Literature in the Grades

I

FAR be it from this writer to assume any more knowledge of the intricacies and profundities of his subject, with all the implications attached thereto, than may easily be had by the man who passes by in the neighborhood of literature in elementary schools, and turns aside to consider.

A most significant symbol for such a situation, a symbol offered for the consideration of any passer-by who, going about his daily and quite different affairs, nevertheless turns aside to these things, is that picture, somewhere down along the old Nile, of a young man engaged in tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the routine of a blazing Egyptian day.

Suddenly this comtemplative person, this reflective, if rather sullen, young man, saw a very curious thing — a bush that burned and was not consumed; that illuminated even that sun-enveloped land, and particularly illuminated him.

‘And he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire and the bush was not consumed.’

Literature is just such a bush. But how few parents and how few teachers turn aside, though they are continually passing.

The relation of parent and child is a desperate thing, a thing compounded of tragedy. For, if parents themselves had more to give, they would understand how little of literature or anything very refreshing and invigorating and adventurous and joyful the usual school has to give.

Hence it follows that whole communities share an infatuation that their school is good for children simply because the children do not resent it. How should the children know that their school is a sterile thing, dominated by conscientious people who, nevertheless, beat the ground to stone with their tramping about in ‘custom-made’ pedagogical shoes?

Here is a school with the children pouring in. You, being contemplative, realize that these children have just one chance like this. In a thousand hours a year, for a very few years, there is a chance that some few hours out of the total may be spent in the presence of that mysterious influence, that yeast, which will make the great pan of dough, called the public-school system, rise, and make the little pans of dough, the private schools, rise also.

But the dough does not rise: it remains level with the society round about; and when the individual little loaves are baked in the oven of experience, the nation is not refreshed and invigorated as it might be had that bread ‘raised.’ Instead, there is general indigestion and a great cry for remedies.

The teachers of literature, and especially the teachers in normal schools, do not realize that man, like the earth itself, is suspended upon nothing. That Shakespeare’s assertion, ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on,’ is rather an under-statement than an over-statement of the fact. That in a life wrapped in the seven veils of mastery, accompanied by prowling demons of pain, and always skirting an abyss, begun and terminated in vacuity and infinite silence, there are certain extremely precious sources of happiness and actual beatitude; and that they, for the majority of children, preside as wardens at these sources — as forest-rangers, to prevent devastation and the drying-up of the only springs that make the social world habitable.

Aided by publishers and authors, by moving-picture producers and phonograph manufacturers, and mechanicians of every sort whose impulses are exclusively economic and whose philosophy is the industrial one of quantity production, they, to a most incredible degree, proceed to throw into these springs rubbish, the rubbish of their own wasteful and discouraged housekeeping, the old furniture of their tired heads, and the very mattresses of their heavy sleeping days.

II

Let us take a look at the class in English. The teacher has been trained to teach English, and has taught it year after year. Even at the beginning of her career she was rather metallic, because the normal school she went to intensified her preconception that teaching English meant analyzing sentences, tossing their words into the air and catching them dexterously: just juggling English words. Nothing alive is ever exposed. She never takes a kicking pink-eyed rabbit out of anybody’s pocket; she never discovers a vigorous emotion; because, as regards English, she has none herself — as the magician has his rabbit; as a magician I saw last winter had a real lion, lean, tawny, and glaring, who for a few minutes turned his ‘ruddy eyes’ on an audience surfeited with tricks and put the whole show to shame. If you have not a lion concealed about your person, dear teacher, have n’t you at least a rabbit?

As wave after wave of children’s classes in English has broken against her, she has become quite stony. English is more and more words, and less and less emotion and passion and beauty and inspiration and love. Therefore, how can she possibly teach English? Moreover, the ' Readers ’ do not help her, and outside the Readers she herself does not read much except newspapers. For the Readers are a tangle of short things, mediocre and good inextricably mixed.

‘The Class will please take their Readers and turn to page 43. John, what is the subject of the story on that page?

‘ Now, stand up and read t ill I tell you to stop; stand up straight, please, and hold your book in your right hand. Speak clearly, hold your head up. There — that’s the first sentence; now tell us what mood the verb is in. What is the rule for the subjunctive mood? Can’t anybody remember that? Why, we had it just day before yesterday. I will write it on the board; for that is something you must know before you go on to the next grade.’ She writes: —

The subjunctive mood is used in a sibordinate proposition when both contingency and futurity are expressed, or when the contrary fact is implied.

The children look at it somewhat as a puppy looks at the house cat with its back arched and tail inflated: they look at it reproachfully, and turn away sadly.

‘Now, go on reading, please.

‘There, stop there. Caroline, what would you say was the particular feature of this story as far as we have gone?’

Caroline says, ‘Well, I should call it — sad — or — I don’t know — I don’t care much about it.’

‘ Oh, that’s not what I mean,’ says the teacher; ‘I mean its literary feature. Don’t you think it is the way the adjectives are used? Hugo had a great reputation in his day for adjectives, He seemed to know more of them than anybody else, and this is an excellent example of his style.

‘And don’t you notice, too, how short his sentences are? Now, why did he use such short sentences? Why, every author has his style, and Hugo chose this as his because he liked it. I was always sorry he did, for it makes his writings so jerky.

‘Do you know anything else that Hugo wrote besides this piece we are reading?’

Nobody knew, and there was every chance that nobody ever would know. They would always read pieces — rarely books, for they were trained to read pieces.

Here is a scene to set against that. It is not a class in reading, or in anything to do with letters. It is just the sixth grade beginning its session with its teacher on the morning of any day. The children selected each day one of their number to recite some favorite poem; or, just as often, they sang together some song they loved to sing. A boy with shaggy hair and the clothing of a poor man’s son, but with a happy face devoid of self-consciousness, being called on by his classmates, stood up at his chair, and recited in a pure, cadenced voice this thing, which I aft erwards learned was a prayer of the Navajo Indians to the Mountain Spirit: —

LORD OF THE MOUNTAIN

Reared within the Mountain,
Young man, Chieftain,
Hear a young man’s prayer!
Hear a prayer for cleanness.
Keeper of the strong rain,
Drumming on the mountain;
Lord of the small rain,
That restores the earth in newness;
Keeper of the clean rain,
Hear a prayer for wholeness.
Young man, Chieftain,
Hear a prayer for fleetness.
Keeper of the deer’s way,
Reared among the eagles,
Clear my feet of slothness.
Keeper of the paths of men,
Hear a prayer for straightness.
Hear a prayer for courage,
Lord of the thin peaks,
Reared among the thunders;
Keeper of the head-lands,
Holding up the harvest,
Keeper of the strong rocks,
Hear a prayer for staunchness.
Young man, Chieftain,
Spirit of the Mountain!

How would you have felt if you had been there?

In the midst of our general ‘mud and scum of things,’ in school and out, it was one of those poignant, unexpected songs that Emerson asks us to listen for — a penetrating and unforgettable song.

And in the English classes of this school, what do they do? Why, they do what anybody would do who loved English literature and proposed to spread that feeling to children.

They tell stories and they read books through. They read books through twice — just because children always do that. The story moves on from day to day and from wonder to wonder. Will you substitute for this the indifferent hash of the grade Reader, all chopped together and compressed between two covers, and then think that you will start any feeling for literature, even if the teacher is good? Will you take a chapter out of The Wind in the Willows, or the Lance of Kanana, or Wolf the Storm-Leader, the Travels of Ulysses, the Nibelungenlied, Robinson Crusoe, and miss the opportunity to give your children the whole experience? Why?

Can you give any satisfactory reason why real books are not used in schools instead of Readers? And does it not seem better to read one book, — if a fine one, — than scraps from many books?

III

Those who travel in or out of Chicago by rail, may very likely be sitting among the glistening silver and china of the dining-car, with the red-shaded candles punctuating the comfortable room, in which the waiters are moving swiftly and adroitly along the aisle. Waiting for your order on this particularly dreary January evening, you look vaguely out of the window on the very sea bottom, the‘ooze’ of civilization — the outskirts of an industrial city. And you look rather complacently. If you think about it at all, you think fatalistically.

It is pleasant, on the whole, for the person in t he radiant dining-car, awaiting the filet mignon, to be a determinist, and to believe in status in accordance with function; to be feudalistic, and only agreeably conscious of the fact that multitudes are employed in supporting his weight and the weight, of his household and the weight of his ignorance and his prejudice. It is a weight, and a leaden one; and the gazer through the plate-glass might with advantage think that there was danger, if too many engaged in his kind of thinking and living, that the centre of gravity would get outside the base, and then, as usual, the thing would roll over and all sorts of hideous things come to view and to action. He might see the school, as he rolls ponderously by, black and ugly against the end of another day of routine, but with no thought of children, with their eager eyes and hands and minds, who are having their total experience of childhood just there, in the stridency of those streets and rooms.

But what has this to do with literature? Well, you saw those streets and houses, and you saw that school. But there were many things you could not see and had never seen, and among them was a woman who lives there. Not of your sort exactly, if you are really insulated by plate-glass, but of such a different sort that, in her presence, you, with your confident manner and modish garments, might stand quite confused and abashed, and rather afraid to expose that well-worn stock of ideas, the stock you so volubly exchange with your intimates.

She is a star, in the twilight of Chicago’s industrial abasement, that ‘washes the dusk with silver.’ And in the glare of electricity and the roar of traffic and the mad outcries of our Babylon, she is unconfused and radiant.

She is going into the school after its educational machinery has stopped humming, and appears in the assembly hall, which presently begins to fill with children, the older ones a little sheepish, and many boys frankly inimical and explosive, hitting each other with their caps, and full of vacuous antics by which they would indicate their superiority to these extra proceedings, but, nevertheless, drawn by an obscure curiosity.

They see the small figure standing near the desk, and conclude that this meeting for ‘story-telling’ will be theirs rather than hers, and concentrate in the back.

The room seethes and losses, filled with that strange protoplasmic substance which we call youth.

But notice: this woman steps to the centre, — on the floor, not on the platform, — and you see there that ancient and most moving thing, the field and the sower, the lamps and the lighter, the listeners and the speaker, confronting one another. It is a situation charged with an enormous potential, with a voltage of which physics knows nothing, but which, in its department called psychology, or science of the soul, rises to levels where, if what is said is not commensurate and adequate, you are thrown down by the recoil into an abyss of defeat and despair.

This is the matrix of education; that this relationship, this confronting of an illuminative personality by combustible material, shall result in a lighting of those lamps in the mind and in the heart, that shall eventually show the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And this is the tragedy of the school, that the lamps remain unlighted, and the oil evaporates, — that priceless oil of childhood, — and the opportunity passes.

There is a picture called Oral Tradition, painted on one of the walls of the Congressional Library. It represents a group of Bedouins, in white robes and turbans, squatted in a circle of gleaming eyes, while before them stands a dramatic figure recounting in glowing Arabic some old tale of the desert, or the chanted poetry of Abu Nuwas of Harun.

The spirit of man has never changed, and living speech rather than the printed page is still, and will always be, its avatar, its quickener, and its passionate hunger.

In similar attitude stands the storyteller in the city school, and puts the same resistless spell upon her audience.

She is in the apostolic succession from the story-tellers of the prehistoric desert, the skalds of the North, and the myth-makers of the Mediterranean.

The boys in the back of the room are reduced immediately to graven images, with straining eyes and ears, all enmeshed in that finely woven fabric called — Literature.

Children, to be strong, to be symmetrical, and to be properly coördinated, must repeat in their physical growth the whole biologic story.

And something of the same sort applies to their minds. That is one of the natural laws in the spiritual world. Therefore, the literary diet for children is composed of fairy stories, fables, myths, and folk-tales, the older the better, because these have been tested by the attrition of hundreds of years and have never worn out. They are like radium, forever giving out energy, but never weighing less or diminishing in force. And the avidity with which they are accepted, their complete assimilation, makes it perfectly plain that they are as native a diet for children as clover for rabbits. They make bone and sinew, blood and nerve, and are the only soil in which the roots of their mature life can always find moisture away down under the parched ground of the work-a-day world.

When you proceed to substitute for these highly nutritive things the feverish stupidity of the standard movingpicture shows, censored or not, and the defilements of the sensational theatres, you proceed to destroy souls. All the green shoots of imagination, from which alone have ever come any harvests of creative ability, are ironed out and scorched. For older people they may be tolerated, as a moral equivalent, perhaps, for the saloon. For children they are, to use Mr. Wister’s phrase, a pentecost of calamity.

But here we are. We have not provided against this pestilence, which now flieth by night and wasteth at noonday, any powerful antidote or preventive such as this story-teller, except in rare instances, like this.

Here in this room are Greek children, Italian children, Scandinavian, Russian; some of German, Irish, and American parentage — but they are in the minority. The stories are taken from the sources of their native literature. On this day it was Greek — of Ulysses and the Cyclops, Ulysses and Circe.

On another day, it would be of Balder, of Sigurd, or of Frithiof; legends of King Arthur, Robin Hood, Bruce; folk-tales of Ireland and of Germany; or such a story as Tolstoy’s ‘ Where love is, there God is also.’

In simple words, deliberately spoken, with but a slight gesture, but with an intense timbre and the rhythm, intonation, and inflection required by each situation, the story-teller proceeds along this old Roman road, accompanied by the winged spirits of these children, and at the end says, —

‘Next week I hope to meet you here again; and will you keep the engagement?’

With hardly breath for answer, they continued to sit there, and with that sudden inspiration, born of the maternal, the story-teller continues: —

‘Now I must say good-night, and I want to say it by repeating a little poem to you. Is n’t it strange what can be done with words? and a great poet is a person who can do more wonderful things with words than anybody else. He puts them together in a certain way, and they immediately glow and make a great light and a great music all about them; and yet they are so old and worn with use. They come from so far back, away back in the old Europe your grandfathers and grandmothers lived in, and their grandfathers and their grandmothers. Nevertheless, they are young and strong, filled with such thunders and such whispers, such sweetness and such bitterness. Dear children, when you look at things, and think about things, and write about things, keep perfectly quiet and wait till the right words come swimming past, then catch them in your net like silver fish. Keep quiet and wait, and presently here they come swimming through the clear pool of your mind — all living, shining words which you can catch.

‘And now listen to the words William Blake caught in his net. I will tell you more about him some day, and read you some of the poems he calls “Songs of Innocence.” Such astonishing things — things that could be written only by a very great man, and yet a man who was as simple in his use of words as a little child. But these are the words he used when he wanted to express what was in his heart as he looked at the evening star — and this is my “good-night.” ’ And she repeated very slowly: —

‘Thou fair-haired Angel of the Evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love, thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed.
Smile on our loves, and while thou drawest the
Blue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dew
On every flower that shuts its sweet eyes in timely sleep.
Let thy west wind sleep on
The lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes
And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon,
Dost thou withdraw; then the wolf rages wide.
And then the lion glares through the dim forest.
The fleeces of our flocks are covered with
Thy sacred dew; protect them with thine influence.’

And so her flock departed home, their fleeces covered with a sacred dew, and in their hearts some glimmering of the stars in the great constellation of letters.

There must be people found who can do this sort of thing, this oral tradition; otherwise, literature in school has no roots and cannot grow. And these people exist. Put a sufficient premium on this sort of school meeting, at morning exercise or any convenient time, and from the recesses of our huge American family, the story-tellers, draped in garments of quiet power, and of faultless discrimination, will stand before you.

IV

Why should it be necessary to state this case again? Do we people, who profess all sorts of devotion to the needs of children in school and out, read a great authority on this subject, whose works have been available for years — G. Stanley Hall? Articles in magazines can be but faint echoes of the things he has said in his great books, Adolescence and Education.

To this old man we make our obeisance and our apologies.

And then, too, I am only telling something that every enlightened mother knows, though she may not understand to what an extent, in this as in so many other ways, she is building a craft — a canoe — for her son or her daughter who listens at bedtime to her stories; a craft which will bring him through many a rapid, if not dry, at least safe, by the subtle steering of a thing called ‘taste.’

Children of Presbyterian households a generation ago may have felt the rigors and confinements of a childhood spent ‘in the fear and admonition of the Lord.’ But there were many compensations, and among them was this. Out of the austerities of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and theological sermons, and interminable extempore prayers, and strange melancholy hymns, emerged those astonishing pictures of men and events called ‘ Bible Stories’ — from the Morning and the Evening of the First Day, down through the wonderful procession of figures passing colossal against the glowing sky, on the rim of that Oriental world from whence came the very breath of our spiritual life.

In after years they tower up and constitute a sort of mountain-range running across the green plains of early youth. And you never get out of sight of them; they tower higher as you go on. Children who have not appropriated these stories as integral parts of their lives are likely to suffer from the lack of that luminous and stately background, which I compare with a mountain-range, and behind which, as we proceed inland, is the immortal sea that brought us hither.

For those who, in the multiplicity of their material, may have overlooked these peaks where the greatest river of literature has its source, allow me to recall a very few, at haphazard.

Esau, for instance, Esau the brown and shaggy hunter, with his great hairy hands, his honest eyes and appetite, home from a long sojourn in that wilderness he loves, throws himself down in the door of the tent, talks with Jacob, and makes that memorable bargain symbolic of the relationship that forever exists between the man of physical endowment and simplicity — the outdoor man — and the man of mental subtlety— the indoor man.

Samson, the Playboy of the Eastern World, his broad, whimsical face framed in that astonishing hair, filled with grim humors which could change to devastating rage. A piece of the old Earth itself, against whom a lion roared but once, and then with terror. A man of riddles and taciturn mirth, wandering quizzically through an amazed and unfriendly country. Tying together the tails of foxes, carrying off the gates of walled towns, like a huge undergraduate, and with the jaw-bone of an ass, picked quickly from his mother-earth, reducing his pursuers to pulp. But a prey to the guile of bright eyes, as always; until, finally, he sits blind and shorn among the women, grinding, grinding, with his pestle and mortar. Nevertheless, a quiescent, not an extinct, volcano, as they shall presently know.

Noah, massively calm, like a bronze man, with his elemental sons and daughters-in-law. A family the Creator of the Earth found worthy to live in it; not a huckster, but a builder. A slow but sure man, with the dignity of six hundred years of experience, who could do huge things with an axe and an adze and a mallet, and did them, he and his sons. And behold the Ark of gopherwood, its cavernous interior resounding with the cries of every kind of beast, bird, and creeping thing, and redolent of the same, as the gang-plank was drawn in, the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

Lot, in his doomed little city, through the dim streets of which those radiant strangers passed swiftly to his door. Two such prosperous little cities, and so comfortable, — Sodom and Gomorrah, — in the fertile plain. But not enough disinterested men in them; and the sense of appalling disaster hangs over, as Lot and his family flee through the gates toward the hill country. And there his wife stands to this day, looking back! O incomparable masculine retribution on all the feminine longing for the old home rather than for the frontier! Outside of how many little cities are there these pillars of salt!

Joseph and his brethren — and the strange dreams of those Egyptians, which he could interpret. Joseph the administrator and friend of Pharaoh in the old, old land of Egypt, to which his descendants would return as slaves.

Moses and Aaron, and those heartbreaking plagues which the dark wizards down there could also produce, strangely enough, because Egyptian learning was profound and went down into the recesses of things. Even the Jehovah of Moses felt the prick of competition, and was obliged to do quite stupendous things to out-match these doctors of Egyptian divinity.

Saul, Jonathan, and David, that tragic group, worthy of Michael Angelo or Rodin — bound together by the strangest fate.

David, standing on the edge of the army and looking with his clear poet’s eyes at that apparition Goliath; filled with a curious conviction that he can stop this outrageous affront — the conviction of a boy who was also a king.

David and his descent to the depths of criminal indulgence and despair, and his ascent to the sublimity of the scene above the city gate after Absalom was slain; and the immortal music of the Twenty-third Psalm.

Solomon the incomparable, having entertained the Queen of Sheba in a manner that bewildered even that consummate artist in pageantry, and having got his huge family to bed, paces wearily to his apartments, removes his insignia, and after looking on the vast Oriental night and its incredible stars, writes the last few chapters of a little book he has recently been devoting his precious leisure to, now called ‘ Ecclesiastes’; understanding so well that heaven and earth might pass away, but the words of those chapters would not; that the spectacles of kings and queens and palaces and parades were the least real of all things. ‘Solomon who talked to a butterfly as a man talks to a man.’

Job, and the resounding eloquence of those mighty debaters, where again Jehovah can win only by employing his greatest guns, against this Promethean stubbornness.

Daniel, and the feast of Belshazzar. There was a great teacher in prototype, whose business it was to tell the truth about things, and who recognized the signs of the times and interpreted them. ‘Let thy gifts be to thyself,’ he said, ‘and give thy rewards to another.’ What writing would such a man see on the walls of our cities? And what would be his interpretation? For in these cities is all the sowing that produces the whirlwind of war. ‘Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the breast-bones, hell under the skull-bones.’

It is a stupendous piece of theatrical art, that setting, filled with a wild music too, increasing to the abandonment of the ’Scheherazada,’ which, suddenly, quavers, dies out; and in shuddering silence the lingers of a man’s hand — huge cyclopean lingers — are seen writing on the great gold wall, over against the candlestick.

Ruth and Naomi. Women of a deathless majesty and loveliness, whose speech is the speech of that inward nobility which is the crown and diadem of life. ‘Entreat me not to leave thee or to depart from following after thee.’ And as long as English is spoken, we have the final expression of devotion in these and the following words.

And so on, down to the crowning achievement of the compulsion man is under to adorn ids life with beauty and escape the terrors of a mechanistic world — the story of Bethlehem.

Again out of heaven come visitors and a message, as recounted so often before by the poets of all nations in their own idioms; but never before in any spectacle or any words so transcendent and compelling as these.

Before those obscure men of the Orient, and their successive translators, down to that amazing assembly of men of letters who produced the King James version, all writers and teachers may well prostrate themselves; nothing so beautiful, so august, so comforting, having been produced before or since by man on this planet.

If you have regard for your child destined to wander in the mazes of the labyrinths that are now constructed to the consternation and ultimate destruction of youth, you give him a thread to hold, so that he cannot lose his way and may even kill the Beast that fills the air with its bellowing. At any rate, if we do not feed him, he will die of starvation.

And until the monster is dead, and the labyrinth transformed into something generally happier and more healthy, the supreme duty of parents and teachers is to attach childrens’ hearts to the threads of great literature and great music and great ideas, while there is still time.

It is just as important that the school music should be inspiring, and should capture the rapturous attention of every child, as that the school literature should; and the means to secure this result are the same — find the person who corresponds to the story-teller, carefully avoiding imitations and tempting compromises. For it is much better to have none at all than to have something specious; than to have something second-class that poses as first-class; than to fool children in such an insidious and despicable way that they will never get any confidence in their own discrimination, but will forever mix good, bad, and indifferent, all the time perfectly bewildered, but making believe that they know, just as their parents do.

From the twelve intellectual supermen in the world who can understand the Einstein theory, we are going to steal one little trinket, and stop right there. They have a thing called a ‘frame of reference.’ In an effort over many years to find that πov στω, — ‘a place to stand,’ which Archimedes also wanted very much, — a place from which they could measure motion with some confidence, — they hitched this ‘frame of reference’ to first one thing and then another, until they got as far off as the Nebula?, entirely outside our fixed stars and everything else that seemed fixed. Nothing would do,— nothing was fixed, — everything moved, and moved with shattering velocity. Trustworthy measurements could not possibly be made. At last they took the ether; took it on faith because they don’t know whether there is such a thing or not, but they had no further choice.

Where are you going to hang your frame of reference in the ethical universe — and the spiritual? What shall we tie to as a base for measuring the actual excellence of ideas, of aspirations, of procedures, of the works and words of men? How far back do you think we should go to escape the aberrations of popular opinion to-day: current events, journalism, class-theories, religious cults, capital propaganda and labor propaganda, pedagogy, diplomacy, patriotism?

There is need for some haste in making this decision for our children. For ourselves it makes comparatively little difference. It is what we commit them to that is the disturbing thing.

There is an old pontifical rubric, ‘Unto you are committed the keys; whomsoever thou shalt bind shall remain bound.’

If this sounds pedantic, moralistic, and reactionary, let the objector suggest, as regards literary and artistic standards, something more in keeping with the ' actual needs of twentieth-century children.

The fact seems to be that the total structure of the best and deepest in human experience and thought, and therefore in literary expression, is not only old, but very beneficially secure.

Perhaps those who recognized the writer of ‘These Wild Young People’ in the September Atlantic as their spokesman will feel this point of view as an added hardship in their vivid rush toward the privileges of youth. But when they arrive at this stronghold, as also at others equally secure, they will save themselves some embarrassment if they recall that picture of Thor before the gates of Jötunheim. He also was exasperated, and hammered somewhat on the heaven-high gates, demanding surrender, or, at any rate, demanding consideration much beyond his worth.

But it particularly remains for school people to show that they fully understand what schools are for — ‘and then proceed to put the emphasis upon those things that are radical; that pertain to the roots of human happiness and health and fertility; that produce an enlightened heart and a right spirit within us, to guide a trained mind and hand.’

By the magic of intimate friendly intercourse with a wise and sympathetic teacher, who can interpret life and its arts to his pupils, who long ago accepted Whitman’s philosophy and asks not good fortune, because he has good fortune within himself and distributes it wherever he goes, you get a school; and by no other means or method whatsoever.

For a school, said a great teacher the other day in my hearing, has always been just a person — is now — and ever shall be; substitutes are invariably futile.