Puslapio vaizdai

Among the first thousand men of science in America the Irish are only a fourth as well represented as the Germans, a fifteenth as well as the English and Canadians, and a twentieth as well as the Scotch. This backwardness is in part due to the overhang of bad conditions; and the compilers of the table very properly suggest that "the native-born sons of Irishborn parents may not be inferior in scientific productivity to other classes of the community." The same comment may be made on the fact that of the persons listed in "Who's Who in America," two per cent. were German-born, another two per cent. were English-born, but only one per cent. came from the land of Erin.


No doubt the peaks of Celtic superiority are poetry and eloquence. Their gifts of emotion and imagination give the Irish the key to human hearts. They are eloquent for the same reason that they are poor technicians and investigators, for the typical Celt sees things not as they really are, but as they are to him.

The Irishman still follows authority and shows little tendency to think for himself. In philosophy and science he is far behind. Even when well-educated, he leans on conventional ideas. Unlike the educated German or Jew, he rarely ventures to dissect the ideas of parental authority, the position of woman, property, success, competition, individual liberty, etc., that lie at the base of commonplace thought. Here, again, this limitation by sentiment and authority derives doubtless from the social history of the Irish rather than from their blood. They have been engrossed with an old-fashioned problem -that of freeing their country. Meanwhile, the luckier peoples have swept on to ripen their thinking about class relations, industrial organization, and social institutions.


WITH his Celtic imagination as a magic glass, the Irishman sees into the human heart and learns how to touch its strings. No one can wheedle like an Irish beggar or "blarney" like an Irish ward boss. Not only do the Irish furnish stirring orators, persuasive stump-speakers, moving plead

ers, and delightful after-dinner speechmakers, but they give us good salesmen and successful traveling-men. Then, too, they know how to manage people. The Irish contractor is a great figure in construction work. The Irish mine "boss" or section foreman has the knack of handling men. The Irish politician is an adept in "lining-up" voters of other nationalities. More Germans than Irish enlisted in the Union armies, but more of the Irish rose to be officers. In the great corporations, Americans control policy and finance, Germans are used in technical work, and Irishmen are found in executive positions. The Irish are well to the fore in organizing labor and in leading athletics. "Of two applicants," says a city school superintendent, "I take the teacher with an Irish name, because she will have less trouble in discipline, and hits it off better with the parents and the neighborhood."

Whatever is in the Irish mind is available on the instant, so that the Irish rarely fail to do themselves justice. They keep their best foot forward, and if they fall, they light on their feet. They succeed as lawyers not only because they can play upon the jury, but because they are quick in thrust and parry. They abound in newspaper offices because their imagination enables them to keep "in touch" with the public mind. The Irishman rarely attains the thorough knowledge of the German physician; but he makes his mark as surgeon, because he is quick to perceive and to decide when the knife discloses a grave, unsuspected condition.

The Irishman accepts the Erse proverb, "Contention is better than loneliness." "His nature goes out to the other fellow all the time," declares a wise priest. The lodge meeting of a Hibernian benevolent association is a revelation of kindness and delicacy of feeling in rough, toil-worn


A great criminal lawyer tells me that if he has a desperate case to defend, he keeps the cold-blooded Swede off the jury and gets an Irishman on, especially one who has been "in trouble." "If you want money to advance a principle," says an observer, "go among the Scandinavians; if you want money to relieve suffering, go among the Irish." Bridget becomes attached to the family she serves, and, after she is married, calls again and

again "to see how the childher are coming on." Freda, after years of service, will leave you offhand and never evince the remotest interest in your family. The Irish detest the merit system, for they make politics a matter of friendship and favor. They warm to a reform movement only when it becomes a fight on law-breakers. Then the Hibernian district attorney goes after the "higher-ups" like a St. George. When the Irish do renounce machine politics, they become broad democrats rather than "good government" men.

Imaginative, and sensitive to what others think of him, the Celt is greatly affected by praise and criticism. Unlike the Teuton, he cannot plod patiently toward a distant goal without an appreciative word or glance. He does his best when he is paced, for emulation is his sharpest stimulus. The grand stand has something to do with the Irish bent for athletic contests. Irish school-children love the limelight, and distinguish themselves better on the platform than in the classroom. Irish teachers with good records in the training-school are less likely than other teachers to improve themselves by private study.

"The Irish are wilder than the rest in their expression of grief," observes the visiting nurse, "but they don't 'take on' for long." The Irishman is less persistent than others in keeping up the premiums on his insurance policy, the payments on his

building-and-loan-association stock. He is quick to throw up his job or change his place in order to avoid sameness. "My will is strong," I heard a bright-eyed Kathleen say, "but it keeps changing its object; Gunda [her Norwegian friend] is so determined and fixed in purpose!" There is a proverb, "The Irishman is no good till he is kicked," meaning that he is unstable till his blood is up. Once his fighting spirit is roused, he proves to be a "last ditcher." As a soldier, he is better in charge than in defense, and if held back, he frets himself to exhaustion.

A professor compares his Celtic students to the game trout, which makes one splendid dash for the fly, but sulks if he misses it. A bishop told me how his prizeman, an Irish youth sent to Paris to study Hebrew, was amazed at the prodigious industry of his German and Polish chums. "I never knew before," he wrote, "what study is.' A settlement worker comments on the avidity with which night-school pupils in Irish neighborhoods select classes with interesting subjects of instruction, and the rapidity with which they drop off when the "dead grind" begins. Their temperament rebels at close, continuous application. The craftsman of Irish blood is likely to be a little slapdash in method, and he rarely stands near the top of his trade in skill. The Irishman succeeds best in staple farming-all wheat, all cotton, or all beets. With the advent of diversified farming, he is supplanted by the painstaking German, Scandinavian, or Pole. Work requiring close attention to details-like that of the nurseryman, the florist, or the breeder-falls into the hands of a more patient type. In banking and finance, men of a colder blood control.


THE word "brilliant" is oftener used for the Irish than for any other aliens among us save the Hebrews. Yet those of Irish blood are far from manning their share of the responsible posts in American society. Their contribution by no means matches that of an equal number of the old American breed. But, in sooth, it is too soon yet to expect the Irish strain to show what it can do. it can do. Despite their schooling, the children of the immigrant from Ireland often become infected with the parental slackness, unthrift, and irresponsibility. They in turn communicate some of the heritage to their children; so that we shall have to wait until the fourth generation before we shall learn how the Hibernian stock compares in value with stocks that have had a happier social history.




N' de nex' frawg dat houn' pup seen, he pass him by wide." The house, which had hung upon every word, roared with laughter, and shook with a storming volley of applause. Gideon bowed to right and to left, low, grinning, assured comedy obeisances; but as the laughter and applause grew, he shook his head, and signaled quietly for the drop. He had answered many encores, and he was an instinctive artist. It was part of the fuel of his vanity that his audience had never yet had enough of him. Dramatic judgment, as well as dramatic sense of delivery, was native to him, qualities which the shrewd Felix Stuhk, his manager and exultant discoverer, recognized and wisely trusted in. Off stage Gideon was watched over like a child and a delicate investment, but once behind the footlights, he was allowed to go his own triumphant gait.

It was small wonder that Stuhk deemed himself one of the cleverest managers in the business; that his narrow, blue-shaven face was continually chiseled in smiles of complacent self-congratulation. He was rapidly becoming rich, and there were bright prospects of even greater triumphs, with proportionately greater reward. He had made Gideon a national character, a head-liner, a star of the first magnitude in the firmament of the vaudeville theater, and all in six short months. Or, at any rate, he had helped to make him all this; he had booked him well and given him his opportunity. To be sure, Gideon had done the rest; Stuhk was as ready as any one to do credit to Gideon's ability. Still, after all, he, Stuhk, was the discoverer, the theatrical Columbus who had had the courage and the vision.

A now-hallowed attack of tonsillitis had driven him to Florida, where presently Gideon had been employed to beguile his convalescence, and guide him over the intricate shallows of that long lagoon known as the Indian River in search of various fish. On days when fish had been reluctant, Gideon had been lured into conver

sation, and gradually into narrative and the relation of what had appeared to Gideon as humorous and entertaining; and finally Felix, the vague idea growing big within him, had one day persuaded his boatman to dance upon the boards of a long pier where they had made fast for lunch. There, with all the sudden glory of crystallization, the vague idea took definite form and became the great inspiration of Stuhk's career.

Gideon had grown to be to vaudeville much what Uncle Remus is to literature: there was virtue in his very simplicity. His artistry itself was native and natural. He loved a good story, and he told it from his own sense of the gleeful morsel upon his tongue as no training could have made him. He always enjoyed his story and himself in the telling. Tales never lost their savor, no matter how often repeated; age was powerless to dim the humor of the thing, and as he had shouted and gurgled and laughed over the fun of things when all alone, or holding forth among the men and women and little children of his color, so he shouted and gurgled and broke from sonorous chuckles to musical, falsetto mirth when he fronted the sweeping tiers of faces across the intoxicating glare of the footlights. He had that rare power of transmitting something of his own enjoyments. When Gideon was on the stage, Stuhk used to enjoy peeping out at the intent, smiling faces of the audience, where men and women and children, hardened theater-goers and folk fresh from the country, sat with moving lips and faces lit with an eager interest and sympathy for the black man strutting in loose-footed vivacity before them.

"He 's simply unique," he boasted to wondering local managers—“unique, and it took me to find him. There he was, a little black gold-mine, and all of 'em passed him by until I came. Some eye? What? I guess you 'll admit you have to hand it some to your Uncle Felix. If that coon's health holds out, we 'll have all the money there is in the mint."

That was Felix's real anxiety-"If his health holds out." Gideon's health was watched over as if he had been an ailing prince. His bubbling vivacity was the foundation upon which his charm and his success were built. Stuhk became a sort of vicarious neurotic, eternally searching for symptoms in his protégé; Gideon's tongue, Gideon's liver, Gideon's heart were matters to him of an unfailing and anxious interest. And of late- of course it might be imagination-Gideon had shown a little physical falling off. He ate a bit less, he had begun to move in a restless way, and, worst of all, he laughed less frequently.

As a matter of fact, there was ground for Stuhk's apprehension. It was not all a matter of managerial imagination: Gideon was less himself. Physically there Physically there was nothing the matter with him; he could have passed his rigid insurance scrutiny as easily as he had done months before, when his life and health had been insured for a sum that made good copy for his press-agent. He was sound in every organ, but there was something lacking in general tone. Gideon felt it himself, and was certain that a "misery," that embracing indisposition of his race, was creeping upon him. He had been fed well, too well; he was growing rich, too rich; he had all the praise, all the flattery that his enormous appetite for approval desired, and too much of it. White men sought him out and made much of him; white women talked to him about his career; and wherever he went, women of color-black girls, brown girls, yellow girls-wrote him of their admiration, whispered, when he would listen, of their passion and hero-worship. "City niggers" bowed down before him; the high gallery was always packed with them. Muskscented notes scrawled upon barbaric, "high-toned" stationery poured in upon him. Even a few white women, to his horror and embarrassment, had written him of love, letters which he straightway destroyed. His sense of his position was strong in him; he was proud of it. There might be "folks outer their haids," but he had the sense to remember. For months he had lived in a heaven of gratified vanity, but at last his appetite had begun to falter. He was sated; his soul longed to wipe a spiritual mouth on the back of a

spiritual hand, and have done. His face, now that the curtain was down and he was leaving the stage, was doleful, almost sullen.

Stuhk met him anxiously in the wings, and walked with him to his dressing-room. He felt suddenly very weary of Stuhk. "Nothing the matter, Gideon, is there? Not feeling sick or anything?" "No, Misteh Stuhk; no, seh. Jes don' feel extry pert, that 's all." "But what is it-anything bothering you?"

Gideon sat gloomily before his mirror. "Misteh Stuhk," he said at last, "I been steddyin' it oveh, and I about come to the delusion that I needs a good po'kchop. Seems foolish, I know, but it do' as if a good po'k-chop, fried jes right, would he'p consid'able to disumpate this misery feelin' that 's crawlin' and creepin' round my sperit."


Stuhk laughed.

"Pork-chop, eh? Is that the best you can think of? I know what you mean, though. I've thought for some time that you were getting a little overtrained. What you need is-let me see-yes, a nice bottle of wine. That 's the ticket; it will ease things up and won't do you any harm. I'll go with you. Ever had any champagne, Gideon?"

Gideon struggled for politeness.

"Yes, seh, I 's had champagne, and it 's a nice kind of lickeh sho enough; but, Misteh Stuhk, seh, I don' want any of them high-tone' drinks to-night, an' ef yo' don' mind, I'd rather amble off 'lone, or mebbe eat that po'k-chop with some otheh cullud man, ef I kin fin' one that ain' one of them no-'count Carolina niggers. Do you s'pose yo' could let me have a little money to-night, Misteh Stuhk?”

Stuhk thought rapidly. Gideon had certainly worked hard, and he was not dissipated. If he wanted to roam the town by himself, there was no harm in it. The sullenness still showed in the black face; Heaven knew what he might do if he suddenly began to balk. Stuhk thought it wise to consent gracefully.

"Good!" he said. "Fly to it. How much do you want? A hundred?" "How much is coming to me?" "About a thousand, Gideon.” "Well, I'd moughty like five hun'red of it, ef that 's 'greeable to yo'."

Felix whistled.

"Five hundred? Pork-chops must be coming high. You don't want to carry all that money around, do you?"

Gideon did not answer; he looked very gloomy.

Stuhk hastened to cheer him.

"Of course you can have anything you want. Wait a minute, and I will get it for you.

"I'll bet that coon 's going to buy himself a ring or something." he reflected as he went in search of the local manager and Gideon's money.

But Stuhk was wrong. Gideon had no intention of buying himself a ring. For the matter of that, he had several that were amply satisfactory. They had size and sparkle and luster, all the diamond brilliance that rings need to have; and for none of them had he paid much over five dollars. He was amply supplied with jewelry in which he felt perfect satisfaction. His present want was positive, if nebulous he desired a fortune in his pocket, bulky, tangible evidence of his miraculous success. Ever since Stuhk had found him, life had had an unreal quality for him. His Monte Cristo wealth was too much like a fabulous, dream-found treasure, money that could not be spent without danger of awakening. And he had dropped into the habit of storing it about him, so that in any pocket into which he plunged his hand he might find a roll of crisp evidence of reality. He liked his bills to be of all denominations, and some so large as exquisitely to stagger imagination, others charming by their number and crispness, the dignified, orange paper of a man of assured position and wealth, crackling greenbacks the design of which tinged the whole with actuality. He was specially partial to engravings of President Lincoln, the particular savior and patron of his race. This five hundred dollars he was adding to an unreckoned sum of about two thousand, merely as extra fortification against a growing sense of gloom. He wished to brace his flagging spirits with the gay wine of possession, and he was glad, when the money came, that it was in an elasticbound roll, so bulky that it was pleasantly uncomfortable in his pocket as he left his manager.

As he turned into the brilliantly lighted

street from the somber alleyway of the stage entrance, he paused for a moment to glance at his own name, in three-foot letters of red, before the doors of the theater. He could read, and the large block type always pleased him. "THIS WEEK. GIDEON." That was all. None of the fulsome praise, the superlative, necessary definition given to lesser performers. He had been, he remembered, "GIDEON, America's Foremost Native Comedian," a title that was at once boast and challenge. That necessity was now past, for he was a national character; any explanatory qualification would have been an insult to the public intelligence. To the world he was just "Gideon"; that was enough. It gave him pleasure, as he sauntered along, to see the announcement repeated on window cards and hoardings.

Presently he came to a window before which he paused in delighted wonder. It was not a large window; to the casual eye of the passer-by there was little to draw attention. By day it lighted the fractional floor space of a little stationer, who supplemented a slim business by a subagency for railroad and steamship lines; but to-night this window seemed the framework of a marvel of coincidence. On the broad, dusty sill inside were propped two cards: the one on the left was his own red-lettered announcement for the week; the one at the right-oh, world of wonders!-was a photogravure of that exact stretch of the inner coast of Florida which Gideon knew best, which was home.

There it was, the Indian River, rippling idly in full sunlight, palmettos leaning over the water, palmettos standing as irregular sentries along the low, reef-like island which stretched away out of the picture. There was the gigantic, lonely pine he knew well, and, yes, he could just make it out,-there was his own ramshackle little pier, which stretched in undulating fashion, like a long-legged, wading caterpillar, from the abrupt shore-line of eroded coquina into deep water.

He thought at first that this picture of his home was some new and delicate device put forth by his press-agent. His name on one side of a window, his birthplace upon the other-what could be more tastefully appropriate? Therefore, as he spelled out the reading-matter beneath the

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