The Hohenzollerns in America
Part 3 out of 4
connection with my name. Though I think that the thing
ought to be said by SOMEBODY. I think you might say it.
(Let me pour you out another glass of this Conquistador:
yes, it's the old '87: but I suppose we'll never get any
more of it on this side: they say that the rich Spaniards
are making so much money they're buying up every cask of
it and it will never be exported again. Just another
illustration of the way that the war hits everybody
alike.) But, as I was saying, I think if YOU were to
raise a complaint about the income tax, you'd find the
whole country--I mean all the men with incomes--behind
you. I don't suppose they'd want you to mention their
names. But they'd be BEHIND you, see? They'd all be there.
(Will you try one of these Googoolias? They're the very
best, but I guess we'll never see them again. They say
the rich Cubans are buying them up. So the war hits us
there, too.) As I see it, the income tax is the greatest
mistake the government ever made. It hits the wrong man.
It falls on the man with an income and lets the other
man escape. The way I look at it, and the way all the
men that will be behind you look at it, is that if a man
sticks tight to it and goes on earning all the income he
can, he's doing his bit, in his own way, to win the war.
All we ask is to be let alone (don't put that in your
notes as from me, but you can say it), let us alone to
go on quietly piling up income till we get the Germans
licked. But if you start to take away our income, you
discourage us, you knock all the patriotism out of us.
To my mind, a man's income and his patriotism are the
same thing. But, of course, don't say that I said that."
The just complaint of my barber, as expressed in the
pauses of his operations.
"I'm not saying nothing against the Government (any facial
massage this morning?). I guess they know their own
business, or they'd ought to, anyway. But I kick at all
this talk against the barber business in war time (will
I singe them ends a bit?). The papers are full of it,
all the time. I don't see much else in them. Last week
I saw where a feller said that all the barber shops ought
to be closed up (bay rum?) till the war was over. Say,
I'd like to have him right here in this chair with a
razor at his throat, the way I have you! As I see it,
the barber business is the most necessary business in
the whole war. A man'll get along without everything
else, just about, but he can't get along without a shave,
can he?--or not without losing all the pep and self-respect
that keeps him going. They say them fellers over in France
has to shave every morning by military order: if they
didn't the Germans would have 'em beat. I say the barber
is doing his bit as much as any man. I was to Washington
four months last winter, and I done all the work of three
senators and two congressmen (will I clip that neck?)
and I done the work of a United States Admiral every
Saturday night. If that ain't war work, show me what is.
But I don't kick, I just go along. If a man appreciates
what I do, and likes to pay a little extra for it, why
so much the better, but if he's low enough to get out of
this chair you're in and walk off without giving a cent
more than he has to, why let him go. But, sometimes, when
I get thinking about all this outcry about barber's work
in war time, I feel like following the man to the door
and slitting his throat for him... Thank you, sir; thank
you, sir. Good morning. Next!"
The just complaint of Mr. Singlestone;--formerly Mr.
Einstein, Theatre Proprietor.
"I would be the last man, the very last, to say one word
against the Government. I think they are doing fine. I
think the boys in the trenches are doing fine. I think
the nation is doing fine. But, if there's just one thing
where they're wrong, it's in the matter of the theatres.
I think it would be much better for the Government not
to attempt to cut down or regulate theatres in any way.
The theatre is the people's recreation. It builds them
up. It's all part of a great machine to win the war. I
like to stand in the box office and see the money come
in and feel that the theatre is doing its bit. But, mind
you, I think the President is doing fine. So, all I say
is, I think the theatres ought to be allowed to do fine,
The just complaint of Mr. Silas Heck, farmer, as
interviewed by me, incognito, at the counter of the
Gold Dollar Saloon.
"Yes, sir, I say the Government's in the wrong, and I
don't care who hears me. (Say, is that feller in the
slick overcoat listening? Let's move along a little
further.) They're right to carry on the war for all the
nation is worth. That's sound and I'm with 'em. But they
ought not to take the farmer offen his farm. There I'm
agin them. The farmer is the one man necessary for the
country. They say they want bacon for the Allies. Well,
the way I look at it is, if you want bacon, you need
hogs. And if there are no men left in the country like
me, what'll you do for hogs!
"Thanks, was you paying for that? I guess we won't have
another, eh? Two of them things might be bad for a feller."
So, when I used to listen to the complaints of this sort
that rose on every side, I was glad that I was not
President of the United States.
At the same time I DO think that the Government makes a
mistake in taxing the profits of the poor book writers
under the absurd name of INCOME. But let that go. The
Kaiser would probably treat us worse.
I.--Some Startling Side Effects of the War
"There is no doubt," said Mr. Taft recently, "that the
war is destined to effect the most profound uplift and
changes, not only in our political outlook, but upon our
culture, our thought and, most of all, upon our literature."
I am not absolutely certain that Mr. Taft really said
this. He may not have said "uplift." But I seem to have
heard something about uplift, somewhere. At any rate,
there is no doubt of the fact that our literature has
moved--up or down. Yes, the war is not only destined to
affect our literature, but it has already done so. The
change in outlook, in literary style, in mode of expression,
even in the words themselves is already here.
Anybody can see it for himself by turning over the pages
of our fashionable novels or by looking at the columns
of our great American and English newspapers and
But stop,--let me show what I mean by examples. I have
them here in front of me. Take, for example, the London
Spectator. Everybody recognised in it a model of literary
dignity and decorum. Even those who read it least, admitted
this most willingly; in fact, perhaps all the more so.
In its pages to-day one finds an equal dignity of thought,
yet, somehow, the wording seems to have undergone an
alteration. One cannot say just where the change comes
in. It is what the French call a je ne sais quoi, a
something insaisissable, a sort of nuance, not amounting
of course to a lueur, but still,--how shall one put
The example that is given below was taken almost word
for word (indeed some of the words actually were so) from
the very latest copy of The Spectator.
EDITORIAL FROM THE LONDON "SPECTATOR"
Showing the Stimulating Effect of the War on Its
"There is no doubt that our boys, and the Americans, are
going some on the western front. We have no hesitation
in saying that last week's scrap was a cinch for the
boys. It is credibly reported by our correspondent at
The Hague that the German Emperor, the Crown Prince and
a number of other guys were eye witnesses of the fight.
If so, they got the surprise of their young lives. While
we should not wish to show anything less than the chivalrous
consideration for a beaten enemy which has been a tradition
of our nation, we feel it is but just to say that for
once the dirty pups got what was coming to them. We are
glad to learn from official quarters that His Majesty
King George has been graciously pleased to telegraph to
General Pershing, 'Soak it to 'em--and THEN some.'
"Meantime the situation from the point of view both of
terrain and of tactics remains altogether in our favour.
The deep salient driven into the German lines near Soissons
threatens to break up their communications and force a
withdrawal on a wide front. We cannot make the position
clearer to our English readers than by saying that our
new lines occupy, as it were, the form of a baseball
diamond, with Soissons at second base and with our
headquarters at the home plate and our artillery support
at third. Our readers will at once grasp the fact that,
with our advance pivoted on the pitcher's box and with
adequate cover at short, the thing is a lead-pipe cinch,
--in fact, we have them lashed to the mast.
"Meantime the mood of the hour should be one, not of
undue confidence or boastfulness, but of quiet resolution
and deep thankfulness. As the Archbishop of Canterbury
so feelingly put it in his sermon in Westminster Abbey
last Sunday, 'Now that we have them by the neck let us
go on, in deep and steadfast purpose, till we have twisted
the gizzard out of them.'
"The Archbishop's noble words should, and will, re-echo
in every English home."
Critical people may be inclined to doubt the propriety,
or even the propinquity, of some of the literary changes
due to the war. But there can be no doubt of the excellent
effect of one of them, namely, the increasing knowledge
and use among us of the pleasant language of France. It
is no exaggeration to say that, before the war, few people
in the United States, even among the colored population,
spoke French with ease. In fact, in some cases the
discomfort was so obvious as to be almost painful. This
is now entirely altered. Thanks to our military guide-books,
and to the general feeling of the day, our citizens are
setting themselves to acquire the language of our gallant
ally. And the signs are that they will do it. One hears
every day in metropolitan society such remarks as, "Have
you read, 'Soo le foo?'" "Oh, you mean that book by
Haingri Barbooze? No, I have not read it yet, but I have
read 'Mong Swassant Quinz' you know, by that other man."
This is hopeful indeed. Nor need we wonder that our best
magazines are reflecting the same tendency.
Here for instance are the opening sentences of a very
typical serial now running in one of our best periodicals:
for all I know the rest of the sentences may be like
them. At any rate, any magazine reader will recognize
them at once:
BONNE MERE PITOU
A Conte of Old Normandy
Bonne Mere Pitou sat spinning beside the porte of the
humble chaumiere in which she dwelt. From time to time
her eyes looked up and down the gran' route that passed
"Il ne vient pas," she murmured (he does not come).
She rose wearily and went dedans. Presently she came out
again, dehors. "Il ne vient toujours pas," she sighed
(he still does not come).
About her in the tall trees of the allee the percherons
twittered while the soft roucoulement of the bees murmured
drowsily in the tall calice of the chou-fleur.
"Il n'est pas venu," she said (perfect tense, third
singular, he is not, or has not, come).
Can we blame him if he didn't? No doubt he was still
studying his active verb before tackling Mere Pitou.
But there! Let it pass. In any case it is not only the
magazines, but the novels themselves, that are being
transformed by the war. Witness this:
BY ONE OF OUR MOST POPULAR NOVELISTS
"It was in the summer house, at the foot of the old
garden, that the awaited declaration came. Edwin kneeled
at Angelina's feet. At last they were alone! The successful
barrage of conversation which he had put up at breakfast
had compelled her mother to remain in her trenches, and
had driven her father to the shelter of his dug-out. Her
younger brother he had camouflaged with the present of
a new fishing rod, thus inducing him to retire to the
river. The communications with the servants had been cut.
Of the strict neutrality of the gardener he was already
assured. Edwin felt that the moment had come for going
over the top. Yet being an able strategist, he was anxious
not to attempt to advance on too wide a front.
"Angelina!" he exclaimed, raising himself to one knee
with his hands outstretched toward her. The girl started
as at the sound of an air bomb; for a moment she elevated
her eyes and looked him full in the tangent, then she
lowered them again but continued to observe him through
her mental periscope.
"Angelina," he repeated, "I have a declaration to make."
"As from what date?" she questioned quietly. Edwin drew
his watch from his pocket.
"As from this morning, at ten-forty-six," he said. Then,
emboldened by her passive attitude, he continued with
rising passion in his tone.
"Ever since I first met you I have felt that I could not
live without you. I am a changed man. My calibre is
altered. I feel ten centimeters wider in the mouth than
I did six weeks ago. I feel that my path is altered. I
have a new range and an angle of elevation such as I
never experienced before. I have hidden my love as best
I could till now. I have worn a moral gas-mask before
your family. I can do so no longer. Angelina, will you
be mine, forming with me a single unit, drawing our
rations from the same field kitchen and occupying the
same divisional headquarters?"
The girl seemed to hesitate. She raised her eyes to his.
"We know one another so little," she murmured.
Edwin felt that his offensive was failing. He therefore
hastened to bring up his means of support.
"I have an ample income of my own," he pleaded.
Angelina raised her eyes again. It was evident that she
was about to surrender. But at this moment her mother's
voice was heard calling, "Angelina, Angelina, my dear,
where are you?"
The barrage had broken down.
"Quick," said the girl, "mobilize yourself. Pick up that
tennis racket and let us hurry to the court and dig
"But my declaration," urged Edwin eagerly.
"Accepted," she said, "as from eleven-two this morning."
1.--The Art of Conversation
I--HOW TO INTRODUCE TWO PEOPLE TO ONE ANOTHER
Nothing is more important in introducing two people to
each other than to employ a fitting form of words. The
more usually recognized forms are easily learned and
committed to memory and may be utilized as occasion
requires. I pass over such rudimentary formulas as "Ed,
shake hands with Jim Taylor," or, "Boys, this is Pete,
the new hand; Pete, get hold of the end of that cant-hook."
In fact, we are speaking only of polite society as graced
by the fair sex, the only kind that we need care about.
The Third Avenue Procedure
A very neat and convenient form is that in vogue in Third
Avenue circles, New York, as, for instance, at a
fifty-cents-a-head dance (ladies free) in the hall of
the Royal Knights of Benevolence.
"Miss Summerside, meet Mr. O'Hara," after which Miss
Summerside says very distinctly, "Mr. O'Hara," and Mr.
O'Hara says with equal clearness "Miss Summerside." In
this circle a mark of exquisite breeding is found in the
request to have the name repeated. "I don't quite catch
the name!" says Mr. O'Hara critically; then he catches
it and repeats it--"Miss Summerside."
"Catching the name" is a necessary part of this social
encounter. If not caught the first time it must be put
over again. The peculiar merit of this introduction is
that it lets Miss Summerside understand clearly that Mr.
O'Hara never heard of her before. That helps to keep her
in her place.
In superior circles, however, introduction becomes more
elaborate, more flattering, more unctuous. It reaches
its acme in what everyone recognizes at once as
The Clerical Method
This is what would be instinctively used in Anglican
circles--as, for example, by the Episcopal Bishop of Boof
in introducing a Canon of the Church to one of the "lady
workers" of the congregation (meaning a lady too rich to
work) who is expected to endow a crib in the Diocesan
Home for Episcopal Cripples. A certain quantity of soul
has to be infused into this introduction. Anybody who
has ever heard it can fill in the proper accentuation,
which must be very rich and deep.
"Oh, Mrs. Putitover, MAY I introduce my very dear old
friend, Canon Cutitout? The Canon, Mrs. Putitover, is
one of my DEAREST friends. Mrs. Putitover, my dear Canon,
is quite one of our most enthusiastic workers."
After which outburst of soul the Bishop is able to add,
"Will you excuse me, I'm afraid I simply MUST run."
Personally, I have never known or met a Bishop in society
in any other situation than just about to run. Where they
run to, I do not know. But I think I understand what they
The Lounge Room of the Club
Equally high in the social scale but done quite differently
is the Club Introduction. It is done by a club man who,
for the life of him, can't remember the names of either
of the two club men whom he is introducing, and who each,
for the life of him, can't think of the name of the man
they are being introduced by. It runs--
"Oh, I say, I beg your pardon--I thought, of course, you
two fellows knew one another perfectly well--let me
Later on, after three whiskey-and-sodas, each of the
three finds out the names of the other two, surreptitiously
from the hall porter. But it makes no difference. They
forget them again anyway. Now let us move up higher, in
fact, very high. Let us approach the real thing.
Introduction to H.E. the Viceroy of India, K.C.B.,
The most exalted form of introduction is seen in the
presentation of Mr. Tomkins, American tourist, to H.E.
the Viceroy of India. An aide-de-camp in uniform at the
foot of a grand staircase shouts, "Mr. Tomkins!" An
aide-de-camp at the top (one minute later) calls "Mr.
Thompson"; another aide, four feet further on, calls "Mr.
Then a military secretary, standing close to His Excellency,
takes Mr. Tomkins by the neck and bends him down toward
the floor and says very clearly and distinctly, "Mr.
Torpentine." Then he throws him out by the neck into the
crowd beyond and calls for another. The thing is done.
Mr. Tomkins wipes the perspiration from his hair with
his handkerchief and goes back at full speed to the Hoogli
Hotel, Calcutta, eager for stationery to write at once
to Ohio and say that he knows the Viceroy.
The Office Introduction, One-sided
This introduction comes into our office, slipping past
whoever keeps the door with a packet of books under its
arm. It says--
"Ledd me introduze myself. The book proposition vidge I
am introduzing is one vidge ve are now pudding on the
Then, of two things, one--
Either a crash of glass is heard as the speaker is hurled
through the skylight, or he walks out twenty minutes
later, bowing profusely as he goes, and leaving us gazing
in remorse at a signed document entitling us to receive
the "Masterpieces of American Poetry" in sixty volumes.
On the Stage
Everything on the stage is done far better than in real
life. This is true of introductions. There is a warmth,
a soul, in the stage introduction not known in the chilly
atmosphere of everyday society. Let me quote as an example
of a stage introduction the formula used, in the best
melodramatic art, in the kitchen-living-room (stove right
centre) of the New England farm.
"Neighbour Jephson's son, this is my little gal, as good
and sweet a little gal, as mindful of her old father, as
you'll find in all New England. Neighbour Jephson's son,
she's been my all in all to me, this little gal, since
I laid her mother in the ground five Christmases ago--"
The speaker is slightly overcome and leans against a
cardboard clock for strength: he recovers and goes
on--"Hope, this is Neighbour Jephson's son, new back from
over the seas, as fine a lad, gal, if he's like the folk
that went before him, as ever followed the sea. Hope,
your hand. My boy, your hand. See to his comfort, Hope,
while I go and read the Good Book a spell in the barnyard."
The Indian Formula
Many people, tired of the empty phrases of society, look
back wistfully to the simple direct speech of savage
life. Such persons will find useful the usual form of
introduction (the shorter form) prevalent among our North
American Indians (at least as gathered from the best
"Friends and comrades who are worthy,
See and look with all your eyesight,
Listen with your sense of hearing,
Gather with your apprehension--
Bow your heads, O trees, and hearken.
Hush thy rustling, corn, and listen;
Turn thine ear and give attention;
Ripples of the running water,
Pause a moment in your channels--
Here I bring you,--Hiawatha."
The last line of this can be changed to suit the particular
case. It can just as easily read, at the end, "Here is
Henry Edward Eastwood," or, "Here is Hal McGiverin,
Junior," or anything else. All names fit the sense. That,
in fact, was the wonderful art of Longfellow--the sense
being independent of the words.
The Platform Introduction
Here is a form of introduction cruelly familiar to those
who know it. It is used by the sour-looking villain
facetiously called in newspaper reports the "genial
chairman" of the meeting. While he is saying it the victim
in his little chair on the platform is a target for the
eyes of a thousand people who are wondering why he wears
"The next speaker, ladies and gentlemen, is one who needs
no introduction to this gathering. His name" (here the
chairman consults a little card) "is one that has become
a household word. His achievements in" (here the chairman
looks at his card again, studies it, turns it upside down
and adds) "in many directions are familiar to all of
you." There is a feeble attempt at applause and the
chairman then lifts his hand and says in a plain
business-like tone--"Will those of the audience who are
leaving kindly step as lightly as possible." He is about
to sit down, but then adds as a pleasant afterthought
for the speaker to brood over--"I may say, while I am on
my feet, that next week our society is to have a REAL
treat in hearing--et cetera and so forth--"
II--HOW TO OPEN A CONVERSATION
After the ceremony of introduction is completed the next
thing to consider is the proper way to open a conversation.
The beginning of conversation is really the hardest part.
It is the social equivalent to "going over the top." It
may best be studied in the setting and surroundings of
the Evening Reception, where people stand upright and
agonise, balancing a dish of ice-cream. Here conversation
reaches its highest pitch of social importance. One must
talk or die. Something may be done to stave it off a
little by vigorous eating. But the food at such affairs
is limited. There comes a point when it is absolutely
necessary to say something.
The beginning, as I say, is the hardest problem. Other
communities solve it better than we do.
The Chinese System
In China conversation, between strangers after introduction,
is always opened by the question, "And how old are YOU?"
This strikes me as singularly apt and sensible. Here is
the one thing that is common ground between any two
people, high or low, rich or poor--how far are you on
your pilgrimage in life?
The Penetentiary Method
Compare with the Chinese method the grim, but very
significant formula that is employed (I believe it is a
literal fact) in the exercise yards of the American
penitentiaries. "What have YOU brought?" asks the San
Quentin or Sing Sing convict of the new arrival, meaning,
"And how long is your sentence?" There is the same human
touch about this, the same common ground of interest, as
in the Chinese formula.
But in our polite society we have as yet found no better
method than beginning with a sort of medical diagnosis--"How
do you do?" This admits of no answer. Convention forbids
us to reply in detail that we are feeling if anything
slightly lower than last week, but that though our
temperature has risen from ninety-one-fifty to
ninety-one-seventy-five, our respiration is still normal.
Still worse is the weather as an opening topic. For it
either begins and ends as abruptly as the medical diagnosis,
or it leads the two talkers on into a long and miserable
discussion of the weather of yesterday, of the day before
yesterday, of last month, of last year and the last fifty
Let one beware, however, of a conversation that begins
The Mutual Friends' Opening
This can be seen at any evening reception, as when the
hostess introduces two people who are supposed to have
some special link to unite them at once with an
instantaneous snap, as when, for instance, they both come
from the same town.
"Let me introduce Mr. Sedley," said the hostess. "I think
you and Mr. Sedley are from the same town, Miss Smiles.
Miss Smiles, Mr. Sedley."
Off they go at a gallop. "I'm so delighted to meet you,"
says Mr. Sedley. "It's good to hear from anybody who
comes from our little town." (If he's a rollicking
humourist, Mr. Sedley calls it his little old "burg.")
"Oh, yes," answers Miss Smiles. "I'm from Winnipeg too.
I was so anxious to meet you to ask if you knew the
McGowans. They're my greatest friends at home."
"The--who?" asks Mr. Sedley.
"The McGowans--on Selkirk Avenue."
"No-o, I don't think I do. I know the Prices on Selkirk
Avenue. Of course you know them."
"The Prices? No, I don't believe I do--I don't think I
ever heard of the Prices. You don't mean the Pearsons?
I know them very well."
"No, I don't know the Pearsons. The Prices live just near
"No, then I'm sure I don't know them. The Pearsons live
close to the college."
"Close to the College? Is it near the William Kennedys?"
"I don't think I know the William Kennedys."
This is the way the conversation goes on for ten minutes.
Both Mr. Sedley and Miss Smiles are getting desperate.
Their faces are fixed. Their sentences are reduced to--
"Do you know the Petersons?"
"No. Do you know the Appleby's?"
"No. Do you know the Willie Johnsons?"
Then at last comes a rift in the clouds. One of them
happens to mention Beverley Dixon. The other is able to
"Beverley Dixon? Oh, yes, rather. At least, I don't KNOW
him, but I used often to hear the Applebys speak of him."
And the other exclaims with equal delight--
"I don't know him very well either, but I used to hear
the Willie Johnsons talk about him all the time."
They are saved.
Half an hour after they are still standing there talking
of Beverly Dixon.
The Etiquette Book
Personally I have suffered so much from inability to
begin a conversation that not long ago I took the extreme
step of buying a book on the subject. I regret to say
that I got but little light or help from it. It was
written by the Comtesse de Z--. According to the preface
the Comtesse had "moved in the highest circles of all
the European capitals." If so, let her go on moving there.
I for one, after trying her book, shall never stop her.
This is how the Comtesse solves the problem of opening
"In commencing a conversation, the greatest care should
be devoted to the selection of a topic, good taste
demanding that one should sedulously avoid any subject
of which one's vis-a-vis may be in ignorance. Nor are
the mere words alone to be considered. In the art of
conversation much depends upon manner. The true
conversationalist must, in opening, invest himself with
an atmosphere of interest and solicitude. He must, as we
say in French, be prepared to payer les rais de la
conversation. In short, he must 'give himself an air.'"
There! Go and do it if you can. I admit that I can't. I
have no idea what the French phrase above means, but I
know that personally I cannot "invest myself with an
atmosphere of interest." I might manage about two per
cent on five hundred dollars. But what is that in these
days of plutocracy?
At any rate I tried the Comtesse's directions at a
reception last week, on being introduced to an unknown
lady. And they failed. I cut out nearly all the last
part, and confined myself merely to the proposed selection
of a topic, endeavouring to pick it with as much care as
if I were selecting a golf club out of a bag. Naturally
I had to confine myself to the few topics that I know
about, and on which I can be quite interesting if I get
"Do you know any mathematics?" I asked.
"No," said the lady.
This was too bad. I could have shown her some good puzzles
about the squares of the prime numbers up to forty-one.
I paused and gave myself more air.
"How are you," I asked, "on hydrostatics?"
"I beg your pardon," she said. Evidently she was ignorant
"Have you ever studied the principles of aerial navigation?"
"No," She answered.
I was pausing again and trying to invest myself with an
air of further interest, when another man was introduced
to her, quite evidently, from his appearance, a vapid
jackass without one tenth of the brain calibre that I
"Oh, how do you do?" he said. "I say, I've just heard
that Harvard beat Princeton this afternoon. Great, isn't it?"
In two minutes they were talking like old friends. How
do these silly asses do it?
When Dressed Hogs are Dull
An equally unsuccessful type of conversation, often
overheard at receptions, is where one of the two parties
to it is too surly, too stupid, or too self-important
and too rich to talk, and the other labours in vain.
The surly one is, let us say, a middle-aged, thick-set
man of the type that anybody recognizes under the name
Money Hog. This kind of person, as viewed standing in
his dress suit, mannerless and stupid, too rich to have
to talk and too dull to know how to, always recalls to
my mind the head-line of the market reports in the
newspapers, "Dressed Hogs are Dull."
The other party to the conversation is a winsome and
agreeable woman, trying her best to do her social duty.
But, tenez, as the Comtesse of Z---- would say, I can
exactly illustrate the position and attitude of the two
of them from a recollection of my childhood. I remember
that in one of my nursery books of forty years ago there
was a picture entitled "The Lady in Love With A Swine."
A willowy lady in a shimmering gown leaned over the rail
of a tessellated pig-sty, in which an impossibly clean
hog stood in an attitude of ill-mannered immobility. With
the picture was the rhyming legend,
There was a Lady in love with a swine,
"Honey," said she, "will you be mine?
I'll build you a silver sty
And in it you shall lie."
"Honk!" said He.
There was something, as I recall it, in the sweet
willingness of the Lady that was singularly appealing,
and contrasted with the dull mannerless passivity of the
In each of the little stanzas that followed, the pretty
advances of the Lady were rebuffed by a surly and
monosyllabic "honk" from the hog.
Here is the social counterpart of the scene in the
picture-book. Mr. Grunt, capitalist, is standing in his
tessellated sty,--the tessellated sty being represented
by the hardwood floor of a fashionable drawing-room. His
face is just the same as the face of the pig in the
picture-book. The willowy lady, in the same shimmering
clothes and with the same pretty expression of eagerness,
is beside him.
"Oh, Mr. Grunt," she is saying, "how interesting it must
be to be in your place and feel such tremendous power.
Our hostess was just telling me that you own practically
all the shoemaking machinery factories--it IS shoe-making
machinery, isn't it?--east of Pennsylvania."
"Honk!" says Mr. Grunt.
"Shoe-making machinery," goes on the willowy lady (she
really knows nothing and cares less about it) "must be
absolutely fascinating, is it not?"
"Honk!" says Mr. Grunt.
"But still you must find it sometimes a dreadful strain,
do you not? I mean, so much brain work, and that sort of
"Honk!" says Mr. Grunt.
"I should love so much to see one of your factories. They
must be so interesting."
"Honk!" says Mr. Grunt. Then he turns and moves away
sideways. Into his little piggy eyes has come a fear that
the lady is going to ask him to subscribe to something,
or wants a block of his common stock, or his name on a
board of directors. So he leaves her. Yet if he had known
it she is probably as rich as he is, or richer, and hasn't
the faintest interest in his factories, and never intends
to go near one. Only she is fit to move and converse in
polite society and Mr. Grunt is not.
2.--Heroes and Heroines
"What are you reading?" I asked the other day of a blue-eyed
boy of ten curled up among the sofa cushions.
He held out the book for me to see.
"Dauntless Ned among the Cannibals," he answered.
"Is it exciting?" I enquired.
"Not very," said the child in a matter-of-fact tone. "But
it's not bad."
I took the book from him and read aloud at the opened page.
"In a compact mass the gigantic savages rushed upon our
hero, shrieking with rage and brandishing their huge
clubs. Ned stood his ground fearlessly, his back to a
banana tree. With a sweep of his cutlass he severed the
head of the leading savage from his body, while with a
back stroke of his dirk he stabbed another to the heart.
But resistance against such odds was vain. By sheer weight
of numbers, Ned was borne to the ground. His arms were
then pinioned with stout ropes made of the fibres of the
boobooda tree. With shrieks of exultation the savages
dragged our hero to an opening in the woods where a huge
fire was burning, over which was suspended an enormous
caldron of bubbling oil. 'Boil him, boil him,' yelled
the savages, now wrought to the point of frenzy."
"That seems fairly exciting, isn't it?" I said.
"Oh, he won't get boiled," said the little boy. "He's
So I knew that the child has already taken his first
steps in the disillusionment of fiction.
Of course he was quite right as to Ned. This wonderful
youth, the hero with whom we all begin an acquaintance
with books, passes unhurt through a thousand perils.
Cannibals, Apache Indians, war, battles, shipwrecks,
leave him quite unscathed. At the most Ned gets a flesh
wound which is healed, in exactly one paragraph, by that
wonderful drug called a "simple."
But the most amazing thing about this particular hero,
the boy Ned, is the way in which he turns up in all the
great battles and leading events of the world.
It was Ned, for example, who at the critical moment at
Gettysburg turned in his saddle to General Meade and said
quietly, "General, the day is ours." "If it is," answered
Meade, as he folded his field glass, "you alone, Ned,
have saved it."
In the same way Ned was present at the crossing of the
Delaware with Washington. Thus:--
"'What do you see, Ned?' said Washington, as they peered
from the leading boat into the driving snow.
"'Ice,' said Ned. 'My boy,' said the Great American
General, and a tear froze upon his face as he spoke, 'you
have saved us all.'"
Here is Ned at Runningmede when King John with his pen
in hand was about to sign the Magna Carta.
"For a moment the King paused irresolute, the uplifted
quill in his hand, while his crafty, furtive eyes indicated
that he might yet break his plighted faith with the
"Ned laid his mailed hand upon the parchment.
"'Sign it,' he said sternly, 'or take the consequences.'
"The King signed.
"'Ned,' said the Baron de Bohun, as he removed his iron
vizor from his bronze face, 'thou hast this day saved
In the stories of our boyhood in which Ned figured, there
was no such thing as a heroine, or practically none. At
best she was brought in as an afterthought. It was
announced on page three hundred and one that at the close
of Ned's desperate adventures in the West Indies he
married the beautiful daughter of Don Diego, the Spanish
governor of Portobello; or else, at the end of the great
war with Napoleon, that he married a beautiful and
accomplished French girl whose parents had perished in
Ned generally married away from home. In fact his marriages
were intended to cement the nations, torn asunder by
Ned's military career. But sometimes he returned to his
native town, all sunburned, scarred and bronzed from
battle (the bronzing effect of being in battle is always
noted): he had changed from a boy to a man: that is, from
a boy of fifteen to a man of sixteen. In such a case Ned
marries in his own home town. It is done after this
"But who is this who advances smiling to greet him as he
crosses the familiar threshold of the dear old house?
Can this tall, beautiful girl be Gwendoline, the
child-playmate of his boyhood?"
Well, can it? I ask it of every experienced reader--can
it or can it not?
Ned had his day, in the boyhood of each of us. We presently
passed him by. I am speaking, of course, of those of us
who are of maturer years and can look back upon thirty
or forty years of fiction reading. "Ned," flourishes
still, I understand, among the children of today. But
now he flies in aeroplanes, and dives in submarines, and
gives his invaluable military advice to General Joffre
and General Pershing.
But with the oncoming of adolescent years something softer
was needed than Ned with his howling cannibals and his
fusillade of revolver shots.
So the "Ned" of the Adventure Books was supplanted by
the Romantic Heroine of the Victorian Age and the
Long-winded Immaculate who accompanied her as the Hero.
I do not know when these two first opened their twin
career. Whether Fenimore Cooper or Walter Scott began
them, I cannot say. But they had an undisputed run on
two continents for half a century.
This Heroine was a sylph. Her chiefest charm lay in her
physical feebleness. She was generally presented to us
in some such words as these:
"Let us now introduce to our readers the fair Madeline
of Rokewood. Slender and graceful and of a form so fragile
that her frame scarce fitted to fulfil its bodily
functions...she appeared rather as one of those ethereal
beings of the air who might visit for a brief moment this
terrestrial scene, than one of its earthly inhabitants.
Her large, wondering eyes looked upon the beholder in
Sounds simple, doesn't it? One might suspect there was
something wrong with the girl's brain. But listen to
"The mind of Madeline, elegantly formed by the devoted
labours of the venerable Abbe, her tutor, was of a degree
of culture rarely found in one so young. Though scarce
eighteen summers had flown over her head at the time when
we introduce her to our readers, she was intimately
conversant with the French, Italian, Spanish, and Provencal
tongues. The abundant pages of history, both ancient and
modern, sacred and profane, had been opened for her by
her devoted instructor. In music she played with exquisite
grace and accuracy upon both the spinet and the harpsichord,
while her voice, though lacking something in compass,
was sweet and melodious to a degree."
From such a list of accomplishments it is clear that
Madeline could have matriculated, even at the Harvard
Law School, with five minutes preparation. Is it any
wonder that there was a wild rush for Madeline? In fact,
right after the opening description of the Heroine, there
follows an ominous sentence such as this:--
"It was this exquisite being whose person Lord Rip de
Viperous, a man whose reputation had shamed even the most
licentious court of the age, and had led to his banishment
from the presence of the king, had sworn to get within
Personally I don't blame Lord Rip a particle; it must
have been very rough on him to have been banished from
the presence of the king--enough to inflame a man to do
With two such characters in the story, the scene was set
and the plot and adventures followed as a matter of
course. Lord Rip de Viperous pursued the Heroine. But at
every step he is frustrated. He decoys Madeline to a
ruined tower at midnight, her innocence being such and
the gaps left in her education by the Abbe being so wide,
that she is unaware of the danger of ruined towers after
ten thirty P.M. In fact, "tempted by the exquisite clarity
and fulness of the moon, which magnificent orb at this
season spread its widest effulgence over all nature, she
accepts the invitation of her would-be-betrayer to gather
upon the battlements of the ruined keep the strawberries
which grew there in wild profusion."
But at the critical moment, Lord de Viperous is balked.
At the very instant when he is about to seize her in his
arms, Madeline turns upon him and says in such icy tones,
"Titled villain that you are, unhand me," that the man
is "cowed." He slinks down the ruined stairway "cowed."
And at every later turn, at each renewed attempt, Madeline
"cows" him in like fashion.
Moreover while Lord de Viperous is being thus cowed by
Madeline the Heroine, he is also being "dogged" by the
Hero. This counterpart of Madeline who shared her popularity
for fifty years can best be described as the Long-winded
Immaculate Hero. Entirely blameless in his morals, and
utterly virtuous in his conduct, he possessed at least
one means of defending himself. He could make speeches.
This he did on all occasions. With these speeches he
"dogged" Lord de Viperous. Here is the style of them:--
"'My Lord,' said Markham..." (incidentally let it be
explained that this particular brand of hero was always
known by his surname and his surname was always Markham)
--"'My lord, the sentiments that you express and the
demeanour which you have evinced are so greatly at variance
with the title that you bear and the lineage of which
you spring that no authority that you can exercise and
no threats that you are able to command shall deter me
from expressing that for which, however poor and inadequate
my powers of speech, all these of whom and for what I am
what I am, shall answer to it for the integrity of that,
which, whether or not, is at least as it is. My lord, I
have done. Or shall I speak more plainly still?'"
Is it to be wondered that after this harangue Lord Rip
sank into a chair, a hideous convulsion upon his face,
murmuring--"It is enough."
But successful as they were as Hero and Heroine, Markham
and Madeline presently passed off the scene. Where they
went to, I do not know. Perhaps Markham got elected in
the legislature of Massachusetts. At any rate they
disappeared from fiction.
There followed in place of Madeline, the athletic sunburned
heroine with the tennis racket. She was generally called
Kate Middleton, or some such plain, straightforward
designation. She wore strong walking boots and leather
leggings. She ate beef steak. She shot with a rifle. For
a while this Boots and Beef Heroine (of the middle
nineties) made a tremendous hit. She climbed crags in
the Rockies. She threw steers in Colorado with a lariat.
She came out strong in sea scenes and shipwrecks, and on
sinking steamers, where she "cowed" the trembling stewards
and "dogged" the mutinous sailors in the same fashion
that Madeline used to "cow" and "dog" Lord Rip de Viperous.
With the Boots and Beef Heroine went as her running mate
the out-of-doors man, whose face had been tanned and
whose muscles had been hardened into tempered steel in
wild rides over the Pampas of Patagonia, and who had
learned every art and craft of savage life by living
among the wild Hoodoos of the Himalayas. This
Air-and-Grass-man, as he may be called, is generally
supposed to write the story... He was "I" all through.
And he had an irritating modesty in speaking of his own
prowess. Instead of saying straight out that he was the
strongest and bravest man in the world, he implied it
indirectly on every page.
Here, for example, is a typical scene in which "I" and
Kate figure in a desperate adventure in the Rocky Mountains,
pursued by Indians.
"We are about to descend on a single cord from the summit
of a lofty crag, our sole chance of escape (and a
frightfully small chance at that) from the roving band
"With my eye I measured the fearsome descent below us.
"'Hold fast to the line, Miss Middleton,' I said as I
set my foot against a projecting rock. (Please note that
the Air-and-Grass Hero in these stories always calls the
Heroine Miss Middleton right up to the very end.)
"The noble girl seized the knotted end of the buckskin
line. 'All right, Mr. Smith,' she said with quiet
"I braced myself for the effort. My muscles like tempered
steel responded to the strain. I lowered a hundred fathoms
of the line. I could already hear the voice of Kate far
down the cliff.
"Don't let go the line, Miss Middleton,' I called. (Here
was an excellent piece of advice.)
"The girl's clear voice floated up to me... 'All right,
Mr. Smith,' she called, 'I won't.'"
Of course they landed safely at the foot of the cliff,
after the manner of all heroes and heroines. And here
it is that Kate in her turn comes out strong, at the
evening encampment, frying bacon over a blazing fire of
pine branches, while the firelight illuminates her leather
leggings and her rough but picturesque costume.
The circumstances might seem a little daring and improper.
But the reader knows that it is all right, because the
hero and heroine always call one another Miss Middleton
and Mr. Smith.
Not till right at the end, when they are just getting
back again to the confines of civilization, do they depart
Here is the scene that happens... The hero and heroine
are on the platform of the way-side depot where they are
to part... Kate to return to the luxurious home of her
aunt, Mrs. van der Kyper of New York, and the Air-and-Grass
Man to start for the pampas of Patagonia to hunt the
hoopoo. The Air-and-Grass Man is about to say goodbye.
Then... "'Kate,' I said, as I held the noble girl's gloved
hand in mine a moment. She looked me in the face with
the full, frank, fearless gaze of a sister.
"'Yes?' she answered.
"'Kate,' I repeated, 'do you know what I was thinking of
when I held the line while you were half way down the
"'No,' she murmured, while a flush suffused her cheek.
"'I was thinking, Kate,' I said, 'that if the rope broke
I should be very sorry.'
"'Edward!' she exclaimed.
"I clasped her in my arms.
"'Shall I make a confession,' said Kate, looking up
timidly, half an hour later, as I tenderly unclasped the
noble girl from my encircling arms, ...'I was thinking
the same thing too.'"
So Kate and Edward had their day and then, as Tennyson
says, they "passed," or as less cultivated people put
it, "they were passed up in the air."
As the years went by they failed to please. Kate was a
great improvement upon Madeline. But she wouldn't do.
The truth was, if one may state it openly, Kate wasn't
TOUGH enough. In fact she wasn't tough at all. She turned
out to be in reality just as proper and just as virtuous
So, too, with the Air-and-Grass Hero. For all of his
tempered muscles and his lariat and his Winchester rifle,
he was presently exposed as a fraud. He was just as
Long-winded and just as Immaculate as the Victorian Hero
that he displaced.
What the public really wants and has always wanted in
its books is wickedness. Fiction was recognised in its
infancy as being a work of the devil.
So the popular novel, despairing of real wickedness among
the cannibals, and in the ruined tower at midnight, and
on the open-air of the prairies, shifted its scenes again.
It came indoors. It came back to the city. And it gave
us the new crop of heroes and heroines and the scenes
and settings with which the fiction of to-day has replaced
the Heroes and Heroines of Yesterday. The Lure of the
City is its theme. It pursues its course to the music of
the ukalele, in the strident racket of the midnight
cabaret. Here move the Harvard graduate in his dinner
jacket, drunk at one in the morning. Here is the hard
face of Big Business scowling at its desk; and here the
glittering Heroine of the hour in her dress of shimmering
sequins, making such tepid creatures as Madeline and Kate
look like the small change out of a twenty-five cent
3.--The Discovery of America;
Being Done into Moving Pictures and Out Again
"No greater power for education," said President Shurman
the other day, "has come among us during the last forty
years than the moving picture."
I am not certain that it was President Shurman. And he
may not have said it the other day. Nor do I feel absolutely
sure that he referred to the LAST forty years. Indeed
now that I come to think of it, I don't believe it WAS
Shurman. In fact it may have been ex-President Eliot. Or
was it, perhaps, President Hadley of Yale? Or did I say
it myself? Judging by the accuracy and force of the
language, I think I must have. I doubt if Shurman or
Hadley could have put it quite so neatly. There's a touch
about it that I recognise.
But let that pass. At any rate it is something that
everybody is saying and thinking. All our educators have
turned their brains towards the possibility of utilising
moving pictures for the purpose of education. It is being
freely said that history and geography, and even arithmetic,
instead of being taught by the slow and painful process
of books and memory, can be imparted through the eye.
I had no sooner heard of this idea than I became impassioned
to put it into practice. I have therefore prepared, or
am preparing, a film, especially designed for the elementary
classes of our schools to narrate the story of the
discovery of America.
This I should like the reader to sit and see with me, in
the eye of his imagination. But let me first give the
plain, unvarnished account of the discovery of America
as I took it from one of our school histories.
"Christopher Columbus, otherwise Christoforo Colombo,
the celebrated discoverer of America, was born of poor
but honest parents in the Italian city of Genoa. His
mother, Teresa Colombo, seems to have been a woman of
great piety and intelligence. Of his father, Bartolomeo
Colombo, nothing is recorded. From his earliest youth
the boy Christopher developed a passion for mathematics,
astronomy, geodesy, and the other sciences of the
But, no,--stop! I am going too fast. The reader will get
it better if we turn it into pictures bit by bit as we
go on. Let the reader therefore imagine himself seated
before the curtain in the lighted theatre. All ready?
Very good. Let the music begin--Star Spangled Banner,
please--flip off the lights. Now then.
DISCOVERY OF AMERICA
BY THE BOARD OF CENSORS OF
NEW YORK STATE
There we are. That gives the child the correct historical
background right away. Now what goes on next? Let me see.
Ah, yes, of course. We throw an announcement on the
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS.. Mr. Quinn
Here the face of Mr. Quinn (in a bowler hat) is thrown
on the screen and fades out again.
We follow him up with
SPIRIT OF AMERICA.. Miss E. Dickenson
Now, we are ready to begin in earnest. Let us make the
scenario together. First idea to be expressed:
"Christopher Columbus was the son of poor but honest parents."
This might seem difficult to a beginner, but to those of
us who frequent the movies it is nothing. The reel spins
and we see--a narrow room--(it is always narrow in the
movies)--to indicate straitened circumstances--cardboard
furniture--high chairs with carved backs--two cardboard
beams across the ceiling (all this means the Middle
Ages)--a long dinner table--all the little Columbuses
seated at it--Teresa Colombo cutting bread at one end of
it--gives a slice to each, one slice (that means poverty
in the movies)--Teresa rolls her eyes up--all the little
children put their hands together and say grace (this
registers honesty). The thing is done. Let us turn back
to the history book and see what is to be put in next.
"...The father of Christopher, Bartolomeo Colombo, was
a man of no especial talent of whom nothing is recorded."
That's easy. First we announce him on the screen:
BARTOLOMEO COLOMBO.. Mr. Henderson
Then we stick him on the film on a corner of the room,
leaning up against the cardboard clock and looking at
the children. This attitude in the movies always indicates
a secondary character of no importance. His business is
to look at the others and to indicate forgetfulness of
self, incompetence, unimportance, vacuity, simplicity.
Note how this differs from the attitudes of important
characters. If a movie character--one of importance--is
plotting or scheming, he seats himself at a little round
table, drums on it with his fingers, and half closes one
eye. If he is being talked to, or having a letter or
document or telegram read to him, he stands "facing full"
and working his features up and down to indicate emotion
sweeping over them. If he is being "exposed" (which is
done by pointing fingers at him), he hunches up like a
snake in an angle of the room with both eyes half shut
and his mouth set as if he had just eaten a lemon. But
if he has none of these things to express and is only in
the scene as a background for the others, then he goes
over and leans in an easy attitude against the tall
That then is the place for Bartolomeo Colombo. To the
clock with him.
Now what comes next?
"...The young Christopher developed at an early age a
passion for study, and especially for astronomy, geometry,
geodesy, and the exact science of the day."
Quite easy. On spins the film. Young Christopher in a
garret room (all movie study is done in garrets). The
cardboard ceiling slopes within six inches of his head.
This shows that the boy never rises from his books. He
can't. On a table in front of him is a little globe and
a pair of compasses. Christopher spins the globe round.
Then he makes two circles with the compasses, one after
the other, very carefully. This is the recognised movie
symbol for mathematical research.
So there we have Christopher--poor, honest, studious,
full of circles.
Now to the book again.
"...The young Columbus received his education at the
monastery of the Franciscan monks at Genoa. Here he spent
Yes, but we can put that on the screen in seven seconds.
Turn on the film.
Movie Monastery--exterior, done in grey cardboard--ding,
dong, ding, dong (man in the orchestra with triangle and
stick)--procession of movie friars--faces more like thugs,
but never mind--they are friars because they walk two
and two in a procession, singing out of hymn books.
Now for the book again.
"...Fra Giacomo, the prior of the monastery, delighted
with the boy's progress, encourages his studies."
Wait a minute.
FRA GIACOMO... Mr. Edward Sims
Mr. Sims's face, clean-shaved under a round hat fades in and out.
Then the picture goes on. Movie monastery interior--young
Christopher, still at a table with compasses--benevolent friar
bending over him--Christopher turns the compasses and looks up
with a what-do-you-know-about-that look--astonishment and delight
of friar (registered by opening his eyes like a bull frog). All
this shows study, progress, application. The friars are delighted
with the boy.
"...Christopher, after seven years of study, reaches the
firm conviction that the world is round."
Picture. Christopher--with his globe--jumps up from
table--passes his fingers round and round the
globe--registers the joy of invention--seats himself at
table and draws circles with his compasses furiously. He
"...Fired with his discovery Christopher sets out from
Stop a minute, this is a little hard. Fired. How can we
show Christopher "fired." We can't. Perhaps he'll be
fired if the film is no good, but we must omit it just
"He sets out."
One second only for this. Monastery door (double cardboard
with iron across it)--Christopher leaving--carries a
wallet to mean distance. Fra Giacomo blessing him--fade
"...For eighteen years Columbus vainly travelled through
the world on foot offering his discovery at the courts
of Europe, in vain, though asking nothing in return for
it except a fleet of ships, two hundred men and provisions
for two years."
To anybody not used to scenarios this looks a large order.
Eighteen years seems difficult to put on the screen. In
reality this is exactly where the trained movie man sees
his chance. Here he can put in anything and everything
that he likes, bringing in, in a slightly mediaeval form,
all his favourite movie scenes.
Thus, for example, here we have first the good old midnight
cabaret supper scene--thinly disguised as the court of
the King of Sardinia. To turn a cabaret into a court the
movie men merely exchange their Fifth Avenue evening
dress for short coats and knee breeches, heavily wadded
and quilted, and wear large wigs. Quilted pants and wigs
register courtiers, the courtiers of anybody--Charlemagne,
Queen Elizabeth, Peter the Great, Louis Quatorze, anybody
and everybody who ever had courtiers. Just as men with
bare legs mean Romans, men in pea-jackets mean detectives,
and young men drunk in evening dress Harvard graduates.
The ladies at the court of Sardinia wear huge paper frills
round their necks. Otherwise it is the cabaret scene with
the familiar little tables, and the ukaleles going like
mad in one corner, and black sarsaparilla being poured
foaming into the glasses.
In this scene Columbus moves up and down, twirling his
little globe and looking appealingly in their faces. All
laugh at him. His part is just the same as that of the
poor little girl trying to sell up-state violets in the
The Court of Sardinia fades and the film shows Columbus
vainly soliciting financial aid from Lorenzo the
Stop one minute, please.
LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT... Mr. L. Evans
This scene again is old and familiar. It is the well-known
interior representing the Grinding Capitalist, or the
Bitter Banker refusing aid to the boy genius who has
invented a patent pea-rake. The only change is that
Lorenzo wears a huge wig, has no telephone, and handles
a large quill pen (to register Middle Ages) which he
wiggles furiously up and down on a piece of parchment.
So the eighteen years, with scenes of this sort turn out
the easiest part of the whole show.
But let us to the book again.
"...After eighteen years Columbus, now past the prime of
life, is presented at the Court of Queen Isabella of
Just half a moment.
QUEEN ISABELLA.. Miss Janet Briggs
There will be very probably at this point a slight applause
from the back of the hall. Miss Briggs was here last
week, or her astral body was--as Maggie of the Cattle
Ranges. The impression that she made is passed on to
"The Queen and her consort, King Ferdinand of Aragon..."
Stop, stick him on the film.
FERDINAND OF ARAGON.. Mr. Edward Giles
(Large wig, flat velvet cap and square whiskers--same
make-up as for Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Ferdinand of Bohemia,
or any of the Ferdinands.)
"...were immediately seized with enthusiasm for the
marvellous discovery of the Genoese adventurer."
Picture. Columbus hands his globe to Isabella and his
compasses to Ferdinand. They register delight and
astonishment. The Queen turns the globe round and round
and holds it up to Ferdinand. Both indicate with their
faces, well-what-do-you-know-about-this. Ferdinand makes
a circle with the compasses on a table--the courtiers,
fickle creatures, crowd around. They are still dressed
as in Sardinia eighteen years ago. In fact, one recognises
quite a lot of them. When Ferdinand draws the circle they
fall back in wild astonishment, gesticulating frantically.
What they mean is, "It's a circle, it's a circle."
"The King and Queen at once place three ships at the
disposal of Columbus."
On with the picture. The harbour of the port of Palos--
ships bobbing up and down (it is really the oyster boats
in Baltimore Bay but it looks just like Palos, or near
enough). Notice Queen Isabella on the right, at the top
of a flight of steps, extending her hand and looking at
Columbus. Her gesture means, "Pick a ship, any ship you
like, any colour." Just as if she were saying, "Pick a
card, any card you like."
We turn again to the history.
"...Christopher Columbus, now arrived at the height of
his desire, sets out upon his memorable voyage accompanied
by a hundred companions in three caravels, the Pinta,
the Nina and the Espiritu Santo."
Ah, here we have the movie work--the real thing. Cardboard
caravel tossing on black water--seen first right close
to us--we are almost on board of it. Notice the movie
sailors with black whiskers and bare feet (bare feet in
the movies always means a sailor, and black whiskers mean
Spaniards). Now we see the caravel a little way out--whoop!
How she bobs up and down! They give her that jolt (it's
done with the machine itself) to mean danger. There are
all three caravels--Hoop--er--oo! See them go up and
down--stormy night coming all right. See the sun setting
in the west, over the water? They're heading straight
for it. Good-night Columbus--take care of yourself out
there in the blackness.
"During the voyage Columbus remained continually on deck.
Sleeping at the prow, his face towards the new world, he
saw already in his dreams the accomplishment of his
On goes the picture. Christopher in the prow of the
caravel (in the movies a prow is made by putting two
little board fences together and propping up a bowsprit
lengthwise over them). Columbus sits up, peers intently
into the darkness, his hand to his brow--registers a
look. Do I see America? No. Lies down, shuts his eyes
and falls into an instantaneous movie sleep. His face
fades out slowly to music, which means that he is going
to dream. Then on the screen the announcement is shown:
SPIRIT OF AMERICA... Miss E. Dickenson
and here we have Miss Dickenson floating in the air above
Columbus. She wears nothing except mosquito netting, but
she has got on enough of it to get past the censor of
the State of New York. Just enough, apparently.
Miss E. Dickenson is joined by a whole troop of Miss Dickensons
all in white mosquito netting. They go through a series of
beautiful evolutions, floating over the sleeping figure of
Columbus. The dance they do is meant to typify, or rather to
signify,--as a matter of fact we needn't worry much about what
it signified. It is an allegory, done in white mosquito netting.
That is generally held to be quite enough. Let us go back to
"After a storm-tossed voyage of three months..."
Wait a bit. Turn on the picture again and toss the caravels
up and down.
"...during which the food supply threatened to fail..."
Put that on the screen, please. Columbus surrounded by
ten sailors, dividing up a potato.
"...the caravels arrived in safety at the beautiful island
of San Salvador. Columbus, bearing the banner of Spain,
stepped first ashore. Surrounded by a wondering crowd of
savages he prostrated himself upon the beach and kissed
the soil of the New World that he had discovered."
All this is so easy that it's too easy. It runs into
pictures of itself. Anybody, accustomed to the movies,
can see Columbus with his banner and the movie savages
hopping up and down around him. Movie savages are gay,
gladsome creatures anyway, and hopping up and down is
their chief mode of expressing themselves. Add to them
a sandy beach, with palm trees waving visibly in the wind
(it is always windy in the movies) and the thing is done.
Just one further picture is needed to complete the film.
"Columbus who returned to Europe to lay at the feet of
the Spanish sovereigns the world he had discovered, fell
presently under the disfavour of the court, and died in
poverty and obscurity, a victim of the ingratitude of
Last picture. Columbus dying under the poignant
circumstances known only in the movies--a garret
room--ceiling lower than ever--a truckle bed, narrow
enough to kill him if all else failed--Teresa Colombo
his aged mother alone at his bedside--she offers him
medicine in a long spoon--(this shows, if nothing else
would, that the man is ill)--he shakes his head--puts
out his hand and rests it on the little globe--reaches
feebly for his compasses--can't manage it--rolls up his
eyes and fades.
The music plays softly and the inexorable film, like
the reel of life itself, spins on, announcing
At this theatre
All next week
IS IT WORTH IT
And after that I can imagine the audience dispersing,
and the now educated children going off to their homes
and one saying as he enters--
"Gee, I seen a great picture show at school to-day."
"Yes?" says his mother, "and what was it?"
"Oh, it was all about a gink that went round the cabarets
trying to sell an invention what he'd got but nobody
wouldn't look at it till at last one dame gave him three
oyster boats, see? and so he and a lot of other guys
loaded them up and hiked off across the ocean."
"And where did he go to?"
"Africa. And he and the other guys had a great stand in
with the natives and he'd have sold his invention all
right but one old dame got him alone in a hut and poisoned
him and took it off him."
That, I think, is about the way the film would run. When
it is finished I must get President Shurman, or whoever
it was, to come and see it.
4.--Politics from Within
To avoid all error as to the point of view, let me say
in commencing that I am a Liberal Conservative, or, if
you will, a Conservative Liberal with a strong dash of
sympathy with the Socialist idea, a friend of Labour,
and a believer in Progressive Radicalism. I do not desire
office but would take a seat in the Canadian Senate at
five minutes notice.
I believe there are ever so many people of exactly this
way of thinking.
Let me say further than in writing of "politics" I am
only dealing with the lights and shadows that flicker
over the surface, and am not trying to discuss, still
less to decry, the deep and vital issues that lie below.
Yet I will say that vital though the issues may be below
the surface, there is more clap-trap, insincerity and
humbug on the surface of politics than over any equal
area on the face of any institution.
The candidate, as such, is a humbug. The voters, as
voters--not as fathers, brothers or sons--are humbugs.
The committees are humbugs. And the speeches to the extent
of about ninety per cent are pure buncombe. But, oddly
enough, out of the silly babel of talk that accompanies
popular government, we get, after all, pretty good
government--infinitely better than the government of an
autocratic king. Between democracy and despotic kingship
lies all the difference between genial humbug and black
For the candidate for popular office I have nothing but
sympathy and sorrow. It has been my fortune to walk round
at the heels of half a dozen of them in different little
Canadian towns, watching the candidate try in vain to
brighten up his face at the glad sight of a party voter.
One, in particular, I remember. Nature had meant him to
be a sour man, a hard man, a man with but little joy in
the company of his fellows. Fate had made him a candidate
for the House of Commons. So he was doing his best to
belie his nature.
"Hullo, William!" he would call out as a man passed
driving a horse and buggy, "got the little sorrel out
for a spin, eh?"
Then he would turn to me and say in a low rasping voice--
"There goes about the biggest skunk in this whole
A few minutes later he would wave his hand over a little
hedge in friendly salutation to a man working in a garden.
"Hullo, Jasper! That's a fine lot of corn you've got
Jasper replied in a growl. And when we were well past
the house the candidate would say between his teeth--
"That's about the meanest whelp in the riding."
Our conversation all down the street was of that pattern.
"Good morning, Edward! Giving the potatoes a dose of
Paris green, eh?"
And in an undertone--
"I wish to Heaven he'd take a dose of it himself."
And so on from house to house.
I counted up, from one end of the street to the other,
that there were living in it seven skunks, fourteen low
whelps, eight mean hounds and two dirty skinflints. And
all of these merely among the Conservative voters. It
made me wish to be a Liberal. Especially as the Liberal
voters, by the law of the perversity of human affairs,
always seemed to be the finer lot. As they were NOT voting
for our candidate, they were able to meet him in a fair
and friendly way, whereas William and Jasper and Edward
and our "bunch" were always surly and hardly deigned to
give more than a growl in answer to the candidate's
greeting, without even looking up at him.
But a Liberal voter would stop him in the street and
shake hands and say in a frank, cordial way.
"Mr. Grouch, I'm sorry indeed that I can't vote for you,
and I'd like to be able to wish you success, but of course
you know I'm on the other side and always have been and
can't change now."
Whereupon the Candidate would say. "That's all right,
John, I don't expect you to. I can respect a man's
convictions all right, I guess."
So they would part excellent friends, the Candidate saying
as we moved off:
"That man, John Winter, is one of the straightest men in
this whole county."
Then he would add--
"Now we'll just go into this house for a minute. There's
a dirty pup in here that's one of our supporters."
My opinion of our own supporters went lower every day,
and my opinion of the Liberal voters higher, till it so
happened that I went one day to an old friend of mine
who was working on the Liberal side. I asked him how he
"Oh, well enough!" he said, "as a sort of game. But in
this constituency you've got all the decent voters; our
voters are the lowest bunch of skunks I ever struck."
Just then a man passed in a buggy, and looked sourly at
my friend the Liberal worker.
"Hullo, John!" he called, with a manufactured hilarity,
"got the little mare out for a turn, eh?"
"There's one of them," said my friend, "the lowest pup
in this county, John Winter."
"Come along," said the Candidate to me one morning, "I
want you to meet my committee."
"You'll find them," he said confidingly, as we started
down the street towards the committee rooms, "an awful
bunch of mutts."
"Too bad," I said, "what's wrong with them?"
"Oh, I don't know--they're just a pack of simps. They
don't seem to have any PUNCH in them. The one you'll meet
first is the chairman--he's about the worst dub of the
lot; I never saw a man with so little force in my life.
He's got no magnetism, that's what's wrong with him--no
A few minutes later the Candidate was introducing me to
a roomful of heavy looking Committee men. Committee men
in politics, I notice, have always a heavy bovine look.
They are generally in a sort of daze, or doped from
smoking free cigars.
"Now I want to introduce you first," said the Candidate,
"to our chairman, Mr. Frog. Mr. Frog is our old battle
horse in this constituency. And this is our campaign
secretary Mr. Bughouse, and Mr. Dope, and Mr. Mudd, et
Those may not have been their names.
It is merely what the names sounded like when one was
looking into their faces.
The Candidate introduced them all as battle horses, battle
axes, battle leaders, standard bearers, flag-holders,
and so forth. If he had introduced them as hat-racks or
cigar holders, it would have been nearer the mark.
Presently the Candidate went out and I was left with the
"What do you think of our chances?" I asked.
The battle-axes shook their heads with dubious looks.
"Pretty raw deal," said the Chairman, "the Convention
wishing HIM on us." He pointed with his thumb over his
shoulder to indicate the departed Candidate.
"What's wrong with him?" I asked.
Mr. Frog shook his head again.
"No PUNCH," he said.
"None at all," agreed all the battle horses.
"I'll tell you," said the Campaign secretary, Mr. Bughouse,
a voluble man, with wandering eyes--"the trouble is he
has no magnetism, no personal magnetism."
"I see," I said.
"Now, you take this man, Shortis, that the Liberals have
got hold of," continued Mr. Bughouse, "he's full of
MAGNETISM. He appeals."
All the other Committee men nodded.
"That's so," they murmured, "magnetism, Our man hasn't
a darned ounce of it."
"I met Shortis the other night in the street," went on
Mr. Bughouse, "and he said, 'Come on up to my room in
the hotel.' 'Oh,' I said, 'I can't very well.' 'Nonsense,'
he said, 'You're on the other side but what does that
matter?' Well, we went up to his room, and there he had
whiskey, and gin, and lager,--everything. 'Now,' he says,
'name your drink--what is it?' There he was, right in
his room, breaking the law without caring a darn about
it. Well, you know the voters like that kind of thing.
It appeals to them."
"Well," said another of the Committee men,--I think it
was the one called Mr. Dope, "I wouldn't mind that so
much. But the chief trouble about our man, to my mind,
is that he can't speak."
"He can't?" I exclaimed.
All the Committee shook their heads.
"Not for sour apples!" asserted Mr. Dope positively.
"Now, in this riding that won't do. Our people here are
used to first class speaking, they expect it. I suppose
there has been better speaking in this Constituency than
anywhere else in the whole dominion. Not lately, perhaps;
not in the last few elections. But I can remember, and
so can some of the boys here, the election when Sir John
A. spoke here, when the old Mackenzie government went
He looked around at the circle. Several nodded.
"Remember it as well," assented Mr. Mudd, "as if it were
"Well, sir," continued Mr. Dope, "I'll never forget Sir
John A. speaking here in the Odd Fellows' Hall, eh?"
The Committee men nodded and gurgled in corroboration.
"My! but he was PLASTERED. We had him over at Pete
Robinson's hotel all afternoon, and I tell you he was
plastered for fair. We ALL were. I remember I was so
pickled myself I could hardly help Sir John up the steps
of the platform. So were you, Mudd, do you remember?"
"I certainly was!" said Mr. Mudd proudly. Committee men
who would scorn to drink lager beer in 1919, take a great
pride, I have observed, in having been pickled in 1878.
"Yes, sir," continued Mr. Dope, "you certainly were
pickled. I remember just as well as anything, when they
opened the doors and let the crowd in: all the boys had
been bowling up and were pretty well soused. You never
saw such a crowd. Old Dr. Greenway (boys, you remember
the old Doc) was in the chair, and he was pretty well
spifflocated. Well, sir, Sir John A. got up in that hall
and he made the finest, most moving speech I ever listened
to. Do you remember when he called old Trelawney an
ash-barrel? And when he made that appeal for a union of
hearts and said that the sight of McGuire (the Liberal
candidate) made him sick? I tell you those were great
days. You don't get speaking like that now; and you don't
get audiences like that now either. Not the same calibre."
All the Committee shook their heads.
"Well, anyway, boys," said the Chairman, as he lighted
a fresh cigar, "to-morrow will decide, one way or the
other. We've certainly worked hard enough,"--here he
passed the box of cigars round to the others--"I haven't
been in bed before two any night since the work started."
"Neither have I," said another of the workers. "I was
just saying to the wife when I got up this morning that
I begin to feel as if I never wanted to see the sight of
a card again."
"Well, I don't regret the work," said the Secretary, "so
long as we carry the riding. You see," he added in
explanation to me, "we're up against a pretty hard
proposition here. This riding really is Liberal: they've
got the majority of voters though we HAVE once or twice
swung it Conservative. But whether we can carry it with
a man like Grouch is hard to say. One thing is certain,
boys, if he DOES carry it, he doesn't owe it to himself."
All the battle horses agreed on this. A little after that
And twenty-four hours later the vote was taken and to my
intense surprise the riding was carried by Grouch the
I say, to MY surprise. But apparently not to anybody else.
For it appeared this (was in conversations after the
election) that Grouch was a man of extraordinary magnetism.
He had, so they said, "punch." Shortis, the Liberal, it
seemed, lacked punch absolutely. Even his own supporters
admitted that he had no personality whatever. Some wondered
how he had the nerve to run.
But my own theory of how the election was carried is
I feel certain that all the Conservative voters despised
their candidate so much that they voted Liberal. And all
the Liberals voted Conservative.
That carried the riding.
Meantime Grouch left the constituency by the first train
next day for Ottawa. Except for paying taxes on his house,
he will not be back in the town till they dissolve
5.--The Lost Illusions of Mr. Sims
In the club to which I belong, in a quiet corner where
the sunlight falls in sideways, there may be seen sitting
of an afternoon my good friend of thirty years' standing,
Back to Full Books