Call Home the Heart
Surely now at year’s end the Pilgrim’s motto is illumined by the universal momentary awareness of the passing of time… Pilgrims we are, members of a pilgrim people, whom God gives marks along the way beside which we may take pause for a moment and reﬂect… Such a milestone in our journey is New Year’s Eve 1937… Tonight we know again that man is always a traveler and that the winding road is ever a symbol of his life… Though year beyond year towers dark a voice from long ago sounds clear and true: “Strangers and pilgrims” — “we have no continuing city.”… The strong men and women in the world are those whose life is a continuous New Year’s Eve — men women in whom the sense of being pilgrims and strangers in the earth is most vivid… Theirs is the God-given power to see the temporal in its true setting of the timeless… they alone do not become citizens of this world, and they alone know that must work while it is day, ere the night cometh when no man can work… For them alone life is the tentative trumpet which ﬁnds its last meaning only in the matin choir on the other side…
Now at year’s end we inquire again concerning our needs for the way which lies before… It is the ultimate wisdom to know that the things we actually need are very few — but they are very great… “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three.”… Without them we have no glorious past, no blessed memory, no sure future, and no eternal destiny… Perhaps it is the tenderness of God that places Christmas and year’s end so near to each other… We go into the hidden year in the light of the serried ranks of angelic choirs singing of hope and forgiveness and joy… It may be a heavy world tonight — black, outworn, and hopeless — but the ﬂaming ways of God are as near and clear as they were on that ﬁrst Holy Night… The angels did not go away forever… We walk with them unawares, and a pierced Hand lies in ours… Theirs, ours and His is the great companionship of solitude and the warm voice silence…
With Him life can never become too tame or too terrifying… He brings courage and adventure, and takes away the fear of the secret years… When men say that the future is uncertain they forget that there are more futures than one, and some are very certain… One of whose coming we can be sure is the end of our pilgrimage — ten, or thirty, or ﬁfty years away… God’s grace will be strong then and the end will be like the lighting of a candle in a holy place… Nothing uncertain and fearsome there… There is another future which also holds no fear… That is today and some of tomorrow
— the steps which lie just (head… We know what we must do today and tomorrow, and we have no great fear that we shall not be able to carry on until sunset… But all the days that lie between these two futures?… They are full of darkness and perilous bridges and rough weather… They are heaped black with foreboding… And for these — above all else in life — we need Him Who knows the way and is the Way… Lord and Leader, Friend and End, He alone can make our pilgrimage a prelude in the same key as the trumpets on the other side… The Pilgrim bids you Godspeed to the next milestone — and beyond… Beyond the last milestone there is only the glory of His redeem ing Presence…
Page Mr. Barnum
When these lines reach our readers, another Old Gold contest will have passed into the annals of the world’s inanities… We are still diz2y from the last one… The P. Lorillard Company, whose Old Gold cigarettes were lagging be hind the other standard brands in sales last year, hit on the idea of setting people to solving picture puzzles for $200,000 in prizes… Five million people responded, canny men and women sold guaranteed answers, and when the smoke cleared away, 54,000 had a perfect score. .. . There was consternation at the Lorillard oﬃces as after two more elimination contests and amid rising hysteria, there were still 8,100 perfect scores… In despair the judges awarded the thousand prizes, ranging from $100,000 to $10, on the basis of letters which described the blessings of the contest… The ﬁnal winners had a beautiful geographical, sex, and class distribution…
That is the story… The cream of the jest, according to a letter in The Nation, “lies in the cleverness of the promoters in getting the public not only to pay the entire cost of the enterprise but to fatten the company’s bank account appreciably.”… Each contestant turned in three wrappers with each group of answers or forty-ﬁve wrappers in all… Setting the number of earnest contestants at two million, their investment in the scheme was approximately $11,250,000… The company’s proﬁt, roughly ten per cent, would be $1,125,000… Deducting cash prizes of $200,000 would leave a balance of $925,000 for other costs — and proﬁt… How Barnum would have enjoyed that…
Book and Such
Once upon a time we lived and worked with men who, in the pursuit of the scant rewards of scholarship, had followed some elusive wisp of knowledge into the mausoleum of the past known as the British Museum… Its great rotund room lined with books under a vast dome and marked “For Readers Only” is undoubtedly the most famous reading room in the world… About the walls are forty-six miles of books… Since its opening in 1857 Matthew Arnold, Ruskin, Carlyle, Browning, Swinburne, Macaulay, Dickens, Thackeray, Kropotkin, Lenin, Trot sky, and Karl Marx have sat at some of the 450 desks and sent out thoughts to charm or shake the world…
We are happy to see that a recent volume by Mr. J. Penn, “For Readers Only,” has brought the reading room of the Museum into public notice… It is undoubtedly far more important than all the crying in the loud marketplaces of man… We like especially Mr. Penn’s speculation concerning its current occupants: “For all I know, there may be someone in the British Museum at this moment thinking thoughts that will alter and inﬂuence others for ages to come. When I review the people who have read here, I realize that some were then potential world ﬁgures unconscious that their ideas, generated in the Reading Room, would start world movements. It may be the circular shape of the room and the dome that compels men’s minds toward the cosmic, globe movements, international rather than national, all-embracing, religious, humanitarian… Something to that…
In a recent issue of the Saturday Review Mr. Thomas H. Uzzell sets his hand to an analysis of the romantic best sellers of the last two generations… From a list compiled Mr. Edward A. Weeks he selects the sixty-one novels which have sold half-a-million or more copies… Twenty-nine of these come within the scope of his inquiry as “romantic best sellers” — from Trilby through The Trail of the Lonesome Pine to Gone with the Wind… Mr. Uzzell ﬁnds that, allowing for minor variations, the lowest common denominator in all twenty-nine lies in the following three points:
1 A suitor who has a good income and is socially acceptable to the heroine’s family and friends, especially the latter. This insures security and ﬂattery.
2 A chivalrous courtship free from sexual demands. The stooge who plays this part is successful in the degree that he is a protector and giver of presents (paternal) and, in important crises, helpless and dependent (child) — manageable, in a word. These qualities in the hero alone make possible the ﬂavor known as sentimental in the popular romance.
3 A management of the narrative that rationalizes the maternal element in a woman’s love as self-sacriﬁce, charity, physical courage, or some other form of pseudo-nobility. The story must be saturated in a religion of the feelings which lift s animal indulgence to a spiritual triumph and substitutes sentiment for sanity.
Mr. Uzzell’s analysis is a part of his forthcoming book, Writing as a Career… Perhaps Mr. Weeks’ list of the romantic best-sellers of the past two generations will bring warm memories of other days to some of our readers:
Romantic Best Sellers
(Novels Selling Half-a-Million or More Copies)
George Du Maurier
Soldiers of Fortune
Richard Harding Davis
Paul Leicester Ford
To Have and To Hold
George Barr McCutcheon
Lavender and Old Lace
Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch
Alice Hegan Rice
The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come
The Circular Staircase
Mary Roberts Rinehart
The Last of the Plainsmen
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine
The Winning of Barbara Worth
Harold Bell Wright
Gene Stratt on-Porter
The Eyes of the World
Harold Bell Wright
Of Human Bondage
W. Somerset Maugham
The Calling of Dan Matthews
Harold Bell Wright
When a Man’s A Man
Harold Bell Wright
Man of the Forest
If Winter Comes
A. S. M. Hutchinson
The Mysterious Rider
Gone with the Wind
Vice and Virtue
The ancient contrast between vice and virtue has been presented by many hands under many guises… Although the most widely known is “black and white,” the sacred record uses a far more beautiful ﬁgure — “as scarlet — as snow.”… Lately, however we encountered another metaphor for the old distinction in the words of a wise man, now too long dead, who seems to speak to our age with singular prescience… After all, he said, vice is very much like checkers… All the moves are known and named and all the combinations have long since been tried… It is like the game children play where one puts an X in a corner and the other puts a circle in another, each trying to get three X’s or three circles in a row… Even children tire of it quickly… There are few things in life so uninteresting as playing a game that is easily exhausted…
But virtue is like chess… It is inexhaustible and therefore much more interesting… There are only a few ways of being immoral, but there are many, many ways of being virtuous… In youth, it is true, the possibilities of evil seem to be well-nigh inexhaustible… Each well-worn move on the board seems to be new and exciting… Our post war generation was typically adolescent in the way it clasped evil to its breast and called it a new and precious freedom… One glance into the pages of Petronius would have persuaded them that they were amateurs in evil who were far out done by men and women who lived before the Cross stood clear… That mood, the delight of a child with a new toy, cannot last, either in an individual or a generation… It is much better, by the power of God, to try His chess… It may be diﬃcult at ﬁrst, but the moves are un limited, the mind and heart can be more fully engaged, and the reward is eternal… When God directs the moves, life becomes a lovely, gracious thing…
Checkers or chess — does it makes any diﬀerence?… Some think not… In her last ﬁnished story Katherine Mansﬁeld wrote: “Perhaps it does not so much matter what one loves in this world. But love some thing one must.”… Here we take leave of our analogy… St. Augustine knew the real truth of the matter: “It doth make a diﬀerence whence cometh a man’s joy.”
Some time ago we commented brieﬂy on the continuing madness of the Baconians… One of the most articulate of the group who believe that Shakespeare did not write the plays usually attributed to him is Mr. George Frisbee of San Francisco… He bombards the Saturday Review with caustic comment on various trends in Shakespearean scholarship… Now and then he turns to other matters… Thus, commenting recently on Professor Kittredge’s dictum that the name “Wriothesley” must be pronounced “Riz-ly,” Mr. Frisbee writes:
Harvard’s Kittredge is just an old griothesley
His comments are pungent and siothesley
But I’m here with a bet
That the Prof. is all wet
When Wriothesley he gives us as Rizly.
What is Poetry?… We imagine that the question will still be debated when Gabriel blows his trump… Per haps the wisest thing written in our generation on the distinction between poetry and verse comes from Mr. Hilaire Belloc in The Cruise of the Nona:
“For it is with poetry as with love and with singing in tune. It is with poetry as with the sense of reality. It is with poetry as with the tooth ache. Either you have it or you have it not. Though there are degrees in poetry, the boundary between its being and its not being is as sharp as a razor; on the one side is It and on the other is nothingness. By which I do not mean to say that poetry is only found in certain violent stabs of emotion such as Shakespeare and Keats launch, for it often inhabits page upon page… But I mean that in a ﬂight or a short one, immediate or continuous — poetry is poetry not to be mistaken for anything else. Charles Kingsley said to a woman, ‘Madam, there is poetry and there is verse; and verse is divided into two kinds — good verse and bad verse. What you have here shown me is not poetry; it is verse. It is not good verse; it is bad verse.’”
And since we are yet in the light of the Christmas season we may close today with something which is not only good verse but also poetry… Miss Catherine O’Hearn gave it to us:
What are dollars, what are dimes
When all the bells are sounding chimes?
And what the revel and the feast
When Kings are marching in the East?
The call to shine as other men
When You light up the world again?
Come, fold my hands upon the Why?
The ﬁnite, circumstantial I,
And furnish me with love to keep
Who kneel beside Your ox, Your sheep.