Puslapio vaizdai

When speaking of modern Finnish literature it is impossible not to mention at least two more writers: the lyric poet and novelist Eino Leino and the much-admired novelist Johannes Linnankoski, whose death a few years ago was an irreparable loss to Finnish literature. His "Song of the Fiery Red Flower" still remains one of the favorite novels not only in Finland, but of northern Europe. It is the story of a Finnish Don Juan, told with so much poetry and understanding of the human soul and of Northern nature that it must always keep its place as one of the treasures of literature.

Finnish music speaks for itself. Jean Sibelius, the most Finnish of Finns in music, needs no introduction. The present time seems to be a period of music. No political oppression could ever silence song in Finland, because song is the magic of the Finns. Those who like to prophesy tell us that Toivo Kuula will be the next man to follow Sibelius in the conquest of the musical world.

Among Finnish artists Kallela, Järnefelt, and Edelfelt are the best known. Only Kallela has come as far as America. Some of his pictures received generous recognition at the San Francisco Exposition.

The scientific development has gone. hand in hand with the artistic growth, though naturally the names of scholars do not easily become household words. The famous sociologist, Professor Edward Westermarck, is perhaps the most popular among Finnish men of science..

The opponents of the independence of Finland always point to the marvelous intellectual development that took place in less than a century, and quite rightly assure us that such rapid growth has never taken place anywhere else except in the wealthy United States. Then why not remain under Russian rule, which apparently has been beneficial?

It is perfectly true that Russian oppression and Finnish development stand in close relationship to each other. When the national movement started in the beginning of the last century it took on a

strongly educational character. The Finns were always aware of the fact that if they were to live a life of their own and not be assimilated by their strong neighbors, they had to rise to an equal or a higher level of civilization than theirs. They were never allowed to forget the threat from the East, and the danger kept them alert. Alexander I left the Finns in peace to sober down from the wonderful discovery of being a new, young, and strong nation; but his successor, Nicholas I, was a Czar of the old pattern, and could not suffer any kind of independent life inside. the boundaries of his realm. He promptly forbade the Finns to publish anything in the Finnish language except books on agriculture and religion. The Finnish Diet was not allowed to assemble during his reign, and he showed clearly that he meant to rule as an autocrat in Finland and not as a constitutional monarch. His successor, Alexander II, left the Finns to manage their own affairs, and it was chiefly during his reign that the country. progressed at top speed. Nicholas I had given the nation a warning not to feel too safe, and now was the time to prepare for coming evil days. Preparation in the Finnish vocabulary meant education. Political reaction began during the reign of Alexander III, and during the time of Nicholas II it developed into ruthless oppression. But Finland stood prepared; the people were educated and could recognize the coming danger.

It is perhaps necessary to point out another fact which helped the Finns in their uneven fight after 1899, when Nicholas II gave a death-blow to the Finnish constitution. Northern people are passionately attached to the country of their birth. The farther north one goes, the more one notices it. It may be a trick of nature in order to prevent those poor districts from being depopulated. Thus, when the fight for national existence became acute, the Finns felt it like a personal misfortune.

One of the things that became clear to the Finns at this time was that the forces of the community had been directed too strongly toward the intellectual develop

ment, at the cost of the economic development. As soon as they realized this, they began to mend matters. This was the beginning of the coöperative movement which has changed thoroughly the economic standard of the people.

The time from 1899 to 1905, "the years of disaster," as the Finns call that period, was full of greater suffering than Finland had ever before known. Lawlessness, persecution of honest and loyal citizens, corruption, suppression of free speech, and all the other characteristics of Russian autocratic rule were introduced in the unhappy country. The rest of Europe expressed its sympathy, but did nothing to help. Every week Finland's fight for national existence grew harder and harder, and all hope seemed in vain.

The crisis came in 1905, when the first revolution, or, rather, the rehearsal of a revolution, took place in Russia. On October 31 all Finland went on strike. For eight days life seemed to come to a standstill. The mental effect of this unanimous demonstration has lasted to this very day. The immediate consequence was that the czar restored all the laws he had violated, and granted to Finland certain new rights demanded by the nation. The most important one was the introduction of general suffrage for every man and woman of twenty-four years of age. Finland was thus the first European country to give its women full political rights.

Normal life lasted for a few years, and then oppression began anew. The conditions, however, were now quite different, for the national strike had shown what a weak nation could do if people acted unanimously, and this knowledge made all future struggle easier.

The renewed Russian oppression grew more and more ruthless until the final blow came a few months after the war had started. In November, 1914, the czar is

sued a new program, which virtually abolished all the few rights that were still left to Finland. It came somewhat untimely, just after Mr. Asquith had declared that the Allies, including Russia, were fighting for the rights of small nations.

After the Russian revolution in March the laws of Finland were restored again, and life looked brighter for the country, though, alas! only for a few weeks. The newly restored laws were broken by the Russian governor - general in Finland just as easily as during the good old days of the czar. Had the Finns not understood it before, they became convinced of it now, that the only way for them to live as members of the family of civilized European nations was European nations was to manage their own affairs.

The Finns have shown clearly during the hundred years of their conscious national life that they are capable of development and can add new values to the intellectual and artistic treasury of mankind. They are a law-abiding and peace-loving nation, and they have made their country one of the leaders of progress in Europe. They now ask for independence not as a gift of charity, but as their right.

The only excuse given against Finnish independence is that Finland is necessary for Russia because of strategic reasons. But, thank God, a new era will dawn on mankind after the horrors of this war, an era when "strategic reasons" will be a memory of the dark past, and only reasons of humanity shall count.

It is a good sign for Finland that many of the European governments have already acknowledged her independence. Her spokesmen will soon approach the Government of the United States, confident that the American nation, the great leader of democracy, will fully understand their aims and that their request will be favorably received.

[ocr errors]

The Happiest Time of Their Lives


Author of "Come Out of the Kitchen," etc.

Illustrations by Paul Meylan

SYNOPSIS OF CHAPTERS I-XIII-Mathilde Severance lives in New York with her beautiful mother, Adelaide, and her stepfather, Vincent Farron, "a leader of men." Adelaide has divorced her first husband and is now deeply in love with Farron. Mathilde is eighteen and very beautiful. She meets Pierson Wayne, a young statistician, at a dance. The following night they become engaged. Adelaide is displeased, as she wants a "person" for Mathilde's husband and decides to turn Mathilde from "Pete" by judicious sarcasm. She sends her father, Mr. Lanley, to call on Mrs. Wayne. He finds his hostess a charming, energetic woman, but her candor draws them into a discussion that Mr. Lanley takes as a personal reflection upon him. Afterward Mrs. Wayne tells Pete that she thinks she has "spoiled everything." Adelaide herself goes to call on Mrs. Wayne, hoping to convince her that there must be no immediate engagement. She invites Mrs. Wayne and Pete to dine. At the dinner Mr. Lanley finds that he is not angry with Mrs. Wayne. The older people come to no definite understanding, but Farron assures Adelaide that Mathilde and Pete are really in love. That night Farron tells Adelaide that he is ill and probably cannot live. Farron's operation is successful, Pete's firm decides to send him to China, and Mathilde, after an unprofitable interview with Adelaide, says she will go with him. Mrs. Wayne goes to a dinner at Mr. Lanley's house, and is too frank. Mrs. Baxter, a guest at Mr. Lanley's dinner insinuates to Adelaide that Mr. Lanley is in love with Mrs. Wayne. Mathilde and Pete plan to get married secretly; but Pete discovers that his firm is sending him away so that he cannot frustrate certain underhand schemes. He resigns his job. Consequently the marriage is delayed. He and Mathilde tell their story to Adelaide and Mr. Lanley.


N all the short, but crowded, time since Lanley had first known Mrs. Wayne he had never been otherwise than glad to see her, but now his heart sank. It seemed to him that an abyss was about to open between them, and that all their differences of spirit, stimulating enough while they remained in the abstract, were about to be cast into concrete form.

Mathilde and Pete were so glad to see her that they said nothing, but looked at her beamingly. Whatever Adelaide's feelings may have been, she greeted her guest

with a positive courtesy, and she was the only one who did.

Mrs. Wayne nodded to her son, smiled more formally at Mr. Lanley, and then her eyes falling upon Mathilde, she realized that she had intruded on some sort of conference. She had a natural dread of such meetings, at which it seemed to her that the only thing which she must not do was the only thing that she knew how to do, namely, to speak her mind. So she at once decided to withdraw.

"Your man insisted on my coming in, Mrs. Farron," she said. "I came to ask about Mr. Farron; but I see you are in

the midst of a family discussion, and so I won't-"

Everybody separately cried out to her to stay as she began to retreat to the door, and no one more firmly than Adelaide, who thought it as careless as Mr. Lanley thought it creditable that a mother would be willing to go away and leave the discussion of her son's life to others. Adelaide saw an opportunity of killing two birds.

"You are just the person for whom I have been longing, Mrs. Wayne," she said. "Now you have come, we can settle the whole question."

"And just what is the question?" asked Mrs. Wayne. She sat down, looking distressed and rather guilty. She knew they were going to ask her what she knew about all the things that had been going on, and a hasty examination of her consciousness showed her that she knew everything, though she had avoided Pete's full confidence. She knew simply by knowing that any two young people who loved each other would rather marry than separate for a year. But she was aware that this deduction, so inevitable to her, was exactly the one which would be denied by the others. So she sat, with a nervously pleasant smile on her usually untroubled face, and waited for Adelaide to speak. She did not have long to wait.

"You did not know, I am sure, Mrs. Wayne, that your son intended to run away with my daughter?"

All four of them stared at her, making her feel more and more guilty; and at last Lanley, unable to bear it, asked:

"Did you know that, Mrs. Wayne?" "Oh, dear!" said Mrs. Wayne. "Yes. I knew it was possible; so did you. Pete did n't tell me about it, though."

"But I did tell Mrs. Farron," said Pete. Adelaide protested at once.

"You told me?" Then she remembered that a cloud had obscured the end of their last interview, but she did not withdraw her protest.

"You know, Mrs. Farron, you have a bad habit of not listening to what is said to you." Wayne answered firmly.

This sort of impersonal criticism was to Adelaide the greatest impertinence, and she showed her annoyance.

"In spite of the disabilities of age, Mr. Wayne," she said, "I find I usually can get a simple idea if clearly presented."

"Why, how absurd that is, Wayne!" put in Mr. Lanley. "You don't mean to say that you told Mrs. Farron you were going to elope with her daughter, and she did n't take in what you said?"

"And yet that is just what took place." Adelaide glanced at her father, as much as to say, "You see what kind of young man it is," and then went on:

"One fact at least I have learned only this minute-that is that the finances for this romantic trip were to be furnished by a dishonorable firm from which your son has been dismissed; or, no, resigned, is n't it?"

The human interest attached to losing a job brought mother and son together on the instant.

"O Pete, you 've left the firm!"
He nodded.

"O my poor boy!"

He made a gesture, indicating that this was not the time to discuss the economic situation, and Adelaide went smoothly on:

"And now, Mrs. Wayne, the point is this. I am considered harsh because I insist that a young man without an income who has just come near to running off with my child on money that was almost a bribe is not a person in whom I have unlimited confidence. I ask-it seems a tolerably mild request-that they do not see each other for six months."

"I cannot agree to that," said Wayne, decidedly.

"Really, Mr. Wayne, do you feel yourself in a position to agree or disagree? We have never consented to your engagement. We have never thought the marriage a suitable one, have we, Papa?"

"No," said Mr. Lanley in a tone strangely dead.

"Why is it not suitable?" asked Mrs. Wayne, as if she really hoped that an agreement might be reached by rational discussion.

"Why?" said Adelaide, and smiled. "Dear Mrs. Wayne, these things are rather difficult to explain. Wouldn't it be easier for all of us if you would just accept the statement that we think so without trying to decide whether we are right or wrong?"

"I'm afraid it must be discussed," answered Mrs. Wayne.

Adelaide leaned back, still with her faint smile, as if defying, though very politely, any one to discuss it with her.

It was inevitable that Mrs. Wayne should turn to Mr. Lanley.

"You, too, think it unsuitable?" He bowed gravely.

"You dislike my son?" "Quite the contrary."

"Then you must be able to tell me the reason."

"I will try," he said. He felt like a soldier called upon to defend a lost cause. It was his cause, he could n't desert it. His daughter and his granddaughter needed his protection; but he knew he was giving up something that he valued more than his life as he began to speak. "We feel the difference in background," he said, "of early traditions, of judging life from the same point of view. Such differences can be overcome by time and money" He stopped, for she was looking at him with the same wondering interest, devoid of anger, with which he had seen her study Wilsey. "I express myself badly," he murmured.

Mrs. Wayne rose to her feet.

"The trouble is n't with your expression," she said.

"You mean that what I am trying to express is wrong?"

"It seems so to me."

"What is wrong about it?"

She seemed to think over the possibilities for an instant, and then she shook her head.

"I don't think I could make you understand," she answered. She said it very gently, but it was cruel, and he turned. white under the pain, suffering all the more that she was so entirely without malice. She turned to her son. "I'm

going, Pete. Don't you think you might as well come, too?"

Mathilde sprang up and caught Mrs. Wayne's hand.

"Oh, don't go!" she cried. "Don't take him away! You know they are trying to separate us. Oh, Mrs. Wayne, won't you take me in? Can't I stay with you while we are waiting?"

At this every one focused their eyes on Mrs. Wayne. Pete felt sorry for his mother, knowing how she hated to make a sudden decision, knowing how she hated to do anything disagreeable to those about her; but he never for an instant doubted what her decision would be. Therefore he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw her shaking her head.

"I could n't do that, my dear." "Mother!"

"Of course you could n't," said Mr. Lanley, blowing his nose immediately after under the tremendous emotion of finding that she was not an enemy, after all. Adelaide smiled to herself. She was thinking, "You could and would if I had n't put in that sting about his failures."

"Why can't you, mother?" asked Pete. "We'll talk that over at home." "My dear boy," said Mr. Lanley, kindly, "no one over thirty would have to ask why."

"No parent likes to assist at the kidnapping of another parent's child," said Adelaide.

"Good Heavens! my mother has kidnapped so many children in her day!"

"From the wrong sort of home, I suppose," said Lanley, in explanation, to no one, perhaps, so much as to himself.

"Am I to infer that she thinks mine the right sort? How delightful!" said Adelaide.

"Mrs. Wayne, is it because I 'm richer than Pete that you won't take me in?" asked Mathilde, visions of bestowing her wealth in charity flitting across her mind.

The other nodded. Wayne stared.

"Mother," he said, "you don't mean to say you are letting yourself be influenced by a taunt like that of Mrs. Farron's, which she did n't even believe herself?"

« AnkstesnisTęsti »