xt7jdf6k1618 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7jdf6k1618/data/mets.xml Allison, Young Ewing, 1853-1932. 1918  books b92-119-29918966 English Prairieland Publishing Co., : Chicago : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Books and reading. Fiction History and criticism. Delicious vice  : pipe dreams and fond adventures of an habitual novel-reader among some great books and their people / by Young E. Allison. text Delicious vice  : pipe dreams and fond adventures of an habitual novel-reader among some great books and their people / by Young E. Allison. 1918 2002 true xt7jdf6k1618 section xt7jdf6k1618 

































THE DELICIOUS VICE

 
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Delicious



Vice



Pipe Dreams and Fond Adventures
of an Habitual Novel-Reader Among
Some Great Books and Their People


             BY
     YOUNG E. ALLISON






        Second Edition
   (Revised and containing new material)




          CHICAGO
THE PRAIRIELAND PUBLISHING CO.
            1918

 

























Printed originally in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
              Reprinted by courtesy.




   First edition, Cleveland, Burrows Bros., 1907.




               Copyright 1907-1918



Tob, R.-oi. Primer ..d Binder Cb-..


 


















                        I.

A RHAPSODY ON THE NOBLE PROFESSION
             OF NOVEL READING

IT MUST have been at about the good-bye age of
   forty that Thomas Moore, that choleric and pomp-
ous yet genial little Irish gentleman, turned a sigh into
good marketable "copy" for Grub Street and with
shrewd economy got two full pecuniary bites out of
one melancholy apple of reflection:
    "Kind friends around me fall
    Like leaves in wintry weather,"
-he sang of his own dead heart in the stilly night.
    "Thus kindly I scatter thy leaves on the bed
    Where thy mates of the garden lie scentless and
       dead."
-he sang to the dying rose. In the red month of
October the rose is forty years old, as roses go. How
small the world has grown to a man of forty, if he has
put his eyes, his ears and his brain to the uses for
which they are adapted. And as for time why, it
is no longer than a kite string. At about the age of
forty everything that can happen to a man, death
excepted, has happened; happiness has gone to the
devil or is a mere habit; the blessing of poverty has
been permanently secured or you are exhausted with
the cares of wealth; you can see around the corner or
you do not care to see around it; in a word-that is,
considering mental existence-the bell has rung on
you and you are up against a steady grind for the
remainder of your life.

 












THE DELICIOUS VICE



  It is then there comes to the habitual novel reader
the inevitable day when, in anguish of heart, looking
back over his life, he-wishes he hadn't; then he asks
himself the bitter question if there are not things he
has done that he wishes he hadn't. Melancholy
marks him for its own. He sits in his room some win-
ter evening, the lamp swarming shadowy seductions,
the grate glowing with siren invitation, the cigar box
within easy reach for that moment when the pending
sacrifice between his teeth shall be burned out; his
feet upon the familiar corner of the mantel at that
automatically calculated altitude which permits the
weight of the upper part of the body to fall exactly
upon the second joint from the lower end of the verte-
bral column as it rests in the comfortable depression
created by continuous wear in the cushion of that
particular chair to which every honest man who has
acquired the library vice sooner or later gets attached
with a love no misfortune can destroy. As he sits
thus, having closed the lids of, say, some old favorite
of his youth, he will inevitably ask himself if it would
not have been better for him if he hadn't. And the
question once asked must be answered; and it will be
an honest answer, too. For no scoundrel was ever
addicted to the delicious vice of novel-reading. It is
too tame for him. "There is no money in it."

                       

  And every habitual novel-reader will answer that
question he has asked himself, after a sigh. A sigh
that will echo from the tropic deserted island of Juan
Fernandez to that utmost ice-bound point of Siberia
where by chance or destiny the seven nails in the sole
of a certain mysterious person's shoe, in the month of
October, 1831, formed a cross-thus:
                         6

 











A RHAPSODY



                         

                         
                         
                         


while on the American promontory opposite, "a young
and handsome woman replied to the man's despairing
gesture by silently pointing to heaven." The Wander-
ing Jew may be gone, but the theater of that appalling
prologue still exists unchanged. That sigh will pene-
trate the gloomy cell of the Abbe Faria, the frightful
dungeons of the Inquisition, the gilded halls of Vanity
Fair, the deep forests of Brahmin and fakir, the joust-
ing list, the audience halls and the petits cabinets of
kings of France, sound over the trackless and storm-
beaten ocean-will echo, in short, wherever warm
blood has jumped in the veins of honest men and
wherever vice has sooner or later been stretched grovel-
ing in the dust at the feet of triumphant virtue.
  And so, sighing to the uttermost ends of the earth,
the old novel-reader will confess that he wishes he
hadn't. Had not read all those novels that troop
through his memory. Because, if he hadn't-and it
is the impossibility of the alternative that chills his
soul with the despair of cruel realization-if he hadn't,
you see, he could begin at the very first, right then and
there, and read the whole blessed business through
for the first time. For the FIRST TIME, mark youl
Is there anywhere in this great round world a novel
reader of true genius who would not do that with the
joy of a child and the thankfulness of a sage
  Such a dream would be the foundation of the story
of a really noble Dr. Faustus. How contemptible is
the man who, having staked his life freely upon a
career, whines at the close and begs for another chance;

 











THE DELICIOUS VICE



just one more and a different career! It is no more
than Mr. Jack Hamlin, a friend from Calaveras County,
California, would call "the baby act," or his compeer,
Mr. John Oakhurst, would denominate "a squeal."
How glorious, on the other hand, is the man who has
spent his life in his own way, and, at its eventide, waves
his hand to the sinking sun and cries out: "Goodbye;
but if I could do so, I should be glad to go over it all
again with you-just as it was!" If honesty is rated
in heaven as we have been taught to believe, depend
upon it the novel-reader who sighs to eat the apple he
has just devoured, will have no trouble hereafter.
  What a great flutter was created a few years ago
when a blind multi-millionaire of New York offered
to pay a million dollars in cash to any scientist, savant
or surgeon in the world who would restore his sight.
Of course he would! It was no price at all to offer for
the service-considering the millions remaining. It
was no more to him than it would be to me to offer ten
dollars for a peep at Paradise. Poor as I am I will
give any man in the world one hundred dollars in cash
who will enable me to remove every trace of memory
of M. Alexandre Dumas' "Three Guardsmen," so that
I may open that glorious book with the virgin capacity
of youth to enjoy its full delight. More; I will dupli-
cate the same offer for any one or all of the following:
    "Les Miserables," of M. Hugo.
    "Don Quixote," of Senor Cervantes.
    "Vanity Fair," of Mr. Thackeray.
    "David Copperfield," of Mr. Dickens.
    "The Cloister and the Hearth," of Mr. Reade.
  And if my good friend, Isaac of York, is lending
money at the old stand and will take pianos, pictures,
furniture, dress suits and plain household plate as
                        8

 










A RHAPSODY



collateral, upon even moderate valuation, I will go
fifty dollars each upon the following:
    "The Count of Monte Cristo," of M. Dumas.
    "The Wandering Jew," of M. Sue.
    "The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq.," of Mr.
       Thackeray.
    "Treasure Island," of Mr. Robbie Stevenson.
    "The Vicar of Wakefield," of Mr. Goldsmith.
    "Pere Goriot," of M. de Balzac.
    "Ivanhoe," of Baronet Scott.
  (Any one previously unnamed of the whole layout
of M. Dumas, excepting only a paretic volume entitled
"The Conspirators.")
  Now, the man who can do the trick for one novel
can do it for all-and there's a thousand dollars waiting
to be earned, and a blessing also. It's a bald "bluff,"
of course, because it can't be done as we all know.
I might offer a million with safety. If it ever could
have been done the noble intellectual aristocracy of
novel-readers would have been reduced to a condition
of penury and distress centuries ago.
  For, who can put fetters upon even the smallest
second of eternity Who can repeat a joy or duplicate
a sweet sorrow Who has ever had more than one
first sweetheart, or more than one first kiss under the
honeysuckle Or has ever seen his name in print for
the first time, ever again Is it any wonder that all
these inexplicable longings, these hopeless hopes, were
summed up in the heart-cry of Faust-
      "Stay, yet awhile, 0 moment of beauty."
                      

  Yet, I maintain, Dr. Faustus was a weak creature.
He begged to be given another and wholly different
chance to linger with beauty. How much nobler the
                        9

 










THE DELICIOUS VICE



magnificent courage of the veteran novel-reader, who,
in the old age of his service, asks only that he may be
permitted to do again all that he has done, blindly,
humbly, loyally, as before.
  Don't I know Have I not been there It is no
child's play, the life of a man who-paraphrasing the
language of Spartacus, the much neglected hero of the
ages-has met upon the printed page every shape of
perilous adventure and dangerous character that the
broad empire of fiction could furnish, and never yet
lowered his arm. Believe me it is no carpet duty to
have served on the Bristish privateers in Guiana, under
Commodore Kingsley, alongside of Salvation Yeo; to
have been a loyal member of Thuggee and cast the
scarf for Bowanee; to have watched the tortures of
Beatrice Cenci (pronounced as written in honest
English, and I spit upon the weaklings of the service
who imagine that any freak of woman called Bee-ah-
treech-y Chon-chy could have endured the agonies
related of that sainted lady)-to have watched those
tortures, I say, without breaking down; to have fought
under the walls of Acre with Richard Coeur de Lion;
to have crawled, amid rats and noxious vapors, with
Jean Valjean through the sewers of Paris; to have
dragged weary miles through the snow with Uncas,
Chief of the Mohicans; to have lived among wild
beasts with Morok the lion tamer; to have charged
with the impis of Umslopogaas; to have sailed before
the mast with Vanderdecken, spent fourteen gloomy
years in the next cell to Edmund Dantes, ferreted out
the murders in the Rue Morgue, advised Monsieur
Le Cocq and given years of life's prime in tedious
professional assistance to that anointed idiot and pes-
tiferous scoundrel, Tittlebat Titmousel
                        10

 











A RHAPSODY



  Equally, of course, it has not been all horror and
despair. Life averages up fairly, as any novel-reader
will admit, and there has been much of delight-even
luxury and idleness-between the carnage hours of
battle. Is it not so Ask that boyish-hearted old
scamp whom you have seen scuttling away from the
circulating library with M. St. Pierre's memoirs of
young Paul and his beloved Virginia under his arm;
or stepping briskly out of the book store hugging to his
left side a carefully wrapped biography of Lady Diana
Vernon, Mlle. de la Valliere, or Madame Margaret
Woffington; or in fact any of a thousand charming
ladies whom it is certain he had met before. Ladies
too, who, born whensoever, are not one day older since
he last saw them. Nearly a hundred years of Parisian
residence have not served to induce the Princess Haydee
of Yanina to forego her picturesque Greek gowns and
coiffures, or to alter the somewhat embarrassing status
of her relations with her striking but gloomy protector,
the Count of Monte Cristo.
  The old memories are crowded with pleasures.
Those delicious mornings in the allee of the park,
where you were permitted to see Cosette with her old
grandfather, M. Fauchelevent; those hours of sweet
pain when it was impossible to determine whether it
was Rebecca or Rowena who seemed to give most light
to the day; the flirtations with Blanche Amory, and
the notes placed in the hollow tree; the idyllic devotion
of Little Emily, dating from the morning when you
saw her dress fluttering on the beam as she ran along
it, lightly, above the flowing tide (devotion that is yet
tender, for, God forgive you Steerforth as I do, you
could not smirch that pure heart;) the melancholy,
yet sweet sorrow, with which you saw the loved and
lost Little Eva borne to her grave over which the mock-
                        11

 











THE DELICIOUS VICE



ing-bird now sings his liquid requiem. Has it not been
sweet good fortune to love Maggie Tulliver, Margot of
Savoy, Dora Spenlow (undeclared because she was an
honest wife-even though of a most conceited and
commonplace jackass, totally undeserving of her);
Agnes Wicklow (a passion quickly cured when she
took Dora's pitiful leavings), and poor ill-fated Marie
Antoinette You can name dozens if you have been
brought up in good literary society.
                       

  These love affairs may be owned freely, as being
perfectly honorable, even if hopeless. And, of course,
there have been gallantries-mere affaires du jour-
such as every man occasionally engages in. Sometimes
they seemed serious, but only for a moment. There
was Beatrix Esmond, for whom I could certainly have
challenged His Grace of Hamilton, had not Lord Mohun
done the work for me. Wandering down the street in
London one night, in a moment of weak admiration for
her unrivalled nerve and aplomb, I was hesitating-
whether to call on Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, knowing
that her thick-headed husband was in hoc for debt-
when the door of her house crashed open and that old
scoundrel, Lord Steyne, came wildly down the steps,
his livid face blood-streaked, his topcoat on his arm
and a dreadful look in his eye. The world knows the
rest as I learned it half an hour later at the green-
grocer's, where the Crawleys owed an inexcusably
large bill. Then the Duchess de Langeais-but all
this is really private.
  After all, a man never truly loves but once. And
somewhere in Scotland there is a mound above the
gentle, tender and heroic Helen Mar, where lies buried
the first love of my soul. That mound, 0 lovely and
                        12

 











A RHAPSODY



loyal Helen, was watered by the first blinding and
unselfish tears that ever sprang from my eyes. You
were my first love; others may come and inevitably
they go, but you are still here, under the pencil pocket
of my waistcoat.
  Who can write in such a state It is only fair to
take a rest and brace up.



13

 
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                        II.

             NOVEL-READERS

  AS DISTINGUISHED FROM WOMEN AND
         NIBBLERS AND AMATEURS

T HERE is, of course, but one sort of novel-
   reader who is of any importance. He is the man
who began under the age of fourteen and is still stick-
ing to it-at whatever age he may be-and full of a
terrifying anxiety lest he may be called away in the
midst of preliminary announcements of some pet
author's "next forthcoming." For my own part I can-
not conceive dying with resignation knowing that the
publishers were binding up at the time anything of
Henryk Sienckiewicz's or Thomas Hardy's. So it is
important that a man begin early, because he will
have to quit all too soon.
  There are no women novel-readers. There are
women who read novels, of course; but it is a far cry
from reading novels to being a novel-reader. It is
not in the nature of a woman. The crown of woman's
character is her devotion, which incarnate delicacy
and tenderness exalt into perfect beauty of sacrifice.
Those qualities could no more live amid the clashings
of indiscriminate human passions than a butterfly wing
could go between the mill rollers untorn. Women
utterly refuse to go on with a book if the subject goes
against their settled opinions. They despise a novel-
howsoever fine and stirring it may be if there is any
taint of unhappiness to the favorite at the close. But
                       15

 










THE DELICIOUS VICE



the most flagrant of all their incapacities in respect to
fiction is the inability to appreciate the admirable
achievements of heroes, unless the achievements are
solely in behalf of women. And even in that event
they complacently consider them to be a matter of
course, and attach no particular importance to the
perils or the hardships undergone. "Why shouldn't
he" they argue, with triumphant trust in ideals;
"surely he loved her!"
  There are many women who nibble at novels as they
nibble at luncheon-there are also some hearty eaters;
but 98 per cent of them detest Thackeray and refuse
resolutely to open a second book of Robert Louis
Stevenson. They scent an enemy of the sex in Thack-
eray, who never seems to be in earnest, and whose
indignant sarcasm and melancholy truthfulness they
shrink from. "It's only a story, anyhow," they argue
again; "he might, at least write a pleasant one, instead
of bringing in all sorts of disagreeable people some
of them positively disreputable." As for Stevenson,
whom men read with the thrill of boyhood rising new
in their veins, I believe in my soul women would tear
leaves out of his novels to tie over the tops of preserve
jars, and never dream of the sacrilege.
  Now I hold Thackeray and Stevenson to be the
absolute test of capacity for earnest novel-reading.
Neither cares a snap of his fingers for anybody's preju-
dices, but goes the way of stern truth by the light of
genius that shines within him.
  If you could ever pin a woman down to tell you what
she thought, instead of telling you what she thinks it
is proper to tell you, or what she thinks will please you,
you would find she has a religious conviction that Dot
Perrybingle in "The Cricket of the Hearth," and
Ouida's Lord Chandos were actually a materializable
                         16

 










NOVEL-READERS



woman and a reasonable gentleman, either of whom
might be met with anywhere in their proper circles.
I would be willing to stand trial for perjury on the
statement that I've known admirable women-far
above the average, really showing signs of moral dis-
crimination-who have sniveled pitifully over Nancy
Sykes and sniffed scornfully at Mrs. Tess Durbeyfield
Clare. It is due to their constitution and social hered-
ity. Women do not strive and yearn and stalk abroad
for the glorious pot of intellectual gold at the end of the
rainbow; they pick and choose and, having chosen, sit
down straightway and become content. And a state
of contentment is an abomination in the sight of man.
Contentment is to be sought for by great masculine
minds only with the purpose of being sure never quite
to find it.
                       

  For all practical purposes, therefore-except per-
haps as object lessons of "the incorrect method" in
reading novels-women, as novel-readers, must be
considered as not existing. And, of course, no offense
is intended. But if there be any weak-kneed readers
who prefer the gilt-wash of pretty politeness to the
solid gold of truth, let them understand that I am not
to be frightened away from plain facts by any charge
of bad manners.
  On the contrary, now that this disagreeable inter-
ruption has been forced upon me-certainly not through
any seeking of mine-it may be better to speak out and
settle the matter. Men who have the happiness of
being in the married state know that nothing is to be
gained by failing to settle instantly with women who
contradict and oppose them. Who was that mellow
philosopher in one of Trollope's tiresomely clever
                        17

 











THE DELICIOUS VICE



novels who said: "My word for it, John, a husband
ought not to take a cane to his wife too soon. He
should fairly wait till they are half-way home from the
church-but not longer, not longer." Of course
every man with a spark of intelligence and gallantry
wishes that women COULD rise to real novel-reading.
Think what courtship would be! Every true man
wishes to heaven there was nothing more to be said
against women than that they are not novel-readers.
But can mere forgetting remove the canker Do not
all of us know that the abstract good of the very
existence of woman is itself open to grave doubt-
with no immediate hope of clearing up Woman has
certainly been thrust upon us. Is there any scrap of
record to show that Adam asked for her He was
doing very well, was happy, prosperous and healthy.
There was no certainty that her creation was one of
that unquestionably wonderful series that occupied
the six great days. We cannot conceal that her
creation caused a great pain in Adam's side undoubt-
edly the left side, in the region of the heart. She has
been described by young and dauntless poets as "God's
best afterthought;" but, now, really-and I advance
the suggestion with no intention to be brutal but solely
as a conscientious duty to the ascertainment of truth-
why is it, that-. But let me try to present the matter
in the most unobjectionable manner possible.
  In reading over that marvelous account of creation
I find frequent explicit declaration that God pronounced
everything good after he had created it except heaven
and woman. I have maintained sometimes to stern,
elderly ladies that this might have been an error of
omission by early copyists, perpetuated and so become
fixed in our translations.
                        18

 











NOVEL -READERS



  To other ladies, of other age and condition, to whom
such propositions of scholarship might appear to be
dull pedantry, I have ventured the gentlemanlike
explanation that, as woman was the only living thing
created that was good beyond doubt, perhaps God had
paid her the special compliment of leaving the approval
unspoken, as being in a sense supererogatory. At
best, either of these dispositions of the matter is, of
course, far-fetched, maybe even frivolous. The fact
still remains by the record. And it is beyond doubt
awkward and embarrassing, because ill-natured men
can refer to it in moments of hatefulness-moments
unfortunately too frequent.
  Is it possible that this last creation was a mistake of
Infinite Charity and Eternal Truth That Charity
forbore to acknowledge that it was a mistake and that
Truth, in the very nature of its eternal essence, could
not say it was good It is so grave a matter that one
wonders Helvetius did not betray it, as he did that
other secret about which the philosophers had agreed
to keep mum, so that Herr Schopenhauer could write
about it as he did about that other. Herr Schopenhauer
certainly had the courage to speak with philosophical
asperity of the gentle sex. It may be because he was
never married. And then his mother wrote novels!
I have been surprised that he was not accused of prej-
udice.
                       

  But if all these everyday obstacles were absent there
would yet remain insurmountable reasons why women
can never be novel-readers in the sense that men are.
Your wife, for instance, or the impenetrable mystery
of womanhood that you contemplate making your wife
some day-can you, honestly, now, as a self-respecting
                        19

 











THE DELICIOUS VICE



husband, either de facto or in futuro, quite agree to
the spectacle of that adored lady sitting over across the
hearth from you in the snug room, evening after even-
ing, with her feet-however small and well-shaped-
cocked up on the other end of the mantel and one of
your own big colorado maduros between her teethl
We men, and particularly novel-readers, are liberal,
even generous, in our views; but it is not in human
nature to stand thatl
  Now, if a won-an can not put her feet up and smoke,
how in the name of heaven, can she seriously read
novels Certainly not sitting bolt upright, in order
to prevent the back of her new gown from rubbing the
chair; certainly not reclining upon a couch or in a
hammock. A boy, yet too young to smoke may
properly lie on his stomach on the floor and read novels,
but the mature veteran will fight for his end of the man-
tel as for his wife and children. It is physiological
necessity, inasmuch as the blood that would naturally
go to the lower extremities, is thus measurably lessened
in quantity and goes instead to the head, where a
state of gentle congestion ensues, exciting the brain
cells, setting free the imagination to roam hand in hand
with intelligence under the spell of the wizard. There
may be novel-readers who do not smoke at the game,
but surely they cannot be quite earnest or honest-
you had better put in writing all business agreements
with this sort.
                       

  No boy can ever hope to become a really great or
celebrated novel-reader who does not begin his appren-
ticeship under the age of fourteen, and, as I said before,
stick to it as long as he lives. He must learn to scorn
those frivolous, vacillating and purposeless ones who,
                         20

 










NOVEL-READERS



after beginning properly, turn aside and fritter away
their time on mere history, or science, or philosophy.
In a sense these departments of literature are useful
enough. They enable you often to perceive the most
cunning and profoundly interesting touches in fiction.
Then I have no doubt that, merely as mental exercise,
they do some good in keeping the mind in training for
the serious work of novel-reading. I have always
been grateful to Carlyle's "French Revolution," if
for nothing more than that its criss-cross, confusing
and impressive dullness enabled me to find more pleas-
ure in "A Tale of Two Cities" than was to be extracted
from any merit or interest in that unreal novel.
  This much however, may be said of history, that it is
looking up in these days as a result of studying the
spirit of the novel. It was not many years ago that
the ponderous gentlemen who write criticisms (chiefly
because it has been forgotten how to stop that ancient
waste of paper and ink) could find nothing more biting
to say of Macaulay's "England" than that it was "a
splendid work of imagination," of Froude's "Caesar"
that it was "magnificent political fiction," and of
Taine's "France" that "it was so fine it should have been
history instead of fiction." And ever since then the
world has read only these three writers upon these three
epochs-and many other men have been writing
history upon the same model. No good novel-reader
need be ashamed to read them, in fact. They are so
like the real thing we find in the greatest novels,
instead of being the usual pompous official lies of old-
time history, that there are flesh, blood and warmth
in them.
  In 1877, after the railway riots, legislative halls
heard the French Revolution rehearsed from all points
of view. In one capital, where I was reporting the
                         21

 











THE DELICIOUS VICE



debate, Old Oracle, with every fact at hand from "In
the beginning" to the exact popular vote in 1876,
talked two hours of accurate historical data from all
the French histories, after which a young lawyer replied
in fifteen minutes with a vivid picture of the popular
conditions, the revolt and the result. Will it be allow-
able, in the interest of conveying exact impression, to
say that Old Oracle was "swiped" off the earth No
other word will relieve my conscience. After it was all
over I asked the young lawyer where he got his French
history.
  "From Dumas," he answered, "and from critical
reviews of his novels. He's short on dates and docu-
ments, but he's long on the general facts."
  Why not Are not novels history
  Book for book, is not a novel by a competent,
conscientious novelist just as truthful a record of
typical men, manners and motives as formal history is
of official men, events and motives
  There are persons created out of the dreams of
genius so real, so actual, so burnt into the heart and
mind of the world that they have become historical.
Do they not show you, in the old Ursuline Convent at
New Orleans, the cell where poor Manon Lescaut sat
alone in tears And do they not show you her very
grave on the banks of the lake Have I not stood by
the simple grave at Richmond, Virginia, where never
lay the body of Pocahontas and listened to the story
of her burial there One of the loveliest women I ever
knew admits that every time she visits relatives at
Salem she goes out to look at the mound over the broken
heart of Hester Prynne, that dream daughter of genius
who never actually lived or died, but who was and is
and ever will be. Her grave can be easily pointed out,
but where is that of Alexander, of Themistocles, of
                        22

 











NOVEL-READERS



Aristotle, even of the first figure of history-Adam
Mark Twain found it for a joke. Dr. Hale was finally
forced to write a preface to "The Man Without a
Country" to declare that his hero was pure fiction and
that the pathetic punishment so marvelously described
was not only imaginary, but legally and actually
impossible. It was because Philip Nolan had passed
into history. I myself have met old men who knew sea
captains that had met this melancholy prisoner at sea
and looked upon him, had even spoken to him upon
subjects not prohibited. And these old men did not
hesitate to declare that Dr. Hale had lied in his denial
and had repudiated the facts through cowardice or
under compulsion from the War Department.
                       

  Indeed, so flexible, adaptable and penetrable is the
style, and so admirably has the use and proper direc-
tion of the imagination been developed by the school
of fiction, that every branch of literature has gained
from it power, beauty and clearness. Nothing has
aided more in the spread of liberal Christianity than
the remarkable series of "Lives of Christ," from Straus
to Farrar, not omitting particular mention of the singu-
larly beautiful treatment of the subject by Renan.
In all of these conscientious imagination has been
used, as it is used in the highest works of fiction, to
give to known facts the atmosphere and vividness of
truth in order that the spirit and personality of the
surroundings of the Savior of Mankind might be newly
understood by and made fresh to modern perception.
  Of all books it is to be said-of novels as well- that
none is great that is not true, and that cannot be true
which does not carry inherence of truth. Now every
book is true to some reader. The "Arabian Nights"
                         23

 











THE DELICIOUS VICE



tales do not seem impossible to a little child, they
only delight him. The novels of "The Duchess" seem
true to a certain class of readers, if only because they
treat of a society to which those readers are entirely
unaccustomed. "Robinson Crusoe" is a gospel to the
world, and yet it is the most palpably and innocently
impossible of books. It is so plausible because the
author has ingeniously or accidentally set aside the
usual earmarks of plausibility. When an author
plainly and easily knows what the reader does not know,
and enough more to continue the chain of seeming
reality of truth a little further, he convinces the reader
of his truth and ability. Those men, therefore, who
have been endowed with the genius almost uncon-
sciously to absorb, classify, combine, arrange and dis-
pense vast knowledge in a bold, striking or noble
manner, are the recognized greatest men of genius for
the simple reason that the readers of the world who
know most recognize all they know in these writers,
together with that spirit of sublime imagination that
suggests still greater realms of truth and beauty.
What Shakesepare was to the intellectual leaders of
his day, "The Duchess" was to countless immature
young folks of her day who were looking for "some-
thing to read."
  All truth is history, but all history is not truth.
Written history is notoriously no well-cleaner.



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