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Behind the Beyond - and Other Contributions to Human Knowledge
by Stephen Leacock
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It was a fair struggle. The child had its chance and was beaten. The child couldn't dress: the dog could. The child couldn't or wouldn't pray: the dog could,—or at least he learnt how. No doubt it came awkwardly at first, but he set himself to it till nowadays a French dog can enter a cathedral with just as much reverence as his mistress, and can pray in the corner of the pew with the same humility as hers. When you get to know the Parisian dogs, you can easily tell a Roman Catholic dog from a Low Church Anglican. I knew a dog once that was converted,—everybody said from motives of policy,—from a Presbyterian,—but, stop, it's not fair to talk about it,—the dog is dead now, and it's not right to speak ill of its belief, no matter how mistaken it may have been.

However, let that pass, what I was saying was that between the child and the dog, each had its chance in a fair open contest and the child is nowhere.

People, who have never seen, even from the outside, the Parisian world of fashion, have no idea to what an extent it has been invaded by the dog craze. Dogs are driven about in motors and open carriages. They are elaborately clipped and powdered and beribboned by special "coiffeurs." They wear little buckled coats and blankets, and in motors,—I don't feel quite sure of this,—they wear motor goggles. There are at least three or four—and for all I know there may be more—fashionable shops in Paris for dogs' supplies. There is one that any curious visitor may easily find at once in the Rue des Petits Champs close to the Avenue de l'Opera. There is another one midway in the galleries of the Palais Royal. In these shops you will see, in the first place, the chains, collars, and whips that are marks of the servitude in which dogs still live (though, by the way, there are already, I think, dog suffragettes heading a very strong movement). You will see also the most delicious, fashionable dog coats, very, very simple, fastened in front with one silver clasp, only one. In the Palais Royal shop they advertise, "Newest summer models for 1913 in dogs' tailoring." There are also dogs' beds made in wickerwork in cradle shape with eider-down coverlets worked over with silk.

A little while ago, the New York papers were filled with an account of a dog's lunch given at the Vanderbilt Hotel by an ultra-fashionable American lady. It was recorded that Vi Sin, the Pekin Spaniel of Mrs. H. of New York, was host to about ten thousand dollars worth of "smart" dogs. I do not know whether or not this story is true, for I only read it in the Parisian papers. But certain it is that the episode would have made no sensation in Paris. A dog eating in a restaurant is a most ordinary spectacle. Only a few days ago I had lunch with a dog,—a very quiet, sensible Belgian poodle, very simply dressed in a plain morning stomach coat of ultramarine with leather insertions. I took quite a fancy to him. When I say that I had lunch with him, I ought to explain that he had a lady, his mistress, with him,—that also is quite usual in Paris. But I didn't know her, and she sat on the further side of him, so that I confined myself to ordinary table civilities with the dog. I was having merely a plain omelette, from motives of economy, and the dog had a little dish of entrecote d'agneau aux asperges maitre d'hotel. I took some of it while the lady was speaking to the waiter and found it excellent. You may believe it or not, but the entry of a dog into a French restaurant and his being seated at a table and having his food ordered creates not the slightest sensation. To bring a child into a really good restaurant would, I imagine, be looked upon as rather a serious affair.

Not only is the dog the darling of the hour during his lifetime, but even in death he is not forgotten. There is in Paris a special dog cemetery. It lies among the drooping trees of a little island in the Seine, called the Isle de la Recette, and you may find it by taking the suburban tramway for Asnieres. It has little tombstones, monuments, and flowered walks. One sorrow-stricken master has inscribed over a dog's grave,—"Plus je vois les hommes, plus j'aime mon chien." The most notable feature of the cemetery is the monument of Barry, a St. Bernard dog. The inscription states that he saved forty lives in the Alps.

But the dog craze is after all only a sign and sample of the prevailing growth and extent of fashionable luxury. Nowhere in the world, I suppose, is this more conspicuous than in Paris, the very Vanity Fair of mundane pleasure. The hostesses of dinners, dances and fetes vie with one another in seeking bizarre and extravagant effects. Here is a good example of it taken from actual life the other day. It is an account of an "oriental fete" given at a private mansion in Paris.

It runs thus:—"The sumptuous Paris mansion of the Comtesse Aynard de Chabrillan in the Rue Christophe-Colomb was converted into a veritable scene from the 'Thousand and One Nights' on the occasion of a Persian fete given by her to a large company of friends.

"In the courtyard an immense tent was erected, hung with superb Persian stuffs and tapestries, and here the elite of Paris assembled in gorgeous Oriental costumes.

"The countess herself presided in a magnificent Persian costume of green and gold, with an immense white aigrette in her hair."

Notice it. The simplicity of it! Only green and gold in her costume, no silver, no tin, no galvanized iron, just gold, plain gold; and only "one immense white aigrette." The quiet dignity of it!

The article goes on:—"Each of the sensational entries was announced by M. Andre de Fouquieres, the arbiter of Parisian elegance.

"One of the most striking spectacles of the evening was the appearance of Princesse P. d'Arenberg, mounted on an elephant, richly bedecked with Indian trappings. Then came the Duchesse de Clermont-Tonnerre and the Comtesse Stanislas de Castellane in gold cages, followed by the Marquise de Brantes, in a flower-strewn Egyptian litter, accompanied by Pharaoh and his slaves.

"The Comtesse de Lubersac danced an Oriental measure with charming grace, and Prince Luis Fernando of Spain, in an ethereal costume, his features stained a greenish hue, executed a Hindoo dance before the assembly."

Can you beat it? His features stained with a greenish hue! Now look at that! He might have put on high grade prepared paint or clear white lead,—he's rich enough,—but, no, just a quiet shingle stain is enough for him.

I cannot resist adding from the same source the list of the chief guests. Anybody desiring a set of names for a burlesque show to run three hundred nights on the circuit may have them free of charge or without infringement of copyright.

"Nearly everyone prominent in Paris society was present, including the Maharajah of Kapurthala, Princess Prem Kaur, Prince Aga Khan, the Austrian Ambassador and Countess Szecsen, the Persian and Bulgarian Ministers, Mme. Stancioff, Duc and Duchesse de Noailles, Comtesse A. Potocka, Marquis and Marquise de Mun, Comtesse du Bourg de Bozas, Mrs. Moore, Comte and Comtesse G. de Segonzec and Prince and Princess de Croy."

I am sorry that "Mrs. Moore" was there. She must have slipped in unnoticed.

What is not generally known is that I was there myself. I appeared,—in rivalry with Prince Luis Fernando—dressed as a Bombay soda water bottle, with aerial opalescent streaks of light flashing from the costume which was bound with single wire.



IV.—A Visit to Versailles

"WHAT!" said the man from Kansas, looking up from his asparagus, "do you mean to say that you have never seen the Palace of Versailles?"

"No," I said very firmly, "I have not."

"Nor the fountains in the gardens?"

"No."

"Nor the battle pictures?"

"No."

"And the Hall of Mirrors,"—added the fat lady from Georgia.

"And Madame du Barry's bed"—said her husband.

"Her which," I asked, with some interest.

"Her bed."

"All right," I said, "I'll go."

I knew, of course, that I had to. Every tourist in Paris has got to go and see Versailles. Otherwise the superiority of the others becomes insufferable, with foreigners it is different. If they worry one about palaces and cathedrals and such—the Chateau at Versailles, and the Kaiserhof and the Duomo at Milan—I answer them in kind. I ask them if they have ever seen the Schlitzerhof at Milwaukee and the Anheuserbusch at St. Louis, and the Dammo at Niagara, and the Toboggo at Montreal. That quiets them wonderfully.

But, as I say, I had to go.

You get to Versailles—as the best of various ways of transport—by means of a contrivance something between a train and a street car. It has a little puffing steam-engine and two cars—double deckers—with the top deck open to the air and covered with a wooden roof on rods. The lower part inside is called the first-class and a seat in it costs ten cents extra. Otherwise nobody would care to ride in it. The engine is a quaint little thing and wears a skirt, painted green, all around it, so that you can just see the tips of its wheels peeping modestly out below. It was a great relief to me to see this engine. It showed that there is such a thing as French delicacy after all. There are so many sights along the boulevards that bring the carmine blush to the face of the tourist (from the twisting of his neck in trying to avoid seeing them), that it is well to know that the French draw the line somewhere. The sight of the bare wheels of an engine is too much for them.

The little train whirls its way out of Paris, past the great embankment and the fortifications, and goes rocking along among green trees whose branches sweep its sides, and trim villas with stone walls around quaint gardens. At every moment it passes little inns and suburban restaurants with cool arbours in front of them, and waiters in white coats pouring out glasses of red wine. It makes one thirsty just to look at them.

In due time the little train rattles and rocks itself over the dozen miles or so that separate Paris from Versailles, and sets you down right in front of the great stone court-yard of the palace. There through the long hours of a summer afternoon you may feast your eyes upon the wonderland of beauty that rose at the command of the grand monarch, Louis XIV, from the sanded plains and wooded upland that marked the spot two hundred and fifty years ago.

All that royal munificence could effect was lavished on the making of the palace. So vast is it in size that in the days of its greatest splendour it harboured ten thousand inmates. The sheer length of it from side to side is only about a hundred yards short of half a mile. To make the grounds the King's chief landscape artist and his hundreds of workers laboured for twenty years. They took in, as it were, the whole landscape. The beauty of their work lies not only in the wonderful terraces, gardens, groves and fountains that extend from the rear of the Chateau, but in its blending with the scene beyond. It is so planned that no distant house or building breaks into the picture. The vista ends everywhere with the waving woods of the purple distance.

Louis XIV spent in all, they say, a hundred million dollars on the making of the palace. When made it was filled with treasures of art not to be measured in price. It was meant to be, and it remains, the last word of royal grandeur. The King's court at Versailles became the sun round which gravitated the fate and fortune of his twenty million subjects. Admission within its gates was itself a mark of royal favour. Now, any person with fifteen cents may ride out from Paris on the double-decked street car and wander about the palace at will. For a five cent tip to a guide you may look through the private apartments of Marie Antoinette, and for two cents you may check your umbrella while you inspect the bedroom of Napoleon the First. For nothing at all you may stand on the vast terrace behind the Chateau and picture to yourself the throng of gay ladies in paniered skirts, and powdered gentlemen, in sea-green inexpressibles, who walked among its groves and fountains two hundred years ago. The palace of the Kings has become the playground of the democracy.

The palace—or the Chateau, as it is modestly named—stands crosswise upon an elevation that dominates the scene for miles around. The whole building throughout is only of three stories, for French architecture has a horror of high buildings. The two great wings of the Chateau reach sideways, north and south; and one, a shorter one, runs westwards towards the rear. In the front space between the wings is a vast paved court-yard—the Royal Court—shut in by a massive iron fence. Into this court penetrated, one autumn evening in 1789, the raging mob led by the women of Paris, who had come to drag the descendant of the Grand Monarch into the captivity that ended only with the guillotine. Here they lighted their bonfires and here they sang and shrieked and shivered throughout the night. That night of the fifth of October was the real end of monarchy in France.

No one, I think—not even my friend from Kansas who boasted that he had "put in" three hours at Versailles—could see all that is within the Chateau. But there are certain things which no tourist passes by. One of them is the suite of rooms of Louis XIV, a great series of square apartments all opening sideways into each other with gilded doors as large as those of a barn, and with about as much privacy as a railway station. One room was the King's council chamber; next to this, a larger one, was the "wig-room," where the royal mind selected its wig for the day and where the royal hair-dresser performed his stupendous task. Besides this again is the King's bedroom. Preserved in it, within a little fence, still stands the bed in which Louis XIV died in 1715, after a reign of seventy-two years. The bedroom would easily hold three hundred people. Outside of it is a great antechamber, where the courtiers jealously waited their turn to be present at the King's "lever," or "getting up," eager to have the supreme honour of holding the royal breeches.

But if the King's apartments are sumptuous, they are as nothing to the Hall of Mirrors, the showroom of the whole palace, and estimated to be the most magnificent single room in the world. It extends clear across the end of the rear wing and has a length of 236 feet. It is lighted by vast windows that reach almost to the lofty arch that forms its ceiling; the floor is of polished inlaid wood, on which there stood in Louis the Great's time, tables, chairs, and other furniture of solid silver. The whole inner side of the room is formed by seventeen enormous mirrors set in spaces to correspond in shape to the window opposite, and fitted in between with polished marble. Above them runs a cornice of glittering gilt, and over that again the ceiling curves in a great arch, each panel of it bearing some picture to recall the victories of the Grand Monarch. Ungrateful posterity has somewhat forgotten the tremendous military achievements of Louis XIV—the hardships of his campaign in the Netherlands in which the staff of the royal cuisine was cut down to one hundred cooks—the passage of the Rhine, in which the King actually crossed the river from one side to the other, and so on. But the student of history can live again the triumphs of Louis in this Hall of Mirrors. It is an irony of history that in this room, after the conquest of 1871, the King of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor by his subjects and his allies.

But if one wants to see battle pictures, one has but to turn to the north wing of the Chateau. There you have them, room after room—twenty, thirty, fifty roomsful—I don't know how many—the famous gallery of battles, depicting the whole military history of France from the days of King Clovis till the French Revolution. They run in historical order. The pictures begin with battles of early barbarians—men with long hair wielding huge battle-axes with their eyes blazing, while other barbarians prod at them with pikes or take a sweep at them with a two-handed club. After that there are rooms full of crusade pictures—crusaders fighting the Arabs, crusaders investing Jerusalem, crusaders raising the siege of Malta and others raising the siege of Rhodes; all very picturesque, with the blue Mediterranean, the yellow sand of the desert, prancing steeds in nickel-plated armour and knights plumed and caparisoned, or whatever it is, and wearing as many crosses as an ambulance emergency staff. All of these battles were apparently quite harmless, that is the strange thing about these battle pictures: the whole thing, as depicted for the royal eye, is wonderfully full of colour and picturesque, but, as far as one can see, quite harmless. Nobody seems to be getting hurt, wild-looking men are swinging maces round, but you can see that they won't hit anybody. A battle-axe is being brought down with terrific force, but somebody is thrusting up a steel shield just in time to meet it. There are no signs of blood or injury. Everybody seems to be getting along finely and to be having the most invigorating physical exercise. Here and here, perhaps, the artist depicts somebody jammed down under a beam or lying under the feet of a horse; but if you look close you see that the beam isn't really pressing on him, and that the horse is not really stepping on his stomach. In fact the man is perfectly comfortable, and is, at the moment, taking aim at somebody else with a two-string crossbow, which would have deadly effect if he wasn't ass enough to aim right at the middle of a cowhide shield.

You notice this quality more and more in the pictures as the history moves on. After the invention of gunpowder, when the combatants didn't have to be locked together, but could be separated by fields, and little groves and quaint farm-houses, the battle seems to get quite lost in the scenery. It spreads out into the landscape until it becomes one of the prettiest, quietest scenes that heart could wish. I know nothing so drowsily comfortable as the pictures in this gallery that show the battles of the seventeenth century,—the Grand Monarch's own particular epoch. This is a wide, rolling landscape with here and there little clusters of soldiers to add a touch of colour to the foliage of the woods; there are woolly little puffs of smoke rising in places to show that the artillery is at its dreamy work on a hill side; near the foreground is a small group of generals standing about a tree and gazing through glasses at the dim purple of the background. There are sheep and cattle grazing in all the unused parts of the battle, the whole thing has a touch of quiet, rural feeling that goes right to the heart. I have seen people from the ranching district of the Middle West stand before these pictures in tears.

It is strange to compare this sort of thing with some of the modern French pictures. There is realism enough and to spare in them. In the Salon exhibition a year or two ago, for instance, there was one that represented lions turned loose into an arena to eat up Christians. I can imagine exactly how a Louis Quatorze artist would have dealt with the subject,—an arena, prettily sanded, with here and there gooseberry bushes and wild gilly flowers (not too wild, of course), lions with flowing manes, in noble attitudes, about to roar,—tigers, finely developed, about to spring,—Christians just going to pray,—and through it all a genial open-air feeling very soothing to the royal senses. Not so the artist of to-day. The picture in the Salon is of blood. There are torn limbs gnawed by crouching beasts, as a dog holds and gnaws a bone; there are faces being torn, still quivering, from the writhing body,—in fact, perhaps after all there is something to be said for the way the Grand Monarch arranged his gallery.

The battle pictures and the Hall of Mirrors, and the fountains and so on, are, I say, the things best worth seeing at Versailles. Everybody says so. I really wish now that I had seen them. But I am free to confess that I am a poor sightseer at the best. As soon as I get actually in reach of a thing it somehow dwindles in importance. I had a friend once, now a distinguished judge in the United States, who suffered much in this way. He travelled a thousand miles to reach the World's Fair, but as soon as he had arrived at a comfortable hotel in Chicago, he was unable to find the energy to go out to the Fair grounds. He went once to visit Niagara Falls, but failed to see the actual water, partly because it no longer seemed necessary, partly because his room in the hotel looked the other way.

Personally I plead guilty to something of the same spirit. Just where you alight from the steam tramway at Versailles, you will find close on your right, a little open-air cafe, with tables under a trellis of green vines. It is as cool a retreat of mingled sun and shadow as I know. There is red wine at two francs and long imported cigars of as soft a flavour as even Louis the Fourteenth could have desired. The idea of leaving a grotto like that to go trapesing all over a hot stuffy palace with a lot of fool tourists, seemed ridiculous. But I bought there a little illustrated book called the Chateau de Versailles, which interested me so extremely that I decided that, on some reasonable opportunity, I would go and visit the place.



V.—Paris at Night

"WHAT Ah'd like to do," says the Fat Lady from Georgia, settling back comfortably in her seat after her five-dollar dinner at the Cafe American, while her husband is figuring whether ten francs is enough to give to the waiter, "is to go and see something real wicked. Ah tell him (the word 'him' is used in Georgia to mean husband) that while we're here Ah just want to see everything that's going."

"All right," says the Man from Kansas who "knows" Paris, "I'll get a guide right here, and he'll take us round and show us the sights."

"Can you get him heah?" asks the gentleman from Georgia, looking round at the glittering mirrors and gold cornices of the restaurant.

Can you get a guide? Well, now! Can you keep away from them? All day from the dewy hour of breakfast till late at night they meet you in the street and sidle up with the enquiry, "Guide, sir?"

Where the Parisian guide comes from and how he graduates for his job I do not know. He is not French and, as a rule, he doesn't know Paris. He knows his way to the Louvre and to two or three American bars and to the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre. But he doesn't need to know his way. For that he falls back on the taxi-driver. "Now, sir," says the guide briskly to the gentleman who has engaged his services, "where would you like to go?" "I should like to see Napoleon's tomb." "All right," says the guide, "get into the taxi." Then he turns to the driver. "Drive to Napoleon's tomb," he says. After they have looked at it the guide says, "What would you like to see next, sir?" "I am very anxious to see Victor Hugo's house, which I understand is now made open to the public." The guide turns to the taxi man. "Drive to Victor Hugo's house," he says.

After looking through the house the visitor says in a furtive way, "I was just wondering if I could get a drink anywhere in this part of the town?" "Certainly," says the guide. "Drive to an American bar."

Isn't that simple? Can you imagine any more agreeable way of earning five dollars in three hours than that? Of course, what the guide says to the taxi man is said in the French language, or in something resembling it, and the gentleman in the cab doesn't understand it. Otherwise, after six or seven days of driving round in this way he begins to wonder what the guide is for. But of course, the guide's life, when you come to think of it, is one full of difficulty and danger. Just suppose that, while he was away off somewhere in Victor Hugo's house or at Napoleon's grave, the taxi-driver were to be struck by lightning. How on earth would he get home? He might, perhaps, be up in the Eiffel Tower and the taxi man get a stroke of paralysis, and then he'd starve to death trying to find his way back. After all, the guide has to have the kind of pluck and hardihood that ought to be well rewarded. Why, in other countries, like Switzerland, they have to use dogs for it, and in France, when these plucky fellows throw themselves into it, surely one wouldn't grudge the nominal fee of five dollars for which they risk their lives.

But I am forgetting about the Lady from Georgia and her husband. Off they go in due course from the glittering doors of the restaurant in a huge taxi with a guide in a peaked hat. The party is all animation. The lady's face is aglow with moral enthusiasm. The gentleman and his friend have their coats buttoned tight to their chins for fear that thieves might leap over the side of the taxi and steal their neckties.

So they go buzzing along the lighted boulevard looking for "something real wicked." What they want is to see something really and truly wicked; they don't know just what, but "something bad." They've got the idea that Paris is one of the wickedest places on earth, and they want to see it.



Strangely enough, in their own home, the Lady from Georgia is one of the leaders of the Social Purity movement, and her husband, whose skin at this moment is stretched as tight as a football with French brandy and soda, is one of the finest speakers on the Georgia temperance platform, with a reputation that reaches from Chattanooga to Chickamauga. They have a son at Yale College whom they are trying to keep from smoking cigarettes. But here in Paris, so they reckon it, everything is different. It doesn't occur to them that perhaps it is wicked to pay out a hundred dollars in an evening hiring other people to be wicked.

So off they go and are whirled along in the brilliant glare of the boulevards and up the gloomy, narrow streets that lead to Montmartre. They visit the Moulin Rouge and the Bal Tabarin, and they see the Oriental Dances and the Cafe of Hell and the hundred and one other glittering fakes and false appearances that poor old meretricious Paris works overtime to prepare for such people as themselves. And the Lady from Georgia, having seen it all, thanks Heaven that she at least is pure—which is a beginning—and they go home more enthusiastic than ever in the Social Purity movement.

But the fact is that if you have about twenty-five thousand new visitors pouring into a great city every week with their pockets full of money and clamoring for "something wicked," you've got to do the best you can for them.

Hence it results that Paris—in appearance, anyway—is a mighty gay place at night. The sidewalks are crowded with the little tables of the coffee and liqueur drinkers. The music of a hundred orchestras bursts forth from the lighted windows. The air is soft with the fragrance of a June evening, tempered by the curling smoke of fifty thousand cigars. Through the noise and chatter of the crowd there sounds unending the wail of the motor horn.

The hours of Parisian gaiety are late. Ordinary dinner is eaten at about seven o'clock, but fashionable dinners begin at eight or eight thirty. Theatres open at a quarter to nine and really begin at nine o'clock. Special features and acts,—famous singers and vaudeville artists—are brought on at eleven o'clock so that dinner-party people may arrive in time to see them. The theatres come out at midnight. After that there are the night suppers which flourish till two or half past. But if you wish, you can go between the theater and supper to some such side-long place as the Moulin Rouge or the Bal Tabarin, which reach the height of their supposed merriment at about one in the morning.

At about two or two thirty the motors come whirling home, squawking louder than ever, with a speed limit of fifty miles an hour. Only the best of them can run faster than that. Quiet, conservative people in Paris like to get to bed at three o'clock; after all, what is the use of keeping late hours and ruining one's health and complexion? If you make it a strict rule to be in bed by three, you feel all the better for it in the long run—health better, nerves steadier, eyes clearer—and you're able to get up early—at half-past eleven—and feel fine.

Those who won't or don't go to bed at three wander about the town, eat a second supper in an all-night restaurant, circulate round with guides, and visit the slums of the Market, where gaunt-eyed wretches sleep in crowded alleys in the mephitic air of a summer night, and where the idle rich may feed their luxurious curiosity on the sufferings of the idle poor.

The dinners, the theaters, the boulevards, and the rest of it are all fun enough, at any rate for one visit in a lifetime. The "real wicked" part of it is practically fake—served up for the curious foreigner with money to throw away. The Moulin Rouge whirls the wide sails of its huge sign, crimson with electric bulbs, amid the false glaze of the Place Blanche. Inside of it there is more red—the full red of bad claret and the bright red of congested faces and painted cheeks. Part of the place is a theater with a vaudeville show much like any other. Another part is a vast "promenoir" where you may walk up and down or sit at a little table and drink bad brandy at one franc and a half. In a fenced off part are the Oriental Dances, a familiar feature of every Parisian Show. These dances—at twenty cents a turn—are supposed to represent all the languishing allurement of the Oriental houri—I think that is the word. The dancers in Paris—it is only fair to state—have never been nearer to the Orient than the Faubourg St. Antoine, where they were brought up and where they learned all the Orientalism that they know. Their "dance" is performed with their feet continuously on the ground—never lifted, I mean—and is done by gyrations of the stomach, beside which the paroxysms of an overdose of Paris green are child's play. In seeing these dances one realizes all the horrors of life in the East.

Not everyone, however, can be an Oriental dancer in a French pleasure show. To qualify you must be as scrawny as a Parisian cab-horse, and it appears as if few debutantes could break into the profession under the age of forty. The dances go on at intervals till two in the morning, after which the Oriental houri crawls to her home at the same time as the Parisian cab-horse—her companion in arms.

Under the Moulin Rouge, and in all similar places, is a huge dance hall: It has a "Hungarian Orchestra"—a fact which is proved by the red and green jackets, the tyrolese caps, and by the printed sign which says, "This is a Hungarian Orchestra." I knew that they were Hungarians the night I saw them, because I distinctly heard one of them say, "what t'ell do we play next boys?" The reference to William Tell was obvious. After every four tunes the Orchestra are given a tall stein of beer, and they all stand up and drink it, shouting "Hoch!" or "Ha!" or "Hoo!" or something of the sort. This is supposed to give a high touch of local colour. Everybody knows how Hungarians always shout out loud when they see a glass of beer. I've noticed it again and again in sugar refineries.

The Hungarians have to drink the beer whether they like it or not—it's part of their contract. I noticed one poor fellow who was playing the long bassoon, and who was doing a double night-shift overtime. He'd had twenty-four pints of beer already, and there were still two hours before closing time. You could tell what he was feeling like by the sobbing of his instrument. But he stood up every now and then and yelled "Hoch!" or "Hiccough!"—or whatever it was—along with the others.

On the big floor in front of the Hungarians the dance goes on. Most of the time the dances are endless waltzes and polkas shared in by the nondescript frequenters of the place, while the tourist visitors sit behind a railing and watch. To look at, the dancing is about as interesting, nothing more or less, than the round dances at a Canadian picnic on the first of July.

Every now and then, to liven things up, comes the can-can. In theory this is a wild dance, breaking out from sheer ebullience of spirit, and shared in by a bevy of merry girls carried away by gaiety and joy of living. In reality the can-can is performed by eight or ten old nags,—ex-Oriental dancers, I should think,—at eighty cents a night. But they are deserving women, and work hard—like all the rest of the brigade in the factory of Parisian gaiety.

After the Moulin Rouge or the Bal Tabarin or such, comes, of course, a visit to one of the night cafes of the Montmartre district. Their names in themselves are supposed to indicate their weird and alluring character—the Cafe of Heaven, the Cafe of Nothingness, and,—how dreadful—the Cafe of Hell. "Montmartre," says one of the latest English writers on Paris, "is the scene of all that is wild, mad, and extravagant. Nothing is too grotesque, too terrible, too eccentric for the Montmartre mind." Fiddlesticks! What he means is that nothing is too damn silly for people to pay to go to see.

Take, for example, the notorious Cafe of Hell. The portals are low and gloomy. You enter in the dark. A pass-word is given—"Stranger, who cometh here?"—"More food for worms." You sit and eat among coffins and shrouds. There are muffled figures shuffling around to represent monks in cowls, saints, demons, and apostles. The "Angel Gabriel" watches at the door. "Father Time" moves among the eaters. The waiters are dressed as undertakers. There are skulls and cross-bones in the walls. The light is that of dim tapers. And so on.

And yet I suppose some of the foreign visitors to the Cafe of Hell think that this is a truly French home scene, and discuss the queer characteristics of the French people suggested by it.

I got to know a family in Paris that worked in one of these Montmartre night cafes—quiet, decent people they were, with a little home of their own in the suburbs. The father worked as Beelzebub mostly, but he could double with St. Anthony and do a very fair St. Luke when it was called for. The mother worked as Mary Magdalene, but had grown so stout that it was hard for her to hold it. There were two boys, one of whom was working as John the Baptist, but had been promised to be promoted to Judas Iscariot in the fall; they were good people, and worked well, but were tired of their present place. Like everyone else they had heard of Canada and thought of coming out. They were very anxious to know what openings there were in their line; whether there would be any call for a Judas Iscariot in a Canadian restaurant, or whether a man would have any chance as St. Anthony in the West.

I told them frankly that these jobs were pretty well filled up.

Listen! It is striking three. The motors are whirling down the asphalt street. The brilliant lights of the boulevard windows are fading out. Here, as in the silent woods of Canada, night comes at last. The restless city of pleasure settles to its short sleep.



THE RETROACTIVE EXISTENCE OF MR. JUGGINS



The Retroactive Existence of Mr. Juggins

I FIRST met Juggins,—really to notice him,—years and years ago as a boy out camping. Somebody was trying to nail up a board on a tree for a shelf and Juggins interfered to help him.

"Stop a minute," he said, "you need to saw the end of that board off before you put it up." Then Juggins looked round for a saw, and when he got it he had hardly made more than a stroke or two with it before he stopped. "This saw," he said, "needs to be filed up a bit." So he went and hunted up a file to sharpen the saw, but found that before he could use the file he needed to put a proper handle on it, and to make a handle he went to look for a sapling in the bush, but to cut the sapling he found that he needed to sharpen up the axe. To do this, of course, he had to fix the grindstone so as to make it run properly. This involved making wooden legs for the grindstone. To do this decently Juggins decided to make a carpenter's bench. This was quite impossible without a better set of tools. Juggins went to the village to get the tools required, and, of course, he never came back.

He was re-discovered—weeks later—in the city, getting prices on wholesale tool machinery.

After that first episode I got to know Juggins very well. For some time we were students at college together. But Juggins somehow never got far with his studies. He always began with great enthusiasm and then something happened. For a time he studied French with tremendous eagerness. But he soon found that for a real knowledge of French you need first to get a thorough grasp of Old French and Provencal. But it proved impossible to do anything with these without an absolutely complete command of Latin. This Juggins discovered could only be obtained, in any thorough way, through Sanskrit, which of course lies at the base of it. So Juggins devoted himself to Sanskrit until he realised that for a proper understanding of Sanskrit one needs to study the ancient Iranian, the root-language underneath. This language however is lost.

So Juggins had to begin over again. He did, it is true, make some progress in natural science. He studied physics and rushed rapidly backwards from forces to molecules, and from molecules to atoms, and from atoms to electrons, and then his whole studies exploded backward into the infinities of space, still searching a first cause.

Juggins, of course, never took a degree, so he made no practical use of his education. But it didn't matter. He was very well off and was able to go straight into business with a capital of about a hundred thousand dollars. He put it at first into a gas plant, but found that he lost money at that because of the high price of the coal needed to make gas. So he sold out for ninety thousand dollars and went into coal mining. This was unsuccessful because of the awful cost of mining machinery. So Juggins sold his share in the mine for eighty thousand dollars and went in for manufacturing mining machinery. At this he would have undoubtedly made money but for the enormous cost of gas needed as motive-power for the plant. Juggins sold out of the manufacture for seventy thousand, and after that he went whirling in a circle, like skating backwards, through the different branches of allied industry.

He lost a certain amount of money each year, especially in good years when trade was brisk. In dull times when everything was unsalable he did fairly well.

Juggins' domestic life was very quiet.

Of course he never married. He did, it is true, fall in love several times; but each time it ended without result. I remember well his first love story for I was very intimate with him at the time. He had fallen in love with the girl in question utterly and immediately. It was literally love at first sight. There was no doubt of his intentions. As soon as he had met her he was quite frank about it. "I intend," he said, "to ask her to be my wife."

"When?" I asked; "right away?"

"No," he said, "I want first to fit myself to be worthy of her."

So he went into moral training to fit himself. He taught in a Sunday school for six weeks, till he realised that a man has no business in Divine work of that sort without first preparing himself by serious study of the history of Palestine. And he felt that a man was a cad to force his society on a girl while he is still only half acquainted with the history of the Israelites. So Juggins stayed away. It was nearly two years before he was fit to propose. By the time he was fit, the girl had already married a brainless thing in patent leather boots who didn't even know who Moses was.

Of course Juggins fell in love again. People always do. And at any rate by this time he was in a state of moral fitness that made it imperative.

So he fell in love—deeply in love this time—with a charming girl, commonly known as the eldest Miss Thorneycroft. She was only called eldest because she had five younger sisters; and she was very poor and awfully clever and trimmed all her own hats. Any man, if he's worth the name, falls in love with that sort of thing at first sight. So, of course, Juggins would have proposed to her; only when he went to the house he met her next sister: and of course she was younger still; and, I suppose, poorer: and made not only her own hats but her own blouses. So Juggins fell in love with her. But one night when he went to call, the door was opened by the sister younger still, who not only made her own blouses and trimmed her own hats, but even made her own tailor-made suits. After that Juggins backed up from sister to sister till he went through the whole family, and in the end got none of them.

Perhaps it was just as well that Juggins never married. It would have made things very difficult because, of course, he got poorer all the time. You see after he sold out his last share in his last business he bought with it a diminishing life annuity, so planned that he always got rather less next year than this year, and still less the year after. Thus, if he lived long enough, he would starve to death.

Meantime he has become a quaint-looking elderly man, with coats a little too short and trousers a little above his boots—like a boy. His face too is like that of a boy, with wrinkles.

And his talk now has grown to be always reminiscent. He is perpetually telling long stories of amusing times that he has had with different people that he names.

He says for example—

"I remember a rather queer thing that happened to me in a train one day——"

And if you say—"When was that Juggins?"—he looks at you in a vague way as if calculating and says,—"in 1875, or 1876, I think, as near as I recall it—"

I notice, too, that his reminiscences are going further and further back. He used to base his stories on his recollections as a young man, now they are further back.

The other day he told me a story about himself and two people that he called the Harper brothers,—Ned and Joe. Ned, he said was a tremendously powerful fellow.

I asked how old Ned was and Juggins said that he was three. He added that there was another brother not so old, but a very clever fellow about,—here Juggins paused and calculated—about eighteen months.

So then I realised where Juggins retroactive existence is carrying him to. He has passed back through childhood into infancy, and presently, just as his annuity runs to a point and vanishes, he will back up clear through the Curtain of Existence and die,—or be born, I don't know which to call it.

Meantime he remains to me as one of the most illuminating allegories I have met.



MAKING A MAGAZINE

(The Dream of a Contributor)



Making a Magazine

I DREAMT one night not long ago that I was the editor of a great illustrated magazine. I offer no apology for this: I have often dreamt even worse of myself than that.

In any case I didn't do it on purpose: very often, I admit, I try to dream that I am President Wilson, or Mr. Bryan, or the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, or a share of stock in the Standard Oil Co. for the sheer luxury and cheapness of it. But this was an accident. I had been sitting up late at night writing personal reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln. I was writing against time. The presidential election was drawing nearer every day and the market for reminiscences of Lincoln was extremely brisk, but, of course, might collapse any moment. Writers of my class have to consider this sort of thing. For instance, in the middle of Lent, I find that I can do fairly well with "Recent Lights on the Scriptures." Then, of course, when the hot weather comes, the market for Christmas poetry opens and there's a fairly good demand for voyages in the Polar Seas. Later on, in the quiet of the autumn I generally write some "Unpublished Letters from Goethe to Balzac," and that sort of thing.

But it's a wearing occupation, full of disappointments, and needing the very keenest business instinct to watch every turn of the market.

I am afraid that this is a digression. I only wanted to explain how a man's mind could be so harassed and overwrought as to make him dream that he was an editor.

I knew at once in my dream where and what I was. As soon as I saw the luxury of the surroundings,—the spacious room with its vaulted ceiling, lit with stained glass,—the beautiful mahogany table at which I sat writing with a ten-dollar fountain pen, the gift of the manufacturers,—on embossed stationery, the gift of the embossers,—on which I was setting down words at eight and a half cents a word and deliberately picking out short ones through sheer business acuteness;—as soon as I saw;—this I said to myself—

"I am an editor, and this is my editorial sanctum." Not that I have ever seen an editor or a sanctum. But I have sent so many manuscripts to so many editors and received them back with such unfailing promptness, that the scene before me was as familiar to my eye as if I had been wide awake.

As I thus mused, revelling in the charm of my surroundings and admiring the luxurious black alpaca coat and the dainty dickie which I wore, there was a knock at the door.

A beautiful creature entered. She evidently belonged to the premises, for she wore no hat and there were white cuffs upon her wrists. She has that indescribable beauty of effectiveness such as is given to hospital nurses.

This, I thought to myself, must be my private secretary.

"I hope I don't interrupt you, sir," said the girl.

"My dear child," I answered, speaking in that fatherly way in which an editor might well address a girl almost young enough to be his wife, "pray do not mention it. Sit down. You must be fatigued after your labours of the morning. Let me ring for a club sandwich."

"I came to say, sir," the secretary went on, "that there's a person downstairs waiting to see you."

My manner changed at once.

"Is he a gentleman or a contributor?" I asked.

"He doesn't look exactly like a gentleman."

"Very good," I said. "He's a contributor for sure. Tell him to wait. Ask the caretaker to lock him in the coal cellar, and kindly slip out and see if there's a policeman on the beat in case I need him."

"Very good, sir," said the secretary.

I waited for about an hour, wrote a few editorials advocating the rights of the people, smoked some Turkish cigarettes, drank a glass of sherry, and ate part of an anchovy sandwich.

Then I rang the bell. "Bring that man here," I said.

Presently they brought him in. He was a timid-looking man with an embarrassed manner and all the low cunning of an author stamped on his features. I could see a bundle of papers in his hand, and I knew that the scoundrel was carrying a manuscript.

"Now, sir," I said, "speak quickly. What's your business?"

"I've got here a manuscript," he began.

"What!" I shouted at him. "A manuscript! You'd dare, would you! Bringing manuscripts in here! What sort of a place do you think this is?"

"It's the manuscript of a story," he faltered.

"A story!" I shrieked. "What on earth do you think we'd want stories for! Do you think we've nothing better to do than to print your idiotic ravings? Have you any idea, you idiot, of the expense we're put to in setting up our fifty pages of illustrated advertising? Look here," I continued, seizing a bundle of proof illustrations that lay in front of me, "do you see this charming picture of an Asbestos Cooker, guaranteed fireless, odourless, and purposeless? Do you see this patent motor-car with pneumatic cushions, and the full-page description of its properties? Can you form any idea of the time and thought that we have to spend on these things, and yet you dare to come in here with your miserable stories. By heaven," I said, rising in my seat, "I've a notion to come over there and choke you: I'm entitled to do it by the law, and I think I will."

"Don't, don't," he pleaded. "I'll go away. I meant no harm. I'll take it with me."

"No you don't," I interrupted; "none of your sharp tricks with this magazine. You've submitted this manuscript to me, and it stays submitted. If I don't like it, I shall prosecute you, and, I trust, obtain full reparation from the courts."



To tell the truth, it had occurred to me that perhaps I might need after all to buy the miserable stuff. Even while I felt that my indignation at the low knavery of the fellow was justified, I knew that it might be necessary to control it. The present low state of public taste demands a certain amount of this kind of matter distributed among the advertising.

I rang the bell again.

"Please take this man away and shut him up again. Have them keep a good eye on him. He's an author."

"Very good, sir," said the secretary.

I called her back for one moment.

"Don't feed him anything," I said.

"No," said the girl.

The manuscript lay before me on the table. It looked bulky. It bore the title Dorothy Dacres, or, Only a Clergyman's Daughter.

I rang the bell again.

"Kindly ask the janitor to step this way."

He came in. I could see from the straight, honest look in his features that he was a man to be relied upon.

"Jones," I said, "can you read?"

"Yes, sir," he said, "some."

"Very good. I want you to take this manuscript and read it. Read it all through and then bring it back here."

The janitor took the manuscript and disappeared. I turned to my desk again and was soon absorbed in arranging a full-page display of plumbers' furnishings for the advertising. It had occurred to me that by arranging the picture matter in a neat device with verses from "Home Sweet Home" running through it in double-leaded old English type, I could set up a page that would be the delight of all business readers and make this number of the magazine a conspicuous success. My mind was so absorbed that I scarcely noticed that over an hour elapsed before the janitor returned.

"Well, Jones," I said as he entered, "have you read that manuscript?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you find it all right—punctuation good, spelling all correct?"

"Very good indeed, sir."

"And there is, I trust, nothing of what one would call a humorous nature in it? I want you to answer me quite frankly, Jones,—there is nothing in it that would raise a smile, or even a laugh, is there?"

"Oh, no, sir," said Jones, "nothing at all."

"And now tell me—for remember that the reputation of our magazine is at stake—does this story make a decided impression on you? Has it," and here I cast my eye casually at the latest announcement of a rival publication, "the kind of tour de force which at once excites you to the full qui vive and which contains a sustained brio that palpitates on every page? Answer carefully, Jones, because if it hasn't, I won't buy it."

"I think it has," he said.

"Very well," I answered; "now bring the author to me."

In the interval of waiting, I hastily ran my eye through the pages of the manuscript.

Presently they brought the author back again. He had assumed a look of depression.

"I have decided," I said, "to take your manuscript."

Joy broke upon his face. He came nearer to me as if to lick my hand.

"Stop a minute," I said. "I am willing to take your story, but there are certain things, certain small details which I want to change."

"Yes?" he said timidly.

"In the first place, I don't like your title. Dorothy Dacres, or, Only a Clergyman's Daughter is too quiet. I shall change it to read Dorothea Dashaway, or, The Quicksands of Society."

"But surely," began the contributor, beginning to wring his hands——

"Don't interrupt me," I said. "In the next place, the story is much too long." Here I reached for a large pair of tailor's scissors that lay on the table. "This story contains nine thousand words. We never care to use more than six thousand. I must therefore cut some of it off." I measured the story carefully with a pocket tape that lay in front of me, cut off three thousand words and handed them back to the author. "These words," I said, "you may keep. We make no claim on them at all. You are at liberty to make any use of them that you like."

"But please," he said, "you have cut off all the end of the story: the whole conclusion is gone. The readers can't possibly tell,——"

I smiled at him with something approaching kindness.

"My dear sir," I said, "they never get beyond three thousand words of the end of a magazine story. The end is of no consequence whatever. The beginning, I admit, may be, but the end! Come! Come! And in any case in our magazine we print the end of each story separately, distributed among the advertisements to break the type. But just at present we have plenty of these on hand. You see," I continued, for there was something in the man's manner that almost touched me, "all that is needed is that the last words printed must have a look of finality. That's all. Now, let me see," and I turned to the place where the story was cut, "what are the last words: here: 'Dorothea sank into a chair. There we must leave her!' Excellent! What better end could you want? She sank into a chair and you leave her. Nothing more natural."

The contributor seemed about to protest. But I stopped him.

"There is one other small thing," I said. "Our coming number is to be a Plumbers' and Motor Number. I must ask you to introduce a certain amount of plumbing into your story." I rapidly turned over the pages. "I see," I said, "that your story as written is laid largely in Spain in the summer. I shall ask you to alter this to Switzerland and make it winter time to allow for the breaking of steam-pipes. Such things as these, however, are mere details; we can easily arrange them."

I reached out my hand.

"And now," I said, "I must wish you a good afternoon."

The contributor seemed to pluck up courage.

"What about remuneration"—he faltered.

I waived the question gravely aside. "You will, of course, be duly paid at our usual rate. You receive a cheque two years after publication. It will cover all your necessary expenses, including ink, paper, string, sealing-wax and other incidentals, in addition to which we hope to be able to make you a compensation for your time on a reasonable basis per hour. Good-bye."

He left, and I could hear them throwing him downstairs.

Then I sat down, while my mind was on it, and wrote the advance notice of the story. It ran like this:

NEXT MONTH'S NUMBER OF THE MEGALOMANIA MAGAZINE WILL CONTAIN A THRILLING STORY, ENTITLED

"DOROTHEA DASHAWAY, OR, THE QUICKSANDS OF SOCIETY."

The author has lately leaped into immediate recognition as the greatest master of the short story in the American World. His style has a brio, a poise, a savoir faire, a je ne sais quoi, which stamps all his work with the cachet of literary superiority. The sum paid for the story of Dorothea Dashaway is said to be the largest ever paid for a single MS. Every page palpitates with interest, and at the conclusion of this remarkable narrative the reader lays down the page in utter bewilderment, to turn perhaps to the almost equally marvellous illustration of Messrs. Spiggott and Fawcett's Home Plumbing Device Exposition which adorns the same number of the great review.

I wrote this out, rang the bell, and was just beginning to say to the secretary—

"My dear child,—pray pardon my forgetfulness. You must be famished for lunch. Will you permit me——"

And then I woke up—at the wrong minute, as one always does.



HOMER AND HUMBUG

AN ACADEMIC DISCUSSION



Homer and Humbug, an Academic Discussion

THE following discussion is of course only of interest to scholars. But, as the public schools returns show that in the United States there are now over a million coloured scholars alone, the appeal is wide enough.

I do not mind confessing that for a long time past I have been very sceptical about the classics. I was myself trained as a classical scholar. It seemed the only thing to do with me. I acquired such a singular facility in handling Latin and Greek that I could take a page of either of them, distinguish which it was by merely glancing at it, and, with the help of a dictionary and a pair of compasses, whip off a translation of it in less than three hours.

But I never got any pleasure from it. I lied about it. At first, perhaps, I lied through vanity. Any coloured scholar will understand the feeling. Later on I lied through habit; later still because, after all, the classics were all that I had and so I valued them. I have seen thus a deceived dog value a pup with a broken leg, and a pauper child nurse a dead doll with the sawdust out of it. So I nursed my dead Homer and my broken Demosthenes though I knew in my heart that there was more sawdust in the stomach of one modern author than in the whole lot of them. Observe, I am not saying which it is that has it full of it.

So, as I say, I began to lie about the classics. I said to people who knew no Greek that there was a sublimity, a majesty about Homer which they could never hope to grasp. I said it was like the sound of the sea beating against the granite cliffs of the Ionian Esophagus: or words to that effect. As for the truth of it, I might as well have said that it was like the sound of a rum distillery running a night shift on half time. At any rate this is what I said about Homer, and when I spoke of Pindar,—the dainty grace of his strophes,—and Aristophanes, the delicious sallies of his wit, sally after sally, each sally explained in a note calling it a sally—I managed to suffuse my face with an animation which made it almost beautiful.

I admitted of course that Virgil in spite of his genius had a hardness and a cold glitter which resembled rather the brilliance of a cut diamond than the soft grace of a flower. Certainly I admitted this: the mere admission of it would knock the breath out of anyone who was arguing.

From such talks my friends went away sad. The conclusion was too cruel. It had all the cold logic of a syllogism (like that almost brutal form of argument so much admired in the Paraphernalia of Socrates). For if:—

Virgil and Homer and Pindar had all this grace, and pith and these sallies,— And if I read Virgil and Homer and Pindar, And if they only read Mrs. Wharton and Mrs. Humphrey Ward Then where were they?

So continued lying brought its own reward in the sense of superiority and I lied more.

When I reflect that I have openly expressed regret, as a personal matter, even in the presence of women, for the missing books of Tacitus, and the entire loss of the Abacadabra of Polyphemus of Syracuse, I can find no words in which to beg for pardon. In reality I was just as much worried over the loss of the ichthyosaurus. More, indeed: I'd like to have seen it: but if the books Tacitus lost were like those he didn't, I wouldn't.

I believe all scholars lie like this. An ancient friend of mine, a clergyman, tells me that in Hesiod he finds a peculiar grace that he doesn't find elsewhere. He's a liar. That's all. Another man, in politics and in the legislature, tells me that every night before going to bed he reads over a page or two of Thucydides to keep his mind fresh. Either he never goes to bed or he's a liar. Doubly so: no one could read Greek at that frantic rate: and anyway his mind isn't fresh. How could it be, he's in the legislature. I don't object to this man talking freely of the classics, but he ought to keep it for the voters. My own opinion is that before he goes to bed he takes whiskey: why call it Thucydides?

I know there are solid arguments advanced in favour of the classics. I often hear them from my colleagues. My friend the professor of Greek tells me that he truly believes the classics have made him what he is. This is a very grave statement, if well founded. Indeed I have heard the same argument from a great many Latin and Greek scholars. They all claim, with some heat, that Latin and Greek have practically made them what they are. This damaging charge against the classics should not be too readily accepted. In my opinion some of these men would have been what they are, no matter what they were.

Be this as it may, I for my part bitterly regret the lies I have told about my appreciation of Latin and Greek literature. I am anxious to do what I can to set things right. I am therefore engaged on, indeed have nearly completed, a work which will enable all readers to judge the matter for themselves. What I have done is a translation of all the great classics, not in the usual literal way but on a design that brings them into harmony with modern life. I will explain what I mean in a minute.

The translation is intended to be within reach of everybody. It is so designed that the entire set of volumes can go on a shelf twenty-seven feet long, or even longer. The first edition will be an edition de luxe bound in vellum, or perhaps in buckskin, and sold at five hundred dollars. It will be limited to five hundred copies and, of course, sold only to the feeble minded. The next edition will be the Literary Edition, sold to artists, authors, actors and contractors. After that will come the Boarding House Edition, bound in board and paid for in the same way.

My plan is to so transpose the classical writers as to give, not the literal translation word for word, but what is really the modern equivalent. Let me give an odd sample or two to show what I mean. Take the passage in the First Book of Homer that describes Ajax the Greek dashing into the battle in front of Troy. Here is the way it runs (as nearly as I remember), in the usual word for word translation of the classroom, as done by the very best professor, his spectacles glittering with the literary rapture of it.

"Then he too Ajax on the one hand leaped (or possibly jumped) into the fight wearing on the other hand, yes certainly a steel corselet (or possibly a bronze under tunic) and on his head of course, yes without doubt he had a helmet with a tossing plume taken from the mane (or perhaps extracted from the tail) of some horse which once fed along the banks of the Scamander (and it sees the herd and raises its head and paws the ground) and in his hand a shield worth a hundred oxen and on his knees too especially in particular greaves made by some cunning artificer (or perhaps blacksmith) and he blows the fire and it is hot. Thus Ajax leapt (or, better, was propelled from behind), into the fight."

Now that's grand stuff. There is no doubt of it. There's a wonderful movement and force to it. You can almost see it move, it goes so fast. But the modern reader can't get it. It won't mean to him what it meant to the early Greek. The setting, the costume, the scene has all got to be changed in order to let the reader have a real equivalent to judge just how good the Greek verse is. In my translation I alter it just a little, not much but just enough to give the passage a form that reproduces the proper literary value of the verses, without losing anything of the majesty. It describes, I may say, the Directors of the American Industrial Stocks rushing into the Balkan War Cloud.—

Then there came rushing to the shock of war Mr. McNicoll of the C. P. R. He wore suspenders and about his throat High rose the collar of a sealskin coat. He had on gaiters and he wore a tie, He had his trousers buttoned good and high; About his waist a woollen undervest Bought from a sad-eyed farmer of the West. (And every time he clips a sheep he sees Some bloated plutocrat who ought to freeze), Thus in the Stock Exchange he burst to view, Leaped to the post, and shouted, "Ninety-two!"

There! That's Homer, the real thing! Just as it sounded to the rude crowd of Greek peasants who sat in a ring and guffawed at the rhymes and watched the minstrel stamp it out into "feet" as he recited it!

Or let me take another example from the so-called Catalogue of the Ships that fills up nearly an entire book of Homer. This famous passage names all the ships, one by one, and names the chiefs who sailed on them, and names the particular town or hill or valley that they came from. It has been much admired. It has that same majesty of style that has been brought to an even loftier pitch in the New York Business Directory and the City Telephone Book. It runs along, as I recall it, something like this,—

"And first, indeed, oh yes, was the ship of Homistogetes the Spartan, long and swift, having both its masts covered with cowhide and two rows of oars. And he, Homistogetes, was born of Hermogenes and Ophthalmia and was at home in Syncope beside the fast flowing Paresis. And after him came the ship of Preposterus the Eurasian, son of Oasis and Hyteria," . . . and so on endlessly.

Instead of this I substitute, with the permission of the New York Central Railway, the official catalogue of their locomotives taken almost word for word from the list compiled by their superintendent of works. I admit that he wrote in hot weather. Part of it runs:—

Out in the yard and steaming in the sun Stands locomotive engine number forty-one; Seated beside the windows of the cab Are Pat McGaw and Peter James McNab. Pat comes from Troy and Peter from Cohoes, And when they pull the throttle off she goes; And as she vanishes there comes to view Steam locomotive engine number forty-two. Observe her mighty wheels, her easy roll, With William J. Macarthy in control. They say her engineer some time ago Lived on a farm outside of Buffalo Whereas his fireman, Henry Edward Foy, Attended School in Springfield, Illinois. Thus does the race of man decay or rot— Some men can hold their jobs and some can not.

Please observe that if Homer had actually written that last line it would have been quoted for a thousand years as one of the deepest sayings ever said. Orators would have rounded out their speeches with the majestic phrase, quoted in sonorous and unintelligible Greek verse, "some men can hold their jobs and some can not": essayists would have begun their most scholarly dissertations with the words,—"It has been finely said by Homer that (in Greek) 'some men can hold their jobs'": and the clergy in mid-pathos of a funeral sermon would have raised their eyes aloft and echoed "Some men can not"!

This is what I should like to do. I'd like to take a large stone and write on it in very plain writing,—

"The classics are only primitive literature. They belong in the same class as primitive machinery and primitive music and primitive medicine,"—and then throw it through the windows of a University and hide behind a fence to see the professors buzz!!



* * * * *



Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors corrected.

Page 136, "cusine" changed to "cuisine" (the royal cuisine)

Page 185, "follwing" changed to "following" (following discussion is)

THE END

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