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The San Francisco Sunday Call.
WHY THE WOMEN'S CLUBS ARE AFTER THE SCALP OF ELLIS PARKER BUTLER Will Scarlet ONCE upon a lime a Roman wag cracked a joke. It was a really funny Joke end made p«opl« laugh. It was bo very funny Uißt the people who heard it :\u25a0•.«: It to other people, so that all none had it off by heart. Incidentally it came to the ears of the Emperor Ti berius, liut whrn he heard the Joke the Kmpcror dsd not laugh. It was a funny joke, a v«ry funuy Joke — but it •wan on lilsr^ imperial Majesty. So Ti berius ji2*t frowned and asked who had «tortej that littlo pleasantry. "So and So," an attendant informed him. "*> "Wry ffood." ?sid Tiberius, quietly. "Off Wllll llis *.:t!itl." And fro'-.i tliat day forth, whenever t*j« wis-? Homcris rwapped funay ?to <lfes In '.!!• reran, they took care that the joki- was never en Tiberius. 7n i!ie >«>u.r of srraee 1906 an Aaieri < :tn bumorlVt wrote a book. It waf a really humorous book and made nr-n la'sgiK •( '•:• so very humorous that n,*n advised otiior uien to read it. In < ."(ivnuilly fojji»» of them left the book ]vi:ig: aiiaut iho Iroi^e. and their wives dipped in:<» it. )sut the ladles didn't laugh. H w?a* a humorous book, a very hu:'.mrous V>ok. but it was on the ladles — tome «>f tiiPin. So the ladies J;j»t frowned :ind turned back to the title page end Sound the name of the man who wrote it. "Very ffood," they eaid, <juietlr. "Oft With hi.« head." The man who wrote that book is liv ing yet. TJut it's not his fault. Un doubtedly, were lie allowed to have his way. he would now be across the Htyx fcxrhanginer confidences with the Ilonjan wag. But l»e can't get across. The ladies have executed— -or rather are executing—the summary sentence they pronounced a few months ago. and that the humorist's head is off— or coming off — is an undisputed fact Methods of decapitation are different nowadays, that's all. The Roman wag had cracked Jokes — sonw of them probably very funny jokes— -before he tried that one about Tiberius. Ellis Parker Butler bad written stories — some of them Indis putably humorous — before he wrote "The incubator Baby." For instance, tjiere if "Piprs Is Pigs." That if a humorous book, indeed a very hujaor ou* book, and when they read it the ladies — all of them — laughed. But, ala», like the unfortunate Roman wag, Mr. ISutler has b^ca humoroup once too' often. The Roman wag got the ax — literally: Mr. Butler Is getting It too— figuratively. Accounts differ as to Just what the Tinman wag* Joke was. but every **er *lon — and .».iere are. a good many ver sions—agree that, besidr* being funny. it wap satirical. Aye, there* the rub. Tiberius was certainly too wiee a ruler to chop off a man's bead Just because the man had eaid something ° funny. The difficulty was that Tiberius saw. not the fun of tb« Joke, but its satire. So he didn't la^gh. for the excellent reason that he iaw nothing to laugh at; and he turned down his thumb be cause the satire meant— him. In like ' manner, besides being hu morous after the fashion of "Pigs la Pigs." "The Incubator Baby" is sa tirical. Once more, there's the rub. Indies are certainly too Judicious to decapitate an author because the au thor writes a book that is humoroue. The crux of the situation is that they perceived, not the- humor of the book, but Us satire.* 6e they, don't laugh, not becaus«— oh*, oft-exploded calum- Ry!— that woman \u25a0lacks a aenstt of hu «ior, but bocause many of them s*e nothing in the book to laugh at. And, Just Hk« Tiberius, they turn-down 1 their dainty thumbs because the satire means — them. . Beware of Satire Ordinarily a Tittle satire does a joke or a book no harm. In fact, it gives It a relish and makes it go all the bet ter, as the fizz Improves champagne. Satire is excellent, provided you satirize the right person— or persons. This the Roman wag realized too late. If that miserable little Joke of his had been on some lanky publican, or some cocky, centurion, or some court beauty whom the Emperor didn't like, the conse quences of the .pleasantry would have been vastly difjferept. '.- But the satire was aimed at Tiberius. So. too, . Mr." Butler's head was perfectly cafe when, In "Pigs Is Pigs," he satirized .the' methods of express companies and the, generally recognized intelligence, of thfelr agents. Tho. ladies enjoyed the satire of "Pigs Is Pigs" because most of them , have pretty decided 'opinions themselves - anent - .express \ companies and express agents. In his former book Mr. Butler satirized the right persons and found himself famous;. in "The Incubator Baby" he satirizes the wronr persenu^ and ll nds himself In fameus. . . " v , 'The Ineab»t«r Baby" has -been <!»•> uttlbmd by its author, as: "a g'entln satire on sclftntifir. motherhood." Th* story deals .'with the , rearing of an , in . fant by, the incubater-' precess, under the direction of .1 cemmitt«s fr«fn : the Federation of Women's Clubs,;, Little Marjorie Fielding— that was the Incu bator's Baby's name— speedily realized that there were several baby, needs « an lncubater cannot *ui»ply.. \u25a0' .», "Sh« wanted," \u25a0 says Mr.-, Butier,'- "te Le loved and methared and petted.when ever she was net hungry nor sleepy, and, whenever : a nickol-plated incu bator may be able \u25a0 to da, |t is Vnot an 'adept at kissing, It may exude balmy temperature, better than an old-style open' fireplace, but* if is a • failure at wrapping ;iti'. warm, soft arms /around a - baby and pressing its cheek ; againsts t a tiny, satin cheek. The very'caßtiren ness of Jti constractien prevent! ! it 'froih lifting; tVe -infant high' in the air until coos and crbm'S of baby laughter tell of unsystematic; and runsctentific ' joy." [' .' t . Here are little Mtrjorie's nrst im presßiens of her/scientlfic;mamat; - ' Z "A. tall lady" came to .the; incubator in ;company ? with* the nurse, \u0084 She Tex f amincd .. the t Incubator carefully 'and sskfed- a- great', many -questions about temperature. . the »»nitation. - alimenta- : lion: and \u25a0 digestion and other . sclentifit • things.*" " ,*i She ( copied .: evify -thlng on- the. record chart .sihd ' asked to Jiare . Marj6r|e M # elgh«d/ and . put the welglit.doirn In her little rtemoranijum book.; .\u25a0 * . . ' -' . " 'I , wish /to, be very careful 'and, ex act,' she ; «aid,;V'for -I am her mother, and • If ' I do not . look after ; these things ; : no-.on« will,' 1 and then Marjorie knew Hhis' was 'her, mether, ; '- \u25a0 - " v-'ShV waited** patiently Jt<tr the pre llmjnarles' to:"be;Vompletea teet cc that.the real rmother^businesßVceuld ? begin; but ' liar nibtiitir must \u25a0 have been • veryjbusy , Jthat day/ for slie .; went away ; without introduced Ho;Marjbrie7^ ' ''Marjorie^was disappointed. Bhe-had beporne" used to being regarded «b ; an eiitertaintnent f or the" faces that passed . by, and ; she had j become accustomed to have the incubatojv, people regard; her' "as a case ;'* ' •, • r^but.BhVdid not like' t to "have ," her): motjier' look upon iher/merely;aß]a?itatißtics.''' ~fj \u25a0 V*- Marjerie's' mothjftr," we V: are' told, 'f-.P* m . \u25a0* .lieved fin \u25a0/'."thVi broad "-life I .'; 'for \u25a0 women. \u25a0 .* »' '...,-", .'. '\u25a0' . -.' VAlre. .FittJalflM," ; Mf, - autxajr : »tsareJl u«," "was -not *«laTe; td th« hern*, I would sign he? oerCtAoat* of 'freedom \u25a0 myself, 'f t^^^^^^^S:">. :'\u25a0\u25a0'•. \u25a0 A-'r '\u25a0' ': IThe .tinid f*mfi, hawfrvar, wiiftn the .'lncubator Bafey had to leave th« inc«' • baton: Nebady had deigned ta t«Il liar jorie of , the* intended transfer, hut. Bay « ", \u25a0 the ;. author, ';-• "she i' raisht have 'A known that something unusual ' was en . foot if she? had •' thought i-abeai s it,"i*.fer ," her fatherland her 'raethsr caiKa' simul taneously, . - • i •\u25a0 4-- -.;. ;\u25a0 \u25a0 \u25a0 .- \u25a0» . .." '•'.' Wlieri «i»» «weVd *rin , tin* . Field Ing r home; the iwerld^had ;for. Mar jorie.U J'SheT.wae in : a^Btranf «;> foreign ; land;- where ..th'e^walls^were^of^jwhlte". 1 'and '-blue" tiles 'and the celling ,was.Vhite : and '; thf»,.' floor! was^"covered '.withv; soft frugs. vlt : may .; have' been' ifaautlful,- but ; it , waV not; home. 1 *: There Iwas no • incu bator.' 1 ; /.'.'.' \ : .'i^. : *-\^-' ,'.' V ' . The committee that >teo_k;. charge ; of ; the* -sclontlno;* nursing: of : Marjorie'/ is : thusidescrlbed.byUhe.tlaringgatirlst: ' '\u25a0' '\u25a0\u25a0 "Mies it Martlia 1 ' WIIM of - the ; Brown- Ing j Club' waß^niadrs \u25a0chftirmart';'ot :the, - cbmmi t tec: " Mlgß Vesey> of the * Higher. Llfr Circle and *Hss Lorlnr \u25a0 of. the •Pii.vs.ical Good' Guild were members of it. and Mrs. Fielding (Marjories moth er), was added at the last moment to represent the Mothers' Club because Die oth''!V members of the Mother*' Club saUt that they had enough to do to ! oak after their own babies." liero Is. h specimen' of the rules drawn up by the astute committee: *• Whereas, The lower '\u25a0 strata \u25a0of air In a room are the abldinsr places oC millions of germs, and whereas, chil- \u25a0 rtren playing upon the floor take into their mouths and convey thence to their stomachs the said germs, as well *a pins, lint, needles, buttons and other Indigestible and highly injurious sub stances: therefore be it resolved, that the eaid Siarjorl© Fielding shall never be allowed to sit. He, recline or rest. .upon" the floor," nor upon any rug. blan ket or other covering upon ti»«-sa:d floor." These are by no means the only thrusts made at scientific motherhood.. i:hiswick, the nurse, though herself a \u25a0product of scientific training. . was a little afraid of the schedule drawn up l>y, the/ committee. "Jt's a nice schedule, ma'am. I'll say that for' it," she. said, "but If the day comes when she's entered to creep, and she, don't creep, what am I going to do about it?": That looked like a sure enough poser and the committee ; was for a moment disconcerted. But Miss Wiles of th» Browning Club knew^ber business. •'I- ~"If»i your "duty to see that she does - creep," said the lady chairman, de eldedly. ' The Unscientific Baby A^d that settled the matter and must have scared little Marjorle, for one day when .her scientific mamma was off reading a paper on "Scientific Mother-^ Jiaod", at the annual convention of the f •Federation of "Women's Clubs, Marjorie ruthlessly smashed -tlje schedule .by learning to creep before the predeter tnlned time. \u25a0 . ; There was at least one old-fashioned' person in .the Fielding home. Miss Vickers.- the private secretary, "was Bcisntific— as | a bookkeeper: — but as a r nurse ; she; was lgnorantly; human. -."She scoffed at the Higher JUlte for ••Women; she at« candy and avoided &a ;. much;. as possible her physical good. ["'Bhe: refused to be. emancipated. She had an idea- it meant something In the i way»of doing without lacing and wear ing a-slse too largo for -one.' . , "So 'when she was left .alone with i - Mar jorie they had. a good time. They " sat .on the floor and ; imbibed germs, '" and they, did all, sorts v of' unscientific. \u25a0 retrogressive, things.; Perhaps that was -why, Marjorle remained c sweet, *cl:«e'r-' , tul baby; Instead of becoming, a sour ' old woman." ' - \u25a0 BtSßa :,:viverily. Mr- Ellis Parker Butler knew >eth thft gentle art of rubbing It In! This J same, Miss .'Vlckers ' we» ; tha means o* i : bringing Marjorle's father to his senses. ; -Marjorie-and ;sh*»; were.; engaged 'In a .twenty-foot* crawling, match one even \u25a0 \ ins 'when Mr.*' Fielding, appeared upon \u25a0 the scene. He reproached l the ; private ' secretary; for belngunsclentlflc, and the ? private ). secretary "talked back. Mr. ;- Fielding' was -staggered. '" " Tou— you don't believe. in sclentlflc / motherhood?* \u25a0he'crled.'r". ".'Scientific doesn't hurt any," cam* the quick responst, 'bat it need! soxna mother with it.' " The result was that "when the door bell ran?, half an hour later. Mr. Field ing was on hie hands and knees, play- Ing- peekaboo* with Marjorie." One o* the most amusing parts of the book tells how everybody else sur /•eptit.'.ously smashed the schedule, too- The schedule sard no candy for Mar- Jc-tc. c.nd everybody gave Marjorfe candy when everybody else wasn't looking. Result. Marjorie got sick. En? ter the family doctor, not scientific..'.-: '••Doctor,* said Mr. Fielding unstead ily, 'do you think you can pull her through?' "The doctor rumbled deep in his throat. • "Pull her through" he growled. T«. I'll pull her tfcrougn. I'll prescribe — * "He turned and. walking: to the v,-a.ll, tore down, the rules and schedule so carefully prepared by the committee. "VTUen he faced llr. Fielding ag»'.r he seemed happier. Wanted: A Grandmother '"I prescribe or.c grandmother — on* good, old -fashioned pran dm other. And see that she isn't any new-fangled af fair, either, or I"! turn her out and go out ©a th« street ar.i pi^k one t" suit me. • • • An incubator Is all righi when a mother rron't tk>, ai^d a mother is a!! rigbt wbtn you can't Jt»t a grandmother. t>»:r hang your commit te»s an<l your rules:' " Whew* I* it any wonder tl.at Mr. Butler* li-sad r«sts uneasily on his ; shoulders? It ij» surprising that he is being severely called to account? ' Is it in the least marvelous that his malls bring him communications like this: "If some • men." one woman write*, "would keep their noses out of babies' cradles and leave us women to attest to the infants* upbringing. there :wouUl be fetrer 'fresh' youngsters in the world." Assuredly, this i* paying back tlia author of "The Incubator Baby" In his own coin. By "fresh youngsters'* the lady m?.y not mean anybody In particu lar, but — well. Mr. Butler is still- a you n s man. Worst of all. tills is only a specimen of' the things scientific mothers are saying to and about the hapless hu morist and his equally hapless bcoV. Other fair dissenters offer helpful ad vice. Says one of them: "Take one normally sensible man and bring: him into contact with his first-born, kick ing offspring, and you have provided all the situation necessary for a dem onstration of male Imbecility. If a man only knew how foolish he look*. I am constantly afflicted with a partic ularly distressing and reprehensible ; case in the person of the gentleman who hands me over his salary Patur- days. His wadding me indicated, Ito my mind at least, that be was pos sessed of common sense, but slr.c* a \u25a0- third member Vjas been added to <h« household there have been times wh»n I look at him furtively aud fearfully. He will lift that Infant out of its cra dle and hold it in about the fame manner and- just about as c»"r«;u!lyu h<* would hold his » overcoat wh*n *eat»d In a theater. And all this tlra«" he babbles-^-I can" not think of any other word that more truly' describe*" . his. yooai efforts — !n a way that would Instantly .suggest to anybody not fa miliar with the symptoms.. the advisa bility of his early commitment to iom» cozy little" 'home* .fmr.-a; long pcrloU '" of 'rest,' ..; to be broksn only .by such , glimpses of. the outer world as might be had thrOuglva small, barred wra-* (J«t. L«t Mr. Ellis Parker, Butler train his* battery -of satire on Ttfcs foolish fathers of the great first-borni Ha can certainly find much valuable materlaL" Xo doubt, no doubt; and we may rest assuredh* will. OJ« man can afford t_eTj undergo decapitation -more than once.- I Mr. Butler must'do.aemetblnsV.and in a liurry, to square, himself ?wlth. the advocates of scientific motherhood.*! . And" meanwhile cometh/ a* voice.' shrill andtawe-slricken, from the dark Plutonian shore: "Shades of Numa Pompiltus and tin Nymph Egerla! Methought I was pr#- : suming, and in sooth I wm, for;I, joked about Tiberius ths Divine; but this. young man poke* fun, at •eientifla "'motherhood:. Resplce flawn," Which, liberally . translate^ Mtnv "I ••e'yeur Unlsh."