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September 14, 1927
The Book Table
Edited by EDMUND PEARSON
“ All Right for a Visit, Maybe.”
HEN I came into my office that morning, a woman and a boy were already there. The woman was determined and irritated. The boy was merely sleepy; he was about ten years old. It soon appeared that she had not come to see me, but the man who shared my office. She was a distant relative, or a friend of the family, and this was her first sight of New York and of the Atlantic coast. Her method of getting her first impression of America's largest city was as follows: She had driven her car all night, and arrived on Manhattan Island at 3:30 A.M., Eastern Standard Time. This was half an hour before dawn, and, as the month was June, it might have been a very good way to get a first impression and to see a wonderful sight-the skyscrapers of New York in the early morning twilight, not less wonderful and hardly less beautiful than that other great spectacle, "While Ilion like a mist rose into towers."
But she had not come to see beauty, nor anything good nor true. She had come from a land of virtue, or so she said, and she had only scornful eyes for Sodom and Gomorrah. This was the home of all that was wicked in American life, and the vials of her wrath were full. Without any breakfast, and therefore in no amiable mood, she had driven her car up and down the lonely streets for an hour or two, disapproving everything she saw. At about six o'clock she came to the building where my office-mate and I work, and sat on the front steps for three mortal hours, fuming at the lazy New Yorkers. When the doors were opened at last, she came inside in a high, old temper. While she waited for her kinsman she let me know her ideas about New York.
Was this her first visit? I asked it in a painfully cheerful manner that is often mine in the morning. Yes, it was, thank God, and it would be her last. That very night she would shake the dust off her Buick, and set out again, like great Orion, sloping slowly to the West. But 2 week, and she would be once more in the own land of the Almighty; in the wide open spaces; out where the handclasp is a little warmer, where goodness abounds. I asked her, by the way, if she were aware that the author of "Out Where the West Begins" now lives in
New York. She replied shortly that she was not, and that he did not come from the right part of the West, anyhow. She would not allow New York even as much as would the original author of the ancient saying that it is "All right for a short visit, maybe, but I wouldn't live there-no, no, not if they'd give me the place!"
I could not offer to give her the place, but to keep her mind off her sufferings and to give her the benefit of a warning I related a little story from my own experience. A dozen or fourteen years before some one had suggested that I ought to come to New York to work, and I had made the usual reply by asking what would compensate me for the agony of living in New York. I made a meal of my own words with unusual promptness, for within a fortnight I had agreed to come, and since then had spent nine or ten years living, not in the country round about, but on the actual and wicked island of Manhattan itself. Now, so lost was I to righteousness, as it is understood elsewhere, that nothing could induce me to move. This made no impression. I could see that in her own mind was the thought that it was only natural to find the infernal regions inhabited by fallen angels.
The metropolis is ever in disrepute. Probably the country folk outside Babylon plumed themselves on their good sense and good conduct for not living in the city. There is a tale of two old bourgeois gentlemen in a village in southern France who, fifty years earlier, had spent four days in Paris. To the end of their lives their fellow-villagers looked upon them as delightfully wicked, but hopelessly corrupt. Any opinion advanced by either of them met the reply, "Oh, you old rogue-you have been in Paris!" Doubtless there are places in New York where one can spend money fairly foolishly; pay fifty dollars, as once was said, for the privilege of eating bad food and having somebody hit you over the head with a wooden clitter-clatter. Doubtless, also, these places derive their most enthusiastic support from centers of virtue farther west or east or south.
One of the foci of lunacy in New York is Greenwich Village, and its most idiotic manifestations are kept up by and for outsiders. The Village is also a place where many people can and do live sim
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ply, quietly, and happily. Frigidity of the heart is frequently attributed to New Yorkers. Why, you don't even know your next-door neighbor, says the shocked and motherly soul. The New Yorker is placid about this; he knows the wisdom of picking his own friends and acquaintances, instead of having them thrust upon him by accidents of neighborhood.
To the dweller in any great city it is a commonplace that he may live in seclusion if he likes and be much less the goldfish in the bowl than is the inhabitant of the small town. The fiction of the wild riot of city life still persists. A
CAPTAIN CAVALIER. By Jackson Gregory. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. $2. In the days when the Spanish still flourished in Lower California there were outand-out pirates at sea. One shipwrecked crew with a captain who could be masterful over brutes and chivalrous to fair ladies furnishes the romance and peril for this somewhat high-colored tale.
IN THE PATH OF THE STORM. By James R. Franklin. E. P. Dutton & Co., New York. $2.50.
A study of the still primitive mountain life to be found in far-back "coves" of the Virginian Alleghanies. Thoroughly striking and convincing is the character of Lebedy, an ancient and queer but truehearted woman of the hills, and in a less degree that of her vicious and murderous moonshiner husband, Achilles-pronounced, Mr. Franklin tells us, Atch-i-lees. Generally speaking, the local color and character rendering are good, but the plot is melodramatic to a degree.
THE SON OF THE GRAND EUNUCH. By Charles Pettit. Boni & Liveright, New York. $3.
A novel of China about thirty years ago. Court customs are explained and satirized,
year ago a dozen men came to New York, one night, to take dinner with some former fellow-townsmen. They were all natives of a small city three hundred miles away. By eleven o'clock the party had diminished in number by at least half, as the thought of business. next day or mere physical weariness sent one after another off to bed. But five or six resolute spirits remained. They were determined to see something of this night life about which so much is said and written. They wished to go to the Midnight Follies, and they appealed to the two New Yorkers for guidance. These two were sure it could be ar
and a humorous effect is extracted-not without agony-by the familiar Cabell method of hovering on the brink of the naughty. The publishers compare it with "Candide" and with the works of Pierre Louys and Anatole France. It does recall those writers, particularly Anatole France, and makes us realize how well he could do this kind of thing.
By Bohun Lynch. Little, Brown & Co., Boston. $2.50. "Respectability," as a novel by an artist, brings to mind that theme of Havelock Ellis's once developed (with variations) by Carl Van Vechten. "It is hard indeed to think of any artist in design who has been a bad writer. The painter may never write, but when he writes, it would almost seem without an effort, he writes well." There is no doubt that Mr. Lynch writes well, fluently even. He knows how to construct a novel, to balance a sympathetic character against a sanctimonious or hypocritical one, to study various periods and levels of English society. The novel has every virtue except that of being interesting. "Respectability" is more than respectably dull. That this defect is chiefly
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ranged, and they would be glad to lead the expedition. They seemed a little foggy about it, however a fact which the visitors remarked upon. But they would soon set that right, and one of them strolled over and asked the doorman of the club where he could get tickets for the Midnight Follies. The doorman's smile was full of pity, as he looked at this New Yorker.
"Why, there haven't been any Midnight Follies, sir, for over two years."
That was New York, and that was as much New York as the hullabaloo emanating at that moment from the throats of gentlemen from Detroit, Boisé, and Spokane enjoying themselves at Texas Guinan's. Mr. Morris Markey's "That's New York" is an able transcript of many phases of the city's life. There are gunmen in it, and there is the Black Bottom. And there is also the Rev. John Roach Straton and his Child Evangelist, Uldine Utley. There are trials and prize-fights, and there are notable bequests and acts of philanthropy. Mr. Markey writes well; his essays about the city are sophisticated, but not bitter or cynical. Perhaps nothing in it is a more truthful representation of New York than Mr. Bull's drawing, reproduced on this page. For if there are big brutal motor cars, and traffic jams, and heavyfooted cops in New York, so also there is domestic life, calm and rather triumphant. And for it the rest of the noisiness often ceases as it does for Mother and little Cyril and little Gertrude in Mr. Bull's picture.
1 That's New York! By Morris Markey and Johan Bull. Macy-Masius, New York. $2.
attributable to a wrong choice of subject is suggested by the genuinely entertaining chapter which describes the portrait exhibition held by St. John Orgrave.
SLAG. By John McIntyre.
Sons, New York. $2.
Slag is the refuse of the melting-pot. Mr. McIntyre's strong, swift, and tragic story is of a group of characters, evil or pitiable, who are part of the human slag of a great city. It deals with these forlorn and fated people as starkly as do the much-praised Russian realists with the dregs of their Russian villages and towns, and it is, for most Americans, better and more wholesome reading. Its artistry is not diluted by translation, and one does not become uselessly miserable over types and conditions difficult wholly to understand. There is no drag in the telling, no fog of futility in which the writer seems to grope. The tragedy is clear-cut and meaningful, such a thing as happens often in our own imperfectly civilized civilization among our recently transplanted alien folk, bad or good. Poor Cochack, with his twisted ideals and his adored and oddly companioned twin champions of the poor, St. Francis and
September 14, 1927
Lenine, has the stuff of heroes and martyrs in him; yet he dies, quite necessarily, at the hands of the police. The other characters are few and mostly of the underworld or its borderland. Minnie, who loves the burglar Grolach, and her distress when she fails to profit by his instructions in shoplifting through fright and self-consciousness, are excellent; her self-reproach is scarcely distinguishable from a troubled conscience. Not a cheerful book, but an able one.
A HISTORY OF AMERICAN FOREIGN RELATIONS. By Louis Martin Sears, Professor of History in Purdue University. The Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York. $3.50. Professor Sears has performed an important service in writing this comprehensive survey of the relation of America to foreign nations from the colonial period down to date. He finds that "American History as a whole shows for a democracy a surprising continuity of foreign policy, the main threads thereof surviving alternations of political party." Henry Clay, rather than Madison, is credited with fathering the War of 1812, while the author finds that, on the whole, Jefferson's peace policy reflected the desires of the people. With the Hartford Convention plotting secession, "peace at any price" became almost imperative in 1814. Thanks to able handling by American commissions, the conclusion reached was creditable.
Professor Sears gives much attention to the Monroe Doctrine, one of our continuing policies. Its formulation has stood, though often it has failed to earn the respect of those South American republics it was designed to protect. This began under John Quincy Adams, and remains an inherent weakness in the forcefulness of the Doctrine as such.
How nearly Confederate diplomacy came to accomplishing much during the war between the States forms an interesting chapter. Pressed by Napoleon and annoyed by Secretary Seward, England was often near the edge of recognizing the Confederacy, the consequences of which would have been hard to surmise-certainly they would have been highly unfavorable to the North. That the Union was saved, the author holds, was due "no less to diplomats than generals."
Professor Sears shows that our representatives in the foreign field, both in the State Department and in the chancelleries abroad, have been distinguished. Perhaps because of partisanship, this fact has been too often overlooked by the critical. We have never blundered ourselves into difficulties, nor come out of a conflict poorer than when we entered it.
The story is well told. It is full of National assurance and marked instances of capability. Uncle, Sam cut his eye-teeth very early!
and pedantic ponderous Westernism leashed
In either case, the authors have made
A few years may see great changes in Albania. Various acquisitive eyes have long regarded it, and lately there have been newspaper reports of secret Italian fortifications going on at Finiq.
CHINA AND FOREIGN POWERS. An Historical
The author has put together clearly the full story of the Chinese foreign relations since modern trade began with the Orient. Trade, and trade alone, has been the thing of interest so far as England has been concerned. To promote and preserve this, much has been conceded and endured from the British view-point.
IMPORTANT TO SUBSCRIBERS When you notify The Outlook of a change in your address, both the old and the new address should be given. Kindly write, if possible, two weeks before the change is to take effect.
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an authority on international diseases, is proud of the fact that his upbringing was essentially republican and that his name occupied a place of honor on the Imperial proscription lists. So there is no empty "Peace for peace sake" blather in his remarks. He goes to the heart of the matter, insisting that relations between countries are something deeper than diplomacy may allow, not an affair to be regarded in terms of economic and financial struggle or national predominance, but rather in the same light as the personal contacts of man and man.
TANLEY HIGH, whose of personalities and events in the Chinese drama appears in this week's issue, has only recently returned from a trip to China which he made for the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is assistant secretary of that Board. He is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers, and has previously written for The Outlook. At one time he served on the editorial staff of the "Christian Science Monitor." Mr High is the author of several books, and is at present at work on another.
EPRESENTATIVE FREDERICK M. DAVENPORT'S
third and final article on the Honolulu Conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations is published in this issue.
IXON MERRITT, The Outlook's Washington Correspondent, contributes this week his impressions of a canoe trip which he took in northern Minnesota and Ontario. He was specially sent by The Outlook to investigate the possible results of a proposal to dam several of the lakes in that region.
Free for All
Religion for the New Generation
ANY years ago I was told of an old Greek adage. It was: "Handsome at twenty, strong at thirty, rich at forty, and wise at fifty." If life, our individual life, is to teach us anything, we must have attained something definite at fifty years of age. Reading Mr. Irving T. Bush's article in The Outlook on "A Business Man's View of Religion," I would say that now, at fifty-four years of age, a mother of grown children, and Sunday-school teacher of young children, I, like him, am deeply convinced by years of experience of a supreme spiritual Power we call God; and, to me, Christ is the divine fulfillment of that spiritual Power in man-the spiritual power of righteousness, truth, and loving-kindness. But what are we to teach the children? I have yet to see a curriculum of Sunday-school lessons I really approve of, and I have been teaching more or less for twenty-five years. I, too, have used the illustrations of radio, wireless, etc., as of our possible ignorance of psychic phenomena. I have simply stated that I know nothing of angels, and do not understand anything about the miracles, so will not discuss something I know nothing about; but about truth, righteousness, and loving-kindness as taught by the great prophets, and the experiences of the lives of the men and women of the Bible, and the fulfillment in the highest sense of what we call the divine spirit in the life of Christ-that I believe, and that I teach. My own life has given me a deep faith and conviction in prayer-prayer to make strong and true those things I believe to be right, and loving, and kind; to accept what I cannot alter or what has come to me through no fault of my own; and to find joy in living, and to give to others whatever happiness lies in my power. I teach the young children to pray to be truthful, to be honest and sincere, and to be kind. I emphasize fairness and honesty in work and play-never to cheat and to have courage always to speak the truth. This I feel I can do at fifty-four years of
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age, with a half-century of experience of life; but, if I had to take the Sundayschool lessons as given and teach them at twenty years of age, I could not teach at all.
September 14, 1927
By the Way
is now contended that the radio was invented by a homely prima donna.
MacTavish had deposited his savings, which amounted to $2,500, in a certain bank. A few weeks later he approached the cashier and demanded his money. He was asked if he did not want to leave a small balance, just to keep the account
"No," he persisted, "I want my money." So the cashier counted out the $2,500 and handed the bundle of notes to him.
With great deliberation he counted the money and handed it back.
"That's O. K.," he said; "I only wanted to see if it was all there."
0. O. McIntyre tells his readers of a bootleg speak-easy in New York City which has this sign on the wall: "Any one can become intoxicated but few can remain ladies and gentlemen." When a speakeasy attempts to give us lessons in etiquette, McIntyre observes, it is about time to quit drinking.
From the "Century:"
The superintendent passed the infant class just as they were all singing:
"I want to be an angel
And with the angels stand A crown upon my forehead, A harp within my hand."
"Beautiful," said the superintendent, deeply moved. "And does every little girl and boy here want to be an angel?"
On which one little girl said to all:
"I don't. I'd rather be a monkey and swing by my tail."
The United States Public Health Service has exploded the belief that drowning persons always rise three times before finally going down. The victim may come to the surface three or more times or may go down once and drown without rising again. Much depends on the amount of air in the Jungs and the clothing worn. Panicky struggling in the water gets the person all out of breath, and sinking is inevitable. By keeping one's lungs filled with air one can float on the surface of the water.
"Golf," says the New York "Sun," "is what letter-carrying, ditch-digging, and carpet-beating would be if those three tasks had to be performed on the same hot afternoon in short pants and colored socks by gouty-looking gentlemen who required a different implement for every mood."
From the Annapolis "Log:"
Little George, the garage mascot, was visiting his aunt. He found the cat in a sunny window, purring cheerfully. "Oh, auntie, come quick," said little George, "the cat has gone to sleep and left his engine running."
A Paris newspaper tells of a French marquis who died recently and in whose will this statement was found: "A 3-karat diamond is hidden in my second molar. Remove the tooth before burying me." The diamond was there. A tip for the owners of high-priced gems afraid of being robbed.
A German inventor has constructed a safe which will release the most deadly of poison gases when a drill penetrates it. This makes it yegg-proof, the inventor declares.
The famous "Child's" restaurants, having become well established on Fifth Avenue in New York City, now call their head waitresses "hostesses"!
A paint manufacturer recently received a request: "Gentlemen: Will you please send us some of your striped paint? We want just enough for one barber pole."
... SHARP curve ahead. . . darn that
as you go. . . .
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A traveler, stopping at a small Alabama Two Vacancies, European Travel School
town, asked the friendly old Negro taking
Bryant wrote "The Iniquity of Freedom." Milton's early life was about the time of the Civil War, and he wanted to come over to America and fight in the Civil War, but his ambition to be a poet prevented this. But still his writings express his feelings toward the slaves over here.
(Said of Chaucer): His literary style was His very good for his little education. English spelling was not of the best.
(Said of Boswell): A public nuisance and prier into other people's business.
The Normans conquered England about the time of the Trojan War.
"Although women are now wearing only about one-fifth of the clothes they wore ten years ago," observes the Sedgwick County "Sun," "hooks in the closets are just as scarce for husbands."
Hwfrst hdldschlxfrddnsk nwgdld prtfrm1g wd?
Taking one vowel, insert it as often as necessary between the above consonants, to make a complete sentence.
Answer next week.
Answer to last week's puzzle: "Spare," "parse," "reaps," "pears," "spear."
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