The Contributors' Club

THERE is a widely prevalent notion that the English government of Canada is managing the Indians by some superior system that should be speedily adopted by us as a certain remedy for the woes that beset us from this quarter.

Between the Canada Indians and our own, there is all the difference between wild and tame, besides the vast disparity of numbers. When the continent was first colonized by the French and English, two distinct lines of policy were observed in dealing with the Indians. The French colonists were more adaptable than the English, and less proud and exacting. They made but little show of taking hold of the country. They came as missionaries and traders, and gave their forts the appearance of temporary lodgments. They entered immediately upon trade in the principal article the Indians could offer in traffic, — furs and peltry. To profit by this article of trade, it was necessary to preserve the Indians in the country, with as little change of habits and pursuits as possible, and maintain at least the friendship of trade. Trading-posts were rapidly established, which became the points of contact between the colonists and Indians; and the settlements of Quebec and Montreal were scarcely begun before the whole extent of Canada was dotted with trading - posts, from Belle Isle to Lake Superior, where Frenchmen, attached to the posts as factors, clerks, laborers, and voyagers, lived from year to year. These posts became the homes of the Indians and traders, and points of settlement, where a semi-civilization was established; and the French mind, led by the zealous missionaries who always accompanied the traders, molded the civilization and religion after the French idea. The short term of a generation sufficed to establish a race of half-breeds, of no mean proportion to the native population, born to the use of a common language and common faith with the colonists, and trained to a civilization advanced to the requirements of their condition, who naturally yielded fealty to the colony and loyalty to France. They were adapted to the country as it was, and did not require it to be changed for their accommodation; while they constituted a link between the new and old races, and a natural bond of peace. This too was an open and safe field for missionary operations, where the everzealous Jesuits did not fail to sow seed that has taken deep root and spread far beyond this race.

For two centuries and a quarter, these half-breeds have stood between the Indians proper and the government of Canada as a pledge of peace, a ready means of intercourse, and in every way a political convenience. This has served to enlighten the Indians and keep them in relation to the civilized world. This instrumentality, which was fortunately transferred to the English with the possession of Canada, alone would account for much of the great difference between the Indian relations of the United States and Canada. It is true that the French had wars with the Indians; but it was with tribes south of the St. Lawrence, and that for a comparatively short period.

When the English took Canada, they took it as a whole, — population, laws, religion, commerce, Indian relations, and all. Chiefly, they got the good-will of the Indians in this transfer, of which they availed themselves in the war of the Revolution, immediately afterwards. We, on the other hand, took all the old English quarrels and ill-will of the Indians off their hands, with the enmity towards us which had grown up under the French regime added. We had entailed upon us the pernicious system of treaties with tribes as independent nations, buying sovereignty of them, and paying them annuities, and otherwise preserving to them their power for mischief.

Whatever there was of system in the English dealings with the Indians, we continued under the disadvantage of comparison with the French system and with French facilities, as practiced in Canada. In addition to this, we had the most numerous and by far the most warlike and self-reliant tribes to deal with, spread over a vast territory of mild climate; a people with whom we were strangers, perfectly independent of us, wild and untamed heathens; not. the mere trappers of musk-rats and beavers, but the bold and fierce hunters of the buffalo, whose very means of livelihood was the plunder of the slain in battle; men unused to defeats, and accustomed unrelentingly to kill and destroy. On the Canada side of the line, the Indians were the gentle and quiet savages of a cold climate and fish diet, shading off in their manners to the mild Esquimaux, and every one of them in some degree christianized, or influenced by his halfbreed cousins, and trained to friendly intercourse with white men. Canada has been free from border wars during nearly all her existence, while we have had a continued fight of two hundred years, the intervals of peace being mostly cash purchases.

Another agency in facilitating the management of the Indians in Canada has been the Hudson Bay Company and its connected Red River settlements and trading-posts, stretching from Upper Canada to the Pacific, where another set of half-breeds has been added to the French. The intercourse of the Indians with this company and its agents gave them a knowledge of the white people, their ways of trade, etc., so that they were prepared to deal understandingly in making treaties or bargains. Then all the Indians of the dominion of Canada have been in connected intercourse with white traders, to whom they have sold the produce of their hunting and trapping in the most commonplace manner. Under the leveling influence of trade, each race has been interested in peace, and naturally endeavored to preserve it. The reduction of the Indians of all the older provinces to civilization has uniformly succeeded a long acquaintance with the whites in trade.

It is noteworthy that the whole number of Indians in the Dominion does not reach one hundred thousand, and one

third of these are in the old provinces and civilized, and practically take part with the other subjects. An official estimate published in 1874 puts down the Indian population as follows: —



Nova Scotia,

New Brunswick,

Prince Edward’s Island, British Columbia,

Manitoba and Northwest, Sioux in Manitoba,

Rupert’s Laud,

Prom Peace River to United States Boundary,





302 = 29,826





10,000 = 62,084

Total, 91,910

Practically, then, there are but sixty-two thousand Indians to be managed, — those of the older provinces retaining but the mere remnant of their former status, in the shape of some annuities of blankets, clothing, and the like, where the home government has not discovered (as with the Huron tribe at Lorette) that they have all turned to white people.

The Indian policy of the Canadians, per se, may be said to be like ours,— adjustable to the circumstances, and varied as the case may require. They have made treaties with the different tribes for the cession of their lands, and in return have given them presents and annuities, in money and kind, and have furnished clothing and provisions in exceptional emergencies. Efforts have been made to induce them to settle upon reservations and adopt farming and grazing as a means of support; but particularly it has been tried to induce the heads of families to accept allotments of land for homesteads, as the most desirable condition for them, but this arrangement they are slow to come into. There has been no settled and unvarying system observed. The ultimate purpose of placing all subjects upon the same footing, and governing them as the white subjects, has been kept in view, and every individual has been regarded as a British subject; but in obedience to circumstances these rules have been relaxed, and the tribal organization — the imperium in imperio — has been recognized in treaties and negotiations from the necessity of the case. But the design is to obliterate the tribal condition as soon as possible, and recognize no authority but that of the Dominion and the sovereign power of her majesty, to which obedience is required of every inhabitant. Ultimately it is the purpose to endow them with the franchises of citizens; and schools are maintained, and religious teachers assisted to prepare them. A leading feature of this policy has been to encourage the Indians to work, either for themselves or others, and to induce them to enter the service of the settlers as laborers, hunters, guides, carriers, etc., for wages; and this has been found to operate well for both parties, the Indians being ready to work for wages, although indisposed to labor for themselves.

Judging from the official reports of those charged with the management of the Indian affairs of the Dominion, they have not been without their troubles, and have encountered most of the difficulties that beset our agents in this department, except that they have fewer Indians to deal with, and have had them in peaceful relations with the frontier, in which they have untold advantage over us. At present they maintain an armed force between the border and the Rocky Mountains; but it is a mounted police to govern the Indians, and not an army to protect the frontier. They are taking charge of the government of all the Indians, to govern them as they govern the whites, according to law. They interpose the authority of the state to keep the peace, regardless of chiefs or tribes, and teach the Indians to respect it as supreme. Instead of an army of occupation, which involves a state of war with the savages, as we actually have, the Canadians give their armed force the character of a constabulary, which presupposes peace and authority. So that instead of fighting the Indians, they are ruling them, sometimes with the sword of justice, but always ruling. The amount of this force is small, and if serious resistance were offered might be insufficient; but it is in the right direction, and in ordinary times is enough.

There is a prevailing impression that our government is greatly at fault in dealing with the Indians; and the fact that the Canadians have so little trouble with them has led many to suppose that they had some sovereign method in their hands that we should hasten to adopt.

The truth is that the English are reaping where the French sowed good seed on moderately good ground, while we are reaping where the English sowed dragon’s teeth on wild soil. It is impossible to obtain any correct view, comparatively, of the Indian policy of Canada and the United States, unless we keep in sight the vast difference in the two kinds of Indians to be dealt with. The practice is much the same on both sides. The verbiage of their formal intercourse is of the same style as ours, with the same old “blather” about Great Father and Red Children, speaking with a straight or crooked tongue, etc., gravely diplomatic on the white side and suspiciously cautious on the red. But, as above remarked, one treats with a people tame, practical, and at peace ; the other has to deal with numerous tribes of fierce, impracticable, and independent savages, at war, and inspired by the spirit of recent battles. We cannot adopt the policy of Canada, even if it were perfect, — which it is not, — as it will not apply; though if we had the same material to deal with, our policy would shape itself into the same direction as theirs. The rough work of intercourse with the Indians has been gone through with in Canada; and they begin at a point of progress that is not in sight to us. Our Indians are natural warriors; they live by plunder alone; it is the employment of their lives to rob and subsist upon plunder, and it is indifferent to them whether their prey be a herd of buffalo or an emigrant train. Before we can manage them, their tribal organizations must be broken up, their habits of life changed, they must be dismounted irom their horses and taught the gentler pursuits of herdsmen, and led into occupations that will sustain them and remove their present inducements to rob and plunder; they must learn to depend upon honest industry and honest traffic before we reach the point where the Canadians have their Indians. The reports on Indian affairs and connected statistics of Canada do not throw any great light upon this subject. They are remarkably similar to ours with friendly Indians.

— Have all the clever writers of the day entered into a deep and dark conspiracy to write nothing pleasant forevermore? I had occasion, the other day, to enter my angry protest against the way in which Mr. William Black wields the exterminating butcher knife among the personages of Madcap Violet, and now I come back again with tenfold provocation from the reading of Mr. Alphonse Daudet’s Nabob. This is the worst case thus far reported of absolute brutality towards characters and readers. I suppose the same author’s Jack was equally cruel (I did not finish that dismal story, because I lost my temper halfway through the first volume, seeing how the writer was making ready to kick and cuff his poor little hero, through a succession of revolting scenes, to a miserable death, — as cowardly a performance, to my thinking, as a man of letters can be guilty of), but it is not so utterly vile in its cynical destructiveness. This Nabob is a merchant from the south of France, who has made a vast fortune in Tunis, and comes to Paris to enjoy it, and is made the centre of an immense combination of hates and intrigues, supernatural in power and malignity, to which he succumbs, losing some hundreds of millions in a single season, and his life, his character, and various other things besides. The Nabob is good-hearted, honest, — as men go,—confiding, and noble; these seem the only reasons Mr. Daudet has for resolving on his disgrace and ruin. Every good quality the man possesses is made to do service against him; his love for his mother, in the very crisis of his fate, is made to reinforce the malice of his enemies to destroy him. Every knave in Paris who wants a hundred thousand or so gets it out of the Nabob. Ilis wife goes away with a servant. Ilis secretary, a young fellow of extraordinary capacity and integrity, makes desperate efforts in his behalf which do no good whatever. In fact, all possible exertions — and this we are made to feel — are impotent from the start against Mr. Daudet’s inflexible will to kill and disgrace his hero. The hero, however, does not monopolize the author’s malice. He spends a liberal allowance of fury upon his subordinate characters. Ilis leading lady, a young sculptress of divine genius and beauty, takes to prostitution, for no conceivable reason. The lady next in station is discovered not to be the wife of her husband. Bankruptcy and suicide are the ends vouchsafed to the minor personages.

In all this there is nothing tragic. There is nothing of that marvelous pessimism of Tonrguéneff which evolves from given characters a melancholy end, which you may regret as much as you like, but which you cannot, for the life of you, alter. Neither is there in Daudet’s work anything of that conflict of character and circumstances which brings The American of Mr. James to such a perfect and saddening close. My quarrel with Daudet is that he uses great powers for the mere purpose of making useless pain. Again and again, during the book, he carefully prepares, in the most artistic manner, a way by which the Nabob can escape from the savage pursuit of his enemies, and then suddenly closes it by some ingenious incident having nothing to do with the necessities of the personage in question. Over and over the Nabob does all that any man could do to save himself; but he is given no more chance than a bull in the ring. At the last moment his secretary arrives from Tunis with ten millions in his pocket, — enough to rescue everything, — and the Nabob embraces him and dies of apoplexy, leaving his fortune the prey of thieves, his name unjustly dishonored, his children in the charge of imbeciles and adulterers. This is the bitter and nauseous farewell of the cup which Mr. Daudet has prepared for his readers.

All this would not be worth mentioning if Mr. Daudet were a mere storyteller like De Kock or Iloussaye. But the truth is he is a writer of singular elegance and power, sure of a large audience whenever he has anything to say, and gifted with the power of so impressing his readers with the reality of what he is describing, that you come away from reading his books with a disagreeable sense of having been in actual contact with persons and events which are absolutely revolting. He aims to be a moralist and utterly fails, for exasperation against the preacher is not a means of grace.

— The question of hell has been handled this winter in a way never heard of before. It arose, I suppose, in Indian Orchard; but the reluctance of a knot of Congregational ministers to ordain a young preacher who lacked full faith in eternal torment could hardly, it seems to me, have gone beyond a local ripple, had not the press proceeded to take up and discuss the verity of hell as a topic of the day. One would say that this theme suffers ebbs and flows of public interest; that it comes on in force at epochs, like the seventeen-year locusts, and then drops into a round of obscurity. I remember reading, a few years ago, that the Scotch Presbyterians had just been debating whether the devil could be saved, some holding that he could, and others denouncing that view as a peculiarly subtle and perilous form of skepticism.

When our American press took up the topic of the quenchless, fiery lake, the pulpit quickly followed; for the press, in treating hell as a social rather than an exegetical question, had left much to be said. I think we can understand why a clergyman might well dislike to be dumb on this theme, when his parishioners were drawing notions of it from the lay-preacher that brings his sermons to the breakfast-table. At all events, Sunday after Sunday, the fate of the impenitent engrossed twenty different pulpits at once, in and around New York, till all had spoken who chose to speak. On Monday mornings, while the sensation lasted, the press took special pains to report sermons on hell; and since any preacher might find his own in type, he was presumably anxious to say something worth reading; so that, thanks to the newspapers, there came to be uttered and printed many frank opinions, delivered in intelligible English.

A few of the preachers, however, complained that the press, in discussing everlasting punishment, was poaching on the pulpit’s preserve. But how can the press avoid that encroachment? It may well say with old Chromes, in the play, humani nihil a me alienum, — a scope that carries it across the bounds of theology, as of medicine, law, and arms. What it might do well to take into those domains is a somewhat greater respect for the authorities there, and a less cavalier treatment of them. It is true that as the pulpit gains lustre from its ornaments, so it must bear the shame of its rare scapegraces; but when the press, under the heading “ Another Clerical Swindler,” describes a scamp who was no clergyman at all, it might as well style the wolf in sheep’s wool a wolfish sheep. The pulpit is naturally indignant whenever it finds an instance of the press scoffing at clergymen as a class, and chuckling over frauds of communicants; but sometimes it is itself a little at fault in resenting the intrusion of newspapers into public topics where there can be no monopoly. The daily press, I should say, would go beyond its depth in giving decisions upon effectual calling and justification by faith; but it is plainly entitled to make known its opinions on Sunday amusements, the exemption of church property from taxes, the reading of the Bible in the schools, the acknowledgment of God in the federal constitution, and, in a word, whatever touches at once church and state. The preacher who censures the press for holding anti-clerical views upon these topics seems to be as arrogant as the editor who rebukes the pulpit for aiming its guns at wrongs of the hour instead of firing blank cartridges down the crypts of Hebrew history at the Girgashites and Hivites whom Joshua sufficiently smote. The press is in some respects of enormous value to the pulpit. The preacher addresses today a thousand hearers; the reporter will to-morrow give him an audience of a hundred thousand. The types echo Spurgeon’s words out of the Tabernacle all over the world. Every Monday in the year this myriad-armed Ægreon of ours sows broadcast the pulpit wisdom of Sunday. No doubt the seed, strewn where it is, risks choking by thorns — the things of good report by the many of ill report; still, the pulpit must, I think, fully appreciate the fact that the press carries the preacher’s homily, in some fashion, to congregations he could never otherwise reach.

— Though from the days of Horace to our own the flames of senile lovers have been held fair themes for jest, yet it seems to me that the hounding of Mr. Lord and Mrs. Hicks through their honey-moon by the beagles of the press was rather an excess of inquisitive zeal. Reporters dogged the doors of bride and groom like detectives; rang up Mrs. Hicks’s housemaid at midnight to learn if her mistress had come home; worried family history out of the butler; confabulated with the corner grocer; interviewed the neighboring apothecary; lay in wait for the post-man; cross-questioned the cook’s cousins in the area; and when keyholes and back fences had failed to yield up the matrimonial mystery, or even to explain the solitary gaslight in Mrs. Hicks’s boudoir, after all, the knights of the note-book were driven to embroider and to romance. It was certainly odd to see a private marriage of this sort becoming the chief newspaper sensation of a great city during many days, and prolonged in a less conspicuous way for weeks afterwards. Surely the difference in age of the pair (thirty years, — not “ half a century,” as some commentators put it) was nothing extraordinary; nor is it uncommon for an old millionaire to marry a woman who is millionaire only in style and beauty. It is a fair question whether the goods which each brought to the altar were not tolerably well balanced. The marriage, to be sure, was secret, and this secrecy was, if you please, suspicious, but it seems to be the sort of suspicion for household rather than public investigation. Yet dispatches from distant cities have more than once told us that an old gentleman, escorting a lady, “ supposed to be Mr. Lord and Mrs. Hicks,” had just been seen at a certain hotel or on a certain railroad train,—precisely as if they were a pair of Charley Rosses whom everybody ought, if possible, to find and make a note of, or a brace of distinguished criminals whom the public ought to arrest.

Perhaps we are now to have a kind of panic among the kith and kin of rich old gentlemen, to prevent them from defrauding their dutiful heirs by plunging into matrimony. Indeed, has a man the moral right to disappoint his offspring by trying to begin life anew at a time when he is universally expected to end it? Ought he not to be restrained by law from marrying (save with the written consent of his heirs) under penalty of being put in a strait-jacket for the remnant of his life, and of having his estate administered as if he were already dead?

— Both Mr. Stedman and Mr. Fawcett have lately been making sturdy war on the confounding of prose with poetry. I should like to have either of them (or anybody else) kindly point out the dividing line. We are told that we must not say of a fine passage not printed with capitals on each line, “ This is poetry,” and why? “ For the despotic reason that it is prose.” That is not merely despotic; it is luminous. Again we are told that the distinction lies here: “ Poetry is beautiful thought expressed in musical words.” But with all due respect to the author of Pan in Wall Street and John Brown, I submit that this definition includes much of Gibbon and Macaulay, of Addison and Irving, of Thackeray and Henry James; even of Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin. Mr. Stedman’s dictionary seems somehow to be at war with his precepts.

In view of Paradise Lost, or even of Ulysses, Hiawatha, and Evangeline, we can hardly insist on rhyme as a distinguishing mark of poetry. What then? Shall we require conformity to one kind of rhythm? Our best poets vary continually, and are praised for doing so.

Swinburne writes, —

“ Who can contend with his lords,
Or cross them or do them wrong ?
Who can bind them as with cords?
Who can tame them as with song?
Who can smite them as with swords ?
For the hands of their kingdom are strong.”

Compare the first, second, and sixth verses with the remaining three. Is the transition less abrupt than in the following extract from Hawthorne? —

“ Romance and poetry,
Ivy lichens and wall-flowers,
Need ruins to make them grow.”

So it seems that Hawthorne becomes poetry when you chop him into small lines and capitalize each of them. When you don’t, he is prose. It is well to have a clear understanding of these things.

On the whole, I am of the opinion that Mr. Stedman’s definition is right and his precepts are wrong. I maintain that a musical passage embodying a beautiful or grand thought is poetry wherever you find it; and that only the absence of the music or the beauty and grandeur can rightly bar that title. The real distinction is between prose and verse; and that is chiefly formal and conventional. Mr. Walt Whitman has shown how invisible even this boundary sometimes becomes. But either of these forms of expression may embody poetry or not. Its true antitheses are, not prose, but dullness and commonplace.

— Many persons are afraid to countenance the spelling reform lest the history of the derivation of our words be forever lost, and not a few shudder at the thought of changing the orthographic dress in which they have been accustomed to read Paradise Lost and the Bible. Let us examine each phase of the difficulty. It can be shown, in the first place, that the present spelling, in many instances, does not indicate the correct derivation. “ Sovereign,” forexample, has no connection with the verb to reign, and would better show its derivation and meaning if spelt as Milton spelt it, “ sovran,” for it is allied to the Italian sovrano. Island retains the s because of an imagined connection with the Latin insula, whereas it is really derived from the Old English ea, water, and land, land. Here is a list of English words from words in French containing the vowels ou: Soup, tour, French spelling and pronunciation; journal, couple, French spelling and English pronunciation; poultry, court, same spelling, but a still different pronunciation; prove, move, French pronunciation, but a different spelling; govern, cover, the spelling and pronunciation changed; nurse, gullet, cutlass, spelling changed to correspond with the changed sound; sloop, poop, troop, French pronunciation indicated by English spelling. It is plain enough that these six variations were not brought into our orthography by any methodical procedure but “ growd,” with no more care than Topsy had. On this point Professor Max Müller, of Oxford, says: “ If our spelling followed the pronunciation of words, it would in reality be a greater help to the critical student of language than the present uncertain and unscientific mode of writing.”

As for the Bible and standard authors, we must not suppose for an instant that our enterprising printers present them to us now in the original spelling. No; they have changed all that. The spelling of our fathers passed out of their books long before their dollar burnt its way through our pockets. Here are some specimens: —

Shakespeare, 1623 : Tuch, neece, yeeld, beleeve, brest, thred, lims, hart = heart, ake, breth, peeces, simpathy, Wensday, doo, tel, els, greefe, releevc, shoo, cheef, feend, frend, gon, sute, wher, hony, cosin, spred, kild, dore, wil, sent — scent.

Milton, 1644: Parlament (why not, more correctly, parlement?), usurpt, privat, pretens, traind, senat, don, punislit, cours, palat, formost, ript, beleeve, fantasm, foreine, suttle = subtle, survay, tolerat, dasht, lerning, wors, brest, neer, peeee, dore, iland.

Bible, 1611: Bel, hel, sayd, sicke, dayes, bridegrome, bottels, olde, breake, beleeue, countrey, deuill, deuil, foorth, barse, scrippe, confesse, shalbe, shal, cloathing, untill, bene, heauie, heavy, prophane, voyce, euil, euill, wisedome, wil, emptie, doe = do, sixtie, fift = fifth, sixt = sixth, deepenesse, bin = been, marchant, dauneed, boysterous, avondred, commaunded, skie, cies, uerily, nerely, commeth, sorie, peny, penie, figge, stanes, darkned, farre, shooes, honie, hony, stoupe, immediatly, maried, oyle, yeeres, sowen=sown, grone=groan, unknowen, setled, powred = poured, battell, fourty, twise.

All of this shows that in the days that Shakespeare and Milton wrote, and the translators of King James worked, orthography had not attained its present position among the false gods of Englishspeaking peoples; and that in those primitive and unscientific days philology was not made easy at the expense of spelling.

In fact the almost senseless variations of spelling indulged in by early authors, and the absurd orthography to which we now cling with a ridiculous tenacity, almost inevitably breed a disgust for conventional correctness in all who look into the subject with care.

— In traveling through some border counties of Canada, now and again one finds himself in a community which, to judge from its local names, might have floated over from the United States and dropped down there in bulk. In Waterloo County, for example, you find a set of surnames precisely the same as those common in Lancaster and Montgomery counties, Pennsylvania. Of course such a name as Martin, quite familiar both in the States and the Dominion, would teach nothing; but when, in Waterloo County, are thickly strewn and intermixed such rural East Pennsylvania names as Brubaker, Graybill, Hersher, Landis, Richwine, Buckwater, and so on, these are too odd not to strike the visitor who has seen them grouped in the same way in Pennsylvania townships. What is the key to this riddle, so obviously no affair of chance coincidence ? It is, I am told, that ninety odd years ago, when independence had been won, and the country made hot for Tories, a number of Loyalist families migrated from Lancaster and Montgomery counties, in Pennsylvania, across the Canadian line, where they could be at rest on loyal soil, and bear allegiance to King George. Possibly a few other families, patriot in politics, but bound by ties of kin to the Tory exiles, may have gone into banishment with them. At all events, these settlements kept so well their old character that now not only might the summer tourist almost fancy from their shop signs and from the county maps spread on tavern walls that he was in the heart of Eastern Pennsylvania, but he may even hear the old Pennsylvania Dutch, a tongue unmistakable, among some of the descendants of those colonies.

— In the new and often laudable and quite successful efforts to improve our civic and domestic architecture, it is interesting to observe that the importance of glazed tiles for decorative purposes is beginning to be understood. Properly managed they add a delicate beauty and richness to brick or stone, laid in string courses or otherwise. They soften the somewhat foxy tone of red brick when they are of cooler tints, and they harmonize well with freestone. But their full capacity for ornamentation does not seem yet to be reached, at least in this country, for the color of which they are invariably made, so far as my observation extends, is blue. Why would not warmer tints also be sometimes effective, inlaid on masonry that is composed of the more sober grays? Might not even the stern aspect and coarser grain of granite be mellowed by a judicious use of azulejos, as the Portuguese call them? Might not brick be softened by more tender reds or browns blended with it, or warm grays? But the fault to which much of this form of ceramic art is liable is that of non-adaptation, not so much as to color as in regard to the designs upon these tiles. They are often pretty and tasteful when seen near the ground, but as soon as they get a little distance from the eye lose all their distinctive character. Now, what is the use of designing a tile pattern that looks well when within a dozen feet from the eye, as if it were intended for a fire-place, when it is to be fixed near the eaves of a building, sixty or seventy feet from the ground ? Is not this flying in the face of the very first principle of architectural and decorative art? The remedy naturally lies in more breadth of design and simply returning to first principles.

— A German friend recently told me of an amusing incident which he witnessed in the theatre at Augsburg many years ago. The play was Moliere’s Miser, and my friend had a seat at the side of the house, where he could see behind the right wings. It was toward the end of the play, where a long, pathetic, and rather tiresome dialogue takes place, and several of the characters have to stand round with nothing to occupy them except some trifling incidental “business.” Two lighted candles are on the table, and Harpagon, the miser, true to his character, extinguishes one of them. The servant relights it. Harpagon soon notices the candle burning again, extinguishes it a second time, and puts it in the pocket of his long, flowing coat. At this point several actors who are lounging at the wings beckon to their colleague who is impersonating the servant. He joins them; they whisper together for a minute, and then the servant steps up behind Harpagon and lights the candle, which projects from his pocket several inches. This calls forth a general tittering from the audience, and Harpagon, perceiving that he seems to be the object of mirth, unsuspectingly reaches his hand towards his pocket, the public gaze being centred there. Encountering the burning candle he gives a quick yell of painful surprise, at the same time jumping a yard or so. This naturally brought down the house, the audience taking it all as a piece of excellent acting, instead of the successful practical joke which it was.

—Will not the writer of the warning against the new cheap “ libraries,” which was printed in the November Club, give us his opinion of the more “respectable” poachers on English lit erary preserves, and tell us wherein, except in extent, the two classes of offenses differ? With some notable and honorable exceptions, what degree of justice can be claimed for the treatment which the English author receives at the hands of well-known American publishers? I am not able to learn with exactness what rates are paid to such authors, but, if we are to credit common rumor, the honorarium is out of all proportion, not only to the character of the audience and the quality of the work, but also to the number of volumes sold. I myself have heard of the advance sheets of a prominent English poet going begging in this country at half the price that would gladly have been paid to an American writer of equal audience, merely because of the uncertain tenure of the rights thus acquired. It has come to the point that no foreign author expects an equivalent for his work; he bows to the appreciative publisher, and dare not look at the amount of his check. To discriminate between such a purchase of literary work (convey, the wise it call!) and the unblushing appropriations of the libraries is but to decide between the methods of the extortioner and the highwayman.

Not a few who are interested in the future of American literature, as well as in honest dealing, are congratulating themselves that the success of the libraries is only another step toward the establishment of international copyright, which they are deluded enough to think will be a remedy not only for the wrongs I have referred to, but also for those inflicted by the libraries themselves. In the list of those thus wronged, as given by your contributor, are: (1.) the English author; (2) the American author; (3) the American publisher; and (4) the American reader, whose eyes are likely to be injured by the unleaded type. Of these four persons the third is the only one from which opposition to copyright was to be expected. May not the success of the cheap literature soon make it necessary for him to take the other side of the question in self-defense? Perhaps we may even hear of him trying to prove to the American paper-maker, the nation’s fondling,

“ for whom Morn well might break and April bloom,"—

that in the end even he will not be likely to lose by international copyright.

— Meditating, in the light of some new novels, upon what was said in the January Club about fiction and reality,

I have come to the conclusion that it would not be easy to get from a convention of fiction-writers any definition of “ realism ” which would prove satisfactory to more than one or two of the realists themselves. There is not only imparity but great disparity in their methods. Here are three books which I have just read, all claiming a certain authority by their near approach to the real: first, Daudet s Nabob (in the American translation 1) ; second, Marmorne,2 the latest No Name book; and third, a story of low life in New York, Bessie Harrington’s Venture, by Miss J. A. Matthews.3 M. Daudet being one of the leaders of a new school, the “impressionists,” we of course expect from him any amount of harsh imitation of the actual just as it stands; but in this book one finds an undisguised picture of an actual person of eminence, namely, the Due de Morny, to whom Daudet was for some time private secretary, and who is here presented as “ the chief functionary of the empire,”the Due de Mora. There is also a curious suggestion all along — perhaps partly arising from this obvious use of a deceased public man — of well-known persons in real life standing behind the men and women of the story: notably in the cases of Dr. Jenkins, “ the fashionable physician of the year 1864, of the sculptress Felicia Ruys, the Nabob himself, and Lemertpiier the clerical deputy. These are the principal persons, and there is a great difference between the way in which they are portrayed and the fainter outlining of characters like Papa Joyeuse (who is evidently a fancy-sketch) and André Mamorne, the young poet. If this impression does not mislead me, it follows that a good deal of Daudet’s forcibleness is due merely to description of people exactly as he has seen them. It is comparatively easy, if one has any gift at all, to be forcible in this direction, because the energy which would otherwise go into imagination is now reserved for simple recording. Daudet is evidently a thorough believer in Balzac, whose bronze bust, by the way, he introduces with masterly effect as looking satirically at two of the characters who have been to De Mora’s funeral at Pere la Chaise; but in reading the new novelist’s books I do not feel that I am in a complete ideal world, reproducing with wonderful magic the appearances of the actual world, as I do in reading Balzac. On the contrary, I feel as if Daudet had taken tracing-paper of huge size, and, applying it to the parts of life which he wishes to put together, had followed the lines of the object covered by his paper with a blunt pencil making a broad mark, but also with that want of free and controlled vigor which belongs to all tracings. Besides, I doubt it he is always true to life. Dickens and Thackeray both believed they were very realistic, yet many people find fault with the former as being a caricaturist, and with Thackeray for blotting out of his picture the high lights of beauty and happiness, and “ cynically " emphasizing the mean, the vulgar, and the bad, in a way that they claim makes it unreal. Daudet, likewise, may be complained of for willfully destroying and debasing people, and for heaping up desolate denouments to such an extent that one is reminded of a child, who, after drawing a picture, becomes dissatisfied with it, and defaces it by a violent obliterative scrawl. His books seem to me to end in a general scrawl of disgust at the wickedness and gloom he has been describing. It is just the same in this one, where the Nabob is made to die of a sudden revulsion of pleasure, just when his wrongs are on the eve of being wiped out by new successes. No, it is not true to life! Then, is it true to art? I am afraid it is not that, either. Daudet is really an artist, and shows it at intervals, as in the terrible scene where the state funeral of De Mora keeps crossing the path of his mistress, who is trying to escape from Paris. But he is an artist pursuing a mongrel method, misled by the idea of transferring reality into his pages by the cubic inch, just as in the old days of English law a man who sold real estate was obliged to give to the purchaser a turf from the land itself. In fact, I doubt if the Nabob would have died in this way, bearing in mind his tenacious animal nature; and M. Daudet’s elaborate realism, I find, makes me fastidious about anything that looks like improbability or incongruity. But simply as a question of art — for fiction admits of improbabilities— this ending strikes me as overcharged, reckless, and likely to miss its aim. What does Paris care for the accusation that it has been cruel and unjust to a Nabob, when he is dead? If he had lived to turn his enemies and parasitic friends into matter for ridicule, it would have felt the lesson much more keenly.

The author of Marmorne has quite another way of going to work. He informs you in the preface that he has known of an incident similar to that on which the story chiefly hinges, and adds that he has changed the scene and introduced circumstances to make the incident seem probable to the skeptical reader. This leaves the reader in the position which is most fitting for him, that of taking up the tale as a pure invention (founded, to be sure, on one particular fact), and then falling completely under the illusion produced by its graphic details and skillful art. Marmorne is a singular and absorbing story, told with great, although unobtrusive cleverness. In it, realism is brought to bear in what seems to me a legitimate, artistic way. It does not go so far as to attempt absolute deception, by means of using real characters, or by a statement at the end that, if you don’t believe it, all the author can say is, he knew the very people he has been writing about. But everything is clearly imagined and vividly set before you in terse, plain language that carries conviction. I admire Daudet, in the radical sense of that word, — the sense of wondering at, — and I think him more powerful than the unknown author of Marmorne; but it happens that Marmorne displays a much nicer sense of art.

As for the third book I have named, it tells how Bessie Harrington undertook to manage a class of wicked and lawless boys in the Five Points Mission House, or something of that sort, in New York; how she won over their ringleader by her gentleness; and he studied for the ministry, and went back to reclaim the people who remained in his former degraded condition, and became a benefactor to them. The conception is a good one, but it is amateurishly worked out: there is a great want of what may obscurely be described as literary anatomy in the characters. I merely mention it here because it marks one other phase of “ realism, ”—that in which the localities are real and the names of the people exceedingly probable in their commonness, and the characters ordinary and without individuality, so that they may be sure not to be accused of unreality. This is the timid and negative phase.

I have just thought of an objection that will be made to my contrast of The Nabob and Marmorne: it will be said that Marmorne is a story made only to excite and entertain, and that Daudet’s book has a great “ lesson ” to teach. But I think there is a delusion abroad about Daudet’s “lessons.” For him to claim to be a moralist seems to me about the same as for a man to point out to me a smoking ruin, with the words : “ Scene of the late accident. What a philosopher I am!” or for a newspaper writer to read me his summary of recent swindles, crimes, and infamies, and then say: “ Haven’t I described hideous things? That’s because I’m a great moralist.” To come back to my starting-point, I want to discover what is the relation between the different kinds of realism. What is realism itself? It is unphilosophie, nowadays, to do more than ask a question (in one form or another); so I wait for some one else to supply the definition.

— I have seen much discussion, recently, concerning Marianne, one of Tourgueneff’s heroines, and it has occurred to me that those who accuse her of free views concerning love and marriage have never pondered the fact that the great Russian novelist has rarely, if ever, endowed his young girls with what we should exact as a rigid standard of propriety for speech and action.

Tourgueneff has, no doubt, his own creed concerning women, and it must be confessed he finds his own views admirable for artistic purposes. No writer has, perhaps, more successfully delineated the single-hearted ardor, the glowing, intense, yet pure passion a girl may feel for her lover. His heroines are, to begin with, at variance with their surroundings; at strife with commonplaces — in their minds.

“ Passion yet unborn
Lies hidden as the music of the morn
Sleeps in the plain eggs of the nightingales.”

When love actually comes, it is like a flood in spring, and sweeps away all the old landmarks.

We need not allude to Smoke.

In Dimitri Roudine, Natalie, a very young girl, scarcely grown up, says to Roudine, When she finds his ardor cruelly disappointing her, “Do you know that if you had said to me just now, ‘ I love you, but I can’t marry you; I can’t answer for the future; give me your hand and follow me,’ do you know I should have followed you, that I was ready for everything? ” 4

In On the Eve, Ellen, after almost forcing from Insaroff the acknowledgment of his passion, says to herself, “ Why, why did not Demetrius then and there in the oratory bid me follow him? Did he not declare before God I was his wife? Why, then, am I here?" He has simply called her his wife in the ecstasy of their mutual understanding of love, but she regards it as a binding tic. In her letter to Insaroff she repeatedly calls herself his wife, and it is difficult to believe that they are not actually married from the confiding and intimate tone. In a later scene we see clearly enough with what abandon she loves.

In Assja, the young girl distinctly tells the man, who is only half in love with her, that she knows any marriage is impossible between them, but that she would have given herself to him.

In the Antchar, Marie throws herself away upon the worthless Teretriff, " And the poor slave died at the feet of her lord and master.”

Lisa requires a finer analysis; still, enough instances, I fear, have been cited to prove that it is scarcely worth while to accuse Marianne of deeper enormities than her sisters. Tourgueneff is supreme in his skill as an artist, and his young girls love with a naivete, an intensity, a directness, which is admirable in art. If one wants to moralize over the pictures he draws, one may readily declare that all these young girls suffer in proportion to their love. The question is whether one may sensibly moralize upon a work of art.

  1. Estes and Lauriat: Boston.
  2. Roberts Brothers : Boston.
  3. Roberts Brothers : Boston.
  4. Leisure Hour Series, page 181.