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business interests that wanted special privileges. All these self-interests, combined and conflicting, were apparently expected to sum up to the general interest and to give us a form of government that was full of flaws, by no means ideal, but good enough for practical purposes. And in a country settled by people who had fled from governmental tyrannies abroad, there was naturally a suspicion of a toogreat governmental efficiency, a fear of paternalism, a good-humored tolerance of fatuous congresses and legislatures, and very little sense of responsibility to the government or for the government.
But now we find that this state of affairs has given us no army at all, at a cost of a hundred million dollars a year, which is half what the Germans have paid for the best army in the world; that the Germans have spent less on their navy than we, and the British have spent only a third more than we; that our navy compares with the British navy as our army compares with the German army; and that against either one of those countries. we are as defenseless as Belgium, which maintained an army four times as large as ours at one eighth of the cost of ours.
And suddenly many of those organs of
public opinion that were contemptuous of the "wild-eyed reformer" are wild-eyed beyond belief when they regard the condition of our national defense. They seem to have expected that one branch of the public service would remain miraculously free of the disease which they condoned in every other branch; that while class interests and local interests and business interests and private interests were more or less controlling the administration of every other function of government, our national defense would be economical and efficient and administered unselfishly for the good of the whole country.
It is vain, as Mark Twain said, to expect too much from the good end of a bad banana. The reformer and the muckraker were right in this: good government is not merely an impractical ideal; it is a practical necessity. The patriotic leagues that are now calling for citizens to make themselves ready to die for their country efficiently should have begun by forming leagues of citizens to live for their country efficiently. Otherwise, their deaths will be a useless sacrifice for a country that is foredoomed. In a democracy it is the ballot that is the first weapon of national defense.
A True Servant of Art
JOHN W. ALEXANDER'S distinction as an artist was closely akin to his distinction as a man. A courtesy of spirit that habitually expressed itself in courtesy of manner did not interfere with a quiet fixity of purpose and indefatigable application. These traits of character won him friends while still a youth in Pittsburgh and later, when he joined the list of illustrators in New York. He was already a skilful and facile draftsman, but eager for advancement in painting. Accordingly he repaired to Munich, where he secured the friendship of Duveneck, with whom he spent a summer in the Bavarian Alps and a further period of study in Venice. Returning to this country he obtained notable recognition as a portrait-painter.
In 1894 he went to Paris, where during a sojourn of seven years he enjoyed a distinguished position in official and artistic circles.
For by this time the individuality and charm of his technical style had been matured. He had allied himself with the students of light and atmosphere, and since the majority of these devoted themselves to landscape, his application of the principles of painting color-values to subjects of the figure gained immediate attention. Moreover he had created a method of his own that admirably suited the decorative manner of his designs. He used a coarse-woven canvas, unprimed, and therefore absorbent, which softened the pigments to a sort of delicate and frequently
evasive bloom. To this the grain of the canvas lent a quality of vibration, so that although his color masses were large and simple, they escaped emptiness of interest and sufficiently enriched the flowing lines. that he affected in his compositions. The result was a decorative design of pronounced individuality and personal charm.
In 1900 Alexander returned home in order that his son might be educated as an American citizen. Since that time, both
as President of the National Academy and in many outside capacities, he devoted a large part of his energies and time to spreading the love of and respect for art in this country, his zeal finding special scope in helping young students with advice and sympathy and in promoting the work of the School Art League among the pupils of the public schools. In his death we have lost an artist of notable charm and a true servant of art.
The Sanctity of the Home
T would seem that the present genera
their forefathers did, that the moral laws of the universe were revealed to mankind, once and for all, immutably, by a miracle. of grace. And it is apparently accepted that those moral laws have been evolved by the evolution of our civilization, so that many moral evils which our forefathers endured are now intolerable to us, and we tolerate freedom that our forefathers would have thundered against.
But we still act as if the moral law were indeed the order solely of a divine commandment which mankind, by its anxious effort, must be schooled unwillingly to obey. We fear that "the sanctity of the home" is threatened by divorce, by suffrage, by polygamy, by woman in industry, or by the new dances; and we crusade oratorically to protect it from destruction, although we must know that if the sanctity of the home depended on such protection it would long ago have gone the way of the sanctity of the temple at Ephesus. We are distressed by license in our books and our theaters, and we organize extra censorships and frantic societies for the suppression of vice, as if vice and license had not always fought a losing battle against civilization, being opposed by the economic laws that have made our morality what it is. We seem to know that by helping to better the economic conditions we can better the moral conditions of life, but we forget that we cannot greatly help by scolding. We hope
that we can assist the sanctity of the home by not retarding the economic progress that has made possible the sanctity of the average home, but we forget that mankind can no more return to its ancient immoralities than its culture can return to its ancient barbarism.
After generations of preaching against drunkenness, the economic pressure of industrial conditions is making drunkenness anti-social, and the States are enforcing prohibition as a moral law. The change in the economic status of women is giving them an influence in government, and they are helping to administer the laws. against organized vice as they were never administered before. If the church is losing power, as we are told it is, that is because so many of the activities of the church have been secularized. The whole progress of civilization has been marked by such secularization. The augur and the medicine-man are no longer our meteorologists; that work is done by a government bureau. The schools, the hospitals, the asylums are no longer administered by religious orders; they are under the control of the state. Marriage is much more a contract than a sacrament, and lay courts, instead of church tribunals, hear our divorce suits. Many personal vices that were once private sins have become social offences, and are punished in courts instead of in confessionals. The process of secularization has been advanced by the same steady currents of progress that have advanced morality. If
it means less religion, it does not mean less virtue; and the whole history of civilization is a proof that we have as little cause to worry about the sanctity of the home as we have about the sanctity of the law of gravitation.
CORRECTION.In "A New Note in Art," by Ada Rainey in THE CENTURY for June, an illustration of a statuette entitled "A Laborer" was ascribed to Arthur Bouvet. It should have been accredited to Mahonri Young.
IN LIGHTER VEIN
The Creeping Fingers
By LAWTON MACKALL
RS. WHOFFIN'S figure resembled that of the punch-bowl behind which she was standing: it was broad and squat, with a slight tapering at the base. And her mind was like the punch: sweetish and characterless, with scrappy rinds of things floating about in it. Each guest who presented a cup received the same dipperful and the same set of remarks.
"Good evening. I'm so glad you could come! I just love hearing ghost-stories, don't you? See that log over there?" She pointed to a huge gray hulk that lay at the side of the open fireplace. "That's real driftwood, and it ought to give just the right kind of light. I found it myself on the beach, and had the gardener bring it home in a wheelbarrow. Look, it's all honeycombed with age."
A tall, serious-looking young man stepped forward and extended his glass. He knew that that was the way to please her, and she was the woman who he hoped and feared would be his mother-in-law.
"Do have another, Mr. Carson."
He did; for he was in a desperate mood. He was to leave for the city on the early morning train, and this evening would be his last chance to propose to Polly for several months. Somehow, despite his best efforts, the psychological moment had never arrived.
Just then Polly sailed into the room, fresh and rosy, in a flutter of white muslin. He put down the glass and hurried over to her.
"Good evening, Polly," he said in an ardent undertone. "Could n't you slip away from this crowd and take a stroll on the beach?"
"No, George; I'm hostess to-night." She shook her head, including some airy. little curls, which seemed to make light of her refusal. "We are all to gather around the hearth and listen to the stories." Then she added teasingly, "Besides, it is in your honor that mother is giving this party."
"Yes; she 's very kind, I 'm sure," he said awkwardly.
"Think of all the trouble she has taken over that log!"
Carson faced her with squared jaw.
"Listen to me, Polly. There is something serious I want to talk to you about. Before I leave you, I-"
"Polly," called Mrs. Whoffin, "is n't it time to begin?"
"Perhaps it is," she answered innocently. "What do you think, George?" "I think the story-telling might as well. begin at once," he said stiffly.
A few minutes later all lights were turned out. The score of young people had settled themselves about the room in comfortable attitudes, some on chairs and sofas, some on cushions on the floor, while in the midst of them sat the narrator, a girl of eighteen, who affected a deep morbidity. Gazing into the fire, she began her tale as though she were in a trance.
Carson sulkily picked his way after Polly toward a seat beside the hearth.
Just as he was reaching it, he tripped over something bulky.
"Why, that 's my log!" exclaimed Mrs. Whoffin, from the back of the room. "Dear! dear! Why has n't any one put it on the fire?" The story waited while Mrs. Whoffin scurried forward and personally supervised the placing of the log upon the andirons, and then sat down beside the hearth opposite Polly.
"Do go on!" cried several voices. "You stopped in the most exciting part."
The narrator, looking daggers at Mrs. Whoffin, paused long enough to show that she did n't have to go on unless she wanted to, and then resumed her tale:
"Suddenly, as he lay there in the haunted room, on the very bed where the old man had been murdered, he felt an invisible hand on the bedclothes."
Mrs. Whoffin shuddered, and a large black ant peered out of a hole in the log to see what was going on.
"Then he felt a second hand more terrifying than the first."
Beholding his home in flames, the ant rushed back indoors to spread the alarm. Along the highways of the interior he sped, a second Paul Revere, rousing the sleeping insects, of which there were
"Oh!" groaned Mrs. Whoffin.
The exodus of Paul's friends proceeded in orderly fashion. "Larvæ and eggs first," was their order. Carrying their infants upon their backs, they filed out of the subway openings in steady processions.
"The hands clutched the covers just above his feet. Fear paralyzed him so that he could neither move nor cry out."
A party of refugees applied to Mrs. Whoffin for shelter. She was so absorbed in the story that she did not see them.
"Then the fingers began to creep up and up, up and up. His flesh tingled with horror."
Mrs. Whoffin quivered like an aspen leaf. She breathed hard, and her eyes nearly popped out of her head. Other people began to feel creepy.
"They clutched his knee, and-"
Mrs. Whoffin uttered a piercing shriek, and clasped her knee with both hands. She was invaded. Then Polly screamed, and Carson began to slap himself on various parts of the anatomy. There was a general panic. Girls squealed and, clambering frantically upon chairs, shook out their lifted skirts; young men stamped about wildly, mashing ants and people's toes in equal numbers. Mrs. Whoffin, tormented from head to foot, galloped in circles, moaning, "Oh mercy! Oh mercy!" "Save me, George!" cried Polly, clinging to his arm.
"Yes, darling!" he answered fervently. If the ants had been raging bulls, he would have saved her from them; but they were ants, and their ways were devious. He hesitated, slapping himself thoughtfully.
"Turn on the lights!" yelled some one. "No! Don't!" screamed half a dozen shrill voices.
"Save me!" repeated Polly, distractedly. "I can't stand this any longer! I'll perish!"
Struck with a swift inspiration, he caught her up in his arms and started for the door. She made no resistance. Out of the room he carried her, then through the front hall, and down the front steps Half-way down the walk she asked: "Where are you taking me?" "To the ocean."
"Why, you clever boy!"
People sitting on the verandas of neighboring cottages saw in the moonlight a sight that electrified them with horror A powerful-looking maniac, with a helpless woman in his arms, strode across the beach and began to wade out into the water. Hoping to save her, they ran to the shore and put out in boats and canoes.
"Oh," sighed the victim, blissfully, as Carson let her down into the water, "it feels so cool-and quiet!"
"Row harder, Doctor!" cried the steersman of the nearest boat. "He's trying to strangle her!"
THE DE VINNE PRESS, NEW YORK