« AnkstesnisTęsti »
world when it came, say, to financial est sex," and by saying that "men are matters. Having been myself inde- far more modest than women," he pendent, and believing that he would stepped into the heated air of argutake this into consideration, I looked ment, bringing down storms upon his for him to make no matter of a sepa- head. But he considered that he had rate bank-account, or at least of the several blazoned names to bear him "allowance” loved of wives, in order out, among them Jean Paul's, "Love that I might suffer no sense of bondage. increases man's delicacy, and lessens But no. Like the bulk of men, his was woman's," and Bernard Shaw's, "If the pleasure of spending his own women were as fastidious as men, money upon the “one small woman." morally and physically, there would Any other arrangement was frowned be an end to the race.” upon. At the suggestion a frost I must admit that I have seen him seemed to spread over his face. And, play down, not always up, to women seeing that it was he, I found the bond- and their vanity; but, to his credit and age sweet.
theirs, he never left them long deJack charmed women of all classes, ceived. And he would not try to and while he held a reserved opinion deceive one who spoke his own lanas to the intellectuality of the average guage, though he made it extremely female brain, he could not abide a difficult for that person to understand stupid woman. His own adventurous his. mentality had made him pursue He had struggled against misogyny, women out of curiosity, and learn them winning out because he had had extoo well, perhaps, for his own good. perience enough with exceptional He was of two distinct minds about
women of conscience and brain to keep them, and swung from one to the other: him healthy in his point of view. Be their innate goodness and stanchness sides, in the last extremity, he was a commanded his worship, while their one-woman man, glorying in the dispitiable frailty and smallness wrung covery of this. In my copy of “Before his spirit. "Pussy! Pussy!" I can Adam," in 1907, he wrote: “I have hear him purr at any backbiting read Schopenhauer, and Weininger, among his friends. Woman, weighed and all the German misogynists, and by his biological judgment, repre- still I love you. Such is my chemism sented the eternal enemy, and he liked our chemism, rather.” He showed the line:
an actual reverence for the woman
who “informed” her beauty or, better, Her narrow feet are rooted in the ground, her lack of beauty, who waged inces
sant warfare upon her imperfections, from Arthur Symons's “The Dance of who wrought excellently with the mathe Daughters of Herodias." Yet this terial at her hand. very belief, not always voiced without Jack owned to annoyance that the contempt, must have given rise to his public denied he could write convincpronouncement in “John Barleycorn,” ingly about women. “And yet,” he “Women are the true conservators of would say, “I know them too well to the race.
write too well about them. I'd never He spoke of woman as “the immod- get past the editor and the censor."
He never could understand; in the long $ 3
years of our brimming life, why I could And so I became conversant with not give more time to music, since he, that "swarm of vibrating atoms" too, loved it so. I learned the elowhich men knew as Jack London, the quence of his tongue, the fine arroyouthful literary craftsman who had, gance of his certitudes; his convictions as one critic put it, "lived with storms I came to respect for their broad wisand spaces and sunlight like a kins- dom; and I knew, too, and richly, the man.” That was it; the dominant eloquence of his silences in the starry note of him was spaciousness, for the moments that come to those who loved inflowing and out-giving of all avail- as we loved, and, loving, understand able knowledge and feeling, the blood mutely. More than once Jack has of adventure, physical and mental, broken a comprehending pause, or scorching through life's channels. . even interrupted speech to say to me “Visualization is everything for the the dearest and finest of all his salutateacher," he said, “and I love to teach, tions in my thrilling ears: to transmit to others the ideas and im- "My very own twin brother!" pressions in my own consciousness." One thing in that earlier association
And it always seemed to me, observ- with Jack was almost uncanny: he ing, that while others were merely never seemed to fail of my high expecscratching the surface of events, Jack tation. Tremulous, I all but expected was getting underneath them, deeper him to fail of making good to my ideal and deeper into their significances. in this or that small, fine particular.
Religion, as the average man knows But in vain; usually he surpassed the religion, had no part in him. Spirit- tentative demand I made upon his ualism had been the belief in his child- quality. His own failings he had, to hood homes, a thing of magic and be sure, but they were not those ordifearsomeness; but his expanding per- narily suspected of lesser men. ceptions could not countenance that The frankness which we continued belief. His hope for bettering human to practise and exalt made our relationconditions had filled depths of being ship, through thick and thin, a gorwhich might have responded to divine geous achievement. So I walked philosophy. As he had written to softly that spring and summer and fall, Anna Strunsky, “Somehow, we must dedicated to discern with my own ever build upon the concrete.” Now soul's best all of him that was possible, his oft-repeated criticism rings in the that I might enlarge and fix this kinears of memory: "Will it work? Will ship forever and forever. Upon one you trust your life to it?"
star I was intent: never must our love To the exclusion of all else, I now and its expression sink into commondevoted myself to mastering the open place, but must be kept from out "the book that he tried to render himself to ruck of casual and transitory things.” me. Even the piano was silent except And this was Jack's reply: when I played for Jack, and the trips "Commonplaceness shall have no to Berkeley with my music-roll became part with us unless I myself should less frequent and eventually ceased, I become commonplace, and I think that will say to his unqualified disapproval. can never be."
And Jack London learned his wom- in the babble. It ruins one's listenan, playing her game as she tried to ing faculties." play his. With his broad sympathies, Critics then, as now, were prone to to his own peculiar interests he sub- despatch the subject of Jack London's joined mine; and I, in return, widened personality with words like "primimy focus to include hobbies for which tive," "uncouth," "brutal.” He saw I had theretofore had no caring, thus the primitiveness in all life, in himself, creating fresh interests for my own as he saw everything else, and made all sphere. Jack, for example, loved things come under the empery of his keenly a good card game. I had little thought and written language; but he use for cards, but I applied myself, to did not live primitively, inasmuch as he the end that before long I could play was of a delicate, complex, and withal a fair game of whist or cribbage or simple nature. Robustness of body pinochle. And when Jack found that and mind offset, almost contradicted, certain stern methods of instruction that sensitiveness to impressions, that distressed and stood in the way of reaction to beauty of every sort,quick absorption on my part, in all though more particularly intellectual gentleness he went right about in his beauty,—and to sympathy from others lifelong tactics, exhibiting due appre in his mood, his aims; and his shrinkciation of the increasing harmony that ing from hurt, although only from the prevailed in his life. He had until then very, very few. rather prided himself upon an ability Jack's writing, his thousand words to shake knowledge into others, and I a day, was done in a little workroom credited him with altering his way to established in the two-room cottage, favor me.
quite without any of that work fever
often necessary to writers. And when$ 4
soever art conflicted with substance, Another thing came to me for my he invariably maintained: “I will sacsoul's good and Jack's multiplied con- rifice form every time when it boils tent—that I sinned against the Holy down to a final question of choice beGhost if I should interrupt him in the tween form and matter. The thought development of a spoken thought. If is the thing.” As some one has said, so interrupted, “the flight that mid- “He cared little for writing and a great most broke” was never resumed and deal for what he was writing about.” completed. Brain and artistry were Here is further expression of his unoutraged and wounded, and the result relenting realism, his “brass-tack" was a distinct loss to myself.
reality, although it seems to me, all “There's the one moment for every- having been said, that his materialism thing, and it never will come again, my incarnated his idealism, and his idealdear," he illustrated; but he would not ism consecrated and transfigured his go on. “I despise gabbly women," he materialism. would say. “They all talk at once, and "I no more believe in the art for somehow do seem to get one another; art's sake theory than I believe that a but the effect upon me is pandemo- human and a humane motive justifies nium, madness. I like you least when the inartistic telling of a story. I beyou are with a lot of women and join lieve there are saints in slime as well as
saints in heaven, and it depends how mine. Among other things, this taught the slime saints are treated-upon me to know the brain of my reader, in their environment—as to whether they order to select the symbols that would will ever leave the slime or not. People compel his brain to realize my thought find fault with me for my 'disgusting or vision or emotion. Also, I learned realism.' Life is full of disgusting that the right symbols were the ones realism. I know men and women as that would require the expenditure of they are, millions of them yet in the the minimum of my reader's brain slime state. But I am an evolutionist; energy, leaving the maximum of his therefore a broad optimist. Hence my brain energy to realize and enjoy the love for the human, in the slime though content of my mind as conveyed to his he be, comes from my knowing him as mind.” But he added, “In my grownhe is and seeing the divine possibilities up years the writers who have influahead of him. That's the whole mo- enced me most are Karl Marx in a tive of my 'White Fang.' Every atom particular, and Spencer in a general, of organic life is plastic. The finest way." specimens now in existence were once all pulpy infants capable of being molded this way or that. Let the pres- The pleasurable course of our comsure be one way, and we have atavism, panionship had its normal interrupthe reversion to the wild; the other, tions. I had to become familiar with the domestication, civilization. I have his man humors. His immoderate always been impressed with the awful smoking was a trial; but after once plasticity of life, and I feel that I can broaching the subject and finding it a never lay enough stress upon the tender one with him, I dropped all marvelous power and influence of reference to the matter. Though he environment.
admired frankness and courage, the "No work in the world is so absorb- pettish side that women know of the ing to me as the people of the world. biggest men, where their personal I care more for personalities than for comforts are in question, prevented my work or art.”
courage from demanding what I had And he always stuck to it that confidently hoped would be its meed. Herbert Spencer's “Philosophy of I should have known better; but, then, Style” helped him more in his youth I was learning. At no time did I ever than any other book-save Ouida's hear him advise against smoking, yet “Signa," his initial impetus—to success he promised his nephew, Irving Shepin literature.
ard, a thousand dollars if he would “It taught me,” he said, “the subtle refrain from smoking until he was and manifold operations necessary to twenty-one. transmute thought, beauty, sensation, Long, hot afternoons of type-writer and emotion into black symbols on dictation under the trees sometimes white paper; which symbols, through got on our mutual touchy nerves, and the reader's eye, were taken into his we became cognizant of still more of brain, and by his brain transmuted each other's peculiar caprices. Or into thought, beauty, sensation, and suddenly, not yet versed in his "brassemotion that fairly corresponded with tack” reasoning, his "arithmetic,” I
might quite unwittingly start disputes He loved argument, but his arguing in which I had no chance against the was always impersonal. I think the assault of his logic, and would struggle following letter to his friend, Blanche with nerves that urged me to weep in Partington, written in 1911, after a sheer feminine bafflement, hating my- warm discussion
Christian self the more heartily. But always Science generally and Christ's tempbefore me rose an honest warning with tation in the wilderness in particular, which Jack had forearmed me.
is of value as an illustration of this “One thing I want to tell you for characteristic. your own good and our happiness together. I do not think you are a hys- Dear Blanche:terical woman. But don't ever have Bless you for taking me just as I am, hysterics with me. You may think and for not implying one iota more to me I am hard. Maybe I am; but very
than what I stand for. earliest in my environment, in the
I am, as you must have divined ere
this, a fool truthseeker with a nerve of very molding of the tender thing I was,
logic exposed and raw and screaming. I came to recoil from hysteria-all the
Perhaps, it is my particular form of bestiality of uncontrol and its phenom- insanity. ena. And in my manhood I have seen
I grope in the mud of common facts. tears and hysteria and false fainting I fight like a wolf and a hyena. And I spells, all the unlovely futility of that don't mean a bit more, or less, than I sort of thing that gets a woman less say. That is, I am wholly concerned than nothing from me.
with the problem I am wildly discussing never, I pray, if you love me, show
for the moment. yourself hysterical. I promise you I
The problem of the "language of the shall be cold, hard, even curious.
tribe," I fear me, is more profound than
you apprehend-also more disconcertAnd I will admit, in your case, that I
ing than you may imagine for the ones should be hurt as well. But remember
who attempt to talk in the lingo of two always, this coldness is not deliberate
different worlds at one and the same of me; it 's become second nature, a time. warp. I cannot help shrinking from
Affectionately thine, hysteria as from unforgotten blows.
JACK LONDON. Once, when I was about three,--and this is burned into me with a hot iron, Sometimes, when he had been -flower in hand for a gift, I was shockingly literal in language of interbrushed aside, kicked over, by an pretation in one field or another, with angry, rebellious woman striding on blazing, unrepentant eyes he would her ego-maniacal way. Well, I made lash out: an unhappy mouth and went on my “Am I right? You don't answer. own puzzled, dazed path, dimly Am I right? If not, show me where I wounded, non-understanding. And
am wrong. I must be shown." that woman I believed the most won- The intense effort required to derful woman in the world, for she had
"show" where I thought him wrong said so herself. So this and other would keep me awake morning, noon, hysterical scenes have seared me, and and night, more especially since I I cannot help myself."
nearly always had to own to myself,