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CHRONIC | COMft By ARTHUR BARTL ENTIRELY too many of the books ] of reminiscences of authors! ere written by other authors. It would be better if we could see more o' men and women of letters from the point of view of their publishers. For after all the publisher is the one likely to see the matter more dispassionately and objectively. The publisher of yesterday was often g.ven to chronicling his experiences. For example, is there a more informing book of its kind than James T. Field's "Yesterdays With Authors"? To-day the writing about authors of his acquaintance is a respons'bllity which the publisher seems inclined to shirk. There are exceptions. Mr. Holt has poured cut his genial philosophy and drawn rrom a ricn memory in his "Remi riscences of an Octogenarian." Major Putnam has written much and entertainingly. Mr. McClure has published an "Autobiography" that is good reading despite certain blazing inaccuracies. Some years ago a book of reminiscences of authors from a somewhat different angle, that of one who had known authors in the capacity of public lecturers, was written by Major Pond. ^ LL, of which comes to mind with the announcement, recently made, that the firm of Harper & Pros., the dean among American publishers, having been founded in 1817, Is about to leave the structure facing Franklin Square which has housed its activities for so many years. Soon, so far as the literary association is concerned, the spiral iron staircase which so many aspiring authors have climbed with hearts fast beating at impending fate, will be a thing of the past. Not all the authors were mere aspirants. It may reasonably be assumed that Thackeray and Dickens climbed that spiral staircase, not to mention a Bcore of reverend names of our own literature. A little more than ten years ago the firm issued a book called "The House of Harper: a Century of Publishing in Franklin Square." That there was an advertising aspect to the publication of tho vnlnmn WOO nf r? r\ I What really counted was that it was a mine of illuminating literary anecdote, a book deserving a place upon the permanent shelf. THE Harpers were the accredited publishers of Dickens and Thackeray and Bulwer-Lytton and Charles Reade. Englishmen ari still given to harping on the inadequate copyright laws of the Unite] States in the last century, forget t ng certain English publishers, and oiso that the greatest sufferers from the injustice were the American men of letters, forced to compete upon uneven terms with the importations. The fairer American publishers were in the habit of paying English authors or their representatives liberally for advance sheets, although these payments in no way protected the publishers against aubsequent piratical competition. The Harpers paid Dickens ?1,250 for "Greafc Expectations," Thackeray ?480 for "The Virginians," and Anthony Trollope ?700 for "Sir Harry Hotspur." George Eliot was paid as high as ?1,700 for one novel. Charles Reade received ?1,000 for "A Woman Hater," and Wilkie Collins ?750 apiece for "The Woman in White," "Man and Wife" and "The Moonstone." Six hundred and fifty pounds was paid for the courtesy and priority rights of Macaulay's "History of England." ? CHARLES READE was justified in thinking himself a very fine novelist. He once drew a picture of himself soaring to exalted heights on a quill pen and entitled it "Something Like a Novelist." Hut his self-esteem took the form of disparaging his rivals for popularity. It exasperated him to thisk that people were wasting their tim? reading the books of such persons as ChariM Dickens and George Elliot. THE NEW YORI :LE AND I 1ENT .ETT MAURICE. Nor was he backward in expressing bis exasperation. To the Harpers in July, 1859, he wrote a character irtic letter which reads in part: "Up to the present moment I have hart ovoru moono tn Ka 01 fioft < ?/-! ?-V. w . wa J u?VMIIO vv oattouvu TT1VU Messrs. Harper. But this time I don't feel quite satisfied. 'A Good Fight' is a masterpiece. 'A Tale of Two Cities' is not a masterpiece. Yet Messrs. Harper gave $5,000 (?1,000) for it, and to me one txcenticth of that sum. Now this might be just in England, but hardly j tst in America, where, as you know very well, I rank at least three times higher than I do in this country." * * * PROBABLY no other individual book on the Harper list?or on the list of any other American publisher, for that matter?has proved more highly successful than Gen. Lew Wallace's "Ben-Hur." A week or so ago there was issued a publisher's note to the effect that a rr Sllinn nnnioo nf Vt to KaaIt Vio^ Kaon sold. Like several other famous novels, "Ben-IIur" in manuscript form is said to have gone the rounds. The reader's report, which contributed to its acceptance by the Darpers, throws a curious light upon the difference between the old manner and the new, and the stilted tone which was the characteristic of our literature forty years ago. For our literature uas stilted and rhetorical and given to the smoothering of ideas in many fine sounding words. The reader of the manu stript of "Ben-Hur" was Dr. George Ripley, and his opinion, termed "a model in its way," is given in full in "The House of Harper." * ? IMAGINE a publisher's reader of to-day, intelligent, discriminating and practical, stumbling upon th' manuscript of "Ben-Hur" and recognizing its possibilities. The chances are that he would hurry in person to the head of the house to tell of the "discovery." If he were to write it would almost certainly be in the vernacular; something to me enect: "Tills is the real stuff," 01 "It will have the other 'best sellers' backed up against the ropes." or "Go get this guy." But Dr. Ripley of the stilted age wau more leisurely in his enthusiasm. He began: "The author of this sacred romance has acquired considerable reputation by his imaginative pictures from the Mexican mythology which he interwove with a gorgeous narrative of love and passion. He is an original and powerful writer without precedent or prototype. He belongs to an exceptional sphere of liianohiM n VWI ????? ?" J 1 iitviaiuic, auu axjaia uII IUU UUriLIg wings into a too radiant atmosphere to be reckoned among the classic. He flashes like a glittering meteor through the sky, but never shines like one of the serene and eternal lights of the firmament," and so on. Once they were immensely impressed by this kind of writing. We, in our practical age, think it rather poor English. * THE story of the relations of George du Maurier with the Harpers and of their generous treatment in the matter of "Trilby" and "The Martian" has been told in these columns. At the same time there was veiled allusion to what is to be read between the lines in Kipling's "The Three Captains." Why not tell the latter story? "The Rhyme of the Three Captains," fa fliliar tn all with o cnnn/l lrnnml edge of Kipling's verse, was published in 1880, prefaced with the cryptic line: "This ballad refers to one of the exploits of the notorious Paul Jones, an American pirate. It is founded o?r fact." The poem pur ports to deal wtih the misadventures of a merchant ship from the East, looted by a Yankee brig "that rides off Finisterre." The injured skipper carries the tale of his wrongs to the Three Captains?the Lord of the Wessex Coast, the Admiral of the North, and the Master oi the Thames. He receives scant sympathy. They themselves have had dealings with the skipper of ' / I HERALD, SUNDAY, the Yankee brig and have founl that "his price is fair." * * THE poem grew out of the following paragraph, which appeared in the London Athencrum on October 4, 1890: "A year or so ago Mr. Rudyard Kipling, when passing through New York, called on Messrs. llrrper and offered them for reprinting 'Soldiers Three' and other pieces of his now famous. He was speedily shown the door and told that a firm devoted to the publication of literature of a high class could not trou Mc itself about such writings as his. This autumn Messrs. Harper picked out of the magazines six siories or,ivir. Kipling, witnout,asking his permission or giving him an opportunity of revising them., and have printed them as a volume They have sent Mr. Kipling a letter containing a bald announcement of the fact and the sum of flO, which was promptly returned. The only side of literature that Messrs. Harper appear to understand at all is the commercial. When an author is unknown to fame, they, it would seem, content themselves with insulting him; when he is celebrated, they insult and rob him." i * rpiIE Harpers replied to the paragraph in the Athenwum for November 1, 1890, and Thomas Hardy, William Black find Walter Besant wrote a letter saying that in all their dealings they had found he house invariably fair and courteous. That provoked "The Rhyme ot the Three Captains," apparently written in white heat. To reread LUC yuctu W I LIl LUC LUIIUUVCia/ 111 nind gives an entirely new meaning and aspect to the lines. "The Admiral of the North from Solway Firth to Skye," "the Lord of the Wessex Coast and all the lands thereby" and "the Master of the Thames from Limehouse to Blackwall" become plain enough, and toward the end Kipling, apparently growing bolder in the swing of composition, ingeniously mentions the very names. "We are paid in the coin of the white man's trade? The bezant is hard, ay, and black." * CRANK manuscripts and attempted literary impostures ere far from being exclusively Harperian. They belong in the experiences of all publishing houses, all magazine offices and all newspaper offices. According to "The House of Harper," the most extraordinary example of attempted imposition that ever found its way to Franklin Square was a manuscript written in longhand, with numerous erasures and interlineations?all the earmarks of a genuine piece of I v. um. me suDjcct matter seemed oddly reminiscent, though the names and places mentioned were strange. But a little reading showed that the book was nothing else than Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." Apparently the ambitious author had found an old copy of the tale in a dusty corner and jumped to the conclusion that it had long since been forgotten. So, with great labor, the whole thing had been copied out in longhand, with American names and places substituted. Incidentally, why should not "Frankenstein," a fine Idea abominably handled by Mrs. Shelley, be rewritten? Conan Doyle, for ! example, could make a masterpiece ot it. He showed that when he i borrowed a part of the idea for his story "Lot 249." i ANOTHER case of attempted Imposition was afterward made j into fiction by Richard Harding Davis in "The Editor's Story." Davis went from The Even inc. Sun. now The Sun, to become editor of Harper's Weekly. One day he received a poem without any signature which seemed to him rather familiar. Going through old maga' zines, he found the identical poem. 17 he address on the envelope was ; peculiar, and every morning Davis would first run over his mail with the hope of finding another envelope with the old chirographic address. When the anticipated missive arrived he called up his friend Stephen Bonsai, then on The New j "York Herald, and together the two went to Brooklyn to call on the would-be author. They found him and extorted from him full confes-' MAY 14, 1922. sion. But for reasons which will s bo apparent to any one who rereads "The Editor's Story" the projected exposure was never printeu. * * * i REVERTING to George du Mau- c rier. The connection of the o famous Punch artist with the Har- j pers began in 1888, when he began to furnish full page comic pictures for Harper's Magazine. That was some time before he thought of try v ing his hand at fiction. Then one v day walking along a London street A in company with Henry James he outlined the plot of "Trilby." "But you ought to write that story!" cried v James. "If you like the plot so much you may take it," said Du 1 Maurier. But James would not take c it, saying it was too valuable a present. Du Maurier began to write that night. But it was not on ? "Trilby." By the next morning he v had written the first two numbers of p "Peter Ibbetson." It seemed, he a said, all to flow from his pen with- f, cut effort in a full stream. But he j, thought it must be poor stuff, and he determined to look for an omen. So he walked into the garden and ^ saw a wheelbarrow, which cheered n him, for there is a wheelbarrow in f( the first chapter of the story. "Peter ^ Ibbetson" was written first in Eng- jj lish, then translated into French 0 and then back again into English. ^ * * * e <<TEETER IBBETSON" was not a n -L great success either as a v, serial or in book form. But a year r or so later came "Trilby," and the c popularity of that book is a matter b of literary history. According to t? "The House of Harper," Mr. Harper p once expressed to Mr. Du Maurier d his surprise at the facility with b which a man wrote who was not i trained in writing; who had come li almost to sixty years in daily devotion to another profession. To which Mr. Du Maurier replied: "Not ^ at all, my boy; I have been writing c, short chapters of society romances j for years. Why, the letterpress b which accompanies my work in p Punch requires more study and at- u tention than the drawings them- c, selves, and in that way I have f, passed through a most laborious training in English diction." * * * A N eccentric personality, forgotten by or unfamiliar to most #i American readers, is recalled by the publication in the Sea Gull Library of a translation of Gerard ^ de Nerval's "Les Filles du Feu." y De Nerval's work paved the way ^ for Stephen Mallarme and Paul j Verlaine, and in his vagabondage he was also imitated by Verlaine and the latter's close companion and evil genius, Arthur Rimbaud. De Nerval was a more genuine Bo- ' hemian than Henry Murger, who ' wrote the "Vie de Boheme." Quite '' mad part of the time, it was when F he was most insane that he did his 0 best work. Arthur Symons has z said of him that it is unquestion- a ably a fact that he discovered "one of the foundations of what may be called the practical aesthetics of ^ Symbolism." * * * e DE NERVAL, born in 1808, was ^ only a few years younger than tVin crionfa Wnorn Poison a rwl Tl Dumas. His life was one of va- h grancy and hardship. He wandered P about the streets of Paris and c played the chcmineau, In Germany 1? and the East. Asylums, police sta- \ tions, rooms shared with eccentric " strangers, or the Inn of the Silver t. Moon were his resting places. Then b one morning in 1855 his body was b found suspended from an iron railing in the Street of the Old Lantern. He had been carrying around an apron string which he thought was the garter of the Queen of Sheba, and it was with this that he . had hanged himself. Once, in the ^ gardens of the Palais Royal, De Nerval was found leading a lobster by a blue ribbon, because, he said, 0 "it does not bark and knows the r secrets of the sea." f r Authors' Works <; And Their Ways I Margaret Hill McCarter, whose latest novel, "Homeland," has just been published by Harper & li Brothers, has been prominently In ! g. identified with the Kansas State j( Federation of Women's Clubs and I ^ has several times renresented Kan-1 e as women on the program of the <ational Federation. She is ranked ..>> one of the best women speakers p. Kansas. Many middle "West ities include her novels in the list 1 required supplementary reading n the high schools. * * In 1914 Frank Tannenbaum, rhose "Wall Shadows" was reiewed two weeks ago in The Her,u> book section, was an I. W. W.? nd a leader. Times were bad and ?ork was scarce. Leading his fol ewers down Fifth avenue young 'annenbaum visited church after hurch and asked for shelter, often ecuring both that and food. But ne day his fortune changed; he ras arrested and sentenced to rison. After release he secured dmittance to Columbia University, our years later graduating with lghest honors. r*? His year in prison had taught im much?a knowledge supptelented by the college course which ollowed. He started to study imerican prisons. Voluntarily he ived at Auburn, Sing Sing and ther institutions. Then he toured he country by auto, stopping at very prison en route and noting its " ' J ?1 tolb-cH leuious aiiu pciauuuci. rith convicts, wardens, criminals, eformers and lawbreakers. Then, ompiling these facts, he wrote his ook, the preface of which was writ;n by Thomas Mott Osborne, whose r.-fluence and interest had much to o with the success of Tannen aum's investigations. Now Mr. 'annenbaum has gone to Mexico to lvestigate conditions there. * An order for "My Trip Abroad," y Charlie Chaplin, has been reeived by the Harpers from Tokyo, apan. The books were purchased y Kyo-bun-kwan, the Methodist ublishing house in that city. In he same mail the publishers reeived a reorder for Bubble Books rom Juneau, Alaska. * Emma Beatrice Brunner, whose ovel, "The Personal Touch," was cviewed in Thk Hkbald book secion for April 30, is the wife of the istinguished architect Arnold W. iruimer. l uuugu a new luner uj irth, Mrs. Brunner lived so many ears of her younger life in Caliirnia that she has come to have lie feeling that she belongs there, hough "The Personal Touch" is er first novel, it is not her first ook. That was a book of travel ler second book was a book of one ct plays, which was after she had ad a four act play produced. Also he has been a generous contributor f stories and articles to the maga;nes, over her own signature and nonymously. Walter de la Mare, author of "The femoirs of a Midget" and "The reil and Other Poems," both reently reviewed in The Herald ook section, was a close personal riena 01 nupert MrooKe, who diECted In his will that any money e might leave, together with the roceeds from his book, be divided mong his three friends, Walter do . Mare, Abercrombie Lascelles and Wilfrid Wilson Gibson. He wrote" If I can set them free to any extent 3 write the poetry and plays and ooks they want to, my death will ring more gain than loss." * W. L. George has just returned to is new London house in Albion treet. It is a George III. house, nd Mr. George has chosen it withr. a peculiarly literary neighbor ood, since he every day looks cross the street into the windows f the house occupied by Thackeay, when the great novelist was young married man. Indeed, he is i the midst of Thackerayland, since nmediately behind his house in onnaught Square Thackeray loated the sad tale of Mrs. Howard i'alker, and in Edgware Road his ragic Catherine. George Barr McCutcheon has deivered the manuscript of his latest ovel to his publishers, Dodd, Mead : Co. "Viola Gwin" is its title and t is a romantic story of Indiana at he time of the Black Hawk War, arly in the nineteenth century.