Infomotions, Inc.The Joyful Heart / Schauffler, Robert Haven, 1879-1964

Author: Schauffler, Robert Haven, 1879-1964
Title: The Joyful Heart
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): auto; exuberance; poetry
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Title: The Joyful Heart

Author: Robert  Haven  Schauffler

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                           THE JOYFUL HEART


                       ROBERT HAVEN SCHAUFFLER


    "People who are nobly happy constitute the power, the beauty
    and the foundation of the state."

                          JEAN FINOT: _The Science of Happiness._

                         BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                       HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                    The Riverside Press Cambridge


       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *


This is a guide-book to joy. It is for the use of the sad, the bored,
the tired, anxious, disheartened and disappointed. It is for the use
of all those whose cup of vitality is not brimming over.

The world has not yet seen enough of joy. It bears the reputation of
an elusive sprite with finger always at lip bidding farewell. In
certain dark periods, especially in times of international warfare, it
threatens to vanish altogether from the earth. It is then the first
duty of all peaceful folk to find and hold fast to joy, keeping it in
trust for their embattled brothers.

Even if this were not their duty as citizens of the world, it would be
their duty as patriots. For Jean Finot is right in declaring that
"people who are nobly happy constitute the power, the beauty and the
foundation of the state."

This book is a manual of enthusiasm--the power which drives the
world--and of those kinds of exuberance (physical, mental and
spiritual) which can make every moment of every life worth living. It
aims to show how to get the most joy not only from traveling hopefully
toward one's goal, but also from the goal itself on arrival there. It
urges sound business methods in conducting that supreme business, the
investment of one's vitality.

It would show how one may find happiness all alone with his better
self, his 'Auto-Comrade'--an accomplishment well-nigh lost in this
crowded age. It would show how the gospel of exuberance, by offering
the joys of hitherto unsuspected power to the artist and his audience,
bids fair to lift the arts again to the lofty level of the Periclean
age. It would show the so-called "common" man or woman how to develop
that creative sympathy which may make him a 'master by proxy,' and
thus let him know the conscious happiness of playing an essential part
in the creation of works of genius. In short, the book tries to show
how the cup of joy may not only be kept full for one's personal use,
but may also be made hospitably to brim over for others.

To the _Atlantic Monthly_ thanks are due for permission to reprint
chapters I, III and IV; to the _North American Review_, for chapter
VIII; and to the _Century_, for chapters V, VI, IX and X.

R. H. S.


August, 1914.

       *       *       *       *       *












       *       *       *       *       *




Joy is such stuff as the hinges of Heaven's doors are made of. So our
fathers believed. So we supposed in childhood. Since then it has
become the literary fashion to oppose this idea. The writers would
have us think of joy not as a supernal hinge, but as a pottle of hay,
hung by a crafty creator before humanity's asinine nose. The donkey is
thus constantly incited to unrewarded efforts. And when he arrives at
the journey's end he is either defrauded of the hay outright, or he
dislikes it, or it disagrees with him.

Robert Louis Stevenson warns us that "to travel hopefully is a better
thing than to arrive," beautifully portraying the emptiness and
illusory character of achievement. And, of those who have attained,
Mr. E. F. Benson exclaims, "God help them!" These sayings are typical
of a widespread literary fashion. Now to slander Mistress Joy to-day
is a serious matter. For we are coming to realize that she is a far
more important person than we had supposed; that she is, in fact, one
of the chief managers of life. Instead of doing a modest little
business in an obscure suburb, she has offices that embrace the whole
first floor of humanity's city hall.

Of course I do not doubt that our writer-friends note down the truth
as they see it. But they see it imperfectly. They merely have a corner
of one eye on a corner of the truth. Therefore they tell untruths that
are the falser for being so charmingly and neatly expressed. What they
say about joy being the bribe that achievement offers us to get itself
realized may be true in a sense. But they are wrong in speaking of the
bribe as if it were an apple rotten at the core, or a bag of
counterfeit coin, or a wisp of artificial hay. It is none of these
things. It is sweet and genuine and well worth the necessary effort,
once we are in a position to appreciate it at anything like its true
worth. We must learn not to trust the beautiful writers too
implicitly. For there is no more treacherous guide than the consummate
artist on the wrong track.

Those who decry the joy of achievement are like tyros at skating who
venture alone upon thin ice, fall down, fall in, and insist on the way
home that winter sports have been grossly overestimated. This outcry
about men being unable to enjoy what they have attained is a
half-truth which cannot skate two consecutive strokes in the right
direction without the support of its better half. And its better half
is the fact that one may enjoy achievement hugely, provided only he
will get himself into proper condition.

Of course I am not for one moment denying that achievement is harder
to enjoy than the hope of achievement. Undoubtedly the former lacks
the glamour of the indistinct, "that sweet bloom of all that is far
away." But our celebrated writer-friends overlook the fact that
glamour and "sweet bloom" are so much pepsin to help weak stomachs
digest strong joy. If you would have the best possible time of it in
the world, develop your joy-digesting apparatus to the point where it
can, without a qualm, dispose of that tough morsel, the present,
obvious and attained. There will always be enough of the unachieved at
table to furnish balanced rations.

"God help the attainers!"--forsooth! Why, the ideas which I have
quoted, if they were carried to logical lengths, would make heaven a
farcical kill-joy, a weary, stale, flat, unprofitable morgue of
disappointed hopes, with Ennui for janitor. I admit that the old
heaven of the Semitic poets was constructed somewhat along these
lines. But that was no real heaven. The real heaven is a quiet,
harpless, beautiful place where every one is a heaven-born creator
and is engaged--not caring in the least for food or sleep--in turning
out, one after another, the greatest of masterpieces, and enjoying
them to the quick, both while they are being done and when they are
quite achieved.

I would not, however, fall into the opposite error and disparage the
joy of traveling hopefully. It is doubtless easy to amuse one's self
in a wayside air-castle of an hundred suites, equipped with
self-starting servants, a Congressional Library, a National Gallery of
pictures, a Vatican-ful of sculpture, with Hoppe for billiard-marker,
Paderewski to keep things going in the music-room, Wright as grand
hereditary master of the hangar, and Miss Annette Kellerman in charge
of the swimming-pool. I am not denying that such a castle is easier to
enjoy before the air has been squeezed out of it by the horny clutch
of reality, which moves it to the journey's end and sets it down with
a jar in its fifty-foot lot, complete with seven rooms and bath, and
only half an hour from the depot. But this is not for one moment
admitting the contention of the lords of literature that the
air-castle has a monopoly of joy, while the seven rooms and bath have
a monopoly of disillusionized boredom and anguish of mind. If your
before-mentioned apparatus is only in working order, you can have no
end of joy out of the cottage. And any morning before breakfast you
can build another, and vastly superior, air-castle on the vacant land
behind the woodshed.

"What is all this," I heard the reader ask, "about a joy-digesting

It consists of four parts. Physical exuberance is the first. To a
considerable extent joy depends on an overplus of health. The joy of
artistic creation, for instance, lies not so intensely and
intoxicatingly in what you may some time accomplish as in what has
actually just started into life under your pencil or clayey thumb,
your bow or brush. For what you are about to receive, the Lord, as a
rule, makes you duly thankful. But with the thankfulness is always
mingled the shadowy apprehension that your powers may fail you when
next you wish to use them. Thus the joy of anticipatory creation is
akin to pain. It holds no such pure bliss as actual creation. When you
are in full swing, what you have just finished (unless you are
exhausted) seems to you nearly always the best piece of work that you
have ever done. For your critical, inhibitory apparatus is temporarily
paralyzed by the intoxication of the moment. What makes so many
artists fail at these times to enjoy a maximum of pleasure and a
minimum of its opposite, is that they do not train their bodies "like
a strong man to run a race," and make and keep them aboundingly vital.
The actual toil takes so much of their meager vitality that they have
too little left with which to enjoy the resulting achievement. If they
become ever so slightly intoxicated over the work, they have a
dreadful morning after, whose pain they read back into the joy
preceding. And then they groan out that all is vanity, and slander joy
by calling it a pottle of hay.

It takes so much vitality to enjoy achievement because achievement is
something finished. And you cannot enjoy what is finished in art, for
instance, without re-creating it for yourself. But, though re-creation
demands almost as much vital overplus as creation, the layman should
realize that he has, as a rule, far more of this overplus than the
pallid, nervous sort of artist. And he should accordingly discount the
other's lamentations over the vanity of human achievement.

The reason why Hazlitt took no pleasure in writing, and in having
written, his delicious essays is that he did not know how to take
proper care of his body. To be extremely antithetical, I, on the other
hand, take so much pleasure in writing and in having written these
essays of mine (which are no hundredth part as beautiful, witty, wise,
or brilliant as Hazlitt's), that the leaden showers of drudgery,
discouragement, and disillusionment which accompany and follow almost
every one of them, and the need of Spartan training for their sake,
hardly displace a drop from the bucket of joy that the work brings.
Training has meant so much vital overplus to me that I long ago
spurted and caught up with my pottle of joy. And, finding that it made
a cud of unimagined flavor and durability, I substituted for the
pottle a placard to this effect:


This placard, hung always before me, is a reminder that a decent
respect for the laws of good sportsmanship requires one to keep in as
hard condition as possible for the hundred-yard dash called Life. Such
a regimen pays thousands of per cent. in yearly dividends. It allows
one to live in an almost continual state of exaltation rather like
that which the sprinter enjoys when, after months of flawless
preparation, he hurls himself through space like some winged creature
too much in love with the earth to leave it; while every drop of his
tingling blood makes him conscious of endless reserves of vitality.

Tingling blood is a reagent which is apt to transmute all things into
joy--even sorrow itself. I wonder if any one seriously doubts that it
was just this which was giving Browning's young David such a glorious
time of it when he broke into that jubilant war-whoop about "our
manhood's prime vigor" and "the wild joys of living."

The physical variety of exuberance, once won, makes easy the winning
of the mental variety. This, when it is almost isolated from the other
kinds, is what you enjoy when you soar easily along over the world of
abstract thought, or drink delight of battle with your intellectual
peers, or follow with full understanding the phonographic version of
some mighty, four-part fugue. To attain this means work. But if your
body is shouting for joy over the mere act of living, mental
calisthenics no longer appear so impossibly irksome. And anyway, the
discipline of your physical training has induced your will to put up
with a good deal of irksomeness. This is partly because its eye is
fixed on something beyond the far-off, divine event of achieving
concentration on one subject for five minutes without allowing the
mind to wander from it more than twenty-five times. That something is
a keenness of perception which makes any given fragment of nature or
human nature or art, however seemingly barren and commonplace,
endlessly alive with possibilities of joyful discovery--with
possibilities, even, of a developing imagination. For the
Auto-Comrade, your better self, is a magician. He can get something
out of nothing.

At this stage of your development you will probably discover in
yourself enough mental adroitness and power of concentration to enable
you to weed discordant thoughts out of the mind. As you wander through
your mental pleasure-grounds, whenever you come upon an ugly intruder
of a thought which might bloom into some poisonous emotion such as
fear, envy, hate, remorse, anger, and the like, there is only one
right way to treat it. Pull it up like a weed; drop it on the rubbish
heap as if it were a stinging nettle; and let some harmonious thought
grow in its place. There is no more reckless consumer of all kinds of
exuberance than the discordant thought, and weeding it out saves such
an amazing quantity of _eau de vie_ wherewith to water the garden of
joy, that every man may thus be his own Burbank and accomplish marvels
of mental horticulture.

When you have won physical and mental exuberance, you will have
pleased your Auto-Comrade to such an extent that he will most likely
startle and delight you with a birthday present as the reward of
virtue. Some fine morning you will climb out of the right side of your
bed and come whistling down to breakfast and find by your plate a neat
packet of spiritual exuberance with his best wishes. Such a gift is
what the true artist enjoys when inspiration comes too fast and full
for a dozen pens or brushes to record. Jeanne d'Arc knew it when the
mysterious voices spoke to her; and St. John on Patmos; and every true
lover at certain moments; and each one of us who has ever flung wide
the gates of prayer and felt the infinite come flooding in as the
clean vigor of the tide swirls up through a sour, stagnant marsh; or
who at some supreme instant has felt enfolding him, like the
everlasting arms, a sure conviction of immortality.

Now for purposes of convenience we may speak of these three kinds of
exuberance as we would speak of different individuals. But in reality
they hardly ever exist alone. The physical variety is almost sure to
induce the mental and spiritual varieties and to project itself into
them. The mental kind looks before and after and warms body and soul
with its radiant smile. And even when we are in the throes of a purely
spiritual love or religious ecstasy, we have a feeling--though
perhaps it is illusory--that the flesh and the intellect are more
potent than we knew.

These, then, constitute the first three parts of the joy-digesting
apparatus. I think there is no need of dwelling on their efficacy in
helping one to enjoy achievement. Let us pass, therefore, to the
fourth and last part, which is self-restraint.

Perhaps the worst charge usually made against achievement is its
sameness, its dry monotony. On the way to it (the writers say) you are
constantly falling in with something new. But, once there, you must
abandon the variegated delights of yesterday and settle down, to-day
and forever, to the same old thing. In this connection I recall an
epigram of Professor Woodrow Wilson's. He was lecturing to us young
Princetonians about Gladstone's ability to make any subject of
absorbing interest, even a four hours' speech on the budget. "Young
gentlemen," cried the professor, "it is not the subject that is dry.
It is _you_ that are dry!" Similarly, it is not achievement that is
dry; it is the achievers, who fondly suppose that now, having
achieved, they have no further use for the exuberance of body, mind,
and spirit, or the self-restraint which helped them toward their goal.

Particularly the self-restraint. One chief reason why the thing
attained palls so often and so quickly is that men seek to enjoy it
immoderately. Why, if Ponce de Leon had found the fountain of youth
and drunk of it as bibulously as we are apt to guzzle the cup of
achievement, he would not only have arrested the forward march of
time, but would have over-reached himself and slipped backward through
the years of his age to become a chronic infant in arms. Even
traveling hopefully would pall if one kept at it twenty-four hours a
day. Just feast on the rich food of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
morning, noon, and night for a few months, and see how you feel. There
is no other way. Achievement must be moderately indulged in, not made
the pretext for a debauch. If one has achieved a new cottage, for
example, let him take numerous week-end vacations from it. And let not
an author sit down and read through his own book the moment it comes
from the binder. A few more months will suffice to blur the memory of
those irrevocable, nauseating foundry proofs. If he forbears--instead
of being sickened by the stuff, no gentle reader, I venture to
predict, will be more keenly and delicately intrigued by the volume's
vigors and subtleties.

If you have recently made a fortune, be sure, in the course of your
Continental wanderings, to take many a third-class carriage full of
witty peasants, and stop at many an "unpretending" inn "Of the White
Hind," with bowered rose-garden and bowling-green running down to the
trout-filled river, and mine ample hostess herself to make and bring
you the dish for which she is famous over half the countryside. Thus
you will increase by at least one Baedekerian star-power the luster
of the next Grand Hotel Royal de l'Univers which may receive you. And
be sure to alternate pedestrianism with motoring, and the "peanut"
gallery with the stage-box. Omit not to punctuate with stag vacations
long periods of domestic felicity. When Solomon declared that all was
vanity and vexation of spirit I suspect that he had been more than
unusually intemperate in frequenting the hymeneal altar.

Why is it that the young painters, musicians, and playwrights who win
fame and fortune as heroes in the novels of Mr. E. F. Benson enjoy
achievement so hugely? Simply because they are exuberant in mind,
body, and spirit, and, if not averse to brandy and soda, are in other
ways, at least, paragons of moderation. And yet, in his "Book of
Months," Mr. Benson requests God to help those who have attained!

With this fourfold equipment of the three exuberances and moderation,
I defy Solomon himself in all his glory not to enjoy the situation
immensely and settle down in high good humor and content with the
paltry few scores of wives already achieved. I defy him not to enjoy
even his fame.

We have heard much from the gloomily illustrious about the fraudulent
promise of fame. At a distance, they admit, it seems like a banquet
board spread with a most toothsome feast. But step up to the table.
All you find there is dust and ashes, vanity and vexation of spirit
and a desiccated joint that defies the stoutest carver. If a man holds
this view, however, you may be rather sure that he belongs to the
_bourgeois_ great. For it is just as _bourgeois_ to win fame and then
not know what on earth to do with it, as it is to win fortune and then
not know what on earth to do with it. The more cultivated a famous man
is, the more he must enjoy the situation; for along with his dry scrag
of fame, the more he must have of the sauce which alone makes it
palatable. The recipe for this sauce runs as follows: to one
amphoraful best physical exuberance add spice of keen perception,
cream of imagination, and fruits of the spirit. Serve with grain of

That famous person is sauceless who can, without a tingle of joy,
overhear the couple in the next steamer-chairs mentioning his name
casually to each other as an accepted and honored household word. He
has no sauce for his scrag if he, unmoved, can see the face of some
beautiful child in the holiday crowd suddenly illuminated by the
pleasure of recognizing him, from his pictures, as the author of her
favorite story. He is _bourgeois_ if it gives him no joy when the
weight of his name swings the beam toward the good cause; or when the
mail brings luminous gratitude and comprehension from the perfect
stranger in Topeka or Tokyo. No; fame to the truly cultivated should
be fully as enjoyable as traveling hopefully toward fame.

In certain other cases, indeed, attainment is even more delicious than
the hope thereof. Think of the long, cool drink at the New Mexican
pueblo after a day in the incandescent desert, with your tongue
gradually enlarging itself from thirst. How is it with you, O golfer,
when, even up at the eighteenth, you top into the hazard, make a
desperate demonstration with the niblick, and wipe the sand out of
your eyes barely in time to see your ball creep across the distant
green and drop into the hole? Has not the new president's aged father
a slightly better time at the inauguration of his dear boy than he had
at any time during the fifty years of hoping for and predicting that
consummation? Does not the successful altruist enjoy more keenly the
certainty of having made the world a better place to live in, than he
had enjoyed the hope of achieving that desirable end? Can there be any
comparison between the joys of the tempest-driven soul aspiring, now
hopefully, now despairingly, to port, and the joys of the same soul
which has at last found a perfect haven in the heart of God?

And still the writers go on talking of joy as if it were a pottle of
hay--a flimsy fraud--and of the satisfaction of attainment as if it
were unattainable. Why do they not realize, at least, that their every
thrill of response to a beautiful melody, their every laugh of
delighted comprehension of Hazlitt or Crothers, is in itself
attainment? The creative appreciator of art is always at his goal. And
the much-maligned present is the only time at our disposal in which to
enjoy the much-advertised future.

Too bad that our literary friends should have gone to extremes on this
point! If Robert Louis Stevenson had noted that "to travel hopefully is
an easier thing than to arrive," he would undoubtedly have hit the
truth. If Mr. Benson had said, "If you attain, God help you bountifully
to exuberance," etc., that would have been unexceptionable. It would
even have been a more useful--though slightly supererogatory--service,
to point out for the million-and-first time that achievement is not all
that it seems to be from a considerable distance. In other words, that
the laws of perspective will not budge. These writers would thus quite
sufficiently have played dentist to Disappointment and extracted his
venomous fangs for us in advance. What the gentlemen really should have
done was to perform the dentistry first, reminding us once again that a
part of attainment is illusory and consists of such stuff as
dreams--good and bad--are made of. Then, on the other hand, they should
have demonstrated attainment's good points, finally leading up to its
supreme advantage. This advantage is--its strategic position.

Arriving beats hoping to arrive, in this: that while the hoper is so
keenly hopeful that he has little attention to spare for anything
besides the future, the arriver may take a broader, more leisurely
survey of things. The hoper's eyes are glued to the distant peak. The
attainer of that peak may recover his breath and enjoy a complete
panorama of his present achievement and may amuse himself moreover by
re-climbing the mountain in retrospect. He has also yonder farther and
loftier peak in his eye, which he may now look forward to attacking
the week after next; for this little preliminary jaunt is giving him
his mountain legs. Hence, while the hoper enjoys only the future, the
achiever, if his joy-digesting apparatus be working properly, rejoices
with exceeding great joy in past, present, and future alike. He has an
advantage of three to one over the merely hopeful traveler. And when
they meet this is the song he sings:--

    Mistress Joy is at your side
    Waiting to become a bride.

    Soft! Restrain your jubilation.
    That ripe mouth may not be kissed
    Ere you stand examination.
    Mistress Joy's a eugenist.

    Is your crony Moderation?
    Do your senses say you sooth?
    Are your veins the kind that tingle?
    Is your soul awake in truth?

    If these traits in you commingle
    Joy no more shall leave you single.



Exuberance is the income yielded by a wise investment of one's
vitality. On this income, so long as it flows in regularly, the
moderate man may live in the Land of the Joyful Heart, incased in
triple steel against any arrows of outrageous fortune that happen to
stray in across the frontier. Immigrants to this land who have no such
income are denied admission. They may steam into the country's
principal port, past the great statue of the goddess Joy who holds
aloft a brimming cup in the act of pledging the world. But they are
put ashore upon a small island for inspection. And so soon as the
inferior character of their investments becomes known, or their
recklessness in eating into their principal, they are deported.

The contrast between those within the well-guarded gates and those
without is an affecting one. The latter often squander vast fortunes
in futile attempts to gain a foothold in the country. And they have a
miserable time of it. Many of the natives, on the other hand, are so
poor that they have constantly to fight down the temptation to touch
their principal. But every time they resist, the old miracle happens
for them once more: the sheer act of living turns out to be "paradise

Now no mere fullness of life will qualify a man for admission to the
Land of the Joyful Heart. One must have overflowingness of life. In
his book "The Science of Happiness" Jean Finot declares, that the
"disenchantment and the sadness which degenerate into a sort of
pessimistic melancholy are frequently due to the diminution of the
vital energy. And as pain and sorrow mark the diminution, the joy of
living and the upspringing of happiness signify the increase of
energy.... By using special instruments, such as the plethysmograph
of Hallion, the pneumograph of Marey, the sphygmometer of Cheron, and
so many others which have come in fashion during these latter years,
we have succeeded in proving experimentally that joy, sadness, and
pain depend upon our energy." To keep exuberant one must possess more
than just enough vitality to fill the cup of the present. There must
be enough to make it brim over. Real exuberance, however, is not the
extravagant, jarring sort of thing that some thoughtless persons
suppose it to be. The word is not accented on the first syllable.
Indeed, it might just as well be "_in_uberance." It does not long to
make an impression or, in vulgar phrase, to "get a rise"; but tends to
be self-contained. It is not boisterousness. It is generous and
infectious, while boisterousness is inclined to be selfish and
repellent. Most of us would rather spend a week among a crowd of
mummies than in a gang of boisterous young blades. For boisterousness
is only a degenerate exuberance, drunk and on the rampage. The royal
old musician and poet was not filled with this, but with the real
thing, when he sang:

    "_He leadeth me beside the still waters.
    He restoreth my soul ...
    My cup runneth over._"

The merely boisterous man, on the other hand, is a fatuous spendthrift
of his fortune. He reminds us how close we are of kin to the
frolicsome chimpanzee. His attitude was expressed on election night by
a young man of Manhattan who shouted hoarsely to his fellow:

    "On with the dance; let joy be unrefined!"

Neither should mere vivacity be mistaken for exuberance. It is no more
surely indicative of the latter than is the laugh of a parrot. One of
the chief advantages of the Teutonic over the Latin type of man is
that the Latin is tempted to waste his precious vital overplus through
a continuous display of vivacity, while the less demonstrative Teuton
more easily stores his up for use where it will count. This gives him
an advantage in such pursuits as athletics and empire-building.

The more exuberance of all varieties one has stored up in body and
mind and spirit, the more of it one can bring to bear at the right
moment upon the things that count for most in the world--the things
that owe to it their lasting worth and their very existence. A little
of this precious commodity, more or less, is what often makes the
difference between the ordinary and the supreme achievement. It is the
liquid explosive that shatters the final, and most stubborn, barrier
between man and the Infinite. It is what Walt Whitman called "that
last spark, that sharp flash of power, that something or other more
which gives life to all great literature."

The happy man is the one who possesses these three kinds of overplus,
and whose will is powerful enough to keep them all healthy and to keep
him from indulging in their delights intemperately.

It is a ridiculous fallacy to assume, as many do, that such fullness
of life is an attribute of youth alone and slips out of the back door
when middle age knocks at the front. It is no more bound to go as the
wrinkles and gray hairs arrive than your income is bound to take wings
two or three score years after the original investment of the
principal. To ascribe it to youth as an exclusive attribute is as
fatuous as it would be to ascribe a respectable income only to the
recent investor.

A red-letter day it will be for us when we realize that exuberance
represents for every one the income from his fund of vitality; that
when one's exuberance is all gone, his income is temporarily
exhausted; and that he cannot go on living at the same rate without
touching the principal. The hard-headed, harder-worked American
business man is admittedly clever and prudent about money matters. But
when he comes to deal with immensely more important matters such as
life, health, and joy, he often needs a guardian. He has not yet
grasped the obvious truth that a man's fund of vitality ought to be
administered upon at least as sound a business basis as his fund of
dollars. The principal should not be broken into for living expenses
during a term of at least ninety-nine years. (Metchnikoff says that
this term is one hundred and twenty or so if you drink enough of the
Bulgarian bacillus.) And one should not be content with anything short
of a substantial rate of interest.

In one respect this life-business is a simpler thing to manage than
the dollar-business. For, in the former, if the interest comes in
regularly and unimpaired, you may know that the principal is safe,
while in the dollar-business they may be paying your interest out of
your principal, and you none the wiser until the crash. But here the
difference ceases. For if little or no vital interest comes in, your
generous scale of living is pinched. You may defer the catastrophe a
little by borrowing short-time loans at a ruinous rate from usurious
stimulants, giving many pounds of flesh as security. But soon Shylock
forecloses and you are forced to move with your sufferings to the
slums and ten-cent lodging-houses of Life. Moreover, you must face a
brutal dispossession from even the poor flat or dormitory cot you
there occupy--out amid the snows and blasts--

    "Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form"

there to pay slack life's "arrears of pain, darkness, and cold."

The reason why every day is a joy to the normal child is that he fell
heir at birth to a fortune of vitality and has not yet had time to
squander all his substance in riotous or thoughtless living, or to
overdraw his account in the Bank of Heaven on Earth. Every one of his
days is a joy--that is, except in so far as his elders have impressed
their tired standards of behavior too masterfully upon him. "Happy as
a child"--the commonness of the phrase is in itself a commentary. In
order to remain as happy as this for a century or so, all that a child
has to do is to invest his vitality on sound business principles, and
never overdraw or borrow. I shall not here go into the myriad details
of just how to invest and administer one's vitality. For there is no
dearth of wise books and physicians and "Masters of the Inn,"
competent to mark out sound business programs of work, exercise,
recreation, and regimen for body, mind, and spirit; while all that you
must contribute to the enterprise is the requisite comprehension,
time, money, and will-power. You see, I am not a professor of vital
commerce and investment; I am a stump-speaker, trying to induce the
voters to elect a sound business administration.

I believe that the blessings of climate give us of North America less
excuse than most other people for failing to put such an
administration into office. It is noteworthy that many of the
Europeans who have recently written their impressions of the United
States imagine that Colonel Roosevelt's brimming cup of vitality is
shared by nearly the whole nation. If it only were! But the fact that
these observers think so would seem to confirm our belief that our own
cup brims over more plentifully than that of Europe. This is probably
due to the exhilarating climate which makes America--physically, at
least, though not yet economically and socially--the promised land.

Of course I realize the absurdity of urging the great majority of
human beings to keep within their vital incomes. To ask the
overworked, under-fed, under-rested, under-played, shoddily dressed,
overcrowded masses of humanity why they are not exuberant, is to ask
again, with Marie Antoinette, why the people who are starving for
bread do not eat cake. The fact is that to keep within one's income
to-day, either financially or vitally, is an aristocratic luxury that
is absolutely denied to the many. Most men--the rich as well as the
poor--stumble through life three parts dead. The ruling class, if it
had the will and the skill, might awaken itself to fullness of life.
But only a comparatively few of the others could, because the world is
conducted on a principle which makes it even less possible for them to
store up a little hoard of vitality in their bodies against a rainy
day than to store up an overplus of dollars in the savings bank.

I think that this state of things is very different from the one which
the fathers contemplated in founding our nation. When they undertook
to secure for us all "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,"
they did not mean a bare clinging to existence, liberty to starve, and
the pursuit of a nimble happiness by the lame, the halt, and the
blind. They meant fullness of life, liberty in the broadest sense,
both outer and inner, and that almost certain success in the
attainment of happiness which these two guarantee a man. In a word,
the fathers meant to offer us all a good long draft of the brimming
cup with the full sum of benefits implied by that privilege. For the
vitalized man possesses real life and liberty, and finds happiness
usually at his disposal without putting himself to the trouble of

I can imagine the good fathers' chagrin if they are aware to-day of
how things have gone on in their republic. Perhaps they realize that
the possibility of exuberance has now become a special privilege. And
if they are still as wise as they once were, they will be doubly
exasperated by this state of affairs because they will see that it is
needless. It has been proved over and over again that modern machinery
has removed all real necessity for poverty and overwork. There is
enough to go 'round. Under a more democratic system we might have
enough of the necessities and reasonable comforts of life to supply
each of the hundred million Americans, if every man did no more than a
wholesome amount of productive labor in a day and had the rest of his
time for constructive leisure and real living.

On the same terms there is likewise enough exuberance to go 'round.
The only obstacle to placing it within the reach of all exists in
men's minds. Men are still too inert and blindly conservative to stand
up together and decree that industry shall be no longer conducted for
the inordinate profit of the few, but for the use of the many. Until
that day comes, the possibility of exuberance will remain a special

In the mean while it is too bad that the favored classes do not make
more use of this privilege. It is absurd that such large numbers of
them are still as far from exuberance as the unprivileged. They keep
reducing their overplus of vitality to an _under-minus_ of it by too
much work and too foolish play, by plain thinking and high living and
the dissipation of maintaining a pace too swift for their as yet
unadjusted organisms. They keep their house of life always a little
chilly by opening the windows before the furnace has had a chance to
take the chill out of the rooms.

If we would bring joy to the masses why not first vitalize the
classes? If the latter can be led to develop a fondness for that
brimming cup which is theirs for the asking, a long step will be taken
toward the possibility of overflowing life for all. The classes will
come to realize that, even from a selfish point of view, democracy is
desirable; that because man is a social animal, the best-being of the
one is inseparable from the best-being of the many; that no one can be
perfectly exuberant until all are exuberant. Jean Finot is right:
"True happiness is so much the greater and deeper in the proportion
that it embraces and unites in a fraternal chain more men, more
countries, more worlds."

But the classes may also be moved by instincts less selfish. For the
brimming cup has this at least in common with the cup that inebriates:
its possessor is usually filled with a generous--if sometimes
maudlin--anxiety to have others enjoy his own form of beverage. The
present writer is a case in point. His reason for making this book lay
in a convivial desire to share with as many as possible the contents
of a newly acquired brimming cup. Before getting hold of this cup, the
writer would have looked with an indifferent and perhaps hostile eye
upon the proposition to make such a blessing generally available. But
now he cannot for the life of him see how any one whose body, mind,
and spirit are alive and reasonably healthy can help wishing the same
jolly good fortune for all mankind.

Horace Traubel records that the aged Walt Whitman was once talking
philosophy with some of his friends when an intensely bored youngster
slid down from his high chair and remarked to nobody in particular:
"There's too much old folk here for me!"

"For me, too," cried the poet with one of his hearty laughs. "We are
all of us a good deal older than we need to be, than we think we are.
Let's all get young again."

Even so! Here's to eternal youth for every one. And here's to the hour
when we may catch the eye of humanity and pledge all brother men in
the brimming cup.



Enthusiasm is exuberance-with-a-motive. It is the power that makes the
world go 'round. The old Greeks who christened it knew that it was the
god-energy in the human machine. Without its driving force nothing
worth doing has ever been done. It is man's dearest possession. Love,
friendship, religion, altruism, devotion to hobby or career--all
these, and most of the other good things in life, are forms of
enthusiasm. A medicine for the most diverse ills, it alleviates both
the pains of poverty and the boredom of riches. Apart from it man's
heart is seldom joyful. Therefore it should be husbanded with zeal and
spent with wisdom.

To waste it is folly; to misuse it, disaster. For it is safe to
utilize this god-energy only in its own proper sphere. Enthusiasm
moves the human vessel. To let it move the rudder, too, is criminal
negligence. Brahms once made a remark somewhat to this effect: The
reason why there is so much bad music in the world is that composers
are in too much of a hurry. When an inspiration comes to them, what do
they do? Instead of taking it out for a long, cool walk, they sit down
at once to work it up, but let it work _them_ up instead into an
absolutely uncritical enthusiasm in which every splutter of the
goose-quill looks to them like part of a swan-song.

Love is blind, they say. This is an exaggeration. But it is based on
the fact that enthusiasm, whether it appears as love, or in any other
form, always has trouble with its eyes. In its own place it is
incomparably efficient; only keep it away from the pilot-house!

Since this god-energy is the most precious and important thing that we
have, why should our word for its possessor have sunk almost to the
level of a contemptuous epithet? Nine times in ten we apply it to the
man who allows his enthusiasm to steer his vessel. It would be full as
logical to employ the word "writer" for one who misuses his literary
gift in writing dishonest advertisements. When we speak of an
"enthusiast" to-day, we usually mean a person who has all the
ill-judging impulsiveness of a child without its compensating charm,
and is therefore not to be taken seriously. "He's only an enthusiast!"
This has been said about Columbus and Christ and every other great man
who ever lived.

But besides its poor sense of distance and direction, men have another
complaint against enthusiasm. They think it insincere on account of
its capacity for frequent and violent fluctuation in temperature. In
his "Creative Evolution," Bergson shows how "our most ardent
enthusiasm, as soon as it is externalized into action, is so naturally
congealed into the cold calculation of interest or vanity, the one so
easily takes the shape of the other, that we might confuse them
together, doubt our own sincerity, deny goodness and love, if we did
not know that the dead retain for a time the features of the living."

The philosopher then goes on to show how, when we fall into this
confusion, we are unjust to enthusiasm, which is the materialization
of the invisible breath of life itself. It is "the spirit." The action
it induces is "the letter." These constitute two different and often
antagonistic movements. The letter kills the spirit. But when this
occurs we are apt to mistake the slayer for the slain and impute to
the ardent spirit all the cold vices of its murderer. Hence, the taint
of insincerity that seems to hang about enthusiasm is, after all,
nothing but illusion. To be just we should discount this illusion in
advance as the wise man discounts discouragement. And the epithet for
the man whose lungs are large with the breath of life should cease to
be a term of reproach.

Enthusiasm is the prevailing characteristic of the child and of the
adult who does memorable things. The two are near of kin and bear a
family resemblance. Youth trails clouds of glory. Glory often trails
clouds of youth. Usually the eternal man is the eternal boy; and the
more of a boy he is, the more of a man. The most conventional-seeming
great men possess as a rule a secret vein of eternal-boyishness. Our
idea of Brahms, for example, is of a person hopelessly mature and
respectable. But we open Kalbeck's new biography and discover him
climbing a tree to conduct his chorus while swaying upon a branch; or,
in his fat forties, playing at frog-catching like a five-year-old.

The prominent American is no less youthful. Not long ago one of our
good gray men of letters was among his children, awaiting dinner and
his wife. Her footsteps sounded on the stairs. "Quick, children!" he
exclaimed. "Here's mother. Let's hide under the table and when she
comes in we'll rush out on all-fours and pretend we're bears." The
maneuver was executed with spirit. At the preconcerted signal, out
they all waddled and galumphed with horrid grunts--only to find
something unfamiliar about mother's skirt, and, glancing up, to
discover that it hung upon a strange and terrified guest.

The biographers have paid too little attention to the god-energy of
their heroes. I think that it should be one of the crowning
achievements of biography to communicate to the reader certain actual
vibrations of the enthusiasm that filled the scientist or philosopher
for truth; the patriot for his country; the artist for beauty and
self-expression; the altruist for humanity; the discoverer for
knowledge; the lover or friend for a kindred soul; the prophet,
martyr, or saint for his god.

Every lover, according to Emerson, is a poet. Not only is this true,
but every one of us, when in the sway of any enthusiasm, has in him
something creative. Therefore a record of the most ordinary person's
enthusiasms should prove as well worth reading as the ordinary record
we have of the extraordinary person's life if written with the usual
neglect of this important subject. Now I should like to try the
experiment of sketching in outline a new kind of biography. It would
consist entirely of the record of an ordinary person's enthusiasms.
But, as I know no other life-story so well as my own, perhaps the
reader will pardon me for abiding in the first person singular. He may
grant pardon the more readily if he realizes the universality of this
offense among writers. For it is a fact that almost all novels,
stories, poems, and essays are only more or less cleverly disguised
autobiography. So here follow some of my enthusiasms in a new




In looking back over my own life, a series of enthusiasms would appear
to stand out as a sort of spinal system, about which are grouped as
tributaries all the dry bones and other minor phenomena of existence.
Or, rather, enthusiasm is the deep, clear, sparkling stream which
carries along and solves and neutralizes, if not sweetens, in its
impetuous flow life's rubbish and superfluities of all kinds, such as
school, the Puritan Sabbath, boot and hair-brushing, polite and
unpolemic converse with bores, prigs, pedants, and shorter
catechists--and so on all the way down between the shores of age to
the higher mathematics, bank failures, and the occasional editor whose
word is not as good as his bond.

My first enthusiasm was for good things to eat. It was stimulated by
that priceless asset, a virginal palate. But here at once the medium
of expression fails. For what may words presume to do with the flavor
of that first dish of oatmeal; with the first pear, grape, watermelon;
with the Bohemian roll called _Hooska_, besprinkled with poppy and
mandragora; or the wondrous dishes which our Viennese cook called
_Aepfelstrudel_ and _Scheiterhaufen_? The best way for me to express
my reaction to each of these delicacies would be to play it on the
'cello. The next best would be to declare that they tasted somewhat
better than Eve thought the apple was going to taste. But how absurdly
inadequate this sounds! I suppose the truth is that such enthusiasms
have become too utterly congealed in our _blase_ minds when at last
these minds have grown mature enough to grasp the principles of
penmanship. So that whatever has been recorded about the sensations of
extreme youth is probably all false. Why, even

    "Heaven lies about us in our infancy,"--

as Wordsworth revealed in his "Ode on Immortality." And though
Tennyson pointed out that we try to revenge ourselves by lying about
heaven in our maturity, this does not serve to correct a single one of
crabbed age's misapprehensions about youth.

Games next inflamed my fancy. More than dominoes or Halma, lead
soldiers appealed to me, and tops, marbles, and battledore and
shuttlecock. Through tag, fire-engine, pom-pom-pull-away,
hide-and-seek, baseball, and boxing, I came to tennis, which I knew
instinctively was to be my athletic _grand passion_. Perhaps I was
first attracted by the game's constant humor which was forever making
the ball imitate or caricature humanity, or beguiling the players to
act like solemn automata. For children are usually quicker than
grown-ups to see these droll resemblances. I came by degrees to like
the game's variety, its tense excitement, its beauty of posture and
curve. And before long I vaguely felt what I later learned
consciously: that tennis is a sure revealer of character. Three sets
with a man suffice to give one a working knowledge of his moral
equipment; six, of his chief mental traits; and a dozen, of that most
important, and usually veiled part of him, his subconscious
personality. Young people of opposite sexes are sometimes counseled to
take a long railway journey together before deciding on a matrimonial
merger. But I would respectfully advise them rather to play "singles"
with each other before venturing upon a continuous game of doubles.

The collecting mania appeared some time before tennis. I first
collected ferns under a crag in a deep glen. Mere amassing soon gave
way to discrimination, which led to picking out a favorite fern. This
was chosen, I now realize, with a woeful lack of fine feeling. I
called it "The Alligator" from its fancied resemblance to my brother's
alligator-skin traveling-bag. But admiration of this fern brought a
dawning consciousness that certain natural objects were preferable to
others. This led, in years, to an enthusiasm for collecting
impressions of the beauty, strength, sympathy, and significance of
nature. The Alligator fern, as I still call it, has become a symbolic
thing to me; and the sight of it now stands for my supreme or
best-loved impression, not alone in the world of ferns, but also in
each department of nature. Among forests it symbolizes the immemorial
incense cedars and redwoods of the Yosemite; among shores, those of
Capri and Monterey; among mountains, the glowing one called Isis as
seen at dawn from the depths of the Grand Canon.


Next, I collected postage-stamps. I know that it is customary to-day
for writers to sneer at this pursuit. But surely they have forgotten
its variety and subtlety; its demand on the imagination; how it makes
history and geography live, and initiates one painlessly into the
mysteries of the currency of all nations. Then what a tonic it is for
the memory! Only think of the implications of the annual
price-catalogue! Soon after the issue of this work, every collector
worthy the name has almost unconsciously filed away in his mind the
current market values of thousands of stamps. And he can tell you
offhand, not only their worth in the normal perforated and canceled
condition, but also how their values vary if they are uncanceled,
unperforated, embossed, rouletted, surcharged with all manner of
initials, printed by mistake with the king standing on his head, or
water-marked anything from a horn of plenty to the seven lean kine of
Egypt. This feat of memory is, moreover, no hardship at all, for the
enthusiasm of the normal stamp-collector is so potent that its
proprietor has only to stand by and let it do all the work.

We often hear that the wealthy do not enjoy their possessions. This
depends entirely upon the wealthy. That some of them enjoy their
treasures giddily, madly, my own experience proves. For, as youthful
stamp-collectors went in those days, I was a philatelic magnate. By
inheritance, by the ceaseless and passionate trading of duplicates, by
rummaging in every available attic, by correspondence with a wide
circle of foreign missionaries, and by delivering up my whole
allowance, to the dealers, I had amassed a collection of several
thousand varieties. Among these were such gems as all of the
triangular Cape of Good Hopes, almost all of the early Persians, and
our own spectacular issue of 1869 unused, including the one on which
the silk-stockinged fathers are signing the Declaration of
Independence. Such possessions as these I well-nigh worshiped.

Even to-day, after having collected no stamps for a generation, the
chance sight of an "approval sheet," with its paper-hinged reminders
of every land, gives me a curious sensation. There visit my spine
echoes of the thrills that used to course it on similar occasions in
boyhood. These were the days when my stamps had formed for me mental
pictures--more or less accurate--of each country from Angola to
Zululand, its history, climate, scenery, inhabitants, and rulers. To
possess its rarest stamp was mysteriously connected in my mind with
being given the freedom of the land itself, and introduced with warm
recommendations to its _genius loci_.

Even old circulars issued by dealers, now long gone to stampless
climes, have power still to raise the ghost of the vanished glamour. I
prefer those of foreign dealers because their English has the quaint,
other-world atmosphere of what they dealt in. The other day I found in
an old scrapbook a circular from Vienna, which annihilated a score of
years with its very first words:



     Being lately so much engaged into my wholesale business ... I
     have made up my mind to sell out a large post of my
     retail-stamps at under-prices. They are rests of larger
     collections containing for the most, only older marks and
     not thrash possibly put together purposedly as they used to
     be composed by the other dealers and containing therefore
     mostly but worthless and useless nouveautes of Central

Before continuing this persuasive flow, the dealer inserts a number of
testimonials like the following. He calls them:


     Sent package having surpassed my expectations I beg to remit
     by to-days post-office-ordres Mk. 100. Kindly please send me
     by return of post offered album wanted for retail sale.


The dealer now comes to his peroration:

     I beg to call the kind of attention of every buyer to the
     fact of my selling all these packages and albums with my own
     loss merely for clearings sake of my retail business and in
     order to get rid of them as much and as soon as possible.
     With 25-60 % abatement I give stamps and whole things to
     societies against four weeks calculation.

     All collectors are bound to oblige themselves by writing
     contemporaneously with sending in the depository amount to
     make calculation within a week as latest term.

It is enough! As I read, the old magic enfolds me, and I am seized
with longing to turn myself into a society of collectors and to
implore the altruistic dealer "kindly please" to send me, at a
prodigious "abatement," "stamps and whole things against four weeks


The youngest children of large families are apt to be lonely folk,
somewhat retired and individualistic in their enthusiasms. I was such
a child, blessed by circumstances with few playfellows and rather
inclined to sedentary joys. Even when I reached the barbaric stage of
evolution where youth is gripped by enthusiasm for the main pursuits
of his primitive ancestors, I was fain to enjoy these in the more
sophisticated forms natural to a lonely young city-dweller.

When stamps had passed their zenith I was filled with a lust for
slaughter. Fish were at first the desired victims. Day after day I sat
watching a hopelessly buoyant cork refuse to bob into the depths of
the muddy and torpid Cuyahoga. I was like some fond parent, hoping
against hope to see his child out-live the flippant period and dive
beneath the surface of things, into touch with the great living
realities. And when the cork finally marked a historic epoch by
vanishing, and a small, inert, and intensely bored sucker was pulled
in hand over hand, I felt thrills of gratified longing and conquest
old and strong as the race.

But presently I myself was drawn, like the cork, beneath the
superficial surface of the angler's art. For in the public library I
chanced on a shelf of books, that told about fishing of a nobler,
jollier, more seductive sort. At once I was consumed with a passion
for five-ounce split-bamboo fly-rods, ethereal leaders, double-tapered
casting-lines of braided silk, and artificial flies more fair than
birds of paradise. Armed in spirit, with all these, I waded the
streams of England with kindly old Isaak Walton, and ranged the
Restigouche with the predecessors of Henry van Dyke. These dreams
brought with them a certain amount of satisfaction--about as much
satisfaction as if they had come as guests to a surprise party, each
equipped with a small sandwich and a large appetite. The visions were
pleasant, of course, but they cried out, and made me cry out, for
action. There were no trout, to be sure, within a hundred miles, and
there was no way of getting to any trouty realm of delight. But I did
what I could to be prepared for the blessed hour when we should meet.
I secured five new subscriptions or so to "The Boys' Chronicle" (let
us call it), and received in return a fly-rod so flimsy that it would
have resolved itself into its elements at sight of a half-pound
trout. It was destined, though, never to meet with this embarrassment.

My casting-line bore a family resemblance to grocery string. My leader
was a piece of gut from my brother's 'cello; my flybook, an old
wallet. As for flies, they seemed beyond my means; and it was
perplexing to know what to do, until I found a book which said that it
was better by far to tie your own flies. With joyful relief I acted on
this counsel. Plucking the feather-duster, I tied two White Millers
with shoe-thread upon cod-hooks. One of these I stained and streaked
with my heart's blood into the semblance of a Parmacheene Belle. The
canary furnished materials for a Yellow May; a dooryard English
sparrow, for a Brown Hackle. My masterpiece, the beautiful,
parti-colored fly known as Jock Scott, owed its being to my sister's
Easter bonnet.

I covered the points of the hooks with pieces of cork, and fished on
the front lawn from morning to night, leaning with difficulty against
the thrust of an imaginary torrent. And I never ceased striving to
make the three flies straighten out properly as the books directed,
and fall like thistledown upon the strategic spot where the empty
tomato can was anchored, and then jiggle appetizingly down over the
four-pounder, where he sulked in the deep hole just beyond the

The hunting fever was wakened by the need for the Brown Hackle already
mentioned. But as the choice of weapons and of victims culminated in
the air-gun and the sparrow, respectively, my earliest hunting was
confined even more closely than my fishing to the library and the
dense and teeming forests of the imagination.

But while somewhat handicapped here by the scarcity of ferocious game,
I was more fortunate in another enthusiasm which attacked me at almost
the same time. For however unpropitious the hunting is on any given
part of the earth's surface, there is everywhere and always an
abundance of good hidden-treasure-seeking to be had. The garden, the
attic, the tennis lawn all suffered. And my initiative was
strengthened by the discovery of an incomparable book all about a dead
man's chest, and not only digging for gold in a secret island, but
finding it, too, by jingo! and fighting off the mutineers.

These aspirations naturally led to games of Pirate, or Outlaw, which
were handicapped, however, by the scarcity of playmates, and their
curious hesitation to serve as victims. As pirates and outlaws are
well known to be the most superstitious of creatures, inclining to the
primitive in their religious views, we were naturally led into a sort
of dread enthusiasm for--or enthusiastic dread of--the whole pantheon
of spooks, sprites, and bugaboos to which savages and children, great
and small, bow the knee. My dreams at that time ran something like


    Playing hymn-tunes day and night
    On a harp _may_ be all right
    For the grown-ups; but for me,
    I do wish that heaven could be
    Sort o' like a circus, run
    So a kid could have some fun!

    There I'd not play harps, but horns
    When I chased the unicorns--
    Magic tubes with pistons greasy,
    Slides that pushed and pulled out easy,
    Cylinders of snaky brass
    Where the fingers like to fuss,
    Polished like a looking-glass,
    Ending in a blunderbuss.

    I would ride a horse of steel
    Wound up with a ratchet-wheel.
    Every beast I'd put to rout
    Like the man I read about.
    I would singe the leopard's hair,
    Stalk the vampire and the adder,
    Drive the werewolf from his lair,
    Make the mad gorilla madder.
    Needle-guns my work should do.
    But, if beasts got closer to,
    I would pierce them to the marrow
    With a barbed and poisoned arrow,
    Or I'd whack 'em on the skull
    Till my scimiter was dull.

    If these weapons didn't work,
    With a kris or bowie-knife,
    Poniard, assegai, or dirk,
    I would make them beg for life;--
    Spare them, though, if they'd be good
    And guard me from what haunts the wood--
    From those creepy, shuddery sights
    That come round a fellow nights--
    Imps that squeak and trolls that prowl,
    Ghouls, the slimy devil-fowl,
    Headless goblins with lassoes,
    Scarlet witches worse than those,
    Flying dragon-fish that bellow
    So as most to scare a fellow....

    There, as nearly as I could,
    I would live like Robin Hood,
    Taking down the mean and haughty,
    Getting plunder from the naughty
    To reward all honest men
    Who should seek my outlaw's den.

    When I'd wearied of these pleasures
    I'd go hunt for hidden treasures--
    In no ordinary way,
    Pirates' luggers I'd waylay;
    Board them from my sinking dory,
    Wade through decks of gore and glory,
    Drive the fiends, with blazing matchlock,
    Down below, and snap the hatch-lock.

    Next, I'd scud beneath the sky-land,
    Sight the hills of Treasure Island,
    Prowl and peer and prod and prise,
    Till there burst upon my eyes
    Just the proper pirate's freight:
    Gold doubloons and pieces of eight!

    Then--the very best of all--
    Suddenly a stranger tall
    Would appear, and I'd forget
    That we hadn't ever met.
    And with cap upthrown I'd greet him
    (Turning from the plunder, yellow)
    And I'd hurry fast to meet him,
    For he'd be the very fellow
    Who, I think, invented fun--
    Robert Louis Stevenson.

The enthusiasms of this barbaric period never died. They grew up,
instead, and proved serviceable friends. Fishing and hunting are now
the high-lights of vacation time. The crude call of the weird and the
inexplicable has modulated into a siren note from the forgotten
psychic continents which we Western peoples have only just discovered
and begun to explore. As for the buried treasure craze--why, my
life-work practically amounts to a daily search for hidden valuables
in the cellars and attics, the chimney-pieces and desert islands of
the mind, and secret attempts to coin them into currency.

And so I might go on to tell of my enthusiasms for no end of other
things like reading, modeling, folk-lore, cathedrals, writing,
pictures, and the theater. Then there is the long story of that
enthusiasm called Love, of Friendship its twin, and their elder
brother, Religion, and their younger sister, Altruism. And travel and
adventure and so on. But no! It is, I believe, a misdemeanor to obtain
attention under false pretenses. If I have caught the reader's eye by
promising to illustrate in outline a new method of writing
autobiography, I must not abuse his confidence by putting that method
into practice. So, with a regret almost equal to that of Lewis
Carroll's famous Bellman--

    I skip twenty years--

and close with my latest enthusiasm.


Confirmed wanderers that we were, my wife and I had rented a house for
the winter in a Massachusetts coast village and had fallen somewhat
under the spell of the place. Nevertheless, we had decided to move on
soon--to try, in fact, another trip through Italy. Our friendly
neighbors urged us to buy land up the "back lane" instead, and build
and settle down. We knew nothing of this region, however, and scarcely
heard them.

But they were so insistent that one day we ventured up the back lane
at dusk and began to explore the woods. It grew dark and we thought of
turning back. Then it began to grow light again. A full moon was
climbing up through the maples, inviting further explorations. We
pushed through a dense undergrowth and presently were in a grove of
great white pines. There was a faint sound of running water, and
suddenly we came upon an astonishing brook--wide, swift, and musical.
We had not suspected the existence of such a brook within a dozen
leagues. It was over-arched by tall oaks and elms, beeches, tupelos,
and maples. The moonbeams were dancing in the ripples and on the
floating castles of foam.

"What a place for a study!"

"Yes; a log cabin with a big stone fireplace."

The remarks came idly, but our eyes met and held. Moved by one impulse
we turned from the stream and remarked what bosh people will sometimes
talk, and discussed the coming Italian trip as we moved cautiously
among the briers. But when we came once more to the veteran pines,
they seemed more glamorous than ever in the moonlight, especially one
that stood near a large holly, apart from the rest--a three-prong
lyrical fellow--and his opposite, a burly, thickset archer, bending
his long-bow into a most exquisite curve. The fragrant pine needles
whispered. The brook lent its faint music.

"Quick! We had better get away!"

A forgotten lumber road led us safe from briers up a hill. Out of a
dense oak grove we suddenly emerged upon the more open crest. Our feet
sank deep in moss.

"Look," I said.

Over the heads of the high forest trees below shimmered a mile of
moonlit marshes, and beyond them a gleam--perhaps from some vessel far
at sea, perhaps even from a Provincetown lighthouse.

"Yes, but look!"

At a touch I faced around and beheld, crowning the hill, a stately
company of red cedars, comely and dense and mysterious as the
cypresses of Tivoli, and gloriously drenched in moonlight.

"But what a place for a house!"

"Let's give up Italy," was the answer, "and make this wood our home."

By instinct and training we were two inveterate wanderers. Never had
we possessed so much as a shingle or a spoonful of earth. But the
nest-building enthusiasm had us at last. Our hands met in compact. As
we strolled reluctantly homeward to a ten-o'clock dinner we talked of
road-making, swamps, pneumatic water-systems, the nimbleness of
dollars, and mountains of other difficulties. And we agreed that the
only kind of faith which can easily remove mountains is the faith of
the enthusiast.



Human nature abhors a vacuum, especially a vacuum inside itself. Offer
the ordinary man a week's vacation all alone, and he will look as
though you were offering him a cell in Sing Sing.

"There are," as Ruth Cameron truly observes, "a great many people to
whom there is no prospect more terrifying than that of a few hours
with only their own selves for company. To escape that terrible
catastrophe, they will make friends with the most fearful bore or read
the most stupid story.... If such people are marooned a few hours, not
only without human companionship, but even without a book or magazine
with which to screen their own stupidity from themselves, they are
fairly frantic."

If any one hates to be alone with himself, the chances are that he
has not much of any self to be alone with. He is in as desolate a
condition as a certain Mr. Pease of Oberlin, who, having lost his wife
and children, set up his own tombstone and chiseled upon it this

              "Here lies the pod.
    The Pease are shelled and gone to God."

Now, pod-like people such as he are always solitary wherever other
people are not; and there is, of course, nothing much more distressing
than solitariness. These people, however, fall through sheer ignorance
into a confusion of thought. They suppose that solitude and
solitariness are the same thing. To the artist in life--to the wise
keeper of the joyful heart--there is just one difference between these
two: it is the difference between heaven and its antipodes. For, to
the artist in life, solitude is solitariness plus the Auto-Comrade.

As it is the Auto-Comrade who makes all the difference, I shall try to
describe his appearance. His eyes are the most arresting part of him.
They never peer stupidly through great, thick spectacles of others'
making. They are scarcely ever closed in sleep, and sometimes make
their happiest discoveries during the small hours. These hours are
truly small because the Auto-Comrade often turns his eyes into the
lenses of a moving-picture machine--such an entertaining one that it
compresses the hours to seconds. It is through constant, alert use
that his eyes have become sharp. They can pierce through the rinds of
the toughest personalities, and even penetrate on occasion into the
future. They can also take in whole panoramas of the past in one
sweeping look. For they are of that "inner" variety through which
Wordsworth, winter after winter, used to survey his daffodil-fields.
"The bliss of solitude," he called them.

The Auto-Comrade has an adjustable brow. It can be raised high enough
to hold and reverberate and add rich overtones to, the grandest
chords of thought ever struck by a Plato, a Buddha, or a Kant. The
next instant it may easily be lowered to the point where the ordinary
cartoon of commerce or the tiny cachinnation of a machine-made
Chesterton paradox will not ring entirely hollow. As for his voice, it
can at times be more musical than Melba's or Caruso's. Without being
raised above a whisper, it can girdle the globe. It can barely breathe
some delicious new melody; yet the thing will float forth not only
undiminished, but gathering beauty, significance, and incisiveness in
every land it passes through.

The Auto-Comrade is an erect, wiry young figure of an athlete. As he
trades at the Seven-League Boot and Shoe Concern, it never bothers him
to accompany you on the longest tramps. His feet simply cannot be
tired out. As for his hands, they are always alert to give you a lift
up the rough places on the mountain-side. He has remarkable presence
of body. In any emergency he is usually the best man on the spot. He
is at once seer, creator, accomplisher, and present help in time of
trouble. But his everyday occupation is that of entertainer. He is the
joy-bringer--the Prometheus of pleasure. In his vicinity there is no
such thing as ennui or lonesomeness. Emerson wrote:

    "When I would spend a lonely day
    Sun and moon are in my way."

But for pals of the Auto-Comrade, not only sun, moon, etc., are in the
way, but all of his own unlimited resources. For every time and season
he has a fittingly varied repertory of entertainment.

Now and again he startles you by the legerdemain feat of snatching
brand-new ideas out of the blue, like rabbits out of a hat. While you
stand at the port-hole of your cabin and watch the rollers rushing
back to the beloved home-land you are quitting, he marshals your
friends and acquaintances into a long line for a word of greeting or a
rapid-fire chat, just as though you were some idol of the people, and
were steaming in past the Statue of Liberty on your way home from
lionizing and being lionized abroad, and the Auto-Comrade were the
factotum at your elbow who asks, "What name, please?"

After the friends and acquaintances, he even brings up your _betes
noires_ and dearest enemies for inspection and comment. Strangely
enough, viewed in this way, these persons no longer seem so
contemptible or pernicious or devilish as they once did. At this point
your factotum rubs your eye-glasses bright with the handkerchief he
always carries about for slate-cleaning purposes, and lo! you even
begin to discover good points about the chaps, hitherto unsuspected.

Then there are always your million-and-one favorite melodies which
nobody but that all-around musical amateur, the Auto-Comrade, can so
exquisitely whistle, hum, strum, fiddle, blat, or roar. There is also
a universe full of new ones for him to improvise. And he is the
jolliest sort of fellow musician, because, when you play or sing a
duet with him, you can combine with the exciting give-and-take and
reciprocal stimulation of the duet, the god-like autocracy of the
solo, its opportunity for wide, uninterrupted, uncoerced
self-expression. Sometimes, however, in the first flush of escape with
him to the wilds, you are fain to clap your hand over his mouth in
order the better to taste the essentially folk-less savor of solitude.
For music is a curiously social art, and Browning was more than half
right when he said, "Who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at

Perhaps you can find your entertainer a small lump of clay or
modeling-wax to thumb into bad caricatures of those you love and good
ones of those you hate, until increasing facility impels him to try
and model not a Tanagra figurine, for that would be unlike his
original fancy, but a Hoboken figurine, say, or a sketch for some
Elgin (Illinois) marbles.

If you care anything for poetry and can find him a stub of pencil and
an unoccupied cuff, he will be most completely in his element; for if
there is any one occupation more closely identified with him than
another, it is that of poet. And though all Auto-Comrades are not
poets, all poets are Auto-Comrades. Every poem which has ever thrilled
this world or another has been written by the Auto-Comrade of some
so-called poet. This is one reason why the so-called poets think so
much of their great companions. "Allons! after the great companions!"
cried old Walt to his fellow poets. If he had not overtaken, and held
fast to, his, we should never have heard the "Leaves of Grass"
whispering "one or two indicative words for the future." The bards
have always obeyed this call. And they have known how to value their
Auto-Comrades, too. See, for example, what Keats thought of his:

     Though the most beautiful Creature were waiting for me at
     the end of a Journey or a Walk; though the Carpet were of
     Silk, the Curtains of the morning Clouds; the chairs and
     Sofa stuffed with Cygnet's down; the food Manna, the Wine
     beyond Claret, the Window opening on Winander mere, I should
     not feel--or rather my Happiness would not be so fine, as my
     Solitude is sublime. Then instead of what I have described,
     there is a sublimity to welcome me home--The roaring of the
     wind is my wife and the Stars through the window pane are my
     Children.... I feel more and more every day, as my
     imagination strengthens, that I do not live in this world
     alone but in a thousand worlds--No sooner am I alone than
     shapes of epic greatness are stationed around me, and serve
     my Spirit the office which is equivalent to a King's
     body-guard.... I live more out of England than in it. The
     Mountains of Tartary are a favorite lounge, if I happen to
     miss the Alleghany ridge, or have no whim for Savoy.

This last sentence not only reveals the fact that the Auto-Comrade,
equipped as he is with a wishing-mat, is the very best cicerone in the
world, but also that he is the ideal tramping companion. Suppose you
are mountain-climbing. As you start up into "nature's observatory," he
kneels in the dust and fastens wings upon your feet. He conveniently
adjusts a microscope to your hat-brim, and hangs about your neck an
excellent telescope. He has enough sense, too, to keep his mouth
closed. For, like Hazlitt, he "can see no wit in walking and talking."
The joy of existence, you find, rarely tastes more cool and sweet and
sparkling than when you and your Auto-Comrade make a picnic thus,
swinging in a basket between you a real, live thought for lunch. On
such a day you come to believe that Keats, on another occasion, must
have had his own Auto-Comrade in mind when he remarked to his friend
Solitude that

                    "... it sure must be
    Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
    When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee."

The Auto-Comrade can sit down with you in thick weather on a barren
lighthouse rock and give you a breathless day by hanging upon the
walls of fog the mellow screeds of old philosophies, and causing to
march and countermarch over against them the scarlet and purple
pageants of history. Hour by hour, too, he will linger with you in
the metropolis, that breeder of the densest solitudes--in market or
terminal, subway, court-room, library, or lobby--and hour by hour
unlock you those chained books of the soul to which the human
countenance offers the master key.

Something of a sportsman, too, is the Auto-Comrade. He it is who makes
the fabulously low score at golf--the kind of score, by the way, that is
almost invariably born to blush unseen. And he will uncomplainingly,
even zestfully, fish from dawn to dusk in a solitude so complete that
there is not even a fin to break it. But if there are fish, he finds
them. He knows how to make the flies float indefinitely forward through
yonder narrow opening, and drop, as light as thistledown, in the center
of the temptingly inaccessible pool. He knows without looking, exactly
how thick and how prehensile are the bushes and branches that lie in
wait for the back cast, and he can calculate to a grain how much urging
the reactionary three-pounder and the blest tie that binds him to the
four-ounce rod will stand.

He is one of the handiest possible persons to have along in the woods.
When you take him on a canoe trip with others, and the party comes to
"white water," he turns out to be a dead shot at rapid-shooting. He is
sure to know what to do at the supreme moment when you jam your
setting-pole immutably between two rocks and, with the alternative of
taking a bath, are forced to let go and grab your paddle; and are then
hung up on a slightly submerged rock at the head of the chief rapid
just in time to see the rest of the party disappear majestically
around the lower bend. At such a time, simply look to the
Auto-Comrade. He will carry you through. Also there is no one like him
at the moment when, having felled your moose, leaned your rifle
against a tree, and bent down the better to examine him, the creature
suddenly comes to life.

In tennis, when you wake up to find that your racket has just smashed
a lob on the bounce from near the back-net, scoring a clean ace
between your paralyzed opponents, you ought to know that the racket
was guided by that superior sportsman; and if you are truly modest,
you will admit that your miraculous stop wherewith the team whisked
the baseball championship out of the fire in the fourteenth inning was
due to his unaided efforts.

There are other games about which he is not so keen: solitaire, for
instance. For solitaire is a social game that soon loses its zest if
there be not some devoted friend or relative sitting by and simulating
that pleasureable absorption in the performance which you yourself
only wish that you could feel.

This great companion can keep you from being lonely even in a crowd.
But there is a certain kind of crowd that he cannot abide. Beware how
you try to keep him in a crowd of unadulterated human porcupines! You
know how the philosopher Schopenhauer once likened average humanity
to a herd of porcupines on a cold day, who crowd stupidly together for
warmth, prick one another with their quills, are mutually repelled,
forget the incident, grow cold again, and repeat the whole thing _ad

In other words, the human porcupine is the person considered at the
beginning of this one-sided discussion who, to escape the terrible
catastrophe of confronting his own inner vacuum, will make friends
with the most hideous bore. This creature, however, is much more rare
than the misanthropic Schopenhauer imagined. It takes a long time to
find one among such folk as lumbermen, gypsies, shirt-waist
operatives, fishermen, masons, trappers, sailors, tramps, and
teamsters. If the sour philosopher had only had the pleasure of
knowing those teamsters who sent him into paroxysms of rage by
cracking their whips in the alley, I am sure that he would never have
spoken as harshly of their minds as he did. The fact is that
porcupines are not extremely common among the very "common" people.
It may be that there is something stupefying about the airs which the
upper classes, the best people, breathe and put on, but the social
climber is apt to find the human porcupine in increasing herds as he
scales the heights. This curious fact would seem incidentally to show
that our misanthropic philosopher must have moved exclusively in the
best circles.

Now, if there is one thing above all others that the Auto-Comrade
cannot away with, it is the flaccid, indolent, stodgy brain of the
porcupine. If people have let their minds slump down into
porcupinishness, or have never taken the trouble to rescue them from
that ignominious condition--well, the Auto-Comrade is no snob; when
all's said, he is a rather democratic sort of chap. But he has to draw
the line somewhere, you know, and he really must beg to be excused
from rubbing shoulders with such intellectual rabble, for instance, as
blocks upper Fifth Avenue on Sunday noons. He prefers instead the
rabble which, on all other noons of the week, blocks the lower end of
that variegated thoroughfare.

Such exclusiveness lays the Auto-Comrade open, of course, to the
charge of inhospitality. But "is not he hospitable," asks Thoreau,
"who entertains good thoughts?" Personally, I think he is. And I
believe that this sort of hospitality does more to make the world
worth living in than much conventional hugging to your bosom of
porcupines whose language you do not speak, yet with whom it is
embarrassing to keep silence.

If the Auto-Comrade mislikes the porcupine, however, the feeling is
returned with exorbitant interest. The alleged failings of
auto-comradeship have always drawn grins, jokes, fleers, and nudges,
from the auto-comradeless. It is time the latter should know that the
joke is really on him; for he is the most forlorn of mankind. The
other is never at a loss. He is invulnerable, being one whom "destiny
may not surprise nor death dismay." But the porcupine is liable at any
moment to be deserted by associates who are bored by his sharp, hollow
quills. He finds himself the victim of a paradox which decrees that
the hermit shall "find his crowds in solitude" and never be alone; but
that the flocker shall every now and then be cast into inner darkness,
where shall be "weeping and gnashing of teeth."

The laugh is on the porcupine; but the laugh turns almost into a tear
when one stops to realize the nature of his plight. Why, the poor
wretch is actually obliged to be near someone else in order to enjoy a
sense of vitality! In other words, he needs somebody else to do his
living for him. He is a vicarious citizen of the world, holding his
franchise only by courtesy of Tom, Dick, and Harry. All the same, it
is rather hard to pity him very profoundly while he continues to feel
quite as contemptuously superior as he usually does. For, the contempt
of the average porcupine for pals of the Auto-Comrade is akin to the
contempt which the knights of chivalry felt for those paltry beings
who were called clerks because they possessed the queer, unfashionable
accomplishment of being able to read and write.

I remember that the loudest laugh achieved by a certain class-day
orator at college came when he related how the literary guy and the
tennis-player were walking one day in the woods, and the literary guy
suddenly exclaimed: "Ah, leave me, Louis! I would be alone." Even
apart from the stilted language in which the orator clothed the
thought of the literary guy, there is, to the porcupine, something
irresistibly comic in such a situation. It is to him as though the
literary guy had stepped up to the nearest policeman and begged for
the room at Sing Sing already referred to.

Indeed, the modern porcupine is as suspicious of pals of the
Auto-Comrade as the porcupines of the past were of sorcerers and
witches--folk, by the way, who probably consorted with spirits no more
malign than Auto-Comrades. "What," asked the porcupines of one
another, "can they be doing, all alone there in those solitary huts?
What honest man would live like that? Ah, they must be up to no good.
They must be hand in glove with the Evil One. Well, then, away with
them to the stake and the river!"

As a matter of fact, it probably was not the Evil One that these poor
folk were consorting with, but the Good One. For what is a man's
Auto-Comrade, anyway, but his own soul, or the same thing by what
other name soever he likes to call it, with which he divides the
practical, conscious part of his brain, turn and turn about, share and
share alike? And what is a man's own soul but a small stream of the
infinite, eternal water of life? And what is heaven but a vast harbor
where myriad streams of soul flow down, returning at last to their
Source in the bliss of perfect reunion? I believe that many a Salem
witch was dragged to her death from sanctuary; for church is not
exclusively connected with stained glass and collection-baskets.
Church is also wherever you and your Auto-Comrade can elude the
starched throng and fall together, if only for a moment, on your

The Auto-Comrade has much to gain by contrast with one's
flesh-and-blood associates, especially if this contrast is suddenly
brought home to one after a too long separation from him. I shall
never forget the thrill that was mine early one morning after two
months of close, uninterrupted communion with one of my best and
dearest friends. At the very instant when the turn of the road cut off
that friend's departing hand-wave, I was aware of a welcoming, almost
boisterous shout from the hills of dream, and turning quickly, beheld
my long-lost Auto-Comrade rushing eagerly down the slopes toward me.

Few joys may compare with the joy of such a sudden unexpected reunion.
It is like "the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land." No,
this simile is too disloyal to my friend. Well, then, it is like a
beaker full of the warm South when you are leaving a good beer country
and are trying to reconcile yourself to ditch-water for the next few
weeks. At any rate, similes or not, there were we two together again
at last. What a week of weeks we spent, pacing back and forth on the
veranda of our log cabin, where we overlooked the pleasant sinuosities
of the Sebois and gazed out together over golden beech and ghostly
birch and blood-red maple banners to the far violet mountains of the
Aroostook! And how we did take stock of the immediate past, chuckling
to find that it had not been a quarter so bad as I had stupidly
supposed. What gilded forest trails were those which we blazed into
the glamorous land of to-morrow! And every other moment these
recreative labors would be interrupted while I pressed between the
pages of a notebook some butterfly or sunset leaf or quadruply
fortunate clover which my Auto-Comrade found and turned over to me.
(Between two of those pages, by the way, I afterwards found the
argument of this chapter.)

Then, when the effervescence of our meeting had lost a little of its
first, fine, carbonated sting, what Elysian hours we did spend over
the correspondence of those other two friends, Goethe and Schiller!
Passage after passage we would turn back to re-read and muse over.
These we would discuss without any of the rancor or dogmatic
insistence or one-eyed stubbornness that usually accompany the clash
of mental steel on mental steel from a different mill. And without
making any one else lose the thread or grow short-breathed or accuse
us passionately of reading ahead, we would, on the slightest
provocation, out-Fletcher Fletcher chewing the cud of sweet and bitter
fancy. And we would underline and bracket and side-line and overline
the ragged little paper volume, and scribble up and down its margins,
and dream over its footnotes, to our hearts' content.

Such experiences, though, are all too rare with me. Why? Because my
Auto-Comrade is a rather particular person and will not associate with
me unless I toe his mark.

"Come," I propose to him, "let us go a journey."

"Hold hard," says he, and looks me over appraisingly. "You know the
rule of the Auto-Comrades' Union. We are supposed to associate with
none but fairly able persons. Are you a fairly able person?"

If it turns out that I am not, he goes on a rampage, and begins to
talk like an athletic trainer. The first thing he demands is that his
would-be associate shall keep on hand a jolly good store of surplus
vitality. You are expected to supply exuberance to him somewhat as you
supply gasolene to your motor. Now, of course, there are in the world
not a few invalids and other persons of low physical vitality whose
Auto-Comrades happen to have sufficient gasolene to keep them both
running, if only on short rations. Most of these cases, however, are
pathological. They have hot-boxes at both ends of the machine, and
their progress is destined all too soon to cease and determine
disastrously. The rest of these cases are the rare exceptions which
prove the rule. For unexuberant yet unpathological pals of the
Auto-Comrade are as rare as harmonious households in which the efforts
of a devoted and blissful wife support an able-bodied husband.

The rule is that you have got to earn exuberance for two. "Learn to
eat balanced rations right," thunders the Auto-Comrade, laying down
the law; "exercise, perspire, breathe, bathe, sleep out of doors, and
sleep enough; rule your liver with a rod of iron, don't take drugs or
nervines, cure sickness beforehand, keep love in your heart, do an
adult's work in the world, have at least as much fun as you ought to

"That," he goes on, "is the way to develop enough physical overplus so
that you will be enabled to overcome your present sad addiction to
mob-intoxication. And, provided your mind is not in as bad condition
as your body, this physical overplus will transmute some of itself
into mental exuberance. This will enable you to have more fun with
your mind than an enthusiastic kitten has with its tail. It will
enable you to look before and after, and purr over what is, as well as
to discern, with pleasurable longing, what is not, and set forth
confidently to capture it."

But if, by any chance, you have allowed your mind to get into the sort
of condition which the old-fashioned German scholar used to allow his
body to get into, it develops that the Auto-Comrade hates a flabby
brain almost as much as he hates a flabby body. He soon makes it clear
that he will not have much to do with any one who has not yet mastered
the vigorous and highly complex art of not worrying. Also, he demands
of his companion the knack of calm, consecutive thought. This is one
reason why so many more Auto-Comrades are to be found in
crow's-nests, gypsy-vans, and shirt-waist factories than on upper
Fifth Avenue. For, watching the stars and the sea from a swaying
masthead, taking light-heartedly to the open road, or even operating a
rather unwholesome sewing-machine all day in silence, is better for
consecutiveness of mind than a never-ending round of offices, clubs,
committees, servants, dinners, teas, and receptions, to each of which
one is a little late.

In diffusing knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, this knack of
concentration, Arnold Bennett's little books on mental efficiency have
done wonders for the art of auto-comradeship. Their popular
persuasiveness has coaxed thousands on thousands of us to go in for a
few minutes' worth of mental calisthenics every day. They have
actually cajoled us into the painful feat of glancing over a page of a
book and then putting it down and trying to retrace the argument in
memory. Or they have coaxed us to fix on some subject--any
subject--for reflection, and then scourge our straying minds back to
it at every few steps of the walk to the morning train. And we have
found that the mental muscles have responded at once to this
treatment. They have hardened under the exercise until being left
alone has begun to change from confinement in the same cell with that
worst of enemies who has the right to forge one's own name--into a
joyful pleasure jaunt with a totally different person who, if not
one's best friend, is at least to be counted on as a trusty,
entertaining, resourceful, unselfish associate--at times, perhaps, a
little exacting--yet certainly a far more brilliant and generally
satisfactory person than his companion.

No matter what the ignorant or the envious may say, there is nothing
really unsocial in a moderate indulgence in the art of auto-comradeship.
A few weeks of it bring you back with a fresher, keener appreciation of
your other friends and of humanity in general than you had before
setting forth. In the continuous performance of the psalm of life such
contrasts as this of solos and choruses have a reciprocal advantage.

But auto-comradeship must not be overdone, as it was overdone by the
mediaeval monks. Its delights are too delicious, its particular vintage
of the wine of experience too rich, for long-continued consumption.
Consecutive thought, though it is one of man's greatest pleasures, is
at the same time perhaps the most arduous labor that he can perform.
And after a long period of it, both the Auto-Comrade and his companion
become exhausted and, perforce, less comradely.

Besides the incidental exhaustion, there is another reason why this
beatific association must have its time-limit; for, unfortunately,
one's Auto-Comrade is always of the same sex as one's self, and in
youth, at least, if the presence of the complementary part of creation
is long denied, there comes a time when this denial surges higher and
higher in subconsciousness, then breaks into consciousness, and keeps
on surging until it deluges all the tranquillities, zests, surprises,
and excitements of auto-comradeship, and makes them of no effect.

This is, probably, a wise provision for the salvation of the human
digestion. For otherwise, many a man, having tasted of the fruit of
the tree of the knowledge of auto-comradeship, might thereupon be
tempted to retire to his hermit's den hard by and endeavor to sustain
himself for life on this food alone.

Most of us, however, long before such extremes have been reached, are
sure to rush back to our kind for the simple reason that we are
enjoying auto-comradeship so much that we want someone else to enjoy
it with.



Efficiency is to-day the Hallelujah Chorus of industry. I know a
manufacturer who recently read a book on business management.
Stop-watch in hand he then made an exhaustive study of his office
force and their every action. After considering the tabulated results
he arose, smashed all but one of the many office mirrors, bought
modern typewriters, and otherwise eliminated works of supererogation.
The sequel is that a dozen stenographers to-day perform the work of
the former thirty-two.

This sort of thing is spreading through the business world and beyond
it in every direction. Even the artists are studying the bearing of
industrial efficiency on the arts of sculpture, music, literature,
architecture, and painting. But beyond the card catalogue and the
filing cabinet the artists find that this new gospel has little to
offer them. Their sympathies go out, instead, to a different kind of
efficiency. The kind that bids fair to shatter their old lives to bits
and re-mold them nearer to the heart's desire is not industrial but
human. For inspiration it goes back of the age of Brandeis to the age
of Pericles.

The enthusiasm for human efficiency is beginning to rival that for
industrial efficiency. Preventive medicine, public playgrounds, the
new health education, school hygiene, city planning, eugenics, housing
reform, the child-welfare and country-life movements, the cult of
exercise and sport--these all are helping to lower the death-rate and
enrich the life-rate the world over. Health has fought with smoke and
germs and is now in the air. It would be strange if the receptive
nature of the artist should escape the benignant infection.

There is an excellent reason why human efficiency should appeal less
to the industrial than to the artistic worlds. Industry has a new
supply of human machines always available. Their initial cost is
nothing. So it pays to overwork them, scrap them promptly, and install
fresh ones. Thus it comes that the costly spinning machines in the
Southern mills are exquisitely cared for, while the cheap little boys
and girls who tie the broken threads are made to last an average four
or five years. In art it is different. The artist knows that he is,
like Swinburne's Hertha, at once the machine and the machinist. It is
dawning upon him that one chief reason why the old Greeks scaled
Parnassus so efficiently is that all the master-climbers got, and
kept, their human machines in good order for the climb. They trained
for the event as an Olympic athlete trains to-day for the Marathon.
One other reason why there was so much record-breaking in ancient
Greece is that the non-artists trained also, and thus, through their
heightened sympathy and appreciation of the master-climbers, became
masters by proxy. But that is another chapter.

Why has art never again reached the Periclean plane? Chiefly because
the artist broke training when Greece declined, and has never since
then brought his body up to the former level of efficiency.

Now, as the physiological psychologists assure us, the artist needs a
generous overplus of physical vitality. The art-impulse is a
brimming-over of the cups of mental and spiritual exuberance. And the
best way to insure this mental and spiritual overplus is to gain the
physical. The artist's first duty is to make his body as vim-full as
possible. He will soon find that he is greater than he knows. He will
discover that he has, until then, been walking the earth more than
half a corpse. With joy he will come to see that living in a glow of
health bears the same relation to merely not being sick that a plunge
in the cold salt surf bears to using a tepid wash-rag in a hall

"All through the life of a feeble-bodied man, his path is lined with
memory's grave-stones which mark the spots where noble enterprises
perished for lack of physical vigor to embody them in deeds." Thus
wrote the educator, Horace Mann. And his words apply with special
force to the worker in the arts. One should bear in mind that the
latter is in a peculiar dilemma. His nerve-racking, confining,
exhausting work always tends to enfeeble and derange his body. But the
claims of the work are so exacting that it is no use for him to spare
intensity. Unless he is doing his utmost he had better be doing
nothing at all. And to do his utmost he must keep his body in that
supremely fit condition which the work itself is always tending to
destroy. The one lasting solution is for him to reduce his working
time to a safe maximum and increase his recreation and sleeping-time
to a safe minimum, and to train "without haste, without rest."

"The first requisite to great intellectuality in a man is to be a
good animal," says Maxim the inventor. Hamerton, in his best-known
book, offers convincing proof that overflowing health is one of the
first essentials of genius; and shows how triumphant a part it played
in the careers of such mighty men of intellectual valor as Leonardo da
Vinci, Kant, Wordsworth, and Sir Walter Scott.

Is the reader still unconvinced that physical exuberance is necessary
to the artist? Then let him read biography and note the paralyzing
effect upon the biographees of sickness and half sickness and three
quarter wellness. He will see that, as a rule, the masters have done
their most telling and lasting work with the tides of physical vim at
flood. For the genius is no Joshua. He cannot make the sun of the mind
and the moon of the spirit stand still while the tides of health are
ebbing seaward. Indeed biography should not be necessary to convince
the fair-minded reader. Autobiography should answer. Just let him
glance back over his own experience and say whether he has not
thought his deepest thoughts and performed his most brilliant deeds
under the intoxication of a stimulant no less heady than that of
exuberant health.

There is, of course, the vexed question of the sickly genius. My
personal belief is firm that, as a rule, he has won his triumphs
_despite_ bad health, and not--as some like to imagine--because of bad
health. To this rule there are a few often cited exceptions. Now, no
one can deny that there is a pathological brilliance of good cheer in
the works of Stevenson and other tubercular artists. The white plague
is a powerful mental stimulant. It is a double-distilled extract of
baseless optimism. But this optimism, like that resulting from other
stimulants, is dearly bought. Its shrift is too short. And let nobody
forget that for each variety of pathological optimism and brilliance
and beauty there are ninety and nine corresponding sorts of
pathological pessimism and dullness and ugliness induced by disorders
of the liver, heart, stomach, brain, skin, and so on without end.

The thing for artists to do is to find out what physical conditions
make for the best art in the long run, and then secure these
conditions in as short a run as possible. If tuberculosis makes for
it, then by all means let those of us who are sincerely devoted to art
be inoculated without delay. If the family doctor refuses to oblige,
all we have to do is to avoid fresh air, kiss indiscriminately,
practice a systematic neglect of colds, and frequent the subway during
rush hours. If alcohol makes for the best art, let us forthwith be
admitted to the bar--the stern judgment bar where each solitary
drinker is arraigned. For it is universally admitted that in art,
quality is more important than quantity. "If that powerful corrosive,
alcohol, only makes us do a little first-class work, what matter if it
corrode us to death immediately afterwards? We shall have had our
day." Thus many a gallant soul argues. But is there not another ideal
which is as far above mere quality as quality is above mere quantity?
I think there is. It is quantity of quality. And quantity of quality
is exactly the thing that cannot brook the corrosiveness of powerful

I am not satisfied, however, that stimulants make entirely for the
fine quality of even the short shrift. To my ear, tubercular optimism,
when thumped on the chest, sounds a bit hollow. It does not ring quite
as true as healthy optimism because one feels in the long run its
automatic, pathological character. Thus tubercular, alcoholized, and
drugged art may often be recognized by its somewhat artificial,
unhuman, abnormal quality. I believe that if the geniuses who have
done their work under the influence of these stimulants had, instead,
trained sound bodies as for an Olympic victory, the arts would to-day
be the richer in quantity of quality. On this point George Meredith
wrote a trenchant word in a letter to W. G. Collins:

     I think that the notion of drinking any kind of alcohol as a
     stimulant for intellectual work can have entered the minds
     of those only who snatch at the former that they may
     conceive a fictitious execution of the latter. Stimulants
     may refresh, and may even temporarily comfort, the body
     after labor of brain; they do not help it--not even in the
     lighter kinds of labor. They unseat the judgment, pervert
     vision. Productions, cast off by the aid of the use of them,
     are but flashy, trashy stuff--or exhibitions of the
     prodigious in wildness or grotesque conceit, of the kind
     which Hoffman's tales give, for example; he was one of the
     few at all eminent, who wrote after drinking.

To reinforce the opinion of the great Englishman I cannot forbear
giving that of an equally great American:

     Never [wrote Emerson] can any advantage be taken of nature
     by a trick. The spirit of the world, the great calm presence
     of the Creator, comes not forth to the sorceries of opium or
     of wine. The sublime vision comes to the pure and simple
     soul in a clean and chaste body.... The poet's habit of
     living should be set on so low a key that the common
     influences should delight him. His cheerfulness should be
     the gift of the sunlight; the air should suffice for his
     inspiration, and he should be tipsy with water.

In other words, the artist should keep himself in a condition so fit
as to need no other stimulant than his own exuberance. But this should
always flow as freely as beer at a college reunion. And there should
always be plenty in reserve. It were well to consider whether there is
not some connection between decadent art and decadent bodies. A friend
of mine recently attended a meeting of decadent painters and reported
that he could not find a chin or a forehead in the room.

One reason why so many of the world's great since Greece have
neglected to store up an overplus of vitality is that exercise is
well-nigh indispensable thereto; and exercise has not seemed to them
sufficiently dignified. We are indebted to the dark ages for this dull
superstition. It was then that the monasteries built gloomy granite
greenhouses for the flower of the world's intellect, that it might
deteriorate in the darkness and perish without reproducing its kind.
The monastic system held the body a vile thing, and believed that to
develop and train it was beneath the dignity of the spiritually elect.
So flagellation was substituted for perspiration, much as, in the
Orient, scent is substituted for soap--and with no more satisfactory
result. This false notion of dignity has since then, by keeping men
out of flannels, gymnasium suits, running-tights, and overalls,
performed prodigies in the work of blighting the flowers of the mind
and stunting the fruit trees of the spirit.

To-day, however, we are escaping from the old superstition. We begin
to see that there is no complete dignity for man without a dignified
physique; and that there is no physical dignity to compare with that
of the hard-trained athlete. True, he who trains can hardly keep up
the old-time pose of the grand old man or the grand young man. He must
perforce be more human and natural. But this sort of grandeur is now
going out of fashion. And its absence must show to advantage in his

As a rule the true artist is a most devoted and self-sacrificing
person. Ever since the piping times of Pericles he has usually been
willing to sacrifice to the demands of his art most of the things he
enjoys excepting poor health. Wife, children, friends, credit--all may
go by the board. But his poor health he addresses with solemn,
scriptural loyalty: "Whither thou goest I will go: and where thou
lodgest I will lodge. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I
be buried." Not that he enjoys the misery incidental to poor health.
But he most thoroughly enjoys a number of its causes. Sitting up too
late at night is what he enjoys; smoking too much, drinking too much,
yielding to the exhausting sway of the divine efflatus for longer
hours at a time than he has any business to, bolting unbalanced meals,
and so on.

But the artist is finding out that poor health is the very first
enjoyment which he ought to sacrifice; that the sacrifice is by no
means as heroic as it appears; and that, once it is accomplished, the
odds are that all the other things he thought he must offer up may be
added unto him through his own increased efficiency.

No doubt, all this business of regimen, of constant alertness and
petty self-sacrifice, is bound to grow irksome before it settles down
in life and becomes habitual. But what does a little irksomeness
count--or even a great deal of irksomeness--as against the long, deep
thrill of doing better than you thought you ever knew how--of going
from strength to strength and creating that which will elevate and
delight mankind long after the pangs of installing regimen are
forgotten and you have once and for all broken training and laid you
down to sleep over?

The reason why great men and women are so often cynical about their
own success is this: they have been so immoderate in their enjoyment
of poor health that when the hour of victory comes, they lack the
exuberance and self-restraint essential to the savoring of
achievement or of any other pleasure. I believe that the successful
invalid is more apt to be cynical about his success than the healthy
failure about his failure. The latter is usually an optimist. But this
is a hard belief to substantiate. For the perfectly healthy failure
does not grow on every bush.

If only the physical conscientiousness of the Greeks had never been
allowed to die out, the world to-day would be manifoldly a richer,
fairer, and more inspiring place. As it is, we shall never be able to
reckon up our losses in genius: in Shakespeares whose births were
frustrated by the preventable illness or death of their possible
parents; in Schuberts who sickened or died from preventable causes
before they had delivered a note of their message; in Giorgiones whom
a suicidally ignorant conduct of physical life condemned to have their
work cheapened and curtailed. What overwhelming losses has art not
sustained by having the ranks of its artists and their most creative
audiences decimated by the dullness of mediocre health! It is hard to
endure the thought of what the geniuses of the modern world might have
been able to accomplish if only they had lived and trained like
athletes and been treated with a small part of the practical
consideration and live sympathy which humanity bestows on a favorite
ball-player or prize-fighter.

To-day there is still a vast amount of superstition arrayed against
the truth that fullness of life and not grievous necessity is the
mother of artistic invention. Necessity is, of course, only the
stepmother of invention. But men like to convince themselves that
sickness and morbidity are good for the arts, just as they delightedly
embrace the conviction, and hold it with a death-grip, that a life of
harassing poverty and anxious preoccupation is indispensable to the
true poet. The circumstance that this belief runs clean counter to the
showing of history does not embarrass them. Convinced against their
will, most people are of the same opinion still. And they
enthusiastically assault and batter any one who points out the truth,
as I shall endeavor to do in chapter eight.

Even if the ideal of physical efficiency had been revived as little as
a century ago, how much our world would be the gainer! If Richard
Wagner had only known how and what to eat and how to avoid catching
cold every other month, we would not have so many dull, dreary places
to overlook in "The Ring," and would, instead, have three or four more
immortal tone-dramas than his colds and indigestions gave him time to
write. One hates to think what Poe might have done in literature if he
had taken a cure and become a chip of the old oaken bucket.
Tuberculosis, they now say, is preventable. If only they had said so
before the death of Keats!...

It makes one lose patience to think how Schiller shut himself up in a
stuffy closet of a room all day with his exhausting work; and how the
sole recreation he allowed himself during the week was a solemn game
of _l'hombre_ with the philosopher Schelling. And then he wondered
why he could not get on with his writing and why he was forever
catching cold (_einen starken Schnupfen_); and why his head was so
thick half the time that he couldn't do a thing with it. In his
correspondence with Goethe it is exasperating to observe that these
great poets kept so little reserve vim in stock that a slight change
of temperature or humidity, or even a dark day, was enough to overdraw
their health account and bankrupt their work. How glorious it would
have been if they had only stored up enough exuberance to have made
them health magnates, impervious to the slings and arrows of
outrageous February, and able to snap their fingers and flourish
inspired quills in the face of a vile March! In that case their
published works might not, perhaps, have gained much in bulk, but the
masterpieces would now surely represent a far larger proportion of
their _Saemmtliche Werke_ than they do. And the second part of "Faust"
would not, I think, contain that lament about the flesh so seldom
having wings to match those of the spirit.

    "Ach! zu des Geistes Fluegeln wird so leicht
    Kein korperlicher Fluegel sich gesellen."

Some of the most opulent and powerful spirits ever seen on earth have
scarcely done more than indicate what kind of birthrights they
bartered away for a mess of pottage. Coleridge, for example, ceased to
write poetry after thirty because, by dissipating his overplus of
life, he had too grievously wronged what he described as

     "This body that does me grievous wrong."

After all, there are comparatively few masters, since the glory that
was Greece, who have not half buried their talents in the earthy
darkness of mediocre health. When we survey the army of modern genius,
how little of the sustained ring and resilience and triumphant
immortal youth of real exuberance do we find there! Instead of a band
of sound, alert, well-equipped soldiers of the mind and spirit,
behold a sorry-looking lot of stragglers painfully limping along with
lack-luster eyes, or eyes bright with the luster of fever. And the
people whom they serve are not entirely free from blame. They have
neglected to fill the soldiers' knapsacks, or put shirts on their
backs. As for footgear, it is the usual campaign army shoe, made of
blotting paper--the shoe that left red marks behind it at Valley Forge
and Gettysburg and San Juan Hill. I believe that a better time is
coming and that the real renaissance of creative art is about to dawn.
For we and our army of artists are now beginning to see that if the
artist is completely to fulfill his function he must be able to
run--not alone with patience, but also with the brilliance born of
abounding vitality--the race that is set before him. This dawning
belief is the greatest hope of modern art.

It does one good to see how artists, here, there, and everywhere, are
beginning to grow enthusiastic over the new-old gospel of bodily
efficiency, and physically to "revive the just designs of Greece." The
encouraging thing is that the true artist who once finds what an
impulse is given his work by rigorous training, is never content to
slump back to his former vegetative, death-in-life existence. His
daily prayer has been said in a single line by a recent American poet:

    "Life, grant that we may live until we die."

In every way the artist finds himself the gainer by cutting down his
hours of work to the point where he never loses his reserve of energy.
He now is beginning to take absolute--not merely relative--vacations,
and more of them. For he remembers that no man's work--not even
Rembrandt's or Beethoven's or Shakespeare's--is ever _too_ good; and
that every hour of needed rest or recreation makes the ensuing work
better. It is being borne in on the artist that a health-book like
Fisher's "Making Life Worth While" is of as much professional value to
him as many a treatise on the practice of his craft. Insight into the
physiological basis of his life-work can save the artist, it seems,
from those periods of black despair which he once used to employ in
running his head against a concrete wall, and raging impotently
because he could not butt through. Now, instead of laying his futility
to a mysteriously malignant fate, or to the persecution of secret
enemies, he is likely to throw over stimulants and late hours and take
to the open road, the closed squash-court, and the sleeping-porch. And
presently armies cannot withhold him from joyful, triumphant labor.

The artist is finding that exuberance, this Open Sesame to the things
that count, may not be won without the friendly collaboration of the
pores; and that two birds of paradise may be killed with one stone
(which is precious above rubies) by giving the mind fun while one
gives the pores occupation. Sport is this precious stone. There is, of
course, something to be said for sportless exercise. It is fairly
good for the artist to perform solemn antics in a gymnasium class, to
gesture impassionedly with dumb-bells, and tread the mill of the
circular running-track. But it is far better for him to go in with
equal energy for exercise which, while developing the body, re-creates
the mind and spirit. That kind of exercise is best, in my opinion,
which offers plenty of variety and humor and the excitement of
competition. I mean games like tennis, baseball, handball, golf,
lacrosse, and polo, and sports like swift-water canoeing and
fly-fishing, boxing, and fencing. These take the mind of the artist
quite away from its preoccupations and then restore it to them, unless
he has taken too much of a good thing, with a fresh viewpoint and a
zest for work.

Sport is one of the chief makers of exuberance because of its purging,
exhilarating, and constructive effects on body, mind, and spirit. So
many contemporary artists are being converted to sport that the
artistic type seems to be changing under our eyes. It was only
yesterday that the worker in literature, sculpture, painting, or
music was a sickly, morbid, anaemic, peculiar specimen, distrusted at
sight by the average man, and a shining mark for all the cast-off wit
of the world. Gilbert never tired of describing him in "Patience." He
was a "foot-in-the-grave young man," or a "_Je-ne-sais-quoi_ young
man." He was

    "A most intense young man,
    A soulful-eyed young man.
    An ultra-poetical, superaesthetical, Out-of-the-way young man."

To-day, what a change! Where is this young man? Most of his ilk have
accompanied the snows of yester-year. And a goodly proportion of those
who make merry in their room are sure-eyed, well set-up, ruddy,
muscular chaps, about whom the average man may jeer and quote
slanderous doggerel only at his peril. But somehow or other the
average man likes this new type better and does not want to jeer at
him, but goes and buys his work instead.

Faint though distinct, one begins to hear the new note of exuberance
spreading through the arts. On canvas it registers the fact that the
painters are migrating in hordes to live most of the year in the open
country. It vibrates in the sparkling tone of the new type of musical
performer like Willeke, the 'cellist. Like a starter's pistol it
sounds out of the writings of hard-trained men of the hour like John
Masefield and Alfred Noyes. One has only to compare the overflowing
life and sanity of workers like these with the condition of the
ordinary "Out-of-the-way young man" to see what a gulf yawns between
exuberance and exhaustion, between absolute sanity and a state
somewhere on the sunny side of mild insanity. And I believe that as
yet we catch only a faint glimpse of the glories of the physical
renaissance. Wait until this new religion of exuberance is a few
generations older and eugenics has said her say!

Curiously enough, the decadent artists who pride themselves on their
extreme modernity are the ones who now seem to cling with the most
reactionary grip to the old-fashioned, invertebrate type of physique.
The rest are in a fair way to undergo such a change as came to Queed,
the sedentary hero of Mr. Harrison's novel, when he took up boxing. As
sport and the artists come closer together, they should have a good
effect on one another. The artists will doubtless make sport more
formful, rhythmical, and beautiful. Sport, on the other hand, ought
before long to influence the arts by making sportsmen of the artists.

Now good sportsmanship is composed of fairness, team-work, the grace
of a good loser, the grace of a good winner, modesty, and gameness.
The first two of these amount to an equitable passion for a fair field
and no favor, and a willingness to subordinate star-play, or personal
gain, to team-play, or communal gain. Together they imply a feeling
for true democracy. To be converted to the religion of sportsmanship
means to become more socially minded. I think it is more than a
coincidence that at the moment when the artists are turning to sport,
their work is taking on the brotherly tone of democracy. The call of
brotherhood is to-day one of the chief preoccupations of poetry, the
drama, ideal sculpture, and mural decoration. For this rapid change I
should not wonder if the democracy of sportsmanship were in part

The third element of sportsmanship is the grace of a good loser.
Artists to-day are better losers than were the "foot-in-the-grave
young men." Among them one now finds less and less childish petulance,
outspoken jealousy of others' success, and apology for their own
failure. Some of this has been shamed out of them by discovering that
the good sportsman never apologizes or explains away his defeat. And
they are importing these manly tactics into the game of art. It has
not taken them long to see how ridiculous an athlete makes himself who
hides behind the excuse of sickness or lack of training. They are
impressed by the way in which the non-apologetic spirit is invading
the less athletic games, even down to such a sedentary affair as
chess. This remarkable rule, for example, was proposed in the recent
chess match between Lasker and Capablanca:

     Illness shall not interfere with the playing of any game, on
     the ground that it is the business of the players so to
     train themselves that their bodies shall be in perfect
     condition; and it is their duty, which by this rule is
     enforced, to study their health and live accordingly.

The fourth factor of sportsmanship is the grace of a good winner. It
would seem as though the artist were learning not only to keep from
gloating over his vanquished rival, but also to be generous and
minimize his own victory. In Gilbert's day the failure did all the
apologizing. To-day less apologizing is done by the failure and more
by the success. The master in art is learning modesty, and from whom
but the master in sport? There are in the arts to-day fewer
megalomaniacs and persons afflicted with delusions of grandeur than
there were among the "_Je-ne-sais-quoi_ young men." Sport has made
them more normal spiritually, while making them more normal
physically. It has kept them younger. Old age has been attacked and
driven back all along the line. One reason why we no longer have so
many grand old men is that we no longer have so many old men. Instead
we have numbers of octogenarian sportsmen like the late Dr. S. Weir
Mitchell, who have not yet been caught by the arch-reactionary
fossil-collector, Senility. This is a fair omen for the future of
progress. "If only the leaders of the world's thought and emotion,"
writes Bourne in "Youth," "can, by caring for the physical basis, keep
themselves young, why, the world will go far to catching up with
itself and becoming contemporaneous."

Gameness is the final factor of good sportsmanship. In the matter of
gameness, I grant that sport has little to teach the successful
artist. For it takes courage, dogged persistence, resiliency--in
short, the never-say-die spirit to succeed in any of the arts. It
takes the Browning spirit of those who

    "fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake."

It takes the typical Anglo-Saxon gameness of Johnny Armstrong of the
old ballad:

    "Said John, 'Fight on, my merry men all.
    I am a little hurt, but I am not slain;
    I will lay me down for to bleed a while,
    And then I'll rise and fight with you again.'"

Yes, but what of the weaker brothers and sisters in art who have not
yet succeeded--perhaps for want of these very qualities? I believe
that a newly developed spirit of sportsmanship, acting upon a newly
developed body, will presently bring to many a disheartened struggler
just that increment of resilient gameness which will mean success
instead of failure.

Thus, while our artists show a tendency to hark back to the Greek
physical ideal, they are not harking backward but forward when they
yield to the mental and spiritual influences of sportsmanship. For
this spirit was unknown to the ancient world. Until yesterday art and
sportsmanship never met. But now that they are mating I am confident
that there will come of this union sons and daughters who shall
joyfully obey the summons that is still ringing down to us over the
heads of the anaemic contemporaries of the exuberant old sportsman,
Walt Whitman:

    "Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
    Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
    But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than
        before known,
    Arouse! for you must justify me."



     _The old joy which makes us more debtors to poetry than
     anything else in life._


America is trying to emerge from the awkward age. Its body is
full-grown. Its spirit is still crude with a juvenile crudity. What
does this spirit need? Next to contact with true religion, it most
needs contact with true poetry. It needs to absorb the grace, the
wisdom, the idealistic beauty of the art, and thrill in rhyme with
poetry's profound, spiritual insights.

The promising thing is that America is beginning to do exactly this
to-day. The entire history of our enjoyment of poetry might be summed
up in that curious symbol which appears over the letter _n_ in the
word "canon." A rise, a fall, a rise. Here is the whole story of the
American poetry-lover. His enthusiasm first reached a high point
about the middle of the nineteenth century. A generation later it fell
into a swift decline. But three or four years ago it began to revive
so rapidly that a poetry-lover's renaissance is now a reality. This
renaissance has not yet been explained, although the majority of
readers and writers feel able to tell why poetry declined. Let us
glance at a few of the more popular explanations.

Many say that poetry declined in America because we turned ourselves
into a nation of entirely prosaic materialists. But if this is true,
how do they explain our present national solicitude for song-birds and
waterfalls, for groves of ancient trees, national parks, and
city-planning? How do they explain the fact that our annual
expenditure on the art of music is six times that of Germany, the
Fatherland of Tone? And how do they account for the flourishing
condition of some of our other arts? If we are hopelessly
materialistic, why should American painters and sculptors have such a
high world-standing? And why should their strongest, most original,
most significant work be precisely in the sphere of poetic, suggestive
landscape, and ideal sculpture? The answer is self-evident. It is no
utterly prosaic age, and people that founded our superb orchestras,
that produced and supported Winslow Homer, Tryon, and Woodbury,
French, Barnard, and Saint Gaudens. A more poetic hand than Wall
Street's built St. Thomas's and the cathedral, terminals and towers of
New York, Trinity Church in Boston, the Minnesota State Capitol, Bar
Harbor's Building of Arts, West Point, and Princeton University. It is
plain that our poetic decline was not wholly due to materialism.

Other philosophers are sure that whatever was the matter with poetry
was the fault of the poets themselves. Popular interest slackened,
they say, because the art first degenerated. Now an obvious answer to
this is that no matter how dead the living poets of any age become,
men may always turn, if they will, to those dead poets of old who live
forever on their shelves. But let us grant for the sake of argument
that any decline of contemporary poets is bound to effect
poetry-lovers in some mysteriously disastrous way. And let us recall
the situation back there in the seventies when the ebb of poetic
appreciation first set in. At that time Whittier, Holmes, Emerson, and
Whitman had only just topped the crest of the hill of accomplishment,
and the last-named was as yet no more generally known than was the
rare genius of the young Lanier. Longfellow, who remains even to-day
the most popular of our poets, was still in full swing. Lowell was in
his prime. Thus it appears that public appreciation, and not creative
power, was the first to trip and topple down the slopes of the
Parnassian hill. Not until then did the poet come "tumbling after."

Moreover, in the light of modern aesthetic psychology, this seems the
more natural order of events. It takes two to make a work of art: one
to produce, one to appreciate. The creative appreciator is a
correlative of all artistic expression. It is almost impossible for
the artist to accomplish anything amid the destructive atmosphere
exhaled by the ignorant, the stupid, the indifferent, the callous, or
the actively hostile. It follows that the demand for poetry is created
no more by the supply than the supply is created by the demand. Thus
the general indifference to this one department of American art was
_not_ primarily caused by the degenerating supply.

The decline and fall of our poetic empire have yet other Gibbons who
say that our civilization suddenly changed from the country to the
urban type, and that our love of poetry began to disappear
simultaneously with the general exodus from the countryside and the
mushroom growth of the large cities. So far I agree; but not with
their reason. For they say that poetry declined because cities are
such dreadfully unpoetic things; because they have become synonymous
only with riveting-machines and the kind of building that the Germans
call the "heaven-scratcher," with elevated railways, "sand hogs,"
whirring factories, and alleys reeking with the so-called "dregs" of
Europe. They claim that the new and hopelessly vulgar creed of the
modern city is epitomized by such things as a certain signboard in New
York, which offers a typically neo-urban solution of the old problem,
"What is art?"
                    | PARAGON PANTS |
                    |    ARE ART    |

the board declares. And this, they say, is about as poetic as a large
city ever becomes.

Now let us glance for a moment at the poems in prose and verse of Mr.
James Oppenheim, a young man for whom a metropolis is almost
completely epitomized by the riveting-machine, the sweat-shop, and
the slum. There we discover that this poet's vision has pierced
straight through the city's veneer of ugly commonplace to the beauty
shimmering beneath. In his eyes the sinewy, heroic forms of the
builders, clinging high on their frail scaffoldings and nonchalantly
hurling red-hot rivets through space, are so many young gods at play
with elemental forces. The sweat-shop is transmuted into as grim and
glorious a battlefield as any Tours or Gettysburg of them all. And the
dingy, battered old "L" train, as it clatters through the East Side
early on "morose, gray Monday morning," becomes a divine chariot

    "winging through Deeps of the Lord with its eighty Earth-anchored

Oh, yes; there is "God's plenty" of poetry in these sights and sounds,
if only one looks deep enough to discover the beauty of homeliness.
But there is even more of beauty and poetic inspiration to be drawn
from the city by him who, instead of thus straitly confining his gaze
to any one aspect of urban life, is able to see it steadily and see it
whole, with its subtle _nuances_ and its over-powering dramatic
contrasts--as a twentieth-century Walt Whitman, for example, might see
it if he had a dash of Tennyson's technical equipment, of Arnold's
sculpturesque polish and restraint, of Lanier's instinct for sensuous
beauty. What "songs greater than before known" might such a poet not
sing as he wandered close to precious records of the Anglo-Saxon
culture of the race amid the stately colonial peace and simplicity of
St. Mark's church-yard, with the vividly colored life of all
southeastern Europe surging about that slender iron fence--children of
the blood of Chopin and Tschaikowsky; of Gutenberg, Kossuth, and
Napoleon; of Isaiah and Plato, Leonardo and Dante--with the wild
strains of the gypsy orchestra floating across Second Avenue, and to
the southward a glimpse aloft in a rarer, purer air of builders
clambering on the cupola of a neighboring Giotto's tower built of
steel? Who dares say that the city is unpoetic? _It is one of the most
poetic places on earth._

These, then, are the chief explanations which have been offered us
to-day of the historic decline of the American poetry-lover. We weigh
them, and find them wanting. Why? Because they have sought, like
radiographers, far beneath the surface; whereas the real trouble has
been only skin deep. I shall try to show the nature of this trouble;
and how, by beginning to cure it, we have already brought on a poetic

Most of us who care for poetry frequently have one experience in
common. During our summer vacations in the country we suddenly
re-discover the well-thumbed "Golden Treasury" of Palgrave, and the
"Oxford Book of Verse" which have been so unaccountably neglected
during the city winter. We wander farther into the poetic fields and
revel in Keats and Shakespeare. We may even attempt once more to get
beyond the first book of the "Faerie Queene," or fumble again at the
combination lock which seems to guard the meaning of the second part
of "Faust." And we find these occupations so invigorating and joyful
that we model and cast an iron resolution to the effect that this
winter, whatever betide, we will read a little poetry every day, or
every week, as the case may be. On that we plunge back into the
beautiful, poetic, inspiring city, and adhere to our poetry-reading
program--for exactly a fortnight. Then, unaccountably, our resolve
begins to slacken. We cannot seem to settle our minds to ordered
rhythms "where more is meant than meets the ear." Our resolve
collapses. Once again Palgrave is covered with dust. But vacation time
returns. After a few days in green pastures and beside still waters
the soul suddenly turns like a homing-pigeon to poetry. And the old,
perplexing cycle begins anew.

A popular magazine once sent a certain young writer and ardent
amateur of poetry on a long journey through the Middle West. He took
but one book in his bag. It was by Whitman (the poet of cities, mark).
And he determined to read it every evening in his bedroom after the
toils of the day. The first part of the trip ran in the country.
"Afoot and light-hearted" he took to the open road every morning, and
reveled every evening in such things as "Manahatta," "The Song of
Joys," and "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry." Then he carried his poet of
cities to a city. But the two would have nothing to do with one
another. And to the traveler's perplexity, a place no larger than
Columbus, Ohio, put a violent end to poetry on that trip.

In our day most poetry-lovers have had such experiences. These have
been hard to explain, however, only because their cause has been
probed for too profoundly. _The chief cause of the decline of poetry
was not spiritual but physical._ Cities are not unpoetic in spirit. It
is only in the physical sense that Emerson's warning is true: "If
thou fill thy brain with Boston and New York ... thou shalt find no
radiance of meaning in the lonely wastes of the pine woods." The
trouble was this: that the modern type of city, when it started into
being, back in the seventies, began to take from men, and to use up,
that margin of nervous energy, that exuberant overplus of vitality of
which so much has already been said in this book, and which is always
needed for the true appreciation of poetry. Grant Allen has shown that
man, when he is conscious of a superfluity of sheer physical strength,
gives himself to play; and in like manner, when he is conscious of a
superfluity of receptive power, _which has a physical basis_, he gives
himself to art.

Now, though all of the arts demand of their appreciators this overplus
of nervous energy (and Heaven knows perfectly well how inadequate a
supply is offered up to music and the arts of design!), yet the
appreciation of poetry above that of the sister arts demands this
bloom on the cheek of existence. For poetry, with quite as much of
emotional demand as the others, combines a considerably greater and
more persistent intellectual demand, involving an unusual amount of
physical wear and tear. Hence, in an era of overstrain, poetry is the
first of the arts to suffer.

Most lovers of poetry must realize, when they come to consider it,
that their pleasure in verse rises and falls, like the column of
mercury in a barometer, with the varying levels of their physical
overplus. Physical overplus, however, is the thing which life in a
modern city is best calculated to keep down.

Surely it was no mere coincidence that, back there in the seventies,
just at the edge of the poetic decline, city life began to grow so
immoderately in volume and to be "speeded up" and "noised up" so
abruptly that it took our bodies by surprise. This process has kept on
so furiously that the bodies of most of us have never been able to
catch up. No large number have yet succeeded in readjusting
themselves completely to the new pace of the city. And this continues
to exact from most of us more nervous energy than any life may, which
would keep us at our best. Hence, until we have succeeded either in
accomplishing the readjustment, or in spending more time in the
country, the appreciation of poetry has continued to suffer.

Even in the country, it is, of course, perfectly true that life spins
faster now than it used to--what with telephones and inter-urban
trolleys, the motor, and the R.F.D. But this rural progress has
arrived with no such stunning abruptness as to outdistance our powers
of readjustment. When we go from city to country we recede to a rate
of living with which our nervous systems can comfortably fall in, and
still control for the use of the mind and spirit a margin of that
delicious vital bloom which resembles the ring of the overtones in
some beautiful voice.

But how is it practicable to keep this margin in the city, when the
roar of noisy traffic over noisy pavements, the shrieks of newsboy and
peddler, the all-pervading chronic excitement, the universal
obligation to "step lively," even at a funeral, are every instant
laying waste our conscious or unconscious powers? How are we to give
the life of the spirit its due of poetry when our precious margin is
forever leaking away through lowered vitality and even sickness due to
lack of sleep, unhygienic surroundings, constant interruption (or the
expectation thereof), and the impossibility of relaxation owing to the
never-ending excitement and interest and sexual stimulus of the great
human pageant--its beauty and suggestiveness?

Apart from the general destruction of the margin of energy, one
special thing that the new form of city life does to injure poetry is
to keep uppermost in men's consciousness a feverish sense of the
importance of the present moment. We might call this sense the
journalistic spirit of the city. How many typical metropolitans one
knows who are forever in a small flutter of excitement over whatever
is just happening, like a cub reporter on the way to his first fire,
or a neuraesthete--if one may coin a word--who perceives a spider on
her collarette. This habit of mind soon grows stereotyped, and is, of
course, immensely stimulated by the multitudinous editions of our
innumerable newspapers. The city gets one to living so intensely in
the present minute, and often in the very most sensational second of
that minute, that one grows impatient of the "olds," and comes to
regard a constantly renewed and increased dose of "news" as the only
present help in a chronic time of trouble. This is a kind of mental
drug-habit. And its origin is physical. It is a morbid condition
induced by the over-paced life of cities.

Long before the rise of the modern city--indeed, more than a century
ago--Goethe, who was considerably more than a century ahead of his
age, wrote to Schiller from Frankfort of the journalistic spirit of
cities and its relation to poetry:

     It seems to me very remarkable how things stand with the
     people of a large city. They live in a constant delirium of
     getting and consuming, and the thing we call atmosphere can
     neither be brought to their attention nor communicated to
     them. All recreations, even the theater, must be mere
     distractions; and the great weakness of the reading public
     for newspapers and romances comes just from the fact that
     the former always, and the latter generally, brings
     distraction into the distraction. Indeed, I believe that I
     have noticed a sort of dislike of poetic productions--or at
     least in so far as they _are_ poetic--which seems to me to
     follow quite naturally from these very causes. Poetry
     requires, yes, it absolutely commands, concentration. It
     isolates man against his own will. It forces itself upon him
     again and again; and is as uncomfortable a possession as a
     too constant mistress.

If this reporter's attitude of mind was so rampant in cultivated urban
Germany a century ago as to induce "a sort of dislike of poetic
productions," what sort of dislike of them must it not be inducing
to-day? For the appreciation of poetry cannot live under the same
roof with the journalistic spirit. The art needs long, quiet vistas
backward and forward, such as are to be had daily on one of those
"lone heaths" where Hazlitt used to love to stalk ideas, but such as
are not to be met with in Times Square or the Subway.

The joyful side of the situation is that this need is being met. A few
years ago the city dwellers of America began to return to nature. The
movement spread until every one who could afford it, habitually fled
from the city for as long a summer outing as possible. More and more
people learned the delightful sport of turning an abandoned farm into
a year-round country estate. The man who was tied to a city office
formed the commuting habit, thus keeping his wife and children
permanently away from the wear and tear of town. The suburban area was
immensely increased by the rapid spread of motoring.

Thus, it was recently made possible for hundreds of thousands of
Americans to live, at least a considerable part of the year, where
they could hoard up an overplus of vitality. The result was that these
well-vitalized persons, whenever they returned to the city, were
better able to stand--and adjust themselves to--the severe urban pace,
than were the fagged city people. It was largely by the impact of this
new vitality that the city was roused to the importance of physical
efficiency, so that it went in for parks, gymnasia, baths, health and
welfare campaigns, athletic fields, playgrounds, Boy Scouts, Campfire
Girls, and the like.

There are signs everywhere that we Americans have, by wise living,
begun to win back the exuberance which we lost at the rise of the
modern city. One of the surest indications of this is the fact that
the nation has suddenly begun to read poetry again, very much as the
exhausted poetry-lover instinctively turns again to his Palgrave
during the third week of vacation. In returning to neglected nature we
are returning to the most neglected of the arts. The renaissance of
poetry is here. And men like Masefield, Noyes, and Tagore begin to
vie in popularity with the moderately popular novelists. Moreover this
is only the beginning. Aviation has come and is reminding us of the
ancient prophecy of H. G. Wells that the suburbs of a city like New
York will now soon extend from Washington to Albany. Urban centers are
being diffused fast; but social-mindedness is being diffused faster.
Men are wishing more and more to share with each brother man the
brimming cup of life. Aircraft and true democracy are on the way to
bear all to the land of perpetual exuberance. And on their wings the
poet will again mount to that height of authority and esteem from
which, in the healthful, athletic days of old, Homer and Sophocles
dominated the minds and spirits of their fellow-men. That is to
say--he will mount if we let him. In the following chapter I shall
endeavor to show why the American poet has as yet scarcely begun to
share in the poetry-renaissance.



     _Nothing probably is more dangerous for the human race than
     science without poetry, civilization without culture._


     _A poet in history is divine, but a poet in the next room is
     a joke._


In the last two chapters we have seen the contemporary master of
various arts, and the reader of poetry, engaged in cultivating the
joyful heart. But there is one artist who has not yet been permitted
to join in this agreeable pastime. He is the American poet. And as his
inclusion would be an even more joyful thing for his land than for
himself, this book may not ignore him.

The American poet has not yet begun to keep pace with the
poetry-lovers' renaissance. He is no very arresting figure; and
therefore you, reader, are already considering a skip to chapter nine.
Well, if you are no more interested in him or his possibilities than
is the average American consumer of British poetry--I counsel you by
all means to skip in peace. But if you are one of the few who discern
the promise of a vast power latent in the American poet, and would
gladly help in releasing this power for the good of the race, I can
show you what is the matter with him and what to do about it.

Why has the present renaissance of the poetry-lover not brought with
it a renaissance of the American poet? Almost every reason but the
true one has been given. The true reason is that our poets are tired.
They became exhausted a couple of generations ago; and we have kept
them in this condition ever since. In the previous chapter we saw how
city life began abruptly to be speeded up in the seventies. At that
time the poet--like almost every one else in the city--was unable to
readjust his body at once to the new pace. He was like a six-day
bicycle racer who should be lapped in a sudden and continued sprint.
That sprint is still going on. Never again has the American poet felt
the abounding energy with which he began. And never has he overtaken
the leaders.

The reason why the poet is tired is that he lives in the over-paced
city. The reason why he lives in the city is that he is chained to it
by the nature of his hack-work. And the reason for the hack-work is
that the poet is the only one of all the artists whose art almost
never offers him a living. He alone is forced to earn in other ways
the luxury of performing his appointed task in the world. For, as
Goethe once observed, "people are so used to regarding poetic talent
as a free gift of the gods that they think the poet should be as
free-handed with the public as the gods have been with him."

The poet is tired. Great art, however, is not the product of
exhaustion, but of exuberance. It will have none of the skimmed milk
of mere existence. Nothing less than the thick, pure cream of
abounding vitality will do. The exhausted artist has but three
courses open to him: either to stimulate himself into a counterfeit,
and suicidally brief, exuberance; or to relapse into mediocrity; or to
gain a healthy fullness of life.

In the previous chapter it was shown why poetry demands more
imperatively than any other art, that the appreciator shall bring to
it a margin of vitality. For a like reason poetry makes this same
inordinate demand upon its maker. It insists that he shall keep
himself even more keenly alive than the maker of music or sculpture,
painting or architecture. This is the reason why, in the present era
of overstrain, the poet's art has been so swift to succumb and so slow
to recuperate.

The poet who is obliged to live in the city has not yet been able to
readjust his body to the pace of modern urban life, so that he may
live among its never-ending conscious and unconscious stimulations and
still keep on hand a triumphant reserve of vitality to pour into his
poems. Under these new and strenuous conditions, very little real
poetry has been written in our cities. American poets, despite their
genuine love of town and their struggles to produce worthy lines amid
its turmoil, have almost invariably done the best of their actually
creative work during the random moments that could be snatched in wood
and meadow, by weedy marsh or rocky headland. To his friends it was
touching to see with what wistfulness Richard Watson Gilder used to
seek his farm at Tyringham for a day or two of poetry after a
fortnight of furious office life. Even Walt Whitman--poet of cities
that he was--had to retire "precipitate" from his beloved Manahatta in
order fitly to celebrate her perfections. In fact, Stedman was perhaps
the only one of our more important singers at the close of the century
who could do his best work in defiance of Emerson's injunction to the
poet: "Thou shalt lie close hid with Nature, and canst not be afforded
to the Capitol or the Exchange." But it is pleasant to recall how
even that poetic banker brightened up and let his soul expand in the
peace of the country.

One reason for the rapidly growing preponderance of women--and
especially of unmarried women--among our poetic leaders is, I think,
to be found in the fact that women, more often than men, command the
means of living for a generous portion of the year that vital,
unstrenuous, contemplative existence demanded by poetry as an
antecedent condition of its creation. It is a significant fact that,
according to Arnold Bennett, nearly all of the foremost English
writers live far from the town. Most of the more promising American
poets of both sexes, however, have of late had little enough to do
with the country. And the result is that the supreme songs of the
twentieth century have remained unsung, to eat out the hearts of their
potential singers. For fate has thrown most of our poets quite on
their own resources, so that they have been obliged to live in the
large cities, supporting life within the various kinds of hack-harness
into which the uncommercially shaped withers of Pegasus can be forced.
Such harness, I mean, as journalism, editing, compiling, reading for
publishers, hack-article writing, and so on. Fate has also seen to it
that the poet's make-up is seldom conspicuous by reason of a
bull-neck, pugilistic limbs, and the nervous equipoise of a
dray-horse. What he may lack in strength, however, he is apt to make
up in hectic ambition. Thus it often happens that when the city does
not consume quite all of his available energy, the poet, with his
probably inadequate physique, chafes against the hack-work and yields
to the call of the luring creative ideas that constantly beset him.
Then, after yielding, he chafes again, and more bitterly, at his
faint, imperfect expression of these dreams, recognizing in despair
that he has been creating a mere crude by-product of the strenuous
life about him. So he burns the torch of life at both ends, and the
superhuman speed of modern existence eats it through in the middle.
Then suddenly the light fails altogether.

Those poets alone who have unusual physical endurance are able to do
even a small amount of steady, fine-grained work in the city. The rest
are as effectually debarred from it as factory children are debarred
from learning the violin well at the fag end of their days of toil. In
her autobiography Miss Jane Addams speaks some luminous words about
the state of society which forces finely organized artistic talent
into the wearing struggle for mere existence. She refers to it as "one
of the haunting problems of life; why do we permit the waste of this
most precious human faculty, this consummate possession of all
civilization? When we fail to provide the vessel in which it may be
treasured, it runs out upon the ground and is irretrievably lost."

I wonder if we have ever stopped to ask ourselves why so many of our
more recent poets have died young. Was it the hand of God, or the
effort to do the work of two in a hostile environment, that struck
down before their prime such spirits as Sidney Lanier, Edward Rowland
Sill, Frederic Lawrence Knowles, Arthur Upson, Richard Hovey, William
Vaughn Moody, and the like? These were poets whom we bound to the
strenuous city, or at least to hack-work which sapped over-much of
their vitality. An old popular fallacy keeps insisting that genius
"will out." This is true, but only in a sadder sense than the stupidly
proverbial one. As a matter of fact, the light of genius is all too
easily blown out and trampled out by a blind and deaf world. But we of
America are loath to admit this. And if we do not think of genius as
an unquenchable flame, we are apt to think of it as an amazingly hardy
plant, more tough than horse-brier or cactus. Only a few of us have
yet begun to realize that the flower of genius is not the flower of an
indestructible weed, but of a fastidious exotic, which usually
demands good conditions for bare existence, and needs a really
excellent environment and constant tending if it is to thrive and
produce the finest possible blooms. Mankind has usually shown enormous
solicitude lest the man of genius be insufficiently supplied with that
trouble and sorrow which is supposed to be quite indispensable to his
best work. But here and there the thinkers are beginning to realize
that the irritable, impulsive, impractical nature of the genius, in
even the most favorable environment, is formed for trouble "as the
sparks to fly upward." They see that fortune has slain its hundreds of
geniuses, but trouble its ten thousands. And they conclude that their
own real solicitude should be, not lest the genius have too little
adversity to contend with, but lest he have too much.

We have heard not a little about the conservation of land, ore, wood,
and water. The poetry problem concerns itself with an older sort of
conservation about which we heard much even as youngsters in college.
I mean the conservation of energy. Our poetry will never emerge from
the dusk until either the bodies of our city-prisoned poets manage to
overtake the speeding-up process and readjust themselves to it--or
until we allow them an opportunity to return for an appreciable part
of every year to the country--the place where the poet belongs.

It is true that the masters of the other arts have not fared any too
well at our hands; but they do not need help as badly by far as the
poets need it. What with commissions and sales, scholarships,
fellowships, and substantial prizes, the painters and sculptors and
architects and even the musicians have, broadly speaking, been able to
learn and practise their art in that peace and security which is
well-nigh essential to all artistic apprenticeship and productive
mastery. They have usually been able to spend more of the year in the
country than the poet. And even when bound as fast as he to the city,
they have not been forced to choose between burning the candle at
both ends or abandoning their art.

But for some recondite reason--perhaps because this art cannot be
taught at all--it has always been an accepted American conviction that
poetry is a thing which may be thrown off at any time as a side issue
by highly organized persons, most of whose time and strength and
faculties are engaged in a vigorous and engrossing hand-to-hand bout
with the wolf on the threshold--a most practical, philistine wolf,
moreover, which never heard of rhyme or rhythm, and whose whole
acquaintance with prosody is confined to a certain greedy familiarity
with frayed masculine and feminine endings.

As a result of this common conviction our poets have almost invariably
been obliged to make their art a quite subsidiary and haphazard
affair, like the rearing of children by a mother who is forced to go
out and scrub from early morning till late at night and has to leave
little Johnnie tied in his high chair to be fed by an older sister on
crusts dabbled in the pot of cold coffee. No wonder that so much of
our verse "jest growed," like Topsy. And the resulting state of things
has but served to reinforce our belief that to make the race of poets
spend their days in correcting encyclopaedia proof, or clerking, or
running, notebook in hand, to fires--inheres in the eternal fitness of

Bergson says in "Creative Evolution," that "an intelligence which
reflects is one that originally had a surplus of energy to spend, over
and above practically useful efforts." Does it not follow that when we
make the poet spend all his energy in the practically useful effort of
running to fires, we prevent him from enjoying the very advantage
which made man a reflective being, to say nothing of a poet?

Perhaps we have never yet realized that this attitude of ours would
turn poetic success into a question of the survival of that paradox,
the commercially shrewd poet, or of the poet who by some happy
accident of birth or marriage has been given an income, or of that
prodigy of versatility who, in our present stage of civilization,
besides being mentally and spiritually fit for the poet's calling, is
also physically fit to bear the strain of doing two men's work; or,
perhaps we had better say, three men's--for simply being a good poet
is about as nerve-consuming an occupation as any two ordinary men
could support in common--and the third would have to run to fires for
the first two.

It is natural to the character of the American business man to declare
that the professional poet has no reason for existence _qua_ poet
unless he can make his art support him. But let the business man bear
in mind that if he had the power to enforce such a condition, he would
be practically annihilating the art. For it is literally true that, if
plays were excluded, it would take not even a five-foot shelf to
contain all the first-rate poetry which was ever written by poets in a
state of poetic self-support. "Could a man live by it," the author of
"The Deserted Village" once wrote to Henry Goldsmith, "it were not
unpleasant employment to be a poet." Alas, the fatal condition! For
the art itself has almost never fed and clothed its devotee--at least
until his best creative days are done and he has become a "grand old
man." More often the poet has attained not even this reward.
Wordsworth's lines on Chatterton have a wider application:

    "What treasure found he? Chains and pains and sorrow--
    Yea, all the wealth those noble seekers find
    Whose footsteps mark the music of mankind!
    'T was his to lend a life: 't was Man's to borrow:
    'T was his to make, but not to share, the morrow."

Those who insist upon judging the art of poetry on the hard American
"cash basis" ought to be prepared, for the sake of consistency, to
apply the same criterion as well to colleges, public schools, symphony
orchestras, institutions for scientific research, missions,
settlements, libraries, and all other unlucrative educational
enterprises. With inexorable logic they should be prepared to insist
that people really do not desire or need knowledge or any sort of
uplift because they are not prepared to pay its full cost. It is
precisely this sort of logic which would treat the Son of Man if He
should appear among us, to a bench in Bryant Park, and a place in the
bread-line, and send the mounted police to ride down his socialistic
meetings in Union Square. No! poetry and most other forms of higher
education have always had to be subsidized--and probably always will.
When wisely subsidized, however, this art is very likely to repay its
support in princely fashion. In fact, I know of no other investment
to-day that would bid fair to bring us in so many thousand per cent.
of return as a small fresh-air fund for poets.

We Americans are rather apt to complain of the comparatively poor,
unoriginal showing which our poets have as yet made among those of
other civilized nations. We are quietly disgusted that only two of
all our bards have ever made their work forcibly felt in Europe; and
that neither Poe nor Whitman has ever profoundly influenced the great
masses of his own people.

Despite our splendid inheritance, our richly mingled blood, our
incomparably stimulating New World atmosphere, why has our poetry made
such a meager showing among the nations? The chief reason is obvious.
_We have been unwilling to let our poets live while they were working
for us._ True, we have the reputation of being an open-handed, even an
extravagantly generous folk. But thriftiness in small things often
goes with an extravagant disposition, much as manifestations of piety
often accompany wickedness like flying buttresses consciously placed
outside the edifice. We have spent millions on bronze and marble
book-palaces which shall house the works of the poets. We have spent
more millions on universities which shall teach these works. But as
for making it possible for our few real poets to produce works, and
completely fulfill their priceless functions, we have always satisfied
ourselves by decreeing: "Let there be a sound cash basis."

So it came to pass that when the first exuberant, pioneer
energy-margin of our race began to be consumed by the new and abnormal
type of city life, it became no longer possible for the poets to put
as much soul-sinew as theretofore into their lines, after they had
toilfully earned the luxury of trying to be our idealistic leaders.
For often their initial efforts consumed their less than pioneer
vitality. And how did we treat them from the first? In the old days we
set Longfellow and Lowell at one of the most exhausting of
professions--teaching. We made Emerson do one-night lecture-stands all
winter long in the West--sometimes for five dollars a lecture and feed
for his horse. We made Bryant ruin a gift as elemental as
Wordsworth's, in journalism; Holmes, visit patients at all hours of
the day and night; Poe, take to newspaper offices and drink. We made
Whitman drive nails, set type and drudge in the Indian Bureau in
Washington, from which he was dismissed for writing the most original
and the most poetic of American books. Later he was rescued from want
only by the humiliation of a public European subscription. Lanier we
allowed to waste away in a dingy lawyer's office, then kill himself so
fast by teaching and writing railway advertisements and playing the
flute in a city orchestra that he was forced to defer composing
"Sunrise" until too weak with fever to carry his hand to his lips. And
this was eleven years after that brave spirit's single cry of

    "Why can we poets dream us beauty, so,
    But cannot dream us bread?"

With Lanier the physical exhaustion incident to the modern speeding-up
process began to be more apparent. Edward Rowland Sill we did away
with in his early prime through journalism and teaching. We curbed
and pinched and stunted the promising art of Richard Watson Gilder by
piling upon him several men's editorial work. We created a poetic
resemblance between Arthur Upson and the hero of "The Divine Fire" by
employing him in a bookstore. We made William Vaughn Moody teach in a
city environment utterly hostile to his poetry, and later set the hand
that gave us "An Ode in Time of Hesitation" to the building of popular
melodrama. These are only a tithe of the things that we have done to
the hardiest of those benefactors of ours:

    "The poets, who on earth have made us heirs
    Of truth and pure delight."

It is not pleasant to dwell on the fate of those less sturdy ones who
have remained mute, inglorious Miltons for lack of a little practical
appreciation and a small part of a small fresh-air fund.

So far as I know, Thomas Bailey Aldrich is the only prominent figure
among the poets of our elder generations who was given the means of
devoting himself entirely to his art. And even _his_ fortune was not
left to him by his practical, poetry-loving friend until so late in
the day that his creative powers had already begun to decline through
age and over-much magazine editing.

More than almost any other civilized nation we have earned Allen
Upward's reproach in "The New Word":

     There are two kinds of human outcasts. Man, in his march
     upward out of the deep into the light, throws out a vanguard
     and a rearguard, and both are out of step with the main
     body. Humanity condemns equally those who are too good for
     it, and those who are too bad. On its Procrustean bed the
     stunted members of the race are racked; the giants are cut
     down. It puts to death with the same ruthless equality the
     prophet and the atavist. The poet and the drunkard starve
     side by side.... Literature is the chief ornament of
     humanity; and perhaps humanity never shows itself uglier
     than when it stands with the pearl shining on its forehead,
     and the pearl-maker crushed beneath its heel.... England
     will always have fifteen thousand a year for some
     respectable clergyman; she will never have it for Shelley.

Yes, but how incomparably better England has treated her poets than
America has treated hers! What convenient little plums, as De Quincey
somewhat wistfully remarked, were always being found for Wordsworth
just at the psychological moment; and they were not withheld,
moreover, until he was full of years and honors. Indeed, we owe this
poet to the poet-by-proxy of whom Wordsworth wrote, in "The Prelude":

    "He deemed that my pursuits and labours, lay
    Apart from all that leads to wealth, or even
    A necessary maintenance insures
    Without some hazard to the finer sense."

How tenderly the frail bodies of Coleridge and of Francis Thompson
were cared for by their appreciators. How potently the Civil List and
the laureateship have helped a long, if most uneven, line of England's
singers. Over against our solitary ageing Aldrich, how many great
English poets like Byron, Keats, the Brownings, Tennyson, and
Swinburne have found themselves with small but independent incomes,
free to give their whole unembarrassed souls and all that in them was
to their art. And all this since the close of the age of patronage!

Why have we never had a Wordsworth, or a Browning? For one thing,
because this nation of philanthropists has been too thoughtless to
found the small fellowship in creative poetry which might have freed a
Wordsworth of ours from communion with a cash-book to wander chanting
his new-born lines among the dreamy Adirondack lakes or the frowning
Sierras; or that might have sought out our Browning in his grocery
store and built him a modest retreat among the Thousand Islands. If
not too thoughtless to act thus, we have been too timid. We have been
too much afraid of encouraging weaklings by mistake. We have been, in
fact, more afraid of encouraging a single mediocre poet than of
neglecting a score of Shelleys. But we should remember that even if
the weak are encouraged with the strong, no harm is done.

It can not be too strongly insisted upon that the poor and mediocre
verse which has always been produced by every age is practically
innocuous. It hurts only the publishers who are constantly being
importuned to print the stuff, and the distinguished men and women who
are burdened with presentation copies or requests for criticism. These
unfortunates all happen to be capable of emitting loud and
authoritative cries of distress about the menace of bad poets. But we
should discount these cries one hundred per cent. For nobody else is
hurt by the bad poets, because nobody else pays the slightest
attention to them. Time and their own "inherent perishableness" soon
remove all traces of the poetasters. It were better to help hundreds
of them than to risk the loss of one new Shelley. And do we realize
how many Shelleys we may actually have lost already? I think it
possible that we may have had more than one such potential singer to
whom we never allowed any leisure or sympathy or margin of vitality to
turn into poetry. Perhaps there is more grim truth than humor in Mark
Twain's vision of heaven where Captain Stormfield saw a poet as great
as Shakespeare who hailed, I think, from Tennessee. The reason why the
world had never heard of him was that his neighbors in Tennessee had
regarded him as eccentric and had ridden him out of town on a rail and
assisted his departure to a more congenial clime above.

We complain that we have had no poet to rank with England's greatest.
I fear that it would have been useless for us to have had such a
person. We probably would not have known what to do with him.

I realize that mine is not the popular side of this question and that
an occasional poet with an income may be found who will even argue
against giving incomes to other poets. Mr. Aldrich, for instance,
wrote, after coming into his inheritance:

    "A man should live in a garret aloof,
      And have few friends, and go poorly clad,
    With an old hat stopping the chink in the roof,
      To keep the goddess constant and glad."

But a friend of Mr. Aldrich's, one of his poetic peers, has assured me
that it was not the poet's freedom from financial cares at all, but
premature age, instead, that made his goddess of poesy fickle after
the advent of the pitifully belated fortune. Mr. Stedman spoke a far
truer word on this subject. "Poets," he said, "in spite of the
proverb, sing best when fed by wage or inheritance." "'Tis the
convinced belief of mankind," wrote Francis Thompson with a sardonic
smile, "that to make a poet sing you must pinch his belly, as if the
Almighty had constructed him like certain rudimentarily vocal dolls."
"No artist," declares Arnold Bennett, "was ever assisted in his career
by the yoke, by servitude, by enforced monotony, by economic
inferiority." And Bliss Carman speaks out loud and bold: "The best
poets who have come to maturity have always had some means of
livelihood at their command. The idea that any sort of artist or
workman is all the better for being doomed to a life of penurious
worry, is such a silly old fallacy, one wonders it could have
persisted so long." The wolf may be splendid at suckling journalism
and various other less inspired sorts of writing, but she is a
ferocious old stepmother to poetry.

There are some who snatch eagerly at any argument in support of the
existing order, and who triumphantly point out the number of good
poems that have been written under "seemingly" adverse conditions. But
they do not stop to consider how much better these poems might have
been made under "seemingly" favorable conditions. Percy Mackaye is
right in declaring that the few singers left to English poetry after
our "wholesale driving-out and killing-out of poets ... are of two
sorts: those with incomes and those without. Among the former are
found most of the excellent names in English poetry, a fact which is
hardly a compliment to our civilization."

Would that one of those excellent philanthropists who has grown so
accustomed to giving a million to libraries and universities that the
act has become slightly mechanical--might realize that he has, with
all his generosity, made no provision as yet for helping one of the
most indispensable of all educational institutions--the poet. Would
that he might realize how little good the poet of genius can derive
from the universities--places whose conservative formalism is even
dangerous to his originality, because they try to melt him along with
all the other students and pour him into their one mold. It is
distressing to think of all the sums now devoted to inducing callow,
overdriven sophomores to compose forced essays and doggerel, by luring
them on with the glitter of cash prizes. One shudders to think of all
the fellowship money which is now being used to finance reluctant
young dry-as-dusts while they are preparing to pack still tighter the
already overcrowded ranks of "professors of English literature"--whose
profession, as Gerald Stanley Lee justly remarks, is founded on the
striking principle that a very great book can be taught by a very
little man. This is a department of human effort which, as now usually
conducted, succeeds in destroying much budding appreciation of poetry.
Why endow these would-be interpreters of poetry, to the neglect of the
class of artists whose work they profess to interpret? What should we
think of England if her Victorian poets had all happened to be
penniless, and she had packed them off to Grub Street and invested,
instead, in a few more professors of Victorian literature?

Why should not a few thousands out of the millions we spend on
education be used to found fellowships of creative poetry? These would
not be given at first to those who wish to learn to write poetry; for
the first thousands would be far too precious for use in any such
wild-cat speculations. They would be devoted, rather, to poets of
proved quality, who have already, somehow, learned their art, and who
ask no more wondrous boon from life than fresh air and time to regain
and keep that necessary margin of vitality which must go to the making
of genuine poetry.

I would not have the incumbent of such a fellowship, however, deprived
suddenly of all outer incentives for effort. The abrupt transition
from constant worry and war among his members to an absolutely
unclouded life of pure vocation-following might be almost too violent
a shock, and unsettle him and injure his productivity for a time.

The award of such a fellowship must not, of course, involve the least
hint of charity or coercion. It should be offered and accepted as an
honor, not as a donation. The yearly income should, in my opinion, be
small. It should be such a sum as would almost, but not quite, support
the incumbent very simply in the country, and still allow for books
and an occasional trip to town. In some cases an income of a thousand
dollars, supplemented by the little that poetry earns and possibly by
a random article or story in the magazines, would enable a poet to
lead a life of the largest effectiveness.

It is my belief that almost any genuine poet who is now kept in the
whirl by economic reasons and thus debarred from the free practice of
his calling would gladly relinquish even a large salary and reduce his
life to simple terms to gain the inestimable privilege of devoting
himself wholly to his art before the golden bowl is broken. Many of
those who are in intimate touch with the poets of America to-day could
show any philanthropist how to do his land and the world more actual,
visible, immediate good by devoting a thousand dollars to poetry, than
by allowing an hundred times that sum to slip into the ordinary
well-worn grooves of philanthropy.

Some years ago a _questionnaire_ was submitted to various literary men
by a poetry-lover who hoped to induce a wealthy friend to subsidize
poets of promise in case these literary leaders approved the plan.
While the younger writers warmly favored the idea, a few of the older
ones discouraged it. These were, in all cases, men who had made a
financial success in more lucrative branches of literature than
poetry; and it was natural for the veterans, who had brawnily
struggled through the burden and heat of the day, to look with the
unsympathetic eye of the sturdy upon those frailer ones of the rising
generation who perhaps might, without assistance, be eliminated in the
rough-and-tumble of the literary market-place. Of course it was but
human for the veterans to insist that any real genius among their
youthful competitors "would out," and that any assistance would but
make life too soft for the youngsters, and go to swell the growing
"menace" of bad verse by mitigating the primal rigors of natural
selection. No doubt the generation of writers older than Wordsworth
quite innocently uttered these very same sentiments in voices of deep
authority when it was proposed to offer this young person a chance to
compose in peace. No. One fears that the attitude of these veterans
was not wholly judicial. But then, why should any haphazard group of
creative artists be expected to be judicial, anyway? One might as
reasonably go to the Louvre for classes in conic sections, or to the
Garden of the Gods for instruction in Rabbinical theology.

Few supporters of the general plan, on the other hand, were wholly in
favor of all the measures proposed for carrying it out. Some of the
most telling criticisms went to show that while poets of undoubted
ability ought to be helped, the method of their selection offers a
grave difficulty. H. G. Wells, who heartily approved the main idea,
brought out the fact that it would never do to leave the choice to a
jury, as no jury would ever have voted for half of the great poets who
have perished miserably. Juries are much too conventionally minded.
For they are public functionaries; or, if not that, at least they feel
self-consciously as if they were going to be held publicly
responsible, and are apt to bring extremely conventional, and perhaps
priggish, standards to bear upon their choice. "They invariably become
timid and narrow," wrote Mr. Wells, "and seek refuge in practical,
academic, and moral tests that invariably exclude the real men of

Prizes and competitions were considered equally ill-advised methods of
selection. It is significant that these methods are now being rapidly
dropped in the fields of sculpture and architecture. For the mere
thought of a competition is a thing essentially antagonistic to the
creative impulse; and talent is likely to acquit itself better than
genius in such a struggle. The idea of a poetic competition is a relic
of a pioneer mode of thought. Mr. Wells concluded that the decision
should be made by the individual. But I cannot agree with him that
that same individual should be the donor of the fellowship. It seems
to me that this would-be savior of our American poetry should select
the best judge of poets and poetry that he can discover and be guided
by his advice.

On general principles, there are several things that this judge should
_not_ be. He should not be a professor of English, because of the
professor's usual bias toward the academic. Besides, these fellowships
ought not in any way to be associated with institutions of
learning--places which are apt to fetter poets and surround them with
an atmosphere hostile to the creative impulse. Neither should this
momentous decision be left to editors or publishers, because they are
usually suffering from literary indigestion caused by skimming too
many manuscripts too fast, and because, at any rate, they ordinarily
pay little attention to poetry and hold it commercially "in one grand
despise." Nor should the normal type of poet be chosen as judge to
decide this question. For the poet is apt to have a narrow, one-sided
view of the field. He has probably developed his own distinctive style
and personality at the expense of artistic catholicity and kindly
breadth of critical judgment. The creative and the critical faculties
are usually as distinct and as mutually exclusive spheres as that of
the impassioned, partisan lawyer and the cool, impartial judge.

To whom, then, should the decision be left? It should, in my opinion,
be left to a real _judge_--to some broad, keen critic of poetry with a
clear, unbiased contemporary view of the whole domain of the art. It
matters not whether he is professional or amateur, so he is untouched
by academicism and has not done so much reading or writing as to
impair his mental digestion and his clarity of vision. Care, of
course, would have to be used in safeguarding the critic-judge against
undue pressure in favor of this candidate or that; and in safeguarding
the incumbent of the fellowship from yet more insidious influences.
For the apparently liberated poet would merely have exchanged prisons
if he learned that the founder of the fellowship wished to dictate
what sort of poetry he should write.

The idea of poetry fellowships is not as novel as it perhaps may
sound. It is no mere empirical theory. Americans ought to be proud to
know that, in a modest way, it has recently been tried here, and is
proving a success. I am told that already two masters of poetry have
been presented to us as free workers in their art by two Boston
philanthropists, and have been enabled to accomplish some of their
best work through such fellowships as are here advocated. This fact
should put cities like New York, Pittsburg, and Chicago on their
mettle. For they must realize that Boston, with her quiet,
slow-moving, Old-World pace, has not done to poetry a tithe of the
harm that her more energetic neighbors have, and should therefore not
be suffered to bear the entire brunt of the expiation.

Men say that money cannot buy a joyful heart. But next to writing a
great poem, I can scarcely imagine a greater happiness than to know
that a thousand of my dollars had enabled an imprisoned genius to
shake from his shoes the dust of a city office and go for a year to
"God's outdoors," there to free his system of some of the beauty that
had chokingly accumulated there until it had grown an almost
intolerable pain. What joy to know that my fellowship had given men
the modern New World "Hyperion," or "Prelude," or "Ring and the Book"!
And even if that whole year resulted in nothing more than a "Skylark,"
or a "Rabbi Ben Ezra," or a "Crossing the Bar"--could one possibly
consider such a result in the same thought-wave with dollars and

But this thousand dollars might do something even better than help
produce counterparts of famous poems created in other times and lands.
It might actually secure the inestimable boon of a year's leisure, a
procession of peaceful vistas, and a brimming cup for one of that "new
brood" of "poets to come" which Walt Whitman so confidently counted
upon to 'justify him and answer what he was for.' This handful of gold
might make it possible for one of these new poets to come into his
own, and ours, at once, and in his own person accomplish that fusion,
so devoutly to be wished, of those diverse factors of the greatest
poetry which have existed among us thus far only in awful
isolation--the possession of this one and that of our chief singers.

How fervently we poetry-lovers wish that one of the captains of
industry would feel impelled to put his hand into his pocket--if only
into his watch-pocket--or adorn his last testament with a modest
codicil! It would be such poetic justice if one of those who have
prospered through the very speeding-up process which has so seriously
crippled our poetry, should devote to its service a small tithe of
what he has won from poetry's loss--and thus hasten our renaissance of
singers, and bring a new dawn, 'brighter than before known,' out of
the dusk of the poets.



I wonder if any other invention has ever, in such a brief time, made
so many joyful hearts as the invention of mechanical music. It has
brought light, peace, gladness, and the gift of self-expression to
every third or fourth flat, villa, and lonely farmhouse in the land.
Its voice has literally gone out through all the earth, and with a
swiftness more like that of light than of sound.

Only yesterday we were marveling at the discovery of the larger
magazine audience. Until then we had never dreamed of addressing
millions of fellow creatures at one time, as the popular magazine now
does. Imagine the astonished delight of Plato or Cervantes, Poe or
Dickens, if they had been given in one week an audience equivalent in
number to five thousand readers a year for ten centuries! Dickens
would have called it, I think, "immortality-while-you-wait." Yet this
sort of immortality was recently placed at the immediate disposal of
the ordinary writer.

The miracle was unique in history. But it did not long remain so. Not
content with raining this wonder upon us, history at once poured down
a greater. One morning we awoke to find a new and still vaster medium
of expression, a medium whose globe-girdling voice was to that of the
five-million reader magazine as the roar of Niagara to the roar of a
Philadelphia trolley-car. To-day, from wherever civilized man has
obtained even a temporary foothold, there arise without ceasing the
accents of mechanical music, which talk persuasively to all in a
language so universal that even the beasts understand it and cock
applauding ears at the sound of the master voice. So that, while the
magazine writers now address the million, the composers and singers
and players make their bows to the billion.

Their omnipresence is astonishing. They are the last to bid you
farewell when you leave civilization. They are the first to greet you
on your return. When I canoed across the wild Allagash country, I was
sped from Moosehead Lake by Caruso, received with open arms at the
halfway house by the great-hearted Plancon, and welcomed to Fort Kent
by Sousa and his merry men. With Schumann-Heinck, Melba, and
Tetrazzini I once camped in the heart of the Sierras. When I persisted
to the uttermost secret corner of the Dolomites, I found myself
anticipated by Kreisler and his fiddle. They tell me that the portly
Victor Herbert has even penetrated with his daring orchestra through
darkest Africa and gone on to arrange a special benefit, in his home
town, for the dalai-lama of Tibet.

One of the most promising things about mechanical music is this: No
matter what kind of music or quality of performance it offers you,
you presently long for something a little better--unless your
development has been arrested. It makes small difference in this
respect which one of the three main varieties of instrument you happen
to own. It may be the phonograph. It may be the kind of automatic
piano which accurately reproduces the performances of the master
pianists. It may be the piano-player which indulgently supplies you
with technic ready-made, and allows you to throw your own soul into
the music, whether you have ever taken lessons or not. Or it may be a
combination of the last two. The influence of these machines is
progressive. It stands for evolution rather than for devolution or

Often, however, the evolution seems to progress by sheer accident.
This is the way the accident is likely to happen. Jones is buying
records for the family phonograph. One may judge of his particular
stage of musical evolution by his purchases, which are: "Meet me in
St. Louis, Louis," "Dance of the Honey Bells," "Hello Central, Give me
Heaven," "Fashion Plate March," and "I Know that I'll be Happy when I
Die." He also notices in the catalogue a piece called "Tannhaeuser
March," and, after some hesitation, buys this as well, because the
name sounds so much like his favorite brand of beer that he suspects
it to be music of a convivial nature--a medley of drinking-songs,

But that evening in the parlor it does not seem much like beer. When
the Mephisto Military Band strikes it up--far from seeming in the
least alcoholic, it exhilarates nobody. So Jones inters it in the
darkest corner of the music-cabinet. And the family devote themselves
to the cake-walks and comic medleys, the fandangoes and tangos, the
xylophone solos, the shakedowns and break-downs and the rags and
tatters of their collection until they have thoroughly exhausted the
delights thereof. Then, having had time to forget somewhat the
flatness of "Tannhaeuser," and for want of anything better to do, they
take out the despised record, dust it, and insert it into the machine.
But this time, curiously enough, the thing does not sound quite so
flat. After repeated playings, it even begins to rival the "Fashion
Plate March" in its appeal. And it keeps on growing in grace until
within a year the "Fashion Plate March" is as obsolete as fashion
plates have a habit of growing within a year, while "Tannhaeuser" has
won the distinction of being the best-wearing record in the cabinet.

Then it begins to occur to the Jones family that there must be two
kinds of musical food: candy and staples. Candy, like the "Fashion
Plate March," tastes wonderfully sweet to the unsophisticated palate
as it goes down; but it is easy to take too much. And the cheaper the
candy, the swifter the consequent revulsion of feeling. As for the
staples, there is nothing very piquant about their flavor; but if they
are of first quality, and if one keeps his appetite healthy, one
seems to enjoy them more and more and to thrive on them three times a

Accordingly, Jones is commissioned, when next he visits the
music-store, to get a few more records like "Tannhaeuser." On this
occasion, he may even be rash enough to experiment with a Schubert
march, or a Weber overture, or one of the more popular movements of a
Beethoven sonata. And so the train of evolution will rush onward,
bearing the Joneses with it until fashion-plate marches are things of
the misty, backward horizon, and the family has, by little and little,
come to know and love the whole blessed field of classical music. And
they have found that the word "classical" is not a synonym for
dry-rot, but that it simply means the music that wears best.

However the glorious mistake may occur, it is being made by someone
every hour. By such hooks and crooks as these, good music is finding
its way into more and more homes. Although its true "classical"
nature is detected at the first trial, it is not thrown away, because
it cost good money. It is put away and bides its time; and some day
the surprising fact that it has wearing qualities is bound to be
discovered. To those who believe in the law of musical evolution, and
who realize that mechanical music has reached the wide world, and is
even beginning to penetrate into the public library, the possibility
of these happy accidents means a sure and swift general development in
the appreciation of the best music.

Those who know that man's musical taste tends to grow better and not
worse, know also that _any_ music is better than no music. A
mechanical instrument which goes is better than a new concert grand
piano that remains shut.

"Canned music may not be the highest form of art," the enthusiast will
say with a needless air of half apology, half defiance, "but I enjoy
it no end." And then he will go on to tell how the parlor melodeon
had gathered dust for years until it was given in part exchange for a
piano-player. And now the thing is the joy of the family, and the home
is filled with color and effervescence, and every one's head is filled
with at least a rudiment of living, growing musical culture.

The fact is, the piano-player is turning thousands of supposedly
humdrum, prosaic people into musical enthusiasts, to their own immense
surprise. Many of these people are actually taking lessons in the
subtle art of manipulating the machine. They are spending more money
than they can afford on vast collections of rolls. They are going more
and more to every important concert for hints on interpretation.
Better still, the most musical among them are being piqued, by the
combined merits and defects of the machine, into learning to play an
_un_mechanical instrument for the joy of feeling less mechanism
interposed between themselves and "the real thing."

Machinery has already done as much for the true spirit of music as the
"safe and sane" movement has done for the true spirit of the Fourth of
July. Both have shifted the emphasis from brute noise and fireworks to
more spiritual considerations. The piano-player has done a great deal
to cheapen the glamour of mere technical display on the part of the
virtuosi and to redeem us from the thralldom of the school of Liszt.
Our admiration for musical gymnastics and tight-rope balancing is now
leaking away so fast through the perforations of the paper rolls that
the kind of display-piece known as the concerto is going out of
fashion. The only sort of concerto destined to keep our favor is, I
imagine, that of the Schumann or Brahms type, which depends for its
effect not at all on display, but on sound musicianship alone. The
virtuoso is destined soon to leave the circus business and bid a long
farewell to his late colleagues, the sword-swallower, the trapeze
artist, the strong man, the fat lady, the contortionist, and the
gentleman who conducts the shell-and-pea game. For presently the only
thing that will be able to entice people to concerts will be the soul
of music. Its body will be a perfectly commonplace affair.

Many a good musician fears, I know, that machine-made music will not
stop with annihilating vulgar display, but will do to death all
professional music as well. This fear is groundless. Mechanical
instruments will no more drive the good pianist or violinist or
'cellist out of his profession than the public library, as many once
feared, will drive the bookseller out of business. For the library,
after persuading people to read, has taught them how much pleasure may
be had from owning a book, with the privilege of marking it and
scribbling one's own ideas on the margins, and not having to rush it
back to headquarters at inopportune moments and pay to a stern young
woman a fine of eight cents. Likewise people are eventually led to
realize that the joy of passively absorbing the product of phonograph
or electric piano contrasts with the higher joy of listening
creatively to music which the hearer helps to make, in the same way
that borrowing a book of Browning contrasts with owning a book of
Browning. I believe that, just as the libraries are yearly educating
hosts of book-buyers, so mechanical music is cooeperating with
evolution to swell the noble army of those who support concerts and
give private musicales.

Of course there is no denying that the existence of music-making
machinery has a certain relaxing effect on some of the less talented
followers of the muse of strumming, scraping, screeching, and
blatting. This is because the soul of music is not in them. And in
striving to reproduce its body, they perceive how hopeless it is to
compete with the physical perfection of the manufactured product. In
like manner, the invention of canned meats doubtless discouraged many
minor cooks from further struggles with their craft. But these
losses, I, for one, cannot bring myself to mourn.

What seems a sounder complaint is that the phonograph, because it
reproduces with equal readiness music and the spoken word, may become
an effective instrument of satire in the hands of the clever
philistine. Let me illustrate. To the Jones collection of records,
shortly after "Tannhaeuser" began to win its way, there was added a
reactionary "comic" record entitled "Maggie Clancy's New Piano." In
the record Maggie begins playing "Tannhaeuser" very creditably on her
new instrument. Presently the voice of old Clancy is heard from
another room calling, "Maggie!" The music goes on. There is a
_crescendo_ series of calls. The piano stops.

"Yes, Father?"

"Maggie, is the new pianny broke?"

"No, Father; I was merely playing Wagner."

Old Clancy meditates a moment; then, with a gentleness of touch that
might turn a New York music critic green with envy, he replies: "Oh,
I thought ye wuz shovelin' coal in the parlor stove."

Records like these have power to retard and roughen the otherwise
smooth course of a family's musical evolution; but they are usually
unable to arrest it. In general I think that such satires may fortify
the elder generation in its conservative mistrust of classical music.
But if they are only heard often enough by the young, I believe that
the sympathies of the latter will end in chiming with the taste of the
enlightened Maggie rather than with that of her father.

Until recently a graver charge against the phonograph has been that it
was so much better adapted for reproducing song than pure instrumental
music that it was tending to identify the art of music in the minds of
most men with song alone. This tendency was dangerous. For song is not
all of music, nor even its most important part. The voice is naturally
more limited in range, technic, and variety of color than many
another instrument. And it is artificially handicapped by the rather
absurd custom which forces the singer to drag in poetry (much to the
latter's disadvantage), and therewith distract his own attention and
that of his audience from the music.

The fact remains that one art at a time is none too easy for even the
most perfect medium of expression to cope with. To make a somewhat
less than perfect instrument like the human voice, cope always with
two simultaneously is an indication that the young art of music has
not yet emerged from its teens. This is one reason why most song is as
yet so intrinsically unmusical. Its reach is, as a rule, forced to
exceed its grasp. Also the accident of having a fine voice usually
determines a singer's career, though a perfect vocal organ does not
necessarily imply a musical nature. The best voices, in fact, often
belong, by some contrariety of fate, to the worst musicians. For these
and other reasons, there is less of the true spirit of music to be
heard from vocal cords than from the cords and reeds and brazen tubes
of piano, organ, string quartet, and orchestra. Thus, when the
phonograph threatened to identify song with music in general, it
threatened to give the art a setback and make the singer the
arch-enemy of the wider musical culture. Fortunately the phonograph
now gives promise of averting this peril by bringing up its
reproduction of absolute music near to its vocal standard.

Another charge against most machine-made music is its unhuman
accuracy. The phonograph companies seldom give out a record which is
not practically perfect in technic and intonation. As for the
mechanical piano, there is no escape from the certainty of just what
notes are coming next--that is, if little Johnnie has not been editing
the paper record with his father's leather-punch. Therefore one grows
after a while to long for a few of those deviations from mathematical
precision which imply human frailty and lovableness. One reason why
the future is veiled from us is that it is so painful to be certain
that one's every prediction is coming true.

A worse trouble with the phonograph is that it seems to leave out of
account that essential part of every true musical performance, the
creative listener. A great many phonograph records sound as though the
recorder had been performing to an audience no more spiritually
resonant than the four walls of a factory. I think that the makers of
another kind of mechanical instrument must have realized this
oversight on the part of the phonograph manufacturer. I mean the sort
of electric piano which faithfully reproduces every _nuance_ of the
master pianists. Many of the records of this marvelous instrument
sound as though the recording-room of the factory had been "papered"
with creative listeners who cooeperated mightily with the master on the
stage. Would that the phonographers might take the hint!

But no matter how effectively the creative listener originally
cooeperates with the maker of this kind of record, the electric piano
does not appeal as strongly to the creative listener in his home as
does the less perfect but more impressionable piano-player, which
responds like a cycle to pedal and brake. For the records of the
phonograph and of the electric piano, once they are made, are made.
Thereafter they are as insensible to influence as the laws of the
Medes and Persians. They do not admit the audience to an active,
influential part in the performance. But such a part in the
performance is exactly what the true listener demands as his
democratic right. And rather than be balked of it, he turns to the
less sophisticated mechanism of the piano-player. This, at least,
responds to his control.

Undeniably, though, even the warmest enthusiasts for the piano-player
come in time to realize that their machine has distinct limitations;
that it is better suited to certain pieces than to others. They find
that music may be performed on it with the more triumphant success
the less human it is and the nearer it comes to the soullessness of an
arabesque. The best operator, by pumping or pulling stops or switching
levers, cannot entirely succeed in imbuing it with the breath of life.
The disquieting fact remains that the more a certain piece demands to
be filled with soul, the thinner and more ghost-like it comes forth.
The less intimately human the music, the more satisfactorily it
emerges. For example, the performer is stirred by the "Tannhaeuser
March," as rendered by himself, with its flourish of trumpets and its
general hurrah-boys. But he is unmoved by the apostrophe to the
"Evening Star" from the same opera. For this, in passing through the
piano-player, is almost reduced to a frigid astronomical basis. The
singer is no longer Scotti or Bispham, but Herschel or Laplace. The
operator may pump and switch until he breaks his heart--but if he has
any real musical instinct, he will surely grow to feel a sense of lack
in this sort of music. So for the present, while confidently awaiting
the invention of an improved piano-player, which shall give equally
free expression to every mood and tense of the human spirit--the
operator learns to avoid the very soulful things as much as is

At this stage of his development he usually begins to crave that
supreme kind of music which demands a perfect balance of the
intellectual, the sensuous, and the emotional. So he goes more often
to concerts where such music is given. Saturated with it, he returns
to his piano-player and plays the concert all over again. And his
imagination is now so full of the emotional side of what he has just
heard and is re-hearing, that he easily discounts the obvious
shortcomings of the mechanical instrument. This is an excellent way of
getting the most from music. One should not, as many do, take it from
the piano-player before the concert and then go with its somewhat
stereotyped accents so fixed in the mind as to obscure the heart of
the performance. Rather, in preparation, let the score be silently
glanced through. Leave wide the doors of the soul for the precious
spiritual part of the music to enter in and take possession. After
this happens, use mechanical music to renew your memories of the
concert, just as you would use a catalogue illustrated with etchings
in black and white, to renew your memory of an exhibition of

       *       *       *       *       *

The supreme mission of mechanical music is its direct educational
mission. By this I mean something more than its educational mission to
the many thousands of grown men and women whose latent interest in
music it is suddenly awakening. I have in mind the girls and boys of
the rising generation. If people can only hear enough good music when
they are young, without having it forcibly fed to them, they are
almost sure to care for it when they come to years of discretion. The
reason why America is not more musical is that we men and women of
to-day did not yesterday, as children, hear enough good music. Our
parents probably could not afford it. It was then a luxury, implying
expensive concert tickets or an elaborate musical training for someone
in the family.

The invention of mechanical instruments ended this state of affairs
forever by suddenly making the best music as inexpensive as the worst.
There exists no longer any financial reason why most children should
not grow up in an atmosphere of the best music. And I believe that so
soon as parents learn how to educate their children through the
phonograph or the mechanical piano, the world will realize with a
start that the invention of these things is doing more for musical
culture than the invention of printing did for literary culture.

We must bear in mind, however, that the invention of mechanical
instruments has come far earlier in the history of music than the
invention of printing came in the history of literature. Music is the
youngest of the fine arts. It is in somewhat the same stage of
development to-day that literature was in the time of Homer. It is in
the age of oral--and aural--tradition. Most people still take in music
through their ears alone. For all that the invention of note-printing
means to them as enjoyers of music, they might almost as well be
living aeons before Gutenberg. Musically speaking, they belong to the
Homeric age.

Now the entrance of mechanical music upon the scene is making men
depend on their ears more than ever. It is intensifying and speeding
up this age of oral tradition. But in so doing, I believe that it is
bound to shorten this age also, on the principle that the faster you
go the sooner you arrive. Thus, machinery is hastening us toward the
time when the person of ordinary culture will no more depend on his
ears alone for the enjoyment of music than he now depends on his ears
alone for the enjoyment of Shakespeare.

Thanks to machine-made music, the day is coming the sooner when we
shall behold, as neighbors in the ordinary bookcase, such pairs of
counterparts as Milton and Bach, Beethoven and Shakespeare, Loeffler
and Maeterlinck, Byron and Tschaikowsky, Mendelssohn and Longfellow,
Nietzsche and Richard Strauss. Browning will stand up cheek by jowl
with his one true affinity, Brahms. And the owner will sit by the
quiet hearth reading to himself with equal fluency and joy from
Schubert and Keats.



     _It is only in a surrounding of personalities that
     personalities can as such make themselves seen and heard._


Between many of my readers and the joyful heart there seems to stand
but a single obstacle--their lack of creativeness. They feel that they
could live and die happy if only they might become responsible for the
creation of something which would remain to bless mankind after they
are gone. But as it is, how can they have the joyful heart when they
are continually being tortured by regret because God did not make
masters of them?

One is sad because he is not a master of poetry. He never sees A, his
golden-tongued friend, without a pang very like the envy of a
childless man for a happy father. But he has no suspicion that he is
partly responsible for A's poetic excellence. Another thinks her life
a mistake because the Master of all good workmen did not make her a
sculptor. Yet all the while she is lavishing unawares upon her brother
or son or husband the very stuff that art is made of. Others are
inconsolable because no fairy wand at their birth destined them for
men of original action, for discoverers in science, pianists,
statesmen, or actors; for painters, philosophers, inventors, or
architects of temples or of religions.

Now my task in this last chapter is a more delightful one than if I
were the usual solicitor of fiction, come to inform the
poor-but-honest newsboy that he is a royal duke. It is my privilege to
comfort many of the comfortless by revealing to them how and why they
are--or may be--masters of an art as indispensable as the arts which
they now regard so wistfully. I mean the art of master-making--the art
of being a master by proxy.

To be specific, let us single out one of the arts and see what it
means to master it by proxy. Suppose we consider the simple case of
executive music. In a book called "The Musical Amateur" I have tried
to prove (more fully than is here possible) that the reproduction of
music is a social act. It needs two: one to perform, one to
appreciate. Both are almost equally essential to a good performance.
The man who appreciates a musical phrase unconsciously imitates it
with almost imperceptible contractions of throat or lips. These
contractions represent an incipient singing or whistling. Motions
similar to these, and probably more fully developed, are made at the
same time by his mind and his spirit. The whole man actually feels his
way, physically and psychically, into the heart of the music. He is
turned into a sentient sounding-board which adds its own contribution
of emotion to the music and sends it back by wireless telegraphy to
the performer. When a violinist and a listener of the right sort meet
for musical purposes, this is what happens. The violinist happens to
be in the mood for playing. This means that he has feelings which
demand expression. These his bow releases. The music strikes the
listener, sets him in vibration as if he were a sounding-board, and
rouses in him feelings similar to those of the violinist. Enriched by
this new contribution, the emotional complex resounds back to the
violinist, intensifying his original "feeling-state." In its
heightened form it then recoils back to the appreciator, "and so on,
back and forth, growing in stimulating power at each recoil. The whole
process is something like a hot 'rally' in tennis, with the opponents
closing in on each other and the ball shuttling across the net faster
with every stroke as the point gains in excitement and pleasure.
'Social resonance' might be a good way of describing the thing." This,
briefly told, is what passes between the player of music and his
creative listener.

In application this principle does not by any means stop with
performing or composing music or with the fine arts. It goes on to
embrace more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in the
fiddler's or in any other artist's philosophy. Perhaps it is not too
much to say that no great passion or action has ever had itself
adequately expressed without the cooeperation of this social resonance,
without the help of at least one of those modest, unrecognized
partners of genius, the social resonators, the masters by proxy.

Thanks, dear master-makers unawares! The gratitude of the few who
understand you is no less sincere because you do not yet realize your
own thankworthiness. Our children shall rise up and call you blessed.
For in your quiet way, you have helped to create the world's
creators--the preachers, prophets, captains, artists, discoverers, and
seers of the ages. To these, you, unrecognized and unawares, have been
providing the very sinews of peace, vision, war, beauty, originality,
and insight.

What made the game of art so brilliant in the age of Pericles? It was
not star playing by individuals. It was steady, consistent team-work
by the many. Almost every one of the Athenians who were not masters
were masters by proxy. In "The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century"
Chamberlain holds that Greek culture derived its incomparable charm
from "a peculiar harmony of greatness"; and that "if our poets are not
in every respect equal to the greatest poets of Athens, that is not
the fault of their talent, but of those who surround them." Only
imagine the joyful ease of being a poet in the Periclean atmosphere!
It must have been as exhilarating as coasting down into the Yosemite
Valley with John Muir on an avalanche of snow.

But even in that enlightened age the master received all the credit
for every achievement, and his creative appreciator none at all. And
so it has been ever since that particular amoeba which was destined
for manhood had a purse made up for him and was helped upon the train
of evolution by his less fortunate and more self-effacing friends who
were destined to remain amoebae; because the master by proxy is such
a retiring, unspectacular sort of person that he has never caught the
popular imagination or found any one to sing his praises. But if he
should ever resent this neglect and go on strike, we should realize
that without him progress is impossible. For the real lords of
creation are not always the apparent lords. We should bear in mind
that the most important part of many a throne is not the red velvet
seat, the back of cloth of gold, or the onyx arms that so sumptuously
accommodate the awe and majesty of acknowledged kings. Neither is it
the seed-pearl canopy that intercepts a too searching light from
majesty's complexion. It is a certain little filigreed hole in the
throne-back which falls conveniently close to the sovereign's ear when
he leans back between the periods of the wise, beauteous, and
thrilling address to his subjects.

For doubled up in a dark, close box behind the chair of state is a
humble, drab individual who, from time to time, applies his mouth to
the wrong side of the filigreed hole and whispers things. If he were
visible at all, he would look like the absurd prompter under the hood
at the opera. He is not a famous person. Most people are so ignorant
of his very existence that he might be pardoned for being an agnostic
about it himself. The few others know little and care less. Only two
or three of the royal family are aware of his name and real function.
They refer to him as M. Power-Behind-the-Throne, Master-by-Proxy of

There is one sign by which masters by proxy may be detected wherever
met. They are people whose presence is instantly invigorating. Before
you can make out the color of their eyes you begin to feel that you
are greater than you know. It is as if they wore diffused about them
auras so extensive and powerful that entering these auras was
equivalent to giving your soul electric massage. You do not have to
touch the hem of their garments nor even see them. The auras penetrate
a brick wall as a razor penetrates Swiss cheese. And if you are
fortunate enough to be on the other side of the partition, you become
aware with a thrill that "virtue," in the beautiful, Biblical sense of
the word, has gone out of somebody and into you.

If ever I return to live in a city apartment (which may the gods
forfend!) I shall this time select the apartment with almost sole
reference to what comes through the walls. I shall enter one of those
typical New York piles which O. Henry described as "paved with Parian
marble in the entrance-hall, and cobblestones above the first floor,"
and my inquiry will be focused on things far other than Parian marble
and cobblestones. I shall walk about the rooms and up and down the
bowling-alleys of halls trying to make myself as sensitive to
impressions as are the arms of the divining-rod man during his solemn
parade with the wand of witch-hazel. And when I feel "virtue" from the
next apartment streaming through the partition, there will I instantly
give battle to the agent and take up my abode. And this though it be
up six flights of cobblestones, without elevator, without closet-room,
with a paranoiac for janitor, and radiators whose musical performance
all the day long would make a Cleveland boiler factory pale with envy.
For none of these things would begin to offset the privilege of living
beside a red-letter wall whose influence should be as benignly
constructive as Richard Washburn Child's "Blue Wall" was malignly

To-day I should undoubtedly be much more of a person if I had once had
the pleasure of living a wall away from Richard Watson Gilder. He was
a true master by proxy. For he was a vastly more creative person than
his published writings will ever accredit him with being. Not only
with his pen, but also with his whole self he went about doing good.
"Virtue" fairly streamed from him all the time. Those bowed shoulders
and deep-set, kindly eyes would emerge from the inner sanctum of the
"Century" office. In three short sentences he would reject the story
which had cost you two years of labor and travail. But all the time
the fatal words were getting themselves uttered, so much "virtue" was
passing from him into you that you would turn from his presence
exhilarated, uplifted, and while treading higher levels for the next
week, would produce a check-bearing tale. The check, however, would
not bring you a tithe of the "virtue" that the great editor's personal
rebuff had brought.

But more than to any editor, writers look to their readers for
support, especially to their unknown correspondents--postal and
psychic. Leonard Merrick has so finely expressed the attitude of many
writers that I cannot forbear giving his words to his "public":

     I have thought of you so often and wanted to win a smile
     from you; you don't realize how I have longed to meet
     you--to listen to you, to have you lift the veil that hides
     your mind from me. Sometimes in a crowd I have fancied I
     caught a glimpse of you; I can't explain--the poise of the
     head, a look in the eyes, there was something that hinted it
     was You. And in a whirlwind of an instant it almost seemed
     that you would recognize me; but you said no word--you
     passed, a secret from me still. To yourself where you are
     sitting you are just a charming woman with "a local
     habitation and a name"; but to me you are not Miss or Madam,
     not M. or N.--you are a Power, and I have sought you by a
     name you have not heard--you are my Public. And O my Lady, I
     am speaking to you! I feel your presence in my senses,
     though you are far away and I can't hear your answer.... It
     is as if I had touched your hand across the page.

There are probably more masters by proxy to be found among the world's
mothers than in any other class. The profession of motherhood is such
a creative one, and demands so constant an outgo of unselfish
sympathy, that a mother's technic as silent partner is usually kept in
a highly efficient state. And occasionally a mother of a genius
deserves as much credit for him spiritually as physically. Think of
Frau Goethe, for example.

Many a genius attains a commanding position largely through the happy
chance of meeting many powerful masters by proxy and through his happy
facility for taking and using whatever creativeness these have to
offer. Genius has been short-sightedly defined as "an infinite
capacity for taking pains." Galton more truthfully holds that the
triune factors of genius are industry, enthusiasm, and ability. Now if
we were to insist, as so many do, on making a definition out of a
single one of these factors to the neglect of the others, we should
come perhaps nearer the mark by saying that genius is an infinite
capacity for taking others' pains. But all such definings are absurd.
For the genius absorbs and alchemizes not only the industry of his
silent partners, but also their ability and enthusiasm. Their
enthusiasm is fortunately contained in a receptacle as generous as
Philemon's famous pitcher. And the harder the genius tries to pour it
empty, the more the sparkling liquid bubbles up inside. The
transaction is like "the quality of mercy"--

    "It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."

The ability to receive as well as give this sort of help varies widely
with the individual. Some geniuses of large psychic power are able
instantly to seize out of any crowd whatever creativeness there is in
it. These persons are spiritual giants. Their strength is as the
strength of ten because their grasp is sure. They are such stuff as
Shakespeares are made of.

Others are not psychically gifted. They can absorb creativeness only
from their nearest and dearest, in the most favoring environment, and
only after the current has been seriously depleted by wastage in
transmission. But these are the two extremes. They are as rare as
extremes usually are.

In general I believe that genius, though normally capable of drawing
creativeness from a number of different sources, has as a rule
depended largely on the collaboration of one chief master by proxy.
This idea gazes wide-eyed down a fascinating vista of speculation.
Who, for instance, was Lincoln's silent partner? the power behind the
throne of Charlemagne? Buddha's better self? Who were the secret
commanders of Grant, Wellington, and Caesar? Who was Moliere's hidden
prompter? the conductor of the orchestra called Beethoven? the psychic
comrade of Columbus?

I do not know. For history has never commemorated, as such, the
masters by proxy with honor due, or indeed with any honor or
remembrance at all. It will take centuries to explore the past with
the sympathetic eye and the understanding heart in order to discover
what great tombs we have most flagrantly neglected.

Already we can single out a few of them. The time is coming when
music-lovers will never make a pilgrimage to the resting-place of
Wagner without making another to the grave of Mathilde Wesendonk,
whose "virtue" breathed into "Tristan and Isolde" the breath of life.
We shall not much longer neglect the tomb of Charles Darwin's father,
who, by making the evolutionist financially independent, gave his
services to the world. Nor shall we disregard the memory of that other
Charles-Darwin-by-proxy--his wife. For her tireless comradeship and
devotion and freely lavished vitality were an indispensable reservoir
of strength to the great invalid. Without it the world would never
have had the "Origin of Species" or the "Descent of Man."

Other instances throng to mind. I have small doubt that Charles Eliot
Norton was the silent partner of Carlyle, Ruskin, and Lowell; Ste.
Clare of Francis of Assisi; Joachim and Billroth of Brahms, and
Dorothy Wordsworth of William. By a pleasant coincidence, I had no
sooner noted down the last of these names than I came upon this
sentence in Sarah Orne Jewett's Letters: "How much that we call
Wordsworth himself was Dorothy to begin with." And soon after, I found
these words in a letter which Brahms sent Joachim with the score of
his second "Serenade": "Care for the piece a little, dear friend; it
is very much yours and sounds of you. Whence comes it, anyway, that
music sounds so friendly, if it is not the doing of the one or two
people whom one loves as I love you?" The impressionable Charles Lamb
must have had many such partners besides his sister Mary. Hazlitt
wrote: "He is one of those of whom it may be said, 'Tell me your
company, and I'll tell you your manners.' He is the creature of
sympathy, and makes good whatever opinion you seem to entertain of

Perhaps the most creative master by proxy I have ever known was the
wife of one of our ex-Presidents. To call upon her was to experience
the elevation and mental unlimbering of three or four glasses of
champagne, with none of that liquid's less desirable after-effects. I
should not wonder if her eminent husband's success were not due as
much to her creativeness as to his own.

It sometimes happens that the most potent masters in their own right
are also the most potent masters by proxy. They grind out more power
than they can consume in their own particular mill-of-the-gods. I am
inclined to think that Sir Humphry Davy was one of these. He was the
discoverer of chlorine and laughing-gas, and the inventor of the
miner's safety lamp. He was also the _deus ex machina_ who rescued
Faraday from the bookbinder's bench, made him the companion of his
travels, and incidentally poured out the overplus of his own creative
energy upon the youth who has recently been called "perhaps the most
remarkable discoverer of the nineteenth century." Schiller was another
of these. "In more senses than one your sympathy is fruitful," wrote
Goethe to him during the composition of "Faust."

Indeed, the greatest Master known to history was first and foremost a
master by proxy. It was He who declared that we all are "members one
of another." Writing nothing Himself, He inspired others to write
thousands of immortal books. He was unskilled as painter, or sculptor,
or architect; yet the greatest canvases, marbles, and cathedrals since
He trod the earth have sprung directly from his influence. He was no

     "His song was only living aloud."

But that silent song was the direct inspiration of much of the
sublimest music of the centuries to come. And so we might go on and on
about this Master of all vicarious masters.

Yet it is a strange and touching thing to note that even his exuberant
creativeness sometimes needed the refreshment of silent partners. When
He was at last to perform a great action in his own right He looked
about for support and found a master by proxy in Mary, the sister of
the practical Martha. But when He turned for help in uttermost need
to his best-beloved disciples He found them only negative, destructive
influences. This accounts for the anguish of his reproach: "Could ye
not watch with me one hour?"

Having never been properly recognized as such, the world's masters by
proxy have never yet been suitably rewarded. Now the world is
convinced that its acknowledged masters deserve more of a feast at
life's surprise party than they can bring along for themselves in
their own baskets. So the world bows them to the places of honor at
the banquet board. True, the invitation sometimes comes so late that
the master has long since devoured everything in his basket and is
dead of starvation. But that makes not the slightest difference to
humanity, which will take no refusal, and props the cynically amused
skeleton up at the board next the toastmaster. My point is, however,
that humanity is often forehanded enough with its invitations to give
the masters a charming time of it before they, too, into the dust
descend, _sans_ wine, _sans_ song, etc. But I do not know that it has
ever yet consciously bidden a master by proxy--as such--to the feast.
And I contend that if a man's deserts are to be measured at all by his
creativeness, then the great masters by proxy deserve seats well up
above the salt.

For is it any less praiseworthy to make a master than to make a
masterpiece? I grant that the masterpiece is the more sudden and
dramatic in appearing and can be made immediate use of, whereas the
master is slowly formed, and even then turns out unsatisfactory in
many ways. He is apt to be that well-known and inconvenient sort of
person who, when he comes in out of the rain to dress for his wedding,
abstractedly prepares to retire instead, and then, still more
abstractedly, puts his umbrella to bed and stands himself in the
corner. All the same, it is no less divine to create a master by slow,
laborious methods than to snatch a masterpiece apparently out of
nothing-at-all. In the eye of the evolutionist, man is not of any the
less value because he was made by painful degrees instead of having
been produced, a perfect gentleman, out of the void somewhat as the
magician brings forth from the empty saucepan an omelette, containing
a live pigeon with the loaned wedding-ring in its beak.

The master-makers have long been expending their share of the power.
It is high time they were enjoying their share of the glory. What an
unconscionable leveling up and down there will presently be when it
dawns upon humanity what a large though inglorious share it has been
having in the spiritually creative work of the world! In that day the
seats of the mighty individualists of science, industry, politics, and
discovery; of religion and its ancient foe ecclesiasticism; of
economy, the arts and philosophy, will all be taken down a peg by the
same knowledge that shall exalt "them of low degree."

I can imagine how angrily ruffled the sallow shade of Arthur
Schopenhauer will become at the dawn of this spiritual Commune. When
the first full notes of the soul's "Marseillaise" burst upon his
irritable eardrums, I can hear above them his savage snarl. I can see
his malignant expression as he is forced to divide his unearned
increment of fame with some of those _Mitmenschen_ whom he, like a bad
Samaritan, loved to lash with his tongue before pouring in oil of
vitriol and the sour wine of sadness. And how like red-ragged
turkey-cocks Lord Byron and Nietzsche and Napoleon will puff out when
required to stand and deliver some of their precious credit!

There will be compensations, though, to the genius who, safely dead,
feels himself suddenly despoiled of a fullness of fame which he had
counted on enjoying in _saecula saeculorum_. When he comes to balance
things up, perhaps he will not, after all, find the net loss so
serious. Though he lose some credit for his successes, he will also
lose some discredit for his failures. Humanity will recognize that
while the good angels of genius are the masters by proxy, the bad
angels of genius exert an influence as negative and destructive as the
influence of the others is positive and constructive.

How jolly it will be, for all but the bad angels, when we can assign
to them such failures as Browning's "The Inn Album"; Davy's contention
that iodine was not an element, and Luther's savage hounding of the
nobles upon the wretched peasants who had risen in revolt under his
own inspiration. But enough of the bad angels! Let us inter them with
this epitaph: "They did their worst; devils could do no more."

Turn we to the bright side of the situation. How delighted Keats will
be when at last the world develops a little sense of proportion, and
after first neglecting and then over-praising him, finally proposes to
give poor old Severn his due as a master by proxy. Imagine Sir William
Herschel's pleasure when his beloved sister Caroline begins to
receive her full deserts. And Tschaikowsky will slough his morbidness
and improvise a Slavic Hallelujah Chorus when his unseen patroness
comes into her own. It is true that the world has already given her
memory two fingers and a perfunctory "thank ye." This was for putting
her purse at Tschaikowsky's disposal, thus making it possible for him
to write a few immortal compositions instead of teaching mortals the
piano in a maddening conservatory. But now, glory! hallelujah! the
world is soon going to render her honor long overdue for the spiritual
support which so ably reinforced the financial.

And Sir Thomas More, that early socialist--imagine his elation! For he
will regard our desire to transfer some of his own credit to the man
in the pre-Elizabethan street as a sure sign that we are steadily
approaching the golden gates of his Utopia. For good Sir Thomas knows
that our view of heroes and hero-worship has always been too little
democratic. We have been over-inclined, with the aristocratic
Carlyle, to see all history as a procession of a few transcendent
masters surrounded, preceded, and followed by enormous herds of abject
and quite insignificant slaves. Between these slaves and the masters,
there is, in the old view, about as much similarity as exists in the
child's imagination between the overwhelming dose of castor oil and
the single pluperfect chocolate drop whereby the dose is supposed to
be made endurable. Already the idea is beginning to glimmer that
heroic stuff is far more evenly distributed throughout the throng than
we had supposed.

It is, of course, very meet and very right and our bounden duty to
admire the world's standard, official heroes. But it is wrong to
revere them to the exclusion of folk less showy but perhaps no less
essential. It is almost as wrong as it would be for the judges at the
horse-show to put the dog-cart before the horse and then focus their
admiring glances so exclusively upon the vehicle that they forgot the
very existence of its patient and unself-conscious propeller.

It is especially fitting that we should awake to the worth of the
master by proxy just now, when the movement for the socialization of
the world, after so many ineffectual centuries, is beginning to engage
the serious attention of mankind. Thus far, one of the chief
reactionary arguments against all men being free has been that men are
so shockingly unequal. And the reactionaries have called us to witness
the gulf that yawns, for example, between the god-like individualist,
Ysaye, and the worm-like little factory girl down there in the
audience balanced on the edge of the seat and listening to the
violin--her rapt soul sitting in her eyes. Now, however, we know that,
but for the wireless tribute of creativeness that flashes up to the
monarch of tone from that "rapt soul" and others as humble and as
rapt--the king of fiddlers would then and there be obliged to lay down
his horsehair scepter and abdicate.

We have reached a stage of social evolution where it is high time that
one foolish old fallacy should share the fate of the now partially
discredited belief that "genius will out" in spite of man or devil.
This fallacy is the supposition that man's creativeness is to be
measured solely by its visible, audible, or tangible results.
Browning's old Rabbi made a shrewd commentary on this question when he

    "Not on the vulgar mass
    Called 'work,' must sentence pass,
    Things done that took the eye and had the price....
    But all the world's coarse thumb
    And finger failed to plumb....
    Thoughts hardly to be packed
    Into a narrow act,
    Fancies that broke through language and escaped:
    All I could never be,
    All men ignored in me,
    This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped."

Yes, we are being slowly socialized, even to our way of regarding
genius; and this has been until now the last unchallenged stronghold
of individualism. We perceive that even there individualism must no
longer be allowed to have it all its own way. After a century we are
beginning to realize that the truth was in our first socially minded
English poet when he sang:

    "Nothing in the world is single,
    All things by a law divine
    In one another's being mingle."

To-day we have in library, museum, gallery, and cathedral tangible
records of the creativeness of the world's masters. Soon I think we
are to possess--thanks to Edison and the cinematographers--intangible
records--or at least suggestions--of the modest creativeness of our
masters by proxy. Some day every son with this inspiring sort of
mother will have as complete means as science and his purse affords,
of perpetuating her voice, her changing look, her walk, her tender
smile. Thus he may keep at least a gleam of her essential creativeness
always at hand for help in the hour of need.

I would give almost anything if I could have in a storage battery
beside me now some of the electric current that was forever flowing
out of my own mother, or out of Richard Watson Gilder, or out of Hayd
Sampson, a glorious old "inglorious Milton" of a master by proxy whom
I once found toiling in a small livery-stable in Minnesota. My faith
is firm that some such miracle will one day be performed. And in our
irreverent, Yankee way we may perhaps call the captured product of the
master by proxy--"canned virtue." In that event the twenty-first
centurion will no more think of setting out on a difficult task or for
a God-forsaken environment without a supply of "canned virtue" than of
starting for one of the poles equipped with only a pocketful of

There is a grievous amount of latent master-making talent spoiling
to-day for want of development. Many an one feels creative energy
crying aloud within himself for vicarious spiritual expression. He
would be a master by proxy, yet is at a loss how to learn. Him I
would recommend to try learning the easiest form of the art. Let him
resolve to become a creative listener to music. Once he is able to
influence reproducers of art like pianists and singers, he can then
begin groping by analogy toward the more difficult art of influencing
directly the world's creators. But even if he finds himself quite
lacking in creativeness, he can still be a silent partner of genius if
he will relax purse-strings, or cause them to be relaxed, for the
founding of creative fellowships.

I do not know if ever yet in the history of the planet the mighty
force which resides in the masters by proxy has been systematically
used. I am sure it has never been systematically conserved, and that
it is one of the least understood and least developed of earth's
natural resources. One of our next long steps forward should be along
this line of the conservation of "virtue." The last physical frontier
has practically been passed. Now let us turn to the undiscovered
continents of soul which have so long been awaiting their Columbuses
and Daniel Boones, their country-life commissions and conferences of

When the hundredth part of you possible masters by proxy shall grow
aware of your possibilities, and take your light from under the
bushel, and use it to reinforce the flickering flame of talent at your
elbow, or to illumine the path of some unfortunate and stumbling
genius, or to heighten the brilliance of the consummate master--our
civilization will take a mighty step towards God.

Try it, my masters!


       *       *       *       *       *

By Robert Haven Schauffler


       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *

End of Project Gutenberg's The Joyful Heart, by Robert  Haven  Schauffler


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