THE WIT AND HUMOR OF AMERICA
In Ten Volumes
THE WIT AND HUMOR OF AMERICA
EDITED BY MARSHALL P. WILDER
Funk & Wagnalls Company New York and London
Copyright MDCCCCVII, BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY Copyright MDCCCCXI, THE THWING COMPANY
PAGE Archaeological Congress, An Robert J. Burdette 390 Aunt Dinah's Kitchen Harriet Beecher Stowe 335 Ballad Charles Godfrey Leland 355 Barney McGee Richard Hovey 223 Beecher Beached, The John B. Tabb 232 Boy's View of It, A Frank L. Stanton 393 Budd Wilkins at the Show S.E. Kiser 352 Colonel's Clothes, The Caroline Howard Gilman 396 Comin' Thu Anne Virginia Culbertson 333 Dutchman Who Had the "Small Pox," The Henry P. Leland 295 Evening Musicale, An May Isabel Fisk 325 Familiar Authors at Work Hayden Carruth 289 Fascination John B. Tabb 222 Golfer's Rubaiyat, The H.W. Boynton 319 Go Lightly, Gal (The Cake Walk) Anne Virginia Culbertson 317 Grandma Keeler Gets Grandpa Ready for Sunday-School Sarah P. McLean Greene 266 Hoosier and the Salt Pile, The Danforth Marble 357 How "Ruby" Played George W. Bagby 311 Letter, A Petroleum V. Nasby 282 Lost Word, The John Paul 293 Love Sonnets of a Hoodlum Wallace Irwin 307 Mr. Dooley on Gold-Seeking Finley Peter Dunne 304 Mr. Dooley on Reform Candidates Finley Peter Dunne 321 Natural Perversities James Whitcomb Riley 350 Nautical Ballad, A Charles E. Carryl 348 Old Deacon's Version of the Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, The Frank L. Stanton 227 Our Best Society George William Curtis 233 Plagiarism John B. Tabb 316 Recruit, The Robert W. Chambers 230 "Ringworm Frank" James Whitcomb Riley 395 Rival Entertainment, A Kate Field 362 Samuel Brown Phoebe Cary 259 Seffy and Sally John Luther Long 372 She Talked Sam Walter Foss 264 Strike at Hinman's, The Robert J. Burdette 342 Two Brothers, The Carolyn Wells 281 Two Farmers, The Carolyn Wells 258 Two New Houses, The Carolyn Wells 221 Two Suitors, The Carolyn Wells 229 Vive La Bagatelle Gelett Burgess 280 Walk William Devere 300 Way it Wuz, The James Whitcomb Riley 261 Yawcob Strauss Charles Follen Adams 370 Yes? John Boyle O'Reilly 222
COMPLETE INDEX AT THE END OF VOLUME X.
THE TWO NEW HOUSES
BY CAROLYN WELLS
Once on a Time, there were Two Men, each of whom decided to build for himself a Fine, New House.
One Man, being of an Arrogant and Conceited Nature, took counsel of Nobody, but declared that he would build his House to suit himself.
"For," said he, "since it is My House and I am to Live in It, why should I ask the Advice of my Neighbors as to its Construction?"
While the House was Building, the Neighbors came often and Looked at it, and went away, Whispering and Wagging their Heads in Derision.
But the Man paid no Heed, and continued to build his House as he Would.
The Result was that, when completed, his House was lacking in Symmetry and Utility, and in a Hundred ways it was Unsatisfactory, and for each Defect there was a Neighbor who said, "Had you asked Me, I would have Warned you against that Error."
The Other Man, who was of a Humble and Docile Mind, went to Each of his Neighbors in Turn, and asked Advice about the Building of his House.
His Friends willingly and at Great Length gave him the Benefit of their Experiences and Opinions, and the Grateful Man undertook to Follow Out all their Directions.
The Result was that his House, when finished, was a Hodge-Podge of Varying Styles and Contradictory Effects, and Exceedingly Uncomfortable and Inconvenient to Live In.
This Fable teaches that In a Multitude of Counselors there is Safety, and that Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth.
BY JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY
The words of the lips are double or single, True or false, as we say or sing: But the words of the eyes that mix and mingle Are always saying the same old thing.
BY JOHN B. TABB
Among your many playmates here, How is it that you all prefer Your little friend, my dear? "Because, mamma, tho' hard we try, Not one of us can spit so high, And catch it in his ear."
BY RICHARD HOVEY
Barney McGee, there's no end of good luck in you, Will-o'-the-wisp, with a flicker of Puck in you, Wild as a bull-pup, and all of his pluck in you— Let a man tread on your coat and he'll see! Eyes like the lakes of Killarney for clarity, Nose that turns up without any vulgarity, Smile like a cherub, and hair that is carroty— Whoop, you're a rarity, Barney McGee! Mellow as Tarragon, Prouder than Aragon— Hardly a paragon, You will agree— Here's all that's fine to you! Books and old wine to you! Girls be divine to you, Barney McGee!
Lucky the day when I met you unwittingly, Dining where vagabonds came and went flittingly. Here's some Barbera to drink it befittingly, That day at Silvio's, Barney McGee! Many's the time we have quaffed our Chianti there, Listened to Silvio quoting us Dante there— Once more to drink Nebiolo spumante there, How we'd pitch Pommery into the sea! There where the gang of us Met ere Rome rang of us, They had the hang of us To a degree. How they would trust to you! That was but just to you. Here's o'er their dust to you, Barney McGee!
Barney McGee, when you're sober you scintillate, But when you're in drink you're the pride of the intellect; Divil a one of us ever came in till late, Once at the bar where you happened to be— Every eye there like a spoke in you centering, You with your eloquence, blarney, and bantering— All Vagabondia shouts at your entering, King of the Tenderloin, Barney McGee! There's no satiety In your society With the variety Of your esprit. Here's a long purse to you, And a great thirst to you! Fate be no worse to you, Barney McGee!
Och, and the girls whose poor hearts you deracinate, Whirl and bewilder and flutter and fascinate! Faith, it's so killing you are, you assassinate— Murder's the word for you, Barney McGee! Bold when they're sunny, and smooth when they're showery— Oh, but the style of you, fluent and flowery! Chesterfield's way, with a touch of the Bowery! How would they silence you, Barney machree? Naught can your gab allay, Learned as Rabelais (You in his abbey lay Once on the spree). Here's to the smile of you, (Oh, but the guile of you!) And a long while of you, Barney McGee!
Facile with phrases of length and Latinity, Like honorificabilitudinity, Where is the maid could resist your vicinity, Wiled by the impudent grace of your plea? Then your vivacity and pertinacity Carry the day with the divil's audacity; No mere veracity robs your sagacity Of perspicacity, Barney McGee. When all is new to them, What will you do to them? Will you be true to them? Who shall decree? Here's a fair strife to you! Health and long life to you! And a great wife to you, Barney McGee!
Barney McGee, you're the pick of gentility; Nothing can phase you, you've such a facility; Nobody ever yet found your utility— There is the charm of you, Barney McGee; Under conditions that others would stammer in, Still unperturbed as a cat or a Cameron, Polished as somebody in the Decameron, Putting the glamour on price or Pawnee. In your meanderin', Love and philanderin', Calm as a mandarin Sipping his tea! Under the art of you, Parcel and part of you, Here's to the heart of you, Barney McGee!
You who were ever alert to befriend a man, You who were ever the first to defend a man, You who had always the money to lend a man, Down on his luck and hard up for a V! Sure, you'll be playing a harp in beatitude (And a quare sight you will be in that attitude)— Some day, where gratitude seems but a platitude, You'll find your latitude, Barney McGee. That's no flim-flam at all, Frivol or sham at all, Just the plain—Damn it all, Have one with me! Here's one and more to you! Friends by the score to you, True to the core to you, Barney McGee!
THE OLD DEACON'S VERSION OF THE STORY OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
BY FRANK L. STANTON
I s'pose yo' know de story, O my brotherin', er de man Dat wuz rich ez cream, en livin' on de fatness er de lan'? How he sot dar eatin' 'possum, en when Laz'rus ax fer some, He tell 'im: "Git erway, dar! fer you'll never git a crumb!"
De rich man wuz a feastin' f'um his chiny plate en cup, Kaze he 'fraid his po' relations come en eat his wittles up; I spec' he had two 'possums on de table long en wide, En a jimmyjohn er cane juice wuz a-settin' by his side.
En he say: "Dis heah des suits me, en I gwine ter eat my fill; But I'll sic de dogs on Laz'rus, ef he waitin' roun' heah still." En de dogs commence dey barkin', raise a racket high en low, En when Laz'rus see 'em comin' he decide 'twuz time ter go.
So, he limp off on his crutches, en de rich man think it's fun, But I reckon Laz'rus answer: "I'll git even wid you, son!" De rich man so enjoy hisse'f he laugh hisse'f ter bed, En, brotherin', when he wake up he wuz stiff, stone dead!
En den he raise a racket, en he holler out: "What dis? De place is onfamiliar, en I wonder whar' I is?" Den Satan, he mek answer: "I'm de man ter tell you dat: You's in de fire department er de place I livin' at!"
Den de rich man say: "Whar' Laz'rus dat wuz beggin' at my gate?" En Satan tell him: "Yander, wid a silver spoon en plate; En he eatin' fit ter kill hisse'f! He spendin' er de day Wid good ol' Mister Abra'm, but he mighty fur away!"
"Will you please, suh," say de rich man, "ax him bring a drink ter me, Wid a li'l' ice ter cool it? Kaze I hot ez hot kin be!" But Satan fall ter laughin', whilst he stir de fire roun':— "De ice would melt, my brother, 'fo' it ever hit de groun'!"
Den he fill a cup wid brimstone—fill it steamin' ter de top; But de rich man say he swear off, dat he never tech a drop! But Satan grab his pitchfork whilst de rich man give a squall, En in 'bout a half a second he had swallered cup en all!
Now, dat's erbout de story er de rich man at de feas', What wouldn't pass de 'possum roun' when Laz'rus want a piece. De 'possum means yo' pocketbook, de moral's plain ez day: Shake de dollars in de basket 'fo' you go de rich man's way!
THE TWO SUITORS
BY CAROLYN WELLS
Once on a Time there was a Charming Young Maiden who had Two Suitors.
One of These, who was of a Persistent and Persevering Nature, managed to be Continually in the Young Lady's Company.
He would pay her a visit in the Morning, Drop In to Tea in the Afternoon, and Call on her Again in the Evening.
He took her Driving, and he Escorted her to the Theater. He would take her to a Party, and then he would Dance, or Sit on the Stairs, or Flit into the Conservatory with her.
The Young Lady admired this man but she Wearied of his never-ceasing Presence, and she Said to Herself, "If he were not Always at my Elbow I should Better Appreciate his Good Qualities."
The Other Suitor, who considered himself a Man of Deep and Penetrating Cleverness, said to himself, "I will Go Away for a Time, and then my Fair One will Realize my Worth and Call Me Back to Her."
With a sad Visage he made his Adieus, and he Exacted her Pledge to Write to him Occasionally. But after he had Gone she Forgot her Promise, and Soon she Forgot his Very Existence.
This Fable teaches that Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, and that Out of Sight is Out of Mind.
BY ROBERT W. CHAMBERS
Sez Corporal Madden to Private McFadden: "Bedad, yer a bad 'un! Now turn out yer toes! Yer belt is unhookit, Yer cap is on crookit, Ye may not be dhrunk, But, be jabers, ye look it! Wan—two! Wan—two! Ye monkey-faced divil, I'll jolly ye through! Wan—two! Time! Mark! Ye march like the aigle in Cintheral Parrk!"
Sez Corporal Madden to Private McFadden: "A saint it ud sadden To dhrill such a mug! Eyes front! ye baboon, ye! Chin up! ye gossoon, ye! Ye've jaws like a goat— Halt! ye leather-lipped loon, ye! Wan—two! Wan—two! Ye whiskered orang-outang, I'll fix you! Wan—two! Time! Mark! Ye've eyes like a bat! can ye see in the dark?"
Sez Corporal Madden to Private McFadden: "Yer figger wants padd'n— Sure, man, ye've no shape! Behind ye yer shoulders Stick out like two bowlders; Yer shins is as thin As a pair of pen-holders! Wan—two! Wan—two! Yer belly belongs on yer back, ye Jew! Wan—two! Time! Mark! I'm dhry as a dog—I can't shpake but I bark!"
Sez Corporal Madden to Private McFadden: "Me heart it ud gladden To blacken yer eye. Ye're gettin' too bold, ye Compel me to scold ye— 'T is halt! that I say— Will ye heed what I told ye? Wan—two Wan—two! Be jabers, I'm dhryer than Brian Boru! Wan—two! Time! Mark! What's wur-ruk for chickens is sport for the lark!"
Sez Corporal Madden to Private McFadden: "I'll not stay a gadd'n Wid dagoes like you! I'll travel no farther, I'm dyin' for—wather; Come on, if ye like— Can ye loan me a quarther? Ya-as, you, What—two? And ye'll pay the potheen? Ye're a daisy! Whurroo! You'll do! Whist! Mark! The Rigiment's flatthered to own ye, me spark!"
THE BEECHER BEACHED
BY JOHN B. TABB
Were Harriet Beecher well aware Of what was done in Delaware, Of that unwholesome smell aware,
She'd make all heaven and hell aware, And ask John Brown to tell her where Henceforth she best might sell her ware.
OUR BEST SOCIETY
BY GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS
If gilt were only gold, or sugar-candy common sense, what a fine thing our society would be! If to lavish money upon objets de vertu, to wear the most costly dresses, and always to have them cut in the height of the fashion; to build houses thirty feet broad, as if they were palaces; to furnish them with all the luxurious devices of Parisian genius; to give superb banquets, at which your guests laugh, and which make you miserable; to drive a fine carriage and ape European liveries, and crests, and coats-of-arms; to resent the friendly advances of your baker's wife, and the lady of your butcher (you being yourself a cobbler's daughter); to talk much of the "old families" and of your aristocratic foreign friends; to despise labor; to prate of "good society"; to travesty and parody, in every conceivable way, a society which we know only in books and by the superficial observation of foreign travel, which arises out of a social organization entirely unknown to us, and which is opposed to our fundamental and essential principles; if all this were fine, what a prodigiously fine society would ours be!
This occurred to us upon lately receiving a card of invitation to a brilliant ball. We were quietly ruminating over our evening fire, with Disraeli's Wellington speech, "all tears," in our hands, with the account of a great man's burial, and a little man's triumph across the channel. So many great men gone, we mused, and such great crises impending! This democratic movement in Europe; Kossuth and Mazzini waiting for the moment to give the word; the Russian bear watchfully sucking his paws; the Napoleonic empire redivivus; Cuba, and annexation, and Slavery; California and Australia, and the consequent considerations of political economy; dear me! exclaimed we, putting on a fresh hodful of coal, we must look a little into the state of parties.
As we put down the coal-scuttle, there was a knock at the door. We said, "come in," and in came a neat Alhambra-watered envelope, containing the announcement that the queen of fashion was "at home" that evening week. Later in the evening, came a friend to smoke a cigar. The card was lying upon the table, and he read it with eagerness. "You'll go, of course," said he, "for you will meet all the 'best society.'"
Shall we, truly? Shall we really see the "best society of the city," the picked flower of its genius, character and beauty? What makes the "best society" of men and women? The noblest specimens of each, of course. The men who mould the time, who refresh our faith in heroism and virtue, who make Plato, and Zeno, and Shakespeare, and all Shakespeare's gentlemen, possible again. The women, whose beauty, and sweetness, and dignity, and high accomplishment, and grace, make us understand the Greek mythology, and weaken our desire to have some glimpse of the most famous women of history. The "best society" is that in which the virtues are most shining, which is the most charitable, forgiving, long-suffering, modest, and innocent. The "best society" is, by its very name, that in which there is the least hypocrisy and insincerity of all kinds, which recoils from, and blasts, artificiality, which is anxious to be all that it is possible to be, and which sternly reprobates all shallow pretense, all coxcombry and foppery, and insists upon simplicity as the infallible characteristic of true worth. That is the "best society," which comprises the best men and women.
Had we recently arrived from the moon, we might, upon hearing that we were to meet the "best society," have fancied that we were about to enjoy an opportunity not to be overvalued. But unfortunately we were not so freshly arrived. We had received other cards, and had perfected our toilette many times, to meet this same society, so magnificently described, and had found it the least "best" of all. Who compose it? Whom shall we meet if we go to this ball? We shall meet three classes of persons: first, those who are rich, and who have all that money can buy; second, those who belong to what are technically called "the good old families," because some ancestor was a man of mark in the state or country, or was very rich, and has kept the fortune in the family; and, thirdly, a swarm of youths who can dance dexterously, and who are invited for that purpose. Now these are all arbitrary and factitious distinctions upon which to found so profound a social difference as that which exists in American, or, at least in New York, society. First, as a general rule, the rich men of every community, who make their own money, are not the most generally intelligent and cultivated. They have a shrewd talent which secures a fortune, and which keeps them closely at the work of amassing from their youngest years until they are old. They are sturdy men, of simple tastes often. Sometimes, though rarely, very generous, but necessarily with an altogether false and exaggerated idea of the importance of money. They are a rather rough, unsympathetic, and, perhaps, selfish class, who, themselves, despise purple and fine linen, and still prefer a cot-bed and a bare room, although they may be worth millions. But they are married to scheming, or ambitious, or disappointed women, whose life is a prolonged pageant, and they are dragged hither and thither in it, are bled of their golden blood, and forced into a position they do not covet and which they despise. Then there are the inheritors of wealth. How many of them inherit the valiant genius and hard frugality which built up their fortunes; how many acknowledge the stern and heavy responsibility of their opportunities how many refuse to dream their lives away in a Sybarite luxury; how many are smitten with the lofty ambition of achieving an enduring name by works of a permanent value; how many do not dwindle into dainty dilettanti, and dilute their manhood with factitious sentimentality instead of a hearty, human sympathy; how many are not satisfied with having the fastest horses and the "crackest" carriages, and an unlimited wardrobe, and a weak affectation and puerile imitation of foreign life?
And who are these of our secondly, these "old families?" The spirit of our time and of our country knows no such thing, but the habitue of "society" hears constantly of "a good family." It means simply, the collective mass of children, grand-children, nephews, nieces, and descendants, of some man who deserved well of his country, and whom his country honors. But sad is the heritage of a great name! The son of Burke will inevitably be measured by Burke. The niece of Pope must show some superiority to other women (so to speak), or her equality is inferiority. The feeling of men attributes some magical charm to blood, and we look to see the daughter of Helen as fair as her mother, and the son of Shakespeare musical as his sire. If they are not so, if they are merely names, and common persons—if there is no Burke, nor Shakespeare, nor Washington, nor Bacon, in their words, or actions, or lives, then we must pity them, and pass gently on, not upbraiding them, but regretting that it is one of the laws of greatness that it dwindles all things in its vicinity, which would otherwise show large enough. Nay, in our regard for the great man, we may even admit to a compassionate honor, as pensioners upon our charity, those who bear and transmit his name. But if these heirs should presume upon that fame, and claim any precedence of living men and women because their dead grandfather was a hero—they must be shown the door directly. We should dread to be born a Percy, or a Colonna, or a Bonaparte. We should not like to be the second Duke of Wellington, nor Charles Dickens, Jr. It is a terrible thing, one would say, to a mind of honorable feeling, to be pointed out as somebody's son, or uncle, or granddaughter, as if the excellence were all derived. It must be a little humiliating to reflect that if your great-uncle had not been somebody, you would be nobody—that, in fact, you are only a name, and that, if you should consent to change it for the sake of a fortune, as is sometimes done, you would cease to be anything but a rich man. "My father was President, or Governor of the State," some pompous man may say. But, by Jupiter! king of gods and men, what are you? is the instinctive response. Do you not see, our pompous friend, that you are only pointing your own unimportance? If your father was Governor of the State, what right have you to use that fact only to fatten your self-conceit? Take care, good care; for whether you say it by your lips or by your life, that withering response awaits you—"then what are you?" If your ancestor was great, you are under bonds to greatness. If you are small, make haste to learn it betimes, and, thanking heaven that your name has been made illustrious, retire into a corner and keep it, at least, untarnished.
Our thirdly, is a class made by sundry French tailors, bootmakers, dancing-masters, and Mr. Brown. They are a corps-de-ballet, for use of private entertainments. They are fostered by society for the use of young debutantes, and hardier damsels, who have dared two or three years of the "tight" polka. They are cultivated for their heels, not their heads. Their life begins at ten o'clock in the evening, and lasts until four in the morning. They go home and sleep until nine; then they reel, sleepy, to counting-houses and offices, and doze on desks until dinnertime. Or, unable to do that, they are actively at work all day, and their cheeks grow pale, and their lips thin, and their eyes bloodshot and hollow, and they drag themselves home at evening to catch a nap until the ball begins, or to dine and smoke at their club, and the very manly with punches and coarse stories; and then to rush into hot and glittering rooms, and seize very decollete girls closely around the waist, and dash with them around an area of stretched linen, saying in the panting pauses, "How very hot it is!" "How very pretty Miss Podge looks!" "What a good redowa!" "Are you going to Mrs. Potiphar's?"
Is this the assembled flower of manhood and womanhood, called "best society," and to see which is so envied a privilege? If such are the elements, can we be long in arriving at the present state, and necessary future condition of parties?
Vanity Fair is peculiarly a picture of modern society. It aims at English follies, but its mark is universal, as the madness is. It is called a satire, but, after much diligent reading, we can not discover the satire. A state of society not at all superior to that of Vanity Fair is not unknown to our experience; and, unless truth-telling be satire; unless the most tragically real portraiture be satire; unless scalding tears of sorrow, and the bitter regret of a manly mind over the miserable spectacle of artificiality, wasted powers, misdirected energies, and lost opportunities, be satirical; we do not find satire in that sad story. The reader closes it with a grief beyond tears. It leaves a vague apprehension in the mind, as if we should suspect the air to be poisoned. It suggests the terrible thought of the enfeebling of moral power, and the deterioration of noble character, as a necessary consequence of contact with "society." Every man looks suddenly and sharply around him, and accosts himself and his neighbors, to ascertain if they are all parties to this corruption. Sentimental youths and maidens, upon velvet sofas, or in calf-bound libraries, resolve that it is an insult to human nature—are sure that their velvet and calf-bound friends are not like the dramatis personae of Vanity Fair, and that the drama is therefore hideous and unreal. They should remember, what they uniformly and universally forget, that we are not invited, upon the rising of the curtain, to behold a cosmorama, or picture of the world, but a representation of that part of it called Vanity Fair. What its just limits are—how far its poisonous purlieus reach—how much of the world's air is tainted by it, is a question which every thoughtful man will ask himself, with a shudder, and look sadly around, to answer. If the sentimental objectors rally again to the charge, and declare that, if we wish to improve the world, its virtuous ambition must be piqued and stimulated by making the shining heights of "the ideal" more radiant; we reply, that none shall surpass us in honoring the men whose creations of beauty inspire and instruct mankind. But if they benefit the world, it is no less true that a vivid apprehension of the depths into which we are sunken or may sink, nerves the soul's courage quite as much as the alluring mirage of the happy heights we may attain. "To hold the mirror up to Nature," is still the most potent method of shaming sin and strengthening virtue.
If Vanity Fair be a satire, what novel of society is not? Are Vivian Grey, and Pelham, and the long catalogue of books illustrating English, or the host of Balzacs, Sands, Sues, and Dumas, that paint French society, less satires? Nay, if you should catch any dandy in Broadway, or in Pall-Mall, or upon the Boulevards, this very morning, and write a coldly true history of his life and actions, his doings and undoings, would it not be the most scathing and tremendous satire?—if by satire you mean the consuming melancholy of the conviction that the life of that pendant to a mustache is an insult to the possible life of a man.
We have read of a hypocrisy so thorough, that it was surprised you should think it hypocritical: and we have bitterly thought of the saying, when hearing one mother say of another mother's child, that she had "made a good match," because the girl was betrothed to a stupid boy whose father was rich. The remark was the key of our social feeling.
Let us look at it a little, and, first of all, let the reader consider the criticism, and not the critic. We may like very well, in our individual capacity, to partake of the delicacies prepared by our hostess's chef, we may not be averse to pate and myriad objets de gout, and if you caught us in a corner at the next ball, putting away a fair share of dinde aux truffes, we know you would have at us in a tone of great moral indignation, and wish to know why we sneaked into great houses, eating good suppers, and drinking choice wines, and then went away with an indigestion, to write dyspeptic disgusts at society.
We might reply that it is necessary to know something of a subject before writing about it, and that if a man wished to describe the habits of South Sea Islanders, it is useless to go to Greenland; we might also confess a partiality for pate, and a tenderness for truffes, and acknowledge that, considering our single absence would not put down extravagant, pompous parties, we were not strong enough to let the morsels drop into unappreciating mouths; or we might say, that if a man invited us to see his new house, it would not be ungracious nor insulting to his hospitality, to point out whatever weak parts we might detect in it, nor to declare our candid conviction, that it was built upon wrong principles and could not stand. He might believe us, if we had been in the house, but he certainly would not, if we had never seen it. Nor would it be a very wise reply upon his part, that we might build a better if we didn't like that. We are not fond of David's pictures, but we certainly could never paint half so well; nor of Pope's poetry, but posterity will never hear of our verses. Criticism is not construction, it is observation. If we could surpass in its own way everything which displeased us, we should make short work of it, and instead of showing what fatal blemishes deform our present society, we should present a specimen of perfection, directly.
We went to the brilliant ball. There was too much of everything. Too much light, and eating, and drinking, and dancing, and flirting, and dressing, and feigning, and smirking, and much too many people. Good taste insists first upon fitness. But why had Mrs. Potiphar given this ball? We inquired industriously, and learned it was because she did not give one last year. Is it then essential to do this thing biennially? inquired we with some trepidation. "Certainly," was the bland reply, "or society will forget you." Everybody was unhappy at Mrs. Potiphar's, save a few girls and boys, who danced violently all the evening. Those who did not dance walked up and down the rooms as well as they could, squeezing by non-dancing ladies, causing them to swear in their hearts as the brusque broadcloth carried away the light outworks of gauze and gossamer. The dowagers, ranged in solid phalanx, occupied all the chairs and sofas against the wall, and fanned themselves until supper-time, looking at each other's diamonds, and criticizing the toilettes of the younger ladies, each narrowly watching her peculiar Polly Jane, that she did not betray too much interest in any man who was not of a certain fortune.—It is the cold, vulgar truth, madam, nor are we in the slightest degree exaggerating.—Elderly gentlemen, twisting single gloves in a very wretched manner, came up and bowed to the dowagers, and smirked, and said it was a pleasant party, and a handsome house, and then clutched their hands behind them, and walked miserably away, looking as affable as possible. And the dowagers made a little fun of the elderly gentlemen, among themselves, as they walked away.
Then came the younger non-dancing men—a class of the community who wear black cravats and waistcoats, and thrust their thumbs and forefingers in their waistcoat-pockets, and are called "talking men." Some of them are literary, and affect the philosopher; have, perhaps, written a book or two, and are a small species of lion to very young ladies. Some are of the blase kind; men who affect the extremest elegance, and are reputed "so aristocratic," and who care for nothing in particular, but wish they had not been born gentlemen, in which case they might have escaped ennui. These gentlemen stand with hat in hand, and their coats and trousers are unexceptionable. They are the "so gentlemanly" persons of whom one hears a great deal, but which seems to mean nothing but cleanliness. Vivian Grey and Pelham are the models of their ambition, and they succeed in being Pendennis. They enjoy the reputation of being "very clever," and "very talented fellows," and "smart chaps"; but they refrain from proving what is so generously conceded. They are often men of a certain cultivation. They have traveled, many of them—spending a year or two in Paris, and a month or two in the rest of Europe. Consequently they endure society at home, with a smile, and a shrug, and a graceful superciliousness, which is very engaging. They are perfectly at home, and they rather despise Young America, which, in the next room, is diligently earning its invitation. They prefer to hover about the ladies who did not come out this season, but are a little used to the world, with whom they are upon most friendly terms, and they criticize together, very freely, all the great events in the great world of fashion.
These elegant Pendennises we saw at Mrs. Potiphar's, but not without a sadness which can hardly be explained. They had been boys once, all of them, fresh and frank-hearted, and full of a noble ambition. They had read and pondered the histories of great men; how they resolved, and struggled, and achieved. In the pure portraiture of genius, they had loved and honored noble women, and each young heart was sworn to truth and the service of beauty. Those feelings were chivalric and fair. Those boyish instincts clung to whatever was lovely, and rejected the specious snare, however graceful and elegant. They sailed, new knights, upon that old and endless crusade against hypocrisy and the devil, and they were lost in the luxury of Corinth, nor longer seek the difficult shores beyond. A present smile was worth a future laurel. The ease of the moment was worth immortal tranquillity. They renounced the stern worship of the unknown God, and acknowledged the deities of Athens. But the seal of their shame is their own smile at their early dreams, and the high hopes of their boyhood, their sneering infidelity of simplicity, their skepticism of motives and of men. Youths, whose younger years were fervid with the resolution to strike and win, to deserve, at least, a gentle remembrance, if not a dazzling fame, are content to eat, and drink, and sleep well; to go to the opera and all the balls; to be known as "gentlemanly," and "aristocratic," and "dangerous," and "elegant"; to cherish a luxurious and enervating indolence, and to "succeed," upon the cheap reputation of having been "fast" in Paris. The end of such men is evident enough from the beginning. They are snuffed out by a "great match," and become an appendage to a rich woman; or they dwindle off into old roues, men of the world in sad earnest, and not with elegant affectation, blase; and as they began Arthur Pendennises, so they end the Major. But, believe it, that old fossil heart is wrung sometimes by a mortal pang, as it remembers those squandered opportunities and that lost life.
From these groups we passed into the dancing-room. We have seen dancing in other countries, and dressing. We have certainly never seen gentlemen dance so easily, gracefully, and well, as the American. But the style of dancing, in its whirl, its rush, its fury, is only equaled by that of the masked balls at the French opera, and the balls at the Salle Valentino, the Jardin Mabille, the Chateau Rouge, and other favorite resorts of Parisian grisettes and lorettes. We saw a few young men looking upon the dance very soberly, and, upon inquiry, learned that they were engaged to certain ladies of the corps-de-ballet. Nor did we wonder that the spectacle of a young woman whirling in a decollete state, and in the embrace of a warm youth, around a heated room, induced a little sobriety upon her lover's face, if not a sadness in his heart. Amusement, recreation, enjoyment! There are no more beautiful things. But this proceeding falls under another head. We watched the various toilettes of these bounding belles. They were rich and tasteful. But a man at our elbow, of experience and shrewd observation, said, with a sneer, for which we called him to account, "I observe that American ladies are so rich in charms that they are not at all chary of them. It is certainly generous to us miserable black coats. But, do you know, it strikes me as a generosity of display that must necessarily leave the donor poorer in maidenly feeling." We thought ourselves cynical, but this was intolerable; and in a very crisp manner we demanded an apology.
"Why," responded our friend with more of sadness than of satire in his tone, "why are you so exasperated? Look at this scene! Consider that this is, really, the life of these girls. This is what they 'come out' for. This is the end of their ambition. They think of it, dream of it, long for it. Is it amusement? Yes, to a few, possibly. But listen and gather, if you can, from their remarks (when they make any), that they have any thought beyond this, and going to church very rigidly on Sunday. The vigor of polkaing and church-going are proportioned; as is the one so is the other. My young friend, I am no ascetic, and do not suppose a man is damned because he dances. But life is not a ball (more's the pity, truly, for these butterflies), nor is its sole duty and delight dancing. When I consider this spectacle—when I remember what a noble and beautiful woman is, what a manly man,—when I reel, dazzled by this glare, drunken by these perfumes, confused by this alluring music, and reflect upon the enormous sums wasted in a pompous profusion that delights no one—when I look around upon all this rampant vulgarity in tinsel and Brussels lace, and think how fortunes go, how men struggle and lose the bloom of their honesty, how women hide in a smiling pretense, and eye with caustic glances their neighbor's newer house, diamonds or porcelain, and observe their daughters, such as these—why, I tremble, and tremble, and this scene to-night, every 'crack' ball this winter, will be, not the pleasant society of men and women, but—even in this young country—an orgie such as rotting Corinth saw, a frenzied festival of Rome in its decadence."
There was a sober truth in this bitterness, and we turned away to escape the sombre thought of the moment. Addressing one of the panting houris who stood melting in a window, we spoke (and confess how absurdly) of the Duesseldorf Gallery. It was merely to avoid saying how warm the room was, and how pleasant the party was, facts upon which we had already enlarged. "Yes, they are pretty pictures; but la! how long it must have taken Mr. Duesseldorf to paint them all;" was the reply.
By the Farnesian Hercules! no Roman sylph in her city's decline would ever have called the sun-god, Mr. Apollo. We hope that houri melted entirely away in the window; but we certainly did not stay to see.
Passing out toward the supper-room we encountered two young men. "What, Hal," said one, "you at Mrs. Potiphar's?" It seems that Hal was a sprig of one of the "old families." "Well, Joe," said Hal, a little confused, "it is a little strange. The fact is I didn't mean to be here, but I concluded to compromise by coming, and not being introduced to the host." Hal could come, eat Potiphar's supper, drink his wines, spoil his carpets, laugh at his fashionable struggles, and affect the puppyism of a foreign lord, because he disgraced the name of a man who had done some service somewhere, while Potiphar was only an honest man who made a fortune.
The supper-room was a pleasant place. The table was covered with a chaos of supper. Everything sweet and rare, and hot and cold, solid and liquid, was there. It was the very apotheosis of gilt gingerbread. There was a universal rush and struggle. The charge of the guards at Waterloo was nothing to it. Jellies, custard, oyster-soup, ice-cream, wine and water, gushed in profuse cascades over transparent precipices of tulle, muslin, gauze, silk and satin. Clumsy boys tumbled against costly dresses and smeared them with preserves; when clean plates failed, the contents of plates already used were quietly "chucked" under the table—heel-taps of champagne were poured into the oyster tureens or overflowed upon plates to clear the glasses—wine of all kinds flowed in torrents, particularly down the throats of very young men, who evinced their manhood by becoming noisy, troublesome, and disgusting, and were finally either led, sick, into the hat room, or carried out of the way, drunk. The supper over, the young people, attended by their matrons, descended to the dancing-room for the "German." This is a dance commencing usually at midnight or a little after, and continuing indefinitely toward daybreak. The young people were attended by their matrons, who were there to supervise the morals and manners of their charges. To secure the performance of this duty, the young people took good care to sit where the matrons could not see them, nor did they, by any chance, look toward the quarter in which the matrons sat. In that quarter, through all the varying mazes of the prolonged dance, to two o'clock, to three, to four, sat the bediamonded dowagers, the mothers, the matrons—against nature, against common sense. They babbled with each other, they drowsed, they dozed. Their fans fell listless into their laps. In the adjoining room, out of the waking sight, even, of the then sleeping mamas, the daughters whirled in the close embrace of partners who had brought down bottles of champagne from the supper-room, and put them by the side of their chairs for occasional refreshment during the dance. The dizzy hours staggered by—"Azalia, you must come now," had been already said a dozen times, but only as by the scribes. Finally it was declared with authority. Azalia went—Amelia—Arabella. The rest followed. There was prolonged cloaking, there were lingering farewells. A few papas were in the supper-room, sitting among the debris of game. A few young non-dancing husbands sat beneath gas unnaturally bright, reading whatever chance book was at hand, and thinking of the young child at home waiting for mama who was dancing the "German" below. A few exhausted matrons sat in the robing-room, tired, sad, wishing Jane would come up; assailed at intervals by a vague suspicion that it was not quite worth while; wondering how it was they used to have such good times at balls; yawning, and looking at their watches; while the regular beat of the music below, with sardonic sadness, continued. At last Jane came up, had had the most glorious time, and went down with mamma to the carriage, and so drove home. Even the last Jane went—the last noisy youth was expelled—and Mr. and Mrs. Potiphar, having duly performed their biennial social duty, dismissed the music, ordered the servants to count the spoons, and an hour or two after daylight went to bed. Enviable Mr. and Mrs. Potiphar!
We are now prepared for the great moral indignation of the friend who saw us eating our dinde aux truffes in that remarkable supper-room. We are waiting to hear him say in the most moderate and "gentlemanly" manner, that it is all very well to select flaws and present them as specimens, and to learn from him, possibly with indignant publicity, that the present condition of parties is not what we have intimated. Or, in his quiet and pointed way, he may smile at our fiery assault upon edged flounces, and nuga pyramids, and the kingdom of Lilliput in general.
Yet, after all, and despite the youths who are led out, and carried home, or who stumble through the "German," this is a sober matter. My friend told us we should see the "best society." But he is a prodigious wag. Who make this country? From whom is its character of unparalleled enterprise, heroism, and success derived? Who have given it its place in the respect and the fear of the world? Who, annually, recruit its energies, confirm its progress, and secure its triumph? Who are its characteristic children, the pith, the sinew, the bone, of its prosperity? Who found, and direct, and continue its manifold institutions of mercy and education? Who are, essentially, Americans? Indignant friend, these classes, whoever they may be, are the "best society," because they alone are the representatives of its character and cultivation. They are the "best society" of New York, of Boston, of Baltimore, of St. Louis, of New Orleans, whether they live upon six hundred or sixty thousand dollars a year—whether they inhabit princely houses in fashionable streets (which they often do), or not—whether their sons have graduated at Celarius's and the Jardin Mabille, or have never been out of their father's shops—whether they have "air" and "style," and are "so gentlemanly" and "so aristocratic," or not. Your shoemaker, your lawyer, your butcher, your clergyman—if they are simple and steady, and, whether rich or poor, are unseduced by the sirens of extravagance and ruinous display, help make up the "best society." For that mystic communion is not composed of the rich, but of the worthy; and is "best" by its virtues, and not by its vices. When Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith, Garrick, Reynolds, and their friends, met at supper in Goldsmith's rooms, where was the "best society" in England? When George the Fourth outraged humanity in his treatment of Queen Caroline, who was the first scoundrel in Europe?
Pause yet a moment, indignant friend. Whose habits and principles would ruin this country as rapidly as it has been made? Who are enamored of a puerile imitation of foreign splendors? Who strenuously endeavor to graft the questionable points of Parisian society upon our own? Who pass a few years in Europe and return skeptical of republicanism and human improvement, longing and sighing for more sharply emphasized social distinctions? Who squander, with profuse recklessness, the hard-earned fortunes of their sires? Who diligently devote their time to nothing, foolishly and wrongly supposing that a young English nobleman has nothing to do? Who, in fine, evince by their collective conduct, that they regard their Americanism as a misfortune, and are so the most deadly enemies of their country? None but what our wag facetiously termed "the best society."
If the reader doubts, let him consider its practical results in any great emporiums of "best society." Marriage is there regarded as a luxury, too expensive for any but the sons of rich men, or fortunate young men. We once heard an eminent divine assert, and only half in sport, that the rate of living was advancing so incredibly, that weddings in his experience were perceptibly diminishing. The reasons might have been many and various. But we all acknowledge the fact. On the other hand, and about the same time, a lovely damsel (ah! Clorinda!) whose father was not wealthy, who had no prospective means of support, who could do nothing but polka to perfection, who literally knew almost nothing, and who constantly shocked every fairly intelligent person by the glaring ignorance betrayed in her remarks, informed a friend at one of the Saratoga balls, whither he had made haste to meet "the best society," that there were "not more than three good matches in society." La Dame aux Camelias, Marie Duplessis, was to our fancy a much more feminine, and admirable, and moral, and human person, than the adored Clorinda. And yet what she said was the legitimate result of the state of our fashionable society. It worships wealth, and the pomp which wealth can purchase, more than virtue, genius or beauty. We may be told that it has always been so in every country, and that the fine society of all lands is as profuse and flashy as our own. We deny it, flatly. Neither English, nor French, nor Italian, nor German society, is so unspeakably barren as that which is technically called "society" here. In London, and Paris, and Vienna, and Rome, all the really eminent men and women help make up the mass of society. A party is not a mere ball, but it is a congress of the wit, beauty, and fame of the capital. It is worth while to dress, if you shall meet Macaulay, or Hallam, or Guizot, or Thiers, or Landseer, or Delaroche—Mrs. Norton, the Misses Berry, Madame Recamier, and all the brilliant women and famous foreigners. But why should we desert the pleasant pages of those men, and the recorded gossip of those women, to be squeezed flat against a wall, while young Doughface pours oyster-gravy down our shirt-front, and Caroline Pettitoes wonders at "Mr. Duesseldorf's" industry?
If intelligent people decline to go, you justly remark, it is their own fault. Yes, but if they stay away, it is very certainly their great gain. The elderly people are always neglected with us, and nothing surprises intelligent strangers more than the tyrannical supremacy of Young America. But we are not surprised at this neglect. How can we be, if we have our eyes open? When Caroline Pettitoes retreats from the floor to the sofa, and, instead of a "polker," figures at parties as a matron, do you suppose that "tough old Joes" like ourselves are going to desert the young Caroline upon the floor, for Madame Pettitoes upon the sofa? If the pretty young Caroline, with youth, health, freshness, a fine, budding form, and wreathed in a semi-transparent haze of flounced and flowered gauze, is so vapid that we prefer to accost her with our eyes alone, and not with our tongues, is the same Caroline married into a Madame Pettitoes, and fanning herself upon a sofa—no longer particularly fresh, nor young, nor pretty, and no longer budding, but very fully blown—likely to be fascinating in conversation? We can not wonder that the whole connection of Pettitoes, when advanced to the matron state, is entirely neglected. Proper homage to age we can all pay at home, to our parents and grandparents. Proper respect for some persons is best preserved by avoiding their neighborhood.
And what, think you, is the influence of this extravagant expense and senseless show upon these same young men and women? We can easily discover. It saps their noble ambition, assails their health, lowers their estimate of men, and their reverence for women, cherishes an eager and aimless rivalry, weakens true feeling, wipes away the bloom of true modesty, and induces an ennui, a satiety, and a kind of dilettante misanthropy, which is only the more monstrous because it is undoubtedly real. You shall hear young men of intelligence and cultivation, to whom the unprecedented circumstances of this country offer opportunities of a great and beneficent career, complaining that they were born within this blighted circle; regretting that they were not bakers and tallow-chandlers, and under no obligation to keep up appearances; deliberately surrendering all the golden possibilities of that future which this country, beyond all others, holds before them; sighing that they are not rich enough to marry the girls they love, and bitterly upbraiding fortune that they are not millionaires; suffering the vigor of their years to exhale in idle wishes and pointless regrets; disgracing their manhood by lying in wait behind their "so gentlemanly" and "aristocratic" manners, until they can pounce upon a "fortune" and ensnare an heiress into matrimony: and so, having dragged their gifts—their horses of the sun—into a service which shames all their native pride and power, they sink in the mire; and their peers and emulators exclaim that they have "made a good thing of it."
Are these the processes by which a noble race is made and perpetuated? At Mrs. Potiphar's we heard several Pendennises longing for a similar luxury, and announcing their firm purpose never to have wives nor houses until they could have them as splendid as jewelled Mrs. Potiphar, and her palace, thirty feet front. Where were their heads, and their hearts, and their arms? How looks this craven despondency, before the stern virtues of the ages we call dark? When a man is so voluntarily imbecile as to regret he is not rich, if that is what he wants, before he has struck a blow for wealth; or so dastardly as to renounce the prospect of love, because, sitting sighing, in velvet dressing-gown and slippers, he does not see his way clear to ten thousand a year: when young women coiffed a merveille, of unexceptionable "style," who, with or without a prospective penny, secretly look down upon honest women who struggle for a livelihood, like noble and Christian beings, and, as such, are rewarded; in whose society a man must forget that he has ever read, thought, or felt; who destroy in the mind the fair ideal of woman, which the genius of art, and poetry, and love, their inspirer has created; then, it seems to us, it is high time that the subject should be regarded, not as a matter of breaking butterflies upon the wheel, but as a sad and sober question, in whose solution, all fathers and mothers, and the state itself, are interested. When keen observers, and men of the world, from Europe, are amazed and appalled at the giddy whirl and frenzied rush of our society—a society singular in history for the exaggerated prominence it assigns to wealth, irrespective of the talents that amassed it, they and their possessor being usually hustled out of sight—is it not quite time to ponder a little upon the Court of Louis XIV, and the "merrie days" of King Charles II? Is it not clear that, if what our good wag, with caustic irony, called "best society," were really such, every thoughtful man would read upon Mrs. Potiphar's softly-tinted walls the terrible "mene, mene" of an imminent destruction?
Venice in her purple prime of luxury, when the famous law was passed making all gondolas black, that the nobles should not squander fortunes upon them, was not more luxurious than New York to-day. Our hotels have a superficial splendor, derived from a profusion of gilt and paint, wood and damask. Yet, in not one of them can the traveler be so quietly comfortable as in an English inn, and nowhere in New York can the stranger procure a dinner, at once so neat and elegant, and economical, as at scores of cafes in Paris. The fever of display has consumed comfort. A gondola plated with gold was no easier than a black wooden one. We could well spare a little gilt upon the walls, for more cleanliness upon the public table; nor is it worth while to cover the walls with mirrors to reflect a want of comfort. One prefers a wooden bench to a greasy velvet cushion, and a sanded floor to a soiled and threadbare carpet. An insipid uniformity is the Procrustes-bed, upon which "society" is stretched. Every new house is the counterpart of every other, with the exception of more gilt, if the owner can afford it. The interior arrangement, instead of being characteristic, instead of revealing something of the tastes and feelings of the owner, is rigorously conformed to every other interior. The same hollow and tame complaisance rules in the intercourse of society. Who dares say precisely what he thinks upon a great topic? What youth ventures to say sharp things, of slavery, for instance, at a polite dinner-table? What girl dares wear curls, when Martelle prescribes puffs or bandeaux? What specimen of Young America dares have his trousers loose or wear straps to them? We want individuality, heroism, and, if necessary, an uncompromising persistence in difference.
This is the present state of parties. They are wildly extravagant, full of senseless display; they are avoided by the pleasant and intelligent, and swarm with reckless regiments of "Brown's men." The ends of the earth contribute their choicest products to the supper, and there is everything that wealth can purchase, and all the spacious splendor that thirty feet front can afford. They are hot, and crowded, and glaring. There is a little weak scandal, venomous, not witty, and a stream of weary platitude, mortifying to every sensible person. Will any of our Pendennis friends intermit their indignation for a moment, and consider how many good things they have said or heard during the season? If Mr. Potiphar's eyes should chance to fall here, will he reckon the amount of satisfaction and enjoyment he derived from Mrs. Potiphar's ball, and will that lady candidly confess what she gained from it beside weariness and disgust? What eloquent sermons we remember to have heard in which the sins and the sinners of Babylon, Jericho and Gomorrah were scathed with holy indignation. The cloth is very hard upon Cain, and completely routs the erring kings of Judah. The Spanish Inquisition, too, gets frightful knocks, and there is much eloquent exhortation to preach the gospel in the interior of Siam. Let it be preached there and God speed the Word. But also let us have a text or two in Broadway and the Avenue.
The best sermon ever preached upon society, within our knowledge, is Vanity Fair. Is the spirit of that story less true of New York than of London? Probably we never see Amelia at our parties, nor Lieutenant George Osborne, nor good gawky Dobbin, nor Mrs. Rebecca Sharp Crawley, nor old Steyne. We are very much pained, of course, that any author should take such dreary views of human nature. We, for our parts, all go to Mrs. Potiphar's to refresh our faith in men and women. Generosity, amiability, a catholic charity, simplicity, taste, sense, high cultivation, and intelligence, distinguish our parties. The statesman seeks their stimulating influence; the literary man, after the day's labor, desires the repose of their elegant conversation; the professional man and the merchant hurry up from down town to shuffle off the coil of heavy duty, and forget the drudgery of life in the agreeable picture of its amenities and graces presented by Mrs. Potiphar's ball. Is this account of the matter, or Vanity Fair, the satire? What are the prospects of any society of which that tale is the true history?
There is a picture in the Luxembourg gallery at Paris, The Decadence of the Romans, which made the fame and fortune of Couture, the painter. It represents an orgie in the court of a temple, during the last days of Rome. A swarm of revellers occupy the middle of the picture, wreathed in elaborate intricacy of luxurious posture, men and women intermingled; their faces, in which the old Roman fire scarcely flickers, brutalized with excess of every kind; their heads of dishevelled hair bound with coronals of leaves, while, from goblets of an antique grace, they drain the fiery torrent which is destroying them. Around the bacchanalian feast stand, lofty upon pedestals, the statues of old Rome, looking, with marble calmness and the severity of a rebuke beyond words, upon the revellers. A youth of boyish grace, with a wreath woven in his tangled hair, and with red and drowsy eyes, sits listless upon one pedestal, while upon another stands a boy insane with drunkenness, and proffering a dripping goblet to the marble mouth of the statue. In the corner of the picture, as if just quitting the court—Rome finally departing—is a group of Romans with care-worn brows, and hands raised to their faces in melancholy meditation. In the foreground of the picture, which is painted with all the sumptuous splendor of Venetian art, is a stately vase, around which hangs a festoon of gorgeous flowers, its end dragging upon the pavement. In the background, between the columns, smiles the blue sky of Italy—the only thing Italian not deteriorated by time. The careful student of this picture, if he have been long in Paris, is some day startled by detecting, especially in the faces of the women represented, a surprising likeness to the women of Paris, and perceives, with a thrill of dismay, that the models for this picture of decadent human nature are furnished by the very city in which he lives.
THE TWO FARMERS
BY CAROLYN WELLS
Once on a Time there were Two Farmers who wished to Sell their Farms.
To One came a Buyer who offered a Fair Price, but the Farmer refused to Sell, saying he had heard rumors of a Railroad which was to be Built in his Vicinity, and he hoped The Corporation would buy his Farm at a Large Figure.
The Buyer therefore went Away, and as the Railroad never Materialized, the Farmer Sorely Regretted that he lost a Good Chance.
The Other Farmer Sold his Farm to the First Customer who came Along, although he Received but a Small Price for it. Soon Afterward a Railroad was Built right through the Same Farm, and The Railroad Company paid an Enormous Sum for the Land.
This Fable teaches that a Bird In The Hand is worth Two In The Bush, and The Patient Waiter Is No Loser.
BY PHOEBE CARY
It was many and many a year ago, In a dwelling down in town, That a fellow there lived whom you may know, By the name of Samuel Brown; And this fellow he lived with no other thought Than to our house to come down.
I was a child, and he was a child, In that dwelling down in town, But we loved with a love that was more than love, I and my Samuel Brown,— With a love that the ladies coveted, Me and Samuel Brown.
And this was the reason that, long ago, To that dwelling down in town, A girl came out of her carriage, courting My beautiful Samuel Brown; So that her high-bred kinsmen came, And bore away Samuel Brown, And shut him up in a dwelling house, In a street quite up in town.
The ladies, not half so happy up there, Went envying me and Brown; Yes! that was the reason (as all men know, In this dwelling down in town), That the girl came out of the carriage by night, Coquetting and getting my Samuel Brown.
But our love is more artful by far than the love If those who are older than we,— Of many far wiser than we,— And neither the girls that are living above, Nor the girls that are down in town, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Samuel Brown.
For the morn never shines, without bringing me lines, From my beautiful Samuel Brown; And the night's never dark, but I sit in the park With my beautiful Samuel Brown. And often by day, I walk down in Broadway, With my darling, my darling, my life and my stay, To our dwelling down in town, To our house in the street down town.
THE WAY IT WUZ
BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
Las' July—an', I presume 'Bout as hot As the ole Gran'-Jury room Where they sot!— Fight 'twixt Mike an' Dock McGriff— 'Pears to me jes' like as if I'd a dremp' the whole blame thing— Allus ha'nts me roun' the gizzard When they're nightmares on the wing, An' a feller's blood 's jes' friz! Seed the row from a to izzard— 'Cause I wuz a-standin' as clost to 'em As me an' you is!
Tell you the way it wuz— An' I don't want to see, Like some fellers does, When they're goern to be Any kind o' fuss— On'y makes a rumpus wuss Fer to interfere When their dander's riz— But I wuz a-standin' as clost to 'em As me an' you is!
I wuz kind o' strayin' Past the blame saloon— Heerd some fiddler playin' That "ole hee-cup tune!" Sort o' stopped, you know, Fer a minit er so, And wuz jes' about Settin' down, when—Jeemses whizz! Whole durn winder-sash fell out! An' there laid Dock McGriff, and Mike A-straddlin' him, all bloody-like, An' both a-gittin' down to biz!— An' I wuz a-standin' as clost to 'em As me an' you is!
I wuz the on'y man aroun'— (Durn old-fogy town! 'Peared more like, to me, Sund'y 'an Saturd'y!) Dog come 'crost the road An' tuck a smell An' put right back; Mishler driv by 'ith a load O' cantalo'pes he couldn't sell— Too mad, 'y jack! To even ast What wuz up, as he went past! Weather most outrageous hot!— Fairly hear it sizz Roun' Dock an' Mike—till Dock he shot, An' Mike he slacked that grip o' his An' fell, all spraddled out. Dock riz 'Bout half up, a-spittin' red, An' shuck his head— An' I wuz a-standin' as clost to 'em As me an' you is!
An' Dock he says, A-whisperin'-like,— "It hain't no use A-tryin'!—Mike He's jes' ripped my daylights loose!— Git that blame-don fiddler to Let up, an' come out here—You Got some burryin' to do,— Mike makes one, an' I expects In ten seconds I'll make two!" And he drapped back, where he riz, 'Crost Mike's body, black and blue, Like a great big letter X!— An' I wuz a-standin' as clost to 'em As me an' you is!
BY SAM WALTER FOSS
She talked of Cosmos and of Cause, And wove green elephants in gauze, And while she frescoed earthen jugs, Her tongue would never pause: On sages wise and esoteric, And bards from Wendell Holmes to Herrick: Thro' time's proud Pantheon she walked, And talked and talked and talked and talked!
And while she talked she would crochet, And make all kinds of macrame, Or paint green bobolinks upon Her mother's earthen tray; She'd decorate a smelling bottle While she conversed on Aristotle; While fame's proud favorites round her flocked, She talked and talked and talked and talked!
She talked and made embroidered rugs, She talked and painted 'lasses jugs, And worked five sea-green turtle doves On papa's shaving mugs; With Emerson or Epictetus, Plato or Kant, she used to greet us: She talked until we all were shocked, And talked and talked and talked and talked!
She had a lover, and he told The story that is never old, While she her father's bootjack worked A lovely green and gold. She switched off on Theocritus, And talked about Democritus; And his most ardent passion balked, And talked and talked and talked and talked.
He begged her to become his own; She talked of ether and ozone, And painted yellow poodles on Her brother's razor hone; Then talked of Noah and Neb'chadnezzar, And Timon and Tiglath-pileser— While he at her heart portals knocked, She talked and talked and talked and talked!
He bent in love's tempestuous gale, She talked of strata and of shale, And worked magenta poppies on Her mother's water pail; And while he talked of passion's power, She amplified on Schopenhauer— A pistol flashed: he's dead! Unshocked, She talked and talked and talked and talked!
GRANDMA KEELER GETS GRANDPA READY FOR SUNDAY-SCHOOL
BY SARAH P. McLEAN GREENE
Sunday morning nothing arose in Wallencamp save the sun.
At least, that celestial orb had long forgotten all the roseate flaming of his youth, in an honest, straightforward march through the heavens, ere the first signs of smoke came curling lazily up from the Wallencamp chimneys.
I had retired at night, very weary, with the delicious consciousness that it wouldn't make any difference when I woke up the next morning, or whether, indeed, I woke at all. So I opened my eyes leisurely and lay half-dreaming, half-meditating on a variety of things.
I deciphered a few of the texts on the scriptural patchwork quilt which covered my couch. There were—"Let not your heart be troubled," "Remember Lot's wife," and "Philander Keeler," traced in inky hieroglyphics, all in close conjunction.
Finally I reached out for my watch, and, having ascertained the time of day, I got up and proceeded to dress hastily enough, wondering to hear no signs of life in the house.
I went noiselessly down the stairs. All was silent below, except for the peaceful snoring of Mrs. Philander and the little Keelers, which was responded to from some remote western corner of the Ark by the triumphant snores of Grandma and Grandpa Keeler.
I attempted to kindle a fire in the stove, but it sizzled a little while, spitefully, as much as to say, "What, Sunday morning? Not I!" and went out. So I concluded to put on some wraps and go out and warm myself in the sun.
I climbed the long hill back of the Ark, descended, and walked along the bank of the river. It was a beautiful morning. The air was—everything that could be desired in the way of air, but I felt a desperate need of something more substantial.
Standing alone with nature, on the bank of the lovely river, I thought, with tears in my eyes, of the delicious breakfast already recuperating the exhausted energies of my far-away home friends.
When I got back to the house, Mrs. Philander, in simple and unaffected attire, was bustling busily about the stove.
The snores from Grandma and Grandpa's quarter had ceased, signifying that they, also, had advanced a stage in the grand processes of Sunday morning.
The children came teasing me to dress them, so I fastened for them a variety of small articles which I flattered myself on having combined in a very ingenious and artistic manner, though I believe those infant Keelers went weeping to Grandma afterward, and were remodeled by her all-comforting hand with much skill and patience.
In the midst of her preparations for breakfast, Madeline abruptly assumed her hat and shawl, and was seen from the window, walking leisurely across the fields in the direction of the woods. She returned in due time, bearing an armful of fresh evergreens, which she twisted around the family register.
When the ancient couple made their appearance, I remarked silently, in regard to Grandma Keeler's hair, what proved afterward to be its usual holiday morning arrangement. It was confined in six infinitesimal braids which appeared to be sprouting out, perpendicularly, in all directions from her head. The effect of redundancy and expansiveness thus heightened and increased on Grandma's features was striking in the extreme.
While we were eating breakfast, that good soul observed to Grandpa Keeler: "Wall, pa, I suppose you'll be all ready when the time comes to take teacher and me over to West Wallen to Sunday-school, won't ye?"
Grandpa coughed, and coughed again, and raised his eyes helplessly to the window.
"Looks some like showers," said he. "A-hem! a-hem! Looks mightily to me like showers, over yonder."
"Thar', r'aly, husband! I must say I feel mortified for ye," said Grandma. "Seein' as you're a perfessor, too, and thar' ain't been a single Sunday mornin' since I've lived with ye, pa, summer or winter, but what you've seen showers, and it r'aly seems to me it's dreadful inconsistent when thar' ain't no cloud in the sky, and don't look no more like rain than I do." And Grandma's face, in spite of her reproachful tones, was, above all, blandly sunlike and expressive of anything rather than deluge and watery disaster.
Grandpa was silent a little while, then coughed again. I had never seen Grandpa in worse straits.
"A-hem! a-hem! 'Fanny' seems to be a little lame, this mornin'," said he. "I shouldn't wonder. She's been goin' pretty stiddy this week."
"It does beat all, pa," continued Grandma Keeler, "how 't all the horses you've ever had since I've known ye have always been took lame Sunday mornin'. Thar' was 'Happy Jack,' he could go anywhers through the week, and never limp a step, as nobody could see, and Sunday mornin' he was always took lame! And thar' was 'Tantrum'—"
"Tantrum" was the horse that had run away with Grandma when she was thrown from the wagon, and generally smashed to pieces. And now, Grandma branched off into the thrilling reminiscences connected with this incident of her life, which was the third time during the week that the horrible tale had been repeated for my delectation.
When she had finished, Grandpa shook his head with painful earnestness, reverting to the former subject of discussion.
"It's a long jaunt!" said he; "a long jaunt!"
"Thar's a long hill to climb before we reach Zion's mount," said Grandma Keeler, impressively.
"Wall, there's a darned sight harder one on the road to West Wallen!" burst out the old sea-captain desperately; "say nothin' about the devilish stones!"
"Thar' now," said Grandma, with calm though awful reproof; "I think we've gone fur enough for one day; we've broke the Sabbath, and took the name of the Lord in vain, and that ought to be enough for perfessors."
Grandpa replied at length in a greatly subdued tone: "Wall, if you and the teacher want to go over to Sunday-school to-day, I suppose we can go if we get ready," a long submissive sigh—"I suppose we can."
"They have preachin' service in the mornin', I suppose," said Grandma. "But we don't generally git along to that. It makes such an early start. We generally try to get around, when we go, in time for Sunday-school. They have singin' and all. It's just about as interestin', I think, as preachin'. The old man r'aly likes it," she observed aside to me; "when he once gets started, but he kind o' dreads the gittin' started."
When I beheld the ordeal through which Grandpa Keeler was called to pass, at the hands of his faithful consort, before he was considered in a fit condition of mind and body to embark for the sanctuary, I marveled not at the old man's reluctance, nor that he had indeed seen clouds and tempest fringing the horizon.
Immediately after breakfast, he set out for the barn, ostensibly to "see to the chores;" really, I believe, to obtain a few moments' respite, before worse evil should come upon him.
Pretty soon Grandma was at the back door calling in firm though persuasive tones:
"Husband! husband! come in, now, and get ready."
No answer. Then it was in another key, weighty, yet expressive of no weak irritation, that Grandma called "Come, pa! pa-a! pa-a-a!" Still no answer.
Then that voice of Grandma's sung out like a trumpet, terrible with meaning—"Bijonah Keeler!"
But Grandpa appeared not. Next, I saw Grandma slowly but surely gravitating in the direction of the barn, and soon she returned, bringing with her that ancient delinquent, who looked like a lost sheep indeed and a truly unreconciled one.
"Now the first thing," said Grandma, looking her forlorn captive over; "is boots. Go and get on yer meetin' gaiters, pa."
The old gentleman, having dutifully invested himself, with those sacred relics, came pathetically limping into the room.
"I declare, ma," said he; "somehow these things—phew! Somehow they pinch my feet dreadfully. I don't know what it is,—phew! They're dreadful oncomf'table things somehow."
"Since I've known ye, pa," solemnly ejaculated Grandma Keeler, "you've never had a pair o' meetin' boots that set easy on yer feet. You'd ought to get boots big enough for ye, pa," she continued, looking down disapprovingly on the old gentleman's pedal extremities, which resembled two small scows at anchor in black cloth encasements: "and not be so proud as to go to pinchin' yer feet into gaiters a number o' sizes too small for ye."
"They're number tens, I tell ye!" roared Grandpa nettled outrageously by this cutting taunt.
"Wall, thar', now, pa," said Grandma, soothingly; "if I had sech feet as that, I wouldn't go to spreadin' it all over town, if I was you—but it's time we stopped bickerin' now, husband, and got ready for meetin'; so set down and let me wash yer head."
"I've washed once this mornin'. It's clean enough," Grandpa protested, but in vain. He was planted in a chair, and Grandma Keeler, with rag and soap and a basin of water, attacked the old gentleman vigorously, much as I have seen cruel mothers wash the faces of their earth-begrimed infants. He only gave expression to such groans as:
"Thar', ma! don't tear my ears to pieces! Come, ma! you've got my eyes so full o' soap now, ma, that I can't see nothin'. Phew, Lordy! ain't ye most through with this, ma?"
Then came the dyeing process, which Grandma Keeler assured me, aside, made Grandpa "look like a man o' thirty;" but to me, after it he looked neither old nor young, human nor inhuman, nor like anything that I had ever seen before under the sun.
"There's the lotion, the potion, the dye-er, and the setter," said Grandma, pointing to four bottles on the table. "Now whar's the directions, Madeline?"
These having been produced from between the leaves of the family Bible, Madeline read, while Grandma made a vigorous practical application of the various mixtures.
"This admirable lotion"—in soft ecstatic tones Madeline rehearsed the flowery language of the recipe—"though not so instantaneously startling in its effect as our inestimable dyer and setter, yet forms a most essential part of the whole process, opening, as it does, the dry and lifeless pores of the scalp, imparting to them new life and beauty, and rendering them more easily susceptible to the applications which follow. But we must go deeper than this; a tone must be given to the whole system by means of the cleansing and rejuvenating of the very centre of our beings, and, for this purpose, we have prepared our wonderful potion." Here Grandpa, with a wry face, was made to swallow a spoonful of the mixture. "Our unparalleled dyer," Madeline continued, "restores black hair to a more than original gloss and brilliancy, and gives to the faded golden tress the sunny flashes of youth." Grandpa was dyed. "Our world-renowned setter completes and perfects the whole process by adding tone and permanency to the efficacious qualities of the lotion, potion, and dyer, etc.;" while on Grandpa's head the unutterable dye was set.
"Now, read teacher some of the testimonials, daughter," said Grandma Keeler, whose face was one broad, generous illustration of that rare and peculiar virtue called faith.
So Madeline continued: "Mrs. Hiram Briggs, of North Dedham, writes: 'I was terribly afflicted with baldness, so that, for months, I was little more than an outcast from society, and an object of pity to my most familiar friends. I tried every remedy in vain. At length I heard of your wonderful restorative. After a week's application, my hair had already begun to grow in what seemed the most miraculous manner. At the end of ten months it had assumed such length and proportions as to be a most luxurious burden, and where I had before been regarded with pity and aversion, I became the envied and admired of all beholders.'"
"Just think!" said Grandma Keeler, with rapturous sympathy and gratitude, "how that poor creetur must a' felt!"
"'Orion Spaulding, of Weedsville, Vermont,'" Madeline went on—but, here, I had to beg to be excused, and went to my room to get ready for the Sunday-school.
When I came down again, Grandpa Keeler was seated, completely arrayed in his best clothes, opposite Grandma, who held the big family Bible in her lap, and a Sunday-school question book in one hand.
"Now, pa," said she; "what tribe was it in sacred writ that wore bunnits?"
I was compelled to infer from the tone of Grandpa Keeler's answer that his temper had not undergone a mollifying process during my absence.
"Come, ma," said he; "how much longer ye goin' to pester me in this way?"
"Why, pa," Grandma rejoined calmly; "until you git a proper understandin' of it. What tribe was it in sacred writ that wore bunnits?"
"Lordy!" exclaimed the old man. "How d'ye suppose I know! They must 'a' been a tarnal old womanish lookin' set anyway."
"The tribe o' Judah, pa," said Grandma, gravely. "Now, how good it is, husband, to have your understandin' all freshened up on the scripters!"
"Come, come, ma!" said Grandpa, rising nervously. "It's time we was startin'. When I make up my mind to go anywhere I always want to git there in time. If I was goin' to the Old Harry, I should want to git there in time."
"It's my consarn that we shall git thar' before time, some on us," said Grandma, with sad meaning, "unless we larn to use more respec'ful language."
I shall never forget how we set off for church that Sabbath morning, way out at one of the sunny back doors of the Ark: for there was Madeline's little cottage that fronted the highway, or lane, and then there was a long backward extension of the Ark, only one story in height. This belonged peculiarly to Grandma and Grandpa Keeler. It contained the "parlor" and three "keepin'" rooms opening one into the other, all of the same size and general bare and gloomy appearance, all possessing the same sacredly preserved atmosphere, through which we passed with becoming silence and solemnity into the "end" room, the sunny kitchen where Grandma and Grandpa kept house by themselves in the summer time, and there at the door, her very yellow coat reflecting the rays of the sun, stood Fanny, presenting about as much appearance of life and animation as a pensive summer squash.
The carriage, I thought, was a fac-simile of the one in which I had been brought from West Wallen on the night of my arrival. One of the most striking peculiarities of this sort of vehicle was the width at which the wheels were set apart. The body seemed comparatively narrow. It was very long, and covered with white canvas. It had neither windows nor doors, but just the one guarded opening in front. There were no steps leading to this, and, indeed, a variety of obstacles before it. And the way Grandma effected an entrance was to put a chair on a mound of earth, and a cricket on top of the chair, and thus, having climbed up to Fanny's reposeful back, she slipped passively down, feet foremost, to the whiffle-tree; from thence she easily gained the plane of the carriage floor.
Grandpa and I took a less circuitous, though, perhaps, not less difficult route.
I sat with Grandpa on the "front" seat—it may be remarked that the "front" seat was very much front, and the "back" seat very much back—there was a kind of wooden shelf built outside as a resting-place for the feet, so that while our heads were under cover, our feet were out, utterly exposed to the weather, and we must either lay them on the shelf or let them hang off into space.
Madeline and the children stood at the door to see us off.
"All aboard! ship ballasted! wind fa'r! go ahead thar', Fanny!" shouted Grandpa, who seemed quite restored in spirits, and held the reins and wielded the whip with a masterful air.
He spun sea-yarns, too, all the way—marvelous ones, and Grandma's reproving voice was mellowed by the distance, and so confusedly mingled with the rumbling of the wheels, that it seemed hardly to reach him at all. Not that Grandma looked discomfited on this account, or in bad humor. On the contrary, as she sat back there in the ghostly shadows, with her hands folded, and her hair combed out in resplendent waves on either side of her head, she appeared conscious that every word she uttered was taking root in some obdurate heart. She was, in every respect, the picture of good-will and contentment.
But the face under Grandpa's antiquated beaver began to give me a fresh shock every time I looked up at him, for the light and the air were rapidly turning his rejuvenated locks and his poor, thin fringe of whiskers to an unnatural greenish tint, while his bushy eyebrows, untouched by the hand of art, shone as white as ever.
In spite of the old sea-captain's entertaining stories, it seemed, indeed, "a long jaunt" to West Wallen.
To say that Fanny was a slow horse would be but a feeble expression of the truth.
A persevering "click! click! click!" began to arise from Grandma's quarter. This annoyed Grandpa exceedingly.
"Shet up, ma!" he was moved to exclaim at last. "I'm steerin' this craft."
"Click! click! click!" came perseveringly from behind.
"Dum it, ma! thar', ma!" cried Grandpa, exasperated beyond measure. "How is this hoss goin' to hear anything that I say ef you keep up such a tarnal cacklin'?"
Just as we were coming out of the thickest part of the woods, about a mile beyond Wallencamp, we discovered a man walking in the distance. It was the only human being we had seen since we started.
"Hullo, there's Lovell!" exclaimed Grandpa. "I was wonderin' why we hadn't overtook him before. We gin'ally take him in on the road. Yis, yis; that's Lovell, ain't it, teacher?"
I put up my glasses, helplessly.
"I'm sure," I said, "I can't tell, positively. I have seen Mr. Barlow but once, and at that distance I shouldn't know my own father."
"Must be Lovell," said Grandpa. "Yis, I know him! Hullo, thar'! Ship ahoy! ship ahoy!"
Grandpa's voice suggested something of the fire and vigor it must have had when it rang out across the foam of waves and pierced the tempest's roar.
The man turned and looked at us, and then went on again.
"He don't seem to recognize us," said Grandma.
"Ship a-hoy! Ship a-hoy!" shouted Grandpa.
The man turned and looked at us again, and this time he stopped and kept on looking.
When we got up to him we saw that it wasn't Lovell Barlow at all, but a stranger of trampish appearance, drunk and fiery, and fixed in an aggressive attitude.
I was naturally terrified. What if he should attack us in that lonely spot! Grandpa was so old! And moreover, Grandpa was so taken aback to find that it wasn't Lovell that he began some blunt and stammering expression of surprise, which only served to increase the stranger's ire. Grandma, imperturbable soul! who never failed to come to the rescue even in the most desperate emergencies—Grandma climbed over to the front, thrust out her benign head, and said in that deep, calm voice of hers:
"We're a goin' to the house of God, brother; won't you git in and go too?"
"No!" our brother replied, doubling up his fists and shaking them menacingly in our faces: "I won't go to no house o' God. What d'ye mean by overhauling me on the road, and askin' me to git into yer d—d old traveling lunatic asylum?"
"Drive on, pa," said Grandma, coldly. "He ain't in no condition to be labored with now. Drive on kind o' quick!"
"Kind o' quick" we could not go, but Fanny was made to do her best, and we did not pause to look behind.
When we got to the church Sunday-school had already begun. There was Lovell Barlow looking preternaturally stiff in his best clothes, sitting with a class of young men. He saw us when we came in, and gave me a look of deep meaning. It was the same expression—as though there was some solemn, mutual understanding between us—which he had worn on that night when he gave me his picture.
"There's plenty of young folks' classes," said Grandma; "but seein' as we're late maybe you'd jest as soon go right along in with us."
I said that I should like that best, so I went into the "old folks'" class with Grandma and Grandpa Keeler.
There were three pews of old people in front of us, and the teacher, who certainly seemed to me the oldest person I had ever seen, sat in an otherwise vacant pew in front of all, so that, his voice being very thin and querulous, we could hear very little that he said, although we were edified in some faint sense by his pious manner of shaking his head and rolling his eyes toward the ceiling.
The church was a square wooden edifice, of medium size, and contained three stoves all burning brightly. Against this, and the drowsy effect of their long drive in the sun and wind, my two companions proved powerless to struggle.
Grandpa looked furtively up at Grandma, then endeavored to put on as a sort of apology for what he felt was inevitably coming, a sanctimonious expression which was most unnatural to him, and which soon faded away as the sweet unconsciousness of slumber overspread his features. His head fell back helplessly, his mouth opened wide. He snored, but not very loudly. I looked at Grandma, wondering why her vigilance had failed on this occasion, and lo! her head was falling peacefully from side to side. She was fast asleep, too. She woke up first, however, and then Grandpa was speedily and adroitly aroused by some means, I think it was a pin; and Grandma fed him with bits of unsweetened flag-root, which he munched penitently, though evidently without relish, until he dropped off to sleep again, and she dropped off to sleep again, and so they continued.
But it always happened that Grandma woke up first. And whereas Grandpa, when the avenging pin pierced his shins, recovered himself with a start and an air of guilty confusion, Grandma opened her eyes at regular intervals, with the utmost calm and placidity, as though she had merely been closing them to engage in a few moments of silent prayer.
VIVE LA BAGATELLE
BY GELETT BURGESS
Sing a song of foolishness, laughing stocks and cranks! The more there are the merrier; come join the ranks! Life is dry and stupid; whoop her up a bit! Donkeys live in clover; bray and throw a fit!
Take yourself in earnest, never stop to think, Strut and swagger boldly, dress in red and pink; Prate of stuff and nonsense, get yourself abused; Some one's got to play the fool to keep the crowd amused!
Bully for the idiot! Bully for the guy! You could be a prig yourself, if you would only try! Altruistic asses keep the fun alive; Clowns are growing scarcer; hurry and arrive!
I seen a crazy critic a-writin' of a screed; "Tendencies" and "Unities"—Maeterlinck indeed! He wore a paper collar, and his tie was up behind; If that's the test of Culture, then I'm glad I'm not refined!
Let me laugh at you, then you can laugh at me; Then we'll josh together everything we see; Every one's a nincompoop to another's view; Laughter makes the sun shine! Roop-de-doodle-doo!