Page images
PDF
EPUB

state, and then trembles for fear his people will take him at his word. When asked to remain ruler of Russia he proceeds to curse his councilors and accuses them of loading him with burdens that they themselves would not endeavor to bear. He is a victim of amor senilis, and right here if Mansfield took one step more his realism would be appalling, but he stops in time and suggests what he dares not express to This tottering, doddering, slobbering, sniffling old man is in love he is about to wed a young, beautiful girl. He selects jewels for her-he makes remarks about what would become her beauty, jeers and laughs in cracked falsetto. In the animality of youth there is something pleasing—it is natural but the vices of an old man, when they have become only mental, are most revolting. The people about Ivan are in mortal terror of him, for he is still the absolute monarch—he has the power to promote or disgrace, to take their lives or let them go free. They laugh when he laughs, cry when he does, and tch his fleeting moods with thumping hearts." He is intensely religious and affects the robe and cowl of a priest. Around his neck hangs the crucifix. His fear is that he will die with no opportunity of confession and absolution. He prays to High Heaven every moment, kisses the cross, and his toothless old mouth interjects prayers to God and curses on man in the same breath. If any one is talking to him he looks the other way, slips down until his shoulders occupy the throne, scratches his leg, and keeps up a running comment of insultą“Aye,” “Oh,” Of course," "Certainly,” “Ugh," "Listen to him now !" There is a comedy side to all this which relieves the tragedy and keeps the play from becoming disgusting. Glimpses of Ivan's past are given in his jerky confessions- he is the most miserable and unhappy of men, and you behold that he is reaping as he has sown. All his life he has been preparing for this. Each day has been a preparation for the next. Ivan dies in a fit of wrath, hurling curses on his family and court-dies in a fit of wrath into which he has been purposely taunted by a man who knows that the outburst is certain to kill the weakened monarch.

Where does Ivan the Terrible go when Death closes his eyes? I know not. But this I believe: No confessional can absolve him-no priest benefit him-no God forgive him. He has damned himself, and he began the work in youth. He was getting ready all his life for this old age, and this old age was getting ready for the fifth act. The playwright does not say so, Mansfield does not say so, but this is the lesson: Hate is a poison-wrath is a toxin-sensuality leads to death-clutching selfishness is a lighting of the fires of hell. It is all a preparationcause and effect. If you are ever absolved, you must absolve yourself, for no one else can. And the sooner you begin, the better. We often hear of the beauties of old age, but the only old age that is beautiful is the one the man has long been preparing for by living a beautiful life. Every one of us are right now preparing for old age. There may be a substitute somewhere in the world for Good Nature, but I do not know where it can be found. The secret of salvation is this: Keep Sweet.

[ocr errors]

Y father is a doctor who
has practised medicine for
sixty-five years, and is still
practising.
I am a doctor myself.
I am fifty years old; my
father is eighty-five. We
live in the same house, and

daily we ride horseback together or tramp thru the fields and woods. To-day we did our little jaunt of five miles and back 'cross country. I have never been ill a day-never consulted a physician in a professional way, and in fact, never missed a meal through inability to eat. As for the author of the author of A Message to Garcia, he holds, esoterically, to the idea that the hot pedaluvia and small doses of hop tea will cure most ailments that are curable, and so far all of his own ails have been curable -a point he can prove. The value of the pedaluvia lies in the fact that it tends to equalize circulation, not to mention the little matter of sanitation; and the efficacy of the hops lies largely in the fact that they are bitter and disagreeable to take.

[graphic]

Both of these prescriptions give the patient the soothing thought that something is being done for him, and at the very worst can never do him serious harm. My father and I are not fully agreed on all of life's themes, so existence for us never resolves itself into a dull, neutral gray. He is a Baptist and I am a Vegetarian. Occasionally he refers to me as “callow," and we have daily resorts to logic to prove prejudices, and history is searched to bolster the preconceived, but on the following important points we stand together, solid as one man: First. Ninety-nine people out of a hundred who go to a physician have no organic disease, but are merely suffering from some symptom of their own indiscretion. Second. Individuals who have diseases, nine times out of ten, are suffering only from the accumulated evil effects of medication. Third. Hence we get the proposition: Most diseases are the result of medication which has been prescribed to relieve and take away a beneficent and warning symptom on the part of wise Nature. Most of the work of doctors in the past has

« PreviousContinue »