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The last year has brought forth more magazines than any decade ever did in the past. The land is full of literary faddists, and every one of them has his own magazine devoted to his particular fad and publishing not the sort of literature that the people read so much as the style he himself fancies. Every publisher knows that all these periodicals cannot live, and that half of them are already a drug on the market. In America the fad magazine cannot live. It is all very well on the Continent, where there is a large class of people who have no more urgent occupation than the cultivation of fads. But in America people are too busy. The fanciers of the bizarre are confined to a few literary men. Every month or so there arises a new and shining light among the fad magazines, a fad litterateur, a poster artist, or a poet without meter and without rhythm. The more absurd his drawing, the more meaningless his verse, the greener his crown. For a few months he bears his blushing honors like the beggar of olden times who was made king for a day, then returns to his ancient obscurity after the manner of mob kings. Sometimes his reign is literally only one of weeks. One fine morning he awakes to find that some fellow has drawn a more hideous poster than he, written a more inane verse. He is, out-moded, he is undone. Never was anything in the history of letters more grotesque than the mock reigns of these petty kings of wit and witlessness. In the last year a hundred of them have been on the same day worshipped and forgotten. Before the sands of this century are run out there will be a fatal epidemic among the fad magazines. They will not outlive the curiosity of the hour.
The human mind turns ever back to beauty. The ugly plays of realism come and irritate us for a time, but they are not permanent. Only a year ago it seemed that Alexandre Dumas fils and his school controlled the stage; now, scarcely twelve months later, the whole tide of popular favor has turned back to the romantic drama. "The Prisoner of Zenda" began it. Now the playwright who can write a good play of arms and men, of daring and achievement, will be the popular dramatist. The world is tired of drawing-room scenes on the stage, tired of the endless exchange of epigrams between doubtful people. It wants action and the ring of swords and love that is not subjected to physiological analysis. The appearance of "Zenda" meant the same thing to English drama that Hernani did to French drama when Gautier sat in the pit in his red waistcoat. The stage is preeminently the kingdom of romance. We go to the theatre to see not what is, but what might be. We go into a play-house to change our atmosphere, to be for a moment in the atmosphere of great emotions that are denied our own lives. The footlights are the dead line of the practical. The dress circle, the parquet, the orchestra chairs, they are all the dead world of fact; but right beyond that line of lights are the tropics, the kingdom of the unattainable. There is the land where the grand passions die not and the great forces are still at work; a land of Juliets, Othellos, Theodoras and Marguerite Gauthiers. It is the only place on earth that is left to those unhappy ones, a place that where we turn ever for the "Old, unhappy, far off things, And battles long ago." The romantic drama always comes back, as an old song comes back to one after the cares of the day, as a picture of long ago rises suddenly amid the hurrying bustle of business.
The approach of winter will be hailed with delight by the dwellers in the larger cities of the country, for it will bring at least a temporary respite from the barefoot perambulations of the Kneipp patients. The parks of all Eastern towns have been literally invaded this summer by these people with their feet in the conventional Trilby state wading through the dewy grass. Even private lawns have been invaded. While this form of medical treatment is certainly more harmless than many still in vogue, it is extremely probable that if these erratic "patients" did the same amount of walking with their shoes and stockings on they would find it quite as beneficial. Suppose now that the Kneipp treatment should become generally popular, as popular as bicycling for instance. Imagine the horrible results; ladies shopping and paying informal calls, gentlemen going to business a la Trilby. Doubtless if some learned gentleman with plenty of assurance—and the assurance is more important in such cases than the learning—should develop some latent atavistic tendency, and suggest that we walk on all fours like our simiadæn ancestors, hundreds of people would jump at the opportunity. Humanity has many changing tastes and fancies, but it has had at least one constant passion ever since the snake perpetrated his old immortal trick, and that is its passion for being gulled.
The game of basket ball which is so much in favor at women's colleges just now is really a much modified form of foot ball. The game is played in two halves of twenty minutes each with an intermission of ten minutes. The Rugby rules are generally used. The game was inaugurated at Smith college in 1892, and has since been taken up by all the principal women's schools in the United States. As an athletic exercise its advantages are many and obvious, but it will probably never become popular outside of colleges. It is not a graceful game or a pretty one, and the costume is trying. Certainly it is not a sport in which many girls would care to indulge before a large audience. Almost any exercise in which a woman can excel gracefully and without apparent exertion, such as wheeling, swimming, or shooting, seems within the legitimate feminine sphere. But when a girl gets out in a field before a crowd of on-lookers, and chases a ball, basket or no basket, she cheapens herself. This is not due to prejudice, it is simply not in accordance with the eternal fitness of things.
Considerable excitement has been created by the announcement of the discovery of gold in Newfoundland. This will mean another strong ally for England. The discovery of gold has always had an instantaneous and magical effect upon a country. The gold of South America made Spain what it was in the days of Philip and the Armada. The discovery of gold made civilization possible in South Africa. It transformed California from a half barbarous territory to a great commonwealth. Newfoundland has always been one of the most utterly desolate places on the globe, a mere miserable fishing colony, drawing almost its sole income from the manufacture of cod liver oil. It would be an unique circumstance if that barren island should suddenly be invested with wealth and power, and become the Eldorado of adventurers and center of sensational interest. For wherever that magic metal is found cities spring up in a night and fortunes are made in a day.
Professor Beyer, of Tulane University, has been making some most interesting discoveries at Troy, Louisiana. It seems that this town also is a "high-hilled Troy," being built upon a number of mounds that once served as ancient temples before Columbus made that memorable excursion which, Chicago people say, resulted in the Chicago Exposition. The big central mound was a temple where fire was kept always burning as in the great temple of the Aztecs. The surrounding mounds were probably the palaces of the princes or chiefs. The mud for these mounds had to be brought from a great distance, and when completed they had to be strong enough to resist the overflows to which the country was then subject. This latter fact may account for their excellent state of preservation. Professor Beyer has found a great deal of fine pottery. All the skeletons discovered indicate the extreme age of the mounds and place the date at which this city flourished at something over a thousand years ago.