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lasted in many monarchies. Both citizens, it must be remembered, have a vote. The rich people are putting out anchors; but will the anchors hold in case of a storm?
A very prosperous-looking Irishman was pointed out to me in Broadway as being in receipt of a large income from a certain wealthy connection in New York. "What service does he render for it?" I asked. "Oh," was the reply, "he does n't do anything for it; but he is a man who has great influence in the down-town wards, and the X.'s keep him in their pay, so that in case of any trouble here in New York such as a riot, he might prevent their houses from being looted." If it has come to this, that Dives in New York is paying toll to Tammany with one hand, in order to protect himself from the city government, and toll to O'Flanagan with the other hand, to protect himself from a possible mob,— if it has come to this, I should say that our metropolis is built upon the sand.
A little experience of my own will illustrate the fearful chasm which yawns between the fortunate and the unfortunate in New York. I was dining with some friends at a newly opened hotel in Fifth Avenue. The table was beautifully furnished with spotless linen and gleaming silver; waiters came and went noiselessly on the thick carpet; a soft, luxurious light was diffused by candles and lamps, and we had an elaborate repast of many courses and well-selected wines. The room was a little too warm, and a window near us had been opened an inch or two, though the night was cold and wet. Suddenly this window was thrown wide open, and there appeared at it a gaunt man, with matted beard and wild, hungry eyes. He looked at us and at the rich, abundant food, and then he said, in a loud but apparently not excited voice, "Three days ago I pawned my coat to buy a loaf of bread for my wife and children." That was all. The head waiter rushed to the window and slammed it down; there was talk of the police; a lady near by turned pale with fright, and had to be revived by means of a smelling-bottle; then the sumptuous eating and drinking were resumed as before. But I confess that my uneducated country appetite did not survive this incident. The victuals that the man outside in the cold and dark was going without stuck in my throat; champagne itself failed to wash them down.
The talk of what the Fair may
the Rich. do, must do, for higher civilization in America has been endless, and yet I have waited for months, and waited in vain, to hear one word as to its influence on the need nearest my heart. I long to have some one, some one with such learning and authority as I cannot pretend to, take up the theme of how shall I word it? — natural resources in landscape gardening.
A deal of praise is being lavished on Mr. Olmstead, but no one is properly underscoring, for the benefit of the stupid rich, the best lesson in his work at the Fair, the lesson of the lagoon on the value of cultivating and heightening, without change of character, nature's own choice effects.
Of course, when put that way, such value appears so obvious, so in harmony with the philosophy of all art, that it seems incredible that the point should need theoretical emphasis, however much we might have to learn practically.
But we have only to look at the pleasure grounds of the rich, from Newport to Oconomowoc, to see that the notion that Nature anywhere knows what she is about is quite foreign to the popular creed in gardening. Nobody could oppose the creation of lawns and flower beds; they assuredly have a right to a place in the scheme of things; but why presume that lawns, flower beds, and the like are the only possibilities for beautiful grounds"? All too often nothing else seems possible, or at least nothing else is so easy to achieve. But when Nature has lavished herself on some rare spot; when, as on so much of our northern Atlantic coast, she has brought together a host of lovely things, roses, spiræa, iris, bay, clethra, morning-glories, and has put in nothing that is not lovely, why should the rich man have but one notion of his opportunities, — that, after carefully buying the most charming spot he can find, it is his duty to sweep all these exquisite growths into a bonfire, and, starting from the bare ground, create a lawn and plant evergreens? If he must do that, why, I ask it with bitter passion, — why is he not content to choose some ugly spot for his work, one of the many places that even his crudest methods would improve? Is there any hope that Mr. Olmstead's following and heightening of Nature's own effects in parts of the lagoon will broaden the rich man's notions of the possible? If he
could only once conceive that money may be spent in this way as well as another, possibly he would be reconciled to try it. But of course there is the disadvantage that the result does not tell loudly of the money spent, and in many cases that would doubtless be a fatal drawback.
In promulgating my little views conversationally I am continually overcome with surprise at the failure of sympathy in some quarters where I had confidently expected it; at the inability of various charming people to conceive of any way of assisting Nature but by making lawns and flower beds, no matter what the conditions; and as for letting her alone, a course I praise only as a lesser evil than destroying all vestiges of her best schemes, that simply strikes them as low,
as the conduct adapted to squatters, and no one else. They tell me Newport is beautiful, and are only mystified when I quote Mr. John La Farge (I am sure he will not mind my sustaining myself with his name in so good a cause) as saying that the sight of Newport saddens him, because one of the most beautiful coasts in the world, a place that should have been sacredly preserved in its pristine, unique loveliness, has been - simply destroyed.
But I have, by much experiment, chanced upon a way of inserting the new idea that rarely fails to give pain, the pain that testifies to some success in inoculation. I mention it for the benefit of any other member of the Club who may be carrying on a similar crusade.
Why can't we do as the Japanese do so often, - at Nikko, for instance? There is a spot that is one of the sights of the world for beauty; it has had the most devoted care lavished upon it for hundreds of years, and yet, except in the temples and tombs, you cannot trace the hand of man. It has not been left alone, but it has been beautified with such subtle art that it looks as if it had."
I cannot say why this crude and probably inaccurate statement (for it is little enough I know about Nikko) should make an impression, but it does it often gives my victim his first notion that maybe there is something to be said on my side; that I am not simply a "crank." So I am thinking that something might be done to save some acres of wild roses, some lily ponds, for the next generation, if the energetic, the
able, and the wise would begin a propaganda in the names of the Fair and the Japanese. But success will have to come soon, or there will be nothing left to save. Every summer sees the ignorant rich descend like the locust upon all that is fairest in the land. Doubtless the poor, as a rule, have no better taste, but they have less power, and one cannot hate them for what they might do as one hates the others for what they have done. - Among the words which have come to us, at different periods in the history of our language, from the graceful and expressive French, I know of none which has undergone such misappropriation as the term "amateur."
The Decline of the Amateur.
I do not refer to the matter of pronunciation. One does not wish to be pedantic, and no great inconsistency is found in the fact that we may be fairly good French scholars and yet be addicted to the pronunciation amature. I refer rather to the significance and application of the term. There must have been there was - a time when the title carried with it respect, dignity, and worth. The primary definition signified that the amateur was a person attached to some particular pursuit, study, or science (vide Burke), and that this attachment was cultivated without hope of pecuniary benefit and without reference to social advancement ; literally from love of it. In Europe, especially, the leisure classes produced many amateurs of both sexes, who did their duty and filled a certain place in life, as became enthusiastic lovers of art, science, and literature. But this elegant, useful, cultivated, and appreciative class seems in danger of disappearing. Amateur has collided with professional, and the former term has gradually but steadily declined in favor; in fact, it has become almost a term of opprobrium. The work of an amateur, the touch of the amateur, a mere amateur, amateurish, amateurishness, - these are different current expressions which all mean the same thing, bad work.
This feature of our present development is to be deplored, partly on the ground that the original assumption : that is, that all amateur work is bad is false, partly because the state of society suffers thereby. The evil has spread until even royal amateurs come into collision with professionals. Ideals have been lost, standards have been lowered, and criticism has frequently floun
dered in serious, sometimes ludicrous distress. No sphere once sacred to the professional but has been invaded by the amateur; and if the term has, as I suggest, lost its primary respectable meaning, the amateur himself is largely to blame for it. The point is, whether amateurs, as such, had any right to exist, and whether their original functions, aims, and orbits were correct or not. At all times the line must have been difficult to draw, but at least, fifty or a hundred years ago, the professions were restricted to one sex; now the difficulty is made complex by the application and perseverance of the present generation of women. Every one now demands pay for work, recognition as a worker. No one wishes to remain "a mere amateur."
Exemplary as this may be, whither will it tend? Had the "mere amateur" no place in society, no duties in the world? Was he a cumberer of the ground, a loiterer by the way, a blunder, an excrescence, a pest, a scourge? Surely not. Surely there were duties depending upon him; there were functions pleasant to discharge and honorable in themselves; there was a sphere sacred to honest if not brilliant endeavor, and within which a career of noble industry, gentle enthusiasm, and unbiased critical growth was possible. In the present day we sneer, of course, at patronage. We read, but read only, of Grub Street hacks and dedications and flowery odes. We despise Goldsmith, and pity Johnson.
Yet there are many young writers, artists, singers, actors, who are daily courting the society and help of others more fortunate and famous, daily seeking the royal road to success, and often secretly wishing for the patron or patroness, the leisurely, rich, and cultivated friend, the sympathetic amateur, ready to lay time, influence, and money at their feet. "Patronage" is an ugly word, and one phase of it an ugly thing; still, it is the duty, and might be the pleasure, of the rich to assist the poor, the artistically and spiritually as well as the financially poor: here is one of the functions of the "mere amateur."
I do not care to repeat the platitude that amateurs will often insist upon recognition. There is the man who can afford to buy pictures, moving heaven and earth and the hanging committee to admit his own sketches. He is a man with a nice taste in
art and a turn for the pencil; too bad no one has the courage to tell him so. There is the lady who is really musical, with a fine touch and an unerring ear, but whose technique is at fault; probably old-fashioned, most certainly unreliable and inadequate. You insult them both, however, if you use the word "amateur." And so on through the professions, arts, sciences. Many of the writers of to-day might very well serve their country better as readers. I once did a friend, from his point of view, a serious injury by carefully locking away a thin volume of sonnets inscribed "For private circulation only." I had believed in his reticence and modesty, knowing him to be a busy professional man, with little time to devote to the growing of poetry. As a nation, we probably produce more teachers, more journalists, more singers, more painters, more poets, - even for our size, than any other country in the world, * and we are able to convert them, at will, into first-class representative original and creative workers. Every other day somebody or other announces a "new message' from the market place. A musical friend, who conducts a provincial Philharmonic Society, complains that he fears the taste for joining such organizations is on the wane; his singers, particularly sopranos and tenors, all wish to study in Europe and become "stars," and are continually leaving him with that intention. This is a case in point. Contrast it with the attitude of the patient Lancashire weavers and miners, the people who make up the great Festival Choruses of the north of England! These are amateurs, if you like, "mere amateurs," who hardly know the word; but they do their duty, and fill a niche in a steady, intelligent way which insures fine results.
It would be an immense step in the art life of our country if cultivated men and women could be set seriously thinking upon this point, with the result of seeing fully one half of them resolve to bear nobly the name "amateur," neither ashamed of it, nor claiming more for their work than it deserves. Reticence is not yet a feature of our civilization; at a later date, perhaps, will arrive that disparagement of cheap achievement, that hesitation to put forward as original what is only clever imitation, which distinguish the modest, conscientious, devoted amateur.
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
Copyright, 1894, by HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & Co.
SINGLE NUMBERS, 35 CENTS
YEARLY SUBSCRIPTION, $4.00
Entered at the Post Office in Boston as second-class matter