THE JOYFUL HEART
ROBERT HAVEN SCHAUFFLER
AUTHOR OF THE MUSICAL AMATEUR, SCUM O' THE EARTH AND OTHER POEMS, ROMANTIC AMERICA, ETC.
"People who are nobly happy constitute the power, the beauty and the foundation of the state."
JEAN FINOT: The Science of Happiness.
BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY The Riverside Press Cambridge 1914
COPYRIGHT, 1914 BY ROBERT HAVEN SCHAUFFLER
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This is a guide-book to joy. It is for the use of the sad, the bored, the tired, anxious, disheartened and disappointed. It is for the use of all those whose cup of vitality is not brimming over.
The world has not yet seen enough of joy. It bears the reputation of an elusive sprite with finger always at lip bidding farewell. In certain dark periods, especially in times of international warfare, it threatens to vanish altogether from the earth. It is then the first duty of all peaceful folk to find and hold fast to joy, keeping it in trust for their embattled brothers.
Even if this were not their duty as citizens of the world, it would be their duty as patriots. For Jean Finot is right in declaring that "people who are nobly happy constitute the power, the beauty and the foundation of the state."
This book is a manual of enthusiasm—the power which drives the world—and of those kinds of exuberance (physical, mental and spiritual) which can make every moment of every life worth living. It aims to show how to get the most joy not only from traveling hopefully toward one's goal, but also from the goal itself on arrival there. It urges sound business methods in conducting that supreme business, the investment of one's vitality.
It would show how one may find happiness all alone with his better self, his 'Auto-Comrade'—an accomplishment well-nigh lost in this crowded age. It would show how the gospel of exuberance, by offering the joys of hitherto unsuspected power to the artist and his audience, bids fair to lift the arts again to the lofty level of the Periclean age. It would show the so-called "common" man or woman how to develop that creative sympathy which may make him a 'master by proxy,' and thus let him know the conscious happiness of playing an essential part in the creation of works of genius. In short, the book tries to show how the cup of joy may not only be kept full for one's personal use, but may also be made hospitably to brim over for others.
To the Atlantic Monthly thanks are due for permission to reprint chapters I, III and IV; to the North American Review, for chapter VIII; and to the Century, for chapters V, VI, IX and X.
R. H. S.
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I. A DEFENSE OF JOY
II. THE BRIMMING CUP
IV. A CHAPTER OF ENTHUSIASMS
V. THE AUTO-COMRADE
VI. VIM AND VISION
VII. PRINTED JOY
VIII. THE JOYFUL HEART FOR POETS
IX. THE JOYOUS MISSION OF MECHANICAL MUSIC
X. MASTERS BY PROXY
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THE JOYFUL HEART
A DEFENSE OF JOY
Joy is such stuff as the hinges of Heaven's doors are made of. So our fathers believed. So we supposed in childhood. Since then it has become the literary fashion to oppose this idea. The writers would have us think of joy not as a supernal hinge, but as a pottle of hay, hung by a crafty creator before humanity's asinine nose. The donkey is thus constantly incited to unrewarded efforts. And when he arrives at the journey's end he is either defrauded of the hay outright, or he dislikes it, or it disagrees with him.
Robert Louis Stevenson warns us that "to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive," beautifully portraying the emptiness and illusory character of achievement. And, of those who have attained, Mr. E. F. Benson exclaims, "God help them!" These sayings are typical of a widespread literary fashion. Now to slander Mistress Joy to-day is a serious matter. For we are coming to realize that she is a far more important person than we had supposed; that she is, in fact, one of the chief managers of life. Instead of doing a modest little business in an obscure suburb, she has offices that embrace the whole first floor of humanity's city hall.
Of course I do not doubt that our writer-friends note down the truth as they see it. But they see it imperfectly. They merely have a corner of one eye on a corner of the truth. Therefore they tell untruths that are the falser for being so charmingly and neatly expressed. What they say about joy being the bribe that achievement offers us to get itself realized may be true in a sense. But they are wrong in speaking of the bribe as if it were an apple rotten at the core, or a bag of counterfeit coin, or a wisp of artificial hay. It is none of these things. It is sweet and genuine and well worth the necessary effort, once we are in a position to appreciate it at anything like its true worth. We must learn not to trust the beautiful writers too implicitly. For there is no more treacherous guide than the consummate artist on the wrong track.
Those who decry the joy of achievement are like tyros at skating who venture alone upon thin ice, fall down, fall in, and insist on the way home that winter sports have been grossly overestimated. This outcry about men being unable to enjoy what they have attained is a half-truth which cannot skate two consecutive strokes in the right direction without the support of its better half. And its better half is the fact that one may enjoy achievement hugely, provided only he will get himself into proper condition.
Of course I am not for one moment denying that achievement is harder to enjoy than the hope of achievement. Undoubtedly the former lacks the glamour of the indistinct, "that sweet bloom of all that is far away." But our celebrated writer-friends overlook the fact that glamour and "sweet bloom" are so much pepsin to help weak stomachs digest strong joy. If you would have the best possible time of it in the world, develop your joy-digesting apparatus to the point where it can, without a qualm, dispose of that tough morsel, the present, obvious and attained. There will always be enough of the unachieved at table to furnish balanced rations.
"God help the attainers!"—forsooth! Why, the ideas which I have quoted, if they were carried to logical lengths, would make heaven a farcical kill-joy, a weary, stale, flat, unprofitable morgue of disappointed hopes, with Ennui for janitor. I admit that the old heaven of the Semitic poets was constructed somewhat along these lines. But that was no real heaven. The real heaven is a quiet, harpless, beautiful place where every one is a heaven-born creator and is engaged—not caring in the least for food or sleep—in turning out, one after another, the greatest of masterpieces, and enjoying them to the quick, both while they are being done and when they are quite achieved.
I would not, however, fall into the opposite error and disparage the joy of traveling hopefully. It is doubtless easy to amuse one's self in a wayside air-castle of an hundred suites, equipped with self-starting servants, a Congressional Library, a National Gallery of pictures, a Vatican-ful of sculpture, with Hoppe for billiard-marker, Paderewski to keep things going in the music-room, Wright as grand hereditary master of the hangar, and Miss Annette Kellerman in charge of the swimming-pool. I am not denying that such a castle is easier to enjoy before the air has been squeezed out of it by the horny clutch of reality, which moves it to the journey's end and sets it down with a jar in its fifty-foot lot, complete with seven rooms and bath, and only half an hour from the depot. But this is not for one moment admitting the contention of the lords of literature that the air-castle has a monopoly of joy, while the seven rooms and bath have a monopoly of disillusionized boredom and anguish of mind. If your before-mentioned apparatus is only in working order, you can have no end of joy out of the cottage. And any morning before breakfast you can build another, and vastly superior, air-castle on the vacant land behind the woodshed.
"What is all this," I heard the reader ask, "about a joy-digesting apparatus?"
It consists of four parts. Physical exuberance is the first. To a considerable extent joy depends on an overplus of health. The joy of artistic creation, for instance, lies not so intensely and intoxicatingly in what you may some time accomplish as in what has actually just started into life under your pencil or clayey thumb, your bow or brush. For what you are about to receive, the Lord, as a rule, makes you duly thankful. But with the thankfulness is always mingled the shadowy apprehension that your powers may fail you when next you wish to use them. Thus the joy of anticipatory creation is akin to pain. It holds no such pure bliss as actual creation. When you are in full swing, what you have just finished (unless you are exhausted) seems to you nearly always the best piece of work that you have ever done. For your critical, inhibitory apparatus is temporarily paralyzed by the intoxication of the moment. What makes so many artists fail at these times to enjoy a maximum of pleasure and a minimum of its opposite, is that they do not train their bodies "like a strong man to run a race," and make and keep them aboundingly vital. The actual toil takes so much of their meager vitality that they have too little left with which to enjoy the resulting achievement. If they become ever so slightly intoxicated over the work, they have a dreadful morning after, whose pain they read back into the joy preceding. And then they groan out that all is vanity, and slander joy by calling it a pottle of hay.
It takes so much vitality to enjoy achievement because achievement is something finished. And you cannot enjoy what is finished in art, for instance, without re-creating it for yourself. But, though re-creation demands almost as much vital overplus as creation, the layman should realize that he has, as a rule, far more of this overplus than the pallid, nervous sort of artist. And he should accordingly discount the other's lamentations over the vanity of human achievement.
The reason why Hazlitt took no pleasure in writing, and in having written, his delicious essays is that he did not know how to take proper care of his body. To be extremely antithetical, I, on the other hand, take so much pleasure in writing and in having written these essays of mine (which are no hundredth part as beautiful, witty, wise, or brilliant as Hazlitt's), that the leaden showers of drudgery, discouragement, and disillusionment which accompany and follow almost every one of them, and the need of Spartan training for their sake, hardly displace a drop from the bucket of joy that the work brings. Training has meant so much vital overplus to me that I long ago spurted and caught up with my pottle of joy. And, finding that it made a cud of unimagined flavor and durability, I substituted for the pottle a placard to this effect:
REMEMBER THE RACE!
This placard, hung always before me, is a reminder that a decent respect for the laws of good sportsmanship requires one to keep in as hard condition as possible for the hundred-yard dash called Life. Such a regimen pays thousands of per cent. in yearly dividends. It allows one to live in an almost continual state of exaltation rather like that which the sprinter enjoys when, after months of flawless preparation, he hurls himself through space like some winged creature too much in love with the earth to leave it; while every drop of his tingling blood makes him conscious of endless reserves of vitality.
Tingling blood is a reagent which is apt to transmute all things into joy—even sorrow itself. I wonder if any one seriously doubts that it was just this which was giving Browning's young David such a glorious time of it when he broke into that jubilant war-whoop about "our manhood's prime vigor" and "the wild joys of living."
The physical variety of exuberance, once won, makes easy the winning of the mental variety. This, when it is almost isolated from the other kinds, is what you enjoy when you soar easily along over the world of abstract thought, or drink delight of battle with your intellectual peers, or follow with full understanding the phonographic version of some mighty, four-part fugue. To attain this means work. But if your body is shouting for joy over the mere act of living, mental calisthenics no longer appear so impossibly irksome. And anyway, the discipline of your physical training has induced your will to put up with a good deal of irksomeness. This is partly because its eye is fixed on something beyond the far-off, divine event of achieving concentration on one subject for five minutes without allowing the mind to wander from it more than twenty-five times. That something is a keenness of perception which makes any given fragment of nature or human nature or art, however seemingly barren and commonplace, endlessly alive with possibilities of joyful discovery—with possibilities, even, of a developing imagination. For the Auto-Comrade, your better self, is a magician. He can get something out of nothing.
At this stage of your development you will probably discover in yourself enough mental adroitness and power of concentration to enable you to weed discordant thoughts out of the mind. As you wander through your mental pleasure-grounds, whenever you come upon an ugly intruder of a thought which might bloom into some poisonous emotion such as fear, envy, hate, remorse, anger, and the like, there is only one right way to treat it. Pull it up like a weed; drop it on the rubbish heap as if it were a stinging nettle; and let some harmonious thought grow in its place. There is no more reckless consumer of all kinds of exuberance than the discordant thought, and weeding it out saves such an amazing quantity of eau de vie wherewith to water the garden of joy, that every man may thus be his own Burbank and accomplish marvels of mental horticulture.
When you have won physical and mental exuberance, you will have pleased your Auto-Comrade to such an extent that he will most likely startle and delight you with a birthday present as the reward of virtue. Some fine morning you will climb out of the right side of your bed and come whistling down to breakfast and find by your plate a neat packet of spiritual exuberance with his best wishes. Such a gift is what the true artist enjoys when inspiration comes too fast and full for a dozen pens or brushes to record. Jeanne d'Arc knew it when the mysterious voices spoke to her; and St. John on Patmos; and every true lover at certain moments; and each one of us who has ever flung wide the gates of prayer and felt the infinite come flooding in as the clean vigor of the tide swirls up through a sour, stagnant marsh; or who at some supreme instant has felt enfolding him, like the everlasting arms, a sure conviction of immortality.
Now for purposes of convenience we may speak of these three kinds of exuberance as we would speak of different individuals. But in reality they hardly ever exist alone. The physical variety is almost sure to induce the mental and spiritual varieties and to project itself into them. The mental kind looks before and after and warms body and soul with its radiant smile. And even when we are in the throes of a purely spiritual love or religious ecstasy, we have a feeling—though perhaps it is illusory—that the flesh and the intellect are more potent than we knew.
These, then, constitute the first three parts of the joy-digesting apparatus. I think there is no need of dwelling on their efficacy in helping one to enjoy achievement. Let us pass, therefore, to the fourth and last part, which is self-restraint.
Perhaps the worst charge usually made against achievement is its sameness, its dry monotony. On the way to it (the writers say) you are constantly falling in with something new. But, once there, you must abandon the variegated delights of yesterday and settle down, to-day and forever, to the same old thing. In this connection I recall an epigram of Professor Woodrow Wilson's. He was lecturing to us young Princetonians about Gladstone's ability to make any subject of absorbing interest, even a four hours' speech on the budget. "Young gentlemen," cried the professor, "it is not the subject that is dry. It is you that are dry!" Similarly, it is not achievement that is dry; it is the achievers, who fondly suppose that now, having achieved, they have no further use for the exuberance of body, mind, and spirit, or the self-restraint which helped them toward their goal.
Particularly the self-restraint. One chief reason why the thing attained palls so often and so quickly is that men seek to enjoy it immoderately. Why, if Ponce de Leon had found the fountain of youth and drunk of it as bibulously as we are apt to guzzle the cup of achievement, he would not only have arrested the forward march of time, but would have over-reached himself and slipped backward through the years of his age to become a chronic infant in arms. Even traveling hopefully would pall if one kept at it twenty-four hours a day. Just feast on the rich food of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony morning, noon, and night for a few months, and see how you feel. There is no other way. Achievement must be moderately indulged in, not made the pretext for a debauch. If one has achieved a new cottage, for example, let him take numerous week-end vacations from it. And let not an author sit down and read through his own book the moment it comes from the binder. A few more months will suffice to blur the memory of those irrevocable, nauseating foundry proofs. If he forbears—instead of being sickened by the stuff, no gentle reader, I venture to predict, will be more keenly and delicately intrigued by the volume's vigors and subtleties.
If you have recently made a fortune, be sure, in the course of your Continental wanderings, to take many a third-class carriage full of witty peasants, and stop at many an "unpretending" inn "Of the White Hind," with bowered rose-garden and bowling-green running down to the trout-filled river, and mine ample hostess herself to make and bring you the dish for which she is famous over half the countryside. Thus you will increase by at least one Baedekerian star-power the luster of the next Grand Hotel Royal de l'Univers which may receive you. And be sure to alternate pedestrianism with motoring, and the "peanut" gallery with the stage-box. Omit not to punctuate with stag vacations long periods of domestic felicity. When Solomon declared that all was vanity and vexation of spirit I suspect that he had been more than unusually intemperate in frequenting the hymeneal altar.
Why is it that the young painters, musicians, and playwrights who win fame and fortune as heroes in the novels of Mr. E. F. Benson enjoy achievement so hugely? Simply because they are exuberant in mind, body, and spirit, and, if not averse to brandy and soda, are in other ways, at least, paragons of moderation. And yet, in his "Book of Months," Mr. Benson requests God to help those who have attained!
With this fourfold equipment of the three exuberances and moderation, I defy Solomon himself in all his glory not to enjoy the situation immensely and settle down in high good humor and content with the paltry few scores of wives already achieved. I defy him not to enjoy even his fame.
We have heard much from the gloomily illustrious about the fraudulent promise of fame. At a distance, they admit, it seems like a banquet board spread with a most toothsome feast. But step up to the table. All you find there is dust and ashes, vanity and vexation of spirit and a desiccated joint that defies the stoutest carver. If a man holds this view, however, you may be rather sure that he belongs to the bourgeois great. For it is just as bourgeois to win fame and then not know what on earth to do with it, as it is to win fortune and then not know what on earth to do with it. The more cultivated a famous man is, the more he must enjoy the situation; for along with his dry scrag of fame, the more he must have of the sauce which alone makes it palatable. The recipe for this sauce runs as follows: to one amphoraful best physical exuberance add spice of keen perception, cream of imagination, and fruits of the spirit. Serve with grain of salt.
That famous person is sauceless who can, without a tingle of joy, overhear the couple in the next steamer-chairs mentioning his name casually to each other as an accepted and honored household word. He has no sauce for his scrag if he, unmoved, can see the face of some beautiful child in the holiday crowd suddenly illuminated by the pleasure of recognizing him, from his pictures, as the author of her favorite story. He is bourgeois if it gives him no joy when the weight of his name swings the beam toward the good cause; or when the mail brings luminous gratitude and comprehension from the perfect stranger in Topeka or Tokyo. No; fame to the truly cultivated should be fully as enjoyable as traveling hopefully toward fame.
In certain other cases, indeed, attainment is even more delicious than the hope thereof. Think of the long, cool drink at the New Mexican pueblo after a day in the incandescent desert, with your tongue gradually enlarging itself from thirst. How is it with you, O golfer, when, even up at the eighteenth, you top into the hazard, make a desperate demonstration with the niblick, and wipe the sand out of your eyes barely in time to see your ball creep across the distant green and drop into the hole? Has not the new president's aged father a slightly better time at the inauguration of his dear boy than he had at any time during the fifty years of hoping for and predicting that consummation? Does not the successful altruist enjoy more keenly the certainty of having made the world a better place to live in, than he had enjoyed the hope of achieving that desirable end? Can there be any comparison between the joys of the tempest-driven soul aspiring, now hopefully, now despairingly, to port, and the joys of the same soul which has at last found a perfect haven in the heart of God?
And still the writers go on talking of joy as if it were a pottle of hay—a flimsy fraud—and of the satisfaction of attainment as if it were unattainable. Why do they not realize, at least, that their every thrill of response to a beautiful melody, their every laugh of delighted comprehension of Hazlitt or Crothers, is in itself attainment? The creative appreciator of art is always at his goal. And the much-maligned present is the only time at our disposal in which to enjoy the much-advertised future.
Too bad that our literary friends should have gone to extremes on this point! If Robert Louis Stevenson had noted that "to travel hopefully is an easier thing than to arrive," he would undoubtedly have hit the truth. If Mr. Benson had said, "If you attain, God help you bountifully to exuberance," etc., that would have been unexceptionable. It would even have been a more useful—though slightly supererogatory—service, to point out for the million-and-first time that achievement is not all that it seems to be from a considerable distance. In other words, that the laws of perspective will not budge. These writers would thus quite sufficiently have played dentist to Disappointment and extracted his venomous fangs for us in advance. What the gentlemen really should have done was to perform the dentistry first, reminding us once again that a part of attainment is illusory and consists of such stuff as dreams—good and bad—are made of. Then, on the other hand, they should have demonstrated attainment's good points, finally leading up to its supreme advantage. This advantage is—its strategic position.
Arriving beats hoping to arrive, in this: that while the hoper is so keenly hopeful that he has little attention to spare for anything besides the future, the arriver may take a broader, more leisurely survey of things. The hoper's eyes are glued to the distant peak. The attainer of that peak may recover his breath and enjoy a complete panorama of his present achievement and may amuse himself moreover by re-climbing the mountain in retrospect. He has also yonder farther and loftier peak in his eye, which he may now look forward to attacking the week after next; for this little preliminary jaunt is giving him his mountain legs. Hence, while the hoper enjoys only the future, the achiever, if his joy-digesting apparatus be working properly, rejoices with exceeding great joy in past, present, and future alike. He has an advantage of three to one over the merely hopeful traveler. And when they meet this is the song he sings:—
Mistress Joy is at your side Waiting to become a bride.
Soft! Restrain your jubilation. That ripe mouth may not be kissed Ere you stand examination. Mistress Joy's a eugenist.
Is your crony Moderation? Do your senses say you sooth? Are your veins the kind that tingle? Is your soul awake in truth?
If these traits in you commingle Joy no more shall leave you single.
THE BRIMMING CUP
Exuberance is the income yielded by a wise investment of one's vitality. On this income, so long as it flows in regularly, the moderate man may live in the Land of the Joyful Heart, incased in triple steel against any arrows of outrageous fortune that happen to stray in across the frontier. Immigrants to this land who have no such income are denied admission. They may steam into the country's principal port, past the great statue of the goddess Joy who holds aloft a brimming cup in the act of pledging the world. But they are put ashore upon a small island for inspection. And so soon as the inferior character of their investments becomes known, or their recklessness in eating into their principal, they are deported.
The contrast between those within the well-guarded gates and those without is an affecting one. The latter often squander vast fortunes in futile attempts to gain a foothold in the country. And they have a miserable time of it. Many of the natives, on the other hand, are so poor that they have constantly to fight down the temptation to touch their principal. But every time they resist, the old miracle happens for them once more: the sheer act of living turns out to be "paradise enow."
Now no mere fullness of life will qualify a man for admission to the Land of the Joyful Heart. One must have overflowingness of life. In his book "The Science of Happiness" Jean Finot declares, that the "disenchantment and the sadness which degenerate into a sort of pessimistic melancholy are frequently due to the diminution of the vital energy. And as pain and sorrow mark the diminution, the joy of living and the upspringing of happiness signify the increase of energy.... By using special instruments, such as the plethysmograph of Hallion, the pneumograph of Marey, the sphygmometer of Cheron, and so many others which have come in fashion during these latter years, we have succeeded in proving experimentally that joy, sadness, and pain depend upon our energy." To keep exuberant one must possess more than just enough vitality to fill the cup of the present. There must be enough to make it brim over. Real exuberance, however, is not the extravagant, jarring sort of thing that some thoughtless persons suppose it to be. The word is not accented on the first syllable. Indeed, it might just as well be "inuberance." It does not long to make an impression or, in vulgar phrase, to "get a rise"; but tends to be self-contained. It is not boisterousness. It is generous and infectious, while boisterousness is inclined to be selfish and repellent. Most of us would rather spend a week among a crowd of mummies than in a gang of boisterous young blades. For boisterousness is only a degenerate exuberance, drunk and on the rampage. The royal old musician and poet was not filled with this, but with the real thing, when he sang:
"He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul ... My cup runneth over."
The merely boisterous man, on the other hand, is a fatuous spendthrift of his fortune. He reminds us how close we are of kin to the frolicsome chimpanzee. His attitude was expressed on election night by a young man of Manhattan who shouted hoarsely to his fellow:
"On with the dance; let joy be unrefined!"
Neither should mere vivacity be mistaken for exuberance. It is no more surely indicative of the latter than is the laugh of a parrot. One of the chief advantages of the Teutonic over the Latin type of man is that the Latin is tempted to waste his precious vital overplus through a continuous display of vivacity, while the less demonstrative Teuton more easily stores his up for use where it will count. This gives him an advantage in such pursuits as athletics and empire-building.
The more exuberance of all varieties one has stored up in body and mind and spirit, the more of it one can bring to bear at the right moment upon the things that count for most in the world—the things that owe to it their lasting worth and their very existence. A little of this precious commodity, more or less, is what often makes the difference between the ordinary and the supreme achievement. It is the liquid explosive that shatters the final, and most stubborn, barrier between man and the Infinite. It is what Walt Whitman called "that last spark, that sharp flash of power, that something or other more which gives life to all great literature."
The happy man is the one who possesses these three kinds of overplus, and whose will is powerful enough to keep them all healthy and to keep him from indulging in their delights intemperately.
It is a ridiculous fallacy to assume, as many do, that such fullness of life is an attribute of youth alone and slips out of the back door when middle age knocks at the front. It is no more bound to go as the wrinkles and gray hairs arrive than your income is bound to take wings two or three score years after the original investment of the principal. To ascribe it to youth as an exclusive attribute is as fatuous as it would be to ascribe a respectable income only to the recent investor.
A red-letter day it will be for us when we realize that exuberance represents for every one the income from his fund of vitality; that when one's exuberance is all gone, his income is temporarily exhausted; and that he cannot go on living at the same rate without touching the principal. The hard-headed, harder-worked American business man is admittedly clever and prudent about money matters. But when he comes to deal with immensely more important matters such as life, health, and joy, he often needs a guardian. He has not yet grasped the obvious truth that a man's fund of vitality ought to be administered upon at least as sound a business basis as his fund of dollars. The principal should not be broken into for living expenses during a term of at least ninety-nine years. (Metchnikoff says that this term is one hundred and twenty or so if you drink enough of the Bulgarian bacillus.) And one should not be content with anything short of a substantial rate of interest.
In one respect this life-business is a simpler thing to manage than the dollar-business. For, in the former, if the interest comes in regularly and unimpaired, you may know that the principal is safe, while in the dollar-business they may be paying your interest out of your principal, and you none the wiser until the crash. But here the difference ceases. For if little or no vital interest comes in, your generous scale of living is pinched. You may defer the catastrophe a little by borrowing short-time loans at a ruinous rate from usurious stimulants, giving many pounds of flesh as security. But soon Shylock forecloses and you are forced to move with your sufferings to the slums and ten-cent lodging-houses of Life. Moreover, you must face a brutal dispossession from even the poor flat or dormitory cot you there occupy—out amid the snows and blasts—
"Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form"
there to pay slack life's "arrears of pain, darkness, and cold."
The reason why every day is a joy to the normal child is that he fell heir at birth to a fortune of vitality and has not yet had time to squander all his substance in riotous or thoughtless living, or to overdraw his account in the Bank of Heaven on Earth. Every one of his days is a joy—that is, except in so far as his elders have impressed their tired standards of behavior too masterfully upon him. "Happy as a child"—the commonness of the phrase is in itself a commentary. In order to remain as happy as this for a century or so, all that a child has to do is to invest his vitality on sound business principles, and never overdraw or borrow. I shall not here go into the myriad details of just how to invest and administer one's vitality. For there is no dearth of wise books and physicians and "Masters of the Inn," competent to mark out sound business programs of work, exercise, recreation, and regimen for body, mind, and spirit; while all that you must contribute to the enterprise is the requisite comprehension, time, money, and will-power. You see, I am not a professor of vital commerce and investment; I am a stump-speaker, trying to induce the voters to elect a sound business administration.
I believe that the blessings of climate give us of North America less excuse than most other people for failing to put such an administration into office. It is noteworthy that many of the Europeans who have recently written their impressions of the United States imagine that Colonel Roosevelt's brimming cup of vitality is shared by nearly the whole nation. If it only were! But the fact that these observers think so would seem to confirm our belief that our own cup brims over more plentifully than that of Europe. This is probably due to the exhilarating climate which makes America—physically, at least, though not yet economically and socially—the promised land.
Of course I realize the absurdity of urging the great majority of human beings to keep within their vital incomes. To ask the overworked, under-fed, under-rested, under-played, shoddily dressed, overcrowded masses of humanity why they are not exuberant, is to ask again, with Marie Antoinette, why the people who are starving for bread do not eat cake. The fact is that to keep within one's income to-day, either financially or vitally, is an aristocratic luxury that is absolutely denied to the many. Most men—the rich as well as the poor—stumble through life three parts dead. The ruling class, if it had the will and the skill, might awaken itself to fullness of life. But only a comparatively few of the others could, because the world is conducted on a principle which makes it even less possible for them to store up a little hoard of vitality in their bodies against a rainy day than to store up an overplus of dollars in the savings bank.
I think that this state of things is very different from the one which the fathers contemplated in founding our nation. When they undertook to secure for us all "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," they did not mean a bare clinging to existence, liberty to starve, and the pursuit of a nimble happiness by the lame, the halt, and the blind. They meant fullness of life, liberty in the broadest sense, both outer and inner, and that almost certain success in the attainment of happiness which these two guarantee a man. In a word, the fathers meant to offer us all a good long draft of the brimming cup with the full sum of benefits implied by that privilege. For the vitalized man possesses real life and liberty, and finds happiness usually at his disposal without putting himself to the trouble of pursuit.
I can imagine the good fathers' chagrin if they are aware to-day of how things have gone on in their republic. Perhaps they realize that the possibility of exuberance has now become a special privilege. And if they are still as wise as they once were, they will be doubly exasperated by this state of affairs because they will see that it is needless. It has been proved over and over again that modern machinery has removed all real necessity for poverty and overwork. There is enough to go 'round. Under a more democratic system we might have enough of the necessities and reasonable comforts of life to supply each of the hundred million Americans, if every man did no more than a wholesome amount of productive labor in a day and had the rest of his time for constructive leisure and real living.
On the same terms there is likewise enough exuberance to go 'round. The only obstacle to placing it within the reach of all exists in men's minds. Men are still too inert and blindly conservative to stand up together and decree that industry shall be no longer conducted for the inordinate profit of the few, but for the use of the many. Until that day comes, the possibility of exuberance will remain a special privilege.
In the mean while it is too bad that the favored classes do not make more use of this privilege. It is absurd that such large numbers of them are still as far from exuberance as the unprivileged. They keep reducing their overplus of vitality to an under-minus of it by too much work and too foolish play, by plain thinking and high living and the dissipation of maintaining a pace too swift for their as yet unadjusted organisms. They keep their house of life always a little chilly by opening the windows before the furnace has had a chance to take the chill out of the rooms.
If we would bring joy to the masses why not first vitalize the classes? If the latter can be led to develop a fondness for that brimming cup which is theirs for the asking, a long step will be taken toward the possibility of overflowing life for all. The classes will come to realize that, even from a selfish point of view, democracy is desirable; that because man is a social animal, the best-being of the one is inseparable from the best-being of the many; that no one can be perfectly exuberant until all are exuberant. Jean Finot is right: "True happiness is so much the greater and deeper in the proportion that it embraces and unites in a fraternal chain more men, more countries, more worlds."
But the classes may also be moved by instincts less selfish. For the brimming cup has this at least in common with the cup that inebriates: its possessor is usually filled with a generous—if sometimes maudlin—anxiety to have others enjoy his own form of beverage. The present writer is a case in point. His reason for making this book lay in a convivial desire to share with as many as possible the contents of a newly acquired brimming cup. Before getting hold of this cup, the writer would have looked with an indifferent and perhaps hostile eye upon the proposition to make such a blessing generally available. But now he cannot for the life of him see how any one whose body, mind, and spirit are alive and reasonably healthy can help wishing the same jolly good fortune for all mankind.
Horace Traubel records that the aged Walt Whitman was once talking philosophy with some of his friends when an intensely bored youngster slid down from his high chair and remarked to nobody in particular: "There's too much old folk here for me!"
"For me, too," cried the poet with one of his hearty laughs. "We are all of us a good deal older than we need to be, than we think we are. Let's all get young again."
Even so! Here's to eternal youth for every one. And here's to the hour when we may catch the eye of humanity and pledge all brother men in the brimming cup.
Enthusiasm is exuberance-with-a-motive. It is the power that makes the world go 'round. The old Greeks who christened it knew that it was the god-energy in the human machine. Without its driving force nothing worth doing has ever been done. It is man's dearest possession. Love, friendship, religion, altruism, devotion to hobby or career—all these, and most of the other good things in life, are forms of enthusiasm. A medicine for the most diverse ills, it alleviates both the pains of poverty and the boredom of riches. Apart from it man's heart is seldom joyful. Therefore it should be husbanded with zeal and spent with wisdom.
To waste it is folly; to misuse it, disaster. For it is safe to utilize this god-energy only in its own proper sphere. Enthusiasm moves the human vessel. To let it move the rudder, too, is criminal negligence. Brahms once made a remark somewhat to this effect: The reason why there is so much bad music in the world is that composers are in too much of a hurry. When an inspiration comes to them, what do they do? Instead of taking it out for a long, cool walk, they sit down at once to work it up, but let it work them up instead into an absolutely uncritical enthusiasm in which every splutter of the goose-quill looks to them like part of a swan-song.
Love is blind, they say. This is an exaggeration. But it is based on the fact that enthusiasm, whether it appears as love, or in any other form, always has trouble with its eyes. In its own place it is incomparably efficient; only keep it away from the pilot-house!
Since this god-energy is the most precious and important thing that we have, why should our word for its possessor have sunk almost to the level of a contemptuous epithet? Nine times in ten we apply it to the man who allows his enthusiasm to steer his vessel. It would be full as logical to employ the word "writer" for one who misuses his literary gift in writing dishonest advertisements. When we speak of an "enthusiast" to-day, we usually mean a person who has all the ill-judging impulsiveness of a child without its compensating charm, and is therefore not to be taken seriously. "He's only an enthusiast!" This has been said about Columbus and Christ and every other great man who ever lived.
But besides its poor sense of distance and direction, men have another complaint against enthusiasm. They think it insincere on account of its capacity for frequent and violent fluctuation in temperature. In his "Creative Evolution," Bergson shows how "our most ardent enthusiasm, as soon as it is externalized into action, is so naturally congealed into the cold calculation of interest or vanity, the one so easily takes the shape of the other, that we might confuse them together, doubt our own sincerity, deny goodness and love, if we did not know that the dead retain for a time the features of the living."
The philosopher then goes on to show how, when we fall into this confusion, we are unjust to enthusiasm, which is the materialization of the invisible breath of life itself. It is "the spirit." The action it induces is "the letter." These constitute two different and often antagonistic movements. The letter kills the spirit. But when this occurs we are apt to mistake the slayer for the slain and impute to the ardent spirit all the cold vices of its murderer. Hence, the taint of insincerity that seems to hang about enthusiasm is, after all, nothing but illusion. To be just we should discount this illusion in advance as the wise man discounts discouragement. And the epithet for the man whose lungs are large with the breath of life should cease to be a term of reproach.
Enthusiasm is the prevailing characteristic of the child and of the adult who does memorable things. The two are near of kin and bear a family resemblance. Youth trails clouds of glory. Glory often trails clouds of youth. Usually the eternal man is the eternal boy; and the more of a boy he is, the more of a man. The most conventional-seeming great men possess as a rule a secret vein of eternal-boyishness. Our idea of Brahms, for example, is of a person hopelessly mature and respectable. But we open Kalbeck's new biography and discover him climbing a tree to conduct his chorus while swaying upon a branch; or, in his fat forties, playing at frog-catching like a five-year-old.
The prominent American is no less youthful. Not long ago one of our good gray men of letters was among his children, awaiting dinner and his wife. Her footsteps sounded on the stairs. "Quick, children!" he exclaimed. "Here's mother. Let's hide under the table and when she comes in we'll rush out on all-fours and pretend we're bears." The maneuver was executed with spirit. At the preconcerted signal, out they all waddled and galumphed with horrid grunts—only to find something unfamiliar about mother's skirt, and, glancing up, to discover that it hung upon a strange and terrified guest.
The biographers have paid too little attention to the god-energy of their heroes. I think that it should be one of the crowning achievements of biography to communicate to the reader certain actual vibrations of the enthusiasm that filled the scientist or philosopher for truth; the patriot for his country; the artist for beauty and self-expression; the altruist for humanity; the discoverer for knowledge; the lover or friend for a kindred soul; the prophet, martyr, or saint for his god.
Every lover, according to Emerson, is a poet. Not only is this true, but every one of us, when in the sway of any enthusiasm, has in him something creative. Therefore a record of the most ordinary person's enthusiasms should prove as well worth reading as the ordinary record we have of the extraordinary person's life if written with the usual neglect of this important subject. Now I should like to try the experiment of sketching in outline a new kind of biography. It would consist entirely of the record of an ordinary person's enthusiasms. But, as I know no other life-story so well as my own, perhaps the reader will pardon me for abiding in the first person singular. He may grant pardon the more readily if he realizes the universality of this offense among writers. For it is a fact that almost all novels, stories, poems, and essays are only more or less cleverly disguised autobiography. So here follow some of my enthusiasms in a new chapter.
A CHAPTER OF ENTHUSIASMS
In looking back over my own life, a series of enthusiasms would appear to stand out as a sort of spinal system, about which are grouped as tributaries all the dry bones and other minor phenomena of existence. Or, rather, enthusiasm is the deep, clear, sparkling stream which carries along and solves and neutralizes, if not sweetens, in its impetuous flow life's rubbish and superfluities of all kinds, such as school, the Puritan Sabbath, boot and hair-brushing, polite and unpolemic converse with bores, prigs, pedants, and shorter catechists—and so on all the way down between the shores of age to the higher mathematics, bank failures, and the occasional editor whose word is not as good as his bond.
My first enthusiasm was for good things to eat. It was stimulated by that priceless asset, a virginal palate. But here at once the medium of expression fails. For what may words presume to do with the flavor of that first dish of oatmeal; with the first pear, grape, watermelon; with the Bohemian roll called Hooska, besprinkled with poppy and mandragora; or the wondrous dishes which our Viennese cook called Aepfelstrudel and Scheiterhaufen? The best way for me to express my reaction to each of these delicacies would be to play it on the 'cello. The next best would be to declare that they tasted somewhat better than Eve thought the apple was going to taste. But how absurdly inadequate this sounds! I suppose the truth is that such enthusiasms have become too utterly congealed in our blase minds when at last these minds have grown mature enough to grasp the principles of penmanship. So that whatever has been recorded about the sensations of extreme youth is probably all false. Why, even
"Heaven lies about us in our infancy,"—
as Wordsworth revealed in his "Ode on Immortality." And though Tennyson pointed out that we try to revenge ourselves by lying about heaven in our maturity, this does not serve to correct a single one of crabbed age's misapprehensions about youth.
Games next inflamed my fancy. More than dominoes or Halma, lead soldiers appealed to me, and tops, marbles, and battledore and shuttlecock. Through tag, fire-engine, pom-pom-pull-away, hide-and-seek, baseball, and boxing, I came to tennis, which I knew instinctively was to be my athletic grand passion. Perhaps I was first attracted by the game's constant humor which was forever making the ball imitate or caricature humanity, or beguiling the players to act like solemn automata. For children are usually quicker than grown-ups to see these droll resemblances. I came by degrees to like the game's variety, its tense excitement, its beauty of posture and curve. And before long I vaguely felt what I later learned consciously: that tennis is a sure revealer of character. Three sets with a man suffice to give one a working knowledge of his moral equipment; six, of his chief mental traits; and a dozen, of that most important, and usually veiled part of him, his subconscious personality. Young people of opposite sexes are sometimes counseled to take a long railway journey together before deciding on a matrimonial merger. But I would respectfully advise them rather to play "singles" with each other before venturing upon a continuous game of doubles.
The collecting mania appeared some time before tennis. I first collected ferns under a crag in a deep glen. Mere amassing soon gave way to discrimination, which led to picking out a favorite fern. This was chosen, I now realize, with a woeful lack of fine feeling. I called it "The Alligator" from its fancied resemblance to my brother's alligator-skin traveling-bag. But admiration of this fern brought a dawning consciousness that certain natural objects were preferable to others. This led, in years, to an enthusiasm for collecting impressions of the beauty, strength, sympathy, and significance of nature. The Alligator fern, as I still call it, has become a symbolic thing to me; and the sight of it now stands for my supreme or best-loved impression, not alone in the world of ferns, but also in each department of nature. Among forests it symbolizes the immemorial incense cedars and redwoods of the Yosemite; among shores, those of Capri and Monterey; among mountains, the glowing one called Isis as seen at dawn from the depths of the Grand Canon.
Next, I collected postage-stamps. I know that it is customary to-day for writers to sneer at this pursuit. But surely they have forgotten its variety and subtlety; its demand on the imagination; how it makes history and geography live, and initiates one painlessly into the mysteries of the currency of all nations. Then what a tonic it is for the memory! Only think of the implications of the annual price-catalogue! Soon after the issue of this work, every collector worthy the name has almost unconsciously filed away in his mind the current market values of thousands of stamps. And he can tell you offhand, not only their worth in the normal perforated and canceled condition, but also how their values vary if they are uncanceled, unperforated, embossed, rouletted, surcharged with all manner of initials, printed by mistake with the king standing on his head, or water-marked anything from a horn of plenty to the seven lean kine of Egypt. This feat of memory is, moreover, no hardship at all, for the enthusiasm of the normal stamp-collector is so potent that its proprietor has only to stand by and let it do all the work.
We often hear that the wealthy do not enjoy their possessions. This depends entirely upon the wealthy. That some of them enjoy their treasures giddily, madly, my own experience proves. For, as youthful stamp-collectors went in those days, I was a philatelic magnate. By inheritance, by the ceaseless and passionate trading of duplicates, by rummaging in every available attic, by correspondence with a wide circle of foreign missionaries, and by delivering up my whole allowance, to the dealers, I had amassed a collection of several thousand varieties. Among these were such gems as all of the triangular Cape of Good Hopes, almost all of the early Persians, and our own spectacular issue of 1869 unused, including the one on which the silk-stockinged fathers are signing the Declaration of Independence. Such possessions as these I well-nigh worshiped.
Even to-day, after having collected no stamps for a generation, the chance sight of an "approval sheet," with its paper-hinged reminders of every land, gives me a curious sensation. There visit my spine echoes of the thrills that used to course it on similar occasions in boyhood. These were the days when my stamps had formed for me mental pictures—more or less accurate—of each country from Angola to Zululand, its history, climate, scenery, inhabitants, and rulers. To possess its rarest stamp was mysteriously connected in my mind with being given the freedom of the land itself, and introduced with warm recommendations to its genius loci.
Even old circulars issued by dealers, now long gone to stampless climes, have power still to raise the ghost of the vanished glamour. I prefer those of foreign dealers because their English has the quaint, other-world atmosphere of what they dealt in. The other day I found in an old scrapbook a circular from Vienna, which annihilated a score of years with its very first words:
OF A LARGE PART OF MY RETAIL DEPOSITORY
Being lately so much engaged into my wholesale business ... I have made up my mind to sell out a large post of my retail-stamps at under-prices. They are rests of larger collections containing for the most, only older marks and not thrash possibly put together purposedly as they used to be composed by the other dealers and containing therefore mostly but worthless and useless nouveautes of Central America.
Before continuing this persuasive flow, the dealer inserts a number of testimonials like the following. He calls them:
Sent package having surpassed my expectations I beg to remit by to-days post-office-ordres Mk. 100. Kindly please send me by return of post offered album wanted for retail sale.
The dealer now comes to his peroration:
I beg to call the kind of attention of every buyer to the fact of my selling all these packages and albums with my own loss merely for clearings sake of my retail business and in order to get rid of them as much and as soon as possible. With 25-60 % abatement I give stamps and whole things to societies against four weeks calculation.
All collectors are bound to oblige themselves by writing contemporaneously with sending in the depository amount to make calculation within a week as latest term.
It is enough! As I read, the old magic enfolds me, and I am seized with longing to turn myself into a society of collectors and to implore the altruistic dealer "kindly please" to send me, at a prodigious "abatement," "stamps and whole things against four weeks calculation."
The youngest children of large families are apt to be lonely folk, somewhat retired and individualistic in their enthusiasms. I was such a child, blessed by circumstances with few playfellows and rather inclined to sedentary joys. Even when I reached the barbaric stage of evolution where youth is gripped by enthusiasm for the main pursuits of his primitive ancestors, I was fain to enjoy these in the more sophisticated forms natural to a lonely young city-dweller.
When stamps had passed their zenith I was filled with a lust for slaughter. Fish were at first the desired victims. Day after day I sat watching a hopelessly buoyant cork refuse to bob into the depths of the muddy and torpid Cuyahoga. I was like some fond parent, hoping against hope to see his child out-live the flippant period and dive beneath the surface of things, into touch with the great living realities. And when the cork finally marked a historic epoch by vanishing, and a small, inert, and intensely bored sucker was pulled in hand over hand, I felt thrills of gratified longing and conquest old and strong as the race.
But presently I myself was drawn, like the cork, beneath the superficial surface of the angler's art. For in the public library I chanced on a shelf of books, that told about fishing of a nobler, jollier, more seductive sort. At once I was consumed with a passion for five-ounce split-bamboo fly-rods, ethereal leaders, double-tapered casting-lines of braided silk, and artificial flies more fair than birds of paradise. Armed in spirit, with all these, I waded the streams of England with kindly old Isaak Walton, and ranged the Restigouche with the predecessors of Henry van Dyke. These dreams brought with them a certain amount of satisfaction—about as much satisfaction as if they had come as guests to a surprise party, each equipped with a small sandwich and a large appetite. The visions were pleasant, of course, but they cried out, and made me cry out, for action. There were no trout, to be sure, within a hundred miles, and there was no way of getting to any trouty realm of delight. But I did what I could to be prepared for the blessed hour when we should meet. I secured five new subscriptions or so to "The Boys' Chronicle" (let us call it), and received in return a fly-rod so flimsy that it would have resolved itself into its elements at sight of a half-pound trout. It was destined, though, never to meet with this embarrassment.
My casting-line bore a family resemblance to grocery string. My leader was a piece of gut from my brother's 'cello; my flybook, an old wallet. As for flies, they seemed beyond my means; and it was perplexing to know what to do, until I found a book which said that it was better by far to tie your own flies. With joyful relief I acted on this counsel. Plucking the feather-duster, I tied two White Millers with shoe-thread upon cod-hooks. One of these I stained and streaked with my heart's blood into the semblance of a Parmacheene Belle. The canary furnished materials for a Yellow May; a dooryard English sparrow, for a Brown Hackle. My masterpiece, the beautiful, parti-colored fly known as Jock Scott, owed its being to my sister's Easter bonnet.
I covered the points of the hooks with pieces of cork, and fished on the front lawn from morning to night, leaning with difficulty against the thrust of an imaginary torrent. And I never ceased striving to make the three flies straighten out properly as the books directed, and fall like thistledown upon the strategic spot where the empty tomato can was anchored, and then jiggle appetizingly down over the four-pounder, where he sulked in the deep hole just beyond the hydrant.
The hunting fever was wakened by the need for the Brown Hackle already mentioned. But as the choice of weapons and of victims culminated in the air-gun and the sparrow, respectively, my earliest hunting was confined even more closely than my fishing to the library and the dense and teeming forests of the imagination.
But while somewhat handicapped here by the scarcity of ferocious game, I was more fortunate in another enthusiasm which attacked me at almost the same time. For however unpropitious the hunting is on any given part of the earth's surface, there is everywhere and always an abundance of good hidden-treasure-seeking to be had. The garden, the attic, the tennis lawn all suffered. And my initiative was strengthened by the discovery of an incomparable book all about a dead man's chest, and not only digging for gold in a secret island, but finding it, too, by jingo! and fighting off the mutineers.
These aspirations naturally led to games of Pirate, or Outlaw, which were handicapped, however, by the scarcity of playmates, and their curious hesitation to serve as victims. As pirates and outlaws are well known to be the most superstitious of creatures, inclining to the primitive in their religious views, we were naturally led into a sort of dread enthusiasm for—or enthusiastic dread of—the whole pantheon of spooks, sprites, and bugaboos to which savages and children, great and small, bow the knee. My dreams at that time ran something like this:
Playing hymn-tunes day and night On a harp may be all right For the grown-ups; but for me, I do wish that heaven could be Sort o' like a circus, run So a kid could have some fun!
There I'd not play harps, but horns When I chased the unicorns— Magic tubes with pistons greasy, Slides that pushed and pulled out easy, Cylinders of snaky brass Where the fingers like to fuss, Polished like a looking-glass, Ending in a blunderbuss.
I would ride a horse of steel Wound up with a ratchet-wheel. Every beast I'd put to rout Like the man I read about. I would singe the leopard's hair, Stalk the vampire and the adder, Drive the werewolf from his lair, Make the mad gorilla madder. Needle-guns my work should do. But, if beasts got closer to, I would pierce them to the marrow With a barbed and poisoned arrow, Or I'd whack 'em on the skull Till my scimiter was dull.
If these weapons didn't work, With a kris or bowie-knife, Poniard, assegai, or dirk, I would make them beg for life;— Spare them, though, if they'd be good And guard me from what haunts the wood— From those creepy, shuddery sights That come round a fellow nights— Imps that squeak and trolls that prowl, Ghouls, the slimy devil-fowl, Headless goblins with lassoes, Scarlet witches worse than those, Flying dragon-fish that bellow So as most to scare a fellow....
There, as nearly as I could, I would live like Robin Hood, Taking down the mean and haughty, Getting plunder from the naughty To reward all honest men Who should seek my outlaw's den.
When I'd wearied of these pleasures I'd go hunt for hidden treasures— In no ordinary way, Pirates' luggers I'd waylay; Board them from my sinking dory, Wade through decks of gore and glory, Drive the fiends, with blazing matchlock, Down below, and snap the hatch-lock.
Next, I'd scud beneath the sky-land, Sight the hills of Treasure Island, Prowl and peer and prod and prise, Till there burst upon my eyes Just the proper pirate's freight: Gold doubloons and pieces of eight!
Then—the very best of all— Suddenly a stranger tall Would appear, and I'd forget That we hadn't ever met. And with cap upthrown I'd greet him (Turning from the plunder, yellow) And I'd hurry fast to meet him, For he'd be the very fellow Who, I think, invented fun— Robert Louis Stevenson.
The enthusiasms of this barbaric period never died. They grew up, instead, and proved serviceable friends. Fishing and hunting are now the high-lights of vacation time. The crude call of the weird and the inexplicable has modulated into a siren note from the forgotten psychic continents which we Western peoples have only just discovered and begun to explore. As for the buried treasure craze—why, my life-work practically amounts to a daily search for hidden valuables in the cellars and attics, the chimney-pieces and desert islands of the mind, and secret attempts to coin them into currency.
And so I might go on to tell of my enthusiasms for no end of other things like reading, modeling, folk-lore, cathedrals, writing, pictures, and the theater. Then there is the long story of that enthusiasm called Love, of Friendship its twin, and their elder brother, Religion, and their younger sister, Altruism. And travel and adventure and so on. But no! It is, I believe, a misdemeanor to obtain attention under false pretenses. If I have caught the reader's eye by promising to illustrate in outline a new method of writing autobiography, I must not abuse his confidence by putting that method into practice. So, with a regret almost equal to that of Lewis Carroll's famous Bellman—
I skip twenty years—
and close with my latest enthusiasm.
Confirmed wanderers that we were, my wife and I had rented a house for the winter in a Massachusetts coast village and had fallen somewhat under the spell of the place. Nevertheless, we had decided to move on soon—to try, in fact, another trip through Italy. Our friendly neighbors urged us to buy land up the "back lane" instead, and build and settle down. We knew nothing of this region, however, and scarcely heard them.
But they were so insistent that one day we ventured up the back lane at dusk and began to explore the woods. It grew dark and we thought of turning back. Then it began to grow light again. A full moon was climbing up through the maples, inviting further explorations. We pushed through a dense undergrowth and presently were in a grove of great white pines. There was a faint sound of running water, and suddenly we came upon an astonishing brook—wide, swift, and musical. We had not suspected the existence of such a brook within a dozen leagues. It was over-arched by tall oaks and elms, beeches, tupelos, and maples. The moonbeams were dancing in the ripples and on the floating castles of foam.
"What a place for a study!"
"Yes; a log cabin with a big stone fireplace."
The remarks came idly, but our eyes met and held. Moved by one impulse we turned from the stream and remarked what bosh people will sometimes talk, and discussed the coming Italian trip as we moved cautiously among the briers. But when we came once more to the veteran pines, they seemed more glamorous than ever in the moonlight, especially one that stood near a large holly, apart from the rest—a three-prong lyrical fellow—and his opposite, a burly, thickset archer, bending his long-bow into a most exquisite curve. The fragrant pine needles whispered. The brook lent its faint music.
"Quick! We had better get away!"
A forgotten lumber road led us safe from briers up a hill. Out of a dense oak grove we suddenly emerged upon the more open crest. Our feet sank deep in moss.
"Look," I said.
Over the heads of the high forest trees below shimmered a mile of moonlit marshes, and beyond them a gleam—perhaps from some vessel far at sea, perhaps even from a Provincetown lighthouse.
"Yes, but look!"
At a touch I faced around and beheld, crowning the hill, a stately company of red cedars, comely and dense and mysterious as the cypresses of Tivoli, and gloriously drenched in moonlight.
"But what a place for a house!"
"Let's give up Italy," was the answer, "and make this wood our home."
By instinct and training we were two inveterate wanderers. Never had we possessed so much as a shingle or a spoonful of earth. But the nest-building enthusiasm had us at last. Our hands met in compact. As we strolled reluctantly homeward to a ten-o'clock dinner we talked of road-making, swamps, pneumatic water-systems, the nimbleness of dollars, and mountains of other difficulties. And we agreed that the only kind of faith which can easily remove mountains is the faith of the enthusiast.
Human nature abhors a vacuum, especially a vacuum inside itself. Offer the ordinary man a week's vacation all alone, and he will look as though you were offering him a cell in Sing Sing.
"There are," as Ruth Cameron truly observes, "a great many people to whom there is no prospect more terrifying than that of a few hours with only their own selves for company. To escape that terrible catastrophe, they will make friends with the most fearful bore or read the most stupid story.... If such people are marooned a few hours, not only without human companionship, but even without a book or magazine with which to screen their own stupidity from themselves, they are fairly frantic."
If any one hates to be alone with himself, the chances are that he has not much of any self to be alone with. He is in as desolate a condition as a certain Mr. Pease of Oberlin, who, having lost his wife and children, set up his own tombstone and chiseled upon it this epitaph:
"Here lies the pod. The Pease are shelled and gone to God."
Now, pod-like people such as he are always solitary wherever other people are not; and there is, of course, nothing much more distressing than solitariness. These people, however, fall through sheer ignorance into a confusion of thought. They suppose that solitude and solitariness are the same thing. To the artist in life—to the wise keeper of the joyful heart—there is just one difference between these two: it is the difference between heaven and its antipodes. For, to the artist in life, solitude is solitariness plus the Auto-Comrade.
As it is the Auto-Comrade who makes all the difference, I shall try to describe his appearance. His eyes are the most arresting part of him. They never peer stupidly through great, thick spectacles of others' making. They are scarcely ever closed in sleep, and sometimes make their happiest discoveries during the small hours. These hours are truly small because the Auto-Comrade often turns his eyes into the lenses of a moving-picture machine—such an entertaining one that it compresses the hours to seconds. It is through constant, alert use that his eyes have become sharp. They can pierce through the rinds of the toughest personalities, and even penetrate on occasion into the future. They can also take in whole panoramas of the past in one sweeping look. For they are of that "inner" variety through which Wordsworth, winter after winter, used to survey his daffodil-fields. "The bliss of solitude," he called them.
The Auto-Comrade has an adjustable brow. It can be raised high enough to hold and reverberate and add rich overtones to, the grandest chords of thought ever struck by a Plato, a Buddha, or a Kant. The next instant it may easily be lowered to the point where the ordinary cartoon of commerce or the tiny cachinnation of a machine-made Chesterton paradox will not ring entirely hollow. As for his voice, it can at times be more musical than Melba's or Caruso's. Without being raised above a whisper, it can girdle the globe. It can barely breathe some delicious new melody; yet the thing will float forth not only undiminished, but gathering beauty, significance, and incisiveness in every land it passes through.
The Auto-Comrade is an erect, wiry young figure of an athlete. As he trades at the Seven-League Boot and Shoe Concern, it never bothers him to accompany you on the longest tramps. His feet simply cannot be tired out. As for his hands, they are always alert to give you a lift up the rough places on the mountain-side. He has remarkable presence of body. In any emergency he is usually the best man on the spot. He is at once seer, creator, accomplisher, and present help in time of trouble. But his everyday occupation is that of entertainer. He is the joy-bringer—the Prometheus of pleasure. In his vicinity there is no such thing as ennui or lonesomeness. Emerson wrote:
"When I would spend a lonely day Sun and moon are in my way."
But for pals of the Auto-Comrade, not only sun, moon, etc., are in the way, but all of his own unlimited resources. For every time and season he has a fittingly varied repertory of entertainment.
Now and again he startles you by the legerdemain feat of snatching brand-new ideas out of the blue, like rabbits out of a hat. While you stand at the port-hole of your cabin and watch the rollers rushing back to the beloved home-land you are quitting, he marshals your friends and acquaintances into a long line for a word of greeting or a rapid-fire chat, just as though you were some idol of the people, and were steaming in past the Statue of Liberty on your way home from lionizing and being lionized abroad, and the Auto-Comrade were the factotum at your elbow who asks, "What name, please?"
After the friends and acquaintances, he even brings up your betes noires and dearest enemies for inspection and comment. Strangely enough, viewed in this way, these persons no longer seem so contemptible or pernicious or devilish as they once did. At this point your factotum rubs your eye-glasses bright with the handkerchief he always carries about for slate-cleaning purposes, and lo! you even begin to discover good points about the chaps, hitherto unsuspected.
Then there are always your million-and-one favorite melodies which nobody but that all-around musical amateur, the Auto-Comrade, can so exquisitely whistle, hum, strum, fiddle, blat, or roar. There is also a universe full of new ones for him to improvise. And he is the jolliest sort of fellow musician, because, when you play or sing a duet with him, you can combine with the exciting give-and-take and reciprocal stimulation of the duet, the god-like autocracy of the solo, its opportunity for wide, uninterrupted, uncoerced self-expression. Sometimes, however, in the first flush of escape with him to the wilds, you are fain to clap your hand over his mouth in order the better to taste the essentially folk-less savor of solitude. For music is a curiously social art, and Browning was more than half right when he said, "Who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once."
Perhaps you can find your entertainer a small lump of clay or modeling-wax to thumb into bad caricatures of those you love and good ones of those you hate, until increasing facility impels him to try and model not a Tanagra figurine, for that would be unlike his original fancy, but a Hoboken figurine, say, or a sketch for some Elgin (Illinois) marbles.
If you care anything for poetry and can find him a stub of pencil and an unoccupied cuff, he will be most completely in his element; for if there is any one occupation more closely identified with him than another, it is that of poet. And though all Auto-Comrades are not poets, all poets are Auto-Comrades. Every poem which has ever thrilled this world or another has been written by the Auto-Comrade of some so-called poet. This is one reason why the so-called poets think so much of their great companions. "Allons! after the great companions!" cried old Walt to his fellow poets. If he had not overtaken, and held fast to, his, we should never have heard the "Leaves of Grass" whispering "one or two indicative words for the future." The bards have always obeyed this call. And they have known how to value their Auto-Comrades, too. See, for example, what Keats thought of his:
Though the most beautiful Creature were waiting for me at the end of a Journey or a Walk; though the Carpet were of Silk, the Curtains of the morning Clouds; the chairs and Sofa stuffed with Cygnet's down; the food Manna, the Wine beyond Claret, the Window opening on Winander mere, I should not feel—or rather my Happiness would not be so fine, as my Solitude is sublime. Then instead of what I have described, there is a sublimity to welcome me home—The roaring of the wind is my wife and the Stars through the window pane are my Children.... I feel more and more every day, as my imagination strengthens, that I do not live in this world alone but in a thousand worlds—No sooner am I alone than shapes of epic greatness are stationed around me, and serve my Spirit the office which is equivalent to a King's body-guard.... I live more out of England than in it. The Mountains of Tartary are a favorite lounge, if I happen to miss the Alleghany ridge, or have no whim for Savoy.
This last sentence not only reveals the fact that the Auto-Comrade, equipped as he is with a wishing-mat, is the very best cicerone in the world, but also that he is the ideal tramping companion. Suppose you are mountain-climbing. As you start up into "nature's observatory," he kneels in the dust and fastens wings upon your feet. He conveniently adjusts a microscope to your hat-brim, and hangs about your neck an excellent telescope. He has enough sense, too, to keep his mouth closed. For, like Hazlitt, he "can see no wit in walking and talking." The joy of existence, you find, rarely tastes more cool and sweet and sparkling than when you and your Auto-Comrade make a picnic thus, swinging in a basket between you a real, live thought for lunch. On such a day you come to believe that Keats, on another occasion, must have had his own Auto-Comrade in mind when he remarked to his friend Solitude that
"... it sure must be Almost the highest bliss of human-kind, When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee."
The Auto-Comrade can sit down with you in thick weather on a barren lighthouse rock and give you a breathless day by hanging upon the walls of fog the mellow screeds of old philosophies, and causing to march and countermarch over against them the scarlet and purple pageants of history. Hour by hour, too, he will linger with you in the metropolis, that breeder of the densest solitudes—in market or terminal, subway, court-room, library, or lobby—and hour by hour unlock you those chained books of the soul to which the human countenance offers the master key.
Something of a sportsman, too, is the Auto-Comrade. He it is who makes the fabulously low score at golf—the kind of score, by the way, that is almost invariably born to blush unseen. And he will uncomplainingly, even zestfully, fish from dawn to dusk in a solitude so complete that there is not even a fin to break it. But if there are fish, he finds them. He knows how to make the flies float indefinitely forward through yonder narrow opening, and drop, as light as thistledown, in the center of the temptingly inaccessible pool. He knows without looking, exactly how thick and how prehensile are the bushes and branches that lie in wait for the back cast, and he can calculate to a grain how much urging the reactionary three-pounder and the blest tie that binds him to the four-ounce rod will stand.
He is one of the handiest possible persons to have along in the woods. When you take him on a canoe trip with others, and the party comes to "white water," he turns out to be a dead shot at rapid-shooting. He is sure to know what to do at the supreme moment when you jam your setting-pole immutably between two rocks and, with the alternative of taking a bath, are forced to let go and grab your paddle; and are then hung up on a slightly submerged rock at the head of the chief rapid just in time to see the rest of the party disappear majestically around the lower bend. At such a time, simply look to the Auto-Comrade. He will carry you through. Also there is no one like him at the moment when, having felled your moose, leaned your rifle against a tree, and bent down the better to examine him, the creature suddenly comes to life.
In tennis, when you wake up to find that your racket has just smashed a lob on the bounce from near the back-net, scoring a clean ace between your paralyzed opponents, you ought to know that the racket was guided by that superior sportsman; and if you are truly modest, you will admit that your miraculous stop wherewith the team whisked the baseball championship out of the fire in the fourteenth inning was due to his unaided efforts.
There are other games about which he is not so keen: solitaire, for instance. For solitaire is a social game that soon loses its zest if there be not some devoted friend or relative sitting by and simulating that pleasureable absorption in the performance which you yourself only wish that you could feel.
This great companion can keep you from being lonely even in a crowd. But there is a certain kind of crowd that he cannot abide. Beware how you try to keep him in a crowd of unadulterated human porcupines! You know how the philosopher Schopenhauer once likened average humanity to a herd of porcupines on a cold day, who crowd stupidly together for warmth, prick one another with their quills, are mutually repelled, forget the incident, grow cold again, and repeat the whole thing ad infinitum.
In other words, the human porcupine is the person considered at the beginning of this one-sided discussion who, to escape the terrible catastrophe of confronting his own inner vacuum, will make friends with the most hideous bore. This creature, however, is much more rare than the misanthropic Schopenhauer imagined. It takes a long time to find one among such folk as lumbermen, gypsies, shirt-waist operatives, fishermen, masons, trappers, sailors, tramps, and teamsters. If the sour philosopher had only had the pleasure of knowing those teamsters who sent him into paroxysms of rage by cracking their whips in the alley, I am sure that he would never have spoken as harshly of their minds as he did. The fact is that porcupines are not extremely common among the very "common" people. It may be that there is something stupefying about the airs which the upper classes, the best people, breathe and put on, but the social climber is apt to find the human porcupine in increasing herds as he scales the heights. This curious fact would seem incidentally to show that our misanthropic philosopher must have moved exclusively in the best circles.
Now, if there is one thing above all others that the Auto-Comrade cannot away with, it is the flaccid, indolent, stodgy brain of the porcupine. If people have let their minds slump down into porcupinishness, or have never taken the trouble to rescue them from that ignominious condition—well, the Auto-Comrade is no snob; when all's said, he is a rather democratic sort of chap. But he has to draw the line somewhere, you know, and he really must beg to be excused from rubbing shoulders with such intellectual rabble, for instance, as blocks upper Fifth Avenue on Sunday noons. He prefers instead the rabble which, on all other noons of the week, blocks the lower end of that variegated thoroughfare.
Such exclusiveness lays the Auto-Comrade open, of course, to the charge of inhospitality. But "is not he hospitable," asks Thoreau, "who entertains good thoughts?" Personally, I think he is. And I believe that this sort of hospitality does more to make the world worth living in than much conventional hugging to your bosom of porcupines whose language you do not speak, yet with whom it is embarrassing to keep silence.
If the Auto-Comrade mislikes the porcupine, however, the feeling is returned with exorbitant interest. The alleged failings of auto-comradeship have always drawn grins, jokes, fleers, and nudges, from the auto-comradeless. It is time the latter should know that the joke is really on him; for he is the most forlorn of mankind. The other is never at a loss. He is invulnerable, being one whom "destiny may not surprise nor death dismay." But the porcupine is liable at any moment to be deserted by associates who are bored by his sharp, hollow quills. He finds himself the victim of a paradox which decrees that the hermit shall "find his crowds in solitude" and never be alone; but that the flocker shall every now and then be cast into inner darkness, where shall be "weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The laugh is on the porcupine; but the laugh turns almost into a tear when one stops to realize the nature of his plight. Why, the poor wretch is actually obliged to be near someone else in order to enjoy a sense of vitality! In other words, he needs somebody else to do his living for him. He is a vicarious citizen of the world, holding his franchise only by courtesy of Tom, Dick, and Harry. All the same, it is rather hard to pity him very profoundly while he continues to feel quite as contemptuously superior as he usually does. For, the contempt of the average porcupine for pals of the Auto-Comrade is akin to the contempt which the knights of chivalry felt for those paltry beings who were called clerks because they possessed the queer, unfashionable accomplishment of being able to read and write.
I remember that the loudest laugh achieved by a certain class-day orator at college came when he related how the literary guy and the tennis-player were walking one day in the woods, and the literary guy suddenly exclaimed: "Ah, leave me, Louis! I would be alone." Even apart from the stilted language in which the orator clothed the thought of the literary guy, there is, to the porcupine, something irresistibly comic in such a situation. It is to him as though the literary guy had stepped up to the nearest policeman and begged for the room at Sing Sing already referred to.
Indeed, the modern porcupine is as suspicious of pals of the Auto-Comrade as the porcupines of the past were of sorcerers and witches—folk, by the way, who probably consorted with spirits no more malign than Auto-Comrades. "What," asked the porcupines of one another, "can they be doing, all alone there in those solitary huts? What honest man would live like that? Ah, they must be up to no good. They must be hand in glove with the Evil One. Well, then, away with them to the stake and the river!"
As a matter of fact, it probably was not the Evil One that these poor folk were consorting with, but the Good One. For what is a man's Auto-Comrade, anyway, but his own soul, or the same thing by what other name soever he likes to call it, with which he divides the practical, conscious part of his brain, turn and turn about, share and share alike? And what is a man's own soul but a small stream of the infinite, eternal water of life? And what is heaven but a vast harbor where myriad streams of soul flow down, returning at last to their Source in the bliss of perfect reunion? I believe that many a Salem witch was dragged to her death from sanctuary; for church is not exclusively connected with stained glass and collection-baskets. Church is also wherever you and your Auto-Comrade can elude the starched throng and fall together, if only for a moment, on your knees.
The Auto-Comrade has much to gain by contrast with one's flesh-and-blood associates, especially if this contrast is suddenly brought home to one after a too long separation from him. I shall never forget the thrill that was mine early one morning after two months of close, uninterrupted communion with one of my best and dearest friends. At the very instant when the turn of the road cut off that friend's departing hand-wave, I was aware of a welcoming, almost boisterous shout from the hills of dream, and turning quickly, beheld my long-lost Auto-Comrade rushing eagerly down the slopes toward me.
Few joys may compare with the joy of such a sudden unexpected reunion. It is like "the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land." No, this simile is too disloyal to my friend. Well, then, it is like a beaker full of the warm South when you are leaving a good beer country and are trying to reconcile yourself to ditch-water for the next few weeks. At any rate, similes or not, there were we two together again at last. What a week of weeks we spent, pacing back and forth on the veranda of our log cabin, where we overlooked the pleasant sinuosities of the Sebois and gazed out together over golden beech and ghostly birch and blood-red maple banners to the far violet mountains of the Aroostook! And how we did take stock of the immediate past, chuckling to find that it had not been a quarter so bad as I had stupidly supposed. What gilded forest trails were those which we blazed into the glamorous land of to-morrow! And every other moment these recreative labors would be interrupted while I pressed between the pages of a notebook some butterfly or sunset leaf or quadruply fortunate clover which my Auto-Comrade found and turned over to me. (Between two of those pages, by the way, I afterwards found the argument of this chapter.)
Then, when the effervescence of our meeting had lost a little of its first, fine, carbonated sting, what Elysian hours we did spend over the correspondence of those other two friends, Goethe and Schiller! Passage after passage we would turn back to re-read and muse over. These we would discuss without any of the rancor or dogmatic insistence or one-eyed stubbornness that usually accompany the clash of mental steel on mental steel from a different mill. And without making any one else lose the thread or grow short-breathed or accuse us passionately of reading ahead, we would, on the slightest provocation, out-Fletcher Fletcher chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy. And we would underline and bracket and side-line and overline the ragged little paper volume, and scribble up and down its margins, and dream over its footnotes, to our hearts' content.
Such experiences, though, are all too rare with me. Why? Because my Auto-Comrade is a rather particular person and will not associate with me unless I toe his mark.
"Come," I propose to him, "let us go a journey."
"Hold hard," says he, and looks me over appraisingly. "You know the rule of the Auto-Comrades' Union. We are supposed to associate with none but fairly able persons. Are you a fairly able person?"
If it turns out that I am not, he goes on a rampage, and begins to talk like an athletic trainer. The first thing he demands is that his would-be associate shall keep on hand a jolly good store of surplus vitality. You are expected to supply exuberance to him somewhat as you supply gasolene to your motor. Now, of course, there are in the world not a few invalids and other persons of low physical vitality whose Auto-Comrades happen to have sufficient gasolene to keep them both running, if only on short rations. Most of these cases, however, are pathological. They have hot-boxes at both ends of the machine, and their progress is destined all too soon to cease and determine disastrously. The rest of these cases are the rare exceptions which prove the rule. For unexuberant yet unpathological pals of the Auto-Comrade are as rare as harmonious households in which the efforts of a devoted and blissful wife support an able-bodied husband.
The rule is that you have got to earn exuberance for two. "Learn to eat balanced rations right," thunders the Auto-Comrade, laying down the law; "exercise, perspire, breathe, bathe, sleep out of doors, and sleep enough; rule your liver with a rod of iron, don't take drugs or nervines, cure sickness beforehand, keep love in your heart, do an adult's work in the world, have at least as much fun as you ought to have."
"That," he goes on, "is the way to develop enough physical overplus so that you will be enabled to overcome your present sad addiction to mob-intoxication. And, provided your mind is not in as bad condition as your body, this physical overplus will transmute some of itself into mental exuberance. This will enable you to have more fun with your mind than an enthusiastic kitten has with its tail. It will enable you to look before and after, and purr over what is, as well as to discern, with pleasurable longing, what is not, and set forth confidently to capture it."
But if, by any chance, you have allowed your mind to get into the sort of condition which the old-fashioned German scholar used to allow his body to get into, it develops that the Auto-Comrade hates a flabby brain almost as much as he hates a flabby body. He soon makes it clear that he will not have much to do with any one who has not yet mastered the vigorous and highly complex art of not worrying. Also, he demands of his companion the knack of calm, consecutive thought. This is one reason why so many more Auto-Comrades are to be found in crow's-nests, gypsy-vans, and shirt-waist factories than on upper Fifth Avenue. For, watching the stars and the sea from a swaying masthead, taking light-heartedly to the open road, or even operating a rather unwholesome sewing-machine all day in silence, is better for consecutiveness of mind than a never-ending round of offices, clubs, committees, servants, dinners, teas, and receptions, to each of which one is a little late.
In diffusing knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, this knack of concentration, Arnold Bennett's little books on mental efficiency have done wonders for the art of auto-comradeship. Their popular persuasiveness has coaxed thousands on thousands of us to go in for a few minutes' worth of mental calisthenics every day. They have actually cajoled us into the painful feat of glancing over a page of a book and then putting it down and trying to retrace the argument in memory. Or they have coaxed us to fix on some subject—any subject—for reflection, and then scourge our straying minds back to it at every few steps of the walk to the morning train. And we have found that the mental muscles have responded at once to this treatment. They have hardened under the exercise until being left alone has begun to change from confinement in the same cell with that worst of enemies who has the right to forge one's own name—into a joyful pleasure jaunt with a totally different person who, if not one's best friend, is at least to be counted on as a trusty, entertaining, resourceful, unselfish associate—at times, perhaps, a little exacting—yet certainly a far more brilliant and generally satisfactory person than his companion.
No matter what the ignorant or the envious may say, there is nothing really unsocial in a moderate indulgence in the art of auto-comradeship. A few weeks of it bring you back with a fresher, keener appreciation of your other friends and of humanity in general than you had before setting forth. In the continuous performance of the psalm of life such contrasts as this of solos and choruses have a reciprocal advantage.
But auto-comradeship must not be overdone, as it was overdone by the mediaeval monks. Its delights are too delicious, its particular vintage of the wine of experience too rich, for long-continued consumption. Consecutive thought, though it is one of man's greatest pleasures, is at the same time perhaps the most arduous labor that he can perform. And after a long period of it, both the Auto-Comrade and his companion become exhausted and, perforce, less comradely.
Besides the incidental exhaustion, there is another reason why this beatific association must have its time-limit; for, unfortunately, one's Auto-Comrade is always of the same sex as one's self, and in youth, at least, if the presence of the complementary part of creation is long denied, there comes a time when this denial surges higher and higher in subconsciousness, then breaks into consciousness, and keeps on surging until it deluges all the tranquillities, zests, surprises, and excitements of auto-comradeship, and makes them of no effect.
This is, probably, a wise provision for the salvation of the human digestion. For otherwise, many a man, having tasted of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of auto-comradeship, might thereupon be tempted to retire to his hermit's den hard by and endeavor to sustain himself for life on this food alone.
Most of us, however, long before such extremes have been reached, are sure to rush back to our kind for the simple reason that we are enjoying auto-comradeship so much that we want someone else to enjoy it with.
VIM AND VISION
Efficiency is to-day the Hallelujah Chorus of industry. I know a manufacturer who recently read a book on business management. Stop-watch in hand he then made an exhaustive study of his office force and their every action. After considering the tabulated results he arose, smashed all but one of the many office mirrors, bought modern typewriters, and otherwise eliminated works of supererogation. The sequel is that a dozen stenographers to-day perform the work of the former thirty-two.
This sort of thing is spreading through the business world and beyond it in every direction. Even the artists are studying the bearing of industrial efficiency on the arts of sculpture, music, literature, architecture, and painting. But beyond the card catalogue and the filing cabinet the artists find that this new gospel has little to offer them. Their sympathies go out, instead, to a different kind of efficiency. The kind that bids fair to shatter their old lives to bits and re-mold them nearer to the heart's desire is not industrial but human. For inspiration it goes back of the age of Brandeis to the age of Pericles.
The enthusiasm for human efficiency is beginning to rival that for industrial efficiency. Preventive medicine, public playgrounds, the new health education, school hygiene, city planning, eugenics, housing reform, the child-welfare and country-life movements, the cult of exercise and sport—these all are helping to lower the death-rate and enrich the life-rate the world over. Health has fought with smoke and germs and is now in the air. It would be strange if the receptive nature of the artist should escape the benignant infection.
There is an excellent reason why human efficiency should appeal less to the industrial than to the artistic worlds. Industry has a new supply of human machines always available. Their initial cost is nothing. So it pays to overwork them, scrap them promptly, and install fresh ones. Thus it comes that the costly spinning machines in the Southern mills are exquisitely cared for, while the cheap little boys and girls who tie the broken threads are made to last an average four or five years. In art it is different. The artist knows that he is, like Swinburne's Hertha, at once the machine and the machinist. It is dawning upon him that one chief reason why the old Greeks scaled Parnassus so efficiently is that all the master-climbers got, and kept, their human machines in good order for the climb. They trained for the event as an Olympic athlete trains to-day for the Marathon. One other reason why there was so much record-breaking in ancient Greece is that the non-artists trained also, and thus, through their heightened sympathy and appreciation of the master-climbers, became masters by proxy. But that is another chapter.