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Ponkapog Papers, by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

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THESE miscellaneous notes and
essays are called Ponkapog Papers
not simply because they chanced, for
the most part, to be written within the
limits of the old Indian Reservation,
but, rather, because there is something
typical of their unpretentiousness in the
modesty with which Ponkapog assumes
to being even a village. The little
Massachusetts settlement, nestled under
the wing of the Blue Hills, has no illu-
sions concerning itself, never mistakes
the cackle of the bourg for the sound
that echoes round the world, and no
more thinks of rivalling great centres of
human activity than these slight papers
dream of inviting comparison between
themselves and important pieces of
literature. Therefore there seems some-
thing especially appropriate in the geo-
graphical title selected, and if the au-
thor's choice of name need further
excuse, it is to be found in the alluring
alliteration lying ready at his hand.

REDMAN FARM, Ponkapog,






















IN his Memoirs, Kropotkin states the singular
fact that the natives of the Malayan Archipel-
ago have an idea that something is extracted from
them when their likenesses are taken by photo-
graphy. Here is the motive for a fantastic short
story, in which the hero--an author in vogue
or a popular actor--might be depicted as having
all his good qualities gradually photographed
out of him. This could well be the result of
too prolonged indulgence in the effort to "look
natural." First the man loses his charming sim-
plicity; then he begins to pose in intellectual
attitudes, with finger on brow; then he becomes
morbidly self-conscious, and finally ends in an
asylum for incurable egotists. His death might
be brought about by a cold caught in going out
bareheaded, there being, for the moment, no hat
in the market of sufficient circumference to meet
his enlarged requirement.

THE evening we dropped anchor in the Bay
of Yedo the moon was hanging directly over
Yokohama. It was a mother-of-pearl moon,
and might have been manufactured by any of
the delicate artisans in the Hanchodori quarter.
It impressed one as being a very good imitation,
but nothing more. Nammikawa, the cloisonne-
worker at Tokio, could have made a better

I NOTICE the announcement of a new edition
of "The Two First Centuries of Florentine
Literature," by Professor Pasquale Villari. I
am not acquainted with the work in question,
but I trust that Professor Villari makes it plain
to the reader how both centuries happened to be

THE walking delegates of a higher civiliza-
tion, who have nothing to divide, look upon the
notion of property as a purely artificial creation
of human society. According to these advanced
philosophers, the time will come when no man
shall be allowed to call anything his. The bene-
ficent law which takes away an author's rights
in his own books just at the period when old
age is creeping upon him seems to me a hand-
some stride toward the longed-for millennium.

SAVE US from our friends--our enemies we
can guard against. The well-meaning rector of
the little parish of Woodgates, England, and
several of Robert Browning's local admirers
have recently busied themselves in erecting a
tablet to the memory of "the first known fore-
father of the poet." This lately turned up an-
cestor, who does not date very far back, was also
named Robert Browning, and is described on
the mural marble as "formerly footman and
butler to Sir John Bankes of Corfe Castle."
Now, Robert Browning the poet had as good
right as Abou Ben Adhem himself to ask to be
placed on the list of those who love their fellow
men; but if the poet could have been consulted
in the matter he probably would have preferred
not to have that particular footman exhumed.
However, it is an ill wind that blows nobody
good. Sir John Bankes would scarcely have
been heard of in our young century if it had
not been for his footman. As Robert stood day
by day, sleek and solemn, behind his master's
chair in Corfe Castle, how little it entered into
the head of Sir John that his highly respectable
name would be served up to posterity--like a
cold relish--by his own butler! By Robert!

IN the east-side slums of New York, some-
where in the picturesque Bowery district,
stretches a malodorous little street wholly
given over to long-bearded, bird-beaked mer-
chants of ready-made and second-hand clothing.
The contents of the dingy shops seem to have
revolted, and rushed pell-mell out of doors, and
taken possession of the sidewalk. One could
fancy that the rebellion had been quelled at this
point, and that those ghastly rows of complete
suits strung up on either side of the doorways
were the bodies of the seditious ringleaders.
But as you approach these limp figures, each
dangling and gyrating on its cord in a most
suggestive fashion, you notice, pinned to the
lapel of a coat here and there, a strip of paper
announcing the very low price at which you
may become the happy possessor. That dis-
sipates the illusion.

POLONIUS, in the play, gets killed--and not
any too soon. If it only were practicable to kill
him in real life! A story--to be called The
Passing of Polonius--in which a king issues a
decree condemning to death every long-winded,
didactic person in the kingdom, irrespective of
rank, and is himself instantly arrested and de-
capitated. The man who suspects his own
tediousness is yet to be born.

WHENEVER I take up Emerson's poems I find
myself turning automatically to his Bacchus.
Elsewhere, in detachable passages embedded in
mediocre verse, he rises for a moment to heights
not reached by any other of our poets; but
Bacchus is in the grand style throughout. Its tex-
ture can bear comparison with the world's best
in this kind. In imaginative quality and austere
richness of diction what other verse of our
period approaches it? The day Emerson wrote
Bacchus he had in him, as Michael Drayton said
of Marlowe, "those brave translunary things
that the first poets had."

IMAGINE all human beings swept off the face of
the earth, excepting one man. Imagine this
man in some vast city, New York or London.
Imagine him on the third or fourth day of his
solitude sitting in a house and hearing a ring
at the door-bell!

No man has ever yet succeeded in painting an
honest portrait of himself in an autobiography,
however sedulously he may have set to work
about it. In spite of his candid purpose he
omits necessary touches and adds superfluous
ones. At times he cannot help draping his
thought, and the least shred of drapery becomes
a disguise. It is only the diarist who accom-
plishes the feat of self-portraiture, and he, with-
out any such end in view, does it unconsciously.
A man cannot keep a daily record of his com-
ings and goings and the little items that make
up the sum of his life, and not inadvertently
betray himself at every turn. He lays bare his
heart with a candor not possible to the self-
consciousness that inevitably colors premeditated
revelation. While Pepys was filling those small
octavo pages with his perplexing cipher he
never once suspected that he was adding a pho-
tographic portrait of himself to the world's gal-
lery of immortals. We are more intimately
acquainted with Mr. Samuel Pepys, the inner
man--his little meannesses and his large gener-
osities--then we are with half the persons we
call our dear friends.

THE young girl in my story is to be as sensitive
to praise as a prism is to light. Whenever any-
body praises her she breaks into colors.

IN the process of dusting my study, the other
morning, the maid replaced an engraving of
Philip II. of Spain up-side down on the man-
tel-shelf, and his majesty has remained in that
undignified posture ever since. I have no dis-
position to come to his aid. My abhorrence of
the wretch is as hearty as if he had not been
dead and--otherwise provided for these last
three hundred years. Bloody Mary of England
was nearly as merciless, but she was sincere and
uncompromising in her extirpation of heretics.

Philip II., whose one recorded hearty laugh was
occasioned by the news of the St. Bartholomew
massacre, could mask his fanaticism or drop it
for the time being, when it seemed politic to do
so. Queen Mary was a maniac; but the suc-
cessor of Torquemada was the incarnation of
cruelty pure and simple, and I have a mind to
let my counterfeit presentment of him stand on
its head for the rest of its natural life. I cor-
dially dislike several persons, but I hate no-
body, living or dead, excepting Philip II. of
Spain. He appears to give me as much trouble
as Charles I. gave the amiable Mr. Dick.

AMONG the delightful men and women whom
you are certain to meet at an English country
house there is generally one guest who is sup-
posed to be preternaturally clever and amusing
--"so very droll, don't you know." He recites
things, tells stories in costermonger dialect, and
mimics public characters. He is a type of a
class, and I take him to be one of the elemen-
tary forms of animal life, like the acalephae.
His presence is capable of adding a gloom to
an undertaker's establishment. The last time I
fell in with him was on a coaching trip through
Devon, and in spite of what I have said I must
confess to receiving an instant of entertainment
at his hands. He was delivering a little dis-
sertation on "the English and American lan-
guages." As there were two Americans on the
back seat--it seems we term ourselves "Amur-
ricans"--his choice of subject was full of tact.
It was exhilarating to get a lesson in pronuncia-
tion from a gentleman who said boult for bolt,
called St. John Sin' Jun, and did not know
how to pronounce the beautiful name of his
own college at Oxford. Fancy a perfectly sober
man saying Maudlin for Magdalen! Perhaps
the purest English spoken is that of the English
folk who have resided abroad ever since the
Elizabethan period, or thereabouts.

EVERY one has a bookplate these days, and the
collectors are after it. The fool and his book-
plate are soon parted. To distribute one's ex-
is inanely to destroy the only significance
it has, that of indicating the past or present
ownership of the volume in which it is placed.

WHEN an Englishman is not highly imaginative
he is apt to be the most matter-of-fact of mortals.
He is rarely imaginative, and seldom has an alert
sense of humor. Yet England has produced
the finest of humorists and the greatest of
poets. The humor and imagination which
are diffused through other peoples concentrate
themselves from time to time in individual

THIS is a page of autobiography, though not
written in the first person: Many years ago a
noted Boston publisher used to keep a large
memorandum-book on a table in his personal
office. The volume always lay open, and was in
no manner a private affair, being the receptacle
of nothing more important than hastily scrawled
reminders to attend to this thing or the other. It
chanced one day that a very young, unfledged
author, passing through the city, looked in upon
the publisher, who was also the editor of a
famous magazine. The unfledged had a copy
of verses secreted about his person. The pub-
lisher was absent, and young Milton, feeling
that "they also serve who only stand and wait,"
sat down and waited. Presently his eye fell
upon the memorandum-book, lying there spread
out like a morning newspaper, and almost in
spite of himself he read: "Don't forget to see
the binder," "Don't forget to mail E----- his
contract," "Don't forget H-----'s proofs," etc.
An inspiration seized upon the youth; he took
a pencil, and at the tail of this long list of
"don't forgets " he wrote: "Don't forget to
accept A 's poem." He left his manuscript
on the table and disappeared. That afternoon
when the publisher glanced over his memo-
randa, he was not a little astonished at the last
item; but his sense of humor was so strong that
he did accept the poem (it required a strong
sense of humor to do that), and sent the lad a
check for it, though the verses remain to this
day unprinted. That kindly publisher was wise
as well as kind.

FRENCH novels with metaphysical or psycholo-
gical prefaces are always certain to be particu-
larly indecent.

I HAVE lately discovered that Master Harry
Sandford of England, the priggish little boy
in the story of "Sandford and Merton," has a
worthy American cousin in one Elsie Dinsmore,
who sedately pirouettes through a seemingly end-
less succession of girls' books. I came across
a nest of fifteen of them the other day. This
impossible female is carried from infancy up to
grandmotherhood, and is, I believe, still lei-
surely pursuing her way down to the tomb in an
ecstatic state of uninterrupted didacticism. There
are twenty-five volumes of her and the grand-
daughter, who is also christened Elsie, and is her
grandmother's own child, with the same preco-
cious readiness to dispense ethical instruction to
her elders. An interesting instance of hereditary

H-----'s intellect resembles a bamboo--slender,
graceful, and hollow. Personally, he is long and
narrow, and looks as if he might have been
the product of a rope-walk. He is loosely put
together, like an ill-constructed sentence, and
affects me like one. His figure is ungrammatical.

AMERICAN humor is nearly as ephemeral as
the flowers that bloom in the spring. Each gen-
eration has its own crop, and, as a rule, insists on
cultivating a new kind. That of 1860, if it were
to break into blossom at the present moment,
would probably be left to fade upon the stem.

Humor is a delicate shrub, with the passing
hectic flush of its time. The current-topic variety
is especially subject to very early frosts, as is
also the dialectic species. Mark Twain's humor
is not to be classed with the fragile plants; it
has a serious root striking deep down into
rich earth, and I think it will go on flowering

I HAVE been imagining an ideal critical journal,
whose plan should involve the discharge of the
chief literary critic and the installment of a fresh
censor on the completion of each issue. To
place a man in permanent absolute control of a
certain number of pages, in which to express his
opinions, is to place him in a position of great
personal danger, It is almost inevitable that he
should come to overrate the importance of those
opinions, to take himself with far too much
seriousness, and in the end adopt the dogma of
his own infallibility. The liberty to summon
this or that man-of-letters to a supposititious
bar of justice is apt to beget in the self-ap-
pointed judge an exaggerated sense of superi-
ority. He becomes impatient of any rulings not
his, and says in effect, if not in so many words:
" I am Sir Oracle, and when I ope my lips let
no dog bark." When the critic reaches this
exalted frame of mind his slight usefulness is

AFTER a debauch of thunder-shower, the
weather takes the pledge and signs it with a

I LIKE to have a thing suggested rather than told
in full. When every detail is given, the mind
rests satisfied, and the imagination loses the
desire to use its own wings. The partly draped
statue has a charm which the nude lacks. Who
would have those marble folds slip from the
raised knee of the Venus of Melos? Hawthorne
knew how to make his lovely thought lovelier
by sometimes half veiling it.

I HAVE just tested the nib of a new pen on a
slight fancy which Herrick has handled twice
in the "Hesperides." The fancy, however, is
not Herrick's; it is as old as poetry and the ex-
aggeration of lovers, and I have the same privi-
lege as another to try my fortune with it:


When some hand has partly drawn
The cloudy curtains of her bed,
And my lady's golden head
Glimmers in the dusk like dawn,
Then methinks is day begun.
Later, when her dream has ceased
And she softly stirs and wakes,
Then it is as when the East
A sudden rosy magic takes
From the cloud-enfolded sun,
And full day breaks!

Shakespeare, who has done so much to discour-
age literature by anticipating everybody, puts the
whole matter into a nutshell:

But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

THERE is a phrase spoken by Hamlet which I
have seen quoted innumerable times, and never
once correctly. Hamlet, addressing Horatio,

Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart.

The words italicized are invariably written
"heart of hearts"--as if a person possessed
that organ in duplicate. Perhaps no one living,
with the exception of Sir Henry Irving, is more
familiar with the play of Hamlet than my good
friend Mr. Bram Stoker, who makes his heart
plural on two occasions in his recent novel,
"The Mystery of the Sea." Mrs. Humphry
Ward also twice misquotes the passage in
"Lady Rose's Daughter."

BOOKS that have become classics--books that
ave had their day and now get more praise
than perusal--always remind me of venerable
colonels and majors and captains who, having
reached the age limit, find themselves retired
upon half pay.

WHETHER or not the fretful porcupine rolls itself
into a ball is a subject over which my friend
John Burroughs and several brother naturalists
have lately become as heated as if the question
involved points of theology. Up among the
Adirondacks, and in the very heart of the re-
gion of porcupines, I happen to have a modest
cottage. This retreat is called The Porcupine,
and I ought by good rights to know something
about the habits of the small animal from which
it derives its name. Last winter my dog Buster
used to return home on an average of three times
a month from an excursion up Mt. Pisgah with
his nose stuck full of quills, and he ought to
have some concrete ideas on the subject. We
two, then, are prepared to testify that the por-
cupine in its moments of relaxation occasion-
ally contracts itself into what might be taken
for a ball by persons not too difficult to please
in the matter of spheres. But neither Buster
nor I--being unwilling to get into trouble--
would like to assert that it is an actual ball.
That it is a shape with which one had better
not thoughtlessly meddle is a conviction that
my friend Buster stands ready to defend against
all comers.

WORDSWORTH'S characterization of the woman
in one of his poems as "a creature not too bright
or good for human nature's daily food" has
always appeared to me too cannibalesque to be
poetical. It directly sets one to thinking of the
South Sea islanders.

THOUGH Iago was not exactly the kind of per-
son one would select as a superintendent for a
Sunday-school, his advice to young Roderigo
was wisdom itself--"Put money in thy purse."
Whoever disparages money disparages every
step in the progress of the human race. I lis-
tened the other day to a sermon in which gold was
personified as a sort of glittering devil tempting
mortals to their ruin. I had an instant of natural
hesitation when the contribution-plate was passed
around immediately afterward. Personally, I be-
lieve that the possession of gold has ruined fewer
men than the lack of it. What noble enterprises
have been checked and what fine souls have been
blighted in the gloom of poverty the world will
never know. "After the love of knowledge,"
says Buckle, " there is no one passion which has
done so much good to mankind as the love of

DIALECT tempered with slang is an admirable
medium of communication between persons who
have nothing to say and persons who would not
care for anything properly said.

DR. HOLMES had an odd liking for ingenious
desk-accessories in the way of pencil-sharpeners,
paper-weights, penholders, etc. The latest con-
trivances in this fashion--probably dropped
down to him by the inventor angling for a nibble
of commendation--were always making one
another's acquaintance on his study table. He
once said to me: "I 'm waiting for somebody to
invent a mucilage-brush that you can't by any
accident put into your inkstand. It would save
me frequent moments of humiliation."

THE deceptive Mr. False and the volatile Mrs.
Giddy, who figure in the pages of seventeenth
and eighteenth century fiction, are not tolerated in
modern novels and plays. Steal the burglar and
Palette the artist have ceased to be. A name
indicating the quality or occupation of the bearer
strikes us as a too transparent device. Yet there
are such names in contemporary real life. That
of our worthy Adjutant-General Drum may be
instanced. Neal and Pray are a pair of deacons
who linger in the memory of my boyhood. Sweet
the confectioner and Lamb the butcher are indi-
viduals with whom I have had dealings. The
old-time sign of Ketchum & Cheetam, Brokers,
in Wall Street, New York, seems almost too
good to be true. But it was once, if it is not
now, an actuality.

I HAVE observed that whenever a Boston author
dies, New York immediately becomes a great
literary centre.

THE possession of unlimited power will make
a despot of almost any man. There is a pos-
sible Nero in the gentlest human creature that

EVERY living author has a projection of him-
self, a sort of eidolon, that goes about in near
and remote places making friends or enemies
for him among persons who never lay eyes upon
the writer in the flesh. When he dies, this phan-
tasmal personality fades away, and the author
lives only in the impression created by his own
literature. It is only then that the world begins
to perceive what manner of man the poet, the
novelist, or the historian really was. Not until
he is dead, and perhaps some long time dead, is
it possible for the public to take his exact mea-
sure. Up to that point contemporary criticism
has either overrated him or underrated him, or
ignored him altogether, having been misled by
the eidolon, which always plays fantastic tricks
with the writer temporarily under its dominion.
It invariably represents him as either a greater
or a smaller personage than he actually is. Pre-
sently the simulacrum works no more spells,
good or evil, and the deception is unveiled. The
hitherto disregarded author is recognized, and
the idol of yesterday, which seemed so impor-
tant, is taken down from his too large pedestal
and carted off to the dumping-ground of inade-
quate things. To be sure, if he chances to have
been not entirely unworthy, and on cool exam-
ination is found to possess some appreciable
degree of merit, then he is set up on a new slab
of appropriate dimensions. The late colossal
statue shrinks to a modest bas-relief. On the
other hand, some scarcely noticed bust may
suddenly become a revered full-length figure.
Between the reputation of the author living and
the reputation of the same author dead there is
ever a wide discrepancy.

A NOT too enchanting glimpse of Tennyson is
incidentally given by Charles Brookfield, the
English actor, in his "Random Recollections."
Mr. Brookfield's father was, on one occasion,
dining at the Oxford and Cambridge Club with
George Venables, Frank Lushington, Alfred
Tennyson, and others. "After dinner," relates
the random recollector, "the poet insisted upon
putting his feet on the table, tilting back his
chair more Americano. There were strangers
in the room, and he was expostulated with for
his uncouthness, but in vain. 'Do put down
your feet!' pleaded his host. 'Why should I?'
retorted Tennyson. 'I 'm very comfortable as
I am.' 'Every one's staring at you,' said an-
other. 'Let 'em stare,' replied the poet, pla-
cidly. 'Alfred,' said my father, 'people will
think you're Longfellow.' Down went the
feet." That more Americano of Brookfield the
younger is delicious with its fine insular flavor,
but the holding up of Longfellow--the soul of
gentleness, the prince of courtesy--as a buga-
boo of bad manners is simply inimitable. It
will take England years and years to detect the
full unconscious humor of it.

GREAT orators who are not also great writers
become very indistinct historical shadows to the
generations immediately following them. The
spell vanishes with the voice. A man's voice is
almost the only part of him entirely obliterated
by death. The violet of his native land may be
made of his ashes, but nature in her economy
seems to have taken no care of his intonations,
unless she perpetuates them in restless waves of
air surging about the poles. The well-graced
actor who leaves no perceptible record of his
genius has a decided advantage over the mere
orator. The tradition of the player's method
and presence is associated with works of endur-
ing beauty. Turning to the pages of the drama-
tist, we can picture to ourselves the greatness of
Garrick or Siddons in this or that scene, in this
or that character. It is not so easy to conjure up
the impassioned orator from the pages of a dry
and possibly illogical argument in favor of or
against some long-ago-exploded measure of gov-
ernment. The laurels of an orator who is not a
master of literary art wither quickly.

ALL the best sands of my life are somehow get-
ting into the wrong end of the hour-glass. If I
could only reverse it! Were it in my power to
do so, would I?

SHAKESPEARE is forever coming into our affairs
--putting in his oar, so to speak--with some
pat word or sentence. The conversation, the
other evening, had turned on the subject of
watches, when one of the gentlemen present,
the manager of a large watch-making establish-
ment, told us a rather interesting fact. The
component parts of a watch are produced by
different workmen, who have no concern with
the complex piece of mechanism as a whole,
and possibly, as a rule, understand it imper-
fectly. Each worker needs to be expert in only
his own special branch. When the watch has
reached a certain advanced state, the work
requires a touch as delicate and firm as that of
an oculist performing an operation. Here the
most skilled and trustworthy artisans are em-
ployed; they receive high wages, and have the
benefit of a singular indulgence. In case the
workman, through too continuous application,
finds himself lacking the steadiness of nerve
demanded by his task, he is allowed without
forfeiture of pay to remain idle temporarily, in
order that his hand may recover the requisite
precision of touch. As I listened, Hamlet's
courtly criticism of the grave-digger's want of
sensibility came drifting into my memory.
"The hand of little employment hath the dain-
tier sense," says Shakespeare, who has left no-
thing unsaid.

IT was a festival in honor of Dai Butsu or some
one of the auxiliary deities that preside over the
destinies of Japland. For three days and nights
the streets of Tokio--where the squat little
brown houses look for all the world as if they
were mimicking the favorite sitting posture of
the Japanese--were crowded with smiling hol-
iday makers, and made gay with devices of
tinted tissue paper, dolphins, devils, dragons, and
mythical winged creatures which at night amia-
bly turned themselves into lanterns. Garlands
of these, arranged close together, were stretched
across the streets from ridgepoles to ridgepole,
and your jinrikisha whisked you through inter-
minable arbors of soft illumination. The spec-
tacle gave one an idea of fairyland, but then all
Japan does that.

A land not like ours, that land of strange flowers,
Of daemons and spooks with mysterious powers--
Of gods who breathe ice, who cause peach-blooms and rice
And manage the moonshine and turn on the showers.

Each day has its fair or its festival there,
And life seems immune to all trouble and care--
Perhaps only seems, in that island of dreams,
Sea-girdled and basking in magical air.

They've streets of bazaars filled with lacquers and jars,
And silk stuffs, and sword-blades that tell of old wars;
They've Fuji's white cone looming up, bleak and lone,
As if it were trying to reach to the stars.

They've temples and gongs, and grim Buddhas in throngs,
And pearl-powdered geisha with dances and songs:
Each girl at her back has an imp, brown or black,
And dresses her hair in remarkable prongs.

On roadside and street toddling images meet,
And smirk and kotow in a way that is sweet;
Their obis are tied with particular pride,
Their silken kimonos hang scant to the feet.

With purrs like a cat they all giggle and chat,
Now spreading their fans, and now holding them flat;
A fan by its play whispers, "Go now!" or "Stay!"
"I hate you! "I love you!"--a fan can say that!
Beneath a dwarf tree, here and there, two or three
Squat coolies are sipping small cups of green tea;
They sputter, and leer, and cry out, and appear
Like bad little chessmen gone off on a spree.

At night--ah, at night the long streets are a sight,
With garlands of soft-colored lanterns alight--
Blue, yellow, and red twinkling high overhead,
Like thousands of butterflies taking their flight.

Somewhere in the gloom that no lanterns illume
Stand groups of slim lilies and jonquils in bloom;
On tiptoe, unseen 'mid a tangle of green,
They offer the midnight their cups of perfume.

At times, sweet and clear from some tea-garden near,
A ripple of laughter steals out to your ear;
Anon the wind brings from a samisen's strings
The pathos that's born of a smile and a tear.

THE difference between an English audience
and a French audience at the theatre is marked.
The Frenchman brings down a witticism on the
wing. The Briton pauses for it to alight and
give him reasonable time for deliberate aim. In
English playhouses an appreciable number of
seconds usually precede the smile or the ripple
of laughter that follows a facetious turn of the
least fineness. I disclaim all responsibility for
this statement of my personal observation, since
it has recently been indorsed by one of London's
most eminent actors.

AT the next table, taking his opal drops of
absinthe, was a French gentleman with the
blase aspect of an empty champagne-bottle,
which always has the air of saying: "I have

WE often read of wonderful manifestations of
memory, but they are always instances of the
faculty working in some special direction. It is
memory playing, like Paganini, on one string.
No doubt the persons performing the phenome-
nal feats ascribed to them have forgotten more
than they remember. To be able to repeat a
hundred lines of verse after a single reading is
no proof of a retentive mind, excepting so far as
the hundred lines go. A man might easily fail
under such a test, and yet have a good memory;
by which I mean a catholic one, and that I
imagine to be nearly the rarest of gifts. I have
never met more than four or five persons pos-
sessing it. The small boy who defined memory
as "the thing you forget with" described the
faculty as it exists and works in the majority of
men and women.

THE survival in publishers of the imitative in-
stinct is a strong argument in support of Mr.
Darwin's theory of the descent of man. One
publisher no sooner brings out a new style of
book-cover than half a dozen other publishers
fall to duplicating it.

THE cavalry sabre hung over the chimney-place
with a knot of violets tied to the dinted guard,
there being no known grave to decorate. For
many a year, on each Decoration Day, a sorrow-
ful woman had come and fastened these flowers
there. The first time she brought her offering
she was a slender girl, as fresh as her own vio-
lets. It is a slender figure still, but there are
threads of silver in the black hair.

FORTUNATE was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus,
who in early youth was taught "to abstain from
rhetoric, and poetry, and fine writing"--espe-
cially the fine writing. Simplicity is art's last

The man is clearly an adventurer. In the seven-
teenth century he would have worn huge flint-
lock pistols stuck into a wide leather belt, and
been something in the seafaring line. The fel-
low is always smartly dressed, but where he
lives and how he lives are as unknown as
"what song the Sirens sang, or what name
Achilles assumed when he hid himself among
women." He is a man who apparently has no
appointment with his breakfast and whose din-
ner is a chance acquaintance. His probable
banker is the next person. A great city like
this is the only geography for such a character.
He would be impossible in a small country
town, where everybody knows everybody and
what everybody has for lunch.

I HAVE been seeking, thus far in vain, for the
proprietor of the saying that "Economy is sec-
ond or third cousin to Avarice." I went rather
confidently to Rochefoucauld, but it is not
among that gentleman's light luggage of cynical

THERE is a popular vague impression that butch-
ers are not allowed to serve as jurors on mur-
der trials. This is not really the case, but it
logically might be. To a man daily familiar
with the lurid incidents of the abattoir, the
summary extinction of a fellow creature (whe-
ther the victim or the criminal) can scarcely
seem a circumstance of so serious moment
as to another man engaged in less strenuous
WE do not, and cannot, read many of the novels
that most delighted our ancestors. Some of our
popular fiction is doubtless as poor, but poor
with a difference. There is always a heavy de-
mand for fresh mediocrity. In every generation
the least cultivated taste has the largest appetite.
There is ragtime literature as well as ragtime
music for the many.

G----- is a man who had rather fail in a great
purpose than not accomplish it in precisely his
own way. He has the courage of his conviction
and the intolerance of his courage. He is op-
posed to the death penalty for murder, but he
would willingly have any one electrocuted who
disagreed with him on the subject.

I HAVE thought of an essay to be called "On
the Art of Short-Story Writing," but have given
it up as smacking too much of the shop. It
would be too intime, since I should have to deal
chiefly with my own ways, and so give myself
the false air of seeming to consider them of im-
portance. It would interest nobody to know
that I always write the last paragraph first, and
then work directly up to that, avoiding all di-
gressions and side issues. Then who on earth
would care to be told about the trouble my
characters cause me by talking too much?
They will talk, and I have to let them; but
when the story is finished, I go over the dia-
logue and strike out four fifths of the long
speeches. I fancy that makes my characters
pretty mad.

THIS is the golden age of the inventor. He is
no longer looked upon as a madman or a wiz-
ard, incontinently to be made away with. Two
or three centuries ago Marconi would not have
escaped a ropeless end with his wireless telegra-
phy. Even so late as 1800, the friends of one
Robert Fulton seriously entertained the lumi-
nous idea of hustling the poor man into an asy-
lum for the unsound before he had a chance to
fire up the boiler of his tiny steamboat on the
Hudson river. In olden times the pillory and
the whipping-post were among the gentler forms
of encouragement awaiting the inventor. If a
man devised an especially practical apple-peeler
he was in imminent danger of being peeled with
it by an incensed populace. To-day we hail
with enthusiasm a scientific or a mechanical
discovery, and stand ready to make a stock
company of it.

A MAN is known by the company his mind
keeps. To live continually with noble books,
with "high-erected thoughts seated in the heart
of courtesy," teaches the soul good manners.

THE unconventional has ever a morbid attrac-
tion for a certain class of mind. There is always
a small coterie of highly intellectual men and
women eager to give welcome to whatever is
eccentric, obscure, or chaotic. Worshipers at
the shrine of the Unpopular, they tingle with
a sense of tolerant superiority when they say:
"Of course this is not the kind of thing you
would like." Sometimes these impressionable
souls almost seem to make a sort of reputation
for their fetish.

I HEAR that B----- directed to have himself
buried on the edge of the pond where his duck-
stand was located, in order that flocks of migrat-
ing birds might fly over his grave every autumn.
He did not have to die, to become a dead shot.
A comrade once said of him: "Yes, B----- is
a great sportsman. He has peppered every-
thing from grouse in North Dakota to his best
friend in the Maine woods."

WHEN the novelist introduces a bore into his
novel he must not let him bore the reader. The
fellow must be made amusing, which he would
not be in real life. In nine cases out of ten
an exact reproduction of real life would prove
tedious. Facts are not necessarily valuable, and
frequently they add nothing to fiction. The art
of the realistic novelist sometimes seems akin to
that of the Chinese tailor who perpetuated the
old patch on the new trousers. True art selects
and paraphrases, but seldom gives a verbatim

THE last meeting I had with Lowell was in the
north room of his house at Elmwood, the sleep-
ing-room I had occupied during a two years'
tenancy of the place in his absence abroad. He
was lying half propped up in bed, convales-
cing from one of the severe attacks that were
ultimately to prove fatal. Near the bed was a
chair on which stood a marine picture in aqua-
relle--a stretch of calm sea, a bit of rocky
shore in the foreground, if I remember, and a
vessel at anchor. The afternoon sunlight, falling
through the window, cast a bloom over the pic-
ture, which was turned toward Lowell. From
time to time, as he spoke, his eyes rested
thoughtfully on the water-color. A friend, he
said, had just sent it to him. It seemed to me
then, and the fancy has often haunted me since,
that that ship, in the golden haze, with top-
sails loosened, was waiting to bear his spirit

CIVILIZATION is the lamb's skin in which bar-
barism masquerades. If somebody has already
said that, I forgive him the mortification he
causes me. At the beginning of the twentieth
century barbarism can throw off its gentle dis-
guise, and burn a man at the stake as compla-
cently as in the Middle Ages.

WHAT is slang in one age sometimes goes into
the vocabulary of the purist in the next. On
the other hand, expressions that once were not
considered inelegant are looked at askance in
the period following. The word "brass" was
formerly an accepted synonym for money; but
at present, when it takes on that significance, it
is not admitted into genteel circles of language.
It may be said to have seen better days, like
another word I have in mind--a word that has
become slang, employed in the sense which
once did not exclude it from very good society.
A friend lately informed me that he had "fired"
his housekeeper--that is, dismissed her. He
little dreamed that he was speaking excellent

THE "Journal des Goncourt" is crowded with
beautiful and hideous things, like a Japanese

"AND she shuddered as she sat, still silent, on
her seat, and he saw that she shuddered." This
is from Anthony Trollope's novel, "Can You
Forgive Her?" Can you forgive him? is the
next question.

A LITTLE thing may be perfect, but perfection
is not a little thing. Possessing this quality, a
trifle "no bigger than an agate-stone on the
forefinger of an alderman" shall outlast the
Pyramids. The world will have forgotten all
the great masterpieces of literature when it for-
gets Lovelace's three verses to Lucasta on his
going to the wars. More durable than marble
or bronze are the words, "I could not love
thee, deare, so much, loved I not honor more."

I CALLED on the dear old doctor this afternoon
to say good-by. I shall probably not find him
here when I come back from the long voyage
which I have in front of me. He is very fragile,
and looks as though a puff of wind would blow
him away. He said himself, with his old-time
cheerfulness, that he was attached to this earth
by only a little piece of twine. He has percep-
tibly failed since I saw him a month ago; but
he was full of the wise and radiant talk to which
all the world has listened, and will miss. I
found him absorbed in a newly made card-cata-
logue of his library. "It was absurd of me to
have it done," he remarked. "What I really
require is a little bookcase holding only two
volumes; then I could go from one to the other
in alternation and always find each book as fresh
as if I never had read it." This arraignment of
his memory was in pure jest, for the doctor's
mind was to the end like an unclouded crystal.
It was interesting to note how he studied him-
self, taking his own pulse, as it were, and diag-
nosing his own case in a sort of scientific,
impersonal way, as if it were somebody else's
case and he were the consulting specialist. I
intended to spend a quarter of an hour with
him, and he kept me three hours. I went there
rather depressed, but I returned home leavened
with his good spirits, which, I think, will never
desert him, here or hereafter. To keep the heart
unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful,
reverent--that is to triumph over old age.

THE thing one reads and likes, and then forgets,
is of no account. The thing that stays, and
haunts one, and refuses to be forgotten, that is
the sincere thing. I am describing the impres-
sion left upon me by Mr. Howells's blank-verse
sketch called "Father and Mother: A Mystery"
--a strangely touching and imaginative piece
of work, not unlike in effect to some of Mae-
terlinck's psychical dramas. As I read on, I
seemed to be standing in a shadow cast by some
half-remembered experience of my own in a
previous state of existence. When I went to
bed that night I had to lie awake and think it
over as an event that had actually befallen me.
I should call the effect weird, if the word had
not lately been worked to death. The gloom of
Poe and the spirituality of Hawthorne touch
cold finger-tips in those three or four pages.

FOR a character-study--a man made up en-
tirely of limitations. His conservatism and neg-
ative qualities to be represented as causing him
to attain success where men of conviction and
real ability fail of it.

A DARK, saturnine man sat opposite me at table
on board the steamer. During the entire run from
Sandy Hook to Fastnet Light he addressed no
one at meal-times excepting his table steward.
Seated next to him, on the right, was a viva-
cious gentleman, who, like Gratiano in the play,
spoke "an infinite deal of nothing." He made
persistent and pathetic attempts to lure his silent
neighbor (we had christened him "William the
Silent") into conversation, but a monosyllable
was always the poor result--until one day. It
was the last day of the voyage. We had stopped
at the entrance to Queenstown harbor to deliver
the mails, and some fish had been brought
aboard. The vivacious gentleman was in a
high state of excitement that morning at table.
"Fresh fish!" he exclaimed; "actually fresh!
They seem quite different from ours. Irish fish,
of course. Can you tell me, sir," he inquired,
turning to his gloomy shipmate, "what kind of
fish these are?" "Cork soles," said the saturn-
ine man, in a deep voice, and then went on
with his breakfast.

LOWELL used to find food for great mirth in
General George P. Morris's line,

Her heart and morning broke together.

Lowell's well-beloved Dr. Donne, however,
had an attack of the same platitude, and pos-
sibly inoculated poor Morris. Even literature
seems to have its mischief-making bacilli. The
late "incomparable and ingenious Dean of St.
Paul's" says,

The day breaks not, it is my heart.

I think Dr. Donne's case rather worse than
Morris's. Chaucer had the malady in a milder
form when he wrote:

Up roos the sonne, and up roos Emelye.

The charming naivete of it!

SITTING in Ellen Terry's dressing-room at the
Lyceum Theatre one evening during that lady's
temporary absence on the stage, Sarah Bern-
hardt picked up a crayon and wrote this pretty
word on the mirror--Dearling, mistaking it
for the word darling. The French actress lighted
by chance upon a Spenserianism now become
obsolete without good reason. It is a more
charming adjective than the one that has re-
placed it.

A DEAD author appears to be bereft of all earthly
rights. He is scarcely buried before old maga-
zines and newspapers are ransacked in search
of matters which, for reasons sufficient to him,
he had carefully excluded from the definitive
edition of his collected writings.

He gave the people of his best;
His worst he kept, his best he gave.

One can imagine a poet tempted to address
some such appeal as this to any possible future
publisher of his poems:

Take what thou wilt, a lyric or a line,
Take all, take nothing--and God send thee cheer!
But my anathema on thee and thine
If thou add'st aught to what is printed here.

THE claim of this country to call itself "The
Land of the Free" must be held in abeyance
until every man in it, whether he belongs or
does not belong to a labor organization, shall
have the right to work for his daily bread.

THERE is a strain of primitive poetry running
through the entire Irish race, a fleeting lyrical
emotion which expresses itself in a flash, usually
in connection with love of country and kindred
across the sea. I had a touching illustration of it
the other morning. The despot who reigns over
our kitchen was gathering a mess of dandelions on
the rear lawn. It was one of those blue and gold
days which seem especially to belong New Eng-
land. "It's in County Westmeath I 'd be this
day," she said, looking up at me. "I'd go cool
my hands in the grass on my ould mother's
grave in the bit of churchyard foreninst
the priest's house at Mullingar."
I have
seen poorer poetry than that in the magazines.

SPEAKING of the late Major Pond, the well-
known director of a lecture bureau, an old client
of his remarked: "He was a most capable
manager, but it always made me a little sore to
have him deduct twenty-five per cent. commis-
sion." "Pond's Extract," murmured one of the
gentlemen present.

EACH of our great towns has its "Little Italy,"
with shops where nothing is spoken but Italian
and streets in which the alien pedestrian had
better not linger after nightfall. The chief in-
dustry of these exotic communities seems to be
spaghetti and stilettos. What with our Little
Italys and Chinatowns, and the like, an Ameri-
can need not cross the ocean in order to visit
foreign lands and enjoy the benefits of older

POETS are made as well as born, the proverb
notwithstanding. They are made possible by
the general love of poetry and the consequent
imperious demand for it. When this is non-
existent, poets become mute, the atmosphere
stifles them. There would have been no Shake-
speare had there been no Elizabethan audience.
That was an age when, as Emerson finely puts

Men became
Poets, for the air was fame.

THE stolid gentleman in livery who has his car-
riage-stand at the corner opposite my house is
constantly touching on the extremes of human
experience, with probably not the remotest per-
ception of the fact. Now he takes a pair of lovers
out for an airing, and now he drives the abscond-
ing bank-teller to the railway-station. Except-
ing as question of distance, the man has positively
no choice between a theatre and a graveyard. I
met him this morning dashing up to the portals
of Trinity Church with a bridal party, and this
afternoon, as I was crossing Cambridge Bridge,
I saw him creeping along next to the hearse, on
his way to Mount Auburn. The wedding af-
forded him no pleasure, and the funeral gave
him no grief; yet he was a factor in both. It is
his odd destiny to be wholly detached from the
vital part of his own acts. If the carriage itself
could speak! The autobiography of a public
hack written without reservation would be dra-
matic reading.

IN this blotted memorandum-book are a score
or two of suggestions for essays, sketches, and
poems, which I have not written, and never
shall write. The instant I jot down an idea the
desire to utilize it leaves me, and I turn away to
do something unpremeditated. The shabby vol-
ume has become a sort of Potter's Field where I
bury my literary intentions, good and bad, with-
out any belief in their final resurrection.

A STAGE DIRECTION: exit time; enter
Eternity--with a soliloquy.



IN my early Boston days a gentle soul was
often to be met with about town, furtively
haunting old book-shops and dusty editorial
rooms, a man of ingratiating simplicity of man-
ner, who always spoke in a low, hesitating voice,
with a note of refinement in it. He was a de-
vout worshiper of Elia, and wrote pleasant dis-
cursive essays smacking somewhat of his master's
flavor--suggesting rather than imitating it--
which he signed "Tom Folio." I forget how
he glided into my acquaintanceship; doubtless in
some way too shy and elusive for remembrance.
I never knew him intimately, perhaps no one
did, but the intercourse between us was most
cordial, and our chance meetings and bookish
chats extended over a space of a dozen years.
Tom Folio--I cling to the winning pseu-
donym--was sparely built and under medium
height, or maybe a slight droop of the shoulders
made it seem so, with a fragile look about him
and an aspect of youth that was not his. En-
countering him casually on a street corner, you
would, at the first glance, have taken him for a
youngish man, but the second glance left you
doubtful. It was a figure that struck a note of
singularity and would have attracted your atten-
tion even in a crowd.
During the first four or five years of our ac-
quaintance, meeting him only out of doors or in
shops, I had never happened to see him with his
hat off. One day he recklessly removed it, and
in the twinkling of an eye he became an elderly
bald-headed man. The Tom Folio I once knew
had virtually vanished. An instant earlier he
was a familiar shape; an instant later, an almost
unrecognizable individual. A narrow fringe of
light-colored hair, extending from ear to ear
under the rear brim of his hat, had perpetrated
an unintentional deception by leading one to sup-
pose a head profusely covered with curly locks.
"Tom Folio," I said, "put on your hat and
come back! But after that day he never seemed
young to me.
I had few or no inklings of his life discon-
nected with the streets and the book-stalls, chiefly
those on Cornhill or in the vicinity. It is possi-
ble I am wrong in inferring that he occupied a
room somewhere at the South End or in South
Boston, and lived entirely alone, heating his cof-
fee and boiling his egg over an alcohol lamp. I
got from him one or two fortuitous hints of
quaint housekeeping. Every winter, it appeared,
some relative, far or near, sent him a large batch
of mince pies, twenty or thirty at least. He once
spoke to me of having laid in his winter pie, just
as another might speak of laying in his winter
coal. The only fireside companion Tom Folio
ever alluded to in my presence was a Maltese
cat, whose poor health seriously disturbed him
from time to time. I suspected those mince
pies. The cat, I recollect, was named Miss
If he had any immediate family ties beyond
this I was unaware of them, and not curious to
be enlightened on the subject. He was more pic-
turesque solitary. I preferred him to remain so.
Other figures introduced into the background of
the canvas would have spoiled the artistic effect.
Tom Folio was a cheerful, lonely man--a
recluse even when he allowed himself to be
jostled and hurried along on the turbulent stream
of humanity sweeping in opposite directions
through Washington Street and its busy estu-
aries. He was in the crowd, but not of it. I
had so little real knowledge of him that I was
obliged to imagine his more intimate environ-
ments. However wide of the mark my conjec-
tures may have fallen, they were as satisfying to
me as facts would have been. His secluded
room I could picture to myself with a sense of
certainty--the couch (a sofa by day), the cup-
board, the writing-table with its student lamp,
the litter of pamphlets and old quartos and oc-
tavos in tattered bindings, among which were
scarce reprints of his beloved Charles Lamb,
and perhaps--nay, surely--an editio prin-
of the "Essays."
The gentle Elia never had a gentler follower
or a more loving disciple than Tom Folio. He
moved and had much of his being in the early
part of the last century. To him the South-Sea
House was the most important edifice on the
globe, remaining the same venerable pile it used
to be, in spite of all the changes that had be-
fallen it. It was there Charles Lamb passed the
novitiate of his long years of clerkship in the
East India Company. In Tom Folio's fancy a
slender, boyish figure was still seated, quill in
hand, behind those stately porticoes looking upon
Threadneedle Street and Bishopsgate. That
famous first paper in the "Essays," describing
the South-Sea House and the group of human
oddities which occupied desks within its gloomy
chambers, had left an indelible impression upon
the dreamer. Every line traced by the "lean
annuitant" was as familiar to Tom Folio as if
he had written it himself. Stray scraps, which
had escaped the vigilance of able editors, were
known to him, and it was his to unearth amid
a heap of mouldy, worm-eaten magazines, a
handful of leaves hitherto forgotten of all men.
Trifles, yes--but Charles Lamb's! "The
king's chaff is as good as other people's corn,"
says Tom Folio.
Often his talk was sweet and racy with old-
fashioned phrases; the talk of a man who loved
books and drew habitual breath in an atmosphere
of fine thought. Next to Charles Lamb, but at
a convenable distance, Izaak Walton was Tom
Folio's favorite. His poet was Alexander Pope,
though he thought Mr. Addison's tragedy of
"Cato" contained some proper good lines. Our
friend was a wide reader in English classics,
greatly preferring the literature of the earlier pe-
riods to that of the Victorian age. His smiling,
tenderly expressed disapprobation of various
modern authors was enchanting. John Keats's
verses were monstrous pretty, but over-orna-
mented. A little too much lucent syrup tinct
with cinnamon, don't you think? The poetry
of Shelley might have been composed in the
moon by a slightly deranged, well-meaning per-
son. If you wanted a sound mind in a sound
metrical body, why there was Mr. Pope's "Essay
on Man." There was something winsome and
by-gone in the general make-up of Tom Folio.
No man living in the world ever seemed to me
to live so much out of it, or to live more com-
At times I half suspected him of a conva-
lescent amatory disappointment. Perhaps long
before I knew him he had taken a little senti-
mental journey, the unsuccessful end of which
had touched him with a gentle sadness. It was
something far off and softened by memory. If
Tom Folio had any love-affair on hand in my
day, it must have been of an airy, platonic sort
--a chaste secret passion for Mistress Peg Wof-
fington or Nell Gwyn, or possibly Mr. Wal-
ler's Saccharissa.
Although Tom Folio was not a collector--
that means dividends and bank balances--he
had a passion for the Past and all its belongings,
with a virtuoso's knowledge of them. A fan
painted by Vanloo, a bit of rare Nankin (he had
caught from Charles Lamb the love of old china),
or an undoctored stipple of Bartolozzi, gave him
delight in the handling, though he might not
aspire to ownership. I believe he would will-
ingly have drunk any horrible decoction from
a silver teapot of Queen Anne's time. These
things were not for him in a coarse, materialistic
sense; in a spiritual sense he held possession of
them in fee-simple. I learned thus much of his
tastes one day during an hour we spent together
in the rear showroom of a dealer in antiquities.
I have spoken of Tom Folio as lonely, but I
am inclined to think that I mis-stated it. He
had hosts of friends who used to climb the rather
steep staircase leading to that modest third-story
front room which I have imagined for him--a
room with Turkey-red curtains, I like to believe,
and a rare engraving of a scene from Mr. Ho-
garth's excellent moral of "The Industrious and
Idle Apprentices" pinned against the chimney
breast. Young Chatterton, who was not always
the best of company, dropped in at intervals.
There Mr. Samuel Pepys had a special chair
reserved for him by the window, where he could
catch a glimpse of the pretty housemaid over the
way, chatting with the policeman at the area
railing. Dr. Johnson and the unworldly author
of "The Deserted Village" were frequent visit-
ors, sometimes appearing together arm-in-arm,
with James Boswell, Esq., of Auchinleck, fol-
lowing obsequiously behind. Not that Tom
Folio did not have callers vastly more aristo-
cratic, though he could have had none plea-
santer or wholesomer. Sir Philip Sidney (who
must have given Folio that copy of the "Arca-
dia"), the Viscount St. Albans, and even two
or three others before whom either of these might
have doffed his bonnet, did not disdain to gather
round that hearthstone. Fielding, Smollett,
Sterne, Defoe, Dick Steele, Dean Swift--there
was no end to them! On certain nights, when all
the stolid neighborhood was lapped in slumber,
the narrow street stretching beneath Tom Folio's
windows must have been blocked with invisible
coaches and sedan-chairs, and illuminated by the
visionary glare of torches borne by shadowy
linkboys hurrying hither and thither. A man
so sought after and companioned cannot be
described as lonely.
My memory here recalls the fact that he had
a few friends less insubstantial--that quaint
anatomy perched on the top of a hand-organ, to
whom Tom Folio was wont to give a bite of his
apple; and the brown-legged little Neapolitan
who was always nearly certain of a copper when
this multi-millionaire strolled through the slums
on a Saturday afternoon--Saturday probably
being the essayist's pay-day. The withered
woman of the peanut-stand on the corner over
against Faneuil Hall Market knew him for a
friend, as did also the blind lead-pencil merchant,
whom Tom Folio, on occasions, safely piloted
across the stormy traffic of Dock Square. No-
blesse oblige!
He was no stranger in those
purlieus. Without designing to confuse small
things with great, I may say that a certain strip
of pavement in North Street could be pointed
out as Tom Folio's Walk, just as Addison's
Walk is pointed out on the banks of the Cher-
well at Oxford.
I used to observe that when Tom Folio was
not in quest of a print or a pamphlet or some
such urgent thing, but was walking for mere
recreation, he instinctively avoided respectable
latitudes. He liked best the squalid, ill-kept
thoroughfares shadowed by tall, smudgy tene-
ment-houses and teeming with unprosperous,
noisy life. Perhaps he had, half consciously,
a sense of subtle kinship to the unsuccess and
cheerful resignation of it all.
Returning home from abroad one October
morning several years ago, I was told that that
simple spirit had passed on. His death had
been little heeded; but in him had passed away
an intangible genuine bit of Old Boston--as
genuine a bit, in its kind, as the Autocrat himself
--a personality not to be restored or replaced.
Tom Folio could never happen again!

Strolling to-day through the streets of the older
section of the town, I miss many a venerable
landmark submerged in the rising tide of change,
but I miss nothing quite so much as I do the
sight of Tom Folio entering the doorway of the
Old Corner Bookstore, or carefully taking down
a musty volume from its shelf at some melan-
choly old book-stall on Cornhill.


WHEN an English novelist does us the
honor to introduce any of our country-
men into his fiction, he generally displays a
commendable desire to present something typi-
cal in the way of names for his adopted char-
acters--to give a dash of local color, as it were,
with his nomenclature. His success is seldom
commensurate to the desire. He falls into the
error of appealing to his invention, instead of
consulting some city directory, in which he
would find more material than he could exhaust
in ten centuries. Charles Reade might have
secured in the pages of such a compendium a
happier title than Fullalove for his Yankee
sea-captain; though I doubt, on the whole, if
Anthony Trollope could have discovered any-
thing better than Olivia Q. Fleabody for the
young woman from "the States" in his novel
called "Is He Popenjoy?"
To christen a sprightly young female advo-
cate of woman's rights Olivia Q. Fleabody was
very happy indeed; to be candid, it was much
better than was usual with Mr. Trollope, whose
understanding of American life and manners was
not enlarged by extensive travel in this country.
An English tourist's preconceived idea of us is
a thing he brings over with him on the steamer
and carries home again intact; it is as much a
part of his indispensable impedimenta as his hat-
box. But Fleabody is excellent; it was prob-
ably suggested by Peabody, which may have
struck Mr. Trollope as comical (just as Trollope
strikes us as comical), or, at least, as not seri-
ous. What a capital name Veronica Trollope
would be for a hoydenish young woman in a
society novel! I fancy that all foreign names
are odd to the alien. I remember that the signs
above shop-doors in England and on the Conti-
nent used to amuse me often enough, when I
was over there. It is a notable circumstance
that extraordinary names never seem extraordi-
nary to the persons bearing them. If a fellow-
creature were branded Ebenezer Cuttlefish he
would remain to the end of his days quite un-
conscious of anything out of the common.
I am aware that many of our American names
are sufficiently queer; but English writers make
merry over them, as if our most eccentric were
not thrown into the shade by some of their own.
No American, living or dead, can surpass the
verbal infelicity of Knatchbull-Hugessen, for ex-
ample--if the gentleman will forgive me for
conscripting him. Quite as remarkable, in a
grimly significant way, is the appellation of a
British officer who was fighting the Boers in the
Transvaal in the year of blessed memory 1899.
This young soldier, who highly distinguished
himself on the field, was known to his brothers-
in-arms as Major Pine Coffin. I trust that the
gallant major became a colonel later and is still
alive. It would eclipse the gayety of nations to
lose a man with a name like that.
Several years ago I read in the sober police
reports of "The Pall Mall Gazette" an account
of a young man named George F. Onions, who
was arrested (it ought to have been by "a
peeler") for purloining money from his em-
ployers, Messrs. Joseph Pickles & Son, stuff
merchants, of Bradford--des noms bien idyl-
What mortal could have a more ludi-
crous name than Onions, unless it were Pickles,
or Pickled Onions? And then for Onions to rob
Pickles! Could there be a more incredible coin-
cidence? As a coincidence it is nearly sublime.
No story-writer would dare to present that fact
or those names in his fiction; neither would be
accepted as possible. Meanwhile Olivia Q. Flea-
body is ben trovato.


THE night-scene on the battlefield of Wa-
gram in "L'Aiglon"--an episode whose
sharp pathos pierces the heart and the imagina-
tion like the point of a rapier--bears a striking
resemblance to a picturesque passage in Victor
Hugo's "Les Miserables." It is the one intense
great moment in the play, and has been widely
discussed, but so far as I am aware none of M.
Rostand's innumerable critics has touched on the
resemblance mentioned. In the master's ro-
mance it is not the field of Wagram, but the
field of Waterloo, that is magically repeopled
with contending armies of spooks, to use the
grim old Dutch word, and made vivid to the
mind's eye. The passage occurs at the end
of the sixteenth chapter in the second part of
"Les Miserables" (Cosette), and runs as

Le champ de Waterloo aujourd'hui a le calme qui
appartient a la terre, support impassible de l'homme,
et il resemble a toutes les plaines. La nuit pourtant
une espece de brume visionnaire s'en degage, et si
quelque voyageur s'y promene, s'il regarde, s'il ecoute,
s'il reve comme Virgile dans les funestes plaines de
Philippes, l'hallucination de la catastrophe le saisit.
L'effrayant 18 juin revit; la fausse colline-monument
s'efface, ce lion quelconque se dissipe, le champ de
bataille reprend sa realite; des lignes d'infanterie
ondulent dans la plaine, des galops furieux traversent
l'horizon; le songeur effare voit l'eclair des sabres,
l'etincelle des bayonnettes, le flamboiement des bombes,
l'entre-croisement monstrueux des tonnerres; il en-
tend, comme un rale au fond d'une tombe, la clameur
vague de la bataille-fantome; ces ombres, ce sont les
grenadiers; ces lueurs, ce sont les cuirassiers; . . .
tout cela n'est plus et se heurte et combat encore; et
les ravins s'empourprent, et les arbres frissonnent, et
il y a de la furie jusque dans les nuees, et, dans les
tenebres, toutes ces hauteurs farouches, Mont-Saint-
Jean, Hougomont, Frischemont, Papelotte, Plance-
noit, apparaissent confusement couronnees de tour-
billons de spectres s'exterminant. <1>

Here is the whole battle scene in "L'Aiglon,"
with scarcely a gruesome detail omitted. The
vast plain glimmering in phantasmal light; the
ghostly squadrons hurling themselves against

<1> The field of Waterloo has to-day the peacefulness which be-
longs to earth, the impassive support of man, and is like all other
plains. At night, however, a kind of visionary mist is exhaled,
and if any traveler walks there, and watches and listens, and
dreams like Virgil on the sorrowful plains of Philippi, the hallu-
cination of the catastrophe takes possession of him. The terrible
June 18 relives; the artificial commemorative mound effaces itself,
the lion disappears, the field of battle assumes its reality; lines
of infantry waver on the plain, the horizon is broken by furious
charges of cavalry; the alarmed dreamer sees the gleam of sabres,
the glimmer of bayonets, the lurid glare of bursting shells, the
clashing of mighty thunderbolts; the muffled clamor of the
phantom conflict comes to him like dying moans from the tomb;
these shadows are grenadiers, these lights are cuirassiers . . .
all this does not really exist, yet the combat goes on; the ravines are
stained with purple, the trees tremble, there is fury even in the
clouds, and in the obscurity the sombre heights--Mont Saint-
Jean, Hougomont, Frischemont, Papelotte, and Plancenoit--ap-
pear dimly crowned with throngs of apparitions annihilating one

One another (seen only through the eyes of the
poor little Duke of Reichstadt); the mangled
shapes lying motionless in various postures of
death upon the blood-stained sward; the moans
of the wounded rising up and sweeping by like
vague wailings of the wind--all this might be
taken for an artful appropriation of Victor
Hugo's text; but I do not think it was, though
it is possible that a faint reflection of a brilliant
page, read in early youth, still lingered on the
retina of M. Rostand's memory. If such were
the case, it does not necessarily detract from the
integrity of the conception or the playwright's
presentment of it.
The idea of repeopling old battlefields with
the shades of vanished hosts is not novel. In
such tragic spots the twilight always lays a dark
hand on the imagination, and prompts one to
invoke the unappeased spirit of the past that
haunts the place. One summer evening long
ago, as I was standing alone by the ruined walls
of Hougomont, with that sense of not being
alone which is sometimes so strangely stirred by
solitude, I had a sudden vision of that desperate
last charge of Napoleon's Old Guard. Marshal
Ney rose from the grave and again shouted
those heroic words to Drouet d'Erlon: "Are
you not going to get yourself killed?" For
an instant a thousand sabres flashed in the
air. The deathly silence that accompanied the
ghostly onset was an added poignancy to the
short-lived dream. A moment later I beheld a
hunched little figure mounted on a white horse
with housings of purple velvet. The reins lay
slack in the rider's hand; his three-cornered hat
was slouched over his brows, and his chin
rested on the breast of his great-coat. Thus he
slowly rode away through the twilight, and
nobody cried, Vive l'Empereur!
The ground on which a famous battle has
been fought casts a spell upon every man's
mind; and the impression made upon two men
of poetic genius, like Victor Hugo and Edmond
Rostand, might well be nearly identical. This
sufficiently explains the likeness between the
fantastic silhouette in "Les Miserables" and the
battle of the ghosts in "L'Aiglon." A muse so
rich in the improbable as M. Rostand's need
not borrow a piece of supernaturalness from


HENRY JAMES, in his paper on Anthony
Trollope, says that if Trollope "had taken
sides on the rather superficial opposition between
novels of character and novels of plot, I can
imagine him to have said (except that he never
expressed himself in epigram) that he preferred
the former class, inasmuch as character in itself
is plot, while plot is by no means character."
So neat an antithesis would surely never have
found itself between Mr. Trollope's lips if Mr.
James had not cunningly lent it to him. What-
ever theory of novel-writing Mr. Trollope may
have preached, his almost invariable practice
was to have a plot. He always had a story to
tell, and a story involves beginning, middle, and
end--in short, a framework of some description.
There have been delightful books filled wholly
with character-drawing; but they have not been
great novels. The great novel deals with human
action as well as with mental portraiture and
analysis. That "character in itself is plot" is
true only in a limited sense. A plan, a motive
with a logical conclusion, is as necessary to a
novel or a romance as it is to a drama. A group
of skillfully made-up men and women lounging
in the green-room or at the wings is not the
play. It is not enough to say that this is Romeo
and that Lady Macbeth. It is not enough to
inform us that certain passions are supposed to
be embodied in such and such persons: these
persons should be placed in situations develop-
ing those passions. A series of unrelated scenes
and dialogues leading to nothing is inadequate.
Mr. James's engaging epigram seems to me
vulnerable at both ends--unlike Achilles.
"Plot is by no means character." Strictly
speaking, it is not. It appears to me, however,
that plot approaches nearer to being character
than character does to being plot. Plot necessi-
tates action, and it is impossible to describe a
man's actions' under whatever conditions, with-
out revealing something of his character, his
way of looking at things, his moral and mental
pose. What a hero of fiction does paints him
better than what he says, and vastly better than
anything his creator may say of him. Mr.
James asserts that "we care what happens to
people only in proportion as we know what
people are." I think we care very little what
people are (in fiction) when we do not know
what happens to them.


IN the process of their experiments upon the
bodies of living animals some anatomists do
not, I fear, sufficiently realize that

The poor beetle, that we tread upon,
In corporal sufferance, finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.

I am not for a moment challenging the neces-
sity of vivisection, though distinguished sur-
geons have themselves challenged it; I merely
contend that science is apt to be cold-hearted,
and does not seem always to take into consider-
ation the tortures she inflicts in her search for
Just now, in turning over the leaves of an old
number of the "London Lancet," I came upon
the report of a lecture on experimental physiology
delivered by Professor William Rutherford be-
fore a learned association in London. Though
the type had become antiquated and the paper
yellowed in the lapse of years, the pathos of
those pages was alive and palpitating.
The following passages from the report will
illustrate not unfairly the point I am making.
In the course of his remarks the lecturer ex-
hibited certain interesting experiments on living
frogs. Intellectually I go very strongly for Pro-
fessor Rutherford, but I am bound to confess
that the weight of my sympathy rests with the

Observe this frog [said the professor], it is regard-
ing our manoeuvres with a somewhat lively air. Now
and then it gives a jump. What the precise object of
its leaps may be I dare not pretend to say; but prob-
ably it regards us with some apprehension, and desires
to escape.

To be perfectly impartial, it must be admitted
that the frog had some slight reason for appre-
hension. The lecturer proceeded:

I touch one of its toes, and you see it resents the
molestation in a very decided manner. Why does it so
struggle to get away when I pinch its toes? Doubt-
less, you will say, because it feels the pinch and would
rather not have it repeated. I now behead the animal
with the aid of a sharp chisel. . . . The headless trunk
lies as though it were dead. The spinal cord seems to
be suffering from shock. Probably, however, it will
soon recover from this. . . . Observe that the animal
has now spontaneously drawn up its legs and arms,
and it is sitting with its neck erect just as if it had
not lost its head at all. I pinch its toes, and you see
the leg is at once thrust out as if to spurn away the
offending instrument. Does it still feel? and is the
motion still the result of the volition?

That the frog did feel, and delicately hinted
at the circumstance, there seems to be no room to
doubt, for Professor Rutherford related that
having once decapitated a frog, the animal sud-
denly bounded from the table, a movement that
presumably indicated a kind of consciousness.
He then returned to the subject immediately
under observation, pinched its foot again, the
frog again "resenting the stimulation." He then
thrust a needle down the spinal cord. "The
limbs are now flaccid," observed the experi-
menter; "we may wait as long as we please,
but a pinch of the toes will never again cause
the limbs of this animal to move." Here is
where congratulations can come in for la gre-
. That frog being concluded, the lec-
turer continued:

I take another frog. In this case I open the cranium
and remove the brain and medulla oblongata. . . .
I thrust a pin through the nose and hang the animal

thereby to a support, so that it can move its pendent
legs without any difficulty. . . . I gently pinch the
toes. . . . The leg of the same side is pulled up. . . .
I pinch the same more severely. . . . Both legs are
thrown into motion.

Having thus satisfactorily proved that the
wretched creature could still suffer acutely, the
professor resumed:

The cutaneous nerves of the frog are extremely sen-
sitive to acids; so I put a drop of acetic acid on the
outside of one knee. This, you see, gives rise to most
violent movements both of arms and legs, and notice
particularly that the animal is using the toes of the
leg on the same side for the purpose of rubbing the
irritated spot. I dip the whole animal into water
in order to wash away the acid, and now it is all at
rest again. . . . I put a drop of acid on the skin
over the lumbar region of the spine. . . . Both feet
are instantly raised to the irritated spot. The animal
is able to localize the seat of irritation. . . . I wash
the acid from the back, and I amputate one of the
feet at the ankle. . . . I apply a drop of acid over
the knee of the footless leg. . . . Again, the animal
turns the leg towards the knee, as if to reach the irri-
tated spot with the toes; these, however, are not now
available. But watch the other foot. The foot of the
other leg
is now being used to rub away the acid. The
animal, finding that the object is not accomplished
with the foot of the same side, uses the other one.

I think that at least one thing will be patent
to every unprejudiced reader of these excerpts,
namely--that any frog (with its head on or
its head off) which happened to make the per-
sonal acquaintance of Professor Rutherford must
have found him poor company. What benefit
science may have derived from such association
I am not qualified to pronounce upon. The lec-
turer showed conclusively that the frog is a
peculiarly sensitive and intelligent little batra-
chian. I hope that the genial professor, in the
years which followed, did not frequently con-
sider it necessary to demonstrate the fact.


IT has recently become the fashion to speak
disparagingly of Leigh Hunt as a poet, to
class him as a sort of pursuivant or shield-bearer
to Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats. Truth to tell,
Hunt was not a Keats nor a Shelley nor a Cole-
ridge, but he was a most excellent Hunt. He
was a delightful essayist--quite unsurpassed,
indeed, in his blithe, optimistic way--and as a
poet deserves to rank high among the lesser
singers of his time. I should place him far
above Barry Cornwall, who has not half the
freshness, variety, and originality of his com-
I instance Barry Cornwall because there has
seemed a disposition since his death to praise
him unduly. Barry Cornwall has always struck
me as extremely artificial, especially in his dra-
matic sketches. His verses in this line are
mostly soft Elizabethan echoes. Of course a
dramatist may find it to his profit to go out of
his own age and atmosphere for inspiration; but
in order successfully to do so he must be a dra-
matist. Barry Cornwall fell short of filling the
role; he got no further than the composing of
brief disconnected scenes and scraps of solilo-
quies, and a tragedy entitled Mirandola, for
which the stage had no use. His chief claim to
recognition lies in his lyrics. Here, as in the
dramatic studies, his attitude is nearly always
affected. He studiously strives to reproduce the
form and spirit of the early poets. Being a Lon-
doner, he naturally sings much of rural English
life, but his England is the England of two or
three centuries ago. He has a great deal to say
about the "falcon," but the poor bird has the
air of beating fatigued wings against the book-
shelves of a well-furnished library! This well-
furnished library was--if I may be pardoned a
mixed image--the rock on which Barry Corn-
wall split. He did not look into his own heart,
and write: he looked into his books.
A poet need not confine himself to his indi-
vidual experiences; the world is all before him
where to choose; but there are subjects which
he had better not handle unless he have some
personal knowledge of them. The sea is one of
these. The man who sang,

The sea! the sea! the open sea!
The blue, the fresh, the ever free!

(a couplet which the Gifted Hopkins might have
penned), should never have permitted himself to
sing of the ocean. I am quoting from one of
Barry Cornwall's most popular lyrics. When I
first read this singularly vapid poem years ago,
in mid-Atlantic, I wondered if the author had
ever laid eyes on any piece of water wider than
the Thames at Greenwich, and in looking over
Barry Cornwall's "Life and Letters" I am not
so much surprised as amused to learn that he was
never out of sight of land in the whole course
of his existence. It is to be said of him more

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