The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Fly Leaf, No. 1, Vol. 1, December 1895

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Title: The Fly Leaf, No. 1, Vol. 1, December 1895

Author: Various

Editor: Walter Blackburn Harte

Release date: June 1, 2020 [eBook #62296]

Language: English

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The Fly Leaf

A Pamphlet Periodical of
the New—the New Man,
New Woman, New Ideas,
Whimsies and Things.

Conducted by Walter Blackburn Harte.

Published Monthly by the Fly Leaf Publishing Co.
Subscription One Dollar a Year. Single Copies 10
Cents. December, 1895. Number One.

The Fly Leaf.

A Pamphlet Periodical of the New—the
new man, new woman, new ideas,
whimsies and things. Conducted by
Walter Blackburn Harte.

Published monthly. Single copies 10 cents; subscription, $1.00 a year. Subscriptions to be made payable to W. B. Harte, 269 St. Botolph Street, Boston, Mass. Subscriptions may be left with newsdealers, or sent direct to the publisher.

Business communications should be addressed simply W. B. Harte, 269 St. Botolph Street, Boston. All matter intended for publication should be sent to same address. All MSS. must be accompanied by properly stamped addressed envelope, and those found unavailable will be promptly returned. Everything will be fairly considered, according to the requirements of the Fly Leaf. Unknown writers of ability will be welcomed. All articles and sketches must be short and piquant—not exceeding 1200 or 1500 words.

Entered at the Boston Post Office as second class mail matter.

Copyright, 1895, by W. B. Harte,

The trade supplied by the New England News Company.



No. 1. December, 1895. Vol. 1.


Of course the most important event of the month in this favored part of the world is the unheralded advent of such a robust youngster as the Fly Leaf. Oh yes, thank you, Mrs. Grundy, we are doing very well indeed—a very healthy and vigorous infant and a favorite already; and we may be able to show a very pretty set of teeth in a month or two, if occasion should demand. Some of our distinguished contemporaries will perceive the delicacy of this metaphor; albeit the babe is quite good-natured.

And now a few words about the aims and purposes of the Fly Leaf will be in order—and the incidental commentary may be found to be equally interesting. For the Fly Leaf, although but the bantling of yesterday, has been nursed in the lap of harsh experience, and is at least as wise as some drivelling and decrepit contemporaries it finds lagging superfluous on the stage.

It is true that the field of contemporary journalism is already fairly well stocked with various periodicals, of various shades of unprovoked domesticity, and innocuous intention in the way of[2] imparting that miscellaneous misinformation, which is the mental stock-in-trade of the millions everywhere, and put into print day after day, is the most effective bar to tolerance and growth and hospitality of thought. But there is plenty of room for the Fly Leaf. These highly respectable publications are all competing with each other, and reaping the rich rewards that are the portion of those who have invested their capital in the impossible virtues and spotless innocence of the Young Person. They are all reported to be very prosperous, and we cannot bring ourselves to believe so highly of human nature in the bulk as to doubt the truth of their returns.

But the Fly Leaf will occupy a field that all these periodicals regard with the suspicion of conservatism. It will not impinge on their field, and they cannot by any possibility intrench upon its. For it is a magazine of the New, the Modern, the Young Man, the Young Woman, Today and its stirring, probing, fantastical spirit.

With the immense reading public that exists in this land of popular education and enlightenment—a public which expands every year, as generation after generation takes its place in the ranks of life—there is room for all sorts of periodicals; and instead of these various periodicals being in rivalry, they actually raise up new[3] readers for each other. Even the old fogy magazines have helped to prepare the way for honest bubbling thought and fancy and humor. They have unwittingly and unwillingly educated their readers for the Fly Leaf. The more literature is cultivated in America—the more writers with fresh opinions and experiences and ideas increase—the more readers there will be to encourage the treatment of ever new and wider aspects of the complex life of this vast and complex aggregation of people.

In the pages of these respectable domestic periodicals, old-fashioned folk, who lived before thought was let loose in the English tongue among respectable, law-abiding people, and who linger on to the confusion of poetry and new ideas and new interests, can still doze over profound articles on “How to Cook a Beefsteak” and fiction that has even less relevance to the comedy and tragedy of real modern life. But all inspiring literature is drenched in the spirit and vigor of Youth—even though the writers may be only belated boys. It is the New in eternal nature that entrances the imaginations of thinkers and poets. The day is coming when the periodicals now devoted to the dissemination of the platitudes and ideas of two or three generations ago will have to awaken to the fact that the Young Man and the Young Woman of this[4] era demand the heart of life in their literature, or they will be compelled to give way to bolder spirits, such as are now gathering strength in every modern literature. Already the tide has set in. Hence the Fly Leaf.

The Fly Leaf belongs to this end of the century. It is essentially modern. It does not look to the future, however, with any affected fin de siecle weariness or ennui, but with the hopefulness and stirring courage of youth. It does not aim to be Decadent, or pin its faith to any particular Ism; although it will always be hospitable to art and beauty and truth from any quarter.

The Editor and his coadjutors are of the new school of younger writers, and they aim to unite free sincere thought with humor and fantastic whimsies and imagination; to be serious and amusing; earnest and honest; but never dull. The underlying purpose and inspiration of our efforts will be to strike this Modern note and awaken this broader Modern spirit, which marks the literature of our era off from all the ancient thought and literature of the world.

The Fly Leaf will deal with the Here and Now, with the aims and ideals of the Young Man and the Young Woman, with the drift and tendencies of American social and literary thought. It will embody the New Spirit of the[5] age that is moving the literature of all the world, but it will be distinctively an American periodical.

The Fly Leaf hopes that in this struggle for the recognition of this broader spirit in criticism and the material of literature, and for the encouragement of American writers of ability, it will receive the cordial support of the younger generation of readers throughout the country.


The latest development of the new mysticism, or symbolism, or impressionism, which first came to us from the Continent, has just reached the Editor of the Fly Leaf from the pen of an old friend.

It appears that my friend had been reading Maurice Maeterlinck’s “The Blind” and “The Seven Princesses,” and he had come to the conclusion that a painful poverty of ideas was palpably wrapped up in a barren iteration of half meaningless and half ludicrous phrases. He then turned to Stephen Crane’s recently published “Black Riders,” thinking that symbolism might be a little more coherent and comprehensible in the alembic of the colder and clearer Anglo-Saxon intellect and imagination. He had[6] heard Crane’s impressionistic book of rhythms spoken of in the inner circles of the New York and Boston literary world as a collection of startling psychological pictures—the Heaven and Hell of the human soul by flashlight. The Boozy Prophet, Crane has been called by a certain eminent critic—and there’s invitation to human nature in such a piquant characterization.

But, for a long while, he labored in Crane’s pages, without discovering the secret flame of spiritual insight that others had spoken of so confidently, and he began to suspect that the profundity which had allured so many minds was simply the fatal lure of the weirdly incomprehensible, which is the inspiration of a good many schools of art and new religions. He had looked for a burst of spiritual light that should spur his tired imagination to renewed efforts in setting forth the superior qualities of a certain brand of coal tar soap which was the inspiration of his Muse for so much a week. He sank into the rocker by the fire, and fell into a mood of despondent reminiscence, weaving all the sad strands of his life into haunting fancies. Then, as he says in his letter, a change suddenly came over him, and he sprang up feeling oppressed and dizzy with a flood of crimson thoughts that inspired his brain.—Ed.

[7]Here is his account of what happened.

There is something irresistible about this new mysticism in poetry, which those who have not pondered over its potent fascinations cannot understand. It seizes upon the mind suddenly and without warning. For years all my dreams of literary achievement and fame had lain buried, and as I thought, a little sadly, dead—strangled by cruel circumstance and devoured by an ever increasing family. I had become completely reconciled to writing on tar soap and other commodities. But all of a sudden my thoughts seemed to plunge into an abyss of mystical yearnings after the impossible and infinite, and then I recalled some of Crane’s verses with a new and vivid realization of their photographic fidelity to perplexity of mind. Then, to my amazement, I felt the divine afflatus rise overpoweringly within me, and for the first time in my life I produced two lines which rhymed. They ran as follows:

A goblin hung on to the horn of the moon
A-singing a love song composed by a coon.

I had never performed such a feat as this in my whole life before, for even in my hours of transcendent ambition I had recognized the essentially prosaic bent of my mind. I had always expected to be a great prose writer, and I had[8] felt a rather indulgent condescension toward contemporary poets—especially those of my acquaintance. I used to think prose was the only vehicle of modern thought, and that all the great poets were dead. But when a man finds himself beginning to lisp in poetry at a belated age, his views on the significance of modern poetry are apt to undergo some important modification.

I thought this couplet a very fair beginning; but no well rounded thought would come that had any relevance to the goblin, the moon or the love song. So I leave the couplet to stand by itself as a picture, suggestive of the fact that ambition may miss its mark, but a love song will surely live in some heart. My next attempt—for I was on fire with symbolic rhapsody—was a little more successful. I submit it without comment. The lesson is so obvious.

I saw a bleeding head grinning,
It grinned at me; I grinned at it,
In fact, we both grinned irreverently.
But the smiling sun shone on!

I find the longer one delves in mystic poetry the deeper philosophical problems one can sound in a very few poignant flashes of symbolic description. Here is one of my happiest efforts:


As my worn soul lay wriggling in the dust,
I cried aloud to God in indignation
That he had so mistreated me;
But God only laughed, until He’d like to bust
And pointed out that dirt was all creation.

I turned off a number of other things, quite as profound and fantastical, and I find that in mystical poetry the Deity lends Himself to picturesque treatment a good deal more readily than any other person or subject of immediate and contemporary interest. So that in this way it leads the mind of the masses away from the frivolities of the hour to the larger considerations of life and destiny, and chastens folly with thoughts of the over-ruling immutable providence that is too often forgotten in the bustling cities of civilization.

I send you only one more piece, to which I have given the dignity of a title. It is “The Dissatisfactions of Luxury,” and is in two stanzas:

I heard a man mumbling in the horrid silence of the night.
He was chaffering aloud with the good God;
But God in the darkness vouchsafed no sign.
And I asked him, scoffing, what he desired of the Omnipotent.
“I am rich, I am Plutus,” answered he, angrily,
“And I am bargaining for the moon.”
“And why do you want it?” asked I in amaze.
“Because I am tired of all my other toys.”
“And the price?” asked I, scoffing, for I bore the badge of Lazarus.
“Untold millions, heaped up to Heaven’s gate.”
“Fool!” I cried in bitter derision;
“Offer the good God your corrupt soul.”

I can make affidavit I never wrote a line of poetry before in my life, and so I am sorely troubled at this writing. This is a crisis in my career. I do not know whether to continue in my employment as a writer of soap and medicine “ads,” or to devote myself wholly to the service of the Muses. The question is, am I a genius, or is this new mystic poetry, which is so uplifting and inspiring, merely some delusive imposture of bubbling verbiage?

Jonathan Penn.


The advent of the Yellow Girl—the mad, fantastic siren who is beginning to haunt the hoardings and our dreams—is calling forth a good deal of an outcry among those who hold the cure of morals in the English public press. It is rather a difficult undertaking to attempt to import a ray or two of cheer and fantasy into the gloom and drab of English life, but some of the[11] English artists, touched with the spirit of the age, have had the audacity to import the Yellow Girl from Paris. There she is—on every hoarding and bare wall a gleam of light and color and deviltry, under those dull gray skies, that must awaken a flash of fantasy here and there in some toil-worn heart in the crowd, and cheer some fog born pessimists who would fain forget the necessities and narrowness of their drab existence. Instead of the old monotonous clumsy pictures and unescapable rivers of hideous black and white catch words, that seemed to emphasize the limited horizon and freedom of the millions bound to spend their whole lives in the great cities, there are ten thousand variations of the Eternal Feminine in her latest glamor of gold and yellow, and even under the pall of a London sky, the very walls open out into the land of Fantasia.

But the moralists are shocked, and they are fearful for the future intellectual and moral stability of England, simply because the Yellow Girl is the embodiment of an artist’s dream of the modern Circe—a reminiscence of the Bacchantic dreams that used to fill the poets’ heads in the old days, before they were all become so very respectable. It is the artist who now puts a little diversion and unreal distraction from the invading ugliness and melancholy of modern[12] metropolitan life into the passing current of our fancies. The poets used to serve this purpose, but they are all so anxious to stand well with Mrs. Grundy nowadays, whereas Mrs. Grundy and the artists have never really arrived at any amicable understanding. Old England and civilization are in no danger from the Yellow Girl.

The moralists, unluckily, have no sense of humor, and so they fail to perceive that the masses accept the Yellow Girl as an unreal fantastic abstraction without any sort of relevance to the reality of life, which yet stirs the imagination and puts a little splash of fitful joy into reality.

A writer in one of the leading English journals assails the Yellow Girl in a tremendous tirade, that shows the English intellectual incapacity for appreciation of the light and good humored caricature of the superficial aspects of life, which, by exaggeration, puts the permanent and beautiful things of life into their true proportions and tempers sanity of thought with a gleam of insight into the fantastic range of human nature that lies always just below the drab surface of the show of things. The English mind only seems to understand the coarse and brutal caricature of Hogarth, with its savage insistence upon a moral. Hogarth was too great an artist and observer, however, not to[13] have enjoyed and made capital of the Yellow Girl himself, if he were alive today. The caricature of today is less obvious, and we may thank our stars it is. The moralists, like the poor, we have always with us, and they make modern life one perpetual din that leaves us no time for thought, meditation or merriment. We should be grateful that the hoarding places do not assail us at every turn with the sort of caricature that bites into the heart and soul. There is quite enough sadness in life in the all absorbing struggle for existence, and I think that the Yellow Girl is one of those Providential gifts that keep human life sweet and sane in the stress of the heartless strife for bread and riches. She is the creation of the law of compensation that gives us love and poetry, dreams and religion, and every other refuge from life. The moralists and the realists and the rest of them who would forever pin our minds in the narrow and sordid round of reality would drive us all to madness if they had their way. The fantasy of art and poetry keep life balanced and sane. Human nature requires this outlet from the horrid nightmare of sordid sorrow it has created in civilization. The so-called mad poets and unhinged artists give us that distraction from ourselves and our monomaniac absorption in money-making that saves the world from becoming one immense lunatic asylum.

[14]The English moralist describes the Yellow Girl in somewhat of the fierce contumely of an ancient Hebrew prophet—but the Yellow Girl is not really to be spoken of in the same breath with Ashtaroth. She is but the phantom of dreams that pictured or unpictured lives ever in the heart of youth. But she does not rule life as did Aphrodite. The moralists should remember that youth and sorrow must have their dreams. And all the commonplace virtues of domesticity are fed upon them. The English writer bemoans the decadence of soberness in life in this fashion:

“The growth of modern life is in great measure the Parisianising of the civilized world. The worship of the senses is insensibly taking hold on the world, and so in the land of Milton and the Martyrs is set up the flaunting sign of the growing worship, this hair-brained comedienne—the Yellow Girl. Bare armed, bare throated, great hatted, with parasol a-kimbo, with flapping gown of gold, and snakey boa bristling in the breeze, with tripping toes a la Chinoise, with waspy waist, with painted cheeks and sparkling, wine-fed eyes, and a monkey grin of daftest daftness—there flaunts the Yellow Girl, the she Baal, the new born goddess of Today, laughing the amazed to scorn. She is the Spirit of the Age—Circe herself again—Venus in a Regatta gown, the Devil in petticoats, as he always was.”

[15]This is strong as well as picturesque. But the truth is that the Yellow Girl puts a splash of color into the dulness of city life, with its endless bricks and placards and blank walls, and come upon in a sudden turning her gleaming, impish eyes remind us that it is our own fault if we take life too sadly, for the spirit of fantasy and joy lurks forever in nature and life. As for our morals—they are less safe with drab folk than they are with the Yellow Girl, who simply reminds us that Pan rules in modern life as much as in the olden days.

Ben Franklin, Jr.


The Americans are the most curious people since the Athenians.

Our big American periodicals buy their “great features” by contracting with the busy bees of the London literary world, for so many thousands of words before there are even ideas to be put into words. It is a way of encouraging literature which destroys the personality that is the soul of literature. It develops the taste of readers of literature by strangling all the original thinkers and writers who may spring up here in America. These periodicals aim simply to put before[16] the public a bill of well known names—which usually belong to some of the busiest, most slip-shod and worthless writers of our time. But genius two thousand miles away has twice the potent fascination of genius that lives in Boston or Hoboken. They command the services of all the writers of England and the Continent who are on the topmost wave of the hour’s popularity, and whose names and achievements are viewed in this country through a rosy and delusive glamor of European reputation that effectually silences all criticism. If English romancers cost such a pretty penny, surely no obscure American critic or man of letters will dare to be so captious as to declare that at least half the literature made in England for this appreciative American people is palpable balderdash, wholly out of tune with the large democratic spirit of our age.

Of course we are not going to deny the abilities of the greatest European writers and artists of the day. That would be too absurd; and we thank the good God that a proper sense of humor is one of the unfailing elements of good nature, good taste and charm that our readers may always count upon finding in the Fly Leaf. In some cases, they are men of the finest genius, who would grace the literature of any era; and it will never be the province of the Fly Leaf[17] to decry men who have honestly won their laurels.

But we have particularly in mind some of the mere industrious mechanics of letters, who build their domestic and sanguinary romances after the pattern desired by the exemplary publishers, who are most romantic for the dollar’s sake. And the publishers have somehow become invested with the onerous charge of the world’s morality, and insist that we poor critics shall be driven into crime and immorality by sheer intolerable dulness, and not by any potent allurements of the sort employed by some of the delightfully audacious French romancers. If we must make a choice between the female theological novelist of the Humphrey Ward stripe and Catulle Mendes, we prefer to be debauched morally rather than mentally.

In the case of these eminently successful writers who are so liberally encouraged to save us the trouble of producing a native literature peculiar to the soil and conditions of life and thought here, it is not too much to say that the genius is so excellently and artistically simulated by ingenious puffery, that the average American reader, gobbling up his culture and luncheon in one frantic breath, does not stop to inquire whether this London hall mark is genuine or fraudulent.

[18]It is not generally known, or even suspected, in this land of guileless innocence, outside “the Trade” and journalism, that a good many British authors flourish in American literature as full fledged masters of the Yellow-jacket, who are very much more famous in this country than they are at home. In fact, a crowd of English mediocrities, of no more significance in their Grub-street than the most ordinary denizen of our own Grub Street is here, are received by our critics and public as writers of the first order of merit. They flood the American newspapers and magazines from Portland, Maine, to San Francisco, until there is actually no sort of opening left to the men and women who are trying, under the most discouraging circumstances, to produce an American literature.

This is due largely to the adroit exploitation of the literary syndicates, and partly due to the apathy and timorousness of the American reading public, that is almost afraid to recognize American authors without the endorsation of the London press. And the English critics damn all American writers on principle.

But the magazine publishers are largely responsible, as they set the pace in Anglo-mania in literature; and today about the only circumstance that is peculiarly American in American periodical literature is this: the copyright law[19] obliges the publishers to have the typography and printing done in this country. The literature is all made in Great Britain, because there is nothing interesting to write about in America and God does not allow genius to sprout here!

But a stir is beginning to be felt among the younger people in every city and state of this country, and the Young Man and the Young Woman—as entirely distinct from “The Young Person”—of contemporary America, are beginning to want to see this life here at our doors put into literature, and to read poetry and romance through eyes in sympathy with modern life. It will, therefore, be one of the principal aims of the Fly Leaf to foster and encourage this new spirit of independence and self-reliance and faith in the common life and beauty of this country. There are men and women in America who have something to say, too.

We protest that the periodicals, ostensibly appealing to Americans, should deal with the life and interests here, and should mirror American literary life and thought. How else are we to foster a literature here? The periodical world is the trial arena for the men who may be the giants of thought and poetry in a few years. But no arena, no circus; no audience, no gladiators. Poets and romancers are not produced when public apathy drives all the writers into[20] clerking, or advertisement-writing or journalism. America is filled with literary talent, and yet a birch broom is more to be depended upon than the pen for mere bread, for the American market is monopolized by aliens.

We are devoured by a plague of locusts.


In the gloom of the sunless November afternoon the ordinary solemnity of the old church seemed palpably increased by an atmosphere of unusual peace and mystery that gave sorrow its solace in a sense of the latent and inevitable sadness of all mortal life.

From one or two of the confessional boxes there arose a confused murmur of voices, and under one of the galleries, where the great fantastic shadows were rather increased than diminished by a flare of gaslight, a nun was drilling a bevy of demure little maidens in their catechism. And every now and again the subdued chords of the organ rose into a joyous peal and thrilled and dominated the drowsy, monotonous sibilant murmur of prayer and clear treble responses of the children. Then in the hush the muffled sounds of praying and moving women seemed to intensify the stillness that filled the[21] dome and nave, and a sense of isolation in the midst of life crept over the spirit of one touched with the human pathos of the scene.

Occasionally, however, one of the low, narrow doors of the main entrance was held open for a few moments, and the rumble of the traffic in the crowded streets without surged in with a music of its own, and the nearness of the whirlpool of human destiny swept through the minds of many who would fain put the world out of their thoughts and lives and find a refuge for all sorrow in the love of God. Unburdened hearts thus suddenly invaded by the chill mockery of reality sought to drown the reawakened memory of life’s human web of fate in a fresh abandonment to all their deepest sorrows and unutterable hopes in the silence of God’s House. Here they would forget the fierce turmoil of the world, and acknowledge to God all the anguish of thoughts and soul that none dare reveal to their fellows. But there is no sanctuary in the world for the soul of man so sacred that the irony of life cannot enter.

At the chancel steps the form of a woman was bent in an attitude of prostrate prayer—in an oblivious abandonment of everything but the passion in her soul, so entirely unusual in a conventional religious assembly in our time, that several eyes were directed toward her. A[22] gray and venerable father who was passing through the church observed her, and hesitated for a moment whether he should go and say a word of comfort to her. But as a sob shook her frame he murmured to himself, “She is in the hands of God and He will restore,” and with a little sigh passed on. This was a very poor parish. The good father was used to pitiable scenes and the prayers of those whose only friend in all the world was God—and even so the priest had to admit that life was sad.

The woman was oblivious or indifferent to all that passed about her. Her face was buried in her hands, clenched together in anguish, and the sobs that rose and choked her utterance and swept conscious thought into paroxysms of inarticulate despair, showed how intensely she suffered and hoped and doubted. There was no serenity, no calm acquiescence in her prayer—it was all revolt and demand, and in the presence of the Host at God’s altar she doubted.

She had purposely withdrawn from the little groups of women gathered together in their devotions, and when the door opened and the noise of the street clashed for a moment with the harmony of prayer and the low tide of flutey music from the organ loft, she shrank closer to the altar railing. The stir of life without struck a chill into her heart, and all the fervor of her hopes died within her.

[23]For a few moments her lips were compressed in the silent anguish that benumbs the mind and racks the body in every nerve and fibre. She almost collapsed inertly on the steps. Then the loathing of life that had possessed her as she had threaded her way through the narrow, sordid streets returned with all its dread insistence of inconquerable morbid thought. “So long as men are what they are,” she said under her breath, despairingly, “God cannot be good,” and she drew herself up with dry eyes and haggard face, and mechanically crossing herself as she gained her feet, she turned to leave the church without another word.

She tottered slowly and half blindly down the aisle and only reached the darkened vestibule with a great effort and several stops on the way. Putting her hand to the heavy, leathern door, she found herself too feeble to move it. She leaned wearily against the wainscot and waited. No one came. Then, moved with the petulance of passionate despair, she prayed in her heart, “Oh, God, let me out of thy House since thou wilt not answer my prayers.”

It was now twilight, and she recalled the flaunting horrors and misery of the squalid streets of the quarter, and a feeling of revulsion swept over her. After all, she and her husband had only God in all the world to look to for[24] help and comfort under the burdens of life; for even the knowledge of misery and sorrow does not teach men love and pity. And in the cruel world she only dared to be human with God.

She steadied herself against the wall, her eyes dimmed with tears, and her soul filled with a great longing to pour out her repentance, and again ask the boon that haunted her troubled dreams as well as her waking thoughts.

She stumbled into one of the nearest pews, and falling upon her knees she repeated mentally, with her busy thoughts otherwhere, one of the prayers of the regular service, and then a great cry arose in her soul, and she wailed the prayer that monopolized her heart and mind day and night, and in or out of church was always being prayed in all her life.

“Oh, Lord God, we are utterly alone and bereft in the world, save as Thy presence is near to comfort us. I ask and pray for only one thing—for the life and strength of my poor husband, who is as Thou knowest wasting at death’s door, and in our misery I can do nothing to save him, nothing to alleviate his sufferings. Oh, God, I have given Thee this day, to make my special prayer—and a day is so much to the poor, whose bread must be won somehow every day. Oh, dear Lord, in mercy hear me. There is no pity, no mercy, no compassion[25] among men, for they live only for gold though they bring their prayers to Thee. Only Thou, the living truth and God art left to our hope, and I am here at thy altar to claim the gift of life Thou hast promised in giving life. Abandoned and despised, denied and starved by men, I come to Thee, in our dire extremity, and ask this boon of life of Thy omnipotent arm.”

And so she prayed with all the fervor of her overwrought spirit, until the dusk reminded her of the many hours she had been absent from the sick man in the attic they called home.

As she was about to cross her own threshold, a hand was laid upon her shoulder in the darkness, and a voice filled with a love and tenderness she had never heard in any human speech, said, softly:

“What ails thee?”

She could see nothing, but her soul was grown desperate, and she answered, without fear, “I am troubled for my husband, for his life is ebbing away, and the miseries we suffer. I pray only for him, but God does not answer my prayers.”

“And do you pray only for your husband?”

“Yes, we are all alone in the world, and there are none who care for us, or do for us, or pity us. We have only God.”

[26]“Then pray for all the world and all mankind, and perhaps God will hear your prayer.”

Then the sorrowing soul knew that she too was not without sin, and that out of the House of God she had met the angel of the Lord.

Walter Blackburn Harte.


Just received a book for review, an author’s complimentary copy, from one of my friends, one of the finest hearted, most beautiful natured men in the world. This is one of the saddest ironies of life. It is just such a book as I wish my enemy had written.

The New Woman, who is really new and not a mere simulacrum of the old fetish masquerading in borrowed plumage, carries a copy of the Fly Leaf in the pocket of her bloomers; for the editor of the Fly Leaf is a New Woman’s man, and distinctly prefers her to her grandmother.

This is worth the attention of young people just graduating from our schools and colleges and entering upon the sad and serious business of life, as it will put them in the path of success quicker than all the wisdom of Aristotle and[27] Plato—and I say this, who spawned it. One can break all the ten commandments upon a technicality.

A wink is much more innocent than a blush.

One of the tragedies of old fogyism is the wit and wisdom of youth. But youth has its little ironies, and the longevity of old fogeyism is one of them.

The Humphrey Ward nightmare is stalking through the land again already. It is evident this female survival of the Inquisition has awakened to the glorious possibilities of the American market, and in future we may expect to meet Marcella and the whole string of British boobies that she has imported (they did not need creating) into fiction at every turn in our periodical literature. And we had hoped we had seen the last of the little snob Marcella and the rest of them for at least another year. But the world is pressing Mrs. Ward for the solution of the servant girl question and she is becoming more industrious than ever. Subtle studies of snobocracy seem out of place, though, in the periodicals of a democratic country.

I have just seen the latest portrait of Mrs. Humphrey Ward in the “Century.” It explains the aridity of the atrocious Robert Elsmere.[28] Mrs. Ward’s physiognomy is severe. She is no hero to her maid servants and man servants, but a terror to evil doers. British superiority is in evidence; but the benignity of genius is not.

There are certain aspects of Stephen Crane’s literature that appeal to the risibilities of a man who is blessed or cursed with some humorous perception. His mystic, weird lines outrage all the laws of prosody, and can only stand as the audacious flings of a fantastic and untrammeled imagination, that is impatient of form and loves the hot splash of thought. But it must not be rashly judged that any fool can do this sort of thing. It demands a feeling for words and an abundant, bubbling imagination. Still, the grave critics who have seriously accepted Mr. Crane’s little book of verses as poetry and literature of a high order appear in a rather ludicrous light. It is an interesting freak of a quick fancy playing over life and thought and taking all that comes to the surface in all seriousness. It is, however, something new in print, for the unchastened whimsies of a perfervid imagination seldom get into print—except in a few periodicals where there is no one appointed to edit the editor.

The article of Jonathan Penn in this number seems to raise an uncomfortable theory that this[29] sort of inspiration is infectious, and that a million new poets may spring up any morning. But Mr. Penn is really only surprised at his own versatility, which does not surprise us in the least, for he is one of the most imaginative and brilliant prose writers in contemporary journalism. It is a pity that his necessities and the conditions governing the literary market in America compel him to write advertisements for his living. But if Mr. Crane and others can only manage to put into their serious efforts such fine limpid prose and such delicious fancies and quirks of humor as Mr. Penn puts into his alluring advertisements, a great future awaits them in prose literature.

In the death of Eugene Field, American literature has sustained a loss that will not be readily forgotten, for this whimsical poet of genius won a place for himself in the hearts of thousands. His “Sharps and Flats” in the Chicago Record also gained him a national reputation, but it is the fate of all journalists who succeed in winning such a place as he held in daily journalism to waste in the eternal ferment of the short-lived daily newspaper the fine talents of imagination and wit, that put into the permanent form of literature, would give them a place among the famous wits and humorists of the world. Luckily[30] Eugene Field was a poet as well as a wit and droll, and the publisher of the Record was appreciative and catholic enough to open his columns to his poetry.

If other American newspapers would allow their cleverest writers the same latitude of doing signed work in poetry and prose, we should soon have a very encouraging group of distinctive and virile American writers. Eugene Field was, perhaps, the only American man of letters using the term in its broad sense, and not restricting it especially to the writer of merely funny or political work, who has won fame in literature through the medium of a newspaper. This is high praise for the Record as well as a monument of achievement for Field, which only those in the harassing harness of journalism can properly appreciate. At the close of his career, of course, Field was published in books and magazines, but he won his reputation in the Record.

Why do not some other proprietors of large newspapers give other young American writers of originality and talent a show, instead of giving the public nothing in the way of literature but syndicate matter by English writers who crop up everywhere? If the newspaper publishers and editors took to producing literary men of their own, and were not content to get out a[31] newspaper that tallies with every other in every town from Maine to Frisco, we should soon find that a rich streak of spontaneous, fresh talent would be struck in this country.

Those early “Plain Tales from the Hills” were fine, and “The Light that Failed,” and the rest showed that in Kipling we had a man of virile force, great observation and picturesque power. But it seems to one who looks for the sense of permanence in an artist’s choice of subjects and style of treatment that the furore over the “Jungle Stories” is simply the exaggeration that is meted out to every established literary favorite in a mere strain for novelty. There is nothing really permanent about this literary twist of investing the wild beasts with human traits and speech, and although it is doubtless well done, it does not support the contention of some critics that Kipling is the most significant and robust writer in English today. This is not denying Kipling’s universally acknowledged abilities, it is merely pointing out that he is striving more for immediate effect than for the substantial art that would insure his place in the great body of standard English literature.

A Good Cause

Needs a good writer to support and advocate and present it.

A Bad Cause

Needs a better writer to make it appear as good as the best.

A writer of experience, ability and versatility is desirous of finding employment in some journalistic capacity. He prefers to advocate a damnably bad cause for good wages than a good one for bad. Address,

Hardup, care Fly Leaf.

Meditations in Motley.

By Walter Blackburn Harte.

I have met with no volume of essays from America since Miss Agnes Repplier’s so good as his “Meditations in Motley.”—Richard Le Gallienne, in the London “Realm.”

Mr. Harte is a litterateur of the light and humorous sort, with a keen eye for observation, and an extremely facile pen. His style is quaint and interesting. He has original ideas and always an original way of putting things. The writer if not quite a genius, is very closely related to one. There is a sly and quiet humor everywhere present. We hope that the author will soon sharpen his quill for more work of the same kind.—New York “Herald.”

“Meditations in Motley” reveals a new American essayist, honest and whimsical, with a good deal of decorative plain speaking.—I. Zangwill, in “The Pall Mall Magazine” for April, 1895.

The reader gets out of this book a good deal of the satisfaction which he finds in the essay-writing of the good old days of the English essayists. He will be reminded in many ways of that happy time, for he will gain the sense of leisure, independence of democratic opinion, a willingness to be odd if one’s oddity is attractive, a touch of the whimsical, and a good deal of straight-forward and earnest thinking. One is often reminded in reading these pages of Hazlitt. Mr. Harte understands the art of essay-writing.—“The Outlook,” New York.

“Meditations in Motley,” which has stirred up thinking people wherever it has entered their circles, is one of the lately built pieces of literary masonry that is strong enough to last.—“The Examiner,” San Francisco, Cal.

Price in Handsome Cloth, $1.25.

Or sent postpaid on receipt of price by
the Publishers

The Arena Publishing Co.,
Copley Square, Boston, Mass.


Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Archaic or alternate spelling has been retained from the original.