The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Yale Literary Magazine (Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 6, March 1923), by Various

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Title: The Yale Literary Magazine (Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 6, March 1923)

Author: Various

Release Date: May 8, 2022 [eBook #68030]

Language: English

Produced by: hekula03 and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)



Yale Literary Magazine

Conducted by the
Students of Yale University.

“Dum mens grata manet, nomen laudesque Yalenses
Cantabunt Soboles, unanimique Patres.”

March, 1923.

New Haven: Published by the Editors.
Printed at the Van Dyck Press, 121-123 Olive St., New Haven.

Price: Thirty-five Cents.

Entered as second-class matter at the New Haven Post Office.


has the following amount of trade at a 10% discount with these places:

ALEXANDER—Suits $32.00
CHASE—Men’s Furnishings 10.00
GAMER—Tailors 32.00
KLEINER—Tailors 32.00
KIRBY—Jewelers 63.00
KNOX-RAY—Silverware 30.00
PACH—Photographers 24.00
PALLMAN—Kodaks 32.00
ROGER SHERMAN—Photographers 46.50

If you want any of this drop a card to the Business Manager, Yale Station, and a trade slip will be returned on the same day.


Brooks Brothers,
CLOTHING, Gentlemen’s Furnishing Goods.


Telephone Murray Hill 8800

The next visit of our representative
will be on April 6 and 7

Tremont cor. Boylston

220 Bellevue Avenue


A Story of Progress

At the close of the fiscal year, July, 1921, the total membership was 1187.

For the same period ending July, 1922, the membership was 1696.

On January 18th, 1923, the membership was 1905, and men are still joining.

Why stay out when a membership will save you manifold times the cost of the fee.



MARCH, 1923

Leader Maxwell E. Foster 181
A Drama for Two Russell W. Davenport 184
Five Sonnets Maxwell E. Foster 187
This Modern Generation Russell W. Davenport 192
The Soul of a Button L. Hyde 207
Book Reviews 213
Editor’s Table 220


The Yale Literary Magazine

Vol. LXXXVIII MARCH, 1923 No. 6






“... being firmly persuaded that every time a man smiles,—but much more so, when he laughs that it adds something to this Fragment of Life.”—Dedication to Tristam Shandy.

There is, of course, the Campus and Osborn Hall. There is Mory’s. There is Yale Station. There is the Bowl. Enumeration is unnecessary. That will serve well enough at the twenty-fifth reunion. For the moment we are affluent in detail, and comprehend suggestion. We still remember a great deal about Yale.

But there is a wistfulness about even specific memories that hardly expresses our attitude. For we take with us something we are glad to have. The Comic Spirit has quietly insinuated its existence into our point of view. Undoubtedly we have found cherished mansions set on fire and destroyed, but in general we have discovered the delights of roast pig amidst their ruins. You will find the Senior more capable of laughing at the serious than the Freshman. He sees the humor abroad, and is more sensitive to the divine comedy.


Comedy particularizes, whereas tragedy deals in the general. When one laughs one is beginning to see things in detail. In Freshman year one contents oneself with the infinite, but in Senior year one becomes concerned with the finite. The Freshman poet will write about Death and Eternity, the Senior about life. After all the latter is merely more sincere.

For Yale does not influence one to become a golden mean, or to idealize a mens sana in corpore sano. It has a more brilliant bit of philosophy than that. It satirizes the affectations out of a man, so that he learns the proportion of the everyday and of the eternal, and adapts his decisions to that proportion. He is capable of rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, because he has learned to recognize what things are Caesar’s. He has won his scales.

Seeing things in proportion is not materialism, any more than it is idealism. It is seeing with sincerity. Material things are not then idealized, and ideals are not made material. Each is treated in its own terms, the question of emphasis and relativity being left to the temperament. Shelley, for instance, in most of his writing, exemplifies a disproportioned point of view of life. It is not quite real, because it is not quite sincere. He died at the point where he was beginning to imagine balance. Chaucer lived long enough to find it and employ it in his art. He is the greater. For it is just as foolish to think that the soul is without a body, as to think that the body is without a soul; or to fancy a man as completely aetherial, when it is perfectly obvious that he walks with feet of clay.

I may seem to have maligned the Freshman, and the Freshman of feeling will be hurt. But I am using the sobriquet as generic. It really applies to most of the outside world. Experience there is a hard task-master, and only the exception finds mirth under her schooling. The majority there remain Freshmen always, lacking the knowledge of the comic. At Yale there are few who remain so. Ultimately they are laughed out of their position.

Yale has always fastened its banner to this criticism of life. For years it was “Harvard affectation” that Yale ridiculed. To-day[183] freaks are not seriously condemned; it is the dilettante who plays into the hands of satire. Insincerity is the unpardonable sin. But the method of punishing is humor. The world crushes the apocryphal with an iron heel, but Yale kicks it deftly out of a college window. It is the intelligent method. And naturally. For common sense has become almost a Yale idiom.

Maxwell E. Foster.


A Drama for Two

If men are dust, I do not understand
What women are. What language does she speak,
Who plays with me as children with the sand,
Who shapes me with a gesture of her hand,
And floods me in the crimson of her cheek?
Our fingers in our passion did entwine,
Like ivy growing in the lap of Spring:
A moment, and she was a deathless thing—
A woman? Nay, the spirit of the vine!”
“Ah, but I did not love to make him glad;
But, if I could, to make him more than wise.
I found, in the strange silence of his eyes,
The same unuttered fear that Dante had,
Lest Beatrice should die and he go mad!
And so I let him dream a paradise
Upon my lips; and with love’s quick disguise
Appeared in white robes and in roses clad.”
“I think that love is like a leaning sail
Swept toward a far horizon, swift in flight.
The seas are blue. But soon the wind must fail,
And all of Heaven’s will cannot avail
To keep the ship from drifting toward the night.
I am not sure of this: but yesterday
There was no eager passion in her lips;
And so I said, ‘My dear, we are but ships
Passing away in time—leaning away’.”
“How quickly do our blushes leave the cheek:
How like a withered ghost goes modesty!
I loved him not. The devil played with me,
And still plays on—instructing me to speak
In soft words—sounding truer in a shriek.
Would I had vanished into destiny!
Ah, God! When they pretend that love is free,
The women buy the freedom that they seek.”
“Of Beauty in immortal guise beware!—
For even women’s bodies are of dust.
I do not hate her, but I cannot bear
The subtle isolation of her stare,
As though she’d changed ‘I love’ into ‘I must’.
But in me there’s no sorrow or regret,
I am not by a jealousy distraught;
Love’s neither here nor there—for I have sought,
And found, and lost—and now I can forget.”
“Ah, when I told him everything, he said:
‘I love you still, but not as yesterday.
Life is a laughing art. Our passions play
So madly that it is in vain to wed.
I’m glad you feel the way I do,’ he said.
And had he washed my body quite away
In tears, I would not have had less to say.
I merely smiled, pretending I was dead.”
“Then where is Beauty, now that she had fled,
And where is Paradise without her arms?
Surely I did not know how much I said,
When I complained that the old love was dead:
’Tis thinking of to-morrow that disarms!
How her remembered hair makes sadness live,
And how her absent voice is young with power!
Yea, for the recollection of one hour
Turns the soul nightward, like a fugitive.”
“I find that being in the house alone
Is gruesome, for the worn and creaky floors,
The wind outside, the rain, the empty doors,
Sing with a wild and ghostly undertone—
Not quite articulate—but yet a moan.
Often I long for the white surf that roars,
Or for the rapture of the gull that soars,
Or for the splendor of a silent throne.”


Five Sonnets

Perplex me not with words I understand,
Nor gracefully demolish the unborn.
You tell me that my fantasies are torn,
But I have only written them on sand.
You answer with a gesture of your hand
Though I have asked not, I have only sworn.
Would you then burn green shoots with withered scorn?
My lady, you do waste your flaming brand.
I draw the pictures you desire to hide,
When you return such compliments for mine,
For love makes bitter poison into sweet.
And there’ll be memory, when our quick eyes meet,
To stir into a bubbling the gay wine.
—Which of us will have fallen in our pride?
But is it pride that motivates the play,
Or brings the climax and the curtain call?
—I question the new lilies that are tall,
For wiser than a Solomon are they.
But they have only parables to say,
And only nod against the mossy wall,
Pale blossoms of the sacrifice and gall,—
They do not answer those who cannot pray?
Their quick renascence from the tragedy
We do not act. We play the witty parts,
And do not veil with curtains our decease.
It is a trifle of a comic piece?
We wear upon our sleeves our naked hearts?
—Pride is not on, for we are two, not three.
But there’s the dialogue that must confuse.
It is not swift or brilliant otherwise.
We make a parody of paradise,
That it may fascinate, not to amuse.
I grant it’s a lost quaint, uncommon ruse.
But if it serves to open wide our eyes,
Would it be well to fancy or devise
New strange unheard of fables to abuse.
Love is a clever scene that you have set,
You the beginning, I will do the end.
—It is a bargain of an enemy?
Perhaps, but as a bargain let it be,
For it is fair I should not be your friend
—Now the dénouement of the cruel coquette.
You laugh again at this my imagery,
But I will turn your laughter from my soul,
Explain this love has humor as its goal,
That you are quainter than the simile.
You who have bound yourself so to be free,
You who will lose the part to keep the whole,
You who will quench with fire the living coal,—
O strange and unaccounted mystery.
Yes, I have flung you back your worn derision,
Cast to you all my precious, secret oaths.
Now as the curtain’s falling, take the applause.
Foolish to fight with bastard natural laws,
Even the ones that all of nature loathes.
Lady, you have the worth of their decision.
Charming?—A little long-drawn out?—or dead?
It matters not. Open the exit doors,
And let them out, and sweep the theatre floors,
The dazzle of the footlights takes my head.
—Good-night, and I shall totter off to bed.
To-morrow’s play? God, how these lines are bores!
You say it’s just the thing the crowd adores?
—It likes the pretty ending where we’re wed?
Thank God for night that is not made with lights,
Stars that are quiet, unpainted, distant things,
Wind that is dustless, fresh, and water-cool.
—Some day I shall give over my new school,
Permit myself the luxury of wings,—
Yes, I can hear you: “And a pair of tights?”


This Modern Generation

What is more exasperating, more insistent, and still more exasperating because of its insistence, than a telephone ringing beside one’s bed at two A. M.? There is indeed some doubt as to whether these modern appliances, together with the modern world which they purport to make happy, are not altogether out of place on this earth. In striving to be great, perhaps we mortals have obscured our immortality. At any rate, Mr. Harrow thought so, as he hurled his corpulent shape from the bed, crashed into the small table upon which the offensive instrument rested, swore, and put the receiver to his ear. A terrific buzzing ensued, and a vibration which was actually painful.

“Dammit,” he said, “hello, dammit.”

And now the reader will excuse us if we leave Mr. Harrow struggling with this all too mortal instrument, and proceed to an explanation of the causes of his disturbance; which task will require the remainder of the story for its consummation.

Betty Harrow lived with her father in this very modest house somewhere in New York City. The two of them were an affectionate pair, in spite of a large discrepancy in their characters. For, while the implacable gruffness of Mr. Harrow prevented him from understanding the youth and the beauty of his daughter’s emotions, still he was able to make allowances for what seemed to him too modern and dashing in her character. She filled a place in the old gentleman’s life which the death of his wife had left vacant. If Mr. Harrow had ever understood his wife, he was the only person that believed it. But there is a kind of understanding which arises from a tender and lasting affection, and which is really the main prerequisite to a happy married life. This Mr. Harrow possessed to a degree. He never tired of watching his wife manage the house, and never failed to kiss her tenderly, after an argument, even when his impatience had been aroused to the point of swearing at her. When she died, he felt strangely[193] that it was a rebuke. He tried to compensate by increased tenderness toward his débutante daughter.

He found this especially easy because Betty was the image of her beautiful mother. Indeed if it had not been that she possessed one of those intrinsically virtuous characters, in whom moral principles are realized quite naturally without a struggle and without being mentally formulated—if she had not owed much to heredity—Betty would have been spoiled by her father’s attentions. As it was, however, she came out successfully, being one of the belles of that season; and had since lived with her father for three years. She was now just twenty-one.

Of course, Mr. Harrow was not one of those disagreeable early-Victorian fathers who force their daughters into undesirable marriages; but he had nevertheless a choice for Betty in the back of his mind, and allowed no opportunity to slip by without a sly hint concerning the desirability of this gentleman. The gentleman’s name was Conrad, and he had lately risen to a responsible position in one of the largest of the down-town brokerage houses. He was noted for his cleverness, his cool head, and for the astoundingly impersonal way in which he looked out at the world. He was one of those “objective” persons, who, if any criticism is to be made of them, regard life with too slight an emphasis upon the heart. Betty liked him well enough, though she did not perceive those same virtues in him which had attracted her father. But she was not yet prepared to sacrifice for a man already past thirty-five, her present life of laughter, young love, and gayety.

Do not let me give you a false impression of this young lady. If you had seen her in any one of a number of “scrapes” into which her gay life had led her, you would, I think, form a very high estimation of her character. Clandestine parties in automobiles, with silly young men who know little beyond the recent baseball scores, and who really do not know how to kiss a woman—these kinds of things she had no use for. They bored her, and did not tempt her. Romance, for her, was much more artistic than this, and much more fundamental.

She had, indeed, managed to scare up a real romance which served, for the present at least, as an added enjoyment to a life that was already a happy one. Betty was cruel in such affairs.[194] She made it quite plain to her lovers that she was very much in love with them: but she never allowed them to approach her with anything more forceful than their eyes. And as her present favorite one day exclaimed to a confidential friend, “I might as well hang her picture on the wall and flirt with that.”

This exclamation was carried to Betty’s ears by the said friend, who, notwithstanding his vows of secrecy, was only human. A few days after the disclosure Betty sent the following note by way of consolation:

Dearest Charles:

“Monty tells me that you want to look at my picture, but that you haven’t got one to hang on the wall. I’m sorry for this; I don’t wish to lose any opportunities, even if it only is with a picture; so I am sending you the very best photograph I have, hoping that you will not fail to make use of it.

“Yours for the winter,


This note, and the photograph which followed it, astounded Charles, in spite of the fact that he was becoming used to Betty’s impetuosity. Yet, he reflected, he had only known her a few months and could be excused for his astonishment. He very dutifully placed the picture upon his dresser, and very dutifully made love to it. He liked to fill in the colors which the photograph did not reveal. There was nothing to distinguish them from other observations than a lover’s except possibly the hair, which was a strange mixture of brown and gold. The eyes were blue and large. And the nose had a peculiar curve of its own, which was extremely feminine. Charles sighed and decided that he would pay a visit to New York; for he was at that time occupied with journalism in Boston.

Now Betty was no more anxious to fall seriously in love with Charles than she was with Mr. Conrad. While the latter was somewhat uninteresting and unromantic, the former acquitted himself of those faults only at the expense of poverty and an unpretentious position on a Boston newspaper. Mr. Conrad could offer her everything that money could buy; Charles could only bring her those sacrifices which love often demands. She was no[195] more willing to save her pennies for Charles than she was to forfeit her freedom to the middle age of Conrad. And although she did not reason this out, she decided that something ought to be done in the way of intimating her convictions to both lovers. The direct antithesis which they presented amused her and gave her an inspiration. She would pit them against one another and see what would happen. Perhaps it was the restless tendency of her generation which made her want to find out what would happen. Perhaps it was the skepticism of the age which had entered her heart and had led her to doubt which of the two goods wielded the greatest motive—romance or a life of ease. Perhaps, in the true spirit of the modern débutante, she preferred empirical methods. Or perhaps it was merely femininity.

At any rate, she invited them both to dinner on the same evening, and noted with satisfaction Mr. Conrad’s apparent uneasiness upon perceiving the attractive features and the youthful bearing of the new arrival. She laughed also to see that Charles merely regarded Mr. Conrad as an uncle or as an old family friend, and had not, as yet, a suspicion of the true nature of the case. So she devoted the evening to Charles.

They were discussing the last Yale Promenade—for Charles was a Yale man, having graduated only a year ago. Conrad, who had never gone to college, leaned over with his elbows on his knees, and tried to enter into the conversation, though puffing nervously his cigar. Mr. Harrow was getting out the chess board, for he was an enthusiastic player, and made it a habit to challenge Conrad for an evening bout—usually, we fear, to that gentleman’s annoyance, and always to his disgrace.

“Christy,” said the old man, having set up the chess-men and arranged the chairs, “what do you say to a game of chess?”

The question was asked in this identical manner every evening, and Christy, who had never yet found the method of avoiding such elaborate preparations, invariably answered in the affirmative. This evening he sat down even more reluctantly, since he had no sooner begun to play than Betty delicately suggested to Charles that they go into the parlor to see the family photograph albums.

“That old gentleman looks as if he needed a rest,” said Charles after they were seated side by side.


Betty gasped. “Do you mean Christy?”

“Christy?—Is that what you call him?”

“Christopher Conrad of Wall Street,” said Betty, puckering her lips and making a serious frown. Then she laughed. “The idea of your calling him an old gentleman! Why—why—he’s one of my best friends!”


“And he’s just the kind of man to make a woman happy, don’t you think, Charlie? Plenty of money—and—a fortunate disposition.”

Charles flushed. This seemed something of a pickle. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t understand.”

Betty, having achieved that victory, sat back and opened a large album, which she presently spread out across her knees, and his, and leaned very close to him in order to point to the pictures of principal interest.

After many oh’s and ah’s, Charles noticed a distinguished individual and said: “There’s another man, I suppose, who could make a woman happy.”

“Why, yes,” said Betty, “that’s Uncle Alfred. But he’s the romantic type—like you. He hasn’t got a cent of money because he spends it as fast as he gets it. I’m sure Aunt Susan must have been very much in love with him before she married him.”

“Hm,” said Charles, “you seem to emphasize the economic side of things to-night.”

Betty looked at him quietly. “I always make a point of it when I’m with you,” she said; “but look here—that’s me when I was six.”

Charles leaned as far over toward her as possible, in order to get a clear view of the situation. She offered no objection. Presently they were talking very seriously about his future.

Suddenly Charles said: “I say, Betty, are you engaged to—that—that young gentleman?”

Betty eyed him. “Of course not,” she said. “Whatever put that into your head?”

“Oh nothing, except that you have been continually praising him all evening; and I thought perhaps you had some reason for it.”


“Well, I have,” she said. “I think you ought to profit by his example. He’s so industrious and calm and dignified. People all talk about him. We’ve sort of made a model out of him.”

Saying which, she lighted a second cigarette and sat back to look at Charles in a tantalizing way.

Meanwhile the chess players had been discussing very personal matters between moves. Conrad had suggested to Mr. Harrow, who knew his heart, that it was high time for a proposal of marriage to the young lady in the adjoining room. “Especially,” he said, “since she seemed to have her head turned by the attentions of this young man Charles what-do-you-call-him.”

“Saunders,” said Mr. Harrow.

“Yes, Saunders. He hasn’t a cent in the world, has he?”

“No,” said Mr. Harrow, “but you mustn’t be alarmed at that. If you had brought up a daughter, you wouldn’t be alarmed at that. Your move.”

“Precisely,” said Conrad, moving his bishop into a position of extreme peril, where it was promptly snatched up by the opponent’s queen. “But I believe, sir—and surely you must agree with me—that the better portion of a woman’s life is that which is devoted to the care of the home; and that your daughter—”

“Your move again,” said Mr. Harrow, who was now commencing the final drive of his attack.

“Certainly. That your daughter has seen enough of the world to realize the futility of flirtation with—”

“Hold on—that move puts you in check. Besides, Christy, it’s obvious that you ought to protect this rook here, if you want to break my attack.”

“Certainly. But don’t you agree with me?”

“Eh-what? Yes. But I’ll tell you what, Christy. This modern generation can’t be forced to do a damn thing. Haven’t I argued with her? Haven’t I told her she’d end up in a scandal? ’Pon my word, Christy, you’d better get a hustle on—check.”

Thus the party broke up, somewhat after ten o’clock, much to the dissatisfaction of both lovers, and much to Betty’s enjoyment. She was not surprised when Conrad called up the next day and wished to have tea with her that afternoon—alone, if possible.[198] “Why, yes,” she said; “it would be delightful. But one can never tell who will drop in.”

It was easy enough, however, to arrange matters so that no one could drop in. This she did. She was knitting in the parlor when Conrad arrived. He was resplendent in gray spats and shiny shoes. She asked him to sit down beside her on the sofa, and poured him a cup of tea. After this was finished, he began, quite abruptly:

“Elizabeth, you must have noticed that even during your childhood I have looked upon you, not with the eyes of an elderly friend—which might, indeed, have been the case—but with those of a lover. I have never been entirely happy out of your sight, and never so supremely happy as when favored with a glance of your eyes” (here he looked at her), “or a touch of your hand” (here he took her hand, which she allowed him to retain). “I have, of course, understood, my dear, that your youth and extreme beauty entitled you to—ah—your little fling in—ah—society. I have for this reason stood aside, and have offered not the slightest objection, either to your—ah—modernism, or to your—ah—gayety. But I feel now that you have reached the age of full discretion. I regard you openly as a woman with whom I am in love. And I ask you, humbly, to become my wife.”

If Betty was laughing she did not show it. “Oh, Christy!” she exclaimed. “I—I hadn’t thought. I don’t know. It is such a step.”

“Why, dearest? How would it change you so very much?”

“Change? That’s just it. I’m afraid it wouldn’t change me at all. I would still love dances and parties and music and Harry Fisher (here Mr. Conrad started) and Charles Saunders (here he jumped perceptibly), and cabarets. These things you can’t give me, dear. I should have to be such a dutiful wife.”

She looked at him in a manner which simply denied the words she spoke. He thought to himself “This is feminine resistance,” and sought to embrace her. But she pushed him away gently.

“No, dear. Think it over; you will understand then.”

They talked on for some time—Conrad very ill at ease, Betty quite delighted with the situation. She felt no compassion for[199] him. He was such a stupid man not to realize these things. After an hour or so he left, to think it over.

He had no sooner gone than Charles arrived, breathlessly, and wanted to know if Betty could go on a party that night.

She laughed at his young enthusiasm. “What kind of a party?” she asked.

“Oh, just you and I—down to Greenwich Village. We could go to the Green Wagon and dance and have a little punch—I know them down there.”

The temptation was almost overpowering. Ordinarily she might have gone. “Why, Charlie,” she exclaimed, “how perfectly absurd! How could I think of being seen in a place like that—alone—with you?”

Charles grinned, in spite of his disappointment, and said that she wasn’t likely to be “seen” by anybody she knew—“unless you are in the habit of going there,” he added.

“Well, I’m not! And I don’t think you ought to have asked me. I think it’s something of an insult.” Upon which she pouted her lips just a trifle and fingered one of the books on the table.

To Charles this seemed the extreme of perversity. He gazed at her for some time without knowing whether to become angry or humble. To most young lovers, the situation would have called for a certain amount of humility, inasmuch as the lady seemed to consider herself deeply insulted. We venture the opinion that the reader would have asked Betty’s pardon and offered his services in some other and more refined amusement. In other words, most of us with Charles’ meagre experience in matters of love, would have taken a healthy bite to the hook. But Charles was impetuous and possessed of a quick temper, which, while it never lasted for any length of time, often asserted itself in precarious situations. It had already ducked him into much hot water and had been the cause of a broken engagement with a young Boston girl, who, far from having Betty’s nice scruples, was too much devoid of them in the eyes of her lover. Meanwhile, we have left Charles and Betty standing there silent. And the former, being keenly disappointed (for he had come there to offer her nothing but the best intentions) suddenly looked up and said,[200] “Well, I’m sorry you see it that way.—So long.” Whereupon he turned and left the house.

You may imagine Betty’s surprise, which soon turned into anger, for it seemed that one of the actors in her little play was growing recalcitrant. She was decidedly not the mistress of the situation, since Charles had done this most unexpected thing. It was really horrid of him to react in such a manner. She boiled over considerably.

On the other hand, Conrad rose immensely in her estimation, because he reacted precisely as she had intended. As if he had received written instructions, he announced his arrival as usual by telephone, had tea with her the following afternoon, and said that “he had thought the situation over with extreme care, and had come to the conclusion that, in spite of his more advanced age, he was perfectly capable of supplying Betty with that life of gayety, music, and dancing which she so loved: in proof of which he desired her to accompany him to Greenwich Village that very night.” Betty was so flattered at the success of her anticipations that she acquiesced somewhat too enthusiastically, although she had intended to go with him from the very beginning. By way of making her acceptance a trifle more lady-like, she urged him to pick some cabaret obscure enough so that they would not be seen.

Now, in case the reader should accuse me of relying too much upon Fate in the relation of this tale, I had better acquaint him before hand with certain facts: namely, that Conrad, having made his decision, found himself at a loss to know of an obscure and poorly frequented establishment in Greenwich Village, which should at the same time be fairly respectable; that he had an artist friend named Peter, to whom he went for advice; and that Peter, who owned an establishment himself which seemed to suit Conrad’s needs, was an intimate friend of Charles Saunders.

Charles, whatever may be said of his good qualities as a lover, was not the kind to deny himself pleasure on account of a perverse mistress. In fact, her very perversity aroused in him such a craving to forget her, such a desire to avoid what he considered a sickly and unmanly pining, that he was driven to indulge in those passions, which, without the proper settings, the world considers[201] un-Christian. Charles would merely have called them unbeautiful. But it is a well-known fact that the loss of a very delicate and tender beauty, which we have coveted, leads us to madness, in a vain attempt to beautify anything which happens to be at hand. Thus it happened that Charles had been drunk twice since leaving Betty’s house (for that young lady had been too proud to relent), and had spent his evenings at his friend Peter’s establishment, called the Green Wagon, in company with Peter himself and a couple of not-too-respectable girls.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Charles had no sooner seated himself and ordered cocktails, than his gaze fell upon what appeared to him the most beautiful back in the room. He gazed at it steadily, doubting his own senses, which, however, insisted that the color of the lady’s hair was a strange mixture of brown and gold. He glanced at her partner, who was none other than the dignified Conrad, and who was leaning far over the edge of the table, tea-cup in hand, and talking with her earnestly. Charles thought that he could even perceive the reflection of her beautiful eyes in Conrad’s loathsome ones. Charles shuddered, and muttered to himself, and drank his liquor violently, ordering more.

Meanwhile, Betty and Conrad were enjoying themselves hugely. He had been very liberal, and she had taken rather more than she would ordinarily have considered prudent. Perhaps it was the fact that she was safe in the care of this old and reliable friend. Perhaps, too, she wished to compensate for the good time which she had denied herself with Charles.

“You know, my dear,” said Conrad, gazing at her intensely, “I have never enjoyed any experience in my life quite so much as this one. I must thank you for delivering me out of what was proving to be a monotonous routine. I could be happy forever, this way, with you.” Whereupon he took her hand, which she had placed carelessly on the table, and which she allowed him to hold. Indeed, she even gave his an affectionate squeeze, not realizing perhaps that even old family friends can be fools. We would, however, blush to set down on paper the thoughts which were now in Conrad’s mind. We fear he had attempted to transfer the cruel tactics of business into the affairs of love. For he saw plainly that there was only one way of winning Betty for his wife,[202] and that he could never do so while she was in her more rational environment at home. And although Conrad was not an unscrupulous man, his present plan could be considered little less than diabolical.

“You have been such a good girl to come out with me to-night,” he said—“to give me this little pleasure which I have lacked all my life.”

Betty met his eyes. She could not see or hear things very distinctly. Yet she was conscious that he had said something kind. She really liked him a great deal. She squeezed his hand again, and asked him to light a cigarette for her.

“Dear Christy,” she said, “you have always been such a good friend to me.”

Soon after this the music started. They rose to dance, and Betty allowed his cheek to touch hers; for although she was not in the habit of doing this with everybody, she chose to make an exception to-night. She had her reasons to justify this. One was that she wanted to show Conrad how things were done; the other, she said, was that he was perfectly safe anyway. Whatever motive lay beneath this we will leave the reader to judge. At present she closed her eyes and felt rather happy and a trifle drowsy. She was a little surprised, however, in the middle of the dance, to feel him tighten his arm about her body and move his lips closer to hers. This was so unlike the Conrad she knew—the dignified Wall Street broker. She opened her eyes and looked up at him, and smiled.

Her glance had no sooner left Conrad’s eyes than it fell upon Charles, who was not far away, and who was watching her over the head of his partner, with a look of dismay, and, as it seemed to Betty, even disgust. Her first reaction was one of terror. What a frightfully compromising meeting. Then she remembered how she had refused Charles an invitation to this very establishment, without any reason for so doing. Whereupon she hated herself for the part which she was now playing. She next looked at Charles’ partner, whose lips and cheeks were painted, and hated Charles.

“Let’s sit down a moment,” she said to Conrad. “I’m tired.” She changed seats with him, saying that she wanted to see the[203] dancers better. What was Charles doing down here, anyway, with a disreputable woman like that? And after professing to be in love with her! But he had never—yes, she knew he was in love with her! Well, she did not love Charles, so it did not matter; only she wished he had not seen her down here with Conrad; and especially after her refusal to go with him!

Oh, it all went in such hopeless circles; and here was Conrad trying to make her take another drink. “It will revive you, my dear,” he said, “and brace you up.”

She looked at him. “Thank you; I’ve had enough.”

What was to be done?

The dance ended. Charles took his partner to their table. He sat down, facing Betty. Suddenly Betty had an inspiration. She quite unexpectedly exclaimed, “Oh!” and waved her hand toward Charles, who, though surprised by this enthusiasm, responded with a laugh. He presently arose and walked over to their table, said hello to Conrad, and rallied Betty on the inconsistencies of Fortune, “Which,” he said, “will never allow the most secret conspiracies to pass unobserved by others.” Betty laughed and promised to take the next dance with him, “If Christy didn’t mind”; and Christy, scowling heavily, said he did not.

The next dance came, and Charles, realizing that Conrad’s eye was upon them, retired with her to a corner, where they danced in slow circles.

“Betty,” he exclaimed, “why did you come here with him—after refusing, the other day?”

She laughed. “Why, Charles, dear, how foolish. Were you offended at that? There’s quite a difference in your ages, you know. He is a very old friend of mine. And he’s such a nice, respectable man.”

“Hm. Well, to tell you quite frankly, I didn’t see anything very respectable going on during the last dance.”

Betty flushed and bit her lip, and would have been angry had not embarrassment overcome her.

Charles continued ruthlessly: “The woman I was with said, ‘There’s a happy party for you’, and I looked up—and saw—you.”

“Charles—” began Betty.


“Now wait a minute. Tell me one thing truthfully. Have you ever been out like this with him before?”


“Because—well, because I don’t believe you ever have.”

“No, I haven’t. But I don’t see that that has anything to do with it. I—”

“Just this. I don’t like his looks—that’s all. I judge men by their eyes, and I don’t like his eyes. They seem especially bad to me to-night. If you don’t believe me—”

“Well, I don’t believe you. And what I’d like to know is, what are you doing down here with that—that creature. I should think you would be ashamed to speak to me!”

It was her turn now to lash him, which she did, a trifle unjustly, in the manner of a woman.

“I see,” he said, “that we can’t agree.” He began leading her back to her table.

“You will perhaps think it over to-morrow morning. As for that fellow there, I warn you, he’s drunk and not altogether responsible for what he is doing.”

This ended the conversation, and they returned to the table in silence. Although he did not show it, Charles was overcome with grief. It seemed like such an unnecessary misunderstanding. He adopted, in despair, a bravado mood, ordered some more liquor quite loudly, and consciously acted as brazenly as possible. It was unfair to him to do this. Betty sat and watched him, on the verge of tears. She talked in an absent-minded way with Conrad, who was so provoked that he suggested that they return home.

“No,” replied Betty, “I want to stay until the end.” As a matter of fact, she could not tear herself away from Charles. She could not keep her eyes from gazing at him, nor her heart from wishing that he would stop. She hated Conrad now. He seemed like a silent, grim barrier between herself and Charles.

She would not drink anything else, but sat there. She saw Charles take the pudgy hand of the woman next to him. She saw him give her a drink out of the white china cup. She saw him put his arm around her and kiss her—passionately it seemed. Oh horrible, horrible! This modernism!

She felt suddenly ashamed of herself, as though she had driven[205] Charles to do this. She wished she had not come down here. But she could not leave.

Just before closing time, she saw Charles and his partner rise and make preparation to go. The other two members of the party remained seated. Charles never looked over in her direction, but took the woman by the arm and escorted her out of the room. They disappeared behind the green plush curtains.

The room seemed to whirl before her eyes. She arose to follow them.

“Are you going?” asked Conrad, jumping up. This reminded her that she had forgotten him.

“Christy,” she said, “I’m sorry. But, Christy, go and bring Charles back here.”

“I certainly shall not,” he said. “What business have I with Charles Saunders?”

“Please, Christy, I want to speak to him.”

“No, I shan’t do it.”

“Very well, I’ll go myself.”

He held her arm. “What do you want to speak to him about?” It seemed to her almost like a snarl.

“Something personal. You shall go.” She eyed him, and he obeyed.

She sat down and tapped a cup impatiently with her finger. Presently a figure emerged from the green curtain. It was Conrad. He crossed the now empty dance-floor at what seemed to her an infinitely slow pace.

“He’s gone,” he said finally.

She knew then, suddenly, that he lied; that he had been lying to her all evening; that Charles was right. She rose abruptly and almost ran across the room, forgetting her dignity. Pushing aside the curtains she saw Charles, with his hat and coat on, just going out the door.

“Charlie,” she cried—“Charlie!”

He turned quickly and looked at her in a perplexed way. There was not a trace of humility on his features, until he saw her distressed condition, and realized that the three or four strangers standing around were laughing at her. He was then overcome[206] with compassion and led her into a small hallway where they could talk.

“Is anything the matter?” he asked.

“Just you,” she replied. “You probably think I have had too much, but I am perfectly sober. Oh, Charlie, you—where were you going?”

“I wasn’t going home,” he said, looking toward the ground.

“Charlie, you can’t take care of yourself. You don’t know how.” She was much disturbed over the thought, although it was a new one to him. He had just been thinking the same thing about her.

She took hold of the lapels of his coat. “Charlie, don’t go back with that awful woman?”

He looked at her defiantly. “Why not?” he asked. But the expression of her eyes was so pitiful and so serious that his heart relented.

“All right,” he said, “provided that you won’t let Conrad take you home.”

Betty smiled then. There was humor in the situation.

“It’s all my fault,” she said.

“What’s all your fault?”

“Oh, I’ll tell you about it—soon—soon.”

“Tell me about it on the way home.”

“But Christy?”

“Oh, Christy be damned!” he said. “Here’s a back way out. You can get your hat and coat to-morrow.”

He led her down a long corridor and out into the street; where he took off his overcoat and gave it to her. They walked around the block and climbed into the car which Charles had borrowed for the evening, from the friend who “notwithstanding his vows of secrecy, was only human”.

Thus, when they started down the deserted street, it was after one o’clock. Christopher Conrad remained behind in the Green Wagon for nearly an hour, where he ordered a search to be made, at large expense, and strode imperiously up and down the room. At two o’clock he called up Mr. Harrow.



The Soul of a Button

Long ago, when I had just reached the age of walking and talking, a young lady friend of my own age was called by the curious name of “Buttons”. Possibly the additional touch that her father was the author of this, that he also called her “Butterball”, and that she was plump as all properly healthy young ladies of that age should be, will seem proper explanation for such a christening. But mere physical attributes can scarcely be hoped to give complete satisfaction, for the subject is one so much of the spirit that we might almost call it intangible. Little did I know in those younger years why my lady was called “Buttons”; little, likewise, did I care; for the name seemed quite suited to her. “Buttons” and the more formal, less Christian title which a minister had pronounced over her fitted this childish personality equally well. Indeed, how remarkable an artistic sense the girl’s father must have been blessed with, in order to bestow on his daughter such a charming sobriquet! How he could have thought of the romance in the conception buttons embodied so delightfully in his child I could never tell. A happy creative gift he must have had indeed, since meditation on this whim has inspired in no small measure the following remarks.

During the period when I thus heard the word buttons for the first time, my mother habitually dressed me in a white suit, white stockings and shoes. However much ridicule the white shoes themselves may have occasioned as I and my fellows more nearly approached the state of manhood, the buttons on the white shoes made amends. Occasionally, when my nurse was with a large button-hook “squeezing tight” a powdery shoe, one of these pearly buttons would pop off. She was in such a case forced to search out another one, for I at once engaged the attentions of the stray sheep. Have you ever imagined a pearly thing more beautiful, and therefore more precious, than a pearl? Perhaps on account of a semi-opacity and semi-transparency and yet a transcendency[208] of translucency—or perhaps it was the slippery smugness of these little objects that attracted me. At any rate, I was brought to wonder why father did not have one mounted to wear instead of his pearl scarf-pin. Possibly it would be too expensive, I thought. For long—I dare not say how long—they became of an afternoon the center of my observation. I would watch rather than look at their round surface backed up by a little metal ring. They seemed to live. But in the midst of such reveries one of the little things would slip from my fingers and, rolling along the edge of the carpet, disappear, for all I knew, in the way most fairies did.

Buttons were kept in a button-house—that is, the buttons which were not in contemporary use. The button-house on the outside was brown and oblong and said “Huyler’s Chocolates, New York” in black script on the top. But, though this might have at first furnished an allurement to the house, the shining interior sides and a sea of buttons—white, black, grey, yellow, blue, and green—surging over the bottom, invited continual revisitations which in the end caused a far firmer friendship, or love, to be formed between me and this object than any mere acquaintance could have brought about. As a violinist flees in dark moments to expression through his violin, a painter through his pictures, and a writer through his pen, so might you have seen a child poring over his little button-house, poking in a finger once in a while to stir the occupants to life, entirely absorbed. But had you peered in, you would not have seen what he saw in the little tin box. And I doubt if anyone ever will know what he saw. For I have forgotten.

With the discarding of childish thoughts and childish ways, one acquires boyish successors to these respective qualities. And so, after learning to dress myself, I came to the struggle of buttoning up clothes. My underwear gave me the most trouble. For who can hope, except by dint of great practicing, to engineer in a controlled manner a whole row of buttons up one’s back when, in the hurry of getting up, a trying task is presented even by the side ones. Although the appearance of these buttons fell short of attaining a standard of beauty worthy of present description, the sight of one (say a side one) at last becoming visible through an[209] obstinate buttonhole inspired me with no less joy than that felt by children at a puppet show when they see Humpty Dumpty suddenly burst forth from a covered box.

Aye! The struggle with these buttons gave them their meaning. Perhaps we may rather call them villains than heroes. Or perhaps big, plain-faced dubs with vacant eyes, hard to shove out of the way because of their very clumsiness. Yet in a temper one way remained—the sinful, easy road to Hell—the last resort—tearing them off.

A young man does not need to wait till his brass wedding anniversary (if there be such a one) for his first dealing with that deceptive, goldlike metal. He owns it first on his blue coat. Supposing the whole coat not to be brass, we will by elimination and hypothesis proceed to the buttons. A correct supposition—and more, for the brass is embossed with an anchor and chain, together with a crest or other insignia of the kind. These have the virtue (a) of shininess, and (b) of being like a policeman’s—or a trolley car conductor’s, bellboy’s, naval officer’s, etc.,—all of whom, finally, are pretty much policemen. Elders may presume such a coat—or such buttons—to be unhealthy since they tend to make the wearer stick out his stomach, to show them off. But critics must as well realize that this attitude increases the morale, and while mortifying the flesh, tends to exalt the spirit. Possibly the spirit in this case is not of the purely heavenly quality that some would-be angels might desire,—yet it is higher and more serene than the majority of sensualists would admit.

When Chris, the coachman (pardon me, the chauffeur) stalks into the kitchen of a wintry evening, mayhap to see Marie,—how could a person of the brass-button age be expected to conceive of the use of those great orbs stationed at intervals along the front of Chris’s great, fuzzy coat. They are mammoth. Their very size confounds one, especially since, in common with many great objects, preciousness of detail or surface and delicacy of effect have declined their rightful position in favor of a world of the gigantesque, to be widely wondered at. Even thus Chris’s buttons. But wonderful to say, they are useful. For after Marie had helped him off with his greatcoat, I tried to lift it slightly from the back[210] of the chair in the corner. My wonder henceforth was not that the buttons were so big, but that such a great mountain of heavy stuff as this could be held together by anything at all!

How broadly the influence of the button world is felt you have had as yet, dear reader, but little indication. In matters great as the height and age of a child and in the relations which, physically, at any rate, he may bear to his father, buttons are most subtle indicators. Thus when one morning my parents asked me to stand up beside my father to see how tall I was, we found among us that my topmost crest of hair reached the second button of his waistcoat. Feet and inches were no longer needed in the mathematical scale:—their place was superseded by buttons and buttonholes. “How tall are you, my boy?” I might be asked. With romantic evasion of the point and still with a certain exactitude I answered, “Well, I come up as far as the second button on father’s vest.”

Some day I hope to write An Historie on the Romance of Buttonholes. Buttonholes, however, are such unbodied beings and taken on the whole without their buttons, are such lonely objects that I fear lest the ambitious author should, in entertaining a morbid affinity for the Universal Desolate, fall a prey to his own affections and die of an heavenly grief. Have you never felt the pitiful sentiments put forward at the mere suggestion of the lost buttonhole? The classic illustration of this type is, of course, the one on the lapel of a coat. Perhaps the scholar will here accuse me of having incorrectly used the word buttonhole for a little slit fashioned to receive no button. In reality this is a buttonhole of many buttons. At the age when one is just too old to be spanked the aperture first becomes fully a buttonhole—it accommodates a youth with provision for his innumerable colored, enamelled buttons emblazoned with advertisements of charity drives, political campaigns, circus days, wholesale houses, and the like. The only visible regret on these occasions is that there is but one of its kind. In necessity invention presses even normal ones into service. Later on, this receptacle receives buttonhole bouquets from frail lady-fingers—fragrant forget-me-nots, spring flowers, or dainty garden nosegays. And in empty declining[211] years it may clasp only an infrequent bachelor’s button or an onion blossom.

About two years after the father-vest-second-button age, which would land me in the father-vest-third-and-a-half-button stage, I fell to wondering about buttons in a scientific way. Buttons were awkward. The world, I knew, had been going on for hundreds of centuries and men had discovered no more graceful fashion of fastening their clothes together than by these round discs, dangling ridiculously from clothes and yet anchored there with an amount of pains out of all proportion to the achievement. Furthermore the cloth was sloppy. The combination sufficed, you may judge, to drive any young neurotic into a very unenviable state. I fell to inventing. Pins would not do (this was an instinct). Hooks and eyes were worse still (I had experienced all too intense agony at the canniness of “doing up” mother’s dress). Sewing in for the winter was obviously unchristian. In a desperate, fevered condition of mind clothes pins, railroad spikes, patent clasps, a series of bands like a Michelin man’s, box fasteners, padlocks, rings, thongs, strings, and lobster claws whirled by as a giddy panorama of substitutes, leaving me at last faint and content necessarily with the extant order of things, yet peaked at the impotency of my inventive genius. After carefully revolving the matter in my mind, picturing many modes of clothes and corresponding sorts of buttons, I finally concluded that this whole section of the world—buttons—instead of falling under the rule of science, was an art.

In this manner I became artistic—such mammoth results do transpire from buttons. Whether this be the cause, or whether the grey years are dulling with their sepulchral dust the gloss of my golden hair, I know not. But I am now largely unconscious of buttons. They are only miserable little nuisances flying off and rolling across the floor at the most inconvenient moments. They are intensely realistic. How in truth could anyone, save a fool, suck romance from their marrow? Fie upon you!—collar buttons—but tread softly,—we will not embark there. One exception only to this indifference do I know—the comfort of sitting in an easy-chair and unbuttoning a tight vest. This sensation is[212] the most agreeable immediately after a large meal—say, an over-large meal. And however gross the indulgence, it causes buttons again to swim into my ken—this time on the side of mine enemies;—and as great ones indeed do they loom over me when I, by yielding to the order of unbuttoned vests, am constrained to think—

“... now ’tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from heaven
Than when I was a boy.”



Book Reviews

The Story of Mankind. By Hendrick Van Loon. (Boni & Liveright.)

“The Story of Mankind” by Hendrick Van Loon is an original and valuable contribution to education. Those who have read little or no history will find here a well-drawn picture of the life of the world and its people from the earliest times we know of. And those who have read much of these things will find the book an acute survey of the whole—a survey which sets off individual races and periods and changes in definite perspective.

Mr. Van Loon’s viewpoint of history and its presentation varies very radically from that of the average historian. History to him is no long list of wars and kings and papal edicts; it is primarily dramatic. Here before you are the greatest plots, intrigues, heroes, heroines, villains that you could ever imagine—now playing a comedy, now a tragedy, now a farce. No wonder you are startled to find your attention so completely held by “an old history book”.

But beneath this we find a more fundamental viewpoint. In the author’s own words you are to “try to discover the hidden motives behind every action and then you will understand the world around you much better and you will have a greater chance to help others, which (when all is said and done) is the only true satisfactory way of living”. Here we have Mr. Van Loon’s ideal as an historian; and the spirit which runs through the book proves how well he lived up to it.

As I turn back over the pages the treatment of three or four subjects is particularly significant. Another of the author’s precepts—“it is more important to ‘feel history’ than to know it”—perhaps explains why the chapters on the religions of the world are so impressive. That on Joshua of Nazareth, when the Greeks called Jesus, is indeed a unique presentation of the story of Christ.[214] And for the first time in my life I feel that Mohammed and Buddha and Confucius have ceased to be names—have become very wise men who actually lived and whose words one may well listen to. Napoleon is criticized very severely, but with unprejudiced insight into his character. The last chapters—those on the Great War and the New World—sum up all that has gone before. Mr. Van Loon turns from his backward glance into the ages and looks with all his optimistic philosophy to the greater drama that is still to be enacted. In all you feel the man’s sympathetic touch; he believes in mankind—in its past and in its future.

W. E. H., JR.

Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard. By Eleanor Farjeon. (Frederick A. Stokes Company.)

In these enlightened days when the past is a memory only and life but the illusion of our daily experience, it is rather startling to have a “grown-up person” talk to us of fairies, and magic spells, and the beauty of an apple orchard. Such things are all very well in the nursery, but really, now that we have grown wise enough to put away childish things—. So let this be a warning to all who by chance might read the first page of “Martin Pippin”, for he who once exposes himself to the magic spell of this fairy tale may well find himself an object for mockery by his scornful companions. At least, here is one man’s experience, and he speaks for many others. Mr. J. D. Beresford, who read the manuscript, writes in the introduction: “Before I had read five pages ... I had forgotten who I was or where I lived. I was transported into a world of sunlight, of gay inconsequence, of emotional surprise, a world of poetry, delight, and humor. And I lived and took my joy in that rare world until all too soon my reading was done.” A better expression could not be found for the fancy, the whimsy, the delicate beauty of this fairy tale. Its spirit touches in us a chord that is rarely awakened in our modern environment or in the literature of to-day.


To clothe her richness of imagination, Miss Farjeon possesses a richness of language most worthy of so high a service. Quite unconsciously you run across striking metaphors, most subtle bits of philosophy. You may look far before discovering quite as beautiful a combination of language and imagination as this:

“‘I am not so old, young shepherd, that I do not remember the curse of youth.’

“‘What’s that?’ he said moodily.

“‘To bear the soul of a master in the body of a slave,’ she said; ‘to be a flower in a sealed bud, the moon in a cloud, water locked in ice, Spring in the womb of the year, love that does not know itself.’”

There will be few who will not find delight in this fairy tale; and there shall be some, even, who will see beyond their illusions for a day and an hour and follow Martin Pippin where his fancy may lead.

W. E. H., JR.

Finders. By J. V. A. Weaver. (Alfred Knopf.)

Dramatic Legends and Other Poems. By Padraic Colum. (Macmillan.)

These two volumes are similar in intention and to a certain extent in method. Padraic Colum is attempting to communicate some of the nuances of Irish character and life, more especially as it is lived in the farms and villages of the countryside. Mr. Weaver, substituting the subway for the lonely roads, is performing the same service for America. Both poets use the language of the people with whom they are dealing, either because they believe it beautiful in itself or because it adds to their effect. The sole but enormous difference between the two men is in the measure of their success. Mr. Weaver, in choosing the American language, was admittedly under great disadvantage at the start. He was forced to assume a defensive attitude and as a result lost sight of most of the important things which constitute poetry. He seemed to think that the fact he was writing in a new language was sufficient, that he need use no fine discretion in the choice of his words in that language, or the manner in which those words[216] were arranged. We imagine he is trying to write in metrical verse, although few of the lines have meter. In short, the novelty of his medium was too much for Mr. Weaver. He was so overcome by the thought of writing in American slang that he forgot the essential elements of poetry. Moreover, if Mr. Weaver fails in his language, there is little other interest to be found in the book. His themes are as sentimental and inconsequential as ever.

But Padraic Colum is primarily a poet and only incidentally the exponent of a new form of expression. He does not take the speech of his people as spoken in the dull hours, but only when it is lifted to eloquence by the vision and poignancy of rare moments. He is a master of the words in his language, their sounds, their colors, their subtle shadings. Furthermore, the things he writes about, however local they might at first appear, have always something permanent and universal in them—death, poverty, thwarted heroes and remembered queens. Perhaps the first lyric, To a Poet, is the most significant in the book, both in its relation to the author and in its expression of the ancient problem of the artist and his race. He is speaking of his own people:

“White swords they have yet, but red songs;
Place and lot they have lost—hear you not?
For a dream you once dreamed and forgot!”

Despite the many fine things in the present volume it is greatly inferior to the earlier Wild Earth. Every lyric in that collection was cast in the same mood and attained the same high degree of perfection. Dramatic Legends would almost make us believe that Mr. Colum has abandoned the particular type of poetry which he can write so much better than anyone else in the language.

W. T.

The Interpreters. By A. E. (Macmillan & Co.)

“The Interpreters” is a product of the present-day groping for an explanation of man’s purpose on earth as conceived by the Creator and the instrument of government—or non-government—best adapted to fulfill this purpose; as A. E. has put it, “the relation of the politics of time to the politics of eternity”.[217] Like the rest of the world A. E. is not able to completely pierce the mist which conceals our conception of things eternal, so that this book is rather a seeking along a path illumined by the white light of a superbly analytical reasoning, and the path seems to lead somewhere.

It is A. E.’s belief that there is a spiritual law operating above all intellectual and physical laws in such a way that our affairs are linked with the vast purpose that the Creator has for His universe. This is not, however, a doctrine of fatalism, for A. E. believes we have control of our own destinies in proportion as we work in harmony with the Eternal—“I think it might be truer to say of men that they are God-animated rather than God-guided”. In this sentence he has precluded the possibility of interpreting his doctrine as a disguised fatalism.

A. E. is moving in an extremely rarified atmosphere in his discussion. To keep the book somewhere near the ground, he provides a simple mechanism. During a revolution against an autocratic world state two centuries hence a number of revolutionary leaders are brought together in a prison, where they devote the night before their death to a discussion of their ideals for the union of world politics with the spiritual Will. Each one takes a different stand as to the methods to be employed, one supporting socialism, another nationalism, a third individualism, and it is in the arguments over governmental forms that some of the finest logic comes out. The following quotation is an example, taken from Leroy’s statement for individualism: “You and I see different eternities.... It is our virtue to be infinitely varied. The worst tyranny is uniformity.”...

It is possible to call A. E. a visionary. Doubtless, “The Interpreters” was written under the press of an immense surge of inspiration, for there is much of poetical fervor in its pages. But it is for this very reason that it can hold us with the spell of its sincerity and the intensity of its philosophy. The world of the world has been inspired by visionaries, and there is a place for a vision to-day.

S. M. C.


The Eighteen Nineties. A Review of Art and Ideas at the Close of the Nineteenth Century. By Holbrook Jackson. (Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1922. $5.00.)

This fine volume, whose thrillingly beautiful format is alone enough to recommend it to any collector of unique books, is a reprint, with a few addenda, of a work of the same name issued in 1913. It is to be doubted whether the former copy could have been as effective as the present one which, with its clear, round type, and profuse illustrations, and magenta and purple covers, make up a volume that no true book-lover can afford not to own.

Mr. Jackson, intimately connected with British periodicals of note since 1897, the author himself of such noteworthy pieces as “The Eternal Now” and “Romance and Reality”, is admirably qualified to write on “The Eighteen Nineties”, a creative period in English literature, which for the quality as well as the quantity of its output, is second only to the Elizabethan era. He knew intimately the men about whom he writes, and whose work he appraises. In the admirable introduction he sets forth his aim as “interpretative rather than critical ... to interpret the various movements of the period not only in relation to one another, but in relation to their foreign influences and the main trend of our national art and life.” The following passage exemplifies as well as any the illuminating quality of mind that makes all Mr. Jackson’s comments valuable: “Anybody who studies the moods and thoughts of the Eighteen Nineties cannot fail to observe their central characteristic is a widespread concern for the correct—that is the most righteous, the most effective, the most powerful mode of living. For myself, however, the awakening of the nineties does not appear to be the realization of a purpose, but the realization of a possibility.”

The book deals in twenty-one chapters with every important phase of art and life that came into the crowded hour of the last decade of the last century. To the present reviewer, at least, the most substantial and most unusual interpretations are those in the cases of Francis Thomson, Rudyard Kipling, and George Bernard Shaw. “Consciously or unconsciously,” the author says, “men were experimenting with life, and it would seem also as if[219] life were experimenting with men. It was a revolution precipitated by the Time Spirit. Francis Thomson represented the revolt against the world. He did not, as so many had done, defy the world; he denied it, and by placing his condition beneath contempt, he conquered it.” Of Shaw he says, “he strove to add to the heritage of the race a keener sense of reality.... To look at life until you see it clearly is Bernard Shaw’s announced aim.... His sense of reality does not take reason for its basis. The basis of the new realism is the will.”

The predominating trends of the decade are summed up under the discussion called “Fin de Siecle” under the three headings, “The So-called Decadence; the introduction of a Sense of Fact into life literature and art; and the development of a Transcendental View of Social Life”.

Each chapter, with its astounding collection of facts, never pedantically, often brilliantly, and always intelligently presented, are brightened by comment that is often epigrammatical: “Wilde was the playboy of the Nineties.” “Aubrey Beardsley’s art would have been untrue had it been imitable or universal.” “The decade began with a dash for life and ended with a retreat—but not a defeat.” Speaking of Shaw’s wit, the author says, “It was the sharp edge of the sword of purpose.... Although the majority of those who go to his plays go to laugh and remain to laugh (often beyond reason), many remain to laugh and pray.” It is a sane book, carefully written, and clamors to be read—and read again.

F. D. T.


Editor’s Table

The Egoist was engaged to, or at least with a Silent Woman, so of course he knows nothing about it. And anyway, according to Ahasuerus, he had resigned. So that’s that.

But perhaps it was a little like this. “Wet!” “Not quite good enough.” “Mi-mi-mi-mi-ha-ha.” “Oh, come on...”—the interstices being filled with a long silence, by the howling of the wind, or what you will.

No chaos this time—it’s serious, this last “Lit”.—

Or perhaps the dependable, or rather, more dependable four were not all on deck: perhaps—perhaps—but then, Mr. Benson or Bukis can tell better than the enamored Egoist. Or perhaps Richard Cory—ask one of them if you would know.... It is of small moment now. Nothing matters any more. Nothing.—

“They are not long, the days of wine and laughter,
Love, desire, and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate....”

We have passed the gate. “It is gone like time gone, a track of dust and dead leaves that merely led to the fountain.” Gone.

Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.

Sic transit gloria Yalensis!

Yet must it be so, O Ahasuerus, Richard Corey, Bukis, Mr. Benson—must it be?...

Yale Lit. Advertiser.

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Catalog with book of rules on request




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Announces the Publication of

Poems of Arthur O’Shaughnessy

Selected and Edited by


Mr. Percy says in his remarkable Introduction: “The Yale University Press, thinking perhaps, with me, that even the most beautiful things perish if the opportunity for reading or seeing or hearing them is not offered the vexed and hurrying children of men, has undertaken here the pious task of making O’Shaughnessy’s finest poems accessible to readers of English poetry.... His best is unique, of a haunting beauty, a very precious heritage.... He had, as Palgrave put it, ‘The exquisite tenderness of touch, the melody and delicacy’ of his favorite composer, Chopin.... If I were passing the Siren Isles, one of the songs I know I should hear drifting across the waves would be that which Sarrazine sang to her dead lover in Chaitivel:

‘Hath any loved you well, down there,
Summer or winter through?
Down there, have you found any fair
Laid in the grave with you?
Is death’s long kiss a richer kiss
Than mine was wont to be—
Or have you gone to some far bliss
And quite forgotten me?’”

O’Shaughnessy died in 1881. Until the publication of this admirably edited volume, no considerable part of his work has been commonly available for many years.

Price $2.00.

Updated editions will replace the previous one—the old editions will be renamed.
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