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to take up her pen and write so spontaneous an appreciation. Therefore you took it home carefully under your coat, and looked forward to a successful hour or two. But by the end of the first chapter you could not help noticing that the book was meant for someone else; and then, as you turned it about in a desperate search for something to encourage you to finish it, you saw the dedication, "To A. M." At once you understood. "A. M." was the chosen reader, the man on whom the writer was happy to rely. As for you, you had no right to touch the book. Had the writer seen you he would have known that it had got into the wrong hands, and he would have asked you to give it up. He could not have stood by and seen you pass over his best phrases and hurry hopelessly from one page to another. Mercifully, the writer does not often have to watch his reader in the act. He need not know anything about the books thrown across the room, and, what is even more merciful, he need know nothing about the doze following the first chapter. No writer would dare to follow his book about the world and be a spectator of its fate. Dickens might have been safe with "David Copperfield"; but who else would risk the journey? Years ago writers were more careful to avoid the wrong reader and they took pains to make it clear for whom the book was meant. Montaigne, for instance, was not satisfied The Saturday Review.
with the vagueness of "A. M." or "E. L. S." or "Lucy." He put before his essays an address to the reader, in which he made it clear that he expected him to be gentle. Shelley also, in dedicating "The Cenci" to Leigh Hunt, did not hesitate to give some description of the man who was for him the perfect reader. "Had I," he said, "known a person more highly endowed than yourself with all that it becomes a man to possess, I had selected for this work the ornament of his name. One more gentle, honorable, innocent, and brave; one of more exalted toleration for all who do and think evil, and yet himself more free from evil; one who knows better how to receive and confer a benefit, though he must ever confer far more than he can receive; one of simpler, and, in the highest sense of the word, of purer life and manners I never knew, and I had already been fortunate in friendships when your name was added to the list."
He who has heard the ochingufu will comprehend the methods of a political scare. For the ochingufu of Central Africa is a drum hewn out of a solid block of wood, four foot high by three foot long, and shaped like a halfopen carpet-bag. To its repeated throb,
Why should not this art of dedication be revived? It is the art of choosing the right readers, and it should be as necessary for the author to choose his readers as for the reader to choose his authors. A visit to a library would then become a simpler business. The dedication would give at least a hint of what was expected from the reader, and, if this were impossible, he could put the book down and take away some other.
dark and naked tribes are now dancing all night long beneath the moon. They stamp the earth with horny feet, they clap their hands in rhythm, now and again they raise their voices in a savage and monotonous chant. But all the while the hollow drum continues
its throbbing note, blow succeeding blow, and drummer succeeding drummer, from hour to hour, without pause or break; and with each hour the souls of the dancers become more exhilarated, and their enthusiasm more akin to demoniacal possession. They writhe their back-bones like snakes, they leap into the air, they utter frantic yells. Sober morning finds them prostrate with ecstasy.
As in our demoniacal panics at home, it is repetition that does it. There is no emotion in a single blow upon a drum, but let a hundred be struck, and the heart begins to vibrate in unison. Let drummer succeed drummer, let "statesman" follow "statesman" in foreboding peace, let newspaper follow newspaper in prophesying invasion, and the blood mounts, the brain is distorted from reason, the whole nature becomes possessed. All because to one sound the same sound succeeds at quick and regular intervals! If drum-taps sounded only once an hour, or papers appeared only once a month, or statesmen spoke only once a year, no matter how monotonous their utterances, where would be the pleasure, where the intoxication of the soul? It is only repetition that does it. In journalism it is an old rule that in every leading article you ought to say the same thing three times. Let us assume that twenty newspapers utter the same note of panic every morning in England, each three times, and each with an average circulation of 200,000. We have the same note repeated twelve million times throughout the country every morning often for a week together, and even the Central African night does not vibrate to so many beats of the ochingufu as that-not by several millions.
"What I tell you three times is true," said the Bellman, and think of the amount of truth he could have impressed upon the country if he had told it twelve million times! No wonder
people tremble in their beds and hate the Germans. "Wolf! wolf!" cried the little boy, and after running a time or two for hatchets, neighbors heeded him no more. But if only he had gone on crying "wolf!" to this day, we should be throwing babies out of windows to the ravening herds of our imagination. For repetition induces a kind of hypnotism, credulous of the lie, and many courtiers besides himself believed that George IV. had fought at Waterloo.
Similarly in art, it is not only the drum that beats a music out by a recurrent "da capo." Men have been elevated by the clang of a churchgoing bell, and of all the bugle calls there is none, except the cease-fire, so brief in repetition as the charge. Some take a pleasure in the repeated crash and gulp of waves, and musicians will watch for a returning phrase in opera as cats for mice. The beat of hoofs upon a frosty road is cheerful as the morning, the bumping of the locomotive sings a tune, and the blacksmith who lies buried at Little Stanmore was not more harmonious than all who strike the anvil. At the sound of repeated strokes on wires or skins we feel the Walkyrie riding down the ranks of doom, and the father gallops late through storm and wind, though Walkyrie never lived and the Erlkönig is a legend. Consider the power of the chorus in songs, how one race will maunder through a winter's night over "Auld Lang Syne," and to another it seems the height of bliss to repeat "John Peel" for hours together though they have never seen a hound, and to a third the Government forbade the singing of "Tarara" on account of the ecstatic frenzy it aroused. Hear how our own citizens love to sing a hundred times, "I'm afraid to go home in the dark," though they have never seen the dark or felt afraid of going home, when sober.
In the days of libraries our fathers
delighted in a repetition of the same calf binding, and their volumes stood along the shelves like regiments dressed by the right. In the days of worship the repetition of Doric column and round or pointed arch inspired a sense of beauty or religious awe. When, even in our time, the dons restore their college, they surround the quadrangle with an unvarying battlement, though they have no desire to shoot at the undergraduates from behind it. But in architecture, as in lectures, they know the value of repetition; and so do children when from their buckets they turn out their long rows of moulded sand, and so did the builders of Bloomsbury when they turned out their long rows of bricks. Even in repeated action men find unwearied delight: the Dervish spins, the reader of the Koran sways, the Russian peasant prostrates himself incessantly, the oarsman performs the same rhythmic movements over a four-mile course, the child whom you toss to the ceiling implores you to do it again for ever, and lovers shake hands more than once.
In language the power of repetition and refrain is well known, and the Psalmist did not think it too much to repeat "His mercy endureth for ever" twenty-seven times in a hymn of twenty-seven verses. "Hear Thou in heaven thy dwelling place" was repeated by Solomon in his dedication of the temple with ever-increasing dignity, and the words of the Preacher, that "this also is vanity and vexation of spirit" recur like the sighing of mankind. "And I only am escaped alone to tell thee," cried each messenger of disaster to Job in turn, and the poet knew well that the repetition of the words redoubled the sucessive blows. Congregations of miserable sinners may weary of kneeling through the Litany, but saints tell us that its repetitions touch the depths of prayer.
"Raise the cry, the cry of woe, but let the good prevail," said the priest once and again in the "Agamemnon" chorus, and by the repetition the poet sounds the foreboding of doom. "O charms, bring back Daphnis from the city home," the Sicilian girl chanted at each weary minute of the night, and Sister Helen's recurrent burden multiplies the mystery and horror of her waxen man. There was a time when the repeated insertion of some such line as "Red rose leaves in the wan water" sufficed to give a medieval beauty to a ballad, and both Wordsworth and the maker of the "Dowie Houms" were sore put to it to secure the sorrowful repetition of Yarrow's sound. The exquisite effect of Rose Aylmer's beautiful names repeated in two successive lines has ensured for her an immortality of forty words. What perfection of sincerity in art lies in Cowper's repetition:
"Partakers of thy sad decline,
And when Milton writes:
"Though fall'n on evil days, On evil days though fall'n, and evil tongues,"
it is almost comforting to escape from that proud sorrow to the criticism of culture's devotee who remarked to his lecturer, "I think that is the first time we have found Milton committing the error of repeating himself."
Children love to hear the same tale a score of times, and if a word is altered they insist on the correction. "I am a lost dog," repeated without further words by Mr. Galsworthy's beggar secures more pity than all the investigations of the Charity Organization Society into a most deserving case. Generations of our youth have derived an inexplicable pleasure from repeating words of no apparent meaning, such
as, "Wo, Emma!" "Now we shan't be long!" "There's 'air!" "Won't you go home, Bill Bailie?" "What ho! she bumps!" and, at this present moment, "Are you well?" with a break in the voice like a milkman's or a Tyrolese peasant's. It is strange, and all the stranger because on the other side we are brought face to face with the Greek philosopher's downright assertion that "Twice is impossible." All artists know it to be true; they can never do anything twice. Driven by their own reputation and by the common belief that a man who has done one thing well should go on doing it for ever, they may try the same theme a hundred times but never recapture the splendor of that first fine venture. The curse that broods over a good teacher is that he can never teach the same lesson twice, and if it comes to sermons, the very sexton sleeps at the second time of preaching, though he may not remember a single sentence of the first.
Twice is impossible. The repetition of a lap-dog's yap, of a kitten's mew, a baby's yell, or a drawing-room song seldom redoubles our joy. Love music as we may, the fourth time that the man next door turns on the Moonlight Sonata upon his pianola, we are fit to wring his neck. Regularity in meals is all very well, but go to the same restaurant day after day, and you sicken like a sheep stale on its pasture. Fashion is a fickle jade, but dress a girl always the same and her soul turns drab as an industrial school. Children may like an old, old story,
but a tale that is told is a proverb of tedium; if any one now begins upon the cabman and the chauffeur, we flee, and many dining tables should be made of another kind of wood than mahogany. "Let the sun rise twice," said the poet, "and no one looks at him again." Philosophers talk of the uniformity of nature, as though she were a dowdy woman; but we know that she abhors repetition as much as a vacuum. No two leaves of her innumerable forests are the same, and among her innumerable sinners she distinguishes each by the marking of his thumb. It is abhorrence of repetition that makes artists turn away from machine-made goods, as all of us turn away from machine-made men, and, if we listen to lovers, undying love itself is never the same two hours together, nor can it repeat a second of its life.
Somehow, then, we are landed in a queer contradiction. We know the powers of repetition and the beauty of habit; we know that nearly all mankind ask only for what they know already. And yet we are confronted with man's abhorrence of doing or hearing or seeing the same thing twice, and all our theories of repetition are cut across by the spirit that can do nothing a second time, that slits the threads of custom, and at the corners of all our streets is now uttering the vulgar cry, "If I hear that again, I'll shriek!" If the philosophers have found us no solution in human nature to so obvious a contradiction, it is not the only occasion on which they have failed to explain the soul.
BOOKS AND AUTHORS.
The Wilshire Book Co. of New York publishes an edition of Professor R. C. Punnett's little book on "Mendelism" which expounds very clearly and con
cisely the so-called Mendelian theory of evolution by mutation instead of through the slow process of natural selection. This theory, briefly, is that,
alike in animals and plants, any desired characteristic in one of the parents can be transferred to the offspring and that the results are governed by mathematical ratio. The experiments which justify this conclusion are described in this little volume.
Disillusion seems to occupy the mind of the British essayist at the present moment, and magazine articles on Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and neat little volumes made from other articles abound, and as a rule are such very good reading that one can but regret that the disillusion alleged and exhibited is declared to be so complete that in the nature of things its process must soon come to an end for lack of beliefs to abandon. In face of the entire indifference of the material universe, and the slightly veiled unconcern of one's fellow-beings the proclamation of the most sweeping negative becomes wearisome, and must soon give way to some other method of exercise. Indeed, no remarkably keen vision is needed to discern in what quarter mental activity will next arise, but for the present the persons who have lost their illusions are profoundly interesting, both on their own account and as indications of the distance through which the thought of the Northern and Western European countries, Spain and Portugal excepted, has drifted during the last seventy-five years. One of the most interesting books on the subject is Algar Thorold's "Six Masters of Disillusion," a volume composed of papers on Fontenelle, Mérimée, Ferdinand Fabre, Huysmans, Maeterlinck and Anatole France. Fontenelle, born in 1657, and dying but a few months before completing his century of life, serves well as a link between the seventeenth century and the nineteenth, the interval being spanned by Beyle, the preceptor of Prosper Mérimée whose best known
work was not published until 1874. Ferdinand Fabre's novels, although hardly orthodox, aim at correcting the popular conception of the priest in such details as may have been introduced by hostile writers; Huysmans, who to the crude untutored American mind seems to be striving to produce something to be advertised by exclusion from the mails, and succeeding very well, is really trying to correct the unbelief forced upon him by the current thought of his youth. Maeterlinck, mystic and lover of beauty, and Anatole France, benevolent analyst of character and anatomist of motive, are of to-day, and the last four may be taken as representing the successive periods in the disillusion preached by their masters. In the author's opinion this disillusion is omnipresent. Early nineteenth century insistence upon the acceptance of orthodox theology and cosmology has not only caused the rejection, but has banished the system of which they are a part from the mind of Northern and Western Europe, and with it has gone the firmer conception of God. The author's criticism of his six subjects is both discerning and charmingly written but his view of the condition of thought seems somewhat over gloomy. It is true that among the English speaking races, the French, the North Germans and the Scandinavians, there is a class which prides itself on clear-eyed unbelief and proclaims it in a manner which the disrespectful liken to that of the small boy who whistles to sustain his courage, but there is a much larger class, and it includes many of the bravest hearts and most brilliant intellects, each member of which might, like the late Henry James, classify himself as "an abject Christian." And this may be said without reckoning the Catholic Church to which even Mr. Thorold concedes continuance. Denial is always noisy. E. P. Dutton & Co.