The Complete Essays of Charles Dudley Warner (2024)

Table of Contents

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Complete Essays of Charles Dudley Warner

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States andmost other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictionswhatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the termsof the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or onlineat If you are not located in the United States,you will have to check the laws of the country where you are locatedbefore using this eBook.

Title: The Complete Essays of Charles Dudley Warner

Author: Charles Dudley Warner

Release date: October 11, 2004 [eBook #3125]
Most recently updated: January 27, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Widger




























































































By Charles Dudley Warner



The Drawer will still bet on the rose. This is not a wager, but only a strong expression of opinion. The rose will win. It does not look so now. To all appearances, this is the age of the chrysanthemum. What this gaudy flower will be, daily expanding and varying to suit the whim of fashion, no one can tell. It may be made to bloom like the cabbage; it may spread out like an umbrella—it can never be large enough nor showy enough to suit us. Undeniably it is very effective, especially in masses of gorgeous color. In its innumerable shades and enlarging proportions, it is a triumph of the gardener. It is a rival to the analine dyes and to the marabout feathers. It goes along with all the conceits and fantastic unrest of the decorative art. Indeed, but for the discovery of the capacities of the chrysanthemum, modern life would have experienced a fatal hitch in its development. It helps out our age of plush with a flame of color. There is nothing shamefaced or retiring about it, and it already takes all provinces for its own. One would be only half-married—civilly, and not fashionably—without a chrysanthemum wedding; and it lights the way to the tomb. The maiden wears a bunch of it in her corsage in token of her blooming expectations, and the young man flaunts it on his coat lapel in an effort to be at once effective and in the mode. Young love that used to express its timid desire with the violet, or, in its ardor, with the carnation, now seeks to bring its emotions to light by the help of the chrysanthemum. And it can express every shade of feeling, from the rich yellow of prosperous wooing to the brick-colored weariness of life that is hardly distinguishable from the liver complaint. It is a little stringy for a boutonniere, but it fills the modern-trained eye as no other flower can fill it. We used to say that a girl was as sweet as a rose; we have forgotten that language. We used to call those tender additions to society, on the eve of their event into that world which is always so eager to receive fresh young life, “rose-buds”; we say now simply “buds,” but we mean chrysanthemum buds. They are as beautiful as ever; they excite the same exquisite interest; perhaps in their maiden hearts they are one or another variety of that flower which bears such a sweet perfume in all literature; but can it make no difference in character whether a young girl comes out into the garish world as a rose or as a chrysanthemum? Is her life set to the note of display, of color and show, with little sweetness, or to that retiring modesty which needs a little encouragement before it fully reveals its beauty and its perfume? If one were to pass his life in moving in a palace car from one plush hotel to another, a bunch of chrysanthemums in his hand would seem to be a good symbol of his life. There are aged people who can remember that they used to choose various roses, as to their color, odor, and degree of unfolding, to express the delicate shades of advancing passion and of devotion. What can one do with this new favorite? Is not a bunch of chrysanthemums a sort of take-it-or-leave-it declaration, boldly and showily made, an offer without discrimination, a tender without romance? A young man will catch the whole family with this flaming message, but where is that sentiment that once set the maiden heart in a flutter? Will she press a chrysanthemum, and keep it till the faint perfume reminds her of the sweetest moment of her life?

Are we exaggerating this astonishing rise, development, and spread of the chrysanthemum? As a fashion it is not so extraordinary as the hoop-skirt, or as the neck ruff, which is again rising as a background to the lovely head. But the remarkable thing about it is that heretofore in all nations and times, and in all changes of fashion in dress, the rose has held its own as the queen of flowers and as the finest expression of sentiment. But here comes a flaunting thing with no desirable perfume, looking as if it were cut with scissors out of tissue-paper, but capable of taking infinite varieties of color, and growing as big as a curtain tassel, that literally captures the world, and spreads all over the globe, like the Canada thistle. The florists have no eye for anything else, and the biggest floral prizes are awarded for the production of its eccentricities. Is the rage for this flower typical of this fast and flaring age?

The Drawer is not an enemy to the chrysanthemum, nor to the sunflower, nor to any other gorgeous production of nature. But it has an old-fashioned love for the modest and unobtrusive virtues, and an abiding faith that they will win over the strained and strident displays of life. There is the violet: all efforts of cultivation fail to make it as big as the peony, and it would be no more dear to the heart if it were quadrupled in size. We do, indeed, know that satisfying beauty and refinement are apt to escape us when we strive too much and force nature into extraordinary display, and we know how difficult it is to get mere bigness and show without vulgarity. Cultivation has its limits. After we have produced it, we find that the biggest rose even is not the most precious; and lovely as woman is, we instinctively in our admiration put a limit to her size. There being, then, certain laws that ultimately fetch us all up standing, so to speak, it does seem probable that the chrysanthemum rage will end in a gorgeous sunset of its splendor; that fashion will tire of it, and that the rose, with its secret heart of love; the rose, with its exquisite form; the rose, with its capacity of shyly and reluctantly unfolding its beauty; the rose, with that odor—of the first garden exhaled and yet kept down through all the ages of sin —will become again the fashion, and be more passionately admired for its temporary banishment. Perhaps the poet will then come back again and sing. What poet could now sing of the “awful chrysanthemum of dawn”?


The Drawer has no wish to make Lent easier for anybody, or rather to diminish the benefit of the penitential season. But in this period of human anxiety and repentance it must be said that not enough account is made of the moral responsibility of Things. The doctrine is sound; the only difficulty is in applying it. It can, however, be illustrated by a little story, which is here confided to the reader in the same trust in which it was received. There was once a lady, sober in mind and sedate in manner, whose plain dress exactly represented her desire to be inconspicuous, to do good, to improve every day of her life in actions that should benefit her kind. She was a serious person, inclined to improving conversation, to the reading of bound books that cost at least a dollar and a half (fifteen cents of which she gladly contributed to the author), and she had a distaste for the gay society which was mainly a flutter of ribbons and talk and pretty faces; and when she meditated, as she did in her spare moments, her heart was sore over the frivolity of life and the emptiness of fashion. She longed to make the world better, and without any priggishness she set it an example of simplicity and sobriety, of cheerful acquiescence in plainness and inconspicuousness.

One day—it was in the autumn—this lady had occasion to buy a new hat. From a great number offered to her she selected a red one with a dull red plume. It did not agree with the rest of her apparel; it did not fit her apparent character. What impulse led to this selection she could not explain. She was not tired of being good, but something in the jauntiness of the hat and the color pleased her. If it were a temptation, she did not intend to yield to it, but she thought she would take the hat home and try it. Perhaps her nature felt the need of a little warmth. The hat pleased her still more when she got it home and put it on and surveyed herself in the mirror. Indeed, there was a new expression in her face that corresponded to the hat. She put it off and looked at it. There was something almost humanly winning and temptatious in it. In short, she kept it, and when she wore it abroad she was not conscious of its incongruity to herself or to her dress, but of the incongruity of the rest of her apparel to the hat, which seemed to have a sort of intelligence of its own, at least a power of changing and conforming things to itself. By degrees one article after another in the lady's wardrobe was laid aside, and another substituted for it that answered to the demanding spirit of the hat. In a little while this plain lady was not plain any more, but most gorgeously dressed, and possessed with the desire to be in the height of the fashion. It came to this, that she had a tea-gown made out of a window-curtain with a flamboyant pattern. Solomon in all his glory would have been ashamed of himself in her presence.

But this was not all. Her disposition, her ideas, her whole life, was changed. She did not any more think of going about doing good, but of amusing herself. She read nothing but stories in paper covers. In place of being sedate and sober-minded, she was frivolous to excess; she spent most of her time with women who liked to “frivol.” She kept Lent in the most expensive way, so as to make the impression upon everybody that she was better than the extremest kind of Lent. From liking the sedatest company she passed to liking the gayest society and the most fashionable method of getting rid of her time. Nothing whatever had happened to her, and she is now an ornament to society.

This story is not an invention; it is a leaf out of life. If this lady that autumn day had bought a plain bonnet she would have continued on in her humble, sensible way of living. Clearly it was the hat that made the woman, and not the woman the hat. She had no preconception of it; it simply happened to her, like any accident—as if she had fallen and sprained her ankle. Some people may say that she had in her a concealed propensity for frivolity; but the hat cannot escape the moral responsibility of calling it out if it really existed. The power of things to change and create character is well attested. Men live up to or live down to their clothes, which have a great moral influence on manner, and even on conduct. There was a man run down almost to vagabondage, owing to his increasingly shabby clothing, and he was only saved from becoming a moral and physical wreck by a remnant of good-breeding in him that kept his worn boots well polished. In time his boots brought up the rest of his apparel and set him on his feet again. Then there is the well-known example of the honest clerk on a small salary who was ruined by the gift of a repeating watch—an expensive timepiece that required at least ten thousand a year to sustain it: he is now in Canada.

Sometimes the influence of Things is good and sometimes it is bad. We need a philosophy that shall tell us why it is one or the other, and fix the responsibility where it belongs. It does no good, as people always find out by reflex action, to kick an inanimate thing that has offended, to smash a perverse watch with a hammer, to break a rocking-chair that has a habit of tipping over backward. If Things are not actually malicious, they seem to have a power of revenging themselves. We ought to try to understand them better, and to be more aware of what they can do to us. If the lady who bought the red hat could have known the hidden nature of it, could have had a vision of herself as she was transformed by it, she would as soon have taken a viper into her bosom as have placed the red tempter on her head. Her whole previous life, her feeling of the moment, show that it was not vanity that changed her, but the inconsiderate association with a Thing that happened to strike her fancy, and which seemed innocent. But no Thing is really powerless for good or evil.


Have we yet hit upon the right idea of civilization? The process which has been going on ever since the world began seems to have a defect in it; strength, vital power, somehow escapes. When you've got a man thoroughly civilized you cannot do anything more with him. And it is worth reflection what we should do, what could we spend our energies on, and what would evoke them, we who are both civilized and enlightened, if all nations were civilized and the earth were entirely subdued. That is to say, are not barbarism and vast regions of uncultivated land a necessity of healthful life on this globe? We do not like to admit that this process has its cycles, that nations and men, like trees and fruit, grow, ripen, and then decay. The world has always had a conceit that the globe could be made entirely habitable, and all over the home of a society constantly growing better. In order to accomplish this we have striven to eliminate barbarism in man and in nature:

Is there anything more unsatisfactory than a perfect house, perfect grounds, perfect gardens, art and nature brought into the most absolute harmony of taste and culture? What more can a man do with it? What satisfaction has a man in it if he really gets to the end of his power to improve it? There have been such nearly ideal places, and how strong nature, always working against man and in the interest of untamed wildness, likes to riot in them and reduce them to picturesque destruction! And what sweet sadness, pathos, romantic suggestion, the human mind finds in such a ruin! And a society that has attained its end in all possible culture, entire refinement in manners, in tastes, in the art of elegant intellectual and luxurious living—is there nothing pathetic in that? Where is the primeval, heroic force that made the joy of living in the rough old uncivilized days? Even throw in goodness, a certain amount of altruism, gentleness, warm interest in unfortunate humanity—is the situation much improved? London is probably the most civilized centre the world has ever seen; there are gathered more of the elements of that which we reckon the best. Where in history, unless some one puts in a claim for the Frenchman, shall we find a Man so nearly approaching the standard we have set up of civilization as the Englishman, refined by inheritance and tradition, educated almost beyond the disturbance of enthusiasm, and cultivated beyond the chance of surprise? We are speaking of the highest type in manner, information, training, in the acquisition of what the world has to give. Could these men have conquered the world? Is it possible that our highest civilization has lost something of the rough and admirable element that we admire in the heroes of Homer and of Elizabeth? What is this London, the most civilized city ever known? Why, a considerable part of its population is more barbarous, more hopelessly barbarous, than any wild race we know, because they are the barbarians of civilization, the refuse and slag of it, if we dare say that of any humanity. More hopeless, because the virility of savagery has measurably gone out of it. We can do something with a degraded race of savages, if it has any stamina in it. What can be done with those who are described as “East-Londoners”?

Every great city has enough of the same element. Is this an accident, or is it a necessity of the refinement that we insist on calling civilization? We are always sending out missionaries to savage or perverted nations, we are always sending out emigrants to occupy and reduce to order neglected territory. This is our main business. How would it be if this business were really accomplished, and there were no more peoples to teach our way of life to, and no more territory to bring under productive cultivation? Without the necessity of putting forth this energy, a survival of the original force in man, how long would our civilization last? In a word, if the world were actually all civilized, wouldn't it be too weak even to ripen? And now, in the great centres, where is accumulated most of that we value as the product of man's best efforts, is there strength enough to elevate the degraded humanity that attends our highest cultivation? We have a gay confidence that we can do something for Africa. Can we reform London and Paris and New York, which our own hands have made?

If we cannot, where is the difficulty? Is this a hopeless world? Must it always go on by spurts and relapses, alternate civilization and barbarism, and the barbarism being necessary to keep us employed and growing? Or is there some mistake about our ideal of civilization? Does our process too much eliminate the rough vigor, courage, stamina of the race? After a time do we just live, or try to live, on literature warmed over, on pretty coloring and drawing instead of painting that stirs the soul to the heroic facts and tragedies of life? Where did this virile, blood-full, throbbing Russian literature come from; this Russian painting of Verestchagin, that smites us like a sword with the consciousness of the tremendous meaning of existence? Is there a barbaric force left in the world that we have been daintily trying to cover and apologize for and refine into gentle agreeableness?

These questions are too deep for these pages. Let us make the world pleasant, and throw a cover over the refuse. We are doing very well, on the whole, considering what we are and the materials we have to work on. And we must not leave the world so perfectly civilized that the inhabitants, two or three centuries ahead, will have nothing to do.


Of all the contrivances for amusem*nt in this agreeable world the “Reception” is the most ingenious, and would probably most excite the wonder of an angel sent down to inspect our social life. If he should pause at the entrance of the house where one is in progress, he would be puzzled. The noise that would greet his ears is different from the deep continuous roar in the streets, it is unlike the hum of millions of seventeen-year locusts, it wants the musical quality of the spring conventions of the blackbirds in the chestnuts, and he could not compare it to the vociferation in a lunatic asylum, for that is really subdued and infrequent. He might be incapable of analyzing this, but when he caught sight of the company he would be compelled to recognize it as the noise of our highest civilization. It may not be perfect, for there are limits to human powers of endurance, but it is the best we can do. It is not a chance affair. Here are selected, picked out by special invitation, the best that society can show, the most intelligent, the most accomplished, the most beautiful, the best dressed persons in the community—all receptions have this character. The angel would notice this at once, and he would be astonished at the number of such persons, for the rooms would be so crowded that he would see the hopelessness of attempting to edge or wedge his way through the throng without tearing off his wings. An angel, in short, would stand no chance in one of these brilliant assemblies on account of his wings, and he probably could not be heard, on account of the low, heavenly pitch of his voice. His inference would be that these people had been selected to come together by reason of their superior power of screaming. He would be wrong.

—They are selected on account of their intelligence, agreeableness, and power of entertaining each other. They come together, not for exercise, but pleasure, and the more they crowd and jam and struggle, and the louder they scream, the greater the pleasure. It is a kind of contest, full of good-humor and excitement. The one that has the shrillest voice and can scream the loudest is most successful. It would seem at first that they are under a singular hallucination, imagining that the more noise there is in the room the better each one can be heard, and so each one continues to raise his or her voice in order to drown the other voices. The secret of the game is to pitch the voice one or two octaves above the ordinary tone. Some throats cannot stand this strain long; they become rasped and sore, and the voices break; but this adds to the excitement and enjoyment of those who can scream with less inconvenience. The angel would notice that if at any time silence was called, in order that an announcement of music could be made, in the awful hush that followed people spoke to each other in their natural voices, and everybody could be heard without effort. But this was not the object of the Reception, and in a moment more the screaming would begin again, the voices growing higher and higher, until, if the roof were taken off, one vast shriek would go up to heaven.

This is not only a fashion, it is an art. People have to train for it, and as it is a unique amusem*nt, it is worth some trouble to be able to succeed in it. Men, by reason of their stolidity and deeper voices, can never be proficients in it; and they do not have so much practice—unless they are stock-brokers. Ladies keep themselves in training in their ordinary calls. If three or four meet in a drawing-room they all begin to scream, not that they may be heard—for the higher they go the less they understand each other—but simply to acquire the art of screaming at receptions. If half a dozen ladies meeting by chance in a parlor should converse quietly in their sweet, ordinary home tones, it might be in a certain sense agreeable, but it would not be fashionable, and it would not strike the prevailing note of our civilization. If it were true that a group of women all like to talk at the same time when they meet (which is a slander invented by men, who may be just as loquacious, but not so limber-tongued and quick-witted), and raise their voices to a shriek in order to dominate each other, it could be demonstrated that they would be more readily heard if they all spoke in low tones. But the object is not conversation; it is the social exhilaration that comes from the wild exercise of the voice in working off a nervous energy; it is so seldom that in her own house a lady gets a chance to scream.

The dinner-party, where there are ten or twelve at table, is a favorite chance for this exercise. At a recent dinner, where there were a dozen uncommonly intelligent people, all capable of the most entertaining conversation, by some chance, or owing to some nervous condition, they all began to speak in a high voice as soon as they were seated, and the effect was that of a dynamite explosion. It was a cheerful babel of indistinguishable noise, so loud and shrill and continuous that it was absolutely impossible for two people seated on the opposite sides of the table, and both shouting at each other, to catch an intelligible sentence. This made a lively dinner. Everybody was animated, and if there was no conversation, even between persons seated side by side, there was a glorious clatter and roar; and when it was over, everybody was hoarse and exhausted, and conscious that he had done his best in a high social function.

This topic is not the selection of the Drawer, the province of which is to note, but not to criticise, the higher civilization. But the inquiry has come from many cities, from many women, “Cannot something be done to stop social screaming?” The question is referred to the scientific branch of the Social Science Association. If it is a mere fashion, the association can do nothing. But it might institute some practical experiments. It might get together in a small room fifty people all let loose in the ordinary screaming contest, measure the total volume of noise and divide it by fifty, and ascertain how much throat power was needed in one person to be audible to another three feet from the latter's ear. This would sift out the persons fit for such a contest. The investigator might then call a dead silence in the assembly, and request each person to talk in a natural voice, then divide the total noise as before, and see what chance of being heard an ordinary individual had in it. If it turned out in these circ*mstances that every person present could speak with ease and hear perfectly what was said, then the order might be given for the talk to go on in that tone, and that every person who raised the voice and began to scream should be gagged and removed to another room. In this room could be collected all the screamers to enjoy their own powers. The same experiment might be tried at a dinner-party, namely, to ascertain if the total hum of low voices in the natural key would not be less for the individual voice to overcome than the total scream of all the voices raised to a shriek. If scientific research demonstrated the feasibility of speaking in an ordinary voice at receptions, dinner-parties, and in “calls,” then the Drawer is of opinion that intelligible and enjoyable conversation would be possible on these occasions, if it becomes fashionable not to scream.


Is it true that cultivation, what we call refinement, kills individuality? Or, worse than that even, that one loses his taste by over-cultivation? Those persons are uninteresting, certainly, who have gone so far in culture that they accept conventional standards supposed to be correct, to which they refer everything, and by which they measure everybody. Taste usually implies a sort of selection; the cultivated taste of which we speak is merely a comparison, no longer an individual preference or appreciation, but only a reference to the conventional and accepted standard. When a man or woman has reached this stage of propriety we are never curious any more concerning their opinions on any subject. We know that the opinions expressed will not be theirs, evolved out of their own feeling, but that they will be the cut-and-dried results of conventionality.

It is doubtless a great comfort to a person to know exactly how to feel and what to say in every new contingency, but whether the zest of life is not dulled by this ability is a grave question, for it leaves no room for surprise and little for emotion. O ye belles of Newport and of Bar Harbor, in your correct and conventional agreement of what is proper and agreeable, are you wasting your sweet lives by rule? Is your compact, graceful, orderly society liable to be monotonous in its gay repetition of the same thing week after week? Is there nothing outside of that envied circle which you make so brilliant? Is the Atlantic shore the only coast where beauty may lounge and spread its net of enchantment? The Atlantic shore and Europe? Perhaps on the Pacific you might come back to your original selves, and find again that freedom and that charm of individuality that are so attractive. Some sparkling summer morning, if you chanced to drive four-in-hand along the broad beach at Santa Barbara, inhaling, the spicy breeze from the Sandwich Islands, along the curved shore where the blue of the sea and the purple of the mountains remind you of the Sorrentine promontory, and then dashed away into the canon of Montecito, among the vineyards and orange orchards and live-oaks and palms, in vales and hills all ablaze with roses and flowers of the garden and the hothouse, which bloom the year round in the gracious sea-air, would you not, we wonder, come to yourselves in the sense of a new life where it is good form to be enthusiastic and not disgraceful to be surprised? It is a far cry from Newport to Santa Barbara, and a whole world of new sensations lies on the way, experiences for which you will have no formula of experience. To take the journey is perhaps too heroic treatment for the disease of conformity—the sort of malaria of our exclusive civilization.

The Drawer is not urging this journey, nor any break-up of the social order, for it knows how painful a return to individuality may be. It is easier to go on in the subordination of one's personality to the strictly conventional life. It expects rather to record a continually perfected machinery, a life in which not only speech but ideas are brought into rule. We have had something to say occasionally of the art of conversation, which is in danger of being lost in the confused babel of the reception and the chatter of the dinner-party—the art of listening and the art of talking both being lost. Society is taking alarm at this, and the women as usual are leaders in a reform. Already, by reason of clubs-literary, scientific, economic—woman is the well-informed part of our society. In the “Conversation Lunch” this information is now brought into use. The lunch, and perhaps the dinner, will no longer be the occasion of satisfying the appetite or of gossip, but of improving talk. The giver of the lunch will furnish the topic of conversation. Two persons may not speak at once; two persons may not talk with each other; all talk is to be general and on the topic assigned, and while one is speaking, the others must listen. Perhaps each lady on taking her seat may find in her napkin a written slip of paper which shall be the guide to her remarks. Thus no time is to be wasted on frivolous topics. The ordinary natural flow of rejoinder and repartee, the swirling of talk around one obstacle and another, its winding and rippling here and there as individual whim suggests, will not be allowed, but all will be improving, and tend to that general culture of which we have been speaking. The ladies' lunch is not to be exactly a debating society, but an open occasion for the delivery of matured thought and the acquisition of information.

The object is not to talk each other down, but to improve the mind, which, unguided, is apt to get frivolous at the convivial board. It is notorious that men by themselves at lunch or dinner usually shun grave topics and indulge in persiflage, and even descend to talk about wine and the made dishes. The women's lunch of this summer takes higher ground. It will give Mr. Browning his final estimate; it will settle Mr. Ibsen; it will determine the suffrage question; it will adjudicate between the total abstainers and the halfway covenant of high license; it will not hesitate to cut down the tariff.

The Drawer anticipates a period of repose in all our feverish social life. We shall live more by rule and less by impulse. When we meet we shall talk on set topics, determined beforehand. By this concentration we shall be able as one man or one woman to reach the human limit of cultivation, and get rid of all the aberrations of individual assertion and feeling. By studying together in clubs, by conversing in monotone and by rule, by thinking the same things and exchanging ideas until we have none left, we shall come into that social placidity which is one dream of the nationalists—one long step towards what may be called a prairie mental condition—the slope of Kansas, where those who are five thousand feet above the sea-level seem to be no higher than those who dwell in the Missouri Valley.


We are all more or less devoted to 'liberte', 'egalite', and considerable 'fraternite', and we have various ways of showing it. It is the opinion of many that women do not care much about politics, and that if they are interested at all in them, they are by nature aristocrats. It is said, indeed, that they care much more about their dress than they do about the laws or the form of government. This notion arises from a misapprehension both of the nature of woman and of the significance of dress.

Men have an idea that fashions are haphazard, and are dictated and guided by no fixed principles of action, and represent no great currents in politics or movements of the human mind. Women, who are exceedingly subtle in all their operations, feel that it is otherwise. They have a prescience of changes in the drift of public affairs, and a delicate sensitiveness that causes them to adjust their raiment to express these changes. Men have written a great deal in their bungling way about the philosophy of clothes. Women exhibit it, and if we should study them more and try to understand them instead of ridiculing their fashions as whims bred of an inconstant mind and mere desire for change, we would have a better apprehension of the great currents of modern political life and society.

Many observers are puzzled by the gradual and insidious return recently to the mode of the Directoire, and can see in it no significance other than weariness of some other mode. We need to recall the fact of the influence of the centenary period upon the human mind. It is nearly a century since the fashion of the Directoire. What more natural, considering the evidence that we move in spirals, if not in circles, that the signs of the anniversary of one of the most marked periods in history should be shown in feminine apparel? It is woman's way of hinting what is in the air, the spirit that is abroad in the world. It will be remembered that women took a prominent part in the destruction of the Bastile, helping, indeed, to tear down that odious structure with their own hands, the fall of which, it is well known, brought in the classic Greek and republican simplicity, the subtle meaning of the change being expressed in French gowns. Naturally there was a reaction from all this towards aristocratic privileges and exclusiveness, which went on for many years, until in France monarchy and empire followed the significant leadership of the French modistes. So strong was this that it passed to other countries, and in England the impulse outlasted even the Reform Bill, and skirts grew more and more bulbous, until it did not need more than three or four women to make a good-sized assembly. This was not the result of, a whim about clothes, but a subtle recognition of a spirit of exclusiveness and defense abroad in the world. Each woman became her own Bastile. Men surrounded it and thundered against it without the least effect. It seemed as permanent as the Pyramids. At every male attack it expanded, and became more aggressive and took up more room. Women have such an exquisite sense of things—just as they have now in regard to big obstructive hats in the theatres. They know that most of the plays are inferior and some of them are immoral, and they attend the theatres with head-dresses that will prevent as many people as possible from seeing the stage and being corrupted by anything that takes place on it. They object to the men seeing some of the women who are now on the stage. It happened, as to the private Bastiles, that the women at last recognized a change in the sociological and political atmosphere of the world, and without consulting any men of affairs or caring for their opinion, down went the Bastiles. When women attacked them, in obedience to their political instincts, they collapsed like punctured balloons. Natural woman was measurably (that is, a capacity of being measured) restored to the world. And we all remember the great political revolutionary movements of 1848.

Now France is still the arbiter of the modes. Say what we may about Berlin, copy their fashion plates as we will, or about London, or New York, or Tokio, it is indisputable that the woman in any company who has on a Paris gown—the expression is odious, but there is no other that in these days would be comprehended—“takes the cake.” It is not that the women care for this as a mere matter of apparel. But they are sensitive to the political atmosphere, to the philosophical significance that it has to great impending changes. We are approaching the centenary of the fall of the Bastile. The French have no Bastile to lay low, nor, indeed, any Tuileries to burn up; but perhaps they might get a good way ahead by demolishing Notre Dame and reducing most of Paris to ashes. Apparently they are on the eve of doing something. The women of the world may not know what it is, but they feel the approaching recurrence of a period. Their movements are not yet decisive. It is as yet only tentatively that they adopt the mode of the Directoire. It is yet uncertain—a sort of Boulangerism in dress. But if we watch it carefully we shall be able to predict with some assurance the drift in Paris. The Directoire dress points to another period of republican simplicity, anarchy, and the rule of a popular despot.

It is a great pity, in view of this valuable instinct in women and the prophetic significance of dress, that women in the United States do not exercise their gifts with regard to their own country. We should then know at any given time whether we are drifting into Blaineism, or Clevelandism, or centralization, or free-trade, or extreme protection, or rule by corporations. We boast greatly of our smartness. It is time we were up and dressed to prove it.


There appears to be a great quantity of conceit around, especially concerning women. The statement was recently set afloat that a well-known lady had admitted that George Meredith understands women better than any writer who has preceded him. This may be true, and it may be a wily statement to again throw men off the track; at any rate it contains the old assumption of a mystery, practically insoluble, about the gentler sex. Women generally encourage this notion, and men by their gingerly treatment of it seemed to accept it. But is it well-founded, is there any more mystery about women—than about men? Is the feminine nature any more difficult to understand than the masculine nature? Have women, conscious of inferior strength, woven this notion of mystery about themselves as a defense, or have men simply idealized them for fictitious purposes? To recur to the case cited, is there any evidence that Mr. Meredith understands human nature—as exhibited in women any better than human nature—in men, or is more consistent in the production of one than of the other? Historically it would be interesting to trace the rise of this notion of woman as an enigma. The savage races do not appear to have it. A woman to the North American Indian is a simple affair, dealt with without circumlocution. In the Bible records there is not much mystery about her; there are many tributes to her noble qualities, and some pretty severe and uncomplimentary things are said about her, but there is little affectation of not understanding her. She may be a prophetess, or a consoler, or a snare, but she is no more “deceitful and desperately wicked” than anybody else. There is nothing mysterious about her first recorded performance. Eve trusted the serpent, and Adam trusted Eve. The mystery was in the serpent. There is no evidence that the ancient Egyptian woman was more difficult to comprehend than the Egyptian man. They were both doubtless wily as highly civilized people are apt to be; the “serpent of old Nile” was in them both. Is it in fact till we come to mediaeval times, and the chivalric age, that women are set up as being more incomprehensible than men? That is, less logical, more whimsical, more uncertain in their mental processes? The play-writers and essayists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries “worked” this notion continually. They always took an investigating and speculating attitude towards women, that fostered the conceit of their separateness and veiled personality. Every woman was supposed to be playing a part behind a mask. Montaigne is always investigating woman as a mystery. It is, for instance, a mystery he does not relish that, as he says, women commonly reserve the publication of their vehement affections for their husbands till they have lost them; then the woful countenance “looks not so much back as forward, and is intended rather to get a new husband than to lament the old.” And he tells this story:

“When I was a boy, a very beautiful and virtuous lady who is yet living, and the widow of a prince, had, I know not what, more ornament in her dress than our laws of widowhood will well allow, which being reproached with as a great indecency, she made answer 'that it was because she was not cultivating more friendships, and would never marry again.'” This cynical view of woman, as well as the extravagantly complimentary one sometimes taken by the poets, was based upon the notion that woman was an unexplainable being. When she herself adopted the idea is uncertain. Of course all this has a very practical bearing upon modern life, the position of women in it, and the so-called reforms. If woman is so different from man, to the extent of being an unexplainable mystery, science ought to determine the exact state of the case, and ascertain if there is any remedy for it. If it is only a literary creation, we ought to know it. Science could tell, for instance, whether there is a peculiarity in the nervous system, any complications in the nervous centres, by which the telegraphic action of the will gets crossed, so that, for example, in reply to a proposal of marriage, the intended “Yes” gets delivered as “No.” Is it true that the mental process in one sex is intuitive, and in the other logical, with every link necessary and visible? Is it true, as the romancers teach, that the mind in one sex acts indirectly and in the other directly, or is this indirect process only characteristic of exceptions in both sexes? Investigation ought to find this out, so that we can adjust the fit occupations for both sexes on a scientific basis. We are floundering about now in a sea of doubt. As society becomes more complicated, women will become a greater and greater mystery, or rather will be regarded so by themselves and be treated so by men.

Who can tell how much this notion of mystery in the sex stands in the way of its free advancement all along the line? Suppose the proposal were made to women to exchange being mysterious for the ballot? Would they do it? Or have they a sense of power in the possession of this conceded incomprehensibility that they would not lay down for any visible insignia of that power? And if the novelists and essayists have raised a mist about the sex, which it willingly masquerades in, is it not time that the scientists should determine whether the mystery exists in nature or only in the imagination?


The Drawer has never undervalued clothes. Whatever other heresies it may have had, however it may have insisted that the more a woman learns, the more she knows of books, the higher her education is carried in all the knowledges, the more interesting she will be, not only for an hour, but as a companion for life, it has never said that she is less attractive when dressed with taste and according to the season. Love itself could scarcely be expected to survive a winter hat worn after Easter. And the philosophy of this is not on the surface, nor applicable to women only. In this the highest of created things are under a law having a much wider application. Take as an item novels, the works of fiction, which have become an absolute necessity in the modern world, as necessary to divert the mind loaded with care and under actual strain as to fill the vacancy in otherwise idle brains. They have commonly a summer and a winter apparel. The publishers understand this. As certainly as the birds appear, comes the crop of summer novels, fluttering down upon the stalls, in procession through the railway trains, littering the drawing-room tables, in light paper, covers, ornamental, attractive in colors and fanciful designs, as welcome and grateful as the girls in muslin. When the thermometer is in the eighties, anything heavy and formidable is distasteful. The housekeeper knows we want few solid dishes, but salads and cooling drinks. The publisher knows that we want our literature (or what passes for that) in light array. In the winter we prefer the boards and the rich heavy binding, however light the tale may be; but in the summer, though the fiction be as grave and tragic as wandering love and bankruptcy, we would have it come to us lightly clad—out of stays, as it were.

It would hardly be worth while to refer to this taste in the apparel of our fiction did it not have deep and esoteric suggestions, and could not the novelists themselves get a hint from it. Is it realized how much depends upon the clothes that are worn by the characters in the novels —clothes put on not only to exhibit the inner life of the characters, but to please the readers who are to associate with them? It is true that there are novels that almost do away with the necessity of fashion magazines and fashion plates in the family, so faithful are they in the latest millinery details, and so fully do they satisfy the longing of all of us to know what is chic for the moment. It is pretty well understood, also, that women, and even men, are made to exhibit the deepest passions and the tenderest emotions in the crises of their lives by the clothes they put on. How the woman in such a crisis hesitates before her wardrobe, and at last chooses just what will express her innermost feeling! Does she dress for her lover as she dresses to receive her lawyer who has come to inform her that she is living beyond her income? Would not the lover be spared time and pain if he knew, as the novelist knows, whether the young lady is dressing for a rejection or an acceptance? Why does the lady intending suicide always throw on a waterproof when she steals out of the house to drown herself? The novelist knows the deep significance of every article of toilet, and nature teaches him to array his characters for the summer novel in the airy draperies suitable to the season. It is only good art that the cover of the novel and the covers of the characters shall be in harmony. He knows, also, that the characters in the winter novel must be adequately protected. We speak, of course, of the season stories. Novels that are to run through a year, or maybe many years, and are to set forth the passions and trials of changing age and varying circ*mstance, require different treatment and wider millinery knowledge. They are naturally more expensive. The wardrobe required in an all-round novel would bankrupt most of us.

But to confine ourselves to the season novel, it is strange that some one has not invented the patent adjustable story that with a slight change would do for summer or winter, following the broad hint of the publishers, who hasten in May to throw whatever fiction they have on hand into summer clothes. The winter novel, by this invention, could be easily fitted for summer wear. All the novelist need do would be to change the clothes of his characters. And in the autumn, if the novel proved popular, he could change again, with the advantage of being in the latest fashion. It would only be necessary to alter a few sentences in a few of the stereotype pages. Of course this would make necessary other slight alterations, for no kind-hearted writer would be cruel to his own creations, and expose them to the vicissitudes of the seasons. He could insert “rain” for “snow,” and “green leaves” for “skeleton branches,” make a few verbal changes of that sort, and regulate the thermometer. It would cost very little to adjust the novel in this way to any season. It is worth thinking of.

And this leads to a remark upon the shocking indifference of some novelists to the ordinary comfort of their characters. In practical life we cannot, but in his realm the novelist can, control the weather. He can make it generally pleasant. We do not object to a terrific thunder-shower now and then, as the sign of despair and a lost soul, but perpetual drizzle and grayness and inclemency are tedious to the reader, who has enough bad weather in his private experience. The English are greater sinners in this respect than we are. They seem to take a brutal delight in making it as unpleasant as possible for their fictitious people. There is R—b—rt 'lsm—r', for example. External trouble is piled on to the internal. The characters are in a perpetual soak. There is not a dry rag on any of them, from the beginning of the book to the end. They are sent out in all weathers, and are drenched every day. Often their wet clothes are frozen on them; they are exposed to cutting winds and sleet in their faces, bedrabbled in damp grass, stood against slippery fences, with hail and frost lowering their vitality, and expected under these circ*mstances to make love and be good Christians. Drenched and wind-blown for years, that is what they are. It may be that this treatment has excited the sympathy of the world, but is it legitimate? Has a novelist the right to subject his creations to tortures that he would not dare to inflict upon his friends? It is no excuse to say that this is normal English weather; it is not the office of fiction to intensify and rub in the unavoidable evils of life. The modern spirit of consideration for fictitious characters that prevails with regard to dress ought to extend in a reasonable degree to their weather. This is not a strained corollary to the demand for an appropriately costumed novel.


It cannot for a moment be supposed that the Drawer would discourage self-culture and refinement of manner and of speech. But it would not hesitate to give a note of warning if it believed that the present devotion to literature and the pursuits of the mind were likely, by the highest authorities, to be considered bad form. In an intellectually inclined city (not in the northeast) a club of ladies has been formed for the cultivation of the broad 'a' in speech. Sporadic efforts have hitherto been made for the proper treatment of this letter of the alphabet with individual success, especially with those who have been in England, or have known English men and women of the broad-gauge variety. Discerning travelers have made the American pronunciation of the letter a a reproach to the republic, that is to say, a means of distinguishing a native of this country. The true American aspires to be cosmopolitan, and does not want to be “spotted”—if that word may be used—in society by any peculiarity of speech, that is, by any American peculiarity. Why, at the bottom of the matter, a narrow 'a' should be a disgrace it is not easy to see, but it needs no reason if fashion or authority condemns it. This country is so spread out, without any social or literary centre universally recognized as such, and the narrow 'a' has become so prevalent, that even fashion finds it difficult to reform it. The best people, who are determined to broaden all their 'a' 's, will forget in moments of excitement, and fall back into old habits. It requires constant vigilance to keep the letter 'a' flattened out. It is in vain that scholars have pointed out that in the use of this letter lies the main difference between the English and the American speech; either Americans generally do not care if this is the fact, or fashion can only work a reform in a limited number of people. It seems, therefore, necessary that there should be an organized effort to deal with this pronunciation, and clubs will no doubt be formed all over the country, in imitation of the one mentioned, until the broad a will become as common as flies in summer. When this result is attained it will be time to attack the sound of 'u' with clubs, and make universal the French sound. In time the American pronunciation will become as superior to all others as are the American sewing-machines and reapers. In the Broad A Club every member who misbehaves—that is, mispronounces—is fined a nickel for each offense. Of course in the beginning there is a good deal of revenue from this source, but the revenue diminishes as the club improves, so that we have the anomaly of its failure to be self-supporting in proportion to its excellence. Just now if these clubs could suddenly become universal, and the penalty be enforced, we could have the means of paying off the national debt in a year.

We do not wish to attach too much importance to this movement, but rather to suggest to a continent yearning for culture in letters and in speech whether it may not be carried too far. The reader will remember that there came a time in Athens when culture could mock at itself, and the rest of the country may be warned in time of a possible departure from good form in devotion to language and literature by the present attitude of modern Athens. Probably there is no esoteric depth in literature or religion, no refinement in intellectual luxury, that this favored city has not sounded. It is certainly significant, therefore, when the priestesses and devotees of mental superiority there turn upon it and rend it, when they are heartily tired of the whole literary business. There is always this danger when anything is passionately pursued as a fashion, that it will one day cease to be the fashion. Plato and Buddha and even Emerson become in time like a last season's fashion plate. Even a “friend of the spirit” will have to go. Culture is certain to mock itself in time.

The clubs for the improvement of the mind—the female mind—and of speech, which no doubt had their origin in modern Athens, should know, then, that it is the highest mark of female culture now in that beautiful town to despise culture, to affect the gayest and most joyous ignorance —ignorance of books, of all forms of so-called intellectual development, and all literary men, women, and productions whatsoever! This genuine movement of freedom may be a real emancipation. If it should reach the metropolis, what a relief it might bring to thousands who are, under a high sense of duty, struggling to advance the intellectual life. There is this to be said, however, that it is only the very brightest people, those who have no need of culture, who have in fact passed beyond all culture, who can take this position in regard to it, and actually revel in the delights of ignorance. One must pass into a calm place when he is beyond the desire to know anything or to do anything.

It is a chilling thought, unless one can rise to the highest philosophy of life, that even the broad 'a', when it is attained, may not be a permanence. Let it be common, and what distinction will there be in it? When devotion to study, to the reading of books, to conversation on improving topics, becomes a universal fashion, is it not evident that one can only keep a leadership in fashion by throwing the whole thing overboard, and going forward into the natural gayety of life, which cares for none of these things? We suppose the Constitution of the United States will stand if the day comes—nay, now is—when the women of Chicago call the women of Boston frivolous, and the women of Boston know their immense superiority and advancement in being so, but it would be a blank surprise to the country generally to know that it was on the wrong track. The fact is that culture in this country is full of surprises, and so doubles and feints and comes back upon itself that the most diligent recorder can scarcely note its changes. The Drawer can only warn; it cannot advise.


No language that is unfortunately understood by the greater portion of the people who speak English, thousands are saying on the first of January—in 1890, a far-off date that it is wonderful any one has lived to see—“Let us have a new deal!” It is a natural exclamation, and does not necessarily mean any change of purpose. It always seems to a man that if he could shuffle the cards he could increase his advantages in the game of life, and, to continue the figure which needs so little explanation, it usually appears to him that he could play anybody else's hand better than his own. In all the good resolutions of the new year, then, it happens that perhaps the most sincere is the determination to get a better hand. Many mistake this for repentance and an intention to reform, when generally it is only the desire for a new shuffle of the cards. Let us have a fresh pack and a new deal, and start fair. It seems idle, therefore, for the moralist to indulge in a homily about annual good intentions, and habits that ought to be dropped or acquired, on the first of January. He can do little more than comment on the passing show.

It will be admitted that if the world at this date is not socially reformed it is not the fault of the Drawer, and for the reason that it has been not so much a critic as an explainer and encourager. It is in the latter character that it undertakes to defend and justify a national industry that has become very important within the past ten years. A great deal of capital is invested in it, and millions of people are actively employed in it. The varieties of chewing gum that are manufactured would be a matter of surprise to those who have paid no attention to the subject, and who may suppose that the millions of mouths they see engaged in its mastication have a common and vulgar taste. From the fact that it can be obtained at the apothecary's, an impression has got abroad that it is medicinal. This is not true. The medical profession do not use it, and what distinguishes it from drugs-that they also do not use—is the fact that they do not prescribe it. It is neither a narcotic nor a stimulant. It cannot strictly be said to soothe or to excite. The habit of using it differs totally from that of the chewing of tobacco or the dipping of snuff. It might, by a purely mechanical operation, keep a person awake, but no one could go to sleep chewing gum. It is in itself neither tonic nor sedative. It is to be noticed also that the gum habit differs from the tobacco habit in that the aromatic and elastic substance is masticated, while the tobacco never is, and that the mastication leads to nothing except more mastication. The task is one that can never be finished. The amount of energy expended in this process if capitalized or conserved would produce great results. Of course the individual does little, but if the power evolved by the practice in a district school could be utilized, it would suffice to run the kindergarten department. The writer has seen a railway car—say in the West—filled with young women, nearly every one of whose jaws and pretty mouths was engaged in this pleasing occupation; and so much power was generated that it would, if applied, have kept the car in motion if the steam had been shut off—at least it would have furnished the motive for illuminating the car by electricity.

This national industry is the subject of constant detraction, satire, and ridicule by the newspaper press. This is because it is not understood, and it may be because it is mainly a female accomplishment: the few men who chew gum may be supposed to do so by reason of gallantry. There might be no more sympathy with it in the press if the real reason for the practice were understood, but it would be treated more respectfully. Some have said that the practice arises from nervousness—the idle desire to be busy without doing anything—and because it fills up the pauses of vacuity in conversation. But this would not fully account for the practice of it in solitude. Some have regarded it as in obedience to the feminine instinct for the cultivation of patience and self-denial —patience in a fruitless activity, and self-denial in the eternal act of mastication without swallowing. It is no more related to these virtues than it is to the habit of the reflective cow in chewing her cud. The cow would never chew gum. The explanation is a more philosophical one, and relates to a great modern social movement. It is to strengthen and develop and make more masculine the lower jaw. The critic who says that this is needless, that the inclination in women to talk would adequately develop this, misses the point altogether. Even if it could be proved that women are greater chatterers than men, the critic would gain nothing. Women have talked freely since creation, but it remains true that a heavy, strong lower jaw is a distinctively masculine characteristic. It is remarked that if a woman has a strong lower jaw she is like a man. Conversation does not create this difference, nor remove it; for the development of a lower jaw in women constant mechanical exercise of the muscles is needed. Now, a spirit of emancipation, of emulation, is abroad, as it ought to be, for the regeneration of the world. It is sometimes called the coming to the front of woman in every act and occupation that used to belong almost exclusively to man. It is not necessary to say a word to justify this. But it is often accompanied by a misconception, namely, that it is necessary for woman to be like man, not only in habits, but in certain physical characteristics. No woman desires a beard, because a beard means care and trouble, and would detract from feminine beauty, but to have a strong and, in appearance, a resolute under-jaw may be considered a desirable note of masculinity, and of masculine power and privilege, in the good time coming. Hence the cultivation of it by the chewing of gum is a recognizable and reasonable instinct, and the practice can be defended as neither a whim nor a vain waste of energy and nervous force. In a generation or two it may be laid aside as no longer necessary, or men may be compelled to resort to it to preserve their supremacy.


It does not seem to be decided yet whether women are to take the Senate or the House at Washington in the new development of what is called the dual government. There are disadvantages in both. The members of the Senate are so few that the women of the country would not be adequately represented in it; and the Chamber in which the House meets is too large for women to make speeches in with any pleasure to themselves or their hearers. This last objection is, however, frivolous, for the speeches will be printed in the Record; and it is as easy to count women on a vote as men. There is nothing in the objection, either, that the Chamber would need to be remodeled, and the smoking-rooms be turned into Day Nurseries. The coming woman will not smoke, to be sure; neither will she, in coming forward to take charge of the government, plead the Baby Act. Only those women, we are told, would be elected to Congress whose age and position enable them to devote themselves exclusively to politics. The question, therefore, of taking to themselves the Senate or the House will be decided by the women themselves upon other grounds—as to whether they wish to take the initiative in legislation and hold the power of the purse, or whether they prefer to act as a check, to exercise the high treaty-making power, and to have a voice in selecting the women who shall be sent to represent us abroad. Other things being equal, women will naturally select the Upper House, and especially as that will give them an opportunity to reject any but the most competent women for the Supreme Bench. The irreverent scoffers at our Supreme Court have in the past complained (though none do now) that there were “old women” in gowns on the bench. There would be no complaint of the kind in the future. The judges would be as pretty as those who assisted in the judgment of Paris, with changed functions; there would be no monotony in the dress, and the Supreme Bench would be one of the most attractive spectacles in Washington. When the judges as well as the advocates are Portias, the law will be an agreeable occupation.

This is, however, mere speculation. We do not understand that it is the immediate purpose of women to take the whole government, though some extravagant expectations are raised by the admission of new States that are ruled by women. They may wish to divide—and conquer. One plan is, instead of dual Chambers of opposite sexes, to mingle in both the Senate and the House. And this is more likely to be the plan adopted, because the revolution is not to be violent, and, indeed, cannot take place without some readjustment of the home life. We have at present what Charles Reade would have called only a right-handed civilization. To speak metaphorically, men cannot use their left hands, or, to drop the metaphor, before the government can be fully reorganized men must learn to do women's work. It may be a fair inference from this movement that women intend to abandon the sacred principle of Home Rule. This abandonment is foreshadowed in a recent election in a small Western city, where the female voters made a clean sweep, elected an entire city council of women and most of the other officers, including the police judge and the mayor. The latter lady, by one of those intrusions of nature which reform is not yet able to control, became a mother and a mayor the same week. Her husband had been city clerk, and held over; but fortunately an arrangement was made with him to stay at home and take care of the baby, unofficially, while the mayor attends to her public duties. Thus the city clerk will gradually be initiated into the duties of home rule, and when the mayor is elected to Congress he will be ready to accompany her to Washington and keep house. The imagination likes to dwell upon this, for the new order is capable of infinite extension. When the State takes care of all the children in government nurseries, and the mayor has taken her place in the United States Senate, her husband, if he has become sufficiently reformed and feminized, may go to the House, and the reunited family of two, clubbing their salaries, can live in great comfort.

All this can be easily arranged, whether we are to have a dual government of sexes or a mixed House and Senate. The real difficulty is about a single Executive. Neither sex will be willing to yield to the other this vast power. We might elect a man and wife President and Vice-President, but the Vice-President, of whatever sex, could not well preside over the Senate and in the White House at the same time. It is true that the Constitution provides that the President and Vice-President shall not be of the same State, but residence can be acquired to get over this as easily as to obtain a divorce; and a Constitution that insists upon speaking of the President as “he” is too antiquated to be respected. When the President is a woman, it can matter little whether her husband or some other woman presides in the Senate. Even the reformers will hardly insist upon two Presidents in order to carry out the equality idea, so that we are probably anticipating difficulties that will not occur in practice.

The Drawer has only one more practical suggestion. As the right of voting carries with it the right to hold any elective office, a great change must take place in Washington life. Now for some years the divergence of society and politics has been increasing at the capital. With women in both Houses, and on the Supreme Bench, and at the heads of the departments, social and political life will become one and the same thing; receptions and afternoon teas will be held in the Senate and House, and political caucuses in all the drawing-rooms. And then life will begin to be interesting.


The shyness of man—meaning the “other sex” referred to in the woman's journals—has often been noticed in novels, and sometimes in real life. This shyness is, however, so exceptional as to be suspicious. The shy young man may provoke curiosity, but he does not always inspire respect. Roughly estimated, shyness is not considered a manly quality, while it is one of the most pleasing and attractive of the feminine traits, and there is something pathetic in the expression “He is as shy as a girl;” it may appeal for sympathy and the exercise of the protective instinct in women. Unfortunately it is a little discredited, so many of the old plays turning upon its assumption by young blades who are no better than they should be.

What would be the effect upon the masculine character and comfort if this shyness should become general, as it may in a contingency that is already on the horizon? We refer, of course, to the suggestion, coming from various quarters, that women should propose. The reasonableness of this suggestion may not lie on the surface; it may not be deduced from the uniform practice, beginning with the primitive men and women; it may not be inferred from the open nature of the two sexes (for the sake of argument two sexes must still be insisted on); but it is found in the advanced civilization with which we are struggling. Why should not women propose? Why should they be at a disadvantage in an affair which concerns the happiness of the whole life? They have as much right to a choice as men, and to an opportunity to exercise it. Why should they occupy a negative position, and be restricted, in making the most important part of their career, wholly to the choice implied in refusals? In fact, marriage really concerns them more than it does men; they have to bear the chief of its burdens. A wide and free choice for them would, then, seem to be only fair. Undeniably a great many men are inattentive, unobserving, immersed in some absorbing pursuit, undecided, and at times bashful, and liable to fall into union with women who happen to be near them, rather than with those who are conscious that they would make them the better wives. Men, unaided by the finer feminine instincts of choice, are so apt to be deceived. In fact, man's inability to “match” anything is notorious. If he cannot be trusted in the matter of worsted-work, why should he have such distinctive liberty in the most important matter of his life? Besides, there are many men—and some of the best who get into a habit of not marrying at all, simply because the right woman has not presented herself at the right time. Perhaps, if women had the open privilege of selection, many a good fellow would be rescued from miserable isolation, and perhaps also many a noble woman whom chance, or a stationary position, or the inertia of the other sex, has left to bloom alone, and waste her sweetness on relations, would be the centre of a charming home, furnishing the finest spectacle seen in this uphill world —a woman exercising gracious hospitality, and radiating to a circle far beyond her home the influence of her civilizing personality. For, notwithstanding all the centrifugal forces of this age, it is probable that the home will continue to be the fulcrum on which women will move the world.

It may be objected that it would be unfair to add this opportunity to the already, overpowering attractions of woman, and that man would be put at an immense disadvantage, since he might have too much gallantry, or not enough presence of mind, to refuse a proposal squarely and fascinatingly made, although his judgment scarcely consented, and his ability to support a wife were more than doubtful. Women would need to exercise a great deal of prudence and discretion, or there would be something like a panic, and a cry along the male line of 'Sauve qui peut'; for it is matter of record that the bravest men will sometimes run away from danger on a sudden impulse.

This prospective social revolution suggests many inquiries. What would be the effect upon the female character and disposition of a possible, though not probable, refusal, or of several refusals? Would she become embittered and desperate, and act as foolishly as men often do? Would her own sex be considerate, and give her a fair field if they saw she was paying attention to a young man, or an old one? And what effect would this change in relations have upon men? Would it not render that sporadic shyness of which we have spoken epidemic? Would it frighten men, rendering their position less stable in their own eyes, or would it feminize them—that is, make them retiring, blushing, self-conscious beings? And would this change be of any injury to them in their necessary fight for existence in this pushing world? What would be the effect upon courtship if both the men and the women approached each other as wooers? In ordinary transactions one is a buyer and one is a seller—to put it coarsely. If seller met seller and buyer met buyer, trade would languish. But this figure cannot be continued, for there is no romance in a bargain of any sort; and what we should most fear in a scientific age is the loss of romance.

This is, however, mere speculation. The serious aspect of the proposed change is the effect it will have upon the character of men, who are not enough considered in any of these discussions. The revolution will be a radical one in one respect. We may admit that in the future woman can take care of herself, but how will it be with man, who has had little disciplinary experience of adversity, simply because he has been permitted to have his own way? Heretofore his life has had a stimulus. When he proposes to a woman, he in fact says: “I am able to support you; I am able to protect you from the rough usage of the world; I am strong and ambitious, and eager to take upon myself the lovely bondage of this responsibility. I offer you this love because I feel the courage and responsibility of my position.” That is the manly part of it. What effect will it have upon his character to be waiting round, unselected and undecided, until some woman comes to him, and fixes her fascinating eyes upon him, and says, in effect: “I can support you; I can defend you. Have no fear of the future; I will be at once your shield and your backbone. I take the responsibility of my choice.” There are a great many men now, who have sneaked into their positions by a show of courage, who are supported one way and another by women. It might be humiliating to know just how many men live by the labors of their wives. And what would be the effect upon the character of man if the choice, and the responsibility of it, and the support implied by it in marriage, were generally transferred to woman?


The condescension to literature and to the stage is one of the notable characteristics of this agreeable time. We have to admit that literature is rather the fashion, without the violent presumption that the author and the writer have the same social position that is conferred by money, or by the mysterious virtue there is in pedigree. A person does not lose caste by using the pen, or even by taking the not-needed pay for using it. To publish a book or to have an article accepted by a magazine may give a sort of social distinction, either as an exhibition of a certain unexpected capacity or a social eccentricity. It is hardly too much to say that it has become the fashion to write, as it used to be to dance the minuet well, or to use the broadsword, or to stand a gentlemanly mill with a renowned bruiser. Of course one ought not to do this professionally exactly, ought not to prepare for doing it by study and severe discipline, by training for it as for a trade, but simply to toss it off easily, as one makes a call, or pays a compliment, or drives four-in-hand. One does not need to have that interior impulse which drives a poor devil of an author to express himself, that something to say which torments the poet into extreme irritability unless he can be rid of it, that noble hunger for fame which comes from a consciousness of the possession of vital thought and emotion.

The beauty of this condescension to literature of which we speak is that it has that quality of spontaneity that does not presuppose either a capacity or a call. There is no mystery about the craft. One resolves to write a book, as he might to take a journey or to practice on the piano, and the thing is done. Everybody can write, at least everybody does write. It is a wonderful time for literature. The Queen of England writes for it, the Queen of Roumania writes for it, the Shah of Persia writes for it, Lady Brassey, the yachtswoman, wrote for it, Congressmen write for it, peers write for it. The novel is the common recreation of ladies of rank, and where is the young woman in this country who has not tried her hand at a romance or made a cast at a popular magazine? The effect of all this upon literature is expansive and joyous. Superstition about any mystery in the art has nearly disappeared. It is a common observation that if persons fail in everything else, if they are fit for nothing else, they can at least write. It is such an easy occupation, and the remuneration is in such disproportion to the expenditure! Isn't it indeed the golden era of letters? If only the letters were gold!

If there is any such thing remaining as a guild of authors, somewhere on the back seats, witnessing this marvelous Kingdom Come of Literature, there must also be a little bunch of actors, born for the stage, who see with mixed feelings their arena taken possession of by fairer if not more competent players. These players are not to be confounded with the play-actors whom the Puritans denounced, nor with those trained to the profession in the French capital.

In the United States and in England we are born to enter upon any avocation, thank Heaven! without training for it. We have not in this country any such obstacle to universal success as the Theatre Francais, but Providence has given us, for wise purposes no doubt, Private Theatricals (not always so private as they should be), which domesticate the drama, and supply the stage with some of the most beautiful and best dressed performers the world has ever seen. Whatever they may say of it, it is a gallant and a susceptible age, and all men bow to loveliness, and all women recognize a talent for clothes. We do not say that there is not such a thing as dramatic art, and that there are not persons who need as severe training before they attempt to personate nature in art as the painter must undergo who attempts to transfer its features to his canvas. But the taste of the age must be taken into account. The public does not demand that an actor shall come in at a private door and climb a steep staircase to get to the stage. When a Star from the Private Theatricals descends upon the boards, with the arms of Venus and the throat of Juno, and a wardrobe got out of Paris and through our stingy Custom-house in forty trunks, the plodding actor, who has depended upon art, finds out, what he has been all the time telling us, that all the world's a stage, and men and women merely players. Art is good in its way; but what about a perfect figure? and is not dressing an art? Can training give one an elegant form, and study command the services of a man milliner? The stage is broadened out and re-enforced by a new element. What went ye out for to see?

A person clad in fine raiment, to be sure. Some of the critics may growl a little, and hint at the invasion of art by fashionable life, but the editor, whose motto is that the newspaper is made for man, not man for the newspaper, understands what is required in this inspiring histrionic movement, and when a lovely woman condescends to step from the drawing-room to the stage he confines his descriptions to her person, and does not bother about her capacity; and instead of wearying us with a list of her plays and performances, he gives us a column about her dresses in beautiful language that shows us how closely allied poetry is to tailoring. Can the lady act? Why, simpleminded, she has nearly a hundred frocks, each one a dream, a conception of genius, a vaporous idea, one might say, which will reveal more beauty than it hides, and teach the spectator that art is simply nature adorned. Rachel in all her glory was not adorned like one of these. We have changed all that. The actress used to have a rehearsal. She now has an “opening.” Does it require nowadays, then, no special talent or gift to go on the stage? No more, we can assure our readers, than it does to write a book. But homely people and poor people can write books. As yet they cannot act.


Christmas is supposed to be an altruistic festival. Then, if ever, we allow ourselves to go out to others in sympathy expressed by gifts and good wishes. Then self-forgetfulness in the happiness of others becomes a temporary fashion. And we find—do we not?—the indulgence of the feeling so remunerative that we wish there were other days set apart to it. We can even understand those people who get a private satisfaction in being good on other days besides Sunday. There is a common notion that this Christmas altruistic sentiment is particularly shown towards the unfortunate and the dependent by those more prosperous, and in what is called a better social position. We are exhorted on this day to remember the poor. We need to be reminded rather to remember the rich, the lonely, not-easy-to-be-satisfied rich, whom we do not always have with us. The Drawer never sees a very rich person that it does not long to give him something, some token, the value of which is not estimated by its cost, that should be a consoling evidence to him that he has not lost sympathetic touch with ordinary humanity. There is a great deal of sympathy afloat in the world, but it is especially shown downward in the social scale. We treat our servants—supposing that we are society —better than we treat each other. If we did not, they would leave us. We are kinder to the unfortunate or the dependent than to each other, and we have more charity for them.

The Drawer is not indulging in any indiscriminate railing at society. There is society and society. There is that undefined something, more like a machine than an aggregate of human sensibilities, which is set going in a “season,” or at a watering-place, or permanently selects itself for certain social manifestations. It is this that needs a missionary to infuse into it sympathy and charity. If it were indeed a machine and not made up of sensitive personalities, it would not be to its members so selfish and cruel. It would be less an ambitious scramble for place and favor, less remorseless towards the unsuccessful, not so harsh and hard and supercilious. In short, it would be much more agreeable if it extended to its own members something of the consideration and sympathy that it gives to those it regards as its inferiors. It seems to think that good-breeding and good form are separable from kindliness and sympathy and helpfulness. Tender-hearted and charitable enough all the individuals of this “society” are to persons below them in fortune or position, let us allow, but how are they to each other? Nothing can be ruder or less considerate of the feelings of others than much of that which is called good society, and this is why the Drawer desires to turn the altruistic sentiment of the world upon it in this season, set apart by common consent for usefulness. Unfortunate are the fortunate if they are lifted into a sphere which is sapless of delicacy of feeling for its own. Is this an intangible matter? Take hospitality, for instance. Does it consist in astonishing the invited, in overwhelming him with a sense of your own wealth, or felicity, or family, or cleverness even; in trying to absorb him in your concerns, your successes, your possessions, in simply what interests you? However delightful all these may be, it is an offense to his individuality to insist that he shall admire at the point of the social bayonet. How do you treat the stranger? Do you adapt yourself and your surroundings to him, or insist that he shall adapt himself to you? How often does the stranger, the guest, sit in helpless agony in your circle (all of whom know each other) at table or in the drawing-room, isolated and separate, because all the talk is local and personal, about your little world, and the affairs of your clique, and your petty interests, in which he or she cannot possibly join? Ah! the Sioux Indian would not be so cruel as that to a guest. There is no more refined torture to a sensitive person than that. Is it only thoughtlessness? It is more than that. It is a want of sympathy of the heart, or it is a lack of intelligence and broad-minded interest in affairs of the world and in other people. It is this trait—absorption in self—pervading society more or less, that makes it so unsatisfactory to most people in it. Just a want of human interest; people do not come in contact.

Avid pursuit of wealth, or what is called pleasure, perhaps makes people hard to each other, and infuses into the higher social life, which should be the most unselfish and enjoyable life, a certain vulgarity, similar to that noticed in well-bred tourists scrambling for the seats on top of a mountain coach. A person of refinement and sensibility and intelligence, cast into the company of the select, the country-house, the radiant, twelve-button society, has been struck with infinite pity for it, and asks the Drawer to do something about it. The Drawer cannot do anything about it. It can only ask the prayers of all good people on Christmas Day for the rich. As we said, we do not have them with us always—they are here today, they are gone to Canada tomorrow. But this is, of course, current facetiousness. The rich are as good as anybody else, according to their lights, and if what is called society were as good and as kind to itself as it is to the poor, it would be altogether enviable. We are not of those who say that in this case, charity would cover a multitude of sins, but a diffusion in society of the Christmas sentiment of goodwill and kindliness to itself would tend to make universal the joy on the return of this season.


The Drawer would like to emphasize the noble, self-sacrificing spirit of American women. There are none like them in the world. They take up all the burdens of artificial foreign usage, where social caste prevails, and bear them with a heroism worthy of a worse cause. They indeed represent these usages to be a burden almost intolerable, and yet they submit to them with a grace and endurance all their own. Probably there is no harder-worked person than a lady in the season, let us say in Washington, where the etiquette of visiting is carried to a perfection that it does not reach even in New York, Boston, or Philadelphia, and where woman's effort to keep the social fabric together requires more expenditure of intellect and of physical force than was needed to protect the capital in its peril a quarter of a century ago. When this cruel war is over, the monument to the women who perished in it will need to be higher than that to the Father of his Country. Merely in the item of keeping an account of the visits paid and due, a woman needs a bookkeeper. Only to know the etiquette of how and when and to whom and in what order the visits are to be paid is to be well educated in a matter that assumes the first importance in her life. This is, however, only a detail of bookkeeping and of memory; to pay and receive, or evade, these visits of ceremony is a work which men can admire without the power to imitate; even on the supposition that a woman has nothing else to do, it calls for our humble gratitude and a recognition of the largeness of nature that can put aside any duties to husband or children in devotion to the public welfare. The futile round of society life while it lasts admits of no rival. It seems as important as the affairs of the government. The Drawer is far from saying that it is not. Perhaps no one can tell what confusion would fall into all the political relations if the social relations of the capital were not kept oiled by the system of exchange of fictitious courtesies among the women; and it may be true that society at large—men are so apt, when left alone, to relapse—would fall into barbarism if our pasteboard conventions were neglected. All honor to the self-sacrifice of woman!

What a beautiful civilization ours is, supposed to be growing in intelligence and simplicity, and yet voluntarily taking upon itself this artificial burden in an already overtaxed life! The angels in heaven must admire and wonder. The cynic wants to know what is gained for any rational being when a city-full of women undertake to make and receive formal visits with persons whom for the most part they do not wish to see. What is gained, he asks, by leaving cards with all these people and receiving their cards? When a woman makes her tedious rounds, why is she always relieved to find people not in? When she can count upon her ten fingers the people she wants to see, why should she pretend to want to see the others? Is any one deceived by it? Does anybody regard it as anything but a sham and a burden? Much the cynic knows about it! Is it not necessary to keep up what is called society? Is it not necessary to have an authentic list of pasteboard acquaintances to invite to the receptions? And what would become of us without Receptions? Everybody likes to give them. Everybody flocks to them with much alacrity. When society calls the roll, we all know the penalty of being left out. Is there any intellectual or physical pleasure equal to that of jamming so many people into a house that they can hardly move, and treating them to a Babel of noises in which no one can make herself heard without screaming? There is nothing like a reception in any uncivilized country. It is so exhilarating! When a dozen or a hundred people are gathered together in a room, they all begin to raise their voices and to shout like pool-sellers in the noble rivalry of “warious langwidges,” rasping their throats into bronchitis in the bidding of the conversational ring. If they spoke low, or even in the ordinary tone, conversation would be possible. But then it would not be a reception, as we understand it. We cannot neglect anywhere any of the pleasures of our social life. We train for it in lower assemblies. Half a dozen women in a “call” are obliged to shout, just for practice, so that they can be heard by everybody in the neighborhood except themselves. Do not men do the same? If they do, it only shows that men also are capable of the higher civilization.

But does society—that is, the intercourse of congenial people—depend upon the elaborate system of exchanging calls with hundreds of people who are not congenial? Such thoughts will sometimes come by a winter fireside of rational-talking friends, or at a dinner-party not too large for talk without a telephone, or in the summer-time by the sea, or in the cottage in the hills, when the fever of social life has got down to a normal temperature. We fancy that sometimes people will give way to a real enjoyment of life and that human intercourse will throw off this artificial and wearisome parade, and that if women look back with pride, as they may, upon their personal achievements and labors, they will also regard them with astonishment. Women, we read every day, long for the rights and privileges of men, and the education and serious purpose in life of men. And yet, such is the sweet self-sacrifice of their nature, they voluntarily take on burdens which men have never assumed, and which they would speedily cast off if they had. What should we say of men if they consumed half their time in paying formal calls upon each other merely for the sake of paying calls, and were low-spirited if they did not receive as many cards as they had dealt out to society? Have they not the time? Have women more time? and if they have, why should they spend it in this Sisyphus task? Would the social machine go to pieces—the inquiry is made in good faith, and solely for information—if they made rational business for themselves to be attended to, or even if they gave the time now given to calls they hate to reading and study, and to making their household civilizing centres of intercourse and enjoyment, and paid visits from some other motive than “clearing off their list”? If all the artificial round of calls and cards should tumble down, what valuable thing would be lost out of anybody's life?

The question is too vast for the Drawer, but as an experiment in sociology it would like to see the system in abeyance for one season. If at the end of it there had not been just as much social enjoyment as before, and there were not fewer women than usual down with nervous prostration, it would agree to start at its own expense a new experiment, to wit, a kind of Social Clearing-House, in which all cards should be delivered and exchanged, and all social debts of this kind be balanced by experienced bookkeepers, so that the reputation of everybody for propriety and conventionality should be just as good as it is now.


Many people suppose that it is the easiest thing in the world to dine if you can get plenty to eat. This error is the foundation of much social misery. The world that never dines, and fancies it has a grievance justifying anarchy on that account, does not know how much misery it escapes. A great deal has been written about the art of dining. From time to time geniuses have appeared who knew how to compose a dinner; indeed, the art of doing it can be learned, as well as the art of cooking and serving it. It is often possible, also, under extraordinarily favorable conditions, to select a company congenial and varied and harmonious enough to dine together successfully. The tact for getting the right people together is perhaps rarer than the art of composing the dinner. But it exists. And an elegant table with a handsome and brilliant company about it is a common conjunction in this country. Instructions are not wanting as to the shape of the table and the size of the party; it is universally admitted that the number must be small. The big dinner-parties which are commonly made to pay off social debts are generally of the sort that one would rather contribute to in money than in personal attendance. When the dinner is treated as a means of discharging obligations, it loses all character, and becomes one of the social inflictions. While there is nothing in social intercourse so agreeable and inspiring as a dinner of the right sort, society has invented no infliction equal to a large dinner that does not “go,” as the phrase is. Why it does not go when the viands are good and the company is bright is one of the acknowledged mysteries.

There need be no mystery about it. The social instinct and the social habit are wanting to a great many people of uncommon intelligence and cultivation—that sort of flexibility or adaptability that makes agreeable society. But this even does not account for the failure of so many promising dinners. The secret of this failure always is that the conversation is not general. The sole object of the dinner is talk—at least in the United States, where “good eating” is pretty common, however it may be in England, whence come rumors occasionally of accomplished men who decline to be interrupted by the frivolity of talk upon the appearance of favorite dishes. And private talk at a table is not the sort that saves a dinner; however good it is, it always kills it. The chance of arrangement is that the people who would like to talk together are not neighbors; and if they are, they exhaust each other to weariness in an hour, at least of topics which can be talked about with the risk of being overheard. A duet to be agreeable must be to a certain extent confidential, and the dinner-table duet admits of little except generalities, and generalities between two have their limits of entertainment. Then there is the awful possibility that the neighbors at table may have nothing to say to each other; and in the best-selected company one may sit beside a stupid man—that is, stupid for the purpose of a 'tete-a-tete'. But this is not the worst of it. No one can talk well without an audience; no one is stimulated to say bright things except by the attention and questioning and interest of other minds. There is little inspiration in side talk to one or two. Nobody ought to go to a dinner who is not a good listener, and, if possible, an intelligent one. To listen with a show of intelligence is a great accomplishment. It is not absolutely essential that there should be a great talker or a number of good talkers at a dinner if all are good listeners, and able to “chip in” a little to the general talk that springs up. For the success of the dinner does not necessarily depend upon the talk being brilliant, but it does depend upon its being general, upon keeping the ball rolling round the table; the old-fashioned game becomes flat when the balls all disappear into private pockets. There are dinners where the object seems to be to pocket all the balls as speedily as possible. We have learned that that is not the best game; the best game is when you not only depend on the carom, but in going to the cushion before you carom; that is to say, including the whole table, and making things lively. The hostess succeeds who is able to excite this general play of all the forces at the table, even using the silent but not non-elastic material as cushions, if one may continue the figure. Is not this, O brothers and sisters, an evil under the sun, this dinner as it is apt to be conducted? Think of the weary hours you have given to a rite that should be the highest social pleasure! How often when a topic is started that promises well, and might come to something in a general exchange of wit and fancy, and some one begins to speak on it, and speak very well, too, have you not had a lady at your side cut in and give you her views on it—views that might be amusing if thrown out into the discussion, but which are simply impertinent as an interruption! How often when you have tried to get a “rise” out of somebody opposite have you not had your neighbor cut in across you with some private depressing observation to your next neighbor! Private talk at a dinner-table is like private chat at a parlor musicale, only it is more fatal to the general enjoyment. There is a notion that the art of conversation, the ability to talk well, has gone out. That is a great mistake. Opportunity is all that is needed. There must be the inspiration of the clash of minds and the encouragement of good listening. In an evening round the fire, when couples begin, to whisper or talk low to each other, it is time to put out the lights. Inspiring interest is gone. The most brilliant talker in the world is dumb. People whose idea of a dinner is private talk between seat-neighbors should limit the company to two. They have no right to spoil what can be the most agreeable social institution that civilization has evolved.


Is it possible for a person to be entirely naturalized?—that is, to be denationalized, to cast off the prejudice and traditions of one country and take up those of another; to give up what may be called the instinctive tendencies of one race and take up those of another. It is easy enough to swear off allegiance to a sovereign or a government, and to take on in intention new political obligations, but to separate one's self from the sympathies into which he was born is quite another affair. One is likely to remain in the inmost recesses of his heart an alien, and as a final expression of his feeling to hoist the green flag, or the dragon, or the cross of St. George. Probably no other sentiment is, so strong in a man as that of attachment to his own soil and people, a sub-sentiment always remaining, whatever new and unbreakable attachments he may form. One can be very proud of his adopted country, and brag for it, and fight for it; but lying deep in a man's nature is something, no doubt, that no oath nor material interest can change, and that is never naturalized. We see this experiment in America more than anywhere else, because here meet more different races than anywhere else with the serious intention of changing their nationality. And we have a notion that there is something in our atmosphere, or opportunities, or our government, that makes this change more natural and reasonable than it has been anywhere else in history. It is always a surprise to us when a born citizen of the United States changes his allegiance, but it seems a thing of course that a person of any other country should, by an oath, become a good American, and we expect that the act will work a sudden change in him equal to that wrought in a man by what used to be called a conviction of sin. We expect that he will not only come into our family, but that he will at once assume all its traditions and dislikes, that whatever may have been his institutions or his race quarrels, the moving influence of his life hereafter will be the “Spirit of '76.”

What is this naturalization, however, but a sort of parable of human life? Are we not always trying to adjust ourselves to new relations, to get naturalized into a new family? Does one ever do it entirely? And how much of the lonesomeness of life comes from the failure to do it! It is a tremendous experiment, we all admit, to separate a person from his race, from his country, from his climate, and the habits of his part of the country, by marriage; it is only an experiment differing in degree to introduce him by marriage into a new circle of kinsfolk. Is he ever anything but a sort of tolerated, criticised, or admired alien? Does the time ever come when the distinction ceases between his family and hers? They say love is stronger than death. It may also be stronger than family—while it lasts; but was there ever a woman yet whose most ineradicable feeling was not the sentiment of family and blood, a sort of base-line in life upon which trouble and disaster always throw her back? Does she ever lose the instinct of it? We used to say in jest that a patriotic man was always willing to sacrifice his wife's relations in war; but his wife took a different view of it; and when it becomes a question of office, is it not the wife's relations who get them? To be sure, Ruth said, thy people shall be my people, and where thou goest I will go, and all that, and this beautiful sentiment has touched all time, and man has got the historic notion that he is the head of things. But is it true that a woman is ever really naturalized? Is it in her nature to be? Love will carry her a great way, and to far countries, and to many endurances, and her capacity of self-sacrifice is greater than man's; but would she ever be entirely happy torn from her kindred, transplanted from the associations and interlacings of her family life? Does anything really take the place of that entire ease and confidence that one has in kin, or the inborn longing for their sympathy and society? There are two theories about life, as about naturalization: one is that love is enough, that intention is enough; the other is that the whole circle of human relations and attachments is to be considered in a marriage, and that in the long-run the question of family is a preponderating one. Does the gate of divorce open more frequently from following the one theory than the other? If we were to adopt the notion that marriage is really a tremendous act of naturalization, of absolute surrender on one side or the other of the deepest sentiments and hereditary tendencies, would there be so many hasty marriages—slip-knots tied by one justice to be undone by another? The Drawer did not intend to start such a deep question as this. Hosts of people are yearly naturalized in this country, not from any love of its institutions, but because they can more easily get a living here, and they really surrender none of their hereditary ideas, and it is only human nature that marriages should be made with like purpose and like reservations. These reservations do not, however, make the best citizens or the most happy marriages. Would it be any better if country lines were obliterated, and the great brotherhood of peoples were established, and there was no such thing as patriotism or family, and marriage were as free to make and unmake as some people think it should be? Very likely, if we could radically change human nature. But human nature is the most obstinate thing that the International Conventions have to deal with.


He was saying, when he awoke one morning, “I wish I were governor of a small island, and had nothing to do but to get up and govern.” It was an observation quite worthy of him, and one of general application, for there are many men who find it very difficult to get a living on their own resources, to whom it would be comparatively easy to be a very fair sort of governor. Everybody who has no official position or routine duty on a salary knows that the most trying moment in the twenty-four hours is that in which he emerges from the oblivion of sleep and faces life. Everything perplexing tumbles in upon him, all the possible vexations of the day rise up before him, and he is little less than a hero if he gets up cheerful.

It is not to be wondered at that people crave office, some salaried position, in order to escape the anxieties, the personal responsibilities, of a single-handed struggle with the world. It must be much easier to govern an island than to carry on almost any retail business. When the governor wakes in the morning he thinks first of his salary; he has not the least anxiety about his daily bread or the support of his family. His business is all laid out for him; he has not to create it. Business comes to him; he does not have to drum for it. His day is agreeably, even if sympathetically, occupied with the troubles of other people, and nothing is so easy to bear as the troubles of other people. After he has had his breakfast, and read over the “Constitution,” he has nothing to do but to “govern” for a few hours, that is, to decide about things on general principles, and with little personal application, and perhaps about large concerns which nobody knows anything about, and which are much easier to dispose of than the perplexing details of private life. He has to vote several times a day; for giving a decision is really casting a vote; but that is much easier than to scratch around in all the anxieties of a retail business. Many men who would make very respectable Presidents of the United States could not successfully run a retail grocery store. The anxieties of the grocery would wear them out. For consider the varied ability that the grocery requires-the foresight about the markets, to take advantage of an eighth per cent. off or on here and there; the vigilance required to keep a “full line” and not overstock, to dispose of goods before they spoil or the popular taste changes; the suavity and integrity and duplicity and fairness and adaptability needed to get customers and keep them; the power to bear the daily and hourly worry; the courage to face the ever-present spectre of “failure,” which is said to come upon ninety merchants in a hundred; the tact needed to meet the whims and the complaints of patrons, and the difficulty of getting the patrons who grumble most to pay in order to satisfy the creditors. When the retail grocer wakens in the morning he feels that his business is not going to come to him spontaneously; he thinks of his rivals, of his perilous stock, of his debts and delinquent customers. He has no “Constitution” to go by, nothing but his wits and energy to set against the world that day, and every day the struggle and the anxiety are the same. What a number of details he has to carry in his head (consider, for instance, how many different kinds of cheese there are, and how different people hate and love the same kind), and how keen must be his appreciation of the popular taste. The complexities and annoyances of his business are excessive, and he cannot afford to make many mistakes; if he does he will lose his business, and when a man fails in business (honestly), he loses his nerve, and his career is ended. It is simply amazing, when you consider it, the amount of talent shown in what are called the ordinary businesses of life.

It has been often remarked with how little wisdom the world is governed. That is the reason it is so easy to govern. “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” does not refer to the discomfort of wearing it, but to the danger of losing it, and of being put back upon one's native resources, having to run a grocery or to keep school. Nobody is in such a pitiable plight as a monarch or politician out of business. It is very difficult for either to get a living. A man who has once enjoyed the blessed feeling of awaking every morning with the thought that he has a certain salary despises the idea of having to drum up a business by his own talents. It does not disturb the waking hour at all to think that a deputation is waiting in the next room about a post-office in Indiana or about the codfish in Newfoundland waters—the man can take a second nap on any such affair; but if he knows that the living of himself and family that day depends upon his activity and intelligence, uneasy lies his head. There is something so restful and easy about public business! It is so simple! Take the average Congressman. The Secretary of the Treasury sends in an elaborate report—a budget, in fact—involving a complete and harmonious scheme of revenue and expenditure. Must the Congressman read it? No; it is not necessary to do that; he only cares for practical measures. Or a financial bill is brought in. Does he study that bill? He hears it read, at least by title. Does he take pains to inform himself by reading and conversation with experts upon its probable effect? Or an international copyright law is proposed, a measure that will relieve the people of the United States from the world-wide reputation of sneaking meanness towards foreign authors. Does he examine the subject, and try to understand it? That is not necessary. Or it is a question of tariff. He is to vote “yes” or “no” on these proposals. It is not necessary for him to master these subjects, but it is necessary for him to know how to vote. And how does he find out that? In the first place, by inquiring what effect the measure will have upon the chance of election of the man he thinks will be nominated for President, and in the second place, what effect his vote will have on his own reelection. Thus the principles of legislation become very much simplified, and thus it happens that it is comparatively so much easier to govern than it is to run a grocery store.


It is fortunate that a passion for display is implanted in human nature; and if we owe a debt of gratitude to anybody, it is to those who make the display for us. It would be such a dull, colorless world without it! We try in vain to imagine a city without brass bands, and military marchings, and processions of societies in regalia and banners and resplendent uniforms, and gayly caparisoned horses, and men clad in red and yellow and blue and gray and gold and silver and feathers, moving in beautiful lines, proudly wheeling with step elate upon some responsive human being as axis, deploying, opening, and closing ranks in exquisite precision to the strains of martial music, to the thump of the drum and the scream of the fife, going away down the street with nodding plumes, heads erect, the very port of heroism. There is scarcely anything in the world so inspiring as that. And the self-sacrifice of it! What will not men do and endure to gratify their fellows! And in the heat of summer, too, when most we need something to cheer us! The Drawer saw, with feelings that cannot be explained, a noble company of men, the pride of their city, all large men, all fat men, all dressed alike, but each one as beautiful as anything that can be seen on the stage, perspiring through the gala streets of another distant city, the admiration of crowds of huzzaing men and women and boys, following another company as resplendent as itself, every man bearing himself like a hero, despising the heat and the dust, conscious only of doing his duty. We make a great mistake if we suppose it is a feeling of ferocity that sets these men tramping about in gorgeous uniform, in mud or dust, in rain or under a broiling sun. They have no desire to kill anybody. Out of these resplendent clothes they are much like other people; only they have a nobler spirit, that which leads them to endure hardships for the sake of pleasing others. They differ in degree, though not in kind, from those orders, for keeping secrets, or for encouraging a distaste for strong drink, which also wear bright and attractive regalia, and go about in processions, with banners and music, and a pomp that cannot be distinguished at a distance from real war. It is very fortunate that men do like to march about in ranks and lines, even without any distinguishing apparel. The Drawer has seen hundreds of citizens in a body, going about the country on an excursion, parading through town after town, with no other distinction of dress than a uniform high white hat, who carried joy and delight wherever they went. The good of this display cannot be reckoned in figures. Even a funeral is comparatively dull without the military band and the four-and-four processions, and the cities where these resplendent corteges of woes are of daily occurrence are cheerful cities. The brass band itself, when we consider it philosophically, is one of the most striking things in our civilization. We admire its commonly splendid clothes, its drums and cymbals and braying brass, but it is the impartial spirit with which it lends itself to our varying wants that distinguishes it. It will not do to say that it has no principles, for nobody has so many, or is so impartial in exercising them. It is equally ready to play at a festival or a funeral, a picnic or an encampment, for the sons of war or the sons of temperance, and it is equally willing to express the feeling of a Democratic meeting or a Republican gathering, and impartially blows out “Dixie” or “Marching through Georgia,” “The Girl I Left Behind Me” or “My Country, 'tis of Thee.” It is equally piercing and exciting for St. Patrick or the Fourth of July.

There are cynics who think it strange that men are willing to dress up in fantastic uniform and regalia and march about in sun and rain to make a holiday for their countrymen, but the cynics are ungrateful, and fail to credit human nature with its trait of self-sacrifice, and they do not at all comprehend our civilization. It was doubted at one time whether the freedman and the colored man generally in the republic was capable of the higher civilization. This doubt has all been removed. No other race takes more kindly to martial and civic display than it. No one has a greater passion for societies and uniforms and regalias and banners, and the pomp of marchings and processions and peaceful war. The negro naturally inclines to the picturesque, to the flamboyant, to vivid colors and the trappings of office that give a man distinction. He delights in the drum and the trumpet, and so willing is he to add to what is spectacular and pleasing in life that he would spend half his time in parading. His capacity for a holiday is practically unlimited. He has not yet the means to indulge his taste, and perhaps his taste is not yet equal to his means, but there is no question of his adaptability to the sort of display which is so pleasing to the greater part of the human race, and which contributes so much to the brightness and cheerfulness of this world. We cannot all have decorations, and cannot all wear uniforms, or even regalia, and some of us have little time for going about in military or civic processions, but we all like to have our streets put on a holiday appearance; and we cannot express in words our gratitude to those who so cheerfully spend their time and money in glittering apparel and in parades for our entertainment.


The vitality of a fallacy is incalculable. Although the Drawer has been going many years, there are still remaining people who believe that “things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” This mathematical axiom, which is well enough in its place, has been extended into the field of morals and social life, confused the perception of human relations, and raised “hob,” as the saying is, in political economy. We theorize and legislate as if people were things. Most of the schemes of social reorganization are based on this fallacy. It always breaks down in experience. A has two friends, B and C—to state it mathematically. A is equal to B, and A is equal to C. A has for B and also for C the most cordial admiration and affection, and B and C have reciprocally the same feeling for A. Such is the harmony that A cannot tell which he is more fond of, B or C. And B and C are sure that A is the best friend of each. This harmony, however, is not triangular. A makes the mistake of supposing that it is—having a notion that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other—and he brings B and C together. The result is disastrous. B and C cannot get on with each other. Regard for A restrains their animosity, and they hypocritically pretend to like each other, but both wonder what A finds so congenial in the other. The truth is that this personal equation, as we call it, in each cannot be made the subject of mathematical calculation. Human relations will not bend to it. And yet we keep blundering along as if they would. We are always sure, in our letter of introduction, that this friend will be congenial to the other, because we are fond of both. Sometimes this happens, but half the time we should be more successful in bringing people into accord if we gave a letter of introduction to a person we do not know, to be delivered to one we have never seen. On the face of it this is as absurd as it is for a politician to indorse the application of a person he does not know for an office the duties of which he is unacquainted with; but it is scarcely less absurd than the expectation that men and women can be treated like mathematical units and equivalents. Upon the theory that they can, rest the present grotesque schemes of Nationalism.

In saying all this the Drawer is well aware that it subjects itself to the charge of being commonplace, but it is precisely the commonplace that this essay seeks to defend. Great is the power of the commonplace. “My friends,” says the preacher, in an impressive manner, “Alexander died; Napoleon died; you will all die!” This profound remark, so true, so thoughtful, creates a deep sensation. It is deepened by the statement that “man is a moral being.” The profundity of such startling assertions cows the spirit; they appeal to the universal consciousness, and we bow to the genius that delivers them. “How true!” we exclaim, and go away with an enlarged sense of our own capacity for the comprehension of deep thought. Our conceit is flattered. Do we not like the books that raise us to the great level of the commonplace, whereon we move with a sense of power? Did not Mr. Tupper, that sweet, melodious shepherd of the undisputed, lead about vast flocks of sheep over the satisfying plain of mediocrity? Was there ever a greater exhibition of power, while it lasted? How long did “The Country Parson” feed an eager world with rhetorical statements of that which it already knew? The thinner this sort of thing is spread out, the more surface it covers, of course. What is so captivating and popular as a book of essays which gathers together and arranges a lot of facts out of histories and cyclopaedias, set forth in the form of conversations that any one could have taken part in? Is not this book pleasing because it is commonplace? And is this because we do not like to be insulted with originality, or because in our experience it is only the commonly accepted which is true? The statesman or the poet who launches out unmindful of these conditions will be likely to come to grief in her generation. Will not the wise novelist seek to encounter the least intellectual resistance?

Should one take a cynical view of mankind because he perceives this great power of the commonplace? Not at all. He should recognize and respect this power. He may even say that it is this power that makes the world go on as smoothly and contentedly as it does, on the whole. Woe to us, is the thought of Carlyle, when a thinker is let loose in this world! He becomes a cause of uneasiness, and a source of rage very often. But his power is limited. He filters through a few minds, until gradually his ideas become commonplace enough to be powerful. We draw our supply of water from reservoirs, not from torrents. Probably the man who first said that the line of rectitude corresponds with the line of enjoyment was disliked as well as disbelieved. But how impressive now is the idea that virtue and happiness are twins!

Perhaps it is true that the commonplace needs no defense, since everybody takes it in as naturally as milk, and thrives on it. Beloved and read and followed is the writer or the preacher of commonplace. But is not the sunshine common, and the bloom of May? Why struggle with these things in literature and in life? Why not settle down upon the formula that to be platitudinous is to be happy?


It would be the pity of the world to destroy it, because it would be next to impossible to make another holiday as good as Christmas. Perhaps there is no danger, but the American people have developed an unexpected capacity for destroying things; they can destroy anything. They have even invented a phrase for it—running a thing into the ground. They have perfected the art of making so much of a thing as to kill it; they can magnify a man or a recreation or an institution to death. And they do it with such a hearty good-will and enjoyment. Their motto is that you cannot have too much of a good thing. They have almost made funerals unpopular by over-elaboration and display, especially what are called public funerals, in which an effort is made to confer great distinction on the dead. So far has it been carried often that there has been a reaction of popular sentiment and people have wished the man were alive. We prosecute everything so vigorously that we speedily either wear it out or wear ourselves out on it, whether it is a game, or a festival, or a holiday. We can use up any sport or game ever invented quicker than any other people. We can practice anything, like a vegetable diet, for instance, to an absurd conclusion with more vim than any other nation. This trait has its advantages; nowhere else will a delusion run so fast, and so soon run up a tree—another of our happy phrases. There is a largeness and exuberance about us which run even into our ordinary phraseology. The sympathetic clergyman, coming from the bedside of a parishioner dying of dropsy, says, with a heavy sigh, “The poor fellow is just swelling away.”

Is Christmas swelling away? If it is not, it is scarcely our fault. Since the American nation fairly got hold of the holiday—in some parts of the country, as in New England, it has been universal only about fifty years—we have made it hum, as we like to say. We have appropriated the English conviviality, the German simplicity, the Roman pomp, and we have added to it an element of expense in keeping with our own greatness. Is anybody beginning to feel it a burden, this sweet festival of charity and good-will, and to look forward to it with apprehension? Is the time approaching when we shall want to get somebody to play it for us, like base-ball? Anything that interrupts the ordinary flow of life, introduces into it, in short, a social cyclone that upsets everything for a fortnight, may in time be as hard to bear as that festival of housewives called housecleaning, that riot of cleanliness which men fear as they do a panic in business. Taking into account the present preparations for Christmas, and the time it takes to recover from it, we are beginning—are we not?—to consider it one of the most serious events of modern life.

The Drawer is led into these observations out of its love for Christmas. It is impossible to conceive of any holiday that could take its place, nor indeed would it seem that human wit could invent another so adapted to humanity. The obvious intention of it is to bring together, for a season at least, all men in the exercise of a common charity and a feeling of good-will, the poor and the rich, the successful and the unfortunate, that all the world may feel that in the time called the Truce of God the thing common to all men is the best thing in life. How will it suit this intention, then, if in our way of exaggerated ostentation of charity the distinction between rich and poor is made to appear more marked than on ordinary days? Blessed are those that expect nothing. But are there not an increasing multitude of persons in the United States who have the most exaggerated expectations of personal profit on Christmas Day? Perhaps it is not quite so bad as this, but it is safe to say that what the children alone expect to receive, in money value would absorb the national surplus, about which so much fuss is made. There is really no objection to this—the terror of the surplus is a sort of nightmare in the country—except that it destroys the simplicity of the festival, and belittles small offerings that have their chief value in affection. And it points inevitably to the creation of a sort of Christmas “Trust”—the modern escape out of ruinous competition. When the expense of our annual charity becomes so great that the poor are discouraged from sharing in it, and the rich even feel it a burden, there would seem to be no way but the establishment of neighborhood “Trusts” in order to equalize both cost and distribution. Each family could buy a share according to its means, and the division on Christmas Day would create a universal satisfaction in profit sharing—that is, the rich would get as much as the poor, and the rivalry of ostentation would be quieted. Perhaps with the money question a little subdued, and the female anxieties of the festival allayed, there would be more room for the development of that sweet spirit of brotherly kindness, or all-embracing charity, which we know underlies this best festival of all the ages. Is this an old sermon? The Drawer trusts that it is, for there can be nothing new in the preaching of simplicity.


It is difficult enough to keep the world straight without the interposition of fiction. But the conduct of the novelists and the painters makes the task of the conservators of society doubly perplexing. Neither the writers nor the artists have a due sense of the responsibilities of their creations. The trouble appears to arise from the imitativeness of the race. Nature herself seems readily to fall into imitation. It was noticed by the friends of nature that when the peculiar coal-tar colors were discovered, the same faded, aesthetic, and sometimes sickly colors began to appear in the ornamental flower-beds and masses of foliage plants. It was hardly fancy that the flowers took the colors of the ribbons and stuffs of the looms, and that the same instant nature and art were sicklied o'er with the same pale hues of fashion. If this relation of nature and art is too subtle for comprehension, there is nothing fanciful in the influence of the characters in fiction upon social manners and morals. To convince ourselves of this, we do not need to recall the effect of Werther, of Childe Harold, and of Don Juan, and the imitation of their sentimentality, misanthropy, and adventure, down to the copying of the rakishness of the loosely-knotted necktie and the broad turn-over collar. In our own generation the heroes and heroines of fiction begin to appear in real life, in dress and manner, while they are still warm from the press. The popular heroine appears on the street in a hundred imitations as soon as the popular mind apprehends her traits in the story. We did not know the type of woman in the poems of the aesthetic school and on the canvas of Rossetti—the red-haired, wide-eyed child of passion and emotion, in lank clothes, enmeshed in spider-webs —but so quickly was she multiplied in real life that she seemed to have stepped from the book and the frame, ready-made, into the street and the drawing-room. And there is nothing wonderful about this. It is a truism to say that the genuine creations in fiction take their places in general apprehension with historical characters, and sometimes they live more vividly on the printed page and on canvas than the others in their pale, contradictory, and incomplete lives. The characters of history we seldom agree about, and are always reconstructing on new information; but the characters of fiction are subject to no such vicissitudes.

The importance of this matter is hardly yet perceived. Indeed, it is unreasonable that it should be, when parents, as a rule, have so slight a feeling of responsibility for the sort of children they bring into the world. In the coming scientific age this may be changed, and society may visit upon a grandmother the sins of her grandchildren, recognizing her responsibility to the very end of the line. But it is not strange that in the apathy on this subject the novelists should be careless and inconsiderate as to the characters they produce, either as ideals or examples. They know that the bad example is more likely to be copied than to be shunned, and that the low ideal, being easy to, follow, is more likely to be imitated than the high ideal. But the novelists have too little sense of responsibility in this respect, probably from an inadequate conception of their power. Perhaps the most harmful sinners are not those who send into the world of fiction the positively wicked and immoral, but those who make current the dull, the commonplace, and the socially vulgar. For most readers the wicked character is repellant; but the commonplace raises less protest, and is soon deemed harmless, while it is most demoralizing. An underbred book—that is, a book in which the underbred characters are the natural outcome of the author's own, mind and apprehension of life—is worse than any possible epidemic; for while the epidemic may kill a number of useless or vulgar people, the book will make a great number. The keen observer must have noticed the increasing number of commonplace, undiscriminating people of low intellectual taste in the United States. These are to a degree the result of the feeble, underbred literature (so called) that is most hawked about, and most accessible, by cost and exposure, to the greater number of people. It is easy to distinguish the young ladies—many of them beautifully dressed, and handsome on first acquaintance—who have been bred on this kind of book. They are betrayed by their speech, their taste, their manners. Yet there is a marked public insensibility about this. We all admit that the scrawny young woman, anaemic and physically undeveloped, has not had proper nourishing food: But we seldom think that the mentally-vulgar girl, poverty-stricken in ideas, has been starved by a thin course of diet on anaemic books. The girls are not to blame if they are as vapid and uninteresting as the ideal girls they have been associating with in the books they have read. The responsibility is with the novelist and the writer of stories, the chief characteristic of which is vulgar commonplace.

Probably when the Great Assize is held one of the questions asked will be, “Did you, in America, ever write stories for children?” What a quaking of knees there will be! For there will stand the victims of this sort of literature, who began in their tender years to enfeeble their minds with the wishy-washy flood of commonplace prepared for them by dull writers and commercial publishers, and continued on in those so-called domestic stories (as if domestic meant idiotic) until their minds were diluted to that degree that they could not act upon anything that offered the least resistance. Beginning with the pepsinized books, they must continue with them, and the dull appetite by-and-by must be stimulated with a spice of vulgarity or a little pepper of impropriety. And fortunately for their nourishment in this kind, the dullest writers can be indecent.

Unfortunately the world is so ordered that the person of the feeblest constitution can communicate a contagious disease. And these people, bred on this pabulum, in turn make books. If one, it is now admitted, can do nothing else in this world, he can write, and so the evil widens and widens. No art is required, nor any selection, nor any ideality, only capacity for increasing the vacuous commonplace in life. A princess born may have this, or the leader of cotillons. Yet in the judgment the responsibility will rest upon the writers who set the copy.


One of the burning questions now in the colleges for the higher education of women is whether the undergraduates shall wear the cap and gown. The subject is a delicate one, and should not be confused with the broader one, what is the purpose of the higher education? Some hold that the purpose is to enable a woman to dispense with marriage, while others maintain that it is to fit a woman for the higher duties of the married life. The latter opinion will probably prevail, for it has nature on its side, and the course of history, and the imagination. But meantime the point of education is conceded, and whether a girl is to educate herself into single or double blessedness need not interfere with the consideration of the habit she is to wear during her college life. That is to be determined by weighing a variety of reasons.

Not the least of these is the consideration whether the cap-and-gown habit is becoming. If it is not becoming, it will not go, not even by an amendment to the Constitution of the United States; for woman's dress obeys always the higher law. Masculine opinion is of no value on this point, and the Drawer is aware of the fact that if it thinks the cap and gown becoming, it may imperil the cap-and-gown cause to say so; but the cold truth is that the habit gives a plain girl distinction, and a handsome girl gives the habit distinction. So that, aside from the mysterious working of feminine motive, which makes woman a law unto herself, there should be practical unanimity in regard to this habit. There is in the cap and gown a subtle suggestion of the union of learning with womanly charm that is very captivating to the imagination. On the other hand, all this may go for nothing with the girl herself, who is conscious of the possession of quite other powers and attractions in a varied and constantly changing toilet, which can reflect her moods from hour to hour. So that if it is admitted that this habit is almost universally becoming today, it might, in the inscrutable depths of the feminine nature—the something that education never can and never should change—be irksome tomorrow, and we can hardly imagine what a blight to a young spirit there might be in three hundred and sixty-five days of uniformity.

The devotees of the higher education will perhaps need to approach the subject from another point of view—namely, what they are willing to surrender in order to come into a distinctly scholastic influence. The cap and gown are scholastic emblems. Primarily they marked the student, and not alliance with any creed or vows to any religious order. They belong to the universities of learning, and today they have no more ecclesiastic meaning than do the gorgeous robes of the Oxford chancellor and vice-chancellor and the scarlet hood. From the scholarly side, then, if not from the dress side, there is much to be said for the cap and gown. They are badges of devotion, for the time being, to an intellectual life.

They help the mind in its effort to set itself apart to unworldly pursuits; they are indications of separateness from the prevailing fashions and frivolities. The girl who puts on the cap and gown devotes herself to the society which is avowedly in pursuit of a larger intellectual sympathy and a wider intellectual life. The enduring of this habit will have a confirming influence on her purposes, and help to keep her up to them. It is like the uniform to the soldier or the veil to the nun—a sign of separation and devotion. It is difficult in this age to keep any historic consciousness, any proper relations to the past. In the cap and gown the girl will at least feel that she is in the line of the traditions of pure learning. And there is also something of order and discipline in the uniforming of a community set apart for an unworldly purpose. Is it believed that three or four years of the kind of separateness marked by this habit in the life of a girl will rob her of any desirable womanly quality?

The cap and gown are only an emphasis of the purpose to devote a certain period to the higher life, and if they cannot be defended, then we may begin to be skeptical about the seriousness of the intention of a higher education. If the school is merely a method of passing the time until a certain event in the girl's life, she had better dress as if that event were the only one worth considering. But if she wishes to fit herself for the best married life, she may not disdain the help of the cap and gown in devoting herself to the highest culture. Of course education has its dangers, and the regalia of scholarship may increase them. While our cap-and-gown divinity is walking in the groves of Academia, apart from the ways of men, her sisters outside may be dancing and dressing into the affections of the marriageable men. But this is not the worst of it. The university girl may be educating herself out of sympathy with the ordinary possible husband. But this will carry its own cure. The educated girl will be so much more attractive in the long-run, will have so many more resources for making a life companionship agreeable, that she will be more and more in demand. And the young men, even those not expecting to take up a learned profession, will see the advantage of educating themselves up to the cap-and-gown level. We know that it is the office of the university to raise the standard of the college, and of the college to raise the standard of the high school. It will be the inevitable result that these young ladies, setting themselves apart for a period to the intellectual life, will raise the standard of the young men, and of married life generally. And there is nothing supercilious in the invitation of the cap-and-gown brigade to the young men to come up higher.

There is one humiliating objection made to the cap and gown-made by members of the gentle sex themselves—which cannot be passed by. It is of such a delicate nature, and involves such a disparagement of the sex in a vital point, that the Drawer hesitates to put it in words. It is said that the cap and gown will be used to cover untidiness, to conceal the makeshift of a disorderly and unsightly toilet. Undoubtedly the cap and gown are democratic, adopted probably to equalize the appearance of rich and poor in the same institution, where all are on an intellectual level. Perhaps the sex is not perfect; it may be that there are slovens (it is a brutal word) in that sex which is our poetic image of purity. But a neat and self-respecting girl will no more be slovenly under a scholastic gown than under any outward finery. If it is true that the sex would take cover in this way, and is liable to run down at the heel when it has a chance, then to the “examination” will have to be added a periodic “inspection,” such as the West-Pointers submit to in regard to their uniforms. For the real idea of the cap and gown is to encourage discipline, order, and neatness. We fancy that it is the mission of woman in this generation to show the world that the tendency of woman to an intellectual life is not, as it used to be said it was, to untidy habits.


This ingenious age, when studied, seems not less remarkable for its division of labor than for the disposition of people to shift labor on to others' shoulders. Perhaps it is only another aspect of the spirit of altruism, a sort of backhanded vicariousness. In taking an inventory of tendencies, this demands some attention.

The notion appears to be spreading that there must be some way by which one can get a good intellectual outfit without much personal effort. There are many schemes of education which encourage this idea. If one could only hit upon the right “electives,” he could become a scholar with very little study, and without grappling with any of the real difficulties in the way of an education. It is no more a short-cut we desire, but a road of easy grades, with a locomotive that will pull our train along while we sit in a palace-car at ease. The discipline to be obtained by tackling an obstacle and overcoming it we think of small value. There must be some way of attaining the end of cultivation without much labor. We take readily to proprietary medicines. It is easier to dose with these than to exercise ordinary prudence about our health. And we readily believe the doctors of learning when they assure us that we can acquire a new language by the same method by which we can restore bodily vigor: take one small patent-right volume in six easy lessons, without even the necessity of “shaking,” and without a regular doctor, and we shall know the language. Some one else has done all the work for us, and we only need to absorb. It is pleasing to see how this theory is getting to be universally applied. All knowledge can be put into a kind of pemican, so that we can have it condensed. Everything must be chopped up, epitomized, put in short sentences, and italicized. And we have primers for science, for history, so that we can acquire all the information we need in this world in a few hasty bites. It is an admirable saving of time-saving of time being more important in this generation than the saving of ourselves.

And the age is so intellectually active, so eager to know! If we wish to know anything, instead of digging for it ourselves, it is much easier to flock all together to some lecturer who has put all the results into an hour, and perhaps can throw them all upon a screen, so that we can acquire all we want by merely using the eyes, and bothering ourselves little about what is said. Reading itself is almost too much of an effort. We hire people to read for us—to interpret, as we call it —Browning and Ibsen, even Wagner. Every one is familiar with the pleasure and profit of “recitations,” of “conversations” which are monologues. There is something fascinating in the scheme of getting others to do our intellectual labor for us, to attempt to fill up our minds as if they were jars. The need of the mind for nutriment is like the need of the body, but our theory is that it can be satisfied in a different way. There was an old belief that in order that we should enjoy food, and that it should perform its function of assimilation, we must work for it, and that the exertion needed to earn it brought the appetite that made it profitable to the system. We still have the idea that we must eat for ourselves, and that we cannot delegate this performance, as we do the filling of the mind, to some one else. We may have ceased to relish the act of eating, as we have ceased to relish the act of studying, but we cannot yet delegate it, even although our power of digesting food for the body has become almost as feeble as the power of acquiring and digesting food for the mind.

It is beautiful to witness our reliance upon others. The house may be full of books, the libraries may be as free and as unstrained of impurities as city water; but if we wish to read anything or study anything we resort to a club. We gather together a number of persons of like capacity with ourselves. A subject which we might grapple with and run down by a few hours of vigorous, absorbed attention in a library, gaining strength of mind by resolute encountering of difficulties, by personal effort, we sit around for a month or a season in a club, expecting somehow to take the information by effortless contiguity with it. A book which we could master and possess in an evening we can have read to us in a month in the club, without the least intellectual effort. Is there nothing, then, in the exchange of ideas? Oh yes, when there are ideas to exchange. Is there nothing stimulating in the conflict of mind with mind? Oh yes, when there is any mind for a conflict. But the mind does not grow without personal effort and conflict and struggle with itself. It is a living organism, and not at all like a jar or other receptacle for fluids. The physiologists say that what we eat will not do us much good unless we chew it. By analogy we may presume that the mind is not greatly benefited by what it gets without considerable exercise of the mind.

Still, it is a beautiful theory that we can get others to do our reading and thinking, and stuff our minds for us. It may be that psychology will yet show us how a congregate education by clubs may be the way. But just now the method is a little crude, and lays us open to the charge—which every intelligent person of this scientific age will repudiate—of being content with the superficial; for instance, of trusting wholly to others for our immortal furnishing, as many are satisfied with the review of a book for the book itself, or—a refinement on that—with a review of the reviews. The method is still crude. Perhaps we may expect a further development of the “slot” machine. By dropping a cent in the slot one can get his weight, his age, a piece of chewing-gum, a bit of candy, or a shock that will energize his nervous system. Why not get from a similar machine a “good business education,” or an “interpretation” of Browning, or a new language, or a knowledge of English literature? But even this would be crude. We have hopes of something from electricity. There ought to be somewhere a reservoir of knowledge, connected by wires with every house, and a professional switch-tender, who, upon the pressure of a button in any house, could turn on the intellectual stream desired. —[Prophecy of the Internet of the year 2000 from 110 years ago. D.W.] —There must be discovered in time a method by which not only information but intellectual life can be infused into the system by an electric current. It would save a world of trouble and expense. For some clubs even are a weariness, and it costs money to hire other people to read and think for us.


Either we have been indulging in an expensive mistake, or a great foreign novelist who preaches the gospel of despair is locoed.

This word, which may be new to most of our readers, has long been current in the Far West, and is likely to be adopted into the language, and become as indispensable as the typic words taboo and tabooed, which Herman Melville gave us some forty years ago. There grows upon the deserts and the cattle ranges of the Rockies a plant of the leguminosae family, with a purple blossom, which is called the 'loco'. It is sweet to the taste; horses and cattle are fond of it, and when they have once eaten it they prefer it to anything else, and often refuse other food. But the plant is poisonous, or, rather, to speak exactly, it is a weed of insanity. Its effect upon the horse seems to be mental quite as much as physical. He behaves queerly, he is full of whims; one would say he was “possessed.” He takes freaks, he trembles, he will not go in certain places, he will not pull straight, his mind is evidently affected, he is mildly insane. In point of fact, he is ruined; that is to say, he is 'locoed'. Further indulgence in the plant results in death, but rarely does an animal recover from even one eating of the insane weed.

The shepherd on the great sheep ranges leads an absolutely isolated life. For weeks, sometimes for months together, he does not see a human being. His only companions are his dogs and the three or four thousand sheep he is herding. All day long, under the burning sun, he follows the herd over the rainless prairie, as it nibbles here and there the short grass and slowly gathers its food. At night he drives the sheep back to the corral, and lies down alone in his hut. He speaks to no one; he almost forgets how to speak. Day and night he hears no sound except the melancholy, monotonous bleat, bleat of the sheep. It becomes intolerable. The animal stupidity of the herd enters into him. Gradually he loses his mind. They say that he is locoed. The insane asylums of California contain many shepherds.

But the word locoed has come to have a wider application than to the poor shepherds or the horses and cattle that have eaten the loco. Any one who acts queerly, talks strangely, is visionary without being actually a lunatic, who is what would be called elsewhere a “crank,” is said to be locoed. It is a term describing a shade of mental obliquity and queerness something short of irresponsible madness, and something more than temporarily “rattled” or bewildered for the moment. It is a good word, and needed to apply to many people who have gone off into strange ways, and behave as if they had eaten some insane plant—the insane plant being probably a theory in the mazes of which they have wandered until they are lost.

Perhaps the loco does not grow in Russia, and the Prophet of Discouragement may never have eaten of it; perhaps he is only like the shepherd, mainly withdrawn from human intercourse and sympathy in a morbid mental isolation, hearing only the bleat, bleat, bleat of the 'muxhiks' in the dullness of the steppes, wandering round in his own sated mind until he has lost all clew to life. Whatever the cause may be, clearly he is 'locoed'. All his theories have worked out to the conclusion that the world is a gigantic mistake, love is nothing but animality, marriage is immorality; according to astronomical calculations this teeming globe and all its life must end some time; and why not now? There shall be no more marriage, no more children; the present population shall wind up its affairs with decent haste, and one by one quit the scene of their failure, and avoid all the worry of a useless struggle.

This gospel of the blessedness of extinction has come too late to enable us to profit by it in our decennial enumeration. How different the census would have been if taken in the spirit of this new light! How much bitterness, how much hateful rivalry would have been spared! We should then have desired a reduction of the population, not an increase of it. There would have been a pious rivalry among all the towns and cities on the way to the millennium of extinction to show the least number of inhabitants; and those towns would have been happiest which could exhibit not only a marked decline in numbers, but the greater number of old people. Beautiful St. Paul would have held a thanksgiving service, and invited the Minneapolis enumerators to the feast, Kansas City and St. Louis and San Francisco, and a hundred other places, would not have desired a recount, except, perhaps, for overestimate; they would not have said that thousands were away at the sea or in the mountains, but, on the contrary, that thousands who did not belong there, attracted by the salubrity of the climate, and the desire to injure the town's reputation, had crowded in there in census time. The newspapers, instead of calling on people to send in the names of the unenumerated, would have rejoiced at the small returns, as they would have done if the census had been for the purpose of levying the federal tax upon each place according to its population. Chicago—well, perhaps the Prophet of the Steppes would have made an exception of Chicago, and been cynically delighted to push it on its way of increase, aggregation, and ruin.

But instead of this, the strain of anxiety was universal and heart-rending. So much depended upon swelling the figures. The tension would have been relieved if our faces were all set towards extinction, and the speedy evacuation of this unsatisfactory globe. The writer met recently, in the Colorado desert of Arizona, a forlorn census-taker who had been six weeks in the saddle, roaming over the alkali plains in order to gratify the vanity of Uncle Sam. He had lost his reckoning, and did not know the day of the week or of the month. In all the vast territory, away up to the Utah line, over which he had wandered, he met human beings (excluding “Indians and others not taxed “) so rarely that he was in danger of being locoed. He was almost in despair when, two days before, he had a windfall, which raised his general average in the form of a woman with twenty-six children, and he was rejoicing that he should be able to turn in one hundred and fifty people. Alas, the revenue the government will derive from these half-nomads will never pay the cost of enumerating them.

And, alas again, whatever good showing we may make, we shall wish it were larger; the more people we have the more we shall want. In this direction there is no end, any more than there is to life. If extinction, and not life and growth, is the better rule, what a costly mistake we have been making!


By Charles Dudley Warner


We are so much accustomed to kings and queens and other privileged persons of that sort in this world that it is only on reflection that we wonder how they became so. The mystery is not their continuance, but how did they get a start? We take little help from studying the bees —originally no one could have been born a queen. There must have been not only a selection, but an election, not by ballot, but by consent some way expressed, and the privileged persons got their positions because they were the strongest, or the wisest, or the most cunning. But the descendants of these privileged persons hold the same positions when they are neither strong, nor wise, nor very cunning. This also is a mystery. The persistence of privilege is an unexplained thing in human affairs, and the consent of mankind to be led in government and in fashion by those to whom none of the original conditions of leadership attach is a philosophical anomaly. How many of the living occupants of thrones, dukedoms, earldoms, and such high places are in position on their own merits, or would be put there by common consent? Referring their origin to some sort of an election, their continuance seems to rest simply on forbearance. Here in America we are trying a new experiment; we have adopted the principle of election, but we have supplemented it with the equally authoritative right of deposition. And it is interesting to see how it has worked for a hundred years, for it is human nature to like to be set up, but not to like to be set down. If in our elections we do not always get the best—perhaps few elections ever did—we at least do not perpetuate forever in privilege our mistakes or our good hits.

The celebration in New York, in 1889, of the inauguration of Washington was an instructive spectacle. How much of privilege had been gathered and perpetuated in a century? Was it not an occasion that emphasized our republican democracy? Two things were conspicuous. One was that we did not honor a family, or a dynasty, or a title, but a character; and the other was that we did not exalt any living man, but simply the office of President. It was a demonstration of the power of the people to create their own royalty, and then to put it aside when they have done with it. It was difficult to see how greater honors could have been paid to any man than were given to the President when he embarked at Elizabethport and advanced, through a harbor crowded with decorated vessels, to the great city, the wharves and roofs of which were black with human beings —a holiday city which shook with the tumult of the popular welcome. Wherever he went he drew the swarms in the streets as the moon draws the tide. Republican simplicity need not fear comparison with any royal pageant when the President was received at the Metropolitan, and, in a scene of beauty and opulence that might be the flowering of a thousand years instead of a century, stood upon the steps of the “dais” to greet the devoted Centennial Quadrille, which passed before him with the courageous five, 'Imperator, morituri te salutamus'. We had done it—we, the people; that was our royalty. Nobody had imposed it on us. It was not even selected out of four hundred. We had taken one of the common people and set him up there, creating for the moment also a sort of royal family and a court for a background, in a splendor just as imposing for the passing hour as an imperial spectacle. We like to show that we can do it, and we like to show also that we can undo it. For at the banquet, where the Elected ate his dinner, not only in the presence of, but with, representatives of all the people of all the States, looked down on by the acknowledged higher power in American life, there sat also with him two men who had lately been in his great position, the centre only a little while ago, as he was at the moment, of every eye in the republic, now only common citizens without a title, without any insignia of rank, able to transmit to posterity no family privilege. If our hearts swelled with pride that we could create something just as good as royalty, that the republic had as many men of distinguished appearance, as much beauty, and as much brilliance of display as any traditional government, we also felicitated ourselves that we could sweep it all away by a vote and reproduce it with new actors next day.

It must be confessed that it was a people's affair. If at any time there was any idea that it could be controlled only by those who represented names honored for a hundred years, or conspicuous by any social privilege, the idea was swamped in popular feeling. The names that had been elected a hundred years ago did not stay elected unless the present owners were able to distinguish themselves. There is nothing so to be coveted in a country as the perpetuity of honorable names, and the “centennial” showed that we are rich in those that have been honorably borne, but it also showed that the century has gathered no privilege that can count upon permanence.

But there is another aspect of the situation that is quite as serious and satisfactory. Now that the ladies of the present are coming to dress as ladies dressed a hundred years ago, we can make an adequate comparison of beauty. Heaven forbid that we should disparage the women of the Revolutionary period! They looked as well as they could under all the circ*mstances of a new country and the hardships of an early settlement. Some of them looked exceedingly well—there were beauties in those days as there were giants in Old Testament times. The portraits that have come down to us of some of them excite our admiration, and indeed we have a sort of tradition of the loveliness of the women of that remote period. The gallant men of the time exalted them. Yet it must be admitted by any one who witnessed the public and private gatherings of April, 1889, in New York, contributed to as they were by women from every State, and who is unprejudiced by family associations, that the women of America seem vastly improved in personal appearance since the days when George Washington was a lover: that is to say, the number of beautiful women is greater in proportion to the population, and their beauty and charm are not inferior to those which have been so much extolled in the Revolutionary time. There is no doubt that if George Washington could have been at the Metropolitan ball he would have acknowledged this, and that while he might have had misgivings about some of our political methods, he would have been more proud than ever to be still acknowledged the Father of his Country.


A fair correspondent—has the phrase an old-time sound?—thinks we should pay more attention to men. In a revolutionary time, when great questions are in issue, minor matters, which may nevertheless be very important, are apt to escape the consideration they deserve. We share our correspondent's interest in men, but must plead the pressure of circ*mstances. When there are so many Woman's Journals devoted to the wants and aspirations of women alone, it is perhaps time to think of having a Man's journal, which should try to keep his head above-water in the struggle for social supremacy. When almost every number of the leading periodicals has a paper about Woman—written probably by a woman —Woman Today, Woman Yesterday, Woman Tomorrow; when the inquiry is daily made in the press as to what is expected of woman, and the new requirements laid upon her by reason of her opportunities, her entrance into various occupations, her education—the impartial observer is likely to be confused, if he is not swept away by the rising tide of femininity in modern life.

But this very superiority of interest in the future of women is a warning to man to look about him, and see where in this tide he is going to land, if he will float or go ashore, and what will be his character and his position in the new social order. It will not do for him to sit on the stump of one of his prerogatives that woman has felled, and say with Brahma, “They reckon ill who leave me out,” for in the day of the Subjection of Man it may be little consolation that he is left in.

It must be confessed that man has had a long inning. Perhaps it is true that he owed this to his physical strength, and that he will only keep it hereafter by intellectual superiority, by the dominance of mind. And how in this generation is he equipping himself for the future? He is the money-making animal. That is beyond dispute. Never before were there such business men as this generation can show—Napoleons of finance, Alexanders of adventure, Shakespeares of speculation, Porsons of accumulation. He is great in his field, but is he leaving the intellectual province to woman? Does he read as much as she does? Is he becoming anything but a newspaper-made person? Is his mind getting to be like the newspaper? Speaking generally of the mass of business men—and the mass are business men in this country—have they any habit of reading books? They have clubs, to be sure, but of what sort? With the exception of a conversation club here and there, and a literary club, more or less perfunctory, are they not mostly social clubs for comfort and idle lounging, many of them known, as other workmen are, by their “chips”? What sort of a book would a member make out of “Chips from my Workshop”? Do the young men, to any extent, join in Browning clubs and Shakespeare clubs and Dante clubs? Do they meet for the study of history, of authors, of literary periods, for reading, and discussing what they read? Do they in concert dig in the encyclopaedias, and write papers about the correlation of forces, and about Savonarola, and about the Three Kings? In fact, what sort of a hand would the Three Kings suggest to them? In the large cities the women's clubs, pursuing literature, art, languages, botany, history, geography, geology, mythology, are innumerable. And there is hardly a village in the land that has not from one to six clubs of young girls who meet once a week for some intellectual purpose. What are the young men of the villages and the cities doing meantime? How are they preparing to meet socially these young ladies who are cultivating their minds? Are they adapting themselves to the new conditions? Or are they counting, as they always have done, on the adaptability of women, on the facility with which the members of the bright sex can interest themselves in base-ball and the speed of horses and the chances of the “street”? Is it comfortable for the young man, when the talk is about the last notable book, or the philosophy of the popular poet or novelist, to feel that laughing eyes are sounding his ignorance?

Man is a noble creation, and he has fine and sturdy qualities which command the admiration of the other sex, but how will it be when that sex, by reason of superior acquirements, is able to look down on him intellectually? It used to be said that women are what men wish to have them, that they endeavored to be the kind of women who would win masculine admiration. How will it be if women have determined to make themselves what it pleases them to be, and to cultivate their powers in the expectation of pleasing men, if they indulge any such expectation, by their higher qualities only? This is not a fanciful possibility. It is one that young men will do well to ponder. It is easy to ridicule the literary and economic and historical societies, and the naive courage with which young women in them attack the gravest problems, and to say that they are only a passing fashion, like decorative art and a mode of dress. But a fashion is not to be underestimated; and when a fashion continues and spreads like this one, it is significant of a great change going on in society. And it is to be noticed that this fashion is accompanied by other phenomena as interesting. There is scarcely an occupation, once confined almost exclusively to men, in which women are not now conspicuous. Never before were there so many women who are superior musicians, performers themselves and organizers of musical societies; never before so many women who can draw well; never so many who are successful in literature, who write stories, translate, compile, and are acceptable workers in magazines and in publishing houses; and never before were so many women reading good books, and thinking about them, and talking about them, and trying to apply the lessons in them to the problems of their own lives, which are seen not to end with marriage. A great deal of this activity, crude much of it, is on the intellectual side, and must tell strongly by-and-by in the position of women. And the young men will take notice that it is the intellectual force that must dominate in life.


It seems hardly worth while to say that this would be a more interesting country if there were more interesting people in it. But the remark is worth consideration in a land where things are so much estimated by what they cost. It is a very expensive country, especially so in the matter of education, and one cannot but reflect whether the result is in proportion to the outlay. It costs a great many thousands of dollars and over four years of time to produce a really good base-ball player, and the time and money invested in the production of a society young woman are not less. No complaint is made of the cost of these schools of the higher education; the point is whether they produce interesting people. Of course all women are interesting. It has got pretty well noised about the world that American women are, on the whole, more interesting than any others. This statement is not made boastfully, but simply as a market quotation, as one might say. They are sought for; they rule high. They have a “way”; they know how to be fascinating, to be agreeable; they unite freedom of manner with modesty of behavior; they are apt to have beauty, and if they have not, they know how to make others think they have. Probably the Greek girls in their highest development under Phidias were never so attractive as the American girls of this period; and if we had a Phidias who could put their charms in marble, all the antique galleries would close up and go out of business.

But it must be understood that in regard to them, as to the dictionaries, it is necessary to “get the best.” Not all women are equally interesting, and some of those on whom most educational money is lavished are the least so. It can be said broadly that everybody is interesting up to a certain point. There is no human being from whom the inquiring mind cannot learn something. It is so with women. Some are interesting for five minutes, some for ten, some for an hour; some are not exhausted in a whole day; and some (and this shows the signal leniency of Providence) are perennially entertaining, even in the presence of masculine stupidity. Of course the radical trouble of this world is that there are not more people who are interesting comrades, day in and day out, for a lifetime. It is greatly to the credit of American women that so many of them have this quality, and have developed it, unprotected, in free competition with all countries which have been pouring in women without the least duty laid upon their grace or beauty. We, have a tariff upon knowledge—we try to shut out all of that by a duty on books; we have a tariff on piety and intelligence in a duty on clergymen; we try to exclude art by a levy on it; but we have never excluded the raw material of beauty, and the result is that we can successfully compete in the markets of the world.

This, however, is a digression. The reader wants to know what this quality of being interesting has to do with girls' schools. It is admitted that if one goes into a new place he estimates the agreeableness of it according to the number of people it contains with whom it is a pleasure to converse, who have either the ability to talk well or the intelligence to listen appreciatingly even if deceivingly, whose society has the beguiling charm that makes even natural scenery satisfactory. It is admitted also that in our day the burden of this end of life, making it agreeable, is mainly thrown upon women. Men make their business an excuse for not being entertaining, or the few who cultivate the mind (aside from the politicians, who always try to be winning) scarcely think it worth while to contribute anything to make society bright and engaging. Now if the girls' schools and colleges, technical and other, merely add to the number of people who have practical training and knowledge without personal charm, what becomes of social life? We are impressed with the excellence of the schools and colleges for women —impressed also with the co-educating institutions. There is no sight more inspiring than an assemblage of four or five hundred young women attacking literature, science, and all the arts. The grace and courage of the attack alone are worth all it costs. All the arts and science and literature are benefited, but one of the chief purposes that should be in view is unattained if the young women are not made more interesting, both to themselves and to others. Ability to earn an independent living may be conceded to be important, health is indispensable, and beauty of face and form are desirable; knowledge is priceless, and unselfish amiability is above the price of rubies; but how shall we set a value, so far as the pleasure of living is concerned, upon the power to be interesting? We hear a good deal about the highly educated young woman with reverence, about the emancipated young woman with fear and trembling, but what can take the place of the interesting woman? Anxiety is this moment agitating the minds of tens of thousands of mothers about the education of their daughters. Suppose their education should be directed to the purpose of making them interesting women, what a fascinating country this would be about the year 1900.


Give the men a chance. Upon the young women of America lies a great responsibility. The next generation will be pretty much what they choose to make it; and what are they doing for the elevation of young men? It is true that there are the colleges for men, which still perform a good work—though some of them run a good deal more to a top-dressing of accomplishments than to a sub-soiling of discipline—but these colleges reach comparatively few. There remain the great mass who are devoted to business and pleasure, and only get such intellectual cultivation as society gives them or they chance to pick up in current publications. The young women are the leisure class, consequently—so we hear—the cultivated class. Taking a certain large proportion of our society, the women in it toil not, neither do they spin; they do little or no domestic work; they engage in no productive occupation. They are set apart for a high and ennobling service—the cultivation of the mind and the rescue of society from materialism. They are the influence that keeps life elevated and sweet—are they not? For what other purpose are they set apart in elegant leisure? And nobly do they climb up to the duties of their position. They associate together in esoteric, intellectual societies. Every one is a part of many clubs, the object of which is knowledge and the broadening of the intellectual horizon. Science, languages, literature, are their daily food. They can speak in tongues; they can talk about the solar spectrum; they can interpret Chaucer, criticise Shakespeare, understand Browning. There is no literature, ancient or modern, that they do not dig up by the roots and turn over, no history that they do not drag before the club for final judgment. In every little village there is this intellectual stir and excitement; why, even in New York, readings interfere with the german;—['Dances', likely referring to the productions of the Straus family in Vienna. D.W.]—and Boston! Boston is no longer divided into wards, but into Browning “sections.”

All this is mainly the work of women. The men are sometimes admitted, are even hired to perform and be encouraged and criticised; that is, men who are already highly cultivated, or who are in sympathy with the noble feminization of the age. It is a glorious movement. Its professed object is to give an intellectual lift to society. And no doubt, unless all reports are exaggerated, it is making our great leisure class of women highly intellectual beings. But, encouraging as this prospect is, it gives us pause. Who are these young women to associate with? with whom are they to hold high converse? For life is a two-fold affair. And meantime what is being done for the young men who are expected to share in the high society of the future? Will not the young women by-and-by find themselves in a lonesome place, cultivated away beyond their natural comrades? Where will they spend their evenings? This sobering thought suggests a duty that the young women are neglecting. We refer to the education of the young men. It is all very well for them to form clubs for their own advancement, and they ought not to incur the charge of selfishness in so doing; but how much better would they fulfill their mission if they would form special societies for the cultivation of young men!—sort of intellectual mission bands. Bring them into the literary circle. Make it attractive for them. Women with their attractions, not to speak of their wiles, can do anything they set out to do. They can elevate the entire present generation of young men, if they give their minds to it, to care for the intellectual pursuits they care for. Give the men a chance, and——

Musing along in this way we are suddenly pulled up by the reflection that it is impossible to make an unqualified statement that is wholly true about anything. What chance have I, anyway? inquires the young man who thinks sometimes and occasionally wants to read. What sort of leading-strings are these that I am getting into? Look at the drift of things. Is the feminization of the world a desirable thing for a vigorous future? Are the women, or are they not, taking all the virility out of literature? Answer me that. All the novels are written by, for, or about women—brought to their standard. Even Henry James, who studies the sex untiringly, speaks about the “feminization of literature.” They write most of the newspaper correspondence—and write it for women. They are even trying to feminize the colleges. Granted that woman is the superior being; all the more, what chance is there for man if this sort of thing goes on? Are you going to make a race of men on feminine fodder? And here is the still more perplexing part of it. Unless all analysis of the female heart is a delusion, and all history false, what women like most of all things in this world is a Man, virile, forceful, compelling, a solid rock of dependence, a substantial unfeminine being, whom it is some satisfaction and glory and interest to govern and rule in the right way, and twist round the feminine finger. If women should succeed in reducing or raising—of course raising—men to the feminine standard, by feminizing society, literature, the colleges, and all that, would they not turn on their creations—for even the Bible intimates that women are uncertain and go in search of a Man? It is this sort of blind instinct of the young man for preserving himself in the world that makes him so inaccessible to the good he might get from the prevailing culture of the leisure class.


Those who are anxious about the fate of Christmas, whether it is not becoming too worldly and too expensive a holiday to be indulged in except by the very poor, mark with pleasure any indications that the true spirit of the day—brotherhood and self-abnegation and charity—is infusing itself into modern society. The sentimental Christmas of thirty years ago could not last; in time the manufactured jollity got to be more tedious and a greater strain on the feelings than any misfortune happening to one's neighbor. Even for a day it was very difficult to buzz about in the cheery manner prescribed, and the reaction put human nature in a bad light. Nor was it much better when gradually the day became one of Great Expectations, and the sweet spirit of it was quenched in worry or soured in disappointment. It began to take on the aspect of a great lottery, in which one class expected to draw in reverse proportion to what it put in, and another class knew that it would only reap as it had sowed. The day, blessed in its origin, and meaningless if there is a grain of selfishness in it, was thus likely to become a sort of Clearing-house of all obligations and assume a commercial aspect that took the heart out of it—like the enormous receptions for paying social debts which take the place of the old-fashioned hospitality. Everybody knew, meantime, that the spirit of good-will, the grace of universal sympathy, was really growing in the world, and that it was only our awkwardness that, by striving to cram it all for a year into twenty-four hours, made it seem a little farcical. And everybody knows that when goodness becomes fashionable, goodness is likely to suffer a little. A virtue overdone falls on t'other side. And a holiday that takes on such proportions that the Express companies and the Post-office cannot handle it is in danger of a collapse. In consideration of these things, and because, as has been pointed out year after year, Christmas is becoming a burden, the load of which is looked forward to with apprehension—and back on with nervous prostration—fear has been expressed that the dearest of all holidays in Christian lands would have to go again under a sort of Puritan protest, or into a retreat for rest and purification. We are enabled to announce for the encouragement of the single-minded in this best of all days, at the close of a year which it is best not to characterize, that those who stand upon the social watch-towers in Europe and America begin to see a light—or, it would be better to say, to perceive a spirit—in society which is likely to change many things, and; among others, to work a return of Christian simplicity. As might be expected in these days, the spirit is exhibited in the sex which is first at the wedding and last in the hospital ward. And as might have been expected, also, this spirit is shown by the young woman of the period, in whose hands are the issues of the future. If she preserve her present mind long enough, Christmas will become a day that will satisfy every human being, for the purpose of the young woman will pervade it. The tendency of the young woman generally to simplicity, of the American young woman to a certain restraint (at least when abroad), to a deference to her elders, and to tradition, has been noted. The present phenomenon is quite beyond this, and more radical. It is, one may venture to say, an attempt to conform the inner being to the outward simplicity. If one could suspect the young woman of taking up any line not original, it might be guessed that the present fashion (which is bewildering the most worldly men with a new and irresistible fascination) was set by the self-revelations of Marie Bashkirtseff. Very likely, however, it was a new spirit in the world, of which Marie was the first publishing example. Its note is self-analysis, searching, unsparing, leaving no room for the deception of self or of the world. Its leading feature is extreme candor. It is not enough to tell the truth (that has been told before); but one must act and tell the whole truth. One does not put on the shirt front and the standing collar and the knotted cravat of the other sex as a mere form; it is an act of consecration, of rigid, simple come-out-ness into the light of truth. This noble candor will suffer no concealments. She would not have her lover even, still more the general world of men, think she is better, or rather other, than she is. Not that she would like to appear a man among men, far from that; but she wishes to talk with candor and be talked to candidly, without taking advantage of that false shelter of sex behind which women have been accused of dodging. If she is nothing else, she is sincere, one might say wantonly sincere. And this lucid, candid inner life is reflected in her dress. This is not only simple in its form, in its lines; it is severe. To go into the shop of a European modiste is almost to put one's self into a truthful and candid frame of mind. Those leave frivolous ideas behind who enter here. The 'modiste' will tell the philosopher that it is now the fashion to be severe; in a word, it is 'fesch'. Nothing can go beyond that. And it symbolizes the whole life, its self-examination, earnestness, utmost candor in speech and conduct.

The statesman who is busy about his tariff and his reciprocity, and his endeavor to raise money like potatoes, may little heed and much undervalue this advent of candor into the world as a social force. But the philosopher will make no such mistake. He knows that they who build without woman build in vain, and that she is the great regenerator, as she is the great destroyer. He knows too much to disregard the gravity of any fashionable movement. He knows that there is no power on earth that can prevent the return of the long skirt. And that if the young woman has decided to be severe and candid and frank with herself and in her intercourse with others, we must submit and thank God.

And what a gift to the world is this for the Christmas season! The clear-eyed young woman of the future, always dear and often an anxiety, will this year be an object of enthusiasm.


The American man only develops himself and spreads himself and grows “for all he is worth” in the Great West. He is more free and limber there, and unfolds those generous peculiarities and largenesses of humanity which never blossomed before. The “environment” has much to do with it. The great spaces over which he roams contribute to the enlargement of his mental horizon. There have been races before who roamed the illimitable desert, but they traveled on foot or on camelback, and were limited in their range. There was nothing continental about them, as there is about our railway desert travelers, who swing along through thousands of miles of sand and sage-bush with a growing contempt for time and space. But expansive and great as these people have become under the new conditions, we have a fancy that the development of the race has only just begun, and that the future will show us in perfection a kind of man new to the world. Out somewhere on the Santa Fe route, where the desert of one day was like the desert of the day before, and the Pullman car rolls and swings over the wide waste beneath the blue sky day after day, under its black flag of smoke, in the early gray of morning, when the men were waiting their turns at the ablution bowls, a slip of a boy, perhaps aged seven, stood balancing himself on his little legs, clad in knicker-bockers, biding his time, with all the nonchalance of an old campaigner. “How did you sleep, cap?” asked a well-meaning elderly gentleman. “Well, thank you,” was the dignified response; “as I always do on a sleeping-car.” Always does? Great horrors! Hardly out of his swaddling-clothes, and yet he always sleeps well in a sleeper! Was he born on the wheels? was he cradled in a Pullman? He has always been in motion, probably; he was started at thirty miles an hour, no doubt, this marvelous boy of our new era. He was not born in a house at rest, but the locomotive snatched him along with a shriek and a roar before his eyes were fairly open, and he was rocked in a “section,” and his first sensation of life was that of moving rapidly over vast arid spaces, through cattle ranges and along canons. The effect of quick and easy locomotion on character may have been noted before, but it seems that here is the production of a new sort of man, the direct product of our railway era. It is not simply that this boy is mature, but he must be a different and a nobler sort of boy than one born, say, at home or on a canal-boat; for, whether he was born on the rail or not, he belongs to the railway system of civilization. Before he gets into trousers he is old in experience, and he has discounted many of the novelties that usually break gradually on the pilgrim in this world. He belongs to the new expansive race that must live in motion, whose proper home is the Pullman (which will probably be improved in time into a dustless, sweet-smelling, well-aired bedroom), and whose domestic life will be on the wing, so to speak. The Inter-State Commerce Bill will pass him along without friction from end to end of the Union, and perhaps a uniform divorce law will enable him to change his marital relations at any place where he happens to dine. This promising lad is only a faint intimation of what we are all coming to when we fully acquire the freedom of the continent, and come into that expansiveness of feeling and of language which characterizes the Great West. It is a burst of joyous exuberance that comes from the sense of an illimitable horizon. It shows itself in the tender words of a local newspaper at Bowie, Arizona, on the death of a beloved citizen: “'Death loves a shining mark,' and she hit a dandy when she turned loose on Jim.” And also in the closing words of a New Mexico obituary, which the Kansas Magazine quotes: “Her tired spirit was released from the pain-racking body and soared aloft to eternal glory at 4.30 Denver time.” We die, as it were, in motion, as we sleep, and there is nowhere any boundary to our expansion. Perhaps we shall never again know any rest as we now understand the term—rest being only change of motion—and we shall not be able to sleep except on the cars, and whether we die by Denver time or by the 90th meridian, we shall only change our time. Blessed be this slip of a boy who is a man before he is an infant, and teaches us what rapid transit can do for our race! The only thing that can possibly hinder us in our progress will be second childhood; we have abolished first.


We are quite in the electric way. We boast that we have made electricity our slave, but the slave whom we do not understand is our master. And before we know him we shall be transformed. Mr. Edison proposes to send us over the country at the rate of one hundred miles an hour. This pleases us, because we fancy we shall save time, and because we are taught that the chief object in life is to “get there” quickly. We really have an idea that it is a gain to annihilate distance, forgetting that as a matter of personal experience we are already too near most people. But this speed by rail will enable us to live in Philadelphia and do business in New York. It will make the city of Chicago two hundred miles square. And the bigger Chicago is, the more important this world becomes. This pleasing anticipation—that of traveling by lightning, and all being huddled together—is nothing to the promised universal illumination by a diffused light that shall make midnight as bright as noonday. We shall then save all the time there is, and at the age of thirty-five have lived the allotted seventy years, and long, if not for 'Gotterdammerung', at least for some world where, by touching a button, we can discharge our limbs of electricity and take a little repose. The most restless and ambitious of us can hardly conceive of Chicago as a desirable future state of existence.

This, however, is only the external or superficial view of the subject; at the best it is only symbolical. Mr. Edison is wasting his time in objective experiments, while we are in the deepest ignorance as to our electric personality or our personal electricity. We begin to apprehend that we are electric beings, that these outward manifestations of a subtile form are only hints of our internal state. Mr. Edison should turn his attention from physics to humanity electrically considered in its social condition. We have heard a great deal about affinities. We are told that one person is positive and another negative, and that representing socially opposite poles they should come together and make an electric harmony, that two positives or two negatives repel each other, and if conventionally united end in divorce, and so on. We read that such a man is magnetic, meaning that he can poll a great many votes; or that such a woman thrilled her audience, meaning probably that they were in an electric condition to be shocked by her. Now this is what we want to find out—to know if persons are really magnetic or sympathetic, and how to tell whether a person is positive or negative. In politics we are quite at sea. What is the good of sending a man to Washington at the rate of a hundred miles an hour if we are uncertain of his electric state? The ideal House of Representatives ought to be pretty nearly balanced—half positive, half negative. Some Congresses seem to be made up pretty much of negatives. The time for the electrician to test the candidate is before he is put in nomination, not dump him into Congress as we do now, utterly ignorant of whether his currents run from his heels to his head or from his head to his heels, uncertain, indeed, as to whether he has magnetism to run in at all. Nothing could be more unscientific than the process and the result.

In social life it is infinitely worse. You, an electric unmarried man, enter a room full of attractive women. How are you to know who is positive and who is negative, or who is a maiden lady in equilibrium, if it be true, as scientists affirm, that the genus old maid is one in whom the positive currents neutralize the negative currents? Your affinity is perhaps the plainest woman in the room. But beauty is a juggling sprite, entirely uncontrolled by electricity, and you are quite likely to make a mistake. It is absurd the way we blunder on in a scientific age. We touch a button, and are married. The judge touches another button, and we are divorced. If when we touched the first button it revealed us both negatives, we should start back in horror, for it is only before engagement that two negatives make an affirmative. That is the reason that some clergymen refuse to marry a divorced woman; they see that she has made one electric mistake, and fear she will make another. It is all very well for the officiating clergyman to ask the two intending to commit matrimony if they have a license from the town clerk, if they are of age or have the consent of parents, and have a million; but the vital point is omitted. Are they electric affinities? It should be the duty of the town-clerk, by a battery, or by some means to be discovered by electricians, to find out the galvanic habit of the parties, their prevailing electric condition. Temporarily they may seem to be in harmony, and may deceive themselves into the belief that they are at opposite poles equidistant from the equator, and certain to meet on that imaginary line in matrimonial bliss. Dreadful will be the awakening to an insipid life, if they find they both have the same sort of currents. It is said that women change their minds and their dispositions, that men are fickle, and that both give way after marriage to natural inclinations that were suppressed while they were on the good behavior that the supposed necessity of getting married imposes. This is so notoriously true that it ought to create a public panic. But there is hope in the new light. If we understand it, persons are born in a certain electrical condition, and substantially continue in it, however much they may apparently wobble about under the influence of infirm minds and acquired wickedness. There are, of course, variations of the compass to be reckoned with, and the magnet may occasionally be bewitched by near and powerful attracting objects. But, on the whole, the magnet remains the same, and it is probable that a person's normal electric condition is the thing in him least liable to dangerous variation. If this be true, the best basis for matrimony is the electric, and our social life would have fewer disappointments if men and women went about labeled with their scientifically ascertained electric qualities.


Can a husband open his wife's letters? That would depend, many would say, upon what kind of a husband he is. But it cannot be put aside in that flippant manner, for it is a legal right that is in question, and it has recently been decided in a Paris tribunal that the husband has the right to open the letters addressed to his wife. Of course in America an appeal would instantly be taken from this decision, and perhaps by husbands themselves; for in this world rights are becoming so impartially distributed that this privilege granted to the husband might at once be extended to the wife, and she would read all his business correspondence, and his business is sometimes various and complicated. The Paris decision must be based upon the familiar formula that man and wife are one, and that that one is the husband. If a man has the right to read all the letters written to his wife, being his property by reason of his ownership of her, why may he not have a legal right to know all that is said to her? The question is not whether a wife ought to receive letters that her husband may not read, or listen to talk that he may not hear, but whether he has a sort of lordship that gives him privileges which she does not enjoy. In our modern notion of marriage, which is getting itself expressed in statute law, marriage is supposed to rest on mutual trust and mutual rights. In theory the husband and wife are still one, and there can nothing come into the life of one that is not shared by the other; in fact, if the marriage is perfect and the trust absolute, the personality of each is respected by the other, and each is freely the judge of what shall be contributed to the common confidence; and if there are any concealments, it is well believed that they are for the mutual good. If every one were as perfect in the marriage relation as those who are reading these lines, the question of the wife's letters would never arise. The man, trusting his wife, would not care to pry into any little secrets his wife might have, or bother himself about her correspondence; he would know, indeed, that if he had lost her real affection, a surveillance of her letters could not restore it.

Perhaps it is a modern notion that marriage is a union of trust and not of suspicion, of expectation of faithfulness the more there is freedom. At any rate, the tendency, notwithstanding the French decision, is away from the common-law suspicion and tyranny towards a higher trust in an enlarged freedom. And it is certain that the rights cannot all be on one side and the duties on the other. If the husband legally may compel his wife to show him her letters, the courts will before long grant the same privilege to the wife. But, without pressing this point, we hold strongly to the sacredness of correspondence. The letters one receives are in one sense not his own. They contain the confessions of another soul, the confidences of another mind, that would be rudely treated if given any sort of publicity. And while husband and wife are one to each other, they are two in the eyes of other people, and it may well happen that a friend will desire to impart something to a discreet woman which she would not intrust to the babbling husband of that woman. Every life must have its own privacy and its own place of retirement. The letter is of all things the most personal and intimate thing. Its bloom is gone when another eye sees it before the one for which it was intended. Its aroma all escapes when it is first opened by another person. One might as well wear second-hand clothing as get a second-hand letter. Here, then, is a sacred right that ought to be respected, and can be respected without any injury to domestic life. The habit in some families for the members of it to show each other's letters is a most disenchanting one. It is just in the family, between persons most intimate, that these delicacies of consideration for the privacy of each ought to be most respected. No one can estimate probably how much of the refinement, of the delicacy of feeling, has been lost to the world by the introduction of the postal-card. Anything written on a postal-card has no personality; it is banal, and has as little power of charming any one who receives it as an advertisem*nt in the newspaper. It is not simply the cheapness of the communication that is vulgar, but the publicity of it. One may have perhaps only a cent's worth of affection to send, but it seems worth much more when enclosed in an envelope. We have no doubt, then, that on general principles the French decision is a mistake, and that it tends rather to vulgarize than to retain the purity and delicacy of the marriage relation. And the judges, so long even as men only occupy the bench, will no doubt reverse it when the logical march of events forces upon them the question whether the wife may open her husband's letters.


Foreign critics have apologized for real or imagined social and literary shortcomings in this country on the ground that the American people have little leisure. It is supposed that when we have a leisure class we shall not only make a better showing in these respects, but we shall be as agreeable—having time to devote to the art of being agreeable—as the English are. But we already have a considerable and increasing number of people who can command their own time if we have not a leisure class, and the sociologist might begin to study the effect of this leisureliness upon society. Are the people who, by reason of a competence or other accidents of good-fortune, have most leisure, becoming more agreeable? and are they devoting themselves to the elevation of the social tone, or to the improvement of our literature? However this question is answered, a strong appeal might be made to the people of leisure to do not only what is expected of them by foreign observers, but to take advantage of their immense opportunities. In a republic there is no room for a leisure class that is not useful. Those who use their time merely to kill it, in imitation of those born to idleness and to no necessity of making an exertion, may be ornamental, but having no root in any established privilege to sustain them, they will soon wither away in this atmosphere, as a flower would which should set up to be an orchid when it does not belong to the orchid family. It is required here that those who are emancipated from the daily grind should vindicate their right to their position not only by setting an example of self-culture, but by contributing something to the general welfare. It is thought by many that if society here were established and settled as it is elsewhere, the rich would be less dominated by their money and less conscious of it, and having leisure, could devote themselves even more than they do now to intellectual and spiritual pursuits.

Whether these anticipations will ever be realized, and whether increased leisure will make us all happy, is a subject of importance; but it is secondary, and in a manner incidental, to another and deeper matter, which may be defined as the responsibility of attractiveness. And this responsibility takes two forms the duty of every one to be attractive, and the danger of being too attractive. To be winning and agreeable is sometimes reckoned a gift, but it is a disposition that can be cultivated; and, in a world so given to grippe and misapprehension as this is, personal attractiveness becomes a duty, if it is not an art, that might be taught in the public schools. It used to be charged against New Englanders that they regarded this gift as of little value, and were inclined to hide it under a bushel, and it was said of some of their neighbors in the Union that they exaggerated its importance, and neglected the weightier things of the law. Indeed, disputes have arisen as to what attractiveness consisted in—some holding that beauty or charm of manner (which is almost as good) and sweetness and gayety were sufficient, while others held that a little intelligence sprinkled in was essential. But one thing is clear, that while women were held to strict responsibility in this matter, not stress enough was laid upon the equal duty of men to be attractive in order to make the world agreeable. Hence it is, probably, that while no question has been raised as to the effect of the higher education upon the attractiveness of men, the colleges for girls have been jealously watched as to the effect they were likely to have upon the attractiveness of women. Whether the college years of a young man, during which he knows more than he will ever know again, are his most attractive period is not considered, for he is expected to develop what is in him later on; but it is gravely questioned whether girls who give their minds to the highest studies are not dropping those graces of personal attractiveness which they will find it difficult to pick up again. Of course such a question as this could never arise except in just such a world as this is. For in an ideal world it could be shown that the highest intelligence and the highest personal charm are twins. If, therefore, it should turn out, which seems absurd, that college-educated girls are not as attractive as other women with less advantages, it will have to be admitted that something is the matter with the young ladies, which is preposterous, or that the system is still defective. For the postulate that everybody ought to be attractive cannot be abandoned for the sake of any system. Decision on this system cannot be reached without long experience, for it is always to be remembered that the man's point of view of attractiveness may shift, and he may come to regard the intellectual graces as supremely attractive; while, on the other hand, the woman student may find that a winning smile is just as effective in bringing a man to her feet, where he belongs, as a logarithm.

The danger of being too attractive, though it has historic illustration, is thought by many to be more apparent than real. Merely being too attractive has often been confounded with a love of flirtation and conquest, unbecoming always in a man, and excused in a woman on the ground of her helplessness. It could easily be shown that to use personal attractiveness recklessly to the extent of hopeless beguilement is cruel, and it may be admitted that woman ought to be held to strict responsibility for her attractiveness. The lines are indeed hard for her. The duty is upon her in this poor world of being as attractive as she can, and yet she is held responsible for all the mischief her attractiveness produces. As if the blazing sun should be called to account by people with weak eyes.


The month of February in all latitudes in the United States is uncertain. The birth of George Washington in it has not raised it in public esteem. In the North, it is a month to flee from; in the South, at best it is a waiting month—a month of rain and fickle skies. A good deal has been done for it. It is the month of St. Valentine, it is distinguished by the leap-year addition of a day, and ought to be a favorite of the gentle sex; but it remains a sort of off period in the year. Its brevity recommends it, but no one would take any notice of it were it not for its effect upon character. A month of rigid weather is supposed to brace up the moral nature, and a month of gentleness is supposed to soften the asperities of the disposition, but February contributes to neither of these ends. It is neither a tonic nor a soother; that is, in most parts of our inexplicable land. We make no complaint of this. It is probably well to have a period in the year that tests character to the utmost, and the person who can enter spring through the gate of February a better man or woman is likely to adorn society the rest of the year.

February, however, is merely an illustration of the effect of weather upon the disposition. Persons differ in regard to their sensitiveness to cloudy, rainy, and gloomy days. We recognize this in a general way, but the relation of temper and disposition to the weather has never been scientifically studied. Our observation of the influence of climate is mostly with regard to physical infirmities. We know the effect of damp weather upon rheumatics, and of the east wind upon gouty subjects, but too little allowance is made for the influence of weather upon the spirits and the conduct of men. We know that a long period of gloomy weather leads to suicides, and we observe that long-continued clouds and rain beget “crossness” and ill-temper, and we are all familiar with the universal exhilaration of sunshine and clear air upon any company of men and women. But the point we wish to make is that neither society nor the law makes any allowance for the aberrations of human nature caused by dull and unpleasant weather. And this is very singular in this humanitarian age, when excuse is found for nearly every moral delinquency in heredity or environment, that the greatest factor of discontent and crookedness, the weather, should be left out of consideration altogether. The relation of crime to the temperature and the humidity of the atmosphere is not taken into account. Yet crime and eccentricity of conduct are very much the result of atmospheric conditions, since they depend upon the temper and the spirit of the community. Many people are habitually blue and down-hearted in sour weather; a long spell of cloudy, damp, cold weather depresses everybody, lowers hope, tends to melancholy; and people when they are not cheerful are more apt to fall into evil ways, as a rule, than when they are in a normal state of good-humor. And aside from crimes, the vexation, the friction, the domestic discontent in life, are provoked by bad weather. We should like to have some statistics as to incompatibility between married couples produced by damp and raw days, and to know whether divorces are more numerous in the States that suffer from a fickle climate than in those where the climate is more equable. It is true that in the Sandwich Islands and in Egypt there is greater mental serenity, less perturbation of spirit, less worry, than in the changeable United States. Something of this placidity and resignation to the ills inevitable in human life is due to an even climate, to the constant sun and the dry air. We cannot hope to prevent crime and suffering by statistics, any more than we have been able to improve our climate (which is rather worse now than before the scientists took it in charge) by observations and telegraphic reports; but we can, by careful tabulation of the effects of bad weather upon the spirits of a community, learn what places in the Union are favorable to the production of cheerfulness and an equal mind. And we should lift a load of reprobation from some places which now have a reputation for surliness and unamiability. We find the people of one place hospitable, lighthearted, and agreeable; the people of another place cold, and morose, and unpleasant. It would be a satisfaction to know that the weather is responsible for the difference. Observation of this sort would also teach us doubtless what places are most conducive to literary production, what to happy homes and agreeing wives and husbands. All our territory is mapped out as to its sanitary conditions; why not have it colored as to its effect upon the spirits and the enjoyment of life? The suggestion opens a vast field of investigation.


There used to be a notion going round that it would be a good thing for people if they were more “self-centred.” Perhaps there was talk of adding a course to the college curriculum, in addition to that for training the all-competent “journalist,” for the self-centring of the young. To apply the term to a man or woman was considered highly complimentary. The advisers of this state of mind probably meant to suggest a desirable equilibrium and mental balance; but the actual effect of the self-centred training is illustrated by a story told of Thomas H. Benton, who had been described as an egotist by some of the newspapers. Meeting Colonel Frank Blair one day, he said: “Colonel Blair, I see that the newspapers call me an egotist. I wish you would tell me frankly, as a friend, if you think the charge is true.” “It is a very direct question, Mr. Benton,” replied Colonel Blair, “but if you want my honest opinion, I am compelled to say that I think there is some foundation for the charge.” “Well, sir,” said Mr. Benton, throwing his head back and his chest forward, “the difference between me and these little fellows is that I have an EGO!” Mr. Benton was an interesting man, and it is a fair consideration if a certain amount of egotism does not add to the interest of any character, but at the same time the self-centred conditions shut a person off from one of the chief enjoyments to be got out of this world, namely, a recognition of what is admirable in others in a toleration of peculiarities. It is odd, almost amusing, to note how in this country people of one section apply their local standards to the judgment of people in other sections, very much as an Englishman uses his insular yardstick to measure all the rest of the world. It never seems to occur to people in one locality that the manners and speech of those of another may be just as admirable as their own, and they get a good deal of discomfort out of their intercourse with strangers by reason of their inability to adapt themselves to any ways not their own. It helps greatly to make this country interesting that nearly every State has its peculiarities, and that the inhabitants of different sections differ in manner and speech. But next to an interesting person in social value, is an agreeable one, and it would add vastly to the agreeableness of life if our widely spread provinces were not so self-centred in their notion that their own way is the best, to the degree that they criticise any deviation from it as an eccentricity. It would be a very nice world in these United States if we could all devote ourselves to finding out in communities what is likable rather than what is opposed to our experience; that is, in trying to adapt ourselves to others rather than insisting that our own standard should measure our opinion and our enjoyment of them.

When the Kentuckian describes a man as a “high-toned gentleman” he means exactly the same that a Bostonian means when, he says that a man is a “very good fellow,” only the men described have a different culture, a different personal flavor; and it is fortunate that the Kentuckian is not like the Bostonian, for each has a quality that makes intercourse with him pleasant. In the South many people think they have said a severe thing when they say that a person or manner is thoroughly Yankee; and many New Englanders intend to express a considerable lack in what is essential when they say of men and women that they are very Southern. When the Yankee is produced he may turn out a cosmopolitan person of the most interesting and agreeable sort; and the Southerner may have traits and peculiarities, growing out of climate and social life unlike the New England, which are altogether charming. We talked once with a Western man of considerable age and experience who had the placid mind that is sometimes, and may more and more become, the characteristic of those who live in flat countries of illimitable horizons, who said that New Yorkers, State and city, all had an assertive sort of smartness that was very disagreeable to him. And a lady of New York (a city whose dialect the novelists are beginning to satirize) was much disturbed by the flatness of speech prevailing in Chicago, and thought something should be done in the public schools to correct the pronunciation of English. There doubtless should be a common standard of distinct, rounded, melodious pronunciation, as there is of good breeding, and it is quite as important to cultivate the voice in speaking as in singing, but the people of the United States let themselves be immensely irritated by local differences and want of toleration of sectional peculiarities. The truth is that the agreeable people are pretty evenly distributed over the country, and one's enjoyment of them is heightened not only by their differences of manner, but by the different, ways in which they look at life, unless he insists upon applying everywhere the yardstick of his own locality. If the Boston woman sets her eyeglasses at a critical angle towards the 'laisser faire' flow of social amenity in New Orleans, and the New Orleans woman seeks out only the prim and conventional in Boston, each may miss the opportunity to supplement her life by something wanting and desirable in it, to be gained by the exercise of more openness of mind and toleration. To some people Yankee thrift is disagreeable; to others, Southern shiftlessness is intolerable. To some travelers the negro of the South, with his tropical nature, his capacity for picturesque attitudes, his abundant trust in Providence, is an element of restfulness; and if the chief object of life is happiness, the traveler may take a useful hint from the race whose utmost desire, in a fit climate, would be fully satisfied by a shirt and a banana-tree. But to another traveler the dusky, careless race is a continual affront.

If a person is born with an “Ego,” and gets the most enjoyment out of the world by trying to make it revolve about himself, and cannot make-allowances for differences, we have nothing to say except to express pity for such a self-centred condition; which shuts him out of the never-failing pleasure there is in entering into and understanding with sympathy the almost infinite variety in American life.


Sometimes the world seems very old. It appeared so to Bernard of Cluny in the twelfth century, when he wrote:

 “The world is very evil, The times are waning late.” 

There was a general impression among the Christians of the first century of our era that the end was near. The world must have seemed very ancient to the Egyptians fifteen hundred years before Christ, when the Pyramid of Cheops was a relic of antiquity, when almost the whole circle of arts, sciences, and literature had been run through, when every nation within reach had been conquered, when woman had been developed into one of the most fascinating of beings, and even reigned more absolutely than Elizabeth or Victoria has reigned since: it was a pretty tired old world at that time. One might almost say that the further we go back the older and more “played out” the world appears, notwithstanding that the poets, who were generally pessimists of the present, kept harping about the youth of the world and the joyous spontaneity of human life in some golden age before their time. In fact, the world is old in spots—in Memphis and Boston and Damascus and Salem and Ephesus. Some of these places are venerable in traditions, and some of them are actually worn out and taking a rest from too much civilization—lying fallow, as the saying is. But age is so entirely relative that to many persons the landing of the Mayflower seems more remote than the voyage of Jason, and a Mayflower chest a more antique piece of furniture than the timbers of the Ark, which some believe can still be seen on top of Mount Ararat. But, speaking generally, the world is still young and growing, and a considerable portion of it unfinished. The oldest part, indeed, the Laurentian Hills, which were first out of water, is still only sparsely settled; and no one pretends that Florida is anything like finished, or that the delta of the Mississippi is in anything more than the process of formation. Men are so young and lively in these days that they cannot wait for the slow processes of nature, but they fill up and bank up places, like Holland, where they can live; and they keep on exploring and discovering incongruous regions, like Alaska, where they can go and exercise their juvenile exuberance.

In many respects the world has been growing younger ever since the Christian era. A new spirit came into it then which makes youth perpetual, a spirit of living in others, which got the name of universal brotherhood, a spirit that has had a good many discouragements and set-backs, but which, on the whole, gains ground, and generally works in harmony with the scientific spirit, breaking down the exclusive character of the conquests of nature. What used to be the mystery and occultism of the few is now general knowledge, so that all the playing at occultism by conceited people now seems jejune and foolish. A little machine called the instantaneous photograph takes pictures as quickly and accurately as the human eye does, and besides makes them permanent. Instead of fooling credulous multitudes with responses from Delphi, we have a Congress which can enact tariff regulations susceptible of interpretations enough to satisfy the love of mystery of the entire nation. Instead of loafing round Memnon at sunrise to catch some supernatural tones, we talk words into a little contrivance which will repeat our words and tones to the remotest generation of those who shall be curious to know whether we said those words in jest or earnest. All these mysteries made common and diffused certainly increase the feeling of the equality of opportunity in the world. And day by day such wonderful things are discovered and scattered abroad that we are warranted in believing that we are only on the threshold of turning to account the hidden forces of nature. There would be great danger of human presumption and conceit in this progress if the conceit were not so widely diffused, and where we are all conceited there is no one to whom it will appear unpleasant. If there was only one person who knew about the telephone he would be unbearable. Probably the Eiffel Tower would be stricken down as a monumental presumption, like that of Babel, if it had not been raised with the full knowledge and consent of all the world.

This new spirit, with its multiform manifestations, which came into the world nearly nineteen hundred years ago, is sometimes called the spirit of Christmas. And good reasons can be given for supposing that it is. At any rate, those nations that have the most of it are the most prosperous, and those people who have the most of it are the most agreeable to associate with. Know all men by these Presents, is an old legal form which has come to have a new meaning in this dispensation. It is by the spirit of brotherhood exhibited in giving presents that we know the Christmas proper, only we are apt to take it in too narrow a way. The real spirit of Christmas is the general diffusion of helpfulness and good-will. If somebody were to discover an elixir which would make every one truthful, he would not, in this age of the world, patent it. Indeed, the Patent Office would not let him make a corner on virtue as he does in wheat; and it is not respectable any more among the real children of Christmas to make a corner in wheat. The world, to be sure, tolerates still a great many things that it does not approve of, and, on the whole, Christmas, as an ameliorating and good-fellowship institution, gains a little year by year. There is still one hitch about it, and a bad one just now, namely, that many people think they can buy its spirit by jerks of liberality, by costly gifts. Whereas the fact is that a great many of the costliest gifts in this season do not count at all. Crumbs from the rich man's table don't avail any more to open the pearly gates even of popular esteem in this world. Let us say, in fine, that a loving, sympathetic heart is better than a nickel-plated service in this world, which is surely growing young and sympathetic.


In Autumn the thoughts lightly turn to Age. If the writer has seemed to be interested, sometimes to the neglect of other topics, in the American young woman, it was not because she is interested in herself, but because she is on the way to be one of the most agreeable objects in this lovely world. She may struggle against it; she may resist it by all the legitimate arts of the coquette and the chemist; she may be convinced that youth and beauty are inseparable allies; but she would have more patience if she reflected that the sunset is often finer than the sunrise, commonly finer than noon, especially after a stormy day. The secret of a beautiful old age is as well worth seeking as that of a charming young maidenhood. For it is one of the compensations for the rest of us, in the decay of this mortal life, that women, whose mission it is to allure in youth and to tinge the beginning of the world with romance, also make the end of the world more serenely satisfactory and beautiful than the outset. And this has been done without any amendment to the Constitution of the United States; in fact, it is possible that the Sixteenth Amendment would rather hinder than help this gracious process. We are not speaking now of what is called growing old gracefully and regretfully, as something to be endured, but as a season to be desired for itself, at least by those whose privilege it is to be ennobled and cheered by it. And we are not speaking of wicked old women. There is a unique fascination—all the novelists recognize it—in a wicked old woman; not very wicked, but a woman of abundant experience, who is perfectly frank and a little cynical, and delights in probing human nature and flashing her wit on its weaknesses, and who knows as much about life as a club man is credited with knowing. She may not be a good comrade for the young, but she is immensely more fascinating than a semi-wicked old man. Why, we do not know; that is one of the unfathomable mysteries of womanhood. No; we have in mind quite another sort of woman, of which America has so many that they are a very noticeable element in all cultivated society. And the world has nothing more lovely. For there is a loveliness or fascination sometimes in women between the ages of sixty and eighty that is unlike any other—a charm that woos us to regard autumn as beautiful as spring.

Perhaps these women were great beauties in their day, but scarcely so serenely beautiful as now when age has refined all that was most attractive. Perhaps they were plain; but it does not matter, for the subtle influence of spiritualized-intelligence has the power of transforming plainness into the beauty of old age. Physical beauty is doubtless a great advantage, and it is never lost if mind shines through it (there is nothing so unlovely as a frivolous old woman fighting to keep the skin-deep beauty of her youth); the eyes, if the life has not been one of physical suffering, usually retain their power of moving appeal; the lines of the face, if changed, may be refined by a certain spirituality; the gray hair gives dignity and softness and the charm of contrast; the low sweet voice vibrates to the same note of femininity, and the graceful and gracious are graceful and gracious still. Even into the face and bearing of the plain woman whose mind has grown, whose thoughts have been pure, whose heart has been expanded by good deeds or by constant affection, comes a beauty winning and satisfactory in the highest degree.

It is not that the charm of the women of whom we speak is mainly this physical beauty; that is only incidental, as it were. The delight in their society has a variety of sources. Their interest in life is broader than it once was, more sympathetically unselfish; they have a certain philosophical serenity that is not inconsistent with great liveliness of mind; they have got rid of so much nonsense; they can afford to be truthful—and how much there is to be learned from a woman who is truthful! they have a most delicious courage of opinion, about men, say, and in politics, and social topics, and creeds even. They have very little any longer to conceal; that is, in regard to things that should be thought about and talked about at all. They are not afraid to be gay, and to have enthusiasms. At sixty and eighty a refined and well-bred woman is emancipated in the best way, and in the enjoyment of the full play of the richest qualities of her womanhood. She is as far from prudery as from the least note of vulgarity. Passion, perhaps, is replaced by a great capacity for friendliness, and she was never more a real woman than in these mellow and reflective days. And how interesting she is—adding so much knowledge of life to the complex interest that inheres in her sex! Knowledge of life, yes, and of affairs; for it must be said of these ladies we have in mind that they keep up with the current thought, that they are readers of books, even of newspapers—for even the newspaper can be helpful and not harmful in the alembic of their minds.

Let not the purpose of this paper be misunderstood. It is not to urge young women to become old or to act like old women. The independence and frankness of age might not be becoming to them. They must stumble along as best they can, alternately attracting and repelling, until by right of years they join that serene company which is altogether beautiful. There is a natural unfolding and maturing to the beauty of old age. The mission of woman, about which we are pretty weary of hearing, is not accomplished by any means in her years of vernal bloom and loveliness; she has equal power to bless and sweeten life in the autumn of her pilgrimage. But here is an apologue: The peach, from blossom to maturity, is the most attractive of fruits. Yet the demands of the market, competition, and fashion often cause it to be plucked and shipped while green. It never matures, though it may take a deceptive richness of color; it decays without ripening. And the last end of that peach is worse than the first.


On one of the most charming of the many wonderfully picturesque little beaches on the Pacific coast, near Monterey, is the idlest if not the most disagreeable social group in the world. Just off the shore, farther than a stone's-throw, lies a mass of broken rocks. The surf comes leaping and laughing in, sending up, above the curving green breakers and crests of foam, jets and spirals of water which flash like silver fountains in the sunlight. These islets of rocks are the homes of the sea-lion. This loafer of the coast congregates here by the thousand. Sometimes the rocks are quite covered, the smooth rounded surface of the larger one presenting the appearance at a distance of a knoll dotted with dirty sheep. There is generally a select knot of a dozen floating about in the still water under the lee of the rock, bobbing up their tails and flippers very much as black driftwood might heave about in the tide. During certain parts of the day members of this community are off fishing in deep water; but what they like best to do is to crawl up on the rocks and grunt and bellow, or go to sleep in the sun. Some of them lie half in water, their tails floating and their ungainly heads wagging. These uneasy ones are always wriggling out or plunging in. Some crawl to the tops of the rocks and lie like gunny bags stuffed with meal, or they repose on the broken surfaces like masses of jelly. When they are all at home the rocks have not room for them, and they crawl on and over each other, and lie like piles of undressed pork. In the water they are black, but when they are dry in the sun the skin becomes a dirty light brown. Many of them are huge fellows, with a body as big as an ox. In the water they are repulsively graceful; on the rocks they are as ungainly as boneless cows, or hogs that have lost their shape in prosperity. Summer and winter (and it is almost always summer on this coast) these beasts, which are well fitted neither for land nor water, spend their time in absolute indolence, except when they are compelled to cruise around in the deep water for food. They are of no use to anybody, either for their skin or their flesh. Nothing could be more thoroughly disgusting and uncanny than they are, and yet nothing more fascinating. One can watch them—the irresponsible, formless lumps of intelligent flesh—for hours without tiring. I scarcely know what the fascination is. A small seal playing by himself near the shore, floating on and diving under the breakers, is not so very disagreeable, especially if he comes so near that you can see his pathetic eyes; but these brutes in this perpetual summer resort are disgustingly attractive. Nearly everything about them, including their voice, is repulsive. Perhaps it is the absolute idleness of the community that makes it so interesting. To fish, to swim, to snooze on the rocks, that is all, for ever and ever. No past, no future. A society that lives for the laziest sort of pleasure. If they were rich, what more could they have? Is not this the ideal of a watering-place life?

The spectacle of this happy community ought to teach us humility and charity in judgment. Perhaps the philosophy of its attractiveness lies deeper than its 'dolce far niente' existence. We may never have considered the attraction for us of the disagreeable, the positive fascination of the uncommonly ugly. The repulsive fascination of the loathly serpent or dragon for women can hardly be explained on theological grounds. Some cranks have maintained that the theory of gravitation alone does not explain the universe, that repulsion is as necessary as attraction in our economy. This may apply to society. We are all charmed with the luxuriance of a semi-tropical landscape, so violently charmed that we become in time tired of its overpowering bloom and color. But what is the charm of the wide, treeless desert, the leagues of sand and burnt-up chaparral, the distant savage, fantastic mountains, the dry desolation as of a world burnt out? It is not contrast altogether. For this illimitable waste has its own charm; and again and again, when we come to a world of vegetation, where the vision is shut in by beauty, we shall have an irrepressible longing for these wind-swept plains as wide as the sea, with the ashy and pink horizons. We shall long to be weary of it all again—its vast nakedness, its shimmering heat, its cold, star-studded nights. It seems paradoxical, but it is probably true, that a society composed altogether of agreeable people would become a terrible bore. We are a “kittle” lot, and hard to please for long. We know how it is in the matter of climate. Why is it that the masses of the human race live in the most disagreeable climates to be found on the globe, subject to extremes of heat and cold, sudden and unprovoked changes, frosts, fogs, malarias? In such regions they congregate, and seem to like the vicissitudes, to like the excitement of the struggle with the weather and the patent medicines to keep alive. They hate the agreeable monotony of one genial day following another the year through. They praise this monotony, all literature is full of it; people always say they are in search of the equable climate; but they continue to live, nevertheless, or try to live, in the least equable; and if they can find one spot more disagreeable than another there they build a big city. If man could make his ideal climate he would probably be dissatisfied with it in a month. The effect of climate upon disposition and upon manners needs to be considered some day; but we are now only trying to understand the attractiveness of the disagreeable. There must be some reason for it; and that would explain a social phenomenon, why there are so many unattractive people, and why the attractive readers of these essays could not get on without them.

The writer of this once traveled for days with an intelligent curmudgeon, who made himself at all points as prickly as the porcupine. There was no getting on with him. And yet when he dropped out of the party he was sorely missed. He was more attractively repulsive than the sea-lion. It was such a luxury to hate him. He was such a counter-irritant, such a stimulant; such a flavor he gave to life. We are always on the lookout for the odd, the eccentric, the whimsical. We pretend that we like the orderly, the beautiful, the pleasant. We can find them anywhere—the little bits of scenery that please the eye, the pleasant households, the group of delightful people. Why travel, then? We want the abnormal, the strong, the ugly, the unusual at least. We wish to be startled and stirred up and repelled. And we ought to be more thankful than we are that there are so many desolate and wearisome and fantastic places, and so many tiresome and unattractive people in this lovely world.


There must be something very good in human nature, or people would not experience so much pleasure in giving; there must be something very bad in human nature, or more people would try the experiment of giving. Those who do try it become enamored of it, and get their chief pleasure in life out of it; and so evident is this that there is some basis for the idea that it is ignorance rather than badness which keeps so many people from being generous. Of course it may become a sort of dissipation, or more than that, a devastation, as many men who have what are called “good wives” have reason to know, in the gradual disappearance of their wardrobe if they chance to lay aside any of it temporarily. The amount that a good woman can give away is only measured by her opportunity. Her mind becomes so trained in the mystery of this pleasure that she experiences no thrill of delight in giving away only the things her husband does not want. Her office in life is to teach him the joy of self-sacrifice. She and all other habitual and irreclaimable givers soon find out that there is next to no pleasure in a gift unless it involves some self-denial.

Let one consider seriously whether he ever gets as much satisfaction out of a gift received as out of one given. It pleases him for the moment, and if it is useful, for a long time; he turns it over, and admires it; he may value it as a token of affection, and it flatters his self-esteem that he is the object of it. But it is a transient feeling compared with that he has when he has made a gift. That substantially ministers to his self-esteem. He follows the gift; he dwells upon the delight of the receiver; his imagination plays about it; it will never wear out or become stale; having parted with it, it is for him a lasting possession. It is an investment as lasting as that in the debt of England. Like a good deed, it grows, and is continually satisfactory. It is something to think of when he first wakes in the morning—a time when most people are badly put to it for want of something pleasant to think of. This fact about giving is so incontestably true that it is a wonder that enlightened people do not more freely indulge in giving for their own comfort. It is, above all else, amazing that so many imagine they are going to get any satisfaction out of what they leave by will. They may be in a state where they will enjoy it, if the will is not fought over; but it is shocking how little gratitude there is accorded to a departed giver compared to a living giver. He couldn't take the property with him, it is said; he was obliged to leave it to somebody. By this thought his generosity is always reduced to a minimum. He may build a monument to himself in some institution, but we do not know enough of the world to which he has gone to know whether a tiny monument on this earth is any satisfaction to a person who is free of the universe. Whereas every giving or deed of real humanity done while he was living would have entered into his character, and would be of lasting service to him—that is, in any future which we can conceive.

Of course we are not confining our remarks to what are called Christmas gifts—commercially so called—nor would we undertake to estimate the pleasure there is in either receiving or giving these. The shrewd manufacturers of the world have taken notice of the periodic generosity of the race, and ingeniously produce articles to serve it, that is, to anticipate the taste and to thwart all individuality or spontaneity in it. There is, in short, what is called a “line of holiday goods,” fitting, it may be supposed, the periodic line of charity. When a person receives some of these things in the blessed season of such, he is apt to be puzzled. He wants to know what they are for, what he is to do with them. If there are no “directions” on the articles, his gratitude is somewhat tempered. He has seen these nondescripts of ingenuity and expense in the shop windows, but he never expected to come into personal relations to them. He is puzzled, and he cannot escape the unpleasant feeling that commerce has put its profit-making fingers into Christmas. Such a lot of things seem to be manufactured on purpose that people may perform a duty that is expected of them in the holidays. The house is full of these impossible things; they occupy the mantelpieces, they stand about on the tottering little tables, they are ingenious, they are made for wants yet undiscovered, they tarnish, they break, they will not “work,” and pretty soon they look “second-hand.” Yet there must be more satisfaction in giving these articles than in receiving them, and maybe a spice of malice—not that of course, for in the holidays nearly every gift expresses at least kindly remembrance—but if you give them you do not have to live with them. But consider how full the world is of holiday goods—costly goods too—that are of no earthly use, and are not even artistic, and how short life is, and how many people actually need books and other indispensable articles, and how starved are many fine drawing-rooms, not for holiday goods, but for objects of beauty.

Christmas stands for much, and for more and more in a world that is breaking down its barriers of race and religious intolerance, and one of its chief offices has been supposed to be the teaching of men the pleasure there is in getting rid of some of their possessions for the benefit of others. But this frittering away a good instinct and tendency in conventional giving of manufactures made to suit an artificial condition is hardly in the line of developing the spirit that shares the last crust or gives to the thirsty companion in the desert the first pull at the canteen. Of course Christmas feeling is the life of trade and all that, and we will be the last to discourage any sort of giving, for one can scarcely disencumber himself of anything in his passage through this world and not be benefited; but the hint may not be thrown away that one will personally get more satisfaction out of his periodic or continual benevolence if he gives during his life the things which he wants and other people need, and reserves for a fine show in his will a collected but not selected mass of holiday goods.


The idea of the relation of climate to happiness is modern. It is probably born of the telegraph and of the possibility of rapid travel, and it is more disturbing to serenity of mind than any other. Providence had so ordered it that if we sat still in almost any region of the globe except the tropics we would have, in course of the year, almost all the kinds of climate that exist. The ancient societies did not trouble themselves about the matter; they froze or thawed, were hot or cold, as it pleased the gods. They did not think of fleeing from winter any more than from the summer solstice, and consequently they enjoyed a certain contentment of mind that is absent from modern life. We are more intelligent, and therefore more discontented and unhappy. We are always trying to escape winter when we are not trying to escape summer. We are half the time 'in transitu', flying hither and thither, craving that exact adaptation of the weather to our whimsical bodies promised only to the saints who seek a “better country.” There are places, to be sure, where nature is in a sort of equilibrium, but usually those are places where we can neither make money nor spend it to our satisfaction. They lack either any stimulus to ambition or a historic association, and we soon find that the mind insists upon being cared for quite as much as the body.

How many wanderers in the past winter left comfortable homes in the United States to seek a mild climate! Did they find it in the sleet and bone-piercing cold of Paris, or anywhere in France, where the wolves were forced to come into the villages in the hope of picking up a tender child? If they traveled farther, were the railway carriages anything but refrigerators tempered by cans of cooling water? Was there a place in Europe from Spain to Greece, where the American could once be warm —really warm without effort—in or out of doors? Was it any better in divine Florence than on the chill Riviera? Northern Italy was blanketed with snow, the Apennines were white, and through the clean streets of the beautiful town a raw wind searched every nook and corner, penetrating through the thickest of English wraps, and harder to endure than ingratitude, while a frosty mist enveloped all. The traveler forgot to bring with him the contented mind of the Italian. Could he go about in a long cloak and a slouch hat, curl up in doorways out of the blast, and be content in a feeling of his own picturesqueness? Could he sit all day on the stone pavement and hold out his chilblained hand for soldi? Could he even deceive himself, in a palatial apartment with a frescoed ceiling, by an appearance of warmth in two sticks ignited by a pine cone set in an aperture in one end of the vast room, and giving out scarcely heat enough to drive the swallows from the chimney? One must be born to this sort of thing in order to enjoy it. He needs the poetic temperament which can feel in January the breath of June. The pampered American is not adapted to this kind of pleasure. He is very crude, not to say barbarous, yet in many of his tastes, but he has reached one of the desirable things in civilization, and that is a thorough appreciation of physical comfort. He has had the ingenuity to protect himself in his own climate, but when he travels he is at the mercy of customs and traditions in which the idea of physical comfort is still rudimentary. He cannot warm himself before a group of statuary, or extract heat from a canvas by Raphael, nor keep his teeth from chattering by the exquisite view from the Boboli Gardens. The cold American is insensible to art, and shivers in the presence of the warmest historical associations. It is doubtful if there is a spot in Europe where he can be ordinarily warm in winter. The world, indeed, does not care whether he is warm or not, but it is a matter of great importance to him. As he wanders from palace to palace—and he cannot escape the impression that nothing is good enough for him except a palace—he cannot think of any cottage in any hamlet in America that is not more comfortable in winter than any palace he can find. And so he is driven on in cold and weary stretches of travel to dwell among the French in Algeria, or with the Jews in Tunis, or the Moslems in Cairo. He longs for warmth as the Crusader longed for Jerusalem, but not short of Africa shall he find it. The glacial period is coming back on Europe.

The citizens of the great republic have a reputation for inordinate self-appreciation, but we are thinking that they undervalue many of the advantages their ingenuity has won. It is admitted that they are restless, and must always be seeking something that they have not at home. But aside from their ability to be warm in any part of their own country at any time of the year, where else can they travel three thousand miles on a stretch in a well-heated—too much heated—car, without change of car, without revision of tickets, without encountering a customhouse, without the necessity of stepping outdoors either for food or drink, for a library, for a bath—for any item, in short, that goes to the comfort of a civilized being? And yet we are always prating of the superior civilization of Europe. Nay, more, the traveler steps into a car—which is as comfortable as a house—in Boston, and alights from it only in the City of Mexico. In what other part of the world can that achievement in comfort and convenience be approached?

But this is not all as to climate and comfort. We have climates of all sorts within easy reach, and in quantity, both good and bad, enough to export more in fact than we need of all sorts. If heat is all we want, there are only three or four days between the zero of Maine and the 80 deg. of Florida. If New England is inhospitable and New York freezing, it is only a matter of four days to the sun and the exhilarating air of New Mexico and Arizona, and only five to the oranges and roses of that semi-tropical kingdom by the sea, Southern California. And if this does not content us, a day or two more lands us, without sea-sickness, in the land of the Aztecs, where we can live in the temperate or the tropic zone, eat strange fruits, and be reminded of Egypt and Spain and Italy, and see all the colors that the ingenuity of man has been able to give his skin. Fruits and flowers and sun in the winter-time, a climate to lounge and be happy in—all this is within easy reach, with the minimum of disturbance to our daily habits. We started out, when we turned our backs on the Old World, with the declaration that all men are free, and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of an agreeable climate. We have yet to learn, it seems, that we can indulge in that pursuit best on our own continent. There is no winter climate elsewhere to compare with that found in our extreme Southwest or in Mexico, and the sooner we put this fact into poetry and literature, and begin to make a tradition of it, the better will it be for our peace of mind and for our children. And if the continent does not satisfy us, there lie the West Indies within a few hours' sail, with all the luxuriance and geniality of the tropics. We are only half emancipated yet. We are still apt to see the world through the imagination of England, whose literature we adopted, or of Germany. To these bleak lands Italy was a paradise, and was so sung by poets who had no conception of a winter without frost. We have a winter climate of another sort from any in Europe; we have easy and comfortable access to it. The only thing we need to do now is to correct our imagination, which has been led astray. Our poets can at least do this for us by the help of a quasi-international copyright.


In times past there have been expressed desire and fear that there should be an American aristocracy, and the materials for its formation have been a good deal canvassed. In a political point of view it is of course impossible, but it has been hoped by many, and feared by more, that a social state might be created conforming somewhat to the social order in European countries. The problem has been exceedingly difficult. An aristocracy of derived rank and inherited privilege being out of the question, and an aristocracy of talent never having succeeded anywhere, because enlightenment of mind tends to liberalism and democracy, there was only left the experiment of an aristocracy of wealth. This does very well for a time, but it tends always to disintegration, and it is impossible to keep it exclusive. It was found, to use the slang of the dry-goods shops, that it would not wash, for there were liable to crowd into it at any moment those who had in fact washed for a living. An aristocracy has a slim tenure that cannot protect itself from this sort of intrusion. We have to contrive, therefore, another basis for a class (to use an un-American expression), in a sort of culture or training, which can be perpetual, and which cannot be ordered for money, like a ball costume or a livery.

Perhaps the “American Girl” may be the agency to bring this about. This charming product of the Western world has come into great prominence of late years in literature and in foreign life, and has attained a notoriety flattering or otherwise to the national pride. No institution has been better known or more marked on the Continent and in England, not excepting the tramway and the Pullman cars. Her enterprise, her daring, her freedom from conventionality, have been the theme of the novelists and the horror of the dowagers having marriageable daughters. Considered as “stock,” the American Girl has been quoted high, and the alliances that she has formed with families impecunious but noble have given her eclat as belonging to a new and conquering race in the world. But the American Girl has not simply a slender figure and a fine eye and a ready tongue, she is not simply an engaging and companionable person, she has excellent common-sense, tact, and adaptability. She has at length seen in her varied European experience that it is more profitable to have social good form according to local standards than a reputation for dash and brilliancy. Consequently the American Girl of a decade ago has effaced herself. She is no longer the dazzling courageous figure. In England, in France, in Germany, in Italy, she takes, as one may say, the color of the land. She has retired behind her mother. She who formerly marched in the van of the family procession, leading them—including the panting mother—a whimsical dance, is now the timid and retiring girl, needing the protection of a chaperon on every occasion. The satirist will find no more abroad the American Girl of the old type whom he continues to describe. The knowing and fascinating creature has changed her tactics altogether. And the change has reacted on American society. The mother has come once more to the front, and even if she is obliged to own to forty-five years to the census-taker, she has again the position and the privileges of the blooming woman of thirty. Her daughters walk meekly and with downcast (if still expectant) eyes, and wait for a sign.

That this change is the deliberate work of the American Girl, no one who knows her grace and talent will deny. In foreign travel and residence she has been quick to learn her lesson. Dazzled at first by her own capacity and the opportunities of the foreign field, she took the situation by storm. But she found too often that she had a barren conquest, and that the social traditions survived her success and became a lifelong annoyance; that is to say, it was possible to subdue foreign men, but the foreign women were impregnable in their social order. The American Girl abroad is now, therefore, with rare exceptions, as carefully chaperoned and secluded as her foreign sisters.

It is not necessary to lay too much stress upon this phase of American life abroad, but the careful observer must notice its reflex action at home. The American freedom and unconventionality in the intercourse of the young of both sexes, which has been so much commented on as characteristic of American life, may not disappear, but that small section which calls itself “society” may attain a sort of aristocratic distinction by the adoption of this foreign conventionality. It is sufficient now to note this tendency, and to claim the credit of it for the wise and intelligent American Girl. It would be a pity if it were to become nationally universal, for then it would not be the aristocratic distinction of a few, and the American woman who longs for some sort of caste would be driven to some other device.

It is impossible to tell yet what form this feminine reserve and retirement will take. It is not at all likely to go so far as the Oriental seclusion of women. The American Girl would never even seemingly give up her right of initiative. If she is to stay in the background and pretend to surrender her choice to her parents, and with it all the delights of a matrimonial campaign, she will still maintain a position of observation. If she seems to be influenced at present by the French and Italian examples, we may be sure that she is too intelligent and too fond of freedom to long tolerate any system of chaperonage that she cannot control. She will find a way to modify the traditional conventionalities so as not to fetter her own free spirit. It may be her mission to show the world a social order free from the forward independence and smartness of which she has been accused, and yet relieved of the dull stiffness of the older forms. It is enough now to notice that a change is going on, due to the effect of foreign society upon American women, and to express the patriotic belief that whatever forms of etiquette she may bow to, the American Girl will still be on earth the last and best gift of God to man.


What we want is repose. We take infinite trouble and go to the ends of the world to get it. That is what makes us all so restless. If we could only find a spot where we could sit down, content to let the world go by, away from the Sunday newspapers and the chronicles of an uneasy society, we think we should be happy. Perhaps such a place is Coronado Beach —that semi-tropical flower-garden by the sea. Perhaps another is the Timeo Terrace at Taormina. There, without moving, one has the most exquisite sea and shore far below him, so far that he has the feeling of domination without effort; the most picturesque crags and castle peaks; he has all classic legend under his eye without the trouble of reading, and mediaeval romance as well; ruins from the time of Theocritus to Freeman, with no responsibility of describing them; and one of the loveliest and most majestic of snow mountains, never twice the same in light and shade, entirely revealed and satisfactory from base to summit, with no self or otherwise imposed duty of climbing it. Here are most of the elements of peace and calm spirit. And the town itself is quite dead, utterly exhausted after a turbulent struggle of twenty-five hundred years, its poor inhabitants living along only from habit. The only new things in it—the two caravansaries of the traveler—are a hotel and a cemetery. One might end his days here in serene retrospection, and more cheaply than in other places of fewer attractions, for it is all Past and no Future. Probably, therefore, it would not suit the American, whose imagination does not work so easily backward as forward, and who prefers to build his own nest rather than settle in anybody else's rookery. Perhaps the American deceives himself when he says he wants repose; what he wants is perpetual activity and change; his peace of mind is postponed until he can get it in his own way. It is in feeling that he is a part of growth and not of decay. Foreigners are fond of writing essays upon American traits and characteristics. They touch mostly on surface indications. What really distinguishes the American from all others—for all peoples like more or less to roam, and the English of all others are globe-trotters—is not so much his restlessness as his entire accord with the spirit of “go-ahead,” the result of his absolute breaking with the Past. He can repose only in the midst of intense activity. He can sit down quietly in a town that is growing rapidly; but if it stands still, he is impelled to move his rocking-chair to one more lively. He wants the world to move, and to move unencumbered; and Europe seems to him to carry too much baggage. The American is simply the most modern of men, one who has thrown away the impedimenta of tradition. The world never saw such a spectacle before, so vast a territory informed with one uniform spirit of energy and progress, and people tumbling into it from all the world, eager for the fair field and free opportunity. The American delights in it; in Europe he misses the swing and “go” of the new life.

This large explanation may not account for the summer restlessness that overtakes nearly everybody. We are the annual victims of the delusion that there exists somewhere the ideal spot where manners are simple, and milk is pure, and lodging is cheap, where we shall fall at once into content. We never do. For content consists not in having all we want, nor, in not wanting everything, nor in being unable to get what we want, but in not wanting that we can get. In our summer flittings we carry our wants with us to places where they cannot be gratified. A few people have discovered that repose can be had at home, but this discovery is too unfashionable to find favor; we have no rest except in moving about. Looked at superficially, it seems curious that the American is, as a rule, the only person who does not emigrate. The fact is that he can go nowhere else where life is so uneasy, and where, consequently, he would have so little of his sort of repose. To put him in another country would be like putting a nineteenth-century man back into the eighteenth century. The American wants to be at the head of the procession (as he fancies he is), where he can hear the band play, and be the first to see the fireworks of the new era. He thinks that he occupies an advanced station of observation, from which his telescope can sweep the horizon for anything new. And with some reason he thinks so; for not seldom he takes up a foreign idea and tires of it before it is current elsewhere. More than one great writer of England had his first popular recognition in America. Even this season the Saturday Review is struggling with Ibsen, while Boston, having had that disease, has probably gone on to some other fad.

Far be it from us to praise the American for his lack of repose; it is enough to attempt to account for it. But from the social, or rather society, point of view, the subject has a disquieting aspect. If the American young man and young woman get it into their heads that repose, especially of manner, is the correct thing, they will go in for it in a way to astonish the world. The late cultivation of idiocy by the American dude was unique. He carried it to an extreme impossible to the youth of any nation less “gifted.” And if the American girl goes in seriously for “repose,” she will be able to give odds to any modern languidity or to any ancient marble. If what is wanted in society is cold hauteur and languid superciliousness or lofty immobility, we are confident that with a little practice she can sit stiller, and look more impassive, and move with less motion, than any other created woman. We have that confidence in her ability and adaptability. It is a question whether it is worth while to do this; to sacrifice the vivacity and charm native to her, and the natural impulsiveness and generous gift of herself which belong to a new race in a new land, which is walking always towards the sunrise.

In fine, although so much is said of the American lack of repose, is it not best for the American to be content to be himself, and let the critics adapt themselves or not, as they choose, to a new phenomenon?

Let us stick a philosophic name to it, and call it repose in activity. The American might take the candid advice given by one friend to another, who complained that it was so difficult to get into the right frame of mind. “The best thing you can do,” he said, “is to frame your mind and hang it up.”


We have not by any means got to the bottom of Realism. It matters very little what the novelists and critics say about it—what it is and what it is not; the attitude of society towards it is the important thing. Even if the critic could prove that nature and art are the same thing, and that the fiction which is Real is only a copy of nature, or if another should prove that Reality is only to be found in the Ideal, little would be gained. Literature is well enough in its place, art is an agreeable pastime, and it is right that society should take up either in seasons when lawn-tennis and polo are impracticable and afternoon teas become flavorless; but the question that society is or should be interested in is whether the young woman of the future—upon whose formation all our social hopes depend—is going to shape herself by a Realistic or an Ideal standard. It should be said in parenthesis that the young woman of the passing period has inclined towards Realism in manner and speech, if not in dress, affecting a sort of frank return to the easy-going ways of nature itself, even to the adoption of the language of the stock exchange, the race-course, and the clubs—an offering of herself on the altar of good-fellowship, with the view, no doubt, of making life more agreeable to the opposite sex, forgetting the fact that men fall in love always, or used to in the days when they could afford that luxury, with an ideal woman, or if not with an ideal woman, with one whom they idealize. And at this same time the world is full of doubts and questionings as to whether marriage is a failure. Have these questionings anything to do with the increasing Realism of women, and a consequent loss of ideals?

Of course the reader sees that the difficulty in considering this subject is whether woman is to be estimated as a work of nature or of art. And here comes in the everlasting question of what is the highest beauty, and what is most to be desired. The Greek artists, it seems to be well established, never used a model, as our artists almost invariably do, in their plastic and pictorial creations. The antique Greek statues, or their copies, which give us the highest conceptions of feminine charm and manly beauty, were made after no woman, or man born of woman, but were creations of the ideal raised to the highest conception by the passionate love and long study of nature, but never by faithful copying of it. The Romans copied the Greek art. The Greek in his best days created the ideal figure, which we love to accept as nature. Generation after generation the Greek learned to draw and learned to observe, until he was able to transmute his knowledge into the forms of grace and beauty which satisfy us as nature at her best; just as the novelist trains all his powers by the observation of life until he is able to transmute all the raw material into a creation of fiction which satisfies us. We may be sure that if the Greek artist had employed the service of models in his studio, his art would have been merely a passing phase in human history. But as it is, the world has ever since been in love with his ideal woman, and still believes in her possibility.

Now the young woman of today should not be deceived into the notion of a preferable Realistic development because the novelist of today gets her to sit to him as his model. This may be no certain indication that she is either good art or good nature. Indeed she may be quite drifting away from the ideal that a woman ought to aim at if we are to have a society that is not always tending into a realistic vulgarity and commonplace. It is perfectly true that a woman is her own excuse for being, and in a way she is doing enough for the world by simply being a woman. It is difficult to rouse her to any sense of her duty as a standard of aspiration. And it is difficult to explain exactly what it is that she is to do. If she asks if she is expected to be a model woman, the reply must be that the world does not much hanker after what—is called the “model woman.” It seems to be more a matter of tendency than anything else. Is she sagging towards Realism or rising towards Idealism? Is she content to be the woman that some of the novelists, and some of the painters also, say she is, or would she prefer to approach that ideal which all the world loves? It is a question of standards.

It is natural that in these days, when the approved gospel is that it is better to be dead than not to be Real, society should try to approach nature by the way of the materialistically ignoble, and even go such a pace of Realism as literature finds it difficult to keep up with; but it is doubtful if the young woman will get around to any desirable state of nature by this route. We may not be able to explain why servile imitation of nature degrades art and degrades woman, but both deteriorate without an ideal so high that there is no earthly model for it. Would you like to marry, perhaps, a Greek statue? says the justly contemptuous critic.

Not at all, at least not a Roman copy of one. But it would be better to marry a woman who would rather be like a Greek statue than like some of these figures, without even an idea for clothing, which are lying about on green banks in our spring exhibitions.


Idleness seems to be the last accomplishment of civilization. To be idle gracefully and contentedly and picturesquely is an art. It is one in which the Americans, who do so many things well, do not excel. They have made the excuse that they have not time, or, if they have leisure, that their temperament and nervous organization do not permit it. This excuse will pass for a while, for we are a new people, and probably we are more highly and sensitively organized than any other nation—at least the physiologists say so; but the excuse seems more and more inadequate as we accumulate wealth, and consequently have leisure. We shall not criticise the American colonies in Paris and Rome and Florence, and in other Continental places where they congregate. They know whether they are restless or contented, and what examples they set to the peoples who get their ideas of republican simplicity and virtue from the Americans who sojourn among them. They know whether with all their leisure they get placidity of mind and the real rest which the older nations have learned to enjoy. It may not be the most desirable thing for a human being to be idle, but if he will be, he should be so in a creditable manner, and with some enjoyment to himself. It is no slander to say that we in America have not yet found out the secret of this. Perhaps we shall not until our energies are spent and we are in a state of decay. At present we put as much energy into our pleasure as into our work, for it is inbred in us that laziness is a sin. This is the Puritan idea, and it must be said for it that in our experience virtue and idleness are not commonly companions. But this does not go to the bottom of the matter.

The Italians are industrious; they are compelled to be in order to pay their taxes for the army and navy and get macaroni enough to live on. But see what a long civilization has done for them. They have the manner of laziness, they have the air of leisure, they have worn off the angular corners of existence, and unconsciously their life is picturesque and enjoyable. Those among them who have money take their pleasure simply and with the least expense of physical energy. Those who have not money do the same thing. This basis of existence is calm and unexaggerated; life is reckoned by centimes, not by dollars. What an ideal place is Venice! It is not only the most picturesque city in the world, rich in all that art can invent to please the eye, but how calm it is! The vivacity which entertains the traveler is all on the surface. The nobleman in his palace if there be any palace that is not turned into a hotel, or a magazine of curiosities, or a municipal office—can live on a diet that would make an American workman strike, simply because he has learned to float through life; and the laborer is equally happy on little because he has learned to wait without much labor. The gliding, easy motion of the gondola expresses the whole situation; and the gondolier who with consummate skill urges his dreamy bark amid the throng and in the tortuous canals for an hour or two, and then sleeps in the sun, is a type of that rest in labor which we do not attain. What happiness there is in a dish of polenta, or of a few fried fish, in a cup of coffee, and in one of those apologies for cigars which the government furnishes, dear at a cent—the cigar with a straw in it, as if it were a julep, which it needs five minutes to ignite, and then will furnish occupation for a whole evening! Is it a hard lot, that of the fishermen and the mariners of the Adriatic? The lights are burning all night long in a cafe on the Riva del Schiavoni, and the sailors and idlers of the shore sit there jabbering and singing and trying their voices in lusty hallooing till the morning light begins to make the lagoon opalescent. The traveler who lodges near cannot sleep, but no more can the sailors, who steal away in the dawn, wafted by painted sails. In the heat of the day, when the fish will not bite, comes the siesta. Why should the royal night be wasted in slumber? The shore of the Riva, the Grand Canal, the islands, gleam with twinkling lamps; the dark boats glide along with a star in the prow, bearing youth and beauty and sin and ugliness, all alike softened by the shadows; the electric lights from the shores and the huge steamers shoot gleams on towers and facades; the moon wades among the fleecy clouds; here and there a barge with colored globes of light carries a band of singing men and women and players on the mandolin and the fiddle, and from every side the songs of Italy, pathetic in their worn gayety, float to the entranced ears of those who lean from balconies, or lounge in gondolas and listen with hearts made a little heavy and wistful with so much beauty.

Can any one float in such scenes and be so contentedly idle anywhere in our happy land? Have we learned yet the simple art of easy enjoyment? Can we buy it with money quickly, or is it a grace that comes only with long civilization? Italy, for instance, is full of accumulated wealth, of art, even of ostentation and display, and the new generation probably have lost the power to conceive, if not the skill to execute, the great works which excite our admiration. Nothing can be much more meretricious than its modern art, when anything is produced that is not an exact copy of something created when there was genius there. But in one respect the Italians have entered into the fruits of the ages of trial and of failure, and that, is the capacity of being idle with much money or with none, and getting day by day their pay for the bother of living in this world. It seems a difficult lesson for us to learn in country or city. Alas! when we have learned it shall we not want to emigrate, as so many of the Italians do? Some philosophers say that men were not created to be happy. Perhaps they were not intended to be idle.


Is there any such thing as conversation? It is a delicate subject to touch, because many people understand conversation to be talk; not the exchange of ideas, but of words; and we would not like to say anything to increase the flow of the latter. We read of times and salons in which real conversation existed, held by men and women. Are they altogether in the past? We believe that men do sometimes converse. Do women ever? Perhaps so. In those hours sacred to the relaxation of undress and the back hair, in the upper penetralia of the household, where two or three or six are gathered together on and about the cushioned frame intended for repose, do they converse, or indulge in that sort of chat from which not one idea is carried away? No one reports, fortunately, and we do not know. But do all the women like this method of spending hour after hour, day after day-indeed, a lifetime? Is it invigorating, even restful? Think of the talk this past summer, the rivers and oceans of it, on piazzas and galleries in the warm evenings or the fresher mornings, in private houses, on hotel verandas, in the shade of thousands of cottages by the sea and in the hills! As you recall it, what was it all about? Was the mind in a vapid condition after an evening of it? And there is so much to read, and so much to think about, and the world is so interesting, if you do think about it, and nearly every person has some peculiarity of mind that would be worth study if you could only get at it! It is really, we repeat, such an interesting world, and most people get so little out of it. Now there is the conversation of hens, when the hens are busy and not self-conscious; there is something fascinating about it, because the imagination may invest it with a recondite and spicy meaning; but the common talk of people! We infer sometimes that the hens are not saying anything, because they do not read, and consequently their minds are empty. And perhaps we are right. As to conversation, there is no use in sending the bucket into the well when the well is dry—it only makes a rattling of windlass and chain. We do not wish to be understood to be an enemy of the light traffic of human speech. Deliver us from the didactic and the everlastingly improving style of thing! Conversation, in order to be good, and intellectually inspiring, and spiritually restful, need not always be serious. It must be alert and intelligent, and mean more by its suggestions and allusions than is said. There is the light touch-and-go play about topics more or less profound that is as agreeable as heat-lightning in a sultry evening. Why may not a person express the whims and vagaries of a lambent mind (if he can get a lambent mind) without being hauled up short for it, and plunged into a heated dispute? In the freedom of real conversation the mind throws out half-thoughts, paradoxes, for which a man is not to be held strictly responsible to the very roots of his being, and which need to be caught up and played with in the same tentative spirit. The dispute and the hot argument are usually the bane of conversation and the death of originality. We like to express a notion, a fancy, without being called upon to defend it, then and there, in all its possible consequences, as if it were to be an article in a creed or a plank in a platform. Must we be always either vapid or serious?

We have been obliged to take notice of the extraordinary tendency of American women to cultivation, to the improvement of the mind, by means of reading, clubs, and other intellectual exercises, and to acknowledge that they are leaving the men behind; that is, the men not in the so-called professions. Is this intellectualization beginning to show in the conversation of women when they are together, say in the hours of relaxation in the penetralia spoken of, or in general society? Is there less talk about the fashion of dress, and the dearness or cheapness of materials, and about servants, and the ways of the inchoate citizen called the baby, and the infinitely little details of the private life of other people? Is it true that if a group of men are talking, say about politics, or robust business, or literature, and they are joined by women (whose company is always welcome), the conversation is pretty sure to take a lower mental plane, to become more personal, more frivolous, accommodating itself to quite a different range? Do the well-read, thoughtful women, however beautiful and brilliant and capable of the gayest persiflage, prefer to talk with men, to listen to the conversation of men, rather than to converse with or listen to their own sex? If this is true, why is it? Women, as a rule, in “society” at any rate, have more leisure than men. In the facilities and felicities of speech they commonly excel men, and usually they have more of that vivacious dramatic power which is called “setting out a thing to the life.” With all these advantages, and all the world open to them in newspapers and in books, they ought to be the leaders and stimulators of the best conversation. With them it should never drop down to the too-common flatness and banality. Women have made this world one of the most beautiful places of residence to be conceived. They might make it one of the most interesting.


It is the fashion for girls to be tall. This is much more than saying that tall girls are the fashion. It means not only that the tall girl has come in, but that girls are tall, and are becoming tall, because it is the fashion, and because there is a demand for that sort of girl. There is no hint of stoutness, indeed the willowy pattern is preferred, but neither is leanness suggested; the women of the period have got hold of the poet's idea, “tall and most divinely fair,” and are living up to it. Perhaps this change in fashion is more noticeable in England and on the Continent than in America, but that may be because there is less room for change in America, our girls being always of an aspiring turn. Very marked the phenomenon is in England; on the street, at any concert or reception, the number of tall girls is so large as to occasion remark, especially among the young girls just coming into the conspicuousness of womanhood. The tendency of the new generation is towards unusual height and gracious slimness. The situation would be embarrassing to thousands of men who have been too busy to think about growing upward, were it not for the fact that the tall girl, who must be looked up to, is almost invariably benignant, and bears her height with a sweet timidity that disarms fear. Besides, the tall girl has now come on in such force that confidence is infused into the growing army, and there is a sense of support in this survival of the tallest that is very encouraging to the young.

Many theories have been put forward to account for this phenomenon. It is known that delicate plants in dark places struggle up towards the light in a frail slenderness, and it is said that in England, which seems to have increasing cloudiness, and in the capital more and more months of deeper darkness and blackness, it is natural that the British girl should grow towards the light. But this is a fanciful view of the case, for it cannot be proved that English men have proportionally increased their stature. The English man has always seemed big to the Continental peoples, partly because objects generally take on gigantic dimensions when seen through a fog. Another theory, which has much more to commend it, is that the increased height of women is due to the aesthetic movement, which has now spent its force, but has left certain results, especially in the change of the taste in colors. The woman of the aesthetic artist was nearly always tall, usually willowy, not to say undulating and serpentine. These forms of feminine loveliness and commanding height have been for many years before the eyes of the women of England in paintings and drawings, and it is unavoidable that this pattern should not have its effect upon the new and plastic generation. Never has there been another generation so open to new ideas; and if the ideal of womanhood held up was that of length and gracious slenderness, it would be very odd if women should not aspire to it. We know very well the influence that the heroines of the novelists have had from time to time upon the women of a given period. The heroine of Scott was, no doubt, once common in society—the delicate creature who promptly fainted on the reminiscence of the scent of a rose, but could stand any amount of dragging by the hair through underground passages, and midnight rides on lonely moors behind mailed and black-mantled knights, and a run or two of hair-removing typhoid fever, and come out at the end of the story as fresh as a daisy. She could not be found now, so changed are the requirements of fiction. We may assume, too, that the full-blown aesthetic girl of that recent period—the girl all soul and faded harmonies—would be hard to find, but the fascination of the height and slenderness of that girl remains something more than a tradition, and is, no doubt, to some extent copied by the maiden just coming into her kingdom.

Those who would belittle this matter may say that the appearance of which we speak is due largely to the fashion of dress—the long unbroken lines which add to the height and encourage the appearance of slenderness. But this argument gives away the case. Why do women wear the present fascinating gowns, in which the lithe figure is suggested in all its womanly dignity? In order that they may appear to be tall. That is to say, because it is the fashion to be tall; women born in the mode are tall, and those caught in a hereditary shortness endeavor to conform to the stature of the come and coming woman.

There is another theory, that must be put forward with some hesitation, for the so-called emancipation of woman is a delicate subject to deal with, for while all the sex doubtless feel the impulse of the new time, there are still many who indignantly reject the implication in the struggle for the rights of women. To say, therefore, that women are becoming tall as a part of their outfit for taking the place of men in this world would be to many an affront, so that this theory can only be suggested. Yet probably physiology would bear us out in saying that the truly emancipated woman, taking at last the place in affairs which men have flown in the face of Providence by denying her, would be likely to expand physically as well as mentally, and that as she is beginning to look down upon man intellectually, she is likely to have a corresponding physical standard.

Seriously, however, none of these theories are altogether satisfactory, and we are inclined to seek, as is best in all cases, the simplest explanation. Women are tall and becoming tall simply because it is the fashion, and that statement never needs nor is capable of any explanation. Awhile ago it was the fashion to be petite and arch; it is now the fashion to be tall and gracious, and nothing more can be said about it. Of course the reader, who is usually inclined to find the facetious side of any grave topic, has already thought of the application of the self-denying hymn, that man wants but little here below, and wants that little long; but this may be only a passing sigh of the period. We are far from expressing any preference for tall women over short women. There are creative moods of the fancy when each seems the better. We can only chronicle, but never create.


Many people regard the keeping of a diary as a meritorious occupation. The young are urged to take up this cross; it is supposed to benefit girls especially. Whether women should do it is to some minds not an open question, although there is on record the case of the Frenchman who tried to shoot himself when he heard that his wife was keeping a diary. This intention of suicide may have arisen from the fear that his wife was keeping a record of his own peccadilloes rather than of her own thoughts and emotions. Or it may have been from the fear that she was putting down those little conjugal remarks which the husband always dislikes to have thrown up to him, and which a woman can usually quote accurately, it may be for years, it may be forever, without the help of a diary. So we can appreciate without approving the terror of the Frenchman at living on and on in the same house with a growing diary. For it is not simply that this little book of judgment is there in black and white, but that the maker of it is increasing her power of minute observation and analytic expression. In discussing the question whether a woman should keep a diary it is understood that it is not a mere memorandum of events and engagements, such as both men and women of business and affairs necessarily keep, but the daily record which sets down feelings, emotions, and impressions, and criticises people and records opinions. But this is a question that applies to men as well as to women.

It has been assumed that the diary serves two good purposes: it is a disciplinary exercise for the keeper of it, and perhaps a moral guide; and it has great historical value. As to the first, it may be helpful to order, method, discipline, and it may be an indulgence of spleen, whims, and unwholesome criticism and conceit. The habit of saying right out what you think of everybody is not a good one, and the record of such opinions and impressions, while it is not so mischievous to the public as talking may be, is harmful to the recorder. And when we come to the historical value of the diary, we confess to a growing suspicion of it. It is such a deadly weapon when it comes to light after the passage of years. It has an authority which the spoken words of its keeper never had. It is 'ex parte', and it cannot be cross-examined. The supposition is that being contemporaneous with the events spoken of, it must be true, and that it is an honest record. Now, as a matter of fact, we doubt if people are any more honest as to themselves or others in a diary than out of it; and rumors, reported facts, and impressions set down daily in the heat and haste of the prejudicial hour are about as likely to be wrong as right. Two diaries of the same events rarely agree. And in turning over an old diary we never know what to allow for the personal equation. The diary is greatly relied on by the writers of history, but it is doubtful if there is any such liar in the world, even when the keeper of it is honest. It is certain to be partisan, and more liable to be misinformed than a newspaper, which exercises some care in view of immediate publicity. The writer happens to know of two diaries which record, on the testimony of eye-witnesses, the circ*mstances of the last hours of Garfield, and they differ utterly in essential particulars. One of these may turn up fifty years from now, and be accepted as true. An infinite amount of gossip goes into diaries about men and women that would not stand the test of a moment's contemporary publication. But by-and-by it may all be used to smirch or brighten unjustly some one's character. Suppose a man in the Army of the Potomac had recorded daily all his opinions of men and events. Reading it over now, with more light and a juster knowledge of character and of measures, is it not probable that he would find it a tissue of misconceptions? Few things are actually what they seem today; they are colored both by misapprehensions and by moods. If a man writes a letter or makes report of an occurrence for immediate publication, subject to universal criticism, there is some restraint on him. In his private letter, or diary especially, he is apt to set down what comes into his head at the moment, often without much effort at verification.

We have been led to this disquisition into the fundamental nature of this private record by the question put to us, whether it is a good plan for a woman to keep a diary. Speaking generally, the diary has become a sort of fetich, the authority of which ought to be overthrown. It is fearful to think how our characters are probably being lied away by innumerable pen scratches in secret repositories, which may some day come to light as unimpeachable witnesses. The reader knows that he is not the sort of man which the diarist jotted him down to be in a single interview. The diary may be a good thing for self-education, if the keeper could insure its destruction. The mental habit of diarizing may have some value, even when it sets undue importance upon trifles. We confess that, never having seen a woman's private diary (except those that have been published), we do not share the popular impression as to their tenuity implied in the question put to us. Taking it for granted that they are full of noble thoughts and beautiful imaginings, we doubt whether the time spent on them could not be better employed in acquiring knowledge or taking exercise. For the diary forgotten and left to the next generation may be as dangerous as dynamite.


The wisdom of our ancestors packed away in proverbial sayings may always be a little suspected. We have a vague respect for a popular proverb, as embodying folk-experience, and expressing not the wit of one, but the common thought of a race. We accept the saying unquestioning, as a sort of inspiration out of the air, true because nobody has challenged it for ages, and probably for the same reason that we try to see the new moon over our left shoulder. Very likely the musty saying was the product of the average ignorance of an unenlightened time, and ought not to have the respect of a scientific and traveled people. In fact it will be found that a large proportion of the proverbial sayings which we glibly use are fallacies based on a very limited experience of the world, and probably were set afloat by the idiocy or prejudice of one person. To examine one of them is enough for our present purpose.

 “Whistling girls and crowing hens Always come to some bad ends.” 

It would be interesting to know the origin of this proverb, because it is still much relied on as evincing a deep knowledge of human nature, and as an argument against change, that is to say, in this case, against progress. It would seem to have been made by a man, conservative, perhaps malevolent, who had no appreciation of a hen, and a conservatively poor opinion of woman. His idea was to keep woman in her place—a good idea when not carried too far—but he did not know what her place is, and he wanted to put a sort of restraint upon her emancipation by coupling her with an emancipated hen. He therefore launched this shaft of ridicule, and got it to pass as an arrow of wisdom shot out of a popular experience in remote ages.

In the first place, it is not true, and probably never was true even when hens were at their lowest. We doubts its Sanscrit antiquity. It is perhaps of Puritan origin, and rhymed in New England. It is false as to the hen. A crowing hen was always an object of interest and distinction; she was pointed out to visitors; the owner was proud of her accomplishment, he was naturally likely to preserve her life, and especially if she could lay. A hen that can lay and crow is a 'rara avis'. And it should be parenthetically said here that the hen who can crow and cannot lay is not a good example for woman. The crowing hen was of more value than the silent hen, provided she crowed with discretion; and she was likely to be a favorite, and not at all to come to some bad end. Except, indeed, where the proverb tended to work its own fulfillment. And this is the regrettable side of most proverbs of an ill-nature, that they do help to work the evil they predict. Some foolish boy, who had heard this proverb, and was sent out to the hen-coop in the evening to slay for the Thanksgiving feast, thought he was a justifiable little providence in wringing the neck of the crowing hen, because it was proper (according to the saying) that she should come to some bad end. And as years went on, and that kind of boy increased and got to be a man, it became a fixed idea to kill the amusing, interesting, spirited, emancipated hen, and naturally the barn-yard became tamer and tamer, the production of crowing hens was discouraged (the wise old hens laid no eggs with a crow in them, according to the well-known principle of heredity), and the man who had in his youth exterminated the hen of progress actually went about quoting that false couplet as an argument against the higher education of woman.

As a matter of fact, also, the couplet is not true about woman; whether it ought to be true is an ethical question that will not be considered here. The whistling girl does not commonly come to a bad end. Quite as often as any other girl she learns to whistle a cradle song, low and sweet and charming, to the young voter in the cradle. She is a girl of spirit, of independence of character, of dash and flavor; and as to lips, why, you must have some sort of presentable lips to whistle; thin ones will not. The whistling girl does not come to a bad end at all (if marriage is still considered a good occupation), except a cloud may be thrown upon her exuberant young life by this rascally proverb. Even if she walks the lonely road of life, she has this advantage, that she can whistle to keep her courage up. But in a larger sense, one that this practical age can understand, it is not true that the whistling girl comes to a bad end. Whistling pays. It has brought her money; it has blown her name about the listening world. Scarcely has a non-whistling woman been more famous. She has set aside the adage. She has done so much towards the emancipation of her sex from the prejudice created by an ill-natured proverb which never had root in fact.

But has the whistling woman come to stay? Is it well for woman to whistle? Are the majority of women likely to be whistlers? These are serious questions, not to be taken up in a light manner at the end of a grave paper. Will woman ever learn to throw a stone? There it is. The future is inscrutable. We only know that whereas they did not whistle with approval, now they do; the prejudice of generations gradually melts away. And woman's destiny is not linked with that of the hen, nor to be controlled by a proverb—perhaps not by anything.


We have been remiss in not proposing a remedy for our present social and economic condition. Looking backward, we see this. The scheme may not be practical, any more than the Utopian plans that have been put forward, but it is radical and interesting, and requires, as the other schemes do, a total change in human nature (which may be a good thing to bring about), and a general recasting of the conditions of life. This is and should be no objection to a socialistic scheme. Surface measures will not avail. The suggestion for a minor alleviation of inequality, which seems to have been acted on, namely, that women should propose, has not had the desired effect if it is true, as reported, that the eligible young men are taking to the woods. The workings of such a measure are as impossible to predict in advance as the operation of the McKinley tariff. It might be well to legislate that people should be born equal (including equal privileges of the sexes), but the practical difficulty is to keep them equal. Life is wrong somehow. Some are born rich and some are born poor, and this inequality makes misery, and then some lose their possessions, which others get hold of, and that makes more misery. We can put our fingers on the two great evils of life as it now is: the first is poverty; and the second is infirmity, which is the accompaniment of increasing years. Poverty, which is only the unequal distribution of things desired, makes strife, and is the opportunity of lawyers; and infirmity is the excuse for doctors. Think what the world would be without lawyers and doctors!

We are all born young, and most of us are born poor. Youth is delightful, but we are always getting away from it. How different it would be if we were always going towards it! Poverty is unpleasant, and the great struggle of life is to get rid of it; but it is the common fortune that in proportion as wealth is attained the capacity of enjoying it departs. It seems, therefore, that our life is wrong end first. The remedy suggested is that men should be born rich and old. Instead of the necessity of making a fortune, which is of less and less value as death approaches, we should have only the privilege of spending it, and it would have its natural end in the cradle, in which we should be rocked into eternal sleep. Born old, one would, of course, inherit experience, so that wealth could be made to contribute to happiness, and each day, instead of lessening the natural powers and increasing infirmities, would bring new vigor and capacity of enjoyment. It would be going from winter to autumn, from autumn to summer, from summer to spring. The joy of a life without care as to ways and means, and every morning refitted with the pulsations of increasing youth, it is almost impossible to imagine. Of course this scheme has difficulties on the face of it. The allotting of the measure of wealth would not be difficult to the socialists, because they would insist that every person should be born with an equal amount of property. What this should be would depend upon the length of life; and how should this be arrived at? The insurance companies might agree, but no one else would admit that he belongs in the average. Naturally the Biblical limit of threescore and ten suggests itself; but human nature is very queer. With the plain fact before them that the average life of man is less than thirty-four years, few would be willing, if the choice were offered, to compromise on seventy. Everybody has a hope of going beyond that, so that if seventy were proposed as the year at birth, there would no doubt be as much dissatisfaction as there is at the present loose arrangement. Science would step in, and demonstrate that there is no reason why, with proper care of the system, it should not run a hundred years. It is improbable, then, that the majority could be induced to vote for the limit of seventy years, or to exchange the exciting uncertainty of adding a little to the period which must be accompanied by the weight of the grasshopper, for the certainty of only seventy years in this much-abused world.

But suppose a limit to be agreed on, and the rich old man and the rich old woman (never now too old to marry) to start on their career towards youth and poverty. The imagination kindles at the idea. The money would hold out just as long as life lasted, and though it would all be going downhill, as it were, what a charming descent, without struggle, and with only the lessening infirmities that belong to decreasing age! There would be no second childhood, only the innocence and elasticity of the first. It all seems very fair, but we must not forget that this is a mortal world, and that it is liable to various accidents. Who, for instance, could be sure that he would grow young gracefully? There would be the constant need of fighting the hot tempers and impulses of youth, growing more and more instead of less and less unreasonable. And then, how many would reach youth? More than half, of course, would be cut off in their prime, and be more and more liable to go as they fell back into the pitfalls and errors of childhood. Would people grow young together even as harmoniously as they grow old together? It would be a pretty sight, that of the few who descended into the cradle together, but this inversion of life would not escape the woes of mortality. And there are other considerations, unless it should turn out that a universal tax on land should absolutely change human nature. There are some who would be as idle and spendthrift going towards youth as they now are going away from it, and perhaps more, so that half the race on coming to immaturity would be in child asylums. And then others who would be stingy and greedy and avaricious, and not properly spend their allotted fortune. And we should have the anomaly, which is so distasteful to the reformer now, of rich babies. A few babies inordinately rich, and the rest in asylums.

Still, the plan has more to recommend it than most others for removing poverty and equalizing conditions. We should all start rich, and the dying off of those who would never attain youth would amply provide fortunes for those born old. Crime would be less also; for while there would, doubtless, be some old sinners, the criminal class, which is very largely under thirty, would be much smaller than it is now. Juvenile depravity would proportionally disappear, as not more people would reach non-age than now reach over-age. And the great advantage of the scheme, one that would indeed transform the world, is that women would always be growing younger.


The “old soldier” is beginning to outline himself upon the public mind as a distant character in American life. Literature has not yet got hold of him, and perhaps his evolution is not far enough advanced to make him as serviceable as the soldier of the Republic and the Empire, the relic of the Old Guard, was to Hugo and Balzac, the trooper of Italy and Egypt, the maimed hero of Borodino and Waterloo, who expected again the coming of the Little Corporal. It takes time to develop a character, and to throw the glamour of romance over what may be essentially commonplace. A quarter of a century has not sufficed to separate the great body of the surviving volunteers in the war for the Union from the body of American citizens, notwithstanding the organization of the Grand Army of the Republic, the encampments, the annual reunions, and the distinction of pensions, and the segregation in Soldiers' Homes. The “old soldier” slowly eliminates himself from the mass, and begins to take, and to make us take, a romantic view of his career. There was one event in his life, and his personality in it looms larger and larger as he recedes from it. The heroic sacrifice of it does not diminish, as it should not, in our estimation, and he helps us to keep glowing a lively sense of it. The past centres about him and his great achievement, and the whole of life is seen in the light of it. In his retreat in the Home, and in his wandering from one Home to another, he ruminates on it, he talks of it; he separates himself from the rest of mankind by a broad distinction, and his point of view of life becomes as original as it is interesting. In the Homes the battered veterans speak mainly of one thing; and in the monotony of their spent lives develop whimseys and rights and wrongs, patriotic ardors and criticisms on their singular fate, which are original in their character in our society. It is in human nature to like rest but not restriction, bounty but not charity, and the tired heroes of the war grow restless, though every physical want is supplied. They have a fancy that they would like to see again the homes of their youth, the farmhouse in the hills, the cottage in the river valley, the lonesome house on the wide prairie, the street that ran down to the wharf where the fishing-smacks lay, to see again the friends whom they left there, and perhaps to take up the occupations that were laid down when they seized the musket in 1861. Alas! it is not their home anymore; the friends are no longer there; and what chance is there of occupation for a man who is now feeble in body and who has the habit of campaigning? This generation has passed on to other things. It looks upon the hero as an illustration in the story of the war, which it reads like history. The veteran starts out from the shelter of the Home. One evening, towards sunset, the comfortable citizen, taking the mild air on his piazza, sees an interesting figure approach. Its dress is half military, half that of the wanderer whose attention to his personal appearance is only spasmodic.

The veteran gives the military salute, he holds himself erect, almost too erect, and his speech is voluble and florid. It is a delightful evening; it seems to be a good growing-time; the country looks prosperous. He is sorry to be any trouble or interruption, but the fact is—yes, he is on his way to his old home in Vermont; it seems like he would like to taste some home cooking again, and sit in the old orchard, and perhaps lay his bones, what is left of them, in the burying-ground on the hill. He pulls out his well-worn papers as he talks; there is the honorable discharge, the permit of the Home, and the pension. Yes, Uncle Sam is generous; it is the most generous government God ever made, and he would willingly fight for it again. Thirty dollars a month, that is what he has; he is not a beggar; he wants for nothing. But the pension is not payable till the end of the month. It is entirely his own obligation, his own fault; he can fight, but he cannot lie, and nobody is to blame but himself; but last night he fell in with some old comrades at Southdown, and, well, you know how it is. He had plenty of money when he left the Home, and he is not asking for anything now, but if he had a few dollars for his railroad fare to the next city, he could walk the rest of the way. Wounded? Well, if I stood out here against the light you could just see through me, that's all. Bullets? It's no use to try to get 'em out. But, sir, I'm not complaining. It had to be done; the country had to be saved; and I'd do it again if it were necessary. Had any hot fights? Sir, I was at Gettysburg! The veteran straightens up, and his eyes flash as if he saw again that sanguinary field. Off goes the citizen's hat. Children, come out here; here is one of the soldiers of Gettysburg! Yes, sir; and this knee—you see I can't bend it much—got stiffened at Chickamauga; and this scratch here in the neck was from a bullet at Gaines Mill; and this here, sir—thumping his chest—you notice I don't dare to cough much —after the explosion of a shell at Petersburg I found myself lying on my-back, and the only one of my squad who was not killed outright. Was it the imagination of the citizen or of the soldier that gave the impression that the hero had been in the forefront of every important action of the war? Well, it doesn't matter much. The citizen was sitting there under his own vine, the comfortable citizen of a free republic, because of the wounds in this cheerful and imaginative old wanderer. There, that is enough, sir, quite enough. I am no beggar. I thought perhaps you had heard of the Ninth Vermont. Woods is my name—Sergeant Woods. I trust some time, sir, I shall be in a position to return the compliment. Good-evening, sir; God bless your honor! and accept the blessing of an old soldier. And the dear old hero goes down the darkening avenue, not so steady of bearing as when he withstood the charge of Pickett on Cemetery Hill, and with the independence of the American citizen who deserves well of his country, makes his way to the nearest hospitable tavern.


To the northward of Hispaniola lies the island of Bimini. It may not be one of the spice islands, but it grows the best ginger to be found in the world. In it is a fair city, and beside the city a lofty mountain, at the foot of which is a noble spring called the 'Fons Juventutis'. This fountain has a sweet savor, as of all manner of spicery, and every hour of the day the water changes its savor and its smell. Whoever drinks of this well will be healed of whatever malady he has, and will seem always young. It is not reported that women and men who drink of this fountain will be always young, but that they will seem so, and probably to themselves, which simply means, in our modern accuracy of language, that they will feel young. This island has never been found. Many voyages have been made in search of it in ships and in the imagination, and Liars have said they have landed on it and drunk of the water, but they never could guide any one else thither. In the credulous centuries when these voyages were made, other islands were discovered, and a continent much more important than Bimini; but these discoveries were a disappointment, because they were not what the adventurers wanted. They did not understand that they had found a new land in which the world should renew its youth and begin a new career. In time the quest was given up, and men regarded it as one of the delusions which came to an end in the sixteenth century. In our day no one has tried to reach Bimini except Heine. Our scientific period has a proper contempt for all such superstitions. We now know that the 'Fons Juventutis' is in every man, and that if actually juvenility cannot be renewed, the advance of age can be arrested and the waste of tissues be prevented, and an uncalculated length of earthly existence be secured, by the injection of some sort of fluid into the system. The right fluid has not yet been discovered by science, but millions of people thought that it had the other day, and now confidently expect it. This credulity has a scientific basis, and has no relation to the old absurd belief in Bimini. We thank goodness that we do not live in a credulous age.

The world would be in a poor case indeed if it had not always before it some ideal or millennial condition, some panacea, some transmutation of base metals into gold, some philosopher's stone, some fountain of youth, some process of turning charcoal into diamonds, some scheme for eliminating evil. But it is worth mentioning that in the historical evolution we have always got better things than we sought or imagined, developments on a much grander scale. History is strewn with the wreck of popular delusions, but always in place of them have come realizations more astonishing than the wildest fancies of the dreamers. Florida was a disappointment as a Bimini, so were the land of the Ohio, the land of the Mississippi, the Dorado of the Pacific coast. But as the illusions, pushed always westward, vanished in the light of common day, lo! a continent gradually emerged, with millions of people animated by conquering ambition of progress in freedom; an industrial continent, covered with a network of steel, heated by steam, and lighted by electricity. What a spectacle of youth on a grand scale is this! Christopher Columbus had not the slightest conception of what he was doing when he touched the button. But we are not satisfied. Quite as far from being so as ever. The popular imagination runs a hard race with any possible natural development. Being in possession of so much, we now expect to travel in the air, to read news in the sending mind before it is sent, to create force without cost, to be transported without time, and to make everybody equal in fortune and happiness to everybody else by act of Congress. Such confidence have we in the power of a “resolution” of the people and by the people that it seems feasible to make women into men, oblivious of the more important and imperative task that will then arise of making men into women. Some of these expectations are only Biminis of the present, but when they have vanished there will be a social and industrial world quite beyond our present conceptions, no doubt. In the article of woman, for instance, she may not become the being that the convention expects, but there may appear a Woman of whom all the Aspasias and Helens were only the faintest types. And although no progress will take the conceit out of men, there may appear a Man so amenable to ordinary reason that he will give up the notion that he can lift himself up by his bootstraps, or make one grain of wheat two by calling it two.

One of the Biminis that have always been looked for is an American Literature. There was an impression that there must be such a thing somewhere on a continent that has everything else. We gave the world tobacco and the potato, perhaps the most important contributions to the content and the fatness of the world made by any new country, and it was a noble ambition to give it new styles of art and literature also. There seems to have been an impression that a literature was something indigenous or ready-made, like any other purely native product, not needing any special period of cultivation or development, and that a nation would be in a mortifying position without one, even before it staked out its cities or built any roads. Captain John Smith, if he had ever settled here and spread himself over the continent, as he was capable of doing, might have taken the contract to furnish one, and we may be sure that he would have left us nothing to desire in that direction. But the vein of romance he opened was not followed up. Other prospectings were made. Holes, so to speak, were dug in New England, and in the middle South, and along the frontier, and such leads were found that again and again the certainty arose that at last the real American ore had been discovered. Meantime a certain process called civilization went on, and certain ideas of breadth entered into our conceptions, and ideas also of the historical development of the expression of thought in the world, and with these a comprehension of what American really is, and the difficulty of putting the contents of a bushel measure into a pint cup. So, while we have been expecting the American Literature to come out from some locality, neat and clean, like a nugget, or, to change the figure, to bloom any day like a century-plant, in one striking, fragrant expression of American life, behold something else has been preparing and maturing, larger and more promising than our early anticipations. In history, in biography, in science, in the essay, in the novel and story, there are coming forth a hundred expressions of the hundred aspects of American life; and they are also sung by the poets in notes as varied as the migrating birds. The birds perhaps have the best of it thus far, but the bird is limited to a small range of performances while he shifts his singing-boughs through the climates of the continent, whereas the poet, though a little inclined to mistake aspiration for inspiration, and vagueness of longing for subtlety, is experimenting in a most hopeful manner. And all these writers, while perhaps not consciously American or consciously seeking to do more than their best in their several ways, are animated by the free spirit of inquiry and expression that belongs to an independent nation, and so our literature is coming to have a stamp of its own that is unlike any other national stamp. And it will have this stamp more authentically and be clearer and stronger as we drop the self-consciousness of the necessity of being American.


Here is June again! It never was more welcome in these Northern latitudes. It seems a pity that such a month cannot be twice as long. It has been the pet of the poets, but it is not spoiled, and is just as full of enchantment as ever. The secret of this is that it is the month of both hope and fruition. It is the girl of eighteen, standing with all her charms on the eve of womanhood, in the dress and temperament of spring. And the beauty of it is that almost every woman is young, if ever she were young, in June. For her the roses bloom, and the red clover. It is a pity the month is so short. It is as full of vigor as of beauty. The energy of the year is not yet spent; indeed, the world is opening on all sides; the school-girl is about to graduate into liberty; and the young man is panting to kick or row his way into female adoration and general notoriety. The young men have made no mistake about the kind of education that is popular with women. The women like prowess and the manly virtues of pluck and endurance. The world has not changed in this respect. It was so with the Greeks; it was so when youth rode in tournaments and unhorsed each other for the love of a lady. June is the knightly month. On many a field of gold and green the heroes will kick their way into fame; and bands of young women, in white, with their diplomas in their hands, star-eyed mathematicians and linguists, will come out to smile upon the victors in that exhibition of strength that women most admire. No, the world is not decaying or losing its juvenility. The motto still is, “Love, and may the best man win!” How jocund and immortal is woman! Now, in a hundred schools and colleges, will stand up the solemn, well-intentioned man before a row of pretty girls, and tell them about Womanhood and its Duties, and they will listen just as shyly as if they were getting news, and needed to be instructed by a man on a subject which has engaged their entire attention since they were five years old. In the light of science and experience the conceit of men is something curious. And in June! the most blossoming, riant, feminine time of the year. The month itself is a liberal education to him who is not insensible to beauty and the strong sweet promise of life. The streams run clear then, as they do not in April; the sky is high and transparent; the world seems so large and fresh and inviting. Our houses, which six months in the year in these latitudes are fortifications of defense, are open now, and the breath of life flows through them. Even over the city the sky is benign, and all the country is a heavenly exhibition. May was sweet and capricious. This is the maidenhood deliciousness of the year. If you were to bisect the heart of a true poet, you would find written therein JUNE.


By Charles Dudley Warner


It was in the time of the Second Empire. To be exact, it was the night of the 18th of June, 1868; I remember the date, because, contrary to the astronomical theory of short nights at this season, this was the longest night I ever saw. It was the loveliest time of the year in Paris, when one was tempted to lounge all day in the gardens and to give to sleep none of the balmy nights in this gay capital, where the night was illuminated like the day, and some new pleasure or delight always led along the sparkling hours. Any day the Garden of the Tuileries was a microcosm repaying study. There idle Paris sunned itself; through it the promenaders flowed from the Rue de Rivoli gate by the palace to the entrance on the Place de la Concorde, out to the Champs-Elysees and back again; here in the north grove gathered thousands to hear the regimental band in the afternoon; children chased butterflies about the flower-beds and amid the tubs of orange-trees; travelers, guide-book in hand, stood resolutely and incredulously before the groups of statuary, wondering what that Infant was doing with, the snakes and why the recumbent figure of the Nile should have so many children climbing over him; or watched the long facade of the palace hour after hour, in the hope of catching at some window the flutter of a royal robe; and swarthy, turbaned Zouaves, erect, lithe, insouciant, with the firm, springy step of the tiger, lounged along the allees.

Napoleon was at home—a fact attested by a reversal of the hospitable rule of democracy, no visitors being admitted to the palace when he was at home. The private garden, close to the imperial residence, was also closed to the public, who in vain looked across the sunken fence to the parterres, fountains, and statues, in the hope that the mysterious man would come out there and publicly enjoy himself. But he never came, though I have no doubt that he looked out of the windows upon the beautiful garden and his happy Parisians, upon the groves of horse-chestnuts, the needle-like fountain beyond, the Column of Luxor, up the famous and shining vista terminated by the Arch of the Star, and reflected with Christian complacency upon the greatness of a monarch who was the lord of such splendors and the goodness of a ruler who opened them all to his children. Especially when the western sunshine streamed down over it all, turning even the dust of the atmosphere into gold and emblazoning the windows of the Tuileries with a sort of historic glory, his heart must have swelled within him in throbs of imperial exaltation. It is the fashion nowadays not to consider him a great man, but no one pretends to measure his goodness.

The public garden of the Tuileries was closed at dusk, no one being permitted to remain in it after dark. I suppose it was not safe to trust the Parisians in the covert of its shades after nightfall, and no one could tell what foreign fanatics and assassins might do if they were permitted to pass the night so near the imperial residence. At any rate, everybody was drummed out before the twilight fairly began, and at the most fascinating hour for dreaming in the ancient garden. After sundown the great door of the Pavilion de l'Horloge swung open and there issued from it a drum-corps, which marched across the private garden and down the broad allee of the public garden, drumming as if the judgment-day were at hand, straight to the great gate of the Place de la Concorde, and returning by a side allee, beating up every covert and filling all the air with clamor until it disappeared, still thumping, into the court of the palace; and all the square seemed to ache with the sound. Never was there such pounding since Thackeray's old Pierre, who, “just to keep up his drumming, one day drummed down the Bastile”:

 At midnight I beat the tattoo, And woke up the Pikemen of Paris To follow the bold Barbaroux.

On the waves of this drumming the people poured out from every gate of the garden, until the last loiterer passed and the gendarmes closed the portals for the night. Before the lamps were lighted along the Rue de Rivoli and in the great square of the Revolution, the garden was left to the silence of its statues and its thousand memories. I often used to wonder, as I looked through the iron railing at nightfall, what might go on there and whether historic shades might not flit about in the ghostly walks.

Late in the afternoon of the 18th of June, after a long walk through the galleries of the Louvre, and excessively weary, I sat down to rest on a secluded bench in the southern grove of the garden; hidden from view by the tree-trunks. Where I sat I could see the old men and children in that sunny flower-garden, La Petite Provence, and I could see the great fountain-basin facing the Porte du Pont-Tournant. I must have heard the evening drumming, which was the signal for me to quit the garden; for I suppose even the dead in Paris hear that and are sensitive to the throb of the glory-calling drum. But if I did hear it,—it was only like an echo of the past, and I did not heed it any more than Napoleon in his tomb at the Invalides heeds, through the drawn curtain, the chanting of the daily mass. Overcome with fatigue, I must have slept soundly.

When I awoke it was dark under the trees. I started up and went into the broad promenade. The garden was deserted; I could hear the plash of the fountains, but no other sound therein. Lights were gleaming from the windows of the Tuileries, lights blazed along the Rue de Rivoli, dotted the great Square, and glowed for miles up the Champs Elysees. There were the steady roar of wheels and the tramping of feet without, but within was the stillness of death.

What should I do? I am not naturally nervous, but to be caught lurking in the Tuileries Garden in the night would involve me in the gravest peril. The simple way would have been to have gone to the gate nearest the Pavillon de Marsan, and said to the policeman on duty there that I had inadvertently fallen asleep, that I was usually a wide-awake citizen of the land that Lafayette went to save, that I wanted my dinner, and would like to get out. I walked down near enough to the gate to see the policeman, but my courage failed. Before I could stammer out half that explanation to him in his trifling language (which foreigners are mockingly told is the best in the world for conversation), he would either have slipped his hateful rapier through my body, or have raised an alarm and called out the guards of the palace to hunt me down like a rabbit.

A man in the Tuileries Garden at night! an assassin! a conspirator! one of the Carbonari, perhaps a dozen of them—who knows?—Orsini bombs, gunpowder, Greek-fire, Polish refugees, murder, emeutes, REVOLUTION!

No, I'm not going to speak to that person in the co*cked hat and dress-coat under these circ*mstances. Conversation with him out of the best phrase-books would be uninteresting. Diplomatic row between the two countries would be the least dreaded result of it. A suspected conspirator against the life of Napoleon, without a chance for explanation, I saw myself clubbed, gagged, bound, searched (my minute notes of the Tuileries confiscated), and trundled off to the Conciergerie, and hung up to the ceiling in an iron cage there, like Ravaillac.

I drew back into the shade and rapidly walked to the western gate. It was closed, of course. On the gate-piers stand the winged steeds of Marly, never less admired than by me at that moment. They interested me less than a group of the Corps d'Afrique, who lounged outside, guarding the entrance from the square, and unsuspicious that any assassin was trying to get out. I could see the gleam of the lamps on their bayonets and hear their soft tread. Ask them to let me out? How nimbly they would have scaled the fence and transfixed me! They like to do such things. No, no—whatever I do, I must keep away from the clutches of these cats of Africa.

And enough there was to do, if I had been in a mind to do it. All the seats to sit in, all the statuary to inspect, all the flowers to smell. The southern terrace overlooking the Seine was closed, or I might have amused myself with the toy railway of the Prince Imperial that ran nearly the whole length of it, with its switches and turnouts and houses; or I might have passed delightful hours there watching the lights along the river and the blazing illumination on the amusem*nt halls. But I ascended the familiar northern terrace and wandered amid its bowers, in company with Hercules, Meleager, and other worthies I knew only by sight, smelling the orange-blossoms, and trying to fix the site of the old riding-school where the National Assembly sat in 1789.

It must have been eleven o'clock when I found myself down by the private garden next the palace. Many of the lights in the offices of the household had been extinguished, but the private apartments of the Emperor in the wing south of the central pavilion were still illuminated. The Emperor evidently had not so much desire to go to bed as I had. I knew the windows of his petit* appartements—as what good American did not?—and I wondered if he was just then taking a little supper, if he had bidden good-night to Eugenie, if he was alone in his room, reflecting upon his grandeur and thinking what suit he should wear on the morrow in his ride to the Bois. Perhaps he was dictating an editorial for the official journal; perhaps he was according an interview to the correspondent of the London Glorifier; perhaps one of the Abbotts was with him. Or was he composing one of those important love-letters of state to Madame Blank which have since delighted the lovers of literature? I am not a spy, and I scorn to look into people's windows late at night, but I was lonesome and hungry, and all that square round about swarmed with imperial guards, policemen, keen-scented Zouaves, and nobody knows what other suspicious folk. If Napoleon had known that there was a


I suppose he would have called up his family, waked the drum-corps, sent for the Prefect of Police, put on the alert the 'sergents de ville,' ordered under arms a regiment of the Imperial Guards, and made it unpleasant for the Man.

All these thoughts passed through my mind, not with the rapidity of lightning, as is usual in such cases, but with the slowness of conviction. If I should be discovered, death would only stare me in the face about a minute. If he waited five minutes, who would believe my story of going to sleep and not hearing the drums? And if it were true, why didn't I go at once to the gate, and not lurk round there all night like another Clement? And then I wondered if it was not the disagreeable habit of some night-patrol or other to beat round the garden before the Sire went to bed for good, to find just such characters as I was gradually getting to feel myself to be.

But nobody came. Twelve o'clock, one o'clock sounded from the tower of the church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, from whose belfry the signal was given for the beginning of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew—the same bells that tolled all that dreadful night while the slaughter went on, while the effeminate Charles IX fired from the windows of the Louvre upon stray fugitives on the quay—bells the reminiscent sound of which, a legend (which I fear is not true) says, at length drove Catharine de Medici from the Tuileries.

One o'clock! The lights were going out in the Tuileries, had nearly all gone out. I wondered if the suspicious and timid and wasteful Emperor would keep the gas burning all night in his room. The night-roar of Paris still went on, sounding always to foreign ears like the beginning of a revolution. As I stood there, looking at the window that interested me most, the curtains were drawn, the window was opened, and a form appeared in a white robe. I had never seen the Emperor before in a night-gown, but I should have known him among a thousand. The Man of Destiny had on a white cotton night-cap, with a peaked top and no tassel. It was the most natural thing in the land; he was taking a last look over his restless Paris before he turned in. What if he should see me! I respected that last look and withdrew into the shadow. Tired and hungry, I sat down to reflect upon the pleasures of the gay capital.

One o'clock and a half! I had presence of mind enough to wind my watch; indeed, I was not likely to forget that, for time hung heavily on my hands. It was a gay capital. Would it never put out its lights, and cease its uproar, and leave me to my reflections? In less than an hour the country legions would invade the city, the market-wagons would rumble down the streets, the vegetable-man and the strawberry-woman, the fishmongers and the greens-venders would begin their melodious cries, and there would be no repose for a man even in a public garden. It is secluded enough, with the gates locked, and there is plenty of room to turn over and change position; but it is a wakeful situation at the best, a haunting sort of place, and I was not sure it was not haunted.

I had often wondered as I strolled about the place in the daytime or peered through the iron fence at dusk, if strange things did not go on here at night, with this crowd of effigies of persons historical and more or less mythological, in this garden peopled with the representatives of the dead, and no doubt by the shades of kings and queens and courtiers, 'intrigantes' and panders, priests and soldiers, who live once in this old pile—real shades, which are always invisible in the sunlight. They have local attachments, I suppose. Can science tell when they depart forever from the scenes of their objective intrusion into the affairs of this world, or how long they are permitted to revisit them? Is it true that in certain spiritual states, say of isolation or intense nervous alertness, we can see them as they can see each other? There was I—the I catalogued in the police description—present in that garden, yet so earnestly longing to be somewhere else that would it be wonderful if my 'eidolon' was somewhere else and could be seen?—though not by a policeman, for policemen have no spiritual vision.

There were no policemen in the garden, that I was certain of; but a little after half-past one I saw a Man, not a man I had ever seen before, clad in doublet and hose, with a short cloak and a felt cap with a white plume, come out of the Pavillon de Flore and turn down the quay towards the house I had seen that afternoon where it stood—of the beautiful Gabrielle d'Estrees. I might have been mistaken but for the fact that, just at this moment, a window opened in the wing of the same pavilion, and an effeminate, boyish face, weak and cruel, with a crown on its head, appeared and looked down into the shadow of the building as if its owner saw what I had seen. And there was nothing remarkable in this, except that nowadays kings do not wear crowns at night. It occurred to me that there was a masquerade going on in the Tuileries, though I heard no music, except the tinkle of, it might be, a harp, or “the lascivious pleasing of a lute,” and I walked along down towards the central pavilion. I was just in time to see two ladies emerge from it and disappear, whispering together, in the shrubbery; the one old, tall, and dark, with the Italian complexion, in a black robe, and the other young, petite, extraordinarily handsome, and clad in light and bridal stuffs, yet both with the same wily look that set me thinking on poisons, and with a grace and a subtle carriage of deceit that could be common only to mother and daughter. I didn't choose to walk any farther in the part of the garden they had chosen for a night promenade, and turned off abruptly.


There, on the bench of the marble hemicycle in the north grove, sat a row of graybeards, old men in the costume of the first Revolution, a sort of serene and benignant Areopagus. In the cleared space before them were a crowd of youths and maidens, spectators and participants in the Floral Games which were about to commence; behind the old men stood attendants who bore chaplets of flowers, the prizes in the games. The young men wore short red tunics with copper belts, formerly worn by Roman lads at the ludi, and the girls tunics of white with loosened girdles, leaving their limbs unrestrained for dancing, leaping, or running; their hair was confined only by a fillet about the head. The pipers began to play and the dancers to move in rhythmic measures, with the slow and languid grace of those full of sweet wine and the new joy of the Spring, according to the habits of the Golden Age, which had come again by decree in Paris. This was the beginning of the classic sports, but it is not possible for a modern pen to describe particularly the Floral Games. I remember that the Convention ordered the placing of these hemicycles in the garden, and they were executed from Robespierre's designs; but I suppose I am the only person who ever saw the games played that were expected to be played before them. It was a curious coincidence that the little livid-green man was also there, leaning against a tree and looking on with a half sneer. It seemed to me an odd classic revival, but then Paris has spasms of that, at the old Theatre Francais and elsewhere.

Pipes in the garden, lutes in the palace, paganism, Revolution—the situation was becoming mixed, and I should not have been surprised at a ghostly procession from the Place de la Concorde, through the western gates, of the thousands of headless nobility, victims of the axe and the basket; but, thank Heaven, nothing of that sort appeared to add to the wonders of the night; yet, as I turned a moment from the dancers, I thought I saw something move in the shrubbery. The Laocoon? It could not be. The arms moving? Yes. As I drew nearer the arms distinctly moved, putting away at length the coiling serpent, and pushing from the pedestal the old-men boys, his comrades in agony. Laocoon shut his mouth, which had been stretched open for about eighteen centuries, untwisted the last coil of the snake, and stepped down, a free man. After this it did not surprise me to see Spartacus also step down and approach him, and the two ancients square off for fisticuffs, as if they had done it often before, enjoying at night the release from the everlasting pillory of art. It was the hour of releases, and I found myself in a moment in the midst of a “classic revival,” whimsical beyond description. Aeneas hastened to deposit his aged father in a heap on the gravel and ran after the Sylvan Nymphs; Theseus gave the Minotaur a respite; Themistocles was bending over the dying Spartan, who was coming to life; Venus Pudica was waltzing about the diagonal basin with Antinous; Ascanius was playing marbles with the infant Hercules. In this unreal phantasmagoria it was a relief to me to see walking in the area of the private garden two men: the one a stately person with a kingly air, a handsome face, his head covered with a huge wig that fell upon his shoulders; the other a farmer-like man, stout and ungracious, the counterpart of the pictures of the intendant Colbert. He was pointing up to the palace, and seemed to be speaking of some alterations, to which talk the other listened impatiently. I wondered what Napoleon, who by this time was probably dreaming of Mexico, would have said if he had looked out and seen, not one man in the garden, but dozens of men, and all the stir that I saw; if he had known, indeed, that the Great Monarch was walking under his windows.

I said it was a relief to me to see two real men, but I had no reason to complain of solitude thereafter till daybreak. That any one saw or noticed me I doubt, and I soon became so reassured that I had more delight than fear in watching the coming and going of personages I had supposed dead a hundred years and more; the appearance at windows of faces lovely, faces sad, faces terror-stricken; the opening of casem*nts and the dropping of billets into the garden; the flutter of disappearing robes; the faint sounds of revels from the interior of the palace; the hurrying of feet, the flashing of lights, the clink of steel, that told of partings and sudden armings, and the presence of a king that will be denied at no doors. I saw through the windows of the long Galerie de Diane the roues of the Regency at supper, and at table with them a dark, semi-barbarian little man in a coat of Russian sable, the coolest head in Europe at a drinking-bout. I saw enter the south pavilion a tall lady in black, with the air of a royal procuress; and presently crossed the garden and disappeared in the pavilion a young Parisian girl, and then another and another, a flock of innocents, and I thought instantly of the dreadful Parc aux Cerfs at Versailles.

So wrought upon was I by the sight of this infamy that I scarcely noticed the incoming of a royal train at the southern end of the palace, and notably in it a lady with light hair and noble mien, and the look in her face of a hunted lioness at bay. I say scarcely, for hardly had the royal cortege passed within, when there arose a great clamor in the inner court, like the roar of an angry multitude, a scuffling of many feet, firing of guns, thrusting of pikes, followed by yells of defiance in mingled French and German, the pitching of Swiss Guards from doorways and windows, and the flashing of flambeaux that ran hither and thither. “Oh!” I said, “Paris has come to call upon its sovereign; the pikemen of Paris, led by the bold Barbaroux.”

The tumult subsided as suddenly as it had risen, hushed, I imagined, by the jarring of cannon from the direction of St. Roch; and in the quiet I saw a little soldier alight at the Rue de Rivoli gate—a little man whom you might mistake for a corporal of the guard—with a wild, coarse-featured Corsican (say, rather, Basque) face, his disordered chestnut hair darkened to black locks by the use of pomatum—a face selfish and false, but determined as fate. So this was the beginning of the Napoleon “legend”; and by-and-by this coarse head will be idealized into the Roman Emperor type, in which I myself might have believed but for the revelations of the night of strange adventure.

What is history? What is this drama and spectacle, that has been put forth as history, but a cover for petty intrigue, and deceit, and selfishness, and cruelty? A man shut into the Tuileries Garden begins to think that it is all an illusion, the trick of a disordered fancy. Who was Grand, who was Well-Beloved, who was Desired, who was the Idol of the French, who was worthy to be called a King of the Citizens? Oh, for the light of day!

And it came, faint and tremulous, touching the terraces of the palace and the Column of Luxor. But what procession was that moving along the southern terrace? A squad of the National Guard on horseback, a score or so of King's officers, a King on foot, walking with uncertain step, a Queen leaning on his arm, both habited in black, moved out of the western gate. The King and the Queen paused a moment on the very spot where Louis XVI. was beheaded, and then got into a carriage drawn by one horse and were driven rapidly along the quays in the direction of St. Cloud. And again Revolution, on the heels of the fugitives, poured into the old palace and filled it with its tatterdemalions.

Enough for me that daylight began to broaden. “Sleep on,” I said, “O real President, real Emperor (by the grace of coup d'etat) at last, in the midst of the most virtuous court in Europe, loved of good Americans, eternally established in the hearts of your devoted Parisians! Peace to the palace and peace to its lovely garden, of both of which I have had quite enough for one night!”

The sun came up, and, as I looked about, all the shades and concourse of the night had vanished. Day had begun in the vast city, with all its roar and tumult; but the garden gates would not open till seven, and I must not be seen before the early stragglers should enter and give me a chance of escape. In my circ*mstances I would rather be the first to enter than the first to go out in the morning, past those lynx-eyed gendarmes. From my covert I eagerly watched for my coming deliverers. The first to appear was a 'chiffonnier,' who threw his sack and pick down by the basin, bathed his face, and drank from his hand. It seemed to me almost like an act of worship, and I would have embraced that rag-picker as a brother. But I knew that such a proceeding, in the name even of egalite and fraternite would have been misinterpreted; and I waited till two and three and a dozen entered by this gate and that, and I was at full liberty to stretch my limbs and walk out upon the quay as nonchalant as if I had been taking a morning stroll.

I have reason to believe that the police of Paris never knew where I spent the night of the 18th of June. It must have mystified them.


Truthfulness is as essential in literature as it is in conduct, in fiction as it is in the report of an actual occurrence. Falsehood vitiates a poem, a painting, exactly as it does a life. Truthfulness is a quality like simplicity. Simplicity in literature is mainly a matter of clear vision and lucid expression, however complex the subject-matter may be; exactly as in life, simplicity does not so much depend upon external conditions as upon the spirit in which one lives. It may be more difficult to maintain simplicity of living with a great fortune than in poverty, but simplicity of spirit—that is, superiority of soul to circ*mstance—is possible in any condition. Unfortunately the common expression that a certain person has wealth is not so true as it would be to say that wealth has him. The life of one with great possessions and corresponding responsibilities may be full of complexity; the subject of literary art may be exceedingly complex; but we do not set complexity over against simplicity. For simplicity is a quality essential to true life as it is to literature of the first class; it is opposed to parade, to artificiality, to obscurity.

The quality of truthfulness is not so easily defined. It also is a matter of spirit and intuition. We have no difficulty in applying the rules of common morality to certain functions of writers for the public, for instance, the duties of the newspaper reporter, or the newspaper correspondent, or the narrator of any event in life the relation of which owes its value to its being absolutely true. The same may be said of hoaxes, literary or scientific, however clear they may be. The person indulging in them not only discredits his office in the eyes of the public, but he injures his own moral fibre, and he contracts such a habit of unveracity that he never can hope for genuine literary success. For there never was yet any genuine success in letters without integrity. The clever hoax is no better than the trick of imitation, that is, conscious imitation of another, which has unveracity to one's self at the bottom of it. Burlesque is not the highest order of intellectual performance, but it is legitimate, and if cleverly done it may be both useful and amusing, but it is not to be confounded with forgery, that is, with a composition which the author attempts to pass off as the production of somebody else. The forgery may be amazingly smart, and be even popular, and get the author, when he is discovered, notoriety, but it is pretty certain that with his ingrained lack of integrity he will never accomplish any original work of value, and he will be always personally suspected. There is nothing so dangerous to a young writer as to begin with hoaxing; or to begin with the invention, either as reporter or correspondent, of statements put forward as facts, which are untrue. This sort of facility and smartness may get a writer employment, unfortunately for him and the public, but there is no satisfaction in it to one who desires an honorable career. It is easy to recall the names of brilliant men whose fine talents have been eaten away by this habit of unveracity. This habit is the greatest danger of the newspaper press of the United States.

It is easy to define this sort of untruthfulness, and to study the moral deterioration it works in personal character, and in the quality of literary work. It was illustrated in the forgeries of the marvelous boy Chatterton. The talent he expended in deception might have made him an enviable reputation,—the deception vitiated whatever good there was in his work. Fraud in literature is no better than fraud in archaeology, —Chatterton deserves no more credit than Shapiro who forged the Moabite pottery with its inscriptions. The reporter who invents an incident, or heightens the horror of a calamity by fictions is in the case of Shapiro. The habit of this sort of invention is certain to destroy the writer's quality, and if he attempts a legitimate work of the imagination, he will carry the same unveracity into that. The quality of truthfulness cannot be juggled with. Akin to this is the trick which has put under proper suspicion some very clever writers of our day, and cost them all public confidence in whatever they do,—the trick of posing for what they are not. We do not mean only that the reader does not believe their stories of personal adventure, and regards them personally as “frauds,” but that this quality of deception vitiates all their work, as seen from a literary point of view. We mean that the writer who hoaxes the public, by inventions which he publishes as facts, or in regard to his own personality, not only will lose the confidence of the public but he will lose the power of doing genuine work, even in the field of fiction. Good work is always characterized by integrity.

These illustrations help us to understand what is meant by literary integrity. For the deception in the case of the correspondent who invents “news” is of the same quality as the lack of sincerity in a poem or in a prose fiction; there is a moral and probably a mental defect in both. The story of Robinson Crusoe is a very good illustration of veracity in fiction. It is effective because it has the simple air of truth; it is an illusion that satisfies; it is possible; it is good art: but it has no moral deception in it. In fact, looked at as literature, we can see that it is sincere and wholesome.

What is this quality of truthfulness which we all recognize when it exists in fiction? There is much fiction, and some of it, for various reasons, that we like and find interesting which is nevertheless insincere if not artificial. We see that the writer has not been honest with himself or with us in his views of human life. There may be just as much lying in novels as anywhere else. The novelist who offers us what he declares to be a figment of his own brain may be just as untrue as the reporter who sets forth a figment of his own brain which he declares to be a real occurrence. That is, just as much faithfulness to life is required of the novelist as of the reporter, and in a much higher degree. The novelist must not only tell the truth about life as he sees it, material and spiritual, but he must be faithful to his own conceptions. If fortunately he has genius enough to create a character that has reality to himself and to others, he must be faithful to that character. He must have conscience about it, and not misrepresent it, any more than he would misrepresent the sayings and doings of a person in real life. Of course if his own conception is not clear, he will be as unjust as in writing about a person in real life whose character he knew only by rumor. The novelist may be mistaken about his own creations and in his views of life, but if he have truthfulness in himself, sincerity will show in his work.

Truthfulness is a quality that needs to be as strongly insisted on in literature as simplicity. But when we carry the matter a step further, we see that there cannot be truthfulness about life without knowledge. The world is full of novels, and their number daily increases, written without any sense of responsibility, and with very little experience, which are full of false views of human nature and of society. We can almost always tell in a fiction when the writer passes the boundary of his own experience and observation—he becomes unreal, which is another name for untruthful. And there is an absence of sincerity in such work. There seems to be a prevailing impression that any one can write a story. But it scarcely need be said that literature is an art, like painting and music, and that one may have knowledge of life and perfect sincerity, and yet be unable to produce a good, truthful piece of literature, or to compose a piece of music, or to paint a picture.

Truthfulness is in no way opposed to invention or to the exercise of the imagination. When we say that the writer needs experience, we do not mean to intimate that his invention of character or plot should be literally limited to a person he has known, or to an incident that has occurred, but that they should be true to his experience. The writer may create an ideally perfect character, or an ideally bad character, and he may try him by a set of circ*mstances and events never before combined, and this creation may be so romantic as to go beyond the experience of any reader, that is to say, wholly imaginary (like a composed landscape which has no counterpart in any one view of a natural landscape), and yet it may be so consistent in itself, so true to an idea or an aspiration or a hope, that it will have the element of truthfulness and subserve a very high purpose. It may actually be truer to our sense of verity to life than an array of undeniable, naked facts set down without art and without imagination.

The difficulty of telling the truth in literature is about as great as it is in real life. We know how nearly impossible it is for one person to convey to another a correct impression of a third person. He may describe the features, the manner, mention certain traits and sayings, all literally true, but absolutely misleading as to the total impression. And this is the reason why extreme, unrelieved realism is apt to give a false impression of persons and scenes. One can hardly help having a whimsical notion occasionally, seeing the miscarriages even in our own attempts at truthfulness, that it absolutely exists only in the imagination.

In a piece of fiction, especially romantic fiction, an author is absolutely free to be truthful, and he will be if he has personal and literary integrity. He moves freely amid his own creations and conceptions, and is not subject to the peril of the writer who admittedly uses facts, but uses them so clumsily or with so little conscience, so out of their real relations, as to convey a false impression and an untrue view of life. This quality of truthfulness is equally evident in “The Three Guardsmen” and in “Midsummer Night's Dream.” Dumas is as conscientious about his world of adventure as Shakespeare is in his semi-supernatural region. If Shakespeare did not respect the laws of his imaginary country, and the creatures of his fancy, if Dumas were not true to the characters he conceived, and the achievements possible to them, such works would fall into confusion. A recent story called “The Refugees” set out with a certain promise of veracity, although the reader understood of course that it was to be a purely romantic invention. But very soon the author recklessly violated his own conception, and when he got his “real” characters upon an iceberg, the fantastic position became ludicrous without being funny, and the performances of the same characters in the wilderness of the New World showed such lack of knowledge in the writer that the story became an insult to the intelligence of the reader. Whereas such a romance as that of “The MS. Found in a Copper Cylinder,” although it is humanly impossible and visibly a figment of the imagination, is satisfactory to the reader because the author is true to his conception, and it is interesting as a curious allegorical and humorous illustration of the ruinous character in human affairs of extreme unselfishness. There is the same sort of truthfulness in Hawthorne's allegory of “The Celestial Railway,” in Froude's “On a Siding at a Railway Station,” and in Bunyan's “Pilgrim's Progress.”

The habit of lying carried into fiction vitiates the best work, and perhaps it is easier to avoid it in pure romance than in the so-called novels of “every-day life.” And this is probably the reason why so many of the novels of “real life” are so much more offensively untruthful to us than the wildest romances. In the former the author could perhaps “prove” every incident he narrates, and produce living every character he has attempted to describe. But the effect is that of a lie, either because he is not a master of his art, or because he has no literary conscience. He is like an artist who is more anxious to produce a meretricious effect than he is to be true to himself or to nature. An author who creates a character assumes a great responsibility, and if he has not integrity or knowledge enough to respect his own creation, no one else will respect it, and, worse than this, he will tell a falsehood to hosts of undiscriminating readers.


Perhaps the most curious and interesting phrase ever put into a public document is “the pursuit of happiness.” It is declared to be an inalienable right. It cannot be sold. It cannot be given away. It is doubtful if it could be left by will.

The right of every man to be six feet high, and of every woman to be five feet four, was regarded as self-evident until women asserted their undoubted right to be six feet high also, when some confusion was introduced into the interpretation of this rhetorical fragment of the eighteenth century.

But the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness has never been questioned since it was proclaimed as a new gospel for the New World. The American people accepted it with enthusiasm, as if it had been the discovery of a gold-prospector, and started out in the pursuit as if the devil were after them.

If the proclamation had been that happiness is a common right of the race, alienable or otherwise, that all men are or may be happy, history and tradition might have interfered to raise a doubt whether even the new form of government could so change the ethical condition. But the right to make a pursuit of happiness, given in a fundamental bill of rights, had quite a different aspect. Men had been engaged in many pursuits, most of them disastrous, some of them highly commendable. A sect in Galilee had set up the pursuit of righteousness as the only or the highest object of man's immortal powers. The rewards of it, however, were not always immediate. Here was a political sanction of a pursuit that everybody acknowledged to be of a good thing.

Given a heart-aching longing in every human being for happiness, here was high warrant for going in pursuit of it. And the curious effect of this 'mot d'ordre' was that the pursuit arrested the attention as the most essential, and the happiness was postponed, almost invariably, to some future season, when leisure or plethora, that is, relaxation or gorged desire, should induce that physical and moral glow which is commonly accepted as happiness. This glow of well-being is sometimes called contentment, but contentment was not in the programme. If it came at all, it was only to come after strenuous pursuit, that being the inalienable right.

People, to be sure, have different conceptions of happiness, but whatever they are, it is the custom, almost universal, to postpone the thing itself. This, of course, is specially true in our American system, where we have a chartered right to the thing itself. Other nations who have no such right may take it out in occasional driblets, odd moments that come, no doubt, to men and races who have no privilege of voting, or to such favored places as New York city, whose government is always the same, however they vote.

We are all authorized to pursue happiness, and we do as a general thing make a pursuit of it. Instead of simply being happy in the condition where we are, getting the sweets of life in human intercourse, hour by hour, as the bees take honey from every flower that opens in the summer air, finding happiness in the well-filled and orderly mind, in the sane and enlightened spirit, in the self that has become what the self should be, we say that tomorrow, next year, in ten or twenty or thirty years, when we have arrived at certain coveted possessions or situation, we will be happy. Some philosophers dignify this postponement with the name of hope.

Sometimes wandering in a primeval forest, in all the witchery of the woods, besought by the kindliest solicitations of nature, wild flowers in the trail, the call of the squirrel, the flutter of birds, the great world-music of the wind in the pine-tops, the flecks of sunlight on the brown carpet and on the rough bark of immemorial trees, I find myself unconsciously postponing my enjoyment until I shall reach a hoped-for open place of full sun and boundless prospect.

The analogy cannot be pushed, for it is the common experience that these open spots in life, where leisure and space and contentment await us, are usually grown up with thickets, fuller of obstacles, to say nothing of labors and duties and difficulties, than any part of the weary path we have trod.

Why add the pursuit of happiness to our other inalienable worries? Perhaps there is something wrong in ourselves when we hear the complaint so often that men are pursued by disaster instead of being pursued by happiness.

We all believe in happiness as something desirable and attainable, and I take it that this is the underlying desire when we speak of the pursuit of wealth, the pursuit of learning, the pursuit of power in office or in influence, that is, that we shall come into happiness when the objects last named are attained. No amount of failure seems to lessen this belief. It is matter of experience that wealth and learning and power are as likely to bring unhappiness as happiness, and yet this constant lesson of experience makes not the least impression upon human conduct. I suppose that the reason of this unheeding of experience is that every person born into the world is the only one exactly of that kind that ever was or ever will be created, so that he thinks he may be exempt from the general rules. At any rate, he goes at the pursuit of happiness in exactly the old way, as if it were an original undertaking. Perhaps the most melancholy spectacle offered to us in our short sojourn in this pilgrimage, where the roads are so dusty and the caravansaries so ill provided, is the credulity of this pursuit. Mind, I am not objecting to the pursuit of wealth, or of learning, or of power, they are all explainable, if not justifiable,—but to the blindness that does not perceive their futility as a means of attaining the end sought, which is happiness, an end that can only be compassed by the right adjustment of each soul to this and to any coming state of existence. For whether the great scholar who is stuffed with knowledge is happier than the great money-getter who is gorged with riches, or the wily politician who is a Warwick in his realm, depends entirely upon what sort of a man this pursuit has made him. There is a kind of fallacy current nowadays that a very rich man, no matter by what unscrupulous means he has gathered an undue proportion of the world into his possession, can be happy if he can turn round and make a generous and lavish distribution of it for worthy purposes. If he has preserved a remnant of conscience, this distribution may give him much satisfaction, and justly increase his good opinion of his own deserts; but the fallacy is in leaving out of account the sort of man he has become in this sort of pursuit. Has he escaped that hardening of the nature, that drying up of the sweet springs of sympathy, which usually attend a long-continued selfish undertaking? Has either he or the great politician or the great scholar cultivated the real sources of enjoyment?

The pursuit of happiness! It is not strange that men call it an illusion. But I am well satisfied that it is not the thing itself, but the pursuit, that is an illusion. Instead of thinking of the pursuit, why not fix our thoughts upon the moments, the hours, perhaps the days, of this divine peace, this merriment of body and mind, that can be repeated and perhaps indefinitely extended by the simplest of all means, namely, a disposition to make the best of whatever comes to us? Perhaps the Latin poet was right in saying that no man can count himself happy while in this life, that is, in a continuous state of happiness; but as there is for the soul no time save the conscious moment called “now,” it is quite possible to make that “now” a happy state of existence. The point I make is that we should not habitually postpone that season of happiness to the future.

No one, I trust, wishes to cloud the dreams of youth, or to dispel by excess of light what are called the illusions of hope. But why should the boy be nurtured in the current notion that he is to be really happy only when he has finished school, when he has got a business or profession by which money can be made, when he has come to manhood? The girl also dreams that for her happiness lies ahead, in that springtime when she is crossing the line of womanhood,—all the poets make much of this,—when she is married and learns the supreme lesson how to rule by obeying. It is only when the girl and the boy look back upon the years of adolescence that they realize how happy they might have been then if they had only known they were happy, and did not need to go in pursuit of happiness.

The pitiful part of this inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness is, however, that most men interpret it to mean the pursuit of wealth, and strive for that always, postponing being happy until they get a fortune, and if they are lucky in that, find at the end that the happiness has somehow eluded them, that; in short, they have not cultivated that in themselves that alone can bring happiness. More than that, they have lost the power of the enjoyment of the essential pleasures of life. I think that the woman in the Scriptures who out of her poverty put her mite into the contribution-box got more happiness out of that driblet of generosity and self-sacrifice than some men in our day have experienced in founding a university.

And how fares it with the intellectual man? To be a selfish miner of learning, for self-gratification only, is no nobler in reality than to be a miser of money. And even when the scholar is lavish of his knowledge in helping an ignorant world, he may find that if he has made his studies as a pursuit of happiness he has missed his object. Much knowledge increases the possibility of enjoyment, but also the possibility of sorrow. If intellectual pursuits contribute to an enlightened and altogether admirable character, then indeed has the student found the inner springs of happiness. Otherwise one cannot say that the wise man is happier than the ignorant man.

In fine, and in spite of the political injunction, we need to consider that happiness is an inner condition, not to be raced after. And what an advance in our situation it would be if we could get it into our heads here in this land of inalienable rights that the world would turn round just the same if we stood still and waited for the daily coming of our Lord!


Is the divorce of Literature and the Stage complete, or is it still only partial? As the lawyers say, is it a 'vinculo', or only a 'mensa et thoro?' And if this divorce is permanent, is it a good thing for literature or the stage? Is the present condition of the stage a degeneration, as some say, or is it a natural evolution of an art independent of literature?

How long is it since a play has been written and accepted and played which has in it any so-called literary quality or is an addition to literature? And what is dramatic art as at present understood and practiced by the purveyors of plays for the public? If any one can answer these questions, he will contribute something to the discussion about the tendency of the modern stage.

Every one recognizes in the “good old plays” which are occasionally “revived” both a quality and an intention different from anything in most contemporary productions. They are real dramas, the interest of which depends upon sentiment, upon an exhibition of human nature, upon the interaction of varied character, and upon plot, and we recognize in them a certain literary art. They can be read with pleasure. Scenery and mechanical contrivance may heighten the effects, but they are not absolute essentials.

In the contemporary play instead of character we have “characters,” usually exaggerations of some trait, so pushed forward as to become caricatures. Consistency to human nature is not insisted on in plot, but there must be startling and unexpected incidents, mechanical devices, and a great deal of what is called “business,” which clearly has as much relation to literature as have the steps of a farceur in a clog-dance. The composition of such plays demands literary ability in the least degree, but ingenuity in inventing situations and surprises; the text is nothing, the action is everything; but the text is considerably improved if it have brightness of repartee and a lively apprehension of contemporary events, including the slang of the hour. These plays appear to be made up by the writer, the manager, the carpenter, the costumer. If they are successful with the modern audiences, their success is probably due to other things than any literary quality they may have, or any truth to life or to human nature.

We see how this is in the great number of plays adapted from popular novels. In the “dramatization” of these stories, pretty much everything is left out of the higher sort that the reader has valued in the story. The romance of “Monte Cristo” is an illustration of this. The play is vulgar melodrama, out of which has escaped altogether the refinement and the romantic idealism of the stirring romance of Dumas. Now and then, to be sure, we get a different result, as in “Olivia,” where all the pathos and character of the “Vicar of Wakefield” are preserved, and the effect of the play depends upon passion and sentiment. But as a rule, we get only the more obvious saliencies, the bones of the novel, fitted in or clothed with stage “business.”

Of course it is true that literary men, even dramatic authors, may write and always have written dramas not suited to actors, that could not well be put upon the stage. But it remains true that the greatest dramas, those that have endured from the Greek times down, have been (for the audiences of their times) both good reading and good acting plays.

I am not competent to criticise the stage or its tendency. But I am interested in noticing the increasing non-literary character of modern plays. It may be explained as a necessary and justifiable evolution of the stage. The managers may know what the audience wants, just as the editors of some of the most sensational newspapers say that they make a newspaper to suit the public. The newspaper need not be well written, but it must startle with incident and surprise, found or invented. An observer must notice that the usual theatre-audience in New York or Boston today laughs at and applauds costumes, situations, innuendoes, doubtful suggestions, that it would have blushed at a few years ago. Has the audience been creating a theatre to suit its taste, or have the managers been educating an audience? Has the divorce of literary art from the mimic art of the stage anything to do with this condition?

The stage can be amusing, but can it show life as it is without the aid of idealizing literary art? And if the stage goes on in this materialistic way, how long will it be before it ceases to amuse intelligent, not to say intellectual people?


In the minds of the public there is a mystery about the practice of medicine. It deals more or less with the unknown, with the occult, it appeals to the imagination. Doubtless confidence in its practitioners is still somewhat due to the belief that they are familiar with the secret processes of nature, if they are not in actual alliance with the supernatural. Investigation of the ground of the popular faith in the doctor would lead us into metaphysics. And yet our physical condition has much to do with this faith. It is apt to be weak when one is in perfect health; but when one is sick it grows strong. Saint and sinner both warm up to the doctor when the judgment Day heaves in view.

In the popular apprehension the doctor is still the Medicine Man. We smile when we hear about his antics in barbarous tribes; he dresses fantastically, he puts horns on his head, he draws circles on the ground, he dances about the patient, shaking his rattle and uttering incantations. There is nothing to laugh at. He is making an appeal to the imagination. And sometimes he cures, and sometimes he kills; in either case he gets his fee. What right have we to laugh? We live in an enlightened age, and yet a great proportion of the people, perhaps not a majority, still believe in incantations, have faith in ignorant practitioners who advertise a “natural gift,” or a secret process or remedy, and prefer the charlatan who is exactly on the level of the Indian Medicine Man, to the regular practitioner, and to the scientific student of mind and body and of the properties of the materia medica. Why, even here in Connecticut, it is impossible to get a law to protect the community from the imposition of knavish or ignorant quacks, and to require of a man some evidence of capacity and training and skill, before he is let loose to experiment upon suffering humanity. Our teachers must pass an examination—though the examiner sometimes does not know as much as the candidate,—for misguiding the youthful mind; the lawyer cannot practice without study and a formal admission to the bar; and even the clergyman is not accepted in any responsible charge until he has given evidence of some moral and intellectual fitness. But the profession affecting directly the health and life of every human body, which needs to avail itself of the accumulated experience, knowledge, and science of all the ages, is open to every ignorant and stupid practitioner on the credulity of the public. Why cannot we get a law regulating the profession which is of most vital interest to all of us, excluding ignorance and quackery? Because the majority of our legislature, representing, I suppose, the majority of the public, believe in the “natural bone-setter,” the herb doctor, the root doctor, the old woman who brews a decoction of swamp medicine, the “natural gift” of some dabbler in diseases, the magnetic healer, the faith cure, the mind cure, the Christian Science cure, the efficacy of a prescription rapped out on a table by some hysterical medium,—in anything but sound knowledge, education in scientific methods, steadied by a sense of public responsibility. Not long ago, on a cross-country road, I came across a woman in a farmhouse, where I am sure the barn-yard drained into the well, who was sick; she had taken a shop-full of patent medicines. I advised her to send for a doctor. She had no confidence in doctors, but said she reckoned she would get along now, for she had sent for the seventh son of a seventh son, and didn't I think he could certainly cure her? I said that combination ought to fetch any disease except agnosticism. That woman probably influenced a vote in the legislature. The legislature believes in incantations; it ought to have in attendance an Indian Medicine Man.

We think the world is progressing in enlightenment; I suppose it is—inch by inch. But it is not easy to name an age that has cherished more delusions than ours, or been more superstitious, or more credulous, more eager to run after quackery. Especially is this true in regard to remedies for diseases, and the faith in healers and quacks outside of the regular, educated professors of the medical art. Is this an exaggeration? Consider the quantity of proprietary medicines taken in this country, some of them harmless, some of them good in some cases, some of them injurious, but generally taken without advice and in absolute ignorance of the nature of the disease or the specific action of the remedy. The drug-shops are full of them, especially in country towns; and in the far West and on the Pacific coast I have been astonished at the quantity and variety displayed. They are found in almost every house; the country is literally dosed to death with these manufactured nostrums and panaceas—and that is the most popular medicine which can be used for the greatest number of internal and external diseases and injuries. Many newspapers are half supported by advertising them, and millions and millions of dollars are invested in this popular industry. Needless to say that the patented remedies most in request are those that profess a secret and unscientific origin. Those most “purely vegetable” seem most suitable to the wooden-heads who believe in them, but if one were sufficiently advertised as not containing a single trace of vegetable matter, avoiding thus all possible conflict of one organic life with another organic life, it would be just as popular. The favorites are those that have been secretly used by an East Indian fakir, or accidentally discovered as the natural remedy, dug out of the ground by an American Indian tribe, or steeped in a kettle by an ancient colored person in a southern plantation, or washed ashore on the person of a sailor from the South Seas, or invented by a very aged man in New Jersey, who could not read, but had spent his life roaming in the woods, and whose capacity for discovering a “universal panacea,” besides his ignorance and isolation, lay in the fact that his sands of life had nearly run. It is the supposed secrecy or low origin of the remedy that is its attraction. The basis of the vast proprietary medicine business is popular ignorance and credulity. And it needs to be pretty broad to support a traffic of such enormous proportions.

During this generation certain branches of the life-saving and life-prolonging art have made great advances out of empiricism onto the solid ground of scientific knowledge. Of course I refer to surgery, and to the discovery of the causes and improvement in the treatment of contagious and epidemic diseases. The general practice has shared in this scientific advance, but it is limited and always will be limited within experimental bounds, by the infinite variations in individual constitutions, and the almost incalculable element of the interference of mental with physical conditions. When we get an exact science of man, we may expect an exact science of medicine. How far we are from this, we see when we attempt to make criminal anthropology the basis of criminal legislation. Man is so complex that if we were to eliminate one of his apparently worse qualities, we might develop others still worse, or throw the whole machine into inefficiency. By taking away what the phrenologists call combativeness, we could doubtless stop prize-fight, but we might have a springless society. The only safe way is that taught by horticulture, to feed a fruit-tree generously, so that it has vigor enough to throw off its degenerate tendencies and its enemies, or, as the doctors say in medical practice, bring up the general system. That is to say, there is more hope for humanity in stimulating the good, than in directly suppressing the evil. It is on something like this line that the greatest advance has been made in medical practice; I mean in the direction of prevention. This involves, of course, the exclusion of the evil, that is, of suppressing the causes that produce disease, as well as in cultivating the resistant power of the human system. In sanitation, diet, and exercise are the great fields of medical enterprise and advance. I need not say that the physician who, in the case of those under his charge, or who may possibly require his aid, contents himself with waiting for developed disease, is like the soldier in a besieged city who opens the gates and then attempts to repel the invader who has effected a lodgment. I hope the time will come when the chief practice of the physician will be, first, in oversight of the sanitary condition of his neighborhood, and, next, in preventive attendance on people who think they are well, and are all unconscious of the insidious approach of some concealed malady.

Another great change in modern practice is specialization. Perhaps it has not yet reached the delicate particularity of the practice in ancient Egypt, where every minute part of the human economy had its exclusive doctor. This is inevitable in a scientific age, and the result has been on the whole an advance of knowledge, and improved treatment of specific ailments. The danger is apparent. It is that of the moral specialist, who has only one hobby and traces every human ill to strong liquor or tobacco, or the corset, or taxation of personal property, or denial of universal suffrage, or the eating of meat, or the want of the centralization of nearly all initiative and interest and property in the state. The tendency of the accomplished specialist in medicine is to refer all physical trouble to the ill conduct of the organ he presides over. He can often trace every disease to want of width in the nostrils, to a defective eye, to a sensitive throat, to shut-up pores, to an irritated stomach, to auricular defect. I suppose he is generally right, but I have a perhaps natural fear that if I happened to consult an amputationist about catarrh he would want to cut off my leg. I confess to an affection for the old-fashioned, all-round country doctor, who took a general view of his patient, knew his family, his constitution, all the gossip about his mental or business troubles, his affairs of the heart, disappointments in love, incompatibilities of temper, and treated the patient, as the phrase is, for all he was worth, and gave him visible medicine out of good old saddle-bags—how much faith we used to have in those saddle-bags—and not a prescription in a dead language to be put up by a dead-head clerk who occasionally mistakes arsenic for carbonate of soda. I do not mean, however, to say there is no sense in the retention of the hieroglyphics which the doctors use to communicate their ideas to a druggist, for I had a prescription made in Hartford put up in Naples, and that could not have happened if it had been written in English. And I am not sure but the mysterious symbols have some effect on the patient.

The mention of the intimate knowledge of family and constitutional conditions possessed by the old-fashioned country doctor, whose main strength lay in this and in his common-sense, reminds me of another great advance in the modern practice, in the attempt to understand nature better by the scientific study of psychology and the occult relations of mind and body. It is in the study of temper, temperament, hereditary predispositions, that we may expect the most brilliant results in preventive medicine.

As a layman, I cannot but notice another great advance in the medical profession. It is not alone in it. It is rather expected that the lawyers will divide the oyster between them and leave the shell to the contestants. I suppose that doctors, almost without exception, give more of their time and skill in the way of charity than almost any other profession. But somebody must pay, and fees have increased with the general cost of living and dying. If fees continue to increase as they have done in the past ten years in the great cities, like New York, nobody not a millionaire can afford to be sick. The fees will soon be a prohibitive tax. I cannot say that this will be altogether an evil, for the cost of calling medical aid may force people to take better care of themselves. Still, the excessive charges are rather hard on people in moderate circ*mstances who are compelled to seek surgical aid. And here we touch one of the regrettable symptoms of the times, which is not by any means most conspicuous in the medical profession. I mean the tendency to subordinate the old notion of professional duty to the greed for money. The lawyers are almost universally accused of it; even the clergymen are often suspected of being influenced by it. The young man is apt to choose a profession on calculation of its profit. It will be a bad day for science and for the progress of the usefulness of the medical profession when the love of money in its practice becomes stronger than professional enthusiasm, than the noble ambition of distinction for advancing the science, and the devotion to human welfare.

I do not prophesy it. Rather I expect interest in humanity, love of science for itself, sympathy with suffering, self-sacrifice for others, to increase in the world, and be stronger in the end than sordid love of gain and the low ambition of rivalry in materialistic display. To this higher life the physician is called. I often wonder that there are so many men, brilliant men, able men, with so many talents for success in any calling, willing to devote their lives to a profession which demands so much self-sacrifice, so much hardship, so much contact with suffering, subject to the call of all the world at any hour of the day or night, involving so much personal risk, carrying so much heart-breaking responsibility, responded to by so much constant heroism, a heroism requiring the risk of life in a service the only glory of which is a good name and the approval of one's conscience.

To the members of such a profession, in spite of their human infirmities and limitations and unworthy hangers-on, I bow with admiration and the respect which we feel for that which is best in this world.


It seems somehow more nearly an irreparable loss to us than to “H. H.” that she did not live to taste her very substantial fame in Southern California. We should have had such delight in her unaffected pleasure in it, and it would have been one of those satisfactions somewhat adequate to our sense of fitness that are so seldom experienced. It was my good fortune to see Mrs. Jackson frequently in the days in New York when she was writing “Ramona,” which was begun and perhaps finished in the Berkeley House. The theme had complete possession of her, and chapter after chapter flowed from her pen as easily as one would write a letter to a friend; and she had an ever fresh and vigorous delight in it. I have often thought that no one enjoyed the sensation of living more than Mrs. Jackson, or was more alive to all the influences of nature and the contact of mind with mind, more responsive to all that was exquisite and noble either in nature or in society, or more sensitive to the disagreeable. This is merely saying that she was a poet; but when she became interested in the Indians, and especially in the harsh fate of the Mission Indians in California, all her nature was fused for the time in a lofty enthusiasm of pity and indignation, and all her powers seemed to be consecrated to one purpose. Enthusiasm and sympathy will not make a novel, but all the same they are necessary to the production of a work that has in it real vital quality, and in this case all previous experience and artistic training became the unconscious servants of Mrs. Jackson's heart. I know she had very little conceit about her performance, but she had a simple consciousness that she was doing her best work, and that if the world should care much for anything she had done, after she was gone, it would be for “Ramona.” She had put herself into it.

And yet I am certain that she could have had no idea what the novel would be to the people of Southern California, or how it would identify her name with all that region, and make so many scenes in it places of pilgrimage and romantic interest for her sake. I do not mean to say that the people in California knew personally Ramona and Alessandro, or altogether believe in them, but that in their idealizations they recognize a verity and the ultimate truth of human nature, while in the scenery, in the fading sentiment of the old Spanish life, and the romance and faith of the Missions, the author has done for the region very much what Scott did for the Highlands. I hope she knows now, I presume she does, that more than one Indian school in the Territories is called the Ramona School; that at least two villages in California are contending for the priority of using the name Ramona; that all the travelers and tourists (at least in the time they can spare from real-estate speculations) go about under her guidance, are pilgrims to the shrines she has described, and eager searchers for the scenes she has made famous in her novel; that more than one city and more than one town claims the honor of connection with the story; that the tourist has pointed out to him in more than one village the very house where Ramona lived, where she was married—indeed, that a little crop of legends has already grown up about the story itself. I was myself shown the house in Los Angeles where the story was written, and so strong is the local impression that I confess to looking at the rose-embowered cottage with a good deal of interest, though I had seen the romance growing day by day in the Berkeley in New York.

The undoubted scene of the loves of Ramona and Alessandro is the Comulos rancho, on the railway from Newhall to Santa Paula, the route that one takes now (unless he wants to have a lifelong remembrance of the ground swells of the Pacific in an uneasy little steamer) to go from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. It is almost the only one remaining of the old-fashioned Spanish haciendas, where the old administration prevails. The new railway passes it now, and the hospitable owners have been obliged to yield to the public curiosity and provide entertainment for a continual stream of visitors. The place is so perfectly described in “Ramona” that I do not need to draw it over again, and I violate no confidence and only certify to the extraordinary powers of delineation of the novelist, when I say that she only spent a few hours there,—not a quarter of the time we spent in identifying her picture. We knew the situation before the train stopped by the crosses erected on the conspicuous peaks of the serrated ashy—or shall I say purple—hills that enfold the fertile valley. It is a great domain, watered by a swift river, and sheltered by wonderfully picturesque mountains. The house is strictly in the old Spanish style, of one story about a large court, with flowers and a fountain, in which are the most noisy if not musical frogs in the world, and all the interior rooms opening upon a gallery. The real front is towards the garden, and here at the end of the gallery is the elevated room where Father Salvierderra slept when he passed a night at the hacienda,—a pretty room which has a case of Spanish books, mostly religious and legal, and some quaint and cheap holy pictures. We had a letter to Signora Del Valle, the mistress, and were welcomed with a sort of formal extension of hospitality that put us back into the courtly manners of a hundred years ago. The Signora, who is in no sense the original of the mistress whom “H. H.” describes, is a widow now for seven years, and is the vigilant administrator of all her large domain, of the stock, the grazing lands, the vineyard, the sheep ranch, and all the people. Rising very early in the morning, she visits every department, and no detail is too minute to escape her inspection, and no one in the great household but feels her authority.

It was a very lovely day on the 17th of March (indeed, I suppose it had been preceded by 364 days exactly like it) as we sat upon the gallery looking on the garden, a garden of oranges, roses, citrons, lemons, peaches—what fruit and flower was not growing there?—acres and acres of vineyard beyond, with the tall cane and willows by the stream, and the purple mountains against the sapphire sky. Was there ever anything more exquisite than the peach-blossoms against that blue sky! Such a place of peace. A soft south wind was blowing, and all the air was drowsy with the hum of bees. In the garden is a vine-covered arbor, with seats and tables, and at the end of it is the opening into a little chapel, a domestic chapel, carpeted like a parlor, and bearing all the emblems of a loving devotion. By the garden gate hang three small bells, from some old mission, all cracked, but serving (each has its office) to summon the workmen or to call to prayer.

Perfect system reigns in Signora Del Valle's establishment, and even the least child in it has its duty. At sundown a little slip of a girl went out to the gate and struck one of the bells. “What is that for?” I asked as she returned. “It is the Angelus,” she said simply. I do not know what would happen to her if she should neglect to strike it at the hour. At eight o'clock the largest bell was struck, and the Signora and all her household, including the house servants, went out to the little chapel in the garden, which was suddenly lighted with candles, gleaming brilliantly through the orange groves. The Signora read the service, the household responding—a twenty minutes' service, which is as much a part of the administration of the establishment as visiting the granaries and presses, and the bringing home of the goats. The Signora's apartments, which she permitted us to see, were quite in the nature of an oratory, with shrines and sacred pictures and relics of the faith. By the shrine at the head of her bed hung the rosary carried by Father Junipero,—a priceless possession. From her presses and armoires, the Signora, seeing we had a taste for such things, brought out the feminine treasures of three generations, the silk and embroidered dresses of last century, the ribosas, the jewelry, the brilliant stuffs of China and Mexico, each article with a memory and a flavor.

But I must not be betrayed into writing about Ramona's house. How charming indeed it was the next morning,—though the birds in the garden were astir a little too early,—with the thermometer set to the exact degree of warmth without languor, the sky blue, the wind soft, the air scented with orange and jessamine. The Signora had already visited all her premises before we were up. We had seen the evening before an enclosure near the house full of cashmere goats and kids, whose antics were sufficiently amusing—most of them had now gone afield; workmen were coming for their orders, plowing was going on in the barley fields, traders were driving to the plantation store, the fierce eagle in a big cage by the olive press was raging at his detention. Within the house enclosure are an olive mill and press, a wine-press and a great storehouse of wine, containing now little but empty casks,—a dusky, interesting place, with pomegranates and dried bunches of grapes and oranges and pieces of jerked meat hanging from the rafters. Near by is a cornhouse and a small distillery, and the corrals for sheep shearing are not far off. The ranches for cattle and sheep are on the other side of the mountain.

Peace be with Comulos. It must please the author of “Ramona” to know that it continues in the old ways; and I trust she is undisturbed by the knowledge that the rage for change will not long let it be what it now is.


No doubt one of the most charming creations in all poetry is Nausicaa, the white-armed daughter of King Alcinous. There is no scene, no picture, in the heroic times more pleasing than the meeting of Ulysses with this damsel on the wild seashore of Scheria, where the Wanderer had been tossed ashore by the tempest. The place of this classic meeting was probably on the west coast of Corfu, that incomparable island, to whose beauty the legend of the exquisite maidenhood of the daughter of the king of the Phaeacians has added an immortal bloom.

We have no difficulty in recalling it in all its distinctness: the bright morning on which Nausicaa came forth from the palace, where her mother sat and turned the distaff loaded with a fleece dyed in sea-purple, mounted the car piled with the robes to be cleansed in the stream, and, attended by her bright-haired, laughing handmaidens, drove to the banks of the river, where out of its sweet grasses it flowed over clean sand into the Adriatic. The team is loosed to browse the grass; the garments are flung into the dark water, then trampled with hasty feet in frolic rivalry, and spread upon the gravel to dry. Then the maidens bathe, give their limbs the delicate oil from the cruse of gold, sit by the stream and eat their meal, and, refreshed, mistress and maidens lay aside their veils and play at ball, and Nausicaa begins a song. Though all were fair, like Diana was this spotless virgin midst her maids. A missed ball and maidenly screams waken Ulysses from his sleep in the thicket. At the apparition of the unclad, shipwrecked sailor the maidens flee right and left. Nausicaa alone keeps her place, secure in her unconscious modesty. To the astonished Sport of Fortune the vision of this radiant girl, in shape and stature and in noble air, is more than mortal, yet scarcely more than woman:

 “Like thee, I saw of late, In Delos, a young palm-tree growing up Beside Apollo's altar.” 

When the Wanderer has bathed, and been clad in robes from the pile on the sand, and refreshed with food and wine which the hospitable maidens put before him, the train sets out for the town, Ulysses following the chariot among the bright-haired women. But before that Nausicaa, in the candor of those early days, says to her attendants:

 “I would that I might call A man like him my husband, dwelling here And here content to dwell.” 

Is there any woman in history more to be desired than this sweet, pure-minded, honest-hearted girl, as she is depicted with a few swift touches by the great poet?—the dutiful daughter in her father's house, the joyous companion of girls, the beautiful woman whose modest bearing commands the instant homage of man. Nothing is more enduring in literature than this girl and the scene on the—Corfu sands.

The sketch, though distinct, is slight, little more than outlines; no elaboration, no analysis; just an incident, as real as the blue sky of Scheria and the waves on the yellow sand. All the elements of the picture are simple, human, natural, standing in as unconfused relations as any events in common life. I am not recalling it because it is a conspicuous instance of the true realism that is touched with the ideality of genius, which is the immortal element in literature, but as an illustration of the other necessary quality in all productions of the human mind that remain age after age, and that is simplicity. This is the stamp of all enduring work; this is what appeals to the universal understanding from generation to generation. All the masterpieces that endure and become a part of our lives are characterized by it. The eye, like the mind, hates confusion and overcrowding. All the elements in beauty, grandeur, pathos, are simple—as simple as the lines in a Nile picture: the strong river, the yellow desert, the palms, the pyramids; hardly more than a horizontal line and a perpendicular line; only there is the sky, the atmosphere, the color-those need genius.

We may test contemporary literature by its confortuity to the canon of simplicity—that is, if it has not that, we may conclude that it lacks one essential lasting quality. It may please;—it may be ingenious —brilliant, even; it may be the fashion of the day, and a fashion that will hold its power of pleasing for half a century, but it will be a fashion. Mannerisms of course will not deceive us, nor extravagances, eccentricities, affectations, nor the straining after effect by the use of coined or far-fetched words and prodigality in adjectives. But, style? Yes, there is such a thing as style, good and bad; and the style should be the writer's own and characteristic of him, as his speech is. But the moment I admire a style for its own sake, a style that attracts my attention so constantly that I say, How good that is! I begin to be suspicious. If it is too good, too pronouncedly good, I fear I shall not like it so well on a second reading. If it comes to stand between me and the thought, or the personality behind the thought, I grow more and more suspicious. Is the book a window, through which I am to see life? Then I cannot have the glass too clear. Is it to affect me like a strain of music? Then I am still more disturbed by any affectations. Is it to produce the effect of a picture? Then I know I want the simplest harmony of color. And I have learned that the most effective word-painting, as it is called, is the simplest. This is true if it is a question only of present enjoyment. But we may be sure that any piece of literature which attracts only by some trick of style, however it may blaze up for a day and startle the world with its flash, lacks the element of endurance. We do not need much experience to tell us the difference between a lamp and a Roman candle. Even in our day we have seen many reputations flare up, illuminate the sky, and then go out in utter darkness. When we take a proper historical perspective, we see that it is the universal, the simple, that lasts.

I am not sure whether simplicity is a matter of nature or of cultivation. Barbarous nature likes display, excessive ornament; and when we have arrived at the nobly simple, the perfect proportion, we are always likely to relapse into the confused and the complicated. The most cultivated men, we know, are the simplest in manners, in taste, in their style. It is a note of some of the purest modern writers that they avoid comparisons, similes, and even too much use of metaphor. But the mass of men are always relapsing into the tawdry and the over-ornamented. It is a characteristic of youth, and it seems also to be a characteristic of over-development. Literature, in any language, has no sooner arrived at the highest vigor of simple expression than it begins to run into prettiness, conceits, over-elaboration. This is a fact which may be verified by studying different periods, from classic literature to our own day.

It is the same with architecture. The classic Greek runs into the excessive elaboration of the Roman period, the Gothic into the flamboyant, and so on. We, have had several attacks of architectural measles in this country, which have left the land spotted all over with houses in bad taste. Instead of developing the colonial simplicity on lines of dignity and harmony to modern use, we stuck on the pseudo-classic, we broke out in the Mansard, we broke all up into the whimsicalities of the so-called Queen Anne, without regard to climate or comfort. The eye speedily tires of all these things. It is a positive relief to look at an old colonial mansion, even if it is as plain as a barn. What the eye demands is simple lines, proportion, harmony in mass, dignity; above all, adaptation to use. And what we must have also is individuality in house and in furniture; that makes the city, the village, picturesque and interesting. The highest thing in architecture, as in literature, is the development of individuality in simplicity.

Dress is a dangerous topic to meddle with. I myself like the attire of the maidens of Scheria, though Nausicaa, we must note, was “clad royally.” But climate cannot be disregarded, and the vestment that was so fitting on a Greek girl whom I saw at the Second Cataract of the Nile would scarcely be appropriate in New York. If the maidens of one of our colleges for girls, say Vassar for illustration, habited like the Phaeacian girls of Scheria, went down to the Hudson to cleanse the rich robes of the house, and were surprised by the advent of a stranger from the city, landing from a steamboat—a wandering broker, let us say, clad in wide trousers, long topcoat, and a tall hat—I fancy that he would be more astonished than Ulysses was at the bevy of girls that scattered at his approach. It is not that women must be all things to all men, but that their simplicity must conform to time and circ*mstance. What I do not understand is that simplicity gets banished altogether, and that fashion, on a dictation that no one can trace the origin of, makes that lovely in the eyes of women today which will seem utterly abhorrent to them tomorrow. There appears to be no line of taste running through the changes. The only consolation to you, the woman of the moment, is that while the costume your grandmother wore makes her, in the painting, a guy in your eyes, the costume you wear will give your grandchildren the same impression of you. And the satisfaction for you is the thought that the latter raiment will be worse than the other two—that is to say, less well suited to display the shape, station, and noble air which brought Ulysses to his knees on the sands of Corfu.

Another reason why I say that I do not know whether simplicity belongs to nature or art is that fashion is as strong to pervert and disfigure in savage nations as it is in civilized. It runs to as much eccentricity in hair-dressing and ornament in the costume of the jingling belles of Nootka and the maidens of Nubia as in any court or coterie which we aspire to imitate. The only difference is that remote and unsophisticated communities are more constant to a style they once adopt. There are isolated peasant communities in Europe who have kept for centuries the most uncouth and inconvenient attire, while we have run through a dozen variations in the art of attraction by dress, from the most puffed and bulbous ballooning to the extreme of limpness and lankness. I can only conclude that the civilized human being is a restless creature, whose motives in regard to costumes are utterly unfathomable.

We need, however, to go a little further in this question of simplicity. Nausicaa was “clad royally.” There was a distinction, then, between her and her handmaidens. She was clad simply, according to her condition. Taste does not by any means lead to uniformity. I have read of a commune in which all the women dressed alike and unbecomingly, so as to discourage all attempt to please or attract, or to give value to the different accents of beauty. The end of those women was worse than the beginning. Simplicity is not ugliness, nor poverty, nor barrenness, nor necessarily plainness. What is simplicity for another may not be for you, for your condition, your tastes, especially for your wants. It is a personal question. You go beyond simplicity when you attempt to appropriate more than your wants, your aspirations, whatever they are, demand—that is, to appropriate for show, for ostentation, more than your life can assimilate, can make thoroughly yours. There is no limit to what you may have, if it is necessary for you, if it is not a superfluity to you. What would be simplicity to you may be superfluity to another. The rich robes that Nausicaa wore she wore like a goddess. The moment your dress, your house, your house-grounds, your furniture, your scale of living, are beyond the rational satisfaction of your own desires—that is, are for ostentation, for imposition upon the public—they are superfluous, the line of simplicity is passed. Every human being has a right to whatever can best feed his life, satisfy his legitimate desires, contribute to the growth of his soul. It is not for me to judge whether this is luxury or want. There is no merit in riches nor in poverty. There is merit in that simplicity of life which seeks to grasp no more than is necessary for the development and enjoyment of the individual. Most of us, in all conditions; are weighted down with superfluities or worried to acquire them. Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.

The needs of every person differ from the needs of every other; we can make no standard for wants or possessions. But the world would be greatly transformed and much more easy to live in if everybody limited his acquisitions to his ability to assimilate them to his life. The destruction of simplicity is a craving for things, not because we need them, but because others have them. Because one man who lives in a plain little house, in all the restrictions of mean surroundings, would be happier in a mansion suited to his taste and his wants, is no argument that another man, living in a palace, in useless ostentation, would not be better off in a dwelling which conforms to his cultivation and habits. It is so hard to learn the lesson that there is no satisfaction in gaining more than we personally want.

The matter of simplicity, then, comes into literary style, into building, into dress, into life, individualized always by one's personality. In each we aim at the expression of the best that is in us, not at imitation or ostentation.

The women in history, in legend, in poetry, whom we love, we do not love because they are “clad royally.” In our day, to be clad royally is scarcely a distinction. To have a superfluity is not a distinction. But in those moments when we have a clear vision of life, that which seems to us most admirable and desirable is the simplicity that endears to us the idyl of Nausicaa.


The most painful event since the bombardment of Alexandria has been what is called by an English writer the “invasion” of “American Literature in England.” The hostile forces, with an advanced guard of what was regarded as an “awkward squad,” had been gradually effecting a landing and a lodgment not unwelcome to the unsuspicious natives. No alarm was taken when they threw out a skirmish-line of magazines and began to deploy an occasional wild poet, who advanced in buckskin leggings, revolver in hand, or a stray sharp-shooting sketcher clad in the picturesque robes of the sunset. Put when the main body of American novelists got fairly ashore and into position the literary militia of the island rose up as one man, with the strength of a thousand, to repel the invaders and sweep them back across the Atlantic. The spectacle had a dramatic interest. The invaders were not numerous, did not carry their native tomahawks, they had been careful to wash off the frightful paint with which they usually go into action, they did not utter the defiant whoop of Pogram, and even the militia regarded them as on the whole “amusin' young 'possums” and yet all the resources of modern and ancient warfare were brought to bear upon them. There was a crack of revolvers from the daily press, a lively fusillade of small-arms in the astonished weeklies, a discharge of point-blank blunderbusses from the monthlies; and some of the heavy quarterlies loaded up the old pieces of ordnance, that had not been charged in forty years, with slugs and brickbats and junk-bottles, and poured in raking broadsides. The effect on the island was something tremendous: it shook and trembled, and was almost hidden in the smoke of the conflict. What the effect is upon the invaders it is too soon to determine. If any of them survive, it will be God's mercy to his weak and innocent children.

It must be said that the American people—such of them as were aware of this uprising—took the punishment of their presumption in a sweet and forgiving spirit. If they did not feel that they deserved it, they regarded it as a valuable contribution to the study of sociology and race characteristics, in which they have taken a lively interest of late. We know how it is ourselves, they said; we used to be thin-skinned and self-conscious and sensitive. We used to wince and cringe under English criticism, and try to strike back in a blind fury. We have learned that criticism is good for us, and we are grateful for it from any source. We have learned that English criticism is dictated by love for us, by a warm interest in our intellectual development, just as English anxiety about our revenue laws is based upon a yearning that our down-trodden millions shall enjoy the benefits of free-trade. We did not understand why a country that admits our beef and grain and cheese should seem to seek protection against a literary product which is brought into competition with one of the great British staples, the modern novel. It seemed inconsistent. But we are no more consistent ourselves. We cannot understand the action of our own Congress, which protects the American author by a round duty on foreign books and refuses to protect him by granting a foreign copyright; or, to put it in another way, is willing to steal the brains of the foreign author under the plea of free knowledge, but taxes free knowledge in another form. We have no defense to make of the state of international copyright, though we appreciate the complication of the matter in the conflicting interests of English and American publishers.

Yes; we must insist that, under the circ*mstances, the American people have borne this outburst of English criticism in an admirable spirit. It was as unexpected as it was sudden. Now, for many years our international relations have been uncommonly smooth, oiled every few days by complimentary banquet speeches, and sweetened by abundance of magazine and newspaper “taffy.” Something too much of “taffy” we have thought was given us at times for, in getting bigger in various ways, we have grown more modest. Though our English admirers may not believe it, we see our own faults more clearly than we once did—thanks, partly, to the faithful castigations of our friends—and we sometimes find it difficult to conceal our blushes when we are over-praised. We fancied that we were going on, as an English writer on “Down-Easters” used to say, as “slick as ile,” when this miniature tempest suddenly burst out in a revival of the language and methods used in the redoubtable old English periodicals forty years ago. We were interested in seeing how exactly this sort of criticism that slew our literary fathers was revived now for the execution of their degenerate children. And yet it was not exactly the same. We used to call it “slang-whanging.” One form of it was a blank surprise at the pretensions of American authors, and a dismissal with the formula of previous ignorance of their existence. This is modified now by a modest expression of “discomfiture” on reading of American authors “whose very names, much less peculiarities, we never heard of before.” This is a tribunal from which there is no appeal. Not to have been heard of by an Englishman is next door to annihilation. It is at least discouraging to an author who may think he has gained some reputation over what is now conceded to be a considerable portion of the earth's surface, to be cast into total obscurity by the negative damnation of English ignorance. There is to us something pathetic in this and in the surprise of the English critic, that there can be any standard of respectable achievement outside of a seven-miles radius turning on Charing Cross.

The pathetic aspect of the case has not, however, we are sorry to say, struck the American press, which has too often treated with unbecoming levity this unaccountable exhibition of English sensitiveness. There has been little reply to it; at most, generally only an amused report of the war, and now and then a discriminating acceptance of some of the criticism as just, with a friendly recognition of the fact that on the whole the critic had done very well considering the limitation of his knowledge of the subject on which he wrote. What is certainly noticeable is an entire absence of the irritation that used to be caused by similar comments on America thirty years ago. Perhaps the Americans are reserving their fire as their ancestors did at Bunker Hill, conscious, maybe, that in the end they will be driven out of their slight literary entrenchments. Perhaps they were disarmed by the fact that the acrid criticism in the London Quarterly Review was accompanied by a cordial appreciation of the novels that seemed to the reviewer characteristically American. The interest in the tatter's review of our poor field must be languid, however, for nobody has taken the trouble to remind its author that Brockden Brown—who is cited as a typical American writer, true to local character, scenery, and color—put no more flavor of American life and soil in his books than is to be found in “Frankenstein.”

It does not, I should suppose, lie in the way of The Century, whose general audience on both sides of the Atlantic takes only an amused interest in this singular revival of a traditional literary animosity—an anachronism in these tolerant days when the reading world cares less and less about the origin of literature that pleases it—it does not lie in the way of The Century to do more than report this phenomenal literary effervescence. And yet it cannot escape a certain responsibility as an immediate though innocent occasion of this exhibition of international courtesy, because its last November number contained some papers that seem to have been irritating. In one of them Mr. Howells let fall some chance remarks on the tendency of modern fiction, without adequately developing his theory, which were largely dissented from in this country, and were like the uncorking of six vials in England. The other was an essay on England, dictated by admiration for the achievements of the foremost nation of our time, which, from the awkwardness of the eulogist, was unfortunately the uncorking of the seventh vial—an uncorking which, as we happen to know, so prostrated the writer that he resolved never to attempt to praise England again. His panic was somewhat allayed by the soothing remark in a kindly paper in Blackwood's Magazine for January, that the writer had discussed his theme “by no means unfairly or disrespectfully.” But with a shudder he recognized what a peril he had escaped. Great Scott!—the reference is to a local American deity who is invoked in war, and not to the Biblical commentator—what would have happened to him if he had spoken of England “disrespectfully”!

We gratefully acknowledge also the remark of the Blackwood writer in regard-to the claims of America in literature. “These claims,” he says, “we have hitherto been very charitable to.” How our life depends upon a continual exhibition by the critics of this divine attribute of charity it would perhaps be unwise in us to confess. We can at least take courage that it exists—who does not need it in this world of misunderstandings?—since we know that charity is not puffed up, vaunteth not itself, hopeth all things, endureth all things, is not easily provoked; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish; but charity never faileth. And when all our “dialects” on both sides of the water shall vanish, and we shall speak no more Yorkshire or Cape Cod, or London co*ckney or “Pike” or “Cracker” vowel flatness, nor write them any more, but all use the noble simplicity of the ideal English, and not indulge in such odd-sounding phrases as this of our critic that “the combatants on both sides were by way of detesting each other,” though we speak with the tongues of men and of angels—we shall still need charity.

It will occur to the charitable that the Americans are at a disadvantage in this little international “tiff.” For while the offenders have inconsiderately written over their own names, the others preserve a privileged anonymity. Any attempt to reply to these voices out of the dark reminds one of the famous duel between the Englishman and the Frenchman which took place in a pitch-dark chamber, with the frightful result that when the tender-hearted Englishman discharged his revolver up the chimney he brought down his man. One never can tell in a case of this kind but a charitable shot might bring down a valued friend or even a peer of the realm.

In all soberness, however, and setting aside the open question, which country has most diverged from the English as it was at the time of the separation of the colonies from the motherland, we may be permitted a word or two in the hope of a better understanding. The offense in The Century paper on “England” seems to have been in phrases such as these: “When we began to produce something that was the product of our own soil and of our own social conditions, it was still judged by the old standards;” and, we are no longer irritated by “the snobbishness of English critics of a certain school,” “for we see that its criticism is only the result of ignorance simply of inability to understand.”

Upon this the reviewer affects to lose his respiration, and with “a gasp of incredulity” wants to know what the writer means, “and what standards he proposes to himself when he has given up the English ones?” The reviewer makes a more serious case than the writer intended, or than a fair construction of the context of his phrases warrants. It is the criticism of “a certain school” only that was said to be the result of ignorance. It is not the English language nor its body of enduring literature—the noblest monument of our common civilization—that the writer objected to as a standard of our performances. The standard objected to is the narrow insular one (the term “insular” is used purely as a geographical one) that measures life, social conditions, feeling, temperament, and national idiosyncrasies expressed in our literature by certain fixed notions prevalent in England. Probably also the expression of national peculiarities would diverge somewhat from the “old standards.” All we thought of asking was that allowance should be made for this expression and these peculiarities, as it would be made in case of other literatures and peoples. It might have occurred to our critics, we used to think, to ask themselves whether the English literature is not elastic enough to permit the play of forces in it which are foreign to their experience. Genuine literature is the expression, we take it, of life-and truth to that is the standard of its success. Reference was intended to this, and not to the common canons of literary art. But we have given up the expectation that the English critic “of a certain school” will take this view of it, and this is the plain reason—not intended to be offensive—why much of the English criticism has ceased to be highly valued in this country, and why it has ceased to annoy. At the same time, it ought to be added, English opinion, when it is seen to be based upon knowledge, is as highly respected as ever. And nobody in America, so far as we know, entertains, or ever entertained, the idea of setting aside as standards the master-minds in British literature. In regard to the “inability to understand,” we can, perhaps, make ourselves more clearly understood, for the Blackwood's reviewer has kindly furnished us an illustration in this very paper, when he passes in patronizing review the novels of Mr. Howells. In discussing the character of Lydia Blood, in “The Lady of the Aroostook,” he is exceedingly puzzled by the fact that a girl from rural New England, brought up amid surroundings homely in the extreme, should have been considered a lady. He says:

“The really 'American thing' in it is, we think, quite undiscovered either by the author or his heroes, and that is the curious confusion of classes which attributes to a girl brought up on the humblest level all the prejudices and necessities of the highest society. Granting that there was anything dreadful in it, the daughter of a homely small farmer in England is not guarded and accompanied like a young lady on her journeys from one place to another. Probably her mother at home would be disturbed, like Lydia's aunt, at the thought that there was no woman on board, in case her child should be ill or lonely; but, as for any impropriety, would never think twice on that subject. The difference is that the English girl would not be a young lady. She would find her sweetheart among the sailors, and would have nothing to say to the gentlemen. This difference is far more curious than the misadventure, which might have happened anywhere, and far more remarkable than the fact that the gentlemen did behave to her like gentlemen, and did their best to set her at ease, which we hope would have happened anywhere else. But it is, we think, exclusively American, and very curious and interesting, that this young woman, with her antecedents so distinctly set before us, should be represented as a lady, not at all out of place among her cultivated companions, and 'ready to become an ornament of society the moment she lands in Venice.”

Reams of writing could not more clearly explain what is meant by “inability to understand” American conditions and to judge fairly the literature growing out of them; and reams of writing would be wasted in the attempt to make our curious critic comprehend the situation. There is nothing in his experience of “farmers' daughters” to give him the key to it. We might tell him that his notion of a farmer's daughters in England does not apply to New England. We might tell him of a sort of society of which he has no conception and can have none, of farmers' daughters and farmers' wives in New England—more numerous, let us confess, thirty or forty years ago than now—who lived in homely conditions, dressed with plainness, and followed the fashions afar off; did their own household work, even the menial parts of it; cooked the meals for the “men folks” and the “hired help,” made the butter and cheese, and performed their half of the labor that wrung an honest but not luxurious living from the reluctant soil. And yet those women—the sweet and gracious ornaments of a self-respecting society—were full of spirit, of modest pride in their position, were familiar with much good literature, could converse with piquancy and understanding on subjects of general interest, were trained in the subtleties of a solid theology, and bore themselves in any company with that traditional breeding which we associate with the name of lady. Such strong native sense had they, such innate refinement and courtesythe product, it used to be said, of plain living and high thinking—that, ignorant as they might be of civic ways, they would, upon being introduced to them, need only a brief space of time to “orient” themselves to the new circ*mstances. Much more of this sort might be said without exaggeration. To us there is nothing incongruous in the supposition that Lydia Blood was “ready to become an ornament to society the moment she lands in Venice.”

But we lack the missionary spirit necessary to the exertion to make our interested critic comprehend such a social condition, and we prefer to leave ourselves to his charity, in the hope of the continuance of which we rest in serenity.


In a Memorial Day address at New Haven in 1881, the Hon. Richard D. Hubbard suggested the erection of a statue to Nathan Hale in the State Capitol. With the exception of the monument in Coventry no memorial of the young hero existed. The suggestion was acted on by the Hon. E. S. Cleveland, who introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives in the session of 1883, appropriating money for the purpose. The propriety of this was urged before a committee of the Legislature by Governor Hubbard, in a speech of characteristic grace and eloquence, seconded by the Hon. Henry C. Robinson and the Hon. Stephen W. Kellogg. The Legislature appropriated the sum of five thousand dollars for a statue in bronze, and a committee was appointed to procure it. They opened a public competition, and, after considerable delay, during which the commission was changed by death and by absence,—indeed four successive governors, Hubbard, Waller, Harrison, and Lounsbury have served on it,—the work was awarded to Karl Gerhardt, a young sculptor who began his career in this city. It was finished in clay, and accepted in October, 1886, put in plaster, and immediately sent to the foundry of Melzar Masman in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Today in all its artistic perfection and beauty it stands here to be revealed to the public gaze. It is proper that the citizens of Connecticut should know how much of this result they owe to the intelligent zeal of Mr. Cleveland, the mover of the resolution in the Legislature, who in the commission, and before he became a member of it, has spared neither time nor effort to procure a memorial worthy of the hero and of the State. And I am sure that I speak the unanimous sentiment of the commission in the regret that the originator of this statue could not have seen the consummation of his idea, and could not have crowned it with the one thing lacking on this occasion, the silver words of eloquence we always heard from his lips, that compact, nervous speech, the perfect union of strength and grace; for who so fitly as the lamented Hubbard could have portrayed the moral heroism of the Martyr-Spy?

This is not a portrait statue. There is no likeness of Nathan Hale extant. The only known miniature of his face, in the possession of the lady to whom he was betrothed at the time of his death, disappeared many years ago. The artist was obliged, therefore, to create an ideal figure, aided by a few fragmentary descriptions of Hale's personal appearance. His object has been to represent an American youth of the period, an American patriot and scholar, whose manly beauty and grace tradition loves to recall, to represent in face and in bearing the moral elevation of character that made him conspicuous among his fellows, and to show forth, if possible, the deed that made him immortal. For it is the deed and the memorable last words we think of when we think of Hale. I know that by one of the canons of art it is held that sculpture should rarely fix a momentary action; but if this can be pardoned in the Laocoon, where suffering could not otherwise be depicted to excite the sympathy of the spectator, surely it can be justified in this case, where, as one may say, the immortality of the subject rests upon a single act, upon a phrase, upon the attitude of the moment. For all the man's life, all his character, flowered and blossomed into immortal beauty in this one supreme moment of self-sacrifice, triumph, defiance. The ladder of the gallows-tree on which the deserted boy stood, amidst the enemies of his country, when he uttered those last words which all human annals do not parallel in simple patriotism,—the ladder I am sure ran up to heaven, and if angels were not seen ascending and descending it in that gray morning, there stood the embodiment of American courage, unconquerable, American faith, invincible, American love of country, unquenchable, a new democratic manhood in the world, visible there for all men to take note of, crowned already with the halo of victory in the Revolutionary dawn. Oh, my Lord Howe! it seemed a trifling incident to you and to your bloodhound, Provost Marshal Cunningham, but those winged last words were worth ten thousand men to the drooping patriot army. Oh, your Majesty, King George the Third! here was a spirit, could you but have known it, that would cost you an empire, here was an ignominious death that would grow in the estimation of mankind, increasing in nobility above the fading pageantry of kings.

On the 21st of April, 1775, a messenger, riding express from Boston to New York with the tidings of Lexington and Concord, reached New London. The news created intense excitement. A public meeting was called in the court-house at twilight, and among the speakers who exhorted the people to take up arms at once, was one, a youth not yet twenty years of age, who said, “Let us march immediately, and never lay down our arms until we have obtained our independence,”—one of the first, perhaps the first, of the public declarations of the purpose of independence. It was Nathan Hale, already a person of some note in the colony, of a family then not unknown and destined in various ways to distinction in the Republic. A kinsman of the same name lost his life in the Louisburg fight. He had been for a year the preceptor of the Union Grammar School at New London. The morning after the meeting he was enrolled as a volunteer, and soon marched away with his company to Cambridge.

Nathan Hale, descended from Robert Hale who settled in Charlestown in 1632, a scion of the Hales of Kent, England, was born in Coventry, Connecticut, on the 6th of June, 1755, the sixth child of Richard Hale and his wife Elizabeth Strong, persons of strong intellect and the highest moral character, and Puritans of the strictest observances. Brought up in this atmosphere, in which duty and moral rectitude were the unquestioned obligations in life, he came to manhood with a character that enabled him to face death or obloquy without flinching, when duty called, so that his behavior at the last was not an excitement of the moment, but the result of ancestry, training, and principle. Feeble physically in infancy, he developed into a robust boy, strong in mind and body, a lively, sweet-tempered, beautiful youth, and into a young manhood endowed with every admirable quality. In feats of strength and agility he recalls the traditions of Washington; he early showed a remarkable avidity for knowledge, which was so sought that he became before he was of age one of the best educated young men of his time in the colonies. He was not only a classical scholar, with the limitations of those days; but, what was then rare, he made scientific attainments which greatly impressed those capable of judging, and he had a taste for art and a remarkable talent as an artist. His father intended him for the ministry. He received his preparatory education from Dr. Joseph Huntington, a classical scholar and the pastor of the church in Coventry, entered Yale College at the age of sixteen, and graduated with high honors in a class of sixty, in September, 1773. At the time of his graduation his personal appearance was notable. Dr. Enos Monro of New Haven, who knew him well in the last year at Yale, said of him,

“He was almost six feet in height, perfectly proportioned, and in figure and deportment he was the most manly man I have ever met. His chest was broad; his muscles were firm; his face wore a most benign expression; his complexion was roseate; his eyes were light blue and beamed with intelligence; his hair was soft and light brown in color, and his speech was rather low, sweet, and musical. His personal beauty and grace of manner were most charming. Why, all the girls in New Haven fell in love with him,” said Dr. Munro, “and wept tears of real sorrow when they heard of his sad fate. In dress he was always neat; he was quick to lend a hand to a being in distress, brute or human; was overflowing with good humor, and was the idol of all his acquaintances.”

Dr. Jared Sparks, who knew several of Hale's intimate friends, writes of him:

“Possessing genius, taste, and order, he became distinguished as a scholar; and endowed in an eminent degree with those graces and gifts of Nature which add a charm to youthful excellence, he gained universal esteem and confidence. To high moral worth and irreproachable habits were joined gentleness of manner, an ingenuous disposition, and vigor of understanding. No young man of his years put forth a fairer promise of future usefulness and celebrity; the fortunes of none were fostered more sincerely by the generous good wishes of his superiors.”

It was remembered at Yale that he was a brilliant debater as well as scholar. At his graduation he engaged in a debate on the question, “Whether the education of daughters be not, without any just reason, more neglected than that of the sons.” “In this debate,” wrote James Hillhouse, one of his classmates, “he was the champion of the daughters, and most ably advocated their cause. You may be sure that he received the plaudits of the ladies present.”

Hale seems to have had an irresistible charm for everybody. He was a favorite in society; he had the manners and the qualities that made him a leader among men and gained him the admiration of women. He was always intelligently busy, and had the Yankee ingenuity,—he “could do anything but spin,” he used to say to the girls of Coventry, laughing over the spinning wheel. There is a universal testimony to his alert intelligence, vivacity, manliness, sincerity, and winningness.

It is probable that while still an under-graduate at Yale, he was engaged to Alice Adams, who was born in Canterbury, a young lady distinguished then as she was afterwards for great beauty and intelligence. After Hale's death she married Mr. Eleazer Ripley, and was left a widow at the age of eighteen, with one child, who survived its father only one year. She married, the second time, William Lawrence, Esq., of Hartford, and died in this city, greatly respected and admired, in 1845, aged eighty-eight. It is a touching note of the hold the memory of her young hero had upon her admiration that her last words, murmured as life was ebbing, were, “Write to Nathan.”

Hale's short career in the American army need not detain us. After his flying visit as a volunteer to Cambridge, he returned to New London, joined a company with the rank of lieutenant, participated in the siege of Boston, was commissioned a captain in the Nineteenth Connecticut Regiment in January, 1776, performed the duties of a soldier with vigilance, bravery, and patience, and was noted for the discipline of his company. In the last dispiriting days of 1775, when the terms of his men had expired, he offered to give them his month's pay if they would remain a month longer. He accompanied the army to New York, and shared its fortunes in that discouraging spring and summer. Shortly after his arrival Captain Hale distinguished himself by the brilliant exploit of cutting out a British sloop, laden with provisions, from under the guns of the man-of-war “Asia,” sixty-four, lying in the East River, and bringing her triumphantly into slip. During the summer he suffered a severe illness.

The condition of the American army and cause on the 1st of September, 1776, after the retreat from Long Island, was critical. The army was demoralized, clamoring in vain for pay, and deserting by companies and regiments; one-third of the men were without tents, one-fourth of them were on the sick list. On the 7th, Washington called a council of war, and anxiously inquired what should be done. On the 12th it was determined to abandon the city and take possession of Harlem Heights. The British army, twenty-five thousand strong, admirably equipped, and supported by a powerful naval force, threatened to envelop our poor force, and finish the war in a stroke. Washington was unable to penetrate the designs of the British commander, or to obtain any trusty information of the intentions or the movements of the British army. Information was imperatively necessary to save us from destruction, and it could only be obtained by one skilled in military and scientific knowledge and a good draughtsman, a man of quick eye, cool head, tact, sagacity, and courage, and one whose judgment and fidelity could be trusted. Washington applied to Lieutenant-Colonel Knowlton, who summoned a conference of officers in the name of the commander-in-chief, and laid the matter before them. No one was willing to undertake the dangerous and ignominious mission. Knowlton was in despair, and late in the conference was repeating the necessity, when a young officer, pale from recent illness, entered the room and said, “I will undertake it.” It was Captain Nathan Hale. Everybody was astonished. His friends besought him not to attempt it. In vain. Hale was under no illusion. He silenced all remonstrances by saying that he thought he owed his country the accomplishment of an object so important and so much desired by the commander-in-chief, and he knew no way to obtain the information except by going into the enemy's camp in disguise. “I wish to be useful,” he said; “and every kind of service necessary for the public good becomes honorable by being necessary. If the exigencies of my country demand a peculiar service, its claims to the performance of that service are imperious.”

The tale is well known. Hale crossed over from Norwalk to Huntington Cove on Long Island. In the disguise of a schoolmaster, he penetrated the British lines and the city, made accurate drawings of the fortifications, and memoranda in Latin of all that he observed, which he concealed between the soles of his shoes, and returned to the point on the shore where he had first landed. He expected to be met by a boat and to cross the Sound to Norwalk the next morning. The next morning he was captured, no doubt by Tory treachery, and taken to Howe's headquarters, the mansion of James Beekman, situated at (the present) Fiftieth Street and First Avenue. That was on the 21st of September. Without trial and upon the evidence found on his person, Howe condemned him to be hanged as a spy early next morning. Indeed Hale made no attempt at defense. He frankly owned his mission, and expressed regret that he could not serve his country better. His open, manly bearing and high spirit commanded the respect of his captors. Mercy he did not expect, and pity was not shown him. The British were irritated by a conflagration which had that morning laid almost a third of the city in ashes, and which they attributed to incendiary efforts to deprive them of agreeable winter quarters. Hale was at first locked up in the Beekman greenhouse. Whether he remained there all night is not known, and the place of his execution has been disputed; but the best evidence seems to be that it took place on the farm of Colonel Rutger, on the west side, in the orchard in the vicinity of the present East Broadway and Market Street, and that he was hanged to the limb of an apple-tree.

It was a lovely Sunday morning, before the break of day, that he was marched to the place of execution, September 22d. While awaiting the necessary preparations, a courteous young officer permitted him to sit in his tent. He asked for the presence of a chaplain; the request was refused. He asked for a Bible; it was denied. But at the solicitation of the young officer he was furnished with writing materials, and wrote briefly to his mother, his sister, and his betrothed. When the infamous Cunningham, to whom Howe had delivered him, read what was written, he was furious at the noble and dauntless spirit shown, and with foul oaths tore the letters into shreds, saying afterwards “that the rebels should never know that they had a man who could die with such firmness.” As Hale stood upon the fatal ladder, Cunningham taunted him, and tauntingly demanded his “last dying speech and confession.” The hero did not heed the words of the brute, but, looking calmly upon the spectators, said in a clear voice, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” And the ladder was snatched from under him.

My friends, we are not honoring today a lad who appears for a moment in a heroic light, but one of the most worthy of the citizens of Connecticut, who has by his lofty character long honored her, wherever patriotism is not a mere name, and where Christian manhood is respected. We have had many heroes, many youths of promise, and men of note, whose names are our only great and enduring riches; but no one of them all better illustrated, short as was his career, the virtues we desire for all our sons. We have long delayed this tribute to his character and his deeds, but in spite of our neglect his fame has grown year by year, as war and politics have taught us what is really admirable in a human being; and we are now sure that we are not erecting a monument to an ephemeral reputation. It is fit that it should stand here, one of the chief distinctions of our splendid Capitol, here in the political centre of the State, here in the city where first in all the world was proclaimed and put into a political charter the fundamental idea of democracy, that “government rests upon the consent of the people,” here in the city where by the action of these self existing towns was formed the model, the town and the commonwealth, the bi-cameral legislature, of our constitutional federal union. If the soul of Nathan Hale, immortal in youth in the air of heaven, can behold today this scene, as doubtless it can, in the midst of a State whose prosperity the young colonist could not have imagined in his wildest dreams for his country, he must feel anew the truth that there is nothing too sacred for a man to give for his native land.

Governor Lounsbury, the labor of the commission is finished. On their behalf I present this work of art to the State of Connecticut.

Let the statue speak for itself.


By Charles Dudley Warner


Thirty years ago and more those who read and valued good books in this country made the acquaintance of Mr. Warner, and since the publication of “My Summer In a Garden” no work of his has needed any other introduction than the presence of his name on the title-page; and now that reputation has mellowed into memory, even the word of interpretation seems superfluous. Mr. Warner wrote out of a clear, as well as a full mind, and lucidity of style was part of that harmonious charm of sincerity and urbanity which made him one of the most intelligible and companionable of our writers.

It is a pleasure, however, to recall him as, not long ago, we saw him move and heard him speak in the ripeness of years which brought him the full flavor of maturity without any loss of freshness from his humor or serenity from his thought. He shared with Lowell, Longfellow, and Curtis a harmony of nature and art, a unity of ideal and achievement, which make him a welcome figure, not only for what he said, but for what he was; one of those friends whose coming is hailed with joy because they seem always at their best, and minister to rather than draw upon our own capital of moral vitality.

Mr. Warner was the most undogmatic of idealists, the most winning of teachers. He had always some thing to say to the ethical sense, a word for the conscience; but his approach was always through the mind, and his enforcement of the moral lesson was by suggestion rather than by commandment. There was nothing ascetic about him, no easy solution of the difficulties of life by ignoring or evading them; nor, on the other hand, was there any confusion of moral standards as the result of a confusion of ideas touching the nature and functions of art. He saw clearly, he felt deeply, and he thought straight; hence the rectitude of his mind, the sanity of his spirit, the justice of his dealings with the things which make for life and art. He used the essay as Addison used it, not for sermonic effect, but as a form of art which permitted a man to deal with serious things in a spirit of gayety, and with that lightness of touch which conveys influence without employing force. He was as deeply enamored as George William Curtis with the highest ideals of life for America, and, like Curtis, his expression caught the grace and distinction of those ideals.

It is a pleasure to hear his voice once more, because its very accents suggest the most interesting, high-minded, and captivating ideals of living; he brings with him that air of fine breeding which is diffused by the men who, in mind as in manners, have been, in a distinctive sense, gentlemen; who have lived so constantly and habitually on intimate terms with the highest things in thought and character that the tone of this really best society has become theirs. Among men of talent there are plebeians as well as patricians; even genius, which is never vulgar, is sometimes unable to hide the vulgarity of the aims and ideas which it clothes with beauty without concealing their essential nature. Mr. Warner was a patrician; the most democratic of men, he was one of the most fastidious in his intellectual companionships and affiliations. The subjects about which he speaks with his oldtime directness and charm in this volume make us aware of the serious temper of his mind, of his deep interest in the life of his time and people, and of the easy and natural grace with which he insisted on facing the fact and bringing it to the test of the highest standards. In his discussion of “Fashions in Literature” he deftly brings before us the significance of literature and the signs which it always wears, while he seems bent upon considering some interesting aspects of contemporary writing.

And how admirably he has described his own work in his definition of qualities which are common to all literature of a high order: simplicity, knowledge of human nature, agreeable personality. It would be impossible in briefer or more comprehensive phrase to sum up and express the secret of his influence and of the pleasure he gives us. It is to suggest this application of his words to himself that this preparatory comment is written.

When “My Summer In a Garden” appeared, it won a host of friends who did not stop to ask whether it was a piece of excellent journalism or a bit of real literature. It was so natural, so informal, so intimate that readers accepted it as matter of course, as they accepted the blooming of flowers and the flitting of birds. It was simply a report of certain things which had happened out of doors, made by an observing neighbor, whose talk seemed to be of a piece with the diffused fragrance and light and life of the old-fashioned garden. This easy approach, along natural lines of interest, by quietly putting himself on common ground with his reader, Mr. Warner never abandoned; he was so delightful a companion that until he ceased to walk beside them, many of his friends of the mind did not realize how much he had enriched them by the way. This charming simplicity, which made it possible for him to put himself on intimate terms with his readers, was the result of his sincerity, his clearness of thought, and his ripe culture: that knowledge of the best which rids a man forever of faith in devices, dexterities, obscurities, and all other substitutes for the lucid realities of thinking and of character.

To his love of reality and his sincere interest in men, Mr. Warner added natural shrewdness and long observation of the psychology of men and women under the stress and strain of experience. His knowledge of human nature did not lessen his geniality, but it kept the edge of his mind keen, and gave his work the variety not only of humor but of satire. He cared deeply for people, but they did not impose on him; he loved his country with a passion which was the more genuine because it was exacting and, at times, sharply critical. There runs through all his work, as a critic of manners and men, as well as of art, a wisdom of life born of wide and keen observation; put not into the form of aphorisms, but of shrewd comment, of keen criticism, of nice discrimination between the manifold shadings of insincerity, of insight into the action and reaction of conditions, surroundings, social and ethical aims on men and women. The stories written in his later years are full of the evidences of a knowledge of human nature which was singularly trustworthy and penetrating.

When all has been said, however, it remains true of him, as of so many of the writers whom we read and love and love as we read, that the secret of his charm lay in an agreeable personality. At the end of the analysis, if the work is worth while, there is always a man, and the man is the explanation of the work. This is pre-eminently true of those writers whose charm lies less in distinctively intellectual qualities than in temperament, atmosphere, humor-writers of the quality of Steele, Goldsmith, Lamb, Irving. It is not only, therefore, a pleasure to recall Mr. Warner; it is a necessity if one would discover the secret of his charm, the source of his authority.

He was a New Englander by birth and by long residence, but he was also a man of the world in the true sense of the phrase; one whose ethical judgment had been broadened without being lowered; who had learned that truth, though often strenuously enforced, is never so convincing as when stated in terms of beauty; and to whom it had been revealed that to live naturally, sanely, and productively one must live humanly, with due regard to the earthly as well as to heavenly, with ease as well as earnestness of spirit, through play no less than through work, in the large resources of art, society, and humor, as well as with the ancient and well-tested rectitudes of the fathers.

The harmonious play of his whole nature, the breadth of his interests and the sanity of his spirit made Mr. Warner a delightful companion, and kept to the very end the freshness of his mind and the spontaneity of his humor; life never lost its savor for him, nor did his style part with its diffused but thoroughly individual humor. This latest collection of his papers, dealing with a wide range of subjects from the “Education of the Negro” to “Literature and the Stage,” with characteristic comments on “Truthfulness” and “The Pursuit of Happiness,” shows him at the end of his long and tireless career as a writer still deeply interested in contemporary events, responsive to the appeal of the questions of the hour, and sensitive to all things which affected the dignity and authority of literature. In his interests, his bearing, his relations to the public life of the country, no less than in his work, he held fast to the best traditions of literature, and he has taken his place among the representative American men of Letters.



If you examine a collection of prints of costumes of different generations, you are commonly amused by the ludicrous appearance of most of them, especially of those that are not familiar to you in your own decade. They are not only inappropriate and inconvenient to your eye, but they offend your taste. You cannot believe that they were ever thought beautiful and becoming. If your memory does not fail you, however, and you retain a little honesty of mind, you can recall the fact that a costume which seems to you ridiculous today had your warm approval ten years ago. You wonder, indeed, how you could ever have tolerated a costume which has not one graceful line, and has no more relation to the human figure than Mambrino's helmet had to a crown of glory. You cannot imagine how you ever approved the vast balloon skirt that gave your sweetheart the appearance of the great bell of Moscow, or that you yourself could have been complacent in a coat the tails of which reached your heels, and the buttons of which, a rudimentary survival, were between your shoulder-blades—you who are now devoted to a female figure that resembles an old-fashioned churn surmounted by an isosceles triangle.

These vagaries of taste, which disfigure or destroy correct proportions or hide deformities, are nowhere more evident than in the illustrations of works of fiction. The artist who collaborates with the contemporary novelist has a hard fate. If he is faithful to the fashions of the day, he earns the repute of artistic depravity in the eyes of the next generation. The novel may become a classic, because it represents human nature, or even the whimsicalities of a period; but the illustrations of the artist only provoke a smile, because he has represented merely the unessential and the fleeting. The interest in his work is archaeological, not artistic. The genius of the great portrait-painter may to some extent overcome the disadvantages of contemporary costume, but if the costume of his period is hideous and lacks the essential lines of beauty, his work is liable to need the apology of quaintness. The Greek artist and the Mediaeval painter, when the costumes were really picturesque and made us forget the lack of simplicity in a noble sumptuousness, had never this posthumous difficulty to contend with.

In the examination of costumes of different races and different ages, we are also struck by the fact that with primitive or isolated peoples costumes vary little from age to age, and fashion and the fashions are unrecognized, and a habit of dress which is dictated by climate, or has been proved to be comfortable, is adhered to from one generation to another; while nations that we call highly civilized, meaning commonly not only Occidental peoples, but peoples called progressive, are subject to the most frequent and violent changes of fashions, not in generations only, but in decades and years of a generation, as if the mass had no mind or taste of its own, but submitted to the irresponsible ukase of tailors and modistes, who are in alliance with enterprising manufacturers of novelties. In this higher civilization a costume which is artistic and becoming has no more chance of permanence than one which is ugly and inconvenient. It might be inferred that this higher civilization produces no better taste and discrimination, no more independent judgment, in dress than it does in literature. The vagaries in dress of the Western nations for a thousand years past, to go back no further, are certainly highly amusing, and would be humiliating to people who regarded taste and art as essentials of civilization. But when we speak of civilization, we cannot but notice that some of the great civilizations; the longest permanent and most notable for highest achievement in learning, science, art, or in the graces or comforts of life, the Egyptian, the Saracenic, the Chinese, were subject to no such vagaries in costume, but adhered to that which taste, climate, experience had determined to be the most useful and appropriate. And it is a singular comment upon our modern conceit that we make our own vagaries and changeableness, and not any fixed principles of art or of utility, the criterion of judgment, on other races and other times.

The more important result of the study of past fashions, in engravings and paintings, remains to be spoken of. It is that in all the illustrations, from the simplicity of Athens, through the artificiality of Louis XIV and the monstrosities of Elizabeth, down to the undescribed modistic inventions of the first McKinley, there is discoverable a radical and primitive law of beauty. We acknowledge it among the Greeks, we encounter it in one age and another. I mean a style of dress that is artistic as well as picturesque, that satisfies our love of beauty, that accords with the grace of the perfect human figure, and that gives as perfect satisfaction to the cultivated taste as a drawing by Raphael. While all the other illustrations of the human ingenuity in making the human race appear fantastic or ridiculous amuse us or offend our taste, —except the tailor fashion-plates of the week that is now,—these few exceptions, classic or modern, give us permanent delight, and are recognized as following the eternal law of beauty and utility. And we know, notwithstanding the temporary triumph of bad taste and the public lack of any taste, that there is a standard, artistic and imperishable.

The student of manners might find an interesting field in noting how, in our Occidental civilizations, fluctuations of opinions, of morals, and of literary style have been accompanied by more or less significant exhibitions of costumes. He will note in the Precieux of France and the Euphuist of England a corresponding effeminacy in dress; in the frank paganism of the French Revolution the affectation of Greek and Roman apparel, passing into the Directoire style in the Citizen and the Citizeness; in the Calvinistic cut of the Puritan of Geneva and of New England the grim severity of their theology and morals. These examples are interesting as showing an inclination to express an inner condition by the outward apparel, as the Quakers indicate an inward peace by an external drabness, and the American Indian a bellicose disposition by red and yellow paint; just as we express by red stripes our desire to kill men with artillery, or by yellow stripes to kill them with cavalry. It is not possible to say whether these external displays are relics of barbarism or are enduring necessities of human nature.

The fickleness of men in costume in a manner burlesques their shifty and uncertain taste in literature. A book or a certain fashion in letters will have a run like a garment, and, like that, will pass away before it waxes old. It seems incredible, as we look back over the literary history of the past three centuries only, what prevailing styles and moods of expression, affectations, and prettinesses, each in turn, have pleased reasonably cultivated people. What tedious and vapid things they read and liked to read! Think of the French, who had once had a Villon, intoxicating themselves with somnolent draughts of Richardson. But, then, the French could match the paste euphuisms of Lyly with the novels of Scudery. Every modern literature has been subject to these epidemics and diseases. It is needless to dwell upon them in detail. Since the great diffusion of printing, these literary crazes have been more frequent and of shorter duration. We need go back no further than a generation to find abundant examples of eccentricities of style and expression, of crazes over some author or some book, as unaccountable on principles of art as many of the fashions in social life.—The more violent the attack, the sooner it is over. Readers of middle age can recall the furor over Tupper, the extravagant expectations as to the brilliant essayist Gilfillan, the soon-extinguished hopes of the poet Alexander Smith. For the moment the world waited in the belief of the rising of new stars, and as suddenly realized that it had been deceived. Sometimes we like ruggedness, and again we like things made easy. Within a few years a distinguished Scotch clergyman made a fortune by diluting a paragraph written by Saint Paul. It is in our memory how at one time all the boys tried to write like Macaulay, and then like Carlyle, and then like Ruskin, and we have lived to see the day when all the girls would like to write like Heine.

In less than twenty years we have seen wonderful changes in public taste and in the efforts of writers to meet it or to create it. We saw the everlastingly revived conflict between realism and romanticism. We saw the realist run into the naturalist, the naturalist into the animalist, the psychologist into the sexualist, and the sudden reaction to romance, in the form of what is called the historic novel, the receipt for which can be prescribed by any competent pharmacist. The one essential in the ingredients is that the hero shall be mainly got out of one hole by dropping him into a deeper one, until—the proper serial length being attained—he is miraculously dropped out into daylight, and stands to receive the plaudits of a tenderhearted world, that is fond of nothing so much as of fighting.

The extraordinary vogue of certain recent stories is not so much to be wondered at when we consider the millions that have been added to the readers of English during the past twenty-five years. The wonder is that a new book does not sell more largely, or it would be a wonder if the ability to buy kept pace with the ability to read, and if discrimination had accompanied the appetite for reading. The critics term these successes of some recent fictions “crazes,” but they are really sustained by some desirable qualities—they are cleverly written, and they are for the moment undoubtedly entertaining. Some of them as undoubtedly appeal to innate vulgarity or to cultivated depravity. I will call no names, because that would be to indict the public taste. This recent phenomenon of sales of stories by the hundred thousand is not, however, wholly due to quality. Another element has come in since the publishers have awakened to the fact that literature can be treated like merchandise. To use their own phrase, they “handle” books as they would “handle” patent medicines, that is, the popular patent medicines that are desired because of the amount of alcohol they contain; indeed, they are sold along with dry-goods and fancy notions. I am not objecting to this great and wide distribution any more than I am to the haste of fruit-dealers to market their products before they decay. The wary critic will be very careful about dogmatizing over the nature and distribution of literary products. It is no certain sign that a book is good because it is popular, nor is it any more certain that it is good because it has a very limited sale. Yet we cannot help seeing that many of the books that are the subject of crazes utterly disappear in a very short time, while many others, approved by only a judicious few, continue in the market and slowly become standards, considered as good stock by the booksellers and continually in a limited demand.

The English essayists have spent a good deal of time lately in discussing the question whether it is possible to tell a good contemporary book from a bad one. Their hesitation is justified by a study of English criticism of new books in the quarterly, monthly, and weekly periodicals from the latter part of the eighteenth century to the last quarter of the nineteenth; or, to name a definite period, from the verse of the Lake poets, from Shelley and Byron, down to Tennyson, there is scarcely a poet who has attained world-wide assent to his position in the first or second rank who was not at the hands of the reviewers the subject of mockery and bitter detraction. To be original in any degree was to be damned. And there is scarcely one who was at first ranked as a great light during this period who is now known out of the biographical dictionary. Nothing in modern literature is more amazing than the bulk of English criticism in the last three-quarters of a century, so far as it concerned individual writers, both in poetry and prose. The literary rancor shown rose to the dignity almost of theological vituperation.

Is there any way to tell a good book from a bad one? Yes. As certainly as you can tell a good picture from a bad one, or a good egg from a bad one. Because there are hosts who do not discriminate as to the eggs or the butter they eat, it does not follow that a normal taste should not know the difference.

Because there is a highly artistic nation that welcomes the flavor of garlic in everything, and another which claims to be the most civilized in the world that cannot tell coffee from chicory, or because the ancient Chinese love rancid sesame oil, or the Esquimaux like spoiled blubber and tainted fish, it does not follow that there is not in the world a wholesome taste for things natural and pure.

It is clear that the critic of contemporary literature is quite as likely to be wrong as right. He is, for one thing, inevitably affected by the prevailing fashion of his little day. And, worse still, he is apt to make his own tastes and prejudices the standard of his judgment. His view is commonly provincial instead of cosmopolitan. In the English period just referred to it is easy to see that most of the critical opinion was determined by political or theological animosity and prejudice. The rule was for a Tory to hit a Whig or a Whig to hit a Tory, under whatever literary guise he appeared. If the new writer was not orthodox in the view of his political or theological critic, he was not to be tolerated as poet or historian, Dr. Johnson had said everything he could say against an author when he declared that he was a vile Whig. Macaulay, a Whig, always consulted his prejudices for his judgment, equally when he was reviewing Croker's Boswell or the impeachment of Warren Hastings. He hated Croker,—a hateful man, to be sure,—and when the latter published his edition of Boswell, Macaulay saw his opportunity, and exclaimed before he had looked at the book, as you will remember, “Now I will dust his jacket.” The standard of criticism does not lie with the individual in literature any more than it does in different periods as to fashions and manners. The world is pretty well agreed, and always has been, as to the qualities that make a gentleman. And yet there was a time when the vilest and perhaps the most contemptible man who ever occupied the English throne,—and that is saying a great deal,—George IV, was universally called the “First Gentleman of Europe.” The reproach might be somewhat lightened by the fact that George was a foreigner, but for the wider fact that no person of English stock has been on the throne since Saxon Harold, the chosen and imposed rulers of England having been French, Welsh, Scotch, and Dutch, many of them being guiltless of the English language, and many of them also of the English middle-class morality. The impartial old Wraxall, the memorialist of the times of George III, having described a noble as a gambler, a drunkard, a smuggler, an appropriator of public money, who always cheated his tradesmen, who was one and sometimes all of them together, and a profligate generally, commonly adds, “But he was a perfect gentleman.” And yet there has always been a standard that excludes George IV from the rank of gentleman, as it excludes Tupper from the rank of poet.

The standard of literary judgment, then, is not in the individual,—that is, in the taste and prejudice of the individual,—any more than it is in the immediate contemporary opinion, which is always in flux and reflux from one extreme to another; but it is in certain immutable principles and qualities which have been slowly evolved during the long historic periods of literary criticism. But how shall we ascertain what these principles are, so as to apply them to new circ*mstances and new creations, holding on to the essentials and disregarding contemporary tastes; prejudices, and appearances? We all admit that certain pieces of literature have become classic; by general consent there is no dispute about them. How they have become so we cannot exactly explain. Some say by a mysterious settling of universal opinion, the operation of which cannot be exactly defined. Others say that the highly developed critical judgment of a few persons, from time to time, has established forever what we agree to call masterpieces. But this discussion is immaterial, since these supreme examples of literary excellence exist in all kinds of composition,—poetry, fable, romance, ethical teaching, prophecy, interpretation, history, humor, satire, devotional flight into the spiritual and supernatural, everything in which the human mind has exercised itself,—from the days of the Egyptian moralist and the Old Testament annalist and poet down to our scientific age. These masterpieces exist from many periods and in many languages, and they all have qualities in common which have insured their persistence. To discover what these qualities are that have insured permanence and promise indefinite continuance is to have a means of judging with an approach to scientific accuracy our contemporary literature. There is no thing of beauty that does not conform to a law of order and beauty—poem, story, costume, picture, statue, all fall into an ascertainable law of art. Nothing of man's making is perfect, but any creation approximates perfection in the measure that it conforms to inevitable law.

To ascertain this law, and apply it, in art or in literature, to the changing conditions of our progressive life, is the business of the artist. It is the business of the critic to mark how the performance conforms to or departs from the law evolved and transmitted in the long-experience of the race. True criticism, then, is not a matter of caprice or of individual liking or disliking, nor of conformity to a prevailing and generally temporary popular judgment. Individual judgment may be very interesting and have its value, depending upon the capacity of the judge. It was my good fortune once to fall in with a person who had been moved, by I know not what inspiration, to project himself out of his safe local conditions into France, Greece, Italy, Cairo, and Jerusalem. He assured me that he had seen nothing anywhere in the wide world of nature and art to compare with the beauty of Nebraska.

What are the qualities common to all the masterpieces of literature, or, let us say, to those that have endured in spite of imperfections and local provincialisms?

First of all I should name simplicity, which includes lucidity of expression, the clear thought in fitting, luminous words. And this is true when the thought is profound and the subject is as complex as life itself. This quality is strikingly exhibited for us in Jowett's translation of Plato—which is as modern in feeling and phrase as anything done in Boston—in the naif and direct Herodotus, and, above all, in the King James vernacular translation of the Bible, which is the great text-book of all modern literature.

The second quality is knowledge of human nature. We can put up with the improbable in invention, because the improbable is always happening in life, but we cannot tolerate the so-called psychological juggling with the human mind, the perversion of the laws of the mind, the forcing of character to fit the eccentricities of plot. Whatever excursions the writer makes in fancy, we require fundamental consistency with human nature. And this is the reason why psychological studies of the abnormal, or biographies of criminal lunatics, are only interesting to pathologists and never become classics in literature.

A third quality common to all masterpieces is what we call charm, a matter more or less of style, and which may be defined as the agreeable personality of the writer. This is indispensable. It is this personality which gives the final value to every work of art as well as of literature. It is not enough to copy nature or to copy, even accurately, the incidents of life. Only by digestion and transmutation through personality does any work attain the dignity of art. The great works of architecture, even, which are somewhat determined by mathematical rule, owe their charm to the personal genius of their creators. For this reason our imitations of Greek architecture are commonly failures. To speak technically, the masterpiece of literature is characterized by the same knowledge of proportion and perspective as the masterpiece in art.

If there is a standard of literary excellence, as there is a law of beauty—and it seems to me that to doubt this in the intellectual world is to doubt the prevalence of order that exists in the natural—it is certainly possible to ascertain whether a new production conforms, and how far it conforms, to the universally accepted canons of art. To work by this rule in literary criticism is to substitute something definite for the individual tastes, moods, and local bias of the critic. It is true that the vast body of that which we read is ephemeral, and justifies its existence by its obvious use for information, recreation, and entertainment. But to permit the impression to prevail that an unenlightened popular preference for a book, however many may hold it, is to be taken as a measure of its excellence, is like claiming that a debased Austrian coin, because it circulates, is as good as a gold stater of Alexander. The case is infinitely worse than this; for a slovenly literature, unrebuked and uncorrected, begets slovenly thought and debases our entire intellectual life.

It should be remembered, however, that the creative faculty in man has not ceased, nor has puny man drawn all there is to be drawn out of the eternal wisdom. We are probably only in the beginning of our evolution, and something new may always be expected, that is, new and fresh applications of universal law. The critic of literature needs to be in an expectant and receptive frame of mind. Many critics approach a book with hostile intent, and seem to fancy that their business is to look for what is bad in it, and not for what is good. It seems to me that the first duty of the critic is to try to understand the author, to give him a fair chance by coming to his perusal with an open mind. Whatever book you read, or sermon or lecture you hear, give yourself for the time absolutely to its influence. This is just to the author, fair to the public, and, above all, valuable to the intellectual sanity of the critic himself. It is a very bad thing for the memory and the judgment to get into a habit of reading carelessly or listening with distracted attention. I know of nothing so harmful to the strength of the mind as this habit. There is a valuable mental training in closely following a discourse that is valueless in itself. After the reader has unreservedly surrendered himself to the influence of the book, and let his mind settle, as we say, and resume its own judgment, he is in a position to look at it objectively and to compare it with other facts of life and of literature dispassionately. He can then compare it as to form, substance, tone, with the enduring literature that has come down to us from all the ages. It is a phenomenon known to all of us that we may for the moment be carried away by a book which upon cool reflection we find is false in ethics and weak in construction. We find this because we have standards outside ourselves.

I am not concerned to define here what is meant by literature. A great mass of it has been accumulated in the progress of mankind, and, fortunately for different wants and temperaments, it is as varied as the various minds that produced it. The main thing to be considered is that this great stream of thought is the highest achievement and the most valuable possession of mankind. It is not only that literature is the source of inspiration to youth and the solace of age, but it is what a national language is to a nation, the highest expression of its being. Whatever we acquire of science, of art, in discovery, in the application of natural laws in industries, is an enlargement of our horizon, and a contribution to the highest needs of man, his intellectual life. The controversy between the claims of the practical life and the intellectual is as idle as the so-called conflict between science and religion. And the highest and final expression of this life of man, his thought, his emotion, his feeling, his aspiration, whatever you choose to call it, is in the enduring literature he creates. He certainly misses half his opportunity on this planet who considers only the physical or what is called the practical. He is a man only half developed. I can conceive no more dreary existence than that of a man who is past the period of business activity, and who cannot, for his entertainment, his happiness, draw upon the great reservoir of literature. For what did I come into this world if I am to be like a stake planted in a fence, and not like a tree visited by all the winds of heaven and the birds of the air?

Those who concern themselves with the printed matter in books and periodicals are often in despair over the volume of it, and their actual inability to keep up with current literature. They need not worry. If all that appears in books, under the pressure of publishers and the ambition of experimenters in writing, were uniformly excellent, no reader would be under any more obligation to read it than he is to see every individual flower and blossoming shrub. Specimens of the varieties would suffice. But a vast proportion of it is the product of immature minds, and of a yearning for experience rather than a knowledge of life. There is no more obligation on the part of the person who would be well informed and cultivated to read all this than there is to read all the colored incidents, personal gossip, accidents, and crimes repeated daily, with sameness of effect, in the newspapers, some of the most widely circulated of which are a composite of the police gazette and the comic almanac. A great deal of the reading done is mere contagion, one form or another of communicated grippe, and it is consoling and even surprising to know that if you escape the run of it for a season, you have lost nothing appreciable. Some people, it has been often said, make it a rule never to read a book until it is from one to five years old, By this simple device they escape the necessity of reading most of them, but this is only a part of their gain. Considering the fact that the world is full of books of the highest value for cultivation, entertainment, and information, which the utmost leisure we can spare from other pressing avocations does not suffice to give us knowledge of, it does seem to be little less than a moral and intellectual sin to flounder about blindly in the flood of new publications. I am speaking, of course, of the general mass of readers, and not of the specialists who must follow their subjects with ceaseless inquisition. But for most of us who belong to the still comparatively few who, really read books, the main object of life is not to keep up with the printing-press, any more than it is the main object of sensible people to follow all the extremes and whims of fashion in dress. When a fashion in literature has passed, we are surprised that it should ever have seemed worth the trouble of studying or imitating. When the special craze has passed, we notice another thing, and that is that the author, not being of the first rank or of the second, has generally contributed to the world all that he has to give in one book, and our time has been wasted on his other books; and also that in a special kind of writing in a given period—let us say, for example, the historico-romantic—we perceive that it all has a common character, is constructed on the same lines of adventure and with a prevailing type of hero and heroine, according to the pattern set by the first one or two stories of the sort which became popular, and we see its more or less mechanical construction, and how easily it degenerates into commercial book-making. Now while some of this writing has an individual flavor that makes it entertaining and profitable in this way, we may be excused from attempting to follow it all merely because it happens to be talked about for the moment, and generally talked about in a very undiscriminating manner. We need not in any company be ashamed if we have not read it all, especially if we are ashamed that, considering the time at our disposal, we have not made the acquaintance of the great and small masterpieces of literature. It is said that the fashion of this world passeth away, and so does the mere fashion in literature, the fashion that does not follow the eternal law of beauty and symmetry, and contribute to the intellectual and spiritual part of man. Otherwise it is only a waiting in a material existence, like the lovers, in the words of the Arabian story-teller, “till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies, he who layeth waste the palaces and peopleth the tombs.”

Without special anxiety, then, to keep pace with all the ephemeral in literature, lest we should miss for the moment something that is permanent, we can rest content in the vast accumulation of the tried and genuine that the ages have given us. Anything that really belongs to literature today we shall certainly find awaiting us tomorrow.

The better part of the life of man is in and by the imagination. This is not generally believed, because it is not generally believed that the chief end of man is the accumulation of intellectual and spiritual material. Hence it is that what is called a practical education is set above the mere enlargement and enrichment of the mind; and the possession of the material is valued, and the intellectual life is undervalued. But it should be remembered that the best preparation for a practical and useful life is in the high development of the powers of the mind, and that, commonly, by a culture that is not considered practical. The notable fact about the group of great parliamentary orators in the days of George III is the exhibition of their intellectual resources in the entire world of letters, the classics, and ancient and modern history. Yet all of them owed their development to a strictly classical training in the schools. And most of them had not only the gift of the imagination necessary to great eloquence, but also were so mentally disciplined by the classics that they handled the practical questions upon which they legislated with clearness and precision. The great masters of finance were the classically trained orators William Pitt and Charles James Fox.

In fine, to return to our knowledge of the short life of fashions that are for the moment striking, why should we waste precious time in chasing meteoric appearances, when we can be warmed and invigorated in the sunshine of the great literatures?


By Charles Dudley Warner

Our theme for the hour is the American Newspaper. It is a subject in which everybody is interested, and about which it is not polite to say that anybody is not well informed; for, although there are scattered through the land many persons, I am sorry to say, unable to pay for a newspaper, I have never yet heard of anybody unable to edit one.

The topic has many points of view, and invites various study and comment. In our limited time we must select one only. We have heard a great deal about the power, the opportunity, the duty, the “mission,” of the press. The time has come for a more philosophical treatment of it, for an inquiry into its relations to our complex civilization, for some ethical account of it as one of the developments of our day, and for some discussion of the effect it is producing, and likely to produce, on the education of the people. Has the time come, or is it near at hand, when we can point to a person who is alert, superficial, ready and shallow, self-confident and half-informed, and say, “There is a product of the American newspaper”? The newspaper is not a willful creation, nor an isolated phenomenon, but the legitimate outcome of our age, as much as our system of popular education. And I trust that some competent observer will make, perhaps for this association, a philosophical study of it. My task here is a much humbler one. I have thought that it may not be unprofitable to treat the newspaper from a practical and even somewhat mechanical point of view.

The newspaper is a private enterprise. Its object is to make money for its owner. Whatever motive may be given out for starting a newspaper, expectation of profit by it is the real one, whether the newspaper is religious, political, scientific, or literary. The exceptional cases of newspapers devoted to ideas or “causes” without regard to profit are so few as not to affect the rule. Commonly, the cause, the sect, the party, the trade, the delusion, the idea, gets its newspaper, its organ, its advocate, only when some individual thinks he can see a pecuniary return in establishing it.

This motive is not lower than that which leads people into any other occupation or profession. To make a living, and to have a career, is the original incentive in all cases. Even in purely philanthropical enterprises the driving-wheel that keeps them in motion for any length of time is the salary paid the working members. So powerful is this incentive that sometimes the wheel will continue to turn round when there is no grist to grind. It sometimes happens that the friction of the philanthropic machinery is so great that but very little power is transmitted to the object for which the machinery was made. I knew a devoted agent of the American Colonization Society, who, for several years, collected in Connecticut just enough, for the cause, to buy his clothes, and pay his board at a good hotel.

It is scarcely necessary to say, except to prevent a possible misapprehension, that the editor who has no high ideals, no intention of benefiting his fellow-men by his newspaper, and uses it unscrupulously as a means of money-making only, sinks to the level of the physician and the lawyer who have no higher conception of their callings than that they offer opportunities for getting money by appeals to credulity, and by assisting in evasions of the law.

If the excellence of a newspaper is not always measured by its profitableness, it is generally true that, if it does not pay its owner, it is valueless to the public. Not all newspapers which make money are good, for some succeed by catering to the lowest tastes of respectable people, and to the prejudice, ignorance, and passion of the lowest class; but, as a rule, the successful journal pecuniarily is the best journal. The reasons for this are on the surface. The impecunious newspaper cannot give its readers promptly the news, nor able discussion of the news, and, still worse, it cannot be independent. The political journal that relies for support upon drippings of party favor or patronage, the general newspaper that finds it necessary to existence to manipulate stock reports, the religious weekly that draws precarious support from puffing doubtful enterprises, the literary paper that depends upon the approval of publishers, are poor affairs, and, in the long run or short run, come to grief. Some newspapers do succeed by sensationalism, as some preachers do; by a kind of quackery, as some doctors do; by trimming and shifting to any momentary popular prejudice, as some politicians do; by becoming the paid advocate of a personal ambition or a corporate enterprise, as some lawyers do: but the newspaper only becomes a real power when it is able, on the basis of pecuniary independence, to free itself from all such entanglements. An editor who stands with hat in hand has the respect accorded to any other beggar.

The recognition of the fact that the newspaper is a private and purely business enterprise will help to define the mutual relations of the editor and the public. His claim upon the public is exactly that of any manufacturer or dealer. It is that of the man who makes cloth, or the grocer who opens a shop—neither has a right to complain if the public does not buy of him. If the buyer does not like a cloth half shoddy, or coffee half-chicory, he will go elsewhere. If the subscriber does not like one newspaper, he takes another, or none. The appeal for newspaper support on the ground that such a journal ought to be sustained by an enlightened community, or on any other ground than that it is a good article that people want,—or would want if they knew its value,—is purely childish in this age of the world. If any person wants to start a periodical devoted to decorated teapots, with the noble view of inducing the people to live up to his idea of a teapot, very good; but he has no right to complain if he fails.

On the other hand, the public has no rights in the newspaper except what it pays for; even the “old subscriber” has none, except to drop the paper if it ceases to please him. The notion that the subscriber has a right to interfere in the conduct of the paper, or the reader to direct its opinions, is based on a misconception of what the newspaper is. The claim of the public to have its communications printed in the paper is equally baseless. Whether they shall be printed or not rests in the discretion of the editor, having reference to his own private interest, and to his apprehension of the public good. Nor is he bound to give any reason for his refusal. It is purely in his discretion whether he will admit a reply to any thing that has appeared in his columns. No one has a right to demand it. Courtesy and policy may grant it; but the right to it does not exist. If any one is injured, he may seek his remedy at law; and I should like to see the law of libel such and so administered that any person injured by a libel in the newspaper, as well as by slander out of it, could be sure of prompt redress. While the subscribes acquires no right to dictate to the newspaper, we can imagine an extreme case when he should have his money back which had been paid in advance, if the newspaper totally changed its character. If he had contracted with a dealer to supply him with hard coal during the winter, he might have a remedy if the dealer delivered only charcoal in the coldest weather; and so if he paid for a Roman Catholic journal which suddenly became an organ of the spiritists.

The advertiser acquires no more rights in the newspaper than the subscriber. He is entitled to use the space for which he pays by the insertion of such material as is approved by the editor. He gains no interest in any other part of the paper, and has no more claim to any space in the editorial columns, than any other one of the public. To give him such space would be unbusiness-like, and the extension of a preference which would be unjust to the rest of the public. Nothing more quickly destroys the character of a journal, begets distrust of it, and so reduces its value, than the well-founded suspicion that its editorial columns are the property of advertisers. Even a religious journal will, after a while, be injured by this.

Yet it must be confessed that here is one of the greatest difficulties of modern journalism. The newspaper must be cheap. It is, considering the immense cost to produce it, the cheapest product ever offered to man. Most newspapers cost more than they sell for; they could not live by subscriptions; for any profits, they certainly depend upon advertisem*nts. The advertisem*nts depend upon the circulation; the circulation is likely to dwindle if too much space is occupied by advertisem*nts, or if it is evident that the paper belongs to its favored advertisers. The counting-room desires to conciliate the advertisers; the editor looks to making a paper satisfactory to his readers. Between this see-saw of the necessary subscriber and the necessary advertiser, a good many newspapers go down. This difficulty would be measurably removed by the admission of the truth that the newspaper is a strictly business enterprise, depending for success upon a 'quid pro quo' between all parties connected with it, and upon integrity in its management.

Akin to the false notion that the newspaper is a sort of open channel that the public may use as it chooses, is the conception of it as a charitable institution. The newspaper, which is the property of a private person as much as a drug-shop is, is expected to perform for nothing services which would be asked of no other private person. There is scarcely a charitable enterprise to which it is not asked to contribute of its space, which is money, ten times more than other persons in the community, who are ten times as able as the owner of the newspaper, contribute. The journal is considered “mean” if it will not surrender its columns freely to notices and announcements of this sort. If a manager has a new hen-coop or a new singer he wishes to introduce to the public, he comes to the newspaper, expecting to have his enterprise extolled for nothing, and probably never thinks that it would be just as proper for him to go to one of the regular advertisers in the paper and ask him to give up his space. Anything, from a church picnic to a brass-band concert for the benefit of the widow of the triangles, asks the newspaper to contribute. The party in politics, whose principles the editor advocates, has no doubt of its rightful claim upon him, not only upon the editorial columns, but upon the whole newspaper. It asks without hesitation that the newspaper should take up its valuable space by printing hundreds and often thousands of dollars' worth of political announcements in the course of a protracted campaign, when it never would think of getting its halls, its speakers, and its brass bands, free of expense. Churches, as well as parties, expect this sort of charity. I have known rich churches, to whose members it was a convenience to have their Sunday and other services announced, withdraw the announcements when the editor declined any longer to contribute a weekly fifty-cents' worth of space. No private persons contribute so much to charity, in proportion to ability, as the newspaper. Perhaps it will get credit for this in the next world: it certainly never does in this.

The chief function of the newspaper is to collect and print the news. Upon the kind of news that should be gathered and published, we shall remark farther on. The second function is to elucidate the news, and comment on it, and show its relations. A third function is to furnish reading-matter to the general public.

Nothing is so difficult for the manager as to know what news is: the instinct for it is a sort of sixth sense. To discern out of the mass of materials collected not only what is most likely to interest the public, but what phase and aspect of it will attract most attention, and the relative importance of it; to tell the day before or at midnight what the world will be talking about in the morning, and what it will want the fullest details of, and to meet that want in advance,—requires a peculiar talent. There is always some topic on which the public wants instant information. It is easy enough when the news is developed, and everybody is discussing it, for the editor to fall in; but the success of the news printed depends upon a pre-apprehension of all this. Some papers, which nevertheless print all the news, are always a day behind, do not appreciate the popular drift till it has gone to something else, and err as much by clinging to a subject after it is dead as by not taking it up before it was fairly born. The public craves eagerly for only one thing at a time, and soon wearies of that; and it is to the newspaper's profit to seize the exact point of a debate, the thrilling moment of an accident, the pith of an important discourse; to throw itself into it as if life depended on it, and for the hour to flood the popular curiosity with it as an engine deluges a fire.

Scarcely less important than promptly seizing and printing the news is the attractive arrangement of it, its effective presentation to the eye. Two papers may have exactly the same important intelligence, identically the same despatches: the one will be called bright, attractive, “newsy”; the other, dull and stupid.

We have said nothing yet about that, which, to most people, is the most important aspect of the newspaper,—the editor's responsibility to the public for its contents. It is sufficient briefly to say here, that it is exactly the responsibility of every other person in society,—the full responsibility of his opportunity. He has voluntarily taken a position in which he can do a great deal of good or a great deal of evil, and he, should be held and judged by his opportunity: it is greater than that of the preacher, the teacher, the congressman, the physician. He occupies the loftiest pulpit; he is in his teacher's desk seven days in the week; his voice can be heard farther than that of the most lusty fog-horn politician; and often, I am sorry to say, his columns outshine the shelves of the druggist in display of proprietary medicines. Nothing else ever invented has the public attention as the newspaper has, or is an influence so constant and universal. It is this large opportunity that has given the impression that the newspaper is a public rather than a private enterprise.

It was a nebulous but suggestive remark that the newspaper occupies the borderland between literature and common sense. Literature it certainly is not, and in the popular apprehension it seems often too erratic and variable to be credited with the balance-wheel of sense; but it must have something of the charm of the one, and the steadiness and sagacity of the other, or it will fail to please. The model editor, I believe, has yet to appear. Notwithstanding the traditional reputation of certain editors in the past, they could not be called great editors by our standards; for the elements of modern journalism did not exist in their time. The old newspaper was a broadside of stale news, with a moral essay attached. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin, with our facilities, would have been very near the ideal editor. There was nothing he did not wish to know; and no one excelled him in the ability to communicate what he found out to the average mind. He came as near as anybody ever did to marrying common sense to literature: he had it in him to make it sufficient for journalistic purposes. He was what somebody said Carlyle was, and what the American editor ought to be,—a vernacular man.

The assertion has been made recently, publicly, and with evidence adduced, that the American newspaper is the best in the world. It is like the assertion that the American government is the best in the world; no doubt it is, for the American people.

Judged by broad standards, it may safely be admitted that the American newspaper is susceptible of some improvement, and that it has something to learn from the journals of other nations. We shall be better employed in correcting its weaknesses than in complacently contemplating its excellences.

Let us examine it in its three departments already named,—its news, editorials, and miscellaneous reading-matter.

In particularity and comprehensiveness of news-collecting, it may be admitted that the American newspapers for a time led the world. I mean in the picking-up of local intelligence, and the use of the telegraph to make it general. And with this arose the odd notion that news is made important by the mere fact of its rapid transmission over the wire. The English journals followed, speedily overtook, and some of the wealthier ones perhaps surpassed, the American in the use of the telegraph, and in the presentation of some sorts of local news; not of casualties, and small city and neighborhood events, and social gossip (until very recently), but certainly in the business of the law courts, and the crimes and mishaps that come within police and legal supervision. The leading papers of the German press, though strong in correspondence and in discussion of affairs, are far less comprehensive in their news than the American or the English. The French journals, we are accustomed to say, are not newspapers at all. And this is true as we use the word. Until recently, nothing has been of importance to the Frenchman except himself; and what happened outside of France, not directly affecting his glory, his profit, or his pleasure, did not interest him: hence, one could nowhere so securely intrench himself against the news of the world as behind the barricade of the Paris journals. But let us not make a mistake in this matter. We may have more to learn from the Paris journals than from any others. If they do not give what we call news—local news, events, casualties, the happenings of the day,—they do give ideas, opinions; they do discuss politics, the social drift; they give the intellectual ferment of Paris; they supply the material that Paris likes to talk over, the badinage of the boulevard, the wit of the salon, the sensation of the stage, the new movement in literature and in politics. This may be important, or it may be trivial: it is commonly more interesting than much of that which we call news.

Our very facility and enterprise in news-gathering have overwhelmed our newspapers, and it may be remarked that editorial discrimination has not kept pace with the facilities. We are overpowered with a mass of undigested intelligence, collected for the mast part without regard to value. The force of the newspaper is expended in extending these facilities, with little regard to discriminating selection. The burden is already too heavy for the newspaper, and wearisome to the public.

The publication of the news is the most important function of the paper. How is it gathered? We must confess that it is gathered very much by chance. A drag-net is thrown out, and whatever comes is taken. An examination into the process of collecting shows what sort of news we are likely to get, and that nine-tenths of that printed is collected without much intelligence exercised in selection. The alliance of the associated press with the telegraph company is a fruitful source of news of an inferior quality. Of course, it is for the interest of the telegraph company to swell the volume to be transmitted. It is impossible for the associated press to have an agent in every place to which the telegraph penetrates: therefore the telegraphic operators often act as its purveyors. It is for their interest to send something; and their judgment of what is important is not only biased, but is formed by purely local standards. Our news, therefore, is largely set in motion by telegraphic operators, by agents trained to regard only the accidental, the startling, the abnormal, as news; it is picked up by sharp prowlers about town, whose pay depends upon finding something, who are looking for something spicy and sensational, or which may be dressed up and exaggerated to satisfy an appetite for novelty and high flavor, and who regard casualties as the chief news. Our newspapers every day are loaded with accidents, casualties, and crimes concerning people of whom we never heard before and never shall hear again, the reading of which is of no earthly use to any human being.

What is news? What is it that an intelligent public should care to hear of and talk about? Run your eye down the columns of your journal. There was a drunken squabble last night in a New York groggery; there is a petty but carefully elaborated village scandal about a foolish girl; a woman accidentally dropped her baby out of a fourth-story window in Maine; in Connecticut, a wife, by mistake, got into the same railway train with another woman's husband; a child fell into a well in New Jersey; there is a column about a peripatetic horse-race, which exhibits, like a circus, from city to city; a laborer in a remote town in Pennsylvania had a sunstroke; there is an edifying dying speech of a murderer, the love-letter of a suicide, the set-to of a couple of congressmen; and there are columns about a gigantic war of half a dozen politicians over the appointment of a sugar-gauger. Granted that this pabulum is desired by the reader, why not save the expense of transmission by having several columns of it stereotyped, to be reproduced at proper intervals? With the date changed, it would always, have its original value, and perfectly satisfy the demand, if a demand exists, for this sort of news.

This is not, as you see, a description of your journal: it is a description of only one portion of it. It is a complex and wonderful creation. Every morning it is a mirror of the world, more or less distorted and imperfect, but such a mirror as it never had held up to it before. But consider how much space is taken up with mere trivialities and vulgarities under the name of news. And this evil is likely to continue and increase until news-gatherers learn that more important than the reports of accidents and casualties is the intelligence of opinions and thoughts, the moral and intellectual movements of modern life. A horrible assassination in India is instantly telegraphed; but the progress of such a vast movement as that of the Wahabee revival in Islam, which may change the destiny of great provinces, never gets itself put upon the wires. We hear promptly of a landslide in Switzerland, but only very slowly of a political agitation that is changing the constitution of the republic. It should be said, however, that the daily newspaper is not alone responsible for this: it is what the age and the community where it is published make it. So far as I have observed, the majority of the readers in America peruses eagerly three columns about a mill between an English and a naturalized American prize-fighter, but will only glance at a column report of a debate in the English parliament which involves a radical change in the whole policy of England; and devours a page about the Chantilly races, while it ignores a paragraph concerning the suppression of the Jesuit schools.

Our newspapers are overwhelmed with material that is of no importance. The obvious remedy for this would be more intelligent direction in the collection of news, and more careful sifting and supervision of it when gathered. It becomes every day more apparent to every manager that such discrimination is more necessary. There is no limit to the various intelligence and gossip that our complex life offers—no paper is big enough to contain it; no reader has time enough to read it. And the journal must cease to be a sort of waste-basket at the end of a telegraph wire, into which any reporter, telegraph operator, or gossip-monger can dump whatever he pleases. We must get rid of the superstition that value is given to an unimportant “item” by sending it a thousand miles over a wire.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the American newspaper, especially of the country weekly, is its enormous development of local and neighborhood news. It is of recent date. Horace Greeley used to advise the country editors to give small space to the general news of the world, but to cultivate assiduously the home field, to glean every possible detail of private life in the circuit of the county, and print it. The advice was shrewd for a metropolitan editor, and it was not without its profit to the country editor. It was founded on a deep knowledge of human nature; namely, upon the fact that people read most eagerly that which they already know, if it is about themselves or their neighbors, if it is a report of something they have been concerned in, a lecture they have heard, a fair, or festival, or wedding, or funeral, or barn-raising they have attended. The result is column after column of short paragraphs of gossip and trivialities, chips, chips, chips. Mr. Sales is contemplating erecting a new counter in his store; his rival opposite has a new sign; Miss Bumps of Gath is visiting her cousin, Miss Smith of Bozrah; the sheriff has painted his fence; Farmer Brown has lost his cow; the eminent member from Neopolis has put an ell on one end of his mansion, and a mortgage on the other.

On the face of it nothing is so vapid and profitless as column after column of this reading. These “items” have very little interest, except to those who already know the facts; but those concerned like to see them in print, and take the newspaper on that account. This sort of inanity takes the place of reading-matter that might be of benefit, and its effect must be to belittle and contract the mind. But this is not the most serious objection to the publication of these worthless details. It cultivates self-consciousness in the community, and love of notoriety; it develops vanity and self-importance, and elevates the trivial in life above the essential.

And this brings me to speak of the mania in this age, and especially in America, for notoriety in social life as well as in politics. The newspapers are the vehicle of it, sometimes the occasion, but not the cause. The newspaper may have fostered—it has not created—this hunger for publicity. Almost everybody talks about the violation of decency and the sanctity of private life by the newspaper in the publication of personalities and the gossip of society; and the very people who make these strictures are often those who regard the paper as without enterprise and dull, if it does not report in detail their weddings, their balls and parties, the distinguished persons present, the dress of the ladies, the sumptuousness of the entertainment, if it does not celebrate their church services and festivities, their social meetings, their new house, their distinguished arrivals at this or that watering-place. I believe every newspaper manager will bear me out in saying that there is a constant pressure on him to print much more of such private matter than his judgment and taste permit or approve, and that the gossip which is brought to his notice, with the hope that he will violate the sensitiveness of social life by printing it, is far away larger in amount than all that he publishes.

To return for a moment to the subject of general news. The characteristic of our modern civilization is sensitiveness, or, as the doctors say, nervousness. Perhaps the philanthropist would term it sympathy. No doubt an exciting cause of it is the adaptation of electricity to the transmission of facts and ideas. The telegraph, we say, has put us in sympathy with all the world. And we reckon this enlargement of nerve contact somehow a gain. Our bared nerves are played upon by a thousand wires. Nature, no doubt, has a method of hardening or deadening them to these shocks; but nevertheless, every person who reads is a focus for the excitements, the ills, the troubles, of all the world. In addition to his local pleasures and annoyances, he is in a manner compelled to be a sharer in the universal uneasiness. It might be worth while to inquire what effect this exciting accumulation of the news of the world upon an individual or a community has upon happiness and upon character. Is the New England man any better able to bear or deal with his extraordinary climate by the daily knowledge of the weather all over the globe? Is a man happier, or improved in character, by the woful tale of a world's distress and apprehension that greets him every morning at breakfast? Knowledge, we know, increases sorrow; but I suppose the offset to that is, that strength only comes through suffering. But this is a digression.

Not second in importance to any department of the journal is the reporting; that is, the special reporting as distinguished from the more general news-gathering. I mean the reports of proceedings in Congress, in conventions, assemblies, and conferences, public conversations, lectures, sermons, investigations, law trials, and occurrences of all sorts that rise into general importance. These reports are the basis of our knowledge and opinions. If they are false or exaggerated, we are ignorant of what is taking place, and misled. It is of infinitely more importance that they should be absolutely trustworthy than that the editorial comments should be sound and wise. If the reports on affairs can be depended on, the public can form its own opinion, and act intelligently. And; if the public has a right to demand anything of a newspaper, it is that its reports of what occurs shall be faithfully accurate, unprejudiced, and colorless. They ought not, to be editorials, or the vehicles of personal opinion and feeling. The interpretation of, the facts they give should be left to the editor and the public. There should be a sharp line drawn between the report and the editorial.

I am inclined to think that the reporting department is the weakest in the American newspaper, and that there is just ground for the admitted public distrust of it. Too often, if a person would know what has taken place in a given case, he must read the reports in half a dozen journals, then strike a general average of probabilities, allowing for the personal equation, and then—suspend his judgment. Of course, there is much excellent reporting, and there are many able men engaged in it who reflect the highest honor upon their occupation. And the press of no other country shows more occasional brilliant feats in reporting than ours: these are on occasions when the newspapers make special efforts. Take the last two national party conventions. The fullness, the accuracy, the vividness, with which their proceedings were reported in the leading journals, were marvelous triumphs of knowledge, skill, and expense. The conventions were so photographed by hundreds of pens, that the public outside saw them almost as distinctly as the crowd in attendance. This result was attained because the editors determined that it should be, sent able men to report, and demanded the best work. But take an opposite and a daily illustration of reporting, that of the debates and proceedings in Congress. I do not refer to the specials of various journals which are good, bad, or indifferent, as the case may be, and commonly colored by partisan considerations, but the regular synopsis sent to the country at large. Now, for some years it has been inadequate, frequently unintelligible, often grossly misleading, failing wholly to give the real spirit and meaning of the most important discussions; and it is as dry as chips besides. To be both stupid and inaccurate is the unpardonable sin in journalism. Contrast these reports with the lively and faithful pictures of the French Assembly which are served to the Paris papers.

Before speaking of the reasons for the public distrust in reports, it is proper to put in one qualification. The public itself, and not the newspapers, is the great factory of baseless rumors and untruths. Although the newspaper unavoidably gives currency to some of these, it is the great corrector of popular rumors. Concerning any event, a hundred different versions and conflicting accounts are instantly set afloat. These would run on, and become settled but unfounded beliefs, as private whispered scandals do run, if the newspaper did not intervene. It is the business of the newspaper, on every occurrence of moment, to chase down the rumors, and to find out the facts and print them, and set the public mind at rest. The newspaper publishes them under a sense of responsibility for its statements. It is not by any means always correct; but I know that it is the aim of most newspapers to discharge this important public function faithfully. When this country had few newspapers it was ten times more the prey of false reports and delusions than it is now.

Reporting requires as high ability as editorial writing; perhaps of a different kind, though in the history of American journalism the best reporters have often become the best editors. Talent of this kind must be adequately paid; and it happens that in America the reporting field is so vast that few journals can afford to make the reporting department correspond in ability to the editorial, and I doubt if the importance of doing so is yet fully realized. An intelligent and representative synopsis of a lecture or other public performance is rare. The ability to grasp a speaker's meaning, or to follow a long discourse, and reproduce either in spirit, and fairly, in a short space, is not common. When the public which has been present reads the inaccurate report, it loses confidence in the newspaper.

Its confidence is again undermined when it learns that an “interview” which it has read with interest was manufactured; that the report of the movements and sayings of a distinguished stranger was a pure piece of ingenious invention; that a thrilling adventure alongshore, or in a balloon, or in a horse-car, was what is called a sensational article, concocted by some brilliant genius, and spun out by the yard according to his necessities. These reports are entertaining, and often more readable than anything else in the newspaper; and, if they were put into a department with an appropriate heading, the public would be less suspicious that all the news in the journal was colored and heightened by a lively imagination.

Intelligent and honest reporting of whatever interests the public is the sound basis of all journalism. And yet so careless have editors been of all this that a reporter has been sent to attend the sessions of a philological convention who had not the least linguistic knowledge, having always been employed on marine disasters. Another reporter, who was assigned to inform the public of the results of a difficult archeological investigation, frankly confessed his inability to understand what was going on; for his ordinary business, he said, was cattle. A story is told of a metropolitan journal, which illustrates another difficulty the public has in keeping up its confidence in newspaper infallibility. It may not be true for history, but answers for an illustration. The annual November meteors were expected on a certain night. The journal prepared an elaborate article, several columns in length, on meteoric displays in general, and on the display of that night in particular, giving in detail the appearance of the heavens from the metropolitan roofs in various parts of the city, the shooting of the meteors amid the blazing constellations, the size and times of flight of the fiery bodies; in short, a most vivid and scientific account of the lofty fireworks. Unfortunately the night was cloudy. The article was in type and ready; but the clouds would not break. The last moment for going to press arrived: there was a probability that the clouds would lift before daylight and the manager took the risk. The article that appeared was very interesting; but its scientific value was impaired by the fact that the heavens were obscured the whole night, and the meteors, if any arrived, were invisible. The reasonable excuse of the editor would be that he could not control the elements.

If the reporting department needs strengthening and reduction to order in the American journal, we may also query whether the department of correspondence sustains the boast that the American, newspaper is the best in the world. We have a good deal of excellent correspondence, both foreign and domestic; and our “specials” have won distinction, at least for liveliness and enterprise. I cannot dwell upon this feature; but I suggest a comparison with the correspondence of some of the German, and with that especially of the London journals, from the various capitals of Europe, and from the occasional seats of war. How surpassing able much of it is!

How full of information, of philosophic observation, of accurate knowledge! It appears to be written by men of trained intellect and of experience,—educated men of the world, who, by reason of their position and character, have access to the highest sources of information.

The editorials of our journals seem to me better than formerly, improved in tone, in courtesy, in self-respect,—though you may not have to go far or search long for the provincial note and the easy grace of the frontier,—and they are better written. This is because the newspaper has become more profitable, and is able to pay for talent, and has attracted to it educated young men. There is a sort of editorial ability, of facility, of force, that can only be acquired by practice and in the newspaper office: no school can ever teach it; but the young editor who has a broad basis of general education, of information in history, political economy, the classics, and polite literature, has an immense advantage over the man who has merely practical experience. For the editorial, if it is to hold its place, must be more and more the product of information, culture, and reflection, as well as of sagacity and alertness. Ignorance of foreign affairs, and of economic science, the American people have in times past winked at; but they will not always wink at it.

It is the belief of some shrewd observers that editorials, the long editorials, are not much read, except by editors themselves. A cynic says that, if you have a secret you are very anxious to keep from the female portion of the population, the safest place to put it is in an editorial. It seems to me that editorials are not conned as attentively as they once were; and I am sure they have not so much influence as formerly. People are not so easily or so visibly led; that is to say, the editorial influence is not so dogmatic and direct. The editor does not expect to form public opinion so much by arguments and appeals as by the news he presents and his manner of presenting it, by the iteration of an idea until it becomes familiar, by the reading-matter selected, and by the quotations of opinions as news, and not professedly to influence the reader. And this influence is all the more potent because it is indirect, and not perceived-by the reader.

There is an editorial tradition—it might almost be termed a superstition—which I think will have to be abandoned. It is that a certain space in the journal must be filled with editorial, and that some of the editorials must be long, without any reference to the news or the necessity of comment on it, or the capacity of the editor at the moment to fill the space with original matter that is readable. There is the sacred space, and it must be filled. The London journals are perfect types of this custom. The result is often a wearisome page of words and rhetoric. It may be good rhetoric; but life is too short for so much of it. The necessity of filling this space causes the writer, instead of stating his idea in the shortest compass in which it can be made perspicuous and telling, to beat it out thin, and make it cover as much ground as possible. This, also, is vanity. In the economy of room, which our journals will more and more be compelled to cultivate, I venture to say that this tradition will be set aside. I think that we may fairly claim a superiority in our journals over the English dailies in our habit of making brief, pointed editorial paragraphs. They are the life of the editorial page. A cultivation of these until they are as finished and pregnant as the paragraphs of “The London Spectator” and “The New-York Nation,” the printing of long editorials only when the elucidation of a subject demands length, and the use of the space thus saved for more interesting reading, is probably the line of our editorial evolution.

To continue the comparison of our journals as a class, with the English as a class, ours are more lively, also more flippant, and less restrained by a sense of responsibility or by the laws of libel. We furnish, now and again, as good editorial writing for its purpose; but it commonly lacks the dignity, the thoroughness, the wide sweep and knowledge, that characterizes the best English discussion of political and social topics.

The third department of the newspaper is that of miscellaneous reading-matter. Whether this is the survival of the period when the paper contained little else except “selections,” and other printed matter was scarce, or whether it is only the beginning of a development that shall supply the public nearly all its literature, I do not know. Far as our newspapers have already gone in this direction, I am inclined to think that in their evolution they must drop this adjunct, and print simply the news of the day. Some of the leading journals of the world already do this.

In America I am sure the papers are printing too much miscellaneous reading. The perusal of this smattering of everything, these scraps of information and snatches of literature, this infinite variety and medley, in which no subject is adequately treated, is distracting and debilitating to the mind. It prevents the reading of anything in full, and its satisfactory assimilation. It is said that the majority of Americans read nothing except the paper. If they read that thoroughly, they have time for nothing else. What is its reader to do when his journal thrusts upon him every day the amount contained in a fair-sized duodecimo volume, and on Sundays the amount of two of them? Granted that this miscellaneous hodge-podge is the cream of current literature, is it profitable to the reader? Is it a means of anything but superficial culture and fragmentary information? Besides, it stimulates an unnatural appetite, a liking for the striking, the brilliant, the sensational only; for our selections from current literature are, usually the “plums”; and plums are not a wholesome-diet for anybody. A person accustomed to this finds it difficult to sit down patiently to the mastery of a book or a subject, to the study of history, the perusal of extended biography, or to acquire that intellectual development and strength which comes from thorough reading and reflection.

The subject has another aspect. Nobody chooses his own reading; and a whole community perusing substantially the same material tends to a mental uniformity. The editor has the more than royal power of selecting the intellectual food of a large public. It is a responsibility infinitely greater than that of the compiler of schoolbooks, great as that is. The taste of the editor, or of some assistant who uses the scissors, is in a manner forced upon thousands of people, who see little other printed matter than that which he gives them. Suppose his taste runs to murders and abnormal crimes, and to the sensational in literature: what will be the moral effect upon a community of reading this year after year?

If this excess of daily miscellany is deleterious to the public, I doubt if it will be, in the long run, profitable to the newspaper, which has a field broad enough in reporting and commenting upon the movement of the world, without attempting to absorb the whole reading field.

I should like to say a word, if time permitted, upon the form of the journal, and about advertisem*nts. I look to see advertisem*nts shorter, printed with less display, and more numerous. In addition to the use now made of the newspaper by the classes called “advertisers,” I expect it to become the handy medium of the entire public, the means of ready communication in regard to all wants and exchanges.

Several years ago, the attention of the publishers of American newspapers was called to the convenient form of certain daily journals in South Germany, which were made up in small pages, the number of which varied from day to day, according to the pressure of news or of advertisem*nts. The suggestion as to form has been adopted bit many of our religious, literary, and special weeklies, to the great convenience of the readers, and I doubt not of the publishers also. Nothing is more unwieldy than our big blanket-sheets: they are awkward to handle, inconvenient to read, unhandy to bind and preserve. It is difficult to classify matter in them. In dull seasons they are too large; in times of brisk advertising, and in the sudden access of important news, they are too small. To enlarge them for the occasion, resort is had to a troublesome fly-sheet, or, if they are doubled, there is more space to be filled than is needed. It seems to me that the inevitable remedy is a newspaper of small pages or forms, indefinite in number, that can at any hour be increased or diminished according to necessity, to be folded, stitched, and cut by machinery.

We have thus rapidly run over a prolific field, touching only upon some of the relations of the newspaper to our civilization, and omitting many of the more important and grave. The truth is that the development of the modern journal has been so sudden and marvelous that its conductors find themselves in possession of a machine that they scarcely know how to manage or direct. The change in the newspaper caused by the telegraph, the cable, and by a public demand for news created by wars, by discoveries, and by a new outburst of the spirit of doubt and inquiry, is enormous. The public mind is confused about it, and alternately overestimates and underestimates the press, failing to see how integral and representative a part it is of modern life.

“The power of the press,” as something to be feared or admired, is a favorite theme of dinner-table orators and clergymen. One would think it was some compactly wielded energy, like that of an organized religious order, with a possible danger in it to the public welfare. Discrimination is not made between the power of the printed word—which is limitless—and the influence that a newspaper, as such, exerts. The power of the press is in its facility for making public opinions and events. I should say it is a medium of force rather than force itself. I confess that I am oftener impressed with the powerlessness of the press than otherwise, its slight influence in bringing about any reform, or in inducing the public to do what is for its own good and what it is disinclined to do. Talk about the power of the press, say, in a legislature, when once the members are suspicious that somebody is trying to influence them, and see how the press will retire, with what grace it can, before an invincible and virtuous lobby. The fear of the combination of the press for any improper purpose, or long for any proper purpose, is chimerical. Whomever the newspapers agree with, they do not agree with each other. The public itself never takes so many conflicting views of any topic or event as the ingenious rival journals are certain to discover. It is impossible, in their nature, for them to combine. I should as soon expect agreement among doctors in their empirical profession. And there is scarcely ever a cause, or an opinion, or a man, that does not get somewhere in the press a hearer and a defender. We will drop the subject with one remark for the benefit of whom it may concern. With all its faults, I believe the moral tone of the American newspaper is higher, as a rule, than that of the community in which it is published.


By Charles Dudley Warner

This is a very interesting age. Within the memory of men not yet come to middle life the time of the trotting horse has been reduced from two minutes forty seconds to two minutes eight and a quarter seconds. During the past fifteen years a universal and wholesome pastime of boys has been developed into a great national industry, thoroughly organized and almost altogether relegated to professional hands, no longer the exercise of the million but a spectacle for the million, and a game which rivals the Stock Exchange as a means of winning money on the difference of opinion as to the skill of contending operators.

The newspapers of the country—pretty accurate and sad indicators of the popular taste—devote more daily columns in a week's time to chronicling the news about base-ball than to any other topic that interests the American mind, and the most skillful player, the pitcher, often college bred, whose entire prowess is devoted to not doing what he seems to be doing, and who has become the hero of the American girl as the Olympian wrestler was of the Greek maiden and as the matador is of the Spanish senorita, receives a larger salary for a few hours' exertion each week than any college president is paid for a year's intellectual toil. Such has been the progress in the interest in education during this period that the larger bulk of the news, and that most looked for, printed about the colleges and universities, is that relating to the training, the prospects and achievements of the boat crews and the teams of base-ball and foot-ball, and the victory of any crew or team is a better means of attracting students to its college, a better advertisem*nt, than success in any scholastic contest. A few years ago a tournament was organized in the North between several colleges for competition in oratory and scholarship; it had a couple of contests and then died of inanition and want of public interest.

During the period I am speaking of there has been an enormous advance in technical education, resulting in the establishment of splendid special schools, essential to the development of our national resources; a growth of the popular idea that education should be practical,—that is, such an education as can be immediately applied to earning a living and acquiring wealth speedily,—and an increasing extension of the elective system in colleges,—based almost solely on the notion, having in view, of course, the practical education, that the inclinations of a young man of eighteen are a better guide as to what is best for his mental development and equipment for life than all the experience of his predecessors.

In this period, which you will note is more distinguished by the desire for the accumulation of money than far the general production of wealth, the standard of a fortune has shifted from a fair competence to that of millions of money, so that he is no longer rich who has a hundred thousand dollars, but he only who possesses property valued at many millions, and the men most widely known the country through, most talked about, whose doings and sayings are most chronicled in the journals, whose example is most attractive and stimulating to the minds of youth, are not the scholars, the scientists, the men of, letters, not even the orators and statesmen, but those who, by any means, have amassed enormous fortunes. We judge the future of a generation by its ideals.

Regarding education from the point of view of its equipment of a man to make money, and enjoy the luxury which money can command, it must be more and more practical, that is, it must be adapted not even to the higher aim of increasing the general wealth of the world, by increasing production and diminishing waste both of labor and capital, but to the lower aim of getting personal possession of it; so that a striking social feature of the period is that one-half—that is hardly an overestimate —one-half of the activity in America of which we speak with so much enthusiasm, is not directed to the production of wealth, to increasing its volume, but to getting the money of other people away from them. In barbarous ages this object was accomplished by violence; it is now attained by skill and adroitness. We still punish those who gain property by violence; those who get it by smartness and cleverness, we try to imitate, and sometimes we reward them with public office.

It appears, therefore, that speed,-the ability to move rapidly from place to place,—a disproportionate reward of physical over intellectual science, an intense desire to be rich, which is strong enough to compel even education to grind in the mill of the Philistines, and an inordinate elevation in public consideration of rich men simply because they are rich, are characteristics of this little point of time on which we stand. They are not the only characteristics; in a reasonably optimistic view, the age is distinguished for unexampled achievements, and for opportunities for the well-being of humanity never before in all history attainable. But these characteristics are so prominent as to beget the fear that we are losing the sense of the relative value of things in this life.

Few persons come to middle life without some conception of these relative values. It is in the heat and struggle that we fail to appreciate what in the attainment will be most satisfactory to us. After it is over we are apt to see that our possessions do not bring the happiness we expected; or that we have neglected to cultivate the powers and tastes that can make life enjoyable. We come to know, to use a truism, that a person's highest satisfaction depends not upon his exterior acquisitions, but upon what he himself is. There is no escape from this conclusion. The physical satisfactions are limited and fallacious, the intellectual and moral satisfactions are unlimited. In the last analysis, a man has to live with himself, to be his own companion, and in the last resort the question is, what can he get out of himself. In the end, his life is worth just what he has become. And I need not say that the mistake commonly made is as to relative values,—that the things of sense are as important as the things of the mind. You make that mistake when you devote your best energies to your possession of material substance, and neglect the enlargement, the training, the enrichment of the mind. You make the same mistake in a less degree, when you bend to the popular ignorance and conceit so far as to direct your college education to sordid ends. The certain end of yielding to this so-called practical spirit was expressed by a member of a Northern State legislature who said, “We don't want colleges, we want workshops.” It was expressed in another way by a representative of the lower house in Washington who said, “The average ignorance of the country has a right to be represented here.” It is not for me to say whether it is represented there. Naturally, I say, we ought by the time of middle life to come to a conception of what sort of things are of most value. By analogy, in the continual growth of the Republic, we ought to have a perception of what we have accomplished and acquired, and some clear view of our tendencies. We take justifiable pride in the glittering figures of our extension of territory, our numerical growth, in the increase of wealth, and in our rise to the potential position of almost the first nation in the world. A more pertinent inquiry is, what sort of people have we become? What are we intellectually and morally? For after all the man is the thing, the production of the right sort of men and women is all that gives a nation value. When I read of the establishment of a great industrial centre in which twenty thousand people are employed in the increase of the amount of steel in the world, before I decide whether it would be a good thing for the Republic to create another industrial city of the same sort, I want to know what sort of people the twenty thousand are, how they live, what their morals are, what intellectual life they have, what their enjoyment of life is, what they talk about and think about, and what chance they have of getting into any higher life. It does not seem to me a sufficient gain in this situation that we are immensely increasing the amount of steel in the world, or that twenty more people are enabled on account of this to indulge in an unexampled, unintellectual luxury. We want more steel, no doubt, but haven't we wit enough to get that and at the same time to increase among the producers of it the number of men and women whose horizons are extended, who are companionable, intelligent beings, adding something to the intellectual and moral force upon which the real progress of the Republic depends?

There is no place where I would choose to speak more plainly of our national situation today than in the South, and at the University of the South; in the South, because it is more plainly in a transition state, and at the University of the South, because it is here and in similar institutions that the question of the higher or lower plane of life in the South is to be determined.

To a philosophical observer of the Republic, at the end of the hundred years, I should say that the important facts are not its industrial energy, its wealth, or its population, but the stability of the federal power, and the integrity of the individual States. That is to say, that stress and trial have welded us into an indestructible nation; and not of less consequence is the fact that the life of the Union is in the life of the States. The next most encouraging augury for a great future is the marvelous diversity among the members of this republican body. If nothing would be more speedily fatal to our plan of government than increasing centralization, nothing would be more hopeless in our development than increasing monotony, the certain end of which is mediocrity.

Speaking as one whose highest pride it is to be a citizen of a great and invincible Republic to those whose minds kindle with a like patriotism, I can say that I am glad there are East and North and South, and West, Middle, Northwest, and Southwest, with as many diversities of climate, temperament, habits, idiosyncrasies, genius, as these names imply. Thank Heaven we are not all alike; and so long as we have a common purpose in the Union, and mutual toleration, respect, and sympathy, the greater will be our achievement and the nobler our total development, if every section is true to the evolution of its local traits. The superficial foreign observer finds sameness in our different States, tiresome family likeness in our cities, hideous monotony in our villages, and a certain common atmosphere of life, which increasing facility of communication tends to increase. This is a view from a railway train. But as soon as you observe closely, you find in each city a peculiar physiognomy, and a peculiar spirit remarkable considering the freedom of movement and intercourse, and you find the organized action of each State sui generis to a degree surprising considering the general similarity of our laws and institutions. In each section differences of speech, of habits of thought, of temperament prevail. Massachusetts is unlike Louisiana, Florida unlike Tennessee, Georgia is unlike California, Pennsylvania is unlike Minnesota, and so on, and the unlikeness is not alone or chiefly in physical features. By the different style of living I can tell when I cross the line between Connecticut and New York as certainly as when I cross the line between Vermont and Canada. The Virginian expanded in Kentucky is not the same man he was at home, and the New England Yankee let loose in the West takes on proportions that would astonish his grandfather. Everywhere there is a variety in local sentiment, action, and development. Sit down in the seats of the State governments and study the methods of treatment of essentially the common institutions of government, of charity and discipline, and you will be impressed with the variety of local spirit and performance in the Union. And this, diversity is so important, this contribution of diverse elements is so necessary to the complex strength and prosperity of the whole, that one must view with alarm all federal interference and tendency to greater centralization.

And not less to be dreaded than monotony from the governmental point of view, is the obliteration of variety in social life and in literary development. It is not enough for a nation to be great and strong, it must be interesting, and interesting it cannot be without cultivation of local variety. Better obtrusive peculiarities than universal sameness. It is out of variety as well as complexity in American life, and not in hom*ogeneity and imitation, that we are to expect a civilization noteworthy in the progress of the human race.

Let us come a little closer to our subject in details. For a hundred years the South was developed on its own lines, with astonishingly little exterior bias. This comparative isolation was due partly to the institution of slavery, partly to devotion to the production of two or three great staples. While its commercial connection with the North was intimate and vital, its literary relation with the North was slight. With few exceptions Northern authors were not read in the South, and the literary movement of its neighbors, such as it was, from 1820 to 1860, scarcely affected it. With the exception of Louisiana, which was absolutely ignorant of American literature and drew its inspiration and assumed its critical point of view almost wholly from the French, the South was English, but mainly English of the time of Walter Scott and George the Third. While Scott was read at the North for his knowledge of human nature, as he always will be read, the chivalric age which moves in his pages was taken more seriously at the South, as if it were of continuing importance in life. In any of its rich private libraries you find yourself in the age of Pope and Dryden, and the classics were pursued in the spirit of Oxford and Cambridge in the time of Johnson. It was little disturbed by the intellectual and ethical agitation of modern England or of modern New England. During this period, while the South excelled in the production of statesmen, orators, trained politicians, great judges, and brilliant lawyers, it produced almost no literature, that is, no indigenous literature, except a few poems and—a few humorous character-sketches; its general writing was ornately classic, and its fiction romantic on the lines of the foreign romances.

From this isolation one thing was developed, and another thing might in due time be expected. The thing developed was a social life, in the favored class, which has an almost unique charm, a power of being agreeable, a sympathetic cordiality, an impulsive warmth, a frankness in the expression of emotion, and that delightful quality of manner which puts the world at ease and makes life pleasant. The Southerners are no more sincere than the Northerners, but they have less reserve, and in the social traits that charm all who come in contact with them, they have an element of immense value in the variety of American life.

The thing that might have been expected in due time, and when the call came—and it is curious to note that the call and cause of any renaissance are always from the outside—was a literary expression fresh and indigenous. This expectation, in a brief period since the war, has been realized by a remarkable performance and is now stimulated by a remarkable promise. The acclaim with which the Southern literature has been received is partly due to its novelty, the new life it exhibited, but more to the recognition in it of a fresh flavor, a literary quality distinctly original and of permanent importance. This production, the first fruits of which are so engaging in quality, cannot grow and broaden into a stable, varied literature without scholarship and hard work, and without a sympathetic local audience. But the momentary concern is that it should develop on its own lines and in its own spirit, and not under the influence of London or Boston or New York. I do not mean by this that it should continue to attract attention by peculiarities of dialect-which is only an incidental, temporary phenomenon, that speedily becomes wearisome, whether “cracker” or negro or Yankee—but by being true to the essential spirit and temperament of Southern life.

During this period there was at the North, and especially in the East, great intellectual activity and agitation, and agitation ethical and moral as well as intellectual. There was awakening, investigation, questioning, doubt. There was a great deal of froth thrown to the surface. In the free action of individual thought and expression grew eccentricities of belief and of practice, and a crop of so-called “isms,” more or less temporary, unprofitable, and pernicious. Public opinion attained an astonishing degree of freedom,—I never heard of any community that was altogether free of its tyranny. At least extraordinary latitude was permitted in the development of extreme ideas, new, fantastic, radical, or conservative. For instance, slavery was attacked and slavery was defended on the same platform, with almost equal freedom. Indeed, for many years, if there was any exception to the general toleration it was in the social ostracism of those who held and expressed extreme opinions in regard to immediate emancipation, and were stigmatized as abolitionists. There was a general ferment of new ideas, not always fruitful in the direction taken, but hopeful in view of the fact that growth and movement are better than stagnation and decay. You can do something with a ship that has headway; it will drift upon the rocks if it has not. With much foam and froth, sure to attend agitation, there was immense vital energy, intense life.

Out of this stir and agitation came the aggressive, conquering spirit that carried civilization straight across the continent, that built up cities and States, that developed wealth, and by invention, ingenuity, and energy performed miracles in the way of the subjugation of nature and the assimilation of societies. Out of this free agitation sprang a literary product, great in quantity and to some degree distinguished in quality, groups of historians, poets, novelists, essayists, biographers, scientific writers. A conspicuous agency of the period was the lecture platform, which did something in the spread and popularization of information, but much more in the stimulation of independent thought and the awakening of the mind to use its own powers.

Along with this and out of this went on the movement of popular education and of the high and specialized education. More remarkable than the achievements of the common schools has been the development of the colleges, both in the departments of the humanities and of science. If I were writing of education generally, I might have something to say of the measurable disappointment of the results of the common schools as at present conducted, both as to the diffusion of information and as to the discipline of the mind and the inculcation of ethical principles; which simply means that they need improvement. But the higher education has been transformed, and mainly by the application of scientific methods, and of the philosophic spirit, to the study of history, economics, and the classics. When we are called to defend the pursuit of metaphysics or the study of the classics, either as indispensable to the discipline or to the enlargement of the mind, we are not called on to defend the methods of a generation ago. The study of Greek is no longer an exercise in the study of linguistics or the inspection of specimens of an obsolete literature, but the acquaintance with historic thought, habits, and polity, with a portion of the continuous history of the human mind, which has a vital relation to our own life.

However much or little there may be of permanent value in the vast production of northern literature, judged by continental or even English standards, the time has came when American scholarship in science, in language, in occidental or oriental letters, in philosophic and historical methods, can court comparison with any other. In some branches of research the peers of our scholars must be sought not in England but in Germany. So that in one of the best fruits of a period of intellectual agitation, scholarship, the restless movement has thoroughly vindicated itself.

I have called your attention to this movement in order to say that it was neither accidental nor isolated. It was in the historic line, it was fed and stimulated by all that had gone before, and by all contemporary activity everywhere. New England, for instance, was alert and progressive because it kept its doors and windows open. It was hospitable in its intellectual freedom, both of trial and debate, to new ideas. It was in touch with the universal movement of humanity and of human thought and speculation. You lose some quiet by this attitude, some repose that is pleasant and even desirable perhaps, you entertain many errors, you may try many useless experiments, but you gain life and are in the way of better things. New England, whatever else we may say about it, was in the world. There was no stir of thought, of investigation, of research, of the recasting of old ideas into new forms of life, in Germany, in France, in Italy, in England, anywhere, that did not touch it and to which it did not respond with the sympathy that common humanity has in the universal progress. It kept this touch not only in the evolution and expression of thought and emotion which we call literature (whether original or imitative), but in the application of philosophic methods to education, in the attempted regeneration of society and the amelioration of its conditions by schemes of reform and discipline, relating to the institutions of benevolence and to the control of the vicious and criminal. With all these efforts go along always much false sentimentality and pseudo-philanthropy, but little by little gain is made that could not be made in a state of isolation and stagnation.

In fact there is one historic stream of human thought, aspiration, and progress; it is practically continuous, and with all its diversity of local color and movement it is a unit. If you are in it, you move; if you are out of it, you are in an eddy. The eddy may have a provincial current, but it is not in the great stream, and when it has gone round and round for a century, it is still an eddy, and will not carry you anywhere in particular. The value of the modern method of teaching and study is that it teaches the solidarity of human history, the continuance of human thought, in literature, government, philosophy, the unity of the divine purpose, and that nothing that has anywhere befallen the human race is alien to us.

I am not undervaluing the part, the important part, played by conservatism, the conservatism that holds on to what has been gained if it is good, that insists on discipline and heed to the plain teaching of experience, that refuses to go into hysterics of enthusiasm over every flighty suggestion, or to follow every leader simply because he proposes something new and strange—I do not mean the conservatism that refuses to try anything simply because it is new, and prefers to energetic life the stagnation that inevitably leads to decay. Isolation from the great historic stream of thought and agitation is stagnation. While this is true, and always has been true in history, it is also true, in regard to the beneficent diversity of American life, which is composed of so many elements and forces, as I have often thought and said, that what has been called the Southern conservatism in respect to beliefs and certain social problems, may have a very important part to play in the development of the life of the Republic.

I shall not be misunderstood here, where the claims of the higher life are insisted on and the necessity of pure, accurate scholarship is recognized, in saying that this expectation in regard to the South depends upon the cultivation and diffusion of the highest scholarship in all its historic consciousness and critical precision. This sort of scholarship, of widely apprehending intellectual activity, keeping step with modern ideas so far as they are historically grounded, is of the first importance. Everywhere indeed, in our industrial age,—in a society inclined to materialism, scholarship, pure and simple scholarship for its own sake, no less in Ohio than in Tennessee, is the thing to be insisted on. If I may refer to an institution, which used to be midway between the North and the South, and which I may speak of without suspicion of bias, an institution where the studies of metaphysics, the philosophy of history, the classics and pure science are as much insisted on as the study of applied sciences, the College of New Jersey at Princeton, the question in regard to a candidate for a professorship or instructorship, is not whether he was born North or South, whether he served in one army or another or in neither, whether he is a Democrat or a Republican or a Mugwump, what religious denomination he belongs to, but is he a scholar and has he a high character? There is no provincialism in scholarship.

We are not now considering the matter of the agreeableness of one society or another, whether life is on the whole pleasanter in certain conditions at the North or at the South, whether there is not a charm sometimes in isolation and even in provincialism. It is a fair question to ask, what effect upon individual lives and character is produced by an industrial and commercial spirit, and by one less restless and more domestic. But the South is now face to face with certain problems which relate her, inevitably, to the moving forces of the world. One of these is the development of her natural resources and the change and diversity of her industries. On the industrial side there is pressing need of institutions of technology, of schools of applied science, for the diffusion of technical information and skill in regard to mining and manufacturing, and also to agriculture, so that worn-out lands may be reclaimed and good lands be kept up to the highest point of production. Neither mines, forests, quarries, water-ways, nor textile fabrics can be handled to best advantage without scientific knowledge and skilled labor. The South is everywhere demanding these aids to her industrial development. But just in the proportion that she gets them, and because she has them, will be the need of higher education. The only safety against the influence of a rolling mill is a college, the only safety against the practical and materializing tendency of an industrial school is the increased study of whatever contributes to the higher and non-sordid life of the mind. The South would make a poor exchange for her former condition in any amount of industrial success without a corresponding development of the highest intellectual life.

But, besides the industrial problem, there is the race problem. It is the most serious in the conditions under which it is presented that ever in all history confronted a free people. Whichever way you regard it, it is the nearest insoluble. Under the Constitution it is wisely left to the action of the individual States. The heavy responsibility is with them. In the nature of things it is a matter of the deepest concern to the whole Republic, for the prosperity of every part is vital to the prosperity of the whole. In working it out you are entitled, from the outside, to the most impartial attempt to understand its real nature, to the utmost patience with the facts of human nature, to the most profound and most helpful sympathy. It is monstrous to me that the situation should be made on either side a political occasion for private ambition or for party ends.

I would speak of this subject with the utmost frankness if I knew what to say. It is not much of a confession to say that I do not. The more I study it the less I know, and those among you who give it the most anxious thought are the most perplexed, the subject has so many conflicting aspects. In the first place there is the evolution of an undeveloped race. Every race has a right to fair play in the world and to make the most of its capacities, and to the help of the more favored in the attempt. If the suggestion recently made of a wholesale migration to Mexico were carried out, the South would be relieved in many ways, though the labor problem would be a serious one for a long time, but the “elevation” would be lost sight of or relegated to a foreign missionary enterprise; and as for results to the colored people themselves, there is the example of Hayti. If another suggestion, that of abandoning certain States to this race, were carried out, there is the example of Hayti again, and, besides, an anomaly introduced into the Republic foreign to its traditions, spirit, aspirations, and process of assimilation, alien to the entire historic movement of the Aryan races, and infinitely more dangerous to the idea of the Republic than if solid Ireland were dumped down in the Mississippi valley as an independent State.

On the other hand, there rests upon you the responsibility of maintaining a civilization—the civilization of America, not of Hayti or of Guatemala which we have so hardly won. It is neither to be expected nor desired that you should be ruled by an undeveloped race, ignorant of law, letters, history, politics, political economy. There is no right anywhere in numbers or unintelligence to rule intelligence. It is a travesty of civilization. No Northern State that I know of would submit to be ruled by an undeveloped race. And human nature is exactly in the South what it is in the North. That is one impregnable fact, to be taken as the basis of all our calculations; the whites of the South will not, cannot, be dominated, as matters now stand, by the colored race.

But, then, there is the suffrage, the universal, unqualified suffrage. And here is the dilemma. Suffrage once given, cannot be suppressed or denied, perverted by chicane or bribery without incalculable damage to the whole political body. Irregular methods once indulged in for one purpose, and towards one class, so sap the moral sense that they come to be used for all purposes. The danger is ultimately as great to those who suppress or pervert as it is to the suppressed and corrupted. It is the demoralization of all sound political action and life. I know whereof I speak. In the North, bribery in elections and intimidation are fatal to public morality. The legislature elected by bribery is a bribable body.

I believe that the fathers were right in making government depend upon the consent of the governed. I believe there has been as yet discovered no other basis of government so safe, so stable as popular suffrage, but the fathers never contemplated a suffrage without intelligence. It is a contradiction of terms. A proletariat without any political rights in a republic is no more dangerous than an unintelligent mob which can be used in elections by demagogues. Universal suffrage is not a universal panacea; it may be the best device attainable, but it is certain of abuse without safeguards. One of the absolutely necessary safeguards is an educational qualification. No one ought anywhere to exercise it who cannot read and write, and if I had my way, no one should cast a ballot who had not a fair conception of the effect of it, shown by a higher test of intelligence than the mere fact of ability to scrawl his name and to spell out a line or two in the Constitution. This much the State for its own protection is bound to require, for suffrage is an expediency, not a right belonging to universal humanity regardless of intelligence or of character.

The charge is, with regard to this universal suffrage, that you take the fruits of increased representation produced by it, and then deny it to a portion of the voters whose action was expected to produce a different political result. I cannot but regard it as a blunder in statesmanship to give suffrage without an educational qualification, and to deem it possible to put ignorance over intelligence. You are not, responsible for the situation, but you are none the less in an illogical position before the law. Now, would you not gain more in a rectification of your position than you would lose in other ways, by making suffrage depend upon an educational qualification? I do not mean gain party-wise, but in political morals and general prosperity. Time would certainly be gained by this, and it is possible in this shifting world, in the growth of industries and the flow of populations, that before the question of supremacy was again upon you, foreign and industrial immigration would restore the race balance.

We come now to education. The colored race being here, I assume that its education, with the probabilities this involves of its elevation, is a duty as well as a necessity. I speak both of the inherent justice there is in giving every human being the chance of bettering his condition and increasing his happiness that lies in education—unless our whole theory of modern life is wrong—and also of the political and social danger there is in a degraded class numerically strong. Granted integral membership in a body politic, education is a necessity. I am aware of the danger of half education, of that smattering of knowledge which only breeds conceit, adroitness, and a consciousness of physical power, without due responsibility and moral restraint. Education makes a race more powerful both for evil and for good. I see the danger that many apprehend. And the outlook, with any amount of education, would be hopeless, not only as regards the negro and those in neighborhood relations with him, if education should not bring with it thrift, sense of responsibility as a citizen, and virtue. What the negro race under the most favorable conditions is capable of remains to be shown; history does not help us much to determine thus far. It has always been a long pull for any race to rise out of primitive conditions; but I am sure for its own sake, and for the sake of the republic where it dwells, every thoughtful person must desire the most speedy intellectual and moral development possible of the African race. And I mean as a race.

Some distinguished English writers have suggested, with approval, that the solution of the race problem in this country is fusion, and I have even heard discouraged Southerners accept it as a possibility. The result of their observation of the amalgamation of races and colors in Egypt, in Syria, and Mexico, must be very different from mine. When races of different color mingle there is almost invariably loss of physical stamina, and the lower moral qualities of each are developed in the combination. No race that regards its own future would desire it. The absorption theory as applied to America is, it seems to me, chimerical.

But to return to education. It should always be fitted to the stage of development. It should always mean discipline, the training of the powers and capacities. The early pioneers who planted civilization on the Watauga, the Holston, the Kentucky, the Cumberland, had not much broad learning—they would not have been worse if they had had more but they had courage, they were trained in self-reliance, virile common sense, and good judgment, they had inherited the instinct and capacity of self-government, they were religious, with all their coarseness they had the fundamental elements of nobility, the domestic virtues, and the public spirit needed in the foundation of states. Their education in all the manly arts and crafts of the backwoodsman fitted them very well for the work they had to do. I should say that the education of the colored race in America should be fundamental. I have not much confidence in an ornamental top-dressing of philosophy, theology, and classic learning upon the foundation of an unformed and unstable mental and moral condition. Somehow, character must be built up, and character depends upon industry, upon thrift, upon morals, upon correct ethical perceptions. To have control of one's powers, to have skill in labor, so that work in any occupation shall be intelligent, to have self-respect, which commonly comes from trained capacity, to know how to live, to have a clean, orderly house, to be grounded in honesty and the domestic virtues,—these are the essentials of progress. I suppose that the education to produce these must be an elemental and practical one, one that fits for the duties of life and not for some imaginary sphere above them.

To put it in a word, and not denying that there must be schools for teaching the teachers, with the understanding that the teachers should be able to teach what the mass most needs to know—what the race needs for its own good today, are industrial and manual training schools, with the varied and practical discipline and arts of life which they impart.

What then? What of the 'modus vivendi' of the two races occupying the same soil? As I said before, I do not know. Providence works slowly. Time and patience only solve such enigmas. The impossible is not expected of man, only that he shall do today the duty nearest to him. It is easy, you say, for an outsider to preach waiting, patience, forbearance, sympathy, helpfulness. Well, these are the important lessons we get out of history. We struggle, and fume, and fret, and accomplish little in our brief hour, but somehow the world gets on. Fortunately for us, we cannot do today the work of tomorrow. All the gospel in the world can be boiled down into a single precept. Do right now. I have observed that the boy who starts in the morning with a determination to behave himself till bedtime, usually gets through the day without a thrashing.

But of one thing I am sure. In the rush of industries, in the race problem, it is more and more incumbent upon such institutions as the University of the South to maintain the highest standard of pure scholarship, to increase the number of men and women devoted to the intellectual life. Long ago, in the middle of the seventeenth century, John Ward of Stratford-on-Avon, clergyman and physician, wrote in his diary: “The wealth of a nation depends upon its populousness, and its populousness depends upon the liberty of conscience that is granted to it, for this calls in strangers and promotes trading.” Great is the attraction of a benign climate and of a fruitful soil, but a greater attraction is an intelligent people, that values the best things in life, a society hospitable, companionable, instinct with intellectual life, awake to the great ideas that make life interesting.

As I travel through the South and become acquainted with its magnificent resources and opportunities, and know better and love more the admirable qualities of its people, I cannot but muse in a fond prophecy upon the brilliant part it is to play in the diversified life and the great future of the American Republic. But, North and South, we have a hard fight with materializing tendencies. God bless the University of the South!


By Charles Dudley Warner

This December evening, the imagination, by a law of contrast, recalls another December night two hundred and seventy years ago. The circle of darkness is drawn about a little group of Pilgrims who have come ashore on a sandy and inhospitable coast. On one side is a vexed and wintry sea, three thousand miles of tossing waves and tempest, beyond which lie the home, the hedgerows and cottages, the church towers, the libraries and universities, the habits and associations of an old civilization, the strongest and dearest ties that can entwine around a human heart, abandoned now definitely and forever by these wanderers; on the other side a wintry forest of unknown extent, without highways, the lair of wild beasts, impenetrable except by trails known only to the savages, whose sudden appearance and disappearance adds mystery and terror to the impression the imagination has conjured up of the wilderness.

This darkness is symbolic. It stands for a vaster obscurity. This is an encampment on the edge of a continent, the proportions of which are unknown, the form of which is only conjectured. Behind this screen of forest are there hills, great streams, with broad valleys, ranges of mountains perhaps, vast plains, lakes, other wildernesses of illimitable extent? The adventurers on the James hoped they could follow the stream to highlands that looked off upon the South Sea, a new route to India and the Spice Islands. This unknown continent is attacked, it is true, in more than one place. The Dutch are at the mouth of the Hudson; there is a London company on the James; the Spaniards have been long in Florida, and have carried religion and civilization into the deserts of New Mexico. Nevertheless, the continent, vaster and more varied than was guessed, is practically undiscovered, untrodden. How inadequate to the subjection of any considerable portion of it seems this little band of ill-equipped adventurers, who cannot without peril of life stray a league from the bay where the “Mayflower” lies.

It is not to be supposed that the Pilgrims had an adequate conception of the continent, or of the magnitude of their mission on it, or of the nation to come of which they were laying the foundations. They did the duty that lay nearest to them; and the duty done today, perhaps without prescience of its consequences, becomes a permanent stone in the edifice of the future. They sought a home in a fresh wilderness, where they might be undisturbed by superior human authority; they had no doctrinarian notions of equality, nor of the inequality which is the only possible condition of liberty; the idea of toleration was not born in their age; they did not project a republic; they established a theocracy, a church which assumed all the functions of a state, recognizing one Supreme Power, whose will in human conduct they were to interpret. Already, however, in the first moment, with a true instinct of self-government, they drew together in the cabin of the “Mayflower” in an association—to carry out the divine will in society. But, behold how speedily their ideas expanded beyond the Jewish conception, necessarily expanded with opportunity and the practical self-dependence of colonies cut off from the aid of tradition, and brought face to face with the problems of communities left to themselves. Only a few years later, on the banks of the Connecticut, Thomas Hooker, the first American Democrat, proclaimed that “the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people,” that “the choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people, by God's own allowance,” that it is the right of the people not only to choose but to limit the power of their rulers, and he exhorted, “as God has given us liberty to take it.” There, at that moment, in Hartford, American democracy was born; and in the republican union of the three towns of the Connecticut colony, Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield, was the germ of the American federal system, which was adopted into the federal constitution and known at the time as the “Connecticut Compromise.”

It were not worth while for me to come a thousand miles to say this, or to draw over again for the hundredth time the character of the New England Pilgrim, nor to sketch his achievement on this continent. But it is pertinent to recall his spirit, his attitude toward life, and to inquire what he would probably do in the circ*mstances in which we find ourselves.

It is another December night, before the dawn of a new year. And this night still symbolizes the future. You have subdued a continent, and it stands in the daylight radiant with a material splendor of which the Pilgrims never dreamed. Yet a continent as dark, as unknown, exists. It is yourselves, your future, your national life. The other continent was made, you had only to discover it, to uncover it. This you must make yourselves.

We have finished the outline sketch of a magnificent nation. The territory is ample; it includes every variety of climate, in the changing seasons, every variety of physical conformation, every kind of production suited to the wants, almost everything desired in the imagination, of man. It comes nearer than any empire in history to being self-sufficient, physically independent of the rest of the globe. That is to say, if it were shut off from the rest of the world, it has in itself the material for great comfort and civilization. And it has the elements of motion, of agitation, of life, because the vast territory is filling up with a rapidity unexampled in history. I am not saying that isolated it could attain the highest civilization, or that if it did touch a high one it could long hold it in a living growth, cut off from the rest of the world. I do not believe it. For no state, however large, is sufficient unto itself. No state is really alive in the highest sense whose receptivity is not equal to its power to contribute to the world with which its destiny is bound up. It is only at its best when it is a part of the vital current of movement, of sympathy, of hope, of enthusiasm of the world at large. There is no doctrine so belittling, so withering to our national life, as that which conceives our destiny to be a life of exclusion of the affairs and interests of the whole globe, hemmed in to the selfish development of our material wealth and strength, surrounded by a Chinese wall built of strata of prejudice on the outside and of ignorance on the inside. Fortunately it is a conception impossible to be realized.

There is something captivating to the imagination in being a citizen of a great nation, one powerful enough to command respect everywhere, and so just as not to excite fear anywhere. This proud feeling of citizenship is a substantial part of a man's enjoyment of life; and there is a certain compensation for hardships, for privations, for self-sacrifice, in the glory of one's own country. It is not a delusion that one can afford to die for it. But what in the last analysis is the object of a government? What is the essential thing, without which even the glory of a nation passes into shame, and the vastness of empire becomes a mockery? I will not say that it is the well-being of every individual, because the term well-being—the 'bien etre' of the philosophers of the eighteenth century—has mainly a materialistic interpretation, and may be attained by a compromise of the higher life to comfort, and even of patriotism to selfish enjoyment.

That is the best government in which the people, and all the people, get the most out of life; for the object of being in this world is not primarily to build up a government, a monarchy, an aristocracy, a democracy, or a republic, or to make a nation, but to live the best sort of life that can be lived.

We think that our form of government is the one best calculated to attain this end. It is of all others yet tried in this world the one least felt by the people, least felt as an interference in the affairs of private life, in opinion, in conscience, in our freedom to attain position, to make money, to move from place to place, and to follow any career that is open to our ability. In order to maintain this freedom of action, this non-interference, we are bound to resist centralization of power; for a central power in a republic, grasped and administered by bosses, is no more tolerable than central power in a despotism, grasped and administered by a hereditary aristocrat. Let us not be deceived by names. Government by the consent of the people is the best government, but it is not government by the people when it is in the hands of political bosses, who juggle with the theory of majority rule. What republics have most to fear is the rule of the boss, who is a tyrant without responsibility. He makes the nominations, he dickers and trades for the elections, and at the end he divides the spoils. The operation is more uncertain than a horse race, which is not decided by the speed of the horses, but by the state of the wagers and the manipulation of the jockeys. We strike directly at his power for mischief when we organize the entire civil service of the nation and of the States on capacity, integrity, experience, and not on political power.

And if we look further, considering the danger of concentration of power in irresponsible hands, we see a new cause for alarm in undue federal mastery and interference. This we can only resist by the constant assertion of the rights, the power, the dignity of the individual State, all that it has not surrendered in the fundamental constitution of the Republic. This means the full weight of the State, as a State, as a political unit, in the election of President; and the full weight of the State, as a State, as a political unit, without regard to its population, in the senate of the United States. The senate, as it stands, as it was meant to be in the Constitution, is the strongest safeguard which the fundamental law established against centralization, against the tyranny of mere majorities, against the destruction of liberty, in such a diversity of climates and conditions as we have in our vast continent. It is not a mere check upon hasty legislation; like some second chambers in Europe, it is the representative of powers whose preservation in their dignity is essential to the preservation of the form of our government itself.

We pursue the same distribution of power and responsibility when we pass to the States. The federal government is not to interfere in what the State can do and ought to do for itself; the State is not to meddle with what the county can best do for itself; nor the county in the affairs best administered by the town and the municipality. And so we come to the individual citizen. He cannot delegate his responsibility. The government even of the smallest community must be, at least is, run by parties and by party machinery. But if he wants good government, he must pay as careful attention to the machinery,—call it caucus, primary, convention, town-meeting,—as he does to the machinery of his own business. If he hands it over to bosses, who make politics a trade for their own livelihood, he will find himself in the condition of stockholders of a bank whose directors are mere dummies, when some day the cashier packs the assets and goes on a foreign journey for his health. When the citizen simply does his duty in the place where he stands, the boss will be eliminated, in the nation, in the State, in the town, and we shall have, what by courtesy we say we have now, a government by the people. Then all the way down from the capital to the city ward, we shall have vital popular government, free action, discussion, agitation, life. What an anomaly it is, that a free people, reputed shrewd and intelligent, should intrust their most vital interests, the making of their laws, the laying of their taxes, the spending of their money, even their education and the management of their public institutions, into the keeping of political bosses, whom they would not trust to manage the least of their business affairs, nor to arbitrate on what is called a trial of speed at an agricultural fair.

But a good government, the best government, is only an opportunity. However vast the country may become in wealth and population, it cannot rise in quality above the average of the majority of its citizens; and its goodness will be tested in history by its value to the average man, not by its bigness, not by its power, but by its adaptability to the people governed, so as to develop the best that is in them. It is incidental and imperative that the country should be an agreeable one to live in; but it must be more than that, it must be favorable to the growth of the higher life. The Puritan community of Massachusetts Bay, whose spirit we may happily contrast with that of the Pilgrims whose anniversary we celebrate, must have been as disagreeable to live in as any that history records; not only were the physical conditions of life hard, but its inquisitorial intolerance overmatched that which it escaped in England. It was a theocratic despotism, untempered by recreation or amusem*nt, and repressive not only of freedom of expression but of freedom of thought. But it had an unconquerable will, a mighty sense of duty, a faith in God, which not only established its grip upon the continent but carried its influence from one ocean to the other. It did not conquer by its bigotry, by its intolerance, its cruel persecuting spirit, but by its higher mental and spiritual stamina. These lower and baser qualities of the age of the Puritans leave a stain upon a great achievement; it took Massachusetts almost two centuries to cast them off and come into a wholesome freedom, but the vital energy and the recognition of the essential verities inhuman life carried all the institutions of the Puritans that were life-giving over the continent.

Here in the West you are near the centre of a vast empire, you feel its mighty pulse, the throb and heartbeat of its immense and growing strength. Some of you have seen this great civilization actually grow on the vacant prairies, in the unoccupied wilderness, on the sandy shores of the inland seas. You have seen the trails of the Indian and the deer replaced by highways of steel, and upon the spots where the first immigrants corralled their wagons, and the voyagers dragged their canoes upon the reedy shore, you have seen arise great cities, centres of industry, of commerce, of art, attaining in a generation the proportions and the world-wide fame of cities that were already famous before the discovery of America.

Naturally the country is proud of this achievement. Naturally we magnify our material prosperity. But in this age of science and invention this development may be said to be inevitable, and besides it is the necessary outlet of the energy of a free people. There must be growth of cities, extension of railways, improvement of agriculture, development of manufactures, amassing of wealth, concentration of capital, beautifying of homes, splendid public buildings, private palaces, luxury, display. Without reservoirs of wealth there would be no great universities, schools of science, museums, galleries of art, libraries, solid institutions of charity, and perhaps not the wide diffusion of culture which is the avowed aim of modern civilization.

But this in its kind is an old story. It is an experiment that has been repeated over and over. History is the record of the rise of splendid civilizations, many of which have flowered into the most glorious products of learning and of art, and have left monuments of the proudest material achievements. Except in the rapidity with which steam and electricity have enabled us to move to our object, and in the discoveries of science which enable us to relieve suffering and prolong human life, there is nothing new in our experiment. We are pursuing substantially the old ends of material success and display. And the ends are not different because we have more people in a nation, or bigger cities with taller buildings, or more miles of railway, or grow more corn and cotton, or make more plows and threshing-machines, or have a greater variety of products than any nation ever had before. I fancy that a pleased visitor from another planet the other day at Chicago, who was shown an assembly much larger than ever before met under one roof, might have been interested to know that it was also the wisest, the most cultivated, the most weighty in character of any assembly ever gathered under one roof. Our experiment on this continent was intended to be something more than the creation of a nation on the old pattern, that should become big and strong, and rich and luxurious, divided into classes of the very wealthy and the very poor, of the enlightened and the illiterate. It was intended to be a nation in which the welfare of the people is the supreme object, and whatever its show among nations it fails if it does not become this. This welfare is an individual matter, and it means many things. It includes in the first place physical comfort for every person willing and deserving to be physically comfortable, decent lodging, good food, sufficient clothing. It means, in the second place, that this shall be an agreeable country to live in, by reason of its impartial laws, social amenities, and a fair chance to enjoy the gifts of nature and Providence. And it means, again, the opportunity to develop talents, aptitudes for cultivation and enjoyment, in short, freedom to make the most possible out of our lives. This is what Jefferson meant by the “pursuit of happiness”; it was what the Constitution meant by the “general welfare,” and what it tried to secure in States, safe-guarded enough to secure independence in the play of local ambition and home rule, and in a federal republic strong enough to protect the whole from foreign interference. We are in no vain chase of an equality which would eliminate all individual initiative, and check all progress, by ignoring differences of capacity and strength, and rating muscles equal to brains. But we are in pursuit of equal laws, and a fairer chance of leading happy lives than humanity in general ever had yet. And this fairer chance would not, for instance, permit any man to become a millionaire by so manipulating railways that the subscribing towns and private stockholders should lose their investments; nor would it assume that any Gentile or Jew has the right to grow rich by the chance of compelling poor women to make shirts for six cents apiece. The public opinion which sustains these deeds is as un-American, and as guilty as their doers. While abuses like these exist, tolerated by the majority that not only make public opinion, but make the laws, this is not a government for the people, any more than a government of bosses is a government by the people.

The Pilgrims of Plymouth could see no way of shaping their lives in accordance with the higher law except by separating themselves from the world. We have their problem, how to make the most of our lives, but the conditions have changed. Ours is an age of scientific aggression, fierce competition, and the widest toleration. The horizon of humanity is enlarged. To live the life now is to be no more isolated or separate, but to throw ourselves into the great movement of thought, and feeling, and achievement. Therefore we are altruists in charity, missionaries of humanity, patriots at home. Therefore we have a justifiable pride in the growth, the wealth, the power of the nation, the state, the city. But the stream cannot rise above its source. The nation is what the majority of its citizens are. It is to be judged by the condition of its humblest members. We shall gain nothing over other experiments in government, although we have money enough to buy peace from the rest of the world, or arms enough to conquer it, although we rear upon our material prosperity a structure of scientific achievement, of art, of literature unparalleled, if the common people are not sharers in this great prosperity, and are not fuller of hope and of the enjoyment of life than common people ever were before.

And we are all common people when it comes to that. Whatever the greatness of the nation, whatever the accumulation of wealth, the worth of the world to us is exactly the worth of our individual lives. The magnificent opportunity in this Republic is that we may make the most possible out of our lives, and it will continue only as we adhere to the original conception of the Republic. Politics without virtue, money-making without conscience, may result in great splendor, but as such an experiment is not new, its end can be predicted. An agreeable home for a vast, and a free, and a happy people is quite another thing. It expects thrift, it expects prosperity, but its foundations are in the moral and spiritual life.

Therefore I say that we are still to make the continent we have discovered and occupied, and that the scope and quality of our national life are still to be determined. If they are determined not by the narrow tenets of the Pilgrims, but by their high sense of duty, and of the value of the human soul, it will be a nation that will call the world up to a higher plane of action than it ever attained before, and it will bring in a new era of humanity. If they are determined by the vulgar successes of a mere material civilization, it is an experiment not worth making. It would have been better to have left the Indians in possession, to see if they could not have evolved out of their barbarism some new line of action.

The Pilgrims were poor, and they built their huts on a shore which gave such nigg*rdly returns for labor that the utmost thrift was required to secure the necessaries of life. Out of this struggle with nature and savage life was no doubt evolved the hardihood, the endurance, that builds states and wins the favors of fortune. But poverty is not commonly a nurse of virtue, long continued, it is a degeneration. It is almost as difficult for the very poor man to be virtuous as for the very rich man; and very good and very rich at the same time, says Socrates, a man cannot be. It is a great people that can withstand great prosperity. The condition of comfort without extremes is that which makes a happy life. I know a village of old-fashioned houses and broad elm-shaded streets in New England, indeed more than one, where no one is inordinately rich, and no one is very poor, where paupers are so scarce that it is difficult to find beneficiaries for the small traditionary contribution for the church poor; where the homes are centres of intelligence, of interest in books, in the news of the world, in the church, in the school, in politics; whence go young men and women to the colleges, teachers to the illiterate parts of the land, missionaries to the city slums. Multiply such villages all over the country, and we have one of the chief requisites for an ideal republic.

This has been the longing of humanity. Poets have sung of it; prophets have had visions of it; statesmen have striven for it; patriots have died for it. There must be somewhere, some time, a fruitage of so much suffering, so much sacrifice, a land of equal laws and equal opportunities, a government of all the people for the benefit of all the people; where the conditions of living will be so adjusted that every one can make the most out of his life, neither waste it in hopeless slavery nor in selfish tyranny, where poverty and crime will not be hereditary generation after generation, where great fortunes will not be for vulgar ostentation, but for the service of humanity and the glory of the State, where the privileges of freemen will be so valued that no one will be mean enough to sell his vote nor corrupt enough to attempt to buy a vote, where the truth will at last be recognized, that the society is not prosperous when half its members are lucky, and half are miserable, and that that nation can only be truly great that takes its orders from the Great Teacher of Humanity.

And, lo! at last here is a great continent, virgin, fertile, a land of sun and shower and bloom, discovered, organized into a great nation, with a government flexible in a distributed home rule, stiff as steel in a central power, already rich, already powerful. It is a land of promise. The materials are all here. Will you repeat the old experiment of a material success and a moral and spiritual failure? Or will you make it what humanity has passionately longed for? Only good individual lives can do that.


By Charles Dudley Warner

The Declaration of Independence opens with the statement of a great and fruitful political truth. But if it had said:—“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created unequal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” it would also have stated the truth; and if it had added, “All men are born in society with certain duties which cannot be disregarded without danger to the social state,” it would have laid down a necessary corollary to the first declaration. No doubt those who signed the document understood that the second clause limited the first, and that men are created equal only in respect to certain rights. But the first part of the clause has been taken alone as the statement of a self-evident truth, and the attempt to make this unlimited phrase a reality has caused a great deal of misery. In connection with the neglect of the idea that the recognition of certain duties is as important as the recognition of rights in the political and social state—that is, in connection with the doctrine of laissez faire —this popular notion of equality is one of the most disastrous forces in modern society.

Doubtless men might have been created equal to each other in every respect, with the same mental capacity, the same physical ability, with like inheritances of good or bad qualities, and born into exactly similar conditions, and not dependent on each other. But men never were so created and born, so far as we have any record of them, and by analogy we have no reason to suppose that they ever will be. Inequality is the most striking fact in life. Absolute equality might be better, but so far as we can see, the law of the universe is infinite diversity in unity; and variety in condition is the essential of what we call progress—it is, in fact, life. The great doctrine of the Christian era—the brotherhood of man and the duty of the strong to the weak—is in sharp contrast with this doctrinarian notion of equality. The Christian religion never proposed to remove the inequalities of life or its suffering, but by the incoming of charity and contentment and a high mind to give individual men a power to be superior to their conditions.

It cannot, however, be denied that the spirit of Christianity has ameliorated the condition of civilized peoples, cooperating in this with beneficent inventions. Never were the mass of the people so well fed, so well clad, so well housed, as today in the United States. Their ordinary daily comforts and privileges were the luxuries of a former age, often indeed unknown and unattainable to the most fortunate and privileged classes. Nowhere else is it or was it so easy for a man to change his condition, to satisfy his wants, nowhere else has he or had he such advantages of education, such facilities of travel, such an opportunity to find an environment to suit himself. As a rule the mass of mankind have been spot where they were born. A mighty change has taken place in regard to liberty, freedom of personal action, the possibility of coming into contact with varied life and an enlarged participation in the bounties of nature and the inventions of genius. The whole world is in motion, and at liberty to be so. Everywhere that civilization has gone there is an immense improvement in material conditions during the last one hundred years.

And yet men were never so discontented, nor did they ever find so many ways of expressing their discontent. In view of the general amelioration of the conditions of life this seems unreasonable and illogical, but it may seem less so when we reflect that human nature is unchanged, and that which has to be satisfied in this world is the mind. And there are some exceptions to this general material prosperity, in its result to the working classes. Manufacturing England is an exception. There is nothing so pitiful, so hopeless in the record of man, not in the Middle Ages, not in rural France just before the Revolution, as the physical and mental condition of the operators in the great manufacturing cities and in the vast reeking slums of London. The political economists have made England the world's great workshop, on the theory that wealth is the greatest good in life, and that with the golden streams flowing into England from a tributary world, wages would rise, food be cheap, employment constant. The horrible result to humanity is one of the exceptions to the general uplift of the race, not paralleled as yet by anything in this country, but to be taken note of as a possible outcome of any material civilization, and fit to set us thinking whether we have not got on a wrong track. Mr. Froude, fresh from a sight of the misery of industrial England, and borne straight on toward Australia over a vast ocean, through calm and storm, by a great steamer,—horses of fire yoked to a sea-chariot,—exclaims: “What, after all, have these wonderful achievements done to elevate human nature? Human nature remains as it was. Science grows, but morality is stationary, and art is vulgarized. Not here lie the 'things necessary to salvation,' not the things which can give to human life grace, or beauty, or dignity.”

In the United States, with its open opportunities, abundant land, where the condition of the laboring class is better actually and in possibility than it ever was in history, and where there is little poverty except that which is inevitably the accompaniment of human weakness and crime, the prevailing discontent seems groundless. But of course an agitation so widespread, so much in earnest, so capable of evoking sacrifice, even to the verge of starvation and the risk of life, must have some reason in human nature. Even an illusion—and men are as ready to die for an illusion as for a reality—cannot exist without a cause.

Now, content does not depend so much upon a man's actual as his relative condition. Often it is not so much what I need, as what others have that disturbs me. I should be content to walk from Boston to New York, and be a fortnight on the way, if everybody else was obliged to walk who made that journey. It becomes a hardship when my neighbor is whisked over the route in six hours and I have to walk. It would still be a hardship if he attained the ability to go in an hour, when I was only able to accomplish the distance in six hours. While there has been a tremendous uplift all along the line of material conditions, and the laboring man who is sober and industrious has comforts and privileges in his daily life which the rich man who was sober and industrious did not enjoy a hundred years ago, the relative position of the rich man and the poor man has not greatly changed. It is true, especially in the United States, that the poor have become rich and the rich poor, but inequality of condition is about as marked as it was before the invention of labor-saving machinery, and though workingmen are better off in many ways, the accumulation of vast fortunes, acquired often in brutal disregard of humanity, marks the contrast of conditions perhaps more emphatically than it ever appeared before. That this inequality should continue in an era of universal education, universal suffrage, universal locomotion, universal emancipation from nearly all tradition, is a surprise, and a perfectly comprehensible cause of discontent. It is axiomatic that all men are created equal. But, somehow, the problem does not work out in the desired actual equality of conditions. Perhaps it can be forced to the right conclusion by violence.

It ought to be said, as to the United States, that a very considerable part of the discontent is imported, it is not native, nor based on any actual state of things existing here. Agitation has become a business. A great many men and some women, to whom work of any sort is distasteful, live by it. Some of them are refugees from military or political despotism, some are refugees from justice, some from the lowest conditions of industrial slavery. When they come here, they assume that the hardships they have come away to escape exist here, and they begin agitating against them. Their business is to so mix the real wrongs of our social life with imaginary hardships, and to heighten the whole with illusory and often debasing theories, that discontent will be engendered. For it is by means of that only that they live. It requires usually a great deal of labor, of organization, of oratory to work up this discontent so that it is profitable. The solid workingmen of America who know the value of industry and thrift, and have confidence in the relief to be obtained from all relievable wrongs by legitimate political or other sedate action, have no time to give to the leadership of agitations which require them to quit work, and destroy industries, and attack the social order upon which they depend. The whole case, you may remember, was embodied thousands of years ago in a parable, which Jotham, standing on the top of Mount Gerizim, spoke to the men of Shechem:

“The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive-tree, 'Reign thou over us.'

“But the olive-tree said unto them, 'Should I leave my fatness wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?'

“And the trees said to the fig-tree, 'Come thou and reign over us.'

“But the fig-tree said unto them, 'Should I forsake my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?'

“Then said the trees unto the vine, 'Come thou and reign over us.'

“And the vine said unto them, 'Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?'

“Then said the trees unto the bramble, 'Come thou and reign over us.'

“And the bramble said to the trees, 'If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow; and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'”

In our day a conflagration of the cedars of Lebanon has been the only result of the kingship of the bramble.

In the opinion of many, our universal education is one of the chief causes of the discontent. This might be true and not be an argument against education, for a certain amount of discontent is essential to self-development and if, as we believe, the development of the best powers of every human being is a good in itself, education ought not to be held responsible for the evils attending a transitional period. Yet we cannot ignore the danger, in the present stage, of an education that is necessarily superficial, that engenders conceit of knowledge and power, rather than real knowledge and power, and that breeds in two-thirds of those who have it a distaste for useful labor. We believe in education; but there must be something wrong in an education that sets so many people at odds with the facts of life, and, above all, does not furnish them with any protection against the wildest illusions. There is something wanting in the education that only half educates people.

Whether there is the relation of cause and effect between the two I do not pretend to say, but universal and superficial education in this country has been accompanied with the most extraordinary delusions and the evolution of the wildest theories. It is only necessary to refer, by way of illustration, to the greenback illusion, and to the whole group of spiritualistic disturbances and psychological epidemics. It sometimes seems as if half the American people were losing the power to apply logical processes to the ordinary affairs of life.

In studying the discontent in this country which takes the form of a labor movement, one is at first struck by its illogical aspects. So far as it is an organized attempt to better the condition of men by association of interests it is consistent. But it seems strange that the doctrine of individualism should so speedily have an outcome in a personal slavery, only better in the sense that it is voluntary, than that which it protested against. The revolt from authority, the assertion of the right of private judgment, has been pushed forward into a socialism which destroys individual liberty of action, or to a state of anarchy in which the weak would have no protection. I do not imagine that the leaders who preach socialism, who live by agitation and not by labor, really desire to overturn the social order and bring chaos. If social chaos came, their occupation would be gone, for if all men were reduced to a level, they would be compelled to scratch about with the rest for a living. They live by agitation, and they are confident that government will be strong enough to hold things together, so that they can continue agitation.

The strange thing is that their followers who live by labor and expect to live by it, and believe in the doctrine of individualism, and love liberty of action, should be willing to surrender their discretion to an arbitrary committee, and should expect that liberty of action would be preserved if all property were handed over to the State, which should undertake to regulate every man's time, occupation, wages, and so on. The central committee or authority, or whatever it might be called, would be an extraordinary despotism, tempered only by the idea that it could be overturned every twenty-four hours. But what security would there be for any calculations in life in a state of things in expectation of a revolution any moment? Compared with the freedom of action in such a government as ours, any form of communism is an iniquitous and meddlesome despotism. In a less degree an association to which a man surrenders the right to say when, where, and for how much he shall work, is a despotism, and when it goes further and attempts to put a pressure on all men outside of the association, so that they are free neither to work nor to hire the workmen they choose, it is an extraordinary tyranny. It almost puts in the shade Mexican or Russian personal government. A demand is made upon a railway company that it shall discharge a certain workman because and only because he is not a member of the union. The company refuses. Then a distant committee orders a strike on that road, which throws business far and wide into confusion, and is the cause of heavy loss to tens of thousands who have no interest in any association of capital or labor, many of whom are ruined by this violence. Some of the results of this surrender of personal liberty are as illegal as illogical.

The boycott is a conspiracy to injure another person, and as such indictable at common law. A strike, if a conspiracy only to raise wages or to reduce hours of labor, may not be indictable, if its object cannot be shown to be the injury of another, though that may be incidentally its effect. But in its incidents, such as violence, intimidation, and in some cases injury to the public welfare, it often becomes an indictable offense. The law of conspiracy is the most ill-defined branch of jurisprudence, but it is safe to say of the boycott and the strike that they both introduce an insupportable element of tyranny, of dictation, of interference, into private life. If they could be maintained, society would be at the mercy of an irresponsible and even secret tribunal.

The strike is illogical. Take the recent experience in this country. We have had a long season of depression, in which many earned very little and labor sought employment in vain. In the latter part of winter the prospect brightened, business revived, orders for goods poured in to all the factories in the country, and everybody believed that we were on the eve of a very prosperous season. This was the time taken to order strikes, and they were enforced in perhaps a majority of cases against the wishes of those who obeyed the order, and who complained of no immediate grievance. What men chiefly wanted was the opportunity to work. The result has been to throw us all back into the condition of stagnation and depression. Many people are ruined, an immense amount of capital which ventured into enterprises is lost, but of course the greatest sufferers are the workingmen themselves.

The methods of violence suggested by the communists and anarchists are not remedial. Real difficulties exist, but these do not reach them. The fact is that people in any relations incur mutual obligations, and the world cannot go on without a recognition of duties as well as rights. We all agree that every man has a right to work for whom he pleases, and to quit the work if it does not or the wages do not suit him. On the other hand, a man has a right to hire whom he pleases, pay such wages as he thinks he can afford, and discharge men who do not suit him. But when men come together in the relation of employer and employed, other considerations arise. A man has capital which, instead of loaning at interest or locking up in real estate or bonds, he puts into a factory. In other words, he unlocks it for the benefit partly of men who want wages. He has the expectation of making money, of making more than he could by lending his money. Perhaps he will be disappointed, for a common experience is the loss of capital thus invested. He hires workmen at certain wages. On the strength of this arrangement, he accepts orders and makes contracts for the delivery of goods. He may make money one year and lose the next. It is better for the workman that he should prosper, for the fund of capital accumulated is that upon which they depend to give them wages in a dull time. But some day when he is in a corner with orders, and his rivals are competing for the market, and labor is scarce, his men strike on him.

Conversely, take the workman settled down to work in the mill, at the best wages attainable at the time. He has a house and family. He has given pledges to society. His employer has incurred certain duties in regard to him by the very nature of their relations. Suppose the workman and his family cannot live in any comfort on the wages he receives. The employer is morally bound to increase the wages if he can. But if, instead of sympathizing with the situation of his workman, he forms a combination with all the mills of his sort, and reduces wages merely to increase his gains, he is guilty of an act as worthy of indictment as the strike. I do not see why a conspiracy against labor is not as illegal as a conspiracy against capital. The truth is, the possession of power by men or associations makes them selfish and generally cruel. Few employers consider anything but the arithmetic of supply and demand in fixing wages, and workingmen who have the power, tend to act as selfishly as the male printers used to act in striking in an establishment which dared to give employment to women typesetters. It is of course sentimental to say it, but I do not expect we shall ever get on with less friction than we have now, until men recognize their duties as well as their rights in their relations with each other.

In running over some of the reasons for the present discontent, and the often illogical expression of it, I am far from saying anything against legitimate associations for securing justice and fair play. Disassociated labor has generally been powerless against accumulated capital. Of course, organized labor, getting power will use its power (as power is always used) unjustly and tyrannically. It will make mistakes, it will often injure itself while inflicting general damage. But with all its injustice, with all its surrender of personal liberty, it seeks to call the attention of the world to certain hideous wrongs, to which the world is likely to continue selfishly indifferent unless rudely shaken out of its sense of security. Some of the objects proposed by these associations are chimerical, but the agitation will doubtless go on until another element is introduced into work and wages than mere supply and demand. I believe that some time it will be impossible that a woman shall be forced to make shirts at six cents apiece, with the gaunt figures of starvation or a life of shame waiting at the door. I talked recently with the driver of a street-car in a large city. He received a dollar and sixty cents a day. He went on to his platform at eight in the morning, and left it at twelve at night, sixteen hours of continuous labor every day in the week. He had no rest for meals, only snatched what he could eat as he drove along, or at intervals of five or eight minutes at the end of routes. He had no Sunday, no holiday in the year.

Between twelve o'clock at night and eight the next morning he must wash and clean his car. Thus his hours of sleep were abridged. He was obliged to keep an eye on the passengers to see that they put their fares in the box, to be always, responsible for them, that they got on and off without accident, to watch that the rules were enforced, and that collisions and common street dangers were avoided. This mental and physical strain for sixteen consecutive hours, with scant sleep, so demoralized him that he was obliged once in two or three months to hire a substitute and go away to sleep. This is treating a human being with less consideration than the horses receive. He is powerless against the great corporation; if he complains, his place is instantly filled; the public does not care.

Now what I want to say about this case, and that of the woman who makes a shirt for six cents (and these are only types of disregard of human souls and bodies that we are all familiar with), is that if society remains indifferent it must expect that organizations will attempt to right them, and the like wrongs, by ways violent and destructive of the innocent and guilty alike. It is human nature, it is the lesson of history, that real wrongs, unredressed, grow into preposterous demands. Men are much like nature in action; a little disturbance of atmospheric equilibrium becomes a cyclone, a slight break in the levee 'a crevasse with immense destructive power.

In considering the growth of discontent, and of a natural disregard of duties between employers and employed, it is to be noted that while wages in nearly all trades are high, the service rendered deteriorates, less conscience is put into the work, less care to give a fair day's work for a fair day's wages, and that pride in good work is vanishing. This may be in the nature of retaliation for the indifference to humanity taught by a certain school of political economists, but it is, nevertheless, one of the most alarming features of these times. How to cultivate the sympathy of the employers with the employed as men, and how to interest the employed in their work beyond the mere wages they receive, is the double problem.

As the intention of this paper was not to suggest remedies, but only to review some of the causes of discontent, I will only say, as to this double problem, that I see no remedy so long as the popular notion prevails that the greatest good of life is to make money rapidly, and while it is denied that all men who contribute to prosperity ought to share equitably in it. The employed must recognize the necessity of an accumulated fund of capital, and on the other hand the employer must be as anxious to have about him a contented, prosperous community, as to heap up money beyond any reasonable use for it. The demand seems to be reasonable that the employer in a prosperous year ought to share with the workmen the profits beyond a limit that capital, risk, enterprise, and superior skill can legitimately claim; and that on the other hand the workmen should stand by the employer in hard times.

Discontent, then, arises from absurd notions of equality, from natural conditions of inequality, from false notions of education, and from the very patent fact, in this age, that men have been educated into wants much more rapidly than social conditions have been adjusted, or perhaps ever can be adjusted, to satisfy those wants. Beyond all the actual hardship and suffering, there is an immense mental discontent which has to be reckoned with.

This leads me to what I chiefly wanted to say in this paper, to the cause of discontent which seems to me altogether the most serious, altogether the most difficult to deal with. We may arrive at some conception of it, if we consider what it is that the well-to-do, the prosperous, the rich, the educated and cultivated portions of society, most value just now.

If, to take an illustration which is sufficiently remote to give us the necessary perspective, if the political economists, the manufacturers, the traders and aristocracy of England had had chiefly in mind the development of the laboring people of England into a fine type of men and women, full of health and physical vigor, with minds capable of expansion and enjoyment, the creation of decent, happy, and contented homes, would they have reared the industrial fabric we now see there? If they had not put the accumulation of wealth above the good of individual humanity, would they have turned England into a grimy and smoky workshop, commanding the markets of the world by cheap labor, condemning the mass of the people to unrelieved toil and the most squalid and degraded conditions of life in towns, while the land is more and more set apart for the parks and pleasure grounds of the rich? The policy pursued has made England the richest of countries, a land of the highest refinement and luxury for the upper classes, and of the most misery for the great mass of common people. On this point we have but to read the testimony of English writers themselves. It is not necessary to suppose that the political economists were inhuman. They no doubt believed that if England attained this commanding position, the accumulated wealth would raise all classes into better conditions. Their mistake is that of all peoples who have made money their first object. Looked at merely on the material side, you would think that what a philanthropic statesman would desire, who wished a vigorous, prosperous nation, would be a strong and virile population, thrifty and industrious, and not mere slaves of mines and mills, degenerating in their children, year by year, physically and morally. But apparently they have gone upon the theory that it is money, not man, that makes a state.

In the United States, under totally different conditions, and under an economic theory that, whatever its defects on paper, has nevertheless insisted more upon the worth of the individual man, we have had, all the same, a distinctly material development. When foreign critics have commented upon this, upon our superficiality, our commonplaceness, what they are pleased to call the weary level of our mediocrity, upon the raging unrest and race for fortune, and upon the tremendous pace of American life, we have said that this is incident to a new country and the necessity of controlling physical conditions, and of fitting our heterogeneous population to their environment. It is hardly to be expected, we have said, until, we have the leisure that comes from easy circ*mstances and accumulated wealth, that we should show the graces of the highest civilization, in intellectual pursuits. Much of this criticism is ignorant, and to say the best of it, ungracious, considering what we have done in the way of substantial appliances for education, in the field of science, in vast charities, and missionary enterprises, and what we have to show in the diffused refinements of life.

We are already wealthy; we have greater resources and higher credit than any other nation; we have more wealth than any save one; we have vast accumulations of fortune, in private hands and in enormous corporations. There exists already, what could not be said to exist a quarter of a century ago, a class who have leisure. Now what is the object in life of this great, growing class that has money and leisure, what does it chiefly care for? In your experience of society, what is it that it pursues and desires? Is it things of the mind or things of the senses? What is it that interests women, men of fortune, club-men, merchants, and professional men whose incomes give them leisure to follow their inclinations, the young men who have inherited money? Is it political duties, the affairs of state, economic problems, some adjustment of our relations that shall lighten and relieve the wrongs and misery everywhere apparent; is the interest in intellectual pursuits and art (except in a dilettante way dictated for a season by fashion) in books, in the wide range of mental pleasures which make men superior to the accidents of fortune? Or is the interest of this class, for the most part, with some noble exceptions, rather in things grossly material, in what is called pleasure? To come to somewhat vulgar details, is not the growing desire for equipages, for epicurean entertainments, for display, either refined or ostentatious, rivalry in profusion and expense, new methods for killing time, for every imaginable luxury, which is enjoyed partly because it pleases the senses, and partly because it satisfies an ignoble craving for class distinction?

I am not referring to these things as a moralist at all, but simply in their relation to popular discontent. The astonishing growth of luxury and the habit of sensual indulgence are seen everywhere in this country, but are most striking in the city of New York, since the fashion and wealth of the whole country meet there for display and indulgence,—New York, which rivals London and outdoes Paris in sumptuousness. There congregate more than elsewhere idlers, men and women of leisure who have nothing to do except to observe or to act in the spectacle of Vanity Fair. Aside from the display of luxury in the shops, in the streets, in private houses, one is impressed by the number of idle young men and women of fashion.

It is impossible that a workingman who stands upon a metropolitan street corner and observes this Bacchanalian revel and prodigality of expense, should not be embittered by a sense of the inequality of the conditions of life. But this is not the most mischievous effect of the spectacle. It is the example of what these people care for. With all their wealth and opportunities, it seems to him that these select people have no higher object than the pleasures of the senses, and he is taught daily by reiterated example that this is the end and aim of life. When he sees the value the intelligent and the well-to-do set upon material things, and their small regard for intellectual things and the pleasures of the mind, why should he not most passionately desire those things which his more fortunate neighbors put foremost? It is not the sight of a Peter Cooper and his wealth that discontents him, nor the intellectual pursuits of the scholar who uses the leisure his fortune gives him for the higher pleasures of the mind. But when society daily dins upon his senses the lesson that not manhood and high thinking and a contented spirit are the most desirable things, whether one is rich or poor, is he to be blamed for having a wrong notion of what will or should satisfy him? What the well-to-do, the prosperous, are seen to value most in life will be the things most desired by the less fortunate in accumulation. It is not so much the accumulation of money that is mischievous in this country, for the most stupid can see that fortunes are constantly shifting hands, but it is the use that is made of the leisure and opportunity that money brings.

Another observation, which makes men discontented with very slow accumulation, is that apparently, in the public estimation it does not make much difference whether a man acquires wealth justly or unjustly. If he only secures enough, he is a power, he has social position, he grasps the high honors and places in the state. The fact is that the toleration of men who secure wealth by well known dishonest and sharp practices is a chief cause of the demoralization of the public conscience.

However the lines social and political may be drawn, we have to keep in mind that nothing in one class can be foreign to any other, and that practically one philosophy underlies all the movements of an age. If our philosophy is material, resulting in selfish ethics, all our energies will have a materialistic tendency. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that, in a time when making money is the chief object, if it is not reckoned the chief good, our education should all tend to what is called practical, that is, to that which can be immediately serviceable in some profitable occupation of life, to the neglect of those studies which are only of use in training the intellect and cultivating and broadening the higher intelligence. To this purely material and utilitarian idea of life, the higher colleges and universities everywhere are urged to conform themselves. Thus is the utilitarian spirit eating away the foundations of a higher intellectual life, applying to everything a material measure. In proportion as scholars yield to it, they are lowering the standard of what is most to be desired in human life, acting in perfect concert with that spirit which exalts money making as the chief good, which makes science itself the slave of the avaricious and greedy, and fills all the world with discontented and ignoble longing. We do not need to be told that if we neglect pure science for the pursuit of applied science only, applied science will speedily be degraded and unfruitful; and it is just as true that if we pursue knowledge only for the sake of gain, and not for its own sake, knowledge will lose the power it has of satisfying the higher needs of the human soul. If we are seen to put only a money value on the higher education, why should not the workingman, who regards it only as a distinction of class or privilege, estimate it by what he can see of its practical results in making men richer, or bringing him more pleasure of the senses?

The world is ruled by ideas, by abstract thought. Society, literature, art, politics, in any given age are what the prevailing system of philosophy makes them. We recognize this clearly in studying any past period. We see, for instance, how all the currents of human life changed upon the adoption of the inductive method; no science, no literature, no art, practical or fine, no person, inquiring scholar, day laborer, trader, sailor, fine lady or humblest housekeeper, escaped the influence. Even though the prevailing ethics may teach that every man's highest duty is to himself, we cannot escape community of sympathy and destiny in this cold-blooded philosophy.

No social or political movement stands by itself. If we inquire, we shall find one preponderating cause underlying every movement of the age. If the utilitarian spirit is abroad, it accounts for the devotion to the production of wealth, and to the consequent separation of classes and the discontent, and it accounts also for the demand that all education shall be immediately useful. I was talking the other day with a lady who was doubting what sort of an education to give her daughter, a young girl of exceedingly fine mental capacity. If she pursued a classical course, she would, at the age of twenty-one, know very little of the sciences. And I said, why not make her an intellectual woman? At twenty-one, with a trained mind, all knowledges are at one's feet.

If anything can correct the evils of devotion to money, it seems to me that it is the production of intellectual men and women, who will find other satisfactions in life than those of the senses. And when labor sees what it is that is really most to be valued, its discontent will be of a nobler kind.


By Charles Dudley Warner

At the close of the war for the Union about five millions of negroes were added to the citizenship of the United States. By the census of 1890 this number had become over seven and a half millions. I use the word negro because the descriptive term black or colored is not determinative. There are many varieties of negroes among the African tribes, but all of them agree in certain physiological if not psychological characteristics, which separate them from all other races of mankind; whereas there are many races, black or colored, like the Abyssinian, which have no other negro traits.

It is also a matter of observation that the negro traits persist in recognizable manifestations, to the extent of occasional reversions, whatever may be the mixture of a white race. In a certain degree this persistence is true of all races not come from an historic common stock.

In the political reconstruction the negro was given the ballot without any requirements of education or property. This was partly a measure of party balance of power; and partly from a concern that the negro would not be secure in his rights as a citizen without it, and also upon the theory that the ballot is an educating influence.

This sudden transition and shifting of power was resented at the South, resisted at first, and finally it has generally been evaded. This was due to a variety of reasons or prejudices, not all of them creditable to a generous desire for the universal elevation of mankind, but one of them the historian will judge adequate to produce the result. Indeed, it might have been foreseen from the beginning. This reconstruction measure was an attempt to put the superior part of the community under the control of the inferior, these parts separated by all the prejudices of race, and by traditions of mastership on the one side and of servitude on the other. I venture to say that it was an experiment that would have failed in any community in the United States, whether it was presented as a piece of philanthropy or of punishment.

A necessary sequence to the enfranchisem*nt of the negro was his education. However limited our idea of a proper common education may be, it is a fundamental requisite in our form of government that every voter should be able to read and write. A recognition of this truth led to the establishment in the South of public schools for the whites and blacks, in short, of a public school system. We are not to question the sincerity and generousness of this movement, however it may have halted and lost enthusiasm in many localities.

This opportunity of education (found also in private schools) was hailed by the negroes, certainly, with enthusiasm. It cannot be doubted that at the close of the war there was a general desire among the freedmen to be instructed in the rudiments of knowledge at least. Many parents, especially women, made great sacrifices to obtain for their children this advantage which had been denied to themselves. Many youths, both boys and girls, entered into it with a genuine thirst for knowledge which it was pathetic to see.

But it may be questioned, from developments that speedily followed, whether the mass of negroes did not really desire this advantage as a sign of freedom, rather than from a wish for knowledge, and covet it because it had formerly been the privilege of their masters, and marked a broad distinction between the races. It was natural that this should be so, when they had been excluded from this privilege by pains and penalties, when in some States it was one of the gravest offenses to teach a negro to read and write. This prohibition was accounted for by the peculiar sort of property that slavery created, which would become insecure if intelligent, for the alphabet is a terrible disturber of all false relations in society.

But the effort at education went further than the common school and the primary essential instruction. It introduced the higher education. Colleges usually called universities—for negroes were established in many Southern States, created and stimulated by the generosity of Northern men and societies, and often aided by the liberality of the States where they existed. The curriculum in these was that in colleges generally,—the classics, the higher mathematics, science, philosophy, the modern languages, and in some instances a certain technical instruction, which was being tried in some Northern colleges. The emphasis, however, was laid on liberal culture. This higher education was offered to the mass that still lacked the rudiments of intellectual training, in the belief that education—the education of the moment, the education of superimposed information, can realize the theory of universal equality.

This experiment has now been in operation long enough to enable us to judge something of its results and its promises for the future. These results are of a nature to lead us seriously to inquire whether our effort was founded upon an adequate knowledge of the negro, of his present development, of the requirements for his personal welfare and evolution in the scale of civilization, and for his training in useful and honorable citizenship. I am speaking of the majority, the mass to be considered in any general scheme, and not of the exceptional individuals —exceptions that will rapidly increase as the mass is lifted—who are capable of taking advantage to the utmost of all means of cultivation, and who must always be provided with all the opportunities needed.

Millions of dollars have been invested in the higher education of the negro, while this primary education has been, taking the whole mass, wholly inadequate to his needs. This has been upon the supposition that the higher would compel the rise of the lower with the undeveloped negro race as it does with the more highly developed white race. An examination of the soundness of this expectation will not lead us far astray from our subject.

The evolution of a race, distinguishing it from the formation of a nation, is a slow process. We recognize a race by certain peculiar traits, and by characteristics which slowly change. They are acquired little by little in an evolution which, historically, it is often difficult to trace. They are due to the environment, to the discipline of life, and to what is technically called education. These work together to make what is called character, race character, and it is this which is transmitted from generation to generation. Acquirements are not hereditary, like habits and peculiarities, physical or mental. A man does not transmit to his descendants his learning, though he may transmit the aptitude for it. This is illustrated in factories where skilled labor is handed down and fixed in the same families, that is, where the same kind of labor is continued from one generation to another. The child, put to work, has not the knowledge of the parent, but a special aptitude in his skill and dexterity. Both body and mind have acquired certain transmissible traits. The same thing is seen on a larger scale in a whole nation, like the Japanese, who have been trained into what seems an art instinct.

It is this character, quality, habit, the result of a slow educational process, which distinguishes one race from another. It is this that the race transmits, and not the more or less accidental education of a decade or an era. The Brahmins carry this idea into the next life, and say that the departing spirit carries with him nothing except this individual character, no acquirements or information or extraneous culture. It was perhaps in the same spirit that the sad preacher in Ecclesiastes said there is no “knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.”

It is by this character that we classify civilized and even semi-civilized races; by this slowly developed fibre, this slow accumulation of inherent quality in the evolution of the human being from lower to higher, that continues to exist notwithstanding the powerful influence of governments and religions. We are understood when we speak of the French, the Italian, the Pole, the Spanish, the English, the German, the Arab race, the Japanese, and so on. It is what a foreign writer calls, not inaptly, a collective race soul. As it is slow in evolution, it is persistent in enduring.

Further, we recognize it as a stage of progress, historically necessary in the development of man into a civilized adaptation to his situation in this world. It is a process that cannot be much hurried, and a result that cannot be leaped to out of barbarism by any superimposition of knowledge or even quickly by any change of environment. We may be right in our modern notion that education has a magical virtue that can work any kind of transformation; but we are certainly not right in supposing that it can do this instantly, or that it can work this effect upon a barbarous race in the same period of time that it can upon one more developed, one that has acquired at least a race consciousness.

Before going further, and in order to avoid misunderstanding, it is proper to say that I have the firmest belief in the ultimate development of all mankind into a higher plane than it occupies now. I should otherwise be in despair. This faith will never desist in the effort to bring about the end desired.

But, if we work with Providence, we must work in the reasonable ways of Providence, and add to our faith patience.

It seems to be the rule in all history that the elevation of a lower race is effected only by contact with one higher in civilization. Both reform and progress come from exterior influences. This is axiomatic, and applies to the fields of government, religion, ethics, art, and letters.

We have been taught to regard Africa as a dark, stolid continent, unawakened, unvisited by the agencies and influences that have transformed the world from age to age. Yet it was in northern and northeastern Africa that within historic periods three of the most powerful and brilliant civilizations were developed,—the Egyptian, the Carthaginian, the Saracenic. That these civilizations had more than a surface contact with the interior, we know. To take the most ancient of them, and that which longest endured, the Egyptian, the Pharaohs carried their conquests and their power deep into Africa. In the story of their invasions and occupancy of the interior, told in pictures on temple walls, we find the negro figuring as captive and slave. This contact may not have been a fruitful one for the elevation of the negro, but it proves that for ages he was in one way or another in contact with a superior civilization. In later days we find little trace of it in the home of the negro, but in Egypt the negro has left his impress in the mixed blood of the Nile valley.

The most striking example of the contact of the negro with a higher civilization is in the powerful medieval empire of Songhay, established in the heart of the negro country. The vast strip of Africa lying north of the equator and south of the twentieth parallel and west of the upper Nile was then, as it is now, the territory of tribes distinctly described as Negro. The river Niger, running northward from below Jenne to near Timbuctoo, and then turning west and south to the Gulf of Guinea, flows through one of the richest valleys in the world. In richness it is comparable to that of the Nile and, like that of the Nile, its fertility depends upon the water of the central stream. Here arose in early times the powerful empire of Songhay, which disintegrated and fell into tribal confusion about the middle of the seventeenth century. For a long time the seat of its power was the city of Jenne; in later days it was Timbuctoo.

This is not the place to enlarge upon this extraordinary piece of history. The best account of the empire of Songhay is to be found in the pages of Barth, the German traveler, who had access to what seemed to him a credible Arab history. Considerable light is thrown upon it by a recent volume on Timbuctoo by M. Dubois, a French traveler. M. Dubois finds reason to believe that the founders of the Songhese empire came from Yemen, and sought refuge from Moslem fanaticism in Central Africa some hundred and fifty years after the Hejira. The origin of the empire is obscure, but the development was not indigenous. It seems probable that the settlers, following traders, penetrated to the Niger valley from the valley of the Nile as early as the third or fourth century of our era. An evidence of this early influence, which strengthened from century to century, Dubois finds in the architecture of Jenne and Timbuctoo. It is not Roman or Saracenic or Gothic, it is distinctly Pharaonic. But whatever the origin of the Songhay empire, it became in time Mohammedan, and so continued to the end. Mohammedanism seems, however, to have been imposed. Powerful as the empire was, it was never free from tribal insurrection and internal troubles. The highest mark of negro capacity developed in this history is, according to the record examined by Barth, that one of the emperors was a negro.

From all that can be gathered in the records, the mass of the negroes, which constituted the body of this empire, remained pagan, did not become, except in outward conformity, Mohammedan and did not take the Moslem civilization as it was developed elsewhere, and that the disintegration of the empire left the negro races practically where they were before in point of development. This fact, if it is not overturned by further search, is open to the explanation that the Moslem civilization is not fitted to the development of the African negro.

Contact, such as it has been, with higher civilizations, has not in all these ages which have witnessed the wonderful rise and development of other races, much affected or changed the negro. He is much as he would be if he had been left to himself. And left to himself, even in such a favorable environment as America, he is slow to change. In Africa there has been no progress in organization, government, art.

No negro tribe has ever invented a written language. In his exhaustive work on the History of Mankind, Professor Frederick Ratzel, having studied thoroughly the negro belt of Africa, says “of writing properly so called, neither do the modern negroes show any trace, nor have traces of older writing been found in negro countries.”

From this outline review we come back to the situation in the United States, where a great mass of negroes—possibly over nine millions of many shades of colors—is for the first time brought into contact with Christian civilization. This mass is here to make or mar our national life, and the problem of its destiny has to be met with our own. What can we do, what ought we to do, for his own good and for our peace and national welfare?

In the first place, it is impossible to escape the profound impression that we have made a mistake in our estimate of his evolution as a race, in attempting to apply to him the same treatment for the development of character that we would apply to a race more highly organized. Has he developed the race consciousness, the race soul, as I said before, a collective soul, which so strongly marks other races more or less civilized according to our standards? Do we find in him, as a mass (individuals always excepted), that slow deposit of training and education called “character,” any firm basis of order, initiative of action, the capacity of going alone, any sure foundation of morality? It has been said that a race may attain a good degree of standing in the world without the refinement of culture, but never without virtue, either in the Roman or the modern meaning of that word.

The African, now the American negro, has come in the United States into a more favorable position for development than he has ever before had offered. He has come to it through hardship, and his severe apprenticeship is not ended. It is possible that the historians centuries hence, looking back over the rough road that all races have traveled in their evolution, may reckon slavery and the forced transportation to the new world a necessary step in the training of the negro. We do not know. The ways of Providence are not measurable by our foot rules. We see that slavery was unjust, uneconomic, and the worst training for citizenship in such a government as ours. It stifled a number of germs that might have produced a better development, such as individuality, responsibility, and thrift,—germs absolutely necessary to the well-being of a race. It laid no foundation of morality, but in place of morality saw cultivated a superstitious, emotional, hysterical religion. It is true that it taught a savage race subordination and obedience. Nor did it stifle certain inherent temperamental virtues, faithfulness, often highly developed, and frequently cheerfulness and philosophic contentment in a situation that would have broken the spirit of a more sensitive race. In short, under all the disadvantages of slavery the race showed certain fine traits, qualities of humor and good humor, and capacity for devotion, which were abundantly testified to by southerners during the progress of the Civil War. It has, as a race, traits wholly distinct from those of the whites, which are not only interesting, but might be a valuable contribution to a cosmopolitan civilization; gifts also, such as the love of music, and temperamental gayety, mixed with a note of sadness, as in the Hungarians.

But slavery brought about one result, and that the most difficult in the development of a race from savagery, and especially a tropical race, a race that has always been idle in the luxuriance of a nature that supplied its physical needs with little labor. It taught the negro to work, it transformed him, by compulsion it is true, into an industrial being, and held him in the habit of industry for several generations. Perhaps only force could do this, for it was a radical transformation. I am glad to see that this result of slavery is recognized by Mr. Booker Washington, the ablest and most clear-sighted leader the negro race has ever had.

But something more was done under this pressure, something more than creation of a habit of physical exertion to productive ends. Skill was developed. Skilled labor, which needs brains, was carried to a high degree of performance. On almost all the Southern plantations, and in the cities also, negro mechanics were bred, excellent blacksmiths, good carpenters, and house-builders capable of executing plans of high architectural merit. Everywhere were negroes skilled in trades, and competent in various mechanical industries.

The opportunity and the disposition to labor make the basis of all our civilization. The negro was taught to work, to be an agriculturist, a mechanic, a material producer of something useful. He was taught this fundamental thing. Our higher education, applied to him in his present development, operates in exactly the opposite direction.

This is a serious assertion. Its truth or falsehood cannot be established by statistics, but it is an opinion gradually formed by experience, and the observation of men competent to judge, who have studied the problem close at hand. Among the witnesses to the failure of the result expected from the establishment of colleges and universities for the negro are heard, from time to time, and more frequently as time goes on, practical men from the North, railway men, manufacturers, who have initiated business enterprises at the South. Their testimony coincides with that of careful students of the economic and social conditions.

There was reason to assume, from our theory and experience of the higher education in its effect upon white races, that the result would be different from what it is. When the negro colleges first opened, there was a glow of enthusiasm, an eagerness of study, a facility of acquirement, and a good order that promised everything for the future. It seemed as if the light then kindled would not only continue to burn, but would penetrate all the dark and stolid communities. It was my fortune to see many of these institutions in their early days, and to believe that they were full of the greatest promise for the race. I have no intention of criticising the generosity and the noble self-sacrifice that produced them, nor the aspirations of their inmates. There is no doubt that they furnish shining examples of emancipation from ignorance, and of useful lives. But a few years have thrown much light upon the careers and characters of a great proportion of the graduates, and their effect upon the communities of which they form a part, I mean, of course, with regard to the industrial and moral condition of those communities. Have these colleges, as a whole,—[This sentence should have been further qualified by acknowledging the excellent work done by the colleges at Atlanta and Nashville, which, under exceptionally good management, have sent out much-needed teachers. I believe that their success, however, is largely owing to their practical features.—C.D.W.]—stimulated industry, thrift, the inclination to settle down to the necessary hard work of the world, or have they bred idleness, indisposition to work, a vaporous ambition in politics, and that sort of conceit of gentility of which the world has already enough? If any one is in doubt about this he can satisfy himself by a sojourn in different localities in the South. The condition of New Orleans and its negro universities is often cited. It is a favorable example, because the ambition of the negro has been aided there by influence outside of the schools. The federal government has imposed upon the intelligent and sensitive population negro officials in high positions, because they were negroes and not because they were specially fitted for those positions by character or ability. It is my belief that the condition of the race in New Orleans is lower than it was several years ago, and that the influence of the higher education has been in the wrong direction.

This is not saying that the higher education is responsible for the present condition of the negro.

Other influences have retarded his elevation and the development of proper character, and most important means have been neglected. I only say that we have been disappointed in our extravagant expectations of what this education could do for a race undeveloped, and so wanting in certain elements of character, and that the millions of money devoted to it might have been much better applied.

We face a grave national situation. It cannot be successfully dealt with sentimentally. It should be faced with knowledge and candor. We must admit our mistakes, both social and political, and set about the solution of our problem with intelligent resolution and a large charity. It is not simply a Southern question. It is a Northern question as well. For the truth of this I have only to appeal to the consciousness of all Northern communities in which there are negroes in any considerable numbers. Have the negroes improved, as a rule (always remembering the exceptions), in thrift, truthfulness, morality, in the elements of industrious citizenship, even in States and towns where there has been the least prejudice against their education? In a paper read at the last session of this Association, Professor W. F. Willcox of Cornell University showed by statistics that in proportion to population there were more negro criminals in the North than in the South. “The negro prisoners in the Southern States to ten thousand negroes increased between 1880 and 1890 twenty-nine per cent., while the white prisoners to ten thousand whites increased only eight per cent.” “In the States where slavery was never established, the white prisoners increased seven per cent. faster than the white population, while the negro prisoners no less than thirty-nine per cent. faster than the negro population. Thus the increase of negro criminality, so far as it is reflected in the number of prisoners, exceeded the increase of white criminality more in the North than it did in the South.”

This statement was surprising. It cannot be accounted for by color prejudice at the North; it is related to the known shiftlessness and irresponsibility of a great portion of the negro population. If it could be believed that this shiftlessness is due to the late state of slavery, the explanation would not do away with the existing conditions. Schools at the North have for a long time been open to the negro; though color prejudice exists, he has not been on the whole in an unfriendly atmosphere, and willing hands have been stretched out to help him in his ambition to rise. It is no doubt true, as has been often said lately, that the negro at the North has been crowded out of many occupations by more vigorous races, newly come to this country, crowded out not only of factory industries and agricultural, but of the positions of servants, waiters, barbers, and other minor ways of earning a living. The general verdict is that this loss of position is due to lack of stamina and trustworthiness. Wherever a negro has shown himself able, honest, attentive to the moral and economic duties of a citizen, either successful in accumulating property or filling honorably his station in life, he has gained respect and consideration in the community in which he is known; and this is as true at the South as at the North, notwithstanding the race antagonism is more accentuated by reason of the preponderance of negro population there and the more recent presence of slavery. Upon this ugly race antagonism it is not necessary to enlarge here in discussing the problem of education, and I will leave it with the single observation that I have heard intelligent negroes, who were honestly at work, accumulating property and disposed to postpone active politics to a more convenient season, say that they had nothing to fear from the intelligent white population, but only from the envy of the ignorant.

The whole situation is much aggravated by the fact that there is a considerable infusion of white blood in the negro race in the United States, leading to complications and social aspirations that are infinitely pathetic. Time only and no present contrivance of ours can ameliorate this condition.

I have made this outline of our negro problem in no spirit of pessimism or of prejudice, but in the belief that the only way to remedy an evil or a difficulty is candidly and fundamentally to understand it. Two things are evident: First, the negro population is certain to increase in the United States, in a ratio at least equal to that of the whites. Second, the South needs its labor. Its deportation is an idle dream. The only visible solution is for the negro to become an integral and an intelligent part of the industrial community. The way may be long, but he must work his way up. Sympathetic aid may do much, but the salvation of the negro is in his own hands, in the development of individual character and a race soul. This is fully understood by his wisest leaders. His worst enemy is the demagogue who flatters him with the delusion that all he needs for his elevation is freedom and certain privileges that were denied him in slavery.

In all the Northern cities heroic efforts are made to assimilate the foreign population by education and instruction in Americanism. In the South, in the city and on plantation, the same effort is necessary for the negro, but it must be more radical and fundamental. The common school must be as fully sustained and as far reaching as it is in the North, reaching the lowest in the city slums and the most ignorant in the agricultural districts, but to its strictly elemental teaching must be added moral instructions, and training in industries and in habits of industry. Only by such rudimentary and industrial training can the mass of the negro race in the United States be expected to improve in character and position. A top-dressing of culture on a field with no depth of soil may for a moment stimulate the promise of vegetation, but no fruit will be produced. It is a gigantic task, and generations may elapse before it can in any degree be relaxed.

Why attempt it? Why not let things drift as they are? Why attempt to civilize the race within our doors, while there are so many distant and alien races to whom we ought to turn our civilizing attention? The answer is simple and does not need elaboration. A growing ignorant mass in our body politic, inevitably cherishing bitterness of feeling, is an increasing peril to the public.

In order to remove this peril, by transforming the negro into an industrial, law-abiding citizen, identified with the prosperity of his country, the cordial assistance of the Southern white population is absolutely essential. It can only be accomplished by regarding him as a man, with the natural right to the development of his capacity and to contentment in a secure social state. The effort for his elevation must be fundamental. The opportunity of the common school must be universal, and attendance in it compulsory. Beyond this, training in the decencies of life, in conduct, and in all the industries, must be offered in such industrial institutions as that of Tuskegee. For the exceptional cases a higher education can be easily provided for those who show themselves worthy of it, but not offered as an indiscriminate panacea.

The question at once arises as to the kind of teachers for these schools of various grades. It is one of the most difficult in the whole problem. As a rule, there is little gain, either in instruction or in elevation of character, if the teacher is not the superior of the taught. The learners must respect the attainments and the authority of the teacher. It is a too frequent fault of our common-school system that, owing to inadequate pay and ignorant selections, the teachers are not competent to their responsible task. The highest skill and attainment are needed to evoke the powers of the common mind, even in a community called enlightened. Much more are they needed when the community is only slightly developed mentally and morally. The process of educating teachers of this race, fit to promote its elevation, must be a slow one. Teachers of various industries, such as agriculture and the mechanic arts, will be more readily trained than teachers of the rudiments of learning in the common schools. It is a very grave question whether, with some exceptions, the school and moral training of the race should not be for a considerable time to come in the control of the white race. But it must be kept in mind that instructors cheap in character, attainments, and breeding will do more harm than good. If we give ourselves to this work, we must give of our best.

Without the cordial concurrence in this effort of all parties, black and white, local and national, it will not be fruitful in fundamental and permanent good. Each race must accept the present situation and build on it. To this end it is indispensable that one great evil, which was inherent in the reconstruction measures and is still persisted in, shall be eliminated. The party allegiance of the negro was bid for by the temptation of office and position for which he was in no sense fit. No permanent, righteous adjustment of relations can come till this policy is wholly abandoned. Politicians must cease to make the negro a pawn in the game of politics.

Let us admit that we have made a mistake. We seem to have expected that we could accomplish suddenly and by artificial Contrivances a development which historically has always taken a long time. Without abatement of effort or loss of patience, let us put ourselves in the common-sense, the scientific, the historic line. It is a gigantic task, only to be accomplished by long labor in accord with the Divine purpose.

 “Thou wilt not leave us in the dust; Thou madest man, he knows not why, He thinks he was not made to die; And thou hast made him; thou art just. “Oh, yet we trust that somehow good Will be the final goal of ill, To pangs of nature, sins of will, Defects of doubt, and taints of blood. “That nothing walks with aimless feet, That not one life shall be destroyed, Or cast as rubbish to the void, When God hath made the pile complete.” 


By Charles Dudley Warner

The problem of dealing with the criminal class seems insolvable, and it undoubtedly is with present methods. It has never been attempted on a fully scientific basis, with due regard to the protection of society and to the interests of the criminal.

It is purely an economic and educational problem, and must rest upon the same principles that govern in any successful industry, or in education, and that we recognize in the conduct of life. That little progress has been made is due to public indifference to a vital question and to the action of sentimentalists, who, in their philanthropic zeal; fancy that a radical reform can come without radical discipline. We are largely wasting our energies in petty contrivances instead of striking at the root of the evil.

What do we mean by the criminal class? It is necessary to define this with some precision, in order to discuss intelligently the means of destroying this class. A criminal is one who violates a statute law, or, as we say, commits a crime. The human law takes cognizance of crime and not of sin. But all men who commit crime are not necessarily in the criminal class. Speaking technically, we put in that class those whose sole occupation is crime, who live by it as a profession, and who have no other permanent industry. They prey upon society. They are by their acts at war upon it, and are outlaws.

The State is to a certain extent responsible for this class, for it has trained most of them, from youth up, through successive detentions in lock-ups, city prisons, county jails, and in State prisons, and penitentiaries on relatively short sentences, under influences which tend to educate them as criminals and confirm them in a bad life. That is to say, if a man once violates the law and is caught, he is put into a machine from which it is very difficult for him to escape without further deterioration. It is not simply that the State puts a brand on him in the eyes of the community, but it takes away his self-respect without giving him an opportunity to recover it. Once recognized as in the criminal class, he has no further concern about the State than that of evading its penalties so far as is consistent with pursuing his occupation of crime.

To avoid misunderstanding as to the subject of this paper, it is necessary to say that it is not dealing with the question of prison reform in its whole extent. It attempts to consider only a pretty well defined class. But in doing this it does not say that other aspects of our public peril from crime are not as important as this. We cannot relax our efforts in regard to the relations of poverty, drink, and unsanitary conditions, as leading to crime. We have still to take care of the exposed children, of those with parentage and surroundings inclining to crime, of the degenerate and the unfortunate. We have to keep up the warfare all along the line against the demoralization of society. But we have hereto deal with a specific manifestation; we have to capture a stronghold, the possession of which will put us in much better position to treat in detail the general evil.

Why should we tolerate any longer a professional criminal class? It is not large. It is contemptibly small compared with our seventy millions of people. If I am not mistaken, a late estimate gave us less than fifty thousand persons in our State prisons and penitentiaries. If we add to them those at large who have served one or two terms, and are generally known to the police, we shall not have probably more than eighty thousand of the criminal class. But call it a hundred thousand. It is a body that seventy millions of people ought to take care of with little difficulty. And we certainly ought to stop its increase. But we do not. The class grows every day. Those who watch the criminal reports are alarmed by the fact that an increasing number of those arrested for felonies are discharged convicts. This is an unmistakable evidence of the growth of the outlaw classes.

But this is not all. Our taxes are greatly increased on account of this class. We require more police to watch those who are at large and preying on society. We expend more yearly for apprehending and trying those caught, for the machinery of criminal justice, and for the recurring farce of imprisoning on short sentences and discharging those felons to go on with their work of swindling and robbing. It would be good economy for the public, considered as a taxpayer, to pay for the perpetual keep of these felons in secure confinement.

And still this is not the worst. We are all living in abject terror of these licensed robbers. We fear robbery night and day; we live behind bolts and bars (which should be reserved for the criminal) and we are in hourly peril of life and property in our homes and on the highways. But the evil does not stop here. By our conduct we are encouraging the growth of the criminal class, and we are inviting disregard of law, and diffusing a spirit of demoralization throughout the country.

I have spoken of the criminal class as very limited; that is, the class that lives by the industry of crime alone. But it is not isolated, and it has widespread relations. There is a large portion of our population not technically criminals, which is interested in maintaining this criminal class. Every felon is a part of a vast network of criminality. He has his dependents, his allies, his society of vice, all the various machinery of temptation and indulgence.

It happens, therefore, that there is great sympathy with the career of the lawbreakers, many people are hanging on them for support, and among them the so-called criminal lawyers. Any legislation likely to interfere seriously with the occupation of the criminal class or with its increase is certain to meet with the opposition of a large body of voters. With this active opposition of those interested, and the astonishing indifference of the general public, it is easy to see why so little is done to relieve us of this intolerable burden. The fact is, we go on increasing our expenses for police, for criminal procedure, for jails and prisons, and we go on increasing the criminal class and those affiliated with it.

And what do we gain by our present method? We do not gain the protection of society, and we do not gain the reformation of the criminal. These two statements do not admit of contradiction. Even those who cling to the antiquated notion that the business of society is to punish the offender must confess that in this game society is getting the worst of it. Society suffers all the time, and the professional criminal goes on with his occupation, interrupted only by periods of seclusion, during which he is comfortably housed and fed. The punishment he most fears is being compelled to relinquish his criminal career. The object of punishment for violation of statute law is not vengeance, it is not to inflict injury for injury. Only a few persons now hold to that. They say now that if it does little good to the offender, it is deterrent as to others. Now, is our present system deterrent? The statute law, no doubt, prevents many persons from committing crime, but our method of administering it certainly does not lessen the criminal class, and it does not adequately protect society. Is it not time we tried, radically, a scientific, a disciplinary, a really humanitarian method?

The proposed method is the indeterminate sentence. This strikes directly at the criminal class. It puts that class beyond the power of continuing its depredations upon society. It is truly deterrent, because it is a notification to any one intending to enter upon that method of living that his career ends with his first felony. As to the general effects of the indeterminate sentence, I will repeat here what I recently wrote for the Yale Law Journal:

It is unnecessary to say in a law journal that the indeterminate sentence is a measure as yet untried. The phrase has passed into current speech, and a considerable portion of the public is under the impression that an experiment of the indeterminate sentence is actually being made. It is, however, still a theory, not adopted in any legislation or in practice anywhere in the world. The misconception in regard to this has arisen from the fact that under certain regulations paroles are granted before the expiration of the statutory sentence. An indeterminate sentence is a commitment to prison without any limit. It is exactly such a commitment as the court makes to an asylum of a man who is proved to be insane, and it is paralleled by the practice of sending a sick man to the hospital until he is cured. The introduction of the indeterminate sentence into our criminal procedure would be a radical change in our criminal legislation and practice. The original conception was that the offender against the law should be punished, and that the punishment should be made to fit the crime, an 'opera bouffe' conception which has been abandoned in reasoning though not in practice. Under this conception the criminal code was arbitrarily constructed, so much punishment being set down opposite each criminal offense, without the least regard to the actual guilt of the man as an individual sinner. Within the present century considerable advance has been made in regard to prison reform, especially with reference to the sanitary condition of places of confinement. And besides this, efforts of various kinds have been made with regard to the treatment of convicts, which show that the idea was gaining ground that criminals should be treated as individuals. The application of the English ticket-of-leave system was one of these efforts; it was based upon the notion that, if any criminal showed sufficient evidence of a wish to lead a different life, he should be conditionally released before the expiration of his sentence. The parole system in the United States was an attempt to carry out the same experiment, and with it went along the practice which enabled the prisoner to shorten the time of his confinement by good behavior. In some of the States reformatories have been established to which convicts have been sent under a sort of sliding sentence; that is, with the privilege given to the authorities of the reformatory to retain the offender to the full statutory term for which he might have been sentenced to State prison, unless he had evidently reformed before the expiration of that period. That is to say, if a penal offense entitled the judge to sentence the prisoner for any period from two to fifteen years, he could be kept in the reformatory at the discretion of the authorities for the full statutory term. It is from this law that the public notion of an indeterminate sentence is derived. It is, in fact, determinate, because the statute prescribes its limit. The introduction of the ticket-of-leave and the parole systems, and the earning of time by good behavior were philanthropic suggestions and promising experiments which have not been justified by the results. It is not necessary at this time to argue that no human discretion is adequate to mete out just punishment for crimes; and it has come to be admitted generally, by men enlightened on this subject, that the real basis for dealing with the criminal rests, firstly, upon the right of society to secure itself against the attacks of the vicious, and secondly, upon the duty imposed upon society, to reform the criminal if that is possible. It is patent to the most superficial observation that our present method does not protect society, and does not lessen the number of the criminal class, either by deterrent methods or by reformatory processes, except in a very limited way. Our present method is neither economic nor scientific nor philanthropic. If we consider the well-defined criminal class alone, it can be said that our taxes and expenses for police and the whole criminal court machinery, for dealing with those who are apprehended, and watching those who are preying upon society, yearly increase, while all private citizens in their own houses or in the streets live inconstant terror of the depredations of this class. Considered from the scientific point of view, our method is absolutely crude, and but little advance upon mediaeval conditions; and while it has its sentimental aspects, it is not real philanthropy, because comparatively few of the criminal class are permanently rescued. The indeterminate sentence has two distinct objects: one is the absolute protection of society from the outlaws whose only business in life is to prey upon society; and the second is the placing of these offenders in a position where they can be kept long enough for scientific treatment as decadent human beings, in the belief that their lives can be changed in their purpose. No specific time can be predicted in which a man by discipline can be expected to lay aside his bad habits and put on good habits, because no two human beings are alike, and it is therefore necessary that an indefinite time in each case should be allowed for the experiment of reformation. We have now gone far enough to see that the ticket-of-leave system, the parole system as we administer it in the State prisons (I except now some of the reformatories), and the good conduct method are substantially failures, and must continue to be so until they rest upon the absolute indeterminate sentence. They are worse than failures now, because the public mind is lulled into a false security by them, and efforts at genuine prison reform are defeated. It is very significant that the criminal class adapted itself readily to the parole system with its sliding scale. It was natural that this should be so, for it fits in perfectly well with their scheme of life. This is to them a sort of business career, interrupted now and then only by occasional limited periods of seclusion. Any device that shall shorten those periods is welcome to them. As a matter of fact, we see in the State prisons that the men most likely to shorten their time by good behavior, and to get released on parole before the expiration of their sentence, are the men who make crime their career. They accept this discipline as a part of their lot in life, and it does not interfere with their business any more than the occasional bankruptcy of a merchant interferes with his pursuits. It follows, therefore, that society is not likely to get security for itself, and the criminal class is not likely to be reduced essentially or reformed, without such a radical measure as the indeterminate sentence, which, accompanied, of course, by scientific treatment, would compel the convict to change his course of life, or to stay perpetually in confinement. Of course, the indeterminate sentence would radically change our criminal jurisprudence and our statutory provisions in regard to criminals. It goes without saying that it is opposed by the entire criminal class, and by that very considerable portion of the population which is dependent on or affiliated with the criminal class, which seeks to evade the law and escape its penalties. It is also opposed by a small portion of the legal profession which gets its living out of the criminal class, and it is sure to meet the objection of the sentimentalists who have peculiar notions about depriving a man of his liberty, and it also has to overcome the objections of many who are guided by precedents, and who think the indeterminate sentence would be an infringement of the judicial prerogative. It is well to consider this latter a little further. Our criminal code, artificial and indiscriminating as it is, is the growth of ages and is the result of the notion that society ought to take vengeance upon the criminal, at least that it ought to punish him, and that the judge, the interpreter of the criminal law, was not only the proper person to determine the guilt of the accused, by the aid of the jury, but was the sole person to judge of the amount of punishment he should receive for his crime. Now two functions are involved here: one is the determination that the accused has broken the law, the other is gauging within the rules of the code the punishment that, each individual should receive. It is a theological notion that the divine punishment for sin is somehow delegated to man for the punishment of crime, but it does not need any argument to show that no tribunal is able with justice to mete out punishment in any individual case, for probably the same degree of guilt does not attach to two men in the violation of the same statute, and while, in the rough view of the criminal law, even, one ought to have a severe penalty, the other should be treated with more leniency. All that the judge can do under the indiscriminating provisions of the statute is to make a fair guess at what the man should suffer. Under the present enlightened opinion which sees that not punishment but the protection of society and the good of the criminal are the things to be aimed at, the judge's office would naturally be reduced to the task of determining the guilt of the man on trial, and then the care of him would be turned over to expert treatment, exactly as in a case when the judge determines the fact of a man's insanity. If objection is made to the indeterminate sentence on the ground that it is an unusual or cruel punishment, it may be admitted that it is unusual, but that commitment to detention cannot be called cruel when the convict is given the key to the house in which he is confined. It is for him to choose whether he will become a decent man and go back into society, or whether he will remain a bad man and stay in confinement. For the criminal who is, as we might say, an accidental criminal, or for the criminal who is susceptible to good influences, the term of imprisonment under the indeterminate sentence would be shorter than it would be safe to make it for criminals under the statute. The incorrigible offender, however, would be cut off at once and forever from his occupation, which is, as we said, varied by periodic residence in the comfortable houses belonging to the State. A necessary corollary of the indeterminate sentence is that every State prison and penitentiary should be a reformatory, in the modern meaning of that term. It would be against the interest of society, all its instincts of justice, and the height of cruelty to an individual criminal to put him in prison without limit unless all the opportunities were afforded him for changing his habits radically. It may be said in passing that the indeterminate sentence would be in itself to any man a great stimulus to reform, because his reformation would be the only means of his terminating that sentence. At the same time a man left to himself, even in the best ordered of our State prisons which is not a reformatory, would be scarcely likely to make much improvement. I have not space in this article to consider the character of the reformatory; that subject is fortunately engaging the attention of scientific people as one of the most interesting of our modern problems. To take a decadent human being, a wreck physically and morally, and try to make a man of him, that is an attempt worthy of a people who claim to be civilized. An illustration of what can be done in this direction is furnished by the Elmira Reformatory, where the experiment is being made with most encouraging results, which, of course, would be still better if the indeterminate sentence were brought to its aid. When the indeterminate sentence has been spoken of with a view to legislation, the question has been raised whether it should be applied to prisoners on the first, second, or third conviction of a penal offense. Legislation in regard to the parole system has also considered whether a man should be considered in the criminal class on his first conviction for a penal offense. Without entering upon this question at length, I will suggest that the convict should, for his own sake, have the indeterminate sentence applied to him upon conviction of his first penal offense. He is much more likely to reform then than he would be after he had had a term in the State prison and was again convicted, and the chance of his reformation would be lessened by each subsequent experience of this kind. The great object of the indeterminate sentence, so far as the security of society is concerned, is to diminish the number of the criminal class, and this will be done when it is seen that the first felony a man commits is likely to be his last, and that for a young criminal contemplating this career there is in this direction “no thoroughfare.” By his very first violation of the statute he walks into confinement, to stay there until he has given up the purpose of such a career. In the limits of this paper I have been obliged to confine myself to remarks upon the indeterminate sentence itself, without going into the question of the proper organization of reformatory agencies to be applied to the convict, and without consideration of the means of testing the reformation of a man in any given case. I will only add that the methods at Elmira have passed far beyond the experimental stage in this matter.

The necessary effect of the adoption of the indeterminate sentence for felonies is that every State prison and penitentiary must be a reformatory. The convict goes into it for the term of a year at least (since the criminal law, according to ancient precedent, might require that, and because the discipline of the reformatory would require it as a practical rule), and he stays there until, in the judgment of competent authority, he is fit to be trusted at large.

If he is incapable of reform, he must stay there for his natural life. He is a free agent. He can decide to lead an honest life and have his liberty, or he can elect to work for the State all his life in criminal confinement.

When I say that every State prison is to be a reformatory, I except, of course, from its operation, those sentenced for life for murder, or other capital offenses, and those who have proved themselves incorrigible by repeated violations of their parole.

It is necessary now to consider the treatment in the reformatory. Only a brief outline of it can be given here, with a general statement of the underlying principles. The practical application of these principles can be studied in the Elmira Reformatory of New York, the only prison for felons where the proposed system is carried out with the needed disciplinary severity. In studying Elmira, however, it must be borne in mind that the best effects cannot be obtained there, owing to the lack of the indeterminate sentence. In this institution the convict can only be detained for the maximum term provided in the statute for his offense. When that is reached, the prisoner is released, whether he is reformed or not.

The system of reform under the indeterminate sentence, which for convenience may be called the Elmira system, is scientific, and it must be administered entirely by trained men and by specialists; the same sort of training for the educational and industrial work as is required in a college or an industrial school, and the special fitness required for an alienist in an insane asylum. The discipline of the establishment must be equal to that of a military school.

We have so far advanced in civilization that we no longer think of turning the insane, the sick, the feebleminded, over to the care of men without training chosen by the chance of politics. They are put under specialists for treatment. It is as necessary that convicts should be under the care of specialists, for they are the most difficult and interesting subjects for scientific treatment. If not criminals by heredity, they are largely made so by environment; they are either physical degenerates or they are brutalized by vice. They have lost the power of distinguishing right from wrong; they commonly lack will-power, and so are incapable of changing their habits without external influence. In short, the ordinary criminal is unsound and diseased in mind and body.

To deal with this sort of human decadent is, therefore, the most interesting problem that can be offered to the psychologist, to the physiologist, to the educator, to the believer in the immortality of the soul. He is still a man, not altogether a mere animal, and there is always a possibility that he may be made a decent man, and a law-abiding, productive member of society.

Here, indeed, is a problem worthy of the application of all our knowledge of mind and of matter, of our highest scientific attainments. But it is the same problem that we have in all our education, be it the training of the mind, the development of the body, or the use of both to good ends. And it goes without saying that its successful solution, in a reformatory for criminals, depends upon the character of the man who administers the institution. There must be at the head of it a man of character, of intellectual force, of administrative ability, and all his subordinate officers must be fitted for their special task, exactly as they should be for a hospital, or a military establishment, for a college, or for a school of practical industries. And when such men are demanded, they will be forthcoming, just as they are in any department in life, when a business is to be developed, a great engineering project to be undertaken, or an army to be organized and disciplined.

The development of our railroad system produced a race of great railroad men. The protection of society by the removal and reform of the criminal class, when the public determines upon it, will call into the service a class of men fitted for the great work. We know this is so because already, since the discussion of this question has been current, and has passed into actual experiment, a race of workers and prison superintendents all over the country have come to the front who are entirely capable of administering the reform system under the indeterminate sentence. It is in this respect, and not in the erection of model prisons, that the great advance in penology has been made in the last twenty years. Men of scientific attainment are more and more giving their attention to this problem as the most important in our civilization. And science is ready to take up this problem when the public is tired and ashamed of being any longer harried and bullied and terrorized over by the criminal class.

The note of this reform is discipline, and its success rests upon the law of habit. We are all creatures of habit, physical and mental. Habit is formed by repetition of any action. Many of our physical habits have become automatic. Without entering into a physiological argument, we know that repetition produces habit, and that, if this is long continued, the habit becomes inveterate. We know also that there is a habit, physical and moral, of doing right as well as doing wrong. The criminal has the habit of doing wrong. We propose to submit him to influences that will change that habit. We also know that this is not accomplished by suppressing that habit, but by putting a good one in its place.

It is true in this case that nature does not like a vacuum. The thoughts of men are not changed by leaving them to themselves, they are changed by substituting other thoughts.

The whole theory of the Elmira system is to keep men long enough under a strict discipline to change their habits. This discipline is administered in three ways. They are put to school; they are put at work; they are prescribed minute and severe rules of conduct, and in the latter training is included military drill.

The school and the workshop are both primarily for discipline and the formation of new habits. Only incidentally are the school and the workshop intended to fit a man for an occupation outside of the prison. The whole discipline is to put a man in possession of his faculties, to give him self-respect, to get him in the way of leading a normal and natural life. But it is true that what he acquires by the discipline of study and the discipline of work will be available in his earning an honest living. Keep a man long enough in this three-ply discipline, and he will form permanent habits of well-doing. If he cannot and will not form such habits, his place is in confinement, where he cannot prey upon society.

There is not space here to give the details of the practices at Elmira. They are easily attainable. But I will notice one or two objections that have been made. One is that in the congregate system men necessarily learn evil from each other. This is, of course, an evil. It is here, however, partially overcome by the fact that the inmates are kept so busy in the variety of discipline applied to them that they have little or no time for anything else. They study hard, and are under constant supervision as to conduct. And then their prospect of parole depends entirely upon the daily record they make, and upon their radical change of intention. At night they are separated in their cells. During the day they are associated in class, in the workshop, and in drill, and this association is absolutely necessary to their training. In separation from their fellows, they could not be trained. Fear is expressed that men will deceive their keepers and the board which is to pass upon them, and obtain parole when they do not deserve it. As a matter of fact, men under this discipline cannot successfully play the hypocrite to the experts who watch them. It is only in the ordinary prison where the parole is in use with no adequate discipline, and without the indefinite sentence, that deception can be practiced. But suppose a man does play the hypocrite so as to deceive the officers, who know him as well as any employer knows his workmen or any teacher knows his scholars, and deceives the independent board so as to get a parole. If he violates that parole, he can be remanded to the reformatory, and it will be exceedingly difficult for him to get another parole. And, if he should again violate his parole, he would be considered incorrigible and be placed in a life prison.

We have tried all other means of protecting society, of lessening the criminal class, of reforming the criminal. The proposed indeterminate sentence, with reformatory discipline, is the only one that promises to relieve society of the insolent domination and the terrorism of the criminal class; is the only one that can deter men from making a career of crime; is the only one that offers a fair prospect for the reformation of the criminal offender.

Why not try it? Why not put the whole system of criminal jurisprudence and procedure for the suppression of crime upon a sensible and scientific basis?


By Charles Dudley Warner

This is the first public meeting of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. The original members were selected by an invitation from the American Social Science Association, which acted under the power of its charter from the Congress of the United States. The members thus selected, who joined the Social Science Association, were given the alternative of organizing as an independent institute or as a branch of the Social Science Association.

At the annual meeting of the Social Science Association on September 4, 1899, at Saratoga Springs, the members of the Institute voted to organize independently. They formally adopted the revised constitution, which had been agreed upon at the first meeting, in New York in the preceding January, and elected officers as prescribed by the constitution.

The object is declared to be the advancement of art and literature, and the qualification shall be notable achievements in art or letters. The number of active members will probably be ultimately fixed at one hundred. The society may elect honorary and associate members without limit. By the terms of agreement between the American Social Science Association and the National Institute, the members of each are 'ipso facto' associate members of the other.

It is believed that the advancement of art and literature in this country will be promoted by the organization of the producers of literature and art. This is in strict analogy with the action of other professions and of almost all the industries. No one doubts that literature and art are or should be leading interests in our civilization, and their dignity will be enhanced in the public estimation by a visible organization of their representatives, who are seriously determined upon raising the standards by which the work of writers and artists is judged. The association of persons having this common aim cannot but stimulate effort, soften unworthy rivalry into generous competition, and promote enthusiasm and good fellowship in their work. The mere coming together to compare views and discuss interests and tendencies and problems which concern both the workers and the great public, cannot fail to be of benefit to both.

In no other way so well as by association of this sort can be created the feeling of solidarity in our literature, and the recognition of its power. It is not expected to raise any standard of perfection, or in any way to hamper individual development, but a body of concentrated opinion may raise the standard by promoting healthful and helpful criticism, by discouraging mediocrity and meretricious smartness, by keeping alive the traditions of good literature, while it is hospitable to all discoverers of new worlds. A safe motto for any such society would be Tradition and Freedom—'Traditio et Libertas'.

It is generally conceded that what literature in America needs at this moment is honest, competent, sound criticism. This is not likely to be attained by sporadic efforts, especially in a democracy of letters where the critics are not always superior to the criticised, where the man in front of the book is not always a better marksman than the man behind the book. It may not be attained even by an organization of men united upon certain standards of excellence. I do not like to use the word authority, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the public will be influenced by a body devoted to the advancement of art and literature, whose sincerity and discernment it has learned to respect, and admission into whose ranks will, I hope, be considered a distinction to be sought for by good work. The fashion of the day is rarely the judgment of posterity. You will recall what Byron wrote to Coleridge: “I trust you do not permit yourself to be depressed by the temporary partiality of what is called 'the public' for the favorites of the moment; all experience is against the permanency of such impressions. You must have lived to see many of these pass away, and will survive many more.”

The chief concern of the National Institute is with the production of works of art and of literature, and with their distribution. In the remarks following I shall confine myself to the production and distribution of literature. In the limits of this brief address I can only in outline speak of certain tendencies and practices which are affecting this production and this distribution. The interests involved are, first, those of the author; second, those of the publisher; third, those of the public. As to all good literature, the interests of these three are identical if the relations of the three are on the proper basis. For the author, a good book is of more pecuniary value than a poor one, setting aside the question of fame; to the publisher, the right of publishing a good book is solid capital,—an established house, in the long run, makes more money on “Standards” than on “Catchpennies”; and to the public the possession of the best literature is the breath of life, as that of the bad and mediocre is moral and intellectual decadence. But in practice the interests of the three do not harmonize. The author, even supposing his efforts are stimulated by the highest aspirations for excellence and not by any commercial instinct, is compelled by his circ*mstances to get the best price for his production; the publisher wishes to get the utmost return for his capital and his energy; and the public wants the best going for the least money.

Consider first the author, and I mean the author, and not the mere craftsman who manufactures books for a recognized market. His sole capital is his talent. His brain may be likened to a mine, gold, silver, copper, iron, or tin, which looks like silver when new. Whatever it is, the vein of valuable ore is limited, in most cases it is slight. When it is worked out, the man is at the end of his resources. Has he expended or produced capital? I say he has produced it, and contributed to the wealth of the world, and that he is as truly entitled to the usufruct of it as the miner who takes gold or silver out of the earth. For how long? I will speak of that later on. The copyright of a book is not analogous to the patent right of an invention, which may become of universal necessity to the world. Nor should the greater share of this usufruct be absorbed by the manufacturer and publisher of the book. The publisher has a clear right to guard himself against risks, as he has the right of refusal to assume them. But there is an injustice somewhere, when for many a book, valued and even profitable to somebody, the author does not receive the price of a laborer's day wages for the time spent on it—to say nothing of the long years of its gestation.

The relation between author and publisher ought to be neither complicated nor peculiar. The author may sell his product outright, or he may sell himself by an agreement similar to that which an employee in a manufacturing establishment makes with his master to give to the establishment all his inventions. Either of these methods is fair and businesslike, though it may not be wise. A method that prevailed in the early years of this century was both fair and wise. The author agreed that the publisher should have the exclusive right to publish his book for a certain term, or to make and sell a certain number of copies. When those conditions were fulfilled, the control of the property reverted to the author. The continuance of these relations between the two depended, as it should depend, upon mutual advantage and mutual good-will. By the present common method the author makes over the use of his property to the will of the publisher. It is true that he parts with the use only of the property and not with the property itself, and the publisher in law acquires no other title, nor does he acquire any sort of interest in the future products of the author's brain. But the author loses all control of his property, and its profit to him may depend upon his continuing to make over his books to the same publisher. In this continuance he is liable to the temptation to work for a market, instead of following the free impulses of his own genius. As to any special book, the publisher is the sole judge whether to push it or to let it sink into the stagnation of unadvertised goods.

The situation is full of complications. Theoretically it is the interest of both parties to sell as many books as possible. But the author has an interest in one book, the publisher in a hundred. And it is natural and reasonable that the man who risks his money should be the judge of the policy best for his whole establishment. I cannot but think that this situation would be on a juster footing all round if the author returned to the old practice of limiting the use of his property by the publisher. I say this in full recognition of the fact that the publishers might be unwilling to make temporary investments, or to take risks. What then? Fewer books might be published. Less vanity might be gratified. Less money might be risked in experiments upon the public, and more might be made by distributing good literature. Would the public be injured? It is an idea already discredited that the world owes a living to everybody who thinks he can write, and it is a superstition already fading that capital which exploits literature as a trade acquires any special privileges.

The present international copyright, which primarily concerns itself with the manufacture of books, rests upon an unintelligible protective tariff basis. It should rest primarily upon an acknowledgment of the author's right of property in his own work, the same universal right that he has in any other personal property. The author's international copyright should be no more hampered by restrictions and encumbrances than his national copyright. Whatever regulations the government may make for the protection of manufactures, or trade industries, or for purposes of revenue on importations, they should not be confounded with the author's right of property. They have no business in an international copyright act, agreement, or treaty. The United States copyright for native authors contains no manufacturing restrictions. All we ask is that foreign authors shall enjoy the same privileges we have under our law, and that foreign nations shall give our authors the privileges of their local copyright laws. I do not know any American author of any standing who has ever asked or desired protection against foreign authors.

This subject is so important that I may be permitted to enlarge upon it, in order to make clear suggestions already made, and to array again arguments more or less familiar. I do this in the view of bringing before the institute work worthy of its best efforts, which if successful will entitle this body to the gratitude and respect of the country. I refer to the speedy revision of our confused and wholly inadequate American copyright laws, and later on to a readjustment of our international relations.

In the first place let me bring to your attention what is, to the vast body of authors, a subject of vital interest, which it is not too much to say has never received that treatment from authors themselves which its importance demands. I refer to the property of authors in their productions. In this brief space and time I cannot enter fully upon this great subject, but must be content to offer certain suggestions for your consideration.

The property of an author in the product of his mental labor ought to be as absolute and unlimited as his property in the product of his physical labor. It seems to me idle to say that the two kinds of labor products are so dissimilar that the ownership cannot be protected by like laws. In this age of enlightenment such a proposition is absurd. The history of copyright law seems to show that the treatment of property in brain product has been based on this erroneous idea. To steal the paper on which an author has put his brain work into visible, tangible form is in all lands a crime, larceny, but to steal the brain work is not a crime. The utmost extent to which our enlightened American legislators, at almost the end of the nineteenth century, have gone in protecting products of the brain has been to give the author power to sue in civil courts, at large expense, the offender who has taken and sold his property.

And what gross absurdity is the copyright law which limits even this poor defense of author's property to a brief term of years, after the expiration of which he or his children and heirs have no defense, no recognized property whatever in his products.

And for some inexplicable reason this term of years in which he may be said to own his property is divided into two terms, so that at the end of the first he is compelled to re-assert his ownership by renewing his copyright, or he must lose all ownership at the end of the short term.

It is manifest to all honest minds that if an author is entitled to own his work for a term of years, it is equally the duty of his government to make that ownership perpetual. He can own and protect and leave to his children and his children's children by will the manuscript paper on which he has written, and he should have equal right to leave to them that mental product which constitutes the true money value of his labor. It is unnecessary to say that the mental product is always as easy to be identified as the physical product. Its identification is absolutely certain to the intelligence of judges and juries. And it is apparent that the interests of assignees, who are commonly publishers, are equal with those of authors, in making absolute and perpetual this property in which both are dealers.

Another consideration follows here. Why should the ownership of a bushel of wheat, a piece of silk goods, a watch, or a handkerchief in the possession of an American carried or sent to England, or brought thence to this country, be absolute and unlimited, while the ownership of his own products as an author or as a purchaser from an author is made dependent on his nationality? Why should the property of the manufacturer of cloths, carpets, satins, and any and every description of goods, be able to send his products all over the world, subject only to the tariff laws of the various countries, while the author (alone of all known producers) is forbidden to do so? The existing law of our country says to the foreign author, “You can have property in your book only if you manufacture it into salable form in this country.” What would be said of the wisdom or wild folly of a law which sought to protect other American industries by forbidding the importation of all foreign manufactures?

No question of tariff protection is here involved. What duty shall be imposed upon foreign products or foreign manufactures is a question of political economy. The wrong against which authors should protest is in annexing to their terms of ownership of their property a protective tariff revision. For, be it observed, this is a subject of abstract justice, moral right, and it matters nothing whether the author be American, English, German, French, Hindoo, or Chinese,—and it is very certain that when America shall enact a simple, just, copyright law, giving to every human being the same protection of law to his property in his mental products as in the work of his hands, every civilized nation on earth will follow the noble example.

As it now stands, authors who annually produce the raw material for manufacturing purposes to an amount in value of millions, supporting vast populations of people, authors whose mental produce rivals and exceeds in commercial value many of the great staple products of our fields, are the only producers who have no distinct property in their products, who are not protected in holding on to the feeble tenure the law gives them, and whose quasi-property in their works, flimsy as it is, is limited to a few years, and cannot with certainty be handed down to their children. It will be said, it is said, that it is impossible for the author to obtain an acknowledgment of absolute right of property in his brain work. In our civilization we have not yet arrived at this state of justice. It may be so. Indeed some authors have declared that this justice would be against public policy. I trust they are sustained by the lofty thought that in this view they are rising above the petty realm of literature into the broad field of statesmanship.

But I think there will be a general agreement that in the needed revisal of our local copyright law we can attain some measure of justice. Some of the most obvious hardships can be removed. There is no reason why an author should pay for the privilege of a long life by the loss of his copyrights, and that his old age should be embittered by poverty because he cannot have the results of the labor of his vigorous years. There is no reason why if he dies young he should leave those dependent on him without support, for the public has really no more right to appropriate his book than it would have to take his house from his widow and children. His income at best is small after he has divided with the publishers.

No, there can certainly be no valid argument against extending the copyright of the author to his own lifetime, with the addition of forty or fifty years for the benefit of his heirs. I will not leave this portion of the topic without saying that a perfectly harmonious relation between authors and publishers is most earnestly to be desired, nor without the frank acknowledgment that, in literary tradition and in the present experience, many of the most noble friendships and the most generous and helpful relations have subsisted, as they ought always to subsist, between the producers and the distributors of literature, especially when the publisher has a love for literature, and the author is a reasonable being and takes pains to inform himself about the publishing business.

One aspect of the publishing business which has become increasingly prominent during the last fifteen years cannot be overlooked, for it is certain to affect seriously the production of literature as to quality, and its distribution. Capital has discovered that literature is a product out of which money can be made, in the same way that it can be made in cotton, wheat, or iron. Never before in history has so much money been invested in publishing, with the single purpose of creating and supplying the market with manufactured goods. Never before has there been such an appeal to the reading public, or such a study of its tastes, or supposed tastes, wants, likes and dislikes, coupled also with the same shrewd anxiety to ascertain a future demand that governs the purveyors of spring and fall styles in millinery and dressmaking. Not only the contents of the books and periodicals, but the covers, must be made to catch the fleeting fancy. Will the public next season wear its hose dotted or striped?

Another branch of this activity is the so-called syndicating of the author's products in the control of one salesman, in which good work and inferior work are coupled together at a common selling price and in common notoriety. This insures a wider distribution, but what is its effect upon the quality of literature? Is it your observation that the writer for a syndicate, on solicitation for a price or an order for a certain kind of work, produces as good quality as when he works independently, uninfluenced by the spirit of commercialism? The question is a serious one for the future of literature.

The consolidation of capital in great publishing establishments has its advantages and its disadvantages. It increases vastly the yearly output of books. The presses must be kept running, printers, papermakers, and machinists are interested in this. The maw of the press must be fed. The capital must earn its money. One advantage of this is that when new and usable material is not forthcoming, the “standards” and the best literature must be reproduced in countless editions, and the best literature is broadcast over the world at prices to suit all purses, even the leanest. The disadvantage is that products, in the eagerness of competition for a market, are accepted which are of a character to harm and not help the development of the contemporary mind in moral and intellectual strength. The public expresses its fear of this in the phrase it has invented—“the spawn of the press.” The author who writes simply to supply this press, and in constant view of a market, is certain to deteriorate in his quality, nay more, as a beginner he is satisfied if he can produce something that will sell without regard to its quality. Is it extravagant to speak of a tendency to make the author merely an adjunct of the publishing house? Take as an illustration the publications in books and magazines relating to the late Spanish-American war. How many of them were ordered to meet a supposed market, and how many of them were the spontaneous and natural productions of writers who had something to say? I am not quarreling, you see, with the newspapers who do this sort of thing; I am speaking of the tendency of what we have been accustomed to call literature to take on the transient and hasty character of the newspaper.

In another respect, in method if not in quality, this literature approaches the newspaper. It is the habit of some publishing houses, not of all, let me distinctly say, to seek always notoriety, not to nurse and keep before the public mind the best that has been evolved from time to time, but to offer always something new. The year's flooring is threshed off and the floor swept to make room for a fresh batch. Effort eventually ceases for the old and approved, and is concentrated on experiments. This is like the conduct of a newspaper. It is assumed that the public must be startled all the time.

I speak of this freely because I think it as bad policy for the publisher as it is harmful to the public of readers. The same effort used to introduce a novelty will be much better remunerated by pushing the sale of an acknowledged good piece of literature.

Literature depends, like every other product bought by the people, upon advertising, and it needs much effort usually to arrest the attention of our hurrying public upon what it would most enjoy if it were brought to its knowledge.

It would not be easy to fix the limit in this vast country to the circulation of a good book if it were properly kept before the public. Day by day, year by year, new readers are coming forward with curiosity and intellectual wants. The generation that now is should not be deprived of the best in the last generation. Nay more, one publication, in any form, reaches only a comparatively small portion of the public that would be interested in it. A novel, for instance, may have a large circulation in a magazine; it may then appear in a book; it may reach other readers serially again in the columns of a newspaper; it may be offered again in all the by-ways by subscription, and yet not nearly exhaust its legitimate running power. This is not a supposition but a fact proved by trial. Nor is it to be wondered at, when we consider that we have an unequaled hom*ogeneous population with a similar common-school education. In looking over publishers' lists I am constantly coming across good books out of print, which are practically unknown to this generation, and yet are more profitable, truer to life and character, more entertaining and amusing, than most of those fresh from the press month by month.

Of the effect upon the literary product of writing to order, in obedience to a merely commercial instinct, I need not enlarge to a company of authors, any more than to a company of artists I need to enlarge upon the effect of a like commercial instinct upon art.

I am aware that the evolution of literature or art in any period, in relation to the literature and art of the world, cannot be accurately judged by contemporaries and participants, nor can it be predicted. But I have great expectations of the product of both in this country, and I am sure that both will be affected by the conduct of persons now living. It is for this reason that I have spoken.


By Charles Dudley Warner


The county of Franklin in Northwestern Massachusetts, if not rivaling in certain ways the adjoining Berkshire, has still a romantic beauty of its own. In the former half of the nineteenth century its population was largely given up to the pursuit of agriculture, though not under altogether favorable conditions. Manufactures had not yet invaded the region either to add to its wealth or to defile its streams. The villages were small, the roads pretty generally wretched save in summer, and from many of the fields the most abundant crop that could be gathered was that of stones.

The character of the people conformed in many ways to that of the soil. The houses which lined the opposite sides of the single street, of which the petty places largely consisted, as well as the dwellings which dotted the country, were the homes of men who possessed in fullness many of the features, good and bad, that characterized the Puritan stock to which they belonged. There was a good deal of religion in these rural communities and occasionally some culture. Still, as a rule, it must be confessed, there would be found in them much more of plain living than of high thinking. Broad thinking could hardly be said to exist at all. By the dwellers in that region Easter had scarcely even been heard of; Christmas was tolerated after a fashion, but was nevertheless looked upon with a good deal of suspicion as a Popish invention. In the beliefs of these men several sins not mentioned in the decalogue took really, if unconsciously, precedence of those which chanced to be found in that list. Dancing was distinctly immoral; card-playing led directly to gambling with all its attendant evils; theatre-going characterized the conduct of the more disreputable denizens of great cities. Fiction was not absolutely forbidden; but the most lenient regarded it as a great waste of time, and the boy who desired its solace on any large scale was under the frequent necessity of seeking the seclusion of the haymow.

But however rigid and stern the beliefs of men might be, nature was there always charming, not only in her summer beauty, but even in her wildest winter moods. Narrow, too, as might be the views of the members of these communities about the conduct of life, there was ever before the minds of the best of them an ideal of devotion to duty, an earnest all-pervading moral purpose which implanted the feeling that neither personal success nor pleasure of any sort could ever afford even remotely compensation for the neglect of the least obligation which their situation imposed. It was no misfortune for any one, who was later to be transported to a broader horizon and more genial air, to have struck the roots of his being in a soil where men felt the full sense of moral responsibility for everything said or done, and where the conscience was almost as sensitive to the suggestion of sin as to its actual accomplishment.

It was amidst such surroundings that Charles Dudley Warner was born on the 12th of September, 1829. His birthplace was the hill town of Plainfield, over two thousand feet above the level of the sea. His father, a farmer, was a man of cultivation, though not college-bred. He died when his eldest son had reached the age of five, leaving to his widow the care of two children. Three years longer the family continued to remain on the farm. But however delightful the scenery of the country might be, its aesthetic attractions did not sufficiently counterbalance its agricultural disadvantages. Furthermore, while the summers were beautiful on this high table land, the winters were long and dreary in the enforced solitude of a thinly settled region. In consequence, the farm was sold after the death of the grandfather, and the home broken up. The mother with her two children, went to the neighboring village of Charlemont on the banks of the Deerfield. There the elder son took up his residence with his guardian and relative, a man of position and influence in the community, who was the owner of a large farm. With him he stayed until he was twelve years old, enjoying all the pleasures and doing all the miscellaneous jobs of the kind which fall to the lot of a boy brought up in an agricultural community.

The story of this particular period of his life was given by Warner in a work which was published about forty years later. It is the volume entitled “Being a Boy.” Nowhere has there been drawn a truer or more vivid picture of rural New England. Nowhere else can there be found such a portrayal of the sights and sounds, the pains and pleasures of life on a farm as seen from the point of view of a boy. Here we have them all graphically represented: the daily “chores” that must be looked after; the driving of cows to and from the pasture; the clearing up of fields where vegetation struggled with difficulty against the prevailing stones; the climbing of lofty trees and the swaying back and forth in the wind on their topmost boughs; the hunting of woodchucks; the nutting excursions of November days, culminating in the glories of Thanksgiving; the romance of school life, over which vacations, far from being welcomed with delight, cast a gloom as involving extra work; the cold days of winter with its deep or drifting snows, the mercury of the thermometer clinging with fondness to zero, even when the sun was shining brilliantly; the long chilling nights in which the frost carved fantastic structures on the window-panes; the eager watching for the time when the sap would begin to run in the sugar-maples; the evenings given up to reading, with the inevitable inward discontent at being sent to bed too early; the longing for the mild days of spring to come, when the heavy cowhide boots could be discarded, and the boy could rejoice at last in the covering for his feet which the Lord had provided. These and scores of similar descriptions fill up the picture of the life furnished here. It was nature's own school wherein was to be gained the fullest intimacy with her spirit. While there was much which she could not teach, there was also much which she alone could teach. From his communion with her the boy learned lessons which the streets of crowded cities could never have imparted.

At the age of twelve this portion of his education came to an end. The family then moved to Cazenovia in Madison county in Central New York, from which place Warner's mother had come, and where her immediate relatives then resided. Until he went to college this was his home. There he attended a preparatory school under the direction of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was styled the Oneida Conference Seminary. It was at this institution that he fitted mainly for college; for to college it had been his father's dying wish that he should go, and the boy himself did not need the spur of this parting injunction. A college near his home was the excellent one of Hamilton in the not distant town of Clinton in the adjoining county of Oneida. Thither he repaired in 1848, and as he had made the best use of his advantages, he was enabled to enter the sophom*ore class. He was graduated in 1851.

But while fond of study he had all these years been doing something besides studying. The means of the family were limited, and to secure the education he desired, not only was it necessary to husband the resources he possessed, but to increase them in every possible way. Warner had all the American boy's willingness to undertake any occupation not in itself discreditable. Hence to him fell a full share of those experiences which have diversified the early years of so many men who have achieved success. He set up type in a printing office; he acted as an assistant in a bookstore; he served as clerk in a post-office. He was thus early brought into direct contact with persons of all classes and conditions of life.

The experience gave to his keenly observant mind an insight into the nature of men which was to be of special service to him in later years. Further, it imparted to him a familiarity with their opinions and hopes and aspirations which enabled him to understand and sympathize with feelings in which he did not always share.

During the years which immediately followed his departure from college, Warner led the somewhat desultory and apparently aimless life of many American graduates whose future depends upon their own exertions and whose choice of a career is mainly determined by circ*mstances. From the very earliest period of his life he had been fond of reading. It was an inherited taste. The few books he found in his childhood's home would have been almost swept out of sight in the torrent, largely of trash, which pours now in a steady stream into the humblest household. But the books, though few, were of a high quality; and because they were few they were read much, and their contents became an integral part of his intellectual equipment. Furthermore, these works of the great masters, with which he became familiar, set for him a standard by which to test the value of whatever he read, and saved him even in his earliest years from having his taste impaired and his judgment misled by the vogue of meretricious productions which every now and then gain popularity for the time. They gave him also a distinct bent towards making literature his profession. But literature, however pleasant and occasionally profitable as an avocation, was not to be thought of as a vocation. Few there are at any period who have succeeded in finding it a substantial and permanent support; at that time and in this country such a prospect was practically hopeless for any one. It is no matter of surprise, therefore, that Warner, though often deviating from the direct path, steadily gravitated toward the profession of law.

Still, even in those early days his natural inclination manifested itself. The Knickerbocker Magazine was then the chosen organ to which all young literary aspirants sent their productions. To it even in his college days Warner contributed to some extent, though it would doubtless be possible now to gather out of this collection but few pieces which, lacking his own identification, could be assigned to him positively. At a later period he contributed articles to Putnam's Magazine, which began its existence in 1853. Warner himself at one time, in that period of struggle and uncertainty, expected to become an editor of a monthly which was to be started in Detroit. But before the magazine was actually set on foot the inability of the person who projected it to supply the necessary means for carrying it on prevented the failure which would inevitably have befallen a venture of that sort, undertaken at that time and in that place. Yet he showed in a way the native bent of his mind by bringing out two years after his graduation from college a volume of selections from English and American authors entitled “The Book of Eloquence.” This work a publisher many years afterward took advantage of his later reputation to reprint.

This unsettled period of his life lasted for several years. He was resident for a while in various places. Part of the time he seems to have been in Cazenovia; part of the time in New York; part of the time in the West. One thing in particular there was which stood in the way of fixing definitely his choice of a profession. This was the precarious state of his health, far poorer then than it was in subsequent years. Warner, however, was never at any period of his life what is called robust. It was his exceeding temperance in all things which enabled him to venture upon the assumption and succeed in the accomplishment of tasks which men, physically far stronger than he, would have shrunk from under-taking, even had they been possessed of the same abilities. But his condition, part of that time, was such that it led him to take a course of treatment at the sanatorium in Clifton Springs. It became apparent, however, that life in the open air, for a while at least, was the one thing essential. Under the pressure of this necessity he secured a position as one of an engineering party engaged in the survey of a railway in Missouri. In that occupation he spent a large part of 1853 and 1854. He came back from this expedition restored to health. With that result accomplished, the duty of settling definitely upon what he was to do became more urgent. Among other things he did, while living for a while with his uncle in Binghamton, N. Y., he studied law in the office of Daniel S. Dickinson.

In the Christmas season of 1854 he went with a friend on a visit to Philadelphia and stayed at the house of Philip M. Price, a prominent citizen of that place who was engaged, among other things, in the conveyancing of real estate. It will not be surprising to any one who knew the charm of his society in later life to be told that he became at once a favorite with the older man. The latter was advanced in years, he was anxious to retire from active business. Acting under his advice, Warner was induced to come to Philadelphia in 1855 and join him, and to form subsequently a partnership in legal conveyancing with another young man who had been employed in Mr. Price's office. Thus came into being the firm of Barton and Warner. Their headquarters were first in Spring Garden Street and later in Walnut Street. The future soon became sufficiently assured to justify Warner in marriage, and in October, 1856, he was wedded to Susan Lee, daughter of William Elliott Lee of New York City.

But though in a business allied to the law, Warner was not yet a lawyer. His occupation indeed was only in his eyes a temporary makeshift while he was preparing himself for what was to be his real work in life. Therefore, while supporting himself by carrying on the business of conveyancing, he attended the courses of study at the law department of the University of Pennsylvania, during the academic years of 1856-57 and 1857-58. From that institution he received the degree of bachelor of law in 1858—often misstated 1856—and was ready to begin the practice of his, profession.

In those days every young man of ability and ambition was counseled to go West and grow up with the country, and was not unfrequently disposed to take that course of his own accord. Warner felt the general impulse. He had contemplated entering, in fact had pretty definitely made up his mind to enter, into a law partnership with a friend in one of the smaller places in that region. But on a tour, somewhat of exploration, he stopped at Chicago. There he met another friend, and after talking over the situation with him he decided to take up his residence in that city. So in 1858 the law-firm of Davenport and Warner came into being. It lasted until 1860. It was not exactly a favorable time for young men to enter upon the practice of this profession. The country was just beginning to recover from the depression which had followed the disastrous panic of 1857; but confidence was as yet far from being restored. The new firm did a fairly good business; but while there was sufficient work to do, there was but little money to pay for it. Still Warner would doubtless have continued in the profession had he not received an offer, the acceptance of which determined his future and changed entirely his career.

Hawley, now United States Senator from Connecticut, was Warner's senior by a few years. He had preceded him as a student at the Oneida Conference Seminary and at Hamilton College. Practicing law in Hartford, he had started in 1857, in conjunction with other leading citizens, a paper called the Evening Press. It was devoted to the advocacy of the principles of the Republican party, which was at that time still in what may be called the formative state of its existence. This was a period in which for some years the dissolution had been going on of the two old parties which had divided the country. Men were changing sides and were aligning themselves anew according to their views on questions which were every day assuming greater prominence in the minds of all. There was really but one great subject talked about or thought about. It split into opposing sections the whole land over which was lowering the grim, though as yet unrecognizable, shadow of civil war. The Republican party had been in existence but a very few years, but in that short time it had attracted to its ranks the young and enthusiastic spirits of the North, just as to the other side were impelled the members of the same class in the South. The intellectual contest which preceded the physical was stirring the hearts of all men. Hawley, who was well aware of Warner's peculiar ability, was anxious to secure his co-operation and assistance. He urged him to come East and join him in the conduct of the new enterprise he had undertaken.

Warner always considered that he derived great benefit from his comparatively limited study and practice of law; and that the little time he had given up to it had been far from being misspent. But the opening which now presented itself introduced him to a field of activity much more suited to his talents and his tastes. He liked the study of law better than its practice; for his early training had not been of a kind to reconcile him to standing up strongly for clients and causes that he honestly believed to be in the wrong. Furthermore, his heart, as has been said, had always been in literature; and though journalism could hardly be called much more than a half-sister, the one could provide the support which the other could never promise with certainty. So in 1860 Warner removed to Hartford and joined his friend as associate editor of the newspaper he had founded. The next year the war broke out. Hawley at once entered the army and took part in the four years' struggle. His departure left Warner in editorial charge of the paper, into the conduct of which he threw himself with all the earnestness and energy of his nature, and the ability, both political and literary, displayed in its columns gave it at once a high position which it never lost.

At this point it may be well to give briefly the few further salient facts of Warner's connection with journalism proper. In 1867 the owners of the Press purchased the Courant, the well-known morning paper which had been founded more than a century before, and consolidated the Press with it. Of this journal, Hawley and Warner, now in part proprietors, were the editorial writers. The former, who had been mustered out of the army with the rank of brevet Major-General, was soon diverted from journalism by other employments. He was elected Governor, he became a member of Congress, serving successively in both branches. The main editorial responsibility for the conduct of the paper devolved in consequence upon Warner, and to it he gave up for years nearly all his thought and attention. Once only during that early period was his labor interrupted for any considerable length of time. In May, 1868, he set out on the first of his five trips across the Atlantic. He was absent nearly a year. Yet even then he cannot be said to have neglected his special work. Articles were sent weekly from the other side, describing what he saw and experienced abroad. His active connection with the paper he never gave up absolutely, nor did his interest in it ever cease. But after he became connected with the editorial staff of Harpers Magazine the contributions he made to his journal were only occasional and what may be called accidental.

When 1870 came, forty years of Warner's life had gone by, and nearly twenty years since he had left college. During the latter ten years of this period he had been a most effective and forcible leader-writer on political and social questions, never more so than during the storm and stress of the Civil War. Outside of these topics he had devoted a great deal of attention to matters connected with literature and art. His varied abilities were fully recognized by the readers of the journal he edited.

But as yet there was little or no recognition outside. It is no easy matter to tell what are the influences, what the circ*mstances, which determine the success of a particular writer or of a particular work. Hitherto Warner's repute was mainly confined to the inhabitants of a provincial capital and its outlying and dependent towns. However cultivated the class to which his writings appealed—and as a class it was distinctly cultivated—their number was necessarily not great. To the country at large what he did or what he was capable of doing was not known at all. Some slight efforts he had occasionally put forth to secure the publication of matter he had prepared. He experienced the usual fate of authors who seek to introduce into the market literary wares of a new and better sort. His productions did not follow conventional lines. Publishers were ready to examine what he offered, and were just as ready to declare that these new wares were of a nature in which they were not inclined to deal.

But during 1870 a series of humorous articles appeared in the Hartford Courant, detailing his experiences in the cultivation of a garden. Warner had become the owner of a small place then almost on the outskirts of the city. With the dwelling-house went the possession of three acres of land. The opportunity thus presented itself of turning into a blessing the primeval curse of tilling the soil, in this instance not with a hoe, but with a pen. These articles detailing his experiences excited so much amusem*nt and so much admiration that a general desire was manifested that they should receive a more permanent life than that accorded to articles appearing in the columns of newspapers, and should reach a circle larger than that to be found in the society of the Connecticut capital. Warner's previous experience had not disposed him to try his fortunes with the members of the publishing fraternity. In fact he did not lay so much stress upon the articles as did his readers and friends. He always insisted that he had previously written other articles which in his eyes certainly were just as good as they, if not better.

It so chanced that about this time Henry Ward Beecher came to Hartford to visit his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Warner was invited to meet him. In the course of the conversation the articles just mentioned were referred to by some one of those present. Beecher's curiosity was aroused and he expressed a desire to see them. To him they were accordingly sent for perusal. No sooner had he run through them than he recognized in them the presence of a rare and delicate humor which struck a distinctly new note in American literature. It was something he felt which should not be confined to the knowledge of any limited circle. He wrote at once to the publisher James T. Fields, urging the production of these articles in book form. Beecher's recommendation in those days was sufficient to insure the acceptance of any book by any publisher. Mr. Fields agreed to bring out the work, provided the great preacher would prefix an introduction. This he promised to do and did; though in place of the somewhat more formal piece he was asked to write, he sent what he called an introductory letter.

The series of papers published under the title of “My Summer in a Garden” came out at the very end of 1870, with the date of 1871 on the title-page. The volume met with instantaneous success. It was the subject of comment and conversation everywhere and passed rapidly through several editions. There was a general feeling that a new writer had suddenly appeared, with a wit and wisdom peculiarly his own, precisely like which nothing had previously existed in our literature. To the later editions of the work was added an account of a cat which had been presented to the author by the Stowes. For that reason it was given from the Christian name of the husband of the novelist the title of Calvin. To this John was sometimes prefixed, as betokening from the purely animal point of view a certain resemblance to the imputed grimness and earnestness of the great reformer. There was nothing in the least exaggerated in the account which Warner gave of the character and conduct of this really remarkable member of the feline race. No biography was ever truer; no appreciation was ever more sympathetic; and in the long line of cats none was ever more worthy to have his story truly and sympathetically told. All who had the fortune to see Calvin in the flesh will recognize the accuracy with which his portrait was drawn. All who read the account of him, though not having seen him, will find it one of the most charming of descriptions. It has the fullest right to be termed a cat classic.

With the publication of “My Summer in a Garden” Warner was launched upon a career of authorship which lasted without cessation during the thirty years that remained of his life. It covered a wide field. His interests were varied and his activity was unremitting. Literature, art, and that vast diversity of topics which are loosely embraced under the general name of social science—upon all these he had something fresh to say, and he said it invariably with attractiveness and effect. It mattered little what he set out to talk about, the talk was sure to be full both of instruction and entertainment. No sooner had the unequivocal success of his first published work brought his name before the public than he was besieged for contributions by conductors of periodicals of all sorts; and as he had ideas of his own upon all sorts of subjects, he was constantly furnishing matter of the most diverse kind for the most diverse audiences.

As a result, the volumes here gathered together represent but a limited portion of the work he accomplished. All his life, indeed, Warner was not only an omnivorous consumer of the writings of others, but a constant producer. The manifestation of it took place in ways frequently known to but few. It was not merely the fact that as an editor of a daily paper he wrote regularly articles on topics of current interest to which he never expected to pay any further attention; but after his name became widely known and his services were in request everywhere, he produced scores of articles, some long, some short, some signed, some unsigned, of which he made no account whatever. One looking through the pages of contemporary periodical literature is apt at any moment to light upon pieces, and sometimes upon series of them, which the author never took the trouble to collect. Many of those to which his name was not attached can no longer be identified with any approach to certainty. About the preservation of much that he did—and some of it belonged distinctly to his best and most characteristic work—he was singularly careless, or it may be better to say, singularly indifferent.

If I may be permitted to indulge in the recital of a personal experience, there is one incident I recall which will bring out this trait in a marked manner. Once on a visit to him I accompanied him to the office of his paper. While waiting for him to discharge certain duties there, and employing myself in looking over the exchanges, I chanced to light upon a leading article on the editorial page of one of the most prominent of the New York dailies. It was devoted to the consideration of some recent utterances of a noted orator who, after the actual mission of his life had been accomplished, was employing the decline of it in the exploitation of every political and economic vagary which it had entered into the addled brains of men to evolve. The article struck me as one of the most brilliant and entertaining of its kind I had ever read; it was not long indeed before it appeared that the same view of it was taken by many others throughout the country. The peculiar wit of the comment, the keenness of the satire made so much of an impression upon me that I called Warner away from his work to look at it. At my request he hastily glanced over it, but somewhat to my chagrin failed to evince any enthusiasm about it. On our way home I again spoke of it and was a good deal nettled at the indifference towards it which he manifested. It seemed to imply that my critical judgment was of little value; and however true might be his conclusion on that point, one does not enjoy having the fact thrust too forcibly upon the attention in the familiarity of conversation. Resenting therefore the tone he had assumed, I took occasion not only to reiterate my previously expressed opinion somewhat more aggressively, but also went on to insinuate that he was himself distinctly lacking in any real appreciation of what was excellent. He bore with me patiently for a while. “Well, sonny,” he said at last, “since you seem to take the matter so much to heart, I will tell you in confidence that I wrote the piece myself.” I found that this was not only true in the case just specified, but that while engaged in preparing articles for his own paper he occasionally prepared them for other journals. No one besides himself and those immediately concerned, ever knew anything about the matter. He never asserted any right to these pieces, he never sought to collect them, though some of them exhibited his happiest vein of humor. Unclaimed, unidentified, they are swept into that wallet of oblivion in which time stows the best as well as the worst of newspaper production.

The next volume of Warner's writings that made its appearance was entitled “Saunterings.” It was the first and, though good of its kind, was by no means the best of a class of productions in which he was to exhibit signal excellence. It will be observed that of the various works comprised in this collective edition, no small number consist of what by a wide extension of the phrase may be termed books of travel. There are two or three which fall strictly under that designation. Most of them, however, can be more properly called records of personal experience and adventure in different places and regions, with the comments on life and character to which they gave rise.

Books of travel, if they are expected to live, are peculiarly hard to write. If they come out at a period when curiosity about the region described is predominant, they are fairly certain, no matter how wretched, to achieve temporary success. But there is no kind of literary production to which, by the very law of its being, it is more difficult to impart vitality. Paradoxical as it may seem, it is perfectly true that the greatest hinderance to their permanent interest is the information they furnish. The more full, specific and even accurate that is, the more rapidly does the work containing it lose its value. The fresher knowledge conveyed by a new, and it may be much inferior book, crowds out of circulation those which have gone before. The changed or changing conditions in the region traversed renders the information previously furnished out of date and even misleading. Hence the older works come in time to have only an antiquarian interest. Their pages are consulted only by that very limited number of persons who are anxious to learn what has been and view with stolid indifference what actually is. Something of this transitory nature belongs to all sketches of travel. It is the one great reason why so very few of the countless number of such works, written, and sometimes written by men of highest ability, are hardly heard of a few years after publication. Travels form a species of literary production in which great classics are exceedingly rare.

From this fatal characteristic, threatening the enduring life of such works, most of Warner's writings of this sort were saved by the method of procedure he followed. He made it his main object not to give facts but impressions. All details of exact information, everything calculated to gratify the statistical mind or to quench the thirst of the seeker for purely useful information, he was careful, whether consciously or unconsciously, to banish from those volumes of his in which he followed his own bent and felt himself under no obligation to say anything but what he chose. Hence these books are mainly a record of views of men and manners made by an acute observer on the spot, and put down at the moment when the impression created was most vivid, not deferred till familiarity had dulled the sense of it or custom had caused it to be disregarded. Take as an illustration the little book entitled “Baddeck,” one of the slightest of his productions in this field. It purports to be and is nothing more than an account of a two weeks' tour made to a Cape Breton locality in company with the delightful companion to whom it was dedicated. You take it up with the notion that you are going to acquire information about the whole country journeyed over, you are beguiled at times with the fancy that you are getting it. In the best sense it may be said that you do get it; for it is the general impression of the various scenes through which the expedition leads the travelers that is left upon the mind, not those accurate details of a single one of them which the lapse of a year might render inaccurate. It is to the credit of the work therefore than one gains from it little specific knowledge. In its place are the reflections both wise and witty upon life, upon the characters of the men that are met, upon the nature of the sights that are seen.

This is what constitutes the enduring charm of the best of these pictures of travel which Warner produced. It is perhaps misleading to assert that they do not furnish a good deal of information. Still it is not the sort of information which the ordinary tourist gives and which the cultivated reader resents and is careful not to remember. Their dominant note is rather the quiet humor of a delightful story-teller, who cannot fail to say something of interest because he has seen so much; and who out of his wide and varied observation selects for recital certain sights he has witnessed, certain experiences he has gone through, and so relates them that the way the thing is told is even more interesting than the thing told. The chief value of these works does not accordingly depend upon the accidental, which passes. Inns change and become better or worse. Facilities for transportation increase or decrease. Scenery itself alters to some extent under the operation of agencies brought to bear upon it for its own improvement or for the improvement of something else. But man's nature remains a constant quantity. Traits seen here and now are sure to be met with somewhere else, and even in ages to come. Hence works of this nature, embodying descriptions of men and manners, always retain something of the freshness which characterized them on the day of their appearance.

Of these productions in which the personal element predominates, and where the necessity of intruding information is not felt as a burden, those of Warner's works which deal with the Orient take the first rank. The two—“My Winter on the Nile” and “In the Levant”—constitute the record of a visit to the East during the years 1875 and 1876.

They would naturally have of themselves the most permanent value, inasmuch as the countries described have for most educated men an abiding interest. The lifelike representation and graphic characterization which Warner was apt to display in his traveling sketches were here seen at their best, because nowhere else did he find the task of description more congenial. Alike the gorgeousness and the squalor of the Orient appealed to his artistic sympathies. Egypt in particular had for him always a special fascination. Twice he visited it—at the time just mentioned and again in the winter of 1881-82. He rejoiced in every effort made to dispel the obscurity which hung over its early history. No one, outside of the men most immediately concerned, took a deeper interest than he in the work of the Egyptian Exploration Society, of which he was one of the American vice-presidents. To promoting its success he gave no small share of time and attention. Everything connected with either the past or the present of the country had for him an attraction. A civilization which had been flourishing for centuries, when the founder of Israel was a wandering sheik on the Syrian plains or in the hill-country of Canaan; the slow unraveling of records of dynasties of forgotten kings; the memorials of Egypt's vanished greatness and the vision of her future prosperity these and things similar to these made this country, so peculiarly the gift of the Nile, of fascinating interest to the modern traveler who saw the same sights which had met the eyes of Herodotus nearly twenty-five hundred years before.

To the general public the volume which followed—“In the Levant”—was perhaps of even deeper interest. At all events it dealt with scenes and memories with which every reader, educated or uneducated, had associations. The region through which the founder of Christianity wandered, the places he visited, the words he said in them, the acts he did, have never lost their hold over the hearts of men, not even during the periods when the precepts of Christianity have had the least influence over the conduct of those who professed to it their allegiance. In the Levant, too, were seen the beginnings of commerce, of art, of letters, in the forms in which the modern world best knows them. These, therefore, have always made the lands about the eastern Mediterranean an attraction to cultivated men and the interest of the subject accordingly reinforced the skill of the writer.

There are two or three of these works which can not be included in the class just described. They were written for the specific purpose of giving exact information at the time. Of these the most noticeable are the volumes entitled “South and West” and the account of Southern California which goes under the name of “Our Italy.” They are the outcome of journeys made expressly with the intent of investigating and reporting upon the actual situation and apparent prospects of the places and regions described. As they were written to serve an immediate purpose, much of the information contained in them tends to grow more and more out of date as time goes on; and though of value to the student of history, these volumes must necessarily become of steadily diminishing interest to the ordinary reader. Yet it is to be said of them that while the pill of useful information is there, it has at least been sugar-coated. Nor can we afford to lose sight of the fact that the widely-circulated articles, collected under the title of “South and West,” by the spirit pervading them as well as by the information they gave, had a marked effect in bringing the various sections of the country into a better understanding of one another, and in imparting to all a fuller sense of the community they possessed in profit and loss, in honor and dishonor.

It is a somewhat singular fact that these sketches of travel led Warner incidentally to enter into an entirely new field of literary exertion. This was novel-writing. Something of this nature he had attempted in conjunction with Mark Twain in the composition of “The Gilded Age,” which appeared in 1873. The result, however, was unsatisfactory to both the collaborators. Each had humor, but the humor of each was fundamentally different. But the magazine with which Warner had become connected was desirous that he should prepare for it an account of some of the principal watering-places and summer resorts of the country. Each was to be visited in turn and its salient features were to be described. It was finally suggested that this could be done most effectively by weaving into a love story occurrences that might happen at a number of these places which were made the subjects of description. The principal characters were to take their tours under the personal conduct of the novelist. They were to go to the particular spots selected North and South, according to the varying seasons of the year. It was a somewhat novel way of, visiting resorts of this nature; there are those to whom it will seem altogether more agreeable than would be the visiting of them in person. Hence appeared in 1886 the articles which were collected later in the volume entitled “Their Pilgrimage.”

Warner executed the task which had been assigned him with his wonted skill. The completed work met with success—with so much success indeed that he was led later to try his fortune further in the same field and bring out the trilogy of novels which go under the names respectively of “A Little Journey in the World,” “The Golden House,” and “That Fortune.” Each of these is complete in itself, each can be read by itself; but the effect of each and of the whole series can be best secured by reading them in succession. In the first it is the story of how a great fortune was made in the stock market; in the second, how it was fraudulently diverted from the object for which it was intended; and in the third, how it was most beneficially and satisfactorily lost. The scene of the last novel was laid in part in Warner's early home in Charlemont. These works were produced with considerable intervals of time between their respective appearances, the first coming out in 1889 and the third ten years later. This detracted to some extent from the popularity which they would have attained had the different members followed one another rapidly. Still, they met with distinct success, though it has always been a question whether this success was due so much to the story as to the shrewd observation and caustic wit which were brought to bear upon what was essentially a serious study of one side of American social life.

The work with which Warner himself was least satisfied was his life of Captain John Smith, which came out in 18881. It was originally intended to be one of a series of biographies of noted men, which were to give the facts accurately but to treat them humorously. History and comedy, however, have never been blended successfully, though desperate attempts have occasionally been made to achieve that result. Warner had not long been engaged in the task before he recognized its hopelessness. For its preparation it required a special study of the man and the period, and the more time he spent upon the preliminary work, the more the humorous element tended to recede. Thus acted on by two impulses, one of a light and one of a grave nature, he moved for a while in a sort of diagonal between the two to nowhere in particular; but finally ended in treating the subject seriously.

In giving himself up to a biography in which he had no special interest, Warner felt conscious that he could not interest others. His forebodings were realized. The work, though made from a careful study of original sources, did not please him, nor did it attract the public. The attempt was all the more unfortunate because the time and toil he spent upon it diverted him from carrying out a scheme which had then taken full possession of his thoughts. This was the production of a series of essays to be entitled “Conversations on Horseback.” Had it been worked up as he sketched it in his mind, it would have been the outdoor counterpart of his “Backlog Studies.” Though in a measure based upon a horseback ride which he took in Pennsylvania in 1880, the incidents of travel as he outlined its intended treatment would have barely furnished the slightest of backgrounds. Captain John Smith, however, interfered with a project specially suited to his abilities and congenial to his tastes. That he did so possibly led the author of his life to exhibit a somewhat hostile attitude towards his hero. When the biography was finished, other engagements were pressing upon his attention. The opportunity of taking up and completing the projected series of essays never presented itself, though the subject lay in his mind for a long time and he himself believed that it would have turned out one of the best pieces of work he ever did.

It was unfortunate. For to me—and very likely to many others if not to most—Warner's strength lay above all in essay-writing. What he accomplished in this line was almost invariably pervaded by that genial grace which makes work of the kind attractive, and he exhibited everywhere in it the delicate but sure touch which preserves the just mean between saying too much and too little. The essay was in his nature, and his occupation as a journalist had developed the tendency towards this form of literary activity, as well as skill in its manipulation. Whether he wrote sketches of travel, or whether he wrote fiction, the scene depicted was from the point of view of the essayist rather than from that of the tourist or of the novelist. It is this characteristic which gives to his work in the former field its enduring interest. Again in his novels, it was not so much the story that was in his thoughts as the opportunity the varying scenes afforded for amusing observations upon manners, for comments upon life, sometimes good-natured, sometimes severe, but always entertaining, and above all, for serious study of the social problems which present themselves on every side for examination. This is distinctly the province of the essayist, and in it Warner always displayed his fullest strength.

We have seen that his first purely humorous publication of this nature was the one which made him known to the general public. It was speedily followed, however, by one of a somewhat graver character, which became at the time and has since remained a special favorite of cultivated readers. This is the volume entitled “Backlog Studies.” The attractiveness of this work is as much due to the suggestive social and literary discussions with which it abounds as to the delicate and refined humor with which the ideas are expressed. Something of the same characteristics was displayed in the two little volumes of short pieces dealing with social topics, which came out later under the respective titles of “As We Were Saying,” and “As We Go.” But there was a deeper and more serious side of his nature which found utterance in several of his essays, particularly in some which were given in the form of addresses delivered at various institutions of learning. They exhibit the charm which belongs to all his writings; but his feelings were too profoundly interested in the subjects considered to allow him to give more than occasional play to his humor. Essays contained in such a volume, for instance, as “The Relation of Literature to Life” will not appeal to him whose main object in reading is amusem*nt. Into them Warner put his deepest and most earnest convictions. The subject from which the book just mentioned derived its title lay near to his heart. No one felt more strongly than he the importance of art of all kinds, but especially of literary art, for the uplifting of a nation. No one saw more distinctly the absolute necessity of its fullest recognition in a moneymaking age and in a money-making land, if the spread of the dry rot of moral deterioration were to be prevented. The ampler horizon it presented, the loftier ideals it set up, the counteracting agency it supplied to the sordidness of motive and act which, left unchecked, was certain to overwhelm the national spirit—all these were enforced by him again and again with clearness and effectiveness. His essays of this kind will never be popular in the sense in which are his other writings. But no thoughtful man will rise up from reading them without having gained a vivid conception of the part which literature plays in the life of even the humblest, and without a deeper conviction of its necessity to any healthy development of the character of a people.

During the early part of his purely literary career a large proportion of Warner's collected writings, which then appeared, were first published in the Atlantic Monthly. But about fourteen years before his death he became closely connected with Harper's Magazine. From May, 1886, to March, 1892, he conducted the Editor's Drawer of that periodical. The month following this last date he succeeded William Dean Howells as the contributor of the Editor's Study. This position he held until July, 1898. The scope of this department was largely expanded after the death of George William Curtis in the summer of 1892, and the consequent discontinuance of the Editor's Easy Chair. Comments upon other topics than those to which his department was originally devoted, especially upon social questions, were made a distinct feature. His editorial connection with the magazine naturally led to his contributing to it numerous articles besides those which were demanded by the requirements of the position he held. Nearly all these, as well as those which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, are indicated in the bibliographical notes prefixed to the separate works.

There were, however, other literary enterprises in which he was concerned; for the calls upon him were numerous, his own appetite for work was insatiable, and his activity was indefatigable. In 1881 he assumed the editorship of the American Men of Letters series. This he opened with his own biography of Washington Irving, the resemblance between whom and himself has been made the subject of frequent remark. Later he became the editor-in-chief of the thirty odd volumes which make up the collection entitled “The World's Best Literature.” To this he contributed several articles of his own and carefully allotted and supervised the preparation of a large number of others. The labor he put upon the editing of this collection occupied him a great deal of the time from 1895 to 1898.

But literature, though in it lay his chief interest, was but one of the subjects which employed his many-sided activity. He was constantly called upon for the discharge of civic duties. The confidence felt by his fellow-citizens in his judgment and taste was almost equal to the absolute trust reposed in his integrity. The man who establishes a reputation for the possession of these qualities can never escape from bearing the burdens which a good character always imposes. If any work of art was ordered by the state, Warner was fairly certain to be chosen a member of the commission selected to decide upon the person who was to do it and upon the way it was to be done. By his fellow-townsmen he was made a member of the Park Commission. Such were some of the duties imposed; there were others voluntarily undertaken. During the latter years of his life he became increasingly interested in social questions, some of which partook of a semi-political character. One of the subjects which engaged his attention was the best method to be adopted for elevating the character and conduct of the negro population of the country. He recognized the gravity of the problem with which the nation had to deal and the difficulties attending its solution. One essay on the subject was prepared for the meeting held at Washington in May, 1900, of the American Social Science Association, of which he was president. He was not able to be there in person. The disease which was ultimately to strike him down had already made its preliminary attack. His address was accordingly read for him. It was a subject of special regret that he could not be present to set forth more fully his views; for the debate, which followed the presentation of his paper, was by no means confined to the meeting, but extended to the press of the whole country. Whether the conclusions he reached were right or wrong, they were in no case adopted hastily nor indeed without the fullest consideration.

But a more special interest of his lay in prison reform. The subject had engaged his attention long before he published anything in connection with it. Later one of the earliest articles he wrote for Harper's Magazine was devoted to it. It was in his thoughts just before his death. He was a member of the Connecticut commission on prisons, of the National Prison Association, and a vice-president of the New York Association for Prison Reform. A strong advocate of the doctrine of the indeterminate sentence, he had little patience with many of the judicial outgivings on that subject. To him they seemed opinions inherited, not formed, and in most cases were nothing more than the result of prejudice working upon ignorance. This particular question was one which he purposed to make the subject of his address as president of the Social Science Association, at its annual meeting in 1901. He never lived to complete what he had in mind.

During his later years the rigor of the Northern winter had been too severe for Warner's health. He had accordingly found it advisable to spend as much of this season as he could in warmer regions. He visited at various times parts of the South, Mexico, and California. He passed the winter of 1892-93 at Florence; but he found the air of the valley of the Arno no perceptible improvement upon that of the valley of the Connecticut. In truth, neither disease nor death entertains a prejudice against any particular locality. This fact he was to learn by personal experience. In the spring of 1899, while at New Orleans, he was stricken by pneumonia which nearly brought him to the grave. He recovered, but it is probable that the strength of his system was permanently impaired, and with it his power of resisting disease. Still his condition was not such as to prevent him from going on with various projects he had been contemplating or from forming new ones. The first distinct warning of the approaching end was the facial paralysis which suddenly attacked him in April, 1900, while on a visit to Norfolk, Va. Yet even from that he seemed to be apparently on the full road to recovery during the following summer.

It was in the second week of October, 1900, that Warner paid me a visit of two or three days. He was purposing to spend the winter in Southern California, coming back to the East in ample time to attend the annual meeting of the Social Science Association. His thoughts were even then busy with the subject of the address which, as president, he was to deliver on that occasion. It seemed to me that I had never seen him when his mind was more active or more vigorous. I was not only struck by the clearness of his views—some of which were distinctly novel, at least to me—but by the felicity and effectiveness with which they were put.

Never, too, had I been more impressed with the suavity, the agreeableness, the general charm of his manner. He had determined during the coming winter to learn to ride the wheel, and we then and there planned to take a bicycle trip during the following summer, as we had previously made excursions together on horseback. When we parted, it was with the agreement that we should meet the next spring in Washington and fix definitely upon the time and region of our intended ride. It was on a Saturday morning that I bade him good-by, apparently in the best of health and spirits. It was on the evening of the following Saturday —October 20th—that the condensed, passionless, relentless message which the telegraph transmits, informed me that he had died that afternoon.

That very day he had lunched at a friend's, where were gathered several of his special associates who had chanced to come together at the same house, and then had gone to the office of the Hartford Courant. There was not the slightest indication apparent of the end that was so near. After the company broke up, he started out to pay a visit to one of the city parks, of which he was a commissioner. On his way thither, feeling a certain faintness, he turned aside into a small house whose occupants he knew, and asked to sit down for a brief rest, and then, as the faintness increased, to lie undisturbed on the lounge for a few minutes. The few minutes passed, and with them his life. In the strictest sense of the words, he had fallen asleep. From one point of view it was an ideal way to die. To the individual, death coming so gently, so suddenly, is shorn of all its terrors. It is only those who live to remember and to lament that the suffering comes which has been spared the victim. Even to them, however, is the consolation that though they may have been fully prepared for the coming of the inevitable event, it would have been none the less painful when it actually came.

Warner as a writer we all know. The various and varying opinions entertained about the quality and value of his work do not require notice here. Future times will assign him his exact position in the roll of American authors, and we need not trouble ourselves to anticipate, as we shall certainly not be able to influence, its verdict. But to only a comparatively few of those who knew him as a writer was it given to know him as a man; to still fewer to know him in that familiarity of intimacy which reveals all that is fine or ignoble in a man's personality. Scanty is the number of those who will come out of that severest of ordeals so successfully as he. The same conclusion would be reached, whether we were to consider him in his private relations or in his career as a man of letters. Among the irritable race of authors no one was freer from petty envy or jealousy. During many years of close intercourse, in which he constantly gave utterance to his views both of men and things with absolute unreserve, I recall no disparaging opinion ever expressed of any writer with whom he had been compared either for praise or blame. He had unquestionably definite and decided opinions. He would point out that such or such a work was above or below its author's ordinary level; but there was never any ill-nature in his comment, no depreciation for depreciation's sake. Never in truth was any one more loyal to his friends. If his literary conscience would not permit him to say anything in favor of something which they had done, he usually contented himself with saying nothing. Whatever failing there was on his critical side was due to this somewhat uncritical attitude; for it is from his particular friends that the writer is apt to get the most dispassionate consideration and sometimes the coldest commendation. It was a part of Warner's generous recognition of others that he was in all sincerity disposed to attribute to those he admired and to whom he was attached an ability of which some of them at least were much inclined to doubt their own possession.

Were I indeed compelled to select any one word which would best give the impression, both social and literary, of Warner's personality, I should be disposed to designate it as urbanity. That seems to indicate best the one trait which most distinguished him either in conversation or writing. Whatever it was, it was innate, not assumed. It was the genuine outcome of the kindliness and broad-mindedness of his nature and led him to sympathize with men of all positions in life and of all kinds of ability. It manifested itself in his attitude towards every one with whom he came in contact. It led him to treat with fullest consideration all who were in the least degree under his direction, and converted in consequence the toil of subordinates into a pleasure. It impelled him to do unsought everything which lay in his power for the success of those in whom he felt interest. Many a young writer will recall his words of encouragement at some period in his own career when the quiet appreciation of one meant more to him than did later the loud applause of many. As it was in public, so it was in private life. The generosity of his spirit, the geniality and high-bred courtesy of his manner, rendered a visit to his home as much a social delight as his wide knowledge of literature and his appreciation of what was best in it made it an intellectual entertainment.




This paper was prepared and delivered at several of our universities as introductory to a course of five lectures which insisted on the value of literature in common life—some hearers thought with an exaggerated emphasis—and attempted to maintain the thesis that all genuine, enduring literature is the outcome of the time that produces it, is responsive to the general sentiment of its time; that this close relation to human life insures its welcome ever after as a true representation of human nature; and that consequently the most remunerative method of studying a literature is to study the people for whom it was produced. Illustrations of this were drawn from the Greek, the French, and the English literatures. This study always throws a flood of light upon the meaning of the text of an old author, the same light that the reader unconsciously has upon contemporary pages dealing with the life with which he is familiar. The reader can test this by taking up his Shakespeare after a thorough investigation of the customs, manners, and popular life of the Elizabethan period. Of course the converse is true that good literature is an open door into the life and mode of thought of the time and place where it originated.


I hade a vision once—you may all have had a like one—of the stream of time flowing through a limitless land. Along its banks sprang up in succession the generations of man. They did not move with the stream-they lived their lives and sank away; and always below them new generations appeared, to play their brief parts in what is called history—the sequence of human actions. The stream flowed on, opening for itself forever a way through the land. I saw that these successive dwellers on the stream were busy in constructing and setting afloat vessels of various size and form and rig—arks, galleys, galleons, sloops, brigs, boats propelled by oars, by sails, by steam. I saw the anxiety with which each builder launched his venture, and watched its performance and progress. The anxiety was to invent and launch something that should float on to the generations to come, and carry the name of the builder and the fame of his generation. It was almost pathetic, these puny efforts, because faith always sprang afresh in the success of each new venture. Many of the vessels could scarcely be said to be launched at all; they sank like lead, close to the shore. Others floated out for a time, and then, struck by a flaw in the wind, heeled over and disappeared. Some, not well put together, broke into fragments in the bufleting of the waves. Others danced on the flood, taking the sun on their sails, and went away with good promise of a long voyage. But only a few floated for any length of time, and still fewer were ever seen by the generation succeeding that which launched them. The shores of the stream were strewn with wrecks; there lay bleaching in the sand the ribs of many a once gallant craft.

Innumerable were the devices of the builders to keep their inventions afloat. Some paid great attention to the form of the hull, others to the kind of cargo and the loading of it, while others—and these seemed the majority—trusted more to some new sort of sail, or new fashion of rudder, or new application of propelling power. And it was wonderful to see what these new ingenuities did for a time, and how each generation was deceived into the belief that its products would sail on forever. But one fate practically came to the most of them. They were too heavy, they were too light, they were built of old material, and they went to the bottom, they went ashore, they broke up and floated in fragments. And especially did the crafts built in imitation of something that had floated down from a previous generation come to quick disaster. I saw only here and there a vessel, beaten by weather and blackened by time —so old, perhaps, that the name of the maker was no longer legible; or some fragments of antique wood that had evidently come from far up the stream. When such a vessel appeared there was sure to arise great dispute about it, and from time to time expeditions were organized to ascend the river and discover the place and circ*mstances of its origin. Along the banks, at intervals, whole fleets of boats and fragments had gone ashore, and were piled up in bays, like the driftwood of a subsided freshet. Efforts were made to dislodge these from time to time and set them afloat again, newly christened, with fresh paint and sails, as if they stood a better chance of the voyage than any new ones. Indeed, I saw that a large part of the commerce of this river was, in fact, the old hulks and stranded wrecks that each generation had set afloat again. As I saw it in this foolish vision, how pathetic this labor was from generation to generation; so many vessels launched; so few making a voyage even for a lifetime; so many builders confident of immortality; so many lives outlasting this coveted reputation! And still the generations, each with touching hopefulness, busied themselves with this child's play on the banks of the stream; and still the river flowed on, whelming and wrecking the most of that so confidently committed to it, and bearing only here and there, on its swift, wide tide, a ship, a boat, a shingle.

These hosts of men whom I saw thus occupied since history began were authors; these vessels were books; these heaps of refuse in the bays were great libraries. The allegory admits of any amount of ingenious parallelism. It is nevertheless misleading; it is the illusion of an idle fancy. I have introduced it because it expresses, with some whimsical exaggeration—not much more than that of “The Vision of Mirza”—the popular notion about literature and its relation to human life. In the popular conception, literature is as much a thing apart from life as these boats on the stream of time were from the existence, the struggle, the decay of the generations along the shore. I say in the popular conception, for literature is wholly different from this, not only in its effect upon individual lives, but upon the procession of lives upon this earth; it is not only an integral part of all of them, but, with its sister arts, it is the one unceasing continuity in history. Literature and art are not only the records and monuments made by the successive races of men, not only the local expressions of thought and emotion, but they are, to change the figure, the streams that flow on, enduring, amid the passing show of men, reviving, transforming, ennobling the fleeting generations. Without this continuity of thought and emotion, history would present us only a succession of meaningless experiments. The experiments fail, the experiments succeed—at any rate, they end—and what remains for transmission, for the sustenance of succeeding peoples? Nothing but the thought and emotion evolved and expressed. It is true that every era, each generation, seems to have its peculiar work to do; it is to subdue the intractable earth, to repel or to civilize the barbarians, to settle society in order, to build cities, to amass wealth in centres, to make deserts bloom, to construct edifices such as were never made before, to bring all men within speaking distance of each other—lucky if they have anything to say when that is accomplished—to extend the information of the few among the many, or to multiply the means of easy and luxurious living. Age after age the world labors for these things with the busy absorption of a colony of ants in its castle of sand. And we must confess that the process, such, for instance, as that now going on here—this onset of many peoples, which is transforming the continent of America—is a spectacle to excite the imagination in the highest degree. If there were any poet capable of putting into an epic the spirit of this achievement, what an epic would be his! Can it be that there is anything of more consequence in life than the great business in hand, which absorbs the vitality and genius of this age? Surely, we say, it is better to go by steam than to go afoot, because we reach our destination sooner—getting there quickly being a supreme object. It is well to force the soil to yield a hundred-fold, to congregate men in masses so that all their energies shall be taxed to bring food to themselves, to stimulate industries, drag coal and metal from the bowels of the earth, cover its surface with rails for swift-running carriages, to build ever larger palaces, warehouses, ships. This gigantic achievement strikes the imagination.

If the world in which you live happens to be the world of books, if your pursuit is to know what has been done and said in the world, to the end that your own conception of the value of life may be enlarged, and that better things may be done and said hereafter, this world and this pursuit assume supreme importance in your mind. But you can in a moment place yourself in relations—you have not to go far, perhaps only to speak to your next neighbor—where the very existence of your world is scarcely recognized. All that has seemed to you of supreme importance is ignored. You have entered a world that is called practical, where the things that we have been speaking of are done; you have interest in it and sympathy with it, because your scheme of life embraces the development of ideas into actions; but these men of realities have only the smallest conception of the world that seems to you of the highest importance; and, further, they have no idea that they owe anything to it, that it has ever influenced their lives or can add anything to them. And it may chance that you have, for the moment, a sense of insignificance in the small part you are playing in the drama going forward. Go out of your library, out of the small circle of people who talk of books, who are engaged in research, whose liveliest interest is in the progress of ideas, in the expression of thought and emotion that is in literature; go out of this atmosphere into a region where it does not exist, it may be into a place given up to commerce and exchange, or to manufacturing, or to the development of certain other industries, such as mining, or the pursuit of office—which is sometimes called politics. You will speedily be aware how completely apart from human life literature is held to be, how few people regard it seriously as a necessary element in life, as anything more than an amusem*nt or a vexation. I have in mind a mountain district, stripped, scarred, and blackened by the ruthless lumbermen, ravished of its forest wealth; divested of its beauty, which has recently become the field of vast coal-mining operations. Remote from communication, it was yesterday an exhausted, wounded, deserted country. Today audacious railways are entering it, crawling up its mountain slopes, rounding its dizzy precipices, spanning its valleys on iron cobwebs, piercing its hills with tunnels. Drifts are opened in its coal seams, to which iron tracks shoot away from the main line; in the woods is seen the gleam of the engineer's level, is heard the rattle of heavily-laden wagons on the newly-made roads; tents are pitched, uncouth shanties have sprung up, great stables, boarding-houses, stores, workshops; the miner, the blacksmith, the mason, the carpenter have arrived; households have been set up in temporary barracks, children are already there who need a school, women who must have a church and society; the stagnation has given place to excitement, money has flowed in, and everywhere are the hum of industry and the swish of the goad of American life. On this hillside, which in June was covered with oaks, is already in October a town; the stately trees have been felled; streets are laid out and graded and named; there are a hundred dwellings, there are a store, a post-office, an inn; the telegraph has reached it, and the telephone and the electric light; in a few weeks more it will be in size a city, with thousands of people—a town made out of hand by drawing men and women from other towns, civilized men and women, who have voluntarily put themselves in a position where they must be civilized over again.

This is a marvelous exhibition of what energy and capital can do. You acknowledge as much to the creators of it. You remember that not far back in history such a transformation as this could not have been wrought in a hundred years. This is really life, this is doing something in the world, and in the presence of it you can see why the creators of it regard your world, which seemed to you so important, the world whose business is the evolution and expression of thought and emotion, as insignificant. Here is a material addition to the business and wealth of the race, here employment for men who need it, here is industry replacing stagnation, here is the pleasure of overcoming difficulties and conquering obstacles. Why encounter these difficulties? In order that more coal may be procured to operate more railway trains at higher speed, to supply more factories, to add to the industrial stir of modern life. The men who projected and are pushing on this enterprise, with an executive ability that would maintain and manoeuvre an army in a campaign, are not, however, consciously philanthropists, moved by the charitable purpose of giving employment to men, or finding satisfaction in making two blades of grass grow where one grew before. They enjoy no doubt the sense of power in bringing things to pass, the feeling of leadership and the consequence derived from its recognition; but they embark in this enterprise in order that they may have the position and the luxury that increased wealth will bring, the object being, in most cases, simply material advantages—sumptuous houses, furnished with all the luxuries which are the signs of wealth, including, of course, libraries and pictures and statuary and curiosities, the most showy equipages and troops of servants; the object being that their wives shall dress magnificently, glitter in diamonds and velvets, and never need to put their feet to the ground; that they may command the best stalls in the church, the best pews in the theatre, the choicest rooms in the inn, and—a consideration that Plato does not mention, because his world was not our world—that they may impress and reduce to obsequious deference the hotel clerk.

This life—for this enterprise and its objects are types of a considerable portion of life—is not without its ideal, its hero, its highest expression, its consummate flower. It is expressed in a word which I use without any sense of its personality, as the French use the word Barnum—for our crude young nation has the distinction of adding a verb to the French language, the verb to barnum—it is expressed in the well-known name Croesus. This is a standard—impossible to be reached perhaps, but a standard. If one may say so, the country is sown with seeds of Croesus, and the crop is forward and promising. The interest to us now in the observation of this phase of modern life is not in the least for purposes of satire or of reform. We are inquiring how wholly this conception of life is divorced from the desire to learn what has been done and said to the end that better things may be done and said hereafter, in order that we may understand the popular conception of the insignificant value of literature in human affairs. But it is not aside from our subject, rather right in its path, to take heed of what the philosophers say of the effect in other respects of the pursuit of wealth.

One cause of the decay of the power of defense in a state, says the Athenian Stranger in Plato's Laws—one cause is the love of wealth, which wholly absorbs men and never for a moment allows them to think of anything but their private possessions; on this the soul of every citizen hangs suspended, and can attend to nothing but his daily gain; mankind are ready to learn any branch of knowledge and to follow any pursuit which tends to this end, and they laugh at any other; that is the reason why a city will not be in earnest about war or any other good and honorable pursuit.

The accumulation of gold in the treasury of private individuals, says Socrates, in the Republic, is the ruin of democracy. They invent illegal modes of expenditure; and what do they or their wives care about the law?

“And then one, seeing another's display, proposes to rival him, and thus the whole body of citizens acquires a similar character.

“After that they get on in a trade, and the more they think of making a fortune, the less they think of virtue; for when riches and virtue are placed together in the balance, the one always rises as the other falls.

“And in proportion as riches and rich men are honored in the state, virtue and the virtuous are dishonored.

“And what is honored is cultivated, and that which has no honor is neglected.

“And so at last, instead of loving contention and glory, men become lovers of trade and money, and they honor and reverence the rich man and make a ruler of him, and dishonor the poor man.

“They do so.”

The object of a reasonable statesman (it is Plato who is really speaking in the Laws) is not that the state should be as great and rich as possible, should possess gold and silver, and have the greatest empire by sea and land.

The citizen must, indeed, be happy and good, and the legislator will seek to make him so; but very rich and very good at the same time he cannot be; not at least in the sense in which many speak of riches. For they describe by the term “rich” the few who have the most valuable possessions, though the owner of them be a rogue. And if this is true, I can never assent to the doctrine that the rich man will be happy: he must be good as well as rich. And good in a high degree and rich in a high degree at the same time he cannot be. Some one will ask, Why not? And we shall answer, Because acquisitions which come from sources which are just and unjust indifferently are more than double those which come from just sources only; and the sums which are expended neither honorably nor disgracefully are only half as great as those which are expended honorably and on honorable purposes. Thus if one acquires double and spends half, the other, who is in the opposite case and is a good man, cannot possibly be wealthier than he. The first (I am speaking of the saver, and not of the spender) is not always bad; he may indeed in some cases be utterly bad, but as I was saying, a good man he never is. For he who receives money unjustly as well as justly, and spends neither justly nor unjustly, will be a rich man if he be also thrifty. On the other hand, the utterly bad man is generally profligate, and therefore poor; while he who spends on noble objects, and acquires wealth by just means only, can hardly be remarkable for riches any more than he can be very poor. The argument, then, is right in declaring that the very rich are not good, and if they are not good they are not happy.

And the conclusion of Plato is that we ought not to pursue any occupation to the neglect of that for which riches exist—“I mean,” he says, “soul and body, which without gymnastics and without education will never be worth anything; and therefore, as we have said not once but many times, the care of riches should have the last place in our thoughts.”

Men cannot be happy unless they are good, and they cannot be good unless the care of the soul occupies the first place in their thoughts. That is the first interest of man; the interest in the body is midway; and last of all, when rightly regarded, is the interest about money.

The majority of mankind reverses this order of interests, and therefore it sets literature to one side as of no practical account in human life. More than this, it not only drops it out of mind, but it has no conception of its influence and power in the very affairs from which it seems to be excluded. It is my purpose to show not only the close relation of literature to ordinary life, but its eminent position in life, and its saving power in lives which do not suspect its influence or value. Just as it is virtue that saves the state, if it be saved, although the majority do not recognize it and attribute the salvation of the state to energy, and to obedience to the laws of political economy, and to discoveries in science, and to financial contrivances; so it is that in the life of generations of men, considered from an ethical and not from a religious point of view, the most potent and lasting influence for a civilization that is worth anything, a civilization that does not by its own nature work its decay, is that which I call literature. It is time to define what we mean by literature. We may arrive at the meaning by the definition of exclusion. We do not mean all books, but some books; not all that is written and published, but only a small part of it. We do not mean books of law, of theology, of politics, of science, of medicine, and not necessarily books of travel, or adventure, or biography, or fiction even. These may all be ephemeral in their nature. The term belles-lettres does not fully express it, for it is too narrow. In books of law, theology, politics, medicine, science, travel, adventure, biography, philosophy, and fiction there may be passages that possess, or the whole contents may possess, that quality which comes within our meaning of literature. It must have in it something of the enduring and the universal. When we use the term art, we do not mean the arts; we are indicating a quality that may be in any of the arts. In art and literature we require not only an expression of the facts in nature and in human life, but of feeling, thought, emotion. There must be an appeal to the universal in the race. It is, for example, impossible for a Christian today to understand what the religious system of the Egyptians of three thousand years ago was to the Egyptian mind, or to grasp the idea conveyed to a Chinaman's thought in the phrase, “the worship of the principle of heaven”; but the Christian of today comprehends perfectly the letters of an Egyptian scribe in the time of Thotmes III., who described the comical miseries of his campaign with as clear an appeal to universal human nature as Horace used in his 'Iter Brundusium;' and the maxims of Confucius are as comprehensible as the bitter-sweetness of Thomas a Kempis. De Quincey distinguishes between the literature of knowledge and the literature of power. The definition is not exact; but we may say that the one is a statement of what is known, the other is an emanation from the man himself; or that one may add to the sum of human knowledge, and the other addresses itself to a higher want in human nature than the want of knowledge. We select and set aside as literature that which is original, the product of what we call genius. As I have said, the subject of a production does not always determine the desired quality which makes it literature. A biography may contain all the facts in regard to a man and his character, arranged in an orderly and comprehensible manner, and yet not be literature; but it may be so written, like Plutarch's Lives or Defoe's account of Robinson Crusoe, that it is literature, and of imperishable value as a picture of human life, as a satisfaction to the want of the human mind which is higher than the want of knowledge. And this contribution, which I desire to be understood to mean when I speak of literature, is precisely the thing of most value in the lives of the majority of men, whether they are aware of it or not. It may be weighty and profound; it may be light, as light as the fall of a leaf or a bird's song on the shore; it may be the thought of Plato when he discourses of the character necessary in a perfect state, or of Socrates, who, out of the theorem of an absolute beauty, goodness, greatness, and the like, deduces the immortality of the soul; or it may be the lovesong of a Scotch plowman: but it has this one quality of answering to a need in human nature higher than a need for facts, for knowledge, for wealth.

In noticing the remoteness in the popular conception of the relation of literature to life, we must not neglect to take into account what may be called the arrogance of culture, an arrogance that has been emphasized, in these days of reaction from the old attitude of literary obsequiousness, by harsh distinctions and hard words, which are paid back by equally emphasized contempt. The apostles of light regard the rest of mankind as barbarians and Philistines, and the world retorts that these self-constituted apostles are idle word-mongers, without any sympathy with humanity, critics and jeerers who do nothing to make the conditions of life easier. It is natural that every man should magnify the circle of the world in which he is active and imagine that all outside of it is comparatively unimportant. Everybody who is not a drone has his sufficient world. To the lawyer it is his cases and the body of law, it is the legal relation of men that is of supreme importance; to the merchant and manufacturer all the world consists in buying and selling, in the production and exchange of products; to the physician all the world is diseased and in need of remedies; to the clergyman speculation and the discussion of dogmas and historical theology assume immense importance; the politician has his world, the artist his also, and the man of books and letters a realm still apart from all others. And to each of these persons what is outside of his world seems of secondary importance; he is absorbed in his own, which seems to him all-embracing. To the lawyer everybody is or ought to be a litigant; to the grocer the world is that which eats, and pays—with more or less regularity; to the scholar the world is in books and ideas. One realizes how possessed he is with his own little world only when by chance he changes his profession or occupation and looks back upon the law, or politics, or journalism, and sees in its true proportion what it was that once absorbed him and seemed to him so large. When Socrates discusses with Gorgias the value of rhetoric, the use of which, the latter asserts, relates to the greatest and best of human things, Socrates says: I dare say you have heard men singing—at feasts the old drinking-song, in which the singers enumerate the goods of life-first, health; beauty next; thirdly, wealth honestly acquired. The producers of these things—the physician, the trainer, the money-maker—each in turn contends that his art produces the greatest good. Surely, says the physician, health is the greatest good; there is more good in my art, says the trainer, for my business is to make men beautiful and strong in body; and consider, says the money-maker, whether any one can produce a greater good than wealth. But, insists Gorgias, the greatest good of men, of which I am the creator, is that which gives men freedom in their persons, and the power of ruling over others in their several states—that is, the word which persuades the judge in the court, or the senators in the council, or the citizens in the assembly: if you have the power of uttering this word, you will have the physician your slave, and the trainer your slave, and the moneymaker of whom you talk will be found to gather treasures, not for himself, but for those who are able to speak and persuade the multitude.

What we call life is divided into occupations and interest, and the horizons of mankind are bounded by them. It happens naturally enough, therefore, that there should be a want of sympathy in regard to these pursuits among men, the politician despising the scholar, and the scholar looking down upon the politician, and the man of affairs, the man of industries, not caring to conceal his contempt for both the others. And still more reasonable does the division appear between all the world which is devoted to material life, and the few who live in and for the expression of thought and emotion. It is a pity that this should be so, for it can be shown that life would not be worth living divorced from the gracious and ennobling influence of literature, and that literature suffers atrophy when it does not concern itself with the facts and feelings of men.

If the poet lives in a world apart from the vulgar, the most lenient apprehension of him is that his is a sort of fool's paradise. One of the most curious features in the relation of literature to life is this, that while poetry, the production of the poet, is as necessary to universal man as the atmosphere, and as acceptable, the poet is regarded with that mingling of compassion and undervaluation, and perhaps awe, which once attached to the weak-minded and insane, and which is sometimes expressed by the term “inspired idiot.” However the poet may have been petted and crowned, however his name may have been diffused among peoples, I doubt not that the popular estimate of him has always been substantially what it is today. And we all know that it is true, true in our individual consciousness, that if a man be known as a poet and nothing else, if his character is sustained by no other achievement than the production of poetry, he suffers in our opinion a loss of respect. And this is only recovered for him after he is dead, and his poetry is left alone to speak for his name. However fond my lord and lady were of the ballad, the place of the minstrel was at the lower end of the hall. If we are pushed to say why this is, why this happens to the poet and not to the producers of anything else that excites the admiration of mankind, we are forced to admit that there is something in the poet to sustain the popular judgment of his in utility. In all the occupations and professions of life there is a sign put up, invisible—but none the less real, and expressing an almost universal feeling—“No poet need apply.” And this is not because there are so many poor poets; for there are poor lawyers, poor soldiers, poor statesmen, incompetent business men; but none of the personal disparagement attaches to them that is affixed to the poet. This popular estimate of the poet extends also, possibly in less degree, to all the producers of the literature that does not concern itself with knowledge. It is not our care to inquire further why this is so, but to repeat that it is strange that it should be so when poetry is, and has been at all times, the universal solace of all peoples who have emerged out of barbarism, the one thing not supernatural and yet akin to the supernatural, that makes the world, in its hard and sordid conditions, tolerable to the race. For poetry is not merely the comfort of the refined and the delight of the educated; it is the alleviator of poverty, the pleasure-ground of the ignorant, the bright spot in the most dreary pilgrimage. We cannot conceive the abject animal condition of our race were poetry abstracted; and we do not wonder that this should be so when we reflect that it supplies a want higher than the need for food, for raiment, or ease of living, and that the mind needs support as much as the body. The majority of mankind live largely in the imagination, the office or use of which is to lift them in spirit out of the bare physical conditions in which the majority exist. There are races, which we may call the poetical races, in which this is strikingly exemplified. It would be difficult to find poverty more complete, physical wants less gratified, the conditions of life more bare than among the Oriental peoples from the Nile to the Ganges and from the Indian Ocean to the steppes of Siberia. But there are perhaps none among the more favored races who live so much in the world of imagination fed by poetry and romance. Watch the throng seated about an Arab or Indian or Persian story-teller and poet, men and women with all the marks of want, hungry, almost naked, without any prospect in life of ever bettering their sordid condition; see their eyes kindle, their breathing suspended, their tense absorption; see their tears, hear their laughter, note their excitement as the magician unfolds to them a realm of the imagination in which they are free for the hour to wander, tasting a keen and deep enjoyment that all the wealth of Croesus cannot purchase for his disciples. Measure, if you can, what poetry is to them, what their lives would be without it. To the millions and millions of men who are in this condition, the bard, the story-teller, the creator of what we are considering as literature, comes with the one thing that can lift them out of poverty, suffering—all the woe of which nature is so heedless.

It is not alone of the poetical nations of the East that this is true, nor is this desire for the higher enjoyment always wanting in the savage tribes of the West. When the Jesuit Fathers in 1768 landed upon the almost untouched and unexplored southern Pacific coast, they found in the San Gabriel Valley in Lower California that the Indians had games and feasts at which they decked themselves in flower garlands that reached to their feet, and that at these games there were song contests which sometimes lasted for three days. This contest of the poets was an old custom with them. And we remember how the ignorant Icelanders, who had never seen a written character, created the splendid Saga, and handed it down from father to son. We shall scarcely find in Europe a peasantry whose abject poverty is not in some measure alleviated by this power which literature gives them to live outside it. Through our sacred Scriptures, through the ancient storytellers, through the tradition which in literature made, as I said, the chief continuity in the stream of time, we all live a considerable, perhaps the better, portion of our lives in the Orient. But I am not sure that the Scotch peasant, the crofter in his Highland cabin, the operative in his squalid tenement-house, in the hopelessness of poverty, in the grime of a life made twice as hard as that of the Arab by an inimical climate, does not owe more to literature than the man of culture, whose material surroundings are heaven in the imagination of the poor. Think what his wretched life would be, in its naked deformity, without the popular ballads, without the romances of Scott, which have invested his land for him, as for us, with enduring charm; and especially without the songs of Burns, which keep alive in him the feeling that he is a man, which impart to his blunted sensibility the delicious throb of spring-songs that enable him to hear the birds, to see the bits of blue sky-songs that make him tender of the wee bit daisy at his feet—songs that hearten him when his heart is fit to break with misery. Perhaps the English peasant, the English operative, is less susceptible to such influences than the Scotch or the Irish; but over him, sordid as his conditions are, close kin as he is to the clod, the light of poetry is diffused; there filters into his life, also, something of that divine stream of which we have spoken, a dialect poem that touches him, the leaf of a psalm, some bit of imagination, some tale of pathos, set afloat by a poor writer so long ago that it has become the common stock of human tradition-maybe from Palestine, maybe from the Ganges, perhaps from Athens—some expression of real emotion, some creation, we say, that makes for him a world, vague and dimly apprehended, that is not at all the actual world in which he sins and suffers. The poor woman, in a hut with an earth floor, a reeking roof, a smoky chimney, barren of comfort, so indecent that a gentleman would not stable his horse in it, sits and sews upon a coarse garment, while she rocks the cradle of an infant about whom she cherishes no illusions that his lot will be other than that of his father before him. As she sits forlorn, it is not the wretched hovel that she sees, nor other hovels like it—rows of tenements of hopeless poverty, the ale-house, the gin-shop, the coal-pit, and the choking factory—but:

 “Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood Stand dressed in living green” 

for her, thanks to the poet. But, alas for the poet there is not a peasant nor a wretched operative of them all who will not shake his head and tap his forehead with his forefinger when the poor poet chap passes by. The peasant has the same opinion of him that the physician, the trainer, and the money-lender had of the rhetorician.

The hard conditions of the lonely New England life, with its religious theories as sombre as its forests, its rigid notions of duty as difficult to make bloom into sweetness and beauty as the stony soil, would have been unendurable if they had not been touched with the ideal created by the poet. There was in creed and purpose the virility that creates a state, and, as Menander says, the country which is cultivated with difficulty produces brave men; but we leave out an important element in the lives of the Pilgrims if we overlook the means they had of living above their barren circ*mstances. I do not speak only of the culture which many of them brought from the universities, of the Greek and Roman classics, and what unworldly literature they could glean from the productive age of Elizabeth and James, but of another source, more universally resorted to, and more powerful in exciting imagination and emotion, and filling the want in human nature of which we have spoken. They had the Bible, and it was more to them, much more, than a book of religion, than a revelation of religious truth, a rule for the conduct of life, or a guide to heaven. It supplied the place to them of the Mahabharata to the Hindoo, of the story-teller to the Arab. It opened to them a boundless realm of poetry and imagination.

What is the Bible? It might have sufficed, accepted as a book of revelation, for all the purposes of moral guidance, spiritual consolation, and systematized authority, if it had been a collection of precepts, a dry code of morals, an arsenal of judgments, and a treasury of promises. We are accustomed to think of the Pilgrims as training their intellectual faculties in the knottiest problems of human responsibility and destiny, toughening their mental fibre in wrestling with dogmas and the decrees of Providence, forgetting what else they drew out of the Bible: what else it was to them in a degree it has been to few peoples many age. For the Bible is the unequaled record of thought and emotion, the reservoir of poetry, traditions, stories, parables, exaltations, consolations, great imaginative adventure, for which the spirit of man is always longing. It might have been, in warning examples and commands, all-sufficient to enable men to make a decent pilgrimage on earth and reach a better country; but it would have been a very different book to mankind if it had been only a volume of statutes, and if it lacked its wonderful literary quality. It might have enabled men to reach a better country, but not, while on earth, to rise into and live in that better country, or to live in a region above the sordidness of actual life. For, apart from its religious intention and sacred character, the book is so written that it has supremely in its history, poetry, prophecies, promises, stories, that clear literary quality that supplies, as certainly no other single book does, the want in the human mind which is higher than the want of facts or knowledge.

The Bible is the best illustration of the literature of power, for it always concerns itself with life, it touches it at all points. And this is the test of any piece of literature—its universal appeal to human nature. When I consider the narrow limitations of the Pilgrim households, the absence of luxury, the presence of danger and hardship, the harsh laws—only less severe than the contemporary laws of England and Virginia—the weary drudgery, the few pleasures, the curb upon the expression of emotion and of tenderness, the ascetic repression of worldly thought, the absence of poetry in the routine occupations and conditions, I can feel what the Bible must have been to them. It was an open door into a world where emotion is expressed, where imagination can range, where love and longing find a language, where imagery is given to every noble and suppressed passion of the soul, where every aspiration finds wings. It was history, or, as Thucydides said, philosophy teaching by example; it was the romance of real life; it was entertainment unfailing; the wonder-book of childhood, the volume of sweet sentiment to the shy maiden, the sword to the soldier, the inciter of the youth to heroic enduring of hardness, it was the refuge of the aged in failing activity. Perhaps we can nowhere find a better illustration of the true relation of literature to life than in this example.

Let us consider the comparative value of literature to mankind. By comparative value I mean its worth to men in comparison with other things of acknowledged importance, such as the creation of industries, the government of States, the manipulation of the politics of an age, the achievements in war and discovery, and the lives of admirable men. It needs a certain perspective to judge of this aright, for the near and the immediate always assume importance. The work that an age has on hand, whether it be discovery, conquest, the wars that determine boundaries or are fought for policies, the industries that develop a country or affect the character of a people, the wielding of power, the accumulation of fortunes, the various activities of any given civilization or period, assume such enormous proportions to those engaged in them that such a modest thing as the literary product seems insignificant in comparison; and hence it is that the man of action always holds in slight esteem the man of thought, and especially the expresser of feeling and emotion, the poet and the humorist. It is only when we look back over the ages, when civilizations have passed or changed, over the rivalries of States, the ambitions and enmities of men, the shining deeds and the base deeds that make up history, that we are enabled to see what remains, what is permanent. Perhaps the chief result left to the world out of a period of heroic exertion, of passion and struggle and accumulation, is a sheaf of poems, or the record by a man of letters of some admirable character. Spain filled a large place in the world in the sixteenth century, and its influence upon history is by no means spent yet; but we have inherited out of that period nothing, I dare say, that is of more value than the romance of Don Quixote. It is true that the best heritage of generation from generation is the character of great men; but we always owe its transmission to the poet and the writer. Without Plato there would be no Socrates. There is no influence comparable in human life to the personality of a powerful man, so long as he is present to his generation, or lives in the memory of those who felt his influence. But after time has passed, will the world, will human life, that is essentially the same in all changing conditions, be more affected by what Bismarck did or by what Goethe said?

We may without impropriety take for an illustration of the comparative value of literature to human needs the career of a man now living. In the opinion of many, Mr. Gladstone is the greatest Englishman of this age. What would be the position of the British empire, what would be the tendency of English politics and society without him, is a matter for speculation. He has not played such a role for England and its neighbors as Bismarck has played for Germany and the Continent, but he has been one of the most powerful influences in molding English action. He is the foremost teacher. Rarely in history has a nation depended more upon a single man, at times, than the English upon Gladstone, upon his will, his ability, and especially his character. In certain recent crises the thought of losing him produced something like a panic in the English mind, justifying in regard to him, the hyperbole of Choate upon the death of Webster, that the sailor on the distant sea would feel less safe—as if a protecting providence had been withdrawn from the world. His mastery of finance and of economic problems, his skill in debate, his marvelous achievements in oratory, have extorted the admiration of his enemies. There is scarcely a province in government, letters, art, or research in which the mind can win triumphs that he has not invaded and displayed his power in; scarcely a question in politics, reform, letters, religion, archaeology, sociology, which he has not discussed with ability. He is a scholar, critic, parliamentarian, orator, voluminous writer. He seems equally at home in every field of human activity—a man of prodigious capacity and enormous acquirements. He can take up, with a turn of the hand, and always with vigor, the cause of the Greeks, Papal power, education, theology, the influence of Egypt on Homer, the effect of English legislation on King O'Brien, contributing something noteworthy to all the discussions of the day. But I am not aware that he has ever produced a single page of literature. Whatever space he has filled in his own country, whatever and however enduring the impression he has made upon English life and society, does it seem likely that the sum total of his immense activity in so many fields, after the passage of so many years, will be worth to the world as much as the simple story of Rab and his Friends? Already in America I doubt if it is. The illustration might have more weight with some minds if I contrasted the work of this great man—as to its answering to a deep want in human nature—with a novel like 'Henry Esmond' or a poem like 'In Memoriam'; but I think it is sufficient to rest it upon so slight a performance as the sketch by Dr. John Brown, of Edinburgh. For the truth is that a little page of literature, nothing more than a sheet of paper with a poem written on it, may have that vitality, that enduring quality, that adaptation to life, that make it of more consequence to all who inherit it than every material achievement of the age that produced it. It was nothing but a sheet of paper with a poem on it, carried to the door of his London patron, for which the poet received a guinea, and perhaps a seat at the foot of my lord's table. What was that scrap compared to my lord's business, his great establishment, his equipages in the Park, his position in society, his weight in the House of Lords, his influence in Europe? And yet that scrap of paper has gone the world over; it has been sung in the camp, wept over in the lonely cottage; it has gone with the marching regiments, with the explorers—with mankind, in short, on its way down the ages, brightening, consoling, elevating life; and my lord, who regarded as scarcely above a menial the poet to whom he tossed the guinea—my lord, with all his pageantry and power, has utterly gone and left no witness.


By Charles Dudley Warner

In accordance with the advice of Diogenes of Apollonia in the beginning of his treatise on Natural Philosophy—“It appears to me to be well for every one who commences any sort of philosophical treatise to lay down some undeniable principle to start with”—we offer this:

 All men are created unequal.

It would be a most interesting study to trace the growth in the world of the doctrine of “equality.” That is not the purpose of this essay, any further than is necessary for definition. We use the term in its popular sense, in the meaning, somewhat vague, it is true, which it has had since the middle of the eighteenth century. In the popular apprehension it is apt to be confounded with uniformity; and this not without reason, since in many applications of the theory the tendency is to produce likeness or uniformity. Nature, with equal laws, tends always to diversity; and doubtless the just notion of equality in human affairs consists with unlikeness. Our purpose is to note some of the tendencies of the dogma as it is at present understood by a considerable portion of mankind.

We regard the formulated doctrine as modern. It would be too much to say that some notion of the “equality of men” did not underlie the socialistic and communistic ideas which prevailed from time to time in the ancient world, and broke out with volcanic violence in the Grecian and Roman communities. But those popular movements seem to us rather blind struggles against physical evils, and to be distinguished from those more intelligent actions based upon the theory which began to stir Europe prior to the Reformation.

It is sufficient for our purpose to take the well-defined theory of modern times. Whether the ideal republic of Plato was merely a convenient form for philosophical speculation, or whether, as the greatest authority on political economy in Germany, Dr. William Roscher, thinks, it “was no mere fancy”; whether Plato's notion of the identity of man and the State is compatible with the theory of equality, or whether it is, as many communists say, indispensable to it, we need not here discuss. It is true that in his Republic almost all the social theories which have been deduced from the modern proclamation of equality are elaborated. There was to be a community of property, and also a community of wives and children. The equality of the sexes was insisted on to the extent of living in common, identical education and pursuits, equal share in all labors, in occupations, and in government. Between the sexes there was allowed only one ultimate difference. The Greeks, as Professor Jowett says, had noble conceptions of womanhood; but Plato's ideal for the sexes had no counterpart in their actual life, nor could they have understood the sort of equality upon which he insisted. The same is true of the Romans throughout their history.

More than any other Oriental peoples the Egyptians of the Ancient Empire entertained the idea of the equality of the sexes; but the equality of man was not conceived by them. Still less did any notion of it exist in the Jewish state. It was the fashion with the socialists of 1793, as it has been with the international assemblages at Geneva in our own day, to trace the genesis of their notions back to the first Christian age. The far-reaching influence of the new gospel in the liberation of the human mind and in promoting just and divinely-ordered relations among men is admitted; its origination of the social and political dogma we are considering is denied. We do not find that Christ himself anywhere expressed it or acted on it. He associated with the lowly, the vile, the outcast; he taught that all men, irrespective of rank or possessions, are sinners, and in equal need of help. But he attempted no change in the conditions of society. The “communism” of the early Christians was the temporary relation of a persecuted and isolated sect, drawn together by common necessities and dangers, and by the new enthusiasm of self-surrender. [“The community of goods of the first Christians at Jerusalem, so frequently cited and extolled, was only a community of use, not of ownership (Acts iv. 32), and throughout a voluntary act of love, not a duty (v. 4); least of all, a right which the poorer might assert. Spite of all this, that community of goods produced a chronic state of poverty in the church of Jerusalem.” (Principles of Political Economy. By William Roscher. Note to Section LXXXI. English translation. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 1878.)]—Paul announced the universal brotherhood of man, but he as clearly recognized the subordination of society, in the duties of ruler and subject, master and slave, and in all the domestic relations; and although his gospel may be interpreted to contain the elements of revolution, it is not probable that he undertook to inculcate, by the proclamation of “universal brotherhood,” anything more than the duty of universal sympathy between all peoples and classes as society then existed.

If Christianity has been and is the force in promoting and shaping civilization that we regard it, we may be sure that it is not as a political agent, or an annuller of the inequalities of life, that we are to expect aid from it. Its office, or rather one of its chief offices on earth, is to diffuse through the world, regardless of condition or possessions or talent or opportunity, sympathy and a recognition of the value of manhood underlying every lot and every diversity—a value not measured by earthly accidents, but by heavenly standards. This we understand to be “Christian equality.” Of course it consists with inequalities of condition, with subordination, discipline, obedience; to obey and serve is as honorable as to command and to be served.

If the religion of Christ should ever be acclimated on earth, the result would not be the removal of hardships and suffering, or of the necessity of self-sacrifice; but the bitterness and discontent at unequal conditions would measurably disappear. At the bar of Christianity the poor man is the equal of the rich, and the learned of the unlearned, since intellectual acquisition is no guarantee of moral worth. The content that Christianity would bring to our perturbed society would come from the practical recognition of the truth that all conditions may be equally honorable. The assertion of the dignity of man and of labor is, we imagine, the sum and substance of the equality and communism of the New Testament. But we are to remember that this is not merely a “gospel for the poor.”

Whatever the theories of the ancient world were, the development of democratic ideas is sufficiently marked in the fifteenth century, and even in the fourteenth, to rob the eighteenth of the credit of originating the doctrine of equality. To mention only one of the early writers,—[For copious references to authorities on the spread of communistic and socialistic ideas and libertine community of goods and women in four periods of the world's history—namely, at the time of the decline of Greece, in the degeneration of the Roman republic, among the moderns in the age of the Reformation, and again in our own day—see Roscher's Political Economy, notes to Section LXXIX., et seq.] —Marsilio, a physician of Padua, in 1324, said that the laws ought to be made by all the citizens; and he based this sovereignty of the people upon the greater likelihood of laws being better obeyed, and also being good laws, when they were made by the whole body of the persons affected.

In 1750 and 1753, J. J. Rousseau published his two discourses on questions proposed by the Academy of Dijon: “Has the Restoration of Sciences Contributed to Purify or to Corrupt Manners?” and “What is the Origin of Inequality among Men, and is it Authorized by Natural Law?” These questions show the direction and the advance of thinking on social topics in the middle of the eighteenth century. Rousseau's Contrat-Social and the novel Emile were published in 1761.

But almost three-quarters of a century before, in 1690, John Locke published his two treatises on government. Rousseau was familiar with them. Mr. John Morley, in his admirable study of Rousseau, [Rousseau. By John Morley. London: Chapman & Hall. 1873—I have used it freely in the glance at this period.]—fully discusses the latter's obligation to Locke; and the exposition leaves Rousseau little credit for originality, but considerable for illogical misconception. He was, in fact, the most illogical of great men, and the most inconsistent even of geniuses. The Contrat-Social is a reaction in many things from the discourses, and Emile is almost an entire reaction, especially in the theory of education, from both.

His central doctrine of popular sovereignty was taken from Locke. The English philosopher said, in his second treatise, “To understand political power aright and derive it from its original, we must consider what state all men are naturally in; and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their persons and possessions as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man—a state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the advantages of nature and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another, without subordination or subjection, unless the Lord and Master of them all should by any manifest declaration of His will set one above another, and confer on him by an evident and clear appointment an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.” But a state of liberty is not a state of license. We cannot exceed our own rights without assailing the rights of others. There is no such subordination as authorizes us to destroy one another. As every one is bound to preserve himself, so he is bound to preserve the rest of mankind, and except to do justice upon an offender we may not impair the life, liberty, health, or goods of another. Here Locke deduces the power that one man may have over another; community could not exist if transgressors were not punished. Every wrongdoer places himself in “a state of war.” Here is the difference between the state of nature and the state of war, which men, says Locke, have confounded—alluding probably to Hobbes's notion of the lawlessness of human society in the original condition.

The portion of Locke's treatise which was not accepted by the French theorists was that relating to property. Property in lands or goods is due wholly and only to the labor man has put into it. By labor he has removed it from the common state in which nature has placed it, and annexed something to it that excludes the common rights of other men.

Rousseau borrowed from Hobbes as well as from Locke in his conception of popular sovereignty; but this was not his only lack of originality. His discourse on primitive society, his unscientific and unhistoric notions about the original condition of man, were those common in the middle of the eighteenth century. All the thinkers and philosophers and fine ladies and gentlemen assumed a certain state of nature, and built upon it, out of words and phrases, an airy and easy reconstruction of society, without a thought of investigating the past, or inquiring into the development of mankind. Every one talked of “the state of nature” as if he knew all about it. “The conditions of primitive man,” says Mr. Morley, “were discussed by very incompetent ladies and gentlemen at convivial supper-parties, and settled with complete assurance.” That was the age when solitary Frenchmen plunged into the wilderness of North America, confidently expecting to recover the golden age under the shelter of a wigwam and in the society of a squaw.

The state of nature of Rousseau was a state in which inequality did not exist, and with a fervid rhetoric he tried to persuade his readers that it was the happier state. He recognized inequality, it is true, as a word of two different meanings: first, physical inequality, difference of age, strength, health, and of intelligence and character; second, moral and political inequality, difference of privileges which some enjoy to the detriment of others-such as riches, honor, power. The first difference is established by nature, the second by man. So long, however, as the state of nature endures, no disadvantages flow from the natural inequalities.

In Rousseau's account of the means by which equality was lost, the incoming of the ideas of property is prominent. From property arose civil society. With property came in inequality. His exposition of inequality is confused, and it is not possible always to tell whether he means inequality of possessions or of political rights. His contemporary, Morelly, who published the Basileade in 1753, was troubled by no such ambiguity. He accepts the doctrine that men are formed by laws, but holds that they are by nature good, and that laws, by establishing a division of the products of nature, broke up the sociability of men, and that all political and moral evils are the result of private property. Political inequality is an accident of inequality of possessions, and the renovation of the latter lies in the abolition of the former.

The opening sentence of the Contrat-Social is, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is a slave,” a statement which it is difficult to reconcile with the fact that every human being is born helpless, dependent, and into conditions of subjection, conditions that we have no reason to suppose were ever absent from the race. But Rousseau never said, “All men are born equal.” He recognized, as we have seen, natural inequality. What he held was that the artificial differences springing from the social union were disproportionate to the capacities springing from the original constitution; and that society, as now organized, tends to make the gulf wider between those who have privileges and those who have none.

The well-known theory upon which Rousseau's superstructure rests is that society is the result of a compact, a partnership between men. They have not made an agreement to submit their individual sovereignty to some superior power, but they have made a covenant of brotherhood. It is a contract of association. Men were, and ought to be, equal cooperators, not only in politics, but in industries and all the affairs of life. All the citizens are participants in the sovereign authority. Their sovereignty is inalienable; power may be transmitted, but not will; if the people promise to obey, it dissolves itself by the very act—if there is a master, there is no longer a people. Sovereignty is also indivisible; it cannot be split up into legislative, judiciary, and executive power.

Society being the result of a compact made by men, it followed that the partners could at any time remake it, their sovereignty being inalienable. And this the French socialists, misled by a priori notions, attempted to do, on the theory of the Contrat-Social, as if they had a tabula rasa, without regarding the existing constituents of society, or traditions, or historical growths.

Equality, as a phrase, having done duty as a dissolvent, was pressed into service as a constructor. As this is not so much an essay on the nature of equality is an attempt to indicate some of the modern tendencies to carry out what is illusory in the dogma, perhaps enough has been said of this period. Mr. Morley very well remarks that the doctrine of equality as a demand for a fair chance in the world is unanswerable; but that it is false when it puts him who uses his chance well on the same level with him who uses it ill. There is no doubt that when Condorcet said, “Not only equality of right, but equality of fact, is the goal of the social art,” he uttered the sentiments of the socialists of the Revolution.

The next authoritative announcement of equality, to which it is necessary to refer, is in the American Declaration of Independence, in these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed.” And the Declaration goes on, in temperate and guarded language, to assert the right of a people to change their form of government when it becomes destructive of the ends named.

Although the genesis of these sentiments seems to be French rather than English, and equality is not defined, and critics have differed as to whether the equality clause is independent or qualified by what follows, it is not necessary to suppose that Thomas Jefferson meant anything inconsistent with the admitted facts of nature and of history. It is important to bear in mind that the statesmen of our Revolution were inaugurating a political and not a social revolution, and that the gravamen of their protest was against the authority of a distant crown. Nevertheless, these dogmas, independent of the circ*mstances in which they were uttered, have exercised and do exercise a very powerful influence upon the thinking of mankind on social and political topics, and are being applied without limitations, and without recognition of the fact that if they are true, in the sense meant by their originators, they are not the whole truth. It is to be noticed that rights are mentioned, but not duties, and that if political rights only are meant, political duties are not inculcated as of equal moment. It is not announced that political power is a function to be discharged for the good of the whole body, and not a mere right to be enjoyed for the advantage of the possessor; and it is to be noted also that this idea did not enter into the conception of Rousseau.

The dogma that “government derives its just power from the consent of the governed” is entirely consonant with the book theories of the eighteenth century, and needs to be confronted, and practically is confronted, with the equally good dogma that “governments derive their just power from conformity with the principles of justice.” We are not to imagine, for instance, that the framers of the Declaration really contemplated the exclusion from political organization of all higher law than that in the “consent of the governed,” or the application of the theory, let us say, to a colony composed for the most part of outcasts, murderers, thieves, and prostitutes, or to such states as today exist in the Orient. The Declaration was framed for a highly intelligent and virtuous society.

Many writers, and some of them English, have expressed curiosity, if not wonder, at the different fortunes which attended the doctrine of equality in America and in France. The explanation is on the surface, and need not be sought in the fact of a difference of social and political level in the two countries at the start, nor even in the further fact that the colonies were already accustomed to self-government.

The simple truth is that the dogmas of the Declaration were not put into the fundamental law. The Constitution is the most practical state document ever made. It announces no dogmas, proclaims no theories. It accepted society as it was, with its habits and traditions; raising no abstract questions whether men are born free or equal, or how society ought to be organized. It is simply a working compact, made by “the people,” to promote union, establish justice, and secure the blessings of liberty; and the equality is in the assumption of the right of “the people of the United States” to do this. And yet, in a recent number of Blackwood's Magazine, a writer makes the amusing statement, “I have never met an American who could deny that, while firmly maintaining that the theory was sound which, in the beautiful language of the Constitution, proclaims that all men were born equal, he was,” etc.

An enlightening commentary on the meaning of the Declaration, in the minds of the American statesmen of the period, is furnished by the opinions which some of them expressed upon the French Revolution while it was in progress. Gouverneur Morris, minister to France in 1789, was a conservative republican; Thomas Jefferson was a radical democrat. Both of them had a warm sympathy with the French “people” in the Revolution; both hoped for a republic; both recognized, we may reasonably infer, the sufficient cause of the Revolution in the long-continued corruption of court and nobility, and the intolerable sufferings of the lower orders; and both, we have equal reason to believe, thought that a fair accommodation, short of a dissolution of society, was defeated by the imbecility of the king and the treachery and malignity of a considerable portion of the nobility. The Revolution was not caused by theories, however much it may have been excited or guided by them. But both Morris and Jefferson saw the futility of the application of the abstract dogma of equality and the theories of the Social Contract to the reconstruction of government and the reorganization of society in France.

If the aristocracy were malignant—though numbers of them were far from being so—there was also a malignant prejudice aroused against them, and M. Taine is not far wrong when he says of this prejudice, “Its hard, dry kernel consists of the abstract idea of equality.”—[The French Revolution. By H. A. Taine. Vol. i., bk. ii., chap. ii., sec. iii. Translation. New York: Henry Holt & Co.]—Taine's French Revolution is cynical, and, with all its accumulation of material, omits some facts necessary to a philosophical history; but a passage following that quoted is worth reproducing in this connection: “The treatment of the nobles of the Assembly is the same as the treatment of the Protestants by Louis XIV. . . . One hundred thousand Frenchmen driven out at the end of the seventeenth century, and one hundred thousand driven out at the end of the eighteenth! Mark how an intolerant democracy completes the work of an intolerant monarchy! The moral aristocracy was mowed down in the name of uniformity; the social aristocracy is mowed down in the name of equality. For the second time an abstract principle, and with the same effect, buries its blade in the heart of a living society.”

Notwithstanding the world-wide advertisem*nt of the French experiment, it has taken almost a century for the dogma of equality, at least outside of France, to filter down from the speculative thinkers into a general popular acceptance, as an active principle to be used in the shaping of affairs, and to become more potent in the popular mind than tradition or habit. The attempt is made to apply it to society with a brutal logic; and we might despair as to the result, if we did not know that the world is not ruled by logic. Nothing is so fascinating in the hands of the half-informed as a neat dogma; it seems the perfect key to all difficulties. The formula is applied in contempt and ignorance of the past, as if building up were as easy as pulling down, and as if society were a machine to be moved by mechanical appliances, and not a living organism composed of distinct and sensitive beings. Along with the spread of a belief in the uniformity of natural law has unfortunately gone a suggestion of parallelism of the moral law to it, and a notion that if we can discover the right formula, human society and government can be organized with a mathematical justice to all the parts. By many the dogma of equality is held to be that formula, and relief from the greater evils of the social state is expected from its logical extension.

Let us now consider some of the present movements and tendencies that are related, more or less, to this belief:

I. Absolute equality is seen to depend upon absolute supremacy of the state. Professor Henry Fawcett says, “Excessive dependence on the state is the most prominent characteristic of modern socialism.” “These proposals to prohibit inheritance, to abolish private property, and to make the state the owner of all the capital and the administrator of the entire industry of the country are put forward as representing socialism in its ultimate and highest development.”—[“Socialism in Germany and the United States,” Fortnightly Review, November, 1878.]

Society and government should be recast till they conform to the theory, or, let us say, to its exaggerations. Men can unmake what they have made. There is no higher authority anywhere than the will of the majority, no matter what the majority is in intellect and morals. Fifty-one ignorant men have a natural right to legislate for the one hundred, as against forty-nine intelligent men.

All men being equal, one man is as fit to legislate and execute as another. A recently elected Congressman from Maine vehemently repudiated in a public address, as a slander, the accusation that he was educated. The theory was that, uneducated, he was the proper representative of the average ignorance of his district, and that ignorance ought to be represented in the legislature in kind. The ignorant know better what they want than the educated know for them. “Their education [that of college men] destroys natural perception and judgment; so that cultivated people are one-sided, and their judgment is often inferior to that of the working people.” “Cultured people have made up their minds, and are hard to move.” “No lawyer should be elected to a place in any legislative body.”—[Opinions of working-men, reported in “The Nationals, their Origin and their Aims,” The Atlantic Monthly, November, 1878.]

Experience is of no account, neither is history, nor tradition, nor the accumulated wisdom of ages. On all questions of political economy, finance, morals, the ignorant man stands on a par with the best informed as a legislator. We might cite any number of the results of these illusions. A member of a recent House of Representatives declared that we “can repair the losses of the war by the issue of a sufficient amount of paper money.” An intelligent mechanic of our acquaintance, a leader among the Nationals, urging the theory of his party, that banks should be destroyed, and that the government should issue to the people as much “paper money” as they need, denied the right of banks or of any individuals to charge interest on money. Yet he would take rent for the house he owns.

Laws must be the direct expression of the will of the majority, and be altered solely on its will. It would be well, therefore, to have a continuous election, so that, any day, the electors can change their representative for a new man. “If my caprice be the source of law, then my enjoyment may be the source of the division of the nation's resources.”—[Stahl's Rechtsphilosophie, quoted by Roscher.]

Property is the creator of inequality, and this factor in our artificial state can be eliminated only by absorption. It is the duty of the government to provide for all the people, and the sovereign people will see to it that it does. The election franchise is a natural right—a man's weapon to protect himself. It may be asked, If it is just this, and not a sacred trust accorded to be exercised for the benefit of society, why may not a man sell it, if it is for his interest to do so?

What is there illogical in these positions from the premise given? “Communism,” says Roscher, [Political Economy, bk. i., ch. v., 78.]—“is the logically not inconsistent exaggeration of the principle of equality. Men who hear themselves designated as the sovereign people, and their welfare as the supreme law of the state, are more apt than others to feel more keenly the distance which separates their own misery from the superabundance of others. And, indeed, to what an extent our physical wants are determined by our intellectual mold!”

The tendency of the exaggeration of man's will as the foundation of government is distinctly materialistic; it is a self-sufficiency that shuts out God and the higher law.—[“And, indeed, if the will of man is all-powerful, if states are to be distinguished from one another only by their boundaries, if everything may be changed like the scenery in a play by a flourish of the magic wand of a system, if man may arbitrarily make the right, if nations can be put through evolutions like regiments of troops, what a field would the world present for attempts at the realizations of the wildest dreams, and what a temptation would be offered to take possession, by main force, of the government of human affairs, to destroy the rights of property and the rights of capital, to gratify ardent longings without trouble, and to provide the much-coveted means of enjoyment! The Titans have tried to scale the heavens, and have fallen into the most degrading materialism. Purely speculative dogmatism sinks into materialism.” (M. Wolowski's Essay on the Historical Method, prefixed to his translation of Roscher's Political Economy.)]—We need to remember that the Creator of man, and not man himself, formed society and instituted government; that God is always behind human society and sustains it; that marriage and the family and all social relations are divinely established; that man's duty, coinciding with his right, is, by the light of history, by experience, by observation of men, and by the aid of revelation, to find out and make operative, as well as he can, the divine law in human affairs. And it may be added that the sovereignty of the people, as a divine trust, may be as logically deduced from the divine institution of government as the old divine right of kings. Government, by whatever name it is called, is a matter of experience and expediency. If we submit to the will of the majority, it is because it is more convenient to do so; and if the republic or the democracy vindicate itself, it is because it works best, on the whole, for a particular people. But it needs no prophet to say that it will not work long if God is shut out from it, and man, in a full-blown socialism, is considered the ultimate authority.

II. Equality of education. In our American system there is, not only theoretically but practically, an equality of opportunity in the public schools, which are free to all children, and rise by gradations from the primaries to the high-schools, in which the curriculum in most respects equals, and in variety exceeds, that of many third-class “colleges.” In these schools nearly the whole round of learning, in languages, science, and art, is touched. The system has seemed to be the best that could be devised for a free society, where all take part in the government, and where so much depends upon the intelligence of the electors. Certain objections, however, have been made to it. As this essay is intended only to be tentative, we shall state some of them, without indulging in lengthy comments.

( 1. ) The first charge is superficiality—a necessary consequence of attempting too much—and a want of adequate preparation for special pursuits in life.

( 2. ) A uniformity in mediocrity is alleged from the use of the same text-books and methods in all schools, for all grades and capacities. This is one of the most common criticisms on our social state by a certain class of writers in England, who take an unflagging interest in our development. One answer to it is this: There is more reason to expect variety of development and character in a generally educated than in an ignorant community; there is no such uniformity as the dull level of ignorance.

( 3. ) It is said that secular education—and the general schools open to all in a community of mixed religions must be secular—is training the rising generation to be materialists and socialists.

( 4. ) Perhaps a better-founded charge is that a system of equal education, with its superficiality, creates discontent with the condition in which a majority of men must be—that of labor—a distaste for trades and for hand-work, an idea that what is called intellectual labor (let us say, casting up accounts in a shop, or writing trashy stories for a sensational newspaper) is more honorable than physical labor; and encourages the false notion that “the elevation of the working classes” implies the removal of men and women from those classes.

We should hesitate to draw adverse conclusions in regard to a system yet so young that its results cannot be fairly estimated. Only after two or three generations can its effects upon the character of a great people be measured: Observations differ, and testimony is difficult to obtain. We think it safe to say that those states are most prosperous which have the best free schools. But if the philosopher inquires as to the general effect upon the national character in respect to the objections named, he must wait for a reply.

III. The pursuit of the chimera of social equality, from the belief that it should logically follow political equality; resulting in extravagance, misapplication of natural capacities, a notion that physical labor is dishonorable, or that the state should compel all to labor alike, and in efforts to remove inequalities of condition by legislation.

IV. The equality of the sexes. The stir in the middle of the eighteenth century gave a great impetus to the emancipation of woman; though, curiously enough, Rousseau, in unfolding his plan of education for Sophie, in Emile, inculcates an almost Oriental subjection of woman—her education simply that she may please man. The true enfranchisem*nt of woman—that is, the recognition (by herself as well as by man) of her real place in the economy of the world, in the full development of her capacities—is the greatest gain to civilization since the Christian era. The movement has its excesses, and the gain has not been without loss. “When we turn to modern literature,” writes Mr. Money, “from the pages in which Fenelon speaks of the education of girls, who does not feel that the world has lost a sacred accent—that some ineffable essence has passed out from our hearts?”

How far the expectation has been realized that women, in fiction, for instance, would be more accurately described, better understood, and appear as nobler and lovelier beings when women wrote the novels, this is not the place to inquire. The movement has results which are unavoidable in a period of transition, and probably only temporary. The education of woman and the development of her powers hold the greatest promise for the regeneration of society. But this development, yet in its infancy, and pursued with much crudeness and misconception of the end, is not enough. Woman would not only be equal with man, but would be like him; that is, perform in society the functions he now performs. Here, again, the notion of equality is pushed towards uniformity. The reformers admit structural differences in the sexes, though these, they say, are greatly exaggerated by subjection; but the functional differences are mainly to be eliminated. Women ought to mingle in all the occupations of men, as if the physical differences did not exist. The movement goes to obliterate, as far as possible, the distinction between sexes. Nature is, no doubt, amused at this attempt. A recent writer—[“Biology and Woman's Rights,” Quarterly Journal of Science, November, 1878.]—, says: “The 'femme libre' [free woman] of the new social order may, indeed, escape the charge of neglecting her family and her household by contending that it is not her vocation to become a wife and a mother! Why, then, we ask, is she constituted a woman at all? Merely that she may become a sort of second-rate man?”

The truth is that this movement, based always upon a misconception of equality, so far as it would change the duties of the sexes, is a retrograde.—[“It has been frequently observed that among declining nations the social differences between the two sexes are first obliterated, and afterwards even the intellectual differences. The more masculine the women become, the more effeminate become the men. It is no good symptom when there are almost as many female writers and female rulers as there are male. Such was the case, for instance, in the Hellenistic kingdoms, and in the age of the Caesars. What today is called by many the emancipation of woman would ultimately end in the dissolution of the family, and, if carried out, render poor service to the majority of women. If man and woman were placed entirely on the same level, and if in the competition between the two sexes nothing but an actual superiority should decide, it is to be feared that woman would soon be relegated to a condition as hard as that in which she is found among all barbarous nations. It is precisely family life and higher civilization that have emancipated woman. Those theorizers who, led astray by the dark side of higher civilization, preach a community of goods, generally contemplate in their simultaneous recommendation of the emancipation of woman a more or less developed form of a community of wives. The grounds of the two institutions are very similar.” (Roscher's Political Economy, p. 250.) Note also that difference in costumes of the sexes is least apparent among lowly civilized peoples.]—One of the most striking features in our progress from barbarism to civilization is the proper adjustment of the work for men and women. One test of a civilization is the difference of this work. This is a question not merely of division of labor, but of differentiation with regard to sex. It not only takes into account structural differences and physiological disadvantages, but it recognizes the finer and higher use of woman in society.

The attainable, not to say the ideal, society requires an increase rather than a decrease of the differences between the sexes. The differences may be due to physical organization, but the structural divergence is but a faint type of deeper separation in mental and spiritual constitution. That which makes the charm and power of woman, that for which she is created, is as distinctly feminine as that which makes the charm and power of men is masculine. Progress requires constant differentiation, and the line of this is the development of each sex in its special functions, each being true to the highest ideal for itself, which is not that the woman should be a man, or the man a woman. The enjoyment of social life rests very largely upon the encounter and play of the subtle peculiarities which mark the two sexes; and society, in the limited sense of the word, not less than the whole structure of our civilization, requires the development of these peculiarities. It is in diversity, and not in an equality tending to uniformity, that we are to expect the best results from the race.

V. Equality of races; or rather a removal of the inequalities, social and political, arising in the contact of different races by intermarriage.

Perhaps equality is hardly the word to use here, since uniformity is the thing aimed at; but the root of the proposal is in the dogma we are considering. The tendency of the age is to uniformity. The facilities of travel and communication, the new inventions and the use of machinery in manufacturing, bring men into close and uniform relations, and induce the disappearance of national characteristics and of race peculiarities. Men, the world over, are getting to dress alike, eat alike, and disbelieve in the same things: It is the sentimental complaint of the traveler that his search for the picturesque is ever more difficult, that race distinctions and habits are in a way to be improved off the face of the earth, and that a most uninteresting monotony is supervening. The complaint is not wholly sentimental, and has a deeper philosophical reason than the mere pleasure in variety on this planet.

We find a striking illustration of the equalizing, not to say leveling, tendency of the age in an able paper by Canon George Rawlinson, of the University of Oxford, contributed recently to an American periodical of a high class and conservative character.—[“Duties of Higher towards Lower Races.” By George Rawlinson. Princeton Re-view. November, 1878. New York.]—This paper proposes, as a remedy for the social and political evils caused by the negro element in our population, the miscegenation of the white and black races, to the end that the black race may be wholly absorbed in the white—an absorption of four millions by thirty-six millions, which he thinks might reasonably be expected in about a century, when the lower type would disappear altogether.

Perhaps the pleasure of being absorbed is not equal to the pleasure of absorbing, and we cannot say how this proposal will commend itself to the victims of the euthanasia. The results of miscegenation on this continent—black with red, and white with black—the results morally, intellectually, and physically, are not such as to make it attractive to the American people.

It is not, however, upon sentimental grounds that we oppose this extension of the exaggerated dogma of equality. Our objection is deeper. Race distinctions ought to be maintained for the sake of the best development of the race, and for the continuance of that mutual reaction and play of peculiar forces between races which promise the highest development for the whole. It is not for nothing, we may suppose, that differentiation has gone on in the world; and we doubt that either benevolence or self-interest requires this age to attempt to restore an assumed lost uniformity, and fuse the race traits in a tiresome hom*ogeneity.

Life consists in an exchange of relations, and the more varied the relations interchanged the higher the life. We want not only different races, but different civilizations in different parts of the globe.

A much more philosophical view of the African problem and the proper destiny of the negro race than that of Canon Rawlinson is given by a recent colored writer,—[“Africa and the Africans.” By Edmund W. Blyden. Eraser's Magazine, August, 1878.]—an official in the government of Liberia. We are mistaken, says this excellent observer, in regarding Africa as a land of a hom*ogeneous population, and in confounding the tribes in a promiscuous manner. There are negroes and negroes. “The numerous tribes inhabiting the vast continent of Africa can no more be regarded as in every respect equal than the numerous peoples of Asia or Europe can be so regarded;” and we are not to expect the civilization of Africa to be under one government, but in a great variety of States, developed according to tribal and race affinities. A still greater mistake is this:

“The mistake which Europeans often make in considering questions of negro improvement and the future of Africa is in supposing that the negro is the European in embryo, in the undeveloped stage, and that when, by-and-by, he shall enjoy the advantages of civilization and culture, he will become like the European; in other words, that the negro is on the same line of progress, in the same groove, with the European, but infinitely in the rear . . . . This view proceeds upon the assumption that the two races are called to the same work, and are alike in potentiality and ultimate development, the negro only needing the element of time, under certain circ*mstances, to become European. But to our mind it is not a question between the two races of inferiority or superiority. There is no absolute or essential superiority on the one side, or absolute or essential inferiority on the other side. It is a question of difference of endowment and difference of destiny. No amount of training or culture will make the negro a European. On the other hand, no lack of training or deficiency of culture will make the European a negro. The two races are not moving in the same groove, with an immeasurable distance between them, but on parallel lines. They will never meet in the plane of their activities so as to coincide in capacity or performance. They are not identical, as some think, but unequal; they are distinct, but equal—an idea that is in no way incompatible with the Scripture truth that God hath made of one blood all nations of men.”

The writer goes on, in a strain that is not mere fancy, but that involves one of the truths of inequality, to say that each race is endowed with peculiar talents; that the negro has aptitudes and capacities which the world needs, and will lack until he is normally trained. In the grand symphony of the universe, “there are several sounds not yet brought out, and the feeblest of all is that hitherto produced by the negro; but he alone can furnish it.”—“When the African shall come forward with his peculiar gifts, they will fill a place never before occupied.” In short, the African must be civilized in the line of his capacities. “The present practice of the friends of Africa is to frame laws according to their own notions for the government and improvement of this people, whereas God has already enacted the laws for the government of their affairs, which laws should be carefully ascertained, interpreted, and applied; for until they are found out and conformed to, all labor will be ineffective and resultless.”

We have thus passed in review some of the tendencies of the age. We have only touched the edges of a vast subject, and shall be quite satisfied if we have suggested thought in the direction indicated. But in this limited view of our complex human problem it is time to ask if we have not pushed the dogma of equality far enough. Is it not time to look the facts squarely in the face, and conform to them in our efforts for social and political amelioration?

Inequality appears to be the divine order; it always has existed; undoubtedly it will continue; all our theories and 'a priori' speculations will not change the nature of things. Even inequality of condition is the basis of progress, the incentive to exertion. Fortunately, if today we could make every man white, every woman as like man as nature permits, give to every human being the same opportunity of education, and divide equally among all the accumulated wealth of the world, tomorrow differences, unequal possession, and differentiation would begin again. We are attempting the regeneration of society with a misleading phrase; we are wasting our time with a theory that does not fit the facts.

There is an equality, but it is not of outward show; it is independent of condition; it does not destroy property, nor ignore the difference of sex, nor obliterate race traits. It is the equality of men before God, of men before the law; it is the equal honor of all honorable labor. No more pernicious notion ever obtained lodgment in society than the common one that to “rise in the world” is necessarily to change the “condition.” Let there be content with condition; discontent with individual ignorance and imperfection. “We want,” says Emerson, “not a farmer, but a man on a farm.” What a mischievous idea is that which has grown, even in the United States, that manual labor is discreditable! There is surely some defect in the theory of equality in our society which makes domestic service to be shunned as if it were a disgrace.

It must be observed, further, that the dogma of equality is not satisfied by the usual admission that one is in favor of an equality of rights and opportunities, but is against the sweeping application of the theory made by the socialists and communists. The obvious reply is that equal rights and a fair chance are not possible without equality of condition, and that property and the whole artificial constitution of society necessitate inequality of condition. The damage from the current exaggeration of equality is that the attempt to realize the dogma in fact—and the attempt is everywhere on foot—can lead only to mischief and disappointment.

It would be considered a humorous suggestion to advocate inequality as a theory or as a working dogma. Let us recognize it, however, as a fact, and shape the efforts for the improvement of the race in accordance with it, encouraging it in some directions, restraining it from injustice in others. Working by this recognition, we shall save the race from many failures and bitter disappointments, and spare the world the spectacle of republics ending in despotism and experiments in government ending in anarchy.


By Charles Dudley Warner

Delivered before the Alumni of Hamilton College, Clinton, N. Y., Wednesday, June 26, 1872

Twenty-one years ago in this house I heard a voice calling me to ascend the platform, and there to stand and deliver. The voice was the voice of President North; the language was an excellent imitation of that used by Cicero and Julius Caesar. I remember the flattering invitation—it is the classic tag that clings to the graduate long after he has forgotten the gender of the nouns that end in 'um—orator proximus', the grateful voice said, 'ascendat, videlicet,' and so forth. To be proclaimed an orator, and an ascending orator, in such a sonorous tongue, in the face of a world waiting for orators, stirred one's blood like the herald's trumpet when the lists are thrown open. Alas! for most of us, who crowded so eagerly into the arena, it was the last appearance as orators on any stage.

The facility of the world for swallowing up orators, and company after company of educated young men, has been remarked. But it is almost incredible to me now that the class of 1851, with its classic sympathies and its many revolutionary ideas, disappeared in the flood of the world so soon and so silently, causing scarcely a ripple in the smoothly flowing stream. I suppose the phenomenon has been repeated for twenty years. Do the young gentlemen at Hamilton, I wonder, still carry on their ordinary conversation in the Latin tongue, and their familiar vacation correspondence in the language of Aristophanes? I hope so. I hope they are more proficient in such exercises than the young gentlemen of twenty years ago were, for I have still great faith in a culture that is so far from any sordid aspirations as to approach the ideal; although the young graduate is not long in learning that there is an indifference in the public mind with regard to the first aorist that amounts nearly to apathy, and that millions of his fellow-creatures will probably live and die without the consolations of the second aorist. It is a melancholy fact that, after a thousand years of missionary effort, the vast majority of civilized men do not know that gerunds are found only in the singular number.

I confess that this failure of the annual graduating class to make its expected impression on the world has its pathetic side. Youth is credulous—as it always ought to be—and full of hope—else the world were dead already—and the graduate steps out into life with an ingenuous self-confidence in his resources. It is to him an event, this turning-point in the career of what he feels to be an important and immortal being. His entrance is public and with some dignity of display. For a day the world stops to see it; the newspapers spread abroad a report of it, and the modest scholar feels that the eyes of mankind are fixed on him in expectation and desire. Though modest, he is not insensible to the responsibility of his position. He has only packed away in his mind the wisdom of the ages, and he does not intend to be stingy about communicating it to the world which is awaiting his graduation. Fresh from the communion with great thoughts in great literatures, he is in haste to give mankind the benefit of them, and lead it on into new enthusiasm and new conquests.

The world, however, is not very much excited. The birth of a child is in itself marvelous, but it is so common. Over and over again, for hundreds of years, these young gentlemen have been coming forward with their specimens of learning, tied up in neat little parcels, all ready to administer, and warranted to be of the purest materials. The world is not unkind, it is not even indifferent, but it must be confessed that it does not act any longer as if it expected to be enlightened. It is generally so busy that it does not even ask the young gentlemen what they can do, but leaves them standing with their little parcels, wondering when the person will pass by who requires one of them, and when there will happen a little opening in the procession into which they can fall. They expected that way would be made for them with shouts of welcome, but they find themselves before long struggling to get even a standing-place in the crowd—it is only kings, and the nobility, and those fortunates who dwell in the tropics, where bread grows on trees and clothing is unnecessary, who have reserved seats in this world.

To the majority of men I fancy that literature is very much the same that history is; and history is presented as a museum of antiquities and curiosities, classified, arranged, and labeled. One may walk through it as he does through the Hotel de Cluny; he feels that he ought to be interested in it, but it is very tiresome. Learning is regarded in like manner as an accumulation of literature, gathered into great storehouses called libraries—the thought of which excites great respect in most minds, but is ineffably tedious. Year after year and age after age it accumulates—this evidence and monument of intellectual activity—piling itself up in vast collections, which it needs a lifetime even to catalogue, and through which the uncultured walk as the idle do through the British Museum, with no very strong indignation against Omar who burned the library at Alexandria.

To the popular mind this vast accumulation of learning in libraries, or in brains that do not visibly apply it, is much the same thing. The business of the scholar appears to be this sort of accumulation; and the young student, who comes to the world with a little portion of this treasure dug out of some classic tomb or mediaeval museum, is received with little more enthusiasm than is the miraculous handkerchief of St. Veronica by the crowd of Protestants to whom it is exhibited on Holy Week in St. Peter's. The historian must make his museum live again; the scholar must vivify his learning with a present purpose.

It is unnecessary for me to say that all this is only from the unsympathetic and worldly side. I should think myself a criminal if I said anything to chill the enthusiasm of the young scholar, or to dash with any skepticism his longing and his hope. He has chosen the highest. His beautiful faith and his aspiration are the light of life. Without his fresh enthusiasm and his gallant devotion to learning, to art, to culture, the world would be dreary enough. Through him comes the ever-springing inspiration in affairs. Baffled at every turn and driven defeated from a hundred fields, he carries victory in himself. He belongs to a great and immortal army. Let him not be discouraged at his apparent little influence, even though every sally of every young life may seem like a forlorn hope. No man can see the whole of the battle. It must needs be that regiment after regiment, trained, accomplished, gay, and high with hope, shall be sent into the field, marching on, into the smoke, into the fire, and be swept away. The battle swallows them, one after the other, and the foe is yet unyielding, and the ever-remorseless trumpet calls for more and more. But not in vain, for some day, and every day, along the line, there is a cry, “They fly! they fly!” and the whole army advances, and the flag is planted on an ancient fortress where it never waved before. And, even if you never see this, better than inglorious camp-following is it to go in with the wasting regiment; to carry the colors up the slope of the enemy's works, though the next moment you fall and find a grave at the foot of the glacis.

What are the relations of culture to common life, of the scholar to the day-laborer? What is the value of this vast accumulation of higher learning, what is its point of contact with the mass of humanity, that toils and eats and sleeps and reproduces itself and dies, generation after generation, in an unvarying round, on an unvarying level? We have had discussed lately the relation of culture to religion. Mr. Froude, with a singular, reactionary ingenuity, has sought to prove that the progress of the century, so-called, with all its material alleviations, has done little in regard to a happy life, to the pleasure of existence, for the average individual Englishman. Into neither of these inquiries do I purpose to enter; but we may not unprofitably turn our attention to a subject closely connected with both of them.

It has not escaped your attention that there are indications everywhere of what may be called a ground-swell. There is not simply an inquiry as to the value of classic culture, a certain jealousy of the schools where it is obtained, a rough popular contempt for the graces of learning, a failure to see any connection between the first aorist and the rolling of steel rails, but there is arising an angry protest against the conditions of a life which make one free of the serene heights of thought and give him range of all intellectual countries, and keep another at the spade and the loom, year after year, that he may earn food for the day and lodging for the night. In our day the demand here hinted at has taken more definite form and determinate aim, and goes on, visible to all men, to unsettle society and change social and political relations. The great movement of labor, extravagant and preposterous as are some of its demands, demagogic as are most of its leaders, fantastic as are many of its theories, is nevertheless real, and gigantic, and full of a certain primeval force, and with a certain justice in it that never sleeps in human affairs, but moves on, blindly often and destructively often, a movement cruel at once and credulous, deceived and betrayed, and revenging itself on friends and foes alike. Its strength is in the fact that it is natural and human; it might have been predicted from a mere knowledge of human nature, which is always restless in any relations it is possible to establish, which is always like the sea, seeking a level, and never so discontented as when anything like a level is approximated.

What is the relation of the scholar to the present phase of this movement? What is the relation of culture to it? By scholar I mean the man who has had the advantages of such an institution as this. By culture I mean that fine product of opportunity and scholarship which is to mere knowledge what manners are to the gentleman. The world has a growing belief in the profit of knowledge, of information, but it has a suspicion of culture. There is a lingering notion in matters religious that something is lost by refinement—at least, that there is danger that the plain, blunt, essential truths will be lost in aesthetic graces. The laborer is getting to consent that his son shall go to school, and learn how to build an undershot wheel or to assay metals; but why plant in his mind those principles of taste which will make him as sensitive to beauty as to pain, why open to him those realms of imagination with the illimitable horizons, the contours and colors of which can but fill him with indefinite longing?

It is not necessary for me in this presence to dwell upon the value of culture. I wish rather to have you notice the gulf that exists between what the majority want to know and that fine fruit of knowledge concerning which there is so widespread an infidelity. Will culture aid a minister in a “protracted meeting”? Will the ability to read Chaucer assist a shop-keeper? Will the politician add to the “sweetness and light” of his lovely career if he can read the “Battle of the Frogs and the Mice” in the original? What has the farmer to do with the “Rose Garden of Saadi”?

I suppose it is not altogether the fault of the majority that the true relation of culture to common life is so misunderstood. The scholar is largely responsible for it; he is largely responsible for the isolation of his position, and the want of sympathy it begets. No man can influence his fellows with any power who retires into his own selfishness, and gives himself to a self-culture which has no further object. What is he that he should absorb the sweets of the universe, that he should hold all the claims of humanity second to the perfecting of himself? This effort to save his own soul was common to Goethe and Francis of Assisi; under different manifestations it was the same regard for self. And where it is an intellectual and not a spiritual greediness, I suppose it is what an old writer calls “laying up treasures in hell.”

It is not an unreasonable demand of the majority that the few who have the advantages of the training of college and university should exhibit the breadth and sweetness of a generous culture, and should shed everywhere that light which ennobles common things, and without which life is like one of the old landscapes in which the artist forgot to put sunlight. One of the reasons why the college-bred man does not meet this reasonable expectation is that his training, too often, has not been thorough and conscientious, it has not been of himself; he has acquired, but he is not educated. Another is that, if he is educated, he is not impressed with the intimacy of his relation to that which is below him as well as that which is above him, and his culture is out of sympathy with the great mass that needs it, and must have it, or it will remain a blind force in the world, the lever of demagogues who preach social anarchy and misname it progress. There is no culture so high, no taste so fastidious, no grace of learning so delicate, no refinement of art so exquisite, that it cannot at this hour find full play for itself in the broadest fields of humanity; since it is all needed to soften the attritions of common life, and guide to nobler aspirations the strong materialistic influences of our restless society.

One reason, as I said, for the gulf between the majority and the select few to be educated is, that the college does not seldom disappoint the reasonable expectation concerning it. The graduate of the carpenter's shop knows how to use his tools—or used to in days before superficial training in trades became the rule. Does the college graduate know how to use his tools? Or has he to set about fitting himself for some employment, and gaining that culture, that training of himself, that utilization of his information which will make him necessary in the world? There has been a great deal of discussion whether a boy should be trained in the classics or mathematics or sciences or modern languages. I feel like saying “yes” to all the various propositions. For Heaven's sake train him in something, so that he can handle himself, and have free and confident use of his powers. There isn't a more helpless creature in the universe than a scholar with a vast amount of information over which he has no control. He is like a man with a load of hay so badly put upon his cart that it all slides off before he can get to market. The influence of a man on the world is generally proportioned to his ability to do something. When Abraham Lincoln was running for the Legislature the first time, on the platform of the improvement of the navigation of the Sangamon River, he went to secure the votes of thirty men who were cradling a wheat field. They asked no questions about internal improvements, but only seemed curious whether Abraham had muscle enough to represent them in the Legislature. The obliging man took up a cradle and led the gang round the field. The whole thirty voted for him.

What is scholarship? The learned Hindu can repeat I do not know how many thousands of lines from the Vedas, and perhaps backwards as well as forwards. I heard of an excellent old lady who had counted how many times the letter A occurs in the Holy Scriptures. The Chinese students who aspire to honors spend years in verbally memorizing the classics —Confucius and Mencius—and receive degrees and public advancement upon ability to transcribe from memory without the error of a point, or misplacement of a single tea-chest character, the whole of some books of morals. You do not wonder that China is today more like an herbarium than anything else. Learning is a kind of fetish, and it has no influence whatever upon the great inert mass of Chinese humanity.

I suppose it is possible for a young gentleman to be able to read—just think of it, after ten years of grammar and lexicon, not to know Greek literature and have flexible command of all its richness and beauty, but to read it!—it is possible, I suppose, for the graduate of college to be able to read all the Greek authors, and yet to have gone, in regard to his own culture, very little deeper than a surface reading of them; to know very little of that perfect architecture and what it expressed; nor of that marvelous sculpture and the conditions of its immortal beauty; nor of that artistic development which made the Acropolis to bud and bloom under the blue sky like the final flower of a perfect nature; nor of that philosophy, that politics, that society, nor of the life of that polished, crafty, joyous race, the springs of it and the far-reaching, still unexpended effects of it.

Yet as surely as that nothing perishes, that the Providence of God is not a patchwork of uncontinued efforts, but a plan and a progress, as surely as the Pilgrim embarkation at Delfshaven has a relation to the battle of Gettysburg, and to the civil rights bill giving the colored man permission to ride in a public conveyance and to be buried in a public cemetery, so surely has the Parthenon some connection with your new State capitol at Albany, and the daily life of the vine-dresser of the Peloponnesus some lesson for the American day-laborer. The scholar is said to be the torch-bearer, transmitting the increasing light from generation to generation, so that the feet of all, the humblest and the loveliest, may walk in the radiance and not stumble. But he very often carries a dark lantern.

Not what is the use of Greek, of any culture in art or literature, but what is the good to me of your knowing Greek, is the latest question of the ditch-digger to the scholar—what better off am I for your learning? And the question, in view of the interdependence of all members of society, is one that cannot be put away as idle. One reason why the scholar does not make the world of the past, the world of books, real to his fellows and serviceable to them, is that it is not real to himself, but a mere unsubstantial place of intellectual idleness, where he dallies some years before he begins his task in life. And another reason is that, while it may be real to him, while he is actually cultured and trained, he fails to see or to feel that his culture is not a thing apart, and that all the world has a right to share its blessed influence. Failing to see this, he is isolated, and, wanting his sympathy, the untutored world mocks at his super-fineness and takes its own rough way to rougher ends. Greek art was for the people, Greek poetry was for the people; Raphael painted his immortal frescoes where throngs could be lifted in thought and feeling by them; Michael Angelo hung the dome over St. Peter's so that the far-off peasant on the Campagna could see it, and the maiden kneeling by the shrine in the Alban hills. Do we often stop to think what influence, direct or other, the scholar, the man of high culture, has today upon the great mass of our people? Why do they ask, what is the use of your learning and your art?

The artist, in the retirement of his studio, finishes a charming, suggestive, historical picture. The rich man buys it and hangs it in his library, where the privileged few can see it. I do not deny that the average rich man needs all the refining influence the picture can exert on him, and that the picture is doing missionary work in his house; but it is nevertheless an example of an educating influence withdrawn and appropriated to narrow uses. But the engraver comes, and, by his mediating art, transfers it to a thousand sheets, and scatters its sweet influence far abroad. All the world, in its toil, its hunger, its sordidness, pauses a moment to look on it—that gray seacoast, the receding Mayflower, the two young Pilgrims in the foreground regarding it, with tender thoughts of the far home—all the world looks on it perhaps for a moment thoughtfully, perhaps tearfully, and is touched with the sentiment of it, is kindled into a glow of nobleness by the sight of that faith and love and resolute devotion which have tinged our early history with the faint light of romance. So art is no longer the enjoyment of the few, but the help and solace of the many.

The scholar who is cultured by books, reflection, travel, by a refined society, consorts with his kind, and more and more removes himself from the sympathies of common life. I know how almost inevitable this is, how almost impossible it is to resist the segregation of classes according to the affinities of taste. But by what mediation shall the culture that is now the possession of the few be made to leaven the world and to elevate and sweeten ordinary life? By books? Yes. By the newspaper? Yes. By the diffusion of works of art? Yes. But when all is done that can be done by such letters-missive from one class to another, there remains the need of more personal contact, of a human sympathy, diffused and living. The world has had enough of charities. It wants respect and consideration. We desire no longer to be legislated for, it says; we want to be legislated with. Why do you never come to see me but you bring me something? asks the sensitive and poor seamstress. Do you always give some charity to your friends? I want companionship, and not cold pieces; I want to be treated like a human being who has nerves and feelings, and tears too, and as much interest in the sunset, and in the birth of Christ, perhaps as you. And the mass of uncared-for ignorance and brutality, finding a voice at length, bitterly repels the condescensions of charity; you have your culture, your libraries, your fine houses, your church, your religion, and your God, too; let us alone, we want none of them. In the bear-pit at Berne, the occupants, who are the wards of the city, have had meat thrown to them daily for I know not how long, but they are not tamed by this charity, and would probably eat up any careless person who fell into their clutches, without apology.

Do not impute to me quixotic notions with regard to the duties of men and women of culture, or think that I undervalue the difficulties in the way, the fastidiousness on the one side, or the jealousies on the other. It is by no means easy to an active participant to define the drift of his own age; but I seem to see plainly that unless the culture of the age finds means to diffuse itself, working downward and reconciling antagonisms by a commonness of thought and feeling and aim in life, society must more and more separate itself into jarring classes, with mutual misunderstandings and hatred and war. To suggest remedies is much more difficult than to see evils; but the comprehension of dangers is the first step towards mastering them. The problem of our own time—the reconciliation of the interests of classes—is as yet very ill defined. This great movement of labor, for instance, does not know definitely what it wants, and those who are spectators do not know what their relations are to it. The first thing to be done is for them to try to understand each other. One class sees that the other has lighter or at least different labor, opportunities of travel, a more liberal supply of the luxuries of life, a higher enjoyment and a keener relish of the beautiful, the immaterial. Looking only at external conditions, it concludes that all it needs to come into this better place is wealth, and so it organizes war upon the rich, and it makes demands of freedom from toil and of compensation which it is in no man's power to give it, and which would not, if granted over and over again, lift it into that condition it desires. It is a tale in the Gulistan, that a king placed his son with a preceptor, and said, “This is your son; educate him in the same manner as your own.” The preceptor took pains with him for a year, but without success, whilst his own sons were completed in learning and accomplishments. The king reproved the preceptor, and said, “You have broken your promise, and not acted faithfully.”

He replied, “O king, the education was the same, but the capacities are different. Although silver and gold are produced from a stone, yet these metals are not to be found in every stone. The star Canopus shines all over the world, but the scented leather comes only from Yemen.” “'Tis an absolute, and, as it were, a divine perfection,” says Montaigne, “for a man to know how loyally to enjoy his being. We seek other conditions, by reason we do not understand the use of our own; and go out of ourselves, because we know not how there to reside.”

But nevertheless it becomes a necessity for us to understand the wishes of those who demand a change of condition, and it is necessary that they should understand the compensations as well as the limitations of every condition. The dervish congratulated himself that although the only monument of his grave would be a brick, he should at the last day arrive at and enter the gate of Paradise before the king had got from under the heavy stones of his costly tomb. Nothing will bring us into this desirable mutual understanding except sympathy and personal contact. Laws will not do it; institutions of charity and relief will not do it.

We must believe, for one thing, that the graces of culture will not be thrown away if exercised among the humblest and the least cultured; it is found out that flowers are often more welcome in the squalid tenement-houses of Boston than loaves of bread. It is difficult to say exactly how culture can extend its influence into places uncongenial and to people indifferent to it, but I will try and illustrate what I mean by an example or two.

Criminals in this country, when the law took hold of them, used to be turned over to the care of men who often had more sympathy with the crime than with the criminal, or at least to those who were almost as coarse in feeling and as brutal in speech as their charges. There have been some changes of late years in the care of criminals, but does public opinion yet everywhere demand that jailers and prison-keepers and executioners of the penal law should be men of refinement, of high character, of any degree of culture? I do not know any class more needing the best direct personal influence of the best civilization than the criminal. The problem of its proper treatment and reformation is one of the most pressing, and it needs practically the aid of our best men and women. I should have great hope of any prison establishment at the head of which was a gentleman of fine education, the purest tastes, the most elevated morality and lively sympathy with men as such, provided he had also will and the power of command. I do not know what might not be done for the viciously inclined and the transgressors, if they could come under the influence of refined men and women. And yet you know that a boy or a girl may be arrested for crime, and pass from officer to keeper, and jailer to warden, and spend years in a career of vice and imprisonment, and never once see any man or woman, officially, who has tastes, or sympathies, or aspirations much above that vulgar level whence the criminals came. Anybody who is honest and vigilant is considered good enough to take charge of prison birds.

The age is merciful and abounds in charities-houses of refuge for poor women, societies for the conservation of the exposed and the reclamation of the lost. It is willing to pay liberally for their support, and to hire ministers and distributors of its benefactions. But it is beginning to see that it cannot hire the distribution of love, nor buy brotherly feeling. The most encouraging thing I have seen lately is an experiment in one of our cities. In the thick of the town the ladies of the city have furnished and opened a reading-room, sewing-room, conversation-room, or what not, where young girls, who work for a living and have no opportunity for any culture, at home or elsewhere, may spend their evenings. They meet there always some of the ladies I have spoken of, whose unostentatious duty and pleasure it is to pass the evening with them, in reading or music or the use of the needle, and the exchange of the courtesies of life in conversation. Whatever grace and kindness and refinement of manner they carry there, I do not suppose are wasted. These are some of the ways in which culture can serve men. And I take it that one of the chief evidences of our progress in this century is the recognition of the truth that there is no selfishness so supreme—not even that in the possession of wealth—as that which retires into itself with all the accomplishments of liberal learning and rare opportunities, and looks upon the intellectual poverty of the world without a wish to relieve it. “As often as I have been among men,” says Seneca, “I have returned less a man.” And Thomas a Kempis declared that “the greatest saints avoided the company of men as much as they could, and chose to live to God in secret.” The Christian philosophy was no improvement upon the pagan in this respect, and was exactly at variance with the teaching and practice of Jesus of Nazareth.

The American scholar cannot afford to live for himself, nor merely for scholarship and the delights of learning. He must make himself more felt in the material life of this country. I am aware that it is said that the culture of the age is itself materialistic, and that its refinements are sensual; that there is little to choose between the coarse excesses of poverty and the polished and more decorous animality of the more fortunate. Without entering directly upon the consideration of this much-talked-of tendency, I should like to notice the influence upon our present and probable future of the bounty, fertility, and extraordinary opportunities of this still new land.

The American grows and develops himself with few restraints. Foreigners used to describe him as a lean, hungry, nervous animal, gaunt, inquisitive, inventive, restless, and certain to shrivel into physical inferiority in his dry and highly oxygenated atmosphere. This apprehension is not well founded. It is quieted by his achievements the continent over, his virile enterprises, his endurance in war and in the most difficult explorations, his resistance of the influence of great cities towards effeminacy and loss of physical vigor. If ever man took large and eager hold of earthly things and appropriated them to his own use, it is the American. We are gross eaters, we are great drinkers. We shall excel the English when we have as long practice as they. I am filled with a kind of dismay when I see the great stock-yards of Chicago and Cincinnati, through which flow the vast herds and droves of the prairies, marching straight down the throats of Eastern people. Thousands are always sowing and reaping and brewing and distilling, to slake the immortal thirst of the country. We take, indeed, strong hold of the earth; we absorb its fatness. When Leicester entertained Elizabeth at Kenilworth, the clock in the great tower was set perpetually at twelve, the hour of feasting. It is always dinner-time in America. I do not know how much land it takes to raise an average citizen, but I should say a quarter section. He spreads himself abroad, he riots in abundance; above all things he must have profusion, and he wants things that are solid and strong. On the Sorrentine promontory, and on the island of Capri, the hardy husbandman and fisherman draws his subsistence from the sea and from a scant patch of ground. One may feast on a fish and a handful of olives. The dinner of the laborer is a dish of polenta, a few figs, some cheese, a glass of thin wine. His wants are few and easily supplied. He is not overfed, his diet is not stimulating; I should say that he would pay little to the physician, that familiar of other countries whose family office is to counteract the effects of over-eating. He is temperate, frugal, content, and apparently draws not more of his life from the earth or the sea than from the genial sky. He would never build a Pacific Railway, nor write a hundred volumes of commentary on the Scriptures; but he is an example of how little a man actually needs of the gross products of the earth.

I suppose that life was never fuller in certain ways than it is here in America. If a civilization is judged by its wants, we are certainly highly civilized. We cannot get land enough, nor clothes enough, nor houses enough, nor food enough. A Bedouin tribe would fare sumptuously on what one American family consumes and wastes. The revenue required for the wardrobe of one woman of fashion would suffice to convert the inhabitants of I know not how many square miles in Africa. It absorbs the income of a province to bring up a baby. We riot in prodigality, we vie with each other in material accumulation and expense. Our thoughts are mainly on how to increase the products of the world; and get them into our own possession.

I think this gross material tendency is strong in America, and more likely to get the mastery over the spiritual and the intellectual here than elsewhere, because of our exhaustless resources. Let us not mistake the nature of a real civilization, nor suppose we have it because we can convert crude iron into the most delicate mechanism, or transport ourselves sixty miles an hour, or even if we shall refine our carnal tastes so as to be satisfied at dinner with the tongues of ortolans and the breasts of singing-birds.

Plato banished the musicians from his feasts because he would not have the charms of conversation interfered with. By comparison, music was to him a sensuous enjoyment. In any society the ideal must be the banishment of the more sensuous; the refinement of it will only repeat the continued experiment of history—the end of a civilization in a polished materialism, and its speedy fall from that into grossness.

I am sure that the scholar, trained to “plain living and high thinking,” knows that the prosperous life consists in the culture of the man, and not in the refinement and accumulation of the material. The word culture is often used to signify that dainty intellectualism which is merely a sensuous pampering of the mind, as distinguishable from the healthy training of the mind as is the education of the body in athletic exercises from the petting of it by luxurious baths and unguents. Culture is the blossom of knowledge, but it is a fruit blossom, the ornament of the age but the seed of the future. The so-called culture, a mere fastidiousness of taste, is a barren flower.

You would expect spurious culture to stand aloof from common life, as it does, to extend its charities at the end of a pole, to make of religion a mere 'cultus,' to construct for its heaven a sort of Paris, where all the inhabitants dress becomingly, and where there are no Communists. Culture, like fine manners, is not always the result of wealth or position. When monseigneur the archbishop makes his rare tour through the Swiss mountains, the simple peasants do not crowd upon him with boorish impudence, but strew his stony path with flowers, and receive him with joyous but modest sincerity. When the Russian prince made his landing in America the determined staring of a bevy of accomplished American women nearly swept the young man off the deck of the vessel. One cannot but respect that tremulous sensitiveness which caused the maiden lady to shrink from staring at the moon when she heard there was a man in it.

The materialistic drift of this age—that is, its devotion to material development—is frequently deplored. I suppose it is like all other ages in that respect, but there appears to be a more determined demand for change of condition than ever before, and a deeper movement for equalization. Here in America this is, in great part, a movement for merely physical or material equalization. The idea seems to be well-nigh universal that the millennium is to come by a great deal less work and a great deal more pay. It seems to me that the millennium is to come by an infusion into all society of a truer culture, which is neither of poverty nor of wealth, but is the beautiful fruit of the development of the higher part of man's nature.

And the thought I wish to leave with you, as scholars and men who can command the best culture, is that it is all needed to shape and control the strong growth of material development here, to guide the blind instincts of the mass of men who are struggling for a freer place and a breath of fresh air; that you cannot stand aloof in a class isolation; that your power is in a personal sympathy with the humanity which is ignorant but discontented; and that the question which the man with the spade asks about the use of your culture to him is a menace.


By Charles Dudley Warner

One of the worst characteristics of modern fiction is its so-called truth to nature. For fiction is an art, as painting is, as sculpture is, as acting is. A photograph of a natural object is not art; nor is the plaster cast of a man's face, nor is the bare setting on the stage of an actual occurrence. Art requires an idealization of nature. The amateur, though she may be a lady, who attempts to represent upon the stage the lady of the drawing-room, usually fails to convey to the spectators the impression of a lady. She lacks the art by which the trained actress, who may not be a lady, succeeds. The actual transfer to the stage of the drawing-room and its occupants, with the behavior common in well-bred society, would no doubt fail of the intended dramatic effect, and the spectators would declare the representation unnatural.

However our jargon of criticism may confound terms, we do not need to be reminded that art and nature are distinct; that art, though dependent on nature, is a separate creation; that art is selection and idealization, with a view to impressing the mind with human, or even higher than human, sentiments and ideas. We may not agree whether the perfect man and woman ever existed, but we do know that the highest representations of them in form—that in the old Greek sculptures—were the result of artistic selection of parts of many living figures.

When we praise our recent fiction for its photographic fidelity to nature we condemn it, for we deny to it the art which would give it value. We forget that the creation of the novel should be, to a certain extent, a synthetic process, and impart to human actions that ideal quality which we demand in painting. Heine regards Cervantes as the originator of the modern novel. The older novels sprang from the poetry of the Middle Ages; their themes were knightly adventure, their personages were the nobility; the common people did not figure in them. These romances, which had degenerated into absurdities, Cervantes overthrew by “Don Quixote.” But in putting an end to the old romances he created a new school of fiction, called the modern novel, by introducing into his romance of pseudo-knighthood a faithful description of the lower classes, and intermingling the phases of popular life. But he had no one-sided tendency to portray the vulgar only; he brought together the higher and the lower in society, to serve as light and shade, and the aristocratic element was as prominent as the popular. This noble and chivalrous element disappears in the novels of the English who imitated Cervantes. “These English novelists since Richardson's reign,” says Heine, “are prosaic natures; to the prudish spirit of their time even pithy descriptions of the life of the common people are repugnant, and we see on yonder side of the Channel those bourgeoisie novels arise, wherein the petty humdrum life of the middle classes is depicted.” But Scott appeared, and effected a restoration of the balance in fiction. As Cervantes had introduced the democratic element into romances, so Scott replaced the aristocratic element, when it had disappeared, and only a prosaic, bourgeoisie fiction existed. He restored to romances the symmetry which we admire in “Don Quixote.” The characteristic feature of Scott's historical romances, in the opinion of the great German critic, is the harmony between the artistocratic and democratic elements.

This is true, but is it the last analysis of the subject? Is it a sufficient account of the genius of Cervantes and Scott that they combined in their romances a representation of the higher and lower classes? Is it not of more importance how they represented them? It is only a part of the achievement of Cervantes that he introduced the common people into fiction; it is his higher glory that he idealized his material; and it is Scott's distinction also that he elevated into artistic creations both nobility and commonalty. In short, the essential of fiction is not diversity of social life, but artistic treatment of whatever is depicted. The novel may deal wholly with an aristocracy, or wholly with another class, but it must idealize the nature it touches into art. The fault of the bourgeoisie novels, of which Heine complains, is not that they treated of one class only, and excluded a higher social range, but that they treated it without art and without ideality. In nature there is nothing vulgar to the poet, and in human life there is nothing uninteresting to the artist; but nature and human life, for the purposes of fiction, need a creative genius. The importation into the novel of the vulgar, sordid, and ignoble in life is always unbearable, unless genius first fuses the raw material in its alembic.

When, therefore, we say that one of the worst characteristics of modern fiction is its so-called truth to nature, we mean that it disregards the higher laws of art, and attempts to give us unidealized pictures of life. The failure is not that vulgar themes are treated, but that the treatment is vulgar; not that common life is treated, but that the treatment is common; not that care is taken with details, but that no selection is made, and everything is photographed regardless of its artistic value. I am sure that no one ever felt any repugnance on being introduced by Cervantes to the muleteers, contrabandistas, servants and serving-maids, and idle vagabonds of Spain, any more than to an acquaintance with the beggar-boys and street gamins on the canvases of Murillo. And I believe that the philosophic reason of the disgust of Heine and of every critic with the English bourgeoisie novels, describing the petty, humdrum life of the middle classes, was simply the want of art in the writers; the failure on their part to see that a literal transcript of nature is poor stuff in literature. We do not need to go back to Richardson's time for illustrations of that truth. Every week the English press—which is even a greater sinner in this respect than the American—turns out a score of novels which are mediocre, not from their subjects, but from their utter lack of the artistic quality. It matters not whether they treat of middle-class life, of low, slum life, or of drawing-room life and lords and ladies; they are equally flat and dreary. Perhaps the most inane thing ever put forth in the name of literature is the so-called domestic novel, an indigestible, culinary sort of product, that might be named the doughnut of fiction. The usual apology for it is that it depicts family life with fidelity. Its characters are supposed to act and talk as people act and talk at home and in society. I trust this is a libel, but, for the sake of the argument, suppose they do. Was ever produced so insipid a result? They are called moral; in the higher sense they are immoral, for they tend to lower the moral tone and stamina of every reader. It needs genius to import into literature ordinary conversation, petty domestic details, and the commonplace and vulgar phases of life. A report of ordinary talk, which appears as dialogue in domestic novels, may be true to nature; if it is, it is not worth writing or worth reading. I cannot see that it serves any good purpose whatever. Fortunately, we have in our day illustrations of a different treatment of the vulgar. I do not know any more truly realistic pictures of certain aspects of New England life than are to be found in Judd's “Margaret,” wherein are depicted exceedingly pinched and ignoble social conditions. Yet the characters and the life are drawn with the artistic purity of Flaxman's illustrations of Homer. Another example is Thomas Hardy's “Far from the Madding Crowd.” Every character in it is of the lower class in England. But what an exquisite creation it is! You have to turn back to Shakespeare for any talk of peasants and clowns and shepherds to compare with the conversations in this novel, so racy are they of the soil, and yet so touched with the finest art, the enduring art. Here is not the realism of the photograph, but of the artist; that is to say, it is nature idealized.

When we criticise our recent fiction it is obvious that we ought to remember that it only conforms to the tendencies of our social life, our prevailing ethics, and to the art conditions of our time. Literature is never in any age an isolated product. It is closely related to the development or retrogression of the time in all departments of life. The literary production of our day seems, and no doubt is, more various than that of any other, and it is not easy to fix upon its leading tendency. It is claimed for its fiction, however, that it is analytic and realistic, and that much of it has certain other qualities that make it a new school in art. These aspects of it I wish to consider in this paper.

It is scarcely possible to touch upon our recent fiction, any more than upon our recent poetry, without taking into account what is called the Esthetic movement—a movement more prominent in England than elsewhere. A slight contemplation of this reveals its resemblance to the Romantic movement in Germany, of which the brothers Schlegel were apostles, in the latter part of the last century. The movements are alike in this: that they both sought inspiration in mediaevalism, in feudalism, in the symbols of a Christianity that ran to mysticism, in the quaint, strictly pre-Raphael art which was supposed to be the result of a simple faith. In the one case, the artless and childlike remains of old German pictures and statuary were exhumed and set up as worthy of imitation; in the other, we have carried out in art, in costume, and in domestic life, so far as possible, what has been wittily and accurately described as “stained-glass attitudes.” With all its peculiar vagaries, the English school is essentially a copy of the German, in its return to mediaevalism. The two movements have a further likeness, in that they are found accompanied by a highly symbolized religious revival. English aestheticism would probably disown any religious intention, although it has been accused of a refined interest in Pan and Venus; but in all its feudal sympathies it goes along with the religious art and vestment revival, the return to symbolic ceremonies, monastic vigils, and sisterhoods. Years ago, an acute writer in the Catholic World claimed Dante Gabriel Rossetti as a Catholic writer, from the internal evidence of his poems. The German Romanticism, which was fostered by the Romish priesthood, ended, or its disciples ended, in the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. It will be interesting to note in what ritualistic harbor the aestheticism of our day will finally moor. That two similar revivals should come so near together in time makes us feel that the world moves onward—if it does move onward—in circular figures of very short radii. There seems to be only one thing certain in our Christian era, and that is a periodic return to classic models; the only stable standards of resort seem to be Greek art and literature.

The characteristics which are prominent, when we think of our recent fiction, are a wholly unidealized view of human society, which has got the name of realism; a delight in representing the worst phases of social life; an extreme analysis of persons and motives; the sacrifice of action to psychological study; the substitution of studies of character for anything like a story; a notion that it is not artistic, and that it is untrue to nature, to bring any novel to a definite consummation, and especially to end it happily; and a despondent tone about society, politics, and the whole drift of modern life. Judged by our fiction, we are in an irredeemably bad way. There is little beauty, joy, or light-heartedness in living; the spontaneity and charm of life are analyzed out of existence; sweet girls, made to love and be loved, are extinct; melancholy Jaques never meets a Rosalind in the forest of Arden, and if he sees her in the drawing-room he poisons his pleasure with the thought that she is scheming and artificial; there are no happy marriages —indeed, marriage itself is almost too inartistic to be permitted by our novelists, unless it can be supplemented by a divorce, and art is supposed to deny any happy consummation of true love. In short, modern society is going to the dogs, notwithstanding money is only three and a half per cent. It is a gloomy business life, at the best. Two learned but despondent university professors met, not long ago, at an afternoon “coffee,” and drew sympathetically together in a corner. “What a world this would be,” said one, “without coffee!” “Yes,” replied the other, stirring the fragrant cup in a dejected aspect “yes; but what a hell of a world it is with coffee!”

The analytic method in fiction is interesting, when used by a master of dissection, but it has this fatal defect in a novel—it destroys illusion. We want to think that the characters in a story are real persons. We cannot do this if we see the author set them up as if they were marionettes, and take them to pieces every few pages, and show their interior structure, and the machinery by which they are moved. Not only is the illusion gone, but the movement of the story, if there is a story, is retarded, till the reader loses all enjoyment in impatience and weariness. You find yourself saying, perhaps, What a very clever fellow the author is! What an ingenious creation this character is! How brightly the author makes his people talk! This is high praise, but by no means the highest, and when we reflect we see how immeasurably inferior, in fiction, the analytic method is to the dramatic. In the dramatic method the characters appear, and show what they are by what they do and say; the reader studies their motives, and a part of his enjoyment is in analyzing them, and his vanity is flattered by the trust reposed in his perspicacity. We realize how unnecessary minute analysis of character and long descriptions are in reading a drama by Shakespeare, in which the characters are so vividly presented to us in action and speech, without the least interference of the author in description, that we regard them as persons with whom we might have real relations, and not as bundles of traits and qualities. True, the conditions of dramatic art and the art of the novel are different, in that the drama can dispense with delineations, for its characters are intended to be presented to the eye; but all the same, a good drama will explain itself without the aid of actors, and there is no doubt that it is the higher art in the novel, when once the characters are introduced, to treat them dramatically, and let them work out their own destiny according to their characters. It is a truism to say that when the reader perceives that the author can compel his characters to do what he pleases all interest in them as real persons is gone. In a novel of mere action and adventure, a lower order of fiction, where all the interest centres in the unraveling of a plot, of course this does not so much matter.

Not long ago, in Edinburgh, I amused myself in looking up some of the localities made famous in Scott's romances, which are as real in the mind as any historical places. Afterwards I read “The Heart of Midlothian.” I was surprised to find that, as a work of art, it was inferior to my recollection of it. Its style is open to the charge of prolixity, and even of slovenliness in some parts; and it does not move on with increasing momentum and concentration to a climax, as many of Scott's novels do; the story drags along in the disposition of one character after another. Yet, when I had finished the book and put it away, a singular thing happened. It suddenly came to me that in reading it I had not once thought of Scott as the maker; it had never occurred to me that he had created the people in whose fortunes I had been so intensely absorbed; and I never once had felt how clever the novelist was in the naturally dramatic dialogues of the characters. In short, it had not entered my mind to doubt the existence of Jeanie and Effie Deans, and their father, and Reuben Butler, and the others, who seem as real as historical persons in Scotch history. And when I came to think of it afterwards, reflecting upon the assumptions of the modern realistic school, I found that some scenes, notably the night attack on the old Tolbooth, were as real to me as if I had read them in a police report of a newspaper of the day. Was Scott, then, only a reporter? Far from it, as you would speedily see if he had thrown into the novel a police report of the occurrences at the Tolbooth before art had shorn it of its irrelevancies, magnified its effective and salient points, given events their proper perspective, and the whole picture due light and shade.

The sacrifice of action to some extent to psychological evolution in modern fiction may be an advance in the art as an intellectual entertainment, if the writer does not make that evolution his end, and does not forget that the indispensable thing in a novel is the story. The novel of mere adventure or mere plot, it need not be urged, is of a lower order than that in which the evolution of characters and their interaction make the story. The highest fiction is that which embodies both; that is, the story in which action is the result of mental and spiritual forces in play. And we protest against the notion that the novel of the future is to be, or should be, merely a study of, or an essay or a series of analytic essays on, certain phases of social life.

It is not true that civilization or cultivation has bred out of the world the liking for a story. In this the most highly educated Londoner and the Egyptian fellah meet on common human ground. The passion for a story has no more died out than curiosity, or than the passion of love. The truth is not that stories are not demanded, but that the born raconteur and story-teller is a rare person. The faculty of telling a story is a much rarer gift than the ability to analyze character and even than the ability truly to draw character. It may be a higher or a lower power, but it is rarer. It is a natural gift, and it seems that no amount of culture can attain it, any more than learning can make a poet. Nor is the complaint well founded that the stories have all been told, the possible plots all been used, and the combinations of circ*mstances exhausted. It is no doubt our individual experience that we hear almost every day—and we hear nothing so eagerly—some new story, better or worse, but new in its exhibition of human character, and in the combination of events. And the strange, eventful histories of human life will no more be exhausted than the possible arrangements of mathematical numbers. We might as well say that there are no more good pictures to be painted as that there are no more good stories to be told.

Equally baseless is the assumption that it is inartistic and untrue to nature to bring a novel to a definite consummation, and especially to end it happily. Life, we are told, is full of incompletion, of broken destinies, of failures, of romances that begin but do not end, of ambitions and purposes frustrated, of love crossed, of unhappy issues, or a resultless play of influences. Well, but life is full, also, of endings, of the results in concrete action of character, of completed dramas. And we expect and give, in the stories we hear and tell in ordinary intercourse, some point, some outcome, an end of some sort. If you interest me in the preparations of two persons who are starting on a journey, and expend all your ingenuity in describing their outfit and their characters, and do not tell me where they went or what befell them afterwards, I do not call that a story. Nor am I any better satisfied when you describe two persons whom you know, whose characters are interesting, and who become involved in all manner of entanglements, and then stop your narration; and when I ask, say you have not the least idea whether they got out of their difficulties, or what became of them. In real life we do not call that a story where everything is left unconcluded and in the air. In point of fact, romances are daily beginning and daily ending, well or otherwise, under our observation.

Should they always end well in the novel? I am very far from saying that. Tragedy and the pathos of failure have their places in literature as well as in life. I only say that, artistically, a good ending is as proper as a bad ending. Yet the main object of the novel is to entertain, and the best entertainment is that which lifts the imagination and quickens the spirit; to lighten the burdens of life by taking us for a time out of our humdrum and perhaps sordid conditions, so that we can see familiar life somewhat idealized, and probably see it all the more truly from an artistic point of view. For the majority of the race, in its hard lines, fiction is an inestimable boon. Incidentally the novel may teach, encourage, refine, elevate. Even for these purposes, that novel is the best which shows us the best possibilities of our lives—the novel which gives hope and cheer instead of discouragement and gloom. Familiarity with vice and sordidness in fiction is a low entertainment, and of doubtful moral value, and their introduction is unbearable if it is not done with the idealizing touch of the artist.

Do not misunderstand me to mean that common and low life are not fit subjects of fiction, or that vice is not to be lashed by the satirist, or that the evils of a social state are never to be exposed in the novel. For this, also, is an office of the novel, as it is of the drama, to hold the mirror up to nature, and to human nature as it exhibits itself. But when the mirror shows nothing but vice and social disorder, leaving out the saving qualities that keep society on the whole, and family life as a rule, as sweet and good as they are, the mirror is not held up to nature, but more likely reflects a morbid mind. Still it must be added that the study of unfortunate social conditions is a legitimate one for the author to make; and that we may be in no state to judge justly of his exposure while the punishment is being inflicted, or while the irritation is fresh. For, no doubt, the reader winces often because the novel reveals to himself certain possible baseness, selfishness, and meanness. Of this, however, I (speaking for myself) may be sure: that the artist who so represents vulgar life that I am more in love with my kind, the satirist who so depicts vice and villainy that I am strengthened in my moral fibre, has vindicated his choice of material. On the contrary, those novelists are not justified whose forte it seems to be to so set forth goodness as to make it unattractive.

But we come back to the general proposition that the indispensable condition of the novel is that it shall entertain. And for this purpose the world is not ashamed to own that it wants, and always will want, a story—a story that has an ending; and if not a good ending, then one that in noble tragedy lifts up our nature into a high plane of sacrifice and pathos. In proof of this we have only to refer to the masterpieces of fiction which the world cherishes and loves to recur to.

I confess that I am harassed with the incomplete romances, that leave me, when the book is closed, as one might be on a waste plain at midnight, abandoned by his conductor, and without a lantern. I am tired of accompanying people for hours through disaster and perplexity and misunderstanding, only to see them lost in a thick mist at last. I am weary of going to funerals, which are not my funerals, however chatty and amusing the undertaker may be. I confess that I should like to see again the lovely heroine, the sweet woman, capable of a great passion and a great sacrifice; and I do not object if the novelist tries her to the verge of endurance, in agonies of mind and in perils, subjecting her to wasting sicknesses even, if he only brings her out at the end in a blissful compensation of her troubles, and endued with a new and sweeter charm. No doubt it is better for us all, and better art, that in the novel of society the destiny should be decided by character. What an artistic and righteous consummation it is when we meet the shrewd and wicked old Baroness Bernstein at Continental gaming-tables, and feel that there was no other logical end for the worldly and fascinating Beatrix of Henry Esmond! It is one of the great privileges of fiction to right the wrongs of life, to do justice to the deserving and the vicious. It is wholesome for us to contemplate the justice, even if we do not often see it in society. It is true that hypocrisy and vulgar self-seeking often succeed in life, occupying high places, and make their exit in the pageantry of honored obsequies. Yet always the man is conscious of the hollowness of his triumph, and the world takes a pretty accurate measure of it. It is the privilege of the novelist, without introducing into such a career what is called disaster, to satisfy our innate love of justice by letting us see the true nature of such prosperity. The unscrupulous man amasses wealth, lives in luxury and splendor, and dies in the odor of respectability. His poor and honest neighbor, whom he has wronged and defrauded, lives in misery, and dies in disappointment and penury. The novelist cannot reverse the facts without such a shock to our experience as shall destroy for us the artistic value of his fiction, and bring upon his work the deserved reproach of indiscriminately “rewarding the good and punishing the bad.” But we have a right to ask that he shall reveal the real heart and character of this passing show of life; for not to do this, to content himself merely with exterior appearances, is for the majority of his readers to efface the lines between virtue and vice. And we ask this not for the sake of the moral lesson, but because not to do it is, to our deep consciousness, inartistic and untrue to our judgment of life as it goes on. Thackeray used to say that all his talent was in his eyes; meaning that he was only an observer and reporter of what he saw, and not a Providence to rectify human affairs. The great artist undervalued his genius. He reported what he saw as Raphael and Murillo reported what they saw. With his touch of genius he assigned to everything its true value, moving us to tenderness, to pity, to scorn, to righteous indignation, to sympathy with humanity. I find in him the highest art, and not that indifference to the great facts and deep currents and destinies of human life, that want of enthusiasm and sympathy, which has got the name of “art for art's sake.” Literary fiction is a barren product if it wants sympathy and love for men. “Art for art's sake” is a good and defensible phrase, if our definition of art includes the ideal, and not otherwise.

I do not know how it has come about that in so large a proportion of recent fiction it is held to be artistic to look almost altogether upon the shady and the seamy side of life, giving to this view the name of “realism”; to select the disagreeable, the vicious, the unwholesome; to give us for our companions, in our hours of leisure and relaxation, only the silly and the weak-minded woman, the fast and slangy girl, the intrigante and the “shady”—to borrow the language of the society she seeks—the hero of irresolution, the prig, the vulgar, and the vicious; to serve us only with the foibles of the fashionable, the low tone of the gay, the gilded riffraff of our social state; to drag us forever along the dizzy, half-fractured precipice of the seventh commandment; to bring us into relations only with the sordid and the common; to force us to sup with unwholesome company on misery and sensuousness, in tales so utterly unpleasant that we are ready to welcome any disaster as a relief; and then—the latest and finest touch of modern art—to leave the whole weltering mass in a chaos, without conclusion and without possible issue. And this is called a picture of real life! Heavens! Is it true that in England, where a great proportion of the fiction we describe and loathe is produced; is it true that in our New England society there is nothing but frivolity, sordidness, decay of purity and faith, ignoble ambition and ignoble living? Is there no charm in social life—no self-sacrifice, devotion, courage to stem materialistic conditions, and live above them? Are there no noble women, sensible, beautiful, winning, with the grace that all the world loves, albeit with the feminine weaknesses that make all the world hope? Is there no manliness left? Are there no homes where the tempter does not live with the tempted in a mush of sentimental affinity? Or is it, in fact, more artistic to ignore all these, and paint only the feeble and the repulsive in our social state? The feeble, the sordid, and the repulsive in our social state nobody denies, nor does anybody deny the exceeding cleverness with which our social disorders are reproduced in fiction by a few masters of their art; but is it not time that it should be considered good art to show something of the clean and bright side?

This is pre-eminently the age of the novel. The development of variety of fiction since the days of Scott and Cooper is prodigious. The prejudice against novel-reading is quite broken down, since fiction has taken all fields for its province; everybody reads novels. Three-quarters of the books taken from the circulating library are stories; they make up half the library of the Sunday-schools. If a writer has anything to say, or thinks he has, he knows that he can most certainly reach the ear of the public by the medium of a story. So we have novels for children; novels religious, scientific, historical, archaeological, psychological, pathological, total-abstinence; novels of travel, of adventure and exploration; novels domestic, and the perpetual spawn of books called novels of society. Not only is everything turned into a story, real or so called, but there must be a story in everything. The stump-speaker holds his audience by well-worn stories; the preacher wakes up his congregation by a graphic narrative; and the Sunday-school teacher leads his children into all goodness by the entertaining path of romance; we even had a President who governed the country nearly by anecdotes. The result of this universal demand for fiction is necessarily an enormous supply, and as everybody writes, without reference to gifts, the product is mainly trash, and trash of a deleterious sort; for bad art in literature is bad morals. I am not sure but the so-called domestic, the diluted, the “goody,” namby-pamby, unrobust stories, which are so largely read by school-girls, young ladies, and women, do more harm than the “knowing,” audacious, wicked ones,—also, it is reported, read by them, and written largely by their own sex. For minds enfeebled and relaxed by stories lacking even intellectual fibre are in a poor condition to meet the perils of life. This is not the place for discussing the stories written for the young and for the Sunday-school. It seems impossible to check the flow of them, now that so much capital is invested in this industry; but I think that healthy public sentiment is beginning to recognize the truth that the excessive reading of this class of literature by the young is weakening to the mind, besides being a serious hindrance to study and to attention to the literature that has substance.

In his account of the Romantic School in Germany, Heine says, “In the breast of a nation's authors there always lies the image of its future, and the critic who, with a knife of sufficient keenness, dissects a new poet can easily prophesy, as from the entrails of a sacrificial animal, what shape matters will assume in Germany.” Now if all the poets and novelists of England and America today were cut up into little pieces (and we might sacrifice a few for the sake of the experiment), there is no inspecting augur who could divine therefrom our literary future. The diverse indications would puzzle the most acute dissector. Lost in the variety, the multiplicity of minute details, the refinements of analysis and introspection, he would miss any leading indications. For with all its variety, it seems to me that one characteristic of recent fiction is its narrowness—narrowness of vision and of treatment. It deals with lives rather than with life. Lacking ideality, it fails of broad perception. We are accustomed to think that with the advent of the genuine novel of society, in the first part of this century, a great step forward was taken in fiction. And so there was. If the artist did not use a big canvas, he adopted a broad treatment. But the tendency now is to push analysis of individual peculiarities to an extreme, and to substitute a study of traits for a representation of human life.

It scarcely need be said that it is not multitude of figures on a literary canvas that secures breadth of treatment. The novel may be narrow, though it swarms with a hundred personages. It may be as wide as life, as high as imagination can lift itself; it may image to us a whole social state, though it pats in motion no more persons than we made the acquaintance of in one of the romances of Hawthorne. Consider for a moment how Thackeray produced his marvelous results. We follow with him, in one of his novels of society, the fortunes of a very few people. They are so vividly portrayed that we are convinced the author must have known them in that great world with which he was so familiar; we should not be surprised to meet any of them in the streets of London. When we visit the Charterhouse School, and see the old forms where the boys sat nearly a century ago, we have in our minds Colonel Newcome as really as we have Charles Lamb and Coleridge and De Quincey. We are absorbed, as we read, in the evolution of the characters of perhaps only half a dozen people; and yet all the world, all great, roaring, struggling London, is in the story, and Clive, and Philip, and Ethel, and Becky Sharpe, and Captain Costigan are a part of life. It is the flowery month of May; the scent of the hawthorn is in the air, and the tender flush of the new spring suffuses the Park, where the tide of fashion and pleasure and idleness surges up and down-the sauntering throng, the splendid equipages, the endless cavalcade in Rotten Row, in which Clive descries afar off the white plume of his ladylove dancing on the waves of an unattainable society; the club windows are all occupied; Parliament is in session, with its nightly echoes of imperial politics; the thronged streets roar with life from morn till nearly morn again; the drawing-rooms hum and sparkle in the crush of a London season; as you walk the midnight pavement, through the swinging doors of the cider-cellars comes the burst of bacchanalian song. Here is the world of the press and of letters; here are institutions, an army, a navy, commerce, glimpses of great ships going to and fro on distant seas, of India, of Australia. This one book is an epitome of English life, almost of the empire itself. We are conscious of all this, so much breadth and atmosphere has the artist given his little history of half a dozen people in this struggling world.

But this background of a great city, of an empire, is not essential to the breadth of treatment upon which we insist in fiction, to broad characterization, to the play of imagination about common things which transfigures them into the immortal beauty of artistic creations. What a simple idyl in itself is Goethe's “Hermann and Dorothea”! It is the creation of a few master-touches, using only common material. Yet it has in it the breadth of life itself, the depth and passion of all our human struggle in the world-a little story with a vast horizon.

It is constantly said that the conditions in America are unfavorable to the higher fiction; that our society is unformed, without centre, without the definition of classes, which give the light and shade that Heine speaks of in “Don Quixote”; that it lacks types and customs that can be widely recognized and accepted as national and characteristic; that we have no past; that we want both romantic and historic background; that we are in a shifting, flowing, forming period which fiction cannot seize on; that we are in diversity and confusion that baffle artistic treatment; in short, that American life is too vast, varied, and crude for the purpose of the novelist.

These excuses might be accepted as fully accounting for our failure—or shall we say our delay?—if it were not for two or three of our literary performances. It is true that no novel has been written, and we dare say no novel will be written, that is, or will be, an epitome of the manifold diversities of American life, unless it be in the form of one of Walt Whitman's catalogues. But we are not without peculiar types; not without characters, not without incidents, stories, heroisms, inequalities; not without the charms of nature in infinite variety; and human nature is the same here that it is in Spain, France, and England. Out of these materials Cooper wrote romances, narratives stamped with the distinct characteristics of American life and scenery, that were and are eagerly read by all civilized peoples, and which secured the universal verdict which only breadth of treatment commands. Out of these materials, also, Hawthorne, child-endowed with a creative imagination, wove those tragedies of interior life, those novels of our provincial New England, which rank among the great masterpieces of the novelist's art. The master artist can idealize even our crude material, and make it serve. These exceptions to a rule do not go to prove the general assertion of a poverty of material for fiction here; the simple truth probably is that, for reasons incident to the development of a new region of the earth, creative genius has been turned in other directions than that of fictitious literature. Nor do I think that we need to take shelter behind the wellworn and convenient observation, the truth of which stands in much doubt, that literature is the final flower of a nation's civilization.

However, this is somewhat a digression. We are speaking of the tendency of recent fiction, very much the same everywhere that novels are written, which we have imperfectly sketched. It is probably of no more use to protest against it than it is to protest against the vulgar realism in pictorial art, which holds ugliness and beauty in equal esteem; or against aestheticism gone to seed in languid affectations; or against the enthusiasm of a social life which wreaks its religion on the color of a vestment, or sighs out its divine soul over an ancient pewter mug. Most of our fiction, in its extreme analysis, introspection and self-consciousness, in its devotion to details, in its disregard of the ideal, in its selection as well as in its treatment of nature, is simply of a piece with a good deal else that passes for genuine art. Much of it is admirable in workmanship, and exhibits a cleverness in details and a subtlety in the observation of traits which many great novels lack. But I should be sorry to think that the historian will judge our social life by it, and I doubt not that most of us are ready for a more ideal, that is to say, a more artistic, view of our performances in this bright and pathetic world.


By Charles Dudley Warner

To revisit this earth, some ages after their departure from it, is a common wish among men. We frequently hear men say that they would give so many months or years of their lives in exchange for a less number on the globe one or two or three centuries from now. Merely to see the world from some remote sphere, like the distant spectator of a play which passes in dumb show, would not suffice. They would like to be of the world again, and enter into its feelings, passions, hopes; to feel the sweep of its current, and so to comprehend what it has become.

I suppose that we all who are thoroughly interested in this world have this desire. There are some select souls who sit apart in calm endurance, waiting to be translated out of a world they are almost tired of patronizing, to whom the whole thing seems, doubtless, like a cheap performance. They sit on the fence of criticism, and cannot for the life of them see what the vulgar crowd make such a toil and sweat about. The prizes are the same dreary, old, fading bay wreaths. As for the soldiers marching past, their uniforms are torn, their hats are shocking, their shoes are dusty, they do not appear (to a man sitting on the fence) to march with any kind of spirit, their flags are old and tattered, the drums they beat are barbarous; and, besides, it is not probable that they are going anywhere; they will merely come round again, the same people, like the marching chorus in the “Beggar's Opera.” Such critics, of course, would not care to see the vulgar show over again; it is enough for them to put on record their protest against it in the weekly “Judgment Days” which they edit, and by-and-by withdraw out of their private boxes, with pity for a world in the creation of which they were not consulted.

The desire to revisit this earth is, I think, based upon a belief, well-nigh universal, that the world is to make some progress, and that it will be more interesting in the future than it is now. I believe that the human mind, whenever it is developed enough to comprehend its own action, rests, and has always rested, in this expectation. I do not know any period of time in which the civilized mind has not had expectation of something better for the race in the future. This expectation is sometimes stronger than it is at others; and, again, there are always those who say that the Golden Age is behind them. It is always behind or before us; the poor present alone has no friends; the present, in the minds of many, is only the car that is carrying us away from an age of virtue and of happiness, or that is perhaps bearing us on to a time of ease and comfort and security.

Perhaps it is worth while, in view of certain recent discussions, and especially of some free criticisms of this country, to consider whether there is any intention of progress in this world, and whether that intention is discoverable in the age in which we live.

If it is an old question, it is not a settled one; the practical disbelief in any such progress is widely entertained. Not long ago Mr. James Anthony Froude published an essay on Progress, in which he examined some of the evidences upon which we rely to prove that we live in an “era of progress.” It is a melancholy essay, for its tone is that of profound skepticism as to certain influences and means of progress upon which we in this country most rely. With the illustrative arguments of Mr. Froude's essay I do not purpose specially to meddle; I recall it to the attention of the reader as a representative type of skepticism regarding progress which is somewhat common among intellectual men, and is not confined to England. It is not exactly an acceptance of Rousseau's notion that civilization is a mistake, and that it would be better for us all to return to a state of nature—though in John Ruskin's case it nearly amounts to this; but it is a hostility in its last analysis to what we understand by the education of the people, and to the government of the people by themselves. If Mr. Froude's essay is anything but an exhibition of the scholarly weapons of criticism, it is the expression of a profound disbelief in the intellectual education of the masses of the people. Mr. Ruskin goes further. He makes his open proclamation against any emancipation from hand-toil. Steam is the devil himself let loose from the pit, and all labor-saving machinery is his own invention. Mr. Ruskin is the bull that stands upon the track and threatens with annihilation the on-coming locomotive; and I think that any spectator who sees his menacing attitude and hears his roaring cannot but have fears for the locomotive.

There are two sorts of infidelity concerning humanity, and I do not know which is the more withering in its effects. One is that which regards this world as only a waste and a desert, across the sands of which we are merely fugitives, fleeing from the wrath to come. The other is that doubt of any divine intention in development, in history, which we call progress from age to age.

In the eyes of this latter infidelity history is not a procession or a progression, but only a series of disconnected pictures, each little era rounded with its own growth, fruitage, and decay, a series of incidents or experiments, without even the string of a far-reaching purpose to connect them. There is no intention of progress in it all. The race is barbarous, and then it changes to civilized; in the one case the strong rob the weak by brute force; in the other the crafty rob the unwary by finesse. The latter is a more agreeable state of things; but it comes to about the same. The robber used to knock us down and take away our sheepskins; he now administers chloroform and relieves us of our watches. It is a gentlemanly proceeding, and scientific, and we call it civilization. Meantime human nature remains the same, and the whole thing is a weary round that has no advance in it.

If this is true the succession of men and of races is no better than a vegetable succession; and Mr. Froude is quite right in doubting if education of the brain will do the English agricultural laborer any good; and Mr. Ruskin ought to be aided in his crusade against machinery, which turns the world upside down. The best that can be done with a man is the best that can be done with a plant-set him out in some favorable locality, or leave him where he happened to strike root, and there let him grow and mature in measure and quiet—especially quiet—as he may in God's sun and rain. If he happens to be a cabbage, in Heaven's name don't try to make a rose of him, and do not disturb the vegetable maturing of his head by grafting ideas upon his stock.

The most serious difficulty in the way of those who maintain that there is an intention of progress in this world from century to century, from age to age—a discernible growth, a universal development—is the fact that all nations do not make progress at the same time or in the same ratio; that nations reach a certain development, and then fall away and even retrograde; that while one may be advancing into high civilization, another is lapsing into deeper barbarism, and that nations appear to have a limit of growth. If there were a law of progress, an intention of it in all the world, ought not all peoples and tribes to advance pari passu, or at least ought there not to be discernible a general movement, historical and contemporary? There is no such general movement which can be computed, the law of which can be discovered—therefore it does not exist. In a kind of despair, we are apt to run over in our minds empires and pre-eminent civilizations that have existed, and then to doubt whether life in this world is intended to be anything more than a series of experiments. There is the German nation of our day, the most aggressive in various fields of intellectual activity, a Hercules of scholarship, the most thoroughly trained and powerful—though its civilization marches to the noise of the hateful and barbarous drum. In what points is it better than the Greek nation of the age of its superlative artists, philosophers, poets—the age of the most joyous, elastic human souls in the most perfect human bodies?

Again, it is perhaps a fanciful notion that the Atlantis of Plato was the northern part of the South American continent, projecting out towards Africa, and that the Antilles are the peaks and headlands of its sunken bulk. But there are evidences enough that the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea were within historic periods the seat of a very considerable civilization—the seat of cities, of commerce, of trade, of palaces and pleasure—gardens—faint images, perhaps, of the luxurious civilization of Baia! and Pozzuoli and Capri in the most profligate period of the Roman empire. It is not more difficult to believe that there was a great material development here than to believe it of the African shore of the Mediterranean. Not to multiply instances that will occur to all, we see as many retrograde as advance movements, and we see, also, that while one spot of the earth at one time seems to be the chosen theatre of progress, other portions of the globe are absolutely dead and without the least leaven of advancing life, and we cannot understand how this can be if there is any such thing as an all-pervading and animating intention or law of progress. And then we are reminded that the individual human mind long ago attained its height of power and capacity. It is enough to recall the names of Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Paul, Homer, David.

No doubt it has seemed to other periods and other nations, as it now does to the present civilized races, that they were the chosen times and peoples of an extraordinary and limitless development. It must have seemed so to the Jews who overran Palestine and set their shining cities on all the hills of heathendom. It must have seemed so to the Babylonish conquerors who swept over Palestine in turn, on their way to greater conquests in Egypt. It must have seemed so to Greece when the Acropolis was to the outlying world what the imperial calla is to the marsh in which it lifts its superb flower. It must have seemed so to Rome when its solid roads of stone ran to all parts of a tributary world—the highways of the legions, her ministers, and of the wealth that poured into her treasury. It must have seemed so to followers of Mahomet, when the crescent knew no pause in its march up the Arabian peninsula to the Bosporus, to India, along the Mediterranean shores to Spain, where in the eighth century it flowered into a culture, a learning, a refinement in art and manners, to which the Christian world of that day was a stranger. It must have seemed so in the awakening of the sixteenth century, when Europe, Spain leading, began that great movement of discovery and aggrandizement which has, in the end, been profitable only to a portion of the adventurers. And what shall we say of a nation as old, if not older than any of these we have mentioned, slowly building up meantime a civilization and perfecting a system of government and a social economy which should outlast them all, and remain to our day almost the sole monument of permanence and stability in a shifting world?

How many times has the face of Europe been changed—and parts of Africa, and Asia Minor too, for that matter—by conquests and crusades, and the rise and fall of civilizations as well as dynasties? while China has endured, almost undisturbed, under a system of law, administration, morality, as old as the Pyramids probably—existed a coherent nation, highly developed in certain essentials, meeting and mastering, so far as we can see, the great problem of an over-populated territory, living in a good degree of peace and social order, of respect for age and law, and making a continuous history, the mere record of which is printed in a thousand bulky volumes. Yet we speak of the Chinese empire as an instance of arrested growth, for which there is no salvation, except it shall catch the spirit of progress abroad in the world. What is this progress, and where does it come from?

Think for a moment of this significant situation. For thousands of years, empires, systems of society, systems of civilization—Egyptian, Jewish, Greek, Roman, Moslem, Feudal—have flourished and fallen, grown to a certain height and passed away; great organized fabrics have gone down, and, if there has been any progress, it has been as often defeated as renewed. And here is an empire, apart from this scene of alternate success and disaster, which has existed in a certain continuity and stability, and yet, now that it is uncovered and stands face to face with the rest of the world, it finds that it has little to teach us, and almost everything to learn from us. The old empire sends its students to learn of us, the newest child of civilization; and through us they learn all the great past, its literature, law, science, out of which we sprang. It appears, then, that progress has, after all, been with the shifting world, that has been all this time going to pieces, rather than with the world that has been permanent and unshaken.

When we speak of progress we may mean two things. We may mean a lifting of the races as a whole by reason of more power over the material world, by reason of what we call the conquest of nature and a practical use of its forces; or we may mean a higher development of the individual man, so that he shall be better and happier. If from age to age it is discoverable that the earth is better adapted to man as a dwelling-place, and he is on the whole fitted to get more out of it for his own growth, is not that progress, and is it not evidence of an intention of progress?

Now, it is sometimes said that Providence, in the economy of this world, cares nothing for the individual, but works out its ideas and purposes through the races, and in certain periods, slowly bringing in, by great agencies and by processes destructive to individuals and to millions of helpless human beings, truths and principles; so laying stepping-stones onward to a great consummation. I do not care to dwell upon this thought, but let us see if we can find any evidence in history of the presence in this world of an intention of progress.

It is common to say that, if the world makes progress at all, it is by its great men, and when anything important for the race is to be done, a great man is raised up to do it. Yet another way to look at it is, that the doing of something at the appointed time makes the man who does it great, or at least celebrated. The man often appears to be only a favored instrument of communication. As we glance back we recognize the truth that, at this and that period, the time had come for certain discoveries. Intelligence seemed pressing in from the invisible. Many minds were on the alert to apprehend it. We believe, for instance, that if Gutenberg had not invented movable types, somebody else would have given them to the world about that time. Ideas, at certain times, throng for admission into the world; and we are all familiar with the fact that the same important idea (never before revealed in all the ages) occurs to separate and widely distinct minds at about the same time. The invention of the electric telegraph seemed to burst upon the world simultaneously from many quarters—not perfect, perhaps, but the time for the idea had come—and happy was it for the man who entertained it. We have agreed to call Columbus the discoverer of America, but I suppose there is no doubt that America had been visited by European, and probably Asiatic, people ages before Columbus; that four or five centuries before him people from northern Europe had settlements here; he was fortunate, however, in “discovering” it in the fullness of time, when the world, in its progress, was ready for it. If the Greeks had had gunpowder, electro-magnetism, the printing press, history would need to be rewritten. Why the inquisitive Greek mind did not find out these things is a mystery upon any other theory than the one we are considering.

And it is as mysterious that China, having gunpowder and the art of printing, is not today like Germany.

There seems to me to be a progress, or an intention of progress, in the world, independent of individual men. Things get on by all sorts of instruments, and sometimes by very poor ones. There are times when new thoughts or applications of known principles seem to throng from the invisible for expression through human media, and there is hardly ever an important invention set free in the world that men do not appear to be ready cordially to receive it. Often we should be justified in saying that there was a widespread expectation of it. Almost all the great inventions and the ingenious application of principles have many claimants for the honor of priority.

On any other theory than this, that there is present in the world an intention of progress which outlasts individuals, and even races, I cannot account for the fact that, while civilizations decay and pass away, and human systems go to pieces, ideas remain and accumulate. We, the latest age, are the inheritors of all the foregoing ages. I do not believe that anything of importance has been lost to the world. The Jewish civilization was torn up root and branch, but whatever was valuable in the Jewish polity is ours now. We may say the same of the civilizations of Athens and of Rome; though the entire organization of the ancient world, to use Mr. Froude's figure, collapsed into a heap of incoherent sand, the ideas remained, and Greek art and Roman law are part of the world's solid possessions.

Even those who question the value to the individual of what we call progress, admit, I suppose, the increase of knowledge in the world from age to age, and not only its increase, but its diffusion. The intelligent schoolboy today knows more than the ancient sages knew—more about the visible heavens, more of the secrets of the earth, more of the human body. The rudiments of his education, the common experiences of his everyday life, were, at the best, the guesses and speculations of a remote age. There is certainly an accumulation of facts, ideas, knowledge. Whether this makes men better, wiser, happier, is indeed disputed.

In order to maintain the notion of a general and intended progress, it is not necessary to show that no preceding age has excelled ours in some special, development. Phidias has had no rival in sculpture, we may admit. It is possible that glass was once made as flexible as leather, and that copper could be hardened like steel. But I do not take much stock in the “lost arts,” the wondering theme of the lyceums. The knowledge of the natural world, and of materials, was never, I believe, so extensive and exact as it is today. It is possible that there are tricks of chemistry, ingenious processes, secrets of color, of which we are ignorant; but I do not believe there was ever an ancient alchemist who could not be taught something in a modern laboratory. The vast engineering works of the ancient Egyptians, the remains of their temples and pyramids, excite our wonder; but I have no doubt that President Grant, if he becomes the tyrant they say he is becoming, and commands the labor of forty millions of slaves—a large proportion of them office —holders—could build a Karnak, or erect a string of pyramids across New Jersey.

Mr. Froude runs lightly over a list of subjects upon which the believer in progress relies for his belief, and then says of them that the world calls this progress—he calls it only change. I suppose he means by this two things: that these great movements of our modern life are not any evidence of a permanent advance, and that our whole structure may tumble into a heap of incoherent sand, as systems of society have done before; and, again, that it is questionable if, in what we call a stride in civilization, the individual citizen is becoming any purer or more just, or if his intelligence is directed towards learning and doing what is right, or only to the means of more extended pleasures.

It is, perhaps, idle to speculate upon the first of these points—the permanence of our advance, if it is an advance. But we may be encouraged by one thing that distinguishes this period—say from the middle of the eighteenth century—from any that has preceded it. I mean the introduction of machinery, applied to the multiplication of man's power in a hundred directions—to manufacturing, to locomotion, to the diffusion of thought and of knowledge. I need not dwell upon this familiar topic. Since this period began there has been, so far as I know, no retrograde movement anywhere, but, besides the material, an intellectual and spiritual kindling the world over, for which history has no sort of parallel. Truth is always the same, and will make its way, but this subject might be illustrated by a study of the relation of Christianity and of the brotherhood of men to machinery. The theme would demand an essay by itself. I leave it with the one remark, that this great change now being wrought in the world by the multiplicity of machinery is not more a material than it is an intellectual one, and that we have no instance in history of a catastrophe widespread enough and adequate to sweep away its results. That is to say, none of the catastrophes, not even the corruptions, which brought to ruin the ancient civilizations, would work anything like the same disaster in an age which has the use of machinery that this age has.

For instance: Gibbon selects the period between the accession of Trajan and the death of Marcus Aurelius as the time in which the human race enjoyed more general happiness than they had ever known before, or had since known. Yet, says Mr. Froude, in the midst of this prosperity the heart of the empire was dying out of it; luxury and selfishness were eating away the principle that held society together, and the ancient world was on the point of collapsing into a heap of incoherent sand. Now, it is impossible to conceive that the catastrophe which did happen to that civilization could have happened if the world had then possessed the steam-engine, the printing-press, and the electric telegraph. The Roman power might have gone down, and the face of the world been recast; but such universal chaos and such a relapse for the individual people would seem impossible.

If we turn from these general considerations to the evidences that this is an “era of progress” in the condition of individual men, we are met by more specific denials. Granted, it is said, all your facilities for travel and communication, for cheap and easy manufacture, for the distribution of cheap literature and news, your cheap education, better homes, and all the comforts and luxuries of your machine civilization, is the average man, the agriculturist, the machinist, the laborer any better for it all? Are there more purity, more honest, fair dealing, genuine work, fear and honor of God? Are the proceeds of labor more evenly distributed? These, it is said, are the criteria of progress; all else is misleading.

Now, it is true that the ultimate end of any system of government or civilization should be the improvement of the individual man. And yet this truth, as Mr. Froude puts it, is only a half-truth, so that this single test of any system may not do for a given time and a limited area. Other and wider considerations come in. Disturbances, which for a while unsettle society and do not bring good results to individuals, may, nevertheless, be necessary, and may be a sign of progress. Take the favorite illustration of Mr. Froude and Mr. Ruskin—the condition of the agricultural laborer of England. If I understand them, the civilization of the last century has not helped his position as a man. If I understand them, he was a better man, in a better condition of earthly happiness, and with a better chance of heaven, fifty years ago than now, before the “era of progress” found him out. (It ought to be noticed here, that the report of the Parliamentary Commission on the condition of the English agricultural laborer does not sustain Mr. Froude's assumptions. On the contrary, the report shows that his condition is in almost all respects vastly better than it was fifty years ago.) Mr. Ruskin would remove the steam-engine and all its devilish works from his vicinity; he would abolish factories, speedy travel by rail, new-fangled instruments of agriculture, our patent education, and remit him to his ancient condition—tied for life to a bit of ground, which should supply all his simple wants; his wife should weave the clothes for the family; his children should learn nothing but the catechism and to speak the truth; he should take his religion without question from the hearty, fox-hunting parson, and live and die undisturbed by ideas. Now, it seems to me that if Mr. Ruskin could realize in some isolated nation this idea of a pastoral, simple existence, under a paternal government, he would have in time an ignorant, stupid, brutal community in a great deal worse case than the agricultural laborers of England are at present. Three-fourths of the crime in the kingdom of Bavaria is committed in the Ultramontane region of the Tyrol, where the conditions of popular education are about those that Mr. Ruskin seems to regret as swept away by the present movement in England—a stagnant state of things, in which any wind of heaven would be a blessing, even if it were a tornado. Education of the modern sort unsettles the peasant, renders him unfit for labor, and gives us a half-educated idler in place of a conscientious workman. The disuse of the apprentice system is not made good by the present system of education, because no one learns a trade well, and the consequence is poor work, and a sham civilization generally. There is some truth in these complaints. But the way out is not backward, but forward. The fault is not with education, though it may be with the kind of education. The education must go forward; the man must not be half but wholly educated. It is only half-knowledge like half-training in a trade that is dangerous.

But what I wish to say is, that notwithstanding certain unfavorable things in the condition of the English laborer and mechanic, his chance is better in the main than it was fifty years ago. The world is a better world for him. He has the opportunity to be more of a man. His world is wider, and it is all open to him to go where he will. Mr. Ruskin may not so easily find his ideal, contented peasant, but the man himself begins to apprehend that this is a world of ideas as well as of food and clothes, and I think, if he were consulted, he would have no desire to return to the condition of his ancestors. In fact, the most hopeful symptom in the condition of the English peasant is his discontent. For, as skepticism is in one sense the handmaid of truth, discontent is the mother of progress. The man is comparatively of little use in the world who is contented.

There is another thought pertinent here. It is this: that no man, however humble, can live a full life if he lives to himself alone. He is more of a man, he lives in a higher plane of thought and of enjoyment, the more his communications are extended with his fellows and the wider his sympathies are. I count it a great thing for the English peasant, a solid addition to his life, that he is every day being put into more intimate relations with every other man on the globe.

I know it is said that these are only vague and sentimental notions of progress—notions of a “salvation by machinery.” Let us pass to something that may be less vague, even if it be more sentimental. For a hundred years we have reckoned it progress, that the people were taking part in government. We have had a good deal of faith in the proposition put forth at Philadelphia a century ago, that men are, in effect, equal in political rights. Out of this simple proposition springs logically the extension of suffrage, and a universal education, in order that this important function of a government by the people may be exercised intelligently.

Now we are told by the most accomplished English essayists that this is a mistake, that it is change, but no progress. Indeed, there are philosophers in America who think so. At least I infer so from the fact that Mr. Froude fathers one of his definitions of our condition upon an American. When a block of printer's type is by accident broken up and disintegrated, it falls into what is called “pi.” The “pi,” a mere chaos, is afterwards sorted and distributed, preparatory to being built up into fresh combinations. “A distinguished American friend,” says Mr. Froude, “describes Democracy as making pi.” It is so witty a sarcasm that I almost think Mr. Froude manufactured it himself. Well, we have been making this “pi” for a hundred years; it seems to be a national dish in considerable favor with the rest of the world—even such ancient nations as China and Japan want a piece of it.

Now, of course, no form of human government is perfect, or anything like it, but I should be willing to submit the question to an English traveler even, whether, on the whole, the people of the United States do not have as fair a chance in life and feel as little the oppression of government as any other in the world; whether anywhere the burdens are more lifted off men's shoulders.

This infidelity to popular government and unbelief in any good results to come from it are not, unfortunately, confined to the English essayists. I am not sure but the notion is growing in what is called the intellectual class, that it is a mistake to intrust the government to the ignorant many, and that it can only be lodged safely in the hands of the wise few. We hear the corruptions of the times attributed to universal suffrage. Yet these corruptions certainly are not peculiar to the United States: It is also said here, as it is in England, that our diffused and somewhat superficial education is merely unfitting the mass of men, who must be laborers, for any useful occupation.

This argument, reduced to plain terms, is simply this: that the mass of mankind are unfit to decide properly their own political and social condition; and that for the mass of mankind any but a very limited mental development is to be deprecated. It would be enough to say of this, that class government and popular ignorance have been tried for so many ages, and always with disaster and failure in the end, that I should think philanthropical historians would be tired of recommending them. But there is more to be said.

I feel that as a resident on earth, part owner of it for a time, unavoidably a member of society, I have a right to a voice in determining what my condition and what my chance in life shall be. I may be ignorant, I should be a very poor ruler of other people, but I am better capable of deciding some things that touch me nearly than another is. By what logic can I say that I should have a part in the conduct of this world and that my neighbor should not? Who is to decide what degree of intelligence shall fit a man for a share in the government? How are we to select the few capable men that are to rule all the rest? As a matter of fact, men have been rulers who had neither the average intelligence nor virtue of the people they governed. And, as a matter of historical experience, a class in power has always sought its own benefit rather than that of the whole people. Lunacy, extraordinary stupidity, and crime aside, a man is the best guardian of his own liberty and rights.

The English critics, who say we have taken the government from the capable few and given it to the people, speak of universal suffrage as a quack panacea of this “era of progress.” But it is not the manufactured panacea of any theorist or philosopher whatever. It is the natural result of a diffused knowledge of human rights and of increasing intelligence. It is nothing against it that Napoleon III. used a mockery of it to govern France. It is not a device of the closet, but a method of government, which has naturally suggested itself to men as they have grown into a feeling of self-reliance and a consciousness that they have some right in the decision of their own destiny in the world. It is true that suffrage peculiarly fits a people virtuous and intelligent. But there has not yet been invented any government in which a people would thrive who were ignorant and vicious.

Our foreign critics seem to regard our “American system,” by the way, as a sort of invention or patent right, upon which we are experimenting; forgetting that it is as legitimate a growth out of our circ*mstances as the English system is out of its antecedents. Our system is not the product of theorists or closet philosophers; but it was ordained in substance and inevitable from the day the first “town meeting” assembled in New England, and it was not in the power of Hamilton or any one else to make it otherwise.

So you must have education, now you have the ballot, say the critics of this era of progress; and this is another of your cheap inventions. Not that we undervalue book knowledge. Oh, no! but it really seems to us that a good trade, with the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments back of it, would be the best thing for most of you. You must work for a living anyway; and why, now, should you unsettle your minds?

This is such an astounding view of human life and destiny that I do not know what to say to it. Did it occur to Mr. Froude to ask the man whether he would be contented with a good trade and the Ten Commandments? Perhaps the man would like eleven commandments? And, if he gets hold of the eleventh, he may want to know something more about his fellow-men, a little geography maybe, and some of Mr. Froude's history, and thus he may be led off into literature, and the Lord knows where.

The inference is that education—book fashion—will unfit the man for useful work. Mr. Froude here again stops at a half-truth. As a general thing, intelligence is useful in any position a man occupies. But it is true that there is a superficial and misdirected sort of education, so called, which makes the man who receives it despise labor; and it is also true that in the present educational revival there has been a neglect of training in the direction of skilled labor, and we all suffer more or less from cheap and dishonest work. But the way out of this, again, is forward, and not backward. It is a good sign, and not a stigma upon this era of progress, that people desire education. But this education must be of the whole man; he must be taught to work as well as to read, and he is, indeed, poorly educated if he is not fitted to do his work in the world. We certainly shall not have better workmen by having ignorant workmen. I need not say that the real education is that which will best fit a man for performing well his duties in life. If Mr. Froude, instead of his plaint over the scarcity of good mechanics, and of the Ten Commandments in England, had recommended the establishment of industrial schools, he would have spoken more to the purpose.

I should say that the fashionable skepticism of today, here and in England, is in regard to universal suffrage and the capacity of the people to govern themselves. The whole system is the sharp invention of Thomas Jefferson and others, by which crafty demagogues can rule. Instead of being, as we have patriotically supposed, a real progress in human development, it is only a fetich, which is becoming rapidly a failure. Now, there is a great deal of truth in the assertion that, whatever the form of government, the ablest men, or the strongest, or the most cunning in the nation, will rule. And yet it is true that in a popular government, like this, the humblest citizen, if he is wronged or oppressed, has in his hands a readier instrument of redress than he has ever had in any form of government. And it must not be forgotten that the ballot in the hands of all is perhaps the only safeguard against the tyranny of wealth in the hands of the few. It is true that bad men can band together and be destructive; but so they can in any government. Revolution by ballot is much safer than revolution by violence; and, granting that human nature is selfish, when the whole people are the government selfishness is on the side of the government. Can you mention any class in this country whose interest it is to overturn the government? And, then, as to the wisdom of the popular decisions by the ballot in this country. Look carefully at all the Presidential elections from Washington's down, and say, in the light of history, if the popular decision has not, every time, been the best for the country. It may not have seemed so to some of us at the time, but I think it is true, and a very significant fact.

Of course, in this affirmation of belief that one hundred years of popular government in this country is a real progress for humanity, and not merely a change from the rule of the fit to the rule of the cunning, we cannot forget that men are pretty much everywhere the same, and that we have abundant reason for national humility. We are pretty well aware that ours is not an ideal state of society, and should be so, even if the English who pass by did not revile us, wagging their heads. We might differ with them about the causes of our disorders. Doubtless, extended suffrage has produced certain results. It seems, strangely enough, to have escaped the observation of our English friends that to suffrage was due the late horse disease. No one can discover any other cause for it. But there is a cause for the various phenomena of this period of shoddy, of inflated speculation, of disturbance of all values, social, moral, political, and material, quite sufficient in the light of history to account for them. It is not suffrage; it is an irredeemable paper currency. It has borne its usual fruit with us, and neither foreign nor home critics can shift the responsibility of it upon our system of government. Yes, it is true, we have contrived to fill the world with our scandals of late. I might refer to a loose commercial and political morality; to betrayals of popular trust in politics; to corruptions in legislatures and in corporations; to an abuse of power in the public press, which has hardly yet got itself adjusted to its sudden accession of enormous influence. We complain of its injustice to individuals sometimes. We might imagine that something like this would occur.

A newspaper one day says: “We are exceedingly pained to hear that the Hon. Mr. Blank, who is running for Congress in the First District, has permitted his aged grandmother to go to the town poorhouse. What renders this conduct inexplicable is the fact that Mr. Blank is a man of large fortune.”

The next day the newspaper says: “The Hon. Mr. Blank has not seen fit to deny the damaging accusation in regard to the treatment of his grandmother.”

The next day the newspaper says: “Mr. Blank is still silent. He is probably aware that he cannot afford to rest under this grave charge.”

The next day the newspaper asks: “Where's Blank? Has he fled?”

At last, goaded by these remarks, and most unfortunately for himself, Mr. Blank writes to the newspaper and most indignantly denies the charge; he never sent his grandmother to the poorhouse.

Thereupon the newspaper says: “Of course a rich man who would put his own grandmother in the poorhouse would deny it. Our informant was a gentleman of character. Mr. Blank rests the matter on his unsupported word. It is a question of veracity.”

Or, perhaps, Mr. Blank, more unfortunately for himself, begins by making an affidavit, wherein he swears that he never sent his grandmother to the poorhouse, and that, in point of fact, he has not any grandmother whatever.

The newspaper then, in language that is now classical, “goes for” Mr. Blank. It says: “Mr. Blank resorts to the common device of the rogue —the affidavit. If he had been conscious of rectitude, would he not have relied upon his simple denial?”

Now, if an extreme case like this could occur, it would be bad enough. But, in our free society, the remedy would be at hand. The constituents of Mr. Blank would elect him in triumph. The newspaper would lose public