Skip to main content

Full text of "Penguin persons & peppermints"

See other formats


IRLF 




B M IDE 




? 



PENGUIN PERSONS 
PEPPERMINTS 



PENGUIN PERSONS 
PEPPERMINTS 



BY 

WALTER PRICHARD EATON 

AUTHOR OF 

green Trails & Upland ^Pastures, flays & flayers, 
The Idyl of TW/z Fires, &c. 




W. A. WILDE COMPANY 

BOSTON - - CHICAGO 



Copyrighted 1922 

By W. A. WILDE COMPANY 

All rights reserved 

Penguin Persons and Peppermints 

22 









J^ittle Sister 

who was born just in time 

to know the old, quiet ways of life 

in their gentle decline to 

know and to love 

them 




Contents 

"Page 

Author s Foreword ix 

Penguin Persons I 

Spring Comes to Thumping Dick 18 

The Passing of the Stage Sundial 33 

On Singing Songs with One Finger .... 41 

The Immorality of Shop-windows 46 

A Forgotten American Poet 51 

New Poetry and the Lingering Line .... 65 

The Lies We Learn in Our Youth 77 

The Bad Manners of Polite People 87 

On Giving Up Golf Forever 96 

"Grape-Vine" Erudition 108 

Business Before Grammar 114 

Wood Ashes and Progress 1 1 8 

The Vacant Room in Drama 128 

On Giving an Author a Plot 132 

The Twilight Veil 136 

Spring in the Garden 154 

The Bubble, Reputation . .168 

The Old House on the Bend 180 

Concerning Hat-trees 184 

The Shrinking of Kingman s Field 189 

Mumblety-peg and Middle Age 211 

Barber Shops of Yesterday 229 

The Button Box 234 

Peppermints 239 




^Author s Foreword 

IT is not a little unfortunate that no one can 
attempt the essay form nowadays, more especially 
that type of essay which is personal, reminiscent, 
"an open letter to whom it may concern," with 
out being accused of trying to write like Charles 
Lamb. Of course, if we were ever accused of 
succeeding, that would be another story! There 
is, to be sure, no doubt that the gentle Elia im 
pressed his form and method on all English writers 
who followed him, and still reaches out across 
a century to threaten with his high standards 
those who still venture into this pleasant and 
now so neglected field. Such are the rigors of 
triumphant gentleness. Still and he would have 
been the first to recognize the fact it is rather 
unfair to demand of every essayist the revelation 
of a personality like Lamb s. Fundamentally, all 
literature, even naturalistic drama, is the reve 
lation of a personality, a point of view. But it 
is the peculiar flavor of the essay that it reveals 



x Author s Foreword 

an author through his chat about himself, his 
friends, his memories and fancies, in something 
of the direct manner of a conversation or a letter; 
and he himself feels, in writing, a delightful 
sense of intimacy with his future readers. That 
Lamb was a master of this art like no other, 
without a visible or probable rival, hardly con 
stitutes a reason for denying to less delightful 
men and gifted artists the right also to practice 
it, to put themselves and their intimate little 
affairs and idiosyncrasies into direft and personal 
touch with such few readers as they may find. 
For the readers of his essays are the author s 
friends in a sense that the readers of his novels 
or dissertations, or the witnesses of his plays, 
can never be. There will be no story to hold 
them, no fictional, independent characters, no 
ideas nor arguments on high questions of policy. 
There will be only a joint interest in the mi 
nutiae of life. If I like cats and snowstorms, and 
you like cats and snowstorms, we are likely to 
come together on that mutual ground, and clasp 
shadow hands across the page. But if you do 
not like cats and snowstorms, why then you 
will not like me, and we needn t bore each 
other, need we? 



^Author *s Foreword xi 

The little papers in this volume, issued from 
the peaceful town of Sewanee atop the Cumber 
land plateau, between Thumping Dick Hollow 
and Little Fiery Gizzard Creek, have been written 
at various times and places in the past fifteen 
years, many of them while I still dwelt in New 
York, and babbled o green fields, many before, 
and some few after, the outbreak of the Great 
War. That War, you will perhaps discorer, finds 
in them no reflection. It has been consciously 
excluded, for though the world can never be 
the same world again, as we are in no danger 
of forgetting, there are some things which even 
war and revolution cannot change, such as the 
memories of our childhood, the joy of violets 
in the Spring, the delight in melody, the hu 
mor of small dogs, the coo of babies. I have 
fancied we are sometimes by way of forgetting 
that. At any rate, of such matters, in hours when 
he has no thought but to please himself, the essay 
ist chats, and shall chat in the happy years that are 
to come again, or all our bloodshed has been in 
vain. If, at the same time, he chances to please 
an editor also, and then to make a few friends who 
like what he likes, smiles sympathetically at what 
makes him smile, why, that is clear again! 



xii ^Author s Foreword 

This author has been fortunate enough to 
please several editors in the past, and to all of 
them, who have given him permission to reprint 
such papers in this volume as have appeared in 
their periodicals, he extends his gratitude. They 
are specifically, the editors of The Atlantic Monthly, 
Scribners, House and Garden, The Dial, Ainslee s, 
The Scrap Book, The Boston Transcript and The 
New York Tribune. 

W. P. E. 

Twin Fires, 

Sheffield, 

Mass. 




Penguin Persons 

AFTER all, one knows so little about a man from 
his printed works! They are the gleanings of 
his thoughts and investigations, the pick of his 
mind and heart; and they are at best but an 
impersonal and partial record of the writer. 
Even autobiography has something unsatisfac 
tory about it; one feels the narrator is on guard 
always, as it were, and, aware of an audience 
cold and of strangers, keeps this back and trims 
up that to make himself more what he should 
be (or, in some perverse cases, what he should 
not be). But probably no man who is worthy 
of attention sits down to write a letter to a 
good friend with one eye on posterity and the 
public. In his intimate correspondence he is 
off guard. Hence, some day, when he has 
died, the world comes to know him by fleet 
ing glimpses as he was, which is almost as 
near, is it not, as we ever get to knowing one 
another? knows him under his little private 
moods, in the spell of his personal joys and sor 
rows, sees his flashes of unexpected humor, 



!%*: <; n g u i n Persons 



eve.a,- ;it; -liiay! be,- , his unexpected pettinesses 
Thus dangerous and thus delightful is it to pub 
lish a great man s letters. 

Such letters were Ruskin s to Charles Eliot 
Norton, which Professor Norton has given to 
the world. No one can fail from those letters 
to get a more intimate picture of the author of 
Modern Painters than could ever be imagined 
out of that work itself, and out of the rest of 
his works besides, not excepting the wonderful 
Fors C/avigera; and not only a more intimate, 
but a different picture, touched with greater 
whimsicality, and with infinite sadness, too. 
Not his hard-wrung thoughts and theories, but 
his moods of the moment and he was a man 
rich in the moods of the moment tell most 
prominently here. And with how many of 
these moods can the Ordinary Reader sympa 
thize! Again and again as the Ordinary Reader 
turns the pages he finds the great man under 
the thralldom of the same insect cares and 
annoyances which rule us all, until he real 
izes as perhaps never before that poet and 
peasant, genius and scribe, are indeed one in 
a common humanity, and sighs, with a lurk 
ing smile of satisfaction, "So nigh is grandeur 
to our dust!" 

One of the points of convergence between 
Ruskin and the Ordinary Reader which has ap 
pealed to me with peculiar force occurs in a 



Penguin Persons 3 

letter from London dated in 1860. "When I 
begin to think at all," Ruskin writes, "I get 
into states of disgust and fury at the way the 
mob is going on (meaning by the mob, chiefly 
Dukes, crown-princes, and such like persons) 
that I choke; and have to go to the British 
Museum and look at Penguins till I get cool. 
I find Penguins at present the only comfort in 
life. One feels everything in the world so 
sympathetically ridiculous; one can t be angry 
when one looks at a Penguin." 

Why, of course one can t! It is absurdly true, 
when one comes to think of it, this beneficent 
influence of penguins, stuffed penguins, at that, 
which cannot even waddle. I dare say few 
readers ever thought of this peculiar bird (if it 
is a bird) in just that light before Mr. Ruskin s 
letter came to view; I m sure I never did. But 
few readers will fail to recall at a first reading 
of the words that piclure of a penguin which 
used to adorn the school geographies, and pres 
ently will come to them the old sensation of 
amusement at the waddly fellow propped up on 
his impossible feet, the smile will break over 
their lips, and they will be one in mood with 
Mr. Ruskin. They may affirm that of course 
the author was only indulging in a little whim 
sicality, and they may two thirds believe it, as 
it is no doubt two thirds true; but just the 
same, unless I am much mistaken, the image of 



4 Penguin "Persons 

a penguin will persist in their minds, as it per 
sisted in Raskin s mind else how did he come 
to write of it in this letter? and they will be 
the better and the happier for the smile it 
evokes, as Ruskin was the better and the 
happier. Indeed, that letter was his cheeriest 
for months. 

For me, however, the image has not faded 
with the passing of the mood, or rather it has 
changed into something more abiding. It has 
assumed, in fact, no less a guise than the human ; 
it has become converted into certain of my 
friends. I now know these friends, in my 
thoughts of them, as Penguin Persons. I find 
they have the same beneficent effedt on me, and 
on others around them, as the penguins on 
Ruskin. I mean here to sing their praises, for 
I believe that they and their kind (since every 
one enters on his list of friends, as I do, some 
Penguin Persons) have, even if they do not 
know it, a mission in the world, an honorable 
destiny to fulfill. They prevent us from taking 
life too seriously; they make everything "sym 
pathetically ridiculous"; they are often "as the 
shadow of a great rock in a weary land." 

But, at the very outset, I would not be mis 
understood. I do not mean that a Penguin 
Person must resemble the amusing bird in 
physical aspect. There are, I know, certain 
people, a far more numerous class than is 



Penguin Persons 5 

generally supposed, who see in almost everybody 
a resemblance to some animal, bird, or fish. I 
am one of these people myself. It is on record 
as far back as the fourth generation that some 
one of my successive ancestors had the same 
unhappy faculty, for it is unhappy, since it im 
poses on the person who resembles for us a pig, 
in our thoughts of him, the attributes of that 
beast, and so on through the natural history 
catalogue. It is not pleasant to watch a puma 
kitten sitting beside you in the opera house, 
especially when your mere brain tells you she is 
probably a sweet, even-tempered little matron, 
or to wait in pained expectancy for your large- 
eared minister to bray, even though you know 
he will not depart from his measured exposition 
of sound and sane doclrine. However, the Pen 
guin Persons are such by virtue of their moral 
and mental attributes solely, of the similar effect 
they produce on those about them by their 
personalities. I have never met a man yet who 
physically resembled a penguin, though I fancy 
the experience would be interesting. 

Still less would I have it understood that 
Penguin Persons are stupid. Far from it. Dr. 
Crothers declares, in his Gentle Reader, that he 
would not like to be neighbor to a wit. "It 
would be like being in proximity to a live 
wire," he says. "A certain insulating film of 
kindly stupidity is needed to give a margin of 



6 Penguin Persons 

safety to human intercourse." I do not. think 
that Dr. Crothers could have known a Penguin 
Person when he wrote that. The Penguin Per 
son is not a wit, there is no barb to his shafts of 
fun, no uneasiness from his preternatural clever 
ness, for he is not preternaturally clever. You 
never feel unable to cope with him, you never 
feel your mind keyed to an unusual alertness to 
follow him; you feel, indeed, a sense of com 
forting superiority, for, after all, you do take the 
world so much more seriously than he! And 
yet he is not stupid; he is bright, alert, 
"kindly," to be sure, but delightfully humorous, 
deliciously droll. Life with him appears to be 
one huge joke, and there is an undion about 
him, a contagion in his point of view, that 
affedts you whether you will or no, and when 
you are in his presence you cannot take life 
seriously, either, you can but laugh with him. 
He does you good. You say he is " perfectly 
ridiculous," but you laugh. Then he smiles 
back at you and cracks another of those absurd 
remarks of his, and you know he is "sympa 
thetically ridiculous." Perhaps you were out 
of sorts with life when you met him, but one 
cannot be angry when one looks at a Penguin 
Person. 

But do you say that the original bird is not 
like that at all, that he is the most stupid of 
fellows? Ah! then you have never seen a pen- 



Penguin Persons 7 

guin swim! He is grace and beauty and skill 
in the water. If it were only his stupidity that 
made us smile, not he, but the hen, would be 
the most amusing of God s creatures. It is 
something more subtle, more personal, than 
that. It can only be described as Penguinity. 

Penguinity! The word is not in the diction 
aries; it is beyond the pale of the "purists"; in 
coining it I am fully aware that I violate the 
canons of the Harvard English Department, 
that I fly in the face of philology, waving a red 
rag. Yet I do it gladly, assertively, for I have 
confidence that some day, when Penguin Per 
sons have taken their rightful place in the 
world s estimation, the world will not be able 
to dispense with my little word, which will 
then overthrow the dictionary despotism and 
enter unchallenged the leather strongholds of 
Webster and Murray. 

Yet before that day does come, and to hasten 
its coming, I would record a tribute to my 
first and firmest Penguin friend, my friend 
and the friend of how many others? long and 
lank of limb, thin and high-boned of face, alert, 
smiling, ridiculous. On the nights when steam 
ships were sunk in the East River, or incipient 
subways elevated suddenly above ground, or 
other exciting features of New York life came 
clamoring for publicity, he would sit calm and 
smiling, coatless, a corncob pipe between his 



8 "Penguin "Persons 

teeth, and read "copy" with the speed of two 
ordinary men. The excited night city editor 
would rush about, shouting orders and counter 
manding them; reporters would dash in and 
out; telegraph instruments would buzz; the 
nerve-wracking whistle of the tube from the 
composing room would shrill at sudden inter 
vals, causing everybody to start involuntarily 
each time and to curse with vexation and anger; 
the irritable night editor, worried lest he miss 
the outgoing trains with his first edition, would 
look furtively at the clock at three-minute 
periods and plunge his grimy hand over his 
sweating forehead; but the Penguin Person 
would sit smiling at his place by the "copy" 
desk, blue pencil in hand, serene amid the 
Babel. And when the tension was greatest, the 
strain nerve-breaking to get the big story, in all 
its complete and coherent details, into the 
hungry presses that seemed almost visible, 
though they waited the stroke of one, ten 
stories down, in the sub-basement, the Pen 
guin Person would sit back in his chair, grin 
amiably, and say with a drawl, "Hell, ain t 
it, fellers? D* you know what I m going to 
do to-morrow, though? I m going to put 
on my asbestos collar, side track some beaut, 
take her to the theatre, and after the show, 
thanks to the princely salary I m paid for 
keeping split infinitives out of this sheet, I m 



Penguin "Persons 9 

going to rush her round to Sherry s or Del- 
monico s and blow her to a glass of beer and 
a frankfurter." 

Then as if by magic the drawn faces of all 
his associates would clear, the night editor 
would laugh and forget to look at the clock, 
we would resume our toil, momentarily forget 
ful of the high pressure under which we la 
bored, and working the better for the forget- 
fulness; and the Penguin Person, the smile still 
expanding his mouth, would tilt down his chair 
and work with us, only faster. If he had serious 
thoughts, he never disclosed them to us 
seriously. When he opened his lips we waited 
always in the expectation of some ridiculous 
remark, even though it should clothe a platitude 
or a piece of good, common-sense advice. And 
we were never disappointed. Life with him was 
apparently one huge joke, and it came about 
that when we thought of him or spoke of him 
among ourselves, it was always with a smile. 
Yet now he is gone and what a hole! Other 
men can do his work as well, if not as quickly. 
The paper still goes to press and the public sees 
no change; but we, who worked beside him, 
see it nightly. By twelve o clock on a busy 
night, nervous, drawn faces surround the central 
desk, and profanity is snapped crossly back and 
forth. There is no alleviation of cheerful in 
anity. Presently somebody looks up, remarking, 



io ^Penguin Persons 

"I wish Bobbie Barton was back." And some 
body else replies with profane asperity and lax 
grammar, "I wish he was!" Bobbie, mean 
while has become a lawyer, and can now af 
ford a whole plate of frankfurters at Delmon- 
ico s. But we are the poorer, and, I do not 
hesitate to declare, the worse men for the loss 
of his Penguinity. 

Then there is David. David is penguinacious 
by fits and starts, not wholly to be depended 
on, sometimes needing himself to be cheered 
with the Penguinity of others, but, when the 
mood is on him, softly, fantastically ridiculous, 
like the nonsense verse of Lewis Carroll, a sort 
of Alice in Wonderland person. I should not hes 
itate to recommend him to Dr. Crothers as a 
neighbor; indeed I suspecl: the good doctor is 
almost such a man himself, too gentle, too 
fantastic in humor to suggest, however remotely, 
a "live wire," and yet how far from being stu 
pid! David s mind works so unexpectedly. You 
are quite sure you know what he is going to say, 
and yet he never says it, giving his remark a 
verbal twist which calls up some absurdly im 
possible picture, and evokes, not a laugh, but a 
deep, satisfying smile. There is something quaint 
and refreshing about such a mind as David s. It 
does not so much restore one s animal spirits, or 
one s good nature, as it rejuvenates the springs of 
fancy, brings back the whimsical imagination of 



Penguin Persons n 

childhood. David will people a room with his 
airy conceits, as Mr. Barrie peopled Kensington 
Gardens with Peter Pan and his crew; and it is 
as impossible not to forget anger and care, not to 
feel sweeter and fresher, for David s jests, as for 
The Little White Bird. Only a Penguinity like 
David s is subtle, a little unworldly, and, like 
most gracious gifts, fragile. There are days when 
the world is too much for David, when his jests 
are silent and his conceits do not assemble. Then 
it is that he in turn needs the good cheer of an 
other s Penguinity, and it is then my happy 
privilege to reward him by hunting up Bobbie 
Barton, if I can, and joining them at a dinner 
party. Bobbie s Penguinity is based on an inex 
haustible fount of animal spirits, he is never any 
thing but a Penguin. He usually has David put 
to rights by the roast. 

The other day, while Bobbie was running on 
in his ridiculous fashion, in an idiom all his own 
that even Mr. Ade could not hope to rival, tell 
ing, I believe, about some escapade of his at 
Asbury Park, where he had "put the police 
force of two men and three niggers out of busi 
ness" by asking the innocent and unsuspecting 
chief the difference between a man who had 
seen Niagara Falls, and one who hadn t, and a 
ham sandwich, I fell to musing on Ruskin s un 
happy lot, who did not know Bobbie, nor appar 
ently anybody like him. Poor Ruskin! After 



12 Penguin Persons 

all, there is more pathos than humor in his 
periodic visits to the penguins. Isolated, from 
childhood, by parental care, from the common 
friendships and associations of life, still further 
isolated in mature years by his own genius and 
early and lasting intellectual eminence, the won 
der is that he was not more unhappy, rather 
than less. He had few friends, and those few, like 
Professor Norton, were intellectual companions 
as well, always ready and eager to debate with 
him the problems of Art and Life which were 
forever vexing him. Their companionship must 
often have been a stimulant when he needed, 
perhaps, a narcotic. Their intercourse drove him 
continually in upon himself, where there 
was only seething unrest, when he needed so 
often to be taken completely out of himself, 
where there was peace. And, in his hours of 
need, he turned to the Alps, and the penguins. 
But both were dumb things, after all, that 
could not quite meet his mood, could not quite 
satisfy that hunger which is in all of us for 
the common association of our kind, for the 
humble jest and cheery laugh of a smiling 
humanity. Neither of them was Bobbie, who 
adds personality to the penguin, and satisfies a 
double need. 

Bobbie would not have talked Art with Rus- 
kin, and for a very good reason, he knows 
nothing about it. Bobbie would not have cared 



Penguin Persons 13 

a snap about his Turners, though he would have 
been greatly reverent of them for their owner s 
sake. But Bobbie would have enjoyed tramping 
over the mountains with him, an eager and alert 
listener to all his talks about geology and clouds, 
and ten to one Bobbie would have made friends 
of every peasant they met, every fellow traveler 
on the road, and taught Ruskin in turn a good 
bit about humdrum, picturesque mankind. And 
he would have made him laugh! Possibly you 
think it incongruous, impossible, the picture of 
happy-go-lucky, ridiculous Bobbie, with his slang 
and his grin and his outlook on life, and Ruskin, 
the great critic, the master of style, the intellec 
tual giant. But then you reckon without Bob 
bie s quality of Penguinity, and without Ruskin s 
humanness. It is alike impossible to withstand 
the contagion of Bobbie s Penguinity, and to 
fancy a genius so great that he does not at times 
yearn for the common walks and the common 
talks of his humbler fellow creatures. He may 
not always know how to achieve them, his own 
greatness may be a barrier he cannot cross, or his 
temperament and circumstances may hinder; but 
be sure that he feels the loss, though he may not 
himself, for all his genius, be quite aware of it. 
That Ruskin lived in moody isolation, while 
Shakespeare caroused in an alehouse, does not 
prove Ruskin the greater man or the deeper 
seer; it only shows that one knew how to 



14 Penguin ^Persons 

achieve what the other did not, contadt with 
the everyday, merry world, escape from the 
awful and everlasting solemnity of life. Rus- 
kin could not achieve it for himself, he did 
not know how; but Bobbie, all unknown to 
either of them, would have shown him. Bob 
bie would have made life for him "sympa 
thetically ridiculous/ for Bobbie is a Penguin 
Person. And Bobbie would have been a living, 
breathing human being, by his side and ready 
to aid him, even to creep into his heart; not 
a stuffed biped on a shelf in a musty museum. 
Poor Ruskin, how much life robbed him of 
when it made it impossible for him to win 
in his youth the careless, unthinking, but undy 
ing friendship of a few men like Bobbie, a few 
Penguin Persons! 

Ah, well! "The dice of God are always 
loaded." Doubtless we must always pay for 
greatness by isolation, or some more bitter toll. 
And for our insignificance, in turn, come the 
Bobbies as reward. It behooves those of us, 
then, who are insignificant, to appreciate our 
blessing, to cherish our penguins, the more since 
we, when "the world is too much with us," 
when the tyranny of economic conditions op 
presses and the wrongness of life seems almost 
more than we can bear, have not that inward 
strength, that Titanic defiance, which is the 
possession of the great, ultimately to fall back 



^Penguin Persons 15 

upon, and so sorely need to be shown a joke 
somewhere, anywhere, in the universal scheme, 
to find something that is "sympathetically ridic 
ulous." That is why the Penguin Persons are 
sent to us; thus we can see in them the swing 
of the Emersonian pendulum. 

But they are naturally modest, and doubtless 
have no idea of their mission, further than to 
realize that "people are glad to have them 
around," as Bobbie would express it, and that it 
is "up to them" (in the same idiom) to be 
cheerful, not a hard task, since cheeriness sits 
in their soul. It is awful to think how self- 
conciousness might ruin the flavor of their Pen- 
guinity if they ever were awakened to a reali 
zation of the fact that they were involved in 
anything so serious as the Law of Compensa 
tion! Though I do believe that David at his 
best could make the eternal verities look ridic 
ulous. No, when the Penguin Persons do be 
come aware of their Penguinity, it is in a 
funny, shamefaced fashion, as if they had been 
up to boyish tricks their manhood should blush 
for. Came Bobbie to me the other day and 
confessed that he had about made up his mind 
to be "serious." 

"Everybody thinks I m a joke," he said, with 
a melancholy grin; "they always expect me to 
say something asinine, and get ready to laugh 
before I speak. What shall I do?" 



16 Penguin ^Persons 

"Do!" I cried. Do what you ve been doing, 
only do it more. Keep right on being a Pen 
guin, and God bless you!" 

Bobbie looked perplexed and a little hurt; but 
I was too wise to explain, and three minutes later 
he was rattling off some delicious absurdity to 
my four-year-old hopeful, who had fallen down 
on his nose and needed comforting and a han- 
kerchief. Bobbie was supplying the latter from 
his pocket, and from his penguinacious brain the 
former was effectively coming in the shape of a 
description of Rocky Mountain sheep, which, 
according to Bobbie, have right-side legs much 
shorter than their left-side legs, so they can run 
along the mountain slopes without ever falling 
on their noses. 

"But how do they get back?" asks the hope 
ful, still bleeding, but eager for information. 

"They put their . heads between their hind 
legs and run backward," says Bobbie. "They 
have long necks, you know." 

That, of course, may be unnatural history, but 
it was a very present help in time of trouble. 
Indeed, it made Bobbie, as well as the boy, for 
get, and I have heard no more of his dreadful 
intention to be serious. 

Some one probably it was Emerson once 
said, "Each man has his own vocation. The 
talent is the call." It is no small thing, in this 
grim world, to make people smile, to be absur^ 



"Penguin "Persons 17 

for their alleviation, to render all things "sympa 
thetically ridiculous" for a time, to bear in a 
chalice of mirth the water of Lethe. If one s 
talent lies that way, why, the call should be 
clear! The Penguin Person should have no 
doubt or shame of his vocation, nor should any 
one else allow him to. Little Joe Weber, who 
was on the stage the most perfect example of 
Penguinity, was as a stage character beloved of 
all the thousands who saw him. He heard his 
call and followed his vocation, and honor and 
wealth and fame are now his. The merry host 
of Penguin Persons who move outside the radius 
of the spluttering calcium, whose proscenium is 
the door frame of a home, may earn neither 
wealth nor fame by doing as he has done, but 
they will win no less a reward, for they will 
have lightened for all around them the burdens 
of life, they will have smoothed the gathering 
frown and summoned the forgotten laugh, they 
will have made of the ridiculous a little religion, 
and out of Penguinity brought peace. 




Spring Comes to Thumping 

\VHEN the ordinary American who "does 
things atrocious phrase, symbol of our un- 
recking materialism that does not consider 
the value of the things done wants to give 
a place a name, he affixes his own, or that of 
his sister-in-law or the congressman from his 
district. Thus our noblest North American 
mountain is called McKinley, though it already 
bore a beautiful Indian name Denali, "The 
Great One"; and thus in Glacier Park we find 
a Lake McDermott, a Lake McDonald, and a 
Mount Jackson, to contrast painfully with such 
beautiful titles as Going-to-the-Sun Mountain, 
Rising Wolf Mountain, and Morning Eagle 
Falls. The Indians expressed their poetry in 
their names. The pioneers and the colonial 
rural Americans expressed, if not poetry, at 
least a fine, spicy flavor of the local tradition; 
their names grew out of the place. In the 
corner of New England where I was born we 
had a Slab City, a Tearbreeches Hill, a Puddin 
P int well-flavored names, all of them, de 
scriptive and significant, even the last, which 



Spring Comes to Thumping T>ic^ 19 

strangers mispronounced Pudding Point. Even 
in old New York there were once such names 
rich in historical association as Long Acre 
Square, now reduced to Times Square to please 
the vanity or cupidity of a newspaper. But, 
save the Indians, no body of people on this 
continent, not even the old-time cowboys and 
prospectors with their Bright Angel Trail, have 
ever rivaled the southern highlanders, the moun 
tain folk of the Blue Ridge, the Great Smokies 
and the Cumberlands, in the bestowal of pic 
turesque titles. It is hard, sometimes, to say 
whether the southern mountaineers are poets 
or humorists or realists; they may be one or the 
other, or all three at once. But they never fail 
with the inevitable appellation. Not Flaubert 
with his one right word, not the school "gang" 
with its nicknames, can equal them. 

Thumping Dick Hollow, Milk-sick Hollow, 
Little Fiery Gizzard Creek, Falling Water Cove, 
Maniac s Hell, Lost Creek Cove, Jump Off 
Point, Rainbow Hollow, Slaughterpen Hollow 
they come back to me in picturesque array, 
and with them come back the memories of 
the gray cabins, the clear bright water on the 
race, the silent forests, the billows of laurel, the 
song of the brown thrashers, the shy children 
in a dusky doorway, the lean pigs not shy at all, 
the bloodroot underfoot, the soft, hazy sky 
overhead, the sense that here life was always as 



2O Spring Comes to Thumping T>i 

it is, and always will be, with no change but 
the changing seasons. I remember once more 
how I met the Spring at Thumping Dick, like 
a dryad dancing through the wood, caught her 
in the very a6t of climbing up from the cove 
below to find a road to take her north. So we 
loitered together for one whole, blissful day, 
and when I came back to the college campus I 
wore her violets in my hat. 

But first I must tell you how Thumping 
Dick Hollow got its name. That is more im 
portant even than knowing where it is. Many, 
many years ago, so long ago that all traces of 
his cabin have disappeared, a man called Dick 
dwelt beside the little brown brook which flows 
through a slight hollow on its way to the cove 
below. Now, this Dick was averse to over 
much effort, unless it were effort connected with 
the pursuit of bears or panther, and being of 
an ingenious turn of mind he invented a labor- 
saving device to pound his corn. (Unfortu 
nately, he still had to grow it himself.) He 
took a hollow log and pivoted it across the 
brook, at a little fall, in such a way that the 
upper end would rest in the water while the 
lower end projected over the rocks below the 
falls. Then he fastened a board across the 
lower half of this lower opening, and under 
neath the log, also at the lower end, he fixed a 
pestle. He then placed his mortar on a stone 



Spring Comes to Thumping *Dic^ 21 

directly beneath. The water, flowing into the 
hollow log, ran to the lower end and piled up 
against the board till there was weight enough 
to tip the entire log down. Then enough ran 
out to tilt the log back again. Of course, each 
time the lower end of the log descended the 
pestle struck a blow in the mortar. All Dick 
had to do was now and then to empty out his 
pounded grain and put in a fresh supply. The 
log kept at its solemn seesaw night and day, its 
dull thumps resounding through the woods. So 
Thumping Dick Hollow it is to this day, and 
being close to Sewanee, Tennessee, instead of 
New York City, Thumping Dick Hollow it 
will remain, instead of becoming the Pratt 
Street section of Elmhurst Manor. 

To be precise, it is four miles from Sewanee, 
and to be more precise, Sewanee is eight miles 
straight up hill from Cowan, and to be still 
more precise, Cowan is thirty-five or forty miles 
from Chattanooga, and now you begin to know 
where you are. Chattanooga, as you know, is 
in Tennessee, and sits beside the superb Moc 
casin Bend of the Tennessee River, under the 
shadow of Lookout Mountain, entirely sur 
rounded by freight trains. It runs Schene&ady, 
New York, a close race for the title of the 
noisiest city in the United States. But after you 
have taken a west-bound train in the quaint old 
station of the N. C. & St. L. railroad you pass 



22 Spring Comes to Thumping T)i 

rapidly into silence, down the gorge of the 
splendid river, and then into the broken, ragged 
hills. At Cowan a pig meets you on the plat 
form, with the amiable curiosity of the small 
town resident toward the arriving stranger. 
Here you change to the little branch line which 
runs north, up the side of the gorge, to the 
coal mines. Up and up the train climbs, puffing 
and straining, through a tall forest of hard 
woods, and eventually reaches an almost level 
plateau. Once on this plateau, you lose all 
sense of mountain country and if you had not 
been aware of the steep climb to get here, you 
would not believe that you were on the southern 
nose of the Cumberland Range. Presently you 
reach a station and that is Sewanee. 

There are no academic squatters at Sewanee, 
in their $100,000 cottages, as there are at 
Princeton. It is too far removed from any 
cities, in the midst of its timbered mountain 
domain. There is a little hotel, much fre 
quented in summer, to be sure, but for the most 
part the town is the university and its prepara 
tory academy, and the university is the town. 
Here is the Gothic chapel, the ivy-clad scho 
lastic buildings, the tree-shaded campus walks, 
the wandering groups of hatless boys, the en 
circling street lined with professors houses all 
the traditional flavor of a college, in a setting 
of forest. For it is one of the unique charms 



Spring Comes to Thumping T>ic{^ 23 

of Sewanee that a walk of a mile in any direc 
tion is a walk back into the ancient order, into 
the wilderness of the southern mountaineer, 
into the eighteenth century. A class that 
studies Shaw s plays in the morning may even 
catch the vocabulary of Shakespeare in the 
afternoon, repeated unconsciously by the lips of 
mountain children in the coves. 

The word cove is omnipresent here. Even the 
mountain folk are called cove-ites. It needs but 
a short walk to show you why. The lower 
Cumberlands, on the southern border of Ten 
nessee, are unlike any other mountain region, 
w^ith a charm all their own, inherent in their 
topography. Apparently an almost level stretch 
of timbered country along the little railroad, in 
reality this level is the plateau top of a great 
rock wall, a kind of huge mesa extending north 
and south. If you walk to the edge, you dis 
cover that it suddenly falls away with startling 
abruptness, sometimes in sheer descents of 
several hundred feet till the top of the ancient 
shale pile is reached (now covered deep with 
soil) and then dropping away more gradually 
with that lovely curve of debris. But nowhere 
is this Palisade-like wall continuous, and here 
is where the southern Cumberlands get their 
unique flavor. The descending water from the 
plateau top has eroded deep into the precipice 
every mile or even every half mile, each brook 



24 Spring Comes to Thumping Di 



in the course of ages eating far back into the 
mountain mass, forming a V-shaped depression 
called a cove, and between two coves thus 
formed is a reverse A, called a point, always, 
naturally, composed of the hardest rock, and 
not infrequently ending in a literal point so 
sharp that it is like a vast granite bowsprit 
thrust out into the green plains far below, ter 
minating in a sheer precipice of several hundred 
feet. Roughly, then, you may visualize this 
section of the Cumberlands as a giant double- 
edged saw, a thousand feet thick, laid down 
across the State, each tooth a "point," each V 
between the teeth a "cove." Standing far out 
on one of these rock bowsprits, in the soft, hazy 
air of the southern mountains, you look over the 
far valley lands below, you look north and south 
at the other thrusting bowsprits growing bluer 
and more mysterious as they recede, you look 
to left and right down into the timbered green 
lushness of the coves, where invisible water 
tinkles. 

But the simile of the saw is only a rough 
one, after all, because erosion is never mathe 
matical, some coves have bitten back far deeper 
than others, side coves have developed, and if 
you follow down the mystery of some brown 
brook, Little Fiery Gizzard Creek, let us say, 
for love of the name, you may very soon pre 
cipitate yourself into such a maze of coves, such 



Spring Comes to Thumping T>ick^ 25 

a tangle of tough, tearing shrubbery (the term 
"laurel hell" is the mountaineer as realist), that 
you will regret, perhaps, the day you abandoned 
what in this region is euphemistically called a 
road. But you will hardly forget the view 
from some inland point, where you look, not 
out over the Tennessee plains, but over a 
branching canon of coves, cut like the Grand 
Canon out of an apparent plain, but, unlike 
that epic of naked magnificence, timbered with 
great, upstanding hardwoods from floor to rim, 
a soft, silent, hazy green hole where the forest 
floor has sunk a thousand feet, to rise again in 
the smoky distance and melt into the blue. 
There is no sign of human habitation, though 
in those coves, where the forest mould is rich 
to clear and cultivate and the springs are never 
dry, the cove-ites dwell, stock of the highlanders 
who are almost a race apart in the fastnesses of 
our southern Appalachians. They have no roads, 
only dim trails or footpaths. The protecting 
forest hides their little clearings. Only a hawk 
sails on silent wings over the leafy depths, and 
perhaps the faintest thread of smoke winds up 
and is lost in the haze of the air, a haze which 
seems faintly tinged with the all-pervading green. 
But I wander as aimlessly as the enchanted 
visitor to Sewanee, and am by way of forgetting 
that it was Spring I set out to recapture with 
my pen as if one could recapture the vanished 



26 Spring Comes to Thumping T)icf( 

Aprils! It was April, to be sure, early April, 
very cold in the Berkshires, with great, dirty 
drifts of snow still lingering on the northern 
sides of walls and hedges, and ice on the pools 
of a morning. Down here on the Cumberland 
plateau the trees were still bare, too, and the 
mornings chill, though you could easily find a 
blade of grass "big enough to blow," and the 
brown thrashers sang in the dooryards. But 
there came a day when the sun rose misty and 
hot, and I wandered out through the woods, by 
a dim, sandy cart track, missing the solemn 
evergreen note of our northern forests but happy 
in the fragrance of life reviving under last year s 
leaves that peculiar odor of the woods in 
Spring. The little brown brook at Thumping 
Dick was softly vocal, and it, too, smelled of 
leaves. After a time I reached a point which 
jutted out diredHy over the tops of the trees 
growing on the debris pile below. These trees 
were as tall as masts, and as straight, though 
they were hardwoods, and from my rocky perch 
I looked through their upper tracery of budding 
twigs, as through a veil of faint green and red, 
out on the brown and green plains of Tennessee 
shining in the sun, or left and right across the 
canons of the coves to the stately procession of 
receding headlands. Then I cast about for a 
way down into one of the coves, and presently 
came upon a footpath. 



Spring Comes to Thumping T>ick^ 27 

It led down the headwall by sharp switch 
backs till it reached the easier declivity below, 
passed a gushing spring where a tin dipper hung 
on a twig proclaiming unseen passers, and 
presently picked up the bed of a tumbling 
brook. It was when I reached this brook that 
I was aware of Spring coming up the slope. I 
could see ahead, and to either side, a consider 
able distance through the open woods, and, lo! 
the Judas trees were in flower, stray bursts or 
purplish pink lighting up the forest floor like 
bright-robed, wandering dryads. (The mountain 
folk call this shrub the red-bud.) I loitered on 
down the brook side, through moist leaf-mould 
and rocks, while overhead the trees began to 
cover me with their frail, new foliage, and 
under foot the forest floor began to burgeon 
with bloom. Great double bloodroots came 
first I stepped suddenly into a garden of them 
and hastily stooping crushed some juice on my 
fingers. Next the umbrella tops of the May 
apple leaves began to push up. There was a 
great dogwood tree in full bloom beside the 
path. A hedge-like bank of azaleas were show 
ing bud. Then came the violets, yellow violets, 
wood violets, but especially the birdfoot variety, 
with their pink-tinged blue petals ubiquitous 
amid the leaves. To me this violet is particu 
larly dear, for it was the flower which in my 
childhood was culled to fill those bright-colored 



28 Spring Comes to Thumping T^l 

May baskets we hung upon our sweethearts 
doors at the festival of Spring, gathering them 
in the village cemetery, where they grew in 
great beauty and profusion, quite as Omar would 
have expected. Now I gathered a handful 
again, for memory s sake, and stuck them in 
the band of my hat, before I resumed my jour 
ney down the cove. 

The first intimation I had of coming habi 
tation was a pig, a lean, black, razor-back pig 
which grunted at my intrusion beneath his oak 
tree and went racing off at a great pace, almost 
gracefully, I might say, for even a pig which 
wanders on a mountainside develops something 
of the agility of a wild creature. Not far beyond 
I came quite suddenly upon such a picture as you 
may see nowhere in the world but in our southern 
highlands, in the Spring. Aware of my coming, 
if I was not aware of their proximity, six tow- 
headed, bare -footed, single -gar men ted children, 
the eldest a girl not over ten, the youngest an in 
fant just able to stand, were ranged in solemn row, 
like a flight of steps, upon the top of a large flat 
stone at the edge of a little clearing, in perfect 
silence watching jne approach, the violets and 
bloodroot blossoms they had been gathering 
dangling in loose bunches from their hands. 
Behind them, just across the brook which ran, 
like a road, in front of the gate, stood a weath 
ered-gray cabin, of rough boards, with a central 



Spring Comes to Thumping T)ic^ 29 

doorway and windows without sashes. At one 
end was an outside chimney of field-stone, laid, 
it seemed, with clay. Surrounding this cabin 
was a rough picket fence, again of untrimmed 
boards, with a gate opening on the brook and 
stepping stones across to the path. In the littk 
compound thus enclosed, and almost overtopping 
the cabin, were half a dozen peach and plum 
trees, veritable geyser jets of pink and white 
bloom. Behind, in a small clearing, was the 
stubble of last year s corn. Squalid and poor 
and mean enough a dwelling, a shiftless clear 
ing, a dirty family of children yes. But under 
its geyser jets of blossom that little gray cabin 
was the essence of the picturesque, with the 
forest wall rising behind it, and behind that the 
great headwall of the cove. It was weathered 
and old and primitive and lovely; and the six 
little shy ragamuffins on the stone, still staring 
at me with the eyes of timid animals, were 
well, they were six little shy ragamuffins, and 
that is nice enough! 

"Hello," said I, "I see you ve got the baby 
out to gather wild flowers, too." 

The eldest girl found speech, after an effort. 
"That ain t the baby," she said, with a show of 
scorn for my ignorance. "The baby s in the 
house with maw." 

My respect for the capacity of that little 
cabin was still further increased by this reve- 



30 Spring Comes to Thumping c Di 



lation. I asked the eldest girl some questions 
about the way, finding her directions for spot 
ting a trail in this forest maze remarkably lucid, 
and went again on my wanderings, my last back 
ward glimpse of the mouse-gray cabin under its 
pink and white geysers of blossom still showing 
the six little tow-headed, barefooted youngsters 
standing like six little patiences on a pedestal, 
staring after me. But when I had disappeared 
down the trail I heard from far off, mingling 
with the murmur of the brook, the shrill sound 
of childish glee, as they resumed their search for 
wild flowers. Then it was that Spring smiled, 
and gave my fingers a little squeeze! 

So I wandered on, with Spring for company, 
all that blissful day, through forests of oak and 
chestnut where the Judas trees danced, past dog 
wood thickets and over beds of violets, into un 
expected little clearings where always the same 
gray cabin of rough, weathered boards sat under 
its geyser jets of pink and white, while shy, 
pretty children peeped like startled rabbits from 
the dim doorway and the pig ran off through 
the woods (when he did not follow me), and 
finally up the steep slope at the head of a cove 
again, into the region of the earliest bloodroots, 
and so to the final shin up the last precipitous 
wall to the plateau above. As I reached the 
summit and looked back, I saw the cove was 
green, and the veil I had gazed through that 



Spring Comes to Thumping T>ic^ 3 1 

morning was hazier now; Spring had climbed 
with me back up the slope and even here on the 
two-thousand foot rim the trees were bursting 
into leaf. There was a carpet of brilliant red 
stonecrop on the rock at my feet. As I came 
once more to the brook in Thumping Dick I 
saw a bloodroot on the bank, with the dead leaf 
it had that day pushed up still clinging to it. 
Yes and here was a tiny bed of violets, in a 
warm, sheltered glade, opening to the sun. I 
gathered them all, and redecorated my hat. 
Then I bathed my hot face in the brook and 
lay listening to a thrasher for a while, as the 
long shadows of afternoon crept like lean, ghostly 
fingers through the forest and between me and 
the sky I could see the lacework of the budding 
twigs, with here and there a tree that actually 
showed leaf. No one passed me on the trail. 
The thrasher and I had the woods all to our 
selves, except, of course, for Spring, who sat 
beside me singing mezza <uoce, to herself, a song 
curiously like the ripple of a brook. 

At last I rose and followed the dim trail back 
toward the college, entering the campus as the 
evening lights were coming on in the dormitory 
windows, and somewhere a group of boys were 
singing, not lustily but with the plaintive 
quality that sometimes steals into the voices of 
the young and happy at the twilight hour. I 
tossed my hat on a table, and saw my withered 



32 Spring Comes to Thumping 

violets falling dejectedly over the band. But I 
did not care. Back below Thumping Dick was 
a cove full on the march, coming up the slope, 
the blue battalions of the Spring. Outside, in 
the smoky, warm dusk, a thrasher still sang. 
Spring had left me, for she had far to go, but all 
the way north I should see the signs where her 
feet had trod, and when at last I reached once 
more my northern mountain home, I should find 
her waiting with a smile, perhaps with just a 
trillium in her hand to offer me, before she sped 
on again toward Labrador. But, I thought, I 
could never know her quite so well again as I 
had this day; she would not loiter with me quite 
so familiarly, with her dear, friendly squeeze of 
my fingers as the childish voices drifted with the 
brook song down the cove. I had kept tryst 
with Spring at Thumping Dick, for once the 
favored of all her myriad lovers. 




The Passing of the Stage Sundial 

IT HAS been many years since I have seen a sun 
dial on the stage. There was a time when the 
stage could not get along without them; but 
styles have changed. "Iram indeed has gone 
with all his rose," and Eddie Sothern, best be 
loved of romantic adtors in your generation and 
mine, has written his theatrical memoires, which 
is the player s method of saying farewell. The 
Melancholy Tale of Me, he calls them, perhaps 
because they are not in the least melancholy 
a good and sufficient reason. Yet Mr. Sothern 
strangely neglects the subject of sundials in his 
book, although they were his prop in how many 
a play back in the golden Nineties! the golden, 
promise-laden, contradictory Nineties, that Jin- 
de-siecle decade when Max Nordau thundered 
that we were going to the dogs of degeneracy, 
and we youngsters knew that we were headed 
not alone for a new heaven, but what is much 
more important, a new earth. 

My school and college days fell entirely in 
the Nineties, or almost entirely, for I finally 
emerged with a sheepskin written in Latin I 

3 



34 The ^P as sing of the Stage Sundial 

could no longer translate, in June, 1900. I saw 
my first modern realistic play in 1893, wnen I 
was a little junior middler at Phillips Andover. 
It was Shore Acres, and I have not yet for 
gotten, after a quarter of a century, the thrill of 
that revelation. It was almost as if my grand 
father s kitchen had been put upon the stage, 
and with Herne himself to play the leading role, 
to blow on the frosty pane that he could peer 
into the night, to bank the fires, tip the stove 
lids, lock the door, and climb slowly up to bed 
while the old kitchen, in semi-darkness, seemed 
like a closing benediclion before the downrush 
of the final curtain, I caught the poetry of the 
commonplace, I had my first unconscious lesson 
in literary and dramatic fidelity. And I ended 
my college days, a much more sophisticated 
person, championing Pinero and Jones, rushing 
eagerly to special performances of Ibsen, and 
ardently admiring the plays of G. B. Shaw, two 
of which, Arms and the Man and The Devil s 
Disciple, had been acted in America by Richard 
Mansfield before the end of the century. 

Considering these plays now, and their effect 
upon me and not forgetting, either, the pas 
sionate admiration, almost the worship, we 
young men of twenty had in those days for the 
acting of Mrs. Fiske it would be easy to infer 
that the whole period of the Nineties for us 



The fas sing of the Stage Sundial 35 

youngsters was a period of revolt and forward- 
urging, that we were crusaders for what Henry 
Arthur Jones called "the great realities of 
modern life" in art. Crusaders we were, to be 
sure. I well remember long debates with my 
father, a man of old-fashioned tastes in poetry, 
and a particular fondness for Burns, over the 
merits of Kipling s poems. (Think of consid 
ering Kipling s poems revolutionary! Indeed, 
think of considering some of them poems!). 
We debated from still more divergent view 
points over the novels of d Annunzio. In col 
lege, in my last year or two, some of us even 
adopted the views of Tolstoy in his What is 
Art? and under the urge of this new sociolog 
ical passion we took volunteer classes in night 
schools. I remember instructing a group of 
Jewish youths in the principles of oral debate, 
or, rather, debating the principles of debating 
with them, for being unblessed with an expen 
sive preparatory school and college education, 
and being Jews into the bargain, they did not 
propose to take anything on faith. I used to 
return to my room in the college Yard wonder 
ing just why it was that these working lads, 
mere "foreigners", of a race infinitely inferior, 
of course, to the Anglo-Saxon, and without the 
precious boon of a Harvard training, had so 
much more real intellectual curiosity and men 
tal grasp than any of us "superior" youths. 



36 The T as sing of the Stage Sundial 

These classes interfered seriously with my aca 
demic work, yet it seems to me now that they 
were infinitely more profitable. 

However, it was a curious paradox of the 
Nineties that while we were discovering Pinero, 
Ibsen, Shaw, Tolstoy, we were also reading The 
Prisoner of Zenda and yielding ourselves with 
luxurious abandon into the arms of honey-sweet 
romance. At the very time when the new, 
realistic drama was leading us out of a paste 
board world into something approximating an 
intelligent comment on life, the cloak-and- 
sword drama was having a fine little reactionary 
renaissance, the calcium moon was shining down 
on many a gleaming garden and flashing blade, 
and ears were rapturously strained to catch the 
murmur of love-laden words. Then it was that 
the stage sundial flourished in all its glory, 
generally flooded, to be sure, with moonlight 
that peculiar moonlight of the American 
theatre which turns grease-paint to a horrible 
magenta and we youths, with the divine flex 
ibility of imagination only youth can know, 
responded alike to Hedda Gabler and <L/#tf Enemy 
to the King. 

Do you remember the sundial, exactly at 
stage centre, in the latter play? In what dulcet 
tones, love-laden, the future Hamlet and Mac 
beth murmured to his lady fair! Even the 
sword duel in the last acl, all over the chamber, 



The Massing of the Stage Sundial 37 

across the great bed ripping down the curtains, 
back and forth with flash of steel and rattle of 
blade, was not so thrilling as that moonlit scene 
across the dial plate. My constant companion 
in those days was a boy who to-day preaches 
each week from a famous pulpit, with gravity 
and eloquence. He is a man of substantial parts, 
on whom life s bitter realities press very hard as 
he battles to relieve them. Does he now recall, 
I wonder, how for weeks after we had hung 
from the gallery rail at *An Enemy to the King 
he even said "Thank you," when somebody 
passed him a piece of bread, in the deep, long- 
drawn tones of Sothern s romantic passion? He 
was a handsome youth, and I know not what 
mischief he wrought that winter in gentle 
bosoms, with his vocabulary enlarged and ro 
manticized, his tones colored with emotion, as 
he sought secluded corners at our dances and 
practised his new art. Our Tolstoian moods 
were not for dances, you may be sure! We 
lived in a dual universe. In one world were 
sundials and moonlight and the thrill of a 
woman s eyes; there was slow music and the 
ache of unfilled desire ever about to be gratified 
by some hoped-for miracle. In the other world 
were only fa6ts, hard fa&s, and the scorn of 
considering them emotionally, of considering 
them in any way but with the intellect. I fear 
in those days our moods did not conned: intel- 



38 The Massing of the Stage Sundial 

left and the fair sex. Perhaps youth never does. 
And perhaps youth is right, not in thus passing 
judgment on women, for that is not what is 
done, but in refusing to surrender any portion 
of the divine romantic mystery of sex at two- 
and-twenty to the cold light of reason. When 
Shaw and Ibsen wrote, they wrote of daily life, 
and we were learning to accept their contention 
that it should be written about truthfully. But 
there was no lie in these other plays, these sun 
dial romances, for they were not daily life, they 
were ages long ago and far away, they belonged 
to the Never-Never-Land of romantic fable of 
dreams and the heart s desire. There is no such 
thing as a complete realist at twenty. Or, if there 
is, he should be interned as an enemy alien. 

A generation has passed since the Nineties, 
and there are no stage sundials any more. Per 
haps that is but another way of saying that I 
am middle-aged, but, upon my word, I do not 
think so. Do you remember the sundial over 
which Dolly and Mr. Carter philandered, the 
one which bore the motto 

$ota0 non numrro nisi 0mna#? 

I reread that dialogue the other day, and cap- 
trued some of the ancient thrill. No, the real 
trouble is that a generation of realism, or what 
has passed for realism on our American stage, 
has done its deadly work. It has killed romance. 



The Massing of the Stage Sundial 39 

That is not at all what realism was intended to 
do. Indeed, to the larger view, romance is a 
part of the reality of life. Realism was a re- 
aftion against sham and falsity and sentimental- 
ism, and, above all, perhaps, triviality of theme. 
But the net result, so far as the American drama 
is concerned, seems to have been the substitution 
of a realistic setting and dialogue for a false one, 
and then a continuance of the old sham, senti- 
mentalism, triviality. How else can we account 
for the success of Mr. Belasco? But the taste 
engendered by the realistic settings and dialogue 
has banished the cloak and sword and sundial, 
stripped romance of its charm and allure; and 
once stripped of these, it ceases to be romance, 
for it ceases to reach the heart through the sense 
of beauty and of mystery. We have succeeded 
in substituting a chocolate caramel for the apples 
of Hesperides. 

Yet it cannot be that this condition will be 
permanent. Comes a little play like The Gypsy 
Trail, wherein even through the realistic setting 
a strain of romance strikes, and all hearts re 
spond. Youth will not be denied, but, like 
Sentimental Tommy, will "find a way." It 
may be that the old dualism of the Nineties 
was the sane solution, as so many of the modern 
"art theatre " directors maintain, at least by their 
practice, and the realistic drama should stick 
relentlessly to its last, while romance flourishes 



40 The Massing of the Stage Sundial 

untroubled by any fetters, in free, fantastic, per 
haps poetic, form. I do not know. I only 
know that the sundial must come back to the 
stage, not, it may be, as the garden ornament 
of old, but in some guise to further the dreams 
and dear delusions of our beauty-hungry hearts. 
For, as you may have guessed, the sundial is a 
symbol. 





On Singing Songs ^ith One Finger 

JAMES HUNEKER has pointed out that lovers of 
the drama, who are sound judges as well, too 
frequently have so little taste in music that they 
tolerate or even approve the most atrocious 
noises emitted in the name of musical comedy; 
while lovers and sound judges of music are quite 
as often woefully remiss in their knowledge of 
stagecraft, accepting scenery and stage manage 
ment in their opera which would put men less 
skilled in the creation of theatric illusion than 
David Belasco to the blush. 

How true it is that unto him who hath shall 
be denied, and unto him who hath not shall be 
given what the other man could use to such ad 
vantage! The composer who can both pucker 
the lips of the gallery-gods and satisfy the ears of 
the musical critics, how infrequent a visitor on 
this planet! so that Offenbach and Sullivan must 
often have suffered from loneliness. The singer 
who can also at, how rare a song-bird! The 
interpreter of the lieder of Franz or Schubert or 
Grieg who will sacrifice vocal display to the 
composer s meaning, and who has the fineness 



42 On Singing Songs ^ith One Finger 

of soul to grasp and make manifest the mood of 
the lyric, how welcome a guest! And yet those 
who could write undying comic music if only 
they were composers, who could lift the hearts 
of their hearers into the skies with "Hark, hark, 
the lark," if only they could sing, are legion in 
number. How often, in short, like those two 
in Lord Houghton s poem, are temperament 
and technique "strangers yet." 

So are they in me, alas! total strangers. From 
my earliest years I have been filled with the joy 
ous impulse of song, but never were ears more 
false to the one true pitch than mine, never was 
voice less commensurate with ambition. My 
youthful dreams, when they were not of foot 
ball or swimming, were all of the Sirens, and I 
deemed Ulysses, if prudent, none the less a lack- 
sentiment sort of hero, not inspiring to know, 
because he stopped his ears to their song. The 
jeers of my fellows long ago taught me the bitter 
lesson to keep my melody to myself, but the im 
pulse is still in me to sing, the myriad moods of 
music are still mine, and I still consider Ulysses 
the first of the Philistines. 

For some time I thought my own case unique, 
but acquaintance with a music critic who cannot 
hum a tune, and with a celestial tenor (such 
tenors are so rare I fear this may be too personal 
for print) who was the most stupid of men, 
without the slightest capacity for high passion 



On Singing Songs ^ith One Finger 43 

of any sort, convinced me of my error: and 
many subsequent conversations with men and 
women like myself incapacitated by nature for 
self-expression, as well as much listening to bad 
singers with good voices, have but forced con 
viction home. And now, when unfeeling rela 
tives and scoffing friends smile the superior smile 
of the "musically talented " at sight of my piano 
which I play with one finger, and at the pile of 
music upon it, I let them smile, calm in the as 
surance that songs and instrument are mine by 
better right, perhaps, than theirs, who can raise 
voices quite on pitch to the accompaniment of 
eight fingers and two thumbs. 

For, when none of them is by, I play with 
my one finger the airs of the world s great lieder, 
and hear from that slight suggestion the songs 
as they should be sung. As I would rather read 
Hamlet in my library than see the average adtor 
attempt the part, so I would rather play Der Atlas 
with one finger, with my own imagination call 
ing forth the tragic power and grief, the supurb 
climax of surprise and thunder, than hear it sung 
by any man at present on the concert stage. 
The poignant sadness cross-shot with humor of 
another of Schubert s songs, The Hurdy Curdy, 
vanishes in the concert room, melts hopelessly 
into the dulcet tones of the young lady soprano, 
whose friends titter when she is done, "What a 
pretty song." But my one-fingered rendering 



44 On Singing Songs ^vith One Finger 

aided in this song by occasional jabs with three 
fingers of the left hand brings to my inward 
ear the pathos of the barrel-organ, heard over 
the distant hum of a careless city, laden with 
the sorrow of all the world; brings memories, 
too, of that consummate singer of songs, Mar- 
cella Sembrich. Under the touch of my blunt 
forefinger the songs of MacDowell distill their 
delicate melancholy, that in the homes of my 
friends, where daughters ripple well-dusted piano 
keys and display expensive voices, yield only 
treacle and honey. Why should I mind the 
supercilious smile of my neighbor next door 
when he occasionally catches me at my unidigi- 
tal performance, he who is a soloist in a noted 
church choir, but who, I very well know, pre 
fers The Palms or Over There to Purcell s I ll 
sail upon the Dog Sfar, if, indeed, he ever heard 
the madly melodious boast of the "roaring boy"? 
After all, there is nothing wonderful in this. 
It but shows that the genius which creates and 
the imagination which appreciates are akin, even 
as Professor Spingarn has asserted. Even operas 
and symphonies were composed at a piano. 
Strauss heard the one hundred and five instru 
ments which are called on to represent the cry 
of the baby in his Symphonia T)omestica all toot 
ing and scraping in the notes his ten fingers 
evoked from his piano keys. (Personally I 
should rather have heard them so!) And why 



On Singing Songs ^ith One Finger 45 

cannot I hear at least a simple little song in the 
melody that my one finger plays? The numer 
ical ratio is in my favor, surely, although my 
neighbor would doubtless rudely suggest that I 
am not Richard Strauss. At any rate, for me 
there is a great joy in singing songs as they 
ought to be sung, if only with one finger, which 
has done much to console me for the technical 
powers nature has so plentifully denied me. I 
offer the same solution to all others who are in 
my case, only suggesting that it would be wise 
of them, perhaps, to learn while they are yet 
plastic the use of all ten fingers. They will not 
thereby secure ten times as much enjoyment, 
but their families will thank them. 




Immorality of Shop-windows 

AT THE heart of morality lies content. That is 
a statement either optimistic or cynical, as you 
choose to look at it; but it is a statement of fad:. 
Even the reformer seeks to allay his discontent, 
which does not arise from the morality in him, 
but from the immorality in other people. Any 
body who has lived with a reformer knows this. 
Therefore are modern shop-windows by steel 
construction made to occupy the maximum 
amount of space, to assault by breadth and bril 
liance the most callous eye one of the most 
immoral forces in modern city life. 

This is especially true of the shop-windows on 
Fifth Avenue, New York. For these windows, 
even at night illuminated like silent drawing- 
rooms vacant of people, expose to the view of 
the most humble passer on the curb as well as 
to the pampered rich racing by in motors, the 
spoils of all the world. Here are paintings by 
the old masters and the new; rare furniture and 
marbles from Italian palaces; screens from Japan; 
jewels and rugs from the Orient; silk stockings, 
curios, china, bronzes, hats, furs; and again more 



The Immorality of Shop-windows 47 

curios, cabinets, statues, paintings; things rare 
and beautiful and exotic from every quarter of 
the globe, "from silken Samarcand to cedared 
Lebanon/ And they are not collections, they 
are not the treasures of some proud house, al 
though they might have been once; they are 
for sale; they may be bought by anybody who 
has the price. 

But who has the price? That stout woman 
riding by in her limousine, with a Pomeranian 
on her lap instead of a baby? That fifteen-dol- 
lar-a-week chorus-girl in a cab, half buried 
under a two-thousand-dollar chinchilla coat? 
That elderly man who hobbles goutily out of 
his club and walks a few short blocks to his 
house on Murray Hill, "for exercise "? Assur 
edly, somebody has the price, for the shops are 
ever open, the allurement of their windows 
never less. But not you, who gaze hungry-eyed 
at these beautiful objects, and then go to a Sixth 
Avenue department store and wonder if you can 
afford that Persian rug made in Harlem, marked 
down from $50 to $48.87; or that colonial ma 
hogany bookcase glistening with brand new 
varnish. Envy gnaws at your heart. And yet 
you had supposed that yours was a comfortable 
sort of income maybe four thousand dollars a 
year. Your father, on that income, back in a 
New England suburb, was counted quite a man 
in the community, and you put on airs. He se- 



48 The Immorality of Shop-windows 

levied the new minister, and you set the style 
in socks. But now you are humiliated, embit 
tered. You rave against predatory wealth. Thus 
shop-windows do make Socialists of us all. 

Nor are you able to accept the shop-windows 
educationally, recalling that when you went to 
Europe you saw nothing that had not already 
stared at you through plate-glass on Fifth Ave 
nue for sale. Who wants to view one of the 
chairs that a Medici sat in, only to recall that 
months before he saw its mate in a shop-window 
at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-first 
Street; or to contemplate a pious yellow heathen 
bowed down before the image of Buddha, while 
the tinkly temple bells are tinkling, only to 
have rise in his mind the memory of a much 
larger and more venerable Buddha which used 
to smile out inscrutably at the crossing of 
Twenty-ninth Street, below a much sweeter 
string of tinkly temple bells? 

We ve a bigger, better Buddha in a cleaner (!), 

greener (!!) land, 
Many miles from Mandalay. 

There is no romance in an antique, be it god or 
chair or China plate, when it is exposed for sale 
in a shop-window. And there is no romance in 
it amid its native surroundings when you realize 
that any day it may be carried off and so ex 
posed. Thus do shop-windows destroy romance. 



The Immorality of Shop-windows 49 

But in the humbler windows off the Avenue 
there is an equal, if grosser, element of immoral 
ity. For these are the windows where price-tags 
are displayed. The tag has always two prices, the 
higher marked through with red ink, the lower, 
for this very reason, calling with a siren voice. 
The price crossed off is always just beyond your 
means, the other just within it. "Ah," you think, 
swallowing the deception with only too great 
willingness, "what a bargain! It may never come 
again!" And you enter the fatal door. 

Perhaps you struggle first. "Don t buy it," 
says the inhibition of prudence. "You have 
more neckties now than you can wear." 

"But it s so cheap," says impulse, with the 
usual sophistry. 

And you, poor victim that you are, tugged on 
and back by warring factions in your brain, 
poor refutation of the silly old theological super 
stitions that there is such a thing as free will, 
vacillate on the sidewalk till the battle is over, 
till your mythical free will is down in the dust. 
Thus do shop-windows overthrow theology. 

Then you enter that shop, and ask for the 
tie. Or perhaps it is something else, and they 
haven t your size. You ought to feel glad, re 
lieved. Do you? You do not! You are angry. 
You feel as if you had lost just so much money, 
when in reality you have saved it. Thus do 
shop-windows destroy logic. 



50 The Immorality of Shop-windows 

This has been a particularly perilous season 
for the man with a passion for shirts. By some 
diabolic agreement, all the haberdashers at one 
and the same time filled their windows with 
luscious lavenders and faint green stripes and soft 
silk shirts with comfortable French cuffs, and 
marking out $2.00 or $3.00, as the case might 
be, wrote $1.50 or $2.50 below. The song of 
the shirt was loud in the land, its haunting 
melody not to be resisted. Is there any lure for 
a woman in all the fluffy mystery of a January 
"white sale" comparable to the seduction for a 
man of a lavender shirt marked down from 
$2.00 to $1,50? I doubt it. Heaven help the 
woman if there is! So the unused stock in 
trunk or bureau drawer accumulates, and the 
weekly reward for patient toil at an office drib 
bles away, and the savings-bank is no richer for 
your deposit and the shop-windows flare as 
shamelessly as ever. There is only one satisfaction. 
The man who sells shirts always has a passion for 
jewelry. And that keeps him poor, too! 




^A Forgotten ^American 

I HAVE written the title, "A forgotten Ameri 
can poet," and I shall let it stand, though I am 
not sure that he was ever well enough known 
to be spoken of now as forgotten. Ten or a 
dozen years ago a friend of mine who was 
working on an anthology of American poetry, 
at the John Carter Brown library in Providence, 
wrote to me with great enthusiasm of a poet he 
had "discovered," and of whom he had never 
heard before. "His name is Frederick Goddard 
Tuckerman," my friend said, "and you will not 
find him in Stedman s anthology, though it 
seems incredible that Stedman left out anybody 
or anything. Get a copy of his poems if you 
can Ticknor and Fields, 1860." 

I sent in my order for the book, to Good- 
speed s, and then forgot the incident. But Good- 
speed didn t. A year later the book came. Evi 
dently it is an infrequent item at the auctions. 
The copy I received was a second edition, dated 
1864 (which seems to indicate the poems had 
found some readers), but still in the familiar 
brown of Ticknor and Fields, matching my 



52 <iA Forgotten ^American 

first American editions of The ^4ngel in the 
House. This copy was of special interest be 
cause it was a presentation copy from the author 
to Harriet Beecher Stowe. The leaves had been 
opened, but if Mrs. Stowe read, she had made 
no marginal comments. The only addition to 
the book was an old newspaper clipping pasted 
in the back a condensed history of the Beecher 
family ! I read the volume myself with increas 
ing interest and enthusiasm, and at the close I 
desired to learn more of Frederick Goddard 
Tuckerman, not of the Beechers. Mr. Sted- 
man s complete omission of these poems could 
only have been explained, I felt, by an equally 
complete ignorance of their existence. Com 
pared to the poems of Henry T. Tuckerman, 
included by Stedman, the verses of his unknown 
cousin were as gold to copper. Why, I won 
dered, had this man been so completely ob 
literated by Time, or why had he failed in his 
life to reach a niche where Time could not 
utterly efface him? 

I wrote to Colonel Thomas Wentworh Hig- 
ginson, who, I discovered, had been a classmate 
of Tuckerman s at Harvard, and who of course 
knew practically everybody of consequence in 
the literary world of his generation. Colonel 
Higginson was able to supply some data, but 
not much. Tuckerman was born in 1821, of a 
rather well-known Boston family. Joseph Tuck- 



Forgotten ^American Poet 5 3 

erman, philanthropist and early Unitarian clergy 
man, was his uncle. He was a younger brother 
of Edward Tuckerman, long famous as a pro 
fessor of botany at Amherst College, and who 
gave his name to Tuckerman s Ravine on Mount 
Washington. Frederick Goddard Tuckerman 
entered Harvard with the class of 1841, but 
remained only a year, passing over to the Law 
School a little later where he secured his LL.B. 
in 1842, and for a period evidently practised 
law in Boston. "I remember he came back 
among us at some kind of gathering during our 
college course," Colonel Higginson wrote, "and 
seemed very friendly and cordial to all. I re 
member him as a refined and gentlemanly fel 
low, but did not then know him as a poet. I see 
him put down as a lawyer in Boston (in Adams s 
T&tiionary of American Authors}, but I have no 
recolle&ion of that facl." 

It was not until I had written and published 
in the Forum magazine a little appreciation of 
his poetry that I learned from his son, now a 
resident of Amherst, Massachusetts, that Fred 
erick Tuckerman, even as his verses seemed to 
imply, early moved away from cities to the 
beautiful valley under the shadow of the Hoi- 
yoke Range, and there passed his days, evidently 
the world forgetting, and by the world forgot. 
He issued his single volume of poems in 1860, 
when he was thirty-nine, just before the out- 



54 ^ Forgotten ^American 

break of the Civil War, but no shadow of that 
coming contest crosses their pages, as it crossed 
the pages of Whittier and Emerson, or as it 
affedted the a&ive life of his classmate Colonel 
Higginson. The second edition, in 1864, was 
still unaffedted by the great struggle. He pro 
duced his slender sheaf of poems amid the fields, 
in quiet introspection, and he might well be 
accused of a species of Pharisaism, were these 
poems not so artlessly and passionately sincere, 
and often so tinged with religious awe. His 
withdrawal, in his verse, from the life of his 
times was the a6t of a natural recluse. 

At the time Tuckerman s poems were issued, 
it is interesting to consider briefly some of the 
poetic influences which affected the public. 
The two best-selling poets just then, even in 
America, were Tennyson and Coventry Pat- 
more, the latter represented, of course, by The 
Angel in the House. Indeed, the poems of these 
two sold better than novels! Whitman was 
hardly yet an influence. Julia Ward Howe had 
written, and Booth had accepted, a drama in 
blank verse. Our minor poets still wrote in the 
style of Pope, and the narrative shared honors 
with the moral platitude in popular regard. 
Tennyson, of course, was a great poet, and 
Patmore no mean one, even at that time, but 
it is questionable whether the huge popular suc 
cess of their works, such as The Princess and 



Forgotten ^American *Poet 55 

The tAngel in the House, was due to their 
stridtly poetic merits. At any rate, the poetry 
of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, lacking nar 
rative interest, palatable platitudes, lyric lilt, but 
being, rather, contemplative, aloof, delicately 
minor and in many ways curiously modern, 
must have fallen on ears not attuned to it. He 
had none of the Bolshevik revolutionary vitality 
of Whitman, to thrive and grow by the opposi 
tion he created. He could have aroused no oppo 
sition. It would have been his happy fate to 
find men and women who could appreciate his 
delicate observation of nature, his golden bursts 
of imaginative vigor, his wistful, contemplative 
melancholy, his disregard of academic form less 
because it hampered him than because he was 
careless of anything but the exact image. Such 
readers it was apparently not his fate to find in 
sufficient numbers to bring him fame. He was, 
in a sense, a modern before his time, but with 
out sufficient consciousness of his modernity to 
fight. He was a mute, inglorious Robert Frost 
like Frost for one year a Harvard student, like him 
retiring to the New England countryside, like 
him intent chiefly on rendering the common 
place beauty of that countryside into something 
magical because so true. Only he lacked Frost s 
dramatic sense, and interest in human problems. 
Tuckerman s favorite medium was the sonnet; 
but a sonnet to him was a thing of fourteen five- 



56 ^4 Forgotten ^American 

foot iambic lines, and there all rules ended. 
Sometimes he even crowded six feet into a line. 
It is possible his laxness of form was due to igno 
rance, but more likely that it was due to a greater 
interest in his mood than in the "rules" of poetry. 
Many of his sonnets were in sequence, one flow 
ing into the next. Here are two, thus unified, 
which show in flashes his sweep of imaginative 
phrase, and his transcendental bent: 

The starry flower, the flower-like stars that fade 
And brighten with the daylight and the dark 
The bluet in the green I faintly mark, 
The glimmering crags with laurel overlaid, 
Even to the Lord of light, the Lamp of shade, 
Shine one to me the least, still glorious made 
As crowned moon or heaven s great hierarch. 
And so, dim grassy flower and night-lit spark, 
Still move me on and upward for the True; 
Seeking through change, growth, death, in new and old 
The full in few, the statelier in the less, 
With patient pain; always remembering this 
His hand, who touched the sod with showers of gold, 
Stippled Orion on the midnight blue. 

And so, as this great sphere (now turning slow 

Up to the light from that abyss of stars, 

Now wheeling into gloom through sunset bars) 

With all its elements of form and flow, 

And life in life, where crown d yet blind must go 

The sensible king is but a Unity 

Compressed of motes impossible to know; 

Which worldlike yet in deep analogy 

Have distance, march, dimension and degree; 



Forgotten ^American "Poet 57 

So the round earth which we the world do call 
Is but a grain in that which mightiest swells, 
Whereof the stars of light are particles, 
As ultimate atoms of one infinite Ball 
On which God moves, and treads beneath His feet 
the All ! 

Turning the page we come on a poem called 
The Question. "How shall I array my love?" 
he asks, and ranges the earth for costly jewels 
and silks from Samarcand; but because his love 
is a simple New England maid, he rejefts them 
all as unworthy and inappropriate, and closing 

sings : 

The river-riches of the sphere, 

All that the dark sea-bottoms bear, 

The wide earth s green convexity, 

The inexhaustible blue sky, 

Hold not a prize so proud, so high, 

That it could grace her, gay or grand, 

By garden-gale and rose-breath fanned; 

Or as to-night I saw her stand, 

Lovely in the meadow land, 

With a clover in her hand. 

Have not these lines a magic simplicity ? It seems 
so to me. They flow rippling and bright to the 
inevitable finish, and there is no more to say. 

Tuckerman s power of close yet magical ob 
servation, used not so much in the Tennysonian 
way (for Tennyson was a close observer, make 
no mistake about that) as in what we now think 
of as the modern way, that is, as a part of the 



58 *A Forgotten ^American "Poet 

realistic record of homely events, with beauty 
only as a by-produdr,, is well illustrated in the 
opening lines of a narrative poem called The 
School Girl, a New England Idyll. Here again 
a kinship with Frost is seen, rather than with 
Tuckerman s contemporaries: 

The wind, that all the day had scarcely clashed 
The cornstalks in the sun, as the sun sank 
Came rolling up the valley like a wave, 
Broke in the beech and washed among the pine, 
And ebbed to silence; but at the welcome sound 
Leaving my lazy book without a mark, 
In hopes to lose among the blowing fern 
The dregs of headache brought from yesternight, 
And stepping lightly lest the children hear 
I from a side door slipped, and crossed a lane 
With bitter Mayweed lined, [and over a field 
Snapping with grasshoppers, until I came 
Down where an interrupted brook held way 
Among the alders. There, on a strutting branch 
Leaving my straw, I sat and wooed the west, 
With breast and palms outspread as to a fire. 

These powers of observation are again illus 
trated in a poem of quite different import, called 
<3xCargites y a lyric of thirteen stanzas, some of 
which are inexcusably crude. It begins: 

I neither plow the field nor sow, 

Nor hold the spade nor drive the cart, 

Nor spread the heap, nor hill nor hoe, 
To keep the barren land in heart. 



Forgotten ^American Poet 59 

After four more stanzas in similar vein, comes 
this bit of magic word-painting, so instindt with 
our New England Autumn, yet so entirely the 
work of a realist, with his eye on the objedt: 

But, leaning from my window, chief 
I mark the Autumn s mellow signs 

The frosty air, the yellow leaf, 
The ladder leaning on the vines. 

The maple from his brood of boughs 
Puts northward out a reddening limb; 

The mist draws faintly round the house; 
And all the headland heights are dim. 

The poem then continues to its close: 

And yet it is the same as when 

I looked across the chestnut woods, 

And saw the barren landscape then 
O er the red bunch of lilac buds; 

And all things seem the same. Tis one 

To lie in sleep, or toil as they 
Who rise beforetime with the sun, 

And so keep footstep with their day; 

For aimless oaf and wiser fool 

Work to one end by differing deeds; 

The weeds rot in the standing pool; 
The water stagnates in the weeds; 

And all by waste or warfare falls, 

Has gone to wreck, or crumbling goes, 

Since Nero planned his golden walls, 
Or the Cham Cublai built his house. 



60 *A Forgotten ^American "Poet 

But naught I reck of change and fray; 

Watching the clouds at morning driven, 
The still declension of the day; 

And, when the moon is just in heaven, 

I walk, unknowing where or why; 

Or idly lie beneath the pine, 
And bite the dry brown threads, and lie 

And think a life well lost is mine. 

"A life well lost"! The phrase is perhaps 
pathetically revealing and prophetic. Or are 
we stretching the poet s ambitions to be known 
as a poet? That he published what he wrote 
indicates a normal desire for recognition, yet it 
can hardly be doubted, either, that he was an 
amateur in verse, whose life was rather centred 
in his contemplative, retiring existence among 
the fields and hills of Amherst. There may 
even seem to some a delicate Pharisaism about 
this sonnet, a Pharisaism removed from the ro 
bustness of Thoreau, who would certainly have 
argued the point with the farmer: 

"That boy," the farmer said, with hazel wand 
Pointing him out, half by the haycock hid, 

"Though bare sixteen can work at what he s bid 
From sun till set, to cradle, reap or band." 
I heard the words, but scarce could understand 
Whether they claimed a smile or gave me pain; 
Or was it aught to me, in that green lane, 
That all day yesterday, the briers amid, 
He held the plough against the jarring land 
Steady, or kept his place among the mowers; 



Forgotten ^American Poet 6 1 

Whilst other fingers, sweeping for the flowers, 
Brought from the forest back a crimson stain? 
Was it a thorn that touched the flesh? or did 
The poke-berry spit purple on my hand ? 

Yet, as we have said, Tuckerman was far from 
Pharisaism of any sort, either of the aesthete or 
nature-lover. His mind was too genuinely occu 
pied with spiritual problems. Take, for exam 
ple, this closing sonnet in a sequence depicting 
the discords of Nature: 

Not the round natural word, not the deep mind, 
The reconcilement holds: the blue abyss 
Collects it not; our arrows sink amiss; 
And but in Him may we our import find. 
The agony to know, the grief, the bliss 
Of toil, is vain and vain ! clots of the sod 
Gathered in heat and haste, and flung behind, 
To blind ourselves and others what but this, 
Still grasping dust and sowing toward the wind? 
No more thy meaning seek, thine anguish plead; 
But leaving straining thought and stammering word 
Across the barren azure pass to God; 
Shooting the void in silence, like a bird 
A bird that shuts his wings for better speed! 

Here, surely, is poetry that would not seem the 
least among the myriad hosts in Mr. Stedman s 
hospitable anthology! The rhyme scheme may 
be quite unorthodox, but the poet s lips have 
been touched by a coal from the high altar, 
none the less. 

The volume closes with a sonnet sequence 
which is poignantly intimate; almost it is a 



62 zA Forgotten ^American "Poet 

diary of the poet s grief for the loss of the 
woman he loved, and in its stabbing intensity 
holds a hint of such poems as Patmore s The 
Azalea. Here is one: 

Again, again, ye part in stormy grief 
From these bare hills and bowers so built in vain, 
And lips and hearts that will not move again 
Pathetic Autumn and the writhled leaf; 
Dropping away in tears with warning brief: 
The wind reiterates a wailful strain, 
And on the skylight beats the restless rain, 
And vapour drowns the mountain, base and brow. 
I watch the wet black roofs through mist defined, 
I watch the raindrops strung along the blind, 
And my heart bleeds, and all my senses bow 
In grief; as one mild face, with suffering lined, 
Comes up in thought : oh, wildly, rain and wind, 
Mourn on! she sleeps, nor heeds your angry 
sorrow now. 

Such use of pi&orial observation as "the rain 
drops strung along the blind/ and "the wet 
black roofs through mist defined/ is something 
you will look for in vain through the pages of 
Longfellow, for instance. This is the sonnet of 
a realist. So, also, is this one, which does not 
seem to me to deserve oblivion, and certainly so 
long as my memory retains its power will have 
that little span of immortality: 

My Anna! when for thee my head was bowed, 
The circle of the world, sky, mountain, main, 
Drew inward to one spot; and now again 



Forgotten ^American "Poef 63 

Wide Nature narrows to the shell and shroud. 
In the late dawn they will not be forgot, 
And evenings early dark; when the low rain 
Begins at nightfall, though no tempest rave, 
I know the rain is falling on her grave; 
The morning views it, and the sunset cloud 
Points with a finger to that lonely spot; 
The crops, that up the valley rolling go, 
Ever toward her slumber bow and blow! 
I look on the sweeping corn and the surging rye, 
And with every gust of wind my heart goes by! 

It must not be supposed that the predominant 
note in Tuckerman s poetry is elegiac; rather is 
it a note of tender, wistful, and scrupulously 
accurate contemplation of the New England 
countryside, mingled with spiritual speculation. 
But as the volume closed with the elegiac 
poems, and as thereafter no more poems were 
published, it may be surmised that the poet s 
will to create was smothered in the poignant 
ripple of his personal sorrow. Had it not been, 
and had his pen continued to write, one cannot 
help wondering how much closer he would 
have come to the modern note in poetry. That 
he already felt a tendency to progress from the 
old metres to freer forms is constantly apparent; 
and this tendency, combined with his uncon 
sciously scrupulous realism, might well have 
brought him near to the present. I should like 
to close this little paper to his memory with 
one of his lyrics which throws over rhyme alto- 



64 *A Forgotten ^American 

gether, and stridlly formal metre, also, though 
the fetters are still there. It is the stab of grief 
which comes through to haunt you, the bare 
simplicity and the woe. Obje&ive it certainly 
is not, as the modernists maintain they are. Yet 
the personal note will always be modern, for it 
has no age. This lyric belongs to you and me to 
day, not in the pages of a forgotten book, on the 
shelves of a dusty library. I would that some 
of our vers libre practitioners could equal it: 

I took from its glass a flower, 
To lay on her grave with dull, accusing tears; 
But the heart of the flower fell out as I handled the rose, 
And my heart is; shattered and soon will wither away. 

I watch the changing shadows, 
And the patch of windy sunshine upon the hill, 
And the long blue woods; and a grief no tongue can tell 
Breaks at my eyes in drops of bitter rain. 

I hear her baby wagon, 
And the little wheels go over my heart: 
Oh! when will the light of the darkened house return? 
Oh! when will she come who made the hills so fair? 

I sit by the parlor window, 

When twilight deepens and winds grow cold without; 
But the blessed feet no more come up the walk, 
And my little girl and I cry softly together. 




New "Poetry and the J^ingering J^jne 

I HAVE one grave objection to the "new poetry" 
I cannot remember it. Some, to be sure, would 
say that is no objection at all, but I am not of 
the number. It would hardly become me, in 
fa6t, since I have, in a minor pipe, committed 
"new poetry" myself on various and sundry oc 
casions, or what I presume it to be, particularly 
when I didn t have time to write in rhyme or 
even metre. The new poets may objed: all they 
like, but it is easier to put your thought (when 
you happen to have one) into rhythm than into 
rhyme and metre. If, indeed, as the vers libre 
practitioners insist, each idea comes clothed in 
its own inevitable rhythm, there can be very 
little trouble about the matter. The poem 
composes itself, and your chief task will be with 
the printer! I don t say the rhythmic irregular 
ity is not, perhaps, more suitable for certain ef- 
fefts, or at any rate that it cannot achieve effects 
of its own; I certainly don t say that it isn t 
poetry because it does not trip to formal meas 
ure. Poetry resides in deeper matters than this. 
I recall Ibsen s remark when told that the 



66 New "Poetry and the Lingering Line 

reviewers declared "Peer (jynt wasn t poetry. 
"Very well," said he, "it will be." Since it 
now indubitably is, one is cautious about ques 
tioning the work of the present, such work as 
Miss Lowell s, for instance. Of course the mere 
chopping up of unrhythmic prose into capital 
ized lines without glow, without emotion, is 
not poetry, any more than the blank verse of 
the second-rate nineteenth-century "poetic 
drama," which old Joe Crowell, comedian, de 
scribed as "good, honest prose set up hind-side 
foremost." We may eliminate that from the 
discussion once and for all. But the genuine 
new poets, who know what they are about, and 
doubtless why they are about it, I regard with 
all deference, hailing especially their good fight 
to free poetry of its ancient inversions, its minc 
ing vocabulary, its thous and thees, its bosky 
dells and purling streams, its affe&ations and un 
realities, both of speech and subject. But I do 
say they miss a certain triumphant craftsman s 
joy at packing precisely what you mean, hard 
enough to express in unlimited prose, into a 
fettered, singing line; and I do say that I can t 
remember what they write. 

At least, nobody can dispute this latter state 
ment. He may declare it the fault of my mem 
ory, which has been habituated to retain only 
such lines as have rhyme and metre to help it 
out. But I hardly think his retort adequate, 



New Poetry and the Lingering Line 67 

because, in the first place, the memory is much 
less amenable to training and much more a 
matter of fixed capacity and acliion than certain 
advertisements in the popular magazines would 
have the "twenty-dollar-a-week man" believe, 
and in the second place, because my case, \ find, 
is the case of almost everybody with whom I 
have talked on the subject. The solution, I be 
lieve, is perfectly simple. Nearly anyone can 
remember a tune; even I can, within limits. 
At least, I can do better than Tennyson, who 
could recognize, he said, two tunes; one was 
"God Save the Queen" and the other wasn t. 
But when music is broken into independent 
rhythms, irregular and oddly related phrases, it is 
only the person exceptionally endowed who can 
remember it without prolonged study. The very 
first audience who heard Rigoletto came away 
humming "Donna e mobile." And the very last 
audience who heard Pelleas et Melisande came 
away humming "Donna e mobile." It is the 
law. Needless to say, I enjoyed Pelleas et Meli 
sande, but I cannot whistle it. What I recall is a 
mood, a pidture, a vague ecstasy, a hushed terror. 
It was James Huneker, was it not, who, when 
asked what he thought of the opera, replied that 
Mary Garden s hair was superb. 

"But the music?" he was urged. 

"Oh, the music," said he, " the music didn t 
bother me." 



68 New Poetry and the Lingering Line 

But the new poetry does bother me, because 
I strive to remember not the mere mood or 
pidture of the poem, but the adhial words which 
created them, and I cannot. I want to compel 
again, at will, the actual poetic experience, and 
I cannot, without carrying a library in my 
pocket. The words hover, sometimes, just be 
yond the threshold of my brain, like a forgotten 
name ("If you hadn t asked me, I could have 
told you" you know the sensation); but they 
never come. I have no comfort of them in the 
still hours of the day when I would be whisper 
ing them to myself. Instead, I have to fall back 
upon the old-fashioned Golden Treasury. I can 
not remember a single line that Amy Lowell has 
written about her Roxbury garden, but I shall 
never forget what Wordsworth said about that 
field of gold he passed; I repeat his lines, and 
then my heart, too, with pleasure fills and dances 
with his daffodils. 

It is an immemorial delight, this pleasure in 
the lingering line, in the haunting couplet, in 
the quatrain that will not let you forget. By 
sacrificing it, the new poetry has sacrificed some 
thing precious, something that a common in 
stinct of mankind demands of the minstrel. It 
will not suffice for the new poets to deny that 
they are minstrels, to assert that they write for 
the eye, not speak for the ear, that it is not 
their mission to emit pretty sounds but so to pre- 



New Poetry and the Lingering Line 69 

sent their vision of the world that it shall etch 
itself on men s minds with the bite of reality. 
Such a creed is admirable, but defective. It is 
defective because, in the first place, if the new 
poets did not write for the ear quite as much as 
the old poets, there would be no excuse even 
for rhythm. Any reader who is sensitive enough 
to care to read poetry is sensitive enough to hear 
it with his inward ear even as he sees it with his 
outward eye, and his after-pleasure, as it were, 
his lingering delight, will be in proportion as 
his ear retains the echo of the song. All poets 
are minstrels, still. Such a creed is defective, 
in the second place, because it has always 
been the mission of genuine poets to impress 
their vision of the world vividly on mankind, 
though their vision included more, sometimes, 
than what the realists choose to consider reality. 
There is nothing new in such an effort. In 
slack ages of poetic inspiration, however, the 
versifiers have no vision of the world, but only 
of its pale mirrored reflections in visions dead 
and gone, and some jolt is needed to bring the 
poets back to first-hand observation. Such a jolt 
are the new poets. Spoon River is a medicine, a 
splendid tonic. But the form of Spoon River is 
not conditioned by eternal needs, only by tem 
porary ones. Its complete absence of loveliness, 
of lines that linger, will be its greatest handicap 
to immortality for poetic immortality to-day as 



jo New Poetry and the Lingering Line 

much as ever is not in the pages of a book on a 
library shelf, but on the lips of men and women. 
A poem from which nobody ever quotes is a 
poem forgotten. 

Tennyson was something of an Imagist at 
times, presenting his mood or picture with a 
Flaubertian precision of epithet that even Amy 
Lowell could not criticise. Consider, for exam 
ple, his famous Fragment on the eagle: 

He clasps the crag with crooked hands 
Close to the sun in distant lands, 
Ringed with the azure world he stands. 

Beneath, the wrinkled ocean crawls, 
He watches from his mountain walls, 
And like a thunderbolt he falls. 

The precision of wording here, the tremendous- 
ness of scene evoked with stark economy of 
means, the triumphant vividness of the adjective 
"wrinkled," transporting the reader at once to a 
great height above the plain of the sea, the 
complete absence of any touch of the "poetic" 
(surely the beautiful word azure may be admit 
ted in modern company), make this poem a 
masterpiece without date or time. It is as "new" 
as the latest Imagist anthology. And, be it 
noted, I have quoted it correctly, I feel confi 
dent, from memory. My copy of Tennyson is 
in storage, and I have not read the fragment 
probably in ten or a dozen years. Yet whenever 



New Poetry and the Lingering Line 7 1 

I wish to relive its mood, to see again its incom 
parable picture, I have only to move my lips, 
even only to repeat the lines inwardly, in silence, 
and the poem is mine again. 

But I have just been reading the latest Im- 
agist anthology, especially the Lacquer Prints 
by Amy Lowell, not ten years, but hardly ten 
minutes ago and I cannot repeat one of them. 
I could learn them, of course, by an effort. But 
that is not the way man desires to remember 
music and poetry. It must come singing into 
his head and heart and remain there without 
his effort. Here is a "Lacquer Print " called Sun 
shine. It is indeed vivid, though (quite prop 
erly, of course) a little garden pool to Tenny 
son s vast ocean. 

The pool is edged with blade-like leaves of irises. 
If I throw a stone into the placid water 
It suddenly stiffens 
Into rings and rings 
Of sharp gold wire. 

Here is a vivid picture, here is economy and 
scrupulous selection of epithet, here is no "po 
etic" didtion of the despised sort. But some 
thing is lacking, none the less. It does not haunt 
you, it does not ingratiate itself with your ear, 
you do not find yourself repeating it days and 
months later. Close the book and the poem 
perishes, even as those rings subside on the pool. 



72 New Poetry and the Lingering Line 

It would be only too easy to find much more 
striking examples in the new verse. Take, for 
instance, the opening stanza of Ezra Pound s 
poem, The Return: 

See, they return ; ah, see the tentative 
Movements, and the slow feet, 
The trouble in the pace and the uncertain 
Wavering ! 

It is doubtful if any reader will fail to see the 
trouble in the pace of these lines! No doubt it 
was exactly the effecT: the poet desired, but it 
will forever effectually prevent the repetition of 
his poem by anybody without the book. When 
a woman once boasted that she could repeat 
anything on a single hearing, Theodore Hook 
rattled off the immortal nonsense, beginning, 
" She went into the garden patch to get a cab 
bage head to make an apple pie, and a great she 
bear coming up the road thrust her head into 
the shop and cried What, no soap? and so he 
died " and the woman was floored. Such a 
poem as The Return would have floored her 
quite as completely. I find, after reading care 
fully all the twenty pages assigned to Ezra 
Pound in The New "Poetry ^Anthology, edited by 
Miss Monroe (a greater space, I believe, than was 
awarded to any other poet), that I can now repeat 



New Poetry and the Lingering Line 73 

just one line or, rather, two lines, such is Mr. 
Pound s odd way of phrasing his rhythms. Here 

they are: 

Dawn enters with little feet 

Like a gilded Pavlova. 

There is a certain humorous charm of epithet 
here, and a rhythmic suggestion of metrical beat 
to follow. That, no doubt, is why the line has 
stuck in my memory. But the metrical beat did 
not follow, and the rest of the stanza has gone 
from me. I am sure even a gilded Pavlova 
would be at some difficulty to dance to Mr. 
Pound s rhythms. 

But Miss Monroe is catholic in her choice ot 
new poets. She includes, for instance, Walter 
de la Mare, if in less than two pages. She se 
lects his wonderful poem The Listeners, and the 
quaint, haunting, Epitaph. It is a little hard to 
see just why The Listeners is new poetry, except 
chronologically. Its odd, apparently simple but 
really intricate and triumphantly fluid metrical 
structure, so unified that there is no break from 
the first syllable to the last ; its lyric romanticism 
of subject; its obvious delight in tune; even its 
occasional lapses into the ancient "poetic" vocab 
ulary (the traveler "smote" the door, the listen 
ers "hearkened," and so on), are all a part of the 
nineteenth-century tradition of English verse. 



74 New Poetry and the Lingering Line 

It is no more modern than La Belle Dame Sans 
Merci which, to be sure, is quite modern in 
deed to some of us. And it has lyric beauty, it 
has lines of unforgettable musical loveliness, it 
creeps in through the ear and echoes in the 
memory. You surely remember the close: 

Never the least stir made the listeners, 

Though every word he spake 
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house 

From the one man left awake : 
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup, 

And the sound of iron on stone, 
And how the stillness surged softly backward, 

When the plunging hoofs were gone. 

Is there really any loss of sharpness in the im 
agery here because of the rhyme and metre? 
Could any phrase, of any rhythm, however free, 
render any better and more economically the 
peculiar noise of a horse turning on a hard drive 
and starting away in the night, than "the sound 
of iron on stone"? The last two lines, surely, 
are close to perfection. A genuine new poet 
would probably have hunted long for a less 
hackneyed word than "plunging," but though 
it would possibly have sharpened his final image, 
it would, at the same time, in all probability, 
have robbed it of that very vagueness sought 
and captured. No, the passage pidtorially and 
emotionally is as near perfection as it is often 



New Poetry and the Lingering Line 75 

permitted mortals to approach, and it lingers and 
echoes in the memory, it will not be forgotten. 
It has the lilt of music, the chime of tune, the 
immemorial loveliness of song. If the precise 
image, the desired emotional effect, the intel 
lectual content can be imparted in fettered verse, 
and, in addition, the ancient loveliness can be 
retained, which the new verse lacks, can it be 
possible that the world will long endure to read 
vers libre when vers libre has done its work of 
bringing poets back to first-hand reality for their 
subjects, relating the minstrels to the spirit of 
their age? I cannot think so. I cannot but be 
lieve that any poetry long to endure must be 
memorable, in the literal sense, and that is 
just what the new poetry is not. Already, it 
seems to me from my acquaintance with under 
graduates and the just-graduated, vers libre is a 
little the cult of the middle-aged, while youth, 
the future, is swinging back gladly to the fetters 
of metre and rhyme, and probably forgetful that 
the public which awaits their effort has been pre 
pared anew for poetry by this revolt from what 
was stale in tradition. I believe that memorable 
poetry always has been, and always must be, ir 
radiated by 

The light that never was on sea or land, 

which is but another way of saying that it 
must have elevation and the haunting mystery 



j6 New Poetry and the Lingering Line 

of beauty. The trouble is, of course, to catch 
this authentic radiation, instead of some pale 
reflection from Patmore or Rossetti. It was 
against the sham of second-hand mood and 
subjedt, rather than the great truth of music 
and loveliness, that the new poets broke into 
unmetrical protest. They have done a brave and 
needed work, but they have produced aston 
ishingly little quotable poetry, they have sung 
their way not far into the hearts of their lis 
teners. The lingering, lovely line is not for 
them. No, for still, 

The soul of Adonais, like a star, 

Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are. 




The J^ies We J^earn in Our Youth 

THE world for a great many years has accepted 
the didhim of the poet, that 

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, 

The saddest are these : It might have been. 

Even those people who refused to accept the 
rhyme have accepted the reason. But the facl 
is that the reason of this copybook couplet is as 
bad as the rhyme. It would be much nearer the 
truth to say that o all sad words of tongue or 
pen, the saddest are these: He s succeeded again 
Here, too, the rhyme may be questioned, but 
the reason is sound. An entirely successful man 
is the most pitiful objecl: in the universe. Not 
only has he nothing to look forward to, but he 
has nothing to look back upon. Having no re 
grets, no shadows, in his life, he has no chiaro 
scuro, no depth, no solidity in his picture. It is 
painted in the flat. "Regret," says George 
Moore, to change the figure a little, "is like a 
mountain top from which we survey our dead 
life, a mountain top on which we pause and 
ponder." He has no point of view, then, either. 



78 The Lies We Learn in Our Youth 

So after all the words, "It might have been," do 
bear a sadness about them in his case; his life 
might have been a success if it had only been a 
failure. "It might have been" thus becomes 
sad when it reflects back upon itself, when it 
means there might have been a might have been 
but there was only a was. So life whirls into 
paradox! 

Let any man in honesty retire into the soli 
tude of his soul and reflect on his joys that 
might have been and those that were, and let 
him then answer whether any of his realizations 
were the equal of his anticipations. Therefore, 
if he had achieved the anticipated but lost de 
lights which form the burden of his "Might 
have been," they, too, would have been as ashes 
in the mouth. The truth is that the essence of 
delight is in the anticipation, the best of life is 
the vision, not the reality. It is pathetic not to 
have entertained the vision, but more pathetic, 
perhaps, to have attained it. Wasn t it Oscar 
Wilde who said that there is only one thing 
more tragic than failure success? 

Did our regretful poet dream at twenty-one 
of being the perfect lover? In his dreams he 
was the perfect lover, then. Yet actually what 
was he? What was she? What was their court 
ship, their marriage? You, prosy, contented, 
forty and forgetful, by your prosy hearth or 
shaking down the furnace fire, while the chil- 



The Lies We Learn in Our Youth 79 

dren are being put to bed, you dare to call "It 
might have been" the saddest words of tongue 
or pen? Those now almost forgotten dreams of 
what might have been are the best you ever 
were. Remember them as often as you can, as 
bitterly, as happily, for your soul s salvation. 
Without them you are the lowest of God s 
creatures, a mere married man. 

Or take the case of Maud Muller herself, and 
her judge. We learn that the judge 

Wedded a wife of richest dower, 
Who lived for fashion, as he for power. 

Maud, on the other hand, 

Wedded a man unlearned and poor, 

And many children played round her door. 

Probably in both cases this was for the best. 
Only the wildest sentimentalist could in serious 
ness urge that Maud would have made a good 
wife for the judge. Being a man who "lived for 
power," the probable unpresentableness of Maud 
in a town house would have been a constant 
thorn in his flesh. She could not appear bare 
footed at his receptions, and the feet that have 
gone bare through an agricultural girlhood do 
not readily adapt themselves to the size of shoe 
which urban fashion dictates. Moreover, the 
vague yearnings of a young girl for an alliance 
with a handsome stranger above her station, do 



8o The Lies We Learn in Our Youth 

not fit her to speak the speech and think the 
thoughts and meet the social demands of that 
station. No, Maud would have been a constant 
thorn in the judge s side. Summer sunshine, the 
smell of hay, a drink of cold water, a pretty, 
barefoot girl the mood is compounded. An 
uneducated farmer s daughter for a wife the 
reality is accomplished. 

And as for Maud, who will say for certain 
that she would not eventually have eloped with 
the coachman because he praised her pies in 
stead of criticising her grammar? 

So to each of them barefoot girl and bald- 
headed judge (he probably was bald-headed, 
though the poem omits to say so) did what was 
best, and the school children for several gener 
ations have been taught to waste unnecessary 
sympathy over their fate, have been inculcated 
with a false view of the whole matter. Both of 
them found far more happiness in dreaming of 
what might have been than ever they could 
have found in the realization; for each of them 
this dream brought undoubted sadness, but the 
sadness which is really pleasure, the sadness, that 
is, which comes over all of us when we realize 
that though we have missed certain ideals in our 
lives we are still able to recall those ideals, we 
are still not like all the dead, forgetful clods 
around us, our wives and husbands and neigh 
bors and friends. We live with these people as 



The Lies We Learn in Our Youth 81 

one of them, of course, but we might have been 
so much better than they! Such reflections as 
these are a great comfort. They bring a sadness 
which makes us mournfully happy. They rec 
oncile us with the scheme of things. They are 
the outcroppings of that secret vanity which the 
best and the worst of us nourish, and of which is 
born our self-respect, our happiness, our heroism. 
Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was 
a town called Abdera. The good people of 
the town were so much upset at seeing a per 
formance of the Andromeda of Euripides that 
they caught a sort of tragic fever. This began 
with bleeding and perspiration and was followed 
in about a week s time, according to the course of 
the disease, by an uncontrollable desire to recite. 
The effect upon Abdera was surprising. The 
people walked about in the streets day and 
night reciting pages of Euripides until the epi 
demic was cured by a return of the cold weather. 
Well, Tolstoy would have us believe that the 
European and English-speaking world to-day is 
about in this condition regarding Shakespeare, 
and that there is little hope of a cold spell. A 
second-rate fellow, this Bard of Avon, according 
to Tolstoy, whom by a gigantic process of hyp 
notic suggestion we have been taught to think 
great, till we go about quoting him as the law 
and the prophet, while he fills some hundred 
and seventeen pages of Bartlett. 



82 The Lies We Learn in Our Youth 

There is undoubtedly something in this view 
of the matter. Without holding a brief either 
for the alleged immortal William or the author 
of What Is Art?, it may safely be hazarded 
that at least fifty per cent of the "familiar quo 
tations" we children laboriously copied into ruled 
blank books in our school days and have ever 
since regarded as nuggets of truth and gems of 
poetry are neither true nor, beyond the fad: of 
rhyme, poetic. Something as a wave of sugges 
tion passed over Europe and sent thousands of 
little ones down to their deaths in the Chil 
dren s Crusades, thousands of youngsters in our 
schools to-day are hypnotized into a lasting be 
lief in the poetic value of numberless couplets of 
second-rate verse, and never come to know real 
poetry at all. Having been forced to swallow 
rhymed platitudes in the belief that they are 
poetry, a permanent and perfectly natural re 
pulsion for the very name of poetry is too often 
the children s only acquisition. In fad:, it is a 
pretty question if the decline of poetic appre 
ciation cannot be dired:ly traced to the rise of 
the memory-gem book. 

How well I remember my own sense of 
weariness and repulsion when I was compelled 
at the tender age of ten to copy out the whole 
of The Psalm of Life, unconsciously committing 
it to memory as I did so. 



The Lies We Learn in Our Youth 83 

Life is real, life is earnest, 

And the grave is not its goal ; 

Dust thou art, to dust returnest, 
Was not spoken of the soul. 

My infant lips muttered the meaningless words 
while my poor little brain and imagination tried 
to find some joy, some pi6hire, some tangible 
delight, some inspiration in the mournful, op 
pressive poem. If I had then been assigned in 
telligible verses to copy, an Elizabethan lyric, a 
song that sang because it had to, a bit of imagery, 
my childish fancy would have been fired, and I 
should not have had to wait till I was eighteen 
years old before I read a single poem voluntarily. 
And I should not have detested The Psalm of 
Life all the rest of my days at least I don t 
think I should. Longfellow when I was a child 
was a particularly prolific mine of memory 
gems, running as high as three thousand quota 
tions to the ton. I never had a teacher who 
didn t know her Longfellow with an intimacy 
almost as great as her ignorance of Keats, Shelley, 
Herrick, Lovelace, Suckling, Herbert, Campion, 
Coleridge, Burns and the rest of the kings who 
lived before Agamemnon. Longfellow was a 
lovely soul, and, within his limits, a very true 
poet. But I was fed on his platitudes. I was 
daily informed that 

The heights by great men reached and kept 
Were not attained by sudden flight. 



84 The Lies We Learn in Our Touth 

Just as if I cared, at ten, whether they were or 
not. I was told in tripping measures of the vil 
lage chestnut tree, to the total exclusion of the 
linden and ilex; and as for the land where the 
citrons bloom, and golden oranges are in the 
gloom, and the long silences of laurel rise 
1 Kennst du das Land?" Not I! The spreading 
chestnut tree alone cast its oppressive shadow 
across my childish fancy. 

Another memory gem that I remember with 
a lasting grudge was 

Kind hearts are more than coronets, 
And simple faith than Norman blood. 

This I knew was false, and to be forced glibly 
to chatter -the words before the class shamed 
and angered me. Had not a maiden aunt of 
mine, after many trips to the library of the New 
England Genealogical Society, traced back our 
line to William the Conqueror? Was there 
another boy or girl in the school who had de 
scended from William the Conqueror? No, sir! 
Several of them had kind hearts, and doubtless 
simple faith whatever that was but side of 
my Norman blood this counted for nothing. It 
is a vastly superior thing to have Norman blood, 
and as for coronets well, it may be that the 
new age will wipe them literally out in a surge 
of Democracy some of us hope so but to the 
romantic heart of childhood they are a symbol 



The Lies We Learn in Our Youth 85 

not of caste and oppression but of dignity and 
beauty and the heroic. Certainly they are not to 
be eliminated by throwing at the child s head 
such adult platitudes in rhyme as these, and tell 
ing him it is poetry. Alas! he believes you, and that 
is why he hates the very word poetry all the rest 
of his days. 

My memory-gem book lies before me as I 
write, saved I know not how out of the wreck of 
boyhood. I have searched it in vain for a single 
quotation of lyric song, a single scrap of verse that 
paints the world in rosy colors and lets moral plat 
itudes go hang, a single strain of "Celtic magic/ 
Instead, I learn that as a boy I was taught that 

We are living, we are dwelling 
In a grand and awful time. 

I find that at eleven years of age 

I held it truth with him who sings 
To one clear harp of divers tones, 
That men may rise on stepping-stones 

Of their dead selves to higher things. 

Indeed, I must have been a very remarkable 
child, how remarkable I had not hitherto sus 
pected! Evidently, too, I displayed an early 
tendency to melancholia, for I find I was ad 
monished in the following words, with their 
incontestable statement of fad:: 

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining, 
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining. 



86 The Lies We Learn in Our Touth 

Whether my sadness was caused by too much 
reflection on the facl: that life is real, life is 
earnest, and the grave is not its goal, or on the 
fact that Bill Carter s air-gun cost more than 
mine, I cannot now recall. Either cause would 
have been sufficient. At any rate I apparently 
braced up and smiled once more, for the next 
page is blank. That means I went fishing! 

Poor kiddies! Shall we grown-ups never learn 
that their minds don t work as ours do, and what 
may be poetry for some of us is cod-liver oil for 
them? Why must we be forever nagging them at 
home with "Don t do this" and "Don t do that/ 
and forever preaching at them in school with pon 
derous prose platitudes cut up into lengths? How 
much wiser than we they are, who know that life 
is free and pleasant and full of melody and beautiful 
things, and dreams more real than reality, and real 
ity born of the dream ! Yet we try our best to con 
vince them that they are wrong. We see to it that 
Longfellow lies about them in their infancy. 

But perhaps all this is changed since my day, 
and the nightmare this battered memory-gem 
book recalls to my mind is no longer a load on 
the children of the present. I profoundly hope 
so. Can it be that the present revival of poetry 
is due to the passing of the memory-gem book? 
At least, no teacher would have the courage to 
set her class the task of copying Amy Lowell 
or The Spoon River ^Anthology \ 




The 2W ^Manners ofTolite ^People 

ALL my life I have suffered from politeness 
not my own, but the politeness of other people. 
So far as I know, nobody has ever accused me 
of being polite. I suspect that I must be, how 
ever, for hitherto I have borne the politeness of 
other people without a protest. But I must 
protest now, if only to vindicate my lack of 
politeness; in other words, to prove my good 
manners. 

For what I object to in polite people is their 
bad manners. It is this I have suffered from, 
as, I suspect, have many thousands of my fel 
lows, to whom life is real and earnest, and gab 
ble not its goal. As a rule, the politer the person 
the worse are his (or more often, perhaps, her) 
manners. The limit is reached when the ama 
teur is sunk entirely in the professional, and that 
curious product of "Society is developed, the 
professional hostess. I cannot better illustrate 
my theme than with a description of the profes 
sional hostess. 

I call her professional because all the joy of 
entertaining for its own sake has gone out of 



88 The BadtManners of ^Polite People 

her work. She does not invite people to her 
parties because she is glad to see them, because 
she is interested in them, or wishes to give them 
pleasure. She invites them because to entertain 
them is a part of her day s work whether her 
work be to get into a certain social stronghold, 
to keep that stronghold against assault, or merely 
to kill time, her arch-enemy. And, in perform 
ing this task of hers, she has developed a tech 
nique of politeness which is to the amateur s 
technique what the professional golf-player s 
style is to the form of the mere bumblepuppy. 
Her politeness is astonishingly brilliant, flexible, 
resourceful. It is aspired to by the lowly and 
aped on the stage. And yet her manners are the 
worst in the world. 

Let us suppose her about to give a dinner. 
She is trimmed down to the fashionable slender- 
ness (perhaps), and brilliant with jewels. Can- 
nel coal snaps pleasantly in the drawing-room 
grate, and the lights are gratefully shaded. A 
guest or two arrive, whom she greets with af 
fable handshake. The man moves over to the 
fire, warming his back; his wife talks to the 
hostess rapidly, in the way women have when 
they seem to think it better to say anything than 
not to speak at all. But the hostess is quite at 
her ease. Her politeness is triumphant. Pres 
ently she turns to the man, who is, perhaps, an 
author. 



The *BadtManners ofTollte People 89 

"Your new book/ she begins, as if she had 
been waiting all day to ask that question, " what 
is it going to be about? I m tremendiously eager 
to know." 

Already the genial fire has warmed the noted 
author after his chilling ride in a street car to 
this mansion of luxury. The kindly question 
positively expands him. He launches eagerly 
into his answer. 

"You see," he begins, "the great modern 
question is 

But suddenly he is aware that he has no listener. 
His hostess has gone toward the door with out 
stretched hand, and his own wife is gazing at the 
gowns of the women entering. The author turns 
and prods the grate with his toe. Perhaps, if he is 
new at being "entertained," he fancies that his 
hostess will presently return to hear his answer. 
He holds it in readiness. Poor man! 

The newcomers are brought into the circle. 
When introductions are necessary, they are made 
with studied informality. And then the author 
hears the hostess say to a big, energetic woman, 
who is among the arrivals, "Oh, dear Miss 
Jones, I have heard so much about your per 
fectly splendid work down there among the 
horrid poor! I did so want to hear you talk 
about it at the Colonial Club, this afternoon, 
but I simply couldrit get there. Won t you tell 
me just a bit of what you said?" 



90 The ^ad ^Manners ofTolite "People 

The tone of entreaty betrays the utmost in 
terest. The big, energetic woman smiles, and 
begins, "Well," she says, "I was just trying to 
get the members interested in our new health- 
tenement for consumptives. You see, we need " 

Then she, too, becomes aware that her audi 
ence has departed toward the door. She turns 
about to see if anybody else was listening, but 
nobody was. The other women are engaged in 
inspecting the newcomers. The men are look 
ing uncomfortable, or chatting with one another. 
Only the author s sympathetic gaze meets hers. 

The guests have all gathered by now, but 
dinner is not yet announced. The hostess moves 
easily among them, stopping by each with a 
winning smile, to ask some carefully chosen 
personal question. Each as politely replies, only 
to find himself talking to the empty air. 

There is soon a confused babble of voices, a 
whir of windy words and no one hears. 

The author watches her, still curious to know 
whether she will remember that she has not yet 
heard his answer. But she has quite forgotten. 
She moves, the incarnate spirit of politeness, 
about the room, rousing trains of eager ideas in 
her guests, and as speedily leaving them to run 
down a side-track into a bumper. 

She has no real interest in any of them, 
probably she has no real understanding of them. 
She thinks her manners are above reproach, that 



The Bad ^Canners of Oolite Teople 91 

she is treating her guests in the most exemplary 
fashion. In reality, nothing could be worse than 
her manners, and she is treating her guests most 
shabbily. By being polite, she ends by being rude. 
For nothing is so rude in this world as to ask a 
man a question about some subject close to his 
heart when you have no intention of listening to 
his answer, nor any interest in it. The hostess 
thinks to feed his vanity; she ends by wounding 
it. She thinks to make her guests comfortable; 
she ends by making them uncomfortable. 

The best manners I have ever seen were pos 
sessed by the most impolite man I have ever 
known. As a result, nobody that he ever in 
vited to his house felt uncomfortable there. He 
was interested in all kinds and conditions oj 
people, all kinds and conditions of activities. 
If he asked you a question, it was because he 
wanted to hear your answer. He paid you the 
compliment of assuming that it was worth 
listening to, and other people waited till you 
were through. At his table you weren t supposed 
to. confine your talk to the sweet young thing 
on your left, who was more interested in the 
gay young blade on her left, nor to the sedate, 
elderly female person on your right, who was 
more interested in the bishop on her right. Talk 
was largely for the whole table; and if you 
hadn t some definite contribution to make, you 
were usually glad to keep still. 



92 "The *Bad ^Manners ofTolite ^People 

I say nobody ever felt uncomfortable in his 
house. That is not quite true. Occasionally the 
person who expressed an opinion on a subject he 
knew nothing about must have felt uncomfort 
able. For, though he was listened to gravely 
while speaking, conversation was at once re 
sumed as if nothing whatever had been said. 

Nothing could have been more conventionally 
impolite. And yet the act was so utterly free 
from sham that it seemed the only decorous and 
decent thing to do. Thus was the dignity of 
conversation maintained; thus was each man and 
woman made to feel his or her worth along 
personal lines of endeavor; thus was a true 
democratic spirit preserved, which is the real 
essence of good manners. True democracy con 
sists in bringing each man out, not in reducing 
him to a common level of inanity. Good man 
ners consist in showing him respect for what is 
worthy of respecl in him, treating him as a 
rational human being, not as a mere social unit 
who deposits his hard-won opinions, along with 
his hat and stick, in the care of the butler when 
he enters the house. 

That is why men have, as a rule, better man 
ners than women, though they are far less po 
lite. A man respects the judgment of a special 
ist on any given subjecl:, and he is rather intoler 
ant of the snap judgments of the dabbler or the 
dilettante. He listens, if forced to, with uncon- 



The *Bad \Manners ofPolite "People 93 

cealed impatience to the babbling of his pretty 
neighbor at table about art, perhaps, or engi 
neering, or some other topic concerning which 
her ignorance is as profound as her cocksureness 
is lofty. But, after all, to be polite to her is to 
insult a whole race of engineers or artists! Put 
one of them beside him, and see how readily he 
will listen. 

Politeness too often consists of shamming. Good 
manners are the absence of sham. It is not the gen 
tleman s place, certainly, to insult the lady. Good 
manners seldom go quite so far as that. But even 
politeness cannot expert him to endure the torture 
for more than a limited time, especially if the topic 
chosen chances to be his own specialty. It is his 
place to lead the conversation, as gently as possible, 
back upon more neutral ground, where he may 
find what consolation he can in sprightly person 
alities while praying for the coffee. 

I enjoy the privilege of acquaintance with a 
very charming person, who has never paid a 
compliment to her sex except by being a wo 
man. Some of her sex say that she is a delight 
ful hostess and very beautiful. Others say that 
she is atrociously rude, and they "can t see what 
it is people admire in her." Most men adore 
her. She herself says that the only people she 
cares to entertain are those who have earned 
their own living. Her reasons are, I believe, in 
teresting and significant. 



94 The ^ad Manners ofPolite ^People 

She earns her own living, I may state, and a 
very considerable one, for she is famous ana 
highly successful in her branch of artistic en 
deavor. Socially, one may say of her, in that 
atrocious phrase which implies a queer jumble 
of values, that she is "very much in demand/ 
But, though a man in livery opens her front door, 
the street-cars bring quite as many guests to her 
house as do expensively purring motor-cars. 

"For," as she puts it, "I can stand the talk of 
the average woman in Society just about fifteen 
minutes, and then I have to scream. I don t 
know how the fidion arose that American women 
of the leisure classes are so superior mentally to 
the women of other nations. The fad: is, they 
are not. The fad; is, that they are so superficial 
that a person who has really done something 
I don t mean who has played at it, but who has 
really under the spur of necessity got to the bot 
tom of some one subjed can hardly endure 
their conversation. They chatter, chatter, chat 
ter, about everything under heaven, and if you 
happen to know anything about any of the sub 
jects, it is simply torture to listen. 

"Life is too short, and too interesting, and 
the world too full of real people, to bother with 
the folks who don t know their business. The 
man or woman who has had to be self-support 
ing has got to the bottom of some branch of ac 
tivity, however small, and learned humility. To 



The 2W ^Manners ofTolite "People 95 

learn that mastery of even a tiny subject requires 
effort and concentration and skill, is to learn re- 
sped: for other subjects; and it is to learn, too, 
how to listen. 

"Nobody can listen who isn t truly interested, 
and who hasn t the grasp of mind to appreciate 
the complexities of a craft not his own, who 
doesn t know enough to know when he doesn t 
know anything. If I m going to talk my shop, 
I want to talk it with folks who ve been in it. 
If I m going to hear some other shop discussed, 
it must be by someone who is familiar with 
that, not by direftoired dabblers who, you feel 
after three minutes have elapsed, don t know a 
thing about the subject. If politeness consists in 
letting them suppose that I take any stock in 
what they say, then I plead guilty to being a 
boor." 

Probably no one who has experienced the 
awful ordeal of listening to some female chatter 
about his chosen subject, or who has undergone 
the even worse ordeal of dropping great thoughts 
of his own into the deep, deep pools of her in 
comprehension, will fail of sympathy with my 
friend. 

"But I tire you," said an incessant gabbler 
one day to the great Due de Broglie. 

"No, no," replied the duke; "I wasn t lis 
tening." 




On (jiving up Qolf Forever 

LAST season I gave up golf forever two days 
before our course opened in May, on the even 
ings of June 1 7th and July 4th, at noon on 
July 27th, on the evenings of August 2nd, gth, 
1 5th, and 2ist, at 11:15 A - M - on Labor Day, 
again Labor Day evening, on September igth, 
23rd, 30th, and October 3rd, nth and i8th. 
I am writing this in mid-January, when the 
drifts are piled five feet deep over our bunkers, 
and the water-carries are frozen solid. I have 
played my last game of golf. The coming sea 
son I shall devote to the intensive cultivation of 
my garden. The links have no allure for me. 

"And if," says rny wife, "I could believe that, 
I should be happier than ever before in the long 
years of my golf widowhood." 

"But you can," I answer, with grieved sur 
prise. 

She looks at me, with that superior and 
tolerant smile women know so well how to 
assume. 

"You men are all such children!" is her, it 
seems to me, somewhat irrelevant retort. 



On (jiving up Golf Forever 97 

I fell to musing on my friend, the noted war 
correspondent (now a Major in the United States 
Army in France). All things considered, he 
was the most consistent, or perhaps I should 
say persistent, quitter the game of golf has ever 
known. He used to quit forever on an average 
of three times a week, and I have known him to 
abandon the game twice during a round, which 
is something of a record. He played every sum 
mer on our beautiful Berkshire course, which 
crosses and recrosses the winding Housa tonic, 
not to mention sundry swamps, and boasts the 
most luxuriant fairway, and by the same token 
the rankest rough, in all America. It is the 
course Owen Johnson once immortalized in his 
story, Even Threes. 

How well I remember that peaceful, happy 
May, back in 1914! Our course had emerged 
from its annual spring flood, newly top-dressed 
with rich river silt, and a few warm days brought 
the turf through the scars and made the whole 
glorious expanse of fairway, winding through 
the silver willows, a velvet carpet. I had given 
my orders to the greens-keepers, and gone to 
New York for a day or two reludlantly, of 
course and there met the famous war cor 
respondent, in those peaceful times out of a 
regular job and turned novelist pro tern. He had 
just relieved himself of his final chapter, and 
readily yielded to my persuasions to return with 

8 



98 On Cfiving up Golf Forever 

me to the velvet field and the whistling drive. 
We "entrained," as he would say in one of his 
military dispatches. 

As far as the Massachusetts- Connecticut state- 
line he talked of Mexican revolutions, Theodore 
Roosevelt, Japanese art, <uers libre, mushrooms, 
and such other topics as were of interest in the 
spring of 1914. But at the state-line, chancing 
a look out of the window, he saw the doming 
billow of blue mountains which marks the en 
trance to our Berkshire intervales, and a strange 
gleam came into his eyes. His square jaws set. 
His whole countenance was transformed. Turn 
ing back to me, he half hissed, grimly, 

"I am not going to press this season!" 

I knew he was fairly on his way to giving 
up golf forever. 

Of course, when a man hasn t played all 
winter, but has been engaged in the mild and 
harmless exercise of writing a novel, his hands 
become soft. Then, when he suddenly begins 
to play thirty-six holes a day, and takes a lock- 
grip on his clubs as tightly as if he supposed 
somebody was trying to snatch them away from 
him, he is apt to develop certain blisters. To a 
war correspondent and traveler over the Dawson 
Trail, such blisters are nothing. To a golf player 
they are of profound importance. The next day, 
in our foursome, they affected the war corre 
spondent s game. He became softly querulons. 



On (jiving up Golf Forever 99 

"I wish you wouldn t talk when I am about 
to drive," he complained to a caddie. 

"This mashie is too heavy for me/ he mut 
tered to himself. 

"Every time I make a stroke, that crack on 
the third finger of my left hand, above the top 
joint, opens and pains me," he declared to any 
body who would listen. 

His drive from the eighteenth tee went ker 
plunk into the mud, and buried itself like a 
startled woodchuck. He said nothing, but took 
a left-handed club from his bag for he began 
the game left-handed, and had switched over the 
year before, upon hearing our professional say that 
no left-handed player could ever become a great 
golfer. With this fresh implement, he began to 
dig. He finished the hole left-handed, with three 
perfect shots ! We tried to cheer him up, but he 
was not to be cheered. 

"What s the use!" he wailed. "Here I ve 
spent a year and a fortune unlearning how to 
play left-handed. I m never going to play the 
confounded game again!" 

And, by way of token, he began to talk about 
Theodore Roosevelt. 

That was his first renunciation for 1914. The 
next few days the game went well, and so did 
work on a new novel he had commenced, fired 
by his success in getting off seventeen perfecl tee- 
shots. But he reached his fourth chapter and an 



ioo On (jiving up Golf Forever 

off afternoon on the same fair Saturday. What 
a lovely day it was! you know, one of those 
early June days that invariably causes some woman 
to quote Lowell. But the famous war correspon 
dent saw no charm in the leafy luxury around him, 
in the blue sky, the lush grass. He heard no 
pipe of birds nor whisper of the breeze. His 
driver wasn t working right. Then his over 
worked mashie went back on him. By the 
fourth green he was taking three putts, and by 
the eighth he was picking up. His face was a 
thundercloud; his vocabulary disclosed a rich 
ness gleaned from camp and field which was a 
revelation even to our caddies; and that is no 
insignificant accomplishment. 

Our tenth hole in those days was close to the 
club-house, and the tee was but 195 yards away 
a good iron to the green. By the time we reached 
this tee, the war correspondent had very nearly 
exhausted even the stock of expletives he had 
acquired on the Dawson Trail, and had declared 
seven times that he was through, yes, forever! 

"Oh, come on and play just this hole keep 
going to the-club house anyway," we pleaded. 

"Well," he said, "I ll take one more shot- 
it s my last positively. I m going back to New 
York to-morrow." 

He tossed a scarred, cut, battered ball on the 
turf, scorning to make a tee. Yanking a cleek 
from his bag, he stepped up with the speed of 



On (giving up Golf Forever I.GI 

Duncan and swung. To our amazement, the 
ball flew like a bullet to the mark and disappeared 
over the lip of the green, headed straight for the 
pin. But he never saw it. He wasn t watching. 

"Good shot ! " we cried, with real enthusiasm. 

"I wasn t looking, where d it go?" he asked, 
with an attempt at scorn, which, however, was 
manifestly weakening. 

"Got a putt fer a two," said his caddie. 

The noted man cast a withering look at this 
object of his previous invective. He still sus 
pected something. We backed the caddie up, 
and he strode down the fairway with a certain 
reviving spring in his step. 

There on the green, not six inches from the 
cup, reposed his battered ball ! 

"Been anybody else it would have gone in!" 
he muttered, as he sank it for a two. 

That was his proud surrender. He said no 
more. He strode ahead to the next tee, and tore 
out a long, straight drive. Then he lit a ciga 
rette and remarked that he had never seen the 
willows more beautiful, more silvery in the 
afternoon light. 

Ah, well, poor chap, he did give up golf on 
the first of August, if not forever at least for the 
longest period of abstinence in his career on the 
links. On our last afternoon over the velvet to 
gether, before he left for the steamer that was 
to take him into the maelstrom, he paid little 



On (jiving up Golf Forever 

attention to his game, and a surprised and, I 
fancied, even a slightly disappointed caddie fol 
lowed him. (He was always most generous to 
his caddie when he had most abused him, like 
the hero of Goldoni s comedy.) 

"I sha n t see nice, sweet, unscarred green sod 
again for a long time," he said, digging up a 
huge divot with unconscious irony. "I m going 
to my last war, though/ 

"Gracious," said I, "are you going to give up 
War forever, too?" 

"The world is going to give it up forever, 
after this one," he replied. 

I have seen him twice since, once when he 
was still a correspondent, once more recently 
when he came back in the uniform of Uncle 
Sam. And each time his greeting has been the 
same: 

"Have you got rid of that hook yet?" 

Then he smiled a wistful, tragic smile, and 
asked where all the new traps and bunkers are, 
how we contrived to lengthen the course, whether 
the new sixth green is in play yet, all the pathet 
ically unimportant little gossip of our eighty acres 
of green meadow. 

"Ah," he said the last time we parted, "some 
day I m coming back and make that 79 at last! 
Anybody can go over the top, but to break 80 
at Stockbridge !" 

Then he left for the trenches of France. 



On (giving up Golf Forever 103 

I have another good friend who, unlike the 
Major, has never given up golf forever. This, as 
he himself admits (or I should not dare offer the 
explanation), is because he has never yet really 
played it. He, too, is ratner well known at his 
avocation of play-writing; but golf is his real 
business in life when the season once gets under 
way. He has enabled several professionals to buy 
motor-cars, he has sent numerous fore-caddies 
through the high school, he has practised by the 
hour with individual clubs, but still, after almost 
a quarter of a century, he has never broken 90 
on a first-class course. From my superior posi 
tion (I have on three never-to-be-forgotten oc 
casions broken 80, one of them at Manchester!), 
I sometimes wonder what keeps him at the game. 
Then I play with him, and realize. He has the 
divine, inexplicable faculty, once or twice in a 
round, of tearing off an astounding drive of 300 
yards, by some subtle miracle of timing, which 
after hours of rolling finally comes to rest far 
out beyond any other ball in the foursome, or 
even the professional s drive. What does it mat 
ter if he scruffs his approach? What does it mat 
ter if he takes three putts? He has the memory 
of that drive, the unexpected, thrilling feel of it 
in arms and body, the tingling vision of the day 
when he will find out how he did it, and be 
able to repeat at will! That keeps him going 
that, and a trophy he once achieved by winning 



104 On (jiving up Golf Forever 

the beaten eight division of the sixth sixteen. It 
was a little pocket match-safe, but it is more 
precious in his eyes than pearls, aye, than much 
fine gold or his reputation as perhaps the deft 
est writer of dialogue on the American stage. 
It represents definite achievement in the game 
of Golf. 

You may suppose, dear Reader, if by some mir 
acle you are not a golfer, that I have been press 
ing the essayist s privilege and indulging in an 
attempt at whimsicality. Nothing, I assure you, 
could be farther from the fact. I am, in this 
chapter, a realist. All I have here set down is a 
record of actuality. Nay, I have erred on the 
other side. I have said nothing whatever about 
my own reasons for giving up golf forever. Nor 
have I told the story of the elderly gentlemen at 
a course near Boston, whom I once observed in an 
exhibition of renunciation that perhaps deserved 
recording. 

This course was of nine holes (it is now the 
site of several apartment houses), and the last 
hole called for a carry over a little pond, to a 
green immediately in front of the club-house. 
The somewhat elderly and irascible gentleman 
in question, playing in a foursome, had reached 
this ninth tee on the shore of the pond, and even 
from the club veranda it was evident that his 
temper was not of the best. Things had not 
been going right for him. His three companions 



On (jiving up Golf Forever 105 

carried the pond. Then he teed up, and drove 
spash! into the water. A remark was wafted 
through the still air. He teed again another 
splash. Then followed an exhibition which I 
fear my wife would describe as childish. First 
this elderly gentleman spoke, in a loud, vexed 
voice. Then he hurled his driver into the pond. 
Then he snatched his bag of clubs from the cad 
die s shoulder, seized a stone from the pond side, 
stuffed it into the bag, grasped the strap as a ham 
mer-thrower the handle of his weight, swung the 
bag three times around his head, and let it fly 
far out over the water. It hit with a great splash, 
and sank from sight. His three companions, re- 
spe&ing his mood, discreetly continued their game, 
while he came up to the club-house, sought a 
far corner of the veranda, and with a face closely 
resembling a Greek mask of Tragedy, sank down 
huddled into a chair. 

On the veranda, too, his grief was respe<5ted. 
No one spoke to him. In fa6t, I think no one 
dared. We were careful that even our mirth 
did not reach his ears. He was alone with his 
thoughts. The afternoon waned. His three com 
panions again reached the ninth tee, drove the 
pond, and came into the club-house to dress. 
The caddies were about to depart. Then a strange 
thing happened; at its first intimation we tip 
toed to a window to observe. He roused himself, 
leaned over the rail, and called a caddie. 



io6 On (jiving up Golf Forever 

"Boy," we heard him say, in a deep, tragic 
voice, "can you swim?" 

"Yes, sir," the caddie replied. 

"All right. About thirty feet out in front of 
the ninth tee there s a bag at the bottom of the 
pond. Go get it for me, and I ll give you five 
dollars." 

The caddie ran, peeling his garments as he 
went. Modestly retaining his tattered under 
clothes, he splashed in from the tee, while the 
somewhat elderly golf player gesticulated di 
rections on the bank. Presently the boy s toes 
detected something, and he did a pretty surface 
dive, emerging with the bag strap in his right 
hand. He also rescued the floating driver, and 
we saw the promised bill passed to him, and 
watched him drag on his clothes over his wet 
undergarments. Slowly, even tenderly, the some 
what elderly gentleman emptied the water and 
the stone from his bag, and wiped the clubs 
on his handkerchief. With the wet, dripping 
burden over his shoulder he came across the foot 
bridge and into the locker room, while we 
hastened to remove our faces from the door and 
windows, and attempted to appear casual. 

He entered in silence, and strode to his locker. 
The silence grew painful. Somebody simply had 
to speak, or laugh. Finally somebody did speak, 
which was probably the safer alternative. 

"Decided to try again, eh?" 



On (giving up Golf Forever 107 

The somewhat elderly gentleman wheeled 
upon the assemblage, his dripping bag still hang 
ing from his shoulder. 

"Yes, damn it!" he thundered. 

Well, I have never thrown my clubs into a 
pond, and I am sure you have never done any 
thing so childish, either. But how many times 
have you and I both given up golf forever, and 
then returned to links the following day "damn 
it"! We do not play for the exercise, we do not 
play because it "keeps us out in the open air." 
Neither motive would hold a man for a week 
to the tantelizing, costly, soul-racking, nerve- 
and temper-destroying game. We play it be 
cause there it some diabolical or celestial 
fascination about the thing; some will-o -the- 
wisp of hope lures us over swamp and swale, 
through pit and pasture, toward the smooth 
haven of the putting green; some subtle, mys 
terious power every now and then coordinates 
our muscles and lets us achieve perfection for a 
single stroke, whereafter we tingle with remem 
brance and thrill with anticipation. Golf is the 
quest of the unattainable, it is a manifestation 
of the Divine Unrest, it spreads before us the 
soft green pathway down which we follow the 
Gleam. That is why you and I shall be giving 
it up forever on our eightieth birthday. 




"Qrape-*Uine" Srudition 

You may recall that Mr. Ezra Barkley acquired 
a great reputation for learning by imparting to 
the spinsters of Old Chester such astonishing fafts 
as the approximate number of roe contained in 
a shad. His sister-in-law, in her ignorance, sup 
posed there were only two hundred! Ezra also 
knew who first kept bees, and many other im 
portant things, usually of a statistical nature. I 
cannot recall that Mrs. Deland has told us where 
Ezra acquired his erudition, and I used at one 
time to wonder. But now I know. He read 
the "grape-vine" in the first editions of our daily 
papers. 

Perhaps you don t know what "grape-vine" is? 
I rejoice in my ability to tell you. It is the name 
given by newspaper men to the jokes and squibs 
and bits of information clipped by the busy ex 
change reader, and put into type, making short 
paragraphs of varying lengths, which are dropped 
in at the bottom of a column to fill up the vacant 
space when the need arises. This need most 
often arises in preparing the first edition, the one 
which catches the early trains for the country. 



Erudition 109 

By the time the city edition goes to press suffi 
cient news of battles, carnage, and sudden death, 
of politics and stock exchanges, has been prepared 
to fill every inch of available space. The city 
reader, therefore, sees little of this "grape-vine." 
Thus we have a new argument for country life. 

I am now a resident of the country, one hun 
dred and fifty miles removed from New York 
and as far from Boston; and I am by way of be 
coming nearly as erudite as Ezra Barkley. I am, 
indeed, almost bewildered with the mass of infor 
mation I am acquiring. This morning I read a 
column about the European war, all of which I 
have now forgotten. But how can I ever forget 
the two lines of "grape-vine" at the very bottom 
which filled out an otherwise vacant quarter inch? 
I am permanently a wiser man. 

"Many Filipino women catch and sell fish 
for a living." 

Amid a world at war, too, how peaceful and 
soothing is this tabloid idyl of piscatorial toil ! 

After the acquisition of this morsel of learning 
I set diligently to work on the day s papers, both 
the morning editions and those "evening" edi 
tions which come to us here by a train leav 
ing the city early in the afternoon, to see how 
much erudition I could accumulate in one sun s 
span. I think you of the cities will be aston 
ished. I was myself. In a few weeks I shall read 
the encyclopaedia advertisements with scorn in- 



no " grapevine erudition 

stead of longing. For instance, I have learned 
that "A new tooth-brush is cylindrical and is 
revolved against the teeth by a plunger working 
through its spirally grooved handle/ Obviously, 
just the implement for boys interested in motor 
cars (as all boys are). They will play they are 
grinding valves and run joyously to brush their 
teeth. 

I have learned that "In the last five years our 
national and state lawmaking bodies have passed 
62,550 laws." The surprising thing about this 
information is that the number is so small ! 

I have learned that "Russia has ten thousand 
lepers, taken care of by twenty-one institutions." 

I have acquired these valuable bits of ornitho 
logical lore: "The frigate-bird is capable of get 
ting up a speed of ninety-six miles an hour with 
hardly a movement of its wings. The greater 
part of its life is spent in the air." "The swallow 
has a larger mouth in proportion to its size than 
any other bird." 

I have, from the bottom of a single column, 
gleaned these three items of incalculable value: 
By harnessing a fly to a tiny wagon an English sci 
entist found it could draw one hundred and seventy 
times its own weight over smooth surfaces." 

"Missouri last year produced 195,634 tons of 
lead, a fairly heavy output." 

"The United States has five hundred and sev 
enteen button-factories." 



"(^rape-Vine" Erudition 1 1 1 

The New York Times staggers me with this 
statistical line: "One Paris motion-picture plant 
produces an average of three million feet of 
films weekly." (This strikes me as a kind of 
"French frightfulness.") 

The New York Evening Post contributes to 
my welfare and domestic comfort this item: 
"Both an electric range and a refrigerator are 
included in a new kitchen cabinet, but are hid 
den from view by doors when not in use." 

I am certainly a wiser man for knowing that 
"The Mexican seacoast on the Pacific and the 
Gulf of California is 4,575 miles." And I am 
at least interested in the fad: that "An English 
man has invented a cover for hatchways on vessels 
that operates on the principle of a roll-top desk." 
If this hatchway operates on the principle of the 
only roll-top desk I ever possessed, God help the 
poor sailors when the storm breaks! 

Such items as these disclose to me the extent 
of my previous ignorance: 

"Bolivia is producing about one-third of the 
world s output of tin." 

* * Records disclose that for several centuries an 
infusion of nutgalls treated with sulphate of iron 
composed the only known ink." 

"The first job held by William G. McAdoo, 
Secretary of the Treasury, was that of a news 
boy selling the Macon Morning Telegraph. His 
next job was that of a farm laborer." 



1 1 2 "^rape-Vine" erudition 

"There are 2,500,000 freight-cars in the 
country, and their average life is somewhere 
about twenty years." 

"Since gold was discovered in the Auckland 
province, in 1852, there has been exported from 
that district gold to the value of $i 16, 796,000." 

I should, to be sure, be more completely ed 
ucated if I could find somewhere, under the 
sporting news, or at the base of the obituaries, a 
statement of where Auckland is. But perhaps 
that information will come to-morrow. 

Well, I have presented here only a tithe of 
the knowledge I have to-day gleaned from the 
daily press, that hitherto (by me, at least) under 
estimated institution. I haven t stated that I now 
know who first used anthracite coal as a fuel, and 
when. You don t know that, I am sure. Neither 
do you know how many acres of corn were 
planted in England and Wales in 1915 and 1916, 
nor how many government employees there were 
in France before the war, nor that "A bundle of 
fine glass threads forms a new ink-eraser." 

However, I must share with you my choicest 
acquisition. It seems little less than a crime to 
keep such knowledge from the world at large, 
to bury it at the bottom of a column on the 
ninth page of the first edition of the Springfield 
Republican. So I rewrite it here. For oral de 
livery, I shall save it till some caller comes 
whom I particularly desire to impress. Then, 



"^rape-Vine" Erudition 1 1 3 

with all the Old -World courtesy of Mr. Ezra 
Barkley, I shall offer this guest a chair, and as I 
do so I shall remark, with the careless casualness 
of the truly erudite: "Guatemala has only one 
furniture factory. It employs a hundred and 
fifty men." 





Business before Qrammar 

HAVE just been perusing a copy of a certain 
magazine which proclaims on its cover that it 
has doubled its circulation in twenty months. 
Within, the editor sets forth what he believes 
to be the reasons for this gratifying growth. 
"The magazine accepts man as he is and 
helps him/ says the editor. "The magazine 
is edited to answer the questions that keep ris 
ing and rising in the average man s head. It 
is not edited with the idea of trying to force 
into the average man s head a lot of informa 
tion which he does not hanker for and cannot 
make use of." 

Having always considered ourself an average 
man, we turned the pages hopefully, only to 
find a considerable amount of information we 
had never "hankered" for, and could not make 
use of, as, for instance, how to become the big 
gest "buyer" in the universe, or how a certain 
theatrical manager wants you to think he thinks 
he got on in the world (there is, to be sure, a 
quite unintentional psychological interest here), 
or how to remember the names of a hundred 



^Business Before Grammar 1 1 c 

y \J J 

thousand people dreadful thought! So we de 
cided we were not, after all, an average man, 
and shifted to the fiction. 

There were four short stories and a serial in 
this issue, and not one of them concerned itself 
with people who could speak correct English. 
Some of the stories confined their assaults upon 
our mother tongue to the dialogue, one was told 
by a dog (which, of course, excuses much, in 
prose as well as verse), and one was entirely 
written in what we presume to be a sort of 
literary Bowery dialed!:, which we have since 
been informed by friends more extensively read 
than ourself is now the necessary dialed: of 
American magazine humor, as essential, almost, 
as the bathing-girl on the August cover. 

" I think we got about everything. I ll see that the 
things is packed in them wardrobe trunks an sent to 
your hotel to-morrow morning. An believe me, it s 
been some afternoon, Mr. Bentley! " 

This, at random, from one of the two stories 
which dealt with the "business woman/ whose 
motto seems to be, "Business Before Grammar," 
even as it is the motto of the editor. The other 
"business woman" was not quite so lax. She 
tried as hard to speak correctly as the author 
could let her, and won a certain amount of 
sympathy for her efforts. 



1 1 6 business Before Grammar 

But the gem, of course, was the story told all 
in the literary Boweryese. A lack of acquaint 
ance with past performances by our author pre 
vented us from feeling quite sure who the sup 
posed narrator might be, without reading the 
entire story, but we gathered from early para 
graphs and from the illustrations that the guy 
was a pug. (You see, it s contagious.) At any 
rate, this is how the story began: 

"The average guy s opinion of himself reaches its 
highest level about five minutes after the most wonder 
ful girl in the world gasps Yes! He always thought 
he was a little better than the other voters, but now he 
knows it! Of course, he figures, the girl couldn t very 
well help fallin for a handsome brute like him, who d 
have more money than Rockefeller if he only knew 
somethin about oil. He kids himself along like that, 
thinkin that it was his curly hair or his clever chatter 
that turned the trick. Them guys gimme a laugh ! 

"When Mamie Mahoney or Gladys Van de Vere 
decides to love, honor and annoy one of these birds, 
she s got some little thing in view besides light house- 
keepin . Some dames marry for spite, some because 
they prefer limousines to the subway, and others want 
to make Joe stop playin the races or the rye. But 
there s always somethin there just like they have to 
put alloy in gold to hold it together. Yes, gentle 
reader, there s a reason! 

"But if you re engaged, son, don t let this disturb 
you. I ve seen some dames that, believe me, I wouldn t 
care what they married me for, as long as they did !" 

Having proceeded thus far, we turned back to 
the table of contents for affirmation of what we 



Business ^Before Grammar 117 

vaguely remembered to have read there. Yes, 
we had read it! The tale was labeled by the 
editor, "A funny story." 

So this is fi&ion for "the average man," and 
on this spiritual fare his cravings for literature 
are fed! So this is the sort of thing which 
doubles the circulation of a popular magazine in 
twenty months! Such melancholy reflections 
crossed our mind, coupled with the thought that 
with no speech at all in the movies, and such 
speech as this in his magazines, the "average 
man" will either have to read his Bible every day 
or soon forget that there was once such a thing 
as the beautiful English language. And alas, the 
circulation of the Bible hasn t doubled in the 
past twenty months! "This magazine accepts 
man as he is and helps him" so reads the 
editor s self-puffery. What an indictment of man 
and what an idea of help ! We would hate to 
go to bed with his conscience, if editors have 
such old-fashioned impediments. 

But suddenly we caught a ray of light amid 
the encircling gloom. The editor hadn t stated 
what his circulation was twenty months ago! 
We recalled how Irvin Cobb once told us that 
the attendance at his musical comedy had doubled 
the previous evening the usher had brought 
his sister. Doubtless the new circulation isn t 
more than a million, and what is a mere mil 
lion nowadays? 




Wood ^Ashes and ^Pr ogress 

"ONCE man defended his home and hearth; 
now he defends his home and radiator." The 
words stared out of the bulk of print on the page 
with startling vividness, a gem of philosophy, a 
"criticism of life/ in the waste of jokes which 
the comic-paper editor had read and doubtless 
paid for, and which the public was doubtless 
expected to enjoy. The Man Above the Square 
laid aside the paper, leaned toward his fire, took 
up the poker (an old ebony cane adorned with a 
heavy silver knob which bore the name of anja&or 
once loved and admired) and rolled the top log 
over slowly and meditatively. The end of the 
cane was scarred and burned from many a contest 
with stubborn logs, and the Man Above the 
Square looked at the marks of service with a 
smile before he stood the heavy stick again in its 
place by the fireside. 

"It isn t every walking-stick which comes to 
such a good end/ he said aloud. 

Then either because he was cold or in peni 
tence for the pun, he walked over to the win 
dows to pull down the shades. But before he 



ypood tAshes and Progress 1 1 9 

did so he looked out into the night, his breath 
making a frosty vapor on the pane. Below him 
the Square gleamed in white patches under the 
arc-lamps, and across these white patches here 
and there a belated pedestrian, coat collar turned 
up, hurried, a black shadow. The cross on the 
Memorial Church gleamed like a cluster of stars, 
and deep in the cold sky the moon rode silently. 
A chill wind was complaining in the bare tree- 
tops beneath him and found its way to his face 
and body through the window chinks. He drew 
down the shades quickly and pulled the heavy 
draperies together with a rattle of rings on the 
rods. Then he turned and faced his room. 

A scarf of Oriental silk veiled the light of the 
single lamp, set low on his desk, and the fire 
had its own way with the illumination. It sent 
dancing shadows over the olive walls, it made 
points of light of the picture-frames and a glowing 
coal of the polished coffee-urn in the corner; 
it pointed pleasantly out the numberless books, 
but told nothing of their contents; it made dark 
the spaces where the alcoves were, but suffused 
the little radius of the hearth that was bounded 
by an easy chair and a pipe-stand with a glow and 
warmth and comfort which were irresistible. 
The Man Above the Square came quickly into 
this charmed radius and sank again into the 
chair. "And some people insist on steam heat!" 
he said. 



120 "foood tAshes and Progress 

Then he looked into the rosy pit of wallow 
ing, good-natured flames, and fancied he was 
meditating. But in reality he was going to sleep. 
When he woke up the fire was out and he was 
cramped and cold. He stumbled to a corner, 
turned on the steam in a radiator, that the room 
might be warm in the morning, and returned 
to his chamber. 

" After all, you have to build a fire; but the 
steam just comes," he growled, as he crawled 
sleepily into bed. 

Toward morning the steam did come, but 
some hours before he was ready to rise. It came 
at intervals, forcing the water up ahead and 
thumping it against the top of the radiator with 
the force of a trip-hammer and the noise of a 
cannon. The Man Above the Square woke up 
and cursed. The intervals between thumps he 
employed in wondering how soon the next re 
port would come, which effectively prevented 
his going to sleep again. Presently the thump 
ing ceased, and he dozed off, to awake later in 
ugly temper. He went out into the sitting room 
and found it cold as an ice-box. 

"Where in blazes is all that steam which 
woke me up at daylight?" he shouted down the 
speaking-tube to the janitor. The answer, as 
usual, admitted of no reply, even as it offered 
no satisfactory explanation. He dug into the 
wood-box and on the heap of feathery white 



foood tAshes and "Progress 121 

ashes which topped the pile in the fireplace like 
snow the fall of last night" he called it he 
laid a fire of pine and maple. In three minutes 
he was toasting his toes in front of the blaze, and 
good nature was spreading up his person like the 
tide up a bay. 

"Modern conveniences would be all right/ 
he chuckled, looking from the merry fire to the 
ugly radiator, "if they were ever convenient!" 

Then he swung Indian clubs for a quarter of 
an hour, jumped into a cold plunge, and went 
rosy to his breakfast and the day s work, with 
the cheeriness of the fire in his heart. 

But while he was gone there entered the 
chambermaid, and sad desecration was wrought. 
Chambermaids are another modern inconve 
nience. The Pilgrim Fathers got along without 
chambermaids; and even at a much later period 
chambermaids worked at least under the super 
vision of a mistress of the household. But now 
adays they have their own way, even in abodes 
where there is one who could be a mistress if 
she would, or time from social duties and the 
improvement of her mind permitted. Of course, 
in the abode of a bachelor the chambermaid is 
supreme, for bachelors, at least in New York, 
have of necessity to live in apartments, not pri 
vate boarding houses presided over by a careful 
mistress. Probably most of them prefer to; but 
that does not prove progress, none the less. But 



122 foood *Ashes and Progress 

the Man Above the Square was not of this class. 
He had a sharp elbow bone, in the first place, 
which is to signify that he was a "good house 
keeper," as they say in New England. And in 
the second place, he knew the value to the 
aesthetic and moral sense of personality in living 
rooms, of an orderly, tasteful arrangement of 
inanimate objects, carpets, pictures, furniture, 
which, through weeks of comparative change- 
lessness, takes on the human aspect of a friend 
and silently welcomes you when you return at 
night, saying comfortably, "I am here, as you 
left me; I am home/ 

So when he entered his room again that even 
ing and turned up the gas, his immediate utter 
ance was not strictly the subject for reproduction. 
To begin with, the chambermaid had, in diso 
bedience to his strict orders, taken up the centre 
rug and sent it up on the roof for the porter to 
beat. Being an expensive rug, the Man Above 
the Square did not particularly relish having it 
frequently beaten. But still less did he relish the 
way it had been replaced. It was not in the cen 
tre of the room, so that two legs of the library 
desk in the middle stood on the border and two 
on the diamond centre. One end was too near 
the piano, the other consequently too far from 
the hearth. And in trying to tug it into position 
fhe maid had managed to pull every edge out 
of plumb with the lines of the floor. Of course, 



IPPood <tAshes and Progress 123 

the photographs on the piano had smooches on 
the margins, where the maid s thumb had pressed 
as she held them up to dust beneath. Pudd n- 
Head Wilson would alone have prized them in 
their present state. On the mantel each objedt 
was just far enough out of its proper place to 
throw the whole decorative scheme into a line 
of Puritanic primness. And the chairs, silent 
friends that are so companionable when an un 
derstanding hand places them in position, were 
now facing at stiff angles of armed neutrality, as 
if mutually suspicious. Not one of them said, 
"Sit in me." 

But the worst was yet to come. Walking over 
to the fireplace, the Man Above the Square looked 
in and groaned. 

"She s done it again!" he cried. "I d move 
out of this flat to-night if I wasn t sure that any 
other would be as bad, this side of the middle of 
last century." 

It was, indeed, a sorry piece of work. The 
splendid pile of gray and white wood ashes 
which that morning had been heaped high over 
the arms of the firedogs, and which drifted high 
into each corner and out upon the hearth, was 
no more. A little pile remained, carefully swept 
into the rear of the fireplace, but the bulk of the 
ashes had been removed and the arms of the 
firedogs stood inches above what was left. 



1 24 Wood <^4shes and ^Progress 

"I told her not to do it; confound it I I told 
her not to do it!" he muttered aloud, storming 
about the room. "Here I ve been since Christ 
mas collecting that pile of ashes, and it had just 
reached the point where I could kindle a tire 
with three sticks of kindling and burn only one 
log if I wished. And then that confounded cham 
bermaid disobeys me distinctly disobeys me 
and shovels it all out!" 

He rang angrily for the chambermaid, whose 
name was Eliza, and who was tall and angular. 

"Didn t I tell you under no consideration to 
take away any of my ashes?" he demanded. 

"But I swept the room into them, and they 
got all dirty," she protested. 

"Then don t sweep the room again! * he 
interposed. "I want the ashes left hereafter." 

"But the fire will burn better without so many 
ashes; they chokes it," said Eliza. "Most peo 
ple like em cleaned out every week." 

"Most people are fools," said the Man Above 
the Square. "You may go now." 

The loss of his ashes had so irritated him that 
it was a long time before he could yield himself 
to the influence of the blaze, which leapt merrily 
enough, in spite of the too clear hearth. He 
filled his pipe and smoked it out and filled it 
again; he tried the latest autobiography and 
Heine s prose and the current magazines; and 
still his mind would not settle to restfulness and 



IflPood zAshes and Progress 125 

content. Then suddenly he remembered the 
riate, the 2oth of January. He took down his 
Keats. The owl, for all his feathers, might well 
have been a-cold on that night, too, for a shrill 
wind was up without. He glanced at his fire. 
Already the kindlings were settling into glow 
ing heaps beneath the logs, a good start on a 
fresh pile of ashes. He snuggled more comfort 
ably into his chair and began once more the 
deathless poem. 

The clock ticked steadily; the wind sent 
crashing down the limb of an elm tree outside 
and shrieked exultingly; a log settled into the 
fire with a hiss and crackle of sparks. But he 
heard nothing. Presently he laid the book aside, 
for the poem was finished, and looked into the 
fire. It was sometimes a favorite question of his 
to inquire who ate Madeline s feast, a point 
which Keats leaves in doubt; but he did not ask 
it to-night. 

"Yes, it was ages long ago/ he said at length. 
"Ages long ago!" 

Then he leaned forward, poking the fire 
meditatively, and added: "Steam heat in Made 
line s chamber? Impossible! But there might 
have been just such another fire as this!" 

And was it a sudden thought, "like a full 
blown rose," making "purple riot" in his breast, 
too, or was it simply the leap of the firelight, 
which caused his face to flush? 



126 Wood zAshes and ^Progress 

"I wonder where they are now?" he whis 
pered. They are together in the arms of 
death/ a later poet says. But surely the world 
has not so far progressed that they do not live 
somewhere still." 

Then he recalled a visit he once made to a 
young doctor in a fine old New-England village. 
The doctor was not long out of college, and he 
had brought his bride to this little town, to an 
old house rich in tiny window panes, uneven 
floors and memories. Great fireplaces supplied 
the heat for the doctor and his wife, as it had 
done for the occupants who looked forth from 
the windows to see the soldiery go by on their 
way to join Washington at the siege of Boston. 
And when the Man Above the Square came on 
his visit he found in the fireplace which warmed 
the low-studded living room, that was library and 
drawing room as well, a heap of ashes more than 
a foot high, on which the great cordwood sticks 
roared merrily. 

The doctor and his wife, sitting down before 
the blaze, pointed proudly to this heap of ashes, 
and the do6tor said, "I brought Alice to this 
house a year ago, on the day of our wedding, 
and we kindled a fire here, on the bare hearth. 
Since then not a speck of ashes has been re 
moved, except little bits from the front when the 
carpet was invaded. That pile of ashes is the 
witness to our year-long honeymoon." 



^ood zAshes and Progress 127 

Then Alice smiled fondly into the rosy glow, 
herself more rosy, and they kissed each other 
quite unaffectedly. 

The Man Above the Square, when his memory 
reached this point, let the ebony poker slide from 
his grasp. "Ah!" he exclaimed, "her name was 
really Madeline!" 

Again he looked into the fire. "Could the 
ashes have been preserved if Madeline had not 
given the matter her personal attention, but had 
trusted to a housemaid?" he thought. What 
further reflections this question inspired must be 
left to conjecture. He did not speak again. 

But presently he got up, went to his desk, 
and wrote a letter. He was a long time about 
it, consulting frequently with the fire and smil 
ing now and then. When it was done he took 
it at once to the elevator to be mailed. Perhaps 
he thought it unsafe to wait the turning of the 




T*he Vacant Ttyom in 

I AM content to let Mr. John Corbin sing the 
praises of the stage without scenery; I prefer to 
sing the praises of the stage without actors. Ever 
since I was a little boy, nothing in the world 
has been for me so full of charm and suggestive- 
ness as an empty room. I remember as vividly 
as though it were week before last being brought 
home from a visit somewhere, when I was four 
years old, and arriving after dark. My mother 
had difficulty in finding the latch-key in her bag 
(I have since noted that this is a common trait 
of women), and while the search was going on 
I ran around the corner of the house and peered 
in one of the low windows of the library. The 
moonlight lay in two oblong patches on the 
floor; and as I pressed my nose against the pane 
and gazed, the familiar objects within gradually 
emerged from the gloom, as if a faint, invisible 
light were being turned slowly up by an invisi 
ble hand. Nothing seemed, however, as it did 
by day, but everything took on a new and mys 
terious significance that bewildered me. I think 
it must also have terrified me, for I recall my 



The Vacant T^oom in Drama 1 29 

father s carrying me suddenly into the glare of 
the hall, and saying, "What s the matter with 
the boy?" And to-day I cannot enter a theatre, 
even at the prosaic hour of ten in the morning, 
when the chairs are covered with cloths and 
maids are dusting, when the house looks very 
small and the unlit and unadorned stage very like 
a barn, without a thrill of imaginative pleasure. 
I have even mounted the stage of an empty 
theatre and addressed with impassioned, sound 
less words the deeply stirred, invisible, great audi 
ence, rising row on row to the roof. At such 
moments I have experienced the creative joy of 
a mighty orator or a sublime adior; I have actu 
ally felt my pulses leap. And then the entrance 
of a stage-hand or a scrub-woman would shatter 
the illusion! 

But it is when I am one of a real audience, 
and the stage is disclosed set with scenery but 
barren of players, that I derive, perhaps, the 
keenest pleasure. A few playwrights have rec 
ognized the power of the vacant room in 
drama, but on the whole the opportunities for 
such enjoyment are far too rare. This is odd, 
too, with such convincing examples at hand. 
There is, for instance, the close of the second 
act of T)ie <L%Ceister singer, when the watchman 
passes through the sleepy town after the street 
brawl is over, and then the empty, moon-bathed 
street lies quiet for a time, before the curtain 

10 



13 The Vacant c l^oom in Drama 

closes. Of course, here there is music to aid in 
creating the poetic charm and soothing repose 
of that moment. But at the end of Shore Acres 
there was no such aid. Who that saw it, how 
ever, can forget that final picture? After Nat 
Berry played by Mr. Herne, the author had 
scratched a bit of frost off the window-pane to 
peer out into the night, locked the door, and 
banked the fire, he climbed with slow, aged 
footsteps up the stairs to bed. At the landing 
he turned to survey the old kitchen below, that 
lay so cozy and warm under the benediction of 
his eye. Then he disappeared with his candle, 
and the stage grew quite dim, save for the red 
glow from the fire. Yet the curtain did not fall; 
and through a mist of tears, tears it cleansed 
one s soul to shed, the audience looked for a 
long, hushed moment on the scene, on the now 
familiar room where so much of joy and grief 
had happened, deserted, tranquil, but suddenly, 
in this new light of emptiness, realized to be 
how vital a part of the lives of those people who 
had made the play! It used to seem, indeed, 
as if the drama had not achieved full reality 
until the old kitchen had thus had its say, thus 
spoken the epilogue. 

It is strange to me that more playwrights 
have not profited by such examples. The cry 
of the average playgoer is for " action," to be 
sure; but even "action" may be heightened by 



The Vacant T{oom in Drama 131 

contrast, by peace and serenity. Certainly the 
vitality, the illusion, of a scenic background on 
the stage can be enhanced by drawing a certain 
amount of attention to it alone; and something 
as Mr. Hardy, in The Return of the Native, 
paints Egdon Heath "Haggard Egdon" in 
its shifting moods before he introduces a single 
human being upon the scene of their coming 
tragedy, it is quite possible for the modern play 
wright, with an artist to aid him, to show the 
audience the scene of his drama, to let its sug 
gestive beauty, its emotional possibilities, charm 
or fire their fancies before the speech and ac 
tion begin. So also, as Wagner and Mr. Herne 
have demonstrated, there can be a climax of the 
vacant stage. I look to the new stage-craft to 
develop such possibilities. 




On Qiving an ^Author a "Plot 

IHERE are two people who annoy an author 
more than any others the person who calmly 
supposes that everything he writes is biographi 
cal, or even autobiographical, and the person who 
declares, "I ve got a dandy plot for you" and 
proceeds to tell it. 

The first person, of course, is annoying, be 
cause an author s stories always are either bio 
graphical or autobiographical, and he never cares 
to admit, even to himself, how true this is. To 
be sure, his characters are composites, and his 
self-revelations are rather possibilities (or even, 
alas, Freudian wishes!) than records of actuality. 
But fancy trying to explain that to a gushing 
female who has developed a sudden passion for 
calling on your wife, and is heard to remark, 
"Oh, is that where he writes ?" as you flee by a 
back door, down the garden! 

The second person is annoying not so much 
because most of the "dandy plots" that he or she 
tells are hoary with age, or even because most 
writers don t start with a plot at all, and couldn t 
define a plot if they had to; but rather because a 



On (jiving an ^Author a Plot 133 

writer, however humble, has to feel the idea for 
a story come glowing up over the horizon of his 
brain out of the east of his own subconscious- 
ness, or it is never his, it never acquires the nec 
essary warmth to interest him, the color and 
light to make it real. This is a curious fad:, and 
one which your modest writer shrinks from try 
ing to explain to his well-meaning friend, lest 
he seem egotistical. Only the blessed publicity 
of print could draw him out. Yet the psychol 
ogy involved perhaps deserves some attention. 

Suppose it is my common method, in writing 
a story, to start from some social situation which 
illumines a strata of life; suppose, let us assume, 
that I am present at a dinner party where a rad 
ical has got in by mistake and says something 
which profoundly shocks some capitalistic pirate 
who honestly feels himself a pillar of law and 
order, and in this situation I see an irony which 
gradually demands fictional expression, as im 
agined characters and more extensive clashes be 
gin to shape in my brain. There you have a not 
at all impossible evolution of a story. But now 
suppose that instead of my being present at this 
party, a friend had been present, quite as alive as 
I to the ironies of the situation, and suppose my 
friend later repeated the incident to me why 
should it not serve me just as well, why should 
it not start the fictional urge, the gestation of 
character and incident? 



134 On (jiving an ^Author a T*!ot 

Generalizing is dangerous work. Of course, 
there may be authors in whom it would start 
the process. But I have never known one. Even 
in so exceptional a case as this of course, the 
usual friendly suggestion has no real meat of 
fiction in it at all something is lacking to fire 
the imagination. It is exactly as if your nose 
were called upon to sense, or your retina to im 
age, an odor or a scene described to you and not 
directly experienced. Your brain accepts the de 
scription, but there is no warmth in the reaction, 
no tingle of life. Just so, it would almost seem, 
the conception for a story, a poem, no doubt for 
a picture, too, or a strain of music, is something 
less, or more, than merely mental; it is in some 
subtle way sensory, as if the brain had fingers 
which must themselves touch the thing directly 
to get the feel of it. Is it not, perhaps, this fact 
which has caused so many artists, consciously or 
unconsciously, to believe in "inspiration"? 

The singing line walks from nowhere into 
the poet s head, the perfect situation comes to 
the writer of fiction when he is least expecting 
it. To take a humble example, I was once sit 
ting in an editor s office, listening while he ex 
pounded to me a grand "plot" for a series of 
stories. I looked across the street from his win 
dow to avoid his eyes, lest I should show my 
lack of appreciation, and there beheld a slight 
incident which I instantly knew was a starting- 



On (jiving an ^Author a "Plot 135 

point. It turned out to be worth a year s income 
to me. Yet, to a merely impersonal judgment, 
the editor s idea was more interesting and worth 
while than mine. Only it wasn t mine; that s 
the point. It was foreign born, and could never 
become a citizen of my mental commonwealth. 
I have not quite reached the pitch of calling my 
ideas inspirations, but I long ago recognized that 
unless they were my ideas from the dim days 
before their birth they could never be mine, and 
it was only a waste of time to wrestle with them. 
So when a friend declares he has a dandy plot 
for me, I summon what patience I may and pre 
tend to listen, while planning a better succession 
of perennials for next year s garden, or mentally 
reviewing the prospecl of cutting three strokes 
off my golf score. 




The Twilight Veil 

NEW YORK! How few of us call it home! We 
have been sucked into it, as into a whirlpool, 
and as we spin round and round on its mighty 
unrest our hearts and fancies find repose in 
memory the memory of an old New England 
village, or a corn field and a split-rail fence and 
then the level prairie, or cotton fields and the 
red handkerchiefs of the negroes, or the vineyard 
slopes of Sicily, or the great white surf beating up 
the cliffs of Connemara. It may be that the second 
and third generations of immigrants, born on the 
East Side, are true New Yorkers, just as a van 
ishing generation of elderly men and women on 
Murray Hill and the Avenue are true New York 
ers. But the great majority of New York s five 
millions cherish in their hearts either the memory 
or the hope of some spot far away to which they 
give the allegiance of home love. Ours is a curi 
ous city in that respe6t. Perhaps, indeed, it is a 
fortunate one. Without such memory or such 
hope, the flat-dwelling imposed on most New 
Yorkers by economic necessity would be a deadly 
thing or shall we say, a more deadly thing? 



The Twilight Veil 137 

If you desire a curious experience, go into a 
New York club like the Yale or Harvard or 
Players club, and colledt a dozen men at random, 
asking each for a little word-sketch of his child 
hood home. Seldom enough will the scene of 
that sketch be in New York City, and you will 
probably be surprised to find how infrequently 
it will be in any city. A kind of urban con 
sciousness gets complete possession of us after 
we have lived long on Manhattan Island, and 
we are prone to forget what a geographically 
tiny spot it is. We forget the country. It comes 
as a surprise when we discover how many of 
our fellows were, like us, country bred. We are 
still a nation, at bottom, of little white dwelling 
houses, if not any longer of little white school 
houses. (I know the phrase is little red school 
houses, only they never were red, but white!) 
This is probably one reason why our aesthetic 
sense is not adjusted to find more beauties than 
we do in the physical aspects of New York City. 
Deep in our consciousness, if not rather our sub- 
consciousness, lies the ache for green vistas and 
gardens, for low sky lines and quiet streets. 
When we speak of the pidiuresque in New 
York, we most often refer (aside from the ob 
viously striking aspe6t of the lower city from 
the harbor) to the old brick houses on Washing 
ton Square or the quaint streets of Greenwich 
Village. Yet we do both the city and ourselves 



138 The Tw ilig ht Ve il 

an injustice by this more or less unconscious 
attitude. Let us consider picturesque to mean 
what is shaped by chance and the play of light 
into a beautiful picture, and, if we but walk the 
town with eyes upraised and open, we shall see 
the picturesque on every side. 

There is the Plaza Hotel, for example. 
Every New Yorker and every visitor to New 
York knows it, a great, white, naked sky-scraper, 
with a green hip-roof, rising close to the Park 
and St. Gaudens golden bronze of General 
Sherman. But how many know that it is prob 
ably the one sky-scraper in the world which 
can gaze at its own reflection in still water, and 
that to the spectator looking at it over this water- 
mirror it becomes a gigantic but ethereal Jap 
anese design, even to the pine limb flung across 
the upper corner? 

They say there is an hour at twilight when 
all men appear noble, and all women beautiful. 
Certainly there is such a twilight hour when 
New York City is veiled, oftimes, in loveliness; 
and most lovely at this hour is the Plaza mirrored 
in the pool. The view is not easy to find, un 
less you are one of those who know your Cen 
tral Park. But a little searching will uncover 
it. You will see in the southeast corner of the 
Park a lake, and just beyond this lake you will 
find a path turning west. That path leads to a 
stone bridge over a northward-stretching inlet 



The Twilight Veil 139 

of the pond. Cross the bridge a few paces and 
turn your face to the south. At your feet the 
bank goes down sharply to the still, dark water. 
Across the pond the bank rises steep and rocky, 
covered with thick shrubbery and trees. Shoot 
ing up apparently out of these trees is the white 
wall of the Plaza, three hundred feet into the 
air, and down into the water sinks its still reflec 
tion, to an equal depth. It rises alone, open sky 
to left and right, and there is just room in the 
lake for its replica. The picture is impressive 
by day, but as twilight begins to steal over the 
scene, as the sky takes on a pearly softness, and 
the shadows creep through the trees in the Park, 
and the lights in half the windows up that white 
cliff" wall begin to gleam in golden squares, the 
great building becomes curiously ethereal, the 
pine limb flung into the foreground of the de 
sign catches the eye, the reflection in the water is 
as real as the reality. The Plaza, monstrous tons 
of steel and stone, floats between two elements. 
Then darkness gathers, the reflected lights in the 
blackening water grow more golden, and sud 
denly, perhaps, a duck swims across a tenth story 
window and sets it dancing in golden ripples. 
You may fare far among the ancient and "pic 
turesque" cities of the earth without finding a 
rival for this strange bit of beauty in New York, 
an ethereal sky-scraper in white and gold gazing 
at its own reflection in the forest pool! 



140 The Twilight Veil 

Twilight in the Park, indeed, converts more 
than one building into a thing of beauty, and 
the Plaza into a thing of beauty from more than 
one view. For instance, as you pass into the 
Park, seeking the spot we have described, turn 
back before you have advanced far, and see the 
great cliff wall going up beyond the slender trac 
ery of young trees, with the street lights, just 
turned on, making a level strip of golden shim 
mer at its base, curiously suggestive of crowds 
and gaiety. There is at all hours a certain charm 
to be found in the long line of high hotels and 
apartment houses which line the Park to the 
west, when you view them over treetops, rock 
ledges, and running brooks, or over white fields 
of snow. It is as if the city had crested in a great 
wave along the green shore of the country, ready 
to curl and fall and dash onward, but had been 
suddenly arrested by some more potent King 
Canute. Loveliness, however, is hardly a word 
you would apply till twilight steals across the 
scene. Down side streets into the west the gol 
den sunset glows for a time, and the hadows on 
the snow are amethyst. Then the glow fades. 
The arc lamps come on with a splutter, and they, 
too, at first are amethyst. But in the gathering 
dark they change to blue. The sky changes to 
the deep blue of approaching night. The dim 
bulks of the buildings change to blue. The 
shadows about you are but a deeper blue. Even 



The Twilight Veil 141 

the snow at your feet is blue. In the great apart 
ments and hotels the golden window squares ap 
pear, and the looming procession of blue shadow 
bulks might be a fleet of giant liners going by 
you in the night. 

There is always a mystery and poignant charm 
about our parks in New York, if you let them 
have their way with your imagination, which 
you do not find in other parks intrinsically, per 
haps, more beautiful. No doubt this comes from 
violent contrast between our city and the hush 
and peace of trees. Our streets are all treeless, 
and our great heave of masonry comes up to the 
very edge of our green oases. Even the smaller 
parks which fill but a block or two, when twi 
light enfolds them, blurring the harsher outlines 
and conjuring out the shadows, can captivate the 
senses. If you chance to wander in Brooklyn 
which no self-respeding inhabitant of Manhat 
tan permits himself to do except under compul- 
sing! you may come upon Fort Greene Park 
when the evening shadows are stealing down the 
streets to meet you, and the Martyrs Monument 
strangely converted into a pagan altar, silhouet 
ted against the sky amid its guardian druid grove 
wherein the lamps glow and twinkle and dark 
figures move mysteriously. 

But it is not even necessary to enter the parks 
of New York to find the pi&uresque and lovely. 
Such open areas as Washington and Madison 



142 The Twilight Veil 

Squares hold varying aspects of beauty and im 
aginative suggestion, from sunrise to moonset. 
Large enough to admit the play of light and to 
blur a bit the building lines at their further side, 
these squares reward the seeing eye with many 
an unguessed delight. 

For ten years my rooms were six stories up 
on the east side of Washington Square, and for 
ten years, at all seasons and all hours, I walked 
daily up-town through Madison Square to the 
Rialto, and back again. I have often regretted 
that I kept no note-book of the changing aspects 
of these two oases, as one keeps a note-book of 
the seasons in the country. Spring comes in 
Washington and Madison Squares with signs no 
less unmistable than the hepaticas by the wood 
land road. The western wall of the Flatiron 
Building has its autumnal colorings; and though 
the first snow fall may be black mud by noon, at 
sun-up those brick-bounded areas laugh in white 
and the aged trees arch their fantastic tracery. 

Spring in the Square! The central fountain 
is playing again its rainbow jet of spray, the tulips 
are a jaunty ring about it, the benches have put 
forth a strange, sad foliage of humanity (you 
must not think too much of the benches nor 
look at them too long!), the shrill children are 
everywhere, the green busses are gay with sight 
seers atop, and as you stand by the fountain and 
look northward through the Washington Arch, 



The Twilight Veil 143 

you see that an amazing thing has come to pass. 
The great arch spans the vista of the Avenue, 
lined here with red brick dwellings and the 
sunny white bulk of the old Brevoort House. 
Far off, the sky-scrapers begin to loom, whip 
ping out flags and steam plumes. It is a treeless 
vista, yet it is hazed with spring! Imagination, 
you scoff and dust. Yet you look again, and 
it is not imagination, and it is not dust. It is 
the veil of spring, cast with delicate hand over 
the city. These laughing sight-seers atop the 
green bus now going under the arch feel it, 
too. These children screaming round your feet, 
as they dash through the wind-borne fountain 
spray, are aware of it. There is an answering 
benignity in the calm, red brick dwellings up 
the vista of the Avenue. Wait for a few hours, 
let the sun sink behind the heights of Hoboken, 
and then wander once more into the Square. 
Twilight, a warm, balmy twilight, is upon your 
spirit. Look through the arch southward now. 
There is still plenty of light left in the sky, but 
the great, springing, Roman masonry is dusky. 
It frames the sweeping curve of the asphalt 
around the fountain, and beyond that the Judson 
Memorial tower, graceful, Italian, bearing its 
eledtric cross against the failing day like a cluster 
of timid evening stars. It is a tower from the 
plains of Lombardy, or from an island in the 
Tiber, seen through an arch of ancient Rome. 



144 T&e Twilight Veil 

Do you objed: to that in an American city? I 
cannot argue the point. I only know that when 
I see them so, the one framing the other, in the 
spring twilight, or in the early dusk of a winter 
day, my heart is very glad, and my spirit feels 
a touch of that peace and calm the poet felt 
among the Roman ruins, 

" Where the quiet-colored end of evening smiles 
Miles on miles " 

How often in New York it is a tower which 
gathers the picture together! Ours is a city of 
towers. We hide Trinity spire in a well, and 
Henry Arthur Jones, the playwright, once com 
plained that the windows of his hotel room on 
the Avenue looked down upon the pinnacle of 
a church steeple. Yet our towers rise just the 
same, new ones leaping up as far above the new 
three-hundred-foot sky-line as Trinity steeple 
once lifted above lower Broadway. We aspire 
still. Nor is the old Judson tower on Washing 
ton Square yet dwarfed. How many red sunsets 
have I seen glow through its belfry windows, 
while the tower itself was a black silhouette 
against the sky, and down in the shadowy Square 
the night lamps began to come out, or the as 
phalt, drenched by a shower, shone as if molten 
copper had been rained upon it! In how many 
deep, starlit nights have I thrown open my win 
dow for a fresher breath and a moment of medi- 



The Twilight Veil 145 

tation, to see the deserted Square below me, its 
white arch faintly gleaming in the radiation of 
the arc lamps, the long stretch of city roofs be 
yond, the twinkling lamps on the far heights of 
Hoboken, and there in the centre of the picture 
the dark, silent tower, keeping quiet watch and 
bearing its steady cross like a star-cluster in the 
night! Many a time I have gone to bed with its 
beautiful image behind my eyelids. 

The Metropolitan tower in Madison Square 
is less intimate. It has its moods, but they are 
the moods of the mountain. It has dwarfed the 
graceful, Spanish tower of the Madison Square 
Garden, without a doubt, and taken the proud 
Diana down a peg. But there are compensations 
in its mightiness. Have you ever seen it on a 
fggy ^ a y & m & U P out f s ig nt into the driving 
vapors? Have you stood in ancient Gramercy 
Park still a bit of the old, domestic New York 
of the /o s and seen it booming up over the 
red brick dwellings, white and confident into the 
sun? Have you ever come down through Madi 
son Square late at night, when the relic of a 
moon was rising behind the tower, and the 
ghostly shaft stood up tremendous against the 
pale, racing cloud-rack? Have you seen it with 
the last pink glow of sunset upon it,. and upon 
the western wall of the Flatiron Building, and 
upon nothing else, all lower buildings being in 
shadows of obscuring twilight? That is one of 



n 



146 The Twilight Veil 

its delicate mountian moods, when it seems to 
lift above our earth-bound vision and look over 
those western cloud ranges into the Land Be 
yond the Sunset. 

Have you seen it, too, down Madison Avenue 
in the mysterious twilight hour of blue and gold 
when all New York is beautiful? The street 
lamps have come on; the dark figures of home- 
going pedestrians hurry past you; there are lamps 
in the windows of houses. A filmy blue veil of 
twilight obscures the distances, so that they are 
soft, alluring. The tower is pale, almost ethereal, 
at the end of the vista. Its great clock, pricked 
out with golden lamps, seems scarce a third of 
the way up its side. The white walls rise on, 
and on, with here and there a spot of gold, and 
taper into nothing. They are lost in the gloom 
of coming night. But still they must go on, 
for far aloft you see the lantern glowing like 
a star, hung between earth and heaven. In this 
twilight hour of blue and gold the tower is the 
mighty guardian spirit of the scene, sending 
down sonorous word of the hours as they pass, 
and lifting our eyes, like its steady lantern, to 
ward the watch-towers of Eternity. Must we be 
forever reminded that those glowing window 
squares up its flanks denote lawyers toiling late 
at their briefs, or mining stock promoters plan 
ning a new cast of the net? Must we be forever 
told that this is not a spire in praise of God but 



The Twilight Veil 147 

a monument in praise of Mammon? Aspiration 
is in its lines, beauty in its sky-borne shaft of blue 
and gold, wonder in its shrouded summit. 

"They builded better than they knew 
The conscious stone to beauty grew." 

It is enough. Let us wonder and be glad. 

There are many odd views of the tower to be 
had for a little searching, spots where its peak 
appears in unexpected places, or with unusual 
suggestion. There is just one point in Union 
Square, for example, about halfway round "dead 
man s curve/ where you see the tapering pyra 
mid and the golden lantern overtopping the high 
buildings between. You do not see it again, if 
you are walking up Broadway, till you are close 
to Madison Square. Then, if you lift your eyes, 
you are suddenly aware of it looming far aloft 
over the cornice-line to your right, shredding 
the mists on a stormy day, or by night lifting 
its latern up with the stars. There is always an 
added impressiveness about a tower when we 
cannot see the base. The sheer drop of its sides 
is left to our imagination, and the human im 
agination may generally be trusted to embroider 
fad:. For that reason alone, the view of the 
tower from a certain point on East Thirty-first 
Street, between Madison and Fourth Avenues, 
would be worth the searching out. But it has 
another and unique charm. If you will walk 



148 The Twilight Veil 

along Thirtieth Street toward Fourth Avenue you 
will see, tucked in between larger and more 
modern buildings on the south side, a little two- 
story-and-a-half wooden cottage, set back a few 
feet behind an iron fence. It must have stood 
there many years, for the wooden age in New 
York was long, long ago. It is a quaint little 
dwelling, with quaint pseudo-Gothic ornamen 
tations, and until recently was used as an antique 
shop. A large weather-stained Venus stood upon 
the front porch, ironically beside a spinning- 
wheel! Now the house is untenanted, so that 
you lift your eyes the sooner to look above and 
beyond it. It occupies, of course, a slit between 
higher buildings. Through that slit, as you stand 
on the opposite curb, you look over a few spindly 
black chimney-stacks in the foreground directly 
to the Metropolitan Tower, booming up sud 
denly and unexpectedly. You see only that for 
a moment, because of its Titanic size and white 
impressiveness. Then you notice something out 
lined against it, a lower tower, much more slender, 
a mere tracery of delicate shafts and belfries, and 
crowning it, her bow forever poised, the lovely 
limbed Diana. Whence either of these towers 
come, you see not. They merely spring up into 
the vision over the roof of the little wooden house, 
the darker one outlined against the other for com 
parison. Between and around them steam plumes 
from unseen buildings drift like clouds. Diana 



The Twilight Veil 149 

turns a little, and points her shaft into the wind 
anew. The might of the new tower is mightier 
for this close comparison. Yet the other tower, too, 
does not suffer, its femininity is the more allur 
ing. But lift your eyes as you walk through this 
commonplace cross-street of New York, and you 
may see as picturesque a vista, over the quaint 
wooden cottage, as any city, anywhere, affords 
forty stories looking down on two and a half, 
and between them, in intermediate flight, St. 
Gaudens bronze Diana. 

Snow in the city! We in New York tjhink 
of bespattered boots, of horses falling down, of 
dirty piles, more black than white, lining the 
streets like igloos till the tip-carts come and 
carry them off. "The frolic architecture" of the 
snow is a thing of memory, not of present fad:. 
Like Whittier, we recall the hooded well-sweep 
or fantastic pump, and the great drifts by the 
pasture wall. Yet, once again, it is the seeing 
eye we lack, nor do we need even to enter the 
Park to discover the snow at its artistic handi 
work. Let Sixty-fifth Street enter the Park for 
you, from the east, and do you stand upon Fifth 
Avenue and note the conversion from ugliness 
to beauty of a paved road, dipping into a dug- 
way between dirty stone walls. The soiled pave 
ment is hidden now, each rough stone on the 
bounding walls is softly outlined with white, 
not far into the Park a graceful stone foot-bridge 



150 The Twilight Veil 

spans the sunken street, supporting a second and 
more graceful arch of snow, and the street curves 
alluringly into the trees which rise beyond, a 
gray wall of misty shadow, the eye is satisfied 
with a clean, well-composed, strongly lined 
picture, and the imagination almost deluded into 
a belief of its rusticity. 

I remember once walking down Broadway 
late at night, after an evening at some tiresome 
play and supper at some yet more tiresome and 
tawdry restaurant. I had been having what is 
popularly supposed to be a "good time," and I 
was bored. There had been a recent deep fall 
of snow. The night was clear and cold. Below 
Herald Square I met comparatively few pedes 
trians, and those few were not of the sort to 
dispel my despondent mood. 

"Back home," I thought, "the moon should 
be shining on the white, clean hills, and under 
neath my boots the snow-crust would squeak. 
Perhaps a screech-owl would whistle his plain 
tive call in the ghostly orchard. How beautiful 
there the night would be! But here " and I 
flung out my arm instinctively toward the walls 
which hemmed me in. 

But as I drew near Madison Square, and lifted 
my eyes to the soaring ship s-prow of the Flat- 
iron Building, I noted suddenly that its upper 
stories were bathed in a pale, golden glow; and 
coming full into the square, I saw the moon, 



The Twilight Veil 151 

riding small and high beyond the white tower. 
The next strip of canon street shut it out once 
more, but at Union Square it was waiting to 
greet me, and as I entered the slit of Broadway 
to the south and drew near Eleventh street, I was 
aware of the snow-covered northward pitch of 
Grace Church roof gleaming in its light, a great 
rectangle of pale radiance at the bend of the 
street. Above the roof the Gothic spire stood up 
serenely. There were no passers at the moment, 
not even a trolley-car. The greatest traffic artery 
in town was hushed as death. The high build 
ings about were dark and shadowy. At the angle 
commanding the vista in either direction the 
church slept in the moonlight. 

"Deep on the convent roof the snows 
Are sparking to the moon." 

Tennyson s lines came to me instinctively, for 
here in the heart of town was their very picture 
and their simple magic. A little shamefaced for 
my sceptic blindness, I passed on toward home. 
Somebody, probably Emerson, said that we 
bring from Europe only what we take to it. But 
need one go to Europe to demonstrate the prin 
ciple? We in New York, who are often our 
city s harshest critics, find pretty much what we 
look for. We do not look for beauty, and we 
do not find it. Then, too, man is no less con 
ventional about beauty than about other things. 



152 The Twilight Veil 

If he believes that the beauty of a city lies in a 
level cornice-line, converging vistas, malls of 
trees, "civic centres/ of what use to tell him 
that there may be a beauty as well of non-con 
formity, when the magic veil of twilight wraps 
the city round, and twinkling lamps climb un 
believable heights and all the town is a mighty 
nocShirne in blue and gold? We would not be 
thought to say that New York is always beauti 
ful, or that a great deal of it is not much of the 
time ugly beyond hope. But there is not a street 
of it from end to end but has some point of pic 
torial charm, whence one may see a span of the 
Brooklyn Bridge leaping over the tenements, or 
the scholastic Gothic spire of the City College 
chapel crowning the rocks at the close of the 
vista, or just a rosy sunset over the Hoboken 
hills. And there are parks and squares of almost 
constant charm, though it be a charm not of the 
old world, but the new, of the uprearing steel 
city of the twentieth century. And finally there 
are certain hours when kindly Nature takes a 
hand at coloring our drab mortar piles and 
softening out distances and making our forests 
of masonry no less wonderful to look upon than 
her own forests of timber. Such an hour is the 
blue twilight, such an hour may be the wet even 
ing when the pavements shine with molten gold 
and the eledric signs along upper Broadway, 
like King Arthur s dragoned helmet, make "all 



The Twilight Veil 153 

the night a steam of fire," and round the tall 
tower of the Times Building the vapour clouds 
drift, now concealing, now revealing some beam 
of light from a window high aloft. After all, 
it is no great credit to any of us to find the 
ugliness in New York. The ugliness is rather 
obvious. To find the beauty is a worthier task, 
and might make us more keen to cherish and 
to expand it. It is there for the seeing eye. 





Spring in the Qarden 

No DAFFODILS "take the winds of March with 
beauty" in our Berkshire gardens. What daffo 
dils we have in that month of alternate slush and 
blizzard bloom in pots, indoors. But one sign 
of spring the gardens holds no less plain to read, 
even if some people may not regard it as so po 
etic over across the late snow, close to the hot 
bed frames, a great pile of fresh stable manure 
is steaming like a miniature volcano. To the 
true gardener, that sight is thrilling, nay, lyric! I 
have always found that the measure of a man s 
(and more especially a woman s) garden love was 
to be found in his (or her) attitude toward the 
manure pile. For that reason I put the manure 
pile in the first paragraph of my praise of gardens 
in the spring. 

That yellowish-brown, steaming volcano above 
the slushy snow of March promises so much ! I 
will not offend sensitive garden owners who hire 
others to do their dirty work 5 by singing the joy 
of turning it over with a fork, once, twice, per 
haps three times, till it is "working" evenly all 
through. Yet there is such joy, accentuated on 



Spring in the (jar den 155 

the second day by the facl that the thermometer 
has taken a sudden jump upwards, the snow is 
melting fast, and in the shrubs and evergreen 
hedge the song-sparrows are singing, and the 
robins. Last year, I remember, I paused with 
the steaming pile half turned, first to roll up my 
sleeves and feel the warm sun on my arms 
most delicious of early spring sensations and 
then to listen to the love-call of a chickadee, 
over and over the three notes, one long and two 
short a whole tone lower. I answered him, he 
replied, and we played our little game for two 
or three minutes, till he came close and detected 
the fraud. Then a bluebird flashed through the 
orchard, a jay screamed, as I bent to my toil 
again. Beside me were the hotbed frames, the 
glasses newly washed, the winter bedding of 
leaves removed, and behind them last year s con 
tents rotted into rich loam. Another day or two, 
and they would be prepared for seeding if I 
only could bring myself to work hard enough 
until then! 

How much hope goes into a hotbed in late 
March, or early April! How much warmth the 
friendly manure down under the soil sends up by 
night to germinate the seeds, though the weather 
go back to winter outside as it invariably does 
in our mountains! Last year, for example, we 
had snow on the nitnh of April, and again on the 
twenty-third and twenty-ninth, while the year 



156 Spring in the garden 

before, on the ninth, six inches fell. In the low 
land regions gardening is easier, perhaps, but yet 
there is a certain joy in this fickle spring weather 
of ours, the joy of going out in the morning 
across a white garden and sweeping the snow from 
hotbed mats, lifting the moist, steaming glass, 
and catching from within, strong against your 
face, the pungent warmth and aroma of the 
heated soil and the delicate fragrance of young 
seedlings. How fast the seeds come some of 
them! Others come so slowly that the amateur 
gardener is in despair, and angrily decides to try 
a new seed house next year. The vegetable 
frames are sown in rows celery, tomatoes, cauli 
flowers, lettuce, radishes, peppers, coming up in 
tiny green ribbons, the radishes racing ahead. 
The flower frames, however, are sown in squares, 
each about a foot across, and each labeled and 
marked off* with a thin strip of wood. These 
are the early plantings of the annuals, for we 
cannot sow out-of-doors till the first or even the 
second week in May in our climate. Sometimes, 
indeed, we do not dare to sow even in the frames 
till well into April. The asters are usually up first, 
racing the weeds. The little squares make, in a 
week or so, a green checker-board, each promis 
ing its quota of color to the garden, and very 
soon the early cosmos, thinned to the strongest 
plants, has shot up like a miniature forest, tower 
ing over the lowlier seedlings, sometimes bump- 



Spring in the (garden 157 

ing its head against the glass before it can be 
transplanted to the open ground in May. But 
most prolific, most promising, and most bother 
some, are the squares labeled "antirrhinum/ 
coral red, salmon pink, white, dark maroon, and 
so on; tiny seeds scattered on the ground and 
sprinkled with a little sand, they come up by 
the hundred, and each seedling has to go into 
a pot before it goes into the ground. 

There is work for an April day! I sit on a 
board by the hotbed, cross-legged like a Turk, 
while the sun is warm on my neck and I feel 
my arms tanning, and removing a mass of the 
seedlings on a flat mason s trowel, I lift each 
strong plant between thumb and .finger, its long, 
delicate white root dangling like a needle, and 
pot it in a small paper pot. When two score pots 
are ready, I set them in a cold-frame, sprinkle 
them, stretch the kink out of my back, listen to 
the wood- thrush a moment (he came on the 
fourteenth and is evidently planning to nest in 
our pines), and then return to my job. Patience 
is required to pot four or five hundred snap 
dragons; but patience is required, after all, in 
most things that are rightly performed. I think 
as I work of the glory around my sundial in 
July, I arrange and rearrange the colors in my 
mind and presently the job is done. 

But the steaming manure pile is not the only 
sign of spring, nor the hotbeds the only things 



158 Spring in the Cjarden 

to be attended to. If they only were, how much 
easier gardening would be and how much less 
exciting! There is always work to be done in 
the orchard, for instance, some pruning and 
scraping. I always go into the orchard on the 
first really warm, spring-like March day, with a 
common hoe, and scrape a little, not so much 
for the good of the trees as for the good of my 
soul. The real scraping for the scale spray was, 
of course, done earlier. There is a curious, faintly 
putrid smell to old or bruised apple wood, which 
is stirred by my scraping, and that smell sweeps 
over me a wave of memories, memories of child 
hood in a great yellow house that stood back 
from the road almost in its orchard, and boasted 
a cupola with panes of colored glass which made 
the familiar landscape strange; memories of youth 
in that same house, too, dim memories " of sweet, 
forgotten, wistful things. " My early spring af 
ternoons in the orchard are very precious to me 
now, and when the weather permits I always 
try to burn the rubbish and dead prunings on 
Good Friday, the incense of the apple wood float 
ing across the brown garden like a prayer, the 
precious ashes sinking down to enrich the soil. 
The bees, too, are always a welcome sign of 
the returning season, hardly less than the birds, 
though the advent of the white-throated sparrow 
(who delayed till April twenty-first last year) is 
always a great event. He is first heard most often 



Spring in the (garden 159 

before breakfast, in an apple tree close to the 
sleeping-porch, his flute-like triplets sweetly 
penetrating my dreams and bringing me gladly 
out of bed something he alone can do, by the 
way, and not even he after the first morning! 
But the bees come long before. The earliest 
record I have is March thirty-first, but there 
must be dates before that which I have negle&ed 
to put down. Some house plant, a hyacinth pos 
sibly, is used as bait, and when the ground is 
thawing out beneath a warm spring sun we put 
the plant on the southern veranda and watch. 
Day after day nothing happens, then suddenly, 
some noon, it has scarcely been set on the ground 
when its blossoms stir, and it is murmurous with 
bees. Then we know that spring indeed has 
come, and we begin to rake the lawns, wherever 
the frost is out, wheeling great crate loads of 
leaves and rubbish upon the garden, and filling 
our neighbors houses with pungent smoke. 

There is a certain spot between the thumb and 
first finger which neither axe nor golf-club nor 
saw handle seems to callous. The spring raking 
finds it out, and gleefully starts to raise a blister. 
My hands are perpetually those of a day-laborer, 
yet I expect that blister every spring. Indeed, 
I am rather disappointed now if I don t get it, 
I feel as if I weren t doing my share of work. 
The work is worth the blister. I know of few 
sensations more delightful than that of seeing 



160 Spring in the Cjarden 

the lawn emerging green and clean beneath your 
rake, the damp mould baring itself under the 
shrubbery, the paths, freshly edged, nicely scar- 
rowed with tooth marks; then of feeling the 
tug of the barrow handles in your shoulder 
sockets; and finally, as the sun is sending long 
shadows over the ground, of standing beside the 
rubbish pile with your rake as a poker and 
hearing the red flames crackle and roar through 
the heap, while great puffs of beautiful brown 
smoke go rolling away across the garden and 
the warmth is good to your tired body. Clear 
ing up is such a delight, indeed, that I cannot 
now comprehend why I so intensely disliked 
to do it when I was half my present age. Per 
haps it was because at that time clearing up was 
put to me in the light of a duty, not a pleasure. 
There is alas, too often a tempering of sadness 
in the joy of taking the covers off the garden. 
One removes them, especially after a cold open 
winter, with much the same anxious excitement 
that one opens a long-delayed letter from a dear 
friend who has been in danger. What signs of 
life will the peonies show under their four inches 
of rotted manure, and the Japanese irises by the 
pool, and the beds of Darwins, so confidently 
relied upon to ring the sundial in late May and 
early June, before the succeeding annuals are 
ready? How will the hollyhocks, so stately in 
midsummer all down the garden wall, have with- 



Spring in the (garden 161 

stood the alternate thaws and freezes which char 
acterized our abominable January and February? 
Then there are those two long rows of foxgloves 
and Canterbury bells, across the rear of the vege 
table garden, where they were set in the fall to 
make strong plants before being put in their 
permanent places or rather their season s places, 
for these lovely flowers are perversely biennials, 
and at least seven times every spring I vow I 
will never bother with them again, and then 
make an even larger sowing when their stately 
stalks and sky-blue bells are abloom in summer! 
Tenderly you lift the pine boughs from them 
on a balmy April day (it was not until almost 
mid-April last year), when snow still lingers, 
perhaps, in dirty patches on the north side of 
the evergreens. Will they show frozen, flabby, 
withered leaves, or will their centers be bright 
with new promise? It is a moment to try the 
soul of the gardener, and no joy is quite like 
that of finding them all alive, nor any sorrow 
like that of finding them dead. At first I used 
to give up gardening forever when the perennials 
and biennials were winter-killed, just as a be 
ginner at golf gives up the game forever each 
time he makes a vile score. Then I began to com 
promise on a garden of annuals. Now I have 
learned philosophy and also better methods 
of winter protection. Likewise, I have learned 
that a good many of the perennials which were 



162 Spring in the (garden 

stone-dead when the covers were removed have 
a trick of coming to life under the kiss of May, 
and struggling up to some sort of bloom, even 
if heroically spindly like lean soldiers after a 
hard campaign. The hollyhocks, especially, have 
a way of seeding themselves undetected, and pre 
senting you in spring with a whole unsuspected 
family of children, some of whom wander far 
from the parent stem and suddenly begin to shoot 
up in the most unexpected places. An exquisite 
yellow hollyhock last summer sprouted unnoted 
beneath our dinning-room window, and we 
were not aware of it till one July morning when 
it poked up above the sill. A few days later, 
when we came down to breakfast, there it was 
abloom, nodding in at the open window. 

Another spring excitement in the garden is 
the pea planting, both the sweet peas and what 
our country folk sometimes call "eatin peas." 
No rivalry is so keen as that between pea- 
growers. My neighbors and I struggle for su 
premacy in sweet peas at the flower show in 
July, and great glory goes to him who gets the 
first mess of green peas on his table. We have 
tried sweet-pea sowing in the fall, and it does 
not work. So now I prepare a trench in Octo 
ber, partially fill it with manure, and cover it 
with leaves, which I remove at the first hint of 
warm weather in March. The earth-piles on 
either side thaw out quickly, and I get an early 



Spring in the (jar den 163 

sowing, putting in as many varieties as I can af 
ford (my wife says twice as many as I can afford), 
jealously guarding the secret of their number. 
The vegetable peas are planted later, usually 
about the first or second day of April, as soon as 
the top soil of the garden can be worked with 
a fork, and long before the plowing. We put 
in first a row of Daniel O Rourke s, not because 
they are good for much, but because they will 
beat any other variety we have discovered by two 
days at least. Then we put in a row of a better 
standard early variety. How we watch those 
rows for the first sprouts! How we coddle and 
cultivate them! How eagerly we insped: our 
neighbors rows, trying to appear nonchalant! 
And doubtless how silly this sounds to anyone 
who is not a gardener. Last summer we got 
our first mess of peas on June twenty-first, and 
after eating a spoonful, we rushed to the tele 
phone, and were about to ring, when somebody 
called us. "Hello/ we said into the transmitter. 
A voice on the other end of the wire, curiously 
choked and munchy, cried, "We are eating our 
first peas! My mouth s full of em now!" 

"That s nothing," we answered, "we ve got 
our first mouthful all swallowed." 

"Well, anyhow," said our disappointed neigh 
bor, "I called up first! Good-bye." 

How is that for a neck-and-neck finish at 
the tape? 



164 Spring in the (garden 

As April waxes into May, the garden beds are 
a perpetual adventure in the expected, each morn 
ing bringing some new revelation of old friends 
come back, and as you dig deep and prepare the 
beds for the annuals, or spade manure around the 
perennials, or set your last year s plantings of 
hollyhocks, larkspur, foxgloves and campanulas 
into their places, you move tenderly amid the 
aspiring red stalks of the peonies, the Jason s 
crop of green iris spears, the leaves of tulips and 
narcissuses and daffodils, the fresh green of tiny 
sweet William plants clustered round the mother 
plant like a brood of chicks around the hen. 
You must be at setting them into borders, too, 
or putting the surplus into flats and then tele 
phoning your less fortunate friends. One of the 
joys of a garden is in giving away your extra 
plants and seedlings. 

One morning the asparagus bed, already 
brown again after the April showers have driven 
the salt into the ground, is pricked with short 
tips. That is a luscious sight! Inch by inch they 
push up, and thick and fast they come at last, 
and more and more and more. My diary shows 
me that we ate our first bunch last year on May 
ninth. On that day, also, I learn from the same 
source, the daffodils were out, the Darwin tu 
lips were budding, and we spent the afternoon 
burning caterpillars nests in the orchard one 
spring crop which is never welcome, and never 



Spring in the Gfarden 165 

winter-killed. At this date, too, we are hard at 
work spraying, and sowing the annuals out-of- 
doors in the seed beds, and planting corn (the 
potatoes are all in by now), immediately follow 
ing the plowing, which was delayed till the first 
of May by a belated snowstorm. Winter with us 
is like a clumsy person who tries over and over 
to make his exit from a room but does not know 
how to accomplish it. It is a busy time, for 
no sooner are the annuals planted, and the vege 
tables, than some of the seedlings from the hot 
beds have to be set out (such as early cosmos), 
and the perennial beds already have begun to 
bloom, and require cultivation and admiration, 
and the flowers in the wild garden hepaticas 
and trilliums and bloodroot and violets are cry 
ing to be noticed, and, confound it all, here is 
the lawn getting rank under the influence of its 
spring dressing, and demands to be mowed! Yes, 
and we forget to get the mower sharpened be 
fore we put it away in the fall. 

"May fifteen" it is my diary for last year 
"apple blossoms showing pink, and the rhubarb 
leaves peeping over the tops of their barrels this 
morning, like Ali Baba and the forty thieves." 

Well, well; straight, juicy red stalks the length 
of a barrel, fit for a pie and the market! It is 
our second commercial product, the asparagus 
slightly preceding it. The garden is getting into 
shape now, indeed; the wheel-hoe is traveling up 



1 66 Spring in the Qarden 

and down the green rows; the hotbed glasses are 
entirely removed by day; and the early cauli 
flower plants are put into the open ground at 
the first promise of a shower. The annuals are 
up in the seed beds; the pool has been cleaned 
and filled, the goldfish are once more swimming 
in it, the Cape Cod water-lily, brought from its 
winter quarters in the dark cellar, has begun to 
make a leaf, and we have begun to hope that 
maybe this year it will also make a blossom, for 
we are nothing in mid-May if not optimistic. 

The earlier Darwins are already in bloom. 
The German irises follow rapidly. June comes, 
and we work amid the splendors of the Japanese 
irises and the flame-line of Oriental poppies, set 
ting the annuals into their beds, from the tender, 
droopy schyzanthus plants to the various asters 
and the now sturdy snapdragons. The color 
scheme had been carefully planned last winter, 
and is as cheerfully disregarded now, as some 
new inspiration strikes us, such as a border of 
purple asters against salvia, with white dahlias 
behind a strip of daring fall color which would 
delight the soul of Gari Melcher, which de 
lighted me and which my wife said was 
horrible. 

So spring comes and goes in the garden, busy 
and beautiful, ceaseless work and ceaseless won 
der. But there is a moment in its passage, as 
yet unmentioned, which I have kept for the 



Spring in the (garden 167 

close because to me it is the subtle climax of 
the resurrection season. It usually comes in 
April for us, though sometimes earlier. The 
time is evening, always evening, just after sup 
per, when a frail memory of sunset still lingers 
in the west and the air is warm. I go out hat- 
less upon the veranda, thinking of other things, 
and suddenly I am aware of the song of the 
frogs ! There are laughing voices in the street, 
the tinkle of a far-off piano, the pleasant sounds 
of village life come outdoors with the return 
of spring; and buoying up, permeating these 
other sounds comes the ceaseless, shrill chorus 
of the frogs, seemingly from out of the air and 
distance, beating in waves on the ear. Why this 
first frog chorus so thrills me I cannot explain, 
nor what dim memories it wakes. But the 
peace of it steals over all my senses, and I walk 
down into the dusk and seclusion of my gar 
den, amid the sweet odors of new earth and 
growing things, where the song comes up to me 
from the distant meadow making the garden- 
close sweeter still, the air yet more warm and 
fragrant, the promise of spring more magical. 
The garden then is very intimate and dear, it 
brings me into closer touch with the awakening 
earth about me, and all the years I dwelt a pris 
oner in cities are but as the shadow of a dream. 




The ^Bubble, "Deputation 

A GREAT dramatist is authority for the state 
ment that 

The evil that men do lives after them ; 
The good is oft interred with their bones. 

That is no doubt in a measure true; yet it would 
be grossly unfair to blame personally certain 
great ones of the past for the evil that has lived 
after them and borne their names. For instance, 
it may be doubted whether Louis XIV of France 
was all that he should have been. His private 
life would hardly have escaped censure in Upper 
Montclair, N. J., or West Newton, Mass., and 
his public a6ts were not always calculated to 
promote social justice and universal brotherhood. 
But to blame him for all the gilt furniture which 
has ever since stood around the walls of hotel 
ballrooms and borne his name is a libel even on 
that lax and luxurious monarch. Yet such is his 
fate. You who are familiar with history, I who 
know next to nothing about it, are alike in this 
when we hear the words Louis XIV we do not 
think of a great monarch with a powdered wig 



The Bubble, Tt^putation 169 

and a powdered mistress, of magnificent fountains 
and courtiers and ladies dancing the gavotte, of 
a brilliant court and striking epoch. Not at all. 
We think, both of us, of a gilt chair with a 
brocaded seat (slightly worn), and maybe a sofa 
to match. If you say that you don t, I must po 
litely but firmly well, differ with you. 

Alas! poor Louis XIV was not the only worthy 
(or unworthy) of the past who has come down 
to the present, not as a personality but as a piece 
of furniture, a dog, a boot, or some other equally 
ignominious thing. Speaking of furniture, there s 
the Morris chair. The man who made the Mor 
ris chair was a great and good man not because 
he made the Morris chair, but in spite of it! 
He composed haunting poems, he wrote lovely 
prose romances of the far-off days of knights 
and ladyes and magic spells, such as that hight 
The Water of the Wondrous Istes, a right brave 
book mayhap you have not perused, to your ex 
ceeding great loss, for beautiful it is and fair to 
read and full of the mighty desire of a man for 
a maid. Beside all this, he printed lovely books 
by other writers, and designed wall-paper, and 
painted pidhires, and thundered against the dead 
ening effed: on men of mechanical toil, and in 
social theories was far in advance of his age. Such 
a man was William Morris known to-day to 
the mass of mankind for one of the most accursed 



170 The ^Bubble, Imputation 

articles of furnitur e ever devised by human inge 
nuity gone astray! Every day, in a million homes, 
men and women sit in Morris chairs (made by 
machinery) and read Robert W. Chambers and 
Florence Barclay. Such, alas, is fame! 

Then there was Queen Anne in many re- 
spefts an estimable woman, though leaving 
much to be desired as a monarch. She had her 
Rooseveltian virtues, being the mother of seven 
teen children (none of whom lived to grow be 
yond infancy, to be sure) ; and she had what the 
world just now has come to regard as the monar 
chical vice of autocracy. In her reign science 
and literature flourished, though without much 
aid from her, and the English court buzzed with 
intrigue and politics. But speak the name 0%ueen 
Anne aloud, and then tell me the picture you 
get. Is it a picture of the lady or her period? Is 
it a picture of Pope and Dryden sitting in a 
London coffee-house? No, it is not that is, 
unless you are a very learned, or a very young, 
person. It is a picture of a horrible architectural 
monstrosity built about thirty or forty years ago 
in any American city or suburb, and bearing 
certain vague resemblances to a home for human 
beings. Whatever else Queen Ann e was, she 
was not an architect, and she wasn t to blame for 
those houses, any more than she was to blame 
for Pope s "Essay on Man." But that doesn t 



The ^Bubble, Imputation 171 

count. She gets the blame, just the same. She 
is known forever now by those gables and that 
gingerbread, those shingles and stains. 

She had a predecessor on the English throne 
by the name of Charles. Like Louis in France, 
he wasn t all he should have been, and there 
were those in his own day who didn t entirely 
approve of him. But it wasn t because of his 
dogs. However, if you mention King Charles 
now, it is a dog you think of a small, eary 
dog, with somewhat splay feet and a seventeenth- 
century monarchical preference for the society 
of ladies and the softest cushion. Maybe the royal 
gentleman didn t deserve anything better of pos 
terity; but, anyhow, that s what he got. 

St. Bernhard fared better. If one had to be 
remembered by a dog, what better dog could 
he sele6t, save possibly an Airedale ? Big, strong, 
faithful, wise, true to type for centuries, the most 
reliable of God s creatures (including Man by 
courtesy in that category), the St. Bernhard is a 
monument for well, not for a king, and a king 
didn t get him; for a saint, rather. It is doubt 
ful if the old monk is playing any lamentations 
on his harp. 

But I m not so sure about that peerless mili 
tary leader, General A. E. Burnside. When you 
have risen to lead an army corps against your 
country s foes, when you have commanded men 
and sat your bourse for a statue on the grounds 



172 The ^Bubble, "Deputation 

of the state capitol or the intersection of Main 
and State Streets, it really is rather rough to be 
remembered for your whiskers. Of course, as a 
wit remarked of Shaw, no man is responsible for 
his relatives, but his whiskers are his own fault. 
Nevertheless, how is a great general to know 
that his military exploits will be forgotten, while 
his whiskers thunder down the ages, as it were, 
progressing in the coures of time with the chang 
ing fashions from bank presidents to Presbyte 
rian elders, and finally to stage butlers? At last 
even the stage butlers are shaving clean, and a 
stroke of the razor wipes out a military reputa 
tion, blasts a general s immortality! Fame is a 
fickle jade. 

An artistic reputation lasts longer, and resists 
the barber, proving the superiority of the arts 
to militarism. "Van Dyke" is still a generally 
familiar appellation and sounds the same, no 
matter which way you spell it. Of course, there s 
no rhyme nor reason in it artist and whiskers 
should be spelled the same way. Only they re 
not. " Something ought to be done about it." 

However, to resume If you tell me John 

Jones has a Vandyke, I don t visualize John as 
an art-collector standing in his gallery in rapt 
contemplation of a masterpiece by the great 
Flemish painter. I visualize him as a man with 
a certain type of beard. I may later think of the 
master who put these beards upon his portraits. 



The Bubble, "Deputation 173 

Then again, I may not. Exa&ly the same would 
be true if I told you John Jones had a Vandyke, 
instead of the other way about. Don t contra 
dict me you know it s so. It is nearly as dif 
ficult to-day to own a Van Dyke canvas as it is 
to paint one, but anybody can raise a Vandyke 
beard. In fact, many still do, and thus keep the 
master s memory green. "By their whiskers ye 
shall know them." 

A military reputation, as we have already 
proved by the case of General Burnside, is a pre 
carious thing. How many patrons of Atlantic 
City, I wonder, know the hero of the wars in the 
Low Countries and his greatest triumph by a cer 
tain hotel on the Board Walk, and would be hard 
put to say which half of the hyphenated name was 
the general and which the battle? Then there 
was Wellington, who at one time threatened to 
be remembered for his boots, and Blucher who 
still is remembered for his. A certain Massachu 
setts statesman (anybody elected to the Mas 
sachusetts House of Representatives is a states 
man) once said that the greatest triumph of Na 
poleon was when Theodore Roosevelt stood silent 
at his tomb. This is witty, but like most witty 
sayings, not quite true. It was a great triumph, 
of course, but rather spectacular. The greatest 
triumphs are not showy. What actually proves 
Napoleon s greatness is the fad: that he is still 
remembered as a commander after generations 



1/4 The Bubble, Imputation 

have selected from the tray of French pastry 
the detectable and indigestible morsal of sugar, 
flour and lard that bears his name. To have 
a toothsome article of food named after you, 
and then to be still remembered for your ac 
tual achievements, is the ultimate test of human 
greatness. Only a Napoleon can meet it. Even 
Washington might not now be known as the 
father of his country if his pie had been a bet 
ter one. 

Who was King, for instance? Was he the cook, 
or the man cooked for? I fancy I knew once, 
but I have forgotten. But chicken-a-la-king will 
live to perpetuate his name as long as there are 
chickens to be eaten and men to eat them. Even 
Sardou, spectacular dramatist, for all his Toscas 
and Fedoras (and ten to one you think of Fedora 
as a hat!), lives for me, a dramatic critic, by vir 
tue of eggs Vidtorien Sardou, a never-to-be-too- 
much-enjoyed concoction secured at the old 
Brevoort House in New York. He may atu- 
ally have invented this recipe himself, for he 
was a great lover of the pleasures of the table. 
If so, it was his masterpiece. An egg is poached 
on the tender heart of an artichoke, and gar 
nished with a peculiar yellow sauce, topped with 
a truffle. Around all four sides are laid little 
bunches of fresh asparagus tips. What is Tosca 
compared to this? 



The Bubble, Imputation 175 

Then, of course, there was Mr. Baldwin. Who 
was Mr. Baldwin? The people of Wilmington, 
Mass., know, because there is a monument to the 
original tree in that town. But we don t know, 
any more than we know who Mr. Bartlett was, 
when we eat one of his pears, or Mr. Logan, 
father of the wine-red berry. In this case the 
Scripture is indeed verified, that by their fruits 
shall ye know them. 

Two or three times a year my wife gets cer 
tain clothes of mine from the closet and combs 
them for moths, hangs them flapping in the breeze 
for a while, and puts them back. Among the 
lot is a garment once much worn by congressmen, 
church ushers and wedding guests, known to the 
fashion editors as "frock coats", and to normal 
human beings as Prince Alberts. Doubtless, in 
the flux of styles ( like a pendulum, styles swing 
forth and back again), the Prince Albert will 
once more be correct, and my wife s labor will 
not have been in vain, while the estimable con 
sort of England s haircloth sofa and black-walnut 
bureau queen will continue to be remembered 
of posterity by this outlandish garment. Poor 
man, after all, he achieved little else to be re 
membered by! 

And as for the queen herself, she will be re 
membered by a state of mind. Already "mid-Vic 
torian" has little or nothing to do with Victoria, 
and is losing its suggestion, even, of a time-peri- 



176 The ^Bubble, Imputation 

od. It is coming to stand for a mental and moral 
attitude in fa6t, for priggishness and moral 
timidity. Queen Victoria was a great and good 
lady, and her home life was, as the two women 
so clearly pointed out when they left the theatre, 
totally different from that of Cleopatra. But 
she is going to give her name to a mental atti 
tude, just the same, even as the Philistines and 
the Puritans. It pays to pick the period you 
queen it over rather carefully. Elizabeth had 
better luck. To be Elizabethan is to be every 
thing gay and dashing and out-doory and ad 
venturesome, with insatiable curiosity and the 
gift of song. Of course, Shakespeare, Drake, 
Raleigh, ought to have the credit but they don t 
get it, any more than Tennyson comes in on the 
Victorian discredit. The head that wears a crown 
may well lie uneasy. 

The memory of many a man has been per 
petuated, all unwittingly, by the manufacturers 
and advertising agencies. Here I tread on dan 
gerous ground, but surely I shall not be accused 
of commerical collusion if I point out that so 
" generously good" a philanthropist as George 
W. Childs became a name literally in the mouth 
of thousands. He became a cigar. Then there 
was Lord Lister. He, too, has become a name 
in the mouths of thousands as a mouth wash. 
And how about the only daughter of the Prophet? 
Fatima was her name. 



The Bubble, Imputation 177 

Who was Lord Raglan, or was he a lord? He 
is a kind of overcoat sleeve now. Who was Mr. 
Mackintosh? Was it Lord Brougham, too? Gas 
olene has extinguished his immortality. Gladstone 
has become a bag, Gainsborough is a hat. The 
beautiful Madame Pompadour, beloved of kings, 
is a kind of hair-cut now. The Mikado of Japan 
is a joke, set to music, heavenly music, to be 
sure, but with its tongue in its angelic cheek. 
An operetta did that. You cannot think of the 
Mikado of Japan in terms of royal dignity. I 
defy you to try. Ko-ko and Katisha keep get 
ting in the way, and you hear the pitty-pat 
of Yum-Yum s little feet, and the bounce of 
those elliptical billiard balls. Gilbert and Sulli 
van s operetta is perhaps the most potent doc 
ument for democracy since the Communist 
Manifesto ! 

The other day I heard a woman say that she 
had got to begin banting. A nice verb, to bant, 
though not approved of by the dictionary, which 
scornfully terms it "humorous and colloquial". 
The humor, to be sure, is usually for other peo 
ple, not for the person banting. Do you know, 
I wonder, the derivation of this word? It means, 
of course, to induce this too, too solid flesh to 
melt, by the careful avoidance of farinaceous, 
saccharine and oily foods, and occasionally its 
meaning is stretched by the careless to include 
also rolling on the bedroom floor fifteen times 

3 



178 The Bubble, Imputation 

before breakfast, and standing up twenty minutes 
after meals. Yet the word is derived from the 
name of William Banting, who was a London 
cabinet-maker. Cabinet-making is a worthy trade; 
indeed, it is one of the most appealing of all 
trades; in fact, it s not a trade, it s an art. I 
haven t a doubt that William made splendid fur 
niture, especially chairs, for nobody appreciates 
a nice, roomy, strong chair like a fat man. I 
haven t a doubt that it was his ambition in life 
to be remembered for his furniture, even as the 
brothers Adam, as Chippendale and Sheraton. But 
it was not to be. In an unfortunate moment, 
William discovered that by eating fewer potatoes 
and cutting out two lumps of sugar from his tea 
he could take off some of the corpulence that 
troubled him. He told of his discovery and the 
world knows him now as a method of getting 
number 44 ladies into a perfect 38. I have al 
ways felt sorry for William Banting. He is one 
of the tragic figures of history. 

Of course, there are many more, if none other 
quite so poignant, but you must recall them for 
yourself. For some paragraphs now I have been 
working up to a climax of prophecy. I have 
been planning to predicl: what Kaiser William II 
will be noted for in the days that are to come. It 
seemed to me that would ma.)^ rather a neat con 
clusion for this little essay. But, Gentle Reader. 
I ve got to turn that job over to you, also. 



The Bubble, Imputation 



179 



Not that the space is lacking, but after long and 
painful concentration I have been unable to think 
of anything bad enough. It may turn out that 
he will be known simply by the meek and nourish 
ing kaiser roll on the breakfast table the only 
surviving relic of a monarchical vocabulary in a 
peaceful and democratic universe. Perhaps, for 
him, that would be the bitterest fate of all, the 
ultimate irony. 





The Old House on the 

I WONDER if other wayfarers through New En 
gland greet, as I do, with special affection the 
old house on the bend of the road? It is so 
characteristic of an earlier civilization, so sug 
gestive of a vanished epoch and withal so pic 
turesque! Even if you are unfortunate enough 
to "tour" in a motor-car, which of course is far 
from the ideal way to savor the countryside, still 
you cannot miss the old house on the bend, even 
though you do miss the feel of the land, the rise 
and dip of the road, the fragrance of the clematis 
by the wall, the already fading gold of the evening 
primroses when you start off after breakfast. 

Even for a motorist, however, the old house 
on the bend stands up to view, especially if you 
are on the front seat with the driver. The car 
swings into a straightaway, lined, perhaps, with 
sugar-maples and gray stone walls. Between the 
trunks are vistas of the green fields and far hills. 
But the chief vista is up the white perspective 
of the road, which seems to vanish dire6Uy into 
the front door of the solid, mouse- gray house 
on the bend. 



The Old House on the Bend 1 8 1 

The ribbon of road rushes toward you, as if 
a great spool under your wheels were winding it 
up. The house rushes on with it; grows nearer; 
details emerge. You see the great square chim 
ney; the tiny window-panes, six to a sash, some 
of them turned by time, not into the purple of 
Beacon Hill but into a kind of prismatic sheen 
like oil on water; the bit of classic egg-and-dart 
border on the door-cap; the aged texture of the 
weathered clapboard; the graceful arch of the 
wide woodshed entrance, on the kitchen side; 
the giant elm rising far above the roof. You 
rush on so near to the house, indeed, that the 
car seems in imminent danger of colliding with 
the front door, when suddenly the wheels bite 
the road, you feel the pull of centrifugul force, 
and the car swings away at right angles, leaving 
an end view of the ancient dwelling behind you, 
so that when you turn for a final glance you see 
the long slant of the roof at the rear, going down 
within six or eight feet of the ground. 

Such is the view from the motor-car. If you 
are traveling on foot, however, there is much 
more to be observed, such as the great doorstep 
made from a broken millstone, the gigantic ram 
bler by the kitchen window, the tiger-lilies gone 
wild in the dooryard, and above all, the view 
from the front windows. Since the house was 
visible far up the road, conversely a long stretch 
of the road is visible from the house. Standing 



1 82 The Old House on the *Bend 

in front of it, you can see a motor or wagon 
approaching a mile away, and from the end 
windows, too, can be seen all approaching vehi 
cles from the other angle. Moreover, if you lived 
within, you could not only see who was coming, 
but you could step out of your door a pace or 
two and converse with him as he passed. The 
old house is strategically placed. 

When it was built, a century or even a cen 
tury and a half ago, no motors went by on that 
road, and not enough of any kind of traffic to 
raise a dust. The busy town to the south, the 
summer resort to the north, were alike small 
villages, given over to agriculture. There were 
no telephones, no newspapers even. Fortunate 
indeed was the man whose farm abutted on a 
bend, for there he could set his house, close to 
the road, viewing the approaches in either direc 
tion, and no traveler could get by him, or at any 
rate by his wife, without yielding the latest gos 
sip from the town above or below, perhaps from 
the greater world beyond. The highroad was 
then the sole artery of commerce, of communi 
cation, of intercourse of man with man. 

How neighborly was the house on the bend, 
shedding its parlor-candle rays like a beacon by 
night down the mile of straightaway, or flapping 
its chintz curtains in the June sunshine! What a 
testimony it is, in its present gray ruin, to the hu 
man hunger for news and gossip and friendliness! 



The Old House on the ^end 183 

The old order has changed, indeed. We no 
longer build on the bend. We don t have bends 
if we can help it. They are dangerous and hard 
to maintain. A house on one would be uninhab 
itable with the dust. We do not seek the neigh- 
borliness of the road, but retire as far as we can 
to the back of our lot, with our telephone and 
newspaper. The old house on the bend now 
stands deserted. From country estates dimly seen 
in their remote privacy of trees and gardens, the 
stone highway leads to other estates equally re 
mote and scornful of publicity. Between them 
the motors rush. The old house is dusty and 
falling into ruin, and every passing car kicks up 
some bit of crushed stone into its tangled door- 
yard. It looks pathetically down the road with 
unseeing eyes, the last relic of a vanishing order. 




Concerning Hat-trees 

IT is well sometimes, when we are puffed up 
with our achievements as a race, our conquest 
of the elements, our building of mighty bridges 
and lofty sky-scrapers, our invention of wireless 
telegraphy and horseless carriages and aeroplanes 
and machine guns and secret diplomacy and 
wage slavery and war, it is well to indulge in 
the chastening reflection that there are still some 
things we cannot achieve. We may reflect that 
the appleless Eden has not yet been discovered, 
or that the adtor without vanity is yet unborn, 
or the "treasonless" Senate yet unassembled. 
My own method is to reflect that the ideal hat- 
tree has never been constructed. 

At present I have no hat-tree, because I live in 
an old farm house where there is a square piano 
and a hall closet, and we don t need one. In New 
York I never had one, either, because there is 
never room in the hall-way of a modern appart- 
ment both for a hat-tree and a passage-way. But 
occasionally I visit at the homes of friends who 
boast one of these arboreal adornments, and re- 



Concerning Hat-trees 185 

new my acquaintance with the species. I was 
to take a walk with one of these friends the 
other day. 

"Wait/ he said, pausing in the hall, "till I 
get a pair of gloves/ Stooping over, he pulled 
at the hat-tree drawer. First is stuck on one 
side; then it stuck on the other side; then it 
yielded altogether, without warning. My friend 
sat down on the floor, the ridiculously shallow 
drawer in his hand, between his feet a sorry 
array of the odds and ends of the outside toilet, 
broken hat pins, old veils, buttons, winter 
gloves rolled into wads, old gloves, new gloves, 
gloves pulled off in a hurry with the fingers in 
side out, dirty white gloves belonging to his 
charming sister. I turned away, feeling that I 
gazed on a domestic exposure. My friend spoke 
softly to the drawer. 

"Sh!" said I, "your family! Put the drawer 
back." 

"I will not put it back," he said. "We would 
never get started. Let the " 

Again I cautioned him, and we set out on 
our walk leaving the litter on the floor; and as 
we tramped through the marvelous sky-scraper 
wilderness which is Manhattan, we talked of 
hat-trees, and the futility of human effort, and 
sighed for a new Carlyle to write the philosophy 
of the hat-tree drawer. 



1 86 Concerning Hat-trees 

How well I remembered the hat-tree that 
sheltered my caps in youth, beneath the pro 
tecting foliage of the paternal greatcoat and the 
maternal bonnet! I did not always use it; the 
piano was more convenient, or the floor. But 
there it stood in the hall in all its black-walnut 
impressive ugliness, with side racks for um 
brellas, and square, metal drip-pans always full 
of the family rubbers. There was a mirror in the 
centre, so high I had to climb three stairs to see 
how uncle s hat fitted my small head. There 
were pegs up both sides; but, as is the way with 
hat-trees, only the top ones were useful; what 
ever was hung on them buried everything be 
low. The only really safe place was the peak 
on top, just above the carved face of Minerva. 
Sometimes the paternal greatcoat lovingly carried 
off the maternal shawl of a morning, which 
would be found later somewhere between the 
door and the station. And this hat-tree also had 
a drawer, of course. There was the rub, indeed! 

Summer or winter, wet or dry, that drawer 
always stuck. It had but one handle, a ring 
in the middle. First one side would come out 
too far, and you would knock it back and pull 
again. Then the other side would come out 
too far, and you would knock that back. Then 
both sides, by diabolical agreement, would sud 
denly work as on greased ways, and you stood 
with an astonishingly shallow drawer dangling 



Concerning Hat-trees 187 

from your finger, its long-accumulated contents 
spread on the floor. The shock usually sent 
down two derbies and a bonnet to add to the con 
fusion. When you had gathered up the litter and 
stuffed it back, wondering how so small a space 
ever held so much, the still harder task con 
fronted you of putting the drawer in its grooves 
again. Sometimes you succeeded; more often 
you left it "for mother to do" that depended 
on your temper and the time of your train. The 
drawer was a charnel-house of gloves and mittens 
and veils. When you cut your finger you were 
sent to it to get a "cot", and it had a peculiar 
smell of its own, the smell of the hat-tree 
drawer. A whiff of old gloves still brings that 
odor back to me, out of childhood, stirring 
memories of little garments worn long ago, of 
a great blue cape that was a pride to my father s 
heart and a wound to my mother s pride, but 
most of all of lost temper and incipient profanity 
caused by the baulky drawer. 

My friend s recollections but supplemented 
and reinforced my own. We called to mind 
other hat-trees in houses where we had visited, 
and one and all they were alike perverse, ridicu 
lous, ill-adapted for their mission in life. We 
thought of various substitutes for the hat-tree, 
such as a pole with pegs in it, which tips over 
when the preponderance of weight is hung on 
one side; the cluster of pegs on a frame sus- 



1 88 Concerning Hat-trees 

pended from the wall like a picture, while a 
painted drain-pipe courts umbrellas in a corner; 
a long, low table (only possible in a palatial hall) 
on which the garments are placed by the butler 
in assorted piles, so that you feel like asking him 
for a check; the settle, often disastrous to hats. 
We found none of them satisfactory, though they 
eliminate the perils of the drawer. 

Only the wooden pegs which were driven in 
a horizontal row into the board walls of grand 
father s back entry ever approximated the ideal. 
But such a reversion to primitive principles 
would now be considered out of the question, 
even in my farm house by the farmer s wife, at 
least. The problem of a satisfactory hat-tree, 
which baffled the genius of Chippendale, is still 
unsolved in Grand Rapids, and it probably will 
remain unsolved to the end of time, unless Eden 
should be found again, where the hat-tree is the 
least of the arboreal troubles. 




"The Shrinking oflQngmaris Field 

"Ir WAS rats," said I. 

"It was warts," said Old Hundred. 

"I know it was rats, I tell you," I continued, 
"because my uncle Eben knew a man who did 
it. His house was full of rats, so he wrote a 
very polite note to them, setting forth that, 
much as he enjoyed their excellent society, the 
house was too crowded for comfort, and telling 
them to go over to the house of a certain neigh 
bor, who had more room and no children nor 
cats. And the rats all went." 

Old Hundred listened patiently. "That s 
precisely right," said he, "except it must have 
been warts. You have to be polite, and also tell 
them where to go. You rub the warts with a 
bean, wrap the bean up in the note, and burn 
both, or else throw them in the well. In a few 
days the warts will leave you and appear on the 
other fellow. My grandfather, when he was 
a boy, got warts that way, so he licked the 
other boy." 

"Rats!" said I. 

"No, warts," persisted Old Hundred. 



190 The Shrinking of Kingmari s Field 

So that was how we two aging and urbanized 
codgers came to leave the comfortable club for 
the Grand Central Station, whence we sent 
telegrams to our families and took train for the 
rural regions north-eastward. The point had to 
be settled. Besides, I stumped Old Hundred to 
go, and he never could refuse a stump. 
, But Old Hundred was fretful on the journey. 
We called him Old Hundred years ago, because 
he always proposed that tune at Sunday evening 
meetings, when the leader "called for hymns." 
I address him as Old Hundred still, though he 
is a learned lawyer in line for a judgeship. He 
was fretful, he said, because we were sure to be 
terribly disillusioned. But he is not a man ac 
customed in these later years to a 61 on impulse, 
and the prospect of a night on a sleeping car, 
without pajamas, did not, I fancy, appeal to him, 
now that he faced it from the badly ventilated 
car aisle, instead of the club easy-chair. Yet per 
haps he did dread the disillusionment, too. It 
was always I, even when we were boys, who 
loved an adventure for its own sake, quite apart 
from the pleasure or pain of it taking a su 
preme delight, in fact, in melancholy. I have 
still a copy of Moore s poems, stained with tears 
and gingerbread. Some of the happiest hours of 
my childhood were spent in weeping over this 
book, especially over "Go Where Glory Waits 
Thee," which affected me with an incompre- 



The Shrining of Kingmarf s Field 191 

hensible but poignant woe. Accordingly it was I 
who rose cheerful in the morning and piloted a 
gloomy companion to breakfast and a barber, 
and so across Boston to the dingy station where 
dingy, dirty cars of ancient vintage awaited, and 
in one of which we rode, with innumerble stops, 
to a spot off the beaten tracks of travel, but 
which bore a name that thrilled us. 

When we alighted from the train, a large 
factory greeted our vision, across the road from 
the railway station. We walked up a faintly fa 
miliar street to the village square. There we 
paused, with wry faces. Six trolley lines con 
verged in its centre, and out of the surrounding 
country were rolling in great cars, as big almost 
as Pullmans. All the magnificent horse-chestnut 
trees that once lined the walks were down, to 
expose more brazenly to view the rows of taw 
dry little shops. These trees had once furnished 
shade and ammunition. I had to smile at the 
sign above the new fish-market 

IF IT SWIMS WE HAVE IT. 

But there was no smile on Old Hundred s face. 
Here and there, rising behind the little stores 
and lunch rooms, we could detect the tops of the 
old houses, pushed back by commerce. But most 
of the houses had disappeared altogether. Only 
the old white meeting-house at the head of the 
common looked down benignly, unchanged. 



192 The Shrinking of Kingmarf s Field 

"The trail of the trolley is over it all!" Old 
Hundred murmured, as we hastened northward, 
out of the village. 

After we had walked some distance, Old Hun 
dred said, "It ought to be arouud here soriie- 
where, to the right of the road. I can t make 
anything out, for these new houses." 

"There was a lane down to it," said I, "and 
woods beyond." 

"Sure," he cried, "Kingman s woods; and it 
was called Kingman s field." 

I sighted the ruins of a lane, between two 
houses. " Come on down to Kingman s, fellers," 
I shouted, "an choose up sides!" 

Old Hundred followed my lead. We were in 
the middle of a potato patch, in somebody s back 
yard. It was very small. 

"This ain t Kingman s," wailed Old Hundred, 
lasping into bad grammer in his grief. "Why, 
it took an awful paste to land a home run over 
right field into the woods! And there ain t no 
woods!" 

There weren t. Nevertheless, this was King 
man s field. "See," said I, trying to be cheerful, 
"here s where home was." And I rooted up a 
potato sprout viciously. "You and Bill Nichols 
always chose up. You each put a hand round 
a bat, alternating up the stick, for the first choice. 
The one who could get his hand over the top 
enough to swing the bat round his head three 



The Shrining ofKingmarfs Field 193 

times, won, and chose Goodknocker Pratt. First 
was over there where the wall isn t any more." 

"Remember the time we couldn t find my 
Junior League / said Old Hundred, "and Good- 
knocker dreamed it was in a tree, and the next 
day we looked in the trees, and there it was? I 
wonder what ever became of old Goodknocker?" 

He moved toward first base. The woods had 
been ruthlessly cut down, and the wall dragged 
away in the process. We climbed a knoll, through 
the stumps and dead stuff. At the top was a 
snake bush. 

"Here s something, anyhow," said Old Hun 
dred. "You were Uncas and I was Hawk Eye, 
and we defended this snake bush from Bill s 
crowd of Iroquois. We made shields out of bar 
rel heads, and spears out of young pine-tree tops. 
Wow, how they hurt!" 

"About half a mile over is the swamp where 
the traps were," said I. "Let s go. Maybe there s 
something in one of em." 

"Then times would be changed," said he, 
smiling a little. 

We walked a few hundred feet, and there was 
the swamp, quite dried up without the protection 
of the woods, a tangle of dead stuff, and in plain 
view of half a dozen houses. "Why " cried Old 
Hundred, "it was miles away from anything!" 

I looked at him, a woeful figure, clad in im 
maculate clothes, with gray gloves, a cane in his 

14 



194 The Shrinking of Kingman s Field 

hand. " You ought to be wearing red mittens," 
said I, "and carrying that old shot-gun, with the 
ramrod bent." 

"The ramrod was always bent," said he. "It 
kept getting caught in twigs, or falling out. Gee, 
how she kicked! Remember the day I got the 
rabbit down there on the edge of the swamp? 
It made the snow all red, poor little thing. I 
guess I wasn t so pleased as I expected to be." 

"I remember the day you didn t get the wood 
pussy soon enough," I answered. 

Just then a whistle shrieked. "Good Lord," 
said Old Hundred," there s one of those infer 
nal trolleys! It must go right up the turnpike, 
past Sandy." 

"Let s take it!" I cried. 

He looked at me savagely. "We ll walk!" 
he said. 

"But it s miles and miles," I remonstrated. 

"Nevertheless," said he, "we ll walk." 

It was difficult to find the short cut in this 
tangle of slaughtered forest, but we got back to 
the road finally, coming out by the school-house. 
At least, we came out by a little shallow hole in 
the ground, half filled with poison-ivy and fire- 
weed, and ringed by a few stones. We paused 
sadly by the ruins. 

"I suppose the trolly takes the kids into the 
village now," said I. "Centralization, you know." 



The Shrinking of Kingmarf s Field 195 

"There used to be a great stove in one corner, 
and the pipe went all across the room," Old 
Hundred was saying, as if to himself. "If you 
sat near it, you baked; if you didn t, you froze. 
Do you remember Miss Campbell? What was it 
we used to sing about her? Oh, yes 

Three little mice ran up the stairs 
To hear Biddy Campbell say her prayers ; 
And when they heard her say Amen, 
The three little mice ran down again. 

And, gee but you were the punk speller! Re 
member how there was always a spelling match 
Friday afternoons? I ll never forget the day you 
fell down on nausea/ You d lasted pretty well 
that day, for you; everybody d gone down but 
you and Myrtie Swett and me and one or two 
more. But when Biddy CampbeU put that word 
up to you, you looked it, if you couldn t spell it!" 

"Hum," said I, "I wouldn t rub it in, if I 
were you. I seem to recall a public day when 
old Gilman Temple, the committee man, asked 
you what was the largest bird that flies, and you 
said, The Kangaroo. " 

Old Hundred grinned. " That s the day the 
new boy laughed," said he. "Remember the 
new boy? I mean the one that wore the derby 
which we used to push down over his eyes? 
Sometimes in the yard one of us would squat 



196 The Shrinking of King man s Field 

behind him, and then somebody else would push 
him over backward. We made him walk Span 
ish, too. But after that public day he and I went 
way down to the horse-sheds behind the meeting 
house in the village, and had it out. I wonder 
why we always fought in the holy horse-sheds? 
The ones behind the town hall were never used 
for that purpose/ 

This was true, but I couldn t explain it. "We 
couldn t always wait to get to the horse-sheds, 
as I remember it," said I. "Sometimes we couldn t 
wait to get out of sight of school." 

I began hunting the neighborhood for the hide- 
and-seek spots. The barn and the carriage-shed 
across the road were still there, with cracks yawn 
ing between the mouse-gray boards. The shed 
was also ideal for "Anthony over." And in the 
pasture behind the school stood the great boul 
der, by the sassafras tree. "I ll bet you can t 
count out," said I. 

"Pooh!" said Old Hundred. He raised his 
finger, pointed it at an imaginary line of boys 
and girls, and chanted 

"Acker, backer, soda cracker, 

Acker, backer, boo! 
If yer father chews terbacker, 
Out goes you. 

And now you re it," he finished pointing at me. 



The Shrinking ofKingmarfs Field 197 

I was not to be outdone. "Ten, twenty, thirty, 
forty, " I began to mumble. Then, "One 
thousand!" I shouted. 

"Bushel o wheat and a bushel o rye, 
All t aint hid, holler knee high!" 

I looked for a stick, stood it on end, and let it 
fall. It fell toward the boulder. "You re up in 
the sassafras tree," I said. 

"No," said Old Hundred, "that s Benny." 

Then we looked at each other and laughed. 

"You poor old idiot," said Old Hundred. 

"You doddering imbecile," said I, "come on 
up to Sandy." 

Somehow, it wasn t far to Sandy. It used to 
be miles. We passed by Myrtie Swett s house 
on the way. It stood back from the turnpike 
just as ever, with its ample doorway, its great 
shadowing elms, its air of haughty well-being. 
Myrtie, besides a prize speller, was something 
of a social queen. She was very beautiful and 
she affefted ennui. 

"Oh, dear, bread and beer, 
If I was home I shouldn t be here!" 

she used to say at parties, with a tired air that 
was the secret envy of the other little girls, who 
were unable to conceal their pleasure at being 
"here." However, Myrtie never went home, 
we noticed. Rather did she take a leading part 



198 The Shrinking of Kingman s Field 

in every game of Drop- the -hankerchief, Post 
Office, or Copenhagen tinglingly thrilling 
games, with unknown possibilities of a senti 
mental nature. 

"If I thought she still lived in the old place, 
I d go up and tell her I had a letter for her," 
said Old Hundred. 

"She d probably give you a stamp," I replied. 

"Not unless she s changed!" he grinned. 

But we saw no signs of Myrtie. Several chil 
dren played in the yard. There was the face of 
a strange woman at the window, a very plain 
woman, who looked old, as she peered keenly 
at the two urban passers. 

"It cant be Myrtie!" I heard Old Hundred 
mutter, as he hastened on. 

Sandy was almost the most wonderful spot in 
the world. It was, as most swimming holes are, 
on the down-stream side of a bridge. The little 
river widened out, on its way through the mead 
ows, here and there into swimming holes of 
greater or less desirability. There was Lob s 
Pond, by the mill, and Deep Pool, and Musk 
Rat, and Little Sandy. But Sandy was the best 
of them all. It was shaded on one side by great 
trees, and the banks were hidden from the road 
by alder screens. At one end there was a shelv 
ing bottom, of clean sand, where the "little kids" 
who couldn t swim sported in safety. Under the 
opposite bank the water ran deep for diving. And 



"The Shrinking of Kingmans Field 1 99 

in mid-stream the pool was so very deep that no 
body had ever been able to find bottom there. 
In the other holes, you could hold your hands 
over your head and go down till your feet touched, 
without wetting your fingers. But not the long 
est fish-line had ever been long enough to plumb 
Sandy s depths. Indeed, it was popularly believed 
that there was no bottom in Sandy, and a myth 
ical horn pout, of gigantic proportions, was sup 
posed to inhabit its dark, watery abysses. 

Old Hundred and I stood on the bridge and 
looked down on a little pool. "I could jump 
across it now," he sighed. "But I wish it were 
a warmer day. I d go in, just the same. 

There was a honk up the road, and a touring 
car jolted over the boards behind us, with a load 
of veils and goggles. The dust sifted through 
the bridge, and we heard it patter on the water 
below. 

"I fancy there s more travel now," said I. 
"And the alder screen seems to be gone. Per 
haps we d better not go in." 

Old Hundred leaned pensively over the white 
rail the sign of a State highway; for the dusty 
old Turnpike was now converted into a gray 
strip of macadam road, torn by the automobiles, 
with a trolley track at one side. 

"There s a lucky bug on the water," he said 
presently. "If we were in now, we might catch 
him, and make our fortunes." 



2OO The Shrinking of Kingman s Field 

"And get our clothes tied up," said I. 

"As I recall it, you were the prize beef 
chawer," he remarked. "I never could see why 
you didn t go into vaudeville, in a Houdini acl:. 
I used to soak the knots in your shirt and dry 
em, and soak em again; but you always untied 
em, often without using your teeth, either." 

"You couldn t, though," I grinned. 

"Charlo beef, 
The beef was tough, 
Poor Old Hundred 
Couldn t get enough! 

"How many times have you gone home bare 
foot, with your stockings and your undershirt, 
in a wet knot, tied to your fish-pole?" 

"Not many," said he. 

"What?" said I. 

"It wasn t often that I wore stockings and 
an undershirt in swimming season," he an 
swered. "Don t you remember being made to 
soak your feet in a tub on the back porch be 
fore going to bed, and going fast asleep in the 
process?" 

"If you put a horse hair in water, it will turn 
to a snake," I replied, irrelevantly. 

"Anybody knows that," said Old Hundred. 
"If you toss a fish back in the water before 
you re done fishing, you won t get any more 
bites, because he ll go tell all the other fish. Bet 



The Shrinking of Kingman s Field 201 

yer I can swim farther under the water n you 
can. Come on, it isn t very cold." 

I looked hesitantly at the pool. 

"Stump yer!" he taunted. 

I started for the bank. But just then the 
trolley wire, which we had quite forgotten, be 
gan to buzz. We paused. Up the pike came 
the car. It stopped just short of the bridge, by 
a cross-road, and an old man alighted. Then it 
moved on, shaking more dust down upon the 
brown water. The old man regarded us a mo 
ment, and instead of turning up the cross-road, 
came over to us. 

!"Know him?" I whispered.) 
"Is it Hen Flint, that used to drive the meat 
wagon with the white top?" said Old Hundred* 
"Lord, is it so many years ago!") 

"How are you, Mr. Flint?" said I. 

"Thot I didn t mistake ye," said the old man, 
putting out a large, thin, but powerful hand. 
"Whar be ye now, Noo York? Come back to 
look over the old place, eh? I reckon ye find it 
some changed. Don t know it myself, hardly. 
You look like yer ma; sorter got her peak face." 

"Where s the swimming hole now?" asked 
Old Hundred. 

"I don t calc late thar be any," said the old 
man. "The gol durn trolley an the automobiles 
spiled the pool here, an the mill-pond s no good 
since they tore down the mill, an bust the dam. 



202 The Shrinking of Kingman s Field 

Maybe the little fellers git their toes wet down 
back o Bill Flint s; I see em splashin round 
thar hot days. But the old fellers have to wash 
in the kitchen, same s in winter." 

"But the boys must swim somewhere/ said I. 

"I presume likely they go to the beaches/ 
said Henry Flint. "I see em ridin off in the 
trolley." 

"Yes," said I, "it must be easy to get any 
where now, with the trolleys so thick." 

"It s too durn easy," he commented. "Thar 
hain t a place ye can t git to, though why ye 
should want to git thar beats me. Mostly puts 
high-flown notions in the women-folks heads, 
and vegetable gardens on em." 

He shook hands again, lingeringly. "Yer fa 
ther wus a fine man," he said to Old Hundred 
"a fine man. I sold yer ma meat before you 
wus born." 

Then he moved rather feebly away, down the 
cross-road. Presently a return trolley approached. 

"Curse the trolleys!" exclaimed Old Hun 
dred. They go everywhere and carry every 
body. They spoil the country roads and ruin 
the country houses and villages. Where they go, 
cheap loafing places, called waiting-rooms, spring 
up, haunted by flies, rotten bananas and village 
muckers. They trail peanut shells, dust and 
vulgarity; and they make all the country-side a 
back yard of the city. Let s take this one." 



The Shrinking of Kingmarf s Field 203 

We passed once more the hole where the 
school had been, and drew near a cross-road. 
I looked at Old Hundred, he at me. He nodded, 
and we signalled the conductor. The car stopped. 
We alighted and turned silently west, pursued 
by peering eyes. After a few hundred feet the 
cross-road went up a rise and round a bend, and 
the new frame houses along the Turnpike were 
shut from view. Over the brambled wall we saw 
cows lying down in a pasture. 

"It s going to rain/ said I. 

"No," said Old Hundred, "that s only a sign 
when they lie down first thing in the morn- 
ing." 

Then we were silent once more. Into the west 
the land, the rocky, rolling, stubborn, beautiful 
New England country-side, lay familiar how fa 
miliar! to our eyes. To the left, back among the 
oaks and hickories, stood a solid, simple house, 
painted yellow with green blinds. To the right al 
most opposite was a smaller house of white, with 
an orchard straggling up to the back door. And 
in one of them I was born, and in the other Old 
Hundred. Down the road was another house, 
a deep red, half hidden in the trees. Smoke 
was rising from the chimney now, and drifting 
rosily against the first flush of sunset. 

"Betsy s getting Cap n Charles s supper," said 
Old Hundred. 



204 The Shrining ofKlngmans Field 

"Then Betsy s about one hundred and six," 
said I, "and the Cap n one hundred and ten. 
Oh, John, it was a long, long time ago!" 

"It doesn t seem so," he answered. "It seems 
only yesterday that we met up there in your 
grove on Hallow-e en to light our jack-lanterns, 
and crept down the road in the cold white moon 
light to poke them up at Betsy s window. Re 
member when she caught us with the pail of 
water?" 

"I remember," said I, "the time you put a 
tack in the seat of Cap n Charles s stool, in his 
little shoemaker s shop out behind the house, and 
he gave you five cents, to return good for evil; 
so the next day you did it again, in the hope of 
a quarter, but he decided there were times when 
the Golden Rule is best honored in the breach, 
and gave you a walloping." 

"It was some walloping, too," said Old Hun 
dred, with a reminiscent grin. "It would be a 
good time now," he added, "to swipe melons, if 
Betsy s getting supper. Though I believe she had 
all those melon stems connected with an auto 
matic burglar-alarm in the kitchen. She ought 
to have taken out a patent on that invention!" 

He looked about him, first at his house, then 
at mine. "How small the orchard is now," he 
mused. "The trees are like little old women. 
And look at Crow s Nest it used to be a hun 
dred feet high." 



The Shrinking of Kingman s Field 205 

The oak he pointed at still bore in its upper 
branches the remains of our tree-top retreat, a 
rotted beam or two straddling a crotch. " Peter 
Pan should rebuild it," said I. "I shall drop a 
line to Wendy. Do you still hesitate to turn 
over in bed?" 

"Always," Old Hundred confessed. "I do turn 
over now, but it was years before I could bring 
myself to do it. I wonder where we got that su 
perstition that it brought bad luck? If we woke 
in the night, up in Crow s Nest, and wanted 
to shift our positions, we got up and walked 
around the foot of the mattress, so we could 
lie on the other side without turning over. Re 
member?" 

I nodded. Then the well-curb caught my eye. 
It was over the well we dug where old Solon 
Perkins told us to. Solon charged three dollars 
for the advice. He came with a forked elm 
twig, cut green, and holding the prongs tightly 
wrapped round his hands so that the base of the 
twig stuck out straight, walked back and fourth 
over the place, followed by my father and mother, 
and Old Hundred s father and mother, and Cap n 
Charles and Betsy, and all the boys for a mile 
around, silently watching for the miracle. Fi 
nally the base of the twig bent sharply down. 
"Dig there," said Solon. He examined the twig 
to see if the bark was twisted. It was, so he 
added, "Bent hard. Won t have ter dig more n 



206 The Shrining of Kingmarf s Field 

ten foot." We dug twenty-six, but water came. 
And such water! 

"I want some of that water," said I. "I 
don t want to go into the house; I don t even 
know who lives in it now. But I must have 
some of that water." 

We went up to the well and lowered the 
bucket, which slid bounding down against the 
cool stones till it hit the depths with a dull 
splash. As we were drinking, an old man came 
peering out of the house. Old Hundred recog 
nized him first. 

"Well, Clarkie Poor, by all that s holy!" he 
cried. "We ve come to get our hair cut." 

Clarkson Poor blinked a bit before recogni 
tion came. "Yes," he said, "I bought the old 
place a couple o year back, arter them city folks 
you sold it to got sick on it. Too fer off the trol 
ley line for them. John s house over yon some 
noo comers a got. They ain t changed it none. 
This is about the only part o town that ain t 
changed, though. Most o the old folks is gone, 
too, and the young uns, like you chaps, all git 
ambitious fer the cities. I give up cuttin hair 
bout three year back got kinder onsteady an 
cut too many ears." 

A sudden smile broke over Old Hundred s 
face. "Clarkie," he said, "you were always up 
on such things is it rats or warts that you write 
a note to when you want em to go away?" 



The Sbrinfyng ofKingmarfs Field 207 

"Yes, it s rats, isn t it?" I cried, also reminded, 
for the first time, of our real quest. 

"Why," said Clarkie, "you must be sure to 
make the note very particular perlite, and tell 
em whar to go. Don t fergit that." 

"Yes, yes," said we, "but is it warts or rats?" 

"Well," said Clarkie, "it s both." 

We looked one at the other, and grinned rather 
sheepishly. 

"Only thar s a better way fer warts," Clarkie 
went on. "I knew a boy once who sold his. 
That s the best way. Yer don t have actually 
to sell em. Just git another feller to say, I ll 
give yer five cents fer yer warts, and you say, 
All right, they re yourn/ and then they go. 
Fad." 

We thanked him, and moved down to the 
road, declining his invitation to come into the 
house. Westward, the sun had gone down and 
left the sky a glowing amber and rose. The fields 
rolled their young green like a checkered carpet 
over the low hills the sweet, familiar hills. For 
an instant, in the hush of gathering twilight, 
we stood there silent and bridged the years; 
wiping out the strife, the toil, the ambitions, we 
were boys again. 

"Hark!" said Old Hundred, softly. Down 
through the orchard we heard the thin, sweet 
tinkle of a cow-bell. "There s a boy behind, 
with the peeled switch," he added, "looking 



208 The Shrinking ofKingman s Field 

dreamily up at the first star, and wishing on it 
wishing for a lot of things he ll never get. But 
Fm sure he isn t barefoot. Let s go." 

As we passed down the turnpike, between the 
rows of cheap frame houses, we saw, in the in 
creasing dusk, the ruins of a lane, and the corner 
of a small, back-yard potato patch, that had been 
Kingman s field. We hastened through the noisy, 
treeless village, and boarded the Boston train, 
rather cross for want of supper. 

"I wonder," said Old Hundred, as we moved 
out of the station, "whether we d better go to 
Young s or the Parker House?" 




*%Cumblety-peg and^Ciddk 

OLD HUNDRED and I were taking our Saturday 
afternoon walk in the country that is, in such 
suburbanized country as we could achieve in the 
neighborhood of New York. We had passed in 
numerable small boys and not a few small girls, 
but save for an occasional noisy group on a base 
ball diamond none of them seemed to be playing 
any definite games. 

"Did we use to wander aimlessly round that 
way?" asked Old Hundred. 

"We did not," said I. "If it wasn t marbles 
in spring or tops in autumn it was duck-on-the- 
rock or stick-knife or " 

"Only we didn t call it stick-knife," said Old 
Hundred, "we called it mumblety-peg." 

"We called it stick-knife," said I. 

"Your memory is curiously bad," said Old 
Hundred. "You are always forgetting about these 
important matters. It was mumblety-peg." 

"My memory bad!" I sniffed. "I suppose 
you think I ve forgotten how I always licked 
you at stick-knife?" 

15 



2 1 o *%Cuinblety-pg and <3&iddle 

Old Hundred grinned. Old Hundred s grin, 
to-day as much as thirty years ago, is a mask 
for some coming trouble. He always grinned 
before he sailed into the other fellow, which 
was an effective way to catch the other fellow 
off his guard. I presume he grins now before 
he cross-questions a witness. Til play you a 
game right now," he said softly. 

"You re on," said I. 

We selected a spot of clean, thin turf behind a 
roadside fence. It was in reality a part of some 
body s yard, but it was the best we could do. I still 
carry a pocket-knife of generous proportions, to 
whittle with when we go for a walk, and this I pro 
duced and opened, handing it to Old Hundred. 
"Now begin," said I, as we squatted down. 

He held the knife somewhat gingerly, first by 
the blade, then by the handle. "Wha what do 
you do first?" he finally asked. 

"Do?" said I. "Don t you remember?" 

"No," he replied, "and neither do you." 

"Give me the knife," I cried. I relied on the 
feel of it in my hand to awaken a dormant mus 
cular memory to help me out. But no muscular 
memory was stirred. Old Hundred watched me 
with a smile. "Begin, begin!" he urged. 

"Let s see," said I, "I think you took it first 
by the tip of the blade, this way, and made it 
stick up." I threw the knife. It stuck, but al 
most lay upon the ground. 



*Jumblety-peg and zJ&iddle *Age 2 1 1 

"You ve got to get two fingers under it," said 
Old Hundred. He tried, but there wasn t room. 
"You fail," he cried. "There s a point for me." 

"Not till you ve made it stick," said I. 

We grew interested in our game. We threw 
the knife from our nose and chin, we dropped 
it from our forehead, we jumped it over our 
hand, we half-closed the blade and tossed it 
that way, and finally, when the talley was reck 
oned up in my favor, I began to look about for a 
stick to whittle into the peg. 

Old Hundred rose and dusted his clothes. 
"Here," I cried. "You re not done yet!" 

"Oh, yes I am!" he answered. 

"Quitter, quitter, quitter!" I taunted. 

"That may be," said he, "but a learned lawyer 
of forty-five with a dirty mug is rather more 
self-conscious than a boy of ten. I ll buy you 
a dinner when we get to town." 

"Oh, very well," said I, peevishly, "but I 
didn t think you d so degenerated. I ll let you 
off if you ll admit it was stick-knife." 

"I ll admit it," said Old Hundred. "I sup 
pose in a minute you ll ask me to admit that 
prisoners -base was relievo." 

"What was relievo, by the way?" I asked. 

"Relievo relievo?" said Old Hundred. 
"Why that was a game we played mostly on 
the ice, up on Birch Meadow, don t you re 
member? When we got tired of hockey, we 



212 *%Cumblety-ptg an 

all put our coats and hockey sticks in a pile, one 
man was It, and the rest tried to skate from a 
distant line around the pile and back. If the 
chap who was It tagged anybody before he got 
around, that chap had to be It with him, and so 
on till everybody was caught. Then the first one 
tagged had to be It for a new start. " 

"I remember that game," said I. "I remem 
ber how Frank White, who could skate like a 
fiend, used to be the last one caught. Sometimes 
he d get around a hundred boys, ducking and 
dodging and taking half a mile of ice to do it, 
but escaping untouched. Sometimes, if there 
weren t many playing, he d go around backwards, 
just to taunt us. But I don t think that game 
was relievo. That doesn t sound like the name 
to me." 

"What was it, then?" said Old Hundred. 

"I don t know," I answered. "It s funny how 
you forget things." 

By this time we were strolling along the road 
again. "Speaking of Birch Meadow," said Old 
Hundred, "what glorious skating we kids used 
to have there! I never go by Central Park in 
winter without pitying the poor New York young 
sters, just hobbling round and round on a half- 
acre pond where the surface is cut up into pow 
der an inch thick, and the crowd is so dense 
you can scarcely see the ice. Shall you ever 
forget that mile-long pond in the woods, not 



<Jumblety-pg and ^Middle ^4ge 2 1 3 

deep enough to drown in anywhere, and frozen 
over with smooth black ice as early as Thanks 
giving Day? How we used to rush to it, up Love 
Lane, as soon as school was out!" 

"Do you remember," said I, "how we passed 
it last year, and found the woods all cut and the 
water drained off?" 

"Don t be a wet blanket," said Old Hundred, 
crossly. "The country has to grow." 

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. 
The mood of memory was on him. I repented 
of my speech. "Yes," I answered. "No doubt 
the country has to grow. The colleges now play 
hockey on ponds made by the fire department. 
But there isn t that thrilling ring to your runners 
nor that long-drawn echo from the wooded 
shores when a crack crosses the ice." 

"I can see it all this minute," said Old Hun 
dred. "I can see my little self like a different 
person [which, indeed, he was!] as one of the 
crowd. We had chosen up sides ten, twenty, 
thirty on a side. Stones, dragged from the shores, 
were put down for goals. Most of us had hockey 
sticks we had cut ourselves in the woods, hickory, 
with a bit of the curved root for the blade. You 
were one of the few boys who could afford a 
store stick. We had a hard rubber ball. Bob 
bie Pratt was always one goal because he had 
big feet. And over the black ice, against the 
sombre background of those cathedral aisles of 



214 <3&umblety-peg an 

white pine, we chased that ball, charging in solid 
ranks so that the ice sagged and protested under 
the rush of our runners, wheeling suddenly, dart 
ing in pursuit of one boy who had snaked the 
ball out from the maze of feet and was flying with 
it toward the goal, all rapid a&ion, panting 
breath, superb life. It really must have been a 
beautiful sight, one of those hockey games. I 
can still hear the ring and roar of the runners 
as the crowd swept down in a charge!" 

I smiled. "And I can still feel the ice when 
somebody s stick got caught between my legs. 
Hi, fellers, come look at the star Willie made! 
I can hear you shouting, as you examined the spot 
where my anatomy had been violently super 
imposed on the skating surface." 

Old Hundred smiled too. "Fine little animals 
we were!" he said. "I suppose one reason why 
we don t see more games nowdays is because we 
live in the city. Even this suburbanized region 
is really city, dirtied all over with its spawn. 
Lord, Bill, think if we d been cramped up in an 
East Side street, or reduced to Central Park for 
a skating pond! A precious lot of reminiscences 
we d have to-day, wouldn t we? They build the 
kids what they call public play-grounds, and 
then they have to hire teachers to teach em 
how to play. Poor beggars, think of having to 
be taught by a grown-up how to play a game! 
They all have a rudimentary idea of base-ball; 



*%Cumblety-peg and <3&iddle tAge 215 

the American spirit and the sporting extras see 
to that. But I never see em playing anything 
else much, not even out here where the suburbs 
smut an otherwise attractive landscape." 

"Perhaps," I ventured, "not only the lack of 
space and free open in the city has something 
to do with it, but the fa6t that the seasons there 
grow and change so unperceived. Games, you 
remember, go by a kind of immutable rotation 
as much a law of childhood as gravitation of the 
universe. Marbles belong to spring, to the first 
weeks after the frost is out of the ground. They 
are a kind of celebration of the season, of the 
return to bare earth. Tops belong to autumn, 
hockey to the ice, base-ball to the spring and 
summer, foot-ball to the cold, snappy fall, and 
I seem to remember that even such games as 
hide-and-seek or puss-in-the-corner were played 
constantly at one period, not at all at another. 
If you played em out of time, they didn t seem 
right; there was no zest to them. Now, most 
of these game periods were determined long ago 
by physical conditions of ground and climate. 
They stem us back to nature. Cramp the young 
sters in the artificial life of a city, and you snap 
this stem. My theory may be wild, all wrong. 
Yet I can t help feeling that our games, which 
we accepted and absorbed as a part of the uni 
verse, as much as our parents or the woods and 
fields, were a part of that nature which sur- 



2 1 6 *yumbltty-peg 

rounded us, linking us with the beginnings of 
the race. Most kids games are centuries upon 
centuries old, they say. I can t help believing 
that for every sky-scraper we erecl: we end the 
life, for thousands of children, of one more game." 

Old Hundred had listened attentively to my 
long discourse, nodding his head approvingly. 
"No doubt, no doubt/ he said. "I shall here 
after regard the Metropolitan Tower as a me 
morial shaft, which ought to bear an inscrip 
tion, Hie jacet, Puss-in-the-corner. Yet I saw 
some poor little duffers on the East Side the 
other day trying to play soak with a tattered old 
ball, which kept getting lost under the push 
carts." 

"They die hard," said I. 

We had by this time come on our walk into 
a group of houses, the outskirts of a town. 
Several small boys were, apparently, aimlessly 
walking about. 

"Why don t they do something," Old Hun 
dred exclaimed, half to himself. "Don t they 
know how, even out here?" 

"Suppose you teach em," I suggested. 

Again Old Hundred grinned. He walked over 
among the small boys, who stopped their talk 
and regarded him silently. " Ever play duck-on- 
the-rock?" he asked, with that curiously embar 
rassed friendliness of the middle-aged man trying 
to make up to boyhood. After a certain period, 



tMumblety-peg and ^Middle *Age 2 1 7 

most of us unconsciously regard a small boy as a 
kind of buzz-saw, to be handled with extreme 
care. 

The boys looked at one another, as if picking 
a spokesman. Finally one of them, a freckle- 
faced, stocky youngster who looked more like a 
country lad than the rest, replied. "They dunno 
how," he said. "They re afraid the stones ll hurt 
em. We used to play it up State all the time." 

"There s your theory," said Old Hundred in 
an aside to me. 

"You re a liar," said one of the other boys. 
"We ain t afraid, are we Bill?" 

"Naw," said Bill. 

"Who s a liar?" said the first speaker, doubling 
his fists. " I ll knock your block off in about a 
minute." 

"Ah, come on an do it, Rube!" taunted the 
other. 

Old Hundred hereupon interfered. "Let s not 
fight, let s play," he said. "If they don t know 
how, we ll teach em, eh Rube? Want to learn, 
boys?" 

They looked at him for a moment with the 
instinctive suspicion of their class, decided in 
his favor, and assented. Like all men, Old Hun 
dred was flattered by this mark of confidence 
from the severest critics in the world. He and 
Rube hunted out a large rock, and placed it on 
the curb. Each boy found his individual duck, 



2 1 8 <^fumblety-peg and ^fiddle 

Old Hundred tried to count out for It, couldn t 
remember the rhyme, and had to turn the job 
over to Rube, who delivered himself of the fol 
lowing: 

"As I went up to Salt Lake 
I met a little rattlesnake, 
He d e t so much of jelly cake, 
It made his little belly ache." 

When It was thus sele&ed, automatically and 
poetically, Old Hundred drew a line in the road, 
parallel to the curb, It put his duck on the 
rock, and the rest started to pitch. Suddenly one 
demon spotted me, a smiling by-stander. "Hi," 
he called, "Old Coattails ain t playin ." 

"Quitter, quitter, quitter!" taunted Old Hun 
dred. 

I started to make some remark about the self- 
consciousness of a learned litterateur of forty-five, 
but my speech was drowned in a derisive howl 
from the buzz-saws. I meekly accepted the in 
evitable, and hunted myself out a duck. 

After ten minutes of madly dashing back to 
the line pursued by those supernaturally active 
young cubs, after stooping again and again to 
pick up my duck, after dodging flying stones and 
sometimes not succeeding, I was quite ready to 
quit. Old Hundred, flushed and perspiring, was 
playing as if his life depended on it. When he 
was tagged, he took his turn as It without a 



and <3fCiddle *Age 219 



murmur. He was one of the kids, and they 
knew it. But finally he, too, felt the pace in 
his bones. We left the boys still playing, quite 
careless of whether we went or stayed. We were 
dusty and hot; our hands were scratched and 
grimed. " Ah ! " said Old Hundred, looking back, 
"I ve accomplished something to-day and had a 
good time doing it! The ungrateful little sav 
ages; they might have said good-bye." 

"Yet you wouldn t pull up the mumblety-peg 
for me," I said. 

"My dear fellow," he replied, "that is quite 
different. To take a dare from a man is childish. 
Not to take a dare from a child is unmanly." 

"You talk like G. K. Chesterton," said I. 

"Which shows that occasionally Chesterton 
is right," said he. "Speaking of dares, I d like 
to see a gang of kids playing dares or follow- 
your-leader right now. Remember how we used 
to play follow-your-leader by the hour? You 
had to do just what he did, like a row of sheep. 
When there were girls in the game, you always 
ended up by turning a somersault, which was a 
subtle jest never to be too much enjoyed." 

"And Alice Perkins used to take that dare, 
too, I remember," said I. 

"Alice never could bear to be stumped," he 
mused. "She s either become a mighty fine 
woman or a bad one. She was the only girl 
we ever allowed to perform in the circuses up 



22O ^hCumblet-e and <3xCiddle 



in your backyard. Often we wouldn t even ad 
mit girls as spectators. Remember the sign you 
painted to that effect? She was the lady trapeze 
artist and bareback rider. You were the bare 
back, as I recall it or was it Fatty Newell? 
Anyhow, one of her stunts was to hang by her 
legs and drink a tumbler of water." 

I felt my muscles. "I wonder," said I, "if 
I could still skin the cat?" 

"I ll bet I can chin myself ten times," said 
Old Hundred. 

We cast about for a convenient limb. There 
was an apple-tree beside the road, with a hori 
zontal limb some eight feet above the ground. 
I tried first. I got myself over all right, till I 
hung inverted, my fountain-pen, pencil, and eye 
glass case falling out of my pocket. But there 
I stuck. There was no strength in my arms to 
pull me up. So I curled clean over and dropped 
to the ground, very red in the face, my clothes 
covered with the powdered apple-tree bark. Old 
Hundred grasped the limb to chin himself. He 
got up once easily, he got up a second time with dif 
ficulty, he got up a third time by an heroic effort, 
the veins standing out on his forehead. The fourth 
time he stuck two inches off the ground. 

" You are old, Father William/" I quoted. 

He rubbed his biceps sadly. "I m out of prac 
tice!" he said with some asperity. But we tried 
no more stunts on the apple-tree. 



221 



Beyond the orchard was a piece of split-rail 
fence, gray and old, with brambles growing at 
the intersections one of the relics of an elder 
day in Westchester County. Old Hundred looked 
at it as he put on his coat. 

" There ought to be a bumblebees nest in that 
fence," he said. "If we should poke the bees 
out we d find honey, nice gritty honey, all over 
rotted wood from our fingers." 

"Are you looking for trouble?" I asked. 
"However, if you hold your breath, a bee can t 
sting you." 

"I recall that ancient superstition with pain," 
he smiled. "Why does a bee have such a fasci 
nation for a boy? Is it because he makes honey?" 

"Not at all; that s a secondary issue. It s be 
cause he s a bee," I answered. "Don t you re 
member the fun of stoning those gray hornets 
nests which used to be built under the school- 
house eaves in summer? We waited till the first 
recess to plug a stone through em, and nobody 
could get back in the door without being stung. 
It was against the unwritten law to stone the 
school-house nests in vacation time!" 

"Recess!" mused Old Hundred. "Do you 
know, sometimes in court when the judge an 
nounces a recess (which he pronounces with the 
accent on the second syllable, a manifest error), 
those old school-days come back to me, and my 
case drops clean out of my head for the moment." 



222 *%Cumbkty-peg 

"I should think that would be embarrassing," 
said I. 

"It isn t," he said, "it s restful. Besides, it 
often restores my mislaid sense of humor. I 
picture the judge out in a school-yard playing 
leap-frog with the learned counsel for the prose 
cution and the foreman of the jury. It makes 
em more human to see em so." 

"A Gilbertian idea, to say the least," I smiled. 
"Why not set the whole court to playing squat- 
tag?" 

"There was step-tag, too," said Old Hundred. 
"Remember that? The boy or girl who was It 
shut his eyes and counted ten. Then he opened 
his eyes suddenly, and if he saw any part of you 
moving you became It. On ten you tried to 
freeze into stiffness. We must have struck some 
funny attitudes." 

"Attitudes," said I, "that was another game. 
Somebody said fear or cat or geography, and 
you had to assume an attitude expressive of the 
word. The girls liked that game." 

"Oh, the girls always liked games where they 
could show off or get personal attention," replied 
Old Hundred. "They liked hide-and-seek be 
cause you came after them, or because you took 
one of em and went off with her alone to hide 
behind the wood-shed. They liked kissing games 
best, though drop -the -handkerchief and post- 
office." 



223 

"Those weren t recess games," I amended. 
"Those were party games. You played them 
when you had your best clothes on, which 
entirely changed your mental attitude, anyhow. 
When a girl dropped the handkerchief behind 
you, you had to chase her and kiss her if you 
could, and when you got a letter in post-office 
you had to go into the next room and be 
kissed. Everybody tittered at you when you 
came back." 

"Well, soak and scrub were recess games, any 
how. I can hear that glad yell, Scrub one! 
rising from the first boy who burst out of the 
school-house door. Then there were dare-base, 
and foot-ball, which we used to play with an 
old bladder, or at best a round, black rubber ball, 
not one of these modern leather lemons. We 
used to kick it, too. I don t remember tackling 
and rushing, till we got older and went to prep 
school or you and I went to prep school." 

"I d hate to have been tackled on the old 
school playground," said I. "It was hard as 
rocks." 

"It was rocks," said Old Hundred. "You 
could spin a top on it anywhere." 

"Could you spin a top now?" I asked. 

"Sure!" said Old Hundred. "And pop at a 
snapper, too." 

"It s wicked to play marbles for keeps," said 
I impressively. "Only the bad boys do that." 



224 <3xCumblety-peg 

Poor mother!" said Old Hundred. "Re 
member the marble rakes we used to make? We 
cut a series of little arches in a board, numbered 
em one, two, three, and so on, and stood the 
board up across the concrete sidewalk down by 
Lyceum Hall. The other kids rolled their mar 
bles from the curb. If a marble went through 
an arch, the owner of the rake had to give the 
boy as many marbles as the number over the 
arch. If the boy missed, the owner took his 
marble. It was very profitable for the owner. 
And my mother found out I had a rake. That 
night it went into the kitchen fire, while I 
was lectured on the awful consequences of gam 
bling. 5 

"I know," said I. "It was almost as terrible 
as sending comic valentines/ Remember the 
comics ? They were horribly colored litho 
graphs of teachers, old maids, dudes, and the 
like, with equally horrible verses under them. 
They cost a penny apiece, and you bought em 
at Damon s drug store. They were so wicked 
that Emily Ruggles wouldn t sell em." 

" Emily Ruggles s!" exclaimed Old Hundred. 
"Shall you ever forget Emily Ruggles s? It was 
in Lyceum Hall building, a little dark store up 
a flight of steps a notion store, I guess they 
called it. To us kids it was just Emily Ruggles s. 
It was full of marbles, tops, scholars compan 
ions, air-guns, sheets of paper soldiers, valentines, 



*3&umblety-peg and Middle *Age 225 

fire-crackers before the Fourth, elastic for sling 
shots, spools, needles and yards of blue calico 
with white dots, which hung over strings above 
the counters. Emily was a dark, heavy-browed 
spinster with a booming bass voice and a stern 
manner, and when you crept, awed and timid, 
into the store she glared at you and boomed out, 
* Which side, young man? Yet her store was a 
kid s paradise. I have often wondered since 
whether she didn t, in her heart, really love us 
youngsters, for all her forbidding manner." 

"Of course she loved us," said I. "She loved 
her country, too. Don t you remember the story 
of how she paid for a substitute in the Civil War, 
because she couldn t go to the front and fight 
herself? Poor woman, she took the only way she 
knew to show her affection for us. She stocked 
her little shop with a deledtable array which 
kept a procession of children pushing open the 
door and timidly yet joyfully entering its dark 
recesses, where bags of marbles and bundles of 
pencils gleamed beneath the canopies of calico. 
Nowadays I never see such shops anymore. I 
don t know whether there are any tops and mar 
bles on the market. One never sees them. Cer 
tainly one never sees nice little shops devoted 
to their sale. Children are not important any 
longer." 

Old Hundred sighed. We walked on in si 
lence, toward the brow of a hill, and presently 

16 



226 *Jumblety-peg and Middle 

the Hudson gleamed below us, while across its 
misty expanse the hills of New Jersey huddled 
into the sinking sun. Old Hundred sat down on 
a stone. 

"I m weary," he said, "and my muscles ache, 
and I m stiff and sore and forty-five. Bill, you re 
getting bald. Wipe your shiny high-brow. You 
look ridiculous." 

"Shut up," said I, "and don t get maudlin 
just because you can t chin yourself ten times. 
Remember, it s because you re out of practice!" 

"Out of practice, out of practice!" he said 
viciously. "A year at Muldoon s wouldn t bring 
me back the thoughtless joy of a hockey game, 
would it? No, nor the delight of playing puss- 
in-the-corner, or following a paper trail through 
the October woods, or yelling Daddy on the 
castle, Daddy on the castle! while we jumped 
on Frank Swain s veranda and off again into his 
mother s flower-bed!" 

"I trust not," said I. "Just what are you get 
ting at?" 

"This," answered Old Hundred: "that I, you, 
none of us, go into things now for the sheer ex 
uberance of our bodies and the sheer delight of 
playing a game. We must have some ulterior 
motive usually a sordid one, getting money or 
downing the other fellow; and most of the time 
we have to drive our poor, old rackety bodies 
with a whip. About the time a man begins to 



*%Mmblety-peg and ^Middle *Age 227 

vote, he begins to disintegrate. The rest of life 
is gradual running down, or breaking up. The 
Hindoos were right/ 

"Old Hundred/ said I, "you are something 
of an idiot. Those games of ours were nature s 
school; nature takes that way to teach us how to 
behave ourselves socially, how to conquer others, 
but mostly how to conquer ourselves. We were 
men-pups, that s all. For Heaven s sake, can t 
you have a pleasant afternoon thinking of your 
boyhood without becoming maudlin?" 

"You talk like a book by G. Stanley Hall," 
retorted Old Hundred. "No doubt our games 
were nature s way of teaching us how to be men, 
but that doesn t alter the fadl that the process of 
being taught was better than the process of put 
ting the knowledge into practice. I hate these 
folks who rhapsodize sentimentally over children 
as potential little men. Potential fiddle-sticks! 
Their charm is because they airit men yet, be 
cause they are still trailing clouds of glory, be 
cause they are nice, mysterious, imaginative, 
sensitive, nasty little beasts. You! All you are 
thinking of is that dinner I owe you ! Well, 
come on, then, we ll go back into that monstrous 
heap of mortar down there to the south, where 
there are no children who know how to play, 
no tops, no marbles, no woods and ponds and 
bees nests in the fences, no Emily Ruggleses; 
where every building is, as you say, the grave- 



228 *%Cumblety-peg and twiddle 

stone of a game, and the only sport left is the 
playing of the market for keeps !" 

He got up painfully. I got up painfully. We 
both limped. Down the hill in silence we went. 
On the train Old Hundred lighted a cigar. "What 
do you say to the club for dinner?" he asked. "I 
ought to go across to the Bar Association after 
ward and look up some cases on that rebate suit. 
By Jove, but it s going to be a pretty trial!" 

"That pleases me all right," I answered. " I ve 
got to meet Ainsley after the theatre and go 
over our new third aft. I think you are going 
to like it better than the old." 

At the next station Old Hundred went out 
on the platform and hailed a newsboy. "I want 
to see how the market closed," he explained, 
as he buried himself in his paper. 




^Barber Shops of Yesterday 

I HAVE just been to a barber shop, not a city 
barber shop, where you exped: tiled floors and 
polished mirrors and a haughty Venus by a table 
in the corner, who glances scornfully at your 
hands as you give your hat, coat, and collar to 
a boy, as much as to say, "Manicures himself!" 
but a country barber shop, in a New England 
small town. I rather expe&ed that the experience 
would repay me, in awakened pleasant memories, 
for a very poor hair-cut. Instead, I got a very 
good hair-cut, and no pleasant memories were 
awakened at all; not, that is, by the dired: pro 
cess of suggestion. I was only led to muse on 
barber shops of my boyhood because this one 
was so different. Even the barber was different. 
He chewed gum, he worked quickly, he used 
shaving powder and took his cloths from a ster 
ilizer, and finally he held a hand-glass behind 
my head for me to see the result, quite like his 
city cousins. (By the way, was ever a man so 
brave as to say the cut <wasrit all right, when the 
barber held that hand-glass behind his head? And 



230 barber Shops of Tester day 

what would the barber say if he did?) No, this 
shop was antiseptic, and uninteresting. There 
was not even a picture on the walls ! 

But, to the barber s soothing snip, snip, snip, 
and the gentle tug of the comb, I dreamed of 
the barber shops of my boyhood, and of Clarkie 
Parker s in particular. Clarkie s shop was in Ly 
ceum Hall block, one flight up a huge room, 
with a single green upholstered barber s chair be 
tween the windows, where one could sit and watch 
the town go by below you. The room smelled 
pungently of bay rum. Barber shops don t smell 
of bay rum any more. Around two sides were 
ranged many chairs and an old leather couch. 
The chair-arms were smooth and black with the 
rubbing of innumerable hands and elbows, and 
behind them, making a dark line along the wall, 
were the marks where the heads of the sitters 
rubbed as they tilted back. Nor can I forget the 
spittoons, large shallow boxes, two feet square, 
four of them, full of sand. On a third side of 
the room stood the basin and water-taps, and 
beside them a large black-walnut cabinet, full 
of shelves. The shelves were full of mugs, and 
on every mug was a name, in gilt letters, gen 
erally Old English. Those mugs were a town 
directory of our leading citizens. My father s 
mug was on the next to the top shelf, third 



barber Shops of Tester day 231 

from the end on the right. The sight of it used 
to thrill me, and at twelve I began surreptitiously 
to feel my chin, to see if there were any hope 
of my achieving a mug in the not -too -distant 
future. 

Above the chairs, the basin, the cabinet, hung 
pictures. Several of those pictures I have never 
seen since, but the other day in New York I 
came upon one of them in a print-shop on Fourth 
Avenue, and was restrained from buying it only 
by the, to me, prohibitive price. Fve been ashamed 
ever since, too, that I allowed it to be prohibi 
tive. I feel traitorous to a memory. It was a lu 
rid lithograph of a burning building upon which 
brave firemen in red shirts were pouring copious 
streams of water, while other brave firemen 
worked the pump-handles of the engine. The 
flames were leaping out in orange tongues from 
every window of the doomed structure (which 
was a fine business block three stories high), but 
you felt sure that the heroes would save all ad 
joining property, in spite of the evident high wind. 
Another picture in Clarkie s shop showed these 
same firemen (at least, they, too, wore red shirts) 
hauling their engine out of its abode; and still 
another displayed them hauling it back again. 
On this latter occasion it was coated with ice, 
and I used to wonder if all these pictures depicted 



232 ^Barber Shops of Tester day 

the same fire, because the trees were in full leaf 
in the others. There also hung on the walls a 
truly suberb engraving of the loss of the Ardlic. 
Her bow (or was it her stern?) was high in air, 
and figures were dropping off it into the sea, 
like nuts from a shaken hickory. This was a 
very terrible pidture, and one turned with relief 
to Maude S. standing before a bright green hedge 
and looking every inch a gentle champion, or 
the stuffed pickerel, twenty-four inches long, 
framed under glass, with his weight a ponder 
ous figure printed on the frame. 

Clarkie Parker was in reality a barber by avo 
cation. The art he loved was angling. Patience 
with a rod and line, the slow contemplation of 
rivers, was in his blood, and in his fingers. It 
took him a long time to cut your hair, even 
when, on the first hot day of June, you bade 
him, "take it all off with the lawn-mower." (Do 
any boys have their heads clean-clipped in sum 
mer any more?) But while he cut, he talked 
of fishing. You listened as to one having authority. 
He knew every brook, every pool, every pond, 
for miles around. You went next day where 
Clarkie advised. And there was no use expect 
ing a hair-cut or a shave on the first of April, 
when "the law went off on trout/ Clarkie s 
shop was shut. If the day happened to be Satur- 



^Barber Shops of Yesterday 233 

day, many a pious man in our village had to go 
to church upon the morrow unshaven or un- 
trimmed. 

I know not what has become now of Clarkie 
or his shop. Doubtless they have gone the way 
of so many pleasantly flavored things of our van 
ished New England. I only know that I still 
possess a razor he sold me when my downy face 
had begun to arouse public derision. I shall al 
ways cherish that razor, though I never shave 
with it. I never could shave with it! But I love 
Clarkie just the same. He only proved himself 
thereby the ultimate Yankee. 






The "Button 



you/ said I, "anything like the ones 
left?" and I held out to my wife a shirt just 
back from the laundry, and minus a strategic 
button. 

"I ll look in my button box and see," she 
answered, taking the shirt. 

Her button box! I did not know she had one, 
and followed her into her retreat to see it. But 
alas! it was a griveous disappointment, being 
nothing but a drawer set in some sort of a fancy 
contraption of chintz-covered pasteboard, like a 
toy bureau, which stood on her work table. No 
doubt it contained buttons, and was serviceable. 
But a button box! To call it that were to libel 
a noble institution of an elder day. 

As I waited for the restoration of my shirt 
I thought tenderly of the button box of my child 
hood. It was no dinky six- by -four- inch paste 
board drawer, not two inches deep no, sir! It 
was a cylindrical wooden box of the substantial 
and finished workmanship which went into even 
such humble things as a butter box a century 
ago, for mother had inherited it from her mother. 



The "Button "Box 235 

It must once have contained ten pounds of 
butter, but all traces of its original service had 
long disappeared. The drum, of very thin, tough 
wood, which had kept its shape uncracked, had 
been polished a dark nut brown by countless 
hands. The bottom and cover, of pine, were 
darkened, too, but without polish. This box 
dwelt on the second shelf of the old what-not, 
which, in turn, stood in the closet passage under 
neath the stairs. When any accident befell our 
garment fastenings, "Go and get the button 
box/ mother said, as she reached for her needle. 
Or, on rainy days, when we grew more and 
more restless and all other devices failed, "You 
may go and get the button box," mother would 
say, and we were solaced till supper time. 

No modern patent sewing- table receptacle 
could possible hold one quarter of the contents 
of that button box, the accumulation of at least 
three generations. It was heavy, and having no 
handles, you had to grasp it with open palms on 
either side hence the polish. It rattled when 
taken down from its shelf, and the very first 
thing you did when the lid was off was to plunge 
your two hands down into the mass, and let fist- 
fuls of buttons trickle through your fingers. 

Sometimes we played it was a treasure chest, 
and these buttons were Spanish doubloons. Some 
times we trickled them just for the cool feel of 
it, the sound of the rattle, the sensation of plung- 



236 The Button <Box 

ing fingers into the oddly liquid mass. There 
were great steel buttons, little pearl bottons, 
white bone buttons, black suspender buttons, 
cloth buttons, silk buttons, crocheted buttons, 
elongated crystal buttons (which we held to the 
light "to make prisms"), lovely agate buttons, 
brass military buttons with the U. S. eagle upon 
them, wooden buttons, either once covered or 
yet to be covered, shoe buttons (which invariably 
were in practical demand and invariably had sunk 
to the bottom of the box), strange great buttons 
from some long-forgotten garment of grand 
mother s, familiar buttons from some newly re 
membered garment of our own. 

It seems odd, when I think of it now, the end 
less delight we children got just from the contem 
plation and discussion of those buttons. Some 
times, of course, we picked out the suitable ones, 
and strung them in long chains. Sometimes we 
used them for counters in games. But often we 
just turned them over and over, or tipped them 
out on a paper spread on the floor, and from the 
hints they gave us reconstructed ancient garments 
or recalled forgotten clothes of our own. 

" Oh, that one used to be on my winter jacket! 
"Look, here s one of papa s pants buttons 
it says Macullar and Parker on it!" 
"Hi, there s my old brown overcoat!" 
"Oh, dear, I wish I still had that pretty gray 
suit, with those steel buttons on it!" 



The Button ftox 237 

The silly talk of children and how like some 
conversations the propinquity of piazzas has since 
forced me to listen to! 

To find just the button she wanted was some 
times a long task for mother, and father, it must 
be admitted, had varied the proverbial needle 
simile for our domestic establishment, to read, 
"like hunting for a button in your mother s but 
ton box." But still the odd buttons continued 
to go in, and only the ones needed came perma 
nently out. You never could tell, to be sure, 
when the most unlikely button would come in 
handy. Sometimes there were days when the 
village dress-maker arrived after breakfast and 
remained till almost supper time, converting the 
upstairs front chamber into a maze of threads 
and snippings, and requisitioning the button box 
in long searches for "a set of six". That was a 
fine game! Sometimes it was easy. Sometimes 
only five could be found of the type she particu 
larly desired. But never did the box fail com 
pletely; always there were enough of some button 
that, she said, without dropping the pins from 
her mouth, would do, "though it ain t quite what 
I wanted." 

All this flashed through my memory as I 
waited for my wife to reestablish connections on 
my shirt. As she finally finished, and pushed in 
her silly little drawer, I said: 



238 The ^Button Sox 

"Do you call that thing a button box? Why 
don t you have a real one?" 

"That s quite large enough when you have 
to find a match," said she, "and too large when 
you drop it." 

Women are practical creatures; there is no 
sentiment in them. Their alleged possession of 
it is the most spurious of all the arguments against 
equal suffrage. 




Peppermints 

I HAVE just purchased a little bag of pepper 
mints, and returned with them to my rooms 
above the Square. I did not purchase them at 
the promptings of a sweet tooth, but of a hungry 
heart. They take me back into the forgotten 
Aprils of my life, where I often love to loiter, 
not from any resentment that I have been un 
able to emulate Peter Pan and remain a boy for 
ever, but because this great town is drab and 
dusty and imprisoning, and it is sweet to escape 
down the green lanes of April, even if only in 
a memory. A physical sensation the sound of 
a voice, a hand patting us to the rythm of "Tell 
Aunt Rhody", an odor can plunge us deeper 
and swifter down to the buried places of our 
memory than any process of deliberate recollec 
tion. No robin sings against my window of a 
morning here only the noisy sparrows twitter 
and quarrel, reminding me of the curb market. 
No lilac sheds its perfume on the still air. I am 
perforce reduced to peppermints. The taste of 
peppermints on my tongue, the pungent fra 
grance of them in my nostrils, have the power, 



240 Peppermints 

however, to transport me far from this maze of 
mortared canons, back across the years, to a land 
where the robins sang against the spacious sky 
and a little boy dreamed great dreams. 

So now I am sitting high up above the Square, 
with my little bag of peppermints before me 
(somewhat diminished in quantity already), and 
think, between slow, sipping nibbles, of that lit 
tle boy. 

In his day, in the land where he came from, 
peppermints were almost a symbol of life s best 
things of grandmothers and other dear old ladies 
who kept cookies in cool stone crocks in sweet- 
smelling "butt ries" (sometimes foolishly called 
pantries by those who put on airs); of Christ- 
mastides when to the joy of peppermint sticks 
was added the unspeakable delight of sucking 
barley toys, red dogs, golden camels that lost 
their humps and elephants that lost their trunks 
as the tongue went succulently round and round 
them; of the wonderful village "notion" store, 
presided over by a terrible female person with a 
deep bass voice, who asked you over the counter 
as you entered, "Which side, young man?" It 
was bad enough to be called "Bubble", but to 
be called "young man" in this ironic bass was 
almost insufferable. Yet you bore it nobly, for 
the sake of the pound of shot for your air- 
gun or the blood-alley or the great pink and 
white peppermints, two for a cent, that reposed 



^Peppermints 241 

in a glass jar on the left side of the shop. Was 
Miss Emily so terrible a person, I wonder now? 
She was always looked upon a little askance by 
the ladies of our village because she was "so mas 
culine". But if she did not conceal a softness 
for children under her stern exterior why did 
she keep a stock of so many things dear to the 
childish heart, from paper soldiers (purchased by 
the yard) to sleds and shot? Perhaps that fan 
tastic stock of hers was her curious expression 
of the Eternal Motherly. After she died, every 
year on the 3oth of May the "Vet rans," as they 
marched two by two in annually dwindling lines 
about the cemetery, placed a fresh print flag and a 
basket of geraniums on her grave, because she had 
sent a substitute to the War. To us youngsters 
this substitute used to explain why she kept shot 
for sale; she was by nature a bellicose person, and, 
we were sure, her great grief was her sex. 

In my own family peppermints were directly 
connected, by legend, with feminine attractive 
ness. A great grandmother on my mother s side 
had been in her day a famous beauty. And when 
asked the secret of her charm, as she frequently 
was (to my infant imagination she appeared as 
a superhumanly radiant vision who walked about 
the streets in a hoop-skirt with an admiring 
throng in her wake, constantly being forced to 
explain why she was beautiful), she did not utter 
testimonials for anybody s soap, nor for a pat- 
17 



242 Peppermints 

ent dietary system, nor even for outdoor exer 
cise. She replied simply, "Peppermints". Great 
grandmamma died when my mother was 
a girl, and to mother fell the task of going 
through the old lady s possessions. She says it 
was a task; probably it was a privilege. At any 
rate, my mother records that she found pepper 
mints everywhere, in every kind of wrapper, 
stowed in the different receptacles, in boxes, 
bags, trunks, in bureau drawers and writing desks 
and "secretaries". They were among letters and 
laces, in the folds of silk gowns and even the 
table linen. Some of the peppermints had 
crumbled and almost evaporated. Some had "os 
sified", as mother says. "And," she used to add, 
telling the tale to large-eyed, hungry-mouthed 
little me, "I have not seen so many peppermints 
outside a candy shop since that day." 

"But did the peppermints really make great 
grandmamma beautiful?" I would ask. 

"She always said so," my mother would reply, 
"and she was certainly very beautiful." 

"Is that why you eat peppermints?" I then 
inquired, on a day when I had detected her 
with a bag of the confeclion. 

At this point there was a masculine chuckle 
from the armchair by the bookcase. Also, a 
peppermint was promptly produced for my per 
sonal consumption. I had a great fondness for 
the memory of my beautiful ancestor. 



^Peppermints 243 

Peppermints, too, are intimately connected 
with the religious experiences of my childhood; 
or, perhaps I should say, with the religious ob 
servances of my childhood. Our minister s whisk 
ers always interested me more than his discourses. 
As I nibble a peppermint from the bag before 
me lingeringly, for the supply is being fast de 
pleted and the frail yet pungent odor fills my 
nostrils, I am once more in that half-filled church, 
on a Sabbath morning in early Spring, dozing 
through the sermon, with my head tumbling 
sleepily now and then against my father s shoul 
der. Slowly the scene comes back, in every least 
detail, the smallest sights and sounds of that 
morning all here, but all thin and faint and frail, 
spun of the gossamer web of memory. Can I 
hold them till they are set down? I shall have to 
eat another precious white lozenge from my bag. 

My cheek had bumped my father s shoulder 
again when I caught a sudden whiff of peppermint 
drops and raised my head just in time to see an 
old lady across the aisle whisk her dress down 
over her petticoat pocket. For a few moments 
I watched her in envy, for her mouth was mov 
ing ever so little and I could fancy the delicious 
tarte. But how could she enjoy the candy and 
not make her mouth go more than that, I won 
dered. I did not shut my eyes again, but sat 
very still against my father s arm and let my 
eyes wander around the church. 



244 ^Peppermints 

Ours was one of the "new" churches. The 
beautiful old "meeting house" at the head of the 
village green, with its exquisite white spire and 
its pillard pulpit and windows of "common" 
glass, purpling with age, was the property of the 
Methodists which in some manner I could not 
then understand (and do not clearly yet) was al 
ways a source of resentment in our congregation. 
Our church had stained windows, a chocolate 
brown field with white stars in the centre and 
around the edges tiny squares of many colors, atro 
cious reds, blues and yellows. These windows were 
opened a little at the top, and through the openings 
came soft sounds of Spring, the wind racing among 
the budding branches, the sudden call of a bird, 
and occasionally the crooning, sleepy cackle of 
hens from a distance. Now and then a cloud 
drifted by, across the sun, dimming the interrior 
for a moment, so that the minister s voice seemed 
to come from farther off. The sunlight through 
the stained glass projected colored splotches here 
and there. I wondered if the people knew how 
homely they looked with those splotches on 
their faces, like great birth-marks. That suggested 
a pastime to relieve the monotony. 

Starting with the choir (which consisted of 
four people, boxed in before the organ at the 
right of the pulpit) I began to count people 
with colored spots. First there was the tenor 
with a purple spot on his left cheek and on his 



Peppermints 245 

sandy hair and beard. But the organist and so 
prano were splashed with scarlet. Then I forget 
to count, because I noticed that the alto had a 
new violet hat, which eclipsed the soprano s old 
green one. I wondered whether she had gone 
to Boston to buy it, or had "patronized home 
industries" a phrase I had just discovered with 
pride in our local paper. The bass was nodding 
and letting his hymn book slip toward a fall. I 
hoped slily that it would fall, and braced my 
nerves for the crash. But he woke with a funny 
jerk, like my jack-in-the-box, just in time to 
catch it, and began listening intently to the ser 
mon as if he had been awake all the while. The 
soprano smiled at someone in the congregation, 
whispered to the tenor, and then sat silent again. 
My gaze wandered to the minister s pleasant 
face, with its great square-cut gray beard, which 
always suggested to me why, I don t know 
one of the minor prophets; and then past him 
to the gilded cross that was painted on the apsi- 
dal wall behind him. I knew that if I looked 
at this cross, with its gilded rays spreading out 
in all directions, long enough the rays would 
begin to melt together and then to turn round 
and round in a kind of dizzy dance. So I looked 
steadily, till I had to shake the sleep out of my 
eyes with a great effort. Then I fell to specu 
lating on the tablets painted at the left of the 
pulpit, to balance the organ. These tablets were 



246 ^Peppermints 

encased in a design that suggested a twin tomb 
stone. On one of them were the words, "God 
is a spirit, and they that worship Him must 
worship Him in spirit and in truth," a sentence 
which had always given me great difficulty. But 
this morning I interpreted it at last to my satis 
faction. It meant, I decided, that a man must 
first die and become a ghost, a spirit, before he 
could tell what church he really ought to go to. 
I wondered if, in that spirit region, there would 
be any Methodists. 

Directly below the tablets, in a front pew, sat 
Miss Emily, she of a bass voice and the "notion" 
store. Her Paisley shawl was folded tightly 
around her broad, bony shoulders, and made the 
lower half of a diamond down her back, the pat 
tern exactly in the middle. If the pattern had not 
been exactly in the middle I am sure the service 
would have stopped automatically, till it was ad 
justed. She sat very straight and looked with 
partly turned head, showing her masculine pro 
file, sternly at the minister, as if defying him to 
be unothordox. I tried to picture her asking 
him, as he entered her shop, "Which side, old 
man?" Would she dare, I wondered? And what 
would he reply? A few pews behind Miss Emily 
sat "the spilled-over old lady". My sister had 
first called her the spilled-over old lady, because 
she seemed to have been crowded out by the six 
old ladies in the pew behind, and to have been 



^Peppermints 247 

permanently soured by the slight. Her hair was 
done up in a tight, emphatic pug, her profile 
suggested vinegar or perhaps it was her com 
plexion. At any rate, when I looked at her I 
thought of vinegar. I wondered if she ever ate 
peppermints, and if they tasted the same to her 
as to other people. 

Presently I leaned forward and extracted a 
hymn book from the rack attached to the back 
of the pew in front. This rack contained, be 
sides hymn books, a pair of old gloves done into 
a wad wrong side out, two fans, "leaflets" of all 
sorts, and little envelopes for the collection. Most 
of the "leaflets" were appeals for charity, I fancy. 
At any rate, many of them were full of pictures 
of poor little city children suffering from all 
sorts of diseases, and oppressed me horribly. But 
I could always rely on the hymn book. My first 
consciousness that there is any difference between 
prose and poetry except in the matter of rhyme 
came from reading the hymn book, from Whit- 
tier s, 

I know not where His islands lift 
Their fronded palms in air ; 

I only know I cannot drift 
Beyond His love and care. 

I had no idea what kind of a palm a fronded 
palm is, but I fancied it something much grander 
and taller than other palms; and the whole hymn 
filled my mind with a large, expansive imagry, 



248 Peppermints 

breathed over my little spirit an ineffable serenity. 
This hymn I now read while the minister talked 
away behind his minor-prophet whiskers; this, 
and Wesley s, 

A charge to keep I have, 

A God to glorify; 
A never-dying soul to save, 

And fit it for the sky. 

This stanza always made me want to get up and 
shout. I read and re-read it, repeating it, with 
noiseless lips. The tune it went to seemed inade 
quate, the more so as in our church tunes were 
always dragged to the limit of non-conformist 
dolorousness. The stanza seemed to me, even 
then, happy, hopeful, staccato, jubilant. I won 
der what I should have thought had I known 
its author was a Methodist? Could good come 
out of Nazareth, after all? Instead, I fell to won 
dering about the after life in the sky. Heaven 
I pictured as a city builded on a cloud. If, on 
a very clear day, the cloud should dry up what, 
I speculated, would the angels walk on? Then 
it occurred to me that they do not walk, they fly. 
So they would go flying about streets out of which 
the bottoms had dropped, and look right through 
far down to the earth, which to their sight would 
doubtless resemble the raised map of America in 
our school, that stood on a table in the corner 
and always had chalk dust, like snow, in the inch- 



Peppermints 249 

deep ravines of the Rocky Mountains. I won 
dered if the lower stories of the houses would 
have any floors. The cellars wouldn t, anyway. 
What kept the furnaces in position? Perhaps they 
didn t need furnaces in heaven; it was the other 
place where the furnaces were. Then I dozed. 
In our church Sunday School began at noon, 
immediately following the church service, in a 
large room at the rear, known as the vestry. The 
first small boy on his way to school stamped by 
on the walk outside, with what sounded like 
defiant aggressiveness. I roused from my doze in 
time to see the old man in front of me wake up 
with a start at the sound and reach quickly for 
his hymn book, as if he supposed the sermon 
were over. Then the stamping of other children 
was heard on the walk. The scholars passed in 
groups, talking shrilly. I knew it must be nearly 
twelve o clock. In the congregation there was 
a rustle of gathering restlessness; women put on 
their gloves, tried to glance back at the clock 
without seeming to do so, stirred in their seats. 
The last vestige of sleep mysteriously yielded to 
this influence and left me. At last the minister 
came to the conclusion of his discourse, and in 
stantly there was a sound all over the church as 
of waters released and hurrying over dead leaves. 
It was the congregation shifting their positions, 
expelling their breaths, and turning the pages of 
their hymn books. I listened curiously for the 



250 ^Peppermints 

next sound. It was the clearing of a hundred 
throats, getting ready to sing. I too arose and in 
my tuneless treble made a joyful noise unto the 
Lord. Then church was over. 

And my peppermints are all eaten, too, and 
the gossamer web of memory dissolves, the pic 
ture fades, and I see before me this room of mine, 
littered with some learned literature but more 
pipes and prints and miscellaneous rubbish, and 
I hear outside in the Square, not the spring wind 
racing among the budding branches, but the 
coughing of a consumptive motor car, the pene 
trating squeak of a trolley rounding a curve on 
a dry track, the irritating jolt of heavy drays, 
and a great, subdued, never-ceasing rumble and 
roar, the key-note of the giant city. Only the 
little bag remains. Shall I blow it up and "bust" 
it? That act, with a final pop, will bring back 
a flash of my childhood. Here goes .... 

It didn t pop nicely at all. It exploded in a 
kind of a spudgy collapse, with very little noise. 
Ah, well, you cannot eat your peppermints and 
have them too nor the bag! But it has been 
very pleasant to eat them, to wake up with a 
whiff and a nibble the memory of those van 
ished days, those voices and peaceful paths of 
life very far from here and now. It may be true 
that we mount on our dead selves to higher things, 
but it is well to hold little Memorial Days now 
and then, and on the graves of our dead, espe- 



Peppermints 251 

cially of those who died young in the flower of 
innocence, to leave a. peppermint, as the soldiers 
leave on the grave of Miss Emily a print flag 
and a basket of geraniums. A cemetery need 
not be a mournful place. Maids were wooed 
and won in our cemetery, and the high school 
pupils ate their lunches out of collapsable tin 
boxes every noon on the tomb of Major Barton, 
he of Revolutionary fame, who horse-whipped 
the British captive when he refused to eat beans. 
Noble New Englander! And perhaps my own 
peppermint feasts are not so much memorial 
banquet, after all, as ceremonial rites in honor 
of my native land. For I cannot think of this 
great city of New York as my home, I cannot 
fit into the rushing, roaring cogs and grooves of 
its machinery without a protest, without a hope 
that some day I may hear the wheels no longer 
roar at their cruel revolutions. Thus my pep 
permints speak to me of home, of quiet, of 
certain green places and a lilac hedge; there is 
about them the taste and odor of the ideal. They 
are for the future as well as for the past. Per 
haps in some subtle way they do after all have 
potency for beauty. I fancy that some day I too 
shall stow away bags of them amid my worthless 
precious junk, and when prying hands disturb the 
dust the nostrils of a youngster now unborn will 
be greeted by a frail yet pungent aroma. I can 
only trust that he will know well what it is. 







RETURN CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 
TQmm+ 202 Main Library 642-3403 


LOAN PERIOD 1 
HOME USE 


2 


3 


4 


5 


6 



ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS 

1 -month loans may be renewed by calling 642-3405 

6-month loans may be recharged by bringing books to Circulation Desk 

Renewals and recharges may be made 4 days prior to due date 

DUE AS STAMPED BELOW 



** 



MO. DD 6, 40m, 6 76 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 
BERKELEY, CA 94720 












I! 



11 



tt H ;(in >; ) H 

....... 






tJjPlKHHl 



}J J mii f { 

1 111 

* < 1 1 i * r ! fUiMtM! it * tu* c 



i 



nfit<; Ui! i-jiti 

iiwmm i ul 

HirtM I 
I ]l[t;5Hl {i 



1 



H II 

ii(HHp{?fMJa!l fMB!HSf 

PMiPni 

iiiSi&Br 

ili