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Title: The Little Review, April 1915 (Vol. 2, No. 2)

Editor: Margaret C. Anderson

Release date: August 13, 2021 [eBook #66054]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Margaret C. Anderson

Credits: Jens Sadowski and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at This book was produced from images made available by the Modernist Journal Project, Brown and Tulsa Universities.


The Little Review

Literature Drama Music Art


APRIL, 1915

Etchings (Not to Be Read Aloud) William Saphier
Mr. Comstock and the Resourceful Police Margaret C. Anderson
Wild Songs Skipwith Cannéll
The Poetry of Paul Fort Richard Aldington
The Subman Alexander S. Kaun
Hunger George Franklin
Poems David O’Neil
Musik or Music? James Whittaker
The Critics’ Catastrophe Herman Schuchert
A Shorn Strindberg Marguerite Swawite
Vers Libre and Advertisements John Gould Fletcher
Extreme Unction Mary Aldis
The Schoolmaster George Burman Foster
My Friend, the Incurable Ibn Gabirol
Gabrilowitsch and the New Standard M. C. A.
Bauer and Casals Herman Schuchert
Book Discussion  
John Cowper Powys on Henry James  
The Reader Critic  

Published Monthly

Entered as second-class matter at Postoffice, Chicago

The Little Review

Vol. II

APRIL, 1915

No. 2

Copyright, 1915, by Margaret C. Anderson

Etchings Not to Be Read Aloud

William Saphier


Weak sparkling assertions

In an opal, opaque atmosphere

Sharp suffering and

Kindly whispering eyes

In a wan, olive grey face.

You mean all to a few

And nothing to the rest.


A rosy, I-dare-you nose

On a twisted steel-trellice face,

Just some knotty lumber

Without a hint of flower or fruit.

You tingled many a passion,

But never a single soul.

Mr. Comstock and the Resourceful Police

Margaret C. Anderson

I want to write about so many things this time that I don’t know where to begin. At first I had planned to do five or six pages on the crime of musical criticism in this country—particularly as focused in the critics’ antics with Scriabin’s beautiful Prometheus recently played by the Chicago Symphony. Truly that was an opportunity for the American music critic! He could be as righteously bourgeois as he wished and his readers would credit him with “sanity” and a clear vision; or he could be as ignorantly facetious as he wished and increase his reputation for wit. It didn’t occur to him that there might be something wrong with his imagination rather than with Scriabin’s art. How exciting it would be to find a music critic whose auditory nerves were as sensitive as his visual or gustatory nerves! Surely it’s not asking too much of people engaged in the business of sound that they be able not only to listen but to hear. Well ... there were many other matters I wanted to write of: For instance, the absurdity of our music schools; the pest of writers who begin their sentences “But, however,”; the so-far unnoticed strength of Sanin; the fault with George Middleton’s Criminals; the antics of the Drama League; the stunning things in The Egoist; exaggeration as a possible basis of art; the supremacy of Form; the undefinable standard of those of us who hate standardizations, etc., etc. But for the moment I have found something more important to talk about: Mr. Anthony Comstock.

Of course there is nothing new to say about him—and nothing awful enough. The best thing I’ve heard lately is this: “Anthony Comstock not only doesn’t know anything, but he doesn’t suspect anything.” Francis Hackett can write about Billy Sunday and resist the temptation of invective. Perhaps he’s too much an artist to feel the temptation. I wonder if he could do the same about Anthony Comstock. Certainly I can’t. Even the thought of Billy Sunday’s mammoth sentimentalizations and the 35,135 people who, according to the last reports, had been soothed thereby, fills me with shudders of hopelessness for the eventual education of men. And the thought of Anthony Comstock is ten times more horrible. His latest outrage is well-known by this time—his arrest of William Sanger for giving to a Comstock detective a copy of Mrs. Sanger’s pamphlet, Family Limitation. The charge was “circulating obscene literature.” I have seen that pamphlet, read it carefully, and given it to all the people I know well enough to be sure they are not Comstock detectives. There is not an obscene word in it, naturally. Margaret Sanger couldn’t be obscene—she’s a gentle, serious, well-informed woman writing in a way that any high-minded physician might. I have also seen her pamphlet called English Methods of Birth Control, which practically duplicates the leaflet (Hygienic Methods of Family Limitation) adopted by the Malthusian League of England and is sent “to all persons married or about to be married, who apply for it, in all countries of the world, except to applicants from the United States of America, where the Postal Laws will not allow of its delivery.” These pamphlets tell in simple language all the known methods for the prevention of conception—methods practised everywhere by the educated and the rich and unknown only to the poor and the ignorant who need such knowledge most. Mrs. Sanger says in her preface: “Today, in nearly all countries of the world, most educated people practise some method of limiting their offspring. Educated people are usually able to discuss at leisure the question of contraceptives with the professional men and women of their class, and benefit by the knowledge which science has advanced. The information which this class obtains is usually clean and harmless. In these same countries, however, there is a larger number of people who are kept in ignorance of this knowledge: it is said by physicians who work among these people that as soon as a woman rises out of the lowest stages of ignorance and poverty, her first step is to seek information of some practical means to limit her family. Everywhere the woman of this class seeks for knowledge on this subject. Seldom can she find it, because the medical profession refuses to give it, and because she comes in daily contact with those only who are as ignorant as herself of the subject. The consequence is, she must accept the stray bits of information given by neighbors, relatives, and friends, gathered from sources wholly unreliable and uninformed. She is forced to try everything and take anything, with the result that quackery thrives on her innocence and ignorance is perpetuated.”

The result of this propaganda was Margaret Sanger’s arrest last fall. I’ve forgotten the various steps by which “that blind, heavy, stupid thing we call government” came to its lumbering decision that she ought to spend ten or fifteen years in jail for her efforts to spread this knowledge. But Mrs. Sanger left the country—thank heaven! However, I understand that when she has finished her work of making these pamphlets known she means to come back and face the imprisonment. I pray she doesn’t mean anything of the kind. Why should she go to jail for ten years because we haven’t suppressed Anthony Comstock? Last year his literary supervision was given its first serious jolt when Mitchel Kennerley won the Hagar Revelly suit. But that was not nearly so important as the present issue, because Hagar Revelly was rather negative literature and birth control is one of the milestones by which civilization will measure its progress. The science of eugenics has always seemed to me fundamentally a sentimentalization—something that a man might have conceived in the frame of mind Stevenson was in when he wrote Olalla. Because there is no such thing, really, as the scientific restriction of love and passion. These things don’t belong in the realm of science any more than one’s reactions to a sunrise do. But the restriction of the birth-rate does belong there, and science should make this one of its big battles. Many people who used to believe that love was only a means to an end, that procreation was the only justification for cohabitation, now realize that if there is any force in the world that doesn’t need justification it is love. And these people are the ones who refuse to bring children into the world unless they can be born free of disease and stand a chance of being fed and educated and loved. Havelock Ellis sums it up well: “In order to do away with the need for abortion, and to counteract the propaganda in its favor, our main reliance must be placed, on the one hand, on increased foresight in the determination of conception and increased knowledge of the means for preventing conception; and on the other hand, on a better provision by the State for the care of pregnant women, married and unmarried alike, and a practical recognition of the qualified mother’s claim on society. There can be no doubt that in many a charge of criminal abortion the real offence lies at the door of those who failed to exercise their social and professional duty of making known the more natural and harmless methods for preventing conception, or else by their social attitude have made the pregnant woman’s position intolerable.”

But the immediate concern is William Sanger and his trial, which is to take place some time in April, I believe. His friends are trying to raise $500 for legal expenses, and contributions may be sent to Leonard D. Abbott, President of the Free Speech League, 241 East 201st Street, New York City; to the Sanger Fund, The Masses Publishing Company, 87 Greenwich Avenue, New York City; to Mother Earth, 20 East 125th Street, New York City, or to The Little Review.

Another thing that must not be forgotten is the “dramatic” attempt to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral last month, and all the deep plots to destroy the rich men of that city—what was it the headlines said? Everybody of normal intelligence who read those headlines suspected a police frame-up—which it proved to be. The psychology of the police is something I don’t understand, let alone being able to write about it so that any one else will understand. So I will quote the story of this quite unbelievable crime—police crime, I mean—as it appeared in The Masses. (The Masses, by the way, is one of the magazines indispensable to the living of an intelligent life). The story is called “Putting One over on Woods”:

When Commissioner Woods took office as head of the New York police force a year ago, he brought with him some enlightened ideas about the relation of the police to the public. A week before a meeting had been held at Union Square which by police interference had been turned into a bloody riot. A week later another Union Square meeting took place, with the police under orders to “let them talk.” The meeting passed off peaceably.

Thus the enlightened views of the new commissioner of police were vindicated. The right of free speech, and of free opinion, was conceded as not being a menace to civilization.

But a police force which is enabled to exist and enjoy its peculiar privileges by virtue of protecting the public against imaginary dangers, could not see its position undermined in this way. It was necessary to persuade the public that Socialists, Anarchists, and I. W. W.’s were plotting murder and destruction. The public was prone to accept this melodramatic view, but Commissioner Woods, being an intelligent man, was inclined to be cynical. So it became necessary to “put one over on Woods.”

They framed it up in the regular police fashion. A clever young Italian detective named Pulignano, it appears from the evidence, was promised a raise of salary and a medal if he would engineer a bomb-plot. Pulignano got hold of two Italian boys—not anarchists or socialists, but religious fanatics—and urged them on to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He planned the deed, bought the materials of destruction for them, and shamed them when they wanted to pull out of the plot the night before. The next morning, at great risk to an innocent public, the bomb was carried into the cathedral, lighted, and then the dozens of policemen and detectives, disguised as scrubwomen, etc., rushed in to save civilization.

And Woods fell for it. He swallowed the whole sensational business. They have got him. He is their dupe, and henceforth their faithful tool.

Reaction is in the saddle. “All radicals to be expelled from the city,” says a headline. A card catalogue of I. W. W. sympathizers. Socialism under the official ban. Free speech doomed.

So they hope. At the least it means that the fight has for the lovers of liberty begun again. But one wonders a little about Arthur Woods. He is on their side now—the apologist of as infamous and criminal an agent provocateur as ever sent a foolish boy to the gallows. But will Woods fail to see how he has been used by the police in this latest attempt to crush freedom in the interest of a privileged group? Is he as much a fool as they think?

Giovannitti’s Italian magazine, Il Fuoco, states that the bomb was made of caps and gravel—the kind of thing children use on the fourth of July. I know that Mother Earth has started a fund to prevent the two boys from being railroaded. Will there never be an end of these ghastly things?...

As too much light may blind the vision, so too much intellect may hinder the understanding.

Romain Rolland.

Wild Songs

(From “Monoliths”)

Skipwith Cannell


I am not alone, for there are eyes

Stealthy and curious,

And they turn to me.

I will shout loudly to the forest,

I will shout and with a sob

Griping my throat I will cower


Beneath my cloak.

For the old gods stand silently

Behind the silent trees,

And when I shout they step forth

And I dare not

Look upon their faces.


The red in me

Lives too near my throat.

My heart is choked with blood,

And a rage drives it upward

As the moon drags the flood tide


Across the marshes.

I will dance


In a ritual

Terrible and soothing;

I will dance that I may not

Tear out his throat

In murder.


With wide flung arms,

With feet clinging to the earth

I will dance.

My breath sobs in my belly

For an old sorrow that has put out the sun,

An old, furious sorrow ...

I will grin,

I will bare my gums and grin

Like a grey wolf who has come upon a bear.

The Poetry of Paul Fort

Richard Aldington

It is said that there are only three honors in the world really worth accepting. The first is that of Pope of Rome, the second Prime Minister of England and the third Prince des Poètes. Monsieur Paul Fort is Prince des poètes, a sort of unofficial title conferred upon him by the affection and admiration of the young poets of Paris. Paul Verlaine, Stephen Mallarmé and Leon Dierx were M. Fort’s successors, and in the ballot which took place when he was elected M. Henry de Régnier was an excellent second.

Paul Fort is indeed a prince of poets, the essence and the type of the poetic personality, princely in the extraordinary generosity with which he scatters largess of poetry and princely in his disdain for any occupation but that of poet. If I were king of England I believe I would ask Paul Fort to be my Prime Minister, but he would refuse, for he has a better and more interesting kingdom of his own. He should have been Grand Vizier to Haroun-al-Raschid, and when the Sultan went to war or to love, when he was idle or busy, vainglorious or craven, happy or sad, wanton or grave, M. Fort, Grand Vizier, would have made a poem to express or correct the Sultan’s mood.

Critics are fond of making epigrams on Paul Fort. They say he is “genius pure and simple”; that he has a nature continually active and awake. It would be simpler to say he is a poet. Everything he lives, everything he sees, everything he hears or smells or touches or experiences is matter for poetry. Everything from Louis XI. to the “joli crottin d’or” goes into his varied subtle rhythms. He is the only living poet who can gracefully introduce his own name into a poem without appearing ridiculous. He is continually interested in himself and notes with pleasure the interest of others:

“Cinq, six, sept, huit enfants me suivent très curieux du long nez éclairant la cape au noir velours, ‘de ce monsieur tombé de la lune, avec des yeux de merlan frit!’ dit l’un d’entre eux.”

He writes that in the midst of a poem describing a visit to the village of Coucy-le-Chateau. I have no doubt thousands of other people have been to Coucy-le-Chateau, among them many poets, but Paul Fort is the first to make a poem of it:

Les sires d’autrefois portaient: Fascé de vair et de gueules. Pour supports: deux lions d’or. Au cimier: un lion issu du même. — Or voici que, premier, notre gai souverain, missire le soleil,

porte un écu vivant! “Sur champ de vert gazon, Paul Fort couché près d’une amoureuse Suzon mêle distraitement cent douze violettes à sa barbe, et Suzon rêve sous sa voilette.”

There you have the “familiar style” over which so many gallons of ink have been shed. Observe how perfectly naturally the author speaks of “Paul Fort”; can you hear Tennyson doing it, or Keats or Francis Thompson or the disciples of Brunetière? One might make a pleasant little literary sketch on poets who possess the familiar style to the extent of using their own names in their verse. Thus, that admirable man, Browning:

And Robert Browning, you writer of plays,

Here’s a subject made to your hand.

And old Walt:

I, Walt Whitman, a Cosmos, turbulent, fleshly, sensual,

Eating, drinking and breeding.

It is, at least, agreeable to find poets who consider themselves as human beings instead of very inflated, somewhat simian demi-gods. Better a thousand times have desperate vulgarity than the New England pose au Longfellow and Emerson, or the still more horrible old England pose au Wordsworth, Tennyson, Shelley. Heaven preserve me from saying M. Fort is vulgar, but if to hate pomposity and moral pretentiousness be vulgar, then let us be vulgar, as M. Fort is. Better be obscene than a ninny.

Those who have not read M. Fort’s work and who suspect from the foregoing quotations that he is really a prose writer impudently palming off his productions as “sweet poesy,” are asked to read the following poem with attention:


Si toutes les filles du monde voulaient s’ donner la main, tout autour de la mer

elles pourraient faire une ronde.

Si tous les gars du monde voulaient bien êtr’ marins, ils f’raient avec leurs

barques un joli pont sur l’onde.

Alors on pourrait faire une ronde autour du monde, si tous les gens du monde

voulaient s’ donner la main.

That is said, I don’t know with what truth, to be the most popular of M. Fort’s poems. It certainly was, I am told, in everybody’s mouth in Paris when it was first published—rather as Dolores was in London in the sixties. The cadence of the poem is, of course, obvious and marked, as it should be in a “chanson.” It is rather a good poem to start on, as M. Fort’s way of printing rhymed and accented verse as prose is there forcibly exemplified. M. Fort has not abandoned the Alexandrine; but he is not its slave. Confident in his theory that most poetry is a matter of typography he writes rhymed alexandrines, rhymed vers libres and rhymed and unrhymed prose in exactly the same manner; the effect is curious and charming. It is of course not the very commonplace device of daily newspapers when they want to be funny, but a genuine artistic principle. The effect is very different from that received from a perusal of tedious quatrains written as prose; in the latter case one is disgusted immediately, knowing that no man, not even a paid journalist, is such a fool as to write such stuff in prose; in M. Fort’s case the typographical arrangement prevents the ear becoming fatigued with the stressed rhymes of linear verse and at the same time gives a richness to the apparent prose that no real prose possesses.

For example, this quotation from the Roman de Louis XI., one of Paul Fort’s finest poem-novels.

Comtes, barons, chevaliers, capitaines, tous gentilshommes de grand façon, et le plus fier, le plus grand, le plus beau, Charles de Charolais, qui les dépassait tous, entrèrent un beau matin d’azur pure et de cloches, dans Rouen, la bonne ville, et c’était doux plaisir de voir briller les casques, les cuirasses et les housses; les belles housses, de fin drap d’or étaient, et d’autres de velours, fourrées de pennes d’hermine, et d’autres de damas, fourrées de zibeline, et d’autres, qui coûtaient moult cher, d’orfèvrerie; et c’était doux plaisir de voir courir les pages, les beaux jeunes enfants bien richement vêtus, et le voir danser, devant les personnages, des hommes en sauvages et de belles femmes nues, et sautiller autour des chevaux, en cadence, des nains rouges, roses, verts, et des filles en bergère, et de voir flotter aux toits les étandards bleus, semés de feux d’or, rouges, avec un lion noir, qui se mêlaient avec les bannières toutes blanches, et de voir venir de la cathédrale, sur le parvis, le clergé violet, venir à la rencontre du roi Louis le pâle, que représentait un si beau comte, et le ciel bleu passait dans les clochers à jour, toutes les cloches battaient, de joie ou de douleur, que les crosses luisaient! que les lances étaient belles!... et c’était doux plaisir d’aller voir les fontaines jeter vin, hypocras, dont chacun buvait; et y avait encore trois belles sirènes, nues sur une estrade, comme Ève au paradis, et jouaient d’instruments doux, jolis et graves, qui rendaient de suaves et grandes mélodies; et c’étaient sur le grand pont, sur la Seine, écuyers lâchant oisels peints en bleu, et dans toute la ville c’étaient moult plaisances, dont le tout avait coûté moult finance.

I quote that long passage in full to give a clear notion of M. Fort’s extraordinary fertility and precision in description. It is better than Hugo’s descriptions in Notre Dame de Paris, chiefly because it is more natural and familiar.

In this little article I have barely touched the rim of Paul Fort’s work. He is prodigious; he is not one poet, he is twelve, a whole school of poets; he is his own disciples, for none dares to imitate him, just as none dares to imitate Browning. He is the poet who has written everything: Chansons, Romans, Petites Epopées, Lieds, Elégies, Hymnes, Hymnes Héroiques, Eglogues et Idylles, Chants Paniques, Poèmes Marins, Odes et Odelettes, Fantaisies à la Gauloise, Complaintes et Dits, Madrigaux et Romances, Epigrammes à Moi-même. If he has not written plays, he has been a theater director, producing work which delighted literary Paris and annoyed the “boulevardiers”—this at a fabulously early age.

It may interest some readers to know what M. Fort has been doing since the war. He is an inhabitant of Rheims, born opposite the beautiful “cathédrale assassinée”; and he sits in a room at 125 Boulevard St. Germain writing, writing, poems against the invading Germans, poems to cheer on his heroic countrymen, poems mourning friends fallen on the battlefield, poems against H. I. M. the Kaiser, against the Prussian officers, against the “Monstrueux général baron von Plattenberg” (commanding the army which bombarded Rheims), poems to the English, to Joffre, and on the Battle of the Marne. The odd thing is that they are so good. I quote this one, from national vanity:


ON meurt: l’Anglais s’élance et le Français le suit.... Il bondit, le Français!... L’Anglais court apres lui.... L’Anglais vif le rattrape. Qui, c’est même vaillance. Il me revient un mot, la fleur des mots guerriers. L’Anglais stoppe, et avec une grâce de France: “Messieurs de France, à vous de tirer les premiers.”

[1] This poem is printed by permission of M. Fort, from his periodical, “Poèmes de France,” published fortnightly at 25 centimes the number, 125 Boulevard St. Germain, Paris.

The Subman

Life and Literature in Russia are interdependent forces to such a degree that in approaching a phenomenon, whether in book-form or in reality, we can hardly discern the line of demarcation between cause and effect. If it is true that a number of Russian writers have mirrored actual life in their works, it is more significantly true that many powerful authors have influenced life and have moulded it in accordance with their views and ideas. And it is to be noticed that the less artistic the writers have been, the more obvious has been their tendency to preach and sermonize, the stronger their influence upon the young minds; more than Gogol and Dostoyevsky have such second-rate writers as Chernyshevsky and Stepnyak succeeded in shaping the creeds of their readers. We must remember that literature in Russia, although gagged by bigoted censorship, has been the only medium for expressing and moulding public opinion throughout the past century, and to a great extent this holds true to our very day. Revolutionism, terrorism, socialism, have been propagated through the mouths of novel heroes and heroines for the ardent emulation of the seeking susceptible youth.

The furor produced in Russia by the appearance of Artzibashev’s Sanin some eight years ago has had no parallel even in that country, where a new word in belles-lettres has always taken on the significance of a national event. The importance of this novel is partly due to chronological circumstances—the fact that it came as a luring will o’ the wisp in the post-revolutionary gloom of Russian life. The young generation was on the verge of despondency; the collapse of the Revolution brought to nought the long struggle, the thousands of sacrificed lives, the high aspirations; the Constitution, which had been the ideal of generations, the religion of all pure-minded Russia, had degenerated into a mocking buffonade, the subservient Duma. At such a time Artzibashev steps forward offering the disillusioned youth a new type—the strong, sane Sanin, who derides the altruistic strivings of his compatriots and advocates simple animalistic life, sans principles, sans standards, with the sole aim of satisfying one’s impulses. So strong and timely was the appeal that it immediately created a large following; clubs and societies were formed for the promulgation of the new religion, Sanin’s ideas were hotly discussed from the lecture platform and in the press—in short, such a formidable movement burst forth that the government, which has usually welcomed any sign of deviation from revolutionary thought, became alarmed and withdrew the book from circulation.

But the importance of Sanin has been far more than local. In Germany it was translated and even dramatized, and has created a literature. Even France, oversatiated with pornography, was for a moment stirred at the appearance of the sensational novel, until a new scandal captured the limelight. Finally, with the customary Anglo-Saxon retardation, we have the book in English.[2] The universality of Artzibashev’s appeal is thus evident, and the question arises: What is the underlying force that makes the book arouse interest, admiration, and indignation in various tongues and countries? To my mind, this is the answer: The author, a typical representative of our age, has performed a purely subjective, introspective study—hence he has voiced the ideas of his contemporaries, hence he is so readily understood and appreciated by the children of our civilization.

Francis Hackett, who, when he writes on books, has no equal in this country, has remarked with his usual insight: “It is plain that for himself Artzibashev has made not a man, but a hero, a god.” To this true statement I wish to add that when we humans erect a god, we endow him with those qualities and virtues which we ourselves lack, which to us are but unattainable desiderata. Artzibashev glorifies Sanin because he himself is Sanin’s antipode, the whining, impotent Yourii, whom he paints with obvious disgust. This is no sheer presumption; I have followed the author’s career since his early short stories written in a Tolstoyan, idealistic vein, where he revealed a restless, self-questioning, self-analyzing spirit of the sort that he caricaturizes in Yourii: “Perpetual sighing and groaning, or incessant questionings such as ‘I sneezed just now. Was that the right thing to do? Will it not cause harm to some one? Have I, in sneezing, fulfilled my destiny?’” But the idealist-Artzibashev-Yourii lived not in the clouds, but in the midst of the St. Petersburg Bohème, with the decadent crowd of the restaurant “Vienna”—a life of questionable virtuousness and of dubious hygiene. He conceived the idea of Sanin when he had become almost a physical wreck, forced to spend his time, when not in “Vienna,” in a resort in Crimea. Incapable of enjoying carnal life any longer, yet morbidly craving to empty the cup of sensuous pleasures to the dregs, he creates for himself a fetish, an ideal male, stripped of all human weaknesses, doubtings, and questionings, free of all principles but the principle of professing no principles, living to the full the life of a healthy animal.

In order to accentuate the superiority of his god, Sanin, the author surrounds him with sentimental weaklings, vegetating in a small provincial town, engaged in petty philosophizing and whimpering, bored with one another and with the general ennui of their life, aimlessly pining, striving purposelessly. In such a setting the figure of Sanin naturally looms up as the least boring individual. But try to transfer the hero from this stage of marionettes into real Russian, or, for that matter, into any life full of struggle and love and passion, and what a platitudinous, uninteresting figure he will make! In what he says is nothing strikingly new; his discourses on Christianity or on morality could have been borrowed from any modern rank-and-file radical. As to what he does—well, it is zoology. A witty critic has endeavored to pin to him the label of Superman; what an insult for our hero, who after a feast of vodka, cucumbers, and cheap cigarettes, “undressed and got into bed, where he tried to read Thus spake Zarathustra which he found among Lida’s books” (an interesting detail about the intellectual status of the provincials who read Ibsen, Hamsun, Nietzsche). “But the first few pages were enough to irritate him. Such inflated imagery left him unmoved. He spat, flung the volume aside, and soon fell fast asleep.”

Artzibashev is obviously an erotomaniac. His men and women think of one another only in sexual terms, dream of possessing and being possessed. Broad shoulders, strong muscles, intense virility; ample bosoms, swaying hips, supple bodies—these are the ne plus ultra attractions of his heroes and heroines. Even nature appears to his characters through a pathological prism; under the influence of moonlight or sunshine they dream of nude bodies, white limbs, yielding mates.

I repeat my statement: Sanin, or rather Artzibashev, is typical of his age—the age of the oversatiated enervated urbanite, the age of civilization overdeveloped at the expense of culture. You see them in the big cities (perhaps to a lesser degree in this young country), on the streets, among society, among professionals—those over-ripe men and women whose senses have become dull, who are driven by ennui and imbecility to seek the piquant, the bestial, the “healthy.” But the true healthy men and women do not talk health, sex, muscles, virility, for as long as our natural faculties are sound we are hardly aware of them. The healthy, those who are pulsating with life, strive to surpass themselves, strive towards the Superman; it is the pathological, the incapacitated, the withered, who impotently yearn for a retrogradation towards the Subman-Sanin.

[2] Sanine, by Michael Artzibashef. [B. W. Huebsch, New York.]

There is hardly any danger of the book being persecuted by Anthony Comstock, for whatever pernicious influence it might have had has been splendidly neutralized through the wretched translation which evidently was rendered from the French version, in its turn a poor translation from the German; this explains—does it justify—the cosmopolitan transliteration of the proper names and the numerous nonsensical errors. The publisher threatens to present the public with Artzibashev’s Millionaire; let us hope that this time the author will be spared the atrocious mutilation by the hands of the humoristic Percy Pinkerton.


George Franklin

The moment seems due. Fashion had better take care. Beggars can spit very venomously. Weird-looking jumbles of bones in rags are leering and grinning, jostling and hustling very defiantly. Men are blowing their noses on doorsteps and wearing their hats in church. Hunger is no more passive. Time comes, and with it the fulfillment of every destiny prophesied by a fact. Hunger is sickly till Frenzy quickens it. Hunger has no brain, and does not consider. It curses and swears, is blear-eyed and croaks. It sneers, mocks, jeers, coughs. It spits and throws filth on fine linen. It pours out from cesspool haunts and stinks out the most respectable of neighborhoods. Hunger has no morality—is devoid of all shame. In highest moods hungry knaves will hurl stones, smash windows, pinch, eat, drink, tear down altars, stretch the necks of the Respectable between the head and the shoulders, use guns, laugh, grin, joke, mock, stick grass in mouths of their victims, use pikes, uproot bastiles, and without ceremony lop off heads with every consecutive second of the clock. Hunger startles the world from its slumber, with a shock. Beware, Friends! Hunger is lynx-eyed and sees behind every fact. It sniffs and can smell out anything suspicious. Hunger will hurt no man except he smell or look a little of Tyranny. Does Tyranny wear a powdered wig, talk good French and say “Monsieur”—Hunger looks, sniffs, finds it, and sends its head rolling into a bushel basket. Does it look like a New York banker, have crease in pants, talk grammatical English, wear gold chain, wipe nose with clean handkerchief, wear feathered plumes and fashionable gowns—Hunger noses it out and despatches it without delay. Respectability with its disdain; Education with its stupidity; Fashion with its vanity; Wealth with its luxury; all exhale the same odor to the sniffings of Hunger. When Hunger sniffs, it is time for Fashion to drape itself in rags and give to its body a smell of dung. If Hunger cannot taste food, it will drink blood. There is only one passion stronger than Love—Hatred. Love will Sacrifice, but Hatred will live, though it torture the world with all the machinations of hell. Hatred and Hunger are dogs of the same kennel.... Hunger Hounds, starved, snarling, bloodshot eyes, fangs bared, straining at their chains—Friends, Beware!... Hunger—lean, bony, naked, and grimy—with talons and claws. Hunger with fever and mad. Hunger goaded. Hunger grinning. Hunger in consort with Death. Hunger—hideous, impalpable. Hunger that cannot die. Hunger, blood-smeared, ghastly, and sallow, with rotting teeth. Hunger that spits and leers. Hunger—devilish nightmare to all Tyrannies. Hunger, the fiendish torment of all Fashions and Respectabilities. Hunger without Reason—mad and demoniac. Hunger! Hunger! Hunger! Hunger! Friends, Beware! The moment seems due. Time will fulfill the destiny of a Fact.

To follow the impulses of my heart is my supreme law; what I can accomplish by obeying my instincts, is what I ought to do. Is that voice of instinct cursed or blessed? I do not know; but I yield to it, and never force myself to run counter to my inclination.

Richard Wagner.


David O’Neil


The bodies of soldiers

Come floating down the river

To the green sea,

Rich in amber,

Waiting to embalm them;

All is splendid silence

In this pageantry of wanton glory


By the setting sun.


In this terror of blood-spilling lust,

Why throw it in a ditch,

This boy’s beautiful body,

When his spirit might rise like steam from the soup

And stir the live ones to vengeance?

Disease will deter you?

Ah, but boil it well

And the thought will give it a spice.

Cannibalism, you say?

Why stop when you have gone so far?

He that died

Would rather his body

Gave life to his fellows,

Than be trampled over,

Shot over,

Shoveled like offal away.

Why throw it in a ditch?


I see captured shot-rent flags

Dancing with the wind,

Flying high to glory.

Why not anchor them

With a pyramid of bones,

Those of our own men?

It would tell

Of the price that was paid

To have these flags here,

Whipping in the wind.


Our son Jack,

Wild with life,

Went through

When law and nature

Said, “Go around.”

Thus he died.



Stripped of leaves,


Yet triumphant

In this thought:

There is nothing more to lose.



In dreams

I have been swept through space

On a star-hung swing,

Like a silkworm

Upheld by a slender strand,

Tossed about in the gale.


His life was well ordered

And monotonously clean

As an orchard with white-washed trees.

But he felt not the cool

Of the sun-splotched woods

Nor the mad blue brilliance

Of the sea.


I see green fields

In the first flush of the spring,

And little children playing,

Clustered as patches of white flowers.

Musik or Music?

James Whittaker

Despite its two world-cities our America is still a vast unattached province, subject now to the influence of London, now to that of Berlin or Paris, and again in a period of disaffection and unrestraint. Our taste is childish,—a capricious, intermittent taste—good once in a while, never lasting, and by no means frequent. Such a taste gives a few pleasures but not the developed one of judgment. It never lasts long enough to be imposed. We are unable to pair two congenial traditions and get a tendency. There is nothing for it but to welcome another generation of incomprehensible foreigners in the hope that among them will be found a mate for our very real desire for fine things.

One country has sent us little inspiration. Her natives do not willingly leave her soft sky for our harsh brilliant western sun. They have a proverbial preference for her gentle manner and speech. For our youth she has the admiration and envy of age, for our red knuckles and large ankles she has the indulgence of one who has been beautiful for many lovers, but for our loud-mouthed demand for adulation she has the aloofness of one who has still many courtiers. If we go fearfully as befits our youth and humbly as befits our awkwardness to Paris, instead of waiting for Paris the beautiful to come to us, perhaps we shall receive what Berlin and London have not yet given us.

London came to us willingly with a scholarly something that was better than our previous nothing. Berlin forced on us a manner of strong professionalism that was better than our previous weakness. Now we are beyond the age of facile conquests and we must, at the risk of being rebuffed and made unhappy, seek the favor of a lady who stays at home.

Since the spirit of Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert left Vienna, Music has loved no city. We shall soon agree that she did not love Weimar greatly nor Munich at all nor Leipzig enough. As for the lusty person who flaunts a passion for Berlin, we must call her a maid masquerading in her mistress’s cloak if, indeed, we concede her a resemblance to music at all.

The joy of loveliness admired, the frankness and naivete, the “jeu perle” and natural melodiousness that were the life of Viennese Music vanished utterly with the death of Schubert unknown. It seemed that he and his predecessors must have brought music into a cul-de-sac from which it would have to extricate itself. German music did and received new impetus from the professionalism of Weber, the literary romanticism of Liszt, the savoir-vivre of Chopin, and the cosmicality of Wagner. France, meanwhile, entertained loyally the older manner, nursing it through its unpopularity into the convalescence it now enjoys. When we come to discover that the spirit of Berlin is rather of something hyphenated to “Kultur” than of music purely, we shall also discover the spirit of Vienna,—vigorous and slightly Frenchified, in the Conservatoire and the Schola Cantorum.

Somehow, without the least effort or merit, we have strolled into the position of the “distinguished amateur.” It is an eminence from which one may see everything if one but keep a clear eye and a doubting mind. What fools we should be to view the road before us as we can only this once, wearing a prejudice like a pair of smoked goggles. To doubt is a privilege which the wise will make a duty. We should doubt what has given us our artistic existence, and if it can only stand by our faith it will fall—but we shall not fall with it. We should doubt the things we desire so that when we abandon them we cannot be reproached with broken faith. We must doubt the strength of organized professionalism that Berlin would teach us, the value of hard work the contrapunctalists of the Royal Academy preach;—we must doubt the superiority of art and the artist, the inviolability of tradition, the legitimacy of the Beethoven-Wagner-Strauss succession for the reason that they have been so freely offered if for no other. Surely such eagerness to be accepted does not prove great worth. Let us pooh-pooh all these magnificent “Pooh-Bahs” of music to see if their threats to have our heads off are real or bluff. Then with our tongues still in our cheeks, let us continue on to other courts.

If we have enjoyed the simple and fine art with which Beethoven and Schubert enlivened and refined the salons of Vienna, we shall enjoy Franck. If we should prefer our Mozart livelier by a notch of the metronome and lighter by one-half of the strings than we hear it now, we should be pleased by Chabrier and Faure and the way they are played by the half-dozen youngsters who get their premier prix at the end of each year’s work in the Conservatoire. From pure inertia we have out-stayed our pleasure in modern German music. A bit of animation and on to Paris!

The Critics’ Catastrophe

(A Probable Possibility)

Herman Schuchert

The scene is a dining-room of the “Cave Dwellers,” Chicago’s most exclusively stupid club. At one table are seated four musical critics, and one ex-critic, of the daily papers. That this gathering is unique is attested by numerous hushed conversations at other tables; the critics’ table is a center of half-concealed interest. A waiter has just cleared away the dishes; cigars are brought. The youngest critic, of the Worst Glaring Nuisance (witness the yellow acre of illuminated sign at the foot of Michigan avenue) speaks as if to reassure his natural timidity:

Donald Worcester. I suppose it will be eminently respectable. (The others appear not to have heard his remark, until a reply is carefully chosen by

Carbon Hatchett. Her advance notices would lead one to suppose that she has something of a prestige.

Edward Morless. That guff! I saw it. Awful! What I want to know is: what the devil does she mean by beginning her program with Debussy. I just wonder what’s become of Beethoven—ha, ha!

Donald Worcester. I suppose she imagines she’s going to revolutionize program-making.

Ben Dullard Krupp. Gentlemen, when I give my piano recital on March twentieth, you’ll hear the best possible way to start a program. Debussy is altogether too weak to lead; he’s scarcely able to get in at all (chuckle) but I’ve found a leader that is a leader—Archibald Shanks. If I know anything, and I do, this Shanks is going to become the American composer. Why, he’s so much better than MacDowell with all his Scotchy junk that there’s no comparison. I found Shanks in Rolling Prairie, South Dakota; and when I play his March of the Rock-Spirits at my recital on March the twentieth, you’ll hear the real thing—it’s music, I tell you.

Xilef Bowowski. Hmh! Ah-hmh! I remember looking over compositions by Archibald Shanks, sent me by a certain New York publisher, to get my opinion before taking them; and in one of them—I forget the title—I think it was Through the Marsh—some such title—hmh!—it doesn’t really matter—I found seven consecutive fifths and twelve parallel octaves within the space of a few bars. Positively inexcusable!

Ben Dullard Krupp. Blgh-h! That belongs to his early period. Through the Marsh is simply a practice-stunt, done when he was about fifteen—a mere youthful exercise. You can’t judge by—blgh-h!

Donald Worcester. I read in the Artists’ News that young Shanks is only seventeen at the present time.

Edward Morless. Probably means his son—Waiter!—What do you want, boys? I’m dry as a bone. And we’ve got a long afternoon before us. However, for my part, I shan’t be in any hurry about getting there. What’ll it be?

Xilef Bowowski. A little plum brandy for me.

Ben Dullard Krupp. Bring me some Haig and Haig.

Carbon Hatchett. Manhattan cocktail.

Donald Worcester. A large beer.

Edward Morless. Good! Let’s have some Green River, Tim. Krupp, do you think she’ll be any good at all?

Ben Dullard Krupp. A woman? From Budapest? On a Thimble piano? Starting in with Debussy? And you ask if she’ll be good! How could she be?

Donald Worcester. I was reading the other day——

Ben Dullard Krupp. All she plays is trash, of one kind or another. Debussy never does anything but move up and down the whole-tone scale; no melody, no counterpoint, no music at all. And take the Tchaikowsky thing, for instance. Everybody knows that Tchaikowsky always carried a whip in one hand and a gun in the other, and when he wasn’t using one, it was the other. It’s proverbial, and makes such a handy remark when thinking would take too long. And his piano-style: he simply hasn’t got any; it’s pathetic. I see you don’t get my joke on the sixth symphony—the Pathetique. I say, America won’t stand for that sort of thing. Some kindly person should have informed this Madame Frizza Bonjoline before she made a complete fool of herself.

Carbon Hatchett. She hasn’t played yet, and maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

Donald Worcester. A friend of mine tells me that Mr. Debussy is one of the greatest living melodists.

Ben Dullard Krupp. Blgh-h!

No further imbecility is displayed for the time being. Soon the party breaks up, and a natural modesty prevents the critics from seeing each other again until after the piano recital by Madame Frizza Bonjoline, an artist who is but slightly known in the United States, but one who has achieved recognition throughout Europe, South America, and Australia. She has just given an unusual program, which she could not close with less than seven encores. While the five critics wait outside the green-room, they hold a restrained conversation.

Hatchett to Krupp. It’s good to have you among us again, Krupp. Although I do have a terrible time steering my thoughts through the mazes of the English language I feel like the only live one left, since the Trib dropped you. The town needs you, and I’m glad you have an opportunity again to mould public opinion. We need more strong-minded men like you.

Krupp (fiercely). I know it, but the cattle don’t recognize good criticism when they see it.

Hatchett to Krupp. How did the Madame strike you? Plenty of emotion, I thought.

Krupp (to all). Impossible program—good God!—did you ever hear such a medley? And she hasn’t the strength of a kitten.

Hatchett to Krupp. Of course, she didn’t seem quite vital enough, but that may have been because of her choice of numbers. They were somewhat “outre.”

Krupp (sourly). Altogether too girlish, I say.

Edward Morless. Splendid personality, but a rotten technic, don’t you think?

Donald Worcester. As near as I can tell, she wears marvelous silk hose. They were the most striking thing about the whole concert.

Ben Dullard Krupp. Blgh-ggh-h!

Xilef Bowowski. I suppose then, Mr. Worcester, one doesn’t require any ears to get the good or bad out of a concert—only eyes.

Edward Morless. Well, Bowowski, ears were a nuisance today, at any rate, don’t you think? The optic impressions were far the best—easily. I wonder when we’re going to get in here.

Xilef Bowowski has been tramping up and down the corridor, his ultra-distinguished chin a trifle elevated, his hands locked behind his back. He is evidently searching for words. In a moment, the door of the green-room swings open and a well-dressed man is seen bidding good-bye to Madame Frizza. The stranger takes no notice of the group of critics as he brushes past and hurries away. Then a most charming voice welcomes the five critics. The Madame is greeted by four blushes and one scowl. The scowling one, Mr. Krupp, is the first one to enter the green-room. Close behind him come the embarrassed four.

Madame Bonjoline. Gentlemen, this is so good of you. And how did you like my recital? I hope it pleased you—yes?

There is a moment of silence which, as it becomes awkward, is broken by

Donald Worcester. Some concert, all right.

Madame Bonjoline. How good of you. I am happy.

Ben Dullard Krupp. I confess I find myself unable to understand the judgment which places Debussy at the first of a program. Now why did you——

Madame Bonjoline. Ah,—ho, ho, ha, ha—that is our little joke, gentlemen, is it not? I suppose no one knew that I played Rachmaninoff instead of Debussy at the start—no one but ourselves. I changed my mind after I was out on the platform.

Ben Dullard Krupp. I was—blgh-h!—that is, Mr. Stalk was at my office to see me about my coming American orchestra concert, at which I myself conduct, and so I was detained, and did not get to hear your opening number.

Donald Worcester. How did you manage to get along without Brahms, Madame. I should be interested——

Madame Bonjoline. Oh, you did not hear my third encore, then—the Brahms B-minor Capriccio. I am so sorry you missed it.

Donald Worcester. Oh, was that Brahms? I thought it sounded rather chunky, now that I recall it.

Edward Morless. Would it seem too—well, let us say—American to you if I were to ask you to lunch with me, Madame Bonjoline? I should be extremely happy to have that pleasure.

Madame Bonjoline. Ah, but the pleasure is mine. I shall be delighted to accept—that is, if there is time. I make that condition only.

Edward Morless. Thank you, thank you, Madame.

Xilef Bowowski. Madame Bonjoline, do you remember the date of publication of the Gliere Prelude which you played today? It has completely slipped my mind.

Madame (laughing). My good sir, I could not recall it to save my soul.

Donald Worcester. I wish your playing sounded as good as it looks, Madame.

Madame Bonjoline. How delightfully American you are! So frank, so utterly frank! But that reminds me: my friend, James Shooneker—perhaps you saw him; he left just as you came in—told me that my playing looked as good as it sounded. How strange a coincidence! You all know him, of course. For Europe, he is the great critic. He is in Chicago for a short time, and he is going to review my recital for a magazine here—I believe it is called Le Petit Revue, or something like that.

Ben Dullard Krupp. Oh, yes; that effusive young lady’s journal, The Little Review. I have heard of it. Ha!

Donald Worcester. Their poor musical writer was in your audience this afternoon, Madame.

Ben Dullard Krupp. He’s one of those chaps you can meet three or four times and still never recognize on the street.

Madame Bonjoline. So? At any rate, James Shooneker is going to “write up” (I believe you say) my recital. I understand that this number of The Little Review is coming from the press in the morning, and his article will appear in it.

Carbon Hatchett. So, indeed. This Mr. Shooneker, if I remember correctly, has written a book—what is the title of it?

Madame Bonjoline. Och! He has written so many, many books! I do not know which one you mean.

The charms of the woman, her little moues, smiles, and quick gestures, are entangling the five men. Conversation becomes increasingly difficult. The writers leave the green-room and, on the outside with the door closed, they glance nervously at one another.

Edward Morless. Say: this James Shooneker,—who’s he?

Ben Dullard Krupp. Who cares who he is? His stuff won’t get far in that sheet.

Edward Morless. Of course not. I just wondered. For my part, I’ve had a terrible afternoon.

Donald Worcester. But Ed, think of tonight. You’ve got to listen to Walter Spratt’s piano-playing.

Carbon Hatchett. Do you call that playing?

Nothing seems to relieve the collective nervousness of the five judges. At the outer door, they separate. Ben Dullard Krupp makes his way to McChug’s book-store and, after one swift glance up the street and another down the street, he pushes strenuously through the whirling doors. With swinging tread, he marches down the broad center aisle and hails a busy clerk. Yes, the clerk has sometimes heard of James Shooneker and—yes,—they have a book or two of his—just a minute. Then a convulsive terror seizes Ben Dullard Krupp, for on the other side of the same counter stands Donald Worcester. The younger approaches the elder with unaccustomed familiarity, having him, at the moment, on the hip, as it were.

Donald Worcester. Looking up Shooneker? Here’s one of his things,—Half-tones in Modern Music.

Ben Dullard Krupp. Oh, yes; that. I remember reading it when I was scarcely more than a boy.

Donald Worcester. It was published in 1909, I see.

Ben Dullard Krupp. Must be a later edition, then. Oh, pshaw! What’s the use of waiting for that clerk? I think I have a complete set of Shooneker packed away at home.

Donald Worcester. That so? Well, I’ll tell the clerk you couldn’t wait. Maybe I’d like the book myself, if it’s worth anything at all.

The presence in Chicago of one James Shooneker is like some fearfully disturbing shadow behind each of the five writers. Bowowski, within half an hour after the recital, has three helpers in the Public Library searching for every printed word of Shooneker. After a tasteless dinner, Ben Dullard Krupp scares three piano pupils out of their wits by an unusual amount of shouting and stamping; this, also, should be attributed to the visiting author. Worcester seeks his desk in the editorial room and crams on “Pathetic Spaces”—Shooneker’s latest book, according to the clerk. But the young critic’s attention strays from the pages of print to the lady in the green-room ... lovely person, if she can’t play the piano. Worcester has an impulse to use the telephone, and soon it masters him. He calls up Madame Bonjoline’s hotel and, as she is out, leaves a message—he will call in person at eight o’clock. Then a note is written, which he despatches to her by messenger. After that, there is time to think things over. Was there ever anyone as charming as she? And she has expressed her admiration for his frank manner and open criticism. Perhaps——Now the Madame is not willing to admit him at first; but he is insistent, and she permits him to enter. James Shooneker is seated by the window. Worcester, like a guilty boy, shakes hands with him and mumbles acknowledgement. But soon the celebrated critic has him at his ease, and the young journalist is talking with his accustomed candor. Then, continuing in the same friendly manner,

James Shooneker. Mr. Worcester, you might be interested in knowing the reason for my Chicago visit. In fact, it is only fair you should know.

Donald Worcester. Sure!

James Shooneker. Very well then. Your paper, the Worst Glaring Nuisance, as its catch-word has it, has sent for me to fill the vacancy created by your resignation.

Donald Worcester. Who’s bluff is this?

James Shooneker. It is true. I have your place offered me. Now, I don’t want to seem arbitrary, but here’s my proposition: In the first place, cut out your infatuation for Madame Bonjoline. That’s the main condition, if you want me to leave Chicago. The second thing is perhaps more important to yourself, and that is that you promise to take a long course in counterpoint and musical history under some good authority, if you can find one in the United States. Perhaps you would do well to tap the boundless information of your friend, Bowowski. These are my only demands. I don’t want your job. I’ll drop a note to your editor and tell him he doesn’t appreciate you. But you will have to forget your aspirations for the Madame, and behave yourself with a dignity becoming your position. You mustn’t make yourself ridiculous over Frizza, and for her sake—

Donald Worcester. Shooneker, you certainly are a brick! You certainly are! I can’t help being a bit dazed with Madame, but I’ll keep it all to myself. You’re a peach!

Madame Bonjoline. See, James, how perfectly American he is! I told you he would be. Isn’t he a dear boy?

James Shooneker. You like the conditions, then?

Donald Worcester. Bully! I appreciate them. And say, didn’t you write a book once called The Insane Melons?

James Shooneker. Yes, I have a book with a title something like that. Why do you ask?

Donald Worcester. If you’ve got one with you, I’d like a signed copy.

James Shooneker. I’m very sorry, but I didn’t bring any with me. Perhaps I can send you one later.

Donald Worcester. Fine! I wish you would. That’s treating me mighty good.

Madame Bonjoline. You deserve it, my boy.

In a confusion of thanks, apologies, and compliments, Worcester leaves the room and returns to the office, where an article is written which harbors no doubt that Madame Frizza is a great pianist. About the same hour, Mr. Morless is passing in a copy of his own criticism, stating that the Madame is a fairly promising amateur. The menacing cloud of Shooneker seems to hang over him; it has nearly prevented his passing in the article. And Ben Dullard Krupp, without a regular post, mails his lengthy and scathing opinion of the Madame to a weekly paper, in the hope of securing a steady allotment of their space. To him, also, the thought of an “outside” critic in their midst is irritating and, at times, threatening. What was HE going to say about her? His word might have weight. Suppose ... and Krupp wishes now he could reach into the mail-box and pull out his article. But the panic passes; he recalls several of his pet phrases, and this restores full confidence in his own finality.

Again—the same dining-room in the “Cave Dwellers,” with three of the critics disposing of an early lunch, almost early enough to be called breakfast.

Bowowski. They can’t print more than a couple hundred.

Hatchett. Somebody told me they had several thousand paid subscriptions, and then printed a bunch of extras.

Krupp. What difference does that make? The point is: what will they sell for? I’m good for my share, but there’s a limit, you know. Do you suppose that if I offered to do their musical criticism, they would destroy this issue as it stands?

Hatchett. You can’t tell. It isn’t “they” but “she.” You’re dealing with a woman, a young one at that.

Krupp. Oh, Hell; I can get around that difficulty. Waiter! Bring me a telephone! Hurry up!

Bowowski. Do you realize, gentlemen, that it is more than possible, in fact it is even likely, considerably more than probable, that we are right in the case of Madame Bonjoline, and that one James Shooneker is in error?

Hatchett. By George! That’s so, isn’t it!

Krupp. There’s no question about it. Just wait a minute now, while I call up this “Little Revolt”—ha! ha!—and see how they jump at the mention of my name.

Ben Dullard Krupp is informed over the wire that the new issue of The Little Review in large quantities is already in the mails, etc. In fact, at the same moment, the famous Shooneker is glancing through his own contribution; he swears at a misprint and puts the magazine in his suitcase, to read on the train. Madame Bonjoline does not open her copy, having read the article concerning herself from manuscript, two weeks before.

Krupp. Rank insolence, I call it!

Hatchett. What’s the matter? Won’t they sell?

Krupp. She says the mails are flooded with the impudent sheet.

Bowowski. Horrible! Horrible, indeed!

Krupp. It’s a great pity somebody couldn’t loosen up and say something about this Shooneker. How did I know who he was, or that his opinion was worth anything? Fine chance I’ll have now of getting on The Saturday Blade!

Bowowski. Perhaps if you had been able to curb your unfounded hatred of Tchaikowsky for a moment, we wouldn’t have been placed in this ridiculous position.

Krupp. Blgh-gg-h! It’s bad music, rotten! and I don’t care who knows I said it. This country is simply spineless when it comes to having an opinion about music. Why, I’ve got enough opinion to supply the nation, and they need it. That’s why I put on my American concerts. They’ve got to learn that I’m the only prophet in America’s musical future. I feel that it’s my duty—

Hatchett. Tchaikowsky has written some very good—

Krupp. Tchaikowsky! Man! if you mention that mediocrity’s unhallowed name again, I’ll go completely mad!

Bowowski. Great Heavens! Tim is coming to put us out, just on account of your infernal shouting. And look! With him! Shooneker! How perfectly horrible!

Krupp. Blgh-gh-h!

Abashed and silent, the three judges leave the table and get into their coats with more celerity than is comfortable. They glimpse a faint smile on the face of their jinx as they hasten out. The waiter, Tim, conceals his own mirth. Two critics rush down the street without a word. Calling after them is

Krupp. I don’t care who he is. I know I was right in saying—

A Shorn Strindberg

Marguerite Swawite.

Had Mme. Strindberg deliberately planned to revenge herself upon him who was once her husband, she could have devised no subtler way of wounding that redoubtable sham-hater than the manner in which she chose to speak of him before the Chicago public. As I sat in the prickly darkness, with its accompanying rumble of Beethoven, I half-expected the musty atmosphere of legerdemain to be scattered by the great August’s derisive laughter. But the promise of occult things was not fulfilled, for with the cessation of the music came a rosy glow, and then a gracious lady with a wistful presence. And she seemed quite at ease in her mise en scène.

She read to us of herself, of Prince Hassan’s feast in Paris, of her theatrical meeting with Strindberg, and of how he talked with her all the evening and later walked home with her; of how she stopped on the bridge to toss snowballs and Strindberg dried her hands upon his handkerchief; and of how she dreamed of him that memorable night—a strange symbolic dream. And as she read, her face was as quiet water rippled by gentle vagrant breezes.

The remainder of the meeting was distinguished by the fact that there was light, but the spirit of the seance persisted. Madame pleaded for questions, but the little audience seemed frozen into inarticulateness. Those few who did venture stammered for a moment and then drooped into silence. Madame, however, was not discouraged. She read us Strindberg’s views on divorce. In reply to the mumbled questions she replied that she considered eugenics impractical and indelicate, that her husband had believed intensely in peace and had written a beautiful story in its favor, which she had meant to read us but to which an accident had occurred; that Strindberg was a democrat in theory but an aristocrat in feeling; that he was not a misogynist, but had reviled bad women because he loved good women; that The Father was a plea for the sanctity of the home, the sanctity of woman.... Until it seemed that she was not speaking of the bitter-tongued, fiery-souled Swede, but of some complacent American, say, Augustus Thomas. And then someone said that it was past ten, and Madame thanked us and disappeared.

As we swung down Michigan Avenue in the fresh night air I smiled to think that over across the water they still thought of us as the “hayseed” among the nations to whom the “gold brick” might be disposed with impunity—and with exceeding profit. But we are learning....

Vers Libre and Advertisements

John Gould Fletcher

In common with all the judicious readers of American magazines and newspapers, I have learned to look on the advertising pages for the best examples of news the journalist can offer. It is only reasonable that this should be the case. Advertisement writers are the best-paid, least rewarded, and best-trained authors that America possesses. Compared to these, even the income of a Robert Chambers pales into insignificance. Moreover, they understand the public thoroughly and do not attempt to overstrain its attention by overseriousness, or exhaust its nerves by sentimentality. That is, the best ones do not. There may be some exceptions, but in the main I have found American advertisements refreshingly readable.

It had never occurred to me, however, that there might be gems of poetic ability hidden away in these tantalizing concoctions—these cocktails of prose. But I must revise my estimate. Without wishing to boom or discourage anyone’s products I cannot resist quoting some recent advertisements that I and I alone have discovered, seized, and gloated upon. After all, I approach the subject purely from the angle of form. What student of poetic form could afford to ignore the following:


Light flaky muffins, oven hot and golden topped, a suppertime goody that certainly will strike that hungry spot. Serve them with the finest, richest syrup you can buy anywhere. That’s “Velva,” with the best of flavor, nourishing goodness and the satisfying elements that put real strength into growing children. Give them Velva three times a day. They’ll say, “Great,” when they eat it on your flaky hot biscuits or on waffles or batter cakes.

I hope the unknown author of this little masterpiece will excuse my italics. The public simply will not see beauties that are not pushed under its nose. If the public could realize how much more difficult as well as more musical this style of writing, with its rich assonances and rhymes on day, say, great, flaky, cakes, is, than the insipid tinklings of the lyrists who feebly strum in pathetically threadbare metres through the pages of most magazines, then we would have a revolution in verse-writing. That we have not yet arrived at the revolution is proved by the fact that a talent of this order confines itself to writing syrup advertisements.

Take another case. The following appeared in a well known monthly. The editor doubtless looks on free verse as the rankest heresy:

A pipe, a maid,

A sheet of ice,

The glow of life—

And that glow doubled

By the glow of “Lady Strike”

Cuddling warm in the bowl;

This is the life

In the good old winter-time!

I do not say this is without faults. With the substance I have, naturally, nothing to do. But as regards form, which of your scribblers of cosmic bathos and “uplift stuff” could more cunningly weave pipe, ice, life, strike, and time into a stanza that has half as much swing and verve, as this? Note also the absence of adjectives. In short, here is poetry with a “punch” to it.

My last example is the most ambitious of all. I present it exactly as it was written without comment. It appeared in The North American Review:


Compared with old-method varnishes,

it is convenience and certainty.

It means one finishing varnish

for the job, instead of two or three.

It does away with the extra cans

and the extra cleanings of brushes.

It avoids mistakes and accidents.

It is safe and sure and fool-proof.

Compared with other new-method varnishes,

it is a vital improvement.

It is the new-method varnish

which does not thicken in the can

nor clog the painter’s brush.

It remains a clear, pure liquid.

It is easy working and free-flowing.

It requires vastly less labor.

It gives a smooth, clean finish

which is especially beautiful

and durable.

We think we are quite conservative

in saying that it saves twenty per cent

of the finishing cost.

Gentlemen of the poets’ profession, be ashamed of yourselves! How can you expect to find readers by lazily sticking to your antiquated formulas, when even the advertisement writers in the very magazines you do your work for, are getting quite up-to-date?

Extreme Unction

Mary Aldis


A Dying Prostitute
A Society Lady
A Salvation Army Lassie
A Doctor
A Nurse


The screened space around a high narrow bed in a Hospital ward. Record-card hanging above. The Screens have antiseptic white sheets over them.

When the curtain rises the nurse is straightening and tucking in with uncomfortable tightness the white counterpane of the bed. On the bed, with eyes closed, lies what is left of a girl of 18 or 20. The nurse takes the thermometer from the girl’s mouth, looks at it, shakes her head and makes a record note on the chart. She gives the girl water to drink and leaves her with a final pull to straighten the bed clothes. The girl tosses restlessly—moans a little and impatiently kicks at and pulls the bed clothes out at the foot, exclaiming “God, I wish they’d lemme ’lone!”

(The Lady enters)

The Lady. Hattie dear, were you sleeping? No? See, I’ve brought you some roses. Aren’t they fresh and sweet? Shall I put them in water?

The Girl. I don’ want ’em!

The Lady. All right dear. We’ll just put them aside. I know sometimes the perfume is too strong if one isn’t quite oneself. Shall I read to you?

The Girl. If you want to.

The Lady. What shall I read?

The Girl. I don’ care.

The Lady. A story perhaps?

The Girl. All right—Fire it off.

The Lady. And then afterward, Hattie dear, perhaps if you’d let me, the twenty-third psalm. It’s so gentle and quiet! You might go to sleep—and when you awakened you’d hear those comforting words.

The Girl. Is that the one about the valley? God, but I’m sick of it! Gives me the jimmies. Got a story?

(The Lady puts the flowers back in their box—takes off her wrap and settles herself to read aloud from a magazine):

Marianna Lane swung back and forth, back and forth, in the hammock, tapping her small, brown toe on the porch as she swung. It was a charming porch, framed in clematis and woodbine, but Marianna had no eye for its good points. She was lying with two slim arms clasped behind her head, staring vacantly up at the ceiling and composing a poem. On the wicker table beside her stood a glass of malted milk and a teaspoon. They were not the subject of the poem, but they were nevertheless responsible for it. In the first place, Marianna would not drink her twelve-o’clock malted milk, and as she was forbidden to go off the porch until she had done so, there seemed to be nothing better to do than to cultivate the muse in the hammock. After patiently sipping malted milk for eight years, Marianna had suddenly rebelled. In the second place, her cousin Frank, who lived in the next house, had been inspired by this beverage to make up an insulting ditty.

“Grocerman, bring a can

Baby-food for Mary Ann!”

The girl listens for a moment with a faint show of interest, then goes back to her restless tossing.

The Girl (interrupting). Say,—d’ye know I’m done for?

The Lady. Oh no! You’re getting better every day.

The Girl. Oh quit it—I’m goin’! I tell ye. I’ve got a head piece on me, haven’t I? I can tell—they’ve stopped doin’ all them things to me. The doctor just sets down there where you are and looks at me—and say—he’s got gump that doctor. He’s the only one knows I know.

The Lady. You mustn’t talk like that. I’m sure you’re going to get well (girl makes an angry snort). Now try and lie quiet. You mustn’t get excited, you know, it isn’t good for sick people. I’ll go on with the story. You’ll see. Now listen, will you, dear? It’s quite interesting. (Reads.)

“Grocerman, bring a can

Baby-food for Mary Ann!”

he sang loudly over the hedge whenever he caught sight of Marianna’s middy blouse and yellow pigtails. That was yesterday. To-day the malted milk was standing untouched upon the wicker table, and Marianna in the hammock was trying to think up an offensive rhyme for Frank. When she found it, she intended to go around on the other side of the house and shout it as loud as ever she could in the direction of her uncle’s garden. This, it is true, was a tame revenge. What Marianna really wanted to do was to go over and pinch her cousin Frank; but that, unhappily, was out of the question, as Frank had a cold, and she was strictly forbidden to go near anybody with a cold.[3]

The Girl (interrupting). Lady, where d’ you think you’re goin’ to when you kick it? Tell me!

The Lady. Why—I don’t know—To Heaven, I hope—but you mustn’t—

The Girl. What makes you think you’re goin’ to Heaven?

The Lady. Well—I think so because—well—because I’ve always tried to do right—no, no—I didn’t mean that exactly. Of course I’ve done millions of wrong things—but I mean—Oh Hattie dear, Heaven is such a vague term! All we know is that it is a beautiful place where we’ll be happy, and that we’re going there.

The Girl. How do you know we’re goin’?

The Lady. I don’t know, I believe.

The Girl. But how do you know the wrong things you done won’t keep you out?

The Lady. Now I’m afraid you’re exciting yourself—

The Girl. Oh Lord, cut that out! I’m excited all right, all right! Guess you’d be if you had the thoughts I got goin’ ’round in your head all the time—but there’s no sense talking them out. Nobody can’t do nothin’ for me now!

The Lady. Oh you mustn’t say that!

The Girl. Well, can ye?

The Lady. I’ll try if you will tell me what is troubling you.

The Girl. Oh Gawd! She wants to know what’s troubling me, she does!

The Lady. Can’t you tell me? Perhaps I could help you.

The Girl. You said you done wrong things.—What was they?

The Lady. I—I don’t know exactly.

The Girl. You don’t know?

The Lady. Why I suppose I could think of lots of things but—

The Girl. She could “think of lots o’ things”! Has to stop to remember—O gee—guess she’ll get in.

The Lady. Oh please don’t laugh like that! Listen—Whatever you have done, no matter how dreadful, if you are sorry it will be all right—Don’t be afraid.

The Girl. Is that true?

The Lady. Yes.

The Girl. I don’t believe it.

The Lady. It is true nevertheless.

The Girl. Well, if you aint sorry?

The Lady. But surely you are—You must be!

The Girl. No I aint. It was better dead.

The Lady. What do you mean?

The Girl. I tell ye, it was better to be dead. Say, Lady—in them wrong things you done you can’t remember did ye—did ye ever kill a kid that hadn’t hardly breathed—Say, did ye—did ye?

The Lady. Oh, oh—What shall I do? Hattie! Hattie! Try and stop crying. I’m so grieved for you. Tell me what you wish—only don’t cry so!

The Girl. I aint sorry.

The Lady. No, no, never mind that. Tell me if you want to, tell me—about it.

The Girl. An’ I aint sorry for what cum first—him—it was all I ever had; that time, that little weeny time!

The Lady. Wait a moment—wouldn’t you rather have a clergyman?

The Girl. No! There’s one comes ’round here. I don’ want to tell him nothin’.

The Lady. Very well—go on.

The Girl. It was so little, and it squawked! It squawked awful!

The Lady. Oh—don’t!

The Girl. You don’t want me to tell ye?

The Lady. Yes, yes.

The Girl. Oh what’s the use? What’s the use? You can’t do nothin’. Nobody kin. I aint sorry! The kid’s better dead, lots better. It’s what cum after—I’m so dirty! I’m so dirty! I’ll never get clean! Oh, what’s gona happen when I die? What’s gona happen? An’ I gotta die soon!

The Lady. You mustn’t feel so, you mustn’t! God is kind and good and merciful. He will forgive you—Ask Him to!

The Girl. I did ask Him to—lots o’ times. It don’ do no good. I aint sorry! Everybody says you gotta feel sorry, an’ I aint. A girl kid’s better dead, I tell ye! That’s why I done it. I loved it, ’fore it came, ’cause it was hisn. After I done it nothin’ mattered—nothin’! So I—And I gotta die soon—what’s gona happen?

(During the preceding the sound of a tambourine and singing has been heard outside. As the girl cries out the last words, the Lady, finding no answer, goes to the window. She has a sudden thought.)

The Lady. I’ll be back in a moment! (She goes out.)

(Nothing is heard but the girl’s sobs for a moment. Then the Lady ushers in a Salvation Army Lassie—her tambourine held tightly, but jingling a little. She stands embarrassed by the foot of the bed. The Girl stares at her.)

The Girl. I know them kind too.

The Lassie. Can’t I do something for you?

The Girl. No—not now—You’re a good sort enough—but—I aint sorry—I tell ye—I aint, I aint!

The Lassie (to Lady). What d’ye want me for? What’ll I do?

The Lady. Couldn’t you sing something brave and cheerful? You were singing so nicely out there.

The Lassie (to Girl). Shall I?

The Girl. No—they won’t let ye. It ’ud make a noise.

The Lady. Sing it low.

The Lassie. (In a sing-song voice—swaying, half chanting, half speaking:) “Shall we gather at the river—the beautiful, the beautiful river, etc.”

The Girl (after trying to listen for a stanza or two). Oh cut it out! I don’ want ye to sing to me—I want ye to tell me what’s gona happen. Oh, don’ nobody know? I’m so afraid—so ’fraid! (As her voice rises the nurse, who has, unobserved, looked in during the singing, enters with the doctor. He bows slightly to the Lady and the Lassie, then goes quickly to the girl, putting his hand on her forehead.)

The Doctor. Why child—what troubles you?

The Girl (clinging to his hand). Doctor! Everybody says I got to be sorry to get in. I aint sorry, an’ I’m ’fraid, I’m ’fraid.

The Doctor. To get in where?

The Girl. Heaven, where you’ll be happy.

The Doctor. That is very interesting, how do you suppose they found that out? How do they know, I mean?

The Lady. Doctor, I didn’t tell her that.

The Doctor. Didn’t you? She seems strangely excited. (He seats himself by the bed.) Come child, let’s talk about it. (He motions—to the nurse that she is not needed. She goes out. The Salvation Army Lassie, makes an awkward little bow and gets herself out. The Lady stands at the foot of the bed listening for a few moments, then slips quietly out.)

The Doctor. Now, tell me what is on your mind, but try and stop crying and speak plainly, for I want to understand what you say.

The Girl. I’m gona die, aint I?

The Doctor. Yes.

The Girl. When?

The Doctor. I don’t know.

The Girl. Soon?

The Doctor. Yes.

The Girl. How soon? Tomorrow?

The Doctor. No, not tomorrow. Perhaps in a month, perhaps longer.

The Girl. Will I get sorry ’fore I go?

The Doctor. How can I tell? But what does it matter? Why do you want to be sorry especially? What good would it do? It is all passed, isn’t it? Nothing can change that.

The Girl. But I gotta be—to get in.

The Doctor. You seem very sure on that point.

The Girl. But everybody says I gotta be.

The Doctor. What is the use saying it or thinking it when nobody knows?

The Girl. What you sayin’?

The Doctor. You and I can believe differently if we want to. But why in the world should you be asking me all these hard questions? I’ve never been to Heaven have I? I don’t know whether you have to be sorry to get in or not. How do you suppose they found all that out?

The Girl. But aint I gotta be punished somewhere till I git sorry?

The Doctor. Do you remember the other night when the pain was so bad?

The Girl. Yep.

The Doctor. And I told you you would have to bear it, that I could do nothing for you, and that you must be quiet not to disturb the others?

The Girl. Oh, don’t I remember!

The Doctor. I guess that’s about enough punishment for one little girl. You’ve been pretty unhappy lately, haven’t you, with the pain and the terrible thoughts? I think it’s about time something else turned up for you that would be nicer, don’t you?

The Girl. Turned up?

The Doctor. Yes, something that would make up for all this. Do you know, child, as I’ve gone through these wards day after day ’tending to all you sick folks, I’ve about come to the conclusion that there must be—something nicer—

The Girl. Tell me more about it.

The Doctor. Well now—there’s another queer question. Didn’t I tell you I don’t know anything to tell? I’ve never been there. I should think you would have found out a little something since you’re planning to go so soon. But no, I don’t suppose you know much more than the rest of us. And when you get there you will probably forget all about me and how much I’d like to know what’s happening to my little patient. No use I suppose asking you to tie a red string on your finger and say “that’s to send Dr. Carroll a little message.” Is there any way, do you think you could remember?

The Girl. You’re kiddin’ me!

The Doctor. Indeed I am not. I long to know with all my heart, and I suppose it will be years and years before I do. Why just think, you, you are going to have a great adventure—You are going on a journey to a far country where you’ll find out lots of things, and here am I, jogging along up and down, to and fro, between my office and this hospital and wondering and wondering and wondering! What a lucky little girl you are!

The Girl. And I don’t have to be sorry—to get in?

The Doctor. Didn’t I tell you you were going soon anyway? You can be sorry if you want to—but I think it is more interesting to dream about the strange things there will be to discover, at the end of the journey.

The Girl. Will there be gates of gold that open wide, and angels standin’ by with shinin’ wings?

The Doctor. Wouldn’t you like to know? And so would I. You mustn’t forget to send that message, will you? Do be careful to be accurate and try to speak distinctly. You know that a great many wise men have promised to send messages back, yet all that seems to come are foolish words. If you will look at everything carefully and find a way of telling me, I’ll write it down for all the world to ponder. Oh—then we should really know something—not just be groping—groping—groping in the dark. If you only could, if you only could! I wonder— (In his turn he gazes at her intently, then rises abruptly.) Well, child, I must go on. Shall I teach you a few questions before you go, so you’ll be sure and find out for me the most important things?

The Girl. Oh Doctor!

The Doctor. You’d like to do something for me, wouldn’t you child?

(The girl reaches out for his hand and kisses it humbly, then gazes at him.)

The Doctor. Well, that would be the most wonderful thing in the world, only you must be very very careful and you must do a lot of thinking before you go, about what I’ve said. It is important to understand. Don’t waste any time thinking about what is passed, will you?

The Girl. No, Doctor.

The Doctor. We must talk it all over. There aren’t many people I could trust to remember exactly all the things I want to know. But you can if you try hard. (He touches the bell, the nurse appears.) Now, Miss Bryant, Miss Hattie and I have several important things to discuss and there isn’t much time left, so if she wants me at any time call me and I’ll come. And I think while she has so much thinking on hand about what I’m asking her to do for me, she had better not see other visitors. You don’t mind, do you?

The Girl. No no! I don’ want ’em! Doctor, when will it come? Doctor, will I know soon?

The Doctor. Soon I think—Very soon. (He takes her hand a second, then goes out, motioning the nurse to precede him.)

The Girl (raptly). Soon! He said it would be very soon—and I’m so tired! I’d like something nicer.

(She settles herself with a little sigh, and falls asleep.)


[3] From The Century, March, 1914.

The Schoolmaster

George Burman Foster

The history of the world has not known a greater movement than that which seized the hearts of men when the old culture was borne to its grave, and a new fresh Spring-life,—the Christ-life, as it came to be called,—of humanity, welled up from hidden and mysterious sources of power. In the commerce of thought diverse folk-spirits were cross-fertilized and bounds once held to be insurmountable were transcended as vision grew wider. Customs came to be more human. Man himself grew greater, deeper, freer. Man learned to practice virtues which hitherto he had hated as vices: mercifulness, meekness, peaceableness. Man prayed to a new God who made his sun to shine upon the evil and the good. He ever created sacreder names for his God. Taking his cue from the adorable will of this new God he framed ever more earnest and more sacred rules of life. These were radical and revolutionary novelties to the old culture, which speedily scented the dangers menacing it, and as speedily dispatched executioners to the rescue. In the language of its old theology, the language of St. Augustine, this was called the war of the Kingdom of the World against the Kingdom of God. Any well-informed scholar can recall what were said to be the hindrances which the Kingdom of God had at first to overcome, and how today these hindrances still offer the same resistance; degenerate paganism, with its powers of unbelief, and with its supremacy of the “flesh”; judaism, apostate from God, with its priests and scribes.

It is not within the scope of my task to inquire how far this traditional schema of the upheavals at the tumultuous beginnings of our era coincide with the facts. Only one consideration concerns me at this time, and that one is not open to question: change as the phenomena of history may, the laws of those phenomena remain ever the same. Accordingly, even the resistances which time’s new unfolding life has to surmount, ever return—usually under a changed name, indeed,—and they will continue to do so as long as there is a history of human culture in the life of the world.

Passing on, now, to speak of the forces which the most modern prophet of a new culture, Friedrich Nietzsche, looks upon as the most grievous hindrances to a new kind of man, we shall surely expect to see first of all, quite other faces than those which the pious fathers of the old church saw in the foes of the civitas die; still, we shall re-discover, significantly enough, many an old acquaintance behind the strange re-modeled mask. As in that old day, so in ours, we shall perceive in these foes of a new life, nothing of their hostility to life. In part, they appear quite harmless; in part, they are the universally dined and wined celebrities of the day at whom the masses stare as the special pioneers of our culture, and in whom the masses applaud the bearers and promoters of the best achievements of our culture. It would be certainly a very one-sided and unhistorical way of looking at things were we to hold those particular individuals, who did duty in the olden days in synagogues of the scribe’s learning, primarily responsible for the warfare which ancient Christianity had to sustain against the dominant religious parties, especially against the scribes and their followers. The war was not waged against persons, but against a system. The synagogue was the school of the Jews; the scribes were the masters in that school. Viewed from this side, Christianity seemed to be rebellion against the authority of the school, and an emancipation of humanity from the influence which the toasted masters of the school exercised over spirits.

Approaching the problem, then, as to how far such an emancipation would be serviceable today, one need scarcely say that one does not at all have in mind the institutions which, in a narrower sense, we now have come to call “schools.” As, for broad gauge philosophers, the concept priesthood is by no means identical with a definite office, the so-called clerical office, so what we understand by school and its masters, in Nietzsche’s sense, embraces a much wider circle than we are wont to think. There are schoolmasters in all vocations and callings and positions, not alone among scholars, but also among artists, politicians, laborers and merchants. We find them in the household and in the nursery; for schoolmaster-ism is a certain kind of spirit, and it is this kind of spirit which, under various names, Nietzsche pursues with his bitterest scorn and ridicule; which he stigmatizes as the most perilous hindrance in the path of the new culture.

We modern men must concede that Nietzsche is right at this point; that mastery on the part of “school” signifies decay, stuntedness, of the very human essence itself.

School gives knowledge. In all knowledge, man confronts nature. Man elaborates nature in his thoughts, and thus lifts himself above nature. With his rules, he becomes master of nature. But, now, if a man abides in his school, a time comes, irremediably, when he is estranged from nature, estranged from life. His knowledge grows, indeed, his world of thought enlarges; but the “thoughts” which he calls his “knowledge” narrow and cramp him! The more he learns to work exclusively with his thoughts, the more he mislearns whence he derives his thoughts. He thinks about things, but he no longer finds his way into things, right into the innermost life of things. He thinks after, not with, not before. He thinks the alien, not his own. He knows names, not souls. Yes, life is so great, so infinite; and the school, our knowledge of life, is so paltry, so limited! Once man stood with his soul in this big wide world. Intimations of its abysses, unfathomable and awful, haunted him. Once man felt his hot cheeks fanned by the breezes of an eternal life of the world, by a divine breath that breathed and blew through the world. Once on some calm crest where mountain kissed sky, one of those blissful moments came over him when he felt himself so small, so great, so alone, so companioned,—inwardly seized by the miracle and mystery of life surrounding him, pervading him, at once bowing him down and lifting him up. Now all this is changed. Now he hears voices, loud, raucous, zealous, parading their wisdom as regards this august wealth of God. They speak, these voices, so wisely and cleverly, concerning that which no man’s wisdom and sagacity has ever plumbed. They out-trump each other with their oceanic learnedness. But once yet again let the soul take a deep breath, and cry, “I am a man, not a scholar. I dare to be a man, not a knower, the masters of the school smother and deaden me with their science of the sublime and free world of the deep and the divine and the eternal,”—let the soul that “thought” has kept from seeing and hearing and feeling, so cry, and how childish, how ridiculously petty, how weak and pathological, will all schoolmasterism come to seem!

Nature is also Art, genuine, true art. It is an inner nature, a soul-nature, a soul-life. This art-life which gushes forth like a spring from secret depths, this enraptures the heart glowing with Dionysiac enthusiasm, and steals over men like sweet images of a dream, which will not fade even from his waking soul. Then it sings in us in a wonderful way, in an unheard-of manner,—in jubilant bliss, aye, in heartbreaking lamentations, longing for death! Life smites the strings of our soul, life itself, and makes them resound in secret and hidden depths. It is this rich, overflowing life which mirrors all its colorful magnificence in the soul, and reveals to us its height and depth in dazzling light or midnight darkness.

But even here, here most of all perhaps, even out of this art men have made a “school” and a schoolmasterism. Men try to measure according to rules—measure what most of all mocks rules. Rules for poetry, rules for song, rules for color, for light and shade, rules for the creation (copying?) of pencil and brush and chisel and square, rules, rules, ever rules—until one would think that art was for the sake of the rules of the school, and not vice versa. There was a time—and for the matter of that, there still is—when the born master had a slim chance and short shrift among the “learned” masters. Who did not know a “school” by whose name he could proudly name himself, thus guaranteeing his art to be artistic; who beheld the world with his own free eyes, unfitted with spectacles by some one of the “masters”; who with listening soul eavesdropped life, asking never what was “written in the law” of art’s scribes and pharisees upon the subject, let him set his house in order, for he must die and not live, at least he must be cast out of the synagogue, excluded from the artists’ guild, he must expect the “masters” to pounce upon him—at least with the hoary weapons of obloquy and ridicule and ostracism and starvation—until all the joy has gone out of his life. Vers libre—did not, does not, the “master” antecedently and dogmatically know how “rotten” that is? Ah, but what if that attitude of the finishedness and finality of art, especially in its form, should replace art and artists with schools and scholars? Are we to have only “masters” of schools, or also Masters who belong to no school, and who cannot be tagged as scholars of another “master.”

Nature, life, this is also religion, genuine, true religion at least. We have not created it in us yet—this overpowering longing and striving to surrender ourselves to another, a higher. To be sure, we have received it as a heritage from our mother. At first a flood of love and longing flowed through our souls from her eyes and heart. But her gift to us was in turn a gift to her. In that gift all love’s beams focused, gathered together, from all the ends of the earth and the eternities. In that gift all life was wedded to the waking spirit—all life, sleeping and dreaming, found its existence. And as this life awoke in us, we called it “inspiration,” we felt that a Stronger had come upon us, against which we could do nothing; we called it happiness, heart, love, God—the name was noise and sound—and yet it was all feeling, veiled in heavenly glow.

Then the name became everything. On this name scribes exercised their wits. They wrote it in their books and taught it in their schools. Then the schoolmasters became the lords of faith. What was once original life was now to be taught and learned—forgetting that while the psychology, or history, or philosophy of religion can be taught, religion cannot be, any more than you can teach grass to grow, or flowers to bloom, or birds to sing, or lovers to love. So, religion came to be a thing of grades, like the “grades” of a school—the more grades, the more religion! At last the scholar in turn becomes a master! Verily, nowhere in the world has schoolmasterism done so much harm as in religion. No scoff of the scoffer, and no sword of the executioner, has dealt so deep and deadly wounds upon the religious life, as has the folly of the wise and the understanding who press their school knowledge and their school system upon men as religious faith, and so overspin the entrance to the garden of the heart with their spider-webs that no one can find the path any more to its bloom and fragrance.

To be sure, objections to all this bristle. Is not the blessing of the school—so this or that objector might urge—so manifest that, on account of the blessing, all its evils might be very well put up with? The school makes the unintelligible intelligible. The school widens the bed of the spiritual life, so that its stream no longer devastatingly overflows its banks. The school builds canals everywhere, that the watering of the land of the human may be as extensive as possible, and the spirit of life be universally fertilized with the achievements of civilization and culture. We may thank our schools that all the world today has learned to read and write. And, for him who can read and write, the way is open to all the treasures of the human spirit—and where is there a civilization that equals ours in the effort to provide schools corresponding to all the spheres of life? Ought we not to bless such effort, promote and support it, with all the means in our power?

Now, looking upon life more seriously and profoundly, we shall not be able to show that the censor of these schools is entirely in the wrong, when he declares that the spirit is perverted and corrupted by them. School is model, is a uniform of the spirit which all individuals are to don and wear. Hence as this school business spreads there is a dying-out of spiritual originality, a monotony of manufactured personality.

Everything that belongs to the average is best conserved by school. The most proper average man is always the best scholar. But all that is above or below the average—this is often the best in a man—decays and finds no nourishment. We have but to look at the whole state of our literature in this country, to see what has become of the art of writing, of authorship, in an age bursting with pride over everybody’s being able to read and write. All the nameless insipidity and thoughtlessness written and printed today, all the mendacity and perversity of feeling, which in novels find their way into hut and salon alike might be happily spared us did not everybody think he could read, and especially write! There is no denying it, a serious question stares at us in the name of the school today. This question is above all questions of school-reform, which seem so important to us, for the improved, nay, the best school remains just—school! And something of schoolmasterism and scholasticism cleaves to school! And therefore Nietzsche was its so bitter foe because he would have men, men who spoke and thought and felt powerfully and not as the scribes! Nietzsche was its foe because he would have among men, personalities, individualities, diversities, not uniformity and identity of spiritual life.

If, now, we have rightly comprehended the force of this censure against the school and its master, we are already in the way to overcome and to heal this school malady. The malady does not inhere in the school as such, but in the false evaluation which we of today attribute to it, and in the dominion which the school exercises over human spirits, by virtue of this false appraisal. We think we can read if we have learned to read in school. But this learning to read has yet to begin! Whoever does not begin it his own self, will never truly learn it at all. We call our schools educational institutions and yet they are altogether imitational institutions, after which the true human education first begins. We do not think of this, that this man whose knowledge still tastes of his school, whose art shows his school, is still stuck in his school, and has not made proper use of his school—which is to apply it; especially to overcome it! Or, rather we think still less! We rest on the laurels of our school, and if we won them we think that we have carried off the warrior’s prize of life. But it is our fault, not the school’s, if the school narrows rather than broadens our vision; if it binds us to its rules instead of releasing us from them. Where are the men who still learn after school, nay, who first begin then to learn what after all is the main thing of all learning—how they can become greater, freer men, independent personalities? How does it come that all stirring and moving of the modern spirit is at the same time an insurrection against some kind of school? How does it come that all creative, path-breaking spirits can begin to create, to live, only when they have snapped the fetters of some school? And how does it come that great discoveries of unknown islands of the human have never been made within, but only without, the schools? Most of all, how does it come that a Christ can speak with power only when he has learned not to speak as the scribes and schoolmasters? The answer in every case is that we are accustomed to expect of the school what, according to its very nature, it cannot do, namely: to give life, to create life. Therefore, it is all-important that we keep the path open, wide open, to the fountain of life in the abyss of the human heart, in the unfathomableness of the world, so that we too may learn to speak with power and not as the scribes; so that our schools may not be diseases to be overcome, for many never overcome during an entire life—but a staff with which we may learn to walk until we shall need staff no more, because our feet have grown strong to bear us on our way during the brief years of our pilgrimage.

My Friend, the Incurable

Choleric Comments on Cacophonies

On the G String

We are sailing in a gondola along exotic shores. Crystal castles, dewy meadows, weeping cypresses, glowing craters.... We pass through the dreamy regions of Shelley and Keats, we envisage the gigantic cosmos of Shakespeare, of Dante, of Milton, of Goethe, we perceive in a haze the purple-crimson crucifixion of Nietzsche, the cruel gloom of Dostoyevsky, the dizzy abysses of Poe, the all-human chaos of Whitman....

We sail on—but ah, our picturesque gondolier! He is so excited, so restless, so loud—we are forced to turn our eyes from the grandiose landscape and follow bewildered our conscientious cicerone. In his anxiety lest we fail to notice the passing “places of importance,” our industrious guide shrieks and yells, wriggles and gesticulates, beats upon our senses, pricks and tickles, and all this he performs to the accompaniment of a mellow mandolin, so sweet, so touching, so exasperating.

We are weary.

With some apprehension I looked forward to Mr. Powys’s book of “Literary Devotions,”[4] for I had the good luck of listening to his lectures. They are unforgettable, those bewitched moments in the darkened Little Theater, where we sat hypnotized by “the galvanized demi-god vibrating in the green light of the stage,” invoking the spirits of the Great. How will those invocations appear, I worried, when congealed in the static book-form, minus the catacomb-atmosphere, minus the serpent-like, mesmerizing cant of the meteoric sorcerer, minus Raymond Johnson’s light-effects? “And, ah! sweet, tender reader,” to use Mr. Powys’s style, my fears came true: the book is a libretto, sans orchestra, sans singer. I know that many of the lecturer’s devotees, especially the worshipping young ladies, will find little difficulty in mentally supplying the libretto with the dynamic personality of the performer; but my imagination is dewinged at the sight of the motionless symmetric lines, and I fail to vocalize the legions of exclamation-marks, the innumerable capital-letters, the profuse superlatives. With a kaleidoscopic velocity the author displays his personal reflections upon the greatest minds of the world; he bends them, he liquifies them, he moulds them, recreates them according to his whim—good, bravissimo! I am the last person to depreciate subjective criticism; I am tolerant enough to digest even such a statement as that Goethe was typically and intrinsically German, or that Nietzsche was thoroughly Christian. It is not Mr. Powys’s What that nauseates me, but his How, his butaforial Grand Style, his monotonous tremolo, his constant air of discovering new planets, his Pateresque worship of beauty which lacks Pater’s aristocratic calm and reservedness, his Oscaresque paradoxicalness deprived of Wilde’s chiselled wit, his continuous ruminating of a limited stock of long, high words, of dizzying adjectives, of saccharine adverbs.

Pray, “sweet, tender reader,” how long could you endure Mischa Elman playing the Minuet in G?

[4] Visions and Revisions, by John Cowper Powys. [G. Arnold Shaw, New York]

And Pippa Dances

Yet there are some who complain about the lack of musical devotion among Americans. Nay, music is getting absolutely too popular—witness the crowded concert-halls, especially the ten-cent-Sunday-concerts arranged by philanthropists for the uplift of the masses. It is significant to observe that the so-called Submerged have learned not only to applaud, but also to hiss, not only to accept with gratitude any sort of “divine” music, but to demand a certain kind of music. And, surely, they well know what they want.

Hauptmann’s Huhn, the personification of the mob, wants the fragile Pippa, the symbol of beauty, to dance for him. She is forced to obey, and is of course crushed to death. And Pippa dances. That omnipotent Huhn who can call down all the muses to come and entertain him, to amuse him, to serve him, to degenerate or to perish! Watch that wonderful creature, the amalgamated American Huhn, making love to music, hugging and caressing her; I shudder at the thought of what will become of gentle Pippa in the choking embrace of her boorish suitor.

Yes, Huhn knows what he wants. He expects of music the same service that he gets from illustrations in popular magazine novels. He comes into an ice-cream parlor and orders Banana-Split plus William Tell on the victrola—so digestible and understandable. Last Sunday I observed a crowd at a ten-cent concert enjoying the Meditation, good-humoredly assisting the soloist by humming and whistling the familiar tune, their faces expressing the satisfaction of victors. And the night before I witnessed the thousands at Orchestra Hall, the Huhns in sweaters and in décolleté-gowns and in dress-suits, going mad over that vulgarity, Mr. Carpenter’s precise reproduction of barking dogs and of a policeman’s heavy walk. Huhn demands music which he is capable of interpreting in every-day terms, which transparently reflects his little emotions, his petty joys, his sirupy sorrows, his after-meal dreams. Is it to be wondered that Huhn hisses and grumbles when the conductor hesitatingly smuggles in such a risky novelty as Scriabin’s Prometheus? What is to Huhn the Poem in Fire, the emerging of a dazed humanity out of Chaos, the collision of gloom and light, the birth of the Winged Man? What is Hecuba to him! And since Pippa must dance, the obliging conductor hastens to appease the growling Huhn by the taffy of Bruch’s concerto.

In recent years some inspired rebels among painters and sculptors have striven towards the elevating of their arts to the highest level, that of music, the noblest medium for the expression of aesthetic emotions, nobler than words or brush or chisel. Recall Kandinsky’s color-symphonies. Alas, music is not any longer a daughter of Olympus; she has been dragged by Huhn from the pure atmosphere of the mountain summit down into the damp valley. Wagner began the prostitution of music by making it subservient to words; he has won the sanction and acclamation of the crowd. Then followed the orgy of Program-music, those wood-cut illustrations, those rich gravies that were invented to sweeten Mr. Huhn’s meals. Now an enterprising Chicago merchant, Mr. Carpenter, has presented us with an apotheosis of vulgarity to the hilarious triumph of the appreciative crowd, to the delight of our “independent” music-critics—“that strange creature, the American music-critic,” to quote a naive English journal.

And Pippa dances.

Ibn Gabirol.



Margaret C. Anderson

Ideas make their impressions very slowly, but they travel very fast. That is why Gabrilowitsch’s playing of the piano on March 21 was two different kinds of revelation to two different kinds of people. To a great many it was a rich fulfillment of promise; to a few it was the end of something that had had a great beginning.

The trouble is that there’s a new standard to reckon with. We used to argue that what a man had to say was more important than the way he said it. Then we reversed that, claiming that a man may say anything provided he say it well. Then the socialistic school tried to go back to the first premise, but what they were really groping for was the new standard—which is simply this: A man may still say anything he wishes and if he says it well it will be art—provided he really has something to say. Tennyson knew how to say things well, but he missed being an artist because he had nothing to say. On what basis do we establish such a criterion? Not merely on that of “ideas,” because you may have no ideas at all and yet have profound reactions; and not merely on that of “socialism” or sincerity or ideals; and not—oh well, I mean to get through this discussion without dragging in the artist’s alleged monopoly of the eternal verities. B. Russell Herts got very close to what I mean when he said that Arnold Bennett missed real bigness because he had only a great and mighty skill without having a great and mighty soul.

Well—you can’t make Art, we think now, unless you belong in the great-and-mighty-soul class. And what does that mean, exactly? Perhaps the whole thing can be explained under the term “enlarged consciousness.” I wish Dora Marsden would discuss it in one of those clear-headed articles she writes for The Egoist. The confusion in all our discussions of matter and manner, of subject and form, of what determines genius, has come about in two main ways: first, because we have made Taste a synonym for Art—so that if we like Beethoven or Mozart we don’t accept Wagner or Max Reger, or if we like classic rules we call romanticism “bad art”; and second, because we have decided who had great and mighty souls on an ethical basis. We said that Browning and Tennyson had them—chiefly because they talked a great deal about God, I suppose; which only shows how confusing it is to judge that way; it leaves no room for the distinction that Browning had and Tennyson hadn’t. It’s all as silly as insisting that the cubists ought to be considered great if they are sincere. Grant that they are. To be sincere is easy; to say what you believe is simple; but to believe something worth saying is the test of an art. Sincere stupid people are as bad as any other stupid ones—and more boring.

I don’t know what else to say about it; but I know you can recognize that “enlarged consciousness” in the first bars of a pianist’s playing, or in a singer’s beginning of a song. Paderewski has it to such a degree that he can play wrong notes and it doesn’t matter; and Duse has it, and Kreisler, and Isadora Duncan, and Ludwig Wüllner, who breaks your heart with his songs though he hasn’t even a singing voice. And the disappointment in Gabrilowitsch is that he hasn’t.

I went to hear him play Chopin and Schumann with positive excitement. Godowsky, with all his perfectly worked-out theories, always leaves me with the feeling that he would be an artist if he weren’t an empty shell; and Bauer, with all his beautiful work, leaves me with a sense of how he might play if a fire could be started inside him. I expected that fire in Gabrilowitsch—partly because I heard him play ten years ago and partly, I suppose, because he is Russian. But the ten years have left him unstirred. It’s as though the man in him had stood curiously still; as though life had passed him. He is like a poet who has somehow escaped unhurt; or a technician who perfects his expression and then wonders what he shall express. As for his form, he does many exquisite things; for instance, his Des Abends, which was extremely poetic and which seems to be the type of thing he likes to play most. And he played the D Flat Prelude with an exquisite perspective—and then a Chopin Waltz without any perspective at all. Technically his worst feature is his chord-work—Bauer’s chords sound like an organ in comparison. But Bauer knows how to touch the piano for deep, “dark” effects, and Gabrilowitsch appears to like “bright” sounds. He takes his chords with a high, tight wrist and brings them out by pounding. These things are not done any more; the piano has shown new tone-capacities since a few of the moderns abandoned, or modified, what is supposed to be the “straight” Letschitizky method.

Well, all this wouldn’t matter so much if Gabrilowitsch had the ultimate inspiration.... Somehow I keep feeling that the world is waiting for its next great pianist.

Bauer and Casals

Two sorts of listeners heard the second Bauer-Casals recital at Orchestra Hall: Those who love great music and those who love to babble about great music. Intermediate classes of the mildly interested, the botching amateurs, the self-adoring students, et al., stayed away, for Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Cesar Franck, in sonata form, have nothing for them. Would that the critics and the exuberant school-girls might forever remain away on such occasions, and choose for their frothing something less than the best.

Beethoven was not “dry” for a moment. One suspects that this composer is perpetually slandered by the “traditional” handling of zealous academics; for Bauer and Casals, with their wonted beauty of piano- and violoncello-playing, made his music warm and pleasantly expansive, with no sacrifice of dignity. He sounded almost romantic in the best sense of the word. This was an experience. And Mendelssohn—what is more truly elegant than his musical grace, or more delightful than his delicate humour—a playfulness so seldom discovered by performers! Humour that becomes subtler than a horse-laugh is beyond the ken of “professional” musicians, although first-rank composers never lack a refined sense of fun, a keen relish for jollity, for all that it may be in ethereal realms. In Cesar Franck there is perhaps the very sublimate of humour, the mystic smile of faith. One cannot escape a feeling of the deeply religious in this French master. A new word should be coined to designate his music; it might be formed by transposing the “passionate” of passionate love and the “fervent” of fervent piety, and by some such amalgamation of cool, impersonal, austere love with deepest faith become sensuous, impassioned, and lovely, the characterizing word is secured. Franck’s music, surcharged with intense experience, renders unnecessary any apology for this left-handed use of English. It is but poorly spoken of in orthodox terms, since it embodies strange blendings of emotion, both common and uncommon—emotions unified and crystallized into the expression of a genius. Cesar Franck’s love, apparently, flowed as readily and as warmly toward God as toward ravishing, although possibly abstract, woman.

This is doubtless a considerable, if not impossible, reach for the imagination of the patiently-groping reader, but it would have been less difficult with Bauer and Casals for interpreters. The ’cellist’s playing was at once sane and poetic, clean-cut and well-rounded; it was chaste without chill, voluptuous without a debauch. And Bauer, master-pianist indeed, as his press-agent styles him, brought from the piano more than enough kinds of tone to shame the monochromatic theory about the restricted nature of the piano. The most individual feature of his art is the production of solemn, organ-like chords in the lower register—chords wonderfully sonorous and rich, powerful enough to obliterate the memory of bedlam. Who cares if he smudges a “run?” This god can sound chords. He redeems a host of piano-jolters.

Herman Schuchert.

Book Discussion


Tales of Two Countries, by Maxim Gorky. [B. W. Huebsch, New York.]

Gorky’s genius was meteoric. It flashed in the nineties for a brief period with an extraordinary brilliance, illuminating a theretofore unknown world of “has beens,” of Nietzschean Bosyaki. Gorky’s genius, we may say, was elemental and local; it revealed a great spontaneous force on the part of the writer in a peculiar atmosphere, on “the bottom” of life, in the realm of care-free vagabonds. As soon as Gorky trespassed his circle he fell into the pit of mediocrity and began to produce second rate plays, sermon-novels, political sketches, and similar writings that may serve as excellent material for the propaganda-lecturer. The present volume may be looked upon as Gorky’s swan-song, if we consider his ill health; in fact he outlived himself long ago as an artist, and in these Tales we witness the hectic flush of the autumn of his career. The exotic beauty of Italy appears under the pen of the Capri invalid in a morbid, consumptive aspect; the author is too self-conscious, too much aware of the fact of his moribund existence to see the intrinsic in life. The tendency to preach socialism further augments his artistic daltonism, which is particularly evident in the Russian Tales. The doomed man casts a weary glance over his distant native land, and he sees there nothing but dismal black, hopeless pettiness and retrogression. The satire is blunt and fails the mark; the allegories are of the vulgar, wood-cut variety. Gorky has been dead for many years.


Plaster Saints, by Israel Zangwill. [The Macmillan Company, New York.]

The old situation: A revered priest, saint abroad, sinner at home; the old sin—adultery; the old moral about casting the first stone. What is new is the clergyman’s point of view that a “plaster saint” has no right to preach righteousness, that only one who has gone through temptation, sin, and contrition may be fit for the post of God’s shepherd.

A sea captain who has never made a voyage—the perfection of ignorance—and you trust him with the ship. You take a youth—the fool of the family for choice—keep him in cotton-wool under a glass case, cram him with Greek and Latin, constrict his neck with a white choker, clap a shovel hat on his sconce, and lo! he is God’s minister!

... When I look at my old sermons, I blush at the impudence and ignorance with which I, an innocent at home, dared to speak of sin to my superiors in sinfulness.

It is all very well, if we grant that society is still in need of sermons on chastity, if the Hebraic ideal of monogamy is still the most important problem in the life of a community, to be discussed and advocated from the pulpit, while ignoring the economic and social complexities of the present age. But can we grant this anachronism? Is it not high time to follow the policy of laisser faire in regard to individual morals? Mr. Zangwill appears in the unenvious position of one quixotically breaking into an open door; yet he has been accused of possessing a sense of humor.


Anthology of Magazine Verse, 1914; selected and published by William S. Braithwaite.

The proper way to review this collection of verse would be, no doubt, to quote some of the best and some of the worst, make a learned and perfectly empty comment upon so-and-so, and say that the book was better or worse than last year’s compilation. But Mr. Braithwaite has sifted and re-sifted the entire crop of poems until there is in his book nothing but the best, such as it is. And the general trend of the volume is scarcely a matter for enthusiasm. A fair conclusion must be that magazine editors were frequently hard pressed for copy. As a faithful and stupidly patriotic American, one should ponder long over certain attempts to found new “American” verse-forms; but it is to be regretted, possibly, that the most enjoyable poems in the collection are written upon foreign or mediaeval topics. As a true aesthete, one ought to reek with admiration for nameless or badly-labelled sonnets that, for some reason, fail to delight. And, as an exponent of politico-poetic modernity, there should be wild raving over the “radical” art of formless form; but this also is shamefully wanting in one’s reaction to this anthology. A number of intelligent humans have been observed in their expectant approach to this collection; they closed the book with neither smiles nor frowns. It is difficult to forget that good poetry will bear re-reading, or prove its worth by clinging to the memory; and it is still more difficult to remember that art has only to be new, rude, or extreme to be called wonderful. Why is this?

John Cowper Powys on Henry James

(Some more jottings from one of Mr. Powys’s lectures.)

Henry James is a revealer of secrets, but never does he entirely draw the veil. He has the most reluctance, the most reverence of all the great novelists. He is always reluctant to draw the last veil. This great, plump-handed moribund figure, waits—afraid. All of his work is a mirror—never a softening or blurring of outlines, but a medium through which one sees the world as he sees it. In reading his works one never forgets the author. All his people speak in his character. All is attuned to his tone from beginning to end.

He uses slang with a curious kind of condescension,—all kinds of slang,—with a tacit implicit apology to the reader. So fine a spirit—he is not at home with slang.

His work divides itself into three periods—best between 1900 and 1903. In reading him approximate 1900 as the climacteric period.

His character delineation is superb. Ralph in The Portrait of a Lady, is the type of those who have difficulty in asserting themselves and are in a peculiar way hurt by contact with the world. Osborne—in the same book—is one of those peculiarly hard, selfish, artistic, super-refined people who turn into ice whatever they touch. He personifies the cruelty of a certain type of egoism—the immorality of laying a dead hand upon life. Poe has that tendency to lay a dead hand upon what he cares for and stop it from changing. Who of us with artistic sensibilities is not afflicted with this immorality? This is the unpardonable sin—more than lust—more than passion—a “necrophilism,” to lay the dead hand of eternal possession upon a young head.

Nothing exists but civilization for H. J. There has been no such writer since Vergil. And for him (H. J.) there is but one civilization—European. He is the cosmopolitan novelist. He describes Paris as no Frenchman does! Not only Paris, but America, Italy, anywhere the reader falls into a delicious passivity to the synthesis of nations. He knows them all and is at home in all. He is the novelist of society. Society—which is the one grand outrage; it is not pain—it is not pity; it is society which is the outrage upon personality, the permanent insult, the punishment to life. As ordinary people we hate it often—as philosophers and artists we are bitter against it, as hermits we are simply on the rack. But it is through their little conventionalities that H. J. discovers people, human beings, in society. He uses these conventionalities to portray his characters. He hears paeans of liberation, hells of pity and sorrow, and distress as people signal to one another across these little conventionalities. He fills the social atmosphere with rumors and whispers of people toward one another.

In describing city and country he is equally great. He does not paint with words, but simply transports you there. Read The Ambassadors for French scenery! Everything is treated sacramentally. He is the Walter Pater of novelists with an Epicurean sense for little things—for little things that happen every day.

There is another element in his work that is psychic and beyond—magnetic and beyond. His people are held together by its vibrations. Read The Two Magics.

H. J. is the apostle to the rich. Money! that accursed thing! He understands its importance. It lends itself in every direction to the tragedy of being. He understands the art of the kind of life in which one can do what one wants. He understands the rich American gentleman in Europe—touches his natural chastity, his goodness, the single-hearted crystalline depths of his purity. Read The Reverberator.

In the Two Hemispheres we find a unique type of woman—a lady from the top of her shining head to the tips of her little feet—exquisite, and yet an adventuress.

This noble, distinguished, massive intelligence is extraordinarily refined and yet has a mania for reality. He risks the verge of vulgarity and never falls into it. He redeems the commonplace.

To appreciate the mise en scène of his books—his descriptions of homes—read The Great Good Place. He has a profound bitterness for stupid people. He understands amorous, vampirish women who destroy a man’s work. Go to H. J. for artist characters—for the baffled atrophied artists who have souls but will never do anything.

Read The Tragic Muse. Note the character of Gabriel Nash, who is Whistler, Oscar, Pater all together and something added—the arch ghost—the moth of the cult of art.

The countenance of H. J. says that he might have been the cruelest and is the tenderest of human beings. To him no one is so poor, so unwanted a spirit but could fill a place that archangels might strive for. James is a Sennacherib of Assyria, a Solomon, a pasha before whom ivory-browed vassals prostrate themselves. He is the Solomon to whom many Queens of Sheba have come and been rejected, the lover of chastity, of purity in the natural state.

He is difficult to read, this grand, massive, unflinching, shrewd old realist, because of his intellect—a distinguished, tender, subtle spirit like a plant. And in the end I sometimes wonder whether H. J. himself in imagination does not stroll beyond the garden gate up the little hill and over to the churchyard, where, under the dank earth he knows that the changing lineaments mold themselves into the sardonic grin of humanity.

The Reader Critic

William Thurston Brown, Chicago:

I have just read your article on Mrs. Ellis’s lecture, and I wish to congratulate you upon its sentiments. Although I did not hear Mrs. Ellis, some of my friends did, and their report quite agrees with your judgment.

I must confess I did not expect much from her to begin with. From interviews and quotations it seemed clear that she was simply one who had never faced realities frankly. Besides, her rather mawkish “religiousness” betrayed a mind unfitted to deal adequately with such a problem.

I wish also to congratulate you upon your recognition of the genuine worth of Emma Goldman. I had thought you were in danger of making a fetich of her, but this article shows that you appreciate the things for which she stands.

I cannot believe that the superiority of Emma Goldman to such people as Mrs. Ellis—I mean in the discernment of real values—is due to a difference of psychology, or rather of temperament, but rather to the difference of point of view from which Miss Goldman has seen the problems of human life. Her experience as a protagonist of Labor in its struggle for freedom from exploitation has been a vital factor, I think, in her development.

All good wishes to The Little Review.

Albrecht C. Kipp, Indianapolis:

Some time ago a friend of yours, and mine, under guise of a Yuletide remembrance, innocently and unapprehensive of the consequences no doubt, presented me with a year’s subscription to the magazine which you purport to edit. Our mutual acquaintance made some point of the fact that you were, as I aspire to be, a Truth-Seeker, and also alluded, in passing, to a feminine pulchritude which you possessed, not ordinarily a concomitant of an intellectual curiosity sufficiently keen to delve to the bottom of things material and spiritual. I therefore looked forward with undeniable expectation to a gratification of an insatiable desire to view the remains of many idols and statues still unbroken, which have been laboriously erected by the prejudice, credulity and ignorance of mankind for eons. Permit me to apprise you of my keen disappointment in perusing what I have found ensconced between the covers of your magazine.

I was given to understand that you were a quasi-missionary, in the most elastic sense of that word, and as one who is sincerely trying to fathom your mission, if one you have, I am writing to ascertain what it may be, because, owing either to an utter failure of a somewhat impoverished sense of humor or a too ordinary quantum of common sense, I seem to miss what you are driving at. If your magazine is designed to interest a coterie of semi-crazed, halfbaked, “fin de siècle” ideologists, I would appreciate a recognition of your object. To be quite frank with you, however, I do not yet consider myself in the proper frame of mind to be classified in that category of readers without demur. I am only a humble Searcher for the Truth in Life in all its phases and being congenitally opposed to the baleful spreading of “Buschwa,” I seem to find my mental equipoise disturbed by an attempt to diagnose by any rational standard most of the alleged literary ebullitions which find place in your Review.

If we were still living in the Stone Age and reading matter of any sort were still a scarce article, it might be necessary to put up with the poetical balderdash which you publish. But having the daily newspapers to contend with and other pernicious thiefs of valuable time, it seems a heinous offense to a perfectly respectable mind to offer it, the unripe or overripe, mayhap, products of insane mentalities.

No doubt the fault is entirely that of an unschooled intellect, but at that, I have to take my mind as it is. Just as it is unable to fathom this Christian Science drivel, in that same measure does it utterly fail to be touched by what has appeared in The Little Review of the past four months.

Let me assure you that I have made an honest effort to understand your viewpoint. Unless, however, I am cleared up as to what your aim and goal may be, I am compelled, in self defense, to request you to kindly discontinue sending your magazine to me. It may deflour my joy of life and ruin a saving and virtuous sense of the funny. You are too kindhearted, I am sure, as our mutual acquaintance informs me, to be an accessory before the fact to such an ungracious crime.

Sada Cowan, New York:

Your article on Mrs. Havelock Ellis was wonderful! Mrs. Ellis failed here ... just as in Chicago. I admire the clear and concise way in which you illumined the reason of her failure.

There is so much work to be done it seems wicked that a woman, to whom the world is so ready and willing to listen, who has the gift of poetic expression and direct logical thinking, should waste her powers. It is as though she held understanding and wisdom in her hands—tightly clenched—then when she should hold out those gifts to the world, she opened wide her fingers ... here a flash—there a glimmer!—And all vanishes!

E. C. A. Smith, Grosse Ile, Michigan:

I was delighted with your critique on Mrs. Ellis, not that I feel she fell as short as you seem to think, but because your own article made a beginning on things which must be said. I also emphatically endorse your views on enabling the poor to restrict their birthrate, not on sentimental grounds, but because I know by experience it would be a wise economy for the state. It is natural for wholesome people to want children; the rise in the labor market caused by the dropping off in production by the cowardly and incompetent would be amply compensated by the reduction in the ranks of economically valueless dependents. It would take less, per capita, to support orphan and insane asylums, dispensaries, and jails—not to speak of the wasteful drain of unestimated sporadic charity. The contention that it would contribute to immorality is absolutely absurd to anyone who has tried rescue work—girls have child after child, undeterred by pain or shame, just as the mentally deficient in other lines injure themselves in their frenzies.

The only way one has a right to judge life is to look at it from the inside. Before I read Havelock Ellis I was unable to take this view of the subjects you so sanely and clearly project on our imaginations. After laying down his book I found my only shock came from some of the methods employed in “curing” these unfortunates. From the histories of cases he cites, I should consider it fair to conclude that the nervous organization of inverts tended to average below par—as is the usual medical view. This may be a psychic, not physical, result. Personally, I cannot see any effect the reading of that material has had on me except to make me more wisely charitable in my views. It has broadened my ideals, without weakening them. It has put a new value on normality. It has not modified my personal theory of love any more than the not-entirely aesthetic conditions of carrying and bearing my children did. There are points about that sort of experience—especially the attitude of the inexperienced—which makes the prude’s attitude to the whole broad question ridiculous. Another generation will regard ours as we do the Victorians—my shade will grind its spirit teeth to hear them laugh.

I am not sure your point of view as a writer rather than a speaker does not make you overlook legitimate limitations in Mrs. Ellis’s position. A speaker can often suggest far more than she actually utters; the conclusions people are inspired to make for themselves are of far greater value than if they were cast forth with inspired eloquence. To antagonize an audience by forcing your point is to lose efficiency. In print one has not the personal element so strongly and immediately to consider. Perhaps she was subtler than Emma Goldman, but not so much weaker as you think.

The Little Review is the most satisfactory source of mental stimulation I have yet discovered. If I do not always agree with it I at least have the sense of arguing with a friend whose intellect I respect—never did I feel that for any other publication. And I love freshness and freedom and enthusiasm as I love youth itself—they’re the qualities that promise growth.

Stella Worden Smith, Monte Vista Heights, Cal.:

For six months or so I have been blessed with the presense of your Little Review. Many times I have wanted to tell you so. It is a matter of deep gratitude that at last one can open the pages of a magazine and feel that sense of freedom and incomparable beauty that one does in, say, looking out at a sunset across the mountains—and no more hampering! You give new horizons, fresh inspiration, and revive the creative impulse that is more likely to be snuffed out than stimulated when one peruses the majority of our “best” magazines. Forgive me if I seem over enthusiastic, but it springs from a gratitude born of great need. And you have filled it.

Your review of Mr. Powys’s lectures have carried me back four years into a period when I was studying music in New York with a Norwegian singer, and she and I listened to him at the Brooklyn Institute week by week! Never will I forget it. And she—well, she is a genius herself, an interpreter of Norwegian folk songs—and Powys lit her soul until it flamed forth like a beacon! If you heard his Shelley, I think you saw the veritable incarnation of that transcendent spirit....

Then I listened to him again in Buffalo, last year, on Keats. And the audience, mostly women (God forgive them!) seemed like school children—no, I will not confound such innocent souls with the inert mass that confronted him! And this is our culture!

I think the spirit of your magazine is to other magazines what Powys is to other lecturers. He makes you forget that he is such. You become part of his theme, or is it, himself? And so it is I seem both to lose and find myself when I read the pages of The Little Review.


The “Little Review” Gives a Party!

On April 27, at 8:15 P. M., the desperados who have helped to perpetrate The Little Review will entertain those who have subscribed to it—and any others who are interested—in the Fine Arts Building. Having bored you in print for over a year, they are eager to do so in person.

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Every Number of THE EGOIST Contains an Admirable Editorial
by Dora Marsden

In addition to the regular contributors, James Joyce, Muriel Ciolkowska and Richard Aldington, the March Number contains an article on James Elroy Flecker by Harold Monro and poems by Paul Fort, prince des poètes, and F. S. Flint.

May, 1915

This Number will be entirely devoted—apart from the Editorial—to the works of the young Anglo-American group of poets, known as “The Imagists,” and will contain:

Poems by Richard Aldington, H. D., J. G, Fletcher, F. S. Flint, D. H. Lawrence, Amy Lowell, Harold Monro, Marianne Moore, May Sinclair, Clara Shanafelt.

A History of Imagism by F. S. Flint.

A Review of “Some Imagist Poets, 1915,” by Harold Monro.

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Transcriber’s Notes

Advertisements were collected at the end of the text.

The table of contents on the title page was adjusted in order to reflect correctly the headings in this issue of The Little Review.

In “Extreme Unction”, the line “The Girl. You don’t know?” was obviously duplicated. After comparison with another edition, the second occurrence was removed.

In the letters to the Editor (“The Reader Critic”), the Editor seems to have left spelling variations uncorrected. They are not corrected here either.

The original spelling was mostly preserved. A few obvious typographical errors were silently corrected. All other changes are shown here (before/after):