The Mackaye Mystery

H.L. Mencken

The Smart Set/September, 1910

If you were to ask me to name the best dramatic poet that the United States has yet produced, I should nominate Percy Mackaye without the slightest hesitation, and if, in the same breath, you were to demand the name of the worst dramatic critic now living among us I should nominate Mackaye again. Let me hasten to assure you that I am not seeking by such veiled comparisons to blast the honorable fame or discourage the honest striving of any other man. One beholds in this fair republic a multitude of bad dramatic critics. Every newspaper of any pretentions employs one, and some of them, it must be confessed, are so inordinately skillful in certain specialties and sub-departments of badness that they run Mackaye a hard race. William Winter, to choose but a single example, is fully as bigoted as he, and twice as moral, and four times as hunkerous, and sixteen times as evangelical. Winter seems to me, indeed, to be the greatest living virtuoso of homiletic lachrymosity, an incomparable and almost superhuman toreador of virtue, a Parkhurst multiplied by Comstock, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Orison Swett Marden. I always think of him as writing upon a sort of extra sensitive litmus paper, which breaks into scarlet blushes every time he puts the name of Paula Tanqueray upon it.

But from all this frenzy for chemical purity, with its unmatchable potentiality for badness, one must subtract the ancient Winter’s exceedingly agreeable style, his coherent if elemental processes of ratiocination and the hearty masculinity of his rages. He is, in brief, amusing as well as irritating—a critic whose abundant graces sometimes obscure the plain fact that he is usually wrong. Mackaye, as a bad critic, shows no such corrupting merits. He is bad all over, from head to heels—atrociously and intolerably bad. A diligent search of his one volume of critical fulminations, “The Playhouse and the Play,” fails to discover a single excuse for its composition and printing. It is of weak, Harvardian platitudes all compact, and it is written in an affected, sophomoric, highfalutin’ style that would do discredit to the valedictorian of a class of divinity students.

But when we flee from Mackaye the critic to Mackaye the dramatist it is a very different Mackaye that we encounter. This playwriting fellow is well worth knowing and heeding.

He is a fluent and colorful writer, a master of verbal magic, a skillful dramatic craftsman, a true maker and singer. There are passages in “The Canterbury Pilgrims” and “Sappho and Phaon” that have been excelled by no English dramatic poet of the day; there are whole scenes, in every one of his plays, that show striking and numerous beauties. Saving only Stephen Phillips, indeed, Mackaye of the blank verse has no serious rival among us, and even beyond the lingual frontiers there are few living men who have surpassed him.

How it happens that so splendid a maker of dramas is, at the same time, so puerile and vapid a critic of the drama I’m sure I don’t know. The combination, however, is common, just as the combination of good critic and bad dramatist is common. Mr. Walkley, for example, is the first of living dramatic critics, and yet I am certain that it would tax him to the utmost to produce even so childish a dramatic composition as the first act of “The Lion and the Mouse,” or the last act of “Camille,” or the whole of Mr. Winter’s favorite, “Jim the Penman.” And, on the side of Mackaye, there is Henry Arthur Jones, another excellent dramatist who begins to cackle inanely every time he ventures into dramatic criticism. The dramatist plus critic, in truth, is a rare bird. I can think of Ben Jonson, John Dryden and G. B. S., but no other—at least at the moment. In music there is the same tale to tell. Schumann, Berlioz and Wagner were great as composers and great as critics. Who else?

But I started out, not to discuss psychological and artistic mysteries, but to praise Mackaye. The excuse is offered by the publication, after a wait of ten or twelve years, of his earliest play, a “dramatic reverie” begun during his student days at Harvard and finished “at the Villa Aldobrandini, Frascati, near Rome,” and now issued under the title of “A Garland to Sylvia” (Macmillan, $1.25). “A Garland to Sylvia” has not yet seen the boards, and there is good reason to doubt that it ever will, for its stage directions would tax even the ingenious Belasco, but it so pleased E. H. Sothern, the actor, when it was submitted to him long ago, that he commissioned Mackaye to write a comedy for him, and the result was “The Canterbury Pilgrims.” Incidentally, it won for its author a long and encouraging article from the pen of a New York dramatic critic, which proves that there are good critics in America as well as bad ones.

The plot of this charming little piece is simple enough, though here and there the lush imagination of the young poet tends to obfuscate it a bit. The central figure is Felix Cloudsley, a poetizing college senior, whom we may accept quite frankly, I suppose, as Mackaye himself. Felix, to put it in plain English, is Shakespeare drunk. He has steeped himself in the gorgeous word music of the peerless bard as Thackeray once steeped himself in Addison’s Haydnesque prose. Thoughts fall, in his mind, into sonorous Shakespearean verse; the world about him is peopled with the ghosts of Falstaff and Rosalind, Dogberry and Hermione, the Gobbos and Viola; the paths he treads in his evening walks lead him infallibly to the Forest of Arden or the coast of Bohemia.

What more natural, then, than that he should attempt a drama in the Shakespearean manner, and that he should make that most elusive of Shakespearean charmers, the Sylvia of “Who is Sylvia?” its heroine? And what more natural, after he has accompanied her through a couple of acts, than that he should fall head over heels in love with her? But too late, too late! His own play is against him. The dramatist has played a foul trick upon the lover. For in the third act Sandrac, a hateful Oxford don, wins Sylvia in fair joust with half a dozen other suitors, and Sandrac is now making loud (and quite reasonable) demands that she come to his arms and be his love, and submit her Cupid’s bow of a mouth to his hot, hymeneal kisses. What is poor Felix to do? Is Sylvia, in truth, lost to him forever? Pondering the problem gloomily he falls into a reverie, and from his reverie he passes into a land of shadows, and there his Sylvia meets him and kisses him and bids him be of hope.

A way out! Sylvia finds it! Taking Felix by the hand, she leads him to the fount of Lethe, guarded by its three Mist Mothers, and the two fill a flask from its waters. Then they fare back to Sylvia’s home, where Sandrac awaits his bride. The wedding feast has begun and Sandrac joins the company in a health to Sylvia. As Hikrion, Sylvia’s father, pours out the wine for him into a wooden cup “Felix reaches over his shoulder and drops into the cup liquid from his own flask.” Sandrac drinks to the dregs —and at once a darkness falls and he begins to fade to a shadow. The other folk at the feast fade, too—all save Felix and Sylvia. As the curtain comes down we see them hand in hand, and a choir of sylvan sprites, led by a satyr, sings Shakespeare’s song to Sylvia.

So much for the plot and machinery of the masque. Its chief beauties, of course, are beauties of detail—the rich luxuriance of the verse, the Elizabethan color of the incidental lyrics, the reality and rotundity of the personages, the fragrant, faery atmosphere. The purpose of such a fantasy is to create a mood, and that purpose the young poet achieves most creditably. One strolls with him into a land that never was—a land of day dreams, of shepherds piping in grassy dells of deep enchanted woods, of bird song, of young love and young lovers. It is, in fine, the Forest of Arden. I know of no more striking imitation, in this unpoetical age, of the sixteenth century Shakespeare—not the serious, self-conscious metaphysician of the bald dome and coat-of-arms, but the lighthearted devil of the 1590’s and the early comedies. Into his later plays, of course, Mr. Mackaye has put more from his own mind and less from his reading, but into none has he put more charm.

The masque proper, save for a single scene, is written in Dante’s terza rima, a limpid and graceful form. The odd scene is written in Shakespearean sonnets, while the dialogue which introduces and elucidates the masque is either in prose or in decasyllabic blank verse. Mr. Mackaye handles all of these forms with resourcefulness and skill, taking full advantage of “the amazingly loose conditions which Shakespeare claimed.” It is, of course, the work of a very young man that we have before us—he was but twenty-two when it was begun—and now and then a touch of amusing gaucherie makes us remember the fact with distinctness; but taking it by and large, it is work that needs no apology. But why, oh, why, did Mackaye the poet permit Mackaye the bad critic to disfigure so delightful a little book with a pompous and pifflish preface?

“Civilization,” says James J. Hill, in his new book, “Highways of Progress” (Doubleday-Page, $1.50), “is mostly the story of the triumph of the human stomach in its struggle for food sufficient for the work of physical and mental evolution.” Here we have what seems to be a frank acceptance of the Marxian “materialistic conception of history,” the cornerstone of Socialism, but Mr. Hill, it quickly appears, is far from a Socialist. In so far as the management of railroads is concerned, in truth, he is the very opposite, for he sets up an eloquent plea, not for their further regulation, but for their complete and immediate liberation from state interference. It may be said for him that this plea of his is supported by a good many very ingenious arguments. He shows clearly, for example, how his effort to build up a large and profitable trade with the Orient was nullified by one stroke of a bureaucratic pen. In order to tempt the Mongolians to buy from us he established huge steamship lines on the Pacific, and made extremely low freight rates on the Great Northern Railway, from the Middle West to the Pacific ports. These rates were adjusted to the circumstances of each large shipment; when a new commodity appeared at the trackside it was hauled as cheaply as possible, sometimes even at a downright loss; the object was not to make immediate profits, but to blaze a new caravan route across the northern wilderness and a new steamer lane across the lonely western seas. But the Interstate Commerce Commission could understand no such epic planning. It saw only the letter of the law, and that letter forbade the wet nursing of new traffics. A barrel of flour was a barrel of flour. The price for carrying it across the Rockies must be the same to all, no matter what its ultimate destination and no matter how salubrious the moral effect of its sale. And so perished Hill’s fine scheme for widening Uncle Sam’s markets. The Commission made him charge the full published rate upon all shipments and it was no longer possible to tempt the wily Oriental with bargains.

Mr. Hill prints tables showing how this baleful ruling emptied his ships and laid up his freight cars. He then proceeds to estimate the net loss to the people of the United States—and here he quickly goes aground. The sale of millions of barrels of American flour in the Far East, he says, would have lifted the price of American wheat in the home market from five to seven cents, and on a yield of 650,000,000 bushels a year, he proceeds to argue, this would have meant “a clear gain of at least $32,500,000 in the national wealth”—a plain absurdity, for the people of the United States and not the Chinese would have had to pay that extra sum into the pockets of the farmers, and so the gain to the nation, as a nation, would have been little, if anything. The only effect visible to the average American, indeed, would have been a further increase in the cost of living, a consummation devoutly not to be wished.

Mr. Hill is on safer ground when he discourses upon the appalling waste of our natural resources, a subject to which he has evidently given long and thoughtful attention. He estimates that the population of the United States will be 204,041,223 in 1950 and that these unfortunate folk will have to scramble hard for a living. The Pennsylvania anthracite fields, he says, will be exhausted in fifty years and our iron ore will last little longer.

Meanwhile, unless the productivity of our farms vastly increases we will soon have to import a lot of wheat, rye, cabbages, alfalfa and other victuals. Our farms now yield but twelve or fifteen bushels of wheat to the acre. In England, upon land farmed for 2,000 years, the yeomen raise thirty; in France and Germany, the more assiduous soil ticklers produce even more. Mr. Hill sounds a solemn warning. We must devote more land to crops and less to national parks, game preserves, golf links and military cemeteries; we must have more farmers and better ones; we must cease our prodigal waste of riches. If we keep on as we are going our grandchildren will be ravaged by famines.

From Hill the dismal economic Jokanaan let us turn to Hill the frenzied financier. We come upon him in the third volume of Gustavus Myers’s “History of the Great American Fortunes” (Kerr, $1.50). It is not the ponderous and bewhiskered sage of today that we behold, but a brisk young fellow with a talent for annexing the elusive dollar. He appears in the specific role of a railroad wrecker and gobbler—accumulating the bonds of little roads, bearing them artistically by discreet chicanery, foreclosing the mortgages and then buying in the rusty tracks. Soon we find him in complete control of a line stretching from St. Paul to the heart of Manitoba, part of it made up of gobbled roads and part of connecting links built with the profits of gobbling. George Stephen and Donald A. Smith, Canadians like himself, are his partners in the game. Today Stephen is the puissant Lord Mount-Stephen, a magnifico of the English peerage, and Smith is Lord Strathcona. Hill himself is so rich that he can afford to wear his hair long and write books on political economy. An interesting and even enthralling tale of scheming and dreaming! The story of a gobbler with imagination!

Mr. Myers is a painstaking historian and the three volumes of his history so far issued are among the most entertaining books I have ever encountered. He supports his accusations with references to chapter and verse, with affidavit, Bertillon measurement and thumbprint. He has plowed through hundreds of dreary reports of Congressional whitewashing committees, through thousands of volumes of court reports, through the moldering files of scores of newspapers. The result is a clear exposition of the manner in which the greater fortunes of the United States have been accumulated—by robbing the Indian, by slave trading, by bribing city councils, state legislatures and the national Congress, by juggling poor folks’ money in the banks, by blackjacking the government in time of war, by wrecking railroads, by selling wooden nutmegs and embalmed bacon, by defrauding the customs, by hoggishness and felony of in numerable varieties. Mr. Myers is a Socialist and so his own story makes him extremely indignant. I can well understand that indignation of his (for even the anti-Socialist reader must develop some measure of it), but all the same it seems to me that it leads him into a one-sided and erroneous reading of history. In other words, he proves, by ample evidence, that nine-tenths of the great fortunes of the United States have been amassed by fraud and corruption—and then proceeds to the quite unwarranted conclusion that the country would have been the gainer had they not been amassed at all.

To this conclusion I cannot follow him. On the contrary, I am firmly convinced that the growth of great fortunes has been of enormous net advantage to the United States—that is to say, that the average American has gained thereby a good deal more than he has lost.

True enough, he has been looted unmercifully, day in and day out, but the money thus wrested from him by guile has been spent for national com forts and conveniences in which, in the main, he fully shares. Because the original Pullman crowd was made up of pitiless and cunning fellows, travel in the United States is now more comfortable than travel in any other land. Because John D. Rockefeller has no conscience, cerebro-spinal meningitis is now (through the agency of the Rockefeller Institute) a curable disease. Because J. Pierpont Morgan was once free to pillage the plain people, the plain people are now free to get whatever stimulation comes from the contemplation of a great art collection. Because the early railroad magnates were bribers and thieves, every part of our fair country is now open to the settler.

In other words, the money wrested from the public by billionaires is not money thrown into the sea. All but a small part of it remains among us and is constantly at work for us.

The American people, as a people, still own it. All that has happened to it is that it has been transferred from one pocket to another—from that pocket which pays for kegs of beer, crayon portraits, patent medicines, plush sofas and the other delights of the proletariat to that pocket which pays for railroad systems, art galleries, orchestras, cathedrals, hospitals and universities. It has been turned, in brief, from more or less bad uses to more or less good uses. A keg of beer, once emptied, is merely so much garbage, but a Johns Hopkins Hospital, once established and endowed, has a permanent and cumulative value.

It is commonly argued, I am well aware, that if the common people were not robbed so sedulously by the trusts they would have more money to pay in taxes, and that the state would thus have funds enough to do the civilizing work now done by malefactors. That argument, it seems to me, is purely academic. What difference does it make to the common people whether their money is extracted from them by the government or by peculiarly enterprising private citizens, so long as a fair portion of it is spent for their good? The first method, it so happens, is the more convenient one under a monarchy and the second is the more convenient one under a democracy. That is the only difference between the two. Under the Second Empire the earthlings of France were taxed unmercifully by Napoleon III, and the result was the magnificent Paris we know today. Under our American democracy we proletarians have been taxed unmercifully by John D. Rockefeller, and the result is that we no longer die copiously of cerebro-spinal meningitis, as we once did, and will soon cease to die, it seems probable, of pneumonia and cancer. What are the odds? All progress is made under the direction of the higher castes—but at the expense of the lower. In order that Koch might discover the tuberculosis germ and Nietzsche might deliver his wallops at superstition and Bismarck might create a nation, the peasants of Prussia, through many long years, had to be content with a good deal less dunkel and a good deal less sauerbraten than they yearned for in their secret hearts.

Ivan Trepoff, author of “Forsaken” (Cochrane, $1.25), gives fair warning, in a preface signed “The Publisher,” that his story is powerful stuff. “People of soft sensibilities, narrow prejudices and sickly sentimentality,” he says, had better not tackle it, and “mollycoddles and weaklings” are frankly advised to shun it as a pestilence. Mr. Trepoff, going further, enumerates other classes that will find it too strong for them—“pious preachers,” for example, and “aged spinsters of puritanical proclivities.” The former, he opines, will “say that the ethics of the book are monstrous” and the latter, he hints, will blush themselves into dangerous fevers if they read it. Even ordinary, everyday prudes will find it “frightfully immodest.”

Mr. Trepoff is right. His story is powerful, not to say diaphoretic. Never since duty forced me, a naif and modest man, to read Hutchins Hapgood’s “An Anarchist Woman” have I come upon fiction of a more assertive medical flavor or, perhaps, I had better say, pathology with a thinner coating of fiction. In the very first chapter, which introduces us to a wedding, the bridegroom is described, not as the ordinary novelist would describe him, but as a coroner’s physician might describe him. We learn, before we know even his name, that his scalp is visible “through dry crinkly hair,” that “a bluish discoloring vein (sic) near the outer angle of the eyelid” accentuates the thinness of his eyebrow, and that other strange marks of disease are all over him. In the second chapter we are illuminated as to the nature of his malady, and for several chapters following we follow the development of its symptoms. The author grows so absorbed in the subject that he unconsciously retains the vocabulary of the clinic, even when speaking of other things. In describing the bride at the wedding, for example, he informs us ingenuously that “at the root of her neck a slight elevation outlined her collarbone,” and later on, when he desires to give us a vivid picture of the bridegroom at a dramatic moment, he goes straightway to the accident ward for his figure of speech and tells us that the poor fellow “looked like a man who had been shot in the abdomen.”

It is obvious that this book is for medical practitioners only. The layman will get little entertainment out of it and less information. He is not familiar enough with the aspect of gentlemen shot in the abdomen. Tell him that the hero resembles a man sliced with a dull razor, or kicked with a No. 12 shoe, or bruised by a falling oil painting entitled “Mother and Child,” or knocked down by an automobile, or chewed by an Irish setter—and at once a familiar and realistic image arises before his mind’s eye. But it is so seldom that he sees a man pierced by bullets, either below or above the diaphragm, that no very vivid picture of the spectacle sticks in his memory, and so it lacks illustrative value.

Toward the middle of his book, Mr. Trepoff abandons morbid anatomy and goes in for rough and tumble fighting in the deserts of Africa. More than once he seems to be in some doubt, in this part, as to what it is all about. At the end the film runs fast and we jump from Fifth Avenue to Algeria in half a page. A strange tale! An unprecedented and unearthly mixture of rhetoric and path ogenic spirill —of laughing gas and ipecacuanha!

Another novelist who sounds a solemn warning in his preface is A. S. M. Hutchinson, the English author of “Once Aboard the Lugger—“ (Kennerley, $1.50), but in this case the warning is addressed, not to the “people of soft sensibilities” and “aged spinsters of puritanical proclivities” of the devilish Trepoff, but to those potential readers who possess, in an exaggerated degree, the universal human fancy for the improper. (Do I hear an indignant protest? Am I libeling the human race? Am I ascribing to others, unjustly and against the facts, my own hearty relish for the great deeds of the estimable Gargantua? I think not. As I have hinted by the use of the word “exaggerated,” there are undoubtedly considerable differences of degree in the taste for the salacious, and not many persons are so wholly its slaves as some of our lady novelists, but if you will find me a human being, young or old, male or female, pious or sinful, in whom that taste does not appear at all, I shall show you a human being of a species hitherto unknown in the world. Why is impropriety so infernally fascinating? Why do sedate old ladies, who would faint at the mere mention of “Tom Jones” and fall shrieking into the aisles if the first scene of “Romeo and Juliet” were actually played upon the stage—why do such estimable ancients show so much interest in medical, and particularly obstetrical anecdote? I’m sure I don’t know. No doubt the answer will be found after the allied problem as to the nature and genesis of modesty has been satisfactorily solved. So far as I am aware, no psychologist has ever explained modesty in a comprehensible fashion. Havelock Ellis essayed the task—and then gave it up as hopeless. The lower animals have no sense of modesty and no fancy for the obscene. The two facts may be unrelated, but there are sound enough reasons for believing them to be brothers. The taste for impropriety has nothing whatever to do with the sense of humor, though both sometimes get stimulation out of the same event.

Some of the lower animals—the dogs, for example— have a very keen sense of humor and a great relish for horseplay, but it is impossible to discern in them any conception of indecency.)

But to return to Mr. Hutchinson and his solemn warning. He addresses it, as I have said, to all who demand a riotous slaughter of the commandments, and particularly of the seventh, in every novel they read. “Once Aboard the Lugger—” is not for that sort of connoisseur. “There are,” says Mr. Hutchinson, “no problems in this history, nor is the reader to be tickled by any risks taken with nice deportment. This history may be kept upon shelves that are easily accessible. It is true that you will be invited to spend something of a night in a lady’s bedroom, but the matter is carried through with circumspection and dispatch. There shall not be a blush.”

The story, it must be admitted, bears out the promises of the prospectus. It deals, not with the polygamy of the fourth decade nor with the pessimism of the fifth, but with the optimistic monogamy of the third—with the honest love, in brief, of three-and-twenty. It is a light and romantic tale, a tale which leaves a pleasant flavor. We are introduced into the household of Mr. Christopher Marrapit, a fantastic dragon made of a leg and an eye from Dickens, a brow and a brisket from Meredith and so on, and we are made privy to the love of his fair daughter, Margaret, for young William Wyvern, a rising journalist, and of his nephew, George, for the sweet and unfortunate Mary Humfray. George is a medical student who has staggering difficulties with his examinations and pins all faith upon getting money enough out of his uncle to buy a practice. Mary is an orphan from Ireland who finds the folk of England inhuman. It is the business of the story to tell us how a cab accident shoots Mary into George’s arms, how he tracks her home, how he rescues her dramatically from a villain, how he wins her innocent love, how he manages to overcome his close-fisted uncle, and how, in the end, he and his Mary are united in holy matrimony. Incidentally, we go to the wedding of Margaret and William, too, and so the curtain falls to the strain of harps and muted fiddles. An old-fashioned, simple-hearted, dephlogisticated, Victorian romance, with plenty of elemental humor in it and a number of very agree able people.

“Elisabeth Davenay,” by Claire de Pratz (Kennerley, $1.50), belongs to the fast growing literature of woman’s suffrage, and like H. G. Wells’s “Ann Veronica” it is a study of the suffragette in love. What is the dear girl to do when her duty to the Sacred Cause pulls one way and her yearning to be smothered in kisses by a Certain Hideous Male pulls the other?

Ann Veronica frankly yielded to the man, and was apparently glad of it ever thereafter, but Elisabeth Davenay, after a long struggle, sends him away. “I had two paths,” she writes to him, “to choose from—either to devote my energy to what is undisguisedly my duty as a human being or to yield to the urgings of personal passion. . . . I find that my work is in reality the stronger. . . . If I linked my future with yours, I should hinder you as you would hinder me. . . . The past has held sweet hours for us, dear—has it not? Let it live for us in our memories.” And so Elisabeth goes to London to become one of the editors of a great suffragette daily and Andre Nortier goes back to his lecturing and his piano playing. Mlle. de Pratz’s story is a good deal less vivid and engaging than Mr. Wells’s, but all the same it shows no little insight into character and no little accuracy of observation. The central problem of the woman’s movement, after all, is the sex problem. Are women ready to give up the ancient privileges of their sex—the right to be wooed and won and petted and protected, the right to face the world behind a breastwork of men, the right to reason by emotion? Are they really fit to grapple with reality? In the case of Elisabeth Davenay one somehow feels that, soon or late, she will come back to her Andre. She is no rawboned she-ruffian, in goggles and a union suit, but an essentially feminine woman, pretty, well gowned and rather more than half romantic. As for Andre, he is a fellow that any woman might view with a flutter. He is successful, he is domineering, he has good looks—and he loves the eighteenth century composers and “the delicate and intricate lacework” of their music. Find me a man who rejoices in Haydn and I will show you a man that any sane woman should be proud to hug.

“The Illustrious Prince,” the latest of E. Phillips Oppenheim’s galloping tales (Little-Brown, $1.50), shows all of his customary ingenuity. As the curtain rises we see an American diplomatic agent arriving in England with papers which bring functionaries high and low to their knees before him, their foreheads touching the floor. Then we see him lying dead, with a knife through his heart. Then we are introduced to a crafty Japanese prince, a near relative to the Mikado, and learn all about the world cruise of the American battleship fleet. And finally we have a lot of love making and more international intriguing —and an entirely unexpected tableau at the close. Of that sort of thing Mr. Oppenheim is a master. There is something going on every second. More thrills are to be found in “The Pursuit,” by Frank Savile (LittleBrown, $1.50), the story of a youthful American millionaire with a ravishingly beautiful guardian, and of his kidnapping by Tangier felons, and of his rescue by the dashing Capt. John Aylmer of the British garrison at Gibraltar, and of Capt. Aylmer’s heroic wooing of Mistress Claire, the guardian aforesaid, with the Messina earthquake as a background! You will not fall asleep over “The Pursuit.” Another anti-soporific is “The Girl Who Won,” by Beth Ellis (Dodd-Mead, $1.50), an electric tale of King William’s time, in the course of which Capt. Douglas Tremayne has the very devil of a time winning and wing the beautiful Elizabeth Laxley, and there is much dealing with Jacobins, highwaymen and other such pests, and the good King himself plays a star role. Yet another—and perhaps the best of them—is “When Love Calls Men To Arms,” by Stephen Chalmers (Small-Maynard, $1.50), a story of Scotland in the days following the destruction of the Armada, with a fascinating Spanish castaway as its heroine and Will Shaxper of the Bankside a shadowy figure in the background. Finally, there is “Blaze Derringer,” by Eugene P. Lyle, Jr. (Doubleday-Page, $1.50), the story of a red-haired and godless youth who is turned adrift by his father with $5,000 in his pocket and has all sorts of O-Henrian adventures in the republic of Sylvanhtlan, beneath the tropical moon.

Problems of Your Generation —
by Daisy Dewey.

(Arden Press, $1.00)
A slim book of vague New Thought nonsense.

Happy Island—
by Jennette Lee.
(Century Co., $1.00)
A new Uncle William book, as mellow as the first one.


by Ernest Powell.
(Badger, $1.00)
Bad, Bad!

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