Puslapio vaizdai

her other hand, tight closed, was lying on her heart, and they found in it a bit of the hair of the little dead-born baby that came to her years ago, whose head had never


rested on her bosom. The morning sun shone brightly over her, and the room was filled with the perfume of fresh



MR. PROCTOR does not need to look upward to find the star depths. The phrase may fitly characterize American Society, which consists of stars and blank spaces. We run our politics on the starring system. A man becomes a star, and we make him president. The "red light of Mars" is the favorite color. Not statesmanship, not personal character, not intellectual culture, not eminent knowledge, not anything and not any combination of things that constitute superlative fitness, fixes the American choice for the chief magistracy. The star which, for the moment, can attract the greatest number of eyes, becomes the lord of the heavens and the earth. Votes must be had at any sacrifice; and votes can only be counted on for stars. Availability is the political watch word, and such statesmanship as we get is that with which we manage to surround the star that so quickly cools and flickers in its new and alien atmosphere. Political rewards do not go where they belong; public trust is not reposed in the best men; and so politics degenerate, and second and third rate men are everywhere uppermost. The starring system in politics is a failure. It is bad for the country, it is bad for politics; it is a discouragement to personal and political worth, it is a nui


The starring system in theatricals is even more obviously destructive to all that is worthy in the popular drama. We go to a theater, not to witness a play, but to see Booth, or Joe Jefferson, or some other star. The opera is nothing without Kellogg, or Patti, or Nilsson, or some miraculous tenor who to-day is, and to-morrow is not. The orchestras,-trained, laborious, patient, admirable,— pass for nothing. The choruses are not thought so much of as an orchestrion would be. The great mass of singers and players who sustain the minor parts, have no more consideration than puppets. What is the consequence? The money is mainly absorbed by the stars, who shine the brighter in a sky of mediocrity or absolute inferiority. So long as the starring system prevails, mediocrity will be the rule. Stars must have space, to be seen; and we have had for years, in the theatrical world, nothing but stars and spaces-the latter, wide. A first class drama, well presented in every part, has not been witnessed in New York for a long time; and for this fact the starring system is alone responsible. An actor now

adays can get no consideration except as a star, and, to succeed, he is often obliged to confine himself to a single play.

How has the starring system worked upon the platform? It has been tried pretty thoroughly for the last five years, and the results ought to be, and are, apparent. Ten and fifteen years ago, a course of lectures consisted of eight or ten discourses on topics of popular interest, or social and political questions of public moment. They were prosperous, well attended, and profitable in many ways. Then came the star-fever. Men were summoned to the platform simply because they would draw, and not because the people expected instruction or inspiration from them. A notoriety had only to rise, to be summoned at once to the platform. If he could lift a great many kegs of nails; if he was successful as a showman; if he was a literary buffoon, and sufficiently expert in cheap orthography; in short, if he had been anything, or done anything, to make himself an object of curiosity to the crowd, he was regarded as a star, and called at once into the lecture field, for the single purpose of swelling the receipts at the door. Of course the stars called for high prices, and under high prices the number of lectures given in a course was cut down. The people who came to bask in the blaze, finding too often only a twinkle, and sometimes only a fizzle, that left an unpleasant odor, became disgusted, and the best of them, the very men and women upon whom the whole lecture system relied for steady prosperity, -left the lecture-room altogether. Still the starring system went on, with a new agency to push it, established by the lecture bureaus. Men were invited to come from England, and promised great results. Some of these have been genuine accessions to the corps of good lecturers, while many have proved to be sorry failures. Many a famous name, "far-fetched and dear-bought," has shone upon the list for a season, never to be recalled and always to be remembered with disappointment. The bureaus have pushed and puffed their pets,—both imported and domestic,-until lecture committees have ceased to believe in them altogether.

And now, what is the condition of the platform? In the large towns, where they have been able to get "the stars," it is difficult to get a first-rate audience together on any night, and still more difficult to maintain a steady, prosperous course of lectures. In the smaller towns, where want of funds has com

pelled them to dispense with the stars, the system was never more prosperous than it is to-day. In New England and New York, generally, the towns with 20,000 inhabitants and upwards, have difficulty in sustaining a course of lectures, while there are many towns of less than five thousand people that maintain a good course every winter, and make money by it.

If there is anything in the lecture system worth saving, let us save it. Those who know what it used to be, will be glad to see it restored to its old position, and if they have studied its history, they will conclude, with us, that the starring system must be stopped. The lecture-room must cease to be the show-room of fresh notorieties, at high prices. Men must be called to lecture for the simple reason that they have something to say. The courses must be lengthened, and made in themselves valuable. The pushing by interested bureaus of untried men must be ignored or resisted. Men must be called to teach because they can teach, and not because they can do something else. The lecture must cease to be regarded simply as an entertainment. Wherever it has been so regarded and so managed, the system has gone down, and wherever the stock lecturer has been sacrificed to the star, the audiences have gradually dwindled until it has become almost impossible to sustain a course of lectures at all. Stars have been so much in fashion that we have establishments now for the manufacture of fictitious reputations, and these establishments must go under. They always were an impertinence, and they have become a nuisance. The lecture is a necessity. Let us restore the institution to its old footing of direct friendly relations between the lecturers and the lyceum, and give no man access to the platform who does not come there in a legitimate way, and who is not held there because he has something valuable to say. No system can stand when its best and most reliable workers are pinched in their prices, that those may be overpaid, who not only bring no strength to it, but weaken it in its finances and in its hold upon the respect and affection of the people.

The Great Temperance Movement.

FOR years, and years, and weary, suffering years, multiplied into decades, have the women of America waited to see that traffic destroyed, which annually sends sixty thousand of their sons, brothers, fathers and husbands into the drunkard's grave. They have been impoverished, disgraced, tortured in mind and body, beaten, murdered. Under the impulse of maddening liquors the hands that were pledged before Heaven to provide for, and protect them, have withdrawn from them the means of life, or smitten them in the dust. Sons whom they have nursed upon their bosoms with tenderest love and countless prayers, have grown into beasts, of whom they were afraid, or



have sunk into helpless and pitiful slavery. have been compelled to cover their eyes with shame in the presence of fathers whom it would have been bliss for them to hold in honor. They have been compelled to bear children to men whose habits had unfitted them for parentage-children not only tainted by disease, but endowed with debased appetites. They have seen themselves and their precious families thrust into social degradation, and cut off forever from all desirable life by the vice of the men they loved. What the women of this country have suffered from drunkenness, no mind, however sympathetic, can measure, and no pen, however graphic, can describe. It has been the unfathomable black gulf into which infatuated multitudes of men have thrown their fortunes, their health, and their industry, and out of which have come only,-in fire and stench,-dishonor, disease, crime, misery, despair and death. It is the abomination of abominations, the curse of curses, the hell of hells!

For weary, despairing years, they have waited to see the reform that should protect them from further harm. They have listened to lectures, they have signed pledges, they have encouraged temperance societies, they have asked for, and secured legislation, and all to no practical good end. The politicians have played them false; the officers of the law are unfaithful; the government revenue thrives on the thriftiness of their curse; multitudes of the clergy are not only apathetic in their pulpits, but selfindulgent in their social habits; newspapers do not help, but rather hinder them; the liquor interest, armed with the money that should have bought them prosperity, organizes against them; fashion opposes them; a million fierce appetites are arrayed against them, and, losing all faith in men, what can they do? There is but one thing for them to do. There is but one direction in which they can look, and that is upward! The women's temperance movement, begun and carried on by prayer, is as natural in its birth and growth as the oak that springs from the acorn. If God and the God-like element in woman cannot help, there is no help. If the pulpit, the press, the politicians, the reformers, the law, cannot bring reform, who is left to do it but God and the women? We bow to this movement with reverence. We do not stop to question methods; we do not pause to query about permanent results. We simply say to the glorious women engaged in this marvelous crusade: "MAY GOD HELP AND PROSPER YOU, AND GIVE YOU THE DESIRE OF YOUR HEARTS IN THE FRUIT OF YOUR LABORS!"

It becomes men to be either humbly helpful or dumb. We who have dallied with this question; we who have 'dispassionately drawn the line between temperance and total abstinence; we who have deplored drunkenness with wine-glasses in our hands; we who have consented to involve a great moral reform with politics; we who have been politically

afraid of the power of the brutal element associated with the liquor traffic; we who have split hairs in our discussions of public policy; we who have given social sanction to habits that in the great cities have made drunkards of even the women themselves, and led their sons and ours into a dissolute life; we who have shown either our unwillingness or our impotence to save the country from the gulf that yawns before it, can only step aside with shame-faced humility while the great crusade goes on, or heartily give to it our approval and our aid.

This is not a crusade of professional agitators, clamoring for an abstract right, but an enterprise of suffering, pure and devoted women, laboring for the overthrow of a concrete wrong. It is no pleasant, holiday business in which these women are engaged, but one of self-denying hardship, pregnant in every part with a sense of duty. It is the offspring of a grand religious impulse which gives to our time its one superb touch of heroism, and re-. deems it from its political debasement and the degradation of its materialism. It is a shame to manhood that it is necessary; it is a glory to womanhood that it is possible.

If the experience of the last century has demonstrated anything, it is that total abstinence is the only ground on which any well-wisher of society can stand. The liquor traffic has been bolstered up for years, and is strong to-day, simply through influence which is deemed respectable. It must be made infamous by the combination of all the respectable elements of society against it. It must cease to be respectable to drink at all. It must cease to be respectable to rent a building in which liquors are sold. There is no practicable middle ground. So long as men drink temperately, men will drink intemperately, whether it ought to be otherwise or not; and it is with reference to the development of a healthy public opinion on this subject, that we particularly rejoice in the women's crusade. Our own vision is so blinded and perverted that we can only see the deformity of the monster which oppresses us through woman's eyes, uplifted in prayer, tearful in shame and suffering, or bright in triumph as the strongholds of her life-long enemy fall before her.

Political Morality.

WE hear a great deal now-a-days about the rule of "second-rate men;" and there are many good people who fancy that the country is suffering from the lack of great statesmanship among our lawmakers and the executive officers of the government. There is a measure of justice in this judgment, without doubt, but it does not cover the ground. There is, at least, ability enough among these men to carry their policy, whatever it may be. There is no lack of ingenious subterfuge, far reaching intrigue, bold and powerful leading, and per

sonal influence and publie eloquence, to compass any end desired. There is no lack of instrumentalities to push any approved party scheme; to forward any special interest; to advance any sectionai policy; to secure the personal aggrandizement of any pet of a cabal. From the low standpoint of the prevalent political morality, there seems to be abundant intellectual ability to carry any desirable measure. It is not the brains that are at fault; it is the heart. It is not ability that is wanting; it is morality.

Have we at the head of the government a man of high-toned morality?-a man whose supreme desire is to do right?-who, above all personal interest, above all party policy, above all the influence of corrupt men, is exercised by the dominant purpose to keep his conscience clear and his hands clean, and to serve his people with unswerving integrity? Are the leaders of our national councils and the men of influence there, trustworthy men? Are they men who take the straight path of duty and follow it, irrespective of all the bribes which power and wealth hold in their hands, and regardless of all the threats of unprincipled bullies and intriguers? We are not called upon to answer these questions; but all those who feel compelled to give them a negative reply hold in their hands a sufficient explanation of the evils from which the country suffers to-day. It is not necessary to point to the Crédit Mobilier, or the Salary Grab, or any of the corrupt schemes by which these men betray themselves. A low morality among our legislators and rulers gives, all through, by a fatal necessity, immoral legislation and immoral administration. If this low morality exists, every interest of this great country is at its mercy. All the national questions that arise must be settled by it. It vitiates the national policy; it poisons every political measure; it narrows everything down to the limit of its own party and personal interests.

The people of America richly deserve the infliction of all the evils from which they suffer. From the time of General Jackson to this day there has been practically but one rule in the selection of a chief magistrate, and that rule has been mainly followed in the election of our national legislatures. This rule is known as "availability." Each party has put forward for its leaders, little and large, those who for any reason seemed likely to get the greatest number of votes. In no instance during this period have we had in the presidential chair a first-class man. Some of our presidents have been good, but weak; some have been old political trimmers; some have been boors who were the laughing stock of the nations; some have been mulish and ignorant. Certainly no one has stood upon an equality with Washington, Jefferson and the Adamses. The question of morality is not one with which our people have concerned themselves at all. Men have been chosen because they were not statesmen; because they were unknown; be

cause they were popular with the rabble; because they were good soldiers; because they could get votes. We do not know of one man during the whole period who has been chosen because he was a Christian gentleman and statesman, and so above all unworthy motives in the administration of the duties of his office. Of the rules that prevail in the election of our national legislators our readers are good judges, and they know that almost everything else is considered before morality. There are men of influence in both Houses of Congress whose personal characters and histories will not bear inspection for a moment-men with whom no one can come into association without a stain.

Far be it from us to deny the presence of good men in Congress. There are as noble men there to-day as there ever were, but their influence is nullified by their bad and unscrupulous asso

You may remember when you were much bothered in your mind by the question-What is it that makes a writer? Here is a man with a certain degree of culture; with a certain experience; and he is a writer. Here is another man with much the same, or a higher degree of culture, and with much the same, or a more interesting experience, and he could not be a writer, even if he wanted to be; as perhaps he does, the more's the pity. Please observe that I am not talking about mere writersnot even mere writers of books; but writers of literature: Shakespeare, Charles Lamb, Emerson, Thackeray, Chaucer, Dante, Robert Browning, Carlyle, George Eliot, Tennyson, Landor, Spenser, Hawthorne, and the rest.


What makes these men builders with words, in such fashion as to identify them forever with word building-so indeed, that their building lasts; and this is looked upon as a proper and becoming occupation and fame for them? It is easy to tell what makes a man a journalist. Some creatures are born with a passion for printer's ink. They tend naturally to a newspaper office, set type, gather locals, or write leaders, according to their capacity. They may go as far as magazine writing, and so finally glide into the making of books. It does not follow that they become makers of literature. Somewhere is drawn a line between mere writing and genuine literaturea line none the less real, because it runs very crookedly, or because sometimes our eyes are dazzled that we cannot see it.

ciates. Some of the very men who are trusted least by the country, and whose moral reputation is a stench in the nostrils of the world, are most prominent in the national councils and most powerful in the direction of government patronage.

You may remember also, the time when you discovered what it was that made a man a writer

in the higher sense. It was at that epoch in your VOL VIII.-8

We long ago ceased to expect perfection in the world of politics, but the duty of every honest man to try for it never ceases. When we get honest men in the places of trust-men with whom honor is more than money, and duty more than preferment, and country more than party, and God more than all, we shall have wisdom in law and purity in administration. Personal immorality and wise statesmanship cannot exist together, and until the American people insist that their public servants shall be gentlemen, at the least, they must expect to suffer at large from the conflicting policies of selfish and corrupt men.

life when the blind faiths of youth gave way,-not without distress; not without, perhaps, a time of dark, perplexed wandering,-to be succeeded by the open-eyed faiths of maturity. Then, when the scales fell from your own eyes, and you apprehended some things, at least, freshly-then you knew that the true sayer was the true seer.

It is true all that the poets have said about it. The knack makes a man a stringer of words, with more or less of thought. The insight, added to the knack, makes him something more. The seer and the sayer are one. Not that the book of truth is opened only to him who has the gift of tongues. Bird-song, smell of salt sea, glint of dew-drop and star, wracked nerve, sin these spell plain words to myriads who read well, but not aloud.

There was a time when we found all this out for ourselves. But when we got on a little farther, we made another discovery, that among those who use words there are genuine seers who are not genuine writers. Let us, in order to narrow the outlook and make the objects more sharp and distinct, limit our thoughts to poetry. Then-among the poets, there are genuine seers whose lack of art withdraws their work from the realm of genuine literature. And, on the other hand, there are genuine poets who have little of the seer. They hold their place, strangely enough, just by the charm of their words: the lilt-the dreamy, winning, delicious music, color, honey-sweetness of their thoughtless language.

DID you not suppose that if anything was well understood it was that in moments of intense emotion

there is a vivid consciousness of the shows of things -of one's own appearance, of surroundings and circumstances, that at other times are but shadows on a wimpling brook. This phenomenon was, perhaps, never better told than in Rossetti's "Woodspurge." Do you remember it?

"The wind was dead, the wind was still,
Shaken out loose from tree and hill;
I had walked on at the wind's will;
I sat now for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was;
My lips drawn in said not Alas!

My hair was over in the grass;
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes wide open had the run
Of some ten weeds to rest upon;
Among those ten, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flowered three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be

Wisdom or even memory.

One thing then learned remains to me; The woodspurge has a cup of three."

But now comes the Reviewer, and tells us that "he cannot account for the publication of the poem,

except by supposing it to be the work of one whose every thought appears to him worth recording." He ventures to doubt whether a man "absorbed in perfect grief would have been so conscious of his personal appearance." It is very naïve in the Reviewer to let us know that he is "not so matterof-fact as to suppose that Mr. Rossetti simply intended the public to be informed how he became acquainted with a fact in botany." We suppose the un-matter-of-fact Reviewer has the same difficulty in trying to account for the publication of this passage in Tennyson's “Maud :"

Spring Fashions.

To the ordinary eye, the in-coming modes appear but slight variations of the out-going. Indeed, the violent changes of fashion, once deemed necessary to mark the recurrent seasons, have become obsolete. Modistes have, unhappily, discovered the fact that poor feminine nature may be gently and gradually led into all sorts of absurdities, which it would rebel against if called to accept them suddenly.

The principal and prettiest change is in the combination of over-skirt and polonaise into a mysterious kind of jacket for street wear. It takes the place of the two other garments, and the skirt trimming is generally carried high enough to meet the lowest edge of the jacket. We say lowest edge advisedly, because the jacket is rarely of the same length all round. Sometimes it has only a short basque behind, with long, tab ends in front; or the back is extended into two tails (corresponding with the form of a gentleman's dress coat); while the front has little more than a frill, met by the garniture of the tablier. Beside these, many of the gar'ments are long in front and back, and cut very high over the hips; while others again make no pretension to depth except on the sides. Every variety is worn and accepted but the old-fashioned polonaise and over-skirt. These, though often appearing, are not regarded as exactly en règle. Polonaises that would naturally be mistaken for over-dresses,

[blocks in formation]


and over-dresses bearing the air of polonaises, are alone allowed. Since it is impossible to do away with the over-skirt entirely, the fashionmakers design the most singular and characterless specimens for the ensuing months. They positively protest against having two sides alike, insisting that the whole effect depends on the draping. If the right gore be long, the left is sure to be the reverse. If there be a back breadth, the front is more than liable to be omitted, and vice versa. The sole guide to cutting these articles is to create the most irregular and singular shape possible, and loop it gracefully, when it will inevitably be in the mode. The noticeable variation in dress skirts is the wide-spread use of the puff in the back. It is made as much in out-d oor costumes as-perhaps more than,-in those intended merely for the house. Of course, with a puff, neither over-skirt nor polonaise is appropriate, and only a short basque is worn.

Skirts for the street are scantier than they have been-often not more than three yards and a quarter round the bottom. They preserve the old form of slightly gored front breadth (tablier), two wide side gores, succeeded by two narrow gores (so shaped at the bottom as to throw the entire skirt back like a train) and one or two straight breadths, according to the width desired. The fullness, as before, is carried far back, so as to make the front and sides lie as flatly as possible. Such extra fullness as is

« AnkstesnisTęsti »