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IBRARY 

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THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 



ANNE WARWICK 



BOOKS BY ANNE WARWICK 

COMPENSATION 

$1.30 net 

THE UNKNOWN WOMAN 

SI. 30 net 

JOHN LANE COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



020 




I'tul, nrnnd A- Vndernood 
AN AMERICAN ALLEGORY: FIVE HUNDRED FEET AB()\E HIS 
SKYSCRAPER, AND STILL CLIMBINg! 



THE MECCAS OF 
THE WORLD 

THE PLAY OF MODERN LIFE IN 

NEW YORK, PARIS, VIENNA 

MADRID AND LONDON 



BY 



i..:^\on^r\<,X^'^ 



ANNE WARWICK 

AUTHOR OF "the UNKNOWN WOMAN," "COMPENSATION," ETC. 




NEW YORK 

JOHN LANE COMPANY 

MCMXIII 



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Copyright, 1913, by 
JOHN LANE COMPANY 



C 11 



TO 
MY FATHER 



CONTENTS 





PART I 






IN REHEARSAL 






(New York) 




CHAPTEB 


PAGE 


I. 


The Cast 


3 


II. 


Convenience vs. Culture 


16 


III. 


Off Duty 


. 30 


IV. 


Miss New York, Jr. .... 


. 44. 


V. 


Matrimony & Co 

PART II 

THE CURTAIN RISES 
(Paris) 


59 


I. 


On the Great Artiste .... 


. 77 


II. 


On Her Everyday Performance 


90 


III. 


And Its Sequel 


. 107 



PART III 

THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 
(Vienna) 



I. The Playhouse 
II. The Players Who Never Grow Old 
III. The Fairy Play 



127 
130 
153 



CONTENTS 

PART IV 

THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 

(Madrid) 

CHAPTEB PAGE 

I. His Corner Apart 173 

11. His Arts and Amusements 187 

III. One of His Big Scenes 205 

IV. His Foibles and Finenesses 215 

PART V 

■ IN REVIEW 

(London) 

I. The Critics 235 

II. The Judgment ...,,.. 248 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



An American Allegory . . . .Frontispiece 

FACINa PAGE 

Afternoon Parade on Fifth Avenue . . .10 

A Patch of the Crazy Quilt . . . . .14 

" New York's Finest." . . . . .30 

American Woman Goes to War . . . .58 

The Triumphant " Third Sex " Takes Washington . G6 
Open-Air Ball on the 14th July . . .82 

L'Heure du Rendez-vous . . . . .110 

The Soul of Old Spain ..... 173 

The Queen of Spain and Prince of Asturias . .184 

Fair Enthusiasts at the Bull-Fight . . .190 

The Supreme Moment . . . . . .192 

A Typical Posture of the Spanish Dance . . 204 

The Royal Family of Spain after a Chapel Service . 210 
King Alfonso Swearing-in Recruits, April 13, 1913 . 212 
" The Restful Sweep of Parks " . . . . 235 

London: The Empire Capital .... 252 

The Great Island Site ..... 256 

Linking the New Era and the Old . . . 258 



PROLOGUE 

A play is a play in so much as it furnishes a 
fragment of actual life. Being only a fragment, 
and thus literally torn out of the mass of life, it is 
bound to be sketchy; to a certain extent even super- 
ficial. Particularly is this the case where the scene 
shifts between five places radically different in ele- 
ments and ideals. The author can only present the 
(to her) most impressive aspects of the several 
pictures, trusting to her sincerity to bridge the gaps 
her enforced brevity must create. And first she 
invites you to look at the piece in rehearsal, 



IN REHEARSAL 

(New York) 



THE CAST 

Thanks to the promoters of opera houffe we are 
accustomed as a universe to screw our eye to a single 
peep-hole in the curtain that conceals a nation, and 
innocently to accept what we see therefrom as typical 
of the entire people. Thus England is generally sup- 
posed to be inhabited by a blond youth with a top- 
hat on the back of his head, and a large boutonniere 
overwhelming his morning-coat. He carries a loud 
stick, and says "Ah," and is invariably strolling along 
Piccadilly. In France, the youth has grown into a 
bad, bold man of thirty — a houlevardier, of course — 
whose features consist of a pair of inky moustaches 
and a wicked leer. He sits at a table and drinks 
absinthe, and watches the world go by. The world is 
never by chance engaged elsewhere ; it obligingly con- 
tinues to go by. 

Spain has a rose over her ear, and listens with 
patience to a perpetual guitar; Austria forever is 
waltzing upstairs, while America is known to be 
populated by a sandy-haired person of no definite 
age or embellishments, who spends his time in the 
alternate amusements of tripling his fortune and 
ejaculating "I guess!" He has a white marble man- 



4 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

sion on Fifth Avenue, and an office in Wall Street, 
where daily he corners cotton or sugar or crude oil 
— as the fancy strikes him. And he is bounded on 
every side by sky-scrapers. 

Like most widely accepted notions, this is pictur- 
esque but untrue. The Americans of America, or at 
least the New Yorkers of New York, are not the 
handful of men cutting off coupons in mahogany 
offices "down-town"; nor the silken, sacheted women 
gHding in and out of limousines, with gold purses. 
They are the swarm of shop-keepers and "specialists," 
mechanics and small retailers, newspaper reporters 
and petty clerks, such as flood the Subways and Ele- 
vated railways of New York morning and night; 
fighting like savages for a seat. They are the army 
of tailors' and shirt-makers' and milliners' girls who 
daily pour through the cross-streets, to and from 
their sordid work; they are the palely determined 
hordes who batter at the artistic door of the city, and 
live on nothing a week. They are the vast troops 
of creatures born under a dozen different flags, whom 
the city has seduced with her golden wand, whom she 
has prostituted to her own greed, whom she will 
shortly fling away as worthless scrap — and who love 
her with a passion that is the root and fibre of their 
souls. 

So much for the actual New Yorkers, as contrasted 
with the gilded nonentity of musical comedy and best- 
selling fiction. As for New York itself, it has the 
appearance of behind the scenes at a gigantic theatre. 
Coming into the harbour is like entering the house 



IN REHEARSAL 5 

of a great lady by the back door. Jagged rows of 
match-like buildings present their blank rear walls 
to the river, or form lurid bills of advertisement for 
somebody's pork and beans; huge barns of ferry 
terminuses overlap with their galleries the narrow 
streets beneath; slim towers shoot up, giddy and 
dazzling-white, in the midst of grimy tenements and 
a hideous black network of elevated railways; the 
domes of churches and of pickle factories, the tur- 
rets of prisons and of terra cotta hotels, the electric 
signs of theatres and of cemetery companies, are 
mingled indiscriminately in a vast, hurled-together 
heap. While everywhere great piles of stone and 
steel are dizzily jutting skyward, ragged and un- 
finished. 

It is plain to be seen that here life is in prepara- 
tion — a piece in rehearsal; with the scene-shifters a 
bit scarce, or untutored in their business. One has 
the uncomfortable sensation of having been in too 
great haste to call; and so caught the haughty city 
on her moving-in day. This breeds humility in the 
visitor, and indulgence for the poor lady who is doing 
her best to set her house to rights. It is a splendid 
house, and a distinctly clever lady; and certainly in 
time they will adjust themselves to one another and 
to the world outside. For the present they loftily 
enjoy a gorgeous chaos. 

Into this the stranger is landed summarily, and 
with no pause of railway journey before he attacks 
the city. London, Paris, Madrid, may discreetly 
withdraw a hundred miles or more further from the 



6 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

impatient foreigner: New York confronts him 
brusquely on the pier. And from his peaceful cabin 
he is plunged into a vortex of hysterical reunions, 
rushing porters, lordly customs officials, newspaper 
men, express-agents, bootblacks and boys shouting 
"Tel-egraml" He has been on the dock only five 
minutes, when he realizes that the dock itself is 
unequivocally, uncompromisingly New York. 

Being New York, it has at once all the con- 
veniences and all the annoyances known to man, there 
at his elbow. One can talk by long distance telephone 
from the pier to any part of the United States; or 
one can telegraph a "day letter" or a "night letter" 
and be sure of its delivery in any section of the three- 
thousand mile continent by eight o'clock next morn- 
ing. One can check one's trunks, when they have 
passed the customs, direct to one's residence — whether 
it be Fifth Avenue, New York, or Nob Hill, San 
Francisco ; time, distance, the clumsiness of inanimate 
things, are dissipated before the eyes of the dazzled 
stranger. 

On the other hand, before even he has set foot on 
American soil, he becomes acquainted with American 
arrogance, American indifference, the fantasy of 
American democracy. The national attitude of I- 
am-as-good-as-you-are has been conveyed to him 
through the surly answers of the porter, the cheerful 
familiarity of the customs examiner, the grinning 
impudence of the express-man. These excellent pub- 
lic servants would have the foreigner know once and 
for all that he is in a land where all men are indis- 



IN REHEARSAL 7 

putably proven free and equal, every minute. The 
extremely interesting fact that all men are most 
unequal — slaves to their own potentialities — has still 
to occur to the American. He is in the stage of 
doing, not yet of thinking; therefore he finds dis- 
grace in saying "sir" to another man, but none in 
showing him rudeness. 

In a civilization like that of America, where the 
office-boy of today is the millionaire of tomorrow, 
and the millionaire of today tomorrow will be beg- 
ging a job, there cannot exist the hard and fast lines 
which in older worlds definitely fix one man as a 
gentleman, another as his servant. Under this man- 
agement of lightning changes, the most insignificant 
of the chorus nurses (and with reason) the belief 
that he may be jumped overnight into the leading 
role. There is something rather fine in the desperate 
self-confidence of every American in the ultimate 
rise of his particular star. Out of it, I believe, grows 
much of that feverish activity which the visitor to 
New York invariably records among his first im- 
pressions. One has barely arrived, and been whirled 
from the dock into the roar and rush of Twenty-third 
Street and Broadway, when he begins to realize the 
relentless energy of the place. 

The very wind sweeps along the tunnel-like 
streets, through the rows of monster buildings, with 
a speed that takes the breath. In the fiercest of the 
gale, at the intersection of the two great thorough- 
fares of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, rises the solid, 
serene bulk of the Flatiron Building — like a majestic 



8 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

Winged Victory breasting the storm. Over to the 
right, in Madison Square, MetropoHtan Tower rears 
its disdainful white loftiness; far above the dusky 
gold and browns of old Madison Square Garden; 
above the dwarfed Manhattan Club, the round Byzan- 
tine dome of the Madison Square Presbyterian 
Church. But the Flatiron itself has the proudest site 
in New York; facing, to the north, on one side the 
tangle and turmoil of Broadway — its unceasing 
whirr of business, business, business ; on the other side, 
the broad elegance and dignity of Fifth Avenue, with 
its impressive cavalcade of mounted police. While 
East and West, before this giant building, rush the 
trams and traffic of Twenty-third Street; and to the 
South lie the arches of aristocratic old Washington 
Square. 

It is as though at this converging point one 
gathers together all the outstanding threads in the 
fabric of the city, to visualize its central pattern. 
And the outstanding types of the city here are 
gathered also. One sees the ubiquitous "business- 
man," in his careful square-shouldered clothes, hurry- 
ing from bus to tram, or tearing down-town in a taxi ; 
the almost ubiquitous business-woman, trig and 
quietly self-confident, on her brisk up-town walk to 
the office; and the out-of-town woman "shopper," 
with her enormous hand-bag, and the anxious-eyed 
Hebrew "importer" (whose sign reads Maison 
Marcel) f and his stunted little errand-girl darting 
through the maze of traffic like a fish through well- 
known waters; the idle young man-about-town, im- 



IN REHEARSAL 9 

mortalized in the sock and collar advertisements of 
every surface car and Subway; and the equally idle 
young girl, in her elaborate sameness the prototype of 
the same cover of the best magazines : even in one day, 
there comes to be a strange familiarity about all these 
people. 

They are peculiar to their own special class, but 
within that class they are as like as peas in a pod. 
They have the same features, wear the same clothes 
even to a certain shade, and do the same things in 
identically the same day. With all about them shift- 
ing, progressing, alternating from hour to hour. New 
Yorkers, in themselves, remain unaltered. Or, if 
they change, they change together as one creature — 
be he millionaire or Hebrew shop-keeper, doctor of 
divinity or manager of comic opera. For, of all men 
under the sun, the New Yorker is a type; acutely 
suspicious of and instinctively opposed to anything 
independent of the type. Hence, in spite of the vast 
numbers of different peoples brought together on 
Manhattan Island, we find not a community of 
Americans growing cosmopolitan, but a community 
of cosmopolitans forced to grow New Yorkers. This, 
under the potent influence of extreme American 
adaptability, they do in a remarkably short time; the 
human potpourri who five years ago had never seen 
Manhattan, today being indistinguishable in the rep- 
resentative city mass. 

Walk out Fifth Avenue at the hour of afternoon 
parade, or along Broadway on a matinee day: the 
habitues of the two promenades differ only in degree. 



10 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

Broadway is blatant. Fifth Avenue is desperately- 
toned-down. On Broadway, voices and millinery 
are a few shades more strident, self-assertion a few 
shades more arrogant than on the less ingenuous Ave- 
nue. Otherwise, what do you find? The same over- 
animated women, the same over-languid young girls ; 
wearing the same velvets and furs and huge corsage 
bouquets, and — unhappily — the same pearl powder 
and rouge, whether they be sixteen or sixty, married 
or demoiselle. Ten years ago New York could boast 
the loveliest, naturally beautiful galaxy of young 
girls in the world; today, since the onslaught of 
French fashion and artificiality, this is no longer true. 
On the other hand, it is pitiable to see the hard painted 
lines and fixed smile of the women of the world in 
the faces of these girls of seventeen and eighteen who 
walk up and down the Avenue day after day to stare 
and be stared at with almost the boldness of a boule- 
vard trotteuse. 

Foreigners who watch them from club windows 
write enthusiastic eulogies in their praise. To me 
they seem a terrible travesty on all that youth is 
meant to be. They take their models from pictures 
of French demi-mondaines shown in ultra-daring 
race costumes, in the Sunday newspapers ; and whom 
they fondly believe to be great ladies of society. I 
had almost said that from head to foot they are 
victims of an entirely false conception of beauty and 
grace; but when it comes to their feet, they are 
genuine American, and, so, frank and attractive. 
Indeed there is no woman as daintily and appro- 



IN REHEARSAL 11 

priately shod as the American woman, whose trim 
short skirts betray this pleasant fact with every step 
she takes. 

Nowhere, however, is appearance and its detail 
more misrepresentative than in New York. Strangers 
exclaim at the opulence of the frocks and furs dis- 
played by even the average woman. They have no 
idea that the average woman lives in a two-by-four 
hall bedroom — or at best a three-room flat ; and that 
she has saved and scrimped, or more probably gone 
into debt to acquire that one indispensable good cos- 
tume. Nor could they imagine that her chief joy in 
a round of sordid days is parade in it as one of the 
luxurious throng that crowd Fifth Avenue and its 
adjacent tea-rooms from four till six every after- 
noon. 

Not only the women of Manhattan itself revel 
in this daily scene; but their neighbors from Brook- 
lyn, Staten Island, Jersey City and Newark pour in 
by the hundreds, from the underground tubes and the 
ferries that connect these places with New York. 
The whole raison d'etre of countless women and girls 
who live within an hour's distance of the city is this 
every-day excursion to their Mecca : the leisurely stroll 
up Fifth Avenue from Twenty-third Street, down 
from Fifty-ninth ; the cup of tea at one of the rococo 
hotels along the way. It is a routine of which they 
never seem to tire — a monotony always new to them. 
And the pathetic part of it is that while they all — the 
indigent "roomers," the anxious suburbanites, and 
the floating fraction of tourists from the West and 



1« THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

South — fondly imagine they are beholding the Four 
Hundred of New York society, they are simply star- 
ing at each other! 

And accepting each other naively at their clothes 
value. The woman of the hall bedroom receives the 
same appreciative glance as the woman with a bank 
account of five figures; provided that outwardly she 
has achieved the same result. The prime mania of 
New York is results — or what appear to be results. 
Every sky-scraper in itself is an exclamation-point of 
accomplishment. And the matter is not how one 
accomplishes, but how much; so that the more slug- 
gish European can feel the minutes being snatched 
and squeezed by these determined people round him 
and made to yield their very utmost before being al- 
lowed to pass into telling hours and days. 

With this goes an air of almost offensive com- 
petency — an air that is part of the garments of the 
true New Yorker; as though he and he alone can 
compass the affair towards which he Is forever hurry- 
ing. There is about him, always, the piquant insinu- 
ation that he is keeping someone waiting ; that he can. 
I have been guilty of suspecting that this attitude, 
together with his painstakingly correct clothes, con- 
stitute the chief elements in the New Yorker's game 
of "bluff." Let him wear what the ready-made tailor 
describes as "snappy" clothes, and he is at once 
respected as successful. A man may be living on one 
meal a day, but if he can contrive a prosperous 
appearance, together with the preoccupied air of 
having more business than he can attend to, he is in 



IN REHEARSAL 13 

the way of being begged to accept a position, at any 
moment. 

No one is so ready to be "bluffed" as the Ameri- 
can who spends his life "bluffing." In him are united 
the extremes of ingenuousness and shrewdness; so 
that often through pretending to be something he is 
not, he does actually come to be it. A Frenchman or 
a German or an Englishman is born a barber; he 
remains a barber and dies a barber, hke his father 
and grandfather before him. His one idea is to be 
the best barber he can be ; to excell every other barber 
in his street. The American scorns such lack of 
"push." If his father is a barber, he himself learns 
barbering only just well enough to make a living 
while he looks for a "bigger job." His mind is not 
on pleasing his clients, but on himself — five, ten, 
twenty years hence. 

He sees himself a confidential clerk, then man- 
ager's assistant, then manager of an independent 
business — soap, perhaps; he sees himself taken into 
partnership, his wife giving dinners, his children sent 
to college. And so vivid are these possibilities to him, 
reading and hearing of like histories every day in 
the newspapers and on the street, that unconsciously 
he begins to affect the manners and habits of the 
class he intends to make his own. In an astonishingly 
short time they are his own ; which means that he has 
taken the main step towards the realization of his 
dream. It is the outward and visible signs of belong- 
ing which eventually bring about that one does be- 
long; and no one is quicker to grasp this than the 



14) THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

obscure American. He has the instincts of the born 
climber. He never stops imitating until he dies; 
and by that time his son is probably governor of the 
State, and his daughter married to a title. What a 
people! As a Frenchman has put it, "il ny a que des 
phenomenes!" 

One cannot conclude an introductory sketch of 
some of their phenomena without a glance at their 
amazing architecture. The first complacent question 
of the newspaper interviewer to every foreigner is: 
"What do you think of our sky-scrapers?" And 
one is certainly compelled to do a prodigious deal of 
thinking about them, whether he will or no. For they 
are being torn down and hammered up higher, all 
over New York, till conversation to be carried on in 
the street must needs become a dialogue in monosyl- 
labic shouts; while walking, in conjunction with the 
upheavals of new Subway tunnelling, has all the 
excitements of traversing an earthquake district. 

This perpetual transition finds its motive in the 
enormous business concentrated on the small island 
of Manhattan, and the constant increase in office 
space demanded thereby. The commerce of the city 
persistently moves north, and the residents flee before 
it; leaving their fine old Knickerbocker homes to be 
converted into great department stores, publishing 
houses, but above all into the omnivorous office- 
building. The mass of these are hideous — dizzy, 
squeezed-together abortions of brick and steel — but 
here and there among the horrors are to be found 
examples of true if fantastic beauty. The Flatiron 




T'licIcriroodA- Underwood 
A PATCH OF THK CllAZY-QUlLT BROADWAY, FKOM -42d STREET 



IN REHEARSAL 15 

Building is one, the Woolworth Building (especially 
in its marvellous illumination by night) another, the 
new colonnaded offices of the Grand Central Station 
a third. Yet the general impression of New York 
architecture upon the average foreigner is of illimit- 
able confusion and ugliness. 

It is because the American in art is a Futurist. 
He so far scorns the ideal as to have done with imag- 
ination altogether; substituting for it an invention so 
titanic in audacity that to the untrained it appears 
grotesque. In place of the ideal he has set up the 
one thing greater : truth. And as truth to every man 
is different (only standard being relatively fixed) 
how can he hope for concurrence in his masterpiece? 
The sky-scraper is more than a masterpiece: it is a 
fact. A fact of violence, of grim struggle, and of 
victory ; over the earth that is too small, and the winds 
that rage in impotence, and the heavens that hereto- 
fore have been useless. It is the accomplished fact 
of man's dauntless determination to wrest from the 
elements that which he sees he needs; and as such it 
has a beauty too terrible to be described. 



II 

CONVENIENCE VS, CULTURE 

Here are the two prime motives waging war in 
the American drama of today. Time is money; 
whether for the American it is to mean anything more 
is still a question. Meanwhile every time-saving con- 
venience that can be invented is put at his disposal, 
be he labouring man or governor of a state. And, 
as we have seen in the case of the skyscraper, little or 
no heed is paid to the form of finish of the invention ; 
its beauty is its practicability for immediate and ex- 
haustive use. 

Take that most useful of all, for example: the 
hotel. An Englishman goes to a hotel when he is 
obliged to, and then chooses the quietest he can find. 
Generally it has the appearance of a private house, all 
but the discreet brass plate on the door. He rings for 
a servant to admit him; his meals are served in his 
rooms, and weeks go by without his seeing another 
guest in the house. The idea is to make the hotel in 
as far as possible duplicate the home. 

In America it is the other way round; the New 
Yorker in particular models his home after his hotel, 
and seizes every opportunity to close his own house 

16 



IN REHEARSAL 17 

and live for weeks at a time in one of the huge cara- 
vanseries that gobble up great areas of the city. "It 
is so convenient," he tells you, lounging in the gaudy 
lobby of one of these hideous terra-cotta structures. 
"No servant problem, no housekeeping worries for 
madame, and everything we want within reach of 
the telephone bell!" 

Quite true, when the pompadoured princess below- 
stairs condescends to answer it. Otherwise you may 
sit in impotent rage, ten stories up, while she finishes 
a twenty-minute conversation with her "friend" or ar- 
ranges to go to a "show" with the head barber; for 
in all this palace of marble staircases and frescoed 
ceilings, Louis Quinze suites and Russian baths there 
is not an ordinary bell in the room to call a servant. 
Everything must be ordered by telephone; and what 
boots it that there is a telegraph office, a stock ex- 
change bureau, a ladies' outfitting shop, a railroad 
agency, a notary, a pharmacist and an osteopath in 
the building — if to control these conveniences one 
must wander through miles of corridors and be shot 
up and down a dozen lifts, because the telephone girl 
refuses to answer ? 

From personal experience, I should say that the 
servant problem is quite as tormenting in hotels as in 
most other American establishments. The conde- 
scension of these worthies, when they deign to supply 
you with some simple want, is amazing. Not only in 
hotels, but in well-run private houses, they seize every 
chance for conversation, and always turn to the sub- 
ject of their own affairs — their former prosperity. 



18 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

the mere temporary necessity of their being in service, 
and their glowing prospects for the future. They in- 
sist on giving you their confidential opinion of the 
establishment in which you are a guest, and which is 
invariably far inferior to others in which they have 
been employed. They comment amiably on your gar- 
ments, if they are pleased with them, or are quite as 
ready to convey that they are not. And woe to him 
who shows resentment! He may beseech their serv- 
ice henceforth in vain. If, however, he meekly ac- 
cepts them as they are, they will graciously be pleased 
to perform for him the duties for which they are paid 
fabulous wages. 

Hotel servants constitute the aristocracy among 
"domestics," as they prefer to call themselves; just as 
hotel dwellers — of the more luxurious type — consti- 
tute a kind of aristocracy among third-rate society in 
New York. These people lead a strange, unreal sort 
of existence, living as it were in a thickly gilded, 
thickly padded vacuum, whence they issue periodi- 
cally into the hands of a retinue of hangers-on : man- 
icures, masseurs, hair-dressers, and for the men a train 
of speculators and sporting parasites. In this world, 
where there are no definite duties or responsibilities, 
there are naturally no fixed hours for anything. 
Meals occur when the caprice of the individual de- 
mands them — breakfast at one, or at three, if he likes ; 
dinner at the supper hour, or, instead of tea, a restau- 
rant is always at his elbow. With the same irrespon- 
sibility, engagements are broken or kept an hour late ; 
agreements are forfeited or forgotten altogether; 



IN REHEARSAL 19 

order of any sort is unknown, and the only activity of 
this large class of wealthy people is a hectic, unregu- 
lated striving after pleasure. 

Women especially grow into hotel fungi of this 
description, sitting about the hot, over-decorated lob- 
bies and in the huge, crowded restaurants, with noth- 
ing to do but stare and be stared at. They are a curi- 
ous by-product of the energetic, capable American 
woman in general ; and one thinks there might be sal- 
vation for them in the "housekeeping" worries they 
disdainfully repudiate. Still, it cannot be denied that 
with the serious problem of servants and the exorbitant 
prices of household commodities a home is far more 
difficult to maintain in America than in the average 
modern country. Hospitality under the present con- 
ditions presents features slightly careworn; and the 
New York hostess is apt to be more anxious than 
charming, and to end her career on the dismal veran- 
das of a sanatorium for nervous diseases. 

But society the world round has very much the 
same character. For types peculiar to a country, 
one must descend the ladder to rungs nearer the na- 
tive soil ; in New York there are the John Browns of 
Harlem, for example. No one outside America has 
heard of Harlem. Does the loyal Englishman abroad 
speak of Hammersmith? Does the Frenchman en 
voyage descant on the beauties of the BatignoUes? 
These abominations are locked within the national 
bosom ; only Hyde Park and the Champs Elysees and 
Fifth Avenue are allowed out for alien gaze. Yet 
quite as emphatic of New York struggle and achieve- 



go THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

merit as the few score millionaire palaces along the 
avenue are the tens of thousands of cramped Harlem 
fiats that overspread the northern end of the island 
from One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street to the 
Bronx. For tens of thousands of John Browns 
have daily to wage war in the deadly field of Amer- 
ican commercial competition, in order to pay the rent 
and the gas bill, and the monthly installment on the 
furniture of these miniature homes. They have not, 
however, to pay for the electric light, or the hot- water 
heating, or a dozen other comforts which are a recur- 
ring source of amazement to the foreigner in such a 
place. For twenty dollars a month, John Brown and 
his wife are furnished not only with three rooms and 
a luxurious porcelain bath in a white-tiled bathroom; 
but also the use of two lifts, the inexhaustible services 
of the janitor, a comfortable roof garden in summer, 
and an imposing entrance hall downstairs, done in 
imitation Carrara marble and imitation Cordova 
leather. With this goes a still more imposing address, 
and Mrs. John can rouse the eternal envy of the 
weary Sixth Avenue shop-girl by ordering her lemon- 
squeezer or two yards of linoleum sent to "Marie An- 
toinette Court," or "The Cornwalhs Arms." The 
shop-girl understands that Mrs. John's husband is a 
success. 

That is, that he earns in the neighborhood of a 
hundred dollars a month. With this he can afford 
to pay the household expenses, to dress himself and 
his wife a bit better than their position demands, to 
subscribe to two or three of the ten-cent magazines. 



IN REHEARSAL 21 

and to do a play on Broadway now and then. Mrs. 
John of course is a matinee fiend, and has the candy 
habit. These excesses must be provided for; also 
John's five-cent cigars and his occasional mild "spree 
with the boys." For the rest, they are a prudent 
couple; methodically religious, inordinately moral; 
banking a few dollars every month against the menac- 
ing rainy-day, and, if this has not arrived by vacation 
time in August, promptly spending the money on the 
lurid delights of Atlantic City or some other ocean 
resort. Thence they return haggard but triumphant, 
with a coat of tan laboriously acquired by wetting 
faces and arms, and then sitting for hours in the broil- 
ing sun — to impress the Tom Smiths in the flat next 
door that they have had a "perfectly grand time." 

A naive, hard-working, kindly couple, severely 
conventional in their prejudices, impressionable as 
children in their afl*ections, and with a certain persist- 
ent cleverness that shoots beyond the limitations of 
their type, and hints to them of the habits and manners 
of a finer. In them the passionate motive of self-de- 
velopment that dominates all American life has so far 
found an outlet only in demand for the conveniences 
and material comforts of the further advanced whom 
they imitate. When in the natural course of things 
they turn their eyes towards the culture of the JNIan 
Higher Up, they will obtain that, too. And mean- 
while does not Mrs. Brown have her Tennyson Club, 
and John his uniform edition of Shakespeare? 

Some New Yorkers who shudder at Harlem are 
not as lucky. I was once the guest of a lady who had 



28 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

just moved into her sumptuous new home on River- 
side Drive. My rooms, to quote the first-class hotel 
circular, were replete with every luxury ; I could turn 
on the light from seven different places ; I could make 
the chairs into couches or the couches into chairs; I 
could talk by one of the marvellous ebony and silver 
telephones to the valet or the cook, or if I pleased to 
Chicago. There was nothing mortal man could in- 
vent that had not been put in those rooms, including 
six varieties of reading-lamps, and a bed-reading- 
table that shot out and arranged itself obligingly 
when one pushed a button. 

But there was nothing to read. Apologetically, I 
sought my hostess. Would she allow me to pilfer the 
library ? For a moment the lady looked blank. Then, 
with a smile of relief, she said: "Of course! You 
want some magazines. How stupid of the servants. 
I'll have them sent to you at once; but you know we 
have no library. I think books are so ugly, don't 
you?" 

I am not hopelessly addicted to veracity, but I will 
set my hand and seal to this story; also to the fact 
that in all that palace of the superfluous there was not 
to my knowledge one book of any sort. Even the 
favourite whipped-cream novel of society was want- 
ing; but magazines of every kind and description lit- 
tered the place. The reason for this apparently in- 
explicable state of affairs is simple; time is money; 
therefore not to be expended without calculation. In 
the magazine the rushed business man, and the equally 
rushed business or society woman, has a literary 



IN REHEARSAL «3 

quick-lunch that can be swallowed in convenient bites 
at odd moments during the day. 

Is the business man dining out? He looks at the 
reviews of books he has not read on the way to his 
office in the morning; criticisms of plays he has not 
seen, on the way back at night. Half an hour of 
magazine is made thus to yield some eight hours of 
theatre and twenty-four of reading books — and his 
vis-a-vis at dinner records at next day's tea party, 
"what a well-informed man that INIr. Worriton is I 
He seems to find time for everything." 

Is the society woman "looking in" at an important 
reception? Between a fitting at her dressmaker's, 
luncheon, bridge and two teas, she catches up the last 
Review from the pocket of her limousine, and runs 
over the political notes, war news, foreign events of 
the week. Result: "that Mrs. Newrich is really a 
remarkable woman!" declares the distinguished guest 
of the reception to his hostess. "Such a breadth of 
interest, such an intelligent outlook! It is genuine 
pleasure to meet a woman who shows some acquaint- 
ance with the affairs of the day." 

And so again they hoodwink one another, each 
practicing the same deceptive game of superficial 
show; yet none suspecting any of the rest. And the 
magazine syndicates flourish and multiply. In this 
piece that is in preparation, the actors are too busy 
proving themselves capable of their parts really to 
take time to become so. To succeed with them, you 
must offer your dose in tabloids : highly concentrated 
essence of whatever it is, and always sugar-coated. 



M THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

Then they will swallow it promptly, and demand 
more. Remember, too, that what they want in the 
way of "culture" is not drama, or literature, or mu- 
sic; but excitement — of admiration, pity, the erotic 
or the sternly moral sense. Their nerves must be kept 
at a certain perpetual tension. He who overlooks this 
supreme fact, in creating for them, fails. 

There are in America today some thousands of 
men and women who have taken the one step further 
than their fellows in that they realize this, and so are 
able shrewdly to pander to the national appetites. 
The result is a continuous outpouring of novels and 
short stories, plays and hybrid songs, such as in a less 
vast and less extravagant country would ruin one an- 
other by their very multitude ; but which in the United 
States meet with an appalling success. Appalling, be- 
cause it is not a primitive, but a too exotic, fancy that 
delights in them. For his mind as for his body, the 
American demands an overheated dwelling ; when not 
plunged within the hectic details of a "best-seller," 
by way of recreation, he is apt to be immersed in the 
florid joys of a Broadway extravaganza. 

These unique American productions, made up of 
large beauty choruses, magnificent scenery, gorgeous 
costumes, elaborate fantasies of ballet and song, bear 
the same relation to actual drama that the best-sellers 
bear to literature, and are as popular. The Hippo- 
drome, with its huge stage accommodating four hun- 
dred people, and its enormous central tank for water 
spectacles, is easily first among the extravaganza 
houses of New York. Twice a day an eager audi- 



IN REHEARSAL 25 

ence, drawn from all classes of metropolitan and 
transient society, crowds the great amphitheatre to 
the doors. The performance prepared for them is 
on the order of a French revue : a combination circus 
and vaudeville, held together by a thin thread of plot 
that permits the white-flannelled youth and be- 
jewelled maiden, who have faithfully exclaimed over 
each new sensation of the piece, finally to embrace one 
another, with the novel cry of "at last!" 

Meanwhile kangaroos engage in a boxing match, 
hippoj)otami splash most of the reservoir over the 
"South Sea Girls"; the Monte Carlo Casino pre- 
sents its hoary tables as background for the "Dance 
of the Jeunesse Doree," and Maoris from New 
Zealand give an imitation of an army of tarantulas 
writhing from one side of the stage to another. The 
climax is a stupendous tableau en pyramide of foun- 
tains, marble staircases, gilded thrones, and opales- 
cent canopies ; built up, banked, and held together by 
girls of every costume and complexion. Nothing 
succeeds in New York without girls; the more there 
are, the more triumphant the success. So the Hip- 
podrome, being in every way triumphant, has moun- 
tains of them: tall girls and little girls, Spanish girls, 
Japanese girls, Hindoo girls and French girls; and 
at the very top of the peak, where the "spot" points 
its dazzling ray, the American girl, wrapped in the 
Stars and Stripes of her apotheosis. Ecco! The last 
word has been said; applause thunders to the rafters; 
the flag is unfurled, to show the maiden in the victori- 
ous garb of a Captain of the Volunteers ; and the cur- 



26 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

tain falls amid the lusty strains of the national an- 
them. Everybody goes home happy, and the box 
office nets five thousand dollars. They know the value 
of patriotism, these good Hebrews. 

This sentiment, always near the surface with 
Americans, grows deeper and more fervid as it lo- 
calizes ; leading to a curiously intense snobbism on the 
part of one section of the country towards another. 
Thus New York society sniffs at Westerners; let 
them approach the citadel ever so heavily armed with 
gold mines, they have a long siege before it surrenders 
to them. On the other hand, the same society smiles 
eagerly upon Southerners of no pocket-books at all; 
and feeds and fetes and fawns upon them, because 
they are doomed, the minute their Southern accent is 
heard, to come of "a good old family." The idea of 
a decayed aristocracy in two-hundred-year-old Amer- 
ica is not without comedy, but in the States Southern- 
ers are taken very solemnly, by themselves as by 
everyone else. 

My friend of the aesthetic antipathy to books 
(really a delightful person) is a Southerner — or was, 
before gathered into the fold of the New York Four 
Hundred. She apologized for taking me to the 
Horse Show (which she thought might amuse me, 
however), because "no one goes any more. It's all 
Middle West and commuters." For the benefit of 
those imperfect in social geography I must explain 
that Middle West is the one thing worse than West, 
and that commuters are those unfortunates without 
the sacred pale, who are forced to journey to and 



IN REHEARSAL 27 

from Manhattan by ferries or underground tubes. 
They are the butt of comic newspaper supplements, 
topical songs, and society witticisms ; also the despised 
and over-charged "out-of-town customers" of the 
haughty Fifth Avenue importer. 

For the latter (a phenomenon unique to New 
York) has her own system of snobbism, quite as elab- 
orate as that of her proudest client. They are really 
a remarkable mixture of superciliousness and abject 
servility, these Irish and Hebrew "JVIadame Celestes," 
whose thriving establishments form so conspicuous a 
part of the important avenue. As exponents of the 
vagaries of American democracy, they deserve a para- 
graph to themselves. 

Each has her rococo shop, and her retinue of man- 
nequin assistants garbed in the extreme of fashion; 
each makes her yearly or bi-yearly trip to Paris, from 
which she returns with strange and bizarre creations, 
which she assures her patrons are the "only thing" 
being worn by Parisiennes this season. Now even the 
untutored male knows that there is never an "only 
thing" favoured by the capricious and original Pari- 
sienne; but that she changes with every wind, and in 
all seasons wears everything under the sun ( including 
ankle-bracelets and Cubist hats), provided it has the 
one hall-mark: chic. 

But INIadame New York meekly accepts the Irish 
lady's dictum, and arrays herself accordingly — with 
what result of extravagant monotony we shall see 
later on. Enough for the present that she is abso- 
lutely submissive to the vulgar taste and iron decrees 



28 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

of the rubicund "Celeste" from Cork, and that the 
latter alternately condescends and grovels to her, in 
a manner amazing to the foreigner, who may be look- 
ing on. Yet on second thoughts it is quite explicable : 
after the habit of all Americans, native or natura- 
lized, "Celeste" cannot conceal that she considers her- 
self "as good as" anyone, if not a shade better than 
some. At the same time, again truly American, she 
worships the dollars madame represents (and whose 
aggregate she can quote to a decimal), and respects 
the lady in proportion. Hence her bewildering com- 
binations of "certainly, Madame — it shall be exactly 
as Madame orders," with "Oh, my dear, I wouldn't 
have that! Why, girlie, that on you with your dark 
skin would look like sky-blue on an Indian! But, 
see, dear, here's a pretty pink model" — etc., etc. 

And so it continues, unctuous deference sand- 
wiched between endearments and snubs throughout 
the entire conference of shopkeeper and customer; and 
the latter takes it all as a matter of course, though, 
if her own husband should venture to disagree with 
her on any point of judgment, she would be furious 
with him for a week. When I commented to one 
lady on these familiar blandishments and criticisms 
of shop people in New York, she said indulgently: 
"Oh, they all do it. They don't mean anything; it's 
only their way." 

Yet I have heard that same lady hotly protest 
against the wife of a Colorado silver magnate (whom 
she had known for years) daring to address her by 
her Christian name. "That vulgar Westerner!" she 



IN REHEARSAL 89 

exclaimed; "the next thing she'll be calling me dear!" 
Democracy remains democracy as long as it can- 
not possibly encroach upon the social sphere ; the mo- 
ment the boundary is passed, however, and the suc- 
cessful "climber" threatens equal footing with the 
grande dame on the other side, herself still climbing 
in England or Europe, anathema! The fact is, that 
Americans, like all other very young people, seek to 
hide their lack of assurance — social and otherwise — 
by an aggressive policy of defense which they call 
independence; but which is verily snobbism of the 
most virulent brand. From the John Browns to the 
multimillionaires with daughters who are duchesses, 
they are intent on emphasizing their own position 
and its privileges ; unconscious that if they themselves 
were sure of it so would be everyone else. 

But inevitably the actors must stumble and stam- 
mer, and insert false lines, before finally they shall 
"feel" their parts, and forge ahead to the victory of 
finished performance. 



Ill 

OFF DUTY 

When one ponders what the New Yorker in his 
leisure hours most enjoys, one answers without hesi- 
tation: feeding". The word is not elegant, but 
neither is the act, as one sees it in process at the mam- 
moth restaurants. Far heavier and more prolonged 
than mere eating and drinking is this serious cult of 
food on the part of the average Manhattanite. It 
has even led to the forming of a distinct "set," chris- 
tened by some satirical outsider: "Lobster Society." 

Here are met the moneyed plutocrat and his ex- 
uberant "lady friend," the mauve-waistcoated sport- 
ing man, the society declassee with her gorgeous jew- 
els and little air of tragedy, the expansive Hebrew 
and his chorus girl, the gauche out-of-town couple 
with their beaming smiles and last season's clothes: 
all that hazy limbo that hovers on the social boundary- 
line, but hovers futilely — and that seeks to smother its 
disappointment with elaborate feasts of over-rich 
food. 

It is amazing the thousands of these people that 
there are — New York seems to breed them faster 
than any other type ; and the hundreds of restaurants 
they support. Every hotel has its three or four huge 

■ 30 



IN REHEARSAL 31 

dining-rooms, its Palm Garden, Dutch Grill, etc.; 
but, as all these were not enough, shrewd Frenchmen 
and Germans and Viennese have dotted the city with 
cafes and hrauhausen and Little Hungaries, to say 
nothing of the alarming Egyptian and Turkish abor- 
tions that are the favourite erection of the American 
restaurateur himself. 

The typical New York feeding-place from the 
outside is a palace in terra cotta; from the inside, a 
vast galleried room or set of rooms, upheld by rose 
or ochre marble pillars, carpeted with thick red rugs, 
furnished with bright gilt chairs and heavily da- 
masked, flower-laden tables — the whole interspersed 
and overtopped and surrounded by a jumble of foun- 
tains, gilt-and-onyx Sphinxes, caryatids, centaurs, 
bacchantes, and heaven knows what else of the super- 
fluous and disassociated. To reach one's table, one 
must thread one's way through a maze of lions couch- 
ant, peacocks with spread mother o' pearl tails, and 
opalescent dragons that turn out to be lights : proud 
detail of the "million dollar decorative scheme" re- 
ferred to in the advertisements of the house. Finally 
anchored in this sea of sumptuousness, one is con- 
fronted with the dire necessity of ordering a meal 
from a menu that would have staggered Epicurus. 

There is the table d'hote of nine courses — any one 
of them a meal in itself; or there is the bewildering 
carte du jour, from which to choose strawberries in 
December, oranges in May, or whatever collection of 
ruinous exotics one pleases. The New Yorker him- 
self goes methodically down the list, from oysters to 



32 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

iced pudding; impartial in his recognition of the 
merits of lobster bisque, sole au g?'atin, creamed 
sweetbreads, porterhouse steak, broiled partridge and 
Russian salad. He sits down to this orgy about seven 
o'clock, and rises — or is assisted to rise — about ten or 
half past, unless he is going on to a play, in which 
case he disposes of his nine courses with the same 
lightning execution displayed at his quick-lunch, 
only increasing his drink supply to facihtate the 
process. 

Meanwhile there is the "Neaj)olitan Quartet," 
and the Hungarian Rhapsodist, and the lady in the 
pink satin blouse who sings "The Rosary," to amuse 
our up-to-date Nero. I wonder what the Romans 
would make of the modern cabaret? Like so many 
French importations, stripped in transit of their sav- 
ing coat of French esprit, the cabaret in American be- 
comes helplessly vulgar. Extreme youth cannot carry 
off the risque, which requires the salt of worldly wis- 
dom ; it only succeeds in being rowdy. And the noisy 
songs, the loud jokes, the blatant dances — all the 
spurious clap-trap which in these New York feeding- 
resorts passes for amusement — point to the most 
youthful sort of rowdyism: to a popular discrimina- 
tion still in embryo. But the New Yorker dotes on 
it — the cabaret, I mean; if for no other reason, be- 
cause it satisfies his passion for getting his money's 
worth. He is ready to pay a handsome price, but he 
demands handsome return, and no "extras" if you 
please. 

When the ten-cent charge for bread and butter 



IN REHEARSAL 33 

was inaugurated by New York restaurateurs last 
Spring, their patrons were furious; it hinted of the 
parsimonious European charge for "cover." But if 
the short-sighted proprietors had quietly added five 
cents to the price of each article on the menu, it would 
have passed unnoticed: it is not paying that the 
American minds, it is "being done." Conceal from 
him this humiliating consciousness, and he will emjity 
his pockets. Thus, at the theatre, seats are considera- 
bly higher than in European cities, but they are also 
far more comfortable; and include a program, suffi- 
cient room for one's hat and wrap, the free services 
of the usher, and as many glasses of the beloved ice- 
water as one cares to call for. People would not 
tolerate being disturbed throughout the performance 
by the incessant demands for a "petite service" and 
other supplements that persecute the Continental 
theatre-goer ; while as for being forced to leave one's 
wraj)s in a garde-robe, and to pay for the privilege of 
fighting to recover them, the independent American 
would snort at the bare idea. He insists on a maxi- 
mum amount of comfort for his money, and on pay- 
ing for it in a lump simi, either at the beginning or 
at the end. Convenience, the almighty god, ac- 
knowledges no limits to its sway. 

It was convenience that until recently made it the 
custom for the average New York play-goer to ap- 
pear at the theatre in morning dress. The tired busi- 
ness man could afford to go to the play, but had not 
the energy to change for it; so, naturally, his wife 
and daughter did not change either, and the orches- 



34 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

tra presented a commonplace aspect, made up of 
shirtwaists and high-buttoned coats. Now, however, 
following the example of society, people are begin- 
ning to break away from this unattractive austerity; 
and theatre audiences are enlivened by a sprinkling of 
light frocks and white shirts. 

We have already commented on the most popular 
type of dramatic amusement in America: the ex- 
travaganza, and musical comedy so-called; it is time 
now to mention the gradually developing legitimate 
drama, which has its able exponents in Augustus 
Thomas, Edward Sheldon, Eugene Walter, the late 
Clyde Fitch, and half a dozen others of no less in- 
sight and ability. Their plays present the stirring 
and highly dramatic scenes of American business and 
social life (using social in its original sense) ; and 
while for the foreigner many of the situations lose 
their full significance — being peculiar to America, in 
rather greater degree than French plays are peculiar 
to France, and English to England — even he must be 
impressed with the vivid realism and powerful climax 
of the best American comedies. 

The nation as a whole is vehemently opposed to 
tragedy in any form, and demands of books and plays 
alike that they invariably shall end well. Such bril- 
liant exceptions as Eugene Walter's "The Easiest 
Way" and Sheldon's "The Nigger," only prove the 
rule that the successful piece must have a "happy 
ending." High finance plays naturally an important 
part as nucleus of plots; also the marriage of work- 
ing girls with scions of the Upper Ten. But the 



IN REHEARSAL 35 

playwright has only to look into the newspapers, in 
this country of perpetual adventure, to find enough 
romance and sensation to fill every theatre in New 
York. 

It seems almost as though the people themselves 
are surfeited with the actual drama that surrounds 
them, for they are rather languid as an audience, and 
must be piqued by more and more startling "thrillers" 
before moved to enthusiasm. Even then their ap- 
plause is usually directed towards the "star," in 
whom they take far keener interest than in the play 
itself. It is interesting to follow this passionate in- 
dividualism of the nation that dominates its amuse- 
ments as well as its activities. The player, not the 
play's the thing with Americans; and on theatrical 
bills the name of the principal actor or actress is al- 
ways given the largest type, the title of the piece next 
largest ; while the author is tucked away like an after- 
thought in letters that can just be seen. 

The acute American business man, who is always 
a business man, whether financing a railroad or a 
Broadway farce, is not slow to profit by the penchant 
of the public for "big" names. By means of unlim- 
ited advertising and the right kind of notoriety, he 
builds up ordinary actors into valuable theatrical 
properties. Given a comedian of average talent, 
average good looks, and an average amount of mag- 
netism, and a clever press agent: he has a star! This 
brilliant being draws five times the salary of the lead- 
ing lady of former years (a woman star is obviously 
a shade or two more radiant than a man), and in re- 



36 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

turn has only to confide her Hfe history and beauty 
recipes to her adoring pubhc, via the current maga- 
zines. Furthermore stars are received with open arms 
by Society (which leading ladies were not), and may 
be divorced oftener than other people without injury 
— rather with distinct advantage — to their reputation. 
Each new divorce gives a fillip to the public curiosity, 
and so brings in money to the box office. 

Not only in the field of the "legitimate" is a big 
name the all-important asset of an artist. Ladies 
who have figured in murder trials, gentlemen whom 
circumstantial evidence alone has failed to prove as- 
sassins, are eagerly sought after by enterprising 
vaudeville managers, who beg them to accept the pal- 
try sum of a thousand dollars a week, for showing 
themselves to curious crowds, and delivering a ten- 
minute monologue on the deficiencies of American 
law! How or why the name has become "big" is a 
matter of only financial moment; and Americans of 
rigid respectability flock to stare at ex-criminals, 
members of the under-world temporarily in the lime- 
light, and young persons whose sole claim to distinc- 
tion hes in the glamour shed by one-time royal favour. 
Thanks to press agents and newspapers, the aifairs 
of this motley collection — as indeed of "stars" of 
every lustre — are so constantly and so intimately be- 
fore the pubhc, that one hears people of all classes 
discussing them as though they were their lifelong 
friends. 

Thus at the theatre: "Oh, no, the play isn't any- 
thing, but I come to see Laura Lee. Isn't she stun- 



IN REHEARSAL 37 

ning? You ought to see her in blue — she says herself 
blue's her colour. I don't think much of these dresses 
she's wearing tonight; she got them at Heloise's. 
Now generally she gets her things at Robert's — she 
says Robert just suits her genre" 

Again, at the restaurant : "How seedy May Mor- 
ris is looking — there she is, over by the window. You 
know she divorced her first husband because he made 
her pay the rent, and now she's leading a cat-and-dog 
life with this one because he's jealous of the man- 
ager. That's INIrs. Willy Spry who just spoke to her ; 
well, I didn't know she knew her!" 

What they do not know about celebrities of all 
sorts would be hard to teach Americans, particularly 
the women. They can tell you how many eggs Ca- 
ruso eats for breakfast, and describe to the last rose- 
bush Maude Adams' country home; their interest in 
the drama and music these people interpret trails 
along tepidly, in wake of their worship for the suc- 
cessful individual. Americans are not a musical peo- 
ple. They go to opera because it is fashionable to be 
seen there, and to concerts and recitals for the most 
part because they confer the proper aesthetic touch. 
But only a handful have any real knowledge or love 
of music, and that handful is continually crucified by 
the indifference of the rest. I can think of no more 
painful experience for a sincere music-lover than to 
attend a performance at the Metropolitan Opera ; and 
this not only because people are continually coming in 
and going out, destroying the continuity of the piece, 
but because the latter itself is carelessly executed and 



38 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

often faulty. Here again the quartet of exorbitantly 
paid stars are charged with the success of the entire 
performance; the conductor is an insignificant quan- 
tity, and the chorus goes its lackadaisical way un- 
heeded — even smiling and exchanging remarks in the 
background, with no one the wiser. From a box near 
the stage I once saw two priests in "A'ida' jocosely 
tweak one another's beards just at the moment of the 
majestic finale. Why not? The audience, if it pays 
attention to the opera at all, pays it to Cai-uso and 
Destinn and Homer — to the big name and the big 
voice ; not to petty detail such as chorus and mise-en- 
scene. 

But of course opera is the last thing for which 
people buy ten-dollar seats at the Metropolitan. The 
"Golden Horse-Shoe" is the spectacle they pay to see; 
the masterpieces of Celeste and Heldise ( as exhibited 
by Madame Millions and her intimates) rather than 
the masterpieces of Wagner or Puccini lure them 
within the great amphitheatre. And certain it is that 
the famous double tier of boxes boasts more beautiful 
women, gorgeously arrayed, than any other place of 
assembly in America. Yet as I first saw them, from 
my modest seat in the orchestra, they appeared to be 
a collection of radiant Venuses sitting in gilded bath- 
tubs : above the high box-rail, only rows of gleaming 
shoulders, marvellously dressed heads, and winking 
jewels were visible. Later, in the foyer, I discovered 
that some of them at least were more modernly at- 
tired than the lady who rose from the sea, but the first 
impression has always remained the more vivid. 



IN REHEARSAL 39 

Society — ever delicioiisly naive in airing its igno- 
rance — is heard to express some quaint criticisms at 
opera. At a performance of Tristan, I sat next a 
debutante who had the reputation of being "musical." 
In the midst of the glorious second act, she whispered 
plaintively, "I do hate it when our night falls on 
Tiistan — it's such a sad story!" 

It will be interesting to follow New York musical 
education, if the indefatigable Mr. Hammerstein suc- 
ceeds in his present proposal to offer the lighter 
French and Italian operas at popular prices. 
Hitherto music along with every other art in Amer- 
ica has been so commercialized that wealth rather than 
appreciation and true fondness has controlled it. But 
meanwhile there has developed, instinctively and irre- 
pressibly, the much disparaged ragtime. It is the pose 
among musical precieux loudly to decry any sugges- 
tion of ragtime as a national art ; yet the fact remains 
that it has grown up spontaneously as the popular 
and the only distinctly American form of musical ex- 
pression. Of course, the old shuffling clog-dances of 
the negroes were responsible for it in the beginning. 
I was visiting some Americans in Tokio when a port- 
folio of the "new music" was sent out to them (1899) , 
and I remember that it consisted entirely of cake- 
walks and "coon songs," with negro titles and pic- 
tures of negroes dancing, on the cover. But this has 
long since ceased to be characteristic of ragtime as a 
whole, which takes its inspiration from every phase of 
nervous, jDrecipitate American life. 

In the jerky, syncopated measures, one can almost 



40 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

hear between beats the famihar rush of feet, hurry- 
ing along — stumbHng — halting abruptly — only to fly 
ahead faster. Ragtime is the pell-mell, helter-skelter, 
headlong spirit of America expressed in tune ; and no 
other people, however charmed by its peculiar fascina- 
tion and wild swing, can play or dance to it like 
Americans. It is instinctive with them ; where classi- 
cal music, so called, is a laboriously acquired taste. 

New Yorkers in particular take their artistic hob- 
bies very seriously; not only music and the conven- 
tional arts, but all those occult and mystic ofF-shoots 
that abound wherever there are idle people. To as- 
suage the ennui that dogs excessive wealth, they de- 
vote themselves to all sorts of cults and intricate be- 
liefs. Swamis, crj^stal-gazers, astrologers, mind- 
readers, and Messiahs of every kind and colour reap 
a luxurious harvest in New York. Women especially 
have a new creed for every month in the year; and 
discuss "the aura," and "the submerged self," and 
the "spiritual significance of colour," with j)rofound 
solemnity. On being presented to a lady, you are apt 
to be asked your birth date, the number of letters in 
your Christian name, your favourite hue, and other 
momentous questions that must be cleared away be- 
fore acquaintance can proceed, or even begin at all. 

"John?" cries the lady. "I knew you were a John, 
the minute I saw you! Now, what do you think I 
am?" 

You are sure to say a "^label" where she is an 
"Edith," or a Gladys where she is a Helen, or to com- 
mit some other blunder which takes the better part 



IN REHEARSAL 41 

of an hour to be explained to you. Week-end parties 
are perfect hot-beds of occultism, each guest striving 
to out-argue every other in the race to gain proselytes 
for his rehgion of the moment. 

The American house-party on the whole is a much 
more serious affair than its original English model. 
The anxious American hostess never quite gains that 
casual, easy manner of putting her house at the dis- 
posal of her guests, and then forgetting it and them. 
She must be always "entertaining," than which there 
is no more dreary persecution for the long-suffering 
visitor. Except for this, her hospitality is delightful ; 
and it is a joy to leave the dust and roar of New 
York, and motor out to one of the many charming 
country houses on Long Island or up the Hudson 
for a peaceful week-end. Americans show great good 
sense in clinging to their native Colonial architecture, 
which lends itself admirably to the simple, well-kept 
lawns and old-fashioned gardens. In comparison 
wath country estates of the old world, one misses the 
dignity of ancient stone and trees ; but gains the airy 
openness and many luxuries of modern comfort. 

As for country life in general, it is further ad- 
vanced than on the Continent, but not so far ad- 
vanced as in England. Americans, being a young 
people, are naturally an informal people, however 
they may rig themselves out when they are on show. 
They love informal clothes, and customs, and the 
happy-go-lucky freedom of out-of-doors. On the 
other hand, they are not a sporting people, except by 
individuals. They are athletes rather than sports- 



42 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

men; the passion for individual prowess being very 
strong, the devotion to sport for sport's sake much 
less in evidence. The spirit of competition is as keen 
in the athletic field as it is in Wall Street ; and at the 
intercollegiate games enthusiasm is always centred on 
the particular hero of each side, rather than on the 
play of the team as a whole. The American in gen- 
eral distinguishes himself in the "individual" rather 
than the team sports — in running, swimming, skat- 
ing, and tennis ; all of which display to fine advantage 
his wiry, lean agility. 

At the same time, there is nothing more typically 
American or more inspiring to watch than one of the 
great collegiate team games, when thirty thousand 
spectators are massed round the field, breathlessly in- 
tent on every detail. Even in an immense city like 
New York, on the day of a big game, one feels a pe- 
culiar excitement in the air. The hotels are full of 
eager boys with sweaters, through the streets dash 
gaily decorated motors, and the stations are crowded 
with fathers, mothers, sisters and sweethearts on their 
way to cheer their particular hopeful. For once, too, 
the harassed man of aff*airs throws business to the 
four winds, remembers only that he is an "old grad" 
of Harvard or Princeton or Yale, and hurries off to 
cheer for his Alma Mater. 

Then at the field there are the two vast semicircles 
of challenging colours, the advance "rooting" — the 
songs, yells, ringing of bells and tooting of horns — 
that grows to positive frenzy as the two contesting 
teams come in and take their places. And, as the 



IN REHEARSAL 43 

game proceeds, the still more fervent shouts — mid- 
dle-aged men standing up on their seats and bawling 
three-times-threes, young girls laughing, crying, split- 
ting their gloves in madness of applause, small boys 
screeching encouragement to "our side," withering 
taunts to the opponents ; and then all at once a deathly 
hush — in such a huge congregation twice as impres- 
sive as all their noise — while a goal is made or a home 
base run. And the enthusiasm breaks forth more 
furious than ever. 

We are a long way now from the stodgy, dull- 
eyed diner-out, in his murky lair ; now, we are looking 
on at youth at its best — its most eager and uncon- 
scious ; in which guise Americans in their vivid charm 
are irresistible. 



IV 

MISS NEW YORK, JR. 

There is no woman in modern times of whom so 
much has been written, so little said, as of the Amer- 
ican woman. Essayists have echoed one another in 
pronouncing her the handsomest, the best dressed, the 
most virtuous, and altogether the most attractive 
woman the world round. Psychologists have let her 
carefully alone; she is not a simple problem to ex- 
pound. She is, however, a most interesting one, and 
I have not the courage to slight her with the usual 
cursory remarks on eyes, hair, and figure. She de- 
serves a second and more searching glance. 

To her own countrymen she is a goddess on a 
pedestal that never totters; to the foreigner she is a 
pretty, restless, thoroughly selfish female, who roams 
the earth at scandalous liberty, while her husband sits 
at home and posts checks. Naturally, the truth — if 
one can get at truth regarding such a complex crea- 
ture — falls between these two conceptions : the Amer- 
ican woman is a splendid, faulty human being, in 
whom the extremes of human weakness and nobility 
seem surely to have met. She is the product of the 
extreme Western philosophy of absolute individual- 

44 



IN REHEARSAL 45 

ism, and as such is constituted a law unto herself, 
which she defies the world to gainsay. At the same 
time she knows herself so little that she changes and 
contradicts this law constantly, thus bewildering those 
who are trying to understand it and her. 

For example, we are convinced of her independ- 
ence. We go with her to the milliner's. She wants 
a hat with plumes. "Oh, but, my dear" says the sales- 
lady reprovingly, "they aren't wearing plumes this 
season — they aren't wearing them at all. Everybody 
is having Paradise feathers." Madame New York 
instantly declares that in that case she must have 
Paradise feathers, too, and is thoroughly content 
when the same are added to the nine hundred and 
ninety-nine other feathers that flutter out the avenue 
next afternoon. Plumes may be far more becoming 
to her ; in her heart she may secretly regret them ; but 
she must have what everyone else has. She has not 
the independence to break away from the herd. 

And so it is with all her costume, her coiffure, the 
very bag on her wrist and brooch at her throat : every 
detail must be that detail of the type. She neither 
dares nor knows how to be different. But, within the 
stronghold of the type, she dares anything. Are 
"they" wearing narrow skirts? Every New York 
woman challenges every other, with her frock three 
inches tighter than the last lady's. Are they slashing 
skirts to the ankle in Paris? JNIadame New York 
slashes hers to the shoe-tops, alwaj^s provided she has 
the concurrence of "those" of INIanhattan. Once se- 
cured by the sanctioix of the mass, her instinct for ex- 



46 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

aggeration is unleashed; her perverse imagination 
shakes off its chronic torpor, and soars to flights of 
fearful and wonderful audacity. 

Even then, however, she originates no fantasy of 
her own, but simply elaborates and enlarges upon 
the primary copy. Her impulse is not to think and 
create, but to observe and assimilate. It would never 
occur to her to study the lines of her head and ar- 
range her hair accordingly ; rather she studies the head 
of her next-door neighbour, and promptly duplicates 
it — generally with distinct improvement over the 
original. True to her race, she has a genius for imi- 
tation that will not be subdued. But she is not an 
artist. 

For this reason, the American woman bores us 
with her vanity, where the Englishwoman rouses our 
tenderness, and the Frenchwoman piques and allures. 
There is an appealing clumsiness in the way the Eng- 
lishwoman goes about adding her little touches of 
feminine adornment ; the badlj/ tied bow, the awkward 
bit of lace, making their deprecating bid for favour. 
The Frenchwoman, with her seductive devices of al- 
ternate concealment and daring displays, lays constant 
emphasis on the two outstanding charms of all femi- 
ninity : mystery and change. But when we come to the 
American woman we are confronted with that most 
depressing of personalities, the stereotyped. She has 
made of herself a mannequin for the exposition of 
expensive clothes, costly jewels, and a mass of futile 
accessories that neither in themselves nor as pointers 
to an individuality signify anything whatsoever. This 



IN REHEARSAL 47 

figure of set elegance she has overlaid with a deter- 
mined animation that is never allowed to flag, but 
keeps the puppet in an incessant state of laughing, 
smiling, chattering — motion of one sort or another — 
till we long for the machinery to run down, and the 
show to be ended. 

But this never occurs, except when the entire 
elaborate mechanism falls to j^ieces with a crash ; and 
the woman becomes that wretched, sexless thing — a 
nervous wreck. Till then, to use her own favourite 
expression, "she will go till she drops," and the on- 
looker is forced to watch her in the unattractive 
process. 

Of course the motive of this excessive activity on 
the part of American men and women alike is the 
passionate wish to appear young. As in the extreme 
East age is worshipped, here in the extreme West 
youth constitutes a religion, of which j^oung women 
are the high priestesses. Far from moving steadily 
on to a climax in ripe maturity, life for the American 
girl reaches its dazzling apex when she is eighteen or 
twenty; this, she is constantly told by parents, teach- 
ers and friends, is the golden period of her existence. 
She is urged to make the most of every precious min- 
ute ; and everything and everybody must be sacrificed 
in helping her to do it. 

As a matter of course, she is given the most com- 
fortable room in the house, the prettiest clothes, the 
best seat at the theatre. As a matter of course, she 
accepts them. Why should it occur to her to defer 
to age, when age anxiously and at every turn defers 



48 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

to her? Oneself as the pivot of existence is far more 
interesting than any other creature; and it is all so 
brief. Soon will come marriage, with its tiresome re- 
sponsibilities, its liberty curtailed, and children, the 
forerunners of awful middle age. Laugh, dance, 
and amuse yourself today is the eternal warning in 
the ears of the American girl ; for tomorrow you will 
be on the shelf, and another generation will have come 
into your kingdom. 

The young lady is not slow to hear the call — or to 
follow it. With feverish haste, she seizes her preroga- 
tive of queen of the moment, and demands the satis- 
faction of her every caprice. Her tastes and desires 
regulate the diversion and education of the com- 
munity. What she favours succeeds; what she 
frowns on fails. A famous American actress told 
me that she traced her fortune to her popularity with 
young girls. "I never snub them," she said; "when 
they write me silly letters, I answer them. I guard 
my reputation to the point of prudishness, so that I 
may meet them socially, and invite them to my home. 
They are th© talisman of my career. It matters little 
what I play — if the young girls like me, I have a 
success." 

The wise theatrical manager, however, is differ- 
ently minded. He, too, has his harvests to reap from 
the approval of Miss New York, Jr., and arranges 
his program accordingly. Thus the American play- 
goer is treated to a series of musical comedies, full of 
smart slang scrappily composed round a hybrid 
waltz; so-called "society plays," stocked with sumptu- 



IN REHEARSAL 49 

ous clothes, manj^ servants, and shallow dialogue ; un- 
recognizable "adapted" pieces, expurgated not only 
of the risque, but of all wit and local atmosphere as 
well; and finally the magnificently vacuous extrava- 
ganza: this syrup and mush is regularly served to 
the theatre-going public, and labelled "drama"! Yet 
thousands of grown men and women meekly swallow 
it — even come to prefer it — because Madeinoiselle 
Miss so decrees. 

She also is originally responsible for the multi- 
tude of "society novels," vapid short stories, and pro- 
fusely illustrated gift books, which make up the liter- 
ature of modern America. On her altar is the vulgar 
"Girl Calendar," the still more vulgar poster; flaunt- 
ing her self-conscious prettiness from every shop win- 
dow, every subway and elevated book-stall. She is 
displayed to us with dogs, with cats, in the country, 
in town, getting into motors, getting out of boats, 
driving a four-in-hand, or again a vacuum cleaner — 
for she is indispensable to the advertising agent. Her 
fixed good looks and studied poses have invaded the 
Continent; and even in Spain, in the sleepy old town 
of Toledo, among the grave prints of Velasquez and 
Ribera, I came across the familiar pert silhouette with 
its worshipping-male counterpart, and read the fa- 
miliar title: "At the Opera." 

From all this superficial self-importance, whether 
of her own or her elders' making, one might easily 
write the American girl down as a vain, empty-headed 
nonentity, not worth thoughtful consideration. On 
the contrary, she decidedly is worth it. Behind her 



50 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

arrogance and foolish affectations is a mind alert to 
stimulus, a heart generous and warm to respond, a 
spirit brave and resourceful. It takes adversity to 
prove the true quality of this girl, for then her arro- 
gance becomes high determination; her absurdities 
fall from her, like the cheap cloak they are, and she 
takes her natural place in the world as a courageous, 
clear-sighted woman. 

I believe that among the working girls is to be 
found the finest and most distinct type of American 
woman. This sounds a sweeping statement, and one 
difficult to substantiate; but let us examine it. 
Whence are the working girls of New York re- 
cruited ? From the families of immigrants, you guess 
at once. Only a very small fraction. The great ma- 
jority come from American homes, in the North, 
South, or Middle West, where the fathers have failed 
in business, or died, or in some other way left the 
daughters to provide for themselves. 

The first impulse, on the part of the latter, is to 
go to New York. If you are going to hang your- 
self, choose a big tree, says the Talmud; and Amer- 
icans have written it into their copy-books forever. 
Whether they are to succeed or fail, they wish to do 
it in the biggest place, on the biggest scale they can 
achieve. The girl who has to earn her living, there- 
fore, establishes herself in New York. And then be- 
gins the struggle that is the same for women the 
world over, but which the American girl meets with 
a sturdiness and obstinate ambition all her own. 

She may have been the pampered darling of a 



IN REHEARSAL 61 

mansion with ten servants; stoutly now she takes up 
her abode in a "third floor back," and becomes her 
own laundress. For it is part of all the contradictions 
of which she is the unit that, while the most reck- 
lessly extravagant, she is also, when occasion de- 
mands, the most practical and saving of women. Her 
scant six or seven dollars a week are carefully por- 
tioned out to yield the utmost value on every penny. 
She walks to and from her work, thus saving ten 
cents and doing benefit to her complexion at the same 
time in the tingling New York air. In the shop or 
office she is quiet, competent, marvellously quick to 
seize and assimilate the details of a business which 
two months ago she had never heard of. Without 
apparent effort, she soon makes herself invaluable, 
and then comes the thrilling event of her first "raise." 
I am talking always of the American girl of good 
parentage and refinement, wlio is the average New 
York business girl; not of the gum-chewing, haughty 
misses of stupendous pompadour and impertinence, 
who condescend to wait on one in the cheaper shops. 
The average girl is sinned against rather than sin- 
ning, in the matter of impudence. Often of remark- 
able prettiness, and always of neat and attractive ap- 
pearance, she has not only the usual masculine ad- 
vances to contend with, but also the liberties of that 
inter-sex freedom peculiar to America. The Eng- 
lishman or the European never outgrows his first 
rude sense of shock at the promiscuous contact be- 
tween men and women, not only allowed, but taken as 
a matter of course in the new country. To see an 



5^ THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

employe, passing" through a shop, touch a girl's hand 
or pat her on the shoulder, while delivering some mes- 
sage or order, scandalizes the foreigner only less than 
the girl's nonchalant acceptance of the familiarity. 

But among these people there is none of the sex 
consciousness that pervades older civilizations. Boys 
and girls, instead of being strictly segregated from 
childhood, are brought up together in frank intimacy. 
Whether the result is more or less desirable, in the 
young man and young woman, the fact remains that 
the latter are quite without that sex sensitiveness 
which would make their mutual attitude impossible in 
any other country. If the girl in the shop resents the 
touch of the young employe, it is not because it is a 
man's touch, but because it is (as she considers) the 
touch of an inferior. I know this to be true, from 
having watched young people in all classes of Amer- 
ican society, and having observed the unvarying in- 
difference with which these caresses are bestowed and 
received. Indeed it is slanderous to call them ca- 
resses ; rather are they the playful motions of a lot of 
young puppies or kittens. 

The American girl therefore is committing no 
breach of dignity when she allows herself to be 
touched by men who are her equals. But I have no- 
ticed time and again that the moment those trifling 
attentions take on the merest hint of the serious, she 
is on guard — and formidable. Having* been trained 
all her life to take care of herself (and in this she is 
truly and admirably independent), without fuss or 
unnecessary words she proceeds to put her knowledge 



IN REHEARSAL 53 

to practical demonstration. The following conversa- 
tion, heard in an upper Avenue shop, is typical : 

"Morning, Miss Dale. Say, but you're looking 
some swell today — that waist's a peach ! ( The young 
floor-walker lays an insinuating hand on Miss Dale's 
sleeve.) How'd you like to take in a show tonight?" 

"Thank you, I'm busy tonight." 

"Well, then, tomorrow?" 

"I'm busy tomorrow night, too." 

"Oh, all right, make it Friday — any night you 
say." 

Miss Dale leaves the gloves she has been sorting, 
to face the floor-walker squarely across the counter. 
"Look here, Mr. Barnes ; since you can't take a hint, 
I'll give it you straight from the shoulder: you're not 
my kind, and I'm not yours. And the sooner that's 
understood between us, the better for both. Good 
morning." 

Here is none of the hesitating reserve of the Eng- 
lish or French woman under the same circumstances, 
but a frank, downright declaration of fact ; infinitely 
more convincing than the usual stumbling feminine 
excuses. It may be added that, while the American 
girl in a shop is generally a fine type of creature, the 
American man in a shop is generally inferior. Other- 
wise he would "get out and hustle for a bigger job." 
His feminine colleagues realize this, and are apt to 
despise him in consequence. Certainly there is little 
of any over-intimacy between shop men and girls; 
and the demorahzing English system of "living-in" 
does not exist. 



54 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

But there is a deeper reason for the general moral- 
ity of the American working girl: her high opinion 
of herself. This passion (for it is really that), which 
in the girl of idle wealth shows itself in cold selfish- 
ness and meaningless adornment, in her self-depend- 
ent sister reaches the point of an ideal. When the 
American girl goes into business, it is not as a make- 
shift until she shall marry, or until something else 
turns up; it is because she has confidence in herself 
to make her own life, and to make it a success. The 
faint heart and self-mistrust which work the undo- 
ing of girls of this class in other nations have no 
place in the character of Miss America. Resolutely 
she fixes her goal, and nothing can stop her till she 
has attained it. Failure, disappointment, rebuff only 
seem to steel her purpose stronger; and, if the worst 
comes to worst, nine times out of ten she will die 
rather than acknowledge herself beaten by surren- 
dering to a man. 

But she dies hard, and has generally compassed 
her purpose long since. It may be confined to ris- 
ing from "notions" to "imported models" in a single 
shop ; or it may be running the gamut from office girl 
to head manager of an important business. No mat- 
ter how ambitious her aspiration, or the seeming im- 
possibility of it, the American girl is very apt to get 
what she wants in the end. She has the three great 
assets for success: pluck, self-confidence, and keen 
wits; and they carry her often far beyond her most 
daring dreams of attainment. 

My friend, Cynthia Brand, is an example. She 



IN REHEARSAL 55 

came to New York when she was twenty-two, with 
thirty dollars and an Idea. The idea was to design 
clothes for young girls between the ages of twelve 
and twenty; clothes that should be at once simple 
and distinguished, and many miles removed from 
the rigid commonplaceness of the "Misses' Depart- 
ment." All very well, but where was the shop, the 
capital, the clientele? In the tip of Cynthia's pencil. 

She had two or three dozen sketches and one good 
tailored frock. Every American woman who is suc- 
cessful begins with a good tailored frock. Cynthia 
put hers on, took her sketches under her arm, and 
went to the best dressmaking establishment in New 
York. That is another characteristic of American 
self -appreciation: they always go straight to the best. 
The haughty forewoman was bored at first, but when 
she had languidly inspected a few of Cynthia's 
sketches she was roused to interest if not enthusiasm. 
Two days later, Cynthia took her position as "de- 
signer for jeunne filles" at L 's, at a salary which 

even for New York was considerable. 

Hence the capital. The clientele developed in- 
evitably, and was soon excuse in itself for the girl to 
start a place of her own. At the end of her third 
year in New York, she saw her dream of independ- 
ence realized in a chic little shop marked Brand; at 
the end of her fifth the shop had evolved into an es- 
tablishment of three stories. And ten years after the 
girl with her thirty dollars arrived at an East Side 
boarding-house, she put up a sky-scraper — at any 
rate an eleven-story building — of her own; while the 



56 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

hall bedroom at the boarding-house is become a beau- 
tiful apartment on Central Park West. And mean- 
while someone made the discovery that Cynthia Brand 
was one of the Brands of Richmond, and Society 
took her up. Today she is a personage, as well as one 
of the keenest business women, in New York. 

Marvellous, but a unique experience, you say. 
Unique only in degree of success, not in the fact it- 
self. There are hundreds, even thousands, of Cyn- 
thia Brands plying their prosperous trades in the 
American commercial capital. As photographers, 
decorators, restaurant and tea-room proprietors, jew- 
ellers, florists, and specialists of every kind, these en- 
terprising women are calmly proving that the home 
is by no means their only sphere; that in the realm 
of economics at least they are the equals both in en- 
ergy and intelligence of their comrade man. 

It is interesting to contrast this strongly femi- 
nist attitude of the American woman with the suf- 
fragism of her militant British sister. No two 
methods of obtaining the same result could be more 
different. Years ago the American woman emanci- 
pated herself, without ostentation or outcry, by 
quietly taking her place in the commonwealth as a 
bread-winner. Voluntarily she stepped down from 
the pedestal (to which, however, her sentimental con- 
frere promptly re-raised her), and set about claiming 
her share in the business of life. To disregard her 
now would be futile. She is too important; she has 
made herself too vital a factor in economic activity 
to be disregarded when it comes to civic matters. 



IN REHEARSAL 67 

And so, while Englishwomen less progressive in 
the true sense of the word have been window-smash- 
ing and setting fires, the "rights" they so ardently de- 
sire have been tranquilly and naturally acquired by 
their shrewder American cousins. Fifteen of the 
forty-odd States now have universal suffrage ; almost 
every State has suffrage in some form. And it will 
be a very short time — perhaps ten years, perhaps fif- 
teen — until all of the great continent will come under 
the equal rule of men and women alike. 

I had the interesting privilege of witnessing the 
mammoth Suffrage Parade in New York, just be- 
fore the presidential election last fall. In more than 
one way, it was a revelation. After the jeering, hoot- 
ing mob at the demonstrations in Hyde Park, this ab- 
sorbed, respectful crowd that lined both sides of Fifth 
Avenue was even more impressive than the procession 
of women itself. But seeing the latter as they 
marched past twenty thousand strong gave the key 
to the enthusiasm of the crowd. A fresh-faced, well- 
dressed, composed company of women ; women of all 
ages — college girls, young matrons, middle-aged 
mothers with their daughters, elderly ladies and even 
dowagers, white-haired and hearty, made up the in- 
spiring throng. They greeted the cheers of the spec- 
tators smilingly, yet with dignity; their own cheers 
no less ardent for being orderly and restrained; and 
about their whole bearing was a sanity and good 
sense, joined to a thoroughly feminine wish to please, 
which gave away the secret of their popularity. 

It was the American woman at her best, which 



58 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

means the American woman with a steady, splendid 
purpose which she intends to accompHsh, and in which 
she enlists not only the support but the sympathy of 
her fellow-men. With her own unique cleverness she 
goes about it. President-elect Wilson stole into 
Washington the day before his inauguration, almost 
unnoticed, because everyone was off to welcome "Gen- 
eral" Rosalie Jones and her company of petitioners: 
instead of kidnapping the President (as her English 
sisters would have planned) , the astute young woman 
kidnapped the people; winning them entirely by her 
sturdy good humour and daring combined, and refus- 
ing to part with a jot of her femininity in the process. 
If I have seemed to contradict myself in this brief 
analysis of so complex and interesting a character as 
the American woman, I can only go back to my first 
statement that she herself is a contradiction — only 
definite within her individual type. The type of the 
mere woman of pleasure, which implies the woman 
of wealth, I confess to finding the extreme of vapid- 
ity and selfishness, as Americans are always the ex- 
treme of something. This is the type the foreigner 
knows by heart, and despises. But the American 
woman of intelligence, the woman of clear vision, fine 
aim, and splendid accomplishment, he does not know ; 
for she is at home, earning her living. 




Z'ndirunod A Undtnioud 
AMERICAN WOMAN GOES TO WAr! 
(march of the suffragists on WASHINGTON) 



MATRIMONY & CO. 

Of all the acts which America has in solution, 
marriage is as yet the most unsatisfactory, the least 
organized. It is easy to dismiss it with a vague wave 
of the hand, and the slighting "Oh, yes — the divorce 
evil." But really to understand the problem, with all 
its complex difficulties, one must go a great deal fur- 
ther — into the thought and simple animal feeling of 
the people who harbour the divorce evil. 

Physiologically speaking, Americans are made up 
of nerves; psychologically they are made up of sen- 
timent: a volatile combination, fatal to steadiness or 
logic of expression. We have spoken of the every- 
day habit of contact among them, the trifling touch 
that passes unheeded between young men and girls, 
from childhood into maturity. This is but a single 
phase of that diif useness of sex energy, which being 
distributed through a variety of channels, with the 
American, nowhere is very profound or vital. The 
constant comradeship between the two sexes, from 
babyhood throughout all life, makes for many fine 
things; but it does not make for passion. And, as 
though dimly they realize this, Americans — both men 

59 



60 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

and women — seem desperately bent on manufactur- 
ing it. 

Hence their suggestive songs, their suggestive 
books, their crudely suggestive plays, and, above all, 
their recognized game of "teasing," in which the 
young girl uses every device for plaguing the young 
man — to lead him on, but never to lead him too far. 
Always suggestion, never realization; as a nation 
they retain the adolescent point of view to the end, 
playing with sex, which they do not understand, but 
only vaguely feel, yet about which they have the 
typically adolescent curiosity. 

So much for the physiological side. It is not hard 
to understand how under such conditions natural ani- 
mal energy is dissipated along a hundred avenues of 
mere nerve excitement and satisfaction ; so that when 
it comes to marriage the American man or woman can 
have no stored-up wealth of passion to bestow, but 
simply the usual comradeship, the usual contact in- 
tensified. This is all very well, to begin with, but it is 
too slender a bond to stand the strain of daily mar- 
ried life. Besides, there is the ingrained craving for 
novelty that has been fed and fostered by lifelong 
freedom of intercourse until it is become in itself a 
passion dangerously strong. A few misunderstand- 
ings, a serious quarrel or two, and the couple who a 
year ago swore to cleave to one another till death are 
eager to part with one another for life — and to pass 
on to something new. 

But a formidable stumbling-block confronts 
them: their ideal of marriage. Sentiment comes to 



IN REHEARSAL 61 

the front, outraged and demanding appeasement. 
American life is grounded in sentiment. The idea of 
the American man concerning the American woman, 
the idea of the woman concerning the man, is a colos- 
sus of sentiment in itself. She is all-pure, he is all- 
chivalrous. She would not smoke a cigarette (in 
public) because he would be horrified; he would not 
confess to a liason (however many it might please him 
to enjoy) , because she would perish with shame. Each 
has made it a life business to forget that the other is 
human, and to insist that both are impeccable. When, 
therefore, before the secret tribunal of matrimony, 
this illusion is condemned to death, what is to be 
done? 

Nothing that could reflect on the innocence of the 
woman, or the blamelessness of the man. In other 
words, the public ideal still must be upheld. With 
which the public firmly agrees; and, always willing 
to be hoodwinked and to hoodwink itself, makes a 
neat series of laws whereby men and women may en- 
joy unlimited license and still remain irreproachable. 
Thus the difficulty is solved, sentiment is satisfied, and 
chaos mounts the throne. 

I am always extremely interested in the American 
disgust at the Continental marriage system. Here 
the inveterate sentimentalism of the nation comes out 
most decided and clear. In the first place, they say, 
the European has no respect for women; he orders 
them about, or betrays them, with equal coolness and 
cruelty. He is mercenary to the last degree in the 
matter of the dot, but himself after marriage makes 



62 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

no effort to provide his wife with more than pin- 
money. After the honeymoon she becomes his house- 
keeper and the mother of his children ; while he spends 
her dowry on a succession of mistresses and immoral 
amusements elsewhere. 

All of which, as generalization, is true. The com- 
plementary series of facts, however, the American 
complacently ignores. He knows nothing, for in- 
stance, of the European attitude to the young girl — 
how could he ? His own sisters and daughters are pre- 
sented, even before they are in long skirts, as objects 
of intimacy and flirtation; harmless flirtation, admit- 
ted, yet scarcely the thing to produce reverence for 
the recipient. Instead she is given a free-and-easy 
consideration, which to the European is appalling. 
The latter may be a rake and a dehauclie, but he has 
one religion ingrained and unimpeachable: in the 
presence of a young girl he is before an altar. And 
throughout all European life the young girl is ac- 
corded a delicate dignity impossible to her less shel- 
tered American cousin. 

What good does that do her, asks the downright 
American, if the minute she marries she becomes a 
slave? On the contrary, she gains her liberty, where 
the American girl (in her own opinion at least) loses 
hers; but even if she did not it is a matter open to 
dispute as to which is better ofl* in any case: the 
woman who is a slave, or the woman who is master? 
For contentment and serenity, one must give the 
palm to the European. She brings her husband 
money instead of marrying him for his; she stands 



IN REHEARSAL 63 

over herself and her expenditure, rather than over 
him and his check-hook; and she tends her house and 
bears children, rather than roams the world in search 
of pleasure. Yet she is happy. 

She may be deceived by her husband; if so, she 
is deceived far without the confines of her own home. 
Within her home, as mother of her husband's chil- 
dren, she is impregnable. She may be betrayed, but 
she is never vulgarized; her affairs are not dragged 
through the divorce court, or jaunted about the col- 
umns of a yellow press. Whatever she may not be to 
the man whom she has married, she is once and for- 
ever the woman with whom he shares his name, and 
to whom he must give his unconditional respect — or 
kill her. She has so much, sure and inviolate, to 
stand on. 

The American woman has nothing sure. In a 
land where all things change with the sun, die and are 
shoved along breathlessly to make room for new, she 
is lost in the general confusion. Today she is Mrs. 
Smith, tomorrow — by her own wish, or Mr. Smith's, 
or both — she is Mrs. Jones, six months later she is 
Mrs. Somebody Else ; and the conversation, which in- 
cludes "your children," "my children," and "our chil- 
dren," is not a joke in America: it is an everyday fact 
— for the children themselves a tragedy. 

Young people grow up among such conditions 
with a flippant — even a horrible — idea of marriage. 
They look upon it, naturally, as an expedient ; some- 
thing temporarily good, to be entered upon as such, 
and without any profound thought for the future. 



64 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

"She married very well," means she married dollars, 
or position, or a title; in the person of what, it does 
not matter. If she is dissatisfied with her bargain, she 
always make an exchange, and no one will think any 
the worse of her. For, while Americans are horror- 
stricken at the idea of a woman's having a lover 
without the law, within the law she may have as many 
as she likes, and take public sympathy and approval 
along with her; so long as the farce of her 'purity is 
carried out, these sentimentalists (whom Meredith 
calls, in general, "self -worshippers" ) smile complais- 
ance. 

It is simply another light on the prevailing super- 
ficiality that controls them, for that a woman shall be 
faithful — where she has placed her affections of what- 
ever sort — they neither demand nor appear to think 
of at all. She may ruin her husband buying chiffons, 
or maintaining an establishment beyond his means, 
and not a word of blame is attached to her; on the 
contrary, when the husband goes bankrupt, it is he 
who is outcast, while everyone speaks pitifully of "his 
poor wife." The only allegiance expected of the 
woman is the mere allegiance of the body; and this 
in the American woman is no virtue, for she has little 
or no passion to tempt her to bodily sin. 

Rather, as we have seen, she is a highly nervous 
organism, demanding nerve food in the shape of sen- 
sation — constant and varied. Emotionally, she is a 
sort of psychic vampire, always athirst for victims to 
her vanity ; experience from which to gain new knowl- 
edge of herself. This is true not only of the idle 



IN REHEARSAL 65 

woman of society, but of the best and intentionally 
most sincere. They are wholly unconscious of it, they 
would indignantly refute it ; yet their very system of 
living proves it : throughout all classes the American 
woman, in the majority, is sufficient unto herself, and 
— no matter in how noble a spirit — self-absorbed. 

If she is happily married, she loves her husband; 
but why? Because he harmoniously complements the 
nature she is bent on developing. In like fashion 
she loves her children — do they not contribute a tre- 
mendous portion towards the perfect womanhood she 
ardently desires? And this is not saying that the 
finer type of American woman is not a devoted mother 
and wife ; it is giving the deep, unconscious motive of 
her devotion. 

But take the finer type that is not married, that 
remains unmarried voluntarily, and by the thousands. 
Take the Cynthia Brands, for example. Americans 
say they stay single because "they have too good a 
time," and this is literally true. Why should they 
marry when they can compass of themselves the things 
women generally marry for — secure position and a 
comfortable home? Why, except for overpowering 
love of some particular man? This the Cynthia 
Brands — i. e., women independently successful — are 
seldom apt to experience. All their energy is trained 
upon themselves and their ambition; and that is never 
satisfied, but pushes on and on, absorbing emotion — 
every sort of force in the woman — till her passion 
becomes completely subjective, and marriage has 



66 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

nothing to oiFer her save the children she wiUingly 
renounces. 

Thus there is in America almost a third sex : a sex 
of superwomen, in whom mentality triumphs to the 
sacrifice of the normal female. One cannot say that 
this side of the generally admirable "self-made" 
woman is appealing. It is rather hard, and leads one 
to speculate as to whether the victorious bachelor girl 
of to-day is on the whole more attractive or better off 
than the despised spinster of yesterday. Of course, 
she has raised and strengthened the position of 
women, economically speaking ; socially, too. But one 
cannot but think that she is after all only a partially 
finished superwoman, and that the ultimate creature 
will have more of sweetness and strong tenderness 
than one sees in the determined, rather rigid faces 
of the army of New York business women of the 
present. 

As for the New York man (whom one is forever 
slighting because his role is so inconspicuous) , we have 
a type much less complex — quite the simplest type of 
normal male, in fact. The average New Yorker 
(that is, the New Yorker of the upper middle class) 
is a hard-working, obvious soul, of obvious qualities 
and obvious flaws. His raison d'etre is to provide 
prodigally for his wife and children ; to which end he 
steals out of the house in the morning before the rest 
are awake, and returns late in the evening, hurriedly 
to dress and accompany Madame to some smart res- 
taurant and the play. 

Here, as at the opera or fashionable reception, his 



IN REHEARSAL 67 

duty is simply that of background to the elaborate 
gorgeousness and inveterate animation of his women- 
folk. Indeed, throughout all their activities the 
American husband and wife seem curiously irrelevant 
to one another : they work as a tandem, not as a team. 
And there is no question as to who goes first. The 
wife indicates the route ; the husband does his best to 
keep up to her. If he cannot do it, no matter what 
his other excellences, he is a failure. He himself is 
convinced of it, hence his tense expression of straining 
every nerve toward some gigantic end that usually he 
is just able to compass. 

The man who cannot support a woman, not in 
reasonable comfort, but in the luxury she expects, 
thinks he has no right to her. The woman has taught 
him to think it. Thus a young friend of mine, who 
on twenty-five thousand a year had been engaged to a 
charming New York girl, told me, simply, that of 
course when his income was reduced to five thousand 
he could not marry her. 

I asked what the girl thought about it. "Oh, she's 
a trump," he said enthusiastically; "she wouldn't 
throw me over because I've lost my money. But of 
course she sees it's impossible. We couldn't go the 
pace." 

From which ingenuous confession we rightly 
gather that "the pace" comes first with both husband 
and wife, in New York; the person of one another 
second, if it counts at all. Their great bond of union 
is the building up of certain material circumstances 
both covet; their home life, their friends, their in- 



68 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

stinctive and lavish hospitality — everything is regu- 
lated according to this. Instead of a peaceful even- 
ing in their own drawing-room, after the man's stren- 
uous day at the office, the woman's no less strenuous 
day at bridge and the dressmaker's, they must rush 
into evening clothes and hasten to show themselves 
where they should be seen. Other people's pleasures 
become to the American couple stern duties; to be 
feverishly followed, if it helps them in ever so little 
toward their goal. 

Thus we hear Mrs. Grey say to George: "Don't 
forget we're dining with the Fred Baynes' to-night. 
Be home early." 

"The deuce we are!" says George. "I wanted to 
go to the club. I detest Bayne, anyhow." 

"Yes, but he's President of the Security Trust. 
If you want to get their new contract, you'd best 
dine, and get him to promise you. I've already 
lunched her, so the ground's prepared." 

"Oh, very well," growls George; "of course you're 
right. I'll be on hand." 

Result : They cement a friendship with two odious 
people whom they are afterward obliged to invite ; but 
George gets the contract, and twenty thousand goes 
down to the family bank account. This spirit is by 
no means unknown in English and Continental life, 
but certainly it has its origin and prime exponents 
in America. No other people finds money sufficient 
exchange for perpetual boredom. 

The European goes where he is amused, with 
friends who interest him. He dares. The American 



IN REHEARSAL 69 

does not; having always to prove that he can afford 
to be in certain places, that he is of sufficient im- 
portance to be with certain people. America is full 
of ruinously expensive resorts that have sprung up in 
response to this craving for self-advertisement on the 
part of her "rising" sons and daughters. Squads of 
newspaper reporters go with them, and the nation is 
kept accurately informed to the minute as to what 
Mrs. Spender wore this morning at Palm Beach, Mrs. 
Haveall at Newport, Mrs. Dash at Hot Springs; 
also how many horses, motor cars, yachts and petty 
paraphernalia Charles Spender, Jimmy Haveall, and 
Henry Dash are carrying about. The credit of these 
men, together often with the credit of large business 
firms, depends on the show they can afford to make, 
and the jewels their wives wear. 

But I believe that no man has a duller life than 
the rich man — or the moderately rich man of New 
York. He is generally the victim of dyspepsia — 
from too rich food taken in too great a hurry; he is 
always the victim of the office. Not even after he has 
retired, to spend the remainder of his days in dreary 
luxury between his clubs and Continental watering 
places, does the office habit cease to torment him. 
Once and forever, it has murdered the enjoyment of 
leisure and annihilated pleasure in peace. 

Being naturally heavy-minded on all subjects ex- 
cept business, the American man with time on his 
hands is in a pitiable plight. I have met some of these 
poor gentlemen, wandering helplessly about the world 
with their major-general wives, and I must say they 



70 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

are among the most pathetic of married men. They 
hibernate in hotel lounges, smoking their enormous 
cigars and devouring their two-weeks-old New York 
newspapers ; or, when they get the chance, monologu- 
ing by the hour on their past master strokes in the 
land where "things hum." Sometimes in self-defence 
against the wife's frocks and French hats, they have 
a hobby: ivories, or old silver — something eminently 
respectable. If so, they are apt to be laborious about 
it, as they are about all culture which they graft on 
themselves, or have grafted on them. Sometimes 
they turn their attention to sport; but the real sport 
of the American, man and woman, is climbing. It is 
born in them, and they never actually give it up until 
they die. 

Meanwhile the couple who have resisted divorce 
and continued to climb together turn anxious eyes on 
the upward advance of their children. If the latter 
make a false step, mother with her trained wit must 
repair it ; father must foot the bill. No more extrava- 
gantly indulgent parent exists than the American 
parent who himself has had to make his own way. 
His children are monarchs, weightedly crowned with 
luxuries they do not appreciate; and for them he 
slaves till death or nervous prostration lays him low. 
One wonders when the nation that has lost its head 
over the American girl will awake to the discovery 
of the American father. For the present he is a 
silent, deprecatory creature, toiling unceasingly six 
days of the week, and on the seventh to be found in 
some unfrequented corner of the house, inundated by 



IN REHEARSAL 71 

newspapers, or unobtrusively building blocks in the 
nursery — where there is one. 

As a rule, American children own the house, 
monopolize the conversation at meals, which almost 
invariably they take with their elders — whether there 
are guests or not, and are generally as arrogant and 
precocious little tyrants as unlimited indulgence and 
admiration can make them. They have been allowed 
to see and read everything their parents see and read ; 
they have been taken to the theatre and about the 
world, from the time they could walk; they have, 
many of them, travelled abroad, and are ready to dis- 
cuss Paris or London with the languid nonchalance 
of little old men and women ; on the whole, these poor 
spoiled little people, through no fault of their own, 
are about as unpleasant and unnatural a type as can 
be found. 

Instead of being kept simple and unsophisticated 
they are early inculcated with the importance of 
money and the things it can buy. American boys, 
rather than vying with one another in tennis or swim- 
ming vie with one another in the number of motor cars 
they own or sail-boats or saddle-horses, as the case 
may be. They would scorn the pony that is the Eng- 
lish boy's delight, but it is true that many young 
Americans at the tender age of twelve own their own 
motors, which they drive and discuss with the hlase air 
of men of the world. In like fashion the little girls, 
from the time they can toddle, are consumed with the 
idea of outdressing one another; and even give box 
parties and luncheons — beginning, almost before they 



72 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

are out of the cradle, to imitate their mothers in am- 
bition and the consuming spirit of competition. 

Naturally, one is speaking of the children of the 
wealthy, or at least well off; among the children of 
the working classes, whatever their grade of intelli- 
gence or education, we find the same sturdy independ- 
ence and ability that characterizes their mothers and 
fathers. But all American children are sophisticated 
• — one glance at a daily newspaper is enough to make 
them so; and they live in an atmosphere of worldly 
wisdom and knowledge of the sordid, which those of 
us who believe that childhood should be ingenuous 
and gay find rather sad. The little pitchers, in this 
case, have not only big ears but eyes and wits sharp to 
perceive the sorry things they would naturally learn 
soon enough. 

They are allowed to wander, unshielded, among 
the perplexing mixed motives, the standards in dis- 
array, of this theatre where life in its myriad relations 
is still in adjustment. Like small troubled gnomes 
seeking light, they flit across the hazardous stage; 
where their more experienced leaders have yet to ex- 
tricate order out of a sea of sentimental hypocrisies, 
inflated ideals, and makeshift laws. 

American men and women have been at great 
pains to construct "a world not better than the world 
it curtains, only foolisher." They have obstinately 
refused to admit one another as they actually are — 
which, after all, is a remarkably fine race of beings; 
preferring the pretty flimsiness of a house of cards 
of their own making to the indestructible mansion of 



IN REHEARSAL 73 

humanity. When their passion for inventing shall 
be converted into an equally ardent passion for re- 
flecting — as it surely will be — they will see their mis- 
take in a trice ; and, from that time, they are destined 
to be not a collection of finely tuned nervous organ- 
isms, but a splendid race of thinking creatures. 



II 

THE CURTAIN RISES 

(Paris) 



ON THE GREAT ARTISTE 

Out of the turmoil and struggling confusion of 
rehearsal, to gaze on the finished performance of the 
great artiste! For in Paris we are before the curtain, 
not behind it; and few foreigners, though they may 
adopt the city for their own, and lovingly study it 
for many years, are granted more than an occasional 
rare glimpse of its personality without the stage be- 
tween. From that safe distance, Paris coquets with 
you, rails at you, laughs and weeps for you ; but first 
she has handed you a programme, which informs you 
that she does the same for all the world, at a certain 
hour each day, and for a fixed price. And if ever in 
the ardour of your admiration you show signs of 
forgetting, of seeking her personal favour by a rash 
gesture or smile, she points you imperiously to the 
barricade of the footlights — or vanishes completely, 
in the haughtiness of her ire. 

Therefore, the tourist will tell you, Paris is not 
satisfactory. Because to his greedy curiosity she does 
not open her soul as she does the gates of her art 
treasures and museums, he pronounces her shallow, 
mercenary, heartless, even wicked. As her frankness 

77 



78 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

in some things is foreign to his hypocrisy, as her 
complex unmorality resists his facile analysis, he 
grasps what he can of her; and goes away annoyed. 
Really to know Paris is to offer in advance a store 
of tolerance for her inconsistencies, patience for her 
whims, and the sincere desire to learn finally to see be- 
hind her mask — not to snatch it rudely from her face. 

But this cannot be done in the curt fortnight 
which generally limits the casual visitor's acquaint- 
ance. Months and years must be spent, if true 
knowledge of the City of Light is to be won. We 
can only, in our brief survey of its more significant 
phases, indicate a guide to further study of a place 
and people well worth a wider scrutiny. 

The most prejudiced will not deny that Paris is 
beautiful ; or that there is about her streets and broad, 
tree-lined avenues a graciousness at once dignified 
and gay. Stand, as the ordinary tourist does on his 
first day, in the flowering square before the Louvre ; 
in the foreground are the fountains and bright tulip- 
bordered paths of the Tuileries — here a glint of gold, 
there a soft flash of marble statuary, shining through 
the trees ; in the centre the round lake where the chil- 
dren sail their boats. Beyond spreads the wide sweep 
of the Place de la Concorde, with its obelisk of terrible 
significance, its larger fountains throwing brilliant 
jets of spray; and then the trailing, upward vista of 
the Champs Elysees to the great triumphal Arch: 
yes, even to the most indifferent, Paris is beautiful. 

To the subtler of appreciation, she is more than 
beautiful: she is impressive. For behind the studied 



THE CURTAIN RISES 79 

elegance of architecture, the elaborate simplicity of 
gardens, the carefully lavish use of sculpture and 
delicate spray, is visible the imagination of a race of 
passionate creators — the imagination, throughout, of 
the great artist. One meets it at every turn and 
corner, down dim passageways, up steep hills, across 
bridges, along sinuous quays : the masterhand and its 
"infinite capacity for taking pains." And so marvel- 
lously do its manifestations of many periods through 
many ages combine to enhance one another that 
one is convinced that the genius of Paris has been 
perennial; that St. Genevieve, her godmother, be- 
stowed it as an immortal gift when the city was born. 

From earliest days every man seems to have 
caught the spirit of the man who came before, and 
to have perpetuated it; by adding his own distinctive 
yet always harmonious contribution to the gradual 
development of the whole. One built a stately ave- 
nue; another erected a church at the end; a third 
added a garden on the other side of the church, and 
terraces leading up to it; a fourth and fifth cut 
streets that should give from the remaining two sides 
into other flowery squares with their fine edifices. 
And so from every viewpoint, and from every part 
of the entire city, today we have an unbroken series 
of vistas — each one different and more charming 
than the last. 

History has lent its hand to the process, too; and 
romance — it is not an insipid chain of flowerbeds we 
have to follow, but the holy warriors of Saint Louis, 
the roistering braves of Henry the Great, the gallant 



80 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

Bourbons, the ill-starred Bonapartes. These as they 
passed have left their monuments; it may be only in 
a crumbling old chapel or ruined tower, but there 
they are: eloquent of days that are dead, of a spirit 
that lives forever staunch in the heart of the fervent 
French people. 

It comes over one overwhelmingly sometimes, in 
the midst of the careless gaiety of the modern city: 
the old, ever-burning spirit of rebellion and savage 
strife that underlies it all ; and that can spring to the 
surface now on certain memorable days, with a ve- 
hemence that is terrifying. Look across the Pont 
Alexandre, at the serene gold dome of the Invalides, 
surrounded by its sleepy barracks. Suddenly you are 
in the fires and awful slaughter of Napoleon's wars. 
The flower of France is being pitilessly cut down for 
the lust of one man's ambition; and when that is 
spent, and the wail of the widowed country pierces 
heaven with its desolation, a costly asylum is built for 
the handful of soldiers who are left — and the great 
Emperor has done his duty ! 

Or you are walking through the Cite, past the 
court of the Palais de Justice. You glance in, care- 
lessly — memory rushes upon you — and the court 
flows with blood, "so that men waded through it, up 
to the knees !" In the tiny stone-walled room yonder, 
Marie Antoinette sits disdainfully composed before 
her keepers ; though her face is white with the sounds 
she hears, as her friends and followers are led out to 
swell that hideous river of blood. 

A pretty, artificial city, Paris ; good for shopping. 



THE CURTAIN RISES 81 

and naughty amusements, now and then. History? 
Oh yes, of course ; but all that's so dry and uninspir- 
ing, and besides it happened so long ago. 

Did it? In your stroll along the Rue Royale, 
among the jewellers' and milliners' shops and Max- 
im's, glance up at the Madeleine, down at the obelisk 
in the Place de la Concorde. Little over a hundred 
j^ears ago, this was the brief distance between life and 
death for those who one minute were dancing in the 
"Temple of Victory," the next were laying their 
heads upon the block of the guillotine. Can you see, 
beyond the shadowy grey pillars of the Temple, that 
brilliant circling throng within? The reckless-laugh- 
ing ballet girl in her shrine as "Goddess," her wor- 
shippers treading their wild measures among the 
candles and crucifixes and holy images, as though 
they are pursued? Look — a grim presence is at the 
door. He enters, lays a heavy hand upon the shoulder 
of a young and beautiful dancer. She looks into his 
face, and smiles. The music never stops, but goes 
more madly on; as the one demanded makes a low 
reverence^ then rising, throws a kiss over her shoulder 
to her comrades who in turn salute her; calls a gay 
"Adieu!" and with the smile still terrible upon her 
lips — is gone. 

Ah, but the French are different now, you say. 
Those were the aristocrats, the vieille noblesse; these 
modern Republicans are of another breed. And yet 
the same blood flows in their veins, the same scornful 
courage animates them — who, for example, leads the 
world in aviation? — and on days like the fourteenth 



82 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

of July (the anniversary of the storming of the 
Bastille), the common people at least show a patriot- 
ism no less fiery if less ferocious than they showed in 
1789. Let us see if they are so diiFerent after all. 

The first charge against the French invariably is 
that of artificiality. Anglo-Saxons admit them to be 
charming, of a delightful wit and keen intelligence; 
but, they immediately add, how deep does it go? 
Superficially, the Parisian is vastly agreeable; cour- 
teous to the point of extravagance, an accomplished 
conversationalist, even now and then with a flash of 
the profound. Probe him, and what do you find? 
A cynical, world-weary degenerate, who will laugh 
at you when your back is turned, and make love to 
your wife before your very eyes ! 

And why not? You should appreciate the com- 
pliment to your good taste. It is when he begins to 
make love behind one's back that one must beware 
of one's French friend; for he is a finished artist at 
the performance, and women know it, and are pre- 
pared in advance to be subdued. He is by no means 
a degenerate, however, the average Frenchman; he 
has to work too hard, and besides he has not the 
money degeneracy costs. He may have his "ijetite 
amie" generally he has ; but quite as generally she is 
a wholesome, well-behaved little person, — a dress- 
maker in a small way, or vendeuse in a shop — content 
to drink a bock with him in the evening, at their fa- 
vourite cafe, and on Sundays to hang on his arm dur- 
ing their excursion to St. Germain or Meudon. Just 
as a very small percentage of New Yorkers are those 



THE CURTAIN RISES 83 

who dwell in Wall Street and corner stocks, so a very- 
small percentage of Parisians are those who feed 
louis to night restaurants and carouse till morning 
with riotous demi-mondaines. 

It is a platitude that foreigners are the ones who 
support the immoral resorts of Paris; yet no for- 
eigner seems to care to remember the platitude. The 
best way to convince oneself of it forever is to visit 
a series of these places, and take honest note of their 
personnel. The employes will be found to be 
French ; but ninety-eight per cent, of the patrons are 
English, German, Italian, Spanish, and North and 
South American. The retort is made that neverthe- 
less the Parisians started such establishments in the 
first place. They did; but only after the stranger 
had brought his crude sensuality to their variety the- 
atres and night cafes, stripping the first of their 
racy wit, the second of their rollicking bonhomie, 
taking note only of the license underlying both — and 
blatantly revelling in it. Then it was that the ever- 
alert commercial sense of the Frenchman awoke to 
a new method of making money out of foreigners; 
and the vulgar night-restaurant of today had its be- 
ginning. 

But not only in the matter of degeneracy is the 
common analysis of the Parisian open to refutation; 
his inveterate cynicism also comes up for doubt. The 
attitude that calls forth this mistaken conclusion on 
the part of those not well acquainted with French 
character is more or less the attitude of every in- 
stinctively dramatic nature: a kind of impersonal 



84 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

detachment, which causes the individual to appreciate 
situations and events first as bits of drama, seen in 
their relation to himself. Thus, during the recent 
scandal of the motor bandits, I have heard policemen 
laugh heartily at some clever trick of evasion on the 
part of the criminals; only to see them turn purple 
with rage the next minute, on realizing the insult to 
their own intelligence. 

A better example is the story of the little mid- 
inette who, though starving, would not yield to her 
former patron (desirous also of being her lover), 
and whom the latter shot through the heart as she was 
hurrying along the Quai Passy late at night. "Quel 
phenomene" ! she exclaimed, with a faint shrug, as 
her life ebbed away in the corner brasserie; "to be 
shot, while on the way to drown oneself — c'est inoiii"! 
The next moment she was dead. And all she had to 
say was, "what a phenomenon — it's unheard of!" 

Is this cynicism? Or is it not rather the character- 
istic impersonality of the histrionic temper, which 
causes the artist, even in death, to gaze at herself and 
at the scene, as it were, from the critical vantage of 
the wings? And the light shiTig — which so often 
grounds the idea of heartlessness, or simply of shal- 
low frivolity, in the judgment of the stranger — look 
closer, and you will see it hiding a brave stoicism that 
this race of born actors makes every effort to conceal. 
The French throughout embody so complex a com- 
bination of Latin ardour. Spartan endurance, and 
Greek ideality as to render them extremely difficult 
of any but the most superficial comprehension. They 



THE CURTAIN RISES 85 

laugh at things that make other people shudder; 
they take fire at things that leave other people cold; 
they burn with a white flame for beauties other peo- 
ple never see. As a great English writer has said, 
"below your level, they're above it: — and a paradox 
is at home with them!" 

But I do not think that they are always ridiculing 
the foreigner, when the latter is uncomfortably 
conscious of their smiling glance upon him. There 
are travelling types at whom everyone laughs, and 
these delight the Frenchman's keen humour; but the 
ordinary stranger has become so commonplace to 
Paris that, unless he or she is especially distinguished, 
no one takes any notice. Here, however, we have in 
a nutshell the reason for that smile that sometimes 
irritates the foreigner: it is often a smile of pure 
admiration. The great artist's eye knows no dis- 
tinction of nationality or an iota of provincial prej- 
udice. When it lights upon ugliness, it is disgusted 
— or amused, if the ugliness has a touch of the comic; 
when, on the other hand, it lights upon beauty — and 
how instant it is to spy out the most obscure trait of 
this — enthusiasm is kindled, regardless of kind or 
race, and the vif French features break into a smile 
of pleased appreciation. Here, he would say, is some- 
one who contributes to the scene; someone who helps 
to make, not mar, the radiant ensemble we are striv- 
ing for. 

Paris, as no other city in the world, offers a play- 
house of brilliant and charming mis e- en- scene ; and 
gives the visitor subtly to understand that she expects 



86 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

him to live up to it. Otherwise she has no interest in 
him. For the well-tailored Englishman, the striking 
Americaine, for anyone and everyone who can claim 
title to that supreme quality, chic, Paris is ready to 
open her arms and cry kinship. Those whom she 
favours, however, are held strictly to the mark of her 
fine standard of the exquisite; and if they falter 
— oblivion. 

"I am never in Paris two hours," said an Amer- 
ican friend of mine, "before I begin to perk and 
prink, and furbish up everything I have. One feels 
that each man and woman in the street knows the 
very buttons of one's gloves, and quality of one's 
stockings; and that every detail of one's costume 
must be right." Many people have voiced the same 
impression: as of being consciously and constantly 
"on view" — before spectators keenly critical. The 
curtain seems to rise on oneself alone in the centre 
of the stage, and never to go down until the last 
pair of those appraising eyes has passed on. 

It is a very different appraisement, however, from 
the "inventory stare" of Fifth Avenue. Here, not 
money value but beauty of line — blend of colour, 
grace, verve — is the criterion. And the modestly 
gowned little midinette receives as many admiring 
glances as the gorgeous demi-mondaine, if only she 
has contrived an original cut to her frock, or tied a 
clever, new kind of bow to her hat. Novelty, novelty, 
is the cry of the exacting artiste; and who obeys 
wins approval — who has exhausted imagination is 
laid upon the shelf. 



THE CURTAIN RISES 87 

But, again, this is not the shifting, impermanent 
temper of Madame New York; it is the fickle varia- 
bihty of the great artist, exercising her eternal pre- 
rogative: caprice. She accepts a fashion one week, 
discards it the next for one newer; throws that aside 
two days later, and demands to know where every- 
one's ideas have gone. It is not that she is pettish, 
but simply that she is used to being slaved for, and 
to being pleased — by something different, something 
more charming every hour. Infinite pains are taken 
to produce the merest trifle she may fancy. Look 
from your window into the rows of windows up and 
down the street, or that line your court: everywhere 
people are sewing, fitting minute bits of delicate 
stuffs into a pattern, threading tiny pearls to make 
a border, straining their eyes in dark work-rooms, — 
toiling indefatigably — to create some fragile, lovely 
thing that will be snatched up, worn once or twice, 
and tossed aside, forgotten for the rest of time. 

Yet no one of the workers seems to grow im- 
patient or disheartened over this; the faces bent ab- 
sorbedly over their tasks are bright with interest, 
alert and full of eagerness to make something that 
will captivate the difficult mistress, if only for an 
hour. They may never see her — when she comes to 
inspect their handiwork, they are shut behind a dingy 
door; at best, they may only catch a glimpse of her 
as she enters her carriage, or sweeps past them out- 
side some brilliant theatre of her pleasure. But one 
cries to another: "She's wearing my fichu!" The 
other cries back: "And I draped her skirt!" And 



88 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

supreme contentment illumines each face, for each has 
helped towards the goddess's perfection — and they 
are satisfied. 

As I heard one unimportant little couturiere re- 
mark, "Dieu merci, in Paris we all are artists !" And 
so they all are responsible for the finished success of 
the star. One cannot help contrasting this ideal that 
animates the most insignificant of them — the ideal of 
sheer beauty, towards which they passionately toil to 
attain — with the stolid "what-do-I-get-out-of-it" atti- 
tude of the Anglo-Saxon artisan. French working 
people are poorly paid, they have little joy in life be- 
yond the joy of what they create with their fingers; 
yet there is about them a fine contentment, an almost 
radiance, that is inspiring only to look upon. When 
they do have a few francs for pleasure, you will find 
them at the Franpais or the Odeon — the best to be 
had is their criterion; and when the theatres are out 
of their reach, on Sundays and holidays they crowd 
the galleries and museums, exchanging keenly in- 
telligent comment as they scrutinize one masterpiece 
after another. 

The culture of the nation, at least, is not artificial ; 
but deep-rooted as no other race can claim: in the 
poorest ouvrier, no less than in the most polished 
gentleman, there exists the insatiable instinct for what 
is fine and worthy to be assimilated. And if the prej- 
udiced concede this perhaps, but add that it remains 
an intellectual instinct always — an artistic instinct, 
while the heart of French people is callous and cold, 
one may suggest that there are two kinds of artists: 



THE CURTAIN RISES 89 

those who give away their hearts in their art, and 
those who jealously hide theirs lest the vulgar tear it 
to pieces. 

And the great artiste, however gracious she may 
be for us, however kind may be her smile, never lets 
us forget that we are before a curtain ; which, though 
she may draw it aside and give us brief glimpses of 
her wonder, conceals some things too precious to be 
shown. 



II 

ON HER EVERYDAY PERFORMANCE 

Sight-seeing in Paris must be like looking at the 
Venus of Milo on a roll of cinematograph films — an 
experience too harrowing to be remembered. I am 
sure it is the better part of discretion to forswear 
Baedeker, and without system just to "poke round." 
Thus one catches the artists, in the multiform moods 
of their Hf e, as ordinary beings ; and stumbles across 
historic wonders enough into the bargain. 

Really to take Paris unawares, one must get up 
in the morning before she does, and slip out into the 
street when the white-bloused baker's boy and a 
sleepy cocher or two, with their drowsy, dawdling 
horses, are all the life to be seen. One walks along the 
empty boulevards, down the quiet Rue de la Paix, 
into the stately serenity of the Place Vendome and 
on across the shining Seine into the grey, ancient 
stillness of the crooked Rue du Bac. And in this 
early morning calm, of solitary spaces and clear sun- 
shine, fresh-sprinkled streets and gently fluttering 
trees, one meets with a new and altogether different 
Paris from the dazzling, exotic city one knows by day 
and at night. 

90 



THE CURTAIN RISES 91 

Absent is the snort and reckless rush of motors, 
the insistent jangling of tram and horse's bells, the 
rumble of carts and clip-clop of their Norman stall- 
ions' feet; absent the hurrying, kaleidoscopic throngs 
who issue from the subway stations and fill the thor- 
oughfares; absent even that familiar smell-of-the- 
city which in Paris is a fusion of gasoline, wet as- 
phalt, and the faint fragrance of women's sachet: 
this virgin morning peace is without odour save the 
odour of fresh leaves, without noise, without the 
bustle of moving people. The city stretches its 
broad arms North and South, East and West, like a 
serene woman in the embrace of tranquil dreams ; and 
suggests a soft and beautiful repose. 

But, while still you are drinking deep of it, she stirs 
— opens her eyes. A distant cry is heard: "E-e-ehy 
pommes de terre-eeeeh!" And then another: "Les 
petites f raises du hois! Les petites fraises!" And 
the cries come nearer, and there is the sound of steps 
and the creak of a hand-cart ; and Paris rubs her eyes 
and wakes up — she must go out and buy potatoes ! 

The same fat, brown- faced woman with the same 
two dogs — one pulling the cart, one running fussily 
along-side — has sold potatoes in the same streets 
round the Place Vendome, ever since I can remember. 
For years, her lingering vibrant cry has roused this 
part of Paris to the first sign of day. And while she 
is making change, and gossiping with the concierge, 
and the smaller dog is sniffing impatiently round her 
skirts, windows are opened, gratings groan up, at the 



92 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

corner some workmen call to one another — and the 
day is begun. 

While the streets are still comparatively empty, 
let us follow the first abroad — the little midinette 
(shop-girl) and her mother — to mass. They will 
choose one of the old, unfashionable churches, like 
St. Roch or La Trinite; though on Sundays they go 
to the Madeleine to hear the music, and revel in splen- 
did pomp and pageantry. France at heart is agnos- 
tic ; a nation of fatalists, if anything. But the vivid 
French imagination is held in thrall by the colour 
and mystic ritual of the Catholic church : by the most 
perfect in ceremonial and detail of all religions. 
When the curtain rises on the full magnificence of 
gorgeous altar, golden-robed bishop and officiating 
priests ; when, in accompaniment to the sonorous Aves, 
exquisite music peals forth, and the whole is blended, 
melted together by the soft light of candles, the 
subtle haze of incense: into French faces comes that 
ecstasy with which they greet the perfect in all its 
manifestations. They are devotes of beauty in the 
religious as in every other scene. 

But now our midinette and her maman enter a 
dusky unpretentious old church, where quietly they 
say their prayers and listen to the monotonous chant- 
ing of a single priest, reading matins in a little corner 
chapel. The two women cross themselves, and go out. 
In the PlacCj the younger one stops to spend two- 
pence for a spray of muguet — that delicate flower 
(the lily-of-the-valley) that is the special property of 
the midinettes of Paris, and that they love. On their 



THE CURTAIN RISES 93 

Saint Catherine's Day (May 1st) , no girl is without a 
little bunch of it as a " porte-honlieur" for her love 
affairs during the next year. 

But the midinette calls, "au 'voir"; and the maman 
returns, "a ce soir!" And they disappear, the one to 
her shop, the other to her duties as concierge or store- 
keeper, and we are left in the Place alone. What 
about coffee? Let us take it here at the corner bras- 
serie, where the old man with his napkin tucked in 
his chin is crumbling "crescents" and muttering im- 
precations at the government — which he attacks 
through the Matin or Figaro spread upon his knees. 
A young man, with melancholy black moustaches and 
orange boots, is the only other client at this early hour. 
He refuses to eat, though a cafe complet is before 
him; and looks at his watch, and sighs. We know 
what is the matter with Jmn. 

Considerate of the lady who is late, we choose a 
table on the other side — all are outdoors of course, in 
this Springtime of the year — and devote ourselves to 
discussing honey and rolls and the season's styles in 
hosiery, which young persons strolling towards the 
boulevard benevolently offer for our inspection. Oc- 
casionally they pause, and graciously inquire if we 
"have need of someone?" And on our replying — 
with the proper mixture of apology and admiration — 
that all our wants seem to be attended to, pass on 
with a shrug of resignation. 

Motor-buses are whirring by now, and a maze of 
fiacres, taxis, delivery-boy's bicycles, and heavy trucks 
skid round the shppery corner in dangerous confu- 



94 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

sion. The traffic laws of Paris are of the vaguest, 
and policemen are few and far between; all at once, 
the Place seems unbearably thick and full of noise. 
We call for our addition, exchange complaisances 
with the waiter, and depart — just as the young man 
with the orange boots, with a cry of "enfinr tucks 
the hand of a bewitchingly pretty young lady (doubt- 
less a mannequin) within his arm, and starts towards 
the Rue de la Paix. 

The Rue de la Paix at half past nine in the morn- 
ing does not intrigue us. We prefer to wait for it 
until the sensational heure des rendez-vous, in the 
evening. Why not jump into a cab and bowl leis- 
urely out to the Bois ? It will be cool there, and quiet 
during the hour before the fashionable cavaliers come 
to ride. With a wary eye for a horse of reasonable 
solidity, we engage a blear-eyed Gaul to tow us to 
the Porte Dauphine. We like this Gaul above other 
Gauls, because his anxious flop-eared dog sitting 
next to him on the box gives every sign of liking him. 
And though, even before we have turned into the 
Champs Elysees, there have been three blood-cur- 
dling rows between cabby and various colleagues who 
presumed to occupy a place in the same street; 
though whips have been brandished and such fero- 
cious epithets as "brother-in-law of a bantam!" "son 
of a pigeon-toed hen!" have been brandished with- 
out mercy by our remorseless Jehu, we take the reas- 
suring word of his dog's worshipping brown eyes that 
he is not a bad sort after all. 

He cracks us out the Champs Elysees at a smart 



THE CURTAIN RISES 95 

pace; yet we have time to gloat over the beauties of 
this lovehest of all avenues: its spacious gardens, its 
brilliant flower-plots, its quaint little guignols and 
donkey carriages for children. Vendors of jumping 
bunnies and squeaking pigs thread in and out the 
shady trees, showing their fascinating wares ; and one 
does not wonder at the swarm of small people with 
their bright-ribboned nm'ses, who flock round to ad- 
mire — and to buy. 

This part of the avenue — from the Concorde to 
the Rond-Point — is given over to children; and all 
kinds of amusements, wise and unwise, are prepared 
for them. But by far the most popular are the 
guignols: those theatres-in-little, where Punch and 
Judy go through their harassing adventures, to the 
accompaniment of "cest joli, ^a!" and ^'tiens, que 
c'est elite!" ; uttered by enthusiastic small French 
throats, seconded by applauding small French hands. 
For in Paris even the babies have their appreciation 
for the drama that is ofl'ered them before they can 
talk; and show it so spontaneously, yet emphatically, 
that one is arrested by their vehemence. 

But we can take in these things only in passing, 
for Jehu and the flop-eared dog are carrying us on 
up the suavely mounting avenue, beyond the haughty 
portals of fashionable hotels and automobile houses 
de luooe; round the stately Arc de Triomphe, and into 
the Avenue du Bois. Here a sprinkling of govern- 
esses and their charges, old ladies, and lazy young 
men are ranged along in the stiff" luxury of penny 
chairs. On a Sunday we might stop and take one 



96 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

ourselves, to watch the parade of toilettes and the 
lively Parisian jeunesse at its favourite game of 
"fair^e le flirt" ; but this morning the terrace is half 
asleep, and above it the houses of American million- 
aires and famous ladies of the demi-monde turn for- 
bidding closed shutters to our inquiring gaze. Jehu 
speeds us past them, and we alight at the Porte 
Dauphine, the principal entrance to the Bois. 

Green grass, the glint of a lake, broad, sandy 
roads and intimate slim allees greet us, once within 
the gates; while all round and overhead are the 
slender, grey-green French poplars, fashioned into 
gracious avenues and seductive pathways, with its 
gay little restaurant at the end. Of all styles and 
architecture are these last: Swiss chalets, Chinese 
pagodas, Japanese tea-houses, and the typical French 
pavilion; they have one common trait, however — that 
of serving atrocious food at a fabulous price. Let us 
abjure them, and wander instead along the quite ex- 
pansive lake, to the rocks and miniature falls of Les 
Rochers. 

All through the Bois one is struck with the char- 
acteristic French passion for vistas. There is none of 
the natural wildness of Central Park, or the uninter- 
rupted sweep of green fields that gives the charm of 
air and openness to the parks of London; but — 
though here in Paris we are in a "wood" — every- 
where there is the elaborate simplicity of French land- 
scape gardening: trees cut into tall Gothic arches, or 
bent into round, tunnel-like curves; brush trimmed 
precisely into formal box hedges; paths leading into 



THE CURTAIN RISES 97 

avenues, that in turn lead into other avenues — so that 
before, behind, and on every side there is that pro- 
longed silver-grey perspective. One sees the same 
thing at Versailles and St. Cloud: in every French 
forest, for that matter. The artist cannot stay her 
hand, even for the hand of nature. 

And so, in the Bois, rocks have been built into 
grottos, and trickling waterfalls trained to form 
cascades above them ; and little lakes and islands have 
been inserted — everything, anything, that the artistic 
imagination could conceive, to enhance the sylvan 
scene for the critical actors who frequent it. Which 
reminds us that these last will be on view now — it is 
eleven o'clock, their hour for riding and the prom- 
enade. So let us leave Les Rocliers, and the greedy 
goats of the Pre Catalan, and hasten back to the Ave- 
nue des Aca9ias and the famous Sentier de Vertu. 

Here, a chic procession of elegantes and their ad- 
mirers are strolling along, laughing and chatting as 
they come upon acquaintances, forming animated lit- 
tle groups, only to break up and wander on to join 
others. Cavaliers in smart English coats, or the dash- 
ing St. Cyr uniform, canter by ; calling gay greeting 
to friends, for whose benefit they display an elabor- 
ately careless bit of clever horsemenship en passant. 
Ladies and "half -ladies" in habits of startling yet 
somehow alluring cut and hue — heliotrope and brick 
pink are among the favourites — allow their mounts 
to saunter lazily along the allees, while their own 
modestly veiled eyes spy out prey. They are viewed 
with severity by the bonne bourgeoise of the tortoise- 



98 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

shell lorgnettes and heavy moustache; who keeps her 
limousine within impressive calling distance, while 
she, with her fat poodle under her arm, waddles along 
ogling the beaux. 

A doughty regiment of these there are: young 
men with marvellous waists and eager, searching 
eyes; middle-aged men with figures "well preserved," 
and eyes that make a desperate eifort at eagerness, 
but only succeed in looking tired ; and then the old gal- 
lants, waxed and varnished, and gorgeously immac- 
ulate, from sandy toupee to gleaming pointed shoes 
— the three hours they have spent with the barber and 
in the scrupulous hands of their valet have not been 
in vain. They do the honours of the Sentier, with a 
courtliness that brings back Louis Quatorze and the 
days of Ninon and the lovely Montespan. 

But there are as lovely — and perhaps as naughty ? 
— ladies among these who saunter leisurely down the 
grey-green paths today. In wonderfully simple, 
wonderfully complicated toilettes de matin, they stroll 
along in pairs — or again (with an oblique glance over 
the shoulder, oh a quite indifferent glance), care- 
lessly alone with two or three little dogs. I read 
last week in one of the French illustrated papers a 
serious treatise on ladies' dogs. It was divided into 
the three categories: "Dogs for morning," "Dogs 
for afternoon," "Dogs of ceremony" — meaning full- 
dress dogs. And the article gravely discussed the cor- 
rect canine accessory that should be worn with each 
separate costume of the elegante's elaborate day. It 
omitted to add, however, the incidental value of these 



THE CURTAIN RISES 99 

costly scraps of fuzz, as chaperones. But with a 
couple of dogs, as one pretty lady softly assured me, 
one can go anywhere, feeling quite secure ; and one's 
husband, too — for of course he realizes that the sweet 
little beasts must be exercised! 

So the conscientious ladies regularly "exercise" 
them; and if sometimes, in their exuberance, Toto 
and Mimi escape their distressed young mistresses, 
and must be brought back by a friend who "chanced" 
to be near at hand — who can cavil? And if the kind 
restorer walks a little way with the trio he has re- 
united, or sits with them for a few moments under the 
trees, why not? They are always three — Toto and 
Mimi and the lady — and one's friends who may hap- 
pen to pass know for themselves how hard dogs are 
to keep in hand! 

So we have a series of gay, weU-dressed couples 
wandering down the intimate allees, or scattered in 
the white iron chairs within the trees : a very different 
series from those who will be here at eleven o'clock 
tonight — and every night. The Bois is far too large 
to be policed, and the grotesque shapes that haunt it 
after dark — crouching, low-browed figures that slink 
along in the shadows, greedy for any sort of prey — 
make one shudder, even from the security of a closed 
cab. All about are the brilliant, bright-lit restaurants 
with their crowds of feasting sybarites; yet at the 
very door of these — waiting to fall upon them if 
they take six steps beyond the threshold — is that 
grisly, desperate band, some say of Apaches, others 
say monsters worse than those. 



100 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

At all events, it is better in the evening to turn 
one's eyes away from the shadowy paths, and towards 
the amusing tableaux to be seen in passing fiacres 
and taxis. To the more reserved Anglo-Saxon, 
French frankness of demonstration in affairs of the 
affections comes always as a bit of a shock. To see 
a lady reclining against the arm of a gentleman, as 
the two spin along the boulevard in an open horse- 
cab ; to watch them, quite oblivious of the world look- 
ing on, ardently turn and kiss one another: this is a 
disturbing and meanly provocative scene to put before 
the susceptible American. No one else pays any at- 
tention to it — they have acted that scene so many 
times themselves ; and when, in the friendly darkness 
of the Bois at night, all lingering discretion is thrown 
to the winds, and behind the cabby's broad, habituated 
back anything and everything in the way of fervid 
love-making goes on — who cares? Except to smile 
sympathetically, and return to his own affair, more 
ardently than ever. The silliouettes one sees against 
taxi-windows and the dust-coloured cushions of 
fiacres are utterly demoralizing to respectable Amer- 
ican virtue. 

Let us turn on the light of day, therefore, and in 
a spasm of prudence mount a penny-bus that traffics 
between the Etoile and the Latin Quarter. It is a 
flagrant faux-pas to arrive in the Latin Quarter by 
way of anything more sumptuous than a penny-bus 
or a twopenny tram. It shrieks it from the cobbles, 
that one is a "nouveau" ; and that, in the Quarter, is 
a disgrace too horrible to be endured. 



THE CURTAIN RISES 101 

We rock across the Pont Royal, then, on the pre- 
carious upper story of an omnibus; and wind along 
the narrow Rue du Bac, which, since our visit of early 
morning, has waked to fitful life in its old plaster 
and print shops. Second-hand dealers of all kinds 
flourish here, and the medley of ancient books, musty 
reliquaries, antique jewelry, and battered images 
minus such trifles as a nose or ear, makes the street 
into one continuous curiosity-shop. Until one reaches 
the varnish and modern bustle of the Bon Marche 
stores; then, when we have been shot through the 
weather-beaten slit of the Rue des Saints Peres, I 
insist that we shall climb down and go on foot up 
quaint, irregular Notre-Dame-des-Champs to the 
garden where I spent many joyous days as a student. 

It is in a crooked little street which runs breath- 
lessly for a block between Notre-Dame-des-Champs 
and the Boulevard Montparnasse — and there stops; 
leaving you with the insinuation that it has done its 
best to squeeze in on this frazzled boundary of the 
old Quarter, and that more cannot be expected of it. 
On one side of the abrupt block, rambles the one- 
time hotel of the Duchesse de Chevreuse; intrigante, 
cosmopolitan, irresponsible lover of adventure, who 
kept Louis XIII's court in a hubbub with her pranks 
and her inordinate influence over Queen Anne. 

The grey court that has seen the trysts of Chalais, 
Louvigni, even of the great Richelieu himself, rests 
still intact ; and they say the traditional secret passage 
also — leading from a hidden recess in the garden to 
the grands palais. But that is only legend (which, 



102 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

by some vagary, still clings to the feelers of the prac- 
tical twentieth century mind), and I have never seen 
it. The hotel is now covered yearly with a neat coat 
of yellow paint, and used as an apartment house; 
crowded by the usual rows of little Quarter shops : a 
cobbler's, a blanchissage, a goldsmith's on the East 
wing; the beaten-down door of an antiquary on the 
West : until its outraged painted bricks seem to bulge 
out over the thread of a side-walk, in continual effort 
to rub noses with the hointal opposite — the only other 
house of any age in the street. 

One peep at the garden — and you will admit it is 
worth it, with its lovely plaintive iris, its pale wistaria, 
its foolish pattering fountain — and we turn towards 
the Boulevard and lunch. I have said this bit of a 
street along which we are walking is on the bound- 
ary of the old Quarter. Alas, in these days there is 
no Quarter. One tries to think there is, particularly 
if one is a new-comer to the Left Bank, and enthusi- 
astic; but one learns all too soon that there is not. 
There are students, yes, and artists; and the cafes 
and paintshops and pretty grisettes that go with 
students and artists. But the quarter of Rudolph and 
Mimi, of Trilby and Svengali: can you find it in 
steam-heated apartments, where ladies in Worth 
gowns pour tea ? Or in the thick blue haze about the 
bridge and poker games at the Cafe du Dome? 

The Quarter has passed; there remains only its 
name. And that we should use with a muttered "for- 
give us our trespasses" ; for it is the name of romance, 
shifted onto commonplaceness. 



THE CURTAIN RISES 103 

Yet one can still enjoy there the romance of a 
delicious meal for two francs fifty ; and there are any 
number of jealously hidden places from which to 
choose. Let us go to Henriette's, this tiny hole-in- 
the-wall, where one passes the fragrant-steaming 
kitchen on the way to the little room inside, and calls 
a greeting to the cook — an old friend — where he 
stands, lobster-pink and beaming, over his copper 
sauce-pans. Back under a patched and hoary sky- 
light the tables are placed; and a family of mild- 
mannered mice clamber out over the glass to peer 
inquiringly at the gluttons below — who eat at one 
bite enough cheese to keep any decently delicate 
mouse for a week. 

We order an omelette aiuv champignons, a Chateau- 
briand (corresponding to our tenderloin of steak) 
with pommes souffles; as a separate vegetable, petits 
pois a la Franfaise, and for dessert a heaping plate of 
wild strawberries to be eaten with one of these delect- 
able brown pots of thick creme d'Isigny — aih! It 
makes one exquisitely languid only to think of it, all 
that luscious food! We lean back voluptuously in 
our stiff little chairs, and gaze about us while wait- 
ing for it. 

At the half dozen tables round us are seated the 
modern prototypes of Rudolph and INIimi: mildly 
boisterous American youths from the Beaux Arts and 
Julien's; careworn English spinsters with freckles 
and paint-smudged fingers; a Russian couple, with 
curious "shocked" hair and vivid, roving black eyes; 
a stray Frenchman or two, probably shop-keepers 



104 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

from the Boulevard, and a trio of models — red- 
lipped, torrid-eyed, sinuously round, in their sheath- 
fitting tailored skirts and cheap blouses. They are 
making a nonchalant meal off bread and cheese, and 
a bottle of vin ordinaire: evidently times are bad, or 
"ce hon gargon Harry's" remittance has not come. 

Proof of other bad times is in the charming frieze 
painted, in coromemoration of the Queen of Hearts, 
by two girl artists of a former day, who worked out 
their over-due bill to the house in this decorative 
fashion. For the poverty, at least, of the traditional 
Quarter survives; though smothered into side streets 
and obscure "passages" by the self-styled "Bohem- 
ians" of Boulevards Raspail and Montparnasse. And 
one notices that the habitues of Henriette's and of all 
the humbler restaurants have their own napkin-rings 
which they take from the rack as they come in; does 
it not save them ten centimes, an entire penny, on the 
charge for convert? 

They have their own tobacco too, and roll their 
cigarettes with care not to spill a single leaf at the 
process ; and you feel a heartless Dives to sit smoking 
your fragrant Egyptians after your luxurious meal 
and sipping golden Benedictine at the considerable 
price of forty centimes (eight cents). Our more 
frugal neighbours, however, show no sign of envy, or 
indeed of interest of any sort; their careless indif- 
ference not only to us, but to their own meal and 
the desultory chatter of their comrades, speaks of 
long and familiar experience with both. Somehow 
they are depressing, these Rudolphs without their 



THE CURTAIN RISES 105 

velveteens, these Mimis without their flowers and 
other romantic trappings of poverty; the hideous 
modern garments of the shabbily genteel only em- 
phasize a sordid lack of petty cash. 

I suggest that we run away from them, and hie 
us to the lilac-bushes and bewitching bcbcs of the 
Jardin du Luxembourg; for in the realm of the great 
artiste even the babies contribute to the scene, and in 
their fascinating short frocks, and wee rose-trimmed 
bonnets, are a gladsome troupe of Lilliputians with 
whom to while away one's melancholy. But you may 
have an inhuman apathy towards babies, and prefer to 
taxi out to St. Germain for a view of the terrace, and 
a glimpse en route of sadly lovely Malmaison — the 
memory-haunted home of Josephine. Or you may 
suggest the races — though I hope you won't, because 
in France the sport is secondary; and mannequins 
are a dull race. I had rather you chose an excursion 
up the Seine, on one of the fussy httle river-boats; 
though of course at St. Cloud we should be sure to 
find a blaring street fair in possession of the forest, 
and at Meudon the same : the actors must bring their 
booths and flying pigs into the very domain of Dame 
Nature herself; being no respecters of congruity 
where passion for the theatric is concerned. 

But we should have the cool vistas of the inner 
forest, and the stately satisfaction of historic stone 
stairs and mellow creamy-grey urns and statues 
through the trees; or we can go down the river in- 
stead to old Vincennes, and have a look at the grim 



106 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

prison-castle that has sheltered many a noble in dis- 
grace. Which shall it be? To use Madame La 
France's borrowed Spanish expression: I am ''tout 
a voire disposition." 



Ill 

AND ITS SEQUEL 

Whichever it is, we must be back in time for tea 
at one of the fashionable "fiv' o' clocks" ; for, though 
many ladies who buy their clothes in Paris do not 
know it, looking- at grandes dames is vastly different 
from looking at mannequins or the demi-monde ; and 
the French grande dame is at her best at the tea 
hour. Someone has said, with truth, that the Ameri- 
can woman is the best-dressed in the morning, the 
Englishwoman the best-dressed at night ; but that the 
Parisienne triumphs over both in the gracious, cling- 
ing gown of afternoon. 

Let us turn into this exclusive little establishment 
in the Place Vendome, and from the vantage of a 
window-table in the mezzanine observe the lovely 
ladies as they enter. The first to come is in the sim- 
plest frock of leaf-green — the average American 
woman would declare it "positively plain"; there is 
not a sign of lace or hand embroidery about it, only 
at the open throat a soft fall of finest net, snowy as 
few American women would take pains to have it. 
And the lady's hair is warm copper, and her hat a 
mere ingenious twist of leaf -green tulle; but a 

107 



108 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

master hand has draped it and the simple frock of 
green ; and the whole is a beautiful blend of line and 
colour, as unstudied as a bit of autumn woodland. 

Here is a combination more striking. The lady 
just stepping from the pansy limousine has chosen 
yellow for her costume of shimmering crepe; a rich 
dull ochre, with a hint of red in its flowing folds. 
At the neck and wrists are bits of fragile old em- 
broidery, yellow too with age, and that melt into the 
flesh-tones of the wearer till they seem part of her 
living self; while at the slim waist-line is a narrow 
band of dusky rose — the kind of rose that looks 
faintly coated with silver — and daringly caught up 
high at the right side, a single mauve petunia. The 
hat of course is black — a mere nothing of a tiny toque, 
with one spray of filmy feather low against the lady's 
blond hair. 

"But she is not pretty at all," you realize sud- 
denly; "she's really almost ugly, and yet — " 

Exactly. A Frenchwoman can be as ugly as it 
pleases perverse Heaven to make her ; there is always 
the "and yet" of her overwhelming charm. You may 
call it artificial if you like — the mere material allure- 
ments of stuifs and bits of thread; but to arrange 
those stuffs there must be a fine discrimination, to 
know how to use those bits of thread, a subtle science 
no other woman has — or ever quite acquires. Look 
about you in the tea-room — now fast filling with 
women of all ages and all tastes — what is it that 
forms their great general attraction? White hands, 
shown to perfection by a fall of delicate lace, or the 



THE CURTAIN RISES 109 

gleam of a single big emerald or sapphire; hands 
moving daintily among fragile china, the sheen of 
silver, the transparency of glass. And above the 
hands, vif faces, set in the soft coquetry of snowy 
ruches, graceful fichus, piquant Medici collars, but 
all open upon the alluring V of creamy throat. 

What is it these women have? You can set down 
what they have on, but what is it you cannot set down, 
yet that you know they possess? It is the art of 
supreme femininity, carried out in the emphasis of 
every charm femininity has; by means of contrast, 
colour, above all by the subtlest means in everything: 
simplicity. And there is added to their conscious art 
a pervading delicate voluptuousness, that underlies 
the every expression of themselves as women; and 
that completes the havoc of the male they subjugate. 

Look at him now. Do you know any man but an 
Englishman who likes tea? Yet here they are, these 
absinthe-ridden Frenchmen drinking it with a 
fervour; but their eyes are not within their cups! 
For again the highly proper little dogs are present 
— "dogs for the afternoon," of course; and the man- 
agement has been thoughtful in providing discreet 
corners and deep window-seats, where a tete-a-tete 
may be enjoyed without too many interruptions on 
the part of the chic waitress with a windward eye to 
tips. 

Another precaution these abandoned couples 
take is a third person — usually a young girl — to be 
with them. IMadame starts out with the young girl, 
by chance they meet ^lonsieur X at the five-o'clock, 



110 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

and have tea with him ; of course he escorts the ladies 
home, and equally of course the young girl is 
"dropped" first. If between her house and that of 
Madame's, the better part of an hour is employed in 
threading the tangled traffic of that time of evening, 
who can say a word except the chauffeur — who is 
given no reason to regret his long-suffering silence 
on such subjects. Thus during the hour after tea, 
the hour between six and seven, when kindly dusk 
lends her cloak to the game, husbands and wives play 
at their eternal trick of outwitting one another. 

It may be a game that disgusts you, you may find 
it sordid, even repellent, to watch ; but, among people 
with whom the marriage of convenience is universal 
(and in most respects turns out excellently well), 
what can you expect? A lover or a divorce, for both 
parties; and the French man and woman prefer to 
maintain the stability of house and name, and to wink 
at one another's individual peccadilloes. They are 
generally very good friends, and devoted to their 
children ; and never, never do they commit that crass- 
ness of the Anglo-Saxon, in bringing their amours 
within the home. 

So let us watch the departing couples whirl away 
from the little tea-room, without too great severity; 
and ourselves wander out into the Place, and up the 
short, spectacular Rue de la Paix. This above all 
others is the hour to see it — when fashion throngs the 
narrow pavements, or bowls slowly past in open motor 
cars; and when the courts of the great dressmaker's 
shops are filled with young blades, waiting for the 



THE CURTAIN RISES 111 

mannequins to come down. One by one these mar- 
vellously slim, marvellously apparelled young persons 
appear; each choosing the most effective moment she 
can contrive for her particular entrance into the twi- 
light of the street. A silken hum of skirts precedes 
her; the swains in the doorway eagerly look up — ad- 
just their scarf-pins, give a jauntier tilt to their top- 
hats — and the apparition, sweetly smiling and em- 
phatically perfumed, is among them. 

There are murmured greetings, a suggestion from 
two of the bolder of the beaux, a gracious assent from 
the lady ; and the three spin away in a taxi, to Armen- 
onville or Chateau Madrid, for dinner. They have a 
very pleasant life, these mannequins ; for lending the 
figure the hon Dieu gave them — or that they pains- 
takingly have acquired — they receive excellent salaries 
from the great couturiers. In consideration of which 
they appear at the establishment when they please, 
or not at all, when they have the caprice to stay away. 
If the figure is sufficiently remarkable, there is no 
limit to the whims they can enjoy — and be pardoned, 
even eagerly implored to return to their deserted 
posts. And then, as we see, after professional hours 
— what pleasaunce of opportunity ! What boundless 
possibilities of la vie chic! Really, saith the ex-midi- 
nette complacently, it is good to have become a man- 
nequin. 

Some there are who at this excellent business- 
hour of evening, make a preoccupied exit ; sweep past 
the disappointed gentlemen in waiting, and walk 
swiftly towards the maze and glitter of the Boule- 



112 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

vard. The g-entlemen shrug, comprehending. A 
rendex-vous. Out of idle curiosity, one of them may 
follow. "Mais, ma cliereT he murmurs reproach- 
fully, at sight of the ill-restored antiquity the lady 
annexes at the corner. 

She makes a deprecatory little face, over her 
shoulder, which says, "You ought to understand, one 
must be practical. But what about tomorrow night?" 
And a bit of paste-board flutters from her gold purse 
and at the feet of the reproachful gentleman; who 
smiles, picks it up, reads it, shrugs, and strolls back 
to his doorway, to find other extravagance for this 
evening. 

What a Paris! you exclaim; is there anything in 
it besides the rendez-vous? Not at this hour. For 
mechanics and midinettes, bank-clerks and vendeuses, 
shop-keepers and ever-thrifty daughters of joy, pour 
into the boulevards in a human flood ; and always, fol- 
lowing Biblical example, they go two by two. In an- 
other hour they will be before their croute-au-pot, in 
one of these omnipresent cafes ; for the present they 
anxiously wait on corners, or, with a relieved smile, 
link arms and move off at an absorbed, lingering gait 
down the boulevard. 

Some halt, to sit down at the little tables on the 
side-walk, and drink an aperitif. Here too, the old 
dogs of commerce and industry get together over a 
Pernod or a Dubonnet^ and in groups of twos and 
threes heatedly thrash out the unheard-of fluctua- 
tions of the Bourse today. The bon bourgeois meets 
his wife, and hears of the children's cleverness, the 



THE CURTAIN RISES 113 

servant's perfidy, over a strop; two angemic young 
government clerks gulp Amer Picon, and violently 
contradict one another about the situation in Morocco ; 
a well-known danseuse sips vermouth with the long- 
haired youth who directs the orchestra at the Folies 
Bergeres: it is as though, between six and seven, all 
Paris is strung along outside the cafes that link the 
boulevard into a chain of chairs and tables. And in 
the street, down the middle, motor-buses honk their 
horns, horse-buses crack their whips, cochers and 
chauffeurs shout anathema to one another and male- 
diction on policemen and the human worm in general ; 
while the traffic thickens and crawls slower with every 
minute, and a few helpless gendarmes struggle in 
vain to preserve order. 

Let us out of it all, and to dine. We can go to 
Chateau INIadrid, and eat under the trees, and watch 
the gorgeous Parisiennes in the gallery as instinc- 
tively they group themselves to lend heightened effect 
to the ensemble; or we can go to Paillard's and pay 
ten dollars apiece for the privilege of sitting against 
the wall and consuming such sauces as never were in 
Olympus or the earth beneath; or we can dine above 
the gardens of the Ambassadeurs, in the elegant lit- 
tle balcony that overhangs a miniature stage, and 
later look on at the revue. Or we can sail up the river 
in the balmy gloaming, and eat a fiiture of smelts 
on the terrasse of the Peche Miraculeuse — there are a 
score of places where we can find a delicious meal, and 
in each observe a different world; running from do 
to do in the scale of the race. 



114 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

I suggest, however, that we choose a cafe in the 
Quarter — not one of the tiny eating-houses like 
Henriette's where we lunched, but a full-fledged, 
prosperous cafe; frequented by the better-off artists 
and the upper-class Quarter grisettes. Ten minutes 
in the Underground lands us at the door of one of 
the best-known of these places. In the front room, 
with big windows open to the street, is the cafe des 
consommateurs; in the rear, the restaurant and card 
rooms, and a delightful galleried garden, where also 
one may dine. Alluring strains of Hoffmann's 
Barcarolle entice us thither with all speed; and soon 
our enthusiasm is divided between chilled slices of 
golden melon and the caressing sensuousness of the 
maitre d'orchestre's violin. 

In passing, one may note that good music in Paris 
is a rare quantity. Though many people come to 
study singing, there are few vocal concerts, and the 
Touche and the Rouge are the only orchestras of any 
importance. They give weekly concerts in small halls, 
hardly bigger than an ordinary-sized room, and the 
handful of attendants smoke their fat porcelain pipes 
and extract cherries out of glasses of kirsch, and 
happily imagine themselves music-lovers. But the 
great artiste is an artist through sight rather than 
through sound; and even in opera, where the drama- 
tic element is or should be subservient to the music, 
the superdramatic French are ill-at-ease and ham- 
pered. Some of the performances at the Opera Co- 
mique are delightful, for here the lighter pieces of 
Massenet and Debussy are given, with the French lilt 



THE CURTAIN RISES 115 

and dash peculiar to these masters. But, at the Opera 
itself, the Wagnerian compositions are poorly con- 
ducted, the audience uninterested and uninteresting; 
and even the beautiful foyer — which, since the famous 
New Year's Eve balls have been done away wdth, 
know^s no longer its former splendours — cannot com- 
pensate for the thoroughly dull evening one endures 
there. 

Far happier is one listening to the serenades and 
intermezzos of the cherubic Alsatian violinist at the 
Quarter cafe-restaurant. And, after dinner, he plays 
solos out in the cafe proper, for the same absorbed 
polyglot audience that has listened to -him for years. 
Let us range ourselves in this corner against the wall, 
between the two American lady artists of masculine 
tailoring and Kansas voices, and the fierce-mus- 
tachioed Czek, mildly amused over a copy of the Rire. 
Every seat in the big double room is taken now, and 
we are a varied crew of French bourgeois, Russian, 
Norwegian, and German students, English and 
American tourists, Japanese attaches (or so one sup- 
poses from their conversation, in excellent French, 
with our neighbour Czek), and blond and black 
bearded artists who might be of any nation except the 
Oriental. 

They all know each other, and are exchanging 
jokes and cigarettes over their cafe creme — which 
they drink, by the way, out of glass tumblers — and 
paying goodnaturedly for a hock for Suzanne or 
Madeleine, whose hocks some other person should be 
paying. The room has taken on the look of a big 



116 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

family party, some talking, some writing letters, 
others reading from the shiny black-covered comic 
papers; all smoking, and sipping absently now and 
then from their steaming glasses or little verves de 
liqueur. The music drifts in soothingly, between 
spurts of conversation, and one is conscious of utter 
contentment and well-being. 

Suddenly a door is flung open. In whirls a small 
hurricane, confined within a royal purple coat and 
skirt; gives one lightning glance round the circle 
of surprised merry-makers, and with a triumphant 
cry pounces on Suzanne yonder, with the fury of a 
young virago. "So!" pants the vixen, shaking poor 
Suzanne. "So you thought to outwit me, you thought 
to oust me, did you? Me, whom he knew six months 
before ever he saw you — me whom he took to Havre, 
to Fontainebleau, to — ^to — traitress! Coward! Scele- 
rate! Take that — and that — and that!" 

She slaps Suzanne soundly on both cheeks; 
Suzanne pulls her hat off — each makes a lunge at the 
other's hair. "Mesdames, mesdames'' cries the 
patron, hurrying forward. "Je vous en prie — and 
monsieur," reproachfully, "can you do nothing?" 

Monsieur — the monsieur who kindly, and quite 
disinterestedly, paid Suzanne's book — sits by, lazily 
tapping his fingers against the glass. "What would 
you?" he says, with a shrug. "Women — " another 
shrug — "one had as well let them finish it." 

But the patron is by no means of this mind. He 
begins telling those ladies that his house is a serious 
house; that his clients are of the most serious, that 



THE CURTAIN RISES 117 

he himelf absolutely demands and insists upon ser- 
iousness; and that if these ladies cannot tranquillize 
themselves instantly 

But of a sudden he halts — pulled up short by the 
abrupt halt of the ladies themselves. In the thick of 
the fray Suzanne has flung contemptuous explana- 
tion; Gaby, the virago, has caught it. A truce is 
declared. Curt conversation takes place. Monsieur, 
still lazily tapping, consents to confirm the defend- 
ant's statement as fact. Gaby, though still suspi- 
cious, consents to restore the hated rival's hat ; and in 
ten minutes the three are tranquilly discussing Cub- 
ism and a new round of demi-brunes. The audience, 
who have gazed on the entire comedy with keen but 
quite impartial interest, shrug their shoulders, light 
fresh cigarettes, and return to their papers and pens. 
Since the first start of surprise, there has not been a 
murmur among them; only complete concentration 
on the drama, which the next minute they as com- 
pletely forget. 

There are a dozen such scenes a day, in one's wan- 
dering about Paris ; that is, a dozen scenes as sudden, 
as intense, and as quickly over. The every-day life 
of the people is so vivid, of such swift and varied con- 
trast, that the theatre itself, to satisfy them, must 
overreach into melodrama before it rouses. I believe 
that no other city in the world, unless it be the next 
most dramatic. New York, could support a theatre 
like the Grand Guignol for example. I have seen 
there, in one evening, gruesomely realistic representa- 
tions of a plague scene in India ; the destruction of a 



118 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

submarine, with all the crew on board; and the oper- 
ating-room of a hospital, where a woman is unneces- 
sarily murdered to pay the surgeon's wife's hat bill. 

The French imagination, turned loose on drama- 
tic situations, is Uke a cannibal before a peck of mis- 
sionaries; only instead of eating 'em alive, the 
Frenchman makes them live — and diabolically ac- 
curate. But not for the doubtful interest of 
studying French psychology through its horrors, shall 
we end our day by a visit to the Guignol. Nor yet 
to the Frangais or the Odeon, as we are a bit tired to 
follow Moliere or Racine tonight. What do you say 
to looking in at the cheerful rowdyism of the Moulin 
Rouge, and then on for a bite at one of the restau- 
rants on "the Hill"? It would never do for you, as a 
self-respecting American, to leave Paris without 
properly "doing" Montmartre; and as for me, I want 
to prove to you my assertion that Montmartre exists 
for and off visiting strangers like ourselves. 

Let us make short work of the 3Ioulin therefore 
— which is neither more nor less raw than the rest of 
the varietes prepared for foreign consumption — and 
go on up to the Place Pigalle; to the racket and 
ribaldry of the Cafe Royal. Other night-restaurants 
make some pretense of silver-gilding their vulgarity; 
the Ahhaye and the Rat Mort have their diamond 
dust of luxury to throw into one's eyes. But the 
Royal is unadulterated Montmartre: the girls, most 
of them, shabby — their rouge put on without art; 
the harsh red coats of the tziganes seemingly made of 



THE CURTAIN RISES 119 

paper, and their songs lacking even the thinnest 
veneer of French wit. 

In the small low room upstairs fresh air is left be- 
hind by those who enter. Instead, the heavy-scented 
powder of the dancing girls, the sweet sickening 
perfume of great baskets of roses on sale, and the 
pervading odour of lobster, combine to assail us as 
we steer through the crowded room to a table. These 
last are arranged in the familiar hollow square round 
the wall, leaving a cleared space in the centre for 
dancers. 

We order supper, and then look about us. It is 
still a different world from the many we have seen 
today: a world of "wire-pulled automatons," who 
laugh dead laughter, and sing dead tuneless songs, 
in their clock-work dance of pleasure. There is a 
sinister host of these puppet-people: girls of seven- 
teen and eighteen, with the hard, settled features of 
forty; Englishmen, very red and embarrassed, 
blatantly over for a "larky weed-end"; next them a 
mere baby of fourteen, with sleek curls to her shoul- 
ders, and a slazy blue frock to her knees — chattering 
shrilly to the Polish Jew with the pasty white face, 
and the three pasty-white necks rolling over his collar. 
Yonder, a group of Brazilians, most of them very 
boys, who have captured the prettiest danseuse and 
carried her off for champagne ; beyond them, torpid- 
eyed Germans seeking shatzkinder, and American 
drummers by the dozen — their feet on the bar-rail, 
their hats on the back of their heads, grinning half 



120 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

sheepishly like nasty little boys on a forbidden hol- 
iday. 

Well, does it amuse you — this "typical slice of 
French life," as the guidebooks label it? And what 
of the dances — but, rather than look at them, let us 
talk to this girl who is passing. She seems different 
from the rest, in her dark "tailor-made" and plain 
white shirt; among the satin and tinsel of the other 
women, her costume and her white, almost trans- 
parent face cry attention to themselves by very mod- 
esty. Perhaps she will talk real talk; occasionally — 
when she finds she has nothing to gain as marionette 
— one of them will. 

We ask her to have some champagne. Noncha- 
lantly she accepts, and sits down. Is she new at the 
Royal? is the leading question. Oh no, she has been 
coming here for nearly a year. But this gentleman 
is new. (quickly) ? You reply, with a certain intona- 
tion, that you will always be "new" — ^that you will not 
come again. She sends you a searching side-glance 
— and understands. 

The preliminaries clearly disposed of, we get to 
the meat of things ; baldly and with no apology, now 
that we have thrown down our hand. What is she 
doing here? Can't she find a better place? Has she 
no family to help her? 

She smiles, flicks the ash from her cigarette. But 
yes, she has a family : a blind mother, two little sisters, 
and a half-witted brother. She is sole bread-winner 
for the lot. As for this place — a shrug, laconic, un- 
resentful, as she throws a glance round the murky 



THE CURTAIN RISES 121 

room — it is not chiCj true it is second-rate; but the 
commissions are good, and clothes here do not cost 
much, and — "the simple fact," says she, gazing 
quietly over our shoulder into the glass, is, "that to 
work any trade successfully, one must have the 
proper tools. I was young, or I should have thought 
of that before I began." 

You gasp, under your breath. This French girl, 
when she draws aside the curtain, draws it to reveal — 
with terrible sincerity — a thin white face. She tells 
no tale of an attempt to live "honestly," of pitiful 
struggles as dressmaker, shop-girl, and the rest of the 
sentimental dodges. She bares her tragedy simply 
as only a French person can; and it is that she has 
not the proper tools ! 

You mumble something meant to be consoling, 
and shamefacedly slip a louis under her plate. She 
accepts it with no trumped-up emotion, but a frank 
"mercir And evidently fearing to bore us, moves 
away with the nonchalance characteristic of her type. 

When she is gone, we are suddenly aware of want- 
ing to leave. For, among the grinning ghosts, reality 
has passed; touching with her grim wand the pup- 
pets, to show them as naked souls — each with its un- 
covered reason. So seen, they send a shudder through 
us : the baby-faced girl in her blue frock, now sleepily 
batting kohl from her eyes in desperate effort to re- 
main amusing; the dancing-girls ^vith their high ner- 
vous laughter; the set, determined smiles of the 
better-dressed cocottes: it is the artist playing in the 
meanest of all theatres, the artist born without the 



182 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

"proper tools," or who lost hers, but playing stoically 
to the end. 

And the tziganes are twanging deafening accom- 
paniment on their guitars, and shouting "Patita" at 
the top of their execrable voices ; and smoke and the 
thick smell of sauces and the scent of the women's 
sachet hangs in sickening haze through the place. 
Let us go — let us flee from it ! For this is not Paris ; 
it is the harlot's house : and that is the loathsome prop- 
erty of the universe. 

We rush from it out into the silent street — the air 
strikes sharp and fresh upon our faces. For it rains, 
a pearly mist, and the thousand lights make rainbows 
on the flat wet flags of paving. We hail a cab, but 
leave the top open to the grateful dampish cool ; and 
glide away down the slippery hill into what looks 
like dawn. 

But it is only other lights — mist-veiled, and gleam- 
ing more intimately now; like the gems of a woman 
who has gone to her boudoir, but not yet taken off her 
jewels. The woman calls, softly. Can you keep 
yourself from answering? You may have your loy- 
alty to faithful London, the Comrade ; you may burn 
your reverential candle before the mystic vestal, 
Rome ; or shout yourself hoarse before the triumph of 
New York, the star: but can you resist the tugging, 
glowing, multiple allurement of everyman's One 
Woman, Paris? 

Can you go back over this night when her jewels 
flashed for you into the Seine, when the rich rumble 
of her voice called to you across the bridges, when the 



THE CURTAIN RISES 123 

cool, sweet smell and the throb and cling of her were 
for you — you; and not thrill to her and yearn for her, 
as men in spite of their inconstancy have thrilled and 
yearned and come back to One out of all the rest, 
throughout the history of women? 

I hope that you cannot. For, as you return again 
and again, the "make-up" of the woman fades; the 
great artist lays aside the cautious mask, steps down 
from the stage, and for you becomes that greatest of 
all: a simple human being. 



Ill 

THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 

(Vienna) 



THE PLAYHOUSE 

To see Vienna properly, one should be eighteen, 
and a young person of good looks and discretion. 
Patsy was all this, and I, being Patsy's uncle, was al- 
lowed my first peep at the j oiliest of cities through 
her lunettes de rose. It was a bleak, grey morning 
in January — with the mercury at several degrees be- 
low zero — when we rattled through the quiet streets 
to our hotel. 

"Ugh!" said Patsy, some three minutes after we 
had left the station, "what a horrid dreary place!" 

I suggested deprecatingly that places had a fash- 
ion of so appearing at ten after seven in the morning. 

"Yes, but look at those great, gloomy buildings 
and you know, Uncle Peter, you always say that what 
people build betrays what they are." 

"Dear me, Patsy, do I say that?" It is alarming 
to be confronted with one's platitudes before break- 
fast! 

"Yes (emphatically). Well, I think that, if the 
Viennese are like their architecture, they must be ap- 
pallingly dull!" And Patsy wraps her furs and an air 
of bitter disappointment round her, and subsides into 
silence. 

127 



128 THE MECCAS OF THE WOULD 

I am secretly apprehensive. To carry off a young 
lady of capricious fancy and unquestionable loveli- 
ness, from the thick of the balls and parties of her 
first season, under oath that she shall enjoy even 
giddier gayety in the Austrian Carnival; and to be- 
hold her gravely displeased with the very bricks and 
stones of the place — you will admit the situation 
called for anxiety. 

I did what I always do in such a case, and with such 
a young lady: fed her — as delectable and extensive a 
breakfast as I could command; and then sent for a 
young man. To be exact, I had taken this latter pre- 
caution two or three days before, being not unac- 
quainted with Patsy's psychology and predilections. 
The young man arrived — an officer (it is always best 
to get an officer when one can) of no mean propor- 
tions in his dashing blue uniform and smart helmet. 
I introduced him to Patsy as the son of my friend 

Count H , former minister to the United States. 

Patsy smiled — as Patsy can, and gave him a dainty 
three fingers. Captain Max clicked his heels together, 
bowed from his magnificent waist, and kissed her 
hand with an impressive: "Icli liabe die Elire, gnddige 
fi'dideinr And we went to watch Guard Change in 
the Burg. 

It is fascinating enough in itself, this old court- 
yard with its many gates, and weather-beaten walls 
surrounding the residence of the Hapsburg princes; 
and when filled with the Emperor's Guards, in their 
grey and scarlet, and the rousing music of the royal 
band — to say nothing of that fierce white-whiskered 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 129 

old presence in the window above, surrounded by his 
brilliant gentlemen — I assure you it can thrill the 
heart of even an uncle ! 

Nowhere as in this ancient stronghold, under the 
gaze of those stern, shaggy-browed old eyes, does the 
tragic history of Austria so haunt one. Admitting 
only the figures and episodes of the life of this pres- 
ent Emperor, one is assailed by the memory of 
Elizabeth — his Empress — and her shameful assassi- 
nation at Geneva; the ghastly mystery of the death of 
Crown Prince Rudolf, the one son of the ill-starred 
royal pair; and the hardships and struggles of Maria 
Christina (the Emperor's sister) in Spain, and the 
terrible murder of his brother Maximilian — sent 
forth in splendour to be Emperor of JNIexico, but 
marked for death from the first. One sees the desolate 
mad figure of his widow shut within the wild beauty 
of Castle Mirmar, and wonders only how the Em- 
peror himself can have escaped her fate. Bereft of his 
beautiful wife, the son he idolized, the brother he him- 
self unknowingly sent to his destruction, Francis 
Joseph of Austria is at once the most solitary and in- 
domitable personality among the rulers of the world 
today. Never, through all his misfortunes, has his 
iron pride given way to complaint or regret; and 
never has he confessed himself beaten. 

At the age of eighty- four, he still sits erect in his 
saddle, and commands with characteristic imperious 
fire. The people sometimes laugh at his eccentricities, 
and are impatient of his old-fashioned ideas on cer- 
tain things, but the tone in which they pronounce his 



130 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

title, "Unser Kaiser," conveys their acceptance of his 
divine right as the pivot of their universe. In the 
recent war of the Balkan Allies, when the progres- 
sive Austrian party under Archduke Ferdinand 
clamoured against the conservative policy of the 
crown, the great mass of the people stood loyally by 
the Emperor — and so perhaps were saved the horrors 
and draining expense of a war of their own. 

Austria is always in a ferment of one kind or an- 
other, composite as she is of half a dozen distinct and 
antagonistic strains of blood that have yet to be really 
amalgamated; but her Grand Old Man does his best 
to keep peace between his Slavs and Hungarians, 
Bohemians and Poles — and generally succeeds. He 
loves the pomp attached to his imperial prerogative, 
and is never so happy as when the centre of some elab- 
orate ceremonial in one of his kingdoms. It tickles 
his vanity always to have extravagant precautions 
taken for his safety; and on the days when he drives 
to Schonbrunn (his favourite country residence) two 
plain clothes men and two uniformed guards are sta- 
tioned at every block of the entire way from the Burg 
to the palace. Punctuality is another of his strong 
points; he departs or arrives on the dot of the hour 
appointed, and demands the same exactness of the 
officials and detectives along the road. 

With all his dignity, he is an old person with a 
temper, and an obstinacy hard to subdue. During one 
of his recent illnesses he absolutely refused to be 
shaved; also, what was more important, to eat. The 
entire palace was in despair, when Mademoiselle 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 131 

Z arrived one afternoon on her daily visit. She is 

a homely lady (formerly a great actress) of almost as 
many years as the Emperor, and comes every day 
to play chess with him. When she heard of his stub- 
borness on this particular occasion, she marched into 
the imperial presence with a bowl of soup and some 
biscuits, and called out: "Come, Franz Joseph, don't 
be a fool! Sit up and eat." 

The Emperor gave her one furious look — and 
obeyed; afterwards meekly suffering himself to be 
shaved and put in proper order as an invalid. He and 
the doughty old artiste have been close friends for 
forty years, and he is fond of remarking that there is 
one woman in the world who makes up in brains what 
she lacks in features. I should like to see the two 
shrewd old heads over their chess. 

Instead, I must remember my responsibilities, and 
come back to Patsy and her hauptmann. He is 
bending towards her solicitously; suggesting a walk 
in the Garden, a cup of chocolate at Demel's, the 
concert at the Volksgarten after lunch, perhaps in 
the evening some skating at his club? Patsy finds 
time to whisper to me that she thinks the Viennese 
not too dull, after all. She hears they even have balls 
— masked balls, in fancy dress, on the ice. Doesn't 
Uncle Peter think waltzing on ice sounds rather 
nice? 

Uncle Peter, who has rheumatism, feebly agrees 
that it does sound very nice ; and falls into his proper 
background as chaperone, while the young people 
dart ahead down the narrow street to the Garden. 



132 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

Here, in the fashionable short promenade, an exhila- 
rating sense of prosperity fills the air. There is the 
soft elegance of furs, the scent of violets, the occa- 
sional gleam of scarlet lining an officer's picturesque 
white cloak ; brilliant shops draw their knots of pretty 
women to the windows, well set-up men stroll by in 
long fur coats or drive their own superb horses to and 
fro : all is easy, gay and care- free, betokening an idle 
happiness. 

"And there are no beggars," sighs Patsy con- 
tentedly, "I am glad of that!" 

It is true — and rather extraordinary for a city of 
almost two million inhabitants ; but, on the surface at 
least, there seem to be no actually poor people in 
Vienna. The more one knows the place the more one 
is impressed with the fact that, while the upper classes 
are extravagant and show-loving, the lower seem to 
have imbibed a spirit of cheerful thrift which keeps 
them from real poverty. They have enough to eat 
and to wear, and for an occasional bit of pleasure; 
what more, their good-humoured faces seem to ask, 
could they want? 

Only the very wealthy Viennese can afford a 
house to himself. The great majority of people rent 
a story, or half a story, of the huge residence build- 
ings that give the city its montonously gloomy look. 
Row after row of these line the streets, all the same 
height and the same style; but in no way do they re- 
semble the typical "apartments" of England, Amer- 
ica or France. Each dwelling in itself is the size of a 
house of moderate dimensions, with its own inner 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 133 

stairways and separate floors. There are certain con- 
veniences in the arrangement, hut I cannot say I find 
it on the whole satisfactory. One has constantly the 
feeling of having strayed into a public building to 
eat and sleep ; which causes one to do both under a de- 
pressing sense of apology. 

The people unconsciously admit this lack of home 
attraction by their incessant attendance at cafes. 
While the Frenchman or the Spaniard spends an hour 
a day in his favourite cafe, chatting with friends, the 
Viennese spends an entire morning, afternoon or 
evening — or all three. Coffee or chocolate with 
whipped cream (the famous Wiener Melange) is the 
usual drink with which he pays for his seat, and the 
illustrated papers that are his obsession. He, or 
JNladame his friend, will remain in a comfortable 
corner of the window hour after hour, reading and 
smoking, smoking and reading; only looking up to 
sip chocolate, or to stare at some newcomer. The 
cafe, also the constant cigarette-smoking, is as much 
a habit with the women of Vienna as with the men. 
And one is not surprised to hear that there are over 
six hundred of these (literally) "coffee-houses" in 
the city, and that all of them are continually full. 

Some of the larger establishments provide excel- 
lent music — and here we are fingering the edges of 
Viennese character and culture: next to (or along 
with) love of gayety go a love and understanding 
of music, that amounts almost to a passion. Besides 
the cafe concerts, there are military concerts, phil- 
harmonic concerts and symphony concerts; to say 



184 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

1 lothing of the host of notable recitals crowding one 
another for attention. 

One is struck bj^ the enormous and enthusiastic 
patronage given to these affairs, each and all. In 
Anglo-Saxon countries the ventures of a concert- 
manager are at best precarious, and, in spite of the 
high price of tickets, frequently result in a dead loss. 
An Anglo-Saxon audience is tepid, for both music 
and drama, being roused to fervour not by either art 
in itself, but only by a great name made actual upon 
the stage. In Germany music is a religion; in 
Vienna there is added a fire and dash which make it 
no less pure, while more seductive. From operette to 
concerto, the Viennese run the gamut of musical ex- 
pression, in every phase pre-eminent. 

Nor have they an ounce of the artistic snobbish- 
ness made fashionable by peoples with whom music 
is an acquired taste rather than an instinct. They are 
as frank in enjoyment of "The Merry Widow" as 
of a Strauss recital with the master conducting; be- 
cause they regard each as a high art unto itself. 
There is no aristocracy of music, and so there is no 
commercialism to degrade it. One may hear grand 
opera from an excellent seat for fifty cents; or the 
Philharmonic Orchestra, with Weingartner conduct- 
ing, for the same price. The secret of the whole sys- 
tem is that to the Viennese good music is not a 
luxury, but food and drink and essential to life; and 
therefore to be had by everyone. 

Concert audiences are attentive to a degree, and 
during the performance the slightest disturbing sound 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 135 

is sternly hissed. This is true even in the public 
parks where the people listen in crowds to the fine 
military bands that play every day. While at the 
Volksgarten (frequented by the middle classes and 
by nobility as well) Patsy was crushed on her first 
afternoon by the stertorous rebuke of a wicncrische 
dowager, because the child removed her gloves during 
the overture ! 

"Disagreeable old thing," grumbled Patsy, when 
it was finished, "doesn't she know I can't hear with 
my gloves on?" 

Captain Max, in a tumult of perturbation over the 
episode, solemnly suggested that he convey this un- 
happy fact to the good lady. But Patsy's naughty 
mouth was twitching at the corners, and she said she 
had rather he ordered chocolate. She has a conscience 
somewhere, has Patsy; in spite of being a pretty 
woman. 

We drank our delicious brew of Melange be- 
tween Beethoven and Bach, and had another after 
the Schiunann Symphony — being seated like every- 
one else at one of the little tables that fill the Volks- 
garten. This is under cover in winter, and three times 
a week indoor classical concerts are held, under the 
direction of the leading conductors. Ladies bring 
their crochet, young girls their gallants; and during 
the intermissions it is a lively scene, when tables are 
pushed together, waiters hurry to and fro with the 
creamy chocolate, or big frothing seidels of Miinch- 
ener, and conversation and good cheer hum all round. 

Let the orchestra reappear, however, and there is 



136 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

silence — so prompt as to be almost comical. Sen- 
tences are left unfinished, chairs are hastily and noise- 
lessly shoved back, and the buzzing crowd of two 
minutes ago is still as a pin; alert for the first note 
of music. The tickets for these symphonious feasts 
cost thirty cents, but the audience could not show 
more devoted attention (or get finer return) if they 
had paid five dollars. 

Here, as everywhere in Vienna, one is impressed 
with the good looks and attractiveness of the people 
in general. In their careful grooming and prevailing 
air of prosperity, they bear a distinct resemblance to 
Americans; and one may go deeper under the sur- 
face and find a reason for this in the highly complex 
mixture of race in both nations. There is the same 
tall, rather aggressive build among the men ; the same 
piquant features, bright hair and pretty colouring 
among the women of the two countries. And, to go 
further, there is the same supreme fondness for dress 
and outward show, that results in reckless extrava- 
gance. 

With the Viennese, however, this trait is not sub- 
jective — i. e. to create a personal impression — but 
simply part and parcel of the central aim of their 
existence: to have a good time, and enjoy life to the 
fullest. They are by no means a people with a pur- 
pose, like Americans; they have neither the desire, 
nor the shrewdness, nor the ambition to make some- 
thing remarkable of themselves. Rather do they 
frolic through life like thoughtless children; laugh- 
ing, crying, falling down and picking themselves up 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 137 

— only to fall again ; but always good-natured, kindly 
and gay, with a happy-go-lucky cheerfulness that 
is very appealing as well as contagious whilst one is 
among them. 

There is none of the studied courtesy of the Paris- 
ian, nor yet his studied elegance; but a bright spon- 
taneity both in outward effect and natural manner, 
which shows itself in many captivating little customs 
of everyday. Take for instance the pretty fashion of 
kissing a lady's hand: in France this is confined to 
occasions of ceremony, and so creates at once an 
atmosphere of the formal; in Vienna it is the ordi- 
nary expression of joyous welcome, so that even the 
shop-keepers, on the entrance of a lady customer, ex- 
claim : "Kuss die Hand, gnddige Frau!" While to a 
gentleman they declare: "I have the honour (to 
greet you) meinherr!" 

Everyone is anxious to please, and quick to help 
the stranger in his struggles with language. As in 
Bavaria, the German spoken is softened of its orig- 
inal starchiness; so that mddchen becomes mddl, bis- 
chen bissell, etc. Strict Hanoverians scorn such 
vandalism, but in the mouth of the gentler-tongued 
Southerners it is very pretty. The "low dialect" of 
the people, that is, the typical wienerisch, is an ap- 
palling jargon quite incomprehensible to the for- 
eigner. But kindliness, the language spoken by one 
and all of the warm-hearted Viennese, is everywhere 
recognized and appreciated. 

Patsy assures me that, even in their impertinences, 
the young blades of the town are never crass; but 



138 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

show, rather, a lively humour and child-like interest 
in the lady of their admiration. I well remember that 
first evening, after the hauptmann had left us, when 
my niece told me seriously that she was convinced of 
the grave libel cast on Austrians as a whole and 
Austrian officers in particular. 

"You know, Uncle Peter," says she, swinging to 
my arm, as we enter our hotel, "they say they are hor- 
rid and dissipated, and will take the first opportunity 
to say shocking things to a girl. But I think they are 
far too clever for that, besides too fine. I am sure 
they know what one is, the minute they look at one; 
and behave accordingly. Don't you," adds Patsy 
anxiously, "think so too. Uncle Peter?" 

"Perhaps, perhaps," I return dubiously, "but 
there's their architecture, you know. You can't get 
round that. What people build — " 

A slim hand is clapped over my mouth. And, 
"you are to remember please," says Patsy severely, 
"we are talking now not of architects but of offi- 
cers." 

It was true. And, singularly, we have been talk- 
ing of them a good deal ever since. 



II 

THE PLAYERS WHO NEVER GROW OLD 

Not many days after our establishment in the 
Carnival City, Patsy had her first experience with the 
smart "masher" and his unique httle game. I being 
by no means bred to chaperoning, and in all respects, 
besides, immorally modern, allowed the young lady 
to go round the corner to a sweet-shop unaccom- 
panied. She came back with a high colour instead of 
caramels, and — no, there is no way of softening it — 
she was giggling. 

Patsy never giggles unless something scandalous 
has happened. "What's the matter?" I asked, in- 
stantly alarmed. 

She tumbled into a chair, laughing helplessly. 
"The — the funniest thing," she began, gasping. 

"A man, I suppose?" 

Patsy stopped laughing, and regarded me ad- 
miringly. "What an analyst you are, Uncle Peter! 
Yes, of course a man; but — " 

"Did he follow you — did he speak to you?" I 
may be modern, but I had one eye on my hat and 
overcoat. 

Patsy giggled again. "No — oh no, Uncle Peter. 

139 



140 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

He didn't follow me, he went ahead of me ; and, when 
I reached the corner, there he was standing, hat in 
hand, with the most injured air — as though our ap- 
pointment was for half past two and I had kept him 
waiting quite an hour ! His expression was perfectly 
heavenly — plaintive resignation just giving way to 
radiant delight — I can't think how he managed it on 
such short notice. Probably by extensive practice be- 
fore the glass. 

Anyhow, there was one moment of awful appre- 
hension for him, just as I came up; and then — the 
most crestfallen disappointment you can imagine. 
He had arranged everything so considerately and 
subtly for me, and I, all unconscious of him, passed 
on ! I didn't dare look back, but out of the tail of my 
eye I could see his chagrin as I disappeared — into the 
side entrance of the hotel. All that art gone for noth- 
ing I suppose he thought ; and to be begun over again 
at the next corner," added Patsy, who is a young 
woman of rather terrible discernment, at times. 

"But it is nice of them not to speak, isn't it?" she 
said. "It shows how really clever they are. No Eng- 
lishman or Frenchman of the same er — proclivities 
would have been as subtle." 

Nor as dangerous, thinks Uncle Peter to himself, 
with a promise to curb his modernity for the future. 
It is all very amusing, this manoeuvre of the flirta- 
tious Viennese male; and, since Patsy's encounter, I 
have seen it so many times as to know it to be typical ; 
but in its very refinement lies its evil. If the Aus- 
trian, even in his vices, were not so free from crudity 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 141 

— so transparently naive, his attraction would be 
halved — if not lost entirely. But Patsy was right in 
her surmise that he can place a woman at a glance; 
and if he ventures to lead her a bit further than her 
looks suggest, and than he afterwards finds possible, 
he is quick to realize his mistake and if he can to make 
reparation. 

As a student, like his German cousin, he lives in 
frank unmorality. There are thousands of students 
in Vienna — students at the universities, medical stu- 
dents, music students — each with his schatzkind, who 
often shares his studies as well as his garret. This 
thoroughly cosmopolitan set of young people plays 
a distinct part in the free and easy jollity of the city 
as a whole. You see them in the streets and cafes, in 
the topmost gallery at the Opera, and forming en- 
thusiastic groups at all concerts; their shabby velve- 
teens a nice contrast with their vivid, impressionable 
faces. 

During Carnival they are natural leaders in the 
routs and festivities ; this entire season is for them one 
rollicking fancy-dress ball. They may go hungry, 
but they can always arrange a new and clever cos- 
tume; and one meets them coming home arm-in-arm 
through the dusk, carrying bulky parcels and hum- 
ming the waltz from the latest o^^erette. They smile 
at everybody, and everybody smiles back, and un- 
consciously starts humming too. Patsy says there is 
something about dusk, and big packages, and soft- 
falling snow that makes one hum. I feared from the 



142 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

first that this was a demorahzing atmosphere for 
Patsy. 

It would have been different if we hadn't known 
people. But we did know people — a delightful hand- 
ful, eager to lavish their boundless hospitality on the 
wunderschones mddl. And then there was Captain 
Max, whose marvellous uniforms and crisp black 
moustache soon became as familiar to our hotel as 
the bow of the head waiter. Two or three days after 
our arrival, Captain Max and his mother took Patsy 
to her first Viennese ball. I stayed at home to nurse 
my rheumatism, which the freezing temperature and 
constant snow had not improved. But I was waiting 
by our sitting-room fire to "hear all about it," when 
Patsy returned at half past three — her arms full of 
roses, her auburn head less strictly coiff ed than when 
she sallied forth. 

"Oh, Uncle Peter!" She kissed me at her fa- 
vourite angle somewhere behind the ear, and sank 
into a cushion with her chiffons like a flower into its 
petals. 

"Well, well, did you amuse yourself? The 
Countess wasn't difficult?" 

"She was a duck! (I should no more think of 
apologizing for Patsy's English than for her re- 
trousse nose. Both, as my French friend says, in- 
trigue me infinitely.) She danced harder than 
anyone, and lieher Himmel/' says Patsy with a gusty 
sigh, "how they do dance! But I'll begin at the be- 
ginning and tell you everything. 

"Of course you know it was this club Captain Max 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 143 

belongs to, and that they dance every month in the 
ball-rooms of the different hotels. There are only 
thirty or forty members in the club, so it's nice and 
small — not one of those herd affairs. Most of the 
people had arrived before us, and were sitting in the 
galleries round the ball-room; and before ever the 
dancing began. Uncle Peter, they all were eating and 
drinking things. The galleries are raised by just a 
few steps from the floor of the room itself, and there 
are lots of tables where continuous supper goes on — 
really, one is expected to eat something between 
every two dances. 

"Fancy, Uncle Peter, one is busily dissecting a 
quail when one's partner appears; one finishes the 
waltz, and returns to take another bite, only to be 
interrupted again, and carried off. It is provoking! 
But the tables are convenient as an anchor to steer for 
and much more fun for the chaperones, I should 
think, than those dreary chairs against the wall, at 
home. 

"I haven't told you the appalling ordeal of actu- 
ally arriving, however. Every girl with her escort, 
must walk the length of the ball-room alone, while 
the lucky ones who are already settled in the gallery 
l^ass judgment on one's frock, coiffure and all the 
rest. Captain Max hadn't warned me, and when I 
found myself under that battery of lorgnettes and 
monocles I was petrified. I knew that my train was 
a fright, and every pin in my hair about to fall; but 
somehow I got across that terrible expanse of slip- 
pery floor, and to our table. 



144 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

"The Countess's sister was there — the one who 
called on Sunday you know — and her son and daugh- 
ter, such a pretty girl, Uncle Peter! Black hair and 
creamy skin — of course the whole family shows the 
Hungarian strain — and a delicious frock just to her 
ankles. It seems all the young girls here wear short 
dresses for dancing, and so they don't have that 
draggled look we get with our trains. Everyone at 
the table, including the women, rose during introduc- 
tions; and of course all the men kissed one's hand. 
Then they brought dozens of other men. Captain 
JMax says there are always three times as man}^ as 
there are girls at these dances — and I met such a lot 
that for the rest of the evening I had no idea whom 
I knew and whom I didn't. 

"We began to dance directly, and oh, my dear, the 
Vienna waltz! I've seen it on the stage, and it looked 
easy — just standing in one spot and whirling round; 
but when one actually attempted it — ! At first I was 
so dizzy, I could only hold up my train and keep my 
feet going. I know now all the sensations of a top 
when it's spun at full speed, and never allowed to die 
down. But, after a while, I regained sufficient con- 
sciousness to catch the little step they take on the 
second step, and then it was easier. There's a sort 
of swing to it, too, that's rather fascinating; and 
Captain Max does do it well." 

Patsy, on her cushion, gazed into the fire — then at 
the roses in her lap. "Ahem!" I coughed, as an 
uncle will when the clock points to four of the dawn. 
"You were saying?" 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 145 

"Oh! — yes. Well, the music of course was heav- 
enly ; one could have danced to it all night, as most of 
them do here. The Frau Grafin said hardly anyone 
goes home before six in the morning, and some at 
eight! That is why the Viennese laugh at their own 
custom of paying the porter twenty hellers for open- 
ing the door after half past ten; they all come home 
in the morning, after the house is unlocked again ! 

"But I couldn't have kept it up any longer. Uncle 
Peter. In the first place you are never allowed to 
sit out a dance, not even part of one. The minute 
you drop into a chair out of sheer weariness, some one 
comes and clicks his heels together, bows profoundly, 
and off you have to go with him. Then they have a 
habit of breaking in, that is convenient at times, and 
annoying at others. All the men who have no par- 
ners stand in the middle of the room, and when you 
have had a round or two with one person, another 
very courteously but firmly stops you and claims his 
turn. In this way, each dance is divided between four 
or five men. It's all very well when you don't like 
your partner of the moment, but — " 

Patsy again was looking at her yellow roses. 
"There are disadvantages?" I suggested. 

"Yes. Oh, several kinds of disadvantages. Uncle 
Peter. INIost of my dances were silent as the grave. 
I would say, 'you speak English?' JVIy partner would 
reply, 'alas, fraulein, a few words only. But you, 
surely j^ou speak German?' 'Unfortunately, not at 
all.' Then dead silence. But they are all kindness in 
trying to understand, and everyone wants to learn our 



146 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

way of waltzing — "^so langsam/ they say wonder- 
ingly. When Captain Max and I tried it, so that I 
might get a Httle rest, all the others stopped dancing 
and watched the performance. Then every man I 
met wanted me to teach him — they are just like chil- 
dren over something new. 

"Poor Uncle Peter, you're yawning. Only let me 
tell you about the other dances, and then you can go 
to bed. There were two quadrilles, not the old-fash- 
ioned kind, but quite like cotillon figures — really 
charming. They showed the prettty costumes of the 
girls and the uniforms of the officers to much 
better advantage than the round dances do. Then 
there was a terrible thing called the Polka Schnell — 
faster even than the regular waltz, and that makes 
one giddy to watch. But the Countess and all the 
chaperones threw themselves into it as madly as the 
younger ones, and weren't in the least out of breath 
at the end. I believe Viennese women never grow 
old. They seem to have as good a time at sixty as at 
sixteen, and to be as popular. 

"After the second quadrille, we had 'supper' — 
though we'd been eating, as I told you, all evening, 
But now we sat down formally to chicken and salad, 
cakes of all sorts and cheese and beer. It was a funny 
supper, wasn't it, Uncle Peter? I suppose they'd 
sniff at our champagne and ices; they like a sub- 
stantial meal. The dance immediately after supper is 
Ladies' Choice, and it's amusing to watch the frantic 
efforts of each man to engage the favour of his par- 
ticular divinity. They lean against a pillar and stare 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 147 

into one's eyes with the most despairing gaze, looking 
anxiously meanwhile to see if one holds their bouquet. 
I forgot to tell you the pretty custom they have of 
bringing one roses and violets all during the evening. 
The men have great baskets of flowers in their dress- 
ing-room, and hurry to and fro with posies for the 
ladies they admire. By the time you are ready to 
go home, you have quite an imposing collection." 

"All of one colour, it seems," I observed inno- 
cently, as Patsy herself stifled a yawn, and rose re- 
gretfully from her cushioned nest. 

"Oh," said Patsy with immoderate indifl*erence, 
"they're all in my room — the violets and everything. 
These" — looking down at Captain Max's roses — "I 
must have forgotten these!" she decides with a bril- 
liant smile. "Goodnight, Uncle Peter — you're rather 
a dear." 

That settled it; as any properly trained uncle 
would have known. When a healthy young woman 
begins to call her moth-eaten male relatives by en- 
dearing names, it is time to lock the stable door — or 
at least to realize one's temerity in having opened it 
in the first place. But, as Patsy's mother, from her 
severe infancy, has told me, I am most improperly 
trained; so I hastened to accept an invitation from 
Countess H , bidding my niece and me to a skat- 
ing party at her son's rink next evening. 

Every true Viennese has his private rink mem- 
bership, as he has his other clubs, and is an expert 
skater. All afternoon and evening the various skat- 
ing resorts are crowded with devotees of the graceful 



148 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

sport; which is held, by the way, out of doors — the 
large rinks being simply walled in from the street. 
Captain Max's is of quite imposing proportions, a 
very different affair from the cramped, stuffy "ice- 
l^alace" of Paris or London. There is a building, to 
be sure, but this is merely for the garde-rohe and the 
inevitable refreshment rooms. The skating takes 
place on the vast field of ice outside. 

At night this is brilliantly illuminated with parti- 
coloured Hghts, and the scene during Carnival — when 
the skaters are frequently in fancy-dress — is fascinat- 
ing beyond description. As I first saw it, gipsies 
were gliding over the ice with pierrots, geisha girls 
with pierrettes; Arabs in the ghostly burnous swept 
past with Indians, painted and feathered, and a whole 
regiment of Rough Riders swooped down upon them, 
with blood-thirsty yells. A wonderful polar bear 
(under his skin a lieutenant of cavalry) lumbered 
about with his friend an elephant; and devils, ballet- 
girls (by day perfect gentlemen), toreros and joc- 
keys, frisked from one end of the rink to the other — 
while one of the two seductive Viennese bands was 
always plajdng. 

Patsy at last saw dancing on the ice, and lost her 
heart once for all to this marvellous accomplishment. 
When Captain IMax, in his subduing red-and-black 
Mephistopheles costume, begged her to try it, she 
clapped her hands like a child and flew with him to a 
quieter corner of the rink where he might teach her 
the difficult gyrations. Before the evening was over 
she was waltzing delightedly in the centre, with the 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 149 

best of them. I struggle not to dote, but I must set 
down here that I have seen few sights as alluring as 
that young witch, in her bright Cossack's jacket and 
trim skirt, gliding and whirling in the slippery dance ; 
with the maze of other brilliant costumes round her, 
the fairy lights overhead, and in the air the lilt and 
thrill of a Vienna waltz. 

When we went into the pavilion later for some- 
thing hot, I noticed with amazement how many of the 
pierrots had grey hair under their caps, and how 
many of the geisha girls and pierrettes were ad- 
dressed as "mother." "But certainly I" said our 
charming Frau Grafin with spirit. "Because they 
have children, are they dead? Because they have gone 
through much trial in life, are they to mope in a 
corner and know none of life's joy? Pardon me, hon- 
ored meinherVj if I suggest that they are not as old as 
some of your American young people of twenty!" 

I saw that we had fallen on a tender subject with 
the delightful lady ; who, herself the mother of a boy 
of twenty-eight, is (as Patsy remarked) quite as 
lively as any girl of sixteen. And who, if I remem- 
ber rightly, was rather harshly criticised thereupon 
at the time of her residence in Washington. She had 
certainly a just revenge in her own criticism of the 
blase, weary American youth of today; and the con- 
trast between him and the Viennese of middle age or 
even advanced years as other nations number them. 
Fresh, vif, alert with interest for everything, and time 
for everything as well, the Austrians may be children 



150 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

to the end of their days; but they are wise children, 
who stay young by design, not by incapacity. 

As we have said before, they are so entirely un- 
self-conscious that they never fear making fools of 
themselves ; and, in consequence, do not do so. Young 
and mature, they throw themselves into everything, 
with a whole-hearted abandon that in itself stimu- 
lates a like enthusiasm in all about them. They are 
each other's currents of energy that is never ex- 
hausted, but always procreative. And nothing is too 
much trouble. They will take infinite pains, and go 
to any amount of expense, to help towards the suc- 
cess of the smallest festivity, while their thought and 
generosity for others in either joy or trouble is a 
revelation to the more stolid Anglo-Saxon. 

Among our Viennese friends was a charming 

bachelor, Herr von G . He started to Paris one 

week-end, and had got as far as Munich when he 
heard from someone that Patsy had tonsilitis. He 
took the next train back to Vienna, and presented 
himself at our hotel the same evening. It distressed 
me very much when I heard why he had come, as the 

child was really not seriously ill ; but Herr von G 

said earnestly, "I do not return to bore you; I am 
merely on hand if you need me." And for a wonder 
he was not in love with Patsy. The act w^as one of 
simple friendship for us both. 

When Patsy had recovered, Herr von G , in- 
stead of going on with his postponed journey, took 
us up to Semmering for two or three days of winter 
sports. Here, within an hour's ride of their own city. 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 151 

the Viennese revel in the delights of lugeing, ski-ing, 
and sleighing — as well as skating, of course; giving 
themselves to the healthful exercise with characteristic 
zest and skill. The tiniest children manage their skis 
with lightning dexterity, and it is beautiful to watch 
their small swaying bodies skim across the snow like 
white birds on wing. This kind of flying combines 
the aesthetic with the practical, and leaves to its nat- 
ural majesty the clearest of crisp blue skies overhead. 

Tobogganing is scarcely less favoured by the 
Austrians, who sweep down their dizzy hills with a 
vim that knows no fear. Horses are waiting at the 
foot, to drag the toboggans up again; and all day 
long the laughing groups of men and women, young 
girls, officers and children, dart down the snowy 
steeps — ten and twenty strong on each sled — and are 
hauled back to begin anew. Observing the crowds of 
Viennese who daily go to and from Semmering, and 
knowing as one does many of them who would think 
a week without this excursion shorn of its greatest 
pleasure, one does not wonder at the happy healthy 
faces and splendid colour of this sport-loving people. 

In the Spring and Fall they play tennis and ride 
in the Prater — a large park on the outskirts of 
Vienna; while in the summer everyone who can goes 
walking in the Tyrol or the German mountains. 
Women as well as men are expert walkers and moun- 
tain-climbers, and their horsemanship is the pride of 
the nation. It is interesting to note that the Viennese 
have never paid much attention to golf, and the rea- 
son: it is too tame for them. AU their sports are 



152 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

swift, dashing, and full of a light individual grace. 
They are devoted to fencing — to anything that calls 
into play the quick and skilful move of the individual 
body; the heavy and brutal are unknown to them. 
Like children they boldly attack the feat that lures 
the eye; and, like children always, achieve therein a 
succes fou. 

What is a rheumatic uncle among such people? 
All he can do is to open doors — which by no amount 
of gymnastics is he able to shut when he should. 



Ill 

THE FAIRY PLAY 

Between officers' cotillons and opera, thes dansants 
and military concerts at the Stadt Park, Patsy sand- 
wiched conscientious layers of sight-seeing. I am not 
of those who follow Baedeker (even in a shame-faced 
brown linen cover), but I dutifully accompanied her 
to the gallery and the royal stables, and to worship 
before Maria Theresa's emeralds in the Treasury. 
At the Rathaus I balked — nothing except rice pud- 
ding is as depressing to me as a town-hall; when it 
came to the Natural History Museum I was tepid 
also. And from that time forth Patsy — with the 
irrepressible superiority that belongs to born sight- 
seers and to people who take cold baths — announced 
that she would take the maid. 

I thought this a philanthropic idea, and for several 
reasons worthy of encouragement. So Patsy and the 
red-cheeked mddl embarked on a heavy sea of 
churches, the mddl munching apples under rose-win- 
dows, while Patsy inspected the pulpit. A week had 
been spent in this innocent diversion, when the dire 
news came to us that the mddl had been taken to a 
hospital with peritonitis. The sour-faced spinster 
who succeeded her Patsy would have none of. "I 

153 



154 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

shall go alone to see the engravings," she announced 
firmly. 

I resigned myself to accompany her ; but when we 
reached the Albertina Burg I was persuaded to take 
"a tiny stroll" into the Graben, and return for 
Patsy in half an hour. There seemed nothing out of 
bounds in this, as the library where Archduke Albert 
housed his engravings, like most libraries, is sternly 
shunned by all but the semi-defunct and care-takers. 
It shares the usual old court with the usual old palaces 
of mediaeval Austrian nobility; and I waited at the 
gate till Patsy had entered the open square, hesitated 
a moment before the several doors confronting her, 
and finally followed sedately in the wake of some 
Americans — past a pompous gold-lace porter — into 
the first door on the right. The rest of the story is 
hers. 

She walked leisurely up some shallow stairs, with- 
out noticing at first that the Americans had stayed 
behind to converse with the porter; and that finally 
they went out instead of following her above. She 
did think the porter was rather elaborate for a library, 
said Patsy, but in Austria he didn't seem extraordi- 
nary. The staircase was, however; and she wondered 
why Baedeker had passed it by. Beautifully carved 
in white marble, it was carpeted with old Turkish 
rugs and hung with splendid portraits of the Haps- 
burgs, and — at the landings — with charming old 
French clocks. 

Patsy admired all these treasures at length, 
serenely ignoring another and still more imposing 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 155 

guard who scrutinized her sharply as he passed. She 
has a way with guards, has Patsy ; they are generally 
reduced to becoming humility, no matter how ar- 
rogantly they start in. This one stalked on down- 
stairs, leaving her to proceed on her way upward. 
She was still searching Baedeker for the key to the 
interesting portraits, and also to the whereabouts of 
the famous engravings — as yet nowhere to be seen. 

According to the guide-book, these should be "in 
two long rows above the book-cases"; and "one should 
sit down at the small tables provided for inspecting 
them, as the crowd of tourists makes it difficult to 
see the drawings satisfactorily." This was puzzling. 
Patsy, now in solitary possession of the large room at 
the head of the stairs, saw neither engravings nor 
tables nor tourists. She was quite alone in the centre 
of the beautiful empty apartment. 

She looked at the Louis Quinze furniture, at the 
gorgeous onyx table set with miniatures; at the im- 
pressive portrait of ^laria Theresa over the mantel- 
piece, and several autographed pictures of kings. 
Baedeker said nothing of all this. It occurred to 
Patsy then that it must have been the reception-room 
of the late Archduke, and that the engravings were 
probably on the floor above. But, before going on, 
she paused in one of the gold and grey chairs for a 
moment, further to admire the exquisite room. 

While she sat there, she was startled by the sud- 
den appearance of two footmen, in the same grey 
and gold livery of the porter downstairs. They 
showed no signs of surprise at her presence, however, 



156 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

but mumbled obsequious greetings and backed into 
the room beyond. Hardly had they disappeared when 
another installment of flunkies came in, carrying 
great trays of food ; thej^ too, at sight of Patsy, bent 
as low as they could under the circumstances — but she 
now was thrown into a tumult of trepidation. When 
the door into the other room was opened again, she 
had a glimpse of a great round table laid with gold 
plate and crystal and sevres; grand high-backed chairs 
surrounded it, and more Hapsburg portraits lined the 
walls. 

Patsy gasped with terror and astonishment. At 
last it dawned on her that she was in the wrong place ! 

She caught up her furs and the miserable guide- 
book, and started towards the door. Only to suffer 
still worse fright, when she was confronted there by 
a tall man in uniform ; who in most courteous French 
insisted on her staying to lunch. He was young and 
had black hair and blue eyes ( I will not vouch for the 
authenticity of these details, as Patsy just then saw 
all uniforms possessed of black hair and blue eyes) ; 
and it was hard to be stiff with him. But she man- 
aged to explain with some dignity that she had come 
to the Albertina to see the engravings, but had evi- 
dently entered the wrong door; that she deeply 
regretted the intrusion, which she begged this gentle- 
man to excuse, and that she must forthwith find her 
uncle who was waiting in the court below. 

I wasn't, but that is beside the story. The blue 
eyes of the young man being as keen as most Aus- 
trians' at a second glance, he realized his own mis- 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 157 

take, and apologized in turn; hastening to add that 
mademoiselle could not intrude in this house, as it 
was honoured by her presence, and that she and her 
esteemed uncle would be welcome whenever they 
might be gracious enough to visit it. He begged leave 
to accompany her downstairs and, as Patsy could 
hardly refuse, she went with him — "knees wobbling, 
and my heart still in my mouth, Uncle Peter ! When 
the glum old porter saw us, he all but went into 
catalepsy; and bowed to the ground, while the nice 
uniformed man was talking fast to him in German. 

"Then he — the nice man — kissed my hand, and 
held the door for me himself, and said all the polite 
things over again. I was feeling relieved by this time, 
so I thought I might smile when I said Au revoir, 
and begged pardon once more for my stupidity. I 
stole a last look too at that lovely staircase and the 
fierce old portraits ; and now, Uncle Peter, I want to 
get Captain Max and find out directly whose they 
are!" 

Captain Max was inclined to be what Patsy calls 
"starchy" over the affair. "Gray uniform — blue eyes 
— black hair?" he repeated tersely. "And the door 
was the first on the right, in the Albertina Palace?" 

Patsy nodded. Suspense overpowered her speech. 

"Then it was Salvator, brother of Archduke 
Ferdinand, the heir to the throne. He was probably 
having one of his famous little luncheons in the 
Archduke's palace." And Captain INIax scowled 
darkly, first at Patsy, then at me. He thinks, poor 



168 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

enamoured young man, I should have a guardian, my- 
self. 

"Then I was in the Archduke Ferdinand's pal- 
ace?" cried Patsy. "But why was I allowed? Where 
were all the guards and things ? I might have had a 
bomb in my muff!" 

"We don't have suffragettes in Austria," said 
Captain Max loftily. "And the Heir is what you say 
'strong' for democracy. He has fewer servants than 
anybody. Those that he has were probably getting 
Salvator's luncheon ready!" 

A look I well know came into Patsy's limpid eyes. 
"It looked like a very nice luncheon," said she; "I 
wish now that I'd stayed." 

The hauptmann coloured furiously. Then all at 
once he laughed. "You will have a chance to tell him 
so," he said blandly, "when you make your curtsey 
to him at the ball next week!" 

Really, he is not so bad, this young man for whom 
I opened the door. 

The ball was the famous Metternich Redoute, 
given every year, during Carnival, by the old Countess 
who was Austrian ambassadress at the court of the 
third Napoleon. Each year she names her masque by 
a different fantasy and, once it is announced, excite- 
ment runs high over costumes, head-dress, etc. This 
winter it was Meeresgrund, "The Bottom-Of-The- 
Sea Ball," and the shops along the Graben and Kart- 
nerstrasse displayed seductive ropes of coral, glitter- 
ing fish-skins, pearls and golden seaweed — all the 
heart of mermaid could desire. The one topic of 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 159 

conversation at parties, between acts at the oj^era, and 
in the boudoir at home, closeted with anxious maids, 
was : what shall her costume be for the Meeresgrund? 

It must be something original, something chic 
(that word that is almost more Viennese than 
French), something beautiful and costly — for does 
not Royalty open the ball? Patsy's Titian head all 
but turned grey during the racking period of indeci- 
sion. When finally with impressive secrecy she and 
the recovered mddl had spirited her disguise behind 
locked doors, there was still a tantalizing week before 
the great event. I did what I could to assuage im- 
patience, in the way of opera tickets, concerts and a 
performance of Duse. 

Over the actress Patsy went as mad as any Vien- 
nese ; and even I cried a mild hravo or two. Curious, 
how the sight of a charming woman playing a cap- 
tivating part, like La Locandiera^ has the effect of 
opening one's mouth, and making one emit strange 
sounds ! The same thing happened to me at the Sun- 
day-morning concert of the Manner gesangverein — it 
looks Hke a Sanskrit idiom, but it is a simple society 
of simple Viennese business-men, clubbed together to 
sing a delightful two hours on an occasional Sabbath 
morning. They make no pretense at high art, but are 
fated (by birth and every instinct) to achieve it; and 
when they stand up, two hundred strong, and roll out 
the majestic phrases of Beethoven's "Hymn of 
Praise," it is time for even a moth-eaten mere relative 
to make a fool of himself. 

I behaved better at opera. If there is any be- 



160 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

haviour in one, opera will bring it out. In Vienna, 
I mean, of course; not in New York or Paris or 
Covent Garden, where manners and clothes to be au 
fait must be au minimum — and where the real per- 
formance is mannequin parade, by the great jewel- 
lers and dressmakers. In Vienna, opera-goers have 
the unique custom of going to hear opera. They 
arrive on time ; or if they do not they wait outside in 
the corridor till the end of the first act. The conclu- 
sion is drawn by the audience in general, that it is 
present to hear and see what is going on up on the 
stage ; any interruption to this, whether of whispering 
or rattled programmes, is rudely hissed. While one 
who attempts to leave or to approach his seat after the 
first note of the overture has been sounded finds him- 
self detained with greater force than fondness. The 
rare premise is entertained that opera is designed to 
furnish music, and that the music is worth hearing. 
It does not seem to occur to anyone to dispute this by 
leaving before the final note is struck, and the final 
curtain falls. To the New Yorker especially, thirst- 
ing for his champagne and lobster, this must be a 
diverting system. 

But the New Yorker has probably disdained 
Vienna opera altogether as too cheap to be worth any- 
thing. The best seats in the house are only three dol- 
lars, while excellent places may be had for half that 
price, and the students and enthusiasts up in the gal- 
lery pay a sixth of it. Officers come off better still : 
in the circular pit reserved for them, though they have 
to stand, these servants of the Emperor pay the Im- 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 161 

perial Opera only eighty hellers (eight-pence). Of 
course there is a goodly show of uniforms all over the 
house as well; and, with the pretty toilettes of the 
women, the audience is a gay and attractive one. 
Though the horseshoe is only about half the size of 
the New York JNIetropolitan Opera, there is a com- 
fortable intimacy in its rich gold and scarlet loges; 
besides (the one elegance the Metropolitan lacks) the 
quartered trappings of the royal box. 

This last is often occupied by one or another of the 
Archdukes and their wives, and several times a year 
the Emperor himself is present. Then it is gala per- 
formance, and all ladies who attend must be in light 
evening frocks; gentlemen, of course, in the regula- 
tion claw-hammer. It is somewhat disconcerting to 
see — as I did for the first time — this fashionable as- 
sembly extract from its coat pockets a generous ham 
sandwich, and begin to eat it before the curtain goes 
up ; also to watch the rows of elegant ladies and gen- 
tlemen waiting their turn in line at the refreshment 
bar between acts, and to behold the enthusiasm with 
which they devour large cheese cakes and beer. The 
fact is that opera in Vienna begins so early — seven 
o'clock, as a rule — few people have a chance to dine 
before they leave home ; and they are far too sensible 
to sit hungry through a long performance, or to 
satisfy tiieir appetite surreptitiously, as Anglo- 
Saxons would. They want food, and they go and get 
it — in as frank quantity as they desire. I have seen 
our charming Frau Grafin dispose of as many as nine 
ham sandwiches in the course of an evening, calmly 



162 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

whisking the crumbs from her white satin gown mean- 
while. 

It is superfluous to speak of the all-satisfying de- 
light of the music itself at the Imperial Opera. No 
one who has seen Weingartner conduct needs to have 
it described. For no one who has not seen him can it 
be described. Sufficient to say that the merits of the 
piece are not left in the hands of a quartet of fabu- 
lously paid principals, or to the luxurious detail of 
extravagant mounting; but that every voice in the 
chorus, every inconspicuous instrument of the or- 
chestra, is planned and trained and worked into an 
ensemble as perfect as a master ear can make it. And 
the hravos that resound at the end of each act are the 
sure token of the master's success; for nowhere is 
there a more critical or a more appreciative opera au- 
dience than in Vienna. 

This is true of the Volksopera as well as of the 
Imperial. Though at the "People's Opera" the 
lighter pieces are given for half the price charged at 
the more pretentious house, the lower middle class who 
attend them are no less musically trained and difficult 
to satisfy. 

But while every class demands and is given high 
excellence in classical music, it is in the operette that 
they unconsciously recognize and worship the true 
soul of Vienna. As far removed from English mu- 
sical comedy as caviar from candy, this sparkling, 
rippling, dashing whirl of airs and waltzes seems to 
catch up the familiar types out of the streets and 
cafes, ballrooms and boudoirs, and present them here 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 163 

on the stage en masse. In place of the musical com- 
edy milkmaid, with her Louis heels and pink satin 
decollete, we have the well-known students and gri- 
settes, grandes dairies and varnished old noceurs seen 
in the Graben every day. They wear real clothes, and 
say real things, and make real mistakes — all to the 
most entrancing music Franz Lehar or Leo Fall can 
contrive ; and the result is a madness of delight on the 
part of the audience, such as comes only when people 
are shown themselves. 

Shocking? Yes, frequently. The Viennese and 
their operettes that reflect them are apt to shock many 
a conventional-minded foreigner. They even shock 
themselves sometimes — but excuse the episode a min- 
ute later. For they are quick to forgive, and are not 
over-particular as to morals, if the person eschewing 
them be gay, attractive and clever. Hence the heroes 
and heroines of their operettes are audacious to a de- 
gree somewhat startling to the uninitiated in Viennese 
life. 

But they make up for it in verve and brilliancy. 
See them dash through three acts of wit and light- 
ning movement — with all their liveliness they never 
romp ; hear them sing their complicated, racing songs, 
without a fault; watch them whirl and glide in the 
heady waltz — laughing, dancing, singing all at once, 
and perfectly. Shocking? you cry, pounding your 
cane to bits in time with the tune. Piffle ! 

It does not do to say this to Patsy. But Patsy, 
happily, understands very little German; so that I 
was able to indulge my vice for operettes with her 



164. THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

uncurbed. Patsy's thoughts were all on the Meeres- 
grund. As we intended to leave Vienna the day after 
that, it may without fantasy be supposed that some of 
her less well-behaved thoughts left the bottom of the 
sea for a certain skating rink, where she had learned 
the guiding value of blue eyes and black hair. But 
outwardly everything was concentrated on the Re- 
doute. 

I am not a spiteful person, but I was inclined to 
gloat when the momentous night arrived, and Patsy, 
in her shimmering costume, confronted our good 
Countess. American youth settled its score, I think. 
For the good lady — ^herself marvellous in lobster pink 
and a white wig — flew to Patsy, kissed her on both 
cheeks, and cried: ''Aher! It is of an enchantment, 
a loveliness of fairies, wunderhar!" 

And, if I do say it who had no part in the cre- 
ation, she was right. Patsy stood before us as a 
fisher girl, her filmy golden nets caught over her shoul- 
ders and round the waist with glistening crabs and 
little brilliant lizards. In contrast with the other 
women present and their elaborate headgear, the 
witch had let down her rippling auburn curls to fall 
in simple glory to her waist. Her cheeks were softly 
flushed, and her big yellow-brown eyes were shining 
as she asked demurely, "Do you like me, Uncle 
Peter?" 

I was not too dazzled to forget it was not I 
actually being asked. But as Captain Max main- 
tained absolute silence — that most ominous of an- 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 165 

swers ! — I replied with nice restraint that I found her 
charming. And we entered the ball. 

It was a vast hall surrounded by shallow galleries, 
and at the far end a platform arranged in the style 
of a royal drawing-room. In the ballroom it- 
self great ropes of seaweed and ruddy coral hung 
pendant down the blue-green walls; mammoth shells 
of palest pink held the mermaids' chaperones ; a fairy 
ship twinkled one entire side of the hall with favors 
and fancies awaiting the dance of the sirens; while 
at every nook and corner lustrous crinkled pearls 
gleamed forth light. 

The glassy floor pool in the midst of all this fan- 
tasy was crowded with Neptunes and nereids, water 
sprites, lovely white chifl*on gulls, and Loreleis with 
their combs of gold. But they were very modern 
Loreleis, who kept their hair up in correct ondula- 
tion, and whose fascinations proved less irresistible 
than those of one little red-locked fisher girl. Like 
everybody else, she was masked, and flitted about the 
giant circle of the promenade with a tall Captain 
of the Guards in brilliant full-dress uniform. The 
^letternich Redoute is the one event of Carnival at 
which only the women appear in fancy dress. The 
officers and civilians, in sober garb, form a phalanx 
in the center of the room, whence they watch the gor- 
geous procession of promeneuses. For until the 
Court arrives everyone walks about and admires 
everyone else, while one of the two royal bands plays 
constantly. Laughing masked ladies, unknown to 
one another, exchange gay greetings; compliments 



166 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

are bestowed and received in German, French, Eng- 
lish, Spanish, Itahan and Hungarian; while the fa- 
miliar "du" is the rule of the evening. 

All at once something electric passes over the chat- 
tering assembly. From a splendid shifting mass it 
divides into two solid lines, leaving a broad open 
space down the centre. The sprightly old hostess is 
in her place, the bands burst into the stirring chords 
of the national hymn — and the Court enters! 

First the old Emperor with his two gentlemen of 
the Household: erect, fiercely handsome in his blue- 
gray uniform of the Hapsburgs glittering with or- 
ders. The young lieutenants who have spent the 
afternoon ridiculing his war policy, at sight of the 
well-known, grizzled head, forget their grievances and 
salute with a fervour. The old man, haughtily uncon- 
scious, passes on. Next comes the young Heir Ap- 
parent, with Archduchess Maria Annunziata — the 
Emperor's niece and the first lady of the land — who 
wears Maria Theresa's emeralds and a magnificent 
tiara overshadowing those of the ladies who follow 
her. But each of them, too, is ablaze with jewels, 
while for sheer beauty and distinction a more remark- 
able retinue of women could not be found. 

There is the ruddy fairness of the German, the 
wild grace of the Slav, the rich olive and great dark 
eyes of the Hungarian, the chestnut hair and black 
brows of Lombardy : every type as it passes is sworn 
the loveliest — and then forsworn when the next comes 
by. The court ladies have confined their fantasy to 
the coiffure, and some of these headdresses are mar- 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 167 

vels of ingenuity and elegance. Wigs are much fav- 
oured; white and high, and crowned with ships of 
jewels, or monster pearls, or nets of diamonds inter- 
woven with every sort of precious stone. The arch- 
dukes and high officers, in their mere uniforms, for 
once are insignificant in the trail of this effulgence of 
their women; and Patsy did not even see her Prince 
Salvator till all of them were seated on the platform 
and the ball w^as formally begun. 

Twelve young girls and men of the nobility open 
the dance with a quadrille, prescribed according to 
court etiquette, and marked by a quaint stateliness. 
The girls are dressed alike in simple frocks of white 
and silver, while the young men are in more or less 
elaborate uniform. After the quadrille, dancing is 
general, but the crowd is too great for it to be any 
pleasure at first. Not till after the Court has gone 
is there really room to move about in. Meanwhile, 
favoured personages are led to the Master of Cere- 
monies, and by him presented to Royalty on its dais. 

Thanks to Countess H , Patsy and I were 

permitted to pay homage; and even the severe old 
Emperor himself unbent to smile at the witch in her 
shimmering frock when she made her reverence. 
There was a look about Patsy that night that a stone 
image must have melted to — a radiance at once so 
soft and so bright, no man could have resisted, or 
woman failed to understand. I can see her now, the 
colour deepening in her cheek as she made her curtsey 
to Archduke Salvator. Captain JNIax was just be- 
hind her, the Countess and I at one side. 



168 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

The Archduke — who did have blue eyes and black 
hair — was about to return Patsy's salutation with his 
bow of ceremony when suddenly he looked into her 
face. His own for a moment was a study. Then, 
gazing over her shoulder at Captain Max in his glow- 
ering magnificence, he inquired gravely: "And this, 
then, is the uncle?" 

The rose swept Patsy's cheek to her slender neck. 
For an instant she hesitated; then, looking straight 
at me instead of at the Archduke, she said sturdily: 
"This is the uncle's nephew-to-be, and your High- 
ness is the first one to learn of it." 

Of course the Countess turned faint, and all but 
forgot court etiquette in a frenzied hunt for her 
salts; and the Archduke kissed Patsy's hand and 
shook Max's, and amid a host of incoherent congratu- 
lations, discovered that he and Max belonged to the 
same regiment ; and somehow we bowed ourselves out 
of the Presence and into the gallery again. 

The Countess embraced Patsy, wdthin shelter of 
a blue — pasteboard — grotto, and would have carried 
her off for a good cry, but Patsy turned to me. 
"Uncle Peter," she swung to my arm with that de- 
structive wheedlesomeness of hers, "Uncle Peter, you 
are pleased?" 

Max, too, approached me with an anxiety that 
would have fiattered a Pharaoh. "Patsy," said I, ad- 
mirably concealing my overwhelming surprise, "I 
have only one thing to say: you shall be the one to 
tell your mother!" 

Of course she wasn't. I knew from the first that 



THE CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE 169 

she wouldn't be; and I meekly endured the conse- 
quences. But all that is sequel. For the rest of the 
Redoute I sat with the Countess in the jaws of a 
papier mache crocodile, and ate macaroons and dis- 
cussed family pedigree; and Patsy and my nephew- 
elect fed off glances and waltzed till five in the morn- 
ing. It was the most hectic evening of my two score 
years and ten. 

When at last we left the bottom of the sea, gaiety 
was at its crest. The Court had departed long since, 
but nymphs and nereids whirled more madly than 
ever, Lorelies spun their lures with deeper cunning 
than before — now they were unmasked ; and mere men 
were being drawn forever further and further into 
the giddy, gorgeous opalescence of the maze. In 
retrospect they seemed caught and clung to by the 
twining ropes of coral; mermaids and men alike en- 
meshed within the shining seaweed and pale, rosy 
shells — compassed, held about by the blue-green walls 
of their translucent prison. The pearly lights gleamed 
softer, the music of the sirens floated sweeter and 
more seductive on each wave, the water sprites and 
cloudy gulls circled and swam in wilder, lovelier haze. 

And then — the wand of realism swept over them. 
They were a laughing, twirling crowd of Viennese, 
abandoned to the intoxication of their deity: the 
dance. Reckless, pleasure-mad, never flagging in 
pursuit of the evanescent joie de vivre, they became 
all at once a band of extravagant, lovable children 
who had stayed up too late and ought to have been 
put to bed. 



170 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

But I was always a doting uncle. I left them to 
their revel, and departed. I shall go back some day, 
for I have now in Vienna the gay, the gemiltlich, a 
niece named Patsy — and it all came from choosing a 
train that arrived before breakfast! 



IV 
THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 

(Madrid) 




THE SOUL OF OLD SPAIN 



I 

HIS CORNER APART 

In spirit, as in distance, it is a far cry from the 
childlike gaiety and extravagance of Vienna to the 
gloom and haughty poverty of Madrid. Gloomy in 
its psychic rather than its physical aspects is this city 
of the plain, for while the sun scorches in summer 
and the wind chills in winter, thanks to the quite mod- 
ern architecture of New Madrid, there is ample light 
and space all the year round. 

Any Spanish history will tell you that Charles V 
chose this place for his capital because the climate 
was good for his gout. One author maintains that 
it was for the far subtler reason that Madrid was 
neutral ground between the jealous cities of Toledo, 
Valladolid and Seville. But everyone, past and pres- 
ent, agrees that the Spanish capital is the least Span- 
ish of any town in the kingdom. It shares but one 
distinctive trait with the rest of Spain — and that the 
dominant trait of the nation: pride, illimitable and 
unconditioned, in the glory of the past; oblivion to 
the ruin of the present. 

Like a great artist whose star has set, Spain sits 
aloof from the modern powers she despises ; wrapped 
in her enshrouding cloak of self-sufficiency, she 
dreams or prattles garrulously of the days when she 

173 



174. THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

ruled without peer — not heeding, not even knowing, 
that the stage today is changed beyond her recog- 
nition. 

The attitude is, however, far more interesting than 
the bustle and mere business efficiency of the typical 
modern capital. After the vastness and confusion of 
Waterloo and St. Lazare, one arrives in Madrid at a 
little station suggestive of a sleepy provincial town. 
Porters are few and far between, and one generally 
carries one's own bags to the primitive horse cabs 
waiting outside. Taxis are almost unheard of, and 
the few that are seen demand prices as fabulous as 
those of New York. Every Madrileno who can pos- 
sibly afford it has a carriage, but the rank and file 
use the funny little trams — which I must say, how- 
ever, are excellently conducted and most convenient. 

Both the trams and all streets and avenues are 
plainly marked with large clear signs, and the pleas- 
ant compactness of the city makes it easy to find one's 
way about. The centre of life and activity is the 
Puerto del Sol — Gate of the Sun — an oval plaza 
which Spaniards fondly describe as "the busiest 
square in the world." There is no doubt at all that 
it is the noisiest; with its clanging trams, rattling 
carriages, shouting street vendors, and ambulant mu- 
sicians. 

These latter, with the beggars, form to my mind 
the greatest plague of Madrid ; their number is legion, 
their instruments strangely and horribly devised, and 
they have the immoral generosity to play on, just 
the same, whether you give them money or not. 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 175 

Though, as a matter of fact, when you walk in the 
Puerta del Sol, they are forever under your feet, 
shaking their tin cups for centimos and whining for 
attention. 

I infinitely prefer the gentle-voiced old men — of 
whom there is also an army — who offer soft balls of 
puppies for sale ; and, when they are refused, tenderly 
return the cherished scrap to their warm pockets. 
The swarm of impish newsboys are hard to snub, 
too : jMurillo has ingratiated them with one forever — 
their rags and their angelic brown eyes in rogues' 
faces. 

But I find no difficulty at all in refusing the beg- 
gars. These are of every age, costume and infirmity ; 
and enjoy full privilege of attacking citizen or 
stranger, without intervention of any kind by the 
police. A Spanish lady naively explained to me that 
they had indeed tried to deal with the beggars; that 
the government had once deported them one and all 
to the places where they were born — for of course 
none of them came originally from Madrid! But, 
would I believe it, within a week they were all back 
again? Perhaps I, as a foreigner, could not under- 
stand how the poor creatures simply loved INIadrid 
too passionately to remain away. 

I assured the senora gravely I could understand. 
In fact, it seems to me entirely normal to be pas- 
sionately attached to a place that yields one a tidy 
income for nothing. No, rather for the extensive de- 
velopment and use of one's persuasive powers. Im- 
agination, too, and diplomacy must be employed ; and 



176 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

sometimes the nice art of "coming down." The 
monologue rmis hke this: 

"Good afternoon, gentleman. The gentleman is 
surely the most handsome, the most kind-hearted, the 
best-dressed, and most polite of all the world. If the 
gentleman could part with a peseta — nine-pence — to 
a brother in deepest woe, God would reward him. 
God would give him still more elegant health and 
more ravishing children. If he has no children, God 
would certainly send him some — for only half a 
peseta, oh, gracious gentleman. To a brother whose 
afflictions could not be recited from now till the end 
of the world, so multiple, so heartrending are they. 
I am an old man of seventy, oh, most beautiful gen- 
tleman — old as the gentleman's illustrious father, may 
Mary and the angels grant him long life! Only 
twenty centimos, my gentleman — God will give you 
a million. Ten centimos — five! . . . Caramha! a 
curse on your hideous face and loping gait. There 
is no uglier toad this side of hell!" 

One thing beggars can choose with proficiency: 
their language. In Madrid they would be less dis- 
gusting were it not for their loathsome diseases and 
deformities. The government is far too poor to 
isolate them in asylums, so they continue to possess 
the streets and the already overcrowded Gate of the 
Sun. 

From this plaza the principal thoroughfares of 
the city branch off in a sort of wheel, and mules, goats 
and donkeys laden with every imaginable sort of bur- 
den pass to and fro at all hours of day and night. 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 177 

Shops there are, of course, of various kinds; and 
cafes crowded round the square; but the waiters carry 
the trays on their heads, and the whole atmosphere is 
that of a mediaeval interior town rather than a mod- 
ern cosmopolitan city. 

To be sure, in Alcala, the principal street off the 
Puerta del Sol, there are clubs and up-to-date restau- 
rants ; but only men are supposed to go to the restau- 
rants, and in the clubs they look ill at ease and incon- 
gruous. The life of the Spaniard is inalienably the 
life in the streets, where you will find him at all hours, 
strolling along in his clothes of fantastic cut and 
colour or sitting at a cafe, drinking horchatas — the 
favourite beverage, made from a little nut. His con- 
stant expression is a steady stare; varying from the 
dreamily absent-minded to the crudely vulgar and 
licentious. 

The widely diversified ancestry of the Spanish 
people is keenly interesting to follow out in the fea- 
tures of the men and women of today; among no 
race is there greater variety of type, though it is four 
hundred years since the IMoors and Jews were driven 
out, and new blood has been practically excluded from 
Spain. Yet one sees the INIoorish and Jewish casts as 
distinct today as ever they were; to say nothing of 
the aquiline Roman or the ruddy Gothic types from 
the far more ancient period. 

In names, too, history is eloquent: we find Ed- 
wigis, Gertrudis, and Clotilde of the Gothic days; 
Zenaida and Agueda of the JNIoorish; Raquel, Ester 
of the Jewish. I think that in no language is there 



178 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

such variety or beauty in women's names. Take, for 
example, Consuelo, Amparo (Succour), Luz — pro- 
nounced Luth and meaning Light — or Fehcitas, Ro- 
sario, Pilar, Soledad, and a wealth of others as liquid 
and as significant. 

It is hard to attach them to the rather mediocre 
women one sees in the streets on their way to mass: 
dressed in cheap tailored frocks, a flimsy width of 
black net over their heads. The mantilla is no longer 
current in Madrid, except for fiestas and as the caprice 
of the wealthy ; but this shoddy offspring of the man- 
tilla — the inferior black veil — is everywhere seen on 
all classes of women. The Madrilena who wears a 
hat announces herself rich beyond recounting, and is 
charged accordingly in the shops. Needless to say, 
there is no such thing as a fixed price in any but the 
places of foreign origin. 

I have often wondered whether Spanish women 
are stupid because they are kept in such seclusion or 
whether they are secluded because they are stupid. 
It is hard to separate the cause from the effect. But 
certainly the Spanish beauty of song and story is 
rarer than rubies to-day; while the animation that 
gives charm even to an ugly French or American 
woman is utterly lacking in the Espanolas heavy, 
rather sensual features. I am inclined to think, from 
the fact that it is saliently a man's country, she is as 
he has made her, or allowed her to become. And 
when you remember that her highest enjoyment is to 
drive through the rough-paved streets, hour after 
hour, that she may see and be seen; when you con- 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 179 

sider that the rest of her day is spent in a cheerless 
house without a book or a magazine, or any occupa- 
tion but menial household dinidgery, you pity rather 
than condemn the profound ignorance of the average 
Spanish woman. 

Married at sixteen, the mother of four or five chil- 
dren by the time she is twenty-five, she grows old 
before her time even as a Latin woman. While by 
men she is disregarded and treated with a rudeness 
and lack of respect revolting to the Anglo-Saxon. 
Her husband precedes her into and out of the room, 
leaves her the less comfortable seat, blows smoke in 
her face, and expectorates in her presence; all as a 
matter of course, which she accepts in the same spirit. 
Her raison d'etr^e is as a female ; nothing more. What 
wonder that the brain she has is expended in gossip 
and intrigue and that her husband openly admits he 
cannot trust her out of his sight? 

Like the Eastern women she resembles, she is 
superstitiously devout; as, indeed, the men are, too, 
when they remember to be. All the morning, week- 
days as well as Sunday, the churches are full; one 
mass succeeds another. It is a favourite habit of the 
younger men to wait outside the fashionable churches 
until the girls and their duenas come out, and then 
to remark quite audibly on the charms of the former. 
The compliments are of the most bare-faced variety, 
but are affably received; even sometimes returned by 
a discreet retort sotto voce. The blades call the cus- 
tom "throwing flowers" ; and the bolder of the maid- 



180 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

ens are apt to fling back over their shoulder, "thanks 
for the flower!" 

One can always see this little comedy outside the 
well-known church of San Isidro — patron saint of 
Madrid — which, with the more important clubs and 
public buildings, is in the Street of the Alcala. The 
Alcala connects the Puerta del Sol with the famous 
promenades of the Prado and the Castellana, which 
are joined together by an imposing plaza with a foun- 
tain, and extend as far as the park of the Retiro. 

Spaniards are firmly convinced that the Castel- 
lana is finer than the Champs Elysees; but it is, in 
reality, a rather stupid avenue — broad, and with 
plenty of trees in pots of water, yet quite flat, and 
lacking the quaint guignols and smart restaurants 
that give color to the French promenade. Galician 
nursemaids, with their enormous earrings, congregate 
round the ice-cream booths, while their overdressed 
charges play "bullfight" or "circus" in the allees 
nearby. 

But the Castellana is an empty stretch of sand, 
for the most part, until half -past six in the evening, 
when it becomes for an hour or two the liveliest quar- 
ter of the city. The mansions on either side of the 
street open their gates, carriages roll forth, senoras 
in costumes of French cut but startling hue are 
bowled into the central driveway, senors in equally 
impressive garments appear on horseback, and the 
"paseo'* — the event of the day — has begun. 

Strangers who have not been asked to dine with 
their Spanish friends because the latter cannot afl'ord 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 181 

a cook will be repeatedly taken to drive in a luxuri- 
ous equipage with two men on the box and a pair of 
high-stepping bays. For a Spanish family will 
scrimp and save, and sometimes actually half starve, 
in order to maintain its place in the dailj^ procession 
on the Castellana. This is true of all classes, from 
the impoverished aristocracy to the struggling bour- 
geoisie ; and is so much a racial characteristic that the 
same holds in JNIanila, Havana, and many of the 
South American cities. What his house is to the 
Englishman, his trip to Europe to the American, his 
carriage is to the Spaniard. With this hallmark of 
social solvency he can hold up his head with the proud- 
est ; without it he is an outcast. 

The iSIadrilenos tell among themselves of certain 
ladies who afford the essential victoria by dressing 
f ashionablj" from the waist up only. A carriage rug 
covers the other and well-worn part of their apparel. 
This is consistent with stories of economy carried into 
the smallest item of the household expenses — such as 
cooking without salt or pepper, and foregoing a table- 
cloth — in order that the family name may appear 
among the box-holders at the opera. Spanish people 
look upon these sacrifices, when they know them, as 
altogether admirable; from peasant to grandee, they 
are forever aiding and abetting each other at that 
most pitiful of all games: keeping up appearances. 
But, however petty the apparent motive, there is a 
certain tragic courage behind it; the desperate, final 
courage of the grand artiste, refusing to admit that 



18^ THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

his day is dead. And under all his burdens, all his 
bitter poverty, silent, uncomplaining. 

Seen in this light, that stately queue of carriages 
on the Castellana takes on something more than its 
mere superficial significance — which is to show one- 
self, and further to show one's daughters. Officers 
and civilians walk up and down, on either side of the 
driveway, or canter along near the carriages, with one 
object: to stare at the young girls. Far from being 
snubbed, their interest is welcomed with complaisance, 
and many and many a marriage is arranged from one 
of these encounters on the Castellana. 

The young man notices the same girl for two 
or three days, then asks to be presented to her; the 
heads of the two families confer, finances are frankly 
discussed, and, if everything is found satisfactory, 
the courtship is allowed to proceed. Parents are gen- 
erally easy to satisfy, too, being in frantic haste to 
marry off their daughters. The old maid and the 
bachelor girl are unknown quantities in Spain, and an 
officer with a salary of five pounds a month is eagerly 
snapped up as an excellent catch. 

This gives some idea of the absolute pittance 
whole families are used to live on, and to consider 
ample. The bare necessities of life are gratefully 
counted by Spaniards as luxuries; while luxuries, in 
the modern sense of the word, are practically unheard 
of. Private motor cars, for example, are so rare as 
to be noticed when they pass through the streets; 
while, on the other hand, a sleek pair of mules is con- 
sidered almost as emphatic a sign of prosperity as a 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 183 

pair of horses. It is an everyday sight to see the gold 
cockades of royalty, or the silver of nobility, on the 
box behind two mules. And a Spaniard realizes noth- 
ing curious about this. If it is a habit of his country- 
men, it is right, and proper, and elegant, and to be 
emulated by all who can afford it. 

If you tell him, moreover, of the conveniences of 
other countries — not in comparison with his own, but 
quite casually — he looks at you with an indulgent 
smile, and believes not a word of it. He himself is 
far too poor to travel, so that naturally he is skepti- 
cal of what he calls "traveller's tales." I once showed 
a Marques whom I was entertaining in Madrid a pic- 
ture of the JNIetropolitan Tower in New York. He 
laughed, like an amused child. "Those Americans! 
They are always boasting," he said, "but one must 
confess they are clever to construct a photograph like 
that." Nor was I able to convince him during the 
remainder of the evening that such a building and 
many others as tall actually did exist. 

The old actor sits with his eyes glued to his own 
pictures, mesmerizing himself into the belief that they 
are now as ever they w^re: representative of the 
greatest star of all the stage. He cares not to study 
the methods of the new generation, for he loftily 
ignores its existence. Tradition is the poison that 
infests his bones, and is surely eating them away. 

He has a son who would save him if the dotard 
would permit: a tall young man, with a splendid 
carriage and an ugly, magnetic face — alert to every 
detail of modern regime. But the young man is a 



184 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

king, and kings, as everyone knows, have the least 
power of anybody. Alfonso XIII, with aU his in- 
defatigable energy, can leaven but a very small lump 
of the blind self-sufficiency of Spain. He plays a 
hopeless part bravely and is harder-working than most 
of his peasants. 

His palace stands at the edge of old Madrid, on 
the high land above the river, where the old Moorish 
Alcazar once stood: a magnificent situation. The 
fa9ade fronts and dominates the city; the rear looks 
out on the river Mazanares and beyond, on the royal 
park of the Casa del Campo. Here one can often 
see the King shooting pigeons in the afternoon or 
taking tea with the Queen and the Queen Mother. 
The people are not permitted in this park, but for- 
eigners may apply for a card of admission and go 
there at any time, provided their coachman is in livery. 

One Sunday I saw the royal children, with their 
nurses, building a bonfire in a corner of the park. 
They were shouting and running about most lustily, 
and it was a relief to see royalty — though at the age 
of three and four — having a good time. The little 
Prince of the Asturias was in uniform, Prince Jaime 
in sailor's togs, and the two small Infantas in white 
frocks with blue sashes. They all looked simply and 
comfortably dressed, and a credit to the good sense of 
their father and mother. The nurses, who are Eng- 
lishwomen — pink-cheeked and cheerful — wore plain 
blue cotton frocks and shady straw hats, like anyone 
else's nurses. It was a satisfying picture, after the 




THE QUEEN OF SPAIN AND THE PRINCE OF THE ASTURIAS 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 185 

elaborateness and false show that surround the aver- 
age Spanish child. 

Of all the royal children, Jaime is the beloved of 
the people. He has a singularly sweet and at the same 
time animated face, and, the SjDaniards proudly de- 
clare, is the true Spanish type. Doubtless, too, his 
sad infirmity — he was born a deaf mute — and his pa- 
tience and cleverness in coping with it have endeared 
this little prince to everybody. 

The reigning Spanish family are the last of the 
powerful Bourbons, and their court is conducted with 
all the Bourbon etiquette of Louis XIV. It is a less 
brilhant court than the Austrian, being very much 
poorer, but the shining white grandeur of the palace 
itself makes up for elegance foregone by the cour- 
tiers. For once, Spain's overweening pride is justi- 
fied: she boasts the loveliest royal residence of any 
nation. 

An interesting time to visit it is at Guard Mount 
in the morning. Then the beautiful inner court is 
filled with Lancers in plumed helmets and brilliant 
blue uniforms, riding splendidly matched roans. Two 
companies of infantry, in their darker blue and red, 
line the hollow square; and in the centre are the offi- 
cers, magnificently mounted and aglitter with gold 
braid and orders. They advance into the court to the 
slow and stately measure of the Royal INIarch, and 
sometimes the King appears on the balcony above — 
to the delight of the people, who are allowed to cir- 
culate freely in the passages of the pillared patio. 

Peasants are there by the score, in their shabby 



186 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

earth-brown corduroys, and soft-eyed girls with stout 
duenas, swaying fans between the threadbare fingers 
of their cheap cotton gloves. Students with faded 
capes swung from their shoulders ; swarms of children 
and shuffling old men in worn sombreros ; priests, bull- 
fighters, beggars, and vendors of everything from 
sweetmeats to bootlaces, wander in and out the ar- 
cades while the band plays. 

In spite of the modern uniforms of the soldiers, 
it is a scene out of another age : a sleepy, sunny age, 
when all the simple people demanded was a heel of 
bread and the occasional spectacle of the pomp of 
their masters. Yet it is the Spain of to-day; in the 
foreground its brave show of traditional splendour; 
peering out from behind, its penury and rags. 

The old actor sees none of this. In his forgotten 
corner he has wound himself within his gorgeous tat- 
tered cloak of long ago; and crouches into it, eyes 
closed upon a vision in which he never ceases to play 
the part of Casar. 



II 

HIS ARTS AND AMUSEMENTS 

Pan y toros! The old "Bread and the circus" of 
the Romans, the mediseval and modern "Bread and 
the bulls!" of Spain. One feels that the dance should 
have been worked in, really to make this cry of the 
people complete. For in the bullfight and the ancient 
national dances we have the very soul of Spain. 

Progressive Spaniards like to think the corrida de 
toros is gradually dying out; many, many people in 
Madrid, they tell you, would not think of attending 
one. This is true, though generally the motive be- 
hind it is financial rather than humane. And the great 
mass of the people, aristocracy as well as bourgeoisie, 
put the bulls first, and go hungry for the bread if 
necessary. Every small boy, be he royal or beggar, 
plays "bullfight" from the time he can creep; every 
small girls looks on admiringly, and claps her hands. 
And when the small boy is gro'vvn, and dazzles the 
Bull Ring with his daring toi^eo, the girl in her bril- 
liant dancer's dress still applauds and flings him her 
carnations. Throughout Spain the two are wedded in 
actual personal passion, as in symbolic truth. 

It is said that the bullfight was founded by the 
]Moors in Spain in the twelfth century, though bulls 

187 



188 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

were probably fought with before that in the Roman 
amphitheatres. The principle on which the play de- 
pends is courage, coolness, and dexterity — the three- 
in-one characteristics of the Arabs of the desert. In 
early days gentlemen, armed only with a short spear, 
fought with the bulls, and proved their skill and 
horsemanship. But with the coming of the Bourbons 
as the reigning house of Spain the sport changed 
from a fashionable into a national one, and profes- 
sional bullfighters took the place of the courtly play- 
ers of before. 

It is by no means true, however — as so many for- 
eigners imagine — that the toreros are invariably men 
of mean birth and vulgar education. On the con- 
trary, they are frequently of excellent parentage and 
great mental as well as physical capability; while al- 
ways their keen science and daring make them an 
aristocracy of themselves which the older aristocracy 
delights to worship. They are the friends and favour- 
ites of society, the idols of the populace; you never 
see one of them in the streets without an admiring 
train of hangers-on, and the newspapers record the 
slightest item in connection with each fighter of the 
hour. Whole pages are filled with photographs of 
the various feats and characteristic poses of distin- 
guished toreros; and so well known do these become 
that an audience in the theatre recognizes at once an 
"imitation" of Bombita, or Gallito, or Machaquito — 
and shouts applause. 

Even the average bullfighter is a rich man and 
known for his generosity as well. Directly there is a 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 189 

disaster — railway accident, explosion or flood — a cor- 
rida is arranged for the sufferers; and the whole band 
of fighters give their earnings to the cause. The 
usual profits of a skilled torero are seven thousand 
pesetas — two hundred and eighty pounds — a per- 
formance. Out of this he must pay his assistants 
about three thousand pesetas, and the rest he has for 
himself. When not the lover of some famous dancer, 
he is often a married man, and they say, aside from 
his dangerous profession, makes an excellent husband 
and father. One and all, the bullfighters are relig- 
ious ; the last thing they do before entering the arena 
is to confess and receive absolution in the little chapel 
at the Bull Ring, and a priest remains with extreme 
unction always in readiness in case of serious ac- 
cident. 

The great part of the bullfighters come from 
Andalucia — there is an academy at Seville to teach 
the science — but some are from the North and from 
jNIexico and South America, and all are impatient to 
fight at JNIadrid, since successful toreo in this city 
constitutes the bullfighter's diploma. At the first — 
and so of course the most exciting — fight I saw the 
matadors were Bombita and Gallito, from Seville, 
and Gaona, from INIexico. The latter was even more 
cordially received by the Spaniards than their own 
countrymen after they saw his splendid play; but 
Bombita is acknowledged the best matador — killer — 
in Spain, and Gallito, a mere boy of eighteen, is 
adored by the people. Each of the three killed two 
bulls on the afternoon I attended my first corrida. 



190 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

It is impossible to describe the change that comes 
over the whole aspect and atmosphere of JNIadrid on 
the day of a bullfight. The old actor in his corner 
rubs his eyes, shakes himself and looks alive. Crowds 
are in the streets, buckboards packed with country 
people dash through the Puerta del Sol and towards 
the Plaza de Toros; the languid madrilerw in the 
cafes is roused to rapid talk and excited betting 
with his neighbour, and in the clubs, where the toreros 
are gathered in their gorgeous costumes, the bet- 
ting runs higher. Ticket booths are surrounded 
by a mob of eager enthusiasts, while behind her 
grating the senora is shaking out her mantilla, 
fixing the great red and white carnations in her 
hair, draping the lace above them and her monstrous 
comb. A carriage drives swiftly down the street to 
her door, her husband hurries in, calling impetuously 
to make haste. The slumbrous eyes of the lady catch 
fire with a thousand sparks ; she clicks her fan, flashes 
a last triumphant smile into her mirror, and is swept 
away to the Bull Ring. 

Here all is seething anticipation: the immense 
coliseum black with people moving to their seats or 
standing up to watch the crowd in the arena below; 
Royalty just arrived, Doiia Isabel and her ladies lin- 
ing the velvet-hung box with their picturesque man- 
tillas ; the President of the Bull Ring taking his place 
of honour ; ladies unfurling fans and gossiping, afici- 
onados waving to one another across the ring and call- 
ing final excited bets; small boys shouting cushions, 
cigarettes, postcards, or beer and horchatas. Sud- 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 191 

denly a bugle sounds. People scuttle to their seats, 
the arena is cleared as by magic, and, to a burst of 
music and thunderous applause from ten thousand 
pairs of hands, the splendid entrada takes place. 

Matadors in their bright suits heavj^ with gold, 
handerilleros in their silver, yicadors on their sorry 
horses, march proudly round the ring ; while the band 
plays and the crowd shouts itself hoarse — just for a 
starter. Then the picadors go out, the torero who is 
to kill the first bull asks the President for the keys 
to the ring ; the President throws them into the arena, 
and — the first bull is loosed! 

From this point on there is no wit in regarding the 
spectacle from a humane or sentimental standpoint. 
He who is inclined to do so had better never have left 
home. If he has eyes for the prodigal bloodshed, the 
torture of the bull with the piercing darts, the suffer- 
ings of the horses, he will be acutely wretched from 
beginning to end. But if he can fix his attention 
solely on the beauty of the torei^o's body in constant 
action, on the utter fearlessness and superb audacity 
of the man in his taunting the beast; if, in short, he 
can concentrate on the science and skill of the thing, 
he will have something worth remembering all liis 
life. 

I shall never forget Bombita, with his grave, 
curiously detached expression, his dark face almost 
indifferent as he came forward to kill the first bull. 
This is by far the most interesting part of the fight — 
after the horses have been disposed of and the stupid 
picadors have made their exit — when the matador ad- 



192 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

vances with his sword sheathed in the red muleta. 
He has made his speech to the President, he has or- 
dered his assistants to retire to the background, and 
he and the bull face one another alone in the centre 
of the arena. 

Then comes the lightning move of every moment 
in the encounter between man and beast. The spot 
between the shoulders where the bull is killed covers 
only about three inches, and must be struck absolutely 
true — or the crowd is furious. At best it is exceed- 
ingly capricious, hissing, whistling and shouting on 
the slightest provocation, but going literally mad over 
each incident of the matador's daring; and finally, 
if he makes a "neat kill," throwing their hats and 
coats — anything — into the arena while the air rever- 
berates with "Bravos!" 

Meantime, however, the matador plays with death 
every second. He darts towards the bull, taunting 
the now maddened beast with the fiery muleta, mock- 
ing him, talking to him, even turning his back to him 
— only to leap round and beside him in the wink of 
an eye when the bull would have gored him to death. 
Young Gallito strokes his second bull from head to 
mouth several times; Gaona lays his hat on the ani- 
mal's horns, and carelessly removes it again; while 
Bombita, who is veritable quicksilver, has his magnifi- 
cent clothes torn to pieces but remains himself un- 
scratched in his breath-taking manoeuvres with the 
beast. Finally, with a swift gesture, he raises his 
arm, casts aside the muleta, drives his sword straight 
and true between the shoulders of his adversary. A 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 193 

shout goes up — wild as that of the Cohseum of old: 
"Bombita! Bombita! El matador — Bomhita!" And 
we know that the bull is dead, but that Bombita, who 
has been teasing death, scoffing at it, for the last 
twenty minutes, lives — triumphant. 

And what is it all about? Atrocious cruelty, a 
bit of bravado, and ecco! A hero! Exactly. Just 
as in the prize ring, the football field, or an exhibition 
of jiu-jitsu. We pay to be shocked, terrified, and 
finally thrilled; by that which we have neither the 
skill nor the courage to attempt ourselves. But, you 
say, these other things are fair sport — man to man; 
we Anglo-Saxons do not torture defenceless animals. 
What about fox hunting? There is not even the dig- 
nity of danger in the English sport; if the hunter 
risks his life, it is only as a bad rider that he does so. 
And certainly the wretched foxes, fostered and cared 
for solely for the purpose of being harried to death, 
are treated to far more exquisite cruelty than the 
worn-out cab horses of the bullfight — whose suffer- 
ings are a matter of a few minutes. 

I am not defending the brutality of the bullfight ; 
I merely maintain that Anglo-Saxons have very little 
room to attack it from the superiority of their own 
humaneness. And also that Spaniards themselves are 
far from gloating over the sickening details of their 
sport as they are often said to do. In every bullfight 
I have attended the crowd has been impatient, even 
exasperated, if the horses were not killed at once and 
the picadors put out of the ring. We need not 
greater tolerance of cruelty, but greater knowledge 



194 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

of fact, in the study and criticism of things foreign 
to us. 

I doubt, for instance, if any person who has not 
Hved in Madrid knows that every man who buys a 
ticket to the bullfight is paying the hospital bill of 
some unfortunate ; for the President of the Bull Ring 
is taxed ten thousand pounds a year for his privilege, 
and the government uses this money for the upkeep 
of charity hospitals. 

One cannot say as much for the proceeds of the 
stupid sport of cock fighting — nor anything in its 
favour at all. Patrons of the cockpit are for the most 
part low-browed ruffians with coarse faces, and given 
to loud clothes and tawdry jewellery. They stand up 
in their seats and scream bets at one another during 
the entire performance, each trying to find "takers" 
without missing a single incident of the contest. The 
bedlam this creates can only be compared with the 
wheat pit in Chicago; while to one's own mind there 
is small sport in the banal encounter of one feathered 
thing with another, however gallant the two may be. 

More to the Anglo-Saxon taste is the Spanish 
game of pelota: a kind of racquets, played in a three- 
sided oblong court about four times the length of a 
racquet court. The fourth side of the court is open, 
with seats and boxes arranged for spectators, and 
bookmakers walk along in front, offering and taking 
wagers. At certain periods of the game there is 
much excitement. 

It is played two on a side — sometimes more — the 
lighter men about halfway up the court, the stronger 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 195 

near the end. The ball used is similar to a racquet 
ball and is played the long way of the court; but, 
instead of a bat, the player has a basketwork scoop 
which fits tight on his hand and forearm. The object 
of the game is for one side to serve the ball against 
the opposite wall, and for the other side to return it; 
so that the ball remains in play until a miss is scored 
by one of the two sides. Should the side serving fail 
to return, the service passes to the opponents. A miss 
scores one for the opponents, and the game usually 
consists of fifty points. There are the usual rules 
about fouls, false strokes, etc., but the fundamental 
principle consists in receiving the ball in the scoop 
and whacking it against the opposite wall. It sounds 
very simple, but the players show a marvellous agility 
and great endurance, the play being so rapid that 
from the spectator's point of view it is keenly enter- 
taining. 

Of course the upper classes in Madrid play the 
usual tennis, croquet and occasionally polo, but the 
Spaniard is not by instinct a sportsman. Rather he 
is a gambler, which accounts for the increasing vogue 
for horse racing in JNIadrid. The course, compared 
with Longchamps and Epsom, is rather primitive and 
the sport to be had is as yet inferior to the fashion 
and beauty to be seen. Intermissions are intermi- 
nable — else how could the ladies see each other's 
frocks, or the gallants manage their flirting? On the 
whole, the races in Spain are affairs of society rather 
than of sport. 

Riding is very seldom indulged in by. ladies, and 



196 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

the men who canter up and down the Castellana in 
the evening have atrocious seats and look thoroughly 
incongruous with their handsome mounts. There is 
practically no country life throughout Spain, the few 
families who own out-of-town houses rarely visit 
them, and still more rarely entertain there. When the 
upper class leaves Madrid it is for Biarritz or San 
Sebastian or Pau — some resort where they may sat- 
isfy the Spaniard's eternal craving: to see and be 
seen. This explains why the Madrileno is maladroit 
at those outdoor sports he sometimes likes to affect 
as part of his Anglo-mania, but which he never really 
enjoys. 

On the other hand, he adores what the French call 
the '^'^vie d'tnterieure." Nothing interests him, or his 
senora, more than their day at home, which in Spanish 
resolves into a tertulia. No matter what time of day 
this informal reception takes place, ladies appear in 
morning dress — as the Anglo-Saxon understands the 
word — and visits are paid by entire families, so that 
sometimes the onslaught is rather formidable. Choco- 
late is served, about the consistency of oatmeal por- 
ridge, but deliciously light and frothy nevertheless. 
It is eaten instead of drunk, by means of little bits of 
toast, dipped into the cup. Sometimes in the evening 
meringues are served, but always the refreshments are 
of the simplest, the feast being one of chatter and 
familiar gossip rather than of stodgy cakes and 
salads. 

When there is dancing, no sitting out or staircase 
flirtations are allowed; but, on the other hand, there 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 197 

is not the depressing row of chaperones round the 
walls nor the bored young men blocking the doorways 
during intermissions. Everyone gathers in little 
groups and circles, the men keeping the stifling rooms 
in a constant haze of smoke, and a wild hubbub of 
conversation goes on until the next dance. The for- 
eigner is disappointed in Spanish dancing. Having 
in his mind the wonderful grace and litheness of the 
professional hailarina, he is shocked by the hop-skip- 
and-jump waltzing he meets with in drawing-rooms. 
The fact is that only in their own national or charac- 
teristic local dances are the Spanish graceful; when 
they attempt the modern steps of other countries, as 
when they attempt the clothes and sports of other 
countries, they become ridiculous. 

But, happily for the young people, they do not 
know it; and during the ungainly waltz they make 
up in ardent flirtation for the loss of the balconies, 
window seats and other corners a deux beloved by 
less formally trained youth. What goes on in the 
dance, dueiias wink at. After all, the chief business 
of Spanish life is to marry ofl* the children, and when 
the latter are inclined to help matters along so much 
the better. 

In passing, it may be of interest to add that, while 
the New Woman is an unknown quantity in Spain, 
the Spanish woman is the only one who retains her 
maiden name after marriage. Thus Senorita Fer- 
nandez becomes Senora Fernandez de Blank, and her 
children go by the name of Blank y Fernandez. Also, 
if she is a lady of rank, her husband inmiediately 



198 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

assumes her title; and this last descends through the 
female line, if there are no sons. Such a law forms 
an interesting vagary of the country where woman's 
position on the whole reflects the Oriental. In Toledo 
there is a convent for the education of penniless 
daughters of noblemen. Each of the young ladies 
is given a dowry of a thousand dollars, and is eagerly 
sought in marriage as a person of importance. All 
this in accordance with the Spanish tradition that 
there is no such thing as an old maid. 

Naturally, in a land thoroughly orthodox in both 
religion and social conventions, divorce is tahu; the 
solution of the unhappy marriage being intrigue — 
which is overlooked, or, at the worst, separation — in 
which case the woman has rather a hard time of it. 
At best, she is completely under the thumb of her 
husband, and would lose her head altogether were she 
suddenly accorded the liberty of the American woman, 
for example. I have often thought what a treasure 
one of these unaggressive Espanolas would make for 
the brow-beaten American man; who, if he had a 
fancy to follow in the footsteps of his ambitious 
sisters, might buy a wife and a title, and — ^by pur- 
chase of property with a rental of ten thousand dol- 
lars — a life seat in the senate, all at the same time ! 

And never, never again would he be seen with his 
hang-dog efFacement, shuffling into a restaurant as a 
sort of ambulant peg for the wraps of a procession 
of ladies. Once a real Spaniard, he would stalk in 
first at cafes, and find his own cronies, leaving 
madame to find hers in the separate "section for 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 199 

senoras." When he was ready to depart, she — no 
matter what her fever to finish the gossip of the mo- 
ment — would depart without a murmur. Outrage- 
ous! cries the American, who pads his own leading- 
strings with the pretty word of "chivalry." 

I think I have said that Spanish ladies do not 
attend restaurants, except those of the larger hotels; 
but they are devoted to cafes, where they eat choco- 
late and tostas fritas, or drink a curious — and singu- 
larly good — mixture of lemon ice and beer, while 
shredding the affairs of their neighbours. Owing to 
the segregation of the masculine and feminine con- 
tingents, the ]Madrid cafe presents a quite different 
picture from the rendezvous intime of the Parisian, 
or the gemiitlicJi coffee house of Vienna. There is 
no surreptitious holding of hands under the table, no 
laying of heads together over the illustrated papers, 
no miniature orchestra playing a sensuous waltz. The 
amusement of the Madrileno in his favourite cafe is 
to look out of it onto the street; of the Madrilena, 
ditto — each keeping up a running fire of chatter the 
while. 

The manners of both ladies and gentlemen are 
somewhat startling at times. Toothpicks are con- 
stantly in evidence, some of the more exclusive carry- 
ing their own little instruments of silver or gold, and 
producing them from pocket or handbag whenever 
the occasion offers. It is not uncommon, either, for 
ladies as well as gentlemen to expectorate in public; 
in cafes, or even from carriages on the Castellana, 
one sees this done with perfect sang froid. On the 



200 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

other hand, there is an absolute simplicity and free- 
dom from affectation. With all their interest in the 
appearance and affairs of their neighbours, Spanish 
men and women are without knowledge of the word 
"snob." So thoroughly grounded in that uncon- 
scious assurance newer civilization lacks, they would 
not know how to set about "impressing" anyone. 
They are what they are, and there's an end to it. 

When they stare, as the foreigner complains they 
do constantly, it is the frankly direct stare of a child. 
And few ladies use pince-nez — for which they have 
the excellent word, ''impertinentes" Some of these 
Spanish words are delightfully descriptive: there is 
^' sahio-mucho" for the little donkeys that trot ahead 
of the mules in harness, and in their careful picking 
of the way prove their title of "know-it-all." And 
there is serreno for the night watchman, who prowls 
his district every hour, to assure the inhabitants that 
"it is three o'clock and the night serene!" 

To the English night-owl, the custom of leaving 
one's latchkey with the serreno appeals as rather pre- 
carious, in several ways. But Spaniards are notori- 
ously temperate; also discreet; and, as Spanish keys 
are apt to weigh a pound or two, it is the easiest thing 
for the sefior when he reaches his own door to clap 
his hands twice — and the serreno comes running. It 
seems a quaint custom to have a night watchman in a 
city like Madrid, where life goes on all night, and the 
Puerta del Sol is as full and as noisy at half -past 
three in the morning as at the same hour of the after- 
noon. 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 201 

All the best amusements begin very late, follow- 
ing the rule of the nine-o'clock dinner; and as theatre 
tickets are purchased in sections — i. e., for each sepa- 
rate act or piece — it is generally arranged so that the 
finest part of a performance begins at half after ten, 
or even eleven o'clock. Of course, the Teatro Real, 
or opera-house, is the first theatre of Madrid, and we 
have already spoken of the sacrifices endured for the 
privilege of owning a box for the season. 

Ladies of society — and some who are not — delight 
to receive in their 'palcos; and the long entr'actes lend 
themselves to actual visits, instead of the casual 
"looking in" of friends. Anyone, by paying the 
nominal entrance fee, can enter the opera house — or 
any theatre — on the chance of finding acquaintances 
in the boxes, and so spend an hour or two going from 
one group to another. This gives the house the look 
of a vast reception, which it is, far more than a place 
where people come to hear good music. 

It has not, however, the brilliancy or fascination 
of the INIetropolitan audience in New York, nor of 
Covent Garden. The Teatro Real is a mediocre build- 
ing, in the first place; and neither the toilettes and 
jewels of the women nor the distinction of the men 
can compare with the splendid ensemble of an Eng- 
lish or American opera audience. While the music, 
after Vienna, is execrable, and merits the indiffer- 
ence the 3Iadrilejios show it. About the most inter- 
esting episode of the evening comes after the per- 
formance is over — when, on the pretext of waiting 
for carriages, society lingers in the entrance hall, chat- 



202 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

ting, laughing, engaged in more or less mild flirtation 
— for the better part of an hour. Here one sees the 
Madrilena at her best; eyes flashing, jewels sparkling, 
fan swaying back and forth to show or again to con- 
ceal her brave "best gown"; above all, smiling her 
slow Eastern woman's smile with a grace that makes 
one echo her adorers' exclamation: "At your feet, 
senora !" 

She is seen to less advantage at the ordinary 
theatre, which is usually in itself a dingy afl'air, and 
where evening dress is conspicuous by its absence. 
Even the orchestra is apt to come garbed in faded 
shades of the popular green or brown, and always 
with hats on — until the curtain rises. 

We have spoken already of the prevalence of the 
one-act play in Spanish theatres. The people pay an 
average charge of two reales — ten cents — for each 
small piece, and the audience changes several times 
during an evening. At the better theatres, orchestra 
seats are seventy-five cents — a price to be paid only by 
the very wealthy! — and the plays are generally un- 
adulterated melodrama. The always capricious audi- 
ence cheers or hisses in true old melodramatic fash- 
ion, so that at the most touching moment of a piece 
one cannot hear a word of it, for the piercing Bravos 
— or again catch the drift of the popular displeasure 
which shows itself in groans and whistling. The com- 
plete naivete of the Spanish character is nowhere bet- 
ter displayed than at the theatre ; but I think it must 
keep the actors in a constant fever of suspense. 

The latter are rather primitive in method and ap- 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 203 

pearance according to modern notions, but play their 
particular genre with no small cleverness. They use 
little or no make-up, so that the effect at first is rather 
ghastly ; however, one gets used to it, and even comes 
to prefer it to the over-rouged cheeks and exagger- 
ated eyes of the Anglo-Saxon artist. It is interest- 
ing, too, that, even in the world of make-believe, the 
Spaniard is as little make-believe as possible. There 
is nothing artificial in his composition, and even when 
professionally "pretending" he pretends along the 
line of his own strong loves and hates, with no at- 
tempt at subtilizing, either. 

One is apt to think there is no subtlety at all in 
this people — until one sees its national dancers. Af- 
ter the banal "Boston" and one-step of the ultra- 
moderns, the old ever-beloved Spanish dances come as 
a revelation; while the professional hailarina herself 
is as far removed from her kind in other lands as 
poetry from doggerel. 

Tall, swayingly slender, delicately sensuous in 
every move, she glides into vision in her ankle-long 
full skirts, like a flower rising from its calyx. There 
is about her none of the self -consciousness of the 
familiar lady of tarletans and tights; but a little air 
of dignity on guard that is very alluring. She does 
not smirk, she does not pirouette; she sways, and 
bends, and rises to stamp her foot in the typical 
bozneOj with a litheness and grace indescribable. And 
her castanets! Long before she actually apj^ears, 
you hear their quick toc-toc: first a low murmur, then 
louder and ever louder, till with her proud entrance 



204 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

they beat a tempestuous allegro — only to grow fainter 
and fainter and die away again with the slow meas- 
ures of the dance. 

Her long princess frock sheathes the slim figure 
closely, to swell out, however, at the ankles in a swirl 
of foamy flounces. Brilliant with sequins or the 
multi-coloured broidery of the manton, the costume 
curls about her in a gorgeous haze of orange, azure, 
mauve, and scarlet while she dances. Her fine long 
feet are arched and curved into a thousand diff*erent 
poses; her body the mere casing for a spirit of flame 
and mystery; her face the shadow curtain of infinite 
expression, infinite light. 

And while her castanets are sounding every shade 
of rhythm and seduction, and her white long arms 
are swaying to and fro — in the ancient Jota, or the 
Ole AndaluZj or perhaps in the Sevillana, or the 
Malaguena — the dance of her particular city; while 
men's throats grow hoarse with shouting hravos and 
women's eyes dim with staring at such grace, there 
lives before one not La Goya, La Argentina, Pastora 
Imperia — not the idol favourite of the hour, but some- 
thing more wonderful and less substantial : the ghost 
of old Spain. It flits before one there, in its proud 
glory; its beauty, its passion, and its power; baring 
the soul of half of it — the woman soul, that is. 

And when one looks beyond her fire and lovelj^ 
dignity, over her shoulder peers the cool, dark face of 
a torero. 



Ill 

ONE OF HIS "BIG SCENES" 

Twenty-eight years ago Alfonso XII died, leav- 
ing a consort whom the Spanish people regarded with 
suspicion, if not with actual dislike. She was INIaria 
Christina of Austria, the second wife of the king; 
and six months after his death htx son, Alfonso XIII, 
was born. 

Sullenly Spain submitted to the long regency of 
a "foreigner"; and Maria Christina set about the 
desperate business of saving her son to manhood. 
From the first he was an ailing, sickly child, and his 
mother had to fight for him in health as well as in 
political position every inch of the way. She was 
tireless, dauntless, throughout the struggle. Tim.e 
after time the little king's life was despaired of; she 
never gave up. 

Every morning during his childliood the boy was 
driven to the bracing park of La Gran j a, where he 
ate his lunch and stayed all day, only coming back to 
JNIadrid to sleep. In this and a hundred other ways it 
was as though hi^. mother, with her steel courage, 
literally forbade him to die. And to-day, for her 
reward, she has not only a king whom the entire 

205 



206 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

world admires with enthusiasm, but a son whose devo- 
tion to herself amounts almost to a passion. 

I like to remember my first glimpse of the king — 
it was so characteristic of his personal simplicity in 
the midst of a court renowned for its rigid ceremonial. 
I was one of the crowd that lined the Palace galleries 
on a Sunday before Public Chapel; we were herded 
between rows of halberdiers, very stiif and hushed, 
waiting for the splendid procession soon to come. 

Suddenly the cry rose : ''El Hey!" And, attended 
only by two gentlemen and a grey-haired lady in 
black, the king came down the corridor. He was in 
striking blue uniform, and wore the collar of the 
Golden Fleece, but what occurred to one first was his 
buoyant look of youth and his smile — as the Span- 
iards say, "very, very simpatico." He saluted to the 
right and left, skimming the faces of the crowd with 
that alertness that makes every peasant sure to the 
end of his days that the king certainly saw him. 
Then he stooped while one of his gentlemen held 
open a little door much too low for him, and slipped 
quickly through to the other side. "Exactly," mur- 
mured an old woman disappointedly, "like anyone 
else." 

That is a large part of the greatness of this king, 
as it was of that of Edward VII of England : he is 
exactly like anyone else. And, like anyone else, he 
must submit to a routine and certain obligatory duties 
which are utterly irksome to him. When he came 
back from Chapel later, in the tedious procession, his 
face was quite pale and he looked tired out. With 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 207 

all his mother's indefatigable care and training, his 
health at best is very irregular ; and I remember hear- 
ing one of his guards say that he would have died 
long ago if he could have taken time for it! 

But to go back to Royal Chapel: on the days 
-when this is public, anyone, beginning with the rag- 
gedest peasant, may walk into the Palace and up- 
stairs to the galleries, as though he were a prince of 
the blood. True, if he arrives early he must stand in 
line, to be moved along as the guards shall direct. 
But if he comes, as I did, just before the hour, he 
walks upstairs and along the thick-carpeted corri- 
dors, to take his place where he chooses. Of course 
one is literally barricaded by halberdiers — two of 
them to every three persons, as a rule — and a very 
imposing line they make in their scarlet coats, white 
knee breeches and black gaiters, their halberds glit- 
tering round the four sides of the galleries. 

These are hung, on one or two gala Sundays a 
year, with marvellous old tapestries, so that not an 
inch of stone wall can be seen. It makes a beautiful 
background for the gold lace and rich uniforms of the 
grandees as they pass through on their way to the 
Assembly Chamber. For half an hour before the 
procession forms, these gorgeous personages are ar- 
riving, many of them in the handsome court costume 
of black, finely worked in gold embroidery, and with 
the picturesque lace ruff. Others wear various and 
splendid uniforms, with — as many as have them — 
ribbons of special orders, and, of course, every medal 
they can produce, strung across their chests. Some 



208 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

of the older men are particularly distinguished, while 
all the officers stalk in, in the grand manner, shoul- 
ders square, swords clanking. 

An especially interesting group is the Estada 
Mayor — six grandees out of the seven hundred odd 
who wear a gold key over their right hip, as a sign 
that they may enter the palace and confer with the 
sovereign at any time. These men have the title of 
Marque in addition to any others they may have in- 
herited, and are supposed to spend one week each in 
the palace during the year. They are tall, splendid- 
looking creatures, in bright red coats, white trous- 
ers with black boots, and helmets with waving white 
feathers. And on Public Chapel days they enter 
last into the Assembly Chamber, so that their appear- 
ance is the signal that the procession is about to start. 
When they have gone in, the chief of the hal- 
berdiers cries : "The King ! Do me the favour to un- 
cover your heads!" And the favour is done, while 
detectives all about are taking a final sharp survey 
of the closely guarded crowd. Then two plainly 
dressed persons, known by the modest title of handero 
(sweeper) hurry up and down the line to make sure 
no presumptuous subject has his feet on the royal 
carpet; and finally two ancient major domos in scar- 
let breeches and much gold lace solemnly march sev- 
eral yards ahead of the procession, peering search- 
ingly from right to left. For, as everyone knows, 
the King of Spain's life is in momentary danger 
from anarchists, and no amount of precaution ever 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 209 

really satisfies the inquietude of his people when he 
is in public. 

At last the dignified line of grandees appears. 
Some of them we recognize as they go by : The Duke 
of Medina y Coeli, with his twenty-eight titles, the 
most of any noble in Spain; the Duke of Alba, who 
holds the oldest title, and the head of whose family 
always registers a formal protest on the accession of 
each king — with the insinuation, of course, that by 
right of birth the Alba should reign. Further on 
come the three royal princes, Don Carlos, Don Fer- 
nando, and Don Alphonso — the King's cousin. And 
finally, between his two gentilhomhres, the King. 

It is not the boyish young man now, slipping 
inconspicuously from one room to another, but the 
sovereign, erect and on duty, facing his rows of 
scrutinizing subjects steadily and with a quiet confi- 
dence. I should like more than most things to have a 
true picture of him at that moment — walking unself- 
consciously in the midst of his haughty court. On 
all sides of him pomp and stateliness: the lovely 
old tapestries, the rich shrines at every corner of the 
galleries, the brilliant uniforms of the tall halberdiers, 
the dazzling garb of the grandees, and the flashing 
jewels of their ladies : among all this magnificence the 
King walked with truest dignity, yet utterly sans 
fagon. He had even, behind the gravity due the 
occasion, the hint of a twinkle in his eye, as though to 
say, "It's absurd, isn't it, that all this is for me? That 
a plain man who likes to ride, and to shoot, and to 
prowl round in the forest with his dogs should be the 



210 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

centre of this procession as King of Spain! Really, 
it's almost a joke." 

I'm sure he actually was thinking that, for he has 
a delightful sense of humour, besides being wholly 
natural, and he and the Queen are noted for their 
simplicity and their readiness to be considered as 
ordinary humans. The King, in walking to and from 
Chapel, passes close enough to the people for any one 
of them to reach out and touch him, and his alert eyes 
seem to convey, with his frank smile, individual greet- 
ing to each person present. No one can look even 
once into that ugly, animated face without feeling 
both the magnetism and the tremendous courage with 
which Alfonso XIII rules Spain. 

On this morning that I saw him the Queen was 
not present ; but she usually walks with him to Chapel, 
and is extravagantly admired by the people, who find 
her blond beauty "hermosisima" (the most lovely) 
and her French gowns the last word of elegance. 
Both she and the Queen-mother reached the Chapel 
by an inner entrance on the day of which I speak; 
so that the Infantas Isabel and Maria Luisa with their 
ladies followed the King. 

Dona Isabel, with her strong, humorous face, and 
white hair, is always an interesting figure. She is 
constantly seen at the bullfight, and driving through 
the Puerta del Sol or in the Castellana; and is gen- 
erally wearing the mantilla. This morning she wore 
a very beautiful white one, held by magnificent dia- 
mond clasps, and falling over a brocade dress of great 
richness. Her train, carried by a Marques of the 







2 t. o 

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THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 211 

household, was of white satin embroidered in iris, and 
clusters of the flower were scattered over the stuff 
itself. 

The Infanta Maria Luisa, who is considered one 
of the most beautiful of all princesses, was also in 
white satin and a white mantilla, and looked exceed- 
ingly Spanish and attractive. She had wonderful 
jewels, a string of immense pearls being among the 
most prominent; and a great emerald cabochon that 
hung from a slender chain. Each of the Infantas had 
her lady-in-waiting, also in court trains and the man- 
tilla; and one could not help reflecting how much 
more picturesque and becoming this latter is than the 
stiff three feathers prescribed by the English tradi- 
tion. On the other hand, it is true that only Spanish 
ladies know how to wear the gracious folds of lace 
which on women of other nations appear incongruous 
and even awkward. 

After the Infantas and their ladies came the 
diplomats and various foreign ambassadors, all in 
full regalia ; and finally the six officers of the Estada 
Mayor brought up the rear. I have forgotten to 
mention the band of the Palace Guards which pre- 
ceded the entire procession, and played the royal 
march all this while. I think there can be no music 
at once so grave and so inspiring as this is ; if it thrills 
the imagination of the foreigner, what must it mean 
to the Spaniard with his memories? 

When the court had passed into the Chapel, the 
crowd was at liberty to break ranks and walk about 
the galleries. During this intermission, the detectives 



212 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

were again in evidence; scouring the place for any 
signs of violence. Since the King was fired at, on the 
day of the swearing-in of the recruits (April 13, 
1913), efforts to protect his life have been redoubled. 
This was the third attack since his marriage, includ- 
ing the terrible episode of his wedding-day itself. 

On that occasion, when the bomb that was thrown 
at him, as he was leaving the church with the Queen, 
killed thirty-four people besides the horses of the 
royal coach, and caused the Queen's wedding-dress to 
be spattered with blood, the poor bride in her terror 
was on the point of collapsing. Through the babel 
of screams and shouting, the King spoke to her dis- 
tinctly: "The Queen of Spain never faints!" said 
he. And he placed her in another carriage, and drove 
off, coolly, as though nothing had happened. 

Again, at the time of the attack last April, the 
King was the first to see the man rushing towards 
him, pistol uplifted. Instantly he started forward, 
on his horse, to ride down the assassin; and when the 
shots rang out, and people realized what was happen- 
ing, the King was the first to reach his would-be 
murderer, and to protect him from the mob. Then 
the crowd forgot the criminal, and went mad over 
the sovereign. Spaniards themselves say that never 
has there been such a demonstration for any monarch 
in the history of Madrid. One can imagine the ting- 
ling pride of those recruits who, when the confusion 
was past, had still to go through the impressive cere- 
mony of kissing the cross made by their sword against 
the flag: what it must have meant to swear allegiance 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 213 

to such a man at such a moment. As I heard a young 
girl say, at the time: "There is just one adjective 
that describes him: he's 7'oyalj through and through." 

He looked more than ever royal when, coming 
back from Chapel, he knelt head bared before the 
shrine at our end of the gallery. All the procession 
now carried lighted candles, and their number was in- 
creased by the bishop and richly clad priests who had 
conducted service. At each of the four shrines they 
halted, while prayers were sung; and one was struck 
with the opportunity this offered for an attack upon 
the King. As he knelt there, head lowered between 
the two lines of people, he made an excellent mark 
for the anarchist's pistol ; but, as usual, seemed utterly 
unconscious of his danger. 

The court, on its knees, looked very bored; and 
made no pretence at devoutness while the beautiful 
Aves were being sung. But the King played his 
part to the end, with a dignity rather touching in such 
a frankly boyish man; though, when the ceremony 
was over, he heaved a very natural sigh of relief as he 
rose to his feet again. 

Back stalked the "sweepers," the old major-domos, 
the haughty grandees; back came Don Carlos, Don 
Fernando, Don Alfonso. And then, for the fourth 
time that morning so near us, the King; smiling, 
with his first finger on his helmet, in the familiar 
gesture. The Infantas followed him, then the diplo- 
mats; finally the six nobles of Estada Mayor. The 
chief of the halberdiers pounded on the floor with his 
halberd; the guards broke ranks; the people surged 



214 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

out of line and towards the stairs — and Royal Chapel 
was ended. 

Yet not quite, for me. Thanks to a friend in the 
Estada Mayor, I had still to see one of the finest 
pictures of the morning : the exit from the palace, of 
the famous Palace Guards. Six abreast they came, 
down the grand staircase of the beautiful inner court, 
two hundred strong as they filed out to their solemn 
bugle and drum. All of them men between six and 
seven feet, in their brilliant red and black and white 
uniform, I shall never forget the sight they made, 
filling the splendid royal stairs. They seemed the 
living incarnation of the old Spanish spirit ; the spirit 
of Isabella's time, but none the less of that heroic 
woman of today who, though not of Spanish blood 
herself, has given to Spain a king to glory in and 
revere. 



IV 

HIS FOIBLES AND FINENESSES 

"The salient trait of the Spanish character," says 
Taine, "is a lack of the sense of the practical." For 
want of it, Ferdinand and Isabella themselves — the 
greatest rulers Spain ever had — drove the Moors and 
the Jews out of the country; and laid the corner- 
stone of its ruin. Far from realizing they were ex- 
pelling by the hundred thousand their most wealthy 
and intelligent subjects, the Catholic sovereigns saw 
only the immediate religious triumph; the immediate 
financial gain of confiscating the estates of the in- 
fidels, and refusing to harbour them within their 
realm. 

Time after time, the blind arrogance of the 
Spaniard as champion of orthodoxy throughout the 
world, has rebounded against him in blows from 
which he will never recover. The Inquisition in it- 
self established an hereditary fear of personal think- 
ing that remains the stumbling-block in the way of 
Spanish progress to this day. Too, the natural 
indolence of the people inclines them to accept with- 
out question the statements and standards handed 
down from their directors in Church or State. 

215 



216 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

Some of these are so absurd as to call for pity 
rather than exasperation on the part of outsiders. 
For example, the conviction of even educated 
Spaniards with regard to the recent war with the 
United States is that the latter won because they 
sent out every man they had; while Spain was too 
indifferent to the petty issues involved to go to the 
expense of mustering troops ! Half the nation has no 
idea what those issues were, nor of the outcome of the 
various battles fought over them; indeed, so dis- 
torted were the accounts of the newspapers and the 
governmental reports that Admiral Cervera was wel- 
comed home to Spain with as much enthusiasm, if 
not as much ceremony, as was Admiral Dewey to 
America ! 

The few insignificant changes in the map, result- 
ing from that war, the Spaniard tells you seriously, 
came from foul play on the part of ''los Yankees/' 
That the stubborn ignorance and meagre resources of 
his own countrymen had anything to do with it he 
would scout with utter scorn. And this, not from a 
real and intense spirit of patriotism, but because he 
is forever looking back over his shoulder at the 
glories of the past; until they are actually in his 
mind the facts of the present. 

There is little intelligent patriotism throughout 
Spain, the local partisan spirit of old feudalism taking 
its place. Thus Castilians look down on Andalucians ; 
Andalucians show a bland pity for Aragonese; 
Catalonians hate and are hated by every other tribe 
in the country; while the Basques coolly continue to 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 217 

this day to declare that they are not Spaniards, but a 
race unto themselves. 

The extraordinary oath with which they accept 
each king, on his accession, is luminous: "We who are 
as good as you, and who are more powerful than j'^ou, 
elect you king, that you may protect our rights and 
liberties." It scarcely expresses a loyalty with which 
to cement provinces into a united kingdom! But it 
must be remembered that the monarchs of the past 
have made a scare-crow of loyalty, with their draining 
wars for personal aggrandizement, and the terrible 
persecutions of their religious bigotry. The people 
themselves are far from being to blame for their lack 
of patriotism, or the mediaeval superstition which 
with them takes the place of intelligent faith. 

Catholics of other countries are revolted by what 
they see in their churches in Spain. The shrine of one 
famous Virgin is hung with wax models of arms and 
legs, purchased by devotees praying relief from suf- 
fering in these members. Childless women have 
added to the collection small wax dolls ; also braids of 
their own hair, sacrificed to hang in the gruesome row 
beside the altar. Looking at these things, hearing the 
fantastic stories told (and firmly believed) about 
them, one can with difficulty realize that one is in a 
Christian country of the twentieth century. 

On the other hand, there is a respect shown re- 
ligion, and the mysteries of life and death, which is 
impressive in this callous age of materialism. Span- 
ish women invariably cross themselves when passing 
a church — whether on foot or in a tram or carriage; 



218 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

and every man, grandee or peasant, uncovers while a 
funeral procession goes by. I have noticed this es- 
pecially on days of the big bull-fights, when the trams 
are packed to the doors; not a man, whatever his 
excitement over the approaching corrida, or his mo- 
mentary interest in his neighbour, omits the instinc- 
tive gesture of respect when a hearse passes. 

Which, alas, it does very often in Madrid; 
pathetically often, bearing the small casket of a child. 
It is said that a Spaniard, once grown to maturity, 
lives forever; but the mothers consider themselves 
fortunate if they save only half of their many chil- 
dren to manhood or womanhood. This is so literally 
true that one woman who had had sixteen said to 
me quite triumphantly, "and eight are alive! And 
my sister, who had fourteen, now has seven." 

One has not to search far for the cause of this 
terrible mortality. In the first place, it is a case of 
inbreeding; no new blood having come into the coun- 
try since the Jews and Moors left it. In the second, 
the simplest laws of personal or public hygiene are 
unheard-of. Even among the lower middle class, for 
a mother to nurse her child is a disgrace not to be en- 
dured; and the peasant women to whom this duty is 
entrusted are appallingly ignorant, and often of 
filthy personal habits. From its birth, a baby is given 
everything it cries for — or is supposed to cry for; 
including cheese, pieces of meat with rice, oranges, 
fried potatoes, and sweetmeats of every description. 

This applies not only to the poorer classes but to 
people of supposed education and enlightenment. 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 219 

When the child is two or three years old, it comes 
to the table with the family; though the hours of 
Spanish meals are injudicious even for grown per- 
sons. The early cup of chocolate is had generally 
about ten or eleven; luncheon is at half after one, 
dinner between half after eight and nine. When 
this is over, the parents take the children to walk in 
the streets, or to the stifling air and lurid entertain- 
ment of the cinema. They all go to bed about mid- 
night, or later; and the parents cannot understand 
why, under such a regime, the children should have 
the nerves and waxen whiteness of little old men and 
women. Until I went to Spain, I had always con- 
sidered the French child the most ill-treated in the 
world; but I now look upon his upbringing as posi- 
tively model, compared with the ignorance and hy- 
gienic outrage visited upon the poor little espaiiol. 

Yet no people love their children more passion- 
ately, or sacrifice for them more heroically, than do 
the Spaniards. It is simply that in the laws of 
health, as in everything, their conception is that of 
by-gone centuries. In railway carriages, trams, res- 
taurants and cafes they sit through the hottest 
months of summer with every door and window tight 
shut. More than once on the train, I have been 
obliged to stand in the corridor all day, because my 
five carriage-companions insisted on sealing them- 
selves for ten hours or more within an airless com- 
partment eight feet square. Even in their own 
carriages on the Castellana, the JNIadrilenos drive up 



220 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

and down in the months of July and August with 
the windows entirely closed. 

One does not wonder at their being a pale and 
listless race, attacked by all manner of disease. 

It must be remembered throughout this discus- 
sion that we are dealing with the general mass of the 
people ; though with the mass drawn from all classes. 
There is in Madrid the same ultra-smart set (aug- 
mented largely by wealthy South Americans), the 
same set of litterateurs and artists, the same set of 
charming and distinguished cosmopolitans, that one 
finds in every big city. But, in the Spanish capital, 
these shining exceptions are so far in the minority as 
to have very limited power to leaven the mental 
stodginess of society as a whole. 

The King and Queen, by their open fondness for 
foreigners, and (quite naturally) for the English in 
particular, have set the fashion for the Anglo-mania 
that rules a certain portion of the aristocracy. As in 
Paris, a number of English words are currently used, 
but with a pronunciation apt to make the polite 
Anglo-Saxon's lip twitch at times. The "Boy 
Scoots," for example, are a favourite topic of con- 
versation in progressive drawing-rooms; while the 
young bloods are wont to declare themselves, eagerly, 
keen for good "spor" and "the unt." In the Eng- 
lish Tea Rooms — always crowded with Spaniards — 
I have even been gravely corrected for my pronun- 
ciation of "scones." "The senora means thconais" 
says the little waiter, in gentle Castilian. 

Many Madrilenos affect English tailoring, 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 221 

though the results are a bit starthng as a rule. Brown 
and green, in their most emphatic shades, vie with one 
another for popularity; and checks or stripes seen on 
a Spanish Brummel are checks or stripes — no in- 
decision on the part of the pattern. Women, of 
course, lean to Paris for their fashions; but Paris is 
too subtle for them, and they copy her creations in 
colours frankly strident. Orange and cerise, bright 
blue and royal purple share the senora's favour; 
while, to be really an elegante, her hair must be tinted 
yellow, her face a somewhat ghastly white. 

An interesting variation of conventional feminine 
standards is this tendency of the chic Madrilena to 
appear like a French cocotte ; while the women of the 
demi-monde themselves are demurely garbed in black, 
without make-up, without pretension of any sort. 
But all women, to be desirable, must be fat. Not 
merely plump, as Anglo-Saxons understand the word, 
but distinctly on the ample side of embonpoint. The 
only obesity cures in Spain are for men; women, in- 
cluding actresses, professional beauties, and even 
dancers, live to put on flesh. 

One explanation of this curious and, to our taste, 
most unsesthetic idea of feminine beauty is its being 
another of those relics of Orientalism — constantly 
cropping up in the study of the Spanish character. I 
often wonder, when I see a slender Spanish girl, if 
she will ever be driven to the extremity of the "Slim 
Princess" of musical comedy fame; who, when all 
else failed, filled her frock with bolsters, and her 



222 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

cheeks with marshmallows, and then — unfortunately 
— sneezed. 

If you told that story to a Madrileno, he would 
answer seriously, "Oh, but no Spanish girl would ever 
think of such a foolish thing." I am sure, on second 
thoughts, that she would not. That is, in fact, of all 
Spanish faults the gravest: they never, never think 
of foolish things. Only the King dares laugh at 
himself, and at the weighty affairs of his family. 
Last year, just after the publication of the memoirs 
of a certain royal lady of the house, and the high 
scandal that ensued, a new little infanta was born. In 
presenting her to his ministers on the traditional gold 
l^latter, the King said with his dry grin: "I have 
already told her she is never to write a book!" 

Speaking generally, how^ever, the Spanish sense 
of humour is not over-acute. I doubt, for instance, 
if any other people could solemnly arrange and carry 
out a bull-fight for the benefit of the S. P. C. A. 
Yet this actually occurred in Madrid a few years ago ; 
and, the JMadrilenos will tell you with much pride, 
though the seats were much dearer than at other bull- 
fights, every one was filled by some patron of the 
noble cause! 

Like all people of prodigious dignity, the old ac- 
tor never sees the funny side of his own performance. 
He will go off into gales of laughter over the mere 
shape of a foreigner's hat ; but, himself, says and does 
the most absurd things without the slightest jolt to 
his personal soberness. An English lady in Madrid 
told me of a case in point: she was visiting one of 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 223 

the unique foundling-convents of Spain, where super- 
fluous babies may be placed in an open basket in the 
convent wall; the bell that is rung swinging the 
basket inside at the same time. My friend was try- 
ing to learn more of this highly practical institution, 
but the nuns whom she questioned were so over- 
whelmed with amusement at her boots, they could 
only look at her and giggle. 

Finally, in despair, she concluded, "Well, at least 
tell me how many children are brought to you a 
year!" 

By supreme effort, one of the sisters recovered 
her gravity. "We receive about half a baby a day, 
senora," she said, sedately, and could not understand 
why the lady smiled! 

That continual rudeness in the matter of staring 
and laughing at strangers was at first a great sur- 
prise to me — who had always heard of the extrav- 
agant politeness of the Spaniard. I came to know 
that he is polite only along circumscribed lines — until 
he knows you. After that, I believe that you could 
take him at the literal words of his lavish offers, and 
burn his house or dismantle it entirely without protest 
on his part. Though too poor to invite you to a meal, 
he will call at your hotel twice a day to leave flowers 
from his garden, and declare himself at your disposi- 
tion; or to take you to drive in the Castellana. He 
will go to any amount of trouble to prepare small 
surprises for you: a box of sweets, that he has made 
especially; a bit of majolica he has heard you admire; 
an old fan that is an heirloom of his family : every day 



224 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

there is something new, some further token of his 
friendship and thought. 

It is true that, even when able to afford it, he 
shows an Eastern exclusiveness about inviting you to 
his house. I know people who have lived in Madrid 
seventeen years without having been once inside the 
doors of some of their Spanish friends. But this is 
racial habit: the old Oriental tradition of the home 
being sacred to the family itself: not personal slight, 
or snobbishness. There is in it, however, a certain 
caution which offends the franker hospitality of the 
Anglo-Saxon. To go into petty detail, I for one 
have never been able to overcome my resentment of 
the brass peep-holes (in every Si)anish door) through 
which the servant j^eers out at you, before he will let 
you in. I realize that my irritation is quite as childish 
as their precaution; but I cannot conquer my annoy- 
ance at the plain impudence of the thing. 

The same is true of their boundless interest in 
one's affairs. Peasants, shop-keepers, well-dressed 
ladies and gentlemen — everyone! — will gather round, 
to hear a simple question addressed to a policeman in 
the street. They take it for granted that no foreigner 
speaks Spanish, and when the contrary proves the 
case, their curiosity and amazement are increased 
ten- fold. 

I was once in the office of a French typewriter 
company of Madrid, arranging to rent a machine. 
During the intervals in which the agent and I con- 
versed in French he discussed my requirements, ap- 
pearance, and probable profession with a postman, a 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 225 

delivery-boy, an officer who came in to buy pens, and 
the two young lady stenographers in the next room. 
In Spanish, of course, all this ; which I, as a foreigner, 
could not possibly understand. 

This happens over and over again, especially at 
pension tables, where one gleans astounding informa- 
tion as to the geograj^hy and customs of one's coun- 
try (from various good Spaniards who have never 
left their own), until a modest request for the salt — 
proffered in Castilian — throws the entire company 
into horrified confusion. Even then, they will go on 
to comment most candidly to one's face on the peculi- 
arities and generally inferior character of one's coun- 
trymen. But if you turn the tables ever so discreetly, 
they retort in triumph: "Then why have you come to 
Spain? If your own country pleases you, why don't 
you stay there?" 

Travel for amusement or education is simply out- 
side their comprehension — naturally enough, since it 
is outside the possibilities of most of them today as it 
was in the middle ages. We have already seen their 
ideas of other countries to be of the most naive. I 
have been seriously congratulated by Madrilenos on 
the privilege of beholding so fine a thoroughfare as 
the Castellana, such splendid shops as the handful 
scattered r.long the San Geronimo, such a wonderful 
building as the Opera House, which they fondly be- 
lieve "the most beautiful in the world." They are 
generously delighted for me, that after the primitive 
hotels I must have known in other countries I can en- 



226 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

joy for a while the magnificence of their modern 
"Palace." 

They, alas, are too poor to enjoy it. I think there 
is something almost tragic in this fact that the entire 
society of Madrid cannot support the very moderate 
charges of the one first class hotel in the city. When 
one thinks of the dozens of luxurious stopping-places 
in London, New York, and Paris — always crowded 
by a mob of vulgar people with their purses overflow- 
ing, it seems actually cruel that the vieille noblesse of 
the Spanish capital have no money for the simple es- 
tablishment they admire with child-like extravagance. 
The old actor does so delight in pomp — of even the 
mildest variety ; and his youthful shortsightedness has 
left him so pitiably unable to secure it, now in the beg- 
gardom of his old age. 

Half a dozen years ago, the porter of a friend of 
mine in Madrid won a lottery prize of ten thousand 
dollars. No sooner had he come into this fabulous 
wealth, than he and his wife proceeded to rent a house 
on the Castellana, a box at the opera, another at the 
bull-ring; and of course the indispensable carriage 
and pair. The senor had his clubs and racers, the 
senora her jewels, and frocks from Paris; they 
amazed Madrid with their magnificence. 

At the end of six months the ten thousand dollars 
were gone; and the couple went back to the porter's 
lodge, where they have lived happily ever since. 
Could one make the last assertion of two people of 
any other race in the same circumstances? Certainly 
not of two Americans ! But, of course, had they been 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 227 

Americans, they would promptly have invested the 
ten thousand dollars, and doubled it ; in five years they 
would probably have been "millionaires from the 
West." Not so the ingenuous Spaniards. With no 
thought for the morrow, they proceeded to outdo all 
competitors in making a gorgeous today; and, when 
that was done, retired without bitterness to rest on 
their laurels. 

In all of which the good couple may have been 
wiser than they seem. Being true children of their 
race — that is, without the first instincts for "making 
money" — they would naturally have taken what they 
had won, and stretched it carefully over the remain- 
ing half century of their lives. So they could have 
existed in genteel poverty without working. As it 
was, they had their fling — such a one as to set Madrid 
by the ears; they are still famous for their unparal- 
leled prodigality; and they jog along in the service to 
which they were born, utterly content if at the end 
of the day they have an hour or two in which to gloat 
over their one-time splendour. When I think of the 
enforced scrimping and soul-shrivelling calculation 
of the average Madrileno, I am always glad to re- 
member two who threw their bonnets over the mill, 
and had what Americans call "one grand good time." 

It is impossible to conclude this cursory glance at 
some of the more striking of Spanish characteristics 
without mention of the two finest : honesty and lack of 
self-interest. Thej^ go hand in hand throughout this 
country of rock-rooted impulse, and are forever sur- 
prising one used to the modern rule of look-sharp-or- 



228 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

be- worsted. My first shock was in the Rastro (the old 
Thieves' Market of Madrid), when an old man 
candidly informed me that the chain I admired was 
not of gold. It had every appearance of gold, and I 
should have bought it as such; but the shabby old 
salesman shook his head, and gave it to me gladly for 
twenty cents. 

As Taine tells us, the Spanish are not practical; 
which endows them, among other things, with the un- 
profitable quality of honour. In Toledo, just as I 
was taking the train, I discovered that I had lost my 
watch. It occurred to me that I might have dropped 
it in the cab our party had had for a long drive that 
afternoon; but when the hotel proprietor telephoned 
to the stables, he found that the cab had not yet re- 
turned. "However," he told me confidently, "to- 
morrow the cosaria goes to Madrid, and if the watch 
is found she can bring it to you." 

The cosaria (literally the "thing" woman) is an 
institution peculiar to Spain; she goes from town to 
town delivering parcels, produce, and what not — in 
short, she is the express company. Of course I never 
expected to see my watch again, but before six 
o'clock of the following day the cosaria appeared at 
my door in Madrid with the article lost in Toledo — 
seventy miles away. The charge for her services was 
two pesetas (forty cents). When I suggested a 
reward for the coachman, she replied with amazement 
that it would be to insult him! I have visions of an 
American driver running risk of such "insult." He 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 229 

would have been at the pawnshop, and got his ten 
dollars long since. 

An American friend of mine who conducts a 
school for girls in Madrid tells of a still rarer ex- 
perience. One day her butcher came to her in great 
distress. He had been going over his books, and he 
found that the price his assistant had been charging 
the school for soup-bones (daily delivered) was 
twice what it should have been. This, said he with 
abject regret, had been going on unknown to him 
since the first of the year; he therefore owed the 
sefiora nine hundred j)esetas ( one hundred and eighty 
dollars) for bones, and begged her to accept this 
sum on the spot, together with his profoundest 
apologies. 

I call such experiences rare, yet they are of every- 
day occurrence in Spain; so that one knows it was 
not here that Byron said: "I never trust manners, 
for I once had my pocket picked by the civilest gen- 
tleman I ever met with!" In Spai*^, manners and 
morals have an original habit of walking out to- 
gether; and one need not, as in other countries, fear 
a preponderance of the former as probable preclusion 
of the latter. That lack of the practical sense, which 
we wise analysts deplore, has its engaging side when 
it brings back our watch, or saves us paying a gold 
price for brass. 

In the matter of servants, too, one is allured by a 
startling readiness on their part to do as much as, 
even more than, they are paid for. After the surly 
thanks and sour looks of the New York or London 



230 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

menial for anything under a quarter, the broad smile 
of the Spanish for five cents is quite an episode in 
one's life. The breath-taking part of it is that the 
smile is still forthcoming when the five cents is not; 
this is frightfully disturbing to one's nicely arranged 
opinions of the domestic class. 

But it makes living in JSIadrid very agreeable. 
Like the rest of their countrj'^men, servants before 
they know you are inclined to be suspicious, and polite 
only along circumscribed lines, but once they have 
accepted you your position in their eyes is unim- 
peachable, and the service they Mall render has no 
limits. This standard of judgment of a very old 
country : the standard, throughout all classes, of judg- 
ment of the individual for what he proves himself to 
be, is extremely interesting as opposed to the instan- 
taneous judgment and unquestioning acceptance of 
him as he outwardly appears to be by the very young 
country of America. To the American it is a dis- 
grace to serve — or, at least, to admit that he is serv- 
ing ; to the Spaniard it is a disgrace not to serve, with 
his utmost powers and grace, anyone worthy of recog- 
nition whatsoever. 

Wherefore Spanish maids and men are the most 
loyal and devoted the world over. They will run their 
feet off for you all day long, and sit up half the night 
too if you will let them, finishing some task in which 
they are interested. When you are ill, they make the 
most thoughtful of nurses, never sparing themselves 
if it is to give you even a fractional amount of com- 
fort. And to all your thanks they return a deprecat- 



THE BROKEN-DOWN ACTOR 231 

ing "for nothing — for nothing." They have never 
heard of "an eight-hour day"; the Union of Domestic 
Labour would be to them a title in Chinese ; yet they 
find life worth living. They are even^breathe it not 
among the moderns! — contented; still more strange, 
they are considered, and whenever possible spared, by 
their unmodern masters and mistresses. 

It is the civilization of an unpractical people; a 
people not in terror of giving something for nothing, 
but eager always to give more. They are, I believe, 
the one peoj^le to whom money — in the human rela- 
tions of life — never occurs. And so, of course, they 
are despised by other peoples — for their poverty, their 
lack of "push." Nowadays we worship the genius of 
Up-To-Date: his marvellous invention, his lightning 
calculation and keen move; his sweating, struggling, 
superman's performance, day by day — and his final 
triumph. We disdain the old actor of mere grand- 
iloquence, content to dream, passive in his corner. 

Yet are his childishness and self-sufficiency, even 
his ignorance, so much meaner than the greed and 
sordidness and treachery of the demigod of today? 
And is the inexorable activity of the modern "Napo- 
leon of finance" so surely worth more than the atti- 
tude of the shabby old man who refused to sell brass 
for gold? 



IN REVIEW 

(London) 



THE CRITICS 

Coming into London from Paris or New York, 
or even from Madrid, is like alighting from a brilliant 
panoramic railway onto solid, unpretentious mother 
earth. The massive bulk of bridges, the serene state- 
liness of ancient towers and spires, the restful green 
sweep of park — unbroken by flower-beds or too many 
trees; the quiet leisure of the JNIall, and the sedate 
brown palace overlooking it : all is tranquil, dignified, 
soothing. One leans against the cushions of one's 
beautifully luxurious taxi, and sighs profound con- 
tentment. Here is order, well-being, peace! 

And yonder, typical of it all, as the midinette is 
typical of Paris and the torero of Spain, stands the 
imperturbable London "bobby." Already you have 
met his Southampton or Dover cousin on the pier; 
where the latter's calm, competent orders made the 
usual flurried transfer from boat to train a simple 
matter. Too, you have made acquaintance with that 
policeman-in-embryo, the English porter. His 
brisk, capable answers: "Yes, sir. This way, please 
sir. Seven-twenty at Victoria, right, sir!": and his 
deft piloting of you and your luggage into the haven 

235 



236 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

of an empty carriage — in these days of frenzied de- 
mocracy, whence can one derive such exotic comfort 
as from a servant who acknowledges himself a ser- 
vant, and performs his servant's duties to perfection? 

I used to wonder why travelling in England is 
so much more agreeable than travelling in America, 
with all the conveniences the latter boasts. I think 
it is because, where America gives you things to make 
you comfortable, England gives you people — a host 
of them, well trained and intent only on serving you. 
The personal contact makes all the difference, with 
one's flattered vanity. The policeman, the porter, the 
guard who finds one a seat, the boy who brings one a 
tea-basket, finally the chauffeur who drives one to an 
hotel and the doorman who grasps one's bag: each 
and all tacitly insinuate that they exist to look out for 
oneself in particular, for all men in general. What 
wonder that Englishmen are snobs? Their universe 
revolves round them, is made for as well as by them; 
and what they want, when they want it, is always 
within arm's reach. They are the inventors and per- 
f ectors of the Groove. 

But no one can accuse them of being sj'^barites. 
Comfort, luxury, the elaborate service vrith which 
they insist on being surrounded are only accessory to 
a root-idea which may even be called a passion: the 
producing of great men. To this, as to all great crea- 
tion, routine is necessary, and the careful systematiz- 
ing of life into classes and sub-classes, each with its 
special duties. English people actually love their 
duties, they are taught from childhood to love them; 



IN REVIEW 237 

and to attend to them before everything. A's reward, 
when work is finished, they have the manifold pleas- 
ures of home. This is odd indeed, to the American or 
European — to whom duty is a dreary thing, to be 
avoided whenever possible ; and home a place to leave, 
in search of pleasure, not to come back to. In con- 
sequence, the general summary of England is: "dull." 

English people are called dull — "heavy" is the 
more popular word — because they do not gather on 
street-corners or in cafes, arguing and gesticulating, 
but go methodically about their business; leaving the 
stranger to do the same. Of course, if the latter has 
no business, this is depressing. Here he is in an un- 
known country, with nothing to do but sight-see, 
W'hich bores him infinitely. There is no one with whom 
to talk, no pleasant congregating-spot where he could 
at least look on at, if not share in, the life of the peo- 
ple. He is thrown dismally back upon himself for 
diversion. So what does he do? He goes and sees the 
sights, w hich w as his duty from the beginning. Just 
as he goes to bed at midnight because every place 
except bed is closed against him; and to church on 
Sundays because every building except church is shut. 
England not only expects every man to do his duty, 
she makes it practically impossible for him to do any- 
thing else ; by which she shrewdly gains his maximum 
efficiency when and where she needs it. 

In return, or rather in preparation, she gives him 
a remarkably fine groundwork, both mental and phys- 
ical, to start with. No foreigner can fail to be im- 
pressed with the minute care and thought bestowed 



238 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

upon English children, and the sacrifices gladly made 
to secure their health and best development. In com- 
parison with French and American and Spanish par- 
ents, the English mother and father may seem 
undemonstrative, even cold; they do not gush over 
their children in public, nor take them out to res- 
taurants, or permit them to share their own meals at 
home. Neither, however, do they give them the least 
comfortable rooms in the house, and decree that their 
wants and needs shall be second to those of the adult 
members of the family. The children have a routine 
of their own, constructed carefully for them, and 
studied to fit their changing requirements. They have 
their own rooms — as large and light and sunny as the 
parents can contrive — their own meals, of wholesome 
food served at sensible hours ; their fixed time for ex- 
ercise and study alike: everything is planned to give 
them the best possible start for mind and body. 

"But," the French or American mother objects, 
when one extols this system, "it takes so much money; 
so many rooms, so many servants — two distinct house- 
holds, in fact." It takes a different distribution of 
money, that is all. As the children are never on show, 
their clothes are simple ; the clothes of the parents are 
apt to be simple too. Amusement is not sought out- 
side the home in England, as it is in other countries; 
both interest and money are centred within the house 
and garden that is each man's castle. This makes 
possible many comforts which people of other coun- 
tries look upon as luxuries, but which to the English- 
man and woman are the first necessities. And pri- 



IN REVIEW 239 

mary among these is a healthful, cheerful place to 
rear their children. 

Not only the wealthy, but people in very modest 
circumstances insist upon this; and in houses of but 
six or seven rooms one finds the largest and airiest 
given over to the day and night nurseries for the chil- 
dren. Fresh chintz and white paint and simple furni- 
ture make these the most attractive as well as most 
sensible surroundings for the small people. Nurses, 
teachers, school- fellows, the whole chain of influence 
linking the development of the English child, em- 
phasize the idea of physical fitness as a first es- 
sential. And this idea is so early instilled, and so 
constantly and emphatically fostered, that it becomes 
the kernel of the grown man's activity. The stern 
creed that only the fit survive rules England almost 
as it ruled old Sparta: a creed terrible for the weak, 
but splendid for the strong; and that has produced 
such men as Gordon, Rhodes, Kitchener, Curzon and 
Roberts — and hundreds of others, the fruit of this 
rigorous policy. 

First the home, then the public schools teacK it. 
At school, a boy must establish himself by his proven 
prowess in one direction or another. To gain a foot- 
ing, and then to hold it, he must do something — row, 
or play cricket or football; but play, and play hard, 
he must. The other boys force him to it, whether he 
will or no ; hardness is their religion, and those who do 
not conform to it are practically finished before they 
begin. The reputation won at school lays or perma- 
nently fails to lay the foundation of after success. 



240 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

"Hm . . . yes, I remember him at Eton," has sum- 
marized many a man's chances for promotion or fail- 
ure. Rarely does he prove himself to be worth later 
more than he was worth then. 

It is interesting to follow the primitive ideal, of 
bodily perfection, throughout this old and perhaps 
most finely developed civilization of the present. In 
the hurry-scurry of modern affairs, when other men 
pay little or no heed to preserving their bodily 
strength, never does this cease to be the first con- 
sideration of the Englishman. He wants money and 
position and power quite as keenly as other men want 
them; but he has been born and reared in the knowl- 
edge that to gain these things, then to enjoy them, 
sound nerves are necessary. His impulse is to store 
up energy faster than he spends it, and not to waste 
himself on a series of trifles someone else can do as 
well if not better than he. 

Hence the carefully ordered routine he follows 
from childhood; the systematic exercise, the frequent 
holidays his strenuous American cousin scoffs at. 
All are designed to keep him hard and fit, and ready 
for emergencies that may demand surplus strength. 
]Middle-aged men play the game and follow the hob- 
bies of young men; the elderly vie with the middle- 
aged. In England, the fast and fixed lines that 
divide youth from maturity are blurred by the hearty 
good comradeship of sport; in which all ages and 
classes share alike. Sport is not a hobby with the 
Englishman; it is the backbone of his existence. 
Therefore, I think, it is so hard for the foreigner to 



IN REVIEW 241 

enter into the real sports spirit of England : he never 
quite appreciates the vital motive behind it. With the 
Frenchman and the American and the Spaniard — 
even with the Austrian — sport is recreation ; they take 
it apart from the business of life, where the English- 
man takes it as essential to life itself. By it he es- 
tablishes and maintains his working efficiency, and 
without it he would have lost his chief tool, and his 
perennial remedy for whatever ills befall him. 

Obviously, it is this demand for physical perfec- 
tion that underlies and engenders the national wor- 
ship of race ; and that is responsible, in the last analy- 
sis, for the renowned snobbishness of the English. 
Someone has said that English Society revolves 
round the King and the horse — or, as he might 
have added, round the supreme symbols of hu- 
man and animal development. That towards 
which everyone is striving — to breed finer and 
stronger creatures — is crystallized in these two super- 
lative types. While from the King down, on the hu- 
man side, the scale is divided into the most minute 
shades of gradation. 

As government in England tends to become more 
and more democratic, society tends to become more 
aristocratic — as far as magnifying ancient names and 
privileges is concerned. "A title is always a title," 
said a practical American lady, "but an English title 
is just a bit better." It is, because English people 
think so, and have thought it so long and so emphati- 
cally that they have brought every^one else to that 
opinion. The same is true of many English institu- 



242 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

tions, admirable in themselves but which actually are 
admired because the English admire them. Every 
nation is more or less egoist, but none is so sincerely 
and consistently egoist as the English. They travel 
the earth, but they travel to observe and criticize ; not 
to assimilate foreign things. 

The American is a chameleon, taking on the habits 
and ideas of each place as he lives in it; Latins have 
not a little of this character too. But the Briton, 
wherever he goes, remains the Briton: you never mis- 
take him, in Palestine or Alaska or the South Sea Is- 
lands: no matter where he is, he has brought his tea 
and his tub and his point of view with him. And, 
though he may be one among thousands of another 
nationality, somehow these others become impressed 
with his traditions rather than he with theirs. Per- 
haps because away fror^ home, he calmly pursues the 
home routine, adjusting the life of his temporary hab- 
itation to himself, rather than himself to it. If he 
is accustomed to dress for dinner, he dresses; though 
the rest of the company may appear in corduroys and 
neckerchiefs. And continues to dress, imperturbably, 
no matter how mercilessly he may be ridiculed or 
even despised. If he is accustomed to take tea at a 
certain hour, he takes it — in Brazil or Thibet, it makes 
no difference. And the same is true of his religious 
observance, his beloved exercise, his hobbies and his 
study: of all these things he is too firmly convinced 
to change them by one jot. Such an attitude is 
bound to have its effect on these peristently con- 
fronted with it; resentment, then curiosity, finally a 



IN REVIEW «43 

certain grudging respect is born in the minds of the 
people on whom the EngHshman serenely forces his 
superiority. They wonder about his country — he 
never sounds its praises or urges them to visit it. He 
simply speaks with complete contentment of "going 
home." 

When the foreigner, often out of very pique, fol- 
lows him thither, he is met with the same indifference 
shown him in his own land. Visiting strangers may 
come or go: while they are in England, they are 
treated with civility ; w hen they choose to depart, they 
are not pressed to remain. This tranquil self-suffi- 
ciency is galling to the majority, who go away to sulk, 
and to denounce the English as a race of "dull snobs." 
Yet they come back again — and again; and continue 
to hammer at the door labelled "British Reserve," and 
to be snubbed, and to swallow their pride and begin 
anew, until finally they pry their w^ay in by sheer ob- 
stinacy — and because no one cares very much, after 
all, whether they are in or not. London is so vast and 
so diverse, in its social ramifications, it can admit thou- 
sands of aliens a year and remain quite unconscious 
of them. 

Americans in particular are quick to realize this, 
and, out of their natural arrogance, bitterly to resent 
it. At home they explain rather piteously, they are 
"r'omeone"; here, their money is accepted, but they 
themselves are despised — or, at best, barely tolerated. 
They who are used to carry all before them find them- 
selves patronized, smiled at indulgently — or, worst of 
aU, ignored. In short, the inexperienced yomig actors 



244 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

come before an audience of seasoned critics, whom 
they cannot persuade to take them seriously. For 
they soon discover that there is no "bkiffing" these 
calmly judicial people, but that merit alone — of one 
sort or another — succeeds with them. 

They are not to be "impressed" by tales of reck- 
less expenditure or intimate allusions to grand dukes 
and princesses seen on the promenades of Continental 
"cures." On the contrary, they are won over in no 
time by something the American would never think 
of using as a wedge — unaffected simplicity. But why 
should one want to win them — whether one be Ameri- 
can or French, Spanish, German, or any other self- 
respecting egoist-on-one's-own ? Why does one al- 
ways want to win the critical? 

Because they set a standard. The English have 
set standards since ever they were at all: wise stand- 
ards, foolish standards, some broad and finely toler- 
ant, others absurdly narrow and short-sighted. But 
always they live by strict established rule, to which 
they demand of themselves exacting conformity. 
Each class has its individual ten commandments — as 
is possible where classes are so definitely graded and 
set apart; each man is born to obey the decalogue of 
his class — or to be destroyed. Practically limitless 
personal liberty is his, within the laws of his partic- 
ular section of society ; but let him once overstep these, 
and he soon finds himself in gaol of one kind or an- 
other. 

Foreigners feel all this, and respond to it; just as 
they respond to the French criterion of beauty, the 



IN REVIEW 245 

American criterion of wealth. England for centuries 
has stood for the prccieux of society, in the large 
significance of the term; before her unwavering ideal 
of race, other people voluntarily come to be judged 
for distinction, as they go to Paris to be judged for 
their artistic quality, to New York for their powers 
of accomplishment. Today more than ever, London 
confers the social diploma of the world which makes 
it, of course, the world's Mecca and chief meeting- 
place. 

This has completely changed the character of the 
conservative old city, from a provincial insular capital 
into a great cosmopolitan centre. Necessarily it has 
leavened the traditional British self-satisfaction, while 
that colossus slept, by the introduction of new prin- 
ciples, new problems, new points of view. The critic 
remains the critic, but he must march with the times — 
or lose his station. And conservatism is a dotard 
nowadays. Each new republic, as it comes along, 
shoves the old man a foot further towards his grave. 
Expansion is the battle-cry of the present, and critics 
and actors alike must look alive, and modulate their 
voices to the chorus. 

A bewildering babel of tunes is the natural result 
in this transition period, but many of them are fine 
and all are interesting. England lifts her voice to 
announce that she is not an island but an Empire; 
and it is the fashion in London now to treat Colonials 
with civility, even actually to fete them. Autre 
temps, autre mceurs! We have heard Mr. Bernard 
Shaw's charwoman ask her famous daughter of the 



M6 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

Halls: "But what'll his duchess mother be thinkin* 
if the dook marries a ballyrina, with me for a mother- 
in-law?" And the answer: "Indeed, she says she's 
glad he'll have somebody to pay his income tax, when 
it goes to twenty shillings in the pound!" 

The outcry against American peeresses and 
musical comedy marchionesses has long since died into 
a murmur, and a feeble murmur at that. Since an- 
other astute playwright suggested that the race of 
Vere de Vere might be distinctly improved by the 
infusion of some healthy vulgar blood, and a chin 
or two amongst them, the aristocratic gates have 
opened almost eagerly to receive these alien beauties. 
In politics, too, new blood is welcomed ; as it is in the 
Church, in the universities, and even in that haughtiest 
of citadels, the county. The egoism of England is 
becoming a more practical egoism: she is beginning 
to see where she can use the things she has hitherto 
disdained, and is almost pathetically anxious to make 
up for lost time. But, for ballast, she has always her 
uncompromising standards, by which both things and 
people must be weighed and found good, before being 
accepted. 

In short, while the bugaboo of invasion and the 
more serious menace of Socialism have grown up to 
lead pessimists to predict ruin for the country, subtler 
influences have been at work to make her greater than 
ever before. The signs of conflict are almost always 
hopeful signs; only stagnation spells ruin. And 
where once the English delighted to stagnate — or at 
least to sit within their insular shell and admire them- 



IN REVIEW 247 

selves without qualification — now they are looking 
keenly about, to acquire useful men and methods from 
every possible source. Finding, a bit to their own 
surprise, that, rather than diminishing their prestige 
in the process, they are strengthening it. 

The routine is being amplified, made to fit the 
spirit of the time, which is a spirit of progress above 
all things. John Bull has evolved from a hard-riding, 
hard-drinking, provincial squire into a keen-thinking 
tactician with cosmopolitan tendencies and breadth of 
view. From London as his reviewing-stand, he 
scrutinizes the nations as they pass; and his judgment 
— but that is for another chapter. 



II 

THE JUDGMENT 

"Now learn what morals critics ought to show, 

"For 'tis but half a judge's task to know," 
says Pope, who himself was hopelessly immoral in 
the manufacture of couplets. And what two men 
ever agreed on morality, anyhow? The personal 
equation is never more prominent than in the expres- 
sion of the "individual's views," as nowadays ethics are 
dubbed. One may fancy oneself the most catholic of 
judges, yet one constantly betrays the hereditary 
prejudices that can be modified but never quite cast 
off. 

I was recently with an Englishman at an outdoor 
variety theatre in Madrid. We sat restively through 
the miserable, third-rate performance, grumbling at 
each number as it proved worse than the last, and 
finally waxing positively indignant over the ear-split- 
ting trills and outrageous contortions of the prima 
donna of the evening. "Still," said the Englishman 
suddenly, "she has had the energy to keep herself fit, 
and to come out here and do something. Really, she 
isn't so bad, you know, after all." 

Before she had finished, he was actually approv- 

248 



IN REVIEW 249 

ing of her : her mere physical soundness had conquered 
him, and her adlierence to his elemental creed of "do- 
ing something" and doing it with all one's might. 
The artistic and the sentimental viewpoints, which 
the Englishman always wears self-consciously, slip 
away from him like gossamer when even the most in- 
direct appeal is made to his fetish of physical fitness. 
In respect of this, he is by no means a snob, but a true 
democrat. 

As a matter of fact, there are many breaks in the 
haughty traditional armour. It is in New York, not 
London, that one hears severe discussion of A's 
charwoman grandmother, B's lady's maid mother, 
C's father who deals in tinned beans. What London 
wants to know is what A, B, and C do; and how they 
do it. Snobbism turns its searchlight on the individ- 
ual, not on his forbears ; though to the individual it is 
merciless enough. In consequence, the city has be- 
came a sort of international Athenaeum, a clearing- 
ground for the theories, dreams and fanaticisms of 
all men. 

I remember being tremendously impressed, at my 
very first London tea-party, by the respect and keen 
interest shown each of the various enthusiasts gath- 
ered there. A Labour leader, a disciple of Buddhism, 
the founder of a new kind of dramatic school, a mis- 
sionary from the Congo and a Post-Impressionist 
painter : all were listened to, in turn, and their several 
hobbies received with lively attention. The Labour 
leader got a good deal of counter-argument, the Post- 
Impressionist his share of good-humoured chaffing; 



250 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

but everyone was given the floor, and a chance to beat 
his particular drum as hard as he Kked, until the next 
came on. 

The essential thing, in London, is that one shall 
have a drum to beat; small talk, and the polite 
platitudes that sway the social reunions of New York 
and Paris, are relegated to the very youthful or the 
very dull. Nor is cleverness greeted with the raised 
eyebrow of dismay ; people are not afraid, or too lazy, 
to think. One sees that in the newspapers, the books 
and plays, as well as in the drawing-room conversa- 
tion of the English. The serious, even the so-called 
heavy, topics, as well as the subtle, finely ironic, and 
sharply critical, are given place and attention ; not by 
a few precieux alone, but by the mass of the people. 
And not to be well informed is to be out of the world, 
for both men and women. 

Of course, there is the usual set of "smart" fash- 
ionables who delight in ignorance and whose languid 
energies are spent between clothes and the newest one- 
step. But these are no more typical of London so- 
ciety than they are of any other ; though in the minds 
of many intelligent foreigners they have become so, 
through having their doings conspicuously chronicled 
in foreign newspapers and by undiscriminating visi- 
tors returning from England. On one point, this 
confusion of English social sets is easily understood: 
they share the same moral leniency that permits all to 
lend themselves to situations and ideas which scandal- 
ize the foreigner. 

It is not that as a people they are more vicious 



IN REVIEW «61 

than any other, but they are franker in their vice; 
they have no fine shades. An American woman told 
me of the shock she received at her first EngHsh 
house-party, where her hostess — a friend of years, 
who had several times visited her in New York — knew 
scarcely one-half of her own guests. The rest were 
"friends," without whom nothing would induce cer- 
tain ladies and gentlemen to come, 

"It wasn't the fact of it," said the Americaine, 
candidly; "of course such things exist everywhere, 
but they aren't so baldly apparent and certainly they 
aren't discussed. Those people actually quarrelled 
about the arrangement of rooms, and changed about 
with the most bare-faced openness. My hostess and 
I were the only ones who didn't pair, and we were 
simply regarded as hypocrites without the courage of 
our desires." 

All of which is perfectly true, and an everyday oc- 
currence in English social life. The higher up the 
scale, the broader tolerance becomes. "Depend upon 
it," said a lady of the old regime, "God Almighty 
thinks twice before he condemns persons of quality!" 
And, in England, mere human beings, to be on the 
safe side, do not condemn them at all. The middle- 
class (the sentimentalists of every nation) lead a life 
of severe rectitude — and revel in the sins of their bet- 
ters, which they invent if the latter have none. But di- 
rectly a man is a gentlemen, or a woman a lady, every- 
thing is allowable. Personal freedom within the class 
laws holds good among morals as among manners; 
and the result is rather horrifying to the stranger. 



25« THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

French people, for example, are far more shocked 
at the English than the English are at them. With 
the former, the offense is against good taste — always 
a worse crime, in Latin eyes, than any mere breach of 
ethics. The Englishman's unvarnished candour in 
airing his private affairs appears to the Latin as crass 
and unnecessary; while in the Englishwoman it be- 
comes to him positively repellent. The difference, 
throughout, in the two races, is the difference between 
the masculine and the feminine points of view. Eng- 
land is ever and always a man's country. Even the 
women look at things through the masculine vision, 
and to an extent share the masculine prerogatives. 
As long as a woman's husband accepts what she does, 
everyone accepts her ; which explains how in the coun- 
try where women are clamouring most frantically for 
equal privileges, a great number of women enjoy 
privileges unheard of by their "free" sisters of other 
lands. 

It is a question of position, not of sex ; and harks 
back — moral privilege, I mean — to that core of all 
EngHsh institutions : breeding. There are no bounds 
to the latitude allowed the great, though it does not 
seem to occur to the non- great that such license in it- 
self brings into question the rights of many who hold 
old names and ancient titles. Succession,that all-ini- 
portant factor of the whole social system, is hedged 
about with many an interrogation point ; which society 
is pleased to ignore, nevertheless, on the ground of 
noblesse oblige! Above a certain stratum, the Eng- 
Hsh calmly dispense with logic, and bestow divine 



IN REVIEW «53 

rights on all men alike; obviously it is the only thing 
to do, and besides it confers divine obligations at the 
same time. 

One must say for all Englishmen that rarely if 
ever, in their personal liberty, do they lose sight 
of their obligations. In the midst of after- 
dinner hilarity, one will see a club-room empty as if 
by magic, and the members hurry away in taxis or 
their own limousines. One knows that a division is 
to be called for, and that it wants perhaps ten minutes 
of the hour. The same thing happens at balls or al- 
most any social function : the men never fail to attend 
when they can, for they are distinctly social creatures ; 
but they keep a quiet eye on the clock, and slip out 
when duty calls them eleswhere. This serves two 
excellent purposes: of preventing brain-fag among 
the "big" men of the hour, and leading the zest of 
their interests and often great undertakings to so- 
ciety — which in many countries never sees them. 

In England politics and society are far more 
closely allied than in America or on the Continent. 
Each takes colour from the other, and becomes more 
significant thereby. The fact of a person's being 
born to great wealth and position, instead of turning 
him into an idle spendthrift, compels his taking an 
important part in the affairs of the country. The 
average English peer is about as hard-working a man 
as can be found, unless it be the King himself; and 
the average English hostess, far from being a butter- 
fly of pleasure, has a round of duties as exacting as 
those of the Prime INIinister. Through all the delight- 



254 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

ful superficial intercourse of a London season, there 
is an undercurrent of serious purpose, felt and shared 
by everyone, though by each one differently. 

At luncheons, dinners, garden-parties and recep- 
tions the talk veers sooner or later towards politics 
and national affairs. All "sets," the fashionable, the 
artistic, the sporting, the adventurous, as well as the 
politicians themselves, meet and become absorbed in 
last night's debate or the Bill to come up for its third 
reading tomorrow. By the way, for a foreigner to 
participate in these bouts of keen discussion, he must 
become addicted to the national habit: before going 
anywhere, he must read the Times. 

As regularly as he takes his early cup of tea, every 
self-respecting Englishman after breakfast retires 
into a corner mth the Times, and never emerges until 
he has masticated the last paragraph. Then and only 
then is he ready to go forth for the day, properly 
equipped to do battle. And he speedily discovers if 
you are not similarly prepared — and beats you. Of 
all the characteristic English things I can think of, 
none is so English as the Times. In it you find, be- 
sides full reports of political proceedings and the 
usual births, marriages, and deaths, letters from Eng- 
lishmen all the way from Halifax to Singapore. Let- 
ters on the incapacity of American servants, the best 
method of breeding Angora cats, the water system of 
the Javanese (have they any?), how to travel com- 
fortably in Cochin China, the abominable manners of 
German policemen, the dangers of eating lettuce in 
Palestine, etc., etc. Signals are raised to all English- 



IN REVIEW 255 

men everywhere, warning them what to do and what 
to leave undone, and how they shall accomplish both. 
Column upon column of the conservative old news- 
paper is devoted to this sort of correspondence club, 
which has for its motto that English classic: preven- 
tion, to avoid necessity for cure. 

The Englishman at home reads it all, carefully, 
together with the answers to the correspondents of 
yesterday, the interminable speech of Lord X in the 
Upper House last night, the latest bulletins concern- 
ing the health of the Duchess of Y. It is solid, un- 
sensational mental food, and he digests it thoroughly ; 
storing it away for practical future use. But the 
foreigner, accustomed to the high seasoning of 
journalistic epigram and the tang of scandal, finds it 
very dull. Unfortunately, the mission of the news- 
paper in most countries has become the promoting 
of a certain group of men, or a certain party, or a 
certain cause, and the damning of every other man or 
party or cause that stands in the way. The English 
press has none of this flavour. It is imbued with the 
national instinct for fair play, which, while it by no 
means prohibits lively discussion of men and meas- 
ures, remains strictly impersonal in its attitude of 
attack. 

The critic on the whole is inclined to deserve his 
title as it was originally defined; one who judges im- 
partially, according to merit. He is a critic of men 
and affairs, however, rather than of art. He lives 
too much in the open to give himself extensively to 
artistic study or creation. And Englishmen have. 



»56 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

generally speaking, distinguished themselves as fight- 
ers, explorers, soldiers of fortune, and as organizers 
and statesmen, rather than as musicians, painters, and 
men of letters. 

Especially in the present day is this true. There 
are the Scots and Shackletons, the Kitcheners, Rob- 
erts, and Curzons; but where are the Merediths, 
Brownings, Turners, and Gainsboroughs ? Litera- 
ture is rather better off than the other arts — there is 
an occasional Wells or Bennett among the host of 
the merely talented and painstaking; more than an 
occasional novelist among the host of fictioneers. 
But poets are few and uneventful, playwrights more 
abundant though tinged with the charlatanism of the 
age; while as for the painters, sculptors and com- 
posers, in other countries the protagonists of the pe- 
culiar violence and revolution of today — in England, 
who are they? 

We go to exhibitions by the dozen, during the 
season, and listen conscientiously to the latest tenor; 
but seldom do we see art or hear music. In the past, 
the great English artists have been those who painted 
portraits, landscapes, or animals ; reproducing out of 
experience the men and women, horses, dogs, and out- 
of-doors they knew so well; rather than creating out 
of imagination dramatic scenes and pictures of the 
struggle and splendour of life. Their art has been 
a peaceful art, the complement rather than the mir- 
ror of the heroic militancy that always has domi- 
nated English activity. Similarly, the musicians — 
the few that have existed — have surpassed in com- 



IN REVIEW 267 

positions of the sober, stately order, oratorios, chorals, 
hymns and solemn marches. Obviously, peace and 
solemnity are incongruous with the restless, rushing 
spirit of today, to which the Englishman is victim 
together with all men, but which, with his slower artic- 
ulation, he is not able to express on canvas or in 
chromatics. 

Cubism terrifies him; on the other hand he is, for 
the moment at least, insanely intrigued by ragtime. 
The hoary ballad, which "Mr. Percy Periwell will 
sing this day at Southsea Pier," is giving way at last 
to syncopated ditties which form a mere accompani- 
ment to the reigning passion for jigging. No one 
has time to listen to singing; everyone must keep 
moving, as fast and furiously as he can. There is a 
spice of tragi-comedy in watching the mad wave hit 
sedate old London, sweeping her off her feet and 
into a maze of frantically risque contortions. Court 
edicts, the indignation of conservative dowagers, the 
severity of bishops and the press — nothing can stop 
her; from Cabinet ministers to house-maids, from 
debutantes to duchesses, "everybody's doing it," with 
vim if not with grace. And such is the craze for 
dancing, morning, noon and night, that every other 
room one enters has the aspect of a salle de bal — 
chairs and sofas stiff against the walls, a piano at one 
end, and, for the rest, shining parquetry. 

Looking in at one of these desecrated drawing- 
rooms, where at the moment a peer of the realm was 
teaching a marchioness to turkey-trot, a lady of the 



258 THE MECCAS OF THE WORLD 

old order wished to know "What, ^cciliat would Queen 
Victoria say?" 

"Madam," replied her escort, also of the epoch of 
square dances and the genteel crinoline, "the late 
Queen was above all things else a gentlewoman. She 
had no language with which to describe the present 
civilization!" 

It is not a pretty civilization, surely; it is even in 
many ways a profane one. Yet in its very profani- 
ties there is a force, a tremendous and splendid vital- 
ity, that in the essence of it must bring about un- 
heard-of and glorious things. Our sentimentalism 
rebels against motor-buses in Park Lane, honking 
taxis eliminating the discreet hansom of more leis- 
urely years; we await with mingled awe and horror 
the day just dawning, when the sky itself will be 
cluttered with whizzing, whirring vehicles. But give 
us the chance to go back and be rid of these things — 
who would do it? 

As a matter of fact, we have long since crossed 
from the sentimental to the practical. We are des- 
perately, fanatically practical in these days ; we want 
all we can get, and as an afterthought hope that it 
will benefit us when we get it. England has caught 
the spirit less rapidly than many of the nations, but 
she has caught it. No longer does she smile super- 
ciliously at her colonies; she wants all that they can 
give her. Far from ignoring them, she is using 
every scheme to get in touch; witness the Island Site 
and the colonial offices fast going up on that great 
tract of land beyond Kingsway. No longer does 



IN REVIEW 259 

she sniff at her American cousins, but anxiously looks 
to their support in the slack summer season, and has 
everything marked with dollar-signs beforehand! 
Since the Entente Cordiale, too, she throws wide her 
doors to her neighbours from over the Channel: let 
everyone come, who in any way can aid the old island 
kingdom to realize its new ideal of a great Empire 
federation. 

Doctor John5on's assertion that "all foreigners 
are mostly fools," may have been the opinion of Doc- 
tor Johnson's day; it is out-of-date in the present. 
English standards are as exacting, English judg- 
ments as strict, as ever they were; but to those who 
measure up to them, whatever their race or previous 
history, generous appreciation is given. And I know 
of no land where the reformer, the scientist, the 
philosopher — the man with a message of any kind — 
is granted fairer hearing or more just reward; always 
provided his wares are trade-marked genuine. 

"Nonsense of enthusiasts is very different from 
nonsense of ninnies," was the conclusion of one of the 
wisest Englishmen who ever lived. And the critical 
country has adopted it as a slogan; writing across 
the reverse side of her banner: "Freedom and fair 
play for all men." 



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