ALL ABOUT SHAKESPEARE Or the Pocket Biography of the Bard of Avon by P Brooke-Haven Vanity Fair (April 1916

) THE celebration of the tercentenary of William Shakespeare (occurring by a curio usly apt coincidence exactly three hundred years after his death) makes it almos t imperative for Vanity Fair to publish a few brief facts about the fellow, just to show that we have our finger on the public pulse. William Shakespeare, or Sh akspere, or Shikspur—he was still trying to decide how to spell his name when the angel of death appeared in the wings with the hook—was the George M. Cohan of his day. He not only wrote plays of a high order of merit, but also acted in them; a nd there is no evidence to prove that he did not wave the English flag at select ed points in the drama and make curtain-speeches about his father. Indeed, if on ly William had been a better soft-shoe dancer, the resemblance might be said to be one of the most complete and striking in the annals of the stage.

BORN in the year 1564, it was not immediately that the Bard of Avon turned his a ttention to the stage. In his early youth he seems to have had the idea that the re was a good living to be made out of stealing rabbits from the preserves of th e local squires, and it was only when approaching years of discretion that he go t onto the fact that the big money lay in stealing plots. In the year 1591, he b egan to write plays, and from then onward anybody who had a good plot put it in a steel-bound box and sat on the lid when he saw Shakespeare coming. In all Engl and there was not his equal in this particular form of larceny. He was the forer unner of the dramatizer of novels.

THERE was, of course, some excuse for this trait of his. He was the official pla ywright to a company of actors, and they sweated the poor man to such an extent that there was really hardly time for him to think up his own plots. In those da ys a good run for a play was two nights, and anything over three was sensational . This made it pretty hard for Shakespeare. Indeed, it is a wonder that Shaksper e did not get brain fever. A less tough man than Shikspur would have cracked und er the strain. He would dash off “Macbeth” on Sunday night for production on Monday, and on Tuesday morning at six o’clock, as he lay in bed thinking, “Well, that’s that!” round would come Burbage in a frightful state of excitement. “Good Heavens, Bill, why aren’t you working? Don’t you know we’ve got to give ’em something tonight?” “What abou ’Macbeth’?” Shakespeare would ask sleepily. “ ’Macbeth’ finished its long and successful r n last night, and it’s up to you to push out another.” So Shakespeare would heave hi mself out of bed, dig down into the box where he kept other people’s plots, and by lunch-time he would hand Burbage the script of “Hamlet”. “How do you like it?” he would ask. “Rotten!” Burbage would reply. “But it’ll have to do.” A playwright can not give of his best under these conditions, which accounts for a peculiarity in Shakespeare’s work, which, we believe, has hitherto escaped the notice of critics; the fact t hat, while his stuff sounds all right, it generally doesn’t mean anything. It cann ot be doubted that, when he was pushed for time, William Shakespeare just shoved down anything and trusted to the charity of the audience to pull him through. As, for instance, in “Romeo and Juliet”, Act One, Scene One. “Who set this ancient qua rrel new abroach?” Of course he knew perfectly well that “abroach” meant nothing, but it sounded darned good, and Burbage was popping in and out every two minutes, as king him when the deuce he was going to get the thing finished: so down it went.

THERE seems to be no doubt that Shakespeare had the usual struggles of the begin ner who tries to break into the play-writing business. Tradition says that he st arted in a modest way by holding horses at the doors, and a moving historical pi cture might be painted of the future king of the English stage, trying to read B urbage the opening scene of a comedy while the latter flitted past on his way to the Mermaid Tavern (the Elizabethan Lambs Club), and at the same time endeavori ng to elude the attentions of a peevish mustang who was trying to bite him in th e back of the neck. Eventually, however, merit came to the top, and our hero fou nd himself a member of a London company and was able to stand with his co-worker s in the Strand, telling every one how he lifted them out of their seats when he played the Ghost at Ippleton-cum-East-Wobsley-in-the-Marsh. Shakespeare’s first play, according to the authorities, was entitled “The Contention of York and Lancaster (2, 3 Henry VI)”. One is forced to admit that as a title it could be improved, but the Encyclopaedia Britannica says that was it, so there can be no mistake. Of course, they had no electric light signs over the theaters in those days, so that it didn’t matter how long you made the name of your piece. But even so it would have had more of a punch without the numerals.

THINGS were not made easy for William at any point in his career. Just as he suc ceeded in getting a footing and was beginning to tot up how much his royalties w ould amount to if they played to fifteen ducats, four pieces of eight, and a ros e noble on the week, along came the Plague; and from the beginning of February, 1593, to the end of December the theaters were closed. Bearing up as well as he could against this blow, he wrote “Titus Andronicus”, and got it produced in 1594. B ack came the Plague and shut the theaters again. But you cannot keep a good man down, and by that time Shakespeare had started to steal his plots, so that he co uld now produce dramas almost without conscious effort. The result was that, whe n the theater opened again, he bobbed up like a tidal wave and had “The Taming of the Shrew”, “Love’s Labor Lost” and “Romeo and Juliet” put on before the year was over. Aft r that, they saw that it was no good closing the theaters. Of his first piece little is known, but the fact that it is said to have been wr itten in collaboration with Marlowe, Greene and Peele, makes it seem probable th at it was a musical comedy. No doubt Shakespeare wrote the original book, Marlow e added extra scenes, Greene contributed additional lines and Peele inserted sup plementary material. It does not seem to have been a great success, thus emphasi zing the hopelessness of trying to do a piece of this kind without Frank Tinney and the Castles.

A GOOD deal of mystery surrounds both the private life and the artistic career o f William Shakespeare. Nobody seems to know what he did with his time, where he lived, whom he married, and what he looked like. He is generally supposed to hav e married Anne Hathaway, but there is an entry in an existing register relating to the marriage of “William Shakespeare” with “Annam Whateley de Temple Grafton”. One ca n only suppose that the clerk was a weaker speller than the bridegroom himself, and that this was his plucky, though scarcely successful, attempt at “Anne Hathawa y”. At that it would not have been at all a bad shot for those Elizabethan times. As regards his appearance, there are sixteen portraits of him in the book of ref erence to which we owe so grateful a debt in the compilation of these few kind w ords, and, except that they are all solid on the fact that he never shaved, each is absolutely different from the other. Either Shakespeare sat for his portrait on the correspondence method, describing by letter what he looked like and leav ing the rest to the ingenuity of the artist, or else the standard of art was low

in those days. Of course it must have been difficult to paint Shakespeare’s portr ait. He was always either rushing onto the stage to play a part, or else seated at Burbage’s desk in the room marked “No Admittance”, hustling away at a new drama; an d you had to get the best view of him that you could through the keyhole.

THIS is no time to touch on the Baconian controversy, beyond saying that many pe ople, quite sane in other respects, believe that the plays were written by Lord Bacon and that all Shakespeare did was to practise spelling his signature on the covers of the typed script. As there is no record of Bacon making any protest d uring his lifetime, this seems incredible. Nobody who had contributed even a lin e to a play could refrain from going about the place during its run, telling peo ple that he really did all the work.

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HOW TO BREAK INTO SOCIETY A One-Act Drama of Blackmail——in One Act By PELHAM GRENVILLE Vanity Fair (May 1916) THE scene is the richly-appointed study of J. Braithwaite Breamworthy, the milli onaire president of the B. O and P. Of course a lot depends on the generosity of the producing manager. I may only be able to find one who will buy a set second -hand from Cain’s store-house and give me a cheap farce interior with seven doors. But let us call the place richly-appointed——while we can. The massive wall at the b ack sways gently in the breeze. At the rise of the curtain, little Eva Breamworthy, a golden-haired mite of thre e (or younger, if children can speak at all coherently younger than that) is dis covered seated on the floor. She is reading the market reports from the evening paper in a childish treble. EVA: The mar-ket o-pened quiet but—— (Enter at back, J. BRAITHWAITE BREAMWORTHY. He is a man of fifty with a secret s orrow, which means that for stage purposes he will look like Methuselah’s elder br other——the one who kicked Methuselah at the age of six hundred and twenty because, i n his opinion, The kid was getting fresh. MR. BREAMWORTHY’S hair is white, and the re are deep lines on his face. He stands, watching his child.) EVA: But the bulls made an at-tack— BREAMWORTHY (tenderly): My little Eva! EVA (running to him): Daddy. My daddy. BREAMWORTHY: My little Eva. EVA: My big, booful daddy. BREAMWORTHY: My little Eva. All this may seem dull to you, but it is extremely skilled dramatic construction . I have got to establish an atmosphere of quiet domestic peace and happiness an d I must fill in while the audience is getting into its seat, and then—discovering

that it is the wrong one. EVA: My big, booful daddy. There is a faint pop in the auditorium as the last arrival sits on his hat, and then a tense stillness. Breamworthy, who has been “counting” the house, over the chi ld’s golden head, realizes that the time has come to get on with the plot. (He kisses EVA.) Now, run away, my darling. Daddy has got to corner wheat. (EVA kisses him and moves towards door. As she goes, BREAMWORTHY covers his face with his hand and utters a deep groan. EVA stops.) EVA (at door): Booful daddy, why is oo sad? BREAMWORTHY (raising a haggard face): Sad? Do I seem sad? (Laughs mirthlessly.) Ha! (laughs mirthlessly again.) Ha! EVA (prattling to her evening paper): Darling paper, why is daddy sad? (Exit, pr attling.) BREAMWORTHY: Sad! (Laughs mirthlessly) Ha! (Plunges face in hands, then, recover ing himself, takes up receiver of telephone.) Give me umpty-um-umpty-um-um. (Pau se.) Is that you, Dawkins? Sell Slambango Steel when it touches umpty-um. Buy a million of Umpty-um. Yes? No? Ah! No? Yes? All right. (hangs up receiver.) (Enter MRS. BREAMWORTHY. She is a richly-dressed woman of about forty. She wears the latest and scantiest costume advertised in the back pages of Vanity Fair, a nd a worried look. .) MRS. BREAMWORTHY: John. BREAMWORTHY: My dear? MRS. BREAMWORTHY: John, I’m worried. BREAMWORTHY: Ha! (recovering himself) What seems to be the nature of the trouble ? MRS. BREAMWORTHY: Something is wrong, John. I cannot say what, but I sense it in the atmosphere. What is the matter with us? You are a rich man. I am an attract ive woman. Yet Society gives us the cold shoulder. See. (Produces paper): Listen . (Reads) “Mrs. Stuyvesant-Stuyvesant’s The Dansant . . . bobble-bobble-bobble . . . among the guests were Mrs. bobble-bobble-bobble, Mrs. bobble-bobble-bobble . . . and Mrs. bobble-bobble-bobble.” But not Mrs. J. Braithwaite Breamworthy. Why not Mrs. J. Braithwaite Breamworthy. Why am I never invited—(sobs) never invited? BREAMWORTHY (massaging her shoulder. Soothing stuff): My dear! MRS. BREAMWORTHY (sobbing): I cannot bear it. Why did we ever leave Kansas City for this horrible town? Kansas City, where we were so well known and respected— wh ere I could make a social reputation with a nod of my head and break one with a shake. Why can’t I move in swift society here? Why am I ostracized? Why was I not invited to Mrs. De Peyster’s last supper? Why am I not invited anywhere? (Breaks a way, and makes for door.) Ah! It is torturing me. I cannot bear it. (Exit. Sobs diminish in distance off stage): Oh! Oh! Oh! (Or even a better line, if we can t hink one up during rehearsals.) There is a pause here as long as the audience will stand for it. Breamworthy fil ls in with business of busy business-man. He takes up a pen, lays it down; takes up a sheet of paper, lays it down; takes up telephone, lays it down; and does a

ll the other things by means of which large fortunes are made. (Enter BILLINGS, a butler.) BILLINGS: A gentleman to see you, sir. BREAMWORTHY: Strange. (Reads card) “Jasper K. Skinner.” Show him in. (Exit BILLINGS) BREAMWORTHY: Jasper K. Skinner? (Takes up card again and examines it) Jasper K. Skinner. (Sinking his voice to a whisper.) Jasper. K. Skinner. It is this sort of thing which marks off your professional playwright from the a mateur. The lines are inverted to give Billings time to fetch Mr. Skinner from t he hall, where the under-butler is watching him to see that he does not steal an y coats and umbrellas. It is technique. (Re-enter BILLINGS.) BILLINGS: Mr. Jasper K. Skinner. (Enter SKINNER. He is a hard-faced, sinister looking man of middle age. You can tell at a glance that he is a bad lot. There is something furtive about him, som ething shifty. Exit BILLINGS.) BREAMWORTHY: Mr. Skinner? You wished to see me? Take a seat. (SKINNER sits down, and there is a pause.) SKINNER (offensively): Nice little place you have here, Breamworthy. BREAMWORTHY (starting at this familiarity.) MR. Breamworthy! SKINNER: You are a rich man. BREAMWORTHY: I am. SKINNER: You will need to be. BREAMWORTHY: What is the meaning? SKINNER: I know all. BREAMWORTHY: All what? SKINNER: All about you. BREAMWORTHY: Explain yourself. SKINNER: I will. (SKINNER produces pocketbook.) BREAMWORTHY: What have you there? SKINNER: Copies, J. Braithwaite Breamworthy, of documents which prove that it wa s you——you, the Wellington of Wall Street, the Napoleon of the Ritz—who, in the spring of ’96, got a divorce from your first wife, while your present, second wife, was getting a divorce from her second husband to marry you! BREAMWORTHY: Ha!

SKINNER: You little thought that Jasper K. Skinner was on your track. For years I have planned and plotted to secure the necessary evidence, and now, J. Braithw aite Breamworthy, I’ve got you. BREAMWORTHY: You say you can prove this? SKINNER: To the hilt. So what shall we say to begin with? A million? BREAMWORTHY: A million? What for? SKINNER: The price of my silence. (Enter simultaneously at back, MRS BREAMWORTHY, little EVA, and BILLINGS. [As a matter of fact, I shall want a farce set after all. At least three doors are ess ential—one for each of these three characters] The wife, the child, and the butler stand there, unperceived, listening.) BREAMWORTHY: The price of your silence? Good heavens man, you don’t think I want t o keep this silent, do you? For years I have planned and plotted to get this thi ng into the papers; to prove that I was once a divorced man, but they have never been willing to print it. They said that we were not sufficiently well known to make the item desirable for them. The inability to prove our claims, and get th em published in Town Topics, The Herald and the Clubfellow has blighted our live s, blighted my wife’s life, blighted the life of my innocent child, and blighted t he life of my faithful butler. Ah, the snobbishness of New York society! Just be cause there were no divorce scandals which were familiarly known about us, these haughty social magnates continue to snub us. Their wives refused to receive my wife. Their children avoided my child. Their butlers looked down on my butler. A nd when I tried to tell them how thoroughly divorced we were they wouldn’t believe me—they wouldn’t believe me. They told me to prove it. And now you have come, and a ll is well. SKINNER (thunderstruck): You won’t come across? BREAMWORTHY: Not a cent. SKINNER: Then I shall destroy the documents and deny that you were ever divorced . BREAMWORTHY: It will be useless. See! (Produces dictaphone front under desk.) Ev ery word of our conversation is recorded here. I’ll show it to all the city editor s. They’ll print it now; every one of them. SKINNER: But, dash it, Breamworthy, I’ve sunk all my money in getting those docume nts. EVA: Serve you right, bad Mister Man. SKINNER: Won’t you even give me my car-fare home? BREAMWORTHY: No. SKINNER: Curse you Breamworthy. (Exit.) BREAMWORTHY: Come, Genevieve. Come Eva. Come, Billings. (holds out his arms.) Th e Stuyvesants and the De Peysters will absolutely grovel at our feet. The papers will not dare to omit our names from those present at the Ritz; at the Winter G arden; at the opera; at the dog show; at the Piping Rock Club; at Heaven only kn ows where.

(MRS. BREAMWORTHY, EVA and BILLINGS rush into his arms, forming an extremely pre tty picture as the curtain descends quietly.

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THE COMING OF SPRING Original Thoughts on a Wholly Original Theme by C. P. West Vanity Fair (May 1916) SPRING is here! What magic in those words. We look out of our window at the heap ed up snow, which Street Cleaning Commissioner Fetherston has been unable to cle ar away; we turn on a little more steam heat; and we say to ourselves “Well, Sprin g is here. Hurrah!” What a gay, happy season it is. On every side the book-stalls are bright with ne xt December’s Christmas numbers of the magazines. The latest costumes, designed by some lunatic in Paris with a grudge against the human race, cause us to renew t he vow we swore on New Year’s Eve to avoid the demon Rum. Hats which we have only seen before in nightmares smite the eye wherever we go. We hear the joyous note of the automobile salesman honking to his mate. The traffic policemen discard th eir ear-muffs. The panhandler emerges from Blackwell’s Island where he has been sp ending the winter and parades the streets once more. In Central Park swarms of h appy children are digging their heels into the young grass and not doing a thing to it. Out in Brooklyn is heard the whirr of the wheels of a hundred thousand b aby-carriages. In a million stores a million commuters are buying the flower-see ds which will shortly fill their gardens with bindweed. Brimstone and molasses f low in a gurgling stream down a million happy young throats. For it is Spring!

IT has often seemed to me a remarkable thing, considering the effect which the s eason has on us, that no poet has ever conceived the idea of dealing in verse wi th the subject of Spring. Even if you are a vers libre bard and can afford to de spise rhymes, you cannot deny that there is something about this particular time of the year which is poetic and stimulating. And if you are one of the old-fash ioned poets who like to have a poem rhyme, Spring is simply made for you. It rhy mes with wing, sing, sting, bing! Gosh ding! fling, Ming (if you should happen t o want to write of Spring in ancient China), ring, cling, and other admirable an d useful words. It is strange indeed that the theme should have been so consiste ntly neglected by the merry songsters throughout the ages. Spring is the season of hope. Directly the calendar informs us that it is once m ore in our midst, we shed our winter flannels and don our flimsy gents’ suitings a nd stride out upon the Avenue, hoping that we shall not contract double pneumoni a. And not even the fact that this hope is never realized can daunt us. The only exceptions to this rule are theatrical managers, who very wisely wear their fur -lined overcoats all the year round. May Day! What a thrilling promise of love it brings! Soon, all over New York, ba nkers will be spending the better part of their lives on the Follies Roof. And s

oon the fashionable young polo player will be wooing his best friend’s wife. And t he serious minded business-man will be offering the usual tribute of gardenias t o the coy and diffident coryphées in one of the thousand and one Russian ballets n ow devastating our fair Island of Manhattan.

And, over the whole scene, Cupids—flying Cupids, dancing Cupids, musical Cupids, w inged Cupids, robust Cupids, will be whirling about and adding to the general ch aos and confusion of Love’s triumphal merry-go-round.

SPRING is the season of love. It is a well-established scientific fact that the normal human being can fall in love with anyone in the Spring. It is always abou t this time of the year that the papers are obliged to give a couple of lines (i nstead of the customary three columns) to the blighted romance of the millionair e’s only son who wanted to marry the second girl from the end of the first row and was stopped at the church door by his nurse. With the coming of Spring the entr ance to the City Hall begins to resemble a Subway express during the rush hour. As far as the eye can see, the approaches to the building are congested with wil d-eyed young men, brandishing dollar bills and sparing neither age nor sex in th eir mad charge for the little window in the license department where they hand y ou out the form which you must fill in before you can even think of alimony as a factor which will play a part in your life. Nat Goodwin gets married every Spring. If May Day came and found De Wolf Hopper still wondering whether to take the plunge, he would be ashamed of himself. Neve r a Spring approaches but the Sultan of Turkey sends the Grand Vizier round the corner to the five and ten cent store to purchase a fresh consignment of wives. Hard-headed business-men whose minds during the winter months have been filled w ith Bethlehem Steel and Crucible Ingots heave sighs and automatically marry thei r stenographers. Prudent bachelors, frankly acknowledging their weakness, lock t hemselves into their apartments and lose the key, lest a worse fate befall. To a dd to the romance of the season, many of our best people now make a point of get ting their divorce in the Spring. This leaves them unhampered when they fall in love with someone else, and keeps the wires from getting crossed. Editor’s Note: C. P. West is one of the many names that P. G. Wodehouse used in th e 1910s when he wrote the majority of the articles for Vanity Fair. C. P. West a ctually stands for Central Park West.

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A TIMELY CHAT ABOUT GARDENS Showing How Easily the Tired City Man May Cultivate a Little Plot on the Roof By P Brooke-Haven Vanity Fair June 1916 SUMMER is here. (If I had been writing a lyric for musical comedy I should have added the words Tra-la-la, tra-la-la, but in a serious and technical article the se would, of course, be out of place.) Summer is here. All over the city wives a

re dragging husbands away from the shop-windows, where they would fain linger an d gaze at straw hats. The open cars are with us. Soon the policeman on the corne r will be shedding his winter plumage like a snake—or rather a bird. Six million p eople are preparing to utter the words, “Is it hot enough for you?” The Ice Trust is wondering how high it will be able to raise its prices this time. Eight clubs a re proclaiming that they have the National League pennant cinched. And—this is wha t I have been working round to all the time, though you did not know it—the though t of the garden is uppermost in every mind. The garden! What music there is in the word. We all love some kind of a garden, whether it be a Dutch, an Italian, a suburban, a Madison Square, a roof, a Winte r or a Mary. Every editor knows that at this season of the year the safest card he can play is an article on “Growing Young and Beautiful in My Onion Bed,” “How I Mak e My Half Acre Support My Little Ones,” “Beets, Radishes and Happiness,” or some kindr ed subject. There is no surer way to the heart of the great public than by dragg ing in something about a garden. George M. Cohan laid the foundations of his sub stantial fortune by waving the American flag at selected moments of his dramas. If he had waved a lawn-mower or a tomato plant, the audiences would be cheering still.

OF all kinds of gardens, I think the one that appeals to me least is that of the rich man. It produces little but photographs in the Sunday papers, and I resent the substitution of a page of views of the Long Island estate of G. Whatawad fo r the page of photographs of chorus girls which I have come to look upon as a Sa bbath necessity. There is a grim amusement to be derived from the sight of these photographs, for one knows perfectly well that, however beautiful the garden ma y he, G. Whatawad himself, though paying the ruinous bills, is not permitted to get any satisfaction out of it. He may be a superman in his office, but in his g arden he is a mere worm, trembling before the autocrat imported at enormous expe nse from Scotland to look after it, not daring to pluck a flower, and knowing th at if he so much as sets foot on the five-hundred-year-old turf, imported at eno rmous expense from England, bang goes his chance of retaining the services of An gus MacGregor. The best he can do is to sit in the marble temple imported at eno rmous expense from Italy; and even there his pleasure is spoiled by the fact tha t he may not drop ashes on the floor. A miserable life for a garden lover! O, poverty, where is thy sting?

FAR better is the lot of the humble commuter. There is a man who gets the most o ut of life. In him the tending of a garden fosters all the virtues, from patienc e to preparedness. To see such a one dealing with an invasion of slugs is to kno w that the heart of the country is sound and that the problem of national defenc e may be looked upon as settled. I should not care to be a member of an invading army faced by a horde of commuters roused to the defence of their gardens. A fo rty-two centimetre gun may be all very well in its way, a tolerably serviceable minor league weapon, but what chance would it have against a few earnest commute rs armed with rakes and garden hoses? Anyone who has ever seen the owner of a ga rden making a frontal attack on a chicken which has been scratching his young le ttuces shudders when he thinks what would happen to an alien army which proposed to come and trample all over the place with heavy military boots. An hour after such troops landed you would only be able to use them as fertilizer. Heaven, according to one school of theology, is a place where things come up loo king like the pictures on the cover of the seed-catalogues. It is true that in t his world there is an element of uncertainty; and therein lies perhaps the only objection to the garden as cultivated by the majority of Americans.

As the new gardens are all being decorated by “modernist” or “futurist” types of statuar y, people should be careful to choose a point somewhat removed from these new ar t statue-busts. For instance, gaze upon these busts of Hermes and Diana. No, tho se legs and arms are not a part of the god and goddess. They belong to Clarence and Muriel, a pair of plighted lovers.

TO the metropolitan reader, of course, it is the roof variety of garden which ma kes the greatest appeal. Of the rich man’s garden and the suburban garden he knows only by hearsay, but every summer he can see the roof garden blooming all aroun d him. I have been fortunate enough to induce Mr Isadore Reigelheimer, perhaps t he most successful of all operators in this line, to talk for publication on the subject of his hobby. So successful has Mr Reigelheimer been that he is now abl e to charge visitors no less than two dollars for the privilege of entering his garden, exclusive of the ransom of their hats. “I think”, said Mr Reigelheimer, thoughtfully fingering the priceless diamond that i llumines his shirt-front like a searchlight, “that there must be something peculia r about the soil of a roof-garden, for I have found no difficulty in producing p eaches in mid-winter and asparagus during the months when the sight of asparagus has the effect of being an optical delusion. In fact, you may say that there is no fruit, however exotic, which cannot be grown on my estate. Lemons have been plucked there all the year round. I think the fact that I rely on artificial lig ht may have something to do with it.” I was privileged to inspect Mr Reigelheimer’s garden in the company of its proprie tor, and it was pretty to watch the enthusiasm with which he pointed out its var ied attractions. The air, as we strolled through this wonderful pleasaunce, was heavy with a hundred perfumes, and full of the strange, haunting music of a New York summer night. The shrill note of the cabaret artist calling to her mate sou nded intermittently as we walked, blending tunefully with the low plunk-plunk-pl unk of the black banjoist, perched on some near-by eminence. In the depth of the foliage could be heard the incessant chattering of wakeful night-birds. The Uku lele bird was chirping on a distant knoll. “Ain’t Nature wonderful?” murmured my host reverently, pausing before a superb specime n of the Chorine Broadwayensis, which sprang from a rustic table close at hand a nd twined itself about a sturdy Diamond Jim Splendidus like some rare Brazilian orchid round a sturdy oak.

HE was indeed right. As far as the eye could reach the garden was a glittering m ass of many-colored flowers. incessantly sprinkled with vintage champagnes by th e assiduous gardeners. A necessary precaution, my host informed me, for without this attention they were apt to wilt and wither. How right he was I could see fo r myself, for before my very eyes there took place the restoration of a magnific ent night-blooming tango worm which had been neglected and seemed on the point o f death. Scarcely had the gardener ministered to this shrub when it was in full bloom once more, revived as if by magic. Such is a typical roof-garden. It is the nearest thing to Paradise that you can expect—for two dollars. Maud, if in funds, would hardly have hesitated even for an instant had she been invited to come into such a garden as Mr Reigelheimer’s. Inc

identally, the tango worm is the most dangerous of all garden pests. The kind wi th the pomaded hair being particularly hard to suppress. Editor’s Note: P. Brooke Haven is one of the many names that P. G. Wodehouse used in the 1910s when he wrote the majority of the articles for Vanity Fair.

~~~ The End ~~~

THE ALARMING SPREAD OF POETRY A Little Free Speech About Free Verse By PELHAM GRENVILLE Vanity Fair(June 1916) RECENTLY I had occasion to visit, on business the nature of which does not come within the scope of this article, my old friend Dodd of the firm of Winchley, Do dd and Co. It was a perfect day, and as I was not pressed for time I thought it would be pleasant to stroll part of the way, smoking thoughtfully. Entering a to bacco-store, I addressed the youth behind the counter. He was a dreamy-eyed youn g man, and as I entered he was scribbling something on his shirt cuff with a stu b of pencil. I could hear him muttering something about “light” and “bright.” “I want a mild cigar,” I said. He bustled about among his boxes, all eagerness and efficiency. “A mild cigar? About what price? Ah! here you are. You’ll find this nice. I hear eac h day somebody say this brand’s the best by far. All other smokes are simply jokes compared with this cigar.” I thought little of the incident, until I reached the office building where my f riend works. A child of tender years was standing in the elevator, gazing heaven ward in a rapt sort of way and chewing a fountain-pen. I addressed him. ‘’Take me to Winchley, Dodd and Co. They are on the second floor.” ”Step right inside, and up we go. The elevator isn’t slow. In fifteen seconds, sir, or so, you’ll tap upon their door.” I obeyed the child’s instructions, and, entering the office, accosted the office-b oy. He had long hair and was dictating something to the stenographer. I caught t he words “breath” and “death.” “Who is it that you wish to see? Be candid and confide in me.” I said I wished to see Mr. Dodd. “Mr. Dodd? Why, that’s odd. There’s his room, but he’s not in it. He’s gone out. Not a dou bt! He’ll be back in half a minute.” And then I perceived with that clarity which comes from actual personal observat ion how universal the once sporadic disease of poetry had become in our midst.

TO the thinking man there are few things more disturbing than the realization th at we are becoming a nation of minor poets. In the good old days poets were for the most part confined to garrets, which they left only for the purpose of being ejected from the offices of the magazines and papers to which they attempted to sell their wares. Nobody ever thought of reading a book of poems unless accompa nied by a guarantee from the publisher that the author had been dead at least a hundred years. Poetry, like wine, certain brands of cheese, public buildings and Hans Wagner, was rightly considered to improve with age; and no connoisseur wou ld have dreamed of filling himself with raw, indigestible verse, warm from the m aker’s. Today all this is changed. Editors are paying real money for poetry; publishers are making a profit on books of verse; and many a young man who, had he been bor n earlier, would have sustained life on a crust of bread, is now sending for the manager to find out how the restaurant dares try to sell a fellow champagne lik e this as genuine Pommery Brut. Naturally this is having a marked effect on the life of the community. Our children grow to adolescence with the feeling that th ey can become poets instead of working. Many an embryo bill clerk has been ruine d by the heady knowledge that poems are paid for at the rate of a dollar a line. All over the country promising young plasterers and rising young motor-men are throwing up steady jobs in order to devote themselves to the new profession. On a sunny afternoon down in Washington Square one’s progress in positively impeded b y the swarms of young poets brought out by the warm weather. It is a horrible si ght to see those unfortunate youths, who ought to be sitting happily at desks wr iting “Dear Sir. Your favor of the tenth inst. duly received and contents noted. I n reply we beg to state . . . ” wandering about with their fingers in their hair a nd their features distorted with the agony of composition, as they try to find r hymes to “cosmic” and “symbolism.” And, as if matters were not bad enough already, along comes Mr. Edgar Lee Master s and invents vers libre. It is too early yet to judge the full effects of this man’s horrid discovery, but there is no doubt that he has taken the lid off and un leashed forces over which none can have any control. All those decent restrictio ns which used to check poets have vanished, and who shall say what will be the o utcome?

UNTIL Mr. Masters came on the scene there was just one thing which, like a salie nt fortress in the midst of an enemy’s advancing forces, acted as a barrier to the youth of the country. When one’s son came to one and said, “Father, I shall not be able to fulfil your dearest wish and start work in the fertilizer department. I have decided to become a poet.” Although one could no longer frighten him from his purpose by talking of garrets and starvation, there was still one weapon left. “W hat about the rhymes. Willie?” you replied, and the eager light died out of the bo y’s face, as he perceived the catch in what he had taken for a good thing. You pre ssed your advantage. “Think of having to spend your life making one line rhyme wit h another! Think of the bleak future, when you have used up ‘moon’ and ‘June,’ ‘ love’ and ve,’ ‘May’ and ‘gay!’ Think of the moment when you have ended the last line but one of you r poem with ‘window’ or ‘warmth’ and have to buckle to, trying to make the thing couple up in accordance with the rules! What then, Willie?” Next day a new hand had signed on in the fertilizer department. But now all that has changed. Not only are rhymes no longer necessary, but edito rs positively prefer them left out. If Longfellow had been writing today he woul d have had to revise “The Village Blacksmith” if he wanted to pull in that dollar a

line. No editor would print stuff like: Under the spreading chestnut-tree The village smithy stands The smith a brawny man is he With large and sinewy hands. If Longfellow were living in these hyphenated, free and versy days, he would fin d himself compelled to take his pen in hand and dictate as follows: In life I was the village smith. I worked all day But I retained the delicacy of my complexion Because I worked in the shade of the chestnut-tree Instead of in the sun Like Nicholas Blodgett, the expressman. I was large and strong Because I went in for physical culture And deep breathing And all those stunts. I had the biggest biceps in Spoon River. After publishing a few like that he would have had to keep a dog to chase away t he editors who cluttered up his door-step and pestered him for stuff. He would h ave had to wear a false mustache if he meant to walk anywhere near the magazine offices. And if he had seen Charles Hanson Towne coming he would have run like a rabbit.

WHO can say where this thing will end? Vers libre is within the reach of all. A sleeping nation has wakened to the realization that there is money to be made ou t of chopping its prose into bits. Ninety million people are discovering that th ey have been giving away all their lives what they might have sold for good mone y. Only the other day I myself was stricken with the disease. I happened to be w riting to my landlord what is technically known as a “strong letter” about the state of the roof, dwelling on its imperfections, and hinting at the probable danger of allowing it to continue in its present state. I had not got half-way through it when I perceived that I was letting good stuff go to waste. I tore up the let ter and sent the following to a magazine: Passer by, Take a good took at the above tombstone. I died of acute rheumatism, Universally respected. (No flowers, by request.) Wasn’t it rotten luck? Everybody loved me, But the landlord would not fix the roof, And the rain came in and made the house Damp, And that finished me I tied myself in knots and Expired. Spoon River has forgotten me, Everyone in Spoon River has forgotten me Except

Ed Judkins, the drug-store man. I owed him fifty cents. A child can do it. And, what is worse, nearly every child is doing it. Things ha ve reached such a pitch that our little ones take to poetry as soon as they writ e a legible hand. Something must be done shortly if the nation is to be saved fr om this menace. But what? It is no good shooting Edgar Lee Masters, for the misc hief has been done, and even making an example of him could not undo it. Probabl y the only hope lies in the fact that poets never buy other poets’ stuff. When onc e we have all become poets, the sale of verse will cease or be limited to the fe w copies which individual poets will buy to give to their friends.

~~~ The End ~~~

A PRICELESS BOON FOR AUTHORS How They Can Prosper in Literature, Advertising and Public Speaking BY P. BROOKE-HAVEN Vanity Fair (July 1916) REGGIE was seated in the club smoking-room when I found him. He was reading an i llustrated paper. He extended it towards me, showing the photograph of a brutal looking man, in the early thirties, who scowled from the page in a ferocious and aggressive manner. “Do you know him?” asked Reggie, keeping his hand over the name. “I’m not quite sure,” I said, scrutinizing the creature. “Isn’t it Battling Blodger, the f ellow who’s trying to get a match on with Jess Willard?” “It’s Algernon Primrose, the author of that book ’Songs of a Soul in Anguish,’ which the critics say is unmatched in its tender fancy and poetic charm.” “He doesn’t look much like his work.” “No author does,” said Reggie, “except at great inconvenience to himself. That is why my “Authors’ Understudies’ Bureau” is going to make so much money. I have long contempla ted starting it, and this photograph has decided me. It will supply a long-felt want, and when you can do that, you’ve got a cinch. My prices will be a bit stiff, but there isn’t an author in the country who won’t have to come to me. It will be a choice between coming to me and being driven out of business.” “I don’t think I quite understand,” I said. “What is the Authors’ Understudies Bureau?” “It’s quite simple. In the old days an author was not expected to do anything but wr ite. He wrote his book, and if the public liked it they bought it. But that simp le old regime is a thing of the past. Papers now want photographs of authors, be cause the public wants to know what they look like. And, because as a rule they look like nothing on earth, the result is discomfiture for the author and disapp ointment for the reader. “Suppose you read a novel full of what appears to be first-hand knowledge of the f eminine soul and discover the following Saturday, when you open your illustrated literary supplement that the man who wrote it has a face like a rabbit and wear s large spectacles and a low collar!

Naturally your faith in the book is going to be shaken. You know perfectly well that no woman ever bothered to speak to a man like that, much less lay bare her soul to him, and— consequently—that the whole thing was guess-work and unreliable. “Next time that man writes a sex novel, you are going to keep your dollar thirty-f ive in your pocket.

“NOW, when my Bureau gets to work, all that will be changed. “The low-collared rabbit, who is, of course, perfectly aware of his physical short comings, comes round to me, explains the nature of his book, and asks me what I’ve got in stock. I parade my corps of gentlemanly assistants, and he takes his pic k. He hesitates for a moment at the one who looks like a Roman emperor who’s been doing himself a shade too well, and settles on the one with the dark, mysterious eyes, and the cruel, cynical mouth. We send this man off to the photographer’s, a nd the author goes away perfectly happy, with nothing more to do but cash his ch ecks for royalties. “Modern civilization is nothing but an energetic correcting of Nature’s mistakes, an d Nature never bungled worse than when designing the exteriors of great minds. “To take the case I have just cited, my assistant with the cynical mouth looks lik e a sociological novelist and is really a ribbon-counter clerk, whereas the rabb it-faced author is really sociological novelist and looks like a ribbon-counter clerk. My task is simply to fuse the two into one agreeable whole.

“THE more you look into the thing, the more evident does it become that the Bureau is destined to alleviate the lot of authors to an almost incredible extent. Thi nk of the writers who now have to go through a perfect martyrdom in order to try to oblige their public. “Look at Jack London, for instance. You don’t suppose the poor man likes looking lik e that? You know what I mean—that sport-shirt, that hero collar, that head-throwndefiantly-back stuff. London is a man of almost passionate attachment to a high collar, pomaded hair, and a silk hat, but his public would quit him in a body if he ever let himself be photographed in his favorite costume. “They like to think of him as a strong, rugged, civilization-defying man, so he is obliged to spend hours cultivating an appearance midway between that of a lion surprised while drinking and a miner interrupted at a free lunch. If my Bureau h ad been in existence when he first began to achieve fame, London would have been a happier man.

“LOOK at Bernard Shaw, for instance. I just happen to know that his life’s ambition is to be clean-shaven and it is only by the exercise of jaw-muscles trained to t he strength of steel by a million socialist speeches that he is able to keep tha t smileless expression on his face long enough to get it photographed. When not facing the camera he has a grin that meets at the back of his head. “It is positive torture to him to have to look as if the bran and excelsior which he had at lunch had not agreed with him, but what else can he do when he writes like that? The public expect him to be saturnine, so he has to be it. Irvin Cobb is another example.

“Life is a constant struggle for him between his fondness for the severer forms of athletic sports and the fear that if he reduces it may hurt him in his public c apacity. His breezy, cheery humor creates a demand for an appearance that is in keeping with it, and he simply dares not diminish himself. “In this respect G. K. Chesterton is an even greater sufferer. If he were to begin publishing photographs of himself as a slender, athletic young man, his livelih ood would be gone. It would be as great a disaster for him as the changing of it s trade-mark would be for the Dohavea Biscuit. “Think what it must mean to Chesterton to be invited to play tennis, a game of whi ch he is inordinately fond, or to take a Turkish bath, his passion for which amo unts almost to an obsession. “All over the place the same sort of thing is going on. It nearly breaks my heart to look at a literary supplement nowadays. Every photograph I see in it is eithe r an awful disappointment or has so much effort at the back of it that the mere contemplation of it makes one tired.

“IT is not only literary supplements, either. There are tobacco advertisements as well. The proprietors no doubt think it is a recommendation for their stuff to p rint a photograph of Mr. Eustace Bingley Borrodaile, author of ‘Hearts Aflame,’ with a legend under it running: “‘I shudder to think what the world would be like without Lenox Tobacco. Not only is it conducive to old age, bright eyes, and a healthy skin, and a sure preventati ve of mumps, measles, beri-beri and blind staggers, but it also enlarges and imp roves the soul. Abraham Lincoln would have been a better man if he had filled hi s jimmy-pipe with good old Lenox.’ “But what is the result, really? You look at the photograph of Eustace Bingley Bor rodaile, and you see a meager, wizened, hollow-cheeked man apparently about to d ie of anaemia. Naturally you say to yourself, ’If that’s how Lenox Tobacco makes you look, none of it for me. Now suppose my Bureau were running. I should make a sp ecialty of hale, hearty fellows who would spend their whole time being photograp hed as great authors for tobacco advertisements. Their mere appearance would sen d you rushing round the corner for a ten-cent package, and you wouldn’t have a hap py moment till you had torn open the wrapper and filled your jimmy-pipe (whateve r—if anything—a jimmy-pipe may be).

“THEN, of course, there would be other developments. Authors, notoriously the most tongue-tied section of the community, are constantly being requested to make af ter-dinner speeches. Instead of undergoing the weeks of misery in which they now watch the horrid date drawing ever closer, they would simply pay me a visit and I would tell off a competent and good-looking talker to deputize for him. “The author would be happy because he would not have to speak, the diners would be happy because they would not have to listen to him, and my employee would be ha ppy because he would be pouching a fat fee. Everybody happy, in short. And what more could you want?” “Where would you get your competent and good-looking talkers?” I asked. “Actors out of a job. I could probably get them for a reduced sum, because they no t only love dining but they also love the sound of their own voices.”

“But,” I said, “there would certainly be difficulties—” “There’s only one difficulty—the scheme needs a little capital. Which reminds me. Can you lend me a five-spot, dear boy, till next Wednesday week, when it shall be re turned to you positively without fail.”

~~~ The End ~~~

THE PASSING OF THE DRAMATIC FIXER Mr. Galsworthy’s “Justice” Seems to Have Dealt Him a Death-Blow By Pelham Grenville Vanity Fair (July 1916) WHATEVER results the vogue of “Justice” may have on the fortunes of convicts, it is bound to ameliorate the lot of a scarcely less down-trodden class of the communi ty, — the Young Dramatists. Already it is amazing to see the difference it has mad e in their demeanor. They used to go about looking more like crushed rabbits tha n anything human, saying “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” and “I see what you mean” when they met a Fixer. Now, they buy flowers for their buttonholes and chuck out their chests an d assert themselves, for they know that “Justice” has dealt the Fixer a death-blow.

THE Fixer — we may write of him in the past tense — was a gentleman of uncertain age and habits with a bad complexion and a face either too little or too thoroughly shaved, in the unerringness of whose judgment as to what the public wanted mana gers had a faith that was touching, based on the fact that back in the nineties he had once rewritten a failure and turned it into a success. He was the man who was “called in,” “spoken to,” or “arranged with” to “fix” the young author’s play. He wore hat and twisted between his lips a permanently unlighted cigar, and he always b egan his remarks, when he did not begin them with “Say, lemme tell ya somethin’!” with the words “Say, lizzun, I’ve been twenty years in this business!” It was his task, wh ich he performed with the gusto of a child disembowelling a Teddy Bear, to take the young dramatist’s play and, having removed all that was fresh and original fro m it on the ground that “They” didn’t want “that sort of stuff,” to insert material which was “bound to go” because it always had gone. Few people know what trouble Mr. Galsworthy had with the Fixer, but here is a tr uthful account of it, published for the first time.

ENTERING the office of the manager, in response to a letter asking him to call, Mr. Galsworthy found him in conversation with a complacent-looking person with a shaven neck and an unlighted cigar, who was leaning back in a swivel-chair with his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat. “Shake hands with Mr. Whoosis,” said the manager. “I kinda like that little play you s ent me, and I’ve arranged with Mr. Whoosis to fix it.” “Indeed?” said Mr. Galsworthy blankly. The Fixer shelled the cuspidor with indirect fire and shifted his cigar from eas t to west. “Say, lizzun,” he said, “I’ve been twenty years in this business, and I know what I’m talking about. You’re a novelist, ain’t you? I thought so. Well, novelists ca

n’t write plays.” “Why not?” said Mr. Galsworthy.

“Because they can’t. I’ve been twenty years in this business and I know. Now, see here , I’ve been reading this thing of yours, this — what’s it called? — ’Justice,’ and I can se where I can make something of it. But it’s all wrong as it stands. They don’t want that sort of thing. The stuff’s there, but it wants fixing. Now, lizzun. Take the first act. You make your hero a poor clerk who raises a check from nine to ninet y pounds so as to be able to run away with a married woman. That’s no good. He don’t get the sympathy of the audience. They ain’t interested in clerks, and he’s got to be accused of something bigger than a piking thing like that. And you’ve got to ha ve a straight love interest, else you won’t get the matinee girls. Say, lemme tell ya somethin’. Here’s the way the first act ought to be. You’ve got to make this Willi am Falder the son of a millionaire who’s lost all his money on Wall Street. I’ll wri te in a prologue showing him doing it, and young Falder, who’s just come back from Harvard, slaps him on the back and says ’Cheer up, dad, I’ll restore the family for tunes.’ See? You get a punch that way, because nobody ever thought the boy had it in him. All he’s ever done up to now is win the game against Yale by making an eig hty-yard run with the ball. I introduce the girl in the prologue, too. Her fathe r’s a millionaire, and he won’t let her marry young Falder now that his father’s lost his money. You get a story that way. Then we go on to what’s now your first act. Y oung Falder is working in the offices of another millionaire. You get some love stuff when the girl comes to see him. Then Cokeson raises a check from a hundred to a hundred thousand and plants the job on the boy. You’ve got to make Cokeson t he villain, y’understand. There’s nothing to him as you’ve got him. He’s just an old man . Well, there’s a fuss, of course. The boy’s arrested. In comes the girl. ’Oh, Harold,’ —y ou’ve got to change him to Harold. They a in’t interested in Williams. — ’Oh, Harold,’ she says, ’I know you are innocent of this frightful charge. Tell me you are innocent .’ The boy turns to her and folds her in his arms and says ’Hilda, as there is a God in Heaven, I am guiltless.’ Curtain, on a peppy situation!” “But,” said Mr. Galsworthy, “doesn’t that rather spoil the motive of the play?” “It gives it a motive,” said the Fixer.

HE shifted his cigar from west to east. “Now, then, let’s take your trial scene. Say , anyone could see you were an amateur by the way you’ve handled that. There’s no dr ama in it. The way you’ve got it, the audience knows the fellow’s guilty and that th ere isn’t a chance on earth for him. There’s no dramatic suspense. And, gee! young F alder might be a forty-a-week part instead of the star’s, the way you’ve kept him of f the center of the stage. I’ve fixed all that. The way I’ve laid it out, there’s some sense in Cokeson’s appearance on the stand. The audience know he’s a crook, and the y’re waiting to see how he’ll make out. He tells his side of the thing, and then you get a big dramatic moment. He says that when he gave Falder the check to take t o the bank it was only for a hundred pounds. Young Falder leans out of the dock and points his finger at him and shouts ’You lying hound! As there is a God in Hea ven, you know it was for a hundred thousand.’” “But would a bank hand a hundred thousand pounds across the counter without making any enquiries?” said Mr. Galsworthy. “Say, the audience won’t think of that. Well, now, where were we? Oh, yes. Now, lemm e tell ya somethin’. You’ve got to put more of the girl into that act. I’ve laid out a scene where she talks to the hero — she’s on the stand, he’s in the dock. Dramatic co ntrast, y’understand. She says she still believes in his innocence. She denounces old Cokeson as the real crook, and then swoons, and the hero rushes from the doc k and catches her. See? Good Picture. Well, after you’ve kept the audience guessin

g all through the act, the jury find Falder guilty, and he’s sentenced to prison f or three years. I get some drama into this, because in the course of the trial I’v e made the judge discover that Falder is really his son. Yes, I know you thought he was the millionaire’s son, but I’ve fixed that in the prologue, where there’s a li ne or two showing how the millionaire found him on his doorstep one night as a b aby and adopted him. I’ve got a dandy scene during the trial where Falder, on the stand, takes out a locket with the picture of his dead mother in it and kisses i t and swears by it that he is innocent, and the judge asks to look at it and goe s all up in the air because it’s the picture of the dead wife he deserted twenty-f ive years ago. It links the story up, ya see.” “I see,” said Mr. Galsworthy. “Now, we get to the prison scene. Say, lemme tell ya somethin’. You’ve just chucked aw ay all the dramatic possibilities of that. Why, gee! you don’t make anything happe n.”

MR. GALSWORTHY said that he had thought that the scene of Falder’s solitary confin ement would be rather impressive. The Fixer nearly swallowed his cigar in his di sapproval. “Nothing to it!” he said. “Who wants to see a gink walking up and down and saying nothing? No, I’ve fixed that act fine. I make the convicts mutiny. I wonder you didn’t think of that, seeing you’ve planted for it by having them kick on their doors. Well, there is a big scene, and Falder escapes. And then we get the last act where he comes back, and old Cokeson confesses, and Falder marries the girl . Gives her a chance to come on in another dress, ya see. Your ending kills the show. They won’t stand for an unhappy ending. . . . Say, what’s the matter with this guy, anyway? What’s he crumpled up like that for?” The manager was unloosening Mr. Galsworthy’s collar and calling to the office-boy to bring smelling-salts. “He’s fainted,” he said.

MR. GALSWORTHY has never really recovered from the shock. Sometimes he still wak es up screaming in the night after a nightmare in which he is sitting watching t he fixed version of his play. He seems to see the audience applauding the re-mad e Falder as he clasps the girl — dressed in a gown which has been designed by Luci le especially for that brief clasp — in the conventional pose which indicates that another happy ending has triumphed over logic and truth. He sees the victorious leer of the Fixer and wakes up with a shudder. But he has the satisfaction of k nowing that he has achieved a great reform and that, whenever his name is mentio ned, young dramatists reverently bare their heads. And the Fixer has passed out of existence.

~~~ The End ~~~

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