Infomotions, Inc.Being the Story of a Poem and a Reminiscent Sketch of its Author Young Ewing Allison / Hitchcock, Champion Ingraham



Author: Hitchcock, Champion Ingraham
Title: Being the Story of a Poem and a Reminiscent Sketch of its Author Young Ewing Allison
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): allison; rum; derelict; bottle; treasure island; chest; man's chest; newspaper; verse
Contributor(s): Grobe, Edwin, 1927- [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 23,141 words (really short) Grade range: 11-13 (high school) Readability score: 54 (average)
Identifier: etext19273
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Project Gutenberg's The Dead Men's Song, by Champion Ingraham Hitchcock

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Title: The Dead Men's Song
       Being the Story of a Poem and a Reminiscent Sketch of its
       Author Young Ewing Allison

Author: Champion Ingraham Hitchcock

Release Date: September 17, 2006 [EBook #19273]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE DEAD MEN'S SONG ***




Produced by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier, David Newman and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
http://www.pgdp.net





    OF THIS LITTLE VOLUME TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY COPIES HAVE BEEN MADE




YOUNG EWING ALLISON

    --_A REMINISCENCE_




    [Illustration: _Photograph By Cusick._
                   Young Ewing Allison]



    "The man who wrote such a poem should not be unknelled, unhonored
    and unsung."

                                                     --_Walt Mason._




THE DEAD MEN'S SONG:

BEING THE
STORY OF A POEM AND A REMINISCENT SKETCH
OF ITS AUTHOR


YOUNG EWING ALLISON


TOGETHER WITH A BROWSE THROUGH OTHER
GEMS OF HIS AND RECOLLECTIONS
OF OLDER DAYS


BY

HIS FRIEND AND ASSOCIATE

CHAMPION INGRAHAM HITCHCOCK


_Incorporated with which are Facsimiles
of Certain Interesting Manuscripts_


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

1914




COPYRIGHT BY CHAMPION INGRAHAM HITCHCOCK

1914




IN THESE PAGES


A WORD SAID BEFOREHAND

    Explaining How a Certain "Chap" Lost His Temper and Found It Again
    Very Quickly.


DERELICT, By Young Ewing Allison

    A Reminiscence of Stevenson's "Treasure Island" Based On the
    Quatrain of Captain Billy Bones.


PICTURING THE INDIVIDUAL

    With Some Observations About A Man Whom I Have the Honor to Call
    Friend.


MAN AND NEWSPAPER MAN

    A Peep Into Personal Records of the Past With Some Comments of a
    Current Nature.


JUST BROWSING AROUND

    Excursions Into the "Higher Altitudes" With Something About the
    Books Up There.


IN THE OPERATIC FIELD

    Being a Look Behind the Scenes With Some Glimpses of a Pursuing
    Jinx.


BALLAD OF DEAD MEN

    The Same Being Mostly About Able Pirates And the Very Able
    Descendant of a Pirate.


IF THERE IS CONTROVERSY!

    Just a Few Bits From the Olden Days With Some Comment On a Certain
    Critic.


SOME CLIPPINGS--AND A LETTER

    Which Tells How One Who Did Not Know Set Himself Up As a "Chanty"
    Authority.


YO-HO-HO AND A BOTTLE OF RUM

    Discussed As a Chanty Entertainingly By a Mariner and With a
    Deep-Sea Flavor.




SUPPLEMENTING _the_ TEXT


YOUNG EWING ALLISON (By Cusick)                      _Frontispiece._

    A "Sitting" for Which Photograph Forms A Story Known Only to This
    Writer.


DERELICT                                     _Illuminating the Poem_

    Facsimiles of the Original Illustrations in _Rubric_ (Vol. 1,
    No. 1, 1901) to Which Certain Piratical Tints Have Been Added.


"A TEMPTING BAUBLE"

    Said "Bauble" Being a Check (to Cover the Cost of a Certain Book)
    Which Allison Returned in a Frame With a Few Comments of His Own.


YOUNG E. ALLISON (By Wyncie King)

    _Louisville Herald_ Demon Caricaturist's Conception of a Pirate's
    Poet, With a Cigarette Replacing the Customary "Stogie."


THE INFALLIBLE (By Charles Dana Gibson)

    A "Type" in Every Old Daily Newspaper Office, Reproduced from
    _Century_ (October, 1889), Illustrating "The Longworth Mystery."


BOOK OF "THE OGALLALLAS"

    Being a Facsimile (Slightly Reduced) of the Cover of Allison's
    First Opera Pursued and Captured By a Jinx.


FROM THE OLD "PROMPT" BOOK

    Page (slightly reduced) From "The Mouse and the Garter," Showing
    Allison's Characteristic Penciled Notations.


"A PIRATICAL BALLAD" (Words and Music)

    Facsimile in Miniature of the First Printed Verses of "Derelict"
    Published and Copyrighted by William A. Pond & Co., 1891.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Together With Certain Letters and Memoranda, Proofs, Mss., etc.,
    About "Fifteen Dead Men," in Facsimile of Young E. Allison's
    Characteristic Handwriting, which are to be Found in a "Pocket" in
    the Inside Back Cover of This Volume.




A WORD SAID BEFOREHAND


If a careless and uninformed writer in _The New York Times Book Review_ had
not hazarded the speculation in his columns that it was very doubtful if
Young Ewing Allison wrote the famous poem "Fifteen Men on the Dead Man's
Chest," the creation and perfection of which took him through a period of
about six years, the idea of undertaking a sketch of him and the stuff he
has done might never have occurred to me. While not exactly thankful to the
New York editor, I have abandoned a blood-thirsty raid on his sanctum and a
righteous indignation has been dissipated in the serene pleasure I have
found in expressing an appreciation of Allison's genius in this private
volume for our friends. God bless the Old Scout! In all of our intimate
years there has been such a complete understanding between us that spoken
words have been largely unnecessary, and so the opportunity of saying
publicly what has ever been in my heart, is a rare one, eagerly seized.

                                                           C. I. H.

Louisville, November, 1914.




    _THIS VOLUME IS INSCRIBED TO HER WHOSE FAITH IN ME AND LOVE FOR ME
    NEVER WANED_




    [Illustration]

DERELICT

A Reminiscence of "Treasure Island"

YOUNG E. ALLISON


_Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!_

                    (_Cap'n Billy Bones his song._)


Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
The mate was fixed by the bos'n's pike,
The bos'n brained with a marlinspike
And Cookey's throat was marked belike
        It had been gripped
            By fingers ten;
        And there they lay,
            All good dead men,
Like break-o'-day in a boozing-ken--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

       *       *       *       *       *

Fifteen men of a whole ship's list--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Dead and bedamned, and the rest gone whist!--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore--
And the scullion he was stabbed times four.
        And there they lay,
            And the soggy skies
        Dripped all day long
            In up-staring eyes--
At murk sunset and at foul sunrise--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

    [Illustration]

    [Illustration]

Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Ten of the crew had the Murder mark--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
'Twas a cutlass swipe, or an ounce of lead,
    Or a yawing hole in a battered head--
And the scuppers glut with a rotting red.
        And there they lay--
            Aye, damn my eyes!--
        All lookouts clapped
            On paradise--
All souls bound just contrariwise--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

    [Illustration]

Fifteen men of 'em good and true--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Every man jack could ha' sailed with Old Pew--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
There was chest on chest full of Spanish gold,
With a ton of plate in the middle hold,
And the cabins riot of stuff untold.
        And they lay there
            That had took the plum,
        With sightless glare
            And their lips struck dumb,
While we shared all by the rule of thumb--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

       *       *       *       *       *

_More was seen through the sternlight screen--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Chartings ondoubt where a woman had been--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
A flimsy shift on a bunker cot,
With a thin dirk slot through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff-dry in a purplish blot.
        Or was she wench ...
            Or some shuddering maid...?
        That dared the knife
            And that took the blade!
By God! she was stuff for a plucky jade--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!_

       *       *       *       *       *

Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight,
With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight,
And we heaved 'em over and out of sight--
        With a yo-heave-ho!
            And a fare-you-well!
        And a sullen plunge
            In the sullen swell
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell--
    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

    [Illustration]

    [Illustration]




PICTURING _the_ INDIVIDUAL


One of my earliest recollections of my friend and business associate for
very many, very short and very happy years, is a conversation in the old
Chicago Press Club rooms on South Clark Street, near Madison, in the early
90's, about three o'clock one morning, when the time for confidences
arrives--if ever it does. What his especial business in Chicago was at that
particular moment makes no particular difference. He might have been
rehearsing "The Ogallallas," or mayhap he was on duty as Kentucky
commissioner to the World's Fair. As a matter of mere fact he was there and
we had spent an evening and part of a morning together and were bent on
extending the session to daybreak. Sunrise on Madison Street always was a
wonderful sight. The dingy buildings on that busy old thoroughfare,
awakening to day-life, then appeared as newly painted in the mellow of the
early morning.

My companion knew something was coming. Our chairs were close
together--side by side--and we were looking each in the other's face. He
had his hand back of his ear. "Allison," I said--and I suppose that after a
night in his company I was so impregnated with his strong personality that
I had my hand back of my ear too, and spoke in a low, slightly drawling
nasal, like his--"Allison," I repeated, "don't you miss a great deal by
being deaf?" Now, it is said with tender regret, but a deep and sincere
regard for truth, that my friend makes a virtue of a slight deafness. He
uses it to avoid arguments, assignments, conventions, parlor parties--and
bores--and deftly evades a whole lot of "duty" conversations as well. Of
course I know all this now, but in those days I thought his lack of
complete hearing an infirmity calling for a sort of sympathy on my part.
Anyway it was three o'clock in the morning, and...!

"Well," he replied, after a little pause, "I can't say that I do. You see,
if anyone ever says anything worth repeating, he always tells me about it
anyway." Such is the philosophical trend that makes Allison an original
with a peculiar gift of expression both in the spoken and written word. He
is literary to his finger tips, in the finest sense of the word, for pure
love, his own enjoyment and the pleasure of his friends. There is an
ambition for you! With all his genuine modesty (and he is painfully modest)
by which the light of his genius is hid under even less than the Scriptural
bushel, he has a deep and healthy and honorable respect for fame--not of
the cheap and tawdry, lionizing kind, but fame in an everlasting
appreciation of those who think with their own minds. Almost any pen
portraiture could but skim the surface of a nature so gifted and with which
daily association is so delightful--an association which is a constant
fillip to the mind in fascinating witticisms, in deft characterizations of
men and things, and in deep drafts on memory's storehouse for odd incidents
and unexpected illuminations. A long silence from "Allison's corner" may
precede a gleeful chortle, as he throws on my desk some delicious satirical
skit with a "Well, I've got that out of my system, anyway!"

Allison has a method of prose writing all his own. If you could see him day
in and out, you would soon recognize the symptoms. An idea strikes him; he
becomes abstracted, reads a great deal, pull down books, fills pages of
particularly ruled copy paper with figures from a big, round, black pencil
until you might think he was calculating the expenditures of a Billion
Dollar Congress. He is not a mathematician but, like Balzac, simply dotes
on figures. Then comes the analytical stage and that he performs on foot,
walking, head bent forward, upstairs, downstairs, outdoors, around the
block, in again, through the clattering press room and up and down the
hall. When the stride quickens and he strikes a straight line for his desk,
his orderly mind has arranged and classified his subject down to the
illuminating adjectives even and the whole is ready to be put on paper.
Though his mind is orderly, his desk seldom is. He is the type of
old-school editor who has everything handy in a profound confusion. He
detests office system, just as he admires mental arrangement. I got a
"rise" out of him only once when making a pretence of describing his very
complex method of preserving correspondence, and then he flared: "It saved
us a lot of trouble, didn't it?" The fact was patent, but the story is
apropos. Allison was complaining to a friend of office routine.

"Hitch has no heart," he said. "He comes over here, takes letters off my
desk and puts 'em into an old file somewhere so no one can find them.
That's no way to do. When a letter comes to me I clip open the end with my
shears, like a gentleman, read it, and put it back in the envelope. When in
the humor I answer it. Of course there is no use keeping a copy of what I
write; I know well enough what _I_ say. All I want to keep is what the
other fellow said to me. When it is time to clean the desk, I call a boy,
have him box all the letters and take them over to the warehouse. Then
whenever I want a letter I know damned well where it is--it's in the
warehouse." It really happened that certain important and badly needed
letters were "in the warehouse" and so Allison's system was vindicated.

Just the mere mention of his system brings up the delightful recollections
of his desk-cleaning parties, Spring and Fall, events so momentous that
they almost come under the classification of office holidays. The dust
flies, torn papers fill the air and the waste-baskets, and odd memoranda
come to light and must be discussed. While wielding the dust cloth Allison
hums "Bing-Binger, the Baritone Singer," has the finest imaginable time and
for several day wears an air of such conscious pride that every paper laid
upon his desk is greeted with a terrible frown.

Musical? Of course. His is the poetic mind, the imaginative, with an
intensely practical, analytical perception--uncanny at times. He is
perfectly "crazy" about operas, reads everything that comes to his
hand--particularly novels--and is an inveterate patron of picture shows.
"Under no strain trying to hear 'em talk," he confidences. While such
occasions really are very rare, once in an age he becomes depressed--a
peculiar fact (their rarity) in one so temperamental. After the fifth call
within a month to act as pall-bearer at a funeral, he was in the depths. A
friend was trying to cheer him.

"Isn't it too bad, Mr. Allison," the friend suggested, "that we can't all
be like the lilies in the field, neither toiling nor spinning, but shedding
perfume everywhere?"

"That lily business is all right," was Allison's retort, "but if I were a
flower it would be just my luck to be a tube-rose and be picked for a
funeral!"

In all our years of association and friendship, I have never known him to
do an unkind or dishonorable act. He is considerate of others,
tender-hearted, sentimental. But, believe me, in "contrariwise," he is
flinty obsidian when it comes to his convictions. Shams and hypocrites and
parading egotists are his particular and especial abomination and when he
gets on the editorial trail of one of that ilk, he turns him inside out and
displays the very secrets of what should be his immortal soul. He is always
poking fun at friends and they laugh with him at what he writes about them,
which recalls one of his earliest and best bits of advice--"never to write
about a man so that others will laugh _at_ him, unless your intention is
deliberately to hurt his feelings. Write so that he will laugh _with_ you."

If I could have one grand wish it would be that everybody could know him as
I do: the man; the book-worm; the toastmaster; the public speaker; the
writer; the sentimentalist; the friend. Absolutely natural and approachable
at all times with never the remotest hint of theatricalism, (unless the
careless tossing over his shoulder of one flap of the cape of a cherished
brown overcoat might be called theatrical), he is yet so many sided and
complex that, without this self-same naturalness, often would be
misunderstood. That he never cultivated an exclusiveness or built about
himself barriers of idiosyncrasy is a distinct credit to his common sense.
He's chock-full of that!

Let us see just how versatile Young Allison is. Years ago--twenty-six to be
exact--he took the dry old subject of insurance and week in and out made it
sparkle with such wit and brilliancy that every-day editorials became
literary gems which laymen read with keenest enjoyment. Insurance writing
might be said to be his vocation--a sort of daily-bread affair, well
executed, because one should not quarrel with his sustenance--with
librettos for operas, and poems and essays as an avocation. Fate must have
doomed his operas in the very beginning, for despite some delicious
productions, captivating in words and spirit, and set to slashing music,
they go unsung because a a malign Jinx pursued.

While Allison is an omnivorous reader of novels and every other form of
book, which he carries to and from his home in a favorite brown-leather
handbag of diminutive size, he never had an ambition to create novels,
though to his everlasting credit wrote two for a particular purpose which
he accomplished by injecting the right tone or "color" into tales depicting
the inner life on daily newspapers. We of the old Press Club used to grow
choleric as we would read stories about alleged newspaper men, but a serene
satisfaction fell upon us when Allison's reflections appeared. They were
"right!" And while "resting" (definition from the private dictionary of
Cornelius McAuliff) from the more or less arduous and routine and yet
interest-holding duties of newspaper-man, Allison's relaxation and
refreshment come in studies of human nature in all its mystifying aspects,
whether in war or in peace; or in the sports--prize-fighting and baseball;
or in the sciences; in politics; in the streets or in the home. Or they
come from pleasure in the creation of essays on books--novels; of lectures;
of formal and serious addresses; of tactful and witty toasts.

From my viewpoint Allison appears in public speaking to best advantage at
banquets, either when responding to some toast, or as toastmaster. On such
occasions he very quickly finds the temper of his listeners and without
haste or oratorical effect, for he never orates, and almost without
gesture, he "gets 'em" and "keeps 'em." Knowing how little he hears at
public functions his performances at the head of the table, when acting as
toastmaster, to me are only a shade removed from the marvelous. Either he
has an uncanny second-sight, or that vaunted deafness is all a big
pretense, for I have heard him "pull stuff" on a preceding speaker so pat
that no one else could be made to believe what I knew was the truth:
that--he--had--not--heard--a--single--word--uttered!

    [Illustration: _A Check in a Frame Returned without Inelegant
                   Marks of "Paid"_]

Perchance as a character note, should be added here a line or two about a
work undertaken in behalf of a friend on a few hours notice for which he
received a reward only in thanks. This friend had contracted to write
certain memoirs but was incapacitated by illness and hung out the distress
signal. Allison responded, shut himself up for a month, and produced a
smooth and well balanced work of five hundred and fifty pages. Once I sent
him a check to cover the cost of one of his books but he declared the check
a "tempting bauble" and returned it framed. But I got a copy just the same
inscribed "With the compliments of the Author" which I prized just as much
as if I had paid for it with a clearing house certificate.

Physically he is of medium height, rather slight in form and, when walking,
stoops a bit with head forward and a trifle to one side. In conversing he
has a captivating trick of looking up while his head is bent and keeping
his blue eyes nailed to yours pretty much all the time. Around eyes and
mouth is ever lurking a wrinkling smile and its break--the laugh--is hearty
and contagious with a timbre of peculiar huskiness. His face is a trifle
thin through the cheeks, which accentuates a breadth of head, now crowning
with silvery--and let me whisper this--slowly thinning hair. Stubby white
mustaches for facial adornment, and cloth of varying brown shades to
encompass the physical man, complete the picture.

Such is Young Ewing Allison as I see him.




MAN _and_ NEWSPAPER MAN


Young Allison is a Kentuckian (Henderson, December 23, 1853) and proud of
it with a pride that does not restrain him from seeing the peculiarities
and frailties as well as the admirable traits of his fellow natives and
skillfully putting them on paper to his own vast delight--and theirs too.
What he gives, he is willing to take with Cromwell-like philosophy: "Paint
me warts and all!" To speak of Allison in any sense whatever must be in the
character of newspaper man, since to this work his whole life has been
devoted. And if I may speak with well intentioned frankness: He's a damn
good editor, too! However little our lay friends may understand this
message, aside from its emphasis, I rest secure in the thought that to the
brotherhood it opens a wide vista of qualifications to which reams might be
devoted without doing full justice to the subject. Today he might not be
the ideal city editor, or night editor, or managing editor of our great
modern miracle-machines called newspapers, but I have yet to meet the man
who can more quickly absorb, analyze, sum-up and deliver an editorial
opinion, so deliciously phrased and so nicely gauged. He who can do this is
the embodiment of all staff editors!

If I may be pardoned for a moment, I will get myself associated with
Allison and proceed with this relation. In 1888 he left daily newspaper
work to found _The Insurance Herald_, though he continued old associations
by occasional contributions, and in 1899 sold that publication and
established _The Insurance Field_. In the fall of 1902 when presented with
the opportunity of becoming editor-in-chief of _The Daily Herald_ in
Louisville, he gave up temporarily an active connection with _The Insurance
Field_ and in January, 1903, chose me to carry on this latter work, from
which I am thankful to say he was absent only three years.

Allison is newspaper man through and through and was all but born in the
business for he was "a devil in his own home town" of Henderson in a
printing office when thirteen, "Y. E. Allison, Jr., Local Editor" on the
village paper at fifteen and city reporter on a daily at seventeen. Up to
this point in his career I might find a parallel for my own experience, but
there the comparison abruptly ceases. He became a writer while I took to
blacksmithing according to that roystering Chicagoan, Henry Barrett
Chamberlin, who thinks because he once owned a paper called _The Guardsman_
in days when a new subscription often meant breakfast for the two of us,
that he is at liberty to cast javelins at my style of writing. And yet, to
be perfectly frank, I have always been grateful for even _his_ intimation
that I had a "style." Allison once accepted--I can hardly say enjoyed--one
of those subscription breakfasts------But that is a matter not wholly
concerned with his newspaper experience, which has extended through nearly
all the daily "jobs:" reporter and city editor of _The Evansville Journal_,
dramatic and city editor of _The Louisville Courier-Journal_; managing
editor of _The Louisville Commercial_, and after a lapse of years as
previously told, editor-in-chief of _The Daily Herald_.

Fifteen years or more ago, long before we dreamed of being associated in
business, Allison wrote me with the frankness that has characterized our
friendship from the first, just how he came to enter newspaper work. Where
he was concerned I was always "wanting to know" and he seemed ever willing
to tell--me. The letter was as usual written in lead pencil on soft,
spongy, ruled copy paper and that portion having reference to the subject
named is given verbatim:

    You see I lost two years going to school--from seven to nine years
    old. I was put out of all the private schools for incorrigible
    "inattention"--then it was discovered that I had been partially
    deaf and not guilty--but my schooling ended there and I was turned
    loose on my father's library to get an education by main force--got
    it by reading everything--had read Rousseau's "Confessions" at
    14--and books replaced folks as companions. Wanted to get nearer to
    books and so hired myself to the country printer and newspaper at
    13--great disappointment to the family, my mother having dreams of
    my becoming a preacher--[hell of a preacher I would have made]. I
    had meantime begun and finished as much as a page apiece of many
    stories and books, several epic poems--but one day the Old Man went
    home to dinner and left me only a scrap of "reprint" to set during
    his hour and a half of absence. It was six or eight lines nonpareil
    about the Russian gentleman who started to drive from his country
    home to the city one evening in his sleigh with his 4 children.
    Wolves attacked them and one by one he threw the children to the
    pack, hoping each time thus to save the others. When he had thrown
    the last his sleigh came to the city gate with him sitting in it a
    raving maniac. That yarn had been going the rounds of print since
    1746. The Old Man was an absent-minded old child, and I knew it, so
    I turned my fancy loose and enlarged the paragraph to a full galley
    of long primer, composing the awful details as I set the type and
    made it a thriller. The Old Man never "held copy" reading proof, so
    he passed it all right and I saw myself an author in print for the
    first time. The smell of printer's ink has never since been out of
    my hair.

Allison's newspaper years are rich with experience, for while he could
never be classed as a Yellow Reformer, his caustic, or amusing, or pathetic
pen, as the case demanded, has never been idle. Away back in the old days
the gambling element in Louisville fairly "owned the town" and he attempted
to curtail their power. They tried to cajole him and to bribe him and when
both alike failed, intimidated the millionaire owner of the _Commercial_
out from under him! He either had to sacrifice Allison or his street
railway interests, and chose Allison to throw to the lions. But he made Mr.
Dupont go the whole length and "fire" him! He wouldn't resign when asked to
do so. And of course while it all lasted Allison had his meed of personal
amusement. For no editor ever took himself less seriously. Prominent
citizens came with fair words and he listened to them and printed them;
bribes were offered and accepted only for publication; while threats were
received joyously and made the subject of half-whimsical comment.

As a newspaper man Allison prided himself on never having involved any of
his papers in a libel suit, though he was usually the man who wrote the
"danger-stuff." He had complaints, yes; libel suits, no. Dick Ryan, known
in prehistoric newspaper circles in Louisville as "Cold Steel," because his
mild blue eyes hardened and glinted when his copy was cut--the typical
police court reporter who could be depended upon for a sobbing "blonde-girl
story" when news was off--always said that when a party came in to complain
of the hardship of an article, Allison talked to him so benevolently that
the complainant always went away in tears, reflecting on how much worse it
might have been if Allison hadn't softened the article that seemed so raw.
"Damned if I don't believe he cries with 'em, too!" said Ryan. "If I had
that sympathetic stop in my own voice I know I'd cry during ordinary
conversations, just listening to myself."

    [Illustration: Young E Allison
                   _Caricature by Wyncie King
                   in Louisville Daily Herald_]

But of course the libel suit had to come to spoil an otherwise perfect
record. And of course it was political and sprang out of a red-hot state
campaign, while he was editor-in-chief of the _Herald_, in which his pen
went deep enough to enrage the adversary and force the libel case. Like all
political cases of this kind it was not a suit for damages, but an
indictment for criminal libel, found by a complaisant political grand jury
at the other end of the state--intended to cause the greatest amount of
annoyance and to die out slowly. By that means it costs the accused both
time and money while the state pays all expenses for the prosecution.

Judge "Bill" Smith, one of the greatest of Kentucky lawyers on
constitutional points, or rather Judge William Smith of the Jefferson
Circuit Court--because he has passed over now, taking his kindly and
childlike, yet keen and resourceful personality out of life's war for good
and all--Judge Smith told me the story of that case one night after we had
discussed down to the water-marks in the paper, his treasured copy of
Burns. And at my very urgent solicitation he transcribed the salient
features, not in all the intimate details of the spoken words, but with
deep poetic feeling and rare conception of their human aspects. He wrote:

    There are three poets in Burns. One is the poet you read; the
    second is the poet some mellow old Scot, with an edge on his
    tongue, recites to you; the third and most wonderful is the Burns
    that somebody with even a thin shred of a high voice sings to you.
    Burns is translated to the fourth power by singing him--without
    accompaniment--just the whinnying of a tenor or soprano voice,
    vibrant with feeling and pathos, at the right time of the evening,
    or in some penumbrous atmosphere of seclusion where memory can work
    its miracles.

    I was defending Allison in that libel case and we started off on
    the 200-mile trip together. We had the smoker of the Pullman all to
    ourselves, and after I had recited some furlongs of Burns to him,
    he began to sing "Jockey's Ta'en the Parting Kiss" in a sort of
    thin and whimpering quaver of a tenor that cut through the noise of
    the train like a violin note through silence. I thought I knew the
    poem, but it seemed to me I had never dreamed what was in it, with
    the wail of a Highland woman pouring plaintive melody through the
    flood gates of her heart. And he knew every one of them and sang
    them all with the tailing of the bag-pipes in the sound.

    I wasn't going down to practice law, but to practice patience and
    politics. I had been on that circuit for years and knew the court
    and the bar very well. So I said to Allison "Don't you sing one of
    those songs again until I give the sign." And the first thing I did
    was to bring him into touch with the circuit judge, who had the
    room adjoining mine at the hotel. He was a Burns lover, too; and
    besides as I had brought whiskey and as the town was prohibition,
    there was really nowhere else for the judge to spend his evenings.
    Soon we were capping back and forth, the judge and I, with Burns.

    I don't remember now--nobody ever remembers, after a cold, snowy
    night outside, between Burns quotations, hot whiskies, and
    reminiscences, exactly how anything happens--but about 10 o'clock,
    maybe, Allison was somewhere between "Jockey's Ta'en the Parting
    Kiss," "Bonnie Doon," "Afton Water" and "Wert Thou in the Cauld
    Blast," and the judge and I were looking deep into the coals of the
    grate and crying softly and unconsciously together. You see it
    wasn't only the songs. Every damned one of us was Scotch-Irish and
    we just sat there and were transported back to the beginning of
    ourselves in the bare old primitive homes of us in farm and
    village, saw the log and coal fires of infancy blazing up again,
    and heard the voices of our mothers crooning and caressing those
    marvelous lines, and behind them _their_ mothers crooning and
    wailing the same back in the unbroken line to Ayrshire and the
    Pentland Hills. And all life was just a look into yesterday and the
    troubles and the struggles of manhood fell right off as garments
    and left us boys again. That's what's in Burns, the singing poet.
    That is, when anybody knows how to sing him--not concert singers
    with artfulness, but just a singer with the right quaver and the
    whine of catgut in the voice and the tailing of Scotch pipes for
    the swells. It was perhaps two o'clock of the morning when we stood
    up, said "Little Willie's Prayer" softly together, arms on
    shoulders, and the judge remarked:

    "Allison, if you wrote like you sing Burns, maybe you wouldn't be
    here--but it's well worth the trouble!"

    I knew then there was no more politics to practice--just law enough
    to be found to let the court stand firm when the time came.

    The next night it was in the judge's room. Half a dozen old
    followers of the circuit were there on the judge's tip. "You bring
    your whiskey," he said to me, privately, "or there'll be none." And
    I brought it. And between Burns and the bottle and the long low
    silences of good country-bred men listening back through the soft
    cadences of memory, the case was won that night. I think it was
    Jock's song that did it. You never hear it sung by concert singers;
    because it has no theatricalism in it. It's just the wailing of the
    faith of the country lass in her lover:

      'When the shades of evenin' creep
          O'er the day's fair, gladsome e'e
      Sound and safely may he sleep,
          Sweetly blithe his waukenin' be.
      He will think on her he loves,
          Fondly he'll repeat her name,
      For, where'er he distant roves,
          Jockey's heart is still at hame.'

    If you listen right close you'll hear the hiss of the kettle behind
    it, and you can see the glow of the firelight and smell the sap of
    green wood in the smoke.

    Well, there were continuances; of course. It is never
    constitutional to throw a case of politics out of court too soon.
    We made that four hundred-mile round trip four times and, every
    time, Burns sat at night where Blackstone ruled by day. Never one
    word of the case from judge to accused, just continuances. But on
    the last night--the case was to be pressed next day--the judge said
    to Allison at the door, as he went off to bed:

    "I think you will be before me in a case tomorrow. If the worst
    comes and you demand your right to address the jury, the court will
    sustain you. And I advise you give 'em 'Jockey's Ta'en the Parting
    Kiss'--_and no more_. I know the jury."

    But the case was dismissed; we were serenaded at the hotel and held
    a reception. Driving away in a buggy over the fourteen miles to the
    railway station, Allison said: "There never was a prettier
    summer-time jail anywhere in the world than this one. I've been
    down to see it. It has vines growing over the low, white-washed
    walls, there's apple trees in the yard and the jailer has a curly
    headed little girl of six who would bring 'em to you and could slip
    'em through the barred window by standing on the split bottom chair
    where her father sleeps in the shade after dinner. It's a beautiful
    picture--but it hasn't got a single damned modern convenience for
    winter and a six months' term would have landed me there till
    January!"

I shall always believe this to be the most graceful, sympathetic and poetic
relation involving a legal case I ever heard and never will cease to give
thanks that my always strong and constantly growing admiration for Allison
led me to insist upon its transcription.

As soon as the trial fizzled I called on Allison at the _Herald_ office, to
extend congratulations and with eager requests for details.

"Well," Allison ruminated, with that ever present twinkle in his eye, "my
experience was very interesting. I found I had friends; and discovered
traces of a family unknown to history claiming direct kinship with
President Thomas Jefferson!"

When the "sports" brought about Allison's discharge from the _Commercial_
to stop his articles on the gambling control of Louisville, unconsciously
they added a forceful factor to insurance publishing and I might truthfully
say to the insurance business itself. I cannot begin to tell how much has
been encompassed in these twenty-six years, but our bound volumes are full
of his editorials and articles--the serious, the analytical, the
constructive, the caustic, the witty and the amusing. He created _The Piney
Woods Clarion_ and in quotations from that mythical publication put a new
light on the business. "Insurance Arabian Nights" which he declared were
"translated from the Persian," contained more of the odd conceits that
fairly flowed from his pen and these two series, with a marine policy-form
insuring the "contents" of Noah's Ark, concocted in collaboration with good
old Col. "Tige" Nelson (gone long ago, but not forgotten) are the classics
of the business.

During his insurance newspaper work Allison was once called upon to give a
public endorsement to a friend and very kindly expressed conviction that
had his management continued "all the interest of the company would have
been secured." When later on he was forced to criticise extraordinary acts
of this whilom friend, the endorsement was called up against him in a
broadside affidavit, which he promptly reviewed in the most deliciously
sarcastic editorial concluding:

    And we do not hesitate to declare anew that "we believe if he had
    been continued as president, all the interests of the company would
    have been secured." It was certainly not his fault that he did not
    secure more. Everything cannot be done in eleven months. But in the
    language of the far-Western tombstone it can be justly said, "He
    done what he could."




JUST BROWSING AROUND


One who has never read around the clock in a virtual debauch of novel
reading cannot appreciate Allison's "Delicious Vice;" no more can he
Field's "Dibdin's Ghost" who has not smuggled home under his coat some
cherished volume at the expense of his belly--and possibly someone else's
too! "The Delicious Vice!" What a tart morsel to roll on one's tongue in
anticipation and to speculate over before scanning the pages to discover
that the vice is not "hitting the pipe" or "snuffing happy dust" but is as
Allison paints it with whimsical but affectionate words, "pipe dreams and
fond adventures of an habitual novel-reader among some great books and
their people." These are the all too skimpy pages through which its author
rhapsodizes on the noble profession, makes a keen distinction between novel
readers and "women, nibblers and amateurs," brings up reminiscences of
"early crimes and joys" and discourses learnedly, discerningly and
entertainingly upon "good honest scoundrelism and villains." Every page is
the best and when the last has passed under your eye, you again begin
square at the beginning and read it all over. You are here only to have the
appetite spiced by one single gem quoted from the first novel for the boy
to read which of course is "Robinson Crusoe:"

    ... There are other symptoms of the born novel-reader to be
    observed in him. If he reads at night he is careful so to place his
    chair that the light will fall on the page from a direction that
    will ultimately ruin the eyes--but it does not interfere with the
    light. He humps himself over the open volume and begins to display
    that unerring curvilinearity of the spine that compels his mother
    to study braces and to fear that he will develop consumption. Yet
    you can study the world's health records and never find a line to
    prove that any man with "occupation or profession--novel-reading"
    is recorded as dying of consumption. The humped-over attitude
    promotes compression of the lungs, telescoping of the diaphragm,
    atrophy of the abdominal abracadabra and other things (see
    Physiological Slush, p. 179, et seq.);
    but--it--never--hurts--the--boy!

    To a novel-reading boy the position is one of instinct like that of
    a bicycle racer. His eyes are strained, his nerves and muscles at
    tension--everything ready for excitement--and the book, lying open,
    leaves his hands perfectly free to drum on the sides of the chair,
    slap his legs and knees, fumble in his pockets or even scratch his
    head, as emotion and interest demand. Does anybody deny that the
    highest proof of special genius is the possession of the instinct
    to adapt itself to the matter in hand? Nothing more need be said.

    Now, if you will observe carefully such a boy when he comes to a
    certain point in "Robinson Crusoe" you may recognize the stroke of
    fate in his destiny. If he's the right sort, he will read gayly
    along; he drums, he slaps himself, he beats his breast, he
    scratches his head. Suddenly there will come the shock. He is
    reading rapidly and gloriously. He finds his knife in his pocket,
    as usual, and puts it back; the top-string is there; he drums the
    devil's tattoo, he wets his finger and smears the margin of the
    page as he whirls it over and then--he finds--

    "The--Print--of--a--Man's--Naked--Foot--on--the--Shore!!!"

    Oh, Crackey! At this tremendous moment the novel-reader, who has
    genius, drums no more. His hands have seized the upper edges of the
    muslin lids, he presses the lower edges against his stomach, his
    back takes an added intensity of hump, his eyes bulge, his heart
    thumps--he is landed--landed!

    Terror, surprise, sympathy, hope, skepticism, doubt--come all ye
    trooping emotions to threaten and console; but an end has come to
    fairy stories and wonder tales--Master Studious is in the awful
    presence of Human Nature.

    For many years I have believed that that
    Print--of--a--Man's--Naked--Foot was set in Italic type in all
    editions of "Robinson Crusoe." But a patient search of many
    editions has convinced me that I must have been mistaken.

    The passage comes sneaking along in the midst of a paragraph in
    common Roman letters and by the living jingo, you discover it just
    as Mr. Crusoe discovered the footprint itself!

I wish I might tell the reason why no scoundrel was ever a novel reader;
that I might browse for the benefit of those who have never been translated
into ecstacies over "good old honest scoundrelism and villains" or describe
my friend's first blinding and unselfish tears that watered the grave of
Helen Mar, but these are among the delicious experiences of the "Vice"
itself, so sacred that other hands, no matter how loving, may not be laid
upon them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Allison has a very happy faculty of hitting upon titles for essays and
addresses that stir the imagination and whet the appetite. Probably the
best example is "The Delicious Vice" to which reference has just been made.
This title was more or less an evolution from an address delivered before
the Western Writers Association "On the Vice of Novel Reading" that started
a discussion lasting through one whole day. Allison is a warm champion of
The Novel as an institution, and as well an avowed and confirmed reader of
novels, which he declares are poetry in essence, lacking only the form and
rhyme but having measure, the accent and the figures of the whole range of
poetry. He says that in all literature--

    The great muse of History ranks first in dignity, power and
    usefulness; but who will say that at her court the Prime Minister
    is not the Novel which by its lightness, grace and address has
    popularized history all over the world?

At that time the word "microbe" and the theory of its significance was in
the full swell of popular use. Allison took it to illustrate the essence of
spiritual intellectuality struggling against the swarming bacteria of
animalism that made up the rest of the human body controlled by the brain.
He pointed out that the difference between types of brains was two ounces
of grayish pulp, almost wholly absent in the unthinking herd of men. But it
enlarged in gradually lessening groups of men to the intellectual few that
dominate thought, thus:

    The microbe that might have become glorious ounces of brain has
    been content at first to become merely a little wart of pulp, which
    finds expression in skill and quickness and more of coveted
    leisure. There is the next higher terrace and another and another,
    until finally it becomes a pyramid, ever more fragile and
    symmetrical, the apex of which is a delicate spire, where the
    purest intellects are elevated to an ever increasing height in ever
    decreasing numbers, until in the dizzy altitude above the groveling
    base below they are wrapped little by little in the cold solitude
    of incarnate genius burning like suns with their own essence. It is
    so far up that the eyes deceive and men dispute who it is that
    stands at the top, but, whoever he may be, he has carried by the
    force of strength, determination and patient will, the whole swarm
    of his evil bacteria with him. They swarm through every terrace
    below, increasing in force as the pyramid enlarges downward. It is
    the pyramidal bulk of human nature with its finest brain, true to
    anatomic principles, at the top. That radiance at the summit is the
    delight and the aspiration of all below.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: _The Infallible--Type of Handy Man formerly in
                   every Newspaper Office. Century, 1889_]

As an active, enthusiastic and successful newspaper man, every time Allison
read a novel depicting the reporter as a sharp-featured and
half-disreputable young man running about with pencil and note-book in hand
and making himself personally and professionally obnoxious, it produced
apoplectic tendencies that permanently threatened health and peace of mind.
Hence with the characteristic energy devoted to writing, he proceeded to
get it out of his system and produced "The Longworth Mystery," published in
_Century_,[1] (which it is interesting to note was illustrated by Charles
Dana Gibson who then signed himself "C. D. Gibson"), and "The Passing of
Major Kilgore," appearing in _Lippincott's_,[2] both depicting newspaper
life. When this latter novelette was printed it soothed me so that I had
the paper covers protected with more permanent boards and sent it on many
pilgrimages from which it safely returned enriched with further messages of
thanks to the creator for his good job. Having browsed deeply behind the
bindings of many books I have yet to find others written in the first
person, where the pronoun "I" is used by the relator so seldom as in either
"The Longworth Mystery" or "The Passing of Major Kilgore," the intimacy of
the relation the while being maintained very adroitly by the observations
of the "City Editor" who tells both stories. Major Kilgore in the latter
tale, is financial man on the _Banner_. He is an old school gentleman and
profound student of finances who finally goes mad over the study of the
market and while dreaming himself possessed of vast wealth, is seeking to
further the happiness of others where riches will assist. Of course the
denouement shattered many sumptuous air castles but it left the profession
the richer by a faithful portrayal. It is in the development of this tale
that Allison, ever seeking an opportunity to draw amusement from his
friends, created a fine occasion through a reminiscent conversation between
Major Kilgore and Colonel Hamilton to inject a famous Southern quartette,
Clarence Knowles, Col. John D. Young, James A. Thomas and Col. W. C.
Nelson, then in their prime, but who have since passed on to swell the
silent throng. Colonel Hamilton is trying to divert Major Kilgore, already
showing signs of mental unbalance:

    "Some of the fellows we knew in the C. S. A. have had queer luck in
    the shuffle, Kilgore. You remember Knowles of Georgia? I found him
    keeping bar in Sacramento. Young of North Carolina, who led that
    charge at Fredericksburg, is running a restaurant in Colorado; and
    Thomas, of Tennessee--by the Lord Harry, he killed himself with
    drink working in a mine in Arizona--had the jim-jams seven times
    they say and thought his head was a rabbit's nest. Last time I saw
    you riled, Kilgore, was that night in the trenches at
    Fredericksburg when Nelson hid your tobacco bag. You wanted to
    fight him, by the Lord Harry, there and then, but he wouldn't do
    it--because he said he would rather kill Yankees than gentlemen.
    And you both agreed to take your chances next day on a fool trial
    which would fight the Yankees best!"

    [1] Century, October, 1889.

    [2] Lippincott's January, 1892.

Only one who knows Allison intimately can measure the delight, expressed in
chuckles of joy, with which he marked this passage in _Lippincott's_ and
mailed copies to the friends he had whimsically pilloried.

       *       *       *       *       *

When one browses around among Allison's productions he runs across many odd
conceits as in "The Ballad of Whiskey Straight" which he declares was
"prepared according to the provisions of the Pure Food Law, approved 1906."
Whatever quarrel one might have with the subject itself, or the sentiment,
he cannot fail to fall a victim to the soft cadences of the rippling rhyme.


  THE BALLAD OF WHISKEY STRAIGHT.

                I

          Let dreamers whine
          Of the pleasures of wine
      For lovers of soft delight;
          But this is the song
          Of a tipple that's strong--
      For men who must toil and fight.
          Now the drink of luck
          For the man full of pluck
      Is easy to nominate:
          It's the good old whiskey of old Kentuck,
          And you always drink it straight.

                II

          A julep's tang
          Will diminish the pang
      Of an old man's dream of yore,
          When meadows were green
          And the brook flowed between
      The hills he will climb no more;
          But the drink of luck
          For the youth of good pluck,
      Who can stare in the eye of fate,
          Is the good old whiskey of old Kentuck
          And invariably straight.

                III

          So here's to the corn
          That is growing this morn
      All tasselled and gold and gay!
          And the old copper still
          In the sour mash mill
      By the spring on the turnpike gray!
          May the fount of luck
          For the man full of pluck
      Flow ever without abate
          With the good old whiskey of old Kentuck,
          And strong and pure and straight.

                 ENVOY

  Old straight whiskey! That is the drink of life--
  Consolation, family, friends and wife!
      So make your glasses ready,
      Pour fingers three, then--steady!
  "Here's good luck to Kentucky and whiskey straight!"

       *       *       *       *       *

No one, like Allison, who has made the newspaper profession a life work,
has failed to study its weak spots and to note its imperfections; or on the
other hand, to grasp its marvelous opportunities for studying the wonderful
mystery of the variations of human nature. In the very essence of things
therefore, he recognizes the human elements in his own profession and does
not hold that the newspaper man is perfect or that it does not harbor types
of black sheep the likes of which may not be found in other flocks. At the
same time nothing raises his gorge quicker than to hear the uninformed or
unthinking deliver themselves, parrot-like, of the formula "that's only a
newspaper lie" or to see some man climb high by the aid of the newspaper
and then kick down the ladder by which he rose. Allison once discussed this
subject skillfully in an address on "Newspaper Men and Other Liars" which
is worth a half-hour of any man's time. The only difficulty would be
experienced in finding a copy, for so far as known, I have the only one
extant. Allison believes and says that by the very nature of his occupation
and training the newspaper man is the least of liars among men and proves
to his own complete satisfaction that the reporter gets his undeserved
reputation for lying from his very impersonality--an impersonality that may
be condemned with perfect safety. Fact, he declares, is a block of granite
that the whole world may see without wrangling over, but once inject the
human interest, with its divided opinions, into the occult mystery of the
printed type and you have the newspaper "lie" in so many of its aspects, an
analysis that leads him to arrive at this rather remarkable deduction:

    I might almost define a lie as being the narrative of a human event
    that had been printed.

And what about a comparison of those "other" liars with the newspaper man?
Allison makes it very adroitly this way:

    Suppose every word that every member of this intelligent and most
    respectable audience has said today:--the merchant to his customers
    and creditors; the man of leisure to his cronies and companions,
    the professional man to his clients; even the ladies to their bosom
    friends at tea or euchre--suppose, I say, that every word you had
    uttered had been taken down by some marvelous mechanical
    contrivance, and should be published verbatim tomorrow morning with
    your names attached showing just what each of you had said. What do
    you think would happen? I can tell you from observation. You would
    likely spend next year explaining, denying, apologizing and
    repenting. Suits for slander would appear on the courthouse shelves
    as thick as blackberries in August. There would be friendships
    shattered, confidences dissipated, feuds established, social
    anarchy enthroned and perhaps this admirable club could never hold
    another meeting for lack of a quorum of members willing to meet
    each other in one room.

Well, browsing time is up! I wish I might open the pages of other gems and
quote from their wit, their satire and their sentiment, but any reference
to Allison's productions must of very necessity touch only the high spots
and besides that--

This volume wouldn't be big enough!




IN _the_ OPERATIC FIELD


Did I remark in some preceding breath that Allison is more or less "dippy"
over music? Well, the statement, though made kindly, is severely and
unqualifiedly true and whenever there is "big music" in town I can always
find him in a front seat where he won't miss a single note. This inherent
love of music was what first led him to listen by the hour to Henry Waller
at the piano and later into setting words to Waller's big creations. When
Philip Sousa was in Louisville five or six years ago and told Allison that
the time was ripe to revive "The Ogallallas," which embraced, he said, some
of the finest music he had ever heard, I inquired of Waller's whereabouts.
"Heaven knows!" Allison replied, "And I wish I did, too!" Some years prior
to that time they had "lost" each other; that is, Allison lost Waller.

Henry Waller was the adopted son of Mrs. Scott Siddons, the English actress
and dramatic reader--a famous beauty. He had been an infant prodigy as a
pianist, but was overdriven by his father and Mrs. Siddons intervened and
bought his freedom. She sent him to Woolwich Academy, the great Royal
Artillery and Engineering School of Great Britain, where, curiously enough
for a musician, he graduated at the head of his class in mathematics.
Waller was a class-mate and friend of the ill-fated Prince Imperial of
France, killed by the Zulus, and afterwards spent three years in Franz
Liszt's house as the master's pupil. Strangely enough, too, Waller's piano
performances on the stage were almost mediocre, but to private audiences of
those known to be appreciative, he was a tireless marvel. Allison was a
frequent visitor at Waller's quarters and here his idea germinated for an
American opera. At that time he had no intention of writing the libretto
but, after outlining the plot, at Waller's urgent request he wrote the
scenario. Waller was enthused by Allison, the past master in creating
enthusiasm, to a point where he had entered into its spirit and was
composing great accompanying music, so there was nothing left for him but
to complete the job. While they worked together the mode of procedure was
about this: Allison would sketch out an idea and raise Waller to a seventh
heaven over some dramatic scene until he struck fire and evolved its
musical conception. Whereupon Allison would fit words to the music. So "The
Ogallallas" was completed, submitted to The Bostonians, accepted at once,
rehearsed in New York, Washington and Chicago, making its first public bow
at the Columbia Theatre in the latter city in 1893, where I heard it. The
plot is simple enough and is all worked out in the opening conversation of
the "Scouts" while waiting for their leader. Here it is:

    _Joe._ So, then, you know all about this errand of ours?

    _Wickliffe._ As much as you do. I know that General Belcher sent a
    messenger, asking Deadshot to provide a safe escort for Professor
    Andover, of Boston, and a party of ladies, to Lone Star Ranch.
    Andover declined a military escort, but Belcher, notwithstanding
    the country is quiet, wants us to see them safely through.

    _Joe._ Yes, that's it; but who are Professor Andover and his party?

    _Wickliffe._ Boston people; with a mission to regenerate the world,
    Indians especially.

    _Joe._ Well, I should think Deadshot would like his errand. He is a
    Boston man I've always understood.

    _Wickliffe._ Yes. He came out here with me ten years ago, just out
    of college, rich, adventurous and restless. City life was too tame
    for Arthur Cambridge. You know how he took to the life of a scout,
    and now, under the name of Captain Deadshot, he is the most famous
    Indian fighter and scout on the plains.

    [Illustration: _Title Page, Book of "The Ogallallas"_]

Imagination could finish the story, but the old, old Beadle Dime Novel of
the Scout, the Girl and the Redskins--capture, threatened death, beautiful
Indian maidens, villain, hero, heroine and rescue, "You set fire to the
girl and I'll take care of the house"--excellently executed in dialogue and
verse, briefly represent the whole thing. The cast of characters in the
first night's production, February 16, 1893, which was widely reviewed and
complimented by the critics in next day's Chicago dailies, was as follows:


  CAST OF CHARACTERS.

  Arthur Cambridge, known as Captain Deadshot              Tom Karl
  Professor Andover, a philanthropist                H. C. Barnabee
  War Cloud, chief of the Ogallallas                 W. H. McDonald
  Cardenas, a Mexican bandit                          Eugene Cowles
  Mississinewa, medicine man of Ogallallas       George Frothingham
  Wickliffe          }          {                        Peter Lang
  Buckskin Joe       }  Scouts  {                     Clem Herschel
  Commander United States forces                      W. A. Howland
  Edith, niece and ward of Professor Andover      Camille D'Arville
  Minnetoa, an Indian girl                          Flora Finlayson
  Miss Hepzibah Small, Edith's governess         Josephine Bartlett
  Kate, friend of Edith                           Lillian Hawthorne
  Cosita, a Mexican girl                             Lola Hawthorne
  Laura, friend of Edith                              Georgie Newel

"Bill" MacDonald, the big baritone, as "War Cloud," seized the opportunity
of his life. He almost ran away with the piece and anyone ever after, who
would say "Ogallallas" could get a conversation out of him that would wind
up with "that was the greatest stuff ever written." When costumed and
wearing the Chief's head-dress (old-timers may recall having observed it
hanging in Harry Ballard's city room of the _Chicago Inter-Ocean_, at
Madison and Dearborn) MacDonald boomed out the War Song of the Ogallallas,
he scored the big hit of the opera.


  WAR SONG OF THE OGALLALLAS.

  Great is the warrior of the Ogallallas,
  Fearless his heart is and great is his glory.
  Lighted my war-fires and hill-tops flaming
  Red to the skies, arouse all my braves.
  In the air the swelling war-cry--
  In the air that swelling cry--
  Wildest sound to combat calling,
  Swift the onset in the lust of war.

      Shrill is the cry of the wolf
      As he howls in the moonlight,
      Shrill is the sound of the war-cry--
          Ogallalla! Ogallalla!

  Lo! where the warriors, trailing their lances,
  Sweep o'er the plain upon resistless steeds!
  There, on the trail, vengeance is launching
  Swift as the arrow upon the hated foe.
  In their hearts the whispered war-cry--
  In their hearts that wailing cry.
  Low the sound of vengeance breathing.
  Ride they boldly in the thrill of war.

      Low is the cry of the bird
      As he chants in the moonlight,
      Low is the sound of the war-cry--
          Ogallalla! Ogallalla!

  Great are the warriors of the Ogallallas!
  Strong of arm and fearless of danger,
  Where wait the foemen--
  Warriors will meet them where the white sun
  Is burning on the plain.
  In the air resounds the war-cry--
  In the air resounds that cry.
  Wildest sound to combat calling,
  Bold the onset of the warriors charge.

      Shrill is the cry of the wolf
      As he howls in the moonlight,
      Shrill is the sound of the war-cry--
          Ogallalla! Ogallalla!

Mr. Barnabee (Professor Andover--dignified, staid and circumscribed; a
misogynist if there ever was one) took huge delight in accentuating the
satire of his character's advice to the bevy of school girls in his charge
to--


  BEWARE OF LOVE.

  Whoever heard of Homer making sonnets to an eye-brow?
      Or Aristotle singing to a maiden with his lute?
  Imagine wise old Plato, with his pale and massive high-brow.
      Wrinkling it by thinking how his love he'd prosecute;
  Do you think Professor Agassiz learned all he knew by sighing?
      Or that Mr. Herbert Spencer thought out ethics at a ball?
  If our own lamented Emerson of love had been a-dying,
      We never should have heard of his philosophy at all.

  Can love teach youthful maidens anything at all of Botany?
      Or Mathematics cause a thrill erotic in the heart?
  Will flirting give a lady brains--if she hasn't got any?--
      Or solve the esoteric problems hid in Ray's Third Part?
  You may lose yourself completely in pursuing Etiology,
      Or safely throw yourself away upon a Cubic Rule;
  But nowhere else in nature will you find such useless "ology,"
      As in a man who's dead in love and makes himself a fool.

Quite in contrast, is the delicate little waltz song of Edith's (Camille
D'Arville) in which the ring of the blue bells sounds the gladsomeness of
springtime and the intoxication of love.


  THE BREATH OF MAY.

  Ah! The breath of May!
      Never was wine
      Half so divine;
      Never the air
      As fresh or as fair.
  Ah! Delight of May!
      When every bud
      Upon the tree
      Lays bare its heart
      To every bee.
  Ah! The breath of May.

  Glowing sunshine everywhere
  Flings a gleaming, golden snare--
        Flowers here--
        And there--
  Are blowing in May air.

  Ah! The joy of May!
      When to the heart
      Love doth impart
      All the delight
      Love can excite.
  Ah! The joy of Spring!
      When every bird
      Hath found its mate,
      And every heart
      Hath had its sate.
  Ah! Love is King!

  Love and music everywhere,
  Weaving rapture's joyous snare,
        Love is here--
        Is there--
  Is wafted on May air.

  Ah! The song of May!
      How every trill
      Makes hearts to thrill,
      And every note's
      Aleap in our throats.
    Ah! Sweet lay of love!
      Story so tender,
      Old and gray;
      Yet sing again
      Love's roundelay--
  Ah! Love is King!

In greater contrast is the roystering drinking song of Cardenas, the
Mexican bandit, who was characterized by Eugene Cowles without in any way
overdoing a part easily overdone.


  CARE'S THE KING OF ALL.

      Oh, care's the King of all--
      A King who doth appal;
  But shall we who love delight bow before him?
      Or raise revolting cry--
      Proclaiming pleasure high,
  Declare it treason if good men dare adore him?
      And to this design
      We'll pledge in good wine;
  Come all and drink and laugh tonight;
      We'll clink and we'll drink,
      Nor stop to sigh or think--
  Come all with me who love delight.

      Away, away with care;
      Come on, come all who dare
  With me to banish care in joyous drinking.
      The night's for pleasure bought,
      The day alone for thought--
  Let all begone who would annoy us thinking.
      Then come while above
      The stars wink at love--
  Come all and drink and laugh tonight.
      We'll clink and we'll drink,
      Nor stop to sigh or think--
  Come on with me who love delight.

Jessie Bartlett Davis was cast for "Minnetoa, an Indian Girl," but didn't
take the part until Flora Finlayson had made a hit and even then she wanted
certain changes made in the finale, which Waller refused.

Well, "The Ogallallas" deserved a better fate and probably would have been
a go, if there had been tenors enough to carry Waller's big themes. They
were really Grand Opera parts and the average--and better than
average--tenor could not continue night after night without breaking down.
It was great! Too bad it was so far ahead of the times--and failed.

That was Jinx No. 1.

       *       *       *       *       *

Allison was everlastingly encouraging Waller to musical creations by
exciting his imagination with suggestions and in the end writing the story,
although he tried faithfully to find a librettist who, he too modestly
believed, might do better work than he. In the end, however, each of the
children of his brain came back to its creator. The fact was that Waller
couldn't or wouldn't work with others. So was conceived "Brother
Francesco," an opera set in a monastery in Italy during the Seventeenth
Century, and bringing up a vivid picture of monks, medieval chapels--dark,
massive and severe--and the dank scent of deep tragedy. There were but four
main characters, a quartette of voices, in "Brother Francesco," which was
in one act of about an hour and ten minutes, the whole story unravelling
itself in the public chapel between the ringing of the church bell and the
conclusion of the mass of the Benediction of the Holy Virgin. The altar
lights have not been lit. Enter Francesco, a novice, to light them. A
candle flashes on the altar; then another--and the tale unfolds. Francesco,
sorrowing over his lost love, Maria, observes the Father Confessor enter
the Confessional and, reminded of his too worldly thoughts, kneels and
sings an aria, "The Confession," in which the tragedy of his life is
revealed.


  THE CONFESSION.

  All my sins confessing humbly, oh, my father--
  All my thoughts are ever of my lost Maria.
  Wondrously fair and so pure was she
  Whom I loved ere my heart was dead--
  When love yet thrilled with tender mystery.

  Ah, her face! I see it ever--waking, dreaming,
  Hear her voice in cadence tender, softly speaking.
  Pure was the love that from heaven above
  Filled my heart with its ardent flame
  And blowed with passion's thrilling mystery.

  Our fathers were at strife
  And we were kept apart.
  I told Lucretia all and
  Bade her pour my love
  Into Maria's breast.

  I waited long and then
  She said Maria--false
  To me--was pledged to wed
  Another that she loved.
  That cruel message, father, broke my heart.

  It was not long until I saw
  Lucretia's heart--that she could love
  Where false Maria failed. And so
  In sympathy we two were wed.

  The vows had scarce been said--
  Aye, on the church's steps--a messenger
  Did crush a letter in my hand.
  'Twas but a line, but at the end--
  Oh God in Heaven! Maria's name.

  "I hear that thou art false," it said,
  "But I cannot believe
  "That one who loved as thou didst
  "Could fail me or deceive."

  Ah! suspicion, like a lightning flash,
  Transfixed me and I held
  The paper to Lucretia's face
  And bade her read and tell me all.
  Upon her knees she fell and whined
  That she had loved me too, and had
  Deceived me of Maria's heart--Ah! God!
  In that damned moment's rage
  I struck her as she knelt--to kill!

  The wedding guests did drag me off
  And take the knife away. But, Ah!
  There was one stain of blood it bore,
  Where, as I struck, it slashed across
  The dark and faithless cheek of her
  And left it scarred for life. Scarred!
  When I had meant to kill.

  All that night I lingered, watching 'neath her window--
  Saw once more the haunting face of my Maria--
  Saw her once more--I can see her still!--
  Fled away and am buried here
  In God's own house and all unchastened yet.

In very irony, it would seem, to the simplicity of his nature, the
outpourings of the novitiate's sorrowing heart have been confessed to his
wife, the scarred-faced Lucretia, who inhabits the monastery in the guise
of the Father Confessor (not an unknown historical fact) thus in its very
inception lending an intense dramatic effect to the story. Now, at the
ringing of the bell, the villagers enter the public loft, Maria--his lost
love--in the foreground unrecognized either by Francesco or Lucretia,
singing an "Ave Maria:"

  Ave Maria, Mother of Mercy,
  Thou art our hope, and our sweetness and life.
  Pray for Francesco, Oh, watch o'er his footsteps;
  Turn on his sorrow thine eyes sweet and tender.
  At thy dear feet anguished I fall
  To pray for him--
  For oh! somewhere he's wandering,
  Sorrow enduring.
  Pray for him Mother, oh watch o'er his footsteps.
  Lost, lost to me, yet so dear to me--
  Pray for him, oh Mother dear.
  Ave Maria! Hope of the hopeless!
  To thy sweet mercy in anguish I cry--
  Pray for Francesco, my own, my beloved--
  Pray for him Mother, oh pray for Francesco.
  Lost, lost to me--oh! loved and lost!
  Oh Mother dear pray for him.

Again the bell rings and the monks pass before the altar with genuflections
and sink in their stalls in prayer, while a male chorus chants the Office
of the Benediction. During the singing of the anthem, Francesco enters with
cowl thrown back and a lighted taper in his hand. He is recognized by Maria
and at her exclamations starts to her but is restrained by the Father
Confessor now disclosed to him for the first time as his discarded wife.
After a trio of great dramatic force, Francesco seizes a dagger drawn by
Lucretia to kill him, and stabbing himself, expires in Maria's arms, while
Lucretia, still disguised as the Father Confessor, takes back her place
unnoticed among the monks who hold their crosses in horror against the
suicide!

Waller wrote the entire service in imitation of the sombre Gregorian Mass,
and then over the face of this dark background sketched in modern
passionate music the lyrical and dramatic lightning of the action. This
wonderful conception, both in idea, words and music, was "passed by
censors" of the church--that is, Archbishop Corrigan and the Archbishop of
Paris both said that while they did not approve of representations of the
Church on the stage, it had been done before, and would no doubt be done
again. Otherwise there was nothing objectionable in it.

Yet when it was produced in Berlin at the Royal Opera, under the wing of
Emperor William, even though horribly mutilated by the Public Censor, the
Catholic party, (aided and abetted by the musical cabal that has always
existed in Berlin), made it the cause of protests against the German
Government and Jinx No. 2 came to life in riotous uprisings against it
during its three performances. Whereupon it was withdrawn. These simple
facts are gleaned from Mr. Waller's descriptive letters. Jean de Reszke
thought so well of "Brother Francesco" that he proposed--nay promised--to
have it produced at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. But the old Jinx
proceeded to put his No. 3 seal on de Reszke's voice that year, and he and
the opera were heard from no more under the proscenium arch.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then there was "The Mouse and the Garter," a travesty on Grand Opera in two
acts that Clarence Andrews was to produce at the opening of the
Waldorf-Astoria ballroom-theater. Many has been the pleasurable moment I
have had in examining the old "prompt book" in use during rehearsals, for
the company was picked, the scenery modeled, the costumes made and the
"fancy," as Allison called it, ready to be staged, when Oscar Hammerstein,
who had a contract with Andrews to transfer successes to the old Victoria
Theater, blew up in one of his bankruptcies. The Jinx was again monarch of
all he surveyed--and Monte-Cristo-like held up four fingers! That old
"prompt book" mentioned shows the wear and tear of much use and is filled
with odd notes in Allison's characteristic handwriting. No less interesting
were the "Librettist's Notes on Characters in the Opera and the Business,"
dated October 21, 1897, and taken from an old letter-press copy that turned
up in our archives. There we find that--

    The general tone of the performance is to be light, gay, rapid,
    suggestive and delicate--without a trace of the license of current
    musical farce. The suggestiveness must naturally arise from the
    innocent freedom of village life. The whole idea is a travesty of
    sentimental grand opera, the vocal characters being transposed so
    far as their fate and actions are concerned.

Good stuff! And who were these innocent villagers? Well, there was Tenor
Robusto, in love with Soprano and fated to be left at the post; Tenor Di
Grazia, his twin brother; Giovanni Baritono, a Soldier of Fortune; Piccolo,
an innkeeper; Fra Tonerero Basso, a priest; Signorina Prima Soprano, a bar
maid; Signorina Mezzo, also a bar maid, and Signora Contralto, Piccolo's
wife, besides villagers, eight topers, musicians, five couples of rustic
brides and grooms, and a dancing bear and his keeper. Let us not forget the
mythical mouse and the ribbon from which The Garters were made, though
neither appears among the "properties" scheduled by Allison.

    [Illustration: _Page from the old Prompt Book
                   "The Mouse and the Garter"_]

Robusto and Soprano flirted. He gave her a ribbon and she promised to marry
him. Just a bluff! And then he wanted his ribbon back, but she had already
made it into garters, and when he tried to take them by force she boxed him
smartly. He got fussy, drank a gallon of gooseberry wine, smoked two
cigarettes and making out that he was a great bounder, threatened her with
sudden death. Great dialogue! He would have gone to war, only there was no
war at the time and anyway his "mother wouldn't let him"--the topical
number. After smacking Robusto good and plenty before all the villagers,
Soprano, who seems to know how to take care of herself, swears that she'll
marry no one unless he has the wit "to get--that! And this!"--the garters.
Baritono, Soldier of Fortune, comes on the scene. Lots more bully dialogue
and song and then Baritono hears of Soprano's oath. It's easy for him and
he bides his time--you always have to bide your time--to indicate a point
behind Soprano, when she is in a wholly unsuspecting mood, and shout "Ha! A
mouse!! A mouse!!!" Village maidens scream and scatter. Soprano, skirts to
knees, hurdles into a chair, while Baritono deftly seizes the loose ends of
the now visible "lover-knots" and holds aloft the precious talismen.
Wedding. Finis!

But the Jinx got it.




    [Illustration: A PIRATICAL BALLAD
                   SONG FOR BASS OR DEEP BARITONE
                   WORDS BY YOUNG E. ALLISON.
                   MUSIC BY HENRY WALLER.]




BALLAD _of_ DEAD MEN


If Young Allison is vain of anything he has done I have yet to hear such an
expression from him. He just writes things and tucks them away in odd
corners and it has devolved upon me to collect them and keep them. So it is
that, while not a literary executor--because Allison, thank God, is
scandalously healthy and I am making no professions--it falls to my
satisfied lot to be a literary collector in a certain sense--if he who
gathers and preserves and gloats over the brain products of others may thus
be described. That is why, treasured among my earthly possessions--scant
enough, the good Lord knows, but full of joy and satisfaction to me--are
extensive lead-pencil manuscript memoranda in Allison's writing showing the
painstaking stages by which "Fifteen Dead Men," characterized by James
Whitcomb Riley as that "masterly and exquisite ballad of delicious
horrificness," reached its perfection. Under whatever name it may be sung,
be it "The Ballad of Dead Men," or "On Board the Derelict" or "Derelict,"
it is a poem big enough to fix the Jewel of Fame firmly over the author's
brow.

Away back in the Allison strain somewhere must have been a bold buccaneer,
for who else but the descendant of a roystering, fighting, blood-letting
pirate could have seen the "scuppers glut with a rotting red?" Through all
the visible mildness of his deep and complex nature there surely runs a
blood-thirsty current, in proof of which I submit this single paragraph
from certain confessions[3] of his:

    With character seared, abandoned and dissolute in habit, through
    and by the hearing and seeing and reading of history, there was but
    one desperate step left. So I entered upon the career of a pirate
    in my ninth year. The Spanish Main, as no doubt you remember, was
    at that time upon an open common just across the street from our
    house, and it was a hundred feet long, half as wide and would
    average two feet in depth. I have often since thanked Heaven that
    they filled up that pathless ocean in order to build an iron
    foundry upon the spot. Suppose they had excavated for a cellar! Why
    during the time that Capt. Kidd, Lafitte and I infested the coast
    thereabout, sailing three "low, black-hulled schooners with long
    rakish masts," I forced hundreds of merchant seamen to walk the
    plank--even helpless women and children. Unless the sharks devoured
    them, their bones are yet about three feet under the floor of that
    iron foundry. Under the lee of the Northernmost promontory, near a
    rock marked with peculiar crosses made by the point of the stiletto
    which I constantly carried in my red silk sash, I buried tons of
    plate, and doubloons, pieces of eight, pistoles, Louis d'ors, and
    galleons by the chest. At that time galleons somehow meant to me
    money pieces in use, though since then the name has been given to a
    species of boat. The rich brocades, Damascus and Indian stuffs,
    laces, mantles, shawls and finery were piled in riotous profusion
    in our cave where--let the whole truth be told if it must--I lived
    with a bold, black-eyed and coquettish Spanish girl, who loved me
    with ungovernable jealousy that occasionally led to bitter and
    terrible scenes of rage and despair. At last when I brought home a
    white and red English girl, whose life I spared because she had
    begged me on her knees by the memory of my sainted mother to spare
    her for her old father, who was waiting her coming, Joquita passed
    all bounds. I killed her--with a single knife thrust, I remember.
    She was buried right on the spot where the Tilden and Hendricks
    flag pole afterwards stood in the campaign of 1876. It was with
    bitter melancholy that I fancied the red stripes on the flag had
    their color from the blood of the poor, foolish, jealous girl below.

    [3] The Delicious Vice. Pages 23-24. First Series, 1907.

So it is, naturally enough, that to Allison, "Treasure Island" is the _ne
plus ultra_ and composite of all pirate stories, and this marvel of delight
he called to Waller's attention while they were incubating "The
Ogallallas." No sooner had Waller read it than the quatrain of Old Billy
Bones took possession of him and converted itself into music. The two of
them, as so many other thousands had done, bewailed the parsimony of
Stevenson in the use and development of the grisly suggestion and Waller
declared that if Allison would complete the verse he would set it to music.
That same night Allison composed three ragged but promising verses, at
white heat, while walking the floor in a cloud of tobacco smoke of his own
making. Next morning he gave them to Waller, who by night had the score and
words married and a day later the finished product went forward to Wm. A.
Pond & Co., and was published under the title of "A Piratical Ballad"[4].
Note that these initial verses are described as "ragged" and in this I am
also quoting Allison himself who in our various chats on his reminiscence
of "Treasure Island" has often given them this characterization. Be that as
it may these three verses were the foundation for the perfect six that were
to emerge after several years more of intermittent but patient development
and labor.

    [4] A Piratical Ballad. Song for Bass or Deep Baritone. Words by
    Young E. Allison; Music by Henry Waller; New York. Published by
    William A. Pond & Co. Copyright 1891. [See pages 65-68.]


  A PIRATICAL BALLAD.

  Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
  Drink and the devil had done for the rest--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
  The mate was fixed by the bo's'n's pike,
  The bo's'n brained with a marlinspike,
  And cookey's throat was marked belike
      It had been gripped
          By fingers ten.
      And there they lay,
          All good dead men--
  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum,
  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

  Fifteen men all stark and cold--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
  Their eyes popp'd wide and glazed and bold--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
  The skipper lay with his nob in gore
  Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore,
  And the scullion he was stabbed times four.
      And there they lay,
          And the soggy skies
      Rained all day long
          On the staring eyes--
  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum,
  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

  Fifteen men of the Vixen's list--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
  All gone down from the devil's own fist--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
  We wrapped 'em all in a mainsail's fold,
  We sewed at the foot a bit of gold,
  And we heaved 'em into the billows cold.
      The bit was put
          As snug's could be,
      Where't ne'er will bother
          You nor me--
  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum,
  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

This is the requiem of the Fifteen Dead Men that Eugene Cowles would sing
so effectively in his booming bass after rehearsals of "The Ogallallas." It
must have been great!

Allison felt that he had done little justice to an idea full of great
possibilities and made a number of revisions during the polishing process
until it was raised to five verses. I have the original manuscript[5] of
the first revision of "A Piratical Ballad" unearthed from a cubby-hole in
an old desk of his to which I fell heir, the only change being in the title
to "A Ballad of Dead Men," the elimination of one of the concluding lines
"Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum" from the refrain of each verse, (it had been
added originally to fit the musical cadence), and the strengthening of the
final verse by the substitution of--

  With willing hearts
      And a Yo-heave-ho
  Over the side
      To the sharks below.

    [5] Reproduced in facsimile.

Many will no doubt recall "The Philosophy of Composition"[6] by Edgar Allen
Poe, and those who by some mischance have missed it, can spend a delightful
hour in the perusal of what, beyond the least doubt, is the most skillful
analysis of poetic composition ever written, even though it fails to carry
conviction that "The Raven" was ever produced by the formula described. Poe
declared that--

    ... most writers--poets in especial--prefer having it understood
    that they compose by a species of fine frenzy--an ecstatic
    intuition; and would positively shudder at letting the public take
    a peep behind the scenes at the elaborate and vacillating crudities
    of thought, at the true purposes seized only at the last moment, at
    the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity
    of full view, at the fully matured fancies discarded as
    unmanageable, at the cautious selections and rejections, at the
    painful erasions and interpolations--in a word at the wheels and
    pinions, the tackle for scene shifting, the step ladders and demon
    traps, the cock's feather, the red paint and the black patches,
    which in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred constitute the
    properties of the literary _histrio_.

    [6] Stone & Kimball Edition. Vol. 6; page 31.

And so he proceeds to detail how he composed "The Raven." First he decided
on a length of about one hundred lines that could be read at one sitting;
on beauty as its province; on sadness as its tone; on a variation of the
application of the refrain--it remaining for the most part unvaried--to
obtain what he termed "artistic piquancy;" proceeding only at that stage to
the composition of the last verse as the first step. All this of course has
little to do with "Derelict" and yet I cannot but see a sort of analogy of
effect by processes wholly divergent, particularly as Allison once told me
that the central idea of the last verse for consigning the bodies to the
deep was ever in his mind and that this verse was first projected, although
its development was the most difficult and its perfection did not come
until later. So much for that! In the five verses he had arrived
approximately at a consummation of the sea burial, the introduction very
properly repeating the quatrain of Billy Bones before concluding:

  We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight,
  With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight,
  And we heaved 'em over and out of sight--
      With a yo-heave-ho!
          And a fare-you-well!
      And a sullen plunge
          In the sullen swell--
  Ten fathom-lengths of the road to hell--
  Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

While this composition is fine and tight as a drum in poetic meter and
conception, the real perfection was not arrived at until he made it "Ten
fathoms _deep on_ the road to hell." In the five-verse revision a part of
the last verse as it appeared in "A Piratical Ballad" went into the second,
a part of the second verse was shifted to the third and a fourth was added
to give an implied reason for the riot of death in an inferred quarrel over
the "chest on chest full of Spanish gold, with a ton of plate in the middle
hold." Strangely enough all these shifts and additions do not appear to
have altered the sentiment in the least and at times I am amazed, in
reading over old versions, that I do not appreciably miss certain lines and
ideas that seem vital to the finished product.

Shortly after the five verses had been privately printed for his friends on
a single slip, Allison conceived the rather daring idea of injecting the
trace of a woman on board the Derelict which up to this time he had very
closely developed in the Stevensonian spirit. While there was no woman in
"Treasure Island," he proved to himself by analysis that his new thought
would do no violence to Stevenson's idea, because Billy Bones' song was a
reminiscence of _his own past_ and not of Treasure Island. Hence the trace
of a woman, skillfully injected, might be permissible. Here, too, his
analysis gave him the melancholy tone--of which Poe speaks as so highly
desirable--greatly accentuated by doubt of whether she was "wench" or
"maid," and a further possible incentive for the extermination of the whole
ship's list. This verse[7] has undergone little change since the woman
trace was first injected:

  More we saw, through the stern-light screen--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
  Chartings ondoubt where a woman had been--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
  A flimsy shift on a bunker cot,
  With a dagger-slot in the bosom spot
  And the lace stiff-dry in a purplish blot.
      Now whether wench
          Or a shuddering maid,
      She dared the knife
          And she took the blade.
  By God! She was stuff for a plucky jade--
      Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

    [7] Reproduced in facsimile.

There were certain niceties of word adjustment to follow as for instance
the substitution of "a thin dirk-slot" for "a dagger-slot," the word "thin"
carrying a keen mental impression of a snaky, hissing sound-sensation as
the idea unfolded of the dirk slipping through the flimsy fabric of the
shift, cast on the bunker cot to remain the silent evidence of the tragedy.
The very acme of touches came in the punctuation[8] of the concluding
lines--pauses that emphasize with so much ingenuity the very question that
lends the speculatively mournful cadence to the whole:

  Or was she wench ...
      Or some shuddering maid...?
  That dared the knife
      And that took the blade!

And as a cap-sheaf came the thought of differentiating the
whole verse[8] by an Italicized setting! That is almost the last
word of the conception of poet-printer.

    [8] Reproduced in facsimile.

The dogged persistency that Allison applied to the completion of this
masterpiece has always won my deepest admiration. And the admiration of
many others too, for this poem, first publicly printed in the Louisville
_Courier-Journal_, has been reprinted in one form or another, in almost
every newspaper in the country and has an honored place in many scrap
books. What great and painstaking effort was encompassed in its composition
only one can know even partly who has been privileged to "peep behind the
scenes" at the "properties of the literary _histrio_"--the manuscript notes
and memoranda, a few of which accompany this volume in facsimile.




IF THERE _is_ CONTROVERSY!


If any one in this wide, old world, after reading the wealth of evidence in
this little volume, still thinks Young E. Allison did not write "Derelict,"
let him come to me like a man and say so and I'll give him a good swift
stab in the eye, with my eye, and say: "You don't want to be convinced."
This includes the editor of _The New York Times Book Review_. When he made
an egregious blunder by stating that "Derelict" was an unskilled sailor's
jingle, a wave of protest reached him. He then printed Walt Mason's letter
describing the poem as a work of art and altered his editorial
characterization of it to "famous old chanty." In the same breath he wrote
that it was not likely that Mr. Allison was the author--but why not likely?
It is plain that somebody must have written it. Nobody else's name had ever
been associated with it. The _Times_ man had nobody to suggest as the
author. Why, then, maintain that Mr. Allison was not the author? His sole
reason is that the "Bowdlerized" and bastard version which he printed had
been _copied from a manuscript written into an old book printed in 1843_!
What does the ink say about dates? What do the pen marks say? Great gods
and little fishes! If ever I shall desire to antiquitize a modernity I'll
copy it into an old book and send a transcript to that delightful Babe of
the Woods of _The New York Times Book Review_.

When _Rubric_, a Chicago magazine venture of attractiveness, but doomed in
advance to failure, published Allison's poem under the title "On Board the
Derelict," I detached three sets of the eight illustrated and illuminated
pages on which it was printed, had the sheets inlaid in hand-made paper and
neatly bound. This was accomplished with the sage advice of my old
playmate, Frank M. Morris, the bookman of Chicago. One of these volumes was
made for Mr. Allison, (so that he would surely have at least one copy of
his own poem), a second was for my bookish friend, James F. Joseph, then of
Chicago and now of Indianapolis, and a third was for my own library. The
mere fact that Allison was five years autographing my particular copy has
no bearing whatever in this discussion, but leads me to say that I felt
amply repaid in the end by this very handsome inscription on the fly-leaf:

    This Volume,
                        No. 1

        of the limited private edition of "On Board the Derelict," is
        for the private delight of my dear friend,

            Champion Ingraham Hitchcock,

        the publisher and designer thereof--appreciative guide,
        counselor and encourager of other excursions into "the higher
        altitudes,"--with all love and long memory

    Christmas, 1906.                              YOUNG E. ALLISON.


Well, because "Derelict" was a delight and Allison my friend, I gave away
_Rubrics_ by the score and, among others, saw that a copy went to Wallace
Rice, literatus--and Chicago book reviewer--to whom I owe an everlasting
debt of gratitude for precious moments saved by good advice on modern stuff
not to read. In presenting "Derelict," the _Rubric_ publishers left an
impression that the poem had but then been completed[9] for its pages. I
knew better; Wallace had read it before, in whole or in part and raised a
question. It so worked upon me that later I decided to submit it to Allison
himself. Sometimes we do things, and know not why, that have a very
distinct later and wholly unexpected bearing upon situations, and when the
opportunity for this volume arose, the memory that I had saved Allison's
penciled reply came over me. A patient search had its reward. Here is the
letter[10] written with the same old lead pencil on the same old spongy
copy paper:

                                          Louisville Feb. 22, 1902.
    Dear Hitch:

    My supposition is that the _Rubric_ folks misunderstood or have
    been misunderstood. The Dead Man's Song was first written about 10
    years ago--3 verses--and Henry Waller set it to music & it was
    published in New York. The version for the song did not exhaust it
    in my mind and so I took it up every now & then for 4 or 5 years
    and finally completed it. A very lovely little girl who was
    visiting my wife helped me to decide whether I should write in one
    verse "a flimsy shift" or "a filmy shift" or other versions, and
    her opinion on "flimsy" decided me. She is the only person that
    ever had anything to do with it--_as far as I know_! What hypnotic
    influences were at work or what astral minds may have intervened, I
    know not. But I have always thought I did it all. It was not much
    to do, except for a certain 17th Century verbiage and grisly humor.

    I am glad you still believe I wouldn't steal anybody else's brains
    any more than I would his money. Waller wrote splendid singing
    music to it which Eugene Cowles used to bellow beautifully.

                            With best love, as always,
                                                           Y. E. A.

    [9] See letter to "The New York Times Book Review".

    [10] Reproduced in facsimile.

That this narrative may be complete, the articles and comment that appeared
in _The New York Times Book Review_ are reproduced, together with a letter
to the editor written by the author of this volume, which, neither
acknowledged nor published by him, obtained wide circulation through _The
Scoop_,[11] a magazine issued every Saturday by The Press Club of Chicago.
It was quite characteristic of Allison to decline the very urgent requests
of many friends to jump into the arena and make a claim for that which is
his own creation and in coming to a negative decision, his reasons are
probably best expressed in a letter to Henry A. Sampson, who himself writes
poetry:

    Yours of the 5th containing wormwood from the _N. Y. Times_ (and
    being the 11th copy received from loving friends) is here.

    Jealous! Jealous! Just the acute development on your part of the
    ordinary professional jealousy. Merely because I have at last found
    my place amongst those solitary and dazzling poets, Homer and
    Shakespeare, who, also, it has been proved, did not write their own
    stuff, but found it all in folk lore and copied it down.

    Well, damn me, I can't help my own genius and do not care for its
    products because I can always make more, and I compose these things
    for my own satisfaction.

    I, with Shakespeare and Homer, perceive the bitter inefficacy of
    fighting the scientific critics. Walt Mason saw the versification
    was artful instead of "bungling and crude," but the _Times_ critic
    knows a copy out of a "chanty book" when he sees it.

    I envy your being unpublished. You do not have to bleed with me and
    Homer and Bill. I feel the desiccating effects of my own dishonor.
    I grow distrustful. I wonder if _you_ wrote _your_ poems. You
    refused to publish. Were you, astute and keen reader of auguries,
    afraid of being found out? Who writes all these magnificent things
    that me and Homer and Bill couldn't and didn't write?

    No, I don't owe it to my friends to settle this. I'd a sight rather
    plead guilty and accept indeterminate sentence than to waste time
    on my friends. I've got 'em or I haven't. And I want to convince
    enemies by a profound and dignified sneak.

                      From one who has had dirt done him.
                                                         MANTELLINI
    Louisville, Oct. 6, 1914.

    [11] Issue of October 10, 1914.




SOME CLIPPINGS; _and_ A LETTER


The controversial comments on Allison's "Fifteen Men on the Dead Man's
Chest," heretofore mentioned, appeared in _The New York Times Book Review_
of September 20, 1914, and October 4, 1914, while the inquiry that
precipitated the discussion was published July 26. The printed matter,
_verbatim et literatim_, and the matter not printed, are subjoined:


    _July 26, 1914._

    APPEALS TO READERS

    EDWARD ALDEN.--Can some reader tell me if the verse or chorus of a
    pirate's song, which Robert Louis Stevenson recites several times
    in whole or in part in "Treasure Island," was original or quoted;
    and, if there are other verses, where they may be found? The lines
    as Stevenson gives them are:

      Fifteen men on the dead man's chest,
        Yo-ho-ha and a bottle of rum;
      Drink and the devil had done for the rest,
        Yo-ho-ha and a bottle of rum.

       *       *       *       *       *

    _September 20, 1914._

    ANSWERS FROM READERS

    W. L.--The verse about which Edward Alden inquired in your issue of
    July 26. and which is quoted in Stevenson's "Treasure Island," is
    the opening stanza of an old song or chantey of West Indian piracy,
    which is believed to have originated from the wreck of an English
    buccaneer on a cay in the Caribbean Sea known as "The Dead Man's
    Chest." The cay was so named from its fancied resemblance to the
    old sailors' sea chest which held his scanty belongings. The song
    or chantey was familiar to deep-sea sailors many years ago. The
    song is copied from a very old scrapbook, in which the author's
    name was not given. The verses[12] are as follows:

        Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      Drink and the devil had done for the rest.
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      The mate was fixed by the bo'sun's pike
      An the bo'sun brained with a marlin spike.
      And the cookie's throat was marked belike
      It had been clutched by fingers ten,
      And there they lay, all good dead men,
      Like break o' day in a boozin' ken--
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

      Fifteen men of a whole ship's list,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      Dead and bedamned and their souls gone whist,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      The skipper lay with his nob in gore
      Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore,
      And the scullion he was stabbed times four;
      And there they lay, and the soggy skies
      Dripped ceaselessly in upstaring eyes,
      By murk sunset and by foul sunrise--
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

      Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      Ten of the crew bore the murder mark,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      'Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead,
      Or a gaping hole in a battered head,
      And the scuppers' glut of a rotting red;
      And there they lay, ay, damn my eyes,
      Their lookouts clapped on Paradise,
      Their souls gone just the contrawise--
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

      Fifteen men of 'em good and true,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      Every man Jack could a' sailed with Old Pew,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      There was chest on chest of Spanish gold
      And a ton of plate in the middle hold,
      And the cabin's riot of loot untold--
      And there they lay that had took the plum,
      With sightless eyes and with lips struck dumb,
      And we shared all by rule o' thumb--
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

      More was seen through the stern light's screen,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      Chartings undoubt where a woman had been,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      A flimsy shift on a bunker cot
      With a dirk slit sheer through the bosom spot
      And the lace stiff dry in a purplish rot--
      Or was she wench or shuddering maid,
      She dared the knife and she took the blade--
      Faith, there was stuff for a plucky Jade!
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

      Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      Drink and the devil had done for the rest,
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
      We wrapped 'em all in a mainsail tight
      With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight,
      And we heaved 'em over and out of sight
      With a yo-heave-ho and a fare-ye-well,
      And a sullen plunge in a sullen swell,
      Ten fathoms along on the road to hell--
        Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

    [12] To observe liberties taken with the text, compare these verses
         with authentic version.

       *       *       *       *       *

    _September 20, 1914._

    Who that loves tales of adventure, thrilling yarns involving the
    search for mysteriously lost treasure, has not gloried in "Treasure
    Island"? And who that recalls STEVENSON's stirring romance does not
    involuntarily chant to himself the ridiculous but none the leas
    fascinating verse commencing

      "Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest--"

    as if the gruesome rhyme were in a way intended as a sort of
    refrain for the entire story? When we were younger we undoubtedly
    speculated on the amazing capacity of this particular dead man's
    chest, and we gloated over the uncanny wickedness of the whole
    affair. The verse, however, turns out to be one of those
    curiosities of literature which is unearthed every now and then by
    some industrious contributor to the "Query Page" of THE NEW YORK
    TIMES BOOK REVIEW. In this number of the latter the entire song or
    "chantey" is given, copied from an old scrapbook, and while it can
    hardly be recommended as a delectable piece of literature, in any
    sense, it is interesting, aside from its Stevensonian connection,
    as a bit of rough, unstudied sailor's jingle, the very authorship
    of which is long since forgotten. And the youthful myth of the Dead
    Man's Chest--that, too, it appears, is not at all the thing that
    fancy painted it. The real Dead Man's Chest, however, as "W. L."
    explains it, is quite as alluring as the imaginary one and will
    appeal to the student of geographical peculiarities in the West
    Indies.

       *       *       *       *       *

    _October 4, 1914._

    "FIFTEEN MEN ON THE DEAD MAN'S CHEST"

    _New York Times Review of Books_:

    The fine old sea poem, "Fifteen Men on the Dead Man's Chest,"
    recently quoted in your columns, was written by Younge E. Allison.
    I have raked through various biographical dictionaries trying to
    discover who Younge E. Allison was, but without results. The man
    who wrote such a poem should not be unknelled, unhonored, and
    unsung. In your editorial touching the rhyme I don't think you do
    it justice. You describe it as "a rough, unstudied sailor's
    jingle," whereas it is a work of art. Some of the lines are
    tremendous, and the whole poem has a haunting quality that never
    yet distinguished a mere jingle. I never weary of repeating some of
    its sonorous lines.

                                                        WALT MASON.
    Emporia, Kan., Sept. 24.

    EDITORIAL NOTE.--We have received several other letters in which
    the authorship of the lines is credited to Mr. Allison, who is a
    resident of Louisville, Ky., and the editor of The Insurance Field
    of that city. Mr. Allison was at one time a correspondent of
    THE NEW YORK TIMES and also has written several books of fiction,
    including "The Passing of Major Galbraith." It is not likely,
    however, that he wrote the famous old chanty. One of our
    correspondents writes that Mr. Allison "reconstructed" the song
    some years ago on the first four lines which are quoted in
    Stevenson's "Treasure Island."

    Our correspondent, "W. L.," who furnished the copy of the song as
    published recently in THE BOOK REVIEW says, however, that he copied
    the verses from a manuscript written into a book which bears this
    title: "Tales of the Ocean and Essays for the Forecastle,
    Containing Matters and Incidents Humorous, Pathetic, Romantic, and
    Sentimental, by Hawser Martingale, Boston, Printed and Published by
    S. W. Dickinson, 52 Washington St., 1843." This book belonged to
    his grandfather, who died in 1874, and the song was familiar to "W.
    L." in his youth as early as 1870.

    In a letter to W. E. Henley, dated at Braemar, Aug. 25, 1881,
    written when Stevenson had begun the writing of "Treasure Island,"
    he writes:

        I am now on another lay for the moment, purely owing to
        Lloyd this one; but I believe there's more coin in it than
        in any amount of crawlers. Now see here "The Sea Cook or
        Treasure Island: A Story for Boys." [This was the first
        title selected for the book.]

        If this don't fetch the kids, why, they have gone rotten
        since my day. Will you be surprised to learn that it is
        about Buccaneers, that it begins in the Admiral Benbow
        public house on the Devon coast, that it's all about a map
        and a treasure and a mutiny and a derelict ship and a
        current and a fine old Squire Trelawney, (the real Tre.
        purged of literature and sin to suit the infant mind,) and
        a doctor and another doctor and a sea cook with one leg and
        and a sea song with a chorus, "Yo-ho-ho and a Bottle of
        Rum," (at the third "ho" you heave at the capstan bars,)
        which is a real buccaneer's song, only known to the crew of
        the late Capt. Flint, who died of rum at Key West much
        regretted?

   The first publication of "Treasure Island" was in 1883, and in a
   letter to Sidney Colvin in July, 1884, Stevenson writes: "'Treasure
   Island' came out of Kingsley's 'At Last,' where I got 'The Dead
   Man's Chest.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

THE UNPUBLISHED LETTER

    _New York Times Review of Books_,

    It has been my great pleasure and satisfaction to sit with Young E.
    Allison of Louisville in business intimacy and friendship for many
    years, and to have seen the inception of his "Derelict" in three
    verses based on Billy Bones' song of "Fifteen Men on the Dead Man's
    Chest" from "Treasure Island." During this intimacy also I have
    observed those original three stanzas grow to six and viewed the
    adjustment and balance and polish he has given to what I now
    consider a masterpiece.

    No one who ever read "Treasure Island" with a mind, but feels there
    is something lacking in Billy Bones' song. It left a haunting wish
    for more and if the book was closed with a single regret it was
    because Billy Bones had not completed his weird chant. So it
    affected Mr. Allison, a confirmed novel reader and a great admirer
    of Stevenson. Henry Waller, collaborating with Mr. Allison in the
    production[13] of the "Ogallallas" by the Bostonians along back in
    1891, declared he had a theme for that swashbuckling chant and
    Allison, who wrote the libretto for the "Ogallallas," agreed to
    work it out. That same night with Waller's really brilliant musical
    conception in his mind, Mr. Allison wrote what might be considered
    the first three verses of the present revision, which were set to
    Waller's music, written for a deep baritone, and published by Pond.
    Thereafter during the rehearsal of the "Ogallallas" no session was
    complete until Eugene Cowles, in his big, rich bass, had sung
    Allison's three verses of "Fifteen Men on the Dead Man's Chest" to
    Waller's music, as "lagniappe," while cold chills raced up and down
    the spines of his hearers--more or less immune to sensations of
    that character.

        [13] Incubation at that time. Production in 1893.

    As I write I have before me a copy of the music, the title page of
    which reads as follows: "A Piratical Ballad. Song for Bass or Deep
    Baritone. Words by Young E. Allison. Music by Henry Waller. New
    York. Published by William A. Pond & Co. 1891."

    Later it occurred to Mr. Allison that he had done scant justice to
    an idea full of great possibilities, and another verse was added,
    and still later another, making five in all, when in a more
    polished condition it was submitted to the _Century_ for
    publication, and accepted, though later the editor asked to have
    the closing lines re-constructed as being a bit too strong for his
    audience. Mr. Allison felt that to bring back those drink-swollen
    and weighted bodies "wrapp'd in a mains'l tight" from their "sullen
    plunge in the sullen swell, ten fathoms deep on the road to hell"
    would cut the heart out of the idea--while admitting to the
    _Century's_ editor that such a sentiment might not be entirely
    fitted for his clientele--and so declined to make the alteration.

    About this time Mr. Allison had "Derelict" privately printed for
    circulation among friends. I have in my possession his printer's
    copy, and the various revisions in his own handwriting--probably a
    dozen in all.

    Six years after the first verses were written, Mr. Allison decided
    to inject a woman into his "Reminiscence of Treasure Island," as he
    styles it, which was most adroitly done in the fifth verse--last
    written--and in the private copies it is set in Italics as a
    delicate intimation that the theme of a woman was foreign to the
    main idea which he attempted to carry out just as he believed
    Stevenson might have done. There was no woman on Treasure Island
    yet she passes here without question.

    Shortly after the sixth verse had been added, the editors of the
    _Rubric_--a Chicago magazine venture of the late 90's[14]--asked
    Mr. Allison for permission to publish the five verses which had
    fallen into their hands, and in granting the request he furnished
    the later revision in six verses. This was published on eight pages
    of the _Rubric_ in two colors, very happily illustrated, I thought,
    and was captioned "On Board the Derelict."

        [14] Vol. I No. 1, 1901.

    It is the fine adjustment, the extreme delicacy, the very
    artfulness of the whole poem, I might say, which has led you into
    believing it "a rough, unstudied sailor's jingle" and in stating
    editorially, "it is not likely however that he [Mr. Allison] wrote
    the famous old chanty." Were it not that you hazarded this
    speculation I would not feel called upon to recite this history, in
    justice to Mr. Allison, who is one of the most honorable, modest
    and original men of letters and who would scorn to enter the lists
    in an effort to prove that what he had created was his own. Among
    those who know him like Henry Watterson, Madison Cawein, James H.
    Mulligan, (who was one of Stevenson's friends, present in Samoa
    when he died), James Whitcomb Riley, and a host of others he needs
    no defense.

    Mr. Mason's comment in your issue of October 4, 1914, is a very
    fine tribute to the work of a stranger to him and testifies to his
    artistic judgment, for a study of this "old chanty" will prove it
    to be a work of art, not only for the tremendous lines of which Mr.
    Mason speaks, but because it creates the impression of antiquity
    while being entirely modern by every rule of versification.

    If you take the pains to scan the lines you must soon admit how
    subtle and delicate are the alternating measures, prepared
    purposely to create the very idea of age and coarseness and
    succeeding with every almost matchless line and selected word.

    Just a word more. Of course I cannot pretend to say how the version
    published in your issue of September 20, 1914, got copied into the
    "Old Scrap Book" to which "W. L." refers, but violence to the text
    and the meter--which you may determine by reference to the
    authentic copy inclosed herewith--would indicate that it had been
    "expurgated" for drawing room recital by an ultra-fastidious[15] who
    nevertheless recognized its great force.

        [15] And non-poetic.

    By the way, Mr. Allison wrote "The Passing of Major Kilgore," not
    "Major Galbraith," one of the first really good newspaper stories
    "from the inside" then written, though since there have been many.

                                    Yours very truly,
                                                    C. I. HITCHCOCK
    Louisville, October 6, 1914.




YO-HO-HO _and a_ BOTTLE OF RUM


It has not been the purpose of this sketch of a poem's history, with
which has been joined other matters, reminiscent or germane, to enter
into a discussion relative to the origin of chanties, or to attempt to
trace the four lines of Captain Billy Bones' song to any source beyond
their appearance in "Treasure Island." In a more or less extensive,
though desultory, reading of a little of almost everything, the writer
has never stumbled upon any chanty or verse from which the famous
quatrain might have sprung. Nor has he ever met anyone who remembers to
have read or heard of anything of the kind. This includes Allison
himself, an omnivorous reader, a Stevenson admirer and student, a
friend of many of Stevenson's friends, and who, since the appearance of
"Treasure Island," has had hundreds of letters and conversations
bearing on the subject.

While "Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum," as a line, occasionally has since
been used in modern versification, but without any of the Stevenson
flavor and seldom with much poetic or dramatic instinct, all
authorities appear to be agreed that he evolved the quatrain. This
however is not a point at issue here. What seems to be of prime
importance to this narrative though, is that Allison, taking this
quatrain as a starting point, wrote a wholly modern versification in
words and meter so skillfully used as to create not only a vivid
atmosphere of piracy and antiquity, but of unskillfulness and
coarseness. That is the highest expression of art.

Since _The New York Times Book Review_ very unjustly raised a question
of the authorship of "Derelict," it has been my privilege to read the
really remarkable correspondence that has reached Mr. Allison from men
all over the country who have been treasuring newspaper clippings of
perverted versions of the poem out of pure admiration for its classical
lines and the bold portrayal of a grewsome story. These letters have
increased since _The Scoop_ of the Press Club of Chicago printed the
correspondence [See "The Unpublished Letter"] addressed to _The New
York Times Book Review_. _The Scoop_ continued its interesting
discussion of the poem in the issue of October 24, under a caption of
"Yo-ho-ho!" and incorporated a communication from "our Bramleykite
Pilling" on chanties in general, submitting also a criticism of
Allison's sea-faring knowledge of the consistency of mainsails and the
size of hawsers. If anything were needed to prove that "Derelict" is
not "of the sea," this in itself would be sufficient. _The Scoop_
article is worthy of production in toto:


    YO-HO-HO!

    In an annoying discussion of Young Allison's "Derelict" and the
    origin of the chanty beginning "Fifteen men on the Dead Man's
    Chest," _The New York Times_ quotes Robert Louis Stevenson as
    saying "Treasure Island came out of Kingsley's 'At Last,' where I
    got 'The Dead Man's Chest.'" That is interesting, and apparently
    authentic, but it has nothing to do with Allison's poem. The
    development of that poem, as related by C. I. Hitchcock in _The
    Scoop_ two weeks ago, is as clearly established as the similar
    process out of which emerged Smith's "Evolution," and is abundantly
    attested. Allison's chanty is one of the best, if not the very
    best, in its class, and _The Scoop_ is glad to have been given a
    chance to so accredit it.

    Taking up the subject matter, our Bramleykite Pilling, a retired
    mariner now enjoying his otium cum dignitate at the town of Athol
    in the state of Massachusetts, writes this letter:

        "In the days when sailing ships and sailors were on the
        deep, chanties were used with every heave or pull.

        "Fifteen or twenty men trailing onto a rope, fitting each
        other like spoons, as the sway-back pull induced whatever
        was at the other end to give way.

        "Nothing ever was broken, as it was seen to that such a
        possibility did not exist; hence the command 'Break
        something, break something.'

        "A chanty contained one verse or line only, the rest
        depending on the composition of the man who sang the verse
        or line. The pull was always at the accent of the chorus,
        as follows:

            "'Blow a man down is a blow me down trick.
              Blow--Blow--Blow--a man Down.
          Blow a man down to the home of old Nick.
              Give me some time to blow a man down.'

        "The pull being at every other line, there are eight pulls
        in the above.

        "For a quick pulling chanty we often use this one:

          "'Rendso was no sailor--
              Rendso, boys, Rendso,
          He shipped on board a whaler--
              Rendso, boys, Rendso.'

        "What happened to Rendso depended on the imagination of the
        one who sang the 'coal box'--the line. Here is a heaving
        chanty, or slow pull:

          "'To South Australia we're bound to go--
              Heave away, heave away.
          Let the wind blow high or low--
              We're bound to South Australia.
          We're going home and don't give a damn--
              Heave away, heave away.
          For the captain, the mate or any other man--
              We're bound to South Australia.'

        "'Fifteen men on the dead man's chest' never was used as a
        chanty. It would require too much bass; but it was used as
        a drone, which it is. An abstracted man would use a line,
        or may be, the whole verse, or the first line, used as
        derision. For illustration:

        "When I was last at the Press Club a question pertaining to
        the sea came up. One man sought the dictionary. To express
        my contempt I repeated the first line. 'We have no use for
        the dictionary. To hell with it,' expresses the idea. We
        sailors have a language of our own. It is ours, it is up to
        us to put you right when the impossible is said. I quote
        two such lines:

          "'We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight
              With twice ten turns of the hawser's bight!

        "These two lines are part of a poem written by Young
        Allison as a continuance of the Billy Bones song in
        Treasure Island.

        "A mainsail is made of 0, 1 or 2 canvas, which will stand
        alone; 28 sheet-iron would do as well.

        "A hawser, with us, is anything in the shape of a rope
        which is above six inches circumference. You will note that
        the bight is used--two parts, or loop. Instead of using the
        largest rope on board a ship, the smallest--skysail
        bunt-line--would have been more to the point.

        "A sailor would get back at me by saying 'Perhaps she
        didn't carry skysails.'

        "I would reply, 'Suppose the mainsail was as soft as silk
        and the hawser as pliable, would you, as a sailor, throw
        them away on dead men?'

        "A mistaken idea exists that Stevenson wrote the Billy
        Bones song and only used one verse in "Treasure Island." He
        'quotes' the only verse there is. We of the sea locate the
        scene of the verse at Dead Chest Island, half way between
        the S. W. & S. E. points of Porto Rico, four and one-half
        miles off shore, which was used as a buccaneer rendezvous,
        and later as the haven of wreckers and smugglers. It was
        first named by the Spanish 'Casa de Muertos'--the Coffin.

        "While I knew that Stevenson wrote, I did not know him as a
        writer. I knew him as the grandson and son of men who dared
        to do, and who achieved in the doing. I also knew him as a
        man interested in everything pertaining to the sea.

        "In fancy, I can see him gazing off to leeward, and hear
        him drone--as of yore--

          "'Fifteen men on the dead man's chest.'"

My personal interest in "Derelict" from its earliest stages has led me to
discuss it with many people, some of them A. B.'s, and this is the first
criticism I have ever heard of the technic of the words used to convey the
picture. I do not mean to say that Bramleykite Filling's points are not
well taken, technically, but I do say that qualified sailors, with literary
judgment, have been carried over these delinquencies of technic, if that
expresses it, by the very vividness but simplicity of the picture, which
could not be so were there a false note in either sentiment or portrayal.
Thus for this purpose a mainsail is a piece of jute bagging, if you please,
or ordinary canvas, and a hawser is a flexible rope.

When _The Scoop_ reached my hand with its entertaining and not unjust
criticism, I besought Allison for a few lines of comment to add to my
collection of "Derelict" treasures. In the same old characteristic way
(same old black pencil; same old spongy copy paper) he wrote me the
following note with which this volume closes:

                                                     Oct. 26, 1914.
    Dear Hitch:

    Bramleykite Pilling's comments on "Derelict," from the standpoint
    of scientific criticism, seem to me to be beyond any sort of
    reproach. He is evidently an actual, real water sailor who learned
    his nautics within the smell of bilgewater and the open sea. My own
    education as an able seaman was gained from years of youthful deep
    study of dime-novel sea yarns by Ned Buntline, Fenimore Cooper,
    Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., Billy Bowline, and other masters of the sea in
    libraries. I have, however, made two ocean trips from Norfolk to
    New York, time 23 hours. On both occasions I went sound asleep at
    the end of the first hour and woke up at the end of twenty-third
    hour. Under such circumstances I may have missed many important
    details of realism. I have also visited often the tomb of that fine
    old patriot-pirate and ex-Alderman, Dominique You, in the old
    French cemetery at New Orleans. As chief gunner for Jean Lafitte,
    he was some pirate; as chief artilleryman for Gen. Andrew Jackson
    at the battle of New Orleans, he was some patriot. I feel stronger
    in my piracy than in my seamanship. I love criticism--especially of
    poetry. If there is a single verse, or, mayhap, one line, of
    "Derelict" that will hold, without leaking, anything of a specific
    gravity heavier than moonshine, it would surprise me. But it
    _seems_ to, when it is adopted as a "real chanty"--and that's the
    test, that it "seems."

                                                           Y. E. A.




    Transcriber's Note: The book has a Pocket with 7 pieces of paper
    which are facsimiles noted in the text. The music for _A Piratical
    Ballad_ has been transcribed and is available as a _Finale_ .mus
    file, a pdf file, and a midi file.





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