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Martin Eden 113







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




is an elaborate evolution of the various arts laid down, but it seems to me to be too mechanical. The human himself is left out. The evolution of the tool, of the harp, of music and song and dance, are all beautifully elaborated; but how about the evolution of the human himself, the development of the basic and intrinsic parts that were in him before he made his first tool or gibbered his first chant? It is that which you do not consider, and which I call biology. It is biology in its largest aspects. "I know I express myself incoherently, but Ive tried to hammer out the idea. It came to me as you were talking, so I was not primed and ready to deliver it. You spoke yourself of the human frailty that prevented one from taking all the factors into consideration. And you, in turn,--or so it seems to me,--leave out the biological factor, the very stuff out of which has been spun the fabric of all the arts, the warp and the woof of all human actions and achievements." To Ruths amazement, Martin was not immediately crushed, and that the professor replied in the way he did struck her as forbearance for Martins youth. Professor Caldwell sat for a full minute, silent and fingering his watch chain. "Do you know," he said at last, "Ive had that same criticism passed on me once before--by a very great man, a scientist and evolutionist, Joseph Le Conte. But he is dead, and I thought to remain undetected; and now you come along and expose me. Seriously, though--and this is confession--I think there is something in your contention--a great deal, in fact. I am too classical, not enough up-to-date in the interpretative branches of science, and I can only plead the disadvantages of my education and a temperamental slothfulness that prevents me from doing the work. I wonder if youll believe that Ive never been inside a physics or chemistry laboratory? It is true, nevertheless. Le Conte was right, and so are you, Mr. Eden, at least to an extent--how much I do not know." Ruth drew Martin away with her on a pretext; when she had got him aside, whispering:- "You shouldnt have monopolized Professor Caldwell that way. There may be others who want to talk with him." "My mistake," Martin admitted contritely. "But Id got him stirred up, and he was so interesting that I did not think. Do you know, he is the brightest, the most intellectual, man I have ever talked with. And Ill tell you something else. I once thought that everybody who went to universities, or who sat in the high places in society, was just as brilliant and intelligent as he." "Hes an exception," she answered. "I should say so. Whom do you want me to talk to now?--Oh, say, bring me up against that cashier-fellow." Martin talked for fifteen minutes with him, nor could Ruth have wished better behavior on her lovers part. Not once did his eyes flash nor his cheeks flush, while the calmness and poise with which he talked surprised her. But in Martins estimation the whole tribe of bank cashiers fell a few hundred per cent, and for the rest of the evening he labored under the impression that bank cashiers and talkers of platitudes were synonymous phrases. The army officer he found good-natured and simple, a healthy, wholesome young fellow, content to occupy the place in life into which birth and luck had flung him. On learning that he had completed two years in the university, Martin was puzzled to know where he had stored it away. Nevertheless Martin liked him better than the platitudinous bank cashier. "I really dont object to platitudes," he told Ruth later; "but what worries me into nervousness is the pompous, smugly complacent, superior certitude with which they are uttered and the time taken to do it. Why, I could give that man the whole history of the Reformation in the time he took to tell me that the Union-Labor Party had fused with the Democrats. Do you know, he skins his words as a professional poker-player skins the cards that are dealt out to him. Some day Ill show you what I mean." "Im sorry you dont like him," was her reply. "Hes a favorite of Mr. Butlers. Mr. Butler says he is safe and

Martin Eden page 112        Martin Eden page 114