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By Earl E. Fisk

T is not my intention to write a long

Laws and the present day overdoing of the "moral uplift", but I have been interested to note how H. L. Mencken, the modern crusader of the antis, hews along the same lines as did Charles Dickens in 1843.

Mr. Mencken in all his recent books has gone to infinite pains to take good cracks at the reformers and the moral uplifters, and in most instances he has undoubtedly voiced the thoughts of the majority of people. In his “Prejudices: Second Series", he states his belief that uplifters and reformers do their nefarious work merely because of love of the chase. While red blooded men derive their enjoyment from golf, hunting, and other sports, these reformers take theirs out in hunting down offenders of the Blue Laws, those improper restrictions upon the liberty of the people which they have had passed to assist them in their hunt and to make up the rules of their game. Mr. Mencken is an extremist who in some instances goes too far, but his tirades provide food for thought; often one finds that he has printed one's own unvoiced opinions.

Among my Christmas presents one year was a facsimile copy of the first edition of Charles Dickens's "Christmas Carol", published by the Atlantic Monthly Press, a beautiful example of fine bookwork. It is edited by my good friend, A. Edward Newton, who contributes a delightful introduc

tion. No better man could have been chosen for this purpose, nor one more informed on the subject. His own collection of "Carols" is just about complete. But to get back to the Blue Laws. I had read the "Christmas Carol" many times before, but now for the first time I noticed what Dickens had to say on the matter. The part I am referring to is to be found in stave three. The second of the three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Present, has been showing Scrooge the poor people going to the grocer and baker shops to buy their Christmas dinner. On pages 84, 85, and 86 of the first edition is found the following:

But soon the steeples called good people all, to church and chapel, and away they came, flocking through the streets in their best clothes, and with their gayest faces. And at the same time there emerged from scores of bye streets, lanes and nameless turnings innumerable people, carrying their dinners to the bakers' shops. The sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with Scrooge beside him in the bakers' doorway, and taking off the covers as their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch. And it was an uncommon kind of torch, for once or twice when there were angry words between some of the dinnercarriers who had jostled with each other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humor was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was. love it, so it was.


In time the bells ceased, and the bakers' were shut up; and yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners and the progress of their cooking, in the thawed blotch of wet above each baker's oven; where the pavement smoked as if its stones were cooking too.

"Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch?" asked Scrooge. "There is. My own."

"Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?" asked Scrooge.

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"I", cried the Spirit.

"You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day", said Scrooge. "And it comes to the same thing."

"I seek!" exclaimed the Spirit. "Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family", said Scrooge.

"There are some upon this earth of yours", returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name; who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.'

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No further comment is necessary but that in 1843, as in 1925, the Christian Spirit is used to mask bigotry, selfishness, and envy. Reader, do you not agree?


By Virginia Rice

"Y to meet great men."

́OU'RE at the age when you like

George Moore poured himself a glass of wine; the reporter tasted hers and smiled assent. She hoped he would take another glass and still another, and then perhaps in the midst of the unsuspecting diners at Queens Restaurant, out of the vintage would emerge a new and absolutely fresh edition of Impressions and Opinions. Possibly, there would be Confessions. She eyed the white hair and sagging shoulders.

Confessions of an Elderly and Well Seasoned Man. But a gay lavender shirt-a blue tie with yellow polka dots -aguileless pink and white complexion! Were they mere accidents, or did they indicate that here was no ordinary sage?

"Won't you have some melon? It is so delicious at this time of year." This, superficially speaking, was no more than a polite and what proved to be a good suggestion, but the tone was so ingratiating, so suavely mischievous, that the reporter began to wonder whether the word "melon" had some special connotation in London society.

Mr. Moore twirled his mustache; the corners of his mouth turned up impishly and his pale blue eyes brightened.

"Tell me about yourself", he urged. "Have you ever been in love? Are you in love?"

From George Moore this was not only an unembarrassing but actually a flattering question; he was willing to meet his guest on his own hunting ground. It was as if H. G. Wells had asked for her opinion of the Soviet government. What staggered her, however, was the degree of boyish enthusiasm in his voice and the very evident curiosity.

What had happened to the Young Man who made his confessions sometime in the Eighteen Hundreds? His physique was no longer erect or firm; his hair had turned white; and during rare, unamused moments his mouth drooped. And yet, despite a lapse of thirty odd years, did the essence of that Young Man remain? The reporter suspected it. "He is gay", she thought to herself, "yet underneath it all, he seems harassed and restless."

"Abelard and Heloise' upsets me", Mr. Moore confessed in response to an inquiry as to his sincere estimate of the works of D. H. Lawrence. "In the

Abelard None of

first edition there was an entire chapter missing. It was this way. didn't know his own mind. us know we are in love until separated from the beloved. It's only in the past, you understand. So I sent Abelard to Blois for the purpose of meditating and brought him back without writing his meditations. Extraordinary absence of mind! Later on, I wrote them, of course."

It was a sad and checkered history— that of the belated meditations-a tale of original and revised manuscripts, of a premature appearance in book form. The reporter felt time slipping and decided to seize her first opportunity to launch the interview.

"Joseph Conrad's prose is admirable. Don't you think so?" she finally managed to introduce.

Mr. Moore appeared to be thinking. At last, he answered. "What's the matter with 'A Storyteller's Holiday'? What's wrong with it?" His smile was sly and rather pleased. "It only says that men run after women and women run after men. It is true, and what a world it would be without it. . . . Love is the world's enchantment. Even the censors know that. Men have always adored women and will always continue to. They adorn them with jewels and build palaces for them. That's what both were made for." And then suddenly his fervor died down. "But the British insist on making rules for other people and imposing their morals on them", he sighed.

The reporter wanted to know if Americans were included among the so⚫ called "British".

"Yes, I'm afraid so; although", Mr. Moore added pacifically, "sex is doing very nicely in America. But why should there be boards for suppressing books?" He beseeched her to enlighten him. "Isn't conversation worse

than any books? What person was ever influenced by a book?”

This was a new thought to the reporter. "It seems to me", she ventured, "that realistic literature has a great influence on impressionable people. Take, for instance, the novels of Thomas Hardy."

"English literature is rarely true to life", Mr. Moore continued. "Apparently, nobody knows that the elemental passions upset conventions and that a man who is in love with a woman wants the woman, and doesn't bother about her mistakes." He chuckled to himself. "Do you know", he inquired, and he laughed outright, "that the heroine in 'A Mummer's Wife' was the first woman to commit adultery in an English novel?"

The recollection was a gleeful one. Thirty years ago, the Young Man, himself, could not have experienced more genuine delight in shocking the British public.

The reporter felt rejuvenated. There had been discussions like this in her undergraduate days-about the priggishness of the Anglo-Saxon temperament and the irksome restraints of modern life.

"Do you think it's the fault of our education?" she asked dolefully.

"Education", Mr. Moore agreed, "is responsible for a great deal. Schools are the last things I believe in. There should be casual education-no stuffing. I myself refused to learn anything at school. Consequently, I am self educated. Have you read 'Confessions of a Young Man'? A charming book, but the grammar is bad. You see, I was just learning.”

An odd suspicion was beginning to form in the reporter's mind. Did Mr. Moore acknowledge the existence of any living genius?

"The creative sense is sinking", he

informed her as though he had guessed her thought. "The age of art is over. Culture is dead." He pronounced the epitaph of the twentieth century and tacitly confessed his own peculiar isolation.

The reporter had a sense of mingled horror and relief. Products of a culture ridden age, her doomed contemporaries could scarcely hope to achieve anything, or even know life at its best. Still, nothing much would be expected of beings unfortunate enough to be born in the Dark Ages.

But Mr. Moore was consoling her. "In five hundred years, culture will come again", he assured her. "The antique world was followed by eight hundred years of barbarism. Then came the Renaissance, and we have been living on the Renaissance ever since.

This is applied to every branch

of the fine arts.

"It is true", he admitted. "Wagner did finish opera. Manet, too, is a very great man. Nevertheless, this has been a decadent era. Everything that is to be said has been said. We need a new world. When oil and coal come to an end; when the means of locomotion have ended; when men have ceased to look over one another's shoulders and to copy each other; then, that world will be here. Man is an imitative animal. If he can copy his neighbor, he will. In old times, travel was not at his disposal, so he couldn't. The origin of art is segregation. When the pack horse appears again on the downs, and the archer bends his bow to shoot the deer crossing the glade; when the housewives will come to the cottage doors in the evenings to spin the flax out of which shirts are woven, we shall see a man, who knows his fellows, without education, withdraw from the country and make a beautiful drawing."

to banish the dismal prophecies of a moment before. The reporter was transported.

George Moore smiled indulgently. Luncheon was over; it was time to return to Ebury Street and evoke the spirit of the Renaissance. He stood up and leaned on his gnarled walking stick. "What do you think of me?" he asked. "Am I anything like you thought I would be?"

The reporter rubbed her eyes. This person was elderly. Yet she was sure she had heard the voice of the Young Man!



By Henry E. Harman

N one of his stories of farm life in Georgia, Joel Chandler Harris tells of a wealthy planter who wanted a few acres of original woodland cleared near a village in which he lived. Labor was scarce, but he finally induced a thriftless village fellow to do the work-a man who had always been honest, but who was a kind of dreamer and ne'er do well. After a few days the man came to his employer and frankly confessed that he could not do the work, although he needed the money. Pressed for a reason, he said that the first tree he had started to cut down was hollow and occupied by two squirrels, who made violent complaint at the destruction of their house. The next was the home of a chipmunk with a large family; and the third was occupied by at least four pairs of jay birds. "That piece of woodland is a peopled city, throbbing with life, busy from morning until night. It contains their homes and families, they have built and lived there for years and I have not the heart to

It was a lovely dream, lovely enough destroy what belongs to these helpless


creatures." Out of that simple but impressive, Mr. Harris drew inspiration for one of the most graphic pictures in all literature.

Along in 1902 or 1903 I was spending the summer at the Sweetwater Park Hotel, Lithia Springs, Georgia. By appointment Mr. Harris and James Whitcomb Riley spent two weeks there together. I was with them much of the time and can never forget the royal fellowship which existed between them. Riley came down from Indiana chock full of stories, and "Uncle Joe" had one in reply for each the Hoosier poet would tell. For two weeks these rare characters loafed about the broad verandas of the hotel, rarely ever separating, and only occasionally having with them a few select friends as guests at their story telling bees. Riley would tell one of his best ones and hold his sides in laughter as he watched the effect of the story on Uncle Remus. Then "Uncle Joe", as we all called him in those golden days when he was in his prime, would bat his eye a few times, his lips would curl in a suppressed laugh, and he would put over at Riley a story which would make a stoic laugh.

In all my experiences I never saw such comradeship between two men. Each seemed absolutely happy in the company of the other. When the short vacation was over and we were coming back to Atlanta to take up the grind again, Mr. Harris told me that the two weeks with Riley would stand out in all the coming years as the happiest he had ever known. At that time both men were perhaps at their best, both following literature as a profession; and widely different as they were in many respects, they were as one when it came to real good fellowship. That devoted friendship kept up as long as the two celebrities lived.

Some years afterward I met Riley in Miami, Florida, where he spent the last winters of his life. In a discussion of the literary work of Mr. Harris he said: "The creator of Uncle Remus is a poet of the highest order. Even his most desultory pages are inspired, while in certain climaxes he reaches the highest form of poetic sentiment. I have often told him this but he resents being called a poet and will hardly admit that he is a good story teller. In all of your southern literature, which burns with the intenseness of the fervor of your climate, no writer has yet arisen whose work will live longer or more tenderly in the hearts of your people."

On the occasion when President Roosevelt and Mr. Carnegie came to Atlanta to pay homage to Mr. Harris, "Uncle Joe" passed through one of the most trying ordeals in all his life. His timidity and dislike for ostentation made that day one fraught with much anxiety for the dean of "Wren's Nest". But when the President made his celebrated speech at the Piedmont Driving Club and pointed to the blushing creator of the Uncle Remus stories as one of the greatest authors of this country, a scene was enacted which has no parallel in the literary history of America. Uncle Remus simply got into the procession and could not get out. The occasion will go down in our literary history as one of rare interest.

In the later years of his life he had a habit of going to the old post office on Marietta Street each morning for his mail. Often we met in that famous old building, and the philosophy of the man would be expressed in his morning greeting. "There is a new type of gold in the sunlight today" or "The April rain of this morning will awaken many drowsy daffodils", were among the many expressions he used in those blessed days of his prime. Keen eyed,

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