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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 22, 1907, Image 38

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genius of these trained experts always finds means
of making strictly scientific discoveries and in
genious inventions never contemplated by the State,
and thus of indefinitely expanding the domain of
science, art, and industry.
Supply Would Follow Demand
OUCH are some of the ways in which the genius
^ of to-day is displaying itself. These are the fields
in which the demand exists, and it is always sup
plied. But I venture to say that if a demand of
this substantial character existed for literary pro
ductions, for poetry and drama, for art in any form,
sculpture, painting, ceramics, musical composition,
it would be supplied in like manner, and would in
every department prove to be of a high order. The
age of Pericles or Augustus could be reproduced,
or perhaps surpassed, and almost immediately, by
the simple process of calling out the latent genius of
this or any other modern country in the same man
ner in which it was then called out. Genius is uni
versal, all sided, unlimited; but the greater part
of it is always latent for the reason that it is not
If the display of genius is to be increased, it must
be done by creating a market for the products of
genius. Intellectual production is subject to the
same laws as economic production, and the spiritual
resources of the world are as inexhaustible as are
its material resources.
But the State should not be the only appraiser
of genius. Society is its proper appraiser, and until
society shall appreciate its geniuses and learn to
reward them, few of them, relatively speaking, will
ever come forward. The true market for achieve
ment is the people, and when the people themselves
shall demand it the supply will promptly meet the
demand. The true way, then, to call out the dor
mant genius of mankind is to create this great popu
lar demand, this world market, into which all the
talent of the race will pour. How can this be accom
plished? Only by the spread of ideas and ideals.
There is no royal road to this goal, and the dis
cussion of the ways and means transcends the lim
its of this article.
It has been maintained that a great difference
exists in this respect between men of action and
men of thought, between warriors and statesmen
on the one hand and philosophers and scientists on
the other. They tell us, and truly, that the Alexan
ders, Cssars, Napoleons, Nelsons, Washingtons, and
Grants, as well as the So Ions, Catos, Richelieus,
Gladstones, Websters, and Lincolns, have been sim
ply the products of their respective times and coun
tries, and would never have been heard from if
they had lived under different political conditions.
But we are assured that such men as Aristotle,
Pliny, Galileo, Descartes, Leibnitz, Newton, Darwin,
Franklin, Agassiz, and Marsh were the possessors
of an intrinsic genius which is independent of cir
cumstances. The same claim is made for literary
and artistic geniuses as well as for renowned in
This has been shown not to be the case. The law
applies to all forms of genius. Most of those men
tioned and scores of others have been investigated,
and it has been found that without exception they
have all owed their fame to the combination of
genius and opportunity, that besides being native
geniuses they have in a proper sense been called
upon to display their talents in the direction in
which they have displayed them.
American Geniuses the Same
'VTT'HEN few systematic researches of this kind have
been made for the leading American geniuses of
any class, there is no reason to suppose that they
are exceptions to this universal law, and upon
those who maintain that they are such rests the
burden of proof. That this law holds good for our
generals and statesmen is too obvious to need
stating. But for the Civil War, Grant, though he
had a military training, would have remained an
obscure tanner in Galena; Sherman, Sheridan, Cus
ter, and the rest would have spent their lives at
various outposts in the far West, known only to
military circles. But for the great political questions
that shook the country before that war, brought
it on, and carried it through, as history records, even
Abraham Lincoln would have never done more than
grace the Springfield bar.
It would be easy, if space permitted, to take up
other classes of eminent Americans and show how
in one way or another the particular environment
in each case was the decisive factor in their success.
For example, Benjamin Franklin, though in some
what straitened economic circumstances in his
youth, was a printer by trade, and thus always
able to earn a livelihood. But the printer's is the
one trade which has for its natural effect to bring
its possessor into direct contact with the great men
and great thoughts of the age. The average journey
man sets up the type from the copy before him
without imbibing the thought that it expresses,
but for a genius like Franklin every type touched
with his finger is fraught with meaning, and a
printing office is a university. If Benjamin Frank
lin had learned the shoemaker's instead of the print
er's trade, he never would have captured the
Anything connected with the press proves highly
educative, even the selling of newspapers; and, as
Elbert Hubbard has said, one never knows what
future may lurk in a half-clad newsboy crying his
wares. It is probable that the world is indebted
to this "profession" for an Edison. But here, and
not less in the case of Alexander Graham Bell, true
genius found itself in the presence of a great public
demand for its products, and such a combination
knows no failure.
1AST year I was down and out,? "Q v AT "R 17 U T1 F \X/ A U TTT T ~\^ A "XT and foot benumbed by the storm, and
A penniless, sick, and out of work. 7 ? ^ IV1 /1. IN entered a building where men and
I stood in a public square on Christ
mas Eve with others of my kind,
huddling together to keep warm and waiting for
something to turn up.
Presently the something came in the shape of a
large and well fed man, who with a chuckle tossed a
handful of coins at our feet. As one we dropped
on our hands and knees in a mad scramble for the
bright silver, and when I rose, dirty and wet, my
hands bleeding from contact with the sharp ice, I
was the only one who had not gained by the struggle.
I was the down and outest of the down and out.
For things like this men have thrown their lives
away, and I was turning away heavy hearted and
with trembling lips, when a hand dropped on my
shoulder and a husky voice said:
"Say, Bo; you didn't get a nickel, did you?"
I turned, to see a grizzled veteran who had come
off with the lion's share. There was a look in his
eyes that caused my voice to soften.
" Not a nick," I answered.
"Dead broke?" he queried.
I nodded assent.
"Where do you bunk to-night?" he persisted.
"I don't know," was my dejected response.
His blear eyes looked up at me sharply as we
passed through the lighted circle of an arc light.
Then he spoke again. " You come with me, sonny,
an' I'll stake you to a dime shake-down."
"Thanks," I muttered, unable to say more to
my benefactor, whom I followed across to the East
Side and down the Bowery to one of the many
cheap lodging houses which line that thoroughfare.
Up the shaky stairs we went into a boxlike office.
"Two suites of rooms," demanded my friend of
the clerk, as he tossed two dimes on the board and
led the way into a large dormitory where half a
hundred or more men were sleeping on cots.
He pointed with his finger to an empty one in
the corner and whispered, "Good night, Bo. Put
your shoes under your pillow."
"Good night. I hardly know how to tha-a?"
"Cut it out! Cut it out! ' he replied bruskly, mak
ing for a nearby cot, an action I proceeded to copy.
When Christmas Day Dawned
A ND thus it was that I opened my eyes on Christ
mas day in the place of the down and out. The
very dawn seemed to mock me, picturing for me
the feasting and reveling of the many that day
contrasted with the hunger and despair of the some.
My thoughts were not cheerful as I made my
way out of the great sleeping room to wash at a
faucet kept running all night to prevent the water
freezing, and hurried to a big stove in the assembly
room of the lodging house, wishing for an overcoat
as I pinned my summer coat tight at the neck,
both for warmth and to hide the dirty shirt and
absence of collar and tie. Close to the stove were
standing a dozen of my unshaven compeers, hands
clasped in front, and most of them, like myself,
sporting a safety pin at the junction of their up
turned coat collars.
The snow now swept gracefully past the windows,
and beat a call upon them that sounded to me like
a summons to come into the open and be numbed
and smothered and shrouded. I shuddered and
moved closer to the big red stove.
"Ding dong!" Church chimes were ringing.
" Peace on earth; good will to men," was the theme
of the bells; but peace was kept and good will
simulated round that stove by the fact that no one
there was worth robbing or murdering for loot.
"Well, boys, it's Chris'mus, and for one day we'll
live like princes!" called a husky voice behind me,
which I recognized as that of my friend of the night
before. "I'm goin' to make a start." Out he went.
Out Into the Storm
T FOLLOWED him, feeling instinctively that his
*? better knowledge of Bowery conditions might be
of use to me. At the foot of the stairs he paused as
the storm embraced him, and I gained his side.
" Bad shoes," he remarked, looking at the ven
tilation holes and corn-easing slashes in my foot
wear. "Can't get any new ones till nine o'clock,
boy; but come on an' have a cocktail and some
breakfast, anyway."
"You know, I?I haven't any money, friend."
"Me neither; but don't cry tears over it. To
day's Chris'mus. Come up an' we'll see Johnny."
I followed my well trained guide into one of the
many hostelries abounding on the street.
"Merry Chris'mus, Johnny!" he shouted. Then
he pushed back the proffered bottle with, "Nothing
less than a dry Manhattan for us to-day," and the
man in the soiled jacket proceeded to mix them.
We wished Johnny many happy returns of the
day, and the cocktails disappeared.
"Come on an' have breakfast," said my friend.
" But I have no money," I ventured again.
"Forget it!" he replied.
I was at his heels as he entered a little restaurant.
Behind a small cigar case was a young man display
ing a large aquiline nose, curly black hair, and the
deep, soulful eyes that told the story of centuries
of Jewish patience under Christian and other per
secution. Day of all days to invoke a Jew's charity
and benevolence for the benefit of a hungry Chris
tian! think you?
But to that man it was not only Christmas, but
also Chanuka, the festival commemorating forever
the heroism of the patriotic Maccabees, a time when
the Jew takes his place for the nonce beside the
fighting Celt and Saxon and Slav. Accordingly
he did not walk after the rolls and coffee which he
was going to serve free to the two of us. He
seemed to march, with head erect and shoulders
square, dreaming perhaps of the restoration of
Zion and the theocracy of his own good sword.
In this way I learned that even in the slums
nobodv is denied a breakfast on Christmas morn
ing. My seasoned guide told me that no matter
where or in what part of the city one might go, the
result would have been the same, except in the
haunts of the overrich.
"Must have shoes an' an overcoat," said the
veteran, glancing at my sorry figure as we came
out. "Come on up to the Volunteers."
Up to Cooper Square we went, beaten and cuffed
women, unitormea sometning liKe the
Salvation Army folk, were busy with
tying up baskets and bundles and waiting on some
of our brethren of the army of the destitute. A
young woman tripped up and asked us our wants.
"Overcoat and shoes and socks," said Mr. Guide.
We were sent up stairs, where a dozen or two of
our companions in misery were being fitted out, and
very soon I had on my back a light fall overcoat,
and on my feet dry and clean socks and a pair of
well worn but still water tight patent leather shoes.
Now I felt like a somebody once more, as we
emerged into the storm.
"How about a smoke?" I asked the learned one.
" Nothin' doin' till dinner time," he replied.
Dinner time is high noon in the tenement dis
tricts and in the slums, and so I went back to the
lodging house, feeling something like my long lost
self, and on the way drank in from the active tongue
of my mentor the details of my proper program for
the day.
Acting upon that, I sallied forth at noon and
headed for the rooms of a political association,
which is as quick or quicker to help one of an oppo
site political faith as it is its time honored adherents.
I was escorted to a table by a waiter, who was
probably a ward captain, and got one of the
finest turkey dinners I ever had, with coffee and a
cigar thrown in. One of the political bosses, it
was well understood, paid the expenses of the four
thousand dinners served to the down and out.
As I left I had the knowledge that I could come
back at night and have a supper of cold turkey,
biscuits, and tea, and had it not been for the fact
that I was already in possession of a good pair of
shoes, a ticket entitling me to a pair at a local
dealer's would have been given me as I passed out.
Walking down the street, I felt the supreme con
fidence that should come to a man after a full din
ner. I was content for the time, and my only
thought was for the night. I had been idly finger
ing a bit of cardboard handed me at dinner, and
looking at it all my fears as to lack of lodging fled,?
it was a card calling for a free bed at the Municipal
Lodging House.
The Lesson of Adversity
"YOU, my friend, may never know what a singing
* of the heart a lodging for the night may cause.
I know it, for my hand held that ticket, and pre
sented it that night, and I rose the next day with a
new courage to take up my little struggle in life.
My Christmas of adversity had come as a lesson.
This Christmas day will be a far different one to
me; but I shall try to make it a fit companion for
the last one, so both will keep fresh in my memory.
It shall be mine to stop in front of every Salvation
Army or Volunteer sentinel and drop my bounty of
gratitude in the chimneys and pots; it shall be
mine to seek the East Side haunts of my other
Christmas, and if I should meet my grizzled guide
who taught me life he shall be my brother for all
time; it shall be mine to carry the spirit of the day
in my own way and where I will. I know the joy
of receiving, and I will know the joy of giving, for
pn such things is the spirit of Christmas founded.

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