SHELLEY's ELOPEMENT. By ALEXANDER HARVEY. Alfred A. Knopf.
This book is one of the most glorious blasphemies ever printed. I have long recognized in Alexander Harvey one of those extremely rare types of genius, of which, curiously enough, America seems to have a monopoly. The United States have not produced any all-round men of the first class, but they have produced quite a number of what I may call, without any intent of disparagement, monsters.
Morphy's games of chess are entirely sui generis. He was different not only in kind, but in degree, from all other masters, and this, owing to the peculiar nature of the game of chess, resulted in the complete over-turning of the theory of the game. In chess problems, Sam Loyd and W. A. Shinkman displayed a precisely similar quality. Their problems are not well rounded and balanced, like those of other masters of the art. They are comparable with nothing else. One feels the emotion of a naturalist familiar with all other fauna who should suddenly be introduced to Australian zoology. In art, America has George Grey Barnard, whose Lincoln is like no other type of statue ever moulded. In vaudeville, we have Eva Tanguay, of whom I have already written in terms of no little enthusiasm. While other variety artists are like different vintages of Burgundy, Claret, Port, Champagne, and other wines, she breaks the entire series by producing cocaine. In literature, there are Poe and Whitman. Neither of these great men had the broad base of education. They have shot up by the mutation of a spiritual De Vries. Alexander Harvey reminds me constantly of Poe, but he is a Poe without the element of tragedy or morbidity; while his comic spirit is more ineffably delightful than that of any other human being, past or present, with whom I am familiar. Poe's comedy was labored, clumsy, hard-working foolery. Alexander Harvey's is perfectly spontaneous, and of such exquisite delicacy and acuteness, that he reminds one of the bistoury of a crazy surgeon.
In Shelley's Elopement, he has taken Bernard Shaw's formula for creating absurdity. It is a very simple formula. One reflects that Caesar was not a hero to his valet, and that sometimes his toga set awry. The joke consists in making the heroic figure ridiculous by making him real. Shaw's method is mere clowning. Alexander Harvey's is perfect artistic perception of the realities of life. In this book he shows you the characters concerned with the absolute fidelity of a Balzac.
One understands instantly that one is actually present at these scenes of Shelley's life. The atmosphere of the first four lustres of the 19th century, with its affectations and prejudices, is the breath of our lungs as we read. Shelley is screamingly ridiculous, Principal Harlequin in a mad domestic pantomime: and here is the miracle, that Alexander Harvey can show us this insane revel of dolts, and bums, and prigs, and dowdies, and with a single touch he can "life's leaden metal into gold transmute." The sublime appears phantastically shapen out of nothing, literally without effort. And this is the secret of life. This is the sublime and sacred jest of the Gods, to take the gross, the stupid, the banal, and suddenly to manifest a flower.
For this reason I wish to put it upon record, that I think that Alexander Harvey is the greatest realist alive to-day. The dull rationalist dribbles of cause and effect, neither perceiving the one, nor understanding the other. Alexander Harvey has the mystery of Pan.
BEYOND LIFE. By TAMES BRANCH CABELL. Robert M. McBride & Co.
FOR four years I have been cast away upon a desert island, and I am seriously alarmed at beholding a footprint in the sand. As a matter of fact, the goats have acclimatized me to most things, and I take up the task of reviewing this book with all the more confidence, because the publisher begs me to abuse it. I dislike publishers intensely, and I am not going to abuse books merely because they ask me to, and even if I had wanted to abuse this book, I should have found myself in the position of Balaam.
It is an extraordinarily good book. I quite understand why the Times says that Mr. Cabell is "one of the most pretentiously attitudinizing of American authors." The Times has had some. But what does the Times matter? It used to be the thunderer. It is now an imitation of thunder which only Martial could describe, or an ambitious Marine imitate. What in God's name is an American author to do? He has got such a dreadful milieu that it is almost impossible to discover him. I never blamed the cock who failed to notice the pearl in the dung hill. Fortunately, I had Mr. Mencken to indicate Mr. Cabell. Thus, I was able to read the book as if I knew nothing of its surroundings, which is of course the only way to read a book. It is admirably written. It is a defence of romance. What does it matter that it is written among a people who think that romance means Robert W. Chambers? There are extraordinary things in this book. I do not think Mr. Cabell's irony so wonderful as his humour. He says, "The most prosaic of materialists proclaim that we are all descended from an insane fish, who somehow evolved the idea that it was his duty to live on land, and eventually succeeded in doing it." Insane fish is right. It is possible that the fish was not insane. It is
possible that he discovered that he could not get a drink, except water, and decided to emigrate. If that is insane, I am insane. I hope that Mr. Cabell is insane too, and that I shall meet him in the Solomon Islands.
ROBINSON C. CROWLEY.
THE TALES OF CHEKHOV. THE LADY WITH THE DOG and other Stories. THE DARLING and other Stories. THE WIFE and other Stories. THE DUEL and other Stories. THE WITCH and other Stories. Translated by CONSTANCE GARNETT. The Macmillan Co.
I WAS sitting at dinner in the Brevoort with some fascinating friends when, thinking no harm, I mentioned Chekhov. A chic adolescent at the next table introduced himself. He could not really let such an occasion pass. It was so rare to hear any one speak of Chekhov. It was he who had introduced Chekhov to the notice of English readers. He almost reminded me of what Dorian Grey used to say about Wonderful Boyhood. I thought of Keats' worst sonnet, and "Chatterton, Marvellous Boy!" But the chic adolescent, who was Mr. Robert Nichols, had a bullet in his neck, which explained the whole matter immediately to my satisfaction. Mr. Nichols also told me of how he was a great poet, of how he had started the war, or won it, or both. He said that his mother was called Mary, but that Vulgar report erred in saying that his father was named Joseph. Chekhov cannot hope to compete with this sort of thing. I forgot all about him. But I do wish I had one of Mr. Nichols' books to review.
However, here is the Macmillan Chekhov, and I maun e'en go to it.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mr. Edward Garnett, with the banality which he has trained us to expect from him, remarks that "Chekhov has been termed the Russian Maupassant, and there are indeed several Vital resemblances between the outlook of the French and the Russian master." Diving deeper into the commonplace, he continues to bore us with remarks upon "the art of both these unflinching realists."
Constance Garnett, one presumes, undertook the hard work of translating Russian as a relief from the intolerable boredom of her pinchbeck husband. Thus an all-wise Providence brings good from evil, for she is an excellent translator, apt to catch the spirit of a masterpiece.
Of course, Chekhov is the Russian Maupassant, for every Russian is under the curse of being a Russian something-European. There is nothing genuinely Russian in art or literature, because the Russian is in the ape stage of evolution. No matter how great his genius may be, it has to be cast in the mould of that which has been already shaped. Have you not seen those dalmatics covered with pearls-which no one has had the taste to match-sewn by princesses? Have you not seen those Gargantuan Bibles, their covers thick with precious stones,
where was no art to cut or polish, so that they look like bits of glass or half-sucked sweetmeats ?
The art of Russia has always been either without art, or with art derived. Napoleon was probably in an extremely bad temper when he spoke of Saint Basil's as "that mosque," but it is a mosque. It is probably the greatest building in the world in its peculiar way, but that way is the way of the mosque, even more so than St. Mark's or the cathedral at Granada. But the great Russians are not less because they have been compelled to wear civilized clothing. There is only one art purely Russian, and that is the `Russian Ballet,' which was not invented by Russians at all. The real Russian ballet is a savage mimicry of the Italian ballet. Have you not seen those uncut emeralds, the size of a walnut, through which the Tsars bored holes to wear them on a string? In its grossest stupidities the Russian spirit is still childishly great. I suppose a Russian cook could make something tasty of Edward Garnett, as a Chinese cook makes masterpieces of puppy dogs.
Chekhov is not to be judged at all by the standard of Guy de Maupassant. He is not to have his stories split up by our Garnetts or Barnetts or Darnetts into
c. historical-pastoral-comical etc.
Each story is to be judged by itself. This is of course true of every work of art, and that is why critics are such a hang-dog race of marmots. But speaking as a marmot, which is, after all, the right of marmots, Article I in the Magna Charta of marmots, I may say that Chekhov was very much better when he was not thinking of Kopecks. He has turned out a dreadful lot of bad work under the lash of the publisher. But at his best, in stories like The Witch, he is unsurpassed. One feels a positive anguish that one has not met that witch 1 Even a Gladys Belasco or a Lea de L'ame Morte-or Del Amor?-can hardly console one for her loss. Les amours nes de l'imagination--either one must smoke opium or hashish, or live in Russia, or allow oneself to be fooled by a Russian woman, or read Chekhov.
This is an admirable edition of Chekhov, but how is it, while I am on another subject, that a firm of the standing of Macmillan can publish Chekhov (either without fear of prosecution, or because they have squared the judges) with apparent good hope of selling a great number of copies, while a native Chekhov like Alexander Harvey finds it difficult to get a publisher, and all the other American Chekhovs can never get a story printed?
HEAVENLY BRIDEGROOMS. By THEODORE SCHROEDER and IDA C-. Reprinted from the Alienist and Neurologist.
Thiss book has been left entirely unedited by Mr. Theodore Schroeder, with the
exception of a very brief explanatory note. I may say that it is one of the most remarkable human documents ever produced, and it should certainly find a regular publisher in book form. The authoress of the MS. claims that she was the wife of an angel. She expounds at the greatest length the philosophy connected with this thesis. Her learning is enormous. She finds traces of similar beliefs in every country in the world, and (having a similar experience of her own) she can hardly be blamed for arguing that one thing confirms the other. Mr. Schroeder is quite logical in calling her paper An Unintentional Contribution to the Erotogenetic Interpretation of Religion, but commits the errors of petitio principii and non distributio medii with the most exquisite nonchalance. Only a lawyer could be so shameless. He begs the question with regard to this particular case, assuming that her relation with the angel was pure hallucination, of which he has no evidence whatever. He argues that, since one person both loves and is religious, religion is nothing but a morbid manifestation of the sexual instinct. One does not have even to disagree with him to see how worthless is his reasoning. As a matter of fact, I do half agree with him in my calmer moments in a general way, but the conclusion can be carried a step further. When you have proved that God is merely a name for the sex instinct, it appears to me not far to the perception that the sex instinct is God.
This particular MS. is absolutely sane in every line. The fact that the woman committed suicide twelve or fifteen years afterwards is no more against the sanity of the MS. than the suicide of Socrates proves that the Republic is merely the lucubration of a lunatic. I am very far from agreeing with all that this most talented woman sets forth in her paper, but she certainly obtained initiated knowl edge of extraordinary depth. She seems to have had access to certain most concealed sanctuaries. I should personally be inclined to attribute her suicide rather to the vengeance of the guardians of those palaces than to any more obvious cause. She has put down statements in plain English which are positively staggering. This book is of incalculable value to every student of occult matters. No Magick library is complete without it.
PAVANNES AND DIVISIONS. By EZRA POUND.
`My Country, 'tis o f thee.'
IT is by the happiest chance that Mr. Ezra Pound's Pavannes and Divisions should have come just when Americanism is in such vogue. For Mr. Pound is, if one may be pardoned so bold a phrase in a mere review, a hundred per cent. American. He has all the American craving for rules, all the American belief in teaching and training, all the American itch for definition; he abounds in the curiously national characteristic that has made America the land of those Colleges
and Correspondence Schools through which the earnest citizen may learn how to converse as though he had seen the world, make $125 a week, never forget any name or telephone number once heard, write a short story or a Broadway Revue, draw comic cartoons, manage his wife, never look more than thirty-five, and live to be a hundred.
Yet Mr. Pound is ignored by the great American public. When all the readers and reviewers in the land should be hasting in their thousands to acclaim this `new birth of our new soil, the first American'-as indeed Mr. Pound is the first Complete American high-brow, armed at all points, accoutred cap-d-pie-instead they persist in regarding him as an exotic, a fantastic, a new-art poseur. I suppose, because he lives in Europe, because he has written vers libre, because he has praised a man with a name like Gaudier-Brzeska. These trifling accidents do not in the least affect the essential Americanism of what he has done, and of the way in which he has done it.
He began by following rules, and now he is making them. According to precept he `copied masterwork, and proceeded to his own Composition.' He has taken himself with the seriousness of Whittier and Tupper and Howells and Mr. Winston Churchill. His reverence for the technique and toil of art is Bostonian. When he is not either observing the law or laying it down, he is as ill at ease as a pedagogue in a bar-room. His American Puritanism nibbles his ear all the time. His hatred of what he calls rhetoric, his mania for the `clear' and the `hard,' his earnest belief that poetry must never be a `pastime,' all derive from the American conscience; and so does his distaste for the Puritan poet Milton, whose extreme sensuality avenged its suppression magnificently unawares in the greater Miltonic lines.
But Mr. Pound's Puritanism is too distantly inherited. Like modern American Puritanism, it is a melancholy survival, drained of creative or destructive power. It is not a fierce and terrible thing, any more than the Puritanism of the modern New Englander is fierce and terrible. It nibbles at Mr. Pound, but it does not devour him; it has not strength left for that. It is not a Demogorgon, but a schoolmaster, not a victim or a priest. He has all the schoolmaster's love of the chalk and the blackboard, he has the true pedagogic flair for dogma, the true pedagogic knack of rapping it out `clear and hard' on the board, with the `expert' touch under which the chalk never crumbles. No writer, you would think, could be more acceptable to the American mind, for no nation in the world believes in the schoolmaster and his methods as America believes in them, no nation venerates pedagogy so profoundly. `But what is the good of style,' I was asked yesterday, `if it cannot be taught?'
Mr. Pound of course would not say that a man can be taught to be a poet or a prose-writer, but he is so pathetically at the mercy of `artistic principles,' he is so Puritanically conscious of artistic right and wrong, that he can never give us so
much as a half-holiday from the Ethical Culture Hall of his aesthetics. Whether he is making a creative appearance, as in Pavannes, or a critical appearance, as in Divisions, he has to impose upon us the propinquity of ferule and desk. Either by example or precept he must enforce the doctrine: `Look in your note-book and write.' And like all doctrinaires, Mr. Pound is exposed to the besetting sin of the half-true or the maybe-true platitude. `The mastery of any art is the work of
a lifetime,' for example. How about the art of lyric poetry, how about Sappho and Keats and Swinburne's early work? Again, we must have `direct treatment,' Mr. Pound affirms, and we must `use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.' Such pronouncements are either platitudes or untrue, they either mean nothing that can't betaken for granted or a good deal that can't. The last of these `principles' is that one should `compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of a metronome.' If this means that
`My brother John was nine in May;
And I'll be twelve on New Year's day'
is not fine poetry, let's shake hands: but if it means that
`Till the maid, knowing her mother near,
Sobs with love, aching with sweet fear'
are not poetic lines, it means nonsense. In either case, the dictum is pointless, it leads nowhere at all. We do not need an official censure of crude and jingly rime, and we need something more than the mere comparison of the regular sequence of rime to the sequence of a metronome to disparage the genius of those great poets who happened not to write free verse.
Mr. Pound himself in the Pavannes tries rime as a `diversion.' L'homme Moyen Sensuel once again confirms the impression of him as a serious schoolmaster, and as an American. For he relaxes consciously, he is as conscious of his diversion as the schoolmaster is of the Norfolk suit donned for a game of golf or a fishing expedition or a trip to Paris; and in his treatment of humour as a thing by itself, a thing in a separate compartment of its own, he is intensely American, American a l'outrance. Stark Realism, another of the Pavannes pieces, proclaims this same deliberate and detached American humour, a humour that is no salt for sprinkling, but is stocked in chunks to be made a whole meal of at a time. Stark Realism might have got into The Smart Set if the manuscript had been sent there and had happened upon a hospitable editorial mood. L'homme Moyen Sensuel is in its way a more striking affair, because the attempt to spring is so evident that one is positively startled by its not coming off. You wonder where the author has landed; and you find, quite surprisingly, that he has not landed at all. The verse is so Byronic in its demeanour that you feel there must be barbs in it somewhere; it is really a shock not to discover a single one.
There is a profoundly American phrase that recurs to the reader of this book
of Mr. Pound's-'going through the motions.' The author `goes through the motions' not only in L'homme Moyen Sensuel: he is always making you think he is about to do something, then he never does it. Take any of the first four Pavannes pieces. There are all the preliminaries, but never the achievement. The most elaborate and painstaking preparations have been made for Mr. Pound's marriage with his Art, but alas! the union has never been consummated.
Yet even about his sterility there is something engaging. He is much too American for any Englishman ever to dislike him. The Americans who rile us are the ones who are not American enough. As it is impossible to be angry with the authentic professor or the authentic American, so it is impossible to be angry with Mr. Pound. For one thing, what a simple wholesome American pleasure he culls from the use of French words and phrases! He, like all other real Americans and real professors, disarms by his naivete, his earnestness, his industry, his patience. He is untiringly patient, both with other people and with himself. One sees clearly that he is a kind, and, I am sure, a good man. I do not speak ironically. This American goodness, this American patience are beautifully distinctive national qualities to which no sort of justice has yet been done by foreign observers. They should be more widely known: and Mr. Pound's Americanism should be more widely known.
EVOLUTION CRITICISED. By T. B. BISHOP. Oliphants Ltd.
BLOODY BILL is commonly supposed to have been somewhat severe with the Belgians. But only the `spurlos versenkt' suggestion of an admittedly insane agent of his approaches the maniacal savagery of I Samuel xv, 3, and by no means matches the undiscriminating imbecility of its ferocity:
"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
Who is the author of this order? It is the father of Jesus Christ. "I and my father are one." It is therefore the God of Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, the American people (if their newspapers lie not), and a very few particularly troglodytic Englishmen of whom Mr. T. B. Bishop is a striking `survival of the meanest.'
Mr. Bishop really believes that this tribal demon designed butterflies, and put the rainbow in the sky as a guarantee that the world would never be destroyed by water. He even thinks that it once was destroyed by water! When any student of nature discovers beauty, or design, or evidence of intelligence, Mr. Bishop falls into a senile rage. He is not content with destroying his fellowman, with his wife, children, cattle, and so on; Mr. Bishop is not happy unless he is sure that they will all be roasted without cessation or hope.
In the meanwhile, Mr. Bishop writes a book to prove the truth of all this prehistoric nonsense. Mr. Bishop's intelligence is very far beneath the human level. For example, he actually maintains that the claws and teeth of predatory animals have been given to them out of kindness towards their prey! You would think it was impossible for any one to miss the point of the argument that nature is cruel. The fact is that Mr. Bishop's ideas of kindness are a little crude, like his ideas of writing a book. This is not really a book at all. It's mere scissors and paste. Its main argument is that as two men of science have differed on some minute detail of theory, there is no value in science. He does not in the least understand the subject on which he is writing. He does not understand the canon of reason. He has only one idea, which is, that the Bible (authorized translation) is literally true in every detail. His great explanation of everything that seems a little peculiar is that it is the result of sin. He claims, however, that sin was caused by the devil, who was created by God, and that God foreknew and permitted all this, in order to inflict torture upon nearly everybody except Mr. Bishop. He would however deny furiously that the God who willingly and knowingly created the devil, was in any way responsible for him. This Kaiserlich-Chautauquamericanisch-Bishopisch God is therefore an illogical impossibility and absurdity. But this doesn't detract from the unmetaphysical conception of him as a monster.
Mr. Bishop is one of the best known philanthropists in England. Let us see how
he acts within his family circle. Here is a quotation from a bill of costs sent in to his nephew by the family solicitor. It should be understood that the nephew in question was at the time of the transaction entitled to a considerable sum of money which was in the hands of this solicitor, and that Mr. Bishop was aware of this:
"Attending Mrs. Bishop when she informed us that Mr. Bishop had received a letter from you that you were ill and needed money and she asked whether Mr. Bishop would be safe in sending you out any and generally answering your inquiries.
"Attending Mr. T. B. Bishop on his calling when he showed us the letter from you and stated that he was cabling you out £12."
A generous impulse is sometimes regretted by the impulsive one. Mr. Bishop's motto seems to be, "Safety First." Many years ago, as stated in THE EQUINOX, Mr. Bishop worked his sister to death in order to spare himself the expense of
a stenographer. Mr. Bishop is a man of considerable wealth, but he never allows it to injure his moral principles. The death of his sister left him with one other sister, and for her he professed the most unbounded devotion. As she lay dead in her house, he wrote long letters to her son about One pound, three and tuppence that she owed to the grocer, sixteen and nine pence that she owed to the butcher, and so on. I suppose he had her buried by the parish, though I have no information on this point; but he was the residuary legatee of her estate, and any
money expended in burying her would therefore have to come ultimately out of his own pocket, which is not very nice to think of, when you are 78 years old, rich and honoured, and your last near relative is lying dead in her house. I think possibly that he may have paid a few shillings for a cheap coffin, for the subject seems to worry him very much. Two years later he is trying to swindle this nephew aforesaid out of some property, and one of the arguments which he uses is, that if he gets this money to which he has no right, he will be able to have a stone put on the grave of his sister. I hope the readers of THE EQUINOX have been ignorant hitherto that there are any people like this Mr. Bishop; that they imagine the peasants in Zola's La Terre to be mostly imaginary: not that Zola's peasants are as disgusting as Mr. Bishop. He is certainly a very strong argument against evolution, though his book is not. After wearing out his sister Ada, finding himself faced with this expense of this stenographer aforesaid, he decided that it would be cheaper to get married. So he went to Llandudno; and, rather like Abraham when he found the ram caught in the thicket by its horns, he found a cow caught in the Children's Special Service Mission by her feet, which were exceptionally large, and took her as wife in name, and secretary and general servant in function. This female, however, developed an unsuspected quality. She made him shave, and Mr. Bishop, who had been going about London for forty years looking like a most venerable old gentleman, was seen to be a monkey. He looked like a monkey so much that the local zoologists used to frequent the neighbourhood of his house on Sunday afternoon. We have also seen that he thinks like a monkey, the god whom he has made in his own image being more ferocious than a gorilla, and far less intelligent. What then are the differences between Mr. Bishop and a monkey? They are not obvious, and I do not think that any man of science will disagree that it is better to leave it to the monkeys to discover them. But if they insist that he is a Nuctanthropus, we must try again, and see if we cannot class him among the cockroaches. There is a great gambit in what may be called by history the olfactory argument.
THE DORIS CASE OF MULTIPLE PERSONALITY. By WALTER F. PRINCE, Ph.D., and JAMES H. HYSLOP, Ph.D. Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, Vols. IX, X, XI. 1915; 1916; 1917. Three volumes
HERE is a nice little piece of reading for the occult student-some two thousand pages, weighing Lord knows how many pounds! And it contains some stuff. Volumes I and II are by Dr. Prince, and deal with the psychology of the case, its genesis and cure; Volume III is by Hyslop, and takes it up-as we might have supposed-from the "spiritualistic" point of view, and endeavours to prove that the various personalities are not such at all, in reality, but probably "spirits," who
are "obsessing" the poor girl, and causing all the disturbance. Shades of witchcraft and the New Testament-here is a joyous revival, in the Twentieth Century!
We have a girl, Doris Fischer, born in 1889 (of German parents), who developed, in all, five distinct personalities, each of which received a special name. Besides the original "Doris," we find "Sick Doris," "Margaret," and "Sleeping Margaret," and "Sleeping Real Doris." These five personalities are said to have shown varied characteristics (as is invariably the case) and to be essentially different, from the psychological point-of-view. As usual, also, several of them developed as the result of emotional shock, and disappeared under hypnosis and psychological treatment; one by one they were eliminated, until only "Real Doris" survived,-with traces of "Sleeping Margaret" persisting, as a sort of undercurrent of reality. These names, of course, apply to the so-called varied personalities which appeared during their shufflings back and forth; that is, their alternate appearances.
It must be admitted at once that Dr. Prince has made some interesting investigations in this curious case, and if we grant the reality of the facts, they have very considerable psychological interest. Of course, it is hard to prove that the whole thing is not a clever fraud. Girls of the kind have a habit of playing such parts, because of the attention they thereby attract; but let us grant their reality, for the sake of the argument. We have, then, an abnormal individual, who needs treatment and cure; and the sooner cured the better!
Now, at this point, our friends begin messing-about with "mediums," and as the result, obtain an extraordinary amount of rubbish, wholly disconnected from the case, by which they try to prove that the alternating personalities were really "spirits"! Most of these messages were obtained through a "Mrs. Chenoweth"a medium who has figured largely in the Reports of the American Society, though Heaven only knows why, as she gives us a constant flow of the most terrible drivel which it is possible to conceive. Looking through the so-called Reports on this medium, one is impressed with the idea that it is criminal to waste time, and the Society's money, obtaining such stuff, and criminal to keep pouring money down such a sink of Nothingness. What is the hold which this medium seems to have over the venerable Secretary of the Society? Is it more than a mere scientific interest? Are there subtler motives which cause the Head of the Psychical Movement in America to bow solemnly before the crude "Teachings" obtained through this evident fraud of a medium? Any common sense man-of the-world, reading this stuff, would form his own opinions,-for it is plain to see that,-by merely playing upon his vanity, and flattering him to the skies, this `medium' has managed to ingratiate herself so thoroughly with the noted Professor, that he has become blind to evidence, to facts, and to common sense.
Here are a few typical "Nuggets of Wisdom" from the sittings:
"They are not so clear about the life here as they will be when they come but
they mean all right. I had faith too but the knowledge is better. I had in mind a prayer that I used to want her to say long ago for I felt it important to pray and teach her to say the little prayer." (1917, p. 327.)
If this isn't mediumistic cant, I should like to know what is!
However, on another occasion, we read: "Go to hell and there you will find the information you seek my sweet friend." (p. 622.) Here is some sound advice!
This is another little gem, which is dished-up as part of the "proof of immortality"
"Mamma gave some advice and now comes to help in the work of proving that the love and care and interest does not cease at death but all is intensified and desires become actions and have effect in friends and loved ones. No one has been able to prove the power of thought and we are not able to prove that we do some things but when we find that the things we think and wish for are taking place then we realize that our thought has had some power even though we did not speak or act. I have no interest whatever that the things said do not match with what I believed in the past. One must tell things as they find them and not as they wish they were."
O tempora, o mores! Let us admit that "immortality" has now been proved; that Hyslop's Marvellous Medium has furnished the demonstration! We are to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, and there assist the Angels in the compilation of English Grammars (let us hope) for the use of those who communicate through Mrs. Chenoweth !
When one reads through stuff like this, one is driven to ask the question How can men of intelligence and learning, perhaps with skill in other lines of research, be driven to accept such nonsense as proof of anything beyond obvious fraud on the part of the "medium"? How can their sense of all that constitutes evidence be so lacking,-their judgment so at fault,-as to accept this drivel as proof of "spirits"? One can form only the opinion-one seems driven to this conclusion-that it is the "will to believe" which has influenced them in this mannernot the evidence itself, but their own warped and faulty judgment.
If one analyzes the facts, he finds that practically all those who have advertised their belief in "Immortality" are men well along in life-practically all past sixty, and some of them many years older. Evidently, they are entering their second childhood. They are so concerned with saving their own souls, with unifying "Science and Religion," with showing that they themselves are probably "Immortal," that they have lost all sense of humour, of proportion, of evidence, of all these qualities which together constitute the truly scientific scholar. As they are getting along in life, and can no longer enjoy it, they are haunted by the Spectre of Annihilation; and to escape this, they grasp at any straw, accept any evidence, swallow any "facts," given through a twopenny medium, which seem to afford
even the slightest "evidence" for "survival." The result is that they all accept such rubbish as that given above (which is part of the official record), and seriously claim that it affords them proof of survival-of Immortality! Heigh, Ho! This is a sad world, my children, but never sadder than when we see otherwise good intellects going to the Dogs in this fashion.
HODGSON Y. KNOTT.
THE VILLAGE. By ERNEST POOLE. The Macmillan Co.
THERE is a dreadful wrapper by Boardman Robinson, but he probably needed the money. It is quite the right wrapper too. Ernest Poole has driven the tank of ignorance and vulgarity across the steppes of Russia. Mr. Poole is not very deep, and he is exceptionally stagnant, with a thick green slime of New England prejudice on his surface. Even for a journalist he is appalling. Think of using
words like "destructed" 1 It deserves what he calls "le peine de mort." His method is to accumulate details, none of which he understands. There is no hint of vision. There is no understanding of Russia. There is nothing but interviews with uninteresting people, whose consciousness does not in any way represent them, or, as we used to say in days of less complicated speech, who do not know what they are talking about. Has he no shame to blot the 'scutcheon of the Pooes-the other scissors-knights of Savile Row?
The book is interesting enough to any one who knows Russia even slightly, if only because there is a laugh on every page. Some old poet, I forget his name, remarked:
"Some minds improve by travel, others rather
Resemble copper wire or brass,
Which gets the narrower by going farther."
The days of the innocent God-help-me tourist seem to be done. The tourist of to-day has been bullied by the Y. M. C. A., in intervals between grafts, into moral responsibility and Christian earnestness, and all that sort of thing. A man can hardly go from New York to Philadelphia without writing a serious biography of George Fox. The poop-stick has given place to the prig. I have no hope whatever for the future of humanity.
S. O. S.
THE CHILDREN'S HOMER. By PADRAIC COLUM. The Macmillan Co.
ONE Of the points of art is adaptation of the means to the end. If the children of America are nurtured on the world's greatest story, it will be very nice for everybody in thirty years or so. It seems hopeless to get the present generation to understand that unless they read Greek, they are savages, who, if they are not cannibals, are simply so because they have no skill in cookery.
So Padraic Colum has tried to civilize young America in the right way. No more important task has ever been undertaken, for civilization, education, are fundamental. Reformers usually make the mistake of the empiric, and try to re lieve the symptoms. It is quite useless to try to relieve the symptoms of America.
Willy Pogany is not Flaxman, but he is Flaxman enough for children, and now and again, as in the picture facing page 106 (and several others), he is Flaxman enough for nearly everybody. (You cannot expect an illustrator as such to be altogether Flaxman in an age where artists have to earn their living.) But it is impossible to give too much praise to the prose of Padraic Colum. It is simple enough for a child who has just learned to read. It is good enough for a book-worm-eaten hag like myself, sodden on Sterne and Swift. A book like this revives the drooping flower of hope; so long as there are people willing to try, there is still hope for humanity.
HOW TO SING A SONG. By YVETTE GUILBERT. The Macmillan Co.
IT is commonplace that Yvette Guilbert is the greatest artist of her period. It is a tragedy that her art happens to be ephemeral. The poignancy of such a realization is like that which one feels in the eternal Greek which Synge re-awakened in the wild Western world. I am thinking of Riders to the Sea. Experience dulls us; words are prostituted in the brothel of life. In Riders to the Sea, Synge says merely, "A man was drowned."
His genius sweeps away the cobwebs which time spins over the door of the cavern of our imagination. We realize the meaning of those words, "A man was drowned."
This power to make us feel is the divine thing in art. It is the creative force which answers "Yea" to the prophet's cynical, "Lord, shall these dead bones live?" Now this is exactly what Yvette Guilbert has done for song. She has not done it for one century only. She has made all time speak, give up its secret, to those who are capable to live in that divine air of the spirit which magazines, cocktails, and automobiles so easily pollute.
I see in Yvette Guilbert not only an artist in the ordinary sense of the word, but an artist like Blake. Her preface on Time might have come from a Book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon in the period before that in which he could not do it any more. Vanity of vanities? Contemptuously Yvette Guilbert replies, "Does life ever stop?"
I am not a singer. The technique of music is to me a mournful mystery. Yet in reading this book I find a thousand splendid counsels valid for all art. This book is more than "How to sing a song." It is a philosophical treatise on How to
do anything. The arts are one. There is nothing but creation. As it is written, Love is the law, love under will. It is apprehension of this fact that makes artistry of any sort possible. It explains why there are no artists in America, or at
least the most we can say is, "Finger of birth-strangled babe, Ditch-delivered by a drab," the only decent ingredient in the cauldron of bourgeoisie gone mad.
It is impossible to go into details with regard to this book. In every page Yvette Guilbert unconsciously reveals her unique greatness. Her brain is great enough to comprehend the minutiae of technique without in the smallest degree forgetting the fact that technique is absolutely worthless without genius. America is full of technicians, and I suspect that a number of geniuses are born. But the genius is strangled before he can acquire technique, and the technician unfortunately is not strangled at all. But any one who wants to do something worth doing and go to prison, should sleep with this book under his pillow, if he has a pillow.
THE BOY WHO KNEW WHAT THE BIRDS SAID. By PADRAIC COLUM. The Macmillan Co.
I THINK the grotesques of Dugald Stewart Walker are extremely charming. They go well with the subtle and tender genius of Padraic Colum. This is only a book for children. But thank God! there are some of us who are children still. This is only a book of fairy tales. But thank God! there are still some fairies. There are still a few people in the world who love beauty, and who are willing to fight for freedom. To read the newspapers, one would suppose that freedom was dead for ever. But with whatever bonds they will bind liberty, there will always be a few like Padraic Colum to keep Her torch alight. We may not be allowed to speak or write what we think, but life will always live in fairyland, and an hour cometh when the doors of fairyland will open, and the iron hero nursed on fairy milk will strike the tyrants dead.
.GITANJALI AND FRUIT-GATHERING. By RABINDRANATH TAGORE. The Macmillan Co.
KNOWING that whatever is good in Rabindranath Tagore is due to the style of W. B. Yeats, I expected the introduction to be by that individual, who might have been romantic if he had been willing to wash his face and put on a clean collar every month or so. The introduction begins, "A few days ago I said to a distinguished Bengali doctor of medicine, `I know no German."' Apart from the question as to whether Silly Willy counts his fortune in marks or not, I was much distracted by his reference.
I found myself back again in Teng-Yueh. We were sitting at dinner in the Consul's house, when the messenger broke in to tell us that the Consul-who was away among some unruly tribes-was ill, perhaps dying. We jumped up, George Forrest, the botanist, and I, and made ready. We were delayed two hours in starting by the "distinguished Bengali doctor of medicine," who needed to finish his rice. It was nine o'clock before we got off. It was a wild, windy night,
the moon treacherously gleaming through blown wrack of clouds. I found it impossible to ride my pony, for his hoofs slipped on the wet flags in the darkness. Walking was almost as bad, for my ironshod mountain boots were as slippery as the shoes of the tatu. But we pushed on, gasping, up hill, down dale, all through the night. Dawn broke, chill and grey, on the crest of a great mountain. Far in the distance I saw specks. I left my pony, and ran headlong down the slopes. I had got almost to the bottom of the hill when I saw the Consul's litter. Forrest ran forward. I turned sadly back, for I saw that the Consul's legs were tied. I knew that he was dead. In that country where a thousand plagues hunt down mankind, it was most urgent that a medical man should certify the cause of death. How lucky that we had with us a distinguished Bengali doctor of medicine! There was only one slight hitch in the programme. The moment that I told him that the Consul was dead, he turned his donkey and bolted for safety. Holy Kali, it might be an infectious disease! There was no point in chasing the creature at the moment. The matter could wait our return. We brought the Consul to his house and Forrest asked me to bring the doctor round. It was necessary to make an official report of the death, and the cause of the death. I went round to the house of the "distinguished Bengali doctor of medicine." He was seated before a pyramid of rice. I attracted his attention by burying a whalebone cutting whip in the rolls of his fat. Between fifty and sixty applications of this instrument secured his presence in the room where we had the corpse. But not even the fear of the whip would induce him to touch it.
Rabindranath Tagore is the biggest bluff ever put over the unsuspecting American public. His mysticism makes even Maeterlinck's wishy-washy twaddle seem virile. I have never read such slop. The illustrations match it. The whole production of Young India is babu in the Anglo-Indian sense of the word. The spirit of India is utterly absent. Drawings and writing alike resemble the senseless flourishes of some callow student. And all this while the babu, while accepting what he imagines to be honours, such as knighthood, from England, is plotting sneakishly in the Bengali manner against her. I would to God that the British would withdraw from India for six months, so that the men of India might exterminate these fatherless fish-eaters, this spawn of female dogs that, without caste even in its own slime of bastardy, asserts itelf in America as a `young nation.'
KWAW LI YA.
THE DANCE OF SHIVA. By Dr. ANANDA KENT COOMARASWAMY. Sunwise Turn, Inc.
THE plot thickens. There is certainly no one equal to Dr. Coomaraswamy for tangling up situations, perhaps not always too pleasantly. Nor can one be very sure how far Dr. Coomaraswamy is himself responsible, for wherever he is the line between meum and tuum becomes gossamer of a kind that has seen better
days. Consider the first child, \arada, who is a bastard. Was the father the 'worm' after all? We have nothing for it but the unsupported statement of its mother, the 'worm's' second wife. This may be doubted. Even the colour tells us nothing, for there were plenty of pigmented people in London at the date of the story.
When the 'worm's' first wife has divorced him, and he is married to the second wife, one might imagine that complications would be less. Not at all. The first time he leaves her alone, he sets up a harem in India, while she, travelling thither to join him under the charge of his best friend, Dr. Paira 'lull, immediately begins an intrigue with this fascinating Panjabi. The 'worm' seems rather to have welcomed this domestic tangle, as Paira Mull is very well off.
The second child, Rohini, is the offspring of this liaison. About this time, the 'worm' is getting out a book of Indian folk songs, and he actually tries to include a number of translations made by his wife's lover as his own. However, he is forced by her (after a stormy scene) to make a very inadequate acknowledgment, and we are given to understand that he only does this because the show can be so easily given away, the 'worm' not knowing ten words of the language from which he is supposed to be translating. Isn't this complex enough for anybody? Ah, no! Dr. Coomaraswamy is merely flapping his wings icily. He can stage much stronger dramas. So you see the 'worm' and his wife in New fork-of all places! The first thing that strikes him is the High Cost Of Living, and he hastens to offer his wife to the first comer. A friendly agreement is reached in conference by which a divorce shall be obtained, and a new marriage contracted with Alice's new lover. I forget the disposition of the children, whether it was odd man out, or the first Jack, who had to look after the business.
But, three months later, the tragedy begins. The 'worm' is struck by the appalling thought that perhaps Alice's new lover may not fall in so simply with the scheme. He manifests reluctance to pay the expenses of the divorce, arguing with some show of good sense that he does not see why he should pay for relieving another man of his rubbish. The situation is complicated by the fact that Alice has again become pregnant.
The 'worm' resolves upon a remarkably ingenious solution of his troubles. Past experience has shown him that his wife, when in a 'delicate condition of health,' cannot stand a sea voyage. Previous to the birth of the second child, she had nearly miscarried and nearly died. "How then," thinks he to himself, "can I clear myself once and for all? I will make up to my wife. I will pull out the pathetic stop. I will make mischief between her and her lover. I will forge telegrams, and do anything else that may be necessary. But I will get her to go over to England. That will put an end to the child, and very likely to her too, and then perhaps Paira Mull will take at least one of the children-his own-off my hands. Narada, too, is not legally my child at all. He is just a nameless bastard."
So thinks the `worm,' and so he does. The only detail in which his scheme goes wrong is that his wife manages, against all odds, to survive her miscarriage.
All this time, the `worm' himself is living with a German prostitute; and, as he finds this expensive, he tries to keep the wolf from the door by getting this unfortunate woman to copy out various items from the works of his wife's lover, which are not very well known in America, and she proceeds to hawk them about New York. The man whose property they are will not be likely to hear of it, as the inexplicable conduct of Alice has more or less broken his heart, and he has become a sort of hermit.
But the wife turns up again like a bad penny. The `worm' has by this time got rather tired of the German girl, and he goes off to Chicago after another woman, leaving his wife and his mistress to share a room at the McAlpin. Instead of quarreling, they made Friends, and the wholly icily murderous plot is laid bare. Alice now makes strenuous efforts to get back her lover, but he is one of those people who learn by experience. He merely exposes the `worm's' attempt to pirate his property.
It seems to us that Dr. Coomaraswamy leaves the story at what might have been its most interesting complication. It stops right there. The `worm' gets a job as curator of the Oriental Department of some Art Museum in Boston, and settles down with his wife to live happy ever after. I feel that this may be life, but it is not art.
A MOURNER CLAD IN GREEN.
FOUR DIMENSIONAL VISTAS. By CLAUDE BRAGDON. Alfred A. Knopf, 1916.
IT is a great pleasure to read this book, for although in some points we may find ourselves obliged to disagree with the author, the general effect is that a perusal leaves one with the feeling of having been at home; that is to say, on the planes of pure and exalted thought. We cannot say that Mr. Bragdon is in any sense an original thinker, as Hinton was, but he has done something to extend and pop ularize Hinton's ideas. Some of the analogies in this book are very illuminating. Unfortunately, as it appears to us, Mr. Bragdon is tied up with theosophical dogmas. He talks about the `new freedom,' and bases his whole argument on the idea that the material world is a shadow show. Yet he seems to think that the real (that is, the ideal) world is more easy of apprehension, if we bind ourselves hand and foot by the senseless and cruel taboos of the most primitive tribes. He also errs, as it seems to us, in placing the yogi whose attainment is wholly selfish above the man of genius. Blavatsky made no such error. She placed the poet above the adept.
In spite of his prave 'orts, Mr. Bragdon is not a clear thinker like Hinton. He is just a little bourgeois who has put on Hinton's hat, and it comes down very far indeed over his eyes. He cannot see that the interpretation of phenomena as
spiritual does not destroy their reality and the truth of their mutual relation, but rather confirms it. Shallow thinkers always seem to be obsessed by the stupidity that if anything is a shadow, dream, illusion, it ceases to exist. The rules of dreams are just as rigid as the rules of mathematics. You cannot do anything you like with a surd merely because it is an `impossible' or `imaginary' quantity. It is such booby traps that catch such asses in lion's skins as Mr. Bragdon.
OGILVIE'S ASTROLOGICAL BIRTHDAY BOOK. By LEO BERNART. J. S. Ogilvie Publishing Co.
IN the preface Mr. Bernart correctly states that the exact date and hour of birth are necessary to delineate a horoscope. Yet he publishes a book which attempts such a delineation on the birthday alone. Now, the birthday tells the astrologer nothing but the position of the sun in the zodiac at the time of birth, and this position varies to a small but sufficient extent in different years. This is indeed divining Hercules not merely from his foot, but from a big toe which may not be his at all. The error is often amusingly illustrated in the book itself. For example, Wm. T. Stead and Admiral Farragut were both born on July 5th.
On July 11th, John Quincy Adams and Wanamaker. This happy combination is told, "You are a good mimic and have a Singing voice. You are not as fond of literary and Scientific pursuits as you should be. You prefer the lighter side of life, which is all very well in its way, but the serious Side must have its innings also." On July 23rd, Mr. Bernart tells Cardinal Gibbons that he is religious but not orthodox. It is also new to me that the Cardinal `likes candy to an unusual degree.'
A great many of these delineations are evidently taken straight from the people who are mentioned as being born. For example, October 22nd, "You are emotional and dramatic and would make a success upon the stage in all probability," which is Sarah Bernhardt. And on Nansen's birthday, "You have romantic ideas in youth which probably express themselves in seeking for lost or buried treasures or in exploring underground passages or little known caves." On Edward VII.'s, "You have a brilliant career before you." "You are fond of the world." "You have a great deal of tact and diplomacy." "You are fond of the good things of this life." "You are fleeting in your affections, and will have a good many love affairs in your life." However, "you are eminently domesticated."
Sometimes it is rather funny. Literary ability on Conan Doyle's and Marie Corelli's birthdays. Poetic talent on that of Ella Wheeler Wilcox!!!
Enough has been said to show the absolute worthlessness of this slipshod method of dodging the trouble of doing astrology.
TARR. By WYNDHAM LEWIS. Alfred A. Knopf. Price, $1.75.
MR. WYNDHAM LEWIS was living some few years ago on the charity of a young lady, the admired and honored friend of many artists. She had taken compassion on him, because he told her that he wrote poetry-an excusable falsehood. Perhaps he even believed it. She asked me if I would help him by publishing poems of his, and I wrote to him. He replied by complaining that the young lady aforesaid had tried to seduce him. This appeared an uncomplimentary reference to Augustus John, Walter Duranty, myself, and several others. I wrote to Mr. Lewis, and told him that he was a stupid cad, and that I would kick him if I saw him. Stupid cad about fills the bill. It is perfectly easy to create a sensation by going into a church and shouting, "To Hell with Jesus!" at the elevation of the Host. And that is Mr. Lewis' artistic method. Whether he is decorating a room in a bad imitation of Klimmt, or attempting some insincere cubism, or futurism, or vorticism, it is always the same stupid cad, brawling in church.
"Blast" was a quite senseless vulgarity, and deceived nobody. "Tarr" is an attempt to repeat the trick. He dots his pages with French words and phrases when there is no need, and he prints words like bloody, petards, bitch, simply to shock the middle classes. It reveals the character of a stupid cad. What else could it do?
THE MADMAN, HIS PARABLES AND POEMS. By KAHLIL GIBRAN. Alfred A. Knopf.
I Do not much care for the drawings in this book. They are messy, and rather conventional. But I like some of the parables very much indeed. It is not very sensible to compare Mr. Gibran with Blake, because Blake was a genius whose every act was wrought from the white heat of passion. This is a smaller fish swimming in shallower and calmer waters. The spirit is more French than Irish. However, he is short enough to speak for himself. Here is one of his parables
Once I said to a scarecrow, "You must be tired of standing in this lonely field."
And he said, "The joy of scaring is a deep and lasting one, and I never tire of it."
Said I, after a minute of thought, "It is true; for I too have known that joy."
Said he, "Only those who are stuffed with straw can know it."
Then I left him, not knowing whether he had complimented or belittled it.
A year passed, during which the scarecrow turned philosopher.
And when I passed by him again I saw two crows building a nest under his hat.
Here is another:
THE NEW PLEASURE
Last night I invented a new pleasure, and as I was giving it the first trial an angel and a devil came rushing toward my house. They met at my door and fought with each other over my newly created pleasure; the one crying, "It is a sin!"-the other, "It is a virtue!"
INDIA AND THE FUTURE. By WILLIAM ARCHER. Alfred A. Knopf.
MR. ARCHER has been through India, I should judge for as much as six weeks, with a typewriter and a provincial third-rate mind. Edmund Burke said
"This multitude of men does not consist of an abject and barbarous population. . (They are) a people for ages civilized and cultivated; cultivated by all the arts of polished life while we were yet in the woods."
This obvious fact is not obvious to Mr. Archer. Like the clever journalist he is, he has documented himself with so many facts that he does not tell us that Indians are negroes, who throw their children to crocodiles, but on every page one can feel that he cherishes this view in his pate. His method of investigating India is the method of Count Smorltork; but Count Smorltork was a gentleman. His point of view is so ignorant and so bourgeois, that I am forced to quote passages, lest it should not be believed that any biped could print such rottenness.
"This senseless reduplication to infinity of one mincing, prancing figure produces an indescribably nightmare-like effect; and what can be said for it, from the point of view either of art or of religion, I, for my part, cannot conceive. Who the figures represent I am not sure; . . ."
"Yes, the horror-that is the only word for it. I do not mean that nowadays any particular horrors are perpetrated in the grim recesses of these giant fanes. I do not know that at any time they were the scenes of great cruelty or other abominations, though certainly they present the completest mise-en-scene for such excesses. What I do know is that, from the corner-stone to the coping of the highest gopura, they are the product 'of gloomy, perverted, morbidly overwrought imaginations, revelling in the most extravagant features of the most monstrous of all mythologies."
This is all that Mr. Archer gets from the greatest temple, both from an artistic and religious standpoint, that is alive to-day. And in order that he may write himself down an ass for all to see, he is stupid enough to publish photographs of temples, whose beauty would, one thinks, be evident even to the bovine readers to whom he doubtless appeals.
Mr. Archer's arrogance is equal to his ignorance.
"And on every hand, in its swarming courts and alcoves, you see the lowest fetichism intent in its grovelling rites."
How does this animal know what the people were doing? He could not speak a word of their language. He was seeing them for the first time, and his criticisms are just as valuable as would be those of a savage who dropped in on a telephone exchange. The wretched creature keeps on, page after page
"Barbarian, barbarism, barbarous-I am sorry to harp so much on these words. But they express the essence of the situation."
"There never was a `great civilization' in India . . ."
With the monuments of Indian civilization actually intact, yet the oldest of them in ruins a thousand years, two thousand years, three thousand years, who knows, before the savages of England wore clothes, it is only natural that this poor blind, globe-trotting hag should fail to understand Caste. He utterly ignores the fact that it is the caste system which has preserved Indian civilization. Constantly conquered, India absorbs her conquerors.
When the fool gets on to the spirituality, he is funnier than ever. On page 59, he gives a curiously imperfect account of the names of Hindu sacred writings, and apologizes for himself in the following note
"I trust there is no gross error in this paragraph; but very confusing explanations are given of the nomenclature of this literature."
He then proceeds to criticise the contents of those books ! It is incredible that any one can be such an ass as to write the stuff that one finds in this book. Page after page of misstatement and misunderstanding. He is even unable to see a thing like the good manners of the natives. In all the time I was in India I do not recall a single instance of bad manners, except on the part of Babus who had learned them from low-class Europeans, like William Archer.
When he comes to talk of art and culture, it gets worse, if anything.
"Remember-it is certainly not irrelevant-that India is the most tropical country that ever possessed any art of importance."
This person has never heard of Cambodia, Yucatan, Peru, Egypt, West Africa, Java. His art criticism is beneath the depth of Upper Tooting.
"Can any unprejudiced observer deny that even these exceptionally favourable specimens of Indian workmanship are marred by the gravest effects of conventionality in form, of overcrowding in composition, of excess in ornament? In a few seated female figures, viewed from behind, there is a certain natural grace, but most of the women who swarm all over the reliefs are the product of a morbid
convention which gives them enormous breasts, wasp waists, and atrophied legs, and places them in attitudes suggestive of a violent dislocation of the hipjoint. Whether such figures were actually cultivated at the period, I do not know; but even if this could be proved, the sculptures could only be regarded as conventional exaggerations of an unhealthy fashion."
"Finally, and coming back to the Buddha-figures in particular, what are we to say of the marvellous spirituality of expression often attributed to them? It is to me, I own, far from apparent. The drooped eyelids, and the immobile pose do, indeed, express the idea of contemplation; but I am at a loss to find anything spiritual in the smooth, insipid faces."
Pig-mindedness can hardly go further. And yet
"In the Indian epics, the poets are always trying to outdo themselves and each other in their search for the marvellous, whether in virtue, prowess, gorgeousness, wickedness, demoniacal fury, or mere numerical extravagance. They are constantly creating records in exaggeration, which are as constantly broken. What wonder that a people habituated from childhood to these orgies of unbridled fancy should suffer from a certain slackening of imaginative fibre, an insensitiveness to normal and wholesome stimulation? It is that insensitiveness which seems to me to account for all that is worst in Indian art. It is that insensitiveness which will have to be corrected before India can hope to make the best of her intellectual gifts in a world in which, though all may be illusory, the God-made illusion of Nature must in the end prevail over the man-made illusions of mythology and metaphysics."
I am perfectly in accord with the political conclusion of this book. He was doubtless paid to write it in this interest. However, I had no idea that Mr. Wil liam Archer was such an unpleasant thing. The publisher says that he was born at Perth, Scotland. Perhaps, he was one of the famous "twin brothers of Perth, who were-ready to exhibit a positive Wassermann-to the eyes from their birth. Said Bill to his brother, `Well, thanks to our mother, we're the rottenest beggars on earth.' "
TRUE GHOST STORIES. By HEREWARD CARRINGTON. J. S. Ogilvie Publishing Co.
MR. HEREWARD CARRINGTON was a very clever young man, and that was his trouble. He is still a very clever young man, and as he is older than he was, his trouble is increased. I always thought him crazy with his ideas on fasting and his weighing souls, but he always gave the impression of the greatest sincerity. He did extraordinarily good work in the case of Eusapia Palladino. He merely destroys one's confidence when he coils himself in the Flag, and issues a Bryce Report like the mysteries of Myra, lends his name to quacks like Michael Whitty (not Witty), who doesn't even deny that he is the American representative of the swindler and blackmailer Mathers, so often exposed in the columns of THE EQUINOX, and helps to edit the review of an obviously fraudulent sealed letter
reader like Christiansen. Nor is it particularly encouraging to those who believe in him when they find him compelled to produce a book like this. It is very cleverly compiled, most readable and amusing, but there seems to be no care to discriminate between well authenticated cases and evident inventions. The critical spirit is hopelessly undeveloped. In particular, I must protest against the publishing of Mr. Machen's excellent short story about the Angels of Mons without any reference to its author, as if there were one single particle of evidence that the story were true.
Mr. Carrington is a sincere and ingenious investigator of immense learning and experience. He has probably been forced into these evil courses by the abominable falsity of the publicists of America. The outrage in his case is hardly less than in Theodore Dreiser's.
The instinct of self-preservation has apparently driven him to acquire a Ph.D. degree from some so-called university in Iowa. What a tragic farce life in America is for any one with the mustard seed of intelligence!
Ah ! the cock crows !
PATIENCE WORTH. By CASPER S. YOST. Henry Holt & Co.
I HAVE so deep a debt of gratitude in my personal ledger to Mrs. Emily Grant Hutchings, that I can but be prejudiced most favorably with regard to anything with which she may be connected. I consequently take especial pains to discount the obligation, and I may be relied upon to say the worst of Patience Worth. It is, I think, beyond all question the most interesting of the records purporting to be the utterance of the stiff. There is an unquestionable personality in Patience Worth with perhaps no one beyond the scope of "subliminal Mrs. Curran" and the hypothesis is reasonable since Mrs. Curran is always at the board when Patience manifests. To me it seems a much simpler hypothesis to suppose that Patience is Mrs. Curran's sub-conscious memory of an Elizabethan incarnation than that Patience is wandering, unchanged for several centuries, about the astral plane, where things are so easily broken up. It is also quite feasible to imagine Patience as an elemental spirit. But undoubtedly her utterance is remarkably distinctive and coherent. It is almost entirely free from the worst of the disfigurements to which psychical researchers have acclimatized us, confound them.
The mention of psychical researchers has ruined my temper again. I am going to be nasty even to my dear Mrs. Hutchings. It is very easy to spoil a case by claiming too much. Jesus preferred would stand higher in the market to-day if some would-be clever press agent had not added ridiculous Pagan stories of the Virgin Birth, and so on, to the earlier and more plausible legend. And the most serious criticism of Patience Worth is the existence of that ridiculous novel by "Mark Twain." Patience Worth is not impossible, or even improbable. She
makes mistakes. She commits anachronisms. But any difficulties are fairly easy to explain away. When it comes to Mark Twain, the case is altogether different. Anybody can sign checks, and the only question is as to whether the bank has money on deposit against that signature. But if I sign J. P. Morgan, I get a very peculiar laugh from the cashier. In all human probability they do not even trouble to arrest the "poor nut." The action of Mark Twain's heirs in trying to suppress a book whose origin was most honestly stated makes them entirely ridiculous. But this reacts terribly on poor old Patience. It makes her look like a ballon d'essai. I do not think that there is any question of fraud, but I do see all kinds of openings for delusion, especially in the case of people who are hardly aware that there is such a thing as magical protection. It looks to me as if a playful elemental had taken advantage of Mrs. Hutchings' innocence of the Laws of Magick, and having seduced her with the honest trifle of Patience Worth had betrayed her in the deepest consequence of Samuel L. Clemens, may he rest in peace!
p.p. OUIJA BOARD.
JAVA HEAD. By JOSEPH HERGESHEIMER. Alfred A. Knopf.
THE atmosphere of this book is so seductive that one reads it under the impression that it will start sooner or later; but it doesn't.
PSYCHICAL PHENOMENA AND THE WAR. By HEREWARD CARRINGTON. Dodd, Mead & Co., Inc.
THIS book is an extremely interesting and valuable contribution to the science of the future. The first part of it, which relates to normal psychology, is extremely well compiled, and offers a capital picture of the peculiar phenomena which accompany combat under modern conditions. It is a serious study of actuality, entirely free from the pathological point of view of people like Barbusse on one hand, or the average newspaper correspondent on the other.
The second and larger part of the book deals with various supernormal events connected with war. I suppose Mr. Carrington's trouble is the paucity of his material. He feels that he has to fill his book, and he certainly uses a great deal of appalling rubbish. He even reaches lice of the slime like Harold Begbie. It is very unfortunate that Mr. Carrington with his fine critical ability, his great experience in distinguishing between false and true, should have laid aside his weapons in his old age. It is to such persons as he is that we look for discrimination, yet in this book the most excellently authenticated narratives are cheek by jowl with `thinking horses,' and the humbug of sweet Phyllis Campbell. Mr. Carring-
ton is very careless too. He tells the story of Col. 's appearance to his old regiment at great length twice over. And we have yet another complaint. He has apparently gone over almost wholly to the Spiritists, and he has allowed himself at times to take a very crude flag-waving attitude about National psychologies.
I should like to point out that every case of supernormal phenomenon is explained fully if we accept the Rosicrucian teaching with regard to elementals. There is no space for detailed exposition of these points, but those familiar with the theory will find no difficulty at all in applying it to any particular case.
This book is decidedly superior to True Ghost Stories; it is intended for read ers of a somewhat higher type of intelligence. But Mr. Carrington's way is not the way of those who become great. Herbert Spencer was contented to plug on year after year writing for readers barely mustering five score. Browning after 35 years of literary activity writes,
"Late when he who praised and read and wrote
Was apt to find himself the self same me."
I doubt whether Barabbas was a publisher, but I think Judas was.
A CHASTE MAN. By LOUIS UMFRAVILLE WILKINSON. Alfred A. Knopf.
IT has often been disputed as to how far a novelist is right in showing us the seamy side of life. But the answer admits of no dispute. Truth is the most precious jewel of all. The atmosphere of Mr. Wilkinson's new book, despite the brightness and insouciance of the manner and the lightness of the incident, is one of the most tragic gloom. The scene opens upon the hero reminding somebody that this is the third application, etc., and unless, etc., yours faithfully, and the novel ends with his reminding somebody, probably the same person, of the same thing. Such an appalling realization of the horror of life makes one shudder and sicken. Between the two applications comes an adventure.
The hero, who is a married man, meets a charming girl of sixteen, falls in love with her-and she with him. Every conceivable circumstance conspires to bring about immoral relations, so-called, between them. The girl's father himself urges it. But the hero remains chaste. The tragedy thus brought about is absolutely nauseating. It is hard for the reviewer to think of the grim and griesly abomination which follows. The hero has to go away to Switzerland, for a month or two; and during his absence the girl marries a Canadian and goes to Canada with him. The gloom is not even lightened by any hint that she may have had some adventure previous to the marriage. No hope is held out that she may have any adventure after that. The Abomination of Desolation is set up in the holy place.
But there is reserved for us a yet more terrible contemplation. If one had said, "The girl escapes from the intrigue with her married lover, and is honorably mar-
ried to a Canadian," every one would say, "What a wholesome story!" The poi son of puritanism has rotted through the whole of human thought. Conventional morality is the syphilis of the soul, and it is for the God Mercury, no one less, to oppose its action. Our trouble is rendered a thousand times more grievous because most of us do not recognize how foul is our disease. The words `marriage with a Canadian' should be expunged from human language. People should be prosecuted for printing so foul and obscene a phrase.
Yet these things happen every day. The sun turns sick in heaven to behold them. Yet we do not see his anguish. Life which involves such possibilities of infamy and horror as `marriage with a Canadian' must surely be some atrocious species of damnation; the reward of infinite iniquity. But humanity has become so callous, so anaesthetic to any proper feeling, that many people may even fail to see the high seriousness and noble purpose of such statements as the above. The degradation of humanity has gone so far that marriage with a Canadian seems almost normal and natural.
There is no mistaking the great advance made by Mr. Wilkinson upon his previous novel, The Buffoon. In that work, there was, indeed, power and wit. But it was on the whole a pleasant book. There was plenty of comic relief-e.g., Powys' duodenum. In A Chaste Man the author moves stately and terrible from peak to peak of tragedy. The book reminds us a little of James Thomson, The City of Dreadful Night, in this respect. With infinite art the climax is set off by an adventure of the hero's sister with a man dying of consumption at St. Moritz, and this single glimpse of Paradise makes the surrounding gloom more visible and shameful.
It is unfortunately the case that stories of this kind are only too true to life. Few of us, indeed, but have some experience of the classes in which such abominations are not only possible but actual. It is true that the war has done a great deal to destroy the morality of the middle classes. From all hands comes the wail of the Puritan as he is forced into a recognition that life is a savage and beautiful thing, and that his attempt to make every one behave with the decorum of a putrefying corpse is bound in the long run to fail. We find, for example, the Bishop of Worcester offering a tasteless substitute for Worcester Sauce. He complains pitifully of how he saw three women in the street trying to seduce a soldier. Apparently in consequence of the appearance of the Bishop, the soldier "saw his chance and ran away," but from what we know of Bishops it seems probable that he was trying to escape from the Episcopal rather than the feminine menace.
We hope that in Mr. Wilkinson's next novel he will try to give us the brighter side of the picture. The eternal death which the bourgeoisie calls life is not the only feature of experience. St. Paul has prophesied of the future of the church, "Many members in one body," and it is also written, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." Do not even the
most pious and pig-headed agree that these are the `last days'? Are we not come through much tribulation to the latter end of the Apocalypse, and shall we not cry with the Apostle, "The spirit and the bride say: come."? "Yea, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."
JOHN ST. JOHN.
ON THE THRESHOLD OF THE UNSEEN. An Examination of the Phenomena of Spiritualism and of the Evidence for Survival after Death. By SIR WILLIAM F. BARRETT. E. P. Dutton & Co.
SIR WILLIAM BARRETT's book is decidedly well worth reading by those who imagine that there is nothing in spiritualism and kindred subjects. Sir William Barrett has marshalled his facts and fictions in a very creditable manner. It is quite surprising how much he knows, and how clever he is, considering the limitations imposed on him by the fact that, like most psychical researchers, he has no sort of initiation, and has therefore no organized but only haphazard material at his disposal. He exhibits quite remarkable intelligence in dealing with the problems which he discusses. It is a very marked advance upon the absolutely blithering balderdash which characterizes most writing on spiritualism, `new thought,' and the like.
Sir William Barrett is critical, without being skeptical in the bad sense of the word, and his judgment is excellent for an amateur. Of course, all psychical research without initiation reminds one of art criticism by a blind man or an art critic. Apart from this, however, Sir William Barrett has written a very clever book, and I hope that these few well chosen words of approval may encourage him to further efforts, perhaps not so much in this line as in one for which he might have more original talent.
FROM THE WATCH TOWER. By SIDNEY T. KLEIN. E. P. Dutton & Co.
WHEN I had the pleasure of reviewing Mr. Sidney T. Klein's Science and the Infinite in Number IX. of the First Volume of THE EQUINOX, I remember asking him for a second part to his book dealing with the means of attainment. Mr. Klein has not exactly done this in his new volume, but he has gone a long way on the road. He is still somewhat handicapped by infelicity of expression, but a more serious drawback still is the confusion of thought caused by his early training. He is a sublime initiate, but he is trying to put his quart of Champagne into the pint pot of the language of Christian Mysticism. He has not seen the necessity of discarding this deuce and trey. He stands pat on his three aces instead of trying to catch the fourth or maybe a pair of kings in the draw. The language of Christianity, particularly Pauline Christianity, is hopelessly mired in the slough of the idea of original sin.
Mr. Klein disavows this idea with noble boldness as freely as we ourselves of
the A ∴ A ∴ would do. He has accepted the Law of Thelema. He understands that there is no law beyond "Do what thou wilt." He states it almost in so many words. And yet his congenital fetter seems to gall. He has not quite got the idea that every man and every woman is a star, and that every one's will is the will of God; at least, he does not seem settled about it. In some parts of his book he makes statements which certainly imply that this is so, but in others he appears too conscious of dividuality. He does not always make it perfectly clear that evil so-called is part of the game, which he describes as the `thought of God.' We have no doubt that as he progresses, he will attain this clearer conception of the magical doctrine. He has already gone very far. His interpretation, for example, of the statement "God is Love" can hardly be distinguished from our own "Love is the law." Yet even here there is some taint of a lingering Manichaeanism. He seems to imagine "the All-Loving" as always trying to bring us to a conception of sonship. Yet this 'All-Loving' is a metaphysical entity, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and so on. The result is that now and again Mr. Klein's expression slips back into the language of dualism. However, it is a shame to carp
Mr. Klein's philosophical and scientific knowledge is profound. It is unified. Better still, it is dynamic and exulting. It is impossible to read a page of his book without feeling the contagion of the joy of his attainment. Too many philosophers in the past have drooled on about the Absolute with such piety of dullness, that one has wished the Absolute at the devil.
There is nothing of this in this book. We feel that Mr. Klein is enjoying the Light, Life, Love and Liberty which come from the acceptance of the Law of Thelema. But I must still ask him for another volume. The greater part of his difficulty in explanation seems to arise from the fact that he has no conception of a technique of attainment. He says quite rightly that it is all a matter of thinking right instead of wrong, and certainly a study of his pages should do a great deal to clear up intellectual difficulties. But this is only a very small part of the Path. It is all very well to say that reason is full of falsity, and Mr. Klein demonstrates it very much as I have myself done in many places. But how are people to use the eyes of the spirit, unless they are taught? The A.. A.'. offers a technique of attainment infinitely subtle and varied, so that the need of every man is met by processes of actual practice, scientifically tested and confirmed. It is not enough merely to accept Mr. Klein's explanation of the universe. That is the Giant's Robe. You must get your own clothes made to fit you. You cannot persuade yourself to think in any way contrary to your experience. Thought must be the expression of experience. For the average man to adopt Mr. Klein's ideas would be as futile a formality as subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles.
I am sure that Mr. Klein knows all this perfectly well, and I hope, as I said before, that he will very soon let us have a new book, giving his ideas on the technique of attainment.
A BOOK OF PREFACES. By H. L. MENCKEN. Alfred A. Knopf.
Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
BELIEVE Me, I had hardly hoped to live to see this day when a book of criticism like this comes into my hand.
Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
There are plenty of brains in America, and plenty of educated brains, but it is extremely rare to find these two combined in one being.
Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
Mr. Mencken narrowly escapes the cleverness which is the Hall-mark of the silver mind, but he does escape it.
For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
Mr. Mencken's perception may be gauged by just one piece of navigation, the Straits of Ibsen. In 1901 I said of Ibsen, "he is the Sophocles of manners." And elsewhere spoke of him as "a purely Greek dramatist."
Mr. Mencken says, "the fabulous Ibsen of the symbols (no more the real Ibsen than Christ was a prohibitionist)." "His shining skill as a dramatic craftsmanhis one authentic claim upon fame."
Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
His robust joy of castigating curs with his contempt swells a paean in my heart. "Consider one fact: the civilization that kissed Maeterlinck on both cheeks and Tagore perhaps even more intimately. . . ."
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;
To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
SANINE. By MICHAEL ARTZIBASHEF. B. W. Huebsch.
SANINE is not a supreme novel in the full flower of a period, like La Cousine Bette. It is too lyric. It is like the timid song of a young thrush in the morning of life. For this novel is much more than a great novel. It is the first novel of an epoch. It is the first attempt to depict a man who is living by the Law of Thelema, whose outlook on the world is based upon the magical formulae of the Eon of Horus : "Every man and every woman is a star"; "There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt." Sanine absolutely refuses to be obfuscated by the fog of false morality. He judges actions by their real, not by their imaginary consequences.
Bernard Shaw attempted this very feebly in his portrait of John Tanner; but Tanner, like Shaw himself, is a blustering and wordy weakling, who is entirely the slave of the morality which he condemns.
Sanine actually lives up to the truth which he sees, and it makes him free, and it makes free those who follow him. This is a great book to shed light upon the greybeard slobbering of Shaw. Violet's baby is only tolerable because Violet is Mrs. Malone. Shaw has not the strength of character to avow (even in a fictitious work) that a woman can assert what is evidently her first right without undergoing phantastic penalties, although there are to-day thousands of women in every country who have told morality to go to its father, the devil, as Shaw so bombastically tells it to do. The phantoms which confront the free man are really just hollow turnips in churchyards. Take poor Ambrose, for example. He occupies one of the most important positions in New York City. He lives his own life for 15 years or so. Nobody is offended. Nobody is injured. Nothing whatever happens. A pleasant time is had by all. Then, suddenly some one discovers this appalling state of circumstances, and there is Ambrose in peril of Sing-Sing and Matteawan, and all those pretty places on the Hudson. He loses his job. He is an outcast from society. He vanishes like morning mist. And there is not a single shadow of reason for all this, except an ecclesiastical nefas, based principally upon a comic Turkish superstition.
The stupidity of governments is unthinkable. People reclaim a little obvious freedom, and the authorities will not let them have it without all this cutting of throats, and robbing of churches! The Gods seem to send imbeciles like Louis XVI. and Nicholas Romanoff, and certain other persons whom I will not mention, at the moment when free men decide that it is time to strike for freedom. Hear the word of the Lord: In the next few years Sanine and his like are going to hang a lot of people to a lot of lamp-posts.