The sketches in this volume showing characteristic attitudes of the authors represented are the illustrator's individual impressions from life. They were made by him from pencil sketches drawn while observing the authors read or recite, or from his recollection of the various poses assumed. Some of the original sketches in lead pencil were made at public readings. Others were made in private.
In addition to the many characteristic poses, a large portrait sketch
from life, signed by each author, was made. When the question of putting
these pictorial observations into book form arose it was found that there
was ample material for two books. Under these circumstances those authors
were chosen for the present work whose attitudes were entirely completed
and whose literary work had already been selected and illustrated.
WHICH ARE YOU?
BY ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
There are two kinds of people on earth to-day,
Just two kinds of people; no more, I say.
Not the sinner and saint, for it's well understood,
The good are half bad, and the bad are half good.
Not the rich and the poor, for to rate a man's wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.
Not the humble and proud, for in life's little span,
Who puts on vain airs, is not counted a man.
Not the happy and sad, for the swift-flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.
No ; the two kinds of people on earth I mean,
Are the people who lift and the people who lean.
Wherever you go, you will find the earth's masses,
Are always divided in just these two classes,
And, oddly enough, you will find, too, I ween,
There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.
In which class are you? Are you easing the load,
Of overtaxed lifters, who toil down the road?
Or are you a leaner, who lets others bear
Your portion of labor and worry and care?
BY ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone,
For sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air,
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure.
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all--
There are none to decline your nectar'd wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
THE BEAUTIFUL LAND OF NOD
BY ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
your head on my shoulder, dear,
Your head like the golden-rod,
And we will go sailing away from here
To the beautiful Land of Nod.
Away from life's hurry, and flurry, and worry,
Away from earth's shadows and gloom,
To a world of fair weather we'll float off together
Where roses are always in bloom.
Just shut up your eyes, and fold your hands,
Your hands like the leaves of a rose,
And we will go sailing to those fair lands
That never an atlas shows.
On the North and the West they are bounded by rest,
On the South and the East, by dreams;
'Tis the country ideal, where nothing is real,
But everything only seems.
Just drop down the curtains of your dear eyes,
Those eyes like a bright blue-bell,
And we will sail out under starlit skies,
To the land where the fairies dwell.
Down the river of sleep, our barque shall sweep,
Till it reaches that mystical Isle
Which no man hath seen, but where all have been,
And there we will pause awhile.
I will croon you a song as we float along,
To that shore that is blessed of God,
Then ho! for that fair land, we're off for that rare land,
That beautiful Land of Nod.
Love is the center and circumference
The cause and aim of all things. 'Tis the key
To joy and sorrow: and the recompense;
For all the ills that have been, or may be.]
MRS. ELLA WHEELER WILCOX was born in Johnstown Center, Wis. Her parents were emigrants from Vermont to Visconsin in the early days of that State. Her father, who was a descendant from Ethan Allen, was in his younger days a teacher of the violin. In Wisconsin he became a farmer, and it was upon a farm that the first years of Mrs. Wilcox were spent. Soon after she was born the family moved to a farm in the town of Westport, Wis., a few miles from Madison, in the famous "four-lakes district." It was amid the rural scenes of this most beautiful country that she caught the first inspiration of poetry.
Her early education was somewhat limited. She attended the public school in the village of Windsor. Having a decided tendency toward story-writing and rhyming she was always called upon to furnish the fiction and verse for the school magazine. She seems to have written verses from the time she first learned to spell. She was but a little more than eight years of age when she wrote, or, rather, printed, a most ingenious novel, the original manuscript of which she still has in her possession. The early tendency of the poet to write of love and passion is shown by it, for innumerable love-affairs, always culminating in weddings, are scattered throughout the little volume. Ther hero becomes a Justice of the Peace, which the youthful country author looked upon as the highest earthly position of honor. The title page reads:
"Minnie Tighthand and Mrs. Dunley, an Eloquent Novel Written by Miss Ella Wheeler."
There is a preface reading as follows:
"The following novel is a true story. I suppose the reader will doubt it, but it is true. It is a scene that I witnessed when living in England, and after I came to America I published it. The reader may believe it now."
At that time the girl had never been twenty-five miles from home, and Mrs. Wilcox wonders now how she ever conceived such a deception. Nearly every chapter of the novel is begun with an original verse. The following is a sample:
Mrs. Wilcox was then, as she has always been since, an indefatigable worker, often producing several short poems in one day. She had a great desire to see some of her productions in print, and set about, without her parents' knowledge, to have them published. Finally, at the age of fourteen, one of her articles was published in the New York "Mercury." The delighted girl sent for a large number of the issue containing it, and the arrival of the bundle was the first intimation her parents had that their child had "gone into print." When she was sixteen years old "The Chimney Corner" printed one of her productions and paid her for it. It was the first money she had ever earned. Soon after she became a paid contributor to "Harper's Bazar," "Harper's Weekly," "The Saturday Evening Post," of Philadelphia, Leslie's periodicals and many other publications."A head covered with pretty curls,
Face white as the snow.
Her teeth look like handsome pearls,
She's tall and merry to!"
The refusal of her works by editors never discouraged her. As soon as a poem or article was returned by one she sent it to another. She had an elaborate system of bookkeeping, keeping scores of productions in the mails all the time. She was particularly anxious to have an article published in the "Atlantic Monthly" and placed that magazine at the top of her list. Finally, after five years of disappointment, she had a poem accepted, and waited three years before seeing it published. Then she got five dollars for it. But it was not many years till she found a ready market for all she produced. Besides her collections of poems she has published several novels and has written much for the newspaper syndicates. Her first volume, "Drops of Water," was published in 1872, and is a collection of verses on the subject of total abstinence.
"Solitude," which is, perhaps, her most famous poem, was inspired one day when the poet, then a young lady, was on her way from her Westport home to Madison, to attend a public reception at the Wisconsin Gubernatorial mansion. On the train she met a friend, a woman in widow's weeds, who had recently been bereaved. She was deeply touched by the look of sorrow in her face, and, while preparing for the reception that evening, the first two lines of the poem,
flashed into her mind. Two more lines,"Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone,"
sung themselves into her brain while driving to the Governor's residence. She completed the poem the following morning."For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth
But has trouble enough of its own.,"
In 1884 Miss Wheeler was married to Mr. Robert M. Wilcox, and her home since then has been in the East. She lives in New York City in the winter, and in her summer home at Short Beach, Conn., during the hot months. She has given her seaside cottage a poetic name--"The Bungalow." The poet of passion has many fads, chief among them being her gowns, which she designs herself. She has an elaborate and costly collection of girdles, and is always on the lookout for unique and handsome ones to add to it. Her fad in animals is fine Persian cats, which she trains to perform.
Among Ella Wheeler Wilcox's better known books are "Maurine, and Other Poems," which was first published in 1875, "Poems of Passion," "Poems of Pleasure," "Mal Moulee," a novel, "Men, Women and Emotions" and "Custer and Other Poems." The three poems, "Solitude" and "The Beautiful Land of Nod," from "Poems of Passion," and "Which Are You?" from "Custer and Other Poems," all copyrighted, are reproduced in "Authors' Readings" by permission from both the author and the publishers, W.B.Conkey Company, Chicago.