteen years old.
“You know,” says the girl, Cis,—who is new and naturally knows things, and can tell her parents,—“you know there is never the slightest reason for apprehension as long as there is no delusion. Even then we have to discriminate carefully between fixed and permanent delusions and——”
“Shut up, Mouse!” says her father. “What’s that striking?”…
The young lady says, “Well, I got it all out of a book.”
One good reason for reading De Morgan is the fact that he is older than the majority of his readers. We read so much, we hear so much acclaimed that is written by children of twenty, whose experience of life must necessarily be got, like Cicely’s, “out of a book.” The saying of De Maupassant surely applies here—that the writer must sit down before an object until he has seen it in the way that he alone can see it. De Morgan has had the opportunity of seeing life, surely, and knowing what most of it amounts to. The result is a large tolerance and tenderness toward his fellow men.
M. H. P.
The Economics of Social Insurance
Social Insurance: With Special Reference to American Conditions, by I. M. Rubinow. [Henry Holt and Company, New York.]
The logic of events is rapidly forcing nation after nation into what has hitherto been damned with the epithet paternalism. America, perhaps, is the last important country in the world to face the problems raised by the march of events in this direction. Social insurance, a thing accomplished and a commonplace of government functioning in so many countries, recently adopted in England, is, in this country, still a novelty outside the university class room and the lecture halls of fanatical demagogues who wish to upset the foundations of our civil government and civilization—as the elder politicians express it when their attention is drawn to these sinister activities of thought.
The author of this book in fact was the first academic lecturer on the subject to give a university course in the various forms which social insurance has taken. These lectures he delivered before the New York School of Philanthropy, and they are reprinted here in an extended form.
After giving the philosophy of the matter, the underlying social necessity for insurance, the author takes up the various forms of the activity. Accident, disease, old age, and unemployment must all be provided against, and the state, the employer, and the laborer may share the burden among them, or the two latter may be relieved—as in various types of non-contributory insurance.
Of course the old school economist will ask why the latter two are not relieved, and why the employe or private citizen is not just encouraged to insure with a private corporation. The author’s answer is that, even if he were educated to the point of desiring to do that, he could not. A man insures his house because the feeling of security is worth the small premium he pays, even if that premium is larger than the actual risk involved would warrant—larger by a sum equal to the cost and profits of the business of the insurance company. But the poor man’s chances of loss of employment, accident, or sickness are so much greater in proportion to the capitalized value of his job that he could never afford to pay the premium necessary for a private company to take care of him; while his old age could not be insured without taking all of his earnings—and even then he might die before he reached it.
The situation then is that an admitted necessity cannot be obtained unless the state as a whole takes steps to attain it for all the members of the state. How other states have done this, how type after type of insurance has been evolved, and how these types may be adapted to American practice is the burden of the present work.
The author writes in a clear and non-technical manner, and makes no extravagant claims for what some people may regard as a social panacea; but he is confident that the full development of the idea of social insurance will relieve the worst aspects of poverty—the aspects in which poverty is not only a hardship, but a haunting spirit, sapping the vitality of its victims until they are rendered socially useless.
Prose Poems of Ireland
Red Hanrahan, by William Butler Yeats. New edition. [The Macmillan Company, New York.]
If you believe, with Chesterton, that “should the snap dragon open its little pollened mouth and sing ’twould be no more wonderful a thing” than that a solemn little blue egg should turn into a big happy red-breasted bird; if you are of “the young men that dream dreams” or of “the old men who have visions” the songs and the tales and the wanderings and the mysteries of “Red” Owen Hanrahan will thrill you with a sense of your real nearness to “something lovelier than Heaven.”
Such a group of tales of the people and by the people as Mr. Yeats has gathered together in Red Hanrahan can be nothing if not a personal matter. Frankly, I never saw a fairy, or a gnome, or a hobgoblin. I have never even had a vision worth writing a book about; but I am young yet, and if the gods continue to be kind…. In the meanwhile I shall grasp the first opportunity to read Red Hanrahan in a deep woods, at dusk—regardless of the optician’s orders.
H. B. S.
To William Butler Yeats
Marguerite O. B. Wilkinson
As one, who, wandering down a squalid street,
Where dingy buildings crowd each other high,
Where all who pass have need to hurry by,
Saddened and parched and fighting through the heat,
Comes suddenly where pain and beauty meet,
And sees a stretch of fair, unsullied sky,
Covering a field of clover bloom, so I,
With heart prepared to find the contrast sweet
In seeking through a world of sordid prose,
Where use-stained words with huddled shoulders stand
In sullen, monumental, loveless rows,
Have found a sudden green and sunny land
Where you, O Poet, give us back lost wonder,
Leisure, sweet fields, clean skies to travel under!
[Inclusion in this category does not preclude a more extended notice.]
The Titan, by Theodore Dreiser [John Lane Company, New York], will be reviewed at length in the July issue.
Clay and Fire, by Layton Crippen. [Henry Holt and Company, New York.] A provocative philosophical discussion of the basal problem of religion by an author who treats pessimism according to the homeopathic principle. Reasonable hopes are made to seem hopeless. A morbid retrospectiveness may, however, force thought into light, and the book leaves one in a strange illumination effected by spiritual fire.
At the Sign of the Van, by Michael Monahan. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.] These essays include The Log of the Papyrus with Other Escapades in Life and Letters. Whether he is praising Percival Pollard, explaining Whitman’s cosmic consciousness—which he did to a Whitman Fellowship gathering—or wistfully telling us how he would like to have had a look in on the doings in Babylon, the amorous dallyings which Jeremiah muckraked in the name of his Comstockean Jehovah, Michael Monahan is always interesting even if he is not always as stormy as his designation “the stormy petrel of literature” would indicate. In truth it would take a number of birds of different species—but all pleasant ones—to make up the tale of the qualities which this versatile essayist exhibits in these pages.
Aphrodite and Other Poems, by John Helston. [The Macmillan Company, New York.] Mr. Helston does not write great poetry,—though he comes close to very good poetry at times,—but he writes greatly about love. His attitude is a refusal to divorce the spiritual from the earthly with which we have a hearty sympathy. No franker love poetry has been written, probably; but somehow we failed to find in it the sensuality that its critics have discovered. It is richly pagan.
Love of One’s Neighbor, by Leonid Andreyev. [Albert and Charles Boni, New York.] A very excellent translation of a one-act play which will probably sell well, though coming from the author of The Seven Who Were Hanged it seems a mere trifle. The translator, Thomas Seltzer, should be urged to undertake the more worthy task of introducing Andreyev’s really great work to English-speaking readers.
New Men for Old, by Howard Vincent O’Brien. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.] The first novel of a new young writer, especially when he is as sincere as Mr. O’Brien and as deeply interested in the joy of Work, is a matter of importance. The book has its obvious faults technically, even psychologically, but it preaches socialism from an interesting standpoint and makes good reading.
Challenge, by Louise Untermeyer. [The Century Co., New York.] Virile and ambitious songs of the present. Caliban in the Coal Mines, Any City, Strikers, In the Subway, The Heretic, show that the poet is not a shrinker from modern life. The title poem sounds the keynote:
The quiet and courageous night,
The keen vibration of the stars
Call me, from morbid peace, to fight
The world’s forlorn and desperate wars.
John Ward, M.D., by Charles Vale. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.] Seneschal sentimentality with a “modern” plot woven about the questionable science of eugenics. One of those irritating books in which one reads page after page after page in the vain endeavor to find out why Mitchell Kennerly spent his money on it.
Forum Stories, selected by Charles Vale. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.] All these stories have appeared in The Forum since it came under Mr. Kennerley’s management, and they are all by American writers. They represent the work not only of such well known writers as Reginald Wright Kauffman, James Hopper, Margaret Widdemer, and John S. Reed—who has a tense little narrative of the struggle toward land of two swimmers wrecked in the Pacific Ocean—but the work of several lesser known but promising authors. Among them is Miss Florence Kiper, of Chicago, who writes under the title I Have Borne My Lord a Son a most penetrating study of the psychology of motherhood.
Papa, by Zoë Akins. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.] A little play which shows so much determination to be clever and very, very naughty that it’s almost a pity it doesn’t succeed.
Saint Louis: a Civic Masque, by Percy MacKaye. [Doubleday, Page and Company, New York.] A valuable contribution to the dramatic “spirit” of awakening civic intelligence.
Great Days, by Frank Harris. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.] Audacious, vivid, gripping sex experiences of the son of an immoral English innkeeper. The big rough brother of Three Weeks.
Poems, by Walter Conrad Amberg. [Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.] Poems written with a sure and gentle delicacy that seems forgotten by this generation of rude iconoclasts.
The True Adventures of a Play, by Louis Evan Shipman. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.] The play is D’Arcy of the Guards and its author tells in full the trials and tribulations—and the eventual triumph—which met him from the moment when he offered to submit the manuscript to E. H. Sothern, and that star told him to send it along. Not only are the details of acceptances of plays, the incidental negotiations and red tape described, but the making of costume plates, the designing of the whole presentation, and the collaboration between author, producer, and actors are told with such humor and documentary fidelity to the actual transactions that the book will not only be interesting to the general reader but indispensable to the tyro playwright.
Nova Hibernia, by Michael Monahan. [Mitchell Kennerley, New York.] Competent, incisive studies, sketches, and lectures dealing with “Irish poets and dramatists of today and yesterday”—Yeats, Synge, Thomas Moore, Mangan, Gerald Griffin, Callahan, Doctor Maginn, Father Prout, Sheridan, and others.
The Pipes of Clovis, by Grace Duffie Boylan. [Little, Brown, and Company, Boston.] A forester’s son proficient on a magic pipe; a blue and silver-gowned princess; the invasion of Swabia by the Huns away back in the twelfth century, all woven into a romance for children and grown-ups who still love the fairies.
The Post Office, by Rabindranath Tagore. [The Macmillan Company, New York.] A touching little idyll of a sick child who longs for a letter from the king through the post office which he can see across the road. And his dream comes true. Written in rhythmic prose.
Sanctuary, by Percy MacKaye. [Frederick A. Stokes, New York.] A bird masque performed in September, 1913, for the dedication of the bird sanctuary of the Meriden Bird Club at Meriden, N. H. A defense of birds and a defense of poetry. The theme is the conversion of a bird slaughterer. The verse is full of “birdblithesomeness.”
Old World Memories, by Edward Lowe Temple. [The Page Company, Boston.] The story of a summer vacation in Europe as naïve, as full of human interest, disjoined history, and worthy indefinite advice as the after dinner “post card tour” of a just-returned Cook’s traveler.
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Life Histories of African Game Animals
By Theodore Roosevelt and Edmund Heller. With illustrations from photographs and drawings by Philip R. Goodwin, and with forty faunal maps. 2 vols.
$10.00 net; postage extra.
The general plan of each chapter is first to give an account of the Family, then the name by which each animal is known—English, scientific and native; then the geographical range, the history of the species, the narrative life-history, the distinguishing characters of the species, the coloration, the measurements of specimens, and the localities from which specimens have been examined, accompanied with a faunal map.
North Africa and the Desert
By George E. Woodberry.
$2.00 net; postage extra.
This is one of that very small group of books in which a man of genuine poetic vision has permanently registered the color and spirit of a region and a race. It is as full of atmosphere and sympathetic interpretation as any that have been written. Chapters like that on “Figuig,” “Tougourt,” “Tripoli,” and “On the Mat”—a thoughtful study of Islam—have a rare beauty and value.
Ten Thousand Miles with a Dog Sled
By Hudson Stuck, D.D., author of “The Ascent of Denali.”
With 48 illustrations, 4 in color. $1.50 net; postage extra.
If you wish to see the vast snow-fields, frozen rivers, and rugged, barren mountains of the Yukon country but cannot visit them, you will do the next best thing by reading this often beautiful account of a missionary’s ten thousand miles of travel in following his hard and dangerous work. It is the story of a brave life amid harsh, grand, and sometimes awful surroundings.
Memories of Two Wars
By Brigadier General Frederick W. Funston
A New Edition, Half the Former Price
Illustrated, $1.50 Net.
“A racy account of the author’s experiences as a volunteer in the last Cuban struggle for independence, and later, in the war with Spain and its ensuing Filipino insurrection.”—The Nation.
“A real contribution to history. A vivacious, vigorous, intimate account, entertaining, instructive, and impressive; a true soldier’s story.”—The Outlook.
The United States and Peace
BY EX-PRESIDENT TAFT
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In this important book the former president of the United States, combining both the view-point of one who has had a large and full experience as a jurist and as chief executive, discusses such topics as “The Monroe Doctrine, Its Limitations and Implications,” “Shall the Federal Government Protect Aliens in Their Treaty Rights?” “Has the Federal Government Power to Enter into General Arbitration Treaties?” and “The Federal Trend in International Affairs.”
THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE IN ITS RELATION TO THE EASTERN
By John Bigelow, Major U. S. Army, retired. Author of “Mars-La-Tour and Gravelotte,” “The Principles of Strategy,” and “Reminiscences of the Santiago Campaigning,” “The Campaign of Chancellorsville.” With map.
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An able and illuminating presentation of the development and history of American policy in its relation to European nations.
The American Japanese Problem
By Sidney L. Gulick. Illustrated.
$1.75 net; postage extra.
The writer believes that “The Yellow Peril may be transformed into golden advantage for us, even as the White Peril in the Orient is bringing unexpected benefits to those lands.” The statement of this idea forms a part of a comprehensive and authoritative discussion of the entire subject as set forth in the title. The author has had a life of intimacy with both nations, and is trusted and consulted by the governments of each.
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De Morgan Again and at His Best
When Ghost Meets Ghost
Third Large Printing
860 pages. $1.60 net.
“He has returned to the style with which he surprised and captivated the public. Another book like ‘JOSEPH VANCE’ and ‘ALICE.’”—New York Sun.
“Thoroughly enjoyable…. The companionship of Mr. De Morgan, as he speaks from every page of his novel, is a joy in itself.”—Boston Transcript.
“All the essentials that make up an admirable and typical De Morgan novel are here.”—The Outlook.
“A big, sane, eminently human story such as Mr. De Morgan has not equalled since ‘Joseph Vance.’”—The Bookman.
Non-Fiction Just Ready
CONINGSBY DAWSON’S FLORENCE ON A CERTAIN NIGHT AND OTHER POEMS
A notable edition to later-day verse by the author of “The Garden Without Walls.”
BARRETT H. CLARK’S THE CONTINENTAL DRAMA OF TODAY
Outline suggestions of half-a-dozen pages or less for each play, for the study of the greatest plays of the European dramatists today.
WILLIAM BOYD’S FROM LOCKE TO MONTESSORI
A critical and historical study of Dr. Montessori’s method by an educational authority.
SISTER NIVEDITA’S and DR. COOMARASWAMY’S MYTHS OF THE BUDDHISTS and HINDUS
With 32 illustrations in Four Colors by Nanda Lal Bose, A. N. Tagore, K. Venkatappa, and other Indian artists under the direction of Abanindro Nath Tagore.
“No better volume exists for anyone who wishes an introduction to the study of Oriental literature. In stately and excellent English we find summaries of practically all the important religious documents of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The pictures are equal to the very best examples of ancient Indian art.”—The English Review.
L. MARSH-PHILLIPS ART AND ENVIRONMENT
New, thoroughly revised and profusely illustrated edition.
A. L. RIDGER’S SIX YEARS A WANDERER
Illustrated with photographs.
The author, a young man, tells what he saw of the world from 1907-’12 traveling on his own hook over most of the civilized world outside of Europe.
N. JARINTZOFF’S RUSSIA: THE COUNTRY OF EXTREMES
With 16 full-page illustrations.
Adopting a critical attitude towards several recent works on Russia by English travellers, Madame Jarintzoff, a Russian who has resided for some years in England, supplies from first-hand knowledge accounts of various political and social crises, and gives a picture of life in Russia today.
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NEW BOOKS OF IMPORTANCE
LETTERS FROM A LIVING DEAD MAN. Written down by Elsa Barker.
If you are at all interested in the problem of a Future Life, you cannot afford to overlook this book. These letters, dictated to Mrs. Barker by the spirit of a departed friend, are undoubtedly the most remarkable contribution to “psychic” literature of recent years. The volume, with its tone of optimism, its minute, intimate account of life beyond the grave, is certain to be widely discussed, and those who do not read it place themselves at a certain disadvantage. Elsa Barker has given her absolute assurance that the book is in no way “faked.”
SONGS OF THE DEAD END. By Patrick MacGill, author of “Songs of a Navvy,” etc.
The majority of these “songs” deal with the lives of the working man, the day laborer who builds our houses and our railroads, works in the mine and the ditch. The author has lived this life and writes of it with power and feeling. He has grasped the wider meaning of it all, made plain the essential nobility of labor, the heroism and idealism of many of these men. In short, he has done in verse for the working man what Constant Meunier did in bronze.
JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS. By Van Wick Brooks, author of “The Wine of the Puritans.” Frontispiece.
One of the more important biographies of the year, and yet it is more than a mere biography, for Mr. Brooks attempts to place Symonds in relation to the literary world of his own day and of the present. He builds up a clear picture of Symonds’ life, from early days to the end. His book is uncrowded but not deficient, clear and unsluggish but not too rapid. In short, it is itself literature.
THE MYSTERY OF PAIN. By James Hinton, author of “Life in Nature,” “The Place of the Physician,” etc., etc.
This little book is a classic. It deals with pain in its necessary, beneficial aspect. Hinton addressed it to the sorrowful, to whom it assuredly brings comfort, but it will prove interesting and helpful to all thinking men and women. It shows how pain, if it could be recognized as development, and in a sense as joy, would be as much welcomed as pleasure is now. We are afraid of both, instead of recognizing them as two parts of the development of the soul; neither is good alone, but as a completion the one of the other.
THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF A PLAY. By Louis Shipman. Illustrated in colors and in black and white.
Perhaps you remember Henry Miller in “D’Arcy of the Guards.” Its author, Louis Shipman, has written this unique book about “D’Arcy,” in which he tells exactly what happened to the play from the very first moment the manuscript left his hands. Letters, contracts, telegrams, etc., are all given in full, and there are many interesting illustrations, both in color and in black and white. “The True Adventures of a Play” will prove of almost inestimable value to all those who practise or hope to practise the art of playwriting; and it abounds, furthermore, in bits of fine criticism of the contemporary theatre.
NOVA HIBERNIA. By Michael Monahan, author of “Adventures in Life and Letters.”
A book of delightful and informing essays about Irishmen and letters by an Irishman. Some of the chapters are “Yeats and Synge,” “Thomas Moore,” “Sheridan,” “Irish Balladry,” etc., etc.
AT THE SIGN OF THE VAN. By Michael Monahan, author of “Adventures in Life and Letters,” etc.
Michael Monohan, founder of that fascinating little magazine, “The Papyrus,” is one of the most brilliant of present-day American critics. He has abundant sympathy, insight, critical acumen, and, above all, real flavor. His essays are all his own. And into this Volume he has put much of his own life story. Then there is a remarkable chapter on “Sex in the Playhouse,” besides papers on Roosevelt, O. Henry, Carlyle, Renan, Tolstoy, and Arthur Brisbane, to mention but a few. “At the Sign of the Van” is really a second, larger, and even finer book than “Adventures in Life and Letters.”
For Sale at all Book Shops or from the Publisher
MITCHELL KENNERLEY, Publisher
32 West Fifty-Eighth Street, New York
FOR SUMMER READING
NEW MEN FOR OLD. By Howard Vincent O’Brien.
One of the finest first novels of many seasons. A book too that for verity, passion and sincerity can bear comparison with the best that America has produced.
But make no mistake—this is a good story as well. A young fellow, son of a wealthy Chicagoan, passes his time in Paris in luxurious idleness. He is called home at his father’s death. Instead of receiving a fortune he finds himself penniless.
That’s the situation that faces Harlan Chandos at the opening of “New Men for Old,” the book tells the rest of the story.
GREAT DAYS. By Frank Harris, author of “The Man Shakespeare,” “The Bomb,” etc.
There is nothing of the problem-novel about this newest book by Frank Harris. It is just a red-blooded gripping yarn. And when it comes to holding your interest in the tale he tells, it is doubtful if any living writer has Mr. Harris’ mastery. “Great Days” is set in the time of Napoleon—there are smugglers and privateers and fighting and—by no means least—love. Bonaparte is etched strikingly and vividly, and so is Charles Fox. Emphatically a book for the Spring and Summer months.
WHEN LOVE FLIES OUT O’ THE WINDOW. By Leonard Merrick.
This, the latest of Leonard Merrick’s novels to be published in America, is a brilliant story of theatrical life. The scene shifts rapidly from London to Paris, back again to London and finally to New York. It’s a very human tale and Meenie Weston and Ralph Lingham with their ups and downs, their miseries and their joys (but chiefly joys) will give every reader many hours of pleasant entertainment.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. By William Samuel Johnson, author of “Glamourie.” 12mo.
The scene of this novel is laid in Paris, and the characters are for the most part students living the care-free life of the Quartier Latin. There is an unusual but very lovable heroine in Pruina, a dainty creature who will win friends wherever she goes. “Nothing Else Matters” is in itself an interesting story, but it may furthermore serve as a pleasant introduction to some of the most delightful aspects of life in the French capital.
JOHN PULITZER: Reminiscences of a Secretary. By Alleyne Ireland. With eight illustrations.
This will prove a peculiarly attractive book to the average man and woman. Mr. Ireland, who is a well-known member of the staff of The New York World, was one of the half dozen private secretaries who were constantly with Pulitzer, or “J. P.,” as they called him. In this book you see the very man, you learn how he lived, what he read, and you get an idea of the vigor and power that made The World the great paper it is.
No ordinary biography this—but a tale that for sheer interest in its telling leaves most fiction far behind. It is dedicated (by permission) to Joseph Pulitzer’s widow.
FORUM STORIES. Selected by Charles Vale, author of “John Ward, M. D.”
Sixteen of the best stories that America can produce today. Each by a different author. Among those represented are John Reed, James Hopper, Reginald Wright Kauffman and Edwin Björkman.
At all Book Stores or from the Publisher
MITCHELL KENNERLEY, Publisher
32 West Fifty-Eighth Street, New York
The Mosher Books
Billy: The True Story of a Canary Bird
By Maud Thornhill Porter
950 copies, Fcap 8vo. $1.00 net
This pathetic little story was first issued by Mr. Mosher in a privately printed edition of 500 copies and was practically sold out before January 1, 1913. The late Dr. Weir Mitchell in a letter to the owner of the copyright said among other things: “Certainly no more beautiful piece of English has been printed of late years.” And again: “May I ask if this lady did not leave other literary products? The one you print is so unusual in style and quality and imagination that after I read it I felt convinced there must be other matter of like character.”
Billy and Hans: My Squirrel Friends. A True History
By W. J. Stillman
950 copies, Fcap 8vo. 75 cents net
Reprinted from the revised London edition of 1907 by kind permission of Mrs. W. J. Stillman.
Books and the Quiet Life: Being Some Pages from The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft
By George Gissing
950 copies, Fcap 8vo, 75 cents net
To the lover of what may be called spiritual autobiography, perhaps no other book in recent English literature appeals with so potent a charm as “The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft.” It is the highest expression of Gissing’s genius—a book that deserves a place on the same shelf with the Journals of De Guérin and Amiel. For the present publication, the numerous passages of the “Papers” relating to books and reading have been brought together and given an external setting appropriate to their exquisite literary flavor.
Mr. Mosher also begs to state that the following new editions are now ready:
Under a Fool’s Cap: Songs
By Daniel Henry Holmes
900 copies, Fcap 8vo, old-rose boards. $1.25 net
For an Appreciation of this book read Mr. Larned’s article in the February Century.
Amphora: A Collection of Prose and Verse chosen by the Editor of The Bibelot
925 copies, Fcap 8vo, old-style ribbed boards. $1.75 net
The Forum for January, in an Appreciation by Mr. Richard Le Gallienne, pays tribute to this book in a most convincing manner.
All books sent postpaid on receipt of price net.
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A QUARTERLY DEVOTED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A WIDE AND INTELLIGENT INTEREST IN DRAMA
Each issue of The Drama contains a translation of a complete play. These plays, which are not otherwise accessible in English, represent especially the leading dramatists of the continent. Chosen as they are from various countries and from many schools, they give one an introduction to the most significant features of modern dramatic art. Plays by Giacosa, Donnay, Gillette, Tagore and Andreyev have appeared recently. Forthcoming numbers will bring out the work of Goldoni and Curel.
In addition to the play and a discussion of the work of its author, articles on all phases of drama keep the reader well informed. Modern stagecraft, new types of theater building, organizations for drama reform, “little theater” movements, pageantry, the history of the drama, and all pertinent subjects receive attention. Significant books on dramaturgy and other drama publications of especial value are regularly and sincerely reviewed. From time to time the developments of the year in foreign art centers are considered. In no way other than through The Drama can one so conveniently and attractively continue his drama education and recreation.
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Prominent among numbers for the year 1914 are Des Imagistes, an anthology of the Imagists’ movement in England, including Pound, Hueffer, Aldington, Flint and others; essays by Ellen Key; a play by Frank Wedekind; collects and prose pieces by Horace Traubel; and The Doina, translations by Maurice Aisen of Roumanian folksongs. The main purpose of the GLEBE is to bring to light the really fine work of unknown men. These will appear throughout the year.
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$1.00 net. Postpaid $1.10.
An anthology of the youngest and most discussed school of English poetry. Including selections by Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Hueffer, Amy Lowell, Richard Aldington, Allen Upward, and others.
“The Imagists are keenly sensitive to the more picturesque aspects of Nature.”—The Literary Digest.
“… contains an infinite amount of pure beauty.”—The Outlook (London).
“These young experimentalists are widening the liberties of English poetry.”—The Post (London).
“It sticks out of the crowd like a tall marble monument.”—The New Weekly.
By Jose Echegaray
Crash Cloth 75c net; 85c postpaid.
Winner of the Nobel Prize, 1904.
A drama in three acts and an epilogue. The master piece of modern Spain’s greatest writer.
Love of One’s Neighbor
By Leonid Andreyev
Boards 40c postpaid.
Author of “The Seven Who Were Hanged.”
(Authorized translation by Thomas Seltzer.)
A play in one act, replete with subtle and clever satire.
The Thresher’s Wife
By Harry Kemp
Boards 40c postpaid.
A narrative poem of great strength and individuality. Undoubtedly his greatest poem. Full of intense dramatic interest.
By Horace Traubel
Boards $1.00 net; $1.10 postpaid.
Inspirational prose pieces fired by revolutionary idealism and prophetically subtle in their vision. The high esteem in which Traubel’s work is held is attested by the following unusual commendations:
Jack London: “His is the vision of the poet and the voice of the poet.”
Clarence Darrow: “Horace Traubel is both a poet and a philosopher. No one can say anything too good about him or his work.”
George D. Herron: “It is a book of the highest value and beauty that Horace Traubel proposes to give us, and I can only hope that it will be read as widely and appreciatively as it more than deserves to be; for it is with a joy that would seem extravagant, if I expressed it, that I welcome ‘Chants Communal.’”
A Defence of the Bottom Dog
By Robert Blatchford
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A humanitarian plea, unequalled in lucidity and incontrovertible in its logic.
Our Irrational Distribution of Wealth
By Byron C. Mathews
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The author undertakes to show that the agencies which are used in distributing the products of industry and are responsible for the extremes in the social scale have never been adopted by any rational action, but have come to be through fortuitous circumstances and are without moral basis. The wage system, as a means of distribution, is utterly inadequate to measure the workers’ share. The source of permanent improvement is found in social ownership, which transfers the power over distribution from the hands of those individuals who now own the instruments of production to the hands of the people.
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VOL. IV · Price 15 cents · NO. III
On Heaven Ford Madox Hueffer
Iron Carl Sandburg
The Falconer of God William Rose Benét
Poems Grace Hazard Conkling
To the Mexican Nightingale—Ave Venezia—“I will not give thee all my heart”—The Little Town.
Poems Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
The Tram—On Hampstead Heath—A Catch for Singing.
“Too Far From Paris”—Mr. Hueffer and the Prose Tradition in Verse—Notes.
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During the musical season just closing, the Mason & Hamlin has been heard more frequently in concerts and public recitals of note than all other pianos. ¶ To scan but hurriedly a partial list, is to be reminded of the greatest musical events of the past season.
Flonzaley Quartet Concerts of the Apollo Musical Club
Sinai Temple Orchestra
Sunday Evening Club
Mme. Clara Butt and Kennerley Rumford
Charles W. Clark
Albert E. Fox Heinrich Gebhard
Glenn Dillard Gunn
Marie White Longman
Ethel L. Marley
Edgar A. Nelson
Marx E. Oberndorfer
Agnes Hope Pillsbury
Edna Gunnar Peterson Mabel Riegelman
Mrs. B. L. Taylor
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The $10,000.00 Prize Novel
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Miss Dalrymple has written a book that is extraordinary and of great proportions…. It is a big book…. A stirring, entertaining and consistently interesting romance.
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Nancy the Joyous.
A Novel of Pure Delight
By Edith Stow
We have never offered a book to the public in which we had more confidence of popular favor than we have for Nancy the Joyous. It is simply bound to make friends.
A story of the Tennessee Mountains, where the sweet-scented, colorful woodland flowers abound, and where whimsical, adorable and humorous Nancy, ’midst the sunshine of gladness and delight, gains the love of the simple mountaineers and learns the joy of living and doing for others.
Standard Novel Size. Beautiful cover and wrapper. Frontispiece in color; decorative chapter headings.
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The New Mr. Howerson
An Interest-Compelling Novel
By Opie Read
It is over five years since the publication of a book by Opie Read. He has worked for four years on The New Mr. Howerson, putting into it his ripened views and the fulness of his art. It was twice written with a pen, then turned into a play, before being given its final revision. It is a masterful piece of work.
A powerful story with a big theme, enlivened with the quaint humor and philosophy that has made Opie Read famous.
Standard Novel Size. 460 pages. Handsome binding and striking red wrapper.
A Human Interest Edition of a Unique Book. The Publisher’s Story Edition of
Miss Minerva and William Green Hill
By Frances Boyd Calhoun
One of the most delightful books ever published. First issued in February, 1909, over 150,000 copies have been sold. Now on press for the seventeenth time.
Each copy of the new edition will be handsomely boxed and contain an attractive brochure carrying a portrait of Mrs. Calhoun, her biography, and the “Publishers’ Story.” Price $1.00.
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Robert Herrick’s New Novel
“In this virile book, Mr. Herrick studies the part played by ‘unearned increment’ in the life of a girl. A notable contribution to American realistic fiction.”
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“To define him is, in a way, to define the American people itself. For among writers of recent times, living or dead, there is hardly any one who, in my opinion, has come nearer deserving the epithet ‘national.’”—Edwin Bjorkman.
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LETTERS OF A WOMAN HOMESTEADER
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These letters, regarded by the New York Evening Post as “the literary discovery of the year,” tell a connected story of pioneer life, full of buoyancy and pluck and the spirit of adventure. One of the most humorous, touching, and lively documents in recent literature.
Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. $1.25 net. Postage extra.
MEMOIRS OF YOUTH
By Giovanni Visconti Venosta
Translated by Rev. William Prall. With an Introduction by William Roscoe Thayer
These Memoirs, now translated into English, represent the aristocratic attitude among the patriotic Italians, and give a personal and vivid account of the abuses of Austrian and clerical rule; of the outbreaks of 1848-50, their failure and cruel repression.
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THE MINISTRY OF ART
By Ralph Adams Cram
These papers all embody and eloquently exploit that view of the relation of mediæval ideals to modern life which has made the author the most brilliant exponent of Gothic architecture in America.
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RELIGIOUS CONFESSIONS AND CONFESSANTS
By Anna Robeson Burr
Readers of Mrs. Burr’s able literary and psychological study of “The Autobiography” will be in a measure prepared for the wealth of material that she has brought together in her account of the religious confession throughout the ages.
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THE ART OF SPIRITUAL HARMONY
By Wassili Kandinsky
Translated from the German, with an introduction by M. T. H. Sadler. Kandinsky gives a critical sketch of the growth of the abstract ideal in art, forecasts the future of the movement, and says in what way he considers Cubism to have failed in its object. The fairness and generosity of his argument, together with the interest of his own daring theories, will certainly attract the English as it has attracted the German public, who called for three editions of the book within a year of publication.
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