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The So-Called
Human Race




+----------------------------------------------+
| |
| _BOOKS BY |
| BERT LESTON TAYLOR_ |
| |
| A PENNY WHISTLE |
| |
| THE SO-CALLED HUMAN RACE |
| THE EAST WINDOW |
| (_Fall, 1922_) |
| |
| _And others in a uniform collected |
| edition, to be ready later._ |
| |
| _New York: Alfred · A · Knopf_ |
| |
+----------------------------------------------+




The So-Called
Human Race

by
Bert Leston Taylor


_Arranged, with an Introduction, by
Henry B. Fuller_


New York 1922
Alfred · A · Knopf




COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC.

_Published, March, 1922
Second Printing, April, 1922_


_Set up and electrotyped by J. J. Little & Ives Co., New York, N. Y.
Paper furnished by W. F. Etherington & Co., New York, N. Y.
Printed by the Vail-Ballou Co., Binghamton, N. Y.
Bound by the H. Wolff Estate, New York, N. Y._


MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA




_WORLD WITHOUT END_

_Once upon a summer's night
Mused a mischief-making sprite,
Underneath the leafy hood
Of a fairy-haunted wood.
Here and there, in light and shade,
Ill-assorted couples strayed:
"Lord," said Puck, in elfish glee,
"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"_

_Now he sings the self-same tune
Underneath an older moon.
Life to him is, plain enough,
Still a game of blind man's buff.
If we listen we may hear
Puckish laughter always near,
And the elf's apostrophe,
"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"_

B. L. T.




Foreword

By Henry B. Fuller


Bert Leston Taylor (known the country over as "B. L. T.") was the first
of our day's "colyumists"--first in point of time, and first in point of
merit. For nearly twenty years, with some interruptions, he conducted "A
Line-o'-Type or Two" on the editorial page of the Chicago _Tribune_. His
broad column--broad by measurement, broad in scope, and a bit broad, now
and again, in its tone--cheered hundreds of thousands at the
breakfast-tables of the Middle West, and on its trains and trolleys. As
the "Column" grew in reputation, "making the Line" became almost a
national sport. Whoever had a happy thought, whoever could handily turn
a humorous paragraph or tune a pointed jingle, was only too glad to
attempt collaboration with B. L. T. Others, possessing no literary
knack, chanced it with brief reports on the follies or ineptitudes of
the "so-called human race." Some of them picked up their matter on their
travels--these were the "Gadders." Others culled oddities from the
provincial press, and so gave further scope to "The Enraptured
Reporter," or offered selected gems of _gaucherie_ from private
correspondence, and thus added to the rich yield of "The Second Post."
Still humbler helpers chipped in with queer bits of nomenclature,
thereby aiding the formation of an "Academy of Immortals"--an
organization fully officered by people with droll names and always
tending, as will become apparent in the following pages, to enlarge and
vary its roster.

All these contributors, as well as many other persons who existed
independently of the "Line," lived in the corrective fear of the
"Cannery," that capacious receptacle which yawned for the trite word and
the stereotyped phrase. Our language, to B. L. T., was an honest, living
growth: deadwood, whether in thought or in the expression of thought,
never got by, but was marked for the burning. The "Cannery," with its
numbered shelves and jars, was a deterrent indeed, and anyone who
ventured to relieve himself as "Vox Populi" or as a conventional
versifier, did well to walk with care.

Over all these aids, would-be or actual, presided the Conductor himself,
furnishing a steady framework by his own quips, jingles and
philosophizings, and bringing each day's exhibit to an ordered unity.
The Column was more than the sum of its contributors. It was the sum of
units, original or contributed, that had been manipulated and brought to
high effectiveness by a skilled hand and a nature wide in its sympathies
and in its range of interests.

Taylor had the gift of opening new roads and of inviting a willing
public to follow. Or, to put it another way, he had the faculty of
making new moulds, into which his helpers were only too glad to pour
their material. Some of these "leads" lasted for weeks; some for months;
others persisted through the years. The lifted wand evoked, marshalled,
vivified, and the daily miracle came to its regular accomplishment.

Taylor hewed his Line in precise accord with his own taste and fancy.
All was on the basis of personal preference. His chiefs learned early
that so rare an organism was best left alone to function in harmony with
its own nature. The Column had not only its own philosophy and its own
ęsthetics, but its own politics: if it seemed to contravene other and
more representative departments of the paper, never mind. Its conductor
had such confidence in the validity of his personal predilections and in
their identity with those of "the general," that he carried on things
with the one rule of pleasing himself, certain that he should find no
better rule for pleasing others. His success was complete.

His papers and clippings, found in a fairly forward state of
preparation, gave in part the necessary indications for the completion
of this volume. The results will perhaps lack somewhat the typographical
effectiveness which is within the reach of a metropolitan daily when
utilized by a "colyumist" who was also a practical printer, and they can
only approximate that piquant employment of juxtaposition and contrast
which made every issue of "A Line-o'-Type or Two" a work of art in its
way. But no arrangement of items from that source could becloud the
essential nature of its Conductor: though "The So-Called Human Race"
sometimes plays rather tartly and impatiently with men's follies and
shortcomings, it clearly and constantly exhibits a sunny, alert and airy
spirit to whom all things human made their sharp appeal.




The So-Called
Human Race




A LINE-O'-TYPE OR TWO

_Motto: Hew to the Line, let the quips fall where they may._


SIMPLE

My readers are a varied lot;
Their tastes do not agree.
A squib that tickles A is not
At all the thing for B.

What's sense to J, is folderol
To K, but pleases Q.
So, when I come to fill the Col,
I know just what to do.

* * *

It is refreshing to find in the society columns an account of a quiet
wedding. The conventional screams of a groom are rather trying.

* * *

A man will sit around smoking all day and his wife will remark: "My
dear, aren't you smoking too much?" The doctor cuts him down to three
cigars a day, and his wife remarks: "My dear, aren't you smoking too
much?" Finally he chops off to a single after-dinner smoke, and when he
lights up his wife remarks: "John, you do nothing but smoke all day
long." Women are singularly observant.

* * *

NO DOUBT THERE ARE OTHERS.

Sir: A gadder friend of mine has been on the road so long that he always
speaks of the parlor in his house as the lobby. E. C. M.

* * *

With the possible exception of Trotzky, Mr. Hearst is the busiest person
politically that one is able to wot of. Such boundless zeal! Such
measureless energy! Such genius--an infinite capacity for giving pains!

* * *

Ancestor worship is not peculiar to any tribe or nation. We observed
last evening, on North Clark street, a crowd shaking hands in turn with
an organ-grinder's monkey.

* * *

"In fact," says an editorial on Uncongenial Clubs, "a man may go to a
club to get away from congenial spirits." True. And is there any more
uncongenial club than the Human Race? The service is bad, the membership
is frightfully promiscuous, and about the only place to which one can
escape is the library. It is always quiet there.

* * *

Sign in the Black Hawk Hotel, Byron, Ill.: "If you think you are witty
send your thoughts to B. L. T., care Chicago Tribune. Do not spring them
on the help. It hurts efficiency."

* * *

AN OBSERVANT KANSAN.

[From the Emporia Gazette.]

The handsome clerk at the Harvey House makes this profound observation:
Any girl will flirt as the train is pulling out.

* * *

_THE GIRL OF THE PERIOD._

_She formerly talked of the weather,
The popular book, or the play;
Her old line of chat
Was of this thing or that
In the fashions and fads of the day._

_But now she discusses eugenics,
And things that a pundit perplex;
She knocks you quite flat
With her new line of chat,
And her "What do you think about sex?"_

* * *

"Are we all to shudder at the name of Rabelais and take to smelling
salts?" queries an editorial colleague. "Are we to be a wholly lady-like
nation?" Small danger, brother. Human nature changes imperceptibly, or
not at all. The objection to most imitations of Rabelais is that they
lack the unforced wit and humor of the original.

* * *

A picture of Dr. A. Ford Carr testing a baby provokes a frivolous reader
to observe that when the babies cry the doctor probably gives them a
rattle.

* * *

WHAT DO YOU MEAN "ALMOST"!

[From the Cedar Rapids Republican.]

The man who writes a certain column in Chicago can always fill
two-thirds of it with quotations and contributions.



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