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The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, December 05, 1896, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99066033/1896-12-05/ed-1/seq-1/

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VOL 11 NO. 47
ESTABLISHED IN 1836
PRICE FIVE CBNTi
LINCOLN NEB., SATURDAY. DECEMBER 5, 1806.
turns ron omoiiit'
AS SSCOirD-CLAa XATTS
PUBLISHED EVZKY SATUSDAT
m eaniER primtik ui fbblisiim ci
Office 1132 N street, Up Stairs.
Telephone 384.
SARAH B. HARRIS Editor
Subscription Bate la Advance.
Per annum 12.01
Six months v 1.00
Three months I M
One month SO
Single copies
i OBSERVATIONS i
"Totem Tales," with 174 illustrations,
by W. S. Phillips, recently issued by the
Star Publishing Co. of Chicago, is a
collection of the folk-lore stories of the
North Pacific coast Indians. Mr. Phil
lips tells the tales as he heard them
from the lip3 of Indians squatted by the
campfire in the great forests of the
northwest, or from squaw men who got
them from their " n-laws." Mr. Phillips
says that the old Indian story teller is a
fast vanishing typo. He is disappearing
with the elk and the buffalo before the
engine of civilization. But Mr. Phillips
was in time to feel his spell as he told
tho Indian legends of the origin of the
sun, moon and stars, animals and men.
The story-tellers eyes shine with inter
'est in his own story, and he acts asmuch
of it as he can, posturing, gesticulating,
talking with his hands as much as with
his mouth, and the musical gutterals of
the Indian tongue adding greatly to the
story value of the tale. 'Ihe giant pir.es'
rite up and up from the circle of the
light until they are lost in the blackness
that is only intensified by the blaze. The
shadows flit about as tho fire flickers,
and it is not long until every Indian in
the circle of listeners imagineshecansee
demons and fairies in tho nooks of every
bush and peeping from behind the giant
trees, and they are in precisely the same
state of mind that children are who listen
to, and believe, the frightful ghost stor
ies told them by some old woman."
The legends account for the presence
of mountains and other natural objects,
the beginning, of creation, of animals
and birds. "In dem days," as Uncle
Bemus says, the beasta talked together
and various accidents decided the form
their descendants should bear. As, for
instance, in the story of Chee-Chce-Wa-tah,
the humming bird:
"While he stood thero he saw a man
who was standing still and throwing his
hands about in the air over his" head
very fast, and trying to keep tho rain
from falling on him in this way.
When Quaw-te aht saw this he
thought this man was very foolish, and
he said to him, 'Why do you do this?'
"That is the way to keep the rain from
falling upon you,' said the man.
" 'You are foolish, and for your foolish
ways, I will change your form,' Baid
Quaw-te-aht, the changer. 'Go and be
'always in tho form of Chee-chee-watah,
the Humming Bird, and throw your arms
fast for the rest of your life.'
"And so by the magic of Quaw-te-aht
the man was changed into the form of
the little bird that makes a noise with
his wings, Chee-chee-wntah, and now
you will alway3 see him when the rain
has just gone, or when the tears of Sno
qualm, the moon, fall at the coming of
Polikely, the night, all because of his
foolish ways when he was a man.
"Now, since this was done, no Indian
is afraid of the rcln, and does rot care
if it falls on him, because he remembers
the Humming Bird, Chee-chee-watah."
The stories are all characterized by a
childlike simplicity. The Greek myth
ology, which explained natural phenom
ena and the origin ol man satisfactorily to
the Greeks, has subtlety, and the lives of
the gods unfold like a biography. The
Indian tales, of tho raven, the sun, the
moon, the bear and the frog, relate their
deeds of creation without idealizing the
persons of the gods or totems from whom
tho Indians believe thomselves do
scended. How beautiful the Sun God
of the Greeks! And this is the descrip
tion of the Indian Sun God:
"Now Speow was a very strange man
to look at, because he was different from
all other men, He was a short, flesh;
man, with ears like a fox. His eyes were
jet black, but were not like our eyes, for
they were placed at the end of horny
knobs that stuck out from Speow's
brow. A lobster has eyes liko the eyes
of Speow. In his mouth were two great
tusks like the fangs of a cougar. His
nose was sharp and pointed, and he wore
a long white beard that reached below
his waist. Speow could change himself
into any shape he liked and could
change the shape of other things as well.
He Cjuld cut himself to pieces and put
himself together again. His body could
be killed and skinned, but that would
not kill Speow because of his magic"
'1 he story shows, perhaps better than
any other, the simplicity and the limited
imagination of a people without arts
and without literature.
The author has- not transfused his
material,but has putitintoEnglish,using
the simplest words in the language for
his purpose. The tales have the flavor
of a soil covered by drying and rotten
pine needles stirred by the salt sea air
of the ocean. Every ono is disappointed
who has gone into a forest and laid his
head down on the earth, expecting to be
intoxicated by the odor of violets and
all sweet scents. The soil, and especially
forest soil, has a peculiar flavor, not
sweet and not at all Bcductive. There is
a hint of violets and the May, but to the
luxurious nostril, enervated by sachet
powder and by great bunches of Parma
violets, it is a very common smell, to be
avoided thereafter if possible. But the
more you breathe that ancient odor the
more you like it. The same may be said
of these Indian legends. Tho bold nar
rative without ingenuity of plot or sug
gestion of beauty, is flat to a palate
accustomed to Zola, Balzac acd Du
Maurier. Even Howells and James are
highly seasoned compared to these.
But as I read tho anti
quarian spirit ' was developed.
The witchery of tho winds, the whisper
ing and the waving, tho constant pres
ence of the sky, the absence of drapes,
pianos, chairs, carpets and everything
that denotes the distance, the race has
travelled since it lived outdoors, tuned
my spirit into harmony with the Indian
tales.
Quite aside from the literary interest.
Totem Tales has an ethnological value.
Where the red men are not degenerat
ing they are becoming civilized and the
accomplishment of the task Mr. Phdlips
has begun will soon be impossible.
The letter press and the illustrations
are by tho" same hand. 1 he latter are
faithful copies of tho northwest Indian,
his costumes, carvings and lodge as well
as the coast animals and plants of the
North Pacific slope.
Mr. W. S. Phillips is a nephew of our
own Captain R. O. Phillips and he re
sides in Beatrice. His book ha? received
very favorable notices in the magazines
and bids fair to be one of the successful
books of the year so far as the sale is
concerned as well as in other respects.
It is Miss Flora, instead of Miss Edna
Bullock, who is awarded the first prize
in The Courier prizj contest. Mr. A. C.
Ziemer is the author of "The Story of
tho Deacon and the Four Advertising
Solicitors,", which takes the second
prize. If the chuckles which issued
from the composing room while the
story was being set up, and the laughter
which nearly overcame the proofreader
while revising Mr. Ziemer's story, are
indications of humor, then the Deacon's
ruse will amuse all who read it.
The judges who decided upon the
stories submitted for competition were
ignorant of the names of the authors, so
that local pride had nothing to do with
it. The Courier received stories from
all over the state, and several from the
east. Most of them are very good, and
some will be published in subsequent
issues of this paper.
The Woman's club of Denver has a
membership of over flvo hundred. It is
divided into departments just like tho
Lincoln Woman's club, and is doing
conscientious work. 1 he art department
is working to provide tho public schools
of tho city with good pictures, of which
it has already secured a number by do
nations and purchase. They consist of
reprints, fotografs and fotogravurcs of
some of tho best paintings.
The directors of the city library have
cut off "Tho Damnation of
Theron Waro" from the list of
now books to ho ordered. The commit
tee said it was not a proper book for a
public library. Yet Ian McCIaren, Dr.
John Watson, the author of "The Bon
nie Briar Bush, recommended by minis
ters and tho good of all nations, says that
ho considers Harold Frederic among tho
first of American novelists. He said also
that tho English considered "The Dam
nation of 'J heron Ware" tin best book of
tho year, and that Frederic is more dis
cussed and read at the present timo
in England than any otherauthor, either
English or American. But the book
committee of tho public library will seo
to it that Lincoln does not read Frederic.
And no book could have a better adver
tisement in tho way of a send off than
that.
The first edition of "The Damnation
of Theron Ware" was published last
June. The first edition was published
by Stone and Kimball in March, I8C6.
In June, in September and on the last
of September another edition was pub
lished. Four editions in as many months
is excuse enough, if excuse be needed
for its review here.
Theron Ware is a young, talented
Methodist preacher not a minister for
that comes by grace and character. Ho
preached because he took oratorical
prizes at college and passed through
some sort of an experience which felt
liko what he supposed to be conversion,
something that did not affect his con
science or the place in him in which
principle starts from and develops. Hev
is a farm lad. Ho took after his parents
in religion as unconsciously as he copied
the twang of their speech. He became
a preacher and thought very well of
himself, considering his talents, for ac
cepting so humble a profession. Ha
greets every new experience with out
stretched hands and is easily conquered
by the world, tho flesh, the devil, or tha
love o woman, call it what you like.
He is settled in a small parish, who
dole out his salary to him grudgingly
and their treatment has begun to make
a cynic out of him when he meets and
follows a little procession of labouring
men, carrying one of their number on av
litter wounded to death. At the dyina;
man's door they set down their burden
and although the man is a Catholic,.
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