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The Complete Essays of C. D. Warner by Charles Dudley Warner

Part 3 out of 11

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that there are so many desolate and wearisome and fantastic places, and
so many tiresome and unattractive people in this lovely world.


There must be something very good in human nature, or people would not
experience so much pleasure in giving; there must be something very bad
in human nature, or more people would try the experiment of giving.
Those who do try it become enamored of it, and get their chief pleasure
in life out of it; and so evident is this that there is some basis for
the idea that it is ignorance rather than badness which keeps so many
people from being generous. Of course it may become a sort of
dissipation, or more than that, a devastation, as many men who have what
are called "good wives" have reason to know, in the gradual disappearance
of their wardrobe if they chance to lay aside any of it temporarily.
The amount that a good woman can give away is only measured by her
opportunity. Her mind becomes so trained in the mystery of this pleasure
that she experiences no thrill of delight in giving away only the things
her husband does not want. Her office in life is to teach him the joy of
self-sacrifice. She and all other habitual and irreclaimable givers soon
find out that there is next to no pleasure in a gift unless it involves
some self-denial.

Let one consider seriously whether he ever gets as much satisfaction out
of a gift received as out of one given. It pleases him for the moment,
and if it is useful, for a long time; he turns it over, and admires it;
he may value it as a token of affection, and it flatters his self-esteem
that he is the object of it. But it is a transient feeling compared with
that he has when he has made a gift. That substantially ministers to his
self-esteem. He follows the gift; he dwells upon the delight of the
receiver; his imagination plays about it; it will never wear out or
become stale; having parted with it, it is for him a lasting possession.
It is an investment as lasting as that in the debt of England. Like a
good deed, it grows, and is continually satisfactory. It is something to
think of when he first wakes in the morning--a time when most people are
badly put to it for want of something pleasant to think of. This fact
about giving is so incontestably true that it is a wonder that
enlightened people do not more freely indulge in giving for their own
comfort. It is, above all else, amazing that so many imagine they are
going to get any satisfaction out of what they leave by will. They may
be in a state where they will enjoy it, if the will is not fought over;
but it is shocking how little gratitude there is accorded to a departed
giver compared to a living giver. He couldn't take the property with
him, it is said; he was obliged to leave it to somebody. By this thought
his generosity is always reduced to a minimum. He may build a monument
to himself in some institution, but we do not know enough of the world to
which he has gone to know whether a tiny monument on this earth is any
satisfaction to a person who is free of the universe. Whereas every
giving or deed of real humanity done while he was living would have
entered into his character, and would be of lasting service to him--that
is, in any future which we can conceive.

Of course we are not confining our remarks to what are called Christmas
gifts--commercially so called--nor would we undertake to estimate the
pleasure there is in either receiving or giving these. The shrewd
manufacturers of the world have taken notice of the periodic generosity
of the race, and ingeniously produce articles to serve it, that is, to
anticipate the taste and to thwart all individuality or spontaneity in
it. There is, in short, what is called a "line of holiday goods,"
fitting, it may be supposed, the periodic line of charity. When a person
receives some of these things in the blessed season of such, he is apt to
be puzzled. He wants to know what they are for, what he is to do with
them. If there are no "directions" on the articles, his gratitude is
somewhat tempered. He has seen these nondescripts of ingenuity and
expense in the shop windows, but he never expected to come into personal
relations to them. He is puzzled, and he cannot escape the unpleasant
feeling that commerce has put its profit-making fingers into Christmas.
Such a lot of things seem to be manufactured on purpose that people may
perform a duty that is expected of them in the holidays. The house is
full of these impossible things; they occupy the mantelpieces, they stand
about on the tottering little tables, they are ingenious, they are made
for wants yet undiscovered, they tarnish, they break, they will not
"work," and pretty soon they look "second-hand." Yet there must be more
satisfaction in giving these articles than in receiving them, and maybe a
spice of malice--not that of course, for in the holidays nearly every
gift expresses at least kindly remembrance--but if you give them you do
not have to live with them. But consider how full the world is of
holiday goods--costly goods too--that are of no earthly use, and are not
even artistic, and how short life is, and how many people actually need
books and other indispensable articles, and how starved are many fine
drawing-rooms, not for holiday goods, but for objects of beauty.

Christmas stands for much, and for more and more in a world that is
breaking down its barriers of race and religious intolerance, and one of
its chief offices has been supposed to be the teaching of men the
pleasure there is in getting rid of some of their possessions for the
benefit of others. But this frittering away a good instinct and tendency
in conventional giving of manufactures made to suit an artificial
condition is hardly in the line of developing the spirit that shares the
last crust or gives to the thirsty companion in the desert the first pull
at the canteen. Of course Christmas feeling is the life of trade and all
that, and we will be the last to discourage any sort of giving, for one
can scarcely disencumber himself of anything in his passage through this
world and not be benefited; but the hint may not be thrown away that one
will personally get more satisfaction out of his periodic or continual
benevolence if he gives during his life the things which he wants and
other people need, and reserves for a fine show in his will a collected
but not selected mass of holiday goods.


The idea of the relation of climate to happiness is modern. It is
probably born of the telegraph and of the possibility of rapid travel,
and it is more disturbing to serenity of mind than any other. Providence
had so ordered it that if we sat still in almost any region of the globe
except the tropics we would have, in course of the year, almost all the
kinds of climate that exist. The ancient societies did not trouble
themselves about the matter; they froze or thawed, were hot or cold, as
it pleased the gods. They did not think of fleeing from winter any more
than from the summer solstice, and consequently they enjoyed a certain
contentment of mind that is absent from modern life. We are more
intelligent, and therefore more discontented and unhappy. We are always
trying to escape winter when we are not trying to escape summer. We are
half the time 'in transitu', flying hither and thither, craving that
exact adaptation of the weather to our whimsical bodies promised only to
the saints who seek a "better country." There are places, to be sure,
where nature is in a sort of equilibrium, but usually those are places
where we can neither make money nor spend it to our satisfaction. They
lack either any stimulus to ambition or a historic association, and we
soon find that the mind insists upon being cared for quite as much as the

How many wanderers in the past winter left comfortable homes in the
United States to seek a mild climate! Did they find it in the sleet and
bone-piercing cold of Paris, or anywhere in France, where the wolves were
forced to come into the villages in the hope of picking up a tender
child? If they traveled farther, were the railway carriages anything but
refrigerators tempered by cans of cooling water? Was there a place in
Europe from Spain to Greece, where the American could once be warm--
really warm without effort--in or out of doors? Was it any better in
divine Florence than on the chill Riviera? Northern Italy was blanketed
with snow, the Apennines were white, and through the clean streets of the
beautiful town a raw wind searched every nook and corner, penetrating
through the thickest of English wraps, and harder to endure than
ingratitude, while a frosty mist enveloped all. The traveler forgot to
bring with him the contented mind of the Italian. Could he go about in a
long cloak and a slouch hat, curl up in doorways out of the blast, and be
content in a feeling of his own picturesqueness? Could he sit all day on
the stone pavement and hold out his chilblained hand for soldi? Could he
even deceive himself, in a palatial apartment with a frescoed ceiling, by
an appearance of warmth in two sticks ignited by a pine cone set in an
aperture in one end of the vast room, and giving out scarcely heat enough
to drive the swallows from the chimney? One must be born to this sort of
thing in order to enjoy it. He needs the poetic temperament which can
feel in January the breath of June. The pampered American is not adapted
to this kind of pleasure. He is very crude, not to say barbarous, yet in
many of his tastes, but he has reached one of the desirable things in
civilization, and that is a thorough appreciation of physical comfort.
He has had the ingenuity to protect himself in his own climate, but when
he travels he is at the mercy of customs and traditions in which the idea
of physical comfort is still rudimentary. He cannot warm himself before
a group of statuary, or extract heat from a canvas by Raphael, nor keep
his teeth from chattering by the exquisite view from the Boboli Gardens.
The cold American is insensible to art, and shivers in the presence of
the warmest historical associations. It is doubtful if there is a spot
in Europe where he can be ordinarily warm in winter. The world, indeed,
does not care whether he is warm or not, but it is a matter of great
importance to him. As he wanders from palace to palace--and he cannot
escape the impression that nothing is good enough for him except a
palace--he cannot think of any cottage in any hamlet in America that is
not more comfortable in winter than any palace he can find. And so he is
driven on in cold and weary stretches of travel to dwell among the French
in Algeria, or with the Jews in Tunis, or the Moslems in Cairo. He longs
for warmth as the Crusader longed for Jerusalem, but not short of Africa
shall he find it. The glacial period is coming back on Europe.

The citizens of the great republic have a reputation for inordinate self-
appreciation, but we are thinking that they undervalue many of the
advantages their ingenuity has won. It is admitted that they are
restless, and must always be seeking something that they have not at
home. But aside from their ability to be warm in any part of their own
country at any time of the year, where else can they travel three
thousand miles on a stretch in a well-heated--too much heated--car,
without change of car, without revision of tickets, without encountering
a customhouse, without the necessity of stepping outdoors either for food
or drink, for a library, for a bath--for any item, in short, that goes to
the comfort of a civilized being? And yet we are always prating of the
superior civilization of Europe. Nay, more, the traveler steps into a
car--which is as comfortable as a house--in Boston, and alights from it
only in the City of Mexico. In what other part of the world can that
achievement in comfort and convenience be approached?

But this is not all as to climate and comfort. We have climates of all
sorts within easy reach, and in quantity, both good and bad, enough to
export more in fact than we need of all sorts. If heat is all we want,
there are only three or four days between the zero of Maine and the
80 deg. of Florida. If New England is inhospitable and New York
freezing, it is only a matter of four days to the sun and the
exhilarating air of New Mexico and Arizona, and only five to the oranges
and roses of that semi-tropical kingdom by the sea, Southern California.
And if this does not content us, a day or two more lands us, without sea-
sickness, in the land of the Aztecs, where we can live in the temperate
or the tropic zone, eat strange fruits, and be reminded of Egypt and
Spain and Italy, and see all the colors that the ingenuity of man has
been able to give his skin. Fruits and flowers and sun in the winter-
time, a climate to lounge and be happy in--all this is within easy reach,
with the minimum of disturbance to our daily habits. We started out,
when we turned our backs on the Old World, with the declaration that all
men are free, and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of an
agreeable climate. We have yet to learn, it seems, that we can indulge
in that pursuit best on our own continent. There is no winter climate
elsewhere to compare with that found in our extreme Southwest or in
Mexico, and the sooner we put this fact into poetry and literature, and
begin to make a tradition of it, the better will it be for our peace of
mind and for our children. And if the continent does not satisfy us,
there lie the West Indies within a few hours' sail, with all the
luxuriance and geniality of the tropics. We are only half emancipated
yet. We are still apt to see the world through the imagination of
England, whose literature we adopted, or of Germany. To these bleak
lands Italy was a paradise, and was so sung by poets who had no
conception of a winter without frost. We have a winter climate of
another sort from any in Europe; we have easy and comfortable access to
it. The only thing we need to do now is to correct our imagination,
which has been led astray. Our poets can at least do this for us by the
help of a quasi-international copyright.


In times past there have been expressed desire and fear that there should
be an American aristocracy, and the materials for its formation have been
a good deal canvassed. In a political point of view it is of course
impossible, but it has been hoped by many, and feared by more, that a
social state might be created conforming somewhat to the social order in
European countries. The problem has been exceedingly difficult. An
aristocracy of derived rank and inherited privilege being out of the
question, and an aristocracy of talent never having succeeded anywhere,
because enlightenment of mind tends to liberalism and democracy, there
was only left the experiment of an aristocracy of wealth. This does very
well for a time, but it tends always to disintegration, and it is
impossible to keep it exclusive. It was found, to use the slang of the
dry-goods shops, that it would not wash, for there were liable to crowd
into it at any moment those who had in fact washed for a living. An
aristocracy has a slim tenure that cannot protect itself from this sort
of intrusion. We have to contrive, therefore, another basis for a class
(to use an un-American expression), in a sort of culture or training,
which can be perpetual, and which cannot be ordered for money, like a
ball costume or a livery.

Perhaps the "American Girl" may be the agency to bring this about. This
charming product of the Western world has come into great prominence of
late years in literature and in foreign life, and has attained a
notoriety flattering or otherwise to the national pride. No institution
has been better known or more marked on the Continent and in England, not
excepting the tramway and the Pullman cars. Her enterprise, her daring,
her freedom from conventionality, have been the theme of the novelists
and the horror of the dowagers having marriageable daughters. Considered
as "stock," the American Girl has been quoted high, and the alliances
that she has formed with families impecunious but noble have given her
eclat as belonging to a new and conquering race in the world. But the
American Girl has not simply a slender figure and a fine eye and a ready
tongue, she is not simply an engaging and companionable person, she has
excellent common-sense, tact, and adaptability. She has at length seen
in her varied European experience that it is more profitable to have
social good form according to local standards than a reputation for dash
and brilliancy. Consequently the American Girl of a decade ago has
effaced herself. She is no longer the dazzling courageous figure. In
England, in France, in Germany, in Italy, she takes, as one may say, the
color of the land. She has retired behind her mother. She who formerly
marched in the van of the family procession, leading them--including the
panting mother--a whimsical dance, is now the timid and retiring girl,
needing the protection of a chaperon on every occasion. The satirist
will find no more abroad the American Girl of the old type whom he
continues to describe. The knowing and fascinating creature has changed
her tactics altogether. And the change has reacted on American society.
The mother has come once more to the front, and even if she is obliged to
own to forty-five years to the census-taker, she has again the position
and the privileges of the blooming woman of thirty. Her daughters walk
meekly and with downcast (if still expectant) eyes, and wait for a sign.

That this change is the deliberate work of the American Girl, no one who
knows her grace and talent will deny. In foreign travel and residence
she has been quick to learn her lesson. Dazzled at first by her own
capacity and the opportunities of the foreign field, she took the
situation by storm. But she found too often that she had a barren
conquest, and that the social traditions survived her success and became
a lifelong annoyance; that is to say, it was possible to subdue foreign
men, but the foreign women were impregnable in their social order. The
American Girl abroad is now, therefore, with rare exceptions, as
carefully chaperoned and secluded as her foreign sisters.

It is not necessary to lay too much stress upon this phase of American
life abroad, but the careful observer must notice its reflex action at
home. The American freedom and unconventionality in the intercourse of
the young of both sexes, which has been so much commented on as
characteristic of American life, may not disappear, but that small
section which calls itself "society" may attain a sort of aristocratic
distinction by the adoption of this foreign conventionality. It is
sufficient now to note this tendency, and to claim the credit of it for
the wise and intelligent American Girl. It would be a pity if it were to
become nationally universal, for then it would not be the aristocratic
distinction of a few, and the American woman who longs for some sort of
caste would be driven to some other device.

It is impossible to tell yet what form this feminine reserve and
retirement will take. It is not at all likely to go so far as the
Oriental seclusion of women. The American Girl would never even
seemingly give up her right of initiative. If she is to stay in the
background and pretend to surrender her choice to her parents, and with
it all the delights of a matrimonial campaign, she will still maintain a
position of observation. If she seems to be influenced at present by the
French and Italian examples, we may be sure that she is too intelligent
and too fond of freedom to long tolerate any system of chaperonage that
she cannot control. She will find a way to modify the traditional
conventionalities so as not to fetter her own free spirit. It may be her
mission to show the world a social order free from the forward
independence and smartness of which she has been accused, and yet
relieved of the dull stiffness of the older forms. It is enough now to
notice that a change is going on, due to the effect of foreign society
upon American women, and to express the patriotic belief that whatever
forms of etiquette she may bow to, the American Girl will still be on
earth the last and best gift of God to man.


What we want is repose. We take infinite trouble and go to the ends of
the world to get it. That is what makes us all so restless. If we could
only find a spot where we could sit down, content to let the world go by,
away from the Sunday newspapers and the chronicles of an uneasy society,
we think we should be happy. Perhaps such a place is Coronado Beach--
that semi-tropical flower-garden by the sea. Perhaps another is the
Timeo Terrace at Taormina. There, without moving, one has the most
exquisite sea and shore far below him, so far that he has the feeling of
domination without effort; the most picturesque crags and castle peaks;
he has all classic legend under his eye without the trouble of reading,
and mediaeval romance as well; ruins from the time of Theocritus to
Freeman, with no responsibility of describing them; and one of the
loveliest and most majestic of snow mountains, never twice the same in
light and shade, entirely revealed and satisfactory from base to summit,
with no self or otherwise imposed duty of climbing it. Here are most of
the elements of peace and calm spirit. And the town itself is quite
dead, utterly exhausted after a turbulent struggle of twenty-five hundred
years, its poor inhabitants living along only from habit. The only new
things in it--the two caravansaries of the traveler--are a hotel and a
cemetery. One might end his days here in serene retrospection, and more
cheaply than in other places of fewer attractions, for it is all Past and
no Future. Probably, therefore, it would not suit the American, whose
imagination does not work so easily backward as forward, and who prefers
to build his own nest rather than settle in anybody else's rookery.
Perhaps the American deceives himself when he says he wants repose; what
he wants is perpetual activity and change; his peace of mind is postponed
until he can get it in his own way. It is in feeling that he is a part
of growth and not of decay. Foreigners are fond of writing essays upon
American traits and characteristics. They touch mostly on surface
indications. What really distinguishes the American from all others--for
all peoples like more or less to roam, and the English of all others are
globe-trotters--is not so much his restlessness as his entire accord with
the spirit of "go-ahead," the result of his absolute breaking with the
Past. He can repose only in the midst of intense activity. He can sit
down quietly in a town that is growing rapidly; but if it stands still,
he is impelled to move his rocking-chair to one more lively. He wants
the world to move, and to move unencumbered; and Europe seems to him to
carry too much baggage. The American is simply the most modern of men,
one who has thrown away the impedimenta of tradition. The world never
saw such a spectacle before, so vast a territory informed with one
uniform spirit of energy and progress, and people tumbling into it from
all the world, eager for the fair field and free opportunity. The
American delights in it; in Europe he misses the swing and "go" of the
new life.

This large explanation may not account for the summer restlessness that
overtakes nearly everybody. We are the annual victims of the delusion
that there exists somewhere the ideal spot where manners are simple, and
milk is pure, and lodging is cheap, where we shall fall at once into
content. We never do. For content consists not in having all we want,
nor, in not wanting everything, nor in being unable to get what we want,
but in not wanting that we can get. In our summer flittings we carry our
wants with us to places where they cannot be gratified. A few people
have discovered that repose can be had at home, but this discovery is too
unfashionable to find favor; we have no rest except in moving about.
Looked at superficially, it seems curious that the American is, as a
rule, the only person who does not emigrate. The fact is that he can go
nowhere else where life is so uneasy, and where, consequently, he would
have so little of his sort of repose. To put him in another country
would be like putting a nineteenth-century man back into the eighteenth
century. The American wants to be at the head of the procession (as he
fancies he is), where he can hear the band play, and be the first to see
the fireworks of the new era. He thinks that he occupies an advanced
station of observation, from which his telescope can sweep the horizon
for anything new. And with some reason he thinks so; for not seldom he
takes up a foreign idea and tires of it before it is current elsewhere.
More than one great writer of England had his first popular recognition
in America. Even this season the Saturday Review is struggling with
Ibsen, while Boston, having had that disease, has probably gone on to
some other fad.

Far be it from us to praise the American for his lack of repose; it is
enough to attempt to account for it. But from the social, or rather
society, point of view, the subject has a disquieting aspect. If the
American young man and young woman get it into their heads that repose,
especially of manner, is the correct thing, they will go in for it in a
way to astonish the world. The late cultivation of idiocy by the
American dude was unique. He carried it to an extreme impossible to the
youth of any nation less "gifted." And if the American girl goes in
seriously for "repose," she will be able to give odds to any modern
languidity or to any ancient marble. If what is wanted in society is
cold hauteur and languid superciliousness or lofty immobility, we are
confident that with a little practice she can sit stiller, and look more
impassive, and move with less motion, than any other created woman. We
have that confidence in her ability and adaptability. It is a question
whether it is worth while to do this; to sacrifice the vivacity and charm
native to her, and the natural impulsiveness and generous gift of herself
which belong to a new race in a new land, which is walking always towards
the sunrise.

In fine, although so much is said of the American lack of repose, is it
not best for the American to be content to be himself, and let the
critics adapt themselves or not, as they choose, to a new phenomenon?

Let us stick a philosophic name to it, and call it repose in activity.
The American might take the candid advice given by one friend to another,
who complained that it was so difficult to get into the right frame of
mind. "The best thing you can do," he said, "is to frame your mind and
hang it up."


We have not by any means got to the bottom of Realism. It matters very
little what the novelists and critics say about it--what it is and what
it is not; the attitude of society towards it is the important thing.
Even if the critic could prove that nature and art are the same thing,
and that the fiction which is Real is only a copy of nature, or if
another should prove that Reality is only to be found in the Ideal,
little would be gained. Literature is well enough in its place, art is
an agreeable pastime, and it is right that society should take up either
in seasons when lawn-tennis and polo are impracticable and afternoon teas
become flavorless; but the question that society is or should be
interested in is whether the young woman of the future--upon whose
formation all our social hopes depend--is going to shape herself by a
Realistic or an Ideal standard. It should be said in parenthesis that
the young woman of the passing period has inclined towards Realism in
manner and speech, if not in dress, affecting a sort of frank return to
the easy-going ways of nature itself, even to the adoption of the
language of the stock exchange, the race-course, and the clubs--an
offering of herself on the altar of good-fellowship, with the view, no
doubt, of making life more agreeable to the opposite sex, forgetting the
fact that men fall in love always, or used to in the days when they could
afford that luxury, with an ideal woman, or if not with an ideal woman,
with one whom they idealize. And at this same time the world is full of
doubts and questionings as to whether marriage is a failure. Have these
questionings anything to do with the increasing Realism of women, and a
consequent loss of ideals?

Of course the reader sees that the difficulty in considering this subject
is whether woman is to be estimated as a work of nature or of art. And
here comes in the everlasting question of what is the highest beauty, and
what is most to be desired. The Greek artists, it seems to be well
established, never used a model, as our artists almost invariably do, in
their plastic and pictorial creations. The antique Greek statues, or
their copies, which give us the highest conceptions of feminine charm and
manly beauty, were made after no woman, or man born of woman, but were
creations of the ideal raised to the highest conception by the passionate
love and long study of nature, but never by faithful copying of it. The
Romans copied the Greek art. The Greek in his best days created the
ideal figure, which we love to accept as nature. Generation after
generation the Greek learned to draw and learned to observe, until he was
able to transmute his knowledge into the forms of grace and beauty which
satisfy us as nature at her best; just as the novelist trains all his
powers by the observation of life until he is able to transmute all the
raw material into a creation of fiction which satisfies us. We may be
sure that if the Greek artist had employed the service of models in his
studio, his art would have been merely a passing phase in human history.
But as it is, the world has ever since been in love with his ideal woman,
and still believes in her possibility.

Now the young woman of today should not be deceived into the notion of a
preferable Realistic development because the novelist of today gets her
to sit to him as his model. This may be no certain indication that she
is either good art or good nature. Indeed she may be quite drifting away
from the ideal that a woman ought to aim at if we are to have a society
that is not always tending into a realistic vulgarity and commonplace.
It is perfectly true that a woman is her own excuse for being, and in a
way she is doing enough for the world by simply being a woman. It is
difficult to rouse her to any sense of her duty as a standard of
aspiration. And it is difficult to explain exactly what it is that she
is to do. If she asks if she is expected to be a model woman, the reply
must be that the world does not much hanker after what--is called the
"model woman." It seems to be more a matter of tendency than anything
else. Is she sagging towards Realism or rising towards Idealism? Is she
content to be the woman that some of the novelists, and some of the
painters also, say she is, or would she prefer to approach that ideal
which all the world loves? It is a question of standards.

It is natural that in these days, when the approved gospel is that it is
better to be dead than not to be Real, society should try to approach
nature by the way of the materialistically ignoble, and even go such a
pace of Realism as literature finds it difficult to keep up with; but it
is doubtful if the young woman will get around to any desirable state of
nature by this route. We may not be able to explain why servile
imitation of nature degrades art and degrades woman, but both deteriorate
without an ideal so high that there is no earthly model for it.
Would you like to marry, perhaps, a Greek statue? says the justly
contemptuous critic.

Not at all, at least not a Roman copy of one. But it would be better to
marry a woman who would rather be like a Greek statue than like some of
these figures, without even an idea for clothing, which are lying about
on green banks in our spring exhibitions.


Idleness seems to be the last accomplishment of civilization. To be idle
gracefully and contentedly and picturesquely is an art. It is one in
which the Americans, who do so many things well, do not excel. They have
made the excuse that they have not time, or, if they have leisure, that
their temperament and nervous organization do not permit it. This excuse
will pass for a while, for we are a new people, and probably we are more
highly and sensitively organized than any other nation--at least the
physiologists say so; but the excuse seems more and more inadequate as we
accumulate wealth, and consequently have leisure. We shall not criticise
the American colonies in Paris and Rome and Florence, and in other
Continental places where they congregate. They know whether they are
restless or contented, and what examples they set to the peoples who get
their ideas of republican simplicity and virtue from the Americans who
sojourn among them. They know whether with all their leisure they get
placidity of mind and the real rest which the older nations have learned
to enjoy. It may not be the most desirable thing for a human being to be
idle, but if he will be, he should be so in a creditable manner, and with
some enjoyment to himself. It is no slander to say that we in America
have not yet found out the secret of this. Perhaps we shall not until
our energies are spent and we are in a state of decay. At present we put
as much energy into our pleasure as into our work, for it is inbred in us
that laziness is a sin. This is the Puritan idea, and it must be said
for it that in our experience virtue and idleness are not commonly
companions. But this does not go to the bottom of the matter.

The Italians are industrious; they are compelled to be in order to pay
their taxes for the army and navy and get macaroni enough to live on.
But see what a long civilization has done for them. They have the manner
of laziness, they have the air of leisure, they have worn off the angular
corners of existence, and unconsciously their life is picturesque and
enjoyable. Those among them who have money take their pleasure simply
and with the least expense of physical energy. Those who have not money
do the same thing. This basis of existence is calm and unexaggerated;
life is reckoned by centimes, not by dollars. What an ideal place is
Venice! It is not only the most picturesque city in the world, rich in
all that art can invent to please the eye, but how calm it is! The
vivacity which entertains the traveler is all on the surface. The
nobleman in his palace if there be any palace that is not turned into a
hotel, or a magazine of curiosities, or a municipal office--can live on a
diet that would make an American workman strike, simply because he has
learned to float through life; and the laborer is equally happy on little
because he has learned to wait without much labor. The gliding, easy
motion of the gondola expresses the whole situation; and the gondolier
who with consummate skill urges his dreamy bark amid the throng and in
the tortuous canals for an hour or two, and then sleeps in the sun, is a
type of that rest in labor which we do not attain. What happiness there
is in a dish of polenta, or of a few fried fish, in a cup of coffee, and
in one of those apologies for cigars which the government furnishes, dear
at a cent--the cigar with a straw in it, as if it were a julep, which it
needs five minutes to ignite, and then will furnish occupation for a
whole evening! Is it a hard lot, that of the fishermen and the mariners
of the Adriatic? The lights are burning all night long in a cafe on the
Riva del Schiavoni, and the sailors and idlers of the shore sit there
jabbering and singing. and trying their voices in lusty hallooing till
the morning light begins to make the lagoon opalescent. The traveler who
lodges near cannot sleep, but no more can the sailors, who steal away in
the dawn, wafted by painted sails. In the heat of the day, when the fish
will not bite, comes the siesta. Why should the royal night be wasted in
slumber? The shore of the Riva, the Grand Canal, the islands, gleam with
twinkling lamps; the dark boats glide along with a star in the prow,
bearing youth and beauty and sin and ugliness, all alike softened by the
shadows; the electric lights from the shores and the huge steamers shoot
gleams on towers and facades; the moon wades among the fleecy clouds;
here and there a barge with colored globes of light carries a band of
singing men and women and players on the mandolin and the fiddle, and
from every side the songs of Italy, pathetic in their worn gayety, float
to the entranced ears of those who lean from balconies, or lounge in
gondolas and listen with hearts made a little heavy and wistful with so
much beauty.

Can any one float in such scenes and be so contentedly idle anywhere in
our happy land? Have we learned yet the simple art of easy enjoyment?
Can we buy it with money quickly, or is it a grace that comes only with
long civilization? Italy, for instance, is full of accumulated wealth,
of art, even of ostentation and display, and the new generation probably
have lost the power to conceive, if not the skill to execute, the great
works which excite our admiration. Nothing can be much more meretricious
than its modern art, when anything is produced that is not an exact copy
of something created when there was genius there. But in one respect the
Italians have entered into the fruits of the ages of trial and of
failure, and that, is the capacity of being idle with much money or with
none, and getting day by day their pay for the bother of living in this
world. It seems a difficult lesson for us to learn in country or city.
Alas! when we have learned it shall we not want to emigrate, as so many
of the Italians do? Some philosophers say that men were not created to
be happy. Perhaps they were not intended to be idle.


Is there any such thing as conversation? It is a delicate subject to
touch, because many people understand conversation to be talk; not the
exchange of ideas, but of words; and we would not like to say anything to
increase the flow of the latter. We read of times and salons in which
real conversation existed, held by men and women. Are they altogether in
the past? We believe that men do sometimes converse. Do women ever?
Perhaps so. In those hours sacred to the relaxation of undress and the
back hair, in the upper penetralia of the household, where two or three
or six are gathered together on and about the cushioned frame intended
for repose, do they converse, or indulge in that sort of chat from which
not one idea is carried away? No one reports, fortunately, and we do not
know. But do all the women like this method of spending hour after hour,
day after day-indeed, a lifetime? Is it invigorating, even restful?
Think of the talk this past summer, the rivers and oceans of it, on
piazzas and galleries in the warm evenings or the fresher mornings, in
private houses, on hotel verandas, in the shade of thousands of cottages
by the sea and in the hills! As you recall it, what was it all about?
Was the mind in a vapid condition after an evening of it? And there is
so much to read, and so much to think about, and the world is so
interesting, if you do think about it, and nearly every person has some
peculiarity of mind that would be worth study if you could only get at
it! It is really, we repeat, such an interesting world, and most people
get so little out of it. Now there is the conversation of hens, when the
hens are busy and not self-conscious; there is something fascinating
about it, because the imagination may invest it with a recondite and
spicy meaning; but the common talk of people! We infer sometimes that
the hens are not saying anything, because they do not read, and
consequently their minds are empty. And perhaps we are right. As to
conversation, there is no use in sending the bucket into the well when
the well is dry--it only makes a rattling of windlass and chain.
We do not wish to be understood to be an enemy of the light traffic of
human speech. Deliver us from the didactic and the everlastingly
improving style of thing! Conversation, in order to be good, and
intellectually inspiring, and spiritually restful, need not always be
serious. It must be alert and intelligent, and mean more by its
suggestions and allusions than is said. There is the light touch-and-go
play about topics more or less profound that is as agreeable as heat-
lightning in a sultry evening. Why may not a person express the whims
and vagaries of a lambent mind (if he can get a lambent mind) without
being hauled up short for it, and plunged into a heated dispute? In the
freedom of real conversation the mind throws out half-thoughts,
paradoxes, for which a man is not to be held strictly responsible to the
very roots of his being, and which need to be caught up and played with
in the same tentative spirit. The dispute and the hot argument are
usually the bane of conversation and the death of originality. We like
to express a notion, a fancy, without being called upon to defend it,
then and there, in all its possible consequences, as if it were to be an
article in a creed or a plank in a platform. Must we be always either
vapid or serious?

We have been obliged to take notice of the extraordinary tendency of
American women to cultivation, to the improvement of the mind, by means
of reading, clubs, and other intellectual exercises, and to acknowledge
that they are leaving the men behind; that is, the men not in the so-
called professions. Is this intellectualization beginning to show in the
conversation of women when they are together, say in the hours of
relaxation in the penetralia spoken of, or in general society? Is there
less talk about the fashion of dress, and the dearness or cheapness of
materials, and about servants, and the ways of the inchoate citizen
called the baby, and the infinitely little details of the private life of
other people? Is it true that if a group of men are talking, say about
politics, or robust business, or literature, and they are joined by women
(whose company is always welcome), the conversation is pretty sure to
take a lower mental plane, to become more personal, more frivolous,
accommodating itself to quite a different range? Do the well-read,
thoughtful women, however beautiful and brilliant and capable of the
gayest persiflage, prefer to talk with men, to listen to the conversation
of men, rather than to converse with or listen to their own sex? If this
is true, why is it? Women, as a rule, in "society" at any rate, have
more leisure than men. In the facilities and felicities of speech they
commonly excel men, and usually they have more of that vivacious dramatic
power which is called "setting out a thing to the life." With all these
advantages, and all the world open to them in newspapers and in books,
they ought to be the leaders and stimulators of the best conversation.
With them it should never drop down to the too-common flatness and
banality. Women have made this world one of the most beautiful places of
residence to be conceived. They might make it one of the most


It is the fashion for girls to be tall. This is much more than saying
that tall girls are the fashion. It means not only that the tall girl
has come in, but that girls are tall, and are becoming tall, because it
is the fashion, and because there is a demand for that sort of girl.
There is no hint of stoutness, indeed the willowy pattern is preferred,
but neither is leanness suggested; the women of the period have got hold
of the poet's idea, "tall and most divinely fair," and are living up to
it. Perhaps this change in fashion is more noticeable in England and on
the Continent than in America, but that may be because there is less room
for change in America, our girls being always of an aspiring turn. Very
marked the phenomenon is in England; on the street, at any concert or
reception, the number of tall girls is so large as to occasion remark,
especially among the young girls just coming into the conspicuousness of
womanhood. The tendency of the new generation is towards unusual height
and gracious slimness. The situation would be embarrassing to thousands
of men who have been too busy to think about growing upward, were it not
for the fact that the tall girl, who must be looked up to, is almost
invariably benignant, and bears her height with a sweet timidity that
disarms fear. Besides, the tall girl has now come on in such force that
confidence is infused into the growing army, and there is a sense of
support in this survival of the tallest that is very encouraging to the

Many theories have been put forward to account for this phenomenon. It
is known that delicate plants in dark places struggle up towards the
light in a frail slenderness, and it is said that in England, which seems
to have increasing cloudiness, and in the capital more and more months of
deeper darkness and blackness, it is natural that the British girl should
grow towards the light. But this is a fanciful view of the case, for it
cannot be proved that English men have proportionally increased their
stature. The English man has always seemed big to the Continental
peoples, partly because objects generally take on gigantic dimensions
when seen through a fog. Another theory, which has much more to commend
it, is that the increased height of women is due to the aesthetic
movement, which has now spent its force, but has left certain results,
especially in the change of the taste in colors. The woman of the
aesthetic artist was nearly always tall, usually willowy, not to say
undulating and serpentine. These forms of feminine loveliness and
commanding height have been for many years before the eyes of the women
of England in paintings and drawings, and it is unavoidable that this
pattern should not have its effect upon the new and plastic generation.
Never has there been another generation so open to new ideas; and if the
ideal of womanhood held up was that of length and gracious slenderness,
it would be very odd if women should not aspire to it. We know very well
the influence that the heroines of the novelists have had from time to
time upon the women of a given period. The heroine of Scott was, no
doubt, once common in society--the delicate creature who promptly fainted
on the reminiscence of the scent of a rose, but could stand any amount of
dragging by the hair through underground passages, and midnight rides on
lonely moors behind mailed and black-mantled knights, and a run or two of
hair-removing typhoid fever, and come out at the end of the story as
fresh as a daisy. She could not be found now, so changed are the
requirements of fiction. We may assume, too, that the full-blown
aesthetic girl of that recent period--the girl all soul and faded
harmonies--would be hard to find, but the fascination of the height and
slenderness of that girl remains something more than a tradition, and is,
no doubt, to some extent copied by the maiden just coming into her

Those who would belittle this matter may say that the appearance of which
we speak is due largely to the fashion of dress--the long unbroken lines
which add to the height and encourage the appearance of slenderness. But
this argument gives away the case. Why do women wear the present
fascinating gowns, in which the lithe figure is suggested in all its
womanly dignity? In order that they may appear to be tall. That is to
say, because it is the fashion to be tall; women born in the mode are
tall, and those caught in a hereditary shortness endeavor to conform to
the stature of the come and coming woman.

There is another theory, that must be put forward with some hesitation,
for the so-called emancipation of woman is a delicate subject to deal
with, for while all the sex doubtless feel the impulse of the new time,
there are still many who indignantly reject the implication in the
struggle for the rights of women. To say, therefore, that women are
becoming tall as a part of their outfit for taking the place of men in
this world would be to many an affront, so that this theory can only be
suggested. Yet probably physiology would bear us out in saying that the
truly emancipated woman, taking at last the place in affairs which men
have flown in the face of Providence by denying her, would be likely to
expand physically as well as mentally, and that as she is beginning to
look down upon man intellectually, she is likely to have a corresponding
physical standard.

Seriously, however, none of these theories are altogether satisfactory,
and we are inclined to seek, as is best in all cases, the simplest
explanation. Women are tall and becoming tall simply because it is the
fashion, and that statement never needs nor is capable of any
explanation. Awhile ago it was the fashion to be petite and arch; it is
now the fashion to be tall and gracious, and nothing more can be said
about it. Of course the reader, who is usually inclined to find the
facetious side of any grave topic, has already thought of the application
of the self-denying hymn, that man wants but little here below, and wants
that little long; but this may be only a passing sigh of the period. We
are far from expressing any preference for tall women over short women.
There are creative moods of the fancy when each seems the better. We can
only chronicle, but never create.


Many people regard the keeping of a diary as a meritorious occupation.
The young are urged to take up this cross; it is supposed to benefit
girls especially. Whether women should do it is to some minds not an
open question, although there is on record the case of the Frenchman who
tried to shoot himself when he heard that his wife was keeping a diary.
This intention of suicide may have arisen from the fear that his wife was
keeping a record of his own peccadilloes rather than of her own thoughts
and emotions. Or it may have been from the fear that she was putting
down those little conjugal remarks which the husband always dislikes to
have thrown up to him, and which a woman can usually quote accurately, it
may be for years, it may be forever, without the help of a diary. So we
can appreciate without approving the terror of the Frenchman at living on
and on in the same house with a growing diary. For it is not simply that
this little book of judgment is there in black and white, but that the
maker of it is increasing her power of minute observation and analytic
expression. In discussing the question whether a woman should keep a
diary it is understood that it is not a mere memorandum of events and
engagements, such as both men and women of business and affairs
necessarily keep, but the daily record which sets down feelings,
emotions, and impressions, and criticises people and records opinions.
But this is a question that applies to men as well as to women.

It has been assumed that the diary serves two good purposes: it is a
disciplinary exercise for the keeper of it, and perhaps a moral guide;
and it has great historical value. As to the first, it may be helpful to
order, method, discipline, and it may be an indulgence of spleen, whims,
and unwholesome criticism and conceit. The habit of saying right out
what you think of everybody is not a good one, and the record of such
opinions and impressions, while it is not so mischievous to the public as
talking may be, is harmful to the recorder. And when we come to the
historical value of the diary, we confess to a growing suspicion of it.
It is such a deadly weapon when it comes to light after the passage of
years. It has an authority which the spoken words of its keeper never
had. It is 'ex parte', and it cannot be cross-examined. The supposition
is that being contemporaneous with the events spoken of, it must be true,
and that it is an honest record. Now, as a matter of fact, we doubt if
people are any more honest as to themselves or others in a diary than out
of it; and rumors, reported facts, and impressions set down daily in the
heat and haste of the prejudicial hour are about as likely to be wrong as
right. Two diaries of the same events rarely agree. And in turning over
an old diary we never know what to allow for the personal equation. The
diary is greatly relied on by the writers of history, but it is doubtful
if there is any such liar in the world, even when the keeper of it is
honest. It is certain to be partisan, and more liable to be misinformed
than a newspaper, which exercises some care in view of immediate
publicity. The writer happens to know of two diaries which record, on
the testimony of eye-witnesses, the circumstances of the last hours of
Garfield, and they differ utterly in essential particulars. One of these
may turn up fifty years from now, and be accepted as true. An infinite
amount of gossip goes into diaries about men and women that would not
stand the test of a moment's contemporary publication. But by-and-by it
may all be used to smirch or brighten unjustly some one's character.
Suppose a man in the Army of the Potomac had recorded daily all his
opinions of men and events. Reading it over now, with more light and a
juster knowledge of character and of measures, is it not probable that he
would find it a tissue of misconceptions? Few things are actually what
they seem today; they are colored both by misapprehensions and by moods.
If a man writes a letter or makes report of an occurrence for immediate
publication, subject to universal criticism, there is some restraint on
him. In his private letter, or diary especially, he is apt to set down
what comes into his head at the moment, often without much effort at

We have been led to this disquisition into the fundamental nature of this
private record by the question put to us, whether it is a good plan for a
woman to keep a diary. Speaking generally, the diary has become a sort
of fetich, the authority of which ought to be overthrown. It is fearful
to think how our characters are probably being lied away by innumerable
pen scratches in secret repositories, which may some day come to light as
unimpeachable witnesses. The reader knows that he is not the sort of man
which the diarist jotted him down to be in a single interview. The diary
may be a good thing for self-education, if the keeper could insure its
destruction. The mental habit of diarizing may have some value, even
when it sets undue importance upon trifles. We confess that, never
having seen a woman's private diary (except those that have been
published), we do not share the popular impression as to their tenuity
implied in the question put to us. Taking it for granted that they are
full of noble thoughts and beautiful imaginings, we doubt whether the
time spent on them could not be better employed in acquiring knowledge or
taking exercise. For the diary forgotten and left to the next generation
may be as dangerous as dynamite.


The wisdom of our ancestors packed away in proverbial sayings may always
be a little suspected. We have a vague respect for a popular proverb, as
embodying folk-experience, and expressing not the wit of one, but the
common thought of a race. We accept the saying unquestioning, as a sort
of inspiration out of the air, true because nobody has challenged it for
ages, and probably for the same reason that we try to see the new moon
over our left shoulder. Very likely the musty saying was the product of
the average ignorance of an unenlightened time, and ought not to have the
respect of a scientific and traveled people. In fact it will be found
that a large proportion of the proverbial sayings which we glibly use are
fallacies based on a very limited experience of the world, and probably
were set afloat by the idiocy or prejudice of one person. To examine one
of them is enough for our present purpose.

"Whistling girls and crowing hens
Always come to some bad ends."

It would be interesting to know the origin of this proverb, because it is
still much relied on as evincing a deep knowledge of human nature, and as
an argument against change, that is to say, in this case, against
progress. It would seem to have been made by a man, conservative,
perhaps malevolent, who had no appreciation of a hen, and a
conservatively poor opinion of woman. His idea was to keep woman in her
place--a good idea when not carried too far--but he did not know what her
place is, and he wanted to put a sort of restraint upon her emancipation
by coupling her with an emancipated hen. He therefore launched this
shaft of ridicule, and got it to pass as an arrow of wisdom shot out of a
popular experience in remote ages.

In the first place, it is not true, and probably never was true even when
hens were at their lowest. We doubts its Sanscrit antiquity. It is
perhaps of Puritan origin, and rhymed in New England. It is false as to
the hen. A crowing hen was always an object of interest and distinction;
she was pointed out to visitors; the owner was proud of her
accomplishment, he was naturally likely to preserve her life, and
especially if she could lay. A hen that can lay and crow is a 'rara
avis'. And it should be parenthetically said here that the hen who can
crow and cannot lay is not a good example for woman. The crowing hen was
of more value than the silent hen, provided she crowed with discretion;
and she was likely to be a favorite, and not at all to come to some bad
end. Except, indeed, where the proverb tended to work its own
fulfillment. And this is the regrettable side of most proverbs of an
ill-nature, that they do help to work the evil they predict. Some
foolish boy, who had heard this proverb, and was sent out to the hen-coop
in the evening to slay for the Thanksgiving feast, thought he was a
justifiable little providence in wringing the neck of the crowing hen,
because it was proper (according to the saying) that she should come to
some bad end. And as years went on, and that kind of boy increased and
got to be a man, it became a fixed idea to kill the amusing, interesting,
spirited, emancipated hen, and naturally the barn-yard became tamer and
tamer, the production of crowing hens was discouraged (the wise old hens
laid no eggs with a crow in them, according to the well-known principle
of heredity), and the man who had in his youth exterminated the hen of
progress actually went about quoting that false couplet as an argument
against the higher education of woman.

As a matter of fact, also, the couplet is not true about woman; whether
it ought to be true is an ethical question that will not be considered
here. The whistling girl does not commonly come to a bad end. Quite as
often as any other girl she learns to whistle a cradle song, low and
sweet and charming, to the young voter in the cradle. She is a girl of
spirit, of independence of character, of dash and flavor; and as to lips,
why, you must have some sort of presentable lips to whistle; thin ones
will not. The whistling girl does not come to a bad end at all (if
marriage is still considered a good occupation), except a cloud may be
thrown upon her exuberant young life by this rascally proverb. Even if
she walks the lonely road of life, she has this advantage, that she can
whistle to keep her courage up. But in a larger sense, one that this
practical age can understand, it is not true that the whistling girl
comes to a bad end. Whistling pays. It has brought her money; it has
blown her name about the listening world. Scarcely has a non-whistling
woman been more famous. She has set aside the adage. She has done so
much towards the emancipation of her sex from the prejudice created by an
ill-natured proverb which never had root in fact.

But has the whistling woman come to stay? Is it well for woman to
whistle? Are the majority of women likely to be whistlers? These are
serious questions, not to be taken up in a light manner at the end of a
grave paper. Will woman ever learn to throw a stone? There it is. The
future is inscrutable. We only know that whereas they did not whistle
with approval, now they do; the prejudice of generations gradually melts
away. And woman's destiny is not linked with that of the hen, nor to be
controlled by a proverb--perhaps not by anything.


We have been remiss in not proposing a remedy for our present social and
economic condition. Looking backward, we see this. The scheme may not
be practical, any more than the Utopian plans that have been put forward,
but it is radical and interesting, and requires, as the other schemes do,
a total change in human nature (which may be a good thing to bring
about), and a general recasting of the conditions of life. This is and
should be no objection to a socialistic scheme. Surface measures will
not avail. The suggestion for a minor alleviation of inequality, which
seems to have been acted on, namely, that women should propose, has not
had the desired effect if it is true, as reported, that the eligible
young men are taking to the woods. The workings of such a measure are as
impossible to predict in advance as the operation of the McKinley tariff.
It might be well to legislate that people should be born equal (including
equal privileges of the sexes), but the practical difficulty is to keep
them equal. Life is wrong somehow. Some are born rich and some are born
poor, and this inequality makes misery, and then some lose their
possessions, which others get hold of, and that makes more misery. We
can put our fingers on the two great evils of life as it now is: the
first is poverty; and the second is infirmity, which is the accompaniment
of increasing years. Poverty, which is only the unequal distribution of
things desired, makes strife, and is the opportunity of lawyers; and
infirmity is the excuse for doctors. Think what the world would be
without lawyers and doctors!

We are all born young, and most of us are born poor. Youth is
delightful, but we are always getting away from it. How different it
would be if we were always going towards it! Poverty is unpleasant, and
the great struggle of life is to get rid of it; but it is the common
fortune that in proportion as wealth is attained the capacity of enjoying
it departs. It seems, therefore, that our life is wrong end first. The
remedy suggested is that men should be born rich and old. Instead of the
necessity of making a fortune, which is of less and less value as death
approaches, we should have only the privilege of spending it, and it
would have its natural end in the cradle, in which we should be rocked
into eternal sleep. Born old, one would, of course, inherit experience,
so that wealth could be made to contribute to happiness, and each day,
instead of lessening the natural powers and increasing infirmities, would
bring new vigor and capacity of enjoyment. It would be going from winter
to autumn, from autumn to summer, from summer to spring. The joy of a
life without care as to ways and means, and every morning refitted with
the pulsations of increasing youth, it is almost impossible to imagine.
Of course this scheme has difficulties on the face of it. The allotting
of the measure of wealth would not be difficult to the socialists,
because they would insist that every person should be born with an equal
amount of property. What this should be would depend upon the length of
life; and how should this be arrived at? The insurance companies might
agree, but no one else would admit that he belongs in the average.
Naturally the Biblical limit of threescore and ten suggests itself; but
human nature is very queer. With the plain fact before them that the
average life of man is less than thirty-four years, few would be willing,
if the choice were offered, to compromise on seventy. Everybody has a
hope of going beyond that, so that if seventy were proposed as the year
at birth, there would no doubt be as much dissatisfaction as there is at
the present loose arrangement. Science would step in, and demonstrate
that there is no reason why, with proper care of the system, it should
not run a hundred years. It is improbable, then, that the majority could
be induced to vote for the limit of seventy years, or to exchange the
exciting uncertainty of adding a little to the period which must be
accompanied by the weight of the grasshopper, for the certainty of only
seventy years in this much-abused world.

But suppose a limit to be agreed on, and the rich old man and the rich
old woman (never now too old to marry) to start on their career towards
youth and poverty. The imagination kindles at the idea. The money would
hold out just as long as life lasted, and though it would all be going
downhill, as it were, what a charming descent, without struggle, and with
only the lessening infirmities that belong to decreasing age! There
would be no second childhood, only the innocence and elasticity of the
first. It all seems very fair, but we must not forget that this is a
mortal world, and that it is liable to various accidents. Who, for
instance, could be sure that he would grow young gracefully? There would
be the constant need of fighting the hot tempers and impulses of youth,
growing more and more instead of less and less unreasonable. And then,
how many would reach youth? More than half, of course, would be cut off
in their prime, and be more and more liable to go as they fell back into
the pitfalls and errors of childhood. Would people grow young together
even as harmoniously as they grow old together? It would be a pretty
sight, that of the few who descended into the cradle together, but this
inversion of life would not escape the woes of mortality. And there are
other considerations, unless it should turn out that a universal tax on
land should absolutely change human nature. There are some who would be
as idle and spendthrift going towards youth as they now are going away
from it, and perhaps more, so that half the race on coming to immaturity
would be in child asylums. And then others who would be stingy and
greedy and avaricious, and not properly spend their allotted fortune.
And we should have the anomaly, which is so distasteful to the reformer
now, of rich babies. A few babies inordinately rich, and the rest in

Still, the plan has more to recommend it than most others for removing
poverty and equalizing conditions. We should all start rich, and the
dying off of those who would never attain youth would amply provide
fortunes for those born old. Crime would be less also; for while there
would, doubtless, be some old sinners, the criminal class, which is very
largely under thirty, would be much smaller than it is now. Juvenile
depravity would proportionally disappear, as not more people would reach
non-age than now reach over-age. And the great advantage of the scheme,
one that would indeed transform the world, is that women would always be
growing younger.


The "old soldier" is beginning to outline himself upon the public mind as
a distant character in American life. Literature has not yet got hold of
him, and perhaps his evolution is not far enough advanced to make him as
serviceable as the soldier of the Republic and the Empire, the relic of
the Old Guard, was to Hugo and Balzac, the trooper of Italy and Egypt,
the maimed hero of Borodino and Waterloo, who expected again the coming
of the Little Corporal. It takes time to develop a character, and to
throw the glamour of romance over what may be essentially commonplace. A
quarter of a century has not sufficed to separate the great body of the
surviving volunteers in the war for the Union from the body of American
citizens, notwithstanding the organization of the Grand Army of the
Republic, the encampments, the annual reunions, and the distinction of
pensions, and the segregation in Soldiers' Homes. The "old soldier"
slowly eliminates himself from the mass, and begins to take, and to make
us take, a romantic view of his career. There was one event in his life,
and his personality in it looms larger and larger as he recedes from it.
The heroic sacrifice of it does not diminish, as it should not, in our
estimation, and he helps us to keep glowing a lively sense of it. The
past centres about him and his great achievement, and the whole of life
is seen in the light of it. In his retreat in the Home, and in his
wandering from one Home to another, he ruminates on it, he talks of it;
he separates himself from the rest of mankind by a broad distinction, and
his point of view of life becomes as original as it is interesting. In
the Homes the battered veterans speak mainly of one thing; and in the
monotony of their spent lives develop whimseys and rights and wrongs,
patriotic ardors and criticisms on their singular fate, which are
original in their character in our society. It is in human nature to
like rest but not restriction, bounty but not charity, and the tired
heroes of the war grow restless, though every physical want is supplied.
They have a fancy that they would like to see again the homes of their
youth, the farmhouse in the hills, the cottage in the river valley, the
lonesome house on the wide prairie, the street that ran down to the wharf
where the fishing-smacks lay, to see again the friends whom they left
there, and perhaps to take up the occupations that were laid down when
they seized the musket in 1861. Alas! it is not their home anymore; the
friends are no longer there; and what chance is there of occupation for a
man who is now feeble in body and who has the habit of campaigning? This
generation has passed on to other things. It looks upon the hero as an
illustration in the story of the war, which it reads like history. The
veteran starts out from the shelter of the Home. One evening, towards
sunset, the comfortable citizen, taking the mild air on his piazza, sees
an interesting figure approach. Its dress is half military, half that of
the wanderer whose attention to his personal appearance is only

The veteran gives the military salute, he holds himself erect, almost too
erect, and his speech is voluble and florid. It is a delightful evening;
it seems to be a good growing-time; the country looks prosperous. He is
sorry to be any trouble or interruption, but the fact is--yes, he is on
his way to his old home in Vermont; it seems like he would like to taste
some home cooking again, and sit in the old orchard, and perhaps lay his
bones, what is left of them, in the burying-ground on the hill. He pulls
out his well-worn papers as he talks; there is the honorable discharge,
the permit of the Home, and the pension. Yes, Uncle Sam is generous; it
is the most generous government God ever made, and he would willingly
fight for it again. Thirty dollars a month, that is what he has; he is
not a beggar; he wants for nothing. But the pension is not payable till
the end of the month. It is entirely his own obligation, his own fault;
he can fight, but he cannot lie, and nobody is to blame but himself; but
last night he fell in with some old comrades at Southdown, and, well, you
know how it is. He had plenty of money when he left the Home, and he is
not asking for anything now, but if he had a few dollars for his railroad
fare to the next city, he could walk the rest of the way. Wounded?
Well, if I stood out here against the light you could just see through
me, that's all. Bullets? It's no use to try to get 'em out. But, sir,
I'm not complaining. It had to be done; the country had to be saved; and
I'd do it again if it were necessary. Had any hot fights? Sir, I was at
Gettysburg! The veteran straightens up, and his eyes flash as if he saw
again that sanguinary field. Off goes the citizen's hat. Children, come
out here; here is one of the soldiers of Gettysburg! Yes, sir; and this
knee--you see I can't bend it much--got stiffened at Chickamauga; and
this scratch here in the neck was from a bullet at Gaines Mill; and this
here, sir--thumping his chest--you notice I don't dare to cough much--
after the explosion of a shell at Petersburg I found myself lying on
my-back, and the only one of my squad who was not killed outright. Was
it the imagination of the citizen or of the soldier that gave the
impression that the hero had been in the forefront of every important
action of the war? Well, it doesn't matter much. The citizen was
sitting there under his own vine, the comfortable citizen of a free
republic, because of the wounds in this cheerful and imaginative old
wanderer. There, that is enough, sir, quite enough. I am no beggar.
I thought perhaps you had heard of the Ninth Vermont. Woods is my name
--Sergeant Woods. I trust some time, sir, I shall be in a position to
return the compliment. Good-evening, sir; God bless your honor! and
accept the blessing of an old soldier. And the dear old hero goes down
the darkening avenue, not so steady of bearing as when he withstood the
charge of Pickett on Cemetery Hill, and with the independence of the
American citizen who deserves well of his country, makes his way to the
nearest hospitable tavern.


To the northward of Hispaniola lies the island of Bimini. It may not be
one of the spice islands, but it grows the best ginger to be found in the
world. In it is a fair city, and beside the city a lofty mountain, at
the foot of which is a noble spring called the 'Fons Juventutis'. This
fountain has a sweet savor, as of all manner of spicery, and every hour
of the day the water changes its savor and its smell. Whoever drinks of
this well will be healed of whatever malady he has, and will seem always
young. It is not reported that women and men who drink of this fountain
will be always young, but that they will seem so, and probably to
themselves, which simply means, in our modern accuracy of language, that
they will feel young. This island has never been found. Many voyages
have been made in search of it in ships and in the imagination, and Liars
have said they have landed on it and drunk of the water, but they never
could guide any one else thither. In the credulous centuries when these
voyages were made, other islands were discovered, and a continent much
more important than Bimini; but these discoveries were a disappointment,
because they were not what the adventurers wanted. They did not
understand that they had found a new land in which the world should renew
its youth and begin a new career. In time the quest was given up, and
men regarded it as one of the delusions which came to an end in the
sixteenth century. In our day no one has tried to reach Bimini except
Heine. Our scientific period has a proper contempt for all such
superstitions. We now know that the 'Fons Juventutis' is in every man,
and that if actually juvenility cannot be renewed, the advance of age can
be arrested and the waste of tissues be prevented, and an uncalculated
length of earthly existence be secured, by the injection of some sort of
fluid into the system. The right fluid has not yet been discovered by
science, but millions of people thought that it had the other day, and
now confidently expect it. This credulity has a scientific basis, and
has no relation to the old absurd belief in Bimini. We thank goodness
that we do not live in a credulous age.

The world would be in a poor case indeed if it had not always before it
some ideal or millennial condition, some panacea, some transmutation of
base metals into gold, some philosopher's stone, some fountain of youth,
some process of turning charcoal into diamonds, some scheme for
eliminating evil. But it is worth mentioning that in the historical
evolution we have always got better things than we sought or imagined,
developments on a much grander scale. History is strewn with the wreck
of popular delusions, but always in place of them have come realizations
more astonishing than the wildest fancies of the dreamers. Florida was a
disappointment as a Bimini, so were the land of the Ohio, the land of the
Mississippi, the Dorado of the Pacific coast. But as the illusions,
pushed always westward, vanished in the light of common day, lo! a
continent gradually emerged, with millions of people animated by
conquering ambition of progress in freedom; an industrial continent,
covered with a network of steel, heated by steam, and lighted by
electricity. What a spectacle of youth on a grand scale is this!
Christopher Columbus had not the slightest conception of what he was
doing when he touched the button. But we are not satisfied. Quite as
far from being so as ever. The popular imagination runs a hard race with
any possible natural development. Being in possession of so much, we now
expect to travel in the air, to read news in the sending mind before it
is sent, to create force without cost, to be transported without time,
and to make everybody equal in fortune and happiness to everybody else by
act of Congress. Such confidence have we in the power of a "resolution"
of the people and by the people that it seems feasible to make women into
men, oblivious of the more important and imperative task that will then
arise of making men into women. Some of these expectations are only
Biminis of the present, but when they have vanished there will be a
social and industrial world quite beyond our present conceptions, no
doubt. In the article of woman, for instance, she may not become the
being that the convention expects, but there may appear a Woman of whom
all the Aspasias and Helens were only the faintest types. And although
no progress will take the conceit out of men, there may appear a Man so
amenable to ordinary reason that he will give up the notion that he can
lift himself up by his bootstraps, or make one grain of wheat two by
calling it two.

One of the Biminis that have always been looked for is an American
Literature. There was an impression that there must be such a thing
somewhere on a continent that has everything else. We gave the world
tobacco and the potato, perhaps the most important contributions to the
content and the fatness of the world made by any new country, and it was
a noble ambition to give it new styles of art and literature also. There
seems to have been an impression that a literature was something
indigenous or ready-made, like any other purely native product, not
needing any special period of cultivation or development, and that a
nation would be in a mortifying position without one, even before it
staked out its cities or built any roads. Captain John Smith, if he had
ever settled here and spread himself over the continent, as he was
capable of doing, might have taken the contract to furnish one, and we
may be sure that he would have left us nothing to desire in that
direction. But the vein of romance he opened was not followed up. Other
prospectings were made. Holes, so to speak, were dug in New England, and
in the middle South, and along the frontier, and such leads were found
that again and again the certainty arose that at last the real American
ore had been discovered. Meantime a certain process called civilization
went on, and certain ideas of breadth entered into our conceptions, and
ideas also of the historical development of the expression of thought in
the world, and with these a comprehension of what American really is, and
the difficulty of putting the contents of a bushel measure into a pint
cup. So, while we have been expecting the American Literature to come
out from some locality, neat and clean, like a nugget, or, to change the
figure, to bloom any day like a century-plant, in one striking, fragrant
expression of American life, behold something else has been preparing and
maturing, larger and more promising than our early anticipations. In
history, in biography, in science, in the essay, in the novel and story,
there are coming forth a hundred expressions of the hundred aspects of
American life; and they are also sung by the poets in notes as varied as
the migrating birds. The birds perhaps have the best of it thus far, but
the bird is limited to a small range of performances while he shifts his
singing-boughs through the climates of the continent, whereas the poet,
though a little inclined to mistake aspiration for inspiration, and
vagueness of longing for subtlety, is experimenting in a most hopeful
manner. And all these writers, while perhaps not consciously American or
consciously seeking to do more than their best in their several ways, are
animated by the free spirit of inquiry and expression that belongs to an
independent nation, and so our literature is coming to have a stamp of
its own that is unlike any other national stamp. And it will have this
stamp more authentically and be clearer and stronger as we drop the self-
consciousness of the necessity of being American.


Here is June again! It never was more welcome in these Northern
latitudes. It seems a pity that such a month cannot be twice as long.
It has been the pet of the poets, but it is not spoiled, and is just as
full of enchantment as ever. The secret of this is that it is the month
of both hope and fruition. It is the girl of eighteen, standing with all
her charms on the eve of womanhood, in the dress and temperament of
spring. And the beauty of it is that almost every woman is young, if
ever she were young, in June. For her the roses bloom, and the red
clover. It is a pity the month is so short. It is as full of vigor as
of beauty. The energy of the year is not yet spent; indeed, the world is
opening on all sides; the school-girl is about to graduate into liberty;
and the young man is panting to kick or row his way into female adoration
and general notoriety. The young men have made no mistake about the kind
of education that is popular with women. The women like prowess and the
manly virtues of pluck and endurance. The world has not changed in this
respect. It was so with the Greeks; it was so when youth rode in
tournaments and unhorsed each other for the love of a lady. June is the
knightly month. On many a field of gold and green the heroes will kick
their way into fame; and bands of young women, in white, with their
diplomas in their hands, star-eyed mathematicians and linguists, will
come out to smile upon the victors in that exhibition of strength that
women most admire. No, the world is not decaying or losing its
juvenility. The motto still is, "Love, and may the best man win!" How
jocund and immortal is woman! Now, in a hundred schools and colleges,
will stand up the solemn, well-intentioned man before a row of pretty
girls, and tell them about Womanhood and its Duties, and they will listen
just as shyly as if they were getting news, and needed to be instructed
by a man on a subject which has engaged their entire attention since they
were five years old. In the light of science and experience the conceit
of men is something curious. And in June! the most blossoming, riant,
feminine time of the year. The month itself is a liberal education to
him who is not insensible to beauty and the strong sweet promise of life.
The streams run clear then, as they do not in April; the sky is high and
transparent; the world seems so large and fresh and inviting. Our
houses, which six months in the year in these latitudes are
fortifications of defense, are open now, and the breath of life flows
through them. Even over the city the sky is benign, and all the country
is a heavenly exhibition. May was sweet and capricious. This is the
maidenhood deliciousness of the year. If you were to bisect the heart of
a true poet, you would find written therein JUNE.


By Charles Dudley Warner




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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