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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.
THE REAL WRECK OF THE HESPERUS
Being the True Story of the Famous Poem, Told for the First Time
By Henry Beston
T is the night of Sunday, December 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
schooner "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 account of the gale, the mention of the "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
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."
A FILMY INVASION
England, France, and Italy
LEEPY CHESTER" and Buster
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
for the time being, but did not surrender to the movies. A cinema house, however, proffered our American "Anna Christie", "Little Old New York", and "Under the Red Robe".
At London's most historic theatre, the Drury Lane, "Doug" Fairbanks in "The Thief of Bagdad" far outran Sir Oswald Stoll's production of "The Moon of Israel" at the Pavilion; but at Sir Oswald's own theatre which bore his name, American movies flourished. It was the first time that I had heard of a movie man being knighted. Sir Oswald, however, has other claims to distinction, among them being the authorship of several books. "Doug" and "Nellie the Beautiful Cloak Model" were the only films we witnessed in London, though among those listed there we noted the ubiquitous Norma Talmadge at three houses in "Secrets", the inescapable Jackie Coogan who was in every city in England, France, or Italy that I visited, Buster Keaton again, Harold Lloyd (in "Girl Shy"), "The Signal Tower", and Menjou in "Broadway After Dark", while Pola Negri cheered Whitechapel and Mary Pickford, Limehouse.
When we crossed the Channel, our movies suffered no sea change and the "Voleur de Bagdad" was still with us, though the sacred governmentsubsidized Opera gave shelter for a while to "Le Miracle des Loups", which challenged the invader. This huge French production, with its big scene of an attack on a medieval walled city and spacious vocal and instrumental musical effects, is now being shown in America. Among the singers who aided it was Vanni Marcoux, whose Scarpia once scandalized the Mayor of Boston. The French as well as the Italians were offering more of their own in competition with the Yankees than were the British. "Comoedia"
(in Paris) publishes a very full list of amusements, including advertisements of sixty cinemas. By far the most frequent pieces listed were two French productions that were visible at nearly half of these houses, "Les Drames de la Mer", a documented war film, and a serial, "Le Vert Galant" (Henri IV). The omnipresent Norma Talmadge, however, held thirteen houses in "Fleur des Sables", Gloria Swanson (who was also billed in Italy) eight in "Les Femmes Libres", and Mary Pickford five with "Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall".
Other American films were disguised as "Le Veilleur du Rail" (The Signal Tower), "Echéance Sanglante" (Pola Negri in "The Last Payment"), "La Dame de Qualité" (also visible in Italy), and "L'Homme aux Camées" (Cameo Kirby); and Harold Lloyd at the Little Theatre Cyrano, near the convent where de Bergerac died, is worth noting. For the time being at least, drama was exiled from the Vieux Colombier where the shadow shapes held sway. Only one theatre, and that at Vincennes, cherished Charlie Chaplin (in "Public Opinion").
In Italy Jackie Coogan repeatedly clashed with historic or romantic surroundings. In Rome his visiting card was conspicuous on the way to the too-much-walled Appian Way, most of which looks today pretty much like our New York Central Railroad cut. In Florence his posters of "Papa" were close to ancient shrines. At Genoa, Harold Lloyd was announced at the station overlooking the bay that had sent us a Columbus for our Harold. Norma Talmadge was posted near the Cathedral in Pisa, and her torn announcement waved at us from a blue and yellow cart, drawn by white oxen up the slopes of lovely Fiesole. Florence, besides American films, also
played Italian pictures on a big scale with music, such as "Messalina", "Gerusalemma Liberata", and "Nero". In Rome, music was of course important in "I Nibelunghi" and (at two houses) "Cavalleria Rusticana", both movies, and music was featured even with Jackie Coogan. Another native film appeared to be "Il Conte di Essex".
Mata Hari, the dancer shot by French soldiers, was the subject of another picture (I do not know whether it was German propaganda). Clara Kimball Young in "La Donna di Bronzo" was conspicuous in Naples.
a fellow passenger reported having seen Jackie Coogan's posters in Egypt and the Holy Land. On a December day, we reached green and sunny Sicily, and drove by long sloping roads up to the quaint and beautiful Cathedral at Monreale, viewing en route posters of "La Donna di Bronzo" and of course the omnipresent Il Piccolo Coogan.
Music and drama are powerful influences toward the friendship of nations, but in the three countries I have observed, I saw little sign that Germany was to win back their good will through her often effective screen
IX years ago we saw each other every morning and evening,
Today you and I are thousands of miles apart;
The willows that used to border our school pond
Are they still as green as ever?