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ON LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL paying bills with bad coins, insulting


By Rose Macaulay

READ the phrase (not for the first time, for, in slightly different wordings, I seem to have been reading it all my life) in my Sunday morning paper, under the heading "Sayings of the Week". It had been said or written by someone I think a novelist - in the course of the week, and the "Observer" had been struck by its truth, or perhaps by its absence of truth, and had selected it for quotation, along with other noteworthy remarks made by public characters. (I was once in that column myself, but on the strength of something I had never said, so possibly the novelist had not said this, either.) Anyhow, the remark, whoever made it, set me thinking. "The only real crime", it ran, "is not to live life to the full."

With mixed feelings I meditated on this. First, I confess I experienced some degree of satisfaction in reflecting that, if this were indeed so, my life had been more innocent than I thought. To be sure, I had, at every moment in it, committed the only real crime; but then, I had committed no others; all those actions which had lain on my conscience need not have burdened it at all, for they were not real crimes. Defrauding the widow and the orphan, ravishing the poor, taking human life or the wives of others, worshiping idols, defrauding railway companies, tax collectors, and penny-in-the-slot machines, closing right-of-way footpaths, running down pedestrians with cars, killing dogs, defacing landscape with advertisements, forging checks,

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it was consoling also to reflect that, though I had indeed committed all day and every day, through countless years, the only real crime, so had everyone else. Its commission is inevitable. Life may be prodigious, enormous, morbidly distended, but never can it be quite full. I take "full" to mean full of energies, activities, deeds, emotions. Of course, it is always full of something, if only of inertia, but one must, I suppose, attribute some meaning to the phrase as used, and I take it that its user meant something more active and exciting than that.

My life, then, began to look to me a sadly criminal affair. All the things I had left undone crowded up before my accusing conscience. I had not played mah jong, dyed the hair, worshiped in a Plymouth Brethren's chapel or a Jewish synagogue, visited the South Seas, the Zoo aquarium, Montmartre, Sheffield, Los Angeles, or Balham, injected cocaine, made a bead purse or a will, won money on a horse, found oil or gold, captured a flea, learned Hebrew, Russian, American, or Chinese, suffered an operation (excepting only on the teeth), stood for parliament, got married, adopted a child or a pet monkey, taken the veil.

In the light of all the life I had not lived, the life I had lived, which used to look to me enough, or even too much, faded to insignificance. Why, I reflected with shame, I had not even written a play, taken Kruschen salts, or lectured in America.

I must, I thought, see about this. I must not go on daily committing the only real crime. All the authorities seemed to be agreed about the desirability of fulness- even the Bible, I was sure, said it somewhere so they must be right. I will, thought I, endeavor to live one crimeless day, even should it be my last. I will begin it early and cause to be brought to me in bed coffee, chocolate, and tea. Thus sustained, I shall rise and go out before breakfast, and run round Hyde Park, knocking down a policeman, addressing to a gentleman or two unsolicited attentions, picking the dahlias, stoning the squirrels, and kidnaping an infant from its perambulator. I shall return home (infant with me, for it is time I became a mother, since I have heard that no woman's life is really full without the patter of tiny feet and the embrace of little arms) and have breakfast to the full, which is the kind you get in Scotland and on liners grapefruit, porridge, cereals, tea, coffee, ham, eggs, kidneys, haddock, herring, sole, kedgeree, marmalade, honey, jam, butter, toast, scones. Having consumed this to the full, I shall smoke five cigarettes and make out a check to self for all my remaining bank balance. I shall call at the bank on my way to the full life of London, which cannot be lived with empty pockets.

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But the morning, indeed the whole day, is so full of possibilities of amplitude that I do not feel able to make a plan for it; I must trust to the inspiration of the moment. I do not know

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I do not know where I shall lunch, whether at the Ritz, in Greek Street, or at a Lyons soda fountain, where I can have a mixed fruit sundae, a parfait, a frappé, a shake, an ice cream soda, and a phosphate, all at once. After lunch, I may or may not have a trip in an aeroplane, a cocaine orgy, a matinée, a scene in the street with the police or in the House of Commons with the usher. I do not know which would be the fullest. Whichever I do, there will be time after it to get out of London; the full life must include the country life, so I will take a train somewhere; it does not matter where, so long as I enrich the journey by pulling the communication cord and informing the guard that my fellow traveler is a dangerous lunatic.


ing arrived in the country, I must take a country walk, and, I suppose, pluck whatever flowers are at the moment blowing. It will be advisable to go through private grounds, and also to call at at least one house and inform the owner that I know all and that my price for not mentioning it is ten pounds down. If I get away before the police are summoned, I shall visit the local church, attend evensong, and during it rise to protest against the manner of its conduct, as being too high, low, or broad. That is to say, if it is a low church, I shall pose as a Kensitite and protest against its scandalous ritualism; if it is high, I shall be

Anglo-Catholic, and demand more candles, incense, confession, and meditation; if it is broad, I shall be modernist, and cry out against its obscurantism. Whichever is the case, I shall live a full life before being ejected from the church.

Having thus lived, I suppose I shall return to London, where, they say, life by night is fuller than in the country. A full night life in London begins, of course, with dinner, and proceeds with several theatres in succession; a few minutes in each will suffice, but one must not fail, during at least one of them, to pay a visit, however brief, to the dressing room of some popular and beautiful actor. If he prove unwelcoming, tant pis; one must procure someone else as supper companion, and as dancing partner at one's night club.

I will refrain from following this splendid, this prodigious night, in detail; it might not be proper, since it should include orgies of all descriptions. To complete the circle of my twenty four hours, I suppose it must continue until morning, since full livers can scarcely waste time in mere sleep. I must end it with an hour or so of some kind of work, for every full life should contain this unpleasing ingredient. Then, with the morning, wearied but proud, I shall creep to my bed and sleep, I hope, the dreamless sleep of a good conscience.

Thus I mused; as we all weave day dreams for ourselves which well we know will never be fulfilled. But even so, even granted my day and night as I have described them, would they pass the test? Are they full enough? Though to me they look so full, it is possible that to other and fuller livers they may appear pale, attentuated and empty. After all, they are full of omissions; they do not

include standing for parliament, seeing a hanging or a bus accident, visiting an asylum or the Zoo. They include, in fact, scarcely anything; they do but touch the fringes of life.

We may not, I reflected, judge one another. For one man's fulness is another's emptiness, and who shall be the condemner of his brother's crime?

Thus meditating, I dismissed this preposterous Saying of the Week with a snap of the fingers. After all, we could every one of us invent a score of crimes as bad as that, and label them as the only real one, straight off. only real crime, I might say, is not to keep a dog, not to have a gramophone, not to wear the hair shingled. . .


I care not for these arbitrary crime makers. I can and will make a dozen real crimes to their one. And I will try and persuade the Sayings editor of the "Observer" to put them all in.


Being the True Story of the Famous Poem, Told for the First Time

By Henry Beston

T is the night of Sunday, December

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the fifteenth, 1839, and a wild northeast gale is sweeping the bleak New England coast. Boston chimneys are toppling in a crash and a cascade of bricks, the great elms are swaying and groaning in the gale, and across the river, in Cambridge village, the snow and sleet strike at the windows of a famous old house in which a poet dwells.

Not since the great September gale of 1815 has there been so wild a storm. Said the Boston "Morning Post" for Tuesday, December 17: "The snow in defiance of the rain contended for the

mastery, and obtained it, and at 2 P.M. there was more than half a foot of snow and sleet in most of the streets of our city. On the seaboard the effects produced were most disastrous, for many vessels broke from their moorings in the stream, and their fastening at the wharves, came in contact with each other, and did considerable damage."

Presently comes terrible news from Gloucester. Of the sixty sail of vessels which took refuge in the outer harbor, some twenty have been wrecked, either on the exposed reef called Norman's Woe or on the rocky, inhospitable strand. In its issue for December 17, under the caption "Further Particulars of the Gale", the Boston "Daily Advertiser and Patriot" dwells on the disaster. Seventeen bodies have already been washed ashore. Then comes an incident, destined to become familiar poetry:

"One of these is reported to be a female who was lashed to the bitts of the windlass of a Castine schooner, two others of the crew also perishing. The place where most of these vessels struck was a reef of rocks called Norman's Woe." Under a heading "Disasters at Cape Ann", the "Morning Post" of the seventeenth prints the same tale: “Among them was the body of a woman found lashed to the windlass bitts of a Castine schr." A "bitt", according to a definition given by the author of "Two Years Before the Mast", is a "perpendicular piece of timber going through the deck to hold the windlass or the heel of the bowsprit".

In the famous poem, it is the captain's little daughter who drifts ashore lashed to a fragment of the mast. The name of the unfortunate woman who perished at Gloucester was Mrs. Sally Hilton, and she had sailed on the


"Favorite" of Wiscasset, Maine. The Castine story was an error due to the confusion of the storm. A tiny item gives Mrs. Hilton's age as fifty five.

There were wrecks everywhere along the Massachusetts coast at Nahant, at ancient Quincy of the presidents, at Scituate, at Plymouth, at Provincetown.

On Tuesday, December 17, everyone must have been discussing the disasters, for on that very evening Longfellow wrote in his diary:

"News of shipwrecks horrible on the coast. Twenty bodies washed ashore near Gloucester, one lashed to a piece of wreck. There is a reef called Norman's Woe where many of these took place, among them the schooner Hesperus. Also the Sea Flower on Black Rock. I must write a ballad on this." And now comes an interesting literary mystery. There was no schooner "Hesperus" wrecked on Gloucester beach or Norman's Woe! There was the schooner "Sarah" of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the "Prudence and Industry" of Prospect, the "Columbia" of Waldoboro, the "Fame" of Ellsworth, and some sixteen more, but no "Hesperus"!

How, then, did the poet fall into an error which all his biographers and editors have continued to repeat? Even the standard "Riverside" edition in six volumes says in its discussion of the poem: "A few weeks later came a terrible storm on the coast with the wreck among others of the schooner 'Hesperus' on the reef called Norman's Woe"!

There was a schooner "Hesperus" that did get into difficulties during the storm, but she was in Boston, not at Gloucester. An account of her adventures is to be found in the same "Morning Post" for December

17 which tells of the finding of the body at Gloucester. The "Post's" account runs as follows:

At eleven P.M. on Sunday night, the gale was as high as at any period since its commencement, and continued until daylight when it somewhat abated. This second gust drove the Schooner Hesperus, at anchor in the stream, from her moorings against ship Wm. Badger, at the North side of Rowe's wharf, which parted her fasts, and both drove up the dock together. The schooner had her bowsprit carried away, the ship her side badly chafed.

This "Schooner 'Hesperus"" which broke from her anchorage in the harbor fairway, once called "the stream", hailed from Gardiner, Maine.

Longfellow was a reader of the "Post". He mentions the paper in his journal; there is a note about it a day or two before the storm. The

Longfellow. "It hardly cost me an effort. It did not come into my mind by lines, but by stanzas." The ballad appeared on January 14, 1840, in Park Benjamin's mammoth journal "The New World". "My dear Longfellow", runs the editor's letter. "Here are twenty-five dollars, the sum you mentioned for it, paid by the proprietors of The New World, in which glorious paper it will resplendently corruscate on Saturday next.”


England, France, and Italy

By Roland Holt


account of the gale, the mention of the "SLEEPY

"Hesperus", and the story of the body washed ashore at Gloucester are all to be found in the second column on the second page of the issue of the seventeenth.

In common with many another poet, Longfellow liked the sound of the name "Hesperus". It may even have had a certain fascination for him, for six years later the title "Hesperus" was his first choice for the sonnet now called "The Evening Star".

His imagination stirred by the tumult of the gale, the incident of the body washed ashore, and the euphonious, poetic name, the poet himself evidently confused the various elements of the story. And a fortunate confusion it was, for it gives the world a really fine ballad which close upon a hundred years of familiar repetition has made part of American household life.

The ballad was written two weeks after the storm, between the midnight of December 30 and the morn. "I feel pleased with the ballad", wrote

Keaton! Could anything be more incongruous? Yet in this loveliest of Old World towns, still walled and towered with some of the very walls of the Romans and later of King Charles, Buster Keaton was posted, along with Norma Talmadge and "The Bad Man".

I was unable to discover the population of Chester, though an intelligent "Bobby" guessed from 40,000 to 50,000. What American town of that size would support a New York theatrical company for a solid week, and then like Chester put a movie fashion into live players, making them give two "runs" every night at 7 and 9, as Chester did with a London company in our American play "The Bat"? They are even American in their toys; I saw a fine box of lead cowboys in a shop window. Running out to a little Welsh mining hamlet, I saw billed there the film of Mrs. Atherton's sophisticated "Black Oxen". At Stratford-on-Avon, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre was closed

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