Nine Short Essays
Charles Dudley Warner

This etext was produced by David Widger


By Charles Dudley Warner




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the statue speak for itself.


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