« AnkstesnisTęsti »
rules. Art, music, letters, the stage, and even the movies are hers. She censors our films. Her opera-twenty-six weeks of it, with Christendom's best virtuosiforms our musical taste. Her actors lead, sometimes securing their "one hundred nights on Broadway" by letting in "deadheads," sometimes by sheer merit. With her Metropolitan Museum, her public monuments, and her world-renowned picture-mart, she trains our eye for beauty. With only three exceptions, all the nationally influential magazines are hers. She plays hostess to our Associated Press. Her newspapers dominate the country. By rewriting, by reprinting, or by direct syndication, provincial journalism echoes and reëchoes New York. Many a provincial reads the stepmother in the original text.
NEW YORK's literary efforts display a remarkable versatility, I confess. Quoth a fair New-Yorker, "I do enjoy writing for 'Pugslie's'-they want nothing wholesome." Yet New York goes in furiously for wholesomeness, as a rule, and the children wonder at times if she is in a position to pound the pulpit-cushions so canonically.
I recall the definition, "Character: what you are in the dark," and its paraphrase, "Character: what you are in New York." Yet what impresses me in New York is not her frivolity. It is her decency, her courage, her kindness. Of all great cities New York is by far the most moral outwardly, and who will fail to recognize the social value of even outward morality? Of all great cities she is by far the pluckiest. She breeds fighters like Riis and Rainsford, Abbott and Potter, Jerome, Roosevelt, and Hughes. She has tamed her police. She has taken a long, long stride toward abolishing the feudal system that centers in Tammany Hall. Big business behaves, or pretends to. Gamblers have ceased collecting art-treasures. District attorneys have outgrown the habit of bowing themselves in through the ceiling. Graft dwindles. Official complicity with Satan is both difficult and
dangerous. The tenement has improved. So has "Coney." Every advance costs a battle, and the end is not yet. New York realizes it. What with explosions, plagues, holocausts, "race wars," "crime waves," and strikes, there are warnings in abundance of more fights coming. Tammany's striped beast is not dead. It sleeps. The underworld is not banished; every few days a sociologist unearths new miseries. And, mind you, this same New York surmounted her Municipal Building with a statue of Civic Pride. She does not like the recrudescence of evil. But, such is her pluck, she takes it as a challenge, and retorts: "After a hundred fights, the hundred and first? Then lead me to it!"
And the pluck of individual NewYorkers! Some fail, and keep smiling. Aged business men, broken down and now doing office-boys' work, show a cheerfulness never to be observed elsewhere. In summer the whole metropolis is parboiled. On a torrid morning in July question the wretches who have slept out on benches. They chuckle. Or ask Avenue A's opinion of Avenue A. "Fine," you hear, "though it's cooler on Blackwell's Island, and we pay too much rent. But move away? away? Leave little old New York? Never!"
Parisians love Paris, though not in any such way as that. Half the Londoners hate London. hate London. In the British metropolis, as in the French, life is stationary. The submerged remain submerged. People at the surface are not climbing higher. Whereas in New York the superb phenomenon is this: millions helping more millions up, and themselves, too, and the whole community. To those above it brings a thrill of joyous satisfaction. To those below it brings faith in the active, aggressive kindness of their city.
Faith, I say, for only faith discerns a city's soul. And faith depends on mood. In a dismal mood one may see the squalor of New York, her misery, her shame. They are real. But it is something of an art to be dismal there. The more than crystalline brilliancy of the atmosphere,
and purse-proud worldlings. By night, in sordid districts, bright crosses burn against the sky. Scamps bent on wickedness have seen them and turned back. In the busiest thoroughfares one reads the notice, "Come in and rest and pray." Trinity, amid sky-scrapers, just opposite the entrance to "Mammon Street," has three services every week-day morning in sum"New York is the graveyard of
ministerial reputations," clergymen say quite properly. In the provinces good works bring fame. In New York they are lost among numberless others.
A poetic soul no doubt was the founder of Philadelphia. He gave it a beautiful name, at once melodious and endearing, but spoke too suddenly. The City of Brotherly Love in excelsis is not Philadelphia. It is New York.
By HERMANN HAGEDORN
OT long did we lie on the torn, red field of pain.
We fell, we lay, we slumbered, we took rest,
With the wild nerves quiet at last, and the vexed brain
Freed of the heavy dreams of hearts afar.
We rose at last under the morning star.
We rose, and greeted our brothers, and welcomed our foes.
"I'm alive as a cricket. There's something wrong with your head."
And over the wide field friend and foe
Spoke of small things, remembering not old woe
Of war and hunger, hatred and fierce words.