Puslapio vaizdai
[ocr errors]


THE LITTLE BAT-LIKE BEAST: I hear there is to be a grand procession


to-morrow. Are you going?" DIPLODOCUS:

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

"Am I going? Why, I am the procession."

THE STEGOSAURUS, to his friends, who have been complimenting him on his striking appearance: 'Despite all you say, I am not to be envied. Alas! I find it almost impossible to lead that life of obscurity and peaceful retirement which I have always ardently desired."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The Foreign Loans


HERE might have been no war if

mats could have foreseen how great and permanent would be the material gains in America from the waste in Europe.

The new conditions have transferred across the Atlantic an enormous amount of wealth, and rapidly created in the United States enough surplus capital to place its bankers in the forefront of the world's international money-lenders.

Since the autumn of 1914 loans aggregating nearly seventeen hundred million dollars have been negotiated here by European governments, syndicates of bankers, Latin-American countries, the Dominion of Canada, and a number of its provinces and municipalities. These loans were made in various forms; on secured and unsecured bonds, special credits, and short-term notes. A few were current less than one year, but the usual terms were from one to five years, excepting several issues of municipal bonds.

The largest debtor is the United Kingdom, with France a close second, followed, in the order of indebtedness, by Canada, Russia, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Yucatan, Norway, Greece, Chile, Sweden, Panama, Bolivia, and Uruguay.

A broad public market for foreign securities has not yet developed here, but a certain volume of trading is carried on, and prices of the leading issues are published daily. It is probable that in time. the flotation of foreign loans will become a matter of course, and then underwriters will reach a larger market among private investors. Great blocks of Anglo-French bonds were taken by two industrial corporations engaged in the manufacture of war-supplies. One of these companies originated an able policy by distributing the bonds to shareholders in lieu of cash dividends.

Probably not more than two thirds of the whole seventeen hundred millions was outstanding at any one time, as a number of the shorter loans have already been liquidated. Ninety per cent. of the amount current will mature and likely require long-term refunding within the next five years.

In nearly every case where loans were granted to neutral borrowers they had turned to this market for the reason that old connections in Europe were no longer in a position to supply the need. The time was most opportune for America; with its new banking system, greatly increased fluid capital, and expanding industries, at least temporary leadership in exports and foreign loans was easily assumed. These terms are almost synonymous, for it is the common experience of all creditor nations that borrowers coming from other countries want goods, not money. If the goods are not produced in the country to which the borrower applies, but must be purchased in a third country, the problem is the same, with an additional angle. The source of foreign loans is always traceable to exports of goods, no matter how indirect and unrelated transactions may appear. This elementary fact is very clearly illustrated by statistics of American banking and exports for the last two years. A glance at these will show a great foreign loan account built up without sending money abroad. Late in 1914, before any of the seventeen hundred millions had been loaned, the gold holdings in the United States amounted to $1,835,000,000. Now, after making the loans, besides paying several billions for things imported and buying back American securities, the gold stock stands at $2,548,000,000, or an increase of more than seven hundred million dollars. Had the loans been made in money, virtually no gold would be left in the country. On the

[ocr errors]

the assurance with a smile. What! Louis! so simple, kindly, natural; so all-round a good fellow; so like all the rest of us, only nicer!

And I am quite sure that in his inmost heart at this period he could never really have looked forward to or expected the fame which later came to him, and which grows and expands as time gives us the perspective wherewith to view it in all its roundness and bigness and essential simplicity. In fact, in introducing himself to me, he remarked simply that he was writer-chap," or hoped to be one.


I was told of another rainy afternoon "blague party," at which I did not chance to be present, during which Bob Stevenson amused himself by forecasting the future careers of those present. When he came to his cousin he remarked with a satirical little smile: "There sits Louis, as smug and complacent as any old type de bourgeois. I have not the least doubt that he fondly imagines that one of these days they will be publishing all of his dinky, private correspondence-'the letters of R. L. S.'-in boards." And Louis joined as heartily as any one in the laugh which the sally raised. Bob, at least, did live to see the publication of the "Vailima Letters," and I have often wondered if he remembered this little incident as he thumbed their leaves.


But I would not give the impression that the artist colony of Grez during that memorable summer was wholly masculine in its make-up, for this was far indeed. from being the case, and most of the unforgetable dramatic quality of the place and the time would have been lacking but for the presence of a very fair proportion of the female element. There was a certain return to primitive standards in the relation between the sexes, but primitive standards, nevertheless, in which honor and a regard for the square deal held a high place. In matters of morals Stevenson himself was the least censorious of judges, providing there was no infringement of the law of nature or the law of friendship; though perhaps it would be truer to say that he entered no judgment

either for or against the accused, preferring to leave the decision in such matters to the Maker of all laws.

But if he heard of anything mean or underhand, any tricky blow beneath the belt, he was a very firebrand, flaming with a fury which nothing could quell. I remember one case in which he forced two very unwilling opponents to accept a duel as the only possible solution of an entanglement involving an unmanly act on the part of one of the pair. Fortunately the duel was never fought, the chief offender considering discretion the better part of valor and deciding that the woods. about Barbison at that particular season of the year offered better material for the painter than the river at Grez.

I would not, however, by any means have it understood that there was in the colony no sense of decency or morality in the ordinary acceptance of those terms, for that would be a misstatement as manifestly unfair and untrue as to claim a standard of rigid puritanism for the whole region. If there was a fair sprinkling of the grisette and the model element, which had followed the painters down from Paris, there were also a certain number of very serious women-painters who were studying hard, and some of whom were destined to make an enviable place for themselves later on. Among these I may mention Mlles. Loestadt and Lilienthal, Swedish painters of genuine talent, and more particularly the lady "Trusty, dusky, vivid, and true" to whom Robert Louis Stevenson inscribed the most beautiful love-song of our time, and who later on was destined to become his wife. Mrs. Osbourne could not at the time have been more than thirty-five years of age, a grave and remarkable type of womanhood, with eyes of a depth and a somber beauty which I have never seen equaled-eyes, nevertheless, that upon occasion could sparkle with humor and brim over with laughter. Yet upon the whole Mrs. Osbourne impressed me as first of all a woman of profound character and serious judgment, who could, if occasion called, have been the leader in some great movement. But she

belonged to the quattrocento rather than to the end of the nineteenth century. Had she been born a Medici, she would have held rank as one of the remarkable women of all time.

mer. The latter, then a bewitching girl
of seventeen, later became widely known
as Mrs. Strong, Stevenson's amanuensis.
and biographer.

That she was a woman of intellectual attainments is proved by the fact that she was already a magazine writer of recognized ability, and that at the moment when Stevenson first came into her life she was making a living for herself and her two children with her pen. But this, after all, is a more or less ordinary accomplishment, and Mrs. Osbourne was in no sense ordinary. Indeed, she was gifted with a mysterious sort of over-intelligence which is almost impossible to describe, but which impressed itself upon every one who came within the radius of her influence. Napoleon had much of this; likewise his arch-enemy the great Duke of Wellington; and among women Catharine of Russia and perhaps Elizabeth of England. She was therefore both physically and mentally the very antithesis of the gay, hilarious, open-minded, and open-hearted. Stevenson, and for that very reason, perhaps, the woman in all the world best fitted to be his life-comrade and helpmate. At any rate, we may well ask ourselves if anywhere else he would have found the kind of understanding and devotion which she gave him from the day of their first meeting at Grez until the day of his death in far-away Samoa; if anywhere else there was a woman of equal attainments who would willingly, nay, gladly, throw aside all of the pleasures and comforts of civilization to live among savages, and the still rougher whites of the South Pacific, in order that her husband might have just a little more oxygen for his failing lungs, a little more chance for a respite and an extension of his shortening years? Probably no one ever better deserved than she the noble tribute of verse which her husband gave her, and from which I have quoted the opening line.

Both she and her daughter Isobel had been studying art in Paris through the winter, and had joined the regular AngloSaxon migration to Grez in the early sum

The last time that I ever saw Stevenson
was a year or two later and in semi-tragic
circumstances. The Osbournes had re-
turned to their native California, whither
Stevenson had journeyed some little time
later as "An Amateur Immigrant," and
where he had lived for a space as "The
Silverado Squatter." In the early spring
of the following year, however, he and
Mrs. Stevenson returned once more to
their old haunts about the forest of Fon-
tainebleau. In the meantime I had been
to Italy, whence I had just brought back
to Paris the usual six-by-ten-foot Salon
canvas. Having seen this precious work
of art duly delivered at the doors of the
Palais de l'Industrie, I hastened to join
the gay and care-free cavalcade which at
that season always makes for the woods,
generally toward Barbison or Fontaine-
bleau. This time our own band of half
a dozen, including my brother Alexander
Harrison, the marine-painter, and Ruger
Donoho, the landscape-man, were headed
for Barbison and the Pension Siron, where
we arrived late one evening, only to be in-
formed that all sleeping accommodations.
were taken, and that the best we might
expect was a row of cots in the bare loft
of the annex, on the opposite side of the
village street. This was no hardship, how-
ever, and as an excellent late souper was
soon steaming on the table, we accepted
the situation gaily enough, smoking a pipe
after supper in the still aisles of the forest
before retiring for the night.


It was only at the earliest peep of dawn that the disadvantages of our communal sleeping-apartment became apparent. One of our party woke between three and four o'clock A.M., and, after lying with open eyes for half an hour or so, decided that this sort of thing was not fair play. Whereupon he rose silently, seized a pillow, and moving from cot to cot, delivered to the occupant of each an impartial and sounding thwack.

Instantly there was pandemonium in

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

that attic, and a pillow-fight of unusual proportions immediately developed. As is usual on such occasions, sides were soon formed, and one side quickly demonstrated its superiority over the other, the defeated. party being driven gradually down three flights of stairs, and up the village street from end to end. Finally, overcome with laughter and with the unwontedly early exercise, the combatants called a truce, and returned amicably to their night's quarters in search of more ample raiment, for the early morning air from the forest was chill, and nightgowns and pajamas afforded but meager protection. Having clothed ourselves at leisure we strolled across the street to the common salle à manger for the matutinal rolls and coffee. The first man whom I met in the courtyard was Stevenson, who, I thought, looked rather hollow-eyed and weary. It appeared that he and Mrs. Stevenson had passed the night in the chamber directly

beneath the one occupied by our hilarious. band. The early morning bombardment to which they had been subjected can therefore be readily imagined.

"I had forgotten, Harrison," he said, with a wan smile, "that we were ever such reptiles."

With the unfailing instinct of the true artist Stevenson made a mental note of this incident, and he used it later in one of the most interesting chapters of "The Wrecker."

The duration of the Stevensons' stay in France during this, their last visit to the Old World, was comparatively short, and before many weeks they had returned once more to San Francisco, and thence to the South Seas and Samoa. Some years later chance sent me also to the South Pacific, but several attempts to arrange a meeting were unsuccessful. The Fates were against me, and I never saw Stevenson again.

[graphic][merged small]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »