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Rodrigues Ottolengui, the author of "An Artist in Crime," "A Conflict of Evidence," and "A Modern Wizard,"-three of the latest, most successful, and subtle detective stories,is slightly built, dark complexioned, and of medium height, a close student, an ardent and intense literary worker, and the possessor of a keenly analytical and logical mind. His mental qualities are apparent to his readers in his work, as well as to his friends, who also appreciate fully his personal magnetism. In his profession as a dentist he has achieved enviable success, not alone in his practical work, but, as a result of this, in the production of highly commended scientific essays and text-books.

Dr. Ottolengui was born in Charleston, S. C., in 1861. He obtained his early education in that city, and came North in 1876, receiving his diploma conferring the degree of M. D. S. at Albany, N. Y., at the age of twenty-two. He

No. 7.

has always practiced in New York City. He began contributing stories and sketches to the daily and Sunday local papers in Charleston in 1874. His "Switchman's Story," published in a book of recitations about 1884, has been widely read and recited. Dr. Ottolengui has contributed a large number of articles on dentistry to the leading journals in this country, and many of the productions of his pen have been translated into foreign languages.

His first serious work was a text-book for

dental colleges, entitled Methods of Filling Teeth." The illustrations were drawn from 240 models made for the purpose by Dr. Ottolengui. He received $1,000 in cash and a handsome royalty for the manuscript of this book. The work is chiefly characterized by its analytical methods, every one of which has been practically accomplished by the author in his personal practice. The originality and novelty of the work gave it at once an educational popularity as flattering to its author as it was valuaable to the dental profession.

Dr. Ottolengui's first published distinctly literary effort was "An Artist in Crime," which was brought out by G. P. Putnam's Sons, of New York, in the autumn of 1892. The book pleased the public and the critics generally, having received but two derogatory reviews. Before this Dr. Ottolengui had written three romances, one of which has since been rewritten and published, while the others are lying fallow. "A Conflict of Evidence," published by the Putnams in the summer of 1893, was his next book to appear. These two works are narratives only, the author's first real attempt at novelwriting being "A Modern Wizard," which has been before the public but a few weeks.

Dr. Ottolengui's methods of work are characteristic. He uses no notes; the plan of a story

Copyright, 1894, by WILLIAM H. HILLS. All rights reserved.

is first mapped out in his mind, the theme is decided upon, and the central characters are studied out. He is then ready to write, the original draft being made on a typewriter. One whole chapter is written at each sitting, and no part of this manuscript is corrected or altered in any way until the whole story is finished. Then the manuscript is revised and edited with pen and ink and copied over again on the typewriter. The manuscript is again edited, and this time all punctuation and spelling are as carefully scrutinized as if it were the final page proof. Dr. Ottolengui corrects all his own proof. He lays great stress on the elementary requirements of authorship, endeavoring to have his language grammatical, and striving to avoid errors of this kind. He writes one chapter, averaging about fifteen typewritten pages, in three hours.

In beginning a story Dr. Ottolengui starts with a motif and a problem to prove. Each individual character is modelled in his mind and thought over until it seems a living presWith the theme and the characterization


in his mind, the author occupies the position of an amanuensis, and the situations are a logical result of the action of the story as it progresses.

Although laying no pretence to a professional knowledge of the law, the medico-legal portions of Dr. Ottolengui's writing, especially shown in the trial scene in "A Modern Wizard," are scientific and correct, and have received high praise from both lawyers and physicians. He never hesitates to probe a reference to the last and latest authority. Many of the seemingly mysterious effects prominently apparent in his stories are directly traceable to known causes, and the deft and popular way in which the author leads the reader to an easy understanding of the matter in hand relieves the latter at once of any misgivings that he may be getting into deep water. Dr. Ottolengui's stories are remarkable for their ingenuity of conception, originality of situations, cleverness of plot, accuracy of detail, and the popularity they have made for their author.


Stephen L. Coles.


It is all very well to have your story or article embellished by illustrations; the pictures make it more attractive, and the young author feels a pride that his thought should be more fully transmitted to the admiring public by means of the illustrator's art; yet there are times when in an agony the suffering author would cry, Don't; oh, don't.

It is bad enough when the creature you have made the embodiment of all charms and graces, a maiden fair and slender, appears in a gown the style of which dates some two years back, and with a physique that is anything but "willowy."

This is a trifle light as air, however, compared with the atrocious cruelty of depicting a youthful hero first in short trousers, then in long and very whole ones, and later in knee breeches,

Think of the

and very ragged ones at that. feelings of that boy at being put back!

Yet such a cruel thing as this has actually been done. In extenuation, let it be said that while it was the same boy, he appeared in three separate stories, and possibly each was placed in the hands of a different illustrator. Yet consistency in his apparel is something which should have been seen to.

The same editor accepted the three stories, and they followed each other quite closely. In the first the boy was very small, a newsboy, in short trousers. In the second he had been promoted to office boy; he had grown considerably, in fact was quite unrecognizable, but this might have been attributed to his rise in life. But in the third story, alas! he was again a ragged youngster in knickerbockers.

The general reader may have passed these blunders by unnoticed, but to the author they were annoying. At best, one's conception can be but inadequately expressed by the illusCan not the author, then, in justice de


mand that his work be exempt from all attempts at illustration, if illustration invites these glaring inconsistencies? Harriet Caryl Cox.



Naturally, most of the discussions in THE WRITER are on the composition of prose, though now and then one has crept in on that of poetry. I say poetry rather than verse, because if verse is not poetry, it has no business to exist though it does in large quantities. But I have a word to say on how not to write it, illustrated by one or two dreadful examples. The lesson is by no means without use even for the writers of prose.

Modern poetry —very modern poetry — has two fundamental divisions. One is the old, and fortunately still the chief, in which the expression of an idea is the primary object; if the idea is a poor one, that is the intellectual misfortune of the author, but it is usually the best he can do at the time. In this sort the verbal phrasing, however carefully wrought for intrinsic beauty, is still subordinate, a mere means of developing and adorning the germinal idea. But with Keats, to whom poetry was primarily a luxurious titillation of the senses, came in another species, the exact reverse of this: one in which the words are the first thought, and the meaning is wholly subordinate, and often grudgingly stinted of care, as being only an unavoidable hindrance. This class, when full'blown, as in the unlovely fungus I shall use for illustration, is, in spite of a surface pretence of meaning, essentially gibberish, like "Jabberwocky" or the "Laura Matilda" verses in "Rejected Addresses "; that is, while any one word means or may mean something, there is no certainty that any two put together will, nor any consistent effort to make them. The mosaic is not in design an artistic pattern wrought in stone, but a collection of pretty

stones which cannot be dumped in at absolute random and gain acceptance as art, and must therefore be given some sort of arrangement.

Much of "Endymion " is of this order: there are sections of it which stand out dazzlingly solid, like diamonds in a fog; but after reading it intermittently for many years, I do not know what the bulk of it is about, and have never seen any one who did. The Quarterly Reviewers had much cause, and are unjustly reviled. Keats' later work was different, though even the godlike "Hyperion" shows the taint; but he had created a type too grateful to sensuous temperaments and unexacting intellects to let die, and the afflicting school of poetic wordpainters and colorists is the result. Care must be taken not to confound it with the work of the word-music school, which often ends in exactly the same result, but by a different road. The latter is rather the offspring of the lyre; Poe was an eminent master in it, and by his own confession pushed it to the confines of sheer jargon to make words perform the functions of pure music irrespective of the intellectual idea. He was too great an artist quite to pass the border, but in "Ulalume" he went to the very verge. Tennyson has done the same in "Claribel" and elsewhere; Swinburne has written reams of musical words without ideas; James Whitcomb Riley has tried it in "Flying Islands of the Night."

The class I mean, in which the primary thought is not so much the music as the color, the pictorial suggestiveness, or the decorative effect of the words, has for obvious reasons not had nearly so many eminent masters as the musical branch. Song is of all time and for all

the world, and music is often meaning enough; while the other is of the few and for the day. Keats, the first artificer, is still the greatest (do not forget, however, that the parts of his work which have really lived and are read are of the other sort); William Morris comes next, but he is not an extreme instance. The mass of such work is done by a vast shoal of small-fry, ephemerides by the nature of their work, because there is nothing to please the mind or the heart after the senses have had their fleeting fillip.

One of the most perfect examples in modern verse-writing lies before me. It is on a prospectus of "The Bayadere, and Other Sonnets," by the late Francis S. Saltus; a limited édition de luxe. The attempt since his death to "boom" this unchoice spirit - who, with money, cultivation, travel, all the good gifts of fortune, snarled at life and an unappreciative world till his early and needless death-into a neglected and undervalued genius, a sort of Burns, a "glory-andshame" of American letters, is one of the most ludicrous episodes in literary history. It is almost entirely the work of the bachelor clubmen of New York, who are numerous enough to have a weekly organ; a class as one-sided and distorted in one direction in their views of both life and literature as young girls are in the other, and for just the same reason exclusive confinement to one part of life, and consequent ignorance of the facts of the other. The one class will not believe that physical passion has any rights or needs to exist, the other believes the universe exists only for it and in its manifestations. The latter's worship of Mr. Saltus is inspired partly by his verse being directed toward the nerves of sensation, but mainly for they do not as a body care more for poetry or understand it better than the average of other people, which is very little — by his having put more disgustingly nasty and physically revolting images into verse than any other being who ever wrote in English. This is accounted "virility," and "frankness," and "freedom from Philistinism," and "devotion to Art as Art" (I shall show in a moment how much the art was worth ), and "emancipation from the fetters of smug morality"; and he is held to be a great man and a great poet for it, without


further examination. He was, in fact, merely an industrious verbal bricklayer, of little artistic variety beyond the ordinary mechanical manipulations, no analytic power, and wholly guiltless of an original idea; but with immense fecundity of language, great width of reading, a good deal of raw pictorial sense, and not a bad aim when he wished to hit a sensory nerve. During his lifetime I had his poems to select from, literally by the hundred, for he had the remorseless facility of a sausage machine. They were all labored brick-and-mortar verse, full of culture and the entire contents of the paint-box, and so exactly alike and so absolutely devoid of a spark of fire or spontaneity that there was no reason for accepting or rejecting any one that would not hold good of the whole. Moreover, they were put together with no real care for syntax, coherence, consistency, or sense of any kind: the chief consideration was that the words should sound well by themselves, and scan and rhyme; and the flattest self-contradictions, even in the same line, never ruffled his complacent admiration for his work. I could choose no better sample than the titlesonnet printed on the circular, "The Bayadere"; and I invite attention to it as showing what the Howell Gibbonses, and even the Van Bibbers, regard as great poetry, and more especially to show how not to write poetry if you wish it to live.



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(1) Near strange weird temples, where the Ganges' tide Bathes doomed Lahore, I watched, by spice-trees fanned, Her agile form in some quaint saraband, (4) A marvel of passionate chastity and pride. Nude to the loins, superb and leopard-eyed, With fragrant roses in her jeweled hand, Before some Kaât-drunk Rajah, mute and grand, (8) Her flexile body bends, her white feet glide. (9) The dull Kinoors throb one monotonous tune, (10) And wail with zeal as in a hasheesh trance: (11) Her scintillant eyes in vague, ecstatic charm (12) Burn like black stars below the Orient moon, (13) While the suave, dreamy languor of the dance (14) Lulls the grim, drowsy cobra on her arm. (1.) "Strange weird" is mere pleonasm and padding. Anything weird is strange: weird things are not part of common life.

(2.) Trees shade people, but don't fan them. And who is it that is fanned-the writer or the dancer? The clumsy syntax gives no clue.

(3.) Why "some"? A saraband is a saraband, as a minuet is a minuet. And how

"quaint"? The word cannot be twisted into any meaning that will make sense of applying it to a dance; and if there could be a quaint dance, of all things on earth a dirty Oriental dance is least entitled to the name.

(4.) This is probably the most nonsensical line in the language. How in the world can any woman be a marvel of chastity? She can't more than be chaste; most women are chaste, and even nuns are too common to be a marvel. And how a marvel of pride? Pride over nothing is the commonest of things. And if a woman could be a marvel of chastity, and of passionate chastity (that is, resentful of the least hint of defilement), and of passionate chastity and pride, one of the creatures to whom it would be most absurd to apply it would be a half-naked slave girl dancing an indecent dance before a drunken Eastern prince, of whom she would generally be a concubine. Or perhaps it is not she, but her agile form or the saraband that is a marvel as stated: the syntax makes one reading as grammatical as the other.

(5.) I do not believe Mr. Saltus ever saw a leopard's eyes; he put this in because it sounds well and rhymes.

(6.) "Fragrant roses" is padding. All roses are at least conventionally supposed to be fragrant.

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(10.) " Wail with zeal" is a ludicrously incongruous image, recalling the mourners at an Irish wake, or a castigated child with his fists in his eyes, not anything Oriental. I do not happen to know what a kinoor is; but presuming it to be a musical instrument, how can it eat hasheesh or go into a trance, and why would it wail any more zealously if it did? And if it is a man, men do not, I believe, wail zealously when in a trance, hasheesh or any other. And how can either of these throb

monotonously and waii zealously at the same time? Throbbing and wailing, or zeal and monotony, are not very compatible processes, and are certainly not harmonious epithets.

(11.) How can anything scintillant be vague? What sort of a thing is a vague sparkle? And of all things, what is a vague ecstasy? The three adjectives swear at each other; the author evidently never cared what sort of an internecine war they had when he once got them together. And as "charm" is the effect the eyes produce on beholders, what has "ecstatic," which is her own inner feeling, got to do with it anyhow? It is like speaking of a uræmic fascination or a choking benevolence of visage; and even if it had, how could it be at once vague and ecstatic?

(12.) I should like to see a black star or a black fire. Also, I have heard of shining like a star and of burning like several things, but never of burning like a star, which is an image without coherence or pertinence. And how in the world can anything burn vaguely? That unhappy adjective "vague" is pure vague stuffing, and throws everything around it out of gear, for it fits nowhere. And what does the line mean to begin with? Are her eyes burning below the moon? We are not told that this is a moonlight scene, and if it is, where else could they burn, and what is the difference between the Orient moon and other moons? Or are they burning "like stars [which are] below the moon"? If so, why below rather than above? One is as accurate as the other.

(13.) "Suave" is a misuse of language in this relation: it suggests at once a diplomat or a shopkeeper, being used for tempers and manners, not sensations. One never speaks of the suave taste of a glass of smooth wine, or the suave feeling of dropping off to sleep, but of a man of suave disposition or suave manners. This clumsy heap of epithets is gross padding, and adds nothing to the effect.

(14.) If the snake is lulled, the natural result is drowsiness more padding; and "grim" is not especially graphic of a snake, and serves little purpose but that of metre. Adjective for adjective, he could have found much better ones than these.

And it is these incongruous random heaps of

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