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During these years, she did a good encountered the great trial of blindness; deal of writing. In 1873, she had writ- and she bore it bravely, as she had ten a story of the Puritan days called borne her other trials. It was a long "The Two Letters", printed in "The one, for the progress of her disease was Atlantic Monthly". Later she wrote, gradual. Little by little, she had to in collaboration with Edwin Lasseter give up the small and pleasant occupaBynner, a story called “The Uncloseted tions which she loved. Cribbage and Skeleton". The novel which she wrote solitaire had been dear to her; but now, about 1877, called “The Wolf at the when a friend sent her the description Door", for the “No Name Series", a of a new game of “patience", she anset of anonymous stories published by swered that she could no longer play Roberts Brothers, is often entertaining patience -- she must live it. But even and interesting, as is much of her work so gentle a complaint was rare with her. at this time, written largely for the As her blindness became hopeless magazines and the newspapers. But and complete, her brilliant mind her best expression seems to have been clouded; but even then she found more in a cross between imagination and to enjoy than to suffer. Up to the end satire a most gentle satire, but satire she made new friends and loved to be still. And it is only in relation to the with the old ones. That end came on Peterkins that it has its full outlet. June 12, 1900. She was nearly eighty
As her life drew toward an end, she
THE SKETCH BOOK
CHARLES DICKENS AND THE tion. No better man could have been BLUE SUNDAY LAWS chosen for this purpose, nor one more inBy Earl E. Fisk
formed on the subject. His own collec
tion of "Carols" is just about complete. T is not my intention to write a long But to get back to the Blue Laws.
I had read the “Christmas Carol” Laws and the present day overdoing of many times before, but now for the the “moral uplift”, but I have first time I noticed what Dickens had been interested to note how H. L. to say on the matter. The part I am Mencken, the modern crusader of the referring to is to be found in stave antis, hews along the same lines as did three. The second of the three spirits, Charles Dickens in 1843.
the Ghost of Christmas Present, has Mr. Mencken in all his recent books been showing Scrooge the poor people has gone to infinite pains to take good going to the grocer and baker shops to cracks at the reformers and the moral buy their Christmas dinner. On pages uplifters, and in most instances he has 84, 85, and 86 of the first edition is undoubtedly voiced the thoughts of found the following: the majority of people. In his "Prejudices: Second Series”, he states his But soon the steeples called good people belief that uplifters and reformers do all, to church and chapel, and away they their nefarious work merely because of
came, flocking through the streets in their
best clothes, and with their gayest faces. love of the chase. While red blooded And at the same time there emerged from men derive their enjoyment from golf,
scores of bye streets, lanes and nameless
turnings innumerable people, carrying their hunting, and other sports, these re
dinners to the bakers' shops. The sight of formers take theirs out in hunting down these poor revellers appeared to interest the offenders of the Blue Laws, those im
Spirit very much, for he stood with Scrooge
beside him in the bakers' doorway, and proper restrictions upon the liberty of taking off the covers as their bearers passed, the people which they have had passed
sprinkled incense on their dinners from his to assist them in their hunt and to
torch. And it was an uncommon kind of
torch, for once or twice when there were make up the rules of their game. Mr. angry words between some of the dinnerMencken is an extremist who in some
carriers who had jostled with each other, he
shed a few drops of water on them from it, instances goes too far, but his tirades
and their good humor was restored directly. provide food for thought; often one For they said, it was a shame to quarrel upfinds that he has printed one's own un
on Christmas Day. And so it was. God
love it, so it was. voiced opinions.
In time the bells ceased, and the bakers' Among my Christmas presents one
were shut up; and yet there was a genial
shadowing forth of all these dinners and the year was a facsimile copy of the
progress of their cooking, in the thawed first edition of Charles Dickens's blotch of wet above each baker's oven; "Christmas Carol", published by the
where the pavement smoked as if its stones
were cooking too. Atlantic Monthly Press, a beautiful
"Is there a peculiar flavour in what you example of fine bookwork. It is edited sprinkle from your torch?" asked Scrooge.
“There is. by my good friend, A. Edward Newton,
“Would it apply to any kind of dinner on who contributes a delightful introduc- this day?" asked Scrooge.
"To any kindly given. To a poor one Confessions of an Elderly and Well most." "Why toa poor one most?" asked Scrooge.
Seasoned Man. But—a gay lavender “Because it needs it most.'
shirt-a blue tie with yellow polka dots “Spirit”, said Scrooge, after a moment's -a guileless pink and white complexion! thought. "I wonder you, of all beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to
Were they mere accidents, or did they cramp these people's opportunities of in- indicate that here was no ordinary nocent enjoyment.” “I”, cried the Spirit.
sage? “You would deprive them of their means
“Won't you have some melon? It of dining every seventh day, often the only is so delicious at this time of year.' day on which they can be said to dine at all”, said Scrooge. “Wouldn't you?”
This, superficially speaking, was no "1", cried the Spirit.
more than a polite and what proved to “You seek to close these places on the be a good suggestion, but the tone was Seventh Day”, said Scrooge. “And it comes to the same thing."
so ingratiating, so suavely mischievous, “I seek!” exclaimed the Spirit.
that the reporter began to wonder “Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been
whether the word “melon" had some done in your name, or at least in that of your family”, said Scrooge.
special connotation in London society. “There are some upon this earth of yours”, Mr. Moore twirled his mustache; returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride,
the corners of his mouth turned up impill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfish- ishly and his pale blue eyes brightened. ness in our name; who are as strange to us “Tell me about yourself", he urged. and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge
“Have you ever been in love? Are their doings on themselves, not us."
you in love?”
From George Moore this was not No further comment is necessary but only an unembarrassing but actually a that in 1843, as in 1925, the Christian flattering question; he was willing to Spirit is used to mask bigotry, selfish- meet his guest on his own hunting ness, and envy. Reader, do you not ground. It was as if H. G. Wells had agree?
asked for her opinion of the Soviet government. What staggered her, however, was the degree of boyish enthusi
asm in his voice and the very evident ON NOT INTERVIEWING curiosity. GEORGE MOORE
What had happened to the Young By Virginia Rice
Man who made his confessions some
time in the Eighteen Hundreds ? His U'RE at the age when you like physique was no longer erect or firm; to meet great men.”
his hair had turned white; and during George Moore poured himself a glass rare, unamused moments his mouth of wine; the reporter tasted hers and drooped. And yet, despite a lapse of smiled assent. She hoped he would thirty odd years, did the essence of that take another glass and still another, Young Man remain? The reporter and then perhaps in the midst of the suspected it. “He is gay", she thought unsuspecting diners at Queens Restau- to herself, "yet underneath it all, he rant, out of the vintage would emerge a seems harassed and restless.' new and absolutely fresh edition of Im- "Abelard and Heloise' upsets me”, pressions and Opinions. Possibly, there Mr. Moore confessed in response to an would be Confessions. She eyed the inquiry as to his sincere estimate of the white hair and sagging shoulders. works of D. H. Lawrence. “In the
first edition there was an entire chapter than any books? What person was missing. It was this way. Abelard ever influenced by a book?" didn't know his own mind. None of This was a new thought to the reus know we are in love until separated porter. “It seems to me”, she venfrom the beloved. It's only in the tured, "that realistic literature has a past, you understand. So I sent Abe- great influence on impressionable peolard to Blois for the purpose of meditat- ple. Take, for instance, the novels of ing and brought him back without Thomas Hardy." writing his meditations. Extraordinary "English literature is rarely true to absence of mind! Later on, I wrote life", Mr. Moore continued. “Apparthem, of course.
ently, nobody knows that the elemental It was a sad and checkered history, passions upset conventions and that a that of the belated meditations-a tale man who is in love with a woman wants of original and revised manuscripts, of a the woman, and doesn't bother about premature appearance in book form. her mistakes." He chuckled to himThe reporter felt time slipping and de- self. “Do you know", he inquired, cided to seize her first opportunity to and he laughed outright, “that the launch the interview.
heroine in 'A Mummer's Wife' was the "Joseph Conrad's prose is admirable. first woman to commit adultery in an Don't you think so?” she finally man- English novel?” aged to introduce.
The recollection was a gleeful one. Mr. Moore appeared to be thinking. Thirty years ago, the Young Man, At last, he answered. “What's the himself, could not have experienced matter with ‘A Storyteller's Holiday'? more genuine delight in shocking the What's wrong with it?" His smile was British public. sly and rather pleased. “It only says The reporter felt rejuvenated. There that men run after women and women had been discussions like this in her run after men. It is true, and what a undergraduate days—about the prigworld it would be without it. . . . Love gishness of the Anglo-Saxon temperais the world's enchantment. Even the ment and the irksome restraints of censors know that. Men have always modern life. adored women and will always continue “Do you think it's the fault of our to. They adorn them with jewels and education?" she asked dolefully. build palaces for them. That's what “Education”, Mr. Moore agreed, both were made for.” And then sud- 1 "is responsible for a great deal. Schools denly his fervor died down. “But the " are the last things I believe in. There British insist on making rules for other should be casual education-no stuffing. people and imposing their morals on I myself refused to learn anything at them", he sighed.
school. Consequently, I am self eduThe reporter wanted to know if cated. Have you read 'Confessions of Americans were included among the so' a Young Man’? A charming book, but called “British”.
the grammar is bad. You see, I was “Yes, I'm afraid so; although", Mr. just learning." Moore added pacifically, "sex is doing An odd suspicion was beginning to very nicely in America. But why form in the reporter's mind. Did Mr. should there be boards for suppressing Moore acknowledge the existence of books?” He beseeched her to en- any living genius? lighten him. “Isn't conversation worse “The creative sense is sinking”, he
informed her as though he had guessed to banish the dismal prophecies of her thought. “The age of art is over. a moment before. The reporter was Culture is dead." He pronounced transported. the epitaph of the twentieth century George Moore smiled indulgently. and tacitly confessed his own peculiar Luncheon was over; it was time to reisolation.
turn to Ebury Street and evoke the The reporter had a sense of mingled spirit of the Renaissance. He stood horror and relief. Products of a cul- up and leaned on his gnarled walking ture ridden age, her doomed contem- stick. “What do you think of me?" poraries could scarcely hope to achieve he asked. “Am I anything like you anything, or even know life at its best. thought I would be?” Still, nothing much would be expected The reporter rubbed her eyes. This of beings unfortunate enough to be person was elderly.
Yet she was sure born in the Dark Ages.
she had heard the voice of the Young But Mr. Moore was consoling her. Man! “In five hundred years, culture will come again”, he assured her. “The antique world was followed by eight hundred years of barbarism. Then JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS came the Renaissance, and we have
By Henry E. Harman been living on the Renaissance ever since. This is applied to every branch N one of his stories of farm life in of the fine arts.
Georgia, Joel Chandler Harris tells “It is true”, he admitted. “Wagner of a wealthy planter who wanted a few did finish opera. Manet, too, is a very acres of original woodland cleared near great man. Nevertheless, this has a village in which he lived.
Labor was been a decadent era. Everything that scarce, but he finally induced a thriftis to be said has been said. We need a less village fellow to do the work-a new world. When oil and coal come to man who had always been honest, but an end; when the means of locomotion who was a kind of dreamer and ne'er do have ended; when men have ceased to well. After a few days the man came look over one another's shoulders and to his employer and frankly confessed to copy each other; then, that world will that he could not do the work, although be here. Man is an imitative animal. he needed the money. Pressed for a If he can copy his neighbor, he will. In reason, he said that the first tree he old times, travel was not at his disposal, had started to cut down was hollow and so he couldn't. The origin of art is occupied by two squirrels, who made segregation. When the pack horse violent complaint at the destruction of appears again on the downs, and the their house. The next was the home archer bends his bow to shoot the deer of a chipmunk with a large family; and crossing the glade; when the house- the third was occupied by at least four wives will come to the cottage doors in pairs of jay birds. “That piece of the evenings to spin the flax out of which woodland is a peopled city, throbbing shirts are woven, we shall see a man, with life, busy from morning until who knows his fellows, without educa- night.
night. It contains their homes and tion, withdraw from the country and families, they have built and lived there make a beautiful drawing."
for years and I have not the heart to It was a lovely dream, lovely enough destroy what belongs to these helpless