Obrázky na stránke

Why is it that writers are usually ridiculous people? They are so lacking in common sense."

It was disappointing humanly; and yet matter for rejoicing. Here was the secret of her life, and the secret in the lives of some millions of her brothers and sisters in America; in fact, the secret reason why so few of the denizens of greater America either relish or write the best literature.

The Spectator undertook to convert her. Said he, modestly: Are we always to have common sense? Are we not to, let us say, sing and dance, because they are not useful occupations?"

"You recall," she said, sternly, as one giving admonition," the fable of the grasshopper who sang and danced, and the ant?"

"The ant had a pragmatic value," the Spectator suggested; "it was a common-sense ant." Precisely."

[ocr errors]

As Chaucer frequently observes, "Ther nis na more to sayn." The door of hope was slammed -bang!-in the Spectator's face. What could one say? What could one do for this person? The Spectator understands her now; or thinks he does, though he is not quite sure of it. But, on the whole, he rather wishes he did not. The lure of the mystery was more inspiring than the dry light of the reality.

At the same time, as the illumination of this new fact spreads, he begins to see various things hitherto undreamed of in his philosophy. The old Professor of Literature used to tell his class that literature is the expression of life. Suppose some one were to express this life in literature. What would he write? A sentimental poem? Unthinkable. A romantic tale of love? Most unlikely. A sturdy, honest epic? Possibly, though the parallelism with, say, Dido or Eve or Francesca would certainly be remote. Again, what do such commonsense persons read? Everything. And appreciate? Like the Spaniard, we can only shrug our shoulders. Quien sabe?

The common-sense person, as such, cannot write, or read. To write or read well means a sacrifice of common sense, a bartering of the ordinary household and business expedients for a rarer sense of the possibilities of the human soul. Literature is one of those rare and sensitive plants that must be nourished tenderly. It cannot be sown in a field, reaped with agricultural machinery, and traded upon the wheat exchange. (The Spectator has been in an agricultural community, and his flowers of speech come from the field.) It will not grow at the hands of a merely common-sense person, does not thrive in the college organized "on business lines," will not blossom in the mercantile newspaper, and cannot be expected to "produce and "make good" at so much per ream. Poor literature! It is "down and out," slain by the

[ocr errors]

stern, sensible chill of the Spectator's fair charmer and her common sense friends.

Our life and literature-also the co-ed-are passing through an ice age. Yet even now the signs of spring are about us, with warm hope that the winter of our discontent shall again be made into a glorious summer, when the tiresome ant shall learn the modest limitations of his usefulness and once more give place to the joyous grasshopper, who finds it sweeter to sing all summer-yea, and dance-and to sacrifice himself, when winter comes, on the altar of art, rather than be a miserable, crawling, unimaginative, twenty-legged ant; the summer, when the lamb shall frisk in the field for the worship of the god of joy-as the Spectator saw him frisking about the agricultural department of the co-ed's college-without thought of how much wool he is raising; when the little birds shall chant hymns that have no market valuation in the publisher's office; when the wandering harper shall again seize his lyre and, throwing back his gray locks, chant of love and laughter; when the voice of the lyric poet shall be heard in the land, and the itinerant dancing-master again scrape his wheezy violin to the throb of joylight feet; when the common-sense personBut this is a dream!

Even as the Spectator pens these lines, Dinah brings the evening paper, and he becomes engrossed in the high cost of living, the free list, and Schedule K. Poor old poetry, poor old romance, poor delicate flowers of love shivering in the chill winds of common sense! And yet the summer will come, when joy will be of as much importance as commerce, when the grasshopper shall sing-yea, and dance-and the voice of the turtle-dove shall be heard calling plaintively to the lady turtle, when nature shall sing and laugh, and the miserable twenty-legged ant shall go about his own business of-of-whatever useful service it is the ant performs. Man was not born to work all day in a countinghouse, to be a twenty-legged ant, nor woman to exhaust herself in sensible activities. Both were born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward; but the sparks glow and twinkle as they fly, till the very fire-dogs seem to chuckle with a grim basso profundo sort of joy. Only man, as he burns out, burns in silence, economizing the last scrap of heat, that he may use it to run a steam-engine. The steam-engine in turn produces wealth to support other men who run other steam-engines. That is the philosophy of the ant. Is it really.common sense? Is it really any better than the philosophy of the grasshopper? Certainly it could not produce conversation for the co-ed. And the Spectator, reflecting, wonders much if it can produce literature.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Studies Military and Diplomatic, 1775-1865. By Charles Francis Adams. The Macmillan Com. pany, New York. $2.50.

It may well be that, in the light of modern historical research, the history of the American Revolution needs to be largely rewritten; but the criticisms of the conduct of the war, and more particularly of George Washington, indulged in by Mr. Adams in the opening essays of this volume undoubtedly tend to mislead the uninformed reader even more grievously than do the current "hero-worshiping" histories. Granted that Washington's military genius was not nearly so remarkable as we have been taught to believe, the fact remains that he had qualities of the first order as man, soldier, and civil leader, and any portrait which minimizes these and stresses only his defects must necessarily be imperfect and unfair. Mr. Adams may plead that he had no intention of drawing a portrait of Washington; that he merely wished to make a corrective contribution to present historical knowledge concerning him. But in that case he should not have exhumed his Revolutionary essays from the files of the learned publications in which they originally appeared and present them in a book intended for popular reading. His professional brethren have the training necessary to enable them to evaluate the results of his researches and accept them for what they are worth from the corrective point of view; the lay reader, lacking such training, but recognizing the weight of Mr. Adams's authority as a scholar, can only be perplexed, distressed, and led astray. Similarly with the essay on the Battle of New Orleans, which as it stands should be read by the specialist only. On the other hand, certain of the Civil War and diplomatic essays-notably the essay on the ethics of secession and the address delivered at Washington and Lee University on the centennial anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Lee—may be warmly recommended for general reading, and are distinctly representative of American scholarship at its best as contributing directly and powerfully to popular education. This is not to underestimate the importance of the Revolutionary essays; they are of value, but, we repeat, of value chiefly to other professional historians, who, in future works, will no doubt utilize them as far as is deemed desirable for corrective purposes.

Wages in the United States, 1908-1910. By Scott Nearing, Ph.D. The Macmillan Company, New York. $1.25.

This is a statistical study prompted by Professor Chapin's recent estimate that a New York family, consisting of a man, wife, and three children, can maintain "a normal standard, at least so far as the physical man is concerned," on an annual income of $900. Professor Near

[ocr errors]

ing's aim has been to ascertain, with the greatest exactitude possible, the number of families in the United States that have an income equaling that sum. The result of his investigation is most depressing. He finds that ninety per cent of the adult males earn less than $800 a year, seventy-five per cent less than $600, and fully fifty per cent less than $500; while among women wage-earners only five per cent earn more than $600 a year, and twenty per cent earn as low as $200 annually. These figures do not exactly indicate "family incomes,' to be sure, and they are open to the objection-appreciated by no one more than by Professor Nearing himself-that they have had in large measure to be "estimated," owing to the paucity of trustworthy statistical records with regard to wages. But the comparative method of analysis adopted by the investigator, who has, moreover, confined himself throughout to data of ascertainable validity, gives reason for the belief that he has contributed important, if disconcerting, light to the solution of a real economic and political problem. Obviously, if the facts are as his figures would indicate, one does not need to look very far to discover the cause of the increasing popular unrest and discontent, and the growing "agitation" for some sort of a social readjustment.

Factory (The). By Jonathan Thayer Lincoln. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. $1.

Mr. Lincoln will be remembered as the author of an interesting and essentially human book about the factory operative and factory conditions aptly called "The City of the DinnerPail." Mr. Lincoln is, as we understand, the head of one of the great Fall River mills-and the more mill-owners of this kind that exist, the better it is for the country. His present work is a series of brief chapters dealing with the history of industrial development and revolution, mechanical inventions having to do with factory work, the factory system as it is and as it ought to be, and especially the social principles that underlie this subject and the social progress that has been made.

Fool in Christ (The). By Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann. Translated by T. Seltzer. B. W. Huebsch, New York. $1.50.

[ocr errors]

This book is in curious contrast to the volume of short stories recently published by Hauptmann's well-known contemporary and, in a sense, his only rival, Hermann Sudermann, entitled "The Indian Lily, and Other Tales -a book of short stories, most of them repulsive to the normal, wholesome taste. Hauptmann's story is as far removed from this as is Milton's "Paradise Lost" from Byron's "Don Juan.' It is the history of Emanuel Quint, a young Silesian peasant, who leaves his father's hut one Sunday


morning, walks to a neighboring village, mounts a block, and begins to address the people as they are coming out from church. He is ragged, barefooted, and bareheaded. He is taken off by a constable, who looks upon him as a tramp and takes him to the lock-up. Quint is at times perfectly aware of his actual condition in life, and at other times finds a curious parallelism between his career and the career of Christ. There is a great deal of talk in the story, which is very largely made up of Biblical quotations. Some of Quint's disciples fall into the various forms of hysteria which have appeared from time to time among religious enthusiasts, and which have had a recent curious illustration in this country among the "Holy Rollers." Quint is finally accused wrongfully of murder, and eventually dies in a storm in Switzerland. It is easier to describe the story than to characterize it, but not easy to do either. It is a curiously unworldly tale, lacking in restraint, presenting some very repulsive things, but also suggesting some beautiful analogies, and enforcing some great truths in a very direct and effective manner.

The True Daniel Webster. By Sidney George Fisher, Litt.D. The J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia. $2.

An important addition to the badly named "True" series of American biographies. Its author bears a deservedly high reputation as a careful delver into the leading facts of American history, and this reputation will not be impaired by the present volume. Already, notably in Mr. W. C. Wilkinson's recent "Daniel Webster: A Vindication," the attempt has been made to "rehabilitate" this great American statesman, and relieve his memory of the odium, both political and personal, cast upon it by historians writing under the influence of the extreme Abolition sentiment of Webster's time; and Dr. Fisher's book admirably supplements and extends Mr. Wilkinson's study. That true patriotism and clear-sighted statesmanship, not ambition for the Presidency, determined Webster's attitude on the compromise plan of 1850; that this attitude was the correct one, as affairs then stood; and that, in his private as in his public life, he was temperate, clean, and upright-such are the salient points stressed by Dr. Fisher in his discussion of the most bitterly debated questions regarding Webster's policies and lite. The author, it is true, shows himself something of an extremist in his whole-souled, not to say adulatory, defense of the fallen Lion of the North. But unquestionably he comes far closer to a correct and just portrayal than most previous writers have done. One particu larly noteworthy feature of his really exhaustive biography-it runs to more than five hundred closely printed pages, of which none is uninforming is the care taken to acquaint the reader with exactly the kind of political and social

environment which worked to the shaping of Webster's character, career, and achievements. Portraits of Dante. By Richard Thayer Hol

brook. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. $6.50. Mr. Richard Thayer Holbrook, the author of that clever book "Dante and the Animal Kingdom," has now published another even more interesting volume, " Portraits of Dante." The volume is sumptuous both in print and illustration, as it may well be. Certainly it will delight Dante lovers, for its text is elaborate enough to suit any enthusiast. Professor Holbrook states in full the external evidence bearing upon the most important portraits of Dante. And yet there is only one really authenticated portrait of the poet, who died in 1321, namely, that by his contemporary Giotto, who died in 1336. And there is only one trustworthy description of Dante, namely, that of his contemporary Boccaccio, who died in 1375. But many artists have attempted to paint Dante, and Professor Holbrook devotes many chapters to describing these portraits. His pages are interleaved witn reproductions of them. These illustrations are in color, line, half-tone, and photogravure.

Catholic Encyclopedia (The). In 15 vols. Vol.

XII. The Robert Appleton Company, New York. "The Catholic Encyclopedia," of which Volume XII, extending to Reval, is at hand, is a monument to the enterprise of American Catholics. On all subjects relating to the history, doctrine, and practice of the Church of Rome it is a storehouse of the authorized information and instruction required by its clergy and laity. Consequently it is for Protestants also a highly valuable source of official information concerning matters both of fact and opinion as viewed The from another standpoint than their own. article on the Philippines, illustrated by a fine large map, is one of very many to which little or no exception can be taken. Many are of another kind. The article on "Religious Life" defines this as limited to the celibate and more or less ascetic life of priests, monks, and nuns: "Those who embrace it are called religious." "The religious state" is theirs alone who have taken an irrevocable vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience to ecclesiastical superiors. An "evangelical" ideal so impracticable except to few is condemned by its double standard of religious effort, relaxing to the moral nerve of the laity except among the finer-grained minority.

[ocr errors]

Mind of Primitive Man (The). By Franz Boaz. The Macmillan Company, New York. $1.50. Professor Boaz writes in a thoroughly scientific spirit, and his book is all the more effective for that reason. It goes far to show that racial prejudices are prejudices, not scientific judg ments; that there are no such inherent and essential differences in races as prejudice assumes; that racial purity in the scientific sense of that term is practically unknown; and

that the danger to the United States from its admixture of races is wholly an imaginary danger. He sums up his conclusion in the following sentence: "I hope the discussions contained in these pages have shown that the data of anthropology teach us a greater tolerance of forms of civilization different from our own, and that we should learn to look upon foreign races with greater sympathy, and with the conviction that, as all races have contributed in the past to cultural progress in one way or another, so they will be capable of advancing the interests of mankind, if we are only willing to give them a fair opportunity."

Autobiographic Memoirs. By Frederic Harrison, D.C.L., Litt.D., LL.D. The Macmillan Com. pany, New York. $7.50.

Frederic Harrison is an interesting character, whose contributions to political and religious thought are those rather of the magazinist or journalist than those of the statesman or the philosopher. His importance hardly justifies so full a memoir as this. For American readers at least, one volume of autobiography would have served better than two.

Resurrection in the New Testament (The). By Clayton R. Bowen, A.B., B.D. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York. $1.75.

A very careful study of the testimony in the New Testament of the Resurrection, with the conclusion that the faith of the disciples in the Resurrection depended more upon their comprehension of Christ's personal character, with the resultant conviction that he could not be holden by death, than upon crude, material, sensible evidence of a corpse revivified." The book impresses us by its combination of entire frankness and vital faith.

Saint Bernard, from Papers of Theodore Parker. American Unitarian Association, Boston. The Centenary edition of Theodore Parker's Works, in fourteen volumes, is brought to a close with this volume. We agree with the opinion of the editor in his preface, “that no memorial of this great American preacher and social reformer has been more appropriate or will better preserve his name and influence to succeeding generations than the present reissue of his collected writings.' Widely as The Outlook differs from Theodore Parker's theological opinions on some vital points, it heartily recognizes him as a great religious teacher and a fearless social reformer.

[ocr errors]

Minister and the Spiritual Life (The). By Frank

W. Gunsaulus, D.D., LL.D. The Fleming H. Revell
Company, New York. $1.25.

The 1911 series of Yale Lectures on Preaching, given by Dr. Frank W. Gunsaulus, minister of the Central Church in Chicago, and also President of the Armour Institute in that city, has for its theme "The Minister and the Spiritual Life." It is distinctively Christocentric, exhibiting spiritual life as flowing in full vigor only


from complete personal fellowship with the spirit of Jesus Christ. Its method is realistic in its view of spiritual life as a reality to be estimated in view of the present conditions and convictions, which are somewhat different from those of the passing order of thought and life." This view occupies two lectures in presenting the spiritual life as related, first, to truth and orthodoxy, and, next, to the present social problem. Its exposure of grave and damaging failures is incisive: "Our orthodox rationalism in theology and political economy is our curse." Our deliverance is only in culture of the spiritual life. This "has well-nigh Christianized socalled Christian theology. May not culture Christianize our political economy?"

Problem of Freedom (The). By George Herbert Palmer. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. $1.25.

Professor Palmer discusses the old but evernew problem of fate and free will, and shows that the most difficult problem in philosophy can be discussed with a simplicity of style and a clarity of illustration that make it enjoyable to the non-scholastic reader. Without attempting to interpret his teaching in a sentence, we may say that he will give to most readers a ground for the practical faith which most men entertain, that law and liberty are not the antagonists which philosophy has too often represented them to be.

Napoleon I. A Biography. By August Fournier. Translated by Annie Elizabeth Adams. In 2 vols. Henry Holt & Co., New York City. $8. Fournier's "Life of Napoleon" has for more than fifteen years held a first place in the Napoleonic biographic library. Written by a German, its distinguishing characteristic is the lack of partisanship which characterizes most, if not all, of the French biographies. It is judicial in tone, but does not—perhaps for that very reason-present this most dramatic life in its most dramatic aspects. It has been well said of Dr. Fournier that he "is more concerned with historic causation than with historic contrast." This new edition in two volumes has been considerably increased in size by the addition of new material, and is furnished to the English reader in a new translation. It may be confidently recommended to the student of history as an excellent and, on the whole, impartial account of the life of one of the most enigmatical characters in history.

Riders of the Purple Sage. By Zane Grey. Harper & Brothers, New York. $1.30. The purple of the sage and of this title seems to have found its way into the author's style. Zane Grey is a capital writer of plot stories of the kind which rough-and-ready critics say are "full of good, red blood." This book has incident, plot, imagination, and romance; it would have been a quite unusual book in its class if it were not here and there over-written and oversensational.


Five expeditions are now attempting to reach the South Pole-one under Captain Amundsen, of Norway, in the famous Arctic exploring ship the Fram; one, a German expedition, under Lieutenant Filchner, in the Deutschland; a third, under Dr. Mawson, of Australia, in the Aurora; a British expedition under Captain Scott, in the Terra Nova; and a Japanese expedition under Lieutenant Shirase. Besides these, an American expedition under Captain Bartlett, who commanded the Roosevelt in the Peary expedition to the North Pole, is being organized and hopes to snatch the prize at the last moment.

Apart from the dangers of extremely low temperatures, Polar exploration seems to be a healthful occupation. W. S. Bruce, leader of the Scotia expedition to the Antarctic in 1904, in his recently published book on "Polar Exploration" says that the death rate of Polar expedi tions is probably less than that of the healthiest town in Great Britain. He even predicts that sanatoriums will be established in Spitzbergen and other Arctic lands on account of their immunity from rheumatism, colds, and bacterial diseases generally.

The democratic influence of some famous English schools is illustrated by the tact, as stated by an exchange, that Prince George of Teck, the Queen's brother, now at Eton, is called "Teck" by his schoolmates, and is a "tag" for plain Mr. Freeman Thomas.

Thousands of people crossed the Hudson River from Tarrytown to Nyack on the ice last week. The river here is three miles wide, but the severe weather had frozen the water solidly from shore to shore, and made it practicable even for automobiles to cross in satety.

A novel church memorial, in the form of a landscape painting, is now being executed by Mr. Paul Cornoyer for a Springfield (Massachusetts) church. As a me morial to an art lover this was preferred by the donor to the tablet, portrait, or stained glass window which is usually selected for memorial purposes.

A firm of cotton brokers recently obtained a verdict of $36,684 against a telegraph company for an error in transmitting a message. The firm's order was: "Sell 20,000 [bales of cotton] March, 12.70." As received the message read: "Sell 20,000 March, 12.07." The market price was above 12.07, but the agent succeeded in disposing of the cotton at the lower figure, like the boy who was told that he must get twenty-five cents a dozen for the eggs, and who reported, "Everybody wanted to give thirty-five, but I beat 'em down!"

Readers of Israel Zangwill's "The King of Schnorrers" may have looked on that marvelous mendicant as a purely imaginary character; but the schnorrers, according to London "Truth," are still much in evidence in England about Christmas time. "The schnorrers of Jerusalem," says that journal, "as usual, flooded England with Christmas appeals, and a good deal of British charity is still annually wasted on these mendicants." Every visitor to Jerusalem, it is stated, is marked for the schnorrers' ingenious appeals.

Queen Victoria of Spain is said to be a connoisseur of old lace. Among her most valued treasures of this description is a wonderful piece of lace brought to England four hundred years ago by Catherine of Aragon when she came to marry Prince Arthur and then to be Queen to Henry VIII. When the English princess became the Spanish Queen, this historic treasure was bestowed upon her as a most appropriate wedding present.

The New York City Fire Department is to be equipped with an apparatus which, by the use of a blast of combined oxygen and acetylene gas, will sever steel bars an inch thick in five minutes. During the recent Equitable Building fire it took an hour and twenty minutes to cut, with a hand-saw, similar bars that held three men prisoners. The new method promises well for the fire-fighters, but

what will the police do when the cracks men get to using the acetylene blast on the sate deposit companies' steelbarred windows?

Dr. P. H. Eijkman, chairman of the Roentgen Ray Society of the Netherlands and the originator et X ray moving pictures, is in America in the interests of a central organization of international scientific societies. There are some six hundred of these societies, it seems, and it is Dr. Eijkman's plan, as reported, to federate them in one central international body.

[ocr errors]

Joseph Conrad, author of "Youth," Typhoon," and other popular sea stories, is a native of Poland. He has two vocations: one is "author," and this he is apt to spell with a small a; the other is "Master in the Merchant Service," and this title shows that the nautical knowledge of his novels is no second-hand dictionary lore, but is honestly come by through practical experience.

The University of Paris is said to have 17,000 students; the Mohammedan university in Cairo, 10,000; the University of Berlin, 9,600; the Universities of Moscow and of St. Petersburg, each 9,000; while Columbia University in New York City has nearly 8,000.

New Zealand, which has introduced so many innovations in governmental matters, has a convenient plan for doing away with postage stamps on large consignments of mail matter. A machine stamps the amount of the postage on the letter or paper. This machine is sold to the user, and the sums recorded by it are collected by the post-office from time to time.

Ogden Mills Reid, son of Whitelaw Reid, Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, has been elected President of the New York "Tribune" Association, and will henceforth take a leading part in directing the newspaper with which his family has long been associated.

A letter from Edward FitzGerald, the translator of Omar Khayyám, has recently been published which contains an interesting allusion to Dickens, whom FitzGerald admired without admiring his imitators: "One is rejoiced to get hold of a Book nowadays that is naturally and easily written, without all that Epigrammatic & Graphic slang which has been the fashion since Dickens's days perhaps. I love Dickens too: but if I had to write books, should return to dip myself in Sir Walter."

The Brick Presbyterian Church of New York City, located at Fifth Avenue and Thirty-seventh Street, is to start a woman's lunch-room for the benefit of the business women of the neighborhood. This section of the famous avenue has practically ceased to be a residence district, and the church is sensibly recognizing the needs of the new population. A daily noonday religious service is also to be instituted.

Lafcadio Hearn is quoted in an exchange as saying, "I think that the language of scholarship will have to be thrown away for the purposes of creative art." As a protest against pedantic expression this dictum may have force; but will not the supreme literary artist always employ all the resources of his language-both the vernacular and the classical vocabulary? Shakespeare in England and Whitman in America, for instance, knew their native tongue both as the rustic and as the scholar know it, and they used both vocabularies-and then probably sighed for more and better words.

Wireless messages, according to the "Electrical Review," have been sent from an aeroplane a distance of thirty-five miles, from an elevation of 1,600 feet. The apparatus weighs about fifty pounds; power is supplied by the aeroplane's gasoline motor; and a wire 120 feet long suspended from the flying-machine forms the aerial conductor. These messages were received at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

« PredošláPokračovať »