Puslapio vaizdai

the woods, wading the streams, and lying down to sleep wherever the nights overtook us, often without fires even, and sleeping with our feet against boulders so we would n't slide down the mountain-side and roll over a precipice.

"We were in no danger of losing our way. Hundreds of straggling soldiers and thousands of peasants were toiling along before and behind us. And the dead lay all along the track. Worse than the dead were the dying-men and women and children, sometimes in groups, sometimes a man or a woman alone, too weak to crawl any farther. We had to pretend we did n't see them, and hurry by. Hellmuth no longer paid any attention to them. He was terribly despondent about the war, about everything. I spoke to him about the awful loss of life, and he said: "All the years that we 've been fighting to save lives, and they throw away more here in an hour! What is the use? Our lives have been wasted!" Most of the time we were too dazed and tired to talk.

"His death happened this way. At dusk on the fifth or sixth of December we were climbing along the side of a slope, with a wood below us, and below the wood was a stream-bed. We decided to camp for the night in the dry bed of the stream, and the order was given to turn aside and drop down through the wood and reassemble in the stream-bed. It was every man for himself. There was from a foot to three feet of snow among the trees, and under the snow were boulders and fallen tree-trunks.

"It was dark before I got to the bottom. Cameron was standing on a rock. The bed of the stream was not

dry; it was full of half-frozen mud, and he was blowing his whistle and shouting to guide the rest of us to him. We all arrived except Hellmuth. We started to search for him after a while, but we had oil enough only for one of our lamps, and we took turns, two or three of us going together in shifts. I don't know about the others, but I was so tired that I just walked in my sleep. I had to give it up and lie down by the camp-fires; but I woke at daybreak, and, hearing he had not been found, started right out again.

""The sun was up when I came on him, sitting against a boulder beside his dead pony. It had evidently fallen under him, but he had got up and walked five or six feet before he sat down. We could not find any sign of injury on him. He was sitting hatless, with his hands thrust deep into the snow on each side of him, staring ahead of him. I came crawling right up a steep place toward him without seeing him. I was looking for his tracks, and I climbed up over a boulder and stopped to examine the print of a bird's feet in the snow on top of the boulder. top of the boulder. I was interested, because we had not seen any birds large enough to be worth shooting, and this was evidently a big one. Then I raised my eyes and saw him watching me. I thought by his look that I had frightened him. He was staring right at me. I said: "What's the matter, Doctor? Did I scare you?" Then I realized that he was dead. He looked as if something had scared him to death. He had been dead about twelve hours, I should say. Heart failure, Cameron said, due to exhaustion and exposure.""

Ward laid down the letter.

James Huneker


THINK of him, in these days of his recent passing, not primarily as artist, but as man. There was a stimulating aliveness about him always, an air of living eagerly and a bit recklessly, a sort of brittle resiliency, if you can imagine it. In his very appearance something provocative and challenging showed itself, a sort of insolent singularity, obvious to even the most careless glance. That Roman profile of his was more than simply unusual in a free republic consecrated to good works; to a respectable American, encountering it in the lobby of the Metropolitan or in the smoke-room of a Doppleschraubenschnellpostdampfer, it must have suggested inevitably the dark enterprises and illicit metaphysics of a Heliogabalus. More, there was always something rakish and defiant about his hat, -it was too white, or it curled in the wrong way, or a feather peeped from the band,—and a hint of antinomianism in his necktie. Yet more; he ran to exotic tastes in eating and drinking, preferring occult goulashes and risibisis to honest cuts from the joint, and great floods of Pilsner to the plain beverages of God-fearing men. Finally, there was his talk, that cataract of sublime trivialities, gossip lifted to the plane of the gods, the unmentionable bedizened with an astounding importance and even profundity.

In his early days I was at nurse and

§ 1

too young to have any traffic with him. When I encountered him at last he was in the high flush of the middle years and already eminent in the little world that critics inhabit. We sat down to luncheon at one o'clock; I think it must have been at Lüchow's, his favorite refuge and rostrum to the end. At six, when I had to go, he was bringing to a close prestissimo the most amazing monologue that, up to that time, these ears had ever funneled into this consciousness. What a stew, indeed! Berlioz and the question of the clang-tint of the viola; the inner causes of the suicide of Tschaikovsky; why Nietzsche left Sils Maria between days in 1887; the echoes of Flaubert in Joseph Conrad, then but newly dawned; the precise topography of the warts of Liszt; George Bernard Shaw's heroic, but vain, struggles to throw off Presbyterianism; how Frau Cosima saved Wagner from the Swedish baroness; what to drink when playing Chopin; what Cézanne thought of his disciples; the defects in the structure of "Sister Carrie"; Anton Seidl and the musical union; the complex and moony love affairs of Gounod; the early days of David Belasco; whether a girl educated at Vassar could ever really learn to love; the exact composition of chicken paprika, the correct tempo of the Vienna waltz; the style of William Dean Howells; the abstruse international scandals at Bayreuth in 1886; what George Moore said about

German bath-rooms; the true inwardness of the affair between D'Annunzio and Duse; the origin of the theory that all oboe-players are crazy; why Löwenbräu survived exportation better than Hofbräu; Ibsen's dislike of Norwegians; the best remedy for Katzenjammer; how to play Brahms; the degeneration of the Bal Bullier; the sheer physical impossibility of getting Dvořák drunk; the last words of Walt Whitman.

I left in a sort of fever, almost a delirium, and it was two days later before I began to sort out my impressions and formulate a coherent image. Was the man allusive in his books so allusive that popular report credited him with the actual manufacture of authorities? Then he was ten times as allusive in his discourse-a veritable geyser of unfamiliar names, shocking epigrams in strange tongues, unearthly philosophies out of the back-waters of Scandinavia, Transylvania, Bulgaria, the Basque country, the Ukraine. And did he, in his criticism, pass facilely from the author to the man, from the man to his wife, and to the wives of his friends? Then at the Biertisch he began long beyond the point where the last honest wife gives up the ghost, and so, full tilt, ran into such complexities of elective affinity that a plain sinner, content to go to hell placidly under Rule VII, could scarcely follow him. I try to give you, ineptly and grotesquely, some notion of the talk of this man, but I must fail inevitably. It was, in brief, chaos, and chaos cannot be described. But it was chaos made to gleam and coruscate with every device of the seven arts; chaos drenched in all the colors imaginable, chaos scored for an orchestra that made the great band of Berlioz seem like a fife-and-drum corps. One night

a few months before the war I sat in the Paris opera-house listening to the first performance of Richard Strauss's "Josefs Legend," with Strauss himself conducting. On the stage there was a riot of hues that swung the eyes round and round in a crazy mazurka; in the orchestra there were such volleys and explosions of tone that the ears (I fall into a Hunekeran trope) began to go pale and clammy with surgical shock. Suddenly, above all the uproar, a piccolo launched into a new and saucy tune, in an unrealted key! Instantly and quite naturally, I thought of the incomparable James. When he gave a show at Lüchow's he never forgot that anarchistic passage for the piccolo.

§ 2

I observe a tendency to estimate him in terms of the content of his books. Even Frank Harris, who certainly should know better, goes there for the facts about him. Nothing could do him greater injustice. In those books, of course, there is a great mass of perfectly sound stuff; the wonder is, in truth, that so much of it holds up so well to-day: for example, the essays on Strauss, on Brahms, and on Nietzsche, and the whole volume on Chopin. Now and then one strikes a false note and even a falsetto note; for example, in the treatise on Ibsen's "symbolism," that phantasm of the primordial drama-leaguers of twenty years ago, and in the too facile nonsense about Maeterlinck: but that is not often. The real Huneker, however, never got into these books, if one forgets "Old Fogy." They were made up, in the main, of articles written for the more intellectual magazines of their era, and they represented a conscious striving to qualify for respect

able company. So born, they came to their growth under the shadow of a publishing tradition that was even further from the Hunekeran instinct; it was hospitable and intelligent, but it surely did not foster héliogabalisme for its own sweet sake. Under the

same tradition there had to be room also for the gospel of art for the soul's sake. Not, to be sure, that Huneker ever put on robes that were not his own. Nowhere in all his books will you find him doing the things that all right-thinking critics are supposed to do: essays on Coleridge and Addison, discussions of the relative merits of Booth and Macready, solemn disquisitions upon the relations of Goethe to the romantic movement, dull scratchings of exhausted and sterile fields. Nay, such enterprises were not for James; he kept himself out of that black coat. But I am convinced that he always had his own raiment pressed carefully before he left Lüchow's for the temple of Athene, and maybe changed neckties, and put on a boiled shirt, and took the feather out of his hat. The simon-pure Huneker, the Huneker who was the true essence and prime motor of the more courtly Huneker, remained behind. This real Huneker survives in conversations that still haunt the rafters of the beer-halls of two continents, and in a vast mass of newspaper impromptus, thrown off too hastily to be reduced to complete decorum, and in two books that stand outside the official canon, and yet contain the man himself as not even "Iconoclasts" or the Chopin book contains him; to wit, the "Old Fogy" aforesaid and the "Painted Veils" of his last year. Both were published, so to speak, out of the back door, the former by a music publisher in Phil

adelphia, and the latter in a small and expensive edition for the admittedly damned. There is a chapter in "Painted Veils" that is Huneker to every last hitch of the shoulders and twinkle of the eye-the chapter in which the hero soliloquizes on art, life, immortality, and women. And there are half a dozen chapters in "Old Fogy," superficially buffoonery, but how penetrating! how gorgeously flavored! how learned! that come completely up to the same high specification. If I had to choose one Huneker book and give up all the others, I'd choose "Old Fogy" instantly. In it Huneker is utterly himself. In it the last trace of the pedagogue vanishes. Art is no longer, even by implication, a device for improving the mind. It is wholly a magnificent adventure.

This notion of it is what Huneker brought into American criticism, and it is for that bringing that he will be remembered. No other critic of his generation had a tenth of his influence. Almost single-handed he overthrew the esthetic theory that had flourished in the United States since the death of Poe, and set up an utterly contrary esthetic theory in its place. If the younger men of to-day have emancipated themselves from the puerilities of the Puritan esthetic, if the schoolmaster is now palpably on the defensive, and no longer the unchallenged assassin of the fine arts that he once was, if he has already begun to compromise somewhat absurdly with new and sounder ideas, and even to lift his voice in artificial hosannas, then Huneker certainly deserves all the credit for the change. What he brought back from Paris was precisely the thing that was most suspect in the America of those days; to wit. the

capacity for gusto. Huneker had that capacity in a degree unmatched by any other critic. When his soul went adventuring among masterpieces, it did not go in Sunday black; it went with vine-leaves in its hair. The rest of the appraisers and criers-up even Howells, with all his humor; nay, even such fellows as Meltzer could never quite rid themselves of the professorial manner. When they praised, it was always with some hint of ethical, or, at all events, of cultural purpose; when they condemned, that purpose was even plainer. The arts, to them, constituted a sort of school for the psyche; their aim was to discipline and mellow the spirit. But to Huneker their one aim was always to make the spirit glad to set it, in Nietzsche's phrase, to dancing. He had absolutely no feeling for extra-esthetic valuations. If a work of art that stood before him was honest, if it was original, if it was beautiful and thoroughly alive, then he was for it to his last corpuscle. What if it violated all the accepted canons? Then let the accepted canons go hang. What if it lacked all purpose to improve and lift up? Then so much the better. What if it shocked all right-thinking men and made them to blush and tremble? Then damn all right-thinking men forevermore.

The theory had its defects. It was a bit too simple and often very much too hospitable. Huneker, clinging to it, did his share of whooping for the sort of revolutionist who is here today and gone to-morrow; he was fugleman, in his day, for more than one cause that was lost almost as soon as it was started. More, it made him somewhat anesthetic at times to the new men who were not brilliant in color, but respectably drab, and who tried to

do their work within the law. Particularly in his later years, when the old gusto began to die out, and all that remained of it was habit, he was apt to go chasing after strange birds, and so miss seeing the elephants go by. I could put together a very pretty list of frauds that he praised. I could concoct another list of genuine arrivés that he overlooked. But all that is merely saying that there were human limits to him; the professors, on their side, certainly sinned far worse and in both directions. Looking back over the whole of his work, one must needs be amazed by the general soundness of his judgments. He discerned the new and the important long before most of his contemporaries discerned it, and he described it habitually in terms that were never bettered afterward. His successive heroes, always under fire when he first championed them, almost invariably moved to secure ground and became solid men, challenged by no one save fools: Ibsen, Nietzsche, Brahms, Strauss, Cézanne, Stirner, Synge, the Russian composers, the Russian novelists. He did for this Western world what George Brandes was doing for Europe, sorting out the new-comers with sharp eyes, and giving mighty lifts to those who deserved it. Brandes did it in terms of the old academic bombast; he was never more the professor than when he was arguing for some hobgoblin of the professors. But Huneker did it with Gallic verve and grace; he made it not schoolmastering, but a glorious deliverance from schoolmastering.

As I say, his influence was enormous. The fine arts, at his touch, shed all their American lugubriousness, and became provocative and joyous. The spirit of senility got out of them, and

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