Some Avenue Clubs In The Early Days
( Originally Published 1918 )
Some Avenue Clubs in the Early Days—The Invention of the Club—Cato or Dr. Johnson?—The Judgment of Thackeray—The Union—The Prolific Diedrich Knickerbocker—Omens of 1836—The Century—Its Descent from the Sketch and the Column—Old-Time Austerity—Leaders of the Talk —The Lotos—The Union League—The Manhattan—The First of the College Clubs—The Columbia Yacht—The New York Athletic—Rise and Fall of the Traveller's—The Arcadian.
"PRESUMING that my dear Bobby would scarcely consider himself to be an accomplished man about town until he had obtained an entrance into a respectable club, I am happy to inform you that you are this day elected a member of the ` Polyanthus,' having been proposed by my friend, Lord Viscount Colchicum, and seconded by your affectionate uncle. I have settled with Mr. Stiff, the worthy secretary, the preliminary pecuniary arrangements regarding the entrance fee and the first annual subscription—the ensuing payments I shall leave to my worthy nephew. You were elected, sir, with but two black-balls; and every other man who was put up for ballot had four, with the exception of Tom Harico, who had more black balls than white. Do not, however, be puffed up by this victory, and fancy yourself more popular than other men. Indeed, I don't mind telling you (but of course I do not wish it to go any farther) that Captain Slyboots and I, having suspicions of the meeting, popped a couple of adverse balls into the other candidates' boxes ; so that, at least, you should, in case of mishap, not be unaccompanied in ill-fortune."—Thackeray's " Mr. Brown the Elder takes Mr. Brown the Younger to a Club."
Very likely there are a few thousand New Yorkers, who like the present writer, not having considered the subject very deeply, have held to the vague idea that the club was an invention of a certain Dr. Samuel Johnson. Also that it came about in some such way as this. The Doctor had grown weary of bullying the patient Boswell, and browbeating the acquaintance met by chance in Fleet Street or the Strand did not entirely satisfy him. So one day, storming out of the Cheshire Cheese, after roundly abusing the lark-pie of which he had consumed an enormous quantity, he founded the first club, with the object of gathering together a number of his fellow-mortals in one place, and upon them pouring out the vials of his pompous and splenetic wrath.
One day, however, the " De Senectute " that had been long forgotten was recalled by a passage in Mr. James W. Alexander's " History of the University Club of New York." There it was pointed out, that as far back as 200 B.C., Cicero represented Cato as saying: " To begin with, I have always remained a member of a `Club.'
Clubs, as you know, were established in my quaestorship on the reception of the Magna Mater from Ida. So I used to dine at their feast with members of my club—on the whole with moderation." But, except as a point of historical interest, whether stern Cato or voluble Johnson was the inventor does not matter greatly to the New York club member who is airing his weekly grievance by drawing up a petition, or writing a scorching letter a day to the House Committee.
If you will listen to the Manhattanite of the older generation, you are likely to derive the impression that club life in New York is a matter of the last half-century at most. He is rather inclined to fleer at any pretension to American club life of earlier date. In one sense he is right. The club as we know it now is essentially a British institution modelled on British lines. More and more is the British idea being carried to the extreme, until we are associating club life with the vast club-house of spacious lounges and marble swimming pools, and a cuisine rivalling that of one of the great new hotels. The Fifth Avenue club of half a century ago had little magnificence as we now understand the word. It was a simpler and more limited hospitality that was offered to the friend or the distinguished stranger from overseas. Yet that hospitality must have had a rare flavour and atmosphere. There must have been something about it that went far to make up for mere material deficiencies, if we are to credit the verdicts of those who were in a position to compare American club life with club life in England and on the Continent. Thackeray was as fine a judge of the matter as any man who ever strutted through St. James's Park and scowled back at the Barnes Newcomeses and Captain Heavysideses in the club windows along Pall Mall, and there was what he said and wrote about the Century.
It was in the middle of the sixth decade of the last century that the clubs began to find their way into Fifth Avenue. One of the first was the Union Club. Writing of that organization in 1906, M. Charles Huard, in " New York comme je 1'ai vu," volunteered the puzzling information that it was " fonde en 1836 par les descendants de Knickerbocker, le plus vieux donc des grand clubs de New York." If the Frenchman was to be taken literally he apparently regarded the off-spring of Washington Irving's creation as an exceedingly prolific race. The Union, in 1855, moved from Broadway near Fourth Street into a house on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Twenty-first Street. That home, which the Union occupied until fifteen or twenty years ago, was described as " a superb structure which cost three hundred thousand dollars." It was the first building erected in the city solely for club purposes. Almost to the day of its demolition, although the neighbourhood about it was changing rapidly, the old house wore an aspect of dignity. To the corner the habitues of other years seldom come today. Instead, at the noon hour, the side-walks swarm with foreign faces and there is ex-cited babble in an alien tongue. The cloak and suit firm of Potash and Perlmutter is as much at home here now as it was in its East Broadway —or was it Division Street?—loft when the present eentury was coming into being.
There is an old volume, bearing the date 1871, called " The Clubs of New York." The author was a Francis Gerry Fairfield, and the chapters that make up the book were originally contributed to the columns of the " Home Journal." There is a perceptible smile on Mr. Fairfield's face as he writes of the town of thirty years before. To the present generation that smile is irresistibly funny. He recalls the year 1836, when the Union was founded as one of meteorological oddities. " Tradition preserves the record of the season under the designation of the cold summer. Weird auroras did not forbear to lift themselves in mountains of fire along the north, even in July; and more than once the canopy-aurora hung like a mock sun in the very centre of the heavens. People predicted strange things; but the strange things did not happen. The hyena of pestilence, the wolf of want, and the red death of war were conjured, but emerged not, nevertheless, from the vasty deep supposed by Shakespeare to be inhabited by their spirits." But Mr. Fairfield disclaims any suggestion that " the gestation of the Union Club, then in progress, had any material influence in the evolution of these omens, or that the weather was affected by the parturition of the great social event." With the metropolitan sophistication of 1871 he pats 1836 on the head as a year when New York was a bit of a village, of rather more than three hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. Houston, then North Street, Bleecker, and Bond Streets were particularly uptown, and thoroughfares of fashion and aristocracy. The old regime was still in its glory; and real counts, in plaid pantaloons, were sensational occurrences to be petted, set up as lions, and finally entrapped into matrimony, just by way of improving the blood of the first families. He tells of " the little white-faced hotel now termed the Tremont " as having been kept by a real count, expatriated for political reasons, but afterwards restored to titles and estates. There are those of the Year of Grace 1918 who recall the " little white-faced Tremont." But its soul has long since passed to t'other side of Styx.
From the day when the Union first opened its doors at No. 1 Bond Street, it was one of the wealthiest and most exclusive of New York clubs. The names of its organizers are names associated with the history of the city. Ogden Hoffman, whom Mr. Fairfield describes as a bald-headed, dreamy-eyed man, in his day the star of the New York Bar, both for fervid eloquence and profound learning "; Philip Hone, he of the immortal "Diary "; Thomas P. Oakley, Samuel Jones, Beverly Robinson, W. B. Lewrence, Charles King, E. T. Throop, and J. Depeyster Ogden. These were some of the men whose names were appended to the provisional constitution drawn up on June 30, 1836. C. Fenno Hoffman, " next to Morris the sweetest song-writer America has produced," later became a member of the association, which from its inception, was the representative organization of the old families. Livingstons, Clasons, Dunhams, Griswolds, Van Cortlandts, Paines, Centers, Vandervoorts, Stuyvesants, Van Renssalaers, Irelands, Suydams, and other names of Knickerbocker fame, filled its list of member-ship with a sort of aristocratic monotony of that Knickerbockerism, which has since, to use the words of Mr. Fairfield again, " in solemn and silent Second Avenue (the Faubourg St. Germain of the city), earned the epithet of the Bourbons of New York." Solemn and silent Second Avenue is solemn and silent no more. Long since gone are the social glories of that thoroughfare that once boldly stepped forward to challenge the supremacy of the street that is the subject of this book. " Sic transit! " or something of the kind would have been the probable comment of Mr. Fairfield, for he, in common with others of his age, delighted in flinging in a scrap of Latin or French on every possible occasion. They were industrious investigators of the thesaurus in those days.
The first home of the Union, at No. 1 Bond Street, was in reality the house of its secretary, John H. L. McCrackan. In 1837 a building on Broadway near Leonard Street was secured, and the club moved into it, there to remain for three years. Then, for seven years, it was in a house on the other side of Broadway, and in 1847, obeying the prevalent impulse up-townward, it shifted its quarters to the spot from which it was later to remove to the Twenty-first Street home. That structure at Broadway and Fourth Street was the property of the Stuyvesant family, and after the departure of the men of the Union, was occupied by the confectioner Maillard as a hotel and restaurant. In 1852 the question of a permanent building began to be discussed, and in 1854 the land at the Twenty-first Street corner was secured and the work of erecting the structure that in its day was the most imposing of all that lined Fifth Avenue between Waverly .Place and the Broadway junction begun. The club moved into the new quarters in May, 1855, at a time when its membership numbered approximately five hundred. In writing of the Union as it was in 1871 Mr. Fairfield made the comment that literature was hardly represented at all, and journalism only by Manton Marble of the " World." As had been the case of Thackeray and the Atheneum of London, Mr. Marble, at the time of his first candidacy, had been blackballed. The objection, also as in the case of Thackeray, was ascribed not to the personality of the man, but to his profession. But Mr. Marble was eventually admitted through the efforts of a member of the Board of Directors, who declared boldly that not a new member should be elected until the blackballs against the journalist had been withdrawn. Robert J. Dillon, landscape gardener, and J. H. Lazarus, portrait painter, were almost the sole art representatives, and in 1871 J. Lester Wallack was the only actor on the club list. Wallack's great contemporary of the stage, Edwin Booth, was a member of the Century and of the Lotos. The law of the day was represented by such men as Mayor Hall, until he resigned as a result of the criticism of fellow-members growing out of the exposures of the Tammany frauds in the summer and autumn of 1871, W. M. Evarts, Judge Garvin, Judge Gunning S. Bedford, Eli P. Norton, and John E. Burrill. Of men prominent in political and municipal life were August Belmont, Samuel J. Tilden, Peter B. Sweeny, former Mayor George Opdyke, Isaac Bell, and Andrew H. Green, later to become the " Father of Greater New York." Among the dominant financial figures, in addition to August Belmont, were A. T. Stewart, John J. Cisco, Henry Clews, and John Jacob Astor. From the Army were U. S. Grant, then the nation's President, John H. Coster, George W. Cullom, Samuel W. Craw-ford, Howard Stockton, Rufus Ingalls, J. L. Rathbone, I. U. D. Reeve, and Stewart Van Vliet. From the Navy, James B. Breese, James Alden, Edward C. Gratton, Thomas M. Potter, Henry O. Mayo, James Glynn, W. C. Leroy, L. M. Powell, and John H. Wright.
By virtue of its descent from the Sketch and the Column, the Century Association might lay claim to seniority among the clubs of Fifth Avenue. The Sketch Club was the result of the union of the literary and artistic elements of New York, which, in 1829, were producing an annual called " The Talisman." Among the writers in the Sketch were Bryant, Verplanck, and Sands, and later Washington Irving and J. K. Paulding joined it. There was no regular home, the club meeting at the houses of members in turn.
For six months, during 1830, it did not exist, having been dissolved in May of that year, and reorganized in December. Thereafter, for a few years, it met in the Council Room of the National Academy of Design, and then returned to the custom of meeting at the homes of the members. That organization was the embryo Century. The Sketch Club had first taken form in 1829. Four years before that a society called the Column had been established by graduates of Columbia College. That organization, too, had a share in the moulding of the new club.
The meeting that brought the Century into being was held the evening of January 13, 1847, in the rotunda of the New York Gallery of Fine Arts in the City Hall Park. The call for the meeting had been sent out a few weeks before, the men composing the signing committee being John G. Chapman, A. B. Durand, C. C. Ingham, A. M. Cozzens, F. W. Edmonds, and H. T. Tuckerman. The original Centurions were forty-two in number, of whom twenty-five came from the Sketch, and six from the Column. There were ten artists, ten merchants, four authors, three bankers, three physicians, two clergymen, two lawyers, one editor, one diplomat, and three men of leisure. All were more or less representative men of the city, which had grown from the town of three hundred and fifty thousand of the day of the Union's formation, to a young metropolis of six hundred thousand. Gulian C. Verplanck was the club's first president, and back in his day began the Century's peculiar Twelfth Night Festival, which has been continued ever since. Twelfth Night with the Centurions is distinctive in that it is not an annual event nor the event of any given year. The very uncertainty of the ceremonial has added zest to the revel, which usually ends with an old-fashioned Virginia Reel. A few years ago the reel was led by Theodore Roosevelt and the late Joseph H. Choate.
The first home of the Century, which it occupied for two years, was in rooms at 495 Broadway-between Broome and Spring Streets. During this period a journal called the " Century " was started, and edited by F. S. Cozzens and John H. Gourley. Then, in 1848, the club moved to 435 Broome Street; thence, in 1850, to 575 Broadway ; in 1852, to Clinton Place, where Thackeray learned to love it, and where, by virtue of proximity, it first laid claim to be regarded as a Fifth Avenue club.
In Clinton Place the Century stayed until it went to its Fifteenth Street house, where it was so long to remain. Gulian Verplanck's presidency lasted for many years. At first it was a happy tenure of office. But the Civil War came, bringing with it grave dissensions. Verplanck may be said to have invited the divisions that crept into the club, and which led to his overwhelming defeat in the election of 1864. He was succeeded by the historian Bancroft, who held office until 1868, when he resigned because of his departure for Prussia as the United States Minister to Berlin.
From the very day when it took form the Century seems to have had an atmosphere—almost a history. In the years long before the more modern clubs of a literary flavour were dreamed of, the Century was bringing together the leading men-ofletters and of art of New York. Yet somehow the Century of early times impresses newer generations as having been tremendously portentous and dignified. There was never any suggestion of Bohemia. After the establishment of the Century the gifted Poe was to enjoy, or rather to endure, two more years of life. By no stretch of the imagination can we think of his being in the club, even as the guest of an evening. There was plenty of good-fellowship, no doubt, and good cheer, but also the chill of a certain reserve. The talk seems, after all the years, to have been essentially serious—men expressing themselves not lightly, but judicially, and after long deliberation; Mr. Bryant gravely conceding the right of Pope or Dryden or Watts, according to the subject of discussion, to be ranked as a poet, or denying the same, while members of lesser note sat about listening and nodding, but preserving becoming reticence. There was almost a Bostonese austerity about the great men of that early time and circle. They wore their garments as Roman Senators wore their togas. It was not good form for the stranger to break lightly into the talk of the Immortals. To have done so would have been to provoke the amazement and censure that was the lot of Mark Twain many years after, when, at a dinner in the Hub, he sought to jest irreverently with the sacred names of Holmes, Emerson, and Longfellow. Again try to fancy the shy, eccentric, improvident genius of " Ulalume," " The Bells," and " The Fall of the House of Usher " at ease in a company that, while delightful, was all propriety and solid intellectuality. No, Poe would no more have fitted into the Century than Balzac or Zola would have fitted into the French Academy which so persistently denied them. And, to be perfectly frank, had the writer been a Centurion of that period, and had the name of Edgar Allan Poe come up for election, he might have been one of the first to drop a black pill in the box, loudly acclaiming the genius, but deploring the impossible and unclubable personality.
After the presidency of Bancroft came that of Bryant. He held the office until his death in 1878, but as he was always averse to crowds, he was seldom seen at the club except in official meetings. An enthusiastic Centurion, writing of the club at the time of Bryant's death, when it had been in existence thirty-one years, spoke of it as having drawn together the choicest spirits of that generation of New York. " Without formality or design, it had become an institute of mutual enlightenment among men knowing the worth of one another's work, likened by Bellows, more than half seriously, to the French Academy. A sure result of this communion was absolute equality among those who shared it. No true Centurion ever assumed anything, each standing in his real place. The atmosphere killed pretension and stifled shams. The pedant or the conceited person silently drifted away. How could it be other-wise, while a famous painter was describing some scene, or a noted philosopher illustrating some theory, or an acute statesman drawing some historical parallel, than that the egotist should drop himself, and the proser forget to prose? " The late Clarence King was in his day a leader in the Century talk, and his comment on the club was that it contained " the rag-tag and bob-tail of all that was best in the country." Many times has it been introduced under thin disguises in the fiction dealing with New York. In some of the novels of Robert W. Chambers it appears as the Pyramid. Twenty years ago Paul Leicester Ford brought it into " The Story of an Untold Love," calling it The Philomathean. Ac-cording to the hero of that tale, the Philomathean was the one club where charlatanry and dishonesty must fail, however it succeeded with the world, and where the poorest man stood on a par with the wealthiest. The Centurion of all times has had much to be proud of, and he has not been blind to his blessings, nor ashamed to acquaint the world with his great good fortune.
Although most of them began in side streets, and many of them have in the later years migrated again to side streets, through the greater part of their history the clubs here discussed be-long essentially to the " Avenue " from which they have drawn so much of their inspiration. It does not matter that the present home of the Century is at 7 West Forty-third Street, or that the Lotos for the past few years has been at 110 West Fifty-seventh Street. They remain, as they always have been, Fifth Avenue clubs. Part of the history of the Lotos Club is written in the chapter dealing with " Some Great Days on the Avenue." For the fame of the organization as a giver of elaborate banquets to distinguished guests has spread through the land. The Lotos dates back to the early spring of 1870, when a group of young New York journalists met in the office of the New York " Leader " to take the initiatory steps necessary for the formation of a club. These men were De Witt Van Buren of the " Leader," Andrew C. Wheeler of the " Daily World," George W. Hows of the " Evening Express," F. A. Schwab of the " Daily Times," W. L. Alden of the " Citizen," and J. H. Elliot of the " Home Journal." As the founders were all connected with the literary, musical, art, or dramatic departments of their papers, it was not surprising that the projected association was to be modelled upon the Savage, Garrick, and Junior Garrick of London. Earlier failure had shown that a strictly literary organization was out of the question. A wider and more comprehensive membership was a necessity. As set forth in Article I., Section 2 of the Lotos Constitution, the primary object of the club was " to promote social intercourse among journalists, literary men, artists, and members of the theatrical profession."
From the first temporary quarters in the par-lours of the Belvidere House, then at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Fourteenth Street, the club moved into a permanent home at No. 2 Irving Place, a building adjoining the Academy of Music. In the autumn of 1870 the first president, De Witt Van Buren, died, and was succeeded by A. Oakley Hall, then the Mayor of New York, who assumed the office entirely in his social capacity, as a journalist, dramatist, and patron of the arts. It was he who suggested the famous " Lotos Saturday Nights." There is a flavour of high Bohemia in the list of members of that period. Among the artists were Beard, Rein-hart, Burling, Lumley, Chapin, Bispham, and Pickett; there were such pianists as Wehli, Mills, Hopkins, Colby, and Bassford; singers like Randolfi, Laurence, Thomas, MacDonald, Perring, Seguin, Matthison, and Davis; and actors like Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett, Mark Smith, John Brougham, and George Clark.
Some one has said that every generation must express itself in a new club. The decade from 1861-1870 expressed itself in several. To those years of New York date the Columbia Yacht (1867), the Harvard, first of the college clubs (1865), the Manhattan (1865), the New York Athletic (1868), and the Union League (1863). The last named organization owes its birth to the doubts and complications of the darkest hour of the War of Secession. Unite to stand behind the President with our full strength, was the slogan of the men who met in January, 1863, to form the plans for the new association. At the beginning there was talk of adopting the name " Loyal League." The first work of the club was the organization of negro troops in New York City. Despite the opposition of Governor Seymour, and the ridicule of the newspapers, who held up the idea of the negro as a soldier as a huge joke, the Leaguers persisted in their efforts, with the result that in December, 1863, the Twentieth Regiment of U. S. coloured troops was enlisted, and within a few months, two more regiments, known as the Twenty-sixth and the Thirty-first.
In those days the club-house faced Union Square, at the junction of Seventeenth Street and Broadway. Early in 1868 the Union League moved to a house at the corner of Madison Avenue and Twenty-sixth Street, the building afterwards to be occupied in turn by the University Club and the Manhattan Club. The structure had been erected by Mr. Jerome for the use of the Jockey Club, but was leased to the Union League for a term of ten years. Among the early honorary members of the Union League were Abraham Lincoln, General U. S. Grant, General W. T. Sherman, Lieutenant-General " Phil " Sheridan, Major-Generals Burnside, Wright, and Hancock, Admiral David G. Porter, and Rear-Admiral Bailey. The active membership of 1870 included such names as William Cullen Bryant, William M. Evarts, Whitelaw Reid, Parke Godwin, Horace Greeley, Chester A. Arthur, Thomas Nast, Joseph H. Choate, Eastman Johnson, George P. Putnam, Daniel P. Appleton, Dr. Samuel Os-good, George Griswold, E. D. Stanton.
To the name of the Union League is inevitably linked that of the Manhattan Club, for, the Civil War once at an end, the latter became the expression of the political aims and aspirations of the Democratic Party as the former was of the Re-publican. The Manhattan had its origin in the turmoil of the election of 1864, and the defeat of the Democratic candidate, General McClellan. The first movers in its foundation were Douglass Taylor, then secretary of the Tammany society, Street Commissioner George W. McLean, S. L. M. Barlow of the " World," Judge Hilton, the Hon. A. Schell, A. L. Robertson, and John T. Hoffman, later Governor of New York State from 1869 till 1872. The earlier meetings were held in the old Delmonico's, at the corner of Fourteenth Street and Fifth Avenue, and then the Manhattan moved into its first real home at No. 96 Fifth Avenue, just a block above the famous restaurant, where many of the meetings continued to be held. John Van Buren was the first president, with Augustus Schell first vice-president, A. L. Robertson second vice-president, Manton Marble secretary, and W. Butler Dun-can treasurer.
In the winter of 1867-8 the club was en-livened by a bout of fisticuffs that was a " celebrated case " of its day. There was then a strict club rule forbidding the introduction of a guest.
Manager Bateman, the father of Miss Bateman the actress, saw fit to violate this law. A member of the House Committee, perhaps overzealous in the idea of his duties, carried his protest to the point of forbidding the servants of the club to serve the unwelcome guest. Mr. Bateman's resentment of the action took the form of a personal assault, which became the sensation of the hour and the topic of the newspapers. " Evidently," remarked the " Herald " (those were the days of the elder Bennett, who in his vast experience in New York journalism had more than once felt the sting of a horse-whip), " to be, slapped is what some faces are made for! " But the Governors did not see the matter in the light that the " Herald " did, and the pugilistically inclined manager was summarily expelled, the board re-fusing to settle the matter by accepting his resignation.
Another Fifth Avenue club that claimed 1865 as the year of its origin was the Traveller's. For obvious reasons many of the clubs of the seventh decade of the last century chose to be near the old Delmonico restaurant, and the Traveller's was no exception, making its first home on the opposite corner. The object of the association was to bring together travellers of all nations, and to do proper honour to distinguished who were visiting the United States. After two years at the Fourteenth Street corner the Traveller's moved northward to a new home at No. 222 Fifth Avenue, the George W. Burnham residence at Eighteenth Street. Mr. Fairfield apparently did not regard the club with entire favour, for in his book of 1873 he speaks of the club-house as being " a leading resort for America-examining Englishmen, and the headquarters of an English coterie of considerable social importance." "0 temporal 0 mores! " he exclaims. There were palmy days in the past, when the receptions were social reunions of eclat. But " they have made an end of all that, having settled into a body as quiet as Mr. Mantilini expected to be after taking a bath in the Thames." But, granting Mr. Fairfield's claim that the literary quality of the Traveller's had deteriorated, there still remained the list of Honorary Members carrying a certain prestige. Professor Louis Agassiz headed the list; and others were Paul Du Chaillu, the African explorer whose adventures were for a long time regarded as clever romance ; the Hon. Anson Burlingame, who had been an envoy from the Chinese Emperor; Sir Samuel Baker, of London; Rev. J. C. Fletcher, Professor Raphael Pumpelly, the Right Rev. Bishop Southgate, the Hon. J. Ross Browne, and M. Michel Chevalier, of the French Senate.
" Lotos and Arcadian : both stuff for dreams.
The one excogitated in spring-time, when Nature was taking her break-of-day drowse, previous to getting up and going about business ; the other suggestive of Nature indulging in a half-light reverie in a sort of crimson and scarlet dressing-gown, previous to putting on her night-cap and going to bed, after a hard summer's work. The one reminding of a land where it is always after-noon of a day in the last of June, when one can almost hear the music of corn-growing, the mystic throes of buds toiling into blossom; the other of a land where it is always about eight o'clock in the morning with the dew still on the meadow-grass, and the world rubbing its eyes and brushing away cobwebs of dream, before buckling down to the struggle. The one somewhat reminiscent of Egypt and crocodiles, lisping palms and Arabs, of long and lotos-eating days of keff, in which even the lazy hours loiter in shady nooks, and the wind holds its breath in sympathy with the general doziness, and seems to be listening to something; the other of vivid Greek life, with its shepherds:
" ` Piping on hollow reeds to their pent sheep, Calm be thy Lyra's sleep,'
of Pindar, of Orphic song, of lost Milesian tales, of a life growing into sculpture or breaking into sinuous hexameter waves. The one mystic, the other beautiful, both symbolical."
With this rhapsody Mr. Fairfield introduced the Arcadian Club of New York, an organization that for a time threatened to rival the Lotos in the latter's particular field. Writing men snatched up into the clouds in those days for their metaphors, and combed Mythology for illustrations with which to garnish descriptions of the most commonplace events of everyday life. Here is another gem from Mr. Fairfield's book, also in his chapter about the Arcadian Club.
" Gentlemen of society, bankers, stylish young men with vast ideas of personal importance, amateurs and patrons! City Hall is the brain of New York, of the continent, and it is one of the laws of the world that brains will rule. Rebel as muscles merely of the body politic, and ye rebel against inexorable law: that scribbling literati in the fifth story—for newspapers like men have their brains in the upper story—is more potent than you in settling the artistic position of a Lucca or a Rubenstein, a Dickens or a Dore, a Tennyson or a Carlyle. Have ye ever read a wonderful little ballad by Uhland, entitled ` The Minstrel's Curse?' If so, recall it—for it is typical, not of that which comes by-and-by, but of that which is : the exponent of the beautiful having become in his way an autocrat. Unfortunate it is that journalism is not always representative of the best culture—that managing editors will now and then entrust criticism to incompetents, but its popular power is quite the same, notwithstanding, and this good the popular news-paper has wrought, to with that the exponent of the arts, media of culture as they are, is no longer dependent upon the caprices and whims of isolated patrons, -nor hampered in his freedom of expression by canons of theirs." And so on ad infinitum. The present writer confesses in all humility that he has not the least idea as to what the eloquent gentleman meant. But remember that it was the age that produced the " St. Elmo " of Augusta Evans Wilson.