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woe be to the manager who dares to be too daring.
Witness Bernard Shaw's 'Mrs. Warren's Profession.* If ever a play had a sermon hidden in it, that play did. But it was strong meat?much too strong for the public stomach. And it failed. There are certain scenes, certain places, that have absolutely no license to be pictured on the stage. The fact that they are true, and that thev exist, is not sufficient reason for picturing them. The public doesn't want it, and won't have it." His eyes twinkled. "I know what it wants of me," and then the slow Warfieldian smile broke. "It wants me to play wholesome, lovable characters. It will pay to see me just so long as I continue to play the kindly, whole-souled character. But if I ever were cast for a villain's part, then a long farewell to all my success. THAT CHER Drawing by Herbert Paus To the Reverend Mason Locke Weems, rr m j Author of "Life of Washington, with Curious Anecdotes," 8 I Attic of Hall of Fame, New York City. PARSON WEEMS?As m one of those to whom the 22d of l^B VXB February brings surcease of toil, IwB '8^.^ 1 am in duty bound to spend a flflWySr portion of that day in eontem- H plation of the virtues of G. Washington, Esquire. Mention Mnwtn t C o ImtcVlot tVlO ll n tpVl _ Ul U1V uailiu dUK^t0k0 a iiatviivv, CUV tiuvvuet points to a chorrv tree; and both lead unerringly back to that Little Masterpiece of American Fiction which you withheld from publication until the year following the hero's death. 11 ^ Perhaps this action was judicious; yet & ' think how entertaining and comforting Btr some of your anecdotes would have been to the Father of His Country in the declining | On my little pilgrimage to the original sources of the Cherry Tree story, I sought for you in the catalogue of the Hall of Ft*.**/ Fame, and found you not. You are not fe1 Vm (rrn'it r*Uireir?i'inc onrl ciiraf?rvnc B f ' illllUll^ LI IV. j/ilj OlV luiikJ U11M out^vv/ifo, up although you spent three years in a medical B j : college. Xor does your genial face look out from the ranks of the eminent divines; though it is a matter of record that you preached with great acceptation in diverse places, even to the immortal George?and that your prayers were not only moderate in length but were also diverting at times. Was your exclusion from the Immortals due to the charge of a contemporary that Parson Weems is "cheerful in his mien," or to the fact that you played jingly tunes on your inseparable fiddle at night? At any rate, you are relegated to the Attic. And?oh, irony of Fate!?they have placed you amone the biographers and historians instead of in your rightful place high up among the great masters of fiction. But the same thing happened to Plutarch, you remember. Instead of locating him among the great novelists of that early day, he is classified with the biographers. Fate has l>een more kind to Jules Verne and the amanuensis of Mr. Gulliver. In your case the dislocation is probably the result of the carelessness of posterity in merely reading the title of your biography. I would suggest that in the next edition the words "A Historical Novel" lie affixed to the title. Still, it would seem that anybody ought to know where to lex-ate the author of "A Bad Wife's Looking ( jIuss" and that pleasing persuasive to wedlock, entitled, "Hvmen's Recruiting Sergeant, or the New Mat rimonial Tattoo for Old Bachelors." However, there you are, among the biographers. But it might have been worse. Think of what you escaped by not being pedestaled between Jonathan Edwards and Lorenzo Dow throughout all the centuries! Asa personality, Parson, every existing trace of your sojourn in this goodly land exhales a fragrance not in keeping with the theology of the age in which you served. You were a gentleman and the companion of gentlemen; yet you preached to the negroes with unconcealed delight. You could play "Hark from the Tombs a Doleful Sound!" on your fiddle; but "Old Dan Tucker" was much more to your liking. You drove like Jehu when you had a horse, and plodded cheerfully along -I. ... ~ 1 1. * 1 lit i i J xne roan wntn you twin i. .\n<i, aitnougn you lrruaiea your Bishop like a gouty toe, there was no cant or tomfoolery about your preaching. Some pyrotechnics, maybe, but no whine. But it was as a traveling stiller of books?especially of your own books?that you rose to preeminence in your day and generation. Nowadays it is not thought to be good taste for an author to roam from town to town and spread his books in front of the courthouse while he explains their merits to passersby?which may Ik- one reason why royalties are so meager. But it enotrte *\ri m v. un J/I\- tl> W J mill ll lil L ill IV .'llllfllUUl auimu U1 V'^Ul day who wished to get up among the "Best Sellers" had to hump himself if he reached even place No. 7. And the popularity of your books?especially the "Life of George \\*ashington, with Curious Anecdotes Equally Honorable to Himself and Exemplary to His Young The public simply wouldn't come to see me, wouldn't want to see me. Peculiar little body, this plavgoing public. You have to humor it. It knows what it wants. Our mission is to give it that, and not try to tell it or show it what we want it to eive. TT'S a very wonderful thing, indeed," he mused, "is * that public,?or, I should say, as much of it as we see sitting there in front of us at nights which constitutes our audience. It sways us, makes us catch its moods, more often than we behind the footlights swav it. Many and many a night, after I had been playing 'The Music Master' for countless weeks on weeks, I found that the constant iteration of the same lines Continued on page 16 RY TREE BY EDGAR ALLEN FORBES "TTTW ^ -^Bj # B f>^K Iff ?^ . ?L ~ ' ' ?J Countrymen"?proves that the attraction of American fiction is not of recent origin. To presentday litterateurs, it is interesting to note the progressive development of your creative faculties. Your Masterpiece, for example (which rivals the story of the Prodigal Son in human interest), did not appear in the earliest editions, although you were a contemporary of the Great Man and had access to original sources of information. It was not until you got out among the people and found what they liked that the Cherry Tree "anecdote" came to mind. And you had a monopoly of it; for nobody else has come along with the Hatchet in his repertoire. As a story. Parson, the Cherry Tree bears the stamp of approval of your own generation and that which succeeded; but skepticism has arisen in these latter days. The plot is well constructed; the action is swift and vigorous; the dialogue is restrained yet emotional; and the finale is dramatic and full of human interest. But thp mirrnsmnp (if Inttcr-dnv criticism reveak ccrtrnn **"? ?vv? j "; w"* toolmarks that might well be ground off in the subsequent editions, in order that those who come to the Cherry Tree to scoff may remain to pray. As one who venerates the memory of George (but with moderation) and reads your story with increasing delight from year to year, may I be allowed to send to you a copy of the original version, with a few comments on the side? As you yourself say, the story "is too valuable to be lost"; but it is hardly "too true to be doubted": The following anecdote is Omit "anecdote" or sub a case in point: stitute reminiscence. It is too valuable to be Chop out the lady: evlost, and too true to be erybody knows that no doubted; for it was com- authoress with an imaginamunicated to me by the tion like that would remain same excellent lady to whom under a bushel. Give vourI am indebted for the last. self the credit that you deserve. " When George," she said, Insert "little" before "was about six years old. he "hatchet." was made the wealthy master of a hatchet, of which, like most little boys, he was Vivify this: tell about immoderately fond, and him playing tomahawk and > ,M n 4 1 , M .. t, .4 b . ? I f rt b d-% < \1 /I w dd LunMiiuuv KU111K ciiJiiut imuwniK it ai lii^ uiu iuuachopping everything that ter. The Boy Scouts will came in his way. like this bit of local color. One day, in the garden. Cut the pea-sticks: where he often amused him- George would never have self hacking his mother's done a thing like that. See pea-sticks, later biographies. he unluckily tried It will help the sale on the the edge of his hatchet on other side if you omit " Engthe body of a beautiful lish," which is superfluous young English cherry tree, anyway. which he barked so terribly Chop the tree down. Parthat I don't believe the tree son, so the story will fit the ever got the better of it. illustrations. The next morning the old It strengthens the plot if gentleman, finding out what you have everything happen had befallen his tree,? out in the garden, at the which, by the by, was a great scene of devastation. This favorite,?came into the will help the artists, house, and with much Give more details here. warmth asked for the mis- Change " mischievous auchievous author, declaring thor": captious readers will at the same time that he interpret this to mean you. would not have taken five guineas for his tree. Nobody could tell him Weak: his hatchet alanvthing about it. ready had a bad reputation about the place. Presently George and his Gut "hatchet": too sughatchet made their appear- gestive: make it a kitten ance. or a praycrbook. " George," said his father. Too benevolent: remem"do vou know who killed ber that "much warmth." that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden?" This was a tough ques- No, no! That fleeting tion, and George staggered moment of indecision sugunder it for a moment; but gests something, quickly recovered himself, and, looking at Better put this back into his father with the sweet your sermon, face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all conquering truth, he bravely Substitute "Father" for cried out, "I can't tell a lie, "Pa"; omit "cut" in last Pa; you know 1 can t tell a sentence; and insert litlie. I did cut it with my tie" before "hatchet." hatchet." " Run to my arms, you Isn't this action too imdearest boy!" cried his pulsive, in all the circumfather in transports. "Run stances? Let Pa stagger a to my arms! Glad am I, moment in indecision. George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousandfold! "Such an act of heroism in Did Pa really say this? my son is of more worth than It doesn't sound just like a thousand trees, though him, somehow, blossomed with silver, and their fruits of pure gold." Considering the plot as a whole, Parson, it is important to remember that modern repetition of the story stops abruptly at this point, your hac fabula ducet paragraph being overlooked. So far as the Juveniles are concerned, this is not a matter of consequence: they swallow it hook and bait and sinker. But with the Pov Scouts the moral is not quite so obvious as you intended. They are prone to analyze and analogize it in this fashion: A murder is committed in the open street. An < >fhcer grabs a fleeing man, and finds a revolver in his pocket. The barrel is warm, and one of the cartridges has been exploded. At the station house it is learned that the man has a previous record as a gunman. W hen arraigned before the Judge, he lifts his head proudlv and says, "I x . 11 _ i: . i., j t a: a .b.t, '. * 10 ? cailliOL U'U it lie, Juugc. i uiu It wiui Illy hum) .10. Moral: Plead guilty like a man when caught with the goods, and you get off with a penitentiary sentence. Pa had the goods on George, no doubt about that. And the average boy can figure it out that if he had not told the truth with great promptness he would have had one licking for the hatchet exercise and another for the lie. And, no telling, Mother might have had something to add on the ]>ea-stiek account. Maybe it would Ik* better, in the next revision, to strengthen the moral at the expense of the plot and have George own up before he was caught. You will understand, of course, Parson, that I have no sympathy with those who criticize your I ittle Masterpiece on the ground that it doesn't work out in real lifr* TV?o* ic \*mir fault* for mof1f?rn lit<* k -fiiiiti* II1V . J HUb ! } 11" 'I ? W4I ?UM*Wf - - - ? - - - ? -W beyond your control. If a boy shoots a prize <'rpington rooster with his new airgun, and gets the stuffing licked out of him when he owns up to it George-fashion, his misfortune is due entirely to the brutal instincts of a coarse parent whose undeveloped mentality cannot appreciate "the inexpressible charm of all-conquering truth," as Pa puts it. And, so far as George is concerned, it adds not a little to the enjoyment of the 22d of February to reflect that we have abundant evidence to show that the Cherry Tree "anecdote" did not seriously handicap the freedom of action amid the exigencies of jjolitical life that sprang up along the pathway of his later years. Also that the genial and brilliant novelist who gave the "anecdote" to posterity did not take its moral too seriously unto himself. For I observe on your title page the phrase "Formerly Rector of Mount Vernon Parish,"?which doubtless had much to do with the sale of your book,?whereas the records of the Parish show that you merely supplied the pulpit for the real Rector once in awhile. Which ought to teach us not to take too much to +i,? : e t V? o r\r\nn rvrninniie f A flin orrn />f ill ill l 11ii- liiiiuiuia iiuu iiap^u j/uviuuo tv/ niv, vu six in the lives of public men. With appreciation of your creative abilities and of your skill in evading the personal inconvenience of your moral, I remain Sincerely yours, Edgar Allen Forbes.