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through many another poem on a hot summer's day, skipping here and there, and getting after all a tolerable idea of the style and the scene, and withal not a little enjoyment, but to read Browning one must be awake and alert; his mind must nod approval as he reads, he must feel the contact with the master mind, and respond as that mind calls up scenes and situations and arguments and aphorisms. It is a wonderful mental stimulus to read a bit from Browning when the mind is jaded with other things. When I am tired with being cooped up in the study, whose appointments have become void of suggestion, I mount my wheel and take a spin to rest myself, forsooth. But I must go downstairs and out of doors and push out into the country, and go up hill and down dale till I have refreshed my mind, and then come back with the body somewhat weary, but with the end in view accomplished. A similar process inducts A similar process inducts us into the realm of Browning study-no, of Browning reading. We want refreshment of an intellectual character. The mind has been dealing with the routine of life. We must rest a bit. Are you willing to expend a little energy and to read a poem or two of the master's? The flagging forces of the mind take on new strength under the impulse of the poet's thought. You are led away from the humdrum world in which you live to other scenes and to other problems, laid before you for your consideration by one who is unmatched in his art. You have expended energy, true, but you have achieved something. It is worth while to give in this cause, that you may get the larger outlook and the deeper insight. It is because of this appeal to the intellectual side of our nature that Browning is so obscure to some, yet so full of suggestion to others. We are not used to the strong thought, pushing out into new channels, restating old themes. We are naturally conservative, and most of us would rather sleepily give acquiescence than challenge every step of the poet's argument. Yet, it is not because of this mind training that we should read Browning, nor do we enjoy him for this good which comes to us, but for the vitality of his mind and the stimulus which he brings to us, and for the new light that dawns upon us, and for the renewed strength which we bring to the duties of the work-a-day world. There is, too, in this appeal to the intellectual side of our nature, the preparation for a further appeal, not so unique perhaps, but to my mind as valuable. I mean the dramatic cast of the poet's thought. How we respond to the dramatic in life! A nation rises to approve a "Hobson," while few know or care to know the equally brave men who fought the every-day battle with discipline, scarcely less. thrilling when the story is rightly told. Our feelings are ever open to the reception of those
things which will rouse in us a sensation of pleasure or pleasant pain—the touch of the dramas of life. Now, to this universal condition of the race our poet responds, but in a somewhat different fashion. As he has engaged the mind, so to the mind he ministers. Browning is intellectually dramatic. When we begin to know Browning we are intellectually drawn to him, and through this channel of the mind the whole being is engaged. We are not side tracked here and there by some wonderful description that takes our thought from the subject in hand, but we follow with the acquiescence of the mind the steps that lead up to the culminating situation. His poems live for us, and his students are intensely loyal to him, because he has called for and received the deepest allegiance which the student or earnest reader can give, the approval of reason. It is not neces sary to the reader that he have such a mind as this master, that he become capable even of appreciating every allusion, or of receiving every thought; but to enjoy, to get a good from him, he must have that mental attitude which I have indicated and the demands of which you will readily enlarge upon. Does all this seem very much like work, too fatiguing and too complex to admit of that condition we term enjoyment? It need not be so. These things are but the key by which the poet's mysteries are to be unlocked. This is but the avenue of approach by which we are conducted into the secret of the master's power. Truths do not flash upon you from Browning as they do oftentimes from other poets, but truths grow upon you and stay with you, and become character for you in not a few instances.
Let me illustrate what I have said by references to some of Browning's shorter and better known poems. So uniformly excellent are these poems that it is difficult to select one that shall outweigh the others, but I dip hastily in and bring up "Pippa Passes." Never was a drama better played. Never did the lesson of the foulness of sin and the purity of goodness receive more masterly handling. Looking into the hell of human hearts till one is sickened and falls back
affrighted at the intensity of the scene, there come the words of hope which clear away all the foul demons of sin, and Pippa passes singing the refrain, "God's in His heaven. All's right with the world." And is you turn to "Saul"—that poem of the struggle of the natures- we trace our own lives in the darkness of the black tent; we are conscious, in the heat of our passion, of another's presence, and we hear a voice which speaks to us:
O Saul, it shall be
A Face like my face that receives thee; A Man like to me,
Thou shalt love and be loved by forever; A Hand like this hand
Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!
In quite the same veiu, but from another point of view, let us look into "Rabbi Ben Ezra." A philosophy of life that has in it all the law of ancient Israel and all the light of modern Christianity. I can trace the sober maxims of age— the seriousness of life, its battles, it pleasures, its sentence and its final redemption. I can see, too, the sublime faith which breathes forth from that splendid old heart as the scope of this salvation is realized, and no one can resist the appeal which is embodied in the lines:
Look not thou down, but up!
To uses of a cup,
The festal board, lamp's flash and trumpet's peal, The new wine's foaming flow,
The Master's lips aglow!
Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what needst thou with earth's wheel!
From an artistic point of view there are few things in literature which, for me, can hold place with that wonderful character sketch, "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed's Church." The bishop is a rare combination-a pagan by all the instincts of his nature, a Christian by custom only, a diplomatist for gain, an artist in everything. It is a splendid word painting. One bit overdone, it would revolt us; one tone lacking, it would lose its charm; but there it is, a true picture of a product of the renascence. There remain to be noted two poems, quite unlike each other and very different from those we have recalled--one a love tragedy, which appeals to us to a marked degree through the intellectual channel of which I have spoken; the other a touch of comedy, truly after the Browning type. "In a Gondola" is a series of word pictures in which the story is veiled till the final moment. It grew out of a painting which deeply impressed Browning, and certainly the artist's ideal could not have. been more beautiful than the poet's conception. The responses to the glory of the night, the play of passion, the outgoing of the lovers' hearts to one another are all superb, and the dialogue, the songs, the musings, are unmatched. And over all there hangs the shadow of the coming tragedy. What a word is this which the lady musingly
Dip your arm o'er the boat side, elbow deep,
And so the hour is beguiled till, on the steps of the palace, the blow is struck and the lover falls back into his mistress' arms, and breathes out his life in loving words of her.
Browning's nature, and indeed it is quite as fine a piece of work in its way as its antipode, "The Bishop Orders His Tomb." Certainly it will appeal to those whose lives are cast by preference in the city's mold.
It may seem trivial to mention with these poems such a bit as "Up at a Villa--Down in the City"; but it serves to illustrate the lighter side of
I think that, after reading such poems as these I have mentioned, you will see my reason for suggesting a selection at first. You are not preparing to lift such a burden as the life work of Browning would lay upon you, but you are preparing to enjoy him by getting at the things which minister to your needs. You will, of necessity, approach these selections willing to appropriate with the mind what his mind has prepared for you. Of your own volition you will then follow this leading into the field of the intellectually dramatic, in distinction from the spectacular, and so you will come into the realm of sympathy with the poet and into an attitude of reverence, then of love, for his work. Browning's life and purpose were serious. His message is, on the whole, a serious message; he neither desired nor courted popularity. But he has a word for many more than have yet heard; he has a real blessing for many who know him not. If Browning opens a new world to you do not condemn it, and above all, do not refuse to investigate it. I am convinced that to the thinking soul, to him who is willing to see visions and to dream dreams that will lighten the burdens of life and enrich its possibilities, Browning has a mission which cannot be filled by any other poet who has yet appeared. Certainly his principle of life, as he himself states it, is bound to bring to the soul who receives it the largest life and the fullest hope. He says: "It almost looks like bragging to say this, and as if I ought to cancel it; but it's the simple truth; and as it's true, it shall stand."
One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would
Some time ago a resident in Dublin entertained an old Presbyterian minister who was rather shortsighted and who liked to prowl about the city by himself. On returning home one evening, his host found him reading the Bible, and the minister exclaimed: "I can't make it out at all. I have read Genesis xxx. twice over, and I am none the wiser." He explained that a large portion of the shops in Dublin had "Genesis xxx." inscribed on them. "Genesis xxx. !" exclaimed his host, in astonishment; "whatever do you mean?" "Oh, it's all over the place - on the walls, and even on the barrels," said the minister. Then it dawned on the minister's host, and he laughingly explained: "Why, you mean Guinness's xxx. ! "
THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING.
A TOO TRUE TALE.
Professor Craye was standing near the window of his sitting room. It was on the second floor of a house in Canonbury; for the professor was not rich. But the view from the window was pleasant; the house overlooked a square which was bright with well-filled parterres and old smooth turf; children were running and shouting merrily under the tall limes and sycamores, and the summer sunshine glorified the scene. Charles Craye held a professor's chair in a big London college, where much learning was expected and a small stipend was paid. He lectured to women as well as to men, and the former fact was the origin of the reverie in which he indulged as he gazed into the sunny square. He wished to marry one of his pupils, and he felt sure that she would accept him, though he was a man of forty and she was eighteen years younger. But he had been waiting because he was poor, and he believed that fame and a moderate fortune in consequence of it were not far off.
Charles Craye had been for twenty years preparing a treatise on the philosophy and life of an eminent German. He meant that his treatise should be a standard work, and he had spared neither his time nor his means in collecting and reviewing material at first hand. The German was so eminent that a treatise-a full and scholarly treatise, containing striking conclusions which were soundly supported--could not be ignored; and Professor Craye had just finished the treatise. The bulky manuscript lay on the table behind. him,
When he left the window he turned to the table and fingered one or two of the sheets of the manuscript with an air of abstraction.
"I wonder who would be the best publishers for it?" he mused. "Singleton is a good man, and Stubbin & Howe are suitable people. But then Guddle & Simm are more likely to be interested in the subject than anybody else. They published all of Trasker's books on the theme-the whole six of them-and Trasker is considered to be the first authority in England on the subject. However, the professor thought, smiling to himself, "I don't fancy Trasker will be an authority much longer; for, if I have demonstrated one thing more clearly than another, it is that Trasker was a charlatan, and incredibly careless in compiling his books."
So the professor packed up his manuscript and dispatched it to Guddle & Simm, together with a letter in which he modestly set forth his qualifications for the work which he had undertaken.
A month later Mr. Guddle walked into Mr. Simm's private room at No. 115 Benedicite avenue, where the firm had offices.
"I say, Simm," he remarked, thoughtfully, "I've been reading the report on Craye's book. It seems to be a first-class bit of work. But it's right up against Trasker."
Mr. Simm had been writing a letter. He looked up with a pre occupied air and answered: "Well, that can't be helped. Trasker was a bit of a humbug. We only put him on to do the stuff because he could write it up in a popular kind of way. There's room for a real standard work."
"Yes, my boy," resumed Mr. Guddle, "but we've got six of Trasker's books, and we bought the copyright of all of them at a fairly stiff figure; for old Trasker knew his way about. Well, they're properties, those books are, and they'll go on being properties so long as Trasker is considered to be the standard authority on the subject. But if Trasker is shown up, we shall stand to lose. And, damn it, philosophy's all very well, but that isn't business."
Mr. Simm began to manifest more interest in the conversation.
"How much money should you think there is in this man Craye's book?" he asked.
"Oh," said Mr. Guddle, "it's a big volume; it would be expensive to produce. The sale wouldn't be big, and it would be slow, though it would be certain. The stuff is right above the head of the average reader, and it's too abstruse to be made popular, even with alterations. I should think there's a safe hundred and fifty, or perhaps two hundred, in the book for the first six months and driblets afterwards."
"Well, it isn't worth while to knock the bottom out of Trasker's copyrights for that," observed Mr. Simm, and he resumed writing his letter.
"Shall I fire the man's manuscript back to him?" Mr. Guddle asked, after a pause.
"If you like," said Mr. Simm; "I shouldn't, though."
"Publish it?" inquired Mr. Guddle.
Mr. Simm turned round and faced his partner. "Yes, publish it," said Mr. Simm, and a queer smile played round his mouth after he had uttered the words.
"I think so, too," Mr. Guddle remarked stolidly. "Let's have him up here and see what he's like and how much he knows," said Mr. Simm after another pause. "Will you write to him, Guddle?"
"Yes, I'll write to him," said the senior partner. And he lighted a cigar and strolled from the room.
On the following day Professor Craye received a kind and flattering letter from Messrs. Guddle & Simm. He learned from this communication that the firm was extremely interested in his work, and that they hoped to publish it. At the same time, Mr. Guddle felt that it was right to express the view that the book could not com
mand anything in the nature of a popular sale. He hoped that he might have the pleasure of an interview with Professor Craye. Perhaps the professor would be able to lunch with him at halfpast one on the following Thursday at the Locrian Club?
Charles Craye lunched with Mr. Guddle and found him a very agreeable and well-informed man, who took an enlightened interest in literature quite apart from his commercial undertakings. After lunch they drove to Mr. Guddle's office, and the professor smoked one of Mr. Guddle's cigars in Mr. Guddle's private room.
"And now let's come to business, Mr. Craye," said Mr. Guddle when the cigars were lighted. "We publishers are always having to come to business, you know. What would you expect by way of terms for your book?"
"I really know so very little about the terms which are usual for such books," said the professor, after a moment's hesitation. "I have not any clear idea on the subject."
"Well, Mr. Craye," resumed the publisher, "there are a great many forms which the transaction between author and publisher may take. There is the royalty agreement, and there are agreements providing for a deferred royalty, and there is purchase outright. But I think this is eminently a case for a half-profits agreement. If the book does well, so much the better for us all; if not, we bear the burden between us. How do you think that would suit you?"
appeal to a limited class. "That," continued Mr. Guddle, with a sad but pleasant smile, "is a drawback which in the nature of things attaches to much of the very best work. But merit does sometimes make its mark in this country of England."
"What sort of arrangement was made with Mr. Trasker?" asked Professor Craye.
"Oh, that was a case of purchase," replied Mr. Guddle airily. "But, then, we ourselves indicated the work to Mr. Trasker, and supplied him with material and defrayed his expenses while he was abroad engaged upon the necessary researches. And he was-habitually, we may say-in our employment to a certain extent. And, of course, it was only fair that all that should be taken into consideration in determining the scale of remuneration. No, I don't think you would like to sell the rights in the book on similar terms. Your work will probably become a classic, Mr. Craye, and I take it that you would wish to have a permanent hold upon its earnings."
"Why, yes. I should much prefer to have an abiding interest in the sales of the work," said the professor.
"I thought so," remarked Mr. Guddle, and he nodded cordially. "Well, then, it's just a case for half-profits. All that we shall ask from you is the exclusive license to publish throughout the term of copyright. We shall spare no expense in the get-up of the book. We shall be proud of it, and shall issue it in first-class style. As I say, it is an expensive book to handle, and it will only
Mr. Guddle, feeling that his last sentence seemed a mere plattitude, took his cigar from his lips and blew his nose to cover the weak ending of his remarks.
Professor Craye had received so many compliments from Mr. Guddle that he desired to make a suitable response. "I leave myself in your hands," he said to Mr. Guddle. "The reputation of your firm is an ample guarantee for me. And now I am afraid I am occupying a great deal of your valuable time, Mr. Guddle. I know you business men have very little leisure."
The professor rose to take his leave, and Mr. Guddle bade him farewell in a most cordial manner and expressed the hope that he might before long be able to renew the pleasure of conversing with the professor.
Two days later a long form of agreement reached Charles Craye by post, and he signed it without understanding what its clauses really meant.
There was a great deal of delay before the book was printed, and when it appeared the publication took place at a time when a war scare was occupying all minds, and literary topics were neglected. Craye's work was very favorably received in a few quarters; but most of the great daily papers and many of the weekly reviews passed it over in silence, which was, perhaps, not astounding, inasmuch as these periodicals did not receive review copies from Messrs. Guddle & Simm. The explanation offered by Mr. Guddle to Charles Craye was different-the abstruseness of the subject, the popular pre-occupation about foreign politics, etc. "The daily papers, and many of the weekly papers, too," Mr. Guddle wrote, "are no doubt only anxious to print matter which will catch the eye of the average reader, and at such a time as the present they are exceptionally prone to neglect work of permanent rather than immediate interest." Mr. Guddle's tone about the prospect of the book was pessimistic in the extreme. "It is not a work," he said in conclusion, "which would be helped by catchpenny advertisements. It will advertise itself among those who are able to understand it." This, of course, fully explained why Professor Craye's book was not advertised with the other publications in Messrs. Guddle & Simm's list.
Charles Craye was bitterly disappointed; Mr. Guddle was not. People who were interested in the subject tried to get the book at the libraries, but there was always a difficulty about it, and
delay as well, and before long inquirers were told that the volume was out of print; another edition would probably appear-but the other edition never saw the light. So Charles Craye's magnum opus, of which only three hundred and fifty copies had been printed, and which had been issued at a prohibitive price, soon passed into oblivion. And Trasker's books held the field and continued to bring hansome profits to the firm of Guddle & Simm.
"It's the continued vogue of Trasker's works that annoys me most," the professor said at a later date, and it annoys Guddle, too, for the matter of that. He's a very well informed man, you know. His firm is a first-class firm, and I put myself in their hands, and they did everything they possibly could for me; so it's not their fault. In fact, they're grievously disappointed, and heavily out of pocket, I'm sorry to say. Well, it all comes of writing above the heads of the people. One gets so absorbed in a subject that becomes one's hobby, and then the theme could not be properly treated in a popular vein. It was very good of Guddle & Simm to publish it at all. And as for me," he added with a sad smile, "I wasn't meant to be anything but an old bachelor professor, who just gives lectures to young people-and, after all, that's work which ought to be its own reward." --THE AUTHOR.
The uses of books are many and various. There was once a time when the intrinsic literary worth of a book was the measure of its value, and to the author alone was given either the credit or the blame which the product of his pen merited. Today there is a new order of things. Through the processes of progress, other elements contributing to success or to failure have entered into the question of value. A bad book may be snatched from the jaws of oblivion by superior embellishment, just as an artistic illustration in a comic paper may make a "rusty dusty" joke seem fresh and original. The illustrator has proved himself the saving grace of many an impossible story, and it is never a shock to the modern reader to hear that a popular book has "sold on its cover."
Fifty years ago, when the literary tub stood upon its own bottom, there was no foisting of inferior work upon a critical public. Book covers were covers merely, and not designed to lure the wary purchaser into buying a book he could not read with satisfaction to himself. They were modest and unassuming. They served a purpose and beyond that ventured nothing. They were content to be plain and useful, and, like the best of servants, did not aspire to anything more. The modern book-cover is a very different thing. It is
a gay and joyous thing. It is pleasant to look upon, but it is a lure nevertheless. It is the "puller in" of literature, and it does its work well. An inferior man in fine garments makes more of an immediate impression than a superior man in rags, and many a well-clad bit of literary trash has done better than a soberly bound work of real merit because it caught the eye of the passer-by and refused to let go of it.
All of which is touched upon not because we have any objection to alluring book-covers-which we distinctly have not-but because there has recently appeared in a journal of letters a statement that at a dinner given in London to a distinguished American certain books were used as "decorations." We have always thought of the good things in letters as illuminating, but the decorative quality of books has not hitherto been suggested to us otherwise than in jest.
Our humorists have often alluded to the tendency of good people to purchase green books for the center table of rooms whose walls were hung with green wall-paper; and the story of the man who bought only books that were bound in red because they matched the rug in his library is as widely known as it is idiotic. But that it should be seriously advanced as a serious bit of news, that certain volumes were used at an important dinner as "decorations," comes to us, at least, with that sense of shock with which novelty always affects the conservative mind.
Is it truly to be one of the future missions of books that they shall be utilitarian? Are the readers employed by publishers to advise them to be called upon hereafter to estimate the decorative value of manuscripts submitted to them as well as their literary worth? We cannot quite convince ourselves that this will ever be the case. It is be yond the imagining powers of a normally constituted individual to conjure up before his mind's eye a reader who should say of a manuscript submitted to him for an opinion, "This novel is lacking in distinction both in plot and in style, but if bound in pink with silver lettering on the cover should have a large sale as a favor at ladies' lunchI therefore recommend its publication." If this should ever happen, however, there is no reason why the utilitarian qualities of books should not extend even farther, and dull novels be recommended for publication because they will serve nicely to press autumn leaves. It may even happen that ships that sail the seas may use unappreciated editions of poems as ballast-all of which will benefit the author unless the publishers insert in their contracts a clause stipulating that full royalties shall be paid only on books sold for reading purposes; those purchased for decorative or other strictly utilitarian purposes to be settled for at so much per pound.