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A CRITICAL STUDY OF THE WRITINGS OF MARY HUNTER AUSTIN, (1868-1934)

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A c r itic a l
s tu d y )f th e w r it in g s o f
M ary h u n t e r A u s t i n ( 1 8 6 8 - 1 9 3 4 ) . . .
Now" Y o r k , 1 9 3 9 .
2 r j . L . , 4 1 2 ty p e w r itte n le a v e s .
29cn.
I’i . e s i s (Fh.D*. ) - New Y o r k u n i v e r s i t y ,
G r a d u a te s c h o o l , 1 9 4 0 .
B ib lio g r a p h y : p . c3 9 1 3 - 4 1 2 .
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Xerox University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106
THIS DISSERTATION HAS BEEN M IC R O FILM ED EXA CTLY AS RECEIVED.
A CRITICAL STUDY OF THE YffilTINGS OF
2iARY HUNTER AUSTIN
(1368-1934)
By
D udley T aylor Wynn
Subm itted in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l m e n t o f th e
req u irem en ts f o r th e d egree o f d o c to r o f
p h ilo so p h y a t Hew York U n iv e r s it y .
December, 1939
The au th or w ish es t o e x p r e ss deep a p p r e c ia tio n t o th e fo llo w in g :
H iss Wilma S h e lto n , L ib ra ria n o f th e U n iv e r s it y o f Lew M exico, f o r un­
s t i n t i n g a i d 5 th e lib r a r ia n s o f th e U n iv e r s it y o f C a lif o r n ia , th e Uni­
v e r s i t y o f T exas, and th e L ibrary o f C on gress, a l l o f whom, unknowingly
p erhaps, by way o f i n t e r l ib r a r y lo a n s , have been e x c e e d in g ly h e lp fu l;
Dr. H. P. H era, Ur. Kenneth Chapman, and Mr. F r a n c is W ilson, ex e cu to r s
o f th e e s t a t e o f Mary A u s t in , fo r p e r m issio n t o examine th e c o n te n ts o f
Mrs. A u s tin ’ s lib r a r y ; Ur s . E liz a b e th W illis D eH uff, H iss D orothy
Thomas, U r s. Ruth L aughlin A lex a n d er, and M rs. Ina S iz e r C a s s id y , a l l
o f Santa F e, New M exico, and H iss Erna Fergus s o n , o f A lbuquerque, Lew
M exico, for v a lu a b le p e r so n a l in fo r m a tio n ; Mr. L ou is Adamic and Mr.
Arthur D avison F io k e , f o r p e r m issio n t o copy l e t t e r s o f Mary A u stin ;
Mr. Carey M cW illiam s, o f Los A n g e le s , C a lif o r n ia , fo r p e r m issio n t o
copy th e l e t t e r s w hich Mary A u stin w rote t o him, f o r th e loan o f h is
p e r so n a l f i l e s , and f o r much v a lu a b le in fo r m a tio n ; M iss N e l l i e B arnes,
o f th e U n iv e r s it y o f K ansas, who has been generous \vith a id and tim e ;
P r o fe s s o r T. 11. P ea rce, o f th e U n iv e r s it y o f Lew M exico, whose knowledge
o f th e l i t e r a t u r e o f Lew M exico and t h e Southw est has been an e v e r ­
p resen t h e lp ; D r. W illiam Charvat and Dr. K elson A d k in s, o f Lew York
U n iv e r s it y , f o r many v a lu a b le s p e c i f i c s u g g e s tio n s and c r i t i c i s m s .
E s p e c ia l g r a titu d e i s due P r o fe s s o r H. A. W att, o f Lew York
U n iv e r s it y , whose k in d n e sse s fo r some y e a r s have made i t p o s s ib le fo r
th e w r ite r t o c o n tin u e h i s s t u d ie s . P r o fe s s o r Oscar C a r g i l l , who has
d ir e c te d t h i s stu d y , d e se r v e s a l l p o s s ib le thanks fo r h is p a tie n c e and
h is h e lp f u l s u g g e s tio n s .
D udley T. Wynn
December, 1939
)G%%Arl
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I n tr o d u c tio n ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -— 1
I.
The L ife o f Mary Hunter A u stin ------------------
5
I I . A p p r e n tic e sh ip ----------------------------------------------------------------- 24
I I I . The M arriage Problem ----------------------------------------------------- 45
IV. 'Women'3 R ig h ts and D u tie s ---------------------------------------------- 99
V.
V I.
1.
The A tta c k on "Free Love”------------------------------------- 102
2.
'Women a s C it iz e n s -------------------------------------------------- 123
3.
"Women a s P rop h ets--------------------------------------------------- 134
An American P r o p h e te ss-------------------------------------------------- 144
1.
S o c i a l P r o p h e te s s -------------------------------------------------- 145
2.
The Theory o f R egion alism ------------------------------------- 163
3.
The Theory o f F olk C u ltu re----------------------------------- 181
The American Rhythm----------------------------------------------------- 205
1.
Theory---------------------------------------------------------------------- 206
2.
P r a c t ic e ------------------------------------------------------------------ 235
V I I . Theory and P r a c tic e o f th e S h ort S to r y ---------------------- 252
V I I I . M y sticism --------------------------------------------------------------------- 271
IX .
Nature W ritin g -------------------------------------------------------------- 316
Summary and C o n clu sio n --------------------------------------------------------- 350
Appendix I .
I n t e r e s t in M exico----------------------------------------- 364
Appendix I I .
The Owens V a lle y 'Water F ig h t - ----------------------- 369
Appendix I I I . Iambs, P r o s e , andFree V erse------------------------ 374
Appendix IV . Mary A u stin and A r i s t o t l e on "Mimesis"
Appendix V.
380
" R e -e x p r e ssio n ” v e r su s T r a n s la tio n -------------- 383
B ib lio g r a p h y -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 391
INTRODUCTION
Some y ea rs b e fo r e Mary A u stin d ie d , on August 14, 1S34, a t th e
age o f s i x t y - s i x , she was a c c e p te d , in some q u a r te r s a t l e a s t , a t her
own e v a lu a t io n .
She th ou gh t h e r s e l f a d is c o v e r e r o f c e r t a in in d igen ou s
in flu e n c e s which were t o lea d t o an American a c c u lt u r a t io n .
In 1923
C arl Van Doren had h a ile d h er as d is c o v e r e r and p ro p h et, as th e American
who b e s t fo r e sa w th e p o s s i b i l i t y o f a s a t i s f a c t o r y a d a p ta tio n o f c u ltu r e
t o environm ent on t h i s c o n t in e n t . "*■
She was known a l s o a s a woman o f g r e a t and b o ld i n t e l l i g e n c e and
o r ig in a lit y .
H. G. ’.Yells had asked in 1915 what o th e r woman in England
or America cou ld compare w ith h e r .
p
George Bernard Shaw and th e Fabians
had lik e d her p r a g m a tic a l, d ir e c t approach t o problem s.®
In th e p e r io d o f
th e World War she had been n o ted a s a s u f f r a g i s t and l i b e r a l .
The emer­
gence o f r e g io n a lis m in th e n in e te e n - tw e n tie s made h er s t i l l more promi­
n e n t.
Lewis Uumford in 1926 had a sk ed :
” . . .
what i s th e m eaning o f
. . . Mary A u s tin ? " 4 im p lyin g a s answer t o h i s own q u e s tio n th a t th e mean­
in g o f Mary A u stin was perhaps in l i n e w ith th e meaning o f M uir, O lm sted,
"*■ C a r l Van Doren, "The American Rhythm," C en tu ry, CVII (1 9 2 3 ),
150-1 5 6 .
^ R egin ald B l i s s ^pseudonym o f H. G. Yfellsj , Boon, The Mind o f
th e R ace, e t c . (New York, 1 9 1 5 ), p . 146.
® Mary A u s t in , "My Fabian Summer," Bookman, LIV (1 9 2 1 ), pp. 351-3 5 6 .
4
Lewis Uumford, The Golden Day (Hew York, 1 9 2 6 ), p . 273.
2
R o e b lin r ,
S u lliv a n , Ryder, and o th e r p io n e e r s in America -who, p o s s e s s e d
o f profound s o c i a l c o n s c io u s n e s s , had search ed in v a r io u s ways f o r an
in d ig en o u s c u lt u r a l e x p r e s s io n .
To a c a s u a l rea d er o f some o f Mary
A u s t in ’ s works and of more or l e s s j o u r n a l i s t i c e s tim a te s o f h e r , i t
appeared th a t a stu d y o f her e n t ir e work m ight y i e l d v a lu a b le r e s u l t s
t o whoever was in t e r e s t e d in contem porary American th o u g h t.
V ery l i t t l e has been w r itt e n upon Mary A n s t in 's work a s a w h o le.
C arl Van Doren has more t o sa y o f her prom ise and p o t e n t i a l i t i e s th an o f
her a ch iev em en t.
her f i c t i o n ;
6
5
A. H. Quinn shows c r i t i c a l b alance in h is e s tim a te o f
but in h is n e c e s s a r i l y b r i e f comments, Quinn cannot t r a c e
out h er them es or in te r p r e t her m eanings.
Mrs. A u s tin 's best-know n p la y ,
The Arrow Maker, i s t r e a t e d in Q uinn’ s h i s t o r y o f r e c e n t drama^ and in
g
A lb e r t R e is e r 's stu d y o f th e In d ian in American l it e r a t u r e ;
Quinn and
R e is e r b o th f a i l t o se e th e f u l l
im p lic a tio n s o f th e t h e s i s o f t h e p la y .
F. L. P a tte e says o n ly th a t f i v e
o f Mrs. A u s t in 's b o o k s, w hich he nam es,
"and tw en ty o th ers" are " v iv id , v i t a l , permanent."®
H. C. T ra cy 's ap p re-
c ia t o r y comments upon Mrs. A u s t in 's n atu re w r it in g r e v e a l n e it h e r a c r i t -
® C arl Van Doren, Contemporary American n o v e l i s t s , 1900-1920 (New
York, 1 9 2 2 ), pp. 140-1 4 3 .
® A. E. Quinn, American F i c t i o n , An H is t o r i c a l and C r i t i c a l Survey
(llew York and London, 1 9 3 6 ), pp. 6 9 8 -7 0 0 .
t o th e
? A. H. Quinn, A H isto r y o f th e Am erican Drama from th e C i v i l 'War
P r e se n t Day (NewYork and London, 1 9 2 7 ), I I , 2 3 -2 4 .
® A lb e r t R e is e r , The In d ia n in American L ite r a tu r e (New York, 1 9 3 3 ),
pp. 9 7 -9 9 .
9
F. L. P a t t e e , The New American L it e r a t u r e , 1890-1930 (New York and
London, 1 9 3 0 ), p . 266.
3
i c a l nor a h i s t o r i c a l approach.^®
T h is study i s an e f f o r t t o su rvey and in te r p r e t ilary A u s tin ’ s
-whole work, in the hope t h a t h er sep arate w r itin g s w i l l be more ’u nderstand­
a b le in th e l i g h t o f her e n t ir e p r o d u c tio n .
i s o f two s o r t s ,
The in te r p r e t a t io n h ere given
^ 'ir s t, th e r e i s an attem p t t o f in d lir s . A u s t in ’ s th em es,
t o p lo t t h e i r developm ent, and t o s t a t e t h e ir m eaning.
Because of her f r e ­
quent o b s c u r ity o f s t y l e , a theme which may be im p l i c i t in a g iv e n book i s
sometim es h ard ly d is c o v e r a b le -without knowledge o f much o f her o th e r work.
Second, fir s . A u s tin 's a f f i l i a t i o n s w ith i n t e l l e c t u a l and l i t e r a r y c u rren ts
o f th e years through w hich she liv e d are s t a t e d .
E xh au stive e x p lo r a t io n ,
ho’wever, o f th e so u rces and p a r a l l e l s o f a l l her id e a s i s p a t e n tly im p o s s ib le ,
because o f th e volume o f h er w r it in g s .
L i t t l e r e se a r c h in th e l i f e o f liary A u stin has been n e c e s s a r y , s in c e
w ith in two years o f her d eath I ir s . A u stin w rote her own b io g r a p h y .^
The
w r ite r has checked many, but o f course n o t a l l , o f Hr s . A u s tin 's sta tem en ts
about h e r s e l f 5 on th e w h ole, Earth H orizon appears t o be a f a i r l y a c c u r a te
accou n t o f her l i f e and i s e s p e c i a l l y good, as would be e x p e c te d , in i t s
re co r d in g o f s u b j e c t iv e e x p e r ie n c e .
Homan o f 'J-enius,
12
Dr. Helen liaoK hight D o y le ’ s Hary A u s tin ,
a biography w hich appeared when t h i s stu d y was near com­
p l e t i o n , has been v a lu a b le in a few in s t a n c e s , but n o t g r e a t ly h e l p f u l , s in c e
i t adds l i t t l e t o th e m a te r ia l in Barth H orizon.
10
V
H. o . Tracy, American w a tu r is ts (Hew York, 1 9 3 0 ), pp. 2 4 4 -2 6 3 .
Hary A u stin , Earth H orizon, A utobiography (B oston and Hew York, 1 9 3 2 ).
12
H elen kacKnight D o y le , I.Iary A u s tin , Woman o f (lenius (Hew York, 1 9 3 9 ).
4
Chapter d i v is i o n s in t h i s stu d y f o llo w a p la n d ecid ed upon o n ly
a f t e r much r e -a r r a n g in g o f m a t e r ia l.
ila r y A u s t in 's l i f e i s sk e tch ed
b r i e f l y in th e f i r s t c h a p te r , b u t much b io g r a p h ic a l m a te r ia l o f s u b j e c t iv e
n atu re i s r e se r v e d f o r t h o s e s e c t io n s where i t i s r e le v a n t t o d is c u s s io n
o f th e w r it in g s .
The arrangem ent by theme and s u b je c t m atter d e s tr o y s
ch ro n o lo g y but r e q u ir e s l e s s r e p e t i t i o n .
CHAPTER I
THE LIFE OF MARY AUSTIN
Mary Hunter -was born in C a r lin v ill e , I l l i n o i s , on September 9,
1868.
In t h a t y e a r , th e re o e n tly completed tra n s c o n tin e n ta l ra ilw a y
c a r r ie d from San F ran c isco back E ast th e e a r l i e s t numbers o f The Over­
land Monthly, soon t o be known a s th e " A tla n tic " of th e West.
The seo -
ond number co n tain ed a s to r y by i t s new e d it o r , F ran cis B ret H a rte ,
which brought W estern l i t e r a t u r e in to th e fo ld o f r e s p e c ta b ili ty and
gave im petus to " lo o a l c o lo r" w ritin g .
John Muir a r r iv e d in C a lifo rn ia
in 1868, by way o f W isconsin, In d ia n a , F lo r id a , and Panama, and began
h is h e rm it- lik e e x iste n c e in Yosemite which le d t o h is w ritin g o f th e
W est.
I n 1868, Mary Baker was an unknown i t i n e r a n t in New England;
only two y ears p re v io u sly she had had h e r experience o f f a ith - h e a lin g
a f t e r soma in s tr u c tio n from D r. P . P . Quimby.
The le g is la tu r e o f th e
T e r r ito r y o f Wyoming w rote woman’s s u ffra g e in to th e p ro v is io n a l c o n s ti­
t u t i o n o f th e T e r r ito r y in 1868.
Only fo u r y ears e a r l i e r Frances E.
W illa rd had re sig n ed h e r academic p o s itio n in th e M ethodist sem inary in
E vanston, I l l i n o i s ; and by 1868, she was o rg a n iz in g temperance s o c ie tie s
and le c tu r in g th ro ughout th e M iddlew est.
was b orn in 1868.
Robert H e rric k , th e n o v e l i s t ,
Robert I n g e r s o ll f a ile d t o re o e iv e th e R epublican
nom ination f o r th e governorship o f I l l i n o i s , because he was an a t h e i s t
and an i n f i d e l .
Robert Dale Owen, son o f th e famous S o o ttis h s o c ia l
p h ilo so p h e r, le c tu re d in Chicago on s o c ia lis m and a g a in s t r e lig io n .
6
In New York was founded th e S o ro sis C lub, th e "mother or th e model" of
women's clubs "organised fo r th e p u rs u it of l i t e r a r y , m usical and o th er
c u l t u r a l i n t e r e s t s ." *
Mary Hunter A u s tin 's f i r s t p u b lish ed s to ry appeared i n The Over­
land M onthly.
She follow ed in John M uir’s fo o ts te p s a s lo v in g i n t e r ­
p r e te r of th e landscapes o f th e West.
From Mary Baker Eddy she to o k
much and in c o rp o ra te d i t in to a kind o f American In d ia n r e lig io n ; and
from Franoes E. W illard she d eriv e d th e undying spark o f h e r a rd e n t fem­
inism .
Like H e rrio k , she w rote much upon th e m arriage theme.
She heard
h e r own f a th e r speak w ith commendation o f " b o b in g e rs o ll," t o th e d is g u s t
of h e r pious m other.
And she beoame a t one tim e in h e r l i f e th e s e l f -
appointed s p i r i t u a l a d v iso r t o th e women's olubs of America.
In th e y ears
of h e r growth to m a tu rity in a sm all so u th ern I l l i n o i s town, th e i n f l u ­
ence of Owen and some of th e o th e r "cranks" or " ra d ic a ls " who were so
numerous and v o lu b le in th e n in e te e n th c e n tu ry , must c e r t a in l y have
reached h e r .
For she was i n t e l l e c t u a l l y c u rio u s , a r e b e l, and a m i s f i t .
"The e ig h t y ears i n America from 1860 t o 1868 uprooted i n s t i t u t i o n s
which were c e n tu rie s o ld , changed th e p o l i t i c s o f th e p e o p le, transform ed
th e s o c ia l l i f e of h a l f th e c o u n try , end wrought so p rofoundly upon th e
n a tio n a l c h a ra c te r t h a t th e in flu e n c e oannot be.m easured s h o rt of two or
o
th r e e g e n e ra tio n s ," th e a u th o rs o f -The G ilded Age w ro te .
Clemens end
Warner r e f e r r e d , o f c o u rse, t o th e b eg in n in g o f th e g ild e d a g e .
The lu s ty
* W. E. G arriso n , The March o f F a ith i The S to ry of R e lig io n in
America sin ce 1865 (New York and London, 1933), p«70.
^ Mark Twain end C h arles Dudley W arner, The G ilded Age, A T ale of
To-day (New York and London, 1915), I , 176.
7
f r o n t i e r l i f e was past*
The e ra o f fe rv e n t e v a n g e lic a lism , j i n g o i s tic
p a tr io tis m , and devotion t o economic expansion had s e t i n .
Had Mary
Hunter rem ained in C a r lin v ille , I l l i n o i s , in s te a d o f going -with h er
fa m ily t o C a lifo rn ia in 1888, she pro b ab ly would n o t have o a rrie d
through th e rem ainder of her l i f e so much o f Emersonian f a i t h in th e
imminence of an American c u ltu r a l flo w e rin g . For th e tra n s c e n d e n ta l
5
optimism was a lre a d y dying in 1868, and by 1888 th e b i t t e r r e a l i t i e s
o f c a p it a l- la b o r s t r i f e , o f economic p a n ic s , and o f P o p u list and a g ra ­
r ia n r e v o lt made a l l optimism, excep t t h a t u p h eld by o u l t s , seem a k in d
of fo lly .
The day o f B e lla n y 's Looking Backward (1887) and th e " so o ia l
r e v o lt" had come.
C a lifo rn ia and th e West must have given Mary Hunter
A u stin h e r hopes, fo r th e re a re few h in ts in h er au tobiography, E arth
H orizon, of an ything b u t d is g u s t w ith th e k in d o f l i f e t h a t was liv e d
in I l l i n o i s from 1868 t o 1888.
Mary H unter was th e fo u rth o f s ix c h ild re n born t o C ap tain George
4
H unter and Susanna Graham H unter.
George H unter oame t o America;from
Y orkshire in 1851, was adm itted t o th e b a r in 1858, end e s ta b lis h e d a
law o ff ic e in C a r lin v ille , I l l i n o i s , ab o u t 1859.
By 1861, he had clo sed
h is o f f ic e , m arried Susanna Graham, and e n lis te d i n th e Seventh I l l i n o i s
Regiment, Company E, o f which he was c a p ta in .
A fte r th e War, he resumed
3 T rue, in 1867, Emerson w rote from Fond du Lao th a t M inneapolis
was "a w onderful growth and shines lik e a dream ." — Quoted in E. Marohand,
"Emerson and th e F r o n tie r ," American L i te r a t u r e , I I I (1931), 149-174.
A ll h is l i f e Emerson had wavered between f a i t h in th e busy, " s e l f r e l i a n t " West and B rahm inistio d i s t r u s t o f i t s ra p id expansion, love of
mere numbers, and cru d en ess. "Terminus" (1866) had a lre a d y announced t h a t
Emerson co n sid ered h im se lf s p e n t.
* Mary A u stin , E arth H orizon (Boston and New York, 1932). The f a c ts
o f Mary H unter A u stin ’s l i f e tr e a te d i n t h i s c h a p te r a re ta k en d ir e o tly or
deduoed from h e r autobiography, ex cep t a s otherw ise in d io a te d . E a rth H ori­
zon i s a r ic h s u b je c tiv e dooument, a poor f a o tu a l aooount. Chronology i s
o fte n b ad ly muddled.
i
le g a l p ra o tio e in C a r lin v ille , h is work fr e q u e n tly in te rru p te d by re c u r­
r e n t i l l n e s s e s , th e r e s u l t o f exposure and m a la ria l a tta o k s s u ffe re d in
th e y e a rs w ith th e Union army in th e South*
He d ied in 1878, when h is
dau g h ter Mary, second o ld e s t o f h is fo u r liv in g o h ild re n , was te n y ears
o ld .
Susanna Graham was desoended from th e Duggers, who were o r ig i n a lly
F rench, D aguerres, and who had a rriv e d i n I l l i n o i s in th e e a r ly ’t h i r t i e s
by way o f V irg in ia and T ennessee.
One o f th e e a r ly American Duggers (or
D aguerres) had fought a d u e l in V irg in ia and h is w ife had been a frie n d
o f th e w ife o f P re s id e n t James K. P o lk .
Among th e women o f th e s t r a i n
th e r e had been a vigorous s p i r i t o f p io n e e rin g and independence*
P o lly
McAdams, m atern al great-grandm oth er, w ife o f a Dugger, was t o th e a u to ­
b io g ra p h e r, Mary Hunter A u stin , th e v e ry p ro to ty p e o f p io n eer woman, a
p r a c t i c a l fe m in is t and hardy r e a l i s t .
And y e t, by th e tim e o f Mary Hunter*
b i r t h in 1868, a l l th e Duggers, Grahams, M ilo s, and H unters had become
q u ite commonplace M iddlew estem American c i t i z e n s .
11 . . .
so muoh was
o f th e s o i l , o f th e s o lid ly middle o la s s , M iddlew est, t h a t c o n sid e rin g
th e odd, th e unoonformable g estu re she has made, except f o r P o lly , you
m ight suppose t h a t Mary was hatched from a cuckoo’s egg."®
The "odd and
unoonformable" g e stu re came la rg e ly from th e f a t h e r , who s e c r e tly used
bad w ords, re a d I n g e r s o ll and Henry George, and made s a t i r i o a l and o r i t i o a l remarks upon h is w ife Susanna's Methodism and p ie ty , — behind
S usanna's back b u t in th e h e arin g o f th e d au g h ter Mary.
C
A u stin , E arth H orizon, p . 14.
Mary Hunter s ta r te d t o sohool a t th e age o f f iv e and o n e -h a lf y e a rs .
In Gohool, os elsew here, she liv e d m ainly w ith in h e r s e l f .
o f Burns t o h e r.
Her f a th e r read a l l
Che discovered a condensed v e rs io n o f Ivanhoe in a magazine,
and by borrowing from n eig h b o rs, l a t e r g allo p ed through n e a r ly a l l o f S c o tt.
"Hiawatha" she r^m orized.
The plays of Ben Jonson were on th e sh elv es a t
home, h u t she does n o t reoord w hether or n o t she e v e r read them, alth o u g h
she in tended t o .
Her mother read only Godey’ s Lady’s Book an d , l a t e r , Frances
H illa r d ’ s pam phlets.
Her fa th e r and h is f r ie n d s and male r e la tiv e s ta lk e d a
g re a t d e a l about " b o b in g e rs o ll," whether th e y read him o r n o t.
Mary knew
W h ittie r, B ryant, Longfellow, and Holmes r a th e r th o ro u g h ly , so th a t when as
a young lady she v is ite d M assachusetts she f e l t sho m s p e r f e o tly a t home
th e re .
A fte r h e r f a t h e r 's d e ath she d isco v ered Hugh M ille r 's Old Red Sand­
s to n e , "Marmion," L a lla Rookh, "Paradise L o s t," and Uncle Tom's C abin.
As
sho drew c lo s e r to hor mother a f t e r George H u n te r's d eath in 1878, she a t ­
tended w ith h er mother numerous le c tu re s by Frances W illa rd , and read a v id ly
in fe m in is t and p ro h ib itio n l i t e r a t u r e .
and d is lik e d i t th o ro u g h ly .
She a tte n d e d a s t a t e normal school
In 1885 she s u ffe re d a nervous breakdown, from
which she reouperatod an th e farm o f r e l a tiv e s in M isso u ri.
ed Blackburn C ollege in C a r lin v ille .
Then she a tte n d ­
There a p ro fe s so r o f b o tan y , C harles
R oberts on, ta u g h t h e r about th e re la tio n s h ip between p la n ts and in s e o ts , an
i n t e r e s t which le d h er l a t e r , she f e l t , t o h e r a b so rp tio n in th e in flu e n c e
o f p h y sio a l environm ent upon p a tte rn s o f human c u ltu re •
George E lio t and Emerson.
On th e s id e , she re a d
She had jo in e d th e M ethodist Church, w ith o u t any
o a n v io tia n o f h e r s a n c tif ic a tio n j and by th e tim e o f h e r g rad u atio n in June,
10
1888, she had re fu s e d an o f f e r o f m arriage from a P re s b y te ria n d iv in it y
stu d e n t and had learn ed enough t o complain t h a t h e r form al e d u ca tio n had
been v e ry inadequate*
E a rth H orizon p o rtra y s C a r l i n v i l l e , I l l i n o i s , from 1868 t o 1888 as
th e loous o f a s t i f l i n g , u n im ag in ativ e, re p re s s iv e may o f l i f e ; and i t i s
e n t i r e l y p o s s ib le t h a t Mary H unter A u stin , m ritin g in 19S2, mas re a d in g
back in to h e r g irlh o o d some a t t i t u d e s t h a t she had acq u ired many y ears
la te r.
Her comments upon h e r m o th e r's new house in C a r l i n v i l l e , i t s
b le ak fo u r-sq u a re n e ss , i t s flo o r s a r t i f i c i a l l y "g rain ed " by a p a in te r
u s in g a comb, th e h o rrid ta s te le s s n e s s of the p ic tu r e s an th e m a lls ,
sound v e ry much lik e something w r itte n a f t e r th e f a c t , a f t e r a p e ru s a l
o f M i l a C a th e r's "The S o u lp to r's F u n eral" (1905) o r th e e a r l i e r works of
Tan Wyck Brooks*
And y e t M rs. M argaret Deland could w rite ( in 1904) as
follow s o f th e decadence o f t a s t e ;
P urple j a r s (o f in s in c e r e s t d y e sl) abound; me a re swamped w ith
them. With im ita tio n plum s, w ith r o l l i n g p in s covered w ith p lu sh
and studded w ith b ra ss hooks, w ith p a in te d snom»>shovels. We have
" p ic tu re th ro w s ," to o — m o n s tro s itie s so f a r removed from th e
o rd in a ry w alks o f l i f e t h a t th e y should perhaps be d escrib ed in
d e t a i l ; eggs, blown, th e n g ild e d , and, sep arated by a b lu e or red
g la ss bead, s tru n g upon a cord o f c h e n ille ; when tw enty o r tw en ty fiv e eggs have been tr e a te d in t h i s way, th e whole a p p a llin g c o l­
le c tio n i s "thrown" o re r th e upper c o rn er o f a p ic tu r e , and hangs
g
th e r e t o c o lle c t d u st and debauch th e a e s th e tio sense o f th e fa m ily .
I f M rs. Deland disoovered f o r h e r s e lf t h i s evidence o f debauohed t a s t e ,
perhaps Mary A u stin may be allow ed t o have d isco v ered fo r h e r s e lf t h a t
th e t a s t e o f C a r l i n v i l l e , I l l i n o i s , was c o rru p t to o .
Sinoe Lewis Mumford w rote The Brown Deoades (1931), r e f u tin g h is
own S tic k s and Stones (1924), i t i s q u ite lo g ic a l t o h o ld t h a t from 1865
g
M argaret Deland, The Common Why (New York and London, 1904),
pp. 97-98.
11
t o 1895 a genuine, n a tiv e American o u ltu re was s tru g g lin g upwards.
The
names o f R oebling, Marsh, Bellamy, E ak in s, Ryder, Homer, M uir, Olmsted,
S u lliv a n , and R iohardson, o f c o u rse , prove Mumford*s p o in t, t h a t th e brown
deoades were n o t so a r t i s t i c a l l y and c u l t u r a l l y b le a k , a f t e r a l l .
And y e t,
Mumford combs a l l America, e s p e c ia lly th e o e n te rs o f p o p u la tio n and o u l­
t u r e , f o r examples o f men who had a profound g rasp o f th e problems o f
American c u ltu r e .
In C a r lin v ille , I l l i n o i s , c u ltu re and t a s t e from 1868
t o 1888 were probably v e ry much as d eso rib ed by Mary A u stin .
Mary Hunter
could 8t i l l observe — and did ob serv e, in E a rth H orizon — th e danoingand sin g in g -m a sters who, Emerson s a id , went w est w ith th e p io n e e rs, and
who, alth o u g h b e tte r th a n n o th in g , were s t i l l n o t much.
Mary Hunter was
undoubtedly im pressed — though perhaps n o t so s tro n g ly a s , in 1932, she
sa id she was — by th e " m u lie b rity " idiioh. Mark Twain found in B oston,
which e x is te d even in i d y l l i c S t . P etersb u rg and Dawson's Landing, and
7
which Bernard De Veto has so w e ll d e sc rib e d .
Indeed, a good p a r t of
E a rth Horizon i s ta k e n up w ith Mary A u s tin 's com plaint a g a in s t t h i s v e ry
same "preoiousness of women." I f th e S o o ttis h o b serv er of 1867 idiom
0
Mumford m entions can be allow ed t o have n o tio e d t h a t ev ery seoond or
t h i r d American woman's face suggested "d e lic a o y and d y sp e p sia ," s u re ly
Mary H unter A u s tin 's f ir s t- h a n d o b serv atio n s upon h e r mother and o th e r
women o f C a r lin v ille , I l l i n o i s , may be allow ed t o have some a u th e n t ic it y .
Mary H u n te r's m other, a s p o rtray e d by Mary, had a p e r f e c t case o f t h a t
"nervous p ro s tra tio n " idiioh a D r. George M. Beard n o tic e d as an ominous
IT
Bernard De V oto, Mark T w ain's Amerioa (B oston, 1932).
Q
Lewis Mumford, The Brown Decades:
(New York, 1931), p .1 9 9 .
A Study of th e A rts in America
*”
12
sig n in 1880,
9
and -which Mark Twain n o tic e d in Mrs. T. B. A ld ric h .
Mary H unter grew u p , n o t i n a ro a rin g , s p e c ta c u la r, y ea-say in g f r o n t i e r
community, b u t in I l l i n o i s , 1868-1888, where Frances W illard c ru sad e d ,
th e lu s ty pioneer l i f e having given way t o th e e v a n g e lic a l and reform ing
p a ss io n .
Mary A u s tin , in E a rth H orizon, was undoubtedly t o some e x te n t
re a d in g S te a m s ' symposium, C iv il is a t io n in th e U nited S ta te s , Waldo
Frank’ s Our America, and th e e a r ly works o f Van Wyck Brooks back in to
th e in te r p r e ta tio n o f h e r g irlh o o d days; b u t enough i n h e r account rin g s
tr u e t o show t h a t , on th e w hole, th e o u ltu re o f C a r l i n v i l l e , I l l i n o i s ,
1870-1888, i s b e t t e r d escrib ed i n F ran k 's Our America, o r C a th e r's "The
S o u lp to r's F u n e ra l," th an in Mark Tw ain's A m erica.
Bernard De V o to 's
"B rooksophobia," h is attem p t to prove a l l such i n t e l l e c t u a l s a s Matthew
Josephsan, Brooks, and Frank wrong in t h e i r in t e r p r e ta tio n o f American l i f e ,
i s j u s t i f i e d in s o fa r a s H annibal and V irg in ia C ity from 1835-1866 a re con­
cern ed .
But th e r e remains muoh t o be sa id f a r th e j u s t i c e o f Van Wyok
Brooks' th e s i s and f o r th e aoouracy o f Mary H unter A u s tin 's p o r t r a i t of
a M iddlew estero sm all to m i n th e g ild e d a g e .
The H unters, Susanna, James, Mary, and George, moved t o C a lifo rn ia
in th e summer o f 1888, a few weeks a f t e r M ary's g ra d u a tio n .
T h eir home­
s te a d e r s ' claim was in th e San Joaquin V a lle y , n e ar th e g re a t Tejon Ranch
o f G eneral Edward F itz g e ra ld B eale, same t h i r t y m iles from B a k e rs fie ld ,
C a lif o r n ia .
The fa m ily was, f o r a tim e , extrem ely poor and d isco u rag ed ;
su ccessiv e droughts in 1888, 1889, and 1890 oaused th e H unters t o remove
from t h e i r claim s and ta k e up sto re -k e e p in g on G eneral B e a le 's ra n c h .
9
George M. B eard, A P r a c t ic a l T r e a tis e on Nervous Exhaustion
(New York, 1880). This w rT ter r e l i e s upon th e v a lu a b le b ib lio g ra p h y in
DeVoto, op. c i t . , f o r t h i s item .
13
Mary ta u g h t school n e a r Mountain View D airy , beginning in 1889.
Sometimes
she was an i t i n e r a n t te a c h e r, going to th e ran ch homes of h er p u p ils in ­
ste a d o f h a rin g them come t o h e r .
Under th e tu te la g e o f General Beale and
from th e acquaintance of o th e r ra n o h e rs, she gathered much lo re of Spanish
C a lif o r n ia .
In 1891 she was m arried t o S ta ffo rd W. A u stin , whose claim
la y n e a r th a t o f th e H unters, in th e Panama d i s t r i c t .
The A ustins f a ile d a s v in e y a r d is ts , and la te in 1891 or e a r ly in
1892 removed t o San F ra n c isc o .
Mary A u stin to o k w ith h e r t o San F ranoisco
two s t o r i e s she had w r itte n ; one she so ld t o The Overland Monthly, e d ite d
by Ina C o o lb rith , whose acquaintan ce M rs. A u stin valued highly*
In th e
summer o f 1892, th e A u stin s went t o Lane P in e , in "th e land o f l i t t l e
r a i n , ” th e co u n try surrounding Owens la k e , in Inyo County, where Mr. A ustin
was employed on an i r r i g a t i o n p r o je c t.
H ere, acco rd in g t o Mrs. A u s tin ’s
a cc o u n t, she was dism issed from a h o te l beoause h er husband, ab sen t on
b u s in e s s , had n eg leo ted t o pay t h e i r board b i l l s ; she to o k employment a s
dish-w asher and w a itre s s in a M rs. Dodge’ s boarding-house.
She went t o
h e r m o th er's house in B a k e rs fie ld , in O ctober, 1892; and th e r e a d a u g h ter,
Ruth, was born.
Beoause h er husband was d eep ly in d e b t, earn in g v e r^
l i t t l e , and beoause he re fu se d t o a c c e p t stea d y employment, Mary A u stin
remained w ith h e r m other u n t i l some tim e in 1893, when she re tu rn e d t o
h e r husband, he having agreed t o f i l l ou t a te a c h e r 's unexpired te rm , in
G eorge's Creek.
In th e f a l l o f 1893, S . W. A u stin to o k a b e t t e r p o s itio n
as te a c h e r a t Lone P in e .
Here and a t G eorge's Creek began Mary A u s tin 's
f i r s t in tim a te c o n ta c ts w ith In d ia n s and sh ee p -h e rd e rs, th e knowledge th u s
gained going l a t e r in to h e r books.
14
In 1895 Mrs. A u stin removed t o Bishop, northernm ost of th e Owens
V a lley tow ns, where she ta u g h t l i t e r a t u r e and a r t in an academy. She was
probably n o t liv in g w ith h e r husband a t t h i s tim e .
In Bishop she became
d e f i n i t e l y aware of h e r p o ssessio n o f unusual s p i r i t u a l pow ers; she had
a prem onition o f th e d eath o f h e r m other; she learn ed more about In d ian s
and beoame t h e i r defender when t h e i r r i g h t s were encroached upon; and she
began t o f e e l t h a t she would have t o b reak w ith th e M ethodist Church.
There she learn ed from a young woman d o c to r, Helen M aoK hight,^ t h a t h e r
daughter Ruth was m e n ta lly weak.
In 1897 th e A u stin s went t o liv e a t Independence, where S. W. A u stin
held th e p o s itio n o f R e g is tra r o f th e D esert Land O ffic e .
On a v i s i t t o
San F ranoisoo in 1897 f o r tre a tm e n t in a h o s p i t a l , Mary A u stin heard
W illiam James le c tu r e , and in co n v ersa tio n w ith him f e l t t h a t he was d e f­
i n i t e l y sym pathetic tow ards h e r alread y -sh ap ed m y stic a l re lig io u s f a i t h .
In Independence th e A u stin s promoted amateur t h e a t r i o a l s , f o r which M rs.
A ustin was read out o f th e M ethodist Church.
to g e th e r, making numerous f i e l d t r i p s .
Husband and w ife b o tan ized
By 1898 Mrs. A u stin was in Los
A ngeles, m eeting numerous w rite rs a t th e house o f C harles F. Lummis,
e d ito r o f Land o f Sunshine, a p e rio d ic a l t o which she c o n trib u te d s e v e ra l
item s between 1898 and 1904.
She ta u g h t in a Los Angeles normal school
durin g 1898-99, "made th e A tla n tic Mont hl y, a n d
was o ffe re d a perma-
C f. Helen Mac Knight D oyle, A C h ild Went F o rth ; th e A utobiogra­
phy o f D r. Helen MaoKnight Doyle (Hew York, 1958) ( f i r s t p u b lish e d , 1934);
a ls o , H elen MaeKhight Doyle, Mary A u stin ; Woman o f Genius (New York, 1939).
^ A u stin , B arth H orizon, p . 294. The s to r y was NA Shepherd o f th e
S ie r r a s ," A tlan tio lZ o n E h ly , fc&XVI (1900), 54-58.
15
n en t p o s itio n i n a n o rth e rn C a lifo rn ia norm al sohool.
Upon h er husband's r e f u s a l t o abandon th e d e s e r t o o untry, she re tu rn e d
t o Independence in 1899, b u i l t a house th e r e , w rote The lan d o f L i t t l e B ain,
and began o th er books.
She learn ed th e t r u e n a tu re o f h er c h i l d 's d is ­
a b i l i t y , and l a t e r p u t h e r away in an i n s t i t u t i o n .
From 1900 t o 1905,
she was baok and f o r th between Inyo County., where h e r husband w as, and
Los Angeles and San F ran c isco , where h e r w r itin g o o n tao ts w ere.
In San
F ra n c isc o , in th e se y e a rs , she met H i t t e l l , th e C a lifo rn ia h is to r i a n ,
John M uir, W illiam K eith, C harles Whrren Stoddard, C arlos T ro y er, and
Edwin Markham.
She was g lad t o le a rn t h a t John Muir th o u g h t, a s she d id ,
t h a t anim als had in te llig e n c e .
About 1905, having seen th a t Inyo County
and th e Owens V a lle y were doomed t o a r i d i t y f a r th e g lo ry o f Los A ngeles,
12
she went away t o Carmel.
Mary A u s tin 's d e s e r t y e a rs , th e n , 1891-1905, were im portant ones.
This p erio d of h e r l i f e le d t o h e r b reak w ith h e r husband, a m a tte r over
which she agonized c o n sid e ra b ly , however r ig o r o u s ly she c a r r ie d out h e r
w ish t o be fre e o f th e husband.
By 1905 she had undergone what was prob­
a b ly th e w orst experience o f h e r l i f e — le a rn in g t h a t h e r only c h ild was
m e n ta lly a f f l i c t e d t o th e p o in t o f h o p eless ab n o rm ality .
Her l i f e in th e
d e s e rt gave h e r to o , a s a p e r s o n a lity , a k in d o f " lo o a l c o lo r ," ex o tic
f la v o r which she was t o e x p lo it f o r th e rem ainder o f h e r l i f e .
She loved
t o t e l l th e s to ry o f h er f ig h t w ith an e a g le j o f h e r stagecoaoh t r i p s in
E arth H orizon im p lies d a te o f 1903 f a r h e r f i n a l abandoning of
Inyo County. ^ C alifo rn ia I t i n e r a r y ," however, a m anuscript prepared by
M rs. A u stin f o r Carey MoWilliams, of Los A ngeles, C a lif o r n ia , and now in
h is p o sse ssio n , says j "Went t o B a k e rs fie ld , Kern C o ., and remained
th e re a b o u ts u n t i l 1892. Removed t o Lone F in e , Inyo C o ., and made t h a t
my home u n t i l 1905."
th e company of su sp io io u s-lo o k in g d e s e r t tram p s; o f h e r le av in g a s ta g e eoaoh i n th e m iddle of th e n ig h t and b ein g ta k e n by ru f fia n s out in to th e
sagebrush t o p ray fo r a d y in g , murdered man; o f h e r ta k in g th e four-team
stagecoach a c ro ss the Mojave d e s e rt once when th e d riv e r became i l l and
she among a l l th e passengers — in o lu d in g a b a rb e r -with a wooden leg and
a Londoner, head o f a m ining synd icate — was th e only one mho knew how
IS
t o d riv e fo u r horses*
She was proud o f th e f a c t t h a t in th e v illa g e s o f
Inyo County she was a "sm all, p la in , brown woman w ith to o much h a i r , alw ays
a l i t t l e s ic k , and always busy about th e f i e l d s and th e mesas in a manner,
so th e y say in th e v i l l a g e , a s i f I should lik e to see anybody t r y t o
sto p m e ." ^
She was no doubt proud, to o , o f th e fa o t th a t th e v ill a g e r s
aocepted h e r "on th e same b a sis a s th e w eath er, an i n s t i t u t i o n which
th e r e was no use tr y in g t o aocount for."*®
In 1900, in Independence, she
gave th e F ourth o f J u ly o ra tio n t o th e assem bled v i s i t o r s , and occasion­
a l l y , when no preacher was a v a ila b le , she would go and r in g th e church
b e l l , and th e v illa g e r s would "oome in t o h e a r £ h e r j in th e most n a tu r a l
manner."I®
At l i t e r a r y g a th erin g s i n Hew York, she loved t o p la y th e
13
Of th e s to r ie s h ere m entioned, th o se which a re n o t r e la te d in
E a rth H orison a re t o be found in a l e t t e r o f Mary A ustin t o h e r p u b lis h e rs ,
E(ought an M ifflin C o ., w r itte n from Independence, C a lifo rn ia , November 25,
1902. The l e t t e r was p rin te d in th e New York Sun, October 15, 1918, and
from t h a t source r e p rin te d in E l PalacTo' (Jo u rn a l o f th e Museum of New
Mexico, th e School of American R esearch, . • • and Santa Fe S o c ie ty o f
th e A rch aeo lo g ical I n s t i t u t e ) , Y (1918), 262-264.
^ A non., "Mary A u stin in Santa F e ," E l P a la c io , V (1918), 264.
17
In d ia n medicine-woman or " c h is e r a ,” re a d in g fo r tu n e s , gazing in to th e
c r y s ta l b a l l , and having prem onitions*
17
To a n a tu r a lly vigorous and
domineering p e r s o n a lity , she added, lik e a tr u e n o v e lis t, a conception o f
h e r s e lf as an u n u su a lly rugged, s e l f - r e l i a n t , and mannish woman, e n t i r e l y
capable of ta k in g oare o f h e rs e lf*
I t m s a s " d e s e rt woman" t h a t she
made h er mark in th e l i t e r a r y w orld.
She owed t o h er y ears in th e d e s e rt h er knowledge of In d ia n s , sheeph e rd e rs , m ining camp d e r e l i c t s , c ra c k -b ra in e d p ro sp eo to rs and p o t-h u n te rs ,
end a l l th e w eird orew of th e co u n try o f " lo s t b o rd e rs ."
m ysticism m s no doubt in o reased in th o s e years*
Her b e n t tow ards
N early a l l c r i t i c s o f
h e r works have given c r e d it to th e d e s e r t f o r h e r unusual approaoh to
most problems*
One adm irer holds t h a t she came out of th e d e s e r t p re p a red ,
a f t e r brooding th e r e , t o serve as "an ad v an ee-n o tiee of th e fo rm atio n o f
a r a c e ."
18
A nother sees th e mark of th e d e s e rt in "the la rg e dimensions
o f h e r id e a s , in h e r n e g le c t o f a l l t h a t does n o t go t o th e ro o ts o f some
m a tte r or o th e r , in h er o ra c u la r h a b it o f oamm unioation."
19
S t i l l a n o th e r,
a p e rso n al f r ie n d o f M rs. A u s tin 's in h e r l a t e r y e a rs , ho ld s t h a t th e
y ears of tra g e d y in th e d e s e rt fo rce d h e r t o l i v e h e r own l i f e a s a o re -
17
P e rso n a l in fo rm a tio n . I t is in te r e s t in g t o n o te t h a t an u n fin ­
ish ed humorous and s a t i r i c a l p la y by D* H. Lawrence on l i f e a t Mabel Luhan's
p la ce in Taos, New Mexico, opens w ith Mary A u s tin 's say in g p ro p h e tic a lly }
"This co u n try i s w a itin g . I t l i e s sp e ll-b o u n d , w a itin g . The g r e a t SouthW est, Amerioa of America. I t is w a itin g
— D. H. Lawrence,
" A ltitu d e " £ th e f i r s t soene o f an u n fin is h e d p la £ [ , taughthg' H orse, No. 20
(Summer, 1938), no p a g in a tio n •
18 Henry Sm ith, "The F eel of th e P u rp o sefu l B a rth ," New Mexico
Q u a rte rly , I (1931), 19.
19 C a rl Van Doren, "The American Rhythm," C entury, CVII (19 2 3 ), 154.
18
a to r.
A more rh a p s o d ic a l anonymous w r ite r lik e n s Mary A u s tin 's mind
t o th e d e s e rt in " r ig o r t o cope w ith a u s t e r i t y and d e s o la tio n ," in "p re o is e d e lic a c y of p e rc e p tio n which sees in tim acy and lo v e lin e s s where th e y
a re most s u b tly and t e r r i b l y c o n cealed ," in "th e h ig h em otional v io le n c e
21
o f r o m a n c e L i n o o I n S te ffe n s h e ld t h a t she read th e d e s e rt w ith suoh
sympathy and u n d erstan d in g t h a t h e r o b serv atio n s a re " l i f e and th e p o e try
of l i f e anywhere."*^
Commentators, i t a p p e a rs, tr y in g t o f in d a c e n te r t o which t o r e ­
la te a l l of Mary A u s tin 's e c e e n t r i o i t i e s , th e m y stic a l and i n t u i t i v e modes
of th in k in g , and o th e r m a tte rs , have o lu to h ed a t th e d e s e rt a s th e explana­
tio n .
A c tu a lly , th e d e s e rt was a f o r tu ito u s elem ent in Mary A u s tin 's l i f e .
T rue, i t s newness and s tra n g e n e s s , and th e f a c t t h a t i t had been l i t t l e
e x p lo ite d in l i t e r a t u r e , gave h er a f r e s h and new f i e l d t o work in and con­
seq u e n tly a g re a te r r e p u ta tio n f o r o r i g i n a l i t y , p e rh a p s, th an she would
otherw ise have gain ed .
The d e s e rt gave Mary A u stin much of h e r a c tu a l
l i t e r a r y m a te ria l, but th e them es, th e p r e d ile o tio n s , th e modes o f th in k •n * ,
in g would probably have been much th e same in any m ilie u in to whioh she
might have been thrown — whioh is n o t t o deny t h a t o f a l l c o n o re te , ex­
t e r n a l ex p erien ces which she liv e d th ro u g h , th e ex p erien ces o f h e r d e s e rt
y ears were most h ig h ly i n f l u e n t i a l .
In Carmel, Mary A u stin knew Jack London, George S te r lin g , and B arry
Leon TO.Is on f a i r l y w e ll.
90
Ambrose B ierce she knew s l i g h t l y .
E lis a b e th S . S e rg e a n t, "Mary A u stin :
view o f L i te r a tu r e , XI (1954), 96.
She knew L in-
A P o r t r a i t , " S atu rd ay Re­
21 A non., "Mary A u s tin ," Bookman, LVIII (1925), 47-48.
22 Lincoln S te ff e n s , "Mary A u s tin ," Amerioan M agazine, LJQQCII (1911),
181.
19
c o in S te ff e n s , Janes Hopper, Ray Stannard Baker, Henry L a f f le r , and Vernon
and C h a rlo tte K ellogg.
She seems, honever, t o have been am azingly immune
t o th e in flu e n c e o f London's s o c ia lis m and anarehism , o f S t e r l i n g 's bohemianism, o f W ilson's f l a i r f o r a ch iev in g p o p u la rity , of B ak er's and
S teffen s* p a ssio n f o r s o o ia l j u s t i c e .
I s id r o (1905) and The Flock (1906),
although probably •w ritten in Carmel, owed t h e i r s u b je c t m a tte r t o h er
y e ars o f liv in g in th e d e s e rt c o u n try .
Only S an ta Luoia (1908) and Lost
Borders (1909) owe a n y th in g d i r e c t l y t o h er Carmel p e rio d , and even in
th o se works th e in flu e n c e o f Robert H e rric k , B ret H a rte , Owen W ister,
and some fe m in is t l i t e r a t u r e is more pronounced th a n th e in flu en c e of
any person idiom she knew a t Carmel.
Carmel d id l i t t l e f o r h e r , i t seems,
except confirm h e r i n h e r d e s ire f o r a l i t e r a r y l i f e and in h e r n o tio n
th a t th e a r t i s t ought t o be fr e e t o make h is d e stin e d c o n trib u tio n t o
s o c ie ty .
Late in 1907, o r e a r ly in 1908, th in k in g h e r s e lf h o p e le s s ly i l l ,
Mary A ustin went away t o I t a l y .
On th e voyage o v er, she was in tro d u ced
t o C ard in al Merry d e l V a l's s e o re ta ry , and in I t a l y she met th e C ard in al
h im s e lf, who p u t h e r upon th e road t o stu d y o f p ra y e r under th e Blue Huns.
She met Gordon C raig and Isad o ra Duncan and P ro fe ss o r G ayley.
She was in
P a ris f o r a b r i e f s ta y , by which tim e h e r i l l n e s s had d isap p e a re d .
In
England, she met Anne M a rtin , th e s u f f r a g is t, Mr. and M rs. H erbert Hoover,
H. G. W ells, th e C onrads, Sidney and B eatrice Webb, Mrs. Humphry Ward,
Henry James, and W illiam B u tle r Y eats.
She c a r r ie d away from England a
d eep -seated Fabian in te lle o tu a lis m whioh was th roughout th e rem ainder of
h e r l i f e t o o a n f lic t oddly w ith th e s tr a in o f m ystioism to which h er
I t a l i a n ex p erien ces had c o n trib u te d .
20
Mrs. A ustin re tu rn e d t o New York in th e summer o f 1910 t o a s s i s t
in th e p ro d u ctio n of h er p la y , The Arrow Maker, by th e r e c e n tly su b sid ise d
" n a tio n a l t h e a t e r ," th e New T h e a te r.
A fter p ro d u ctio n o f th e p la y , Novem­
b e r, 1911, she went t o San Diego t o le c t u r e , and in 1912 re tu rn e d t o Car­
mel and b u i l t a house th e r e .
In th e summer o f 1912 and o f 1913 she was
a c tiv e ly engaged in community dram atic e f f o r t s .
23
Her own p la y , F i r e ,
-
»*•
in which she took a r o le h e r s e l f , was produced a t th e F o re st T h eater,
Carm el, in 1913..
When th e World War begem, she was engaged in p u b lic ity
work fo r th e Fanam a-Faoifio E x p o sitio n .
Her d u tie s to o k h e r a t in te r v a ls
t o New York; indeed, she a lte r n a te d between Car me 1 and New York from 1915
t o 1918, tu rn in g out an odd medley o f works:
a book an C h ris t as a m y stio ,
a novel about a C a lifo rn ia s tru g g le fo r w ater r i g h t s , a t r e a t i s e f o r th e
Y.W.C.A. on woman's d u tie s a s v o te r .
Her f i r s t extended v i s i t t o New
Mexico was from December, 1918, u n t i l la te in 1919.
She was back in New
York in 1920 working on The American Rhythm and The Land o f Jo u rn e y 's
24
Ending. She went to England a g ain in th e summer of 1921.
In 1924 she
to o k up permanent re sid e n o e in Santa F e, New M exico, and b u i l t a house
th e r e , which she named "Casa Q u erid a."
23
In an a r t i c l e w r itte n about h e r on h e r f i r s t going t o Santa F e,
M rs. A u stin was given c r e d i t f o r having "w holly (in C a lifo rn ia ) o rig in a te d
th e community th e a t e r movement." — Anon., "Mary A u stin in Santa F e ," E l
P a la c io (Jo u rn a l of the Museum o f New Mexioo, th e School of American Re­
se a rc h , . • • and Santa Fe S o c ie ty of th e A rch aeo lo g ical I n s t i t u t e ) , V
(1918), 263. In December, 1918, she was o ff e rin g t o a s s i s t in th e p ro ­
du ctio n o f a community p la y i n Santa Fe, and a month l a t e r was w ritin g
t h a t "the germ o f t h e Portm anteau T heatre id e a , worked out so su ccess­
f u l l y by S tu a r t W alker, was in ven ted a t Lone P in e , C a lif o r n ia , many y e ars
a g o ." — E l P a la c io , YI (1919), 27.
^ E a rth Horigon gives d a te o f 1922. But l e t t e r s and sorap-books
among Mrs. 'A u stin 's e f f e c t s in h e r house in S an ta Fe, New Mexioo, show
t h a t she was in England i n 1921 and n o t in 1922. F urtherm ore, h er a r t i c l e
reco u n tin g h e r E n g lish e x p e rie n c e s, "My Fabian Summer," Bookman, LIY (1921),
351-356, proves th e p o in t.
21
The y ears 1910 t o 1924 were f a l l o f ex citem en t, change, and im portant
c o n ta c ts .
W illiam A rcher and W inthrop Ames and George F o s te r P l a t t o f th e
New T heater were im p o rtan t acq u ain tan ces in New York in 1910 and 1911.
In
Carmel she renewed h e r frie n d s h ip w ith th e S te r l in g s , and H arry Leon W ilson
and th e K elloggs; and i n am ateur dram atics a t th e F o re st T heater she knew
Sidney Howard.
In New York, a f t e r th e War, she knew C h a rlo tte Perkins
Gilman, and through h e r met Emma Goldman, whom she lik e d because "she was
a p e a s a n t."
Many s u f f r a g i s t s , re fo rm e rs, and t h e a t r i c a l fo lk she knew:
Ida T a rb e ll, Mary Shaw, M innie Maddern F isk e , Raohel C ro th e rs , Nazimova,
Pavlowa, Ire n e Lewisohn, E liz a b e th G urley F lynn.
l i t e r a r y s e t she did n o t l i k e .
Many of th e New York
E endrik Van Loan and S in o la ir Lewis, how­
e v e r, who liv e d in th e house where she liv e d (No. 10 Barrow S t r e e t ) , made
c o n v ersa tio n t h a t was n e a re r " fo lk t a l k " th a n any she heard in New York.
She a tte n d e d th e d in n er f o r W illiam Dean Howells on h is seventy**fifth
b irth d a y , and s i t t i n g n e x t t o W illiam A lle n W hite, learn ed t h a t he to o
oould make " fo lk t a l k . "
She knew W alter Lippmann w e ll; w hether she was
in tro d u ced to him by LinooIn S te ffe n s or met him through someone e ls e a t
Mabel Dodge’ s house, Trtiere she o fte n was, she does n o t say .
She and Henry
H olt had a common i n t e r e s t in psychic m a tte rs , b u t she d isa g re e d w ith h-im
on th e s ig n ific a n c e o f th e "P atien ce Worth" books of M rs. P e a rl C urran,
25
th e m edium -w riter. She d isag reed w ith Lippmann over Big B i l l Heywood.
She d isag ree d w ith Amy Lowell and M argaret Wlddemer about th e o rig in s of
fr e e v e rse and Imagism.
25
She hoped R obert F r o s t would "cato h what I was
Her v e ry u n k in d ly p o r t r a i t o f th e r a d ic a l a g i ta to r in The Ford
(1917) i s p robably drawn from Heywood.
d r iv in g a t in th e rhythm o f th e l o c a l s p e e c h ,
fin d t h a t Hadame B ianohi th ou gh t l i t t l e
so n .
oc
1
and v^s su r p r ise d t o
o f F r o st or Edwin A r lin g to n Robin­
She to o k Mabel Dodge S tern e Luhan’ s husband, Tony, Taos I n d ia n , t o
th e K eith t o s e e t i l l Robinson d an ce, and in te r v ie w e d R ob inson .
She
h a ile d " A b ie's I r i s h Rose" a s a f o lk d r a m , and le c tu r e d a t C a lifo r n ia
and Yale on f o lk p la y s .
In Santa F e, Llrs. A u stin knew Jerald C a ssid y , th e a r t i s t , and
Mrs. C a s s id y , whom she had met a t a s u f f r a g i s t con ven tion in A t la n t ic
C ity about 1917.
97
The C a ssid y s drove h er over A rizona and new M exico
in 1S22 when she was working on The Land o f Journ e y 1s Endin g .
She knew
a l s o Frank A p p le g a te , a r t i s t and f o l k - l o r i s t , from whom she d e r iv e d a
grea t p a r t o f her i n t e r e s t in and knowledge o f Spanish-A m erican f o l k - s t o r i e s
and f o lk - a r t s .
. / i t t e r Lynne r , Lynn R ig g s, Arthur D avison F ic k e , S enator
Bronson C u ttin g , A l i c e Corbin H enderson, John S lo a n , a.nd a h o st o f more
minor c e l e b r i t i e s were her a c q u a in ta n c es in Santa F e .
At "Casa Que r id a ,"
a t one tim e or an oth er betw een 1924 and her d e a th , she was h o s t e s s t o
many a c e l e b r i t y sto p p in g b r i e f l y in Santa F e.
'.Villa Cafcher w rote
Death Comes fo r th e A rch b is hop in I n s . A u s t in 's h ou se;
OQ
and I n s . A u stin
p l a i n l y s a id she did n o t l i k e th e book becau se i t id e a li z e d a French
p r i e s t and h is French church in a town t h a t was u n a lte r a b ly Span ish
26
A u s tin , Earth Hor iz o n , p . 334.
^ R elated t o th e auth or by Mrs. Ina S iz e r C a s s id y , o f Santa F e ,
Hew M exico.
In Mrs. A u s t in 's lib r a r y i s a copy o f '.Villa G ath er, Death Comes
f o r th e A rchbishop (New York, 1 9 2 7 ), in s c r ib e d a s f o llo w s ; "For Mary A u s t in ,
in whose l o v e l y stu d y I w rote th e l a s t c h a p ters o f t h i s book. She w i l l be
my s t e r n e s t c r i t i c — and she has t h e r ig h t t o b e . I w i l l alw ays ta k e a
c a l l i n g down from my b e t t e r s . V illla Cather
A ugust 29, 1927."
23
in i t s o u ltu r e .
In th e l a s t y e a rs o f h e r l i f e she was much in te r e s te d in
th e Spanish A rts Fund, and in th e In d ia n A rts Fund, o rganised e f f o r t s t o
e x p lo re , o o lle o t, and c a ta lo g th e pro d u cts o f Spanish and In d ian h an d i­
c r a f t s and, above a l l , t o stim u la te th e r e v iv a l o f h a n d ic ra fts and fo lk
a rts .
The clim ax of h e r enthusiasm about what th e fo lk a r t s might con­
t r i b u t e to modern c i v i l i s a t i o n was h e r v i s i t t o Mexico in 1930, where
she met Diego R ivera ( in Cuem avaoa) and ta lk e d w ith him and was happy
t o fin d him Ma g re a t p a in te r , a g re a t man," w ith "no Nordic t a i n t " b u t
e s s e n t i a l l y "In d ia n ; p o ised , e e n te re d , a t home w ith h is w ork."
29
Mary A ustin engaged in numerous community a c t i v i t i e s in Santa Fe.
30
She w rote fre q u e n tly of th e community and f o lk s p i r i t which she found
th e r e .
She organized a w ritin g c lu b and d ic ta te d t o i t u n t i l i t broke u p .
She had a fin g e r in a b i- l in g u a l school p r o je c t sponsored by th e U niver­
s i t y o f New Mexico, in 1933.
On June 5, 1933, she was awarded th e hano31
r a r y degree of Doctor of L e tte rs by th e U n iv e rs ity of New Mexico.
As
s e lf-a p p o in te d champion o f In d ia n s and Spanish-A m ericans, she was supreme.
She had oane home, she f e l t .
She d ie d , on August 14, 1934, in h e r Beloved
A u stin , E arth H orizon, p . 366. At th e tim e of th e c o n tro v e rsy
over th e R ivera m urals a t R o c k e fe lle r C en ter, New York, in 1933, M rs.
A u stin wrote d i r e c t l y t o John D. R o o k e fe lle r, J r . , p ro te s tin g th e a c tio n .
(Copy o f l e t t e r in M rs. A u s tin 's f i l e s . ) She had form erly been su ccess­
f u l in o b ta in in g money from R o o k efeller f o r n a tiv e a r t s and c r a f t s p ro je c ts
in Santa Fe.
The m a te ria l of t h i s paragraph i s based upon p e rso n al in fo rm atio n ,
b u t th e r e is a ls o b ib lio g r a p h ic a l evidence fo r most o f i t . See Mary A u stin ,
"Why I Live in Santa F e ," Golden Book, XVI (1932), 306-307; "L ife a t Santa
F e ," South A tla n tio Q u a rte rly , XXXI (1932), 263-271; "Education in New Mex­
ic o , i r NewMerico Q u a rte rly , I I I (1933), 217-221; "Rural Eduoation in New
M exico," U n iv e rs ity o f New Mexico B u lle tin , T rain in g School S e r ie s , I I (1931).
SI
Albuquerque Jo u rn a l, June 6 , 1933.
24
House, o f h e a r t d is e a s e , a t th e age o f s i x t y - s i x ,
p r a c ti c a lly a lo n e ,
many form er frie n d s and acq u ain tan ces having f a l l e n away. A ll h e r r e l a 33
t i v e s , except one n ie c e , Mary H unter, mere e stra n g e d .
She d ied canvinoed o f im m o rtality , b u t t e r r i b l y a f r a i d i n th e n i g h t.
34
Among th o se
mho knew h e r , th e oonsensus i s t h a t she m as, by t u r n s , u n g ra c io u s, u n g e n tle ,
u n lo v e ly , h a rs h ly e g o t i s t i c a l , and g en ero u s, am iab le, and deep ly humane.
Out of th e m u ltitu d e of p erso n al c o n ta c ts and th e v a r ie ty o f h er
e x p e rie n c e s, Mary A ustin to o k com p arativ ely l i t t l e .
P e r s o n a litie s did n o t
smay h e r so much as id e a s ; and h e r id e a s a re deep obsessions mhioh she to o k
up e a r ly and h e ld t o throughout h e r l i f e .
Her feminism mas ro o te d in Fran­
ces W illa rd 's id e a s , and changed l i t t l e i n a l l th e y e a r s .
Her m ysticism
mas a compound of C h ris tia n S c ie n ce , Hem Thought, and h e r n o tio n s about th e
In d ia n s ' r e l i g i o n .
In h e r n a tu re -m ritin g she never improved upon h e r two
e a r l i e s t works i n t h a t g en re.
Because she w rote volum inously over a p erio d
o f y e a r s , n a tu r a lly , in d e t a i l , her th o u g h ts owed much t o i n t e l l e c t u a l and
l i t e r a r y c u rre n ts and fa d s from 1892 t o 1934.But she did n o t
re c o rd l i f e a c c u ra te ly .
E s s e n tia lly a lo n e ly
observe or
m ystic — "woman a lo n e ," she
onoe desoribed h e r s e l f — she read a l l l i f e and a l l experience la r g e ly in
term s of a few a b id in g p re p o sse ssio n s.
^
Mem York Times, August 14, 1933.
33 E a rth H orisan re c o u n ts th e p ro g ress
of th e estran g em en t, b u t r e ­
v e a ls few reasons f o r i t . L e tte rs from Houghton M if f lin Company t o Mary
A u stin in 1932 ( in M rs. A u s tin 's f i l e s ) re v e a l th a t M rs. George H unter,second
w ife o f Mary A u s tin 's younger b r o th e r , t r i e d , u n s u c c e s s fu lly , t o ban E arth
H orison from review in C a lifo rn ia papers and t o canoel same o f Mrs. A u s tin 's
le c tu r e engagements.
34
Miss Dorothy Thomas, o f Santa F e, Hem Mexico, mho liv e d in an
apartm ent i n M rs. A u s tin 's house a t th e tim e o f Mrs. A u s tin 's d e a th , r e l a t e s
t h a t th e a u th o r o f Can Prayer Be Answered? (1934) and Experiences Facing
Death (1931) mas in a c t u a l i t y p a in f u lly a f r a id of d y in g .
CHAPTER I I
APPRENTICESHIP
When Mary A ustin a rriv e d in C a lifo rn ia in 1888, th e o ld e r lo o a l
c o l o r i s t s who had depended on d ia le c t mere about t o give may t o a more
r e a l i s t i o group o f lo o a l c o l o r i s t s , James lane A lle n , Mary W ilkins F ree­
man, Kate Chopin, and Grace King, t r e a t i n g , r e s p e c tiv e ly , Kentucky, HemEngland, L ouisiana and New O rle a n s.
sources to o .
But C a lifo rn ia had i t s l i t e r a r y r e ­
Helen Hunt Jac k so n 's Ramona mas fo u r years o ld , and in
about tw elve y ears a deluge o f h i s t o r i c a l romances mas t o b e g in .
B ret
H arte and Mark Twain mere s t i l l v iv id ly remembered a s w r ite r s who had
made use o f th e c o lo r f u l C a lifo rn ia n scene; H arte*s Overland Monthly
mas s t i l l being p u b lish e d .
C o lo rfu l p io n e er C a lifo rn ia mas alm ost p a s t,
but same tr a c e s o f B ret H arte*s se& o ritas and m iners and o f M rs. J a c k so n 's
In d ia n s s t i l l lin g e re d .
On G eneral B e a le 's Tejan Ranoh, shepherds s t i l l
brought huge flooks down from th e S ie r r a s a t sh e a rin g tim e .
A g i r l in
C a lifo rn ia i n 1888, w ishing t o w r ite , had h er m a te ria ls a t hand ( o r
could f in d them in a few years by t r a v e l and o b s e rv a tio n ), in shepherds,
in Spanish-A m ericans, i n m in ers, and in In d ia n s ; and th e n»Tmar of t r e a t ­
in g th o se m a te ria ls mas, la rg e ly , th e manner o f th e 'n i n e t i e s and of th e
e a r ly y e ars of th e tw e n tie th o e n tu ry .
M rs. A u s tin 's e a r ly w ritin g s o o n s is t o f s t o r i e s , a few poems, and
a h i s t o r i c a l romance.
From h e r f i r s t p u b lish e d s to ry , "The Mother o f
F e lip e ," 1892, t o h e r h i s t o r i c a l romance, I s i d r o , 1905, i s a p erio d of
t h i r t e e n y e a rs ; b u t only th e y e a rs 1900-1903 were v e ry p ro d u c tiv e .
The
Land o f L i t t l e Rain (1903), in which M rs. A u stin found h e r most ch arac­
t e r i s t i c g en re, i s exoluded from d is c u s s io n h e re .
Excepting The Land o f
25
L i t t l e R aina th e p e rio d 1892-1905 i s th e p e rio d of h e r a p p re n tic e s h ip ,
d u rin g -which tim e she -wrote l i t t l e i f an y th in g t h a t any o r d in a r ily p e r­
sev e rin g am ateur o f some t a l e n t could n o t have accom plished by follow ­
in g th e l i t e r a r y fa s h io n s.
Before 1900 th e re -were only th r e e s t o r i e s M r s . A u stin a t t r i b ­
u te d th e "occasion o f th e r e le a s e " of th e f i r s t s to r y , "The Mother o f
F e lip e " (1892), t o K ip lin g . I t i s d o u b tfu l t h a t she had heard o f Kip2
lin g in 1892; a t any r a t e , th e s to ry shows n o th in g o f th e manner o r s ty le
o f K ip lin g .
I t r e l a t e s how a m o th er's love f a r h e r dead son o u tla s ts th e
love o f h is b e tro th e d , who a f t e r fiv e y e a rs i s m arried t o a n o th e r.
There
i s u nexceptionable d e s c r ip tio n of th e h i l l o o u n try e a s t o f San F ra n c isc o ,
b u t c e r ta in l y none o f K ip lin g 's v iv id n e s s , s p r i g h tl in e s s , o r shookingness.
Indeed, th e t a l e i s alm ost s e n tim e n ta l, and i t shows no n a r r a tiv e s k i l l
w hatever.
I f i t ones a n y th in g t o any in flu e n c e , i t i s sim ply t h a t Mary
A u stin was s t r i v i n g to do f o r Span!sh-Americans what Mary W ilkins Freeman
had done in th e p revious y e a r , t h a t i s , e x p lo it a l o c a l i t y .
There i s an obvious in flu e n c e of K ipling in th e succeeding two
s t o r i e s , p u b lish e d in 1897.
In E arth H orizon, M rs. A u stin h e r s e lf p u t h e r
fin g e r upon t h a t in flu e n c e , "a s l i g h t l y mocking detachm ent . . .
com­
p l e t e l y disengaging th e a u th o r from any r e s p o n s i b i l i t y fo r th e m oral im p li-
-*- E arth H orisan m entions fo u r, b u t n o t by t i t l e . Mrs. A u stin im­
p l i e s t h a t a l l were p u b lish e d in Overland M onthly. See E arth H o risan ,
pp. 229-232. Search o f th e Overland re v e a ls only t h r e e : "The Mother o f
F e lip e ," Overland M onthly, XX (1892), 534-538; "The Conversion o f Ah Lew
S in g ," I b id . , XXX (1897), 307-312; "The Wooing of th e S e n o rita ," I b id . ,
XXIX (iSSTJ. 258-263.
^ ££. F . L. P a tte e , Development o f t h e American Short S to ry (New
York and London, 1923), p .3 $ 9 .
26
o a t ions of th e scene and th e p e o p le ."
In "The Conversion o f Ah Lev
S in g ," Foo Chou, a Chinese gam bler, is outdone by Lew S in g , a mere
g ard en er, who goes p io u s ly f o r some tim e to a C h r is tia n m issio n , only
t o seduce and c a r ry away th e g i r l whom h is r i v a l had p u t th e r e fo r s a fe ­
k eep in g .
The im p lic a tio n is t h a t Chinese do no t re s p e c t C h ris tia n m oral
codes, and why should th ey ?
"The Wooing of th e S e n o rita " shows mockery
i f n o t detaohm ent, f o r th e a u th o r does n o t q u ite conceal th e d e lig h t she
ta k e s in a tta c k in g th e e f f e te E ast and th e inadequacy of i t s r i g i d id e as
o f deoenoy, p r o p r ie ty , and conscience when th e s e a re put in to a W estern
s itu a tio n .
A p rim itiv e s e n o r ita oauses M illa rd T ra v is , Boston clubman
looking f o r v i r i l i t y an a C a lifo rn ia ra n c h , t o p ro te o t h e r and h e r c a t t l e s te a lin g lo v e r, even a f t e r she has allow ed T rav is to make love t o h e r.
T ravis re tu rn s t o th e E ast s t i l l unaware o f many b i t t e r r e a l i t i e s he
might have observed b u t d id n o t , beoause o f h is squeam ishness.
o f knowing sly n ess i s unm istakably K ip lin g 's .
The a i r
The in flu e n c e o f K ip lin g
could have oome b y w a y of Owen W is te r's Red Man and White (1896).
However,
W is te r 's emphasis upon W estern v i r i l i t y in c o n tra s t w ith E a stern e f f e t e ­
n e ss was t o corns l a t e r , s p e c if ic a lly in The V irg in ia n (1902).
n o t tak e v e ry s e r io u s ly M rs. A u s tin 's l a t e r
One must
e x p re ssio n o f contempt fo r
Mary A u stin , E a rth Horizon (Boston and New York, 1932), p.230.
* See W is te r's "Prefaoe" t o Red Man and W hite. Also F . L. P a tte e ,
The New American L ite r a tu r e (New York and "London, 1930), p . I l l , and Osoar
C a r g i l l , The S o c ia l R e v o lt, American L ite r a tu r e from 1888 t o 1914 (New
York, 1933), p*612.
27
Owen W is te r's re a d in g of th e West,® sin c e a l l through h e r work she i s
prone to cover up h e r sources and t o renounoe b o ld ly what she had fo rm erly
follow ed d i r e o t l y .
At th e same tim e , i t i s no t n e c e ssa ry t o i n s i s t t h a t
W ister was an in flu e n c e on th e s e e a r ly s t o r i e s .
A fte r a l l , w ith K ip lin g 's
teohnique in mind and w ith only th e v ag u est memory o f th e g e n e ra l n a tu re
o f B ret H arte*s m a te ria l and h is approaoh t o i t , she could have discovered
f o r h e r s e lf th e in h e re n t ap p eal of s itu a tio n s in whioh Chinese and S panishAmericans unoonsoiously f la u n t th e Anglo-American codes.
Indeed, th e
whole lo c a l c o lo r t r a d i t i o n gave p ro tra c te d statem en t of th e id e a t h a t in
"reg io n s" some v e ry a s to n is h in g , u n o an v en tio n al, and e c c e n tric c h a ra c te rs
and behaviors could be found.
g
From 1900 t o 1903, M rs. A ustin p u b lish ed te n s t o r i e s , s ix o f them
C f. Mary A u stin , The Ford (Boston and New York, 1917), p.242:
"Always V irg in ia played t o themil She had an alm ost u n lim ited c a p a c ity
f o r keeping th e game going and f o r shaping h e r p a r t t o th e requirem ents
of th e au dience. What th e p a r t was . . . was th e S p i r i t o f th e West.
I t was not a l l a t once t h a t Kenneth reco g n ised i t as such, fo r she played
i t in th e only key in which th e Trudeaus were accustomed t o see i t mani­
f e s t , in th e key o f Owen W ister and th e Sunday Supplem ents."
But t h i s was w r itte n a good many y e ars a f t e r Mary A u stin had
given h er own somewhat "Sunday Supplement" and popular magazine in te r p r e ­
t a t i o n o f th e West, and i s no more t o be t r u s t e d as a guide t o h e r e a r ly
f i c t i o n th a n i s h e r disavow al (in 1934) of ev ery " lo c a l o o lo r" elem ent.
See Mary A u stin , "The F olk S to ry in A m erica," South A tla n tic Q u a rte rly ,
XXXIII (1934), 10-19.
6 "A Shepherd o f th e S ie r r a s ," A tla n tic Monthly, IXXXVI (1900),
54-58; "The Pot o f G old," M unsey's, XXV (1901), 491-495; "The L i t t l e
C oyote," A tla n tic M onthly, IXXXIX (1902), 249-254; "The T ru so o tt Luck,"
Out West, XVII (1902), 50-58, 194-202, 323-329, 459-465, 585-592;
HPahawitz-Na *a n ," Out W est, XVIII (1903), 337-344; "The White H our,"
M unsey's, XXIX (196,5), 88-92; "The Search f o r Jean B a p tis te ," S t. N ic h o las,
XXX (1963), 102401027; "The Ford o f C rev eco eu r," Out West, XIX"Tl903),
389-395; "The L ost Mine of Fisherm an’ s Peak," Out W est, XIX (1903), 501510; "The Golden F o rtu n e ," A tla n tic Monthly, XCII (1963), 791-795, r e ­
p rin te d in Mary A u stin , The feasket Woman', A Book of F a n c ifu l T ales f o r
C h ildren (Boston and New York, 1904).
28
in 1903.
I t i s q u ite p o s s ib le t h a t many o f th e se she had had an hand
f o r some tim e, fin d in g s a le f o r them when The Land o f L i t t l e Bain (1903)
7
o
a ttr a c t e d fav o rab le n o tic e . One s to ry in 1904 and one in 1908 oomplete
h e r s to ry production in th e y e ars o f h e r a p p re n tic e s h ip , exoept th e s to r ie s
o o lle o te d in The Basket Woman (1904).
By th e tim e o f h e r c o lle c tio n en­
t i t l e d Lost Borders (1909), she had l e f t ro m an ticised lo c a l c o lo r behind
and had begun t o develop h e r t h e s i s about women's r i g h t s , fo llow ing a new
tre n d in th e f io tio n o f purpose, alth o u g h some lo o a l c o lo r elem ents rem ain
even in t h i s la te r p e rio d .
M rs, A u s tin 's f i c t i o n , th e n , from 1900 t o 1904,
as w e ll as one s to r y published in 1908, belongs in th e categ o ry of lo c a l
co lo r romance.
The in flu e n c e o f K ipling becomes le s s and le s s im p o rtan t;
th e tone of "mocking detachment" o f "The Wooing o f th e S e n o rita " and "The
C onversion o f Ah Lew Sing" g iv es way to sen tim en talism , ad v en tu re, and
rom anticism .
I t i s d i f f i c u l t t o o la s s if y th e se tw elve s to r ie s o f 1900-1908.
"A Shepherd of th e S ie rr a s " (1900), "The Searoh fo r Jean B a p tiste " (1903),
and "The Ford o f Crevecoeur" (1903) a l l r e f l e c t Mrs. A u s tin 's i n t e r e s t in
th e e a r ly days o f sheep-herding in C a lif o r n ia .
A ll have t h e i r s e tt in g in
th e h ig h p a stu re s of th e S ie r r a s , t o which John Muir had a lre a d y drawn
9
n a tio n a l a tte n tio n in numerous a r t i c l e s and a book.
M u ir's in flu e n c e ,
however, extends o nly to th e d e s c rip tiv e p o rtio n s o f M rs. A u s tin 's s t o r i e s ,
sinoe Muir found sheep-herding th e w orst enemy o f what he stood f o r , oon7
Mary A u stin , "The Kiss o f Nino D io s," Out West, XXI (1904), 534-541.
8 Mary A u stin , "Spring o* th e Y ear," C entury, LXXXV (1908), 923-928.
® The M ountains o f C a lif o r n ia (1894). Our N atio n al Parks (1901)
was e a r ly enough t o have in flu e n c e d th e two s to r ie s d ated 1903.
29
s e r v a tia n , and Mary A u stin found th e l i f e of th e sheep ranges glamorous,
ro m an tic, and B ib lic a l in i t s epic q u a l ity .
She had tramped over some o f
th e high p la o e s , she had seen sh ea rin g s a t Tejan Ranch, she had absorbed
c o n sid e ra b le lo r e .
A lso she had p ro b ab ly re a d , b e fo re 1903, Frank
N o r r is ’ The O ctopus, sin ce h e r shepherds a re i d y l l i c in somewhat th e
same manner a s Vanamee i n The Octopus.
The s to r ie s a re lo c a l o o lo r ro -
nance w ith a d e f in ite o u t-o f-d o o rs f l a v o r , a r io h landscape c o lo rin g , and
v e ry noble sen tim en ts.
"A Shepherd o f th e S ie rr a s " i s b u t a v a r ia tio n upon "th e lio n and
th e mouse" or "the Androoles and th e lio n " theme.
A shepherd re scu e s a
coyote which has been caught in a f o r e s t f i r e ; t h a t coyote never m olests
th e sh ep h e rd 's flo c k a g a in .
Sohrab and Rustum them e.
"The Search f o r Jean B a p tiste " u ses th e
A Basque shepherd comes t o America t o look f o r
h is e stran g ed son, d r i f t s t o th e S ie r r a s , engages in a f i g h t w ith a s tra n g e r ,
and le a rn s t h a t th e s tr a n g e r , nicknamed "th e M ule," is h is so n .
does n o t k i l l Rustum, however.
Sohrab
"The Ford o f C revecoeur" i s th e s to r y of
th e p rim itiv e revenge o f one Mexican sh eep -h erd er upon a n o th e r.
A ll th r e e
s t o r i e s a re t r i t e in them e, b u t d is p la y g re a t s k i l l in d e s c r ip tio n .
In
some way or o th e r, a l l of them e x p lo it th e new ly-aroused i n t e r e s t in eon10
s e rv a tio n o f th e C a lifo rn ia mountain c o u n try .
The f o r e s t - f i r e scene i n
"A Shepherd of th e S ie rr a s " i s a le sso n in c o n se rv a tio n , alth o u g h th e
a u th o r does n o t in tru d e t o m oralize upon i t .
The tre a tm e n t of an im als,
^ John M u ir's w ritin g s from 1876 t o 1896 had le d t o th e passage
o f a c o n se rv a tio n a o t and th e appointm ent of a co n se rv a tio n commission
by P re sid e n t C leveland in 1897. By 1903, th e d a te o f Mrs. A u s tin 's
s t o r i e s , Muir had aooompanied P re sid e n t R oosevelt on an in s p e c tio n to u r
o f Yosemite and v i c i n i t y , and R oosevelt had made th e U nited S ta te s oanscious of th e West and o f c o n se rv a tio n .
30
e s p e c ia lly of th e coyote in "A Shepherd o f th e S ie r r a s ," a ls o su g g ests
t h a t M rs. A ustin had h er e a r t o th e ground.
E rn est Thompson Set on and
th e Reverend W illiam Joseph Long, between 1898 and 1903, le d a g e n eral
N ature Movement w ith in te r p r e ta tio n s of anim al l i f e . ^
^
The f a c t t h a t
th e Reverend Land had g o t h im se lf involved in th e " n a tu re -fa k e r" o a n tro 12
v e rs y of 1903-1907 did n o t d e te r Mary A u stin from d ab b lin g in anim al
psychology as la t e as 1906, i n The F lock.
"The Pot of G old," w ith i t s themes o f p rim itiv e love and d ev o tio n
and th e lu re o f th e d e s e r t, m ight alm ost have been ta k e n from Owen W is te r's
" la T in aja B onita" (1895).
i c a l and em otional.
aocord.
The s ty le is K ip lin g esq u e, though more o ra to r­
Tuyomai, an In d ian g i r l , comes t o F e rr o l o f h e r own
They tram p th e d e s e rt to g e th e r, he looking f o r th e g o ld -b e a rin g
sands he has seen in an In d ia n p o t.
The th in g began t o ta k e th e c o lo r o f a lo tu s e a tin g dream;
. . . a stro n g young l i f e . . . tro d th e h i l l s w ith him, re so u rc e ­
f u l , t i r e l e s s , and u n a fra id . F e rro l th o u g h t how good th e days o f
th e f i r s t p a ir must have been. . . . In golden noons, under th e
almond bushes, he ta u g h t h e r t o w rite upon th e san d s, and began
t o explore th e lo re o f h e r p eo p le, and t o le a rn how many th in g s
a man m y drop out o f h is l i f e w ith o u t making h im se lf unhappy. • • •
He m eant, when he had made a l l safe f o r h e r , to go back t o h is own;
b u t when th e f i r e was l i t and s ta r s burned i n th e v e lv e t v o id , and
Tuyomai huddled a g n in s t h is f e e t , s i l e n t as he was s i l e n t , glow ing
when he glowed, he found t h a t th e t a s t e o f l i f e was good. And
alw ays th e cooking p o t p ric k e d him tow ards th e golden q u e s t. The
d e s e rt wantoned w ith h is in tim a te d e s ir e s , k in d le d , and prom ised,
and w ith h e ld . I n th e n e x t luminous hollow , th e f a r t h e r hidden
h i l l s ■— everywhere th e s e c r e t p re sse d and warmed him.
^
F . L. P a tte e , The New American L ite r a tu r e (New York, 1930), p . 117.
12
See P .M . H icks, The N a tu ra l H isto ry Essay i n American L ite r a tu r e
(P h ila d e lp h ia , 1924); John Burroughs, "Real and Sham N a tu ra l H is to ry ," A tlan ­
t i c , XCI (1903), 298-309; Henry F . P r in g le , Theodore R o o sev elt, A Biography
(New York, 1931), pp.467-469; Theodore R o o se v e lt, P r e s id e n tia l A ddresses
(New York, 1910), V I, 1323-1345; l e t t e r s by HHilliam J . Long in Tfaahingtan
P o s t, May 23 and June 2, 1907.
*^Mary A u stin , "The Pot o f G old," M unsey's Magazine, XXV (1901), 493.
31
He goes mad, g ets l o s t in a sandstorm , and d i e s .
Tuyomai and h er h a l f ­
w hite o h ild wander w ith an In d ia n t r i b e on th e edge of th e d e s e r t.
Three of th e s to r ie s have th e theme o f noble s e lf - s a o r i f i o e in
W estern s e tt in g .
"The L i t t l e Coyote" p o rtra y s th e deep lo re of a h a l f -
breed (In d ian and n h ite ) f o r h is prosperous s h i t e f a th e r .
The boy d ie s
in a mountain snow storm , and th e fa th e r ex h au sts h im se lf in th e e f f o r t
t o reach th e boy.
Sinee th e f a th e r i s a Jew ish t r a d e r a t M averick, th e
s to ry has some r a t h e r a tro c io u s German-Jewish d i a l e c t ; he c a l l s h is son
"der Liddle Kyode."
In "The W hite Hour" th e s e lf - s a o r i f io in g one i s a
l i t t l e In d ia n g i r l who d ie s o f exhaustion a f t e r tr a v e lin g m iles t o secu re
a w hite doctor so t h a t her f a t h e r , th e m edioine man, w i l l n o t s u f f e r a t
th e hands o f h is t r i b e .
"The Golden Fortune" d e a ls w ith a p ro sp ecto r
who, e a r ly in l i f e , had in h o s p ita b ly tu rn e d a s tra n g e r away from h is h u t;
now old and worn o u t, J e r r y r e tu r n s to hie m ountain h u t .
In a severe
mountain snowstorm, f o r r e t r i b u t i o n , he rescu es a bighorn sheep, a ram
which i s so old i t has ceased to stru g g le i n th e d r i f t s .
mendous e f f o r t , J e r r y i s found dead o f e x h au stio n .
A fte r t h i s t r e ­
A ll th re e s to r ie s
p re s e n t a g e n e ra liz e d noble sentim ent d ressed in lo o a l-c o lo r tra p p in g s .
The t r a d i t i o n t o whioh th e s e s to r ie s belong i s t h a t of th e " lo c a liz e d
romance" o f Mrs. Stowe, Constance Fenimore Wools on, and Sarah Orne Jew ett
in th e 's e v e n tie s and th e le s s rom antic b u t j u s t a s a r t i f i c i a l lo c a l c o lo r
s to r ie s o f Mary N. M urfree and A lic e French in th e 'e i g h t i e s .
From B ret
H arte, and from Dickens e v e n tu a lly , comes th e r e i t e r a t e d theme of noble
s e lf-s a c rifio e .
The d e s c rip tio n s owe th e i r g e n e sis la r g e ly to John M uir,
one f e e l s ; but M rs. A u s tin 's h an d lin g o f landscape a s a kind o f atmos­
p h e ric background t o h e r s to r ie s suggests t h a t she may have learn ed a ls o
from Miss M urfree.
M rs. A u s tin 's d e s c rip tio n s , however, highly-m annered
32
a s th e y sometimes a r e , have n o t th e Johnsonian and S c o tt- lik e g ra n d ilo ­
quence o f H iss M urfree*sj nor does Mrs. A u stin p a in t n a tu re as s i n i s t e r
and foreb o d in g .
"The T ru so o tt Luck" (1902), a s e r i a l , i s a rom antic account o f
b u rie d tr e a s u r e , fdmnd by means of a c h a r t l e f t by a dead man, th e c h a rt
meaning n o th in g u n t i l i t s lik e n e ss t o an am ulet in an In d ian b u r ia l cave
i s n o te d .
An a n a ly tic s to r y of th e g e n e ra l ty p e of Poe’ s "The Gold Bug,"
and vaguely re m in isc en t o f Stevenson, i t i s no b e tte r th a n hundreds o f
such "m y steries" t h a t magazines have p u b lish e d .
"The Lost Mine of F is h e r­
man's Peak" (1903) u ses a K iplingesque devioe t o g ain a u th e n t ic it y , begins
w ith th e n o te o f K ip lin g 's la r g e , c a su a l know ingness, an d , lik e K ip lin g 's
s t o r i e s , h in ts t h a t i n t h i s un u su al land stra n g e and v io le n t th in g s hap­
pen ev ery day.
I f th e r e is an unm istakably id e n t if ia b l e element in Kip­
l i n g 's t a l e s i t i s t h i s :
th e im p ertu rb ab le a u th o r seeks w ith c a s u a l n a rra ­
t i o n t o shock th e re a d e r.
K iplin g is s a id t o have le a rn e d th e t r i o k from
B ret H a rte .
Mrs. A ustin i n s i s t s t h a t h e r s to r y was c a s u a lly pioked up a t
Three P in e s, where "from dropped h in ts o f t a l k , rem inisoenee and sp ecu la­
t i o n , one g a th e rs th e g i s t of more t a l e s , and b e t t e r , th a n a re w r itt e n ."
I t i s th e s to r y of Guadalupe, a h a lf-b re e d g i r l who oould n o t be c i v i ­
liz e d by h e r m other, who liv e d sham elessly w ith C a s tle to n , a gam bler, and
who, when d e s e rte d by h e r lo v e r, plunged in to a sea rc h fo r a l o s t In d ia n
m ine.
Guadalupe has k il l e d one man, and now l i v e s , degraded and always
drunk, an th e ragged edge o f a oampoodie in th e o u ts k ir ts o f a bedraggled
mining town.
The re a d e r i s s ly l y to ld t h a t i f he does n o t approve o f
G uadalupe's ccnduot — w e ll, what is t h e re a d e r going t o do about i t ? —
whioh is th e v e ry to n e and g e stu re of K ip lin g in s to ry a f t e r s to r y o f
33
P la in T ales from th e H i l l s . "Pahaw itz-N a'an" seems t o be ocm struoted
14
on a b i t of In d ia n legend, b u t M rs. A u stin tu rn s i t i n to a " s u rp ris e "
s to ry about a c rip p le d F aiu te boy mho mins g re a t acclaim and th e s ta tu s
o f f u ll- f le d g e d manhood by tr a c k in g dotm a Bear-man (P a iu te j "Pahaw itzN a 'a n " ).
But a f t e r a l l , th e Bear-man mas o n ly an o rd in a ry Shoshone In d ia n .
The tmo rem aining s to r ie s tu r n a g a in tom ards th e ty p e of lo c a liz e d
romance mhich had been so prom inent in th e 's e v e n tie s .
"The Kiss o f
Nino D ios” (1904) d e a ls w ith an ex p lain ed "m ira c le ” — how a l i t t l e Mexioan boy, away from home w ith h is f a th e r , hopes on C hristm as Eve t o see
th e Nino Dios in a c r ib he has made f a r i t .
appear in th e c r i b .
A ane-m anth-old c h ild does
I t has been put th e re by th e mother o f th e boyj she
has tr a v e le d many m iles t o e f f e c t a r e c o n c ilia tio n w ith h e r estran g e d and
je a lo u s husband.
I t i s a l l an example o f th e n aiv e f a i t h and s im p lic ity
and sw eetness of th e se peo p le.
"Spring o ' th e Year" i s a s to ry o f a
spurned ad m irer, Ray G arcia, mho follow s h is beloved itiien she is fo rc e d
t o ta k e h e r f a t h e r 's flo c k down t o th e an n u al sh ea rin g .
overcomes th e would-be seducer o f h i s F e l i c i t a .
Ruy waylays and
She reprim ands him fo r
h is b o ldness in follo w in g h e r a g a in s t h e r oommands, b u t she g la d ly a g re es
t o m arry him .
This s to r y , to o , s e n tim e n ta liz e s simple Mexican sheep-
h erd in g f o lk .
T heir n a iv e n o tio n s o f honor and p r o p r ie ty a re dwelt upon
in lo v in g fa s h io n .
Both th e se s t o r i e s v e ry l i k e l y grew out o f lo c a l
in c id e n ts which M rs. A u stin had heard ab o u t in h e r y e ars around Tejon
Ranch.
But th e manner i s v e ry re m in isc en t o f Franois B ret H a rte 's method
o f d e a lin g w ith Spanish C a lifo rn ia n legend and in c id e n t b efo re th e day o f
14
No f e a tu r e o f M rs. A u s tin 's s to r y , however, can be d e te c te d in
S t i t h Thompson, T ales of th e N orth American In d ian s (Cambridge, M ass., 1930).
34
h is phenomenal suooess w ith "The Luck o f Soaring Camp."
For H arte was
enamored of th e d re a ry , l e is u r e l y l i f e of Spanish C a lifo rn ia and put
h i s love down in many an I r v in g - lik e s k e tc h .
And, although M rs. A u stin
does n o t achieve th e q u a lity o f hazy , i d y l l i c rem inisoence c h a ra c te r­
i s t i c o f I r v in g , she does throw stro n g rom antio lo c a l c o lo rin g over th e
liv e s and n a tu re s o f h er unusual c h a r a c te r s .
Looking over Mary A u s tin 's s to r y p ro d u ctio n from 1892 t o 1904 —
one s to r y d a ted 1908 has a ls o been in elu d ed — one fin d s n o th in g o f g re a t
o r i g i n a l i t y or power.
Her f i r s t p u b lish e d s to r y (1892) i s lo c a l c o lo r
romance, doing fo r C a lifo rn ia what Mary W ilkins Freeman
beginning t o
do fo r New England, and what B ret H arte had a lre a d y done f o r C a lif o r n ia .
In 1897, she was follo w in g th e fa s h io n o f K ipling and perhaps of Owen
W iste r, emphasizing th e v i r i l i t y of th e West and attem p tin g th e to n e of
mocking detachm ent.
From t h a t p o in t u n t i l 1903, she wavered between
K ipling*8 c a su a l shookingiess and th e se n tim e n ta l modes of th e lo c a l
c o lo ris ts .
Sometimes she emphasizes th e c r u e l beauty of th e d e s e rt c o u n try
o r th e h a rsh v i r i l i t y o f W estern l i f e ; sometimes she s e n tim e n ta liz e s n o b le ,
h e ro io s e l f - s a c r i f i c e as p ra c tic e d by In d ian s and h a lf-b re e d s ; sometimes
she becomes alm ost m y s tio a lly enamored o f th e t r u e f a i t h , p ie ty , and
honor of sim ple sheep-herding f o l k .
power o f h e r d e s c rip tio n s .
The one o r ig in a l elem ent i s th e
The s t o r i e s , fo r a l l t h e i r weakness and gen­
e r a l im ita tiv e q u a lity , show Mary A u s tin 's power o f landscape p o r tr a y a l,
in which she undoubtedly follow ed John M uir, alth o u g h n o t s la v is h ly .
she had a lre a d y proved h e r o r i g i n a l i t y in t h a t genre w ith The Tend o f
L i t t l e R ain.
For
35
Of The Basket Woman,
l i t t l e need he s a id .
o o lle c tia n o f s t o r i e s la r g e ly f o r c h ild re n ,
Some of th e s t o r i e s d e a l -with In d ian l i f e , and th e r e
i s no doubt th a t M rs. A u stin had picked up from Faiubes and Shoshones in
th e Owens V a lley oountry th e ta g s o f legend and lo o a l in c id e n t t h a t serve
as th e b a s is fo r th e s e t a l e s .
The legends o f Tavwots th e R a b b it, o f th e
C o y o te -S p irit, and of th e b rin g in g o f f i r e by th e Coyote a re t r e a t e d .
The
immense p o p u la rity o f K ip lin g 's Jungle Books (1894 and 1895) and J u s t So
S to r ie s (1902) undoubtedly in flu en c ed h e r t o pu t h e r r a th e r meager knowl­
edge o f In d ian anim al lo r e in to s t o r i e s .
In a second group, th e re i s r a th e r e la b o ra te p e r s o n if ic a tio n o f
v a rio u s elem ents in n a tu r e — a stream , a g l a o ie r , and t r e e s .
These a re
e n te r ta in in g b u t n o t d is tin g u is h e d c h ild r e n 's s t o r i e s , w ith e x c e lle n t
n a tu re d e s c rip tio n and c o n sid e ra b le m o ra liz a tia n , th e l a t t e r being due,
no doubt, to th e a u th o r 's i n t e r e s t in th e work o f John Muir and th e con­
s e rv a tio n movement in g e n e ra l — an i n t e r e s t a lre a d y no ted i n connection
w ith same o f her o th er s to r ie s of t h i s p e rio d .
A lso m o ra lis tic and propa­
g a n d i s t s is a s to ry o f th e feud between In d ia n s and w h ites i n an e a r l i e r
day and th e undying lo y a lty o f an Indian boy t o th e p a ct o f frie n d s h ip
made w ith a w hite boy.
The n a t u r i s t 's power o f d e s c rip tio n i s th e one
t r u l y o r ig in a l q u a lity t h a t shin es through th e book.
The poems of Mary A u s tin 's e a r ly p e rio d a re q u ite u n d is tin g u is h e d .
A p parently, because th e y a re so s c a tte r e d in tim e and in medium o f p u b li­
c a tio n , th ey had in c id e n ta l o r ig i n .
15
On th e w hole, th e y a re d e r iv a tiv e ,
Mary A u stin , The Bask e t Woman, A Book of F a n c ifu l T ales f o r
C h ild ren (Boston and New York, 1904).
“
36
im ita tiv e , and fe e b le •
" L i t t l e Light MoOcasin"^® has an en ch an tin g , i f
sim p le, rhythms
L i t t l e L ight Mo«o&3in swings i n h er b a s k e t,
Woven o f -willow and sinew o f d e e r,
Rooked by th e b re e ze s and n ursed by th e pine t r e e ,
W onderful th in g s a re t o see and t o h e a r.
"N ight Wind, Awake 1 " ^ i s a vigorous poem which makes use o f an obvious
d evice of L o n g fello w 's, "in crem en tal thought rhythm s" as M rs. A ustin was
t o c a l l th e device la te r * 18
On th e musky soented meadows,
On th e m a n y -lilie d meadows.
On th e c h i l l y mountain meadows where th e th r o a ty h y las blooms.
To th e damp and dusky meadows,
To th e w illo w -sk irte d meadows,
To go w alking in th e meadows w ith th e p le a s a n t Night Wind th e r e .
Mrs.
A ustin seems, in t h i s e a r ly p e rio d , to have ventured
f i e l d o f s o c ia l problems more in p o e try
i n to th e
th a n in p ro se . "Inyo"-*-® has th e
dubious d i s tin c tio n of being perhaps th e o n ly poem in th e E nglish language
in which a r iv e r i s asked t o leave i t s bed and w ater a d e s e r t v a lle y .
The l a s t lin e s read*
Forego, 0 R iv e r, a l l th e wrong you do h e r [th e v a ll e y ] .
H astin g your w aters t o th e b i t t e r lake
[Owens},
Rise from your read y narges and subdue h e r ,
So s h a l l th e land be f e r t i l e f o r your sake.
land of Sunshine, X (1899), 261. " . . . ' L i t t l e Light Moccasin*
has been re p rin te d a l l over th e c o u n try ." — C. F. Lummis, "Western L e tte r s ,"
land of Sunshine, XIV (1901), 392-394. This is d i f f i c u l t t o v e r if y . The
poem appears in no index a f t e r 1900.
17 Out W est, XX (1904), 318.
18
Mary A u stin , " In tro d u c tio n ," American In d ian Love L y ric s , ed .
by N e llie Barnes (New York, 1925).
19 Mary A u stin , "In y o ," Overland M onthly, XXXIV (1899), 49.
37
"A Pioneer"*® r e l a t e s , in m eter and s ta n s a -fo rm re m in isc en t of S ir W alter
S c o tt’ s "L ochinvar," though n o t e x a c tly th e same, how Goodhope oame from
th e oustom -ridden Old World to th e New, w re stle d w ith th e land, subdued
i t , and liv e d t o h e a r h im se lf s c o rn fu lly r e f e r r e d t o as "old Goodhope, th e
P io n e e r."
"The Young L e a d e r i n d i r e o t l y ohides th e people fo r th e s lo th ­
f u ln e s s , th e " p rid e fu l s o p h is tr ie s o f e a s e ," th e lag g in g s te p , and t e l l s
how th e land needs a hero "whose h e a r t s h a ll w ith th e la n d ’s h e a rt b e a t."
There i s prophecy o f God’s sending such a le a d e r t o make amends f o r a l l
th e "choosings gone a m iss."
As p o e try i t , to o , i s u n d istin g u ish e d , b u t
i t i s v alu ab le as e a r ly evidence o f M rs. A u s tin 's lean in g tow ards th e
r o le o f s o c ia l p ro p h e te ss.
A n o te o f s c o rn fu l w rath comes in to th r e e
o th e r poems in s p ire d by th e Boer Ufar in South A fric a .
"The Feet o f th e
Young Men," "The Burgher’s W ife," and "Gods o f th e Saxon"22 a re v ig o ro u s
b u t crude e f f o r ts in v e rs e .
A ll use th e m eter of Tennyson’s "Looksley
H all" and a K ip lin g -lik e idiom t o e x o o ria te im p erialism and prophesy
doom f o r th e oppressors o f baokward p e o p le s.
The id e a s , o f oo u rse, a re
th e re v e rs e o f K ip lin g ’s id e a s upon th e "w hite man’s burden":
But th e White C h ris t he is low ly, he h a th th o rn s about h is brow,
He h ath sorrow ed, he h a th s u ffe re d , — Lord, what boots th y sorrow now?
And is i t you, brave England, t h a t h o ld s us i n th e pen —
Making war on wives end c h ild re n , sin c e you cannot match our men?
W ill you swallow up our n a tio n , make our name a s nought, you th in k ?
By th e liv in g God o f Dutchmen, you s h a l l spew th e b ro th you drink.*®
20 Independent, IX II (1907), 40.
21 Out W est, m i (1902), 68.
22 land o f Sunshine, XII (1900), 139* I b id . . XV (1901), 423-434*
Independent, L II (1900), 996. " . . . ’The F e e t o f t h e Young Men’ ranks
among th e b e s t v e rse c a lle d out by our reoenb w ars . • . " — C. F . Lummis,
"Western L e tte r s ," Land of Sunshine, XIV (1901), 392.
23
Mary A u stin , "Gods o f th e Saxon," lo o , p i t .
38
Airs. A u s tin 's p r o te s ts , o f co u rse, have t o be see n a g a in s t th e background
o f K ip lin g 's "B allad o f E ast and W est," Henry Blake P u l l e r 's The New F lag
(1899), and W illiam Vaughn Moody's "Ode in Time of H e s ita tio n " (1900).
Like Moody, t u t u n lik e F u lle r , M rs. A ustin a p p ea rs nob t o have been d i s tu m b e d by th e American adventure in to Cuba.
In th e se e a r ly p ie c e s o f Mary A u stin th e r e is more anger th a n
p o e try .
Her b e st work in p o e try was t o come much l a t e r w ith h e r champion­
in g o f f r e e v e rs e .
The f i r s t work o f Mary A ustin -which oan be c a lle d a novel is
I s id r o ,
24
an h i s t o r i c a l romance.
I t i s d i f f i c u l t t o determ ine j u s t what
im pulsion th e r e was toward th e w ritin g o f t h i s work.
P robably th e lo re
th a t Mary Hunter had pioked up from G eneral Beale about th e e a r ly h is to r y
o f C a lifo rn ia was s t i l l v e ry much in h er mind; and t h a t lo re had been un­
doub ted ly added t o in l a t e r y e a rs .
Residence a t Carmel could have given
h e r th e im petus, f o r much o f th e a c tio n ta k e s p la c e a t th e San C arlos
25
M issio n , n o t f a r from th e p re se n t s i t e o f C arm el.
The p e re n n ia l popu26
l a r i t y o f Ramona (1884), by Helen Hunt Jack so n , may have prompted Mrs.
24
Mary A u stin , Is id r o (Boston and New York, 1905).
25
I s id r o , however, was begun a t l e a s t by th e summer o f 1900 or
1901 ( o f . E a rth H orizon, p.297) and Airs. A u stin im plies t h a t she went t o
M onterey, n e a r Carmel, fa r th e express purpose o f working an I s id r o . This
was s e v e r a l years b e fo re she to o k up permanent re sid en c e in Carmel.
26 There have been, sin ce 1884, one hundred and t h i r t y - f i v e r e ­
p r in tin g s o f Airs. Jao k sa n 's romance; th e e d itio n o f 1935 was o f 50,000
c o p ie s . — A. H. Quinn, American F io tio n (New York, 1936), p .3 3 2 . Mary
A u stin , review ing a new e d itio n o f Ramona i n 1932, o a lle d i t r i c h , f a i t h f u l ,
genuine, and h eld t h a t i t p o rtray ed th e l i f e of th e sheep-herding days and
o f th e S panish descendants o f the Co n q u istad o res a s " f a i t h f u l l y and no more
m elo d ram atically o r ro m a n tic a lly th a n t h a t tim e made a llo w ab le or n e c e s sa ry ."
— Alary A u s tin , [rev iew of Ramona] , New Mexico Q u a rte rly , I I (1932), 345-346.
39
A u stin t o t r y her hand a t a romance w ith a C a lifo r n ia background.
Even
U o r r is 's n a t u r a l i s t i c n o v e l The O ctopus, in i t s r o m a n tic iz in g o f c e r t a in
e p ic q u a l i t i e s o f C a lif o r n ia , may have been a s tim u lu s , and i t i s p o s s ib le
th a t th e p u r s u it scen e in McTeague c o n tr ib u te d som ething t o a lik e sc en e in
Mrs. A u s t in 's work.
The book appeared a s one book in a v e r it a b l e d e lu g e o f
h i s t o r i c a l rom ances, and b e lo n g s in s p i r i t w ith Mrs. A u s t in 's s t o r i e s w hich
are in t h e t r a d it io n o f r o m a n tic iz e d lo c a l c o lo r .
Whatever th e m otive or
u r g e , th e romance gave her o p p o r tu n ity t o d e s c r ib e th e e a r l i e r l i f e o f th e
'west and, in doing s o , t o throw i t a g a in s t a p h y s ic a l background which she
so w e l l knew how t o h a n d le .
And s tr a n g e ly enough, in t h i s romance w ith i t s
h ero in e in d i s g u is e , i t s m elodram atic a b d u c tio n , i t s l o s t h e i r , i t s d e s c r ip ­
t io n s o f a F ra n cisca n m is s io n in th e days b e fo re th e s e c u la r i z a t io n , and i t s
p o r tr a y a ls o f S p a n ia rd s, I n d ia n s , and American tra p p e r and woodsman t y p e s ,
Mrs. A u s t in 's d ia lo g u e and c h a ra cter-d ra w in g are b e t t e r th a n in alm ost any
n o v e l she w r o te .
In f a c t , i t i s her on ly n o v e l w ith o u t a w e ig h ty or an
obscure t h e s i s .
The tim e o f th e s to r y i s
s h o r tly b e fo r e 1833, fo r in th e background
i s th e c o n sta n t t h r e a t by th e R epu blic o f M exico t o s e c u la r iz e th e Fran­
c is c a n m is s io n s in C a lif o r n ia , and s e c u la r i z a t io n to o k p la c e in 1833.
Be­
tw een Padre V ic e n te S aaved ra, head o f a l l th e m is s io n s o f A lta C a lif o r n ia ,
w ith h ead q u arters a t San C arlos (n ea r C arm el), and Don Jesu s C a s tr o , Comondante or a lc a ld e o f M onterey, w it h in w alking d is ta n c e o f San C a r lo s , th e r e
i s j e a l o u s y , th e e c c l e s i a s t i c f e a r in g th e encroachm ent of th e c i v i l power
27
For i n t e r e s t i n g l i g h t upon fir s . A u s t in 's u se o f a lo c a l in c id e n t
a s t h e b a s is o f a s u b - p lo t , se e H elen 'M. D o y le , Mary A u s t in , Honan o f Genius
(Hew York, 1 9 3 9 ), p . 212.
There i s a s t r i k i n g e r r o r in Q uinn, op. c i t . , p . 69 8 . "I s id r o
(1905) i s an h i s t o r i c a l romance o f what i s now new M exico ( s i c "] , b e fo r e
th e F r a n c isc a n m is s io n s were s e c u la r iz e d ."
40
tinder th e "strum pet R ep u b lio ."
e f f ic ie n c y .
The M ission a t San C arlos is a model of
7/hen I s id r o Esoobar, a o a b a lle ro o f fin e b lo o d , from same
m iles in la n d , f i r s t a r r iv e s th e re t o b eg in h is n o v i t i a t e , he i s shown
th e o a th e d r a l, th e sm ithy, th e shops, th e homes of th e neophytes} a l l
i s ap p aren t e f f ic ie n c y and in d u s trio u s n e s s .
a ls o in a n o th e r sid e o f th e p io tu r e :
But th e a u th o r i s in te r e s te d
th e d is c o n te n t of th e Indiems -who
a re k ept th e r e a g a in s t t h e i r "wishes, t h e i r d eep -seated unconcern f o r
C h ris tie m ity , th e prevalenee o f e sc a p e s, p u r s u its , -whippings.
Indeed,
E l Zarzo (th e B r ia r ) , or Z a rz ito , a s he (sh e) i s sometimes c a ll e d , -who
i s th e h e ro in e in d is g u is e as a boy, r i s e s t o in d ig n a tio n i n "noble savage"
manner a t th e thought o f th e s u b je c tio n o f th e In d ia n s.
"But why do th e y look them up? I s God g lo r if ie d because th e re
i s a ro o f between me and th e sky? . . . And what have th e y g o t by
serv in g God? Food in t h e i r b e l l i e s ? Even s o . I have seen w ild
In d ia n s i n th e m ountains. In th e h i l l s th e r e is n o t alw ays food
enough, b u t o fte n th e r e i s more and th e p le a su re o f f e a s tin g . . . .
h e re i s a w hip p in g -p o st, so i f a man works n o t he i s flo g g e d ; b u t
in th e f o r e s t i f a man works n o t he goes empty, and t h a t i s th e
g re a te r p a in . They serve God, say you, fo r t h e i r s o u l 's s a lv a tio n .
But my m other served God in th e h i l l s , and th e p r i e s t who came a f t e r
she d ie d • • • s a id she had o f a s u re ty seen s a lv a tio n ."28
Z a rz ito goes on t o prophesy th e d e fe a t of th e m issio n s.
" • . • fifte e n
liv e d in t h i s pl&oe, and i s now in
th e h i l l s more w ild and cunning th a n any o th e r.
So w i l l a l l th e s e b e ."29
But t h i s i s th e only in s ta n c e o f s l i g h t e s t hum anitarian p r o te s t in th e
book, a fa o t which in d ic a te s t h a t however i n f l u e n t i a l Ramona may have
been in a g e n e ra l se n s e , Mrs. A u stin was fo llo w in g a more re o e n t rom antic
fa s h io n .
The F h is to r io a l background" is m erely a p ic tu re sq u e s e t t i n g ; i t
A u stin , I s i d r o , p»122.
23 I b i d . , p .123.
41
does n o t fu r n is h th e r e a l m a te ria l of th e n a r r a t iv e .
With t h i s s e t t i n g a h ig h ly im probable romance i s t o l d .
Is id ro ,
an h is m y t o th e M ission t o beg in h is t r a i n i n g a s a p r i e s t , meets
Z a rz ito , th in k in g Z a rz ito i s a boy.
v o te d ly .
Z a rz ito fo llo w s him, lo y a lly , de­
"When I s id r o i s im prisoned on a f a l s e a o o u satio n o f m urder,
Z a rz ito t r i e s t o clim b a v in e to th e p ris o n window and i s d e te c te d by
a g o ssip y woman who in w re s tlin g w ith Z a rz ito d isc o v e rs th a t Z a rz ito
is a g i r l .
Z a rz ito prom ises t o e x p la in , b u t b e fo re she oan do so she
i s whisked away by a man on a h o rse , and ta k en a two d a y s1 jo u rn e y in la n d
t o a ren eg ad es' h id e -o u t.
f a th e r .
Her abduotar is Masoado, f r ie n d of h e r f o s t e r -
Masoado has alw ays known th a t Z a rz ito is a g i r l , and has th o u g h t
t h a t I s id r o has known as much, end th a t Z a rz ito has liv e d as a w ife w ith
I s id r o .
Masoado'8 a tte m p t a t sed u o tian f a i l s .
I s i d r o , being re le a s e d
from p ris o n , o rg an izes p u r s u it; Masoado, now lame, has had t o leave Zar­
z ito behind and ta k e t o th e woods lik e a w ild an im al.
fo re st f ir e .
He p e rish e s i n a
Z a rz ito i s th e long-sought d au g h ter o f Dan Jesus C astro
and Ysabel Ramirez, and h e i r t o th e fo rtu n e s o f th e Ramirez fam ily in
Mexico and S pain.
Z a r z ito '8 d o g -lik e d e v o tio n to I s id r o i s rew arded by
m arriage to him; th e e c c le s ia s tic s re le a s e him from h is p r i e s t l y vow, be­
lie v in g th a t a s manager of th e Ramirez e s t a t e s he w i l l do th e Franoisoans
more s e rv ic e and enhance t h e i r p re s tig e more th a n i f he were t o rem ain a
sim ple p r i e s t .
The a u th o r was n o t co n ten t w ith th e p u rs u it o f one c rim in a l in to
th e rough co u n try e a s t o f M onterey.
Juan R uiz, p e rp e tra to r of th e crim e
w ith which I s id r o was ch arg ed , i s pursued by F a th e r Saavedra and an In d ia n
tr a o k e r .
I t is a r a th e r m elodram atic ch ase, ending i n E l Poso de Los Lobos
(th e p lao e o f th e w olves}, a canyon w ith b e a s t s ' l a i r s up and down i t s s id e s .
42
"The rem inder o f th e l a i r i s s tr o n g in a s tr ic k e n man, — t o draw t o
c o v e r , l i e c l o s e , keep dark; t o have th e se n se and n e a rn ess o f th e e a r th ." 30
The p o r tr a y a l o f th e te r r o r o f Juan R u iz , th e sim ple M exican h e r d e r , and
th e d e s c r ip t io n o f th e canyon a r e v i v i d .
L ikew ise t h e f o r e s t f i r e in
w hich Mascado p e r is h e s i s e x c e e d in g ly w e l l h an d led .
The d e t a i l s o f th e
p r o g r e ss o f th e f i r e , th e d e s c r ip t io n o f t h e cou n try which i t e n v e lo p s ,
th e a ccou n t o f t h e m ig ra tio n o f th e an im als b e fo r e i t , th e shocked sen se
o f th e n a t u r is t who d ep lo res t h i s w aste and ravage - - a l l make t h i s th e
h ig h p o in t o f th e book.
In d eed , t h e book i s t o be remembered a lm o st
w h o lly f o r i t s s c e n ic p o r tr a y a l and f o r i t s d e s c r ip t io n o f th e l i f e around
th e m is s io n , w ith i t s Spanish atm osphere.
I s id r o g iv e s evid en ce o f h a s te or la c k o f s k i l l in c o m p o sitio n . F re­
q u e n tly th e n a r r a tiv e f a l l s in t o a t e le s c o p e d s t y l e which r esem b les more
an e x p o s it o r y s y n o p s is o f a s to r y th an a dram atic or im m ediate p r e sen -
30
I b i d . , p . 153. Two e lem en ts in Robinson J e f f e r s ' The Y/omen a t
P o in t Sur 0 .9 2 7 ) in d ic a t e a s l i g h t p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t J e f f e r s was in flu e n c e d
by Mary A u stin :
( l ) In J e f f e r s ' poem, B a r c la y 's w andering o f f t o d ie in
t h e h i l l s i s s l i g h t l y r e m in isc e n t o f Juan R u iz 's d ea th in th e canyon; (2 )
J e f f e r s e x p la in s B a r c la y 's power over h i s d i s c i p l e s a s th e power or s p i r i t
o f th e c o a s t r e g io n working through B a r c la y . For d is c u s s io n o f t h i s s e c ­
ond elem en t in J e f f e r s ' poem, s e e Lawrence C. P o w e ll, Robinson J e f f e r s :
t h e Man and H is Work (Los A n g e le s , 1 9 3 4 ), p . 6 9 . This id e a , how ever, i f
i t owes a n y th in g a t a l l t o Uary A u s tin , ’would have come m ain ly from la t e r
works th an I s i d r o . D e sp ite th e f a c t t h a t J e f f e r s and Uary A u stin were
b oth c i t i z e n s o f Carmel from 1914 t o 1918, th e y were a p p a r e n tly n o t c lo s e
a c q u a in ta n c es a t t h a t t im e . Mrs. A u stin seems t o have met J e f f e r s f i r s t
a t Mrs. l a b e l Luhan's in T aos. (See E arth H orizon , p . 3 5 4 .) Her on ly
p u b lic m ention o f J e f f e r s i s b r i e f . She c a l l s him "a poet o f Greek d i ­
m en sio n s." - - "On D isc o v e r in g G r e a tn e ss," Saturday Review o f L it e r a t u r e ,
VI (1 9 2 9 ), 5 9 0 . S tr a n g e ly , in th e v a u lt in Mrs. A u s tin 's house i s a copy
o f her own n o v e l S ta r r y A.dventure (1931) inscribed"! "To- Una and Robin
who make so la rg e a s p la sh on my h o r iz o n ."
\
43
ta tia n .
For example, T sab el Ramirez h as 136611 b e tro th e d a g a in s t h e r w i l l
t o a man she does n o t lo v e , and th e a u th o r oanoludes h er account o f th e
e v en ts lead in g t o th e wedding a s fo llo w s :
"She had one storm y hour w ith
h e r f a th e r , a s to le n one w ith h er lo v e r , and a fte rw a rd subm itted t o what
w as, f o r h e r , th e w ill o f God.
They were a l l f o r p rid e , th o se dons of
New Spain, fo r name and honor and b ra v e ry ; but in f a c t th e y were a sim ple
f o l k . "31 A lthough th e passage appears in a c h a p te r devoted t o e x p o sitio n
o f antecedent e v e n ts , th e re a d e r may s t i l l oom plain t h a t he would lik e
some n a r r a tiv e p re s e n ta tio n o f t h a t p r id e , honor, and b ra v e ry , nob m erely
th e a u th o r’ s statem ent t h a t th e y e x is te d .
A nother obvious f a u l t i s clum­
s in e s s o f p l o t t i n g , b u t t h i s does n o t d e te r a re a d e r who i s i n t e n t upon
th e d e s c r ip tio n s .
Except in I s i d r o , Mary A ustin h a s shown l i t t l e i n t e r e s t in th e
f r o n t i e r woodsman.
Lebecque, th e tr a p p e r , i s of th e ty p e , a lth o u g h he i s
d eo id ed ly n o t ro m a n tic iz ed .
The d e s c rip tio n o f h is dw elling i s i n keep­
in g w ith h is g e n e ra l su sp ic io u s n e s s , s e o r e tiv e n e s s , and i l l n a tu r e :
The o u te r w a lls were ouxmingly p ieced out by w illow w ith e s ,
t o whioh th e v in es had ta k e n k in d ly ; a rod away i t looked t o be
a l l n a tu r e . I t was a s sa fe and dark a s a l a i r ; th e f lo o r of
stamped e a r th had a musty dampness; i t sm elt lik e a f o x 's e a r th .
Bearskins d ry in g in th e sun stan k v e ry v i l e l y , and dogs lo lle d
hun tin g f le a s on th e f l o o r . 32
The o h ild t h a t Lebecque has re a re d is h is o p p o s ite .
This noble savage o f
unknown parentage is d e sc rib e d in a manner t h a t r e c a l l s James Fenimore
Cooper:
He was s l i g h t l y b u i l t fo r h is a g e , which looked to be f i f t e e n ,
and was o lo th e d f o r th e most p a rt in v e ry good woven s t u f f , ou t a f t e r
31
P *6 1 *
32 i b i d . , p*39.
44
no fa s h io n bub convenience, wore m ocassins, and about h i s o alv es
s t r i p s o f buckskin wrapped many tim e s , In d ian fa sh io n . He had
b la c k h a i r cropped a t th e s h o u ld e rs , and f a l l i n g so as t o leave
v i s i b l e only a t h i n d is k of f a c e , dark and rud d y -o o lo red . He
stood s t r a i g h t l y , and had th e f i n e , le v e l-lo o k in g eyes o f an
In d ia n , though no In d ian as was p la in t o s e e . About h is brows
h e wore a ra g o f red s i l k , i n which were tucked v in e le a v e s f o r
c o o ln e s s ; under t h i s penthouse h is eyes were a l e r t and u n frig h te n e d
a s a b i r d ' s . 53
The w o o d -o ra ftin ess of Z a rz ito a ls o reminds one of C ooper's c h a ra c te rs*
I s id r o i s , on th e whole, a moderate sucoess as a h i s t o r i c a l
n o v e l, and no more u n d istin g u ish e d th a n dozens o f works o f i t s genre in
i t s tim e .
Mary A ustin served her a p p re n tic e s h ip , th e n , t o B ret H arte,
K ip lin g , Owen W ister, John M uir, and E rn est Thompson Setom.
Her e a r ly
s to r ie s b e a r th e stamp of e ith e r th e lo o a l c o lo r is ts of one school or
a n o th e r, o r K ipling and W ister.
Her e a r l i e s t novel i s a h i s t o r i c a l
romanoe of th e kind t h a t was fa s h io n a b le i n th e e a rly y ears of th e c e n tu ry .
Her poems a re p u re ly d e riv a tiv e and im ita tiv e .
Over a l l h e r e a r ly w orks,
however, she threw an e x c e lle n t landscape c o lo rin g .
Her s k i l l in d e s c rip ­
tio n owes something t o John M uir, b u t she re v e a ls th e promise of g re a t
o r i g i n a l i t y in t h i s v e in .
Much o f h e r im ita tiv e n e ss and am ateu rish n ess
w ill be seen t o disappear when, under th e p re s su re of p e rso n a l m a la d ju st­
ment, she began t o th in k o f women and t h e i r problems and began w r itin g
f i c t i o n o f purpose.
33 I b i d . , p p .3 6 -3 7 .
CHAPTER I I I
THE MARRIAGE PROBLEM
D espite th e f a c t t h a t Mary A u stin was known d u rin g h e r life tim e
and p ra is e d a f t e r h e r d e ath as an a rd e n t, p r a c t i c a l s u f f r a g is t and advo­
c a te o f 'women's r i g h t s , th e r e i s l i t t l e evidenoe t h a t she was abundantly
a c tiv e in d r iv e s , m eetings, parades, o r o rg a n is a tio n s .
B. Anthony.
She was no Susan
Her w r itin g , however, o a r r ie s from b eg in n in g t o end a deep
obsession concerning woman's r ig h t s ,
What Mary A u stin has to say upon
th a t q u e stio n i s roughly d iv is ib le in to two h ead in g s.
F i r s t , she pleads
f o r e q u a lity f o r women, n o t a t th e b a llo t box, n o t m erely b efo re th e law,
but i n th e eyes o f men; t h a t i s , she a sk s t h a t woman be p e rm itted t o liv e
as human b e in g f i r s t and on ly sec o n d a rily a s woman.
Mary A u stin pleaded
f o r i n t e l l e c t u a l re c o g n itio n o f th e i n j u s t i c e s done women, n o t f o r prac­
t i c a l reform s o r mere ohanges in the r u l e s .
That i s th e theme o f th i s
c h a p te r.
Mary A u stin was bora in to an e ra o f a g ita ti o n f o r women's r i g h t s .
The h is to r y o f t h a t movement i s tr e a te d in d e t a i l in numerous w orks,*
and th e p o in t t h a t Mary A ustin was trem endously in flu en c ed b y , and oaught
up i n , th e movement needs no la b o rin g .
As th e d au g h ter o f an a rd e n t f o l­
lower o f Frances W illa rd and Susan B. Anthony, as f r ie n d of th e Bohemian
George S te r lin g and th e ic o n o c la s tic Jaok London, a s fr ie n d o f th e Fabians
* For exam ple, E. C. S tan to n , S . B. Anthony, M. J . Gage, and I . H.
H arper, e d i t o r s , H is to ry o f Woman Suffrage (R ochester and New York, 18811922), 6 v o l s . j R achel C. S trao h ey , riThe C ause"; a S h o rt H is to ry of th e
Women's Movement i n G reat B r ita in (London, 1928).
46
George Bernard Shaw and M rs. B ea trice Webb, a s p a r tic ip a n t in th e f i n a l
e f f o r t in America le a d in g t o th e Woman's S u ffrag e Amendment, Mary A u stin
was n a tu r a lly fo llo w in g a tre n d o f h e r tim e s , as d id many an i n t e l l e c t u a l
and lite ra ry -m in d e d woman.
Mary A u s tin 's a b id in g concern about e q u a lity f o r women in human
s o c ie ty had a deeper m o tiv a tio n th a n can be ex p lain ed by th e sim ple f a c t
t h a t she liy e d in th e e ra when Susan B. Anthony brought h e r long crusade
t o a su c c e ss fu l c o n clu sio n .
Mrs. A u stin h e r s e lf thought t h a t she "in h e r­
i te d " fem inism from h e r p io n eerin g fem ale a n c e s to rs ) and h e r e x p lan a tio n
i s to o r a t i o n a l t o be w holly denied .
She was ex trem ely proud o f one an­
c e s to r , P o lly McAdams, h e r m aternal great-g ran d m o th er, th e v e ry p ro to ty p e
of p io n eer woman, re s o u rc e fu l, s e l f - r e l i a n t , a s s e r tiv e , and r e a l i s t i c .
When th e P o lly McAdamses went in to th e Middle W est, M rs. A u stin th o u g h t,
th e y "were tr a in e d t o win th e land from savage hordes and t o walk d is ­
c r e e tly b e sid e th e i r husbands in th e h ig h e st o f f ic e s
t o which th e y
could be c a ll e d , women and la d ie s b o th ."
The ex ig en c ie s o f p io n e er l i f e ta u g h t th e P o lly McAdamses and
su ccessiv e g e n eratio n s a p rin c ip le t h a t was put t o use in Mary A u s tin 's
tim e t
t h a t a woman was im portant f o r what she could aohieve in h er own
r ig h t and n o t m erely f o r what em otional e f f e c t she could produce on a
man.
In s h o r t, a t r a d i t i o n o f woman's u se fu ln e ss was b u i l t u p , to h e lp
c o u n te ra c t th e much o ld e r t r a d i t i o n of woman's p re o io u sn e ss•
In p io n eer
l i f e , a woman was u s e f u l, s e l f - r e l i a n t , capable o f work, en d , a s Mary
A u stin was o fte n t o say l a t e r , she got on th e le v e l of e lem en tal th in g s ,
2
Mary A u stin , E a rth H orizon (Boston end New York, 1932), pp*15-16.
47
proved h e r s e l f , lik e p rim itiv e woman, a s t u t e , le v e l-h e a d e d , cap ab le, to u g h .
And alth o u g h p io n e er woman s t i l l su ffe re d from being approached and e v a l­
u a ted in term s of th e t r a d i t i o n of th e p re c io u sn e ss o f woman, n e v e rth e le s s
on the f r o n t i e r th e r e were growing up t r a d i t i o n s and e v alu a tio n s which
would enable th e women o f Mary A u s tin 's g e n e ra tio n t o a s s e r t t h e i r r i g h t
t o be judged r a t i o n a l l y f o r what th e y could accom plish r a th e r th a n sen­
tim e n ta lly f o r th e e f f e c t th e y could produce on th e male mind.
T h is, th e n ,
was th e c e n tr a l in s ig h t handed dom t o h e r a s th e essence of a l l th e ex­
p e rien ce o f a l l th e p io n e e r womens whp: had g o n e;b efo re h e r .
The r e v o lt o f Mary A ustin a g a in s t th e t r a d i t i o n of th e p reeio u sn ess
o f woman was accompanied by a re v u ls io n a g a in s t th e p re v a ilin g a t t i t u d e
toward widowhood.
The d e a th o f Mary H u n te r's f a t h e r , George H unter, in
1878, when Mary was te n y e ars o ld , made fo r h e r and her mother c e r ta in
c o n d itio n s , t h e i r re a c tio n t o which sometimes brought them in to aooord
b u t more o fte n widened th e r i f t between them.
M iddlew estem s o c ie ty in
1878
. . . made out o f th e w if e 's economic dependence on h e r husband a
kind o f s a n c t i t y which was v io la te d by h is d e a th ; dependence th a t
made widowhood, when i t happened, l i t t l e le s s th a n im p ro b ity . At
tim e th ro u g h o u t A m erica, th e s ta tu s o f Wife and M other, always
spoken o f in o a p ita ls , was se n tim e n ta lly p re c io u s , a s ta tu s of
being tr e a s u r e d and a p a r t . There was on a l l hands a g e n eral s o o ia l
co n sp iracy t o keep th e m arried woman's sense o f h e r p recio u sn ess
i n t a c t . No m a tte r how p o o rly , through incom petence, n e g le c t, or
m isfo rtu n e , h e r husband 'p r o te c te d ' h e r , she was allow ed th e a i r s
and graces o f th e woman a p a r t; she could keep i t up in th e face of
th e most f la g r a n t v io la tio n s o f th e f a o t . Then th e blow f e l l and
th e tre a s u r e d Wife became th e poor Widow, th e o b je o t o f fam ily
bounty, n o t in fr e q u e n tly grudged, th e g r a te f u l r e c ip ie n t o f l e f t ­
o v e rs, th e h a lf-m e n ia l h e lp e r in th e households o f women whose
husbands had sim ply n o t d ie d .
^ I b i d . , p p .9 1 -9 2 .
48
Mary A u stin was sure t h a t , having been an unwanted c h ild in th e f i r s t
p la c e , and having been a rem inder to h er m other, in th e y ears o f h er
m other’s widowhood, o f a "d earer lo v e ," th e r e always remained a g u lf
fix e d between them .
I t was a kind o f tem peram ental w ithdraw al o f th e
one from th e o th e r, and i t touched ev ery r e la tio n s h ip where Mary had oc­
casio n t o q u e stio n or doubt th e p re v a ilin g v il la g e a t t i t u d e s .
Mary was
on th e s id e of e n lig h te n e d sk ep ticism and M rs. Hunter was prone t o a b id e
by th e v o ic e o f a ccep ted a t t i t u d e s .
" • • • th e fo rm ativ e, th e d ir e c ­
t io n g iv in g ite m o f h er [Mary A u s tin 's ] a d o lesc en c e , was what went on
in h er so i n a r t i c u l a t e l y about what widowhood might mean to a woman lik e
M ary's m other, th e e a r l i e s t s o o ia l re se n tm e n t, th e f i r s t oansoious c r i t i ­
cism of th e o rg a n iz a tio n of th e a d u lt l i f e . " ^
The "woman problem" to o k s t i l l deeper ro o t in Mary H u n te r's con­
scio u sn ess because o f other m aladjustm ents i n th e fa m ily .
Her e ld e r
b ro th e r, James M ilo H unter, beeame, a f t e r th e d e ath of th e f a th e r , th e
"head o f th e h o u se."
The deferenoe p aid t o t h e s l i g h t e s t whims of t h i s
male member 6 t th e household, th e fem ale su bservienoe to him sim ply be­
cause o f h is m aleness, led Mary t o a v e ry o r i t i c a l a tti tu d e tow ards "th e
ap o th eo sis o f i t s male members" by th e fa m ily .
She a ttr ib u te d t o such
personal ra n c o r a s h e r own th e d riv in g power behind many a rd e n t f e m in is ts .
The ty ra n n y of f a t h e r s , th e s a c r if ic e s made f a r th e w elfare o f boys w h ile
g i r l s wore n e g le c te d — th e se were th in g s t h a t s e t many a window-smashing
fe m in ist going.
"Women o f high in te llig e n c e and ed u o atian [sp eak in g
in tim a te ly t o each o th e r a t Women S u ffrag e co n feren ces] went w hite and
4
I b id ., p .98.
49
s ic k t e l l i n g how, in t h e i r own f a m ilie s , th e mere whim o f th e dominant
male member, even in f i e l d s which should have been exempt from h is i n t e r ­
fe re n c e , had been allow ed t o assume th e ah o le -weight o f m oral s i g n i f i ­
cance • w®
The c o n f lio t w ith her b ro th e r, mare p sy ch o lo g ical th a n o v e rt, be­
gan w ith t r i v i a l in c id e n ts suoh a s h e r wanting h e r eggs b o ile d f o r fo u r
m in u tes, one minute lo n g er
th a n h i s .
Mother and b ro th e r combined fa ro e s
t o make h e r f e e l t h a t she was d i f f e r e n t , t h a t she d id not "have any f e e l ­
in g fo r what a HOME should be,"® t h a t i n h e r im p lied ch allen g e
o f th e
a u th o r ity o f h e r b ro th e r she was n o t being p ro p e rly la d y - lik e .
The con­
f l i c t simmered through c o lle g e days when th e b ro th e r reo e iv ed f i r s t con­
s id e r a tio n a t every t u r n .
I t was th e b r o th e r 's supremacy in th e m o th e r's
esteem t h a t le d th e fa m ily , a g a in s t a l l a d v io e , t o leave I l l i n o i s and ta k e
up a hom esteader's claim in C a lif o r n ia .
Years l a t e r , when Mary advocated
an i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d , p ro fe s s io n a liz e d h an d lin g o f dom estic problems —
such problems a s were l a t e r handled by ju v e n ile c o u r ts , p ro b a tio n o f f i c e r s ,
and c o u rts o f dom sstio r e la tio n s — h er mother and h e r b ro th e r alm ost
shunned h e r beoause o f th e wickedness o f h e r p ro p o sa l.
And mother and
b ro th e r combined a g a in s t her t o ta k e a san ctim o n io u s, hush-mouthed a t t i ­
tude tow ards Mary when M ary's f i r s t (and only) c h ild tu rn e d out t o be
m en tally a f f l i c t e d .
"My mother w ro te , ' I d o n 't know what you've done,
d au g h ter, t o have such a judgment upon you.*
I t was th e l a s t word t h a t
® I b i d . , p .1 2 8 . M rs. A ustin oould have m entioned, b u t d id n o t , t h a t
lik e personal” m otives drove Mary W o llsta n e c ra ft in to fem inism .
6 I b i d . , p.129.
50
passed between us*"
7
The mother d ie d b e fo re th e t r u t h about M ary's e h ild ~
th a t i t s a f f l i c t i o n was due t o causes beyond Mary A u s tin 's o o n tro l — was
known.
And beoause h e r b ro th e rs never made any g e stu re o f re lin q u is h in g
t h e i r former n o tio n t h a t somehow Mary was m orally d e se rv in g o f some pun­
ishm ent, Mary A u stin c a r r ie d h er b itte r n e s s towards h e r b ro th e rs t o th e
8
end o f h er lif e *
Her m a rria g e , to o , was q u ite u n su c c e ssfu l, a s she so fra n k ly adm its
in h e r autobiography.
She a tt r i b u t e d th e f a i l u r e t o h er h u sb an d 's inoomr-
petence and h is u n w illin g n e ss t o o o o p erate.
She went in to m arriag e, she
f e l t , w ith a determ ined and m ilit a n tl y fe m in is tic view , b u t a ls o w ith a
re a d in e ss to c o o p e ra te , in p io n eer woman fa s h io n , in th e a tta c k on th e
w ild e rn e ss.
A y e a r b e fo re h e r m arriag e, she had slapped a s tra n g e r who
had m is tre a te d h is w ife , M ary's rage having a r is e n m ainly out o f th e
knowledge th a t th e m is tre a te d w ife bore c h ild a f t e r o h ild a g a in s t h e r w ill.®
She bore S ta ffo rd A u s tin 's f a i l u r e a s a v in e y a r d is t, and s e t o f f w ith him
t o Inyo, "secure i n th e t r a d i t i o n a l p recio u sn ess of th e young w ife and
10
ex p ectan t m other."
Being th r u s t out of a h o te l in Lone P in e, beoause
h e r husband had n o t p a id th e b i l l , having t o work in a boarding-house,
having t o go t o h e r m o th er's t o l i e in , d id n o t d isco u rag e h e r; b u t h e r
husband's re fu s in g stead y employment and running h im se lf r e o k le s s ly in to
debt d id put h e r t o th in k in g .
I t was n o t th e h ard sh ip she d is lik e d , but
7 IM d«* P«257.
8
See above. C hapter I , p . 2 4.
Q
A u stin , E a rth H orizon, p p .222-223.
10 I b id * , p .2 3 2 .
51
th e huabend'8 a p p a re n t in d if fe r e n c e to h e r , h is assum ing th e male prerog­
a tiv e of p ro v id in g w ith o u t going in to d e ta i ls w ith h e r , and th e n n o t pro­
v id in g and n o t f e e lin g any n e c e s s ity of ex p lain in g idiy he could n o t o r
had n o t provided*
And she s t i l l thought h er problem eould be so lv ed by
th e a p p lic a tio n o f in te llig e n c e *
" . . • she thought t h a t i f she oould
only t a l k th in g s over w ith h e r husband . . * . ”11 But ta lk in g th in g s
over r e s u lte d on ly in h is m a in ta in in g in d iffe re n c e tow ards h e r p le a s fo r
f o r e s ig h t, p la n n in g , a common, i n t e l l i g i b l e a tta o k by th e two o f them on
t h e i r problems*
His a t t i t u d e s t i r r e d deep re sen tm e n ts, r e c a lle d t o h e r
a l l h er sp e c u la tio n about th e preoiousness of women and th e m ale's a t t i ­
tude of u n in te llig e n t p ro te c tiv e n e s s .
I t did n o t a l l u n fold i t s e l f th a t f i r s t w in te r a t G eorge's
Creek, where my husband ta u g h t, bu t prolonged i t s e l f d i s t r e s s ­
f u ll y from p o in t t o p o in t o f d e cisio n s fo ro ed by th e t o t a l want
o f c o o rd in a tio n i n th e most venerable o f th e f i d e l i t i e s o f mar­
r ia g e , th e common fr o n tin g of man and woman t o th e w ild e rn e ss .
. • . he n ev er looked w ith me a t any s in g le th in g . He n e v e r, any
more th a n he c o u ld h e lp , a ffo rd e d me a clu e a s t o where he him­
s e l f might be looking* 2
This had always been a g re a t p o in t with h e r , a p r in c ip le .
In h e r g i r l ­
hood, even, she had had a " h a lf - r e a liz e d sense t h a t th e t r u e ground o f
intim acy between men and women i s t h e i r common f i x a tio n on an undescribed
Third — a Y&y o f L if e , a c h ild , a common a tta c k upon th e W ilderness • .
•
With S ta ffo rd A u stin , th e r e was no "common a t t a c k , " no in tim acy
gained from c o o rd in a ted p lan n in g o f a tta o k ; and Mary A u s tin 's " f a ith in
th e e ffic a c y of a n i n t e l l e c t u a l un d erstan d in g ended, on th e r e a liz a ti o n
t h a t h er husband s u ffe re d no such n e e d .” 14
11 I b id . , p .2 4 0 .
12 Ib id . , p . 243.
13I b id . , p . 174.
14I b i d ., p . 242.
52
Thus f a r i t i s apparent t h a t Mary A u stin was c o n s is te n t and was an
firm ground.
Her husband had v io la te d th e profoundest attachm ent t o
p rin c ip le th a t she had — h er attachm ent to th e hammered-out co n v io tio n
t h a t m arriage was a p a rtn e rs h ip , t h a t woman’ s r ig h t s w ere, above a l l , a
p sy ch o lo g ical r e a l i t y w hich, i f s a t i s f i e d , would n o t n o i s i l y demand such
e x te rn a l th in g s as th e v o te and th e r i g h t t o do men's work; f o r Mary
A u stin ’ s feminism was never a ra b id m an-hating; i t grew o u t of a deeply in g d e s ire f o r e q u a lity through o o o p eratio n , and i t sprang s tr a ig h t
from h e r old c o n v ic tio n t h a t th e t r a d i t i o n o f woman's preoiousness was
abom inable.
This s t r a i g h t uncompromising l in e i s th e one she follow s
l a t e r when she ta k e s so much o f h e r au to b io g rap h y , sometimes perhaps un­
c o n sc io u sly , over in to h e r f i c t i o n .
But in h er autob io g rap h y , some co m p licatio n s a r i s e which lead th e
re a d e r t o doubt th e a b so lu te p u r ity of h e r m o tiv e s.
A fte r a l l , i t was th e
husband's f a ilu r e n o t m erely t o cooperate w ith h e r, b u t h is f a i l u r e t o
provide h e r a salo n in San F ran c isco or Los Angeles where she could lead
th e l i t e r a r y l i f e , t h a t caused h e r b re a k w ith him .
She complains o f th e
lu re of th e d e s e rt fo r h e r husband, a p p a re n tly f o r g e ttin g t h a t a p a r t o f
h e r uncompromising p r in c ip le was t h a t man and woman should "co n fro n t th e
w ild e rn e ss" to g e th e r .
I t appears t h a t , a f t e r a l l , co o p eratio n m eant, t o
Mary A u stin , t h a t h e r husband and she should g e t to g e th e r t o do what she
wanted t o do.
Her keen a n a ly s is o f th e rom antic f o l l y o f S. W. A u stin and
o th e r men lik e him who stay e d on th e d e s e r t, w is h fu lly w a itin g fo r a
"g re a t o p p o rtu n ity ," becomes a r a tio n a liz a ti o n of h er d e s ire t o g et away
from th e d e s e rt t o th e l i t e r a r y c e n te r s .
The r i f t grew w ider from th e
moment she f i r s t p u b lish ed a s to r y , in 1892, and a l l h e r com plaints about
h e r husband's improvidence and lack o f c o o p eratio n cannot h id e th e f a c t
53
t h a t she "was im p elled , n o t by a d e s ire t o make a success of h e r m arriag e,
h u t by th e d e s ir e t o make a name f o r h e r s e l f .
Her r e a l im pulse i s e n t i r e l y
u n d e rsta n d a b le ; th e only f a ilu r e in th e -whole a f f a i r is h e r attem pt to
r a tio n a liz e h e r s e p a ra tio n from h e r husband in term s of h is lack o f cooper­
a tio n and h is adherenoe t o th e despised t r a d i t i o n o f woman's p re c io u sn e ss.
Worst o f a l l , t h a t she d id n o t
r e a l l y d e sp ise th e t r a d i t i o n o f woman's
p re c io u sn e ss is evidenced in t h i s fra n k o o n fe ssio n , made much l a t e r in h er
life j
I came to o l a t e in to th e s o c ia l scheme t o have o ared fo r love
w ithout r e s p o n s ib il ity . And o f th e men who so e a r ly aooepted love
w ith o u t o b lig a tio n , to o many had r e je c te d o th e r th in g s along w ith
i t , t r u t h , i n t e g r i t y , in te n tio n , th e sh ared s a o r i f i o e . . . . Qnothe
w hole, what I r e g r e t i s n o t th e la c k o f a s a ti s f y i n g m arriag e, b u t
th e lo s s out o f my l i f e of th e t r a d i t i o n a l p ro te c tio n , th e c e r t i f i ­
c a tio n o f ladyhood. I have never been ta k en c are o f j and co n sid e rin g
what t h a t has meant t o women in g e n e ra l, I f e e l a lo s s in th e q u a lity
of charm and graoiousness which I am unable t o r a tio n a li z e . The ex­
p erien ce o f being competent t o m yself has been immensely w orth w hile
t o me. I t gives c l a r i t y and p o is e . But w ith o u t having had th e ex­
p erien ce o f being taken c are o f, I am u n ab le t o r e a liz e th e s i g n i f i ­
cance o f t h a t m easure. I f e e l always a l i t t l e a t a loss.-*-®
M rs. A u stin i s re p o rte d to have made e x a c tly th e same lament a t a luncheon
in Santa P e, adding t h a t , f o r in s ta n c e , she had never had a "lace n i g h t i e ."
A w ealth y gentleman to o k h e r a t h e r word and had a b e a u ti f u l lace n ig h t­
gown s e n t to h e r from a fa sh io n a b le New York e sta b lis h m e n t.
im m ediately c u t i t up and made a la c e s h ir tw a is t o f i t .
16
Mrs. A u stin
These a re indeed
s tra n g e lam ents, ir o n ic and p a th e t ic , to come from h e r who made a " p rin ­
c ip le " of o b je o tin g t o th e t r a d i t i o n o f woman's p re o io u sn essl
And what
th e y su g g e st, among o th e r th in g s , i s t h a t Mary A u stin was irk e d by h e r
15 I b id »* P»361.
16
R elated t o th e a u th o r by M rs. E liz a b e th W. DeHuff, Santa F e, New
Mexico.
54
husband’ s p o v erty and i l l suooess a s much as by h is u n w illin g a e ss t o
o o o p e ra te.
Had he r e a l l y ’’p ro te c te d 11 h e r, th e r e might n o t have been any
o b je c tio n on ’’p r in c ip le ” t o th e m ale’ s p ro te c tiv e n e s s .
N e v erth ele ss, i t
i s h e r oharge t h a t th e husband -was s e o r e tiv e , u n c o o p erativ e , im provident,
and econom ically ir r e s p o n s ib le , and t h a t h e r s e p a ra tio n from him m s
due t o h is being steep ed in th e old t r a d i t i o n which ta u g h t t h a t ■woman
m s unable and u n w illin g t o o ff e r advice or t o be taken in to tr u e p a r t­
n e rs h ip .
I t i s , o f co u rse, unwise t o assume t h a t Mary A u stin got h e r g er­
m inal b ia s a g a in s t th e t r a d i t i o n o f woman’ s p re c io u sn e ss by in h e rita n c e
or spontaneously from w ith in h e r s e l f , as h er autobiography seems t o im ply.
Some suoh id ea m s c u r r e n t in h er tim e .
With h er m other, she o fte n heard
Frances W illa rd speak, and she re a d th e fe m in is t and temperance l i t e r a tu re o f th e ’se v e n tie s and 'e i g h t i e s .
17
In 1859, f i f t e e n y ears b efo re
Frances W illa rd began h e r campaign a g a in s t d rin k , Miss W illard had been
18
absorbed in th e Memoirs o f M argaret F u lle r O s s o li.
M argaret F u ll e r ’ s
Woman in th e N in eteen th C entury "had given h e r own sex i t s titl e - d e e d s "
and Frances W illard m s a w orthy d is c i p le .
Miss W illa rd 's " Is M arriage
a F a ilu re ? " d isc u sse s monogamy, c o -ed u o atio n , p ro p e rty r ig h t s f o r women,
and th e r i g h t of a woman t o use h e r own name in s te a d o f h er h u sb an d 's.
She c a l l s f o r uniform d iv o rce and m arriage law s, a sin g le stan d ard of
m o ra lity , and some arrangem ent whereby m arriage w i l l be an inducement t o
17
18
19
A u stin , E a rth H orizon, p p .142 f f .
G ilb e rt S e ld e s, The Stammering C en tu ry (New York, 1928), p .2 5 9 .
Van Wyok Brooks, The Flow ering o f New England, 1815-1865 (New
York, 1936), p .377.
55
persons o f t a l e n t and n o t sim ply a "n ecessary re fu g e o f th e sm a lle s tn a tu re d and most dependent woman."
20
She su g g ests th a t women should have
th e r ig h t t o c o n tro l "th e frequency o f th e in v e s t itu r e o f l i f e w ith form"
and r a i l s a g a in s t th e "untold h o rro rs o f t h i s in ju s tic e " [man’s demanding
•. 21
sexual g r a t i f i c a t i o n a t w i l l j .
Many an item i n Mary A u s tin 's creed
came s t r a i g h t from Frances W illard and i n d i r e c t ly th e re fo re from M argaret
F u lle r and Mary W o llsto n e c ra ft.
Mary A u s tin 's d e c la ra tio n o f re lig io u s
independence in g i r l h o o d ^ sounds rem arkably lik e Frances W illa rd ’s de­
f i a n t p r o te s t in a l e t t e r :
" I f I were t o p ra y , I should s a y , i f I were
c an d id , 'O h , God, i f th e r e be a God, save my s o u l, i f I have a s o u l . ’ "23
Mary A u s tin 's e x p re ssio n o f g r i e f fo r th e d eath o f h e r s i s t e r ^4 perhaps
owes a g re a t d e a l in sentim ent and s ty le to an e a r ly work o f Frances W illard
whieh was occasioned by th e death o f Miss W illa r d 's s i s t e r .
25
Mary A u stin
adm itted t h a t Frances W illa rd a t t r a c t e d h er much more th a n Susan B. Anthony
~ a f a c t which accounts f o r Mrs. A u s tin ’s p r e d ile o tia n f o r d e a lin g w ith
woman's in tim a te problems in ste a d o f a g ita tin g f o r mere s u ffra g e .
20
Quoted in S e ld e s, op. c i t . , p . 270.
21 IM d *
^
E arth H orizon, p . 117.
Quoted by M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Causes and T h eir Champions (Boston,
1926), p . 104.
24
25
E a rth H orizon, p»87.
Frances E. W illa rd , N ineteen B e a u tifu l Y ears, o r Sketohes o f a
G i r l 's L ife , w ith P reface by John G. H lh ittie r (New York, 1864).
56
By th e tim e Mary A ustin had reached m arriag eab le a g e , Ib s e n 's
A D o ll's House mas known in Amerioa.
n o v e ls,
Oft
L a te r, R obert H e rric k , in s e v e ra l
was t o emphasize t h a t m arriage ought t o be a common a tta o k by
two people upon t h e i r environm ent; th a t th e d e s ir e o f husbands t o pamper
wives and th e d e sire of wives to be pampered, and th e u n w illin g n ess o f
husbands and wives t o cooperate w ith each o th e r was la r g e ly re sp o n sib le
f o r th e fu rio u s m a te ria lism o f th e la te 'n i n e t i e s .
H. G. W ells, in
M arriage (1912), was t o develop th e theme t h a t u n le 33 husband and w ife
had common in te r e s t s and shared common h a rd sh ip s t h e i r sense o f v alu es
would d e te r io r a te .
Even E dith Wharton, u s u a lly a v erse t o th e s e s , has
C harles Bowen in The Custom o f th e Country (1913) com plain t h a t th e a v e r­
age American looks down on h is w ife .
th e r e a l b u sin ess of l i f e ?
"'How much does he l e t h e r sh are in
How much does he r e ly on h e r judgment and h elp
in th e conduct of s e rio u s a f f a i r s ? . . .
Why h a v e n 't we ta u g h t our women
t o ta k e an i n t e r e s t in our w o r k ? ' T h a t i s th e e s s e n tia l theme which
Mary A ustin pursues through many books.
The ch allen g e t o th e t r a d i t i o n o f
"woman's p re c io u sn e ss" - - although no one e ls e c a lle d i t by t h a t name ~
was common in th e l i t e r a t u r e o f 1895-1920.
The m o ra lis tic M rs. M argaret
Deland went out of h e r way t o defend th e t r a d i t i o n and reprehend th e fem­
i n i s t s in The R ising Tide (1916).
Mrs. Deland makes ev en ts impinge un­
m e rc ifu lly upon h e r h ero in e F re d e ric a Payton; and F re d e ric a adm its t h a t
her b rash feminism i s a c o n tra d ic tio n o f r a c i a l ex p erien c e , th a t men love
26
N otably, The Common Lot (1904) and Together (1908). M rs. A u s tin 's
f i r s t f i o t i o n a l stu d y o f m arriage was Santa L u cia; A Common S to ry (1906).
27 E d ith Wharton, The Custom o f th e C ountry (New York, 1913), p . 206.
57
t o p ro te c t women and f e e l s u p e rio r t o them, th a t th e o h iv a lric a t t i t u d e
should he encouraged hy women, th a t men never lik e women t o he t h e i r in ­
t e l l e c t u a l e q u a ls .
Mary A u s tin ’s The Ford (1917) seems alm ost a d i r e c t
r e f u ta tio n o f The R isin g T id e .
E a rth Horizon e r r s in g iv in g th e im pression
t h a t th e a tta c k upon "woman's preo io u sn ess" was Mary A u s tin ’s r e s t r i c t e d
f i e l d and t h a t Mary A u stin le a rn e d a l l ahout i t from h er own h i t t e r ex­
p e rie n c e s.
L ife sometimes c o p ies l i t e r a t u r e , as Osoar Wilde opin ed .
A d ose
fr ie n d o f Mary A u s tin 's in B ishop, C a lifo rn ia , in th e 'n i n e t i e s , Dr. Helen
28
MacKhighfc D oyle, p u b lish ed h e r autobiography in 1934.
Her a d m ire r, she
r e l a t e s , th in k in g he had " s tru c k i t r ic h " in th e Wild Rose mine, to o k h e r
in h is arms and t o l d h e r of th e p la ce s th e y would go.
t o h is k is s e s .
"My h e a r t leaped
I wanted t o claim him f o r my own, h u t I d ared n o t .
The
shadow o f t h a t w a ll t h a t had come from gold — s i f t i n g , g r i t t i n g — la y
between u s ."
When h is mine f a i l s and he i s ru in e d , she is d e lig h te d .
He
expresses s u rp ris e a t h e r jo y .
"You mean t h a t you don’t mind? That you w il l m arry me,
even i f I sun dead-broke, w ith n o th in g t o o f f e r h u t what I can
earn in th e p r a c tic e of m edioine?"
"What you and I can e a rn to g e th e r , d e a r."
D r. MaoKhight lis te n e d t o Mary A u stin o r Mary A u stin t o Dr. MaoHhight d ur­
in g some lo n e ly hours in Bishop ahout 1895; o r both had re a d Frances W illard
end fe m in ist t r a c t s ; o r perhaps b o th had read Hamlin G a rla n d 's s to r y , "A
Helen MaoKhight D oyle, A C hild Went Forth a th e A utobiography
o f ® r. Helen MacKnight D oyle. With a Foreword by Mary A u stin (New York."
19387 ( f i r s t p u b lish e d , 1934).
6
I b id * , p .3 3 9 .
58
Good Fellow ’ s W ife,"
30
in which a woman, h a rin g fre e d h e r s e lf from a
f in a n c ia lly re c k le s s husband, tak es him back a f t e r she has le arn ed t o
stand on h er own f e e t.
" ’I c a n 't say t h a t I ' l l ever f e e l j u s t a s I d id onoe ~
I d o n 't know a s i t ' s r i g h t t o . I looked up t o you to o much.
I expeoted to o much o f you, to o . L e t's begin ag ain as e q u al
p a rtn e rs .* She h e ld out h e r hand a s one man t o a n o th e r. He
took i t w onderingly."
In Robert H e rric k , in E d ith Wharton, in Hamlin G arland, in H. G. W ells,
in Frances W illa rd , in Ibsen ~ th e p le a t h a t m arriage i s a p a rtn e rs h ip
of e q u a ls, th a t th e o ld c h iv a lr ic concepts of th e h u sb an d 's d u ty t o ch er­
is h and th e n p ro te c t th e w ife w itho u t ev er c o n fid in g f in a n c ia l d i f f i c u l t i e s
t o h e r must be done away w ith !
One can h a rd ly escape th e o o n v io tia n t h a t
Mary A ustin and h e r f r ie n d D r. MacEnight were re a d in g l i t e r a t u r e back
in to th e ir e x p erien c e s.
Mary A u s tin 's a tta o k on the problem s of women and m arriag e began
w ith Santa Luoia (1908), h e r f i r s t "problem" novel as w e ll as h e r f i r s t
attem pt a t r e a l i s t i o f i c t i o n .
The s u b - t i t l e , A Common S to ry , in d io a te s
th a t perhaps Mary A u stin knew o f Robert H e rric k 's The Common Lot (1904)
and M argaret D elan d 's The Common Why (1904), p a r tic u la r ly th e l a t t e r ,
sin ce Mrs. A u s tin 's t h e s i s i s , in te n tio n a lly or n o t, a d i r e c t r e f u ta tio n
of Mrs. D eland's p lea f o r more of th e incompetence and charming fe m in iiiity
o f D ickens' Dora.
Santa Luoia has th re e s e ts o f c h a ra c te rs who make v i r t u a l l y th re e
sep a ra te s t o r i e s , and y e t th e r e is l i t t l e im pression o f la c k o f u n ity in
th e n o v e l.
There is th e s to ry o f D r. C ald w ell, h is d au g h ter W illiam (named
30
In M ain-T ravelled Roads (New York and London, 1930).
lis h e d in book form , 1891.)
31
I b i d . , p p .3 ? 6 -3 7 7 .
( F i r s t pub­
f o r h e r f a t h e r ’s f a v o r ite b ro th e r, k i l l e d a t A n tietam ), George Rhewold,
a young p h y s ic ia n , and Jap (Edward K. J a s p e r ) .
The s e tt in g f o r t h i s
s to r y i s th e oountry plaoe of D r. C aldw ell on th e o u ts k ir ts o f th e town
o f Santa Luoia.
D r. C aldw ell has been th e re t h i r t y - f i v e y ears w-nri knows
every square m ile o f h is adopted o ountry in tim a te ly .
H is house has ta k e n
an m ellow ness, i t f i t s th e lan d ; h is l i f e i s f u l l and r i c h and peaceful*
The s to r y in v o lv in g th e s e fo u r people is alm ost u n e v en tfu l u n t i l one
grand m elodram atic moment when J a p , a f a i lu r e a s a m edical s tu d e n t, end
young D r. Rhewold indulge in a je a lo u s fig h t over W illiam .
W illiam h e r­
s e l f saves Rhewold from th e tre a c h e ry o f J a p , she end Rhewold a re engaged,
and t h e i r s to ry ends w ith ev ery promise o f q u ie t h a p p in ess.
A second s to r y i s of th e tr a g i c m aladjustm ent between A ntrim S t a i r s ,
Ph.D. in b io lo g y , te a o h e r in th e sm all denom inational c o lle g e in Santa
L ucia, and h is w ife , th e form er J u lia Maybury, a s o c ie ty g i r l o f Sen
F ra n c isc o .
S t a i r s , whose fa m ily have s a c r i f i c e d fo r h is e d u o a tia n , i s
from th e E a s t, c a u tio u s , c o n se rv a tiv e , r e t i r i n g , and f i l l e d w ith deepse a te d moral p re ju d ic e s .
Qis w ife , b e a u tif u l and shallow , has fo rsak en
a lif e - lo n g adm irer t o m arry S ta ir s beoause o f h is b r i l l i a n t promise a s
a s c h o la r.
S ta irs * book on post-D arw inian th e o r ie s of e v o lu tio n i s t o
be issu ed soon, and h is fu tu r e seems a ss u re d .
But th e book does n o t
f in d a p u b lis h e r, J u lia becomes r e s t l e s s , S ta i r s la ck s ard en cy , J u l i a 's
form er adm irer tu rn s u p , and she in d u lg es h e r s e lf w ith him t o th e e x te n t
o f being ta lk e d a b o u t.
S ta ir s re fu s e s t o l i s t e n t o g o ssip and is " f la b b e r ­
gasted " when J u lia asks fo r a d iv o rc e .
O utraged, because of h is r e lig io u s
p re ju d ic e s , he re fu s e s t o give h is w ife a d iv o rc e .
" . . .
by no reao h
o f h e rs £im ag in atio n ] could she u n d erstan d how th e mere word [divoroe]
c rie d upon him w ith a hundred tongues o f n o is y v u lg a r ity and h is s in g
60
shame."
The w ife wavers w ith H a lfo rd , th e a d m ire r, p r o te s ts she can
n o t in ju re S t a i r s , h u t i s f i n a l l y in v e ig le d in to planning elopement w ith
H a lfo rd , w ith o u t d iv o ro e .
S tairB g e ts word o f h is w ife ’s planned elope­
m ent, and re s o lv e s to sto p i t even a t th e expense of g ra n tin g h e r a
d iv o rc e .
He b rin g s h e r back home, and sh e, enraged by h is s t u p i d i ty ,
b lu n tly t e l l s him t h a t H alford has a lre a d y been h e r lo v e r.
asks h e r to leave him.
S t a ir s
He w ill provide f o r h e r , b u t she must go away.
In th e meantime no word has come from H a lfo rd .
(The a u th o r imposes h e r­
s e l f a t t h i s p o in t to lament t h a t i f S t a ir s had p a s s io n a te ly a s s e r te d a
l i t t l e m asculine anger and a l i t t l e love in s te a d o f w iltin g under h is
shocked s e n s i b i l i t i e s , he could have reg ain ed th e love and a d m iratio n o f
J u lia .)
J u lia does n o t know where she can go, and w hile packing d iso o v ers
p o iso n , ta k e s i t , and d ie s between S t a i r 's k n ees.
S ta ir s goes away, back
E a s t; h is book has f i n a l l y been acc e p ted .
A t h i r d case h is to r y o f m arriage has d e f in ite p a r a l le l s w ith Mary
A u s tin 's own s to r y .
Serena L indley, a graduate of W ellesley , has been
re a re d by an a u n t in Santa L uoia.
A fte r te ac h in g sch o o l f o r a few years
and a f t e r Antrim S ta ir s has tu rn e d away from h e r t o marry J u l i a , Serena
i s m arried t o Evan L indley, a breezy W esterner, b o o s te r, p lu n g e r, i n s t a l ­
ment buyer — shocking in many ways t o h is f a s tid io u s w ife.
As a tto rn e y
fo r th e c o lle g e , he w ishes t o aooept a s ta tu e p ro ffe re d by w ealth y pa33
tro n s ,
and Serena w ishes he would re fu s e i t beoause i t i s poor a r t .
32
Mary A u stin , Santa L uciai
1908), p.3 0 4 .
33
A Common S to ry (New York and London,
Perhaps Santa Luoia is P alo A lto , C a lif o r n ia , th e c o lle g e S ta n fo rd ,
th e s ta tu e t h a t of Leland S tan fo rd and fa m ily .
61
The r i f t grows a lo n g lin e s p a r a l l e l -with t h a t between S . W. and Mary
A u stin .
He does n o t give h is w ife any r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s ; he ru n s in to
d eb t w ithout h e r a d v ic e ; he never c o n fid e s any b u sin ess d e a lin g s t o h e r;
he t r e a t s her a s i f she were a p recio u s ornament upon h is c h a r a c t e r i s t i c ­
a l l y male l i f e ; in s h o r t, she is liv in g in a " d o l l 's h o u se."
They lo se
t h e i r piano, th e n t h e i r f u r n itu r e , and cannot a ffo rd a summer a t th e
seashore fo r t h e i r a i l i n g c h ild .
F in a lly , by giving up h is house and r e ­
moving t o h is m o th e r's , and by means o f re tu rn s from a q u e stio n a b le b u si­
n e ss tr a n s a c tio n , he g e ts h is deb ts refu n d ed .
tim e o f t h e i r moving from t h e i r home.
The c r i s i s comes a t th e
Serena re v e a ls t h a t she i s glad t o
go, t h a t she had never loved th e p la c e , th a t th e way th e y have always
liv e d beyond t h e i r means has been extrem ely d i s t a s t e f u l t o h e r .
L indley
in anger r e p lie s th a t he has given h e r ev ery th in g t h a t he could and has
done th e b e s t t h a t he could do.
it.
"'A h, b u t Evan,* she c r ie d , 't h a t was
I t was th e b e s t you could do, and I wanted i t t o be th e b e s t we
could do to g e th e r.'" ® ^
Then h is c o n tr ite sorrow fo r h e r h u m ilia tio n —
he has been exposed and d isg ra ce d — and h is f e e lin g t h a t he has offended
b oth h er and h im s e lf, s o fte n s h e r .
a lo n g :
She has found what she has m issed a l l
h is a d m ittin g t h a t he oared and was w illin g t o co n fid e i n h e r and
ta k e h e r in to a working p a rtn e rs h ip .
She w ill undergo th e d is g ra c e and
th e hardships w illin g ly , i f only she i s never a g a in pushed a s id e lik e a
c h ild or a to y and t r e a t e d t o no c o n fid e n ce s.
"He leaned h is fa c e a g a in s t
h e r s , and th e y c r ie d to g e th e r fo r shame and p i ty and te n d ern ess and renew al.
From th a t p o in t t h e i r m arriage i s a san e, unrom antic, oommon-sense a d ju s t­
m ent.
Except th e happy ending, th e s to r y o f Evan and Serena L in d ley i s
34
A u stin , Santa L u c ia , p .2 1 1 .
35 I b i d ., p . 213.
62
t h a t o f th e A u stin s:
a w ife from th e E ast m arried t o a W estern b o o ster
and p lu n g er; th e husband u n w illin g t o confide in th e w ife ; th e husband
running in to debt w ith o u t th e w if e 's knowledge.
Mrs. A u stin has w r itte n
what might have been th e s o lu tio n of h e r own problem .
The th re e s t o r i e s a re t i e d to g e th e r lo o s e ly , b u t e f f e c t iv e ly enough.
A survey o f them re v e a ls a d e f i n i t e p a tte r n .
C aldw ell.
Both a re of th e W est.
ro o ts t h e r e .
1. D r. Rhewold — W illiam
Both lovs S an ta lu o ia and have t h e i r
T heir attachm ent begins as a rom antic one, and t h e i r be­
t r o t h a l comes a t a moment o f h ig h drama.
But th e rom antic attaohm ent has
a s o lid s u b -s tru o tu re o f lik e o r ig in s , lik e i n t e r e s t s , and complete com­
p a tib ility .
2 . P ro fe sso r S ta ir s - - J u l i a .
The a t t r a c t i o n i s , r e s p e c tiv e ly ,
h e r beau ty and s o c ia l b r i l l i a n c e and h is prom ise o f fame.
and m ental in c o m p a tib ility .
There i s p h y sio a l
She lacks in te llig e n c e and he lacks v i r i l i t y
and a s s e rtiv e n e s s ; he i s em o tio n ally hidebound.
The m arriage is n o t only
a f a i l u r e ; th e f a i l u r e i s t r a g i c and u n n e o e s s a rily p a in f u l.
— Serena.
p re ju d ic e s
3. Evan L indley
She is an E a s te rn e r lik e S t a i r s , b u t she conquers c e r ta in
36
a g a in s t h e r husband's b o o stin g , p lu n g in g , and h e a rty W estern
a t t i t u d e o f knowing t h a t g re a t th in g s a re around th e c o rn e r.
These two
s t a r t w ith no rom antic attachm ent and w ith a v e ry deep m ental incom pati­
b i l i t y , b u t a re saved by common sen se , by "co n fro n tin g th e w ild ern ess"
to g e th e r.
36
"She understood a t l a s t h is Cher husband's] w ish t o be one w ith
th e c u rre n t i n t e r e s t o f h is tim e , as th e r e l i s h f o r l i f e , th e undaunted
male a t t i t u d e which b eg o t achievement on th e W est. She f e l t h e r s e lf shamed
by i t s la rg e n e ss fo re v e r out o f th e com plicated f u t i l i t y o f h er m oral con­
v e n tio n s ." — I b i d . , p«346.
63
A ll th e s e th re a d s in th e n o v el em phasise, d i r e c t l y o r in d ir e c tly
(h u t, o f c o u rse , never as e x p l i c i t l y as th e foreg o in g paragraph would
in d ic a te ) , th e simple theme t h a t Mary A u stin had a lre a d y worked out in
h ^ r girlhoods
t h a t a woman's w orth l i e s no t in h er c a p a c ity t o s tim u la te
c h iv a lr ic sentim ent in a man, h u t in h e r c a p a c ity t o achieve and he in
h e r own r i g h t .
And th e c o r o lla r y t o t h i s i s th a t m arried love need not
he a rd e n t p a ssio n ; i t must he hased upon i n t e l l e c t u a l and p h y s ic a l com­
p a t i b i l i t y , which can he learn ed by common sense and p a tie n c e .
Two suc­
c e s s e s , one a g i f t and th e o th e r ach iev ed , and one m iserab le f a i l u r e
p o in t th e lesso n th o ro u g h ly .
S e re n a 's r e f l e c t i o n a f t e r t e l l i n g Antrim
S ta ir s goodbye a t th e v e ry end of th e hook (she had once been ro m a n tic a lly
a t t r a c t e d t o him) summarises th e whole theme:
She had never loved him [ S ta ir s ] ; she knew t h a t , though she
had been drawn by h is semblanoe t o h er young i d e a l . The su rfa ce s
o f l i f e s e t in m otion by t h e s l ig h t circum stanoe o f environment
had tu rn e d tow ards a l l he seemed to stan d f o r , b u t underneath th e
p rim al tid e s drove f a s t ; she saw h e r s e lf and a l l women moving on
them by th e way of c o lo r le s s , unim passioned m a rria g e s, by fa tig u e s
and homely c o n triv a n c e s , by c h ild b ir th and sorrow and d e n ia l —
oh, a common s to r y l She thought of W illiam , upon whom happiness
descended from th e s k ie s , ushered by w ild r i s k s , long th u n d e r,
and th e drumming r a in , and brought on h e r own face a r a in o f te a r s
as she knew h e r s e l f , w ith so many women, untouched by any c o lo r o f
romance. Then she thought o f J u l i a , flam ing w ith to rm en tin g pas­
sio n s a s she d r if te d t o d i s a s t e r ; she th re w up th e s a sh , and a t
th e q u ie tin g to u ch o f th e n ig h t and th e d r i f t i n g film o f th e fog
th e pang o f u n fu lfilm e n t passed in th e sense o f sav in g commonness.
F ar down th e block she heard h e r h u sb an d 's f o o ts te p , . . .
b u t before she ra n t o l e t him in she leaned from th e s i l l t o g a th er
a la t e c h ille d ro se th a t bloomed h a r d ily an a c lin g in g v in e . She
k is s e d i t once and th rew i t f a r from h e r ; i t was h e r g re e tin g to
l i f e and th e la n d . So, sm ilin g , she tu rn e d and drew th e b lin d .
37
I b i d . , p p .345-3 4 6 .
64
S anta Luoia su g g ests two d e f i n i t e p a r a l l e l s .
The s to r y o f S ta ir s
and J u l i a , w ith i t s t r a g i c f r u s t r a t i o n , i s somewhat th e same a s th e s to r y
o f Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead in Thomas Hardy’ s Jude th e Obscure.
Mrs.
A u stin ’s c h a ra c te rs a re s t a t i c , however; Hardy’s c h a ra c te rs undergo deep
changes under th e fo rc e o f th e ir e x p e rie n c e s.
Jude, narrow-minded a t
f i r s t , moves on, in th e fa c e o f tra g e d y , t o deeper understanding o f him­
s e l f and h is problem, w h ile Sue, em ancipated a t th e beginning, en tan g les
Jude and h e r s e l f end th e c h ild re n in th e n e t of h e r revived c o n v e n tio n a lity .
Hardy’s deep pessim ism , symbolized in l i t t l e F a th e r Time, p erm its no f a i t h
in i n t e l l e c t u a l problem -solving, end th e end is a trag ed y o f somewhat u n i­
v e r s a l im p ort; M rs. A u stin ’ s c h a ra c te rs and p lo t a re designed sim ply t o
i l l u s t r a t e h er p o in t.
The s to ry o f Serena and Evan L in d ley , th e two fin d in g t h e i r a d ju s t­
ment in q u ite unrom antic c o o p erativ e n e ss, has many p a r a lle ls t o th e s to ry
o f I s a b e lla P ric e and John lane in R obert H e rric k ’s T ogether, p u b lish ed
two y ears
a fte r
Santa Lucia.
M rs. A u stin , lik e H e rric k , an aly zes a
number of m a rria g e s, allow ing one t o be an ach iev ed su cc e ss, one t o be
n a tu r a lly s u c c e s s fu l, one a complete f a i l u r e .
Both H errick and Mrs. A u stin
say in one way or a n o th e r th a t th e only answer t o th e sex and m arriage
problem i s f o r man and woman t o sh are a ta s k to g e th e r.
But H e rric k ana­
lyzes m e rc ile s s ly th e sham values o f " g o - g e tte r ” husbands and pampered
w ives, whereas Mrs. A u stin makes Serena give in t o h er husband’s "ep ic"
id eas of achievem ent in b u s in e s s .
A nother d iffe re n c e is t h a t M rs. A u stin
l a t e r was t o demand f o r h e r women a c a re e r and a v a r ie ty o f ex p erien ces
along w ith m a rria g e ; H e rric k i n s i s t s t h a t th e new feminism, making women
w ish t o have ex p erien ces and develop t h e i r p e r s o n a litie s i s b u t n e u ro tie is m ,
another symptom o f c o rru p tio n in th e ag e.
65
H e rric k ’s The Gospel o f Freedom (1898) and The Common Lot (1904)
a ls o emphasized th e theme in which Mrs. A u stin i s in te r e s t e d .
B ut, a g a in ,
•where H e rric k ’s men and women oame " to g e th e r” to share an i d e a l i s t i c ta s k
and save them selves from th e commercialism and v u lg a r s o c ia l-c lim b in g o f
th e Chicago m ilie u , Mrs. A u stin teach es o n ly th e id ea o f " to g e th e rn e ss”
and allowB h e r m ajor c h a r a c te r , S erena, t o c a p itu la te t o th e "ep ic" q u a lity
o f th e West.
Mary A ustin h ad , in h e r a p p re n tic e s h ip , a p p a re n tly taken
s e r io u s ly th e lo o a l o o l o r i s t s ’ id ea o f th e ep ic rig h tn e s s o f th e West in
c o n tr a s t t o th e "com plicated f u t i l i t y " o f th e E a s t.
The id ea makes her
a much le s s e f f e c tiv e m o ra lis t th a n H e rric k .
The m arriage theme in Santa Luoia is accompanied by a n o th e r:
th a t
c a p a c ity fo r p erso n al adjustm ent may be in flu en c ed by o n e 's adjustm ent t o
th e environm ent.
In th e w holly s u c c e ssfu l m a rria g e , t h a t o f Rhewold and
W illiam , both p a r tie s a re com pletely a t home in Santa Luoia; both have
tak en on th e rhythm o f th e l i f e t h e r e .
In th e m arriage in which suooess
has t o be achieved, one p a r ty , Serena, i s em o tio n ally in a stra n g e land
and has t r i e d to impose a fo re ig n moral p a tte r n upon th e ways of Santa
L ucia.
S e re n a 's p e rso n a l adjustm ent comes a s an adjustm ent t o th e W est.
In th e t r a g i c m arriage, one p a r ty . S t a i r s , i s w holly u n ad ju sted t o th e
environment and sy m b o lically runs away from i t a t th e end.
Lacking th e
power of adjustm ent and grow th, he i s d e fe a te d .
On th e whole, S anta Lucia i s a f a i r l y s u c c e ss fu l n o v e l.
The mar­
ria g e theme stands out c le a r ly and b o ld ly , b u t w ithout g iv in g an g u lar
co n to u rs t o th e form o f th e n o v e l.
Covering t h i s s o lid framework i s a
sense of p lao e and of th in g s working them selves out in t h a t p la o e , which
g iv e s some roundness and l i f e t o th e book.
In i t s fran k fa c in g o f th e
problems of women in m arriage end in i t s bold c r itio is m o f th e ways of
66
th e sm all town, i t n o t only p o in ts forw ard t o muoh o f Mary A u s tin 's b e s t
■work; i t a ls o stan d s a s a w orthy fo re ru n n e r o f th e novels o f D re is e r, Ander­
son, Lewis, and W illa C a th e r.
Even in th o se p a r ts where i t o o n tra d ic ts
i t s e l f and h o ld s t h a t some o f th e ways o f th e sm all town have an in e v ita b le ,
in t u i t i v e r ig h tn e s s , i t goes deeply in to c r i t i c i s m of th e m oral oodes of
th e " g e n te e l tr a d i t i o n " and has some o f th e r e f r e s h in g h o n esty of th e works
of th e l a t e r n a t u r a l i s t i c w r ite r s .
And in th o se p a rts where i t i s a u to ­
b io g ra p h ic a l, where th e a u th o r p u ts only a t h i n f i c t i o n a l v e i l over h e r
own p riv a te problem , i t i s honest and b o ld .
The need o f women f o r c o n fid e n tia l p a rtn e rs h ip w ith men i s tr e a te d
f u r th e r , from a s l i g h t l y d if f e r e n t a n g le , in Lost B orders,
38
a c o lle c tio n
o f s t o r i e s h eld to g e th e r by d e s c rip tio n s of th e land and o ra c u la r com­
ments upon th e e f f o r t s o f m o rtals t o fin d adjustm ent t o th e la n d .
Tech­
n i c a l l y , th e book i s a to u r de fo r c e , th e d e s c rip tiv e commentary between
th e s t o r i e s having ev ery appearanoe o f a n a tte m p t t o impose u n ity upon
s to r ie s w ith a v a r ie ty o f s u b je c t m a tte r, w r itte n a t com paratively wide
in te rv a ls .
O ste n sib ly , th e m ajor theme o f Lost Borders i s t h a t th e la n d , th e
unsubdued d e s e r t, i s b ig g e r th a n th e p e o p le, bu t th e p eo p le, s tru g g lin g
w ith i t , a t t a i n a u n iv e rs a l d ig p ity and an irr e d u c ib le humanness.
The
re g io n of lo s t bo rd ers throw s a human bein g p rim itiv e ly back upon what
38
Mary A u stin , Lost Borders (New York and London, 1909). I t in ­
clu d es an in tro d u c to ry c h a p te r e n t i t l e d "The lan d " and th i r t e e n s t o r i e s .
Four o f th e s t o r i e s had a lre a d y been p u b lish e d in p e rio d ic a ls in 1907,
1908, and 1909.
67
he e s s e n t i a l l y i s .
The u n iv e rs a l man. o r r a th e r th e " n a tu ra l man," fr e e
o f minor conventions o f tim e and p la c e , em erges.
I f t h i s theme were more
th an a g lib deduotion and were n o t imposed upon th e m a te ria l o f th e book
in s te a d of growing out of th e m a te r ia l, th e re a d e r could say t h a t Mrs.
A ustin had been in flu en c ed by Thomas H ardy's deep sense o f th e power o f
environment and th e h e lp le ss n e s s of in d iv id u a ls a g a in s t f a t e .
But what
th e s to r ie s o f Lost Borders a c tu a lly emphasise i s a kind of lo o a l o o lo r
sm artn ess; M rs. A ustin c o n s ta n tly im p lie s th a t th e s e people g ain t h e i r
ends in d e lig h tf u ll y e o o e n trio and unconventional ways.
In s h o r t, to o
muoh of K ip lin g ' 8 manner remains in h e r approach t o h e r m a te ria l.
Her
ro m a n tic iz in g o f Western v i r i l i t y and d ire c tn e s s im p lie s a c r i t i c i s m o f
th e f u t i l i t y o f th e o v e rc iv ilis e d E a s t, in th e manner o f W ister and even
o f W illiam Vaughn Moody's The Great D ivide (1909).
The land o f l o s t bo rd ers is out where th e " d e s e rt a b u ts on th e
g re a t S ie rr a f a u l t " on e a s t t o where th e boundaries ru n "out in fo o lis h
w astes o f sand and in e x tric a b le d iso rd e re d ra n g e s ." 59
But th e s e a re
l o s t borders in an o th er re s p e c t; f a r where b o u n d aries become so i n d i s t i n c t ,
law plays o u t, to o .
" . . .
where th e law and th e landmarks f a i l to g e th e r ,
th e so u ls o f l i t t l e men fade out a t th e ed g es. . . .
where th e b o rd e rs o f
conscienoe b re a k down, -where th e re i s no co n v en tio n , . . .
l i t t l e account exoept a s i t g e ts you your d e s ir e . . .
•"
behavior i s of
40
H e re d ita ry
p re ju d ic e s in fa v o r o f c e r ta in lin e s o f b eh av io r a re u s e le s s and w o rth le s s,
f o r th e d e s e r t "has i t s own ex ig en cies and o c c a s io n s, and w i l l n o t be liv e d
w ith except: upon i t s own c o n d itio n s .
39
I b id . , p p .1 -2 .
40 I b id . , p .S .
41 I b i d . , p . 25.
68
A c o r o lla r y t o th e s ta te d theme Is a s fo llo w s :
People making
s o o ia l adjustm ents in such a land work -with an immediacy and a d ire c tn e s s
th a t a re lao k in g in more c iv iliz e d com m unities•
Beneath th e crudeness
and th e ap p aren t c r u e lty i s a d i r e c t , in s tin c tiv e adjustm ent t o th e prob­
lem of liv i n g .
Mrs. A u stin uses t h i s idea t o shook.
She i s in te n t upon
proving th a t M iddlew estern mares have no rele v an c y in t h i s environm ent,
t h a t "proper" behavior is a r e la ti v e th in g , most "proper" when i t s t r i p s
o ff u n e s s e n tia l bonds and serves l i f e i t s e l f .
As e a r ly a s 1897, Mrs.
A ustin had used a K ip lin g -lik e tech n iq u e t o oover up h er animus a g a in s t
th e r ig id p r o p r ie ti e s .
A sso c ia tio n f o r some y e ars w ith Jack London and
George S te r lin g might a ls o have confirm ed h e r in th e n o tio n t h a t th e
p a tte r n o f conform ity demanded in th e American sma 11-town was n o t th e
l a s t word in convenient and u sa b le s o o ia l co n v en tio n .
At any r a t e , i t
i s q u ite obvious t h a t in Lost Borders Mary A u stin was in vig o ro u s p ro­
t e s t a g a in s t th e l e t t e r of th e law la id down in C a r l i n v i l l e , I l l i n o i s .
The r e a l theme o f Lost B orders, which i s to be found in th e s to r i e s
and n o t in th e d e s c rip tiv e commentary, i s based upon Mary A u s tin 's obses­
sio n concerning th e proper r e la tio n s h ip between men and woman.
To prove
t h a t th e d e s e rt re g io n o f l o s t borders d id throw people back upon t h e i r
e s s e n tia l n a tu r e s , fo rc in g them t o a c t d i r e c t l y in accordance w ith stro n g
i n s t i n c t s , she had but t o show how th e man-woman r e la t io n o p e ra ted .
q u estio n was always fo r h e r a m ajor c o n s id e ra tio n .
That
Of th e fo u rte e n s t o r ie s
in Lost B orders, te n fimphasize over and over th e theme t h a t a man and woman
must work to g e th e r and sh are ex p erien c e , th e woman being n o t a dependent,
a p la y th in g , or a o h ild , b u t a s tro n g s h a r e r.
a re made r e s o lu te , s e l f - r e l i a n t , c ap a b le .
The women in th e s e s to r ie s
As i f M rs. A u stin were in te n t
69
upon, evening th e s c o re , she o fte n makes th e women s tro n g e r th an th e men.
They a re f r e e r o f in h ib itio n and p re ju d ic e , and a c t w ith g re a te r d i r e c t ­
n ess th en th e men.
A ll th e te n s to r ie s a f f ir m , in one way or a n o th e r,
Mary A u s tin 's idea t h a t lo v e , a shared t a s k , and a c h ild a re a l l t h a t
any woman needs t o c o n fro n t th e w ild e rn e ss , and th a t th e r e is s tre n g th
in th e way th e s e d e s e rt women go s t r a i g h t t o th e se o b je c tiv e s .
Sometimes t h e s to r y i s o f a woman who has helped a rnnn in h is
s tru g g le in th e d e s e r t, w ithout being a b le a c tu a lly t o love him, beoause
o f h is fam ily a t home in th e E ast ("The Woman a t E ig h teen -M ile").
And
when he has t o leav e h e r , she knows t h a t th e b e s t p a rt o f h is l i f e and
of h e rs has p assed .
ta s k .
R eal love i s n o t rom antic p a ssio n , b u t th e shared
Again i t is th e s to ry o f a handsome man and h is scorn f o r a homely
woman who loves him ("The B itte rn e s s o f Women").
But when he i s d is fig u re d
by an enraged b e a r , th e spurned woman n u rs e s , p r o te c ts , and su p p o rts him.
She is a broad-hipped, full-bosom ed woman t o idiom love is much more th a n
th e f r ip p e r ie s of o o u rts h ip .
There i s th e s to ry of a woman d isg u ste d by th e ir r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of
a husband who wanders away looking fo r l o s t mines ("The R eturn o f Mr. W ills " ) .
She and h e r c h ild re n develop competence; she is th e d e s e rt woman, a b le t o
provide fo r her brood w ithout a man.
In a n o th e r s to ry , an Englishman,
form erly a h e a lth -s e e k e r , i s e o n so ie n o e -strio k e n because he wishes to
leave th e In d ian woman w ith whom he has been liv in g fo r years ("A Case o f
C onscience").
The d e s ir e t o r e tu r n home, however, is overm astering, and
to avoid em barrassm ent, he sneaks away a t n ig h t w ith h is and th e In d ia n
woman's c h ild , w ith o u t any le a v e -ta k in g .
The mother o f h is c h ild follow s
h is t r a i l , knowing t h a t he oannot ta k e oare of th e o h ild .
When he i s con­
vinced t h a t th e o h ild i s a burden t o him, th e woman i s th e r e t o ta k e i t . His
going away is a s n o th in g t o h e r m atern al competence.
70
Tiawa, a F aiu te woman, i s now f a t j but once she had loved C urly,
a cowboy, and had guided him down t o th e ploughed la n d s, and had liv e d w ith
him a w hile and borne him a o h ild and th en had l e f t him when he no longer
seemed to c a re fo r h e r ("The Ploughed Lands").
But Tiawa has had h e r r e ­
w ard, f o r whan she to o k C urly to th e ploughed lands she cared fo r him in
h is long il l n e s s and guided him and fed him fo r days on th e d e s e r t.
"What
need o f so much pawing over precedent and d isc o u rsin g upon i t , when th e
open co u n try l i e s th e r e , a s o r t of o h e m ist's cup f o r re s o lv in g o b lig a tio n s ?
Say w hether, when a l l d e c o ra tio n is e ate n away, th e re remains any bond,
and what you s h a ll do about it? ^ ^ th e a u th o r ask s in th e oocksure manner
o f K ip lin g .
A nother In d ian woman, Catamemda, sev en teen , f a l l s in love
w ith a young w hite p ro sp e cto r and sta y s w ith him when he d e p arts from
h e r t r i b e ("Agua D uloe").
They a re v e ry happy.
s to le n , he i s i l l , and a sandstorm comes.
But th e n t h e i r food is
For fiv e days she b a tt le s
a g a in s t th e sand, gives th e man a l l th e rem aining fo o d , and f i n a l l y , w ith
h e r uncanny knowledge o f th e co u n try , le a d s him to a sp rin g .
is exhausted and d ie s th e re by th e s p rin g .
She h e r s e lf
I t i s a s to r y o f th e complete
s e l f - s a c r i f i c e , th e unabashed te n d e rn e s s , th e alm ost superhuman competence
of p rim itiv e woman, t o l d w ithout sen tim en talism .
Woman's competence and
h e r power t o d riv e s tr a ig h t t o what she d e s ir e s i s i l l u s t r a t e d a g ain in
"The House of O ffen se," th e s to r y o f Hard Mag, p ro p r ie tr e s s o f a house o f
p r o s t i t u t i o n in a sm all mining tow n.
With complete d ire c tn e s s of aim and
unoanny o le v e m e s s , th e p r o s t i t u t e showB h e r fem inine competency and in ­
g e n u ity in p ro v id in g f a r h e r c h ild .
42 I b i d . , p .5 1
71
A s to r y e n title d "The F a k ir" em phasises a n o tio n d ear t o Mary
A u stin , th e idea t h a t t r u l y p rim itiv e lo v e , love on a proper b a s is , i s n o t
rom antic in f a tu a tio n .
There is a most a r r e s t in g s itu a tio n in which an
u n su c c e ssfu l p h y sic ia n , now a p h re n o lo g is t, having a l l th e charm of a man
o f th e w orld, persuades th e bored and p r e t t y w ife o f a crude m iner n o t t o
ru n away from Maveriok w ith him.
With th e h e lp of th e a u th o r o f th e s to r y ,
who knows th e m arried woman's s e c r e t , th e woman, N etta S ay b rick , ach iev es
happiness a g ain w ith h e r husband in M averiok.
The a u th o r, indeed, had
helped th e d o c to r to persuade N etta n o t t o ru n away, and had f e l t a t t h a t
tim e th e inadequacy o f a l l th e m oral conventions t o hold N e tta .
. . .
"I was
sm itte n anew w ith th e u t t e r i n u t i l i t y o f a l l th e stan d a rd s which
were n o t bred o f experience b u t m erely came down t o me w ith th e fam ily
te a sp o o n s."
"The R eadjustm ent11 has an obvious p a r a l l e l w ith a s itu a tio n in
Mary A u s tin 's own l i f e , and shows t h a t th e f a i l u r e o f her m arriage was
s t i l l ra n k lin g and s t i l l served a s th e p o in t o f d e p artu re fo r sp e c u la tio n
about th e m arriage problem .
I t i s th e s to r y of th e s p i r i t of Emma J e f f r i e s ,
which h au n ts th e house o f h e r husband a f t e r h e r d e a th .
The whole town had
known o f th e
. . . h a rd , b r ig h t , surfaoe competency t h a t she had p resen ted t o
th e sq u a lo r o f th e enoompassing d e s e rtn e s s , t o th e in su p erab le
oommanness o f Sim J e f f r i e s , t o th e a f f l i c t i o n o f h e r c rip p le d
o h ild ; and th e in te n s ity of h e r w ordless s tru g g le a g a in s t i t had
caught th e a tte n tio n of th e tow nspeople and h e ld i t in a shooked,
cu rio u s awe. . . . For Emma had alw ays wanted th in g s d i f f e r e n t ,
wanted them w ith a fu ry o f in te n tn e s s t h a t im plied o ffen siv en ess
in th in g s a s th ey w ere.
43 I b i d . , p.120.
44 I b i d . , p p .155-156
72
An understanding woman neighbor knows t h a t th e s p i r i t o f Emma must be
appeased*
She goes t o h elp th e husband, and Sim, in d e sp e ra tio n , ta lk s
and makes a w hining, p itia b le co n fessio n o f h is inoompetenee, h is w ith ­
draw al in to h is s h e l l , h is p a r t in th e blame fo r th e o rip p le d c h ild .
A fte r t h i s o an fessio n of the husband, th e "Presence" or th e s p i r i t o f
Emma hovers c lo s e ly , hoping t o h e a r more.
But th e neighbor t a l k s s tr a ig h t
t o "Em," t e l l i n g h e r she w i l l h e a r no more, sin o e i t is th e n a tu re o f men
t o be uncommunicative.
own house.
The P resence d e p a r ts , and Sim is a t ease in h is
A re a d e r who knows something o f Mary A u s tin 's l i f e i s alm ost
ashamed t o l i s t e n t o t h i s fra n k oan fessio n of h er tr o u b l e s , t h i s i l l conoealed e x p ressio n o f what she had m issed in her m arriag e:
s h ip , r e s p e c t, a shared burden, a competence equal to h e r own.
companion­
The
" c rip p le d " c h ild of Emma in t h i s s to r y i s th e m e n ta lly d e fe c tiv e o ffs p rin g
o f S. W. and Mary A u stin , w ith a l l th e blame tr a n s f e r r e d t o th e incompe­
t e n t and i n a r t i c u l a t e husband.
The s to r y proves t h a t however academic
and s lo g a n -lik e th e fe m in is t d o c trin e o f Mary A u stin may sometimes a p p ea r,
h e r fem inism , h e r a rd e n t crusade in favor o f woman's r ig h t t o sh are lo v e ,
share work, and share a c h ild had i t s o rig in p a r t i a l l y in some b i t t e r p e r­
so n al e x p erien c e s.
She may be u n fa ir in a s s ig n in g , by ill- c o n c e a le d a l l e ­
gory, so much o f ineompetenoe and in a r tic u la te n e s s t o S. W. A u stin ; on th e
o th e r hand, i t would be e q u a lly unflair t o say t h a t she did n o t have cause
t o lament th e man-made o b s ta c le s t o woman's liv in g a s f u l l y as M rs. A ustin
thought th e p rim itiv e woman liv e d .
The b e s t s to r y in Lost Borders i s perhaps th e one e n t i t l e d "The
■Walking Woman," which s e ts f o r t h most c l e a r l y th e theme o f th e whole book.
I t concerns an alm ost legendary woman, c a lle d Mrs. W alker, who has roamed
th e d e s e rt f o r y e a r s .
Some people say she i s com ely, and o th e rs say she
73
i s p la in t o th e p o in t o f d e fo rm ity .
a f r a i d , "unarmed and uno ffen d ed ."
She o fte n oamps w ith rude men, un­
F in a lly th e a u th o r t a l k s w ith h e r.
The w alking woman says th e r e a re th r e e th in g s in l i f e ; i f one has had
th o s e , a l l th e r e s t oan be foregon e.
The f i r s t o f th e s e th in g s came to
h e r in a sandstorm when she had worked w ith F ilo n Geraud, a shepherd,
a l l one day and n ig h t, t o keep h is sheep to g e th e r .
There had been no
r e s t , no p au se, no fo o d , and y e t she had n o t become t i r e d .
"For you s e e ," s a id she, "I worked w ith a man w ith o u t
in g , w ith o u t any burden an me o f looking o r seeming. . . .
n o t f o r F ilo n to a s k , Can you, o r W ill you. He s a id , Do,
d id . And my work was good. We h e ld th e flo c k . And t h a t
i s one o f th e th in g s t h a t make you a b le t o do w ith o u t th e
exous­
I t was
and I
. . .
o th e rs ."
The woman liv e d w ith F ilo n , and saw him go an h is way in th e summer w ith ­
out r e g r e t.
Her baby, bora a f t e r F ilo n l e f t h e r , soon d ie d .
And th en
th e a u th o r speaks:
She was th e "Walking Woman. That was i t . She had w alked o ff
a l l sense o f society-m ade v a lu e s , and knowing th e b e st when th e
b e s t oame t o h e r, was a b le t o ta k e i t . Work — as I b e lie v e d ;
love — a s th e Walking Woman had proved i t ; a c h ild — a s you
su b sc rib e to i t . But look you: i t was th e naked th in g th e Walk­
in g Woman grasped, n o t d re sse d and tr ic k e d o u t, f o r in s ta n c e , by
p re ju d ic e s in favor o f c e r ta in o c cu p atio n s; and lo v e, man lo v e,
ta k en a s i t came, n o t picked over and r e je c te d i f i t c a r r ie d no
o b lig a tio n o f permanency; and a c h ild ; any way you get i t , a c h ild
i s good to have, say n a tu re and th e Walking Woman; t o have i t and
n o t t o w a it upon a p ro p e r concurrence o f so many d eo o ratio n s t h a t
th e e v en t may n o t come a t a l l .
At l e a s t one o f us i s wrong. To work and t o love and t o b ear
c h ild re n . That sounds easy enough. But th e way we liv e e s ta b lis h e s
so many th in g s o f much more importance.^®
The t h e s i s s e t f o r t h in "The Walking Woman" was much le s s an arg u ­
ment f o r f r e e love th a n f o r re c o g n itio n o f an id e a , a lre a d y long h e ld and
brooded over ~ th e id e a t h a t shared work was th e key to p ro p er re la tio n s h ip
45 I b id . , p . 204.
4® I b i d . , p.209.
74
o f man and ■women and t h a t th e old t r a d i t i o n o f woman's p reo io u sn ess was
m ainly what stood in th e way o f t h i s sh a rin g .
s to o d , even by H. G. W ells.
The th e s is was misunder­
Mrs. A u stin met W ells in England in th e
summer of 1909, or 1910, j u s t a f t e r th e p u b lic a tio n of Lost B orders.
W ells read "The Walking Woman" a t h er r e q u e s t, and i t s ap p aren t commenda­
t i o n o f i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y in love a f f a i r s led W ells t o co n fid e in Mrs.
A u stin same p erso n al m a tte rs .
He l a t e r r e g r e tte d h is co n fid e n ce s.
47
That
Mary A u stin d id n o t in te n d "The Walking Woman" t o be a p le a f o r fre e love
i s abundantly proved in h e r l a t e r w r iti n g s .
The f i n a l im pression th a t one c a r r ie s away from Lost Borders is of
a la r g e , m atronly, sober woman w alking in th e d e s e r t, w ith endurance, g re a t
p h y s ic a l s tr e n g th , and an e n tir e ly unram an tic, u n o h iv a lric to u g h n ess.
That
was what Mary A ustin w anted to show th e world — woman n o t a s a sim pering
b eauty t o be c h e rish e d , b u t woman a s a s tro n g , mature m a tria rc h , capable
o f c a rry in g h e r end and sh a rin g in th e work o f th e oommunity.
47
The book
•• • • . I had an engagement t o go
c a l l on th e W ellses. I had
a new book w ith me, L ost Borders • • • ;
one of them th e s to r ie s
was *The Walking Woman* which I was anxious th a t W ells should re a d .
He d id re a d i t — and i f you re a d i t you w i l l get th e connection —
and s a id t o me: " I have j u s t ad v ised my w ife t h a t a f r ie n d o f m in e
i s about t o have a o h ild by me. She s a id , 'W e ll, we must be kind
to h e r.* * 1 wondered how t h a t oould b e; how an y th in g o f t h a t s o r t
oould be k in d . Mrs. W ells had a b ru is e d lo o k ." — B arth H orizon,
p . 311. See a ls o I b id . , p.201. Mr .and M rs. H erbert Hoover, who
were frie n d s o f M rs. A u stin and who were in London a t t h a t tim e ,
were a p p a re n tly shocked by W ells' conduct and Mrs. W ells' to le r a n t
a t t i t u d e tow ards i t , although i t i s d i f f i o u l t t o t e l l from Mrs.
A u s tin 's aocount j u s t what th e Hoovers* e x a c t a tti tu d e w as. At any
r a t e , M rs. Hoover " l e t me know t h a t I would have t o make a choice
between W ells and my o th e r f r ie n d s ." —
I b i d . , pp.311-312.
IKhen t h i s m a te ria l was p u b lish ed in S a rth H orizon, W ells demanded
i t s d e le tio n . The m a te r ia l was d e le te d in a l l subsequent p rin tin g s o f
th e book. Correspondence on th e m a tte r between W ells and M rs. A ustin
and between M rs. A u stin and h e r p u b lis h e rs is in th e f i l e s in M rs. A u s tin 's
house in S anta Fe.
75
r e p r e s e n ts , in a s e n s e , th e searo h o f an ill- a d ju s te d , and unhappy -woman
fo r e x p lan a tio n o f h er d e fe a t and bew ilderm ent.
The s p e ll o f th e land
was upon h e r , and she ro m an ticized th e people of th e d e s e r t, g iv in g them
a b old and "ep ic" freedom.
she o v e rs ta te d h e r id e a ,
In h e r p ic tu re o f Mrs, Walker o f th e d e s e r t,
M rs, Walker was th e embodiment o f h er rom antic
and th e o r e tio a l id e a of th e freedom o f th e W est, n o t t o be ta k en a s a
s p e c if ic guide t o conduct.
Lost Borders a s a whole m ight w ell be c a lle d
a m ixture of K ip lin g 's love o f stran g en ess f o r i t s own sake w ith W illiam
VaughnMoody’s new m y stic a l in te r p r e ta tio n o f th e W est,
Mary A u stin went t o I t a l y la te in 1908 to stu d y prayer te c h n iq u e s ,
she re p o rte d in E a rth H orizon,
But before she re tu rn e d t o th e U nited
S ta te s in th e summer o f 1910, she had met Bernard Shaw and H. G. W ells
in England.
The consequence was t h a t , a lth o u g h she came home a confirmed
m y stic , she re tu rn e d a ls o w ith h er alre ad y -fo rm u la te d id e as about woman's
need f o r independence s tro n g ly oonfirm ed.
She gave ex p re ssio n to h e r re lig io u s ex p erien ces in C h ris t in
I t a l y (1912) and t r e a t e d th e s u b je c t o f women in two o th e r works, The
Arrow Maker and The Lovely Lady, b o th o f which show some in flu en c e o f
48
H. G, W ells. Her t r i b u t e t o H. G. W ells
re v e a ls th e bent o f h e r th in k ­
in g a t th e tim e .
W ells was g r e a t, t o h e r , m ainly because th e Powers
se iz e d upon him, u sin g h is a b i l i t i e s as s c i e n t i s t and romanoer t o p u t
48
Mary A u stin , "An A p p reciatio n o f H. G. W ells, N o v e lis t,"
American Magazine, LXXII (1911), 73S-735.
76
■before a d iso rd e re d England "th e s o o i a l i s t i o remedy fo r th e eoonomio d is ­
o rd e r.
She f e l t th a t th e p re ssu re o f eoonomio d iso o n te n t in England
had c re a te d th e " e l e c t r i c a l co n d itio n s which demanded a man a s th e medium
of discharge."®®
I t was always a th e o ry o f h e r s , th a t man d id n o t lead
s o o ie ty b u t t h a t g r e a t, obscure, dim s o o ia l yearnings spoke th ro u g h a
man.
I t was Wells* fe e lin g h is way along a l l th e lin e s o f growth in
England t h a t appealed t o Mary A u stin .
H is renouncing of Fabianism and
of a l l s p e o ifio s o c i a l i s t s o lu tio n s or a f f i l i a t i o n s appealed t o h e r . be­
cause th e n he was fr e e t o e x p la in s o c ia lis m a s a " p la in human e n te r p r i s e ."
Tano-Bungay she lik e d e s p e c ia lly , because of i t s u n iv e rs a l q u a lity — by
which she probably meant i t s rom antic e ffu s iv e n e s s , i t s nebulous m y sticism ,
i t s muddled optimism.
a f f i n i t y fo r her*
In s h o r t, Wells* work had , on th e w hole, an e s p e c ia l
he looked a t problem s, and th en d isso lv e d them in h is
n o tio n o f grow th, o f g re a t c h a o tic s o o ia l fo rce s working underground t o
th e d e s ire d co n clu sio n .
Mary A ustin oame back t o New York in 1910 w ith
h e r head f u l l o f what was s t i r r i n g in America — a u to m a tic a lly , in d ig e ­
n o u sly , subconsoiously s t i r r i n g .
And she seems t o have embraced th e r o le
of p ro p h etess a t t h a t v e ry moment, b eg in n in g in th e f i e l d of th e t h e a t e r .
However, d e s p ite h e r vague claim s t o p ro p h etic in s ig h t in to a deep
n a tio n a l u rg e , h e r voice was only one among many h e ra ld in g a new day in
th e th e a t e r .
The New T heater had been e s ta b lis h e d in New York in 1909 ^
o s te n s ib ly t o encourage American t a l e n t .
49
Percy Maokaye’s The Playhouse
I b i d . , p.734.
^ Ib id .
51
A. H. Quinn, A H isto ry o f American Drama from th e C iv il Yfar t o
th e P re se n t Day (New York and tonZfoin, 1927), l l , 3.
77
and th e Play (1909) had issu e d a challenge t o commercialism and P u ritan ism
in th e t h e a t e r .
The New T h e a te r, although s h o r t- li v e d , and th e c o n tin u in g
in flu e n c e of Maokaye gave stim ulus to th e l i t t l e th e a t e r and community
th e a te r movement a s w e ll a s t o suoh noncommercial v e n tu re s a s th e Provinoetown P la y e rs .
L a te r, Mary A u stin was t o h in t vaguely t h a t she had prophe­
s ie d t h i s tre n d a n d , in a Kay, had nursed th e whole movement.
A c tu a lly ,
she had l i t t l e in flu e n c e .
She came back t o New York s p e c if ic a lly t o h elp d ir e o t h e r In d ian
52
p la y , The Arrow Maker,
which th e New T heater had a c c e p te d . The d ire o to rs
o f th e New T heater w ere, one may assume, in te r e s t e d in g iv in g a p re s e n ta b le
p la y , b u t Mary A u stin was in te r e s te d in prophecy, in a v is io n o f a g re a t
s t i r r i n g of a r t i s t i c consciousness in America, seeking th e indigenous form
f o r re le v a n t and s t i r r i n g s u b je c t-m a tte r.
Im m ediately th e r e was o o n f lio t.
M rs. A ustin had sp en t a month w ith W illiam A rcher going over i t in d e t a i l ;
she wrangled f o r alm ost a y e a r , acco rd in g t o h e r acco u n t, w ith George
F o s te r P l a t t about i t ; she wished i t t o be r i t u a l i s t i c and h e , she s a id ,
53
wished i t t o be more se n tim e n ta l and m elodram atic.
Throughout th e r e ­
m ainder o f h e r l i f e she r e f e r r e d t o i t as th e f i r s t p la y w r itte n in fre e
v e rs e ; on th e a d v ice of h e r a g en t she bad stru n g a l l th e lin e s ou t as
p ro s e , and P l a t t , th e d i r e c t o r , and a l l of th e a c to r s had n ev er known th e
52
Mary A u stin , The Arrow Maker (New York, 1911); Mary A u stin ,
The Arrow Maker (Boston and !New lo rk , 1915), re v is e d e d itio n . The p la y
was produoed a t th e New T h e a te r, February 28, 1911.
Bferth H orison, p .3 1 5 .
78
d if f e r e n c e .
The p ro p h e tic n o tio n which she had o f th e p la y comes out
55
in a h o s tile a r t i c l e an th e New T h e a ter. This o rg a n iz a tio n was a d is ­
appointm ent t o h e r .
I t had n o t drawn upon th e "working A rt community";
i t had n o t cut th ro u g h " fo re ig n t r a d i t i o n and indigenous ignorance and
commercialism."®®
The d ir e c to r s h ip did not know th e sources o f our
n a tio n a lism ; th e d ir e c to r was horn r ic h and bom in Boston, evidence
enough t h a t he did n o t know America.
He had dared t o out and chop h e r
own p la y which was fe e lin g out th e sources o f n a tiv e a r t consciousness
in America.
She f l a i l e d th e o rg a n iz a tio n f o r produoing "Merry Wives o f
W indsor," because i t s v u lg a r ity would n o t ap p eal t o American women; fo r
produoing M aster lin o k * s "Mary M agdalene," because American women could
n o t be in te r e s t e d in a c o u rte za n ex cep t a s a c iv io problem;®^ f o r pro­
ducing "V anity F a ir ," a l i t e r a r y c u r io s ity ; fa r re fu s in g Percy ^aokaye’s
54
I b i d . This claim o f M rs. A u s tin 's makes one fra n k ly su sp ic io u s .
The 1915 e d itio n o f th e p la y , in id iich th e a u th o r p ro fe sse s t o have rid d ed
i t of a l l th e m u tila tio n s imposed by unim aginative d ir e o to r s , has only a
few lin e s o f f r e e v e rs e , in same l y r i o s . The speeches of th e c h a ra c te rs
a re in p la in sta g e p ro s e . And th e 1915 v e rsio n is i t s e l f se n tim e n ta l
and m elodram atic, although i t does s u b s tit u te a t r a g i c ending f o r th e
happy ending of th e 1911 v e rs io n . However, among M rs. A u s tin 's papers
i s a m anuscript of th e p la y , typed in London (which d a te s i t b e fo re h e r
r e tu r n t o New York in th e summer of 1910), in which th e happy ending of
th e 1911 p u b lish e d v e rs io n i s p r a o tic a l ly i n t a c t . Since t h i s v e rsio n
must have been w r itte n b efo re th e m achinations o f P l a t t and o th e rs to o k
p la c e , even M rs. A u s tin 's p le a th a t th e happy ending was foroed upon h e r
i s n o t s u b s ta n tia te d . The whole q u a rre l w ith h e r d ir e c to r s , v e ry l i k e l y ,
b o ils down to t h i s : M rs. A u stin had a p la y which she thought was a f o lk
p la y . The d ire o to rs were probably try in g t o make i t d ra m a tic a lly p re ­
se n ta b le and te c h n ic a lly sound.
55
Mary A u stin , "The R eorg an izatio n o f th e New T h e a tre ," American
Magazine, LEXIII (1911), 101-104.
56Ib id «, p . 101.
®^Mary A u stin , o f c o u rse , could be in te r e s te d in a co u rtezan (o r
p r o s t i t u t e ) , a s she had been in Lost B orders.
79
"Soarecrow ," "a p la y b r i s t l i n g -with in tim a tio n o f new te c h n iq u e a s a
58
t u l i p bed a t th e end of F e b ru a ry ."
She h eld t h a t th e New T h e a te r’s
sub sid y ought t o enable i t t o "oateh • • • in tim a tio n s o f dawning g en iu s,
o f new a p p re c ia tio n s • • •
■59
To summarise, having ta k e n up th e n o tio n ,
probably from Mackaye and Moody, t h a t A m erica's a r t consciousness was
s t i r r i n g , and convinced t h a t she was th e ap p o in ted genius t o d ir e c t t l a t
s t i r r i n g , she came back t o New York " s p o ilin g f o r a f i g h t . "
That she was
alm ost in s a n e ly e g o t i s t i c a l about th e m a tte r i s proved by e a r e f u l compar­
ison o f th e a c tu a l co n ten t o f h e r new example of American f o l k - a r t , The
Arrow Maker, w ith what she p ro fesse d fo r i t •
The p lay p re s e n ts n o th in g new.
bathed in a hazy blue*
I t s In d ian s a re rom antic savages
They speak a s t i l t e d language.
And out o f a l l
th e melodrama comes an
o ld , old theme:
o f g e n iu s, has a r i g h t
t o "love w ith a man, work w ith a man, and b e ar a
c h ild ."
t h a t a woman, t h i s tim e a woman
I t is fe m in is t propaganda in e x p e rtly a l l i e d w ith Mary A u s tin 's
idea about genius — t h a t genius is a v e s s e l through which th e Powers work,
a mere v e h ic le of th e gods, th e v e h ic le rem aining in a l l o th e r re s p e o ts a
normal human b e in g , a g re a t s o c ia l a s s e t , which s o c ie ty ought t o c h e ris h
and t o a llo w a normal l i f e .
woman o f a t r i b e o f P a iu te s .
The main c h a ra c te r i s C h ise ra , th e m edicine
A young w a rrio r, Simwa, who hopes t o become
th e war le a d e r o f th e t r i b e , makes love t o C h isera and she resp o n d s.
i t develops t h a t Simwa
had made love to C hisera only t o g ain h e r fav o r so
t h a t she in tu r n can g et fav o rs
58
fo r him from th e gods. Simwa i s
"R eorganisation o f th e New T h e a tre ," lo c . c i t «, p.1 0 3 .
59 I b i d ., p .1 0 4 .
But
s u c c e s s fu l,
80
but when C hisera le a rn s of h is d u p lic ity and le arn s t h a t he i s t o m arry
th e dau g h ter of th e c h ie f o f th e t r i b e , she ceases making good m edicine
fo r Simwa.
She cannot put bad m edicine upon Simwa (h er f a th e r , f o r some
re a so n , had n o t bequeathed h e r t h a t pow er), but she can cease o b ta in in g
fa v o rs f o r him.
Simwa lo ses h is power as a war le a d e r.
and is d riv e n in to d e sp e ra te s t r a i t s by enem ies.
The t r i b e s u ffe rs
The In d ia n s ap p eal to
C h isera t o plead -with th e gods f o r them, fo r th e t r i b e , fo r th e s ta rv in g
o h ild r e n .
She can n o t.
Her power i s l o s t .
Her s p i r i t i s dead .
She has
n o t had tr u e lo v e , has n o t had a c h ild , has been used by th e t r i b e only
fo r what she could g et f o r them , and has n o t had th e f u l l l i f e o f a p la in
woman w ith , however, th e in e x p lic a b le giffc.
Although she i s w illin g , she
cannot r a i s e h e r energy or h e r s p i r i t t o th e p o in t where th e gods w i l l
hear h e r.
She and th e whole t r i b e p e r is h .
That th e foregoing summary is n o t an u n f a ir im p o sitio n o f d u ll
a lle g o ry upon a work of a r t i s proved by th e a u th o r 's p re fa c e .
The p refao e
i n s i s t s t h a t th e M edicine Woman " is sim ply th e G en iu s,”®® t h a t she a cc e p ts
h e r preeminence as something t r a d i t i o n a l , th a t she is th e r e f o r e somewhat
a t th e mercy of th e t r i b e , t h a t "th e whole q u e stio n th e n becomes one o f
how th e t r i b e s h a ll work th e C h isera t o t h e i r b e st a d v a n ta g e .”®^- The
t r i b e , e s p e c ia lly Simwa, do work th e C h isera to t h e i r ad v an tag e, bu t
u ltim a te ly t o t h e i r damage.
The p la y should be re a d , M rs. A ustin s a y s ,
w ith " i t s a p p lic a tio n in mind t o th e p re se n t s o c ia l awakening t o th e w a ste ,
th e enormous and stu p id w aste, o f th e g i f t s o f women."
62
Two g re a t s tu p id i-
60
Mary A u stin , The Arrow Maker, Revised E d itio n (Boston and New
York, 1915), p .x .
61
Ib id . , p .x i .
62
I b id .
"but when C hisera le a rn s o f h is d u p lio ity and le a rn s t h a t he i s t o inarry
th e d aughter of th e c h io f o f th e t r i b e , she cea ses making good raedioine
fo r SiiTtwa.
she cannot put bad medicine upon Simra. (her f a th e r , f o r some
re a so n , had :.ot bequeathed h e r t h a t pow er), bu t she can cease o b ta in in g
favors f o r him.
Simwa lo se s h is power as a war le a d e r.
and i s d riv e n in to d e sp e ra te s t r a i t s by enem ies.
The t r i b e su ffe r#
The In d ia n s appeal to
C hisera t o plead w ith th e gods f o r them, f o r th e t r i b e , fo r th e sta rv in g
c h ild re n .
3he can n o t.
Her power i s l o s t .
Her s p i r i t i s dead.
She has
n o t had tr u e lo v e , has n o t had a c h ild , has been used by th e t r i b e only
fo r what she could get fo r them, and has n o t had th e f u l l l i f e o f a p la in
woman w ith , however, th e in e x p lic a b le g i f t .
A lthough she i s w illin g , she
cannot r a i s e h e r energy or h e r s p i r i t t o th e p o in t where th e gods w ill
hear h e r.
She and th e whole t r i b e p e r is h .
That th e foregoing stxnmary is n o t an u n f a ir im p o sitio n o f d u ll
a lle g o ry upon a work o f a r t is proved by th e a u th o r 's p re fa c e .
The p re fa c e
i n s i s t s tiia t th e 'Medicine Horan " is sim ply th e G en iu s,”®® t h a t she a c c e p ts
h e r preeminence as something t r a d i t i o n a l , th a t she is th e re fo re somewhat
a t th e mercy of th e t r i b e , t h a t "th e whole q u e stio n th en beoomes one o f
how th e t r i b e s h a ll work th e C hisera t o t h e i r b e s t a d v a n t a g e . T h e
t r i b e , e s p e c ia lly Simwa, do work th e C h isera to t h e i r advantage, but
u ltim a te ly t o t h e i r damage.
The p lay should be re a d , Mrs. A ustin s a y s,
w ith " i t s a p p lic a tio n in mind t o th e p re sen t s o c ia l awakening t o th e w a ste ,
th e enormous and s tu p id w aste, o f th e g i f t s o f women.”
62
Two g re a t B tu p id i-
60
Mary A u stin , The Arrow Maker, R evised E d itio n (Boston and New
York, 1915), p*x.
61
81
t i e s , she s a y s , a re th e s e s
( l ) th e id e a t h a t women have no g ifb s o f
s o c ia l v a lu e , and ( 2) th e idea t h a t "a g i f t o f m othering must n o t "be
e x ercise d except in th e event of a p a r tic u la r man being a b le , under c e r 63
t a i n r e s t r i c t i o n s , t o a ffo rd th e o p p o rtu n ity .1* The p la y has been p re ­
sented under "p rim itiv e co n d itio n s where no t r a d i t i o n in te rv e n e s t o p r e 64
v en t s o o ie ty from a o c e p tin g th e lo g io o f e v e n ts ."
In s h o r t, The Arrow
Maker i s a dram atic re n d e rin g o f th e theme o f "The ViaIk in g Woman" in Lost
B orders, a l i t t l e more b o ld ly p resen ted th a n fo rm erly , and s t i l l o ff e rin g ,
in i t s apparent championship o f fre e lo v e , th e same c o n f lic t w ith Mrs.
A u s tin 's l a t e r s t r i c t p r in c ip le s in th e m a tte r o f love and m a rria g e .
A. H. Quinn t r e a t s The Arrow Maker in connection w ith W illiam
Vaughn Moody's and Josephine P resto n Peabody's p lay s as an example of
e a r ly tw e n tie th c e n tu ry p r o t e s t .
A ll, Quinn sa y s, p o rtr a y th e "re p re ssed
and in su rg e n t d e s ir e fo r p a r tic ip a tio n in l i f e " and h o ld up "the in d iv id 65
u a l 's ri$vfc t o s e lf - e x p r e s s io n ."
Seen in t h i s l i g h t and in th e a d d itio n a l
l i g h t o f Mary A u s tin 's r e i t e r a t e d theme t h a t a woman has th e r i g h t t o be
a r t i s t and normal woman. The Arrow Maker becomes more s ig n if ic a n t fo r i t s
t h e s i s th an f o r i t s a tte m p t t o t r e a t "indigenous" American m a te r ia ls .
A fte r a l l , i t i s only in c id e n ta lly an In d ian p la y .
63 Ib id .
64 I b id . , p . x i i .
65Quinn, o£. o i t . , I I , 5, 24.
82
66
The Lovely Lady
p o rtra y s som ething of th e American sm all-tow n
environm ent, has European soenes rem in iscen t o f Henry James, and o lo ses
■with th e theme t h a t s u o o e ssfu l m arriage is no t based an rom sntio love
and t h a t f in a n c ia l sueoess i s no b a r t o a man’ s s e l f - c u l t i v a t i o n .
sen se , The Lovely Lady,I s th e d u lle s t book Mary A u stin e v er w ro te .
In a
I t is
f i l l e d w ith cloudy symbols, th e c h a r a c te r s ’ m otives a re n e e d le s s ly sub­
t i l i s e d , and, in th e e f f o r t t o av o id in tru d in g w ith th e theme to o obviously,
th e a u th o r b lu rs h e r whole book.
Furtherm ore, in p u ttin g h er h ero through
th e experience of e arn in g a fo rtu n e in Chicago, Mrs. A ustin i s on com­
p a r a tiv e ly u n fa m ilia r ground.
I t i s th e s to r y o f P e te r W eatheral, a youth given t o dreaming o f
th e Wonderful House and a P rin c e ss in i t .
someone e l s e , and P e te r ’ s dream i s wreoked.
His f i r s t P rin c e ss m a rrie s
He g o e s 'to work t o support
a widowed m other and c rip p le d s i s t e r and to pay o f f a mortgage on th e
farm .
He decides t o become r i c h , and i s r ic h a t f o r t y , a l l th e dream
having been lo s t s ig h t o f in th e meantime.
And th e n he f a l l s in love
w ith Eunice Goodward, a young s o o ie ty g i r l , whose mother i s a t t r a c t e d
by P e te r ’s w e alth .
Up t o t h i s p o in t, th e s to ry i s re m in isc en t of W ells’
Kipps (1905)) but in th e remainder o f th e s to r y , in p l o t , them e, and to n e ,
th e f a in t lik e n e ss a lto g e th e r d is a p p e a rs .
Years o f d e n ia l and hard work have made P e te r f e e l som ething o f a
boor in th e presence o f Eunioe.
He knew h im s e lf, m odestly, no p riz e fo r h e r ex cep t a s he was
added t o by in e stim ab le p a ss io n . Whatever she saw in him a s a
man, f o r h e r not t o reco g n ize th e immortal w orth o f what he was
66
Mary A u stin , The Lovely Lady (Garden C ity , New York, 1913).
83
a b le to become under h e r hand, mas t o s u b tra c t something from h er
p e r f e c tio n s . In h e r aooeptance V Q u l d l i e th e Q ueen's to u o h , r e ­
deeming him from a l l commonness.
Eunioe a cc e p ts h is p ro p o sal i n g in g e rly fa s h io n .
Then P e t e r 's h e a lth b re a k s, and he i s o rdered t o Europe f o r two
y ears.
He goes t o V enice, where he m eets S a v illa D asscm ville, sohool-
te a c h e r is h , a b i t faded, t i r e d , w ith th e mark o f th e Amerioan v illa g e
on h e r .
She i s d isc e rn in g and oom penionable, b u t P e te r r e ta in s h is
v is io n o f E unice, o f th e "P rin cess and th e Shining H ouse."
N e v e rth e le ss,
P e te r becomes in te r e s te d in S a v ill a , s e c r e tly eases th e f in a n c ia l p a th f o r
h e r and h e r companion, and once i n th e n ig h t g ets a psychic message from
h e r and goes t o h e r — lik e Jane Eyre t o R oohester.
The r e a l P rin c e ss
comes t o Venice and b reaks o f f h e r engagement, re v e a lin g t h a t she had
su rren d ered t o h e r m o th e r's w i l l , t h a t P e te r was to o old fo r h e r , t h a t
she had never loved him.
This r e v e la tio n , made by a woman o f suoh sh in ­
in g beauty, cru sh es P e te r.
. . . Never, even in h is dream s, . . . should he be a b le t o
see h im self in any o th e r guise th a n th e m eagre, a u s te re f r o n t
whioh h is o b lig a tio n t o h is mother and E lle n h is c rip p le d s i s t e r
had ob lig ed him t o p re s e n t t o d e s tin y . She had beggared him of
a l l th o se a p titu d e s f o r p a ssio n a te r e l a t i o n s , by th e f a i t h in
which he had k e p t h im s e lf inw ardly a l i v e . The c a p a c ity f o r loving
d ie d in him w ith th e knowledge o f n o t being a b le t o be lo v ed .
C onsequently, P e te r i s r a th e r ho p eless about even S a v illa Dassonv ille .
The comradeship c o n tin u e s, b u t he th in k s o f reasons f o r n o t m arry­
in g h e r , "reasons ro o te d v e ry sim ply in h is m an's hunger f o r th e l i f t , th e
d iz z y in g eminence o f d e s ir e ."
67 I b id , , p p ,139-140.
68 I b i d . , p.248.
S a v illa i s f a l l i n g in love w ith him, a s he
84
s e a s , b u t he i s bogged in in d ecisio n *
Her announcement t h a t she i s t o
leave Venice b rin g s from him a spontaneous adm ission t h a t he does not
want h e r t o le a v e .
There i s a p ro p o sa l o f m a rria g e .
S a v illa is d e lim ite d
t h a t he i s o ld e r th a n sh e, and in t h e i r th re e -d a y engagement he re v iv e s
and i s p e rm itte d t o "shower la rg e ss e " and f e e l h im se lf ag ain "a man ac­
q u a in te d w ith p a s s io n ."
They a re m a rrie d , and th e im p lic a tio n is t h a t
th e y w ill liv e in Bloombury, h is home-town and h e r s .
She i s th e daughter
of a banker, now dead, whom P e te r had c a lle d upon in h is youth to ask how
t o grow r i c h , and h er mother had been "th e lo v e ly lady" whose graoe and
oharm had much im pressed th e y o u th fu l P e te r.
S t i l l he m isses th e P rin c e s s .
q u ite up t o h is dreams.
This a f f a i r w ith S a v illa is not
But as he th in k s i t o v e r, he sees h im se lf as
th e p o te n tia l f a th e r of " lo v e ly l a d i e s ," a san e, mature man w ith money
enough t o liv e s e n s ib ly .
J u s t as he b id s th e P rin ce ss o f h is im agination
goodbye fo r e v e r , he sees h is w ife , S a v illa , going t o h e r room.
" . . .
he saw h er oame — as he had always seen h e r, a s he knew now he was to
see h e r always — h is w ife and th e Lovely Lady." 69
The main purpose of th e s to r y , i t i s o b v io u s, i s t o show t h a t p e r­
f e c t "m ate-love" is n o t n e c e s s a rily founded upon a w hirlw ind p a ssio n .
A
mature man and woman, w ith u n d e rstan d in g , o o nfidenoe, and e q u a lity , oan
forego th e g re a t p a s s io n a l d is p la y .
P e te r had n o t loved Eunice Goodward,
b u t r a th e r had loved only a boyish id e a o f b e au ty and m agnificence she
c a lle d up in him.
He had wanted t o w orship d e v o ted ly , t o show him self
oapable o f a d re a m e r^ p a ss io n ; and he found, a f t e r calm ly engaging him­
s e l f t o S a v i l l a , th a t she was th e Lovely la d y , th e P rin cess i n th e Wonderful
69
I b i d . , p .2 7 2 .
85
House, t o be la id hold o f o nly a f t e r experience and lo s s e s , and no t
something to be had g r a t i s by a boyish dream er.
I t i s a l i t t l e sermon
swathed in B a r r ie - lik e w h im s ic a litie s j b u t a t th e core i s a v e ry p la in
d is h indeed — th e same d is h served in Santa Lucia and Lost Borders and
to be served many tim es more.
There i s , in The Lovely la d y , along w ith th e sometimes Jamesian
technique and s t y l e , some r a th e r a c u te probing i n to o onsoiousness, some
s u b tle aw areness o f s o c ia l d i s tin c ti o n s , some c a r e f u l dram atic working
out o f m o tiv es.
The p o r tr a y a l of P e te r ’s r e a c tio n t o Europe, on th e one
hand, and to th e s c h o o lte a c h e r's p la in n e ss of S a v illa , on th e o th e r hand, i s
sometimes alm ost w orthy o f Henry James. The s to r y , however, i s bogged in
symbolism, th e overuse o f which might have been due t o Mrs. A u s tin 's l ik ­
in g fo r H. G. W e lls' n o v e ls .
The P e te r who, as a y o u th , dreamt so muoh
of th e "House o f th e Shining W alls" is h a rd ly th e man t o achieve th e
f in a n c ia l sucoess t h a t P e te r does; and th e P e te r who made so much money
in Chicago r e a l e s ta te i s h a rd ly th e man t o absorb a l l I t a l i a n a r t in
le s s th an two y e a rs .
And y e t a p a rt o f th e a u th o r 's purpose was t o p ra is e th e su ccess­
f u l man, t o put dreamer and doer in to one.
P e te r is much lik e Helmeth
G a r r e tt, th e adm irer of th e "woman o f g e n iu s," who, a s w i l l be shown
l a t e r , was m odelled on th e o h a ra c te r of H erb ert Hoover.
Mary A u stin had
g re a t ad m iration f o r achievem ent, fo r men who had "m astery over T h in g s."
They were p lo d d e rs, th e y had m issed some of th e g ra c e s, b u t th e y had had
experience and were o f s ta b le w orth.
M rs. A u s tin 's a t t i t u d e tow ard doers
was always more o r le s s th e same a s h er a t t i t u d e tow ards Evan Lind le y in
Santa L ucia:
t h a t suoh men cannot be judged in term s o f preoonoeived
86
n o tio n s o f r ig h t and wrong.
Through D a ss a n v ille , th e fa th e r o f S a v illa ,
on whom P e te r had o a lle d w ith h a t in hand t o le a r n about su co ess, Mrs.
A ustin speaks h e r own sen tim en ts:
"The most o f poor men w ill s i t about and r a i l and envy th e
r i c h , b u t h a rd ly one would th in k to ask how i t i s done, o r be­
lie v e i f he were t o l d . They’ve a n o tio n i t ’s a l l gouging and
luok, and you co u ld n ’t b e a t t h a t ou t o f them i f you t r i e d . Very
few of them understand how sim ple suocess i s ; i t i s n 't easy o fte n ,
b u t i t i s always simple."^®
W ithout being unaware o f t h e i r lim it a tio n s , Mary A u stin was n e v e rth e le s s
co n scio u sly and unoonsciously an adm irer o f su o o e ssfu l men.
The uncon­
scious ad m iration came p a r tly , no doubt, out o f h e r f e e lin g th e need of
a s tro n g man to r e l y upon, sinoe th e f a i l u r e o f h e r m arriage was due, she
lam ented, p a r tly t o h e r husband's incompetence and i n a b i l i t y t o provide
fo r h e r.
Likew ise, h e r fre q u e n tly rep eated id e a th a t m ate-love i s not
rom antic, th a t a m ature, com petent, sober woman i s d eserv in g o f th e love
o f a lik e man i s som ething o f a r a tio n a liz a ti o n o f h e r own want o f a t t r a c ­
tiv e n e s s and o f h e r a lo n en e ss.
" F r u s tr a te ,"
71
h a lf s to r y and h a lf e x p o sito ry e ss a y , i s to th e
c a r e f u l re a d e r o f Mary A u s tin 's works alm ost e n t i r e l y a u to b io g ra p h ic a l,
and so com pletely re v e a lin g o f th e a u th o r 's f r u s t r a t i o n a s to be alm ost
p itia b le .
W hitten in th e f i r s t person a s th e s o lilo q u y o f an unhappy
and f r u s tr a te d m arried woman who wishes t o w rite and whose husband cannot
understand h e r g e n iu s , i t beoomes a p a ss io n a te d e c la r a tio n of independence
from th e v illa g e mind and t r a d i t i o n , only t o sin k a t th e end back in to
r e s ig n a tio n .
70
In a l l b u t th e re s ig n a tio n a t th e end, i t i s th e s to r y o f
I b i d . , p . 31.
7 Mary A u stin , " F r u s tr a te ," C entury M agazine, IXXXIII (1912),
467-471.
1
87
Mary A ustin h e r s e lf ; and th e u ltim a te f r u s t r a t i o n of th e woman in th e
s o lilo q u y is only Mary A u stin ’ s way of say in g t h a t th e o rd in a ry woman,
f ig h tin g a lone b a t t l e a g a in s t s o o ia l o b tu sen e ss, w i l l have t o endure
f r u s t r a t i o n and d e fe a t u n t i l th e tim e when s o c ia l in te llig e n c e i s p e r­
m itte d t o p la y upon h e r problem .
This i s a ls o th e theme o f A Woman o f
G enius.
A Woman of Genius i s Mary A u stin ’s most s a ti s f a c to r y n o v e l.
Its
theme i s c le a r and is p r e c is e ly worked o u t, w ithout a lle g o r y and w ith o u t
symbolism.
I t s s u b je c t i s th e l i f e Mary A u stin knew in C a r l i n v i l l e , I l l i ­
n o is , th e in tim a te , p e rso n al problems in v o lv ed in t h a t l i f e , and th e
people or ty p e s o f people she knew.
The-main them e, t h a t o f th e s tru g g le
o f an a c tr e s s t o fr e e h e r s e lf from th e in h ib itio n s pu t upon h e r by th e
C a r lin v ille p a tte r n , i s th e main theme o f Mary A u stin ’s own l i f e , h er
own s tru g g le t o fin d wholeness in th e y ears a f t e r h e r c o n f lic t w ith th e
sm all-tow n p a tte r n .
A Woman o f Genius, more th a n any o th e r o f M rs.
A u stin ’s n o v e ls, has u n ity , and does n o t in d u lg e i t s e l f in ir r e le v a n t
comments.
I t s m ilie u i s t h a t o f th e ty p i c a l and
In d ian s and th e f o lk and th e West do n o t in tr u d e .
an e x cessiv e amount o f t a l k .
d o m in a n t
American l i f e ;
I t i s burdened w ith
Ind eed , mofet o f th e scenes appear t o be
excuses t o s e t c h a ra c te rs ta lk in g about t h e i r problem s.
The book is
much more a o r itic is m o f l i f e th a n a dram atic p re s e n ta tio n or p o rtr a y a l
of l i f e .
N e v e rth e le ss, i f th e p re s e n ta tio n o f a t h e s i s or th e s o lu tio n
o f a problem i s w ith in th e provinoe of th e n o v e l, A Woman of Genius is a
prov o o ativ e and p ro p h e tic n o v e l, however d u l l and U n s k illfu l a s n a r r a ti v e .
88
Undoubtedly, M rs. A u stin ’ s acquaintance w ith H. G. Wells and h e r
enthusiasm f o r h is problem novels c o n trib u te d t o th e s o l i d i t y o f th e s tru c ­
tu r e o f h er n o v e l.
The unequivocal statem en t o f theme in th e f i r s t chap­
t e r and th e o p tim is tic m o ra lisin g upon what in te llig e n c e oan do t o h elp
m o rtals escape t h e i r b lin d muddling — th e s e th in g s ta k e th e same p a tte r n
and have th e same n o te o f e ag e r prophecy a s t h e i r p a r a l l e l s in W ells'
Tano-Bungay.
The lik e n e s s i s s t r i k i n g .
’’This is th e s to r y o f th e
s tru g g le between a Genius f o r T ragic A oting and th e d au g h ter of a County
C le rk , w ith th e s o c ia l id e a l o f T a y lo rv ille , Ohianna, fo r th e v i l l a i n , ”
79
Mrs. A u stin say s; W ells i n s i s t s t h a t h is s to r y is th e s to r y o f th e w aste
of human reso u ro es due to th e c a rry in g of th e Bladesover (fe u d a l) p a tte r n
over in to modem l i f e .
And j u s t as Wells is s u r e , a t th e end o f Tono-
Bungay, t h a t somehow in te llig e n c e and a u s t e r i t y and b e au ty w il l p r e v a il,
so is M rs. A u stin c e r ta in t h a t someday bungling and s tu p id ity w il l give
way to reason and d is p a s s io n a te in te llig e n c e .
The h e ro in e , O liv ia
L attim o re, a t th e end o f h e r s to r y , i n s i s t s t h a t by ru n n in g a fo u l o f
l i f e she has learn ed about l i f e , has le arn ed th e what and how o f i t , and
t h a t she and h e r k in d , th e adventurous and i d e a l i s t i c , "no u rish th e w orld
toward th e la rg e r e x p e c ta tio n ."
73
O livia L attim ore h o ld s th a t th e r e must
be a r ig h t way about m arriag e, a s c i e n t i f i c , s e n s ib le way, and t h a t some­
body w i l l disoover i t .
To th e o b je c tio n t h a t a l l th in g s might th e n lo se
t h e i r sav o r, O liv ia answers v e ry much in th e s t r a i n o f George Ponderevo
in W ells’ book:
72
Mary A u stin , A Woman of Genius (Garden C ity , New York, 1912), p . 5.
73 I b i d . , p .5 0 4 .
89
"Oh, t h e r e ’d be o th e r f i e l d s , "Why sh o u ld n ’t i t be t h a t -when
■we have found out our r e l a t i o n t o th e p h y sio a l -world — we a re
fin d in g i t , you know, r a d io a c ti v ity and laws o f f a l l i n g b o d ies - go on fin d in g out th e law of our r e la tio n s t o one an o th er? And,
when we’ve found t h a t o u t, th en t h e r e ’s a l l th e Heavenly H ost,
We’d have t o fin d o u t how t o g e t on w ith Them.11^
A Woman o f G enius, however, i s by no means an im ita tio n of H. G.
W ells.
However much M rs. A ustin may have been in flu en c ed by W ells’ id eo ­
lo g ic a l ra tio n a lis m and optimism, and by h is p a ssio n f o r prob lem -so lv in g ,
th e s ty le and theme of h e r novel a re th o ro u g h ly and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y
h e r own.
The book c e n te rs upon th e s tru g g le s o f an a r t i s t i c and c re a tiv e
p e rs o n a lity a g a in s t th e conventions of th e American sm all tow n.
O liv ia
Lattim ore i s possessed of " g e n iu s," bu t th e a u th o r i n s i s t s , as in The
Arrow Maker, t h a t th e a r t i s t as a person i s e x a c tly lik e o th e r normal
persons? t h a t genius i s a g i f t , a s p e c ia l d is p e n s a tio n , an o u tsid e power
working th ro u g h th e p e rs o n a lity of th e a r t i s t .
" . . .
i f I know an y th in g
of genius i t i s w holly e x tra n e o u s, d e riv e d , im p erso n al, flow ing through
and b y ." 75
For t o be a genius is no such v a n ity a s you im agine. I t i s t o
know g re a t d e s ire s and t o have no w i l l o f your own tow ard f u l ­
film e n t j i t i s t o feed o th e rs , y o u rs e lf u n fe d ; i t is t o be broken
and p lie d a s th e Powers determ ine; i t i s t o serv e and t o s e rv e ,
and t o g e t nothing out o f i t beyond th e jo y o f s e r v in g .7®
O liv ia L attim ore i s caught up by h e r g e n iu s, re b e ls a g a in s t i t , i s always
swept along in a predeterm ined p a th , and only a f t e r h e r m a tu rity comes t o
74
I b id . , p . 506. I t i s s ig n if ic a n t th a t " r a d io a c tiv ity " i s a v ery
im portant symbol in W ells’ Tono-Bungay; th e r a d io a c tiv e q u a lit ie s o f "quap"
oause a sym bolical breaking down o f im p erialism . On th e whole, M rs. A ustin
h e re escapes W ells’ high-flow n symbolism, alth o u g h in The Lovely Lady she
used same e la b o ra te symbols, a s shown.
75
I b i d . , p p .4 -5 .
76
I b i d . , p . 234
90
see th a t h e r p r iv a te woes and agonies a re due, n o t t o th e in e x o ra b le de­
mands o f h e r genius — fo llo w in g i t i s r e a l l y a g r e a t jo y and d e lig h t —
b u t t o th e s tu p id ity o f s o c ie ty , which w i l l n o t p erm it h e r a norm al p e r­
so n al l i f e along w ith h e r o a re e r.
To put i t more c le a r ly , th e m ajor theme i s as follow s * American
c o n v e n tio n a lity , so com pletely unaware o f how a genius f o r a r t works in
a p erso n , e s p e c ia lly in a woman, makes th e way u n n e o e ssa rily hard f o r th e
a r t i s t ; and th e a r t i s t , o a n tra ry to p u b lic o p in io n , does n o t gain any
advantage by s u ffe rin g o r is o l a t i o n .
This theme i s b u t th e v e ry f a m ilia r one emphasized in fe m in ist
l i t e r a t u r e a s th a t l i t e r a t u r e was b eg in n in g , in th e e a r ly y e ars o f th e
c e n tu ry , t o be in flu en c ed by id e as ab o u t th e a r t i s t ' s need f o r freedom.
The r e a l “so u rces" o f A Woman o f Genius a re Frances W illard and George
S te r l in g , supplemented by Fabian and W ellsian concepts o f " c u ltu r a l la g ."
The two works on "a woman of genius" which might be expeoted t o have in ­
flu en ced Mrs. A u stin , seem a c tu a lly t o have had l i t t l e , i f any, in flu e n c e .
Theodore D r e is e r 's woman genius in S i s t e r C a rrie has no la rg e s o c ia l view
w hatever; o n ly a sm all p a r t o f th e book i s devoted t o C a rrie a s g en iu s.
She is an a r t i s t m erely by a c c id e n t and she moves through h e r a r t i s t i c
$
paoes q u ite u n co n so io u sly .
George M oore's Evelyn Innes i s a stu d y in
th e v o lu p tu o u sly m y stic a l r e lig io u s and a r t i s t i c temperam ent; by compar­
is o n , Mrs. A u s tin 's O liv ia i s a c le a r-h e a d e d , h a rd -d riv in g p ra g m a tis t.
The o nly p o in t o f lik e n e ss — and i t i s n o t a stro n g one — i s t h a t
O liv ia has some com punctions, a s does Evelyn In n e s , about having liv e d
w ith a man a s m is tre s s .
Evelyn Innes i s th e only book of th e th r e e which
91
convinces th e re a d e r t h a t th e woman concerned i s a c t u a lly a g e n iu s .77
N e ith e r D re is e r’s nor Moore’s woman i s fo r one moment occupied w ith th e
w holesale condemnation of s o c ia l s tu p id ity which so th o ro u g h ly engages
O liv ia .
O liv ia i s h u t a b e la te d " c h ise ra " from The Arrow Maker; and,
alth o u g h M rs. A ustin has v e ry h ig h n o tio n s of th e a r t i s t ’s s o c ia l fu n c­
t i o n a s prophet and s e e r , she has v ery lim ite d powers o f p o rtra y in g a
working and liv in g a r t i s t e .
A Woman o f Genius is im portant and s i g n i f i ­
c a n t a s s o c ia l o r itic is m , and extrem ely weak a s a p o r tr a y a l of o h a ra o te r.
O liv ia L attim o re, re a re d in T a y lo r v ille , Ohianna, i s m isunderstood
by h e r mother and b ro th e r and a l l th e tow nspeople.
She h a s , however, no
o p p o rtu n ity t o see th e sm all-tow n p a tte r n o f am bitions and m o ra litie s from
th e o u ts id e , and a t a n e a r ly age i s engaged t o Tommy B ettersw o rth , h e r
’’s te a d y ," a f t e r h e r mother has p ro h ib ite d correspondence between h e r and
a f la s h y v i s i t o r in town, Helmeth G a r r e tt.
Tommy’s b u sin ess ta k e s him t o
a nearby town, H ig g lesto n , where th e young w ife i s r e s t l e s s , am b itio u s,
and unpopular among th e tow nspeople.
e x citem en t.
Tommy is a c lo d , and O liv ia wants
She a lie n a te s a l l th e women o f th e town by w ishing t o organize
a kind o f community t h e a t e r .
t a l e n t i s f o r d ra m a tic s.
F in a lly i t dawn3 on h e r t h a t th e suppressed
She g e ts a n o p p o rtu n ity to ta k e th e r o le o f an
in d isp o sed a o tre s s connected w ith a sm all sto o k company.
A gainst h er
husband's w ishes and p re ju d ic e s , she co n tin u es w ith th e company, and
reach es a p o in t of success where she could w e ll support th e husband i f
77C f. Van Wyck Brooks, S ketches in C ritio is m (New York, 1932), p . 94.
Of books cTealing w ith "the hero as a r t i s t , 1*- Brooks' m entions Mary A u s tin 's A
Woman o f Genius, Jaok London's M artin Eden, D re is e r’s The Genius, Stephen
French~TOiitman1s P re d e stin e d , and' W illa C a th e r's The Song o f th e Lark. With
th e p o s s ib le ex ce p tio n o f th e last-nam ed w ork, Brooks s a y s, "th e re i s n o t a
convincing fig u r e among them. They do n o t convey th e im pression o f genius
o r even o f an eoanomy o f t a l e n t . "
M rs. A ustin chose an a o tr e s s fo r h e r genius probably because o f re c e n t
a cq u ain tan ce w ith t h e a t r i o a l people w hile The Arrow Maker was b ein g produoed.
D espite h e r enthusiasm f o r Percy Mack&ye's id e a s and f o r th e community and ex­
p e rim e n ta l t h e a t e r , however, h e r knowledge of th e t h e a t r i o a l w orld was lim ite d .
92
only he would ean sen t to come w ith her*
and Tommy grows*
The m isunderstanding between h e r
She re tu rn s onoe from a ro ad t r i p t o fin d Tommy in love
w ith a s h riv e le d , meek s p in s te r , th e daughter o f Tommy’s p a rtn e r in th e
t a i l o r i n g b u s in e s s .
in Chicago*
She d iv o rces Tommy.
Then follow y e a rs o f stru g g le
From se c o n d -ra te sto c k p la y in g t o a c a re e r a s th e o u tstan d ­
in g tra g e d ie n n e in America i s a long and b i t t e r d i s c i p li n e , but f i n a l l y
O liv ia 's sucoess i s complete*
th e scene*
In London, Helmeth G a rre tt comes back on
O liv ia and he f a l l in love*
He i s a h ig h ly s u c c e ss fu l m ining
prom oter, whose b u sin ess keeps him jumping t o th e four c o rn e rs of th e
e a r th .
His w ife i s d ead, and he has two d a u g h te rs, f o r whose oare he de­
s ir e s a w ife .
The ex ig en c ie s o f h is c a re e r and o f O liv ia ’s , however, d e la y
t h e i r in ten d ed m a rria g e .
They engage in a p a ss io n a te love a f f a i r .
His
soberness and h is success ap p eal t o O liv ia , and h er fame and b r il lia n c e
appeal t o Helmethj and both remember th e in te r r u p te d love a f f a i r of t h e i r
youth.
J u s t a s th e y a re about t o m arry, Helmeth s u f f e r s an ao o essio n of
sma11-town and y o u th fu l p re ju d ic e s a g a in s t a woman’ s having a c a r e e r.
wants a w ife and a mother f o r h is d a u g h ters.
He
O liv ia i s w illin g t o be b o th ,
b u t i n s i s t s on co n tin u in g in h er c a r e e r , fo r s in c e she has been H elm eth's
m is tre s s h e r a c tin g has been more b r i l l i a n t th a n ever b e fo re .
i s in s u p e ra b le .
The o o n f lio t
T irin g o f c la n d e s tin e m eetings in h o te ls whenever th e
demands o f t h e i r two c a re e rs p e rm it, and both unable t o give i n , th e two
lo v ers p a r t .
O liv ia 's c a re e r s u ffe rs fo r a w h ile , bu t she u ltim a te ly r e ­
gains some of h er power.
At th e en d , she m a rrie s a p la y w rig h t.
The
attachm ent is a common-sense one, designed t o s te a d y th e two p a r tie s —
a nanrom antic m ating of two persons o f lik e i n t e r e s t s , b u t one which has
oome to o l a t e t o s tim u la te e ith e r p a rty to h is g r e a te s t c a p a c ity .
O liv ia
93
i s aware t h a t th e T a y lo rv ille p a tte r n — th e p a tte r n o f male supremaoy
and th e " tr a d itio n of woman's p re c io u sn e ss" - - whioh has in flu en c ed
even th e otherw ise i n t e l l i g e n t Helmeth G a r r e tt, i s th e v i l l a i n in th e
s to r y .
That th e p a tte r n should have ru in e d h e r r e la tio n s h ip w ith Tommy
B ettersw o rth was n o t s u rp ris in g ; h u t t h a t i t should have k ep t Helmeth
G a rre tt and h e r from a companionable m arriage o f love and b r i l l i a n t
shared achievem ent was evidence o f i t s s tu p id ity and w a s te fu ln e s s .
theme i s th e old one:
The
a woman has s tre n g th o f h e r own; she should be
allow ed t o love w ith a man, work w ith a man, and b e a r a c h i ld , and in
a d d itio n accom plish something in h e r own r ig h t i f she has any c a p a c ity
f o r accom plishm ent.
There i s a s o lid s u b stru c tu re of autobiography in A Woman o f G enius.
Many s itu a tio n s in th e book have p a r a l l e l s in Mary Hunter A u s tin 's l i f e .
T a y lo r v ille , Ohianna, i s C a r l i n v i l l e , I l l i n o i s .
O liv ia la tt im o r e 's con­
f l i c t w ith h e r mother and b ro th e r i s Mary H u n te r's .
w ith boys a re Mary A u s tin 's .
O liv ia 's ex p erien ces
O liv ia 's m arriage t o Tommy B ettersw o rth i s
e s s e n t i a l l y Mary H u n te r's m arriage t o S . W. A u stin , sin ce th e same con­
f l i c t s a r i s e — th e w if e 's d e s irin g a c r e a tiv e l i f e , succeeding in i t
and a sk in g t h e husband t o come t o h e r , and h is re fu s in g .
O liv ia 's r e s t ­
le s s n e s s and i n a b i l i t y t o be understood by th e women o f H ig g lesto n is
Mary A u s tin 's stra n g en e ss in Bishop, Lone P in e , and Independence.
O liv ia
B ettersw o rth rescu es h e r b r o th e r , Fred la ttim o r e , from th e c lu tc h e s o f a
"designing woman" j u s t a s Mary Hunter had rescu ed h e r b r o th e r , James Milo
H unter.
There i s a s l i g h t e r p a r a lle lis m between O liv ia 's a s s o c ia tio n
w ith bohemian stag e f o lk and Mary A u s tin 's a s s o c ia tio n w ith George S te r lin g
and
Jack London and o th e r w rite rs and a r t i s t s in Carmel.
Helmeth G a rre tt
h a s , a s f a r a s can be determ ined, no ex act p a r a l l e l in Mary A u stin ’s l i f e ;
94
b ut th e man h im s e lf , n o t th e s i t u a t i o n , i s p rob ab ly drawn from H erbert
H oover, whom Jlrs. A u stin knew and adm ired,
ment a f t e r he became P r e s id e n t .
1909 or 1910.
78
alth o u g h th e r e was e s tr a n g e ­
She met him and H rs. Hoover in London in
She d e d ic a te d A Homan o f Genius "to Lou Henry Hoover and
some p le a s a n t memories o f th e Red House in Hornton S t r e e t ," th e l a t t e r
b e in g th e r e sid e n c e o f th e Hoovers in London.
Helmeth G arrett i s , a s
was H erbert Hoover in 1912, a h ig h ly s u c c e s s f u l m ining e n g in e e r .
Gar­
r e t t ' s sh y n e s s , b lu n t n e s s , and fu r io u s en erg y are a l l c h a r a c t e r is t ic o f
H erbert H oover.
Of c o u r s e , n o t e v e r y d e t a i l o f Helmeth G a r r e tt's c a r e e r
has a p a r a l l e l in H erbert H oover's l i f e , b u t t h e g e n e r a l lik e n e s s i s v e r y
s tr ik in g .
That H rs. A u stin remained c l o s e t o th e a f f a i r s and problem s o f
her own l i f e in w r it in g A Homan o f Genius p a r t i a l l y a c c o u n ts f o r th e valu e
o f th e book a s an American document.
k r s . A u stin keeps t o th e fo r e her c r i t i c i s m o f th e w hole s o c i a l
p a tte r n o f T a y lo r v ille a s t h a t p a tte r n im pinged upon women.
The w orst
t h in g about th e T a y lo r v ille p a tte r n was t h a t i t co n tin u ed im posing i t s e l f
upon l i f e , even in th e c i t i e s , lon g a f t e r th e c o n d itio n s t h a t had n o u rish ed
th e p a tte r n had changed.
78
O liv ia f in d s th a t she cannot lo v e and marry G arrett
G f. , fo r in s ta n c e , th e glow ing p o r t r a it o f Hoover a s a g r e a t
s o c i a l prophet and i n t u i t i v e g e n iu s , in Hary A u s tin , "Homan's P r e fe r r e d
C an d id ate," C o l l i e r ' s , LXV (Ho. 18, Hay 2 9 , 1 9 2 0 ), pp. 7 f f .
There i s in Hary A u s t in 's lib r a r y in Santa Fe a copy o f H erbert
C lark Hoover and Lou Henry H oover's t r a n s l a t io n o f G eorgius A g r ic o la :
De Le H e t a llic a ( s ix t e e n t h ce n tu ry documents on m ining and m e t a llu r g y ) ,
T p r iv a t e ly p r in te d , London, 1 9 1 2 ), w ith th e i n s c r i p t io n "To k a ry A u s tin ,
in th e p la c e o f many l e t t e r s I Lou Henry H oover." The i n s c r i p t io n i s n o t
d a te d , b u t o f c o u rse would have t o be 1912 or l a t e r .
Another book in H rs. A u s t in 's lib r a r y i s Herbert H oover, Amer­
ic a n IndivdHuall^m (hew York, 1 9 2 2 ), in s c r ib e d : "To iir s . k ary A u stin w ith
k in d regard s o f H erbert H oover."
95
a s she -wishes, because, b e in g o f T a y lo r v ille , she and he never "moved
• • . in a fo o tin g o f intim acy among o th e r p a irs who had produced out
o f a s u n lik e ly m a te ria l, a competent and s a tis f y in g frame of l i f e . " ^
S t i l l worse i s what T a y lo rv ille has done to P au lin e A llingham , a former
playm ate, now m arried to a s u c c e ss fu l b u sin ess man o f Chicago.
P au lin e had been in h e r g irlh o o d , i f n o t p r e tty , a t le a s t what i s
known a s an a t t r a c t i v e g i r l , and . . . i t came to me w ith a shook
t h a t she was now, n o t o n ly n o t p a r t i c u l a r l y a t t r a c t i v e , b u t m iddleaged. I t was n o t so much in th e fu ln e s s under h e r c h in . . . nor
in th e th io k n e ss o f h e r w a ist . . . b u t in th e c e r ta in t y t h a t a l l
t h a t was ever t o happen to h e r in th e way o f illu m in a tin g and s e l f f o r g e ttin g p a ssio n , had a lre a d y happened.®0
A ll in a l l , A Woman o f Genius exp resses p r a c tic a l ly ev ery c r i t i c i s m of
th e American sm all-tow n way of l i f e t h a t was t o be expressed l a t e r by
a l l th e o r i t i o s , p o e ts , and n o v e lis ts a s s o c ia te d w ith th e " re v o lt from
th e v illa g e ."® *
Mary A u s tin ’ s " r e v o lt," however, was tem pered by u n d erstan d in g
and by a deep need f o r belo n g in g .
On th e s id e of sex u al m o ra lity h er
id e a s rem ained r a th e r c o n v en tio n al, alth o u g h s tro n g ly in d iv id u a lis tic
and fe m in is t.
A ll through h e r c o n ta c t w ith seo o n d -rate stag e f o lk ,
O liv ia L attim ore r e ta in s h e r shuddering h o rro r o f p ro m iscu ity and i l l i c i t
lo v e .
When O liv ia ’s mother i s i l l and O liv ia r e tu r n s home, a d iv o rc e e ,
fe e lin g m isunderstood and unwanted, she r e f l e o t s :
" S trick e n a s I was from
A u stin , A Woman o f G enius, p .4 6 1 .
80 I t i d >» pp.481-482.
The phrase i s ° a r l Van Doren’ s . See Contemporary American
N o v e lis ts : 1900-1920 (New York, 1922), pp.146 f f . A Woman o f Genius
(1912) p re d a ted M aste rs’ Spoon R iver A nthology (1915J, l i r e i s e r ’s The
Genius (1915), Brooks’ A m erica's Coming of Age (1915), Frank’s Our
America (1919), Anderson’s Wineaburg, Ohio (1919), Bourne’s H is to ry o f
a L ite r a r y R ad ical (1920), Lewis’ Main S tr e e t (1920).
96
my f i r s t r e a liz i n g c o n ta c t w ith s in [in th e w orld of th e t h e a t e r ; O liv ia
had n o t y e t h e r s e lf " sin n e d " ], and my i d e n t i f i c a t i o n w ith i t through th e
assumed p assio n s o f th e s ta g e , i t grew upon me d u rin g th e days o f my
m other’ s i l l n e s s t h a t th e r e was a kind of i n t r i n s i c worth in her which
Xf w ith a l l my powers, m ust forever and in a lie n a b ly miss."®**
O liv ia ,
w ith o u t muoh d i f f i c u l t y , remained fr e e of th e taw d rin ess o f th e t h e a t r i c a l
w orld.
But even when she f i r s t gave h e r s e l f t o h e r lo v e r, Helmeth G a r r e tt,
p a s s io n a te ly and n a tu r a lly , in a v e ry high-m inded alth o u g h i l l i c i t love
a f f a i r , " • • • deep under a l l , o ld , unimagined i n s ti n c ts re a re d t h e i r
heads and bayed a t th e v o ice of t h e i r m aster . . . " 83 And no sooner was
th e love consummated th a n O liv ia began th in k in g , a s she had thought a l l
alo n g , o f making th e r e la tio n s h ip perm anent,
l a t e r , a f t e r G a rre tt and
she have d r i f t e d a p a r t, and another man, m a rrie d , i s about t o make love
to h e r, th e t r a d i t i o n a l h ig h -se rio u sn e ss o f h e r up b rin g in g a s s e r ts i t s e l f ;
I was aware o f something t h a t ro se up from some su b terran ean c ry p t
in me • • ■ t h a t old romance of my m o th e r's . . . women lik e h e r,
w orlds of p a tie n t, overworking women who oould do w ith o u t happiness
i f only th e y found them selves doing r i ^ i t . Somehow th e y had la id
on me, th e n e c e s s ity o f being t r u e t o th e b e s t I had known, be­
cause i t was th e b e st and had been founded in in t e g r i t y and stay ed
on ren u n c iatio n s.® 4
However thoroughgoing th e challenge to T a y lo r v ille , Mary A u stin never
s e r io u s ly abandoned c e r ta in T a y lo rv ille v a lu e s .
Her r e v o lt was of s u b je c tiv e o r ig in , a l l i t s im p lic a tio n s worked
out w ith s e rio u sn e ss of purpose.
82
I t was never a pose borrowed from Europe.
A u stin , A Woman of G enius, p a202.
83 I b i d «» P*4 1 1 »
84 I b i d . , p . 501.
97
I t m s an in te n s iv e s e a rc h fa r th e good l i f e in term s of n a tiv e American
m a te ria ls .
In t h i s p o in t l i e s th e b a s is of h e r la te r contempt fo r New
York and th o se whom she m s t o c a l l th e " r a d ic a l i n t e l l e c t u a l s . "
freed o p from t r a d i t i o n irk e d h e r .
T h eir
Mary A u stin had le s s d e s ire f o r freedom
from t r a d i t i o n th a n fo r a p lace in a renewed and r e v iv if ie d t r a d i t i o n .
A n o s ta lg ia f o r belonging runs through a l l h er work.
Even in A Woman of
Genius she pays t r i b u t e t o t h a t s o c ia l s o l i d a r i t y which th e C iv il Vfe.r had
given t o h er re g io n .
I f th e r e had been in h e r tim e some such s o c ia l or
communal e l e c t r i f i c a t i o n she m ight n o t have re v o lte d .
They th e men o f Ohianna, O liv ia ’s male a n c e sto rs and r e l a t i v e s had
gone out from , th e y had come back t o , a l i f e a s l i t t l e re lie v e d by
adventure a s th e f l a t h o rizo n o f t h e i r co rn la n d s, bu t in th e in te rim
th e war th e y had s tre tc h e d them selves, endured, oonquered. . . .
To t h i s day I q u e stio n w hether Cousin Judd g o t more out o f h is
r e lig io n th a n out o f t h i s most u n o h ris tia n ex p erien c e , from which he
had come back s ilv e r tip p e d as i t w ere, from th a t empyry s ic in to
which men pass when th e y a re by g re a t emotions a l i t t l e removed from
th em selv es, t o k in d le in my young mind a r e a l i z a t i o n o f th e p re c io u s­
n e ss of p assio n over a l l human a s s e ts .® 8
I f only th e re had been some coranon p assio n and adventure in I l l i n o i s to
sh a re !
So in te n s e was t h a t d e s ir e t o belong t h a t O liv ia , a t one p la o e ,
alm ost s h r i l l y d e c la re s t h a t i t was n o t she who spurned Ohianna, b u t
Ohianna t h a t tu rn e d i t s back on h e r.
No one, I suppose, can go thro u g h t h a t co u n try so teem ing w ith th e
evidences o f th e common l i f e , th e oomrnon la b o u r, th e common hope of
im m o rtality , and not f e e l bereft; in a s much as th e oircum stanoes of
h is d e s tin y d iv id e him from i t . We passed H ig g lesto n j beyond th e
ro o fs of i t th e elms t h a t marked th e cem etery ro a d , gathered green .
The ro o fs o f th e town were steep ed i n windy l i ^ i t . I had no im pulse
t o stop t h e r e . I withdrew from i t a s one does from a p riv a te a f f a i r
upon which he has stumbled unaware. Rather i t was n o t I who w ithdrew ,
b u t L ife a s i t was liv e d th e r e , tu rn e d i t s baok upon me.®®
85
I b id . , pp. 45-46.
86 I b i d . , p . 479.
98
The p o in t a t which A Woman o f Genius, so s u p e rio r t o Mr s . A u s tin 's
o th e r n o v e ls, i s lin k e d in s e p a ra b ly w ith h er o th e r w orks, i s in i t s fem­
i n i s t them e, i t s b y -th is -tim e d re a ry in s is te n c e upon th e f o l l y o f th e t r a ­
d itio n o f woman's p re c io u sn e ss.
O liv ia has t o f ig h t f o r independence frpm
h er b ro th e r, t o keep from rem aining in T a y lo rv ille t o m ain tain a home fo r
him.
She a ls o has t o rescue h e r s i s t e r from him.
And, of c o u rse , Tomny
B ettersw o rth and even Helmeth G a rre tt a re pushed a s id e in th e o a re e r o f
t h i s woman who demands th e r i g h t to be and t o accom plish and n o t t o be
judged s o le ly by what she can make some man f e e l .
This id ea o f Mary A u s t in 's , pursued w ith sim ple m o d ifica tio n s
th ro u g h so many books, was no p le a fo r bohemianismj i t was th e o b sessio n ,
r a t h e r , o f a n in e te e n th -c e n tu ry fe m in ist o f tremandous "high s e rio u sn e s s" ,
w ith l i t t l e of th e saving q u a lity o f humor or th e power of se e in g l i f e
o b je c tiv e ly .
Nowhere e ls e i n a l l l i t e r a r y h i s to r y , p erh ap s, i s th e r e
more dogged p u r s u it of a sim ple id e a , or a simple id e a oouohed in more
b ew ild erin g te rm s.
CHAPTER IV
•WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND DUTIES
Between A Woman o f Genius (1912) and Love and th e Soul Maker (1914),
Mary A u s tin 's id e as upon th e e s s e n tia ls o f th e "woman problem" underwent
a r a th e r sudden change.
women ~
Up to 1912, she was th e advocate o f freedom f o r
freedom t o have m arriage and t o pursue a c a r e e r , freedom t o e n te r
in to a tr u e p a rtn e rs h ip w ith men.
Lost Borders and, t o some e x te n t, The
Arrow Maker and A Woman o f Genius had gone so f a r as t o im ply t h a t a woman
should ta k e love wherever i t could be found, alth o u g h h e r shocked response
t o H. G. W ells' confidences and h e r h an d lin g o f O liv ia L a ttim o re 's oase
in d ic a te t h a t she would n o t have v e ry g e n e r a lly recommended h e r f i c t i o n a l
c h a ra c te rs as guides t o oanduct.
A fte r Love and th e Soul Maker, Mary
A ustin i s a staunch d efen d er o f a b so lu te i n t e g r i t y in love and a c r i t i c
of "love p i r a t e s ."
What in flu e n c e s , p e rso n a l and l i t e r a r y , changed h e r?
In 1912, a f t e r th e p ro ductio n o f The Arrow Maker and th e p u b lic a ­
tio n o f A Woman of G enius, Mary A u stin went back to Carm el, where she r e ­
newed acquaintance w ith fjeorge S te r lin g .
S t e r l i n g 's a f f a i r s were a lre a d y
moving towards tra g e d y ; in d eed , S t e r l i n g 's tre a tm e n t o f h is w ife had been
th e s u b je c t o f a n o v el by Mary A u stin , Out la n d , p u b lish ed f i r s t in England
in 1910.
women.
Mrs. A u stin was beginning t o see t h a t " fre e love" was u n f a ir to
The new freedom in th e tre a tm e n t o f love and sex in l i t e r a t u r e was
perhaps more th a n an e a r l i e r a p o s tle o f freedom oould countenance.
W hiter
Lippmann, a p e rso n al f r ie n d , had w r itte n in A P reface t o P o l i t i c s (1913)
some h in ts o f what M rs. A u stin was t o i n t e r p r e t a s "th e m o ra lity o f th e
100
shared consequence" — an idea whioh she was eag er t o t r a n s l a t e in to judg­
ments upon bohemianism in g e n e ra l.
The -w ritings of Edward C arpenter and
Havelock E l l i s seemed t o s u b s ta n tia te h er b ia s a g a in s t th e ta k in g o f love
a ffa irs lig h tly .
The knowledge she possessed o f p rim itiv e l i f e seemed t o
h e r t o in d ic a te a ls o t h a t th e new bohemianism was n o t in lin e w ith th e
life -c o n s e rv in g and lif e - e n r ic h in g p ra c tio e s and oustoms o f p rim itiv e s .
"Wherever her id eas oame from, th e y must have meant much t o h e r, fo r she
rep eated them e a r n e s tly and fre q u e n tly , in Love and th e Soul Maker (1914),
Ho. 26 Jayne S tr e e t (1920), O utland (1910 and 1919), and in same a r t i c l e s
and s t o r i e s .
M rs. A u stin ’ s id e a s upon women to o k , in 1917, an o th er t u r n .
Having
ta k en much t o h e a r t th e gospel of th e "New Freedom" in th e days of th e
World Vfer, she became aware of an impetus tow ards d em o o ratizatio n .
Like
many i n t e l l e c t u a l s , she f e l t t h a t , once th e War was o v er, tremendous changes
would ta k e p la o e .
make i t so .
The s o c ia l order would be made d em ocratic.
Women would
R everting t o h e r v is io n o f th e d e s e rt woman s e t f o r th in Lost
B orders, woman com petent, im p atien t o f f e t i s h and tab o o , d i r e c t , and p rac­
t i c a l , Mrs. A ustin tu rn e d th e whole c u rre n t o f h e r a rd e n t feminism in to
t h a t channel where she thought she saw th e w aters running tow ards a renewed
and r e v ita liz e d democracy.
W alter Lippmann.
She took som ething from Linooln S te ffe n s and
She oaught th e whole to n e and s p i r i t o f th e y ears 1912-
1920 a s s e t f o r th in th e w ritin g s o f such m ild l i b e r a l s as Henry Goddard
Leach and th e i n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t s .
co and R u ssia.
She caught th e new enthusiasm f o r Mexi­
She ruBhed in and asked th e women of America t o fo llo w h er
and claim ed th e v ic to ry -to -b e fo r them , because th e y were " d ir e c t" in t h e i r
methods.
These ideas a re embodied in The S turdy Oak (1917) and The Young
Woman C itiz e n (1918).
101
As soon as th e ffar was o v er, th e su ffra g e amendment p a sse d , and
women g ain in g in o reased o p p o rtu n itie s in b u sin ess and th e p ro fe s s io n s ,
Mary A u stin had l i t t l e more t o say on th e woman problem .
s e l f t o rh a p so d io al propheoy f o r a few y e a rs .
She gave h e r­
Women would h e lp in th e
g re a t " a c c u ltu ra tio n " of Americans t o t h e i r la n d .
Women would c le a n up
p o l i t i c s , spread enlig h ten m en t, k i l l th e "Pooh-Bah" t r a d i t i o n s o f le a r n ­
in g -which men had countenanced f o r so lo n g , and lead in th e g en eral r e f o r ­
m ation o f l i f e .
But as th e Hoover e ra boomed tow ards i t s ignominious c l i ­
max, she began t o lo se hope.
Women were c o n ten t w ith o rg a n iz a tio n , th e y
would n o t e x e rc is e t h e i r g i f t of s o o ia l prophecy, th e y had n o t, a f t e r a l l ,
seen th e l i g h t .
From h e r r e t r e a t in Santa F e , she p a r tic ip a te d in a d e f i­
n i t e b a t t l e a g a in s t women's o lu b s , disavowed th e M iddlew estem concept of
c u ltu r e , growled a t th e "b u tton-pu sh in g , s p ig o t-tu rn in g " ways o f America,
and plunged in to stu d y and encouragement o f In d ia n and Spanish-American
fo lk lo re and f o lk a r t .
The long b a t t l e f o r freedom f o r women and th e
long-held hope of women's leading America t o a c u lt u r a l adjustm ent end in
unconcern about women a s suoh — except in one f i n a l n o v e l, S ta rr y Adven­
tu r e (1932).
The m a te ria ls of t h i s c h a p te r, th e n , w i l l be tr e a t e d under th re e
h eadingst
( l ) The a tta c k on " fre e lo v e ," based on th e old theme o f
woman's competence and woman's need fo r a tr u e m ating o r tr u e p a rtn e r­
sh ip ; (2) The e x p re ssio n of th e hope t h a t women, having won s u ffra g e ,
would push t o a ra p id conclusion th e d em o cratizatio n o f American l i f e
t h a t had begun w ith R oosevelt and Wilson and t h a t had been l a id a sid e d u r­
in g th e War; and (3) The e x p ressio n o f hope t h a t women would lead America
t o a com plete a c c u ltu r a tio n , and th e f i n a l d is illu s io n m e n t.
102
I
In to Love and th e Sonl Maker went s e v e ra l o f Mrs, A u s tin ’s old p re ­
p o sse ss io n s ,
Begun as a s e r ie s o f a r t i c l e s " d e a lin g w ith th e amorous ex­
p e rie n ce s o f a woman w r ite r in th e m idst o f a w ritin g c a r e e r," * th e book
tu r n s out t o be a v ery lo n g , d u l l , and o b scu rely w ritte n t r a c t t o show
t h a t " fre e love" i s u n f a ir t o women.
The most "advanced" id e a s o f 1914
about love and m arriage a re so b en t a s t o lend c o n v ictio n t o Mary A u s tin 's
long-held view th a t a woman, -whatever h e r s p e c ia l t a l e n t s , i s o f g r e a te s t
v alu e t o s o c ie ty i f she can work w ith a man, love w ith a man, and b e a r a
c h ild .
But i t i s a w arning to bohemians t h a t th e se p riv ile g e s cannot be
ta k en l i g h t l y .
The book p u rp o rts t o have been w r itte n f o r Valda MacNath, a f r ie n d ,
who has l e f t a mediocre husband and has come t o New York t o w r ite .
She has
had a p ro tr a c te d love a f f a i r w ith a man who works e a r n e s tly in l i b e r a l
c a u s e s.
Now he i s through w ith h e r and th re a te n s t o leave h e r , b u t Valda
s t i l l loves him .
The a u th o r ohampions V ald a's c a u se .
As th e y t a l k to g e th e r ,
th e a u th o r goes in to th e whole h i s t o r y o f love and m a rria g e .
" a tr u e book — and human."
This i s t o be
The t h e s i s begins by holding love t o have
much more th a n a m erely re p ro d u c tiv e fu n c tio n ; i t has " s u p e r-fu n c tio n s ,"
im portant "psychic r e a c tio n s ."
These psychio re a c tio n s a re n o t a s u b s ti­
t u t e f o r p h y s ic a l p a ssio n , but th e v e ry ro o t and sto ck o f i t .
" I t i s by
t h i s c a p a c ity f o r re le a s in g unsuspeoted forms of energy t h a t p a ssio n j u s t i ­
f i e s i t s e l f . . . ."® Mating and companionship co n tin u e a f t e r th e p ro c re a-
1 Mary A u stin , E arth Horizon (Boston and New York, 1932), p . 319.
^ Mary A u stin , Love and th e Soul Maker (New York and London, 1914), p . 9.
S I b i d . , p .3 9 .
103
tiv e a c t.
M ate-love a s more th a n sex a t t r a c t i o n i s fundam ental in human
n a tu r e , and can be seen even where m arriage customs th w art i t s tru e co u rse.
" I t m a n ife sts i t s e l f a s a d e s ire fo r perm anent, p u b lic , and ex clu siv e r e ­
la tio n ." ^
That i t does n o t always fin d th e permanent r e l a t i o n i s no d i s ­
p ro o f o f th e n a tu ra ln e s s o f permanency, fo r love has t o work through some
weak v e s s e ls and in badly d isa rra n g e d s o c i e t i e s .
By devious argument and by re fe re n c e t o "American In d ian s . . .
among idiom . . .
th e sim ple, e x clu d in g , lif e lo n g m ating h a b it p rep o n d erates
. . ." 5 M rs. A ustin proves t o h e r own s a ti s f a c tio n th e n a tu ra ln e s s o f th e
monogamio p a tte r n and th e r e a l i t y o f je a lo u s y .
She h o ld s th a t many p e rso n s'
la c k o f experience o f je a lo u s y i s due sim ply t o t h e i r never having t r u l y
m ated.
There i s a len g th y d is c u s s io n o f p r o s tit u ti o n and i t s c a u s e s, c l i ­
maxed w ith th e follo w in g prophecy:
" . . .
s o c ie ty w i l l in tim e dispose
o f th e buying and s e ll in g o f love j u s t as i t has r i d i t s e l f o f c h a tt e l
s la v e ry . . . .
I t w i l l have more le is u r e th e n t o d e a l w ith a growing
c la s s who ta k e love w ithout paying a n y th in g ."6
With t h i s p o in t Mrs. A ustin
has a rriv e d a t th e o r ig in a l p a r t of h e r t h e s i s , a r a th e r severe e x c o ria tio n
o f th e v ic io u s , in s id io u s "love p i r a t e , th e g r a f te r in th e p re c io u s s t u f f
o f p e r s o n a lity ,"
and a r a th e r unanswerable argument a g a in s t f r e e love a s
a v io la tio n o f p la in f a i r p la y .
^
*>
P*45.
b I b id . , p .5 7 .
6 I b i d »» p p .91-97.
7 I b i d . , p . 97.
To M rs. A u stin , fo r th e purposes o f t h i s
104
book a t l e a s t , th e g re a te s t o f a l l th e problems o f love and m arriage i s
th a t o f th e woman, w ife o r m is tr e s s , who co n tin u es lo v in g when th e man is
ready to d e s e rt h e r .
Her argument i s t h a t a woman, having once t r u l y
m ated, i s b o th p h y s ic a lly and p sy c h o lo g ic a lly debarred from m ating a g a in .
"We a re so accustomed t o t h i s , we a s s o c ia te i t so in s t i n c t i v e l y w ith th e
sobering o ares of housew ifery and th e dimming e f f e c t o f ag e, t h a t we f a i l
t o r e a liz e i t always as a stupendous b io lo g ic process."®
Mrs. A u stin ad­
m its , however, t h a t many people can n o t see h e r p o in t, because woman, so
long used to m ain tain in g h e r s e lf "by means o f th e e f f e o t she produoes on
man,"® has learn ed to o rie n t h e r s e lf only in th e re g io n o f man's d e s ire s
and demands.
But, however a b le many women may appear in th e m a tte r o f
m arrying or fin d in g another lo v e r, th e f a c t remains t h a t "the v a s t m a jo rity
of women have been, and s t i l l rem ain, in cap ab le o f more th an one tr u e matin g ."1 0
C onsequently, v io le n c e t o th e l o v e - lif e of women lead s t o enormous
s o c ia l w aste and lo s s .
S o c ie ty , co nfronted w ith such a s i tu a tio n as V a ld a 's , has only to
ask whioh p a rty i t w ishes t o have upon i t s hands in a damaged c o n d itio n .
S in ce, on th e w hole, a woman's lo v e - lif e i s o f more v alu e and im portance
t o s o c ie ty th a n a m a n 's, s o c ie ty has th e r ig h t and th e o b lig a tio n t o i n s i s t
t h a t th e man remain lo y a l t o th e woman who s t i l l loves him .
problem i s so lv ed .
And so V a ld a's
Her lo v e r ought n o t t o abandon h e r, and would n o t do so
i f he oould be brought t o see t h a t t h e new " m o ra lity o f th e shared conse-
8 I b i d . , p p .208-209.
9 I b i d . , p.210.
10 I b i d .
105
q u e n o e " ^ a p p lie s here a s he holds i t ought t o ap p ly in p o l i t i c s , b u s in e s s ,
and a l l o th er s o c ia l r e la tio n s h ip s .
Indeed, i t i s , a cco rd in g t o Mrs. Aus­
t i n , a g re a t and a damning paradox f o r V ald a's lo v e r t h a t , l i b e r a l as he
i s , he preaches t h i s new m o ra lity o f th e shared consequence in every f i e l d
exoept h is own p riv a te a f f a i r s .
The argument i s unanswerable — o r r a th e r ,
th e r e i s no lo g io a l way out o f th e s y llo g is tic , tr a p which Mrs. A ustin has
s e t fo r V a ld a 's lo v e r.
I t seems a v e ry academic or id e o lo g ic a l conception
of j u s t i c e , b u t i t must have had deep meaning f o r Mrs. A u stin , sinoe i t
became th e theme o f a n o v el publish ed s ix y e a rs l a t e r , No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t .
M rs. A u s tin 's claim s to m y s tic a l i n s i g h t , h e r re p re h en sio n o f th e
methods o f s c i e n t i s t s and s c h o la rs , h e r p re te n sio n s to o r i g i n a l i t y , and
h e r saying t h a t h e r id e a s cams t o h e r from a n ig h t w in d ^ a re a n r i d i c u ­
lous and i r r i t a t i n g .
She borrowed rnuoh from th e w ritin g s o f Havelock
E llis and Edward C a rp e n te r.
Her id e a o f th e " su p e r-fu n c tio n s ” o f love i s
im p lic it in a l l o f Havelock E l l i s ' w ritin g s , and is summarized by E l l i s
as fo llo w s :
The savage has r e a liz e d th a t in h is own sex u al fu n c tio n s he has
th e key t o th e whole g e n erativ e process of n a tu re ; and th e orgy o f
sex and th e a s c e tic is m o f sex a re blended in awe w ith a l l t h a t he
can d iv in e t h a t i s high or low in th e u n iv e rse as known t o him.^3
i:LI b id », p . 236.
12 »»Yfe,it,* I s a id , 'th e wind i s ta lk in g .* We co u ld h e ar i t moving
down th e co u n try road . . . " e t c . , u n t i l th e wind communicates a v is io n o f
th e whole p e st o f th e ra c e , th e v is io n culm inating in v e ry poor fre e v e rse
about "th e Word th a t Came to Women." — I b id . , p p .65-71.
Havelook E l l i s , " In tro d u c tio n ," Sex in C i v il iz a tio n , ed . by V. P .
C alverton and S. D. Sohmalhausen (New York, 1929), p p .2 7 -2 8 . Although
w ritte n some years a f t e r M rs. A u stin ’ s book, th e passage r e f l e c t s an id ea
th a t had run through E l l i s 's w ritin g s on love and sex from th e begin n in g .
106
Her idea of th e "psychic re a c tio n s " o f lo v e, -which she c o n sid e rs as impor­
t a n t a s th e p u re ly h io lo g io a l fu n c tio n s of lo v e , comes from Edward Carpen­
t e r ’s Love’ s Coming of Age; ^
C arp en ter speaks o f "an in terch an g e o f v i t a l
and e th e r e a l e le m e n ts ." 1® In her r e f u ta tio n o f th e id ea t h a t polygamy
■was an e a r l i e r and more normal human p a tte rn th a n monogamy, Mrs. A ustin
follow s E l l i s
1A
alm ost l i t e r a l l y .
Her argument t h a t je a lo u s y proves th e
permanence o f m ating follow s C arp en ter, except th a t M rs. A ustin does nob
w ish t o g e t r i d of je a lo u s y a s a motive in human s o o ie ty .
E l l i s ’ d is c u s ­
sions of p r o s titu tio n and i t s c a u se s, o f th e f a lla o y o f s t a t e n u r s e r ie s ,
o f th e i n i t i a t i o n r i t e s of savages in to manhood and womanhood, of th e sex­
u a l in flu e n c e o f l i t e r a t u r e , and o f th e v a lu e o f c h a s t i t y f o r th e a r t i s t
a re a l l echoed in Love and th e Soul Maker.
17
More im p o rtan t, M rs. A ustin
follow s c lo s e ly th e g en eral id e a of E l l i s t h a t th e s e x u a l, r e l i g i o u s , and
a e s th e tic im pulses a re a l l c lo s e ly i n t e r r e l a t e d .
From C a rp e n te r, Mrs. A ustin took one id ea v e ry e s s e n ti a l t o h e r
th e s i s t h a t a woman can r e a l l y mate only once — th e id ea t h a t t r u e m ating
is t o a woman a h io lp g io a l t i e a s w e ll as a p sy c h o lo g ic a l one.
C arpenter
dw ells upon th e idea t h a t th e re is a su b tle org an ic in flu e n c e o f man upon
woman (and v io e v e r s a , t o some e x te n t) a f t e r th e y have oohabited f o r any
le n g th of t i m ^ "im portant p h y s ic a l a c tio n s and r e a c tio n s , and even o o r-
^
in 1911.
(New York and London, 1922), p p .2 7 -2 8 .
The book was f i r s t p rin te d
18 I b id . , p .2 9 .
18 Havelock E l l i s , S tu d ie s in th e Psychology o f Sex (P h ila d e lp h ia ,
1913), V I, 422-424.
17
The p a r a lle l s a re a s follow s ( f i r s t a re given page numbers in
Love and th e Soul Maker; th e n page numbers in Volume VI o f E l l i s ’s S tu d ies
in th e Psychology o f Sex; th e order o f to p ic s i s t h a t i n th e sentenoe to
which t h i s n o te r e f e r s ) -!' pp.91 f f . - p p .254 f f . ; p . 238 - pp*30-32; p p .280 281 - p p .86-89j pp.270 ff * - p p .89-92 (th e same s p e c if ic example, D a n te ,is
used in b o th ); p p .265-287 - pp.172-174.
107
p o re a l m o d ific a tio n s"
18
— -which becomes in Mrs. A u stin ’s words "a stupen­
dous b io lo g io p r o c e s s . C a r p e n t e r , however, u n lik e Mrs. A u stin , does
n o t make use of th e p o in t as an argument f o r monogamy.
Mrs. A u stin a ls o
c i t e s some o f C a rp e n te r's examples o f m ating among anim als in w hich, a f t e r
th e d e ath o f th e m ate, th e o th e r c re a tu r e p in es and d ie s .
"In stan c e s of
th e d e ath o f one mate on th e ta k in g o ff o f th e o th e r, even among lower
AA
an im als, a re n o t e x c e p tio n a l," M rs. A u stin w r ite s .
C arp en ter had i n ­
cluded in h is n o tes th e fo llo w in g :
" ’ . . . w ith th e female I l l i n o i s p a r­
r o t (P s itta c u s p e rtin a x ) widowhood and d e ath a re synonomous. . . .
When,
a f t e r some y ears of conjugal l i f e , a w h eat-ear happens t o d ie , h is com­
panion h a rd ly su rv iv e s him a m onth.’ "21
i t i s s ig n if ic a n t t h a t M rs. A u stin
f a i l s to m ention in s ta n c e s from th e v e ry same page and th e succeeding page
o f C arpenter which deny th e u n iv e r s a li ty of monogamy among b ir d s and a n i ­
m als.
M rs. A u s tin 's id e a s did n o t come o ff a n ig h t wind, w hatever she
th o u g h t.
There i s no crime in one a u th o r 's fo llo w in g a n o th e r, and esp ec­
i a l l y in t h i s c a se , sin c e so much of th e m a te ria l th a t Mrs. A ustin borrowed
i s commonly h eld knowledge.
Mary A u stin ’ s d ish o n e sty l i e s sim ply in h e r
im plying t h a t she was w ritin g a w holly o r ig i n a l book and in h e r im p a tie n t
g ird in g a t people udio a re co n sc ie n tio u s enough t o t e l l t h e i r re a d e rs where
th e y g e t t h e i r id e a s .
However, i t i s only f a i r t o say t h a t h e r borrowings
a re underpinnings t o su p p o rt h e r s tr u c tu r e and t h a t th e fundam ental t h e s i s
C arp en te r, op. o i t », p p.2 3 -2 9 .
19
A u stin , Love and Soul Maker, pp»208-209.
20 I b id . , p . 230.
21
C a rp e n te r, op. o i t p . 195, g u ttin g Letourneau, E v o lu tio n o f
M arriage, p*27.
108
— t h a t a woman needs a tr u e m ating, needs to work w ith a man, love w ith
a man, and bear him a c h ild — had been h e r own f o r a lo n g , long tim e
even i f i t to o had been only borrowed in th e b eg in n in g .
A ll t h a t Love
and th e Soul Maker adds t o t h i s o b sessio n is th e id ea o f "th e m o ra lity of
th e shared consequence" whioh she to o k from W alter Lippmann and which was
a kind o f l i b e r a l slogan in th e e ra o f th e New Freedom.
There a r e , however, v a lu ab le i f n o t o r ig in a l id eas in Love and th e
Soul Maker.
Tfllhen M rs. A u stin i n s i s t s t h a t m arriage i s a r e la tio n and n o t
a c o n d itio n and t h a t , as long as th e fundam entals a re adhered t o , th e
fa sh io n s can change, she is p reach in g common sen se .
Her id ea t h a t when
men a re judged a s worthy mates and n o t as money-makers, and when women a re
judged fo r what th e y have o f s tu r d in e s s , r e a l w orth, and r e a l a b i l i t i e s
in s te a d of being judged by t h e i r mere power o f a p p ealin g to men, m arriage
may th e n be e s ta b lis h e d on a r e a l i s t i c b a s is — t h i s i s a f a i r l y sound
idea which has been g e n e ra lly a c c e p te d .
When she w rite s t h a t th e r e a l
v i r t u e of women i s s e o r e t, m a n ife stin g i t s e l f " in lo n g -s u ffe rin g , in pa­
tie n c e and fo re s ig h te d n e s s , in c h a s t i t y and k in d n e ss, in th e wide h ip and
th e flow ing b r e a s t," t h a t women’s v ir tu e s a re "meant f o r s e r v ic e , n o t f o r
s h o w i n g , w e a re back a t h e r d e s e rt v is io n o f th e competent and mature
woman, a v is io n w hich, even i f i t re p re se n te d a r a t io n a li z a ti o n of h e r
f e l t want o f a ttr a c t iv e n e s s , was s t i l l a good v is io n ; u n le ss i t had been
h e ld up by Mary A ustin and o th e rs , c e r ta in V ic to ria n f e tis h e s could never
have been broken.
The g re a t weakness o f th e book i s i t s p inning a s p e c ific
charge o f d ish o n e sty upon V ald a’s lo v e r.
22
A u stin , Love and th e Soul Maker, p*131*
109
No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t
Maker.
23
i s b u i l t upon th e th e s i s o f Love and th e Soul
I t i s th e s to r y o f N eith S chuyler, o f th e Van Droom-Sohuylers,
daughter o f a s e n s itiv e and p riv ile g e d widower who has b rought h e r up in
Europe and whose dying w ish i s t h a t she r e tu r n to Amerioa t o fin d out i f
th e re a re any s t i r r i n g s towards th e r e a l rep u b lican ism which he has always
w orshipped and out of re s p e c t t o which he has e x p a tria te d h im se lf from a
te m p o ra rily insane Amerioa.
N e ith , orphaned, comes back to Amerioa, r e ­
fu se s t o liv e in th e house o f h e r two p lu to c r a tic a u n ts , ta k e s an a p a r t­
ment in Greenwich V illa g e , a s s o o ia te s w ith r a d ic a ls , a g i t a t o r s , la b o r
le a d e rs , and s u ffra g e le a d e rs , f a l l s in love w ith a b r i l l i a n t r a d ic a l
j o u r n a l i s t , Adam F r e a r, becomes engaged to him , and looks forw ard t o a
l i f e of complete oompanionship w ith him in a lo n g , e a rn e s t stru g g le t o
d ir e c t th e aroused s o c ia l consciousness o f America towards tr u e s o c ia l
demooraoy.
But she le a rn s th a t Adam F rear has only re o e n tly d e se rte d
Rose M atlock, a s u f f r a g i s t le a d e r, and t h a t Rose s t i l l n o t only loves
Adam F re a r, but i s eag er t h a t Adam F re a r u n d erstan d and see th e in j u s t i c e
he has done h e r .
Rose M atlock w ishes Adam t o a p p ly th e C h ris tia n p r in c ip le
of j u s t i c e and f a i r p la y t o th e p e rso n a l s i t u a t i o n in th e same way in which
he so b r i l l i a n t l y p le ad s f o r t h e i r a p p lic a tio n in a l l p u b lic s o c ia l and
economic is s u e s .
Rose M atlock i n s i s t s t h a t u n t i l th e re i s suoh a complete sense o f
ju s tio e and o f democracy in a l l r e la tio n s h ip s , th e r a d i c a l 's eagerness fo r
economio and s o c ia l change i s o nly a cover f o r th e r a d i c a l 's d e s ire t o ex­
e r c is e th e ty ran n y and autooraoy which he e x c o r ia te s .
Miss M atlock ho ld s
23 jjary A u stin , No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t (Boston and New York, 1920) •
110
t h a t she can stand th e p a in of n o t b ein g loved alth o u g h she h e r s e l f s t i l l
lo v e s; she stan d s an a higji and sev ere p rin c ip le — th a t u n t i l Adam F rea r
oan see and admit th e harm done t o h e r , h is ra d ic a lis m i s f a ls e and in s u f­
f i c i e n t l y grounded.
And she v e ry courageously o a r r ie s th e is s u e t o N e ith ,
h olding t h a t , i f she (Hose) c a p itu la te s to th e common n o tio n s o f 'woman's
p rid e and th e common n o tio n s of a man's r ig h t t o be a t th e mercy o f h is
own f e e lin g s , she w i l l be doing th e cause o f ju s ti o e to -woman and t o so­
c ie ty a v e ry g re a t harm.
N eith comes over to H ose's s id e , breaks h e r en­
gagement t o Adam, p u ts him t o s e v e ra l t e s t s , and fin d s him unable t o com­
prehend th e idea o f th e permanence o f such a r e la ti o n as he has had w ith
Rose, o r th e idea of th e i n ju s tic e he has done h e r .
The book ends w ith
th e two women s t i l l in league a g a in s t Adam F r e a r, and th e im p lic a tio n is
th a t Adam F rea r w i l l n o t be brought t o see ~
and, more w id ely , t h a t r a d i­
c a ls cannot hope f o r s o c ia l re g e n e ra tio n u n t i l th e y have achieved a f i n e r
and s u b tle r concept o f j u s t i c e , a j u s t i c e extending in to ev ery c o rn er o f
l i f e and in to th e most in tim a te and p e rso n a l o f r e la tio n s h ip s .
W ithout th e statem e n t of th e problem in v e ry simple term s in th e
e a r l i e r book, i t s h an d lin g in No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t would appear much more
obscure th an i t a o tu a lly i s .
The novel shows a deep in flu en c e o f Henry
James, n o t a s p e c ific one, b u t a pervading one.
I t shows in th e su b tle
consciences o f some o f th e c h a r a c te rs , in t h e i r s e n s itiv e n e s s t o i n t r i n s i c
v a lu e s , in t h e i r subduing o f emotion t o h ig h , fin ely -d raw n s c r u p le s , in
t h e i r super-aw areness o f nuances in conduct and sppeoh, and, above a l l ,
i n th e way in which th e y av o id a l l th e obviousness o f la b e ls i n t h e i r
I ll
th in k in g .
There i s some lik e n e ss between Mrs. A u s tin 's argument and th e
way in which I s a b e l A rcher, in James' The P o r t r a i t o f a la d y , r e tu r n s t o
h e r husband.
M otives of th e c h a ra c te rs o f Mo. 26 Jayne S tr e e t a re n o t
e n t i r e l y c l e a r ; i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o say j u s t what i t i s t h a t Rose Matlook
and N eith Schuyler wish Adam F re a r t o adm it o r s e e , and iriiat th e y would
have him do a f t e r he has seen and a d m itte d .
25
There i s a g re a t d e a l of
h a u lin g and tu g g in g t o r e l a t e c h a r a c te r s ' re a c tio n s in term s o f broad
p r in c ip le s .
In s h o r t, th e r e i s , a f t e r a l l , none o f Henry Jam es' power of
dram atizin g c h a r a c te r s ' m inds; Mrs. A u s tin 's people t a l k and t a l k , bu t t h e i r
m otives and re a c tio n s seem
a b o u t.
n o t to grow by n e c e s s ity out of what th e y t a l k
The novel rem ains, on th e w hole, p s y c h o lo g ic a lly unconvincing.
No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t i s m ainly a s u f f r a g is t document, which says t h a t
u n t i l th e problem o f th e r e la tio n s o f men and women i s solved no o th e r prob­
lem can be so lv e d .
In throw ing th e problem a g a in s t th e background o f th e
World War and th e s o c ia l and p o l i t i o a l u n re s t in Amerioa a t th e tim e , Mrs.
A u stin com plicates and confuses h e r main is s u e , th e p lea f o r re c o g n itio n
o f woman's r i g h t t o a permanent lo v e .
I f t h i s i s n o t th e c e n t r a l theme,
th e n Mrs. A u stin had no c a l l t o b rin g in th e s to r y o f G eneral R itten h o u se
and h is e stra n g e d second w ife , showing how sh e, a f t e r liv in g a p a r t from h er
husband f o r y e a rs , n e v e rth e le s s f e l t th e m arriage to be perm anent.
She is
re u n ite d a t th e end t o h e r alm ost im p o ssib le old s t r u t t i n g peaoock o f a
24
Ludwig Lewisohn, " V illa g e rs and O th e rs ,” N atio n , CX, 2868 (June
19, 1920), p p .827-828, review ing t h i s book, m entions a Jamesian in flu e n c e
in th e s ty le and te c h n iq u e , b u t does n o t go in to any d e t a i l . The lik e n e ss
o f Rose M atlock and N eith Schuyler t o S tr e th e r in Jam es's The Ambassadors
i s v e ry s t r i k i n g .
25
”The p o in t i s an extrem ely n ic e one; t o disengage i t a l l i s n o t
e a s y ." — Lewisohn, lo o , o i t . , p.8 2 7 .
112
husband; and i t i s h e r son, Eustaoe R itte n h o u se , who t e l l s N eith honr h is
mother has alw ays looked upon m a rria g e .
m arriage i s n ’t j u s t two p eo p le.
th e m arriag e.
"* . . . she has made me see t h a t
T here’s th e man and th e woman, and t h e r e ’s
I t ’ s s t i l l th e r e f o r my m other.
th e r e , i t ’s th e r e f o r h e r.
Even though my f a th e r i s n ’t
A liv in g th in g . . . #t ”26
Sym pathizing w ith
E ustaoe’ s m other, N eith fin d s j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r h e r own deep -seated con­
v ic tio n about m arriage and even f e e ls u n k in d ly towards h e r own maiden a u n t,
who has dangled f l u t t e r i n g l y a t th e G en eral’ s h e e ls f o r y e a rs .
And th e re
is th e case o f MadeIon Sherrod, b r i l l i a n t a o t r e s s , whose husband i s a
p h ila n d e re r; b u t Made Ion, c o n fid a n te to N e ith , i n s i s t s on th e permanence of
th e t i e and makes no g estu re o f r e v o lt h e r s e l f .
There i s a ls o th e s to r y of
S ad ie, worker in a s h ir t- w a is t fa c to ry , who has liv e d w ith H ippolyte Leninsky
w ith o u t being m arried t o him, and who i s about t o have a c h ild by him when
he i s clubbed to d e ath by th e New York p o lic e .
N eith com forts and a id s Sadie
a ffa ir
and th e c h ild , h o ld in g t h a t th e “ir r e g u l a r i t y " of S a d ie ’s^j.3 t o be overlooked
s in c e
she and H ippolyte had had a permanent in te n tio n towards each o th e r.
So th e theme runs throughout th e book:
a woman's lo v e - lif e i s n o t t o be
v io la te d ; m ate-love i s th e demand f o r a perm anent, p u b lic , e x clu siv e r e l a ­
tio n .
The m a jo rity o f th e ra d ic a ls f a i l t o see t h i s sim ple p o in t.
And be­
cause th e y do n o t see i t , t h e i r ra d ic a lis m i s shown t o be sle a z y .
There was some c u rre n t p r o te s t a g a in s t Mrs. A u stin ’s t h e s i s .
view er w ro te:
A re ­
" I t gives you no more id ea o f c o n d itio n s among New York r a d i­
c a ls th a n do th e New York newspapers.
The rev iew er, a p p a re n tly , m issed
A u stin , No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t , p .1 9 7 .
27 H e n rie tta M u lk iel, [review ] , New York C a l l , J u ly 25, 1920.
113
th e major t h e s i s and d e te c te d o n ly Mrs. A u s t in 's c r i t i c a l a t t i t u d e towards
r a d ic a lis m .
Ludwig Lewisohn saw Mrs. A u s t in 's p o in t , a lth o u g h he d id n ot
agree w it h i t .
U r. Lewisohn f e l t th a t many p e o p le , h a v in g a s much lo v e o f
freedom and j u s t i c e a s Mrs. A u s t in , would n o t agree w ith h er argum ent, "be­
cause i t t r a n s f e r s a p r in c ip le o f conduct t o a c a te g o r y where t h a t p r in c ip le
c e a s e s t o have any m eaning.
I* O Q
And he thou gh t U r s. A u stin r ig h t in b a sin g
a l l her hope fo r th e fu tu r e on man's a b i l i t y "to a c t on th e i n t r i n s i c mer­
i t s o f a s i t u a t i o n , in d e p e n d e n tly o f i t s e m o tio n s."
But he i n s i s t e d t h a t ,
in th e s it u a t io n betw een Adam Frear and Rose M atlock, "the em otions were
th e m se lv e s th e i n t r i n s i c and th e o n ly m e r i t s ." 2® The a l t e r i n g o f Frear*s
f e e l i n g s sim p ly made th e o r ig i n a l s it u a t io n no lo n g e r e x i s t e n t , he h e ld ,
and t h e r e f o r e th e two women were m erely t r y in g t o a l t e r Adam Frear in t o
p e r c e p tio n s which d id n o t f i t th e c a s e .
L ew isohn's argument w ith th e
au th or over th e v a l i d i t y o f h er t h e s i s a r o s e from th e sim ple f a c t th a t
Lewisohn saw no rea so n f o r permanency in l o v e , and Mrs. A u stin saw every
r e a so n f o r i t .
That she d id n o t g iv e a l l h er r e a s o n s , but s ta r t e d where
she had l e f t o f f in Love and t h e S ou l Maker, perhaps a cco u n ts f o r some o f
th e m isu n d erstan d in g o f r e v ie w e r s .
The r a d ic a l im p lic a tio n s o f th e book
on th e econom ic and p o l i t i c a l s i d e , and i t s c r i t i c i s m o f r a d ic a ls on th e
s id e o f t h e i r p e r so n a l m o r a lity l e f t Mrs. A u stin in a s in g u la r ly u n p ro te c te d
p o s itio n .
Like s e v e r a l o f Mrs. A u s t in 's oth er n o v e l s , l\To. 26 Jayne S t r e e t
28
Lew isohn, l o c . o i t . , p . 827.
29 IM d *» £• 828*
114
appears t o have drawn some f e a t u r e s o f a few c h a r a c te r s from r e a l l i f e .
Adam F r e a r 's c a se p a r a l l e l s th a t o f John Reed in some r e s p e c t s .
30
F r e a r 's
a c t i v i t y in a Marcy, Hew J e r s e y , s t r i k e i s John Reed’ s p art in th e P a terso n
s i l k s t r i k e o f 1 9 13.
c ir c le .
H eith S ch u y ler co u ld w e ll he K e ith Boyce, o f John Reed’ s
Rose M atlock i s p rob ab ly drawn from th e woman named R ose, whom John
Reed had liv e d w ith b e fo re he became Mrs. Mabel Dodge’ s lo v e r .
Madelan Sher­
r o d ’ s name seems t o be an anagram o f th e name o f M adeleine F ilo n , t o whom
John Reed was once engaged.
MadeIon Sherrod in " th e n o v e l, how ever, i s an
a c t r e s s , i s m arried , and i s n o t in v o lv e d in a n y way w ith Adam F r e a r.
H ip p olyte
L eninsky, clu bbed t o d ea th by p o l i c e , i s V a le n tin e M od estin o, a P a terso n
worker who was sh o t by p o lic e on A p r il 19, 1913.
C e r ta in ly a minor ch ar­
a c t e r , L an ier S te v e n s , who has r e tu r n e d from R u ssia enamored o f s o c ia lis m ,
i s drawn from L in coln S t e f f e n s .
A p p a ren tly , M rs. A u stin was n ot c l o s e l y
a s s o c ia t e d w ith many o f th e s e p erso n s - - she d oes n o t even m ention John
Reed, M adelaine F i lo n , or K eith Boyce in h er a u tob iograp h y — and i f she
drew upon t h e i r l i v e s f o r some o f th e m a te r ia l o f h er book, she does n o t
f o llo w a l l th e l i n e s o f t h e i r l i v e s in any d e t a i l .
Ho. 26 Jayne S t r e e t i s
a v e r y inad eq u ate p ic tu r e o f r a d ic a lis m in th e p erio d o f th e YYorld Y/ar.
It
should be remembered, how ever, t h a t i t s main s u b je c t i s n o t r a d ic a lis m as
su c h , but th e r ig h t s o f women.
That th e problem o f th e lo v in g woman who i s d e s e r te d by her lo v e r
(or husband) was alm ost an o b s e s s io n
30
w ith Mrs. A u s tin , i s se en in t h e
fa c t
The c lu e s can be found in G r a n v ille H ic k s, John Reed, The Making
o f a R e v o lu tio n a r y (Hew York, 1 9 3 7 ), pp. 9 6 -1 0 4 ; Mabel Dodge Luhan,
Movers and Shakers (Hew York, 1 9 3 6 ), pp. 1 8 6 -2 1 2 .
115
th a t th e problem was imbedded in Out la n d ,
fa n ta s y in a l l h er w r itin g .
51
th e n e a re s t approach t o pure
O utland d e a ls w ith th e stran g e ad v en tu res of
a woman, Mona, and h e r ad m irer, Herman, among th e O utlanders and th e P a rF o lk , f a i r y - l i k e in h a b ita n ts of th e C a lifo rn ia woods.
In n a tu re d e s c rip ­
ti o n , in power of g iv in g some c r e d i b i l i t y t o f a n ta s tic c h a ra c te rs and s i t u ­
a tio n s , in th e n o te of n o s ta lg ia which i t c a p tu re s , Outland i s re m in isc en t
o f W. H. Hudson's Green M ansions.
I t i s , however, a heavy-footed fa n ta s y ,
and i t aohieves Hudson's ly ric is m and p athos only r a r e ly i f e v e r.
The th e ­
s is t h a t runs through i t makes i t more a lle g o r y th a n fa n ta s y , obscures and
slows up th e n a r r a tiv e , and only confuses th e re a d e r.
The most c h a r a c te r is tic elem ent in Out land i s th e t r a g ic s t a t u r e , th e
b e au ty , th e constancy, and th e u ltim a te fo rg iv e n e ss and s a c r if i c e o f th e ou t­
raged and b etray ed w ife o f B avenutzi.
H avenutzi, a hostage h eld in th e camp
o f th e O u tlan d ers, owes a d u ty to h is t r i b e , th e F a r-F o lk .
He must w re st
from Z irro lo e , ward o f a tr e a s u r e h o a rd , th e s e c r e t of th e h id in g p la ce of
th e tr e a s u r e .
His w ife i s a f r a id t h a t in perform ing t h i s d u ty t o h is t r i b e ,
B avenutzi w i l l b e tra y h e r.
She is je a lo u s and to rm en ted .
She c re e p s in to
O utlander t e r r i t o r y t o get word of h er husband, and h e r q u estio n s re v e a l
h e r a n x ie ty , h e r love f o r h e r husband, h e r m atern al and o an ju g al i n t e g r i t y .
A fte r Bavenutzi has seduced th e young Z irro lo e and hidden h e r away in a
cave, B av e n u tz i's w ife i s d e sp e ra te .
She comes a g ain in to enemy t e r r i t o r y
to g e t word of h e r husband.
31
Mary A u stin , Out land (New York, 1919). There i s a London e d itio n
o f 1910, under th e pseudonym o f Gordon S t a i r s . C hronological order in th e
d isc u ssio n o f Out la n d , Love and th e Soul Maker, and No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t has
been d e p arted from, f o r c le a r e r e x p o sitio n o f them es.
116
• • • she had cone t o me fMona] th ro u g h g re a t d i f f i c u l t y and by
hard n a y s, h e r d ress was to r n , h e r hands scratch ed and b le e d in g ,
h e r h a i r , •which was bound under a le a th e rn snood, d ish ev e le d .
But -whatever h e r d i f f i c u l t i e s , th e y had n o t marred h er so much a s
th e p a ssio n s t h a t -wasted h e r from w ith in . She was more b e a u ti f u l;
th e lo n g , flu sh e d t h r o a t , th e re d , sco rn in g l i p , th e eyes darkened
and hollow . But she was so p la in ly gnawed upon by g r ie f t h a t a s
we k n e lt th e r e , • • • I could f e e l n o th in g b u t p i t y . 32
From t h i s p o in t on, M rs. A ustin p o rtra y s Bavenutzi*s w ife r a th e r
m e lo d ra m a tica lly , a s i f in f e a r th a t th e re a d er would miss th e p o in t th a t
t h i s i s a woman who has t r u l y mated and who i s th e r e f o r e sublim ely je a lo u s
b u t nobly lo n g -s u ffe rin g .
The w ife appears more and more tr a g ic a s she t r i e s t o fin d out
B avenutzi *s tre a c h e ry and th e h id in g p la ce o f Z i r r i l o e .
An O utlander
soout
saw a t a l l woman w ith lo ng, c o ilin g h a i r wrapped about h e r body,
w asted and lo v e ly , fo llo w in g a tra o k in th e woods. She follow ed
so p a t i e n t l y , and w ith so such in te n tio n and such su re n e ss, p o rin g
above i t a s though every f o o t- p r in t stabbed h e r and she hugged th e
sta b b in g t o h e r b r e a s t; urged forw ard on i t w ith such anguished
purpose, h e ld back from i t by such to r t u r i n g f e a r s 1 Who e ls e but
a je a lo u s woman follow s in suoh fa sh io n on th e t r a i l o f th e tmrw
she loves? 33
When f i n a l l y th e cave i s d isco v e re d , Bavenutzi*s w ife i s s i t t i n g in f r o n t
o f i t , w a itin g .
c o n s o la tio n .
B avenutzi f a l l s upon h e r b r e a s t, now an g ry , b u t seeking
As B avenutzi fa c es ex ecu tio n by th e O u tlan d ers, h is w ife i s
th e r e , su p p o rtin g and sta y in g him.
"And fo r so long as she s a t th e r e ,
a ssu re d , a c c e p te d , i t was p la in th e r e was f o r h e r n e ith e r anxi e t y n or
pained remembrance, n o r any o th e r t h i n g . "34
32
A u stin , O utland, pp#209-210
33 I b i d . , p p .246-247.
34 I b i d . , p .2 7 8 .
Her heroism reach es i t s h e ig h t
117
in th e soene o f B avenutzi' s death*
. . . 'When th e y heard th e s l i g h t p re p a ra to ry -w histling of th e
s lin g s I saw th e w ife o f B avenutzi s t a r t as i f th e y had stung
upon h e r flesh * She looked up and saw th e fo u r sta n d in g so
q u ie tly and th e young men w ith t h e i r s lin g s drawn t o p o s itio n
a c ro ss th e g ra s sy in te rv e n in g spaoe. N o iseless she sprang up
and began ru n n in g . S w iftly a s she c le a re d th e spaoe between
h e r and B avenutzi i t was n o t sw ift enough. The word was g iv en ,
th e s lin g s were up and w h irlin g ; s w ifte r them b ird s th e sto n es
to o k t h e i r f l i g h t . I saw h e r leap in g on th e k n o ll and h e r h u sb an d 's
arms opened t o re c e iv e h e r , th e n I heard th e sin g in g o f th e stones
and saw them go down,
h e r body a c ro s s h i s , a l l so q u ie tly , as
g rass i s mown in summer.
True m ate-love i s capable of je a lo u s y , in te n s e lo y a lty , and
s a c r i f i c e ; t o v io la te such a love i s tr a g ic — th a t i s th e them e.
If
Out land was w r itte n in France in 1908 or 1909, a s i t probably w as, 36
M rs. A u stin was n e a r enough t o th e tim e o f Lost Borders t o be th in k in g
in term s of p rim itiv e (or n a tu r a l) woman's competency, d ir e c tn e s s , and
w illin g n e s s to make s e l f - s a c r i f i c e .
To th e q u a l i t i e s o f th e s e l f - s a c r i ­
f ic in g women of L ost B orders, B avenutzi*s w ife adds th e je a lo u sy and in ­
s ti n c t i v e p o ssessiv en ess o f th e woman who has t r u l y lo v ed .
en v isio n ed id e a l o f female lo y a lty t o th e m ate.
She i s th e
I f she rem ains, a s a f i c ­
t i o n a l c h a r a c te r, somewhat grotesque and m elodram atic, she a t l e a s t makes
Mrs. A u s tin 's m o tiv atio n o f Valda MacNath and Bose M atlock more u nderstand­
a b le .
Out land i s im portant in an o th er r e s p e c t.
I t f ie tia n iz e s George
35 I b id »» p . 294.
36
See Mary A u stin , "Poet in Out la n d ," Overland Monthly and Out
West M agazine, n . s . L30CXV (1927), 331; E a rth H orizon, "p«322.
118
S te r lin g and some o f h is r e la tio n s w ith women,
37
and i t s tre n g th e n s ,
th e r e f o r e , th e p re v io u sly p resen ted c o n te n tio n t h a t Love and th e Soul
Maker and No. 2£ Jayne S tr e e t were m o tiv ated p a r t l y Ly Mary A u s tin 's
knowledge o f S t e r l i n g 's a f f a i r s .
I t w i l l be more convenient f i r s t t o
summarise what Mary A u stin has said about George S te r lin g , and th e n t o
see how h e r a t t i t u d e s tow ards S te r lin g a re r e f le c te d in Out la n d .
"George was always rid d e n by r e s t l e s s im potencies of energy which
only by sharp e x ag g eratio n of se n sa tio n would fin d t h e i r n a tu r a l o u tle t
in c re a tiv e expression."® ®
Elsewhere M rs. A u stin im plies t h a t th e s e r e -
le a s in g se n s a tio n s were vigorous p h y s ic a l e x e r c is e , d rin k , or women. 39
Mrs. A ustin r e l a t e s how she, Jack London, and S te r lin g o fte n ta lk e d "of
th e l i a b i l i t y o f men o f genius t o fin d t h e i r s u b je c tiv e a c t i v i t i e s on
t h e i r way t o f r u i t i o n so la rg e ly a t th e mercy o f th e e f f e c t on them o f
women." 40
For S te r l in g th e re was no l a s t i n g mating} th e re was only
"the in e v ita b le s p rin g of re c u rre n t beguilem ent, th e s p i r i t ’s im pregnated
f l i g h t o a rry in g w ith i t . . . to o o fte n th e p rid e and peace o f th e Muse’ s
37
" . . . th e p a r t S te r lin g ohose t o p la y in th e adventure o f th e
'K in g 's T re a su re ' [ a s to ry he wished Mary A u stin t o w rite] was in a la r g e r ,
more s o p h is tic a te d , i n t e l l e c t u a l l y more c r e d ita b le way, th e p a rt he played
in 'O u tlan d ’ a s B avenutzi, an attem p t t o a t t a i n through and by and a t th e
expense o f women, a g re a t desideratum which had l i t t l e o r n o th in g t o do
w ith th e woman p e rs o n a lly ." — "A Poet in O u tlan d ," lo o . o i t .
There i s n o th in g in E a rth H orizon t o in d ic a te th a t B avenutzi
was drawn from George S te r lin g ; b u t i f one a o c e p ts Mrs. A u s tin 's statem e n t
in "A P oet in O utland" t h a t B avenutzi re p re se n te d S te r lin g , th en th e r e a re
c lu es in E a rth H orizon about S t e r l i n g 's n a tu re t h a t throw much l i g h t upon
B avenutzi and th e theme of O utland.
A u stin , E a rth H orizon, p.SOO.
59 Mary A u stin , "George S te r lin g a t C arm el," Amerioan Meroury, XI
(1927), 65-72.
40 E a rth H orizon, p .303. "I n ev er needed a love a f f a i r t o r e le a s e
th e sub-conscious in me . • . , " she c o n tin u e s.
119
u n d e rstu d y ." 4 ^
S te r lin g based h is l i f e ' s philosophy on "h is dependence
upon women f o r h is f r u i t f u l o o n tao ts w ith t h a t t e r r i b l e and august lady
whose names a re T ruth and Beauty and Poesy • • . " ^
For a l l t h i s weak­
ness o f S te r l in g , Mary A ustin had sympathy and u n d e rstan d in g .
She could
fo rg iv e th e c r e a tiv e a r t i s t alm ost a n y th in g ; she found i t a problem beyond
th e power of a l l our m orals t o d e a l w ith ; she ad m itted i t as a "handicap
of g e n iu s." 4® And y e t she thought S te r lin g and London were wrong; t h a t i f
th e y could have found "a n a tu r a lly s e lf - r e le a s in g psyohe, beyond th e reaoh
of wine o r women" 44 th e y might have been g re a te r o r e a to r s .
Indeed, she
once got London and S te rlin g t o admit t h a t perhaps amorousness and a lc o h o l
were only "devices of th e G reat Experim entor t o b rid g e th e gap o f e v o lu tio n
in His own u n p e rfe cted e x p e r i e n c e . A n d she th o u g h t t h a t th e d is p o s itio n
of women t o throw them selves a t men of genius was due sim ply t o woman's in ­
dolence, "perhaps th e f r u i t o f t h e i r long p a ra s itis m and t h e i r f a i l u r e t o
produce c r e a tiv e g i f t s o f t h e i r own, which th e y t r i e d t o compensate by th e
i l lu s io n o f 'b e in g an i n s p i r a t i o n .' I say i l l u s i o n beoause That I c o u ld n 't
h elp seein g was t h a t what served was c h ie f ly th e a c o e le ra te d v ib r a tio n o f
an ' a f f a i r , ' r a i s i n g th e p o e t's plane u n t i l he v o lp lan ed o ff in to c re a tiv e
achievem ent."4® And t h a t use o f women, however good th e u ltim a te purpose
41
42
"George S te r lin g a t C arm el," lo c . o i t . , p . 70.
I b
i d
*
4^ Etenfrh H orizon, p.300.
44 "George S te r lin g a t C arm el," lo c . o i t . , p .7 0 .
4® I b id . C f. Mrs. A u s tin 's e ssa y , "Amorousness and A lc o h o l," N atio n ,
CXXII (1926), 891-692, where she holds t h a t a r a t i o n a l s o c ie ty would "assig n
d rin k in g p r iv ile g e s in conform ity w ith . . . i n a b i l i t y . . . t o ach iev e a
p re fe rre d em otional re le a s e w ith o u t i t . "
46 "George S te r lin g a t C arm el," lo c . o i t . , p . 70.
120
i t serv ed , did n o t ap p eal t o Mary A u stin , sin c e she f e l t t h a t i t l e f t th e
■women p e rs o n a lly v e ry muoh th e worse f o r i t .
These id eas have p e rfe o t p a r a lle l s in O utland.
Ravenutzi i s an a r t i s t
among th e w ood-folk, a sm ith, given t o long p erio d s of s ile n c e and in a c t iv i ty
follow ed by o u tb u rsts of energy.
T rue, h is a r t i s t ' s n a tu re i s n o t g r e a tly
played up throughout th e s to ry ; b u t a t th e end, when h is tre a c h e ry and th e
ru in he has brought upon Z i r r ilo e a re charged t o him, h is defense i s t h a t
h is n a tu re i s th e a r t i s t ' s :
He ^Ravenutzi] essayed t o speak once o r tw ice a f t e r t h a t , and
Herman observed th a t look t o come upon h is faoe which he had ofben
remarked t h e r e . The fa u n 's ld o k ,^7 h a l f w is h fu l, h a lf d e f ia n t. A
w ild c re a tu re t h a t a b a te s none o f i t s c re a tu re ways, b u t i s d esiro u s
t o have to u ch w ith man.
"How fin e a p iece o f work she w as," he s a id . " . . . The way
h e r chin was f i t t e d in to h er t h r o a t . . . th e gold f r e t o f h e r h a i r .
. . . I was th e sm ith . . . "
He stop p ed ; th e re was noth in g in th e fao es o f th e men t h a t gave
him leave t o say h is c ra fts m a n 's d e lig h t in h e r who was t o them th e
in ju re d daughter o f t h e i r frien d .^ ®
P a r a lle l t o Mary A u s tin 's a b i l i t y to excuse S te r lin g , i s Mona's ex­
cuse f o r R avenutzi.
Likew ise, Mary A u s tin 's th in k in g t h a t S te r lin g was
n e v e rth e le s s wrong in h is a t t i t u d e s tow ards women i s Mona's a t t i t u d e
tow ards Z ir r ilo e and e s p e c ia lly tow ards Herman, who is in c lin e d t o pass
l i g h t l y over Z i r r i l o e 's tre a c h e ry .
Mona is sev ere upon Z i r r i l o e , and
v e ry much offended a t Herman's a tte m p t t o excuse h e r .
47
O f.
Mona ho ld s t h a t th e
"Or S te r l in g , a l e r t and a lie n as a faun
who has follow ed a slim -fo o te d maiden
home t o h e r v i l l a g e , . . . ." — Mary A u stin , "Three
a t C arm el," S aturday Review o f L ite r a tu r e , V (1928), 164. A lso : " S te rlin g
was a s handsome a s a Roman fau n , sh y , r e s t l e s s , slim and sto o p in g • • .
— "George S te r lin g a t C arm el," lo c . c i t . , p . 65.
4® O utland, p . 27 4 .
121
r e a l s u f f e r e r in th e -whole a f f a i r i s R avenutzi' s w ife , Herman having f o r ­
g o tte n t h a t th e re was a w ife .
A lthough th e re i s no d ir e c t condemnation o f
Ravenutzi in Out la n d , th e a u th o r, looking back on h er s to r y could see t h a t
Ravenutzi*s ^attem pt t o a t t a i n th ro u g h and by and a t th e expense o f -women,
a g re a t desideratum which had l i t t l e or n o th in g t o do w ith th e woman p e rs a n a lly ’’d ® was u n f a ir t o women and u ltim a te ly u n p ro fita b le t o R avenutzi.
Out land is a n u n can n ily pro p h etio book.
R avenutzi *s w ife gave h e r­
s e l f s a c r i f i c i a l l y ; so d id C aro lin e S te r l in g , w ife o f George, when she com­
m itte d su ic id e in 1918.
R avenutzi v o lu n te e red h is l i f e in e x p ia tio n o f h is
wrongdoing} and George S te r lin g , d riv e n p a r t l y a t le a s t by a sense o f wrong­
doing tow ards h is w ife , a ls o k i l l e d h im se lf a few y ears l a t e r .
"Hot u n t i l
y ears a f t e r ’O utland' was w ritte n d id I begin t o have a r e a liz i n g sen se o f
th e profound p sy ch o lo g ica l s ig n ific a n c e o f what when i t was fa b ric a te d ap­
peared a s a charming p astim e, " 50 Mrs. A u stin wrote one y ear a f t e r S t e r l i n g ’s
d e a th .
Women and t h e i r problems fig u re in some m iscellan eo u s a r t i o l e s and
a s to r y w ritte n a t about th e tim e o f No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t .
The War, M rs.
A ustin sa y s, i s an ’’e x h ib itio n o f m a sc u lin ity ru n amucH,"5* bu t men and
women w i l l gain sex em ancipation a s a r e s u l t o f th e w ar.
"Sex e n an cip a-
tio n " means re le a s in g both sexes t o do f o r s o c ie ty what each oan do b e s t;
fo r th e women, "se lf-im m o la tio n , m a te rn ity , f o s te r in g ," and occupations
in v o lv in g monotony and p re c is io n ; fo r th e men, " s e lf-e x p re s s io n , oom bative-
"A Poet in O u tlan d ," lo c . o i t . , p.351.
50 I b id *
Mary A u stin , "Sex Em ancipation th ro u g h lifer," Forum, UX (1918), 610.
122
rp
n e s s , p a te r n ity , p ro te c tiv e n e s s ,"
tio n s*
and adventurous occupations and avoca­
For alm ost th e f i r s t tim e in modem human h is t o r y , th e re i s a p ro s­
p e c t, she th in k s , t h a t th re e s u p e r s titio n s i d .l l be k i l l e d :
( l ) t h a t th e
work a human bein g may do in th e world i s determ ined by sex; (2) t h a t th e
s o o ia l v alu e of a woman i s e s ta b lis h e d by what some man th in k s o f h e r or
f e e ls toward h e r; (3) t h a t th e man alo n e must " su p p o rt” th e fa m ily .
The
r e la tio n s h ip o f th e se "dead or dying s u p e r s tit io n s " t o h e r own p rep o ssessio n s
h a rd ly needs s tr e s s in g .
Woman’s "war l o o t ," she ho ld s in a n o th e r a r t i c l e ,
53
i s th e o p p o rtu n ity
o f women t o achieve t h e i r r i g h t s , now t h a t s o c ia l change i s imminent over th e
whole w o rld .
The ta s k o f American women is t o keep th e monogamic p a tte r n
and to h e lp European women keep i t in th e fa c e o f th e t e r r i b l e unbalance of
men and women in w a r-d ev astated Europe; and she b e tra y s a l i t t l e f e a r t h a t
women w i l l become lo s t in d e ta i ls o f o rg a n iz a tio n and fo r g e t t h e i r g i f t o f
prophecy.
A s to r y
re-em phasizes M rs. A u stin ’ s b e l i e f in th e r e a l i t y o f je a lo u sy
and in th e fa o t t h a t a tru e mating can ta k e p la c e only when th e man reco g n izes
th e tru e w orth o f a woman and i s n o t lo s t in h is own c h iv a lr ic se n tim e n ts.
S in a, an In d ian woman, goes back t o h er estran g e d husband, B i l l Bodry, when
th e tu rn of circum stance in th e s to r y perm its h e r t o f e e l t h a t she is n o t a
52
I
b
i d
*
53
Mary A u stin , "Woman and Her Vfer L o o t," S u n set, th e P a c ific
Monthly, XLII (1919), 13-16.
^ Mary A u stin , "The D ivorcing o f S in a ," S u n set, th e P a c ifio M onthly,
XL (1918), 26'»29. R ew ritte n , w ith le s s o f a t h e s i s and more of s t r a i g h t ­
forward n a r r a tiv e , i t i s , w ith t i t l e o f "The Way of a Woman," th e f i r s t of
th e One Smoke S to r ie s (Boston and New York, 1934).
T
123
t r i n k e t but a woman whom B ill needs and whose w orth he has been fo rced t o
re c o g n ise .
Then she i s f ie r o e ly lo y a l t o him.
Mary A u stin ’ s views upon love d u rin g th e y ears 1914 to 1920 a re sim ple.
The Arrow Maker (1910) and A Woman o f Genius (1912) had emphasized a simple
p o in t:
t h a t woman should be p e rm itted t o serve s o c ie ty w ith h e r s p e c ia l t a l ­
en ts a t th e same tim e t h a t she i s allow ed t o liv e th e normal woman’s l i f e a t
home; s o c ia l o b tu sen e ss, however, makes i t d i f f i c u l t f o r a woman t o do so .
Moving on in to th e 1914-1920 p e rio d w ith t h i s id e a , Mrs. A u stin showed t h a t
h e r in s i s t i n g on a woman's r ig h t t o love d id n o t mean any loosening of th e
idea o f permanence in th e r e la tio n between man and woman.
The whole h is to r y
of love and m arriage in d ic a te d t h a t , fo r woman a t l e a s t , th e t i e must perm it
a p u b lic , e x c lu s iv e , and permanent r e l a t i o n .
Woman was p sy c h o lo g ic a lly and
p h y s io lo g ic a lly inoapable o f a tr u e m ating on any o th e r b a s is .
Outland
h in te d a t t h i s in i t s p o rtr a y a l of th e noble je a lo u s y and s a c r if i c e o f Rave­
n u tz i 's w ife .
Love and th e Soul Maker endeavored t o prove th e p o in t a n th ro ­
p o lo g ic a lly , so t o speak.
No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t showed t h a t , w ithout t h i s p er­
c e p tio n o f th e permanenoe of th e r e l a t i o n , s o c ia l re g e n e ra tio n was im possible
end r a d io a ls were only making a th e o ry of demooracy and s o c ia l j u s t i c e w ith ­
out liv in g them.
The magazine a r t i c l e s and th e one s to ry on th e theme r e ­
emphasize th e need f o r re c o g n itio n o f a woman’ s worth in term s o f what th e
woman can do, n o t in term s o f what she can make a man f e e l .
II
A fte r Outland (1910), Love and th e Soul Maker (1914), and No. 26
Jayne S tr e e t (1920), Mary A u stin had no more to say ab o u t th e woman who i s
v ic tim iz e d in lcrve.
By 1917, indeed , in The S turdy Oak, h e r a tta o k upon
th e woman problem had changed i t s c e n te r .
o lim a c tic s u c c e ss.
Woman’s su ffra g e was n e arin g i t s
In th e s o c ia l te n sio n s of th e World War, which had been
124
e n tered in to w ith some id e a lism and out of a baokground of c o n sid erab le
dom estic reform under P re s id e n t W ilson, hope was h ig h ; th e s o c ia l order
■was t o be re-m ade.
Mary A ustin caught th e n o te o f propheoy and of op­
tim ism and was on hand t o a s s ig n t o women th e ta s k and th e g lo ry of
b rin g in g about th e new w holesale d em o cratizatio n o f American l i f e .
Her
th e o ry o f woman’s p e c u lia r power of d ire c tn e s s and freedom from h a b it
and f e t i s h i s embodied in The Young Woman C itiz e n , ^ a t r a c t which she
w rote fo r th e Young Women’ s C h ris tia n A sso c ia tio n and which was intended
t o prepare th e re c e n tly e n fra n ch ise d women o f America f o r c itiz e n s h ip .
The a u th o r o f t h i s l i b e r a l ’s handbook i s th e " s o c ia lly aware mem­
b e r o f th e human fam ily1/ p e rc e iv in g th e s t i r r i n g s o f s o c ie ty tow ard ad­
ju stm e n t.
She holds t h a t when women have become s o c ia l ly aware th e y w il l
move d ir e c tly t o th e s o lu tio n of problem s.
The m an -p attem o f s o c ie ty ,
which succumbs t o h a b it, w i l l be broken by women's s tr a ig h t- s e e in g .
Men
and women to g e th e r, s o c ia lly aw are, w ill move d e m o c ra tic a lly and in fo rm ally
tow ards s o c ia l re c o n s tr u c tio n .
M rs. A u s tin 's whole philosophy i s p re d ic ate d
upon a deep e o n v io tio n of democracy, th e democraoy of th e t r i b e and th e
fa m ily , -wherein to know i s t o move i n t u i t i v e l y , w ith o u t fa n fa re or organ­
iz ed propaganda or f o r c in g .
She sees th e movement tow ards s o c ia l a d ju s t­
ment a s a n a tu r a l grow th, and b r i l l i a n t l y proves t h a t i t i s d eath t o t r y
t o in h i b i t such grow th.
The Young Woman C itiz e n i s Mary A u stin ’ s most r a d ic a l book; i t por­
tr a y s th e g re a te s t d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w ith th e "business c i v i l i z a t i o n " t h a t
she e v e r expressed.
perhaps oloudy.
Her in te n tio n i s unm istakable even th e r e h e r th e o ry i s
The in te n tio n i s th a t o f a W ilsonian i d e a l i s t , in te n t upon
55
Mary A u stin , The Young Woman C itiz e n (New York, 1918).
125
dom estic reform and in te r n a tio n a l c o o p e ra tio n .
The -world-view o f a s o c ia l
i d e a l i s t i s put in sim ple te rm s; th e a u th o r i s th e p r ie s te s s ta lk in g m ater­
n a lly t o th e t r i b e .
The commonplaces o f th e l i b e r a l d o o trin e o f 1918 a re
made t o sound lik e th e profoundest in s tin o tiv e r a c i a l wisdom.
America, she h o ld s, i s committed to w orld democracy; in d e ed , th e
whole world i s s tru g g lin g tow ards th e a r t o f liv in g to g e th e r, tr y i n g t o
in c re a s e th e "degree o f v o lu n ta ry p a r tic ip a tio n by th e members o f th e
group, in group a f f a i r s . "
The urge tow ards w orld demooraoy i s "the w ish
t h a t i s tr y in g to g e t i t s e l f s ta te d in t h i s w ar, " 57
b u t " a l l th e world
demooraoy we a re ev er going t o have w i ll be only so much as we can use."®®
We s h a ll have t o ex p lo re th e American id e a l , t e s t ev ery p o l i t i c a l p riv ile g e
f o r i t s power o f in c re a s in g human w e lfa re , and use every p o l i t i c a l advan­
ta g e a s f a s t as i t i s seo u red , th e argument ru n s .
In s h o rt, th e c itiz e n s
of America and o f th e w orld w i l l have t o achieve " s o c ia l aw areness" and
a c tu a lly p a r tic ip a te in co o p erativ e a f f a i r s , b eginning w ith th e a f f a i r a t
hand.
"Government i s th e frame and form by which we fu n c tio n c i t i z e n l y ,
th e f u r n itu r e o f our s o c ia l house, which we oan a rra n g e a t our convenience.
•
•
•
i*69
There i s n o th in g of s t a r t l i n g o r i g i n a l i t y in t h i s t h e s i s .
The id ea
t h a t democracy stan d s o r f a l l s by th e a l e r t i n t e r e s t (o r lack o f i t ) o f a
m a jo rity of c itiz e n s in problems of government was and i s a commonplace of
p o l i t i c a l s c ie n c e .
56
57
Ylhat i s o rig in a l in M rs. A u s tin ’ s book i s th e way th e se
I b id . , p .4 .
m
a . ,
p « 8 «
58 I b id . , p . l l .
59 I b i d . , p .1 4 .
126
oanmonplaoes are given c o n o re ten e ss.
"And a s f o r a f i r e • . .1
We s h a ll
never know j u s t how much th e p ra o tio e o f clubbing boys away from th e r e a lly
im p o rtan t happenings o f th e s t r e e t has to do w ith t h e i r easy su rre n d er o f
th e p o lic e departm ent and th e departm ents o f s tr e e t- c le a n in g and f i r e p ro ­
t e c t i o n t o th e p o l i t i c a l ring."®®
" I f you f in d y o u rs e lf unable to d e a l w ith
th e p a tte r n of lab o r unionism and th e n ic e d is tin c tio n s between M arxian and
Fabian S o cialism , you can a t l e a s t determ ine th a t th e woman who washes your
c lo th e s in a laundry s h a ll n o t do so under any worse c o n d itio n s th a n p re ­
v a i l in your own k itc h e n . • . • S o c ia l systems do n o t f a l l a p a r t because
good sense i s affirm ed in term s o f law and re g u la tio n , any more th an your
own home comes tum bling about your e a rs because you i n s i s t on b ein g w ise
and humane in i t . " 61
Woman's way of seein g w i l l be a g re a t c o n trib u tio n .
" . . .
i t is
th e woman h a b it t o th in k th e n ex t th in g which enables women to keep t h e i r
o p inions in a continuous s t a t e o f m o b iliz a tio n w ith o u t any su sp ic io n of
in c o n siste n c y .
They a re f a i t h f u l to th e id e a l r a th e r th a n t o th e method.
Women t r u s t l i f e more th a n men d o ." 62 T h erefo re, woman's g re a t c o n trib u tio n
w i l l be th e i n t u i t i v e l y d ir e o t way o f moving t o s o lu tio n s , keeping th e
s o c ia l end in view and n o t f e t i s h i s t i c a l l y w orshipping any p a r tic u la r means
o f reach in g th e end.
Now, th e foregoing th e o ry may or may n o t be sound.
I t has obvious
a f f i l i a t i o n s w ith Mary A u stin ’s e a r l i e r view o f p rim itiv e woman — t h a t h er
60 I b i d *> P - W .
61 I b i d . , p .1 6 8 .
62 I b i d . , p . 19.
127
s tre n g th la y in h e r a b i l i t y t o move d ir e o tly tow ards ends assig n ed t o h e r .
A gain, i t i s in th e co n crete example t h a t th e th e o ry ta k e s on meaning.
A ustin ta k e s th e example o f th e han d lin g o f m ilk in th e c i t i e s .
Mrs.
M ilk is
handled on a p r a c t i c a l b a s is , a "m an -b asis," a s a commodity t o give p r o f i t
to th e d e a le r , w ith th e h an d ler g e ttin g a l l he can and th e c h ild re n g e ttin g
what i s l e f t ; t h a t i t could be handled w ith a view to n o u rish in g c h ild re n
f i r s t and allow ing h a n d lers what i s l e f t o v e r, i s "looked upon as m ille n ia l,
a b e a u ti f u l, ‘im p ractical* dream."®^
Woman-thinking begins w ith th e n e a r e s t th in g a t hand, w ith th e o h ild .
Her v alu es a re l i f e v a lu e s . L eft t o h e r s e l f , woman would n o t th in k
of m ilk a s a means o f making a liv in g ; she would th in k o f i t a s a
means o f g iv in g a liv in g . This i s h e r second g re a t g i f t t o p o l i t i o s , ,
— h e r h a b it o f c e n te rin g th e a d m in is tra tio n o f h er a f f a i r s around
th e p ro d u ctio n and nourishm ent o f l i f e . I t i s j u s t a s e a sy , j u s t
as " p r a c tic a l" a s any o th e r wav i f you s t a r t w ith i t . No g re a t change
o f emotion i s n e o essary . • •
Woman, to o , M rs. A ustin h o ld s , w il l h e lp d e stro y th e idea o f th e e f f ic ie n c y
of th e b u sin e ss mind.
She urges women n o t to be d iso o n certed by th e "mech­
anism by which hig h finanoe i s c a r r ie d o n ,"65 not t o fo rg e t t h a t th e g re a t
s o c ia l n e c e s s ity i s t o produce and n o u ris h l i f e , and n o t t o overlook th e
f a o t t h a t b u sin ess has n o t f u l f i l l e d i t s fu n c tio n s .
A ll th e men have n o t k ept a l l th e women and c h ild re n w ell fed and
housed. . . . b u s in e s s , a s men conduct i t , i s . • . im p ra o tic a l
— never r e a l l y p r a c tic a l enough t o keep th e w orld fed and housed
and a t peace.®®
/»«
I b i d . , p .2 0 .
®^ I b id . , p .2 2 . The argument i s e s s e n t i a l l y th e S o c ia lis t d o c trin e
of "production f o r u s e , n o t f o r p r o f i t , " th e same argument as was s e t f o r th
about land and i t s use in The Ford. I t i s s ig n if ic a n t t h a t , in The Ford,
K enneth's coming t o h is id ea o f th e land a s something t o be used t o p ro duoe, n o t t o make money p r o f i t f o r th e f in a n c ia l buccaneer, was th e r e s u l t
o f h is s i s t e r Anne’s c le a r - s e e in g . M rs. A u stin a t t r i b u t e s t o "wonmn's way
of see in g " what i s only a commonplace o f S o c ia l is t d o c trin e .
65
A u stin , The Young Woman C itiz e n , p .1 4 5 .
66 I b i d . , p . 151.
128
Mrs* A u stin has made a v a s t s im p lif ic a tio n o f s o o ia l and p o l i t i c a l prob­
lem s:
th e w o rld ’ s house i s n o t in o rd e r; th e c i tiz e n s o f th e w orld ought
t o be a b le t o s e t i t in o rd e r; women, who see s t r a i g h t and a c t d i r e c t l y ,
w i l l s e t i t in o rd e r, j u s t a s th e y o p erate w is e ly , e f f i c i e n t l y , and humanely
in t h e i r own homes.
The v alu e o f such s im p lific a tio n i s t h a t i t s tim u la te s
courage and a u d a c ity ; th e harm i s t h a t i t encourages a f a ls e optim ism con­
c e rn in g th e d i f f i c u l t y o f th e problem s.
i s ooncem ed, The Young Woman C itiz e n
In so f a r as Mary A u stin h e r s e lf
r e p r e s e n ts , however, h e r b o ld e st
and m ost c o n s is te n t ohallenge t o th e p r o f i t system and t o th e dom ination
o f p o l i t i c a l l i f e by th e "b u sin ess m ind."
I f M rs. A u stin i s o v e r-o p tim is tic concerning what women can and w i ll
do in p o l i t i o s , h e r th in k in g ab o u t in te rn a tio n a lis m i s r e a l i s t i c .
For h e r,
in te rn a tio n a lis m i s no vague a ltr u is m , and she warns t h a t we cannot " s e ll"
i t to th e w orld in th e u s u a l American fa sh io n o r i t w i l l tu r n out t o be a
" fin e flim sy sentim ent about in te r n a tio n a lis m ."
Americans th in k th e y a re
i d e a l i s t i c when th e y a re only u n im ag in ativ e, and th e r e s u l t i s a "p e rp e tu a l
a f te r - d in n e r fla v o r t o our world th in k in g , " 67 a s we o s c i l l a t e between good
b u sin ess sense and p r o f e s s io n a lly a l t r u i s t i c p acifism o r in te rn a tio n a lis m .
M rs. A u stin i n s i s t s upon th e f a c t , th e n a tu r a ln e s s , and th e v alu e o f n a tio n ­
a lism and n a t i o n a l i t i e s ; she h o ld s t h a t c i v i l i z a t i o n has advanced by th e
in c re a s in g freedom o f peoples t o be d i f f e r e n t .
As long a s p a o i f i s t s see
" a l l th e boundaries of n a tio n s d isso lv e d in th e te p id b a th o f b ro th erh o o d , " 66
th e American people w ill have tro u b le making an adjustm ent t o th e new p r in -
67 I b id »» P«95»
68 I b i d . , p .9 6 .
129
o ip le o f n a t i o n a l i t y in Mexioo and R u ssia .
She an aly zes th e s i tu a ti o n in
th o se two c o u n tr ie s , and p lead s fo r u n d erstan d in g — plead s t h a t we not
assume th a t Mexico, e s p e c ia lly , should ta k e up our p a r ti c u l a r o u ltu r a l
p a tte r n , sin ce Mexico has th e in g re d ie n ts o f a p e r f e c t v illa g e and hand­
c r a f t p a tte rn o f communism.®®
R ussia a lo n e .
In lik e manner, she ask s t h a t Europe l e t
There follow s a prophecy of leagues and co v en an ts, su s­
p ic io n , w ithdraw al; o f Germany and Japan looking g re e d ily tow ards R ussian
t e r r i t o r y ; o f A frio a , unknown and w a itin g and re a d y t o he p lundered; and
of th e menace o f Germany w ith i t s ap p aren t d e s ir e to impose i t s K ultur
(a m erely m echanical p o l i t i c a l a lle g ia n c e ) upon o th e r p eo p les.
I t i s th e most exaot prophecy in a l l M rs. A u s tin 's w r itin g s .
She
seems t o have p re d ic te d q u ite p re o is e ly th e tr e n d of European a f f a i r s
a f t e r V e r s a ille s :
th e optimism about th e League o f N a tio n s, th e f a i l u r e
of th e League, Japan’ s ag g re ssio n in M anchuria, th e coming o f a m ilit a r y
d ic ta to r s h ip in Germany, I t a l y 's a tta o k on E th io p ia (alth o u g h she d id n o t
o a l l th e two o o u n trie s by name), th e b i t t e r h o s t i l i t y o f Germany and Japan
t o R u ssia .
For h e r a n a ly s is o f th e d iffe re n c e between German K u ltu r and
th e Japanese n a tio n a l s p i r i t , she was commended a t th e tim e .
a n a ly s is o f d if f e r e n t n a tio n a l id e a ls i s keen and c la r i f y i n g .
"The a u th o r 's
The d is ­
t i n c t i o n , f o r in s ta n c e , between th e im p erialism o f Japan and t h a t o f Ger­
many i s a rem arkable p iece o f w ritin g ."^ ® Her fe a rs concerning Amerioan
h o s t i l i t y t o th e development of a s o c i a l i s t i c p a tte r n in Mexico and th e
consequent j i n g o i s t i c im p erialism o f America tow ards Mexioo, have been
69
70
See Appendix I .
Boston T r a n s c rip t, Dec. 14, 1918.
130
borne o u t.
Her id e a lism on th e p o in t o f in te r n a tio n a l brotherhood was
w e ll tem pered by a sense o f f a o t.
The Young Woman C itiz e n c o n tain s many keen and p e n e tr a tin g a n a ly s e s,
P o l i t i c a l p a r tie s a re shown t o re p re s e n t no s o c ia l need except t h a t o f gangrid d en males t o fo llo w a le a d e r; th e r e a l s o c ia l is su e s a re n e ith e r formu­
la te d n o r c a r rie d out by p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s .
The old American i l l u s i o n t h a t ,
i f "good men" re p la c e d ish o n e st men in o f f ic e , th e re w i l l be s o c ia l re g e n era 71
t i o n , i s exploded.
Mrs. A u stin heaps contempt upon "th e id ea w hich, in
1776, had th e fo rce o f ex p erien c e , t h a t government was something t h a t was
s e t over th e p eo p le";
72
she ho ld s t h i s lin g e rin g idea t o be th e ro o t o f
most o f our s o c ia l i l l s and p o l i t i c a l im m aturity, sin ce government i s r e a l l y
only our means o f e x p re ssin g our c o lle c tiv e w i l l .
In s te a d o f government and
business being u n re la te d f i e l d s , th e y a re two in e x tric a b le s o c ia l a c t i v i t i e s ;
71
The idea undoubtedly came from L incoln S te f f e n s , who oonoluded
t h a t "good men" in o ff ic e could n o t fundam entally a l t e r th e e v ils o f th e
s p o ils and p a rty system . See A utobiography o f Lincoln S te ffe n s (New York,
1931). But o f . a ls o W alter Lippmann, D r if t and M astery (New York, 1917)
fo o p y rig h t 19X43 , p . 10: "There came a tim e when th e sea rc h f o r n o t- d i s honest men ceased t o be i n t e r e s t i n g . We a l l know now what te p id f a ilu r e s
were th o se f i r s t opponents of c o rru p tio n , th e men whose o n ly olaim t o d is ­
tin c t i o n was th a t th e y had done no le g a l wrong. For w ith o u t a v iv id sense
o f what p o l i t i c s and b u sin ess m ight b e, you oannot wage a v e ry f r u i t f u l
cam paign." Lippmann m entions S te f f e n s ' a d m ittin g t h a t th e m uck-rakers,
h im se lf in clu d ed , had accom plished n o th in g .
Mary A ustin must have known Lincoln S te ffe n s r a t h e r in tim a te ly .
She m entions him as one o f th e perso n s she knew in Carmel (E arth H orizon,
p .3 0 1 ); he served a s th e p ro to ty p e o f a minor c h a r a c te r, L anier S tev en s,
in No. 556 Jayne S t r e e t . "They were a l l going over t o Cooper Union a f t e r ­
ward t o h ear L anier Stevens t a l k about R u ssia . . . . Stevens • • • had
been a p h ilo s o p h io a l j o u r n a l i s t in th e days when o n e 's sense o f th e im­
pending s o c ia l change was expressed by an e x tra o rd in a ry lu o id ity about
th e m oral tu rp itu d e o f th in g s a s th e y w ere. . . . S tevens was d e sc rib in g
th e Trotzky-Lenine CsicJ R evolution w ith c o n sid erab le em otion, n o t th e
emotion o f a r e v o lu tio n is t, p e rh a p s, b u t o f a lo v er o f r e v o lu tio n s , th e
s l i g h t l y o v errip e aooent o f in f a tu a tio n ." — No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t , pp.345347. L incoln S te ffe n s had w r itte n an a r t i c l e on Mrs. A u s tin 's work in 1911.
72
A u stin , The Young Woman C itiz e n , p . 89.
th e -whole -world is now making t h i s in q u iry :
" Is th e r e any b u sin ess in
th e w orld -which i s n o t more or le s s th e b u sin ess o f a l l of u s? 7® There
is a c h a p te r whioh s ta te s a fundamental p rin c ip le o f human s o o ie ty .
Human l i f e comes up lik e a g re a t v in e , th e s e c r e t o f whose growth
i s underground. . . . The new growth of th e ra c e i s always from th e
ground, from hidden and in c a lc u la b le fo rc e s . . . . Tlherever n a tio n s
have opposed th e growth from b en eath , th e y have d ied v io le n tly . . . .
P re ssu re o f growth from below and p re s su re o f f i x i t y from above are
alw ays going on somewhere in th e w o rld . • « . when l i f e bubbles up
a g a in s t an i n e la s tic c r u s t, th e process o f adjustm ent i s c a lle d rev o ­
l u t i o n . 74
She h o ld s t h a t th e g re a t world-wide movement can be c a lle d S o c ia l Democracy,
although th e movement must n o t be confused w ith any one name or la b e l o r
p a rty .
To t r y t o s t i f l e t h i s movement i s f u t i l e and s tu p id .
P o litic a l is ­
su es, she h o ld s , must have a ro o t in and be an ex ten sio n o f something a l ­
ready in th e s o c ia l con scio u sn ess.
P o l i t i c a l id e a ls a re brought in to th e
f ie ld o f p r a c tic a l p o l i t i c a l a c tio n only by th e " c o n c e n tra te d , e l e c t r i f i e d
a tte n tio n o f v ery many m inds."7® Living is s u e s , however, must have f le x ­
ib ility :
This dream o f a s ta b i liz e d s o c ie ty is th e ghost o f m an's a n cie n t
f e a r , when he woke f i r s t out o f com fortable anim al s e o u r ity , and
found th e f u tu r e , t e r r i b l e w ith th e t h r e a t o f u n know ability, be­
sid e him. . . . To t h i s day, l o s t sheep in th e mountains w i l l
t r a v e l u n t i l th e y fin d a c l i f f o r a b oulder whioh quickens th e
old complex bred i n them in th e stone caves where man f i r s t do­
m e stic a te d them some two hundred and f i f t y thousand y ears ago,
and th e r e th e y w i l l lin g e r in th e f a ls e a s s o c ia tio n o f s e c u r ity
u n t i l hunger or th e w olf fin d s them. So, t o t h i s day, l i t t l e
flo c k s o f men a re always s p l i t t i n g o f f from th e main group in to
ro ck -h ard e n clo su re s o f th e a b s o lu t e .7®
132
The Young Woman C itiz e n summarized, th e philosophy o f tw e n tie th c e n tu ry lib e r a lis m up t o th e end o f th e World War, and shaped th e -whole
t o oonform -with th e d e s e r t woman's id ea o f a r a c i a l i n s t i n c t guiding man
t o adjustm ent w ith h is environm ent.
More im p o rta n t, on th e eve of th e v ic ­
to r y o f th e women's su ffra g e movement, i t caught up th e new idea o f "democ­
ra c y as s o c ia l p a r tic ip a tio n " and s im p lifie d i t , to make i t appear t h a t such
p a r tic ip a tio n would be th e r e s u l t o f n o th in g b u t woman's d ir e c tn e s s , an idea
which Mary A ustin had h e ld a t le a s t sin c e 1909.
The Young Woman C itiz e n i s
n o t only th e hig h p o in t o f Mary A u s tin 's prophecy b u t a ls o th e high p o in t
o f h e r enthusiasm about what women m ight c o n trib u te t o s o c ie ty i f th e y were
allow ed freedom to fo llo w t h e i r c a p a c itie s a s m others, w ives, p a r tn e r s , and
in tu itiv e se e rs.
I t i s a p i t y t h a t th e post-w ar re a c tio n , which began
s h o r tly a f t e r her book was p u b lish e d , and which denied o i v i l r i g h t s , ushered
in c o rru p t p o l i t i c s , and introduced a m a t e r i a l i s t i c and re a c tio n a ry deoade,
proved Mary A u s tin 's prophecy and hope la rg e ly f a l s e .
C oncrete a p p lic a tio n of id eas s e t f o r th in The Young Woman C itiz e n
had a lre a d y been made in The Sturdy Oak, a composite n o v el t o which Mary
A u stin c o n trib u te d a ch ap ter and f o r which she su p p lied th e th e m e .^
The
S tu rd y Oak i s r a th e r in o ffe n s iv e woman su ffra g e propaganda, re v e a lin g Mary
A u s tin 's obsession w ith th e dangers in h e re n t in th e t r a d i t i o n a l male a t t i ­
tude o f p ro te c tiv e n e s s and c h iv alro u sn e ss tow ards women; in a d d itio n th e r e
i s th e im p lic a tio n , a s in The Young Woman C itiz e n , t h a t women a re r e a l i s t s ,
Mary A u stin C&nd th i r t e e n o th e r a u th o r s ] , The S turdy Oak, A Com­
p o s ite Novel o f American P o l i t i c s . . . (New York, l9 l7 )~ Among th e o th e r
a u th o rs were Fannie H u rst, Dorothy C a n fie ld , K athleen N o rris , Mary Heaton
V orse, and W illiam A llen W hite. The theme was by Mary A u stin , and th e work
was " c o lle c te d and (very c a u tio u sly ) e d ite d by E liz a b e th Jo rd a n ," acco rd in g
t o th e t i t l e - p a g e .
133
t h a t th e y can move d i r e c t l y t o a p o in t, t h e i r v is io n unobscured by th e
f e tis h e s o f p ro p e rty r i g h t s , p r o f i t s , and p a r ty p o l i t i c s -nhen th e se stan d
in th e way of th e w e lfa re o f th e community o r th e whole human fa m ily .
The theme o f The S turdy Oak i s am azingly w ell worked out in view o f
th e f a c t t h a t fo u rte e n d if f e r e n t a u th o rs had o p p o rtu n ity t o lose s ig h t of
it.
I t i s unm istakably Mary A u s tin ’s them e.
co u rse, i s no more th a n a to u r de fo r c e .
The book a s a whole, o f
The c h ap te rs a re uneven, and
many o f them a re w r itte n in th e s u a v e st, r a c i e s t magazine s t y l e ,
By con­
t r a s t , M rs. A u stin ’ s own c h ap te r i s oloudy, la ck in g th e smart e f f ic ie n c y
t h a t i s ev id en t in th e c h a p te rs o f such hardened p r a c titio n e r s o f th e popul a r s ty le a s B arry Leon W ilson,
78
Leroy S c o tt, and Fannie H u rst; b u t d is ­
playing a se rio u sn e ss and a power o f d e s c rip tio n nowhere e ls e ev id en t in
th e book.
What i s p e r tin e n t t o th e d isc u ssio n in hand i s t h a t Mary A u stin
had a lre a d y form ulated an im portant t h e s i s o f The Young Woman C itiz e n , and
had imposed h er id e a upon t h i r t e e n o th e r well-known and c e r ta in ly independent-m inded w r ite r s .
The id ea — t h a t woman’s p o l i t i c a l genius i s m erely
a genius f o r a tta o k in g problems w ith i n t u i t i v e d ir e c tn e s s , p u ttin g human
ends above t r a d i t i o n a l means — i s r a th e r c le a r ly enforoed throughout an
o therw ise v ery uneven book, and stan d s as evidence t h a t Mary A u stin could
organize h e r id e as in to a somewhat e f f e c tiv e s o c ia l a c t u a l i t y .
78
At le a s t one o f th e " s u c c e s s fu l” w r ite r s who c o lla b o ra te d upon
The S tu rd y Oak was w illin g t o adm it Mary A u s tin ’s s u p e r io r ity . S in c la ir
Lewis, on January 17, 1938, r e la te d t o t h i s au th o r an in c id e n t in Carmel
(Mr. Lewis was unable t o d a te i t e x a c tly ). Mr. Lewis, H arry Leon W ilson,
and o th e r w rite rs were p re s e n t. Mary A u stin , n o t p re s e n t, became th e sub­
j e c t o f d is o u ss io n . Someone began t o mimic h er — th e h a lf - s h u t e y e s, th e
p ro fesse d g i f t o f prophecy, th e whole mumbo-jumbo a t t i t u d e o f th e w itc h woman. H arry Leon W ilson, provoked, reminded th e whole company t h a t , a f t e r
a l l , i t was ungracious o f them t o be d e rid in g one who su rp assed them a l l in
a r t i s t i c i n t e g r i t y , i f n o t power. Wilson was one of th e f i r s t persons Mrs.
A ustin had known a t Carmel. See E arth H orizon, pp.298 f f .
134
III
The l a s t phase o f Mary A u s tin 's i n t e r e s t in th e problems o f -women
begins in 1920 and ends about 1926; in t h i s ph ase, she runs th e gamut from
rh a p so d ic a l prophecies about -woman's p o s s ib le c u l tu r a l c o n trib u tio n , t o
d is illu s io n m e n t and d is g u s t.
A fte r 1920, o f c o u rse, i t i s no lo n g er a
q u e stio n o f v o te s f o r women or of a woman's r ig h t t o have a o a re e r and a
home.
Her r o le i s m ainly t o p re d ic t th e e f f e c ts o f woman's su ffra g e and
woman's p a r tic ip a tio n in s o o ia l a f f a i r s .
Sometimes she i s v e ry o p tim is tic
of th e r e s u l t s , and a t o th e r tim es she seems t o f e e l t h a t th e women have
lo s t them selves in o rg a n iz a tio n and have n o t adopted t h e i r proper r o le of
s o c ia l prophecy and m aternal-m indedness.
W riting f o r a magazine o f la rg e c ir c u la t io n on th e s u b je c t o f "Woman’ s
P re fe rre d C andidate" in 1920,
79
she was a s t u t e enough n o t t o say w hether women
would v ote f o r Hoover, Londen, Wood, o r Johnson.
much vaguer prophecy.
She confined h e r s e l f to
She thought t h a t women lik e d Mr. Hoover because o f
"the immediacy o f h is methods, "®^a p o in t whioh was c e n tr a l in The Young
Woman C itiz e n ; b u t t h a t women would a ls o be d i s t r u s t f u l o f him because h is
"acquaintance w ith th e s o c ia l foro es a t work below th e su rface o f our n a tio n a l
l i f e i s a l l to o s c a n t." 8* One th in g was obvious, she w ro te.
Women were
going t o ohoose an a d m in is tra to r and would n o t be fo o le d by th e ex p re ssio n
o f f in e a l t r u i s t i c se n tim e n ts.
The women's clu b s were a g re a t p ie ce of
s o c ia l m achinery — a much more e f f i c i e n t and co h eren t s o c ia l ex p re ssio n
79 Mary A u stin , "Woman's P re fe rre d C an d id ate ," C o llie r ’ s , 1X7 (May 29,
1920), 7 and 38.
80 *b id »» P«7«
81 I b id .
135
th a n male p o l i t i c i a n s had y e t r e a l is e d .
Above a l l , women, had th e g i f t
of s o c ia l prophecy, of knowing, even i f in a dim way, what ohanges th e y
wished in s o c ie ty and how t o move d i r e c t l y towards making th o se ohanges.
"A c h a r a c te r is tic fem inine d ire c tn e s s in th e approach" was what
she emphasised in review ing Mary Heaton Y orse’ s Men and S te e l in 1921.
"On . . .
unobserved and unremarked-upan in c id e n ts M rs. Vorse r e s t s h er
c a s e . A ll absurd p a ra p h e rn a lia o f t r a d i t i o n a l sc h o la rs h ip were m issin g ;
th e re was no tr a c e of th e in flu e n c e o f th e o l o i s t e r o r th e u n iv e r s ity , no
"lo n g , argum entative c h a p te r," no " s o lid grey p ag e," no "academic i n s i s t ­
ence an a sequence of p re s e n ta tio n which has n o th in g t o do w ith th e way
in which f a c ts a re gleaned from l i f e and e x p erien ce. " 83
In s h o r t, th e book
was e n t i r e l y fem inine, end " fe m in in ity in i n t e l l e c t u a l prooedure [was]
n o th in g t o be a f r a id o f , [might] even have an im portant s e rv ic e t o perform
in r e le a s in g us from th e Podsnappery o f th e i n t e l l e c t . n8^
M rs. A u stin was
e v id e n tly muoh more occupied w ith th e manner th a n w ith th e co n ten t o f th e
book; b u t, i t must be remembered, th e fem inine method of d ir e c tn e s s , c u ttin g
through th e f e tis h e s and tr a d i t i o n s o f th e male o rg a n iz a tio n o f s o c ie ty , was
t o h er a most im portant c o n s id e ra tio n .
Let th e s t e e l s t r i k e s once be seen
as s tu p id d is o rd e rs in th e American household, and women would d i r e c t l y
s e t t l e them .
L a te r in th e same y e a r, M rs. A u stin was seein g m ag n ificen t v is io n s
of th e e f f e c ts t h a t women were t o have on th e i n t e l l e c t u a l l i f e o f America.
82
Mary A u stin , "Woman Sees S t e e l ," Bookman, L III (1921), 82.
83 I b i d . , p .8 4 .
84 I b id .
136
She was bold and sure*
I n t e l l e c t u a l l i f e among American women m s much
more th a n th e l i f e le d by women who were known as i n t e l l e c t u a l s .
’’in t e l l e c t u a l s " were becoming more and more u n im p o rtan t.
Indeed*
A c la s s a p a r t,
perform ing a l l i n t e l l e c t i o n f o r s o c ie ty , m s r e a l l y a v e s t i g i a l c o n d itio n ,
a su rv iv e 1 from th e days o f male c o n tro l o f s o o ie ty .
I n t e l l e c t m s invad­
in g new f ie ld s whioh had no form al or in s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d re c o g n itio n - - th e
f i e l d s o f "food, housing, h y g ien e, e u g en ic s, m arriag e, th e whole parapher­
n a l i a of p e rso n a l
l i v i n g , "85
m a tte rs whioh had a lm y s been woman’ s concern
and which were now being opened up t o s c i e n t i f i c and s o h o la rly re s e a rc h .
Women would exoel in th e s e f i e l d s .
Women had n o t e x c e lle d in scien ce and
re s e a rc h b e fo re , f o r th e re a so n t h a t " n in e -te n th s o f th e preocoupations of
le a rn in g up t o th e m iddle o f th e n in e te e n th c e n tu ry (werej pure
b o sh ,
"86
and women had been p ro p e rly unconcerned w ith im personal and in d ir e c t methods,
had been le s s given to r i t u a l , had contem ptuously avoided "the Pooh-Bah t r a ­
d itio n s o f l e a r n i n g . I n o th er w ords, a g re a t d e m o cratiza tio n of c u ltu re
m s ta k in g p la c e , and Ida Clyde C lark ( e d i t o r i a l w r ite r fo r P i c t o r i a l Review)
m s as g re a t an e d ito r as H erbert C roly or th e e d ito r o f th e Yale Review.
The two m illio n re a d e rs of P i c t o r i a l Review were engaging in a s much i n t e l ­
le c tio n a s th e lim ite d c i r c l e o f re a d e rs o f th e New R epublic.
Now t h a t i n t e l l e c t m s tu rn in g upon th in g s t h a t m a tte re d ,women could
be depended upon t o hold t h e i r own.
in d if f e r e n t t o s ty le and form .
86
The g re a t handicap m s t h a t women were
Men, however, had a lm y s overemphasized
Mary A u stin , "Amerioan Women and th e I n t e l l e c t u a l L if e ," Bookman,
L III (1921), 483.
86 I b id *
87 I b i d . ,
p .4 8 4 .
137
th e s e m a tte rs .
Between woman's d ire c tn e s s and p r a c t i c a l i t y , h er sense o f
" so o ia l a p p l i c a b i l i t y as th e t e s t o f -v alu e,” h e r power t o reduoe a l l t o
”h e r experience a s th e c e n te r of th e fa m ily group,"®®on one hand, and m an's
sense o f form and s ty le on th e o th e r hand — somewhere between was th e
happy medium.
Her id e as seem but a re sta te m e n t of W alter P a t e r 's dictum
about ”th e s tu p id ity whioh i s dead t o substance and th e v u lg a r ity which i s
dead t o form,"®® and o f Van Wyck B rooks' a n a ly s is o f th e d e p lo ra b le gap
between th e i n t e l l e c t u a l and th e p r a c t i c a l t r a d i t i o n s in American life.® ®
The o e n tra l p la ce occupied in M rs. A u s tin 's consciousness by sex antagonism
causes h e r t o base th e "highbrow-lowbrow" o r "substance-form " dichotomy
upon sex l i n e s , where i t obviously does n o t r e s t .
Mrs. A u stin should n o t
have c o u rte d th e favor o f th e re a d e rs o f P i c t o r i a l Review, f o r she d id
n o t, a f t e r a l l , belong w ith them.
She belonged w ith th e "highbrow s," both
male and fem ale.
A tu rn in Mary A u s tin 's a t t i t u d e tow ards women came l a te in 1921.
A p o e tic p la y , "Women's War T houghts,"91
r e tu rn s t o th e id ea th a t women
a re sunk in th e old t r a d i t i o n o f woman's p re o io u sn e ss; t h a t by ev asio n and
f e i n t s , women s t i l l th in k o f them selves a s men i n s i s t th e y s h a ll th in k ;
t h a t t h i s concept o f th e p reciousn ess o f women enoourages men in t h e i r
"shiny to y m alen ess," which leads to male pompousness and w ar.
In s h o r t,
th e promise t h a t women, by t h e i r m atern al d ir e c tn e s s , would a b o lis h war
and put th e houBe o f in te r n a tio n a l a s w e ll a s dom estic a f f a i r s in o rd e r,
has n o t been f u l f i l l e d .
88 I b id »
®® W alter P a te r, " P o s ts c r ip t," A p p re c ia tio n s , w ith an Essay on S ty le
(London, 1927), p . 274.
90 Van Wyck Brooks, "Highbrow and Lowbrow," America' s Coming o f Age
(New York, 1915).
91
Mary A u stin , "Women's War Thoughts," D ia l, LX X I,(192l), 551-555.
138
We modern women a re undone by our own p r e o io u s n e s s .^
The women are t o blame.
They have been '‘w om an-soft,” s e n tim e n ta l, s e l f i s h ;
th e y have n o t faced r e a l i t y and have n o t ta u g h t t h e i r sons t o do so; and s o ,
i t a p p ea rs, w i l l i t ever be.
A c e r ta in pessimism re g a rd in g woman's c o n trib u tio n t o c u ltu re and t o
p o l i t i c a l and s o c ia l l i f e contin u es in "Women a s A u d i e n c e . A l l feminism,
she say s, has been en erg ized by woman's r e s is ta n c e t o h e r t r a d i t i o n a l r o le
o f "p assive s p e c ta to r t o th e male perfo rm an ce."94
But now t h a t women have
achieved s u ffra g e , th e y s t i l l s i t q u ie tly (as au dience) in more or le s s be­
coming a t t i t u d e s .
The organized and fe d e ra te d women's groups, from which
some c re a tiv e s o c ia l re a c tio n might be ex p ected , a re n e v e r th e le s s , as f a r
a s a r t , l i t e r a t u r e , and e d u ca tio n a re concerned, th e p o o rest o f a u d ien c e s.
They do n o t p a r t i c i p a t e .
They a re n o t c r i t i c a l .
They do n o t e n te r in to
th e c re a tiv e s tru g g le ; th e y a re s a t i s f i e d w ith mere e n tertain m en t as i s
shown by t h e i r p ro p e n sity t o favor sec o n d -ra te E n g lish le c tu r e r s w ith a
s l i g h t l y e x o tic f la v o r .
Taught fo r c e n tu rie s t o look upon "books, m agazines,
p la y s , and p a in tin g a s th e s o r t o f th in g Daddy b rin g s home from h is h u n tin g ,"95
th e y a re t o t a l l y u n c r i t i c a l and ten d " to measure a r t by th e ensuing fa tn e s s
o f t h e i r p e rso n a l r e a c t i o n s ." 9® T h eir a t t i t u d e r e f l e o t s th e whole n a tio n a l
92 I b id «» P*551.
93 Mary A u stin , "Women as A udience," Bookman, LV (1922), 1-5.
94 I b id . , p . l .
95 I b i d ., p .3 .
139
d is p o s itio n tow ards a r t , a s a luxury t o be a ffo rd e d only a f t e r th e e s s e n tia ls
have been ta k e n care o f, a s re la x a tio n fo r an id le moment.
t i n r e tu r n s t o th e s t r a i n o f h e r p re -s u ffra g e p reach in g .
And so Mrs. Aus­
Women should e x is t
as v i t a l p a r tic ip a n ts in th e c u ltu r a l l i f e o f th e n a tio n , n o t in t h e i r spec­
i a l i s e d c a p a o ity o f woman, w ife , m other, b u t a s ’’im personal, unemphasised
item s o f society,"® ^ having w orth fo r what th e y a re and n o t s o le ly in term s
of what men th in k about them o r f e e l tow ards them.
b rin g s in a c o r o lla r y :
This id e a , o f c o u rse,
t h a t a r t , lik e democracy, depends upon p a r tic ip a ­
t i o n , and has no meaning a s something imposed from above.
Women need t o
le a rn "to be audience t o , . • • n o t th e book a f t e r i t i s w r itte n , nor th e
p e rs o n a lity o f th e a u th o r who w rite s i t , b u t th e process by which a r e a l l y
v i t a l book g ets i t s e l f produced out o f our communal e x p e rie n c e .” ®®
Likew ise, in w ritin g t o a wide audience in The Ladies * Home J o u rn a l,®9
Mrs. A ustin q u estio n ed th e p ro g ress o f women’s clubs "even along th e lin e
o f th e developing s o c ia l c a p a c itie s of women.”100
That th e re was a ”low
to n e o f s o c ia l i n t e l l e c t u a l l i f e in A m erica,"101 th e theme of so many young
men n o v e lis ts and c r i t i c s , w as, a f t e r a l l , a j u s t i f i a b l e c r itic is m ; and th e
c o n d itio n was due la rg e ly t o th e f a c t t h a t " c u ltu re " was l e f t in th e hands
o f women who ru le d out th e young.
were c a r rie d on in a vacuum.
T h eir " c u ltu r a l" a c t i v i t i e s in clubs
Furtherm ore, th e com plaint o f n o v e lis ts t h a t
97 I b id «
98 I b id *» P*4 *
99
Mary A u stin , "Women’ s Clubs Today and Tomorrow," The L ad ies’ Home
J o u rn a l, XXXIX (June, 1922), 27.
100 I b id .
101 I b id .
140
t h e i r work had t o come under th e b a n efu l eyes o f women audiences was a
j u s t i f i a b l e com plaint.
Women could be imposed upon, and alm ost in v a ria b ly
th e y chose th e w orst in a r t and l i t e r a t u r e .
C u ltu ra l a c t i v i t i e s were n o t
c o o rd in a ted w ith community l i f e , and u n le ss th e women's clu b s could shake
o f f t h e i r d re a ry am ateurishness in th e presenoe o f books and a r t , th e y were
in danger o f becoming " i n t e l l e c t u a l oozy c o m e r s ."102 An a r t i c l e , "G reat­
n ess in
W o m e n ,
"-*-03 ohided th e fe d e ra te d women's groups f o r having become
bogged in th e e f f ic ie n c y o f t h e i r o rg a n iz a tio n and f o r hav in g , as a conse­
quence, l o s t t h e i r power o f s o c ia l prophecy, of d e te c tin g g re a tn e s s in
women when t h a t g reatn ess to o k non-m asculine form s.
There had n ev er been
a t r a d i t i o n a l technique f o r d e te c tin g g re a tn ess in women, sin c e woman's
g re a tn e ss i s e n t i r e l y d if f e r e n t from m a n 's.
Woman's q u a l itie s a re a m ater-
nal-m indedness (a g ivingness) and th e g i f t o f s o c ia l prophecy.
n o t attem p ted t o d e te c t th e s e kinds o f g reatn ess in women.
Men have
I t is not a
m a tte r a lto g e th e r of sex antagonism , f o r where men d isco v er th e ra re woman
who p o ssesses greatness in th e m asouline sen se, th e y have accorded h e r h er
proper p la c e .
Women have n o t learn ed to d e te o t g reatn ess in t h e i r own k in d .
They have n o t e x ercised t h e i r g i f t of s o c ia l prophecy.
These id e a s were
e la b o ra te d and c a r e f u lly e x p lain ed in popular term s in a len g th y a r t i c l e in
P i c t o r i a l R eview ^^ an i t s tw e n ty -fifb h a n n iv e rsa ry .
She was s t i l l , a s in
The Young Woman C itiz e n , convinced th a t woman's p e c u lia r v alu e t o so o ie ty
Mary A u stin , "G reatness in Women," Worth American Review, CCXVII
(1923), 197-203.
Mary A u stin , "Woman Looks a t Her W orld," P ic to r i a l Review, XXVI
(Nov., 1924), 8-9 e t seq .
141
la y in h e r "m other-m indedness" or g iv in g n e ss, h e r i n s t i n c t t o fu n c tio n
through th e group; and in h e r g i f t o f s o c ia l prophecy, h e r power o f g rasp ­
ing i n t u i t i v e l y th e lin e o f growth in s o c ie ty and working d i r e c t l y w ith
th e s o o ia l u rg e .
But she was a ls o oonvinoed t h a t women's o rg a n iz a tio n s
were to p -h eav y , t h a t women had learn ed no means of d e te c tin g g re a tn ess in
women, th a t women had n o t p u t t h e i r g i f t o f s o c ia l prophecy to any u s e , t h a t
in th e realm of l i t e r a t u r e and a r t women had no more th a n te a - p a r ty concep­
tio n s .
In s h o r t, women oould s t a r t from t h e i r immediate a f f a i r s and work
outw ards, in th e d i r e c t , i n t u i t i v e fem inine way, t o an embracing s o o ia l
co n sciousness; but th e y had n o t done so .
C onsequently, i t is n o t s u rp ris in g t o fin d t h a t , by 1926, Mary A ustin
was d e f i n i t e l y through w ith women and women's clu b s a s such.
There i s a
s l i g h t clue in th e f a c t t h a t "The Town That D o esn 't Want a Chautauqua"^®
was w r itte n f o r The New R epublic, n o t f o r a woman' 3 magazine o f huge c i r ­
c u la tio n .
Mary A u s tin 's f a i t h in women's clubs as th e f i r s t green shoot
o f a g re a t c u l t u r a l and s o c ia l r e b i r th has d ie d , and she a d d re sses h e r s e lf
t o " in te lle c tu a ls " a g a in .
The s itu a tio n behind th e a r t i c l e heeds e x p la in in g .
The F ederated Women's Clubs of Texas wished t o e s ta b lis h a summer colony
n e a r Santa Fe, New Mexioo, f o r th e b e n e f it o f women in n in e southw estern
s ta te s .
I t was t o be on th e Chautauqua p la n — w ith le c tu r e s , sem inars,
and " c u ltu r a l" o p p o rtu n itie s o f g re a t v a r i e t y .
Almost sp o n tan eo u sly , i t
appeared, th e people o f Santa Fe r e s is te d th e p la n , and i t was abandoned.
Santa Fe re fu sed th e " c u ltu r a l" o p p o rtu n ity .
of th e reason f o r th e r e f u s a l was as fo llo w s.
Mrs. A u s tin 's in te r p r e ta tio n
Santa Fe had a community
sense; i t was aware o f i t s promise t o th e fu tu re o f Amerioan o u ltu r e .
105
Mary A u stin , "The Town That D o esn 't Tfent a Chautauqua " New
----R epublic, XLVII (1926), 195-197.
It
142
had learn ed t h a t c u ltu re mas a m a tte r o f p a r tic ip a tio n , a c re a tiv e may o f
liv in g , something ’’n o t incom patible w ith th e o rd in a ry l i f e of d ru g g ists
and hardware m erchants, dootors and law y ers."
lOfi
The people of Santa Pe,
she f e l t , le d by th e a r t i s t s , recognized th e Women*s Club p lan f o r what i t
was — a gross m a n ife sta tio n o f th e M iddlewestem -American id e a o f c u ltu re
as something doled out under th e a u sp ic e s o f b ig names and sponsored by
"our b e s t women," r e f l e c t i n g our "naive b e l i e f and our superb f a i t h th a t
c u ltu re can, lik e other appurtenances o f democracy, proceed by m a j o r i t i e s ."107
Santa F e, in r e s is ti n g Chautauqua and th e Women's C lubs, was r e a l l y a r t i c u ­
la t i n g a "fum bling movement tow ard a c u ltu re ro o te d in th e liv in g p ro cesses
of community life."^® ®
Santa Fe was ta k in g th e lead in A m erica's attem p t
t o put Chautauqua-mindedness — th e product o f a s p e c ifio form er c o n d itio n
whioh had reached i t s peak in th e " c u ltu r a l h e ro ," W illiam Jennings Bryan
— behind i t .
I t was a joyous adventure fo r Santa Fe and an omen o f g re a t
promise f o r America.
C h a r a c te r is tic a lly , Mrs. A u stin was n o t co n ten t t o
have Santa Fe r e j e c t th e Chautauqua because o f a p e c u lia r s itu a tio n in
Santa F e.
She had t o see th e r e je c tio n a s a fo re c a s t o f something g re a t
about t o happen.
Thus ends th e h is to r y o f Mary A u stin ’ s dev o tio n t o th e cause o f
women.
On th e p r a c tic a l s id e , women had won t h e i r cause b e fo re 1920.
Mary
A ustin had th e n but t o h e ra ld th e g re a t changes t o be wrought by woman's
d ire o tn e s s , m other-m indedness, " g iv in g n e ss ," and freedom from f e t i s h and
106 I b id »» P -196.
107 *b id «« p*195.
108 I b i d «* P » 1 9 6 .
143
s u p e r s titio n .
For a few years a f t e r th e p u b lic a tio n of The Young Woman
C itiz e n , th in g s seemed t o be going a s she had p re d ic te d .
were anathema t o h e r .
The i n t e l l e c t u a l s
They d id n o t sense th e g re a t u n d ercu rren ts o f th e
s o c ia l awakening, th e urge towards o u ltu re th ro u g h th e women's c lu b s.
E a rly in th e 'tw e n tie s , however, she began t o see t h a t American women were
Americans b e fo re th e y were women, and were co n seq u en tly q u ite co n ten t w ith
top-heavy o rg a n iz a tio n , th e worship o f b ig n e s s , and th e t r a d i t i o n a l M iddlew estern concept of c u ltu re as an unim portant em bellishm ent.
I t i s a fe e b le ending to sin im portant c h a p te r in a f in e c a r e e r.
In
L ost Borders (1909), Mary A u stin , encouraged by th e example o f Frances W illa rd ,
and lis te n in g t o th e chorus of c r it ic is m in l i t e r a t u r e , p a r t ic u l a r ly in th e
novels o f R obert H e rric k , had h e ld up th e v is io n o f competent woman, s tu rd y ,
s e l f - r e l i a n t , w anting companionship and a shared t a s k .
" F r u s tr a te 11 proved
h e r th in k in g im pelled by p e rso n al m aladjustm ents and f r u s t r a t i o n s ; bu t she
came, in The Arrow Maker (1911) and A Woman o f Genius (1912) t o see h e r
p erso n al problem in la rg e s o c ia l term s.
She in s is t e d t h a t women's genius
must be made use of w hile women were allow ed a normal p e rso n al l i f e .
And
th e n , as i f aware t h a t h er p le a f o r g re a te r freedom f o r women might have
been m is in te rp re te d , she c re a te d a s e r ie s o f th re e n o v e ls, some a r t i c l e s ,
and a s to ry to prove t h a t , above ev ery th in g e l s e , s t r i c t monogamy and abso­
lu te i n t e g r i t y in love a f f a i r s were e s s e n ti a l t o women.
In th e l a s t few
y ears o f th e long crusade fo r women's s u ffra g e , she tu rn e d t o make a c o rre ­
la tio n o f h e r id eas ab o u t woman — woman's d ir e c tn e s s , woman's "g iv in g n ess" —
w ith th e urge tow ards d em o cratizatio n in th e y e ars of W ilsonian id e a lism .
The p r a c t i c a l v ic to r y f o r women won, she was b r i e f l y e n th u s ia s tic about
women's c o n trib u tio n t o c u ltu re and s o c ia l p a r tic ip a tio n .
But soon she was
144
a b le t o see in women and women's o rg a n iz a tio n s none o f th e e n erg izin g
power of s o c ia l prophecy whioh she ex p ected .
By 1924, she had ta k en up
permanent re sid e n c e in Santa Fe, from which p o in t o f vantage she was to
e x c o ria te p r a c tio a l ly every elem ent o f th e predominant American way of
l i f e , and a l l in th e name of th e Spanish-American and In d ian f o lk she had
found.
I t was n o t alone d is g u s t and disappointm ent w ith women t h a t sent
Mary A ustin t o Santa Fe and to th e f o lk ; b u t t h a t d is g u s t and disappointm ent
had something to do w ith th e r e l i s h which she to o k in th e f o lk and th e b i t ­
te rn e s s w ith whioh she fa b ric a te d a re g io n a l philosophy t h a t n e g le c te d p rac­
t i c a l l y a l l th e p a tte rn s o f th e dominant American l i f e and c u ltu r e .
I t would be f a ls e t o a t t r i b u t e Mary A u stin ’ s lo s in g i n t e r e s t in
women and th e problems o f women t o th e f a c t t h a t th e g r e a t b a t t l e f o r
s u ffra g e had been won and she th e r e f o r e no lo n g e r had an y th in g t o e n erg ize
h e r fem inism .
For she could have found p le n ty t o f ig h t about i f she had
n o t been d is illu s io n e d .
The d is illu s io n m e n t came from th e n a tu re o f Amer­
ican l i f e in th e ’tw e n tie s ~
i t s love o f b ig n e ss , i t s penchant f o r r e ­
lie v in g i t s e l f , o f th in k in g by th e c re a tin g o f to p -h eav y o rg a n iz a tio n s,
i t s n o is y p ro g re s s, i t s m eaningless p o l i t i c s , i t s la c k o f d ir e c tio n and
o o n tro l and r o o ts .
The whimper w ith whioh h e r f ig h t on th e sid e o f women
ends i s an in d ic a tio n o f a kind o f n a tio n a l tra g e d y a s w e ll as an in d ic a ­
t i o n o f her approaching a g e, developing m ysticism , and renewed i n t e r e s t
in th e West and th e f o lk .
CHAPTER V
AN AMERICAN PROPHETESS
Mary A u stin ’s f a v o r ite ro le was t h a t o f prophetess or " c h is e ra ."
More im portant th a n her feminism or m ysticism was h er penohant f o r s o c ia l
prophecy*
Although a t th e haok o f h e r mind was always a to u ch of th e
o c c u lt, she u s u a lly pretended to see only what any p e n e tra tin g observer
might see*
One cannot escape th e c o n v ic tio n t h a t H. G. Wells* works in g e n e ra l,
and Tono-Bungay in p a r tic u la r , were th e g r e a te s t sin g le in flu e n c e upon Mary
A ustin in th e m a tte r o f s o c ia l prophecy.
A ntedating th e W ells in flu e n c e
was th a t o f C h ris tia n S cience, New Thought, and a kind of rom anticized
anthropology, from a l l o f which, among o th e r th in g s , Mary A ustin d eriv ed
h e r f a i t h in th e s o lv a b i lity o f a l l human problems and in th e e s s e n tia l
rig h tn e s s of th e l i f e process — a f a i t h in i n s t i n c t and an even deeper
reason guiding l i f e t o i t s f u lf ilm e n t.
Having observed p rim itiv e peoples
and d e s e r t p la n ts a d ju s t them selves so s k i l l f u l l y t o t h e i r environm ent,
having e a r ly adopted th e n o tio n t h a t th e re i s a s o lu tio n t o a l l problems
"Here and Now," Mary A ustin came upon W ells’ o p tim is tic problem -solving
and eager p o in tin g o f s o c ia l d ir e c tio n s .
From t h a t tim e (1909 or 1910)
forw ard, she was s o c ia l p rophetess t o America, m aternal-m inded woman see in g
through h a lf - s h u t eyes th e p ath o f American d e s tin y in r e l ig io n , a e s th e tic s ,
and g en eral s o c ia l and economic a f f a i r s .
Because Mary A u stin ’ s r e lig io u s and m y stio a l id e a s , h e r a e s th e tic
th e o r ie s , and h e r concept of th e lan d as th e shaper of a l l th e p a tte rn s of
145
th e l i f e liv e d upon i t a re th e su b je c ts o f o th e r c h a p te rs , t h i s o hapter
s h a ll be devoted to h e r c r itic is m and p ro p h ecies concerning th e g en eral
s o c ia l, p o l i t i c a l , and economio l i f e of America.
under th re e major head in g s:
This m a te ria l i s tr e a te d
( l ) A review of h e r c r itic is m of American so­
c i e t y up t o 1920; (2) A review of h e r flo u n d e rin g a tte m p ts t o understand
th e economic problem in American l i f e , th e se a tte m p ts reach in g t h e i r c l i ­
max in her th e o ry of economic re g io n a lism ; (3) A review o f h er confused
and confusing attem p ts t o in te r p r e t Amerioan c u l t u r a l l i f e , th e se a ttem p ts
culm inating in h e r th e o ry of " f o lk - n e s s ."
I
As e a r ly as 1903, in The Land o f L i t t l e R ain, Mrs. A u stin had knowl­
edge o f p la n t a d a p ta tio n t o th e la n d .
Under th e in flu en c e o f another f a ­
v o r ite of h e r e a rly d ay s, Hugh M ille r (1802-1856), th e S c o ttis h
mason-
g e o lo g is t, she had imbibed a te le o lo g ic a l view of " e a r th 's u n fo ld in g .”
N ature -was, t o h e r, pregnant w ith evidence o f a p la n .
In d ia n s and Spanish-
American v i l l a g e r s , lo v in g ly observed, as h er frie n d C. P . Luramis ta u g h t
h e r t o observe them, proved t h a t even human l i f e adapted i t s e l f e v e n tu a lly
t o th e la n d , and t h a t t h a t l i f e was r i c h , s a tis f y in g , n a tu r a l, and r i g h t .
She had a lre a d y perhaps imbibed enough o f C h ris tia n Soienoe and New Thought
and o f W illiam James' to le ra n c e tow ards ta k in g o n e 's r e lig io n wherever end
however one could fin d i t , to have a r r iv e d , by 1903, a t th e concept t h a t th e
e a rth is planned, t h a t a ”n a tu r a l” l i f e i s s a ti s f y i n g , t h a t th e human s p i r i t ,
unaided and a lo n e , can f in d God working H im self out in l i f e .
In "The L i t t l e
Town o f th e Grape V in e s," a c h a p te r o f The Land o f L i t t l e R ain, a t any r a t e ,
a l l th e se elem ents a re caught up.
The c h ap te r announces t o th e observant
t h a t Mary A u stin w i l l look h e r e a f te r fo r th o se n a tu r a l adjustm ents in human
146
s o c ie ty -which y ie ld peace, o rd e r, s a t i s f a c t i o n , a m y stic a l view o f th e
w orld.
In Santa Lucia (1906), M rs. A u stin p re d ic ts th e r i s e o f a new
mythology, "new r e lig io n s and new a r t s , " in th e West.^- But she i s much
more in te r e s te d in th e contem porary s o c ia l p a tte rn s in th e pioneer commu­
n i t y o f Santa L uciaj as she looks a t th e se she i s to r n between h e r fe e lin g
th a t g re a t th in g s a re happening and h er f e e lin g t h a t much i s wrong — a
con fu sio n which pervades a l l h e r prophecy and a l l h er attem p ts t o under­
stan d th e American soene.
I t i s as i f she had learn ed from Frank N o rris
t o rh ap so d ise about th e ep ic q u a li ty o f th e W est, and from Robert H erriok
to be pained by th e cru d en ess, c r u e lty , and hollow m a te ria lism of th e u su a l
American way.
Through Serena Lindley i s vo iced c r i t i c i s m o f th e c u ltu r a l rawness
of th e town of Santa L uoia, i t s la c k of a p p re c ia tio n of f it n e s s in a r t i s t i c
m a tte rs , i t s to le r a n t a ttitu d e tow ards q u e stio n a b le b u sin ess d e a lin g s , i t s
n aiv e b e l i e f in th e goodness o f mere grow th.
"Santa Lucia was a t t h a t
p o in t o f open f e l i c i t a t i o n upon i t s own advanced c u ltu re whioh i s a sig n o f
n o t being v e ry sure o f i t a t h e a r t , t h e a u th o r says in h er own p erso n .
And she says of th e L in d ley s1 house, "There was n o th in g la ck in g . . .
fo r
which a modern house might conceiv ab ly fin d a u s e , though Serena owned t o
h e r s e lf a want of s a ti s f a c tio n in th e r e s u l t ; i t was a l l so obviously a
product o f th e shop r a th e r th a n th e requirem ent of liv in g , and a ffo rd e d
n o t th e s l i g h t e s t use f o r o c c u p a tio n ."3
By c o n tr a s t, l i f e a t Rosebank, th e
Mary A u stin , Santa Luoia (New York and London, 1906), p . 34.
2 I b id . , p . 37.
3 I b i d ., p .7 8 .
147
co u n try place o f Dr. C ald w ell, i s fre e o f th e b lu s te r in g and booming o f th e
town and i s consequently d ig n if ie d and humane.
D r. C aldw ell w ishes i t t o
be k ept t h a t way, and p lead s w ith h is so n -in -la w t o remain th e r e .
.
i t i s my b e l i e f t h a t h ere in th e W est, perhaps in a l l America, we do n o t
tak e enougji account o f th e power of our inanim ate surroundings t o ta k e on
th e s p i r i t u a l q u a lity o f th e l i f e th a t i s liv e d in them , and give i t o ff
a g ain lik e an e x h a la tio n , end n o t pains enough, when we have made such a
p la c e , t o preserv e i t fo r th o s e who came a f t e r from g e n eratio n t o g en eratio n
• . • .
'
But fo r a l l h e r sense of th e s o o ia l im m aturity and la c k o f "accul­
t u r a t i o n ” in an o rd in a ry w estern American tow n, Mrs. A u stin g ets oaught in
a g re a t c o n tra d ic tio n — t h a t o f im plying t h a t Evan L in d le y 's bu ccan eerin g ,
b o o stin g , plunging w estern ways were b e t t e r th a n h is w ife ’ s more c o n se rv a tiv e
ways.
In having Serena su rre n d er h e r p re ju d ic e s a g a in s t c e r ta in of h e r hus­
b an d 's h a b its and a t t i t u d e s , M rs. A ustin so lv ed a d e lic a te m arriage problem.
B ut, in h o ld in g Evan L in d le y 's in s tin c ti v e plunge in to th e c u rre n t o f th e
tim e as a kind o f autom atic human a d a p ta tio n t o th e rhythm o f th e la n d , a s
something r ig h t and in e v ita b le , sh a rp ly c o n tra s tin g w ith th e "com plicated
f u t i l i t y o f {Serena’s} moral co n v en tio n s," Mrs. A ustin robB an o th er s id e o f
her c r itic is m o f any cogency.
A ll th e im p lic a tio n s in Santa Luoia whioh
could be sa id t o a n tic ip a te th e works o f Lewis, Anderson, and D re is e r as
c r itic is m s of American "sm all-tow nness" a re v i t i a t e d by her f a l l i n g back
upon th e view t h a t th o se v e ry q u a litie s o f rawness were an i n t u i t i v e l y
r ig h t e f f o r t o f a d a p ta tio n on a la rg e s c a le .
In n e a r ly every a s p e c t o f h er
l a t e r s o c ia l c r itic is m , M rs. A u stin became e n tan g led in t h i s same n e t .
She
could c r i t i c i s e in American l i f e th e obtuseness t o c u ltu r e , th e ra p a c io u s­
4 I b i d . , p .2 7 2 .
148
n ess o f b u s in e s s , th e h o s t i l i t y t o a r t , th e w orship o f th e sueoess p a tte r n ,
a s vehem ently a s any r a d ic a l i n t e l l e c t u a l ; and th en she would tu r n suddenly
and see a l l t h i s s tu p id ity , o b tu sen ess, and arrogance as a g re a t ep ic surge
toward an American ad ju stm en t.
J u s t a s one i s prepared t o th in k o f Evan
Lindley as th e c h ie f t a r g e t of c r iti c is m in a 1906 Main S t r e e t , one i s asked
t o about faoe and ta k e him as a re p re s e n ta tiv e o f "th e undaunted male a t t i ­
tu d e which begot achievem ent on th e W est."
Lost Borders (1909) had in s is te d t h a t th e land would have i t s way,
and t h a t th e way of th e w estern land was one o f b o ld n e ss, a u d a c ity , freedom
from convention.
T rue, t h i s id ea had been a p p lie d m ainly t o th e problem of
m arriage and lo v e ; b u t th e p re s e n ta tio n o f such a sweeping view , t h a t in
th e West no old convention w i l l s e rv e , would lead a re a d e r to expeot le s s
o f co nservatism in th e tre a tm e n t of th e economic problem th an i s t o be found
in The Lovely Lady (1913).
There th e im p lic a tio n i s t h a t a r i c h man i s pos­
sessed o f same magic whioh s o c ie ty had b e t t e r n o t tam per w ith ; and P e te r a l ­
most debases h im se lf b efo re th e w ealthy and re s p e c ta b le D a sso n v ille .
Mrs.
A u s tin 's a t t i t u d e i s made more d i f f i c u l t to u n d erstan d by th e f a c t t h a t only
two y ears p re v io u s ly she had w ritte n a t r i b u t e t o H. G. Y fells' socialism ®
and one y ear b e fo re , had follow ed h is p a tte r n o f s o c ia l c r itic is m in A Woman
o f Genius (1912).
C h ris t in I t a l y (1912) says in one b re a th th a t th e prob­
lems o f la b o r, low wages, poor ho u sin g , h ig h in f a n t m o r ta lity , and malnu­
t r i t i o n a re so lu b le "Here and Now"; t h a t th e o n ly C h r is t- lik e th in g t o do
i s to solve them; t h a t th e I t a l i a n p e a s a n ts ' debasing them selves b efo re
th e image o f a B leeding C h ris t i s d is g u s tin g .
In th e n e x t b re a th , C h ris t
Mary A u stin , "An A p p reciatio n o f H. G. W ells, N o v e lis t," American
M agazine, LXXII (1911), 733-735.
149
In I t a l y becomes glow ingly m y s tic a l, and in th e manner o f i t s so u rce, Mrs.
Eddy, p u ts th e s p i r i t u a l s ig n ific a n c e o f C h ris t on a le v e l where th e prob­
lems o f "Here and Now" become as n o th in g .
The Man Jesus (1915) i s t o m be­
tween th e same two im pulses; b u t th e co n clu sio n i s t h a t C h ris t was a sm all­
town man, a s p i r i t u a l g en iu s, w ith no ooncern fo r tem poral problem s, no
tech n iq u e f o r so lv in g them , no r e v e la tio n throw ing any lig h t upon them.
A Woman of Genius (1912) had n o th in g t o say ab o u t eoanomic problem s,
which i s s u rp ris in g in view of i t s p e n e tra tin g o b serv atio n s upon oth er
a s p e c ts of th e s o c ia l p a tte r n o f T a y lo rv ille , Ohiana.
O liv ia Lattim ore
(th e h e ro in e ), h e r b ro th e r, and sane playm ates robbed "old man R oss’s*’
tu r n i p p a tch .
The p a re n ta l w rath was m ighty, and O liv ia (Mary H unter) r e ­
fu se d to be shamed and h u m ilia te d , sin c e th e shame and h u m ilia tio n demanded
by th e p a re n ts were t o h e r out o f a l l p ro p o rtio n t o th e t r i v i a l misdeed.
I t was as i f , an th e v ery f i r s t occasion o f my swimming t o th e
s u rfa c e of my lu s tro u s s e a s , I was ta k e n w ith a lin e a t th e end of
which I was t o be played in to shoals and sh allo w s, t o fo u l w ith my
flo u n d e rin g s some c le a r pools and s c a t t e r th e peace o f many sm aller
f r y — I mean th e o b lig a tio n o f re p u te , th e n e c e s s ity o f b ein g lo y a l
t o what I found in th e w orld because i t had been founded in s i n c e r it y
w ith p a in s . 6
A ll th e l i t t l e s t a r t s o f tem peram ent, th e seeking o f experience fo r exper­
ie n c e ’ s sake, th e a d o le so e n t’ s need fo r dram atizin g h e r s e lf brought her
in to c o n f lio t w ith T a y lo r v ille .
There i s a fin e re c o rd of "th e thousand
inharm onies th a t chafed a g a in s t th e budding in s t i n c t o f b e au ty "^ -- from
plum -colored h a ir ribbons t o w allp ap er t o f u r n itu r e to a f i r e scree n
Tommy thought a m arvel o f i n t e r i o r d e c o ra tio n .
g
Mary A u stin , A Woman o f Genius (Garden C ity , New York, 1912),
p p .2 8 -2 9 .
7 H > ld ., p .4 7 .
150
S t i l l o th er a s p e c ts of th e T a y lo rv ille s o o ia l p a tte r n a re s e t f o r th .
A d ra b , d re a ry d efeatism i s e v id e n t in th e a t t i t u d e tow ards d is e a s e , which
■was a tta c k e d by n e ig h b o rly a d v ic e , m edical m isin fo rm atio n , and r e s o r t t o
th e alm anac.
Woman’s w orld was monotonous and s p i r i t - k i l l i n g :
Does anybody remember what th e woman's world was lik e in sm all
towns before th e days o f woman's clu b s? There was a w orld of cook­
ing and making o v erj th e re was a world o f church-going and m ission­
a ry s o c ie tie s and m in is te r ia l c o o p e ra tio n , h a l f grudged and h a lf
assumed as a v ir tu e w hich, sin c e i t was th e only th in g t h a t lay
o u tsid e them selves, was n o t w ith o u t e x te n u a tio n . And th e re was
an o th er w orld which u n d e rla y a l l t h i s , coloured and occasioned i t ,
so c k lie d over w ith f u t i l i t y ; i t was a world a l l of th e c are and
expectancy o f c h ild re n overshadowed by th e re c u rre n t m onthly dread ,
c re p t about by w h isp ers, h e r e t i c a l b u t p e r s i s t e n t , o f methods o f
circum venting i t , of a s e c r e t p r a c tic e o f th in g s openly condemned.
I t was a w orld t h a t went h a l f th e tim e in f a in t- h e a r te d or u n w illin g
o r r e b e llio u s a n tic ip a ti o n , and h a l f on th e broken sp rin g s of what
a s th e s u b je c t o f th e e n d le s s , o b je o tio n a b le d is c u s s io n s , went by
th e name o f "female com plaint s . "8
R elig io n was re p re s s iv e .
For a Saviour a s I new Him a t t h i r t e e n and a h a l f , was a solemn
presence t h a t ran in your mind w ith th e b leak n ess o f p l a i n , w h ite­
washed w a lls and hard benohes end a g en eral hush, a vague s e n sa tio n
o f your c h e st being to o t i g h t f o r you, and a l i t t l e o f th e fe e lin g
you had when you had gone to c a l l a t th e Allinghams and had fo rg o tte n
t o wipe your f e e t ; and i t was m e n ife st i f you to o k t h a t inoubus
everywhere you went you w ould n 't have any fun.®
On th e whole th e re i s a g re a t d e al more a n a ly s is th a n propheoy in A Woman
of Genius.
However, th e fin d in g of so much t h a t was d i s t a s t e f u l in T aylor­
v i l l e was probably a p a r t i a l cause o f Mary A u stin ’ s looking so h o p e fu lly
elsew here f o r sig n s of an American " a c c u ltu ra tio n ."
No novel o f Mary A u s tin 's is more c o n s is te n tly and d e f i n i t e l y a
novel o f s o o ia l propheoy th a n The Ford (1917).
8 I b id . , pp. 218-219
9 I b i d . , p .5 8 .
The book i s s im ila r to
151
Frank N o r r is 's The Octopus in i t s g en eral f e e lin g f o r th e epic q u a lity of
th e W est, an im p lic it theme which f i t s in to th e s tru o tu re o f N o rris ’ n a tu r­
a l i s t i c novel h u t which c o n f lic ts w ith an o th er more im portant theme in Mrs.
A u s tin ’s novel o f purpose.
N orris w r ite s :
But th e wheat rem ained. Untouched, u n a s s a ila b le , u n d e file d , t h a t
mighty w o rld -fo rc e , t h a t n o u rish e r o f n a tio n s , wrapped in N irvanic
calm , in d if f e r e n t t o th e human swarm, g ig a n tic , r e s i s t l e s s , moved
onward in i t s appointed grooves. . . .
F alseness d ie s ; in j u s t i c e and op p ressio n in th e end o f every­
th in g fade and van ish away. Greed, c r u e lty , s e lf is h n e s s , and in ­
humanity a re s h o rt-liv e d ; th e in d iv id u a l s u f f e r s , b u t th e ra c e goes
on. A nnixter d ie s , but in a f a r d i s ta n t oorner o f th e w orld a thousand
sLiVes a r e saved. The la rg e r view always and through a l l shams, a l l
w iokednesses, d isco v ers th e T ruth t h a t w i l l , in th e end, p r e v a il, and
a l l th in g s , s u re ly , in e v ita b ly , r e s i s t l e s s l y work to g e th e r fo r good.*®
M rs. A ustin w r ite s :
Drouth and d is a s te r could pass away, and th e ren d in g , g u ttin g hands
of men, b u t th e e a r th would n o t pass away n o r th e f u lln e s s th e r e o f . 11
The book resem bles The Octopus a ls o in i t s main m a te r ia ls ; N o rris shows
th e c o n f lic t of farm ers w ith
a r a il r o a d , and M rs. A u stin d e a ls w ith th e
c o n f lic t of farm ers w ith a c o rp o ra tio n whioh s t e a l s t h e i r w a te r.
She could
have done w ithout t h a t borrow ing, however, s in c e h e r p lo t i s based la r g e ly
upon h e r p e rso n al experience o f th e f ig h t o f th e farm ers o f Owens T a lle y ,
C a lif o r n ia , a g a in s t th e C ity o f Los A ngeles. 12 The scene was a fa m ilia r one,
and th e m a te ria l was ready t o hand f o r a superb dram atic c o n f li c t — t h a t
o f th e s tru g g le between sm all em b attled lan d h o ld ers o f T ie rr a Longa and
prom oters from San F rancisco eager t o gobble up th e w a te r - r ig h ts .
The
a u th o r, however, foregoes th e sharp c o n f lio t and th e t r a g i c d e fe a t o f th e
^
Frank N o rris , The Ootopus (New York, 1904), 651-652.
11 Mary A u stin , The Ford (Boston and New York, 1917), p . 92.
^
See Appendix I I .
152
farm er b in h e re n t in th e Owens V a lley c a s e , and b lu rs th e e n tir e m a tte r in
o rd er t o develop a th e s i s — th e v ag u est t h e s i s , p erh ap s, in a l l h e r f i c t i o n .
The Ford might have been a novel o f alm ost a s g re a t s ig n ific a n c e as The
Octopus or The P i t , b u t i t tu r n s out obsoure, confused, and s c a tte re d in
e ffe c t•
The s to r y c e n te rs around Kenneth
B re n t; i t i s e s s e n tia l ly th e aocount
of h is education in how t o liv e w ith th e la n d .
This le sso n he le a r n s , how­
e v e r, only a f t e r he and o th er members o f h is fam ily have s u ffe re d d e fe a ts
in v a rio u s encounters w ith th e ”01d Man,” Timothy R ic k a rt, a w ealthy p ro­
m oter, s p e c u la to r, and lan d h o ld er.
Kenneth, however, i s determ ined t o be s u c c e s s fu l.
He s tu d ie s law
and f i n a l l y becomes a h ig h ly tr u s te d s e c r e ta r y t o th e Old Man.
But when
R ic k a rt begins buying optio n s in th e T ie rra Longa D i s t r i c t , Kenneth becomes
su sp ic io u s and somewhat f o r e s t a l l s him by buying claim s t o su rp lu s w ater
rig h ts .
When he le a rn s t h a t th e Old Man i s a c tu a lly behind th e scheme to
impound w aters to be conveyed t o San F ran cisco by means o f an aqueduct,
Kenneth re s ig n s a s th e Old Man's agent and s e c r e ta r y .
to o rg an ise a l l th e sm all h o ld e rs a g a in s t th e Old Man.
He th en s e ts out
They a re su sp ic io u s
of Kenneth, th e y hold back, th e y r e g r e t th e p assin g o f a boom in o p tio n s .
A ll t h e i r stubborn ignorance and t h e i r i n a b i l i t y t o o rg an ise a re w e ll
p o rtra y e d .
Octopus.
The s itu a tio n i s d e f i n i t e l y re m in isc e n t o f a s itu a tio n in The
The wheat farm ers organize a g a in s t th e r a ilr o a d , but when th e
c r i s i s comes th e re i s d is se n s io n and m is tr u s t o f th e o rg a n is e rs , and th e
o rg a n iz a tio n aooomplishes n o th in g .
IS
N eedless to say, N orris* h an d lin g
o f th e s itu a tio n i s d e f in ite ly s u p e rio r t o M rs. A u s tin 's in r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l
and in fo ro e .
13
Frank N o rris , The Octopus (New York, 1904), pp. 543-560.
153
Although Kenneth i s c e r t a i n he -w ill he b eaten by th e Old Man’s
s u p e rio r le g a l re s o u rc e s , he r e lis h e s th e f i g h t .
The p u b lic ity , however,
has d e fe a te d th e Old Man's designs} f o r , a lth o u g h R ic k a rt i s o s te n s ib ly
working in th e i n t e r e s t s of a w ater supply f o r San F ra n c isc o , h is r e a l
m otive i s t o tu r n th e w ater t o i r r i g a t i o n o f a f e r t i l e v a lle y n e ar th e
c i t y , which he and h is a s s o c ia te s have a lre a d y bought u p , in th e hope of
an enormous p r o f i t . 14
T ie rr a Longa,
The Old Man g ra d u a lly abandons h is scheme fo r
Kenneth i s happy a t l a s t , farm ing Palom itas (a ranoh f o r ­
m erly owned by Kenneth’ s f a th e r ) and developing c a n a ls and d ito h e s t o e s ­
t a b l i s h h is su rp lu s w a te rs c laim , w ith th e h e lp o f th e form erly su sp icio u s
T ie rra Longans,
There i s no hard f e e lin g between him end th e Old Man.
O ccasio n ally he sees th e Old Man in San F ra n c isc o , and R ic k a rt adm its t h a t
b u sin ess is n o t a l l , t h a t Kenneth has been w ise t o make th e land produce
in s te a d o f tr y in g to e x p lo it i t com m ercially.
The b a re s t synopsis re v e a ls th e weakness o f th e s to r y .
The c o n f lic t
i s solved by th e Old Man’s g iv in g up and f i n a l l y p u rrin g t o Kenneth about
th e s u p e r io r ity o f producing t o e x p lo itin g .
E verything i s made easy fo r
everybody in th e s to r y - - except same b enighted San F ran cisco r a d io a ls .
And
y e t th e a u th o r had a them e, which perhaps oould n o t have been emphasised
w ithout t h i a s p e c ia l m an ip u latio n o f th e p l o t .
a man does b e s t t h a t which he i s c u t ou t f o r .
The theme i s simply th a t
The Old Man played th e game
of f in a n c ia l promotion w ith a n a tu r a l genius f o r i t , and th e re fo re su ccess­
f u ll y .
He in tim a te ly understood what he worked w ith ~
la n d s, m in e ra ls, men
— and h is success was due t o a keener knowledge o f thousands o f d e t a i l s th a n
14
This was th e a c tu a l outcome o f th e Owens V a lle y w ater p r o je c t.
154
most men can e v er achieve.^®
a te d i
He -was unable t o see th e havoc he o fte n o re -
th e sm all fo rtu n e s -wrecked, th e homes fo re c lo s e d , th e farm ers robbed
of t h e i r occu p atio n .
The d e ath s o f two minor c h a ra c te rs in th e s to r y were
in d ir e c tly th e r e s u l t of h is unconscious ra p a c ity .
But he i s p o rtra y e d as
no more t o be reprehended th a n th e ig n o ra n t, stubborn T ie rra Longans, who
were crude b u nglers and who did n o t know or u n d erstan d th e fo rce s th e y had
t o contend w ith .
He and h is son Frank a re p o rtray e d as r u th l e s s , b u t a s
being capable of a lo y a l frie n d s h ip w ith th e B re n ts, even a f t e r th e B rents
have wrecked t h e i r soheme.
On th e whole, th e competence o f th e R ic k a rts
15 C f. M rs. A u s tin 's comment on an a c tu a l c h a ra c te r prom inent an
h er h o rizo n in C a lifo rn ia about 1889. Henry M ille r (bom K e ise l, in Brockenheim, Germany) was a well-known prom oter, ra n c h e r, lan d h o ld e r, who pos­
sessed "enough land t o be a b le t o d riv e h is b e e f on t h e i r own f e e t a l l th e
way from Lake T ulare t o San F ra n c isc o , and bed them, so i t was s a id , ev ery
n ig h t on h is own la n d ." — Mary A u stin , E a rth Horizon (Boston and Hew York,
1932), pp. 204-205. M ille r had "th e c a p a c ity to a r r iv e d ir e o tl y w ithout
n o tic e a b le fumbling a t th e s t r u c t u r a l fe a tu r e s of any s it u a t i o n , and t o
m aintain w ith in th e main s tru c tu re s an immense amount o f d e t a i l whioh was
in h e re n t in th e s itu a tio n i t s e l f . . . . But t o people lack in g in s tr u c tu r a l
c a p a c ity , M ille r 's h an d lin g o f la rg e e n te r p r is e s appeared tr i c k y , and t o a l l
th o se who by temperament a re unable t o pronounce th e word c a p ita lis m w ithout
a h i s s , h is a cu te a tte n tio n t o th e minor n e c e s s itie s o f success appeared mean
and gru d g in g ." — I b i d . , p . 205.
This Henry M ille r was probably in M rs. A u s tin 's mind when she w rote
th e poem "The P io n e e r." He may have been a ls o th e b a s is o f th e p o r t r a i t o f
R ic k art in The Ford, although many e x te rn a l d e t a i ls a re d i f f e r e n t. Henry
M ille r worked w ith c a t t l e , c a n a ls , and la n d ; R ic k art w ith more commercial­
iz e d com m odities, such a s o i l . In s h o r t, Henry M ille r belonged t o an
e a r l i e r s o c ia l s e t t i n g th a n th e f i c t i o n a l R ic k art do es. However, M ille r
liv e d on in to th e tim e when Mrs. A ustin was w ritin g The Ford; she had
c o n ta c ts w ith M ille r a t le a s t a s la te as 1915. — E a rth H orizon, p . 205.
There i s one g re a t p sy ch o lo g ical d iffe re n c e between Henry M ille r and
th e f i c t i o n a l c h a r a c te r . M ille r "ch erish ed and en rich ed [la n d j r a th e r th a n
d esp o iled i t . . • •" - - E a rth H orizon, p .2 0 5 . Mrs. A ustin w rite s o f R io k a rt:
"Lands, w a te rs, and m in e ra ls , he took them up and l a i d them down a g a in ,
w holly uninformed o f th e severances and read ju stm en ts made n e c e ssa ry by tempo­
r a r y p o sse ssio n . The most t h a t he knew o f m ortgages, overdue in s ta llm e n ts ,
fo r e c lo s u re s , were t h e i r le g a l lim ita tio n s ; he d id n o t know th a t men a re
warped by th e s e th in g s out o f a l l manhood and t h a t women d ied o f them ." —
The Ford, p . 176.
There i s some in c o n siste n c y , however, in Mrs. A u s tin 's
view of Henry M ille r. In r e l a t i n g how he made "h is s te a d f a s t way" a g a in s t
th e Spanish-speaking o r ig in a l owners o f lan d , she says c r y p tic a l ly : "A ll of
which is im portant i f th e re a d e r i s t o u n d erstan d how r a d ic a ls a re f i n a l l y
made on th e F a o ifio c o a s t." — E a rth H orizon, p.2 0 7 .
155
e l i c i t s much unconscious p ra is e from th e a u th o r.
Indeed, h e r han d lin g o f
them i s re m in isc e n t o f th e p o r t r a i t o f Evan L indley in Santa L u cia; th e y ,
to o , re p re se n t th e "indom itable male a t t i t u d e ■which begot achievement an
th e W est."
As shown a b o v e ,1® a c e r ta in Henry M ille r whom Mrs. A u stin had known
from 1889 may have s a t fo r h e r p o r t r a i t of R ic k a rt, although i t i s n o t n eces­
sa ry t o fin d such an o r ig i n a l.
A l i t e r a r y source o f R ick art e x is te d a t hand
in N o rris ’ p o r t r a i t o f Magnus D errick and o th e r ran ch ers o f h is ty p e .
A ustin w rote o f R ic k a rts
Mrs.
"Nothing developed f a r in th e Old Man’s hands;
i t p a id t o l l m erely to h is f a o u lty o f fo re s e e in g i t s development in a given
d i r e c t i o n . T h e type had a lre a d y been d e sc rib e d as fo llo w s:
"To get a l l
th e r e was out of th e la n d , t o squeeze i t d ry , seemed t h e i r p o lic y .
When,
a t l a s t , th e la n d , worn o u t, would re fu se t o y ie ld , th e y would in v e s t t h e i r
money in something e ls e ; by th e n , th e y would a l l have made f o r tu n e s .
d id n o t c a re .
’A fte r u s , th e d e lu g e .’ "18
They
This i s th e ty p e o f man whom Mrs.
A u stin fla y s a t one moment and s e c r e tly and d eep ly adm ires a t th e n e x t.
Kenneth’s and h is f a t h e r 's a b i l i t i e s a re fo r th e lan d .
K enneth's
s i s t e r Anne's a b i l i t y l i e s in b u s in e s s , b u t she p ro sp ers w ith o u t th e unw it­
t i n g d e s tru c tio n which so o fte n accompanies success in b u s in e s s .
The way
in which c h a ra c te rs a re th u s disposed o f on th e b a s is of t h e i r t r u e t a l e n t s
emphasizes th e more g e n eral theme:
s o c ia l re g e n e ra tio n must w a it upon th e
competence o f in d iv id u a ls t o u n d erstan d and m aster t h e i r own l i v e s .
i s no ready or easy s o lu tio n .
There
S k ills must be developed, t a l e n t s n o u rish e d ,
unconscious r a c i a l genius allow ed t o grow; and f i n a l l y th e " f e e l o f th e p u r16
17
18
Note 15, t h i s c h a p te r.
A u stin , The Ford, p . 176.
N o rris , op. o i t . , pp. 298-299.
156
p o s e fu l e a r th ” w i l l g e t through t o th e race and th e ra c e w i l l achieve i t s
a d a p ta tio n .
This l a t t e r id e a now comes through only t o th e most h ig h ly
aware people, o f whom Kenneth B rent is one.
In boyhood Kenneth had f e l t th e ’’clamor o f th e Unseen" a t th e gates
o f h is co n scio u sn ess.
And a t th e c r i s i s o f h is c a r e e r , h is f e e lin g fo r t h i s
vague p u ll o f i n s t i n c t tow ards h is p ro p er d e stin y i s s t i l l a l i v e .
He d id n o t know what he should do about i t ; what he should say to
R ic k a rt, or how he should meet th e c r i s i s o f a f f a i r s a t T ie rra Longa;
but he knew where he should b e , where he had always been, on th e sid e
of th e u nseen, th e imm easurable. And knowing i t , he was ta k en w ith
th e aching need o f com pletion. . . . He stood up and s tre tc h e d out h is
arms to i t in th e d a rk n e ss, and from a f a r o f f , beyond th e reach of
m a te ria l sen se, something answ ered.
What Kenneth le a rn s p r a o tic a l ly , i s t h a t th e land i s what m a tte rs — to
n o u ris h i t and make i t produce, and t o be humble.*®
I t was out of t h i s la rg e r m y s tic a l theme t h a t Mrs. A u s tin 's a n t i ­
r a d ic a l or a n ti-u to p ia n b ia s grew.
The f ig h t o f th e T ie rra Longans a g a in s t
th e Old Man ad m itted o f no r a d ic a l s o lu tio n .
The Old Man had to o stro n g a
h old on t h e i r a d m iratio n ; th e y wanted to o much o f what he w anted fl*om th e
la n d , a quick p r o f i t .
They fe a re d t h a t , by o rg a n iz in g a g a in s t him, th e y
might deprive them selves o f th e o p p o rtu n ity o f s e ll i n g out t o him a t a
p ro fit.
They were lo v ers of th e la n d , in a way, b u t t h e i r knowledge of
how t o keep t h e i r land was weak.
They a re saved only by th e le a d e rsh ip
of Kenneth B re n t, and, s i g n if ic a n t ly , th e y alm ost re fu s e t h a t le a d e rs h ip .
B rent leads no flam ing crusade of oppressed a g a in s t o p p resso r; he follow s
^ A u stin , The Ford, pp. 373-374.
20
"P roduction fo r u s e , and n o t f o r p r o f i t " is what Kenneth sees t o
be th e end o f h is l i f e . But Mary A u stin , i t a p p e a rs, could n o t a llo w so
sim ple a statem ent t o stan d in h e r w ork. I t is a l l em broidered round w ith
th e clouds o f h e r m ysticism .
157
a b lin d i n s t i n c t , a deep love o f th e land — w ith , o f c o u rse, a g re a t
p r a c tic a l in g e n u ity le a rn e d , a g a in s ig n i f ic a n tly , from th e enemy, th e
Old Man h im s e lf.
In s h o r t, Mrs. A u stin d riv e s home th e p o in t th a t only
an e a rth y , slow ly developed power o f m eeting s itu a tio n s a s th e y a r is e
solves any problem and th a t to p s y -tu rv y ra d ic a lism would only p e rp e tu a te
bungling and lack o f in te llig e n c e in p u b lic or s o c ia l a f f a i r s .
I t i s in
pursuance of t h i s theme t h a t Mrs. A ustin d is p la y s so much animus a g a in s t
v a rio u s r a d ic a ls and a g ita to r s whom Kenneth meets in San F ra n c isc o , one
p o r t r a i t undoubtedly being drawn from Big B il l Haywood.
The m ajor f a u l t in th e s tr u c tu r e o f th e book, th e n , i s t h a t th e
e x c e lle n t r e g i o n a l i s t 's v is io n of a s o c ie ty soo m in g a th i n , n o is y , f u t i l e
commercialism and fin d in g i t s ro o ts in r e a l i t i e s c lo se t o e a r th i s sp o ile d
by th e unconscious ad m iratio n o f th e a u th o r fo r th e R ic k a rts .
K enneth's
p a ssio n fo r th e land and th e a u th o r 's ad m iratio n of th e sh eer competence
o f old R ic k a rt, th e epic q u a lity of h is ru th le s s n e s s , d e stro y u n ity in
p o in t of view in th e book.
John Macy w rote j
"The g re a t s o c ia l and com­
m e rc ia l p lo t behind th e se c h ild re n i s s tro n g ly handled and conveys more
th a n any o th e r American f i c t i o n sin ce Frank N o rris o f what Mrs. A ustin
c a l l s th e 'e p ic q u a lity o f th e w e s t.*"21
tr o u b le .
T hat, one might say , i s j u s t th e
The "epic q u a lity o f th e West" and K enneth's f in e r v is io n get in
each o th e r 's way.
Take, f o r in s ta n c e , a fin e passage lik e th e follow ing:
"For he [ Kenneth B ren t] lik e d th e s e men [th e sm all la n d -h o ld e rs
o f T ie rra Longa] and understood them : th e i n s t i n c t whioh made them
look t o th e land fo r t h e i r liv in g . . . th e i n s t i n c t t h a t p u lle d
[Steven B re n t] back • • • to P alo m itas. Facing th e c e r t a in t y of t h e i r
d e fe a t by th e v ery elem ents whioh made them good farm ers, produoers
^
John Maoy, "Honest American F ic tio n ," D ia l, LXIII (1917), 112
158
r a th e r than p la y e rs of th e game, a l l K enneth's young contempt fo r
unsuccess went from him as th e tid e from a ro o k . The d iffe re n c e
between what th e y fanoied la y behind Elwood's R ick art* s henohman
schemes and what h is experience ta u g h t him was Elwood's l i k e l i e s t
m otive, gave t o in e v ita b le d e fe a t th e q u a lity o f a n c ie n t tra g e d y ;
th e tra g e d y o f men d e fe a te d , n o t s q u a lid ly by o th e r men, b u t by
fo rc e s w ith in them selves which had th e form and d ig n ity o f gods.
That i n s t i n c t f o r th e land might have been th e "ep ic q u a lity of th e West"
which John Macy m entions.
But t o Mary A ustin th e Old Man's re s o u rc e fu l­
n ess and ru th le s s n e s s were a ls o e p io .
She should have backed one o r th e
o th e r; or a t le a s t she should have shown t h a t in th e c la s h of th e two
somebody would be h u r t.
to o .
Kenneth i s allow ed t o have h is cake and e a t i t
A c tu a lly , Kenneth i s defeated — d e fe ate d by th e T ie rra Longans'
sneaking t r i b a l lo y a lty t o R iokart and th e R ic k a rt v a lu e s .
But Mrs.
A u stin l e t s Kenneth go on as i f he had won, fo llo w in g th e m y s tic a l v is io n .
Worst of a l l , a t one moment in h er s to r y th e T ie rr a Longans a r e p a ssio n a te
c h ild re n o f th e s o i l ; a t th e n e x t, th e y a re a l l budding sp e c u la to rs lik e
R ic k a rt.'
The s u b s titu tio n o f K enneth's m y stic al and p ro p h etic s o c ia l v is io n
f o r a t r u l y dram atic c o n f lic t in th e p l o t, and th e in tr u s io n o f m o ralizin g
essays and undram atized e x p o sitio n - - th e se m a tte rs make The Ford more a
t r a o t th an a n o v e l.
K enneth's v is io n , n e v e r th e le s s , to r n from i t s c o n te x t,
i s a good v is io n ; h is devotion t o th e s o i l and t o th e d e lib e ra te and slow
b u ild in g up o f th e c a p a c itie s n e c e ssa ry t o make th e land f l o u r i s h , i s th e
keynote o f Mary A u s tin 's f in e s t co n cep t, h e r id ea of a re g io n a l eoonomy in
which "in v e n tio n and fo r e s ig h t among th e people" would have a chance t o sto p
th e e v e r-in c re a s in g ro o tle s s n e s s o f l i f e which th e la rg e -s o a le fin a n c e -c a p ­
i t a l i s t o rd e r seems t o encourage.
Kenneth’ s v is io n became Mary A u stin ’s
22 A u s tin , The F ord, p p . 2 8 9 -2 9 0 .
159
oreed when she fought fo r A rizona a g a in s t Southern C a lifo rn ia i n th e Boulder
Dam co n tro v e rsy of 1927*
There i s e x c e lle n t s o o ia l c r it ic i s m in No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t .
Although
M rs. A u s tin 's major th e s i s demands t h a t Adam F re a r, th e re fo rm er, and r a d i­
c a ls in general be p ro tray ed as re p re h e n s ib le in t h e i r p e rso n al m o ra lity ,
she probes every id ea fo r what i t may h o ld o f promise f o r th e American
f u tu r e .
N eith S c h u y le r's searoh fo r th e dem ocratic id e a l in Amerioa leads
h e r s tr a ig h t t o a s s o c ia tio n w ith lab o r o rg a n iz e rs, s t r i k e le a d e rs , and s u f­
fra g is ts .
One e x c e lle n t scen e, where N eith ta k e s oare o f th e p reg n an t S ad ie,
whose lo v ey ,H ip p o ly te, has been b e ate n t o d eath by th e p o lic e f o r d i s t r i b u t ­
in g a n ti- c a n s o r ip tio n pam phlets, re v e a ls th e au th o r in com plete sympathy
w ith th o se i n t e l l e c t u a l s who were
American r i g h t s .
outraged by such v io la tio n s o f t r a d i t i o n a l
As a r e s u l t o f th e e x p erien ce, N eith i s pushed i r r e t r i e v ­
ab ly in to th e r a d ic a l p o in t o f view .
To be s u re , N eith re se rv e s a c e r ta in
detached a t t i t u d e tow ards a l l th e sym pathizers a t H ip p o ly te 's f u n e r a l, and
th e a u th o r ex p lain s away t h e i r fe rv o r by a t t r i b u t i n g i t t o t h e i r Jew ish
love o f p e rse c u tio n — " th e ir g re a t common in h e rita n c e , more common th a n
opinion or t h e i r f a i t h . "23 a Cooper Union audience i s charged w ith n o t
loving eoonomic j u s t i c e , but w ith b ein g sim ply enamored o f i t .
i t a s moths love a lamp.
t io e on th e m se lv e s.1"
24
"'T h ey love
They love th e e f f e c t o f id e a ls o f freedom and ju s And, i t must be a d m itte d , Mrs. A u stin b e tra y s occa­
s io n a lly th e a t t i t u d e of a se lf-c o n so io u s Daughter o f th e American Revolu­
t i o n out slumming among th e dow ntrodden.2£* B ut, on th e w hole, th e a u th o r 's
Mary A u stin , No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t (Boston and New York, 1920), p* 233.
24 I b id . , p . 350.
25
" . . . th e t h i r d g u e st . . . was in tro d u ced t o Miss Schuyler a s th e
e d ito r o f a r a d ic a l w eekly whioh m aintained i t s plaoe in th e p ro c e ssio n o f th e
hour by a c e r ta in sm all-boy f a c i l i t y f o r making fa c es a t th e policem an." —
I b i d . , p . 12.
" I t s tru c k N eith t h a t th e r a d ic a ls among h e r g u ests were r a th e r
cam ouflaging, under economic and p o l i t i c a l p re te n s e s , a p u re ly American love
o f th in g s d o in g ." — I b i d . , p . 111.
160
a t titu d e i s t h a t , th e economic m aladjustm ent b ein g what i t was, ra d ic a lis m
was r i g h t and in e v ita b le .
R egardless o f th e a n t i - r a d i c a l t h e s i s , th e s to ry
shows Rose M atlock a t th e end vowing t o go "over th e re " (R u ssia, a p p a re n tly ),
and N eith Schuyler disavows none o f h er r e o e n tly assumed eoonomio ra d ic a lism .
No. 26 Jayne S tr e e t i s f i l l e d w ith vague prophecy; i t shows th e e ag e r,
although sometimes confused, search o f Mary A u stin f o r th o se d eep -ly in g
tre n d s in American l i f e whioh h e ld promise of a complete a d a p ta tio n of l i f e
and c u ltu re t o th e American scene.
The search o f N eith f o r th e se lin e s of
growth ends in some co n fu sio n , bu t i t begins e a g e rly and co n tin u es w ith
muoh p e n e tr a tio n .
"Prem onitions o f form and o rd e r were making t h e i r m y
toward h er a o ro ss th e s o c ia l oonfusions w hich, ever sin c e th e f i r s t week in
A ugust, 1914, had wrapped h e r lik e a cloud."**®
The search was n a tu r a l t o
h e r , fo r "she had been nourished in an id e a liz a tio n o f America as something
lo v e ly and young, w ith th e c r u d itie s o f youth, b u t of irre p ro a c h a b le prom­
is e ." ^
Her honesty demands, however, th a t she fhoe r e a l i t i e s .
" . . .
i t was t o an America s tra n g e r th an Europe t h a t she had come back."**®
The search is going t o re q u ire seme a g o n iz in g .
The America o f h er
own and h e r f a t h e r 's im agining seems h a rd ly t o e x i s t ; f o r a lo o fn e ss from
th e w ar, America i s s u b s titu tin g a l l s o rts o f " l i t t l e soabby p riv a te
issues."**®
There i s no coordinated u n d erstan d in g of s o c ia l is s u e s , j u s t
a s th e re seems t o be no u n ify in g p rin o ip le in democracy i t s e l f .
26
No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t , pp. 3 -4 .
27 Ibid** p . 17.
28
I b id .
2Q
I b id ., p. 4 3 .
161
The e d ito r of The P r o l e t a r i a t , -who looked t o be as f a r derived
and American a s any Van Droom-Schuyler, was in c lin e d t o accep t th e
-war a s in s u rin g th e dow nfall o f C a p ita lism , and Bruce Havens wel­
comed i t a s a method o f reduoing Labor t o amenable terms* I f th e re
was any common ground among them, i t was th e concession t h a t th e re
was something s e r io u s ly wrong w ith America t h a t th e re was no e ffe c tiv e
way o f r ig h tin g exoepb by tu rn in g th e w orld in to a s o r t o f Donnybrook
^
P a i r , which only came t o an end when everybody had h is head w e ll broken*
There i s no to le ra n c e o f c r itic is m .
Madelon Sherrod ex p lain s t o N eith
why Adam F rear so o fte n has h is speeches in te r d ic t e d .
" • • • Adam i s
always tr y in g t o g et people t o ap p ly t h e i r own e th ic s t o th e o th e r man's
s i t u a t i o n , and th e y th in k him s a r c a s t ic .
I f t h e r e 's one th in g th e American
people c a n 't s ta n d , i t ' s sarcasm .
N eith le a rn s from Adam F rear* s speech t o s t r i k e r s in a t e x t i l e p la n t
in Marey, New J e rs e y (a scene undoubtedly sketohed from one of th e P aterson
t e x t i l e s tr ik e s ) t h a t "'you must remember th a t a l l th e Democracy you a re
ev er going t o have, i s th e amount you can d e liv e r . . .
a t a l l i s hard t o g e t, beoause th e re a re no le a d e rs .
. ' ”32 Any democraoy
"'We have le a d e rs in
fin a n c e , we have le a d e rs in organized p o l i t i c s , b u t when i t comes t o opinion I suppose th e re i s no co u n try in th e w orld t h a t has a s l i t t l e use fo r le a d e rs
in o p in io n !'"3®
I t i s beoause of th e la c k o f a p iv o t in American l i f e th a t
N eith f i n a l l y a c c e p ts alm ost jo y o u sly th e e n try o f America in to th e w ar,
beoause a t l a s t she th in k s she can f e e l th e whole people moving to g e th e r
tow ard som ething.
" . . .
she
caught on ev ery sid e th e h eightened fr ie n d ­
l in e s s , th e r is in g sense o f r a o e .”^
30
31
32
33
34
She s t i l l f e l t t h a t th e re was in
I b id .
I b i d ., p . 27.
I b i d ., p . 84.
I b i d ., p . 97.
I b i d ., pp. 129'
n o t new t o Mrs. A u stin . She had d iscu ssed th e " s p ir itu a liz in g " e f f e c ts of
th e C iv il lifer on h e r male r e l a t i v e s in A Woman o f G enius. The id ea probably
came from W illiam James, o r , more r e c e n tly , from H. G. W ells.
162
America a " d o ltis h v a c u ity o f purpose, " 35 an awkwardness in th e attem p t
o f th e n a tio n a l consciousness to c r y s t a l l i z e ; n e v e rth e le s s th e deep tre n d
tow ard something was present*
That form less sense o f th in g s due t o make them selves p la in
in some manner n o t y e t d is c lo s e d , th in g s of tremendous and un­
s p e c ifie d s p i r i t u a l v a lu e , m s th e s t a t e o f mind in which th e
g r e a te r p a rt o f America made i t s e n try in to th e w ar. 36
S t i l l nourished in th e hope t h a t th e re i s a purpose, alth o u g h un­
fo rm u lated , N eith f a l l s more and more in to lin e w ith some S o c ia lis t frie n d s
who "supposed t h a t th e p re ssu re o f war could be tu rn e d to th e c o rre c tio n of
many o f th o se awkward co m p lex ities o f modern liv in g which everybody adm its
• • • ."37
She g lo a ts when th e a d m in is tra tio n has t o make concessions t o
th e w age-earning c la s s , see in g th e su rre n d e r a s p ro o f, brought home even
t o th e "B usiness M ind," t h a t "the a d m in is tra tio n o f s o c ia l fo rc e s m s a
s te p beyond t h a t boasted f a c u lty f o r th e a d m in is tra tio n of a f f a i r s which
had been th e Amerioan trad e-m ark . "38
r u f f le d some w aters
She i s su re t h a t th e m r winds have
t h a t w i l l n o t be s t i l l e d a g a in .
Anda s h e r experience
o f r a d ic a l te n a c ity and c o n se rv a tiv e obtuseness in c re a s e s ,
she ag rees w ith
Adam F re a r t h a t " i f we onoe got a r e a l v i t a l impulse toward s o o ia l re g e n era ­
t i o n • • • we*d go through . . .
g a lla n t ly . "39
Even when she has d isco v ered
t h a t Adam F rea r la c k s , acco rd in g t o h er view , th e n eo essary p e rso n al in te g ­
r i t y t o lead in s o c ia l re g e n e ra tio n , she s t i l l f e e l s t h a t democracy i s a
35
A u stin , No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t , p . 159.
36 I b i d . , p .
165.
37 i b i d . , p .
201.
38
P*
2 4 3 *
39 I b i d . , p .
325.
163
r e a l th in g , a tr u e visio n *
I t was something as in tim a te as love or anger and more im perative
th a n b o th , wing and wing o f your b e in g . I t was something t h a t com­
m itte d you t o th e adventure of th e whole so t h a t th e l i t t l e s ic k ­
n e sse s o f your s p i r i t , th e fe a rs and p a in s and re p u ls io n s , were no
more th a n a s ta i n on i t s s u rfa c e . I t c a r rie d you p a st them w ith a
g re a t ro a r . . . .
Of c o u rse, N e ith ’s search lead s e v e n tu a lly t o t h a t co n clu sio n whioh
has a lre a d y been s ta te d a s th e theme o f No. 2£ Jayne S t r e e t :
t h a t tru e
democracy means a c tu a lly liv in g d e m o c ra tic a lly , and t h a t th e p la ce t o s t a r t
i s in in t e g r i t y in th e man-waaan r e l a t i o n .
But in th e course o f a r r iv in g
a t t h a t co n clu sio n , Mary A ustin showed how a l e r t she was t o th e imminence
o f ohange, how eager she was t o f e e l h e r way alo n g th e lin e s o f new growth,
and w ith what v a s t expeotancy she looked tow ards th e Amerioan f u tu r e .
A
r a th e r thorough p ra g m a tis t, u n a fra id of change, enamored o f W ells’ s o c ia l
prophecy, Fabian s o o ia lism , and M exico's re v o lu tio n , convinced t h a t th e
"bu sin ess mind" was n o t th e l a s t word in wisdom and t h a t American l i f e was
f u l l o f a deep u n e a sin e ss, Mary A u stin w as, on th e w hole, a f in e i n t e l l e c ­
t u a l in flu e n c e .
or wavered.
But as th e ’tw e n tie s p ro g resse d , she e ith e r c a p itu la te d
She could only " f e e l," n o t th in k .
II
Mary A u stin , by 1920, was com pletely pledged t o th e r o le of p ro p h e te ss.
The n e x t te n y ears of h e r l i f e were given t o a sea rc h f o r th e lin e s which th e
American economic p a tte rn and c u ltu r a l p a tte r n were to ta k e .
In t h i s searoh
she a rriv e d a t a concept o f a d e c e n tra liz e d and re g io n a l economy, an id ea
in s p ire d la r g e ly by th e t r a d i t i o n o f J e ffe rs o n ia n demooracy, by h e r i n t e r e s t
in th e f o lk - lik e so o ia lism which she th o u g h t was developing in Mexico, and
40 I b i d . , p p . 333-334
164
by th e Boulder Dam co n tro v e rsy .
But she d id n o t hold s t r i c t l y t o h e r
v is io n , m ainly because she never s e t t l e d in h e r own mind w hether such
men a s H erbert Hoover and Henry Ford, and such f i c t i o n a l c re a tio n s o f
h e r own a s R ic k a rt and D assonville were s o c ia l v i l l a i n s or s o c ia l bene­
f a c to r s .
At one moment she i s in accord w ith r a d ic a l i n t e l l e c t u a l s , ex­
c o r ia tin g "the b u sin ess m ind," "b u sin ess p r in c ip le s ," th e w orship o f b ig ­
n e s s , th e p r o li f e r a ti o n of m echanical c o n tr iv a n c e s ,'th e g e n e ra l shabbi­
n ess o f c u l t u r a l e x p re ssio n .
At th e n ex t moment, she is r a ti o n a liz in g
th e d o c trin e of su cc e ss, e x c o ria tin g r a d ic a ls , upholding men w ith "Mastery
over T hin g s," and r a tio n a liz in g th e whole predom inating c u ltu r e of America
in th e ’tw e n tie s .
The in te r p r e te r i s bew ildered by th e b a c k -tra c k in g s , th e in c o n s is te n ­
c i e s , th e fre q u e n t tu r n in g s .
The only im pression he can b rin g away i s t h a t
he has been in th e company o f a p ro v o c a tiv e , a l e r t , even profound mind ~
but an o fte n m isguided and e r r a t i o one.
For Mary A ustin makes a n a lo g ie s
too e a s i l y and i s to o su sc e p tib le t o th e fad o f th e moment.
Every new
movement o f thought reminds h e r to o r e a d ily and to o e a s ily o f something she
d iscovered years ago among th e In d ia n s .
p e n s ity ru n s away w ith h e r.
Her m y stic al and i n t u i t i v e pro­
She v e e rs from complacency about th e dominant
" p r o g r e s s iv is t" American way to th e b i t t e r e s t fe e lin g a g a in s t i t .
The key t o h e r confusion i s in "The Need f o r a New S o c ia l Concept.
Some such work as James Harvey Robinson’s Mind in th e Making (1921) has
made a deep im pression upon h e r.
She i s aware o f th e d iscrep an cy between
a tt i t u d e s concerning meohanios o r scien ce and a t titu d e s concerning s o c ia l
41
Mary A u stin , "The Need f o r a New S o o ia l C oncept," New R epublic,
XXXI (1922), 298-302.
165
q u estions*
The re a so n she a ss ig n s i s th a t th e lo n g er a process has been in
s o c ia l co n scio u sn ess, th e deep er in g ra in e d a re th e a t t i t u d e s concerning i t
and th e more d i f f i c u l t i t i s t o accep t ohanges in prooesses or a t t i t u d e s ;
'whereas, in th e m a tte r of re c e n t tech n iq u es or p ro c e sse s, th e re bein g no
subconscious, deeply in g ra in e d a tt itu d e s or h a b its concerning i t , change
can be wrought w ith com parative ease and s w iftn e s s .
"C learly th e r e must
be a re ta rd in g f a c to r in th e v e ry c o n s ti tu tio n of mind i t s e l f , which re n ­
ders i t in d u ra te t o new p re s e n ta tio n s of o ld concern, sin ce i t i s shown
t o be a c u te ly re o e p tiv e t o concerns tow ards which i t i s com paratively
v i r g i n * "^2
This i s th e p o in t where she p a r ts company w ith th e " r a d ic a l
in t e l l e c t u a l s " o f th e tim e who were w re s tlin g -with th e problem o f b rin g ­
in g genuine to le ra n c e and enlightenm ent t o b e a r upon s o c ia l a t t i t u d e s .
She holds th e problem in s o lu b le alo n g th e lin e s mapped out by th e i n t e l l e c ­
tu a ls .
"The source o f our s o c ia l a r r e s t , th e u n e asin e ss o f th e common
p e o p le, and th e d e s p a ir of th e i n t e l l e c t u a l s , l i e s somewhere in th e n a tu re
o f th e d iffe re n c e between our r a te s o f o b je c tiv e and s u b je c tiv e change."43
The problem of our liv in g to g e th e r in groups i s one o f th e o ld e s t concerns,
she c o n tin u e s.
We can n e v er p re sen t a " v irg in " a t t i t u d e tow ards i t a g a in .
"The p a tte rn -fo rm in g h a b it o f th e mind" i s th e more o b s tin a te a s any a f f a i r
i s w idely d is tr ib u te d in group-consciousness."44
^ h is observable f a c t i s
p ro o f enough t h a t mere r a tio c in a tio n and ap p eals t o reason w ill n o t b reak
th e lo n g -e s ta b lis h e d s o c ia l p a tte r n s .
42
43
I b id . , p . 299.
I b
i d
*
44 I b id .
R e v o lu tio n is ts , p a t r i o t s , s a i n t s ,
166
and advocates o f in te lle c t u a liz e d s o o ia l system s have a l l f a i l e d .
Thus f a r , i t i s provocative a n a ly s is .
The re a d e r goes on e x p e c ta n tly .
The new s o c ia l co n cep t, she say s, l i e s in "th e source of a l l s o o ia l p a tte r n ,
our r a c i a l subconsciousness"^® -- a statem en t -which i s ao cep ted , beoause th e
■whole th e s i s so f a r has r e s te d upon th e id e a t h a t th e " r a c ia l subconscious­
n e ss" co n tain s elem ents t h a t r e s i s t a p p ea ls t o ohange or en lig h ten m en t.
The re a d e r ex p ects t h a t out of t h i s w i l l come some suggested s o lu tio n .
But
th e e ssa y only proceeds t o hammer home th e id e a t h a t a new s o c ia l concept
i s needed, and th e n e a re s t h e r p re s e n ta tio n ev er comes t o a p r a c tic a l or
c o n crete su ggestion i s t h a t some stu d y ought t o be made o f th e fundam entals
of human n a tu re .
These fundam entals, i t tu rn s o u t, a re th e r e la tio n s of
human beings t o one an o th er and "to th e A lln e s s ," th e e f f e c t o f mind upon
m a tte r and o f mind upon i t s e l f , and th e d isco v ery o f "th e law o f c o n tin u ity
o f p e rso n a lity ."^ ®
And because li r s . A u stin f e e ls th e se m a tte rs t o be impor­
t a n t , she tu rn s upon i n t e l l e c t u a l s ; th e y h a v e, she sa y s , been on th e wrong
tr a c k f o r two thousand years w hile th e a p p a re n tly d o l t i s h and ig n o ra n t masses
have stu ck t o th e proper concerns:
m a tte r . . .
t h e i r " f a i t h in th e in flu e n c e of mind on
t h e i r b e l i e f in th e e ffic a c y o f th e r i g h t l y spoken w o rd ."^7 She
b e l i t t l e s th e a g i t a t o r , th e re fo rm er, th e r a d i c a l , th e i n t e l l e c t u a l —
p r a c tic a lly everyone who was occupied in tr y in g t o re -sh ap e American l i f e
in term s o f th e c u rre n t r e a l i t i e s , because th e y a re n o t preoccupied w ith
what she i s absorbed in , p ra y e r, m ysticism , s o u l’ s co n tin u an ce, and te le p a th y .
AC
I b i d ., p . 300.
46 Ib id * , P* 301«
47 I b i d . , p . 302.
167
Many o f Mrs. A u s tin 's p u re ly p riv a te phobias and i n t e r e s t s e n te re d
in to t h i s e ssa y . 48
In 1922 she was becoming in te r e s te d in p sy ch o an aly sis,
m ainly beoause some o f C arl Jung’ s th e o r ie s promised t o confirm h e r f a i t h
in s o u l's continuance and in m y stic al and i n t u i t i o n a l p ro cesses o f th o u g h t.
A lso, she was undergoing a re v u lsio n from New York, Jews, p u b lis h e rs , in ­
t e l l e c t u a l s , end r a d ic a ls .
A d e ep -ly in g d i s t r u s t of th e r a d ic a l and i n t e l ­
le c tu a l m in o rity had pervaded a l l h er work.
As p ro p h e te ss, she had t o be­
lie v e th a t th e tr u e c u rre n ts of s o c ia l change were t o be observed in th e
m asses.
She wanted t o belong to th e whole o f s o c ie ty , t o be th e m atern al
guide p o in tin g out th e tr u e s o c ia l ends.
Her d i s t r u s t o f r a d ic a ls and
i n t e l l e c t u a l s and h er w ish to fin d th e dominant impulse o f th e moment f u l l
of promise i s rev ealed in se v e ra l o th e r e ssa y s.
A lthough she p ro fesse d t o h a te th e "B itch-G oddess," b ig n e ss, and
"economic and b u sin ess p r i n c i p l e s ,"49
o c c a s io n a lly th e sh eer power o f
su c c e ssfu l men and th e dominant ideas®® made h e r look t o see i f th e re were
48
There a re h in ts in E arth H orizon, pp. 345-346, t h a t H erbert C ro ly ,
e d ito r of th e New R epublio, accepted a r t i c l e s from Mrs. A u stin only a f t e r
adm iring some c ry s ta l-g a z in g a c ts whioh Mrs. A u stin pu t on f o r him a t Mabel
Dudge’s house in C roton. At any r a t e , one cannot b e lie v e t h a t th e e d ito r s
of th e New Republio p rin te d "The Need f o r a New S o o ia l Concept" w ith any
co n v ictio n o f i t s relev an ce t o American problem s.
49 These p r in c ip le s , she says in "Hunt o f A riz o n a ,"
(1928), 572-573, a re "a s e t of dogmatic b ehaviors about a s
s o c ia l p ro g ress a s th e ru le s o f mah jo n g , £and3 people who
w ith such 'p r i n c i p l e s ' fo r co u n ters appear about as u s e f u l
though th e y were a c tu a lly engaged in th e Chinese game."
N ation, CXX7II
re le v a n t to
'p la y p o l i t i c s '
t o s o c ie ty a s
CA
Her d e s ir e to "belong" was a t th e bottom o f h e r p e rio d ic c a p itu ­
la tio n t o th e id e a s of "su c c e ssfu l" men and t o th e n o tio n t h a t th e masses
or th e p u b lic a t la rg e were in seme obscure way moving t o goals whioh th e
r e c a l c i t r a n t r a d ic a ls could n o t s e e , a s th e p re se n t a u th o r sought t o p o in t
out in "Mary A u stin : Woman A lone," V irg in ia Q u a rte rly Review, X III (1937),
243-256.
168
n o t something t o be said f o r them.
Two a r t i c l e s
51
re v e a l h e r flo u n d e rin g
a tte m p ts to r a tio n a liz e th e American d o c trin e o f success and th e c u rre n t
"b u sin ess" c i v i l i z a t i o n .
tio n .
In th e f i r s t o f th e se she i s la y in g th e founda­
She asks p o p u la riz e rs o f h is to r y and anthropology t o q u it read in g
t r a i t s of modem psycopathic nan baokward, as i t w ere, in to p rim itiv e l i f e .
G reed, she fin d s , was n o t u n iv e r s a lly th e m o tiv atio n when more goods accu­
m ulated around one in d iv id u a l th a n he could p o s sib ly use or e n jo y .
And
when a p rim itiv e man, because o f su p e rio r in te llig e n c e , got more goods th a n
he could u se , he had t o develop "some s o r t o f C arnegie lib r a r y p la n o f ’ give
away’ "®® so a s t o avoid th e b o th er o f ta k in g care o f h is goods.
The "give
away" foundations o f to d a y , she f in d s , a re r e la te d to th e P a c if ic Coast
In d ia n s ’ " p o tla tc h " and a re " in d ic a tiv e of a s im ila r la c k of adjustm ent
between w ealth production and d istrib u tio n ."® ®
In th e second a r t i c l e , w r itte n more th a n a y e ar l a t e r , M rs. A u stin
goes in to h e r own biography t o prove h e r s e l f a r a d ic a l, h e r ra d ic a lis m be­
in g , however, only a d is p o s itio n t o a cc e p t n o th in g on f a i t h , n o t even th e
panaceas o ffe re d by th e " ra d ic a l" c liq u e s .
E ighteen y ears among In d ian s
in th e Southwest to o k her back t o th e Stone Age, where she made o b serv atio n s
Mary A u stin , " P rim itiv e Man, A n arch ist or Communist?11 Forum,
LXXFIII (1927), 744-752; "How I Found th e Thing Worth W aiting F o r," Survey,
LXI (1929), 434-438.
A u stin , "P rim itiv e Man," e t c . , lo c . c i t . , p . 747. C f. "Where We
Get Tammany H all end C arnegie L ib r a r ie s ," World O utlook, IV (1918), 4 -5 .
53 "P rim itiv e Man," lo o , c i t . , p . 752. The l a s t c la u se only appears
c r i t i c a l . For Mrs. A u stin ’ s p o in t, a s w ill appear l a t e r , was t h a t unequal
d i s t r ib u tio n m s n ao essary and wholesome.
169
■which she thought th e Fabians in England and th e ra d ic a ls in New York would
be in te r e s te d i n .
They were n o t. b u t she i s s t i l l convinced of th e i r r e f u ­
ta b le t r u t h o f her in s ig h t in to Stone Age Man and th e re fo re fundam ental
and u n iv e rs a l man.
She discovered "th e in escap ab le tendency o f goods t o
accumulate around dominant p e rs o n a litie s ." ® 4
She d isco v ered c a p ita lis m in
th e Stone Age, and i t f o r t i f i e d h e r fo re v e r a g a in s t th e d o c trin e s of topsy-­
tu rv y ra d ic a lis m .
Big Business i s th e re fo re in e v ita b le .
a f f i n i t y fo r T hings, a "good m edicine" which w orks.
Some men have an
This d iso o v ery was
sim ultaneous w ith h e r d isco v ery of th e S atu rd ay Evening P o s t, "the most s ig ­
n i f i c a n t p u b lic a tio n in th e U nited S ta te s , and th e a b so lu te index of th e
th in g a h a l f c en tu ry o f search has found, in America, c h ie f ly w orth fig h tin g
fo r.
J u s t t h a t ; th e r e tu r n t o th e h ig h -p rie sth o o d o f m an's economic con­
quest o f th e earth."®®
SatEvePost (Mrs. A u s tin 's own d i s t i l l a t i o n ! ) C u ltu re
is but th e u ltim a te flo w erin g o f th e te n d e n c ie s o f th e Stone Age, re p re s e n t­
in g "the gradual emergence of a m y s tic a l a t t i t u d e toward th e m astery o f th e
eoanomic environment . . .
th e s p i r i t u a l i z a t i o n o f business."® ®
The ra d ­
i c a l s ' in s is te n c e upon d iv id in g th e heap had run a fo u l o f t h i s d d ep -ly in g
n a tio n a l urge tow ards subconscious m astery o f th e economic environm ent, she
^
"How I Found th e Thing Worth W aiting F o r," lo c . c i t . , p . 435.
55 *b id «» P* 4S6*
®® I b i d . , p . 437. There fo llo w s an a b s tru s e e x p lan a tio n o f t h i s l a s t
amazing p h ra s e . The In d ia n knew th e v alu e o f p ra y e rfu l e x e r c is e , and used
prayer a s a means t o improve h is h u n tin g o r h is p o e try o r h is basket-m aking.
Prayer i s b u t r e ta in in g in consciousness a l l th e involved p ro cesses o f an
a c t i v i t y and t h e i r c a u sa l re la tio n s h ip s t o one a n o th e r. S p ir itu a li z in g an
a c t i v i t y i s n o th in g b u t m astering i t so com pletely t h a t i t becomes subcon­
s c io u s . Mr. Henry Ford had done t h i s . So oomplete was h is m astery , so
in te n s e h is p sy ch o lo g ica l c o n c e n tra tio n upon th e p ro cesses o f autom obilemaking, t h a t h is knowledge was s p i r i t u a l . A ll th e c a p ta in s o f in d u s try
w ere, th e n , men w ith "good m edicin e."
170
c o n tin u e s.
As t h i s m astery in c re a s e s th e re w i l l be abundance f o r a l l ? th e
problem o f p ro duction w i l l be solved and th e problem o f d i s tr ib u tio n w i l l
be handled in th e a g e -o ld Amerioan way, th e way o f th e " p o tla tc h " or "g iv e­
away.
.She i s ho p efu l when h e r fe llo w r a d ic a l s are most o a st down, b e-
oause she can see th e s p i r i t working in our n a tio n a l life.® ®
The th re e essay s j u s t surveyed in d e t a i l bore th e d a te s , r e s p e c tiv e ly ,
1922, 1927, and 1929.
In 1923 and in 1928 M rs. A u stin w rote two essays which
a re a b s o lu te ly d e fia n t o f th e "bu sin ess mind" and which h o ld up a sim ple J e f ­
fe rs o n ia n , dem ocratic id e a l.
W ritin g of A rizo n a, she ta k e s th e p o in t o f view
Before a re a d e r condemns Mrs. A u stin ’ s n a iv e te , l e t him remember
th a t th e s te a d f a s t l i b e r a l s , C h arles A* and Mary Beard, made a v ery sim i­
l a r id ea th e co nclusion o f t h e i r R ise of American C iv iliz a tio n (New York,
1927).
58
Almost th e only comment needed upon t h i s essay i s t h i s : Mrs.
A u stin published th e essay in January, 1929, on th e v e ry eve o f th e New
E ra . She took s e r io u s ly th e id eas o f such a p o s tle s o f th e New Era of
"benevolent o a p ita lism " a s W alter Lippmann and P re s id e n t Hoover.
She unbent r a p id ly , however, from th e a t t i t u d e o f r a p t a d o ra tio n
of "SatEvePost C u ltu re " and Men w ith M astery o f T hings. The n e x t month,
h e r "In d ian D etour," Bookman, LXVIII (1929), 653-658, in d u lg es in c a u s tic
comments upon th e dominant American way. In t h i s essay she says t h a t in
Santa Fe one has no chance o f " g e ttin g bored w ith th e monotony o f ’p ro g r e s s '"
(p . 654). T here, "th e s t r a i n of th e g re a t American f u tu r e " i s re la x e d ( p .654);
th e whole way of l i f e , slow, b e a u ti f u l, le is u r e - lo v in g , i s "a f l a t c o n tra ­
d ic tio n of th e American p rep o ssessio n " ( p .6 5 5 ), an esoape £r<m "th e highway
of th e u su a l" ( p .65 7 ). These a re stra n g e p h rases in th e mouth o f th e a p o stle
of th e "SatEvePost C u ltu re " and th e " s p i r itu a li z a tio n " o f th e dominant
American im pulse.
The L ast Stand o f th e Pack, by A. H. C arh art and S. p. Young (New
York, 1929)","which M rs. A ustin review ed (S atu rd ay Review o f L i te r a tu r e , V,
(1929), 587), in te r e s te d her a s "a fa b le f o r e co n o m ists.H ~ ^ . . . th e sin c e re
re s e a rc h e r among anim al p ro to ty p es o f human i n s t i t u t i o n s , has t o sk ip th e
sim ian group, and f i x on th e huntin g kind a s th e tr u e founders of our
'b u s in e s s ' complex. And of a l l th e h u n tin g b e a s ts , th e w o lf paok, a s t h i s
book goes t o show, most resem bled th e human eoanomic pack in p a tte r n , in th e
q u a lity both of le a d e rs h ip and of subm ission t o i t , in f o r e s ig h t, in w ari­
n e s s , in evasion and a tta c k , and in r u th le s s n e s s ." And t h i s i s a ls o a
stra n g e comment from h e r who had form erly proved from o b serv atio n o f th e
Stone Age t h a t greed did n o t m otivate th e accum ulation o f goods around
" c e r ta in dominant ty p e s o f p e r s o n a lity ."
171
o f a more or le s s re g u la r advocate o f th e W ilsonian "New Freedom."
A rizona,
she s a y s , has "a c le a r c o n c e n tra tio n on th e ta s k in hand and a m ag n ificen t
unawareness of any re a so n f o r n o t proceeding d i r e c t l y t o i t s
a c c o m p l i s h m e n t . "59
She lik e s A rizona’s freedom from f e t i s h , th e l i b e r a l and dem ocratic n a tu re
o f i t s s ta t e c o n s titu tio n ,
60
i t s p io n e er sense o f democracy, i t s w illin g n e s s
t o keep ste a d y , popular c o n tro l over in d u s try , i t s having "more s q u a tte r s '
r ig h t s th a n ro y a l g ra n ts among th e e a r ly land t i t l e s , "61 i t s unconcern f o r
th e p a tte r o f c u ltu re in th e E a st.
In t h i s e ssa y she i s s e n s ib le , p r a c t i c a l ,
a good democrat w ith enthusiasm f o r a newly occupied land which seems t o
o ff e r o p p o rtu n ity f o r th e flo w erin g of a dem ocratic c i v i l i z a t i o n .
h er p o r t r a i t of George W. P. Hunt,
fip
L ikew ise,
t e r r i t o r i a l governor o f Arizona and
f o r many term s governor o f th e S ta te , emphasizes h is p la in ly l i b e r a l q u a li­
t i e s , h is f ig h t s a g a in s t p r iv ile g e , h is h o s t i l i t y to th e r u lin g "eoonomic
and b u sin ess p r in c ip le s ," h is fa r - s ig h te d n e s s , h is g e n ia l, sim ple, human
59
"A rizona:
The land o f Joyous A dventure," N atio n , CXVI (1925), 385.
60
She r e l a t e s w ith glee how P re sid e n t T a ft opposed c e r ta in l i b e r a l
item s — referendum , r e c a l l , e t c . — in th e proposed s t a t e c o n s titu tio n when
A rizona a p p lie d f o r ad m ittance to sta te h o o d , and how A rizonans re a c te d .
" 'R ip ’em o u t , ' was th e g e n eral v e r d ic t, 'and a s soon as th e f i r s t l e g is la ­
t u r e meets we can p u t 'em in a g a i n .'" — I b id . , p . 385.
C onversely, she was com plaisant about th e famous Bisbee d e p o rta ­
tio n s in 1917, when u n o f f ic ia l groups o f Bisbee c itiz e n s u n la w fu lly bu t
q u ite e f f e c t iv e ly s e n t about 1,000 Mexican immigrants a c ro ss th e b o rd er be­
cause th e l a t t e r were co n sid ered dangerous m a te ria l f o r lab o r a g i ta t o r s to
work upon. To Mrs. A u stin , th e in c id e n t was m erely a n a tiv e , p ioneer way
o f throw ing th e drunken cowboy out o f th e dance. She sympathized w ith th e
o itiz e n s o f Bisbee in t h e i r h o s t i l i t y to fo re ig n lab o r a g ita to r s and in
t h e i r in c a p a c ity t o understand why ra d ic a ls and P re sid e n t Woodrow W ilson
had been so d is tu rb e d about th e in c id e n t. M rs. A ustin b e tra y s h e r sneak­
ing ad m ira tio n f o r th e " d ire o tn e ss " o f B isb e e 's a c tio n . See a ls o Mary
A u stin , "Hunt o f A riz o n a ," N a tio n , CXXVTI (1928), 572-573.
"A rizona," e t o . , lo c . c i t . , p . 386.
62
Mary A u stin , "Americans We Like:
Hunt o f A riz o n a ," lo c . o i t .
172
q u a litie s .
Here i s a man, she -w rites, who p u ts human th in g s above ’’good
b u s in e s s ” and p r o f i t s and a n o isy p ro g re s s.
Almost she i s persuaded t h a t
th e dem ocratic dream o f e q u a lity , genuine n e ig h b o rlin e s s , and common houe s ty and decency has come to f r u i t i o n .
63
A ll th e time t h a t she was w avering between c a p itu la tio n t o th e
Hocwerian id e a l and defense o f r u r a l , d e c e n tra liz e d democracy, she was
a ls o b u ild in g up a concept of re g io n a l eoanomy and th in k in g alo n g s o c ia l­
i s t i c l in e s .
Boulder Bam and Mexico were h e r g uiding s t a r s .
As e a r ly a s
1914, she had pleaded t h a t Mexico be l e f t alo n e t o work out i t s own brand
of v illa g e communalism.
In 1922, alth o u g h she had found th e new " s o c ia l
concept" to be h e r own renewed in t e r e s t in " s o u l's c o n tin u a n ce ," she had
a ls o p a id c o n sid e ra b le a t te n tio n t o th e f i r s t Boulder Dam Conference and
had beoame su sp ic io u s o f C a lif o r n ia 's m otives and aim s.
She remembered th e
Owens V alley "w ater s t e a l " of th e e a r ly 1900's , and th e p lan s f o r Boulder
Dam s tru c k h e r as th e beginnings o f a lik e a t r o c i t y on a much la rg e r s c a le .
By 1925, two y ears before th e second Boulder Dam Conference (1927), she
had begun t o shape th e th e o ry upon whioh she made a p r a c t i c a l figiht fo r
A rizona a g a in s t C a lifo rn ia in 1927.
I t was a th e o ry o f th e " in d iv is ib le u t i l i t y . "
The a r i d i t y o f th e
Southwest and th e consequent development o f i r r i g a t i o n and a oomplex system
63
S tra n g e ly , b u t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y , between th e d a te s o f th e two
essay s j u s t d is c u s s e d , M rs. A u stin , in "Amorousness and A lc o h o l," N atio n ,
CXXII (1926), 691-692, f o r g e ts about Hunt and J e ffe rs o n ia n democracy and
assumes th e p o in t o f view o f th e " c a p ta in o f in d u s tr y ." A lco h o l, love,
and w ar, she s t r i v e s t o show, a re th e th r e e major forms o f "befuddlem ent,"
b a rs t o p ro g re s s , something t o be r i g i d l y c o n tro lle d in a r a t i o n a l s o c ie ty ,
although she a d m its, p robably remembering an e a r l i e r pronouncement on th e
shortcom ings o f r a tio c in a tio n , t h a t "ours i s n o t, p o s sib ly n ev er has had a
genuine d e s ir e t o b e , a com pletely r a tio n a liz e d s o c ie ty ."
173
o f -water r ig h t s was a p h y sic a l f a c t predeterm ining th e form o f community
o rg a n iz a tio n and e s ta b lis h in g th e c u ltu r a l p a tte r n .
u t i l i t y , " she
e x p la in s ,® ^
The " in d iv is ib le
gives t o l i f e an e n t i r e l y d if f e r e n t p a tte rn from
t h a t of w ell-w ooded, w ell-w atered re g io n s .
In Europe and in th e e a s te rn
U nited S ta te s , abundance o f r a i n f a l l made each fam ily a u n i t , capable of
s e lf -s u p p o rt w ithout involvement w ith o th e r persons or f a m ilie s .
Town
l i f e , community liv in g , under th e European p a tte r n grew out o f p sy ch o lo g ical
n eed s, b u t always th e in d iv id u a l knew he had th e power o f lone s u b s is te n c e ,
knew he could w ithdraw , never f e l t d eep ly conscious of belonging to th e
community.
And nowadays, th e " in d iv is ib le u t i l i t y " in c re a s e s upon a l l of
us w ith every advance of sc ie n c e ; i t a lre a d y e x is t s in th e te le p h o n e , th e
te le g ra p h , th e r a ilr o a d , and th e w a te r, l i g h t , and power com panies.
Modern
economic l i f e demands community-mindedness, and y et th e old subconscious p a t­
t e r n o f lone su b siste n c e and o f in d iv id u a l independence c o n s titu te s a psycho­
lo g ic a l p u ll which makes community c u ltu re a t p re s e n t, a t l e a s t in th e m a jo rity
o f l o c a l i t i e s , an u n s a tis f a c to r y and i n e f f i c i e n t m a tte r.
We cannot liv e in
th e modem world w ithout being s h a re rs in numerous in d iv is ib le u t i l i t i e s ,
and y e t we yearn fo r p e rso n al or fam ily autonomy.
L ife in th e u s u a l European
o r American p o p u latio n c e n te r i s d iv id e d in i t s deepest im pulses.
Therefore
th e v alu e of th e Southwest as an o b je c t le sso n in community-mindednes3 and
community resp o n se, f o r th e " in d iv is ib le u t i l i t y " has e x is te d in th e South­
w est f o r more th a n a thousand y e a r s .
been im p o ssib le.
S u b sisten ce away from th e w ater has
The community p a tte r n of liv in g has been enforced by
^ Mary A u stin , "The I n d iv is ib le U t i l i t y , " Survey G raphic, LV (1925),
301-306 e t seq.
174
clim a te and topography, and i t s h is to r y and v a ry in g forms can be tra c e d
out among th e a b o rig in a l pueblo d w e lle rs.
The i r r i g a t i o n d i s t r i c t i s th e
p re se n t-d a y example o f i t .
Communal liv in g h a s, she w arns, i t s dangers o f c u ltu r a l and eoonomio
a rre s t.
But i t has i t s ad v antages, th e c h ie f o f whioh is th e e x ten sio n of
"environm ental aw areness."
"The farm er in th e Southwest cannot th in k
produce w ithout th in k in g dams and r e s e r v o ir s , cannot th in k dams w ithout
th in k in g power, cannot th in k power w ith o u t th in k in g o f i t s p o in ts o f a p p li­
c a tio n in mines and f a c t o r i e s , cannot th e re fo re th in k o f h is own e ig h ty
a c re s w ithout th in k in g of th e whole geo g rap h ical ran g e o f which i t i s an
item."®®
The c itiz e n i s k ep t a l e r t ; he i s aware o f th e need o f th e develop­
ment of tech n iq u es and s k i l l s f o r managing th e e n g in ee rin g a sp e c ts o f h is
community e n te r p r is e s ; he i s aware o f th e danger o f su b m ittin g t o e x p lo ita ­
t i o n by econom ically e n te r p r is in g in d iv id u a ls .
The need f o r te c h n ic a l and
s o c ia l a le r tn e s s and aw areness w ill keep him from th e i n e r t i a t h a t otherw ise
would s e t t l e upon th e communal typ e o f liv in g .
In s h o r t, th e modern com­
m unity in th e Southwest prom ises to make an e f f e c tiv e s e le c tio n of th e most
fa v o ra b le c h a r a c te r is tic s o f in d iv id u a lis tic and c o l l e o t i v i s t i c p a tte rn s
o f liv in g .
"H ere, and n o t in th e c a fe s o f Prague or th e c e ll a r s o f L eningrad,
i s th e s t i l l y tu rn in g wheel on which th e f a i r new shape of s o c ie ty is
moulded."®®
With t h a t th e o r e tio a l ground p la n in mind and w ith h e r developing
i n t e r e s t in Mexico as a land where s m a ll-s c a le communalism and a f o lk
c u ltu r e were blossom ing, Mary A u stin , from 1925 on, th rew h e r s e l f in to th e
65
I b i d . , p . 305.
66 I b i d . , p . 327.
175
Boulder ^am f i g h t .
The Boulder Dam c o n tro v ersy may be b r i e f l y summarized
as fo llo w s:
The Swing-Johnson B i l l proposed t o s e t up th e governmental machinery
fo r th e e r e c tio n o f Boulder Dam (o fte n r e f e r r e d t o a s th e Hoover Dam) and
t o make p ro v is io n f o r th e d iv e rs io n o f w ater th ro u g h an "All-Amerioan C an al”
t o th e Im p e ria l V alley in C a lifo rn ia .
The Colorado R iver Compact, "th e
f i r s t g re a t i n t e r s t a t e t r e a t y in American h i s t o r y ," was n e g o tia te d in 1922,
w ith H erbert Hoover as th e re p re s e n ta tiv e o f th e f e d e r a l government. Seven
s t a t e s r a t i f i e d t h i s Compact ~ Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado (th e
upper b a s in ) , and C a lif o r n ia , A rizona, and New Mexico (the lower b a s in ).
The Compaot a ssig n e d 7,500,000 a o r e - f e e t o f w ater t o th e upper b a s in , and
8,500,000 a o r e - f e e t t o th e lower b a s in ; th e rem aining 4,000,000 a o re -fe e t
(th e t o t a l e stim ate d flow was 20,000,000 a o r e - f e e t) were l e f t t o be disp o sed
o f f o r ty y ears hence.
th e Swing-Johnson B i l l .
The seven s t a t e s , in 1922, seemed w illin g t o a c c e p t
However, th e re was some d is se n s io n a t th e tim e
because th e proposed s i t e f o r th e dam, in Black Canyon on th e A rizonaNevada boundary, was only 700 f e e t above sea l e v e l , to o low f o r ex ten siv e
ir r i g a t i o n o f A rizona la n d s .0 '
The d iv is io n o f w ater r ig h ts between th e s t a t e s of th e lower b a sin
was l e f t t o th o se s ta t e s t o s e t t l e .
Nevada was s a t i s f i e d w ith two p ercen t
of th e a llo c a tio n t o th e lower b a s in , and C a lifo rn ia and A rizona were t o be
p e rm itte d t o dispose o f th e r e s t .
th a n C a lifo rn ia would agree t o .
A rizona h e ld ou t fo r a la r g e r a llo c a tio n
C a lifo rn ia w ithdrew from th e Compact.
A
seoond co n feren ce, in 1927, heard a l l th e reasons f o r A riz o n a 's d i s s a t i s -
67
These f a c ts a re ta k e n from R. L. D uffus, "The Drama o f th e C o lo rad o ,"
New R epublic, X LIII (1925), 147-149.
176
f a c tio n , but th e d e le g a te s o f a l l seven s t a t e s outvoted A rizona and a
handful o f sym pathizers, th e Swing-Johns on B i l l was r a t i f i e d , C a lifo rn ia
was given a much la r g e r share o f th e w ater th a n A rizona, on th e ground t h a t
C a lifo rn ia could use i t now, and c o n s tru c tio n o f th e dam proceeded.
Mary A u s tin ’s a t t i t u d e s in th e whole m a tte r a re th e p ro p er concern
h e re .
She began w ritin g on th e is s u e in 1925, and in 1927 she was th e
r e p re s e n ta tiv e of New Mexico a t th e second Boulder Dam Conference in
Denver, ta k in g a v o lu b le b u t u ltim a te ly in e f f e c tiv e stan d in favor of
A rizona and th e o th e r s p a rse ly s e t t l e d and undeveloped s t a t e s .
She was,
of c o u rse , c a lle d im p ra c tic a l and p o e tic a l even by persons who favored
A rizona in th e c o n tro v e rsy .
d ia te is s u e s .
6ft
For she was in te r e s te d in more th an imme­
She wanted th e w ater t o be a llo c a te d on a b a s is o f fu tu r e
developm ent, n o t p re s e n t n eed s, f o r she envisaged hundreds o f sm all commu­
n i t i e s in v a lle y s along th e whole Colorado c o u rse .
I s o la te d , w e ll- in te g r a te d ,
having th e fundam ental Southw estern communal p a tte r n enforced by th e sh a rin g
of w ater r i g h t s , th e se communities would b e , she f e l t , th e fo c a l p o in ts o f
th e new American s o c ia l p a tte r n :
in d u s tr ia lis m on a sm all s c a le , community­
m indedness, in te g r a tio n o f th e economic p a tte r n w ith th e p h y sio a l background,
a spontaneous, f o lk - lik e development o f th e c a p a c itie s n ecessary t o th e func­
tio n in g of such com m unities.
For one o f th e g r e a te s t e v ils in American l i f e ,
as she saw i t , was t h a t suoh hordes o f people " b e n e fit by, w ithout u n d erstan d ­
in g , th e m echanistic b a s is o f modern s o c ie ty ."69
"The p ro p o rtio n o f any com-
68
See, f o r in s ta n c e , h e r re p ly t o R. L. DuffUs1 in tim a tio n t h a t h er
"attem pts t o f o r e c a s t th e o u ltu r a l p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f th e Southwest" were
" p o e tic a l." — Mary A u stin , "The F uture o f th e Southw est," New R epublic,
XLII (1925), 186.
Mary A u stin , "The Colorado R iver P ro je c t and th e C u ltu re o f th e
S outhw est," Southwest Review, X III (1927), 115.
177
munity -which has only a b u tto n -p u sh in g , s p ig o t-tu rn in g acquaintance w ith
i t s m a te ria l ad v antages, i s th e measure o f t h a t community's c u ltu r a l i n e r t i a , "70
Small communities s c a tte r e d throughout th e Colorado b a sin would keep th e pop­
u la tio n "on th e s tr e tc h ," would c a l l ou t " in v e n tio n and f o r e s ig h t, among th e
people
She grew more and more p ro p h etic about th e c u ltu r a l prom ise of th e
a r id Southw est, provided t h a t th e p o te n tia l w ater reso u rces were n o t squan­
dered upon Los Angeles and i t s f u t i l e c u ltu r e .
The reg io n o f th e Colorado
had " a l l th e p o s s i b i l i t i e s of a g re a t and pow erful re g io n a l c u ltu re " in which
a l l America had a p o te n tia l s ta k e ,
" I ts developm ent," she w ro te , "should
c a l l f o r tim e and th o u g h t; n o t only e n g in ee rin g th o u g h t, b u t profound in ­
q u iry in to a l l th e fa c to r s which may prove c o n trib u to ry to making i t what i t
p robably i s , our one b e st b e t in th e d ir e c tio n o f r e a liz in g th e utm ost poten­
t i a l i t y o f th e American i d e a ."72
She w rote o f a " u n ifie d intram ontane c u l­
tu r e " th a t was th e n p o s sib le and was suggested by th e c o n fig u ra tio n of th e
la n d ; of th e alm ost " f a t a l i s t i c r e l a t i o n
th e American fu tu re."^®
o f th e Boulder Dam problem
to
P r e c is e ly , she meant what she ex plained in f u l l
71
I b id , There is s tr ik in g resem blance in phraseology t o one o f
Em erson's le c tu r e s . Emerson is adm iring th e "wonderful p erso n al indepen­
dence" o f e a rly American p la n te r s . He c o n tin u e s: "L ater t h i s s tre n g th
appeared in th e s o litu d e s o f th e West, where a man i s made a hero by th e
v a rie d emergencies o f h is lo n e ly farm . * • . Thus th e land and sea edu­
c a te th e people, and b rin g o u t presence o f mind, s e l f - r e l i a n c e , and
hundred-handed a o t i v i t y . " — R. W. Emerson, Complete Yforks, X I, 534-535;
quoted by E. Marohand, "Emerson and th e F r o n tie r , 11 American L ite r a tu r e ,
I I I (1931), 161.
72 Mary A u stin , "The F u tu re o f th e S outhw est," New R epublic, XLII
(1925), 186.
73
Mary A u stin , "The Colorado R iver C o n tro v ersy ," N atio n , CXXV
(1927), 512.
178
only once.
Americans had to o o fte n th o u g h t o f c u ltu r e "as a kind of
s u p e r - p r o f it on th e l i f e investm ent — th e l a s t th in g th a t accru es a f t e r
74
e v ery th in g e ls e has "been ta k e n oare o f . ”
Americans to o o fte n thought
t h a t c u ltu r e could be developed by th e " b o o s te r's t r i c k , " b u t c u ltu re was
a o tu a lly "the q u a lity of s p i r i t u a l e f f e c t m anufactured from moment to
moment by a people in c o n ta c t w ith t h e i r environm ent.
I t depends upon
th e n a tu re o f an adjustm ent between th e land and i t s people which i s a t
once s u b tle r and more p u b lic th a n any ite m o f economic c o n q u e st."75 jn
s h o r t, th e peo p le, she f e l t , had to ta k e on th e f e e l o f th e la n d , i t s
rhythms and f la v o r s .
Ho such rip en ed adjustm ent had ev er happened in th e
U nited S ta te s , and could n o t now be expected to happen in th e U nited S ta te s
a s a whole.
Even New England had n o t measured up t o th e g r e a t type o u ltu re s
o f th e p a s t found in such g e o g ra p h ic a lly in te g ra te d re g io n s a s Greece, I t a l y ,
and th e B r itis h I s l e s .
But th e Colorado b a sin o ffe re d an o p p o rtu n ity .
It
had th e n e c e ssa ry to p o g ra p h ic a l f e a tu r e s , b eau ty , v a r ie ty , f e r t i l i t y , and
th e proper com bination o f r a c i a l elem en ts, m ainly Nordic w ith tra c e s of
a b o rig in a l and s lig h tly e x o tic s tr a in s — a b e t t e r com bination th a n was
o ffe re d anywhere e ls e in th e world f o r re v iv ify in g th e Anglo c u ltu r e .
L ivable a re a s in sm all u n its - - th e topography i t s e l f would p re v e n t la rg e
o e n te rs of p o p u latio n — would give th e people c lo se c o n ta c t w ith th e land
and i t s problem s, c a llin g out " in v e n tio n and fo re sig h t."S lo w n e ss of d ev el­
opment would a llo w tim e f o r th e rip e n in g of h a b i t s , custom s, and s k i l l s .
Southern C a lifo rn ia was a hideous example of overexpansion.
t o be given th e r ig h t t o develop slo w ly ,
74
A rizona ought
tfhat Mary A u stin hoped f o r , in
A u stin , "The Colorado R iver P r o je c t," e t c . , lo c . c i t . , p . 112.
75 I b id .
179
summary, was a spontaneous v illa g e communalism f r e e o f th e dangers of
la r g e - s c a le s ta t e sooialism *
I t -was, a f t e r a l l , v e ry la r g e ly th e v is io n she had once had about
Southern C a lif o r n ia .
As f a r a s she -was concerned, however, C a lifo rn ia
abandoned i t s tr u e aim a t th e tim e o f th e Owens V alley w a ter s t e a l and
went over to th e hideous "economic and b u sin ess p rin c ip le s " o f insane
expansionism .
She was a tru e Jerem iah in p re d ic tin g r u in and d e v a sta tio n
fo r Los Angeles and Southern C a lif o r n ia .
she had made two p ro p h e c ie s.
V alley would get r e t r i b u t i o n .
Twenty y ears b e fo re (before 1925)
One was th a t th e ru in ed farm ers of Owens
They did so, by dynam iting th e aqueduct and
fo rc in g upon Los Angeles a deep sense o f th e fa rm e rs’ r i g h t s and of th e
p rom oters' p e rfid y .
The o th er prophecy was t h a t human s o c ie ty could n o t
" r e s i s t th e d eep -seated fa o to rs o f c u ltu r a l e v o lu tio n " and t h a t " i f th e
c i t y evaded th e r ig h t s of th e fa rm e rs, p re s e n tly th e land i t s e l f would
speak. "^6
She d id n o t say w hether th e l a t t e r propheoy had been f u l f i l l e d .
But t h a t i t would b e , was a c o n v ic tio n t o h e r dying day. 7 7
A u stin , "The ^’u tu re o f th e Southw est," lo c . c i t . ,
77 She t o l d Louis Adamic o f a propheoy she had w r itte n about Los
A ngeles, which was " in a s e a le d envelope in h e r s a fe -d e p o s it box and which
would be opened by h e r l i t e r a r y ex ecu to rs a c e r t a i n number o f years a f t e r
h e r d e a th ." — Louis Adamic, Mjr America, 1928-1958 (New York and London,
1938), p . 57. C f. a ls o E a rth H orizon, p . 308: ’’She [Mary] walked in th e
f i e l d s and considered what could be done [a b o u t th e Owens V a lley a f f a i r
and th e fu tu re of Southern C a lifo m ia ] . She o a lle d upon th e V oice, and th e
Voice answered h er - - N othing. She was to ld to go away. And suddenly
th e r e was an answer, a t e r r i f y i n g answ er, pushed o f f , d e fe rre d , delayed;
an answer im possible t o be re p e a te d ; an answer s t i l l im pending; which I
might n o t liv e to see confirm ed, b u t hangs suspended over th e Southern
c o u n try ."
Mary A u stin was n o t c o n te n t, however, t o in d u lg e in Jerem iads.
Louis Adamic was asked by h is p u b lish e rs t o omit from Dynamite h is aocount
o f th e Owens V a lley a f f a i r . As in th e case o f Nordskog (See Appendix I I ) ,
she t r i e d t o g e t t h i s m a te ria l p u b lish ed s e p a ra te ly ; she s e n t Adamic to
W alter Lippmann, th e n e d ito r o f th e New York World, and t o o th e r e d ito rs
a&d p u b lis h e rs . See Adamio's account o f h e r in te n s e i n t e r e s t in th a
m a tte r ,
0£.
c i t . , p p. 5 6-57
ISO
In th e Boulder Dam a f f a i r , th e n , Mary A ustin found an o p p o rtu n ity
to c o r r e la te a c tio n and th e o ry .
Her economic th e o ry , h e r s o c ia l v is io n ,
h e r id e a s of " c u ltu r e 11 were c o o rd in ated in to one of th e few c o n s is te n t
campaigns in her o a re e r.
Even in t h i s , as has been shown, she confused
th e is s u e by c a p itu la tin g a t in te r v a ls t o th e v e ry th in g s she was fig h tin g .
N e v e rth e le ss, h e r a tta c k upon th e Boulder Dam q u e stio n , i f stu d ie d w ithout
re g a rd to her o th e r w ritin g s and a c t i v i t i e s , has c o n siste n c y and some o r ig i­
n a lity .
Not much w ritin g on economic re g io n a lism had appeared by 1927.
Nor had th e Southern A g ra ria n s' b i t t e r a tta c k upon " p ro g re ssiv ism ," "fin a n ce c a p ita lis m ," and th e decadent c u ltu re o f "b u tto n -p u sh in g , s p ig o t-tu rn in g
America" y e t appeared.
Mary A ustin caught u p , however, a c u rre n t of Amer­
ic a n thought from th e end o f th e War t o about 1929 — th a t c u rre n t of d is ­
s a t i s f a c t i o n w ith th e American id e a ls o f su c c e ss, c a p i t a l i s t i c expansion,
p e rp e tu a l p ro s p e rity , "canned c u ltu r e ," and regim ented l e i s u r e .
That
stream of thought ra n through th e works of Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank,
S tu a rt Chase, Lewis Mumford, and o th e rs , and i t c o n s titu te d a kind o f p e r­
p e tu a l chorus in th e l i b e r a l m agazines.
Mary A u s tin 's th in k in g on Boulder
Dam — she would tu r n over in her grave a t t h i s su g g estio n — p u t h er in
th e camp of th e " ra d ic a l i n t e l l e c t u a l s , " fo r h er ideas were b u t a combina­
tio n of V eb len 's and s o c i a l i s t i c economics w ith th e chorus o f d isap p ro v al
of th e m achine-ridden ways of Amerioan c u ltu r e .
Likew ise, h e r atte m p t to
fin d a way between la rg e -s c a le fin a n c e -c a p ita lis m and la rg e -s c a le s t a t e
so c ia lism re p re se n te d a c h a r a c te r is tic way o f th in k in g among lib e r a ls in
th e 'tw e n tie s and even t o t h i s day.
Her e f f o r t t o fin d an economic re g io n ­
a lism whioh would serve as th e b a s is o f a r e v iv if i e d o u ltu re w ith lo c a l
ro o ts was no doubt th e reason why Lewis Mumford ask ed , in th e Epilogue t o
181
The Golden Day (1 9 2 6 ):
W ill our d a ily a c t i v i t i e s c e n te r more co m p letely in m e tro p o lise s,
fo r -which th e r e s t of th e coun try serv es m erely as raw m a te ria l,
or w i l l th e p o l i t i c s and economics which produce t h i s s t a t e give
p la ce t o programs o f re g io n a l development? What i s th e meaning
o f Lindsay and Sandburg and Mary Austin?^®
I t i s th e re fo re d is a p p o in tin g t o n o te t h a t , in s te a d of o ffe rin g con­
s i s t e n t le a d e rs h ip in t h i s kind o f movement, Mary A ustin sp en t h er e n e rg ie s
tr y in g to fin d p roofs of th e s o u l's co n tin u an ce, tr y in g t o r a tio n a liz e th e
e th ic s of th e v e ry enemies o f what she stood f o r , tr y in g t o make sense out
of h e r deep d i s t r u s t o f New York r a d ic a ls and i n t e l l e c t u a l s .
Ill
One more a s p e c t of Mary A u s tin 's c a r e e r a s p ro p h etess remains to
be tr a o e d , th a t o f h e r th in k in g upon g en eral c u ltu r a l problem s.
In 1921,
she was prone t o b e lie v e th a t th e g re a t American populace was s t i r r i n g
towards adjustm ent to American c o n d itio n s and tow ards a s a ti s f a c to r y i n te ­
g ra tio n w ith th e la n d .
She had formed two unshakable co n clu sio n s, t h a t
"the u m b ilic a l cord o f our d e riv e d c u ltu re has ceased t o p u lse" and th a t
"th e c u ltu re o f th e coming g en eratio n w i l l be a c u ltu r e of sm all communi­
tie s . . .
of tw enty thousand and l e s s . " ^
The abuse o f th e sm all town
in th e l i t e r a t u r e of th e day was only th e sig n of a fu rio u s d ev o tio n to
th e sm all town.
Small-town c u ltu re was f u l l o f prom ise; th e L i t t l e T heater
movement was th r i v in g , th e r e were phonograph re c o rd s everywhere, tr a v e lin g
p ic tu re e x h ib itio n s were th r i v in g .
78
There was adequate communication of a l l
Lewis Mumford, The Golden Day (New York, 1926), p . 273.
Mary A u stin , "Book S ervice to Main S t r e e t ," Bookman, L III
(1921), 98.
182
im portant c u ltu r a l f a c i l i t i e s except books*
I f p u b lish e rs and au th o rs
would but r i s e to t h e i r o p p o rtu n ity , America would fin d h e r s e l f .
"Vllho,"
she w ro te, "can go f r e e l y about in tljce w est and n o rth and n o t be t h r i l l e d
by th e slow , se o re t tu rn in g of a g re a t people, fo llo w in g th e immemorial
p u ll of th e s tr u c t u r a l ra n g e s, fa c in g west?"®^
L ikew ise, Mrs. A u stin saw g re a t c u ltu r a l promise in th e p r o li f e r a ­
tio n of m eohanioal o o n triv an c es in th e everyday l i f e o f n an .
This condi­
t io n would u ltim a te ly h e lp c le a r “th e p a th of pure scien ce o f o p p o sitio n s
s e t up by t h a t g r e a te s t of a l l human d e te r r e n t s , th e fe a r of change,"®*
provided t h a t scien ce was p re sen te d to th e average mind in a way t h a t would
"produce ad o p tiv e a l t e r a t i o n s in th e th o u g h t p a tte r n its e lf ." ® ^
She hoped,
in s h o rt, t h a t l i t e r a r y e x p e rts w ritin g on s c i e n t i f i c to p ic s would i n s t i l l
in th e p u b lic mind th e same o b je c tiv ity tow ards s o c ia l problems t h a t a l read y p re v a ile d in te o h n o lo g ic a l m a tte rs . 83
Mary A u s tin 's l i t e r a r y c r itic is m involved h e r th e o rie s o f p o etry
and o f th e s h o rt s to ry , which a re th e s u b je c t o f a n o th er c h a p te r.
As a
80
I b i d . , p . 101. Mrs. A ustin h e r s e lf d id n o t face w est a t t h i s
tim e . The same y ear (1921) she was w ritin g of h e r m y stic a l immersion
in to th e " c o lle c tiv e mind o f th e E n g lish ." " . . . The c o lle c tiv e
E nglish mind had widened suddenly and made room f o r me." ~ "My Fabian
Summer," Bookman, LIV (1921), 352.
®^ Mary A u stin , "Science f o r th e U n s c ie n tif ic ," Bookman, LV
(1922), 561.
82 I b i d . , p . 563.
®® The te n o r o f th e whole e ssa y shows Mrs. A u stin t o have been
m om entarily enamored of James Harvey R obinson's The Mind in th e Making
(New York, 1921). Indeed, she m entions R obinson's work as th e ty p e o f
" p o p u la riz a tio n " she p r e f e r s . A y e ar l a t e r , as has been shown, she
thought Robinson and h is i l k e n t i r e l y on th e wrong t r a c k .
182
im p o r ta n t
c u ltu r a l f a c i l i t i e s except books.
I f p u b lish e rs and au th o rs
would but r i s e t o t h e i r o p p o rtu n ity , America would fin d h e r s e l f .
"Yiho,"
she w rote, ’’can go f r e e ly about in th e w est and n o rth and n o t be t h r i l l e d
by th o slow , s e c re t tu rn in g of a g re a t p eo p le, follow ing th e immemorial
p u ll of th e s tr u c tu r a l ra n g e s, fa o in g west?"®®
Likew ise, Mrs. A ustin saw g ro a t c u lt u r a l promise in th e p r o lif e r a ­
t i o n of meohanioal c o n triv a n ce s in th e everyday l i f e of man*
This condi­
t i o n would u ltim a te ly h elp c le a r "th e p ath of pure soience of o p p o sitio n s
s e t up by t h a t g re a te s t of a l l human d e te r r e n ts , th e fe a r of c h an g e,"8^provided t h a t scien ce was p re sen te d to th e average mind in a way t h a t would
"produce ad o p tiv e a lte r a t io n s in th e thought p a tte r n i t s e l f . " 82
She hoped,
in s h o r t, t h a t l i t e r a r y e x p e rts w ritin g an s o i e n t i f i c to p io s would i n s t i l l
in th e p u b lic mind th e same o b je o tiv ity tow ards s o c ia l problems t h a t a l read y p re v a ile d in teo h n o lo g io a l m a tte rs .
Mary A u s tin 's l i t e r a r y c r itic is m involved h e r th e o rie s of p o e try
and of th e s h o rt s to ry , which a re th e s u b je c t of an o th er c h a p te r.
A.s a
80
I b id . , p . 101. Mrs. A,Us t i n h e r s e lf d id n o t faoe w est a t t h i s
tim e . The same y ear (1921) she was w ritin g o f h e r m y stic a l immersion
in to th e " c o lle c tiv e mind o f tho E n g lish . 11 " . . . The c o lle c tiv e
E nglish mind had widened suddenly and made room fo r me." — "My Fabian
Summer," Bookman, LIV (1921), 352.
8^ Mary A u stin , "Science fo r th e U n s c ie n tif ic ," Bookman, LV
(1922), 561. '
82 I b id . , p . 563.
85 The te n o r o f th e whole e ssa y shows Mrs. A ustin t o have been
m om entarily enamored o f James Harvey R obinson's The Mind in th e Making
(New York, 1921). Indeed, she m entions R obinson's work a s tKe ty p e o f
" p o p u la riz a tio n " she p r e f e r s . A y e a r l a t e r , a s has been shown, she
thougiit Robinson and h is i l k e n t i r e l y on th e wrong tr a c k .
133
c r i t i c of th e n o v e lR4
, s h e -was vaguely p ro p h e tic and got h e r s e l f involved
in h er own p re p o sse ssio n s.
In 1922 she -was a p o lo g e tic f o r , and sym pathetic
tow ards, th e contem porary n o v e l, excusing i t s f a ilu r e s on th e ground t h a t
America had no p a tte rn e d system o f s o c ia l s t r a t i f i c a t i o n f o r th e n o v e lis t
t o hang h is work upon.
In 1927, she f e l t t h a t t h i s v e ry freedom from t r a ­
d itio n and th e p u b lic ’ s assum ption of a u th o r ity in opinion gave th e n o v el
th e urge and th e power t o engage in s o c ia l prophecy.
In 1929, th e n o v el­
i s t s n o t having a ccep ted g e n e ra lly th e ro le o f prophets and n o t having
ta k en up s p e c if ic a lly th e p a r tic u la r o b sessio n s which M rs. A ustin lik e d t o
make th e s u b je c t of h e r own prophesying, she was d isap p o in ted in th e a c tu a l
production o f th e n o v e lis ts b u t s t i l l vaguely o p tim is tic about th e f u tu r e .
J u s t as she had t r i e d t o d e te c t in numerous mass movements o f th e t h i r d
deoade of th e century some h in t o f th e f u lf illm e n t o f th e American prom ise,
so she t r i e d t o h e ar underneath th e oreaking and b la r in g of th e l i t e r a r y
band-wagon th e sm all n o te of th e promise of "emergent fo rm ."
She was appar­
e n tly unaware t h a t "form" in th e novel i s among th e to u g h e st of c r i t i c a l
n u ts and t h a t t o c ra c k i t she would have had t o engage in a g re a t d e a l
more o f " s c h o la rly r i t u a l " th a n she would have ever had p a tie n c e f o r .
Worse, she in tru d e s upon h e r c r itic is m of th e n o v el th e same obses­
sion which had rid d e n h e r in h e r search f o r a new s o c ia l co n cep t.
Attem pt­
ing a c r i t i c a l guess, in 1929, as t o which works might h in t a t th e "emergent
form ," she named Arrows mi t h , The Bridge o f San Luis Key, and th e n o v els of
84
Mary A u stin , "The American Form o f th e K ovel," Kew R epublic, -XXX:.. ,
(1922), Supplement, 3-4 ; "American L ite r a tu r e Moves On," The 17orld~Tomorrow,
X (1927), 502-506j "The Approach t o th e Modern K ovel," B rentano’ s Book C hat,
(M arch-A pril, 1929), 32-36.
184
Thomas B eer.
These w orks, she f e l t , p o in ted t o a new goal "which [was]
n e ith e r th e consummation of sex u a l s a t i s f a c t i o n , th e accum ulation o f goods,
n o r th e r e a l i s a t i o n o f p e rso n a l pow er."85
She could n o t name t h i s "new
focus of p erso n al i n t e r e s t , " b u t she f e l t i n t u i t i v e l y t h a t i t would have
something to do w ith "the extending span o f l i f e , s u f f i c i e n t l y rescu ed
from th e d i s a b i l i t i e s of age t o allo w th e in te llig e n c e t o work unimpeded
by th o se b io lo g io and e g o is tic and economic n e c e s s itie s which have shaped
one a f t e r th e o th e r th e go als of f i c t i o n past."®®
The p r e s c r ip tio n had a lre a d y been f i l l e d th e y ear b e fo re , alth o u g h
n o t f i c t i o n a l l y , by Mrs. A u stin h e r s e l f .
In an a r t i c l e ®7 in 1928 she had
o ffe re d th e idea t h a t th e y e ars a f t e r s ix ty , which a re fre e d from th e sex u a l
u rg e , may be th e most p ro ductive s o c ia lly and i n t e l l e c t u a l l y .
A man or a -
woman may th e n contem plate th e s o u l's "chances and c a p a c itie s fo r co n tin u a n ce ."
Let th e re a d e r imagine f o r h im se lf th e p r o b a b ility of major American n o v el­
i s t s ' devoting them selves to f i c t i o n e x p lo rin g th e p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f th e
s o u l's continuanoe.
A good p a r t o f Mrs. A u s tin 's prophesying about a new c u ltu re grew out
o f a r a tio n a liz a ti o n o f h e r d is lik e fo r New York, fo r Jews, f o r p u b lis h e rs
and e d ito r s .
This a n ti-m e tro p o lita n b ia s i s a r a th e r im p o rtan t elem ent in
h er g en eral view s.
Q C
"The Approach t o th e Modern N ovel," lo o , c i t . , p . 34.
86 I b id *
87 Mary A u stin , "The Best Twenty Y earsj
Survey, LXjl (A p ril 1, 1928), pp. 9-11 e t s e q .
Growing Up and Growing On,"
185
New York f o ile d t o engage th e e x ig e n t i n t e r e s t s o f my tim e .
I t was n o t sim ple n o r d ir e o t enough; bemused by i t s own complex­
i t y , i t m issed th e open o rd er o f th e c o u n try w est o f th e A lle ­
g h e n ies. I t was to o muoh in tr ig u e d w ith i t s own r e a c tio n s , to o k ,
in th e g e n e ra l soene, to o narrow a sweep. I t laoked fre s h n e s s ,
a i r and l i g h t . More th an an y th in g e lse i t laoked p a tte r n , and I
had a p a tte rn -h u n g ry mind. I lik e d th e f e e l of r o o ts , o f ordered
growth and p ro g re s sio n , c o n tin u ity , a l l o f which I found in th e
Southw est. 88
I t i s p o s s ib le t h a t t h i s b ia s sprang p a r t i a l l y ou t o f h e r f a i l u r e t o
im press h e r s e l f upon th e l i t e r a r y c liq u e s in th e c i t y , a lth o u g h i t i s
n o t n e c e ssa ry to probe in to obsoure m otives f o r th e e x p lan a tio n o f t h i s
d e s e rt woman's d is lik e o f th e c i t y .
She n ev er d id belong in New York.
The th in g I s u ffe re d from w o rst in New York was boredom. The
people I met were seldom in te r e s te d in th e th in g s t h a t in te r e s t e d
me. . . . I was b o th e re d by th e rage fo r su cc e ss; th e id e a t h a t an
immediate success was th e s ig n o f c a p a c ity ; t h a t th e l i t t l e w horls
o f suooess t h a t k ep t appearing on th e s u rfa c e of a f f a i r s were f i n a l
and in v in c ib le . . . . I was d is tr e s s e d t o d iso o v er th a t most people
were unable t o r e a liz e th e p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t where I f e l l sh o rt o f th e
c u rre n t i n t e r e s t , I might have genuine reaso n s f o r i t ; t h a t I might
see f a r t h e r , might have caught th e t r a i l i n g wing of an ascen d an t id e a . 8
O ccasio n ally she could engage in " fo lk t a l k ” w ith S in c la ir Lewis and
H endrik Van Loan, b u t on th e whole New York w as, she f e l t , f u t i l e and
obsessed by m a tte rs o u tsid e h e r p ro v in c e .
The l i t e r a r y l i f e o f New York was n arro w , she f e l t , m ainly because
so much p u b lis h in g , e d itin g , and review ing was in th e hands o f young Jews.
She b i t t e r l y o r it io iz e d th e D ia l
QA
f o r giv in g an anthology o f American In d ian
v e r s e ^ l t o Louis Untermeyer f o r rev iew .
She th o u g h t Waldo Frank*s Our America
89 A u stin , E a rth H orizon, p . 349.
89 I b id . , p . 330.
Mary A u stin , "The P ath on th e Rainbow," D ia l, L3CVI (1919), 569-570.
0 . W. Cronyn, e d ., The Path on th e Rainbow (New York, 1918). U htermeyer l a t e r beoame a p e rso n a l f r ie n d o f M rs. A u stin , and was always d e fe re n ­
t i a l t o h e r in h is a n th o lo g ie s .
186
confined i t s o b serv atio n s t o New York, C hicago, and a l i t t l e o f New England;
and she d id n o t lik e th e a l i e n sound o f th e names o f th e people whom Prank
m entioned a s th e d is c o v e re rs o f a r t i s t i o t r a d i t i o n in A m e r i c a . W i t h o u t
p e rso n a l ra n c o r but w ith a deep f e e lin g on th e q u e stio n o f r a c e , she h e ld
t h a t Ludwig Lewisohn's Up S tre a m ^ was n o t th e s to r y o f an i n t e l l e c t u a l
Jew working up th e stream o f American p re ju d ic e , " a g a in s t th e shallow s o f
our c u ltu r e , th e c ro ss p u lls of our undem ocratic s o o ia l l i f e , and th e hidden
re e fs o f a p re v a ilin g economic i n j u s t i c e , " b u t was sim ply th e s to ry o f an
i n t e l l e c t u a l Jew "making h is way in to th e stream of Amerioan tendency,
a g a in s t th e p u ll of h is own in tr o v e r te d r a c i a l tem peram ent."
" ra c e ," she was sure o f one th in g :
Concerning
no Jew oould ever u n d erstan d th e Anglo-
American h e rita g e compounded o f th e b e s t o f feu d alism , C h ris tia n m ysticism ,
P u rita n ism , r e s t r a i n t , and a v e rsio n t o th e Jew ish h a b it o f "in v a siv e in tim a c y ."
And as she waxed warmer on th e s u b je c t o f ra c e and th e Jews* la c k o f a c q u a in t­
ance w ith th e Amerioan h e r ita g e , she s ta te d some fundam ental item s in th e
creed of r e g i o n a l i s t s :
su sp ic io u sn ess o f i n t e l l e c t u a l s , a m ystic f a i t h in
th e unreasonable obtuseness of th e people as a w hole, an ill- u n d e r s to o d fe a r
o f m etro p o litan ism , and an unoanscious g lo r i f i c a t i o n of o n e 's own ra c e or
re g io n o r t r a d i t i o n .
Having once got in to th e a lie n - b a i tin g s t r a i n and h av in g embraced
th e idea o f th e im portance o f r a c i a l in h e rita n c e , Mrs. A u stin went even
f u r th e r .
"Sex in American
93 "New York*
129-130.
L ite r a tu r e " ^
i s v e ry dubious so cio lo g y , eth n o lo g y ,
D ic ta to r o f Amerioan C ritio is m ," N atio n , CXI (1920),
93 Mary A u stin , "Up Stream ," D ia l, IXXII (1922), 634-639. Lewisohn
had reviewed No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t .
94
Mary A u stin , "Sex in Amerioan L i te r a tu r e ," Bookman, LVII (1923),
3 8 5 -3 9 3 .
187
or l i t e r a r y c r itio is m .
Again she holds t h a t in to th e subconscious r a c i a l
h e rita g e o f Anglo-Americans have gone ex p erien ces and a d a p ta tio n s t h a t
o th e r rao es have m issed:
th e b e s t o f Greek and Roman i d e a l s , C h ris tia n
c e lib a c y and m ysticism , c h iv a lry , and th e s c i e n t i f i c ap p ro ach .
A c u ltu re
-with th o se elem ents in i t s h e r ita g e , she w r ite s , w i l l show "a p re v a ilin g
s e p a ra tio n o f sex ex p erien ces in to th o se t h a t e n la rg e th e f i e l d o f s p i r i t u a l
p e r c e p tiv ity , and th o se which a re b e lie v e d t o be lim itin g and d is i n t e g r a t i n g ."95
The American id e a l of lo v e - lif e was n o t P u r ita n ic a l th in n e s s ; i t appeared
so only t o a l i e n s , in whose h e rita g e sex was "a to rm en tin g and unmanageable
b u sin e ss" le a d in g only t o a "muddled u n s a t i s f a o to r i n e s s .”
But long ag o ,
she f e l t , th e Anglo-European had learn ed t o make sex serve l i f e .
Most o f
th e d is s a t i s f a o t i a n w ith th e American p a tte rn o f lo v e - lif e came from S lavs
and Jews.
The same a l i e n elem ents were a ls o u p s e ttin g "th e Anglo-European
id e a l of in d is s o lu b le m arriage" and making d iv o rce easy.®®
A m aturer c r i t i ­
cism and a g re a te r cam araderie between young men and o ld e r, experienced
women would do much, she f e l t , t o remedy th e s i t u a t i o n .
Mrs. A u stin p ro ­
ceeds t o adm it t h a t " c o n tra d ic to ry and m u tu ally e x c lu siv e s t r a i n s of ex­
perience"® ^ muddy th e stream o f sex l i t e r a t u r e to d a y , and t h a t th e c o n trib u ­
t i o n of O rie n ta ls and Negroes can be aw aited w ith i n t e r e s t .
Having, in
s h o r t, r a tio n a liz e d h e r d is lik e of Jews, she can th e n prooeed t o be v e ry
95
H }idtf p* 386*
The U nited S ta te s Census r e f u te s M rs. A u stin . In 1920, th e
divorce r a t e o f persons (over f i f t e e n years o ld ) in th e " n a tiv e w hite —
n a tiv e p a re n tag e " group was 1.7 tim es th e r a te o f th e comparable group o f
"fo re ig n -b o rn w h ite ." - - "M arital C o n d itio n ," 14th Census o f th e U nited
S ta te s , 1920 (Tfe.shington, D .C ., 1922), I I (P o p u latio n 192077 37.
188
t o l e r a n t o f th e p ro sp eo t t h a t , a f t e r a l l , th e Anglo-American id e a l w i l l
undergo m o d ific a tio n .
And, of c o u rs e , th e Anglo-American or Anglo-Euro­
pean id e a l throughout h e r d is c u s s io n has te e n no more and no le s s th e n th e
id e a l s e t f o r th in Love and th e Soul Maker.
The essay i s l i t t l e more th an
a to r tu r e d attem p t t o r a tio n a liz e h e r anger tow ards th e re ig n in g l i t e r a r y
c liq u e s in Hew York in 1923.
W ritin g on ’’A r t i s t L ife in th e U nited S ta te s ” in 1925, M rs. A u stin
was w illin g t o admit two g re a t hazard s t o a r t i s t i c p ro d u ctio n — th e la c k
of w ell-in fo rm ed judgment and th e success o f th e dem ocratic id ea t h a t one
p e rs o n 's opinion i s as good as a n o th e r 's .
B ut, h a rin g made t h i s adm issio n ,
she proceeds t o be extrem ely o p tim is tic about th e ”inoomparable o p p o rtu n ity "
o ffe re d t o th e Amerioan a r t i s t , about th e - f r e s h and e x c itin g m a te r ia l, in
c o n sta n t flu x and sp a rk lin g w ith v ita lity ," ® ® about new motor im p u lses, new
s o c ia l p a tte r n s , new in c e n tiv e s i n th e c o n f l ic t o f r a c i a l tem peram ents, new
forms developing out of th e m a trix o f environm ent.
There was no o p p o rtu n ity
comparable t o th e American a r t i s t ' s o p p o rtu n ity sin c e th e tim e o f th e G reeks,
and work o f Greek p ro p o rtio n s was emerging ou t of i t .
h e r:
But two th in g s irk e d
dem ocratic p re ssu re which made th e a r t i s t a p o lo g e tic and k ep t him
from b e in g " n a tu ra l and happy and se rio u s and e x a lte d ” ab o u t h is work; end
th e s tu d ie d b e little m e n t of th e American
p ro d u c t, a r i s i n g from "th e f r e t ­
fu ln e s s o f a l i e n minds incom petent t o fu n c tio n a t th e le v e l o f t h e i r oppor­
tu n i t y " 99— which m eant, o f c o u rse , a lie n e d i t o r s , c r i t i c s , and p u b lis h e rs
who d id n o t accep t h e r estim ate o f what was im p o rtan t in l i t e r a t u r e a t th e
98
Mary A u stin , " A rtis t L ife in th e U nited S ta t e s ," N ation, CXX
(1925), 156.
99 I b id .
189
tim e ,
" • • • when I have w r itte n a sin c e re book out o f m ature Amerioan
l i f e , i t i s , as l i k e l y a s n o t, review ed by a young oub o f tw e n ty -th re e
ju s t out o f c o l l e g e , o r by a Jew from th e g h e tto , she complained*
What she m issed m ainly was h e lp f u l, d ir e c tiv e c r itic i s m p o in tin g tow ards
g o als and s ta n d a rd s , and a p u b lic a p p re c ia tio n o f th e a r t i s t ' s d i f f i c u l t i e s .
Ho sm all p a rt of th e tro u b le was th e a l i e n n a tu re of th e p u b lish in g c e n te r
o f th e U nited S ta te s .
Most angry and most p e rs o n a lly v in d ic tiv e o f a l l h e r ex p ressio n s of
d is d a in f o r New York i s a le tte r^ -* - w r itte n in p r o te s t a g a in s t an a r t i c l e
by H. S. Canby. 102 Canby had complained t h a t Amerioan l i t e r a t u r e o f th e
day was m otivated by d is g u s t and d is d a in , th a t no c u rre n t w r ite r had given
evidence o f s p e c ia l love f o r th e land t h a t produced him, o r had " p e n e tra tin g ly d iso em ed th e promise of Amerioan l i f e or p la in ly d e c la re d i t . "
t o t h i s p o in t, M rs. A u stin agreed w ith Canby.
Up
But she was h o r r if ie d t h a t
he had w r itte n t h a t th e r e was no one who had done f o r any o th e r s e c tio n o f
th e co u n try what Thoreau had done fo r Concord and Walden.
Mr. Canby h im se lf t o look beyond th e Hudson.
She ch allen g ed
She c ite d H. C. T ra c y 's
American H a tu r is ts , 103 in which was s e t down a c a r e f u l acco u n t o f people
who had loved n a tu r a l America, "th e la n d , i t s a s p e o ts , i t s p a tte rn s of
100
P* 152•
101 Mary A u stin , "Beyond th e Hudson," S atu rd ay Review o f L ite r a tu r e ,
V II (1930), 432 e t seq.
102 H. S. Canby, "The Promise o f Amerioan L if e ," S atu rd ay Review o f
L i te r a tu r e , V II (1930), 301-303.
10® H. C. T racy, Amerioan H a tu ris ts (Hew York, 1930). The book con­
ta in e d , in c id e n ta lly , a v e ry a p p re c ia tiv e c h a p te r on "Mary A u s tin ."
190
seasons and p ro s p e c ts , i t s beauty and drama and r e v e la tio n ."
104
She -wanted
Mr. Canby and th e narrow c r i t i c s o f New York t o know t h a t "th e G la cie rs o f
A laska Qjohn MuirJ and th e C actus C ountry [Mary A ustinJ have been tr e a te d
as te n d e r ly , a s inform edly, a s s c i e n t i f i c a l l y , and as in te r p r e ta t iv e ly • .
. a s ev er was Walden by i t s Hermit."^®®
The reaso n f o r n e g le c t o f Tracy
and h is " H a tu ris ts " m s t h a t he m s no New Y orker.
" . . .
he i s n o t even
one o f th o se M iddlew esterners, who, u n ab le t o b e ar th e e f f e c t produced upon
him by o th e r M iddlew esterners, has ru n t o th e vom iting p la ce and voided
f o r t h h is d is g u s t in a n o v el or a volume o f v e r s e . "1®® The most d is g u s tin g
th in g in Amerioan l i f e m s t h a t "so many o f i t s l i t e r a r y g u ild a re so ob­
sesse d w ith t h e i r c u lt of d isg u ste d d is d a in , so eag er t o vomit i t f o r th , so
smug in th e s a tis f a c tio n s o f i t s o ffe n s iv e n e s s, so m rrow ed by th e i n t e n s i t y
of t h e i r s e lf -c o n c e n tra tio n , t h a t n o th in g e ls e r e a l l y p e n e tra te s t o t h e i r
c o n s c io u s n e s s . "10?
They n e g le c te d h e r book The Flook, p ra ise d by Theodore
R o o se v e lt, H. G. W ells, W illiam A rch er, P ro fe sso r Ja n e t o f th e C ollege of
Psychology o f France, and numerous sheep men from America, S c o tla n d , A u stra ­
l i a , and th e A rg e n tin e .
They n e g le c te d h e r n a tu re w r itin g , which d id fo r
th e West what Thoreau had done fo r Walden, and under much g r e a te r d i f f i c u l t i e s ,
f o r a new geology, zoology, b o tan y , and topography had had to be le a rn e d .
They yawned or je e re d when she d isco v ered " th e prom ise o f p o e tic rhythms
emergent through th e Amerioan scen e, which should i n te r p r e t i t s n a tiv e
1®^ "Beyond th e Hudson," lo o , c i t . , p . 432.
1®® A u stin , "Beyond th e Hudson," lo c . c i t .
1®® I b i d . Mary A u stin m s a M iddlew esterner who had sp en t a good
p a r t o f h e r tim e fo r fo u rte e n y ears i n New York.
107 I b id .
191
rhythm s, i t s indigenous p a t t e r n s ,"108
There were prom ises in Amerioan l i f e ,
h u t th e y were a l l being d isco v ered out West, f a r from " H io k v ille -o n -th e Hudson," o u t where w r ite r s had th e tim e , th e w it, th e p a tie n c e , and th e
freedom from d is g u s t t o examine suoh t r a d i t i o n s as th e r e were and t o make
new ones.
W illa C ath er, Zona G ale, J u l ia P e te rk in , and even Mary A u stin ,
fr e e of th e m e tro p o lita n b l i g h t , were n o t " ly r ic w ith d is c o n te n t" ; r a th e r
th e y were d isc o v e rin g th e promise o f th e land by le a rn in g i t in " i t s t o t a l i t y ,
i t s rhythm s, i t s s tr u c tu r e s , i t s m a te ria l c a p a b i l i t i e s , i t s h is to r y , i t s
d e a lin g w ith th e v a rio u s r a c i a l elem ents t h a t liv e in i t , th e p a tte r n s i t
weaves in t h e i r m inds."109
go vehement a p r o te s t was i t t h a t Mr. Canby had,
as e d ito r , t o append an a p o lo g e tic n o te say in g t h a t he had p u rp o sely neg­
le c te d th e c o n trib u tio n o f such w r ite r s as Muir and A u stin , whom he hoped
to t r e a t la te r .
In th e same is s u e o f th e S atu rd ay Review o f L ite r a tu r e in
whioh Mrs. A ustin makes h e r com plaint i s a l e t t e r by Carey McWilliams HO
a d m ittin g th e g re a t impetus given t o W estern l i t e r a t u r e by f r ie n d ly E a stern
p u b lis h e rs and reprim anding A lic e Corbin Henderson of S an ta Fe f o r over­
emphasis o f "the se p a ra te and d i s t i n c t p o e tic p e rs o n a lity o f New M exico."
The c u rre n t o f p r o te s t a g a in s t New York, a g a in s t th e c i t y ’s ignorance
or n e g le c t of th e West, a g a in s t i t s a lie n stan d ard s ru n s s tro n g ly th ro u g h
Mary A u s tin 's work from about 1918 t o 1930, cato h in g up h e r b ia s a g a in s t
Jews and " r a d ic a l i n t e l l e c t u a l s " and tra n sfo rm in g h e r in to a p a ss io n a te
p ro p h etess and champion o f th e Southw est.
She fought and she p r o s e ly tiz e d .
108 I b id .
109 I b id .
Carey McWilliams, " L e tte r from th e Southw est," Saturday Review
of L i te r a tu r e , V II (1930), 434.
192
I note your a c t i v i t i e s as a o r i t i o . I am n o t s u re , however,
t h a t you a re r i g h t about th e young w r ite r s s ta y in g West a l l th e
tim e . I r a th e r th in k t h a t I won my r i g h t t o th e West by going
t o New York and d e liv e rin g a r ig h t hook under th e jaw t o a number
o f o b strep ero u s New Y orkers; and I have c o n s ta n tly , and in a most
u n la d y -lik e manner, mentioned t h a t nobody can h ig h h a t me, fo r
th e sim ple re a so n t h a t he liv e s E ast o f th e A llegheneys f s i o l .
I gave Louis Adamic ad v ice t o t h a t e f f e c t , and from th e magazine
a r t i o l e s he sends me, I g a th e r t h a t he i s keeping h is end u p .H I
This championing o f h e r adopted reg io n was, however, a s much a m a tte r o f
p e rso n a l v in d ic a tio n o f h er d e c is io n t o abandon New York a s i t was a love
of th e Southw est.
And i t was a ls o , no d o u b t, a v io le n t r e a c tio n t o th e
f a c t t h a t w hile New York bowed t o h e r p e rso n al s tr e n g th , i t yawned when
she became th e m y stic a l r e g i o n a l i s t .
Mary A u s tin 's p r o te s t a g a in s t th e m e tro p o lita n and a l i e n b ia s in
American l i t e r a t u r e was a l 3o a p a rt o f a w idespread movement - - a r e v o lt
a g a in s t th e c e n tr a li z a tio n o f p u b lish in g a c t i v i t i e s in New York.
Between
1920 and 1930, th e r e was a p r o li f e r a ti o n o f re g io n a l jo u r n a ls , a l l of which
com plained o f th e E a stern monopoly in p u b lis h in g .
Space in Oklahoma, The
Southwest Review in Texas, th e a c t i v i t i e s o f th e Texas Folk-Lore S o c ie ty
under th e le a d e rs h ip o f J . Frank Dobie, F r o n tie r in Montana, Midland in
N ebraska, th e spread o f th e L i t t l e T h eater movement, th e o rg a n iz a tio n o f
fo lk f e s t i v a l s in numerous re g io n s — a l l a t t e s t a re v iv in g sense o f lo c a lism in th e decade•
11?
Fundamentally, t h i s lo c a lism came out o f a renewed
a p p re c ia tio n of th e J e ffe rs o n ia n id ea t h a t c e n tr a li z a tio n was dangerous
and out of th e general love o f a l l th in g s American and in d ig en o u s.
In so
L e tte r from Mary A ustin t o Carey McWilliams, Los A ngeles, C a lif o r ­
n i a , August 19, 1930.
H 2 gee Carey McWilliams, The New R egionalism in American L ite r a tu r e
(U n iv e rs ity o f Washington Chapbooks, No. 46) ( S e a tt le , 1930); V. F . C alv erto n , The L ib e ra tio n o f American L ite r a tu r e (New York, 1932), pp. 362-363.
i
193
f a r a s i t -was a r e v o lt a g a in s t s ta n d a rd iz a tio n , i t borrowed rnuoh, however
un co n scio u sly , from th e sohool which i t f r e q u e n tly e x c o ria te d , th e r a d io a l
in te lle c tu a ls .
I t s g r e a te s t weakness was t h a t i t o fte n f a i l e d t o d i s t i n ­
guish between tr u e lo c a lism and th e a tte m p t to g e t a k in d o f n a tio n a l ad­
v e r t i s i n g f o r th e w r ite r s who happened t o r e s id e in th e l o o a l i s t s 1 p a r tic u ­
la r re g io n .
I t has a lre a d y been n o ted above t h a t extreme lo c alism o r re g io n a lism
or n a tio n a lism i s in c lin e d t o be a f r a id o f i n t e l l e c t u a l s , sin c e th e l a t t e r
a re in te rn a tio n a l-m in d e d , t o l e r a n t , s k e p tic a l, and c r i t i c a l .
The id ea i s
th e b a s is o f th e e la b o ra te dichotomy which Oswald S p en g ler b u i l t up between
" C u ltu re ” and " C iv iliz a tio n ."
An a rd e n t A g ra ria n , Mr. H erbert A gar, makes
th e S pen g lerian " C u ltu re -C iv iliz a tio n " dichotomy th e b a s is o f h is p le a f o r
a re v iv e d lo c alism in th e S outh.
C u ltu re i s r u r a l , r e li g io u s , c r e a tiv e ,
a f f ir m a tiv e , i n t o l e r a n t , ro o te d ; C iv iliz a tio n i s m e tro p o lita n , s k e p tic a l
and le a rn e d , o r i t i c a l , n e g a tiv e , w o efu lly t o l e r a n t , and u p ro o ted .
I f th is
v a s t s im p lif ic a tio n has had i t s e f f e c t upon th e minds o f th e Southern Agra­
r i a n s , i t i s no wonder t h a t some of th e im p lic a tio n s got through to Mary
A u stin in th e days o f h e r b i t t e r a n ti-m e tro p o lita n f e e lin g , when h e r id e a s
on race began t o sound a larm in g ly lik e th e th e o r ie s o f Spengler o r a modern
fa s c is t.
The rem ainder o f th e d isc u ssio n o f Mary A u stin a s p ro p h etess has
t o do w ith th e development o f h e r th e o ry o f " f o lk - n e s s ," in which she came
v e ry c lo se t o th e b i t t e r " a n ti- C iv iliz a tio n " and a n t i - t o l e r a n t id e as which
Southern A g rarian s began t o express s h o r tly a f t e r Mary A u stin expressed them.
Her ph ilo so p h y , in so f a r a s i t i s a ph ilo so p h y and i s n o t m erely an
enthusiasm f o r th e q u a in tn e ss o f more o r le s s n o n -p ro g ressiv e seo tio n s of
th e c o u n try , i s expressed in a th e o ry o f " f o lk - n e s s ."
C e rta in groups in
194
A m erica, she h o ld s, hare r e ta in e d t h e i r ro o tag e in t h e i r lo c a l environment
and have s u c c e s s fu lly r e s i s t e d th e American attem p t t o le v e l them, b rin g
them up t o d a te , and give them th e dominant concepts o f progress*
"To be
shaped in mind and s o c ia l r e a c tio n , and t o some e x te n t in c h a r a c te r , and
so f i n a l l y in e x p re ssio n , by one given environm ent, t h a t i s t o be F o lk ,"
113
The u n w illin g n ess and th e slowness w ith which a f o lk group responds to or
t o l e r a t e s th e in flu e n c e s o f th e world a t la rg e i s a d is tin g u is h in g mark,
she c o n tin u e s, and t h i s obtuseness and im p e n e tra b ility o f th e fo lk a re
good fo r th e f o lk them selves and f o r th e oountry a t la rg e .
The in d isp e n sa b le
q u a lity o f " c h a ra c te r" comes only out o f "complete s a tu r a tio n w ith a given
n a tu r a l environm ent."114
T his rootage in lo c a l environment g iv e s , she con­
ti n u e s , a rounded view of group d e s tin y and a profounder s p i r i t u a l i n t e g r i t y
th a n w orld-aw are s o p h is tic a te s have.
The fo lk have produced complete and
b e a u tif u l c h a r a c te rs , In d ia n s , N egroes, and E n g lish , S c o ttis h , and I r i s h
v illa g e rs .
In th e a r t s , f o lk p ro d u ctio n in c lu d e s many books of th e B ib le ,
th e myth of th e N a tiv ity , th e E nglish and S c o ttis h b a lla d s , v e ry muoh of
Greek p o e try , I r i s h songs, Negro s p i r i t u a l s , In d ian m yths, and In d ia n a r c h i­
t e c t u r a l and d e co rativ e d e s ig n .
No soheme o f d e c o ra tiv e d e s ig n , she h o ld s,
ev er o rig in a te d except in a f o lk group, "a group so deeply in tim a te by
long a s s o c ia tio n w ith a p a r tic u la r environment t h a t th e y began t o understand
i n t u i t i v e l y i t s p a tte r n and meaning. "U S
Mary A u stin , "American F o lk ," Folk-Say, A R egional M iso ellan y ,
1930, e d . by B. A. Botkin (Norman, Oklahoma, 1930), 287.
114 I b id .
115 I b i d . , pp. 288-289.
To t r y to d e s tro y th e F o lk , she c o n tin u e s, t o expose them t o th e
world a t la r g e , " to wrench them from t h e i r profound response t o an en v iro n ­
ment, in order to awaken a sh allo w er response t o a la r g e r su rfa ce o f th e
w o r l d , ^ i x
sim ply c u r t a i l our power o f ex p re ssin g th e th in g s t h a t r e a l l y
m a tte r and w i l l cause us t o continu e t o he known th roughout th e world f o r
" th e g e n eral shallow ness o f our s p i r i t u a l e x p re s s io n ."117
She laments th e
a ttitu d e of p o litic ia n s and e d u cato rs g e n e ra lly , and c lo se s w ith a p le a fo r
a tte n tio n to our lo c a l c u ltu re s in th e p u b lic so h o o ls, so th a t "the s p i r i t u a l
i n t e g r i t y of
our people w i l l begin t o fin d ad eq u ate e x p re s s io n .”118
The im p lic a tio n s o f th e essay a r e many; and th e r e i s a t le a s t one
c o n tra d ic tio n .
The " im p e n e tra b ility " o f th e Folk a s a c o n d itio n o f o u ltu r a l
flow ering and as a c o n d itio n t o be g lo r i f ie d i s r e a l l y th e orux o f an a g e old id e o lo g ic a l b a t t l e .
C onsidering only th e com paratively re c e n t m a n ife sta ­
tio n s of th e s tru g g le , th e idea i s a t th e base o f th e Ropantio movement.
"They le d t h e i r w ild d e s ire s t o woods and caves / And th o u g h t t h a t a l l but
savages were s la v e s ," John Dryden s a id o f th e Hebrews, meaning th e fo llo w ers
o f th e se n tim e n ta l d o c trin e s o f S h a fte sb u ry ; a ls o in Dryden*s tim e Mrs. Aphra
Behn was e s ta b lis h in g , in Oroonoko, th e mode f o r a long "noble savage" t r a ­
d itio n w hich, a f t e r p lay in g out in England, was trem endously i n f l u e n t i a l in
th e American p io n e er m ilie u .
The Romantio movement, th e I r i s h R enaissance,
th e th e o rie s o f th e modem A grarian group c e n te rin g in N a sh v ille , Tennessee,
th e th e o r ie s of QswaM lSpenglBr,- th e new re g io n a lis m , a l l have one th in g in
196
ooittmanj
th e g lo r i f i c a t i o n o f th e u n co n scio u s, th e spontaneous, th e n a iv e ,
and th e g iv in g v e n t t o a suppressed f e a r and d read o f r a t i o n a l i s t i c and
i n t e l l e c t u a l approaches t o li f e *
In Spengler and in modern Germany, t h i s
becomes th e g lo r i f i c a t i o n o f th e stro n g -b lo o d ed c h ild o f ra c e and lo c a l
c u ltu r e who is to o e a rn e s t and to o stro n g t o l i s t e n t o th e b ab b lin g o f
u p ro o te d , in te rn a tio n a l-m in d e d men about to le r a n c e .
In th e A g rarian move­
m ent, i t beoomes th e g l o r i f i c a t i o n o f a people -who a re so absorbed in t r a ­
d i t i o n , so p a s s io n a te , so i n t o l e r a n t , so com pletely a d ju s te d t o an environ­
ment t h a t th e y ta k e p rid e in t h e i r v io le n c e even when th e y l a t e r r e g r e t i t .119
I t is e s s e n t i a l l y a re a ffirm a tio n o f th e id e a t h a t t o t o l e r a t e e v e ry th in g
i s t o b e lie v e n o th in g and t o be paraly zed f o r a c tio n ; t h a t t o base l i f e
s o le ly on r a t i o n a l i s t i c b e l i e f i s t o ro b i t o f wonder; t h a t th e sim ple man
has p o e try and f a i t h and s tre n g th in h e re n t in h is way o f l i f e , whereas
c iv i l i z e d man i s confused and alm ost im p o ten t.
P h ilo s o p h ic a lly , i t i s an
atte m p t t o s u b s titu te a "re alism " fo r th e s h a tte r in g "nominalism" o f th e
l a s t few c e n tu r ie s .
That Mary A u stin would have been in te r e s t e d in o r aware o f th e f u l l
im p lic a tio n s o f h e r advocacy of " im p e n e tr a b ility ," i s d o u b tfu l.
S ix y ears
e a r l i e r she was w re s tlin g w ith th e problem o f how t o b reak down some o f th e
im p e n e tra b ility o f th e fo lk ;a n d , in s p ite o f suoh perform ances a s h e r essay
an th e "new s o c ia l c o n c e p t," she was in s p i r i t a r a t i o n a l i s t i c p ro b lem -so lv er,
a p a r tic ip a n t in th e movement of th e 'tw e n tie s to d is s o o ia te id e a s , b reak
down p re ju d ic e s , b rin g enlightenm ent t o th e p e o p le.
And y e t by 1930, she
See, fo r example, th e defense o f in d ig n a tio n and v io le n c e in
H erbert A gar, Land o f th e Free (New York, 1935), p . 166. B. A. B otk in ,
"R egionalism and C u ltu re ," The W rite r in a_ Changing World, e d . by Henry
H art (New York, 1937), pp. 140-147, in t e r p r e t s A g ar's view as th e r a t i o n ­
a l i z i n g o f p re ju d ic e , i n s t i n c t , and w ish -th in k in g .
197
had undoubtedly l o s t much f a i t h in th e program o f g en eral enlightenm ent and
problem -solving} th e f o lk looked adm irable to h e r because -without ap p aren t
e f f o r t o r d is lo c a tio n or d is ru p tio n th e y seemed t o be a d ju ste d t o t h e i r en­
vironm ent and t o have ach iev ed th e g re a t d esideratum , a s a tis f y in g l i f e and
an in te g ra te d o u ltu r e .
N ev erth eless (th e development o f th e th o u g h t i s
n e c e s s a rily to r tu o u s ) , h e r ad m iratio n of th e f o lk , alth o u g h she f e l t th a t
" im p e n e tra b ility " was a t th e ro o t of t h e i r s t a b i l i t y , did n o t le a d h er t o
a complete v i l i f i o a t i o n o f th e t r a d i t i o n o f r a tio n a lis m .
The f o lk were
sound, t h e i r c u ltu r e was a slow ly rip e n e d a tta in m e n t, th e y were i n t e r e s t ­
in g — b u t i t seems n o t t o have occurred t o h e r t o make a com plete philosophy
out of th e obtuseness o f th e f o lk and t o tu rn in an g er a g a in s t th e whole o f
c i v i l i z a t i o n in th e S p en g lerian sense*
T rue, she r a i l s a g a in s t th e phb lio
sohool and th e e g a li ta r ia n and p r o g r e s s iv is t id e a l s ; b u t th e n she tu r n s and
ask s t h a t th e c u ltu r a l p ro d u cts o f h e r beloved f o lk groups be in tro d u ced
in to th e currioulum o f th e p u b lic sc h o o ls, n o t so muoh in th e hope, one
su rm ises, th a t th e g re a t p u b lic would become f o lk as in th e hope t h a t h er
a g ita tio n f o r re c o g n itio n o f th e f o lk would f i n a l l y b e ar f r u i t .
Even in
h e r most uncompromising statem en t of a philosophy o f fo lk -n e s s and a th e o ry
o f re g io n a lism , one gains th e im pression t h a t she was more an eag er pub­
l i c i s t th an a p h ilo so p h e r.
The im pression i s borne out in h e r "In d ian D etour, " ^ 0 -which s tr e s s e s
th e uniqueness o f th e environment in Santa Fe, s a i l s o f f th e names o f o e leb r i t i e s who have stopped even b r i e f l y in Santa F e, and in d u lg es g e n e ra lly in
what m ight be c a lle d " B a b b itt-b a itin g " o f th e most obvious s o r t .
The g en eral
Mary A u stin , "In d ian D etour," Bookman, LXVIII (1929), 653-658*
a t t i t u d e expressed i s t h a t th e Santa Fe and Taos movement i s to o u n u su al
fo r o rd in a ry Americans t o a p p re c ia te , even i f th ey gasp and keep oaming
hack; and t h a t t h i s r e v o lt a g a in s t th e o b sessio n s o f b ig n e ss , p ro g re s s ,
and e q u a lity i s h a l f Bohemian and h a l f d e s p e ra te .
Only -when she m entions
th e f o lk does she abandon th e c lic h e s o f th e p u b l i c i s t .
Santa Fe, she
w r ite s , gives a " re le a s in g sense of th e p a s t and a sense o f f o lk .
This
l a s t , o f co u rse, i s a f l a t c o n tra d ic tio n o f th e American p re p o s s e s s io n ."121
The R epublic, she th in k s , may n e v e rth e le s s be on th e verge of d isc o v e rin g
t h a t " th e re a re n a tu r a l lim ita tio n s t o man’ s c u lt u r a l o a p a c ity which defy
b o th th e p u b lic sohools and th e D e c la ra tio n o f
I n d e p e n d e n c e " ; ^ - ^
she say s, i s h e lp in g f u r th e r th e im p lic a tio n s o f th e d isc o v e ry .
Santa Fe,
But th e
moment she appears t o be g rasp in g th e fundam entals o f th e charge t h a t Agra­
r ia n s g e n e ra lly make a g a in s t th e u s u a l American philosophy o f expansion
and p ro g re s s, she abandons th e a tta o k and r e v e r ts t o th e c o n trib u tio n th a t
th e f o lk a r t s o f th e Southwest can make t o conscious a r t .
safe b u t le s s e x c itin g ground.
There she i s an
Santa F e ' s c o n trib u tio n t o a p o s s ib le Amer­
ic a n o u ltu r e , she h o ld s , w i l l n o t be known u n t i l Mexico’ s experim ent i s
un d ersto o d .
Mexico, seeking t o s te e p i t s e l f in i t s In d ian p a s t, in c lu d in g
an in c o r r ig ib le community-mindedness and a r t f u l n e s s , a deep sense o f th e
environm ent, o f r e l i g i o n , and o f th e v a lu e s o f le is u r e , may lead th e w estern
hem isphere t o th e tr u e ex p re ssio n o f i t s e l f ; and i f i t d o es, Santa Fe w ill
be an a id t o Mexico and th e le a d e r o f America.
In th e s e concluding id e a s ,
w herein she v e e rs a g ain tow ards th e v is io n o f th e c u l t u r a l a d a p ta tio n whioh
she had had w hile th in k in g about 5oulder Dam, she i s f a r from mere p rim i­
tiv is m .
"Folkness" was n o t w ith Mary A u stin a lto g e th e r a m a tte r o f concen­
t r a t i n g upon is o la te d and e x o tic f o lk e x p re ss io n s .
C h a r a o te r is tio a lly ,
having grasped what she thought was th e essence o f th e fo lk manner and th e
f o lk approach to l i f e , she was eag er t o make i d e n ti f ic a tio n o f t h i s "essence
w ith c e r ta in observable m a n ife sta tio n s in th e la rg e c u rre n t o f American l i f e
"Folk L ite r a tu r e , "-*-23 i s a d i f f i c u l t and a b s tru s e e ssa y .
The Founders o f
th e R epublic, she lam ents, and t h e i r d is c i p le s have n o t wanted any fo lk t o
rem ain, and have t r i e d t o shower down on a l l a lik e an e q u a lity o f opportu­
n i t y , always unaware o f "th e autom atic lim ita tio n o f r e c e p t iv i ty by th e
com pletely accepted background. "^-24 Again beginning a s i f she in ted d ed t o
make a philosophy o f re g io n a lism ou t o f th e id e as o f "environm ental ro o tag e"
and "autom atic lim ita tio n o f r e c e p tiv i ty " (im p e n e tra b ility , in o th e r w ords),
she i s s a t i s f i e d t o m a in ta in t h a t th e In d ian s and Spanish-Amerioans o f th e
Southw est, th e Anglo-Saxons of th e A ppalachian h ig h la n d s, and th e Negroes
should be l e f t a lo n e , t o serve a s o b je c t le sso n s in n a tu r a l c u ltu r e ; b u t i t
i s a tenuous lin e which she extend s from th e q u a l itie s o f fo lk p ro d u cts
in to th e realm of American l i t e r a t u r e a t la r g e .
The " fu rio u s obsession o f lik e n e s s ," she h o ld s , has n o t e n t i r e l y
conquered; something i s " f r u i t i n g from s e c r e t and n e g le c te d ro o ts — l i t e r ­
a tu r e which s h a ll re v e a l in i t s form and fla v o r th e tr u e tan g o f th e Amer­
ic a n s o i l . "*25
p or any group r e a c tio n t o any a sp e c t o f our common l i f e i s
123 Mary A u stin , "Folk L i te r a t u r e ," Saturday Review o f L ite r a tu r e ,
V (1928), 33-35.
200
a f o lk a t t i t u d e , she c o n tin u e s.
C onsequently, A b ie 's I r i s h Rose, th e c a r­
to o n s in th e New M asses, th e p lay s o f Percy Maokaye and Eugene O 'N e ill, and
th e p o e try of Longfellow a re a l l given th e a c c o la d e , whioh i s m y ste rio u sly
denied to M ilt G ross, Sherwood Anderson, and Countee C u lle n .
c la s s ific a tio n i s :
The b a s is of
does th e work in q u e stio n re v e a l th e " lim ita tio n due from
th e environment a g a in s t which i t £is}
d i s p l a y e d " ? - ^ ®
"'Wherever in any fo lk
p re s e n ta tio n , consciousness o f th e audience c re ep s i n , th e c a p a c ity t o func­
t i o n w ith and through t h a t audience is in f e r r e d , and by so much m itig a te s
a g a in s t th e f o lk q u a lity o f th e p ro d u c tio n . "127
What she seems t o be tr y in g
t o say is t h a t a p ro d u c tio n i s of th e fo lk i f i t rem ains s o le ly w ith in th e
frame of th e fo lk b e l i e f s and v a lu es and does n o t in tru d e i n t e l l e c t u a l l y
w ith an im plied frame of valu es n o t u n d erstan d ab le by th e f o lk .
She meant
something o f th e s o r t , f o r she speaks o f W illa C a th e r’ s " r e je c tio n o f th e
su p e rio r consciousness o f th e bystanding I n t e l l e c t u a l s as a medium o f in te ­
g ra tio n " ; she speaks of th e way in which "th e c h a ra c te rs o f Mr. O 'N e illls
p lay s f a i l t o ta k e any account of any o th e r p e n e tra tio n s o f t h e i r problems
th a n t h e i r own"; and she compliments th e s e a t t i t u d e s and ta k e s a glancing
blow a t h e r o ld gods, G alsw orthy, W ells, B en n ett, and Shaw, who now, she
f e e l s , e x h ib it an aw areness " a t a l l tim es o f th e complete im p lic a tio n of
a l l England in w hatever t h e i r c h a ra c te rs happen t o be doing. "128
Her th e o ry i s so com pletely a c a t c h - a l l , p erh ap s, because she had t o
a f f ir m h e r f a i t h in "A b ie's I r i s h Rose" as a f o lk - p la y .^ ®
126 I b id *
1 2 7
I
b
i d
*
128 I b id «» P* 35*
129
She in s i s t e d t h a t th e P.E.N. choose M iss N ic h o ls' p la y f o r a b e n e fit
perform ance. She p u b lic iz e d i t a s a fo lk -p la y . See E arth H orizon, p . 335.
201
Mary A u stin , i t a p p e a rs, was endeavoring t o r a t io n a liz e h e r growing
d i s t r u s t of th e problem n o v e l; f o r a t th e tim e , th e re was a growing l i t e r a ­
t u r e o f o r itic is m of th e "outmoded" Edw ardians, G alsw orthy, W ells, B en n ett,
and Shaw. 130
Mrs. A ustin perhaps th o u g h t she saw th e key t o th e new move­
ment i n h e r "fo lk " th e o ry ; f o r th e re was t h i s much in common between h er
" fo lk " th e o ry and th e Roger F ry school o f a e s th e tic ism s
th e searoh fo r
" tru e form" re p re se n te d an a tte m p t to b a n ish from l i t e r a t u r e (and a r t ) th e
problem -solving in te lle c tu a lis m and p u rp o sefu ln ess o f much o f th e work of
t h e preceding y ears of th e c e n tu ry ; and Mary A u stin , to o , was th ro u g h w ith
" r a d ic a l i n t e l l e c t u a l s ."
Yet th e p lay s of O’N e ill managed t o pass m uster
w ith h e r — a f a o t w hich, a s f a r as t h i s w r ite r i s concerned, w i l l have t o
rem ain unexplained.
Mrs. A u stin ’s th e o ry of "fo lk n e ss" in th e American l i t e r a t u r e of
th e y e ar 1928 i s b ased , th e n , on th e id ea of a lim ite d aw areness, a r e t r e a t
t o th e lo o a l scene, th e abandonment by a u th o rs o f an i n t e l l e c t u a l p o in t of
view , and th e assum ption o f a frame of re fe re n c e a c c e p ta b le t o th e p eo p le.
The th e o ry i s , a f t e r a l l , a good th e o ry , however ab su rd h er a p p lic a tio n s o f
i t t o s p e c ific examples.
For what i t amounts to i s t h a t sh e, alo n g w ith
many o th e r Am ericans, was weary of th e h arsh o r i t i c a l n o te in so muoh of
American w ritin g and was e ag e r t o fin d something in Amerioa t h a t could be
adm ired.
But th e essay a s a w hole, in i t s e ffu s iv e eagerness t o claim a l l
s o r ts o f realm s f o r th e f o lk , i s an example o f Mary A u stin ’ s o c ca sio n al r e ­
le n tin g towards America as a w hole.
130
S tan d in g everywhere a t once, m y s tic a lly
See, f o r in s ta n c e , V irg in ia Woolf, "Mr. B ennett and Mrs. Brown,"
H ogarth Essays (New York, 1928), pp. 3 -29, a good example o f th e new a e s­
t h e t i c ism.
202
d iv in in g , she p uts th e Santa Fe movement te m p o ra rily out o f h e r mind; a l l
America have become th e f o lk ; a l l is going as she would w ish i t ; she i s as
open-armed and loose-minded a s when she d isco v ered t h a t a l l America, in
1929, was moving tow ards a s p i r i t u a l i z a t i o n o f b u s in e s s .
And she was very
f a r from th e d o c tr in a ir e assu ran ce o f h e r fe llo w r e g io n a lis ts o f th e South
who were in th e n ex t year (1929) t o is s u e t h e i r c h allen g e t o th e "whole
p r o g r e s s iv is t f e t i s h , " t o m e tro p o lita n decadence, t o n a tu ra lism in l i t e r a ­
t u r e and m orals and p o l i t i c s ,131
I t is obvious t h a t Mary A u s tin 's lik in g f o r th e ro le o f p ro p h e t, h er
unmanageable m ysticism , h e r laok o f lo g ic and c o n siste n c y and le a rn in g k ep t
h e r from forming a philosophy o f re g io n a lism .
She was tem peram entally un­
f i t t e d fo r any r o le except t h a t of c a ta l y s t t o s e t o f f enthusiasm .
She
never q u ite managed t o make h e r enthusiasm f o r th e f o lk seem an im portant
m a tte r t o a n a tio n which, fo r b e tte r or w orse, was pledged t o th e machine
age.
Had she continued t o make c o n c re te th e v is io n which th e Boulder Dam
co n tro v e rsy stim u la te d in h e r , she m ight have made re g io n a lism r e le v a n t t o
th e modern w orld; a t one moment she was ab o u t t o see t h a t th e machine would
have to be conquered and u se d , th a t modern c u ltu re might develop by going
forw ard to a g o a l.
To have made t h a t dream r e le v a n t, however, she would
have had t o develop a philosophy o f re g io n a lism by keeping h e r eye on r e a l i ­
tie s .
As i t was, she m erely c lo se d h e r e y e s, w ithdrew in to h e r s e l f , and
came out w ith b a f f lin g and obscure pronouncements about how th e a r r e s te d
c u ltu re o f th e backward and unimposing v ill a g e s o f th e Southwest was t o
l
T'TT Take My S tan d , The South and th e A g rarian T ra d itio n , by
Twelve S outherners (New York and London, 1930).
203
work i t s way, — she knew n o t how, h u t she f e l t i t - - in to th e main stream
o f American l i f e .
Throughout h e r whole c a re e r as p ro p h e te s s -a t-la rg e t o America she
was to r n between numerous im pulses.
Her v a g a rie s a re a kind o f s o o ia l
h i s t o r y o f th e U nited S ta te s from 1920 t o 1930.
At one moment she was
th e a p o s tle o f W alter Lippmann, John Dewey, Randolph Bourne, and James Harvey
R obinson, looking fo r th e impulse and th e concept t h a t would lead t o a so lu ­
t i o n o f th e economic, p o l i t i c a l , and s o c ia l problem .
At th e n ex t moment she
had disavowed a l l th e se te a c h e rs t o look f o r th e new s o c ia l concept in th e ­
osophy and f a ith - h e a lin g .
M om entarily, she was an a rd e n t advocate o f s t a t e
c o n tr o l over in d iv id u a l e n te r p r is e , and w ith in a y e a r o r two was follow ing
th e new d o c trin e o f "benevolent c a p ita lis m " advocated by H erbert Hoover and
W alter Lippmann.
Worst o f a l l , she was fin d in g j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r th e re ig n
o f th e b enevolent despots in th e ways o f Stone Age man.
She had undoubtedly
ta k e n t o h e a rt t h a t s ig n if ic a n t symposium, C iv i liz a tio n in th e U nited S t a t e s , ^32
and i t s te a c h in g t h a t th e average American was u n le tte r e d , s e n tim e n ta l, pro­
v i n c i a l , a b o o r, and a P u rita n ; and she w ent f o r th t o do b a t t l e w ith th e
fo rc e s o f ig n o ran ce.
Soon, however, she was fin d in g th e fo rc e s o f igaorance
most adm irably in tren c h ed behind th e th ic k scree n o f t h e i r im p e n e tra b ility ,
w iser th a n th e deluded i n t e l l e c t u a l s .
From p r a is e o f womens clu b s a s an
organ o f c u ltu re t o a stand a g a in s t t h e i r b rin g in g t h e i r "chautauqua" t o
Santa Fe; from h ig h p ra is e o f S in c la ir Lewis t o th e opinion t h a t th e new
n o v el would have t o seek out th e p ro o fs o f im m o rtality ; from e x c o ria tio n o f
th e i n t e l l e c t u a l s t o p ra is e o f Eugene O’N e ill as a g re a t " fo lk " p o e t; .
■ ^ H a r o ld E. S te a rn s , e d ., C iv iliz a tio n in th e U nited S ta te s (New
York, 1922).
204
from w orship o f Jacksonian democracy a s ex em p lified in Hunt o f A rizona,
t o th e c o n clu sio n t h a t th e C arnegie plan o f "give-away" was th e s o lu tio n
to th e problem o f m a ld is trib u tio n ; from a w id e ly ro v in g i n t e r e s t in ev ery
contem porary l i t e r a r y c u rre n t t o an alm ost f a n a ti c a l and e x clu siv e absorp­
tio n in th e I n d ia n 's a r t — and a l l because th e In d ian could lay- hold o f
wakonda o r orenda.
Was th e re e v er a more to r tu o u s , in c o n s is te n t, h a ra ss e d ,
and u n tid y te n y e a rs in th e l i f e o f a m o rtal?
A lthough p r a c t ic a ll y every
s h if tin g c u rre n t of h er thought was e x p lain ed t o h e r s a t i s f a c t i o n , a s an
in s ig h t gained from p rim itiv e , u n iv e r s a l, and u n sp o ile d man, she u ltim a te ly
gives th e sa n c tio n o f p rim itiv e mores t o so many contem porary tre n d s t h a t
h e r g e n e ra liz a tio n s break down and h e r pro p h ecies p o in t in no d ir e o tia n .
CHAPTER VI
THE AMERICAN RHYTHM
The preoeding c h a p te r has shown Mary A u stin t o have been deeply
in te re s te d in th e g en eral s o c ia l and c u lt u r a l problems of American l i f e ,
many of which she endeavored t o in te r p r e t in th e lig h t of what she had
observed o f Amerind customs and p ra o tio e s .
As an a r t i s t and, more impor­
t a n t , as an am ateur a n th ro p o lo g is t, she had long h eld th a t economics, r e ­
lig io n , and a e s th e tic s a re o lo se ly interw oven in any we 11- in te g ra te d c u l­
tu r e , a l l r i s i n g out o f th e same deep so u rc e, t h a t i s , out o f th e n a tu r a l
adjustm ent o f human l i f e t o i t s environm ent.
The u ltim a te souroe o f h er
concept o f a t r u l y re g io n a l " c u ltu re " a t th e tim e she was engaged in th e
Boulder Dam c o n tro v e rsy , was h er deep f a i t h in th e wholeness and u n ity of
th e p r im itiv e 's way o f l i f e .
She en v isio n ed a way o f l i f e f o r modern man
in which a e s t h e t i c s , economics, and r e lig io n would be in te g ra te d .
I t is
n o t s u rp ris in g , th e n , t o fin d t h a t , having ex p ressed h e r s e lf on American
economic l i f e — o fte n fum blingly, t o be s u re , and once q u ite p e n e tra tin g ly — she spoke a ls o on r e lig io n and a e s t h e t i c s .
What p rim itiv e s and th e
"folk" had t o o f f e r in th e m a tte r of a t r u l y American a e s th e tic s occupied
her fre q u e n tly .
Mary A u s tin 's most im portant a e s th e tic th e o ry , concerning p o e try ,
i s embodied in t h e long in tro d u c to ry o h ap ter o f The American Rhythm.
To
judge h er th e o ry p ro p e rly re q u ire s a ls o a su rv ey o f th e la rg e r p a rt of
h er p o e tic p ro d u c tio n , which i s to be found in The American Rhythm (1923
and 1930), i n The C hildren Sing in th e Far West (1928), and in v a rio u s
16 8
%' 4 $
206
p e rio d ic a ls from 1911 t o th e end of h er l i f e .
Her th e o ry and h e r p ra c ­
t i c e , th e n , c o n s titu te th e two major d iv is io n s of t h i s c h a p te r.
I
The American Rhythm belongs in
th e tw e n tie th c e n tu ry .
s p i r i t t o th e seoond decade o f
I t i s b u t an a tte m p t t o claim f o r th e American
In d ian most o f th e d is c o v e rie s made by th e e x p erim en ters, th e o r iz e r s ,
and p r a c titio n e r s o f p o e try in th e decade o f th e R e n a issa n c e o f p o e t­
r y ."
The landmarks in th e p o e tic re n a issa n c e o f 1910-1920 a re now
q u ite fa m ilia r to a l l s tu d e n ts .
In th e summer o f 1912 Vachel Lindsay
walked from I l l i n o i s to New Mexico d i s t r ib u tin g rhymes and p reach in g
th e "gospel o f b e a u ty ."
The n ex t y e ar h is G eneral W illiam Booth E n ters
Heaven and O ther Poems was g re e ted as an e x c e lle n t sig n o f a new indigenous
p o e try .
1912.
H a rrie t Monroe e s ta b lis h e d P o e try Magazine in Chicago in O ctober,
In 1914 came a work in which Amy Lowell c o lla b o ra te d , Des Im a g is te s ,
follow ed in th e th r e e succeeding y e a rs, 1915-1917, by an annual c o lle c tio n
e n t i t l e d Some Im agist P o e ts.
In 1915 Miss Low ell’s S ix French P oets e sta b ­
lis h e d among o th e r th in g s t h a t th e Im ag ists had many p rin c ip le s in common
w ith th e Sym bolists of France; indeed, a defen se o f Symbolisme by Remy de
Gourmont, which Miss Lowell quoted, sounds g r e a tly lik e th e credo formu­
la te d by th e Im agists and s ta te d e x p l i c i t l y in Amy Lowell’ s Tendencies in
Modern American P o e try , 1917.
But w hile Amy Lowell and Miss Monroe were
g iv in g v a s t encouragement t o th e more o r le s s d e riv a tiv e and p recio u s
Im a g is ts , th e y were a ls o encouraging th e new sohool of p r a i r i e p o e ts , p a r­
t i c u l a r l y M asters and Sandburg, who owed l i t t l e , co n scio u sly a t l e a s t , t o
a knowledge o f th e Sym bolists or any th e o ry o f imagism.
The " p r a ir ie
207
p o e t s ,” as F. L. P a tte e c a l l s them, sim ply p ra c tic e d a freedom in form
and su b je c t m a tte r t h a t boded w ell f o r th e th e o r ie s o f th e more s e l f conscious Im a g ists, Amy Low ell,
and John Gould F le to h e r.
With
Edgar Lee M asters' The Spoon R iver Anthology in 1915, C arl Sandburg's
Chicago Poems, 1916, and v a rio u s works o f "H.D." and J . G, F le tc h e r from
1913 on, th e " re v o lt a g a in s t th e trammels" was com plete.
The sh ib b o le th s
of " fre e v e r s e ," "v e rs l i b r e ." "imagism," " v o rtic is m ," and "polyphonic
p rose" re ig n e d , and Stedm an's anthology o f American po ets up t o 1900 was
c o n sid e re d , a s P a tte e has pointed o u t, a "G argantual c o lle c tio n o f medioc­
r i t y and m o ra liz in g ."1 And th e te n y ears from 1900 t o about 1910 were
a ls o considered a v o id .
Only Whitman, out o f th e f a r th e r p a s t, and Emily
D ickinson and Stephen Crane out of th e more immediate p a s t ~
both th e
l a t t e r were s t i l l a b i t e s o te r ic — had th e re s p e c t of th e "new movement."
Behind i t a l l was th e lon g -h eld American assum ption t h a t a t some tim e , in
some way, th e re would be a v ig o ro u s, f r e e , and untrammeled ex p ressio n o f
American l i f e in th e American language.
Such a movement was bound t o a t t r a c t Mary A u stin , a l e r t a s she was
t o a l l i n t e l l e c t u a l c u rre n ts and convinced more d eep ly perhaps th a n anybody
e ls e in America o f th e need f o r an indigenous American c u l t u r a l e x p re ssio n .
The e a r l i e r sig n s of a p o e tic r e v iv a l, Theodore R o o se v e lt's p ra is e o f Rob­
in s o n 's t h i r d volume, The Town Down th e R iv er, 1910, and th e sen sa tio n
caused by Vaohel Lindsay as he brought p o e try back t o th e people w ith h is
c h a n tin g s, must c e r ta in l y have caught h e r a tte n tio n as omens o f a g reat
s tirrin g .
In 1911, she l a t e r p ro fe sse d , she play ed a t r i c k on im p ero ip ien t
F . L. P a tte e , The New Amerioan L i te r a tu r e ;
London, 1930), p . 270.
A Survey (New York and
208
managers t h a t -was w orthy o f th e French S ym bolist, M. P au l F o rt; she
p rin te d th e fr e e v e rse o f The Arrow Maker a s prose when h e r managers
2
o b jected t o h er f r e e p o etio form .
Indeed, when she came t o w rite h er
autobiography in 1934, she even a s s e rte d t h a t as e a r ly a s 1904, in an
ad d ress t o th e E n g lish Club of S tan fo rd U n iv e rs ity , she had p o in ted out
t h a t Amerind forms would soon im pel th e American p o e tic consciousness
tow ards th e use o f an unrhymed, fre e p o e tic form, and th e use o f a c r is p
imagery lik e th a t in Japanese and Amerind p o e try .
made ex p o st f a c to .
Her claim s were probably
At any r a t e , by th e tim e th e "re n aissan c e " was in f u l l
bloom, she was a rd e n tly a s s e r tin g t h a t a l l th e new tech n iq u es and d isc o v e rie s
were b u t devices o f Amerind p o e try , and t h a t i f she had been lis te n e d t o ,
American p o e try would have found i t s e l f much sooner.
The co n sp iracy of
s ile n o e a g a in s t h e r , she f e l t , was due t o th e m e tro p o litan b ia s a g a in s t
th in g s t r u l y American.
The American Rhythm, th e n , published f i r s t in 1923, had been in her
mind f o r some y e a rs .
She had w r itte n some f r e e v erse as e a r ly a s 1911.
W illiam A rcher, a d v iso r o f her The Arrow Maker, was much in te r e s te d in h er
th e o r ie s and encouraged h e r in th e ex p ressio n of them , a s d id Bernard Shaw,
who had heard h er le c tu re in England on th e s u b je c t o f "an American rhythm"
in 1921.
S h o rtly a f t e r th e deepening of h er i n t e r e s t in th e Southwest and
2
Clement Wood, Poets o f America (New York, 1925), p . 225, r e l a t e s
an anecdote about M. F o r t, who, t o p a c ify e d i t o r s , sim ply p rin te d h is fre e
v e rse a s p ro se . M rs. A ustin r e l a t e s a s im ila r c lev e rn e ss on h er p a r t (w ith­
out m ention of M. F ort} in E a rth H orizon, p . 315. Her a s s e r tio n t h a t she
b r i l l i a n t l y outdid h er managers, however, i s n o t w e ll supported by th e
evidence as i s shown in th e d is c u s s io n of The Arrow Maker, above, C hapter I I I .
5 See Mary A u stin , E a rth Horizon (Boston and New York, 1932), p . 315.
p . 344.
209
a f t e r Wo. 26^ Jayne S tr e e t (1920) had had so co ld a re c e p tio n , she tu rn e d
t o th e -w riting of The American Rhythm.
For a l l i t s f a u l t s , i t i s Mrs.
A u s tin ’s most c h a r a c te r is tic book; i t i s th e one most o fte n in clu d ed in
g e n eral b ib lio g ra p h ie s of Amerioan l i t e r a t u r e , and in many cases th e only
one.^
Mrs. A u stin ’s enthusiasm f o r an indigenous c u ltu r a l e x p ressio n was
no doubt p a r t i a l l y th e cause o f Lewis Mumford’s im plying in 1926 t h a t th e r e
was muoh hope f o r America in th e work o f Sandburg, Lindsay, and Mary A ustin.®
For The Amerioan Rhythm i s an elo q u en t p le a , ad d ressed to both th e u n le tte re d
and th e l e t t e r e d , fo r re c o g n itio n o f th e f a c t t h a t f i n a l l y America had be­
come fre e of Europe; i t i s a kind o f fe rv e n t clim ax to th e lo n g -h eld hope
of th e achievement of c u ltu r a l independence, a lo g ic a l r e s u l t o f "The Amer­
ic a n S cholar" and 'Whitman's "As a S trong Bird on P inions Free" (1872).
Its
aura o f re b e llio u s n e s s a g a in s t "the f e t t e r s th a t chafe and r e s t r a i n t " and
o f co n fid e n t hope in a f r e s h ly sin g in g indigenous p o e try , makes i t c h a ra c te r­
i s t i c a l l y American and no doubt accounts fo r i t s com paratively high p o p u la rity
among Mary A u s tin 's works.
For th e stu d en t o f Mary A u stin , The American Rhythm stan d s out among
h e r w ritin g s a ls o because i t i s th e most c h a r a c te r is tic and th e f u l l e s t
e x p o sitio n o f h e r idea t h a t America needed a new r e lig io n and a e s t h e t ic s ,
bo th o f which she f e l t could be found in th e Amerind c u ltu r a l complex.
O sten sib ly a te c h n ic a l t r e a t i s e d e a lin g w ith p o e tic form s, a c tu a lly th e
le n g th y c h a p te rs which serve as p re fa ce to h er "re -e x p re ssio n s" of Amerind
4
S ee, fo r example, th e g en eral b ib lio g ra p h ie s in Jay B. H ubbell,
e d ito r , American L ife in L ite r a tu r e (two volumes in one), (New York, 1936);
H. R. 1/fe.rfel, R. H. G a b rie l, S ta n le y T. W illiam s, e d ito r s , The Amerioan
Mind; S_electians_ from th e L ite r a tu r e of th e U nited S ta te s (New York, C inc in n a t i . » • , 1937).
® Lewis Mumford, The Golden Day (New York, 1926), p . 273.
210
poems, a re a p ro fe ssio n o f f a i t h in th e wholeness of th e p r im itiv e ’s
way o f l i f e .
The Amerioan Rhythm begins by seeking to r e - e s t a b lis h th e importance
of rhythm in man’s l i f e .
B a s ic a lly p h y s io lo g ic a l, rhythm a r i s e s out o f th e
fu n c tio n in g o f th e organs of th e body.
But i t i s a ls o an in s tin c tiv e or
in h e rite d c a p a c ity , and any p e o p le ’s rhythm io re s o u rc e s , she h o ld s ,a re an
in h e rita n c e from th re e a c t i v i t i e s :
communal la b o r, th e " s o c ia l h a b it ," and
th e r e lig io u s h a b it — th e p a tte rn "by which men re c o n c ile d them selves t o
A llness."®
Mrs. A u stin , in v e ry b r i e f n o te s , gives a clu e t o h e r c r i t i c j
she i s lo o se ly follow ing th e now su sp ect " in s tin c t " psychology o f MacDougall
and th e "fo lk " psychology of Wundt.
In both w rite rs she undoubtedly found
j u s t i f i c a t i o n o f h e r fundam ental n o tio n t h a t any in d iv id u a l
i s a kind o f r e ­
p o s ito ry of a l l th e wisdom and experience of h is
h e r th e o rie s o f
ra c e .
A ll
"genius" and o f th e power of th e subconsoious were p re d ic a te d upon a lik e
psychology, w ith the a d d itio n o f C arl Jung’s th e o ry o f "a rc h e ty p e s,"
Such
complete acceptance of unproved th e o r ie s o f psychology, however, was n o t
n e c e ssa ry to th e th e s i s o f h er book, which i s a s
fo llo w s:
Given a new e a r th t o liv e on, new a tta c k s on th e m astery of tim e
and space, and a whole new sca le of motor im pulses is b u i l t in to th e
subconscious s tru c tu re of th e in d iv id u a l. Given a new e x p e r ie n tia l
a d a p ta tio n of s o c ia l mechanisms, and a l l th e emotive and c o g n itiv e
processes s e t them selves to i t s tu n e . Given, as happened in th e
U nited S ta te s , an em otional k ic k away from th e old h a b its of work
and s o c ie ty , and a new rhythm ic b a s is o f p o e tic ex p ressio n is n o t
only to be looked f o r , but i s t o be welcomed. I t becomes evidence
of th e e x te n t to which th e American experience has " ta k e n ," among
th e w idely varying r a c i a l s tr a in s t h a t make up i t s p e o p le .?
Mary A u stin , The Amerioan Rhythm, New and enlarged e d itio n (Boston
and New York, 1930), p . 9. The f i r s t e d itio n (New York, 1923) co n tain s
n o th in g n o t c a r rie d over in to th e en larg ed e d itio n .
^ A u stin , The American Rhythm (1930), p . 9.
ences a re t o th e 1930 e d itio n .
A ll subsequent r e f e r ­
211
F or, i f rhythm ic resp o n ses a re b a s ic a lly p h y s io lo g ic a l, and i f every
in d iv id u a l 1m s , in h is subconsoiousness, th e f u l l s to re o f a l l h is r a c e 's
ex p erien ce, i t does n o t a t a l l fo llo w th a t a changed environment w i l l b rin g
a changed p a tte r n o r order of rhythm ic ex p re ssio n .
Assinning t h a t a new environm ental in flu e n c e may b u ild " in to th e sub­
conscious s tru c tu re o f th e in d iv id u a l" a "whole new s c a le o f motor im p u lses,"
Mrs. A ustin assumes f u r th e r th a t th e a b o rig in e s s t i l l c a rry w ith in them­
selv e s th e rhythm ic modes t h a t a re r ig h t f o r in h a b ita n ts of t h i s c o n tin e n t,
and th a t th e Anglo-Americans and o th e r European peoples in our la n d , a l l
tra n s p la n te d , w i l l , as th e y a d ju s t them selves t o t h i s environm ent, have t o
adopt th e Amerind rhythm s.
And she n o t only argues t h a t th e y w i l l have to
do so; she a ls o argues t h a t th e y have a lre a d y begun t o do so .
The American
Rhythm, th e n , i s l i t t l e more th a n v ery i l l o g i c a l argument t o prove t h a t v e rs
lib r e i s th e p roper p o e tic rhythm f o r American e x p re ssio n ; and t h a t i f Amer­
ic an s had lis te n e d to Mary A u stin th e y could have found t h e i r p ro p er medium
of ex p ressio n long ago.
S c a tte re d throughout The American Rhythm a re numerous com plaints
a g a in s t what th e a u th o r denominates th e "rhythms o f p r iv i le g e ."
To h e r ,
a l l th e European rhythm ic modes a re f a ls e because th e y were imposed upon
th e p e o p le.
The E ng lish forms a t th e b eginning of th e American e r a , she
h o ld s, were a l l d eriv e d from Greek, Roman, or Hebrew modes, were n o t in d ig e ­
nous, and were "g en e tic only as th e r e s u l t of a long se le c tio n ."®
She holds
t h a t th e modem d is tin c tio n between fo lk -so n g , fo lk -d an c e , and fo lk -m u sic,
on th e one hand, and more s o p h is tic a te d p ro d u cts on th e o th e r, in d ic a te s
8 I b i d . , p p. 1 0 -1 1 .
212
t h a t we a re now a t l a s t aware of a d iffe re n c e between indigenous c re a tio n s
and th e "superimposed f o r m s . E v e n in th e c re a tio n o f th e E nglish and
S c o ttis h popular b a lla d s , she sa y s, th e fo lk were th w a rte d .
A f o lk wishes
to use p o e try f o r " a ffe c tiv e " purposes; b u t even in fif te e n th - c e n tu r y
England "su p erio r s o c ia l c a s te s had usurped th e p e o p le d r ig h ts t o th e use
of p o e try as a_ means of communication w ith th e Al l n e s s .
The m ilita r y
c a s te , she h o ld s, to o k over th e o rig in a l communal use o f p o e try which was
to "energize th e plane of s o c ia lly d efen siv e and o ffen siv e a c t i v i t i e s " ;
th e p r i e s t l y c a s te took over "prayer p o e try . . .
p o e tic r i t e s f o r th e
c o o rd in a tio n o f th e group mind w ith G o d h e a d . T h u s th e b a lla d became a
" re c e ssiv e " form; th e people tu rn e d to lo c a l ev en ts and lo c a l heroes a f t e r
b ein g deprived o f th e tr u e uses of p o e try .
This th e o ry of a "gross u su rp a­
t i o n ," so re m in isc en t of R ousseau's ex p lan atio n of th e o rig in of p ro p e rty ,
is alm ost an obsession w ith Mrs. A u stin .
She even th in k s C haucer's and
S hakespeare's powers due t o th o se p e rio d ic " e n e rg iz a tio n s of th e common
thought" by which th e people a s s e r t them selves and a u th o rs overflow "the
c la s s ic molds and £makej new p a tte rn s of l i t e r a r y form ."
** ■
She speaks f r e -
q u e n tly of "th e C la ss ic m old," "the instrum ent o f a s e le c te d c l a s s ."
Mary A ustin seems to have been unaware of some p la in h i s t o r i c a l
lite ra ry fa c ts .
F i r s t of a l l , she appears n o t to have known t h a t C la s s ic a l
p o e try follow ed a q u a n tita tiv e p rin c ip le of m eter, w hile European v e rn a cu la r
p o e try follow ed th e q u a lita tiv e ; she complains o f C la s s ic a l "iambs" and th e
" C la s s ic a l" bonds o f rhyme, unaware o f th e f a c t t h a t rhyme i t s e l f and th e
9 I b id . , p . 11.
10
i d . , p. 22.
11 T
I bVid. .
213
iamb o f q u a lita tiv e s tr e s s were an indigenous development away from C la s s i­
cism .
As an a u th o rity sa y s , "Rhyme was n o t in use as an a ccesso ry to m etre
in L a tin t i l l th e q u a n tita tiv e p rin c ip le had given way to th e a c c e n tu a l
p rin c ip le in th e l a t e r hymns of th e Church, and i t has passed thenoe in to
a l l European systems of m e tre ."12
Nor was Mrs. A u stin aw are, a p p a re n tly ,
t h a t Chaucer and Shakespeare broke no " c ru sts o f C lassicism "} ra th e r th e y
used mediums prepared f o r them by a u th o rs working in th e v e rn a c u la r.
She
in d ic a te s t h a t she b e lie v e s th e tro c h e e th e indigenous E n g lish m eter ~
"the lu b -dub, lub-dub of th e heavy-footed N o rd ic s," as she p o e tic a lly p u ts
i t ; th e f a c t i s t h a t tro c h e e s were n ev er used in E n g lish u n t i l l a t e in th e
s ix te e n th c e n tu r y .1^
I f by "troch ee" she means r e a l l y a f a l l i n g m eter, in
c o n tra s t to a r is in g one, th e n indigenous E n g lish v e rs e , th e v erse o f Beow u lf, has about equal balance between m e tric a l f e e t of f a l l i n g and r is in g
q u a lity , and h e r p o in t i s s t i l l wrong.
To h e r, tro c h e e s were v e rse " u n fa lle n ,
u n o u rs t," and iambs re p re se n te d a b a le f u l C la s s ic a l in flu e n c e .
In s h o r t,
in a l l h er c o n sta n t com plaining about "Greek and Roman form s," she i s q u ite
u n c r i t i c a l l y posing every h i s t o r i c a l and t r a d i t i o n a l form (w hether in C la s ­
s i c a l languages or v e rn a c u la r) as something a r t i f i c i a l over a g a in s t a hypo­
t h e t i c a l f o lk indigenousness which she can n ev er put h e r fin g e r on, bu t
which she vaguely suggests i s in h e re n t in th e rhythmB of f r e e v e rs e .
^ J . Sohipper, H isto ry of E n g lish V e r s if ic a tio n (O xford, 1910),
p . 11; see a ls o R. M. A lden, E nglish Verse (New York, 1926), pp. 123-125.
J . S chipper, op. c i t . , p . 242. E a r li e r in th e e ss a y , Mrs. A u stin
a t t r i b u t e s th e tro c h a ic measure t o th e "lu b -dub" o f th e h e a r t- b e a t, which
makes i t d i f f i c u l t to understand why th e tro c h e e i s any more indigenous t o
th e E ng lish th a n to th e Japanese or P atag o n ian s.
214
The h e s t q u a lity of The American Rhythm i s i t s unconscious p o e try ,
i t s eloquence.
Streams of rhythmio s ig h ts and sounds flowed in upon th e "becoming
ra c e of Americans from every n a tu r a l f e a t u r e . The g re a t h e g ira from
n o rth e rn and c e n tr a l Europe had been la r g e ly m otivated by the d e s ir e
to escape from th e over-humanized a sp e c ts o f th o se la n d s. There was
hunger in man f o r fre e flu n g mountain r id g e s , untrimmed f o r e s t s ,
evidence of s tr u c tu r e and growth. L ife s e t i t s e l f t o new p ro cessio n s
of seed tim e and h a rv e s t, th e sk in newly tuned to sea so n al v a r ia tio n s ,
th e v ery blood humming t o new a l t i t u d e s . The rhythm of w alking always
a reco g n izab le background fo r our th o u g h ts , a lte r e d from th e m i l i t a ­
r i s t i c s tr id e t o th e jo g o f th e w ide, u n ru tte d e a r th . E x p lo rer, f u r t r a d e r , K ing's a g e n t, whoever f o r th re e c e n tu rie s follow ed i t , must
have o a rrie d a reoord of i t s fo o t work in h is walk, a w ider swing
and reco v ery to h is mind. As th e p io n eer tr a c k made w estw ard-flow ing
p a tte r n s , th e rhythm of horseback r id i n g , of a r i s e and f a l l d i s t i n c ­
t i v e l y o f th e American c o n tin e n t, superseded th e fo o t pace. Now and
th e n one picks i t up in th e work of Vachel Lindsay and C a rl Sandburg,
and n o t only th e saddle jo g , b u t th e u n in te rm itte n t clu ck and r o l l of
th e Overland F ly e r . ^
But even more e n te r ta in in g , alth o u g h n o t co n v in cin g , i s th e way in which
Mrs. A ustin accounts fo r th e rhythms o f Abraham L in o o ln 's p ro se .
L incoln
"had been so shaped t o th e w ild e rn e ss tr a c k t h a t h is every p u b lic u t t e r ­
ance, h is homely aneodotes, even, were haunted by i t s rhythms."^®
" . . .
speaking from th e innerm ost in n e r man, he f e l l unoonsciously in to th e s tr i d e
o f one w alking a woodland p a th w ith an ax on h is sh o u ld er. . . .
th e r a i l
s p l i t t e r a r r iv e s a t h is goal w ith th e up-swing and th e dow n-stroke. . . .
And th e ax comes t o r e s t on th e chopping log w hile a new le n g th i s m easured.
And Mrs. A ustin proceeds to m isquote th e famous l a s t lin e s o f "The G etty s­
burg A ddress" a s evidence o f her a ffirm a tio n t h a t i t re v e a ls the rhythms of
w alking in th e woods w ith an ax, o f chopping wood, and of r e s t in g t o measure
14 A u stin , The American Rhythm, p . 14.
15 I b id . , p . 15.
16 I b i d ., p . 16.
215
a new le n g th . 17
She a ls o a s s e r ts t h a t in looking back in to one o f h e r own
d e s e rt books, " w ritte n e ig h te en y ears a g o ," she has d isco v ered "th e f i r s t
paragraph s tr ik in g w ith o u t in te n tio n in to th e ir r e g u la r tu g and re le a s e
of th e fo u r horse Mojave stag e and o f th e eighteen-m ule borax team . . . •"
The follow ing sp e c u la tio n im m ediately occurs to h e r:
"Probably th e deep
s e l f from which p o e try sp rin g s p ick s up a new rhythm v e ry q u ick ly when th e re
i s l i t t l e or no expenditure o f p h y s ic a l energy, and th e psyche i s fr e e to
concern i t s e l f w ith wonder and delight."'*-®
Then sp e c u la tio n runs r i f e .
L incoln’ s fre e rhythm s, she h o ld s , p ick in g up n a tu r a lly th e rhythms of th e
woodland l i f e he knew, a re a f t e r a l l bu t th e rhythms t h a t show o fte n in ora­
to r y when a people a re aro u sed , a s th e y w ere, fo r example, "in Prance a f t e r
th e fu ry o f th e re v o lu tio n , and in th e emerging democracy of la te V ic to ria n
tim e s ."19
Dickens, moved by "th e dem ocratic s p i r i t , th e s p i r i t o f th e f e l ­
lowship o f f o lk ," " f e l l in to th o se measures t h a t th e Frenoh . . .
c a lle d , though n o t th e f i r s t t o use them , v e rs l i b r e .
th e n , becomes t h i s :
firs t
Her h y p o th e sis,
in any g re a t popular s t i r r i n g , th e rhythms o f o ra to ry
and of speech become f r e e .
"A ll such movements in Europe have one th in g in
common w ith th e American movement:
They re p re se n t th e rhythm o f men a tte m p t­
ing t o move co n ce rte d ly from t h e i r own base r a th e r th a n t o be waved forward
17 The m isquotations a re n o t s e r io u s . This w r it e r would n o t have
n o tic e d them but f o r a comment in Bernard de Voto, Forays and R e b u ttals
(B oston, 1936), pp. 165-167.
The American Rhythm, pp. 14-15.
19 I b id ., p . 16.
20
I b i d ., p . 1 7 .
216
and back by th e batons o f kings and academ ies. "21 a p re c is e tre atm en t o f
a l l th e hypotheses and sp e c u la tio n s which Mrs. A u stin h ere v en tu res in v o lv es
so much d e t a i l th a t d isc u ssio n must be given in
a n a p p e n d i x . 22
t h i s much o f in c o n siste n c y can be p o in ted out now.
N e v e rth e le ss,
L in c o ln 's rhythms a re
f r e e v e rs e ; Mrs. A u s tin 's rhythms a re fr e e v e rs e ; b u t L in c o ln 's rhythms a re
th o se of a w oodcutter, Mrs. A u s tin 's of th e eighteen-m ule borax team ; and
y e t a l l th e se dem ocratic rhythms have something in common w ith th e rhythms
of a l l exponents of democracy or o f "th e s p i r i t o f th e fello w sh ip o f f o lk ."
How, one a s k s , in d e sp e ra tio n , may a rhythm be
f r e e , th e rhythm o f v e rs
l i b r e , and a t th e same tim e be pinned down t o th e o ccu p atio n al rhythms o f
w oodcutting o r hauling borax or haranguing a crowd in th e P lace de la Conoorde?
A v e ry im portant p a r t of The Amerioan Rhythm i s concerned w ith th e
a s s e r tio n th a t p o e try was, by o rig in and in i t s prim ary use by th e a b o rig in e s ,
a f f e c tiv e r a th e r th an e f f e c tiv e .
Of th e r e a l i t y of a s ta t e which she c a l l s
"group-mindedness" she i s convinced; th e p rim itiv e s had i t .
P r a c tic a lly
a l l of p rim itiv e p o e try was but a p a rt of r i t u a l "by which th e psychio l i f e
o f th e t r i b e fwas^ c o o rd in a te d ,"23
plane by p la n e , t o th e p itc h
an attem p t t o r a is e th e "psychic s t a t e s ,
of communion w ith th e F rie n d -o f-th e -S o u l-o f-
Man by means of which cures a re e f f e c t e d ."24
t e r i a o f good p o e try a re as fo llo w s:
tio n ?
does i t make fo r " c o lle c tiv e r e a liz a ­
does i t c re a te a " c o lle c tiv e s t a t e . . .
i s i t " s p i r i t u a l l y a f f e c tiv e " ?
21
p le a su ra b ly e n tered in to " ?
The dance and p o e try o rig in a te d because
I b id . , p . 17.
22 See Appendix I I I .
The American Rhythm, p. 21.
24 I b i d ., p . 20.
p or jfa.s . A u stin , th e tr u e c r i ­
217
Dawn Man “blundered in to th e discov ery t h a t , w ith rhythm ic movements and
n o is e s , power came to him, and he could f in d r e l i e f "when he f e l t h e lp le s s
or fragm entary, when he f e l t d is lo c a te d in h is
u n i v e r s e . "25
But b e fo re s p i r i t u a l " a ffe c tiv e n e s s " can be achieved th e r e must be
p re s e n t c e r ta in s u b je c tiv e powers, e s p e c ia lly th e c a p a c ity fo r c o o rd in a tin g
i n t r i c a t e and complex rhythm s, and a ls o an o b je c tiv e c o o rd in a tio n .
Conse­
q u e n tly , Mrs., A u stin th in k s , a l l th e mimetic a c t i v i t i e s engaged in by In d i­
ans in th e c u rre n t Pueblo r a in dances a re a p e rfe c t example o f A r is to te lia n
im ita tio n # 26
A r i s t o t l e , she h o ld s, was c lo se enough in tim e to t h i s " e a rly
source of tr a g ic drama" t o r e a liz e i t as "an attem pt to understand th e
U niverse, t o get in s id e by doing as i t d o e s ."2^
P rim itiv e man, she w r ite s ,
when he wished r a i n , " se t up w ith in h is own consciousness th e utm ost in te n ­
s i t y o f r e a liz a tio n of r a in of which he was c a p a b le ,"28
v e ry h e a r t of A r i s t o t l e ’s im ita tio n , 'a "m aking."
and t h i s was th e
And from t h i s p o in t, M rs.
A u stin goes on t o p re sen t an eloquent p le a f o r some such s o rt o f rhythmic
c o o rd in a tio n in modem l i f e , some " p o e tic orgy" t o te ac h good c itiz e n s h ip ,
t o c o n so lid a te democracy, t o l i f t th e p lan e of "group co n scio u sn ess," t o
f o r e s t a l l i n e r t i a , to te a c h a group-mindedness which has not th e d e p lo ra b le
q u a litie s o f mob-mindedness.
C onsequently, one i s alm ost prepared t o a c c e p t
h e r f i n a l statem en t th a t "the Amerindian dance drama i s th e beginning o f
a
OK
6 I b i d . , p . 26.
26
27
For f u l l e r d isc u ssio n of Mrs. A u s tin 's comparison, see Appendix IV.
The American Rhythm, p . 35.
28 I b id .
29 I b i d«» P. 37.
,,29
most s o p h is tic a te d p r a c t i c e — th e p ra c tic e o f group rhythm ic e x e rc ise s
■which would, as P la to f e l t , teaoh th e meaning o f our experience in terras
of a o tiv ity .
The l a s t s e c tio n o f th e p re fa to ry c h ap te r “The American Phythm" ta k e s
th e re a d e r d e f in ite ly in to some te c h n ic a l a sp e c ts o f Amerind v e rs e ,
Amerind
p o e try , she sa y s, “p re s e n ts i t s e l f as th r e e - p lie d movement and melody and
w ords."3® She d e sc rib e s a ty p ic a l Corn Dance o f th e P ueblos, w ith i t s fun­
damental drum b e a ts , i t s knee and arm r a t t l e s , i t s numerous se p a ra te rhythms
c o o rd in a ted , i t s group o f e ld e rs huddled a t th e sid e p ra y e rfu lly sin g in g .
I t is a l l an a f f e c tiv e f e r t i l i t y r i t e , "designed to b rin g r a in and good
growing w eather t o th e sp ro u tin g crops'.'**}— a f a c t which i s o fte n lo s t s ig h t
of in in v e s tig a to r s ' r e p o rts and in t r a n s la t io n s .
The t r a n s l a t o r o f th e
p oetry involved in such a ceremony, she h o ld s, should f i r s t e s ta b lis h th e
fundamental rhythm, th e n b rin g in as many o f th e c o n trib u to ry rhythms a s he
can h an d le, and th e n put in as much of mimesis "as i s d e s c r ip tiv e ly an a id
t o r e a liz a tio n ." * ^
ih e u n ta n g lin g of words and melody, she say s, i s th e
g re a te s t problem of a l l , sin c e th e two elem ents seem t o sp rin g sim ultaneously
in th e mind of th e In d ia n p o e t.
The melodic lin e and rhythm ic p a tte rn of
melodic elem ents w ill always seem t o th e u n in itia te d more im portant th a n th e
words, sin ce th e words seem t o a d ap t them selves t o th e melody and many words
a re m eaningless vocables designed t o f i l l out th e m elodic lin e .
29
I b id . , p. 37.
30 I b i d ., p . 46.
The melody,
th e r e f o r e , cannot he n e g le c te d in l y r i c t r a n s l a t i o n , sin ce i t is th e mold
of form, "th e m a trix o f stan za a r r a n g e m e n t . s h e holds t h a t a t le a s t
two o f h er own "re -e x p re ssio n s" reproduoe th e melodic p a tte rn s o f th e o r ig i­
n a ls w ithout v a r ia tio n .
Furtherm ore, she recommends N a ta lie C u rtis B u rlin 's
t r a n s la t io n s u n re se rv e d ly .
Then Mrs. A u s tin 's thought ta k e s an alm ost in e x p lic a b le tu r n .
Hav­
ing adm itted t h a t form in In d ian p o e try re s id e s in th e melodic l i n e , having
given p ra is e t o N a ta lie C u rtis fo r a d h erin g t o th e melodic l i n e , and having
c ite d two examples of her own work where she does th e same, she tu rn s and
advocates "re -e x p re ssio n s" which n e g le c t a l l th e r i t u a l i s t i c p a tte r n s , th e
r e p e titio u s v o c a b le s, and a l l o th e r form al elem en ts.
A t r a n s l a t o r 's f i r s t
c a r e , she w r ite s , "would be t o s ta te th e experience i t s e l f , u s u a lly by
s t a t i n g i t s most im portant re a c tio n on h im se lf.
To t h i s he would add no
more th a n he found a b s o lu te ly n ecessary by way of d e s c rip tiv e and a s s o c ia ­
t i v e p h ra se s, t o d efine th e p ath of th e experience through h is own conscious­
n e s s . A l i c e F le tc h e r 's "adm irable" work on th e Bako Ceremony, she sa y s,
i s n e v e rth e le s s done a s an Americanly educated In d ian would have done i t —
keeping th e m elodic l i n e , accounting f o r every f r a c tio n of tim e w ith in th e
m elodic m easure, and re p la c in g th e m eaningless vocables in th e m elodic lin e
■with m eaningful E nglish words.
But a tru e In d ia n poet n o t b iased by h is
knowledge o f E n g lish , would use a q u ite d if f e r e n t method from t h a t o f Mrs.
F le tc h e r , t h a t i s , th e method o f re -e x p re ss io n advocated by Mrs. A u stin .
D etailed study of A lic e F le to h e r 's tr a n s la t i o n of The Hako, an elab o ­
r a t e Pawnee ceremony w ith much r i t u a l , dance, end p o e try , and o f th e now
220
well-known tr a n s la t io n s o f N a ta lie C u rtis B u rlin show t h a t Mrs. F le tc h e r
and Mrs. B u rlin a re in e s s e n tia l agreement and t h a t Mrs. A u s tin 's c r i t i ­
cisms of Mrs. F le tc h e r 's method a re l i t t l e more th a n a defence of h er own
p r a c tic e .
Mrs. F le tc h e r and Mrs. B u rlin a p p a re n tly , in every case examined,
keep th e melodic lin e ; th e y s u b s titu te an E n g lish s y lla b le f o r ev ery s in g le
rhythm ic u n it in t h e i r o r ig in a ls ; th e y o fte n come out w ith p e r f e c tly regu­
la r E nglish iam bics; th e y render p r a c t i c a l l y every m eaningless In d ian voc­
a b le w ith a m eaningful E n g lish s y lla b le o r word; and th e y allo w r i t u a l i s t i c
r e p e titio n s in th e o r ig in a ls t o d ic ta te s ta n z a ic p a tte r n in t h e i r ren d er­
in g s — a l l in d ir e c t c o n tra d ic tio n o f Mrs. A u s tin 's recommendations.
Form
in In d ia n p o e try would alm ost e n tir e ly d isap p e a r i f M rs. A u s tin 's p ra c tic e
were followed in s te a d o f th e p ra c tic e o f h e r p red ecesso rs in th e field.®®
Mrs. A u stin , as sa id b e fo re , does n o t c r i t i c i z e Mrs. B u rlin 's
method, a p p a re n tly on th e score t h a t Mrs. B u rlin d e a lt m ainly w ith l y r i c s ,
whereas Mrs. A u stin is c r i t i c a l of Mrs. F le tc h e r 's method.
Mrs. F le tc h e r,
however, tr a n s l a t i n g from a rig o ro u s ly r i t u a l i s t i c work, i s perhaps more
j u s t i f i e d in keeping to th e r ig id rh y th m ical p a tte r n and melodic lin e than
is Mrs. B u rlin , who is concerned la rg e ly w ith is o la te d or n o n -c y c lic a l
ly ric s .
Indeed, Mrs. A u s tin 's whole com plaint appears t o be b u t a prep ara­
ti o n fo r defence o f th e "glyph."
A "glyph,"®6 she w r ite s , i s made in th e v e ry manner she has j u s t o u t-
35 See Appendix V f o r a f u l l d is c u s s io n o f t h i s p o in t and of F le tc h e r 's
and B u rlin ’ s methods o f t r a n s l a t i o n .
36 "Glyph" l i t e r a l l y i s an a rc h a e o lo g ic a l term meaning p ic to g ra p h or
h ie ro g ly p h . Mrs. A u stin d e fin e s i t a s "a ty p e o f Amerind song which is ly r ic
in i t s em otional q u a lity and y e t cannot be com pletely expressed by th e simple
ly r ic c ry ." - - The American Rhythm, p. 53. She has p u t a p i c t o r i a l term t o
lite r a r y use.
221
lin e d .
P i c t o r i a l l y , th e Indian gives a few sug g estio n s o f d e t a i l and
"around th e whole, bin d in g them th e d e ta i ls
e f f o r t of a tte n tio n , he draws a l i n e . "37
irre v o c a b ly t o a sin g le
giie u ses th e well-known Thunder-
b ird desig n of Pueblo p o tte ry in i l l u s t r a t i o n .
Her tr a n s la t io n , "The Magic
R ibbon," shows how th e same device o p e ra tes in a poem:
A g i r l w earing a green rib b o n , —
As i f i t had been my g i r l .
— The green ribbon I gave h e r f o r remembrance —
Knowing a l l th e tim e i t m s n o t my g i r l ,
Such was th e magic of t h a t rib b o n ,
Suddenly,
My g i r l e x iste d in s id e meJ®®
Mrs. A u s tin ’s e x p la n a tio n , b r i e f l y , i s a s fo llo w s:
Washoe C h a r lie ’ s g i r l
went away t o In d ian sch o o l, w earing a green ribbon which C h arlie had given
h e r f o r remembrance.
"A few days l a t e r , w hile h is lo s s was s o r e s t, he had
a glim pse of a n o th er g i r l w earing an id e n ti c a l green rib b o n .
Any lo v e r w i l l
u n d erstan d what happened t o C h a rlie , though a s he expressed i t in th e song . • •
w hole, as i t occurred t o him, th e r e were only h a lf as many words a s I have
put in to i t :
’The Green rib b o n , when I saw a g i r l w earing i t , my g i r l ex­
is te d in s id e m e.’
magic rib b o n .
One touch more C h arlie added by c a ll in g h is song th e
The r e s t any Washoe was supposed t o u n d erstan d by th e l ik e ­
ness o f a l l Washoe lovers t o one a n o th e r ."39
And th e n , quoting a poem of Stephen C rane, Mrs. A u stin makes th e
c le a r e s t and most unchallengeable p o in t in h er -whole essay :
37
38
The American Rhythm, p . 51.
P« 107•
39 I b i d . , pp. 52-53.
”1 looked here
I looked th e re
Nowhere could I see my lo v e ,
And - t h i s tim e She was in my h e a r t.
T ruly th e n , I have no com plaint,
For though she be f a i r and f a i r e r ,
She is n o t so f a i r a s she
In my h e a r t.
The poem i s a "gly p h ," v ery s im ila r t o Washoe C h a r lie ’s "Magic Ribbon" as
rendered by M rs. A u stin .
In w ritin g t h i s , Stephen Crane, she s a y s, "was
n e a re r th e p o e tic modes o f th e Rio Grande country th a n any w h ite man has
been s i n c e . W h e t h e r one agrees t o c a l l C rane’ s poem a "glyph" or n o t,
whether Crane was o r was n o t in flu en ced c o n sc io u sly or unco n scio u sly by
In d ia n p o e tic modes, or whether th e poem proves or does no t prove Mrs.
A u s tin 's th e o ry t h a t th e landscape and th e environment w ill have t h e i r way
w ith a fre e people — C ran e's poem i s rem arkably lik e Mrs. A u s tin 's "g ly p h ."
A fte r a g ain emphasizing her th e o ry t h a t th e landscape stamps i t s
p a tte r n s in to our consciousness, and t h a t th e deep la y e rs of consciousness
l a t e r b rin g th e s e p a tte rn s in to rhythmic p la y in any a e s th e tic a c t i v i t y , Mrs
A u stin re a ffirm s h er f a i t h in th e lik e n e ss o f c u rre n t v erse t o Amerind v e rse
" . . . a l l our re c e n t p o e tic l i t e r a t u r e , " she sa y s, " i s touched w ith a pro
found n o s ta lg ia f o r those happy s ta t e s of r e c o n c ilia tio n w ith th e A llness
through group communion, which i t i s th e b u sin ess o f p o etry t o promote.
Then comes th e most b a f f lin g concept in h e r whole t r e a t i s e .
As i f
she r e a liz e d t h a t th e previous a ffirm a tio n was groundless w ith o u t pro o f of
a lik e n e s s in forms and th a t th e a ffirm a tio n was a f t e r a l l what she was
seeking to prove in her t r e a t i s e , she plunges a g a in in to te c h n ic a l m atters
of form .
"The d is p o s itio n o f th e a b o rig in a l poet i s t o arrange h is words
along w hat, fo r -want of a b e t t e r term , I have c a lle d th e landscape lin e ,
th e lin e shaped by i t s own in n e r n e c e s s i t i e s . "43 Again she r e f e r s to h er
id ea t h a t a p e rfe c t (h y p o th e tic a lly ) In d ian poet would omit a l l r i t u a l i s t i c
r e p e titio n and m eaningless vocables as u n im p o rtan t.
Mold or rh y th m -p attern ,
fo r h e r , and fo r th e a b o rig in a l p o e t, she s a y s, " e x is ts only as a p o in t of
r e s t fo r th e v e rse to flow in to and out o f a s a mountain stream flow s in
and out of r ip p le -lin k e d p o o ls.
I t i s t h i s leap of th e running stream of
p o e tic in s p ir a tio n from le v e l to le v e l, whose course cannot be determ ined
by anything except th e n a tu re of the ground tr a v e r s e d , which I have c a lle d
th e landscape l i n e .
The le n g th of th e le a p s , and th e sequence o f p a tte rn
re c u rre n ce s w i l l be conditioned by th e s u b je c tiv e ly co o rd in ated motor rhythms
a s s o c ia te d w ith th e p a r tic u la r em otional flow ."44
w r itin g .
T his i s elo q u en t i f tu r g id
But th e stu d en t who has been p a tie n tly aw aitin g some l ig h t upon
th e lik e n e ss of In d ian v erse forms t o modern v erse form s, who has found no
proof y e t except in th e one in sta n ce from Stephen C rane’ s v e rs e , and who has
expected t h a t th e key w ill l i e in th e "landscape li n e ," i s d isa p p o in te d .
For th e landscape lin e tu rn s out t o be n o th in g bu t "cadenced v erse" w ith an
fu sio n of imagism — something g ly p h ic .
in ­
The "landscape lin e " is n o th in g in ­
h e re n tly In d ia n , has n o th in g to do w ith rhythm ics d ic ta te d by th e co n to u rs
of the co u n try ; i t i s th e f r e e - v e r s i f i e r s 1 d e f in itio n of organic and n a tu ra l
rhythms and t h e i r e x p ressio n o f r e v o lt a g a in s t th e thraldom o f form al m e tric a l
224
p a tte r n s . 45
To fin d t h a t th e "landscape lin e " i s b u t sh eer freedom from prede­
term ined p a tte rn would n o t be d isa p p o in tin g in i t s e l f .
has led one to expect more.
But Mrs. A ustin
Her a s s e r tio n , e a r ly in h e r book, t h a t she
could d is tin g u is h songs of p la in s , d e s e r t, and woodlands In d ian s by th e i r
v ary in g landscape lines^® has le d th e re a d e r to expect a l i t e r a l "landscape
45
C f. , fo r example, P. F. Baum, P rin c ip le s o f E nglish V e rs ific a tio n
(Cambridge, M ass., 1922), p . 151: "There i s in every th o u g h t, however
sim ple or s u b tle , in every f e e lin g , however evanescent or profound, an in ­
h e re n t rhythm which is a m a te r ia l body t o th e th o u g h t's or em o tio n 's so u l.
This n a tiv e , in e v ita b le rhythm — one m ight c a l l i t th e rhythm j u s t e , th e
exact rhythm — i s th e only ex p ressio n fo r an i n t e l l e c t u a l or em otional
id e a ; a l l o th ers a re fo re ig n to i t , tyrannous u s u rp a tio n s , in a word, im­
p o s s ib le s u b s titu tio n s f o r i t . To a tte m p t, th e r e f o r e , t o tw is t th e se n a tu ­
r a l and exact rhythms t o th e form al predeterm ined p a tte r n s of t r a d i t i o n a l
v e r s i f i c a t i o n i s a s u ic id a l im p ertin en ce, foredoomed t o f a i l u r e . "
46 The American Rhythm, p . 19. The a s s e rtio n i s rep eated in h er
"John G. N e ih a rd t's Expression o f th e 'West," Southwest Review, X III (1928),
255-258, w ith th e added c a u tio n (o r b o a s t) : ^The marks o f t h i s d i s tin c tio n
are to o su b tle to d e fin e or d e s o rib e , b u t th e y do n o t f a i l " ( p .25 8 ). And she
goes on to say t h a t by th e s e in d e fin a b le and s u b tle c r i t e r i a she can always
t e l l "where, in re s p e c t to th e W estern scene, Mr. N e ih a rd t's heroes a r e ." ( i b i d .)
Since th e poem of N eihardt under c o n sid e ra tio n , "In d ian W ars," i s i n age-old
h e ro ic c o u p lets w ith well-managed enjambement and w e ll-v a rie d c ae su ra , i t
would appear t h a t th e "landscape lin e " had n o th in g w hatever t o do w ith form al
m e tric s or any measurable rhythm ical q u a lity . At th e same tim e , she says
t h a t S ta n le y V e s ta l's g r e a te s t shortcom ing i s h is f a ilu r e t o g e t th e sense of
th e background in to h is b a lla d s , th e sense o f "the n a tu r a l environm ent. • •
th e long mesa lin e s , th e sharp s k y lin e s , th e th re a te n in g oumbres." ( ib i d . ,
p . 257.) Likew ise, she w r ite s , "No one who read s th e Eako ceremony of th e
Pawnees, r e a liz in g t h a t th e Pawnee country is open, r o l l i n g p r d i r i e , l i f t i n g
tow ard long, le v e l mesas, can f a i l to be stru c k w ith th e way in which th e shape
of th e lin e s i s in flu en ced by th e contours o f th e c o u n try ." — "The Path on
th e Rainbow," D ia l. LXVI (1919), 570. I f N eihardt could get th e landscape lin e
in run-on h e ro ic c o u p lets and V e sta l could n o t get i t in b a lla d s ta n z a , obviously
M rs. A u s tin 's use o f th e word "rhythm" and o f th e te rm "landscape lin e " im p lies
som ething f a r more su b tle th a n form al m e tric s . She h e ars some oadence which
o rd in a ry m o rtals cannot h e a r , a cadence which runs under a l l e x te rn a l form s,
and may or may n o t e x i s t , a p p a re n tly , in blank v e r s e , fr e e v e rs e , run-on h e ro ic
c o u p le ts , or what n o t. But i f t h i s i s tr u e , what becomes o f h e r com plaint
th a t E nglish indigenous rhythms were a l l sp o iled by th e Greek and Roman u s u r­
p a tio n , by th e rhythms of p riv ile g e ? Why c o u ld n 't th e indigenous E nglish rhythm
or "landscape lin e " or cadence have gone on under th e Greek and Roman form s, as
she adm its th e "American" cadence runs under N e ih a rd t's h e ro ic c o u p le ts, a
"rhythm [o r m etrics} of p riv ile g e " i f ever th e r e was one?
225
lin e " — something determ inable by re fe re n o e t o landscape c o n to u rs.
Such
a re a d e r, o f c o u rse, i s open to th e charge o f th in k in g m echanically and
l i t e r a l l y ; and y e t he i s j u s t i f i e d in th in k in g t h a t th e v ery shape o f th e
poem on th e page — r e la tiv e lin e le n g th s , th e contours of th e sta n z a as
p r in te d , e t c . — was an elem ent in Mrs. A u s tin 's th e o ry .
"The fre e -v e rs e
movement in E ng lish i s m ainly a re tu rn to th e cadenced prose of th e seven­
te e n th cen tu ry w ith th e a d d itio n a l t r a i t o f th e appearance of v e r s e .
i s an im portant a d d itio n , however.
. • • th e p e c u lia r rhythm
This
I t involves a c a re fu l re c o g n itio n of
o f prose w ith th e s p a t i a l rhythm of v e r s e . " ^
Since th e " s p a tia l rhythm of v e rse" i s g e n e ra lly accepted as an in c re a s in g ly
im portant elem ent in v e rs e ,
AO
a read er may be excused fo r th in k in g th a t
Mrs. A ustin was working tow ards proof t h a t , fo r example, a d e s e rt I n d ia n 's
song would have th e " d e se rt" landscape l i n e , a shape and form whioh, tr a n s ­
la te d from In d ian g estu re and melodic l i n e , would appear upon th e p rin te d
page in E nglish in some recognizab le s p a t i a l rhythm or p a tte rn d if f e r e n t from
th e p a tte rn o f v e rse composed by, say, a woodlands In d ia n .
Of c o u rse , Mrs.
A ustin could s l i p through h er c r i t i c 's fin g e rs a t t h i s p o in t by i n s i s t i n g
t h a t in th e " s u b je c tiv e ly coordinated motor rhythms" th e landscape would
have had i t s e f f e c t .
N e v erth ele ss, she does n o t in d ic a te any o f th o se
e f f e c t s ; indeed, as so o fte n when her argument reach es th e p o in t where
something e n lig h te n in g and d e f in ite might be s a id about form, she r e t r e a t s
in to th e idea t h a t , sin ce landscape does have i t s way, we may expect a
47 Baum, op. c i t . , p . 152.
See th e r a th e r extreme statem ent o f th e im portance of "eye appeal"
in Robert Graves, "The F uture of th e A rt of P o e try ," Hogarth Essays (New
York, 1928), pp. 163-193.
226
lik e n e ss between modern and a b o rig in a l v e rs e , a lik e n e ss which c o n s is ts
chie-fly o f a search f o r community-mindedness and fo r a means o f g e ttin g
in to u ch w ith th e wakonda o r A lln e s s .
"It w ill . . .
She h e r s e l f p o in ts out h er weakness.
appear th a t what I have worked out so f a r r e f e r s r a th e r to
a b o rig in a l modes o f p o e tic r e a liz a t io n th a n t o l i t e r a r y form,"^®she say s,
f o r g e ttin g th a t h e r purpose has been to prove t h a t th e landscape d ic ta te s
form in a p e o p le 's a e s th e tic endeavors.
In ste a d o f proving t h a t p o in t, she
m erely argues t h a t , since th e In d ian s found c o n ta c t w ith wakonda and we need
th a t c o n ta c t, our forms and th e In d ia n s ' forms a r e , to some e x te n t, and w ill
in c re a s in g ly be, id e n tic a l.
The q u e stio n a r i s e s , th e n , why does M rs. A ustin always a t th e clim ax
of h e r arguments shy away from c o n sid e ra tio n s of form? Or why does she make
her "landscape lin e " so com pletely id e n tic a l w ith v e rs l i b r e ?
One c an n o t
escape th e su sp icio n th a t she does so sim ply because In d ian v e rs e , as she
knew, is much more h ig h ly p a tte rn e d and r ig i d in i t s forms th an she could
admit in h e r p a r tic u la r t h e s i s .
Or perhaps she was only r a tio n a liz in g a
d e sire t o prove th e worth of h e r "re -e x p re ssio n s" in co m p etitio n w ith th e
q u ite adequate and more fo rm ally exact tr a n s la t i o n s o f th e e th n o lo g is ts .
At any r a t e , Amerind p o e try does n o t appear t o have th e wido freedom
which M rs. A ustin im p lies t h a t i t i n s .
In v e s tig a to rs ad m it, of c o u rse, th a t
in choosing a fundam ental rhythm f o r h is e x p re ssio n , th e Amerind had a b so lu te
freedom; and Mrs. A ustin would say , undoubtedly, t h a t t h i s moment o f freedom
was what she to o r e f e r r e d t o when she m entioned th e landscape l i n e .
ta n g ib le rh y th m -p attern s appear to be f a i r l y r i g i d .
49
The American Hhythm, p . 5 7 .
But a l l
An alm ost p e rfe c t example
227
of how f a r a s tr a y a t r a n s l a t o r would go in fo llo w in g Mrs. A u s tin 's ad v ice
and assuming t h a t In d ia n v erse i s fre e v e rse and t h a t he need only r e - c r e a te
th e im pression th e In d ia n v erse makes upon him , i s o ffere d by Washington
M atthews' t r a n s la t io n of "The P ray er of th e F i r s t Dancers" from th e C ere­
mony of th e Might Chant (Navajo).®^
Likew ise, th e work of Miss lie H i e
B a m e s ^ o f th e U n iv e rsity of Kansas in d ic a te s t h a t "in crem en tal th o u g h trhythm s," sta n z a ic d iv is io n , o ccasio n al e la b o r a te ly rhymed stan za form s,
in te r n a l rhyme, assonance, e la b o ra te schemes o f r e p e titio n , even o c ca sio n al
iambic word rhythm, a l l e x is t in Indian p o e try , alth o u g h , by and la rg e ,
"few correspondences appear in th e v e r s i f i c a t i o n o f th e w hite r a c e . "52
Mrs.
A u stin was c e r ta in ly aware o f a l l t h a t Miss Barnes found in h e r study of
Ihdian v e rse form s.
Yet Mrs. A u stin could e s t a b li s h h e r fundam ental p o in t
and j u s t i f y h e r own p r a c tic e only by playing down th e form al elem ents of
Amerind v e rse and p la y in g up th e f r e e elem en ts.
For, o b v io u sly , i t i s a
m a tte r of p rid e to h e r t o prove t h a t th e fre e v e rse of th e n in e te e n -tw e n tie s ,
so h erald ed as a new d isco v e ry , was bu t a r e v iv a l o f what she had been cham­
pioning fo r y e a rs .
She could n o t r e s t upon th e p o in t t h a t th e re was a mere
lik e n e ss in Amerind and contemporary v erse — a fundam ental freedom of th e
poet t o choose h is medium in accordance w ith th e in n a te rhythm of h is em otion.
For th a t p o in t would have l e f t th e f r e e - v e r s i f i e r s o p p o rtu n ity to say t h a t ,
whatever th e lik e n e s s , th e re was n o t n e c e s s a rily any c a u sa l connection b e-
50
‘
Washington Matthews, Navaho Legends, Memoirs o f th e American FolkLore S o c ie ty , V (1897), (New York, 1897), pp. 273-275. Examples from t h i s
work a re stu d ie d in Appendix V.
N e llie B arnes, e d ., American Indiem Love L yrics (New York, 1925).
This book c o n ta in s a forew ord by Mary A ustin and an essay on In d ian p o e tio
forms by Miss B arnes.
52 I b i d . , p . 1 6 4 .
228
tween th e contem porary and th e a b o rig in a l.
C e r ta in ly , even th e more s e l f -
conscious o f th e fre e -v e rs e school were n o t aware of any debt t o th e abo­
r ig i n e s .
To e s ta b lis h th a t th e re was such a debt was Mrs. A u stin ’ s m otive;
i t would v in d ic a te th e a b o rig in e s and h elp u sh er in t h a t c u ltu r a l ad ap ta­
tio n which she had f o r so long h eld in th e back of h er mind.
Therefore
she overshot th e mark, seeking r e a l l y t o v in d ic a te th e whole Amerind com­
plex — i t s a n im is tic view of th e tJh iv erse, i t s a ch iev in g by way o f th e
p o e tic orgy a community-mindedness, i t s w holeness, i t s s a tis f y in g n e s s .
The American Rhythm proves n o th in g , but i t i s f u l l o f p ro v o catio n .
I t s g re a te s t m e rit i s t h a t , in d ir e c tly a t l e a s t , i t encourages th e assump­
tio n th a t " c u ltu re " grows out of everyday l i f e and t h a t i f i t does n o t in ­
here in a p e o p le ’ s whole way of liv in g , i t does n o t e x is t a t a l l .
Schools,
jo u r n a ls , academ ies, a l l th e o f f i c i a l organs of " c u ltu re " need t o be reminded
of t h i s f a c t .
In probing in to th e im pulses which made Indians sing and dance,
Mrs. A u stin, alm ost in a d v e rte n tly , proved th a t p rim itiv ism i s n o t a lto g e th e r
savagery, t h a t r e lig io n i s im p o rtan t, th a t a e s th e tic s i s a n a tu r a l mode
o f resp o n se.
Like h e r frie n d H. G. W ells, she makes h e r re a d e r aware o f
h is h e rita g e from th e tim es before man could re c o rd h is h is to r y .
"There
*
may be more in M rs. A u s tin 's th e o rie s th a n she has tak en tim e t o make c l e a r ,
and even i f th e r e i s n o th in g in them a t a l l , th e r e is a w ealth o f su g g estiv e ­
n ess in h e r s tu d ie s o f th a t d i f f i c u l t realm where p rim itiv e l i f e , r e lig io n ,
and p o e try meet t o make us wish th a t she may r e tu r n to them a g ain and
R. M. A lden, [review of The American Rhythmj L ite r a ry Review,
229
The American Rhythm, however, i s n o t a s a ti s f a c to r y achievem ent, and
i s n o t so good a hook as Mary A u stin might have w r itte n .
That she was to m
between h e r common sense and h e r enthusiasm , or to r n between h er f e a r th a t
h e r id eas would be r id ic u le d and h er co n v ictio n th a t she was r i g h t , i s ap­
p a re n t in o th e r p ieces of w ritin g in which a re im plied th e same a e s th e tio
th e o rie s t h a t a re s e t f o r th in The American Rhythm.
Three y ears a f t e r th e
f i r s t e d itio n o f th e book, she a g ain put f o r th h e r id ea t h a t th e "key t o
p o e tic in s p ir a tio n " l i e s in th e im pulses which made In d ian s c re a te poetry.® ^
Again she s e ts f o r th glow ingly th e wholeness of the p r im itiv e , th e n a tu r a l­
ness w ith which he c r e a te s ,
" in th e se unprem editated motions of man’s mind
toward th e use of h is whole s e lf in th e ex p ressio n of th e deepest im pulses
of t h a t s e l f is th e r o o t, sound and n o u rish in g o f th e sum o f a l l th o se a f ­
fe c tiv e im pulses which we know as c u ltu r e .
Only when we come around ag ain
to th e Amerindian c a p a o ity fo r p u ttin g th e whole man in to any c u ltu r a l ex­
p re s sio n s h a ll we achieve i t s ideal."®®
And y e t, only a few paragraphs
e a r l i e r she had s a id t h a t th e modem poet was m erely t o stu d y th e In d ia n ’s
d e v ic e s, t h a t i s , le a rn use of a medium which would enable him t o express
h im se lf f r e e ly .
" I t i s th e road t o th e sp rin g t h a t we t r a v e l , t o th e source
of man’ s medium, r a th e r than t o h is em otions. . . ."56
There is a g re a t
gap between th e o b je c tiv e study of th e In d ian medium and a b so rp tio n in th e
In d ia n 's psychology or adoption of th e " a ffe c tiv e im pulses" o f th e In d ia n .
54 Mary A u stin , "The Road t o th e S p rin g ," N ation, CXXIII (1926), 360.
55 I b id . , p . 361.
56 I b id . , p . 360.
230
Likew ise, in h e r in tro d u c tio n t o a new e d itio n o f Cushing’ s Zuni
C l7
Folk T ales0 * she i s severe upon '*the ty p e o f m e n ta lity which d e lig h ts in
th e c o lle c tio n and c o lla tio n of p rim itiv e lo re " and whioh has no under­
sta n d in g o f l i t e r a r y q u a lity .
(She r e f e r s t o J . W. Pow ell, e th n o lo g is t.)
I t tu r n s out t h a t th e proper equipment f o r such an u n derstanding i s abso­
lu te sympathy w ith th e In d ia n 's r e lig io n and mythology, th e a b i l i t y t o
b e lie v e w ith th e In d ian in th e " a f fe c tiv e " and working power o f h is m y stic al
perform ances and r i t e s , th e w illin g n e ss to a cc e p t th e In d ia n 's symbol as a
good symbol fo r th e expression o f th e in e x p re s s ib le in s ig h t.
In h e r review®®
of th e same book, however, she adheres to te c h n ic a l m atters and i n s i s t s upon
th e v alu e o f th e Zuni C reation Myth t o "th e American seek er a f t e r a compe­
te n t medium fo r p o e tic drama."
She a p p a re n tly could n o t q u ite d ecide whether
In d ia n p o e try was good sim ply as a medium or good because th e whole complex
of Indian r e lig io n and a e s th e tic s was a way o f l i f e d eserv in g of modern
m an's em ulation.
Reviewing S t i t h Thompson's Tales o f th e North American In d ia n , 89
however, she was n o t undecided.
She was c le v e r enough t o conceal h er f a i t h
under a form idable ja rg o n , b u t th e p e rc ip ie n t re a d e r soon d isc o v e rs t h a t h er
aim is to d is c r e d i t Thompson and a l l s c h o la rly e th n o lo g is ts and f o l k l o r i s t s
as unim aginative and unsym pathetic c o lle c to r s who a re s a t i s f i e d t o re c o rd ,
57
Frank H. Cushing, c o lle c to r and t r a n s l a t o r , Zuni Folk Tales
(Hew York, 1931). " In tro d u c tio n " by Mary A u stin . The f i r s t e d itio n
(New York, 1901) contained an in tro d u c tio n by J . T/iT. Pow ell, d ir e c to r
o f th e Bureau of American Ethnology. The 1931 e d itio n r e p r in ts Pow ell’ s
o r ig in a l in tro d u c tio n a s a "Foreword."
58 Mary A u stin , "Zuni Folk T a le s ," D ia l, LXXI (1921), 113.
59 Mary A u stin , "A boriginal F ic tio n ," S atu rd ay Review o f L ite r a tu r e ,
VI (1929), 597-599.
231
as i t w ere, th e low est common denom inator o f t a l e c o n te n t.
In s h o r t, th e y
a re n o t a m re o f l i t e r a r y q u a lity in th e In d ia n s ' t a l e s ; and l i t e r a r y q u al­
i t y i s im portant.
She i s in te r e s te d in what a b o rig in a l l i t e r a t u r e may o ff e r in th e way
of wtro p e s and tu rn s o f speech" f o r e x p re ssio n of "fundamental ooncepts
t h a t never a t any p e rio d y ie ld them selves t o ex act sta te m e n t."60
The Euro­
pean coins (p h rases, tr o p e s , tu rn s of sp eech ), she s a y s, "once rin g in g w ith
th e pure m etal of f a i t h , m inted out o f a n c e s tr a l myth making, out o f a sh ared
r e lig io u s past,"®-*- have now become unusable and m islead in g , sin ce a l l th e
o rig in a tin g ooncepts th a t formed them have been lo s t s ig h t o f.
Youth, th e r e ­
f o r e , w ith no words f o r c e r ta in alm ost in e x p re s s ib le concepts and emotions
and a s p ir a tio n s , and having, as youth has always had, t o face "the q u e stio n
o f d e s tin y and th e problem of l i f e a d v e n tu re ," f a l l s back upon "th e f i a t
money o f p sy ch o an aly sis, th e prom issory n o te s of sc ie n c e , • • . c lic h e s of
r o o tle s s in te lle c t u a tio n . . . .
"62
The b e a u tif u l old fig u re s o f th e o ld e r
p o e ts , i f now used , " a d v e rtise our p o v erty by th e taw d rin ess o f t h e i r
e f f e c t . "63
That people is in a bad way in d eed , which has no " s p i r i t u a l con­
c ep ts to o fr e s h fo r ex ac t d e f in itio n , n o r any experience to o e b u llie n t to
be co n tain ed in even th e most e x q u is ite of s e t m olds." 64
From t h i s p o in t on,
i t i s easy t o see t h a t Mrs. A ustin was making an i n d ir e c t, s id lin g approach
60 IM d «» P* 597.
61 I b id .
62 I b i d .
63 I b i d *
64 I b id *
232
t o th e follow ing id e a s :
th e old r e lig io n i s dead; th e old s o c ia l p a tte rn s
a re broken; th e old concepts of God, th e s o u l, and im m o rtality a re dead;
and th e fig u re s of speech by which th e s e ooncepts have been expressed a re
a ls o dead.
Let us fo rg e t th e C h r is tia n God and th e C h ris tia n co n cep ts.
R elig io n , a s p ir a tio n , a d e sire to r e l a t e o n e se lf t o th e A lln e s s , an ex p er­
ience of A lln e ss and o f beauty a re n a tu r a l t o man.
made a d ir e c t approach t o th e se th in g s .
The American In d ian
For "God" l e t us s u b s titu te th e
"A ll F ath er F a th e r"; fo r th e u n e x p lain ab le , "th e Powers"; fo r a dehumanized
u n iv e rs e , th e In d ia n ’ s immediate sense o f magic and wonder and a n im is tic
p re se n c e s.
Indian l i t e r a t u r e would te a c h us th e "soul m otions" by which
th e In d ia n g ets answers t o h is p ra y e rs and h eig h ten s th e plane o f con­
sc io u sn e ss.
Although M rs. A u stin ’s review makes some e x c e lle n t te c h n io a l
d is tin c tio n s , i t i s on th e whole b u t a concealed p lea fo r b e l i e f in wakonda.
I t i s rid d e n by th e same obsession th a t broke th e back o f The American Rhythm.
Her ch ap te r in th e Cambridge H isto ry of American L ite r a tu r e does no t
re v e a l h e r f a i t h in Indiem magic, b u t i t does show h e r u s u a l p r o s e ly tiz in g
s p i r i t , h er enthusiasm , emd h e r penchant f o r making u n s c ie n tif ic g u e sse s.
Her theme is th a t a "democracy o f content"®® m odified th e form o f what was
w r itte n , t h a t th e a b o rig in a l l i t e r a t u r e re v e a ls th e power of th e American
landscape t o in flu en o e form, and t h a t , a cc o rd in g ly , a b o rig in a l l i t e r a t u r e ,
a s id e from i t s i n t r i n s i c l i t e r a r y q u a lity , o f f e r s a usab le body of examples
o f th e "ex p ressiv en ess o f dem ocratic l i v i n g . "66
65
The s p e c i a l i s t , or indeed
Mary A u stin , "A boriginal L ite r a tu r e ," Cambridge H isto ry of American
L i te r a tu r e , e d ite d by W. P. T re n t, John E rsk in e , S .P . Sherman, and C a rl Van
Doren (Cambridge, 1921), I I I , 611.
66 I b i d ., p . 633.
233
th e lay re a d e r, would c h allen g e h e r g e n e ra l th e o ry , on th e ground t h a t i t
i s pure su p p o sitio n based on no p ro o f except M rs. A u stin ’s w ish t h a t i t be
so .
D e fin ite ly d eserv in g ch allen g e i s h e r statem en t t h a t th e body of In d ian
f o l k - t a l e and fa b le i s "not surpassed by any country in th e w o rld , f o lk - ta l e
and fab le which would i l l u s t r a t e our common American l i f e w ith f a r more
p o in t th an th e th in g s we d e riv e from Europe."®7 W ritin g o f th e " a c c id e n ta l"
success o f J o e l Chandler H a rris in tr a n s c r ib in g "the American mode," Mrs.
A ustin f l i e s in th e face of much o f th e accep ted r e s u l t of s c h o la rly in ­
v e s tig a tio n .
" I t appears t h a t J o e l Chandler H arris d id n o t h im se lf know,
when he wrote them, th a t h is B r’e r R abbit and B r’e r Fox were o r ig in a l
®7 I b id . , p . 615. Indeed, two statem en ts here deserve c h a lle n g e .
The f i r s t , t h a t th e In d ia n m a te ria ls a re u n su rp assed , i s based upon a
q u a n tita tiv e sta n d a rd . The body o f In d ia n m a te ria ls i s now perhaps
more complete and more e x ten siv e th a n th a t o f any o th e r p rim itiv e p eo p le.
"No other p rim itiv e people has such an e x te n siv e and a c c u ra te re c o rd of
i t s myths, t a l e s , and legends as th e North American In d ia n ." — T ales of
th e North American In d ia n , s e le c te d and an n o tated by S t i t h Thompson
(Cambridge, M ass., 1929), p . x v i. But t h i s i s p u re ly a sid e from l i t e r a r y
q u a lity , a q u e stio n which must be l e f t to s p e c i a l i s t s , who, i t ap p ears,
have n o t y e t indulged them selves in such dangerous com parisons. The
second im p lic a tio n , th a t th e Indian m a te ria ls a re much more r e le v a n t to
our common American l i f e th a n anything d eriv ed from Europe, b e sid e s
being u t t e r l y a b su rd , can be re fu te d out o f Mrs. A u stin ’s own th e o r ie s .
Tihen i t i s t o h e r advantage t o do so , she can argue th e im portance o f
subconscious r a c i a l h e r ita g e . But now she is a rg u in g th e supremacy
of environment over r a c i a l h e r ita g e .
234
Cherokee in v e n tio n s .11®® That she was more in te r e s te d in quarrelsom e com­
p l a i n t about th e n e g le c t of a b o rig in a l l i t e r a t u r e th an in e ith e r g e ttin g
a t e s ta b lis h e d fa c ts o r making o b je c tiv e l i t e r a r y e v a lu a tio n s , i s more or
le s s proved by h er a t t i t u d e tow ards Longfellow*s Hiawatha.
’’Longfellow,
had he been more o f an Amerioan and le s s of an aoadem ician, could have
®® Mary A u stin , "A boriginal L ite r a tu r e ," lo o . c i t . , p . 615. To
Mrs. A u s tin 's mind, ev ery th in g abo u t th e American In d ian was so "indigenous"
and so oomplete a n a tu r a l a d a p ta tio n t o environment t h a t she could n o t con­
ceive o f in flu e n c e s and borrowings going from Negro t o In d ia n in ste a d o f
th e re v e rs e . S ti th Thompson, op. c i t . , l i s t s th e Cherokee t a l e , "The T arBaby" (as recorded by Mooney), among "Tales Borrowed from Europeans."
Thompson, "European T ales among th e North American In d ia n s ," Colorado
C ollege P u b lic a tio n s . language S e rie s , V ol. I I , No. 34, pp. 319-471, a ls o
say s: "The ta rb a b y in c id e n t occurs in a l l o f th e s e t a l e s (numerous In d ia n
anim al s t o r i e s } , and i t seems in ev ery case t o be borrowed from negro or
European v e rs io n s" (p .4 4 6 ).
Likew ise, Mrs. A ustin would n o t adm it th a t th e Zuni "C in d erella "
s to r y was a European borrow ing. Her argument was sim ple: " ’The Turkey
G irl* ^C ushing's t i t l e f o r th e s to ry ] i s a f a v o r ite c h a ra c te r in a l l Pueblo
f i c t i o n ; and i f th e C in d e re lla p lo t is an in tr u s io n , w hat, th e n , s h a ll we
say of th e dead b rid e , in a p rim itiv e v illa g e u n v is ite d save by sin occa­
s io n a l C ath o lic p r i e s t , who would h a rd ly have found occasions fo r i n s t r u c t ­
in g h is co n v erts in th e m y steries o f Orpheus and Eurydice? To one f a m ilia r
w ith th e movements o f th e Amerind mind th e Turkey G irl i s a tr a n s c r i p t o f
th e experience of th e lo ss of r e a l i t y in th e day-dream of bereavem ent.
• • . " — Mary A u stin , " In tro d u c tio n ," Zuni Folk T a le s , pp. xxv-xxvi.
(The second t a l e she r e f e r s t o i s C ush in g 's "The T r ia l of L o v ers," a beau­
t i f u l and s tr ik in g analogue t o th e famous Orpheus and Eurydice t a l e . ) She
engages in t h i s loose sp e c u la tio n in th e face o f th e f a c t t h a t Cushing
him self p rin te d "The Cock and Mouse," f i r s t in th e tr a n s l a t i o n from th e
I t a l i a n , Cushing having been p re s e n t on th e occasion when Zuni In d ian s
f i r s t heard th e s to ry . Cushing and h is o r ig in a l e d ito r (1901) were s tru c k
by th e "tra n sfo rm a tio n th e o r ig in a l underwent in such a b r i e f p erio d fab o u t
one y e a r ] , and how w ell i t [h a d ] been adapted t o Zuni environment and mode
of th o u g h t.” — Cushing, Zuni Folk Tales (New York, 1931), p . 411. The
Indian could and d id borrow, a d a p tin g th e borrowed m a te ria l ra p id ly and
com pletely (as f a r a s s t y l i s t i c , id io m a tic , and environm ental item s were
concerned) in to term s o f In d ian l i f e . TNhy, th e n , might n o t "The Turkey
G irl" and "The T r ia l of Lovers" have been borrowed? Because Mrs. A u stin
shuddered a t th e thought of European in flu en c e upon h er adopted c h ild re n
o f genius 1
235
e a s ily found n a tiv e measures fo r h is Hiawatha cy cle w ith o u t borrowing from
th e F in n ish , although he showed more d is c rim in a tio n th an most w rite rs who
have attem pted to re n d e r Indian e p ic s , in choosing a form t h a t was very
c lo s e ly ak in t o th e A m erind."69
Y et, e ig h t y e ars l a t e r , when P ro fesso r
G» W. Cronyn d isco v ered some Aztec p o e try w r itte n in tro c h a ic te tra m e te r ,
airs. A ustin e n th u s i a s tic a ll y h a ile d Longfellow’ s choice of form as "one
of those p ro p h etic fla s h e s which only poets dare t r u s t . "^0
The c h a p te r,
undoubtedly a competent b r i e f survey, on th e w hole, of a b o rig in a l l i t e r a ­
t u r e , i s n e v e rth e le s s f i l l e d w ith u n s c ie n tif ic hunches, and i s a s much
an argument a s an e x p o s itio n .
Mrs. A u s tin 's m isstate m e n ts, h e r g u esses,
h e r e rro rs o f f a c t a re n o t so provoking as th e o b sessio n which can be
found a t th e bottom o f much o f her w ritin g on In d ia n s :
th e id ea th a t
modern man would be b e t t e r o ff i f he could get back th e th o ro u g h ly a n i­
m is tic view o f th e u n iv e rse which Amerind p o e try , dance-dram a, and r e lig io n
were based upon.
II
Mary A u s tin 's p o e try was b e t te r th a n h e r th e o r ie s .
As e a r ly as
1911, upon h e r r e tu r n from England w ith a d e f i n i t e l i t e r a r y i n t e r e s t in
Indian m a te r ia ls , she was w ritin g f r e e v e rse tr a n s c r ip tio n s of In d ian
ly r ic s fo r popular m agazines. 71
69
There i s some s lig h t j u s t i c e in h er c laim
"A boriginal L ite r a tu r e ," lo c . c i t . , p . 619.
™ Mary A u stin , "The Meter o f Aztec V e rse ," Southwest Review, XIV
(1929), 154.
^
lu re *s Magazine, 1911 and 1912, Forum, 1911, Everybody* s
M agazine, 1914, and P o e try , 1917, p u b lish ed th e se ' iearly p ie c e s . In E arth
H orizon, p . 333, Mrs. A ustin t e l l s how th e A tla n tic and Century re fu se d
them because th e e d ito r s thought th e y were fak ed .
236
to have been among th e f i r s t of th e poets of th e second decade t o use
By 1918, she m s a s s e r tin g , 7 2 and perhaps w ith
" fre e v e rse " in America.
j u s t i c e , t h a t she had long known t h a t In d ian v e rse m s both " fre e " and
im ag istic*
In 1911, Mrs. A ustin had ex p lain ed th e In d ia n 's use o f song
and dance as a means o f h e ig h te n in g h is powers so t h a t he could get in
touch w ith and appeal t o " T h e - F r ie n d - o f - th e - S o u l- o f - M a n .T h e germ o f
h er th e o ry , th e n , as w e ll as th e beginnings o f h er p r a c tic e , goes back t o
1911.
Of a l l h er p o e try p u b lish ed between 1911 and 1923 (th e d ate of The
American Rhythm) , most i s "fre e v e rse " tr a n s c r ip tio n s o f In d ian v e rs e .
There i s l i t t l e to say of i t .
in Black
P r a y e r s , "74
Once an old p re p o sse ssio n in tr u d e s , as when
h e r je a lo u s In d ian woman speaks th e language of Valda
in Love and th e Soul Maker (1914).
In "I Do Hot
K n o w " 7®
th e re is p h rasin g
re m in isc en t o f Emily D ick in so n 's "Because I Could Not Stop f o r Death" and
o f Thomas H ardy's "T ransform ations"; b u t n e ith e r "Black P ray ers" nor " I Do
Hot Know" m s o ffe re d s p e c if ic a lly a s a " re -e x p re s s io n ."
th e p h rasin g i s o v erlu sh :
B etrays me t o d is a s te r " ;
76
In some p ie c e s
"For my so u l f e s t e r s / And an odor o f c o r r u p tio n /
/
"O v e r-fu ll and ach in g w ith s o n g ,/ . . .
n ig h ts a re young and d e siro u s" ;
77
"In th e dewy and p a lp ita n t
And th e
p a s t u r e s . "78
7?
Mary A u stin , " In tro d u c tio n ," P ath on th e Rainbow, e d ite d by G. W.
Cronyn (Hew York, 1918), p . x v i.
~
73 y ary A u stin , "The Song-Makers," Worth American Review, CXCTV (1911),
239-247.
74 P o e try , XV (1920), 183-185.
75 i b i d . , pp. 186-187.
76 "Medicine Song," M cC lure's, XXXVII (1911), 504.
77 "The Song o f th e F rie n d ," M cC lure's, XXXVII (1912), 351.
78
4.n _ 4.-|c;
"A S°nS 111 Time ° f DePr e s s io n »" Everybody's Magazine, XXXI (1914),
237
Two p ie c e s , p u b lish ed in a re g io n a l w eekly, 79 a re loaded w ith a p ro fu sio n
of lo c a l c o lo r item s o f d e s c rip tio n .
Two p ie ce s t h a t appear t o be q u ite
unexceptionable a re "New Mexican Love Song"99 and "N either S p i r i t nor
Bird."®-*- And fo u r pieces published a t odd tim es and a l l re p rin te d in The
American Rhythm have th e "in crem en tal thought rhythms" which N e llie Barnes8^
c a ll s th e most n o tic e a b le c h a r a c te r is tic o f In d ian l y r i c s .
The American Rhythm r e p r in ts a t l e a s t nine poems th a t had been pub­
lis h e d in p e rio d ic a ls from 1911 to 1920.
That Mrs. A u s tin ’s re -e x p re ss io n s ,
or tr a n s c r ip tio n s a s she c a lle d them e a r l i e r , were pro b ab ly based on o r ig i­
n a ls which she knew only dim ly o r remembered im p e rfe c tly i s proved by th e
f a c t t h a t two p ieces in The American Rhythm a re a ssig n e d t o a d if f e r e n t
t r i b e from th e one th e y were assig n ed t o in th e o r ig in a l p e rio d ic a l p u b li­
c a tio n s .
The th ir d of her "Glyphs" in The American Rhythm i s b u t a dimin­
ish ed v e rs io n of"M edicine Song" o f 1911.
The e a r l i e r v e rs io n c o n tain s
tw enty l in e s , th e glyph:, eleven lin e s ; which in d ic a te s t h a t when she o r ig i ­
n a lly heard th e In d ia n sang she d id n o t recognize i t a s a glyph, and in d i­
c a te s fu r th e r t h a t h er th e o ry of th e "glyph" was t o some e x te n t a r a tio n ­
a l i z a t i o n of h e r own p ra c tic e of s trip p in g o ff r e p e t i t i o n and r i t u a l i s t i c
elem ents.
Seven o th e r poems in The American Rhythm had been f i r s t p u b lish ed in
1921; th e s e seem, on th e w hole, to be su p erio r to M rs. A u s tin 's e a r l i e r
79 "The S inging Dunes o f Ensanada Todos S a n to s," and "San J a c in to ,
El P a la c io , VI (1919), 93.
80 P o e try , XV (1920), 185-186.
81 P o e try , X (1917), 239.
American In d ian Love L yrics (New York, 1925), p . 152.
238
t r a n s c r ip tio n s , although some of them d e riv e u ltim a te ly from th e same exp e rie n c e s in her l i f e — her y ears in th e d e s e r t.
Of th e rem aining tw enty-
one poems, some a re obviously p a rts o f dance-dram as, some a re p e rs o n a l, some
a re communal but n o t h ig h ly r i t u a l i s t i c .
On th e whole, th e y n e ith e r confirm
nor condemn Mrs. A u s tin 's th e o r ie s , sin ce some a re v ery fr e e ren d erin g s and
o th ers keep th e marks of th e r i t u a l from which th e y a re ta k e n ; t h a t i s , in ­
crem ental s ta n z a ic form, m eaningless v o c a b le s, e t c .
As p o e try , th e se le c ­
tio n s a re s a ti s f a c to r y , although a re a d e r fin d s t h a t he i s re a d in g in to them
w ith a l l h is powers o f im agination and sympathy.
I f one d id n o t know th a t
th e y were In d ia n , one would probably d ism iss a l l of them as in s ig n if ic a n t.
I f , on th e o th e r hand, one had a s c h o la rly in t e r e s t in In d ian m a te ria ls ,
one would never be s a ti s f i e d w ith what he might le a rn from Mrs. A u stin .
For th e g re a t d i f f i c u l t y w ith Indian p o e try , as numerous in v e s tig a to r s have
emphasized,®® i s th a t a l l th e s u b tle tie s o f i t s melody and rhythm a re l o s t
on th e p rin te d page.
Five y ears a f t e r th e f i r s t e d itio n o f The American Rhythm came The
C hildren S ing in th e Far West, 84 a c o lle c tio n supported by no th e o riz in g
except th e sim ple p re fa to ry statem ent t h a t many o f th e poems were c re a te d
8^ E .g ., N e llie Barnes, op. c i t . ; Constance Lindsay S k in n er, "The In d ian
as P o e t, """in The P ath on th e Rainbow, ed. G. W. Cronyn (New York, 1918); N ata­
l i e C u rtis , The In d ia n s ' Book (New York. 1925); A lic e C. F le tc h e r, The Hako:
a Pawnee Ceremony, Bureau o f American Ethnology, 22d Annual R ep o rt, B art I I
"(Washington: Government P r in tin g O ffic e , 1904); Washington Matthews, Navaho
Legends, Memoirs o f th e American Folk-Lore S o c ie ty , V (1897), (New York: G.E.
S te c h e rt and C o., 1897).
84 Mary A u stin , The C hildren Sing in th e Far West (Boston and New York,
1928). Acknowledgment i s made " to my fr ie n d A rth u r Davison Ficke fo r a s s i s t ­
ance in s e le c tin g and e d itin g th e p re sen t volum e." Some papers in Mrs. A u s tin 's
lib r a r y re v e a l t h a t th e co n ten ts were su b jec te d t o Mr. Ficke*s c r itic is m and
t h a t he probably persuaded h e r n o t t o p re fa c e th e volume w ith an a b stru se and
argum entative e ss a y . I t i s v ery lik e ly t h a t th e m a te ria l which she intended
f o r t h i s p re fa ce was in co rp o rated in to two a r t i c l e s : "P oetry That C h ild ren
C hoose,” S aturday Review o f L ite r a tu r e , 7 (1928), 246; "P oetry in th e Educa­
t i o n of C h ild re n ," Bookman, LXVTII (1928), 270-275.
239
by c h ild re n them selves w ith Mrs. A u s tin 's a id , because th e r e -were no poems
about th e land th e y
liv e d i n .
The p ra c tic e o f composing such songs fo r
c h ild re n and w ith c h ild re n began when Mary A u stin ta u g h t school in C a lifo rn ia
a t in te r v a ls from 1889 u n t i l about 1905.®**
"So I have gone on adding t o
th e l i s t from tim e to tim e , hoping t h a t I was s t i l l keeping th e c h i l d 's
approach and th e c h i l d 's fe e lin g fo r th e movement proper t o h is th o u g h t. "86
The poems, th e n , which comprise th e volume have, most o f them, in d eterm in ­
a b le d a te s of com position running from 1889 t o 1928.
markable evenness in th e book.
But th e re is a r e ­
F i r s t o f a l l , ev ery poem i s t i e d d e f i n i t e l y
to a W estern or Southw estern lo c a le .
The book ach iev es i t s a u th o r's f i r s t
purpose, " to have th e c h ild re n in w estern schools compose t h e i r own songs
about p r a i r i e dogs, a n te lo p e , and bob-owls t o re p la c e th e E nglish v i o l e t s ,
Wordsworthian d a f f o d ils , and New England May-flowers which alo n e were
a v ailab le ."® ^
M rs. A u s tin 's th e o ry of c h ild r e n 's p o e try , expressed in s e p a ra te ly
publish ed a r t i c l e s , i s extrem ely muddled, and v e ry l i t t l e d e f in ite a p p lic a ­
t i o n of h e r th e o ry can be made to th e poems in The C h ild ren Sing in th e Far
West.
She holds g e n e ra lly t h a t in m atters o f p o e tic t a s t e ontogeny r e ­
c a p itu la te s philogeny.
The youngest c h ild re n lik e "p ero ep tiv e rhythm s,"
which h e lp them p e rc e iv e t h e i r w orld and give an in n a te ly rhythmic e x p re s­
sio n t o t h e i r p e rc e p tio n s .
Between fiv e and seven th e c h ild moves on to
85
A u stin , The C hildren Sing in th e F ar West, p . v i i j E arth H orizon,
pp. 277 f f . Helen M. Doyle, Mary A u stin , Woman o f Genius (New York, 1939),
p. 133, says th a t in th e e a rly y e ars of h e r m arriage M rs. A ustin was w ritin g
a book t o express h e r e d u c a tio n a l th e o r ie s . Mrs. A u stin h e r s e lf never men­
tio n s t h i s f a c t .
86
87
The C h ild ren Sing in th e Far W est, p . v i i .
A u stin , "P oetry That C h ild ren C hoose," lo c . c i t .
240
"rhythms o f a t t e n t i o n ," d e s ir in g p o e try ahout th e th in g , n o t sentim ents
or m oral le ss o n s , b u t a rio h enough d e s c rip tio n to r e l a t e th e o b je c t t o
th e p e rc e iv e r.
As b e s t one can t e l l from M rs. A u stin ’ s e x p o sitio n , th e
next stag e is from seven t o te n , when c h ild re n develop an i n t e r e s t in th e
s to ry poem and gain an a p p re c ia tio n o f rhythm .
In th e " p re -a d o lesc en t
y e a r s ," te n t o fo u rte e n , th e c h ild reaches th e stag e where h is t a s t e s a re
lik e th o se of th e a b o rig in e s ; r e p e t i t i o n , v a r ia tio n o f stan z a io form,
syncopation, and lack of rhyme f a i l to d is tu r b th e c h ild o f t h i s age-group;
in d eed , th e se d ev ices a re r e lis h e d .
She ho ld s th a t " su b tle d isso n a n c es,
chrom atic rhymes, I have o a lle d them ," probably s p rin g "from t h a t u n iv e r­
s a l l y human procedure by which th e com plete a b la u t was accom plished. "88
A re a d e r fin d s no d e f in ite c o r r e la tio n of th e th e o rie s w ith th e
poems.
She does c i t e h er v ery d e lig h tf u l poem "B athers" as one u sin g th e
"rhythms of a tte n tio n " s
I know v e ry w ell what I ’d r a th e r be
I f I d id n 't Always have to be me I
I 'd r a th e r be an owl,
A downy fe a th e re d owl,
A w in k -ity , b l i n k - i t y , yellow -eyed owl
In a h ole in a hollow t r e e .
•
•
•
I ’d go and be a woodpecker,
A r a p - i t y , t a p - i t y , red-headed woodpecker
In th e to p of a t a l l old t r e e .
•
•
•
Or I might be a puma,
A sin g le -c o lo re d puma,
A s lin k in g , s ly -fo o t puma
As f ie r c e a s f ie r c e could be I
And I 'd w a it by th e w aterh o les where an telo p e d rin k
In th e co o l of th e morning
And I do
not
th in k
That ever; any a n telo p e could get away from me.
. . . 89 "
88 A u stin , "P oetry in th e Education o f C h ild re n ," lo c . c i t . , p . 272.
89 The C hildren Sing in th e Far West, pp. 7 -9 .
241
M rs. A u stin ’ s th e o ry , however, goes out of a r e a d e r 's mind as he imagines
he h ears echoes o f th e s ty le o f A. A. M ilne.
"S ubtle d isso n an ces, chro­
m atic rhymes" a re h a rd ly t o be found in any o f th e poems except in th e
avowedly In d ian ones re p rin te d from The American Rhythm.
The m a jo rity o f
th e poems, except th o se r e p rin te d from The American Rhythm, a re in extrem ely
conventional m e tric a l o r rh y th m ical p a tte r n s ; i t i s im possible t o d is tin g u is h
between "p erce p tiv e rhythms" and rhythms o f a t te n t i o n ; and some p ie c e s , such
a s "Snow," could n o t p o s sib ly appeal t o th e immature.
One su sp ects t h a t
M rs. A u s tin 's whole e la b o ra te th e o ry , which A rth u r Davison Fioke so w ise ly
advised h e r
t o omit from th e c o lle c tio n , was devised
c h i l d 's in n a te
t o prove t h a t th e
p o e tic sense demands, in a t le a s t one sta g e o f th e c h i l d 's
developm ent, th o se devices which abound in In d ia n p o e try .
But v e ry few,
i f any, of th e poems prove th e p o in t.
The C h ildren Sing in th e Far West co n tain s poems o f o r i g i n a l i t y , o f
bold sin g in g rhythm (m ostly c o n v e n tio n a l), w ith an e x c e lle n t use of n a tiv e
American s u b je c t m a te ria l.
"Texas T rain s and T r a ils " is c h a r a c te r is ti c of
th e a u th o r's attem p t to ap p eal t o th e Southw estern c h ild 's d a ily e x p e ri­
ences in bold mimetic rhythm s:
Whenever I rid e on th e Texas p la in s
I never h e ar th e couplings c lu c k ,
• • •
But I see th e moving d u s t where th e b e ef herds s h u ffle ,
And I th in k I am a cowboy,
Punching Texas longhorns
On th e Texas t r a i l s .
•
•
•
And th e t r a i n s go Y oupi-ya,
Get a -lo n g , d o g ie s,
Get a -lo n g , g et a -lo n g
Y oupi-yi, y o u pi-y a,
Y oupi-youpi-youpi-ya
Get a -lo n g , get a -lo n g ,
Y oupi-ya,
Y o-o-u-u-pl
90
The C h ild re n Sing in th e Far W est, pp. 60-61,
242
"Furryhide and G litte r s k in " does n o t have o b v io u sly mimetic rhythm s, bu t
i t would c e r ta in l y ap p eal to th e c h ild who had seen a p r a i r i e dog and a
snake:
Round about th e c h o y ita l
Where th e b lu e -th ro a t liz a r d s ru n ,
Hoots th e e lf-o w l from h is burrow,
Squats th e hom ed to ad in th e sun5
■Where th e g lo ssy greasewood tin k le s
And th e m esquite dunes b e g in ,
They have made t h e i r summer d w ellin g ,
Furryhide and G l i t t e r s k i n .91
Much th e same could be s a id o f "The S a n d h ill C rane":
Whenever th e days a re cool and c le a r
The s a n d h ill cran e goes w alking
Across th e f i e l d by th e fla s h in g w eir
Slow ly, solem nly s ta lk in g .
The l i t t l e fro g s in th e t u l e s hear
And jump fo r t h e i r liv e s when he comes n e a r,
The minnows s c u tt le away in f e a r ,
When th e s a n d h ill crane goes w a lk in g .92
I t i s American p o e try t h a t American c h ild re n can and should lo v e .
I t s most obvious f a u l t i s t h a t some o f th e poems a re s e lf-c o n s c io u s ly
re g io n a l, and go out o f t h e i r way t o b rin g in e s o te r ic f l o r a and fau n a,
u s u a lly under a Spanish or Indian name. 93 As p ro o f of an "American rhythm"
d i s t i n c t from o th er rhythm s, i t f a i l s — i f indeed th e a u th o r had any such
p urpose.
As evidence th a t th e re can be a d is tin g u is h e d c h i l d ’s p o e try
d e a lin g w ith the American environment of th e c h ild , i t is a g re a t su c c e ss.
91 Ib id * , pp. 20- 21.
I b i d . , pp. 5-6.
93 But c f . Mary A u stin , Land o f Journey’ s Ending (Hew York and
London, 1924), pp. v i i - v i i i : "Anybody can w rite f a c t about a co u n try ,
b u t nobody can w rite t r u t h who does n o t ta k e in to account th e sounds
and swings of i t s n a tiv e nom enclature. Emphasis s u p p lie d .
. . . you
w ill get a g re a t d e a l more out o f my book by a tte n d in g t o th e Spanish
a cc e n ts and vow els, sin ce th e re a re a sp e c ts o f ev ery country im possible
s a t i s f a c t o r i l y t o d e sc rib e except in rhythms th a t have a d e riv a tiv e r e ­
la tio n t o th e im pression th e land makes on i t s in h a b ita n ts ."
«
243
The rem ainder o f Mary A u s tin 's p o e tic p ro d u ctio n f a l l s p ro p erly
in to a ch ap te r e n t i t l e d "The American Rhythm, 11 becau se, even when Mrs.
A .ustin's p o e try was n o t d e f in ite ly In d ia n in s u b je c t, i t was w r itte n under
h er im pression o f what r e s u l t s th e fr e e rhythms o f th e American landscape
ought to g iv e .
I t i s p r a c tic a lly a l l fre e v e r s e , some o f i t v ery good
fre e v e rs e ; and i t was n o t w ritte n t o prove any th e o ry .
F i r s t , th e re a re
some p e rso n al poems, many of which s t a t e some of Mrs. A u s tin 's long-held
id e a s .
" W
h e n c e , yias
a p p a re n tly w ritte n a t a tim e when she was shaping
one of th e th e o rie s which went in to The American Rhythm — th e idea t h a t
th e Indian sin g s when he f e e l s h im self fragm entary or d is lo c a te d in h is
u n iv e rs e :
I do n o t know who sin g s my songs
Before th e y a re sung by me.
For my mind i s an ordered house
Illhere never a song should be;
•
•
•
And when my l i f e i s as d ry as a gourd,
My h e a rt th e pebble, r a t t l e d by d e s p a ir,
Shaken a t th e fu n e ra l
Of a l l th e gods t h a t w ere,
I s tr e tc h my tho u g h ts in th e empty room ~
And suddenly my songs a re th e r e .
A side from th e f a c t t h a t i t i s f a i r l y re g u la r iambic tr im e te r and te tra m e te r
and t h a t th e f i r s t fo u r lin e s undivided make a b a lla d s ta n z a , th e p iece i s
s a tis f a c to r y f r e e v e rs e .
"Unworthy Love"®® i s n o t n e c e s s a rily p e rs o n a l, b u t could be so , fo r
i t seems to re tu rn to th e m a r ita l d i f f i c u l t i e s o f th e a u th o r and even makes
94 P o e try , XVII (1921), 192.
95
PP* 192-193.
244
use of a metaphor th a t had been used in prose in A Woman of G enius, as long
ago as 1912.
How is i t w ith my h e a rt
Since I can love you?
Flawed in th e c a s tin g ,
So th a t your s p i r i t ,
When I s t r i k e i t w ith n o b len ess,
Rings no to n e tr u l y ,
Y et, a t th a t f la tte n e d n o te ,
The so u l o f every sen se,
•
•
•
Runs and looks out of th e windows,
While deep in th e house o f l i f e
A ge-long, unimagined in s tin c ts
Bay a t th e v o ice of th e m a s t e r . 96
"Going West" i s , on th e whole, a very happy and f e l i c i t o u s s t a t e ­
ment of th e jo y th e a u th o r might have f e l t upon p u ttin g England and th e
E ast behind h er in 1922.
I t a ls o r e tu r n s to an id ea which she had p re ­
v io u s ly expressed, a kind of w him sical pantheism rem in iscen t o f Thomas
Hardy’ s "T ransform ations."
Some day I s h a ll go w est,
Having won a l l tim e t o love in , a t l a s t ,
Too s t i l l t o b o a s t.
•
•
•
Lay me where some contented oak can prove
How much o f me is n u rtu re fo r a t r e e ;
•
•
•
My loving whimsies — W ill you chide ag ain
Yiihey th ey come up as la n te rn flo w ers?
«
•
•
I s h a ll be b lu e ts in th e A p ril sodl
Or i f th e wheel should tu rn too f a s t ,
Run up and r e s t
Q7
As a sequoia f o r a thousand years I
C f. A u stin , A Yfoman o f Genius (Garden C ity , New York, 1912), p . 411.
97 Bookman, LVI (1922), 8 . C f. Hardy’ s "T ransform ations": "P ortion
of t h i s yew/ I s a man my g ra n d s ire k n ew ,/ . . . These g rasses must be made/
Of h er who o fte n p r a y e d ,/ L ast c en tu ry , fo r r e p o s e ;/ And th e f a i r g i r l long
a g o / Whom I o fte n t r i e d to know/ May be e n te rin g th i s r o s e ."
245
•’Being Only a Dream” achiev es one v ery e x c e lle n t image:
There’ s never a wave
L iftin g from b lu e t o ch ry so p rase,
Never an opal shine on th e wet beaches,
Nor a u k le t s h a tte r in g
The t w i l i g h t ’s pure o b sid ia n ,
Never a svriffc w in g -fla sh o f beau ty anywhere,
But my dream o f you i s t h e r e . 98
"Love Coming Late" re v e rts in d ir e c tly to th e theme o f The Lovely Lady, o f
1913, t h a t e ld e r ly lo v ers may re g a in a to u ch o f young p assio n and d e s ir e .
S e c re t, contained and aware
g re a t Love came w alking.
Came and s a t down a t th e loom
where I stooped overw earied,
Sw ift were h is hands and lig h t on th e s h u tt le ;
And suddenly, as he w rought,
du ty and p assio n and youth
came back and served him. 99
" I Have Known P oets" i s a v ery lame and p ro s a ic p ie c e .
W ithout one
s in g le to u ch of im agination t o r e lie v e i t s u n in sp ire d statem e n t o f th e
su­
p e r i o r i t y o f poets to
. . . a C ard in al
A g o ld -laced G eneral
A. C abinet M in iste r and s e v e ra l m illio n a ir e s ,
Learned men, lo v er men —
i t announces in hackneyed "fo u rte e n e rs" t h a t t h i s poet would exchange a l l
of th e above-named g re a t ones
For any one o f h a lf a dozen p o ets t h a t I knowl
Mrs. A u stin seems a t tim es to have labored under th e im pression t h a t to
c a l l o f f th e names o f b e a u tifu l and d e s ira b le th in g s is t o w rite p o e try ,
s in c e , a f t e r th e company o f poets in Heaven, a l l she wants is
98 P o e try , XXII (1923), 19.
99 N ation, CXX7II (1928), 43.
246
A windy h i l l to walk upon, a film y caotus flo w er,
A maple t r e e , a la d y fe rn o r "bee caroused in c lo v e r.
^
D espite an o r a to r ic a l n o te , a to o -obvious r e lia n c e upon cacophonous
but m o u th -fillin g w ords, and an ag e-o ld theme, t h a t o f s p i r i t u a l d eath and
r e b ir th through a to u ch of n a tu re , "R esu rrectio n " is perhaps th e b e s t in
t h i s group of p e rso n a l poems.
•
«
«
D arkling I heard
E a r th 's tim e le s s a x les w h irrin g ,
Prom seas unreckoned
The foam -slavered sea pack
Yelp on th e moon's cold t r a c e s ;
Low in t h e i r p la c e s ,
I th a t was done w ith wonder
Heard th e unhurrying g ra sse s
L isping t h e i r leaves a s u n d e r. 101
On the whole, th e poems of t h i s group in d ic a te t h a t , had Mary A ustin been
c ontent to express h e r s e l f in p o e try w ithout ty in g h er e x p ressio n t o stra n g e
th e o rie s o f " a f f e c tiv e n e s s ," she might have developed g re a t a b i l i t y a s a p o e t.
A group of m iscellan eo u s poems have Southw estern s u b je c ts .
They
a re m ainly d e s c r ip tiv e , and s u f f e r from one alm ost in escap ab le f a u l t o f de­
s c r ip tiv e v e rs e , th e i l l u s i o n t h a t th e s u b je c t i t s e l f i s im portant enough
and b e a u tif u l enough t o j u s t i f y any s o rt o f u n in sp ire d n am e-oalling and
c a ta lo g in g .
A poem about Hew Mexico, lik e a poem on any o th e r s u b je c t, i s
s u c c e ssfu l only a s th e p o e t's p e rc ep tio n s a re keenly r e a liz e d and th e exper­
ience put down a t w hite h e a t.
fo rg o t.
This sim ple and obvious f a c t Mary A u stin o fte n
A good example of how she seems to ta k e i t f o r g ran ted t h a t some
e s o te ric name w i l l s t i r a re a d e r in to doing h er (th e p o e t's ) work fo r h e r,
i s " C a lle r of B u ffa lo ."
100
,
N ation, CXXVI (1928), 156.
(la rc h 10, 1928), 38.
R ep rin ted L ite r a r y D ig est, XCVI
A tla n tic M onthly, CXLI (1928), 529.
XCVII (A p ril 14, 1928), 32.
R eprinted L ite r a r y D ig e st,
247
Not even an o c ca sio n al good s im ile such a s
■Whenever th e summer-singed p la in s ,
P a st my c a r window,
Heave and f a l l lik e th e fla n k s o f tr a il- w e a r y c a t t l e
6
can q p ite re lie v e th e monotony o f d u ll statem e n t in th e poem. Much th e
same may he sa id of "Rio Abajo,"^-®3 which i s u n in sp ire d h i s t o r i c a l r e ­
c o n s tru c tio n ; o f "The Dark H ours,"104 which does l i t t l e more th a n c a l l
o f f some euphonious Spanish v illa g e names; of an o th er poem e n t i t l e d "Rio
A bajo,"105 w ith i t s to o -e x u b e ra n t c o lo rin g ; o f "L itan y f o r New Mexico, "106
w ith i t s s t i l t e d p o e tic d io tio n ; and "Sounds,"107 w ith i t s to o f a c il e a l l e ­
g o riz in g .
There a re com pensations, o f c o u rse, in freq u en t f e l i c i t i e s in
th e rhythm , as in :
B less Him f o r th e nooning,
When th e w hite thunderheads w ith s a il s f u l l bowing
Sleep on th e th re e wind r i v e r s .
There a re fre q u e n tly e x c e lle n t p o e tic to u c h es; fo r example:
Under domed cottonwoods
That in a r a in le s s land make ev er th e sound of rain.-*-®®
In th e s e m iscellaneous poems th e re a r e , however, no sig n s o f Mrs.
A u s tin 's having learn ed anything from American In d ian s t h a t she might n o t
102
XXXII (1928), 124.
103 P o e try , XXXII (1928), 124.
104 P o e try , XXXVII (1930), 86-89.
Saturday Review of L i te r a t u r e , VI (1930), 913.
106 P o e try , XXXII (1928), 126-127.
107
I b id . , p . 123.
1 0 L itany fo r New M exico," P o e try , XXXII (1928), 126-127.
248
have learn ed from numerous p r a c titio n e r s o f th e tim e -mho had no concern
fo r Amerind v e r s e .
The rhythm ic f e l i c i t i e s in h e r fre e v erse can n o t be
d e f i n i t e l y tra c e d t o In d ian v e rs e ; add t o t h i s th e f a c t th a t h e r fre e v e rs e ,
d e sp ite i t s o c ca sio n al la p sin g in to q u ite t r a d i t i o n a l m e tric s and rhyme, i s
much f r e e r in i t s stanza forms and in th e development of i t s thought th an
In d ian poems appear to be — and th e re i s n o t th e s l i g h t e s t c lu e t o any
n e c e s s a r ily In d ia n in flu en c e in h e r form s.
T rue, many o f th e s u b je c ts ,
images, and fig u re s o f speech a re drawn from In d ian l i f e or th e Southw estern
landscape; b u t t h i s v ery f a c t , as has been p o in ted o u t, o fte n c o n s titu te s a
w eakness.
For many of th e poems re p re s e n t a s e lf-c o n s c io u s re g io n a lism
which r e f l e c t s anything b u t t h a t in tim acy w ith a reg io n which ad m itte d ly
may go to th e making of good p o e try .
Mrs. A u s tin ’s lo c a l c o lo r i s o fte n
to o h e a v ily and d e lib e r a te ly splash ed on.
N e v e rth e le ss, in two poems o f Southw estern su b je c t Mrs. A ustin does
achieve what might be c a lle d an "American rhythm ," an e x c e lle n t mimetic
e ffe c t.
That she never made s p e c if ic m ention o f th e se poems a s being among
h e r w orthy accomplishments and does n o t th e o riz e ab o u t them, p ro v e s, p erh ap s,
how poor a t h e o r i s t she was and how e x c e lle n t a poet she might have become.
110
"Drouth" i s h e ld to g e th e r and g ets i t s meaning from th e im plied concept t h a t
th e w hite man's m idw estem d ro u th is th e r e s u l t of a lo ss of power t o wish
and p ra y , a d ro u th of th e s p i r i t .
The poem i s n o t in ten d ed t o be " a f f e c tiv e " ;
i t sim ply im p lie s , w ith p o e tic lic e n s e , t h a t th e dro u th is th e r e s u l t o f th e
lo ss of s p i r i t u a l power.
I t s main purpose is th e p o rtr a y a l o f th e d e v a s ta tio n .
Southwest Review, XI (1926), 116-120.
249
What -way s h a ll a man tu rn
When e a r th and sky n e g le c t him?
•
•
•
The Drouth has taken th e land I
•
•
•
In th e Rio Grande coun try
The sta rv e d mesas tu g a t th e sky
Like c a lv e s a t th e s trip p e d dugs o f t h e i r mothers}
A ll day th e s a ffro n -c o lo re d wind s tru g g le s woundedly
For a few d ro p s, scant and u n re lie v in g
As te a r s t o th e aged.
T ruly, Drouth has tak en th e land I
There i s an im aginative p ic tu re of days when th e r a in did f a l l , and th en a
p ic tu re of rain-m aking cerem onies:
In th e Queres v illa g e s
The knowing ones a re dancing
C lo u d -c a llin g h e ad -d resses blossom t o th e b re e ze ;
Around th e p la n te d f i e l d s a l l th e gourds a re r a t t l i n g ,
R oll o f prisoned pebbles lik e th e myriad f e e t o f r a i n l
They a re dancing to th e gods o f th e m any-colored z e n ith ,
To th e o ld , kind gods o f th e g racio u s hidden f a c e s , —
Hidden in th e cloud masks, hidden in th e rainbow —
Going t o and fr o to make th e e a r th more f r u i t f u l ,
To th e dark cloud peo p le,
To th e w hite cloud peo p le,
To th e arrow lig h tn in g p eo p le,
They a re c a llin g to th e thunder
To b rin g th e growing r a i n .
This i s n e a r e s t t o th e rhythm of a Pueblo Rain Dance t h a t Mrs. A ustin ever
came, in th e e stim a tio n o f t h i s w r i t e r .
The rhythm o f th e In d ia n dance i s
an unaccented p y rrh ic drum-beat (o r spondaic, i f one p re fe rs ) suddenly
s h if tin g in tempo and p itc h a t in te r v a ls which a w hite man oannot p r e d ic t.
At th e s h i f t o f tempo and p itc h , th e r e a ls o occurs a rhythm ic v a r ia tio n ~
perhaps d a c ty lic , or a n a p e s tic , o r perhaps only an unusual m usical r e s t in ­
v o lv in g a kind o f syncopation ~ and th e dancers s te p i t out w ithout m issin g
a b eat and w ith such c o o rd in a tio n a s b a f f le s th e w hite o b serv er.
E n g lish
250
words, however, cannot he read w ith o u t s t r e s s .
be read v e ry ra p id ly in tro c h a ic s .
l i g h t l y as p o s s ib le .
can be n o te d .
Let th e above passag e, th e n ,
Let th e u n stre sse d s y lla b le s f a l l as
Then th e sudden syncopated r e s t and change o f rhythm
This w r ite r does n o t w ish t o be acoused of being f a n c if u l;
he i s aware t h a t in t h i s passage a re t o be found many tro c h e e s , w ith f r e ­
quent d a c ty lic s u b s titu tio n s , in th e manner o f Longfellow.
But he i s con­
vinced t h a t i f E nglish v e rse can ever c a tc h th e rhythm of a Pueblo Rain
Dance, th e re i s a h in t o f i t here in Sirs. A u s tin 's lin e s .
B e tte r from t h i s p o in t of view a re some lin e s in "Puye."
F rie n d ly , v e ry f r ie n d ly were th e Small-House People;
Learning Tewa wisdom, th e y drew t h e i r homes to g e th e r;
Round th e rock of Puye ranged th e Tewa h e a rth h o le s ;
So th e towns were b u ild e d .
Very many tow ns; and we ta lk e d a c ro ss th e housetops
By th e smoke sig n s and th e tomibes
Navawi and S hufine, Ottowi and Tsankawi,
C a llin g them t o Puye.
Wherever Mrs• A u s tin 's tro ch ees give way to d a c ty ls (and th e re a re no o th e r
s u b s titu tio n s ) may be heard th e s h i f t in th e rhythm o f th e dance.
The whole m a tte r, however, i s o f l i t t l e im portance.
I f th e se r e l e n t ­
le s s tro c h e e s re p re s e n t, w ith some s tre tc h in g of th e im ag in atio n , th e rhythm
of th e In d ia n Rain Dance, s t i l l th e r e is no g re a t disoovery or in n o v atio n
f o r E ng lish v e rs e , tro c h e e s having long been o f prominence in t r a d i t i o n a l
E nglish m e tric s .
And i f th e s? tro c h e e s re p re s e n t th e c lo s e s t p o s sib le ap ­
proxim ation in English t o th e "indigenous American rhythm ," then one may
w e ll dism iss as unim portant th e search f o r an American rhjjthm, sin c e t r o ­
chees a re so r i t u a l i s t i c , so r e l e n t l e s s l y m echanical, so im possible to
manage w ith a s u b je c t m a tte r of any s u b tle ty .
I f th e fre e -v e rs e medium
N atio n , CXXIV (1927), 202-203. The poem was awarded second
p riz e in th e N a tio n 's p o e try c o n te s t f o r 1927.
251
y ie ld s only so m eth in g :fre e , which can be t i e d to no ra o e , no tim e , no environ­
ment, and no o ccu p atio n al endeavor; and i f , to g e t a convincing Amerind n o te
we have f i n a l l y t o r e s o r t t o tro c h e e s , th e n i t appears t h a t Mrs. A u s tin 's
whole attem p t in The American Rhythm t o prove an i d e n ti ty between our forms
and th e In d ia n s ' i s one long wasted e f f o r t .
Perhaps she suspected j u s t t h a t ;
and fo r t h i s reaso n pleaded fo r a tte n tio n t o th e In d ia n 's r e lig io n , communalmindedness, and p sy ch o lo g ical in te g r a tio n .
CHAPTER V II
THEORY AND PRACTICE OF THE SHORT STORY
As Mary A ustin thought along th e lin e s of an indigenous American
a e s th e tic s , she developed a th e o ry o f th e sh o rt s to ry , which she s e t fo r th
in an a r t i c l e ^ published alm ost sim u ltan eo u sly w ith h e r best-known c o lle c t i o n o f t a l e s , One Smoke S to r ie s *
Her th e o ry o f th e sh o rt s to ry i s com­
p arab le to h er th e o ry o f th e "glyp h ," sin ce in both she i n s i s t s upon con­
d en sa tio n and both a re a s s e rte d t o be r e s u l t s o f h er knowledge of In d ia n s ’
ways.
The s to r ie s a r e , la rg e ly , fre e o f lo c a l-c o lo r rom anticism , o f th e
u su a l magazine "sm artn ess," and of s e lf-c o n sc io u s n e s s.
They a re m ainly
^ Mary A u stin , "The Folk S to ry in A m erica," South A tla n tic Q u a rte rly ,
XXXIII (1934), 10-19.
2 Mary A u stin , One Smoke S to rie s (Boston and New York, 1934).
® T/!hat she saw in Indian a r t , to o , i s in lin e w ith h er th e o ry of th e
"glyph" and o f th e s h o r t- s to r y . Her idea o f th e "g ly p h ," in d eed , o rig in a te d
from h e r o b serv atio n o f th e In d ia n ’ s p i c t o r i a l d esig n . She speaks of th e
In d ia n ’ s flta le n t f o r occupying space w ith o u t f i l l i n g i t , " o f h is power of
a b s tr a c tio n , of h is system o f p ic tu r e - w r itin g t h a t "needs only t o be pointed
out to make i t s e l f f e l t as h ig jily r e a l i s t i c and s a t i s f y i n g ," of h is funda­
m ental and s t i l l u n sp o ile d suggestiv en ess and c r e a tiv e n e s s . - - "American
Indian M urals," American Magazine o f A r t, XXVI (1933), 380-384. In glyph,
in s to r y , in p i c t o r i a l d e sig n , she th o u g h t, th e In d ian could p o in t th e way.
B ut, as u s u a l, she l e t s th e c a t out o f th e b ag . " I t is n o t a lto g e th e r unAmerican t o th in k — as th e Navajo do — of h e a lth and h e a lin g being wrought
by a communal p ro d u ctio n of b eauty and m y s tic a l meaning in a san d -p ain tin g "
(i b i d . , p . 384), she say sj so t h a t a re a d e r i s exceedingly suspioious when
she says t h a t th e se th in g s (In d ian a r t s ) a re n o t mere o u rio s but " a n c e s tra l
m a te ria l t o express th e profoundest p re se n t in s ig h t . . . tho ro u g h ly n a tiv e
in a l l t h e i r im p lic a tio n s ." ( i b i d . ) For she is ju s t where she a rriv e d in
The American Rhythm, a t th e p o in t o f a sk in g h e r re a d er to b elie v e im p lic itl y
in th e v alu e to us o f th e In d ia n s ’ e s s e n t ia l ly a n im is tic id eas and c u re working a c t i v i t i e s .
253
such t a l e s a s might be to ld around a W estern cam pfire, naive in t h a t th e y
re p re s e n t nonolim actio b u t n e v e rth e le s s fra n k ly s e n s a tio n a l n a r r a tiv e ; b u t
a r t f u l in t h a t th e modes of t e l l i n g and th e q u a l itie s o f th e minds and n a­
tu r e s o f th e t e l l e r s a re made t o come through w ith o u t apparent e f f o r t .
have an o r a l, p o p u lar, and f o lk - lik e q u a lity .
They
Read f o r e n tertain m en t, and
w ithout any re g a rd to Mary A u s tin 's t h e o r ie s , them es, or o b sessio n s, th e y
a r e , on th e w hole, an a r t i s t i c achievem ent.
The book re v e als a sid e of
Mrs. A u s tin 's n a tu re which h e r oth er w ritin g s to o seldom show — a r ic h
sense of humor, a g re a t genius fo r in fo rm al s t o r y - t e l l i n g , a deep in t e r e s t
in human n a tu re as i t i s , th e love of a good t a l e no m atter how r ib a ld .
For
Mary A u stin , b esid es being a " c h ise ra " and an i n t e l l e c t u a l , was a kind o f
orphan o f th e West, who knew p ro s p e c to rs, sh ee p -h e rd e rs, s ta g e -d r iv e r s ,
m ining camp h a b itu e s , and rough male s o c ie ty in g e n e ra l.
w ith h er not t o be m erely g e n te e l.
I t was a p rin c ip le
Ond Smoke S to r ie s reoords some phases
of W estern l i f e w ith re a lis m and w ith e x c e lle n t humor.
And y e t One Smoke S to rie s i s a v ery uneven perform ance.
I t co n tain s
one s to ry w ritte n as e a r ly as 1897, w ith th e condescending note o f th e lo c a l c o lo r sc h o o l.
manner.
Another i s an e a r ly " th e s is " s to r y r e w ritte n in th e new fo lk
The tim e of com position o f th e s t o r i e s rim s alm ost th e whole gamut
of Mrs. A u s tin 's c a r e e r.
Many s to r ie s r e v e r t to some of h er old them es.
Her th e o ry , th e n , appears t o have been fa b ric a te d somewhat in dependently of
th e a c tu a l m a te ria l o f th e book.
Mrs. A u s tin 's attem p t t o prove by p re c e p t and example th a t th e c u rre n t
magazine s to ry was a r t i f i c i a l , sh allo w , and u n r e a l i s t i c , a s w ell a s h e r c r i t i ­
cism o f an e a r l i e r lo c a l c o lo r mode, was p a rt of a g en eral c r i t i c a l a tt a c k .
For many y e a r s , th e " lo c a l o o lo r" school had been under a clo u d .^
Sherwood
^ See, f o r example, th e c h a r a c te r i s tic "high-brow" a t t i t u d e expressed
in C a rl Van Doren, Contemporary American N o v e lis ts , 1900-1920 (New York, 1922),
pp. 1-23.
—
254
Anderson and o th ers had c r i t i c i z e d th e a r t i f i c i a l i t y of th e s to r ie s in
b oth th e " s l ic k s ” and " p u lp s."
P ro fe sso r F. L. P a tte e , as e a r ly as 1915,
had had h is doubts about th e jo u rn a liz a tio n o f th e sh o rt s to r y .
Mrs.
A ustin makes no charge th a t had n o t been r a th e r abundantly made in th e
preceding f i f t e e n or tw enty y e a rs; in d eed , some of h er com plaints are
rem in iscen t o f th e c r itiq u e by James Lane A llen
of th e re ig h of d ia le c t
and lo c a liz e d romance in th e e ig h te e n -s e v e n tie s and - e ig h t ie s .
J u s t as
t(
>>
A lle n ’s l i t e r a r y g en eratio n sought a tr u e r re a lism — sometimes v e ritis m —
so did a l a t e r g en eratio n complain o f th e w rite rs o f th e 'n in e tie s and th e
e a r ly years of th e tw e n tie th c en tu ry .
Mary A ustin had in e f f e c t a t le a s t
two g e n eratio n s of w rite rs behind h er who could have to ld h er o f th e f a l ­
la c y of " slo sh in g th e re a d e r about" in d ia le c t and lo c a l-c o lo r d e t a i l s .
C h a r a c te r is tic a lly , however, she bases h e r a tta c k , n o t on g en eral c r i t i c a l
p r in c ip le s , but on in s ig h ts she p reten d s t o have gained from a knowledge
o f "fo lk " m a te r ia ls .
N e v erth ele ss, she is n o t to be denied th e d isco v ery
fo r h e r s e lf o f a m uch-desired n a tu ra ln e s s , h o n esty , s p o n ta n e ity , and fr e s h ­
ness in th e fo lk t a l e and in h er own a d a p ta tio n of th e fo lk t a l e .
"The Folk S tory in America" i s , even fo r Mrs. A u stin , a bad ly mud­
d led perform ance.
I t opens w ith c r it ic i s m o f th e lo c a l-c o lo r fash io n s o f
th e ’n in e tie s when Mary A ustin began, as a p r a c tic in g w r ite r , t o be i n t e r ­
e s te d in s t o r i e s .
She complains o f th e ir r e le v a n t e lu c id a tio n and th e
g
American L ite r a tu r e sin ce 1870 (New York, 1915). C f. a ls o P a tte e ,
"The True S ta tu s of th e American Short S to ry ," T ra d itio n and Jazz (New
York and London, 1925), pp. 150-174; and The Development o f th e American
S hort S to ry (New York and London, 1923), pp. 337-376.
g
In H a rp e r 's , January, 1886.
ic a n Short S to ry , p . 312.
See P a tte e , Development of th e Amer­
255
th ic k ly spread c o lo r of th e popular magazine s to r ie s o f h er youth.
Having
long lik e d th e f o lk - ta l e o f "the A n c ie n ts," she had come v e ry e a r ly in l i f e
to th e n o tio n th a t c o lo r ought to be something a lre a d y e x is tin g in th e
r e a d e r 's mind, "something you ought t o f in d a lre a d y on th e r e a d e r 's hands,
th e background a lre a d y com pletely e x is t e n t, as in f a i r y t a l e s or in such a
p e rfe c t s h o r t- s to r y as th a t of th e woman ta k e n in a d u lte ry , in th e B ib le.
"The people were sim ply th e re w ith a given p a tte rn o f re a c tio n s and th e
s to ry happened."®
atmosphere . . .
In ste a d of th e u su a l magazine s to r y w ith i t s "whole
so com pletely drenched w ith lo c a l c o lo r t h a t you c o u ld n 't
get in to th e s to ry any way but by g e ttin g y o u rs e lf th o ro u g h ly slo sh ed about
in it," ®
she wanted "a c e r ta in s o li d ity and a lik e n e s s of th e underpinning
of a l l s t o r i e s ," something she could ta k e fo r granted lik e "the u n iv e r s a lity
o f motive and behavior in a s to ry lik e C in d e r e lla ."10
And alth o u g h she can
fo rg iv e th e lo c a l c o lo r is ts t h e i r ex cessiv e e lu c id a tio n , e x p la n a tio n , and
d e s c rip tio n on th e ground t h a t th e se were n e c e ssa ry in view of th e d if f e r in g
m anners, custom s, and modes of behavior in p a r tic u la r l o c a l i t i e s , she h e r­
s e l f has always been in sea rc h of a "provocative in c o m p le te n e ss,"H a s u b tle r
su g g e stiv e n e ss.
7
"The F olk S tory in A m erica," lo c . c i t . , p . 10.
8 Ib id «
9
^
I
b
i d
*
I b i d ., p . 11.
^ The phrase "provocative incom pleteness" i s r e a lly a p p lie d t o "g ly p h s,"
The American Rhythm, p . 77. But i t is th e g is t o f h er idea h e re .
256
There follow s a long d isco u rse on sheep-dogs and on how Mary A ustin
"came up through th e animal experience t o th e man n a tu re and th e genuine
s t u f f of r e a l i s t i c fiction*?j
12
how she could t e l l s to r ie s to sheep-dogs in
term s o f t h e i r h a b itu a l occupation and r e a c tio n s , m ainly w ith s ig n s , and
be understood.
She speaks o f a u to - s to r y te llin g among an im als, and by some
q u e stio n ab le reaso n in g a r r iv e s a t th e n o tio n t h a t th e fundam ental of t a l e
t e l l i n g i s "normal in c id e n ts o f l i f e p ra c tic e a s r e h e a r s a l, "13 — by ^ i c h
she undoubtedly means t h a t th e e f f e c t of a t a l e upon p rim itiv e s and c h ild re n
a t l e a s t i s due to th e f a c t t h a t every elem ent of i t — background, charac­
t e r s 1 m otives, in c id e n t i t s e l f — i s a lre a d y th o ro u g h ly f a m ilia r , so t h a t
th e t a l e i s b u t th e r e h e a rs a l of something a lre a d y known or even h a b itu a lly
done.
This f a c t , she im p lie s , accounts fo r th e g re a t to le ra n c e of In d ian s
and c h ild re n toward r e p e titio n in a s to ry or t a l e .
She becomes trem endously
involved in an attem p t to e x p la in th e d iffe re n c e between t a l e s among In d ian s
w ith r e lig io u s or e s o te ric s ig n ific a n c e , and th o se t a l e s w hich, having lo s t
t h e i r e s o te r ic s ig n ific a n c e fo r th e In d ia n , e x is t only as b i t s of l i t e r a t u r e .
She endeavors to emphasize th e re a lism o f th e In d ia n ’s manner o f t e l l i n g ,
which w ill grow, she h o ld s , as more and more myths a re re le a s e d from r i t u a l
and become p a rt of a m erely l i t e r a r y h e r ita g e .
She re tu rn s t o h er p o in t
t h a t in In d ia n " te llin g s " th e environment must com pletely "disappear in to
th e s to r y , w ith nothing l e f t o v e r , "14 no q u e stio n s rem aining t o be ask ed ,
12 iijbe Folk S to ry in A m erica," lo c . c i t . , p . 13. Her ch ap ter on
sheep-dogs in The Flock gives th e same m a te ria l; see a ls o E arth H orizon,
pp. 215-216, and Helen M. Doyle, Mary A u stin , Woman o f Genius (New York,
1939), pp. 125-126.
13iiThe Folk S to ry in A m erica," lo c . c i t . , p . 13.
I b i d . , p . 15.
no e x p lan a tio n s o ffe re d .
And ag ain she p o in ts out th a t th e economy of
method in th e In d ia n 's t a l e i s no mere t r i c k of w ords, "but th e e s s e n tia l
item o f th e t e l l e r ’ s g rip on th e q u a lity o f l i f e ou t of which th e s to ry
issu e d ." ^ -® Mrs. A ustin c lo se s w ith an elo q u en t b u t non-too-convincing p lea
f o r more a tte n tio n to Indian and Southw estern fo lk lo re g e n e ra lly .
She
speaks of a " f e lt need o f g e n e ric a lly American e x p re ssiv e n e ss, f ig u r e s , i l ­
lu s tr a tio n s fo r th e n a tiv e q u a lity o f our n a tio n a l l i f e which s h a ll have an
i n t r i n s i c a l l y American s ig n ific a n c e , th in g s seen or remembered which take
only n a tiv e c o lo r, give back only a t r u l y A m erican/resonance, something
more v a lid th a n th e faded hues of European myth"; f o r , she say s, we a re no
longer Europeans, "we a re th e F olk, th e p re s e n t American r e a l i t y , disposed
t o r e a liz e on our immense and c o lo rfu l in h e rita n c e of F olkness.
As in The American Rhythm, a re a d e r who looks fo r l ig h t upon form and
tech n iq u e vhich w ill apply to contemporary w r ite r s or h elp a contemporary
c r i t i c , is d isa p p o in te d .
th o u g h t.
A ll he g ets i s a vague p le a fo r Amerind modes o f
And a l l he i s thoroughly convinced of is t h a t Amerind lo re i s as
dead as "faded European myth."
duced some p r a c tic a l h in ts .
And y et from Mrs. A u s tin 's essay can be de­
The "fo lk " method of s t o r y - t e l l i n g may te ac h
economy o f w ording, th e om ission of e x p lan a to ry condenscension tow ards ch ar­
a c te r s , th e om ission of d e s c rip tio n , th e assum ption by th e w rite r o f th e
whole scheme of unexpressed v alu es of h is in ten d ed au d ien ce.
th in g s Mrs. A ustin seems to be try in g to do in h er s t o r i e s .
c e p tio n s , her s to r ie s a re n o t "fo lk " s t o r i e s .
At l e a s t , th e se
Yfith a few ex­
They have n o t e x is te d b efo re
258
in any o ra l t r a d i t i o n ,
vilhat she seems t o be aim ing a t in p r a c tic e , th e n ,
is to r e l a t e some in c id e n ts of f a i r l y common experience so t h a t th e y w ill
seem t o be a s w ell-w eathered, as in n a te in our ex p erien ce, as com pletely
w ithout need of e x p la n a tio n or defence as i s a genuine piece o f f o lk lo re
t o members o f th e f o lk who s t i l l know what a liv in g " o ra l t r a d i t i o n " i s .
In th e e x p o sitio n o f h e r th e o ry she i s c a rrie d away in to m y stic a l v enera­
t i o n of anything and e v ery th in g t h a t i s In d ian and o f th e f o lk ; and so she
e n t i r e l y fo rg e ts t h a t in p ra c tic e she i s only a v ery o rd in ary jco n scio u s
l i t e r a r y a r t i s t , r e - t e l l i n g t a l e s which a re n o t a l l " fo lk " t a l e s b u t th e
f a b r ic a tio n s , m ainly, of a w r ite r who o fte n had an axe t o g rin d .
Mary A u stin , o f c o u rse, d id no t p re te n d t h a t a l l h er s t o r ie s were
Indian or f o lk t a l e s .
" . . .
th e form i s so adm irably c o n triv e d f o r o ra l
t e l l i n g t h a t a l l anecdote in th e In d ian co u n try ten d s t o f a l l in to th a t
shape, which accounts f o r my in c lu d in g in t h i s c o lle c tio n t a l e s o f o th e r
peoples th a n I n d ia n s ."17
days.
S ev eral s to r ie s go back to th e e a r ly C a lifo rn ia
"The Conversion o f Ah Lew Sing"*® is re p rin te d unchanged.
.Antelope,"*® from L ost B orders, i s r e p r in te d .
"The Last
I t d e als w ith th e love of an
in a r tic u la te sheep-herder fo r an old a n telo p e which ap p ears a t a c e r ta in
grazin g p lace every y ear and p uts i t s e l f under th e h e r d e r 's p ro te c tio n ;
17 Mary A u stin , " In tro d u c tio n ," One Smoke S to r ie s , p. x iv .
*® F i r s t p u b lish ed in Overland Monthly, XXX (1897), 307-312.
*® Mary A u stin , Lost Borders (New York and London, 1909), pp. 6581. The s to ry o r ig in a lly appeared in A tla n tic Monthly, XCII (1903), 2428. I t must have been a f a v o r ite w ith e i th e r Mrs. A u stin or v a rio u s e d i­
t o r s , f o r a f t e r th e r e p r in tin g in Lost Borders and One Smoke S to r ie s , i t
came out a ls o in S c h o la s tic , XXV (1934), pp. 5 -6 . I t i s an "orphan1*- in
Lost B orders, sin ce i t does n o t r e l a t e t o th e r e s t o f th e book by theme
or to n e or in te n tio n . Nor, w ith i t s s e lf-c o n sc io u s l i t e r a r y q u a l i t i e s
and sen tim en talism , does i t belong in One Smoke S to r ie s .
259
■when a h e a r tle s s homesteader shoots th e buck, L i t t l e P ete i s g r ie f - s tr ic k e n .
I t i s s e n tim e n ta l, and was no doubt d e f in ite l y tim e ly in 1903, when th e con­
s e rv a tio n movement under R oosevelt was g ain in g ad h eren ts and when th e a n i­
mal s to r ie s o f Thompson and th e Reverend
Some o f th e s to r ie s r e l a t e
Long were p o p u la r.
t o th e i n te r e s t s Mary A ustin had w hile she
was w ritin g Lost B orders, from 1900 t o 1907.
"The Man Who Lied about a Wo­
man” shows th a t a p rim itiv e woman
can be v ery unconventional (from th e
w hite man's p o in t of view) in h er
sex u al behavior when th e r e
i s a n e c e s s ity
of keeping h e r independence of a s t r u t t i n g , ly in g young b ra g g a rt o f a husband
idiom she must show up as a l i a r even a t th e o o st o f b e a rin g him a b a s ta rd .
I t i s b u t th e theme of woman's " d ire c tn e s s ," th e theme o f Lost B orders.
"The Woman Who Was Never S a tis f ie d " bu t r e - t e l l s an e a r l i e r Lost Borders
s to r y , "The R eadjustm ent," in v o lv in g th e re tu rn o f th e s p i r i t of a dead
w ife t o haunt h e r husband.
In th e e a r l i e r s to ry , however, th e s p i r i t o f th e
woman re tu rn s t o preach t o h er husband th e d o c trin e t h a t Mary A ustin wanted
S. W. A u stin to le a rn and h o ld ; in t h i s s to r y , w ith Navajo In d ian s e tt in g ,
th e woman re tu rn s from th e dead and i s s a t i s f i e d when she i s accompanied
back in to death by th e s p i r i t o f an o th er dead person.
"Papago Wedding" and "The Man Who Was Loved by Women" r e l a t e d e f i n ite ly
to th e m arriage theme of th e Lost Borders p e rio d .
In th e f i r s t s to ry , a
Papago woman has liv e d w ith a w hite man, S h u le r, f o r y ears and borne him
fiv e c h ild re n , a l l w ith o u t a "m arriage w ritin g " ; th e man has f a ll e n in love
w ith a w hite woman and w ishes to improve h is s ta tu s in th e now A nglicized
community by g e ttin g r i d o f th e Papago woman.
But he wants custody o f th e
260
c h ild re n .
The Papago woman in c o u rt calm ly announces t h a t th e c o u rt can­
n o t give away o th er men's c h ild re n to S huler ~ th a t a l l fiv e c h ild re n have
had a d if f e r e n t f a th e r and t h a t S huler i s n o t th e f a th e r of a sin g le one
o f them.
The lawyers a re bew ildered and th e judge sym pathetic.
The Papago
woman announces, however, th a t i f S huler "wants people t o th in k hees th e
f a th e r of th e e s c h ild re n he b e tte r g i f f me a w r itin g .
so m y self."
Then maybe I th in k
Thus th e unconventional competence o f "d e se rt woman" in th e
manner o f Lost B orders.
Likewise "The Man ’vVho Was Loved by Women" r e l a t e s
a competent Navajo woman's method o f ta k in g th e p rid e out o f a man who l a ­
ments t h a t he "cannot h e lp what happens to him on account of a woman."
She,
r ic h in sheep and h o rs e s , m arries him, p reten d in g sympathy fo r h is w eakness.
But th e n she makes him madly je a lo u s by e n te r ta in in g many lo v e rs h e r s e lf and
p lead in g h is own excuse.
I t i s a humorous tre a tm e n t o f th e theme o f Lost
Borders and of Love and th e Soul Maker and No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t , and M rs.
A u stin r e l a t e s i t w ith a g re a t d e a l of glee as i f i t were a gem o f Navajo
wisdom.
"Lone Tree" and "Papago Kid" a ls o have th e atmosphere o f some o f th e
s to r ie s in L ost B orders, th e s to r ie s which r e l a t e ro m a n tic a lly how th e West
fa s c in a te s and th e n to r t u r e s men.
In many re s p e c ts th e y s u ffe r a l l th e
" lo c a l c o lo r" lim ita tio n s o f th e s to r ie s o f B ret B arte or Owen W ister.
Indeed, "Lone Tree" i s d e f i n i t e l y comparable t o TiTister's "La T in aja B o n ita ,"
and "Papago Kid" to H a rte 's "T ennessee's P a rtn e r."
"Lone Tree" t e l l s o f a
p ro sp e cto r who, out of sh ee r anger w ith th e c ru e l country, t e a r s up a shrub
whioh grows out of a t h i n l y running sp rin g and th e n d ie s of t h i r s t l a t e r
when he re tu rn s to th e sp rin g to fin d i t d rie d u p .
"Papago Kid" r e l a t e s
261
th e love of a mining engineer fo r an I r i s h la d , tu b e r c u la r , who tram ps
th e d e s e rt and ach iev es a m y stic a l love fo r th e lan d .
A fte r th e Kid has
died in a Tucson h o s p ita l, h is frie n d sees him tru d g in g through th e d e s e rt
going in th e d ir e c tio n of a Papago h u t ■where liv e s th e In d ian maiden th e
Kid had loved but had re fu sed t o marry because he had n o t -wanted to s e t t l e
down and miss see in g th e c r u e l b e a u tie s o f changing seasons in th e d e s e r t.
Most u n -f o lk -lik e i s Mrs. A u s tin 's rom antic overemphasis upon th e d e s e r t's
beauty and c r u e lty , upon th e way in which men go a b i t insane th e r e , and,
in th e l a t t e r s to r y , upon th e s tro n g , manly love of th e engineer f o r th e
wayward, p o e tic , v is io n a ry I r i s h " k id ."
There i s l i t t l e in i t to in d ic a te
th e fo lk method.
A ll th e One Smoke S to r ie s th u s f a r surveyed p o in t d e f in it e ly t o th e
in t e r e s t s in which Mary A u stin was absorbed between 1897 and 1909, and some
of th e s to r ie s were a c tu a lly published a t t h a t tim e .
A second group appear
t o have been a l l w ritte n between 1918 and 1934, and a ll" give more th e im­
p re s sio n of having been w r itte n fo r m ild ly p ro p a g a n d istic purposes th a n fo r
th e purpose o f i l l u s t r a t i n g a f o lk method.
A ll p o rtra y th e In d ian in con­
t a c t w ith w hite c i v i l i z a t i o n and a l l p o in t th e le ss o n , in one way or a n o th e r,
t h a t th e attem p t o f m is sio n a rie s and m o ra lis ts t o make th e In d ian a secondr a te w hite man i s a f a ls e approach.
The In d ia n 's ways a re good ways, and
should be l e f t i n t a c t , each o f th e s to r ie s in t h i s group say s.
I t was be­
tween 1918 and 1928 th a t Mary A u stin was ta k in g a g re a t d e al o f p r a c tic a l
i n t e r e s t in In d ia n a f f a i r s .
In t h i s second group of s to r ie s belong "A'wa
Tseighe Comes Home A gain," "White Wisdom," "Kosteen H atsanai R ec a n ts," and
"Mixed Blood."
" P la in ly , Presbyfcerianism was a kind o f b r u je r ia £ w itc h craft3
a g a in s t which any w ife was j u s t i f i e d in c re a tin g an o p p o rtu n ity .
She might
even s e t up a c o u n ts r - b r u je r ia , a s , f o r in s ta n c e , sin c e pants were V en u stian o 's
262
o b s e s s io n j t h e Taos In d ia n s i n s i s t e d on b l a n k e t s j , a g a in s t t h a t , a f ig u r e
o f him s tr ip p e d o f h i s proud b ifu r c a te d p o s s e s s io n , b la n k e t e n c a se d , t o
h id e w ith a p p r o p r ia te r i t e s in th e brush s h e a th in g o f t h e c e i l i n g over h i s
b e d .”20 jEmphasis s u p p lie d ^ That i s th e language o f th e l i t e r a r y p erso n ,
c o n d e sc e n d in g ly humorous, n o t th e language o f t h e f o lk t a l e .
But th e s t o r y ,
l i k e th e t h r e e o th e r s in t h i s group, makes i t s p o in t w e l l , w ith o u t b e in g to o
m o r a lis tic .
I t i s a good s t o r y , but i f i t i s a t r u e "One Smoke," th en so
a r e K ip lin g ’ s , B ret H a r t e 's , and 0 . H en ry 's.
When M rs. A u stin g e t s in t o Spanish-A m erican f o l k lo r e f o r her m ater­
i a l s , she i s , o f c o u r se , on good "One Smoke" ground, n ot b ecau se her th e o r y
demands t h a t a t a l e be a u th e n tic f o lk l o r e , b u t becau se h er manner draws
c lo s e r t o t h e in fo r m a l, n on ex p la n a to ry manner o f th e f o lk t a l e .
"The D e v il
in Texas" and "The E a n d it's P rayer," h avin g "Pedro de Urdema?fas" a s c e n t r a l
c h a r a c te r , e i t h e r are sim p le r e - t e l l i n g s o f a u th e n tic Spanish f o l k lo r e
adapted t o New M exico, or a r e f a b r ic a t io n s in v o lv in g an elem ent o f f o lk
lo r e .
"The D e v il in T ex a s," r e m in isc e n t o f S p an ish p ic a re sq u e s t o r i e s ,
and s l i g h t l y analogou s in i t s s it u a t io n t o a cowboy b a lla d o f t h e same
title
i n John E. Lomax's c o l l e c t i o n , and t o t h e E n g lis h b a lla d , "The Far­
m er's C urst W ife," in v o lv e s th e d e sc e n t o f Pedro i n t o h e l l and t h e d e v i l ' s
so jo u rn in T e x a s, where sandstorm s, c a c t u s , c h i l e , and longhorn c a t t l e
ca u se him t o d e c id e t o r e tu r n t o th e com parative p le a s u r e s o f h e l l .
"The
B a n d it's P r a y e r," w ith i t s c le v e r t h i e v i n g e p is o d e , a padre t h e v ic t im o f
20 One Smoke S t o r i e s , p . 2 9 1 .
263
th e r o g u e 's c le v e r n e s s , i s a lm o st o e r t a in ly in v o lv e d in f o lk lo re *
21
As
s t o r i e s t h e s e a r e d e l i g h t f u l and f u l f i l l e x a c t ly Mrs. A u s t in 's d e f i n i t i o n
o f th e " fo lk ” m ethod, -whatever th e p r o f e s s io n a l f o l k l o r i s t might th in k o f
h er r e n d e r in g s .
In "La V is it a " one s u s p e c ts a f o lk lo r e o r ig in .
M ichael makes a v i s i t a t o Hew M exico.
The A rchangel
An arch b ish o p i s u n b e lie v in g and
o n ly th in k s he need s new s p e c t a c l e s , a r ic o ( r i c h man) d is m is s e s a govern ess
because he th in k s th e f a i r y t a l e s she t e l l s h i s c h ild r e n a r e g iv in g them
str a n g e n o t io n s , but a poor sh eep -h erd er f a l l s upon h i s knees and s a y s ,
21
I t i s a d i f f i c u l t m atter t o t r a c e . Mrs. A u stin changes th e name
o f th e rogue t o Pedro de Urdemanas. A u r e lio M. E sp in o sa , "Uew-Mexican Spanish
Folk-Lore',' Journal o f American F o lk -L o re, XXVII (1 9 1 4 ), 1 0 5 -1 4 7 , g iv e s th e
f o llo w in g v a r ia n ts s U rd im ales, U rdim alas, O rd im ales, O rdim alas, and a popu­
la r co n ta m in a tio n , A n im a les. He does n o t m ention UrdemaXas. Urdemanas,
how ever, means l i t e r a l l y "worker o f t r i c k s ," and s in c e some c o ll e c t o r s have
heard t h i s form o f th e name in New M exico, "Urdemanas" i s und oubtedly a c a se
o f popular etym ology, and Mrs. A u stin cou ld e a s i l y have heard t h a t form o f i t .
E sp in o sa , how ever, reco rd s no t a l e in v o lv in g Pedro d i U rdim ales in which any
in c id e n t i s even re m o te ly l i k e th e in c id e n t in M rs. A u s t in 's s t o r y . In one
o f th e M exican v e r s io n s o f th e Pedro t a l e s reco rd ed by J . A lden Mason,
" F olk -T ales o f th e T epecanos," J o u rn al o f American F o lk -L o re, XXVII (1 9 1 4 ),
1 4 8 -2 1 0 , Pedro a r r iv e s i n h e l l , gam bles w ith a l l t h e d e v i l s , w ins t h e i r s o u l s ,
and d r iv e s them o u t. In a n oth er t a l e he i s a c le v e r t r i o k s t e r , but th e r e i s
no in c id e n t e x a c t ly l i k e any in c id e n t in e it h e r o f Mrs. A u s t in 's t a l e s .
E sp in o sa , "Comparative N otes on New Mexican and M exican Spanish
F o lk -T a le s ," Journal o f American F o lk -L o re, XXVII (1 9 1 4 ), 211-2 3 1 , g iv e s a
b r i e f h i s t o r y o f th e Pedro d i Urdim ales t a l e s . C ervantes u sed Pedro a s a
c h a r a c te r in a minor p la y . By d e r iv a t io n , p ro b a b ly , from p ic a re sq u e m ater­
i a l s unworthy o f p u b lic a tio n in th e s ix t e e n t h c e n tu r y , Pedro became a hero
in o r a l t r a d i t i o n , and s t o r i e s about him e x i s t in th e f o l k - l o r e o f M exico,
New M exico, C a lif o r n ia , C h ile , and, o f c o u r s e , S p ain ; and th e r e are c lo s e
a n a lo g u e s, E spinosa w r i t e s , in "a s e r i e s o f European t a l e s . "
There i s , o f c o u r s e , no doubt t h a t Mrs. A u stin was d e a lin g w ith
th e Pedro d i Urdim ales o f New-Mexican Spanish f o l k l o r e . In "The D e v il in
Texas" she r e v e a ls th a t she i s aware o f h i s u ltim a te S p an ish o r ig i n . Ralph
S . B oggs, Index o f Spanish F o l k - t a l e s , F o lk lo r e F e llo w Communications No. 90
( H e ls in k i, 1 9 3 0 ), g iv e s no m o tifs th a t resem ble t h e main s i t u a t i o n s in Mrs.
A u s t in 's s t o r i e s . Mrs. A u s t in 's t a l e s a r e p rob ab ly l o c a l in c id e n t s which
have a tta c h e d th e m se lv e s t o th e name o f P edro, or l o c a l v a r ia n ts o f Pedro
s to r ie s .
264
"’ Great Lord, w i l l i t p le a s e you t o b l e s s me b e fo r e you g o t ’ " ^
"The
A lc a ld e o f Ojo Verdoso" concern s a personage o f t h a t t i t l e who goes t o
Heaven and i s t o ld by th e A rchangel M ichael t h a t he may make th e " c h o ic e
o f th e so u l" in d e c id in g how he w i l l spend e t e r n i t y .
and d u lc im e r s, a s g r e a t h o s ts o f s o u ls d o.
whose h e a r ts have become a s l i t t l e
He may j o in th e h o s ts o f th o s e
c h ild r e n ’ s .
have come up in g rea t t r i b u l a t io n ."
He may p la y on harps
He may j o i n th e s a i n t s "who
But t h i s n a iv e s o u l , u n ab le t o d e c id e
and knowing he can n ever do a " d e v il-tr a m p in g a c t" a s S a in t M ichael had
done, bows low t o th e Holy M ichael and s a y s , " ' I f i t i s a l l th e same t o
you, B le s se d S i r , I choose t o go back and be A lc a ld e o f Ojo V e r d o s o .’ "23
I t i s ob viou s from th e s t y l e th a t Mrs. A u stin i s doing her own t e l l i n g , n o t
m erely r e c o r d in g ; but a g a in she i s working in p e r fe c t accord an ce w ith her
th e o r y .
There i s no e x p la n a tio n , no p a tr o n iz in g commentary on th e s im p l ic i t y
or th e u n u su a ln ess o f th e c h a r a c te r s or t h e background.
"The P o lit e n e s s o f G uesta la P lata" and "Stewed Beans" p u r p o r te d ly
r e la t e modem in s t a n c e s .
"The P o lit e n e s s o f G uesta la P la ta " has t o do w ith
th e o ld -w o r ld g r a c io u s n e s s and c o u r te s y o f t h e two hundred in h a b ita n ts o f a
Hew M exican v i l l a g e in t h e days o f t h e ’world War.
a s a m odem in s ta n c e among Apache I n d ia n s .
"Stewed Beans" i s t o ld
A husband who s u s p e c ts he i s
b ein g cuck old ed l e t s t h e whole t r i b e know t h a t he knows, th u s c o m p le te ly
?2
One Smoke S t o r i e s , p . 150.
I b id . , p . 157. Halph S . B oggs, "A Comparative Survey o f th e F olk ­
t a l e s o f Ten P e o p le s," F o lk lo r e F e llo w s Com m unications, Ho. 93 ( H e ls in k i,
1 9 3 0 ), p . 11, s a y s : "Spanish, co m p a ra tiv ely poor in m agic t a l e s , i s th e
r ic h e s t in r e li g io u s t a l e s , t h a t i s , t a l e s d e a lin g w ith C h r is t , t h e V ir g in ,
s a i n t s , and oth er C h r is tia n m a te r ia l." In Bogg’ s t a b le (p p . 8 - 9 ) , S pan ish
r e l i g i o u s t a l e s are fo u r te e n p e r c e n t o f a l l S p an ish t a l e s in d ex ed ; b u t in
Boggs' An Index t o S p an ish F o lk t a le s t h e r e i s no r e fe r e n c e t o S a in t M ichael
(San M igu el) and no m o tif l i k e t h a t o f M rs. A u s t in 's s t o r y .
265
r id d in g h im s e lf o f onus i n th e a f f a i r and tu r n in g th e laugh upon h i s w ife
and h er l o v e r .
I t i s p e r f e c t l y t o l d , r e a l i s t i c , and shrewd.
I f i t i s an
in d ig en o u s Apache or In d ia n s t o r y , in s te a d o f an a d a p ta tio n o f a S p an ish
f a b lia u o f a n c ie n t lin e a g e and o r a l t r a d i t i o n ,
24
i t proves t h e lik e n e s s o f
f o lk lo r e w herever i t e x i s t s , f o r i t has a l l t h e marks o f th e European f a b l i ­
au x, w ith t h e ir cuck old ed husbands who o c c a s io n a lly tu r n th e j e s t upon th e
w ife and lo v e r by a c le v e r t r i c k .
As s t o r i e s , r e g a r d le s s o f t h e i r o r ig in ,
"The P o lit e n e s s o f G uesta l a P lata" and "Stewed B eans," t o ld a s p l a i n , un­
adorned n a r r a t iv e , are m a ste r p ie c e s o f t a l e - t e l l i n g .
A nother group o f "One Smokes" appear t o be q u ite l i t e r a l r e n d itio n s
o f fragm ents o f In d ian le g e n d .
Sirs. A u stin has m ain ly chosen such f r a g ­
m ents a s i l l u s t r a t e , n o t th e I n d ia n 's p o e t ic myth-making power, b u t h i s
lo v e o f p r o v e r b ia l, w o r ld ly -w is e l o r e .
do n o t p r a is e a good s in g e r to o much.
"The Coyote Song" shows why In d ian s
"The Man 'Who Walked w ith bhe Trues"
and "The M edicine o f Bow-Returning" em phasize man's l i t t l e n e s s in th e scheme
o f th in g s and te a c h h u m ility .
S t i l l more hom ely in t h e i r wisdom are "The
Man Who Made P eop le Laugh" and "The Canoe That th e P a r trid g e Made," i n which
fragm ents o f legen d are made t o te a c h t h e le s s o n t h a t an in c e s s a n t laugher
c e a s e s t o be funny and t h a t he who p rop oses t o be d oin g an unp reced en ted
That i t m ight w e ll be u lt im a t e ly o f Spanish o r ig in and n o t In d ian
i s obviou s when one c o n s id e r s th e trem endous in flu e n c e o f th e S p a n ish -sp ea k ­
in g p e o p le upon In d ia n s in th e S ou th w est. £ f . Franz B oas, "Notes on Mexi­
can F o lk -L o re," Jou rn al o f American F o lk -L o r e , XXV (1 9 1 2 ), p . 247: wStudy
. • • has le d me t o th e c o n c lu s io n t h a t t h e Spanish-A m erican f o l k - l o r e a s
w e ll a s t h a t o f th e American n e g r o e s i s d e r iv e d l a r g e ly from Span ish s o u r c e s ,
and t h a t t h e in flu e n c e o f Spanish f o l k - l o r e upon t h a t o f t h e Indians o f th e
W estern p la te a u s and p la in s has n o t r e c e iv e d s u f f i c i e n t a t t e n t i o n , and must
be ta k e n in t o account in t h e a n a ly s is o f W estern f o l k - l o r e and m yth ology."
T racin g "The P o lit e n e s s o f C uesta la P la ta " and "Stewed Beans" t o a d e f i n i t e
source in S p an ish f o lk lo r e would be a problem f o r a p r o f e s s io n a l f o l k l o r i s t .
Boggs' in d ex g iv e s no a id t o t h e u n i n i t i a t e d .
266
and u n su rp assed th in g may ig n o m in io u sly f a i l .
L ess d id a c tic are "Wolf
People" and " I n s tr u c tio n t o th e Young," w h ich , w ith o u t m o r a liz in g h e a v i ly ,
r e v e a l t h e Indians* s e n s e o f k in s h ip w ith a n im a ls .
"Approaching Day" t e l l s
how a man, burying h i s f r ie n d , a form er r i v a l in lo v e , le a r n s wisdom and
how t o p r o f i t when th e "Seven F ears a r e on him , and e s p e c i a l l y • • . th e
f e a r o f woman's
"The Shade o f t h e Arrows," l e s s m o r a lis t ic
b e a u t y ." ^
because p a rt o f a t r i b a l la y , t e l l s why t h e P a iu te s have a s a y in g th a t
whoever goes on an u n tr ie d v en tu re must s le e p in th e shade o f h i s arrow s.
The s to r y i s a v e r y b r i e f prose t e l l i n g o f th e Owens V a lle y P a iu te la y o f
"Hinuno and Pamaquash" w h ich Mrs. A u stin rendered in s t r i c t e r r i t u a l i s t i c
fa s h io n in The American Rhythm.
"A T e llin g o f t h e Love o f Winnedumh f o r
Pahwanike" g iv e s a humorous s la n t upon t h e m edicine-m an, 7/innedumah.
In a l l
t h e p ie c e s d e a lin g w ith In d ian le g e n d , Mrs. A u stin has o b v io u s ly r e v e r t e d ,
f o r most o f her m a t e r ia ls , t o th e days o f her in tim a te c o n ta c ts w ith In d ia n s
in th e Owens V a lle y c o u n tr y .
tific
fo lk lo r is t.
She was n o t a t t h a t tim e , or e v e r , a s c ie n ­
She m ixes everyd ay humor and in c id e n t , p r o v e r b ia l wisdom ,
and t r i b a l la y in d is c r im in a t e ly .
As p u r e ly l i t e r a r y endeavors her ren d er­
in g s o f fragm ents o f leg e n d s s u f f e r s l i g h t l y from an e x a g g e r a tio n o f t h e i r
m o r a lis t ic m eanings.
M isc e lla n e o u s and u n c l a s s i f i a b l e item s o f One Smoke S t o r ie s a r e o f
a l l gen res and a l l ty p e s o f s u b je c t m a tte r .
"The G overnor's Eye" r e l a t e s
a s u p e r s t it io n c o n c e rn in g th e g la s s eye o f th e Governor o f M onterey about
1797, a s to r y M rs. A u stin had g iv e n a b r i e f h in t o f in th e n o v e l I s id r o
and in Lands o f th e Sun.
25
Two bear s t o r i e s a r e o f no p a r t ic u la r worth or
One Smoke S t o r i e s , p . 2 4 2 .
267
p o in t .
"Pan and t h e Pot-H unter" i s a m y s t ify in g m o r a lis t ic t a l e d e sig n ed
t o show t h a t N em esis ought t o , and w i l l , c a tc h up w ith th e r u t h le s s A nglos
who plundered t h e C a lifo r n ia w ild s a f t e r 1849.
"B u siness a t C u esta la
P la ta " r e l a t e s t h e t r i c k a Mexican gam bler, a gauchapin, put upon Sam G ad gett,
a b u s in e s s man and sheep-ovm erj i n c i d e n t a l l y t h e s to r y throws l i g h t upon
some t r a i t s o f Hew M exican v i l l a g e r s .
In t h i s s t o r y , numerous v i l l a g e r s
swear in c o u r t t h a t lambs are g o a ts and th e n go out and ta k e each a lamb as
a reward f o r t h e i r p e r ju ry — and a l l w ith no sen se o f wrongdoing.
"The Way o f a Woman" i s th e same s t o r y a s th e e a r l i e r "The D iv o r c in g
o f Sina."^®
But t h e r e i s a g r e a t d if f e r e n c e i n th e t e l l i n g and some d i f ­
fe r e n c e in t h e em p h asis.
n o n e - to o - c le a r s t y l e .
"The D iv o rcin g o f Sina" i s t o l d in a m y s t ify in g ,
There i s a s l i g h t l y p a tr o n iz in g n o te in th e a u th o r 's
v o ic e a s she t e l l s o f Sina and B i l l Brophy, p a r t ic u l a r ly a s she t e l l s how
B i l l won Sina b y paying a debt o f se v e n te e n d o lla r s and f i f t y c e n ts fo r S in a 's
fa th e r .
"The ’Way o f a Woman," th e l a t e r v e r s io n o f t h e s t o r y , i s t o l d by
th e In d ia n fa th e r o f th e g i r l , in th e f i r s t p erso n .
Prom a r a th e r unkempt
P a iu te who would s e l l h i s daughter f o r s e v e n te e n d o lla r s and f i f t y c e n t s ,
he has become a lm o st a n o b le sa v a g e .
has ch an ged .
H is m o tive in m arrying o f f h i s daughter
" I t was th e wisdom o f my a n c ie n ts sp ea k in g in me, d e s ir i n g t h a t
she should be esteem ed and t h a t her c h ild r e n sh ou ld sh in e w ith p le n ty ."
27
The g i r l r e tu r n s t o her d iv o rced husband, a s in th e e a r l i e r v e r s io n ; but th e
eavesd rop pin g s c e n e i s om itted and t h e " oth er women" tu r n s out t o b e m erely
26
One Smoke S t o r i e s , pp. 1 -6 . "The D iv o r c in g o f Sina" appeared f i r s t
in S u n s e t, t h e P a c i f i c M onthly, XL ( 1 9 1 8 ), 2 6 -2 9 .
27
One Smoke S t o r i e s 9 p* 2*
268
t h e hu sb an d 's s i s t e r who has come t o t i d y up h i s p la c e f o r him .
It is
a l l t o l d by th e f a t h e r a s an example o f woman's u n e x p la in a b ly ch an geable
n a tu r e ; c o n s e q u e n tly , th e o r ig i n a l t h e s i s has e n t i r e l y d isa p p e a r e d .
From
a s t o r y w ith a t h e s i s and v e r y much in t h e manner o f t h e l o c a l - c o l o r s c h o o l,
th e s to r y in " One Smoke" has become a m ild t a l e w h ich d e f t l y s e t s fo r t h th e
t e l l e r ' s c h a r a c te r .
"The Viay o f a Y/oman" p r o v e s , i f n o th in g e l s e , t h a t
even Mrs. A u stin saw t h a t many o f h er former t h e s i s s t o r i e s were n o t in t h e
"folk" manner.
The g r e a t e s t achievem ent o f One Smoke S t o r ie s g e n e r a lly i s
t h a t h ig h s e r io u s n e s s g iv e s way t o humor and t h e s i s i s l a r g e l y su pp lanted
by r e a lis m .
In summary, Mary A u s t in 's a c h iev e m en t, on t h e t h e o r e t i c a l s i d e , i s
n o t g r e a t.
o th er means:
R e a l is t s have g o t away from th e l o c a l - c o l o r lim it a t io n s by many
by h o n est r e p o r tin g , by a c h ie v in g a r t f u l s im p l ic i t y in d ia ­
lo g u e and n o t r e ly i n g s o l e l y on d i a l e c t , by under sta te m e n t, by ir o n y .
The
" folk " m ethod, t h e r e f o r e , i s n o t t h e o n ly method o f b a n ish in g m o r a liz in g ,
o f a c h ie v in g c o n d e n sa tio n and u n it y , o f making t h e sh o r t s t o r y p s y c h o lo g ic a lly
c o n v in c in g ; and s in c e M rs. A u s t in 's method i s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y a " folk" method
anyway, One Smoke S t o r ie s i s t o be judged f i n a l l y a s any o th e r c o l l e c t i o n
o f sh o r t s t o r i e s would be ju d g ed .
w e ll.
On t h a t b a s is t h e book comes out f a i r l y
But i t s u f f e r s from M rs. A u s t in 's assu m p tion t h a t any In d ia n or f o l k ­
l i k e m a te r ia l i s per se good b ecau se str a n g e t o th e ord in ary r e a d e r .
In
t h a t a ssu m p tion , i r o n i c a l l y , she f a l l s in t o t h e same g e n e r a l f a l l a c y a s t h e
lo c a l - c o l o r s c h o o l.
I f h er method i s fr e q u e n tly d i f f e r e n t , h er u ltim a te
in t e n t io n i s t h e same — t o r e p o r t upon what sh e c o n s id e r s th e e x q u is it e
w i t , charm, and humor o f some u n u s u a lly c o l o r f u l p e o p le .
269
E vid en ce has been o ffe r e d t h a t Mary A u s t in ’ s th e o r y o f th e sh o r t
s to r y was imposed upon m a te r ia ls w r itt e n over a long p e r io d o f tim e .
T his
f a c t makes i t appear t h a t th e th e o r y was r a th e r su dd en ly f a b r ic a t e d .
As so
o f te n happened in Mary A u s t in ’ s c a r e e r , she h era ld ed a new fa sh io n in c r i t i ­
c ism or l i t e r a r y endeavor a s b u t th e w orking ou t o f an i n t u i t i v e in s ig h t o f
h er own.
In t h i s c a s e , th e c r i t i c a l tu r n in g a g a in s t th e m ech an ical s t o r y
o f th e p op u lar m agazine and a g a in s t th e o ld e r l o c a l c o lo r ty p e o f f i c t i o n
gave h er th e o p p o r tu n ity t o a s s e r t t h a t l i t e r a t u r e was f in d in g i t s way
g r o p in g ly towards t h e f o l k m ethod.
Vthat i s m ost r id ic u lo u s o f a l l , she s l y l y
and i n d i r e c t l y sa y s in "The P olk S to r y in America" t h a t t h e new "short s h o r t
sto r y " i s b a s i c a l l y an answer t o th e f e l t need f o r t h e c o n d e n sa tio n o f th e
"folk " s t o r y .
She a p p a r e n tly d id n o t s e e t h e in c o n s is t e n c y o f her r a i l i n g ,
in one b r e a th , a t t h e m ech an ical s to r y o f t h e popu lar m agazin es, and her
commending, in th e n e x t b r e a th , th e " short sh o r t sto r y " — w hich from any
sane p o in t o f v ie w i s t h e v e r y a p o th e o s is o f "the j o u r n a liz a t io n o f th e
sh o r t s to r y ."
As in so much o f her t h in k in g , she c o u ld n o t r e s i s t th e oppor­
t u n i t y t o h e r a ld a p opu lar m a n ife s ta tio n a s a deep urge tow ards adjustm ent —
and t h i s i n an e s s a y i n w h ich she s e t out t o c h a lle n g e t h e popu lar way.
T his
was her method o f p ayin g o f f t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l s .
Had Mary A u stin been l e s s in c lin e d t o c la im e v e r y c u r r en t o f th ou gh t
or fa s h io n a s t h e w orking ou t o f one o f her p r o p h e c ies or i n t u i t i o n s , and
had sh e k ept more c l o s e l y t o th e c r e a t iv e f u n c tio n , she m ight have l e f t much
more enduring and l e s s o b s e s s io n -r id d e n work.
I t i s a g r e a t p i t y t h a t , in
a l l th e y e a r s she was t r y i n g t o be p r o p h e t e s s - a t- la r g e t o A m erica, she was
n o t out i n th e d e s e r t and m ountain cou n try p ic k in g up more o f such s t o r i e s
as "Stewed B eans," "The P o lit e n e s s o f C uesta la P la ta ," or "Papago W edding,"
and w ith o u t t h e o r iz in g ab ou t them .
Mary A u stin had power a s a w r i t e r .
The tr a g e d y o f h er c a r e e r i s t h a t
270
sh e put prfitphecy above a r t , and f o r some fo r ty -tw o y ea rs in d u lg ed h e r s e l f
in p r o tr a c te d s e l f - j u s t i f i c a t i o n .
CHAPTER V I I I
MYSTICISM
To Mary A u s tin 's m ind, her e x p r e s s io n o f f a i t h in m y stic ism was
an o r ig in a l and im portant c o n t r ib u t io n .
In any com prehensive v ie w o f her
w r it in g s , how ever, th e elem en t o f m y sticism sh rin k s t o a p la c e o f r e l a t i v e
unim portance.
The re a so n s a r e tw o.
F i r s t , th e elem en ts w hich she com­
pounded t o make h er m y s t ic a l f a i t h are borrowed; and alth ou gh she perhaps
d e se r v e s some c r e d it f o r ’ h er o r i g i n a l i t y in making a s y n t h e s i s , i n t h i s
c a s e th e w hole i s v e r y l i t t l e
g r e a te r than any one o f i t s p a r t s .
Mary
A u s t in 's m y sticism i s no more c r e d ib le and no more o r ig i n a l th a n th e sepa­
r a t e w isp s o f C h r is tia n
i n t o i t s m aking.
S c ie n c e , New Thought, and p sy c h o a n a ly sis t h a t went
Second, m y sticism i s h a r d ly a m a tter t o be argued or e v a lu ­
a te d ; f o r , a s W illiam James s u g g e s te d , w h ile th e m y s t ic 's e x p e r ie n c e s a r e ,
t o th e m y stic h im s e lf , o f p o s i t i v i s t i c and s e n s a t io n a l c h a r a c te r , t h e y can­
n o t p o s s ib ly c a r r y c o n v ic t io n t o anyone e l s e .
The d is c u s s io n o f Mary Aus­
t i n ' s m y stic ism , th e n , may w e ll be c o n fin e d t o an account o f i t s d e v e lo p ­
ment i n h er w r itin g s and t o b r i e f sta te m e n ts r e g a rd in g th e apparent so u r c es
o f her i d e a s .
M y s tic a l id e a s o f r a c e , o f n a tu r a l a d a p ta tio n , o f t h e r ig h t ­
n e s s o f th e p r im it iv e 's a d a p ta tio n t o h i s en viron m ent, o f th e r o le o f th e
p r o p h e t, o f t h e power o f i n t u i t i o n in tr u d e in t o n e a r ly a l l o f Mrs. A u s t in 's
w orks.
T his c h a p te r, how ever, w i l l be c o n fin e d t o th o s e works w h erein she
more or l e s s c o m p le te ly s e t s f o r t h her fundam ental p h ilo so p h y reg a rd in g th e
n atu re o f mind and t h e u n iv e r s e — her r e l i g i o n , in s h o r t .
272
In Earth H orizon one read s o f h er in tr o d u c tio n t o God a t th e age o f
f i v e or s i x , and th e acco u n t i s e la b o r a te d in E xp erien ces F acin g D eath* "And
th e n God happened t o Mary under th e w alnut tree."-*. . . God i s t h e e x p e r ie n c e a b le q u a l i t y in th e u n iv e r s e . He i s th e
U n iv e r sa l C on sciou sn ess o u t o f which my own c o n s c io u s n e s s stem s - n ever a p e r so n , o n ly f a i n t l y d e s c r ie d in th e inknow ing c o re o f p er­
c e p tio n a s B ein g .
I must have been betw een f i v e and s ix when t h i s e x p e r ie n c e hap­
pened t o me. I t was a summer m orning, and th e c h ild I was had walked
down through t h e orchard a lo n e and come out on th e brow o f a s lo p in g
h i l l where th e r e were grass and a wind b lo w in g and one t a l l t r e e rea ch ­
in g in t o i n f i n i t e im m e n sitie s o f b lu e n e s s . Q u ite su d d en ly , a f t e r a
moment o f q u ie tn e s s t h e r e , e a r th and sky and t r e e and w ind-blown g r a ss
and th e c h ild in t h e m id st o f them came a l i v e t o g e th e r w ith a p u ls in g
l i g h t o f c o n s c io u s n e s s . There was a w ild fo x g lo v e a t th e c h i l d ’ s f e e t
and a bee d o zin g about i t , and t o t h i s day I can r e c a l l th e s w i f t in ­
c l u s i v e aw areness o f each f o r t h e w hole — I in them and th e y in me
and a l l o f us e n c lo s e d in a warm lu c e n t bubble o f l i v i n g n e s s . I r e ­
member th e c h ild lo o k in g everyw here fo r th e source o f t h i s happy won­
d e r , and a t l a s t she q u e stio n e d — "God?" — because i t was t h e o n ly
awesome word sh e knew. Deep i n s i d e , l i k e th e murmurous sw in g in g o f a
b e l l , she heard th e answ er, "God, God . . . "
How lo n g t h i s in e f f a b le moment la s t e d I n e v e r knew. I t broke
l i k e a bubble a t t h e sudden s in g in g o f a b ir d , and th e wind b le w and
t h e w orld was th e same a s e v e r — o n ly n ev er q u ite th e same. The
e x p e r ie n c e so i n i t i a t e d has been th e one a b id in g r e a l i t y o f my l i f e ,
u n a lte r a b le e x c e p t in th e abounding f u l l n e s s and freq u en cy o f i t s
o c c u rren ce.^
In r e v o lt a g a in s t th e m oral judgm ents imposed upon v i l l a g e l i f e by
M ethodism, she sou gh t a more im p erson al God, a la r g e r Power, a Cosmic Con­
s c io u s n e s s .
She cou ld p r a c t ic e t h e "Presence o f God" throughout h er l i f e .
From r e a d in g th e works o f Hugh M ille r she a l s o gained a la r g e r v ie w o f an
u n fo ld in g e a r th , th e " p u rp osefu l e a r th ."
The D ivin e B ein g became fo r h er
what i t was t o many n in e te e n th -c e n tu r y a d h eren ts o f a " n atu ral th e o lo g y " —
Mary A u s tin , E arth H orizon (B oston and Hew York, 1 9 3 2 ), p . 5 1 .
2 Mary A u s tin , E x p erien ces F acing D eath ( I n d ia n a p o lis , 1 9 3 1 ), p p . 2 4 -2 5 .
273
a Power, a B ein g, an E sse n c e ,
She want t o C a lifo r n ia w ith h er aw areness o f
t h i s B ein g and h er s e n s i b i l i t i e s v e r y a l e r t ,
As she observed I n d ia n s , saw
them p u t t in g th e m se lv e s in prayer and ceremony in t o c o n ta c t w ith t h e " A lln e s s ," th e r it u a l - s t a r v e d M id d lew estem g i r l must have d ecid ed a t once th a t
th e I n d ia n s ’ God was as tr u e a God a s a n y .
In her f i r s t d e f in i t e e x p r e ssio n
o f r e li g io u s s e n tim e n ts , C h r is t in I t a l y ( 1 9 1 2 ), i t i s obvious t h a t b e fo r e
she e v e r went t o I t a l y t o s tu d y prayer t e c h n iq u e s , she had made t h e I n d ia n s ’
n o tio n o f " th e -F r ie n d -o f-th e -S o u l-o f-M a n " h er own n o t io n .
Her God was w e ll
enough g e n e r a liz e d t o be th e God o f a l l p e o p le s ; and He cou ld be ap p ealed t o .
The Powers cou ld be put t o work "Here and How."
A p r e fa to r y poem in C h r is t in I t a l y g iv e s a h in t o f th e co n fu sed emo­
t i o n s and thw arted d e s ir e s Mrs. A u stin was s u f f e r in g when she went t o I t a l y s
I am to o a r id f o r t e a r s , and f o r la u g h ter
Too sore w ith u n slak ed d e s i r e s .
•
•
•
The h o llo w waves a r e s la c k
And no wind from any q u a r te r
L i f t s s tr o n g ly enough t o outwear me.
My body i s b i t t e r w ith b a f f l e d l u s t s
Of work and lo v e and endurance;
As a m averick , l e a d e r l e s s , l o s t from th e h erd ,
Loweth my s o u l w ith t h e need o f m an-encoun ters.
For I am crammed and r e p le t e
With th e power o f d e s o la t e p la c e s ;
•
•
•
P a t ie n c e , f o r g iv e n e s s and m ight
Ache in me, f in d in g no e g r e s s ,
And V ir tu e s s t a l e th a t are t o o b ig f o r th e o u t - g a t e .
I would run la r g e w it h th e m an-herd, th e h i l l - s u b d u e r s ;
I would im press m y self on t h e mould o f la rg e adventure
•
•
•
For I am an gu ish ed w ith s tr e n g t h ,
Over fe d w ith th e common e x p e r ie n c e ;
My f e e t run wide o f th e r u tte d t r a i l s
Toward t h e undared d e s t i n i e s .®
® Mary A u s tin , C h r is t in I t a l y : B eing th e A dventures o f a M averick
among M a ste r p iec e s (Hew York, 1 9 1 2 ), pp. v i i - v i i i .
—
274
She was r e a ch in g out m y s t ic a lly f o r th e m eaning o f l i f e , but what sh e had
lea rn ed in th e d e s e r t d id n o t seem q u ite c l e a r or have q u it e th e q u a l i t y
o f a guaranteed v i s i o n .
Perhaps she th o u g h t she c o u ld f in d in th e p a s t ,
in some p la c e where th e c r e a t iv e s p i r i t o f man had fla m ed , a j u s t i f i c a t i o n
o f her b e l i e f t h a t S p i r i t was e v e r h o v e r in g over human l i f e , read y a t th e
c a l l o f man t o l i f t l i f e a l i t t l e above i t s e l f .
She found c o r r o b o r a tio n o f h e r id e a s about S p i r i t , th e Pow ers, th e
H elp .
In a c o llo q u y in a church she s e e s a l l th e gods and s a i n t s , a l l th e
h o s t who h e lp ed th e o ld Romans, gave them t h e i r pow er, d e se r te d th e p eop le
when t h e y were no lo n g e r b e lie v e d i n , and th e n came back a s s a in t s i n th e
C h r is tia n a g e s .
"’ Then men began t o c a l l on u s by th e names o f Long S u f­
f e r in g and C h a s tity and S a c r i f i c e ; and t h e H elp flo w ed back and made new
c h a n n e ls .
'" 4
To t h e a u th o r ’ s com p lain t th a t one does n o t b e lie v e so e a s i l y
in t h e s e d a y s, th e Powers answ er:
w e l l ; ’ "5
"'Ah . . .
n e it h e r d oes one p a in t so
The c o llo q u y c lo s e s w ith th e Pow ers' or S p i r i t s ’ t e l l i n g h er th a t
t h e y are r e a l l y nowhere r e s o r te d t o now, but t h a t
lan d s we s h a l l hear a c a l l . . • •
con vin ced o f :
'" 6
Somewhere in th e new
And t h a t was what Mary A u stin was
th a t somewhere in th e new la n d s , p o s s ib ly A m erica, th e
C r e a tiv e S p i r i t and t h e R e lig io u s S p i r i t would ta k e h o ld a g a in ; t h a t t h a t
S p i r i t was u n iv e r s a l; t h a t th e I n d ia n ’s god and t h e C h r is tia n God and th e
god th a t Mary A u stin had seen under th e w alnut t r e e when she was f i v e , were
a l l th e same s p i r i t — n o t a s t a r t l i n g l y o r ig i n a l c o n c e p tio n , and y e t one
4
I b id . , p . 125.
5 Ib id t
6
I b i d . , p . 126.
275
f r e s h l y a r r iv e d a t by th e woman from t h e d e s e r t c o u n tr y .
The a o t u a l i t y o f superhuman powers was ob vious in I t a l y .
t h e s e powers had op era ted in th e C in q u ecen to.
t o o ffe n d Mary A u s tin .
C h r is t s .
C e r ta in ly
And y e t th e r e was much t h e r e
She lik e d n e it h e r th e Madonnas nor t h e B le e d in g
" • , • I co u ld n o t t a k e i t m o th erly o f her f a Madonna) . . .
t h a t she sh ou ld s i t so s m ilin g and a p a rt yvhen o u ts id e i n I t a l y were pregnant
women working in t h e f i e l d s and h a r d ly a c h i l d th a t ran in th e s t r e e t but had
under i t s e y e s th e dark c i r c l e s o f m a ln u t r it io n .”^
she lam ented:
"I
c o u ld n o t
Of th e image o f C h r is t,
ta k e him a s I saw him , wrapt [ s i c ] , m y s tic ,
trium phant on th e s id e t o Godward, but mazed and fum b ling a t th e e x ig e n c ie s
o f our common l i f e . . . .
And t h i s i s why I am n o t a C h r i s t i a n .. .
The
." 8
p r a g m a tis t's anger fla m es a t t h e thought o f lo n g working h o u r s, c h ild la b o r ,
and i n j u s t i c e .
11
. • • you cou ld e s t a b l i s h t h e Kingdom o f Heaven by an a c t
o f C ongress i f you th ou gh t i t co u ld be done t h a t way, f o r i t s
s a li e n t ch ar­
a c t e r i s t i c i s th e r e o r g a n iz a tio n o f s o c i e t y on t h e b a s is o f your n eigh b or
b e in g y o u .”® V iew ing th e catacom bs, t h i s p r a g m a tist saw th a t sometime
(about th e s i x t h c e n tu r y ) th e image o f th e B le e d in g C h r is t had k e p t men
from s e e in g th e s i g n if ic a n c e o f C h r is t 's l i f e a s w e l l a s o f h i s d e a th .
"There­
a f t e r one was t o se e a l l C hristendom l i k e sh eep s tr a y e d in t h e m ountains t h a t
once t h e y have found a
p r e c ip i c e , huddle under i t , g iv e n over t o w o lv es and
h u n ger, m il li n g ab ou t in th e shadow o f a h ig h m isr a te d s a c r i f i c e
Char­
a c t e r i s t i c a l l y , L,5rs. A u s t in 's mind in t h i s m a tter was made up b e fo re she
^ ^ b i d ., pp. 1 4 -1 5 .
8
Ib id . , p . 36.
9
I b id ., p . 56.
10
I b id ., p . 59.
276
■wrote h er c h a p te r s .
The p l a in e s t p a rt o f her cred o i s put a s a forew ord ,
n o t a c o n c lu s io n :
I b e lie v e t h a t t h e i l l s o f t h i s w orld a r e rem ediable w h ile we
are in t h e w orld b y no oth er means than th e s p i r i t o f t r u t h and
b r o t h e r lin e s s w orking t h e i r la w fu l o c c a sio n s among men. I b e l ie v e
in Here and Now.
I b e lie v e in Man and th e F rien d o f t h e S o u l o f Man and I am un­
con vin ced o f D e a th .H
And y e t she f e l t everyw h ere, e s p e c i a l l y in th e a r t o f t h e C in q u ecen to,
"the i n e f f a b l e , p e r v a siv e e v id e n c e s o f Presen oe and Power . . .
c u r r e n ts o f
v i t a l i t y in w hich th e maimed l i f e o f I t a l y moved and on w hich i t f e d . " ^
For she cou ld f e e l underneath i t , th e pagan p r in c ip le o f th e jo y o u s n e ss o f
l i f e renew ing i t s e l f .
I t was t h e u n iv e r s a l god, n o t C h r is t , who sto o d be­
hind th e c a th e d r a ls and many o f th e p a in t in g s .
F i n a l ly , i t came t o h er t h a t
even th e c r u c i f i x , em phasizing c o n s o la t io n f o r d e f e a t and r e n u n c ia tio n o f
th e w o r ld , "most m is e r a b le , n aked, wounded" — even t h a t f i g u r e , "with th e
arms s tr e tc h e d up and o u t, t h e head l i f t e d , " was e x a c t l y l i k e t h e p o stu r e
o f v i c t o r y , th e p o stu r e o f h er In d ian m ed icin e men when t h e y f e l t th e S p i r it
d escen d upon them and g iv e them power.
And so th e way was prepared fo r her
a c c e p tin g t h e " s a in ts and s a in t s and s a i n t s a;;ain ."
"A S a in t i s no more
th a n th e d r a m a tiz a tio n o f t h e s o u l 's adventure w ith th e Unseen."^®
"I have
known v e r y sober p erso n s t o ach e in t o l e r a b ly w ith t h i s clam or o f th e Unseen
a t th e g a te s o f t h e i r u n tu to red s e n s e . T h e Unseen w a s, a f t e r a l l , r e a l
to her.
Any way o f g e t t in g i n t o to u ch w ith i t was good.
II
12
Ib id . , p . 2 .
I b id . , p . 18.
13 Ibid, » PP* 121-122.
14
I b i d . , p . 119.
I t was h er purpose
277
t o le a rn th e tech n iq u e — p ra y e r, c o n c e n tra tio n , dance — and having reached
th e Powers, t o put them t o work "Here and How," in s o c ie ty , fo r th e b u ild in g
o f th e Kingdom on E a rth , f o r b rin g in g back c re a tiv e n e s s , fo r b rin g in g out
th e la te n t a b i l i t i e s of men.
This i s th e re s o lu tio n of th e c o n f lic t between
th e p rag m atist who hated th e overemphasis on o th e r-w o rld lin e ss and the m ystic
who wished t o achieve "complete s p i r i t u a l i t y . "
The Bleeding C h ris t was
r id ic u lo u s ; and y e t in th e C inquecento, by way of t h i s C h r is t, power and s p i r i t
came to e a r th .
And i f th e y had come t o e a rth b e fo re , th e y m ight ag ain —
in Mexico, in C a lifo rn ia , in th e Southw est.
The paradoxes, however, a re n o t a l l reso lv ed y e t.
The l a s t ch ap ter
o f C h ris t in I t a l y i s "The Green Bough," a b e a u tif u l r e - t e l l i n g o f th e s to r y
o f th e R e su rre c tio n .
There i s h a rd ly any v a r ia tio n from th e l i t e r a l s to ry
given in th e G ospels, and y e t Mrs. A u stin weaves in to i t an in te r p r e ta tio n
of C h r is t.
C h ris t becomes a d e s e rt m y stic , a seek er a f t e r c o n ta c ts w ith
th e Powers, te a c h in g men t h a t tem poral a f f a i r s a re as n o th in g to th e jo y o f
en rap tu red se e in g .
This view i s d e f i n i t e l y in c o n f lic t w ith th e hum anitarian
C h r is t, remaker of th e w o rld , s e t f o r th in th e rem ainder of th e book as a
kin d of a n tid o te t o th e B leeding C h r is t.
p la in a b le .
The in c o n g ru ity , however, i s ex­
The p u re ly h u m an itarian , n o n th e o lo g ic a l C h ris t i s r e a l l y no more
Mary A u stin ’ s C h ris t than i s th e th e o lo g ic a l S a v io r.
Mary A u s tin 's C h ris t
i s Mary A u stin , a d e s e rt m y stic , in te r e s te d in th e tem poral but lo o k ing be­
yond.
Two passages in "The Green Bough" give th e key t o The Man Jesus and
a l l h er l a t e r r e lig io u s and m y stic a l works.
C h ris t i s w ondering, examining
h is f e e lin g s , now th a t he has a r is e n :
This th e n was th e Kingdom; n o t th e overthrow of one form by
a n o th e r, but th e flu x o f a l l form s, em pires, pomps, s o c ie tie s ,
in th e e x te rn a l f a c ts o f e x isten ce . . . th e redem ption o f l i f e
from th e bondage o f T hings. He was dead and was a liv e a g a in .
278
How indeed was a h e s c ia h s h ip t o prove i t s d iv in e o r ig in by
m erely s e t t i n g up in th e room o f th ro n es and p r i n c i p a l i t i e s ?
Say r a th er th e l a s t word o.s t o th e f u t i l i t y o f th e Kingdoms o f
th e World was pronounced when t h e y wrecked th em selv es a g a in s t
i t s immortal q u a l i t y .
The o th e r passage i s more e x p l i c i t :
On a m ountain, in a p la c e a p p o in ted fo r them £ h is d i s c i p l e s ] , he
flam ed f o r t h w ith t h a t m essage, th e f a i n t , m isread r e c o l l e c t i o n o f which
as i t la y in th e minds o f h is d i s c i p l e s , has become th e u ltim a te hope o f
a l l our s c ie n c e and a l l untoward q u e s tio n in g s — th e a ssu r a n c e o f th e
supremacy o f S p i r i t , th e e x te n s io n through un ion w ith t h e D iv in e , o f
man’ s w i l l over d is e a s e and t r o u b lin g . ‘■That th e y g o t from i t c h i e f l y
was th e c e r t a in t y o f th e con tin u an ce o f h is p e r so n a l power. "For, l o ,
I am w ith you alw ay," he s a id , "even t o th e end o f th e w o r ld ." I t was
th e green bough p reserved t o them in th e denuding b l a s t s o f human e x ­
p e r ie n c e .
This C h r is t o f I'-ary A u s t in 's i s , t h e n , a man who confirm ed her in th e id ea
th a t th e In d ian lo o k in g up t o th e Pow ers, and th e m y stic lo o k in g w it h in him­
s e l f in t o h i s d e e p e st g e n iu s , were both d i v in e .
iYith t h i s s y n t h e s i s , Kary
A u stin was a b le , w ith o u t b e in g r e a l l y in c o n s is t e n t , t o i n s i s t one day upon
C h r is t ia n it y as a movement o f s o c i a l reform , and th e n e x t day t o i n s i s t t h a t
i t was p r o p e r ly unconcerned w ith "Kingdoms o f th e w orld."
F or, t o h e r , i t
m s b o th , or e it h e r one — as she w ished i t t o b e . ^
C h r is t in I t a l y proves t h a t Ilary A u s tin , a lth ou gh she sp en t some
tim e in a convent stu d y in g prayer tech n iq u es w ith the- Blue Huns, did n o t
and co u ld n o t l i t e r a l l y a c c e p t t h e Homan C a th o lic f a i t h .
She m s a lr e a d y
pled ged t o th e r e l i g i o n o f th e Amerindsj she saw C h r ist a s o n ly th e most
p o te n t o f a l l m ed icin e men o f a l l tim e .
15
C a th o lic p ra y er, th e image o f the
P* 1^ 7-148.
I b id .., p . 161.
*1rt
T his deep c o n f l i c t i s r e v e a le d in a r t i c l e s w r it t e n some y e a r s
la te r :
" R elig io n in th e U n ited S t a t e s ," C en tu ry, CIV ( 1 9 2 2 ), 5 2 7-538;
"Do he Heed a Hew R e lig io n ? " C en tu ry, CYI ( 1 2 2 3 ), 756-764.
279
c f u c if ie d C h r is t, th e m edicine man's p ra y e rfu l g estu re -with arms o u t­
s tre tc h e d were a l l b u t v a ry in g modes of th e attem pt of man t o get Power
and Help from above.
That h e r own re a d in g of th e Amerind re lig io n was
s u f f ic ie n t to h er i s proved by an a r t i c l e lft° which she p u b lish ed s h o rtly
a f t e r h er re tu rn from Europe.
Through th e a r t i c l e runs h er fran k and
unabashed acceptance o f th e id ea t h a t In d ian song, dance, and p ra y e r move
th e Powers, and th a t h e a lin g o f body and o f mind o r s p i r i t does a c tu a lly
ta k e p la c e .
The In d ia n 's song comes from w ith in him, th e song becomes a
dance, and words a re added, she r e p o r ts .
The dance is th e " s h o rte s t road
to th e Friend o f th e Soul of Man."-*-®
I t fth e F riend o f th e Soul of Man] has nothing t o do w ith t h e i r
o rd in a ry s p i r i t s or s u p e rn a tu ra ls , has no appearance and no h is ­
to r y . I t i s th e supreme in te llig e n c e , p erh ap s, t h a t plane of con­
sciousness touched in g re a t c r is e s along which runs from mind t o
mind communicating f i r e . Through i t cu res are e ffe c te d and mes­
sages tra n s m itte d from th e dead.
"By d an cin g ," sa id th e Medicine-man, "the In sid e Man e re c ts
i t s e l f , i t i s l i f t e d u p, i t lays hold on th e F rie n d ; then sin g in g
comes, and many th in g s a re p o s sib le t h a t were n o t. "20
Mrs. A ustin b e lie v e d she had found in th e In d ia n 's m y stic al s t a t e a b a sis
f o r th e v a lu a tio n o f l i t e r a t u r e and a r t ; a ls o , fo r h er p e rs o n a lly , here
was proof of im m o rtality .
Good Medicine I There I had th e whole b u sin ess o f song-makers;
. . . not t o preach, n o t t o p lease m erely, but t o make a sh o rt road
t o th e mood of power, t o to u ch th e F r ie n d .2^
18
Mary A u stin , "The Song-Makers," Horth American Review, CXCIV
(A ugust, 1911), pp. 239-244.
I b id . , p . 244.
20 I b id .
21 I b i d ., p . 246.
280
Between C h ris t in I t a l y and The Man Jesus (A Small Town Man) ^ th e re
i s l i t t l e d iffe re n c e in g e n eral p o in t o f view .
Indeed, th e l a t t e r book,
begun in Rome in th e summer o f 1907, grew out of th e same experiences as
th e f o r m e r . T h e approach, however, is e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t.
’(Vhereas C h ris t
in I t a l y records im p r e s s io n is tic a lly th e a u th o r’s sea rc h fo r th e fundam ental
s p i r i t u a l i t y of six te e n th -c e n tu ry C h r is tia n it y in I t a l y , A Small Town Man
r e l a t e s th e l i f e o f Jesus a g a in s t th e s o c ia l background of His tim e .
In
th e l a t t e r book, Mrs. A ustin seeks t o e s ta b lis h th e h i s t o r i c a l Jesu s and
so to fin d th e irre d u c ib le s p i r i t u a l q u a lity o f th e man Jesus beneath th e
th e o lo g ic a l e n c ru s ta tio n .
A Small Tovm. Man r e l i e s to some e x te n t upon th e
c a n o n ic a l G ospels, some apocryphal m a te r ia ls , and th e research es o f w rite rs
upon S c r ip tu r a l h is to r y . 24 Mrs. A u s tin 's search began when she r e a liz e d how
com pletely C h ris t was lo s t in modern l i f e .
Her q u a lif ic a tio n s f o r re s e a rc h
pp
Mary A u stin , The Man Jesu s (New York, 1915). The book was r e ­
p rin te d w ith v e ry s lig h t changes as A Small Town Man (New York, 1925).
23 jiary A u stin , A Small Town Man (New York, 1925), p . v i .
24 As in Love and th e Soul Maker, Mrs. A u stin d is d a in s leav in g h er
sources t r a i l i n g a f t e r h e r . ^ T * i t has become the supreme c o u rte sy of
male s c h o la rsh ip to t r a i l a l l th e l i t t e r o f th e workshop a f t e r him in th e
shape o f fo o tn o te s and cross re fe re n c e s and ap p en d ices. But a woman i s
under no sufch o b lig a tio n . . . . The only su re way . . . i s fo r h er £woman}
to be f a i t h f u l t o h e r own p a tte r n , o f which v i t a l o rg a n iz a tio n r a th e r th a n
e x p lic a tio n is th e c r i t e r i o n . ” — A Small Town Man, p . x .
R ather e x ten siv e q u o tatio n s from Hebrew r i t u a l i s t i c l i t e r a t u r e and
from apocryphal or e x tra -c a n o n ic a l w r itin g s , a r a th e r d e ta ile d e x p lic a tio n
of th e s e c u la r h is to r y of J e s u s ' tim e , a vague re fe re n c e to h er work in th e
V a tica n L ib rary and other l i b r a r i e s , "wherever th e re were o r ig i n a l te x ts and
confirm ing m a te r ia l," and ra th e r voluminous n o te s in Mrs. A u s tin 's hand­
w r itin g found in h er lib r a r y in Santa Fe, a l l in d ic a te th a t she d id a v a s t
amount o f re a d in g in p re p a ra tio n of th e book. C om paratively l i t t l e o f th e
m a te ria l was a c tu a lly used, however. Indeed, th e re was no need f o r i t .
Her book i s but e x p lic a tio n of her t h e s i s , and th e th e s i s i s so thoroughly
h e r own i t needs l i t t l e s c h o la rly v e r i f i c a t i o n .
281
in to "the p la in man who was th e v e h ic le o f h is re v e la tio n ,"^ ® she th o u g h t,
were h er l i f e in sm all towns, h e r knowledge o f a d e s e rt country lik e th e
Holy Land, h e r knowledge of "dark peoples whose wisdom was a l l of th e in n e r
tinder sta n d in g , among whom prophets and n a tu r a l le ad e rs were of normal oc­
cu rren ce,
and h er a b i l i t i e s as a f o l k l o r i s t .
She f e l t th a t she could
go to th e l i t e r a t u r e on Jesus and in te r p r e t i t as she could any o th e r c o l­
le c tio n of hero t a l e s .
She f e l t f u r th e r t h a t th e re was among a l l peoples
in a l l tim es a "u n iv e rsa l s tr a in o f a lik e n e s s , . . .
th e a lik e n e s s o f th e
m y s tic a l, inknowing f a c u lty which reached i t s h ig h e st e x p re ssio n in Jesu s;"2 7
t h a t sh e, w ith her sympathy towards a l l m y stic al m a n ife s ta tio n s , was q u a li­
fie d t o fin d out and c le a r ly s e t f o r th th e d e s e rt m y stic , J e s u s, a sm all
town man, re p re s e n ta tiv e o f th e power o f "inknowing, s p i r i t u a l p e rc ep tio n "
t h a t e x is ts a tro p h ie d in a l l men.
She a p p a re n tly f e l t th a t th e way t o r e ­
le a se C h ris t from th e u n in s p irin g commonness of th e hum anitarian view which
made Him only a m o rtal se rv in g o th e r m o rtals a l t r u i s t i c a l l y , was n o t t o r e ­
e s ta b lis h th e s u p e rn a tu ra l or th e o lo g ic a l view , bu t t o show t h a t C h ris t had,
and a l l men have, in s tin c tiv e and i n t u i t i v e a b i l i t i e s to la y hold of th e
Powers — t o show C h ris t as th e a rc h e ty p e , so to speak, of m o rtals w ith r e ­
leased s p i r i t u a l power.
I t was His preoccupation w ith s p i r i t u a l u n d erstan d in g or m y stical
p e rc e p tio n , th e n , th a t kept Jesus from having a s o c ia l program.
And y e t
Mary A ustin was v ery much in te r e s te d in s o c ia l programs; h e r pragm atic n a tu re ,
25 A Small Town ..Ian, p. v i i . Mrs. A u stin c o n s is te n tly re fra in e d from
c a p it a l|z in g a l l pronominal re fe re n c e s t o J e s u s.
26
?7
I b i d ., p. v x .
I b id ., p. v i i .
282
a s has been shown, made h er v ery im p a tie n t o f th e "Bleeding C h ris t" which
I t a l i a n s worshipped w hile th e y l e t t h e i r c h ild re n go hungry.
This d i f f i ­
c u lty she solved in an a p p a re n tly offhand manner; alth o u g h Jesu s had had
no re v e la tio n concerning th e d ir e c tio n o f human s o c ie ty , He ta u g h t th e
m y stic a l way; l a t e r m ystics migiht look fo r a re v e la tio n on th e means o f r e ­
g e n eratin g s o c ie ty .
I f Jesus had no s o c ia l p h ilo so p h y , he a t le a s t l e f t
th e way open f o r l a t e r p r a c titio n e r s o f h is i n t u i t i v e methods t o prophesy
and d iv in e .
The argument i s exceed in g ly c le v e r.
By emphasizing C h r is t’ s
m erely s p i r i t u a l e f f o r t s , she had a club to h o ld over every advocate o f a
p a r tic u la r method or system o f s o c ia l re g e n e ra tio n .
28
But by holding t h a t
C h ris t had l e f t th e way open fo r h is tru e fo llo w e rs to d iv in e a way o f
s o c ia l re g e n e ra tio n , she prepared fo r h er own acceptance as a s o c ia l p ro p h e t.
Buried deep and w e ll concealed in Mary A u s tin ’s thought i s o fte n a
tremendous e f f o r t towards r a tio n a liz a ti o n o f h e r s e l f .
The C h ris t of A Small
Town Man i s , on complete a n a ly s is , IJary A u stin ; i t i s obviously tru e t h a t
men do c re a te God in t h e i r own image.
J e s u s ' la ck of a s o c ia l philosophy
i s a r a tio n a liz a ti o n of Mary A u s tin 's d isc o n te n t w ith p a r tic u la r schemes
of re g e n e ra tio n in her tim e .
The Jews o f C h r i s t 's tim e looking fo r th e
Kingdom on E a rth , become th e r a d ic a ls o f Mary A u s tin 's time looking fo r
s o c ia l redem ption.
Even th e aloneness o f C h ris t and h is being m isunder­
stood a re put in term s t h a t th e wary cannot b u t a s s o c ia te w ith th e e x te rn a l events o f Mary A u s tin 's lo n e ly and th w arted l i f e .
29
Jesu s i s th e d e s e rt
28
K arl Marx, fo r in s ta n c e , i s p e tu la n tly dism issed as a Jew h o ld in g
t o th e old M essian ic, hand-made-Heaven p a tte r n o f p re -C h ris t Jew ish th in k ­
in g . See A Small Town Man, p . 221.
"Sometimes in sheer te r r o r o f bein g alone w ith i t s m essage, i t
[genius] f a i l s a lto g e th e r , or weakly tu rn s back t o seek in human r e la tio n s a
su rcease o f s tra n g e n e s s." — A Small Town Man, p . 102. "The fe e lin g o f being
p repared f o r and expected s a t i s f i e d , f o r th e man o f H azareth, t h a t sense o f
b elo n g in g , th e hunger f o r which f r e t s g re a t so u ls t o t h e i r undoing." — I b i d . ,
p p. 102-103.
283
mystic*
Ee i s th e In d ia n medicine man, in communication w ith th e Cosmic
C onsciousness.
I t i s s ig n if ic a n t th a t in 1914, one y ear before The Man Jesus was
p u b lish e d , Mrs. A u stin disavowed h er f a i t h in th e problem novels of Wells
and Galsworthy, and p a id a t r i b u t e to Joseph Conrad, in whose novels she
found "th e only r e a l l y n o tab le atte m p t of our tim e t o solve th e g re a t problem o f th e human h e a r t." 30
E is su p erio r a r t i s t r y , she f e l t , enabled him
"to d is c a rd a l l modern e x ten u a tio n and d e a l w ith c h a ra c te r as sim ply as th e
Greeks d id , as a s tru g g le between man and th e g o d s."3 d Conrad had found th e
s o lu tio n th a t a l l th e s o c io lo g ic a l n o v e lis ts had m issed, a s o lu tio n "in th e
s e c re t re c e sse s o f a man's s o u l, in c h a ra c te r r a th e r th an in s y s te m s ." ^
Her view , so in c o n s is te n t w ith A Woman of Genius (1912) and h er fulsome
p ra is e o f Wells in 1911, i s , however, c o n s is te n t w ith A Small Town Man; fo r
i f th e tr u e C h rist was n o t in te r e s te d or s k i l l e d in s o c ia l re g e n e ra tio n ,
then th e tru e n o v e lis t might have oth er i n t e r e s t s th a n th e s o c ia l problems
of th e contemporary scene.
Furtherm ore, she owed Conrad a l i t t l e debt o f
g ratitu d e.® ^
30
Mary A u stin , "A Sermon in One Man," H a rp er's Weekly, LVIII
(May 16, 1914), p . 20.
31 I b i d *
32 I b id *
l? < 7
Among Mary A u s tin 's l e t t e r s , in h e r lib r a r y in Santa Fe, i s one
from Joseph Conrad, dated 1909, in which Conrad w r ite s : "I stand on th e
shore and make my c ry in to th e d ark , and only now and th e n a c ry comes
back t o me." He goes on t o im ply t h a t Mary A ustin is one o f few who under­
stand him and t o thank h er f o r h e r i n t e r e s t in him. M rs. A ustin was j u s t l y
proud o f t h i s re c o g n itio n by Conrad. Her p u b lis h e rs l a t e r used C onrad's
words in t h e i r a d v e r tis in g of h e r books. C f», "A Sermon in One Man," lo o ,
c i t . , and E arth H orizon, p . 313.
284
L ikew ise,
Bled in Heaven,"
a v e ry c re d ita b le poem in f r e e T e rse , "The Wound That
s e ts f o r th a g ain th e view t h a t C h r is t’ s major concern
•was n o t w ith s o c ia l problems or hum anitarian endeavor and t h a t His wounds
bleed because h is t r u l y " s p i r itu a l" message has n o t y e t been un d ersto o d .
A pparently, in 1914 and 1915 2vlrs. A ustin was undergoing a deep re-im m ersion
in her r e lig io u s b e l i e f s .
Taking stock of h e r r e lig io u s views up t o t h i s p o in t, we fin d t h a t
she had embraced what she thought was th e Amerind r e lig io n .
medicine man were id e n tif ie d .
C h ris t and th e
C h ris t was a "genius" in m ysticism .
Any man,
by follow ing th e example o f Jesus and th e m edicine man, might get in to to u ch
w ith th e Powers,th e F riend o f th e Soul
th e I n f i n i t e S u b je c tiv e
" s p ir itu a lity ."
Mind.
of Man, th e Cosmic C onsciousness,
E x ercise o f t h i s fu n c tio n c o n s titu te d tr u e
And i f th e re were proper s p i r i t u a l i t y , th e so u l would be
organized and p a c ifie d and b o d ily illn e s s e s cu red .
O bviously, th e p la ce to
look fo r th e source o f th e se id eas i s n o t in e th n o lo g is ts ’ re p o rts on Amerind
r e lig io n s , b u t in th e works of Mary Baker Eddy and Ralph Waldo T rin e.
Mary A ustin was born in to , and liv e d out h er l i f e in , a s o c ie ty c e r ta in
elem ents of which p e r io d ic a lly looked w ith some s a ti s f a c ti o n towards mes­
merism, s p ir itu a lis m , C h ris tia n S cien ce, theosophy, te le p a th y , Hew Thought,
and o th er such phenomena.
And alth o u g h she cannot d e f i n i t e l y be put in to
th e camp of any such c u l t , i t can be shown t h a t from many of th e se she b o r­
rowed a l i t t l e and r e la te d a l l h e r borrowings t o h er c e n tr a l n o tio n of
wakonda.
34
To disavow C h ris tia n Science or theosophy or Hew Thought as w holes,
Mary A u stin , "The Wound That Bled in Heaven," H arper’s Weekly,
LVIII (May 23, 1914), 15.
285
and to in c o rp o ra te much o f t h e i r s p i r i t and some of t h e i r d e f in ite te n e ts
in to a re lig io u s c re ed p u rp o rte d ly American In d ian — t h a t i s no more stran g e
a perform ance th a n h e r claim ing fo r h e r beloved Indians th e d isco v e ry of
imagism, v e rs l i b r e , b enevolent c a p ita lis m and th e "give-aw ay” method of
d is tr ib u tin g w e alth , th e fundam entals of m arriage, or a p ro p er concept of
u n ity in th e sh o rt s to r y .
i t is th is :
For i f th e re i s any simple key to Mary A ustin
she could u ltim a te ly prove t h a t h e r every id ea was r e a l l y an
id e a fundamental in th e complex of Amerind l i f e .
Mary A ustin w rote of th e women o f her m o th er's age t h a t th e y liv e d
a denuded e x iste n c e , to r tu r e d by c h ild -b e a rin g , obscure female co m p lain ts,
and a g e n eral d e b i l i t y — e x a c tly th e kind o f world t h a t C h ris tia n Science
m ight have flo u ris h e d in .
" C h ris tia n S cien ce, Thought H ealin g , and v ario u s
o th e r v e ry s im ila r tre n d s came t o f i l l up th e gap . . .
a t a tim e when a f t e r
th e C iv il Mar th e l i f e of emotion was s in g u la rly starved."®®
In The Stam­
mering Ce n tu ry 3 6 S eldes shows how p r o l i f i c were fads and c u lts and sa v io rs
in n in e te e n th -c e n tu ry Amerioa, and how few persons escaped a l l o f them.
Mary A u stin in h er g irlh o o d had undoubtedly follow ed th e a f f a i r s of Mrs.
Eddy.
Both saw God a t an e a r ly age; He m erely showed h im se lf t o Mrs. A ustin
as a s p i r i t of b eau ty ; He c a lle d to Mrs. Eddy.®^ VJhether Mary Hunter took
t o h e a r t th e te a c h in g s of M rs. Eddy in h e r youth, o r w hether, l a t e r in l i f e ,
in te r p r e tin g h er e a r l i e r d ay s, she read some o f Mary B aker's ex p erien ces
back in to her own, i s n o t d eterm in ab le.
At any r a t e , by th e tim e Mary A ustin
35
T. C. H a ll, The R elig io u s Background of American C u ltu re (Boston,
1930), p . 312.
®® G ilb e rt S e ld e s, The Stammering C entury (New York, 1928).
37 Mary Baker Eddy, R etro sp e c tio n and In tro s p e c tio n (B oston, 1917),
p p. 8 -9 .
286
■wrote h er autobiography, she was a ffirm in g th in g s about h e r s e lf t h a t c u r i­
ously p a r a l l e l Mrs. Eddy’s e x p e rie n c e s.
J u s t as Mrs. Eddy d iscovered C h ris­
t i a n Science in 1866 a f t e r enduring an a c c id e n t th a t promised t o be f a t a l ,
so Mary A ustin in 1908 and 1909 found a cure fo r th e f a t a l d isea se o f cancer
by stu d y o f prayer in I t a l y .
Both Mary Baker P a tte rso n and Mary Hunter
A ustin were thrown out of a rooming-house because t h e i r re s p e c tiv e husbands
were to o im provident to pay t h e i r board b i l l s .^9
Mary P a tte rs o n tramped
New England and Mary A ustin tu rn e d in and washed d ish es to pay o f f h e r hus­
band's b i l l s .
Both complained o f t h e i r husbands' lack of competence.
Most
of th e s e p a r a lle l s Mary A ustin could have known about from Mrs. E ddy's own
w ritin g s , and a l l of them she could have known from Dakin’ s biography w hile
she was p re p a rin g h e r autobiography.
I n te r e s tin g as th e s e minor p a r a l l e l s a r e , th e y are n o t in them selves
im p o rtan t.
VJhat i s s tr ik in g i s th e g en eral lik e n e ss o f some of Mary A u s tin 's
id eas t o some o f Mrs. Eddy’ s te a o h in g s, a lik e n e ss extending even t o phrase­
ology — and th i s in d e sp ite o f M rs. A u stin ’s th i n ly v e ile d e x p ressio n o f
contempt f o r Mrs. Eddy as a s p i r i t u a l leader.^®
Throughout Mrs. A u s tin 's
C h ris t in I t a l y (1911), The Man Jesus (1915), Everyman's Genius (1923),
and Experiences Facing Death (1931) a re concepts which could h a rd ly have
come from any other source than Mrs. Eddy's v e ry p r o f ita b le and fre q u e n tly
re p rin te d Science and H e alth , th e "B ib le” of th e C h ris tia n Science ch u rch es.
90
E. F. Dakin, Mrs. Eddy: th e Biography o f a V irg in a l Mind (New
York and London, 1930), p . 61} A u stin , E arth H orizon, pp. 308 f f .
39
Dakin, op. c i t . , p. 64; E arth H orizon, pp. 235-237.
The name o f Mrs. Eddy is mentioned only once in a l l o f Mary A u s tin 's
w ritin g s , and th e n contem ptuously, i n th e same b re a th w ith Swedenborg. —
A u stin , Experiences Facing Death, p. 209.
287
The p a r a lle ls a re more numerous in th e f i r s t two books m entioned above,
sin ce in h e r l a t e r m ysticism Mrs. A u stin im ported some p sy c h o a n a ly tic a l
concepts and drew f a r th e r away from C h ris tia n Science th a n she had been
in 1911 and 1915.
Mrs. A u s tin 's i n s i s t i n g in The Man Jesu s and in C h ris t in I t a l y
upon th e p o s s i b i l i t y of "p ro g ressiv e r e v e la ti o n ," th e id ea t h a t C h ris t
perform ed n o th in g th a t could n o t be perform ed now by anyone who had learn ed
r e a l l y t o pray and had reached th e n e ce ssa ry s ta t e o f s p i r i t u a l i t y , i s , o f
c o u rse, in h e re n t in Science and H ealth . 41
o th e r co n cep ts:
I t is lik ew ise w ith numerous
( l ) t h a t C h r is t's h e a lin g o f th e s ic k was a m a n ife sta tio n
of His s p i r i t u a l g e n iu s;4^ (2) t h a t C h ris t was m erely a genius in s p i r i t u a l i t y ; ^
(3) t h a t even C h r i s t 's d is c ip le s had only a glimmering o f His s p i r i t u a l power; 44
(4) t h a t th e re s u rre c tio n was simply a trium ph o f p ray er and s p i r i t u a l i t y
over th e m a te ria l w orld.
AC
E s p e c ia lly n o ta b le is th e p a r a l l e l between "The
4 * Mary Baker Eddy, Science and H ealth w ith Key to th e S c rip tu re s
(B oston, 1917), p . 123, 11.24-29; p . 12, 11.10-15; p . 14, T U 25-30; p . 16,
11.20-23.
42 I b id . , p . 110, 11.25-29.
43 I b i d ., p . 315, 11.21-28.
44 I b id . , p . 136, 1.29; p . 137, 1 .1 5 .
45 I b id .
288
Green Bough,"
handbook.
most b e a u tif u l c h a p te r of C h ris t in I t a l y , and Mrs. Eddy's
Mrs. A u stin h e ld t h a t C h r is t's descen t in to th e tomb m s a r e ­
t r e a t fo r th e purpose o f a mighty in te n s i f ic a ti o n o f p ra y e r; t h a t th e re He
solved th e "whole problem o f e x is te n o e , having le a rn e d th a t th e world and
th e kingdoms o f th e world were unim portant in th e lig h t o f e te r n a l power;
and th a t L ife m s d e a th le s s .
The source of i t i s Mrs. Eddy's words, "The
lo n e ly p re c in c ts of th e tomb gave Jesus a refu g e from h is fo e s , — a p lace
in which t o solve th e g re a t problem o f b ein g .
His th re e d a y s' work in
th e sepulchre s e t th e s e a l of e t e r n i t y on tim e.
He proved L ife t o be d eath ­
le s s and Love t o be th e m aster of h a te ." 4^
J u s t as Mrs. Eddy complains t h a t language i s inadequate t o c a rry h er
huge t r u t h s , 48 so does Mary A u stin .
Mary Baker Eddy w ro te:
n e c e s s a rily dependent upon e d u c a tio n a l p ro c e sse s.
I t p o ssesses of i t s e l f
a l l beauty and p o e try , and th e power o f e x p ressin g them.
heard when th e senses a re s i l e n t .
"Mind i s n o t
S p i r i t , God, i s
Y«e a re capable of more th a n we do.
The
in flu en c e o f Soul c o n fe rs a freedom, which e x p la in s th e phenomena of im-
Mrs. A u s tin 's ch ap te r t i t l e , "The Green Bough," o f co u rse, imme'd i a t e l y suggests an in flu e n c e o f S ir James G. F ra z e r. C arefu l check o f th e
d a te s of F r a z e r 's v a rio u s e d itio n s , however, in d ic a te s t h a t l i t t l e m a te ria l
on th e green bough appeared in e d itio n s e a r ly enough t o have in flu en ced
M rs. A u stin . She probably "took h e r symbol from Southw estern In d ia n s . The
green bough i s g e n e ra lly a symbol of f e r t i l i t y and o f n a t u r e 's re n e w a li.
Mrs. A ustin uses i t , of c o u rse , a s a symbol o f r e s u r r e c ti o n .
F razer has m a te ria l on "green bough" in volumes I I and IX o f h is
complete e d itio n (S ir James G. F ra z e r, The Golden Bougih, A Study in Magic
and R e lig io n , T hird E d itio n (New York, 1935), 12 v o ls . ] . — No m a te ria l in
Volume IX had been p rin te d before th e London t h i r d e d itio n o f 1911-15 (Vol.
IX, 1913). Some o f th e m a te ria l in Volume I I o f th e 1935 e d itio n had ap­
peared as e a r ly a s 1894, b u t in even t h i s l a t e s t and most com plete e d itio n
th e r e is n o th in g on "green bough" except i t s use a s p ro te c tio n a g a in s t
w itc h c r a f t.
47 I b i d . , p. 44, 11.5 -1 0 .
48 I b i d . ,
p. 349,
1 1 .1 3 -2 3 .
289
p ro v is a tio n and th e fe rv o r o f u n tu to red l i p s . " 4® In a l l h er im p a tie n t
g ird in g a t s c h o la rs , in her numerous d efen ces o f th e " in tu itiv e " method
and o f h eig h ten in g o n e 's powers by p ra y e r, M rs. A u stin was fo llo w in g in
th e p ath o f Mrs. Eddy.
A kind o f a l l y o f C h ris tia n Science in th e la te n in e te e n th c en tu ry
was New Thought, never so s t r i c t l y c o d ifie d a s C h ris tia n Science and th e r e ­
fo re p e rm ittin g a le s s th e o lo g ic a l view and a more all-e m b ra cin g tran scen d en ­
ta lis m t o th o se persons who could n o t p u t them selves d e f in i te l y in to Mrs.
Eddy's camp.
Mary A u s tin 's m ysticism appears to have gained encouragement
i f n o t a c tu a l concepts from th e movement.
New Thought owed i t s o r ig in to
Warren F e lt Evans, who drew upon D. P. P . Quimby, th e m ental h e a le r o f
P o rtla n d , Maine. 50
At th e v e ry fo u n d atio n , th e n , New Thought was a l l i e d to
C h ris tia n S cien ce, f o r w hatever Mrs. Eddy's p ro te s ta tio n s t o th e c o n tra ry ,
she to o drew h e a v ily upon Quimby.51
The phrase "New Thought" was f i r s t
used by some members of th e M etaphysical Club o f Boston in 1894.®^
fo llo w e rs h e ld t h e i r f i r s t convention in 1899.
Its
By 1901, 7/illiam James,
le c tu r in g in Edinburgh, was t o c a l l New Thought America’ s g re a t o r ig in a l
c o n trib u tio n t o a system atic philosophy of l i f e , d e s p ite i t s "moonstruck
optimism" and i t s extrem ely vague formulation.®®
Never an organized body,
i t gave support t o 0 . S. M arden's Success Magazine, Ralph "Waldo T r in e 's
49 I b i d ., p. 89, 11. 18-24.
50
_
W.
G a rriso n , The March o f F a i t h ; th e S to ry o f R elig io n in
Amerioa sin ce 1865 (New York and London, 1933), p . 279.
®^ For f u l l d isc u ssio n o f Mrs. Eddy's debt to Quimby, see D akin, op. c i t .
52 G arriso n , op. c i t . , p . 279.
S e ld e s, The Stammering C entury, p. 350. James' le c tu r e s , o f c o u rse,
were p u b lish ed as The V a rie tie s o f R elig io u s E xperience.
290
In Tune w ith th e I n f i n i t e , and Mrs. E liz a b e th Towne's magazine N a u tilu s .
W. E. G arrison c a lls i t "the correspondence school of th e so u l" and says
i t "clo th es a s p i r i t of R otarian optimism in th e language o f an i d e a l i s t i c
philo so p h y ." “ Seldes holds t h a t i t had degenerated by 1914, bu t G arrison
im plies t h a t , in 1933, i t s t i l l had numerous a d h e re n ts .
Undoubtedly, as
Seldes h o ld s , i t had Emerson, Thoreau, liesmer, Quimby, Noyes, Owen, and
F o u rie r fo r a n c e s to rs .
I t was one o f many n in e te e n th -c e n tu ry e f f o r t s to
fin d a s u b s titu te fo r th e l o s t C a lv in is tic f a i t h , and i t s optimism, vague
id e a lism , n a tu re w orship, and f a i t h in an all-com prehensive Being owe much
t o T ranscendentalism .
Emerson w rote o fte n o f th e in flu x o f th e b e t t e r and u n iv e rs a l s e lf
in to the soul o f a godly man.
New Thought advocated a "Divine l e t t i n g go"
which " re la x e s you to re c e iv e th e in flu x o f pow er," and ta u g h t t h a t "Man i s
one w ith an all-co m p reh en siv e Being, which flow s from c e n te r t o circum fer­
ence bade t o center."®®
Mary A ustin w rote o fte n o f a m in d -stu ff perm eating
th e u n iv e rs e , a wakonda, th e force o f which a p ra y e rfu l so u l could send
co u rsin g through h is own b e in g .
In d ia n s, she h e ld , could la y hold o f th e
Powers; in th e C inauecento in I t a l y , power came to people on e a r th ; C h ris t
la id hold o f t h i s power; a -w riter had to la y h o ld o f t h i s power; and a dying
woman, la y in g hold of i t , could " i n t u i t " th a t she was to have im m o rtality .
Her m ysticism was co lo red in C h ris t in I t a l y by something o f th e C h ris tia n
concept of p ra y e r; in The Man Jesus by something o f Mrs. Eddy's idea o f th e
" s p i r i t u a l genius" of C h r is t; in Everyman' s Genius by some o f th e new psycho-
^
G arrison, op. c i t . , pp. 279-280.
®® The quoted p h ra s e s , from New Thought l i t e r a t u r e , a re taken from
S e ld e s, op. c i t . , p . 351.
291
a n a ly tic a l concepts; in Experiences F a c in g Death by something of Wundt’ s
idea t h a t a l l m ythologies c a rry a deep t r u t h — bu t through i t a l l runs
th e fundam ental concept so c lo s e ly a l l i e d t o a fundam ental ooncept o f Hew
Thought, t h a t th e "all-com prehensive Being" can be put t o work "Here and
How."
Ralph Waldo T rine w rote:
The g re a t c e n tr a l f a c t in human l i f e i s a coming in to a
conscious v i t a l r e a liz a tio n o f our oneness w ith t h i s I n f i n i t e
L ife , and th e opening o f o urselv es to t h i s d iv in e in flo w . . •
we iiake o u rselv es c o n sc io u sly channels through which th e
I n f i n i t e I n te llig e n c e and Power can work.
Mary A u s tin 's "Cosmic C onsciousness" and wakonda a re n o th in g b u t t h i s "In ­
f i n i t e In te llig e n c e and Power"; more s p e c if i c a lly , a l l h e r ch ap ters on
p ra y e r, f e t i s h e s , and a u to -su g g e stio n in Everyman's Genius a re bu t pseudo­
s c i e n t i f i c attem p ts t o re v e a l th e method by which "we rake o u rselv es
c o n sc io u sly
channels through which th e I n f i n i t e I n te llig e n c e and Power
can w ork."
New Thought took up th e n o tio n t h a t inanim ate o b jects gave o ff
em anations, t h a t a l l m atter ra d ia te d waves of sound and lig h t; le an in g
upon Mesmer, i t went fu r th e r and thought in term s o f m ental r a d ia tio n and
p sy c h ic a l em anation.
In Everyman's G enius, a lo s t In d ia n a r t i f a c t spoke
to Ivlary A u stin ; in The Land of Jo u rn e y 's Ending th e New Mexican P e n ite n te s
ra d ia te d to h er a f u l l ex p lan atio n of t h e i r "an cien t in c u ra b le p assio n of
e x p ia tio n " ; in England in 1921 she was immersed in to th e c o lle c tiv e con­
sciousness of th e E nglish ra c e w hile stan d in g in a ro se garden; id eas f r e ­
q u e n tly came to h e r o ff a n ig h t wind.
As she b e lie v e d in wakonda, i t was
56 Quoted in S e ld e s, op. c i t . , p . 355. The passag e, Seldes say s,
i s one of two passages chosen by W illiam James t o give "the c e n tr a l p o in t
o f view" of New Thought.
292
e a s y f o r her t o f o l l o w New Thought in t o b e l i e f in p s y c h ic a l em an ation s.
Mary A u stin * s C h r is t in I t a l y , d e s p it e h er a l le g a t io n th a t a stu d y
o f m ed ieval a s c e t i c i s m and prayer under th e guidance o f th e Blue Huns had
g iv en her h er i d e a s , i s but a compound o f C h r is tia n S c ie n c e , Hew Thought,
and some r o m a n tic iz in g o f th e American In d ia n .
U n derlying i t , i s th e f a i t h
in th e Pow ers, and any tec h n iq u e o f la y in g h o ld o f t h e Powers — M rs. Eddy’ s ,
or t h e T r a n s c e n d e n t a lis ts *, or th e C h r i s t i a n s ’ , or th e m edicine man's —
p le a s e s h e r .
The Man J esu s i s lik e w is e a compound o f C h r is tia n S c ie n c e ,
Hew Thought, and Mary A u s tin 's own brand o f d e s e r t m y sticism , and th e s t u ­
dent may d isc o u n t h er claim t o any g rea t knowledge o f Scriptttr& l e x e g e s i s .
By th e tim e M rs. A u stin had l e f t C a lifo r n ia in 1908 t o go t o I t a l y , she had
a lr e a d y le v ie d t r i b u t e upon M rs. Eddy and Ralph ViaId o T rin e, and had a lr e a d y
te le s c o p e d t h e s e two in flu e n c e s in t o a p r iv a te rea d in g o f In d ian c u lt u r e .
To s a t i s f y her demands upon h e r s e l f fo r o r i g i n a l i t y , she p r o fe sse d t o have
d e r iv e d her c r e e d from o b se r v a tio n o f In d ia n l i f e .
A c t u a lly , she rea d i n t o
ri
In d ian l i f e what sh e had a lr e a d y ga th ered in from th e confused s t r a i n s o f
r e l i g i o u s s e a r c h in g in "the stammering c e n tu r y ."
The b le n d was a s a t i s f a c t o r y o n e.
In C h r is tia n S cien ce sh e found a
m y sticism c l o s e l y enough a l l i e d t o th e C h r is tia n t r a d it io n t o p o s s e s s a
modicum o f r e s p e c t a b i l i t y .
C h r is tia n S c ie n c e , how ever, was n o t o r io u s ly
unconcerned about s o c i a l r e g e n e r a tio n .® 7
Hew Thought, w ith a somewhat s im i­
la r t h e o lo g y , was i n t e r e s t e d in s o c i a l r e g e n e r a tio n and w as, g e n e r a lly , l i b ­
e r a l in s o c i a l d o c t r in e .
57
A Hew Thought m agazine once proclaim ed t h a t t h a t
See H erbert W. S c h n e id e r , " C h ristia n S c ie n c e ," E n cyclop ed ia o f
th e S o c ia l S c ie n c e s , e d ite d by E. R. A. Seligm an and A lv in Johnson, IlYT
4 4 6 -4 4 9 .
293
movement m s
. . . sw eeping away a n tiq u a te d dogma, c r a s s m a te r ia lis m , b ig o tr y ,
s u p e r s t i t i o n , u n f a it h , in t o le r a n c e , p e r s e c u t io n , s u p p r e s s io n , f e a r ,
h a t e , i n t e l l e c t u a l ty ra n n y , and d e sp o tism , p r e ju d ic e , narrow ness,
p o v e r ty , d i s e a s e , y e a , perhaps even d e a th . . .
A l l th e c o n fu sed w averin g in Mary A u s tin ’ s th o u g h t betw een pure s p i r i t u a l ­
i t y and p ra g m a tica l s o c i a l r e g e n e r a tio n , w ith an o c c a s io n a l b le n d in g o f th e
tw o, i s , in a s e n s e , but th e c o n t e s t o f C h r is tia n S c ie n c e and New Thought
f o r p o s s e s s io n o f h er s o u l , w ith an o c c a s io n a l s y n t h e s is o f th e tw o .
h er mind, she was " s c i e n t i f i c . ”
To
B efore 1908, no l e s s a personage th an
W illiam James had commended her f o r her r e l i g i o u s s e a r c h .
59
What W illiam
James t o ld her and what he thou gh t o f h e r , we do n o t know; but w ith
The
V a r ie t ie s o f R e lig io u s E xp erience seven y e a r s or l e s s behind him, James
und oubtedly th ou gh t h er an i n t e r e s t i n g phenomenon i f n o t a sound p h ilo s o ­
p h er.
A fte r a l l , Whitman had been a c lo s e f r ie n d and fo llo w e r o f R. M.
Bucke o f "Cosmic C on sciou sn ess" fame and had t r a i l e d a f t e r th e p h r e n o lo g is t s ;
and Ralph Waldo Emerson (n o t T r in e l) had l i s t e d J . C. Spurzheim , t h e phre­
n o l o g i s t , in th e c a te g o r y o f g r e a t minds a lo n g w ith L ocke, L a v o is ie r , and
Bentham.
61
Alm ost any n in e te e n th -c e n tu r y A m erican, t h e r e f o r e , who came t o
m a tu r ity b e f o r e , s a y , 1900 (a s Mary A u stin d id ) may be fo r g iv e n h avin g pur­
sued some fa d or c u l t t h a t seemed t o prom ise t h a t l i f e , a f t e r a l l , was
m agical and m ea n in g fu l.
CO
Quoted in S e ld e s , op. c i t . , p . 35 7 .
E arth H orizon , pp. 282-283.
^ See Edward H ungerford, "Walt Yvhitman and H is Chart o f Bumps,"
American L it e r a t u r e , I I (1 9 3 0 -3 1 ), 3 5 0 -3 8 4 .
S e ld e s , op. c i t . ,
p . 315.
f\C \
294
Mrs. A u s t in 's n e x t th r e e major works in v o lv in g her r e l i g i o u s view s
are d i f f i c u l t t o summarize.
I t i s n o t d i f f i c u l t , how ever, t o se a rc h out
her fundam ental n o t io n s .
Everyman1s Genius f i t s th e new p sy c h o lo g y o f th e su b co n scio u s t o
M rs. A u s t in ’ s lo n g -h e ld v ie w s o f Cosmic C o n scio u sn ess and wakonda.
Genius
she d e fin e s as "sim ply th e c a p a c ity o f th e im m e d ia te -s e lf t o make fr e e and
unp rem editated u se o f r a c i a l m a te r ia l s to r e d up i n th e d e e p - s e l f , as w e ll
a s o f m a te r ia l acq u ired in th e cou rse o f in d iv id u a l e x p e r ie n c e . • •
Genius i s b u t an “ir r u p t io n , in t o t h e im m e d ia t e -s e lf , o f in h e r it e d c a p a c ity
t o d e a l w ith p a r t ic u la r a c t i v i t y . "
63
A g a in , in th e p r e fix e d d e f i n i t i o n s ,
g e n iu s i s "the f r e e , u n tu to r e d p la y o f t h e r a c i a l in h e r ita n c e i n t o th e
im m ediate l i f e
o f th e in d iv id u a l." ® ^
The con cep t i s r a th e r a k in t o t h a t
o f e'lan v i t a l , f o r a lth o u g h M rs. A u stin n ev er u s e s t h a t term , she speaks o f
t h e " c o n tin u ity
o f g e n iu s
w ith t h e lif e - p u s h " 33 and h o ld s g e n iu s t o be t h e
"growing t i p o f th e r a c e - l i f e , h avin g behind i t t h e lo n g unbroken stem o f
r a c i a l e x p e r ie n c e , u s in g t h e in d iv id u a l a s t h e in stru m en t o f new ad ven tu res
and p o s s ib le in crem en ts o f growth . . .
deep l i f e demanding more l i f e , ex ­
p e r ie n c e a c h in g t o add e x p e r ie n c e t o i t s e l f . A l t h o u g h t h i s i s f ig u r a t iv e
and m eta p h o rica l la n g u a g e, th e con cep t i s t o be ta k e n l i t e r a l l y :
c r e a t io n
i s p u rp o siv e and e v o lu t io n i s toward g r e a te r and g r e a te r command o f c o n s c io u s -
62
Mary A u s tin , Everym an's Genius ( I n d ia n a p o lis , 1 9 2 3 ), p . 2 8 .
63 IbiAt » P* 33»
^
I b id . , "Term inology," (no p a g in a t io n ) .
I b id . , p . 3 1 .
66 I b id .
295
n e s s over m atter.® ?
o f man’ s a c t i v i t y .
G enius i s p r e se n t in a l l men and works in a l l f i e l d s
But i t i s c o n d itio n e d by o n e ’ s p e r so n a l endowment o f
t a l e n t and i n t e l l i g e n c e ; th a t i s , o n ly th o s e p erson s whose " in strum enta­
tio n " i s adequate can c a l l th e r e s o u r c e s o f g e n iu s up in t o c o n s c io u s n e s s
and make u se o f them .
Three p s y c h o lo g ic a l l e v e l s in e v o lu tio n a r y sequence are d e s c r ib e d :
"the i n t u i t i v e or inknow ing c o n s c io u s n e s s a s i t appears in a l l n o n sen so ry
forms o f l i f e ; th e s u b j e c t iv e c o n s c io u s n e s s a s i t shows in th e p u r e ly sen ­
so ry ty p e s o f organism ; and t h e s e l f - c o n s c i o u s , as i t appears in t h e h ig h er
a n im a ls , in c lu d in g man."®®
Man i s th e in h e r it o r o f a l l t h r e e .
She i s n o t
q u it e c le a r a s t o which l e v e l "cosm ic c o n sc io u sn e ss" b elo n g s t o ; and she
u s e s t h e term in a p r iv a te sen se.® ^
Most im portant i n man are t h e "im m ediate-
s e lf " and th e " d e e p -s e lf" ; th e former b e g in s a t b ir t h and i s "borne a t t h e
t i p o f an a g e -lo n g s t a l k a r i s i n g o u t o f some unim agined sou rce o f l i f e , by
i n f i n i t e a c c r e t io n s o f e x p e r ie n c e ." ^
The " d e e p -se lf" i s d e f in a b le
o n ly
in " fig u r e s and a n a lo g ie s " and i s un d ou b ted ly n o t c l e a r l y d is t in g u is h e d from
g e n iu s .
67
C f . , E x p erien ces F acin g Death ( I n d ia n a p o lis , 1 9 3 1 ), p . 32:
t h in g w ith in a l l l i f e knows a l l th e ways p o s s ib le t o l i f e . "
"Some­
®® Everyman’ s G en ius, p . 113.
®® In W illiam Jam es's V a r ie t ie s o f R e lig io u s E xp erien ce (Eew York and
London, 1 9 2 0 ), p . 3 9 8 , "cosmic c o n sc io u sn e ss" seems t o mean l a r g e l y th e
" in e ff a b le e x p erien ce" o f r e l i g i o u s m y stic s from tim e immemorial, th e ex ­
p e r ie n c e o f TJhity, o f O ne-ness w ith God; w hereas w ith M rs. A u stin t h e term
i s v a g u e ly i d e n t i f i a b l e w ith e la n v i t a l , t h e p r in c ip le o f s e l f - d i r e c t i n g
l i f e , the. urge b eh in d e v o lu t io n .
70
Everyman1s G e n iu s, p . 1 1 3 .
296
In w orking w ith o u r s e lv e s we have alw ays t o work from th e s p o t­
l ig h t in t o th e shadowed a r e a s , but we w i l l work t o g r e a te r advantage
i f we im agine th e d e e p - s e l f a s an u n in te rr u p te d stem o f c o n s c io u s n e s s
a r is i n g out o f a F i r s t Cause or a Cosmic C o n sc io u sn e ss. We are t o
watch i t c o n t in u a lly p r e s s in g forw ard , f i r s t by i n t u i t i o n , th e n by
i n t u i t i o n p lu s s u g g e s tio n , l a t e r adding i n t e l l i g e n c e t o i t s e l f and
g a th e rin g r a t i o n a l i t y , w earing alw ays th e im m e d ia te -s e lf a s a flo w e r
on th e t i p o f i t s s t e a d i l y e lo n g a tin g s t a l k . At th e p o in t o f t h e ir
attachm ent glows t h e c i r c l e o f s e lf - a w a r e n e s s . Beyond t h i s c i r c l e
exten d s th e ten u ou s f lo r e s c e n c e o f th e im m e d ia te -s e lf, em o tio n s,
im p r e s s io n s , i d e a s , p art o f w hich a r e , by a l i t t l e known mechanism,
p assed in t o th e r a c i a l in h e r it a n c e . The r e s t , sh ed , p erh a p s, in
d e a th , and f l o a t i n g l i k e d r ie d p e t a ls s t i l l r e d o le n t o f th e perfume
o f p e r s o n a lit y , brush th e f r in g e s o f o th er minds s t i l l f a s t t o t h e ir
s t a l k s , c r e a t in g t h e i l l u s i o n o f a f t e r - d e a t h com m unication."^
%
The problem i s t o make t h e d e e p - s e l f and t h e im m e d ia te -s e lf work t o g e t h e r ,
she h o ld s , alw ays remembering t o d is t in g u is h betw een m astery and u se o f th e
d e e p - s e l f and m astery and u se o f th e medium th rou gh w hich t h e d e e p - s e l f
i s t o sp ea k .
The l a t t e r i s a r a t i o n a l p r o c e s s ; but th e d e e p - s e l f i s con­
t r o l l a b l e o n ly by s u g g e s t io n .
And s u g g e s tio n works w e l l o n ly upon th e
d e e p -s e lf.
S u g g e stio n i s b u t a m atter o f t h e " c r e a tiv e w is h ."
The " c r e a tiv e
w ish" i s founded, fo r h e r , upon th e r e a l i t y o f " p sych ic energy" or "dynamic
p sy c h e ," w hich i s , she s a y s , but a new term f o r t h e Indians* wakonda, a
k in d o f m y ste r io u s en erg y p ervad in g th e w o rld .
O ne's own wakonda i s con­
n e c te d w ith t h e w o r ld 's wakonda and may in flu e n c e i t i f one has th e proper
i n t e n s i t y o f w is h in g .
kind o f a u to s u g g e s tio n .
T h is i n t e n s i t y o f w is h in g i s a u to p r a y e r, a s u b t le r
For one moment she drops th e ja r g o n .
" . . .
t h e im m e d ia te -s e lf can o n ly in v e n t; a l l c r e a t iv e n e s s i s su b jectiv e." ® ®
^
7 0
I b i d . , pp. 1 1 4 -1 1 5 .
The id e a i s p e r f e c t l y f a m ilia r t o read ers o f C o le r id g e 's B iographia
L it e r a r ia and S h e l l e y ’ s "In D efen se o f P o e tr y ." C o le r id g e 's a n a l y s is o f
"primary" and "secondary" im a g in a tio n and S h e l le y ' s A r i s t o t e li a n d i s t i n c ­
t i o n betw een th e a n a l y t i c a l and th e s y n t h e t ic power are ro u gh ly an alogous
t o M rs. A u s t in 's id e a . C o le r id g e 's B iograp h ia L it e r a r ia i s in M rs. A u s t in 's
297
But th e w ild " fig u r e s and a n a lo g ie s " r e tu r n w ith her d e s c r ip t io n o f how
h er f r i e n d , H erbert H oover, p r a c t ic e s au top rayer and w ith hor e x p r e ss io n
o f t o le r a n c e tow ards s a i n t s and o th e r " p e r so n a liz e d in s tr u m e n ta litie s ," ^ ®
w h ich are but c o n c r ete a id s or v i s u a l i z a t i o n s o f t h e Power, th e "dynamic
p sy c h e ."
M y sticism i s r a t i o n a l .
I t works and i t i s in accord w ith th e b e s t
s c i e n t i f i c know ledge.
S h e , a m y s t ic , no lon ger se e k s th e A b s o lu te , th e
in e f f a b l e e x p e r ie n c e .
She w ish es t o d iv o r c e m y stic ism from r e l i g i o n and
u s e i t "to m aster th e Here and How, n o t t o esca p e i t . " ^
M e d ita tio n i s
th e b e g in n in g o f th e m y s t ic a l a d v e n tu r e , she s a y s ; she o f f e r s p r a c t ic a l
h i n t s f o r in d u c in g m e d ita tio n , most o f them m o d ern iza tio n s o f o ld prayer
p r a c tic e s .
But s in c e she i s w r itin g t o w ould-be a u th o r s , th e p r a o t ic a l
problem occu rs t o her o f how, through m e d ita tio n , in d e lib e r a t e r e t i r e ­
m ent, a n y th in g new and o f v a lu e t o a w r it e r can come in to c o n s c io u s n e s s
e x c e p t by way o f se n so ry p e r c e p tio n or a n c e s t r a l e x p e r ie n c e .
The old
m y s t ic s , she s a y s , thought som ething came in from th e o u t s id e ; t h e " s c ie n ­
t i s t s " hold th e same, w hich t h e y name " te le p a th y ."
b e l ie v e in " te le p a th y ."
S h e, how ever, does n o t
She has a b e t t e r e x p la n a tio n .
" • . , th e r e i s a
g e n e r a l [em phasis su p p lied } su b c o n s c io u s , a group c o n s c io u s n e s s in w hich
a l l our c o n s c io u s n e s s i s r o o te d , and . . .
a c o n s ta n t, p o s s ib ly p e r c e p t ib le ,
b ib lio g r a p h y , b u t th e r e i s o n ly one r e fe r e n c e t o C o le r id g e i n t h e book and
t h a t i s t o th e fa m ilia rly -k n o w n in c id e n c e o f "Kubla Khan."
^® She to o k up In d ia n f e t i s h e s a s e f f e c t i v e " p e r so n a liz e d instrum en­
t a litie s ."
The w r ite r has in h i s p o s s e s s io n c o p ie s o f l e t t e r s w hich Mrs.
A u stin w rote t o Louis Adamic and t o C arey McVfiLlliams; she m entions h avin g
s e n t each a f e t i s h . Adamic r e co r d s h i s bew ilderm ent in My Am erica (Hew
York, London, 1 9 3 8 ).
74 -
Everym an’ s G e n iu s, p . 1 5 3 .
298
f lo w among a l l in d iv id u a l c o n s c io u s n e s s . . . .
P robably in m e d ita tio n
t h e r e i s emergence o f th e group c o n s c io u s n e s s i n t o th e in d iv id u a l.
T h is
i s im m ensely im p ortan t, i f t r u e , t o th e fu tu re e v o lu t io n o f s o c i e t y , and
m y stic is m , in s te a d o f b e in g th e p r eo ccu p a tio n o f a few p sy ch o p a th ic i n d iv id ­
u a l s , becomes one o f th e m ost im portant o f s o c i a l f u n c t io n s ." 7®
I n t u it i o n , she p r o c e e d s, i s " n on -sen sory p e r c e p tio n ,1' " in k n ow in g."
The obviou s form s o f inknow ing are th e hunch and th e p r e se n tim e n t.
She
r e l a t e s two o f her own p r e s e n tim e n ts , one about a murder and one about
th e San F r a n c isc o e a r th q u a k e .7® I f th e p s y c h o l o g is t s ’ e x p la n a tio n s o f
t h e s e a s " k in a e sth e sia " or a form o f t e le p a t h y i s c o r r e c t , th e n t h e p r e sen ­
tim e n t i s n o t an i n t u i t i v e phenomenon; but she b e lie v e s t h a t th e p r e s e n t i ­
ment and many a l l i e d p sy c h ic phenomena are sim p le "inknow ings, im p e r f e c t ly
d e liv e r e d a t th e l e v e l o f i n t e l l i g e n c e . " 77
"Inknowing" now broadens o u t.
f a c u lt ie s ."
I t becomes one o f th e "super-norm al
Among i t s powers a r e t h o s e o f f in d in g l o s t a r t i c l e s , d e s c r ib ­
in g p l a c e s , p e r so n s, or ev e n ts removed in s p a c e , a r r iv in g a t tr u th s w hich
th e r a t i o n a l mind cannot y e t encom pass.
These f a c u l t i e s o f "inknowing
thought" a r e , she e x p la in s , se n se p e r c e p tio n s ly in g b elow th e th r e s h o ld o f
s tim u la t io n ; th e y r e p r e s e n t a s t a t e o f uninstru m ented p e r c e p tio n , d if f u s e d ,
as i t w ere, th rou gh ou t a l l organism s and a l l l i f e , t h e means by w hich l i f e
has grown and d e v e lo p e d .
I f ev er we le a r n u se o f t h i s f a c u lt y by means o f
th e i n t e l l i g e n c e , we s h a l l be on th e road t o undream ed-of a c h iev e m en ts.
75 I b id *# P* 170‘
7fi
Earth H orizon , t o o , r e l a t e s th e l a t t e r as w e ll as s e v e r a l o th er
f e a t s o f c la ir v o y a n c e . See E arth H orizon, pp. 273, 3 0 2 , 3 4 5 -3 4 6 .
77 Everyman’ s G en ius, p . 177.
299
Did n o t l i f e e x i s t on th e e a r th f o r a space o f tim e w h ich ,
compared t o our t im e , i s a s a m il li o n t o o n e , by no o th e r power
th a n i t s inknowinguess'? B efore i t had e a r s t o hear or ey es t o
s e e or n erv es t o t i n g l e , l i f e became, grew , e v o lv e d , provided
i t s e l f w ith th e whole s e t o f s e n s e s and m en tal f a c u l t i e s , by a
power o f knowing and moving upon th a t knowledge w ith in i t s e l f .
I t i s t h i s l e v e l o f c o n s c io u s n e s s , w hich i s approached by th e
way o f m e d ita tio n , th a t we are s lo w ly le a r n in g t o u se by means
o f th e i n t e l l i g e n c e , e v o lv e d , p erh ap s, fo r t h a t e x p r e ss p u r p o s e . 78
T h is i s th e d e e p e st reach o f Mary A u s tin ’ s p sy ch o lo g y and th e r e fo r e o f
h er p h ilo so p h y .
I t inform s The T r a il Book, w hich i s b u t a r e a ch in g back
th ro u g h th e r a c i a l memory t o our anim al s t a t e , and from i t t o th e v ery
b e g in n in g s , th e U ltim ate R e a lit y .
I t i s th e b a s is o f a l l her m y stic ism ,
and i t e x p la in s p e r f e c t ly t h e p e c u lia r compound o f m y stic and p r a g m a tist.
Mrs. A u stin ta k es p a in s t o a f fir m t h a t inknow ing has n o th in g t o do
w ith " s p ir it communication" and th a t s p i r i t u a l i s t s approach t h e i r problem
from th e wrong end.
In ste a d o f a s k in g th e dead t o come back t o them i n
h id e o u s ly a tte n u a te d form , t h e y sh ou ld plunge down in t o th e cosm ic con­
s c io u s n e s s w it h in th em selv es and s e e i f i t w i l l n o t r e v e a l p a s t , p r e s e n t,
and f u t u r e .
One alm ost e n t i r e l y u n e x c e p tio n a b le c h a p te r , "The C r e a tiv e P r o c e ss,"
s t a t e s th e one c o n c lu sio n th a t i s th o r o u g h ly j u s t i f i e d i n Mrs. A u s tin ’ s
stu d y — th e c o n c lu sio n a lr e a d y n o te d , t h a t c r e a t iv e t a l e n t works in an
in e x p lic a b le viay and great work comes up ou t o f th e d e e p s , fu s e d , a f t e r
m e d it a tio n , in th e "deep w e ll o f c o n s c io u s n e s s ,"
79
l e c t i o n but n o rm a lly su b je c t t o r a t io n a l c o n t r o l.
tr a n sc e n d in g mere i n t e l ­
Mrs. A u s tin ’ s " p r a c tic a l"
s u g g e s tio n s — th e u se o f form ulas and f e t i s h e s , a u to s u g g e stio n and a u to ­
78
P» I 98*
The p h r a se , o f c o u r s e , i s t h e v e r y a p t one o f J . L. Lowes in
The Road t o Xanadu (B oston and Hew Y ork, 1 9 2 7 ).
300
p rayer — are u n n ec e ssa ry .
P ersons o f c r e a t iv e power w i l l a lr e a d y have
t h e i r u n co n scio u s or c o n s c io u s methods o f doing t h e i r b e s t work; and
f e t i s h e s w i l l n o t h e lp th e o t h e r s .
The book i s o f im portance or worth o n ly
t o th e c r i t i c o f Iviary A u s t in , fo r i t s e t s fo r t h f a i r l y e x p l i c i t l y her vague
adherence t o th e co n cep t o f e'lan v i t a l , p u rp o siv e e v o lu t io n ,
and " c o n tin ­
uous mind" in strum ented by th e d e p o s it o f r a c i a l e x p e r ie n c e in th e in d iv id ­
u a l p sy c h e .
The r a th er f u l l e x p o s it io n o f th o s e id e a s g iv e n h ere makes
t h e d is c u s s io n o f t h e remainder o f her work e a s y and b r i e f .
E xp erien ces F acing Death u se s much o f th e argument o f Everyman*s
G enius but bends i t t o f i t an approach t o th e q u e s tio n o f p e r s o n a l su r ­
v iv a l.
" S o u l’ s con tin u an ce" had long been an im portant q u e s tio n f o r llary
A u s t in .
How p a st th e age o f s i x t y and c o n fro n ted by th e p r o sp e c t o f p e r ­
s o n a l d i s s o l u t i o n , she has had some " e x p erien ces f a c in g d e a th ."
Her former
c o n v ic t io n " th at human c o n sc io u sn e ss s u r v iv e s t h e d i s s o l u t i o n o f th e body"®®
rem ains w ith h e r .
She has no t r a d i t i o n a l f e a r s o f punishment in a f t e r ­
l i f e , no " b e la te d moral q u e a s in e s s , nor any s p i r i t u a l unease."® ^
She can
s t i l l make th e " h a b itu a l r e sp o n se ," s t i l l h o ld th e id e a o f God a s "the
e x p e r ie n c e a b le q u a l i t y in th e U n iv e r se," th e U n iv e r s a l C o n sc io u sn e ss, which
i s a c c e s s i b le t o men im m ed iately and d i r e c t l y .
From th e moment o f her f i r s t
aw areness o f God a t th e age o f f i v e or s i x , she has been a b le t o p r a c tio e
Rn
llary A u s tin , E xp erien ces F acin g Death ( I n d ia n a p o lis , 1 9 3 1 ), p . 1 8 .
81 I b i d . , p . 2 2 .
301
th e P r e sen ce o f God alm ost a t w i l l , t o hear th e V o ice and he e n c lo s e d w ith
" in e ff a b le warmth and l i g h t . "
QO
T h is e x p e r ie n c e o f u n it y w ith th e l i f e
f o r c e , an e x p e r ie n c e coining from h er Sacred M id d le, has alw ays t o ld h er
t h a t l i f e i s e v e r - l i v i n g , and she has t r u s t e d t h i s i n t u i t i o n much more th an
t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l pronouncements o f p rophets o f e x t i n c t io n and death such
a s Bertrand R u s s e ll, or A lb e r t E i n s t e i n .
m a jo r ity are w ith h e r .
On t h i s p o in t , she f e e l s , t h e
The m a jo r ity t r u s t t h e v o ic e o f th e Sacred M iddle
in v i t a l m a tters f a r more th an t h e y t r u s t t h e i r i n t e l l i g e n c e ; and th e y
and Mary A u stin have an in e r a d ic a b le c o n v ic t io n o f l i f e ’ s e v e r - liv in g n e s s
and s o u l ’ s c o n tin u a n c e.
But in s p i t e o f her c o n v ic t io n s , she i s a f r a id — a f r a id n o t "of
le a v in g l i f e , b u t o n ly o f le a v in g t h i s life ." ® ®
she w i l l go on and under what c o n d it io n s .
t i a l s o f d is c a r n a te existen ce?" ® ^
For she does n o t know how
"What do we know o f t h e e s s e n ­
Her f e a r , th e n , i s a f e a r o f a v a p id ,
d u l l , e x is t e n c e in a f t e r - l i f e , w ith o u t c a p a c ity f o r th e enjoym ent she has
known i n t h i s l i f e , p o s s ib ly w ith o u t memory or i d e n t i t y .
"What am I and
what have I w ith w hich t o defen d m y se lf a g a in s t th e d i s s o l u t io n o f my
p r e se n t fram e and h a b it o f b e in g , w ith w hich t o r e s i s t th e r e a b so r p tio n o f
my i d e n t i t y in to th e stream o f u n d if f e r e n t ia t e d co n sc io u sn e ss? "
drab
l im it a t io n s upon th e
American In d ia n s
82
occur t o
I b id . ,
p . 26.
83 Ib id * »
p. 23.
84
85
P* 3 5 ,
85
A ll th e
a f t e r - l i f e e n v is io n e d by G reeks, E g y p tia n s, and
her and g iv e her an a n c ie n t , p a g a n -lik e
fe a r
of
I b i d . , p p . 3 7 -3 8 . In a v e r y obscure poem, "Aged P oet D is c o u r s e s ,"
Saturday Review o f L it e r a t u r e , V I I I (1 9 3 1 ), 8 6 , she has Thomas Hardy’ s
gh ost w orrying ab ou t th e same problem .
302
" con tin u ed l i f e
m ent."
o f t h e s p i r i t s tr ip p e d o f th e s p i r i t ’ s accustom ed i n s t r u -
What i f she should l o s e her a p p r e c ia tio n o f n a tu r a l b e a u ty , h er
se n so r y a p p a r a tu s, h er c o n sc io u s i n t e l l i g e n c e , h er m ind, her v e r y id e n t it y ?
And w orst o f a l l , a m o r e -th a n -V ic to r ia n f e a r , r e p r e s s io n , or m o rb id ity o f
th e age makes i t im p o ssib le t o seek th e " r e so r t o f human e x p e r ie n c e ."
No-
body w i l l t a l k o f such t h in g s .
Mary A u s tin ’ s s e a r c h , t h e n , s t a r t s w ith th e assu m p tion o f " s o u l's
c o n tin u a n c e ."
Yihat she se ek s i s e v id en ce t h a t t h e s o u l w i l l have an a f t e r ­
l i f e w orthy o f i t s ach ievem en ts in t h i s l i f e — th a t i t w i l l be an i d e n t i t y
and n o t a g ib b e r in g g h o s t .
two p la c e s :
F undam entally, she look s fo r t h i s e v id en ce in
in stu d y o f p r im itiv e l o r e , and in fu r th e r stu d y o f th e su b -
c o n s c io u s n e s s o f modern man.
The book does l i t t l e more th a n r e s t a t e t h e
fundam entals o f Everyman’ s G en iu s:
Mrs. A u s t in 's b e l i e f i n orenda or wa­
konda, t h e c o n s c io u s n e s s perm eating a l l l i f e , w hich can be made t o do
what a man w ants i t t o do; her b e l i e f in t h e a ll-k n o w in g n e ss o f th e d eep s e l f w h ich c o n ta in s a l l t h e e x p e r ie n c e o f t h e race from th e v e r y b e g in ­
n in g o f c o n sc io u s l i f e ; her f a i t h in th e M y s tic a l Way; h er f a i t h t h a t a
r a t i o n a l and s c i e n t i f i c stu d y o f th e d e e p - s e l f and th e M y stic Vfe.y w i l l
te a c h u s t o u se th e su b c o n sc io u sn e ss and b r in g i t s r e v e la t io n s in t o l i n e
w ith our b e s t i n t e l l e c t u a l b e l i e f s .
She adm its t h a t p r im itiv e lo r e d oes
n o t y e t seem t o r e v e a l any c o n c e p tio n o f l i f e - a f t e r - d e a t h s a t i s f a c t o r y t o
a modern p erson who has lea rn ed o f human d ig n it y and i s t h e in h e r it o r o f
v a s t le a r n in g ; but she h o ld s t h a t p r im itiv e man d id have "inknow ing," made
th e h ig h e s t u se o f h i s r e s o u r c e s , and th a t i f we could make a s com plete u se
86 I b i d . , p . 4 1 .
303
o f our r e s o u r c e s a s p r im itiv e man d id , we m ight d is c o v e r t h e p o s s i b i l i t y
o f an a f t e r - l i f e p le a s in g t o u s .
Mrs. A u stin p r e s e n ts a s h er b e l i e f t h e b e l i e f o f p r a c t i c a l l y a l l
prim-i -hives "that d ea th i s a tim e o f p e r i l t o th e s o u l; th a t th e p a ssa g e
from in c a r n a te l i f e t o d is c a m a t e e x is t e n c e i s one w hich r e q u ir e s d e lio a t e
and d i f f i c u l t n e g o tia tio n ." ® 7
Among n e a r ly a l l fu n e r a l r i t e s "was th e
d eath so n g , r i s i n g ou t o f th e c o n v ic t io n t h a t s u r v iv a l i s f a c i l i t a t e d by
m eetin g d eath in augmented s t a t e s o f c o n s c io u s n e s s ."88
The n o t io n th a t
s u c c e s s f u l s u r v iv a l i s dependent upon h ig h s t a t e s o f c o n s c io u s n e s s , upon
an i n t e n s i t y o f w is h in g , i s in accord w ith h er n o tio n t h a t t h e d e s ir e t o
s u r v iv e may be t h e f a r t h e s t t i p o f th e grow ing s t a l k o f c o n s c io u s n e s s , th e
h ig h e s t achievem en t o f l i f e .
And she had s a id , e a r ly in her book, t h a t i f
any a l e r t and e a g er and i n t e n s e l y - l i v i n g s o u l d eserved c o n tin u a n c e , her
s o u l , she th o u g h t, d eserved i t .
Mrs. A u stin o b je c ts t o t h e approach o f th e s p i r i t u a l i s t s t o th e
problem o f s u r v iv a l .
She h o ld s t h a t her "M ystic Way" — th e way o f form ula
and f e t i s h , o f p r a y e r , o f a u to s u g g e s tio n — r e q u ir e s no f a i t h in a n y th in g ,
but sim p ly a u se o f c e r t a in te c h n iq u e s .
A l l r e li g io u s p r a c t i c e , f o r h e r ,
b o i l s down t o a m a tter o f s u g g e s tio n t o th e su b c o n sc io u sn e ss and o f p le a
by th e wakonda o f t h e s e l f t o th e g r e a t wakonda o f th e w o r ld .
One sh ou ld
p r a c tic e and n o t t r y t o u n d erstan d .
You f o llo w t h e M ystic Way u n t i l you g e t beyond your e x p e r ie n c e ;
and th e n a l i t t l e fh r th e r u n t i l you r ea ch th e lim it a t io n o f your
i n t e l l i g e n c e t o in t e r p r e t , and th e r e you s t i c k . Always i t must be
borne i n mind how new th e i n t e l l i g e n c e i s , how immature. Always i t
^
P* 84*
88 I b i d . , p . 1 5 3 .
304
i s p o s s ib le t o o u tg u e s s, o u ts e e and b u t f e e l your i n t e l l i g e n c e .
But you are bound t o make a mess o f t r y i n g t o e x p la in e x p e r i­
e n c e s beyond i t s c a p a c it y . Look a t Swedenborgl Look a t Mary
Baker Eddyl89
She i s a lm o st contem ptuous o f a l l th e g r e a t m y stic s o f t h e p a s t .
They d id n o t know how
t h e y worked; i t rem ains t h e r e f o r e fo r s c ie n c e t o
throw l i g h t upon t h e M ystic Way so t h a t a l l may u se i t Here and How.
The
o ld e r m y stic s sou gh t t h e I n e f f a b le E x p er ie n c e; Mary A u stin n ever had t h a t
e x p e r ie n c e ; she never became ’’woozy" w ith m y stic ism .
c lo s u r e o f t h e Way."
There was no " f in a l
She w ants a s c i e n t i f i c p r o o f o f what she i s con vin ced
o f by her own stren u o u s inknow ing.
But a s fo r h e r s e l f p e r s o n a lly , she i s
co n vin ced o f h er im m o r ta lity .
Can P rayer Be Answered? (1934) adds n o th in g t o th e developm ent o f
M rs. A u s t in 's m y s tic a l th o u g h t.
In d eed , la y in g a s id e a l l p s y c h o lo g ic a l
t h e o r y , Mrs. A u stin p r o f e s s e s her f a i t h i n th e I n d ia n ’ s power o f h e a lin g
b y means o f la y in g hold o f wakonda .
I f one t a k e s s to c k o f a l l M rs. A u s t in 's r e l i g i o u s id e a s a t t h i s
p o in t , one r e a d il y s e e s t h a t an unchanged fundam ental has run th rou gh from
b e g in n in g t o end:
wakonda, m in d -s t u ff , pervades th e u n iv e r se ; any m ortal
can la y h o ld o f i t t o in c r e a s e h i s own pow ers.
T his id e a , i t has been
shown, i s e s s e n t i a l l y a compound o f C h r is tia n S c ie n c e and New Thought
f o i s t e d upon t h e In d ia n .
ch an ged .
A fte r 1915, th e u n d erp in n in gs o f t h i s f a i t h
Dr. C ou e's d o c t r in e o f a u to s u g g e s tio n became p op u lar.
B efore
Everym an's Genius (1 9 2 3 ), th e t h e o r ie s o f Jung and Bergson had had w ide
p u b lic ity .
C on seq u en tly , Mary A u stin sought t o g iv e s o i e n t i f i o support
89 I b i d . , p p. 2 0 8 -2 0 9 .
305
t o h er lo n g -h e ld id e a .
The mind was a r e p o s it o r y o f a l l r a c i a l e x p e r ie n c e .
The su b c o n sc io u s knows a l l th a t h a s happened and a l l t h a t w i l l happen.
By
stu d y o f t h e su b con sciou s and by stu d y o f p r im itiv e b e l i e f s , we s h a l l know
th e b e s t t h a t has been th ou gh t and s a id on th e q u e s tio n o f Im m o rta lity .
Prayer i s proved " s c i e n t i f i c ” by the new t h e o r ie s o f a u to s u g g e s tio n .
i s proved by i n t u i t i o n .
Vfakonda
Jung and B ergson , in o th er w ords, come in t o sup­
p o rt Mary Baker Eddy and New Thought.
I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t in 1909, j u s t b e fo r e Mary A u stin w rote C h r is t
in I t a l y , and in 1927 and 1928, w h ile Mary A u stin was w r itin g E x p erien ces
F a cin g D eath, M rs. Augusta S t e ts o n was v e r y prom inent in newspaper head­
lin e s .
M rs. S t e t s o n , major d i s c i p l e o f Mrs. Eddy, and head o f th e la r g e s t
C h r is tia n S c ie n c e Church in New York C it y , was r a th e r r u t h l e s s l y excommu­
n ic a te d i n 1909; a l l th rough h er o r d e a l, how ever, she p u b lic ly a ffir m e d her
l o y a l t y t o Mrs. Eddy and em barrassed th e l a t t e r and her Church by p u b li c ly
c la im in g fo r M rs. Eddy d ir e c t a p o s t le s h ip from C h r ist and an unblem ished
d iv in ity .
In C h r is t in I t a l y (1912) Mary A u stin f i r s t a ffir m e d h e r b e l i e f
t h a t any m ortal cou ld a c h ie v e C h r is t ’ s s p i r i t u a l i t y and m iraculous powers
by t h e p roper " i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n o f w is h in g ," t h a t i s , b y p r a y e r .
J u st b e­
fo r e M rs. S te ts o n d ie d in 1928, sh e p u b lic ly a ffirm ed "that she would be
imm ortal — ’here and n ow .’ "
90
"To th e v e r y end she m ain tain ed t h a t Mary
Baker Eddy came t o h er c o n s t a n t ly , and t h a t t h e y communed to g e th e r e v e r y
n ig h t on p la n es t o o h ig h fo r human k en ."
a q u e s t io n .
91
" 'D ie ? ’ she exclaim ed once t o
HYhy, o f c o u r se , I s h a n 't d i e . . . .
90 Dakin, o g . c i t . , p . 4 9 3 .
91 I b id .
I am a lr e a d y on a p lan e
306
t h a t would mean in sta n ta n e o u s d ea th t o any one o f you . •
Only a few
y e a r s l a t e r , in E xp erien ces F acin g D eath, Mary A u s t in 's c h i e f concern w a s,
n o t w h ether she sh ou ld be im m ortal or n o t , b u t on how h ig h a p la n e ; and
she b e lie v e d th a t th e e x te n t and i n t e n s i t y o f o n e 's s p i r i t u a l a s p ir a t io n
in t h i s l i f e determ ined th e p la n e on which th e in m o rta l b e in g sh o u ld be
s e t " a d r if t in th e tim e stream ."
Furtherm ore, in 1927 and 1928, t h e ad ver­
t i s i n g pages o f t h e New York World w ere f u l l o f a c o n tr o v e r sy w hich raged
betw een t h e Mother Church o f B oston and th e Parent Church o f W ashington,
th e l a t t e r em phasizing Mrs. E ddy's pronouncements on im m o r ta lity .93
From
s c a tt e r e d s e c t io n s o f th e c o u n tr y th e r e came a t about th e same tim e r e p o r ts
by M rs. Eddy's d i s c i p l e s t h a t M rs. Eddy was l i v i n g a g a in , reb o rn , on t h i s
e a r t h .94
There i s l i t t l e doubt t h a t Mary A u stin was k e e n ly aware o f t h e s e
f a c t s , s in c e in two in s t a n c e s , s h o r t ly a f t e r c o n tr o v e r s y w it h in t h e C h r is tia n
S c ie n c e o r g a n iz a tio n , she is s u e d a book d e a lin g w ith th e same q u e s t io n .
The p o in t t o be s t r e s s e d i s , n o t M rs. A u s t in 's news s e n s e , but her deep
i n t e r e s t i n a fundam ental o f C h r is tia n S c ie n c e t e a c h in g , th e id e a o f th e
v i c t o r y o f s p i r i t u a l i t y over m a tte r .
In th e l a s t th r e e o f M rs. A u s tin 's books on t h e su b je c t o f m y stic ism ,
some o f Mrs. Eddy's id e a s a p p e a r .
t r u s t i n g s p i r i t u a li s m .
The tw o a g r e e on t h e i r reason s f o r d i s ­
" S p ir itis m c o n sig n s th e s o - c a l le d dead t o a s t a t e
resem b lin g t h a t o f b lig h te d b u d s, — t o a w retch ed p u r g a to r y , where th e
92 ^ i d »» P* 4 9 2 .
93
G ilb e r t S e l d e s , The Stammering C en tu ry, p . 3 8 7 .
94 I b id .
T -i
• ,
307
chances o f t h e d ep arted f o r improvement narrow in t o n o th in g . . . , «95
Mrs. Eddy w r o te .
W ith M rs. A u stin i t was a f e a r o f b e in g an " a tten u a ted
s p i r i t , " "a g ib b e r in g gh ost" ; i f s p ir it u a lis m proved " s u r v iv a l," i t o ffe r e d
o n ly a s u r v iv a l unbecoming th e d i g n i t y o f a human s o u l.
Both h e ld th e
moment o f death t o be a g r e a t c r i s i s , and t h a t o n e’ s c o n d itio n in th e realm
o f t h e im m ortal was l a r g e l y a m atter o f t h e p la n e o f s p i r i t u a l i t y a o h ie v e d
in t h i s l i f e . 96
i t i s no wonder t h a t Mary A u stin thou gh t Mrs. Eddy an
i n a r t i c u la t e fum bler a t th e g a te s o f t h e i n f i n i t e ; th e phenomenon o f th e
d i s c i p l e d isa v o w in g t h e m aster and c o n tin u in g h i s t e a c h in g i s n o t a new
one; M rs. Eddy had done th e same t h in g h e r s e l f in th e c a s e o f her m a ste r ,
Quimby.
Hew Thought and C h r is tia n S c ie n c e , how ever, do n o t f ig u r e q u it e so
p rom in en tly in Mary A u s t in 's m y stic is m from t h e tim e o f Everyman' s G en iu s.
In t h e ' t w e n t ie s , Dr.
C o u .e
and th e p sy c h o a n a ly sts had come upon th e Amer­
ic a n s c e n e , and a lm o st im m ed iately Mary A u stin squared h er b e l i e f s w ith
some o f th e new f in d in g s .
Of Freud she was alw ays s k e p t ic a l , h o ld in g t h a t
th e overem phasis upon t h e se x u a l b a s i s o f human p sy ch o lo g y was an unAmerican and u n -C h r is tia n and u n c h iv a lr ic in t e r p r e t a t io n .
I t was C a rl Jung
who caught h er fa n cy most c o m p le te ly , f o r J u n g 's th e o r y o f "archetypes" was
d e f i n i t e l y a most p rom isin g commendation o f h er t h e o r ie s o f i n t u i t i o n .
In ­
d eed , a m ost im portant id e a in Everyman's Genius and in E x p erien ces F acin g
D eath i s th e id e a t h a t an in d i v id u a l' s s u b c o n s c io u s n e ss , h is " g e n iu s," t o
u se M rs. A u s t in 's term , i s a r e p o s it o r y o f a l l th e r a c e ' s e x p e r ie n c e ; and
95
Mary Baker Eddy, S c ie n c e and H e a lth , p . 7 7 , 1 1 . 2 8 -3 1 .
S o ien o e and H e a lth , p . 75, 1 . 25 t o p . 7 6 , 1 .5 .
308
•when i t can be c a ll e d i n t o u s e , t h i s "genius" knows a l l , p a s t and f u tu r e ,
i s in d ir e c t to u ch w ith wakonda or cosm ic c o n s c io u s n e s s , and can t h e r e ­
f o r e perform an y m arvel o f h e a lin g , remembering, or even f o r e c a s t i n g .
Jung, o f c o u r s e , s t r i c t l y lim it e d th e elem ent o f h e a lin g , and e n t i r e l y
o m itte d th e e le m en t o f f o r e c a s t in g ; t h e s e elem en ts a r e but p r o j e c t io n s
o f M rs. A u s t in ’ s e a r l i e r id e a s o f th e Pow ers.
But u n le s s Mrs. A u s t in 's
id e a o f "genius" i s but a r e fu r b is h e d v e r s io n o f th e u n ten a b le Lamarckian
th e o r y o f " in h e r ita n c e o f a c q u ir ed c h a r a c te r s ," t h e r e i s p r a c t i c a l l y no
o th er sou rce f o r i t than i n J u n g 's th e o r y o f " a r c h e ty p e s."
These a r e m a tters t h a t le a d th e l i t e r a r y c r i t i c beyond h i s d e p th .
Modern academ ic s o c i a l p s y c h o lo g is t s c l a s s i f y Jungian a r c h e ty p e s w ith
p r e p o ten t r e f l e x e s ( A llp o r t ) , i n s t i n c t s (M acD ougall), Freudian m echanism s,
and A d le r ia n o rg a n ic d e f i c i e n c i e s a s u n te n a b le and u n s c i e n t i f i c g u e sse s t o
e x p la in th e m o tiv a tio n o f human b e h a v io r , a l l p o s it e d upon an alogou s hypo­
t h e t i c a l b i o l o g i c a l m echanism s.
"In h is C o lle c t e d Papers on A n a ly t ic a l
P sy ch o lo g y ( 1 9 1 7 ), C. G. Jung has put f o r t h th e c la im t h a t th e s o c i a l ex­
p e r ie n c e s o f e a r l i e r human b e in g s a r e b i o l o g i c a l l y in h e r it e d by t h e i r
p r e s e n t-d a y d escen d en ts ^ s i o ^ .
S u f f ic e i t h ere t o sa y t h a t t h e b i o l o g i s t s
o f t h i s day do n o t g e n e r a lly h old t o t h i s Lamarckian v ie w o f i n h e r it a n c e ." ^
Horace M. K a llen i s s l i g h t l y more t o le r a n t tow ards t h e Jungian a r c h e ty p e s .
E x p la in in g Jung’ s " a n a ly t ic a l p sy c h o lo g y ," K a llen w r it e s :
The u n c o n sc io u s i s t o c o n s c io u s n e s s t h e background w ith o u t
w hich t h e l a t t e r can be n e ith e r d is t in g u is h e d n or d e f in e d , th e
r e s e r v o ir o f a n c e s t r a l memories whose c o n te n ts are g e n e r a l,
t im e le s s p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f in d iv id u a l and r a c i a l e x p e r ie n c e , r e -
97
R. T. La P ie re and P. R. Farnsw orth, S o c i a l P sy ch o lo g y (Hew York
and London, 1 9 3 6 ), p . 5 1 , n . 20.
309
la te d t o t h e c o u rse o f th e su n , t h e r o t a t i o n o f th e e a r th , th e
rhythm o f t h e c o n s t e l l a t i o n s and t h e g o a l o f th e i n s t i n c t i v e
d r i v e s . T his c o n te n t p o s s e s s e s forms w h ich m y stic s oontem plate
and t o which sc h iz o p h r e n ic s tu r n inw ard. They are g o d s, s a v io r s ,
demons, a n im a ls, embodied in t h e myths o f t h e race and appearing
in th e dreams and f a n t a s ie s o f th e i n d iv id u a l. They are a r c h e ty p e s
and im ages; c o l l e c t i v e images w hich e n te r in d iv id u a l e x p e r ie n c e .
T h eir t o t a l i t y Jung c a l l s "the c o l l e c t i v e c o n s c io u s n e s s * " 98
The "genius" o f Everyman’ s G enius, and th e " r a c ia l memories" o f E x p erien ces
F acin g D eath, from exam ination o f w hich M rs. A u stin hoped t o fin d p r o o f
o f h er chances o f im m o r ta lity , come from Jung, d i r e c t l y or i n d i r e c t l y .
99
A nother th e o r y o f Jung*s, t h a t "developm ent c o n s i s t s i n a con tin u ou s
w id en in g o f th e l i b i d o ’ s range through c r i t i c a l p o in ts o f s tr u g g le by
th e o ld a g a in s t th e n e w ," - ^ i s e x p lo it e d , a g a in w ith o u t m ention o f i t s
s o u r c e , by Mary A u stin in an a r t i c l e , "Growing Up and Growing O n,"^01
a lth o u g h she may have r e c e iv e d th e id e a i n d i r e c t l y by way o f Vfelter L ippmann’ s A P refa ce t o M orals.
Jung’ s th e o r y o f " c o ll e c t i v e c o n sc io u sn e ss"
she made u se o f in an unp u b lish ed work t o be e n t i t l e d e i t h e r The Shape o f
th e Future or The Shape o f Things t o Come, ^ ^ a s o c i a l p s y c h o lo g ic a l prog­
n o s is o f t h e developm ent o f a h ig h s t a t e o f " c o ll e c t i v e c o n sc io u sn e ss"
t h a t would n o t have th e e v i l s o f p r e s e n t-d a y m ob-m indedness.
In d eed , her
Horace M. K a llen , " P sy c h o a n a ly sis," E n cyclop ed ia o f th e S o c i a l
S c ie n c e s , e d it e d by E. R. A. Seligm an and A lv in Johnson, XI I , 5 8 0 -5 8 8 .
“°Among th e a c t u a l books Mrs. A u stin may have seen a r e : C. G.
Jung, C o lle c t e d Papers on A n a ly t ic a l P sy c h o lo g y (London, 1 917); C. G.
Jung, P sy ch o lo g y o f th e U n co n scio u s, t r . by H in k le (Hew York, 1 9 1 6 ); A . A.
B r i l l , P sy c h o -A n a ly sis (Hew York, 1922); E r n e st Jon es, Papers on P sych oA n a ly sis' "(Hew York, 1 9 2 3 ).
K a lle n , l o c . c i t .
Mary A u s t in , "The B e st Twenty Y ears:
S u rv ey , LX (1 9 2 8 ), 9 -1 1 e t s e q .
102
M exico.
Growing Up and Growing On,"
The uncom pleted MS i s i n Mrs. A u s t in 's lib r a r y i n Santa F e , Hew
310
id e a s about t h e " flo c k mind" e x p r e sse d in The F lo c k a s e a r ly a s 1906, seem
a lm o st an a n t ic i p a t io n o f Ju n g's th o u g h t, and accou n t fo r her eager r e c e p ­
t iv e n e s s t o th e id e a s o f Jung.
S in c e J u n g 's "archetypes" are so r e a d ily c l a s s i f i a b l e w it h M acD ougall's
i n s t i n c t t h e o r ie s and o th e r m y s t ic a l approaches t o p sy c h o lo g y , i t i s n o t
s u r p r is in g t h a t Mary A u s t in 's th ou gh t c l o s e l y p a r a l l e l s M acD ougall's and
W undt's.
Her p e c u lia r n o tio n t h a t th e tr u e p a tte r n o f s o c i a l o r g a n iz a tio n ,
t h e unblem ished mode o f r e l i g i o n , s o c i a l custom , economic o r g a n iz a tio n ,
and a e s t h e t ic s was t o be found somewhere in th e com plex o f Amerind l i f e —
t h a t n o tio n goes back t o t h e more or l e s s outmoded V o lk e r p sy o h o lo g ie o f
Wundt.
One s u s p e c ts th a t Mary A u stin d id n o t go t o Wundt d irectly*® ® but
to o k up th e " fo lk psychology" from r a th e r rom antic-m inded a n th r o p o lo g is ts
o f th e l a t e n in e te e n th c e n tu r y .
One would n a t u r a lly look in th e works o f
Morgan, Lummis, and B a n d e lie r fo r t h i s in f lu e n c e , w h ere, i f i t e x i s t s a t
A l l , i t i s o n ly i m p l i c i t and n o t e x p l i c i t .
’W hatever t h e co u rse by which
Wundt's id e a s came t o h e r , Wundt i s t h e u ltim a te so u r c e; and th e f o l k p sy c h o lo g y gave her a b a s is f o r presum ing t o make e v e r y f a c e t o f Amerind
l i f e a trem endously e n lig h t e n in g source o f in fo r m a tio n upon modem man.
As w ith Jung’ s a r c h e ty p e s , W ilhelm ’W undt's V o lk e r p sy o h o lo g ie i s
now p r a c t i c a l l y tab oo among academ ic p s y c h o l o g is t s , an i n t e r e s t i n g by­
c u r r en t t h a t has n o t c o n tr ib u te d g r e a t l y t o th e developm ent o f s o c i a l p sy ­
chology.*® ^
Stemming from M oritz Lazarus (1824-1 9 0 3 ) and Hermann S t e in -
103
She m entions Wundt a lo n g w ith M acDougall, one t im e , in a n o te
in The Am erican Rhythm, on th e s u b j e c t o f t h e i n h e r i t a b i l i t y o f th e c a p a c ity
fo r rhythm ic c o o r d in a tio n . She d o es n o t g iv e t h e t i t l e o f th e work w hich
she draws upon.
*®^ F . B. K arpf, American S o c ia l P sy c h o lo g y : I t s O r ig in s , D evelop­
m ent, and European Background (Hew York and London, 1 9 3 2 ), pp. 5 0 -5 1 .
311
t h a l (1 8 2 3 -1 8 9 9 ), -who were H e g e lia n s , Wundt's t h e o r ie s in c o rp o ra te d th e
H eg e lia n id ea o f "group minds" and " fo lk s o u ls ."
Wundt (1832-1 9 2 1 ) was an
e x c e l l e n t la b o r a to r y man and p o s i t i v i s t , but he h e ld "that th e fundam ental
form o f human a s s o c i a t io n h i s t o r i c a l l y was t h a t o f th e f o lk community or
group and t h a t a l l o th e r forms o f a s s o c i a t io n have d evelop ed out o f t h i s
prim ary form a c c o rd in g t o a u n iv e r s a l s e r i e s o f s t a g e s , a s c e r t a in a b le from
a c u l t u r e - h i s t o r i c a l stu d y o f th e o b j e c t iv e p roducts o f th e f o lk m in d ."105
To Wundt, h a l f o f th e p s y c h o lo g is t 's d u ty was th e stu d y o f in d iv id u a l r e ­
a c t io n s in t h e la b o r a to r y ; t h e oth er h a l f was th e stu d y o f th e developm ent
o f t h e h ig h er m en tal p r o c e s s e s o f man th rough su ch s o c i a l p rod u cts a s
la n g u a g e, m yth, and custom .
Wundt b e lie v e d t h a t v a r io u s s t i l l - e x i s t i n g
p r im itiv e c u ltu r e s o ffe r e d t h e s o c i a l p rod u cts in a " r e la t iv e l y permanent
s t a t e in t h e i r v a r io u s s t a g e s o f develop m ent," and he thou gh t i t p o s s ib le
"to t r a c e t h e p ro g ress o f m ental e v o lu tio n in t h e s e products o f p sy c h ic
l i f e much more e a s i l y th an in th e t r a n s i e n t s t a t e s o f th e in d iv id u a l con­
s c io u s n e s s ." ^ ®
U a t u r a lly , 7/undt's t h e o r ie s gave g r e a t im petus t o f o lk lo r e and
a n th r o p o lo g ic a l stu d y ; and i t was u n d ou b ted ly from some ■hm erican t h e o r i s t
or a n th r o p o lo g is t fo llo w in g Wundt th a t Mary A u stin to o k up th e id e a o f
f in d in g in Amerind t r i b a l l i f e th e u n s p o ile d and fundam ental and psycho­
l o g i c a l l y proper human p a t t e r n s .
That she g e n e r a liz e d to o e a s i l y and on
i n s u f f i c i e n t e v id e n c e and o b s e r v a tio n ; t h a t she had none o f th e p r o f e s s io n a l
a n t h r o p o lo g is t 's or f o l k l o r i s t ’ s te c h n iq u e s f o r r ig i d com parative s tu d y ~
105 I b i d . , p . 4 9 .
I b id ., p . 54.
312
t h e s e f& cts were no d e t e r r e n t t o h e r .
Her g ro p in g in Everyman1s Genius
and i n E x p erien ces F acin g Death fo r f o lk j u s t i f i c a t i o n o f her f a i t h in
i n t u i t i o n , her f a i t h in im m o r ta lity , h er f a i t h in a l l th e Jungian "images"
i s hut th e r e s u l t o f t h e in flu e n c e o f Wundt upon an am ateur a n t h r o p o lo g is t .
Wundt's b e l i e f i n a " fo lk sou l" and a "group mind" gave her le a v e t o p r e d ic t
t h a t th e American environm ent would soon produce an American "group con­
s c io u s n e s s ," s in c e in th e In d ia n s ’ dance drama and p o e t ic o r g ie s i t had
once done s o .
A t l e a s t one o th e r in flu e n c e perhaps e n te r e d in t o Mary A u s tin 's
m y stic ism , t h e in f lu e n c e o f High M il le r , th e S c o t t i s h m a s o n -g e o lo g is t.
Mrs. A u stin t e s t i f i e s t o h i s e a r ly in flu e n c e upon h e r .
107
From The Old Red
Sandstone (1 8 4 1 , but fr e q u e n tly r e p r in te d in A m erica) and from F o o t-P r in ts
o f t h e C reator (1 8 4 9 ), th e young g i r l o f C a r l i n v i l l e , I l l i n o i s , in her
r e v o l t a g a in s t th e s t r i c t n e s s o f M ethodism, c o u ld have im bibed a p o w e r fu lly
p o e t ic " n a tu ra l th e o lo g y " t o ta k e t h e p la c e o f her l o s t M eth od ist f a i t h .
For M ille r g iv e s th e c o n v ic t io n t h a t Mature i s God's handiw ork, t h a t Na­
t u r e ' s u n fo ld in g i s G od's p la n , t h a t th e C reator had man and man's n eed s
in mind from th e v e r y b eg in n in g o f c r e a t io n — fundam ental n o tio n s which
d id much t o make th e d isen ch a n te d and s t r i c t l y n o n t e le o l o g ic a l view s o f
la t e r n a tu r a l s c i e n t i s t s seem alw ays c o ld and a l i e n t o Mary A u s tin .
Her
con cep t o f Mind r e a c h in g back through a l l tim e t o th e womb o f b ein g un­
d ou b ted ly owes som ething t o Hugh M i l l e r ' s unabashed t e l e o l o g y .
M il le r , r e ­
l a t i n g A g a s s iz 's d is c o v e r y o f how th e salm on, i n i t s f o e t a l s t a g e , has i t s
E arth H orizon , pp. 1 0 4 -1 0 5 . C f. a l s o C onstance Rourke,"The
U n fold in g E arth," New R e p u b lic , LXXIII (1 9 3 2 ), 166.
313
t a i l tw is te d t o one s id e a s th e salm on1s a n c e s to r had had r e g u la r ly in
a d u lth o o d , e x c la im s :
th e se , ~
"Is t h e r e n o th in g w on derful in a n a lo g ie s such a s
a n a lo g ie s t h a t p o in t through t h e embryos o f t h e p r e se n t tim e t o
t h e womb o f N atu re, b ig w ith i t s m u ltitu d in o u s forms o f being?"
108
— and
t h i s in s p i t e o f t h e f a c t t h a t M ille r was d e f i n i t e l y an ti-L am arckian and
a b e lie v e r in a s e r i e s o f s p e c ia l c r e a t io n s .
Mary A u stin had t o a l t e r much
o f what she lea rn ed from Hugh M il le r , f o r he was a s t r i c t P r e s b y te r ia n and
a b e lie v e r in th e C h r is tia n r e v e l a t i o n .
What remained w ith her was M il le r ' s
s e n se o f th e b ea u ty and th e p a tte r n e d u n fo ld in g o f c r e a t io n w h ich so d e f i ­
n i t e l y prom ised im m o r ta lity t o man.
Mary A u s t in 's m y stic is m , th e n , was compounded o f C h r is tia n S c ie n c e ,
New Thought, Jungian p sy c h o lo g y , and t h e t e l e o l b g i c a l view s o f Hugh M ille r *
A l l o f t h e s e i n f l u e n c e s , ex cep t t h a t o f Jung, w ere p r e se n t b e fo r e 1900, and
a l l r e c e iv e d commendation, Mrs. A u stin f e l t , from W illiam James' t o le r a n c e
tow ards a l l m a n ife s ta tio n s o f r e l i g i o u s s e e k in g .
When she compounded a l l
t h e s e in flu e n c e s in t o what she th o u g h t was an A m erin d -in sp ired f a i t h in
wakonda she had th e commendation o f " fo lk -p s y c h o lo g y ."
And i f h er thou gh t
smacks a t tim e s o f mesmerism, s p ir it u a lis m , and t h e o r ie s o f p s y c h ic a l ra ­
d i a t i o n , she was but f o llo w in g th e fa s h io n o f th e con fu sed c e n tu r y she was
b o m in to .
As r a d ic a l i n t e l l e c t u a l , a s refo rm er, a s m y s t ic , she was a
n a tu r a l product o f t h e th w arted U top ian ism , e v a n g e lic a lis m , and tr a n s c e n d e n ta l­
ism o f th e n in e te e n th c e n tu r y ; in h er trem endous h ig h s e r io u s n e s s , in her
la r g e m a g n ifice n c e o f p e r s o n a lit y , in her lo v e o f th e p r o p h e tic mode o f
u t te r a n c e , she was d e f i n i t e l y a n in e te e n th -c e n tu r y American woman.
108
Hugh M ille r , The Old Red S a n d sto n e, Everyman's L ib rary e d it io n
(New York and London, no d a t e ) , p . 235.
314
U n learned, u n s c i e n t i f i c , sh e sought t o make new c u r r en ts o f p s y c h o lo g ic a l
th o u g h t f i t h er p r e p o s s e s s io n s .
In a c e r t a in s e n s e , t h e r e i s som ething
m a g n ific e n t ab ou t her a u d a c ity in g e n e r a liz in g , th e b o ld n e ss w ith which
she assum es u n d ersta n d in g o f new s c i e n t i f i c or p s e u d o - s c i e n t if ic t h e o r i e s .
Mary A u s t in 's m y stic ism w as, o f c o u r s e , n o t e n t i r e l y out o f s te p
w ith c e r t a in l i t e r a r y t e n d e n c ie s o f t h e tim e s when h er r e l i g i o u s books
ap p eared .
C h r is t in I t a l y (1912) and fo u r stories-*-99 which dabb le in th e
o c c u lt appeared a t ab ou t th e tim e when a wave o f m y sticism i s ob serv a b le
i n American
l it e r a t u r e g e n e r a lly .
V /illiam Vaughn Moody's "Good F riday
N ight" (1901) showed th e a e s t h e t i c a p p ea l o f r e l i g i o u s f a it h and r e l i g i o u s
tr a d itio n .
Moody’ s p la y The F a ith he a l e r (1909) was a kind o f s u b t le de­
fe n s e o f e v e r y m y s t ic a l n o tio n "the stammering centu ry" had t r a i l e d a f t e r
i n i t s p a t h e t ic a ttem p t t o keep s c ie n c e from dehum anizing th e u n iv e r s e .
"The r e l i g i o u s e o s ta s y o f C a th o lic ism " -*-*® was ex p ressed by T heodosia Gar­
r is o n and Anna Hempstead Branch i n 1909 and 1910, a n o te w hich Mary A u stin
had p ick ed up in h er s t o r y "Mamichee."
Ind eed , t h i s upsurge o f m y sticism
was in p art a r e a c t io n a g a in s t t h e n o te o f p r o t e s t and s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m in
t h e work o f t h e muckrakers and o th e r r e a l i s t s .
I t i s not f a n c if u l t o see
i n Mary A u s t in 's w avering betw een C h r is t a s a " s p i r i t u a l g en iu s" and C h r is t
a s a s o c i a l refo rm er, som ething o f th e g rea t problem o f th e e r a :
was C h r is-
109 Mary A u s t in , "Mamichee,'1 C a th o lic World, XCI ( 1 9 1 0 ), 183-197;
"A N ight A d ven tu re," C a th o lic World, XCH (1 9 1 0 ), 157-168; "The C hristm as
F id d le ," C en tu ry, LXXXI ( 1 9 1 0 ), 2 3 9 -2 4 7 ; "The m i t e C ockatoo," C entury,
LXXXIII ( 1 9 1 2 ), 5 4 9 -5 6 0 . The t h ir d s t o r y e x p la in s th e " m ir a c le . 11 These
fo u r s t o r i e s and "The S o u ls o f S t i t t , " H a rp er's, CXLII (1 9 2 0 ), 7 1 -7 4 ,
w hich a l s o t r e a t s an o c c u lt phenomenon, c o n s t i t u t e a l l o f M rs. A u s t in 's
sto r y _ p r o d u ctio n a f t e r L o st Borders (1 9 0 9 ), e x c e p t One Smoke S t o r i e s .
**9 Oscar C a r g i l l , The S o c ia l R e v o lt:
1888 t o 1914 (New York, 1933J, p . 1 6 .
American L ite r a tu r e from
315
t i a n i t y a m atter o f pure and d etach ed s p i r i t u a l i t y , or should C h r is tia n s
d escen d i n t o t h e w orld and f i g h t co r ru p tio n ?
And i f c o r r u p tio n was a s
th orou gh a s t h e muckrakers seemed t o prove i t w a s, no wonder many so u ls
r e tr e a te d .
A lthough M rs. A u stin would n o t have lik e d th e l i t e r a l s p i r i t u ­
a lis m in B e la s c o ’ s The R eturn o f P e te r Grimm ( 1 9 1 0 ), t h e r e i s l i t t l e doubt
t h a t h er i n t e r e s t in m y stic ism was s tim u la te d by t h e same g e n e r a l fo r c e s
t h a t made B e la s c o 's s u c c e s s p o s s ib le .
L ik e w ise , some y e a r s l a t e r , when
" P a tien ce Yforth" made a s e n s a t io n , Mary A u stin was on hand t o deny th e
e x p la n a tio n o f M rs. Curran and t o cla im t h e phenomenon o f " s p i r i t w r itin g "
f o r Mary A u s t in ’ s l e s s s p i r i t u a l i s t i c th e o r y o f s u b c o n s c io u s n e s s .m
If
The Man Jesu s (1915) d id n o t c a p i t a l i z e upon any sudden popular i n t e r e s t
in l i v e s o f J e s u s , c e r t a i n l y i t s r e is s u e in 1925 a s A Sm all Town Man d id
c a p i t a l i z e upon th e s u c c e s s o f th e work o f P a p in i and o t h e r s . A n d y6t
Mary A u stin i s n o t t o be e x p la in e d in term s o f l i t e r a r y c u r r e n ts a lo n e .
Her m y stic ism was sh ap ed , prob ab ly by 1900, out o f e s s e n t i a l l y n o n lit e r a r y
s o u r c e s ; and i t n ev er r e a l l y changed i t s fundam ental t e n e t s , a lth o u g h i t
d id t r y t o bend some new d is c o v e r ie s t o i t s u s e s .
A pter 1900, a t any sudden
m a n if e s ta t io n o f i n t e r e s t in g en era l r e l i g i o u s problem s or in m y stic ism ,
she c o u ld p o in t h e r f in g e r and s a y , "I t o l d you s o . "
Mary A u s tin , "Automatism i n W r itin g ," U npartizan R eview , XIV
( 1 9 2 0 ), 3 3 6 -3 4 7 . The w hole stra n g e s t o r y o f " P a tien ce Worth" and' th e
g u l l i b i l i t y o f some l i t e r a r y c r i t i c s can be tr a c e d o u t in D ia l, LXV (1 9 1 8 ),
24; M ation, CV ( 1 9 1 7 ), 2 23-224; O utlook, CXVI (1 9 1 7 ), 552; Bookman, XLVI
( 1 9 1 7 ), 3 5 0 -3 5 1 ; W. P . P r in c e , The Case o f P a tie n c e ’Worth (B o sto n , 1 9 2 7 ).
s t u a r t P . Sherman found her A Sm all Town Man "far more i l l u ­
m in a tin g , c o n s is t e n t and p e r s u a s iv e th an t h e work o f S ign or P a p in i." —
Mew York T rib u n e, A p r il 12, 1925.
CHAPTER IX
NATURE WRITING
The n a tu r a l h i s t o r y e s s a y i s one o f th e im portant minor l i t e r a r y
gen res.
As fa r as American
l i t e r a t u r e i s concern ed , th e typ e may be sa id
t o have begun w ith W illiam B ertram 's T r a v e ls (1 7 9 1 ), w hich combined Lin­
n a eu s' s c i e n t i f i c i n t e r e s t in n a tu r e w ith th e p h ilo so p h ic i n t e r e s t o f
R ousseau.
" It i s th e b e g in n in g i n American l i t e r a t u r e o f th e a s s o c i a t i o n
o f t h e ' f e e l i n g f o r n a tu r e ' w ith r e l i g i o u s f a i t h . " !
The s c i e n t i f i c ardor
end th e l i t e r a r y s k i l l and i n c l i n a t i o n s o f th e great n a t u r a l i s t s , Audubon,
Yifilson, B onaparte, H u t t a l l, Gray, and A g a s s iz gave s t i l l fu r th e r im petus
to th e ty p e .
’With Em erson's e s s a y "Nature" (1836) and th e fo u n d in g o f th e
T ra n scen d en ta l S o c ie t y in t h e same y e a r , t h e n a tu r a l h i s t o r y e s s a y was
g iv e n i t s b i l l o f r ig h t s and d u t ie s ; a f t e r th a t d a t e , a Thoreau, a John
Burroughs, or a John M uir, a lth o u g h p o s s e s s e d o f a c c u r a te , s c i e n t i f i c
know ledge, cou ld su b o rd in a te knowledge t o en th u sia sm , rhapsody, and m oral­
i s t i c t e a c h in g .
T ran scen d en talism em phasized th e bond betw een n a tu re and
man, "the o c c u lt r e l a t i o n betw een man and v e g e ta b le " t h a t i s th e " g r e a te s t
d e lig h t t h a t th e f i e l d s and woods m i n i s t e r . A n d y e t Emerson, l i k e C o le ­
r id g e , was a s u b j e c t i v i s t ; th e American T r a n s c e n d e n ta lis t i n s i s t e d t h a t
n atu re a lo n e had no power t o produce d e l i g h t , and t h a t man's d e l ig h t in
^ P . M. H ic k s, The Development o f t h e N atu ral H is to r y E ssay in Americ a n L ite r a tu r e (P h ila d e lp h ia , 1 9 2 4 ), p . 2 4 .
Ralph 'Waldo Emerson, "N ature," C hapter I I .
317
n a tu re was th e r e s u lt o f h i s s o u l 's harmony.
In oth er w ords, n atu re "being
th e symbol or language o f s p i r i t , man would und erstand n a tu re o n ly when man
was s p i r i t u a l l y sound and awake t o t h e in flu e n c e o f t h e i n f i n i t e .
Trans­
c e n d e n ta lism made n a tu re t h e tem ple in w hich e n t h u s ia s t ic and i d e a l i s t i c
s o u ls could w o rsh ip .
Yihat i s more im p o rta n t, T ran scen d en talism made i t
p o s s ib le f o r t h e en raptured d e v o tee o f n a t u r e 's s p i r i t u a l i t y t o tak e pre­
cedence over th e mere o b se r v er s and r e c o r d e r s o f n a tu r a l f a c t s .
I t turned
men p o s s e s s in g v a s t powers o f o b se r v a tio n in t o r a p t p rose p o e t s , m ainly
b ecau se o f Em erson's dictum t h a t th e t r u e aim o f s c ie n c e was t o fin d a
th e o r y o f n a tu r e , th e n a t u r a l i s t u s in g th e inward e y e and w orking ever
tow ards th e p e r c e p tio n o f th e i n t e l l e c t u a l and m oral tr u th s in h e r e n t in
t h e u n iv e r se and in u n corru p ted n a tu r e .
P . Si. Hicks lias deduced from Em erson's e s s a y "Nature" tw e lv e c a r d in a l
p o in t s o f g rea t subsequent in f lu e n c e .
Among t h e s e a r e :
1.
5.
The r e j e c t i o n o f t r a d i t i o n a l a u t h o r it y in th e sea rch f o r t r u th ; • . .
The n e c e s s i t y o f p o e t ic in s ig h t (th e inward e y e ) t o a r e a l appre­
c i a t i o n o f n a tu r e ;
6 . The r e c o g n it io n o f th e f a c t t h a t a l l n a tu re i s b e a u t i f u l , a t a l l
hours and se a so n s;
7 . That a p p r e c ia tio n o f n atu re r e s t s upon man's harmony w ith th e
v i s i b l e w orld; . . •
12 . Sian's p la c e , in Em erson's I d e a lis m , i s a s th e head and h e a r t o f
th e w orld ; t h e w orld i s th e p r o j e c t io n o f God in th e u n c o n sc io u s.
Freed from man's w i l l , n atu re rem ains a f i x e d p o in t whereby man
can measure h i s d e g e n e r a tio n .3
Thoreau, in v e te r a te o b se r v er and j o u m a l- k e e p e r , aware o f h i s p r e d e c e sso r s
o f a s c i e n t i f i c b e n t, C a to , A r i s t o t l e , L in naeus, B u ffo n , Humboldt, Chateau­
b r ia n d , Yiialton, and G ilb e r t , would have f lo u r is h e d w ith o u t Emerson.
N ever­
t h e l e s s , on most o f t h e c a r d in a l p o in ts j u s t enum erated, Thoreau out-Em ersoned Emerson.
T ran scen d en talism was th e q u ick en in g in flu e n c e t o w hich we
® H ic k s , o p . c i t . , p . 6 7 .
318
owe "the emergence o f t h e n a tu r a l h i s t o r y e s s a y a s a d e f i n i t e and c o n sc io u s
l i t e r a r y form , w ith a l i n e o f d e sc e n t unbroken t o th e p r e se n t d ay. . . .
Thoreau added t h e elem en t o f form and i s th e founder o f th e ty p e a s we know
i t to d a y . • . .
E ight p ie c e s o f Thoreau*s p u b lish e d from 1842 t o 1863
and c o ll e c t e d i n E x c u r sio n s, r e p r e se n t th e typ e in i t s p u r it y .
I f , a s H icks
h o ld s , a " r e v e r e n t ia l p a s s io n f o r p r im itiv e nature"^ i s th e r e a l p e r so n a l
c o n tr ib u tio n o f Thoreau t o t h e t y p e , th e n i t may j u s t l y be s a id t h a t t h i s
i s th e ir r e d u c ib le s in e qua non o f th e n a tu r a l h i s t o r y e s s a y , s in c e Thoreau
p e r fe c te d th e ty p e a s i t i s known to d a y .
I t s a f f i l i a t i o n w ith Transcenden­
t a li s m , w ith R ousseau, Yibrdsworth, and S h a fte sb u r y , and w ith th e e ig h te e n t h c e n tu ry rom antic d o c tr in e o f n a tu r a l g e n iu s , i s a l s o e s t a b lis h e d .
T horeau's g rea t d i s c i p l e s are John Burroughs and John M uir.
Burroughs'
in te n t n e s s o f o b s e r v a tio n o f d o m estica ted n atu re makes him l e s s a fo llo w e r
o f Thoreau th an i s John M uir, th e r h a p s o d ic a l lo v e r o f w ild n a tu r e .
m s ste e p e d in Thoreau.
Muir
Henry F a i r f i e l d Osborn r e co r d s t h a t C a r ly le , Emer­
s o n , and Thoreau were M u ir's f a v o r it e a u th o r s, and t h a t in h is a t t it u d e
toward n a tu r e , a s w e ll as in h i s s p e c ia l g i f t s and a b i l i t i e s , Muir was th e
p e r f e c t d i s c i p l e o f Thoreau.
£
Y.hen Mary Hunter a r r iv e d in C a lifo r n ia in 1888, she had a lr e a d y read
e x t e n s iv e ly in Emerson and Thoreau and was a lr e a d y som ething o f a n a tu r a l­
is t.
B efore 1888, th e vogue o f John Muir had begun w ith h i s s e r i e s o f te n
“ I b id . , p . 81.
5 I b id . , p . 93.
lig h t.
2 9 -3 2 .
6 M u ir's lo v e o f Thoreau s e t Osborn r e a d in g Thoreau w ith renewed de­
See Henry F. Osborn, "John M uir," S ie r r a Club B u ll e t i n , X (1 9 1 6 ),
i
319
n a tu r a l e s s a y s , 1878 t o 1882, in Century and S c rib n er ' a .
•7
I f Mary Hunter
d id n o t s e e th e s e e s sa y s in p e r io d ic a l form she co u ld have seen them la t e r
in hook form in 1894 or a fte r v /a r d s , d u r in g a v e r y fo rm a tiv e p e r io d i n her
■writing c a r e e r , th e p erio d o f her i s o l a t e d d e s e r t y e a r s .
In 1889 or 1890,
s h o r t ly a f t e r her a r r iv a l in C a lif o r n ia , t h e r e appeared P ic tu r e sq u e C a li­
f o rn ia , e d ite d by John Muir and c o n ta in in g seven c h a p te rs by h im .8
Another
Muir s e r i e s in th e A t l a n t i c , 1897 t o 1901, c o ll e c t e d in book form in 1901,
9
came in good tim e t o in flu e n c e d e e p ly Mary A u s tin 's The Land o f L i t t l e Rain
( 1 9 0 3 ), th e book in w hich she found her f a v o r it e v e in .
A resu rgen ce o f
Muir p u b lic a tio n s b egin n in g in 1909 and c o n tin u in g t o h is d eath in 1914
prob ab ly gave im petus t o M rs. A u s t in 's C a l i f o r n i a ;
( 1 9 1 4 ).
The Land o f th e Sun
A l l e x te r n a l e v id e n c e p o in ts t o th e f a c t t h a t a t ab ou t th e p e r io d s
o f M uir's g r e a t e s t p o p u la r ity , Mary A u stin t r i e d h er hand a t n a tu re w r i t i n g .
I t has a lr e a d y been shown th a t Hugh M i l l e r ' s Old Red S an d ston e, th e
f i r s t book Mary A u stin bought w ith her own money, was an ep o ch a l book in
h er l i f e . ^
I t ta u g h t h er how t o o b s e r v e , how t o r e c o n c ile God and e v o lu ­
t i o n , how t o s e e in n atu re a v a s t , p u r p o se fu l u n fo ld in g .
I t gave h e r , in
s h o r t , a p r e d is p o s it io n tow ards John M u ir's deep s e n s e o f God in n a tu r e .
7
These e s s a y s were c o l l e c t e d m John M uir, The M ountains o f C a li­
f o r n ia (Hew York, 1 8 9 4 ). For com plete b ib lio g r a p h ic a l d e t a i l s see Jen n ie
E. Doran, "A B ib lio g ra p h y o f John M uir," S ie r r a Club B u ll e t i n , X (1 9 1 6 ),
4 1 -5 4 .
8
See Doran, l o c . c i t . The work i s dated 1888, but r e fe r e n c e s in
’T. F. Bade, The L ife and L e tte r s o f John Muir (3 o s t on and Hew York, 1 9 2 4 ),
show t h a t th e book a c t u a l l y appeared in 1889 or 1 8 9 0 . See e s p e c i a l l y Bade,
op. c i t . , I I , 218.
® John M uir, Our n a t io n a l Parks (B oston and Hew York, 1 9 0 1 ),
Doran, l o c . c i t .
See
Mary A u s tin , E arth H orizon (B oston and Hew York, 1 9 3 2 ), p . 10 4 .
320
In d eed , Hugh H il le r m s p rob ab ly a g rea t in flu e n c e upon M u i r , s o t h a t
Mary A u stin f e l t th e a p p eal o f M il le r ' s sim p le t e l e o lo g y i n d i r e c t l y through
Muir a s w e l l a s d i r e c t l y f o r h e r s e l f .
C h arles R ob ertson, her b io lo g y te a c h e r
in Blackburn C o lle g e , had s e t her upon th e p ath o f o b se r v in g n a tu r a l adapta­
tio n .
Her husband, a s R e g is tr a r o f th e U n ite d S ta te s land O ffic e in Inyo
C ounty, m s som ething o f a b o t a n is t ; her f i e l d t r i p s w ith him gave h er op­
p o r tu n ity t o stu d y t h e f l o r a and fauna o f th e d e s e r t and t h e S ie r r a h e ig h t s .
Shoshone and P a iu te I n d ia n s , whom sh e observed a t f i r s t hand in th e Owens
V a lle y s e c t io n fo r some f i f t e e n or s ix t e e n y e a r s (1891 t o 1 9 0 5 ), r e v e a le d
t h e i r f a i t h in s p i r i t s t o go a lo n g w ith her Emersonian f a i t h i n S p i r i t .
E rn est Thompson S eto n liv e d a t B a k e r s f ie ld , C a lif o r n ia , where Mary A u s t in 's
mother had l iv e d j S eto n began w r itin g h is anim al s t o r i e s t h e r e .
Out o f
t h i s str a n g e compound o f Hugh M il le r , M uir, Thoreau (by m y o f M uir, i f n o t
d i r e c t l y ) , Emerson, am ateur b o t a n iz in g , o b se r v a tio n o f I n d ia n s , and th e
example o f S e to n , grew Mary A u s t in 's n atu re w r i t i n g .
That many o f th e
so u r c e s o f her n atu re w r it in g are th e same a s th o s e o f h er m y sticism i s n o t
s u r p r is in g , s in c e , by d e f i n i t i o n , so t o sp e a k , t h e n a tu r a l h is t o r y e s s a y
weaves in an a u th o r 's d e e p e s t r e l i g i o u s c o n v ic t io n s .
C f. '.Yilliam E. C o lb y , "John Muir — P r e sid e n t o f th e S ie r r a
C lub," S ie r r a Club B u l l e t i n , X ( 1 9 1 6 ), 2 - 7 . C olby r e f e r s t o John E. L e s te r ,
The Y osem ite (1873) [ a paper read b e fo r e t h e Rhode I s la n d H is t o r ic a l
S o c ie t y in 1872J , from w hich C olby q u o tes th e fo llo w in g : "'There i s and
has been fo r two y e a r s p a s t , l i v i n g i n th e V a lle y [Y osem ite] , a gentlem an
o f S c o t t i s h p a r e n ta g e, by name John M uir, who, Hugh M ille r l i k e , i s stu d y in g
t h e rocks i n and around th e V a lle y . . . . '" — C olby, l o c . c i t . , p p . 3 - 4 .
{Emphasis s u p p lie d ^ • The p assage quoted from L ester goes on t o t e l l o f
M uir's stu d y o f g l a c i a t io n and t o p r e d ic t h i s form ing a c o r r e c t th e o r y o f
th e g l a c i a l n atu re o f S ie r r a v a l l e y s . The same passage from L e ster i s
quoted by >V. F . Bade, The L ife and L e tte r s o f John M uir, I , 360.
321
Mary A u s t in 's n a tu re w r it in g i s found i n The land o f L i t t l e Rain
( 1 9 0 3 ), The F lock (1 9 0 6 ), C a l i f o r n i a ;
Land o f th e Sun ( 1 9 1 4 ), The T r a il
Book ( 1 9 1 8 ), F ir e ( a p la y ) (p u b lish e d 1 9 1 4 ), and The Land o f J o u rn ey's
Ending ( 1 9 2 4 ) .
In th e f i r s t th r e e works h ere m en tion ed , Mrs. A u stin f o l ­
low s l a r g e l y in th e f o o t s t e p s o f Muir and th e n a tu r a l e s s a y t r a d i t i o n , a l ­
though some extran eou s p r iv a te t h e o r ie s in tr u d e .
C a lifo r n ia :
Land o f th e
Sun i s a tu r n in g p o in t, s in c e in i t , a lth o u g h M rs. A u stin w r it e s some o f
h er b e s t n a tu r e d e s c r ip t io n , her th e o r y o f n a tu r a l a d a p ta tio n o f human c u l ­
tu r e t o p h y s ic a l environm ent alm ost ta k e s th e upper hand.
The T r a il Book
and F ir e are alm ost o u ts id e th e p a le because o f t h e in tr u s io n o f Mrs. Aus­
t i n ’ s m y s t ic a l t h e o r i e s , p a r t ic u la r ly her th e o r y o f man's r a c i a l memory.
T h is o b s e s s io n c a r r ie s on in t o The land o f J o u r n e y 's E nding, but t h a t book
i s redeemed by i t s abundance o f good n a tu r a l d e s c r ip t io n , M rs. A u s tin 's
en th u sia sm fo r th e Southw est g iv in g t h i s m a te r ia l th e fr e s h n e s s o f approach
and th e r h a p s o d ic a l q u a l i t y o f her e a r l i e s t n a tu re w r it in g .
Some f i f t e e n y e a r s o f in tim a cy w ith th e d e s e r t e a s t o f tfre S ie r r a s
went in t o Mary A u s t in 's f i r s t book, The Land o f L i t t l e R a in .
fo r b id d in g la n d ,
I t i s a w e ir d ,
but she se e k s t o do f o r i t what Muir had done f o r th e
p le a s a n te r and l e s s fo r b id d in g h ig h la n d s , t h a t i s , t o r e v e a l , in t h e fa s h io n
o f n a t u r i s t s , t h a t no p a rt o f n atu re la c k s i t s b e a u ty or i t s power t o inform
t h e s p i r i t u a l l y p e r c e p tiv e .
"East away from th e S ie r r a s , so u th from Pana-
m in t and Amargosa, e a s t and so u th many an uncounted m ile , i s th e C ountry
12
o f Lost B ord ers," she b e g in s , in somewhat th e d ith yram b ic s t y l e o f her
12
p. 3*
Mary A u s t in , The Land o f L i t t l e R ain (B o sto n and Hew Y ork, 1 9 0 3 ) ,
322
m a ste r , M uir, and e c h o in g d e f i n i t e l y M uir’ s lo r e o f sonorous proper
n a m e s.it
i s n o t a la n d e a s i l y known.
‘’The e a r th i s no wanton t o
g iv e up a l l her h e s t t o e v e r y com er, but k eeps a sw e e t, s e p a r a te in tim a c y
f o r e a c h ." -^
I t i s n o t a k in d ly land} men can n ever r e la x or f e e l e n t i r e l y
a t t h e ir e a se in i t .
P r o p e r ly equipped i t i s p o s s ib le t o go s a f e l y a c r o s s th a t
g h a s t ly s in k , y e t e v e r y y ea r i t ta k e s i t s t o l l o f d e a th , and
y e t men f in d th e r e s u n -d r ie d mummies, o f whom no t r a c e or r e c o l ­
l e c t i o n i s p r e s e r v e d . To u n d erestim a te o n e 's t h i r s t , t o p a ss a
g iv e n landmark t o t h e r ig h t or l e f b , t o f in d a dry s p r in g where
one looked f o r running w ater — th e r e i s no h e lp f o r any o f t h e s e
th in g s
The g e o g r a p h ic a l and b o t a n ic a l background i s s e t , t h e w a t e r - t r a i l s
d e s c r ib e d , t h e h a b its o f buzsards r e la t e d ; t h e sc en e i s broadened t o ta k e
in th e gorges le a d in g on up t o t h e mountain h e i g h t s , th e f o r e s t s , t h e ra re
p la n ts t h e r e .
To t h e mountain canyons or g o r g e s she g iv e s th e same name
t h a t Muir had g iv en in The M ountains o f C a l i f o r n i a , " s t r e e t s o f t h e moun­
t a in s ." - ^
A few p eo p le a r e in tr o d u c e d , th e "basket woman," and an o ld
p r o sp e c to r or "pocket h u n te r ," both o f whom f i t th e p ic tu r e e x a c t l y .
F i n a l ly , two com m unities are; d e s c r ib e d , " J im v ille — A B ret Harte Town,"
w ith i t s e le m e n ta l, raw c r u d e n e s s, and "The L i t t l e Town o f th e Grape V in e s ,"
S p a n ish , rem ote, q u i e t , sim p le , and in i t s w ay, v e r y much c i v i l i z e d .
Jim -
C f. e s p e c i a l l y "Y ellow stone N a tio n a l Park" in M uir’ s Our N a tio n a l
Parks (B oston and New York, 1 9 0 1 ), p . 6 5 .
A u s tin , Land o f L i t t l e R a in , p . v i i i .
15 I b id *> P- 9 *
M rs. A u s t in ’ s chapter "The S t r e e t s o f th e M ountains" eoh oes a
s e n te n c e from alm ost t h e opening page o f John M uir, The M ountains o f C a lifo r n ia
(New York, 1 8 9 4 ), p . 6 : " . . . t h e y [c a n y o n sj s t i l l make d e l i g h t f u l pathways
. . . a kin d o f m ountain s t r e e t s f u l l o f charming l i f e and l i g h t . • . ."
323
v i l l e i s n o t c r ie d down f o r i t s cru d en ess and E l Pueblo de l a s Uvas p layed
up fo r i t s q u a in tn e s s .
a n a tu r a l s i t u a t i o n ,
J im v ille has e v o lv e d t o o , i s a n a t u r a l resp o n se t o
Mary A u s t in 's im a g in a tio n p la y s over J i m v i ll e , t o s s e s
a s id e t h e Bret H arte "savor o f la w le s s n e s s " and rom antic tr a p p in g s thrown
about i t by w r i t e r s , and fin d s i t s e p ic q u a l i t y .
A long w ith k i l l i n g and dru n k en n ess, c o v e tin g o f women, c l a r i t y ,
s i m p l i c i t y , t h e r e i s a c e r t a in i n d i f f e r e n c e , b la n k n e s s , em p tin ess
i f you w i l l , o f a l l v a p o r in g s , no b u b b lin g o f t h e p o t , — i t wants
t h e German t o c o in a word f o r t h a t , — no b r e a d -en v y , no b r o th e r f e r v o r . . . . I t i s pure Greek i n t h a t i t r e p r e s e n ts th e courage
t o sh e e r £ s ic j o f f what i s n o t w o r th w h ile . . . . Here you have th e
r e p o se o f th e p e r f e c t l y a c c e p te d i n s t i n c t w hich in c lu d e s p a ssio n
and d eath in i t s p e r q u i s i t e s . I suppose t h a t t h e end o f a l l our
hammering and yaw ping w i l l be som ething l i k e t h e p o in t o f v ie w o f
J i m v i l l e ." 17
The same in t e n t io n i s d is p la y e d toward th e " l i t t l e town o f th e grape
v in e s" — t o g e t a t i t s m eaning.
The meaning i s t h a t l i f e i s n a t u r a lly r e ­
l i g i o u s , and where i t i s s o , a s in t h i s tow n, t h e r e a r e "the open hand, th e
f i n e r c o u r te s y .'1-*-8
and sym bolism .
p la in r e l i g i o n .
But n a tu r a l r e l i g i o n i s n o t a r e l i g i o n barren o f p o e tr y
"I am persuaded o n ly a complex s o u l can g e t any good o f a
Your e a r th -b o r n i s a p oet and a s y m b o l i s t T h e r e f o l ­
lows a p o o r ly v e il e d ja b a t M ethodism and l i k e c r e e d s , w hich "are c h i e f l y
r e s t r i c t i o n s a g a in s t o th e r p e o p le 's way o f l i f e , " r e v e a lin g a b ia s w h ich
Mrs. A u stin was l a t e r t o e la b o r a t e , which B ret Harte had a lr e a d y v o ic e d ,
and w h ich John Muir had f e l t . ® 9
Mary A u s t in 's i n t e r e s t i n p e o p le , t h e i r
•*-7 A u s tin , The Land o f L i t t l e R ain, pp. 1 2 1 -1 2 2 .
18 I b i d . , p . 2 3 0 .
19
20
P* 279*
For i n s t a n c e , Harte *s "A Widow o f Santa Ana V a lley " ( in Under th e
Redwoods) m a lic io u s ly but d e f t l y p o r tra y s th e s u s p ic io u s d o u m ess o f A nglo
v i l l a g e r s a t a d a n c e . M uir, p io u s and g e n t e e l and k in d , was n e v e r th e le s s
l i k e many o f h i s t im e . H is p io u s f a t h e r 's S c o tch Presbyfcerianism ir k e d
him a s much a s M ethodism seems t o have cramped Mary A u s t in . S e e , f o r exam ple,
t h e i r o n i c a l p assage from M u ir's jo u r n a ls q uoted in W. F . Bade, op. c i t . ,
I , 166.
324
T i l l a g e s , t h e i r cu sto m s, i s in d eed about t h e o n ly elem en t in The Land o f
L i t t l e B ain w hich i s n o t r e m in isc e n t o f M uir,
That s o l i t a r y went t o th e
m ountains so th a t he and God c o u ld be a lo n e j Mrs, A u stin found, even from
th e b e g in n in g , in t h e d e s e r t and th e m o u n ta in s, h in t s o f what she th ou gh t
a p r o p e r ly a d ju s te d human s o c i a l l i f e ought t o b e .
Mary A u stin had n o t M u ir's e x a c t and p a in s ta k in g d e t a i l , nor T horeau's
rem arkable c o n c r e te n e s s ; but f o r sh eer power o f rhapsody, she perhaps needs
bow t o n e i t h e r .
The shape o f a new mountain i s ro u g h ly p yram id al, running
out in t o lon g sh a r k -fin n e d r id g e s t h a t in t e r f e r e and merge in t o
o th e r t h u n d e r - s p lit t e d s i e r r a s . You g e t th e sa w -to o th e f f e c t
from a d is t a n c e , but th e n e a r -b y g r a n ite b u lk g l i t t e r s w ith th e
t e r r i b l e keen p o l i s h o f o ld g l a c i a l a g e s . I sa y t e r r i b l e ; so
i t seem s. When th o s e g l o s s y domes swim in t o t h e a lp e n g lo w , w et
a f t e r r a in , you c o n c e iv e how lon g and im perturbable are th e pur­
p o s e s o f God.2 1
Muir un d ou b ted ly ta u g h t h er t o see b e a u ty in th e a lp e n g lo w and in th e p o l­
ish e d g l a c i a l s u r f a c e s .
phenomena.
His w r it in g s a r e f u l l o f r e f e r e n c e s t o t h o s e two
M uir's lo v e o f storm s was t r a d i t i o n a l ; even H elen Hunt Jackson
wanted t o l i v e th rou gh a mountain storm in a t r e e - t o p a s Muir had
d o n e .
22
But how ever trem endous her d eb t t o M uir, M rs. A u stin i s n o t e ch o in g h i s
words; sh e has caught th e s p i r i t o f h is r e l i g i o n :
Weather does n o t happen. I t i s th e v i s i b l e m a n ife s ta tio n
o f t h e S p i r i t moving i t s e l f in th e v o i d . I t g a th e r s i t s e l f
t o g e t h e r under th e h ea v en s; r a in s , sn ow s, yearn s m ig h t ily in
w in d , s m ile s . . . . H ardly anybody t a k e s a cco u n t o f th e f a c t
t h a t John M uir, who knows more o f m ountain storm s th an any
21
A u s tin , The Land o f L i t t l e R ain , p . 186.
22 See M u ir's "A Wind Storm in th e F o rest" in The M ountains o f C a li­
f o r n ia . T his had been p u b lish e d i n S c r ib n e r ' s a s "Wind Storm in th e - F o rests
o f t h e Yuba" in 1878. (See Doran, op. c i t . , p . 4 3 .) Mrs. J a c k so n 's l e t t e r
t o M uir, e x p r e s s in g her str a n g e d e s i r e , i s quoted in Bade, op. c i t . , I I ,
1 9 7 -1 9 8 .
325
o th e r , i s a devout man.
23
That w ild n atu re i s r e d o le n t o f th e s p i r i t o f God; t h a t n atu re h e a l s , t h a t
n a tu re has a wisdom o f her own; t h a t m inute o b se r v a tio n o f n a tu re le a d s
fr e q u e n tly t o tr a n sc e n d e n ta l ra p tu re — a l l t h e s e n o te s o f th e n a t u r a l h i s ­
t o r y e s s a y Mary A u stin c a tc h e s and h o ld s w ith a fir m g r a sp .
The e lem en ts
w hich put some s e c t i o n s o f The Land o f L i t t l e Rain o u ts id e th e t r a d i t i o n o f
th e n a tu r a l h is t o r y e s s a y are tw o :
( l ) M rs. A u stin la c k s th e n a t u r a l i s t s ’ s
p a s s io n fo r d e t a i l , and (2 ) she g la n c e s fr e q u e n tly a t t h e p a tte r n s o f hu­
man c u ltu r e in s te a d o f lo o k in g o n ly a t w ild n a tu r e .
t i v e l y unim portant c o n s id e r a t io n s .
shows power and o r i g i n a l i t y in i t s
But th o s e a r e compara­
As a w h o le , The Land o f L i t t l e Rain
" r e v e r e n t ia l p a ssio n fo r w ild n a tu r e ."
And her d e s e r t i s more w ild , i f by w ild i s meant nonhuman or fo r b id d in g ,
th an T horeau’ s woods or M uir's m ou n tain s,
Mary A u stin to o k T ra n scen d en ta l­
ism t o t h e d e s e r t , showing th e r e b y more s e l f - r e l i a n c e th a n Emerson h im s e lf
perhaps would have been w i l l i n g t o u n d e r t a k e .^
The F lo ck (1906) was perhaps even more a la b o r o f lo v e th a n The
Land o f L i t t l e R ain .
More th a n tw e n ty y e a r s l a t e r , a f t e r Mary A u stin had
become th e o r a c le o f Santa F e , proud o f h er fame, and absorbed i n Spanish
and Indian f o l k a r t s , she s t i l l f e l t t h a t The F lo c k was her b e s t work.
23
25
A u s t in , The Land o f L i t t l e R ain , p . 247.
^ Emerson, f o r in s t a n c e , th ou gh t Muir was w a s tin g h is tim e in t h e
W est, and a f t e r h is v i s i t t o Muir in t h e S ie r r a s i n 1871, Emerson p lead ed
w ith him t o come back E a s t . See l e t t e r o f Emerson t o M uir, February 5 , 1872,
in Bade, op. c i t . , I , 2 5 9 -2 6 0 .
P erso n a l in fo r m a tio n from Mr. C. E. F a r is o f th e U n ited S t a t e s
In d ian S e r v ic e . In Earth H orizon , Mrs. A u stin does n o t s i n g l e ou t The F lo c k ,
but she does op in e th a t h er n a tu r e w r it in g g e n e r a lly w i l l l a s t t h e lo n g e s t
o f a l l her w r i t i n g .
326
In to i t went y e a r s o f p r e p a r a tio n .
are prom inent.
In h er e a r ly s t o r i e s , th e same sc en es
Even in The Land o f L i t t l e R ain , which purp orts t o be o f
t h e d e s e r t , she seem s e q u a lly a t home in t h e few c h a p te r s d evoted t o th e
S ie r r a h ig h la n d s .
S h e e p -r a is in g in C a lif o r n ia r e c e iv e d much a t t e n t io n in th e years
p r e c ed in g The F lo c k .
In th e summer o f 1869, John Muir made h is second
t r i p in t o th e S ie r r a s a lo n g a sheep t r a i l j he was employed by a Mr. D elaney
t o shepherd th e shepherd; he had p r e v io u s ly had b r i e f e x p e r ie n c e o f sh eep h erd in g under a Mr. John C o n n e ll, "Smoky Jack."^®
Almost a t o n c e , Muir saw
t h a t , from th e sta n d p o in t o f a n a t u r i s t , s h e e p -r a is in g a s i t was conducted
in C a lifo r n ia was a tremendous a b u se .
The f r o n t i s p ie c e o f h is The M ountains
o f C a lif o r n ia (1894) p ic tu r e s a herd o f sheep w ith th e c a p tio n "Hoofed L o c u s t s .”
In a l e t t e r o f January, 1902, Muir r e f e r s Dr. C. H. Merriam t o f i l e s o f
"The F o r e s te r ," 1898 and 1900, "for solem n d is c u s s io n s o f th e 'proper regu ­
l a t i o n 1 o f sheep g r a z in g ."2?
In d e e d , M uir's v a l ia n t e f f o r t s in th e con­
s e r v a tio n movement were m o tiv a ted la r g e ly by what he saw t h e sheep d o in g
t o h is b e lo v e d mountain meadows; h i s work had borne some f r u i t by 1890,
when Y osem ite was made a n a t io n a l park , and he con tin u ed a g i t a t io n t o
th e end o f h i s l i f e .
He r e j o ic e d i n 1890 when government tr o o p s f i r s t
drove herds o f f th e r e s t r i c t e d a r e a s in th e S i e r r a s .
The problem i s one
t h a t rem ains even t o t h i s day.
See Bade, op. c i t . , I , 190-200; a l s o John M uir, My F ir s t Summer
i n th e S ie r r a (B oston and New York, 1 9 1 1 ). M rs. A u s t in , o f c o u r s e , had
n o t se e n t h i s a cco u n t w r it t e n by Muir h im s e lf o f h i s e x p e r ie n c e s w ith
sh eep ; but a t l e a s t a s e a r ly a s 1 8 94, M uir's h o s t i l i t y t o th e "hoofed
locufefcs must have been known a l l over C a lif o r n ia .
327
More d e f i n i t e l y l i t e r a r y i n t e r e s t in sheep and sh eep -h erd in g i s
harder t o t r a c e .
Thomas Hardy’ s G ab riel Oak in Far from th e Madding
Crowd comes t o m ind.
P a r ts o f W. E. Hudson’ s A Sheph erd's L i f e , Imp r e s ­
s io n s o f th e South W ilt s h ir e Downs had appeared in Longman' s M agazine as
e a r ly a s 1902, a lth o u g h th e la r g e r p art o f th e book was w r it t e n in 1909;
but t h e book i s la r g e ly i n c id e n t , n o t n a t u r a l d e s c r ip t io n .
A lthough
C h arles D. S te w a r t's The F u g it iv e B lacksm ith (1905) c o n ta in s an e p iso d e
in w hich the b la c k sm ith tu r n s sh eep h erd er, th e trea tm en t i s l a r g e ly humor­
o u s, w ith l i t t l e n a tu r a l d e s c r ip t io n or a p p r e c ia t io n .
C lo ser t o M rs. Aus-
t i n ' s lo c a le were H elen Hunt J a ck so n 's Ramona and Frank N o r r is 's The
O ctopus; in t h e l a t t e r , Vanamee i s a p o e t ic and m y s t ic a l sh ep h erd .
More
im portant t o Mary A u s tin , a p p a r e n tly , th an any s p e c i f i c l i t e r a r y source
was th e g en era l i n t e r e s t o f a l l C a lif o r n ia n s , during th e ' n i n e t i e s and th e
f i r s t decade o f th e t w e n tie th c e n tu r y , in l o c a l h is t o r y and in th e b a t t l e s
over th e advancing demand f o r c o n s e r v a tio n .
S h e e p -r a is in g was an a l l -
im portant economic a c t i v i t y in C a lifo r n ia from about 1870 t o 1880 or lo n g e r ;
in 1889 Muir showed Robert Underwood Johnson some denuded m ountain meadows
t h a t in 1869 had been f r e s h and u n s p o ile d .
Mary A u stin knew T ejon Ranch
and Lone Pine and th e tow ns o f t h e San Joaquin V a lle y w e ll; she had G eneral
B e a le 's r e m in isc e n c e s e x te n d in g back t o 1860 and her own e x p e r ie n c e s o f
sh eep -h erd ers and sh e a r in g s e x te n d in g up t o 1905.
Whether h er book The
F lo ck caused i t or n o t , t h e r e i s a p e r c e p tib le a lth o u g h s l i g h t i n t e r e s t in
h er s u b je c t m a n ife ste d i n t h e m agazines o f th e t im e ,
28
28 a . Chapman, "Sheep Herders o f th e W est," O utlook, IXXX (1 9 0 5 ),
4 8 1 -4 8 4 ; B. M. Bowen, "The Sheepherder," L iv in g A ge, CCLIV ( 1 9 0 7 ), 237-243;
N. C. Wyeth, "A Sheep -h erd er o f th e S o u th -w e st," S c r ib n e r 's , XLV (1 9 0 9 ),
1 7 -2 1 . Mrs. A u s t in 's p e c u l ia r ly r h a p s o d ic a l approach appears in none o f
t h e s e , how ever.
328
In The F lock th e r e i s , f i r s t , th e h i s t o r y o f sh e e p -g r a z in g in C a li­
f o r n ia ; th e n , an account o f how h a l f o f C a lifo r n ia ta k e s on th e rhythm o f
t h e r e tu r n o f th e f lo c k s from th e p a stu r e s and lo n g t r a i l s in February,
when t h e y are brought doim in t o th e San Joaquin V a lle y fo r th e lam bing s e a ­
son ; th e n , th e s to r y o f t h e ways o f sh e a r in g s and accompanying f e s t i v i t i e s
and o f h i r e l in g sh ep h erd s.
and th e open r a n g e s .
The f lo c k s are fo llo w e d out upon th e long t r a i l s
The p sy ch o lo g y o f t h e f lo c k i s r e la t e d , and how th e
dogs a r e t r a in e d and what t h e y know.
between sheep men and cow men.
in -w a it" are r e c o r d e d .
S t r i f e , s e c r e t and v e n g e f u l, ra g es
The ways o f c o y o t e s , b e a r s, and o th er " l i e r s -
There i s a c h a p te r on "The Sheep and t h e R e se r v e s,"
s e t t i n g fo r th s o a c c u r a te ly th e a b u ses o f th e land and th e f o r e s t s by v o r a ­
c io u s sheep men a f t e r t h e open ran ges became crow ded, t h a t Theodore R o o s e v e lt ,
h avin g read i t , se n t a f o r e s t r y e x p e r t t o se e th e au th or and g e t h er ad vice.^ ®
There i s a c o n c is e h i s t o r y o f a p a r t ic u la r sheep ran ch , Ranchos T ejon , and
f i n a l l y a chap ter on what m ountains and d e s e r t do t o men, how t h e y resh ape
or l i m i t or broaden th e s o o i a l n atu re o f man.
i s n o t t o g iv e in fo r m a tio n .
But t h e purpose o f th e book
I t i s a l y r i c a l r e p o r t.
The F lo c k , how ever, i s n o t a c o l l e c t i o n o f pure n a tu r a l h i s t o r y e s s a y s .
Three elem en ts in tr u d e t o d iv o r c e th e book from t h e c a te g o r y o f Thoreau*s
and M uir's n a tu r a l e s s a y s !
( l ) an i n t e r e s t in anim al p sy ch o lo g y which le a d s
t o a th e o r y o f a u t o - s t o r y t e l l i n g ; (2 ) th e in t r u s io n o f Mary A u s t in 's ch ar­
a c t e r i s t i c th e o r y o f th e r ig h t n e s s o f an au tom atic adjustm ent by man t o h i s
O q
A u s tin , Earth H orizon , p . 289. In "Beyond th e Hudson," Saturday
R eview o f L it e r a t u r e , V II ( 1 9 3 0 ), 4 3 2 , Mrs. A u stin claim ed t h a t The F lo c k
was p r a ise d by a p r o fe s s o r o f p sy c h o lo g y , A u str a lia n and American sh eep men,
and th e P r e s id e n t o f th e U n ited S t a t e s .
329
environm ent; and (3 ) a r o m a n tic iz in g o f human c h a r a c te r s , w hich d e r iv e s
more from th e " lo c a l c o lo r " t r a d it io n th an from t h e n a tu r a l e s s a y .
In d eed ,
th e r e i s more r h a p so d iz in g over th e e p ic grandeur o f th e sh eep h erd er’ s l i f e
th a n over n a tu re a s su ch .
The F lo c k b e tr a y s a deep c o n f l i c t in Mary A u s t in ’ s
t h in k in g w h ich runs through much o f her o th er work; i t i s a c o n f l i c t betw een
h er se n se o f t h e e p ic and u n c o n tr o lle d and u n c o n tr o lla b le grandeur o f human
l i f e in th e Tfest, and her s e n s e o f i t s e s s e n t i a l w a s te fu ln e s s and g r e ed .
As pure n a t u r i s t , she can e lo q u e n tly d e p lo r e t h e den u d ation o f mountain
s lo p e s and p a s t u r e s ; but a s t h e in h e r it o r o f t h e t r a d i t i o n o f l o c a l c o lo r
romance she g l o r i f i e s th e e p ic and b i b l i c a l s tr u g g le s o f sheep men and cow
men, t h e j e a l o u s i e s between sh ep h erd s, t h e u n r e s tr a in e d v ig o r o f th e l i f e
she i s p o r tr a y in g .
As she s a y s , " • • • th e d u st o f th e s h u f f l i n g h o o fs i s
in my eyes."®®
N e v e r t h e le s s , The F lo c k has a p la c e among t h e b e s t o f American n a tu r e
w r it in g in t h a t , a f t e r a l l , d e t a il e d n a t u r a l d e s c r ip t io n r i s e s in t o r h a p s o d ic a l
a p p r e c ia tio n o f n atu re a s th e outward form o f t h e v e r y s p i r i t o f God.
"The
Sun in A r ie s" i s pure i d y l l , th e s t a r s w h ee lin g overhead and th e ewes mut­
t e r i n g a l l n ig h t ; and a lth o u g h th e herd er i s on e a r t h , among some s ic k and
p o iso n e d sheep and a hundred dangers and i l l s , t h i s f a c t does n o t d e tr a c t
from t h e q u a l i t y o f t h e n a tu r e d e s c r ip t io n , whioh a c h ie v e s a p a n t h e is t io
f e e l i n g which i s a s u n tr a n s la ta b le a s p o e tr y i t s e l f .
book " is w r it t e n
As T racy s a y s , th e
l y r i c a l l y and jo y o u s ly " and i s " for th e i n i t i a t e d , t o whom
c o n te n t does n o t g r e a t ly m a tte r , and who k in d le s q u ic k ly t o t h e m agic o f
mood."
31
And a lth o u g h i t can be argued th a t in t h i s "magic o f mood" Mrs.
Mary A u s tin , The F lo ck (B oston and New York, 1 9 0 6 ), p . 5 7 .
H. C. T racy, Am erican N a t u r is t s (New York, 1 9 3 0 ), p . 24 5 .
330
A u stin som etim es f o r g e t s th e s c i e n t i f i c n a t u r a l i s t who, a s w e ll a s t h e
p o e t, must be embraced i n a
th e
beau ty o f
good n a tu r a l e s s a y i s t , th e r e i s no den yin g
th e w r i t i n g . Such
p a ssa g e s a s th e f o llo w in g , w hich a r e
c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , b e tr a y some p o s tu r in g ; t h e y are s e lf - c o n s c i o u s and h ig h ly
mannered; t h e y la c k M uir’ s sim p le ard en cy; t h e y la o k Thoreau's c o n o r e te n e ss
and
e s se n tia l
c r e a t iv e n e s s ; th e y
have a to u c h o f th e o r a t o r ic a l; t h e y do
not
so much c r e a t e an em otion a s r e c o l l e c t i t in t r a n q u i li t y ; but a s long
as rh yth m ical and r h a p so d ic a l p rose i s adm ired, much i s t o be s a id f o r
t h i s w r itin g :
Here I heard a t in t e r v a l s th e f l u t e , sw eet s in g le n o te s a s i f
th e lu c id a i r had dripped in sound. A w hile I heard i t , and betw een
t h e slum berous r o l l o f b e l l s and t h e w h is t li n g w h isp er o f th e p i n e s ,
th e lo n g n o te o f t h e p in e s l i k e f a l l i n g w ater and w ater f a l l i n g l i k e
t h e windy t o n e s o f p in e s ; th en th e w arble o f t h e f l u t e out o f th e
flock-murm ur a s I came over th e back o f th e s l i p where i t h ollow ed
t o l e t in a l i t t l e meadow f r e s h and flo w e r e d . • • .
. . . I am f r a n k ly g la d o f so wide a reach o f h i l l s where m is ts o f
g rey t r a d i t i o n deepen t o romance, where no axe i s la id w an to n ly t o
t h e r o o t o f any t r e e , and no w ild t h in g g iv e s up i t s l i f e e x c e p t
in p e n a lty f o r d e p r e d a tio n . Most g la d I am o f th e b lu e la k e s o f
uncropped lu p in e s , o f th e w ild ta n g le o f th e odorous v i n e s , o f th e
unshorn w atersh ed ; g lad o f c e r t a in c le a r sp a ces w here, when th e
moon i s f u l l and a l i g h t wind r u f f l e s a l l th e l e a v e s , s o f t - s t e p p in g
d eer troop th rough th e t h ic k e t s o f th e t r e e s .
H ere, more th a n anywhere e l s e in Mary A u s t in , i s th e "grand s t y l e , " t o
w hich Ruskin perhaps c o n tr ib u te d .
34
The book a s a w hole i s a f in e l y r i c a l
a ch iev em en t.
32 A u s tin , The F lo c k , p . 106.
I b i d . , pp. 249-2 5 0 .
^ As a c h ild Mary A u stin read R u sk in 's The Seven Lamps o f A rch i­
t e c t u r e , n o t alw ays g e t t i n g th e m eaning but r e v e l in g in t h e grand p e r io d s ,
See E arth H orizon, pp. 1 3 2 -1 3 3 .
331
The r e a c t io n o f Ambrose B ie r c e was perhaps c h a r a c t e r is t ic o f th e
g e n e r a l r e a c t io n .
The F lock was w id e ly review ed and a c c la im e d , a s The
Land o f L i t t l e Bain had b een .
"I have read Mary A u s tin ’ s book w ith un­
ex p e c te d i n t e r e s t ," B ie r c e w r o te .
" It i s p le a s in g e x c e e d in g ly . . . .
th e b e s t o f h er read in g i s her s t y l e .
That i s d e l i c i o u s .
I t has a s l i g h t
'tang* o f arch aism — j u s t enough t o su g g e st 's ir u p s t i n c t w ith cinnam on,'
or t h e 's p ic e and balm* o f M i l l e r ' s se a -w in d s.
v a t io n she has I
N othing e sca p es h e r e y e .
And what a knack a t o b ser­
T e ll me about h e r . . . .
I f she
i s s t i l l young she w i l l do g rea t work; i f n o t — w e l l , she h as done i t in
t h a t book.
But s h e ' l l have t o hammer and hammer a gain and a g a in b e fo r e th e
world w i l l hear and heed."®®
C a lifo r n ia :
q u e st in 1914.
th e Land o f t h e Sun®®was w r it t e n upon p u b lis h e r 's r e ­
Sirs. A u stin was "too e a s i l y persu ad ed ," she f e l t , "to w r it e
about th e l i f e o f outdoors."® ^
She f e l t t h a t sh e had n o t t h e d e t a ile d
knowledge o f a l l o f C a lifo r n ia t h a t she had d is p la y e d in w r it in g o f one
lim it e d s e c t i o n in The Land o f L i t t l e B a in .
VJhen she r e - i s s u e d th e book
how ever, a s Lends o f t h e Sun i n 1 9 2 7 , she f e l t t h a t , s l i g h t a s h er knowledge
m ight b e , she knew more about C a lif o r n ia th a n anyone e l s e s t i l l l i v i n g ; a
35
L e tte r o f Ambrose B ie r ce t o George S t e r l i n g , February 3 , 1906,
L e tte r s o f Ambrose B ie r c e , e d ite d b y Bertha C lark Pope (San F r a n c isc o , 1 9 2 2 ),
p . 114.
®® Mary A u stin and S u tto n Palm er, C a l i f o r n i a : The Land o f t h e Sun
(London, 1 9 1 4 ). I t was one in a s e r i e s o f i l l u s t r a t e d t r a v e l b ook s. Some
cu rren t r e v ie w s q u e stio n e d th e p u b lis h e r 's t a s t e in su b o r d in a tin g t h e t e x t
t o th e i l l u s t r a t i o n s . See e s p e c i a l l y A lgernon T a s s in , "The Magic C arp et,"
Bookman, XLI ( 1 9 1 4 ), 4 3 0 -4 3 2 .
Mary A u s tin , The Lands o f th e Sun (B oston and New York, 1 9 2 7 ),
p . v . T h is was a r e - i s s u e , w ith v e r y s l i g h t ch a n g es, o f C a l i f o r n i a : The
Land o f t h e Sun.
332
r e co r d o f th e n a tu r a l b ea u ty o f C a l i f o r n i a , she w r o te , ought t o be made
b e fo r e a l l memory o f i t -was swamped under "the most im potent — c u l t u r a l ly
and s p i r i t u a l l y im potent — s o c ie t y t h a t has y e t g o t i t s e l f to g e t h e r in
any q u arter o f t h e U nited S t a t e s . "38
A pology f o r w r itin g or r e - i s s u i n g th e book was n o t n e c e s s a r y .
Lands o f th e Sun i s among Mary A u s t in ’ s b e s t work.
The
I t i s d e s c r ip t io n o f
th e land in t h e r a p tu ro u s, s u b t ly in fo r m in g , and p o e t i c a l l y b e a u t if u l s t y l e
o f her b e s t n a t u r e -w r it in g .
I f i t c o v e r s a la r g e r scen e w ith l e s s in tim a cy
and few er d e t a i l s th an are t o be e x p e c te d , i t n e v e r th e le s s i s u n su rp assed
in t h e broad sw eep, th e f e e l o f a whole la n d , & se n se o f i t s s t r u c t u r a l
lin e s .
"I knew t h e n a tu r a l a s p e c ts o f C a lifo r n ia . . .
g e n e r o u s ly , a s one
who must have f e l t th e bones o f a c o u n tr y , i t s s t r u c t u r a l p la n , i t s com­
p e l l i n g co n to u rs • • ."39
The power o f g e n e r a liz a t io n i s ob viou s a s she
s k e tc h e s th e p h y s ic a l p a tte r n o f C a lifo r n ia i n term s o f an In d ia n legend
about how " C a lifo r n ia was made by Padahoon, t h e Sparrow Hawk, and th e
L i t t l e Duck who brooded on th e fa c e o f t h e w a ters in th e B eginning o f T h in g s.
"There you have th e bones o f th e lan d . . .
n e a t ly la id ou t fo r you • • • ;
th e lo n g o v a l, b rea k in g seaw ard, th e h ig h , b i t t e n , westward p e a k s, and th e
Sparrow Hawk's own, t r a i l i n g so u th l i k e th e q u ir k o f an a tte n u a te d Q ." ^
M ountains, c o a s t , r iv e r v a l l e y s , d e s e r t — and a l l b r e a th in g t h e s p i r i t o f
th e e a r ly h i s t o r y , a land w atered by th e b lo o d o f e a r ly S p an ish m a rty r s.
A u s t in , The Lands o f th e Sun ( 1 9 2 7 ), p . v i i i .
fo llo w e d th r o u g h o u t.
39 I b i d . , p . v .
40 I b i d «» P* 3 .
^
I b id ., p . 5 .
T h is e d i t i o n i s
"40
333
There i s m a g n ific e n t p o e t ic power in t h e su rv ey o f "Mothering Mountains"
and "The High S ie r r a s " ; t h e r e i s i n f i n i t e lo v in g d e t a i l i n t h e d e s c r ip t io n
o f "The Sagebrush C ou ntry," and "The Twin V a lle y s " ; h i s t o r y becomes a b e­
queathed aroma in s te a d o f a r e o i t a l o f f a c t s , i n "The P ort o f M onterey,"
"Old S p an ish Gardens," and "The C o a sts o f M onterey."
The n a t u r a l i s t ’ s keen
o b s e r v a tio n i s p r e se n t in c h a p te rs on "The Land o f t h e L i t t l e D ucks," th e
v a s t t u la r e s t h a t border th e tw in r i v e r s , t h e San Joaquin and th e Sacram ento.
D e ta ile d d e s c r ip t io n le a d s Mary A u stin on t o a v i s i o n o f sp le n d o r .
Ho lan d cou ld d i c t a t e , by i t s mere p h y s ic a l e x is t e n c e , th e sp len d o r which
Mary A u stin saw in i t .
Her w r itin g p roves th e j u s t i c e o f C o le r id g e ’ s ob ser­
v a t io n , w hich i s a c a r d in a l p o in t a l s o in Emerson’ s "Nature":
I may n o t hope from outward forms t o w in
The p a s s io n and th e l i f e , whose fo u n ta in s a r e w it h in .
0 Ladyl we r e c e iv e b u t what we g i v e ,
And i n our l i f e a lo n e does N ature l i v e :
•
•
•
Ahl from th e s o u l i t s e l f must i s s u e fo r th
A l i g h t , a g lo r y , a f a i r lum inous clou d
E n velop in g th e e a r th —
. .
.42
Hot t h a t Mary A u stin was unaware o f t h e im m ediate, c o n c r e te d e t a i l .
rhythm o f a f l o c k
o f doves or q u a il
in t h e s id e s o f a g r e a t s n a k e ."43
"The
in m otion i s l i k e t h e r ip p le o f m uscles
"The t r e e s are n o t t h i c k l y s e t h e r e , a s
in t h e n o r th , but adm it o f sunny space and murmurous bee p astu re betw een
t h e i r g r a c e f u lly c o n t r a s t in g b o l e s , and a thousand b r ig h t- f e a t h e r e d and
s c a le d th in g s unknown t o th e a l l - p i n e or a ll-r ed w o o d f o r e s t s . "44
A O
C o le r id g e , " D e je c tio n :
An Ode," 1 1 . 4 5 -4 8 , 5 3 -5 5 .
43 The Lands o f th e Sun, p . 18.
44
I b id ., p . 4 9 .
"The t u l e
334
i s a round, l e a f l e s s re ed .
I t sp rin g s up a lo n g th e t id e la n d s or in th e
sta g n a n t "backwater o f th e r iv e r s or by a n y l e a s t d r ib b le o f a d e s e r t sp rin g .
No c o n d itio n daunts i t but a b s o lu te d e a r th o f w a ter; fa r c a l l e d , i t t r a v e ls
on th e wind over m ountain r a n g e s, over g r e a t w a ste s o f w a t e r le s s p l a in , t o
f in d th e one a b s o lu te c o n d itio n , a pool — white-rim m ed w ith a l k a l i or p o i­
sonous green w it h a r s e n ic .
But always th e d e t a i l s are f i n a l l y lig h t e d
up by th e mind o f t h e a u th o r.
"Sometimes th e mere m echanics o f th e la n d ,
th e p u l l o f t h e wind up th e narrow gorges a s you p a ss th e mouths o f them ,
a d v is e t h e open mind o f power and im m ensity r e s id in g in th e t h i n l y fo r e s te d
b u l k s . " S o m e h o w or o th er a l l our own t r a d i t i o n o f t h e sagebrush co u n try
g a th ers about th a t g a lla n t anim al [th e t u r q u o is e h orse o f Johancu] ; h o rses
and horsem anship, f r e e l i f e , g r e a t sp a c e , l i f t and r e l e a s e .
C olor and sm ell
o f th e sa g eb ru sh , windy l i g h t and c r is p in g s o i l b e n e a th , t h e y sta n d , n o t fo r
th e m s e lv e s , b u t f o r a memorable and p r e c io u s q u a lit y o f e x p e r ie n c e .
One of th e m y s te r ie s o f human n a tu re i s i t s c a p a c it y f o r b e in g
a f f e c t e d in what we c a l l i t s s p i r i t u a l c a p a c it i e s by th e mere a s p e c t
o f t h in g s . A l l t h i s lin e and mass and c o lo r and i n t r i c a t e l o v e l y de­
t a i l [ o f th e S ie r r a s J produces in t h o s e who lo o k upon i t str a n g e r e ­
a c t i o n s , in c ite m e n ts t o a c t i v i t y which we r e c o g n iz e a s th e t h in g t o
be ex p ected o f m ou n tain s. . . . A l l our l it e r a t u r e and our m ythology
i s charged w ith attem p ts t o t r a n s la t e t h i s s in g u la r im p ression o f per­
s o n a l it y in th e w ild , in t r e e s and r iv e r s and r o c k s , and e s p e c i a l l y in
m ountains. In such p e r so n a l a s p e c ts t h e e f f e c t o f t h e High S ie r r a s i s
b e n ig n . High on our h o r iz o n i t broods and h o v e r s , i t covers us w ith
i t s w in g s. I t i s th e mother n o t on ly o f lan d s and -waters; i t i s th e
sou rce o f t h a t h ig h c o n fid e n c e in t h e i r d e s t in y and th e p u r p o se fu l
f r i e n d l in e s s o f th e Powers which c h a r a c te r iz e s th e p e o p le s o f th e Tfest.
4. ^
I b id . , p . 139.
I b id . , p . 4 4 .
47 I b id «* P* 1 9 3 *
48
PP» 213-2 1 4 .
335
I t i s a kin d o f -w riting w h ich ,
by sh e e r fo r c e o f th e a u th o r ’ s c o n c e n tr a tio n
upon and sympathy w ith N atu re,
produces u l t i m a t e l y a p o e t ic se n se o f glam or.
M rs. A u s t in 's n atu re w r i t i n g , how ever, does n o t e x i s t s o l e l y t o
ex p r e ss " r e v e r e n tia l p a s s io n f o r . . .
n a tu r e ."
I t has o th er m eaning.
The
m eaning o f The Lands o f th e Sun i s t h a t , in th e lo n g run, t h e land w i l l
have i t s w ay.
Even Southern C a lif o r n ia , w hich h a s been pawed over l i k e a
b a rg a in cou n ter by s h o r t - s ig h t e d p e o p le , w i l l coma back.
r e -a sse r t i t s e l f .
The land 7 d .ll
" It w i l l o n ly be a f t e r an oth er g e n e r a tio n or two has
f r u it e d in th e rhyming v a l l e y s and a lo n g th e m arching s lo p e s . . • ."^9
"in
two or th r e e g e n e r a tio n s when tow ns have tak en on t h e to n e o f t im e , and th e
courageous w ild has r e e s t a b lis h e d i t s e l f in b y -la n e s and co r n e rs . . .
A lr e a d y th e land has done some o f i t s w ork.
"With t h e i r low and f l a t p itc h e d
r o o fs th e y ^modern houses]] p r e s e n t a c e r t a in lik e n e s s t o th e a b o r ig in a l
d w e llin g s which th e F ra n cisca n s found s c a tt e r e d l i k e w asps' n e s t s among
t h e chapparal a lon g th e r i v e r ,
which i s o n ly an o th er -way o f s a y in g t h a t t h e
s p i r i t of th e land shapes th e a r t t i n t i s produced t h e r e ." ^ T h e book i s a
p rop h ecy, lik e a l l her books on th e o u td o o rs:
Nature i s a g r e a t sy m b o lists what she makes out o f her 0 7 m m ater­
i a l s i s but th e shadow o f what man in any co u n try w i l l f i n a l l y make
o f h i s . San D iego by th e s e a , dreams o f a g r e a t sea empery. Y/hat
by a l l th e s ig n s she i s bound t o p roduce, i s a p o e t . There in th e
s c a r f - c o lo r e d low shore i s th e v o c a l f o r e c a s t o f him in th e n ig h t s in g in g m o ck in g -b ird . . . . He sways and s in g s , d ozes and s i n g s , dream­
in g and wakes t o s in g . So i t sh ou ld be w ith p o e ts w hether anybody wants
them t o or n o t .
"The Lands o f th e Sun expand th e s o u l," sa y s th e p roverb.
49
I b id ., p . v i i i .
I b id . , p. x i i i .
51 I b i d «» P* 3 4 ‘
52 I b i d . , pp. 2 6 -2 7 .
336
B rooding upon t h e la n d , she s e e s i t as th e f a s h io n e r , u lt im a t e ly , o f th e
p a tte r n s o f a r t and c i v i l i z a t i o n .
Emphasis upon t h i s p o in t , which M rs. A u stin e la b o r a te d and d e t a ile d
in an a r t i c l e
53
one year a f t e r C a l i f o r n i a ;
land o f th e Sun, p u ts th e book
alm ost o u ts id e th e c a te g o r y o f th e n a tu r a l h is t o r y e s s a y .
From t h i s p o in t
forward in her work, i t w i l l be seen t h a t she puts her o r ig in a l so u r c e s ,
Muir and Emerson and Thoreau, more and more behind h er and c o n c e n tr a te s
upon t h e id ea o f n a tu r a l a d a p ta tio n o f l i f e and c u lt u r e t o environ m ent.
A nthropology and s o c io lo g y b e g in t o come betw een her and th e T ran scen d en tal
tr a d itio n .
The T r a il Book
I t i s a c o lle c tio n of
fram ework.
54
cannot be d e f i n i t e l y la b e le d as n a tu re w r itin g .
s t o r i e s , o s t e n s i b l y a j u v e n ile book, w ith a clum sy
Mrs. A u s t in 's in t e n t io n was perhaps n o t a b s o lu t e ly c le a r t o
h er; th e s t o r i e s purport t o t r a c e ou t a n c ie n t t r a i l s — t r a i l s determ ined
more or l e s s by t h e n a tu r a l l i e o f th e land and b la z e d by a n im a ls, p re­
h i s t o r i c man, and I n d ia n s ; but many s t o r i e s o b v io u s ly e x i s t fo r th e s to r y
a lo n e and r e l a t e l o o s e l y , i f a t a l l , t o t h e c e n tr a l id e a o f n a tu r a l t r a i l s .
The m a te r ia l o f th e book ranges over many s e c t io n s o f th e c o u n tr y , w ith
some o f w h ich Mrs. A u stin co u ld n o t have been v e r y f a m i li a r .
There i s a
53 Mary A u s tin , f'Art I n flu e n c e in th e W est," C entury, LXXXIX ( A p r il,
1 9 1 5 ), 8 2 9 -8 3 3 , a b r i l l i a n t but c o n fu s in g and in c o n s is t e n t e s s a y , which
b ears some marks o f t h e f a c t t h a t M rs. A u stin was a t th e tim e doing pub­
l i c i t y f o r th e P anam a-P acific E x p o s itio n . See A u s tin , Earth H orizon, p . 3 2 2 .
Mary A u s t i n , The T r a i l Book (B o sto n and hew Y ork, 1 9 1 8 ).
337
s to r y o f a t r a i l t o th e sea from somewhere in th e savannahs o f F lo r id a or
G eorgia, b la z e d by a p r e h is t o r ic youth w ith th e a i d o f a m astodon, th e
s to r y g iv in g , somewhat in th e manner o f H. G. W ells* O u tlin e o f H is to r y , a
f e e l i n g o f t h e a n c ie n tn e s s o f human l i f e and o f th e rap p ort betw een p re­
h i s t o r i c man and some o f th e a n im a ls.
In a n o th er s t o r y , an In d ian boy
w ith th e a id o f a c o y o te b la z e s a t r a i l from th e Country o f Dry Vfeshes
over t h e mountains in t o th e B u ffa lo C ountry.
"How th e Com Came" i s a
f a n c i f u l accou n t o f th e b r in g in g o f se ed s from th e p la te a u s o f lie x ic o t o
th e In d ia n s o f V ir g in ia , T en n essee, and K entucky.
"Jioke-Icha*s Story" o f
th e tr e a c h e r y o f a Koshare in one o f t h e t r i b e s o f C lif f - D w e lle r s has
l i t t l e t o do w ith t r a i l s and le a n s v e r y l a r g e l y upon A d o lf B a n d e lie r 's
The D e lig h t t a k e r s .
Two s t o r i e s d e a l w ith In d ia n s in t h e Great Lakes and
A dirondack s e c t io n s ; two d e a l w ith S p an ish e x p lo r a tio n s in F lo r id a and south­
e a s te r n U n ited S t a t e s ; two w ith th e e x p lo r a t io n o f t h e Spanish S o u th w est,
and one w ith th e Cheyenne I n d ia n s .
In a l l , t h e r e i s a p p a r e n tly a b le n d in g
* o f h i s t o r i c a l f a c t , a u th e n tic Indian le g e n d , and th e a u th o r ’ s u n a d u lte r a te d
fa n c y .
O b v io u sly , Llary A u stin was s tr u g g lin g towards e x p r e s s io n o f a nebu­
lou s but perhaps w orthy id ea — th a t a museum o f n a tu r a l h i s t o r y , i f one
cou ld read th e m a te r ia l in th e c a s e s a r i g h t , m ight lea d modem man t o under­
stand p r im itiv e man and h i s se n se o f th e land — m ight le a d , i n s h o r t , t o
s u b tle s p i r i t u a l p e r c e p tio n s t h a t have been l o s t in s o p h is t ic a t e d s o c i e t y .
Some such book a s The T r a il Book, handled b y a great a r t i s t , might g iv e th e
f e e l i n g o f imm ersion in r a c i a l h i s t o r y , from w hich a read er m ight come up
338
in v ig o r a te d and e n r ic h e d w ith p o w er.55
But even Mary A u stin knew th a t a
c h ild r e n 's hook c o u ld n o t c a r r y so w e ig h ty a th em e.
book o n ly by im p lic a t io n .
The theme i s in t h e
O c c a s io n a lly , t h e r e i s e x p l i c i t statem en t o f
some id e a w hich a d is c e r n in g read er can a t t r i b u t e t o M rs. A u s t in 's d e s ir e
t o f e e l out modem man's lin k w ith th e p a s t — a f a n c i f u l , m y s t ic a l id e a
w ith a g r a in o f h i s t o r i c a l or a n th r o p o lo g ic a l t r u t h , put forward in R ousseaui s t i c f a s h io n , a s b o th a judgment upon modern man and a s a k ey t o new so u rces
o f en th u siasm .
Such perhaps i s her attem p t t o render p r im itiv e man's f e e l i n g o f
k in d sh ip w ith a n im a ls.
"'Once t o e v e r y m an,' s a id an In d ian who lean ed
a g a in s t M ok e-ich a's b o u ld e r , '’when he sh u ts a l l thought o f k i l l i n g out o f
h i s h e a r t and g iv e s h im s e lf t o th e b e a s t a s t o a b r o th e r , knowledge w hich
i s d i f f e r e n t from th e knowledge o f t h e ch ase comes t o both o f th em .'" ^ M a n 's
e a r ly t o t e m is t ic se n se o f k in s h ip w ith a n im als i s h in te d a t in s e v e r a l s t o r i e s .
Another im p lic a t io n w h ich , no d o u b t, M rs. A u s tin would have w ished h er rea d ers
t o tak e t o h eart i s t h a t p r im itiv e man's anim ism was n o t a lt o g e t h e r c r a s s
s u p e r s t it io n or s p i r i t u a l im m atu rity.
One s t o r y t r e a t s w ith g r e a t sympathy
th e s tr u g g le s o f an In d ian lad in th e w ild e r n e s s t o f in d th e V is io n , t o g et
in t o tou ch w ith th e Pow ers.
S t i l l anoth er b i t o f ro m a n tic iz e d p r im itiv is m
was und oubtedly thrown in w ith th e o b je c t o f making c o n v e r ts .
Mary A u s tin ,
l i k e H avelock E l l i s and l i k e R ousseau, was con vinced o f th e spontaneous
55
"There i s an e le m en ta l fo r c e h ere t h a t goes deeper th a n f o llc - t a le
form and myth c o n s tr u c t io n . The a n c ie n t w orld i s f e l t , th e p r im itiv e w orld
o f man and mammoth. . . . The g r ip o f t h e o ld l o s t l i f e i s upon i t . . . .
So i t £"the o ld l o s t l i f e " } m ight have b e e n , th in k s t h e r e a d e r . So i t must
have b e e n , sa y s th e man -w ithin u s — th e man who can d rin k up th e r a c i a l
p a s t , a heady l iq u o r . A l l i s f r o t h t o him who c a n n o t, th e s p o ile d man, th e
o v e r - c i v i l i z e d s p i r i t . . . . I t ta k e s a r o b u st and r e s o lu t e s p i r i t t o draw
t h i s l i f e up i n t o one, make i t v a l i d , oppose i t t o th e p a l l i d t h o u g h t - l i f e
on w hich we a r e s u c k le d . Mary A u stin has i t .
'T r a il Book' n o u r is h e s ." —
H. G. T racy, op . c i t . , pp. 246-2 4 7 .
A u s t i n , The T r a i l B ook, p . 2 2 .
1
!
339
h a p p in ess and a r t i s t i c n atu re o f e a r ly man.
To her m ind, th e dance -was as
n a tu r a l and in e v it a b le a s b r e a th in g , th e r esp o n se o f th e whole n a tu re o f
man t o t h e w hole o f l i f e ; and in t h i s manner she has an e g r e t d e s c r ib e t h e
dances o f b ir d s .
But a l l t h e s e im p lic a tio n s a r e n o t e la b o r a te d ; t h e y come
in q u ite i n c id e n t a l ly and c a s u a l l y .
The r e s t i s h i s t o r y , le g e n d , and s t o r y ~
and d e s c r ip t io n .
D e s c r ip t io n , how ever, in The T r a il Book i s n ot o f t e n s t r i k i n g .
i s n o t e s s e n t i a l l y a d e s c r ip t iv e book.
o f th e S o u th w est.
It
N a t u r a lly , th e b e s t d e s c r ip t io n i s
As th e c o y o te began t o t e l l h is s t o r y o f t h e b u f f a lo
t r a i l , he "stood w ith l i f t e d paw and nose d e l i c a t e l y p o in te d toward th e
B ighorn’ s cou n try a s i t l i f t e d from th e p r a i r i e , drawing th e e a r th a f t e r i t
in g r e a t f o l d s , h ig h c r e s t beyond h ig h c r e s t flu n g a g a in s t th e sun; l i g h t
and c o lo r lik e th e in s id e o f a s h e l l p la y in g in i t s s n o w - f ille d
h o l l o w s . "57
The l a s t phrase i s a c c u r a te d e s c r ip t io n , n o t m erely a p u rp le p a s s a g e , a s
anyone who has seen th e cou n try can t e s t i f y .
The T r a il Book s u f f e r s from b ein g o f no g e n r e .
As a " ju v e n ile " i t
i s to o clum sy in i t s framework, t o o h e a v y -fo o te d in i t s f a n t a s y .
a d u lt , i t f a l l s betw een s to r y and e x p o s it io n .
For t h e
Hr. II. G. Tracy p u ts i t among
Mrs. A u s t in ’ s b e s t work, ran k in g i t w ith K ip lin g ’ s Jungle Books but h o ld in g
i t more " r e le v a n t t o our c u ltu r e w h ich, a s i t r o o ts in American b e g in n in g s ,
ta k e s up som ething o f t h e l o c a l e a r t h , o f th e in d ig en o u s l i f e and fee lin g ." ® ®
To t h i s r e a d e r , i t i s a to u r de f o r c e , t o o f a n c i f u l f o r good n atu re w r it in g ,
t o o e a r n e s t ly m o r a lis t ic fo r good c h ild r e n ’ s s t o r i e s , and to o much burdened
w ith some o f Mrs. A u s t in 's d im ly em erging t h e o r ie s o f p sy ch o lo g y and m y stic is m .
57 i h i d . , p . 50.
58
h.
C. T racy, op. c i t . , p . 247.
340
Mrs. A u s t in 's attem p t t o e x p la in th e b a s is o f In d ian totem ism a s
man's i n t u it e d se n se o f p r e v io u s d e r iv a t io n from , and k in s h ip w ith , anim als
has been m en tion ed .
T his id e a i s a t th e bottom o f her p la y , F i r e , which
was produced a t th e F o r e st T heater in Carmel in t h e summer o f 1912.
perhaps e x p r e ss e s th e s tr a n g e s t o f a l l Mrs. A u s t in 's str a n g e i d e a s .
l i k e O utland,
59
F ir e
It,
owes som ething t o W. H. H udson's Green M ansions, and in i t
and The T r a il Book i s th e germ o f h er l a t e r p sy c h o lo g y , e la b o r a te d in Every­
man's Genius and E xp erien ces F acin g D eath .
T his i s th e id e a o f a " r a c ia l
memory," th e n o tio n th a t t h e in d iv id u a l psyche c o n ta in s a memory o f a l l th e
r a c e ' s p r e v io u s e x p e r ie n c e .
F i r e , d ated 1912, shows t h a t M rs. A u stin had
t h e germ o f t h i s id e a b e fo r e she ever heard o f C arl Ju n g's th e o r y o f "arche­
t y p e s ."
F ir e t r e a t s o f S v in d , t h e f ir e - b r i n g e r , C o y o te, th e b e a s t b r o th e r ,
and L a e la , w ife o f E vind.
Evind i s t o ld by h i s f r ie n d C oyote how t o s e iz e
f i r e from th e m ountains and b r in g i t t o h i s t r i b e .
The t r i b e a c c e p ts th e
g i f t o f f i r e but th en grows angry w ith Evind fo r h i s c o n tin u in g a s s o c ia t io n
w ith a b e a s t .
away.
To p a c if y t h e t r i b e and t o w in L a e la , Evind sends th e Coyote
But now he i s d i s t r e s s e d ; h i s powers and i n s ig h t f a i l .
le a v e L aela and t h e t r i b e and t o f in d th e C oyote.
He w ish e s t o
The C oyote comes back t o
him; t h e y s t e a l t h e Sacred F ir e and u lt i m a t e l y esca p e w ith i t , L aela accom­
p an ying them .
The t r i b e has l o s t w o e f u lly .
E v in d 's c r e a t iv e powers are
r e sto r e d .
O b v io u sly , F i r e , l i k e M rs. A u s tin 's o th e r In d ian p la y , The Arrow
Maker, i s an a l le g o r y o f th e a r t i s t ' s r e la t io n t o s o c i e t y .
59
S ee A u s t i n , E arth H o r iz o n , p . 3 2 1 .
But i n F i r e ,
341
i t i s shown t h a t t h e a r t i s t e s power and h i s c a p a c it y f o r b e n e f it in g s o c i e t y
depend upon h i s i n t u i t i v e f e e l i n g o f k in s h ip w ith th e whole o r g a n ic w o r ld ,
p la n t s and a n im a ls.
Evind s a y s :
Som etim es, L a e la , I have th o u g h t, —
I f I co u ld f in d my b ro th e r b e a s t a g a in
And w it h him f o llo w
The v ie w le s s t r a c k w hich lea d s
The moth o f m oonless n ig h t s t o honeyed h o llo w s ;
To w indy p a stu r e s where th e w ild sheep a r e ;
■Where t h e keen e a g le s w h eelin g h ig h
Seek f o r t h e i r meat a f a r —
I f I co u ld f e e l t h a t rock and t r e e a g a in ,
And e v e r y c r e e p in g t h in g were s i b t o me
I sh ou ld be more u n to my f e l l o w men.®®
In her "Foreword" Mrs. A u stin h o ld s t h a t modem man can g et i n s id e th e
I n d ia n 's m en tal p r o c e s s e s , and th e im p lic a t io n i s t h a t wisdom i s t o be
g a in ed from th e e f f o r t t o do s o .
The p la y , em p h asizin g man’ s k in s h ip w ith
an im als and th e n e c e s s i t y o f h is making an i n t u i t i v e e f f o r t t o f e e l t h a t
k in s h ip so th a t he may be r e a l l y c r e a t iv e —
t h a t i s perhaps th e d e e p e s t
rea ch o f Mary A u s tin ’ s m y sticism ; and i t i s no wonder t h a t in f e e l i n g out
t h i s id e a Mrs. A u stin w rote some o f h er most f e r v id n a tu r a l d e s c r ip t io n .
Evind i s und oubtedly an Amerind v e r s io n o f Prometheus o f leg e n d a ry fam e.
'William Vaugh Moody’ s The F ir e -B r in g e r (1904) i s th e imm ediate so u rce o f
M rs. A u s tin ’ s p la y ; but h er stran ge id e a t h a t E vin d ’ s (P rom etheus') g i f t
i s a d eep , i n t u i t i v e s e n s e o f k in s h ip w ith an im als comes s t r a ig h t from h er
own d ir e c t knowledge and l i t e r a l a cc ep ta n c e o f In d ian l o r e .
60 Mary A u s t in , " F ir e , A Drama in Three A c ts ," The P lay-b ook
(W isconsin Dramatic S o c i e t y ) , I I , N os. 5 , 6 , 7 (O c t ., N o v ., D e c ., 1 9 1 4 ),
pp. 3 - 2 5 , 1 1 -2 6 , and 1 8-30 r e s p e c t i v e l y . The quoted p assage i s from
A ct I I , in The P la y -b o o k , I I (N o v ., 1 9 1 4 ), pp. 1 9 -2 0 .
342
The len d o f Jou rn ey’ s Ending i s a d i f f i c u l t book t o w r it e a b o u t.
Only one who sh a res Mrs. A u s t in 's profound f a i t h i n i n t u i t i o n w i l l f e e l
t h a t H. C. T r a c y 's e c s t a t i c op in io n i s j u s t i f i e d .
Mr. Tracy f e e l s t h a t th e
book e n lig h t e n s a r e a d e r , ta k e s him in t o new realm s o f s e e i n g , makes him
f e e l th e land and i t s n a t iv e moods and i t s a r id v e g e t a t io n , makes him im agine
t h e "manward y earn in gs" o f t h e v e g e t a t io n , makes him share an I n d ia n 's
approach t o n a tu r e .
P r o p e r ly done — a s i t i s done here — t h i s i s n o t a c a p r ic e ,
a fa n c y . I t i s n o t one among many p o s s ib le c h o ic e s . W ith t h e land
d u ly f e l t , and t h e p la n t r i g h t l y s e n s e d , i t becomes th e co m p letio n :
th e i n e v i t a b l e . . . . t h e book . . . ca rv es o u t and g r ip s a new s e g ­
ment o f t h e n atu re e x p e r ie n c e . I t i s a new w h o le n e s s . See how i t
sta n d s a p a r t: — n o t a e s t h e t i c man, m er e ly , a p p r a is in g a w orld from
w hich he has become d etach ed and a g a in s t w hich he sta n d s opposed a s
c r i t i c ; — n o t in d u c tiv e m ind, w ith s c i e n t i f i c p r o ced u res, e x p la in in g
and e x p lo r in g th in g s t h a t must p r e s e n t ly be e x p lo it e d ; — n o t emo­
t i o n a l man, a s p o e t , s e e k in g in p ic t u r e - p a t t e r n s a l i t e r a t e enjoym ent.
Som ething o f a l l t h o s e , p erh a p s, but w ith a n o th er w i l l , another
c e n t e r . I t i s th e w i l l f o r , or t o , i d e n t i f i c a t i o n . O neness. The
s e l f i s t o be made one w ith a profounder w o r ld . The s ic k c o n sc io u s
s e l f i s t o be drawn b oth down and up in to a v a l i d u n co n scio u s one.
There i s h e a lth t h e r e . Man i s f e l t a s m an-an d-n atu re; no lo n g er an
a i l i n g o f f - s h o o t , a d etach ed product o f greed and i n t e l l e c t i o n .
I t i s , a c c o r d in g t o T racy, a book w h ich a p p e a ls " to common r o o t s , t o
deep l i f e
so u rces" ; i t i s b oth " a u th e n tic and e c s t a t i c , " s c i e n t i f i c a l l y
a c c u r a te and y e t pervaded by a "pow erful and sym p ath etic v i s i o n . " ^ ^
i t s su r v e y o f th e h i s t o r y o f t h e la n d , i t s g e o lo g i c a l, b o t a n i c a l , p r e ­
human, and human h i s t o r y , i t c r e a t e s p e r s p e c t iv e , Mr. Tracy s a y s .
And h ere p r e - h is t o r y i s more p e r tin e n t th an h i s t o r y ; fo r i n th e
h e c t i c scen es w h ich make up a p o l i t i c a l p ic tu r e o f c i v i l i z e d men
t h e r e i s no h in t o f our t h ir d mode — o f man a t one w ith n a tu r e . He
H. C. T racy, op. c i t . , pp. 2 5 1 -2 5 2 .
62 I b i d . , pp. 2 5 2 -2 5 3 .
343
has s p l i t o f f . He has f o r g o t t e n . He has "improved." That i s
h i s c i v i l i z a t i o n , h i s s t o r y o f tsars and g reed , o f con ven ien ce and
lu x u ry and d i s i l l u s i o n . With a l l o f e a r t h 's powers a t h i s command
he i s d r in k in g th e d regs o f s o p h i s t i c a t i o n . And so he n eeds r e n e w a l,
an e x p e r ie n c e o f n a tu re and o f nature-and -m an. I f any w r it in g could
g iv e him such e x p e r ie n c e v i c a r i o u s ly , i t would he a book l i k e t h i s . 63
Mr. T racy, in d e e d , i s n o t a e s t h e t i c man, or in d u c tiv e man, or em o tio n a l
man — he i s a w orld-w eary m y s t ic , s i c k , alm ost t o a fu r y , o f c i v i l i z a t i o n
and fa n c y in g t h a t an e x p e r ie n c e o f n atu re and o f nature-and-m an can cure
him .
He o u t-A u s tin 's Mrs. A u s tin .
Mary A u stin f e l l , i t i s t r u e , in t o t h a t same d e s ir e fo r on en ess th a t
Mr. T racy b e tr a y s .
In most o f h er w r it in g , how ever, she e x p r e s s e s such a
d e s ir e o n ly i n d i r e c t l y .
Mr. Tracy n e g l e c t s th e p ra g m a tica l Mary A u s tin ,
alw ays in t e r e s t e d in th e "Here and How."
The Land o f J o u rn ey's Ending
would b e t t e r be ta k e n , n o t a s m ed icine f o r th e w orld-w eary or a s commenda­
t i o n f o r m y stic s who want to u ch w ith th e " I n e ffa b le Name," but sim p ly a s a
p o e t ic p relu d e t o Mary A u s t in 's v i s i o n o f an intram ontane c u ltu r e in th e
C olorado R iver B a s in , w ith t h e v i l l a g e p a tte r n o f s m a ll- s c a le communalism,
l o c a l i n t e g r i t y and s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y , and " a e s th e t ic s a s a mode o f l i f e
b eh avior" — th e v i s i o n Mrs. A u stin l a t e r had w h ile s e r v in g on th e Seven
S t a t e s ' Committee and v i s i t i n g th e M exico o f D iego R iv e r a .
A coramon-sense approach, t h e n , t o The Land o f Jo u rn ey 's Ending i s
t o c o n sid e r i t a d e s c r ip t iv e work, w hich f r e q u e n tly , i t cannot be d e n ie d ,
b o i l s over w ith r a p t prophecy and angry d e n u n c ia tio n .
As fo r th e d e s c r ip ­
t i v e w r it in g , th e ch a p ter "Journey’ s B eginning" t e l l s in r a th e r tu r g id
s t y l e th e s to r y o f th e S pan ish e x p lo r a tio n and s e ttle m e n t o f t h e S o u th w est.
63 I b i d . , p p . 2 5 3 -2 5 4 .
344
"’vVind's T r a il I Am Seeking" d e a ls b o ld ly w ith th e g r e a t "wind r iv e r s "
w hich determ ine th e a r id c lim a te o f t h e r e g io n and c o n se q u e n tly make
p la n t l i f e adapt i t s e l f anew t o s u r v iv a l.
"Cactus Country" d e s c r ib e s
a l l v a r i e t i e s o f c a c tu s from th e lo w ly p r ic k ly p e a r , w hich overruns th e
b ou n d aries o f th e Southw est p ro p er, t o th e g ia n t sahuaro which t h r iv e s
o n ly in th e a r id e s t o f b a s in s in A r iz o n a ,
Ilary A u s tin i s a b le t o make
th e a lm o st m onstrous c a c t i seem a s n a tu r a l and b e a u t if u l a s any New England
fe r n or flo w e r .
" P a p a g u eria ," t e l l i n g o f th e land o f th e Papagos, th a t
outw ardly b le a k and nonhuman r e g io n in sou th ern A rizon a s p i l l i n g over in t o
Sonora, shows how a
p e o p le , un ab le t o m aster t h e i r en viron m ent, can y e t
r e s ig n g r a c e f u lly t o i t .
And t h a t cou n try i s b le a k o n ly t o th e u n s e e in g .
There i s no c la s s o f v e g e t a t io n so d e e p ly e x p e r ie n c e d in th e
b u s in e s s o f t r a n s l a t in g th e q u a l i t i e s o f th e s o i l in t o food and
seed -p p o d u cin g s t o r e s , a s t h e sp in ed and s c a n t i l y le a v e d p la n ts
o f th e Sonoran zo n e. As i f a l l t h e i r s e c r e t p r o c e s s e s were primed
t o c a tc h th e advantage o f th e r a in y h o u r, th e d e s e r t growth produces
in t h e ob server a sen se o f ex p ecta n cy more p oignant th an th e se n se
o f d e s e r t n e s s . T h is cu r io u s f e e l i n g o f a l iv e n e s s o f th e p la n t w o r ld ,
w a it in g l i k e a w ild c r e a tu r e o f t h e c a t k in d , e v e r y t r e e and shrub
claw ed l i k e a c a t , crouched f o r th e s p r in g , w ith t h e dram atic announce­
ment o f th e s e a 's in t e n t io n g o in g on overh ead , p la y s i t s p art in th e
q u a l i t y o f th e human produce o f P a p a g u er ia .6^
These elem en ts a l l a c c o rd w ith th e b e s t t r a d i t i o n s o f th e n a tu r a l h i s t o r y
essa y .
"Paso Por A qui," w ith i t s accou n t o f a l l who e a r ly p assed by I n s c r ip ­
t io n Rock in New N e x ic o , i s l a r g e l y h i s t o r i c a l r e c o n s t r u c tio n o f th e in s p ir e d
s o r t ; a s th e p la c e where In d ian t r a i l s , th e t r a i l s o f Span ish e x p lo r e r s , and
th e t r a i l s o f contem porary Am ericans c r o s s , i t i s a kin d o f symbol o f th e
a u th o r 's hope o f a p r o f it a b le b le n d in g o f t h r e e c u lt u r e s .
"Rio Colorado"
t r a c e s t h e course o f t h a t g r e a t stream from i t s m in u te st headw ater t o th e
64
Niary A u s t i n , The la n d o f J o u r n e y 's E nding (New York, 1 9 2 4 ) , p p ,
1 5 6 -1 5 7 .
345
G ulf o f C a lif o r n ia , ta k e s a cco u n t o f t h e g e o lo g ic a l s tr u c tu r e and th e
human h i s t o r y o f e v e r y r e g io n d rain ed "by e v e r y t r ib u t a r y , ta k e s accou n t
o f a l l e x p lo r a t io n s , and fu tu r e c u lt u r a l p o s s i b i l i t i e s .
The d e s c r ip t io n
o f th e Grand Canyon i s given: in p r e c is e y e t im a g in a tiv e term s t h a t a g e o lo ­
g i s t m ight en vy.
"Sacred M ountains" c a tc h e s t h e I n d ia n s ’ and Mary A u s t in 's
a t t i t u d e towards t h e h ig h p l a c e s , but in a manner c o n v in c in g t o even one
■who p r id e s h im s e lf upon h i s freedom from s e n s i b i l i t y .
s c r i p t iv e -w riting t h e r e i s alm ost no end.
w ith d e t a i l , in tim a te , k e e n ly o b se r v a n t.
Of e x c e l le n t de­
The book i s in fo r m a tiv e , packed
I f i t i s d e f i n i t e l y r e m in isc e n t
o f The Land o f L i t t l e Rain t h a t i s b ecau se i t t r e a t s , g e n e r a lly , a lik e
t e r r a in ; but i t i s a much la r g e r t e r r a in , and th e w r it in g i s , in one way,
a g r e a te r s u c c e s s , s in c e th e a u t h o r it a t iv e and in tim a te manner i s e x e r c is e d
upon so much la r g e r a s u b j e c t .
S ou th w est.
f o llo w .
I t has no p la n —
I t i s n o t a book fo r th e newcomer t o th e
a t l e a s t no p la n th a t th e u n i n i t i a t e d can
But when one h as lea rn ed som ething o f th e S o u th w est, i t s h i s t o r y ,
i t s p la c e-n a m e s, i t s enormous g e o g r a p h ica l u n i t s , The Land o f Jo u rn ey 's
Ending w i l l a p p ea l a s m a in ly sound and t r u e , and i n f i n i t e l y su p e r io r t o
j o u r n a l i s t i c p ro d u ctio n s w hich p u t c o lo r and romance on parad e.
I t i s a book o f p rop h ecy.
The p r o p h e tic a t t i t u d e inform s ev e ry
l i n e o f i t w ith o u t o f te n g iv in g annoyance.
But th e r e a r e o c c a sio n s when
M rs. A u s t in 's s tr a n g e ly p a n t h e i s t i c a l and m y s t ic a l n o t io n s w h ich a r e more
th an p o e t ic fa n cy stan d out j a g g e d ly .
You w alk a str a n g e r in a v e g e t a t in g w o rld ; th e n w ith an inward
c l i c k t h e s h u t te r o f some profounder l e v e l o f e o n s c io u s n e s s u n c lo s e s
and adm its you t o s e n tie n c e o f th e m ounting sa p .
But i t i s o n ly i n th e low growths o f th e Hew M exico h ig h la n d s ,
w h ere, a s you w a lk , your head comes l e v e l w ith t h e f o r e s t crown, th a t
i t happens w it h a u t h o r it y . What can we know o f t r e e s whose p r o c e ss e s
o f e lo n g a tio n toward th e l i g h t go on a hundred f e e t or more overhead?
346
Only o c c a s io n a lly , a f t e r a lo n g tim e in th e t a l l f o r e s t , d oing
n o th in g and t h in k in g v e r y l i t t l e , a se n se o f t h e a l ie n and d e e p ly
p reoccu p ied l i f e o f th e t r e e shakes our l e s s e x p erien ced human
c o n s c io u s n e s s w ith a to u ch c a lle d P a n ic .6 5
As would "be e x p e c te d , th e more s t a r t l i n g p a ssa g e s where i n t e l l e c t u a l b e ­
l i e f p u l l s up m ost am azedly a r e n e a r ly a l l i n ch ap ters d e a lin g w ith In d ia n s .
In "The L e ft Hand o f God" Mrs. A u stin s to p s i n th e m iddle o f t h e ch a p ter
t o comment upon th e c i v i c order o f t h e In d ian community b e fo re th e coming
o f t h e w h ite man; th e r e w ere, she s a y s , "no r i c h , no p oor, no p a u p ers, no
p r is o n s , no r e d lig h t d i s t r i c t , no c r im in a l c l a s s e s , no i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d
orphans, no m others o f dependent c h ild r e n p e n a liz e d by t h e i r widowhood,
no one p in in g f o r a m ate, who w ish ed t o be m arried."® 6
And she p ic tu r e s
t h e d eg ra d a tio n wrought by t h a t s c o u r g e , th e w h ite man.
"Over a l l th e
in e stim a b le tr e a s u r e o f t h e i r c u ltu r e l i e our ign oran ce and s e l f - c o n c e i t
a s a gray d u s t .
Yet s t i l l , in t h a t d u s t , b lossom and sm e ll sw e e t, c o n cep ts
fo r th e la c k o f which our age goes s ta g g e r in g in t o c h a o s." 67
Out o f th e
h in t c o n ta in e d in t h i s l a s t se n te n c e th e r e grows a f e r v id e x p la n a tio n o f
th e I n d ia n 's p an th eism , h i s b e l i e f in L ife a s r e a l i t y , fo r e v e r flo w in g and
reform in g through a l l phenomena, a wakonda w hich i s in e v e r y c r e a te d t h in g ,
a p e r p e tu it y o f s p i r i t w hich in d u ces b e l i e f iii th e power o f th e dead t o
r e tu r n .
"Would i t n o t make d e a th l a s s t e r r i f y i n g t o f e e l , th e n e x t moment
a f t e r , a sm all f a m ilia r hand s lip p e d i n t o you rs?
fi K
For d e a th , l i k e l i f e , i s
I b id . , p . 4 0 . C f. her Everyman's Genius (I n d ia n a p o lis , 1 9 2 3 ),
p . 25s "There a r e n ot w a n tin g orthodox s c i e n t i s t s who a llo w some form o f
c o n s c io u s n e s s even in n o n - l i f i n g m a tte r , a kin d o f cosm ic c o n s c io u s n e s s ,
w h ich , i f i t i s t o be ad m itted a s e x i s t i n g a t a l l , must a l s o be a p a r t
o f man's m a te r ia l make-up."
Land o f J o u r n e y 's E n d in g, p . 2 4 4 .
67 I b i d . , p . 2 4 5 .
347
a t h in g t o be le a r n e d ." 68
Out o f th e s e elem en ts o f In d ian l i f e , Mrs. A u stin
draws th e h in t f o r her l a t e r a tte m p ts t o " in tu it " th e s t a t e o f death i t s e l f
and a com pensatory im m o r ta lity .
The m y s tic a l v i s i o n r e a ch es i t s h e ig h t in
a p assage f o llo w in g th e a f fir m a t io n o f th e In d ia n ’ s w h o le n e s s , h i s " u n se lf­
co n sc io u s t r a n s l a t io n o f f ir s t - h a n d c o n ta c ts w ith environm ent in t o rhythm
o f c o lo r and d e s ig n , " h is k eep in g c u lt u r a l and econom ic i n t e r e s t s i n one
p a tte r n , h i s group-m indedness running "higher th a n th e in d iv id u a l reach ":
Behind t h i s c u lt u r a l w h o le n e s s , making i t p o s s i b l e , i s a p sy ch ic
u n it y , so f o r e ig n t o our s o r t o f s o c ie t y t h a t we have n o t y e t a name
fo r i t . Sometimes in in t e r v a ls o f th e Corn D ance, when th e wind comes
up and b lu r s th e lo n g , rhythm ic l i n e in the d u st o f i t s own d an cin g,
or w a itin g o u ts id e th e g o v e r n o r 's house a t T aos, where th e sk y over
Pueblo Mountain h o ld s on b lu e u n t i l lon g a f t e r m id n ig h t, w h ile th e
c o u n c il d e lib e r a t e s w it h in and th e young men a r e s in g in g t o th e moon
between th e North House and th e S o u th , t h e word swims up and c i r c l e s ,
f l i p s i t s b r ig h t t a i l , and v a n is h e s . I t i s a word woven out o f th e
b e l i e f th a t th e r e i s g o d - s t u f f in man, and t h e se n se o f th e flo w o f
l i f e c o n tin u o u s ly from t h e R ight Band t o the L e ft Hand. But why seek
f o r a word d e f in in g th e s t a t e o f th e w h o le , who have n o t a c h ie v e d
w h olen ess? Somewhere a t th e edge o f th a t e x p e r ie n c e t h e word l i n g e r s ,
i n t u i t i v e l y f e l t , and s t i l l t o be brought t o c o n s c io u s n e s s by some
happy ob server i f t h e P u eb los l i v e lo n g en ough.69
Such p u r e ly p e r s o n a l m y sticism i s n o t in tr u d ed upon t h e reader in
t h e more l i t e r a l l y p r o p h e tic p a s s a g e s , fo r th e prophecy i s m a in ly one o f
th e m ixing o f r a c e s and th e a c h ie v in g o f a c u lt u r a l in t e g r a t io n in th e
Sou th w est.
Speaking o f th e C olorado R iv e r , she w r it e s :
A l l t h i s c o lo r , t h e sp len d or o f m ountains and t h e broad l i f t o f
th e m esas, t h e r i v e r g h t y r a g e s , th e drama o f t h e Grand Canon,
th e t r i b a l le g e n d s , t h e w ild a s s e s d rin k in g a t th e c lo u d p o o ls , th e
c i t i e s o f our A n cie n ts — t h e s e come down to t h e h a b ita b le lan d s and
spread som ething a s p r e c io u s t o th e c u ltu r e t h a t a r i s e s t h e r e a s th e
a llu v iu m o f th e d e l t a . Never t o t h e d e lt a s o f th e N ile or t h e Ganges,
n ever t o T ig r is and E u p h rates, came a r ic h e r residuum o f t h e th in g s
t h a t make g r e a t and p ow erfu l c u l t u r e s . P o w erfu l, I mean, in t h e i r
68 ^ i d «> P* 247.
69 I b i d . , p . 2 6 4 .
348
c a p a c ity t o a f f e c t th e h is t o r y o f a l l c u l t u r e . ^
The S o u th w este rn er 's h a l f - a r t i c u l a t e f e e l i n g t h a t h i s co u n try i s a g rea t
cou n try i s , she h o ld s , t h e s ig n t h a t a new ra ce i s b e in g made, or t h a t ’’th e
m y ste r io u s q u a l i t y o f r a c e i s a t w ork,"
ou t o f th e d u st a s th e f i r s t man w as.
r e a c t io n s t o new environ m ent.
71
"For new r a c es a r e n o t made new
They a r e made out o f o ld r a c e s by
Race i s th e p a tte r n o f e s t a b lis h e d a d j u s t ­
ments betw een t h e w ith in and th e w ith o u t o f man."*^
And M rs. A u stin pro­
p h e s ie s a r a c e , a c u lt u r e , ta k in g up in to i t s e l f t h e h e r it a g e o f s p i r i t u a l i t y ,
communalism, and c o lo r o f t h e S ou th w est.
And a lth o u g h her prophecy i s
t in g e d m y s t ic a lly w ith t h e im p lic a t io n t h a t "the Word" w i l l be r e v e a le d ,
i t i s m ain ly t h e prophecy o f an im agin ab le and q u it e r a t io n a l fu tu r e .
In w r i t i n g , th e n , about th e S o u th w est, her "land o f jo u r n e y 's ending"
where she f e l t "the Word" was t o come and she w ould be confirm ed in her b e­
l i e f in p rayer and s o u l ' s con tin u an ce and th e a v a i l a b i l i t y o f t h e Pow ers,
llary A u stin k ep t th e s e p e r so n a l o b s e s s io n s v e r y w e l l c o n c e a le d .
o n ly a minor p o r tio n o f th e book.
They occupy
What sta n d s out i s t h e profound d e s c r ip ­
t i v e pow er, th e power o f r e a ch in g back w ith im a g in a tiv e grasp t o make an
unsubdued p h y s ic a l environm ent and a str a n g e htunan h is t o r y r e v e a l t h e ir
c o lo r and m eaning.
I f one did n o t know Mary A u stin in her l a s t s ta g e o f
p 1 1 , a s h o p e l e s s l y i l l and lo n e ly woman w r itin g E x p erien ces F acin g Death
and Can Prayer Be Answered? alm ost e v e r y id ea in The land o f J o u rn ey's Ending
t h a t i s u n a c c e p ta b le t o hardheaded r e a l i s t s cou ld be a t t r ib u t e d t o mere
70
I b i d . , pp. 4 3 0 -4 3 1 .
71 I b i d . , p . 4 3 8 .
72 I b i d . ,
349
p o e t ic fa n c y .
P a r a d o x ic a lly , u n le s s she were th e Mary A u stin who a t tim e s
sou gh t t o f i l l h e r s e l f w ith wakonda a s w e ll a s th e Mary A u stin who cou ld
v i s u a l i z e a c u ltu r e f o r th e C olorado R iver B a s in , her Land o f Journey’ s
Ending would n o t have t h e q u a lit y i t h a s .
For n a tu re w r i t i n g , i t a p p e a r s,
d e r iv e s l a r g e l y from a tr a n s c e n d e n ta l and i d e a l i s t i c v ie w o f t h e w orld ;
f o r t u n a t e ly , a s f a r a s h er n a tu r e w r itin g i s con cern ed , i t does n o t m atter
g r e a t ly t h a t she abandoned th e T r a n s c e n d e n ta lis ts f o r a much l e s s p h i l ­
o s o p h ic a lly r ig o r o u s m y stic ism o f her own.
Furtherm ore, th e n a tu r a l h i s t o r y
e s s a y demands some " r e v e r e n t ia l p a s s io n fo r w ild n atu re" ; t h e ty p e had in
i t from th e b eg in n in g s some a f f i l i a t i o n w ith t h e o r ie s o f i n t u i t i o n , n a tu r a l
g e n iu s , and R o u s s e a u is tic g l o r i f i c a t i o n o f t h e p r im itiv e and u n s p o ile d ; i t
grew o u t o f a s o i l t h a t encouraged th e abandonment o f t r a d i t i o n and a u t h o r it y
i n t h e sea rch f o r God and t r u t h .
Mary A u s tin , a f t e r a l l , but c a r r ie d on
t h e s p i r i t o f Emerson and h i s rom antic p r e d e c e s s o r s .
And i f some o f her
c o n c lu s io n s sound shabby and alm ost v u lg a r ly c u l t i s h in com parison w ith
Emerson, Thoreau, and M uir, th e f a u l t i s n o t h ers a lo n e ; she m erely shared
i n some o f t h e p a t h e tic a tte m p ts o f her tim e t o keep s c i e n t i f i c and r a t i o n a l
th ou gh t from rob b in g th e w orld o f a l l enchantm ent.
SUMMARY AMD CONCLUSION
Mary A u s t in 's l a s t n o v e l, S ta r r y Adventure (1 9 3 1 ), i s an epitom e
o f h er w hole work.
O ne's judgm ent upon t h i s n o v e l, t h e r e f o r e , may in a
se n se stan d a s o n e 's e v a lu a tio n o f a l l her w r i t i n g s .
S ta r r y Adventure i s Mary A u s t in 's t r i b u t e t o th e land where she
th ou gh t she saw a g r e a t c u ltu r e em erging — a c u ltu r e p a rta k in g o f th e
c o lo r , drama, and a lt it u d in o u s l i f t o f th e la n d sc a p e .
I t was t h i s elem ent
in t h e book w h ich sym p ath etic c r i t i c s n o ted in r e v ie w s .
"In t e l l i n g o f
G ardiner S i t w e l l , her h e r o , Mrs. A u stin w r i t e s , 'Today a l l t h e s e th in g s
came to g e th e r su dd en ly in a p a tte r n , l i k e th e c l i c k o f c o lo r s in a k a le id o ­
s c o p e , and th e name o f t h e p a tte r n was Mew M exico.*
In t h a t s tr o n g s e n te n c e
she has g iv en th e t e x t f o r S ta r r y A d ven tu re, and d e s c r ib e d an e x p e r ie n c e
w h ich was lo n g ago h er own. . . .
Mew M exico, t h e w h o le , i s t h e g r e a te s t
t h in g in th e s t o r y . A n o t h e r r e v ie w e r , Henry Sm ith, f e l t t h a t , s in c e M rs.
A u stin h e r s e l f had a g e n e r a liz in g ten d en cy o f m ind, he t o o m ight be a llo w ed
t o e x p la in th e book a s an a lle g o r y w hich s a id in su b sta n ce t h a t "Gard S i t ­
w e ll . . .
i s t h e American in se a r c h o f a u sa b le and s a t i s f y i n g adjustm ent
t o h i s e n v i r o n m e n t . j j j . . Sm ith n o te d th a t Gard’ s fa th e r read c l a s s i c a l
m ythology and h i s gra n d fa th er read th e B ib le ; b u t Gard, an A m erican, i n an
environm ent s tr ip p e d o f i t s non-European a s p e c t s , had t o go beyond H e lle n ic
O liv e r l a F arge, "Mew Mexico^1 Saturday Review o f L it e r a t u r e ,
V II ( 1 9 3 1 ), 87 7 .
^ Henry Sm ith,
XVI ( 1 9 3 1 ), x i v - x v .
r e v ie w o f S ta r r y Adventure
, Southw est R eview ,
351
and H ebraic t r a d i t i o n s .
a d v e n tu r e .
And when
H is q u e st fo r t h e Am erican p a tte r n was h i s s ta r r y
Gard found h im s e lf , Mr. Smith s a y s , in w orking on
t h e S to r y o f th e House from c l i f f d w e llin g t o p u e b lo , M rs. A u stin i s sa y in g
th a t so w i l l th e American ra ce f in d i t s e l f when " i t can e s t a b l i s h c o n ta c t
w ith i t s p a st and i t s en v iro n m en t."3
There i s l i t t l e doubt t h a t , i n d i r e c t l y
a t l e a s t , M rs, A u stin i s s a y in g t h a t e x p e r ie n c e o f Hew M exico i s a s t a r r y
a d v e n tu r e .
But t h e r e i s anoth er elem ent in th e s to r y which a l l commenta­
t o r s seem t o have m is s e d .
Gard S i t w e l l ' s a f f a i r w ith Eudora B a l l i n t i n has
n o th in g t o do w ith p a s s io n , rom ance, and e c s t a s y b u t i s a m atter o f havin g
work t o do and a mate t o h e lp do i t ~
a l l t h a t v e r y im portant and volum i­
nous elem en t p u ts t h e book back s o l i d l y i n th e c a te g o r y o f th e books and
s t o r i e s o f Mary A u stin concerned w ith th e m arriage them e, p a r t ic u la r ly
The L o vely Lady and Ho. 26_ Jayne S t r e e t .
S ta r r y A dventure i s a d iv id e d
book, one h a l f l y r i c a l and one h a l f m o r a l i s t i c ; and th e m o r a lis t ic part
cou ld j u s t a s w e l l havo i t s s e t t i n g in t h e f l a t la n d s o f Kansas a s in Hew
M exico.
The l y r i c a l p a rt o f th e book b e g in s w ith G ard's f i r s t e x p e r ie n c e o f
God in th e a lp e n g lo w and ends w ith h i s f in d in g an i n t e r e s t in t r a c in g th e
developm ent o f t h e House in Hew M exico from c l i f f d w e llin g t o pu eb lo —
and w ith h is consummation o f m arriage w ith Jan e.
Mary A u stin h e r s e l f had
a l i k e e x p e r ie n c e o f God a t th e age o f f i v e and lik e w is e planned t o w r ite
su ch a h is t o r y o f th e H ouse.
t h e a lp e n g lo w .
3
4
The book opens w it h th e c h ild Gard w atch in g
"Suddenly, th e wonder was a l l ab o u t him.
The edges o f t h e
I b id . , p . x v .
4
Some o f th e h i s t o r y o f t h e House went i n t o Land o f Jo u rn ey 's
E nding, but she proposed a f u l l e r trea tm en t in c o lla b o r a t io n w ith her
f r i e n d , Frank A p p le g a te , o f Santa F e.
j
352
banked c lo u d s were b r i g h t l y g i l t , th e to r n f ilm s flu x h ed crim son , th e
gleam ing cum uli behind them came h u rryin g; h ea p in g and w h e e lin g .
sw o r d -lik e beams o f l i g h t sla sh e d betw een them . . .
Great
t h e sword o f th e Lord
and o f Gideon • . . th e c h a r io t s and th e horsemen t h e r e o f . .
ch id ed f o r ly in g when he announces t h a t he has se e n God.
He i s
I t i s th e n ext
d ay, w h ile he i s th in k in g ab ou t h is e x p e r ie n c e , t h a t " a ll th e s e th in g s
[come} to g e th e r su d d en ly in a p attern " and make him s k ip in th e warm, f r e s h
a i r and s h o u t, "New M exico I Hew M exico 1 God and Hew M e x i c o l W h e n e v e r
Grampa reads th e B ib le , or when Gard s e e s Pablo M artinez and Grampa ta k e
o f f t h e ir h a ts t o th e a lp e n g lo w on t h e Sangre de G r is to M ountains, or when
he walks on th e lomas w ith D avid , th e Som ething r e tu r n s .
And s in c e he can
t e l l Jane a n y th in g , and Jane f e e l s th e Som ething t o o , she prom ises t o come
back t o Hew Mexico and seek i t w ith him .
When A lfr e d o h i n t s o f glamorous
e x p e r ie n c e s t o be had in t h e a l l e y s o f th e v i l l a g e , Gard remembers "the
sound o f h i s g r a n d fa th e r 's v o ic e sa y in g fo r g o t t e n th in g s t h a t matched w ith
th e e v e n in g c o lo r on Monte P ie d r a ." 7
As he s t u d ie s a r t w ith Mr. P h ip p s,
he g e t s enough o c c a s io n a l glim m erings o f b e a u ty and how i t i s crea ted t o
a ssu r e h im s e lf t h a t th e Presen ce has n o t q u ite abandoned him .
That th e
P r e se n c e , t h e Som ething, seems t o have an urge t o speak o f th e la n d , o f th e
sim ple p e o p le upon t h e land and t h e i r brave and h e r o ic adjustm ent t o i t ,
comes t o him when t h e body o f I g n a c io , a n a t iv e , k i l l e d in th e war, i s
d riven back t o th e v i l l a g e and th e e a r th .
Honor and h eroism and th e common
® Mary A u s tin , S ta r r y Adventure (B oston and New York, 1 9 3 1 ), p . 4 .
® I b i d . , p . 10.
^ I b i d . , p . 108.
1
353
f e e l i n g in t h e h e a r ts o f th e sim p le p eo p le have some c o n n e c tio n w ith "It"
and th e s t a r r y a d v e n tu r e .
He th o u g h t: t h a t ' s what g iv e s you f e e l i n g s — l i k e p a tr io tis m ;
i t ' s th e d u st in y o u ; ‘th e d u st i n th e corn and th e corn i n yon,- and
you in th e d u st a g a in . T h a t's what mdde i t r i g h t , and n o t j u s t sen ­
t im e n t a l, t o "bring th e t o d ie s b ack . I g n a c io would go back in th e
d u s t , and th e n , when you were o ld , yo u ’ d have one o f th o s e q u ick
moments o f y o u r s, p a s s in g cham ise and c h a p a r r a l, and you'd know
su d d en ly; I g n a c io 's d u s t . You’ d have s e c r e t and s a t i s f y i n g to u c h
w ith a l l th a t I g n a c io k n e w . 8
The lo v e a f f a i r w ith th e glamorous Eudora, who t a lk s o f em anations
and v ib r a t io n s , makes him th in k he has e n te r e d upon th e s ta r r y a d v en tu re.
And t h e n , as th e book draws t o i t s m o r a lis t ic c lo s e w ith Gard going back
t o Jane on th e rebound from Eudora, and a s he s p e c u la te s upon th e llem esis
th a t has pursued him because o f h is v i o l a t i o n o f a g e -o ld r a c ia l wisdom , th e
s t a r r y adventure becomes th e everyd ay
l i f e o f a l l sob er p e o p le , a t a s k ,
a m ate, th e deep s a t i s f a c t i o n o f l i v i n g c lo s e t o th e e a r th in th e fundam ental
human w ay.
Thin " s ta r r y adventure" w hich beckons from su n se ts and alp en glow
i s as vague a s th e S h in in g House which lu r ed P e te r on (The L ovely Lady) or
th e V is io n which le d Kenneth ( The Ford) .
I t i s more th a n an " id e a l" ; i t
i s an in tim a tio n o f g r e a t d e s t in y fo r Gard and f o r mankind; and i t i s some­
t h in g w hich prompts a man b e s t in Lew h e x ic o .
But th e " sta r r y adventure"
i s more than e x u lt a t io n over th e s c e n ic b e a u ty o f Hew L iexico, and more
th an an a lle g o r y o f man's e s t a b l i s h in g c o n ta c t w ith h i s p a st and h i s en viron ­
m ent.
8 ^ i d . , p . 361.
9
The p o r t r a i t i s a lm o st th a t o f i.Irs. L ab el Dodge Luhan; but s in c e
"a la d y a t Taos who has m arried an Indian" i s m entioned e ls e w h e r e , Eudora
B a llin t i n can h a rd ly have been drawn from f ir s . Luhan.
I
354
fclary A u s t in 's lo n g -h e ld th e o r y o f m arriage and o f woman's r ig h t s
pervades th e "book.
The problem o f adjustm ent betw een men and women i s
t o be s o lv e d , l i k e a l l o th e r problem s, b y d is e n ta n g lin g f e e l i n g from i t .
In d eed , th e t h e s i s o f th e n o v e l c u ts below th e m arriage problem dov/n t o
th e q u ite a n ti-r o m a n tic t h e s i s t h a t f e e l i n g s on any s u b je c t a r e an abomi­
n a t io n ; and th e t h e s i s alm ost ta k e s Ivlrs. A u stin t o th e p o in t o f reprehend­
in g Gard's whole e a r l i e r l i f e w ith i t s i d e a l i s t i c t in g e and t o t h e p o in t
o f sa y in g t h a t s o l i d , s u b s t a n t ia l p eo p le lik e a c e r t a in S te v e C l a f l i n in
t h e s to r y have th e o n ly t r u e g r ip upon r e a l i t y .
From th e moment Jane a sk s
Gard t o marry h e r , th e t h e s i s o f th e book i s em phasized and re -e m p h a siz e d .
Jane l ik e s Gard and she th in k s th e y are a l i k e .
As G ard's s i s t e r , Ia u r a ,
e x p la in s t o him l a t e r , Jane wanted t o marry Gard b e fo r e Gard f e l l in lo v e
w ith h e r , so t h a t th e y m ight go in t o m arriage w ith t h e i r heads c l e a r .
Ja n e, o f c o u r s e , knows t h a t her m arriage t o Gard m i l f a c i l i t a t e her break­
in g her engagement t o a n o th er man; b u t t h e v e r y f a c t o f her engagement t o
an o th er man whom she does n o t now l i k e , adm ire, or lo v e , has shown her t h e
f o l l y o f tr u s tin g f e e lin g s .
And Jane has t o d e a l w ith th e f e e l i n g s o f her
p a r e n ts c r a f t i l y , so a s t o g iv e as l i t t l e p a in t o them a s p o s s ib le —
f e e l i n g s about th e s a n c t i t y o f a p led ged word; f e e l i n g s about how Ames,
t h e other man, i s a kind o f com pensation in t h e i r l i v e s fo r t h e inadequacy
o f t h e i r moronic son , Howard k e r to n H eth erin gton ; f e e l in g s ab ou t what
t h e i r s o c i a l s e t w i l l t h in k .
Jane i s determ ined t o r u le f e e l i n g s out o f
e v e r y th in g ; and i t i s n o t u n t i l th e end o f th e s t o r y th a t sh e c o n v in c es
Gard th a t t h e i r m arriage, th e s ta r r y a d v en tu re, may be s u c c e s s f u l w ith ou t
fe e lin g .
355
In h i s a f f a i r w ith Eudora, Gard i s b u t t h e r e v e r se o f th e c a s t - o f f
women in Love and th e S o u l Maker and Ho. 26_ Jayne S t r e e t .
In t h i s c a s e ,
i t i s th e man whose d e s ir e f o r permanency in t h e r e la t io n s h ip i s thw arted
by th e woman's c a s u a l a t t i t u d e tow ards th e a f f a i r ; but th e m oral i s th e
same.
In Love and th e S o u l Soaker, Mrs. A u stin had s a id t h a t lo v e , a tr u e
m atin g, c o n ta in e d th e d e s ir e f o r a perm anent, p u b lic , and e x c lu s iv e r e ­
la tio n s h ip .
True lo v e r s vjant th e r ig h t t o show t o th e w orld t h e i r con q u est
and t h e ir e c s t a s y .
Gard, th e n , s p e c u la t e s a s f o llo w s :
That was what saved you , your se n se o f Eudora a s beyond a l l
w ords. . . .
How you knew why t h e s e t h in g s had t o be s e c r e t ,
in v io la b le . . . t h a t was why p eo p le had t o m arry. They had t o
make a v i r t u e o f p u b l i c i t y b ecau se t h e y w e r e n ’t a b le t o t r u s t
th e m se lv e s t o th e h ig h , incomm unicable q u a l i t y o f th e s e c r e t
e x p e r ie n c e .^
Gard i s
th e t r u e lo v e r , w ish in g t o g iv e a l l .
Heprom ises Eudora t h a t he
w i l l do
a n y th in g fo r her — meaning t h a t he w i l l d iv o r c e Jane — and i s
b ew ild ered when Eudora r e p l i e s t h a t i t i s b o u r g e o is t o be alw ays w anting
t o do som ething ab ou t som eth in g.
He w ants e n t ir e p o s s e s s io n o f Eudora,
w is h e s t o know h er e v ery p la n and e v e r y movement, i s b a f f le d by h is la ck
o f th e r ig h t t o
sa y in p u b lic , "Eudora and
I ."
At th e p o in t o f h i s deep­
e s t involvem ent w ith Eudora he w ish e s Jane would f r e e him — c o o l, c le a r ­
headed Jane, who d i s t r u s t s f e e l in g and w i l l u n d erstan d ; n o t s e e in g t h a t
he h im s e lf i s a c tin g e n t i r e l y upon f e e l i n g .
He d e v e lo p s a good ca se o f
j e a lo u s y , "ordinary m ale j e a lo u s y ," w hich M rs. A u stin h e ld in Love and th e
S o u l Maker t o be
Eugenio
a mark o f tr u e l o v e .
Cardenas y B arrenuevo.
10 I b i d . , p . 310.
He i s s u s p ic io u s and j e a lo u s o f
And Eudora p la y s w it h him a s i f he were a
356
s ta g e p ro p e r ty in h er d r a m a tiz a tio n o f h e r s e l f ; a " je a lo u s lo v er" i s alm ost
a new e x p e r ie n c e t o h e r .
And through a l l Gard’ s to r tu r e d agon y, e x c e e d in g ly
w e l l p o r tra y e d , th e auth or keeps e v e r p r e s s in g t h e id ea t h a t , d e s p it e Gard’ s
f e e l i n g s , he has n o t found tr u e m atin g, s in c e t h e e s s e n t i a l s a r e la c k in g ~
th e e x c lu s i v e , p u b lic , and permanent f e a t u r e s .
You owed i t t o y o u r s e lf and th e f e l t r ig h tn e s s o f your p a s s io n
f o r h e r , t o g iv e t o i t a sta n d in g and a name. I t w asn’t d ecen t n o t
t o marry a woman who had made you s u f f e r so much. You'd come t o
t h a t . Anguish had i t s own in t im a c ie s , i t s p r o p r i e t i e s . I t demanded
fo r i t s e l f a c e r t a in d i g n i t y . As E udora's husband you would have a
k ind o f p r o p r ie ty s i c p r o p r ie ta r y ? r ig h t in s u f f e r i n g .H
And n o t u n t i l Eudora has h u m ilia te d him and m arried E u gen io, and he has
been made t o s e e t h e l i g h t by th e combined p r ea ch in g s o f Laura, Jan e, and
S te v e C l a f l i n , does Gard c e a se fo llo w in g h i s f e e l i n g s .
Laura, who i s th e e f f i c i e n t , r a th e r u n a t t r a c t iv e s e c r e t a r y o f a man
o f a f f a i r s , i s an A u stin ia n woman, c le a r -h e a d e d , p r a c t i c a l , and u n rom antic.
Laura le c t u r e s Gard:
"Something . . .
s t a r t e d you o f f w ith a k ind o f f e e l ­
in g p a t te r n , and a f t e r th a t you w ent b y th e p a tte r n in s id e y o u , in s te a d o f
by th e way t h in g s w ere. . . .
men were worse than women a t t h a t . . •
She r a i l s a t Grampa’ s p reco n ceiv ed p a tte r n fo r womanly b e h a v io r , and th e
I le th e r in g to n s ’ p r e c o n c eiv e d p a tte r n f o r f i l i a l b eh a v io r which th e moronic
"Howie" s u r e ly cannot l i v e up t o .
She maneuvers her m other, a widow fo r
l e s s than a y e a r , in to m arriage w ith S te v e C l a f l i n , because Laura does n o t
w ish her mother t o become trap ped in any p a tte r n o f devout widowhood w hich
M rs. S i t w e l l or Gard may have in t h e i r m in d s.
Like th e m ilit a n t Anne in
The Ford, Laura i s com p eten t, in c is iv e -m in d e d , a n t i- s e n t im e n t a l modern
woman w ith many a c id comments t o make upon f e e l i n g s , s u p e r s t i t i o n s , and
fe tis h e s .
11 * b id «, P* 3 4 3 •
12 I b i d . , p . 3 5 9 .
357
Laura and Jane a r e r e e n fo r c e d by S te v e C l a f l i n , a b r e e zy W estern er,
a " d ir ec t" man, a s u c c e s s f u l m ining e n g in e e r w ith v i s i o n s o f a new c u ltu r e
in th e Colorado B asin ; a man p e r f e c t ly a t home a t a R otary Club m eetin g but
w ith a tr u e v i s i o n too*
Gard l i k e s him , and im m ed iately C l a f li n su s p e c ts
Gard’ s t r o u b le s .
"Some woman ta k e you up in a b a llo o n , t h e n ' l e t you drop?"
"Something lik e t h a t ."
"It happens t o most o f u s ," s a id t h e man from A rizon a. " I f i t
d i d n ' t , most o f us would n ever f in d out in tim e t o do us any good
th a t i t a i n ' t what a woman makes u s f e e l , but what we can do fo r
her t h a t s e t s th e m easure. . . . i t ' s what you can do and keep on
d o in g , no m atter what you f e e l . . . . You d o n 't r e a l l y g e t anywhere
on what a woman does t o you . The kin d t h a t does t h in g s t o you w i l l
do you i n , f i n a l l y . I f you want t o know what b e in g a man i s , g et
h o ld o f a good woman — l i k e your m other or s i s t e r — and do th in g s
f o r h e r . Support h e r , make a home f o r h e r , g iv e her c h ild r e n .
O therw ise s h e ' l l have you w ith your back t o th e w a ll in no t im e .
• . . I f a man has a jo b he wants t o g e t done . . . to o many a s s o r te d
em otions are p la in p o iso n t o h im . "13
A f t e r t h i s s tim u la tin g sermon and a f t e r b eing tou ch ed by th e fu n e r a l o f
I g n a c io M a rtin ez, n a tiv e son k i l l e d i n t h e war, and b e in g t h r i l l e d by a
b u s in e s s men's m eetin g where th e r e a r e in tim a tio n s t h a t th e sound, s o l i d
p e o p le a r e gra sp in g th e p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f Dew M exico’ s c u lt u r a l fu tu r e v ia
t h e Boulder Dam and " th in g s coming th rough here" — Gard d r iv e s home.
. . . th e year had tu r n e d . . . . Som ething had tu r n e d , t o o ,
in s id e him . S tev e C l a f li n ; man t a lk ; t h e spark th a t . . .
had f la s h e d betw een him and th e o th e r b u s in e s s men o f Todos
S a n to s, t h e re tu r n o f Ig n a c io t o t h e la n d : campo d e l h on or,
campo s a n to . YJhatever happened t o a man th e r e was alw ays th e
la n d . I t to o k him i n and turned him i n t o corn and men a g a in .
I t d i d n ' t , a s S te v e C l a f l i n had s a id , g e t a n y th in g done through
a s s o r te d em o tio n s.^ 4
The book m ight have ended h e r e , a lth o u g h i f i t h a d , Gard would have m isse d
th e e x p e r ie n c e o f c o n s e n tin g t o h i s m o th er's m arriage and o f l i s t e n i n g f u r -
13
PP* 3 6 7 -3 6 8 .
14 I b i d . , p . 3 6 8 .
358
th e r t o J a n e ’ s sp eech es on s o l i d i t y , t h e e a r t h , th e s ta r r y adventure a s
t h e commonest adventure o f a l l s t a b le and e a r th y men.
S ta r r y Adventure c a tc h e s up alm ost ev e ry them e th a t Mary A u stin
had tou ch ed in h er p r e v io u s f o r t y - t h r e e y e a r s , and r e f l e c t s alm ost e v e r y
p e r so n a l problem and m aladjustm ent she had gone th r o u g h .
What a r e Jan e,
and Laura, and Mrs. S i t w e l l b u t l a t e r v e r s io n s o f th e d e s e r t woman n o ted
in L ost Borders — p r im itiv e woman, com p eten t, s e l f - r e l i a n t , w ish in g t o
work w ith a man, lo v e w ith a man, and b ear c h ild r e n ?
Gard’ s e x p e r ie n c e
w ith Eudora i s th e e x p e r ie n c e , in r e v e r s e , o f th e women i n Love and th e
S o u l Maker and No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t ; t h e theme i s t h a t lo v e i s n o t t o be
ta k en l i g h t l y and t h a t i t f lo u r is h e s b e s t on m utual esteem and a shared
ta sk .
VJiat i s Mrs. S i t w e l l ’ s m arriage t o S te v e C l a f l i n but a d ir e c t s la p
a t th e id e a o f p io u s widowhood w hich was h e ld b y Mary A u s t in 's mother and
w h ich Mary A u stin a n a ly z ed and c h a s t is e d so s e v e r e ly in E arth H orizon?
VJhat i s J a n e ’ s i n s is t e n c e upon l i k i n g and a l i k e n e s s a s th e proper b a s is
f o r m a rr ia g e, but th e Mary A u stin o f t h e e a r ly s t o r y '’F r u s tr a te 1' t e l l i n g
what was wrong w it h her own m arriage?
The in c o n s is t e n c y betw een Laura’ s
f e m in is t independence and M rs. S i t w e l l ' s w i l li n g n e s s t o a c c e p t th e pro­
t e c t i o n and support o f S te v e C l a f l i n , i s t h e same c o n f l i c t w hich Mary A u stin
r e v e a ls in E arth H orizon — t h e in c o n s is t e n c y betw een her r a i l i n g a t t h e
t r a d i t i o n o f "woman's p r e c io u sn e ss" and Jier a lm o st w a ilin g a d m issio n th a t
sh e m s n ever p r o t e c t e d , had n ev er had a man t o buy la c e nightgow ns f o r h e r *
IVhen S te v e C l a f l i n a d d r e sse s t h e b u s in e s s men o f Todos Santos on
t h e s u b je c t o f Boulder Dam and Gard f e e l s " th in g s coining th ro u g h h e r e ,"
M rs. A u stin i s but r e h e a r s in g her w r itin g s on B oulder Dam and th e new c u ltu r e
o f th e C olorado B a sin and r e s t a t in g her f a i t h t h a t somehow th e dominant Amer­
359
ic a n group, th e b u s in e s s men, are s e e in g , or w i l l s e e , h er v i s i o n .
7/hen
M arvin, t h e a r c h i t e c t , has in tim a tio n s o f im m o r ta lity ; when Gard s e e s God
a t th e age o f f i v e ; when Gard p la n s a book t r a c in g th e h i s t o r y o f th e House
in Hew M exico ~
what i s i t a l l b u t su b lim ated a u to b io g ra p h y , a hodge-podge
o f th e th em es, d e s i r e s , and en th u siasm s o f Mary A u s t in 's lon g l i f e ? The
i n d e f i n i t e n e s s o f what Gard f e e l s t o be th e p u ll o f t h e " s ta r r y adventure" ~
i t i s b u t th e in d e f i n i t e n e s s o f Mary A u s t in 's l i f e l o n g urge t o e x p lo r a t io n ,
s p e c u la t io n , and a d ju stm e n t, ending in r e t r e a t t o th e good e a r t h .
And over
i t a l l — over a l l t h e con fu sed and m o n oton ou sly-rep eated th em es, t a g s and
b i t s o f b e l i e f i n s u r v iv a l, b e l i e f in I n d ia n s , b e l i e f i n th e deep u rge o f
Americans (even American b u s in e s s men) tow ards a more communal and l e i s u r e lo v in g l i f e — are g r e a t s p la sh e s o f landscape c o lo r in g , g i l t clo u d s from
behind w hich th e wakonda, t h e Cosmic C o n sc io u sn e ss, th e p a n t h e is t ic s p i r i t
and "sentim en t o f Being" b e c k o n s.
I t i s a wonder th e book has a s much u n it y
as i t d oes h ave.
S ta r r y Adventure h o ld s in s o lu t io n p r a c t i c a l l y a l l t h a t Mary A u stin
had t o s a y .
lem s.
In i t a r e her c h a r a c t e r is t ic s la n t s upon women and t h e i r prob­
I t g iv e s h in t s o f th e p o s i t i v e and enduring elem en t in her a c t i v i t i e s
a s p r o p h e te s s .
I t em bodies a l s o her sea rch f o r an American rhythm; an in ­
digenous American c u l t u r e , she t h in k s , can be f e l t coming th ro u g h , a c u ltu r e
in w hich an a r c h i t e c t , a m ining e n g in e e r , R o ta r ia n s, b u s in e s s men, an un­
frock ed p r i e s t who i s a S o c i a l i s t , and a r e l i g i o u s m y stic l i k e Gard S i t w e ll
a l l und erstand one a n o th e r .
A u s tin 's m y sticism :
S ta r r y A dventure e x p r e ss e s t h e b e s t o f Mary
h er Em ersonian and d e e p ly P r o te s ta n t con cep t o f th e
s p i r i t u a l l i f e a s a l i f e o f e a r n e s t search f o r s a lv a t io n , a sea rch f r e e d
from a u t h o r it y and t r a d i t i o n .
The w orst s id e o f her m y stic is m — h er fa n ­
t a s t i c a tte m p t t o w r e st from p s y c h o a n a ly s is and s c ie n c e and f o lk l o r e a b e l i e f
360
i n s o u l ’ s con tin u an ce and in th e " a v a i la b i l it y o f th e Powers" — in tr u d e s
o n ly s l i g h t l y .
nature w r i t i n g .
And t h i s l a s t o f a l l her n o v e ls in c lu d e s some o f her b e s t
The f e e l o f a land i s th e most prominent t h in g in t h e book,
and th e m ost b e a u t if u l .
But th e book weaves t o g e th e r such a m u ltitu d e o f
Mary A u s t in 's o ld them es and o b s e s s io n s , so v a g u e ly s u g g e s ts i t s m ean ings,
i s so p o i n t l e s s l y r h a p s o d ic a l, i t i s , on th e w h o le , d i f f i c u l t and b e w ild e r in g .
To p a ss judgment upon s o p r o l i f i c a p ro d u ctio n a s t h a t o f Mary A u stin
i s a t a s k r e q u ir in g some t e m e r it y .
She i s , f i r s t o f a l l , hard t o r e a d .
To get her meaning i s o f te n n o t w orth th e e f f o r t .
In her w orship o f i n t u i ­
t i o n , in her attem p t t o be o r i g i n a l , in h er pose o f alw ays p r e s e n tin g id e a s
c a lle d up out o f th e d e e p s, she ta k e s th e h a r d e s t, m ost in d ir e c t way o f
e x p r e ss in g her th o u g h ts .
Her id e a s a t f i r s t appearance are profound, and
on d i s t i l l a t i o n o f te n tu r n out t o be commonplace.
She g iv e s th e rea d er no
r e fe r e n c e t o what he a lr e a d y knows t o h elp him on h i s w ay.
The so u r c e s o f
most o f h er id e a s she d e l i b e r a t e l y c o n c e a ls — u n le s s i t be t r u e , a s one
o c c a s io n a lly s u s p e c t s , t h a t her le a r n in g was so in ad equate a s t o le a v e her
ig n o r a n t o f th e f a c t t h a t her id e a s had any so u r c es or p a r a l l e l s .
The t r a i t s j u s t enumerated a r e the t r a i t s o f a fron tiersw om an .
le a r n e d , she was s c o r n fu l o f le a r n in g .
Un­
U n d is c ip lin e d , she was s c o r n fu l o f
th e d is c ip lin e d and m e tic u lo u s se a rc h f o r t r u t h .
As frontiersw om an and
" n atu ral genius" she w asted much e f f o r t , w ent over ground th a t had a lr e a d y
been gone o v e r .
For exam ple, i t i s a g r e a t p i t y th a t Mary A u stin d id not
know t h a t her d o c tr in e o f i n t u i t i v e th in k in g was but t h e e ig h te e n th -c e n tu r y
d o c tr in e o f " n atu ral g en iu s" ; t h a t her wakonda was but Cosmic C o n sc io u sn e ss,
which was in tu rn but a r o m a n tic, p a n t h e is t ic co n o ep t, w h ich , a g a in in
tu r n , was but n e o -P la to n ism w ith th e a d d itio n o f some S h a ftesb u ry ia n se n ­
361
tim e n ta lis m .
Such knowledge would have shown h er t h a t , by d e v io u s , t o r ­
t u o u s , and d i f f i c u l t p a th s she had a r r iv e d a t one among many p h ilo s o p h ic a l
r e a d in g s o f t h e n atu re o f t h in g s .
A c h ild o f th e rom antic movement, she
had a l l th e b o ld n e ss o f th e p io n e e r in con tem p tu ou sly th row ing away th e
p a s t , w h ich i s , from one p o in t o f v ie w , a v e r y stu p id t h in g t o do; th e
b o ld n e s s , t o o , o f an Emerson in s e a r c h in g out f o r h e r s e l f h er r e la t io n t o
th e A l l , w hich i s , a t c e r t a in t im e s , a v e r y good t h in g t o d o.
The fundam ental c r ee d o f such d e v o te e s o f o r i g i n a l i t y i s w e l l put
in th e f i r s t paragraph o f Emerson’ s "Nature?:
Our age i s r e t r o s p e c t i v e . I t b u ild s t h e se p u lc h r e s o f t h e
f a t h e r s . I t w r ite s b io g r a p h ie s , h i s t o r i e s , and c r i t i c i s m . The
fo r e g o in g g e n e r a tio n s b eh eld God and n atu re fa c e t o f a c e ; w e,
th rou gh t h e i r e y e s . Why should n o t we a l s o e n jo y an o r ig i n a l
r e la t io n t o t h e u n iv e r se ? Vftiy sh o u ld n o t we have a p o e try and
a p h ilo so p h y o f i n s ig h t and n o t o f t r a d i t i o n , and a r e l i g i o n by
r e v e la t io n t o u s , and n o t t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e ir s ? Embosomed fo r
a se a so n in n a tu r e , whose flo o d s o f l i f e stream around and througji
u s , and i n v i t e u s by th e powers th e y s u p p ly , t o a c t io n p rop ortion ed
t o n a tu r e , why sh ou ld we grope among th e d ry bones o f t h e p a s t , or
j?ut th e l i v i n g g e n e r a tio n in to masquerade out o f i t s fhded wardrobe?
The sun s h in e s to -d a y a l s o . There i s more wool and f l a x in th e
f i e l d s . There a r e new la n d s , new men, new th o u g h ts . Let us demand
our own works and law s and w o rsh ip .
The c e n tr a l p o in t t o be determ ined in e v a lu a tio n o f Nary A u s tin ,
th e n , i s w hether or n o t she c o n tr ib u te d w o r b h ily t o "our own works and
laws and w o rsh ip ."
In th e lo n g b a t t l e fo r American c u l t u r a l in d ep en d en ce,
fo r th e e s t a b l i s h in g on t h i s c o n tin e n t by t h i s m ixture o f r a c e s a c u ltu r e
in k e e p in g w ith th e n atu re o f t h i s land and i t s problem s — how much d id
Kary A u stin c o n tr ib u te ?
Of what im p ortan ce, i n s h o r t, a r e Nary A u s t in ’ s
a tte m p ts t o f o r e c a s t and guide a movement towards an American " a c c u ltu r a ­
tio n " ?
A l l her work had i t s p la c e in her mind a s p a rt o f such an a ttem p t;
i t i s t h e r e f o r e f a i r t o judge her by t h e c r i t e r i a she s e t fo r h e r s e l f .
362
She does n o t , on th e w h o le , e x e r t an y great fo r c e in any d ir e c ­
tio n .
Even t o p erso n s who know her w orks, she does n o t stand fo r any
s in g le id e a , any c o n s is t e n t p h ilo so p h y .
She e n e r g iz e d no id ea or movement.
The w hole e f f e c t o f her w r it in g s i s c o n fu sio n and in c o n s is t e n c y .
Em erson's
d ictu m on c o n s is t e n c y as th e h ob g o b lin o f l i t t l e minds i s o n ly a b r i l l i a n t
h a l f - t r u t h , f o r g rea t p rop h ets have been n o ta b ly c o n s is t e n t ,
i'ary A u stin
i s known t o some as th e h e r a ld o f an American a c c u lt u r a t io n ; t o o t h e r s ,
a s a g r e a t m y stic who b e lie v e d in f a it h - h e a li n g ; t o o th e rs as an am using,
e r r a t ic g e n iu s; t o o t h e r s , a s a c o ll e c t o r o f f o lk m a te r ia ls and a champion
o f th e h a n d ic r a fts and f o lk a r t s .
But she i s n o t , a p p a r e n tly , a l i v i n g
symbol o f a g r e a t tr u th t o anybody, a s Emerson was or as Whitman w as.
As
a p r o p h e te ss — t h e b a s is on w hich sh e w ished t o be adjudged — she i s
a lr e a d y dead .
C e r ta in a b e r r a tio n s k e p t Hary A u stin from b e in g c o n s is t e n t , w h o le,
e ffe c tiv e .
A l l th e s e are a t t r ib u t a b le t o one c e n t r a l e r ro r :
her over­
em p hasizing th e im portance o f c e r t a in p e r s o n a l problem s, o r , t o put i t
a n oth er way, her i n a b i l i t y t o be o b j e c t iv e or t o see beyond her p r iv a te
m a la ise or th row o f f th e c o n t r o l o f her p r e p o s s e s s io n s .
two g r e a te s t problem s w ere:
To her m ind, th e
(1 ) th e problem o f m arriage and th e e v a lu a tio n
o f woman a s a member o f s o c i e t y , and (2 ) t h e problem o f f in d in g som ething
in t h e u n iv e r se t o a ssu r e man o f h i s p la c e and im portance.
She did
n o t a t t a c k th e s e problem s from a broad enough base t o come anywhere near
b e in g a g r e a t p r o p h e te s s .
Her a t t a c k on th e f i r s t problem was from a p u r e ly
p e r so n a l b a se ; and i n s o lu t io n o f th e second problem , she d e f i n i t e l y to o k an
e a sy way o u t.
'..hat i s w o rse, she in tru d ed t h e s e two o b s e s s io n s in t o e v e r y th in g .
363
As w r i t e r , she f a i l s b e c a u se , h avin g t r i e d t o be a p r o p h e te ss and
h avin g f a i l e d in t h a t f u n c t io n , her w r it in g has no o th e r v a lu e s or mean­
in g s on which i t may s ta n d .
w r i t i n g .)
(Some e x c e p tio n must be made f o r her nature
Hers i s a m a g n ific e n t f a i l u r e , b ecause she a ttem p ted so much,
b u t a f a i l u r e n e v e r t h e le s s .
D e s p ite h er v a lia n t a tte m p ts t o d is t in g u is h
an American a e s t h e t i c s , she has le f b no r e a l l y g r e a t example o f sh o rt s to r y
or poem.
Her n o v e ls a r e t h e s i s - r i d d e n , c o n fu se d , and i n c o n s is t e n t ; and th e
c h a r a c te r s in them are m ain ly a b s t r a c t io n s .
in c o n c lu s iv e and n o t h ig h ly o r i g i n a l .
w r it in g a lo n e .
Her t r a c t s or t r e a t i s e s are
She w i l l have t o sta n d on her n atu re
In th a t genre she w i l l have t o stan d on power o f ob serva­
t i o n , b ea u ty o f s t y l e , and t h e r ig h tn e s s and b alan ce o f her p o e t ic f e e l i n g
f o r th e grandeur o f n a tu r e .
S in c e th e l a t t e r elem en t i s somewhat con fu sed
w ith her l i t e r a l m y s t ic a l f a i t h , some o f t h e n a tu re w r it in g w i l l n o t l a s t .
I t i s e n t i r e l y p o s s ib le th a t o n ly The land o f L i t t l e Rain and The F lo c k
w i l l be remembered.
T h is i s a harsh e s t im a t e , and th e r e a so n i s t h a t Rary A u s tin , w ith
her im perious manner, h er p r o p h e tic p o s e , h er b o ld g e n e r a liz a t io n s , demands
c a t e g o r ic a l tr e a tm e n t.
she i s i n e f f e c t u a l .
The o n ly p o s s ib le c a t e g o r ic a l c o n c lu s io n i s t h a t
She i s n o t a great w r i t e r , w hich i s n o t t o sa y t h a t
h ers was n o t a n o b le l i f e , f u l l o f s tr u g g le and courage; or t h a t , in an
everyd ay s e n s e , she d id n o t have v a lu a b le i n s i g h t s , make w orthw h ile c r i t i ­
c is m s , or engage in w orthw h ile a c t i v i t i e s .
her m ite and m ore.
As a c t i v e r e g i o n a l i s t , sh e did
But th e land s t i l l w a its f o r t h a t prophet who, by h i s
v i s i o n , w i l l s e t t h e p eop le on th e road t o f u lf ilm e n t o f llary A u s t in ’ s
momentary and w averin g v i s i o n o f th e American " a c c u lt u r a t io n .”
APPENDIX I
MARY AUSTIN'S INTEREST IN MEXICO
From 1912 t o 1918, by her own a c c o u n t, Mary A u stin m s back and
f o r t h betw een Carmel and hew York.
She knew Mabel Dodge, a t whose house
she p rob ab ly m et, among o t h e r s , ViaI t e r Lippmann, John Reed, and L in coln
S te ffe n s.
1
h e r .1
At any r a t e , by 1911, S t e f f e n s had w r itt e n an a r t i c l e about
O
Vfhether Mary A u stin knew John Reed or n o t , she c e r t a i n l y knew about
him , fo r he i s u n d oubtedly Adam Frear o f h er No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t (1 9 2 0 );
and w h ile in t h a t n o v e l Adam F rear*s i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y tow ards a woman he
has been in lo v e w ith i s under a t t a c k , t h e book n e v e r t h e le s s shows much
in flu e n c e o f some r a d ic a l id e o lo g y o f th e tim e , a s does her The Young
Woman C it iz e n ( 1 9 1 8 ).
In so f a r a s Mary A u stin a c c e p te d s o c i a l i s t i c id e a s
and became c r i t i c a l o f th e p a tte r n o f econom ic o r g a n iz a tio n in American
l i f e , she was in flu e n c e d by th e l i b e r a l s and r a d ic a ls o f Mabel Dodge’ s
c ir c le .
And her p a r t ic u la r i n t e r e s t in M exico seems t o have come d i r e c t l y
from John Reed, whose a r t i c l e s on th e M exican r e v o lu t io n in The M etro p o lita n
in 1914 were th e j o y o f Lippmann, S t e f f e n s , and many o t h e r s .
I t was in 1914, t h e n , t h a t Mary A u s tin lea rn ed t o th in k o f Mexico
as a lan d o f in c o r r i g ib l e communalism w h ich v,as m isund erstood by im p e r ia l­
is tic -m in d e d A m ericans.
L a te r , a s she lea r n e d o f t h e In d ian s t r a i n in
M exico’ s p o p u la tio n and saw th e Indian v i l l a g e w ith i t s communally-owned
s t r i p s o f la n d , t h e e j i d o s ,a s t h e fundam ental p a tte r n o f 2Iexican s o c i a l
^ L in coln S t e f f e n s , "Mary A u stin ," American M agazine, LXXXII(1911), 4 7 ^ Mary A u s t in , Barth H orizon (B oston and New York, 1932) does n o t
m ention Reed.
365
o r g a n iz a tio n , she th o u g h t she saw in Mexico th e p a tte r n t h a t was r ig h t
fo r th e w hole c o n t in e n t .
I t was John Reed who s t a r t e d h er o f f .
Once
Reed w itn e s s e d a perform ance o f Los_ P a sto re s ( a f o lk p la y ) in Santa Maria
d e l Oro, and w rote e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y o f i t a s "the kind o f th in g w h ich had
*2
preceded th e Golden Age o f th e T heatre in E urope."
Even Mary A u s t in 's
la t e r p a s s io n fo r M exican and hew Mexican f o l k a r t s owed som ething t o
Reed and o th er rom antic r e v o lu t io n a r ie s o f th e 1914-1920 e r a .
Reed, how­
e v e r , saw t h a t M e x ic o 's golden age was swamped in "the g r e a t s e a s o f
modern l i f e ~
m achinery, s c i e n t i f i c th o u g h t, and p o l i t i c a l th e o r y ."
4
Mary A u stin n ev er s e r i o u s l y a tta c k e d th a t problem .
In 1914, John Reed was con vinced t h a t meddlesome Americans were
about t o s p o i l a r e v o lu tio n in M exico t h a t was t o b r in g g r e a t t h in g s .
In
1 916, Mary A u stin was a s k in g Americans n o t t o i n t e r f e r e in M ex ico 's e f f o r t
t o a c h ie v e " r e lig io u s freedom , r e p r e s e n t a tiv e governm ent, and a s o lu tio n
o f her i n d u s t r i a l and econom ic problems in lin e w it h th e temperament and
c a p a c it y o f her people."®
John Reed th ou gh t V i l l a n o t a b a n d it , but a
g r e a t hum anitarian g iv in g le a d e r s h ip t o th e d e e p e s t n a t io n a l im p u lse s.
Mary A u stin in 1920 h e ld t h a t th e s o - c a lle d b a n d itr y o f t h e M exicans and
t h e i r ap p aren t i n a b i l i t y t o h old an h o n est e l e c t i o n were n o t worse th an
th e "deadlock o f i r r e c o n c ila b le l e g i s l a t i v e and e x e c u tiv e in ten tio n s" ®
G r a n v ille H ic k s, John Reed, th e Making o f a R e v o lu tio n a r y (llew
York, 1 9 3 7 ), p . 123.
4 I b id *
® Mary A u s t in , "Mexico f o r t h e M e x ic a n s,11 Yforld O utlook, I I (Deoember,
1 9 1 6 ), 6 - 7 .
® Mary A u s t i n , "The S i t u a t i o n i n S o n o r a ," R a t io n , CX (1 9 2 0 ) , 6 8 0 -6 8 1 .
I
366
■which t h e government o f th e U n ited S t a t e s o f te n s u f f e r s u n d er.
She echoes
R eed 's fe a r o f th e s h o r t- s ig h te d American b u s in e s s m ind, h o ld in g t h a t th e
U n ited S t a te s m ight t r y am icab le r e la t io n s and equable econom ic exchange,
u n le s s "American b u s in e s s has a lr e a d y reach ed t h a t f u s s y c o n d itio n o f
m idd le age in which i t can do b u s in e s s o n ly in i t s own wayj and i f th a t
i s t h e c a s e , i t w i l l meet th e i n e v it a b l e d e fe a t o f m iddle age in a ttem p t­
in g t o p r e s c r ib e th e procedure o f d e v e lo p in g n a t i o n a l i t i e s ." ^
In A u gust,
1920, she reprehended t h e " p o c k e t-sh o r t v is io n " o f Vfe.ll S t r e e t in i n t e r ­
f e r in g when th e P r e sid e n t and th e Department o f S t a te had endeavored t o
make an honorable purchase o f Lower C a lif o r n ia .
How t h a t De la Huerta
had sen t tr o o p s in t o Baja C a lifo r n ia t o q u e ll an u p r is in g under Cantu,
i t was to o l a t e , Mrs. A u stin h e ld , t o b id f o r t h e t e r r i t o r y w ith o u t danger
o f m isunderstood m o tiv e s.
8
Most o f her pronouncem ents on M exico, i t i s t r u e , a r e d ated 1920;
but her con cep t o f a s o c i a l i z e d M exico had been g iv en t o h er p r e v io u s ly
by Reed, Lippmann, and S t e f f e n s .
Sometime s h o r tly a f t e r her s e r i e s o f t h r e e a r t i c l e s in The H a tio n ,
Mary A u stin co n ferred w ith r e v o lu tio n a r y r e p r e s e n t a tiv e s from M exico.
"On
one o f t h e s e o c c a sio n s o f sto p p in g o f f in Albuquerque [[when c r o s s in g th e
c o n tin e n t J I had an appointm ent t o meet a g e n ts o f th e M exican R e v o lu tio n .
I had w r itt e n s e v e r a l a r t i c l e s f o r The H ation and a t t r a c t e d th e a t t e n t io n
o f t h e R e v o lu t io n is t s .
7
I d o n 't know who th e p eo p le were t h a t I m et; I am
Mary A u s tin , "Wanted:
A Hew Method in M exico," R a tio n , CX (1 9 2 0 ),
22 8 -2 2 9 .
g
Mary A u s t i n , "Cantu i n B aja C a l i f o r n i a ," N a t io n , CXI ( 1 9 2 0 ) , 1 8 4 .
Q
A u s t in , B a rth H o r iz o n , p . 3 3 6 .
367
sure t h e y gave me f a l s e nam es. . . .
What t h e y wanted o f me was a p e r so n a l
commitment t o p r iv a te phases o f r e v o l t , and u n lim ite d p u b lic ity .* '®
Most
i n t e r e s t i n g i s t h e in tim a tio n t h a t th e Hat io n a r t i c l e s were " p u b lic it y ? :
"I w ish you would a sk some o f t h e Mexican r e v o l u t i o n i s t s you meet i f t h e y
know me.
I d id p u b l i c i t y fo r some o f them betw een t h e two G a rra n zista
r e v o lu t io n s , and had a co n feren ce w ith a group o f them in Albuquerque, but
I was a lw ays c e r t a in t h a t th e names th e y gave me were assumed; I d o n 't
r e a l l y know who t h e y a r e . "10
I f she "did p u b l i c i t y fo r some o f them ," i t
was o n ly i n th e a r t i c l e s here m en tioned, f o r th e r e are no oth er a r t i c l e s
on M exico, u n le s s she used a pseudonym.
Mary A u stin had M exico’ s communalism in mind when she engaged in
th e Boulder Dam f i g h t from 1925 t o 1927.
A ls o t h e deep d i s l i k e o f ch ar­
a c t e r i s t i c "economic and b u s in e s s p r in c ip le s " which she had d e r iv e d from
Mabel Dodge’ s c i r c l e was c a r r ie d over in t o th e f i g h t .
When M exican s o ­
c ia lis m began t o r e c o g n iz e o f f i c i a l l y su ch a r t i s t s a s Orozco and R iv e r a ,
and when Mary A u stin lea r n e d t h a t R iv e r a , f o r a l l h is Ivlarxism, was an
In d ian and was e x p r e s s in g a p r e -S p a n ish fe a tu r e of M exican p sy c h o lo g y ,
her en th u siasm knew no bounds.
Mexico became her symbol o f hope.
v i s i t e d R ivera in 1930 in C u ern a v a ca .H
She
A lm ost th e l a s t words o f E arth
H orizon r e f l e c t th e power w hich M exico a s symbol o f a c r e a t iv e , communal
s o c i e t y had lo n g h e ld fo r h e r .
i s made up o f two sp le n d o r s:
Q
"I have se en t h a t th e American achievem en t
. . .
th e power t o make and do r a th er than
A u s t in , Earth H orizon, p . 3 3 6 .
1® L e tte r o f Mary A u stin t o Carey M cW illiam s, A p r il 2 , 1930.
E arth H orizon, p . 36 5 .
368
m erely t o p o s s e s s , th e a r is t o c r a c y o f c r e a t iv e n e s s j and t h a t oth er sp len d or
o f r e a l i z i n g th a t in th e d e e p e st la y e r s o f o u r s e lv e s we a r e in c u r a b ly c o l ­
l e c t iv e ." " ^
Those a r e f in e w ord s, but a s shoum in th e d is c u s s io n o f Mary
A u stin a s p ro p h etess she co u ld n o t keep t h a t v i s i o n d e a r .
N e v e r th e le s s
she had i t ; and i t came o r i g i n a l l y , t o a g r e a t e x t e n t , from John Reed.
12 I ^ id .* P* 368*
APPENDIX I I
THE OWENS VALLEY WATER FIGHT
The s to r y o f Mary A u stin * s i n t e r e s t in t h e Owens V a lle y w ater f i g h t ,
which i s somewhat p a r a l l e l t o t h e s it u a t io n
i n The F ord, i s a lon g one.
Earth H orizon s k e tc h e s th e Owens V a lle y a f f a i r c o n c is e l y .
In J u ly , 1903,
th e N a tio n a l R eclam ation Bureau o f th e U n ited S t a t e s Department o f th e
I n t e r io r began su rveys and in v e s t ig a t io n s f o r r e c la m a tio n o f a r id land in
Inyo C ounty.
But a l l th e t im e , th e c h i e f o f f i c e r o f th e Owens V a lle y p r o je c t
th e th e c h i e f e n g in e e r , M u llh o lla n d , had b e e n working t o secu re a w ater
su p p ly f o r Los A n g e le s .
Suddenly th e R eclam ation Bureau went over t o th e
Los A n g eles s id e o f t h e c a s e .
A l l t r a n s f e r s o f t i t l e s and w ater r ig h t s th a t
had been made t o th e R eclam ation Bureau, were handed on by th e l a t t e r t o th e
C it y o f Los A n g e le s .
I t was a com plete b e tr a y a l o f th e p eop le o f Owens V a lle y .
S ta ffo r d Vv. A u stin p r o te s te d t o th e R eclam ation Bureau i n W ashington, t o no
a v a il.
One lo n e man in Los A n g e le s , Sam C lo v e r , an independent newspaper
man, p r o t e s t e d .
Mrs. A u stin to o k some p art in th e p r o t e s t , but th e r e was
l i t t l e t o be done.
A "Voice” t o l d her t o le a v e Owens V a lle y .^
The l e t t e r s t h a t S . ¥ . A u stin w rote t o 'Washington were composed w ith
h i s w i f e ’ s a id and encouragem ent.
"As f o r th e l e t t e r s Mr. A u stin w rote
about th e Owens R iver a f f a i r , o f cou rse I had a hand in them.
t i r e l y agreed on t h a t m a tte r .
We were en­
In f a c t , I d is c o v e r e d th e tr o u b le b e fo r e
anyone e l s e , and Mr. A u stin d id e v e r y th in g in h i s power t o arou se th e V a lle y ,
but th e t h in g seemed so m onstrous t o them t h a t th e y th o u g h t I must be m is-
Mary A u s t i n , E arth H o rizo n (B o sto n and New Y ork, 1 9 3 2 ), p . 3 0 8 .
370
ta k en .
S in g u la r ly , my g i f t o f p r e v is io n has n ever been o f th e s l i g h t e s t
u se t o me or anyone e l s e . ”** That th e r e -were such l e t t e r s from t h e A u stin s
t o th e R eclam ation Bureau i s proved by th e f o llo w in g :
” . . .
in going
over H ordskog's m ss. (r e f e r r e d t o l a t e r ) I had read s e v e r a l l e t t e r s , c o p ied
in t h e m a n u scrip t, by Mr. A u s tin , w r it t e n when he was land a g e n t in Owens
V a lle y , t o o f f i c i a l s in W ashington, denouncing most e m p h a tic a lly t h e t e r ­
r i b l e frau d t h a t was worked on th e p eop le o f Owens V a lle y .
The Hordskog h ere m entioned was Andre Hordskog, o f Los A n g e le s , C a li­
f o r n ia , who had p rep ared , by 1929, a f u l l accou n t o f th e Owens V a lle y be­
tr a y a l.
H is m anuscript was n ev er p u b lis h e d , but Mary A u stin heard o f i t ^
and became e x c e e d in g ly in t e r e s t e d in i t .
On December 2 5 , 1929, she had n o t
y e t se e n th e m a n u scrip t, but sh e had th e fo llo w in g a d v ic e t o o f f e r : '
”1 sug­
g e s t s ^ sic^j t h a t he send i t t o a r e g u la r p u b lis h e r , but i f t h e r e i s a s
much dynam ite in i t as you s a y , p o s s ib ly i t would be b e t t e r t o have i t pub­
l is h e d in A r iz o n a . . . .
and t o le a v e L.A.
Urge him Qhordskog] t o g e t i t out one way or a n o th e r ,
Of co u rse t h e y w i l l g iv e him a bad t im e .
A ls o a d v is e
him t o put h i s n o te s and a copy o f t h e MB where i t c a n 't be s t o l e n or de­
s tr o y e d .
He i s d e a lin g w ith men who a p p a r e n tly s t i c k a t n o th in g .
A lso t o
g e t two or t h r e e advance c o p ie s t o me and I w i l l guarrantee £ s i c j t h a t P r e s i­
d en t Hoover g e ts one under such circu m sta n ces t h a t he c a n 't a v o id read in g
i t . ”5
^ L e tte r o f Mary A u stin t o Carey M cW illiam s, o f Los A n g e le s , C a l i ­
f o r n ia , December 22, 1929.
3
L e tte r o f C arey McWilliams t o th e a u th o r , June 2 5 , 1937.
^ She lea rn ed o f i t from M cW illiam s. The rema in in g f a c t s about
Hordskog and h i s m anuscript are ta k e n from v a r io u s l e t t e r s o f Mrs. A u stin
t o Carey M cW illiam s.
5
L e t t e r o f Mary A u s tin t o C. M cW illiam s, December 2 5 , 1 9 2 9 .
371
A few days la t e r M rs. A u stin w anted a copy o f th e m anusoript t o show
t o "a man in p u b lic l i f e " whom sh e had in t e r e s t e d in th e a f f a i r .
warned t h a t Hordskog sh ou ld be c a r e f u l .
a u th o rs o f books o f t h i s ch aracter." ®
" . . .
Again she
I know what can happen t o
Soon she was im p a tien t becau se Hord-
skog d ela y ed g e t t i n g h i s m anusoript t o h e r .
The "man in p u b lic l i f e " l o s t
i n t e r e s t ; M rs. A u stin a d v is e d t h a t Hordskog ta k e h i s m a te r ia l t o whoever
had A r iz o n a 's p u b li c it y f o r Boulder Dam in c h a r g e .
was "daft"^ b ecau se he n e v e r d id t h i s .
H ordskog, she f e l t ,
She t r i e d t o g et S i n c la i r Lewis t o
tu r n th e m a te r ia l in t o a n o v e l, she t r i e d t o g e t ViaIter Lippmann t o pub­
l i s h H ordskog's d is c lo s u r e s s e r i a l l y in The World, she had th e fir m o f
Knopf read th e m a t e r ia l.
By A p r il 2 , 1930, she f e l t th a t Hordskog had
r u in e d h i s ch an ces w ith "the man in p u b lic l i f e "
(S en ator Bronson M. C u ttin g
o f Hew M e x ic o ), who, f o r some r e a s o n , had n o t , a f t e r a l l , l o s t a l l i n t e r e s t .
"P ub lic men a r e alw ays a f r a id o f th e to o t a l k a t i v e r e fo rm er.
and I have done a l l th a t co u ld be e x p e c te d o f u s .
However, you
I f he Q iord sk ogj f a i l s
u t t e r l y t o p la c e th e m a n u scrip t, th e n I m ight buy i t from him and m k e a
n ovel of i t .
But do n o t m ention t h i s u n t i l you a r e su re he has a c cep ted
t h e id e a o f f a ilu r e ." ®
Ho more i s s a id o f Hordskog.
how ever, may r e f e r t o him .
One c r y p t ic q u e s t io n ,
"What became o f our f r i e n d , th e Squarehead?"
she ask ed o f McWilliams on January 1 3 , 1931.
Mr. McWilliams i s unable t o
remember p r e c i s e l y whom she had r e fe r e n c e t o .
Her i n t e r e s t in H ordskog's m anuscript on t h e Owens Y a lle y a f f a i r i s
e x a c t l y p a r a l l e l t o her i n t e r e s t in L ouis Adamic when she lea rn ed th a t
g
I b i d . , January 3 , 1930.
7 5 jb id ., February 1 , 1930.
8 I b i d . , A p r il 2 , 19 3 0 .
r
!
372
Adamic’s p u b lis h e rs had made him omit th e ch ap te r on Owens V alley from
q
Dynamite. She sen t Adamic t o W alter Lippmann and o th er e d ito r s ," as she
had t r i e d
t o do w ith th e a p p a re n tly r e c a l c i t r a n t Hordskog.
A concise account of th e Owens V alley a f f a i r from a p o in t of view
other than Mrs. A u stin ’ s i s in o rd e r.
In a l e t t e r to th e a u th o r, Mr. Carey
McVfilliams, who had, o f c o u rse, seen Hordskog’ s d is c lo s u re s , and who is a
c lo se frie n d of Louis Adamic, r e la te s th e fo llo w in g item s which are n o t to
be found in Mrs. A u s tin 's account in B arth H orizon.
The ag en ts who bought
up options and p r io r w ater r ig h ts in Owens V alley were s e c r e tly in league
w ith o f f i c i a l s o f th e Los Angeles w ater departm ent and th e p ro p r ie to r of
th e Los Angeles Times.
To c re a te an a r t i f i c i a l w ater sh o rtag e and im ple­
ment th e $23,000,000 bond is s u e , th e c o n sp ira to rs dumped w ater from c i t y
sto rag e tanks in to th e ocean.
The w ater f i n a l l y brought from Owens V alley
by aqueduct was used la rg e ly t o i r r i g a t e lands n ear Los A ngeles, in the
San Fernando V a lle y , which th e c o n sp ira to rs had bought up a t low p ric e s
b efo re beginning a g ita tio n f o r in c re ase o f th e c i t y 's w ater su p p ly .
The
Owens V alley p ro je c t i s now adm itted t o have been an e n g in eerin g m istak e,
more adequate su p p lie s o f w ater e x is tin g n e a re r th e c i t y .
Another item which Mrs. A ustin does not m ention i s t h a t th e case
went u ltim a te ly to P re sid e n t Theodore R o o sev elt, who, a f t e r lis t e n in g to
re p re s e n ta tiv e s o f th e farm ers of Owens V a lley , p erem p to rily s a id t h a t he
wanted i t fix e d so t h a t Los Angeles could get w ater from Owens V alley .
He
b elie v ed in th e g re a te s t good fo r th e g r e a te s t number, he s a i d , 10 n o t r e a l ® See Louis Adamic, My America, 1928-1S38 (Hew York, London, 1938),
pp. 56-57.
1® See Helen M. Doyle, Mary A u stin , Yfoman o f Genius (Hew York, 1939),
p. 218. Dr. Doyle does n o t d is c lo s e th e source o f h e r in fo rm atio n .
373
iz in g th a t th e g re a te s t number in t h i s case were re p re se n te d by unscrupulous
schem ers.
Mary A u s tin 's rev iv ed i n t e r e s t in th e Owens V alley a f f a i r so many
years a f t e r th e a c tu a l event was no doubt due t o h er f e e lin g t h a t Nemesis
was bound to overtake Los Angeles sooner or l a t e r .
She f e l t to o t h a t th e
Boulder Dam s e ttle m e n t o f 1927, lik e th e Owens V alley c a se , was bu t another
v ic to r y of commercial sh o rt-s ig h te d n e s s over common sen se.
Her f ig h t to
d is c lo s e th e p a r a lle lis m o f th e two cases i s one of th e b e st cru sad es in
h er l i f e .
APPENDIX I I I
IAl'BS, PROSE,
I illi)
FREE VERSE
Mary A u s tin 's a s s e r tio n t h a t h e r prose f e l l n a tu r a lly in to th e
rhythm o f "th e tu g and r e le a s e o f th e fo u r horse Mojave sta g e and o f th e
eighteen-m ule borax team;"-*- t h a t L in c o ln 's prose rhythm was determ ined
by h is e a r ly l i f e in th e woods) t h a t D iokens' love o f th e people oaused
h is rhythm s, a ls o , t o ta k e on a f r e e and demoo r a t i o swing — th e se id e a s
a re so f a n c if u l a s n o t t o need r e f u ta ti o n .
::ne oan n e v e rth e le s s p o in t out
t h a t when th e prose rhythms o f Mary A u stin , L in co ln , o r Diokens f a l l out
in any determ inable p a tte r n o f re c u rre n c e , th e p a tte r n i s b u t a su cc e ssio n
of iambs*
This i s no rem arkable d isc o v e ry , o f course) i t has been f r e ­
q u e n tly n o ted th a t im passioned p ro se i s iambio*
more lambs in su ccessio n th e worse th e prose*
G en erally sp eak in g , th e
One oan scan whole pages o f
Robert I n g e rs o ll in iambic fe e t*
These f a o ts a r e ira n io a s f a r a s Mrs. A u s tin 's th e o r ie s a re concerned
She thought iambs a rhythm o f p r iv i le g e , a u s u rp a tio n , a b a le f u l C la s s io a l
influ en ce*
She thought t h a t in p e rio d s o f dem ocratic u p su rg e, a s in Diokens
or L in co ln *8 tim e , p ro se beoame fre e *
As a m atter o f f a c t , when p ro se de­
p a r ts from i t s norm ally ir r e g u la r rhythms ( in which re c u rre n ce o f p a tte r n
cannot be p l a t t e d ) , i t f a l l s most o fte n in to iam bios.
At l e a s t , Mrs*
A u s t in 's , L in c o ln '8 , and Diokens* prose does so*
In speaking o f h e r own prose Mrs. A ustin o bviously r e f e r s t o th e
opening sen tences o f h e r The land o f L i t t l e S a in .
Follow ing th e method o f
S a in ts b u ry , one oan mark Mrs* A u s tin 's sen ten ces a s fo llo w s i
* Mary A u stin , The American Rhythm (Boston and New York, 1980), p* 14
i
375
—
i
VI —
w
/
*
V*
I
.
\J
V>—
V I —
S
J
—
v
, —
w f —
tf
E a s t/ away/ from th e S i e r r a s , / so u th from P anam int/ and A m argosa,/
U
i
—
^
U
,
^
—
.1
v/
.
—
v
w
^
•—
—
•
<
J
e a s t and s o u th / many a n / uncounted m i l e , / i s th e Country o f / Lost B orders.
U t e ,/ F a i u t e , / M o jav e,/ and Shoshone/ in h a b it i t s / f r o n t i e r s /
VI
VI
—
.
to
VI
VI
VI-----------------------
u
,
«
VI
—
—
—
—
and a s f a r / in to th e h e a rt of i t / as a man/ dare g o ./
b u t th e la n d / s e ts th e l i m i t . /
V,
—
Hot th e la w ,/
D e s e rt/ is th e nam e/ i t w e a rs / u p o n /
th e m a p ,/ but th e I n /d ia n 's i s / th e b e t / t e r word.^
The l a s t sentence i s iambic except fo r a tro c h e e in th e beginning fo o t
and two an ap aests elsew here, a freedom o f s u b s titu tio n which would be allo w ­
ab le even in p o e try .
Other passages could a ls o be marked as iambic i f one
were w illin g to n e g le c t s u b tle tie s of s t r e s s .
There i s no oth er p a tte rn
of d e f in ite recu rren ce observable except th e se iambs.
D ickens' prose is n o to rio u s fo r i t s iambic rhythm s.
th i s prose becomes blank v e rs e .
At i t s w o rst,
A p a rt o f th e scene d e sc rib in g th e d eath
o f H ell in The Old C u rio s ity Shop is a good exam ple:
—
VI
/
M
.
VI
—
.
to!
—
.
Vl
-----------
.
—
"Vdiy d o s t/ thou l i e / so i d / l e t h e r e , / dear H e ll,"
VI
—
to*
\J
VI
VI
—
He.mur/mured, "when/ th e re a r e / b r ig h t r e d / b e r r ie s
Out o f / doors vra.it/ing fo r t h e e / t o p lu c k / them?
V
VI
---------
VI
/
U
—
V*
VI
—
Yihy
w
—
—
Dost thou l i e / so i d / l e t h e r e , / when th y l i t / t i e frie n d s
C l
I
VI
—
'
VI
—
-
.
—
VI
/
— —
VI
—
Come c re e p /in g t o / th e d o o r,/ c ry in g / 'YJhere i s lle ll —
Sweet H e l l ? '/ — and s o b / and w eep/ b e ca u se/ th e y do
Hot s e e / th e e .
u
.
VI
S h e / was al/w ays g e n /tle w ith c h il/d r e n .
VI
—
u
—
vi
v!
—
.
VI
—
VI
The w ild /e s t would do/ h er b id /d in g ; she h ad / a te n /d e r
—
VI
'—
.
V#
—«
VI
—
—
VI
*
—
VI
Way w ith th e m ,/ in d e e d / she h a d l’1/ K it h a d / no pow/er
to
.
To s p e a k ./
VI
—
V
I
—
VI
'
His e y e s / were f i l l e d / w ith t e a r s . . . . 3
^ Mary A u stin , The Land of L i t t l e Bain (Boston and Hew York, 1903), p . 3.
® C harles D ickens, The Old C u rio s ity Shop, Chapter DQCXI.
376
This i s n o t good blank v e rs e ; b u t i t i s so r e g u la r ly iambic t h a t
th e re i s l i t t l e d i f f i c u l t y in breaking i t in to lin e s of fiv e m e tric a l
fe e t.
And i t i s n o t only th e poorer passages of Dickens t h a t show t h i s
tendency.
P ro fesso r George S a in tsb u ry , a f t e r examining th e overtu re of
th e famous "Death of S te e rfo rth " in David C opperfieId (which passage
P ro fe sso r S a in tsb u ry co n sid ered th e b e st of D ickens’ attem p ts a t " rh e to ric
and p ro s e -p o e try " ), fo u n d ,in approxim ately 550 consecutive w ords, 230
s y lla b le s of alm ost unbroken iambs, y ie ld in g tw e n ty -th re e lin e s o f blank
v erse in groups o f fo u r, seven, one, two, two, tw o, fo u r, and one consecu­
t i v e lin e s .
S a in tsb u ry w r ite s , "How d i f f i c u l t i t is t o keep blan k v e rse
out o f 'numerous p r o s e ,' we have allow ed f u l l y and seen c o n s ta n tly . . . .
And th a t Dickens . . .
d is c u s s io n .
was a p t t o abuse i t , is s c a rc e ly m a tte r fo r serio u s
In t h i s passage I h a rd ly th in k th a t he can be f a i r l y charged
w ith abusing i t ; f o r , d e sp ite th e numerous and . . .
n o t seldom consecu­
t i v e examples, th e y a re o fte n ( i f s c a rc e ly always) re s o lv a b le in read in g
in to prose rhythm p ro p e r."
Whenever, in s h o rt, D ickens' s ty le d e p a rts
from th e rhythms o f prose i t goes in to b lan k v e rs e , n o t in to v e rs l i b r e .
IVith Lincoln th e m a tte r is more d i f f i c u l t .
The passage which Mrs.
A ustin q u o tes, in th e form in which she b reak s th e l i n e s , has e x c e lle n t
v a r ie ty of cadence:
The world w i l l l i t t l e note nor long remember
VJhat we say here :
But i t can never fo rg e t what th e y did h e re .
I t is r a th e r f o r us
Here t o be d e d ica te d to th e g re a t ta s k
Remaining b efo re u s ;
^ C-eorge S a in tsb u ry , A H isto ry of E n g lish Prose Rhythm (London, 1922),
pp. 3 8 0 -3 8 2 .
377
That government o f th e people
For th e people
By th e people
S h a ll n o t p e ris h from th e earth l®
This might pass f o r f a i r l y good fre e v e rse i f one did n o t know t h a t i t
•was o r ig in a lly meant f o r p la in p ro se ,
N e v e rth e le ss, on exam ination, t h i s
passage re v e a ls no d e f in ite re tu rn or re c u rre n ce o f any rhythm to give i t
th e mark of tru e v ers lib r e or "unrhymed cadence," except in th e l a s t c la u s e ,
which can b e , alth o u g h perhaps i t need n o t b e , re a d in s tr a ig h t iambs.
This is th e c la u se o f th e "G ettysburg Address" which rin g s most f a m ilia r ly
in every American e a r:
" • « . t h a t gov/-ernm ent o f / th e p e o /-p le , b y /
th e p e o /-p le , f o r / th e p e o /-p le , s h a l l / n<& p e r / - is h fro m / th e e a r th ."
One su sp e c ts t h a t th e rhythm o f t h i s c lau se was th e rhythm which Mary A ustin
thought was fr e e and which she thought d eriv ed from L in co ln ’s up b rin g in g
in th e woods.
I f Mrs. A u stin , however, had re fe re n c e n o t to such obviously rh y th m ical
passages as th o se here quoted, bu t t o passages which a re u s u a lly dism issed
as p la in p ro se , th en she is in th e p o s itio n o f arguing t h a t prose and fr e e
v e rse a re id e n t i c a l .
th e re is a d if f e r e n c e .
But, althou g h good prose and f r e e v erse a re a k in ,
Amy Lowell in s is t e d th a t th e organic rhythms of
unrhymed cadence " d if f e r from o rd in a ry p ro se rhythms in being more curved,
and c o n tain in g more stre ss,"® which i s b u t an o th er way o f saying t h a t un­
rhymed cadence or fr e e v erse has n o tic e a b le b u t n o t p e r f e c tly re g u la r r e ­
currence o f lik e rhythm ical elem en ts.
g
"Perhaps i t would be no in ju s tic e
L incoln, "G ettysburg A d d ress," as quoted in A u stin , The American
Rhythm (London, 1922), pp.
'•
6 Amy Lowell, Sword Blades and Poppy Seed (iTew York, 1919), p . x i .
378
to th e upholders o f fr e e v erse in i t s b e s t m a n ife sta tio n s to say t h a t ,
•while m eter re q u ire s t h a t beneath a l l v a ria tio n s- th e re g u la r b e at should
i
never be m issed, fre e v erse re q u ire s as much ^rhythm ( i . e . , r e g u la r ity
JVecurrence o f p a tte rn j^ a s i s p o ssib le w ith o u t i t s becoming p e r c e p tib le . " 7
M rs. A u s tin , i t ap p ea rs, d id n ot know th e d if f e r e n c e betw een f r e e
v e r s e and p r o s e , or th ou gh t t h a t iam bic m easures were a f r e e rhythm d e t e r ­
mined by b o r a x -h a u lin g , w eep in g, and w ood-chopping.
7 P . F . Baum, The P r in c ip le s o f E n g lish V e r s if i c a t io n (Cambridge,
M a ss., 1 9 2 9 ), p . 152.
APPENDIX IV
MARY AUSTIN AND ARISTOTLE
Oil "MIMESIS"
"This is th e co n ten t o f A r i s t o t l e 's 'i m i t a t i o n , ' a 'm aking' in to
■which en tered th e th e th re e fa c to rs w hich a re th e e s s e n tia ls of Amerind
v e rs e :
in te r n a l rhythm s, coo rd in ated by th e p re v a ilin g motor h a b it; ex­
t e r n a l rhythm s u b je c tiv e ly co o rd in ated ; r e a l iz a t io n by means o f c re a tiv e
m im esis,"^ Mary A u stin w ro te.
This im plied i d e n t if ic a t io n of Greek trag ed y
w ith a Pueblo dance fo r r a in challenges c r itic is m .
Mrs. A ustin could have found some commendation in A r is to tle , a s ,
f o r example, in t h i s :
"P oetry in g en eral seems to have sprung from two
c au ses, each of them ly in g deep in our n a tu re .
F i r s t , th e in s t i n c t of
im ita tio n i s im planted in man from childhood. . . he i s th e most im ita tiv e
of liv in g c r e a tu r e s , and through im ita tio n le a rn s h is e a r l i e s t le sso n s;
and no le s s u n iv e rs a l is th e p le a su re f e l t in th in g s i m ita te d ."2 A ls o ,.
" Im ita tio n , then is one in s t i n c t o f our n a tu r e .
Next, th e r e is th e in s t i n c t
f o r 'harmony' and rhythm, m eters being m a n ife stly s e c tio n s of rhythm.
P er­
sons, th e r e f o r e , s t a r t i n g w ith t h i s n a tu ra l g i f t developed by degrees t h e i r
s p e c ia l a p titu d e s , t i l l t h e i r rude im p ro v isatio n s gave b i r t h to P o etry .
A r i s t o t l e , however, im plies t h a t P oetry grows out o f th e im ita tiv e and
rhythm ic i n s tin c ts and i s n o t n e c e s s a rily th e re fo re to be id e n tif ie d w ith
th e e a r l i e s t e x p ressio n of th e se in s ti n c ts in p rim itiv e dance.
As Butcher
^ Mary A u stin , The American Rhythm (Boston and New York, 1930), p . 35.
2
A r i s t o t l e , P o e tic s , IV, 1 -2 , in S. H. B utcher, A r i s t o t l e 's Theory
of P oetry and Fine A rt (London, 1927), p . 15.
® I b i d . , IV , 6 , i n B u tc h e r , o p . c i t . ,
p p . 1 5 -1 7 .
380
s a y s , "The i n s t i n c t i v e lo v e o f m elody and rhythm i s , a g a in , one o f t h e two
c a u ses t o w h ich he t r a c e s th e o r ig in o f p o e t r y , hut he la y s l i t t l e s t r e s s
on t h i s elem en t in e s tim a tin g t h e f in is h e d p ro d u cts o f th e p o e tic a r t." ^
To Mrs. A u s t in ’ s mind, th e In d ian who p a in ted h im s e lf b la c k t o
r e p r e s e n t c lo u d s , who put w h ite s tr e a k s on th e b la c k t o r e p r e s e n t th e downp ouring o f r a in , who shook a gourd f i l l e d w ith p eb b les so t h a t th e sound
was l i k e th a t o f g e n t ly f a l l i n g r a in , who, in s h o r t , " se t up w ith in him­
s e l f t h e utm ost i n t e n s i t y o f r e a l i z a t i o n o f r a in o f w hich he was cap ab le" —
t h a t I n d ia n , t o h e r , was engaged i n A r is t o t e le a n "m im esis."
t i o n i s o b v io u s ly lim it e d .
Her con cep ­
T rue, i n one p la c e M rs. A u stin seems a lm ost t o
have fo llo w e d B u tch er’ s words:
"The common o r i g i n a l , t h e n , from w hich a l l
th e a r t s draw i s human l i f e , — i t s m en tal p r o c e s s e s , i t s s p i r i t u a l move­
ments , i t s outward a c t s is s u in g from deeper s o u r c e s }
in a word, a l l t h a t
c o n s t i t u t e s th e inward and e s s e n t i a l a c t i v i t y o f th e s o u l . "5
^Emphasis
su p p lie d .J On th e o th e r hand, i t i s a commonplace o f A r is t o t e le a n c r i t i ­
cism t h a t , in "m im esis," "there i s no q u e s tio n . . .
a l i t e r a l t r a n s c r ip t o f th e w orld o f r e a l i t y . "6
o f bare im it a t io n , o f
" . . .
a work o f a r t i s
a lik e n e s s or rep ro d u ctio n o f an o r i g i n a l , and n o t a sym b olic r e p r e s e n ta tio n
of it ." 7
The r a in d a n ce, w ith i t s m im etic g e s tu r e s and tr a p p in g s , i s sy m b o lic .
The t h r e e f o ld o b je c ts o f a e s t h e t ic i m it a t io n , a cco rd in g t o A r is ­
t o t l e , were " C h a r a c te r is tic m oral q u a l i t i e s , " T ra n sien t em o tio n s," and
4
B u tcher, op. o i t . , pp. 1 4 0 -1 4 1 .
5 I b i d . , p . 12 4 .
6
P» 122*
7 I b i d . , p . 124.
381
" a ctio n s in t h e i r proper and inward s e n s e .
lift
These elem en ts lea v e th e
p r im itiv e animism o f t h e In d ia n s thousands o f y e a r s b eh in d .
For A r is ­
t o t l e was concerned w it h t h e im it a t io n o f "men in a c tio n " ~
men whose
in s ig h t in t o th e r e la t io n s o f w i l l and f a t e was f a r more advanced than
th e I n d ia n s' " a f fe c tiv e " g e s tu r e s and a c t i v i t i e s .
The id e a o f b r in g in g
r a in or b r in g in g in t o a c t u a l i t y any oth er m a te r ia l d e s ir e by a co n c e n tr a ­
t i o n o f c o n s c io u s n e s s upon th e d e s ir e i s sim p ly to o crude an id e a t o be
charged t o A r i s t o t l e , f o r whom t h e a e s t h e t ic em otion was f r e e , an in d e ­
pendent a c t i v i t y , se v er e d "from m a te r ia l r e a l i t y and t h e co rresp o n d in g
w a n ts ."9
"Fine a r t s e t s p r a c t ic a l needs a s id e ; i t does n o t se ek t o a f f e c t
th e r e a l w o rld , t o m odify t h e a c t u a l . "10
i i r s . A u stin was so in v o lv e d in
h er n o tio n o f th e a f f e c t i v e n a tu r e o f In d ian dance (and p o e tr y ) t h a t she
d id n o t r e a l i z e she was in danger o f d en yin g i t t h e s t a t u s o f a f in e a r t .
I t i s p o s s ib le t h a t th e In d ian dance (w ith i t s p o e tr y ) i s s t r i k i n g l y
s im ila r t o Greek drama.
The dance f o r r a in in a pu eb lo i s perhaps more a
f r e e a e s t h e t ic a c t i v i t y th an i t i s an attem p t to " a ffe c t" th e Pow ers, has
more o f th e p la y q u a lit y and l e s s o f th e p r a g m a tic a lly p r a y e r fu l q u a l i t y
th a n l ir s . A u stin saw.
L ik e w ise , th e " p s y c h o lo g ic a l c o o r d in a tio n ," th e
" r a is in g o f th e p la n e o f c o n s c io u s n e s s ," w hich she m entions so o f t e n in
term s more r e m in isc e n t o f f a it h - h e a li n g th an o f a e s t h e t i c s , i s perhaps
a c t u a l l y n e a rer A r i s t o t l e ’ s k a th a r s is them she e v e r r e a l i z e d .
"Psycho­
l o g i c a l c o o r d in a tio n " t o h er o f te n means l i t e r a l l y th e a c h ie v in g o f power
8 I b i d . , P* 123.
9
^
I b id . , p . 128.
I b id ., p . 157.
382
t o b r in g down r a in , perform a c u r e , or d e f e a t an enemy, whereas a c t u a l l y
th e In d ian may g e t an " e ffe c t" much l i k e k a t h a r s is .
have n o th in g o f " e f f e c t s ."
But Mrs. A u stin would
She b e l i t t l e d t h e contem porary n on -In d ian
p o e tr y b ecau se i t m erely sought " e ff e c ts " and d id n o t c o o rd in a te s o c i e t y ,
put man in r e l a t i o n w ith th e A l l n e s s , or a f f e c t l i f e and th e Powers.
Of c o u r s e , Mrs. A u stin may be c o r r e c t in h er sta tem en t o f t h e i n ­
t e n t io n o f In d ian dance and p o e tr y .
A fte r a l l , th e In d ia n i s p r im itiv e
and may n o t be cap ab le o f p a r t ic i p a t i n g in an a e s t h e t i c a c t i v i t y f o r th e
e f f e c t i t w i l l produce u n le s s he can b e lie v e a l s o in c o n c r e te r e s u l t s f o l ­
low ing upon h is a c t i v i t y .
But i f t h i s i s t r u e , th e n h i s dance and p o e tr y
f a l l f a r sh o rt o f f u l l r e a l i z a t i o n o f "mimesis" in t h e h ig h e s t s e n s e .
APPENDIX V
‘'RE-EXPRESSION11 VERSUS TRANSIATION
One o f t h e s tr a n g e s t in c o n s is t e n c ie s in a l l o f Mary A u s t in 's work
occurs in The American Rhythm, where she com plains o f A lic e C. F le to h e r 's
method o f t r a n s l a t in g In d ia n p o e tr y , commends N a t a lie C u r tis B u r lin 's
m ethod, a d v o c a tes her own method o f f r e e r e - e x p r e s s io n , and th e n in her
own p r a c tic e p roceed s o f te n t o do v e r y much a s F le tc h e r and B u rlin d o.
F le t c h e r 's and B u r lin 's methods are e s s e n t i a l l y t h e same, and a r e d e c id e d ly
n o t Mrs. A u s t in 's method o f f r e e r e - e x p r e s s io n .
The purpose o f t h i s appendix i s t o show in some d e t a i l how a few w e l l known t r a n s la t o r s proceed in t h e ir work, and t o show how l i t t l e id ea o f th e
form al c h a r a c t e r is t ic s o f In d ian v e r se would be c o n tr ib u te d by a t r a n s la t o r
f o llo w in g Mrs. A u s t in 's recom m endations.
An a ttem p t t o s t a t e t h e cau se o f
M rs. A u s tin 's a b erra n t a t t i t u d e has a lr e a d y been made in t h e t e x t o f t h i s
s tu d y , Chapter V I.
A l i c e C. F le t c h e r ’ s volume on "The Hako"-*- i s an e n t i r e l y
a u t h o r it a t iv e work.
In a s e c t io n e n t i t l e d "Rhythmic E x p re ssio n in th e Cere­
mony, "2 she e x p la in s th a t once th e rhythm has been e s t a b l i s h e d , i t c o n tr o ls
b oth words and m u sic , and t h a t , in t u r n , "the words are found b en t by e l i s i o n s
or s tr e tc h e d by added v o c a b le s t o make them conform t o th e m u sic a l m easure."
L ik e w ise , Mrs. F le tc h e r e x p la in s , th e number o f m u sic a l phrases and th e
number o f sta n z a s i s determ ined by p u r e ly r i t u a l i s t i c c o n s id e r a t io n s , t h a t
A lic e C. F le t c h e r , The Hako: a_ Pawnee Ceremony, Bureau o f American
E th n ology, 22d Annual R ep o rt, P art I I (W ashington: Government P r in tin g
O f f ic e , 1 9 0 4 ).
^ I b i d . , pp. 2 8 2 -2 8 3 .
384
i s , "the number o f cerem o n ia l m otions u sed t o in d ic a t e th e powers which
a r e b e in g a d d r e ssed ."
She g iv e s th e e n t ir e cerem ony, i n Pawnee and th e n
in h e r own E n g lis h r e n d it io n .
The f i r s t song i s a s f o llo w s :
H o -o -o l.
I 'h a r e , 'h a r e , 'a h e l
I 'h a r e , 'h a r e , 'a h e l
Herul Awahokshu. He I
I 'h a r e , 'h a r e , ' a h e .3
Mrs. F le t o h e r 's t r a n s l a t io n i s :
We heed a s un to th e e we c a l l ;
Oh, send t o u s th y p o te n t a id !
Help u s , oh, h o ly p la c e above I
We heed a s un to th e e we c a l l .
Mrs. F le tc h e r has k ep t th e f u l l m elod ic l i n e , but has tu rn ed th e rhythm
in t o r e g u la r E n g lish iam bic t e t r a m e t e r s .
(She h a s , o b v io u s ly , om itted
th e op ening e x c la m a tio n .)
Another example i s "Song t o th e T rees and Stream s":
Wira u h a k i, w ira u h ak i;
Katuharu u h a k i, w ira u h a k i;
Katuharu u h a k i.
Jsecond sta n za m erely s u b s t it u t e s "Kichaharu" (strea m , r iv e r ) f o r "Katuharu.
Wira w ihaku, w ira wihaku;
Kichaharu w ih ak y, w ira wihaku;
Kichaharu w ihaku.
*2
From Mrs. F le t c h e r 's n o t e s ( i b i d . , p p. 2 7-36) one le a r n s t h a t
"Ho-o-oJ" i s a m ea n in g less excla m a tio n prolonged t o f i l l out th e m elodic
l i n e ; th a t " I ’h a r e ," "’h a r e ," "’a h e," and "he" a r e a l l v a r ia t io n s o f th e
same word, m eaning ro u g h ly " r e fle c t " or " co n sid er" ; th a t "Heru" i s an
e x c la m a tio n o f r e v e r e n t f e e l i n g ; and t h a t "Awahokshu" i s a com p osite or
h o lo p h r a s tic word m eaning "the h o ly p la c e where th e y t h e su p e r n a tu r a l
powers d w e ll." Thus i t can be se e n on what s l i g h t th ou gh t c o n ten t th e
sta n z a and even t h e w hole song a r e b u i l t , t h e su c c e e d in g tw e lv e sta n za s
m erely ch a n g in g , by in crem en ta l v a r i a t i o n , "Awahokshu" t o "Hotoru" (g iv e r
o f b r e a t h ) , "Shakuru" ( f a t h e r o f s t r e n g t h ) , e t c . , u n t i l t h ir t e e n h o ly
powers or h o ly t h in g s have been m en tion ed .
^ A l i c e C. F le t c h e r , op. c i t . , pp. 73 f f . Wira — s tr e t c h e d out a t
a d is t a n c e . Uhaki — som ething i n a l i n e . Katuharu - - t r e e s , tim b e r , w oods.
A rough l i t e r a l t r a n s l a t io n , t h e n , o f th e f i r s t sta n za would be:
385
M rs. F le t c h e r 's fr e e t r a n s l a t io n i s made t o conform t o th e m e lo d io ,
m u s ic a l, and rhythm ic p a tte r n o f th e o r i g i n a l , w hich p a tte r n she g iv e s
by a s p e c ia l system o f n o t a t io n .
A g a in , e v e r y ite m in th e rhythm ic p a t­
t e r n becomes a s y ll a b l e in Mrs. F le t c h e r ’ s r e n d e r in g .
Dark a g a in s t t h e sky yonder d is t a n t l i n e
L ie s b e fo r e u s . Trees we s e e , lo n g th e lin e o f t r e e s
B ending, sw aying in th e b r e e z e .
B righ t -with f la s h i n g l i g h t yonder d i s t a n t l in e
Runs b e fo r e u s , s w i f t l y r u n s , s w if t th e r iv e r r u n s ,
W inding, flo w in g o 'e r th e la n d .
Barkl oh h arkl A sound, yonder d is t a n t sound
Gomes t o g r e e t u s , s in g in g com es, s o f t th e r i v e r ' s so n g ,
R ip p lin g g e n t ly 'n ea th th e t r e e s .
The o r ig in a l i s alm ost pure im agism , and i f Mrs. A u stin had in tim a te d t h a t
Mrs. F le t c h e r 's expanded v e r s io n d e fe a te d th e c r is p im agery o f th e o r i g i n a l ,
M rs. A u s t in 's p o in t would have been a good one.
On th e oth er hand, Mrs.
F l e t c h e r 's v e r s io n u n d oubtedly g iv e s a b e t t e r im p ressio n o f th e rh y th m ica l
n atu re o f th e o r ig in a l th a n would a t r a n s l a t o r f o llo w in g Mrs. A u s t in 's
a d v ic e t o throw ou t th e r e p e t i t i o n s and " r e -e x p r e ss th e e x p e r ie n c e ."
The s l i g h t e s t in v e s t i g a t i o n o f N a ta lie C u r tis B u r lin 's p r a c t ic e s
r e v e a ls t h a t she u s e d , on th e w h o le, Mrs. F le t c h e r 's method, n o t th e f r e e r
method recommended by Mrs. A u stin .
M rs. B u r lin , t o o , f i l l s
out th e m elod ic
l i n e w ith m ean in gfu l B n g lis h words t o ta k e th e p la c e o f th e m ea n in g less or
h ig h ly r e p e t i t i o u s In d ian v o c a b le s .
The Kiowa "Wind Song" i s a s f o l l o w s :
A gu lk id e dogul-ongu
Ambonpoya, ambonpoya
D o g y a -h il
A gu lkide dogul-ongu
Ambonpoya, d o g y a -h it
i.'akon honde imp oya t o n t
-o -n o
Som ething s tr e tc h e d o u t, a l i n e a t a d is ta n c e —
T rees s tr e tc h e d o u t, a l i n e a t a d is ta n c e —
T rees i n a l i n e .
The d i f f i c u l t i e s a t r a n s l a t o r en cou n ters in such a h o lo p h r a s tic language
are o b v io u s.
386
Y ai-dahe-b a kuyol®
M rs. B u r lin 's f r e e t r a n s l a t io n f o llo w s :
0 you w a r r io r s , you have loved ones
Longing f o r y o u , lo n g in g f o r you;
R ich a r e y e .
0 you l o v e r s , you have maidens
Longing fo r you; none have I .
T h erefo re droop ye in s i l e n c e , so dow ncast?
Cheer your h e a r ts w ith so n g , hot®
Even th e u n i n i t i a t e d can s e e how M rs. B u rlin has k ep t th e ph rase r e p e t i ­
t i o n s , fo llo w e d th e m elod ic l i n e , and rendered t h e whole i n t o E n g lish t r o c h a ic s ( e x c e p tin g th e q u it e e x c e l l e n t v a r ia t io n in l in e 6 , w hich sudden
rr
change in rhythm seems t o be j u s t i f i e d b y th e o r i g i n a l ) .
Mrs. B u r lin ’ s
’’B lu eb ird Song” (Pim a)8 and ’’H unting-Song” (lla v a h o ),9 among numerous o th er
exam p les, in d ic a t e t h a t she alw ays s t r i v e s t o f o llo w th e m elod ic l i n e ,
makes u se o f a l l r e p e t i t i o n s where p o s s i b l e , and a llo w s th e r e p e t i t i o n s t o
d i c t a t e her s ta n z a ic p a t te r n .
In s h o r t , she i s aware o f d e f i n i t e rhythm ic
re cu rren ce in In d ian p o e tr y , and t r a n s l a t e s t h a t p o e tr y n ot in sp ra w lin g
f r e e v e r s e b u t in t r a d it io n a l E n g lish m e t r ic s , a lth o u g h w ith no rhyme.
N a t a lie C u r t is , The In d ian s * Book (Rev/-York, 1 2 2 3 ), p . 225. N e l l i e
B arnes, American In d ian Love L y rics (New York, 1 9 2 5 ), p . 3 3 , r e p r in t in g
t h i s , e r r o n e o u sly r e f e r s t o i t as on p . 317 o f H iss C u r t is ’ (H r s. B u r lin 's )
work.
6 Ib id .
^ In f a ir n e s s t o H rs. A u s tin , she was aware th a t r e p e t i t i o n s in
In d ian v e r s e , e s p e c i a l l y in l y r i c s such a s t h i s , are som etim es a e s t h e t ic
as w e l l a s r i t u a l i s t i c ,
when th e y ’were a e s t h e t i c she ad m itted t h a t th e y
should be k e p t.
8 N a ta lie C u r tis , op. c i t . , p . 317.
9 I b id ., p . 370.
387
W ashington M atthews' p r a c tic e i s lik e w is e n o t " f r e e .”
F o r tu n a te ly ,
Matthews g iv e s th e o r i g i n a l , an i n t e r l i n e a r , l i t e r a l t r a n s l a t io n , and a
fr e e tr a n s la tio n .
Some c h a r a c t e r is t ic l in e s from "The Prayer o f th e F i r s t
Dancers" in th e Ceremony o f th e Might Chant ^ (ifa v a .jo ) are g iv en h e r e , w ith
M atthews ' l i n e numbering.
1.
Tse g i h i g i ,
T se^gih^ in
In T s e g ih i (oh you who d w e lll)
2.
H ayolkal
b eljogangi,
Dawn
made o f house in
In th e house made o f th e dawn
3.
Hahots o i
b eh o g a n g i,
E vening t w i li g h t
E’ade o f house in
In th e house made o f th e e v en in g t w i l i g h t ,
4.
K o s d ily il
b eh ogan gi,
Cloud dark
made o f house in
In th e house made o f th e dark c lo u d ,
/
y
w
/
a n d .so on f o r f i v e more l in e s en d in g in behogangi w ith a s l i g h t elem en t
o f r e p e t i t i o n a l s o in r o o t s y l l a b l e s o f words coming f i r s t in th e l i n e .
14.
15.
H a stsib a k a ,
D e ity male
Oh, m ale d i v i n i t y l
/ • »
» /
/
(
K o s d ily il
n ik e g o
n a h a in iy a .
Cloud dark
your m occasins
come t o u s .
With your m occasin s o f dark c lo u d , come t o u s .
/
w
i
*
V
/
/
{
16. K o s d ily il
n is k le g o
n a h a in iy a .
Cloud dark
your le g g in g s
come t o u s .
'.Yith your le g g in g s o f dark c lo u d , come t o u s .
17.
/
W *»
/
/
<
K o s d ily i^
n ie g o
n a h a in iy a .
Cloud dark
your s h i r t
come t o u s .
W ith your s h i r t o f dark c lo u d , come t o u s .
^ W ashington M atthews, Kavaho L egends, Memoirs o f th e American F o lk Eore S o c ie t y , V (1 8 9 7 ), (hew York, 1 8 9 7 ), pp. 2 7 3 -2 7 5 .
388
/
i> u
/
v
v»
/
/
r
18 .
K o s d ily il
n it s a g o
n a h a in iy a .
Cloud dark
your
headdress
come t o us
With your head d ress o f dark c lo u d , come t o u s .
19.
K o s d ily il
b in in in la g o
n a h a in iy a .
Cloud dark
your mind e n v e lo p in g
come t o u s .
With your mind en velop ed in dark c lo u d , come t o u s .
20.
N ik id ze
i< Jn id ilyil_
dafcitago
n a h a in iy a .
You above
thunder dark
h ig h f l y i n g
come t o u s .
Tilth t h e dark th und er above you , come t o us so a r in g .
21.
K o s is t s in
b ik eg o
d a h ita g o
n a h a in iy a .
Cloud h avin g
at fee t
h ig h f l y i n g
come t o u s .
a shape
With th e shapen clou d a t your f e e t , come t o us s o a r in g .
22.
In tsek ad o
k o s d ily il
b e a tsa d a sy e lg o
Your head over
cloud dark made o f f a r darkness
'With th e dark clo u d over your head,
w
v
ts
4 "w
/
k
/
/
f
w
/
/
/
«
0
/
/
.
/
t
/
/
/
/
d a h ita g o
h ig h f ly in g
r
n a jia in iy a .
come t o u s .
come t o us s o a r in g .
11
In tsek ad o
n ilts a b a k a
b e a tsa d a sy e lg o
d a h ita g o
Your head
over r a in male
made o f f a r darkness
h ig h f l y i n g
W ith t h e f a r d arkness made o f t h e h e - r a in over your head,
/
23.
V
/
/
/
/
f
n a h a in iy a .
come t o u s .
come t o u s s o a r in g .
There i s rhyme in t h e in te r m e d ia te words in l in e s 1 5-17 and l i n e s
1 8 -1 9 , a t t h e same tim e t h a t a l l o th er words in th o s e l i n e s are r e p ea ted
in ta c t.
The l i n e
expands by one word a t l i n e 2 0 j "dahitago" c o n tin u es
f o r s e v e r a l l i n e s unchanged, and " i d n i d i l y i l , " th e second word o f l i n e 20,
i s in s e r t e d t o rhyme w ith th e f i r s t word o f l i n e 1 9 .
Some such h ig h ly com­
p l ic a t e d , in c re m en ta l rhyme p a tte r n occurs fr e q u e n tly throughout th e poem.
Furtherm ore, in c re m en ta l r e p e t i t i o n s w i l l appear th rou gh t h e whole one
hundred l i n e s o f t h i s poem (th e poem b ein g o n ly an i n f i n i t e s i m a l part o f
th e n in e -d a y ch a n t) in in d e term in a b le b u t c e r t a i n l y p rem ed itated p a t te r n s .
389
The monotony th a t would a r is e from s o much r e p e t i t i o n i s a v o id e d , as a l l
in v e s t i g a t o r s have p o in ted o u t, by v a r y in g p i t c h accompanying th e r e p e t i ­
tio n s ,
A lthough no r i g i d laws or r u le s govern in g increm en t and r e p e t i t i o n
in In d ia n v e r s e have e v er been d isc o v e r e d (e x c e p t t h a t th e number o f sta n za s
•was o f te n s e t by r i t u a l i s t i c c o n s id e r a t io n s ) , i t i s obviou s th a t some kind
o f p a tte r n e d r e c u r r e n c e , analogous t o sta n za arrangem ent and in crem en ta l
r e p e t i t i o n in t r a d i t i o n a l E n g lish v e r s e , i s p r e s e n t.
M iss K e l li e B arnes, whose work Mrs. A u stin o f te n commended, q u otes
a so n g H record ed by A lic e F le tc h e r in w hich " th ere i s a s ta n z a ic germ o f
t y p i c a l l y p r im itiv e q u a lit y ."
Three w ords, "no-w e," " sh k a -d se," and "Ho-ga,"
by th e u s e o f r e p e t i t i o n s and v o c a b le s , have been expanded in t o an i n t r i c a t e
s ta n z a :
No-we sh k a -d s e , no-we sh k a -d sej
Ha-haI e he t h a , Ha-ha I we
Ha-ha I e he th a .
Ha-ha I e he th a t h a . H o-gaI
Kon-we s h k a -d s e , no-we sh k a -d se j
Ha-ha I e he th a .
One wonders what re a so n Mrs. A u stin could p o s s ib ly have had f o r i n s i s t i n g
th a t a l l t h e s e r e p e t i t i o n s and v o c a b le s be o m itte d from r e n d itio n s in t o
E n g lis h , u n le s s she was under th e d e sp e r a te n e c e s s i t y o f p rovin g th a t
Amerind v e r s e was ' ch "freer" than i t a c t u a l l y i s .
For th e sta n za h ere
record ed i s c l o s e r t o a c h a r a c t e r is t ic sta n za o f Robert Burns (th e sta n za
o f " E p is tle t o John L ap raik," "Poor M a il ie ’ s E le g y ," and many oth er p ie c e s —
a s i x - l i n e sta n za rhyming aaabab, w ith th e two b l i n e s sh orten ed t o d im eter)
th a n i t i s t o modem f r e e v e r s e .
Swinburne u se d a sta n z a h avin g i d e n t i c a l
^ K e l l i e B arnes, e d i t o r , American In d ia n Love L y r ic s (New York,
1 9 2 5 ), p . 158. (Kirs. A u stin w rote th e " in tr o d u ctio n " t o t h i s b ook .)
1
390
rhyme-scheme
ir
.ith t h i s In d ian s ta n z a , i f i t i s assumed t h a t th e rhyming
o f "dse" w ith "we" and o f "he tha" w ith "Ho-ga" was i n t e n t i o n a l and n o t
a c c id e n t a l. 12
S ta n z a ic d i v i s i o n , asson an ce and e la b o r a te schemes o f r e p e t i t i o n
which se rv e d th e same purpose a s rhyme, even o c c a s io n a l in t e r n a l rhyme,
and " in d isp u ta b le m e t r ic a l p a t te r n s "13 — a n
t h e s e elem en ts M iss Barnes
f in d s in In d ia n v e r s e ; some o f them , how ever, a r e r e l a t i v e l y u n im portant.
M rs. A u stin was aware o f t h e s e f a c t s . 14
But h e r t h e s i s demanded t h a t she
t r y t o f o r g e t them .
12 For Sw inb urne's s ta n z a , see J . S c h ip p e r , A H is to r y o f E n g lis h
V e r s if i c a t io n (O xford, 1 9 1 0 ), p . 326.
13 B arnes, op. o i t . , p . 163.
14 "I do n o t say t h a t exam ples o f what m ight be c a l l e d m e t r ic a l
a c c e n t may n o t y e t be found in a b o r ig in a l d a n c e . . . ." — The American
Rhythm, p . 6 3 . "In r i t u a l i s t i c se q u e n c e s, such a s th e Hako and th e
R igh t C hant, w i l l a l s o be found more th an a s u g g e s tio n o f form al rhythm ic
modes su ch a s we r e c o g n iz e a s u n d er ly in g symphonic c o m p o sitio n ." ~
I b i d . , p . 5 0 . "In d is c a r d in g r i t u a l i s t i c r e p e t i t i o n s and s y l l a b i c a t i o n
which i s f s i c ^ shown t o be mere s t u f f i n g o f th e m elo d ic p a t te r n , one
must n o t o v e r lo o k t h e v a lu e s t h e y may have a s s ta g e s e t t i n g , or a s in d ic e s
o f th e e m o tio n a l v a lu e s ." — I b i d . And she im p l i e s , a lth o u g h v a g u e ly ,
t h a t t h e s e " s tu ffin g s " f in d t h e i r way in t o her own t r a n s l a t i o n s , making
them "so much lo n g er th an th e o r ig i n a l words seem t o w arran t." — I b i d . ,
p . 59.
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S a in tsb u r y , G eorge.
A H is to r y o f E n g lis h Prose Rhythm.
S ch ip p e r , Jakob. A H is to r y o f Elnglish V e r s i f i c a t i o n .
IS 10.
London, M acm illan, 1912.
O xford, Clarendon P r e s s ,
S c h n e id e r , H erbert *<• " C h ristia n S c ie n c e ," E n cyclop ed ia o f th e S o c ia l S c ie n c e s
(Hew York, M acm illan, 1 9 3 4 ), I I I , 446-449'.
S c h n e id e r , H erbert W. "Mary Baker Eddy," Encyc lo p e d ia o f th e S o c ia l S c ie n c e s
(Hew York, M acm illan, 1 9 3 4 ), V, 3 9 5 -3 9 6 .
S e ld e s , G ilb e r t .
The Stammering C entury,
i.ew York, John Day, 1923.
S e r g e a n t, E liz a b e th S h e p le y , "Mary A u stin : A P o r t r a it ," Satu rd ay Review o f
L it e r a t u r e , XI (September 8 , 1 9 3 4 ), 96.
~’_
S e r g e a n t, E liz a b e th S h e p le y . "The Santa Fe Group," Saturday Review o f L it e r a ­
ture^ XI (December 8 , 1 9 3 4 ), 352 and 3 5 4 .
~
Sm ith, Henry. "The F e e l o f th e P u r p o se fu l E arth ," Hew
(February, 1 9 3 1 ), 1 7 -3 3 .
M ex ico
Q u a r te r ly , I
Sm ith, Henry. "^Review o f S ta r r y Adventure*] ." Sputhw est R eview , XVI ( J u ly ,
1 9 3 1 ), x i v - x v .
S te a r n s , Harold E . ( e d i t o r ) . C i v i l i z a t i o n in t h e U n ited S t a t e s ; an In q u iry
by T h ir ty A m ericans. Hew York, H arcourt, 1922.
S t e f f e n s , L in c o ln .
1931.
The A utobiography o f L in co ln S t e f f e n s .
Hew York, lia r c o u r t,
S t e f f e n s , L in c o ln . "Mary A u stin and th e D e s e r t," American M agazine, LXXII
(Ju n e, 1 9 1 1 ), 1 7 8 -1 8 1 .
~
Thompson, S t i t h .
"European T ales among th e American In d ia n s ," Colorado C o lle g e
P u b lic a t io n s , Language S e r ie s , I I , Ho. 3 4 .
Thompson, S t i t h . ( e d i t o r ) . T ales o f th e Uorth American In d ia n s .
Harvard U n iv e r s it y P r e s s , 1930.
T racy, Henry C h e ste r .
American U a t u r i s t s .
Cambridge,
Hew York, D u tton, 1930.
_____________ .
"The T r ib u ta r y T h e a tr e ," T h e a tr e A r ts M on th ly , XX (J a n u a r y , 1 9 3 6 ) , 7 6 .
Twain, Mark.
See C lem ens, Samuel L.
399
Van D oren, C a r l. "The American Rhythm: Mary A u s t in , D isc o v e r e r and P rop h et,"
C entury, CVII (November, 19237, 1 5 0 -1 5 6 .
Van D oren, C a r l. Contemporary American N o v e l i s t s , 1900-1920.
m illa n , 1922.
Van D oren, C a r l.
New York, Mac-
"Mary A u s t i n ," S c h o l a s t i c . XXV (Septem ber 2 9 , 1 9 3 4 ), 4 and 2 3 .
Van Doren, Mark. "Vfe.lt Whitman," D ic tio n a r y o f American Biography (New York,
S c r ib n e r ’ s , 1 9 3 1 ), XX, 143-152.
W a r fe l, H. R ., G a b r ie l, R. H ., and W illia m s, S t a n le y T. ( e d i t o r s ) . The American
Kind; S e le c t io n s from t h e L ite r a tu r e o f th e u n ite d S t a t e s . New
York, C in c in n a t i, e t c . , American Book Company, 1937.
W e lls , H. G. ^ B li s s , R eginald3« Boon,th e Mind o f th e Race, th e Wild A s s e s o f
th e D e v i l, and th e L a st Trump, e t c . New York, Doran, 1915.
W e lls , H. G.
W e lls , H. G.
C a r r ia g e .
Lew York, D u ff ie I d , 1912.
Tono-Bungay. New York, Garden C it y P u b lis h in g Company, no d a t e .
(C op yrigh t, 1 9 0 8 .)
W harton, E d ith .
Wood, C lem ent.
The Cu stom o f th e C ou ntry,
P o e ts o f A m erica.
hew York, S c r ib n e r 's , 1913.
Hew York, D u tto n , 1925.
W oolf, V ir g in ia . "Mr. B ennett and Mrs. Brown," Hogarth E ssa y s (no e d i t o r ) .
New York, H arcourt, 1928.
Wynn, D u dley. "Mary A u s tin , Woman A lo n e ," V ir g in ia Q u a rterly R eview , X III
(S p r in g , 1 9 3 7 ), 243-256.
II
The W ritin gs o f Mary A u stin
A.
Books
The Land o f L i t t l e R ain. B oston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1903.
The same, S ie r r a e d i t i o n , 1920.
The B asket Woman. Boston and New York, Houghton M if f li n , 1904.
s c h o o l e d i t i o n , 1910.
I s id r o .
The same,
B oston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 19 0 5 . London, C o n sta b le ,
1905. New York, G r o sse tt and D unlap, 1914.
The F lo c k .
B oston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1906.
1906.
Santa L u cia , A Common S t o r y .
London, C o n sta b le ,
New York and London, H arper, 1908.
yfr . ~-------
!
400
Lost B ord ers.
New York and London, Harper, 1909.
( s t a i r s , Gordon, pseudonym^.
O utland.
London, John H urray, 1910.
The Arrow Maker. Hew York, D u f f ie l d , 1911. R evised e d i t i o n , Boston and
Hew York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1915.
C h r ist in I t a l y .
New York, D u f f ie l d , 1912.
A Woman o f G enius. New York, D oubleday, P age, 1912.
Houghton M i f f l i n , 1917.
The L o vely Lady.
New York, D oubleday, P age, 1913.
The Green Bough. New York, Doubleday, P age, 1913.
o f l a s t ch a p te r o f C h r is t in I t a l y . )
Love and t h e S o u l Maker.
C a lif o r n ia :
The Ford.
London, A . and C. B la c k , 1914.
New York,
New York and London, H arper, 1915.
Boston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1917.
The Young Woman C i t iz e n .
The T r a il Book.
O utland.
(S ep arate p u b lic a tio n
New York and London, A p p leto n , 1914.
The Land o f th e Sun.
M acm illan, 1914.
The Man J e s u s .
B oston and New York,
New York, The Woman's P r e s s , 1918.
B oston and Hew York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1918.
New York, Boni and L iv e r ig h t , 1919.
No. 26 Jayne S t r e e t .
Boston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1920.
The American Rhythm. New York, H arcourt, B race, 1923. New and e n la r g e d
e d i t i o n , Boston and New York, H oughton, M i f f l i n , 1930.
The Land o f J o u rn ey 's E nding. New York and London, C en tu ry, 1924.
A lle n and Unwin, 1925.
A Sm all Town Han. New York and London, H arper, 1925.
s l i g h t ch a n g es, o f The Man J e s u s . £_.v.
Everyman's G en ius.
London,
A new e d i t i o n , w ith
I n d ia n a p o lis , Bobbs M e r r i ll , 1925.
The Lands o f th e Sun. Boston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1927.
R e - is s u e ,
w ith v e r y s l i g h t change, o f C a lif o r n ia : Land o f th e Sun .
The C h ild ren S in g in th e Far W est.
1928.
B oston and New York, Houghton M if f li n ,
40 1
Taos P u eb lo.
Photographed by A n sel E aston Adams.
Adams ( p r iv a t e ly p r in t e d ) , 1930.
S ta r r y A dven ture.
San F r a n c isc o , A. E.
Boston and I lew York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1931.
E x p erien ces F a cin g D eath. I n d ia n a p o lis , Bobbs M e r r i ll , 1931.
R ider and Company, 1931.
E arth H orizon.
London,
Boston and iiew York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1932.
One Smoke S t o r i e s .
Boston and Hew York, Houghton M i f f l i n , 1934.
Can Prayer Be Answered?
B.
Hew York, Farrar and R in e h a r t, 1934.
I n tr o d u c tio n s , Forewords,
Chapters in Books, e t c .
" A b origin al American L it e r a t u r e ," American W riters on American L it e r a t u r e ,
e d ite d by John A. Macy (iiew York, L iv e r ig h t , 1 9 3 1 ).
"American L ite r a tu r e Moves On," R ecent 'Jains in Am erican C i v i l i z a t i o n ,
e d ite d by K. Page (Hew York, H arcou rt, 1 9 2 8 ).
"The 'D e e p -S e lf ’ and th e P art I t P la y s in W r itin g ," The P sy ch o lo g y o f "Writing
S u c c e s s , e d ite d by J . G. F r e d e r ic k (Hew York, B u sin ess B ourse, 1 9 3 3 ).
"Foreword," American In d ian Love L y r ic s , e d it e d by U e l l i e Barnes (Hew York,
M acm illan, 1 9 2 5 ).
"Foreword," A C h ild Went F o r th : th e A utobiography o f Dr. H elen MacKnight
D o y le , by Helen M. D oyle (Hew York, Gotham House, 1 9 3 8 ).
" In tr o d u c tio n ," Dawn Boy o f th e P u e b lo s, by Lena Becker S c o tt ( P h ila d e lp h ia ,
W inston, 193577
" I n tr o d u c tio n ," H ative T a le s o f Hew M exico, by Frank G. A p p legate (P h ila d e lp h ia
and London, L ip p in c o tt, 1 9 3 2 ).
" In tr o d u c tio n ," The Path on th e Rainbow, e d ite d by George W. Cronyn (Hew York,
Boni and L iv e r ig h t , 1 9 1 8 ).
" In tr o d u c tio n ," Zuni F olk T a le s , c o ll e c t e d and t r a n s la t e d by Frank H. C ushing
(Hew York, Knopf, 1 9 3 1 ).
"H on-English 'W ritings: A b o r ig in a l," Cambridge H is to r y o f American L ite r a tu r e
(Hew York, M acm illan; Cam bridge, Cambridge U n iv e r s it y P r e s s , 1 9 3 3 ),
I I I , 6 1 0 -6 3 4 .
A u s t in , Mary,£and t h ir t e e n o th e r a u th o rs]]. The S tu rd y Oak, A Composite
H ovel o f Amerioan P o l i t i c s by F ou rteen American A u th ors. . • .
Theme by Mary A u s t in . . . . E d ited by E liz a b e th Jordan. Hew York,
H o lt, 1917.
402
C.
P e r io d ic a l C o n tr ib u tio n s
1.
A r tic le s
" A b origin al F ic t io n ," Satu rd ay Review o f L it e r a t u r e , VI (December 28, 1 9 2 9 ),
5 9 7 -5 9 9 .
"The American Form o f th e N o v e l," New R e p u b lic , XXX (A p r il 12, 1 9 2 2 ), Sup ple­
m ent, 3 - 4 .
(The H ovel o f Tomorrow. I n d ia n a p o lis , Bobbs M e r r i ll ,
1 9 2 2 .)
"American In d ia n Dance Drama," Yale Review , XIX (Ju n e, 1 9 3 0 ), 732-7 4 5 .
"American In d ia n M urals," American Magazine o f A r t, XXVI (A u gu st, 1 9 3 3 ), 3 8 0 -3 8 4 .
"American L ite r a tu r e Moves On," World Tomorrow, X (December, 1 9 2 7 ), 5 0 2 -5 0 6 .
(Recent Gains in Am erican Ci v i l i z a t i o n , e d ite d by K. Page. New
York, H arcou rt, 1 9 2 8 .)
"Americans We L ik e," N a t io n ,CXXVII (November 2 8 , 1 9 2 8 ), 5 7 2 -5 7 3 .
"American Women and t h e I n t e l l e c t u a l L if e ," Bookman, L III (A ugust, 1 9 2 1 ),
4 8 1 -4 8 5 .
"Amerindian F o lk lo r e ," Bookman, LVI (November, 1 9 2 2 ), 3 4 3 -3 4 5 .
"Amorousness and A lc o h o l," N a tio n , CXXII (June 2 3 , 1 9 2 6 ), 6 9 1 -6 9 2 .
"An A p p r e c ia tio n o f H. G. W e lls , N o v e lis t ," American M agazine, LXXII (O ctober,
1 9 1 1 ), 7 3 3 -7 3 5 .
"The Approach t o th e Modern N o v e l," B rentano1s Book C hat, M arch -A pril, 1929,
P P • 32-36•
"Arizona:
The land o f Joyous A dven ture," N a tio n , CXVI (A p r il 4 , 1 9 2 3 ), 3 8 5 -3 8 8 .
"Art I n flu e n c e in th e W est," C en tu ry, LXXXIH ( A p r il, 1 9 1 5 ), 829-8 3 3 .
" A r tis t L if e in th e U n ited S t a t e s ," N a tio n , CXX (February 1 1 , 1 9 2 5 ), 151-152.
"Automatism in W ritin g ," U npartizan Review, XIV (O ctober, 1 9 2 0 ), 3 3 6 -3 4 7 .
"The B asket Maker," A t l a n t i c , XCI (February, 1 9 0 3 ), 2 3 5 -2 3 8 .
L i t t l e R ain . )
( The Land o f
"The B est Twenty Y ears: Growing Up and Growing On," S u rvey, LX (A p r il 1 ,
1 9 2 8 ), 9 -1 1 , e t s e q .
"Beyond t h e Hudson," Saturday R eview o f L it e r a t u r e , V II (December 6 , 1 9 3 0 ), 4 3 2 .
"Book S e r v ic e t o Main S t r e e t ," Bookman, L III ( A p r il, 1 9 2 1 ), 9 7 -1 0 1 .
"B r'er R abbit and t h e Tar Baby: A New M exico V arian t o f th e Most Popular Amer­
ica n F o lk T a le ," E l P a la c io , VI (June 14, 1 9 1 9 ), 2 0 5 -2 0 6 .
403
"Buck and Wing and B i l l R obinson," R a tio n , CXXII (A p r il 28, 1 9 2 6 ), 4 7 6 .
"Cactus C ou ntry," C entury, CVIII ( J u ly , 1 9 2 4 ), 3 8 4 -3 9 1 .
Jou rn ey’s E nding. )
(The Land o f
"Can Prayer Be Answered?", Forum, XCI (M ay-June, 1 9 3 4 ), 2 6 9 -2 7 2 , 3 6 3 -3 6 6 .
(Can Prayer Be Answered?)
"Cantu in Baja C a lif o r n ia ," R a tio n , CXI (August 14, 1 9 2 0 ), 184.
"C ensorship," The Laughing H orse, Ro. 17 (F ebruary, 1 9 3 0 ), no p a g in a tio n .
"The C olorado R iv er C o n tro v ersy ," R a tio n , CXXV (Rovember 9 , 1 9 2 7 ), 5 1 0 -5 1 2 .
"The C olorado R iver P r o je c t and th e C u ltu re o f th e S o u th w est," Southw est
R eview , X III (O ctob er, 1 9 2 7 ), 110-115.
"The C olorado R iv e r : A Study o f th e R iv er and th e Canyon," C entury, CVIII
(A u gu st, 1 9 2 4 ), 4 6 2 -4 7 0 .
( The Land o f Journey’s E n din g. )
"Community M ak e-B eliev e," Good H ousek eeping, LIX (A ugust, 1 9 1 4 ), 213-2 1 9 .
"The C r e a tiv e P r o c e s s ," Southw est R eview , X ( A p r il, 1 9 2 5 ), 7 0 -7 6 .
"C ults o f th e P u e b lo s," C entury, C IX ,1 (Rovember, 1 9 2 4 ), 2 8 -3 5 .
o f Jour n e y ’ s Ending. )
( The Land
"The Days o f Our A n c ie n ts," Survey, L III (O ctober 1 , 1 9 2 4 ), 3 3 -3 8 .
Land o f Journey’ s Ending. )
(The
"The D e lig h t M akers," T heatre G uild M agazine, March, 1929, pp. 2 3 -2 5 .
"Do We Reed a Hew R e lig io n ? " C entury, CVI (Septem ber, 1 9 2 3 ), 7 5 6 -7 6 4 .
"A Drama P layed on H orseback," M entor, XVI (Septem ber, 1 9 2 8 ), 3 8 -3 9 .
"Education in Rew M exico," Rew M exico Q u a r te r ly , I I I (Rovember, 1 9 3 3 ), 2 1 7 -2 2 1 .
"E xperiences F a cin g D eath," Forum, LXXX (Rovember, 1 9 2 8 ), 7 59-768; (December,
1 9 2 8 ), 8 5 5 -8 6 4 . (E x p erien ces F acin g D eath. )
" F a ilu re o f F ree Love," H arper’_s Yfeekly, LVIII(March 2 1 , 1 9 1 4 ), 2 5 -2 8 .
and th e S ou l Maker. )
(Love
"Folk L it e r a t u r e ," Saturday Review o f L it e r a t u r e , v (August 11, 1 9 2 8 ), 3 3 -3 5 .
"Folk P la y s o f th e S ou th w est," T heatre A rts M onthly, XVII (A ugust, 1 9 3 3 ),
5 9 9 -6 1 0 .
"The F olk S to r y in A m erica," South A t l a n t i c Q u a r te r ly , XXXIII (January, 1 9 3 4 ),
1 0 -1 9 .
"The F o l l y o f t h e O f f i c i a l s , " Forum, LXXI (M arch, 1 9 2 4 ) , 2 8 1 -2 8 8 .
404
"Food C o n serv a tio n and th e Women," Unpopular R eview , IX ( A p r il, 1 9 1 8 ), 3 7 3 -3 8 4 .
"The Forward Turn," h a t io n , CXXV (J u ly 2 0 , 1 9 2 7 ), 5 7 -5 9 .
"The Future o f th e S o u th w est," Hew R e p u b lic , XLII (A p r il 8 , 1 9 2 5 ), 186.
"G enius, T a le n t, and I n t e l l i g e n c e ," Forum, LXXX (A ugust, 1 9 2 8 ), 178-1 8 6 .
"G eographical Terms from th e S p an ish ," American Speech, V I I I (O ctober, 1 9 3 3 ),
7 -1 0 .
"George S t e r l i n g a t Carm el," American Her our y , XI (May, 1 9 2 7 ), 6 5 -7 2 .
"Gesture in P r im itiv e Drama," T heatre A rts M agazine, XI (A u gu st, 1 9 2 7 ), 5 9 4 -6 0 5 .
"G reatness in Women," Horth Am erican
R eview , CCXVII (F ebruary, 1 9 2 3 ), 197-203.
"Hiawatha among th e P u e b lo s," E l P a la c io , VII (J u ly 15, 1 9 1 9 ), 2 -3 .
" H is to r ic a l M em orial," Commonwea1 , XVI (O ctober 5 , 1 9 3 2 ), 533.
"Hoover and Johnson:
West I s W est," H a tio n , CX (May 15, 1 9 2 0 ), 6 4 2 -6 4 4 .
"How I Found th e Thing Worth W aitin g For," S u rv ey , LXI (January 1 , 1 9 2 9 ), 4 3 4 438.
"Indian A r ts f o r In d ia n s ," Survey, IX (J u ly 1 , 1 9 2 8 ), 3 8 1 -3 8 8 .
"Indian D etour," Bookman, LXVIII (F ebruary, 1 9 2 9 ), 6 5 3 -6 5 8 .
"The I n d i v i s i b l e U t i l i t y , " S u rvey, LV (December 1 , 1 9 2 5 ), 3 0 1 -3 0 6 .
"Is B i l l y Sunday a S ig n o f th e Times?"
" J im v ille :
Hew York T rib u n e, 2-Say 2 3 , 1915.
A B ret H arte Town," A t l a n t i c , XC (Uovember, 1 9 0 2 ), 6 9 0 -6 9 4 .
"John G. H eih a r d t1s E xp ression o f th e W est," Southw est R eview , X III (January,
1 9 2 8 ), 2 5 5 -2 5 8 .
~
"Joseph Conrad T e l ls Yfaat ’Women D on 't Know about Men," P i c t o r i a l R eview , XXIV
(Septem ber, 1 9 2 3 ), 17.
"The Land o f Jo u rn ey 's Ending," The Laughing H orse, Ho. 9 (December, 1 9 2 3 ),
no p a g in a t io n . (The Land o f J o u r n e y 's Ending. )
"The Land o f L i t t l e R ain," A t l a n t i c , XCI (Jan u ary, 1 9 0 3 ), 9 6 -9 9 .
o f L i t t l e R ain.-)
( The Land
"The L ast Stand o f th e P ack," Saturday R eview , VI (December 2 1 , 1 9 2 9 ), 58 7 .
" L ife a t Santa F e," South A t la n t ic Q u a r te r ly , XXXI ( J u ly , 1 9 3 2 ), 263-2 7 1 .
"The L i t t l e Town o f th e Grape V in e s ," A t l a n t i c , XCI (Ju n e, 1 9 0 3 ), 8 2 2 -8 2 5 .
(The Land o f L i t t l e R a in .)
1
405
"A L ost Dog," C a th o lic World, LXXXXIX (A ugust, 1 9 0 9 ), 6 2 4 -6 3 5 .
"Making th e H ost o f Your Genius" { [ s e r ia l a r t i c l e in te n p a r t s j , Bookman,
LVIII (November, 1 9 2 3 ), 246-251; (January, February, 1 9 2 4 ), 528534, 6 2 6 -6 3 1 ; LIX (M arch-June, 1 9 2 4 ), 3 7 -4 2 , 171-1 7 8 , 3 1 1 -3 1 5 ,
4 1 3 -4 1 9 ; (A ugust, 1 9 2 4 ), 6 8 7 -6 9 4 ; LX (Septem ber-O ctober, 1 9 2 4 ),
1 9 -2 4 , 1 5 2 -1 5 7 . (Everyman’ s G en iu s. )
"The Man Jesu s" ( [s e r ia l a r t i c l e s ] , North Am erican R eview , CCI (June, 19 1 5 ),
939-953; CCII ( July-N ovem ber, 1 9 1 5 ), 145-159, 3 0 4 -3 1 9 , 4 6 6 -4 8 0 ,
6 2 6 -6 4 0 , 792-8 0 0 .
(The Han J e s u s .)
" N a te-lo v e and Monogamy" s e r i a l a r t i c l e s , H arper’ s W eekly, LVIII (February 1 4 ,
21, 28; March 7 , 14, 1 9 1 4 ), 6 - 8 , 9 -1 1 , 2 3 -2 5 , 1 8 -2 0 , 1 3 -1 5 .
(Love
and th e S o u l Maker. )
"The M eter o f A ztec V erse," Southw est R eview , XIV (January, 1 9 2 9 ), 153-157.
"Mexicans and New M exico," S u rvey, LXVI (Hay 1 , 1 9 3 1 ), 1 4 1 -1 4 4 . (America in
th e S o u th w est, e d ite d by T. M. P earce and T e l f a i r Hendon. Albu­
querque, U n iv e r s ity o f New M exico P r e s s , 1 9 3 3 .)
"Mexico f o r t h e M exican s," 'NorId O utlook, I I (December, 1 9 1 6 ), 6 - 7 .
"My Fabian Summer," Bookman, LIV (December, 1 9 2 1 ), 3 5 1 -3 5 6 .
"The M y sticism o f J e s u s ," C entury, CIX (December, 1 9 2 4 ), 2 0 4 -2 1 6 .
Town Han. )
(A Sm all
"Native Drama in New M exico," T heatre A rts M agazine, X III (A ugust, 1 9 2 9 ), 5 6 1 -5 6 7 .
"Native Drama in Our S ou th w est," N a tio n , CXXIV (A p r il 2 0 , 1 9 2 7 ), 4 3 7 -4 4 0 .
"The Need fo r a New S o c i a l C oncept," New R e p u b lic , XXXI (August 9 , 1 9 2 2 ),
2 9 8 -3 0 2 .
"New M exican S p an ish ," Saturday Review o f L it e r a t u r e , VII (June 2 7 , 1 9 3 1 ), 930.
"Hew M exico F olk P o e tr y ," E l P a la c io , VII (November 3 0 , 1 9 1 9 ), 146-1 5 9 .
"New York:
D ic ta to r o f American C r itic is m ," N a tio n , CXI (J u ly 31, 1 9 2 0 ),
129-130.
"On D is c o v e r in g G rea tn ess," Saturday Review o f L it e r a t u r e , VI (December 2 1 ,
1 9 2 9 ), 59 0 .
"The Path on th e Rainbow," D i a l , IXVI (Hey 3 1 , 1 9 1 9 ), 5 6 9 -5 7 0 .
"Poet in O utland," O verland M onthly and Out N e st M agazine, new s e r ie s LXXXV
(November, 1 9 2 7 ), 3 3 1 -3 5 1 .
"Poetry in th e E ducation o f C h ild r e n ," Bookman, LXVIII (November, 1 9 2 8 ),
270-275.
I
406
"P oetry That C hildren Choose," Saturday Review of L ite r a tu r e , V (October 13,
192S), 246.
" P rim itiv e Man, A n arch ist or Communist?"
744-752.
Forum, LXXVIII (iiovember, 1S27),
"F rim itiv e Stage S e ttin g ," T heatre A rts Monthly, XII (January, 1928), 49-59.
"Ramona," hew Mexico Q u a rte rly , I I (November, 1932), 345-346.
"Regional C u ltu re in th e Southw est," Southwest Review, XIV (J u ly , 1929),
474-477.
"Regionalism in American F ic tio n ," E nglish J o u rn a l, XXI (F ebruary, 1932),
97-106.
"R eligion in th e United S ta te s ," C entury, CI¥ (August, 1922), 527-538.
"The R eorganization of th e New T h e a tre ," American Magazine, LXXII (November,
1911), 101-104.
"The Road to th e S p rin g ," N ation, CXXIII (October 13, 1926), 360-361.
"Santa Fe’ s Community T h e a tre ," El P a la c io , VI (January 18, 1919), 26-27.
"Science f o r th e U n s c ie n tific ," £oohman, LV (A ugust, 1922), 561-566.
"The Sense o f Humor in Women," New R epublic, XLI (November 26, 1924), 10-13.
"Sermon in One lian',' H arper1s ,'<eekly, LVIII ('.lay 16, 1914), 20.
"Sex Emancipation through J a r ," Forum, LIX (Nay, 1918), 609-620.
"Sex in American L ite r a tu r e ," Boolcman, LVII (June, 1923), 385-393.
"The Sheep-Dog," H arper1s , CXIII (O ctober, 1906), 757-761.
" S ir James B arries The W riter Vino Never Grew Up," Ladies Home Jo u rn a l,
XXXVIII (December, 1921), 7.
" S itu a tio n in Sonora," N atio n , CX (May 22, 1920), 680-681.
"S o c ia l and Economic O rganization of the New Mexico P u eb lo ," P ro g re ssiv e
E ducation, IX (F ebruary, 1932), 117-121.
"The Song-IZakers," North American Review, CXCIV
(August, 1911), 239-247.
"Sources o f P o e tic Influence in th e Southw est," P o e try , XLIII (December, 1933),
152-163.
"S u p ern atu rals in F ic tio n ," U npartizan Review, X III (llarch, 1920), 236-245.
407
"The Town That Doesn’t Want a C hautauqua," Hew R epublic, XLVII (Ju ly 7,
1926), 195-197.
"The T r a il o f th e Blood: An. Account of th e P e n ite n t Brotherhood of Hew
M exico," C entury, CVIII (May, 1924), 35-44. (The Land of Jo u r­
n e y ’s Ending.)
"T rain in g C hildren fo r Happy M arriag es," H arp er's Weekly, LVIII (March 28,
1914), 24-26. (Love and th e Soul Maker.~)
"Up Stream ," D ia l, LXXII (June, 1922), 634-639.
"Wanted:
A Hew Method in M exico," Hat io n , CX (F ebruary 21, 1920), 228-229.
"Where Vfe Get Tammany K ail and C arnegie L ib r a r ie s ," World O utlook, IV (Jan­
u a ry , 1918), 4 -5 .
"Vdiy Americanize th e Indian?"
"Why I
Forum, LXXXII (September, 1929), 167-173.
Live in Santa F e," Golden Book, XVI (O ctober,
"Woman Alone”, f c o n tr ib u tio n t o symposium]), R atio n ,
228-230.
1932), 306-307.
CXXIV (March 2, 1927),
"Woman and Her ’War L oot," S u n se t, th e P a c ific M onthly, XLII (F ebruary, 1919),
13-16.
"Woman Looks a t Her W orld," P ic to r ia l Review, XXVI (
November, 1924), 8-9.
"Woman Sees S te e l," Bookman, L III (March, 1921), 82-84.
"Woman's P re fe rre d C an d id ate," C o l l i e r 's , IXV (May 20, 1920), 7.
"'Women as A udience," Bookman, LV (March, 1922), 1-5.
"Women's Clubs To-Day and To-Morrow," Ladies Home J o u rn a l, XXXIX (June, 1922)
27.
"Zuni Folk T a le s ," D ia l, LXXI (J u ly , 1921), 112-117.
2.
S to rie s
"The Christm as F id d le ," C entury, IXXXI (December, 1910), 239-247.
"The D ivorcing of S in a ," S unset, th e P a c ific Monthly, XL (June, 1918),
26-29, 74-75.
" The Ford of C revecoeur," Out W est, XIX (O ctober, 1903), 389-395.
" F r u s tr a te ," C entury, LXXXIII(January, 1912), 467-471.
"The Golden F o rtu n e," A tla n tic , XCII (December, 1903), 791-795.
Woman.)
(The Basket
408
"Green Bough; a n a rra tiv e of th e R e s u rre c tio n ," American M agazine, LXXIII
(A p ril, 1912), 642-649. (C h ris t in I t a l y .)'
"The Kiss of Nino D ios," Out West, XXI (December, 1904), 534-541; D e lin e a to r,
XCVII (December, 1920), 7.
"The L i t t l e C oyote," A t la n tic , IXXXIX (February, 1902), 249-254.
"The Lost lline of F isherm an's Peak," Out West, XIX (November, 1903), 501-510.
"Mahala J o e ," A tla n tic , XCIV (J u ly , 1904), 44-53.
"Uamiohee," C ath o lic World, XCI (May, 1910), 183-197.
"The Mother of F e lip e ," Overland Mo n th ly , XX (November, 1892), 534-538.
"A Night A dventure," C a th o lic World, XCII (November, 1910), 157-168.
"Pahawitz-Na' a n ," Out N e st, XVIII (March, 1903), 337-344.
"Fapago Wedding," tr a n s la t e d by Emerich Reeck as "Papago H ochzeil (Eine echte
In d ia n e rg e s c h ic h te )," B la tt d ie Volksbuhne (V ienna), February 15,
1927. (One Smoke S to r ie s .)
"The Pot of G old," M unsey's Magazine, XXV
(J u ly , 1901), 491-495.
"R ollender Donner e r z a h l t ," tr a n s la te d by Emerick Reeck, Hamburger Faemdenb l a t t , September 9, 1927. (One Smoke S to rie sT )
"The Search fo r Jean B a p tis te ," S t. N ich o las, XXX (September, 1903), 1024-1027.
"A Shepherd o f th e S ie r r a s ," A tla n tic , LXXXVI (Ju ly , 1900), 54-58.
"The Souls of S t i t t ; " H a rp e r 's , CXLII (December, 1920), 71-74.
"Spring o ’ th e Y ear," C entury, 1XXV (A p ril, 1908), 923-928.
"The T ru sco tt Luck," Out W est, XVII (July-November, 1902), 50-58, 194-202,
323-329, 459-465, 585-592.
"The White Cockatoo," C entury, LXXXIII (F ebruary, 1912), 549-560.
"The White Hour," Munsey's M agazine, XXIX (A p ril, 1903), 88-92.
"The Wooing of th e S e n o rita ," Overland Monthly, XXIX (March, 1897), 258-263.
These s t o r i e s , a l l re p rin te d in Lost B orders, had
been p re v io u s ly p u b lish ed in p e rio d ic a ls as fo llo w s:
"Agua D ulce," H a rp er's Weekly, L III (August 28, 1909), 22-23.
"The B i t t e r n e s s of''Women," H a r p e r 's
W eekly, L I II (O ctob er 9 , 1 9 0 9 ) ,
2 2 -2 3 .
409
"A Case of C o nscience," H arp er's Weekly, L III (August 14, 1909), 22-23.
"The F a k ir,S H a rp e r's , CXIX (September, 1909), 556-561.
"The Hoodoo of th e M in n ie tta ," C entury, LXXIV (J u ly , 1907), 450-453.
"The House of O ffence," H a rp e r's Weekly, L III (October 23, 1909), 22-23.
"The L ast A n te lo p e ," A tla n tic , XCII (Ju ly , 1903), 24-28.
"Ploughed Lands," H arp er's Weekly, L III (September 11, 1909), 22.
"The R eadjustm ent," H a rp e r 's , CXVI (A p ril, 1908), 694-697.
"The R eturn of Mr. W ills ," C entury, LXXIV (June, 1907), 244-247.
"The 'Walking Woman," A tla n tic , C (August, 1907), 216-220.
"The Woman a t E ig h teen -M ile," H arp er's Weekly, L III (September 25, 1909),
22-23.
These s t o r i e s , a l l re p rin te d in One Smoke S to r ie s ,
had been p re v io u sly publish ed in p e rio d ic a ls as fo llo w s:
"The A lcalde of Ojo V erdoso," Southwest Review, XVIII (A p ril, 1933), 265-267.
"American M arriage" ("The Way of a 'Woman," "Papago Wedding," "The Man Who
Lied about a 'Woman"), American Mercury, VI (Septem ber, 1925),
1- 6 .
"A'wa Tseighe Comes Home from th e War," R atio n , CXXIV (A p ril 6, 1927),
367-369.
"The Canoe That th e P a rtrid g e Made," Golden Book, XX (O ctober, 1934), 417-418.
"The Conversion of Ah Lew S in g ," Overland Monthly, XXX (O ctober, 1897), 307-312.
"The Coyote Song," The Laugjhing Horse, Ho. 14 (Autumn, 1927), no p a g in a tio n .
"La V i s i t a ," Southwest Review, XVIII (A p ril, 1933), 268.
"The Last A n te lo p e," A tla n tic , XCII (J u ly , 1903), 24-28.
"Lone T ree ," The Laughing H orse, Ho. 15 (March, 1928), no p a g in a tio n .
"The Man Who Talked w ith th e T rues," The Laughing H orse, No. 15 (March, 1928),
no p a g in a tio n .
"One Smoke S to rie s " (" In tro d u c tio n ," "The Man Who Walked w ith th e T ru es," "A
T e llin g o f th e Love of Winnedumah fo r Pahw anike"), Golden Book,
X II (O ctober, 1930), 37-38.
1
410
"One Smoke S to r ie s " ("The Medicine o f Bow-Returning," "The Shade o f th e
A rrow s," "S p irit-o f-th e-B ear-W a Ik in g ," "Wolf P e o p le "), Yale
Review, new s e r ie s XXII (March, 1933), 525-532.
"One Smoke S to r ie s " (" In tro d u c tio n " ), The Laughing Horse, No. 14 (Autumn,
1927), no p a g in a tio n .
"Papago K id," Bookman, LV (June, 1922), 359-366.
"Papago Wedding," Golden Book, XVII (March, 1933), 262-264.
" P o lite n e ss of Questa la P l a t t a ," C entury, CVI (May, 1S23), 65-68.
"S ayings," V irg in ia Q u a rte rly Review , IX (O ctober, 1933), 574-577.
"Speaking of B ea rs," Bookman, LXII (December, 1925), 440-447.
"Three Tales o f Love" ("Approaching Day," "Hosteen H atsanai R ec a n ts," "The Man
Who Was Loved by Women,"), American Mercury, V II (March, 1S26),
346-352.
"The Woman Who Was Never S a tis f ie d ," The Laughing Horse, No. 14 (Autumn, 1927),
no p a g in a tio n .
3. S e r ia l Novel
" I s id r o ," A tla n tic , XCIV (September-December, 1904), 289-308, 439-456, 605625, 796-815; XGV (January, February, 1905), 45-66, 178-193.
4 . Poems
(No a tte m p t is made to l i s t p e rio d ic a l p u b lic a tio n of poems th a t a re l a t e r
re p rin te d in The American Rhythm, The C h ild ren Sing in th e Far West, or in
any o f th e an th o lo g ie s l i s t e d in S ec tio n IID of t h i s b ib lio g ra p h y .)
"Aged Poet D isco u rse s," S aturday Review o f L ite r a tu r e , V III (A ugust,29, 1931),
86.
"Being Only a Dream," P oetry XXII (A p ril, 1923), 19.
"The B urgher’s W ife," Land of Sunshine, XV (December, 1901), 423-424.
"The Feet o f th e Young Men," Land o f Sunshine, XII (F ebruary, 1900), 139.
"Going W est," Bookman, LVI (September, 1922), 8.
"Gods o f th e Saxon," Independent, LII (A p ril 26, 1900), 996.
"Homesickness," Forum, LXXX (August, 1928), 296.
"I Have Known P o e t s ," N a tio n , CXXVI (F eb ru a ry 8 , 1 9 2 8 ) , 1 5 6 .
II
411
"In d ian P le ia d e s ," D e lin e a to r, XCI (November, 1917), 1.
"Inyo," Overland M onthly, XXXIV (J u ly , 1899), 49,
" L itt le L ight M occasin," Land of S unshine, X (A p ril, 1899), 261.
"Love Coming L a te ," N atio n , CXXVII (J u ly 11, 1928), 43,
"N ight Vvind, Awake," Out West, XX (A p ril, 1904), 318.
"Not to You Only, 0 P y th ia n ," N a tio n , CXXIII (December 1, 1926), 601.
"Pagan Wind," (2 poems) Folk-Say IV ; The Land Is Ours, e d ite d by B. A.
Botkin (Norman, U n iv e rs ity of Oklahoma P re s s, 1932), 91-92.
"A P io n e e r," Independent, LXII (January 3, 1907), 40.
"Pipe of Oaten Straw, "C osm opolitan, XXXIII (May, 1902), 79.
" P re ssu re ," N ation, CXXVI (June 6 , 1928), 645.
"Puye," N ation, CXXIV (February 23, 1927), 202-203.
"R e su rre c tio n ," A tla n tic , CXLI (A p ril, 1928), 529.
"San J a c in to ," El P a la c io , VI (March 1, 1919), 93.
"Signs o f S p rin g ," S t . N ic h o las, XXX
(A p ril, 1S03), 494.
"The Singing Dunes o f Ensenada Todos S a n to s," El P a la c io , VI (March 1, 1919),93.
"The Song o f th e Bow," Out b e s t -magazine, XX (A p ril, 1904), 55.
"Three a t Carm el," S aturday Review of L i te r a tu r e , V (September 29, 1928), 165.
"Unworthy Love," P o e try , XVII (Jan u ary , 1921), 192-193.
"War," H a rp e r's Weekly, LX (May 8, 1915), 433.
"Yilhen I Am Dead," New Mexico Q u a rte rly , IV (A ugust, 1934), 234-235.
"'Whence," P o e try , XVII (January, 1921), 192.
"Woman’s Song," Bookman (September, 1921), LIV, 64.
"Women's War Thoughts,"
p o e tic p lay , D ia l, LXXI (November, 1921), 551-555.
"The 'Mound That Bled in Heaven," H arper’ s Weekly, LVIII (May 23, 1914), 15.
"The Young L eader," Out West, XVII (J u ly , 1902), 68.
412
5 . P la y s
" F ir e :
A Drama in Three A c ts ." The P lay-book (W isconsin D ram atic S o c ie ty ),
I I (O ctober, 1914), 3 -25 j- (Nov®ipb&?V’- l914).?21J-$6; (December,
1914), 18-30. (Produced F o rest T h e a ter, C arm el, C a lif o r n ia ,
J u ly , 1912.)
"The Man Who Didn’t B elieve in C hristm as" [p la y } , S t . N ic h o la s , XLV (December,
1917), 156-162. (Produced under t i t l e , M erry C h ristm as, Daddy^at
Cohen and K a rris T h eatre, hew York, December 26, 1916.
"Sekala Ka’ajm a," T heatre A rts M onthly, X III (A p ril, 1929), 265-278.
D.
Some A nthologies C o n tain in g
Poems by Mary A u stin
B otkin, B. A. ( e d ito r ) . The Southwest Scene.
Economy Company, 1931.
Oklahoma C ity , Oklahoma,
Bushby, D. M aitland ( e d i t o r ) . The Golden S t a l l i o n : an A nthology of
Southw estern V erse. D a lla s , Texas, Southw est P r e s s , 1930.
Henderson, A lice C orbin (co m p iler). The Turquoise T r a i l ; an Anthology of
Hew Mexico. Boston and Hew York, Houghton M if f li n , 1928.
M ajor, Mabel, and Sm ith, Rebecca YiT. ( e d i t o r s ) .
hew York, M acmillan, 1929.
The Southw est in L ite r a tu r e ,
Monroe, H a r r ie t, and Henderson, A lic e Corbin ( e d i t o r s ) . The Hew P o e try .
Hew and en larg ed e d itio n . Hew York, M acm illan, 1925. The same.
Hew e d itio n re v is e d and e n la rg e d . Hew York, M acm illan, 1932.
E.
Plays Produced b u t Hot P u b lish ed
"The Golden Bough." Hew Mexico Normal U n iv e rs ity , Las V eg as, Hew Mexico,
Ju ly 15, 1935.
"The Vacuum." Hew Mexico Normal U n iv e rs ity , Las Vegas, Iiew Mexico, J u ly 5,
1935.
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