William Hawley Smith.

Walks abroad and talks about them online

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Talks About Them

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Fducational Press Association

PtORiA. Illinois






J. W. FEAifKa & SOXS


" / tramp a perpetual journey, and I ask you to come loalk

tvitJi me.
''And eaeh in an and xvoman of you I lead upon a knoll,
*' My right hand pointing to landscapes of contine?its and the

public road.
'''Not /, not any one else^ can travel that road for you.
" Yo7L must travel it yo2irself !
"So. shoulder your bu)idlc, dear friend, and I will mine, and

let us haste7i forth.
"" If you tire, give -me both burdens, and rest your hand on my

"" And in due time you shall repay the same service to me.
" For, after we start, we shall never lie by again! So,
" Come on! tvhoever you are, aiid let us travel together!
" Traveling with me, yoti shall find zvhat never tires,
" The earth never tires!

" The earth is rude, silent, incomprehoisible at first ;
'''' Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first ;
" But be not disc outraged. Keep on. There are divine things

there, well enveloped.
" There are divine tilings there more beautiful than tvords can

tell !
" Come on ! We must not stop here !
" However sweet these laid-up stores, however co7ivenient this

dwelling, zue can/iot remain here.
"However sheltered this port and hozvever cabn these waters,

%ve must not anchor here.
" However zvelcome the hospitality that surrounds us, we are

permitted to receive it but a little while.
'' Come on! Yet take warnijip!


"//^ traveling zvith me needs tJie best blood, thczvs, cndiirance.
'' None may come to the trial till lie or she bring courage and

" Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself.
" Only those may come ivho come in siueet and determined

'''' Couie on! after the Great Companions.^ and to belong zvith

tJiem !
" They., too., are on the road — they are the szvift and majestic

men — they are the greatest and grandest zvomen !
" Come on! to that zvhich is endless as it zvas beginningless.
'■' To undergo much, tramp of days, rest of nigJits ;
" To see nothing, anyzvhere.^ hut that you may reach it and

pass it;
" To conceive of no time., Jiozvever distant, but that you may

reach it and pass it;
" To look 71 p or dozvn no road but it stretches and zv aits for you

— Jiozvever long., it stretches and zvaits for you !
" Whoever yo?i are, come forth! or man or woman., come forth!
" Yoii mjist not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house,

tliough you built it, or though it zvas built for yo7i.
" Come on! the road is before us!

" // is safe — / have tried it — viy ozvn feet have tried it zvell.
"Come on !

'' Comrade, I give yoji my J land!
" I give you my love, more precious than money ;
^^ I give you myself, before all preaching or lazv ;
" Will you give me yourself ? Will yon come and travel u-ith me ;
" Shall zve stick by each other just as long as zve live f "


A Hunter's Philosophy H

Among THE Aztecs ■ 48

An Open Book 39

Born " Short " 113

"Dot" Uii

" Exams." 79

Five Out of Thirty 157

Geography and Music *211

Half-Tones p,y the Million 177

Honorificabilitudintty 1H6

House Cleaning and History 202

How He Knew It 122

In An Industrial Schooi 1('2

Incorrigibles KM*)

In Institute Assembled M3

Jones's Dream li)3


Light, Air, Heat and Hkalth 134

Mexican Class-Room Work 62

Photographs 166

Rats 86

"Specialty Business" T4

Squeaks and Grease „ 194

Thanksgiving 1"9

The Bad Boy's Mother 102

"The Only" 71

The Outset 9

The Schools of Mexico 55

Through Memory's Ways 20

To You 30

Two After-Dinner Speeches 218

Whittling ^^^

Walks Abroad.


In that far distant era when our "entering class"
stood up around Mary Montague's knees and learned our
letters in the orthodox fashion of taking the alphabet " in
course," as everybody was expected to take everything in
those days, I remember that that motherly old maid of a
Yankee schoolmarm gave us some " supplementary work,"
as it would be called now, in the shape of little verses that
we learned and recited in concert, our arms entwined around
each other, and the whole little charmed circle swaying
and weaving, back and forth, in even time, as we said the
lines over in a sing-song way. And among verses,
thus learned and recited, there was one that began :

"Whene're I take my walks abroad,
How many s I see."

I have forgotten just what the word was that fitted in
where I have left a blank ; nor do I know why my memory
should have failed to hold the particular monosyllable
that evidently belongs in there, while clinging fast to all
the rest of the lines ; but after nearly fifty years' acquaint-
ance with this mental furniture of mine, I have quit trying
to account for all its peculiarities — omissions, commis-
sions and what not.

10 WALKS A J', in > A I).

There was some word of one syllable that went there,
and, as I look at it now, I find that it does not make so
very much difference what it was, for any one of a hun-
dred will do just as well as the one the original rhymer

And, perhaps, after all, it is fully as well to let the
blank stand, and permit each reader to fill it in " as
occasion requires or opportunity offers," as our pastor
says in prayer meeting.

And so I am not going to worry my head about the
original word, nor shall I care a straw if any delver after
" primary forms " should hunt out this old fossil and send
me the particular chip which is lacking in the specimen I
have shown above ; for, put any one word in this niche
and it narrows the same down to the particular thing
which that one word stands for, and this leaves the lines
far less true to the reality than they are with my blank-
holding up the heavy end of the iambus in this particular
line. So I leave it as it is, merely remarking that there
are a good many other things in this old world that are
similar to this. It does not pay to try to put them into
their original forms, for they are better to us as we have
them. Doubtless, it will not do to carry this argument
too far ; but, run to a reasonable length, it works well and
yields most blessed results.

And so, as I was about to remark, " Whene'rc I take
my walks abroad," — as I do every day and sometimes
several times a day, — I see more things than any one
word can stand for ; and when a man undertakes to put
words in my mouth which shall tell what I am doing, I
want those words to tell the whole story, or else to stand
back and give me a chance to speak for myself. Or, per-
haps, we can compromise the matter ; the rhymer may
tell all of my story he can and I will do the rest. I will


take these lines, just as I have quoted them, reserving
only the blank for myself, to fill in as I choose ; and, just
as the magic lantern man reserves for himself a little blank
slot in his instrument into which he can slip any " slide "
that he can get hold of, and always with a varied effect,
so I will keep this blank open, and into it I will slip, from
time to time, the things I see "whene're I take my
walks abroad."


I went out hunting a few days ago — took a walk
abroad among sedge-grass and cockle-burs, down along
the river bottom, where cranes are wont to congregate and
croak, where mud-hens multiply and chuckle to each
other in the secret places of swamp and fen, and where,
occasionally — very occasionally — a duck disports itself,
a half a mile or so from shore, out of range of any weapon,
unless it be a howitzer or Gatling-gun.

But we went hunting, just the same ; walked and
talked as of yore, and did several things besides, things
which this chronicle has no particular business with, and
which for that reason will be omitted from this truthful

There was one novelty about our trip this season ; we
all took rifles instead of shotguns. The matter was settled
at a meeting of the club, a month or so ago. At this
meeting some discussion arose about skill in marksman-
ship, and a very eloquent member made a telling speech
about rifle-shooting as contra-distinguished from shotgun


The point he made was that the marksman who could
bag game as the result of a single bullet sent after each
particular bird, by that very act proved himself an artist
with a fowling-piece ; while the man who used a shotgun,
which belches forth a thousand leaden pellets at each dis-
charge, and these scattered over a wide area, could never
tell whether he really was a good shot, or whether his
awkwardness in shooting all ways at once should be
credited with his success as a sportsman.

The talk on the subject ran high for a while ; and,
finally, to settle the matter for one year, at least, it was
agreed that we should all take rifles on our annual outing
this season.

So we all took rifles.

My own gun was of the most recent make, manufac-
tured in the East, and by a firm which has a most excel-
lent and enviable reputation for making the best goods
of the kind to be had in this or any other market. The
maker's name was stamped upon the barrel as a guarantee
that the article was genuine.

And it was really a good gun. I think it was all it
was ever recommended to be, and I have no word of fault
to find with it as a gun ; nevertheless, I shot with it for
two days and never touched a feather !

Of course this was unpleasant ; for, formerly, on a
shotgun basis, I had always managed to bring in about an
average bagful of game ; and now to come in empty-
handed, two days in succession, was little less than dis-
grace. It seemed to establish the truth of my eloquent
friend's theory that my record as a sportsman depended
upon my promiscuous, rather than upon my definite and
direct shooting — a conclusion which was by no means
flattering to my self-esteem, to say nothing of my vanity.
But the third day I set out as before, and, as good luck


would have it, I came upon a fine flock of ducks in a
small pool, within easy range of a thick clump of brush
which served Ine as a cover. The birds had not dis-
covered my approach, and were disporting themselves
with the utmost nonchalance as I made ready to shoot.
I drew a bead on a large drake that sat perfectly still
about fifty yards away, and fired !

If ever I was sure of game in my life it was just at
the moment when I pulled the trigger of that gun. But
the result was the same as before ; or, rather, worse, for
this time the birds did not even do me the honor to fly.
They only lifted their heads for a minute, as though a bit
surprised, and then went to feeding again.

To say that I was disgusted is to but feebly express
my emotions as I lay hidden in that clump of bushes, and
for four successive times blazed away at those unconcerned
and aggravating ducks, which now seemed to be growing
accustomed to my fusilade, and rather to enjoy than to
fear it. I blamed the gun and those who made it. I
called myself names, and grew red in the face. I —

But just as I was making ready for the fifth shot, and
had declared to myself that I would smash my gun into
smithereens if I did not kill that time, I heard a slight
noise on my left, and turning, I saw the burly form of an
old river hunter lying full length in the bushes not ten
feet from me. He had heard my firing, and I think out
of sheer curiosity had crawled into my cover to see what
it was all about.

He was a typical man of his class, rough, bearded,
tanned to a copper color, and dressed in yellow jeans. He
had never belonged to a gun club, and I doubt if he at all
knew the meaning of " Extra Dry." I am quite sure he
could not have passed a written examination on " Sports-
manship from an Esthetic Point of View," especially if

14 ir.iLA'.s' ahl'Oad.

the professor in our club had had the privilege of pre-
paring the questions ; but the denownent showed that he
knew a thing or two, for all that.

I have said that I saw him, etc. Evidently he had
been in his present position for some time, and had wit-
nessed my former endeavors and failures, for as soon as I
caught his eye he said, under his breath :

" Yo7i d — n fool, lower your hind-sight ! Hatit yoii got
sense enough to see tliat yoii are shootin' over 'em every time ! "

I " lowered my hind-sight," and we had ducks for
supper out of my bag that night.

I was sitting on the platform at an educational gather-
ing, not long ago, and the professor in charge was dic-
tating some very excellent words to the teachers there
assembled, reading from a book, a few words at a time,
the teachers writing as he read, thus :

"It should be the aim of education — to effect the
triune result — etc., etc."

There were about a hundred teachers writing, and
when the reader pronounced the word " triune," I think
at least ninety of the writers looked up for an instant and
scowled inquiringly, then dropped their eyes and hurried
on with their notations. The reader made no pause at
this demonstration — took no notice of it, in fact, but went
on dictating, a few words at a time, to the end of the some-
what long and stilted, not to say slightly high-flown sen-
tence, his listeners writing as best they could.

The exercise was continued for about fifteen minutes,
and among the sentences dictated occurred the words,
"apperception," "conjunctivity," "curricula," "adum-
bration," and a few more of about the same size and
weight. And every time one of these words was shot into


that audience, so to speak, there was the same lifting of
heads, inquiring elevation of eyebrows, scowl, and return
to writing on the part of about nine out of every ten of
those who were doing their best to set down what the
reader of the book was saying.

When all was over, I asked the professor if he would
call on some one who had been writing to read what he or
she had written. He readily consented, and at once asked
a very bright-looking girl, of about twenty, who sat just
before him, to stand and read her notes. She blushed and
looked down, hesitatingly, and finally said :

"I can't do it."

"Why not?" said the professor.

"I haven't got itall written down," replied the girl.

"Did I read too fast?" said the professor.

"No, I guess not," said the girl.

"Well, then, what's the matter?" said the professor.

The girl hesitated and blushed still deeper, while
there was an anxious look on nearly every face in the

It was at this point that I begged for a word, and
asked the young lady if she would read as far as she had
written, be the same more or less. She was a brave girl
( it takes genuine bravery, and a good deal of it, to do
what I asked her to do, the circumstances being what
they were ) and so, with a resolute, not to say half des-
perate motion, she rose and read:

" It should be the aim of education to effect the "

She stopped, and I said:


"I didn't understand the next word," she said.

" How many in the room did understand the next
word, and have it written down?" I asked.


There was a pause; then some two or three hands
went up promptly and perhaps half a dozen timidly, but
the ninety held their peace.

"Will all who did 7iof get the word written down
please to stand? " I asked, "Come! It's no disgrace to
say we don't know when we don't know," I added.

And then there was a sound as of a rushing mighty
wind, and the ninety arose, ^« masse.

The professor looked puzzled. He was a clever gen-
tleman, and a most thorough scholar, and he read excep-
tionally well, in a clear, full voice, pronouncing every
word distinctly, and how it was that all these people had
missed this word of two syllables was more than he could

And then I said to a young man who stood in front:
" What was the matter with the word that you did not get
it?" And he replied: " I don't think I ever heard it be-
fore! " Whereupon, these words have been spoken, eighty-
nine pairs of eyes, or thereabouts, looked into mine and
said as plain as eyes can say anything, "That's just it!"

I confess that I was a good deal surprised at this
generous and wholesale confession on the part of these
teachers, for the word in question had hardly struck me
as being so very unusual and the people before me were
by no means dull or dumb. On the contrary, they were
more than averagely bright Nevertheless, the great fact
remained that the word "triune" was a stranger to their
eyes and ears thus far!

Not to prolong the story, the professor took the cue
and proceeded with a still further reading of the notes
taken from his reading only to find "apperception,"
" conjunctivity," "curricula," " adumbration,'' and several
more of similar sort among the things that were not.

At dinner, ]ust before this exercise, I had told the


professor my hunting experience, narrated above, and
after he had staggered along with this notes-reading for
about ten minutes, and had found out what a thing of
shreds and patches it was in reality, when compared with
what he had expected it to be, he turned to me and said,
under his breath.

'' It looks a good deal as though I had better lower my
hind sight, "

And I thiuK he was right about it too.

The fact is, it is a common fault to shoot over: —

"Agitate the water, Michael," said a clergyman to
an Irishman who was cleaning out his well.

" An' phat the divil is that? " said Mike.

''Stir it up," said the man at the windlass, and it was

I have a friend who is the most brilliant scholar of
my acquaintance, but he delights in polysyllables, and his
language is of the strictly classical sort. The maid-of-all-
work in his kitchen is a Swede, who, while she is an ex-
cellent cook, speaks English only on the installment plan,
with very limited installments at that. My friend tried
to tell her something to do, the other day, and after sev-
eral most eloquent efforts he gave up in despair. He
hunted up his wife (a very sensible and plain spoken
woman, she is), and told her that he "could not make
that stupid girl understand." (He reads Greek, Latin,
French, German and Italian.). The good woman listened
to his tale of woe, and then went and told the girl what
to do, using simple words that were easily understood.
When she came back she remarked to her husband:
'^ My dear, if you would be less Johnsonese you would be
far more understandable."


And as he loves peace and quiet at home he at once
proceeded to "lower his hind sight."

And there is that other acquaintance of mine, who
told me that not long ago he sat down to write a lecture,
and how he covered six full pages with a most brilliant
introduction, all filled with "hyperbole, metaphor, met-
tonomy, prosodypeia, superbaton, cattychraysis, metty-
lipsis, and hustheron-protheron," as Father Tom has it.
Having written so much, he took it down and read it to
his wife. And she, too^ is a most sensible woman. (These
women, God bless them! How could we get on without
them?) She heard him through, and then said, quietly:
"Oh, Charles, come off the perch! "

And to his credit be it said, he did as he was told.

But 1 think it is in the school-room, more than any-
where else, that we "shoot over," and so ought to " lower
the hind sights" of our pedagogical guns, as it were. In-
deed I am certain that any teacher will be surprised, not
to say appalled, if he or she will carefully watch the
effect, or rather the lack of effect, that their words have
upon pupils. The young people hear what we say, per-
haps so far as the material ear is concerned, but they do
not understand and we are to blame because they do not.

We talk of predicate-nominatives and substantive
phrases to ten and twelve-year-olds, in the grammar class,
and these long-range missiles fly yards and yards over
and beyond the game they are aimed at! We fire involu-
tion and permutation into droves of eighth-graders. They
"duck their heads " for a minute, and then go on chew-
ing gum just as though nothing had happened, careless
alike of ourselves and of the noises we make.

And this is the really pitiful, not to say tragic, thing
about it all. Our young people get ittto the habit of listening
to zvords that viake no impression npon them, and the result


is that they very soon get careless, especially upon all
educational matters. Or, perhaps I should say they get

No one likes to be continually listening to what he
does not understand, and if long compelled to do so, he
will either be bored beyond endurance, or involuntarily
and unwittingly get a poor opinion of his ability to un-
derstand and comprehend what it is supposed he ought
to learn about.

And if a pupil gets in the way of thinking that he is
not going to understand, the chances are many to one
that he will not understand; and when he has reached
that point, the limit of educational growth, in that direc-
tion, is close at hand.

The true test of really great things is their simplicity.
They are so easily understood by everybody. In that
wonderful art gallery at the World's Fair, it was the
simple pictures that drew the crowds, the ones that all
understood, and crowded upon each other to look at.
" Breaking Family Ties," " Preparing for the Wedding,"
"The Alarm," "The Reply," and a thousand more that
could be named — these are the great works of art, and
they are simple and as easily understood as tkey are
incomparable as artistic productions.

And the same is true in other lines of art. It is now
e.ght years since Mr. Denman Thompson brought out
that simplest of all dramas, "The Old Homestead," but
he is still playing it to crowded and ever delighted audi-
ences. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is simplicity itself in plot,
execution, and language, but a world has read it, with
weeping eyes, and knows the story by heart.

It is further recorded of the Master of us all that
"the common people heard him gladly."

How are you shooting beloved?



While I was waiting my turn at the bank, the other
day, I overheard the following conversation between the
cashier and a customer who stood the third man ahead of
me, his nose almost against the little brass-grated win-
dow, as he spoke:

Customer — "Do you remember the number of that
draft on Chicago which you gave me one day last week?"

Cashier — "No, sir, I don't. It is a rule of this bank
to remember nothitig. But if you can tell me the date on
which you got the draft, I can readily find the number for

Whereupon, the date being given by the customer
aforesaid, it was the work of but an instant for the cashier
to turn to the record of drafts issued on that day, and there
find the desired information.

Shortly afterwards I passed a leading merchant of
the city in conversation with a gentleman with whom he
evidently had the most amicable of business relations,
and this is what I heard him say, as I went along:

" No, don't ask me to remember your order, but go
down to the store and leave a memorandum of what you
want, and then you are sure to get it. But if I should
try to remember it for you, the chances are a hundred to
one that you wouldn't see the goods for six months."

And when I went to the sash factory, and ordered a
sash made to fit our north cellar window (we are going to
have double sash in that window this winter, sure. We
have thought for the last five years that we would fix it
that way, but, somehow, have always forgotten it till now.


But wife made a inenidrandiini about it, one day last week,
and put the same where I couldn't help seeing it, and so
the sash is ordered.) I say, when I told the sash man
what I wanted, he said, "Make a memorandum, please, of
just the size you want, and there will be no mistake in
filling your order."

And so it was that, when I went to the tailor for a

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Online LibraryWilliam Hawley SmithWalks abroad and talks about them → online text (page 1 of 16)