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the hourly dread of being pitied or snubbed in Pennver.
Though times were none of the best, Martin's experience found him a ready job, covering city and outlying suburbs for a local house of paper jobbers handling everything from scented stationery to butcher paper. His commissions were small at first, and several of his wife's gowns disappeared into the maw of a second-hand dealer. She deprecated the act with the assurance that she would not need them now. Nevertheless her husband knew that under any woman's skin the parting with dainty loveliness would hurt. The following Saturday noon he stopped at a little white candy kitchen on the avenue. When she glimpsed the unmistakable box under his arm, she gave an impulsive little girlish cry. Later he noticed George, Junior, with a lump of caramel in his cheek, regarding him with a degree of respect never quite attained before.
Their first pay barely met expenses. The mother of the household announced with traces of bridal resourcefulness that something would have to be done. Why not let George, Junior, help, at least for the summer? Martin nodded. He might be able to land the boy a job in the paper house at eight dollars a week. At the sound of eight dollars a week the eyes of the boy's mother gleamed.
George, Junior, himself was not averse to the idea. The romance and adventure of a daily job palled after a little, but he confided to his mother he "would rather work any day than lay around that hot apartment."
June grew steadily warmer. Now they knew why their apartment had been so fortunately found vacant. No other on their floor caught such a blast from the afternoon sun, and there were no awnings to shield. On the Fourth of July they packed a lunch and ate it by the goldfish pond in City Park. Their sense of appreciation, it seemed, had never been so keen, the shade of cool trees so grateful, the green freshness of grass such a miracle. They stayed until dark to see the fireworks. A shower deluged the trolley on the way home. The breeze felt like paradise when they got off at the corner. It was good to open the apartment windows and let through the fresh, rain-washed air.
Couldn't resist coming home a little early to celebrate. I sold two tons of super to a printer not four blocks from here, and eighteen reams of M. F. My commission alone's forty dollars. Boss was so tickled he gave it to me in cash."
"Forty dollars, George!" She retreated in excitement to the apartment and counted the four ten-dollar bills he placed in her hands. "We'll put it away at once toward the house!" She gave a little girlish cry of admiration. "How did you do it, George?"
"Oh, I talked up our paper like a Dutch preacher." His eyes shone. One arm imprisoned her. "What do you say to taking a run out in the country for a little vacation, Bess? I've been plugging pretty hard. So have you. It'll do us both good. Junior can go along."
She strove to resist the instant glow that had appeared in her eyes.
"I know it would be-heaven to get away. But the house-"
"Don't you be afraid of the house!" enthused her husband. "I promise you we'll be able to afford a little one by next summer. Waiting till then'll only make us appreciate it right. Besides," he added, "we can't very well get out of it now. I called Hopple up this afternoon, and he and his wife made me promise to bring you and Junior out. They didn't want to take anything, but I insisted on seven dollars a week. They've had blankets on their bed every night this week. He's going to start cutting oats about Friday. They've got four fresh Jersey cows and their garden's full of green peas and new potatoes."
"Oh, George!" weakly capitulated his wife.
"Maybe he'll knock off some board if George and I help him in the field," speculated Martin.
T had been a torrid day, and Junior looked washed out as he came in at five-thirty. Some interest appeared, however, when he found his father home before him, talking portentously to his mother over the supper stove.
"Well, kid!" greeted Martin. does a day like this strike you? How'd you like to run out to the farm with your mother and me?"
There was a skeptical stare from the youth.
"Your boss ought to leave you off if you call him up at the house to-night," suggested his father. "That is, if you want to drive horses, or chew tea leaves, or look for wild hens' nests-and maybe go in swimming."
The boy's tiredness magically vanished.
"Jiminy, dad! Where'd we get the coin?"
"I talked with Mrs. Hopple over the phone to-day," went on the father. "She said maybe she'd make fresh peach icecream."
"Gosh!" sputtered the boy. "Say, you call up Old Man Earl, will you, dad? Tell him I got to go-just got to! I'll
go along down to the drug-store and give you his number. Come on. Be a sport! Will you, dad?"
Martin did. Later, after supper, they gathered around the ironing-boardMother Martin actively to prepare, the useless male members of the household to talk of the morrow. Movies were forgotten. For nearly an hour Martin enlarged on his boyhood adventures on the farm. It was late when the bags were packed. The last thing Martin heard as he fell asleep was the sleepless voice of his son wanting to know if Kettle Creek was "over your head."
Seven-thirty the next morning the Martin family ensconced itself luxuriously on a pair of blue-plush seats in a day coach bound for Pennver. Junior sat ahead at an open window, hair and wash tie flying in the breeze. Frequently he turned to radiate on some passing sight. He need have no fear of his mother missing anything. Her window also was open, her shirt waist fluttering deliciously in the grateful draft. The fresh odors of midsummer fields and woods, the romantic spice of railway ties simmering in an August sun, came even as far as Martin, who sat beside her. Before them passed a vision of God's cool green hills dotted with hardy upland homesteads. The faint blue wall of a mountain stood far beyond.
FIVE priceless days in the fresh Eden
of Hopple Farm had already passed when Mr. Trine, the owner, drove up. After dinner the two old friends, Trine and Martin, sallied out for a walk to Big Sandy Spring. They had hardly reached the rear of the barn when the attorney turned to his companion with pent-up feeling.
"I want to take back that fool promise I made not to come up to Elverson to see you."
"What's the matter with you?" demanded Martin, with slow wrath hardly befitting his station. "You have my power of attorney, haven't you?"
"Your blamed Government bonds!" complained the other. "They touched par last week. I sold them, as you said, and the money's been lying in the bank at a measly three per cent."
"Three!" swallowed Martin. that's good. Just let it stay there-unless you know some place you can get two."
"Listen, George-" began the attorney. "Doggone it, Harry! The proposition was that you'd do the worrying over the money. That's what you're getting paid for."
"That's all right. I'm not complaining," hastened the lawyer. "I just want to give you my free honest opinion that it's over my head and ears when a man comes and pays seven dollars a week board on his own farm."
"I never knew it was criminal to be happy," asserted Martin, unmoved. "Maybe you are," granted Trine, re luctantly. "How about your wife? What
"Don't you worry about him,
Harry. I'm not any more myself. He's got a first-rate show now to be a man. God willing, he's going to get the rest of it." With a steady hand he lighted the cigar Trine had given him. "And the wife's going to get the finest little onewoman house in the suburbs you ever saw. She's crazy for it. So am I. Stick around till to-morrow, Harry, and I'll show you how a young man like me can pitch oats."
AMERICANIZATION GETS RUBBED OFF
not a few mirages) Europe-bound shipping at this time of the year offers interesting opportunities for study. Especially is this true of an Italian transatlantic liner, such as the one that brought us here from New York, with its long passenger list of Americani returning to their native land or on a pleasant tour of Italy; for these Americani are not at all secretive in their views and opinions, and whatever they have acquired of good or bad through transplantation to America is easily observable. It need hardly be said that such a ship-load is in no way an "immigrant cargo" presenting scenes of pathos; far from this, steerage and stateroom decks seemed to sparkle with an atmosphere of success and contentment.
Everywhere aboard the "language of the country" was "Newyorkese," the imperfections in English being due, not to alienage, but to a very rapid assimilation of the American tongue "as she is spoke." The clothes also, though they varied from Grand Street to Fifth Avenue cuts, were all indubitably of American make. Indeed, the Americanization had proceeded so far that one even heard an occasional request at breakfast for grapenuts and shredded wheat, and when an order for pancakes resulted in the presentation of an omelet practically the entire first-class laughed at the tenebrous ignorance of the ship's Sicilian cook. There was one Americano in the "swell set" who might have served as the perfect model of "Material Success" for a poster artist, so happily satisfied did he seem with his diamond-bespangled life and his cabinful of American trophies. Here was an illiterate but wealthy contractor on a triumphal tour of Italy, with well-laid plans to dazzle and jazz the little village of his birth by an exposition of all he carried from America. Each day he and his family donned new clothes; each day our eyes would rest on some new object of luxury taken out of Stateroom No. 1 (how he loved to have stateroom Number ONE!); one day a brand-new
BY GINO SPERANZA
phonograph with all the Caruso disks, and the next day an endless succession of the latest American song and jazz hits; or the new sun would rise on an impeccably perfect smoking set-the longest amber cigarette-holder on the American market, followed by a meerschaum pipe with a bowl to hold a thou sand dreams; and on every other daya little tentatively this, as if one were slowly training for "the grand manner"
the latest evidence of American success: large, round-rimmed glasses such as stare at us from the oculists' shop windows. Years ago the Italian resorted to gold teeth to prove at least to his countrymen-that he was completely Americanized; to-day the oculist's art supplants or co-operates with the dentist's in the decorative Americanization of the alien.
All this was evident on shipboard; all this, and much more; for there were many of the second and a few of the third generation with us, including high school boys who could play baseball but who had never heard of the game of pallone and high school girls from suburban towns rigged out in perfect similitude of the real New York flapper. And yet, after all is said, only a self-illuding optimist could be convinced by this Americanization. The substratum, the underlying personality, the real character of ninety-nine per cent of these Americani was distinctly Italic; more than that, it was individually Genoese, Sicilian, or Neapolitan, as the local strain might be, persisting, often unconsciously, from generation to generation, in outlook and manner of thought. Nature works slowly, though it occasionally jumps, and even the span of several generations of American environment is as but a moment in the process of assimilation. Environment makes surface changes, remarkable surface changes, but these are as nothing to the persistence of inherited racial and ethnic qualities and tendencies. This is the basic fact so often neglected by professional "Americanizers" who want "quick effects" from their labors. Take the matter of loyalty to America, for example; it would be hard to find such unassailable patriotism for the United
States as filled the hearts of the people on that ship, a patriotism almost overbearingly proud of everything American; yet indefinitely, or even darkly in the back of almost every mind there, the idea of the patria-that vague yet tremendously cohesive sentiment which binds large groups of men into nations and which constitutes the imponderable force of a well-knit state-the idea of the patria as an intellectual and historical patrimony in all of them was Italia, not America. This does not mean disloyalty or any lack of the sense of allegiance to the United States, but it confirms the unescapable fact of racial instinct which Americanization cannot overcome except, possibly, in decades of assimilative processes, if at all. "You are an American?" asked a New York born Italo-American of an old New Yorker who was on the same ship. And to an assenting reply came the further query: "But you are a real American, are you not?" And that, somehow and indefinably, made all the difference for the others on board. The old New Yorker, though a fellow-citizen, was at once, and almost instinctively, recognized as not "in the family;" as one who could not be counted on to always "understand," not even if the old New Yorker spoke Italian and knew Italy a hundredfold better than the high school boy born in Passaic of Genoese parents! Indeed, the New Yorker, however estimable and agreeable, was a "false note" in the ship's harmony, a restraining factor on the rest, who had hoped that, on an Italian ship at least, they could be "themselves again."
Among the other passengers there was a Sicilian family of the well-to-do agricultural class: silent, proud, and wellmannered in a fine primitiveness. The father was returning from a three years' visit to his Americani sons in Ohio; with him were a daughter in good American clothes, and her mother and a maiden aunt. I asked this proud, somewhat mediæval character his impressions of America. “Grande paese,” he said, adding ungrudgingly, despite his insular pride: "I really believe that in civilta' America is ahead of Sicily." The greatness of the country, its democ
racy, and especially the good will and courtesy of our people, had made a distinct impression upon him, even though he could not see why we were so crazy as to call neve "snow." Why, why call it snow, which meant nothing to him? But he was grateful, very grateful, for the opportunities which America had given his two sons; they were very successful out there in Ohio, they were men of property and position in the new land, and he understood why they would not come back to Italy with the family. "But," he added, slowly, as his dark, Moorish eyes looked out on the ocean as upon unescapable fate, "ritorneranno, certo ritorneranno; they will certainly come back." Yes, they all "come back," some perhaps only in spirit, but they all come back "to the race;" they all eventually cast off the new idols, and think in the old, old ways. And the old man gave me the history of his town, an ancient history of which he was proud. "My pacse was first called Aquila, but an earthquake destroyed it hundreds of years ago; over its ruins a new town was built, and this too was destroyed by an earthquake, all except a church where there were wonderful pictures of the nativity of the Virgin. But after this second earthquake a great prince who
lived in Palermo and was our feudal lord gave all his holdings in our part of the island to the people because he had an affection for them; and the prince's brother, who was a very learned monk, planned a new city, a marvelous plan such as had never been thought of before- a hexagonal city! And the people wished to call it the town of Michele, for that was the prince's name, but the monk, who was a holy man and saw visions, said: 'No, call it rather Gran Michele, for I know it will grow into a great city.' And the prophecy came to pass, for the town grew and grew, always in large hexagons, until now it counts all of thirty thousand souls." I asked if the people were happy. "Yes," he answered, gravely; "they are all well-to-do Americani, and own land, and have the best schools in Sicily, and eight churches, and good water."
I thought then, as I had so often thought before, whether Americanization of that kind-this schooling of the lives of those who come to us only to return-is not more worth while, and certainly more effective, than that highly artificial "Americanization" through the forced absorption of such aliens into our body politic by naturalization or into our body social through legislating them
into our standards of living. This latter form of Americanization is, even in the second generation, the thinnest of veneers, which rubs off under a very little wear and tear; it is a veneer which even when thoroughly worked in and highly polished, as in the case of our Germanic population, gets pretty badly cracked under severe knocks, as we have seen on some occasions during the war. It may be urged that the other kind of Americanization is too altruistic and too ideal for practical and political purposes. Yet it has created in certain parts of Europe, and notably in southern Italy, "spheres of American influence" such as no diplomacy under the old dispensation, and no mandate under the new, can ever hope to achieve. These returned immigrants, these ardent Americani, have made us known in Italy as no propaganda, no exchange professors, and no diplomatic "penetration" could have done. And it is the simple, direct, every-day human knowledge of our ways and of our views such as these immigrants bring home that constitute "understanding," that kind of human understanding which is the only basis for and the only real assurance of international peace.
A PLEA FOR THE PLATITUDE
T is greatly to be regretted that we do not know the name of the man who boldly declared that "Grover Cleveland was the greatest master of platitude since George Washington." It would be amusing to inquire whether he meant this for a compliment to Cleveland or for a reproof to Washington. It would be interesting to ask him also whether he was prepared to allow that a practical politician at the head of the commonwealth ought to be a master of platitude. If the unknown utterer of this pregnant saying was willing to admit this, he would find himself in the comfortable company of that shrewd student of affairs Walter Bagehot, who held that a statesman was likely to be most useful to the community when he combined common ideas and uncommon ability.
One of Cleveland's more recent successors in the Presidency of the United States was accused of talking about the Ten Commandments just as if he had received them as a direct personal revelation to himself. Now there is no deny ing that Theodore Roosevelt was wont to talk in this fashion. And why not? As a matter of fact, the Ten Commandments had come to him as a direct personal revelation; for so they must come to every one of us who is ready to receive them and to take them to heart. In the case of Roosevelt, as in the case of Washington and Cleveland, that
BY BRANDER MATTHEWS
which was foolishly meant as a reproof turns out to be really a compliment. There can be no more imperative duty for the chief of state in a democratic republic than to reiterate the eternal verities. It is his privilege also to profit by the megaphone which destiny has put at his lips to cry aloud these imperishable truths and thus to force them upon ears that might otherwise refuse to listen. It may be charged that when a leader of men is insistent in asserting again and again that honesty is the best policy he is lowering himself to the inculcation of the obvious. But if this is just what he believes to be needful at the moment, he has no right to shrink from saying once again what many have asserted before him. Stevenson hit the center when he suggested that, "after all, the commonplaces are the great poetic truths."
Perhaps there is small risk in declaring that we Americans have a lust for novel ideas; and we listen with jaded credulity to all who get up in the market-place to proclaim a new gospel. Yet we are all aware that what is new is not likely to be true and that what is true is very likely to be old. We all know this, and yet we are often impatient with those old fogies who abide by the ancient landmarks. We are prone to laugh at the mossbacks brave enough to risk the reproach brought against the katydid, which has the habit of saying
"an undisputed thing in such a solemn way." The undisputed things are always in danger of being neglected, and they need to be said afresh to every generation in the special vocabulary of that generation and with whatever of solemnity we can command. The wisdom of the fathers must be restated for the benefit of the children, and yet again for the guidance of the grandchildren.
Just as it is a certain evidence of juvenility to shriek out an accusation of plagiarism whenever two plays happen to have a casual resemblance of situation or whenever two poems chance to have a superficial identity of phrase or of cadence, so it is an assured sign of immaturity to sneer at the political leader who reasserts the principles which he deems permanent and essential for the common weal and to scoff at him as a dealer in platitudes and as an expounder of commonplaces. No commonplace can be staler than the plain statement that two and two make four: and yet on occasion there may be wisdom in reminding the public that two and two cannot be forced to make either more or less than four. "Commonplace," said Lord Morley (in words that sound almost like an echo of Stevenson's), "after all, is exactly what contains the truths which are indispensable."
The brief speech which Lincoln de ered at Gettysburg nearly sixty
ago is now accepted as one of the masterpieces of English prose, withstanding comparison with the address on a similar occasion that Thucydides put into the mouth of Pericles. It is as perfect in its lofty dignity of sentiment as it is in its lapidary concision of style. But there would be little difficulty in proving that it contains nothing new, since the thoughts that sustain it are as selfevident as they are sincere. They are the ancient thoughts which demanded to be voiced again then and there. The stones of this sublime structure are commonplaces, recognized as such long before Lincoln was born, long before Columbus set sail on the Western ocean. These well-worn blocks Lincoln chose for his own use with his unerring skill; and he cemented them together once again by his own personality.
Hamlet's soliloquy, "To be or not to be," is a mosaic of sentiments and of opinions familiar to every one of us from our youth up and already phrased in all sorts of fashions in every tongue, living or dead; nevertheless that monologue, compounded as it may be of commonplaces, bereft of all novelty, glows and burns with the inner fire of Hamlet's soul at that awful crisis of his fate. It propounds, once for all, the mighty question we cannot help putting to ourselves when we also find ourselves in the valley of the shadow. And when the time comes for any one of us to face those questions we shall not cavil at their antiquity, for then they will erect themselves in front of us with a newborn challenge.
It may be acknowledged frankly that the Gettysburg speech and Hamlet's soliloquy are extreme cases. The savor of a stimulating individuality is likely to be lacking from compositions as fundamentally unoriginal as these two are seen to be when they are reduced to their elements. A commonplace is effective, and therefore not merely to be pardoned, but even to be praised, only when it is a personal rediscovery of the speaker, when he unhesitatingly believes himself to be speaking out of the fullness of his own feeling. At the mo ment he may not know, and he surely does not care, whether or not the things he is called upon to speak have ever been uttered before; and he is well aware that this does not matter at all, since these things have come to him fresh from his own experience, hot from his own heart. Then the platitude is redeemed and transfigured by poignant personality, as when the fabled Scotchman asseverated earnestly that "Honesty is the best policy," adding by way of explanation, "I hae tried baith." What can be more commonplace than "honesty is the best policy"? It is the tritest of truisms, but it came to the mouth of that man from the depth of his own soul. He had no doubt but that he was lighting a torch for the feet of those that wander in darkness.
Deprive commonplace of this note of iscovery, by which the old is made
new of its own accord, and it is the abomination of desolation. A sequence of platitudes peddled from a platform by an uninspired speaker who refuses to rely on his actual feelings, who never had an idea of his own, and who is seeking to say only what nobody will dispute-this cannot fail to be stale, flat, and unprofitable, even if every single commonplace of which it is compacted may contain an immitigable truth. It is the prevalence of speechmaking of this sort, so threadbare and so colorless that it seems insincere, which revolts those who demand that a man shall reveal some evidence either of emotion or of cerebration before they will listen to him. This attitude is natural enough, but it brings with it a double danger. First of all, it tempts us to disregard the truth which may be clothed in the most offensively insipid commonplace; and, second, it allures us away into the primrose path of paradox.
The commonplace is not always to be accepted at its face value. It may not be true now, whatever it has been once upon a time; and it may even never have been true, but only plausible and specious. There is no virtue in the commonplace itself, and there may be vice in it. Its value resides wholly in the truth which it may contain and which each of us must appraise for himself. But, as the truth is not necessarily inherent in a platitude, neither is it necessarily inherent in a paradox. Even Mr. Shaw and Mr. Chesterton, if pushed to the wall, would probably be willing to admit that there are some paradoxes which are not true. They might be ready to accept the definition of a paradox as a truth serving its apprenticeship.
That is what a paradox may be, no doubt; it may be a peremptory challenge to a commonplace which has ceased to sheathe the verity, even if it has not yet worn out its welcome. The paradox of this quality, however, is not really a paradox; it is only a psuedo-paradox, it is a new shape of truth; and by that very fact it is condemned to become a commonplace in its turn, whenever it shall have ousted the platitude it is attacking. This pseudo-paradox, which sooner or later will inevitably issue from unthinking lips as an impregnable platitude, is never merely a commonplace reversed. To turn a truth upside down is not to turn it inside out. To stand a truism on its head is profitless; and there is no stimulus to clear thought in the glib suggestion that "dishonesty is the best policy" or that "procrastination is the guardian of time." An infelicity of phrase-making like this may have an evanescent glitter, yet it is but the crackling of thorns under a pot. It may amuse babes and sucklings for a little season to be told that the devil is not as black as he is painted, since he possesses at least the Christian virtue of perseverance. Verbal fireworks are attractive only to the very young. The writer whose pages coruscate with un
expected inversions of accepted beliefs and who exhibits himself as a catherinewheel of multicolored paradox is likely soon to sputter out in dark and in silence. If Mr. Bernard Shaw has any abiding value as a stimulating thinker, this is in spite of his flamboyant method of expressing himself and not because of it. Sincere thinking is likely always to utter itself simply and modestly.
A French critic has asserted that men may be grouped in three classes so far as their attitude toward the truth is concerned. First of all, there is the immense majority, assured that the wisdom of the past will be the wisdom of the future and glad always to hear again the accepted commonplaces. Second, there is a youthful minority, weary of these traditional statements and avidly relishing any. paradox which seems to pierce the crust of convention. Third, there is the little knot of those who are in the habit of doing their own thinking and who are ever ready to receive a novel idea on probation, to weigh it cautiously and to test it thoroughly, with willingness to accept it ultimately and to make it their own thereafter if it approves itself. It is from this small company that new ideas come into being and get into circulation. The members of this third group have to be won over before any novelty has a valid chance of acceptance; and when at last they have been taken captive the members of the first group will slowly, very slowly, and after violent opposition, follow in their wake. The chosen few carry the flag to the front; and trailing after them comes the immense majority which gives solidity to the body politic, changing its mind only by almost imperceptible degrees. And the second group, the youthful minority, with its delight in disintegrating paradox, is almost negligible, because it lacks intellectual sincerity. Its puerile protests against the platitudes which buttress the social organization merely irritate the immense majority, while they evoke only tolerant contempt from the wiser men who do their own thinking. The youthful minority is puffed up with pride at its discovery that elementary truths are commonplace. But bread and beef are the commonplaces of diet, none the less wholesome, and indeed none the less welcome, because they lack the spice of novelty. Man cannot live by paradox alone. If the staff of life chances to be contained in any paradox, then this is not a true paradox, and then also it is on the way in its turn to become a platitude. It was Boileau who remarked that "a new thought is a thought which must have come to many. but which some one happens first to express," and this is perhaps the source of Pope's "What oft was thought, but ne'er so well exprest." If we insist on escaping from the fenced field of the commonplace, we cannot complain if we find ourselves landing in the thorny hedge of freakish unreason.