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rum punch and smuggled tea, is the protagonist of the story. But the honors really go to to Remember Watchhorn, the dour seaman who felled an English captain on his quarter-deck, escaped in the shadow of the gallows, and lived to run many loads of Holland tea under the nose of the apoplectic Captain Prothero. Watchhorn, joyously cracking on sail and singing a song of Calvinistic hellfire while the guns of the English man-of-war bark loudly, makes an engaging hero. As for Captain Prothero, he is a thoroughly satisfactory villain, who can carry off a helpless lady with quite the authentic air, whose deadly aim obligingly fails him in the duel, and who can curse and bluster with authority. If this were a play, he would take as many curtain-calls as anybody.
Mr. Davis romanticizes the economic issues of the Revolution as much as anything else, and some of the things he says are enough to make Hendrik Van Loon turn over in his grave before reaching it. But his pictures of the social life of the time are well-studied and vivid. Published by The Macmillan Company.
WAR IN THE WHEAT-PIT The historical novelists of two centuries from now, writing about the present day in the spirit in which our romancers tell of colonial times, will probably have to make intensive use of our business life to supply their stories with excitement. The chances are that their yarns will be as full of factual howlers as ours, but it may be that they will catch something colorful about our times that we have missed.
Few novels are being written to
day about the adventures of business life, and those are cast in a rather narrow mold. The theme most overlooked is that of the dominant, bullying manipulator who crashes through obstacles, crushes his competitors, and in the end gets a glimpse of the emptiness of it all. That story is now retold, with uncommon forcefulness, in Lester Cohen's novel, "The Great Bear."
"The Great Bear" is Thane Pardway, gambler in wheat in the Chicago of a generation ago, a Napoleon of the Pit and a devil with the women. Into the life of our man of dollars and ruthless big business comes a girl of wistful beauty, who gets a kind of hold on him that no woman has had before. All of which is the stuff that hackneyed books are made of-but Mr. Cohen makes the situation come to life surprisingly. He works hard for his effects, and one can often see the wheels going round, but often they shoot off sparks of real feeling.
The story of Pardway's war on the bulls in the wheat-pit is reminiscent of Frank Norris and Upton Sinclair in their vein of exposé. Subtlety against subtlety, trap against trap, the "Great Bear" fights a dirty battle against equally dirty antagonists. Spies are set against their masters, debauched women are taught new levels of crookedness, banks are wrecked as Pardway breaks his enemies' corner of the wheat market and makes himself another million.
This battle over, Pardway tosses the same reckless energy into the enterprise of marrying off to a callow rival the girl that he himself loves, and who loves him. Why? The author offers no better reason than
that Pardway is built that waywhich is, after all, the best of reasons since Pardway is a recognizable human being.
"The Great Bear" is more of a playwright's than a novelist's novel. The cumbersome mechanism of its melodrama gets in the way at times, reminding us too often that this is after all only a story. But what the author has achieved over his selfimposed limitations makes a very impressive showing. Published by Boni & Liveright.
MILADY PLAYS WITH SKULLS
The vision conjured up by the writings of Elizabeth Madox Roberts is that of a fair and delicate lady playing with skulls. Her eyes are dreamy, but they see through terrifying abysses; her voice is never pitched above a whisper, but it talks of decadence and death, the brutality of man and of nature. Like the gentleman who could roar you like a dove, she can sing of the blood-lust and make it sound like the gentlest of lullabies.
So subdued and so persuasively lyrical is the pitch of Miss Roberts' novel "My Heart and My Flesh" that it is a continuous surprise to find it an uncompromising study in futility, and to realize that her fragile heroine, Theodosia Bell, flits through the pages with death and despair by her side.
The story of "My Heart and My Flesh" is all in the echoes-reverberating ones, despite the low tones. In its broad outline, it tells of Theodosia's mental struggle against the decay of her sleepy Kentucky town, of her revolt against her lecherous father, of her horrified fascination
with the thought that two ugly, animal-like negresses and an imbecile boy are her half-sisters and brother, of her intimacy with death in caring for her fading grandfather; and, at the last, her sickness and the bittersweet triumph of recovering from it and being reconciled with Nature. Through it runs the shadow of a love affair that never gets beyond the mind, and of a nightmarish murder committed by the negress Lethe for which Theodosia's tortured mind accepts an unreasonable blood-guilt.
If Miss Roberts gives the impression of being unworldly, it is not because of ignorance of the world. She is very much "in the know,' but unconquerably naïve-in other words, a poet. words, a poet. Published by The Viking Press.
"The Reading Room" this issue is installed on the steamship Mauretania, on the way to London. The steward has just been trying to get it in order for the morning, and found several tons of recent literature in his way, on the dresser, in the closet, and strewn about the deck. He looked at the stacks gravely, tugged at his mustache, and remarked "If you 'aven't enough readin' matter, sir, there's a few books in the library."
Working at sea is a practice to be highly recommended to reviewers. It's comfortable, and conducive to good temper. . . But Theodore Dreiser is aboard, and remarks, after a ferocious exchange of puns: "You fellows are always at sea, anyway.'
What price best-sellerdom and literary réclame for the writer who is essentially a rebel? Dreiser offered
WHEN THE READER WRITES
My dear Editor,
I think you are getting out a perfectly fine magazine these days. This was particularly true of the November issue-I don't know when I have picked up any publication and found more articles to interest me in a single issue-and this is saying a good deal for me, for I am old and know so much. THE CENTURY MAGAZINE is one of the few publications fit for a gentleman to read.
Sincerely yours, DAVID GIBSON
My dear Editor,
Mr. Dyer's article, "This Farm of Mine," in your October issue provides much food for reflection. But he gives no practical details of his farm work and farm life. He seems to be perfectly happy and contented on his farm, yet, I gather he and his wife knew absolutely nothing about practical farming when he acquired his farm. He mentions that his previous occupation was of a professional nature. He and his wife are evidently people of refinement and cultivation and I am deeply interested to learn how he manages to be happy and contented on the farm. Perhaps if Mr. Dyer would kindly go into the following details I would be better informed.
(Limited space makes it impossible to print the long list of questions.)
My wife and I are devoted to home life, especially if pleasantly located in the country, three to ten miles from an attractive small town with a railroad, churches, banking facilities, express office, post-office, shops, etc. Like Mr. Dyer, when he purchased his farm, we know absolutely nothing about practical farming, but we possess sufficient money not to be dependent on the farm for support, though of course, we should expect the farm at least to pay for its mere upkeep.
COUNTRY HOme Seeker
My dear Editor,
If "Country Home Seeker" will send me his name and address, I shall be very glad to answer
any and all questions concerning the manner of our taking up farm life and our methods of handling our problems, but I should prefer not to take up your space with intimate details.
Many of my answers would not, I think, fit your correspondent's case. We live on an old New England farm in a good neighborhood, where conditions are different, I think, from those which he pictures. Hasn't he in mind something more in the way of a Southern plantation with a considerable force of servants?
I should say at the outset that I am not a farmer but a writer who has chosen to live on a farm because he likes the farm environment and occupations. I started in with somewhat expansive ideas concerning fruit growing, but with the passing of the years I have become less and less interested in commercial farming, and more interested in providing the sort of home conditions that we like. The farm does not pay for itself and never will, though it does supply our table with good things and our minds with content.
This is not a mere country home, however, but a bona fide farm. It consists of about 80 acres, chiefly in meadow and orchard, with the rest growing up to white pines. It is located in central Massachusetts four miles from a college town.
My orchards include over 500 apple trees and I keep a cow and chickens but no horse. We have our own water supply system, with bathrooms, etc., in the house; a telephone, a small car, but no electricity. I do as much of the outside work as I can, though I try to spend a little time each day at my desk. For the rest I depend on such help as I can get, sometimes regular, sometimes irregular. Team work I hire. We have no maid and have never boarded any help. I milk my cow myself, from choice, and do the other chores. My wife and I do all the gardening and enjoy it.
I believe my case to be not a typical one, and therefore much of my experience would be of no value to others. My way of living is not ideal, for a farm is a responsibility and produces worries and burdens, but it comes nearer to being ideal for us than any other.
WALTER A. DYER
My dear Editor,
My stack of CENTURY MAGAZINES has been rising for twenty years! And for a longer period I have been a member of a Woman's Club, originally a literary club. To-day, I have been reading the October magazine and am quite excited, even more interested over "A Clubless Woman's World" by Ida Clyde Clarke.
Since our club was made departmental, and later federated, my interest has seemed to be flagging, with a longing for the old "Sesame Club."
Why? The article referred to makes plain many
Sincerely yours, E. J. DAVIES
My dear Editor,
Two stories in the October CENTURY have given me more than ordinary pleasure: "Circe" and "The Last Pew." Perhaps those two most lovable boys appeal strongly to me because I have five sons of my own. Both stories seem to me rarely sympathetic and genuine.
There is also in this number an article that my husband liked particularly, and which I found even better than the stories. It is "This Farm of Mine." We also have found our ideal home outside of town; and although we have been here a much shorter time than Mr. Dyer has lived on his farm, we are experiencing all the satisfaction of which he writes so understandingly. "Contentment and simplicity," he says, "are two of the most desirable ends of life." And Lowell's phrase has been often in my mind here in the country.
"Beauty's law of plainness and content."
Thank you for such an inspiration to live simply and beautifully. It is worth more than all the "Better Homes" agitation, which is mostly advertising.
Very sincerely yours, JESSIE M. BROWNSCOMBE Santa Rosa, California.
My dear Editor,
I have been a reader of THE CENTURY for many years and cannot refrain from expressing my surprise and disgust that a magazine of its standing should publish a thing like "Painted Hussy" in the October issue. What a vulgar mind one must have to see only a "painted hussy" in these beautiful, quiet autumn days!
As a boy in Boston after the Civil War, I was puzzled at the violent hatred displayed toward Johnson. Later I was presented with a copy of the works of Charles Sumner, and I was horrified at the extravagant venom of his speeches. I read Welles' diary when it came out in the Atlantic Monthly, which led me to read the report of the Impeachment trial. I thus became convinced that the common opinion about Johnson was all wrong, and have been surprised that no one has heretofore presented the true picture.
I congratulate the author and thank you. Very truly yours, GEORGE U. Crocker
My dear Editor,
In looking over this splendid November number of THE CENTURY Magazine I find the first one of your readers' letters speaks of being one of your readers for more than a quarter of a century. So I am moved to write you that I have been one for more than a half a century-having the complete issues of the magazine from the time it was first published as Scribner's Monthly in November 1870, fifty-seven years ago this next month, by J. G. Holland. My father S. T. Davis, Souix City, Iowa being the subscriber at that time till 1900, when his library came to me to carry on. With the death of its editor J. G. Holland in October 1881 Scribner's Monthly of October 1881 became in November 1881 THE CENTURY MAGAZINE— Volume XXIII or New Series Volume I-a great magazine.
Sioux City, Iowa.
RUMFORD PRESS CONCORD
STELLA DAVIS GORDON