By Stephen Leacock
MY FINANCIAL CAREER
LORD OXHEAD'S SECRET
THE AWFUL FATE OF MELPOMENUS JONES
A CHRISTMAS LETTER
HOW TO MAKE A MILLION DOLLARS
HOW TO LIVE TO BE 200
HOW TO AVOID GETTING MARRIED
HOW TO BE A DOCTOR
THE NEW FOOD
A NEW PATHOLOGY
THE POET ANSWERED
THE FORCE OF STATISTICS
MEN WHO HAVE SHAVED ME
GETTING THE THREAD OF IT
TELLING HIS FAULTS
THE CONJURER'S REVENGE
HINTS TO TRAVELLERS
A MANUAL OF EDUCATION
HOODOO MCFIGGIN'S CHRISTMAS
THE LIFE OF JOHN SMITH
ON COLLECTING THINGS
INSURANCE UP TO DATE
BORROWING A MATCH
A LESSON IN FICTION
HELPING THE ARMENIANS
A STUDY IN STILL LIFE: THE COUNTRY HOTEL
AN EXPERIMENT WITH POLICEMAN HOGAN
THE PASSING OF THE POET
A MODEL DIALOGUE
BACK TO THE BUSH
REFLECTIONS ON RIDING
HALF-HOURS WITH THE POETS—
I. MR. WORDSWORTH AND THE LITTLE COTTAGE GIRL
II. HOW TENNYSON KILLED THE MAY QUEEN
III. OLD MR. LONGFELLOW ON BOARD THE "HESPERUS"
A. B, AND C
My Financial Career
When I go into a bank I get rattled. The clerks rattle me;
the wickets rattle me; the sight of the money rattles me;
everything rattles me.
The moment I cross the threshold of a bank and attempt to
transact business there, I become an irresponsible idiot.
I knew this beforehand, but my salary had been raised to
fifty dollars a month and I felt that the bank was the
only place for it.
So I shambled in and looked timidly round at the clerks.
I had an idea that a person about to open an account must
needs consult the manager.
I went up to a wicket marked "Accountant." The accountant
was a tall, cool devil. The very sight of him rattled me.
My voice was sepulchral.
"Can I see the manager?" I said, and added solemnly,
"alone." I don't know why I said "alone."
"Certainly," said the accountant, and fetched him.
The manager was a grave, calm man. I held my fifty-six
dollars clutched in a crumpled ball in my pocket.
"Are you the manager?" I said. God knows I didn't doubt it.
"Yes," he said.
"Can I see you," I asked, "alone?" I didn't want to say
"alone" again, but without it the thing seemed self-evident.
The manager looked at me in some alarm. He felt that I
had an awful secret to reveal.
"Come in here," he said, and led the way to a private
room. He turned the key in the lock.
"We are safe from interruption here," he said; "sit down."
We both sat down and looked at each other. I found no
voice to speak.
"You are one of Pinkerton's men, I presume," he said.
He had gathered from my mysterious manner that I was a
detective. I knew what he was thinking, and it made me
"No, not from Pinkerton's," I said, seeming to imply that
I came from a rival agency.
"To tell the truth," I went on, as if I had been prompted
to lie about it, "I am not a detective at all. I have
come to open an account. I intend to keep all my money
in this bank."
The manager looked relieved but still serious; he concluded
now that I was a son of Baron Rothschild or a young Gould.
"A large account, I suppose," he said.
"Fairly large," I whispered. "I propose to deposit
fifty-six dollars now and fifty dollars a month regularly."
The manager got up and opened the door. He called to the
"Mr. Montgomery," he said unkindly loud, "this gentleman
is opening an account, he will deposit fifty-six dollars.
A big iron door stood open at the side of the room.
"Good morning," I said, and stepped into the safe.
"Come out," said the manager coldly, and showed me the
I went up to the accountant's wicket and poked the ball
of money at him with a quick convulsive movement as if
I were doing a conjuring trick.
My face was ghastly pale.
"Here," I said, "deposit it." The tone of the words seemed
to mean, "Let us do this painful thing while the fit is
He took the money and gave it to another clerk.
He made me write the sum on a slip and sign my name in
a book. I no longer knew what I was doing. The bank swam
before my eyes.
"Is it deposited?" I asked in a hollow, vibrating voice.
"It is," said the accountant.
"Then I want to draw a cheque."
My idea was to draw out six dollars of it for present
use. Someone gave me a chequebook through a wicket and
someone else began telling me how to write it out. The
people in the bank had the impression that I was an
invalid millionaire. I wrote something on the cheque and
thrust it in at the clerk. He looked at it.
"What! are you drawing it all out again?" he asked in
surprise. Then I realized that I had written fifty-six
instead of six. I was too far gone to reason now. I had
a feeling that it was impossible to explain the thing.
All the clerks had stopped writing to look at me.
Reckless with misery, I made a plunge.
"Yes, the whole thing."
"You withdraw your money from the bank?"
"Every cent of it."
"Are you not going to deposit any more?" said the clerk,
An idiot hope struck me that they might think something
had insulted me while I was writing the cheque and that
I had changed my mind. I made a wretched attempt to look
like a man with a fearfully quick temper.
The clerk prepared to pay the money.
"How will you have it?" he said.
"How will you have it?"
"Oh"—I caught his meaning and answered without even
trying to think—"in fifties."
He gave me a fifty-dollar bill.
"And the six?" he asked dryly.
"In sixes," I said.
He gave it me and I rushed out.
As the big door swung behind me I caught the echo of a
roar of laughter that went up to the ceiling of the bank.
Since then I bank no more. I keep my money in cash in my
trousers pocket and my savings in silver dollars in a
Lord Oxhead's Secret
A ROMANCE IN ONE CHAPTER
It was finished. Ruin had come. Lord Oxhead sat gazing
fixedly at the library fire. Without, the wind soughed
(or sogged) around the turrets of Oxhead Towers, the seat
of the Oxhead family. But the old earl heeded not the
sogging of the wind around his seat. He was too absorbed.
Before him lay a pile of blue papers with printed headings.
From time to time he turned them over in his hands and
replaced them on the table with a groan. To the earl they
meant ruin—absolute, irretrievable ruin, and with it
the loss of his stately home that had been the pride of
the Oxheads for generations. More than that—the world
would now know the awful secret of his life.
The earl bowed his head in the bitterness of his sorrow,
for he came of a proud stock. About him hung the portraits
of his ancestors. Here on the right an Oxhead who had
broken his lance at Crecy, or immediately before it.
There McWhinnie Oxhead who had ridden madly from the
stricken field of Flodden to bring to the affrighted
burghers of Edinburgh all the tidings that he had been
able to gather in passing the battlefield. Next him hung
the dark half Spanish face of Sir Amyas Oxhead of
Elizabethan days whose pinnace was the first to dash to
Plymouth with the news that the English fleet, as nearly
as could be judged from a reasonable distance, seemed
about to grapple with the Spanish Armada. Below this,
the two Cavalier brothers, Giles and Everard Oxhead, who
had sat in the oak with Charles II. Then to the right
again the portrait of Sir Ponsonby Oxhead who had fought
with Wellington in Spain, and been dismissed for it.
Immediately before the earl as he sat was the family
escutcheon emblazoned above the mantelpiece. A child
might read the simplicity of its proud significance—an
ox rampant quartered in a field of gules with a pike
dexter and a dog intermittent in a plain parallelogram
right centre, with the motto, "Hic, haec, hoc, hujus,
* * * * *
"Father!"—The girl's voice rang clear through the half
light of the wainscoted library. Gwendoline Oxhead had
thrown herself about the earl's neck. The girl was radiant
with happiness. Gwendoline was a beautiful girl of
thirty-three, typically English in the freshness of her
girlish innocence. She wore one of those charming walking
suits of brown holland so fashionable among the aristocracy
of England, while a rough leather belt encircled her
waist in a single sweep. She bore herself with that sweet
simplicity which was her greatest charm. She was probably
more simple than any girl of her age for miles around.
Gwendoline was the pride of her father's heart, for he
saw reflected in her the qualities of his race.
"Father," she said, a blush mantling her fair face, "I
am so happy, oh so happy; Edwin has asked me to be his
wife, and we have plighted our troth—at least if you
consent. For I will never marry without my father's
warrant," she added, raising her head proudly; "I am too
much of an Oxhead for that."
Then as she gazed into the old earl's stricken face, the
girl's mood changed at once. "Father," she cried, "father,
are you ill? What is it? Shall I ring?" As she spoke
Gwendoline reached for the heavy bell-rope that hung
beside the wall, but the earl, fearful that her frenzied
efforts might actually make it ring, checked her hand.
"I am, indeed, deeply troubled," said Lord Oxhead, "but
of that anon. Tell me first what is this news you bring.
I hope, Gwendoline, that your choice has been worthy of
an Oxhead, and that he to whom you have plighted your
troth will be worthy to bear our motto with his own."
And, raising his eyes to the escutcheon before him, the
earl murmured half unconsciously, "Hic, haec, hoc, hujus,
hujus, hujus," breathing perhaps a prayer as many of his
ancestors had done before him that he might never forget
"Father," continued Gwendoline, half timidly, "Edwin is
"You surprise me indeed," answered Lord Oxhead; "and
yet," he continued, turning to his daughter with the
courtly grace that marked the nobleman of the old school,
"why should we not respect and admire the Americans?
Surely there have been great names among them. Indeed,
our ancestor Sir Amyas Oxhead was, I think, married to
Pocahontas—at least if not actually married"—the earl
hesitated a moment.
"At least they loved one another," said Gwendoline simply.
"Precisely," said the earl, with relief, "they loved one
another, yes, exactly." Then as if musing to himself,
"Yes, there have been great Americans. Bolivar was an
American. The two Washingtons—George and Booker—are
both Americans. There have been others too, though for
the moment I do not recall their names. But tell me,
Gwendoline, this Edwin of yours—where is his family
"It is at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, father."
"Ah! say you so?" rejoined the earl, with rising interest.
"Oshkosh is, indeed, a grand old name. The Oshkosh are
a Russian family. An Ivan Oshkosh came to England with
Peter the Great and married my ancestress. Their descendant
in the second degree once removed, Mixtup Oshkosh, fought
at the burning of Moscow and later at the sack of Salamanca
and the treaty of Adrianople. And Wisconsin too," the
old nobleman went on, his features kindling with animation,
for he had a passion for heraldry, genealogy, chronology,
and commercial geography; "the Wisconsins, or better, I
think, the Guisconsins, are of old blood. A Guisconsin
followed Henry I to Jerusalem and rescued my ancestor
Hardup Oxhead from the Saracens. Another Guisconsin…"
"Nay, father," said Gwendoline, gently interrupting,
"Wisconsin is not Edwin's own name: that is, I believe,
the name of his estate. My lover's name is Edwin Einstein."
"Einstein," repeated the earl dubiously—"an Indian name
perhaps; yet the Indians are many of them of excellent
family. An ancestor of mine…"
"Father," said Gwendoline, again interrupting, "here is
a portrait of Edwin. Judge for yourself if he be noble."
With this she placed in her father's hand an American
tin-type, tinted in pink and brown. The picture represented
a typical specimen of American manhood of that Anglo-Semitic
type so often seen in persons of mixed English and Jewish
extraction. The figure was well over five feet two inches
in height and broad in proportion. The graceful sloping
shoulders harmonized with the slender and well-poised
waist, and with a hand pliant and yet prehensile. The
pallor of the features was relieved by a drooping black
Such was Edwin Einstein to whom Gwendoline's heart, if
not her hand, was already affianced. Their love had been
so simple and yet so strange. It seemed to Gwendoline
that it was but a thing of yesterday, and yet in reality
they had met three weeks ago. Love had drawn them
irresistibly together. To Edwin the fair English girl
with her old name and wide estates possessed a charm that
he scarcely dared confess to himself. He determined to
woo her. To Gwendoline there was that in Edwin's bearing,
the rich jewels that he wore, the vast fortune that rumour
ascribed to him, that appealed to something romantic and
chivalrous in her nature. She loved to hear him speak of
stocks and bonds, corners and margins, and his father's
colossal business. It all seemed so noble and so far
above the sordid lives of the people about her. Edwin,
too, loved to hear the girl talk of her father's estates,
of the diamond-hilted sword that the saladin had given,
or had lent, to her ancestor hundreds of years ago. Her
description of her father, the old earl, touched something
romantic in Edwin's generous heart. He was never tired
of asking how old he was, was he robust, did a shock, a
sudden shock, affect him much? and so on. Then had come
the evening that Gwendoline loved to live over and over
again in her mind when Edwin had asked her in his
straightforward, manly way, whether—subject to certain
written stipulations to be considered later—she would
be his wife: and she, putting her hand confidingly in
his hand, answered simply, that—subject to the consent
of her father and pending always the necessary legal
formalities and inquiries—she would.
It had all seemed like a dream: and now Edwin Einstein
had come in person to ask her hand from the earl, her
father. Indeed, he was at this moment in the outer hall
testing the gold leaf in the picture-frames with his
pen-knife while waiting for his affianced to break the
fateful news to Lord Oxhead.
Gwendoline summoned her courage for a great effort.
"Papa," she said, "there is one other thing that it is
fair to tell you. Edwin's father is in business."
The earl started from his seat in blank amazement. "In
business!" he repeated, "the father of the suitor of the
daughter of an Oxhead in business! My daughter the
step-daughter of the grandfather of my grandson! Are
you mad, girl? It is too much, too much!"
"But, father," pleaded the beautiful girl in anguish,
"hear me. It is Edwin's father—Sarcophagus Einstein,
senior—not Edwin himself. Edwin does nothing. He has
never earned a penny. He is quite unable to support
himself. You have only to see him to believe it. Indeed,
dear father, he is just like us. He is here now, in this
house, waiting to see you. If it were not for his great
"Girl," said the earl sternly, "I care not for the man's
riches. How much has he?"
"Fifteen million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,"
answered Gwendoline. Lord Oxhead leaned his head against
the mantelpiece. His mind was in a whirl. He was trying
to calculate the yearly interest on fifteen and a quarter
million dollars at four and a half per cent reduced to
pounds, shillings, and pence. It was bootless. His brain,
trained by long years of high living and plain thinking,
had become too subtle, too refined an instrument for
* * * * *
At this moment the door opened and Edwin Einstein stood
before the earl. Gwendoline never forgot what happened.
Through her life the picture of it haunted her—her lover
upright at the door, his fine frank gaze fixed inquiringly
on the diamond pin in her father's necktie, and he, her
father, raising from the mantelpiece a face of agonized
"You! You!" he gasped. For a moment he stood to his full
height, swaying and groping in the air, then fell prostrate
his full length upon the floor. The lovers rushed to his
aid. Edwin tore open his neckcloth and plucked aside his
diamond pin to give him air. But it was too late. Earl
Oxhead had breathed his last. Life had fled. The earl
was extinct. That is to say, he was dead.
The reason of his death was never known. Had the sight
of Edwin killed him? It might have. The old family doctor,
hurriedly summoned, declared his utter ignorance. This,
too, was likely. Edwin himself could explain nothing.
But it was observed that after the earl's death and his
marriage with Gwendoline he was a changed man; he dressed
better, talked much better English.
The wedding itself was quiet, almost sad. At Gwendoline's
request there was no wedding breakfast, no bridesmaids,
and no reception, while Edwin, respecting his bride's
bereavement, insisted that there should be no best man,
no flowers, no presents, and no honeymoon.
Thus Lord Oxhead's secret died with him. It was probably
too complicated to be interesting anyway.
DEFINITIONS AND AXIOMS
All boarding-houses are the same boarding-house.
Boarders in the same boarding-house and on the same flat
are equal to one another.
A single room is that which has no parts and no magnitude.
The landlady of a boarding-house is a parallelogram—that
is, an oblong angular figure, which cannot be described,
but which is equal to anything.
A wrangle is the disinclination of two boarders to each
other that meet together but are not in the same line.
All the other rooms being taken, a single room is said
to be a double room.
POSTULATES AND PROPOSITIONS
A pie may be produced any number of times.
The landlady can be reduced to her lowest terms by a
series of propositions.
A bee line may be made from any boarding-house to any
The clothes of a boarding-house bed, though produced ever
so far both ways, will not meet.
Any two meals at a boarding-house are together less than
two square meals.
If from the opposite ends of a boarding-house a line be
drawn passing through all the rooms in turn, then the
stovepipe which warms the boarders will lie within that
On the same bill and on the same side of it there should
not be two charges for the same thing.
If there be two boarders on the same flat, and the amount
of side of the one be equal to the amount of side of the
other, each to each, and the wrangle between one boarder
and the landlady be equal to the wrangle between the
landlady and the other, then shall the weekly bills of
the two boarders be equal also, each to each.
For if not, let one bill be the greater.
Then the other bill is less than it might have been—which
The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones
Some people—not you nor I, because we are so awfully
self-possessed—but some people, find great difficulty
in saying good-bye when making a call or spending the
evening. As the moment draws near when the visitor feels
that he is fairly entitled to go away he rises and says
abruptly, "Well, I think I…" Then the people say, "Oh,
must you go now? Surely it's early yet!" and a pitiful
I think the saddest case of this kind of thing that I
ever knew was that of my poor friend Melpomenus Jones,
a curate—such a dear young man, and only twenty-three!
He simply couldn't get away from people. He was too modest
to tell a lie, and too religious to wish to appear rude.
Now it happened that he went to call on some friends of
his on the very first afternoon of his summer vacation.
The next six weeks were entirely his own—absolutely
nothing to do. He chatted awhile, drank two cups of tea,
then braced himself for the effort and said suddenly:
"Well, I think I…"
But the lady of the house said, "Oh, no! Mr. Jones, can't
you really stay a little longer?"
Jones was always truthful. "Oh, yes," he said, "of course,
"Then please don't go."
He stayed. He drank eleven cups of tea. Night was falling.
He rose again.
"Well now," he said shyly, "I think I really…"
"You must go?" said the lady politely. "I thought perhaps
you could have stayed to dinner…"
"Oh well, so I could, you know," Jones said, "if…"
"Then please stay, I'm sure my husband will be delighted."
"All right," he said feebly, "I'll stay," and he sank
back into his chair, just full of tea, and miserable.
Papa came home. They had dinner. All through the meal
Jones sat planning to leave at eight-thirty. All the
family wondered whether Mr. Jones was stupid and sulky,
or only stupid.
After dinner mamma undertook to "draw him out," and showed
him photographs. She showed him all the family museum,
several gross of them—photos of papa's uncle and his
wife, and mamma's brother and his little boy, an awfully
interesting photo of papa's uncle's friend in his Bengal
uniform, an awfully well-taken photo of papa's grandfather's
partner's dog, and an awfully wicked one of papa as the
devil for a fancy-dress ball. At eight-thirty Jones had
examined seventy-one photographs. There were about
sixty-nine more that he hadn't. Jones rose.
"I must say good night now," he pleaded.
"Say good night!" they said, "why it's only half-past
eight! Have you anything to do?"
"Nothing," he admitted, and muttered something about
staying six weeks, and then laughed miserably.
Just then it turned out that the favourite child of the
family, such a dear little romp, had hidden Mr. Jones's
hat; so papa said that he must stay, and invited him to
a pipe and a chat. Papa had the pipe and gave Jones the
chat, and still he stayed. Every moment he meant to take
the plunge, but couldn't. Then papa began to get very
tired of Jones, and fidgeted and finally said, with
jocular irony, that Jones had better stay all night, they
could give him a shake-down. Jones mistook his meaning
and thanked him with tears in his eyes, and papa put
Jones to bed in the spare room and cursed him heartily.
After breakfast next day, papa went off to his work in the
City, and left Jones playing with the baby, broken-hearted.
His nerve was utterly gone. He was meaning to leave all day,
but the thing had got on his mind and he simply couldn't.
When papa came home in the evening he was surprised and
chagrined to find Jones still there. He thought to jockey
him out with a jest, and said he thought he'd have to charge
him for his board, he! he! The unhappy young man stared
wildly for a moment, then wrung papa's hand, paid him a
month's board in advance, and broke down and sobbed like
In the days that followed he was moody and unapproachable.
He lived, of course, entirely in the drawing-room, and
the lack of air and exercise began to tell sadly on his
health. He passed his time in drinking tea and looking
at the photographs. He would stand for hours gazing at
the photographs of papa's uncle's friend in his Bengal
uniform—talking to it, sometimes swearing bitterly at
it. His mind was visibly failing.
At length the crash came. They carried him upstairs in
a raging delirium of fever. The illness that followed
was terrible. He recognized no one, not even papa's
uncle's friend in his Bengal uniform. At times he would
start up from his bed and shriek, "Well, I think I…"
and then fall back upon the pillow with a horrible laugh.
Then, again, he would leap up and cry, "Another cup of
tea and more photographs! More photographs! Har! Har!"
At length, after a month of agony, on the last day of
his vacation, he passed away. They say that when the last
moment came, he sat up in bed with a beautiful smile of
confidence playing upon his face, and said, "Well—the
angels are calling me; I'm afraid I really must go now.
And the rushing of his spirit from its prison-house was
as rapid as a hunted cat passing over a garden fence.
A Christmas Letter
(In answer to a young lady who has sent an invitation to
be present at a children's party)
Allow me very gratefully but firmly to refuse your kind
invitation. You doubtless mean well; but your ideas are
Let us understand one another once and for all. I cannot
at my mature age participate in the sports of children
with such abandon as I could wish. I entertain, and have
always entertained, the sincerest regard for such games
as Hunt-the-Slipper and Blind-Man's Buff. But I have now
reached a time of life, when, to have my eyes blindfolded
and to have a powerful boy of ten hit me in the back with
a hobby-horse and ask me to guess who hit me, provokes
me to a fit of retaliation which could only culminate in
reckless criminality. Nor can I cover my shoulders with
a drawing-room rug and crawl round on my hands and knees
under the pretence that I am a bear without a sense of
personal insufficiency, which is painful to me.
Neither can I look on with a complacent eye at the sad
spectacle of your young clerical friend, the Reverend
Mr. Uttermost Farthing, abandoning himself to such gambols
and appearing in the role of life and soul of the evening.
Such a degradation of his holy calling grieves me, and
I cannot but suspect him of ulterior motives.
You inform me that your maiden aunt intends to help you
to entertain the party. I have not, as you know, the
honour of your aunt's acquaintance, yet I think I may
with reason surmise that she will organize games—guessing
games—in which she will ask me to name a river in Asia
beginning with a Z; on my failure to do so she will put
a hot plate down my neck as a forfeit, and the children
will clap their hands. These games, my dear young friend,
involve the use of a more adaptable intellect than mine,
and I cannot consent to be a party to them.
May I say in conclusion that I do not consider a five-cent
pen-wiper from the top branch of a Xmas tree any adequate
compensation for the kind of evening you propose.
I have the honour
To subscribe myself,
Your obedient servant.
How to Make a Million Dollars
I mix a good deal with the Millionaires. I like them. I
like their faces. I like the way they live. I like the
things they eat. The more we mix together the better I
like the things we mix.
Especially I like the way they dress, their grey check
trousers, their white check waist-coats, their heavy gold
chains, and the signet-rings that they sign their cheques
with. My! they look nice. Get six or seven of them sitting
together in the club and it's a treat to see them. And
if they get the least dust on them, men come and brush
it off. Yes, and are glad to. I'd like to take some of
the dust off them myself.
Even more than what they eat I like their intellectual
grasp. It is wonderful. Just watch them read. They simply
read all the time. Go into the club at any hour and you'll
see three or four of them at it. And the things they can
read! You'd think that a man who'd been driving hard in
the office from eleven o'clock until three, with only an
hour and a half for lunch, would be too fagged. Not a
bit. These men can sit down after office hours and read
the Sketch and the Police Gazette and the Pink Un, and
understand the jokes just as well as I can.
What I love to do is to walk up and down among them and
catch the little scraps of conversation. The other day
I heard one lean forward and say, "Well, I offered him
a million and a half and said I wouldn't give a cent
more, he could either take it or leave it—" I just longed
to break in and say, "What! what! a million and a half!
Oh! say that again! Offer it to me, to either take it or
leave it. Do try me once: I know I can: or here, make it
a plain million and let's call it done."
Not that these men are careless over money. No, sir.
Don't think it. Of course they don't take much account
of big money, a hundred thousand dollars at a shot or
anything of that sort. But little money. You've no idea
till you know them how anxious they get about a cent, or
half a cent, or less.
Why, two of them came into the club the other night just
frantic with delight: they said wheat had risen and they'd
cleaned up four cents each in less than half an hour.
They bought a dinner for sixteen on the strength of it.
I don't understand it. I've often made twice as much as
that writing for the papers and never felt like boasting
One night I heard one man say, "Well, let's call up New
York and offer them a quarter of a cent." Great heavens!
Imagine paying the cost of calling up New York, nearly
five million people, late at night and offering them a
quarter of a cent! And yet—did New York get mad? No,
they took it. Of course it's high finance. I don't pretend
to understand it. I tried after that to call up Chicago
and offer it a cent and a half, and to call up Hamilton,
Ontario, and offer it half a dollar, and the operator
only thought I was crazy.
All this shows, of course, that I've been studying how
the millionaires do it. I have. For years. I thought it
might be helpful to young men just beginning to work and
anxious to stop.
You know, many a man realizes late in life that if when
he was a boy he had known what he knows now, instead of
being what he is he might be what he won't; but how few
boys stop to think that if they knew what they don't know
instead of being what they will be, they wouldn't be?
These are awful thoughts.
At any rate, I've been gathering hints on how it is they
One thing I'm sure about. If a young man wants to make
a million dollars he's got to be mighty careful about
his diet and his living. This may seem hard. But success
is only achieved with pains.
There is no use in a young man who hopes to make a million
dollars thinking he's entitled to get up at 7.30, eat
force and poached eggs, drink cold water at lunch, and
go to bed at 10 p.m. You can't do it. I've seen too many
millionaires for that. If you want to be a millionaire
you mustn't get up till ten in the morning. They never
do. They daren't. It would be as much as their business
is worth if they were seen on the street at half-past
And the old idea of abstemiousness is all wrong. To be
a millionaire you need champagne, lots of it and all the
time. That and Scotch whisky and soda: you have to sit
up nearly all night and drink buckets of it. This is what
clears the brain for business next day. I've seen some
of these men with their brains so clear in the morning,
that their faces look positively boiled.
To live like this requires, of course, resolution. But
you can buy that by the pint.
Therefore, my dear young man, if you want to get moved
on from your present status in business, change your
life. When your landlady brings your bacon and eggs for
breakfast, throw them out of window to the dog and tell
her to bring you some chilled asparagus and a pint of
Moselle. Then telephone to your employer that you'll be
down about eleven o'clock. You will get moved on. Yes,
Just how the millionaires make the money is a difficult
question. But one way is this. Strike the town with five
cents in your pocket. They nearly all do this; they've
told me again and again (men with millions and millions)
that the first time they struck town they had only five
cents. That seems to have given them their start. Of
course, it's not easy to do. I've tried it several times.
I nearly did it once. I borrowed five cents, carried it
away out of town, and then turned and came back at the
town with an awful rush. If I hadn't struck a beer saloon
in the suburbs and spent the five cents I might have been
Another good plan is to start something. Something on a
huge scale: something nobody ever thought of. For instance,
one man I know told me that once he was down in Mexico
without a cent (he'd lost his five in striking Central
America) and he noticed that they had no power plants.
So he started some and made a mint of money. Another man
that I know was once stranded in New York, absolutely
without a nickel. Well, it occurred to him that what was
needed were buildings ten stories higher than any that
had been put up. So he built two and sold them right
away. Ever so many millionaires begin in some such simple
way as that.
There is, of course, a much easier way than any of these.
I almost hate to tell this, because I want to do it
I learned of it just by chance one night at the club.
There is one old man there, extremely rich, with one of
the best faces of the lot, just like a hyena. I never
used to know how he had got so rich. So one evening I
asked one of the millionaires how old Bloggs had made
all his money.
"How he made it?" he answered with a sneer. "Why he made
it by taking it out of widows and orphans."
Widows and orphans! I thought, what an excellent idea.
But who would have suspected that they had it?
"And how," I asked pretty cautiously, "did he go at it
to get it out of them?"
"Why," the man answered, "he just ground them under his
heels, that was how."
Now isn't that simple? I've thought of that conversation
often since and I mean to try it. If I can get hold of
them, I'll grind them quick enough. But how to get them.
Most of the widows I know look pretty solid for that sort
of thing, and as for orphans, it must take an awful lot
of them. Meantime I am waiting, and if I ever get a large
bunch of orphans all together, I'll stamp on them and
I find, too, on inquiry, that you can also grind it out
of clergymen. They say they grind nicely. But perhaps
orphans are easier.
How to Live to be 200
Twenty years ago I knew a man called Jiggins, who had
the Health Habit.
He used to take a cold plunge every morning. He said it
opened his pores. After it he took a hot sponge. He said
it closed the pores. He got so that he could open and
shut his pores at will.
Jiggins used to stand and breathe at an open window for
half an hour before dressing. He said it expanded his
lungs. He might, of course, have had it done in a shoe-store
with a boot stretcher, but after all it cost him nothing
this way, and what is half an hour?
After he had got his undershirt on, Jiggins used to hitch
himself up like a dog in harness and do Sandow exercises.
He did them forwards, backwards, and hind-side up.
He could have got a job as a dog anywhere. He spent all
his time at this kind of thing. In his spare time at the
office, he used to lie on his stomach on the floor and
see if he could lift himself up with his knuckles. If he
could, then he tried some other way until he found one
that he couldn't do. Then he would spend the rest of his
lunch hour on his stomach, perfectly happy.
In the evenings in his room he used to lift iron bars,
cannon-balls, heave dumb-bells, and haul himself up to
the ceiling with his teeth. You could hear the thumps
half a mile. He liked it.
He spent half the night slinging himself around his room.
He said it made his brain clear. When he got his brain
perfectly clear, he went to bed and slept. As soon as he
woke, he began clearing it again.
Jiggins is dead. He was, of course, a pioneer, but the
fact that he dumb-belled himself to death at an early
age does not prevent a whole generation of young men from
following in his path.
They are ridden by the Health Mania.
They make themselves a nuisance.
They get up at impossible hours. They go out in silly
little suits and run Marathon heats before breakfast.
They chase around barefoot to get the dew on their feet.
They hunt for ozone. They bother about pepsin. They won't
eat meat because it has too much nitrogen. They won't
eat fruit because it hasn't any. They prefer albumen and
starch and nitrogen to huckleberry pie and doughnuts.
They won't drink water out of a tap. They won't eat
sardines out of a can. They won't use oysters out of a
pail. They won't drink milk out of a glass. They are
afraid of alcohol in any shape. Yes, sir, afraid. "Cowards."
And after all their fuss they presently incur some simple
old-fashioned illness and die like anybody else.
Now people of this sort have no chance to attain any
great age. They are on the wrong track.
Listen. Do you want to live to be really old, to enjoy
a grand, green, exuberant, boastful old age and to make
yourself a nuisance to your whole neighbourhood with your
Then cut out all this nonsense. Cut it out. Get up in
the morning at a sensible hour. The time to get up is
when you have to, not before. If your office opens at
eleven, get up at ten-thirty. Take your chance on ozone.
There isn't any such thing anyway. Or, if there is, you
can buy a Thermos bottle full for five cents, and put it
on a shelf in your cupboard. If your work begins at seven
in the morning, get up at ten minutes to, but don't be
liar enough to say that you like it. It isn't exhilarating,
and you know it.
Also, drop all that cold-bath business. You never did it
when you were a boy. Don't be a fool now. If you must
take a bath (you don't really need to), take it warm.
The pleasure of getting out of a cold bed and creeping
into a hot bath beats a cold plunge to death. In any
case, stop gassing about your tub and your "shower," as
if you were the only man who ever washed.
So much for that point.
Next, take the question of germs and bacilli. Don't be
scared of them. That's all. That's the whole thing, and
if you once get on to that you never need to worry again.
If you see a bacilli, walk right up to it, and look it
in the eye. If one flies into your room, strike at it
with your hat or with a towel. Hit it as hard as you can
between the neck and the thorax. It will soon get sick
But as a matter of fact, a bacilli is perfectly quiet
and harmless if you are not afraid of it. Speak to it.
Call out to it to "lie down." It will understand. I had
a bacilli once, called Fido, that would come and lie at
my feet while I was working. I never knew a more
affectionate companion, and when it was run over by an
automobile, I buried it in the garden with genuine sorrow.
(I admit this is an exaggeration. I don't really remember
its name; it may have been Robert.)
Understand that it is only a fad of modern medicine to
say that cholera and typhoid and diphtheria are caused
by bacilli and germs; nonsense. Cholera is caused by a
frightful pain in the stomach, and diphtheria is caused
by trying to cure a sore throat.
Now take the question of food.
Eat what you want. Eat lots of it. Yes, eat too much of
it. Eat till you can just stagger across the room with
it and prop it up against a sofa cushion. Eat everything
that you like until you can't eat any more. The only test
is, can you pay for it? If you can't pay for it, don't
eat it. And listen—don't worry as to whether your food
contains starch, or albumen, or gluten, or nitrogen. If
you are a damn fool enough to want these things, go and
buy them and eat all you want of them. Go to a laundry
and get a bag of starch, and eat your fill of it. Eat
it, and take a good long drink of glue after it, and a
spoonful of Portland cement. That will gluten you, good
If you like nitrogen, go and get a druggist to give you
a canful of it at the soda counter, and let you sip it
with a straw. Only don't think that you can mix all these
things up with your food. There isn't any nitrogen or
phosphorus or albumen in ordinary things to eat. In any
decent household all that sort of stuff is washed out in
the kitchen sink before the food is put on the table.
And just one word about fresh air and exercise. Don't
bother with either of them. Get your room full of good
air, then shut up the windows and keep it. It will keep
for years. Anyway, don't keep using your lungs all the
time. Let them rest. As for exercise, if you have to take
it, take it and put up with it. But as long as you have
the price of a hack and can hire other people to play
baseball for you and run races and do gymnastics when
you sit in the shade and smoke and watch them—great
heavens, what more do you want?
How to Avoid Getting Married
Some years ago, when I was the Editor of a Correspondence
Column, I used to receive heart-broken letters from young
men asking for advice and sympathy. They found themselves
the object of marked attentions from girls which they
scarcely knew how to deal with. They did not wish to give
pain or to seem indifferent to a love which they felt
was as ardent as it was disinterested, and yet they felt
that they could not bestow their hands where their hearts
had not spoken. They wrote to me fully and frankly, and
as one soul might write to another for relief. I accepted
their confidences as under the pledge of a secrecy, never
divulging their disclosures beyond the circulation of my
newspapers, or giving any hint of their identity other
than printing their names and addresses and their letters
in full. But I may perhaps without dishonour reproduce
one of these letters, and my answer to it, inasmuch as
the date is now months ago, and the softening hand of
Time has woven its roses—how shall I put it?—the mellow
haze of reminiscences has—what I mean is that the young
man has gone back to work and is all right again.
Here then is a letter from a young man whose name I must
not reveal, but whom I will designate as D. F., and whose
address I must not divulge, but will simply indicate as
Q. Street, West.
"DEAR MR. LEACOCK,
"For some time past I have been the recipient of very
marked attentions from a young lady. She has been calling
at the house almost every evening, and has taken me out
in her motor, and invited me to concerts and the theatre.
On these latter occasions I have insisted on her taking
my father with me, and have tried as far as possible to
prevent her saying anything to me which would be unfit
for father to hear. But my position has become a very
difficult one. I do not think it right to accept her
presents when I cannot feel that my heart is hers.
Yesterday she sent to my house a beautiful bouquet of
American Beauty roses addressed to me, and a magnificent
bunch of Timothy Hay for father. I do not know what to
say. Would it be right for father to keep all this valuable
hay? I have confided fully in father, and we have discussed
the question of presents. He thinks that there are some
that we can keep with propriety, and others that a sense
of delicacy forbids us to retain. He himself is going to
sort out the presents into the two classes. He thinks
that as far as he can see, the Hay is in class B. Meantime
I write to you, as I understand that Miss Laura Jean
Libby and Miss Beatrix Fairfax are on their vacation,
and in any case a friend of mine who follows their writings
closely tells me that they are always full.
"I enclose a dollar, because I do not think it right to
ask you to give all your valuable time and your best
thought without giving you back what it is worth."
On receipt of this I wrote back at once a private and
confidential letter which I printed in the following
edition of the paper.
"MY DEAR, DEAR BOY,
"Your letter has touched me. As soon as I opened it and
saw the green and blue tint of the dollar bill which you
had so daintily and prettily folded within the pages of
your sweet letter, I knew that the note was from someone
that I could learn to love, if our correspondence were
to continue as it had begun. I took the dollar from your
letter and kissed and fondled it a dozen times. Dear
unknown boy! I shall always keep that dollar! No matter
how much I may need it, or how many necessaries, yes,
absolute necessities, of life I may be wanting, I shall
always keep THAT dollar. Do you understand, dear? I shall
keep it. I shall not spend it. As far as the USE of it
goes, it will be just as if you had not sent it. Even if
you were to send me another dollar, I should still keep
the first one, so that no matter how many you sent, the
recollection of one first friendship would not be
contaminated with mercenary considerations. When I say
dollar, darling, of course an express order, or a postal
note, or even stamps would be all the same. But in that
case do not address me in care of this office, as I should
not like to think of your pretty little letters lying
round where others might handle them.
"But now I must stop chatting about myself, for I know
that you cannot be interested in a simple old fogey such
as I am. Let me talk to you about your letter and about
the difficult question it raises for all marriageable
"In the first place, let me tell you how glad I am that
you confide in your father. Whatever happens, go at once
to your father, put your arms about his neck, and have
a good cry together. And you are right, too, about
presents. It needs a wiser head than my poor perplexed
boy to deal with them. Take them to your father to be
sorted, or, if you feel that you must not overtax his
love, address them to me in your own pretty hand.
"And now let us talk, dear, as one heart to another.
Remember always that if a girl is to have your heart she
must be worthy of you. When you look at your own bright
innocent face in the mirror, resolve that you will give
your hand to no girl who is not just as innocent as you
are and no brighter than yourself. So that you must first
find out how innocent she is. Ask her quietly and
frankly—remember, dear, that the days of false modesty
are passing away—whether she has ever been in jail. If
she has not (and if YOU have not), then you know that
you are dealing with a dear confiding girl who will make
you a life mate. Then you must know, too, that her mind
is worthy of your own. So many men to-day are led astray
by the merely superficial graces and attractions of girls
who in reality possess no mental equipment at all. Many
a man is bitterly disillusioned after marriage when he
realises that his wife cannot solve a quadratic equation,
and that he is compelled to spend all his days with a
woman who does not know that X squared plus 2XY plus Y
squared is the same thing, or, I think nearly the same
thing, as X plus Y squared.
"Nor should the simple domestic virtues be neglected. If
a girl desires to woo you, before allowing her to press
her suit, ask her if she knows how to press yours. If
she can, let her woo; if not, tell her to whoa. But I
see I have written quite as much as I need for this
column. Won't you write again, just as before, dear boy?
How to be a Doctor
Certainly the progress of science is a wonderful thing.
One can't help feeling proud of it. I must admit that I
do. Whenever I get talking to anyone—that is, to anyone
who knows even less about it than I do—about the marvellous
development of electricity, for instance, I feel as if
I had been personally responsible for it. As for the
linotype and the aeroplane and the vacuum house-cleaner,
well, I am not sure that I didn't invent them myself. I
believe that all generous-hearted men feel just the same
way about it.
However, that is not the point I am intending to discuss.
What I want to speak about is the progress of medicine.
There, if you like, is something wonderful. Any lover of
humanity (or of either sex of it) who looks back on the
achievements of medical science must feel his heart glow
and his right ventricle expand with the pericardiac
stimulus of a permissible pride.
Just think of it. A hundred years ago there were no
bacilli, no ptomaine poisoning, no diphtheria, and no
appendicitis. Rabies was but little known, and only
imperfectly developed. All of these we owe to medical
science. Even such things as psoriasis and parotitis and
trypanosomiasis, which are now household names, were
known only to the few, and were quite beyond the reach
of the great mass of the people.
Or consider the advance of the science on its practical
side. A hundred years ago it used to be supposed that
fever could be cured by the letting of blood; now we know
positively that it cannot. Even seventy years ago it was
thought that fever was curable by the administration of
sedative drugs; now we know that it isn't. For the matter
of that, as recently as thirty years ago, doctors thought
that they could heal a fever by means of low diet and
the application of ice; now they are absolutely certain
that they cannot. This instance shows the steady progress
made in the treatment of fever. But there has been the
same cheering advance all along the line. Take rheumatism.
A few generations ago people with rheumatism used to have
to carry round potatoes in their pockets as a means of
cure. Now the doctors allow them to carry absolutely
anything they like. They may go round with their pockets
full of water-melons if they wish to. It makes no
difference. Or take the treatment of epilepsy. It used
to be supposed that the first thing to do in sudden
attacks of this kind was to unfasten the patient's collar
and let him breathe; at present, on the contrary, many
doctors consider it better to button up the patient's
collar and let him choke.
In only one respect has there been a decided lack of
progress in the domain of medicine, that is in the time
it takes to become a qualified practitioner. In the good
old days a man was turned out thoroughly equipped after
putting in two winter sessions at a college and spending
his summers in running logs for a sawmill. Some of the
students were turned out even sooner. Nowadays it takes
anywhere from five to eight years to become a doctor. Of
course, one is willing to grant that our young men are
growing stupider and lazier every year. This fact will
be corroborated at once by any man over fifty years of
age. But even when this is said it seems odd that a man
should study eight years now to learn what he used to
acquire in eight months.
However, let that go. The point I want to develop is that
the modern doctor's business is an extremely simple one,
which could be acquired in about two weeks. This is the
way it is done.
The patient enters the consulting-room. "Doctor," he
says, "I have a bad pain." "Where is it?" "Here." "Stand
up," says the doctor, "and put your arms up above your
head." Then the doctor goes behind the patient and strikes
him a powerful blow in the back. "Do you feel that," he
says. "I do," says the patient. Then the doctor turns
suddenly and lets him have a left hook under the heart.
"Can you feel that," he says viciously, as the patient
falls over on the sofa in a heap. "Get up," says the
doctor, and counts ten. The patient rises. The doctor
looks him over very carefully without speaking, and then
suddenly fetches him a blow in the stomach that doubles
him up speechless. The doctor walks over to the window
and reads the morning paper for a while. Presently he
turns and begins to mutter more to himself than the
patient. "Hum!" he says, "there's a slight anaesthesia
of the tympanum." "Is that so?" says the patient, in an
agony of fear. "What can I do about it, doctor?" "Well,"
says the doctor, "I want you to keep very quiet; you'll
have to go to bed and stay there and keep quiet." In
reality, of course, the doctor hasn't the least idea what
is wrong with the man; but he DOES know that if he will
go to bed and keep quiet, awfully quiet, he'll either
get quietly well again or else die a quiet death. Meantime,
if the doctor calls every morning and thumps and beats
him, he can keep the patient submissive and perhaps force
him to confess what is wrong with him.
"What about diet, doctor?" says the patient, completely
The answer to this question varies very much. It depends
on how the doctor is feeling and whether it is long since
he had a meal himself. If it is late in the morning and
the doctor is ravenously hungry, he says: "Oh, eat plenty,
don't be afraid of it; eat meat, vegetables, starch,
glue, cement, anything you like." But if the doctor has
just had lunch and if his breathing is short-circuited
with huckleberry-pie, he says very firmly: "No, I don't
want you to eat anything at all: absolutely not a bite;
it won't hurt you, a little self-denial in the matter of
eating is the best thing in the world."
"And what about drinking?" Again the doctor's answer
varies. He may say: "Oh, yes, you might drink a glass of
lager now and then, or, if you prefer it, a gin and soda
or a whisky and Apollinaris, and I think before going to
bed I'd take a hot Scotch with a couple of lumps of white
sugar and bit of lemon-peel in it and a good grating of
nutmeg on the top." The doctor says this with real feeling,
and his eye glistens with the pure love of his profession.
But if, on the other hand, the doctor has spent the night
before at a little gathering of medical friends, he is
very apt to forbid the patient to touch alcohol in any
shape, and to dismiss the subject with great severity.
Of course, this treatment in and of itself would appear
too transparent, and would fail to inspire the patient
with a proper confidence. But nowadays this element is
supplied by the work of the analytical laboratory. Whatever
is wrong with the patient, the doctor insists on snipping
off parts and pieces and extracts of him and sending them
mysteriously away to be analysed. He cuts off a lock of
the patient's hair, marks it, "Mr. Smith's Hair, October,
1910." Then he clips off the lower part of the ear, and
wraps it in paper, and labels it, "Part of Mr. Smith's
Ear, October, 1910." Then he looks the patient up and
down, with the scissors in his hand, and if he sees any
likely part of him he clips it off and wraps it up. Now
this, oddly enough, is the very thing that fills the
patient up with that sense of personal importance which
is worth paying for. "Yes," says the bandaged patient,
later in the day to a group of friends much impressed,
"the doctor thinks there may be a slight anaesthesia of
the prognosis, but he's sent my ear to New York and my
appendix to Baltimore and a lock of my hair to the editors
of all the medical journals, and meantime I am to keep
very quiet and not exert myself beyond drinking a hot
Scotch with lemon and nutmeg every half-hour." With that
he sinks back faintly on his cushions, luxuriously happy.
And yet, isn't it funny?
You and I and the rest of us—even if we know all this—as
soon as we have a pain within us, rush for a doctor as
fast as a hack can take us. Yes, personally, I even prefer
an ambulance with a bell on it. It's more soothing.
The New Food
I see from the current columns of the daily press that
"Professor Plumb, of the University of Chicago, has just
invented a highly concentrated form of food. All the
essential nutritive elements are put together in the form
of pellets, each of which contains from one to two hundred
times as much nourishment as an ounce of an ordinary
article of diet. These pellets, diluted with water, will
form all that is necessary to support life. The professor
looks forward confidently to revolutionizing the present
Now this kind of thing may be all very well in its way,
but it is going to have its drawbacks as well. In the
bright future anticipated by Professor Plumb, we can
easily imagine such incidents as the following:
The smiling family were gathered round the hospitable
board. The table was plenteously laid with a soup-plate
in front of each beaming child, a bucket of hot water
before the radiant mother, and at the head of the board
the Christmas dinner of the happy home, warmly covered
by a thimble and resting on a poker chip. The expectant
whispers of the little ones were hushed as the father,
rising from his chair, lifted the thimble and disclosed
a small pill of concentrated nourishment on the chip
before him. Christmas turkey, cranberry sauce, plum
pudding, mince pie—it was all there, all jammed into
that little pill and only waiting to expand. Then the
father with deep reverence, and a devout eye alternating
between the pill and heaven, lifted his voice in a
At this moment there was an agonized cry from the mother.
"Oh, Henry, quick! Baby has snatched the pill!" It was
too true. Dear little Gustavus Adolphus, the golden-haired
baby boy, had grabbed the whole Christmas dinner off the
poker chip and bolted it. Three hundred and fifty pounds
of concentrated nourishment passed down the oesophagus
of the unthinking child.
"Clap him on the back!" cried the distracted mother.
"Give him water!"
The idea was fatal. The water striking the pill caused
it to expand. There was a dull rumbling sound and then,
with an awful bang, Gustavus Adolphus exploded into
And when they gathered the little corpse together, the
baby lips were parted in a lingering smile that could
only be worn by a child who had eaten thirteen Christmas
A New Pathology
It has long been vaguely understood that the condition
of a man's clothes has a certain effect upon the health
of both body and mind. The well-known proverb, "Clothes
make the man" has its origin in a general recognition of
the powerful influence of the habiliments in their reaction
upon the wearer. The same truth may be observed in the
facts of everyday life. On the one hand we remark the
bold carriage and mental vigour of a man attired in a
new suit of clothes; on the other hand we note the
melancholy features of him who is conscious of a posterior
patch, or the haunted face of one suffering from internal
loss of buttons. But while common observation thus gives
us a certain familiarity with a few leading facts regarding
the ailments and influence of clothes, no attempt has as
yet been made to reduce our knowledge to a systematic
form. At the same time the writer feels that a valuable
addition might be made to the science of medicine in this
direction. The numerous diseases which are caused by this
fatal influence should receive a scientific analysis,
and their treatment be included among the principles of
the healing art. The diseases of the clothes may roughly
be divided into medical cases and surgical cases, while
these again fall into classes according to the particular
garment through which the sufferer is attacked.
Probably no article of apparel is so liable to a diseased
condition as the trousers. It may be well, therefore, to
treat first those maladies to which they are subject.
I. Contractio Pantalunae, or Shortening of the Legs of
the Trousers, an extremely painful malady most frequently
found in the growing youth. The first symptom is the
appearance of a yawning space (lacuna) above the boots,
accompanied by an acute sense of humiliation and a morbid
anticipation of mockery. The application of treacle to
the boots, although commonly recommended, may rightly be
condemned as too drastic a remedy. The use of boots
reaching to the knee, to be removed only at night, will
afford immediate relief. In connection with Contractio
is often found—
II. Inflatio Genu, or Bagging of the Knees of the Trousers,
a disease whose symptoms are similar to those above. The
patient shows an aversion to the standing posture, and,
in acute cases, if the patient be compelled to stand,
the head is bent and the eye fixed with painful rigidity
upon the projecting blade formed at the knee of the
In both of the above diseases anything that can be done
to free the mind of the patient from a morbid sense of
his infirmity will do much to improve the general tone
of the system.
III. Oases, or Patches, are liable to break out anywhere
on the trousers, and range in degree of gravity from
those of a trifling nature to those of a fatal character.
The most distressing cases are those where the patch
assumes a different colour from that of the trousers
(dissimilitas coloris). In this instance the mind of the
patient is found to be in a sadly aberrated condition.
A speedy improvement may, however, be effected by cheerful
society, books, flowers, and, above all, by a complete
IV. The overcoat is attacked by no serious disorders,
Phosphorescentia, or Glistening, a malady which indeed
may often be observed to affect the whole system. It is
caused by decay of tissue from old age and is generally
aggravated by repeated brushing. A peculiar feature of
the complaint is the lack of veracity on the part of the
patient in reference to the cause of his uneasiness.
Another invariable symptom is his aversion to outdoor
exercise; under various pretexts, which it is the duty
of his medical adviser firmly to combat, he will avoid
even a gentle walk in the streets.
V. Of the waistcoat science recognizes but one disease—
Porriggia, an affliction caused by repeated spilling of
porridge. It is generally harmless, chiefly owing to the
mental indifference of the patient. It can be successfully
treated by repeated fomentations of benzine.
VI. Mortificatio Tilis, or Greenness of the Hat, is a
disease often found in connection with Phosphorescentia
(mentioned above), and characterized by the same aversion
to outdoor life.
VII. Sterilitas, or Loss of Fur, is another disease of
the hat, especially prevalent in winter. It is not
accurately known whether this is caused by a falling out
of the fur or by a cessation of growth. In all diseases
of the hat the mind of the patient is greatly depressed
and his countenance stamped with the deepest gloom. He
is particularly sensitive in regard to questions as to
the previous history of the hat.
Want of space precludes the mention of minor diseases,
VIII. Odditus Soccorum, or oddness of the socks, a thing
in itself trifling, but of an alarming nature if met in
combination with Contractio Pantalunae. Cases are found
where the patient, possibly on the public platform or at
a social gathering, is seized with a consciousness of
the malady so suddenly as to render medical assistance
It is impossible to mention more than a few of the most
typical cases of diseases of this sort.
I. Explosio, or Loss of Buttons, is the commonest malady
demanding surgical treatment. It consists of a succession
of minor fractures, possibly internal, which at first
excite no alarm. A vague sense of uneasiness is presently
felt, which often leads the patient to seek relief in
the string habit—a habit which, if unduly indulged in,
may assume the proportions of a ruling passion. The use
of sealing-wax, while admirable as a temporary remedy
for Explosio, should never be allowed to gain a permanent
hold upon the system. There is no doubt that a persistent
indulgence in the string habit, or the constant use of
sealing-wax, will result in—
II. Fractura Suspendorum, or Snapping of the Braces,
which amounts to a general collapse of the system. The
patient is usually seized with a severe attack of explosio,
followed by a sudden sinking feeling and sense of loss.
A sound constitution may rally from the shock, but a
system undermined by the string habit invariably succumbs.
III. Sectura Pantalunae, or Ripping of the Trousers, is
generally caused by sitting upon warm beeswax or leaning
against a hook. In the case of the very young it is not
unfrequently accompanied by a distressing suppuration of
the shirt. This, however, is not remarked in adults. The
malady is rather mental than bodily, the mind of the
patient being racked by a keen sense of indignity and a
feeling of unworthiness. The only treatment is immediate
isolation, with a careful stitching of the affected part.
In conclusion, it may be stated that at the first symptom
of disease the patient should not hesitate to put himself
in the hands of a professional tailor. In so brief a
compass as the present article the discussion has of
necessity been rather suggestive than exhaustive. Much
yet remains to be done, and the subject opens wide to
the inquiring eye. The writer will, however, feel amply
satisfied if this brief outline may help to direct the
attention of medical men to what is yet an unexplored
The Poet Answered
In answer to your repeated questions and requests which
have appeared for some years past in the columns of the
rural press, I beg to submit the following solutions of
your chief difficulties:—
Topic I.—You frequently ask, where are the friends of
your childhood, and urge that they shall be brought back
to you. As far as I am able to learn, those of your
friends who are not in jail are still right there in your
native village. You point out that they were wont to
share your gambols. If so, you are certainly entitled to
have theirs now.
Topic II.—You have taken occasion to say:
"Give me not silk, nor rich attire,
Nor gold, nor jewels rare."
But, my dear fellow, this is preposterous. Why, these
are the very things I had bought for you. If you won't
take any of these, I shall have to give you factory cotton
Topic III.—You also ask, "How fares my love across the
sea?" Intermediate, I presume. She would hardly travel
Topic IV.—"Why was I born? Why should I breathe?" Here
I quite agree with you. I don't think you ought to breathe.
Topic V.—You demand that I shall show you the man whose
soul is dead and then mark him. I am awfully sorry; the
man was around here all day yesterday, and if I had only
known I could easily have marked him so that we could
pick him out again.
Topic VI.—I notice that you frequently say, "Oh, for
the sky of your native land." Oh, for it, by all means,
if you wish. But remember that you already owe for a
Topic VII.—On more than one occasion you wish to be
informed, "What boots it, that you idly dream?" Nothing
boots it at present—a fact, sir, which ought to afford
you the highest gratification.
The Force of Statistics
They were sitting on a seat of the car, immediately in
front of me. I was consequently able to hear all that
they were saying. They were evidently strangers who had
dropped into a conversation. They both had the air of
men who considered themselves profoundly interesting as
minds. It was plain that each laboured under the impression
that he was a ripe thinker.
One had just been reading a book which lay in his lap.
"I've been reading some very interesting statistics," he
was saying to the other thinker.
"Ah, statistics" said the other; "wonderful things, sir,
statistics; very fond of them myself."
"I find, for instance," the first man went on, "that a
drop of water is filled with little…with little…I
forget just what you call them…little—er—things,
every cubic inch containing—er—containing…let me
"Say a million," said the other thinker, encouragingly.
"Yes, a million, or possibly a billion…but at any
rate, ever so many of them."
"Is it possible?" said the other. "But really, you know
there are wonderful things in the world. Now, coal…take
"Very, good," said his friend, "let us take coal," settling
back in his seat with the air of an intellect about to
"Do you know that every ton of coal burnt in an engine
will drag a train of cars as long as…I forget the
exact length, but say a train of cars of such and such
a length, and weighing, say so much…from…from…hum!
for the moment the exact distance escapes me…drag it
"From here to the moon," suggested the other.
"Ah, very likely; yes, from here to the moon. Wonderful,
"But the most stupendous calculation of all, sir, is in
regard to the distance from the earth to the sun.
Positively, sir, a cannon-ball—er—fired at the sun…"
"Fired at the sun," nodded the other, approvingly, as if
he had often seen it done.
"And travelling at the rate of…of…"
"Of three cents a mile," hinted the listener.
"No, no, you misunderstand me,—but travelling at a fearful
rate, simply fearful, sir, would take a hundred million—no,
a hundred billion—in short would take a scandalously long
time in getting there—"
At this point I could stand no more. I interrupted—"Provided
it were fired from Philadelphia," I said, and passed into the
Men Who have Shaved Me
A barber is by nature and inclination a sport. He can
tell you at what exact hour the ball game of the day is
to begin, can foretell its issue without losing a stroke
of the razor, and can explain the points of inferiority
of all the players, as compared with better men that he
has personally seen elsewhere, with the nicety of a
professional. He can do all this, and then stuff the
customer's mouth with a soap-brush, and leave him while
he goes to the other end of the shop to make a side bet
with one of the other barbers on the outcome of the Autumn
Handicap. In the barber-shops they knew the result of
the Jeffries-Johnson prize-fight long before it happened.
It is on information of this kind that they make their
living. The performance of shaving is only incidental to
it. Their real vocation in life is imparting information.
To the barber the outside world is made up of customers,
who are to be thrown into chairs, strapped, manacled,
gagged with soap, and then given such necessary information
on the athletic events of the moment as will carry them
through the business hours of the day without open
As soon as the barber has properly filled up the customer
with information of this sort, he rapidly removes his
whiskers as a sign that the man is now fit to talk to,
and lets him out of the chair.
The public has grown to understand the situation. Every
reasonable business man is willing to sit and wait half
an hour for a shave which he could give himself in three
minutes, because he knows that if he goes down town
without understanding exactly why Chicago lost two games
straight he will appear an ignoramus.
At times, of course, the barber prefers to test his
customer with a question or two. He gets him pinned in
the chair, with his head well back, covers the customer's
face with soap, and then planting his knee on his chest
and holding his hand firmly across the customer's mouth,
to prevent all utterance and to force him to swallow the
soap, he asks: "Well, what did you think of the Detroit-St.
Louis game yesterday?" This is not really meant for a
question at all. It is only equivalent to saying: "Now,
you poor fool, I'll bet you don't know anything about
the great events of your country at all." There is a
gurgle in the customer's throat as if he were trying to
answer, and his eyes are seen to move sideways, but the
barber merely thrusts the soap-brush into each eye, and
if any motion still persists, he breathes gin and peppermint
over the face, till all sign of life is extinct. Then he
talks the game over in detail with the barber at the next
chair, each leaning across an inanimate thing extended
under steaming towels that was once a man.
To know all these things barbers have to be highly
educated. It is true that some of the greatest barbers
that have ever lived have begun as uneducated, illiterate
men, and by sheer energy and indomitable industry have
forced their way to the front. But these are exceptions.
To succeed nowadays it is practically necessary to be a
college graduate. As the courses at Harvard and Yale have
been found too superficial, there are now established
regular Barbers' Colleges, where a bright young man can
learn as much in three weeks as he would be likely to
know after three years at Harvard. The courses at these
colleges cover such things as: (1) Physiology, including
Hair and its Destruction, The Origin and Growth of
Whiskers, Soap in its Relation to Eyesight; (2) Chemistry,
including lectures on Florida Water; and How to Make it
out of Sardine Oil; (3) Practical Anatomy, including The
Scalp and How to Lift it, The Ears and How to Remove
them, and, as the Major Course for advanced students,
The Veins of the Face and how to open and close them at
will by the use of alum.
The education of the customer is, as I have said, the
chief part of the barber's vocation. But it must be
remembered that the incidental function of removing his
whiskers in order to mark him as a well-informed man is
also of importance, and demands long practice and great
natural aptitude. In the barbers' shops of modern cities
shaving has been brought to a high degree of perfection.
A good barber is not content to remove the whiskers of
his client directly and immediately. He prefers to cook
him first. He does this by immersing the head in hot
water and covering the victim's face with steaming towels
until he has him boiled to a nice pink. From time to time
the barber removes the towels and looks at the face to
see if it is yet boiled pink enough for his satisfaction.
If it is not, he replaces the towels again and jams them
down firmly with his hand until the cooking is finished.
The final result, however, amply justifies this trouble,
and the well-boiled customer only needs the addition of
a few vegetables on the side to present an extremely
During the process of the shave, it is customary for the
barber to apply the particular kind of mental torture
known as the third degree. This is done by terrorizing
the patient as to the very evident and proximate loss
of all his hair and whiskers, which the barber is enabled
by his experience to foretell. "Your hair," he says, very
sadly and sympathetically, "is all falling out. Better
let me give you a shampoo?" "No." "Let me singe your hair
to close up the follicles?" "No." "Let me plug up the
ends of your hair with sealing-wax, it's the only thing
that will save it for you?" "No." "Let me rub an egg
on your scalp?" "No." "Let me squirt a lemon on your
The barber sees that he is dealing with a man of
determination, and he warms to his task. He bends low
and whispers into the prostrate ear: "You've got a good
many grey hairs coming in; better let me give you an
application of Hairocene, only cost you half a dollar?"
"No." "Your face," he whispers again, with a soft,
caressing voice, "is all covered with wrinkles; better
let me rub some of this Rejuvenator into the face."
This process is continued until one of two things happens.
Either the customer is obdurate, and staggers to his feet
at last and gropes his way out of the shop with the
knowledge that he is a wrinkled, prematurely senile man,
whose wicked life is stamped upon his face, and whose
unstopped hair-ends and failing follicles menace him with
the certainty of complete baldness within twenty-four
hours—or else, as in nearly all instances, he succumbs.
In the latter case, immediately on his saying "yes" there
is a shout of exultation from the barber, a roar of
steaming water, and within a moment two barbers have
grabbed him by the feet and thrown him under the tap,
and, in spite of his struggles, are giving him the
Hydro-magnetic treatment. When he emerges from their
hands, he steps out of the shop looking as if he had been
But even the application of the Hydro-magnetic and the
Rejuvenator do not by any means exhaust the resources of
the up-to-date barber. He prefers to perform on the
customer a whole variety of subsidiary services not
directly connected with shaving, but carried on during
the process of the shave.
In a good, up-to-date shop, while one man is shaving the
customer, others black his boots; brush his clothes, darn
his socks, point his nails, enamel his teeth, polish his
eyes, and alter the shape of any of his joints which they
think unsightly. During this operation they often stand
seven or eight deep round a customer, fighting for a
chance to get at him.
All of these remarks apply to barber-shops in the city, and
not to country places. In the country there is only one barber
and one customer at a time. The thing assumes the aspect of
a straight-out, rough-and-tumble, catch-as-catch-can fight,
with a few spectators sitting round the shop to see fair play.
In the city they can shave a man without removing any of his
clothes. But in the country, where the customer insists on
getting the full value for his money, they remove the collar
and necktie, the coat and the waistcoat, and, for a really
good shave and hair-cut, the customer is stripped to the
waist. The barber can then take a rush at him from the other
side of the room, and drive the clippers up the full length of
the spine, so as to come at the heavier hair on the back of
the head with the impact of a lawn-mower driven into long grass.
Getting the Thread of It
Have you ever had a man try to explain to you what happened
in a book as far as he has read? It is a most instructive
thing. Sinclair, the man who shares my rooms with me,
made such an attempt the other night. I had come in cold
and tired from a walk and found him full of excitement,
with a bulky magazine in one hand and a paper-cutter
gripped in the other.
"Say, here's a grand story," he burst out as soon as I
came in; "it's great! most fascinating thing I ever read.
Wait till I read you some of it. I'll just tell you what
has happened up to where I am—you'll easily catch the
thread of it—and then we'll finish it together."
I wasn't feeling in a very responsive mood, but I saw no
way to stop him, so I merely said, "All right, throw me
your thread, I'll catch it."
"Well," Sinclair began with great animation, "this count
gets this letter…"
"Hold on," I interrupted, "what count gets what letter?"
"Oh, the count it's about, you know. He gets this letter
from this Porphirio."
"From which Porphirio?"
"Why, Porphirio sent the letter, don't you see, he sent
it," Sinclair exclaimed a little impatiently—"sent it
through Demonio and told him to watch for him with him,
and kill him when he got him."
"Oh, see here!" I broke in, "who is to meet who, and who
is to get stabbed?"
"They're going to stab Demonio."
"And who brought the letter?"
"Well, now, Demonio must be a clam! What did he bring it
"Oh, but he don't know what's in it, that's just the slick
part of it," and Sinclair began to snigger to himself at
the thought of it. "You see, this Carlo Carlotti the
"Stop right there," I said. "What's a Condottiere?"
"It's a sort of brigand. He, you understand, was in league
with this Fra Fraliccolo…"
A suspicion flashed across my mind. "Look here," I said
firmly, "if the scene of this story is laid in the
Highlands, I refuse to listen to it. Call it off."
"No, no," Sinclair answered quickly, "that's all right.
It's laid in Italy…time of Pius the something. He
comes in—say, but he's great! so darned crafty. It's
him, you know, that persuades this Franciscan…"
"Pause," I said, "what Franciscan?"
"Fra Fraliccolo, of course," Sinclair said snappishly.
"You see, Pio tries to…"
"Whoa!" I said, "who is Pio?"
"Oh, hang it all, Pio is Italian, it's short for Pius.
He tries to get Fra Fraliccolo and Carlo Carlotti the
Condottiere to steal the document from…let me see;
what was he called?…Oh, yes…from the Dog of Venice,
so that…or…no, hang it, you put me out, that's all
wrong. It's the other way round. Pio wasn't clever at
all; he's a regular darned fool. It's the Dog that's
crafty. By Jove, he's fine," Sinclair went on; warming
up to enthusiasm again, "he just does anything he wants.
He makes this Demonio (Demonio is one of those hirelings,
you know, he's the tool of the Dog)…makes him steal
the document off Porphirio, and…"
"But how does he get him to do that?" I asked.
"Oh, the Dog has Demonio pretty well under his thumb, so
he makes Demonio scheme round till he gets old Pio—er—gets
him under his thumb, and then, of course, Pio thinks that
Porphirio—I mean he thinks that he has Porphirio—er—has
him under his thumb."
"Half a minute, Sinclair," I said, "who did you say was
under the Dog's thumb?"
"Thanks. I was mixed in the thumbs. Go on."
"Well, just when things are like this…"
"Like I said."
"Who should turn up and thwart the whole scheme, but this
Signorina Tarara in her domino…"
"Hully Gee!" I said, "you make my head ache. What the
deuce does she come in her domino for?"
"Why, to thwart it."
"To thwart what?"
"Thwart the whole darned thing," Sinclair exclaimed
"But can't she thwart it without her domino?"
"I should think not! You see, if it hadn't been for the
domino, the Dog would have spotted her quick as a wink.
Only when he sees her in the domino with this rose in
her hair, he thinks she must be Lucia dell' Esterolla."
"Say, he fools himself, doesn't he? Who's this last girl?"
"Lucia? Oh, she's great!" Sinclair said. "She's one of
those Southern natures, you know, full of—er—full of…"
"Full of fun," I suggested.
"Oh, hang it all, don't make fun of it! Well, anyhow,
she's sister, you understand, to the Contessa Carantarata,
and that's why Fra Fraliccolo, or…hold on, that's not
it, no, no, she's not sister to anybody. She's cousin,
that's it; or, anyway, she thinks she is cousin to Fra
Fraliccolo himself, and that's why Pio tries to stab Fra
"Oh, yes," I assented, "naturally he would."
"Ah," Sinclair said hopefully, getting his paper-cutter
ready to cut the next pages, "you begin to get the thread
now, don't you?"
"Oh, fine!" I said. "The people in it are the Dog and
Pio, and Carlo Carlotti the Condottiere, and those others
that we spoke of."
"That's right," Sinclair said. "Of course, there are more
still that I can tell you about if…"
"Oh, never mind," I said, "I'll work along with those,
they're a pretty representative crowd. Then Porphirio is
under Pio's thumb, and Pio is under Demonio's thumb, and
the Dog is crafty, and Lucia is full of something all
the time. Oh, I've got a mighty clear idea of it," I
"Oh, you've got it," Sinclair said, "I knew you'd like
it. Now we'll go on. I'll just finish to the bottom of
my page and then I'll go on aloud."
He ran his eyes rapidly over the lines till he came to
the bottom of the page, then he cut the leaves and turned
over. I saw his eye rest on the half-dozen lines that
confronted him on the next page with an expression of
"Well, I will be cursed!" he said at length.
"What's the matter?" I said gently, with a great joy at
"This infernal thing's a serial," he gasped, as he pointed
at the words, "To be continued," "and that's all there
is in this number."
Telling His Faults
"Oh, do, Mr. Sapling," said the beautiful girl at the
summer hotel, "do let me read the palm of your hand! I
can tell you all your faults."
Mr. Sapling gave an inarticulate gurgle and a roseate
flush swept over his countenance as he surrendered his
palm to the grasp of the fair enchantress.
"Oh, you're just full of faults, just full of them, Mr.
Sapling!" she cried.
Mr. Sapling looked it.
"To begin with," said the beautiful girl, slowly and
reflectingly, "you are dreadfully cynical: you hardly
believe in anything at all, and you've utterly no faith
in us poor women."
The feeble smile that had hitherto kindled the features
of Mr. Sapling into a ray of chastened imbecility, was
distorted in an effort at cynicism.
"Then your next fault is that you are too determined;
much too determined. When once you have set your will on
any object, you crush every obstacle under your feet."
Mr. Sapling looked meekly down at his tennis shoes, but
began to feel calmer, more lifted up. Perhaps he had been
all these things without knowing it.
"Then you are cold and sarcastic."
Mr. Sapling attempted to look cold and sarcastic. He
succeeded in a rude leer.
"And you're horribly world-weary, you care for nothing.
You have drained philosophy to the dregs, and scoff at
Mr. Sapling's inner feeling was that from now on he would
simply scoff and scoff and scoff.
"Your only redeeming quality is that you are generous.
You have tried to kill even this, but cannot. Yes,"
concluded the beautiful girl, "those are your faults,
generous still, but cold, cynical, and relentless. Good
night, Mr. Sapling."
And resisting all entreaties the beautiful girl passed
from the verandah of the hotel and vanished.
And when later in the evening the brother of the beautiful
girl borrowed Mr. Sapling's tennis racket, and his bicycle
for a fortnight, and the father of the beautiful girl
got Sapling to endorse his note for a couple of hundreds,
and her uncle Zephas borrowed his bedroom candle and used
his razor to cut up a plug of tobacco, Mr. Sapling felt
proud to be acquainted with the family.
It is in the depth of winter, when the intense cold
renders it desirable to stay at home, that the really
Pleasant Family is wont to serve invitations upon a few
friends to spend a Quiet Evening.
It is at these gatherings that that gay thing, the indoor
winter game, becomes rampant. It is there that the old
euchre deck and the staring domino become fair and
beautiful things; that the rattle of the Loto counter
rejoices the heart, that the old riddle feels the sap
stirring in its limbs again, and the amusing spilikin
completes the mental ruin of the jaded guest. Then does
the Jolly Maiden Aunt propound the query: What is the
difference between an elephant and a silk hat? Or declare
that her first is a vowel, her second a preposition, and
her third an archipelago. It is to crown such a quiet
evening, and to give the finishing stroke to those of
the visitors who have not escaped early, with a fierce
purpose of getting at the saloons before they have time
to close, that the indoor game or family reservoir of
fun is dragged from its long sleep. It is spread out upon
the table. Its paper of directions is unfolded. Its cards,
its counters, its pointers and its markers are distributed
around the table, and the visitor forces a look of reckless
pleasure upon his face. Then the "few simple directions"
are read aloud by the Jolly Aunt, instructing each
player to challenge the player holding the golden letter
corresponding to the digit next in order, to name a dead
author beginning with X, failing which the player must
declare himself in fault, and pay the forfeit of handing
over to the Jolly Aunt his gold watch and all his money,
or having a hot plate put down his neck.
With a view to bringing some relief to the guests at
entertainments of this kind, I have endeavoured to
construct one or two little winter pastimes of a novel
character. They are quite inexpensive, and as they need
no background of higher arithmetic or ancient history,
they are within reach of the humblest intellect. Here is
one of them. It is called Indoor Football, or Football
without a Ball.
In this game any number of players, from fifteen to
thirty, seat themselves in a heap on any one player,
usually the player next to the dealer. They then challenge
him to get up, while one player stands with a stop-watch
in his hand and counts forty seconds. Should the first
player fail to rise before forty seconds are counted,
the player with the watch declares him suffocated. This
is called a "Down" and counts one. The player who was
the Down is then leant against the wall; his wind is
supposed to be squeezed out. The player called the referee
then blows a whistle and the players select another player
and score a down off him. While the player is supposed
to be down, all the rest must remain seated as before,
and not rise from him until the referee by counting forty
and blowing his whistle announces that in his opinion
the other player is stifled. He is then leant against
the wall beside the first player. When the whistle again
blows the player nearest the referee strikes him behind
the right ear. This is a "Touch," and counts two.
It is impossible, of course, to give all the rules in
detail. I might add, however, that while it counts TWO
to strike the referee, to kick him counts THREE. To break
his arm or leg counts FOUR, and to kill him outright is
called GRAND SLAM and counts one game.
Here is another little thing that I have worked out,
which is superior to parlour games in that it combines
their intense excitement with sound out-of-door exercise.
It is easily comprehended, and can be played by any number
of players, old and young. It requires no other apparatus
than a trolley car of the ordinary type, a mile or two
of track, and a few thousand volts of electricity. It is
The Suburban Trolley Car
A Holiday Game for Old and Young.
The chief part in the game is taken by two players who
station themselves one at each end of the car, and who
adopt some distinctive costumes to indicate that they
are "it." The other players occupy the body of the car,
or take up their position at intervals along the track.
The object of each player should be to enter the car as
stealthily as possible in such a way as to escape the
notice of the players in distinctive dress. Should he
fail to do this he must pay the philopena or forfeit. Of
these there are two: philopena No. 1, the payment of five
cents, and philopena No. 2, being thrown off the car by
the neck. Each player may elect which philopena he will
pay. Any player who escapes paying the philopena scores
The players who are in the car may elect to adopt a
standing attitude, or to seat themselves, but no player
may seat himself in the lap of another without the second
player's consent. The object of those who elect to remain
standing is to place their feet upon the toes of those
who sit; when they do this they score. The object of
those who elect to sit is to elude the feet of the standing
players. Much merriment is thus occasioned.
The player in distinctive costume at the front of the
car controls a crank, by means of which he is enabled to
bring the car to a sudden stop, or to cause it to plunge
violently forward. His aim in so doing is to cause all
the standing players to fall over backward. Every time
he does this he scores. For this purpose he is generally
in collusion with the other player in distinctive costume,
whose business it is to let him know by a series of bells
and signals when the players are not looking, and can be
easily thrown down. A sharp fall of this sort gives rise
to no end of banter and good-natured drollery, directed
against the two players who are "it."
Should a player who is thus thrown backward save himself
from falling by sitting down in the lap of a female
player, he scores one. Any player who scores in this
manner is entitled to remain seated while he may count
six, after which he must remove himself or pay philopena
Should the player who controls the crank perceive a player
upon the street desirous of joining in the game by entering
the car, his object should be: primo, to run over him
and kill him; secundo, to kill him by any other means in
his power; tertio, to let him into the car, but to exact
the usual philopena.
Should a player, in thus attempting to get on the car
from without, become entangled in the machinery, the
player controlling the crank shouts "huff!" and the car
is supposed to pass over him. All within the car score
A fine spice of the ludicrous may be added to the game
by each player pretending that he has a destination or
stopping-place, where he would wish to alight. It now
becomes the aim of the two players who are "it" to carry
him past his point. A player who is thus carried beyond
his imaginary stopping-place must feign a violent passion,
and imitate angry gesticulations. He may, in addition,
feign a great age or a painful infirmity, which will be
found to occasion the most convulsive fun for the other
players in the game.
These are the main outlines of this most amusing pastime.
Many other agreeable features may, of course, be readily
introduced by persons of humour and imagination.
What I narrate was told me one winter's evening by my
friend Ah-Yen in the little room behind his laundry.
Ah-Yen is a quiet little celestial with a grave and
thoughtful face, and that melancholy contemplative
disposition so often noticed in his countrymen. Between
myself and Ah-Yen there exists a friendship of some years'
standing, and we spend many a long evening in the dimly
lighted room behind his shop, smoking a dreamy pipe
together and plunged in silent meditation. I am chiefly
attracted to my friend by the highly imaginative cast of
his mind, which is, I believe, a trait of the Eastern
character and which enables him to forget to a great
extent the sordid cares of his calling in an inner life
of his own creation. Of the keen, analytical side of his
mind, I was in entire ignorance until the evening of
which I write.
The room where we sat was small and dingy, with but little
furniture except our chairs and the little table at which
we filled and arranged our pipes, and was lighted only
by a tallow candle. There were a few pictures on the
walls, for the most part rude prints cut from the columns
of the daily press and pasted up to hide the bareness of
the room. Only one picture was in any way noticeable, a
portrait admirably executed in pen and ink. The face was
that of a young man, a very beautiful face, but one of
infinite sadness. I had long been aware, although I know
not how, that Ah-Yen had met with a great sorrow, and
had in some way connected the fact with this portrait.
I had always refrained, however, from asking him about
it, and it was not until the evening in question that I
knew its history.
We had been smoking in silence for some time when Ah-Yen
spoke. My friend is a man of culture and wide reading,
and his English is consequently perfect in its construction;
his speech is, of course, marked by the lingering liquid
accent of his country which I will not attempt to
"I see," he said, "that you have been examining the
portrait of my unhappy friend, Fifty-Six. I have never
yet told you of my bereavement, but as to-night is the
anniversary of his death, I would fain speak of him for
Ah-Yen paused; I lighted my pipe afresh, and nodded to
him to show that I was listening.
"I do not know," he went on, "at what precise time
Fifty-Six came into my life. I could indeed find it out
by examining my books, but I have never troubled to do
so. Naturally I took no more interest in him at first
than in any other of my customers—less, perhaps, since
he never in the course of our connection brought his
clothes to me himself but always sent them by a boy. When
I presently perceived that he was becoming one of my
regular customers, I allotted to him his number, Fifty-Six,
and began to speculate as to who and what he was. Before
long I had reached several conclusions in regard to my
unknown client. The quality of his linen showed me that,
if not rich, he was at any rate fairly well off. I could
see that he was a young man of regular Christian life,
who went out into society to a certain extent; this I
could tell from his sending the same number of articles
to the laundry, from his washing always coming on Saturday
night, and from the fact that he wore a dress shirt about
once a week. In disposition he was a modest, unassuming
fellow, for his collars were only two inches high."
I stared at Ah-Yen in some amazement, the recent
publications of a favourite novelist had rendered me
familiar with this process of analytical reasoning, but
I was prepared for no such revelations from my Eastern
"When I first knew him," Ah-Yen went on, "Fifty-Six was
a student at the university. This, of course, I did not
know for some time. I inferred it, however, in the course
of time, from his absence from town during the four summer
months, and from the fact that during the time of the
university examinations the cuffs of his shirts came to
me covered with dates, formulas, and propositions in
geometry. I followed him with no little interest through
his university career. During the four years which it
lasted, I washed for him every week; my regular connection
with him and the insight which my observation gave me
into the lovable character of the man, deepened my first
esteem into a profound affection and I became most anxious
for his success. I helped him at each succeeding
examination, as far as lay in my power, by starching his
shirts half-way to the elbow, so as to leave him as much
room as possible for annotations. My anxiety during the
strain of his final examination I will not attempt to
describe. That Fifty-Six was undergoing the great crisis
of his academic career, I could infer from the state of
his handkerchiefs which, in apparent unconsciousness, he
used as pen-wipers during the final test. His conduct
throughout the examination bore witness to the moral
development which had taken place in his character during
his career as an undergraduate; for the notes upon his
cuffs which had been so copious at his earlier examinations
were limited now to a few hints, and these upon topics
so intricate as to defy an ordinary memory. It was with
a thrill of joy that I at last received in his laundry
bundle one Saturday early in June, a ruffled dress shirt,
the bosom of which was thickly spattered with the spillings
of the wine-cup, and realized that Fifty-Six had banqueted
as a Bachelor of Arts.
"In the following winter the habit of wiping his pen upon
his handkerchief, which I had remarked during his final
examination, became chronic with him, and I knew that he
had entered upon the study of law. He worked hard during
that year, and dress shirts almost disappeared from his
weekly bundle. It was in the following winter, the second
year of his legal studies, that the tragedy of his life
began. I became aware that a change had come over his
laundry; from one, or at most two a week, his dress shirts
rose to four, and silk handkerchiefs began to replace
his linen ones. It dawned upon me that Fifty-Six was
abandoning the rigorous tenor of his student life and
was going into society. I presently perceived something
more; Fifty-Six was in love. It was soon impossible to
doubt it. He was wearing seven shirts a week; linen
handkerchiefs disappeared from his laundry; his collars
rose from two inches to two and a quarter, and finally
to two and a half. I have in my possession one of his
laundry lists of that period; a glance at it will show
the scrupulous care which he bestowed upon his person.
Well do I remember the dawning hopes of those days,
alternating with the gloomiest despair. Each Saturday I
opened his bundle with a trembling eagerness to catch
the first signs of a return of his love. I helped my
friend in every way that I could. His shirts and collars
were masterpieces of my art, though my hand often shook
with agitation as I applied the starch. She was a brave
noble girl, that I knew; her influence was elevating the
whole nature of Fifty-Six; until now he had had in his
possession a certain number of detached cuffs and false
shirt-fronts. These he discarded now,—at first the false
shirt-fronts, scorning the very idea of fraud, and after
a time, in his enthusiasm, abandoning even the cuffs. I
cannot look back upon those bright happy days of courtship
without a sigh.
"The happiness of Fifty-Six seemed to enter into and fill
my whole life. I lived but from Saturday to Saturday.
The appearance of false shirt-fronts would cast me to
the lowest depths of despair; their absence raised me to
a pinnacle of hope. It was not till winter softened into
spring that Fifty-Six nerved himself to learn his fate.
One Saturday he sent me a new white waistcoat, a garment
which had hitherto been shunned by his modest nature, to
prepare for his use. I bestowed upon it all the resources
of my art; I read his purpose in it. On the Saturday
following it was returned to me and, with tears of joy,
I marked where a warm little hand had rested fondly on
the right shoulder, and knew that Fifty-Six was the
accepted lover of his sweetheart."
Ah-Yen paused and sat for some time silent; his pipe had
sputtered out and lay cold in the hollow of his hand;
his eye was fixed upon the wall where the light and
shadows shifted in the dull flickering of the candle. At
last he spoke again:
"I will not dwell upon the happy days that ensued—days
of gaudy summer neckties and white waistcoats, of spotless
shirts and lofty collars worn but a single day by the
fastidious lover. Our happiness seemed complete and I
asked no more from fate. Alas! it was not destined to
continue! When the bright days of summer were fading into
autumn, I was grieved to notice an occasional quarrel—only
four shirts instead of seven, or the reappearance of the
abandoned cuffs and shirt-fronts. Reconciliations followed,
with tears of penitence upon the shoulder of the white
waistcoat, and the seven shirts came back. But the quarrels
grew more frequent and there came at times stormy scenes
of passionate emotion that left a track of broken buttons
down the waistcoat. The shirts went slowly down to three,
then fell to two, and the collars of my unhappy friend
subsided to an inch and three-quarters. In vain I lavished
my utmost care upon Fifty-Six. It seemed to my tortured
mind that the gloss upon his shirts and collars would
have melted a heart of stone. Alas! my every effort at
reconciliation seemed to fail. An awful month passed;
the false fronts and detached cuffs were all back again;
the unhappy lover seemed to glory in their perfidy. At
last, one gloomy evening, I found on opening his bundle
that he had bought a stock of celluloids, and my heart
told me that she had abandoned him for ever. Of what my
poor friend suffered at this time, I can give you no
idea; suffice it to say that he passed from celluloid to
a blue flannel shirt and from blue to grey. The sight of
a red cotton handkerchief in his wash at length warned
me that his disappointed love had unhinged his mind, and
I feared the worst. Then came an agonizing interval of
three weeks during which he sent me nothing, and after
that came the last parcel that I ever received from him
an enormous bundle that seemed to contain all his effects.
In this, to my horror, I discovered one shirt the breast
of which was stained a deep crimson with his blood, and
pierced by a ragged hole that showed where a bullet had
singed through into his heart.
"A fortnight before, I remembered having heard the street
boys crying the news of an appalling suicide, and I know
now that it must have been he. After the first shock of
my grief had passed, I sought to keep him in my memory
by drawing the portrait which hangs beside you. I have
some skill in the art, and I feel assured that I have
caught the expression of his face. The picture is, of
course, an ideal one, for, as you know, I never saw
The bell on the door of the outer shop tinkled at the
entrance of a customer. Ah-Yen rose with that air of
quiet resignation that habitually marked his demeanour,
and remained for some time in the shop. When he returned
he seemed in no mood to continue speaking of his lost
friend. I left him soon after and walked sorrowfully home
to my lodgings. On my way I mused much upon my little
Eastern friend and the sympathetic grasp of his imagination.
But a burden lay heavy on my heart—something I would
fain have told him but which I could not bear to mention.
I could not find it in my heart to shatter the airy castle
of his fancy. For my life has been secluded and lonely
and I have known no love like that of my ideal friend.
Yet I have a haunting recollection of a certain huge
bundle of washing that I sent to him about a year ago.
I had been absent from town for three weeks and my laundry
was much larger than usual in consequence. And if I
mistake not there was in the bundle a tattered shirt that
had been grievously stained by the breaking of a bottle
of red ink in my portmanteau, and burnt in one place
where an ash fell from my cigar as I made up the bundle.
Of all this I cannot feel absolutely certain, yet I know
at least that until a year ago, when I transferred my
custom to a more modern establishment, my laundry number
with Ah-Yen was Fifty-Six.
House of Lords, Jan. 25, 1920.—The House of Lords
commenced to-day in Committee the consideration of Clause
No. 52,000 of the Education Bill, dealing with the teaching
of Geometry in the schools.
The Leader of the Government in presenting the clause
urged upon their Lordships the need of conciliation. The
Bill, he said, had now been before their Lordships for
sixteen years. The Government had made every concession.
They had accepted all the amendments of their Lordships
on the opposite side in regard to the original provisions
of the Bill. They had consented also to insert in the
Bill a detailed programme of studies of which the present
clause, enunciating the fifth proposition of Euclid, was
a part. He would therefore ask their Lordships to accept
the clause drafted as follows:
"The angles at the base of an isosceles triangle are
equal, and if the equal sides of the triangle are produced,
the exterior angles will also be equal."
He would hasten to add that the Government had no intention
of producing the sides. Contingencies might arise to
render such a course necessary, but in that case their
Lordships would receive an early intimation of the fact.
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke against the clause.
He considered it, in its present form, too secular. He
should wish to amend the clause so as to make it read:
"The angles at the base of an isosceles triangle are, in
every Christian community, equal, and if the sides be
produced by a member of a Christian congregation, the
exterior angles will be equal."
He was aware, he continued, that the angles at the base
of an isosceles triangle are extremely equal, but he must
remind the Government that the Church had been aware of
this for several years past. He was willing also to admit
that the opposite sides and ends of a parallelogram are
equal, but he thought that such admission should be
coupled with a distinct recognition of the existence of
a Supreme Being.
The Leader of the Government accepted His Grace's amendment
with pleasure. He considered it the brightest amendment
His Grace had made that week. The Government, he said,
was aware of the intimate relation in which His Grace
stood to the bottom end of a parallelogram and was prepared
to respect it.
Lord Halifax rose to offer a further amendment. He thought
the present case was one in which the "four-fifths"
clause ought to apply: he should wish it stated that the
angles are equal for two days every week, except in the
case of schools where four-fifths of the parents are
conscientiously opposed to the use of the isosceles
The Leader of the Government thought the amendment a
singularly pleasing one. He accepted it and would like
it understood that the words isosceles triangle were not
meant in any offensive sense.
Lord Rosebery spoke at some length. He considered the
clause unfair to Scotland, where the high state of morality
rendered education unnecessary. Unless an amendment in
this sense was accepted, it might be necessary to reconsider
the Act of Union of 1707.
The Leader of the Government said that Lord Rosebery's
amendment was the best he had heard yet. The Government
accepted it at once. They were willing to make every
concession. They would, if need be, reconsider the Norman
The Duke of Devonshire took exception to the part of the
clause relating to the production of the sides. He did
not think the country was prepared for it. It was unfair
to the producer. He would like the clause altered to
read, "if the sides be produced in the home market."
The Leader of the Government accepted with pleasure His
Grace's amendment. He considered it quite sensible. He
would now, as it was near the hour of rising, present
the clause in its revised form. He hoped, however, that
their Lordships would find time to think out some further
amendments for the evening sitting.
The clause was then read.
His Grace of Canterbury then moved that the House, in
all humility, adjourn for dinner.
The Conjurer's Revenge
"Now, ladies and gentlemen," said the conjurer, "having
shown you that the cloth is absolutely empty, I will
proceed to take from it a bowl of goldfish. Presto!"
All around the hall people were saying, "Oh, how wonderful!
How does he do it?"
But the Quick Man on the front seat said in a big whisper
to the people near him, "He-had-it-up-his-sleeve."
Then the people nodded brightly at the Quick Man and
said, "Oh, of course"; and everybody whispered round the
"My next trick," said the conjurer, "is the famous
Hindostanee rings. You will notice that the rings are
apparently separate; at a blow they all join (clang,
There was a general buzz of stupefaction till the Quick
Man was heard to whisper, "He-must-have-had-another-lot-
Again everybody nodded and whispered, "The-rings-were-
The brow of the conjurer was clouded with a gathering
"I will now," he continued, "show you a most amusing
trick by which I am enabled to take any number of eggs
from a hat. Will some gentleman kindly lend me his hat?
Ah, thank you—Presto!"
He extracted seventeen eggs, and for thirty-five seconds
the audience began to think that he was wonderful. Then
the Quick Man whispered along the front bench, "He-has-a-
hen-up-his-sleeve," and all the people whispered it on.
The egg trick was ruined.
It went on like that all through. It transpired from the
whispers of the Quick Man that the conjurer must have
concealed up his sleeve, in addition to the rings, hens,
and fish, several packs of cards, a loaf of bread, a
doll's cradle, a live guinea-pig, a fifty-cent piece,
and a rocking-chair.
The reputation of the conjurer was rapidly sinking below
zero. At the close of the evening he rallied for a final
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "I will present to you,
in conclusion, the famous Japanese trick recently invented
by the natives of Tipperary. Will you, sir," he continued
turning toward the Quick Man, "will you kindly hand me
your gold watch?"
It was passed to him.
"Have I your permission to put it into this mortar and
pound it to pieces?" he asked savagely.
The Quick Man nodded and smiled.
The conjurer threw the watch into the mortar and grasped
a sledge hammer from the table. There was a sound of
violent smashing, "He's-slipped-it-up-his-sleeve,"
whispered the Quick Man.
"Now, sir," continued the conjurer, "will you allow me
to take your handkerchief and punch holes in it? Thank
you. You see, ladies and gentlemen, there is no deception;
the holes are visible to the eye."
The face of the Quick Man beamed. This time the real
mystery of the thing fascinated him.
"And now, sir, will you kindly pass me your silk hat and
allow me to dance on it? Thank you."
The conjurer made a few rapid passes with his feet and
exhibited the hat crushed beyond recognition.
"And will you now, sir, take off your celluloid collar
and permit me to burn it in the candle? Thank you, sir.
And will you allow me to smash your spectacles for you
with my hammer? Thank you."
By this time the features of the Quick Man were assuming
a puzzled expression. "This thing beats me," he whispered,
"I don't see through it a bit."
There was a great hush upon the audience. Then the conjurer
drew himself up to his full height and, with a withering
look at the Quick Man, he concluded:
"Ladies and gentlemen, you will observe that I have, with
this gentleman's permission, broken his watch, burnt his
collar, smashed his spectacles, and danced on his hat.
If he will give me the further permission to paint green
stripes on his overcoat, or to tie his suspenders in a
knot, I shall be delighted to entertain you. If not, the
performance is at an end."
And amid a glorious burst of music from the orchestra
the curtain fell, and the audience dispersed, convinced
that there are some tricks, at any rate, that are not
done up the conjurer's sleeve.
Hints to Travellers
The following hints and observations have occurred to me
during a recent trip across the continent: they are
written in no spirit of complaint against existing railroad
methods, but merely in the hope that they may prove useful
to those who travel, like myself, in a spirit of meek,
1. Sleeping in a Pullman car presents some difficulties
to the novice. Care should be taken to allay all sense
of danger. The frequent whistling of the engine during
the night is apt to be a source of alarm. Find out,
therefore, before travelling, the meaning of the various
whistles. One means "station," two, "railroad crossing,"
and so on. Five whistles, short and rapid, mean sudden
danger. When you hear whistles in the night, sit up
smartly in your bunk and count them. Should they reach
five, draw on your trousers over your pyjamas and leave
the train instantly. As a further precaution against
accident, sleep with the feet towards the engine if you
prefer to have the feet crushed, or with the head towards
the engine, if you think it best to have the head crushed.
In making this decision try to be as unselfish as possible.
If indifferent, sleep crosswise with the head hanging
over into the aisle.
2. I have devoted some thought to the proper method of
changing trains. The system which I have observed to be
the most popular with travellers of my own class, is
something as follows: Suppose that you have been told on
leaving New York that you are to change at Kansas City.
The evening before approaching Kansas City, stop the
conductor in the aisle of the car (you can do this best
by putting out your foot and tripping him), and say
politely, "Do I change at Kansas City?" He says "Yes."
Very good. Don't believe him. On going into the dining-car
for supper, take a negro aside and put it to him as a
personal matter between a white man and a black, whether
he thinks you ought to change at Kansas City. Don't be
satisfied with this. In the course of the evening pass
through the entire train from time to time, and say to
people casually, "Oh, can you tell me if I change at
Kansas City?" Ask the conductor about it a few more times
in the evening: a repetition of the question will ensure
pleasant relations with him. Before falling asleep watch
for his passage and ask him through the curtains of your
berth, "Oh, by the way, did you say I changed at Kansas
City?" If he refuses to stop, hook him by the neck with
your walking-stick, and draw him gently to your bedside.
In the morning when the train stops and a man calls,
"Kansas City! All change!" approach the conductor again
and say, "Is this Kansas City?" Don't be discouraged at
his answer. Pick yourself up and go to the other end of
the car and say to the brakesman, "Do you know, sir, if
this is Kansas City?" Don't be too easily convinced.
Remember that both brakesman and conductor may be in
collusion to deceive you. Look around, therefore, for
the name of the station on the signboard. Having found
it, alight and ask the first man you see if this is Kansas
City. He will answer, "Why, where in blank are your blank
eyes? Can't you see it there, plain as blank?" When you
hear language of this sort, ask no more. You are now in
Kansas and this is Kansas City.
3. I have observed that it is now the practice of the
conductors to stick bits of paper in the hats of the
passengers. They do this, I believe, to mark which ones
they like best. The device is pretty, and adds much to
the scenic appearance of the car. But I notice with pain
that the system is fraught with much trouble for the
conductors. The task of crushing two or three passengers
together, in order to reach over them and stick a ticket
into the chinks of a silk skull cap is embarrassing for
a conductor of refined feelings. It would be simpler if
the conductor should carry a small hammer and a packet
of shingle nails and nail the paid-up passenger to the
back of the seat. Or better still, let the conductor
carry a small pot of paint and a brush, and mark the
passengers in such a way that he cannot easily mistake
them. In the case of bald-headed passengers, the hats
might be politely removed and red crosses painted on the
craniums. This will indicate that they are bald. Through
passengers might be distinguished by a complete coat of
paint. In the hands of a man of taste, much might be
effected by a little grouping of painted passengers and
the leisure time of the conductor agreeably occupied.
4. I have observed in travelling in the West that the
irregularity of railroad accidents is a fruitful cause
of complaint. The frequent disappointment of the holders
of accident policy tickets on western roads is leading
to widespread protest. Certainly the conditions of travel
in the West are altering rapidly and accidents can no
longer be relied upon. This is deeply to be regretted,
in so much as, apart from accidents, the tickets may be
said to be practically valueless.
A Manual of Education
The few selections below are offered as a specimen page
of a little book which I have in course of preparation.
Every man has somewhere in the back of his head the wreck
of a thing which he calls his education. My book is
intended to embody in concise form these remnants of
Educations are divided into splendid educations, thorough
classical educations, and average educations. All very
old men have splendid educations; all men who apparently
know nothing else have thorough classical educations;
nobody has an average education.
An education, when it is all written out on foolscap,
covers nearly ten sheets. It takes about six years of
severe college training to acquire it. Even then a man
often finds that he somehow hasn't got his education just
where he can put his thumb on it. When my little book of
eight or ten pages has appeared, everybody may carry his
education in his hip pocket.
Those who have not had the advantage of an early training
will be enabled, by a few hours of conscientious
application, to put themselves on an equal footing with
the most scholarly.
The selections are chosen entirely at random.
I.—REMAINS OF ASTRONOMY
Astronomy teaches the correct use of the sun and the
planets. These may be put on a frame of little sticks
and turned round. This causes the tides. Those at the
ends of the sticks are enormously far away. From time to
time a diligent searching of the sticks reveals new
planets. The orbit of a planet is the distance the stick
goes round in going round. Astronomy is intensely
interesting; it should be done at night, in a high tower
in Spitzbergen. This is to avoid the astronomy being
interrupted. A really good astronomer can tell when a
comet is coming too near him by the warning buzz of the
II.—REMAINS OF HISTORY
Aztecs: A fabulous race, half man, half horse, half
mound-builder. They flourished at about the same time as
the early Calithumpians. They have left some awfully
stupendous monuments of themselves somewhere.
Life of Caesar: A famous Roman general, the last who ever
landed in Britain without being stopped at the custom
house. On returning to his Sabine farm (to fetch something),
he was stabbed by Brutus, and died with the words "Veni,
vidi, tekel, upharsim" in his throat. The jury returned
a verdict of strangulation.
Life of Voltaire: A Frenchman; very bitter.
Life of Schopenhauer: A German; very deep; but it was
not really noticeable when he sat down.
Life of Dante: An Italian; the first to introduce the
banana and the class of street organ known as "Dante's
Peter the Great,
Alfred the Great,
Frederick the Great,
John the Great,
Tom the Great,
Jim the Great,
Jo the Great, etc., etc.
It is impossible for a busy man to keep these apart. They
sought a living as kings and apostles and pugilists and
III.—REMAINS OF BOTANY.
Botany is the art of plants. Plants are divided into
trees, flowers, and vegetables. The true botanist knows
a tree as soon as he sees it. He learns to distinguish
it from a vegetable by merely putting his ear to it.
IV.—REMAINS OF NATURAL SCIENCE.
Natural Science treats of motion and force. Many of its
teachings remain as part of an educated man's permanent
equipment in life. Such are:
(a) The harder you shove a bicycle the faster it will
go. This is because of natural science.
(b) If you fall from a high tower, you fall quicker and
quicker and quicker; a judicious selection of a tower
will ensure any rate of speed.
(c) If you put your thumb in between two cogs it will go
on and on, until the wheels are arrested, by your
suspenders. This is machinery.
(d) Electricity is of two kinds, positive and negative.
The difference is, I presume, that one kind comes a little
more expensive, but is more durable; the other is a
cheaper thing, but the moths get into it.
Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas
This Santa Claus business is played out. It's a sneaking,
underhand method, and the sooner it's exposed the better.
For a parent to get up under cover of the darkness of
night and palm off a ten-cent necktie on a boy who had
been expecting a ten-dollar watch, and then say that an
angel sent it to him, is low, undeniably low.
I had a good opportunity of observing how the thing worked
this Christmas, in the case of young Hoodoo McFiggin,
the son and heir of the McFiggins, at whose house I board.
Hoodoo McFiggin is a good boy—a religious boy. He had
been given to understand that Santa Claus would bring
nothing to his father and mother because grown-up people
don't get presents from the angels. So he saved up all
his pocket-money and bought a box of cigars for his father
and a seventy-five-cent diamond brooch for his mother.
His own fortunes he left in the hands of the angels. But
he prayed. He prayed every night for weeks that Santa
Claus would bring him a pair of skates and a puppy-dog
and an air-gun and a bicycle and a Noah's ark and a sleigh
and a drum—altogether about a hundred and fifty dollars'
worth of stuff.
I went into Hoodoo's room quite early Christmas morning.
I had an idea that the scene would be interesting. I woke
him up and he sat up in bed, his eyes glistening with
radiant expectation, and began hauling things out of his
The first parcel was bulky; it was done up quite loosely
and had an odd look generally.
"Ha! ha!" Hoodoo cried gleefully, as he began undoing
it. "I'll bet it's the puppy-dog, all wrapped up in
And was it the puppy-dog? No, by no means. It was a pair
of nice, strong, number-four boots, laces and all,
labelled, "Hoodoo, from Santa Claus," and underneath
Santa Claus had written, "95 net."
The boy's jaw fell with delight. "It's boots," he said,
and plunged in his hand again.
He began hauling away at another parcel with renewed hope
on his face.
This time the thing seemed like a little round box. Hoodoo
tore the paper off it with a feverish hand. He shook it;
something rattled inside.
"It's a watch and chain! It's a watch and chain!" he
shouted. Then he pulled the lid off.
And was it a watch and chain? No. It was a box of nice,
brand-new celluloid collars, a dozen of them all alike
and all his own size.
The boy was so pleased that you could see his face crack
up with pleasure.
He waited a few minutes until his intense joy subsided.
Then he tried again.
This time the packet was long and hard. It resisted the
touch and had a sort of funnel shape.
"It's a toy pistol!" said the boy, trembling with
excitement. "Gee! I hope there are lots of caps with it!
I'll fire some off now and wake up father."
No, my poor child, you will not wake your father with
that. It is a useful thing, but it needs not caps and it
fires no bullets, and you cannot wake a sleeping man with
a tooth-brush. Yes, it was a tooth-brush—a regular
beauty, pure bone all through, and ticketed with a little
paper, "Hoodoo, from Santa Claus."
Again the expression of intense joy passed over the boy's
face, and the tears of gratitude started from his eyes.
He wiped them away with his tooth-brush and passed on.
The next packet was much larger and evidently contained
something soft and bulky. It had been too long to go into
the stocking and was tied outside.
"I wonder what this is," Hoodoo mused, half afraid to
open it. Then his heart gave a great leap, and he forgot
all his other presents in the anticipation of this one.
"It's the drum!" he gasped. "It's the drum, all wrapped
Drum nothing! It was pants—a pair of the nicest little
short pants—yellowish-brown short pants—with dear little
stripes of colour running across both ways, and here
again Santa Claus had written, "Hoodoo, from Santa Claus,
one fort net."
But there was something wrapped up in it. Oh, yes! There
was a pair of braces wrapped up in it, braces with a
little steel sliding thing so that you could slide your
pants up to your neck, if you wanted to.
The boy gave a dry sob of satisfaction. Then he took out
his last present. "It's a book," he said, as he unwrapped
it. "I wonder if it is fairy stories or adventures. Oh,
I hope it's adventures! I'll read it all morning."
No, Hoodoo, it was not precisely adventures. It was a
small family Bible. Hoodoo had now seen all his presents,
and he arose and dressed. But he still had the fun of
playing with his toys. That is always the chief delight
of Christmas morning.
First he played with his tooth-brush. He got a whole lot
of water and brushed all his teeth with it. This was
Then he played with his collars. He had no end of fun
with them, taking them all out one by one and swearing
at them, and then putting them back and swearing at the
whole lot together.
The next toy was his pants. He had immense fun there,
putting them on and taking them off again, and then trying
to guess which side was which by merely looking at them.
After that he took his book and read some adventures
called "Genesis" till breakfast-time.
Then he went downstairs and kissed his father and mother.
His father was smoking a cigar, and his mother had her
new brooch on. Hoodoo's face was thoughtful, and a light
seemed to have broken in upon his mind. Indeed, I think
it altogether likely that next Christmas he will hang on
to his own money and take chances on what the angels
The Life of John Smith
The lives of great men occupy a large section of our
literature. The great man is certainly a wonderful thing.
He walks across his century and leaves the marks of his
feet all over it, ripping out the dates on his goloshes
as he passes. It is impossible to get up a revolution or
a new religion, or a national awakening of any sort,
without his turning up, putting himself at the head of
it and collaring all the gate-receipts for himself. Even
after his death he leaves a long trail of second-rate
relations spattered over the front seats of fifty years
Now the lives of great men are doubtless infinitely
interesting. But at times I must confess to a sense of
reaction and an idea that the ordinary common man is
entitled to have his biography written too. It is to
illustrate this view that I write the life of John Smith,
a man neither good nor great, but just the usual, everyday
homo like you and me and the rest of us.
From his earliest childhood John Smith was marked out
from his comrades by nothing. The marvellous precocity
of the boy did not astonish his preceptors. Books were
not a passion for him from his youth, neither did any
old man put his hand on Smith's head and say, mark his
words, this boy would some day become a man. Nor yet was
it his father's wont to gaze on him with a feeling
amounting almost to awe. By no means! All his father did
was to wonder whether Smith was a darn fool because he
couldn't help it, or because he thought it smart. In
other words, he was just like you and me and the rest of
In those athletic sports which were the ornament of the
youth of his day, Smith did not, as great men do, excel
his fellows. He couldn't ride worth a darn. He couldn't
skate worth a darn. He couldn't swim worth a darn. He
couldn't shoot worth a darn. He couldn't do anything
worth a darn. He was just like us.
Nor did the bold cast of the boy's mind offset his physical
defects, as it invariably does in the biographies. On
the contrary. He was afraid of his father. He was afraid
of his school-teacher. He was afraid of dogs. He was
afraid of guns. He was afraid of lightning. He was afraid
of hell. He was afraid of girls.
In the boy's choice of a profession there was not seen
that keen longing for a life-work that we find in the
celebrities. He didn't want to be a lawyer, because you
have to know law. He didn't want to be a doctor, because
you have to know medicine. He didn't want to be a
business-man, because you have to know business; and he
didn't want to be a school-teacher, because he had seen
too many of them. As far as he had any choice, it lay
between being Robinson Crusoe and being the Prince of
Wales. His father refused him both and put him into a
dry goods establishment.
Such was the childhood of Smith. At its close there was
nothing in his outward appearance to mark the man of
genius. The casual observer could have seen no genius
concealed behind the wide face, the massive mouth, the
long slanting forehead, and the tall ear that swept up
to the close-cropped head. Certainly he couldn't. There
wasn't any concealed there.
It was shortly after his start in business life that
Smith was stricken with the first of those distressing
attacks, to which he afterwards became subject. It seized
him late one night as he was returning home from a
delightful evening of song and praise with a few old
school chums. Its symptoms were a peculiar heaving of
the sidewalk, a dancing of the street lights, and a crafty
shifting to and fro of the houses, requiring a very nice
discrimination in selecting his own. There was a strong
desire not to drink water throughout the entire attack,
which showed that the thing was evidently a form of
hydrophobia. From this time on, these painful attacks
became chronic with Smith. They were liable to come on
at any time, but especially on Saturday nights, on the
first of the month, and on Thanksgiving Day. He always
had a very severe attack of hydrophobia on Christmas Eve,
and after elections it was fearful.
There was one incident in Smith's career which he did,
perhaps, share with regret. He had scarcely reached
manhood when he met the most beautiful girl in the world.
She was different from all other women. She had a deeper
nature than other people. Smith realized it at once. She
could feel and understand things that ordinary people
couldn't. She could understand him. She had a great sense
of humour and an exquisite appreciation of a joke. He
told her the six that he knew one night and she thought
them great. Her mere presence made Smith feel as if he
had swallowed a sunset: the first time that his finger
brushed against hers, he felt a thrill all through him.
He presently found that if he took a firm hold of her
hand with his, he could get a fine thrill, and if he sat
beside her on a sofa, with his head against her ear and
his arm about once and a half round her, he could get
what you might call a first-class, A-1 thrill. Smith
became filled with the idea that he would like to have
her always near him. He suggested an arrangement to her,
by which she should come and live in the same house with
him and take personal charge of his clothes and his meals.
She was to receive in return her board and washing, about
seventy-five cents a week in ready money, and Smith was
to be her slave.
After Smith had been this woman's slave for some time,
baby fingers stole across his life, then another set of
them, and then more and more till the house was full of
them. The woman's mother began to steal across his life
too, and every time she came Smith had hydrophobia
frightfully. Strangely enough there was no little prattler
that was taken from his life and became a saddened,
hallowed memory to him. Oh, no! The little Smiths were
not that kind of prattler. The whole nine grew up into
tall, lank boys with massive mouths and great sweeping
ears like their father's, and no talent for anything.
The life of Smith never seemed to bring him to any of
those great turning-points that occurred in the lives of
the great. True, the passing years brought some change
of fortune. He was moved up in his dry-goods establishment
from the ribbon counter to the collar counter, from the
collar counter to the gents' panting counter, and from
the gents' panting to the gents' fancy shirting. Then,
as he grew aged and inefficient, they moved him down
again from the gents' fancy shirting to the gents' panting,
and so on to the ribbon counter. And when he grew quite
old they dismissed him and got a boy with a four-inch
mouth and sandy-coloured hair, who did all Smith could
do for half the money. That was John Smith's mercantile
career: it won't stand comparison with Mr. Gladstone's,
but it's not unlike your own.
Smith lived for five years after this. His sons kept him.
They didn't want to, but they had to. In his old age the
brightness of his mind and his fund of anecdote were not
the delight of all who dropped in to see him. He told
seven stories and he knew six jokes. The stories were
long things all about himself, and the jokes were about
a commercial traveller and a Methodist minister. But
nobody dropped in to see him, anyway, so it didn't matter.
At sixty-five Smith was taken ill, and, receiving proper
treatment, he died. There was a tombstone put up over
him, with a hand pointing north-north-east.
But I doubt if he ever got there. He was too like us.
On Collecting Things
Like most other men I have from time to time been stricken
with a desire to make collections of things.
It began with postage stamps. I had a letter from a friend
of mine who had gone out to South Africa. The letter had
a three-cornered stamp on it, and I thought as soon as
I looked at it, "That's the thing! Stamp collecting! I'll
devote my life to it."
I bought an album with accommodation for the stamps of
all nations, and began collecting right off. For three
days the collection made wonderful progress. It contained:
One Cape of Good Hope stamp.
One one-cent stamp, United States of America.
One two-cent stamp, United States of America.
One five-cent stamp, United States of America.
One ten-cent stamp, United States of America.
After that the collection came to a dead stop. For a
while I used to talk about it rather airily and say I
had one or two rather valuable South African stamps. But
I presently grew tired even of lying about it.
Collecting coins is a thing that I attempt at intervals.
Every time I am given an old half-penny or a Mexican
quarter, I get an idea that if a fellow made a point of
holding on to rarities of that sort, he'd soon have quite
a valuable collection. The first time that I tried it I
was full of enthusiasm, and before long my collection
numbered quite a few articles of vertu. The items were
No. 1. Ancient Roman coin. Time of Caligula. This one of
course was the gem of the whole lot; it was given me by
a friend, and that was what started me collecting.
No. 2. Small copper coin. Value one cent. United States
of America. Apparently modern.
No. 3. Small nickel coin. Circular. United States of
America. Value five cents.
No. 4. Small silver coin. Value ten cents. United States
No. 5. Silver coin. Circular. Value twenty-five cents.
United States of America. Very beautiful.
No. 6. Large silver coin. Circular. Inscription, "One
Dollar." United States of America. Very valuable.
No. 7. Ancient British copper coin. Probably time of
Caractacus. Very dim. Inscription, "Victoria Dei gratia
regina." Very valuable.
No. 8. Silver coin. Evidently French. Inscription, "Funf
Mark. Kaiser Wilhelm."
No. 9. Circular silver coin. Very much defaced. Part of
inscription, "E Pluribus Unum." Probably a Russian rouble,
but quite as likely to be a Japanese yen or a Shanghai
That's as far as that collection got. It lasted through
most of the winter and I was getting quite proud of it,
but I took the coins down town one evening to show to a
friend and we spent No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, and No.
7 in buying a little dinner for two. After dinner I bought
a yen's worth of cigars and traded the relic of Caligula
for as many hot Scotches as they cared to advance on it.
After that I felt reckless and put No. 2 and No. 8 into
a Children's Hospital poor box.
I tried fossils next. I got two in ten years. Then I
A friend of mine once showed me a very fine collection
of ancient and curious weapons, and for a time I was full
of that idea. I gathered several interesting specimens,
No. 1. Old flint-lock musket, used by my grandfather.
(He used it on the farm for years as a crowbar.)
No. 2. Old raw-hide strap, used by my father.
No. 3. Ancient Indian arrowhead, found by myself the very
day after I began collecting. It resembles a three-cornered
No. 4. Ancient Indian bow, found by myself behind a
sawmill on the second day of collecting. It resembles a
straight stick of elm or oak. It is interesting to think
that this very weapon may have figured in some fierce
scene of savage warfare.
No. 5. Cannibal poniard or straight-handled dagger of
the South Sea Islands. It will give the reader almost a
thrill of horror to learn that this atrocious weapon,
which I bought myself on the third day of collecting,
was actually exposed in a second-hand store as a family
carving-knife. In gazing at it one cannot refrain from
conjuring up the awful scenes it must have witnessed.
I kept this collection for quite a long while until, in
a moment of infatuation, I presented it to a young lady
as a betrothal present. The gift proved too ostentatious
and our relations subsequently ceased to be cordial.
On the whole I am inclined to recommend the beginner to
confine himself to collecting coins. At present I am
myself making a collection of American bills (time of
Taft preferred), a pursuit I find most absorbing.
AS IT SHOULD BE WRITTEN
I notice that it is customary for the daily papers to
publish a column or so of society gossip. They generally
head it "Chit-Chat," or "On Dit," or "Le Boudoir," or
something of the sort, and they keep it pretty full of
French terms to give it the proper sort of swing. These
columns may be very interesting in their way, but it
always seems to me that they don't get hold of quite the
right things to tell us about. They are very fond, for
instance, of giving an account of the delightful dance
at Mrs. De Smythe's—at which Mrs. De Smythe looked
charming in a gown of old tulle with a stomacher of
passementerie—or of the dinner-party at Mr. Alonzo
Robinson's residence, or the smart pink tea given by Miss
Carlotta Jones. No, that's all right, but it's not the
kind of thing we want to get at; those are not the events
which happen in our neighbours' houses that we really
want to hear about. It is the quiet little family scenes,
the little traits of home-life that—well, for example,
take the case of that delightful party at the De Smythes.
I am certain that all those who were present would much
prefer a little paragraph like the following, which would
give them some idea of the home-life of the De Smythes
on the morning after the party.
DEJEUNER DE LUXE AT THE DE SMYTHE RESIDENCE
On Wednesday morning last at 7.15 a.m. a charming little
breakfast was served at the home of Mr. De Smythe. The
dejeuner was given in honour of Mr. De Smythe and his
two sons, Master Adolphus and Master Blinks De Smythe,
who were about to leave for their daily travail at their
wholesale Bureau de Flour et de Feed. All the gentlemen
were very quietly dressed in their habits de work. Miss
Melinda De Smythe poured out tea, the domestique having
refuse to get up so early after the partie of the night
before. The menu was very handsome, consisting of eggs
and bacon, demi-froid, and ice-cream. The conversation
was sustained and lively. Mr. De Smythe sustained it and
made it lively for his daughter and his garcons. In the
course of the talk Mr. De Smythe stated that the next
time he allowed the young people to turn his maison
topsy-turvy he would see them in enfer. He wished to know
if they were aware that some ass of the evening before
had broken a pane of coloured glass in the hall that
would cost him four dollars. Did they think he was made
of argent. If so, they never made a bigger mistake in
their vie. The meal closed with general expressions of
good-feeling. A little bird has whispered to us that
there will be no more parties at the De Smythes' pour
Here is another little paragraph that would be of general
interest in society.
DINER DE FAMEEL AT THE BOARDING-HOUSE DE MCFIGGIN
Yesterday evening at half after six a pleasant little
diner was given by Madame McFiggin of Rock Street, to
her boarders. The salle a manger was very prettily
decorated with texts, and the furniture upholstered with
cheveux de horse, Louis Quinze. The boarders were all
very quietly dressed: Mrs. McFiggin was daintily attired
in some old clinging stuff with a corsage de Whalebone
underneath. The ample board groaned under the bill of
fare. The boarders groaned also. Their groaning was very
noticeable. The piece de resistance was a hunko de boeuf
boile, flanked with some old clinging stuff. The entrees
were pate de pumpkin, followed by fromage McFiggin, served
under glass. Towards the end of the first course, speeches
became the order of the day. Mrs. McFiggin was the first
speaker. In commencing, she expressed her surprise that
so few of the gentlemen seemed to care for the hunko de
boeuf; her own mind, she said, had hesitated between
hunko de boeuf boile and a pair of roast chickens
(sensation). She had finally decided in favour of the
hunko de boeuf (no sensation). She referred at some length
to the late Mr. McFiggin, who had always shown a marked
preference for hunko de boeuf. Several other speakers
followed. All spoke forcibly and to the point. The last
to speak was the Reverend Mr. Whiner. The reverend
gentleman, in rising, said that he confided himself and
his fellow-boarders to the special interference of
providence. For what they had eaten, he said, he hoped
that Providence would make them truly thankful. At the
close of the Repas several of the boarders expressed
their intention of going down the street to a restourong
to get quelque chose a manger.
Here is another example. How interesting it would be to
get a detailed account of that little affair at the
Robinsons', of which the neighbours only heard indirectly!
DELIGHTFUL EVENING AT THE RESIDENCE OF MR. ALONZO ROBINSON
Yesterday the family of Mr. Alonzo Robinson spent a very
lively evening at their home on —-th Avenue. The occasion
was the seventeenth birthday of Master Alonzo Robinson,
junior. It was the original intention of Master Alonzo
Robinson to celebrate the day at home and invite a few
of les garcons. Mr. Robinson, senior, however, having
declared that he would be damne first, Master Alonzo
spent the evening in visiting the salons of the town,
which he painted rouge. Mr. Robinson, senior, spent the
evening at home in quiet expectation of his son's return.
He was very becomingly dressed in a pantalon quatre vingt
treize, and had his whippe de chien laid across his knee.
Madame Robinson and the Mademoiselles Robinson wore black.
The guest of the evening arrived at a late hour. He wore
his habits de spri, and had about six pouces of eau de
vie in him. He was evidently full up to his cou. For some
time after his arrival a very lively time was spent. Mr.
Robinson having at length broken the whippe de chien,
the family parted for the night with expressions of
Insurance up to Date
A man called on me the other day with the idea of insuring
my life. Now, I detest life-insurance agents; they always
argue that I shall some day die, which is not so. I have
been insured a great many times, for about a month at a
time, but have had no luck with it at all.
So I made up my mind that I would outwit this man at his
own game. I let him talk straight ahead and encouraged
him all I could, until he finally left me with a sheet
of questions which I was to answer as an applicant. Now
this was what I was waiting for; I had decided that, if
that company wanted information about me, they should
have it, and have the very best quality I could supply.
So I spread the sheet of questions before me, and drew
up a set of answers for them, which, I hoped, would settle
for ever all doubts as to my eligibility for insurance.
Question.—What is your age?
Answer.—I can't think.
Q.—What is your chest measurement?
Q.—What is your chest expansion?
A.—Half an inch.
Q.—What is your height?
A.—Six feet five, if erect, but less when
I walk on all fours.
Q.—Is your grandfather dead?
Q.—Cause of death, if dead?
A.—Dipsomania, if dead.
Q.—Is your father dead?
A.—To the world.
Q.—Cause of death?
Q.—Place of father's residence?
Q.—What illness have you had?
A.—As a child, consumption, leprosy, and water on
the knee. As a man, whooping-cough, stomach-ache,
and water on the brain.
Q.—Have you any brothers?
A.—Thirteen; all nearly dead.
Q.—Are you aware of any habits or tendencies which
might be expected to shorten your life?
A.—I am aware. I drink, I smoke, I take morphine and
vaseline. I swallow grape seeds and I hate exercise.
I thought when I had come to the end of that list that
I had made a dead sure thing of it, and I posted the
paper with a cheque for three months' payment, feeling
pretty confident of having the cheque sent back to me.
I was a good deal surprised a few days later to receive
the following letter from the company:
"DEAR SIR,—We beg to acknowledge your letter of application
and cheque for fifteen dollars. After a careful comparison
of your case with the average modern standard, we are
pleased to accept you as a first-class risk."
Borrowing a Match
You might think that borrowing a match upon the street
is a simple thing. But any man who has ever tried it will
assure you that it is not, and will be prepared to swear
to the truth of my experience of the other evening.
I was standing on the corner of the street with a cigar
that I wanted to light. I had no match. I waited till a
decent, ordinary-looking man came along. Then I said:
"Excuse me, sir, but could you oblige me with the loan
of a match?"
"A match?" he said, "why certainly." Then he unbuttoned
his overcoat and put his hand in the pocket of his
waistcoat. "I know I have one," he went on, "and I'd
almost swear it's in the bottom pocket—or, hold on,
though, I guess it may be in the top—just wait till I
put these parcels down on the sidewalk."
"Oh, don't trouble," I said, "it's really of no
"Oh, it's no trouble, I'll have it in a minute; I know
there must be one in here somewhere"—he was digging
his fingers into his pockets as he spoke—"but you see
this isn't the waistcoat I generally…"
I saw that the man was getting excited about it. "Well,
never mind," I protested; "if that isn't the waistcoat
that you generally—why, it doesn't matter."
"Hold on, now, hold on!" the man said, "I've got one of
the cursed things in here somewhere. I guess it must be
in with my watch. No, it's not there either. Wait till
I try my coat. If that confounded tailor only knew enough
to make a pocket so that a man could get at it!"
He was getting pretty well worked up now. He had thrown
down his walking-stick and was plunging at his pockets
with his teeth set. "It's that cursed young boy of mine,"
he hissed; "this comes of his fooling in my pockets. By
Gad! perhaps I won't warm him up when I get home. Say,
I'll bet that it's in my hip-pocket. You just hold up
the tail of my overcoat a second till I…"
"No, no," I protested again, "please don't take all this
trouble, it really doesn't matter. I'm sure you needn't
take off your overcoat, and oh, pray don't throw away
your letters and things in the snow like that, and tear
out your pockets by the roots! Please, please don't
trample over your overcoat and put your feet through the
parcels. I do hate to hear you swearing at your little
boy, with that peculiar whine in your voice. Don't—please
don't tear your clothes so savagely."
Suddenly the man gave a grunt of exultation, and drew
his hand up from inside the lining of his coat.
"I've got it," he cried. "Here you are!" Then he brought
it out under the light.
It was a toothpick.
Yielding to the impulse of the moment I pushed him under
the wheels of a trolley-car, and ran.
A Lesson in Fiction
Suppose that in the opening pages of the modern melodramatic
novel you find some such situation as the following, in
which is depicted the terrific combat between Gaspard de
Vaux, the boy lieutenant, and Hairy Hank, the chief of
the Italian banditti:
"The inequality of the contest was apparent. With a
mingled yell of rage and contempt, his sword brandished
above his head and his dirk between his teeth, the enormous
bandit rushed upon his intrepid opponent. De Vaux seemed
scarce more than a stripling, but he stood his ground
and faced his hitherto invincible assailant. 'Mong Dieu,'
cried De Smythe, 'he is lost!'"
Question. On which of the parties to the above contest
do you honestly feel inclined to put your money?
Answer. On De Vaux. He'll win. Hairy Hank will force him
down to one knee and with a brutal cry of "Har! har!"
will be about to dirk him, when De Vaux will make a sudden
lunge (one he had learnt at home out of a book of lunges)
Very good. You have answered correctly. Now, suppose you
find, a little later in the book, that the killing of
Hairy Hank has compelled De Vaux to flee from his native
land to the East. Are you not fearful for his safety in
Answer. Frankly, I am not. De Vaux is all right. His name
is on the title page, and you can't kill him.
Question. Listen to this, then: "The sun of Ethiopia beat
fiercely upon the desert as De Vaux, mounted upon his
faithful elephant, pursued his lonely way. Seated in his
lofty hoo-doo, his eye scoured the waste. Suddenly a
solitary horseman appeared on the horizon, then another,
and another, and then six. In a few moments a whole crowd
of solitary horsemen swooped down upon him. There was a
fierce shout of 'Allah!' a rattle of firearms. De Vaux
sank from his hoo-doo on to the sands, while the affrighted
elephant dashed off in all directions. The bullet had
struck him in the heart."
There now, what do you think of that? Isn't De Vaux killed
Answer. I am sorry. De Vaux is not dead. True, the ball
had hit him, oh yes, it had hit him, but it had glanced
off against a family Bible, which he carried in his
waistcoat in case of illness, struck some hymns that he
had in his hip-pocket, and, glancing off again, had
flattened itself against De Vaux's diary of his life in
the desert, which was in his knapsack.
Question. But even if this doesn't kill him, you must
admit that he is near death when he is bitten in the
jungle by the deadly dongola?
Answer. That's all right. A kindly Arab will take De Vaux
to the Sheik's tent.
Question. What will De Vaux remind the Sheik of?
Answer. Too easy. Of his long-lost son, who disappeared
Question. Was this son Hairy Hank?
Answer. Of course he was. Anyone could see that, but the Sheik
never suspects it, and heals De Vaux. He heals him with an
herb, a thing called a simple, an amazingly simple, known only
to the Sheik. Since using this herb, the Sheik has used no other.
Question. The Sheik will recognize an overcoat that De
Vaux is wearing, and complications will arise in the
matter of Hairy Hank deceased. Will this result in the
death of the boy lieutenant?
Answer. No. By this time De Vaux has realized that the
reader knows he won't die and resolves to quit the desert.
The thought of his mother keeps recurring to him, and of
his father, too, the grey, stooping old man—does he
stoop still or has he stopped stooping? At times, too,
there comes the thought of another, a fairer than his
father; she whose—but enough, De Vaux returns to the
old homestead in Piccadilly.
Question. When De Vaux returns to England, what will
Answer. This will happen: "He who left England ten years
before a raw boy, has returned a sunburnt soldierly man.
But who is this that advances smilingly to meet him? Can
the mere girl, the bright child that shared his hours of
play, can she have grown into this peerless, graceful
girl, at whose feet half the noble suitors of England
are kneeling? 'Can this be her?' he asks himself in
Question. Is it her?
Answer. Oh, it's her all right. It is her, and it is him,
and it is them. That girl hasn't waited fifty pages for
Question. You evidently guess that a love affair will
ensue between the boy lieutenant and the peerless girl
with the broad feet. Do you imagine, however, that its
course will run smoothly and leave nothing to record?
Answer. Not at all. I feel certain that the scene of the
novel having edged itself around to London, the writer
will not feel satisfied unless he introduces the following
"Stunned by the cruel revelation which he had received,
unconscious of whither his steps were taking him, Gaspard
de Vaux wandered on in the darkness from street to street
until he found himself upon London Bridge. He leaned over
the parapet and looked down upon the whirling stream
below. There was something in the still, swift rush of
it that seemed to beckon, to allure him. After all, why
not? What was life now that he should prize it? For a
moment De Vaux paused irresolute."
Question. Will he throw himself in?
Answer. Well, say you don't know Gaspard. He will pause
irresolute up to the limit, then, with a fierce struggle,
will recall his courage and hasten from the Bridge.
Question. This struggle not to throw oneself in must be
Answer. Oh! dreadfully! Most of us are so frail we should
jump in at once. But Gaspard has the knack of it. Besides
he still has some of the Sheik's herb; he chews it.
Question. What has happened to De Vaux anyway? Is it
anything he has eaten?
Answer. No, it is nothing that he has eaten. It's about her.
The blow has come. She has no use for sunburn, doesn't care
for tan; she is going to marry a duke and the boy lieutenant
is no longer in it. The real trouble is that the modern
novelist has got beyond the happy-marriage mode of ending.
He wants tragedy and a blighted life to wind up with.
Question. How will the book conclude?
Answer. Oh, De Vaux will go back to the desert, fall upon
the Sheik's neck, and swear to be a second Hairy Hank to
him. There will be a final panorama of the desert, the
Sheik and his newly found son at the door of the tent,
the sun setting behind a pyramid, and De Vaux's faithful
elephant crouched at his feet and gazing up at him with
Helping the Armenians
The financial affairs of the parish church up at Doogalville
have been getting rather into a tangle in the last six
months. The people of the church were specially anxious
to do something toward the general public subscription
of the town on behalf of the unhappy Armenians, and to
that purpose they determined to devote the collections
taken up at a series of special evening services. To give
the right sort of swing to the services and to stimulate
generous giving, they put a new pipe organ into the
church. In order to make a preliminary payment on the
organ, it was decided to raise a mortgage on the parsonage.
To pay the interest on the mortgage, the choir of the
church got up a sacred concert in the town hall.
To pay for the town hall, the Willing Workers' Guild held
a social in the Sunday school. To pay the expenses of
the social, the rector delivered a public lecture on
"Italy and Her Past," illustrated by a magic lantern.
To pay for the magic lantern, the curate and the ladies
of the church got up some amateur theatricals.
Finally, to pay for the costumes for the theatricals,
the rector felt it his duty to dispense with the curate.
So that is where the church stands just at present. What
they chiefly want to do, is to raise enough money to buy
a suitable gold watch as a testimonial to the curate.
After that they hope to be able to do something for the
Armenians. Meantime, of course, the Armenians, the ones
right there in the town, are getting very troublesome.
To begin with, there is the Armenian who rented the
costumes for the theatricals: he has to be squared. Then
there is the Armenian organ dealer, and the Armenian who
owned the magic lantern. They want relief badly.
The most urgent case is that of the Armenian who holds
the mortgage on the parsonage; indeed it is generally
felt in the congregation, when the rector makes his
impassioned appeals at the special services on behalf of
the suffering cause, that it is to this man that he has
In the meanwhile the general public subscription is not
getting along very fast; but the proprietor of the big
saloon further down the street and the man with the short
cigar that runs the Doogalville Midway Plaisance have
been most liberal in their contributions.
A Study in Still Life.—The Country Hotel
The country hotel stands on the sunny side of Main Street.
It has three entrances.
There is one in front which leads into the Bar. There is
one at the side called the Ladies' Entrance which leads
into the Bar from the side. There is also the Main Entrance
which leads into the Bar through the Rotunda.
The Rotunda is the space between the door of the bar-room
and the cigar-case.
In it is a desk and a book. In the book are written down
the names of the guests, together with marks indicating
the direction of the wind and the height of the barometer.
It is here that the newly arrived guest waits until he
has time to open the door leading to the Bar.
The bar-room forms the largest part of the hotel. It
constitutes the hotel proper. To it are attached a series
of bedrooms on the floor above, many of which contain
The walls of the bar-room are perforated in all directions
with trap-doors. Through one of these drinks are passed
into the back sitting-room. Through others drinks are
passed into the passages. Drinks are also passed through
the floor and through the ceiling. Drinks once passed
never return. The Proprietor stands in the doorway of
the bar. He weighs two hundred pounds. His face is
immovable as putty. He is drunk. He has been drunk for
twelve years. It makes no difference to him. Behind the
bar stands the Bar-tender. He wears wicker-sleeves, his
hair is curled in a hook, and his name is Charlie.
Attached to the bar is a pneumatic beer-pump, by means
of which the bar-tender can flood the bar with beer.
Afterwards he wipes up the beer with a rag. By this means
he polishes the bar. Some of the beer that is pumped up
spills into glasses and has to be sold.
Behind the bar-tender is a mechanism called a cash-register,
which, on being struck a powerful blow, rings a bell,
sticks up a card marked NO SALE, and opens a till from
which the bar-tender distributes money.
There is printed a tariff of drinks and prices on the wall.
It reads thus:
Beer . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky. . . . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky and Soda. . . . . . . 5 cents.
Beer and Soda . . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky and Beer and Soda . . 5 cents.
Whisky and Eggs . . . . . 5 cents.
Beer and Eggs . . . . . . 5 cents.
Champagne. . . . . . . 5 cents.
Cigars . . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Cigars, extra fine . . . . . 5 cents.
All calculations are made on this basis and are worked
out to three places of decimals. Every seventh drink is
on the house and is not followed by a distribution of
The bar-room closes at midnight, provided there are enough
people in it. If there is not a quorum the proprietor
waits for a better chance. A careful closing of the bar
will often catch as many as twenty-five people. The bar
is not opened again till seven o'clock in the morning;
after that the people may go home. There are also,
nowadays, Local Option Hotels. These contain only one
entrance, leading directly into the bar.
An Experiment With Policeman Hogan
Mr. Scalper sits writing in the reporters' room of The
Daily Eclipse. The paper has gone to press and he is
alone; a wayward talented gentleman, this Mr. Scalper,
and employed by The Eclipse as a delineator of character
from handwriting. Any subscriber who forwards a specimen
of his handwriting is treated to a prompt analysis of
his character from Mr. Scalper's facile pen. The literary
genius has a little pile of correspondence beside him,
and is engaged in the practice of his art. Outside the
night is dark and rainy. The clock on the City Hall marks
the hour of two. In front of the newspaper office Policeman
Hogan walks drearily up and down his beat. The damp misery
of Hogan is intense. A belated gentleman in clerical
attire, returning home from a bed of sickness, gives him
a side-look of timid pity and shivers past. Hogan follows
the retreating figure with his eye; then draws forth a
notebook and sits down on the steps of The Eclipse building
to write in the light of the gas lamp. Gentlemen of
nocturnal habits have often wondered what it is that
Policeman Hogan and his brethren write in their little
books. Here are the words that are fashioned by the big
fist of the policeman:
"Two o'clock. All is well. There is a light in Mr.
Scalper's room above. The night is very wet and I am
unhappy and cannot sleep—my fourth night of insomnia.
Suspicious-looking individual just passed. Alas, how
melancholy is my life! Will the dawn never break! Oh,
moist, moist stone."
Mr. Scalper up above is writing too, writing with the
careless fluency of a man who draws his pay by the column.
He is delineating with skill and rapidity. The reporters'
room is gloomy and desolate. Mr. Scalper is a man of
sensitive temperament and the dreariness of his surroundings
depresses him. He opens the letter of a correspondent,
examines the handwriting narrowly, casts his eye around
the room for inspiration, and proceeds to delineate:
"G.H. You have an unhappy, despondent nature; your
circumstances oppress you, and your life is filled with
an infinite sadness. You feel that you are without hope—"
Mr. Scalper pauses, takes another look around the room,
and finally lets his eye rest for some time upon a tall
black bottle that stands on the shelf of an open cupboard.
Then he goes on:
"—and you have lost all belief in Christianity and a
future world and human virtue. You are very weak against
temptation, but there is an ugly vein of determination
in your character, when you make up your mind that you
are going to have a thing—"
Here Mr. Scalper stops abruptly, pushes back his chair,
and dashes across the room to the cupboard. He takes the
black bottle from the shelf, applies it to his lips, and
remains for some time motionless. He then returns to
finish the delineation of G.H. with the hurried words:
"On the whole I recommend you to persevere; you are doing
very well." Mr. Scalper's next proceeding is peculiar.
He takes from the cupboard a roll of twine, about fifty
feet in length, and attaches one end of it to the neck
of the bottle. Going then to one of the windows, he opens
it, leans out, and whistles softly. The alert ear of
Policeman Hogan on the pavement below catches the sound,
and he returns it. The bottle is lowered to the end of
the string, the guardian of the peace applies it to his
gullet, and for some time the policeman and the man of
letters remain attached by a cord of sympathy. Gentlemen
who lead the variegated life of Mr. Scalper find it well
to propitiate the arm of the law, and attachments of this
sort are not uncommon. Mr. Scalper hauls up the bottle,
closes the window, and returns to his task; the policeman
resumes his walk with a glow of internal satisfaction.
A glance at the City Hall clock causes him to enter
another note in his book.
"Half-past two. All is better. The weather is milder with
a feeling of young summer in the air. Two lights in Mr.
Scalper's room. Nothing has occurred which need be brought
to the notice of the roundsman."
Things are going better upstairs too. The delineator
opens a second envelope, surveys the writing of the
correspondent with a critical yet charitable eye, and
writes with more complacency.
"William H. Your writing shows a disposition which, though
naturally melancholy, is capable of a temporary
cheerfulness. You have known misfortune but have made up
your mind to look on the bright side of things. If you
will allow me to say so, you indulge in liquor but are
quite moderate in your use of it. Be assured that no harm
ever comes of this moderate use. It enlivens the intellect,
brightens the faculties, and stimulates the dormant fancy
into a pleasurable activity. It is only when carried to
At this point the feelings of Mr. Scalper, who had been
writing very rapidly, evidently become too much for him.
He starts up from his chair, rushes two or three times
around the room, and finally returns to finish the
delineation thus: "it is only when carried to excess that
this moderation becomes pernicious."
Mr. Scalper succumbs to the train of thought suggested
and gives an illustration of how moderation to excess
may be avoided, after which he lowers the bottle to
Policeman Hogan with a cheery exchange of greetings.
The half-hours pass on. The delineator is writing busily
and feels that he is writing well. The characters of his
correspondents lie bare to his keen eye and flow from
his facile pen. From time to time he pauses and appeals
to the source of his inspiration; his humanity prompts
him to extend the inspiration to Policeman Hogan. The
minion of the law walks his beat with a feeling of more
than tranquillity. A solitary Chinaman, returning home
late from his midnight laundry, scuttles past. The literary
instinct has risen strong in Hogan from his connection
with the man of genius above him, and the passage of the
lone Chinee gives him occasion to write in his book:
"Four-thirty. Everything is simply great. There are four
lights in Mr. Scalper's room. Mild, balmy weather with
prospects of an earthquake, which may be held in check
by walking with extreme caution. Two Chinamen have just
passed—mandarins, I presume. Their walk was unsteady,
but their faces so benign as to disarm suspicion."
Up in the office Mr. Scalper has reached the letter of
a correspondent which appears to give him particular
pleasure, for he delineates the character with a beaming
smile of satisfaction. To the unpractised eye the writing
resembles the prim, angular hand of an elderly spinster.
Mr. Scalper, however, seems to think otherwise, for he
"Aunt Dorothea. You have a merry, rollicking nature. At
times you are seized with a wild, tumultuous hilarity to
which you give ample vent in shouting and song. You are
much addicted to profanity, and you rightly feel that
this is part of your nature and you must not check it.
The world is a very bright place to you, Aunt Dorothea.
Write to me again soon. Our minds seem cast in the same
Mr. Scalper seems to think that he has not done full
justice to the subject he is treating, for he proceeds
to write a long private letter to Aunt Dorothea in addition
to the printed delineation. As he finishes the City Hall
clock points to five, and Policeman Hogan makes the last
entry in his chronicle. Hogan has seated himself upon
the steps of The Eclipse building for greater comfort
and writes with a slow, leisurely fist:
"The other hand of the clock points north and the second
longest points south-east by south. I infer that it is
five o'clock. The electric lights in Mr. Scalper's room
defy the eye. The roundsman has passed and examined my
notes of the night's occurrences. They are entirely
satisfactory, and he is pleased with their literary form.
The earthquake which I apprehended was reduced to a few
minor oscillations which cannot reach me where I sit—"
The lowering of the bottle interrupts Policeman Hogan.
The long letter to Aunt Dorothea has cooled the ardour
of Mr. Scalper. The generous blush has passed from his
mind and he has been trying in vain to restore it. To
afford Hogan a similar opportunity, he decides not to
haul the bottle up immediately, but to leave it in his
custody while he delineates a character. The writing of
this correspondent would seem to the inexperienced eye
to be that of a timid little maiden in her teens. Mr.
Scalper is not to be deceived by appearances. He shakes
his head mournfully at the letter and writes:
"Little Emily. You have known great happiness, but it
has passed. Despondency has driven you to seek forgetfulness
in drink. Your writing shows the worst phase of the liquor
habit. I apprehend that you will shortly have delirium
tremens. Poor little Emily! Do not try to break off; it
is too late."
Mr. Scalper is visibly affected by his correspondent's
unhappy condition. His eye becomes moist, and he decides
to haul up the bottle while there is still time to save
Policeman Hogan from acquiring a taste for liquor. He is
surprised and alarmed to find the attempt to haul it up
ineffectual. The minion of the law has fallen into a
leaden slumber, and the bottle remains tight in his grasp.
The baffled delineator lets fall the string and returns
to finish his task. Only a few lines are now required to
fill the column, but Mr. Scalper finds on examining the
correspondence that he has exhausted the subjects. This,
however, is quite a common occurrence and occasions no
dilemma in the mind of the talented gentleman. It is his
custom in such cases to fill up the space with an imaginary
character or two, the analysis of which is a task most
congenial to his mind. He bows his head in thought for
a few moments, and then writes as follows:
"Policeman H. Your hand shows great firmness; when once
set upon a thing you are not easily moved. But you have
a mean, grasping disposition and a tendency to want more
than your share. You have formed an attachment which you
hope will be continued throughout life, but your selfishness
threatens to sever the bond."
Having written which, Mr. Scalper arranges his manuscript
for the printer next day, dons his hat and coat, and
wends his way home in the morning twilight, feeling that
his pay is earned.
The Passing of the Poet
Studies in what may be termed collective psychology are
essentially in keeping with the spirit of the present
century. The examination of the mental tendencies, the
intellectual habits which we display not as individuals,
but as members of a race, community, or crowd, is offering
a fruitful field of speculation as yet but little exploited.
One may, therefore, not without profit, pass in review
the relation of the poetic instinct to the intellectual
development of the present era.
Not the least noticeable feature in the psychological
evolution of our time is the rapid disappearance of
poetry. The art of writing poetry, or perhaps more fairly,
the habit of writing poetry, is passing from us. The poet
is destined to become extinct.
To a reader of trained intellect the initial difficulty
at once suggests itself as to what is meant by poetry.
But it is needless to quibble at a definition of the
term. It may be designated, simply and fairly, as the
art of expressing a simple truth in a concealed form of
words, any number of which, at intervals greater or less,
may or may not rhyme.
The poet, it must be said, is as old as civilization.
The Greeks had him with them, stamping out his iambics
with the sole of his foot. The Romans, too, knew
him—endlessly juggling his syllables together, long and
short, short and long, to make hexameters. This can now
be done by electricity, but the Romans did not know it.
But it is not my present purpose to speak of the poets
of an earlier and ruder time. For the subject before us
it is enough to set our age in comparison with the era
that preceded it. We have but to contrast ourselves with
our early Victorian grandfathers to realize the profound
revolution that has taken place in public feeling. It is
only with an effort that the practical common sense of
the twentieth century can realize the excessive
sentimentality of the earlier generation.
In those days poetry stood in high and universal esteem.
Parents read poetry to their children. Children recited
poetry to their parents. And he was a dullard, indeed,
who did not at least profess, in his hours of idleness,
to pour spontaneous rhythm from his flowing quill.
Should one gather statistics of the enormous production
of poetry some sixty or seventy years ago, they would
scarcely appear credible. Journals and magazines teemed
with it. Editors openly countenanced it. Even the daily
press affected it. Love sighed in home-made stanzas.
Patriotism rhapsodized on the hustings, or cited rolling
hexameters to an enraptured legislature. Even melancholy
death courted his everlasting sleep in elegant elegiacs.
In that era, indeed, I know not how, polite society was
haunted by the obstinate fiction that it was the duty of
a man of parts to express himself from time to time in
verse. Any special occasion of expansion or exuberance,
of depression, torsion, or introspection, was sufficient
to call it forth. So we have poems of dejection, of
reflection, of deglutition, of indigestion.
Any particular psychological disturbance was enough to
provoke an excess of poetry. The character and manner of
the verse might vary with the predisposing cause. A
gentleman who had dined too freely might disexpand himself
in a short fit of lyric doggerel in which "bowl" and
"soul" were freely rhymed. The morning's indigestion
inspired a long-drawn elegiac, with "bier" and "tear,"
"mortal" and "portal" linked in sonorous sadness. The
man of politics, from time to time, grateful to an
appreciative country, sang back to it, "Ho, Albion, rising
from the brine!" in verse whose intention at least was
And yet it was but a fiction, a purely fictitious
obligation, self-imposed by a sentimental society. In
plain truth, poetry came no more easily or naturally to
the early Victorian than to you or me. The lover twanged
his obdurate harp in vain for hours for the rhymes that
would not come, and the man of politics hammered at his
heavy hexameter long indeed before his Albion was finally
"hoed" into shape; while the beer-besotted convivialist
cudgelled his poor wits cold sober in rhyming the light
little bottle-ditty that should have sprung like Aphrodite
from the froth of the champagne.
I have before me a pathetic witness of this fact. It is
the note-book once used for the random jottings of a
gentleman of the period. In it I read: "Fair Lydia, if
my earthly harp." This is crossed out, and below it
appears, "Fair Lydia, COULD my earthly harp." This again
is erased, and under it appears, "Fair Lydia, SHOULD my
earthly harp." This again is struck out with a despairing
stroke, and amended to read: "Fair Lydia, DID my earthly
harp." So that finally, when the lines appeared in the
Gentleman's Magazine (1845) in their ultimate shape—"Fair
Edith, when with fluent pen," etc., etc.—one can realize
from what a desperate congelation the fluent pen had been
so perseveringly rescued.
There can be little doubt of the deleterious effect
occasioned both to public and private morals by this
deliberate exaltation of mental susceptibility on the
part of the early Victorian. In many cases we can detect
the evidences of incipient paresis. The undue access of
emotion frequently assumed a pathological character. The
sight of a daisy, of a withered leaf or an upturned sod,
seemed to disturb the poet's mental equipoise. Spring
unnerved him. The lambs distressed him. The flowers made
him cry. The daffodils made him laugh. Day dazzled him.
Night frightened him.
This exalted mood, combined with the man's culpable
ignorance of the plainest principles of physical science,
made him see something out of the ordinary in the flight
of a waterfowl or the song of a skylark. He complained
that he could HEAR it, but not SEE it—a phenomenon too
familiar to the scientific observer to occasion any
In such a state of mind the most inconsequential inferences
were drawn. One said that the brightness of the dawn—a fact
easily explained by the diurnal motion of the globe—showed
him that his soul was immortal. He asserted further that he
had, at an earlier period of his life, trailed bright clouds
behind him. This was absurd.
With the disturbance thus set up in the nervous system
were coupled, in many instances, mental aberrations,
particularly in regard to pecuniary matters. "Give me
not silk, nor rich attire," pleaded one poet of the period
to the British public, "nor gold nor jewels rare." Here
was an evident hallucination that the writer was to become
the recipient of an enormous secret subscription. Indeed,
the earnest desire NOT to be given gold was a recurrent
characteristic of the poetic temperament. The repugnance
to accept even a handful of gold was generally accompanied
by a desire for a draught of pure water or a night's rest.
It is pleasing to turn from this excessive sentimentality
of thought and speech to the practical and concise diction
of our time. We have learned to express ourselves with
equal force, but greater simplicity. To illustrate this
I have gathered from the poets of the earlier generation
and from the prose writers of to-day parallel passages
that may be fairly set in contrast. Here, for example,
is a passage from the poet Grey, still familiar to
"Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can honour's voice invoke the silent dust
Or flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death?"
Precisely similar in thought, though different in form,
is the more modern presentation found in Huxley's
"Whether after the moment of death the ventricles of the
heart can be again set in movement by the artificial
stimulus of oxygen, is a question to which we must impose
a decided negative."
How much simpler, and yet how far superior to Grey's
elaborate phraseology! Huxley has here seized the central
point of the poet's thought, and expressed it with the
dignity and precision of exact science.
I cannot refrain, even at the risk of needless iteration,
from quoting a further example. It is taken from the poet
Burns. The original dialect being written in inverted
hiccoughs, is rather difficult to reproduce. It describes
the scene attendant upon the return of a cottage labourer
to his home on Saturday night:
"The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face
They round the ingle form in a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace,
The big ha' Bible, ance his father's pride:
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin an' bare:
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion wi' judeecious care."
Now I find almost the same scene described in more apt
phraseology in the police news of the Dumfries Chronicle
(October 3, 1909), thus: "It appears that the prisoner
had returned to his domicile at the usual hour, and,
after partaking of a hearty meal, had seated himself on
his oaken settle, for the ostensible purpose of reading
the Bible. It was while so occupied that his arrest was
effected." With the trifling exception that Burns omits
all mention of the arrest, for which, however, the whole
tenor of the poem gives ample warrant, the two accounts
are almost identical.
In all that I have thus said I do not wish to be
misunderstood. Believing, as I firmly do, that the poet
is destined to become extinct, I am not one of those who
would accelerate his extinction. The time has not yet
come for remedial legislation, or the application of the
criminal law. Even in obstinate cases where pronounced
delusions in reference to plants, animals, and natural
phenomena are seen to exist, it is better that we should
do nothing that might occasion a mistaken remorse. The
inevitable natural evolution which is thus shaping the
mould of human thought may safely be left to its own
They were both what we commonly call successful business
men—men with well-fed faces, heavy signet rings on
fingers like sausages, and broad, comfortable waistcoats,
a yard and a half round the equator. They were seated
opposite each other at a table of a first-class restaurant,
and had fallen into conversation while waiting to give
their order to the waiter. Their talk had drifted back
to their early days and how each had made his start in
life when he first struck New York.
"I tell you what, Jones," one of them was saying, "I
shall never forget my first few years in this town. By
George, it was pretty uphill work! Do you know, sir, when
I first struck this place, I hadn't more than fifteen
cents to my name, hadn't a rag except what I stood up
in, and all the place I had to sleep in—you won't
believe it, but it's a gospel fact just the same—was an
empty tar barrel. No, sir," he went on, leaning back and
closing up his eyes into an expression of infinite
experience, "no, sir, a fellow accustomed to luxury like
you has simply no idea what sleeping out in a tar barrel
and all that kind of thing is like."
"My dear Robinson," the other man rejoined briskly, "if
you imagine I've had no experience of hardship of that
sort, you never made a bigger mistake in your life. Why,
when I first walked into this town I hadn't a cent, sir,
not a cent, and as for lodging, all the place I had for
months and months was an old piano box up a lane, behind
a factory. Talk about hardship, I guess I had it pretty
rough! You take a fellow that's used to a good warm tar
barrel and put him into a piano box for a night or two,
and you'll see mighty soon—"
"My dear fellow," Robinson broke in with some irritation,
"you merely show that you don't know what a tar barrel's
like. Why, on winter nights, when you'd be shut in there
in your piano box just as snug as you please, I used to
lie awake shivering, with the draught fairly running in
at the bunghole at the back."
"Draught!" sneered the other man, with a provoking laugh,
"draught! Don't talk to me about draughts. This box I
speak of had a whole darned plank off it, right on the
north side too. I used to sit there studying in the
evenings, and the snow would blow in a foot deep. And
yet, sir," he continued more quietly, "though I know
you'll not believe it, I don't mind admitting that some
of the happiest days of my life were spent in that same
old box. Ah, those were good old times! Bright, innocent
days, I can tell you. I'd wake up there in the mornings
and fairly shout with high spirits. Of course, you may
not be able to stand that kind of life—"
"Not stand it!" cried Robinson fiercely; "me not stand
it! By gad! I'm made for it. I just wish I had a taste
of the old life again for a while. And as for innocence!
Well, I'll bet you you weren't one-tenth as innocent as
I was; no, nor one-fifth, nor one-third! What a grand
old life it was! You'll swear this is a darned lie and
refuse to believe it—but I can remember evenings when
I'd have two or three fellows in, and we'd sit round and
play pedro by a candle half the night."
"Two or three!" laughed Jones; "why, my dear fellow, I've
known half a dozen of us to sit down to supper in my
piano box, and have a game of pedro afterwards; yes, and
charades and forfeits, and every other darned thing.
Mighty good suppers they were too! By Jove, Robinson,
you fellows round this town who have ruined your digestions
with high living, have no notion of the zest with which
a man can sit down to a few potato peelings, or a bit of
broken pie crust, or—"
"Talk about hard food," interrupted the other, "I guess
I know all about that. Many's the time I've breakfasted
off a little cold porridge that somebody was going to
throw away from a back-door, or that I've gone round to
a livery stable and begged a little bran mash that they
intended for the pigs. I'll venture to say I've eaten
more hog's food—"
"Hog's food!" shouted Robinson, striking his fist savagely
on the table, "I tell you hog's food suits me better than—"
He stopped speaking with a sudden grunt of surprise as
the waiter appeared with the question:
"What may I bring you for dinner, gentlemen?"
"Dinner!" said Jones, after a moment of silence, "dinner!
Oh, anything, nothing—I never care what I eat—give me
a little cold porridge, if you've got it, or a chunk of
salt pork—anything you like, it's all the same to me."
The waiter turned with an impassive face to Robinson.
"You can bring me some of that cold porridge too," he
said, with a defiant look at Jones; "yesterday's, if you
have it, and a few potato peelings and a glass of skim
There was a pause. Jones sat back in his chair and looked
hard across at Robinson. For some moments the two men
gazed into each other's eyes with a stern, defiant
intensity. Then Robinson turned slowly round in his seat
and beckoned to the waiter, who was moving off with the
muttered order on his lips.
"Here, waiter," he said with a savage scowl, "I guess
I'll change that order a little. Instead of that cold
porridge I'll take—um, yes—a little hot partridge. And
you might as well bring me an oyster or two on the half
shell, and a mouthful of soup (mock-turtle, consomme,
anything), and perhaps you might fetch along a dab of
fish, and a little peck of Stilton, and a grape, or a
The waiter turned to Jones.
"I guess I'll take the same," he said simply, and added;
"and you might bring a quart of champagne at the same
And nowadays, when Jones and Robinson meet, the memory
of the tar barrel and the piano box is buried as far out
of sight as a home for the blind under a landslide.
A Model Dialogue
In which is shown how the drawing-room juggler may be
permanently cured of his card trick.
The drawing-room juggler, having slyly got hold of the
pack of cards at the end of the game of whist, says:
"Ever see any card tricks? Here's rather a good one; pick
"Thank you, I don't want a card."
"No, but just pick one, any one you like, and I'll tell
which one you pick."
"You'll tell who?"
"No, no; I mean, I'll know which it is don't you see? Go
on now, pick a card."
"Any one I like?"
"Any colour at all?"
"Oh, yes; do go on."
"Well, let me see, I'll—pick—the—ace of spades."
"Great Caesar! I mean you are to pull a card out of the
"Oh, to pull it out of the pack! Now I understand. Hand
me the pack. All right—I've got it."
"Have you picked one?"
"Yes, it's the three of hearts. Did you know it?"
"Hang it! Don't tell me like that. You spoil the thing.
Here, try again. Pick a card."
"All right, I've got it."
"Put it back in the pack. Thanks. (Shuffle, shuffle,
shuffle—flip)—There, is that it?" (triumphantly).
"I don't know. I lost sight of it."
"Lost sight of it! Confound it, you have to look at it
and see what it is."
"Oh, you want me to look at the front of it!"
"Why, of course! Now then, pick a card."
"All right. I've picked it. Go ahead."
(Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle—flip.)
"Say, confound you, did you put that card back in the
"Why, no. I kept it."
"Holy Moses! Listen. Pick—a—card—just one—look at
it—see what it is—then put it back—do you understand?"
"Oh, perfectly. Only I don't see how you are ever going
to do it. You must be awfully clever."
(Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle—flip.)
"There you are; that's your card, now, isn't it?" (This
is the supreme moment.)
"NO. THAT IS NOT MY CARD." (This is a flat lie, but Heaven
will pardon you for it.)
"Not that card!!!! Say—just hold on a second. Here, now,
watch what you're at this time. I can do this cursed
thing, mind you, every time. I've done it on father, on
mother, and on every one that's ever come round our place.
Pick a card. (Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle—flip, bang.)
There, that's your card."
"NO. I AM SORRY. THAT IS NOT MY CARD. But won't you try
it again? Please do. Perhaps you are a little excited—I'm
afraid I was rather stupid. Won't you go and sit quietly
by yourself on the back verandah for half an hour and
then try? You have to go home? Oh, I'm so sorry. It must
be such an awfully clever little trick. Good night!"
Back to the Bush
I have a friend called Billy, who has the Bush Mania. By
trade he is a doctor, but I do not think that he needs
to sleep out of doors. In ordinary things his mind appears
sound. Over the tops I of his gold-rimmed spectacles, as
he bends forward to speak to you, there gleams nothing
but amiability and kindliness. Like all the rest of us
he is, or was until he forgot it all, an extremely
I am aware of no criminal strain in his blood. Yet Billy
is in reality hopelessly unbalanced. He has the Mania of
the Open Woods.
Worse than that, he is haunted with the desire to drag
his friends with him into the depths of the Bush.
Whenever we meet he starts to talk about it.
Not long ago I met him in the club.
"I wish," he said, "you'd let me take you clear away up
"Yes, I wish I would, I don't think," I murmured to
myself, but I humoured him and said:
"How do we go, Billy, in a motor-car or by train?"
"No, we paddle."
"And is it up-stream all the way?"
"Oh, yes," Billy said enthusiastically.
"And how many days do we paddle all day to get up?"
"Couldn't we do it in less?"
"Yes," Billy answered, feeling that I was entering into
the spirit of the thing, "if we start each morning just
before daylight and paddle hard till moonlight, we could
do it in five days and a half."
"Glorious! and are there portages?"
"Lots of them."
"And at each of these do I carry two hundred pounds of
stuff up a hill on my back?"
"And will there be a guide, a genuine, dirty-looking
"And can I sleep next to him?"
"Oh, yes, if you want to."
"And when we get to the top, what is there?"
"Well, we go over the height of land."
"Oh, we do, do we? And is the height of land all rock
and about three hundred yards up-hill? And do I carry a
barrel of flour up it? And does it roll down and crush
me on the other side? Look here, Billy, this trip is a
great thing, but it is too luxurious for me. If you will
have me paddled up the river in a large iron canoe with
an awning, carried over the portages in a sedan-chair,
taken across the height of land in a palanquin or a
howdah, and lowered down the other side in a derrick,
I'll go. Short of that, the thing would be too fattening."
Billy was discouraged and left me. But he has since
returned repeatedly to the attack.
He offers to take me to the head-waters of the Batiscan.
I am content at the foot.
He wants us to go to the sources of the Attahwapiscat.
He says I ought to see the grand chutes of the Kewakasis.
Why should I?
I have made Billy a counter-proposition that we strike
through the Adirondacks (in the train) to New York, from
there portage to Atlantic City, then to Washington,
carrying our own grub (in the dining-car), camp there a
few days (at the Willard), and then back, I to return by
train and Billy on foot with the outfit.
The thing is still unsettled.
Billy, of course, is only one of thousands that have got
this mania. And the autumn is the time when it rages at
Every day there move northward trains, packed full of
lawyers, bankers, and brokers, headed for the bush. They
are dressed up to look like pirates. They wear slouch
hats, flannel shirts, and leather breeches with belts.
They could afford much better clothes than these, but
they won't use them. I don't know where they get these
clothes. I think the railroad lends them out. They have
guns between their knees and big knives at their hips.
They smoke the worst tobacco they can find, and they
carry ten gallons of alcohol per man in the baggage car.
In the intervals of telling lies to one another they read
the railroad pamphlets about hunting. This kind of
literature is deliberately and fiendishly contrived to
infuriate their mania. I know all about these pamphlets
because I write them. I once, for instance, wrote up,
from imagination, a little place called Dog Lake at the
end of a branch line. The place had failed as a settlement,
and the railroad had decided to turn it into a hunting
resort. I did the turning. I think I did it rather well,
rechristening the lake and stocking the place with suitable
varieties of game. The pamphlet ran like this.
"The limpid waters of Lake Owatawetness (the name,
according to the old Indian legends of the place, signifies,
The Mirror of the Almighty) abound with every known
variety of fish. Near to its surface, so close that the
angler may reach out his hand and stroke them, schools
of pike, pickerel, mackerel, doggerel, and chickerel
jostle one another in the water. They rise instantaneously
to the bait and swim gratefully ashore holding it in
their mouths. In the middle depth of the waters of the
lake, the sardine, the lobster, the kippered herring,
the anchovy and other tinned varieties of fish disport
themselves with evident gratification, while even lower
in the pellucid depths the dog-fish, the hog-fish, the
log-fish, and the sword-fish whirl about in never-ending
"Nor is Lake Owatawetness merely an Angler's Paradise.
Vast forests of primeval pine slope to the very shores
of the lake, to which descend great droves of bears—brown,
green, and bear-coloured—while as the shades of evening
fall, the air is loud with the lowing of moose, cariboo,
antelope, cantelope, musk-oxes, musk-rats, and other
graminivorous mammalia of the forest. These enormous
quadrumana generally move off about 10.30 p.m., from
which hour until 11.45 p.m. the whole shore is reserved
for bison and buffalo.
"After midnight hunters who so desire it can be chased
through the woods, for any distance and at any speed they
select, by jaguars, panthers, cougars, tigers, and jackals
whose ferocity is reputed to be such that they will tear
the breeches off a man with their teeth in their eagerness
to sink their fangs in his palpitating flesh. Hunters,
attention! Do not miss such attractions as these!"
I have seen men—quiet, reputable, well-shaved men—
reading that pamphlet of mine in the rotundas of hotels,
with their eyes blazing with excitement. I think it is
the jaguar attraction that hits them the hardest, because
I notice them rub themselves sympathetically with their
hands while they read.
Of course, you can imagine the effect of this sort of
literature on the brains of men fresh from their offices,
and dressed out as pirates.
They just go crazy and stay crazy.
Just watch them when they get into the bush.
Notice that well-to-do stockbroker crawling about on his
stomach in the underbrush, with his spectacles shining
like gig-lamps. What is he doing? He is after a cariboo
that isn't there. He is "stalking" it. With his stomach.
Of course, away down in his heart he knows that the
cariboo isn't there and never was; but that man read my
pamphlet and went crazy. He can't help it: he's GOT to
stalk something. Mark him as he crawls along; see him
crawl through a thimbleberry bush (very quietly so that
the cariboo won't hear the noise of the prickles going
into him), then through a bee's nest, gently and slowly,
so that the cariboo will not take fright when the bees
are stinging him. Sheer woodcraft! Yes, mark him. Mark
him any way you like. Go up behind him and paint a blue
cross on the seat of his pants as he crawls. He'll never
notice. He thinks he's a hunting dog. Yet this is the
man who laughs at his little son of ten for crawling
round under the dining-room table with a mat over his
shoulders, and pretending to be a bear.
Now see these other men in camp.
Someone has told them—I think I first started the idea
in my pamphlet—that the thing is to sleep on a pile of
hemlock branches. I think I told them to listen to the
wind sowing (you know the word I mean), sowing and crooning
in the giant pines. So there they are upside-down, doubled
up on a couch of green spikes that would have killed St.
Sebastian. They stare up at the sky with blood-shot,
restless eyes, waiting for the crooning to begin. And
there isn't a sow in sight.
Here is another man, ragged and with a six days' growth
of beard, frying a piece of bacon on a stick over a little
fire. Now what does he think he is? The CHEF of the
Waldorf Astoria? Yes, he does, and what's more he thinks
that that miserable bit of bacon, cut with a tobacco
knife from a chunk of meat that lay six days in the rain,
is fit to eat. What's more, he'll eat it. So will the
rest. They're all crazy together.
There's another man, the Lord help him who thinks he has
the "knack" of being a carpenter. He is hammering up
shelves to a tree. Till the shelves fall down he thinks
he is a wizard. Yet this is the same man who swore at
his wife for asking him to put up a shelf in the back
kitchen. "How the blazes," he asked, "could he nail the
damn thing up? Did she think he was a plumber?"
After all, never mind.
Provided they are happy up there, let them stay.
Personally, I wouldn't mind if they didn't come back and
lie about it. They get back to the city dead fagged for
want of sleep, sogged with alcohol, bitten brown by the
bush-flies, trampled on by the moose and chased through
the brush by bears and skunks—and they have the nerve
to say that they like it.
Sometimes I think they do.
Men are only animals anyway. They like to get out into
the woods and growl round at night and feel something
Only why haven't they the imagination to be able to do
the same thing with less fuss? Why not take their coats
and collars off in the office and crawl round on the
floor and growl at one another. It would be just as good.
Reflections on Riding
The writing of this paper has been inspired by a debate
recently held at the literary society of my native town
on the question, "Resolved: that the bicycle is a nobler
animal than the horse." In order to speak for the negative
with proper authority, I have spent some weeks in completely
addicting myself to the use of the horse. I find that
the difference between the horse and the bicycle is
greater than I had supposed.
The horse is entirely covered with hair; the bicycle is
not entirely covered with hair, except the '89 model they
are using in Idaho.
In riding a horse the performer finds that the pedals in
which he puts his feet will not allow of a good circular
stroke. He will observe, however, that there is a saddle
in which—especially while the horse is trotting—he is
expected to seat himself from time to time. But it is
simpler to ride standing up, with the feet in the pedals.
There are no handles to a horse, but the 1910 model has
a string to each side of its face for turning its head
when there is anything you want it to see.
Coasting on a good horse is superb, but should be under
control. I have known a horse to suddenly begin to coast
with me about two miles from home, coast down the main
street of my native town at a terrific rate, and finally
coast through a plantoon of the Salvation Army into its
I cannot honestly deny that it takes a good deal of
physical courage to ride a horse. This, however, I have.
I get it at about forty cents a flask, and take it as
I find that in riding a horse up the long street of a
country town, it is not well to proceed at a trot. It
excites unkindly comment. It is better to let the horse
walk the whole distance. This may be made to seem natural
by turning half round in the saddle with the hand on the
horse's back, and gazing intently about two miles up the
road. It then appears that you are the first in of about
Since learning to ride, I have taken to noticing the
things that people do on horseback in books. Some of
these I can manage, but most of them are entirely beyond
me. Here, for instance, is a form of equestrian performance
that every reader will recognize and for which I have
only a despairing admiration:
"With a hasty gesture of farewell, the rider set spurs
to his horse and disappeared in a cloud of dust."
With a little practice in the matter of adjustment, I
think I could set spurs to any size of horse, but I could
never disappear in a cloud of dust—at least, not with
any guarantee of remaining disappeared when the dust
Here, however, is one that I certainly can do:
"The bridle-rein dropped from Lord Everard's listless
hand, and, with his head bowed upon his bosom, he suffered
his horse to move at a foot's pace up the sombre avenue.
Deep in thought, he heeded not the movement of the steed
which bore him."
That is, he looked as if he didn't; but in my case Lord
Everard has his eye on the steed pretty closely, just
This next I am doubtful about:
"To horse! to horse!" cried the knight, and leaped into
I think I could manage it if it read:
"To horse!" cried the knight, and, snatching a step-ladder
from the hands of his trusty attendant, he rushed into
As a concluding remark, I may mention that my experience
of riding has thrown a very interesting sidelight upon
a rather puzzling point in history. It is recorded of
the famous Henry the Second that he was "almost constantly
in the saddle, and of so restless a disposition that he
never sat down, even at meals." I had hitherto been unable
to understand Henry's idea about his meals, but I think
I can appreciate it now.
A STUDY IN SHAKESPEAREAN CRITICISM
They say that young men fresh from college are pretty
positive about what they know. But from my own experience
of life, I should say that if you take a comfortable,
elderly man who hasn't been near a college for about
twenty years, who has been pretty liberally fed and dined
ever since, who measures about fifty inches around the
circumference, and has a complexion like a cranberry by
candlelight, you will find that there is a degree of
absolute certainty about what he thinks he knows that
will put any young man to shame. I am specially convinced
of this from the case of my friend Colonel Hogshead, a
portly, choleric gentleman who made a fortune in the
cattle-trade out in Wyoming, and who, in his later days,
has acquired a chronic idea that the plays of Shakespeare
are the one subject upon which he is most qualified to
He came across me the other evening as I was sitting by
the fire in the club sitting-room looking over the leaves
of The Merchant of Venice, and began to hold forth to me
about the book.
"Merchant of Venice, eh? There's a play for you, sir!
There's genius! Wonderful, sir, wonderful! You take the
characters in that play and where will you find anything
like them? You take Antonio, take Sherlock, take Saloonio—"
"Saloonio, Colonel?" I interposed mildly, "aren't you
making a mistake? There's a Bassanio and a Salanio in
the play, but I don't think there's any Saloonio, is
For a moment Colonel Hogshead's eye became misty with
doubt, but he was not the man to admit himself in error:
"Tut, tut! young man," he said with a frown, "don't skim
through your books in that way. No Saloonio? Why, of
course there's a Saloonio!"
"But I tell you, Colonel," I rejoined, "I've just been
reading the play and studying it, and I know there's no
"Nonsense, sir, nonsense!" said the Colonel, "why he
comes in all through; don't tell me, young man, I've read
that play myself. Yes, and seen it played, too, out in
Wyoming, before you were born, by fellers, sir, that
could act. No Saloonio, indeed! why, who is it that is
Antonio's friend all through and won't leave him when
Bassoonio turns against him? Who rescues Clarissa from
Sherlock, and steals the casket of flesh from the Prince
of Aragon? Who shouts at the Prince of Morocco, 'Out,
out, you damned candlestick'? Who loads up the jury in
the trial scene and fixes the doge? No Saloonio! By gad!
in my opinion, he's the most important character in the
"Colonel Hogshead," I said very firmly, "there isn't any
Saloonio and you know it."
But the old man had got fairly started on whatever dim
recollection had given birth to Saloonio; the character
seemed to grow more and more luminous in the Colonel's
mind, and he continued with increasing animation:
"I'll just tell you what Saloonio is: he's a type.
Shakespeare means him to embody the type of the perfect
Italian gentleman. He's an idea, that's what he is, he's
a symbol, he's a unit—"
Meanwhile I had been searching among the leaves of the
play. "Look here," I said, "here's the list of the Dramatis
Personae. There's no Saloonio there."
But this didn't dismay the Colonel one atom. "Why, of
course there isn't," he said. "You don't suppose you'd
find Saloonio there! That's the whole art of it! That's
Shakespeare! That's the whole gist of it! He's kept clean
out of the Personae—gives him scope, gives him a free
hand, makes him more of a type than ever. Oh, it's a
subtle thing, sir, the dramatic art!" continued the
Colonel, subsiding into quiet reflection; "it takes a
feller quite a time to get right into Shakespeare's mind
and see what he's at all the time."
I began to see that there was no use in arguing any
further with the old man. I left him with the idea that
the lapse of a little time would soften his views on
Saloonio. But I had not reckoned on the way in which old
men hang on to a thing. Colonel Hogshead quite took up
Saloonio. From that time on Saloonio became the theme of
his constant conversation. He was never tired of discussing
the character of Saloonio, the wonderful art of the
dramatist in creating him, Saloonio's relation to modern
life, Saloonio's attitude toward women, the ethical
significance of Saloonio, Saloonio as compared with
Hamlet, Hamlet as compared with Saloonio—and so on,
endlessly. And the more he looked into Saloonio, the more
he saw in him.
Saloonio seemed inexhaustible. There were new sides to
him—new phases at every turn. The Colonel even read over
the play, and finding no mention of Saloonio's name in
it, he swore that the books were not the same books they
had had out in Wyoming; that the whole part had been cut
clean out to suit the book to the infernal public schools,
Saloonio's language being—at any rate, as the Colonel
quoted it—undoubtedly a trifle free. Then the Colonel
took to annotating his book at the side with such remarks
as, "Enter Saloonio," or "A tucket sounds; enter Saloonio,
on the arm of the Prince of Morocco." When there was no
reasonable excuse for bringing Saloonio on the stage the
Colonel swore that he was concealed behind the arras, or
feasting within with the doge.
But he got satisfaction at last. He had found that there
was nobody in our part of the country who knew how to
put a play of Shakespeare on the stage, and took a trip
to New York to see Sir Henry Irving and Miss Terry do
the play. The Colonel sat and listened all through with
his face just beaming with satisfaction, and when the
curtain fell at the close of Irving's grand presentation
of the play, he stood up in his seat, and cheered and
yelled to his friends: "That's it! That's him! Didn't
you see that man that came on the stage all the time and
sort of put the whole play through, though you couldn't
understand a word he said? Well, that's him! That's
Half-hours with the Poets
I.—MR. WORDSWORTH AND THE LITTLE COTTAGE GIRL.
"I met a little cottage girl,
She was eight years old she said,
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head."
This is what really happened.
Over the dreary downs of his native Cumberland the aged
laureate was wandering with bowed head and countenance
Times were bad with the old man.
In the south pocket of his trousers, as he set his face
to the north, jingled but a few odd coins and a cheque
for St. Leon water. Apparently his cup of bitterness was
In the distance a child moved—a child in form, yet the
deep lines upon her face bespoke a countenance prematurely
The poet espied, pursued and overtook the infant. He
observed that apparently she drew her breath lightly and
felt her life in every limb, and that presumably her
acquaintance with death was of the most superficial
"I must sit awhile and ponder on that child," murmured
the poet. So he knocked her down with his walking-stick
and seating himself upon her, he pondered.
Long he sat thus in thought. "His heart is heavy," sighed
At length he drew forth a note-book and pencil and prepared
to write upon his knee. "Now then, my dear young friend,"
he said, addressing the elfin creature, "I want those
lines upon your face. Are you seven?"
"Yes, we are seven," said the girl sadly, and added, "I
know what you want. You are going to question me about
my afflicted family. You are Mr. Wordsworth, and you are
collecting mortuary statistics for the Cottagers' Edition
of the Penny Encyclopaedia."
"You are eight years old?" asked the bard.
"I suppose so," answered she. "I have been eight years
old for years and years."
"And you know nothing of death, of course?" said the poet
"How can I?" answered the child.
"Now then," resumed the venerable William, "let us get
to business. Name your brothers and sisters."
"Let me see," began the child wearily; "there was Rube
and Ike, two I can't think of, and John and Jane."
"You must not count John and Jane," interrupted the bard
reprovingly; "they're dead, you know, so that doesn't
"I wasn't counting them, but perhaps I added up wrongly,"
said the child; "and will you please move your overshoe
off my neck?"
"Pardon," said the old man. "A nervous trick, I have been
absorbed; indeed, the exigency of the metre almost demands
my doubling up my feet. To continue, however; which died
"The first to go was little Jane," said the child.
"She lay moaning in bed, I presume?"
"In bed she moaning lay."
"What killed her?"
"Insomnia," answered the girl. "The gaiety of our cottage
life, previous to the departure of our elder brothers
for Conway, and the constant field-sports in which she
indulged with John, proved too much for a frame never
"You express yourself well," said the poet. "Now, in
regard to your unfortunate brother, what was the effect
upon him in the following winter of the ground being
white with snow and your being able to run and slide?"
"My brother John was forced to go," answered she. "We
have been at a loss to understand the cause of his death.
We fear that the dazzling glare of the newly fallen snow,
acting upon a restless brain, may have led him to a fatal
attempt to emulate my own feats upon the ice. And, oh,
sir," the child went on, "speak gently of poor Jane. You
may rub it into John all you like; we always let him
"Very well," said the bard, "and allow me, in conclusion,
one rather delicate question: Do you ever take your little
"Oh, yes," answered the child frankly—
"'Quite often after sunset,
When all is light and fair,
I take my little porringer'—
"I can't quite remember what I do after that, but I know
that I like it."
"That is immaterial," said Wordsworth. "I can say that
you take your little porringer neat, or with bitters, or
in water after every meal. As long as I can state that
you take a little porringer regularly, but never to
excess, the public is satisfied. And now," rising from
his seat, "I will not detain you any longer. Here is
sixpence—or stay," he added hastily, "here is a cheque
for St. Leon water. Your information has been most
valuable, and I shall work it, for all I am Wordsworth."
With these words the aged poet bowed deferentially to
the child and sauntered off in the direction of the Duke
of Cumberland's Arms, with his eyes on the ground, as if
looking for the meanest flower that blows itself.
II:—HOW TENNYSON KILLED THE MAY QUEEN
"If you're waking call me early, call me early, mother dear."
As soon as the child's malady had declared itself the
afflicted parents of the May Queen telegraphed to Tennyson,
"Our child gone crazy on subject of early rising, could
you come and write some poetry about her?"
Alfred, always prompt to fill orders in writing from the
country, came down on the evening train. The old cottager
greeted the poet warmly, and began at once to speak of
the state of his unfortunate daughter.
"She was took queer in May," he said, "along of a sort
of bee that the young folks had; she ain't been just
right since; happen you might do summat."
With these words he opened the door of an inner room.
The girl lay in feverish slumber. Beside her bed was an
alarm-clock set for half-past three. Connected with the
clock was an ingenious arrangement of a falling brick
with a string attached to the child's toe.
At the entrance of the visitor she started up in bed.
"Whoop," she yelled, "I am to be Queen of the May, mother,
Then perceiving Tennyson in the doorway, "If that's a
caller," she said, "tell him to call me early."
The shock caused the brick to fall. In the subsequent
confusion Alfred modestly withdrew to the sitting-room.
"At this rate," he chuckled, "I shall not have long to
wait. A few weeks of that strain will finish her."
Six months had passed.
It was now mid-winter.
And still the girl lived. Her vitality appeared
She got up earlier and earlier. She now rose yesterday
At intervals she seemed almost sane, and spoke in a most
pathetic manner of her grave and the probability of the
sun shining on it early in the morning, and her mother
walking on it later in the day. At other times her malady
would seize her, and she would snatch the brick off the
string and throw it fiercely at Tennyson. Once, in an
uncontrollable fit of madness, she gave her sister Effie
a half-share in her garden tools and an interest in a
box of mignonette.
The poet stayed doggedly on. In the chill of the morning
twilight he broke the ice in his water-basin and cursed
the girl. But he felt that he had broken the ice and he
On the whole, life at the cottage, though rugged, was
not cheerless. In the long winter evenings they would
gather around a smoking fire of peat, while Tennyson read
aloud the Idylls of the King to the rude old cottager.
Not to show his rudeness, the old man kept awake by
sitting on a tin-tack. This also kept his mind on the
right tack. The two found that they had much in common,
especially the old cottager. They called each other
"Alfred" and "Hezekiah" now.
Time moved on and spring came.
Still the girl baffled the poet.
"I thought to pass away before," she would say with a
mocking grin, "but yet alive I am, Alfred, alive I am."
Tennyson was fast losing hope.
Worn out with early rising, they engaged a retired
Pullman-car porter to take up his quarters, and being a
negro his presence added a touch of colour to their life.
The poet also engaged a neighbouring divine at fifty
cents an evening to read to the child the best hundred
books, with explanations. The May Queen tolerated him,
and used to like to play with his silver hair, but
protested that he was prosy.
At the end of his resources the poet resolved upon
He chose an evening when the cottager and his wife were
out at a dinner-party.
At nightfall Tennyson and his accomplices entered the
She defended herself savagely with her brick, but was
The negro seated himself upon her chest, while the
clergyman hastily read a few verses about the comfort of
early rising at the last day.
As he concluded, the poet drove his pen into her eye.
"Last call!" cried the negro porter triumphantly.
III.—OLD MR. LONGFELLOW ON BOARD THE HESPERUS.
"It was the schooner Hesperus that sailed the wintry sea,
And the skipper had taken his little daughter to bear
There were but three people in the cabin party of the
Hesperus: old Mr. Longfellow, the skipper, and the
The skipper was much attached to the child, owing to the
singular whiteness of her skin and the exceptionally
limpid blue of her eyes; she had hitherto remained on
shore to fill lucrative engagements as albino lady in a
This time, however, her father had taken her with him
for company. The girl was an endless source of amusement
to the skipper and the crew. She constantly got up games
of puss-in-the-corner, forfeits, and Dumb Crambo with
her father and Mr. Longfellow, and made Scripture puzzles
and geographical acrostics for the men.
Old Mr. Longfellow was taking the voyage to restore his
shattered nerves. From the first the captain disliked
Henry. He was utterly unused to the sea and was nervous
and fidgety in the extreme. He complained that at sea
his genius had not a sufficient degree of latitude. Which
was unparalleled presumption.
On the evening of the storm there had been a little jar
between Longfellow and the captain at dinner. The captain
had emptied it several times, and was consequently in a
reckless, quarrelsome humour.
"I confess I feel somewhat apprehensive," said old Henry
nervously, "of the state of the weather. I have had some
conversation about it with an old gentleman on deck who
professed to have sailed the Spanish main. He says you
ought to put into yonder port."
"I have," hiccoughed the skipper, eyeing the bottle, and
added with a brutal laugh that "he could weather the
roughest gale that ever wind did blow." A whole Gaelic
society, he said, wouldn't fizz on him.
Draining a final glass of grog, he rose from his chair,
said grace, and staggered on deck.
All the time the wind blew colder and louder.
The billows frothed like yeast. It was a yeast wind.
The evening wore on.
Old Henry shuffled about the cabin in nervous misery.
The skipper's daughter sat quietly at the table selecting
verses from a Biblical clock to amuse the ship's bosun,
who was suffering from toothache.
At about ten Longfellow went to his bunk, requesting the
girl to remain up in his cabin.
For half an hour all was quiet, save the roaring of the
Then the girl heard the old gentleman start up in bed.
"What's that bell, what's that bell?" he gasped.
A minute later he emerged from his cabin wearing a cork
jacket and trousers over his pyjamas.
"Sissy," he said, "go up and ask your pop who rang that
The obedient child returned.
"Please, Mr. Longfellow," she said, "pa says there weren't
The old man sank into a chair and remained with his head
buried in his hands.
"Say," he exclaimed presently, "someone's firing guns
and there's a glimmering light somewhere. You'd better
go upstairs again."
Again the child returned.
"The crew are guessing at an acrostic, and occasionally
they get a glimmering of it."
Meantime the fury of the storm increased.
The skipper had the hatches battered down.
Presently Longfellow put his head out of a porthole and
called out, "Look here, you may not care, but the cruel
rocks are goring the sides of this boat like the horns
of an angry bull."
The brutal skipper heaved the log at him. A knot in it
struck a plank and it glanced off.
Too frightened to remain below, the poet raised one of
the hatches by picking out the cotton batting and made
his way on deck. He crawled to the wheel-house.
The skipper stood lashed to the helm all stiff and stark.
He bowed stiffly to the poet. The lantern gleamed through
the gleaming snow on his fixed and glassy eyes. The man
was hopelessly intoxicated.
All the crew had disappeared. When the missile thrown by
the captain had glanced off into the sea, they glanced
after it and were lost.
At this moment the final crash came.
Something hit something. There was an awful click followed
by a peculiar grating sound, and in less time than it
takes to write it (unfortunately), the whole wreck was
As the vessel sank, Longfellow's senses left him. When
he reopened his eyes he was in his own bed at home, and
the editor of his local paper was bending over him.
"You have made a first-rate poem of it, Mr. Longfellow,"
he was saying, unbending somewhat as he spoke, "and I am
very happy to give you our cheque for a dollar and a
quarter for it."
"Your kindness checks my utterance," murmured Henry
feebly, very feebly.
A, B, and C
THE HUMAN ELEMENT IN MATHEMATICS
The student of arithmetic who has mastered the first four
rules of his art, and successfully striven with money
sums and fractions, finds himself confronted by an unbroken
expanse of questions known as problems. These are short
stories of adventure and industry with the end omitted,
and though betraying a strong family resemblance, are
not without a certain element of romance.
The characters in the plot of a problem are three people
called A, B, and C. The form of the question is generally
of this sort:
"A, B, and C do a certain piece of work. A can do as much
work in one hour as B in two, or C in four. Find how long
they work at it."
"A, B, and C are employed to dig a ditch. A can dig as
much in one hour as B can dig in two, and B can dig twice
as fast as C. Find how long, etc. etc."
Or after this wise:
"A lays a wager that he can walk faster than B or C. A
can walk half as fast again as B, and C is only an
indifferent walker. Find how far, and so forth."
The occupations of A, B, and C are many and varied. In
the older arithmetics they contented themselves with
doing "a certain piece of work." This statement of the
case however, was found too sly and mysterious, or possibly
lacking in romantic charm. It became the fashion to define
the job more clearly and to set them at walking matches,
ditch-digging, regattas, and piling cord wood. At times,
they became commercial and entered into partnership,
having with their old mystery a "certain" capital. Above
all they revel in motion. When they tire of
walking-matches—A rides on horseback, or borrows a
bicycle and competes with his weaker-minded associates
on foot. Now they race on locomotives; now they row; or
again they become historical and engage stage-coaches;
or at times they are aquatic and swim. If their occupation
is actual work they prefer to pump water into cisterns,
two of which leak through holes in the bottom and one of
which is water-tight. A, of course, has the good one; he
also takes the bicycle, and the best locomotive, and the
right of swimming with the current. Whatever they do they
put money on it, being all three sports. A always wins.
In the early chapters of the arithmetic, their identity
is concealed under the names John, William, and Henry,
and they wrangle over the division of marbles. In algebra
they are often called X, Y, Z. But these are only their
Christian names, and they are really the same people.
Now to one who has followed the history of these men
through countless pages of problems, watched them in
their leisure hours dallying with cord wood, and seen
their panting sides heave in the full frenzy of filling
a cistern with a leak in it, they become something more
than mere symbols. They appear as creatures of flesh and
blood, living men with their own passions, ambitions,
and aspirations like the rest of us. Let us view them in
turn. A is a full-blooded blustering fellow, of energetic
temperament, hot-headed and strong-willed. It is he who
proposes everything, challenges B to work, makes the
bets, and bends the others to his will. He is a man of
great physical strength and phenomenal endurance. He has
been known to walk forty-eight hours at a stretch, and
to pump ninety-six. His life is arduous and full of peril.
A mistake in the working of a sum may keep him digging
a fortnight without sleep. A repeating decimal in the
answer might kill him.
B is a quiet, easy-going fellow, afraid of A and bullied
by him, but very gentle and brotherly to little C, the
weakling. He is quite in A's power, having lost all his
money in bets.
Poor C is an undersized, frail man, with a plaintive
face. Constant walking, digging, and pumping has broken
his health and ruined his nervous system. His joyless
life has driven him to drink and smoke more than is good
for him, and his hand often shakes as he digs ditches.
He has not the strength to work as the others can, in
fact, as Hamlin Smith has said, "A can do more work in
one hour than C in four."
The first time that ever I saw these men was one evening
after a regatta. They had all been rowing in it, and it
had transpired that A could row as much in one hour as
B in two, or C in four. B and C had come in dead fagged
and C was coughing badly. "Never mind, old fellow," I
heard B say, "I'll fix you up on the sofa and get you
some hot tea." Just then A came blustering in and shouted,
"I say, you fellows, Hamlin Smith has shown me three
cisterns in his garden and he says we can pump them until
to-morrow night. I bet I can beat you both. Come on. You
can pump in your rowing things, you know. Your cistern
leaks a little, I think, C." I heard B growl that it was
a dirty shame and that C was used up now, but they went,
and presently I could tell from the sound of the water
that A was pumping four times as fast as C.
For years after that I used to see them constantly about
town and always busy. I never heard of any of them eating
or sleeping. Then owing to a long absence from home, I
lost sight of them. On my return I was surprised to no
longer find A, B, and C at their accustomed tasks; on
inquiry I heard that work in this line was now done by
N, M, and O, and that some people were employing for
algebraica jobs four foreigners called Alpha, Beta, Gamma,
Now it chanced one day that I stumbled upon old D, in the little
garden in front of his cottage, hoeing in the sun. D is an aged
labouring man who used occasionally to be called in to help A,
B, and C. "Did I know 'em, sir?" he answered, "why, I knowed 'em
ever since they was little fellows in brackets. Master A, he
were a fine lad, sir, though I always said, give me Master B for
kind-heartedness-like. Many's the job as we've been on together,
sir, though I never did no racing nor aught of that, but just
the plain labour, as you might say. I'm getting a bit too old
and stiff for it nowadays, sir—just scratch about in the
garden here and grow a bit of a logarithm, or raise a common
denominator or two. But Mr. Euclid he use me still for them
propositions, he do."
From the garrulous old man I learned the melancholy end of
my former acquaintances. Soon after I left town, he told
me, C had been taken ill. It seems that A and B had been
rowing on the river for a wager, and C had been running
on the bank and then sat in a draught. Of course the bank
had refused the draught and C was taken ill. A and B came
home and found C lying helpless in bed. A shook him
roughly and said, "Get up, C, we're going to pile wood."
C looked so worn and pitiful that B said, "Look here, A,
I won't stand this, he isn't fit to pile wood to-night."
C smiled feebly and said, "Perhaps I might pile a little
if I sat up in bed." Then B, thoroughly alarmed, said,
"See here, A, I'm going to fetch a doctor; he's dying."
A flared up and answered, "You've no money to fetch a
doctor." "I'll reduce him to his lowest terms," B said
firmly, "that'll fetch him." C's life might even then
have been saved but they made a mistake about the medicine.
It stood at the head of the bed on a bracket, and the
nurse accidentally removed it from the bracket without
changing the sign. After the fatal blunder C seems to
have sunk rapidly. On the evening of the next day, as
the shadows deepened in the little room, it was clear to
all that the end was near. I think that even A was affected
at the last as he stood with bowed head, aimlessly offering
to bet with the doctor on C's laboured breathing. "A,"
whispered C, "I think I'm going fast." "How fast do you
think you'll go, old man?" murmured A. "I don't know,"
said C, "but I'm going at any rate."—The end came soon
after that. C rallied for a moment and asked for a certain
piece of work that he had left downstairs. A put it in
his arms and he expired. As his soul sped heavenward A
watched its flight with melancholy admiration. B burst
into a passionate flood of tears and sobbed, "Put away
his little cistern and the rowing clothes he used to
wear, I feel as if I could hardly ever dig again."—The
funeral was plain and unostentatious. It differed in
nothing from the ordinary, except that out of deference
to sporting men and mathematicians, A engaged two hearses.
Both vehicles started at the same time, B driving the
one which bore the sable parallelopiped containing the
last remains of his ill-fated friend. A on the box of
the empty hearse generously consented to a handicap of
a hundred yards, but arrived first at the cemetery by
driving four times as fast as B. (Find the distance to
the cemetery.) As the sarcophagus was lowered, the grave
was surrounded by the broken figures of the first book
of Euclid.—It was noticed that after the death of C, A
became a changed man. He lost interest in racing with B,
and dug but languidly. He finally gave up his work and
settled down to live on the interest of his bets.—B
never recovered from the shock of C's death; his grief
preyed upon his intellect and it became deranged. He grew
moody and spoke only in monosyllables. His disease became
rapidly aggravated, and he presently spoke only in words
whose spelling was regular and which presented no difficulty
to the beginner. Realizing his precarious condition he
voluntarily submitted to be incarcerated in an asylum,
where he abjured mathematics and devoted himself to
writing the History of the Swiss Family Robinson in words
of one syllable.
Many of the sketches which form the present volume have
already appeared in print. Others of them are new. Of
the re-printed pieces, "Melpomenus Jones," "Policeman
Hogan," "A Lesson in Fiction," and many others were
contributions by the author to the New York Truth. The
"Boarding-House Geometry" first appeared in Truth, and
was subsequently republished in the London Punch, and in
a great many other journals. The sketches called the
"Life of John Smith," "Society Chit-Chat," and "Aristocratic
Education" appeared in Puck. "The New Pathology" was
first printed in the Toronto Saturday Night, and was
subsequently republished by the London Lancet, and by
various German periodicals in the form of a translation.
The story called "Number Fifty-Six" is taken from the
Detroit Free Press. "My Financial Career" was originally
contributed to the New York Life, and has been frequently
reprinted. The Articles "How to Make a Million Dollars"
and "How to Avoid Getting Married," etc. are reproduced
by permission of the Publishers' Press Syndicate. The
wide circulation which some of the above sketches have
enjoyed has encouraged the author to prepare the present
The author desires to express his sense of obligation to
the proprietors of the above journals who have kindly
permitted him to republish the contributions which appeared
in their columns.