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wrote explaining the article, deprecating my sister's wrath, presenting to her another point of view. He wrote gently, mildly, with humility. That another tip for me. When the editors are superior to us it is not necessarily because we are inferior. It may be merely because we are n't subscribers.
“There are particular limitations to every publication, certain things which they will not accept, either in fiction or any other form. That is natural and reasonable. You don't expect to sell chairs to a man who deals in wheat, but there are also certain shadowy restrictions which pertain to all magazine writing.
The hackneyed joke of the happy ending is one of them. It is possible to sell a story with a sad ending, but it must be a very superior story, with other qualities that render it specially acceptable to the particular editor who takes it. No average story can go through with an unhappy ending in any magazine in this country. That I am ready to affirm.
“Now there are at least as many unhappy as happy things in life. Real stories end sadly at least as often as happily. Therefore art in this respect is practically excluded from the current magazines.
Minor prejudices cut some figure. I once had a story refused by one of the leading ten-cent magazines because the heroine
married a foreigner. That struck me as delicious. Another was refused because the heroine, arriving at a railroad station to visit some people in the country, and finding no one to meet her, drove to the place in company with a young doctor to whom she had never been introduced.
“The same editor told me with perfect frankness that he returned another story of mine because he had had his stenographer read it and it did n't interest her, and he refused another because it gave the Southern side in a Civil War story.
“This man was perfectly frank in giving his reasons for all refusals. Most of them won't do that, and you have to beat about in the dark and formulate reasons for your failures from the general trend of what goes through and what comes back.
“The funniest thing I ever had happen to me was after an editor had refused several things of mine. Then there came into my hands a letter of introduction to the man who owned the publication, from a very dear friend of his. I sent the letter to the owner and an article.
"After a while I got a letter from my editor. He said that he had perused the article handed him by Mr. Blank with much pleasure, that he had accepted it, and that he congratulated me on my improvement. Was n't that funny ?” The New York Sun.
A. E. Parker.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BOOKS.
Our incorrigible tendency toward catching half-glimpses and side-lights of truth renders the working of human opinion, unsatisfactory though it be, a rather fascinating study. Mr. Le Gallienne's enthusiastic volume, “How to Get the Best Out.of
Books," and Miss Repplier's iconoclastic essay on
“Our Belief in Books," appearing as they did at very nearly the same time, make entertaining companion-pieces. According to Miss Repplier, the magic word "books" raises up in the public mind a
mysterious world of might – awesome a demand for recreation.” That literature powers of light or of darkness. Books, she polite literature — is for entertainment is would have us understand, are to the popu- Agnes Repplier's estimate, and indeed it is lar consciousness an assemblage of house- an admirable entertainment, as many inhold gods for our benediction, or a fetich for stances will prove beyond a peradventure ; our bane ; and her brilliant raillery has but why — why must its uses be limited much of truth to play upon, although, in the to any single motive, except, indeed, the one modern decadence of reverence, even ever-present motive of expressing the BOOKS do not inspire all of the old-time author's mind ? The author - if we view
But they inspire it in Mr. Le Gal- him collectively — is a man of many minds, lienne. Not the old bishop of Durham, and his results in literature have whose rhapsody Miss Repplier quotes as her chameleon-like variety. He is a humorist, a text, is more sweeping in his lettered poet, a philosopher, a reformer ; and he ascriptions of praise than is Richard Le Gal- writes according to the color of his mind. lienne :
To attempt to label him either as enter“ What are my books ? My friends, my loves,
tainer or as teacher were to emulate the My church, my tavern, and my only wealth ; famous company of blind men who went of My garden ; yes, my flowers, my bees, my doves, old to see the elephant. The story goes My only doctors, and my only health.”
as in the rhyme of John G. Saxe — that one With this bit of his own verse-making Mr. of these unseeing beings chanced to catch Le Gallienne prefaces one of his chapters. the animal by his “squirming trunk," and We must not here take him too seriously, at once proclaimed him like to a snake ; however, for from the testimony of his another touched his thin, flat ear and probooks themselves it is plain that he has other nounced him like a fan, and still another interests than those of letters alone.
who fell against his heavy side thought him the point to be made in weighing the com- "marvelously like a wall.” It is no less parative values of things lies in this blind to circumscribe the author to any one thought, – that it is not only, or chiefly, that function of his multiform office. literature is not our all : we cannot say that Perhaps, however, we should not take it is even our first : it is the comment upon Miss Repplier's lightness much more serilife, and life is more than its commentary. ously than Mr. Le Gallienne's seriousness. The constant and unwritten commentary that She must know, it would seem, of the one's own mind affords is itself, indeed, a weighty influence of literature as a whole – dearer possession than the recorded an influence which Schlegel rates above all thoughts of others.
other achievements of a nation. I should Miss Repplier rings all the changes both be rather glad, perhaps, to think with her of the worship and of the arraignment of that “Uncle Tom's Cabin” was not at all books; they were burned, she says, with responsible for the Civil War – the idea is heretics, avoided as corrupters, or lauded to rather oppressive — but her argument is not the skies as saviors of mankind. But the altogether convincing. “When,” she says, lady doth protest too much. There is some- “under the impetus of a profound and thing real behind all this Belief in Books, powerful emotion, the mighty will of a great however well it lends itself to `her lively event finds expression in literature
- or at irony, and although it is directly opposed least in letters - the writer's mind peeds to her own view of polite literature. For like a greyhound along the track of public this viewpoint of her own she finds a cham- sentiment. It does not create the sentipion back in the past in Rev. Mark ment, it does not appreciably intensify it ; Patterson : “Books,” he says in her quota- but it enables people to perceive more tion, are written in response to a demand clearly the nature of the course to which for recreation by minds roused to intelli- they stand committed. These sympathetic gence, but not to activity.” “In response to · triumphs are sometimes mistaken for liter
ary triumphs. They are often thought to lead the chase they follow."
There is reason here as far as it goes. Rev. W. S. Rainsford, in describing the great religious awakening that followed his preaching in Toronto, many years ago, does not consider himself the originator of the movement. “The time was ripe," he said, “ when I went into Canada." There we have it – “The time was ripe." The fuel was laid (to change metaphors), everything was in readiness for the spark of his word which was to kindle the spiritual flame. But the fame was kindled by the spark; there was not the ignition of spontaneous combustion : he preached to souls prepared, and the revival followed. The very fact that a writer's mind “speeds along the track of public sentiment”
argues an especially powerful influence for him. The way is prepared beforehand for his triumph. The fuel is laid, the torch is in his hand, and the blaze may be expected. The impetus that a book may
ain through this mental preparation for its favorable reception is enough to give pause to the precipitate and to inspire the sincere.
But perhaps Miss Repplier is hardly aware how much her own mind “ follows the tracks of public sentiment.” The tendency to make light of literature and of life is not original with her. The grave belief in books which afiords her so much merriment is now but a meagre survival of mediaeval days, when, as we have been pleasantly reminded by a recent magazine article (“The Mediaeval Library,” in Harper's Monthly ), the laboriously-made volumes were few and precious - treasures to be fastened with chains to their shelves ; when librarians were sworn into office on the holy gospels” ; and when their sacred charge of written pages were denominated “the food” and “weapons of souls.” Miss Repplier's irony harks far back, indeed.
Something of that old spirit seems to have been still abroad in Wordsworth's time. His recommendation of a “wise passiveness” of mind was given in supposititious answer to one of the still-lingering book
worshipers of his day. This is the sup-
To Beings else forlorn and blind.
From dead men to their kind." Do we meet with anything approaching this spirit in recent times — except it be from the few who, like Mr. Le Gallienne, carry forward to us the scent of the old gardens of literature ? There is enough remaining of the seriousness of old to save lis, indeed, from utter levity, and there are and always will be individuals in need of the adjuration to cast off care ; but as a community the present fashion of mankind is to throw over the ballast unbidden; and while there is a kind of seriousness peculiar
own times, it is the kind that is found among the contests of our sporting community and, superlatively, in the mad game of money-making. There degenerate novelists, too, whose seriousness has aroused Miss Repplier's just derision by throwing themselves into their morbid themes with the zeal of saintly enthusiasts, advocating lawlessness of mind and morals with all hysterical gravity. Of the practical seriousness of social anarchy, also, the world has had too tangible evidence. Revolt, disorder, and the gaming spirit bear out Miss Repplier's charge.
Among the signs of reaction from the oldtime gravities may be classed, perhaps, the growing tendency (of which Miss Repplier herself is an instance ) to decry what has been sometimes called the “conscious moral purpose” in imaginative literature - a phenomenon, I confess, which is insufferable at its worst, and only, perhaps, to be really advocated at its best ; but its best is a wholly normal and truly admirable thing. The authors who make objection to a serious purpose in polite literature are mainly, in my reading experience, those whose own books do not suggest a type of mind that tends to express truth in parables. Mr. Crawford's many fascinating tales and Miss Repplier's unfailingly brilliant talk may be the products
which we desire from them, but we like other matter from other minds, and we sometimes have dearer preferences.
Mr. Le Gallienne's volume, “How to Get the Best Out of Books,” is to me worth while, if only because of the concluding chapter on “The Novel and Novelists of To-day.” Of Meredith, Tolstoy, and Björnsen he says : “All three have used the novel to far finer issues than even the most classical entertainment. In their hands the novel is the parable of the modern world.” Then he chooses instances of other and lesser authors whose novels also contain good meat. “There
are few successful novelists to-day,” he remarks, "that are not psychologists, and sociologists as well.” Mr. Le Gallienne treats of the novel with the same comprehensiveness that one would use for the essay; and why should he not ? The foremost idea connected with the novel may be entertainment, perhaps, but so is
edification the primal association with the essay. Yet the essay can entertain, and even amuse, and that a novel may be replete with psychic or intellectual meaning is a fact attested by many more instances than even Mr. Le Gallienne gives. As a form of literature it may have lost some solemnity with the years, but it has multiplied in significance."
Mr. Le Gallienne may be, perhaps, a little serious over his shelves of fiction, but the simple fact remains that in this or in any other field of literature it is the character of the author's mind (to speak sweepingly) that determines the character of his book and the book's intrinsic value ; though its yield of fruit depends in great measure upon the soil into which its seed shall fall. These statements are the barest of truisms; but there are occasions when truisms fall naturally into line. NEWBURGH, N. Y.
Leila R. Ramsdell.
EDITORIAL TALKS WITH CONTRIBUTORS.
XXXI. - BY THE EDITOR OF THE SKETCH
Book. The Sketch Book is to appear monthly at Manchester, N. H., as a booklet of sketches in prose, poetry, and illustration, containing original and other matter inspired by the beauty of Nature, and particularly the joy of life among the mountains and valleys, fields and woods, lakes and streams, and seashore of New Hampshire.
It is meant to be a little messenger for the tired in mind or in body, telling of the refreshing, health-giving influences of outdoor life throughout the year ; for the lover of Nature, telling of panorama and scenic view, of forest rambles and walks a-field ; for the student of Nature, telling of bird neighbors, trees, and wayside flowers; and
for the summer guest, telling of restfulness and recreation. Contributions to its pages
are desired from writers in sympathy with state and national interest in the welfare of New Hampshire as an "outdoor life” state, and the range of contributions includes such topics as scenic attractions, advantages for summer homes, railroad, carriage, and automobile routes, hotel facilities, roads and farms, seashore, mountains and lakes, fishing, tramping and mountain climbing, forestry, botany, geology, ornithology, and kindred topics incident to Nature and outdoor life.
Thousands of pleasure-seekers have taken away exquisite memories of "the vision as they saw it" of some part of New Hampshire's diversified beauty.
The purpose of the Sketch Book is to crystallize these memories in such form that they may reach others who are yet to know that America has no more beautiful, healthful, or restful a Canaan than the Granite state.
Writers are invited to contribute articles for publication relative to Nature and .outdoor life as they may have in mind some delightful experience of life in the open, in either prose or poetry ; but short prose articles are most desired, — what side of the outdoor life most appeals to you ; about a vacation stay in the country, and the associations found there ; about ? season among the breakers and the surf, and what the sea waves told; about tramping over duskymantled mountains, among hemlock and spruce ; about a week or a month in camp, “just to be lazy"; about dropping a line into lake or stream, and tell what happened ; about a hunt for game, and with what success ; about looking up an abandoned farm
summer home, and the thoughts of bygone days it brought to mind ; about going back to the old farm, and how different it seemed from city life. These all make interesting articles, told in your own way, for those to read who have not “found the way,” but have nevertheless the spirit of the open.
Little stories about native birds (their habits and habitat) and about wild flowers, come across in the Nature student's rambles, are desired.
Articles need not necessarily pertain to New Hampshire, but to any state in the union, as well, though contributors are requested to suggest locality to which reference is made.
Manuscripts may be sent on approval, and when an acceptance is made of them a cash reward will be forwarded to the author, with due credit given ; otherwise they will be returned.
Arthur E. Vogel. MANCHESTER, N. H.
WORDS THAT BURN.
Ah what the form divine !
Rose Aylmer, all were thine.
May weep, but never see,
I consecrate to thee.
'There are few cultivated families in whose library may not be found one, two, or half a dozen books of sonnets, each provided with its fourteen lines. Granting for the sake of argument that the sonnet is the very choicest type of poetic literature, what comes next to it? Is there no department of poetry containing work still more concentrated, yet equally worthy to be followed up for its gems ? Is there none equally good for occupation and even for study in the summer hours that are coming ? I remember happening in upon a little group of poets at Aldrich's office during his days of Atlantic editorship, and they were debating some such theme, and all agreed that among English poems, Landor's one-versed “Rose Aylmer" fell upon the ear as the most perfect, even if one could scarcely say why. It runs as follows :