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of seafaring men; but we have hitherto freedom' which is all he claimed to give. been able to believe them sound in their It takes no less temerity to love Emernobler parts. We should like to cherish son, and he meant that it should be so, this simple faith, and, though alienated that we should climb high to reach him. from prize-fighters by the narrowness of He is not lovable as Lamb is lovable, our civic and social code, to retain our and he would not have wanted to be. sympathy for admirals. It cannot be A man who all his life repelled unwelthat their fair fame will be forever come intimacies had no desire to sursmirched by the tactics of a man who render his memory to the affection of ruined the government he served.
every idle reader. The function of criticism is presum- It is such a sure thing to appeal from ably to clear our mental horizon, to get intelligence to conscience, from the trouus within close range of the criticized. ble involved in understanding to the It recognizes moral as well as intellect- ease with which judgment is passed, ual issues; but it differentiates them. that critics may be pardoned their freWhen Emerson said, 'Goethe can never quent transcursions. Yet problems of be dear to men. His is not even the de- conduct are just as puzzling as probvotion to pure truth, but to truth for lems of intellect. That is why Mr. the sake of culture,' he implied that Stevenson pronounced a sneaking kindtruth, besides being a better thing than ness to be instructive.' He offered it as culture, was also a more lovable thing, a road to knowledge rather than as a which is not the case. It takes temerity means of enjoyment. Not that he was to love Goethe; but there are always unaware of the pleasures which follow men-young, keen, speculative, beauty- in its wake. He knew the world up and loving men, — to whom he is inexpres down well enough to be thankful that sibly dear because of the vistas he opens, he had never lost his taste for bad the thoughts he releases, the 'inward company.
SOLILOQUY FOR A THIRD ACT
BY CHRISTOPHER MORLEY
What is this sullen curious interval
This Now, for great men dead, is golden Future;
Men love and praise the Past — the only thing
Yet some there are, great thoughtless active souls,
So must I die, and pass to Timeless nothing?
BY WILLIAM BEEBE
TROPICAL midges of sorts live less of the previous year; and now what than a day — sequoias have felt their finally turned me aside from my usual sap quicken with the warmth of three trail was a sound. Twelve months ago thousand springs. Somewhere between I wrote: “From the monotone of underthese extremes, we open our eyes, look world sounds a strange little rasping about us for a time, and close them detached itself, a reiterated, subdued again. Modern political geography and scraping or picking. It carried my shift of government give us Methusa mind instantly to the throbbing theme listic feelings; but a glance at rocks or of the Nibelungs, onomatopoetic of stars sends us shuddering among the the little hammers forever busy at their other motes, which glisten for a moment underground work. I circled a small in the sunlight and then vanish. bush at my side, and found that the
We who strive for a little insight into sound came from one of the branches evolution, and the meaning of things as near the top; so with my glasses I bethey are, forever long for a glimpse of gan a systematic search. This was as things as they were. Here at my British far as I ever got; for a flock of parraGuiana laboratory I wonder what the keets exploded close at hand and blew land was like before the dense mat of the lesser sound out of mind. If I had vegetation covered every rock and grain stopped to guess, I should probably of sand; or how the rivers looked when have considered the author a loi ;; first their waters trickled to the sea. beetle or some fiddling orthopter. All our stories are of the middles of Now, a year later, I suddenly s..]
; things — without beginning or end; we twenty yards away; for at the sú v scientists are plunged suddenly upon a the silvery cadence of a wood cosmos in the full uproar of æons of I heard the low, measured, liel precedent, unable to look ahead, while rhythm which instantly revived ini ll., to look backward we must look down. mind every detail of the clearing. I was
. Exactly a year ago I spent two hours headed toward a distant palm-frond,
I in a clearing in the jungle back of Kar- beneath whose tip was a nest of Rufous tabo laboratory, and let my eyes and Hermits; for I wished to see the two ears have full swing. Now, in August atoms of hummingbirds at the moment of the succeeding year, I came again to when they rolled from their petit-pois this clearing, and found it no more a egg-shells. I gave this up for the day, clearing. Indeed, so changed was it, and turned up the hill, where, fifty feet that for weeks I had passed close by away, were the stump and bush near without a thought of the jungle meadow which I had sat and watched. Three 1 See ‘A Jungle Clearing,' in the Atlantic for
times I went past the place before I January, 1920.
could be certain; and even at the last I identified it only by the relative posi- first stroke of the axe sent the rhythm tion of the giant tauroneero tree, in up to once a second, but did not alter which I had shot many cotingas. The the timbre. A few blows, and the small stump was there, a bit lower and more trunk gave way, and I fled for my life. worn at the crevices, leaking sawdust But there was no angry buzzing, and I like an over-loved doll; but the low came close. After a cessation of ten or shrub had become a tall sapling, the fifteen seconds the sound began again, weeds vervain, boneset, velvet-leaf weaker but steady. The foliage was — all had been topped and killed off by alive with small Axteca ants; but these dense-foliaged bushes and shrubs, which were tenants of several small nests near a year before had not raised a leaf above by and at the catastrophe overran the meadow-level. The old vistas were everything. gone, the landscape had closed in, the The largest structure was the smooth wilderness was shutting down. Nature carton nest of a wasp - a beautiful herself was 'letting in the jungle.' I felt species, pale yellowish-red with winelike Rip Van Winkle, or even more colored wings. Only once did an indialien, as if the passing of time had been vidual make an attempt to sting, and, accelerated and my longed-for leap had even when my head was within six been accomplished, beyond the usual inches, the wasps rested quietly on the ken of mankind's earthly lease of senses. broken combs. By careful watching, I
All these astounding changes had observed that many of the insects jerkcome to pass through the unceasing ed the abdomen sharply downward, heat and moisture of a tropical year; hitting the comb, or shell, of smooth and under deliberate scientific calcula- paper a forceful blow, and producing a tion there was nothing unusual in the very distinct noise. I could not at first alteration. I remembered the remark- see the mass of wasps that were givable growth of one of the laboratory ing forth the major rhythm, as they were bamboo shoots during the rainy season hidden deep in the nest, but the fifty– twelve and a half feet in sixteen days; odd wasps in sight kept perfect time; or but that was a single stem, like a blade occasionally an individual skipped one of grass, whereas here the whole land- or two beats, coming in regularly on scape was altered
new birds, new in- every alternate or every third beat. sects, branches, foliage, flowers, where, Where they were two or three deep, the twelve short months past, was open sky uppermost wasps struck the insects beabove low weeds.
low them with their abdomens in perIn the hollow root on the beach, my fect rhythm with the next beat. For band of crane-flies had danced for a half an hour the sound continued, then thousand hours; but here was a sound died down, and was not heard again. which had apparently never ceased for The wasps dispersed during the night, more than a year — perhaps five thou- and the nest was deserted. sand hours of daylight. It was a low, It reminded me of the telegraphing penetrating, abruptly reiterated beat, ants, which I have often heard in occurring about once every second and Borneo - a remarkable sweeping roll, a half, and distinctly audible a hundred caused by the host of insects striking feet away. The 'low bush,' from which the leaves with their heads, and proit proceeded last year, was now a re- duced only when they are disturbed. It spectable sapling, and the source far out appeared to be of the nature of a warnof reach overhead. I discovered a round- ing signal, giving me opportunity to ish mass among the leaves; and the back away from the stinging legions
809 that filled the thicket against which I oscine perch in the tree of bird-life and pushed.
sang to himself. Now and then he was The rhythm of these wasps was very drowned out by the shrilling of cicadas; different. They were peaceable, not but it was a delightful serenade, and he even resenting the devastation of their seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. A home; but always and always must the few days before, I had made a careful inexplicable beat, beat, beat be kept study of the syrinx of this bird, whom up, serving some purpose quite hidden we may call, rather euphoniously, Trofrom me. During succeeding months gonurus curucui, and had been struck I found two more nests, with similar by the simplicity of both muscles and habits of sound-vibrations that led to bones. Now, he having summoned his their discovery. From one small nest, mate in regular accents, there followed which fairly shook with the strength of this unexpected whisper song. It retheir beats, I extracted a single wasp called similar melodies sung by pheasand placed him in a glass-topped ants and Himalayan partridges, usually metal box. For three minutes he kept after they had gone to roost. up the rhythmic beat. Then I began Once the female swooped after an a more rapid tattoo on the bottom of insect; and in the midst of one of the the box, and the changed tempo con- sweetest passages of the male trogon, a fused him, so that he stopped at once, green grasshopper shifted his position. and would not tap again.
He was only two inches
from the A few little Mazaruni daisies lived singer, and all this time had been hidden on here and there, blossoming bravely, by his chlorophyll-hued veil. And now trying to believe that the shade was the trogon fairly fell off the branch, lessening and not daily becoming more seizing the insect almost before the dense. But their leaves were losing tone died away. Swallowing it with heart and paling in the scant light. An- considerable difficulty, the harmony other six months, and dead leaves and was taken up again, a bit throaty for moss would obliterate them, and the a few notes. Then the pair talked tozone of brilliant flowers and gorgeous gether in usual trogon fashion, and the butterflies and birds would shift many sudden shadow of a passing vulture feet into the air, with the tops of the drew forth discordant cat-calls, as both trees as a new level.
birds dashed from sight, to avoid the As long as I remained by my stump, fancied hawk. my visitors were of the jungle. A A few minutes later the vocal seal of yellow-bellied trogon came quite close, the jungle was uttered by a quadrille and sat, as trogons do, very straight bird. When the notes of this wren are and stiff, like a poorly mounted bird, heard, I can never imagine open blazwatching passing Aycatchers and me ing sunshine, or unobstructed blue sky. and the glimpses of sky. At first he Like the call of the wood pewee, the rolled his little cuckoo-like notes, and wren's radiates coolness and shadowy his brown mate swooped up, saw me, quiet. No matter how tropic or breathshifted a few feet farther off, and perch- less the jungle, when the flute-like notes ed, full of curiosity, craning her neck arise, they bring a feeling of freshness, and looking first with one eye, then the they start up a mental breeze, which other. Now the male began a content cools one's thoughts; and although there song. With all possible variations of may be no water for miles, yet we can his few and simple tones, on a low and fairly hear the drip of cool drops falling very sweet timbre, he belied his un- from thick moss to pools below. First