As You Like It by Thomas B. Fielders

Who Loves a Lord?

The London newspapers give one the impression that a number of English people will attend the coronation ceremonies. It is evident that the editors of these newspapers do not read journals which are printed in New York and other American centers.

Killing for Futurity

When Balmascheff, who shot and killed M. Sipiaguine, Russia's Minister of the Interior, was asked if he had accomplices he replied: "So many that it is impossible to name them." He also said that he nor they expected grace or mercy; that he and they worked for those who came after. Some will call this the raving of an anarchist. But these know nothing of the conditions against which Balmascheff and his kind are warring. The Balmascheffs would prefer to gain their ends by peaceful means, but know from experience that life is too short for success. They do not kill for love of killing, or the notoriety that attaches to it, but that the lot of those whose cause they champion may be made merely endurable. Whenever the law is wilfully and successfully disregarded that a minority may be favored there will be found a means by which this dereliction is brought to the attention not only of the lawbreakers, but of the world, and as the latter, in all its divisions, contains lawbreakers who consider themselves above or beyond the law the punishment of one is usually followed by the punishment of others, for lawbreakers of a colossal type—like their executioners—think in common and recognize no cleavage of nationality. Balmascheff may not have killed the system which was represented by M. Sipiaguine, but he chopped away a limb. Unless the trunk is replaced by one that better befits the age it, too, will be chopped away.

If this be an age of reason, as is claimed for it, men who are furnished with a capacity to think cannot be prevented from putting their thoughts into execution. Though Balmascheff was executed on Friday according to biblical and Russian law, there are many Balmascheffs in the world, and it is well for the world that this is so.

Mistake in Vocation

A woman writer who considers herself a Realist says in a story published recently: "I found a letter in my mail and read it as I prepared my morning coffee." This is an impossible feat. She may have prepared the coffee and then read the letter, or read the letter and then prepared the coffee, but she did not do both simultaneously unless she were, not a realist, but an acrobat.

Foreign Devils Again

Among the many reforms foisted upon China by the Powers is a college. At the head of this college is a Foreign Devil and among its professors are six Foreign Devils. The court of last resort, however, is the Governor of Shantung, who is a native of China. He, quite recently, filled the Foreign Devils with indignation because he expelled from the college a student who refused to subscribe to the teachings of Confucius, who was a wise as well as a learned man. The Foreign Devils transferred some of their indignation to Mr. Conger, the United States Minister, who "warned the Throne against infractions of the treaties in respect to the freedom of the Chinese to practice Christianity." This warning probably filled the Throne with even more and hotter indignation than that which seethed in the Foreign Devils. Why should Mr. Conger not follow the custom of his own country and permit every religion to take care of itself? Here is a case in point. A Mr. Noll applied for a license to preach and it was denied to him by a Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian brand because he refused to believe in the personality of Adam. He would not have carried his case to the President even if he had not died. It has been asserted by a Minister of another denomination that Noll was murdered, not in the orthodox way, but simply because he was refused a license to preach. If the murder theory be not untenable Noll was not of the stuff of which martyrs are made, and as all Preachers hold that they are made of this stuff Noll conferred a favor upon the profession by dying of consumption.

Heaven or Hell

Even before Noll died a number of Presbyterian Preachers had announced that they considered Adam, Moses, Jonah and other personages of Note in Bible literature as Myths. With rare exceptions, there is about as little initiative in Professional Preachers as there is in Professional Pugilists, and the last sect of which one might have expected such iconoclastic utterances is that which claims Calvin and John Knox as its shining lights. I remember, as a small boy, feeling sorry for a chum because, as a Presbyterian, he did not know and had no means of finding out whether he had been born to go to Heaven or Hell, and in those days both of those resorts were spelled with capitals and pronounced with awe. Had he been able by a most rigorous observance of all the rules laid down by God and Man to make certain of living in a future state of beatitude I would have felt sorry for him still, as he would be compelled, of necessity, to miss many of the joys of this world; still his future then—though in a hard and grinding measure—would have lain in his own hands. But whether he became a Pirate or a Preacher was all one; he had been born to go to Heaven or Hell and nothing that he could do could enable him to change his final destination. In later life he, evidently, appreciated this, for he became a Stock-Broker, after, as a Preacher, having broken most of the Commandments and fractured the rest. Had the Dominie of the flock of which he was a member expressed a doubt of the existence, some years ago, of Adam, Moses or Jonah, but particularly Adam, he would have saved my friend from much mental and some physical distress.

Adam a Myth

When a hide-bound, moss-grown bigot begets doubts and then removes them, he is like a bull in a china shop and wants to break everything in sight, not through an innate love of destruction, but because he has lost his rope and is too delirious to find the corral. This throwing overboard of Adam so suddenly and without any recently discovered evidence upon his personality or lack of it, comes in the nature of a shock. The act has been perpetrated after the fashion of Captain Kidd in his worst days. It shows a complete lack of even a faint acquaintance with the small amenities that help to smooth the ruts in social intercourse to not only order a personage of Adam's standing and reputation to "walk the plank," but to push him off. Besides, it shows an utter disregard for the feelings of that large body of people who do not think, to wipe out, at one fell wipe, the whole scheme of creation without substituting another. If there were no Adam there could not have been a Garden of Eden or an Eve. And what about the Apple and the Serpent and a lot of other picturesque details? Personally, I intend to stick to my belief in Adam, not because I ever had a high opinion of him, but because I have met a number of men who remind me of him—men who always throw the blame on the woman; also because I have seen several spots that would make an admirable Eden. Besides, there is something in the story of what happened in the Garden that rings true; not that all women would adopt Eve's bold method, but much may be forgiven a woman who had no mother or maiden aunt to play duenna, and who lived before either was fashionable, or, according to the story, necessary.

Hurrah for Noah

But these reverend gentlemen must not go too far. One may regret Adam, and his extinction may start fissures in many genealogical trees, but to such of us as only "came over in the Mayflower," or "with the Conqueror," his flop into oblivion may entail no serious damage to existing rights. Upon Moses I always looked as a person of doubtful parentage, and a leader who, had he lived in recent centuries, would have been sacrificed by his own men within a month at most. His only title to fame is that he kept the Jews for forty years from appropriating anything but a desert which nobody else wanted and was a blistering hindrance to them. The story of Moses certainly has weak spots. Too much is known of the localities which he frequented. The crossing of the Red Sea without even getting his boots full of water seems too lurid an accomplishment for a pedestrian who consumed forty years in reaching the confines of an ordinary desert. His disappearance will cause but little clamor. Then there is Jonah. Those who know the sea, or have a passing acquaintance with fish, place no reliance upon the Jonah-whale story. Jonah will not be missed greatly. But I must insist upon the preservation of Noah. In him are we all—no creed nor color barred—indebted for our first striking and imperfect impressions of the animal kingdom. No liar could have invented the story of the flood. It is of too wholesale a character for pure invention, and the few details which accompany it wear an air of truth. Unless it were founded upon fact, could manufacturers all over the world have been induced to strengthen it and put money in their purse by turning out, annually, not millions but trillions of Noah's arks? Once shake the belief of childhood in the stability of Noah and ruin will fall upon a great industry, for machinery which will turn out a never-ending stream of Noah's arks could not be driven to turn out anything else. There is nothing to take the place of Noah's ark, as there is no one to take the place of Noah. In other lines trade may follow the flag, but in the Noah's ark industry it follows a belief in Noah and is known to every flag that has ever waved, paying allegiance to no particular banner. Before these fatiguing divines drive even a tack into Noah's coffin, let them provide us with a personage of equal interest and influence. If they are not permitted to move further in their scheme of destruction until they do this, Noah is safe. They can only try to kill; they cannot create.

Callow Judgment

Mr. William M. Thomas, United States Minister to Sweden, called upon the President lately and made him a present of several Swedish razors. A Washington correspondent at once telegraphed to his newspaper in New York: "He selected the razors himself and is a fine judge of them though he does not use a razor." If the person who sent this important dispatch wanted to secure an Old Master he, doubtless, would hire a canal boatman to pass judgment upon the painting before he put his money down.

Champagne and "Champagne"

It is customary for Americans to think that they get the best of everything. There are Americans who do get the best of everything, but this is because they know what is best and are able and willing to pay for it. But where hoi polloi thinks that it gets the best of everything it is mistaken. Take champagne, for instance. "A large bottle on the ice" is a common order in New York. To the waiter it means a bottle of champagne. He may or may not ask if any particular brand is required: that depends upon the quality of the hostelry in which he is employed; also upon the quality of the customer. The "large bottle" is forthcoming. It contains a label on which is printed the maker's name.

The cork which comes out of the bottle is, generally, much larger than the neck into which it has been forced. It is seldom that one hears a buyer ask to see the cork. The average buyer of champagne would not understand the cork's story. He is accustomed to large and bulging corks and if he were to see an attenuated specimen, of dark complexion and as hard as a piece of vulcanized rubber he would look at it with great suspicion and, doubtless, refuse the wine. But an experienced waiter will know his man and will bring him the sort of "large bottle" to which he has been accustomed, though it will not be champagne that a wine drinker would care to swallow. Champagne of the "large bottle" variety is drunk to a larger extent in the United States than anywhere else; in fact one would not be far wrong in saying that it is manufactured for the American market. Generally, the best champagne is made for England and Russia. The people of those countries who drink champagne have made at least a cursory study of it and are able, at a moment's notice, to name the best vintages of the last twenty-five or thirty years. There are Americans who can do this, too, but they are not of the "large bottle" or "cold bottle" variety. The latter are the people who account for the fact that much more "champagne" is consumed than is furnished by the vineyards of France.