[Transcriber's Note: The Table of Contents and the list of illustrations were added by the transcriber. Hyphenation standardized within articles. Quotation marks added to standardize usage. Updated spelling on possible typos: ninteenth, beafsteak, and embarassed. Replaced canon (with tilde) with canyon. Preserved other original punctuation and spelling. Passages in italics indicated by underscore _.]
VOL. XXXI JULY, 1908 No. 3
Copyright, 1908, by The S. S. McClure Co. All rights reserved
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ILLUSTRATIONS 241 GUARDIANS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH. By Samuel Hopkins Adams. 241 Our Health Boards and Their Powers 242 Our Absurd Vital Statistics 244 The Criminal Negligence of Physicians 246 "Business Interests" and Yellow Fever 246 Newspapers, Politicians, and the Bubonic Plague 248 Fighting Prejudice and the Death Rate in Charleston 250 Killing Off the City Negro 251 Private Interests in Public Murder 251 A LITTLE VICTORY FOR THE GENERAL. By Josephine Daskam Bacon. 253 AMERICAN IMPRESSIONS. By Ellen Terry. 263 THE HERITAGE OF HAM. By Lieutenant Hugh M. Kelly, U. S. A. 277 THE SINGER'S HEART. By Harris Merton Lyon. 291 THE REPUDIATION OF JOHNSON'S POLICY. By Carl Schurz. 297 The Fourteenth Amendment 298 A Campaign to Destroy a President 298 Killing of Negroes at Memphis and New Orleans 300 Johnson "Swings Around the Circle" 301 New Congress Overwhelmingly Anti-Johnson 304 The Movement Toward Negro Suffrage 304 Reconstruction Under Military Control 305 The Public Fear of Johnson 306 The Fatal Bungling of Reconstruction 307 THE THIRTEENTH MOVE. By Alberta Bancroft. 308 GIFFORD PINCHOT, FORESTER. By Will C. Barnes. 319 CHIEF KITSAP, FINANCIER. By Joseph Blethen. 328 THE WAYFARERS. By Mary Stewart Cutting. 337 THE CATHEDRAL. By Florence Wilkinson. 357 THE NEW GOSPEL IN CRIMINOLOGY. By Judge McKenzie Cleland. 358
DR. CHARLES HARRINGTON, SECRETARY OF THE MASS STATE BOARD OF HEALTH DR. THOMAS DARLINGTON, COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH FOR NEW YORK CITY DR. CHARLES V. CHAPIN, SUPERINTENDENT OF HEALTH IN PROVIDENCE, RI DR. JOHN N. HURTY, SECRETARY OF THE BOARD OF HEALTH IN INDIANA DR. GEORGE W. GOLER, HEALTH OFFICER OF ROCHESTER, NEW YORK DR. J. MERCIER GREEN, HEALTH OFFICER OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA THE SCAVENGERS OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA CAROLINE WALKED AHEAD, HER CHIN WELL UP, HER NOSE SNIFFING PLEASURABLY THE UNACCUSTOMED ASPHALT YOUNG GIRLS ... CANTERED BY; THEIR LINEN HABITS ROSE AND FELL DECOROUSLY, THEIR HAIR WAS SMOOTH THE STANDING CROWD CRANED THEIR NECKS, AS DELIA SAT UP STRAIGHT AND HELD OUT HER ARMS 'I'VE GOT TWO O' MY OWN' 'WHO—WHO—WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?' HE WHISPERED HOARSELY HENRY IRVING AS CARDINAL WOLSEY IN "HENRY VIII." ELLEN TERRY ELLEN TERRY WITH HER FOX-TERRIERS, DUMMY AND FUSSIE MISS ROSA CORDER SIR HENRY IRVING MISS ELLEN TERRY AUGUSTIN DALY AND HIS COMPANY OF PLAYERS AUGUSTIN DALY JOHN DREW AS PETRUCHIO IN "THE TAMING OF THE SHREW" ADA REHAN AS KATHARINE IN "THE TAMING OF THE SHREW" HELENA MODJESKA MARY ANDERSON JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS RIP VAN WINKLE ALL DAY LONG OLD SERGEANT WILSON SAT IN THE CORNER OF THE SQUAD ROOM, CLASPING AND UNCLASPING HIS STRAINING HANDS CABLE THE PRESIDENT! WHAT A JOKE! THE CIRCLE CLOSED IN AS THE SEA SURGES UP UPON THE LAND HARRY BARNES, OLD ACTOR HE GRINNED AND WINKED AND FRISKED AND CAPERED 'OH, YOU DIVVIL, YOU! YOU OLD, BLATHERSKITING DIVVIL' HE SAT STARING INTO THE BLANKNESS OF THE LITTLE ROOM JOHN POTTER STOCKTON, THE DEMOCRATIC SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY SENATOR CARL SCHURZ SENATOR PRESTON KING SENATOR JAMES LANE SENATOR ZACHARIAH CHANDLER 'I'VE BEEN FOLLOWING YOU EVER SINCE YOU LEFT YOUR OFFICE,' HE SAID 'IT'S A DESPICABLE LETTER,' SHE TOLD HERSELF 'HOW DO YOU SUPPOSE I FEEL, BEING IN THIS POSITION—TO YOU?' GIFFORD PINCHOT A SECTION OF THE BIG HORN NATIONAL FOREST, WYOMING, SHOWING THE FOREST SERVICE METHODS OF LUMBERING SECTION OF A REDWOOD FOREST IN CALIFORNIA, SHOWING WASTEFUL AND DESTRUCTIVE METHODS OF LUMBERING THE EFFECT OF EROSION ON A HILLSIDE FROM WHICH THE FOREST COVER HAS BEEN REMOVED THE SAME HILLSIDE AFTER TWO YEARS OF CAREFUL AND SYSTEMATIC GRAZING HERD OF SHEEP GRAZING UPON A NATIONAL FOREST KITSAP, THE CLERK, DONNED THE TRIBAL FINERY OF HIS ANCESTORS ON ALL SIDES THE HOP-PICKERS WERE MAKING MERRY PICKING PROGRESSED TO AN END, AND THE INDIANS HELD THEIR LAST FEAST AND DEPARTED STOOD THERE LEANING AGAINST 'DADDY'S' SIDE IT WAS SWEET TO BE CHAFFED, TO BE HEEDLESSLY YOUNG ONCE MORE SHE CREPT OUT UPON THE LANDING OF THE STAIRS, AND SAT THERE DESOLATELY ON THE TOP STEP SHE TOOK THE PISTOL FROM HIS RELAXED HOLD THE TWO WOMEN SITTING ON THE BENCH, WRAPPED AROUND BY THE LONELINESS AND THE INTENSE STILLNESS OF THE ONCOMING NIGHT 'THEY'LL GET FULL OF EARTH AGAIN,' SHE PROTESTED LOIS STOLE INTO THE ROOM
John Chinaman is the logician of hygiene. To his family doctor he says: "I pay you to keep me well. Earn your money." Let him or his fall sick, and the physician's recompense stops until health returns to that household. Being fair-minded as well as logical, the Oriental obeys his physical guardian's directions. Now, it may be possible to criticize certain Chinese medical methods, such as burning parallel holes in a man's back to cure him of appendicitis, or banging for six hours a day on a brass tom-tom to eliminate the devil of headache; but the underlying principle of "No health, no pay" is worthy of consideration.
This principle it is which, theoretically, we have adopted in the matter of the public health. To our city, State, or national doctors we pay a certain stipend (when we pay them at all) on the tacit understanding that they are to keep us free from illness. With the cure of disease they have no concern. The minute you fall ill, Mr. Taxpayer, you pass into the hands of your private physician. No longer are you an item of interest to your health officer, except as you may communicate your disease to your fellow citizens. If he looks after you at all, it is not that you may become well, but that others may not become ill through you. Being less logical in our conduct than the Chinese, we, as a people, pay little or no heed to the instructions of the public doctors whom we employ. We grind down their appropriations; we flout the wise and by no means over-rigorous regulations which they succeed in getting established, usually against the stupid opposition of unprogressive legislatures; we permit—nay, we influence our private physicians to disobey the laws in our interest, preferring to imperil our neighbors rather than submit to the inconvenience necessary to prevent the spread of disease; and we doggedly, despite counsel and warning, continue to poison ourselves perseveringly with bad air, bad water, and bad food, the three B's that account for 90 per cent. of our unnecessary deaths. Then, if we are beset by some well-deserved epidemic, we resentfully demand to know why such things are allowed to occur. For it usually happens that the virtuous public which fell asleep with a germ in its mouth, wakes up with a stone in its hand to throw at the health officer. Considering what we, as a people, do and fail to do, we get, on the whole, better public health service than we deserve, and worse than we can afford.
Our Health Boards and Their Powers
As a nation, we have no comprehensive health organization. The crying need for one I shall point out in a future article. Our only Federal guardianship is vested in the United States Public Health and Marine Hospital Service, which, by some mystery of governmental construction, got itself placed in the Treasury Department, where it certainly does not belong. It is, with the exception of a few ancient political appointees now relegated to unimportant posts, a highly trained and efficient body of hygienists and medical men, the best of whom have also qualified as diplomats in trying crises. Any germ-beleaguered city may call upon this Service for aid. It is a sort of flying squadron of sanitative defence. When yellow fever broke out in New Orleans, it was the M. H. S. men who, working quietly and inconspicuously with the local volunteers, mapped out the campaign which rid the city of the scourge. In the San Francisco panic eight years ago, when bubonic plague beset the city, it was the Marine Hospital Service which restored confidence: and a Service man has been there ever since as the city's chief adviser. The Federal "surgeons," as they are called, may be in St. Louis helping to check smallpox, or in Seattle, blocking the spread of a plague epidemic, or in Mobile, Alabama, fighting to prevent the establishment of an unnecessary and injurious quarantine against the city by outsiders, because of a few cases of yellow jack; and all the while the Service is studying and planning a mighty "Kriegspiel" against the endemic diseases in their respective strongholds—malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, and the other needless destroyers of life which we have always with us. In the Marine Hospital Service is the germ of a mighty force for national betterment.
Of the State boards, perhaps a fourth may be regarded as actively efficient. The rest are honorary and ornamental. Undoubtedly a majority would be ready and willing to perform the services for which they are not (as a rule) paid anything; but they lack any appropriation upon which to work. South Carolina, for example, has an excellent State board. Its president, Dr. Robert Wilson, is an able and public-spirited physician of the highest standing; an earnest student of conditions, and eager for the sanitary betterment of his State. But when he and his board undertook to get one thousand dollars from the legislature to demonstrate the feasibility of enforcing the pure food law and of turning away the decayed meat for which the State is a dumping-ground, they were blandly informed that there was no money available for that purpose. It was in South Carolina, by the way, that a medical politician who served on the public health committee of the legislature addressed this question to a body of physicians who had come there to appeal for certain sanitary reforms: "What do you want of laws to prevent folks being sick? Ain't that the way you make your livin'?" Which is, I fear, typical of the kind of physicians that go into politics and get into our legislatures, where, unhappily, they are usually assigned to the public health committees.
Under the State boards, in the well-organized States, are the county boards and officers, who report to the State boards and may call upon the latter for advice or help in time of epidemic or danger.
In certain circumstances the State officials may arbitrarily take charge. This is done in Indiana, in Maryland, in Pennsylvania, and in Massachusetts. The last State not only grants extraordinary powers to its health executive, Dr. Charles Harrington, but it appropriated last year for the work the considerable sum of $136,000. By the issuance alone of vaccine and antitoxin, the Board saved to the citizens of the State $210,000, or $74,000 more than the total appropriation for all the varied work of the institution. Some vague idea of the economy in lives which it achieves may be gained from the established fact that death results in only sixteen out of every thousand cases of diphtheria, when the antitoxin is given on or before the second day of the illness; 110, when given on the third day; and 210 when the inoculation is performed later. The old death rate from diphtheria, before antitoxin was discovered, ranged from 35 to 50 per cent. of those stricken.
Finally, there are the city bureaus, with powers vested, as a rule, in a medical man designated as "health officer," "agent," or "superintendent." What Massachusetts is to the State boards, New York City is to the local boards, but with even greater powers. Under the charter it has full power to make a sanitary code. Matters ranging from flat wheels on the Metropolitan Street Railway Company's antiquated cars, to soft coal smoke belched forth from factory chimneys, are subject to control by the New York City Department of Health. The Essex Street resident who keeps a pig in the cellar, and the Riverside Drive house-holder who pounds his piano at 1 A.M. to the detriment of his neighbor's slumber, are alike amenable to the metropolis' hired doctors.
The province of the city, State, and Federal health organization is broad. "Control over all matters affecting the public health" is a comprehensive term. "All the powers not already given to the school committees," observed a Massachusetts judge, "are now ceded to the Boards of Health." In theory, then, almost unlimited powers are vested in the authorities. But how carefully they must be exercised in order not to excite public jealousy and suspicion, every city health official well knows. More serious than interference and opposition, however, is the lack of any general equipment. At the very outset the loosely allied army of the public health finds itself lacking in the primal weapon of the campaign; comprehensive vital statistics.
Our Absurd Vital Statistics
Vital statistics in this country are an infant science. Yet they are the very basis and fundament of any attempt to better the general health. Knowledge of what is killing us before our time is the first step toward saving our lives. The Census Bureau does its best to acquire this essential information. For years Director North has been persistently hammering away at this point. But progress is slow. Only fifteen States, representing 48 per cent. of our population, are comprised in the "registration area"; that is, record all deaths, and forbid burial without a legal permit giving the cause of death and other details. Outside of this little group of States, the decedent may be tucked away informally underground and no one be the wiser for it. This is convenient for the enterprising murderers, and saves trouble for the undertakers. Indeed, so interested are the latter class, that in Iowa they secured the practical repeal of a law which would have brought that State within the area; and in Virginia this year they snowed under a similar bill in the legislature, by a flood of telegrams. Ohio, the third largest State in the Union, keeps no accurate count of the ravages of disease. Probably not more than 60 per cent. of its deaths are reported. Why? Inertia, apparently, on the part of the officials who should take the matter in charge. Governor Harris in his January message made a strong plea for registration, but without result. As for births, there is no such thing as general registration of them. So this matter is neglected, upon which depend such vital factors as school attendance, factory employment, marriage, military duty, and the very franchise which is the basis of citizenship. It is curious to note that Uruguay, in its official tables of comparative statistics, regrets its inability to draw satisfactory conclusions regarding the United States of America, because that nation has not yet attained to any scientific method of treating the subject. Patriotism may wince; but let us not haughtily demand any explanation from our sneering little neighbor. Explanations might be embarrassing. For the taunt is well founded.
Is it strange that, having no basis in national statistics, our local health figures "speak a varied language"? We have no standards even of death on which to base comparisons. But a dead man is a dead man, isn't he, whether in Maine or California? Not necessarily and unqualifiedly. In some Southern cities he may be a "dead colored man," hence thrown out of the figures on the "white death rate" which we are asked to regard as the true indication of health conditions. In New Orleans, until recently, he might be a "death in county hospital," and as such not counted—this to help produce a low death rate. In Salt Lake City he's a "dead stranger," and unpopular on account of raising the total figures for the city. They reckon their total rate there as 16.38, but their home rate or "real" rate as 10.88. That is to say, less than 11 out of every 1,000 residents die in a year. If this be true, the Salt Lake citizens must send their moribund into hasty exile, or give them rough on rats, so that they may not "die in the house." As for the "strangers within our gates" who raise the rate over 50 per cent. by their pernicious activity in perishing, the implication is clear: either Salt Lake City is one of the deadliest places in the world to a stranger, or else the newcomers simply commit suicide in large batches out of a malevolent desire to vitiate the mortality figures. The whole thing is an absurdity; as absurd as the illiterate and fallacious three-page leaflet which constitutes this community's total attempt at an annual health report.
St. Joseph, Missouri, claimed, one year, a rate of 6.5 deaths out of every 1,000 inhabitants. Were this figure authentic, the thriving Missouri city, by the law of probability, should be full of centenarians. It isn't. I essayed to study the local reports, hoping to discover some explanation of the phenomenon, but was politely and regretfully informed that St. Joseph's health authorities issued no annual reports. The natural explanation of the impossibly low rate is that the city is juggling its returns. In the first place, that favorite method of securing a low per capita death rate—estimating a population greatly in advance of its actual numbers—is indicated; since the community has fewer lines of sewers and a smaller area of parks than other cities of the size it claims—two elements which, by the way, would in themselves tend to militate against a low mortality. Perhaps, too, the city has that ingenious way of eliminating one disturbing feature, the deaths under one week or ten days, by regarding them as "still-births." Chicago used to have this habit; also the trick of counting out non-residents, who were so thoughtless as to die in the city. At present, it is counting honestly, I believe. Buffalo used to pad for publication purposes. One year it vaunted itself as the healthiest large city in the country. The boast was made on the original assumption of a population nearly 25,000 in excess of the United States Census figures, to which 20,000 more was added arbitrarily, the given reason being a "general belief" that the city had grown to that extent.
Perhaps as complete returns as any are obtained in Maryland, where the health official, Dr. Price, culls the death notices from 60 papers, checks up the returns from the official registrars, and if any are missing, demands an explanation by mail. It behooves the registrar to present a good excuse. Otherwise he is haled to court and fined. The Board has thus far never failed to secure a conviction.
Now, if the most concrete and easily ascertainable fact in public health statistics, the total of deaths, is often qualified or perverted, it follows that dependent data, such as the assigned causes of death, as required by law, are still more unreliable; so I shall keep as far away from statistics as possible except where some specific condition can be shown by approved figures or by figures so inherently self-disproved that they carry their own refutation.
The Criminal Negligence of Physicians
This unreliability may be set down to the account of the medical profession. Realizing though they do the danger of concealment from the proper authorities, and in the face of the law which, as it gives them special privileges, requires of them a certain return, a considerable percentage of physicians falsify the returns to protect the sensibilities of their patrons. That they owe protection rather to the lives of the public, they never stop to think. Tuberculosis is the disease most misreported. In many communities it is regarded as a disgrace to die of consumption. So it is. But the stigma rests upon the community which permits the ravage of this preventable disease; not upon the victims of it, except as they contribute to the general lethargy. In order to save the feelings of the family, a death from consumption is reported as bronchitis or pneumonia. The man is buried quietly. The premises are not disinfected, as they should be, and perhaps some unknowing victim moves into that germ-reeking atmosphere, as into a pitfall. Let me give an instance. A clergyman in a New York city told me of a death from consumption in his parish. The family had moved away, and the following week a young married couple with a six-months-old baby moved in.
"What can I do about it?" asked the clergyman. "Mr. Blank's death was said to be from pneumonia; but that was only the final cause. He had been consumptive for a year."
"Warn the new tenants," I suggested, "and have them ask the Health Board to disinfect."
More than a year later I met the clergyman on a train and recalled the case to him. "Yes," he said, "those people thought it was too much trouble to disinfect, particularly since the reports did not give tuberculosis as the cause of death. Now their child is dying of tuberculosis of the intestines."
In this case, had the death been properly reported by the dead man's physician, as the law required, the City Board would have compelled disinfection of the house before the new tenants were allowed to move in. The physician who obligingly falsified that report is morally guilty of homicide through criminal negligence.
In Salt Lake City, in 1907, 43 deaths were ascribed to tuberculosis—undoubtedly a broad understatement. And in the face of the ordinance requiring registration of all cases of consumption, only five persons were reported as ill of the disease. By all the recognized rules of proportion, 43 deaths in a year meant at least 500 cases, which, unreported, and hence in many instances unattended by any measures for prevention of the spread of infection, constituted so many separate radiating centers of peril to the whole community.
Why is such negligence on the part of physicians not punished? Because health officials dread to offend the medical profession. In this respect, however, a vast improvement is coming about. Pennsylvania, Maryland, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other States are not afraid to prosecute and fine delinquents; nor are a growing number of cities, among them Boston, New York, Rochester, Providence, and New Orleans. The great majority of such prosecutions, however, are for failure to notify the authorities of actively contagious diseases, such as scarlet fever, diphtheria, and smallpox.
"Business Interests" and Yellow Fever
Epidemics are, nevertheless, in the early stages, often misreported. If they were not—if early knowledge of threatening conditions were made public—the epidemics would seldom reach formidable proportions. But—and here is the national hygienic failing—the first instinct is to conceal smallpox, typhoid, or any other disease that assumes epidemic form. Repeated observations of this tendency have deprived me of that knock-kneed reverence for Business Interests which is the glorious heritage of every true American. As a matter of fact, Business Interests when involved with hygienic affairs are always a malign influence, and usually an incredibly stupid one. It was so in New Orleans, where the leading commercial forces of the city, in secret meeting, called the health officer before them and brow-beat him into concealing the presence of yellow fever, lest other cities quarantine against their commerce. And "concealed" it was, until it had secured so firm a foothold that suppression was no longer practicable, and the city only averted a tremendously disastrous epidemic by the best-fought and most narrowly won battle ever waged in this country against an invading disease.
It is interesting to note, by the way, that this epidemic, with its millions of dollars of loss to the city of New Orleans, might have been averted at a comparatively small cost, had the city fathers possessed the intelligence and foresight to adopt a plan devised by Dr. Quitman Kohnke, the city health officer. New Orleans gets its drinking water from private cisterns. Each of these is a breeding place for the yellow-fever-bearing mosquito. Dr. Kohnke introduced a bill a year before the epidemic, providing for the screening of all the cisterns, so that the mosquitos might not spread abroad; and also for the destruction by oil of the insects in the open pools. The total cost would hardly have exceeded $200,000. But there was no yellow fever in the city then; the public had recovered from its latest scare; and the bill was voted down with derision. I suppose the saving of that $200,000 cost New Orleans some forty or fifty million dollars in all.
Seldom does a Southern State discover yellow fever within its own borders. It is always Mississippi that finds the infection in New Orleans, and Louisiana that finds it in Galveston. This apparently curious condition of affairs is explicable readily enough, on the ground that no State wishes to discover the germ in its own veins, but is quite willing, for commercial reasons, to point out the bacillus in the system of its neighbor. In 1897 Texas was infected pretty widely with yellow fever; but pressure on the boards of health kept them from reporting it for what it was. In light cases they called it dengue or breakbone fever. Now, dengue has this short-coming: that people do not die of it. Disobliging sufferers from the alleged "dengue" began to fill up the cemeteries, thereby embarrassing the local authorities, until one of the health officers had a brilliant idea. "When they die," he said, "we'll call it malarial fever." And as such it went upon the records. Two recalcitrant members of the Galveston Health Board reported certain extremely definite cases as yellow fever. They were forced to resign, and the remainder of the Board passed resolutions declaring that there was no yellow fever, there never had been any yellow fever, and there never would be any yellow fever as long as they held their jobs—or words to that effect. San Antonio also had the epidemic; so much of it that the mail service was suspended; but nothing worse than dengue was permitted to go on the records. Later a Marine Hospital Service surgeon was sent by the government to investigate and report on the Texas situation. He told the truth as he found it and became exceedingly unpopular. Lynching was one of the mildest things they were going to do to him in Texas. And all this time, while Texas was strenuously claiming freedom from the yellow plague, her emissaries were discovering cases in New Orleans that the local authorities there had somehow carelessly overlooked. The game of quarantine, as played by the health authorities of the far Southern States, and played for money stakes, if you please, is not an edifying spectacle in twentieth century civilization.
Newspapers, Politicians, and the Bubonic Plague
But if it is bad in the South, it is worse in the West. To-day California is paying for her sins of eight years ago in suppressing honest reports of bubonic plague, when she should have been suppressing the plague itself. That the dreaded Asiatic pest maintains its foothold there is due to the cowardice and dishonesty of the clique then in power, which constituted a scandal unparalleled in our history, a scandal that, with the present growing enlightenment, can never be repeated.
Early in 1900 the first case of the present bubonic plague onset appeared in San Francisco's Chinatown. I say "present" because I believe it has never wholly died out in the last eight years. A conference of the managing editors of the newspapers, known as the "midnight meeting," was held, at which it was decided that no news should be printed admitting the plague. The Chronicle started by announcing under big headlines: "Plague Fake Part of Plot to Plunder." "There Is No Bubonic Plague in San Francisco." This was "in the interest of business." Meantime the Chinese, aided by local politicians, were hiding their sick. Out of the first 100 cases, I believe only three were discovered otherwise than by the finding of the dead bodies. Sick Chinamen were shipped away; venal doctors diagnosed the pest as "chicken cholera," "septemia hemorrhagica," "diphtheria" and other known and unknown ailments.
In May, 1900, came the blow that all San Francisco had dreaded: Texas and New Orleans quarantined against the city, and business languished. At this time two men were in control of the plague situation: Dr. Williamson of the City Board of Health and Dr. J. J. Kinyoun of the Marine Hospital Service. Dr. Williamson and Dr. Kinyoun both declared plague to be present in the city. The business interests represented in the Merchants' Association appealed to Kinyoun to suppress his reports to Washington. In return he invited them to read the law which compelled him to make reports. They then tackled Dr. Williamson, who replied that he'd tell the truth as he found it, and if it was distasteful to them, they needn't listen. They went to Mayor Phelan demanding Williamson's head on a salver. Mayor Phelan stuck by his man. Governor Gage they found more amenable. He issued a proclamation declaring that there was no plague. Governor Gage is not a physician or a man of scientific attainment. There is nothing in his record or career to show that he could distinguish between a plague bacillus and a potato-bug. Nevertheless he spent considerable of the State's money wiring positive and unauthorized statements to Washington. His State Board of Health refused to stand by him and he cut off their appropriation; whereupon they resigned, and he secured another and more servile board, remolded nearer to the heart's desire. Meantime the newspapers were strenuously denying all the real facts of the epidemic, their policy culminating in the complete suppression of plague news. Before this, however, they so inflamed public opinion against Dr. Kinyoun and Dr. Williamson that these two gentlemen became pariahs. Here are a few of the amenities of journalism in the golden West, culled from the display heads of the papers:
"Kinyoun, Enemy of the City."
"Has Kinyoun Gone Mad?"
"Desperate, Kinyoun Commits Another Outrage on San Francisco."
"Board of Health for Graft and Plunder."
"Our Bubonic Board."
One gentle patriot in the State Senate suggested in a thoughtful and logical speech that Dr. Kinyoun should be hanged. This practical spirit so appealed to the Chinese organizations (it was Chinatown that suffered chiefly from the quarantine rigors) that those bodies put a price of $10,000 on Kinyoun's head—not his political head, understand, but the head which was very firmly set on a pair of broad shoulders. Some of the officer's friends went to the Chinese Consul-General and explained unofficially that they would hold him responsible for any accident to Dr. Kinyoun. That personage, supposing that they were suggesting the slow accounting of diplomacy, smiled blandly and said:
"Gentlemen, I sympathize with you; but what can I do?" "Do?" said the spokesman, "Why, you can climb a lamp-post at the end of a rope within one hour of the time that Kinyoun is killed. That's what you can and will do."
The bland smile disappeared from the Oriental's face. He summoned a conference of the secret societies, and the reward for Kinyoun's death was abrogated. Next, the white politicians of Chinatown tried their hand and organized a lynching bee, but the intrepid doctor fortified his quarters, armed his men, and was so obviously prepared for trouble that the mob did nothing more than gather. Arrested twice on trumped-up charges, threatened for contempt of court, he continued to fulfill his duties. Governor Gage and the Republican State Committee now inaugurated a campaign of influence upon President McKinley, which resulted in a Federal Commission, consisting of Drs. Flexner, Barker, and Novy, all eminent scientists, being sent to the troubled city; where, instead of being received with honors, they were abused by the newspapers; insulted by the Governor; and had the humiliation of seeing the doors of the University of California slammed in their faces after they had been invited there. Of course, the Commission found bubonic plague, because it was there for any one to find.
Thus far the United States Marine Hospital authorities had stood back of their men. Now they began to weaken. The findings of the Federal Commission were kept out of the weekly service reports, and data of the epidemic were edited out of the public health bulletins, in disregard of the law. Even this subserviency did not satisfy the California delegation; they wanted Kinyoun out.
And, on April 6, 1901, after a year's brave fight in the face of public contumely and constant physical danger, Dr. Kinyoun was kicked up-stairs into a soft berth at Detroit. He resigned. So the M. H. S. lost a brave, faithful, and able public servant and for once blackened its own fine record.
There isn't space to give the rest of the plague history; how it cropped out in other parts of California; how it was shipped to Matanza, Mexico, and all but ruined that town; how the hated local Health Board, in the face of the Governor of the State, and the Federal authorities, stuck to their guns and won the fight, for San Francisco finally admitted the presence of the plague, and asked for governmental aid. Rupert Blue, one of the best surgeons in the Marine Hospital Service, was assigned to the terrified city, and though he has not been able to wipe out the pestilence, the fact that the smoldering danger has not broken into devastating flame is due largely to his unremitting watchfulness and his unhampered authority. "Business Interests" have had their trial in San Francisco. And San Francisco has had enough of "suppression." To-day the truth is being told about bubonic plague in the public health reports, and, I believe, in the newspapers.
Rochester, New York, one of the most progressive cities in the country in hygienic matters, has established an excellent system of school inspection and free treatment. But the children who most need attention lack it through the carelessness or negligence of their parents. Now, it is this very "submerged tenth" who are set to work early in life. Under the law, the health officer cannot say, "Unless you are sound, you shall not attend school." But there is an ordinance providing that, without a certificate of good physical condition, no child shall be permitted to work in a store or factory. So Dr. Goler refuses these certificates, not only in cases of low vitality and under-nutrition, but for any defect in the applicant's teeth, sense-apparatus, or tonsils, a fertile source of future debility. What is the result? There is a rush of these neglected youngsters to the clinics, and the Rochester schools graduate every year into the world of labor a class of young citizens in splendid physical condition, unhandicapped by the taints which make, not for death alone, but for vice and crime. For the great moral lesson of modern hygiene is that debility and immorality run in a vicious parallel.
As I have said, the most thoroughly organized city department is that of New York City, and this is so because public opinion in New York, taught by long experience that its trust will not be betrayed, is, in so far as it turns upon sanitary matters at all, solidly behind its health department. Hence its guardians work with a free hand.
Fighting Prejudice and the Death Rate in Charleston
But what is the guardian to do when the guarded refuse to bear their share of the burden; refuse, indeed, to manifest any calculable interest, except in the way of occasional opposition? Such is the case in Charleston, South Carolina, where every man aspires to do just as his remotest recognizable ancestor did, and the best citizens would all live in trees and eat nuts if they were fully convinced of the truth of the Darwinian theory. Charleston, lovely, romantic, peaceful Charleston, swept by ocean breezes and the highest death rate of any considerable American city; breathing serenely the perfume of its flowers and the bacilli of its in-bred tuberculosis; Charleston, so delightful to the eye, so surprising to the nose!
By accident Charleston got an efficient health officer not long ago. A deserved epidemic of smallpox had descended upon the unvaccinated negroes and scared the tranquil city. Dr. J. Mercier Green was called from private practice to tackle the situation. For weeks he waded in the gore of lacerated arms, and his path through darkest Charleston could be followed by rising and falling waves of Afro-American ululations; but he checked the epidemic, and when three months later the city physician died, he got the place. Now, had Dr. Green been wise in his generation, he would have been content to keep his municipal patient reasonably free from smallpox and live a quiet life. But he straightway manifested an exasperating interest in other ailments. He stirred up the matter of the water supply, regardless of the fact that all Charleston's great-great-grandfather had drunk water from polluted cisterns and died of typhoid as a gentleman should. He pitched into doctors nearly old enough to be his own great-great-grandfather because they failed to report diseases properly. He answered back, in the public prints, the unanswerable Good-Old-Way argument. He opined, quite openly, that there was too much tuberculosis, too high an infant mortality, too prevalent a habit of contagious disease, and he more than hinted that the city itself was at fault.
In the matter of the cisterns, for instance. Charleston now has a good city water supply, fairly free from contamination where it starts, and safely filtered before it reaches the city. But a great many of "our best citizens" prefer their own cisterns, on the grandfather principle. These are underground, for the most part, and are regularly supplied from the roof-drainage. Also, they are intermittently supplied by leakage from adjacent privy-vaults, Charleston having a very rudimentary and fractional sewerage-system. Therefore typhoid is not only logical but inevitable. I have no such revolutionary contempt for private rights as to deny the privilege of any gentleman to drink such form of sewage as best pleases him; but when it comes to supplying the public schools with this poison, the affair is somewhat different. Yet, as far as the Charleston Board of School Commissioners has felt constrained to go, up to date, is this: they have written to the City Physician asking that "occasional inspection" of the cisterns be made, and decorating their absurd request with ornamental platitudes.
With sewage it is the same situation. There is, indeed, a primitive sewer system in part of the city. But any attempt to extend it meets with a determined and time-rooted opposition. The Charlestonians are afraid of sewer-gas, but apparently have no fear of the filth which generates sewer-gas; said filth accumulating in Charleston's streets, subject only to the attention of the dissipated-looking buzzards, which are one of the conservative and local features of the place. I have seen these winged scavengers at work. It is not an appetizing sight. But with one exception they afford the only example of unofficial effort toward the betterment of sanitary conditions, that I witnessed in Charleston. The other came from a policeman, patiently poking with his club at the vent of one of the antediluvian sewers, which had—as usual—become blocked. Yet, despite public indifference and opposition, Dr. Green, without any special training or brilliant ability as a sanitarian, is, by dogged, fighting persistency lowering the death-rate of his city.
There is also a non-medical legislator to whom Charleston owes a debt of unacknowledged gratitude. Mr. James Cosgrove succeeded in getting the Charleston Neck marshes, wherein breeds the malaria-mosquito, drained. Since then the death rate from malaria, which was nothing less than scandalous, has dwindled to proportions that are almost respectable—if, indeed, it were respectable to permit any deaths from an easily destructible nuisance like the mosquito. Nearly all our cities, by the way, are curiously indifferent to the depredations of this man-eater. Suppose, for an example, that Trenton, New Jersey, were suddenly beset by a brood of copperhead snakes, which killed, let us say, two or three people a week and dangerously poisoned ten times that number. What an anti-snake campaign there would be in that aroused and terrified community! Well, that much more dangerous wild creature, the Anopheles mosquito, in a recent year slew more than 100 people in Savannah, Georgia, without arousing any public resentment. And Jacksonville's home brood in 1901 slaughtered 90 of its 30,000 citizens and dangerously poisoned probably 1000 more. New Orleans, by the way, having executed a triumphant massacre of the yellow fever mosquito (stegomyia) is now undertaking to rid itself of all the other varieties. And Baltimore's health bureau has succeeded in obtaining a grant of $10,000 for the purpose of demonstrating the feasibility of mosquito-extermination.
Killing Off the City Negro
Throughout the South, figures and conditions alike are complicated by the negro problem. Southern cities keep a separate roster of mortalities; one for the whites, one for the blacks. In so far as they expect to be judged by the white rate alone, this is a manifestly unfair procedure, since, allowing for a certain racial excess of liability to disease, the negro in the South corresponds, in vital statistics, to the tenement-dweller in the great cities. If New Orleans is to set aside its negro mortality, that is; the death rate among those living in the least favorable environment, New York should set apart the deaths in the teeming rookeries east of the Bowery, the most crowded district in the world, and ask to be judged on the basis of what remains after that exclusion. New York, however, would be glad to diminish the mortality in its tenements. New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston, or Savannah would be loath to diminish their negro mortality. That is the frank statement of what may seem a brutal fact. The negro is extremely fertile. He breeds rapidly. In those cities where he gathers, unless he also died rapidly, he would soon overwhelm the whites by sheer force of numbers. But, as it is, he dies about as rapidly as he breeds. Recent statistics in Savannah, for instance, showed this curious situation:
Excess of births over deaths among the whites, 245.
Excess of births over deaths among the blacks, 10.
Health Officer Brunner has stated the case, in a manner which, I fancy, required no little courage in an official of a Southern community:
We face the following issues: First: one set of people, the Caucasian, with a normal death-rate of less than 16 per thousand per annum, and right alongside of them is the Negro race with a death-rate of 25 to 30 per thousand. Second: the first named race furnishing a normal amount of criminals and paupers and the second race of people furnishing an abnormal percentage of lawbreakers and paupers.
Is the Negro receiving a square deal? Let this commission investigate the houses he lives in; why, in his race, tuberculosis is increasing; why he furnishes his enormous quota to the chain-gang and the penitentiary. Observe the house he must live in, the food that he must eat, and learn of all his environments. The negro is with you for all time. He is what you will make him and it is "up" to the white people to prevent him from becoming a criminal and to guard him against tuberculosis, syphilis, etc. If he is tainted with disease you will suffer; if he develops criminal tendencies you will be affected.
Will not the white South, eventually, in order to save itself from disease, be forced to save its negroes from disease? It would seem an inevitable conclusion.
Private Interests in Public Murder
Always and everywhere present are the private influences which work against the public health. Individuals and corporations owning foul tenements or lodging-houses resent, by all the evasions inherent in our legal system, every endeavor to eliminate the perilous conditions from which they take their profit. For the precious right to dump refuse into streams and lakes, sundry factories, foundries, slaughter-houses, glue works, and other necessary but unsavory industries send delegations to the legislature and oppose the creation of any body having authority to abate the nuisances.
Purveyors of bad milk decline to clean up their dairies until the outbreak of some disease which they have been distributing by the can brings down the authorities upon them. Could the general public but know how often minor accesses of scarlet fever, diphtheria, and typhoid follow the lines of a specific milk route, there would be a tremendous and universal impetus to the needed work of milk inspection. In this respect the country is the enemy of the city: the country, which, with its own overwhelming natural advantages, distributes and radiates what disease it does foster among its urban neighbors, by sheer ignorance or sheer obstinate resistance to the "new-fangled notions of science." Such men as the late Colonel Waring of New York, Dr. Fulton of Baltimore, and Dr. Wende of Buffalo have repeatedly pointed out the debt of death and suffering which the city, often well organized against infections, owes to the unorganized and uncaring rural districts. Reciprocity in health matters can be represented, numerically, by the figure zero. It occasionally happens that the conflict between private and public interests assumes an obviously amusing phase. The present admirable Food and Drug Department of the Indiana board was not established without considerable opposition. One of the chief objectors was a member of the legislature, who made loud lamentation regarding the expense. Up rose another legislator, all primed for the fight, and asked if the objector would answer a few questions. The objector consented.
"Do you know the W—— baking-powder?"
"Do you know that it would naturally come to the food laboratory for analysis, were such a laboratory established?"
"I suppose it might."
"Do you know that the W—— baking-powder is 20 per cent. clay?"
"Would it surprise you to learn that it contained a high percentage of clay?"
"Are you counsel for the W—— Baking Powder Co.?"
It was enough. The bill passed.
Everybody's health is nobody's business. There, as I see it, is the bane of the whole situation at present. To be sure, epidemics occasionally wake us up. And, really, an epidemic is a fine thing for a city to have. It is the only scourge that drives us busy Americans to progress. It took an epidemic of typhoid, a shameful and dreadful one, to teach Ithaca that it must not drink filth. Only after Scranton faced a thousand cases of the fever did it assert itself and demand protection for its water supply. New Orleans would probably be having (and concealing) yellow fever yet, but for the paralysis of fright which the onset of three years ago caused. Boston's fine system of medical inspection in the schools is the outcome of a diphtheria scare. Smallpox is a splendid stimulator of vaccination; so much so that some of the country's leading sanitarians now advocate the abolition of pest-houses for this avoidable ailment, and dependence upon the vaccine virus alone.
But epidemics are only the guerrilla attacks of the general enemy. It is in the diseases always with us that the peril lies. Tuberculosis, carrying off ten per cent. of the entire nation, and making its worst ravages upon those in the prime of life, is a more terrible foe than was ever smallpox, or cholera, or yellow fever, or any of the grisly sounding bugaboos. Why, not so long ago, three highly civilized States went into quite a little frenzy over a poor dying wretch of a leper who had got loose; whereas every man that spits on the floor of a building wherein people live or work is more of an actual peril, in that one foul act, than the leper in his whole stricken life. The twin shames of venereal disease, blinked by every health board in the country (Detroit possibly deserves a partial exception) are, in their effect upon the race, in blindness, deafness, idiocy, and death so dreadful a menace to-day, that consumption alone can march beside them in the leadership of the destroyers. Typhoid, so easily conquerable, claims its annual thousands of sacrificed victims. And the slaughter of the innocents goes endlessly on, recorded only in the dire figures of infant mortality. To-day, as I write, the whole nation is thrilled with horror at the tragedy of 150 young lives snuffed out in a needless school panic in Cleveland. Had my pen the power, perhaps I could thrill the nation with horror over the more dreadful fact that some 1100 children under five years of age die yearly in Fall River, the vast majority of them sacrificed to bad food and living conditions that might better be called dying conditions. One half of the total mortality of that busy, profit-yielding city is among children under five years of age, two-fifths among children under one year. Does no baneful light shine from those figures?
Yet, over and above the minor discouragements, failures, and set-backs, looms the tremendous fact of a universal and gathering movement. It is still, in any general sense, inchoate, and, except in certain specific relations, invertebrate. But one cannot follow the work of the public health guardians without feeling the cumulative force of progress. As I have said, the newspapers have been a vital element in awaking the public. Associations are being formed the country over for the prevention of disease. There is a steady increase in the power and authority of those officially charged with hygienic control. Makers of deleterious or poisonous foods, and the vultures who prey on the sick through fraudulent patent medicines are being curbed by pure food and drug laws. Milk inspection is saving the lives of more children every year, as meat inspection is prolonging the lives of the poor. Definite instances of progress are almost startling: the fact that Massachusetts has so purified its public waters that for a year there has been no typhoid epidemic ascribable to any public supply; the passage of a radical law in Indiana which forbids the marriage of imbeciles, epileptics, and persons suffering from a contagious or venereal disease; the saving of babies' lives at $10 a life in Rochester by pure milk protected and guaranteed by the municipality; the halving of the diphtheria death rate by the free distribution of antitoxin; the slow but sure and universal yearly decrease in the Great White Plague—all these and more are the first, slow, powerful evidences of national progress.
A LITTLE VICTORY FOR THE GENERAL
BY JOSEPHINE DASKAM BACON
ILLUSTRATIONS BY REGINALD BIRCH
Caroline, Miss Honey, and the General were taking the morning air. Caroline walked ahead, her chin well up, her nose sniffing pleasurably the unaccustomed asphalt, the fresh damp of the river, and the watered bridle path. The starched ties at the back of her white pinafore fairly took the breeze, as she swung along to the thrilling clangor of the monster hurdy-gurdy. Miss Honey, urban and blase, balanced herself with dignity upon her long, boat-shaped roller-skates, and watched with patronizing interest the mysterious jumping through complicated diagrams chalked on the pavement by young persons with whom she was unacquainted.
The General sucked a clothespin meditatively: his eyes were fixed on something beyond his immediate surroundings. Occasionally a ravishing smile swept up from the dimples at his mouth to the yellow rings beneath his cap frill; he flapped his hands, emitting soft, vague sounds. At such times a wake of admiration bubbled behind him. Delia, who propelled his carriage, pursed her lips consciously and affected not to hear the enraptured comments of the women who passed them.
To the left the trees, set in a smooth green carpet, threw out tiny, polished, early May leaves; graceful, white-coated children dotted the long park. Beyond them the broad blue river twinkled in the sun, the tugs and barges glided down, the yachts strained their white sails against the purple bluffs of the Palisades. To the right towered the long, unbroken rows of brick and stone; story on story of shining windows, draped and muffled in silk and lace; flight after flight of clean granite steps, polite, impersonal, hostile as the monuments in a graveyard.
Immobile ladies glided by on the great pleasure drive, like large tinted statues, dressed altogether as the colored pictures in fashion books, holding white curly dogs in their curved arms; the coachmen in front of them seemed carved in plum-colored broadcloth; only by watching the grooms' eyelids could one ascertain that they were flesh and blood. Young girls, two, three, and four, cantered by; their linen habits rose and fell decorously, their hair was smooth. Mounted policemen, glorious in buttons, breathing out authority, curvetted past, and everywhere and always the chug-chug-chug of the gleaming, fierce-eyed motor cars filled one's ears. They darted past, flaming scarlet, somber olive, and livid white; a crouching, masked figure intent at the wheel, veiled, shapeless women behind, a whir of dust to show where they had been a breath before.
And everywhere, as far as the eye could reach, a thin stream of white and pink and blue, a tumbling river of curls and caps and bare legs, were the children. A babble of shrill cries, of chattering laughter, of fretful screams, an undercurrent of remonstrance, of soothing patience, of angry threatening, marked their slow progress up and down the walk.
To Caroline, fresh from untrammeled sporting through neighborly suburban yards, this disciplined procession, under the escort of Delia and the General, was fascinating to a degree. Far from resenting the authority she would have scorned at home, she derived an intense satisfaction from it, and pranced ostentatiously beside the perambulator, mimicking Miss Honey's unconscious reference to a higher power in the matter of suitable crossings and preferred playfellows with the absorbed gravity of the artist.
"See! General, see the wobblybubble," Delia murmured affectionately. "(Will you see that child turn his head just like a grown person? Did you ever see anything as smart as that?) Did he like the red one best? So does Delia. We'll come over here, and then you won't get the sun in your precious eyes. Do you want me to push you frontwards, so you can see me? Just wait till we get across, and I will. Look out, Miss Honey! Take hold of your cousin's hand and run across together, now, like good girls."
Miss Honey made an obedient snatch at Caroline's apron strings, and darted forward with a long roll of her skates. The road was clear for a block. Delia, with a quick glance to left and right, lowered the perambulator to the road level and forged ahead. Caroline, nose in air, studied the nearest policeman curiously.
"Look out, there! Look out!"
A man's voice like a pistol shot crashed behind them. Caroline heard quick steps and a woman's scream, and looked up at a huge, blood-red bulk that swooped around the corner and dashed forward. But Miss Honey's hand was clutching her apron string, and Miss Honey's weight as she fell, tangled in the skates, dragged her down. Caroline, toppling, caught in one dizzy backward glance a vision of a face staring down on her, white as chalk under a black mustache and staring goggles, and another face, Delia's, white too, with eyes more strained and terrible than the goggles themselves. One second that look swept her and Miss Honey, and then, shifting, fell upon the General strapped securely into his carriage. Even as Caroline caught her breath, he flew by her like an arrow, his blue eyes round with surprise under a whirl of white parasol, the wicker body of the perambulator swaying and lurching. With that breath still in her nostrils, she was pushed violently against Miss Honey, who was dragged over her from the other side by a large hairy hand. A sharp blow from her boot heel struck Caroline's cheek, and she screamed with the pain; but her cry was lost in the louder one that echoed around her as the dust from the red monster blew in her eyes and shut out Delia's figure, flat on the ground, one arm over her face as the car rushed over.
"My God! She's down!" That was the man.
"Take his number!" a shrill voice pierced the growing confusion.
Caroline, crying with pain, was forced to her feet and stumbled along, one apron string twisted fast in Miss Honey's hand.
"Here, get out o' this—don't let the children see anything! Let's get home."
"No, wait a minute. Let's see if she's alive. Have they got the ambulance?"
"Look out, there, Miss Dorothy, you just stop by me, or you'll be run over, too!"
"See! She's moving her head! Maybe she's not——"
Sobbing with excitement, Caroline wrenched herself free from the tangle of nurses and carriages, and pushed her way through the crowd. Against the curb, puffing and grinding, stood the great red engine; on the front seat a tall policeman sat; one woman in the back leaned over another, limp against the high cushions, and fanned her with the stiff vizor of her leather cap.
"It's all right, dear, it's all right," she repeated monotonously, with set lips, "the doctor's coming. It's all right."
Caroline wriggled between two policemen, and made for a striped blue and white skirt that lay motionless on the ground. Across the white apron ran a broad, dirty smudge.
Caroline ran forward.
"Delia! Delia!" she gulped. "Is she—is she dead?"
A little man with eye-glasses looked up from where he knelt beside the blue and white skirt.
"I don't believe so, my dear," he said briskly. "Is this your nurse? See, she's opening her eyes now—speak to her gently."
As he shifted a leather-covered flask from one hand to the other, Caroline saw a strange face with drawn, purplish lids where she had always known two merry gray eyes, and tight thin lips she could not believe Delia's. A nervous fear seized her, and she turned to run away; but she remembered suddenly how kind Delia had been to her; how that very morning—it seemed so long ago, now—Delia had helped her with her stubby braids of hair, and chided Miss Honey for laughing at her ignorance of the customs of the park. She gathered her courage together and crouched down by the silent, terrifying figure.
"Hel—hello, Delia!" she began jerkily, wincing as the eyes opened and stared stupidly at the ring of anxious faces. "How do you feel, Delia?"
"Lean down," said the little man softly, "she wants to say something."
Caroline leaned lower.
"General," Delia muttered, "where's General?"
The little man frowned.
"Do you know what she means?" he asked.
Caroline patted her bruised cheek.
"Of course I do," she said shortly. "That's the baby. Oh," as she remembered, "where is the General?"
"Here—here's the baby," called some one. "Push over that carriage," and a woman crowded through the ring with the General, pink and placid under his parasol.
"Lift him out," said the little man, and as the woman fumbled at the strap, he picked the baby out neatly and held him down by the girl on the ground.
"Here's your baby, Delia," he said, with a kind roughness in his voice. "Safe and sound—not a scratch! Can you sit up and take him?"
And then, while the standing crowd craned their necks, and even the steady procession, moving in the way the police kept clear for them, paused a moment to stare, while the little doctor held his breath and the ambulance came clanging up the street, Delia sat up as straight as the mounted policeman beside her and held out her arms.
"General, oh, General!" she cried, and buried her face in his fat warm neck.
The men coughed, the women's faces twisted, but the little doctor watched her intently.
"Move your leg," he said sharply. "Now the other. Hurt you? Not at all?"
He turned to the young man in a white jacket, who had jumped from the back of the ambulance.
"I thought so," he said. "Though it didn't seem possible. I saw the thing go over her. Right over her apron—never touched her. Half an inch more——"
"Please, is Miss—the other little girl—is she——"
This was Delia's old voice, and Caroline smiled happily at her.
"She's all right, Delia—here she is!"
Miss Honey limped across on one roller skate, pale, but conscious of her dramatic value, and the crowd drew a long breath of relief.
"You are a very brave girl," said the doctor, helping Delia to her feet and tucking the General, who alternately growled and cooed at his clothespin, into the perambulator. "You have undoubtedly saved the lives of all three of these children, and their parents will appreciate it, you may be sure. The way you sent that baby wagon flying across the street—well, any time you're out of a job, just come to me, that's all. Dr. Gibbs, West Forty-ninth. Can you walk now? How far do you have to go?"
The crowd had melted like smoke. Only the most curious and the idlest lingered and watched the hysteria of the woman in the automobile, who clutched her companion, weeping and laughing. The chauffeur sat stolid, but Caroline's keen round eyes saw that he shook from the waist down like a man in a chill.
"Yes, sir, I'm all right. It's not so very far." But Delia leaned on the handle she pushed, and the chug-chug of the great car sent the blood out of her cheeks. The little doctor frowned.
"Look here," he said, "I'll tell you what you'll do. You come down these steps with me, there aren't but three of them, you see, and we'll just step in here a moment. I don't know what house it is, but I guess it'll be all right."
Before Delia could protest, he had pressed the button, and a man in livery was opening the door.
"We've just escaped a nasty accident out here," said the little doctor easily. "You were probably looking out of the window? Yes. Well, this young woman is a sort of a patient of mine—Dr. Gibbs, West Forty-ninth Street—and though she's very plucky and perfectly uninjured, I want her to rest a moment in the hall here and have a drink of water, if your mistress doesn't object. Just take this card up and explain the circumstances and"—his hand went into his pocket a moment—"that's about all. Sit down, my dear."
The man took in at a glance the neat uniform of the nurse, the General's smart, if diminutive, apparel, and the unmistakable though somewhat ruffled exterior of Miss Honey.
"Very well, sir," he said, politely, taking the card. "It will be all right, sir, I'm sure. Thank you, sir. Sit down, please. It will be all right. I will tell Madame Nicola."
"Well, well, so this is Madame Nicola's!" The little doctor looked around him appreciatively, as the servant ran up the stairs.
"I wish I could stay with you, chickens, but I'm late for an appointment as it is. I must rush along. Now, mind you, stay here half an hour, Delia, and sit down. You're no trouble at all, and Madame Nicola knows who I am—if she remembers. I sprayed her throat once, if I'm not mistaken—she was on a tour, at Pittsburg. She'll take care of you." He opened the door. "You're a good girl, you biggest one," he added, nodding at Caroline. "You do as you're told. Good-bye."
The door shut, and Caroline, Miss Honey, and Delia looked at each other in a daze. Tears filled Delia's eyes, but she controlled her voice and only said huskily, "Come here, Miss Honey, and let me brush you off—you look dreadful. Did it—were you—are you hurt, dear?"
"No, but you pushed me awful hard, Delia, and a nasty big man grabbed me and tore my guimpe—see! I wish you'd told me what you were going to do," began Miss Honey irritably.
"And you gave me a big kick—it was me he grabbed—look at my cheek!" Caroline's lips began to twitch; she felt hideously tired, suddenly.
"Children, children, don't quarrel. General, darling, won't you sit still, please? You hurt Delia's knees, and you feel so heavy. Oh, I wish we were all home!"
The man in uniform came down the stairs. "Will you all step up, madame says, and she has something for you up there. I'll take the baby," as Delia's eyes measured the climb. "Lord, I won't drop her—I've got two o' my own. 'Bout a year, isn't she?"
"He's a boy," panted Delia, as she rested her weight on the rail, "and he's only eight months last week," with a proud smile at the General's massive proportions.
"Well, he is a buster, isn't he? Here is the nurse, madame, and the children. The doctor has gone."
Caroline stretched her eyes wide and abandoned herself to a frank inspection of her surroundings. For this she must be pardoned, for every square inch of the dark, deep-colored room had been taken bodily from Italian palaces of the most unimpeachable Renaissance variety. With quick intuition, she immediately recognized a background for many a tale of courts and kings hitherto unpictured to herself, and smiled with pleasure at the Princess who advanced, most royally clad in long, pink, lace-clouded draperies, to meet them.
"You are the brave nurse my maid told me about," said the Princess; "she saw it all. You ought to be very proud of your quick wit. I have some sherry for you, and you must lie down a little, and then I will send you home."
Delia blushed and sank into a high carved chair, the General staring curiously about him. "It wasn't anything at all," she said awkwardly; "if I could have a drink——"
Caroline checked the Princess as she moved toward a wonderful colored decanter with wee sparkling tumblers like curved bits of rainbow grouped about it.
"Delia means a drink of water," she explained politely. "She only drinks water—sometimes a little tea, but most usu'lly water."
"The sherry will do her more good, I think," the Princess returned, noticing Caroline for the first time, apparently, her hand on the decanter.
At this point Miss Honey descended from a throne of faded wine-colored velvet, and addressed the Princess with her most impressive and explanatory manner.
"It won't do you any good at all to pour that out," she began, with her curious little air of delivering a set address, prepared in private some time before, "and I'll tell you why. Delia knew a nurse once that drank some beer, and the baby got burned, and she never would drink anything if you gave her a million dollars. Besides, it makes her sick."
The Princess looked amused and turned to a maid who appeared at that moment, with apron strings rivaling Caroline's.
"Get me a glass of water, please," she said, "and what may I give you—milk, perhaps? I don't know very well what children drink."
"Thank you, we'd like some water, too," Miss Honey returned primly; "we had some soda-water, strawberry, once to-day."
Caroline cocked her head to one side and tried to remember what the lady's voice made her think of. Suddenly it came to her. It was not like a person talking at all, it was like a person singing. Up and down her voice traveled, loud and soft; it was quite pleasant to hear it.
"Do you feel better now? I am very glad. Bring in that reclining chair, Ellis, from my room; these great seats are rather stiff," said the Princess, and Delia, protesting, was made comfortable in a large curved lounging basket, with the General, contentedly putting his clothespin through its paces, in her arm.
"How old is it?" the Princess inquired after an interval of silence.
"He's eight months, madame, last week—eight months and ten days, really."
"That's not very old, now, is it?" pursued the lady. "I suppose they don't know very much, do they, so young?"
"Indeed he does, though," Delia protested. "You'll be surprised. Just watch him, now. Look at Delia, darlin'; where's Delia?"
The General withdrew his lingering gaze from the clothespin, and turned his blue eyes wonderingly up to her. The corners of his mouth trembled, widened, his eyelids crinkled, and then he smiled delightfully, straight into the eyes of the nurse, stretched up a wavering pink hand, and patted her cheek. A soft, gurgling monosyllable, difficult of classification but easy to interpret, escaped him.
The Princess smiled appreciatively, and moved with a stately, long step toward them.
"That was very pretty," she said, but Delia did not hear her.
"My baby, my own baby!" she murmured with a shiver, and hiding her face in the General's neck she sobbed aloud.
Miss Honey, shocked and embarrassed, twisted her feet nervously and looked at the inlaid floor. Caroline shared these feelings, but though she turned red, she spoke sturdily.
"I guess Delia feels bad," she suggested shyly, "when she thinks about—about what happened, you know. She don't cry usu'lly."
The Princess smiled again, this time directly at Caroline, who fairly blinked in the radiance. With her long brown eyes still holding Caroline's round ones, she patted Delia's shoulder kindly, and both children saw her chin tremble.
The General, smothered in that sudden hug, whimpered a little and kicked out wildly with his fat, white-stockinged legs. Seen from the rear he had the appearance of a neat, if excited, package, unaccountably frilled about with embroidered flannel. Delia straightened herself, dabbed apologetically at her eyes, and coughed.
"It's bottle time," she announced in horror-stricken tones, consulting a large nickel watch hanging from her belt, under the apron. "It's down in the carriage. Could I have a little boiling water to heat it, if you please?"
"Assuredly," said the Princess. "Ellis, will you get the—the bottle from the baby's carriage and some boiling water, please. Do you mix it here?"
"Mix—the food is all prepared, madam." Delia spoke with repressed scorn. "I only want to heat it for him."
"Oh, in that case, Ellis, take it down and have it heated, or," as the nurse half rose, "perhaps you would feel better about it if you attended to it yourself?"
"Yes, I think I will go down if you don't mind—when persons aren't used to 'em they're apt to be a little careless, and I wouldn't have it break and him losing his three o'clock bottle, for the world. You know how it is."
The Princess shook her head whimsically. "But surely you will leave the baby," and she moved toward them again. "I will hold it," with a half grimace at her own condescension. "It seems so very good and cheerful—I thought they cried. Will it come to me?"
Delia loosened her arms, but tightened them again as the little creature leaned forward to catch at the swinging lace on the lady's gown.
"I—I think I'll take baby with me. Thank you just the same, and he'll go to any one—yes, indeed—but I feel sort of nervous, I think I'd better take him. If anything should happen.... Wave your hand good-bye, now, General!"
The General flapped his arms violently, and bestowed a toothless but affectionate grin upon the wearer of the fascinating, swaying lace, before he disappeared with the delighted Ellis in the van.
"And can you buy all that devotion for twenty, thirty, or is it forty dollars a month, I wonder?" mused the Princess. "Dear me," she added, petulantly. "It really makes one actually want to hold it! It seems a jolly little rat—they're not all like that, are they? They howl, I'm sure."
Again Miss Honey took the floor.
"When babies are sick or you don't treat them right," she announced didactically, "they cry, but not a well baby, Delia says. I"—with conscious pride—"screamed night and day for two weeks!"
"Really!" observed the Princess. "That must have been—er—trying for your family!"
"Worried to death!" Miss Honey rejoined airily, with such an adult intonation that the Princess started.
"The General, he just laughs all the time," Caroline volunteered, "unless you tease him," she added guiltily, "and then he squawks."
"Yes, indeed," Miss Honey bore witness, jealous of the lady's flashing smile to Caroline, "my mother says I'm twice the trouble he is!"
The Princess laughed aloud. "You're all trouble enough, I can well believe," she said carelessly, "though you particular three are certainly amusing little duds—for an afternoon. But for a steady diet—I'm afraid I'd get a bit tired of you, eh?"
She tapped their cheeks lightly with a cool, sweet-smelling finger. Miss Honey smiled uncertainly, but Caroline edged away. There was something about this beautiful tall lady she could not understand, something that alternately attracted and repelled. She was grown up, certainly; her skirts, her size, and her coiled hair proved that conclusively, and the servants obeyed her without question. But what was it? She was not like other grown-up people one knew. One moment she sparkled at you and the next moment she forgot you. It was perfectly obvious that she wanted the General only because Delia had not wanted to relinquish him, which was not like grown people; it was like—yes, that was it: she was like a little girl, herself, even though she was so tall and had such large red and blue rings on her fingers.
Vaguely this rushed through Caroline's mind, and it was with an unconscious air of patronage that she said, as one making allowances for inexperience, "When you get married, then you'll have to get tired of them, you know."
"But you'll be glad you've got 'em, when they're once in bed," Miss Honey added encouragingly. "My mother says I'm a real treasure to her, after half-past seven!"
The Princess flushed; her straight dark eyebrows quivered and met for an instant.
"But I am married," she said.
There was an utter silence.
"I was married five years ago yesterday, as it happens," she went on, "but it's not necessary to set up a day nursery, you know, under those circumstances."
Still silence. Miss Honey studied the floor, and Caroline, after an astonished stare at the Princess, directed her eyes from one tapestry to another.
"I suppose you understand that, don't you?" demanded the Princess sharply. She appeared unnecessarily irritated, and as a matter of fact embarrassed her guests to such an extent that they were utterly unable to relieve the stillness that oppressed them quite as much as herself.
The Princess uttered an angry exclamation and paced rapidly up and down the room, looking more regal and more unlike other people than ever.
"For heaven's sake, say something, you little sillies!" she cried. "I suppose you want me to lose my temper?"
Caroline gulped and Miss Honey examined her shoe-ties mutely.
Suddenly a well-known voice floated toward them.
"Was his nice bottle all ready? Wait a minute, only a minute now, General, and Delia'll give it to you!"
The procession filed into the room, Delia and the General, Ellis deferentially holding a tiny white coat, the man in livery bearing a small copper saucepan in which he balanced a white bottle with some difficulty. His face was full of anxious interest.
Delia thanked them both gravely, seated herself on the foot of the basket-chair, arranged the General flat across her knees, and, amid the excited silence of her audience, shook the bottle once or twice with the air of an alchemist on the brink of an epoch-making discovery.
"Want it? Does Delia's baby want it?" she asked enticingly. The General waved his arms and legs wildly; wreathed in smiles, he opened and shut his mouth in quick alternation, chirping and clucking, as she held it up before him; an ecstatic wriggling pervaded him, and he chuckled unctuously. A moment later only his deep-drawn, nozzling breaths could be heard in the room.
"He takes it beautiful," said Delia, in low tones, looking confidentially at the Princess. "I didn't know but being in a strange place might make a difference with him, but he's the best-baby!——"
She wiped his mouth when he had finished, and lifting him, still horizontal, approached her hostess.
"You can hold him now," she said superbly, "but keep him flat for twenty minutes, please. I'll go and take the bottle down, and get his carriage ready. He'll be good. He'll take a little nap, most likely."
She laid him across the rose-colored lap of the Princess, who looked curiously down on him, and offered him her finger tentatively. "I never held one before," she explained. "I—I don't know." ... The General smiled lazily and patted the finger, picking at the great sapphire.
"How soft its hands are," said the Princess. "They slip off, they are so smooth! And how good—does it never cry?" This she said half to herself, and Caroline and Miss Honey, knowing there was no need to answer her, came and leaned against her knee unconsciously, and twinkled their fingers at the baby.
"Hello, General! Hello!" they cried softly, and the General smiled impartially at them and caressed the lady's finger.
The Princess stroked his cheek. "What a perfectly exquisite skin!" she said, and bending over him, kissed him delicately.
"How good it smells—how—how different!" she murmured. "I thought they—I thought they didn't."
Miss Honey had taken the lady's other hand, and was examining the square ruby with a diamond on either side.
"My mother says that's the principal reason to have a baby," she remarked, absorbed in the glittering thing. "You sprinkle 'em all over with violet powder—just like doughnuts with sugar—and kiss 'em. Some people think they get germs that way, but my mother says if she couldn't kiss 'em she wouldn't have 'em!"
The Princess bent over the baby again.
"It's going to sleep here!" she said, half fearfully, with an inquiring glance at the two. "Oughtn't one to rock it?"
Miss Honey shook her head severely. "Not General," she answered, "he won't stand it. My mother tried again and again—could I take that blue ring a minute? I'd be awful careful—but he wouldn't. He sits up and he lies down, but he won't rock."
"I might sing to him," suggested the Princess, brushing a damp lock from the General's warm forehead and slipping her ringless finger into his curved fist carefully. "Would he like it?"
"No, he wouldn't," said Miss Honey bluntly, twisting the ring around her finger. "He only likes two people to sing—Delia and my mother. Was that ruby ring a 'ngagement ring?"
Caroline interfered diplomatically, "General would be very much obliged," she explained politely, "except that my Aunt Deedee is a very good singer indeed, and Uncle Joe says General's taste is ruined for just common singing."
The Princess stared at her blankly.
"Oh, indeed!" she remarked. Then she smiled, again in that whimsical, expressive way. "You don't think I could sing well enough for him—as well as your mother?"
Miss Honey laughed carelessly. "My mother is a singer," she said, "a real one. She used to sing in concerts—real ones. In theaters. Real theaters, I mean," as the lady appeared to be still amused.
"If you know where the Waldorf Hotel is," Caroline interrupted, "she has sung in that, and it was five dollars to get in. It was to send the poor children to a Fresh Air Fund. It—it's not the same as you would sing—or me," she added politely.
The lady arose suddenly and deposited the General, like a doll, with one swift motion, in the basket-chair. Striding across the room she turned, flushed and tall, and confronted the wondering children.
"I will sing for you," she said haughtily, "and you can judge better!"
With a great sweep of her half bare arm, she brushed aside a portiere and disappeared. A crashing chord rolled out from a piano behind the curtains and ceased abruptly.
"What does your mother sing?" she demanded, not raising her voice, it seemed, and yet they heard her as plainly as when they had leaned against her knee.
"She sings, 'My Heart's Own Heart,'" Miss Honey called back defiantly.
"And it's printed on the song, 'To Madame Edith Holt'!" shrilled Caroline.
The familiar prelude was played with a firm, elastic touch, the opening chords struck, and a great, shining voice, masterful, like a golden trumpet, filled the room. Caroline sat dumb; Miss Honey, instinctively humming the prelude, got up from her foot-stool and followed the music, unconscious that she walked. She had been privileged to hear more good singing in her eight years than most people in twenty-four, had Miss Honey, and she knew that this was no ordinary occasion. She did not know she was listening to one of the greatest voices her country had ever produced—perhaps in time to be known for the head of them all—but her sensitive little soul swelled in her, and her childish jealousy was drowned deep in that river of wonderful sound.
Higher and sweeter and higher yet climbed the melody; one last triumphant leap, and it was over.
"My heart—my heart—my heart's own heart!"
The Princess stood before them in the echoes of her glory, her breath quick, her eyes brilliant.
"Well?" she said, looking straight at Miss Honey, "do I sing as well as your mother?"
Miss Honey clenched her fists and caught her breath. Her heart was breaking, but she could not lie.
"You—you"—she motioned blindly to Caroline, and turned away.
"You sing better," Caroline began sullenly, but the lady pointed to Miss Honey.
"No, you tell me," she insisted remorselessly.
Miss Honey faced her.
"You—you sing better than my m—mother," she gulped, "but I love her better, and she's nicer than you, and I don't love you at all!"
She buried her face in the red velvet throne, and sobbed aloud with excitement and fatigue. Caroline ran to her: how could she have loved that cruel woman? She cast an ugly look at the Princess as she went to comfort Miss Honey, but the Princess was at the throne before her.
"Oh, I am abominable!" she cried. "I am too horrid to live! It wasn't kind of me, cherie, and I love you for standing up for your mother. There's no one to do as much for me, when I'm down and out—no one!" Sorrow swept over her flexible face like a veil, and seizing Miss Honey in her strong, nervous arms, she wept on her shoulder.
Caroline, worn with the strain of the day, wept too, and even the General, abandoned in the great chair, burst into a tiny warning wail.
Quick as thought the Princess was upon him, and had raised him against her cheek.
"Hush, hush, don't cry—don't cry, little thing," she whispered, and sank into one of the high carved chairs with him.
"No, no, I'll hold him," she protested, as Delia entered, her arms out. "I'm going to sing to him. May I? He's sleepy."
Delia nodded indulgently. "For half an hour," she said, as one allowing a great privilege, "and then we must go."
"What do you sing to him?" the Princess questioned humbly.
"I generally sing 'Flow Gently Sweet Afton,'" the nurse answered. "Do you know it?"
"I think so," and the Princess began a sort of glorified humming, like a great drowsy bee, all resonant and tremulous.
Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes, Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise.
Soft the great voice was, soft and widely flowing: to Caroline, who had retreated to the further end of the music-room, so that Delia should not see her tears, it seemed as if Delia herself, a wonderful new Delia, were singing her, a baby again, to sleep. She felt soothed, cradled, protected by that lapping sea of melody that drifted her off her moorings, out of the room....
Vaguely she saw Miss Honey, relaxed on the red throne, smile in her sleep, one arm falling over the broad seat. Was it in her dream that some one in a blue and white apron—not Delia, for Delia was singing—leaned back slowly in the long basket-chair and closed her tired eyes? Who was it that held the General close in her arms, and smiled as he patted her cheek at the familiar song, and mumbled her fingers with happy, cooing noises?
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream!
The General's head was growing heavy, but he smiled confidingly into the dark eyes above him and stretched himself out in full-fed, drowsy content. One hand slipped through the lace under his cheek and rested on the singer's soft breast. She started like a frightened woman, and her voice broke.
Down in the hall the butler and the maid sat on the lower stair.
"Ain't it grand?" she whispered, and Haddock nodded dreamily.
"Mother used to sing us that in the old country," he said. "There was Tom and 'Enry an' me—Lord, Lord!"
The General was asleep. Sometimes a tiny frown drew his eyebrows together. Sometimes he clenched and uncurled his warm hands. Sometimes he sucked softly at nothing with moist, reminiscent lips. But on and on, over and over, rose and fell the quaint old song.
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream!
It flooded the hushed house, it spread a net of dreams about the listening people there and coaxed them back to childhood and a child's protected sleep. It seemed a song that could not stop, that must return on its simple refrain so long as there were arms to encircle and breasts to lean upon.
Two men came softly up a smaller stair than the grand entrance flight, and paused in amazement at sight of Caroline stretched full length across the threshold. The older and smaller of the men had in fact stepped on her, and confused and half awake, she listened to his apologies.
"Sh! sh!" he whispered excitedly, "not a vordt! not a vordt! Mein Gott! but it is marvelous! My friend, vot is this?"
He peeped behind the drawn curtains and withdrew a face of wonder.
"It is nodding but children—and they sleep!" he hissed. "Oh, but listen, listen! And I offered her fifteen hundert dollars for two hours only of that!"
The other man peeped behind the curtains in his turn, and seizing Caroline by the arm tiptoed with her to a farther room.
"What—who—what is the meaning of this?" he whispered hoarsely. "That child—where——"
Caroline rubbed her eyes. The golden voice rose and fell around her.
"General—Delia," she muttered, and stumbled against him. He lifted her limp little body and laid it gently on a leather sofa.
"Another time," he said softly to the other man, "I—we cannot talk with you now. Will you excuse us?"
The man looked longingly at the curtains.
"She will never do more well than that. Never!" he hissed. "Oh, my friend, hear it grow soft! Yes, yes, I am going."
It seemed to Caroline that in a dream some one with a red face and glasses askew shook her by the shoulder and said to her sternly, "Sh! sh! Listen to me. To-day you hear a great artist—hey? Vill you forget it? I must go because they do not vant me, but you vill stay and listen. There is here no such voice. Velvet! Honey! Sh! sh!" and he went the way of dreams.
The man who stayed looked long through the curtains.
As a swing droops slow and slower, as the ripples fade from a stone thrown in the stream, the song of the Princess softened and crooned and hushed. Now it was a rich breath, a resonant thread.
Flow gently, sweet Afton——
The man stepped across the room and sank below the General at her feet. With her finger on her lips she turned her eyes to his and looked deep into them. He caught his breath with a sob, and wrapping his arm about her as he knelt, hid his face on her lap, against the General. She laid her hand on his head, across the warm little body, and patted it tenderly. Around them lay the sleepers; the General's soft breath was in their ears. The man lifted his head and looked adoringly at the Princess; her hand caressed his cheek, but her eyes looked beyond him into the future.
ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS AND WITH A DRAWING BY ERIC PAPE
Copyright, 1908, by Ellen Terry (Mrs. Carew)
It is only human to make comparisons between American and English institutions, although they are likely to turn out as odious as the proverb says! The first institution in America that distressed me was the steam heat. It is far more manageable now than it was, both in hotels and theatres, because there are more individual heaters. But how I suffered from it at first I cannot describe. I used to feel dreadfully ill, and when we could not turn the heat off at the theatre, the play always went badly. My voice was affected, too. At Toledo, once, it nearly went altogether. Then the next night, after a good fight, we got the theatre cool, and the difference to the play was extraordinary. I was in my best form, feeling well and jolly!
If I did not like steam heat, I loved the ice which is such a feature at American meals. Everything is served on ice. I took kindly to their dishes—their cookery, at its best, is better than the French—and I sadly missed planked shad, terrapin, and the oyster—at its best and at its cheapest in America—when I returned to England.
Travelling in America
The American hotels seemed luxurious even in 1883; but it only takes ten years there for an hotel to be quite done, to become old-fashioned and useless as a rusty nail. Hotel life in America is now the perfection of comfort. Hotels as good as the Savoy, the Ritz, the Carlton, and Claridge's can be counted by the dozen in New York, and are to be found in all the principal cities.
I liked the travelling, but then we travelled in a very princely fashion. The Lyceum Company and baggage occupied eight cars, and Henry's private parlour-car was lovely. The only thing that we found was better understood in England, so far as railway travelling is concerned, was privacy. You may have a private car, but all the conductors on the train, and there is one to each car, can walk through it. So can any official, baggage-man, or newsboy who has the mind!
There were, of course, people ready to say that the Americans did not like Henry Irving as an actor, and that they only accepted him as a manager—that he triumphed in New York, as he had done in London, through his lavish spectacular effects. This is all moonshine. Henry made his first appearance in "The Bells," his second in "Charles I," his third in "Louis XI." By that time he had conquered, and without the aid of anything at all notable in the mounting of the plays. It was not until we did "The Merchant of Venice" that he gave the Americans anything of a "production."
My first appearance in America in Shakespeare was as Portia, and I could not help feeling pleased by my success. A few weeks later I played Ophelia at Philadelphia. It is in Shakespeare that I have been best liked in America, and I consider that Beatrice was the part about which they were most enthusiastic.
During our first tour we visited in succession New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Detroit, and Toronto. To most of these places we paid return visits. I think it was in Chicago that a reporter approached Henry Irving with the question: "To what do you attribute your success, Mr. Irving?"
"To my acting," was the simple reply.
We never had poor houses except in Baltimore and St. Louis. Our journey to Baltimore was made in a blizzard. They were clearing the snow before us all the way from New Jersey, and we took forty-two hours to reach Baltimore. The bells of trains before us and behind us sounded very alarming. We opened in Baltimore on Christmas Day. The audience was wretchedly small, but the poor things who were there had left their warm firesides to drive or tramp through the slush of melting snow, and each one was worth a hundred on an ordinary night.
At the hotel I put up holly and mistletoe, and produced from my trunks a real Christmas pudding that my mother had made. We had it for supper, and it was very good.
Burned Hare Soup and Camphor Pudding in Pittsburg
It never does to repeat an experiment. Next year at Pittsburg my little son Teddy brought me out another pudding from England. For once we were in an uncomfortable hotel, and the Christmas dinner was deplorable. It began with burned hare soup.
"It seems to me," said Henry, "that we aren't going to get anything to eat, but we'll make up for it by drinking!"
He had brought his own wine out with him from England, and the company took him at his word and did make up for it.
"Never mind!" I said, as the soup was followed by worse and worse. "There's my pudding!"
It came on blazing and looked superb. Henry tasted a mouthful.
"Very odd," he said, "but I think this is a camphor pudding."
He said it so politely—as if he might easily be mistaken. My maid in England had packed the pudding with my furs! It simply reeked of camphor.
So we had to dine on Henry's wine and L. F. Austin's wit. This dear, brilliant man, now dead, acted for many years as Henry's secretary, and one of his gifts was the happy knack of hitting off people's peculiarities in rhyme. This dreadful Christmas dinner at Pittsburg was enlivened by a collection of such rhymes, which Austin called a "Lyceum Christmas Play."
Everyone roared with laughter until it came to the verse of which he was the victim, when suddenly he found the fun rather laboured.
The first verse was spoken by Loveday, who announces that the "Governor" has a new play which is "wonderful"—a great word of Loveday's.
George Alexander replies:
But I say, Loveday, have I got a part in it, That I can wear a cloak in and look smart in it? Not that I care a fig for gaudy show, dear boy— But juveniles must look well, don't you know, dear boy; And shall I lordly hall and tuns of claret own? And may I murmur love in dulcet baritone? Tell me, at least, this simple fact of it— Can I beat Terriss hollow in one act of it?