« PreviousContinue »
the New York Bobbs-Merrill — in the persons of young Thomas Coward, squash player of note, and Herbert S. Baker was doing its share of entertaining at a farewell luncheon to Dr. William E. Barton, before he sailed for Europe. Dr. Barton has made a lifelong study of Lincoln, and his two volume Life to be published this spring represents the fruits of careful research. At the luncheon were Alexander Black, Dr. Albert E. Wiggam, and Professor Nathaniel Stephenson. Several Lincoln volumes are appearing this season several each season as a matter of fact. Jesse Weik of Greencastle, Indiana, told us that more books had been written and published concerning Abraham Lincoln than any other historical personage except Napoleon. It is Mr. Weik who collaborated with Lincoln's partner, William Herndon, in the writing of the Herndon and Weik Life of Lincoln. "Lincoln trusted old man Herndon", Mr. Weik said, "because he knew that Herndon wasn't ambitious for office." Mr. Weik has a shock of white hair, he is short and stout and quick-moving. He darts at a bookcase and pulls out a treasure to show you. His library and office, His library and office, with its fireplace, its picture of Lincoln, its photograph of Coolidge, leaves little doubt of political leanings. Then one learns that he has written a history of the Republican party. Anecdote after anecdote flows from a rich store. "Most of my collection is in New York City being catalogued", he explained, and told us that he had been seeing much of Senator Beveridge, who is now working on a large Life of Lincoln. Mr. Weik himself will probably soon write a Life of Herndon. It is a work which should be done, and Mr. Weik knew Herndon better than most other persons. "I've
one thing I'll show you!" He sprang to the wall and came back triumphant with a volume of Holmes's poems. "Oliver Wendell Holmes knew that there was one of his poems that Lincoln loved, and he wanted to find out which one it was, so he asked old man Herndon, who remembered, 'The Last Leaf'. I wrote Holmes, and here's the letter he wrote and the book he sent me." There it was, with its curious linking to the past. We gathered that Mr. Weik does not believe all the Lincoln legends, that he thinks Lincoln was treated with rather more respect and dignity in Springfield than is generally supposed. "They didn't call him 'Abe"", he insists. "Why, he used to call Mr. Herndon 'Billy'; but Herndon never called him anything but 'Mr. Lincoln'." What a curious pair the two partners must have been!
We have often tried to figure out our relation to Alexander Black, the author of "Stacey", a book which we have found vastly interesting. Now Mr. Black has been adopted by a certain club of ladies as club husband, and we have been adopted as club son. Does that make us - well, what does it make us? Alexander Black did not start writing novels until he was fairly well along in years. Then he wrote "The Great Desire" and it was received with enthusiasm. "Stacey" in our opinion is a better book. Its author has keen wit and graceful eloquence. He always makes a good speech, and he is always interested and kind. Long life as a newspaper man has not destroyed his charm of style in writing, or his leisurely manner of life outside his office. It always annoys us a bit when some young college boy says, "Won't it ruin my style if I go into journalism?" That's
what certain college professors not worth the name think. If anyone has a style it can't be ruined, and most of us who haven't won't come to any great harm in the offices of print and ink. Another author whose book may be found on the season's list (and, we prophesy, very soon on the best seller lists) is A. Hamilton Gibbs. Arthur Gibbs, as has been told in these columns heretofore, is a brother of Cosmo Hamilton and of Sir Philip Gibbs. He served during the war with distinction, came to this country as an actor, and remained as author and assistant to one of our large literary agents. Short, dark, quiet, positive, a soldier still in his manner, with little of the actor left, he looks entirely unlike the tall sedate Cosmo, or the slight, nervous Philip. He is deeper, somehow, than either of them. He plays a good game of golf and likes a good story. His book on the war, "Gun Fodder", is one of the finest productions of the conflict.
From our St. Louis friends, more especially from Jane Francis Winn, we hear good news of local authors. We hear, for example, that:
Louis Dodge, whose "Runaway Woman", published a few years ago, was characteristic of his quaint and humorous style, has spent the last six months at the historic old town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, so reminiscent of the French occupation in the state. He has written an article about the town which will be published in "Scribner's Magazine", and has gathered material that will one day be used for a novel. This winter he is visiting with his brother at Dardenelle, Arkansas, a beautiful mountain town, and will work upon what he describes as his great work, a novel of the time of Christ. Mr. Dodge has arrived at that happy stage of life when it is possible for him to write when and what he pleases, and this work will be purely for his own pleasure, whether it appeals to the popular taste or not.
Temple Bailey, whose "Peacock Feathers" has been one of the best sellers of the
year, has spent the winter at Pinehurst, where she is working upon her new novel. While Miss Bailey's vocation is that of a writer of fiction, her avocation is devotion to her mother, who accompanies her wherever she goes and is a charming, cultivated woman, frail physically, but sturdy intellectually. Miss Bailey reads her manuscript to her mother as she writes it and "talks it over" with her.
While in St. Louis Miss Bailey is an ardent Red Cross worker, spending a great deal of her time at the Marine Hospital for disabled veterans. She took an active part in the Christmas celebration there. În fact, with her home duties and her philanthropic work, it is always a wonder to her friends that she gets time to write as much as she does.
Arthur E. Bostwick, St. Louis librarian, whose published books are so numerous, read an interesting critical paper at a recent meeting of the St. Louis Authors' Club on the subject of English authors who write about Americans, with special reference to Stephen Graham. Mr. Bostwick, by the way, goes to China very soon in the interests of library work, and one may expect something interesting in the way of a book when he returns.
The St. Louis Writers' Guild held a Poetry Contest during the month December, awarding prizes and honorable mention to three of its members. The announcing of the prizes was made the occasion for the annual dinner and entertainment, all of which was original. Mrs. Margretta Scott Lawler, whose poems have appeared in many of the leading magazines, wrote a play called "Snow", a comedy with a Russian background. The principal part was taken by Miss Shirley Seifert, the talented young magazine writer. The play was an admirable bit of writing of its kind and Miss Seifert interpreted it quite as admirably.
The other day we told Sidney Howard that out in a western university they were solemnly studying one of the stories in his new volume, "Three Flights Up", and considering it the finest short story of recent years. They never even knew that he is also author of one of the year's most successful plays, "They Knew What They Wanted". That seemed to please him. After all, there is something peculiarly your own about a story. In a play, the actors have their part in the crea
tion. Howard didn't say that, how-parently is a story of American ship
ever, and probably he never thought it. We went into the New York Public Library with him, where he is at work gathering material about old Philadelphia for his novel. What an extraordinary place the reading room of the Library is on a cold day like this. Practically every seat taken, and everyone reading too, hundreds and hundreds of them. Mr. Howard had come upon a nice item during the morning which we insisted upon being shown. It was in a paper read before the City Historical Society of Philadelphia in 1907. It seems that in 1779 a law was passed forbidding theatrical performances. This, however, did not daunt the American Theatrical Company, who announced that they would give a series of "Concerts and Lectures". There is always a way of getting around the blue laws. The wise ones of this ancient company apparently put their heads together in those days and decided that they were wiser than the law. They announced "The School for Scandal" as "Comic Lecture in Five Parts, on the Pernicious Vice of Scandal", while "Hamlet" was billed as "A Moral and Instructive tale called 'Filial Piety' exemplified in the History of the Prince of Denmark". So at an early date did the spirit of Thespians defy the Puritans, or perhaps in this case the Quakers.
self to that success by wile and by hard work, got his first job while he knew practically nothing of draftsmanship, and studied on the side, using various strategies to keep the position. The tale of one of his first efforts is a nice one. It seems that the foreman knew no more than he about drawing, so he depended on Forgione's knowledge. The man who was to make the construction from the drawing was old fashioned and didn't understand blueprints, so he went ahead and made the construction without following the drawing. Thus, by leaning on each other, they achieved success through ignorance. A nice fable that, although somewhat immoral in its conclusions. Forgione has written poems and short stories, and has tried his hand at musical compositions. He is ambitious and wideawake. "When do you write?" we asked. "Evenings and Sundays," was the reply, "like most other people who have a job, too." He has another novel nearly finished, a third started, and has almost completed several plays.
All of which is highly commendable – it is refreshing to find so much vitality. After all, writing and keeping a job also is useful if it can be done, for often the job gives material for the writing. However, we understand equally the plight of the people who want to write and yet are too weary to do so when they return from the day's labors that finding of any excuse to convince the mind that tonight is not the night to write. Well do we know it. But that method never wrote a novel yet.
Why more public spirited citizens do not conceive the idea of buying editions of books and presenting them to worthy institutions and sections of the public, we don't know. It is certainly an intelligent and worthwhile philanthropy. Eldridge R. Johnson of Camden, New Jersey, has recently ordered a special edition of ten thousand copies of James M. Beck's "The Constitution of the United States". He did this so that schools and libraries in all parts of the country might possess a copy of it. The President of the United States has written a special foreword for the edition, commending both the book and Mr. Johnson's spirit in making the gift. President Coolidge says, in part, in his foreword:
It is of first importance that the study of the Constitution should be an essential part of the education of the American youth. The public spirit of an eminent American, Eldridge R. Johnson, in making possible a wide distribution among educational institutions of James M. Beck's "Constitution of the United States", deserves public recognition and commendation.
The Constitution is not self-perpetuating. If it is to survive, it will be because it has public support. Such support is not a passive but an active operation. It means making adequate sacrifice to maintain what is of general benefit.
The Constitution of the United States is the final refuge of every right that is enjoyed by any American citizen. So long as it is observed, those rights will be secure. Whenever it falls into disrespect or disre
pute, the end of orderly government, as we have known it for more than one hundred and twenty-five years, will be at hand. The Constitution represents a government of law. There is only one other authority and that is a government of force. Americans must make their choice between these two. One signifies justice and liberty: the other, tyranny and oppression. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.
The entire smoking car of a train running through western Pennsylvania suddenly became violent over a matter intellectual. "S-c-a-r-a-b", shouted the large man in the light grey suit to the lounging brakeman. "There ain't no such word", insisted one. "It's a town in Africa. I know. My wife looked it up the other night!" volunteered another. A small quiet young man with a small quiet voice ventured the opinion that maybe it was a stone beetle. "Ha, ha, ha!" chorused the crowd. "Stone beetle." "Says here, 'an Egyptian token"" the speaker poked the young man in the ribs. "Hear the little squirt! 'Scarab' ain't no word I tell you. You got the wrong word." So, the cross word puzzle progresses across the length and breadth of the land. The novelist and poet Clement Wood, originally of Birmingham, Alabama, now of Hastings-on-Hudson, where he has not quite lost lingual characteristics of the south the novelist and - informs poet, as we started to say us that he has made four cross word puzzle books. That's quite a few. He has also written and sold a large number of poems recently, has a book on American poetry about to be published, and has completed several new novels. We think it was several. Clement Wood is one of these violent black haired southerners. He can be quite as pleasant as the next man, yet he occasionally rises to his feet in a
place like the Poetry Society of America and uses his voice in protest such as is seldom heard in ancient and honorable gatherings. Deep in our soul we know that if we came from the south instead of the north we'd probably do the same thing. The protesters, the violent ones, they have their places. They serve to keep the rest of us a little disturbed, and it's a good thing not to be too comfortable. We liked Mr. Wood's book "Nigger" better than many another story of the same general sort. We find his poetry filled with vigor. He told us that he sang Negro spirituals the other day to a company including Zuloaga and Stefansson. We heard him sing them once, too. Surely the famous Spaniard will take back to the land of sunshine and bull fights memories of curious and yet melodious bellowings. Most of all we are grateful to Clement Wood for convincing us that a poet can be strenuous.
Every time we go to Cleveland we miss Ted Robinson, but this time we succeeded in talking to him over the phone. At any rate, he has promised to send us notes of Cleveland authors. Cleveland has proved itself to be an amazingly live place intellectually, with its tremendous reception of “The Miracle", its fine clubs, its paying little theatre, its real personality as a town. Here are a few gossip bits from that enterprising city!
A catalogue of the armor collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the beautiful books of the season. It is published by the Museum, and written by Helen Ives Gilchrist, Cleveland author and art expert. The book (which is the second notable volume to be issued by the Museum) is a handsome volume in handmade paper, bound in white vellum and marbled paper and illustrated with more than fifty full page photogravure plates and many small drawings in the text the latter, the work of Theodore Sizer of the Museum. Miss
Gilchrist first began the study of armor while at work at the Museum. She later continued research in France, and secured her Master's degree at Columbia on a thesis she wrote on the subject which had long engaged her attention.
"The Sublime Jester", by Ezra Brudno, published this season by Nicholas L. Cleveland Brown, is the sixth of this writer's novels. Mr. Brudno is a practising attorney of Cleveland, with offices in the Society for Savings Building. In creating the character of his hero, Albert Zorn, the author has followed the life of Heinrich Heine.
A revival of the successful dramatization of Charles S. Brooks's novel "Luca Sarto was given at the Playhouse, Cleveland, in December. The author, who is a director of the Playhouse, was present, together with Clayton Hamilton, who has been giving a series of lectures in Cleveland. The Playhouse group of players also produced "Makers of Light", and its author, Frederick Day, and Professor George P. Baker (now of Yale) made a pilgrimage to Cleveland to see the production. The play was constructed in Professor Baker's famous "47 Workshop" at Harvard, but its only extended production so far has been at the Playhouse, which revived it this winter after an extremely successful run last season.
The fourth number of "The Book of the Rhymers' Club" has just been issued. The Rhymers' Club of Cleveland is an interesting and perhaps unique organization. Its membership is limited to ten, and the contents of its Book (a periodical issued three or four times a year) consist entirely of verse written by the members. Each poem appearing must have passed the test of severe criticism by the membership and a unanimous vote of acceptance. The membership at present consists of the following poets: John French Wilson, Helen Ives Gilchrist, Edwin Meade Robinson, Carr Liggett, Harmon C. Wade, Margaret Sumner Stevens, G. A. Stevens, Dorothy E. Reid, Norman Kirchbaum, and Herman Fetzer.
From Peoria, Illinois, Dell Nelson Leach sends us "Poems and War Letters" by William James Leach. She has published them as a memorial to Mr. Leach who died in the midst of his services as a Methodist minister. They are honest, inspirational verses, and the letters give clearly and with some humor the viewpoint of a war worker.