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THINGS SEEN AND HEARD

BY EDGAR J. GOODSPEED

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My academic orbit is not too rigid to making no sound. · A tall romantic permit an occasional deviation into the youth, presumably the teacher, stands outer world. At such times I direct my before them, and they rise up and sit steps into the neighboring City of De- down for no perceptible reason and to struction, where, in a lofty building, is no apparent purpose. One of them will one of those centres of light and leading get up and stand for a long time, and which punctuate the darkness of the then will as suddenly and causelessly sit metropolis. The structure is not exter- down again. At other times, even more nally remarkable, but the modest frac- distressing, they are all motionless. tion of it assigned to my activities is Lips move, but they give forth no sound. certainly no ordinary apartment. It is likea meeting of the deaf-and-dumb

The extraordinary thing about my society. Worst of all, they will someclassroom is its sides. One is formed by times unanimously and quite without a vast accordion door, loosely fitting, warning rise in their places, simultaneas is the manner of such doors. It ously adjust their wraps, and silently faithfully conceals the persons behind depart. It is as if they all suddenly it and their every action, while it as realize that they have had enough of it. faithfully transmits all they may have You know that you have. There is to say. Theirs is an eloquent conceal- something weird in all this soundless ment. From the sounds that well action, this patient motiveless mechanithrough the ample interstices of that cal down-sitting and uprising, something door, we gather that it is psychology far more distracting even than in those that is going on in the adjoining room. disembodied psychological voices that The fascinating affirmations of that murmur in our ears. most intimate science break in upon But much more disturbing than our occasional pauses with startling ef- either of these extraordinary neighbors fect. It is thus beyond doubt that theol- of our reflections is their combination. ogy should always be inculcated to a The sounds that come through the door psychological obbligato, an accompanie do not tally with the sights that come ment of the study of the mind.

through the glass. What you hear Even more unusual is the other side bears no relation to what you see. It of the room. From floor to ceiling it is does not even contradict it. There is a all of plate-glass, not meanly divided war in your members. Your senses do into little squares, but broadly spaced, not agree. so that you are hardly conscious it is And yet you are haunted by the nothere. Through it you may behold, as tion that what you are hearing has in an aquarium, a company of men and something to do with what you are seewomen going through many motions but ing. When someone asks a question behind the door at your left and some- The most disturbing thing is not that one makes a motion beyond the glass things seen and things heard contradict at your right, you instinctively try to re- each other: that we might learn to allate the two. But in vain; there is no re- low for. The great trouble is that they lation. Especially when all the visibles seem to bear no relation to each other get up and leave, it seems as if it must at all. Most political talk is of this debe because of something the audibles scription. It has nothing to do with the have said. Nevertheless, the audibles case. It is like the effort of a young go right on psychologizing, entirely friend of mine who, on being asked to oblivious of the visibles' departure. translate a well-known passage of Epic

Reflection has satisfied me that much tetus, produced the following: confusion of the modern mind is due to 'If teachings are no longer the reathe incongruity of what we hear and sons of all things, and who has false docwhat we see. The conditions of my trines, how much should be the cause, quaint lecture-room are typical. You and as such the destruction.' look about upon a community of earn- That mythical creature, the Amerest hard-working people, soberly doing ican of British fiction, so boldly portheir daily work at business and at trayed by Mr. Chesterton, Mr. Buchan, home. But you pick up the Home Edi- Mr. Oppenheim, and Mr. Doyle, much tion, and read of a very different world as we love and enjoy him, is, it must be of violence and vice. All its men are confessed, little known sa ve by reputascoundrels and its women quite different tion on this side of the sea. He is fiction from those you see, to say the least. in the strictest sense. Like Mr. De You have long been assured that this Quincey's unfortunate reporter, non is the Age of Reason; but observation est inventus. But he is not the less

popufinds little to support the claim. The lar among us for being an imported Age of Impulse would seem as good a article. He is so rich, so ready, so unguess. You hear that the League of Na- spoiled, so clear-eyed, clean-limbed, tions is dead, but on visiting the movies nasal-toned, poker-faced, and best of you are astonished to see it in session all (true to the great traditions of his and to find that it yet speaketh. You country), so quick on the trigger! are told on all hands that everything The trouble is not merely that the about the war was a failure, and yet, as things we hear we never see, but that a whole, it seems to have accomplished the things we see we never hear. For its immediate end. You hear much how extraordinary is the sensation when lamentation over the sensationalism of you hear of something you have seen! the press, but as you read it, it is its Perhaps it is only an accident. Do you conventionality that oftener leaves you not yearn to rise up and cry out, “I saw mourning. The newspapers show you a that! I was there'? It is because, for comfortable view of the steel strike, once, things seen coincide with things but the cook's brother, who was one of heard. the strikers, tells you something en- Brain-proud men of science sourly say tirely different. With a laudable desire that Greek is dead. But to the Grecian to preserve your reason, you do your mind it is refreshing to observe that

, best to cultivate the virtues of blind- familiarity with Greek is now extraorness, deafness, insensibility, and unbe- dinarily widespread in this country. lief. Yet you are sometimes just a lit- This is all the more fascinating at a tle bewildered. Your universe is not time when the practical educators have unified.

triumphantly excluded the study of

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Greek from most institutions of learn- Brick Club, or the Gas and Gavel? ing, as an impractical subject, not suit- But no! These rational considerations ed to the training of a materialistic have no force with our youth. Nothing people.

will satisfy them but more Greek letAs I look about the world in which I ters. I have seen a man use twelve of live, I observe that every high-school them, or just half the alphabet, to set boy or girl knows his Greek letters. He forth his social and learned affiliations. does not have to be compelled to learn Of course, to us Greek professors, them. He wishes to learn them. He shambling aimlessly about the streets would feel humiliated if he did not learn with nothing to do, these brass signs them. He would be looked down upon are like the faces of old friends (no ofby his companions as a person without fense, I hope), and remind us of the social ideals. His college brothers are names of the books of Homer, if nothequally conversant with the eponym ing more. of all alphabets. So are their sisters and But the Greek renaissance has gone their sweethearts. They may not know much further than the alphabet. It the rule of three or the multiplication pervades science. It is positively nontable; they may be without a single plussing to hear one's scientific friends formula of chemistry or a solitary prin- rambling on in the language of Arisciple of physics; but, rely upon it, they totle and Euclid, with their atoms and will know their Greek letters. Their ions, their cryoscopes and cephalalgias, parents will know them, too. They will their sepsis, analysis, and autopsies. learn them at their children's knee, in The fact is, they really talk very little all docility and eagerness, for fear of but Greek, which is one reason why we disgracing themselves and their off- all admire them so. They are greatest spring by not always and everywhere when they are most Greek; and were distinguishing the illustrious Tau Omi- their Greek vocabulary suddenly taken cron Pi's from the despised Nu Upsi- from them, half their books would lon Tau's. The fact is, it is difficult to shrivel into verbs. Three fourths of be even a successful delivery boy in them are indeed teaching Greek as hard our community without knowing one's as they can, though mercifully unconGreek letters.

scious of the fact. I doubt whether the Greek alphabet The Greek, on seeing a queer animal, was ever more widely and favorably waited till it was dead and then counted known than now. In our midst the cele- its toes. He thus soon knew enough to brated Cato could not have survived make a distinction between genus and till eighty without learning it.

species, which zoölogists are still talkI shudder to think what anguish this ing about. Whence it comes about that

I must cause the practical educators our little Greek friends, the lion, the aforesaid, as they walk abroad and see elephant, the rhinoceros, and the hipevery house boldly and even brazenly popotamus, are household favorites labeled with the hated letters. Even still. Consistent people who object to their own favorite students, who show Greek will expunge these words from promise in the use of test-tubes and their vocabulary. microscopes, insist upon labeling them- The Greek conquest of our social selves with more of the Greek alphabet. youth and of our grizzled age is nothWhy will they not be content to call ing, however, to its triumphs in comtheir honor societies by some practical merce. Here both letters and vocabuAnglo-Saxon name, like the Bread and lary come into their own. It must be

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admitted that we English-speaking gulf between the words we see and the people are poor word-makers. Only in words we say is too great. Feeble efmoments of rare inspiration do we forts in this direction are sometimes achieve a Nabisco or a Mazola. But in made by ambitious writers, but the this age of new creations one of Adam's truth is that, from the standpoint of chief needs is names for the bewildering the printed page, we all speak in dialect. things he sees about him. How indis- The fact is, almost everything we pensable to us inarticulate moderns is hear is more or less conventionalized in the voluble Greek! Like one who hides type or in telling. People exchange fraga thimble for you to find, he has named ments of news, or funny stories of a everything in advance, and all we have few familiar types. Newspaper items to do is to discover it. From Alpha can easily be grouped under five or six Beer to Omega Oil, from Antikamnia to thoroughly conventional heads. An ob Sozodont, the Greek has taught us servant friend once remarked that the names. Even automobile is half Greek, women of literature were mere pallid which is really what makes it desirable. contrivances compared to the actual Who would want an ipsomobile? And ones we know, and I was really startled Solon and moron, those twin pillars of to perceive that he was right. Even the journalistic vocabulary, without in books no one will go to the pains of which no newspaper could exist a week, relating things as unconventionally as are pure Grecian. When I attend the they really happen. We are accusfuneral of Greek, therefore, as I am tomed to stereotypes, and we expect and constantly invited to do, I am com- desire them. In reality, of course, things forted to observe old Greek himself and happen much more intricately than his whole family, thinly disguised, head- anyone will bother to report them, or ing the chief mourners.

to hear them reported. This is prob

ably what is meant when we say that II

truth is stranger than fiction. It is

vastly more complex. Nowhere is the contrast between Take a simple example. As you plod things seen and things heard more strik- homeward of an autumn morning, ing than in language. Very conscien- fatigued by the labors of the profestious people have observed this and, sorial day, you are met by a colleague of fearful of seeming something other than high degree, who declares that he has they are, have evolved phonetic spell- been looking for you. Will you go and ing. Witty people like Max Beerbohm meet the Cardinal? Like the Sage of and Josh Billings have observed it too, Concord, you like a church, you like a and made such use of it as 'Yures til cowl, and you are careful not to say deth,' and ““The laibrer iz werthi ov hiz No, as you conceal your gratification hire," an that iz aul.' Children are pro- and fence for more definite information. ficient here. One I know recently ad- You fortify yourself by the reflection dressed a letter to his ‘Dere ant LN that you have encountered cardinals 'Nit mittenz ar the kynd,' as they spell and dukes before this, and struggle to at Lake Placid. An intelligent-looking remember which is His Eminence and man steps in front of you at the club, which His Grace. It seems that the and murmurs a deferential ‘Skewmy,' Archbishop is to bring the Cardinal out to which you suavely reply, ‘Dough- from the other end of town, and at onemeshnit.' No one has ever been able to fifteen they will hesitate at a certain reproduce conversation in print. The down-town corner long enough to pick you up. All you have to do is to carry had once taken for his reappears, from your cap and gown, to mark you off the same direction as before and still from the passing throng. And you would empty. You are not mistaken. You better give the motor-cycle man who recognize the chauffeur. You almost will lead the way a memorandum of the think he recognizes you. It strikes you route he is to follow.

that these cars that you have been seeYou do not decline. You move on ing are not all different ones, but are homeward, thinking quite without ef- simply circling about before you,

like fort of some flattering things you will Cæsar's army on the stage. say to the Archbishop and some ob- It is two o'clock. You despair. The servations you will address to the Cardi- party has eluded you. It has probably nal. In particular, you decide to ask already arrived at the University, havhim if, when the German Cardinal ing gone out some other way. After all, condescendingly remarked, 'We will why should you have escorted the Carnot speak of war,' he really did answer, dinal out? He is escorted everywhere 'We will not speak of peace.' Your sim- by two archbishops, five motor-cops, ple preparations are soon made, and five plain-clothes men, and a civilian you make your way down-town in some guard of honor. This should suffice. preoccupation.

He is indeed a stranger in the city, but Promptness has been said to be the he can hardly go astray. You begin to courtesy of princes and you do not wish feel sadly superfluous, yet, following a to disappoint a Prince of the Church. Casabiancan instinct, you stay on. A At one-five you take your stand at the friend who has observed your situation curb beside the streaming boulevard. goes into the club and telephones. He Traffic is at its highest. You are less in- returns to inform you that, owing to conspicuous than you could wish, for the Cardinal's fatigue, the programme no one else is carrying an academic cap has been postponed one hour. It is twoin his hand and a doctor's gown upon ten. You observe that it is just time his arm. But to conceal these accoutre- for him now to be appearing. The ments may defeat the purpose

of your stately and mysterious limousine, alvigil. It is precisely by a wave of that ready twice seen, now passes for the Oxford cap that you are to bring the third time. It is still vacant. whole proud sacerdotal cortège, motor- The mystery of it fascinates you. Is cycles and all, to a stop. You scan each it inextricably caught in the circling south-bound car with eagerness. It be- current, like some flying Dutchman on comes one-fifteen. The Archbishop is wheels, powerless to make a port? It the soul of promptitude. He should be occurs to you that, if the cars before almost here. You perceive approaching you are in some instances merely runa particularly stately limousine, which ning around in circles, the foot-pasconforms to your preconceived ideas of sengers behind you may be doing the the archiepiscopal in automobiles. It same thing. Two-twenty-five, and proves to be empty. You have now again that silent, vacant, funereal limouscanned hundreds of passing cars. It is sine sweeps by, for the fourth time. It one-twenty one-twenty-five

is getting on your nerves. Is it possible thirty. Great Heavens! Have you that public-spirited owners send their missed the Cardinal's car, Archbishop limousines on idle afternoons to circle and all? Even in your dawning dismay showily about the Avenue, hour after habits of scientific observation reassert hour, to swell the concourse and thus themselves. The stately limousine you contribute their mite, as it were, to the

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