Title: The Yale literary magazine (Vol. LXXXIX, No. 3, December 1923)
Release date: March 2, 2023 [eBook #70190]
Original publication: United States: Herrick & Noyes
Credits: hekula03 and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)
Vol. LXXXIX No. 3
Yale Literary Magazine
Students of Yale University
PUBLISHED BY THE EDITORS
VAN DYCK & CO., INC., PRINTERS, NEW HAVEN, CONN.
Entered as second class matter at the New Haven Post Office.
Medieval Renaissance and Modern—1923
Edited by the following members of the Departments of the Fine Arts at Harvard and Princeton Universities
FRANK JEWETT MATHER, JR.
PAUL JOSEPH SACHS
CHARLES RUFUS MOREY
ARTHUR KINGSLEY PORTER
BELLE DaCOSTA GREENE
GEORGE PARKER WINSHIP
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WOO THE MUSE
Before you start your Story, or Essay, or Poem, for the next issue of the LIT., get into a VELVECORD LOUNGING ROBE, light your TREBOR PIPE, filled with YOUR FAVORITE MIXTURE. See that your EMERALITE is properly fitted with BULB and SHADE. Make your first draft on an ANTI-EYE-STRAIN THEME TABLET and with an AUTOMATIC PENCIL, and then typewrite your stuff on a REMINGTON PORTABLE. Keep a CARBON copy.
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To introduce our individual line of imported English Woolens and Scotch Tweeds we are making a special offering. We also have a few special tailored models for immediate use.
|Leader||Walter Edwards Houghton, Jr.||85|
|Dusk||David Gillis Carter||90|
|Viaticum, XIV Century Italy||C. G. Poore||91|
|Confession||Laird Shields Goldsborough||94|
|The Great Buddha of Kwang Ki||Laird Goldsborough||96|
|Yzlita-Audrey||R. P. Crenshaw, Jr.||102|
|Song||F. D. Ashburn||108|
|Moon Magic||Philip J. D. Van Dyke||108|
|Echo||R. P. Crenshaw, Jr.||111|
|Vol. LXXXIX||DECEMBER, 1923||No. 3|
|WALTER EDWARDS HOUGHTON, JR.|
|LAIRD SHIELDS GOLDSBOROUGH||DAVID GILLIS CARTER|
|MORRIS TYLER||NORMAN REGINALD JAFFRAY|
|GEORGE W. P. HEFFELFINGER||WALTER CRAFTS|
“He who fills his lamp with water will not dispel the darkness, and he who tries to light a fire with rotten wood will fail.”—Buddha.
“It is impossible,” remarks Agnes Repplier, “for an American to cherish any conviction, however harmless, without at once starting a League, or a Society, or an Association, to represent that conviction, and to persuade other Americans to embrace it at the cost of $10 a year.” She goes on to point out that we have a “League for Peace”, a “League to Keep the Peace”, and a “League to Abolish War”. You cannot escape: refuse the first, and you are enrolled in the second. If you are still young, there is a “League of Youth”, proposed by Sir James Barrie. If you are an inveterate pedestrian, there is a “League of Walkers”. However dismal our future may seem, there will always be the reward of membership in the Rotary Club; or we may become an enthusiastic Kiwanian; even a distinguished Klu Klux. Throughout the country people are being urged and urging others to “get together”. He who attempts to slip away is looked at askance—there is something wrong with him. Any desire to be alone, to do anything alone, is beyond comprehension. And to seek solitude for its own sake—the man is a heretic!
Three years ago a friend of mine began to commute to the city, an hour’s trip morning and night. None of “the crowd” knew him, and efforts to get acquainted proved futile. He was cordial but firm. And after refusing repeatedly to join them at bridge, he was left quite to himself. One evening as the train came into the station, some one tapped him on the shoulder. “Say, old man, you ought to learn the game. Nothing like it for killing these boresome hours.” My friend answered that he often played, but preferred to read on the train. Yet he rarely bought a paper. If his eyes were not fixed upon some “odd” book, they were peering out of the window—at the morning mists or the first lights of the dusk. Those hours of thought and solitude gave him a serenity, a clearness of vision, which nothing else could. There he knit together the many strands of unrelated effort into definite order. He could sit back and give each day’s work a place in the Total Work. While his fellow-travellers lived day and night in their particular cogs, he stood off and saw whither the wheel was rolling. It was not that their natural endowments were different from his, or that they might not have done likewise. They merely passed him by as “hopeless”. Their eyes were narrowly focused—upon thirteen cards.
That is bridge on the train. Add to it golf on Sundays, dinners at the country club, theatres, motor trips, downtown luncheons, the ever welcome of the latest fad, and you have the outward criteria of our national crowd complex. The great principle is to spend every moment with somebody else, doing something—even if that be listening to the Chicago weather reports over your neighbor’s radio. Oh, let us not have a spare moment to think! Let us never be alone!—by ourselves!—completely at the mercy of our own ingenuity. And solitude, the greatest of torments, must be avoided at any cost—from $10 a year upward.
An odd state of affairs! Hardly possible in a cloister devoted to learning and education. Its very nature should make it immune to such a disease. Yet the symptoms of this widespread malady are quite evident within our four walls. We are fortunate to have escaped the fraternity system of most colleges. One is pre-eminently a member of Yale, and not such-and-such a club or society. But the herd spirit is no less strong on that account. From the beginning of Freshman year we are conscious of it: we turn up our coat collars, buy a pipe—and are off in the right direction. Slowly and in various degrees we are moulded to definite standards. We come to dress as punctiliously as our allowances make possible; to act as casual and reserved as our youthful exuberance will permit. The few hours we have for reading are wisely devoted to Vanity Fair. Our conversation is as circumspect: some subjects are not to be talked of, some adjectives not to be used if one is to escape the censure of aestheticism. And beneath these outward criteria we find the primary cause—a fundamental uniformity of thought. Left to ourselves we would certainly not think in the same channels; but thrown into a crowd we think as the crowd does. We blandly accept those opinions which are oftenest and loudest shouted in our ears, repeat them as our own, and go merrily off to find a “fourth” for bridge. Thus, we are propagating ideas which are not our own, which are second-hand. The voice, which was once ours, has become an echo. To speak specifically, are we sure that unlimited cuts would be a good thing? By nature opposed to paternalism, we thoughtlessly advocate any measure which would seem to lessen its power—our only assurance of this end being that “everybody says so”. Therefore, if unlimited cuts are generally acclaimed, we join our cry with the rest. The final result is that “most of us have only the courage of our conventions”. What a courage is that! Splendid for a sham battle, but hardly sufficient to withstand the first rumble of real cannon. And as for convictions, they are never the product of “crowd” thought. Lamps which are filled with water, fires built of damp wood, give neither light nor heat.
That is the reflection among us of a national crowd complex. Its grave danger, already hinted at, has been pointed out by Carlyle: if we live in crowds we are going to think in crowds—which is not to think at all. When that stage is reached, a stage where our ambitions and ideals are no longer our own, we cease as individuals to live. We become automatons, robots, beings rather below the par of an intelligent animal. Better a man with a will and energy turned to wrong uses than such Donothingness, such flotsam, such weight upon progress. The man who sinks into the crowd has sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. He has lost his particular spark of individuality—that unnameable fibre which differentiates him from all others. What else has he to call his own? That lost, and all is lost. Thus, Agnes Repplier ironically concludes: “All these Leagues, Societies, Associations, and Guilds relieve man from the burden of individualism. Therefore does he pay their dues.” What dues they are? A Birthright for pottage!
Truly, the disease is a dangerous one, in many cases mortal. Its cure, in proportion, is difficult. And once cured, constant vigilance must be taken that it be not recontracted. The powers of nature are ever in league against bodily decay. It is our responsibility to fight and guard with like precision against mental inertia. There will be no help in any attempt to abolish the superficial conformity of dress, conversation, or interests. These things in themselves are trivial. They are the natural consequents of “crowd” thinking. That is where we must strike, and with all the power we can. Once cut away from us, its exterior betrayals will vanish as well.
The obstacles are many. It is so easy to drift! A ready agreement, a quiet acceptance of the latest tenets not only relieve us from the burden of thinking, but can make us no enemies—neither a troubled conscience nor scornful companions. That is why the herd mind is “essentially and inevitably a timid mind”. The gaps are filled up with bridge, the movies, plans for the next week-end. Little unorthodox doubtings, hesitances, questions, are suppressed. They would only cause trouble. Things are quite all right as they are!
Another obstacle is the over-organized life of the campus. Its rights and wrongs, goods and bads are ever being debated. In the meanwhile, there is little time for any of us to think. We are too busy putting out daily papers, producing plays, establishing world’s swimming records. There is no spare hour in the morning and another at night to sit back and reckon where the past day has brought us. And if there is such time, it has already been pledged to the card-table. Thus, solitude and intelligent reading—both excellent cures—are out of reach to the majority. Those who are privileged to enjoy both have always done so. They are quite immune from our disease.
There is one course left, requiring no end of patience and care. But its cure is certain. Moreover, it is within reach of us all—the busy and the idle, the radical and the conservative. We can make ourselves consciously challenge all ideas, opinions, theories which are foisted upon us—by others, or by our own sluggish minds. We must convince ourselves in every case that they are right or wrong, and once convinced, act fearlessly. Here is no place for timidity. We shall now vote as we choose, defying the dictates of the crowd. Ideas thoroughly analyzed and considered may wield tremendous power. They have not the hollow sound of an echo. Theirs is the true ring of the voice. All the Leagues for Peace in the world are a waste of time unless each member has implicit belief in the worth and need of peace. Progressive changes in college administration will never be promoted by jabbering repetition of “current opinion”. They will come only when a majority of us have quietly and firmly convinced ourselves that such changes are right and necessary. Then you have solidarity, which is uniformity of convictions and not conventions. Further, you have accomplishment and progress. The old lamp is cleansed of its water, and now at last pierces the darkness. Some dry wood is thrown upon the smouldering fire, and the flames rise high above the countryside.
I had not seen Helen Rochdale for almost a year. And indeed I cannot say that I ever wanted greatly to see her again. Not that seeing her wasn’t always to be a pleasure, but rejection by a girl whom one has loved almost since childhood means that one does not exactly seek her company afterwards. “You are such a wise, dear old thing—even if you’re only twenty-three,” her letter had begun, illogically enough, “that I want you to come over from your old Paris and tell me whether something I’ve gotten on the track of is a bargain or not. Now do be sweet about it. You know you love to talk about ‘patina’ and such things to father. And really he respects your advice tremendously. Can’t see why. I never did.” The letter wound on for several pages more. No other girl could have been at once so unaffectedly cordial and so blandly disarming—I almost imagined that our love affair was beginning, instead of buried a year or more. I mean she had written me in just the tone we used to use long before there was any thought of love between us, at least on her side. For I cannot remember when I was not more or less in love with Helen. Still, perhaps her request was not so remarkable. I was young, but I had been brought up in the very center of the art world. My father had been a collector by profession and a sculptor of sorts, as he used to say, by accident. Then, at the time I was growing up, his business had waxed profitable, so that we lived rather well, and the house of “Richards of London”, as our firm was called, possessed a certain indefinable halo of distinction that raised it quite out of the common rut of “art salesrooms”.
The foundations of my acquaintance with Lord Rochdale’s family had been laid when the late earl, Helen’s grandfather, appeared one day in a wrought-up state, and declared that a painting sold to him by our firm as a genuine Hobbema was spurious. I can remember to this very hour the royal rage into which he flew, and the decidedly quaint invectives of an earlier day that he hurled at my defenseless head, for I was alone in our galleries that afternoon. I at once offered to repurchase the picture from him at the original figure. But, at the same time, I assured him that it was a genuine Hobbema, and in the course of our rather long conversation on the subject I think we each rose considerably in the other’s regard. The upshot was that he took the picture back to its place in the ancient halls of Rochdale—pending the arrival of a certain celebrated art critic from Italy. And, on the appearance of that personage, he was so good as to invite me to take dinner at The Lawns, and be present when the final judgment was passed. Had he known that our own considerably more modest establishment almost adjoined The Lawns, and that I had grown up to worship his granddaughter Helen from afar, perhaps many things might have been different. But, be that as it may, I made the most of this opportunity, as well as such others as were offered me, and came in time to be a not unwelcome visitor at Lord Rochdale’s household.
The death of the old Lord Rochdale, with whom I had far more in common than Helen’s father, coupled with the revelation, not long after, that Helen liked me exceedingly but by no means wanted to become my wife, had driven me to Paris, there to take charge of our French branch and occupy myself exclusively with art matters. When Helen’s letter came, I do not think it ever seriously occurred to me not to obey her request. I am not, at least, a bad loser, and I very soon found myself speeding across the Channel for the first time in almost a year. Arrived in London, I was met by the very chauffeur who, years before, had tremblingly followed the late Lord Rochdale into our galleries, carrying the disputed Hobbema. A short ride, or rather a fairly longish one, brought me once again to the threshold with which I associated so many varied memories. Lady Rochdale was away, but I was received by the Honorable Helen Rochdale with a wink and a hearty handshake, and by the Honorable Helen Rochdale’s Aunt Eugene without a trace of the former and only a very feeble attempt at the latter.
Of the ensuing evening there is, perhaps, no special need to tell. For this is a story of the Great Buddha of Kwang Ki, with whom I became acquainted next morning. I call it the Great Buddha of Kwang Ki because that was its official title, but it was of medium size, standing some four or four and a half feet high without the base, and hideously ugly—by which I mean that one must have lived among examples of Chinese art for many years to have understood its peculiar beauty. As the sale was to be that afternoon, I fell to work at once and examined the statue with the greatest care. It appeared to be an extraordinarily fine example of the bronze Buddhas occasionally discovered in the north of China, and belonging to the Chang period. I found that Helen, who had a keen eye for such things and an unusually well-stocked pocketbook, had discovered the Buddha in the not over reliable or pretentious shop where it now reposed, and had realized its great value if genuine, but feared to bid on it without advice to supplant her own knowledge of such things. I told her that I felt sure the Buddha was genuine, and that it undoubtedly was not later than the Chang period, which was made certain not only by various indications in the carving, but by the unusually fine greenish-golden patina, which the bronze had accumulated in the course of centuries. I had withdrawn with Helen to some distance from the crowd, in order to discuss this with her, when, just as I finished speaking, an extraordinarily ill-kempt little man bustled out from behind a curtained recess and spoke to us.
He seemed to be quivering with some suppressed emotion, and fairly blurted out, “Excuse me, sir, and you, ma’am. But I suppose they’ve been stuffing you with tales of how that’s the Great Buddha of Kwang Ki, and has killed all its former owners by magic, and them as speaks ill of it, too! But it’s all bosh! Perfect nonsense! The thing’s a fake! Plaster clear through with a copper facing and weighted with lead! I’ll show ’em!” And with that he rushed upon the Buddha, brandishing his umbrella, apparently prepared to demolish it. Well, it was only a coincidence, of course. But before the old fellow could reach the statue his foot slipped, and he came down with the most terrible crash right on the projecting corner of an antique bronze table that was standing in the way. It knocked him out dreadfully, and he had to be carried to a chemist’s shop across the street, and then taken to the hospital without ever recovering consciousness. Poor Helen was dreadfully affected, and I wanted her to abandon the whole thing and go back home. But she said no, that she wasn’t going to be kept from a real find just because some crank insisted it was made of plaster and had gotten himself hurt trying to prove it. So we went back once more, and I again verified my former conclusions, especially with regard to the patina, which was really extremely fine, and is an infallible indication of age in a bronze of that type.
Eventually I bid in the Buddha for Helen at £300, which was tremendously cheap and only accounted for by the comparative obscurity of the sale. We then arranged to have it delivered next day, and departed well pleased with ourselves. But the next day passed, and part of a third without its having arrived. At last, I decided to go and see what had become of it, since in London such small shops do not usually have a telephone, and this was one of those that did not. Arrived at the shop, I was greeted by the proprietor, who made a thousand apologies, but said that he could not deliver the Buddha before night. His story was that the “curse of the Buddha”, as he insisted upon calling it, had fallen upon one of his men who had attempted to remove it the day after the sale. This man, said the proprietor, had been engaged in erecting a crane, with which to lower the statue to the street. But he had been in a hurry, and had had so little respect for the sacred personage before him as to roundly curse it for an awkward, heavy slob of a heathen god. Whereupon, said my informant, the Buddha had blasted the scaffold upon which he sat with holy fire and hurled the impious blasphemer to his death in the street below. These details, with the exception of the heavenly fire, were corroborated by the other employees of the place, and the result was that not one of them could be persuaded to approach the angry god for fear its vengeance might not be exhausted. No outside truckman could be obtained until the evening of the present day. But I was assured that Buddha would be faithfully delivered before nightfall.
Returning to The Lawns, I endeavored to keep secret the cause of the Buddha’s non-appearance. But alas, Helen is a witch who will wring anything from my lips, which she suspects of being a secret. And so it was not long before she knew the whole story, as it had been told me. I confess that when the huge object finally loomed up the winding drive in the dusk, brought though it was by a very matter-of-fact electric dray, I did not feel entirely comfortable. But Helen, apparently, did not share whatever eerie feelings I may have had. The bronze was duly installed in a conspicuous place, the men were paid, we descended to dinner, we dined, and still no calamity befell. When the meal was over, Helen wanted to rush back to view her newly-acquired treasure, and I followed in her wake, quite reassured. We stood for a while examining the way in which the light from the chandelier fell across the statue and made queer shadows on the wall. Finally Helen laughed, and, making light of my previous nervousness, began calling “for little Buddha” by a string of pet names, hardly suited to its oriental dignity. She, at least, was not afraid, she said, of any lump of bronze, no matter how old it was. But something within me seemed to sound a warning. And, just as she was about to put her tongue out at the Great Buddha of Kwang Ki, I darted my hand out and pulled her back, why I hardly know. At the same moment there was a cracking sound, the table upon which the Buddha rested seemed to crumble, the huge bulk of that awful statue gathered itself together and hurled towards us with a terrific crash. At the same moment the lights were extinguished. And then—then came the moment that has made the Great Buddha of Kwang Ki my friend for life! I found Helen, sobbing, clinging in my arms, pouring out that we were going to die, but that she loved me, had always loved me!
The story really ends here—that is quite all that is of importance. For, when you have lived as long as I with the old bronzes of the East, you begin to have more than a vague sense of the unseen forces that may linger about them, even after so many thousand years. And especially when a very old and august god has troubled to bring you all the way from France, just to throw the only girl you have ever loved into your arms, it does not occur to you to search for the incredible series of coincidences that may have brought about that almost too perfect result. No, one allows others to speculate as to why a table, supposedly more than strong enough to support the weight of even so considerable a deity, should suddenly have crumbled at exactly the right moment, carrying the chandelier with it. Or perhaps one permits them to prove that it was only by coincidence that all who have ever insulted the Great Buddha of Kwang Ki have been punished for their temerity. Indeed, I myself have had to perform all those feats of explanation, in order to quiet Helen’s fears to the point of getting her to allow the Buddha to remain solidly ensconced in a little marble summer house, where he is admired and feared by all the children of the place. But as for me, well, on moonlight nights, I sometimes wander out to where the old bronze god sits quietly dreaming of the time when he was fearsomely adored. And, as the moonlight filters in upon him, I have a feeling that when he seems to nod in the flickering shadows, he is only answering my unspoken question. And when, again, the pale light softens the lines about his lips into a bland and oriental smile, I imagine that he is smiling at the success of our bargain—which has given to me a wife and to him a quiet place to dream.
After ten years, Havana was again before him, bathed in the golden freshness of a Caribbean dawn. The first rays of the sun had dispelled the lingering strips of mist from the city, and they shone now in all the vigor of strong contrasting colors. The yellows and whites of the houses along the serpentine Malecon, the long drive above the apron of black rocks by the sea, seemed buoyantly and even defiantly to answer the morning challenge of the sun; while here and there the spring luxuriance of trees punctuated the lighter colors. Beyond and behind the long gay line of the Malecon was the body of the city, a welter of flat, tiled roofs gradually, indistinctly ascending to a hint of green hills in the distance, and of palms against the sky. The files of lofty trees that lined the promenade of the Prado made a long straight isle from the band-stand at the harbor’s mouth into the very heart of the city. Opposite the band-stand, on the other flank of the harbor entrance, the brooding grimness of the Morro Castle lifted an old gaze to the sunrise, while behind it the brilliant whiteness of the fortress Cabañas overlooked the city.
Havana was slowly rousing, and as the “Santiago” covered the last miles of ocean to the harbor, Henry Mayo could see a movement of boats across it, and a forest of the spars of small sailing-vessels beyond. The sight of the great colorful city had now a different meaning for him than the one it had borne when he had previously returned, and seen it as now flame out across the sea. He went back to the time when for eleven years it had been his home. His family had moved to Cuba when Mayo was three months old, and almost every summer thereafter in his memory had witnessed a trip back to the United States. He had in those years always felt an eager anticipation on returning to Havana through the wonder of the dawn, and some of his youthful breathlessness returned to his mind now. Then it had seemed a city of promise, a vision of great vividness, full of possibilities for childhood romance; a city where he could ride through the kind mystery of a tropic night in an open coach, while his father and his mother told him tales of the things they passed.
But now, due partly to the inevitable disillusion of growth combined with absence, and partly to the perspective in which history and accumulated impressions had since made him see the city, Havana seemed to him too gaudy to be really beautiful, while the dead hand of decay that strikes all tropical countries seemed palpably hanging over the city. From this standpoint, the flaunted beauty of the Malecon, the riot of color over the whole far-flung city, appeared empty and artificial and pitiful. What a contrast to that girl whom every thought of Cuba brought to him, and of whom the promise of the day, and all the fulsome glory before him, spoke so mockingly.
Yzlita-Audrey! He drew from his wallet with reverence a worn visiting-card, on which in old English type was engraved, “Mrs. Eduardo Carlos Poëy, Arroyo Apolo, Havana, Cuba”. But Henry Mayo was gazing at a line of writing above the engraving, where in a fine, dainty hand was “Yzlita-Audrey Poëy”. He considered it for a moment, with a feeling akin to awe, and then, just before the “Santiago” passed into the harbor, raised his eyes to the suggestion of hills and palms in the distance. Beyond those hills was “San Juan” de Poëy, where Yzlita-Audrey had once lived, and where Mrs. Poëy would presently give him word of her.
Inland from Havana runs the great white highway to Guïnes. It is one of the most magnificent roads in the island. Smooth as macadam can make it, the way yet gathers, from the over-arching rows of trees that line its entire course, a secluded vastness and solemnity. Of late years its quiet has been more and more invaded by the raucous klaxons and open cut-outs of a swelling stream of tourists. Whereas once great ox-carts lumbered slowly, picturesquely over it, the road is now the slave of the visitor and his forbidding chauffeur. One of the first things a child in the neighborhood learns to say is, “Gee me wan pen-nee!” On the way to Guïnes, the highway runs through the little town of Arroyo Apolo. Some miles beyond, the passing visitor can gaze to his right down a long lane of trees to the distant white façade of “San Juan” de Poëy.
As Henry Mayo stepped into an open carriage at Arroyo Apolo, the drowsiness of a Cuban afternoon was over everything. It was such a day as encouraged reflection, which in Mayo’s case was tinged with much melancholy. His thoughts were of Yzlita-Audrey, that vivacious youthful figure who had stepped from his life, and left it (as Mayo sadly assured himself) empty. The years of his childhood came back vividly. How often, on the way from Havana to see her, had he travelled over this same road! And how often, in the house that was his destination, had he and Yzlita-Audrey studied and played together, or vigorously pulled each other’s hair in youthful quarrels.
But Henry Mayo was frank enough with himself to realize that this youthful companionship, romantic and appealing as it was, nevertheless gained vitality only from his view of Yzlita-Audrey the autumn before, after he had been nine years absent from Cuba. During that time he had carried with him the affectionate memory of those far-off childhood days, epitomized in the flying golden hair and the dancing eyes of this girl. Yet he had never stopped to consider that she must in the interval have grown, and changed. Unconsciously, he had pictured her as always a child, always the same. His trip to New York in September had made him realize the impossibility of such a notion.
Passing through the city, he had gone to dine with some old Cuban friends at a downtown hotel which is the favorite resort of Cuban visitors to “the States”. As they sat at dinner, into the room had swept Mrs. Poëy and Yzlita-Audrey, fresh from Cuba. There had been a moment of excited recognitions, while Henry Mayo felt unsteady at the vision of this older, different girl. The Poëys had joined them at dinner, and he had sat beside her. With the reaction of his spirits to flood tide, he had buoyantly set out to renew the old friendship, while his eyes frankly appraised her. In one moment, the years of intimacy had come warmly nearer, and he felt the one-time comradeship strengthened.
Yzlita-Audrey, however, was not as eager as he, though there was a slight embarrassed flush on her face. She talked often. Her conversation, after the first glad recognition, was carefully general, and she glanced at him rather less than at the older people. But Mayo’s ardor was not so easily quenched, and he shamelessly heaped on her compliments and innuendos, and smiles playfully possessive. Her hair had been civilized to a simple coiffure, but retained its old glory of color. Her eyes danced with a suppressed excitement. Her face contained too much character to be really pretty, and too much vivacity to be anything but attractive. Mayo’s admiration had made her somehow thoughtful, until at last she had turned to him and said, “I want you to see the picture of my fiancé.” Then she had drily added, as though to temper the first effect, “You’ll be so interested in his medals!”
When she returned, they all went to the parlor. Silently he had looked at the picture, and then tried to hide the weariness of his tone as he praised the man’s handsomeness. He was Count Nini Something, an Italian naval officer, and with eager eyes Yzlita-Audrey had told of him. As she talked, her manner had returned to one of confidential intimacy. The love affair she sketched was one of dances on shore and on the count’s vessel, which came to Havana at frequent intervals; of an intrigued girl, and a loving but fiercely jealous man. As the tale unfolded, Mayo numbly imagined how different matters might have been if he had seen Yzlita-Audrey a year earlier, and realized sooner that she was, by history, and destiny, for himself. As things stood, she was to be married in January, and go to Italy—forever.
Life for Henry Mayo was from then on as the blank street into which he stepped as he left the hotel. The tragedy of it was with him in hardly lessened intensity for many months, until finally it had brought him back to the old scenes, where through late afternoon a slow coach carried him to “San Juan” de Poëy.
At length the coach turned down the long avenue of trees, and Mayo could see more and more clearly the familiar front steps of white stone, converging from a broad base to the simplicity of a massive oak door. The entire house was white, and responded eloquently to the sunlight. Mayo paused for a moment after stepping from the carriage, to look sentimentally about him, and gaze on familiar things. Here Mrs. Poëy saw him, from an open window on the first floor.
“Henry Mayo! How glad I am that you’ve come!” she cried.
She received him at the head of the steps, with great cordiality, and led the way to the parlor.
“Mrs. Poëy, you have no idea how splendid it is to get back after such a long time,” he told her as they sat down. Whereupon they talked of old times, while he avoided speaking of Yzlita-Audrey until Mrs. Poëy should mention her. The sun was setting as they spoke at length on the changes in Havana, on the passing of the old American colony and its replacement by one grossly new. Mrs. Poëy did not seem so unhappy as Mayo had expected to find her after her daughter’s departure. In fact, she looked very cheerful and carefree. How brave women were!
Then, as dusk quickly came, they sat in silence for a few moments. It was the sort of silence that can fall only between two friends of long standing. And into the silence stepped Yzlita-Audrey, swiftly.
“Mother,” she began, but stopped as she realized there was a visitor. “Henry!” Her recognition through the dimness of the room came joyfully, her voice as thrilling as a midnight bell.
After an unreal moment of amazement, all Mayo could do was to turn to Mrs. Poëy and slowly say, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Why didn’t you ask me?” she laughed back, with her inscrutable, quiet smile; and then, suddenly brisk, “Well, I must go upstairs on a thousand errands.” Her eyes, however, were very kind as she left the room.
Mayo turned to find that Yzlita-Audrey was standing slimly outlined against the dusk of a tall French window, as she gazed pensively down at the garden. He burst into a laugh for very joy—a laugh full of the happiness that came flooding over him with the removal of that mantle of sorrow. At the sound, the figure in the window turned, and her quiet mirth came to him as she said, “You funny man! I love your laugh, but I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re laughing at.”
“Not the slightest?”
“Well—perhaps, the very slightest.... But how are you? I suppose you’ve come on your honeymoon, to mock an old maid?” The tone was bantering, but seriousness underlay it.
“Nothing less!—six wives and four hundred hat-boxes!” He joined her at the window, and told the story of his trip. “And you?”
“Oh, Nino was a bad little boy, so I spanked him verbally and sent him away. And that’s that.” She moved her hands in pretty finality, and made a humorous little move. “Besides,” she added, “Italy is so far away.”
“Oh, yes,—Cuba,” as though that were an afterthought.
“And only from Cuba?” he pursued.
“Oh, Italy’s far from all sorts of places.” Then, as he waited, “Silly Mr. Fisherman! And it’s ever so far from—wherever you live now.”
“Elysium, General Delivery,” he supplied.
“Elysium, then,” with elaborate boredom.
They stood at the window in silence, and watched a moon almost full move slowly up the sky. Its wan radiance bathed the clusters of palms on the plain that spread behind the house at the horizon, and put uncertain silver fingers on the garden below them. Mayo turned to gaze at the girl beside him, and saw the moon’s caress on her hair.
“Yzlita-Audrey.” He lingered over the name. “This is like a dream come true.”
After a long moment, she answered musingly, “It’s almost too good to be true. I am so glad you’re here.—Tell me, did you ever really think I’d run off and marry an Italian count?”
Mayo took her reverently in his arms, and said with actual sincerity, “Why, the very idea! It never occurred to me you would. That’s why I came back.”
He lifted his head. He was drowsy and the dim light created an atmosphere of restfulness. The rough wooden bench on which he sat lay against the wall and the hardness of it, and the stone behind him, caused him to move uneasily in an attempt to adjust himself to a greater degree of comfort. He ceased to wonder why he stayed. It was an old church seldom visited by tourists, perhaps because there was little of beauty about its grey walls and ancient altar-stones. True, it had its tradition and history, but little had occurred in this out-of-the-way corner of England to cause the traveller to turn his steps thither. Moss grew within the crevices, while the cold sides of a dismembered tomb, lying open to the fading sunlight through a ruined corner, was the chapel of a horde of flowers that climbed up and about it in long trailing wreaths.
Another corner, on the far side, contained the hideously modern statue of a saint who stood with a finger warningly upraised, his gaze upon one sandalled foot which stood revealed from beneath the painted cassock. A sign beside him besought the curious to burn a candle; but there were no candles and the saint himself seemed to have fallen on hard days: his color had faded and his nose was broken.
Through the one-time windows the evening sun was slipping away beneath a rose and gold cloak, and the blue of the hills was dark against the paler blue of the sky. The mists from below crept up slowly, like white shepherds driving their sheep. It became thicker, after a little, and darker; the saint in his corner became a dim misshape, and, when the man raised his head again, it was nearly dark. He sprang to his feet with an exclamation and crossed towards the door, but he could not see his way and he felt around the wall until he came to the tomb, where he paused for a moment to consider.
From somewhere below, there came a faint piping. He raised his head to listen, but it had gone and a feeling akin to apprehension stole over him. It was strange to be alone in this once holy place, and he determined to wait until the moon had risen and he could see to make his way down to the village again. Something stirred before him and a small shape scurried past his feet; he could hear it scraping across the stone flagging. He called to it gently and there was silence which, although he listened for several minutes, was not broken.
Drowsiness came upon him. He lay back upon the stone and closed his eyes. When he awoke the moon was shining down upon him softly, a silver Argos on a winking sea. He was strangely content, and it seemed at last that the moon was falling and he could hear laughing voices about him, and that a fierce, wild wind was lashing itself around him. He felt himself lifted and carried he knew not where; but the moon was beside him, small like a lantern, and he turned his head to watch it glimmer.
He thought he stood upon a high tower, while the wind sang about him and the moon lay still at his feet like a silver bubble. Below him lay the land, barren and grey like a dusky desert, while through it ran a blue stream threading its way to the distant horizon. Then the wind caught him up again and the moon brushed against his hand as they rose.
They were passing over a mighty sea and he saw, tossing upon the crest of a mighty wave, a tiny ship, and he seemed to hear the cries of the sailors; and the wind bore him on its way until he found himself upon the shore of the sea, the moon hanging a little above him. Beside him stood a warrior, clad in armor and leaning upon his shield. He moved a little nearer and, as he looked into his face, the warrior turned away and let his shield fall upon the ground. Whereupon the waves crept up around it and carried it away with them down into the sea.
He stood upon a city wall. Below him the people were crowding the marketplaces. Some carried torches and others garlands. It was a time of rejoicing, but, hovered against the wall, he saw a beggar, old and blind. He called upon the wind to take him away and he saw no more.
Their way lay over strange lands and grey mountains, and he lay half sleeping as the wind bore him on its way. At last he felt himself falling.
He lay upon a barge going down a golden river. He could hear the boatmen singing as they swept their oars against the side. He opened his eyes. For a moment he stared fixedly and saw above him two shining stars which laughed and danced like liquid flames. He knew at once that they were eyes, the eyes of a woman bent low over him. Her lips gleamed red against the whiteness of her face, and about her white shoulders her black hair tumbled like an angry sea. She was singing softly above the chant of the boatmen and her words were these:
He reached his arms up to her, but her face had faded and he could see only the moon high above, a dim white light steady, clear, and cold.
He lay in the green rushes and saw the face of a water nymph laughing at him through the parted reeds. He stood within the vaulted chambers of a mighty castle where ghosts of dreams he dreamt which never came true, paced to and fro before him. At last he stood alone in a great lonely place, vastness about him and vastness below him. And then the moon fell beside him and he saw that she was a maid clad in silver cobwebs and sheen and that across her eyes was a mask of cloud. She put her lips to his and, though her lips were still, she sang:
He awoke with a start. The mists of morning lay about. The saint in his corner was smiling, or was it a ray of sunlight which lay across his lips? The mists were shot with amber and gold. It was morning.
The hearts of young men have always provided Mr. Cabell with a ready stamping-ground. Youth which has not yet lost its imagination, which is still hoping its disillusionments are bad dreams, slips into the spirit of the Cabellian fantasy with too ardent asperity, so that when Jurgen or Manuel awakens in the world of things as they are, youth suffers more than any old man may. None of us have ever had much sympathy with the church-league critics of the manners of Poictesme, since the very elements which aroused the righteousness of these people formed an essential and legitimate part of our dreams and our ideals. We were thankful that if life held little promise to our masculine delicacy of desire, Jurgen at least provided us with a satisfactory literature. That is more or less our reason for wishing Mr. Cabell’s tales to go unchallenged, and for our thinking his formerly slight eroticism a necessary factor in the weaving of his enchantments.
Now, even the illusion of Poictesme has worn thin from over-handling. Still in the High Place there are those rare moments of adventure or frustration we have learned to expect and love. But Mr. Cabell has disclosed that his mind can be filthy as well as fantastic. His double meanings are here inexcusable both for their schoolboy crudity and for their quite obvious irrelevance to the general scheme of things; it is not a question of morals, but of taste. When certain passages remain inexplicable except as unadulterated smut, we cannot help smiling at the irony of the exalted title. What Mr. Cabell regard as his High Place is sometimes far too low to sustain his reputation. We advise those who are unacquainted with this author to begin elsewhere in his works.
James Elroy Flecker is dead. But from London comes word that “Hassan”, his latest and great work, is playing, and has for months played, to packed houses. Flecker lived most of his life in the Orient, and has in this play indelibly caught its beauty, its poetry, and its cruelty.
The setting of “Hassan”, and the manner in which it is outlined through the characters, is the feature of a work whose merits are legion. The background is one of liquid beauty, a tissue woven of moonbeams and fancies, and of all the things in which the East finds inspiration. The lyric passages are delightful, and sometimes burst spontaneously into haunting poetry.
Upon this background there move living characters. Hassan, a humble confectioner of Bagdad at the time of Haroun Al Raschid, is an ugly man with a poetic soul. He falls in love, and his love is not returned until the Caliph Haroun raises him to power. With loss of power, love leaves him again. Subtle touches of humor and innuendo abound in the play, and serve to outline its essential tragedy.
In the Oriental spirit which “Hassan” so well portrays, there is a gorgeousness of beauty which is too highly colored long to retain its first unfaded charm for a Westerner. Perhaps the reason why “Hassan’s” influence holds is that in it a Westerner has given his own practical application to the scenes he describes, from a mind kindred to our own. However that may be, the work is strong and fundamental, and fascinatingly interprets an unfamiliar view of life. The setting is painted in enduring colors from Hassan’s love lyric to those final deep-toned stanzas:
“The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall” is, in Mr. Hardy’s own words, “a new version of an old story”. And yet this version, it would seem, lies closer to Gottfried of Strasburg and the traditional Celtic story of “Tristram and Iseult” than many we have had of late, closer in spirit at least if not in actual incident. This authenticity of spirit might have been expected, though, for the realm of the tragic queen “at Lintagel in Lyonnesse” lies within Mr. Hardy’s own special province of Wessex, and Queen Iseult and Iseult the Whitehanded are after all but a step removed from the heroines of the Wessex novels.
Mr. Hardy has chosen for his play, with an admirable sense of the dramatic, that point in the story of the “twain mismated” when for the last time the paths of their lives converged, when for the last time Tristram came from Brittany—to see his Iseult the Fair and after a brief moment of bitterness and ecstacy to fall at her feet, stabbed in the back by her husband, King Mark. The spirit of Mr. Hardy’s play and the spirit of Mr. Hardy’s characters are, I have said, essentially that of the thirteenth century chronicler. There is a certain rudeness and strength and withal a certain other-worldliness against which the slender flame of the passion of Tristram and Iseult burns with exceeding brilliancy. There is a certain subtlety in the painting of such emotions as the jealousy of the Queen Iseult and of Iseult the Whitehanded in such a line as the Queen Iseult’s—
—which gives to these figures of legend an unsuspected glow of life. But through it all there is the firmness of touch and the strange broken felicity of expression which we have found so characteristic of Mr. Hardy.
says Iseult of her journey to Brittany.
are Tristram’s words to his wife, Iseult the Whitehanded. Somewhere Iseult speaks of “the self-sown pangs of prying”. And in the music of such lines as those of Iseult the Whitehanded, broken with tragedy, lies the note of the play itself:—
Plays of the nature of “The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall” demand, it must be remarked, a curious type of production. On its title page Mr. Hardy has called his work “a play for mummers in one act requiring no theatre or scenery”. So it will be given by the local players in Mr. Hardy’s own town of Dorchester. He has himself, in the preface to “The Dynasty”, suggested for “such play of poesy and dream ... a monotonic delivery of speeches, with dreamy conventionalized gestures, something in the manner traditionally maintained by the old Christmas mummers, the curiously hypnotizing impressiveness of whose automatic style—that of persons who spoke by no will of their own—may be remembered by all who ever experienced it”. The effectiveness of such a manner, coupled with Mr. Hardy’s blank verse and the brooding accompaniment of the chorus of chanters—the shades of dead old Cornish men and the shades of dead Cornish women—would be very great indeed.
It is enough to say, though, that Mr. Hardy has held his position of eminence for almost fifty years and that in “The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall” his power has not been lost. In such lines as—
we read the old hand.
In “Young Felix”, Frank Swinnerton has thoroughly exposed the Hunter family. Grumps, Auntie Lallums, Ma and Pa, Godfrey and Felix—every one is perfectly distinct and deeply comprehended. It is a beautiful tale of bubbling mirth overcoming every disaster, for there is the charm of the Hunter family—no matter how great the opposition may be, their infinite good-nature rises to the top and the day is saved. As some one said of Felix, “He would be a great success in any profession—or a great failure”.
It is a pleasant contrast to the presentday novels of youth in America. If the lack of sophistication in the young Felix seems improbable, at least it is better to err on that side than the ultra-mature nature of our own precocious urchins. There is quite enough humor in this book without exaggerating the unruly side of youth. The story throughout is of the lowest stratum of middle-class life already so well handled by Arnold Bennett, the early H. G. Wells, Hugh Walpole, and John Galsworthy. We have no such quintet over here, but we can take comfort in the fact that they are writing in the same language and enriching it.
There is much in “Young Felix” which recalls the earlier “Nocturne”, and yet I believe this is even finer. It has the same lovely quiet, but there is added a treasure of irrepressible humor that outshines anything Swinnerton has ever done. As Mr. Wells says: “Seen through his art, life is seen as one sees things through a crystal lens, more intensely, more completed, and with less turbidity.”
A poet’s first novel usually brings forth a sharply defined list of questions. Is it anything more than expression? Is it a poem in prose? Is it sincere? Always “Is it sincere?” With Elinor Wylie none of these are permissable. She sub-titles her story, “A Sedate Extravaganza”, and that is just what it is—a burlesque on the latter eighteenth century. Its step-sister, “Nets to Catch the Wind”, shows its relationship only in the rare delicacy common to both and unsurpassed—even by Walter de la Mare. “Jennifer Lorn” is whimsical, satiric—at times reminiscent of Max Beerbohm in his early essays and yet far more like Jane Austen. It is a far cry from Beerbohm to Austen and yet in this story we have the union. There is the common outcry against willy-nilly women who swoon upon the slightest provocation; women who tremble before their lord and master, languishing beside their smelling salts.
This is the story of an aristocrat and his bride who voyage East for the East India Company only to find disaster, discontent, and disillusionment. Jennifer is dainty—and feminine. Gerald is dazzling—and masculine. True caricatures of their time, sketched by the hand of a most extraordinary stylist, it is delicate, diminutive, and diabolically clever—just what a poet like Miss Wylie should do.
“That,” said Han proudly, as he surveyed his handiwork, “is probably not only the greatest Editor’s Table ever written, ‘above all Greek, above all Roman fame’, it is also without doubt the most sublime Editor’s Table which will ever be written. It—”
“It looks like the Union Jack with an advertisement printed in the middle of it,” interrupted Mr. and Mrs. Stevens in chorus, “and that is not allowed by the Department of Internal Revenue. See Bulletin 12345678909876543210 X.” And Mrs. Stevens triumphantly produced the document in question from her reticule.
“Ut qwong qwong! Jui day tong? Ut shaa maan! Jup bun long?” replied Han tersely. (For he always resorted to Chinese in moments of excitement.)
“Oh,” said Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, Ariel, and Cherrywold.
“Yes,” said Han, dropping into the vernacular, “but even that is not its chief advantage. Inspect it carefully, gentlemen. Not even in the celebrated ‘Forties’ referred to by our recent and acrimonious reviewer was there ever an Editor’s Table so magnificently devoid not only of sense but even of the slightest trace of meaning. It combines Da-Daism, Secessionism, Futurism, Patism and Presentism—”
“And pessimism?” suggested Mr. Stevens, already to protest if that should be the case.
“Wait!” thundered Ariel. “I believe there’s some meaning in this, after all!”
“There isn’t,” said Mrs. Stevens firmly. “If it isn’t the Union Jack, it’s just hen tracks.”
“Nothing of the sort!” said Rabnon. “I see your point, Ariel. As the poem advances, a capital letter is advanced one space in each word up to ‘ME’. That’s all capitals; and then the capitals recede until ‘two’ is all small letters, and ‘2’ is just a numeral. Evidently it’s one of those exotic poems of passion that blow first hot and then cold.”
“‘Scorching kisSes’ does sound pretty hot,” said Mr. Stevens, beginning to take an interest. Whereat Mrs. Stevens had to be forcibly restrained from tearing up the whole Table.
“And look at that first line,” suggested Cherrywold, when the hubbub had subsided. “‘It wAs aA furRy foreSt’. Take that with the second, and if you don’t get just the feeling of kissing the bearded lady of a circus I miss my guess.”
“It means no such thing!” said Han. “I told you it doesn’t mean anything. Just because you may be reminded—”
But by then Mrs. Stevens had gotten out of hand again.
“‘lIttle miCeys’!” she shrieked. “Does that mean ‘little mice’? I’m going home! An Editor’s Table where the bearded lady of a circus is kissed by a man who is frightened by seven mice who bark at him is no place for a lady!”
“That’s a rather involved sentence,” said Rabnon oracularly. “But do you know, I believe Madame Stevens has hit upon the correct interpretation.”
“And of course the man felt like ‘30c’,” added Cherrywold. “A very realistic touch. But I thought you said your Editor’s Table was so remarkable, Han, because it didn’t mean anything. The joke’s on you.”
“I did, and it is, and it doesn’t, and as for the joke, that’s a serious matter,” said