- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 19 Apr 1920, p. 180-216
- Bangs, John Kendrick, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Ladies' Night, with a programme which included violin solos by Frank Blachford and singing by Frank OldField and Arthur Blight.
Some impressions of men of power with whom the speaker has had the rare privilege coming in contact with in the past fifteen or twenty years of a very active editorial life. An amusing account of the terms "salubrities" and "celebrities." The address continues with personal anecdotes and reminiscences of the following people: Winston Churchill as a true celebrity; the speaker's neighbour, Mr. Perkins as a salubrity, and how each is so named. Trying to do something to counteract "the wild and slanderous teachings of our malicious muck-raking magazines." The experience of Mr. Richard Harding Davis, a man that had suffered at the hands of the offensive literary muck-raker. Rudyard Kipling as the next salubrity, also criticized by muck-rakers. A response to the accusation that Kipling's manners were rude. The story of a female salubrity: Miss Dorothy Tennant who married Sir Henry M. Stanley. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the story of his visit to the speaker's house. A salubrity who is not a celebrity, a tramp that the speaker met on a train. Looking down below the surface, beneath the thing which for the moment seems to be obvious, looking right down into the heart and the soul of the true American. Finding there the something that will tell you, beyond the possibility of any contradiction, that in his ideals, in his hopes, in his aspirations, he is most truly your brother.
- Date of Original
- 19 Apr 1920
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- SALUBRITIES I HAVE MET
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY MR. JOHN KENDRICK
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
Monday, April 19, 1920
(This was "Ladies' Night," and the programme included, in addition to the address, violin solos by Frank Blachford and singing by Frank OldField and Arthur Blight. There was a very large audience.)
PRESIDENT HEWITT in introducing the speaker, said, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great privilege to-night for the President of the Empire Club to be able to welcome the Lady members of the Club. (Applause) You will remember that on the last occasion when this privilege was offered me, Dr. VanDyke was the speaker of .the day. To-night we are to have another distinguished American in the person of Mr. John Kendrick Bangs. (Applause) This applause is not for Mr. Bangs, Ladies and Gentlemen-you cheered a little too soon; this is one for the discriminating sense of the Executive of the Empire Club in knowing when to invite the ladies. (Laughter) If you, Ladies, were to see the tired business men listening to some philosophic discourse in the middle of the day, you certainly would feel sorry for them, (laughter) we do not invite the ladies on those days. Mr. Bangs is well known to most of you in spirit; I shall only have to introduce him in the flesh to-night. He could speak to us long and learnedly on almost any philosophic subject that might be suggested, such has been his experience and such his preparation for his life's work; but the Executive of the Empire Club rather insisted that, as we are under some strain and stress in these days in meeting our daily duties and striving to do some little, as maybe, for the common weal, we would like to have something in a lighter vein; so tonight Mr. Bangs has promised that it shall be so arranged. (Applause)
However, I am not going to lose this opportunity of saying a word or two with regard to the Empire Club and its objectives; because, Ladies, we need your support quite as much as we need the support of the men. It was shown during the war, and in connection with all the problems of the war, that the women were the best men. (Hear, hear) The problems of peace are greater than those of war. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are just beginning to realize it. (Hear, hear) The Empire Club stands for a United British Empire. (Applause) It stands for the closest possible friendship that can be gotten between the Englishspeaking nations of the world. It stands for peace and righteousness, and it is going to get it even if it has to fight for it. (Applause) It is not a mere incident nor by mere chance that those celebrated men-those well-known men from the various countries of the world, from the Empire as well as from the United States-are brought here. We do not merely carry on a lecture bureau so that those men may come and talk to us from week to week; we see our serious duty, and we are trying to prepare ourselves for it from day to day. The success of the Empire does not depend on the big things the Government do from day to day; it depends on the little things you and I do from day to day. (Hear, hear) I want to read a few lines that express, in far better language than I can, what I wish to say, and I believe that you will appreciate with me the sentiments that are expressed in these few lines:
Oh, we've got to pull together when the work of war is done,
For the truth that is triumphant and the peace that we have won; We may let down just a little from the striving and the strain; But, as soon as we have rested, we must go to work again.
Oh, we've got to pull together for the bigger, better day;
Thereare problems grave before us, there are doubts to clear away;
We have fought for right and justice: now we've got to make it plain
By the manner of our living that we haven't fought in vain.
We have triumphed o'er the tyrant, we have made his cannons cease,
We have fought for human freedom and a just and righteous peace;
Oh, our tasks are uncompleted; we must prove by all we are, That we served no selfish purpose when we sent our boys afar.
We have sacrificed for freedom, side by side to death we've stood;
Now we still must stand together for our Nation's greater good. There are many tasks before us, we shall all be sorely tried:
We must live the peace and justice for which every soldier died.
As I have said, Mr. Bangs is well known to you. He tells me, sitting on my right, that he has met more people in Toronto who told him that they knew him -in spirit and read his books than in any other single place he has been in. That speaks well for Toronto. (Hear, hear) When Mr. Bangs consented to come and address us at our meeting tonight, it seemed to be very easy. We got a favourable answer to our invitation with almost no trouble; and when he arrived in Toronto we learned the reason. But I am going to let him tell you that reason himself, because he can tell it far better than I can. Mr. Bangs, as you know, has a keen sense of humour. He would like to know if there are any Scotchmen here, I think, (laughter) because, from what a friend of ours told us the other night, if a Scotchman thought he had any sense of humour he would crucify it. It is said that a small political meeting was being held in Scotland, and when the candidate for office had addressed the audience and completed his speech, the Chairman, a real Scot, said, "Is there any person present would like to speir a question of the candidate?" A man from the far end of the room came up, and instead of "speiring" the question found fault with him and denounced him. A supporter of the speaker, in the front ranks, got up and laid the opponent flat, and upset the proceedings for a time. As they carried out the wounded man, the Chairman without the slightest evidence of anything peculiar in his manner, said, "Is there any other person who would like to spier the candidate?" (Great laughter). Mr. Bangs, there are no Scotchmen present. Our guest has spoken in 42 States during the past year, to between 250,000 and 300,000 people. He can tell you about some things for himself, but I want to say that, when a distinguished person like Mr. Bangs comes to address us on an occasion like this, it is a very great pleasure indeed for the Executive Committee to be able to introduce him to the audience. (Applause) I have asked Mr. Bangs, as a personal favour, to make one or two personal references at the beginning. This, I am sure he would hesitate to do if the pressure had not been put upon him, and when he makes them I think you will be able to understand why that pressure was applied.
MR. JOHN KENDRICK BANGS
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Empire Club,
I am not among those Americans who consider that the British mind is obtuse when it comes to an appreciation of humour, and I should never have thought that there was anything obtuse about the President of this Club (laughter) but I did not ask him if there were any Scotchmen present; I asked him if he had any Scotch (great laughter, renewed) and I am going to give him the next two hours to see the point. (Laughter) That was altogether one of the most gracious identifications of the remains that I ever listened to (laughter) and it was a great pleasure to me that your charming President did not go into any of the notorious details of my criminal career, because in the past six or eight months I-have been positively inflicted by Chairmen and Chairladies in all, parts of the United States of America and in France, and in a certain portion of the occupied section of Germany, who, obsessed by the great and more important affairs of the hour, have not taken the trouble before going out on the platform with me to acquaint themselves with any degree of detail as to any of the items of my career. The result has been that I have been held responsible for pretty nearly every published work in fiction, from Foxe's Book of Martyrs down to the contents of Hearst's newspapers,(great laughter)-with sometimes very embarrassing results. How embarrassing that sort of thing might have been at times, I can perhaps best convey to your minds by telling you of a little incident that occurred some three or four years ago, when I found myself on a beautiful Faster Sunday morning in the little village of Riverside in Southern California, where I had gone to attend the very beautiful Easter ceremonials which they hold annually there upon the summit of Mount Robideaux. At the conclusion of that ceremonial, I found myself so tremendously exhausted emotionally that I repaired to the Mission Inn, and while seated in the office, in one of the arm chairs, gazing out upon the lovely mountains abroad, I became conscious of an intrusion on my silence by two eyes of the most beautiful created and charming thing, and I found that those two beautiful brown eyes were fixed intently upon me-not an unusual experience, but always thrilling. (Great laughter) In response to the implied interest in the lady's gaze I rose up, and although I was born in the United States of America, my friends, I have been trained-(laughter) -and I knew enough not to address a lady to whom I had not been properly introduced-that is the reason they have invited the ladies here this evening.
I stood there in that embarrassed silence, which she proceeded to break. "You will excuse me for intruding upon you, but your face bothers me." (Laughter) I said, "I am very sorry to hear that, my dear young woman; it has bothered me for the last fifty-four years." (Laughter) She said; "I don't mean that in the same sense that you do; I mean, I cannot place it." "Well," said I, "You- need not worry about that, because as a matter of fact you don't have to place it; that face is already located" (laughter)-and I fear, with a certain degree of prominence; (laughter) if it were not so, you don't suppose I would have brought a face like this all the way from Maine to California with me?" (Laughter) She said, "You don't quite catch my meaning; what I mean is, that I don't know where I have seen it before." "Well," I said, "In stating your problem you have advanced its solution; that is exactly where I carry my face before. I am one of those rare individuals to whom the messages of the President of the United States referred as a `forward-looking person."' (Laughter) She said, "I am afraid you are a very frivolous person, because you have not helped me in the slightest degree; my problem is-but you know-when I saw the face I thought I should know the name that would go with it. No matter how simple it is, it worries me, and I keep awake wondering who he is, what has he done, why should his face be familiar to me?" "Well," I said, "I am perfectly willing to tell you who I am; Bangs, John Kendrick Bangs." She held up both of her hands and said, "I should have known instinctively who you are; I have always taken such supreme comfort and pleasure from that charming little classic of yours, `Three Men in a Boat."' (Great laughter)
But, my friends, that was not the most embarrassing part of it. The most embarrassing part came the following morning when that charming young woman, prior to her departure to the East, brought me a copy of Jerome K. Jerome's book and said, "Mr. Bangs, I shall not be quite happy until I have the author's autograph." It was then with tact, and consideration for the lady's feelings, that I wondered whether I should be guilty of the crime of forgery; but, finally, I enquired her name and inscribed, "With the everlastingly affectionate regards of your dear friend, Jerome K. Jerome." (Laughter) I trust you will regard that story as told you in the strictest confidence; I have not told it to more than three or four hundred thousand people in the last five years, and I should hate to have it go any further. I don't wish Mr. Jerome to discover how I have trifled with his good name. (Laughter)
The personal remarks which your charming President has made may perhaps weaken the force of some things that I am going to try to say to you to-night, but I am not so far away from home when I am in Canada. (Hear, hear) There are one or two things which, if your President had really known anything about me--(laughter)he might have included in this wonderfully non-commital address of his. (Laughter) He might have told you that one of the greatest books of poems that ever came out of Canada was published under my supervision; and I have never ceased to be proud of the day when I succeeded in procuring the publication in the City of New York of "The Habitant" by Dr. Drummond. (Loud applause) Among the treasures which I guard on my library shelves is the copy No. 1 of the limited edition of that beautiful series of poems of Canadian life.
The second thing is that I am not at all surprised to find here in Canada such large groups of fine forwardlooking, upstanding-character men and women. Why should there not be, when back in 1814 the highest ideals of the Christian Religion were brought into Canada by Nathan Bangs, the grandfather of your present speaker? (Applause) As I look around me and see the fruits of my grandfather's work-(laughter)-I congratulate myself upon the high pre-natal intelligence which caused me to pick him out. (Laughter)
But the third reason which makes me feel more at home in Canada than a great many of those who come to you from across the border, and which may serve to weaken the sense of high affection and regard which, as an American citizen, I have always had for the citizens of Canada, is the thought that while my grandfather brought you the inestimable boon and high moral character, Canada gave me an inestimable boon of the kind of a grandmother who makes the best kind of an American citizen if she only lives up to her ideals and principles. (Hear, hear and applause) One of the things which Nathan Bangs took back with him from Canada into the United States of America was a Canadian woman who became the grandmother of the speaker who stands before you to-night. (Applause) I have come to you more or less in the guise of a prodigal son, and am waiting for that ring which is to be placed upon my finger. (Laughter)
I must confess, Ladies and Gentlemen, that when I first promised to come before this organization, I promised really to come and speak for fifteen or twenty minutes at the luncheon; and I was filled with serious reflections which I felt it was quite necessary for a citizen from the other side of the border to bring into this land. But I have promised not to be serious tonight, and I have been wondering what it would be that I would talk to you about. I concluded that I would give you, in somewhat modified form, some of my impressions of men of power whom I have had the rare privilege of coming in contact with in the past fifteen or twenty years of a very active editorial life, which has confirmed me in the optimistic impression I have always had that the measure of a man's greatness is his unselfishness. (Hear, hear and applause)
A great many years ago I found myself in a little City called Billingham, in the northern part of the State of Washington, not very far from the Vancouver line. Upon my arrival in that town I picked up an evening paper and found that I was to lecture upon the subject, "Salubrities I have met." (Laughter) I had never promised to lecture upon that subject. I did not know then what a salubrity was, and I don't know that I shall be able to convince you to-night that I know what a salubrity is. All I know is that when I first reached Billingham and picked up that evening paper, there was the title of my lecture-" Salubrities I have met." I immediately rang up the Chairman of the Lecture Committee and asked him where on earth he had ever found such a horrible subject as that. He had got me mixed up with a man who was to talk in several weeks on celebrities he had met, and the printer had done the rest. "But," he said, "I have been hoping all afternoon that you would know what a salubrity was, for, while we are neither a raw nor a red community, we are sometimes vigorous in our treatment of those who don't do what they are advertised to do, and my advice to you is that, if you would desire everything to end comfortably and pleasantly, you will lecture on `Salubrities I have met' if you can possibly get away with it." So, being desirous of leaving town by the ordinary means of transport which a sick man chooses in preference to the monorail system which they might choose to operate with an unsatisfactory speaker, I talked for an hour and a half about "Salubrities I had met."
I showed that every individual is either a salubrity or a celebrity. If he be a salubrity, and have the qualities of salubrities that constitute him a salubrity, he may consider himself a salubrity, and the fact of his- being a celebrity has nothing whatever to do with it. (Laughter) If, on the other hand, he be a celebrity and lack the quality of salubrity, he may not consider himself a salubrity in spite of his celebrity. I said, "Now that I have made that definitely clear to your minds, I am going to tell you about some salubrities I have met." Then came a murmur from the rear rows, that surely convinced me, that if I sought to leave that town without any fuss-and better still without any feathers-it were just as well that I should be a little more explicit in my definitions; so I gave them two stories out of my own personal and professional experience dealing with the two types of individual.
The first story I gave to show a salubrity was once referred to by the late lamented King Edward VII as a man who is half English, half American, and wholly undesirable.
I trust you will mark my prophecy that in the very near future there is a very fair chance that Mr. David Lloyd George, should he decide for one reason or another to step to one side, will occupy a very high official position in the public life of Great Britain, because the British public, as undoubtedly do we of the United States of America, owe him a deep debt of gratitude for the high state of preparedness in which your magnificent Navy was found at the outbreak of this war-without whose instrumentality this war would have been lost at the beginning an instrumentality which, .as an American, I rejoice to see has protected the liberties of all the grandest men of all this beautiful earth. (Applause)
Gentlemen, at that time your Chief Lord of the British Admiralty was a gentleman named Winston Spencer Churchill. He must not be confounded with our Winston Churchill, who is a salubrity of the highest order. (Laughter) Mr. Winston Spencer Churchill of London discovered that he carried in the back of his head all knowledge that ever has been in the world, all the knowledge there was in the world to come, with a few important things that had not yet occurred to the Creator himself, and he decided to come to the United States of America and lecture to the people of my benighted land upon such subjects as he felt, without his intervention on our behalf, we should know nothing of. His Manager in New York, Major Pond, in order to give his first appearance greater distinction, invited all the notorious characters of New York, who were not at that time under indictment by the Grand jury, to come and serve as a reception committee. There were just a hundred of us at that time, acting under the Major, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie and Bishop Potter. We all gathered at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to see that Mr. Churchill was properly launched on the American waters.
On that occasion Churchill developed qualities as a hand-shaker that would have made him supreme in all the political parties we have had. He would seize the nearest New Yorker and pull him along and thrust him over on the other side; and so rapidly did he do this that, in seven and a half minutes, he had shaken hands with the whole hundred of us, and the reception, which was designed to last for an hour, was over in ten minutes. As I came on he grabbed my little finger and the fourth finger and the middle finger, and with Mr. Churchill's pressure I was projected like a bomb from a catapult, to land upon the form of Andrew Carnegie, who was cowering in one corner of the room. Major Pond came to me and said, "You are the youngest man in this room; can you do anything to break up this ice and save this situation for me?" I said, "Major, I am afraid I can't break any such ice as this; I am freezing myself; I feel very much - as Dr. Cook must have felt when he discovered that he had not discovered the North Pole." I said, "What do you want me to do?" He said, "Go up and meet Churchill." I said, "What, again?" He said,
"Yes, you have been there once, and you will know how to go there and meet him the second time." So we came to where Churchill was studying the autographs on the wall, and he said, "What is it?" Major Pond said, "I want to introduce Mr. Bangs, Editor of Harper's Weekly." I stood forward and held out my hand, but recognizing me, Churchill withdrew his hand abruptly and said, very impertinently, "I have shaken hands with you once already." I said, "Well, Mr. Churchill, I have come back to get your thumb and forefinger." (Great laughter) But did I get them, Ladies and Gentlemen? I regret to say that I did not. Churchill turned away from me and began again to study those autographs on the wall; and I got as fine a view of a human back as any living creature has had since the days when Adam and Eve went out from the Garden and left the serpent behind them.
Mr. Churchill was of fifty-,seven varieties of your highest type of a true celebrity, but, Ladies and Gentlemen, I regret to say that he was not half a millionth part of one-eighth of a salubrity; he had not the qualities of mind and heart that allowed him to appreciate and be careful for the fervor with which all the youth, beauty and chivalry of New York had gathered to do him honour; nor had he that fine sense of humour which would enable him to see and laugh at and crack .the finest joke that had ever been perpetrated on the American continent. The United States have their highest honours in store for the men who have richly deserved the gratitude of all the free men of the earth; but without that sense of humour and that gratitude, our young men cannot possibly aspire to the true honours of your true salubrity.
Then, as a specimen of the other type of individual the salubrity who was no celebrity-I told those people of Billingham of a good neighbour of mine, my next door neighbour in Maine, an old gentleman eighty-seven years of age, bent and broken with the pangs of rheumatism. I doubt if once in the past twenty-five years he has been able wholly to stand erect without suffering pain in his miserable old feet; and for ten years of my acquaintance not once have his knotted fingers been stretched to their limit without agonies of suffering. Yet when I meet that old gentleman, irrespective of conditions, his greeting is always the same. When the world is a fit understudy to paradise, we may be suffering from one of those terrible northeasterly storms that play havoc on our coast, but he raises that poor suffering arm .as far as his pain will enable him to go, waves his hand, and his creaked and quivering voice comes, "How do, Mr. Bangs? It's a fine day, ain't it ?"
One autumn afternoon, after having for two hours been battling with a fierce drizzling rain of a northerly storm that was coming through my oil-skin coat, so that with all my strength I could hardly make my way against it, I passed this old gentleman on the way to put his cattle out for the night. When I came near him he said, stretching that suffering arm and waving his withered old hand feebly, "I-low do, Mr. Bangs? It's a fine day." I said, "Mr. Perkins, do you tell me that you really consider this abominable system of meteorological cussedness a fine day?" Mark his reply; "Why, yes, it as fine of it's kind as I ever seen." (Great laughter)
That man, my friends, is a true salubrity. He has the qualities of mind and heart which enable him, under the most distressing and depressing conditions, to see something of the sweetness and beauty which may be said to be underneath almost every phenomenon of human existence; and when he feels that his neighbour may be blind to those beautiful things which have revealed themselves to him, he insists that his neighbour shall face and contemplate and share those beautiful things with him. It is that kind of character and quality of mind in man that I am going to refer to in the four or five hours at our disposal tonight.
Very seriously speaking, I consider it a great privilege to be permitted, as I have been permitted in the past six or seven years, to take the stories of my salubrities into every single State of the American Union. And over here into Canada; for I honestly feel that in our land particularly-not my own country, but our land of America, the North American Continent-it is time that somebody should stand up in the public places of this land and try to do something to counteract the wild and slanderous teachings of our malicious muck-raking magazines (loud applause) which for the past twenty-five years have given themselves over to a concentrated effort to destroy our confidence in our fellow man, trying to make us believe that selfishness is the slogan of the hour, and that no man yet ever climbed high on the ladder of success without wickedly and consciously thrusting some other man down in the mire and ruin and defeat, until the young men of your country and mine would be perfectly justified in believing, if it is the case as the yellow muck-raking sweepers say, that the only avenues to success in business are trickery and fraud an abominable libel on the manhood and womanhood of the day and generation in which we live. (Applause) When the time shall come that I must lay down the burdens of this life and enter upon that last little speculation in real estate, which is supposed by the pessimists to be the final portion of us all, I hope that someone passing that way will pause long enough to place a stone at my head or feet-I don't care which end, so long as the end shall justify the act-and testify that I was found to be an antidote to the malicious, slanderous muck-raker, whom I heartily despise whether he be the proprietor of a muck-raking magazine, a contributor thereto, or the proprietor and editor of a chain of yellow newspapers that have their origin in the City of New York and drag their slimy trail across the American Continent to San Francisco. (Loud applause)
Included in which category, let me as an American citizen say to you, I place your Canadian newspapers which, at a time when the relations of the whole world are in the most delicate condition, and when we need calmness and judgment and truth and accuracy of statement, place headlines over the utterances of irresponsible Americans on the other side of the border, and try to make them indicative of the true feeling of the people of the United States towards the British Empire. (Applause)
The first of the salubrities I spoke of to those people in the West, was a man who was a great lover of your country. He was a man that had suffered at the hands of the offensive literary muck-raker. He was a distinguished war correspondent, a novelist of brilliant charm, a short story writer of distinction, and a dramatist of some power. I hope you know him well in this country, and that you loved him as I did. His name was Richard Harding Davis. (Applause) This abominable sniping press for years pursued Richard Harding Davis with the statement that he was a. coldhearted literary snob who had none of the qualities of tender human sympathy in his heart, and was therefore likely to fall short of the highest position as a fictionist of true value. For five of the most beautiful years of my professional life I was associated with Richard Harding Davis in the management and control of Harper's Weekly. For five successive Christmases I have known this man to come to his office in Franklin Square and there draw out from the cashier $500 worth of his well earned riches, and then go over to the crowded East Side streets in the City of New York where, in one side of a square I -have been in, there existed, rather than lived, three thousand souls, ranging from the infant to the boy or girl of eighteen years of age. Davis dropped into their lives out of the blue skies above, like a gentleman bountiful, every penny of that $500, putting into their lives some of the sweets and the joys of the Christmastide, of which they would have known nothing but for his hand; and doing it so sweetly, so unostentatiously, that those who shared his hospitality never knew even the name of their benefactor. (Applause)
In thirty-five years of our delightful friendship, I never knew that man but once to fall short of my highest standard of a truly sympathetic and unselfish human being; and I am going to tell you about it, because I think it will amuse you; and he even then did not fall so short. He wrote a series of short stories called the Vanbibber experiences. They seemed almost to bubble thought. I congratulated him upon them, and I said, "Those stories are perfectly fine; how long does it take you to write one"? He said, "Why, it takes me ten days." "Nonsense," I said, "I could write one of those Vanbibber stories in three hours, and bring greater delight than you have." I added, "I'll bet you a dinner that I will write that story between dinner and eleven o'clock; and you don't owe me a dinner until that story has been accepted and paid for by a New York editor." The next day, at mid-day, I said, "What about my dinner? It is written." He said, "You have forgotten the condition; I don't owe you any dinner until that story has been accepted and paid for by some New York editor." I replied, "I have not forgotten anything; you have forgotten that I am a New York editor. (Laughter) I wrote that story last night between eight and eleven o'clock; I brought it down here to Franklin Square this morning, and submitted it at ten o'clock to myself; taking a special interest in the author, I gave it an immediate reading; at half-past ten, I decided it was good; at a quarter to eleven, I decided to sign it for payment, and at twelve o'clock, I drew myself an order on the cashier for $150 to pay for it. I went down and cashed that order, and there is the money"-at least I didn't say, "There is the money," I said, "Here is the money." (Laughter) Davis was a man of very prompt decision, extraordinary reach, and firm grasp, and I thought it was a little safer to have that $150 where he could comprehend it rather than apprehend it. (Laughter) Then he rose up, like the wonderful salubrity that he had always shown himself to be in his beautiful life before, and gave me my dinner; but I regret to say that for the first time he fell short in large measure of his true self. He fixed a cold and glittering eye upon me and said, "Well, if you have made that much money out of it, you can afford to pay for your own dinner." (Great laughter) I leave it to you, Ladies and Gentleman, to decide whether any man, who could treat an honest gentleman, a true friend, and a faithful craftsman in any such cavalier fashion as that, is a true salubrity; yet, lest I be misunderstood by any deeply insulated man who has crept into this meeting to-night,-I don't see one before me, but you never can tell-I wish to say right here and now that, in thirty-five years of a very active professional life, and having been brought into contact with large souls-great-hearted men and women this world over-I have never yet found one to whom Davis ever needed to lift his hat as having been in the presence of one superior to that beautiful and salubrious spirit of tender human sympathy, especially where it might be exercised for the relief of the necessities of the starved and denied little children of God's beautiful earth. (Loud applause)
Then, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is another literary salubrity who at one time or another, I am quite confident, has done so much for every man and woman in this audience to-night that it will strike some of you perhaps as a great shame that anybody should consider it necessary to stand in a public place and say anything in his defence. Yet the name and fame of Rudyard Kipling, the muck-raker has been unusually busy with. They told us that Kipling was the worst mannered man that ever came to this side of the Atlantic from the other side. Friends of mine who had never met Mr. Churchill told me that. (Great laughter) They have said that Kipling never had a moment of natural buoyant humour, that his humour was always the crude, coarse humour of the camp, or the artificial humour of the lamp. Finally, a college professor in one of our great institutions of education-I will not say learning(laughter)-which I shall not identify except to say that it is located in New Haven, Connecticut (laughter) has not hesitated to state, before the young men there committed to his charge, that it would have been better for Kipling's literary reputation had he died in 1898, when he lay so perilously ill in the Hotel Governor in New York.
In undertaking to prove him to you as a salubrity, I am going to take up two counts in that indictment. In the first place, his manners. In order that I may bring him to this charming company tonight, let us get rid of that. It was said that Kipling's manners were so bad. I must say that I was astonished at. the strange variability of his manners; that a man who was the perfect pink of deportment should apparently not be what my old friend Maupassant joked and satirized as having all the urbanity of a Chesterfield. (Laughter) So I subjected Mr. Kipling's manners to as keen an analysis as I was capable of, and I discovered in a profoundly salubrious virtue the real reason for his seemingly bad manners at times. It is this: In that great heart he had so supreme an affection that he felt there was no man ever yet made in the image of his Creator but possessed some markedly good quality which he would demonstrate to your entire satisfaction, if you only paused long enough to give him the opportunity to do so. Kipling would get at that man's level-either climb up or down to it-with the result that his manner's took the colour and manners of that other person. So that, if any person comes to you and tells you that Kipling's manners are coarse, you will know the reason. (Laughter) As a matter of fact I happened to be present upon the occasion when this remark in respect to Mr. Kipling's bad manners had its origin. He had the kind of humour that bubbles up out of a soul that is always ready, that is a delight to the human ear. I was standing next to him when he came to us in New York, with his honours well won and modestly worn. We gave him a little reception at the Authors' Club. Right in the middle of that reception, the door opened and there entered into our presence one of the editors of one of America's most distinguished magazines. He seized Mr. Kipling by the right hand, shook it up and down as if it were a handle of the town pump, and addressed him thus: "Why, Mr. Kipling, I am delighted to meet you at last. I have just had a letter from my friend, Edmund Gosse, who tells me you are not such a boor as you would have people think." It was like a slap in a man's face, and I turned to see how Mr. Kipling had taken this outrageous assumption upon his nature. I was delighted to see him smiling pleasantly, bowing to this gentleman, and rubbing his hands together like a man who is trying to sell an oily preparation to a stranger; he was saying, "Why, my dear sir, I have manners of all kinds constantly in stock for those who lack them; may I take your order.?" (Great laughter)
My friends, let me say in passing, in regard to that distinguished college professor, that that one mistake which I have referred to is the only one that I am conscious of his ever having made; and I, as the father of two beautiful boys of Yale, owe him a deep debt of gratitude for- their appreciation of the best in literature; and if he should have the good fortune which has come to me, and should be allowed to stand in this presence, and should venture to repeat that one Mistake -to tell you that it would have been better for Kipling's reputation had he died in 1898-1 hope you will rise up like one man and twenty thousand women-and I hope, you will invite the ladies on that night for this purpose (laughter) and give him back, as in one voice, this wonderful specimen of Kipling's writing not less than ten years later than that period when he should have died. This is one of the surest immortal poems of our time, a poem which I would rather have written than anything else that came from Kipling's pen at a time when his genius was supposed to be at its zenith, not only because of the lyric quality of the lines, but for the high standards of character and dignity which they hold up for the contemplation of the young of all ages; a poem which, through these years of stress that the world has passed, has been the refuge of many a strong soul:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise.
If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools.
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss;
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss.
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a !Ulan, my son!
You see, my friends, it is unnecessary for me to go any further in thus trying to prove to you that in those lofty conceptions of character and conduct which Rudyard Kipling expressed from the very beginning of his work to this hour, when he sits in the loneliness of his home mourning the loss of his only son on the battlefield, whose ashes even he cannot find, he has been a true salubrity. (Loud applause)
If it were necessary for me to do so, let me say, as a citizen who comes from the other side of the line, that I hold Mr. Kipling in the highest esteem because of those lines, and for the especial reason that another quality of your true salubrity is a fine, sweet, broad tolerance. Those lines are lines written by a man of whom it may be said that he is probably one of the most deeply settled British Imperialists of the hour, and yet they are his tribute, not to the name and fame of an Imperialist who appeals to that spirit, but, according to Mr. Kipling's own statement, they were a chaplet woven to the memory of no less a person than that of George Washington, the first President of the United States. (Applause)
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, in a company of this sort I would not have it that I think all the salubrities are men. (Laughter) They are not, by any manner of means. There are many salubrietties in the world. (Laughter) And the finest example of a salubriette was the lady who once made the greatest of our American explorers the best of men,-Sir Henry M. Stanley. When Sir Henry had seen enough of .the dark continent, he retired to London, there to live in peace and sunshine for the balance of his days. While there he had the good fortune to meet, fall in love with, propose to, be accepted by, and marry Miss Dorothy Tennant. They came to the United States on their wedding tour, and a little club of which I was a member gave a reception in their honour. The reception committee, with that rare tact for which they were distinguished, fitted up the reception room so that it resembled an African jungle so closely that even Stanley could not have told it from the real thing. It would have been just as appropriate to give a reception to Peary or Cook in a cold storage plant, or if your president Hewitt had made an arrival at this station here, to accompany him to the nearest gashouse. (Great laughter) Into this reception room, large enough to accommodate comfortably 150 people, we proceeded to admit 750 members of the New York "Four Hundred." (Laughter)
Through an open door it was impossible for those in to get out, or those out to get in, by which there came to be a great state of social congestion. Many New Yorkers who never realized that anybody else was on the earth had actually to come in contact with other human beings-in some cases their own next door neighbours-which was so extremely mortifying to all parties concerned that, as chairman of that committee, I felt that something ought to be done to relieve the situation. So I perceived a small door which opened through the back down to the street, which I thought would give some of the "Four Hundred" a natural, homelike, exit to the different places. (Laughter) I tried to go over to open the door, but I found I could not penetrate anything quite so hard as New York society was at that particular time; so I went back to Mr. and Mrs. Stanley, whom we had stood up under a bower of blooms at one corner of the room. It was constructed of the remnants of unsold Christmas trees which we had bought at a
bargain at the Fulton Street Market. Down from the middle of it there trailed one lone stream of smilax, the top of which tickled Stanley's head at the point where his hair was beginning to give him absent treatment. (Laughter)
As I passed back of Stanley, he followed me with his eyes as far as he could, and then whirled around and caught me on the other side. I said, "Stanley, what is the matter?" He said, "Well, I guess I've got too much sense to let any man stand behind my back in a jungle like this.", (Laughter) I said, "I am sorry I haven't got a spear about nine feet long, because if I had you would see the point if you turned around." That shows you what kind of salubrities he and I were upon that particular occasion. But Mrs. Stanley showed herself a salubrity of another particular order, with her wonderfully gracious charm, to another dear lady named Mrs. Richard Henry Stoddard, the wife of our distinguished American Poet, who in the early sixties of last century had written half a dozen volumes which the public had probably, and unfortunately, forgotten-because they well deserved praise. Mrs. Stoddard had a keenly analytical mind, a good sense of humour and a fine prose style, but she had married a poet, and had suffered the inevitable extinction. She had lived to see the day when everybody bad forgotten that she had written two books. She had been over-shadowed by the larger fame of her own distinguished husband, so as to be nothing more than the female of the species, a sort of phenomenon annexed to her husband, and known not by her name but by his-the wife of Richard Henry Stoddard-an unhappy ending of what promised to be a distinguished literary career. I rushed up and said, "Mrs. Stoddard, is there anything I can do for you?" She replied, "No, there isn't anything that anybody can do for anybody in a crowd like this." "Have you met Mrs. Stanley?" "No, I have not; I have been up there to a point where I could almost seize her by the hand, but the New Yorkers have shoved me back again." Her case was like that of the old woman who wanted to get on a railway train, and nine polite men came along and bustled her back on the rail again every time she attempted to get on. (Laughter) Well, I said, "Mrs. Stoddard, don't you worry; you put your arm in mine and we will wiggle ourselves up to where Mrs. Stanley is standing, or die in our tracks!" So we blundered and thundered right through the throng till we-came to where Mrs. Stanley was standing, and then, pushing our way to the front, I said, "May I present Mrs. Richard Henry Stoddard?" And then, Ladies and Gentlemen, came that wonderful exhibition of tender tactfulness and womanly graciousness, both of them qualities of your true salubrity, whether the salubrity be a man or a woman. Mrs. Stanley drew herself up to her proud and regal height and said, "No, Mr. Banks, you may not present Mrs. Richard Henry Stoddard; I have not the slightest desire to meet Mrs. Richard Henry Stoddard; but if I could only meet Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard"-giving the lady her own proper name-the author of "Temple House," to mention one of the long-forgotten books, "it would please me to the bottom of my heart." (Applause) This exhibition of gracious tactfulness and sympathy, that I' have only indicated, caused Mrs. Stoddard, for the first time in her wonderful life, to be unable to find fit words to express her emotions. She simply gasped, threw her arms around Mrs. Stanley's neck, and kissed her-and I was mighty glad she did, for I was having all I could do to refrain from doing it. (Laughter)
But the most quaint, wonderful, and gracious tactfulness and courtesy and sympathy that were shown in the very wonderful attention paid to me by another great salubrity, came from your Mother Country. He is perhaps best known to the younger element here-I see some people here almost as young as I am as the creator of that marvelous detective in fiction, Sherlock Holmes, and I hope to many of you as the creator of that very much favored figure, the knightly and chivalrous old Sir Nigel in the "White Company," a historical romance which has caused some critics of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to say that the Holmes romances are not up to his usual style. When Doyle's name was on the lips of all people in the civilized world, it was thought that he should go to the United States and show himself, as Dickens and Thackeray had done. His manager, however, with rare delicacy, had so arranged his tour that Doyle would be one night in Buffalo, the next in Brooklyn, the third in Erie, Pennsylvania, and the next in Newark, New Jersey. This kept poor Doyle running up and down the Hudson River until he came to believe that the United States consisted of that silvery stream, a few lecture platforms, and the Pullman cars in which he travelled.
I found him gazing moodily on his boots one morning, and, desirous of putting his mind on higher and more polished things, I addressed him cheerfully. (Laughter) "Well, doctor,"' said I, "what do you think of our great and glorious United States of America?" He replied, "Well, it puzzles me, and I will ask you a question, and I hope you will answer it truthfully." I said, "Well, doctor, that is rather a large order, for I am connected with the newspaper press, and we rather like to keep ,the truth for special occasions; we don't want to make it so common that anybody knows it to tell it." "But," he said, "really, have you Americans any homes?" I thought the question was frivolously conceived, and I answered it in the same spirit "Why, yes, Mrs. Bangs and I have a typical American home on the bank of the Hudson River; it is a little steel cage with eight bars in front, eight bars in the rear, and four bars at either end, and out ii, the backyard we have three trees where we keep our children, and are educating them in the higher branches." (Laughter) He looked at me with that peculiar expression which you find on a man's face when he gets a somewhat unexpected answer, and I knew that I had him, and I proceeded to rub it in. I said, "Why, doctor, if you would be interested in the rather primitive way which we Americans live, come out some time; like most animals, we are most interesting when we are being fed; come and watch us eat, and after we get through, if there is any left, you can have some." He said, "When do you dine?" I said, "Every day." (Laughter) He said, "Well, anybody could tell that by looking at you, but I mean, what time of day?" I said, "From six to nine." He asked, "What, a three-hour dinner?" "No, it is longer than that; it is a fifteen hour dinner; we keep at it from six in the morning till nine at night; it is the only way by which we can keep American children from eating between meals." He perceived by this time that, I was truthful and veracious, and became, in his charming English way, quite delightful. He said, "Suppose I come to you at the time you are serving that great institution of yours-what do you call it?-Punkin pie?" I knew then that he was human. If he had said pumpkin I would have given him up-(laughter)-but when he said "punkin" with the Greek Aspirate on the "unk" -the way it is pronounced by all Americans, and all true maniacs like myself (laughter) I knew that he was good enough for me.
The following Saturday Conan Doyle arrived at my house; and when my front door opened and that great literary demi-god entered as my guest, I understood that there was standing on my floor this great literary personage of whose work all the critics were saying that it was equal to all the great literary geniuses of the past -Moses, Shakespeare, Johnson, Milton, Emerson, Carlyle, Dickens, Thackeray, myself (laughter) and all the-rest of them. Why, I was so overcome by the high honour that had been done my roof-tree that I could not think of anything worthy of this occasion. I stood in front of this Titan in my library like an embarrassed elephant at the circus, wondering what on earth I could say that would be worthy of Doyle's distinguished career; and Doyle apparently felt the same in respect to me, too (laughter) because he hadn't anything to say, either. He retired to a window-seat in one corner of the room, and sat there gazing over the silvery waters of the Hudson as though he had never seen that noble stream before. In the midst of this conversational impasse, I suddenly became conscious of the figure of a small boy in the open door of my library. He was my eldest son, five and a half years, and he carried a doll that had the same relation to his amusements that the Teddy Bear came to have in later times. It was a stuffed Cologne rag baby, with ruby eyes, and clad in green waistcoat, red trousers, and blue shoes-one highly calculated to instil ideals in the minds of the young. I may state that the thing was stuffed with absorbent cotton. He passed his father, paying no more attention than boys pay to their fathers nowadays, went over to the window seat, studied the doctor's shoes a few minutes, followed the creases up as far as his waistcoat, and decided he was tolerably well-dressed. Then he backed up, took in the breadth of Doyle's splendid shoulder she is a perfect giant, six feet three in height, and broad in proportion-and then, the doctor still unaware of the youngster's coming, the boy hauled off with his Brownie, and in this company I hesitate to use the word, and I apologize not only to you as president of the Empire Club, but to the Mayor of your city (laughter) to the members of your Board of Health (laughter) to the Superintendent of Public Instruction (laughter) to the chairman of the Board of Directors of the local chapter of the I.W.W. (laughter) to anybody here who is capable of accepting the apologies-I apologise for the use of the word, but it is the only word in the English language which adequately describes what followed-he hauled off with that Brownie, and he "swatted" that literary demigod squarely in the back of the neck with that Brownie. (Laughter) That broke the ice. (Laughter) It started a few ideas in my mind, whatever effect it had on the intellectualism of Doyle. I sprang forward to do something; I didn't know what to do; I hoped the Lord would inspire me to do the right thing, but there was no time for action on my part; there was an immediate avalanche of humanity on the floor, and I had the pleasure of witnessing as fine a scrap as could possibly be wished for. First, 296 pounds of British genius would be on top, and then 37 1/2 pounds of American perversity would emerge from the wreck and skin over to the other side. With despair the idea flashed on my mind that, if this 296 pounds of British genius was really to roll over on the 37 1/2 pounds of American perversity, there would be at least a flat Bangs upon record. (Laughter) I sprang forward to the rescue of my son, and Doyle supposing-as an English parent naturally would-that I was going to chastise the lad for his untimely intrusion on our meditation-Doyle, sitting with his right leg over the prostrate form of my son, held up his right hand, and with a quivering lip and a smile upon his eye said, "Bangs, its all right; its nothing but the irrepressible conflict between Great Britain and young America." (Great laughter and applause)
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am going to tell of a salubrity who is not a celebrity, and perhaps the connotation of this story may be a little more to the point in days of possible misunderstanding than in these. It was my good fortune some years ago to find myself on the way to the city of Phoenix, in Arizona, to deliver a lecture. After I had left the city of Los Angeles, and was pounding on my way on the Southern Pacific Railway, I suddenly heard my train coming to a grinding stop, and we found ourselves almost on the verge of a catastrophe. The roadbed of the Southern Pacific had been washed away. We were kept waiting there for a period of sixteen hours before our train could go on to our destination. L went back into the observation car, and while I was seated there looking out at the beautiful blue skies overhead 'and the rare alkali dust which came in, and the wonderful hills by which we were surrounded, the door of that car opened, and there entered into my presence one of the most stricken specimens of a human being that I have ever looked on in my life.
I don't know what you would call him in Canada. In the United States we would call him a tramp-the most perfect specimen of your complete hobo that has ever dawned upon the vision of a human being; old, sick, weary, worn, bent and broken with the pangs of poverty. He wore about his poor old shoulders and body the remnant of a once proud Prince Albert coat, buttonless and forlorn, thread-bare; it was fastened about his middle with an ordinary rusted safety pin. His trousers, matched his coat. He wore a hat that looked as if it had been through several wars, and on his feet were the remnants, the soleless remnants, of a pair of shoes, fastened there by ordinary grocer's twine. He shambled into my presence, and I thought to myself: Well, here is one of the worst specimens of a human that I have ever looked upon, and I don't want to see him; my present woe is sufficient, without having him added to it. I gazed out of the window, and he sat down on the other side of the car. All of a sudden, I felt his eyes boring through me. You know that sensation, when you know that somebody is looking at you and wanting to make you look at him, and you are resolved you won't, and resolved you won't look up. I resolved that I would not yield to the lure of this old man's gaze, but instinctively, every second, I kept turning curiously, and finally I felt myself turned fully around and looking squarely into that man's eyes the most wonderful, wistful blue eyes I have ever looked into in all my days, with a mute appeal in them, as if he was saying, "For God's sake, speak to me; nobody ever does." I know I yielded.
I did not say anything characteristically brilliant. I spoke about our trouble, as men will do. I said, "'This is particularly distressing business, waiting around here, isn't it?" He came back at me with this answer-"Yes, Mr. Bangs," he said, in a drawling voice, "I should think for a man in your line of work it would be particularly distressing." I said, "Why, what do you know about me ?" He replied, "Oh, you are going to lecture at Tucson the day after to-morrow night." I said, "I am if I ever get there." He said, "Well, they are all ready for you; they have got your face plastered all over that town; got 'em posted up in front of every church; got five of them in the railway station; I saw two of them tacked to ash barrels." He added, "That's plain, isn't it? One can't look in any direction but John Kendrick Bangs is staring him out of countenance. Why, Mr. Bangs, I left Tucson to get rid of you."
(Laughter) He went on, "I stepped on board the train, and by George, there sits the original!" "Well," I said, "now that you have seen me, I hope you realize that I am not as black as I am lithographed." He says, "You're all right, Mr. Bangs, and let me tell you something; if you ever get down and out, the way I am, just you sue that man that made that picture of you, and any decent jury in the United States will give you $100,000." Then his face grew very serious, and he said, "Mr. Bangs, I judge from what I have heard about you, that you must read a great ,deal in the course of a year; would you mind telling me something you think I would like"? I was very patronizing. Here was this thing -tramp-springing into my life out of the alkali desert. I said, "Well, my friend, that is rather a large order for me; I don't know anything about your symptoms, and I don't like to prescribe for a man until I know something as to the kind of thing that is good for him; you know you might not like the thing that I do." He said, "Well, suppose you try me and see?" I replied, "Well, I prefer biography to fiction; I would rather read the story of a real man's life than any number of novels delineating the characters of fictitious personages drawn by the novelist's fancy; I don't care for that sort of thing. `Tom Jones' by Fielding is all well enough, but give me `Johnson' by Boswell." He said, "Well, it is the same way with me, but there hasn't been any good biography in the past twenty-five years, has there? There has not been the raw material." (Laughter) I began to see that my old tramp had something in the back of his head which might touch on what we might call satire. I still was patronizing. I said, "Well, I am afraid you have interested yourself in the wrong kind of people-United States Senators, and things of that kind. (Laughter) There has been plenty of raw material in the men of the spirit-the great painters, great poets, great soldiers men who have done wonderful things along the line of the spirit; no end of raw material in the world for the 'past twenty-five years. Why, my dear sir, I have just been reading aloud to Mrs. Bangs one of the most delightful books I have ever read in my life; it is called, The memorials of Burne-Jones, by Lady Burne-Jones.' "
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to tell you something, and I hope you will believe me when I say that I am telling you this story exactly as it happened. The minute I mentioned the name of Burne-Jones that old tramp's face lit up, his eyes fairly sparkled, he leaned forward and he fairly gasped out the words, "Who published that?" He pulled a greasy old envelope out of one pocket, fished a stub of a lead pencil out of another, and he leaned forward eagerly waiting what I had to say. I said, "Why, that is published by the Macmillan Company of New York; but would you be interested in the life of Burne-Jones?" "Oh, Mr. Bangs," he said, -this old tramp-"since I was a youngster and first realized the wonderful beauty of the world, I have always been a lover of that whole pre-Raphaelite movement." My friends, that old tramp, who had sprung into my life out of that alkali dust, and whom I was patronizing, and wishing he had never come into my life, judged by superficial conditions, began to talk to me about that most marvelous movement in Art and Literature which may be said to be the greatest contribution of the time to which we may be said to belong.
He discussed the paintings of James MacNeil Whistler for fifteen minutes, and there was not a subtlety of line and colour that that old tramp did not appreciate in the full of its exquisite touch on the canvasses of that master; and when he got through with Whistler he began to talk about the contribution to decorative art of William Morris. He discussed the achievements of Haydon. He delighted my ears, for fifteen or twenty minutes, with a series of texts from the lectures on Art by Holman Hunt. Then he ran on, and he finally came to the Rossettis, and when he got through with Rossetti, as a painter, he turned to me with a peculiar look in his eye and said, "But, Mr. Bangs, I suppose it is Rossetti, the poet, that you know like a book."
I began to make up my mind it-was time for me to play safe. I was not going to tell him that I knew my Rossetti like a book, for fear that he would quote some poem that I had perhaps read years ago. I began to suspect that the old man might suggest, or might improvise, a couplet that would be like Rossetti and sound like Rosetti, and I would be fool enough to say, "Oh yes, I remember that; it is one of my favourites." (Laughter) I felt it safer to tell the truth. I said, "No," I don't know Rossetti like a book; I can't say I know any poet like a book; I have three poets to whom I go for rest and refreshment-Whitman, Emerson, Rossetti." "Well," he said, "of course you know the sonnet `The House of Light'?" I was on familiar ground then, more or less, and replied, "Yes, I have read that." "What"? he said, "Mr. Bangs, only read that?" I said, "Well, what else can a man do to a sonnet?" He replied, "Why, you could live them; haven't you lived them?" I replied, "Well, I don't know, but I guess--yes, perhaps I have lived one or two of them, anyhow." He said, "Every man who lives and thinks has loved the sonnet of `Lost Days'." I said, "Well, I just remember that there was such a sonnet, but I don't remember how it. goes." "Why," he said, "it goes this way"-and that old man threw his head back and began to recite Rossetti's sonnet on "Lost Days." As he went on, his face took on some of the mellow, lyric quality of the speaking voice of Mark Twain, which was one of the loveliest speaking voices I have ever listened to, in which almost every word seemed like a measure of music. The contrast between the thing that that man was and the thing that he was doing, was so great that I closed my eyes. I was afraid that my senses were deceiving me, and that something I had eaten or otherwise consumed was causing me to have a peculiarly agreeable kind of delirium; so I kept my eyes closed while that old man recited the "Lost Days"
The lost days of my life until today,
What were they, could I see them on the street
Lie as they fell? Would they be ears of wheat
Sown once for food, but trodden into clay?
Or golden coins squandered and still to pay?
Or drops of blood dabbling the guilty feet?
Or such spilt water as in dreams must cheat
The undying throats of Hell, athirst alway?
I do not see them here, but after death
God knows I know the faces I shall see,
Each one a murdered self, with low last breath,
"I am myself,-what hast thou done to me?"
"And I-and I-thyself," (lo! each one saith,)
"And thou thyself to all eternity."
When the old man had finished I kept my eyes closed; I did not want the spell of this enchanted moment to be broken ; 'but in .a moment the spell was broken by a sob on the other side of me. The old tramp sat with his head buried in his folded arms, and was crying like a child that had been struck and was smarting under a sense of injustice. I realized that the time had come for the expression of some kind of sympathy; and for the first time in my life, I realized that the English language was inadequate for the expression of what was in the human heart. I knew that sometimes the touch of a hand could express more than a spoken word, and I rose up and crossed the aisle and placed my hand on that shaking shoulder as much, as to say, "Never mind, old man, I understand." The minute he felt the touch of my hand, he began to shiver and straighten up, and he threw his head back and rubbed his eyes and looked up -at me and said, "Ah, Mr. Bangs, the trouble with a thing like that is that it takes you with it and makes you think. My God, I don't dare to think; if I ever dared to think I could not consent to live. In moments of that kind I get so depressed that I turn to the other Rossetti -Christina Rossetti's lyric; and oh, the comfort I have got out of her song, `When I am Dead'." .
WHEN I AM DEAD
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me:
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember.
And haply may forget.
When he finished that he looked up, and the tears were still coursing upon his checks, but there was a smiling light in his eye and the quiver of a smile on his lips, as he turned to me and said, "Ah, Mr. Bangs, that is the sort of thing that doesn't take you here (pointing to his head), but takes you here (touching his heart), and makes you feel that you have courage to go on, because, after all, life is a beautiful thing." (Loud applause)
That man stayed with me until I got to Phoenix. When I got to Phoenix I discovered that he was a true salubrity. He not only had shown himself to be a wit, to possess the gift of humour, a master in the arts of song, and a poet in his powers of interpretation of lyric beauty and authors' thoughts, but, when he got to Phoenix, he also showed himself a profoundly salubrious philosopher. When I descended from the train, I held out my hand and took his and said, "My dear sir, I want to tell you something; you have given me one of the most delightful experiences that I have had in all my life, and I thank you for it from the bottom of my soul. Now I want to strike a bargain with you. You have the advantage over me; you know who I am, bust I don't know who you are. Now, we all need friends in this world; the world is better if we all remain friends together; let us, you and me, be friends. You tell me where I can find you, and I will promise you I will not let a month go by in the next twelve months in which you will not receive some kind of a word from me, if it is nothing more than a postal card, to let you know that somebody somewhere is thinking of you affectionately." (Applause) That man reached out his hand and placed it upon my shoulder and looked at me very carefully he was twenty-five years older than I. He fixed his eye upon me and said, "Mr. Bangs, who I am is one of the least important things in God's beautiful world; the really important thing for a man to remember is the kind of person that I am. I am one of those unfortunate beings who began life at the top of the ladder, and moved in the other direction until only the foot was left open to me." He turned and bent downward, he turned away from me; then he reached back and seized my hand, gave it an affectionate pressure, dropped it, passed up the street, turned the first corner, and passed out of my life, forever. Ladies and Gentlemen, in my mind, the connotation of that story is that there is nothing in the world that is more fallacious than the thing that appears to be obvious. If you will only look below the surface, below the superficial manifestations which are full of irritation and attritions between one man and another, you will really get down to the genuine gold of the human heart.
And let me say to you, in respect to my own beloved country .and in respect to yours, can you not sometimes look down below the surface, beneath the thing which for the moment seems to be obvious, look right down into the heart and the soul of the true American? You will find there the something that will tell you, beyond the possibility of any contradiction, that in his ideals, in his hopes, in his aspirations, he is most truly your brother. (Loud and long-continued applause)
PRESIDENT HEWITT: Our good friend, the orator of the Empire Club, Mr. Monro Greer, will express your thanks on behalf of the club.
MR. R. MONRO GREER
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,-I find myself in an exceedingly difficult position at the present moment, not that I have failed to enjoy with you what we have heard, but rather that I have enjoyed it so much that the things which in a sort of rough way were in my mind to be spoken by me have been almost entirely dissipated, and really my mind and heart are simply whelmed with this thought, that to-night you and I have met not only a celebrity-a comparatively insignificant being but a salubrity, in the person of John Kendrick Bangs. (Loud applause) Since I have been asked to .try to speak your thanks, and since, in fact, a portion of time has been allotted to me, I shall try to say one or two things; and in my effort I shall simply try to indicate to you somewhat of the modesty of Mr. Bangs in making no reference to his own works this evening, and to indicate to him and remind ourselves that he is well advised when he supposes-indeed, when he knows-that the hearts of the men of good-will of his country and the hearts of the men and women of good-will of both countries are just the same, and beat responsively the one to the other. (Applause)
Now let me tell you a few things in regard to the speaker of to-night-I made enquiry, of course, as to some of the matters. (Great laughter) I am not to speak of books, but I am to speak rather of the salubrity than the celebrity. In the allusions which I shall make to him, I shall refer not so much to him as a writer, but rather as a man and a prophet.
I met our old friend Baron Munchausen and asked him something about Mr. Bangs. He said, "My dear fellow, Mr. Bangs is one of the most remarkable beings that ever was known in the series of incarnations that he had before this present one. He was suddenly asked, `Will you meet Socrates? Will you meet Xantippe? Will you meet Shakespeare?' and so on. And he replied, `No, I'll see him or her in Hades first."' (Laughter) Our guest this evening is a man of immense imagination and fertile in design. He built a comfortable houseboat and set it afloat on the Styx-for, he sticks at nothing (laughter) and in that appropriate river he made the acquaintance of those several gentlemen referred to. You who, like myself, have read not alone the "Houseboat on the Styx" but the "Pursuit of the House-boat," will be pleased to be reminded that, in the preface of that second volume, there is a testimony of thanks paid to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for the untimely end of Sherlock Holmes, without whose aid in the Shades the pursuit of the house-boat could never have been properly carried out. (Applause) But mark you, again, the prevailing instincts of the man. Who, of all the great literary men, at all events in fictional character, in England today, is occupying himself chiefly with the Shades? It is that man whose type in fiction was Sherlock Holmes, and who in real life is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, (Laughter) Thus you will see that our friend has had an immense influence, quite outside of his work. But why need I say anything of himself? That he has demonstrated to us. We welcome him as the author of his own written words; we welcome him almost more as the spokesman of his uttered word this evening; but we of the Empire Club welcome him in another aspect tonight. The vast Empire of this Club is the British Empire, but there is a still vaster one; it is the Empire of Letters, because it includes the whole British Empire and all empires and all nations and kingdoms.
To-night we are welcoming whom?-one who represents the British section of that stupendous empire of words; and I venture to say this, which will not be gainsaid by any, that much as we admire other tongues upon the face of the globe, and appreciate the splendid qualities they possess; for our own part we cannot find anything quite so fine or fitting or beautiful, for all the virile purposes of life, as the tongue which is spoken in common by the countrymen of our visitor and by ourselves, the language of William Shakespeare-the English tongue itself. (Applause)
He comes, then, representing that language, and he comes as the author of books, those things which have brought such happiness into the lives of all; as some have said, food for the young, comfort for the old, adornment in prosperity, and a solace in adversity. To some of us there possibly may not be exaggeration at any time of the worth and value of books. Many who have known what sorrow is, and have wished for a while to be transported from their griefs have found surcease from care in books. It matters not whether they have chosen for this purpose the stupendously grand lyrical qualities of Christina Rossetti or some other author according with their tastes, the result is that, at a speed greater than that of the most noted flying man on earth, they have been wafted away from the realm of sorrow in which they live to a splendid realm peopled by the great of old. This man represents books to us tonight; we say to him that we speak the common language, and we welcome him as representing the British section of this wonderful Empire of Letters. Is there anything which cannot be done by this stupendous language of ours? Have we not already learned it from the poems which have been given to us incidentally by the speaker whilst he has been speaking to us? Who could possibly listen unmoved to those wonderful words of Kipling, or to those lighter poems which he gave? None of us. What words better than English can describe some of the exquisite music, for instance, that we have listened to to-night, whether vocal or instrumental? What does Tennyson say?
There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass.
And that fine line from Longfellow
When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
And then that wonderful language of a fellow countryman, in part, of mine, as well as of my own friend here, the great Burns
Oh, my luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
Oh, my luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
Those are the things that can be done by our English tongue, but they can describe as well things of horror, things of splendour, things of warfare, things of patriotism. What is the inspiration which presently some are going to feel amongst us, for instance, when later on we shall have the remembrance and the coming day of St. George:
The game's afoot;
Follow your spirit: and, upon, this charge,
Cry-"God for Harry! England! and St. George!"
I will not take up more of your time, lest by any chance I should diminish by the slightest degree our recollection of the fine address which we have had this evening; but in giving the thanks of this meeting to Mr. Bangs I wish to tell him this-and I give it to him in the spirit of the English poet who, when addressing America, said-
Gigantic daughter of the West,
We drink to thee across the flood;
We know thee most, we love thee best,
For art thou not of British blood.
Sir, I have the honour and pleasure of extending to you the thanks of the Empire Club of Canada. (Loud applause and cheers)