« ForrigeFortsæt »
calmly on our escape. It is as though we had just awakened from a fever. We have been unconscious, we remember nothing of it but the paroxysm in the midst of which we awoke, and the beating of the heart which did not at once subside. Surely we have been in a far country, and the true self has not been there to comfort us. But now in the peace of reunion, myself and I walk along the muddied road or in the swampy woods, taking delight in all things.
On returning all was found different. A power able to move mountains had been at work. That heavy,oppressive room had been expanded. My spirit entering was not forced to stoop, but exulted to find the walls widening and the ceiling towering. The dingy and murky atmosphere had been expelled by radiance and color. I stood in a palace so light that it seemed a-tip-toe for flight. True, the books were still there, but how they had shrunk. The trespassing power, whoever he was, had compressed them from their truly encyclopædic dimensions into pocket editions. I took one up. It looked strangely new and was as interesting as a leaf or a flower. At the same time it wore a rather penitent air, as though it had done me injustice. I greeted it all the more affectionately, as divided friends that kiss again with tears. All was renovated. The Tithonean Minervą above the book-case, (my raven), had given place to an everyouthful Minerva. Father Time is not now scattering but amassing golden grains, each one differently jewelled. The philosophers and poets, the linguists and scientists, speak comfortably from the shelf. And what was that that echoed and died along the sky? Not the reverberating, idiotic laugh of an Aristophanes, but the very music of the spheres.
Amos N. Wilder.
I thought you'd felt a word or two of mine,
But God knew I was wrong, as I know now,
Two travellers, I had dreamt, on one long road,
Maxwell E. Foster.
-One of the busiest corners of the busiest city in the world is Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street. To very few is the noisy corner other than a passing incident, a delay of a moment until a blue-uniformed Moses makes with his Aaron's rod a passage through the Red Sea of motors. When they have crossed dry-shod the familiar miracle is forgotten and they go their ways as before.
Yet, in spite of all the noise and bustle of the crossing, events of far deeper importance take place in that great, silent building nearby, the Public Library.
A little after five one evening in late April a shop girl, going downtown, crossed Forty-second Street during a halt in the traffic. She might have waited there for years without seeing a familiar face. The crowded corner was very lonely to her. She did not wait, but hurrying as one going to a rendezvous and eager to lose no moment of it, she ran up the broad steps and walked quickly into the vaulted reading-room. On the crowded pavement outside she was a lonely shop-girl, plainly dressed and among strangers. Here she was Edith Morton among her friends. To-day her companion would be Mrs. Browningand soon she was seated with "Sonnets from the Portuguese” open before her at the first page.
It had long been her custom when she had finished her day of buttons at Sheen's Department Store, to slip into the cool, quiet reading-room and talk with some poet for a while before going to supper at the cheap boarding-house. Only one poem, not too long, and then talk with the poet. At first she had taken books back to her room, but the rattling piano downstairs and the harsh arguments across the hall made her only read words when she needed Beauty. Prose she took back, but after that, never poetry.
She read the first sonnet slowly once, then again.
"The sweet years, the dear and wished for years..
Edith Morton thought of Arundel, the village in Ohio where she had spent her girlhood. Her mother had died when she was very young and she had been brought up by her father, the minister of the little community. From both she had inherited a love of books and in them she had found her companionships and, after she had passed the humble powers of the local school, her education under the tutelage of the great dead continued. There had been little in common between her and the villagers; and she saw no others. Still, with her books and dreams, she had been happy until her father's sudden death. Against the remonstrances of the kind but uncomprehending people, she went to New York, giving almost all that was left to her for the ticket.. In the great city, she had thought, she would find enjoyment, congenial friends, and the refinement she so desired. Then the chatter of Sheen's shop-girls, the commonplaces of the Eighth Street boarding-house, the noise, the cheapness, the vulgarities, until she had found this Temple of Thought.
At times like this, when some phrase brought back the shadowing years, she had often felt the need of expressing her emotion and had scribbled, in pencil, some comment on the margin. Now she wrote, "Beauty is balm for loneliness, but not its cure."
Next day she returned to read the second sonnet and, glancing at the first, saw beneath her pencilled sentence another in a strong masculine hand, "Two lonelinesses together may change into a friendship." Before leaving that night she had written with trembling fingers, "As God parts, so sometimes He mysteriously brings together."
This was the beginning of a strange and delicate friendship. Sonnet by sonnet they read the little book, yet never seeing one another; they talked without hearing each other's voice; friends though strangers. Then in their mutual reading they came to the XXVI Sonnet.
"I lived with visions for my company
Edith wrote, "This is my word to you with all my heart. I can say no more."
Together they read to the end; but so delicate was their friendship that they had no thought of mentioning a meeting face to face, or even agreeing what they would read together next. So, when the book was finished, they met no more in thought. At first the sorrow of her loss seemed as bitter to Edith as would have been the death of this friend if she had known his face. But the memory was hers at least; and always she opened each new book with a hushed wonder if again her romance would return. It was a perfect thing, this memory of hers, flawless, complete. The friendship would never be dulled by Luman failings and misunderstandings. She was happier now than ever before.
One day, weeks later, she was seated at a table with an unread volume before her. Across from her, reading Shelley and writing on the margin in a strong masculine hand, was a woman of about thirty. But Edith's eyes were intent upon her own book; she did not see the queer little smile on the face opposite her as the woman rose, looked down upon her, and-quietly left the room. J. Hall Paxton.
Liberty and the News. By Walter Lippmann. (Harcourt, Brace, and Howe, 1920.)
Who does not know what the result would be, if the entire machinery of a court was devoted to the deception of the jury; if there were no surveillance of the evidence or no verification of the integrity of the witnesses and their testimony. Only a short period of existence by such a court would be tolerated before society would establish one which was determined to obtain and act upon facts, and facts alone. Notwithstanding the apparent impossibility of such a situation, it may well be compared to the position of the public in this, and most other countries, to-day when it is required to sit as a jury in deciding great national and even international problems. Under the present system of newspaper service, it is clearly impossible for the public to know the truth, for either the facts are so unsparingly censored by various interested agencies that by the time they reach the press their true significance is no longer discernible, or in an effort to make up for a lack of facts news agencies find it profitable to dispatch opinions, conjectures or even lies! "Few episodes in recent history are more poignant than that of the British Prime Minister, sitting at the breakfast table with the morning's paper before him, protesting that he can not do the sensible thing in regard to Russia because a powerful newspaper proprietor has drugged the public."
The finding of a remedy for this dangerous situation is the challenge which Walter Lippmann throws out to the public and the press of to-day. While the author hints at various possible cures such as "a pooling of money for a news agency," and concludes that "the salvation lies ultimately in the fusion of newsstructure by men with a new training and outlook," he frankly admits that he has not yet found a satisfactory remedy.
G. M. D.