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Volume II is taken up with chapters on the explorer's friends and acquaintances, his American lecturing tours, a sketch of his life work and those changes in thought which carried him from land naturalisation to socialism, and from mesmerism to spiritualism. After quoting some of their letters there is given
To his published travels the author now adds some hitherto unpublished letters descriptive of the wonders of the South American forests, a fire at sea by which his painfully gathered collections of birds and beetles was destroyed, his voyage to Singapore and his adventures in the Malay Archipelago. As showing
an outline of the chief difference of opinion between Darwin and the author on the origin of man and the heredity of acquired characters. Here Wallace confesses that he is more of a Darwinian than Darwin himself, yet never does he begrudge to his colleague the glory of the greatest discovery of "the wonderful century." Likewise in Spencer's Synthetic Philosophy he perceives certain defects, yet considers these as but spots on the sun of his great intellect. With Huxley also he differs, still he looks up to the anatomist as being immeasurably superior to himself in scientific knowledge.
the humour of a writer who disclaimed the sense of humour, we may here quote
And yet Wallace's modesty and dislike of controversy did not prevent him from from a letter written from the tropical gradually acquiring confidence in his own jungle in June, 1855:
judgment, so that, as he tells us, in dealing with any body of facts, provided he clearly understood their nature, he was able to draw conclusions to which the scientific world is now coming round. So in reasoning upon the general phenomena of nature and of society he felt able to hold his own with his contemporaries, though he was conscious of an inferiority consisting in his limited knowledge and smaller power of concentration for long periods of time. Adding to these qualities a certain natural diffidence, Wallace protests that in the United States he met hosts of people who were "really too polite and enthusiastic'proud to meet me;' 'honour and pleasure never expected;' 'read my books all their life!' etc.-leaving me speechless with amazement."
high finance as in low life. It was while teaching small boys in Leicester that he formed a taste for the wonders of the insect world, which opened a new aspect of nature, without which he might never have ventured on his journey to the Amazon. This, he asserts, was one of
the events which formed a turning point in his life, the other equally important circumstance being his reading Malthus, without which he would probably not have hit upon the theory of natural selection and obtained full credit for its independent discovery.
"I must now tell you of the addition to my household of an orphan baby, a curious little half-nigger baby. Don't be alarmed; I was the cause of its mother's death. It happened as follows: I was out shooting in the jungle and saw something up a tree which I thought was a large monkey or orang-utan, so I fired at it, and down fell this little baby-in its mother's arms. What she did up in the tree, of course, I can't imagine, but as she ran about the branches quite easily, I presume she was a wild 'woman of the woods;' so I have preserved her skin and skeleton, and am trying to bring up her only daughter, and hope some day to introduce her to fashionable society at the Zoological Gardens. When its poor mother fell mortally wounded, the baby was plunged head over ears in a swamp about the consistence of pea soup, and when I got it out looked very pitiful. . . . About a week ago I bought a little monkey with a long tail, and as the baby was very lonely while we were out in the day time, I put the little monkey into the cradle to keep it warm. . . . It is the most wonderful baby I ever saw, and has such strength in its arms that it will catch hold of my trousers as I sit at work, and hang under my legs for a quarter of an hour at a time without being the least tired. . . . From this short account you will see that my baby is no common baby, and I can safely say, what so many have said before me with much less truth. "There never was such a baby as my baby,' and I am sure nobody ever had such a dear little duck of a darling of a little brown hairy baby before."
There now follows a store of anecdotes on American thinkers and American ways, from the absent-mindedness of Professor Sylvester, of Johns Hopkins University, to the vagaries of Boston spiritualistic mediums. Returning to England, after his trans-continental lecturing tour, the author gives a most amusing account of his experiences as a civil service examiner. For example,
to the question: "Mention the natural habitat of the horse and elephant," the answer was given: "The habit of the horse is ploughing, the elephant goes to shows;" and when asked to describe the origin of icebergs, the student replied: "They come from the Alleghanies on the east of America; when they reach the valley below they melt and form small straits, which in time spread out into rivers. They enrich the climate through which they pass."
The absurdities of these papers led Wallace to doubt the good of examinations under government auspices, and yet in the next two chapters we find him. arguing in favor of government ownership of land, and, after giving high praise to Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and Equality, declaring himself an outand-out socialist. But these very inconsistencies, like the transition from mesmerism to spiritualism, furnish proof of the author's ingenuousness. So after giving a summary of his own character, from a most remarkably objective point of view, he closes with a list of his dozen "new ideas"-those suggestions or solutions of biological problems which he has been the first to put forth, from his independent discovery of the theory of natural selection in 1858 to his recent simplification in the classification of the races of men.
I. Woodbridge Riley.
OSCAR WILDE'S "DE PROFUNDIS."*
This last work of Oscar Wilde's may be read with deep interest from many points of view; but it is perhaps most truly remarkable as a piece of introspective psychology. Here was a man, intellectually cultivated to an unusual degree, luxuriously nurtured, sensitive, imaginative and emotional, with every perception and every nerve strung to a pitch of exquisite delicacy. As he truly said, he was an enfant de son siècle who had made a cult of pleasure, of sensation. He writes of himself with perfect frankness:
*De Profundis. By Oscar Wilde. With portrait. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
"I don't regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure. I did it to the full, as one should do everything that one does. There was no pleasure I did not experience. I threw the pearl of my soul into a cup of wine. I went down the primrose path to the sound of flutes. I lived on honeycomb."
Then take a man like this and plunge him suddenly into irretrievable disgrace; strip him of friends, of honour and of all the appliances of luxury; clothe him in the coarse garb of a convicted felon, and make him lead a felon's life, with all its infinitely degrading concomitants-the coarsest fare, the stifling cell, the proximity to lower criminals than he, the oakum-picking, that tore and stained his delicate hands-and what then? This book, at least, gives answer to that question so far as the experience of one man can give it.
He might have died of shame. His brain might well have given way and left him an incoherent, gibbering maniac. Or he might have become a crushed and shattered misanthrope. Speaking of prison life, he says: "The most terrible thing about it is, not that it breaks one's heart-hearts are made to be broken-but that it turns one's heart to stone." Yet after the first ghastly hours when his shame and punishment were new, Wilde seems not to have been shaken from the mental attitude which was inherent in his very nature. To him it was all experience-life-a new chapter in the record of sensation. And so to the end he was eternally consistent, and underneath the novelty of the mood that swayed him, he was still the Oscar Wilde of old, weaving graceful flowers of speech and tendrils of exotic fancy even around the bars that caged him in.
This will appear to many an unsympathetic judgment; yet every page of De Profundis strengthens and confirms it. The past is not regretted, for the past is an essential background for the present. Without the lutes and honeycombs, the contrast of the oakum and the stoneflagged cell would have been less piquant. Even in disgrace and sorrow there is something fine. "Sorrow is the most sensitive of all created things. There is nothing that stirs in the whole world of
ought to which sorrow does not vibrate terrible and exquisite pulsations. The in, beaten-out leaf of tremulous gold nat chronicles the direction of forces which the eye cannot see is in comparison coarse."
And so Wilde records in words that are full of music those "terrible and exquisite pulsations." He dwells with epicurean tenderness upon Dante and St. Francis of Assisi, upon Demeter and Dionysus and Christ. "Christ's place," he says, "is with the poets." And the place of Oscar Wilde is with the Greeks. It is as a Greek of the decadence or of the soft Ionian type that one should think of him and judge him. He was a Hellene post-dated, and no Englishmana sensuous, beauty-loving soul, at once poetical and pagan. Rafford Pyke.
III MR. DARROW's "AN EYE for an Eye."
In a trilogy of one act dramas under the common title Morituri, Herman Sudermann depicts the mental state of three men in the prime of life, with everything to live for, who know that in less than twenty-four hours they will be dead. Two of these little dramas are merely literary "stunts," although very clever stunts. The third contains a strong arraignment of certain false social traditions. Comparison with the Sudermann drama-cycle is what comes to the mind in reading Mr. Darrow's book; that is, if one is obliged to find some terms of literary criticism or literary comparison for it. But it is as difficult to apply the standards of academic criticism to this book as it would be to apply them to an actual death-bed confession. And yet
*An Eye For an Eye. By Clarence S. Darrow. New York: Fox, Duffield and Company.
if to create an illusion, to attain the effect aimed at, completely and entirely, is literary art, then Mr. Darrow's work is literary art of the highest, in spite of an apparent neglect of all the canons of literary art.
Mr. Darrow's hero, who, on the eve of his hanging for the murder of his wife, tells a friend how it happened, has one point of difference from the Sudermann heroes in that, although still in the best years of his life, and strong and well, he hasn't so very much to live for, unless it be the mere brute instinct of continuing to live. Jim Jackson realises that he is one of the many who "didn't never have a chance" in life. The very mildness and humility of his attitude towards life, brought about by a natural gentleness of disposition and the consciousness of the shadow of death hanging over him-this very mildness is a more severe arraignment of social conditions than the fiercest tirades could be.
This simple crude narrative of an unlettered man in the lower walks of life
digressing often to dwell upon what appear to be unessentials, but holding the thread straight and true with wonderful directness-throws a cruel searchlight upon so many evils of our modern social system that it is hard to know just where to begin to enumerate them. Whether it be the sin of the death penalty, the crime of hasty public opinion and a system of justice-machinery influenced thereby, or the influence upon public opinion of a sensational press-or the greater, because more fundamental, wrong that keeps the man at the bottom of the heap down beyond all hope of rising except through dominant brutality-all of these are held up in Jim Jackson's simple rambling story in a way to make the most thoughtless shudder. Grace Isabel Colbron.
THE TAINT OF MELODRAMA AND SOME RECENT BOOKS
ANY critics find a congenial and harmless pleasure in trying to explain why the popular standard in fiction and the drama has not risen to a higher level .At least it is harmless so long as we realize that such attempts seldom contain more than a few half-truths intermixed with a good deal of random guessing; for you cannot reduce to a mathematical proposition a question as broad and unstable as human nature itself. But perhaps it is no wilder a guess than many others to lay the blame upon the inability of the average reader, and the average writer too, to draw a hard-and-fast line between the novel of adventure and the out-and-out melodrama. Ask the next person you meet casually how he defines a melodramatic story, and he will probably tell you that it is a hodge-podge of extravagant adventures, full of blood and thunder, clashing swords and hair's-breadth escapes. Here again we have only a halftruth. These things are all ingredients of a melodrama, but they cannot by themselves make it melodramatic, nor explain why it is so. There is nothing inherently melodramatic in thunder or in blood. The clash of swords, the roar of cannon, the groans of the dying, the whole red spectacle of actual warfare, is not melodrama, but grimly sober prose; the violent death, in war or in peace, by poison, suicide, collapsing houses or sinking ships, is one of the common-places of modern existence. And commoner even than the violent death is the hair'sbreadth escape. A few weeks ago, in a collision between an express train and a local, one passenger coach was ground to kindling wood, and the reported casualties included one dead and upward of forty wounded; in other words, forty hair's-breadth escapes to one violent death. And in the daily life of a big city that is probably a fair average proportion. The author who just saves his
hero forty times and lets his villain die by violence is not perhaps writing an artistic story or one that will win credence; but he is not necessarily writing melodrama. Quite recently in an installment of Italian magazines that arrived in New York in a single mail, no less than three short stories, by three different authors, ended by the hero or heroine falling headlong to death from a third-story window. Any one of these stories by itself might have been accepted without protest; but the three together, the accumulated horror of them, not unnaturally led to their being tossed aside in disgust, with the verdict "rank melodrama." And yet within a week a New York paper contained a record of the same number of deaths through falls from windows; within the limits of greater New York alone.
The truth is that the taint of melodrama is quite independent of character or plot. It rises from the method of the telling. It makes you look upon life through defective lenses that magnify and distort reality to the verge of caricature. To grasp just what the word "melodrama" means, one should remember its earlier use as a synonym for opera-a drama interspersed with song. Consider for a moment the extent to which the opera differs from real life, and you have a pretty clear idea of the falsity of conventional melodrama. The opera is a world where men and women sing their clearest, highest notes when they are suffering, persecuted, dying. In real life, we have the silence of despair, the discord of human agony, the deathrattle. In the opera, the orchestra heralds the approach of joy or sorrow with appropriate strains or dirge or lyric; the lime-light moon pours its brightest rays on happy lovers; the world grows dark when murder stalks abroad. In the real world, fate has a bluff and inconsiderate way of dropping from a clear sky, without the kindly warning of a preliminary funeral march. In the opera, neither fire
nor sword, sickness nor imprisonment avails to mar the spotlessness of the tenor's linen, or disarrange by a single hair the faultless coiffure of the soprano. And in the opera we forgive all this, because the vital, living part of it is not the libretto, but the music; and because the singers, with a few soaring notes, can make you oblivious to all the incongruity, the falsity to life.
crosses a raging torrent, leaping from stone to stone, and meeting his arch-enemy in the dark, fights him to a finish, the rescued baby still tucked cosily under his left arm. This of course is rampant romanticism, but the one touch too much, the touch that turns it into opera-bouffe, is the fact that throughout all the turmoil and excitement that rescued baby is supposed not to have once waked up!
Since the novel of adventure is a popular type with most men and with some women, it is a pity that we so seldom find one that really deserves the name, one that carries us triumphantly and masterfully along with it, and leaves us with an abiding sense of its genuineness, its possession, in short, of the true spirit of adventure. Whether it is a story of the Valois kings or the Pilgrim Fathers, the Western cow boy or just a light social comedy of errors, like The Man On the Box, in nine cases out of ten the taint of melodrama, the glare of the light, reveals itself to spoil the illusion. Other things it is chiefly the so-called historical novel that seems to turn to melodrama as naturally as milk turns sour. And the most exasperating book of all is the one that is melodramatic only in streaks. You take up such a book in an indulgent mood. The frontispiece, with two Louis XV courtiers settling an affair of honour, or a much-befeathered Indian neatly removing a scalp, ought to warn you. But instead, you tell yourself this is just the sort of book you have been looking for; you are going to shut your eyes to its exaggerations, you are going to yield yourself to it, believe in it, let it give you pleasant little thrills, such as years ago you used to get from Scott and Dumas. And because it is only melodramatic in streaks, you almost succeed. And then suddenly you run across an episode so brazenly extravagant, so cheaply lurid, so grotesque, that you recognize it for just what it is, plain ordinary opera-bouffe. The heroine, why she is simply Madame Angot's daughter or the Grand Duchess of Gerolstein; those brave marines are only the crew of H. M. S. Pinafore, those blood-curdling pirates are nothing more dangerous than the Pirates of Penzance. There is only one other type of fiction more irritating, and
But melodrama is a sort of bastard cousin to the old Italian book of the opera, retaining all its absurdities without the music which alone was its excuse for existence. In play or in novel, the melodramatic taint shows in the tawdry, tinsel glitter, the dark-lantern atmosphere, the glaring falsity, not of the things that are done, but of the way they do them. In plays and novels of the romantic school, it is permissible to take a hero an inch or too taller than other men, a degree or two stronger, a bit cleverer of brain and nimbler with the sword. But it is not enough to tell us all this; it is necessary also to make the hero live up to his reputation-make him do the things demanded of him by his extra inches and extra muscles and extra cleverness and at th same time not overdo them. To paraphrase the hackneyed formula, the romantic hero can get the better of some of his enemies all the time and all of his enemies some of the time, but not even a Dumas Musketeer can get the best of all his enemies all the time. That is a valuable fact that Harrison Ainsworth does not seem to have known; and there we have one of the numerous reasons why Dumas was a bigger novelist than the author of Admirable Crichton. What one really cannot forgive to melodrama is not so much that it tricks us into believing for the time being a series of happenings that would be impossible in real life-but rather because, by overstepping the mark, it destroys illusions, spoils a dramatic effect by a sort of reductio ad absurdum. There was a luridly romantic piece upon the boards upward of a generation ago the name escapes the mind for the moment-but there was one memorable scene in it that always provoked great applause from the upper galleries: the scene in which the hero escapes from the tower with a rescued baby under his arm,