The Mary MacLane Project

The definitive website on the life and work of the pioneering feminist writer, film-maker, and media personality Mary MacLane (1881-1929)

Mary MacLane's Journalism - an introduction

This page lists all known feature articles written by Mary MacLane, including three pieces of juvenalia never before reprinted and the full texts of three of her best feature articles. Availability of other pieces - principally in Petrarca Press books - is detailed, with links for purchase.

From Michael R. Brown's introduction to the forthcoming collection, Mary MacLane: Her Articles and Interviews:

Mary MacLane made a distinct art-form of the newspaper feature article. Her earliest known writing, immediately below, was for her high school newspaper in 1898; her final appearance in print was a brief letter answering a fan's inquiry in H.L. Mencken's American Mercury in later 1925. Aside from the ready cash that newspaper writing provided, their evanescent topicality suited MacLane's hot-and-cold temperament and artistry in displaying various facets of her complex self. The voice of her newspaper writing, from her first post-I Await the Devil's Coming articles on, is clearer and more coherent than in any of her three books. MacLane's closely-tooled writing is at its best in the feature articles and her personal letters. She was capable of profound statements both palpably and otherwise in her books, but each of the books is marked by a depression of energy, a certain attenuation. They hover on the edge of non-coherence as books, yet are not mere collections of separated bits. This too is part of Mary's modernist artistry, but it was but one aspect of her. Gertrude Atherton, who met MacLane in Butte in the early 1910s, spoke of her abundant, restless physical energy, and a high school friend in the same decade wrote an anonymous article to defend Mary's ability to be simply enjoy life against those who saw her as a dark and immoral menace. Her feature articles, particularly after the first set written in 1902, most clearly and consistently display Mary MacLane's sense of fun and pleasure in her ability to express this important aspect of her personality.

For information on Brown's forthcoming comprehensive collection of responses - popular, press, literary, scholarly - to Mary MacLane, Mary in the Press: Miss MacLane and Her Fame, click here.

High School Editorial (excerpt, January 1898, age 17)

[Availability: not yet reprinted. Website exclusive.]

I set down only the outside layer, because the inside is too good for you.

Anyway, I want to keep it for myself.

Nothing's any good if everybody can know it.

If we were not told so often that this book or that would harm our morals, we would never rush to read just that particular kind of book, or probably ever know that it was harmful, though we may read it a dozen times.

I have heard these persons rave over the depravity to be found in that most ridiculous books of its kind, St. Elmo, and they have raved still more over that fairly interesting and quite sensible book, Jane Eyre, and of course, when the opportunity offered, I immediately read them both, for my youthful mind thought to itself, "What were these books written for, anyway?" And I was glad to read them. I learned many things from them.

I have learned what depravity is ...

That is one reason why we, in our impressionable youth, should read all sorts and conditions of writers - so that we may say to the world when it appears upon the scenes: "I have met you before, you can't get around me and I don't care to get around you, so let's be jolly good friends.

"Consider Thy Youth and Therein" (High School editorial - excerpt, Spring 1899, age 18)

[Availability: not yet reprinted. Website exclusive.]

It has struck me, as a result of my psychological, natural philosophical and general metaphysical reflection on human nature at large, that the thing which we do not realize is our youth.

The world is harsh. And in youth prepare you for it. Become you a stoic, if need be. Make you no friendships, for friends are but Brutuses and will turn against you. Take you the world for what it is and nothing else.

'Tis the way I myself have begun, and in my thirties and forties I will ask no one for oil, for I expect my lamp to be burning. I expect to wring not my hands, for in an armor one cannot. Neither will my soul sink in anguish.

"Charles Dickens - Best of Castle Builders" (High School senior oration, Spring 1899, age 18)

[Availability: not yet reprinted. Website exclusive.]

Out from the beautiful green valleys of old England many years ago there began to rise a wonderful vine-colored castle. Year by year it was builded and added to and in the lofty turrets and towers were hung musical bells, which rang out wildly joyous to the multitudes. Softly the vines crept over the latticed windows and up the gray walls; happily grew the elms and the benign Balm-o'-Gileads until there was a forest around the castle. In truth it was the most beautiful castle in all Merrie England and was the haven of the tired souls of men. So it was when it was begun, and so it is today.

This beautiful vine-colored castle is nothing less than the great monument of English literature built by the authors of England. There are castles in other lands, but there is none so vine-clad, none so wooded, so joyful as the well-loved castle in Merrie England. Its builders are held in reverence by the British and their names are graven broadcast in the land - the names of Wadsworth and Dryden, Spencer, Thackeray, Shakespeare, Johnson and all.

But the best name among them is that of Charles Dickens, the writer for the multitudes. He has written for the people of their own lives, of their own passions; his soul has gone out in love for them in his volumes; and more than these, he has portrayed the children of earth in the light of their own fair realm - that of the wise, the triumphant.

What peace there must have been for Charles Dickens when he knew that through the children of his stories he had made lives more merciful. For they will have their own - little Oliver with his faith; little David with his sad little story; poor little Jo, dead but never so happy; Tiny Tim and his infant poesy; and the very best of them all, little Paul with serious, longing eyes, asking: 'What are the wild waves sayin'?'

Charles Dickens used to sit and write by an open window in the golden summer time. The scenes that he looked upon were the influences and inspirations that guided him as he wrote. There was, it is said, a still hillside where often men ventured and where the blue bells held sway. There was a placid river that flowed along with olden tales and bits of stories, which were heard from the open window and told to us in chapters. There were the old-time English trees dropping over to the dear earth - the lindens and quivering aspens and the elms. There was the singing of the old-time English birds in their branches - the larks and the robins and the whippoorwills. There, moreover, were the old-time English flowers - the blue anemone, the harebell, the larkspur - and there was the soft south wind telling many another tale. If such is earth, then what, pray, is Paradise?

One day he lay down his pen. He pushed away his papers. He looked out upon the dear green earth for the last time while he lived. He looked up at the deep blue summer skies, but wrote no more. He died.

And so the ships sail on
To their haven under the hill;
But O, for the touch of a vanished hand,
For the sound of a voice that is still.

And when the thought of the dying of Charles Dickens comes to you, it brings with it a beautiful, tender passage about the dying of a child.

"The golden ripple on the wall comes back again, and nothing else stirred in the room. The old, old fashion! The fashion that came in with the first garments and will last unchanged until our race has run its course and the wide firmament is rolled up like a scroll. The old, old fashion - Death!

"Oh, thank God, all who see it, for that older fashion yet - of Immortality; and look upon us, angels of young children, with regards not quite estranged when the swift river bears up into the ocean."

"Mary MacLane at Newport" (N.Y. World, August 1902, age 21)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader and Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler.]

I am come down out of Butte-Montana into the mysterious East. I go here and there in trains in the mysterious East and gaze at things.

In very truth, the mysterious East is not so greatly different from Butte-Montana, and a person is a person, I find, east or west.

But there are differences.

For instance it's a far and exceeding confounding cry from Butte-Montana to Newport - Newport with a very large N.

Upon occasion I have read in the well-filled Bible about the pomps and vanities of this wicked world. And I have wondered what it meant - it hath indeed a glittering sound. The pomps and vanities must need be of always-vivid interest and this wicked world, as we all know, is fascinating.

And always when I have seen the phrase in the well-filled Bible I have thought within me: "Until I have really come upon the pomps and vanities of this wicked world my life is not complete." There are, to be sure, a great many things in Butte-Montana which relate quite directly to this wicked world - but not just what one might call pomps and vanities. They're a trifle too heavy for that.

In Chicago I happened upon a friendly gaiety, and some fine and good impressions that will last. In Boston, if you please, I happened upon something so still, so cold, so unrelenting - so utterly intolerant of anything that may come down out of Butte-Montana - that my thanks for the strength that must come of it died instantly upon my lips. In New York, I came upon a strenuous thing, to be sure, but mostly commercial as yet, and it glittered little. But all upon a fine bright summer morning I anchored my bark at Newport and lo - I, of Butte-Montana, straightaway walked into the midst of the pomps and vanities of this wicked world!

Only think, now. 'Tis a most grotesque conceit.

Newport is a little lovely restful town in itself. There are few things new, and the old things are earth-old. The stars and the dust and the wild weeds are there, as in the beginning. And in the gray morning a pale, pale sky hangs over wonderful wide water - a sky so pale that one half-expects a Raphael virgin's head to emerge slowly, sleepily from it. And the sea - the sea runs on always, in weariness, in joy - the gray, the blue, the gray, the blue - world with no end. Far away in Butte-Montana I had fancied the sea, and here is it. And the sea has a sister in Newport - a fascinating seductive sloe-eyed sister with soft long hair and magic finger-tips. She is the Air, and she is incomparable. After the first look into the sloe-eyes you close your own and lift your face and feel the sweep of the long soft locks of hair upon your chin and forehead. You feel the touch of those finger-tips upon your shoulder-blades, and straightaway you give your quiet heart into her hands to keep for a season.

The perfume of her long hair is of sea-weed and salt and of moss and decayed wood, and of half-sunk islands over the sea. In the plains of heaven is there any more exquisite thing? Round and about Newport there are bits of rude country that, after the shaven lawns of other parts, rest the nerves and senses. There are places where long dry yellow grass grows confusedly, and tiny rocks, and spaces between that are like the sand and barrenness of Butte-Montana, - but a long, long way apart. Here and there is a fresh-water pond and some lilies and wet, wet leaves. The wild grasses grow tall by the pond, and are also wet and very sweet. Back from the sea I looked long at a prospect that was fair and exceeding good. It was of smiling farms and rolling country and dark-colored trees and fields of corn. And all was green, green, green. It is gray in Butte-Montana, and my mind then opened and took in a new color. And all was green. The flowers bloomed in plenty, and the farms - and Jersey cows fed from the land. To my mind there came a bit of very old poetry from that same well-filled Bible, which seemed to tell it all in a serene voice saying: "My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill." All this is the background. In the foreground there are people, and there is life: in truth, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world.

How glittering, to be sure, is the pageant at Newport, - how the women and men reek with The Money, how unreal - how like phantoms do they seem to one who has thus far been wont to take a few things seriously and has lived a small, narrow life in Butte-Montana. I gazed at this glittering pageant until my senses were strained and a faint sickening influence came to them. As I looked there came a feeling of deadly weariness and sickness of heart. For through this false brilliant procession, the infinite - life itself - shows in poignant bitter intensity. There is a thing in the life of the women and men that one can not grasp. The stars and the dust and the wild weeds give at once of their deepest and the pain that they send is soft. The vision of the pageant at Newport tells of something so false, so distorted, so sharply cruel, that all of life - all of the past and all of the present - becomes useless. The Universe shrinks into a damnable little thing, and the souls - there are no souls.

Well, then.

At Newport I looked at a wedding. I looked very hard at that wedding. I had been told that I must, and so I did. It seemed excessively like every other little extravaganza in B-flat that I have seen, but it did have a few distinctive points. All the women and men were thoroughly sated, thoroughly steeped. Their bodies were the much-indulged, much-groomed kind - some of The Money certainly buys them the flesh-pots. And a few of the feminine bodies were truly exquisite - the few that were not overdone. The heads and hands had been worked at minutely with little ivory implements until Nature was obliterated and art - albeit with a painfully small "a" - reigned supreme. There were hands of alabaster - a very old simile but still good - with nails delicately wrought as miniature paintings. Each nail meant hours of work and more of The Money. The frocks that adorned these persons were equally exquisite - they represented labor and capital. Physically the women were pieces of fine workmanship - excellent products of skill. Except those that were overdone. They were sadly grotesque indeed.

Some of the bodies that were driven to the wedding were groomed to the nearly annihilation point - just a little more, one thought involuntarily, and they were surely mummified. Certainly no more skilful work could ever have been put on the body of a long-since Egyptian king than that on those nervous American persons. And Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. A single bright stone on one of those patrician fingers would have purchased sea air for a very great number of the little bare-footed New York populace - which, however, is entirely without the question and an entirely impertinent idea. These are the pomps and vanities of this wicked world. Let them go down as such.

- When one sees a face - even a wrought Newport summer face at a wedding - one looks at once for the soul - well, no, not the soul. Impossible! But the mind. And one finds - what does one find?

One finds a once beautiful and vital thing dead or dying in the faces of women and men. One finds something subtly imbecile - a strange, weird, and tragic thing. There is surely nothing like unto this in Butte-Montana. It has come from generations of indulgence at the flesh-pots, and years of disuse and reckless wasting of nerves; and too much perfume, and too much music, and too much food. And it has come from the mad straining after pleasure, the devising of ways to spend The Money, the petty rivaling of one another, the utter futility. -

And so it was a very pretty wedding indeed. There was something quite distracting in the way those equipages pulled up at the church, and in the way the high-heeled occupants tottered up the walk to the door. And there was something more distracting still in the way the populace - for Newport boasts a very well-assorted populace likewise - lined up on the opposite street and gazed almost as hard as if they had every one of them just come down out of Butte-Montana to contemplate the pomps and vanities of this wicked world. And the most distracting thing of all, I assure you, was when a goodly carriageful of bridesmaids and things rolled neatly down upon a fat little dog in the street and rolled him over and over and over - a bunch of ruined and feebly-yelping hair. Oh, it was very distracting - hard on the dog, doubtless, but the lace on the gowns of those bridesmaids was worth many thousands of good American dollars with Liberty-heads on one side and eagles on the other.

And when every one had finally arrived the bride tottered up to the altar on the arm of somebody and her own high white heels, and met the groom and they were married and lived happily ever after.

A very charming wedding, to be sure.

And another time I went to see the powers at play - the people of The Money soaking their persons in salt water at Bailey's Beach. 'Twas very interesting and these people ran about and disported themselves and skipped like young lambs just exactly as if they hadn't a cent of money in the world.

Only it was here that I had explained to me the names and the Cottages and the numbers of millions and the Divorces - particularly the Divorces.

I beheld a striped lady with quite the best shoulders I have ever seen emerge from a bunch of waves - she had a figure and a laugh and several high spirits of her own. "That, surely, now, is real," I observed. "That?" responded my guide with elevated brows. "That? Only last year her conduct was scandalous, and her husband - that man in the blue pajamas - obtained a Divorce. She lives in the swell little place I pointed out to you, and her Money is - ." I find that I've forgotten the large number. They have larger ones in Butte-Montana.

And I saw a bright red lady with a pair of eyes - a very good looker, she was. She knew things, moreover. "What is that?" I inquired of the guide. "That," the guide replied, "has the prettiest Cottage in Newport. She has no Divorce as yet, but is getting one as fast as ever she can. Her husband - the man with the green tennis-shoes - went somewhere with that heavy purple lady, and so it is all off." "And what will the red lady do after she has procured her Divorce?" I asked. "She will marry that pretty little thing with the freshness of youth still upon him," answered my guide with remarkable promptness and accuracy. "Her Money is estimated at - ." I find that I've forgotten the large number. They have larger ones in Butte-Montana.

And I saw a brilliant small pink lady leap joyously into the wild waves. She was not much of anything to look at, but she had a way with her. "Whom is that divorced from?" I said. "Oh, that," said the guide. "She is not married. Her mother is working to obtain that simple figure in black. He has good horses, and his Money is - ." I find that I've forgotten the large number. They have larger ones in Butte-Montana.

And I saw a tall man in a fine plain bathing-suit walking by the sad sea waves, with melancholia on his forehead and a tennis-racquet in his hands. "Wherefore?" said I to my guide. "Oh, that is an old, old story," she murmured. "He married somebody, and no one ever speaks to them. They have that big pile on the hill. They are left alone. There's a Scandal with it." "What's a Scandal?" I asked eagerly. "A Scandal's a reason and a back-thought," said the guide, and went on. "His yacht is immense and his Money is - ." I find that I've forgotten the large number. They have larger ones in Butte-Montana.

And I saw two young creatures - a pale-blue-and-white lady and a reddish-grayish man. The pale-blue-and-white lady was attending the reddish-grayish man with the utmost solicitude. "What of them?" I inquired - (I was there to inquire, don't you know). "They are engaged," answered the my guide. "And are they quite happy?" I asked, in the innocence of my heart.

"Well, she ought to be," said the guide, cold-bloodedly. "She has worked hard for two years to get it. And now she works harder to keep it. And certainly she's done well for herself. None but the brave deserve the fair. His house is the one with all the gables and his Money is - ." I find that I've forgotten the large number. They have larger ones in Butte-Montana.

So then these, too, are the pomps and vanities - bathing-dresses, salt water, Divorces, and all.

'Tis most awfully interesting.

And another day I looked at a polo game. I have seen polo several times - polo is much the same everywhere. But there were some fine contrasts about the setting of this game. The horses were good to look at - and some of the women who looked at them wore blue or white or black shoes with very red heels! Those red heels taken with polo made a delicate little incongruity that is quite rare and appeals directly to the artistic sense. The horses were so very good, do you see, and the heels were so very red.

Newport teems, bristles, with just such delicate little incongruities. Set down among small quaint ramshackle houses and new staring red brick buildings, and surrounded farther away by the Cottages - some of which resemble one's idea of a Venetian palace more than anything else - is a church which is a really fine thing. It is small and old - it is of the days of the Revolution, and the air in it is true. The architecture is the simplest and plainest, and inside the wood-work and upholstering are plain and poor to ugliness. George Washington sat in this place on Sundays, when time was. And - it rings utterly true. And now, likewise on Sundays, the sated Newport pageant assembles in it - the dear knows what for - to pray, it may be: a delicate little incongruity.

There is one thing in Newport that is absolutely and quite its own, which suits every element and everything there, and fits in as it surely could not elsewhere. This is the hydrangea bloom - a grafted and artificially colored shrub. The tints of the large round flower bunches are indescribably delicate and lovely, and they grow in the utmost lavishness. The color comes from the application of salt water to the roots and is a blending of the pale sea and the paler sky with a brief vivid gleam of sun.

Also the sea's sloe-eyed sister gives of herself to this flower and rests her magic finger-tips on the stems. Straightaway they bloom delicately, gracefully, immensely, with astonishing and delicious recklessness.

They are fascinating and false - like many, many other things in Newport-by-the-sea.

There is here indeed the little rift that sometime, somehow, inevitably must widen, and - as always - ever widening, slowly silence all.

And thus it is that one receives an Impression, having come down out of Butte-Montana in the days of her youth, and having lo! - walked into the midst of the pomps and vanities of this wicked world.

"Mary MacLane at Coney Island" (N.Y. World, August 1902, age 21)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader and Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler.]

"Mary MacLane on Wall Street" (N.Y. World, September 1902, age 21)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader and Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler.]

"Mary MacLane in Little Old New York" (N.Y. World, September 1902, age 21)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

"On Marriage" (N.Y. World, November 1902, age 21)

[Availability: Amazon Kindle stand-alone.]

"A Foreground and a Background" (Denver Post, October 1903, age 22)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

"Mary MacLane Discusses the 'Outward Seeming of Denver'" (Denver Post,October 1903, age 22)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

"Mary MacLane in Vivid Detail Tells the Transition of her 'Kind Devil' of Old" (Denver Post, October 1903, age 22)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

"He Loves Me" (Denver Post, October 1903, age 22)

[Availability: Amazon Kindle stand-alone.]

"[Caruso in the Metropolitan]"

[Availability: not yet reprinted. Untitled, almost certainly unpublished feature article giving impressions of Caruso in Aida and of the opera-goers. Written in January 1909 for the New York Evening Journal, age 27.]

"The Second Story of Mary MacLane" (Butte Evening News, January 1910, age 28)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader and Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler.]

This is an expurgated review of my later impressions of Butte and a few crudely-drawn contrasts between the me that was and the me that is.

I, of womankind and unpleasingly more than nineteen years, will now take the Evening News and the hybrid Butte public some three thousand words deep into my confidence. I am the Mary MacLane of purple memory whom, slam me though it did, Butte will never, never forget. I have proofs of that on me - some in my two hands and some in the top of my stocking.

Seven years ago I left this weird little town. I left it while myself in a blaze of notoriety made of tinsel and brass, and yet in its own way deep and far-reaching. It went half across the world, did the thing of brass and tinsel, and, too, it clings to me yet. I love my notoriety more, oh, much more than if it were pale, solid gold. It has given me such a run for my money - it has brought me close, close to human realities. I have sat all these seven years, not in a shadowy literary niche, but have gone down into the seething market-places. I have felt the hot pulse and tasted the red blood of the cruel and adorable world. Seven years ago I left little old Butte far behind me. And now that the seven years have slipped away I'm here again and for the first time. It's to me a situation piquant and picturesque. I lived in Butte, but little more than seven years ago, the obscurest of shy maids. Butte now looks upon me as a returned and limelighted prodigal, a woman with a past, and an insolent young jade withal. It is wondering divers things about me as it sees me in its midst - if I've spent all my money, why I put on so much complexion, where I acquired my taste for cocktails, and whether I'm still single-hearted. Butte takes note of all these changes in me and shows a tendency to give me a gladdening hand. Well, though I know Butte for exactly what it is, I have none but a joyous hand for it. Butte is sordid, beastly and time-serving - but withal full of romance and poetry and the wideness of the West. It is fascinating and picturesque, which is all I ask of anything. Morals are nothing but boresome trifles, and art is too often like a nightgown on a hot August night by the sea - superfluous. But the fascinating and the picturesque are never lost.

The Mary MacLane who rose to a so-sudden and somewhat terrific notoriety in 1902 was pre-eminently a Butte product - a shy and delicate creature born of this convulsive desolation. And when at nineteen my head broke out in brains and I wrote my wail of adolescence, with damns and devils and little knocks at Butte, Butte promptly gave me a curse, a blow upon the heart, also on the point of the jaw - a few surreptitious curses, and saw me slip away into the glooms and terrors of the many-pitfall'd world. I went away eagerly enough, but in all the seven years something in Butte subtly called me. I have heart-feelings for it. These barren hills saw my mind's awakening. I once walked over them in the loneliness of nineteen, or sat on some granite boulder with my hands about my knees, and watched the lights of the horizon, and realized the half-sullen, half-brilliant depths in me. I even thought I had a soul in those days (see the red Mary MacLane book) and a heart, of sorts. But the soul I have since passed up as a bore and an uncertainty (it is buried deep in the said red book), and the heart is now - battered and parched from the salt of dried tears. But the mind of black-and-white brilliance remains - and largely I thank Butte for it. A certain deadly thrall hangs over this little place, which impregnates one's mind, if one happens to possess one - they're rare - and brings to it a reckoning and an accouchement.

I had an incomparable thrill at my first glimpse of the town, a week or two ago, when I watched it from the windows of the night train sliding slowly in around the mountainside: a million starry gems scintillated on a black hill as if fallen from the spangled blue, and just above them the large deep-gold evening star hung low with down-dropping, glowing-wire rays. Nothing was there but the black hill and the countless diamonds, the silence and the evening star. It was mysterious and enchanting. "And that," I thought to myself, "is the pungent little place which saw the sudden jerking of me from the quietest obscurities into the glaringest limelights - and itself did it." It added depths to the thrill.

The next day I walked into its narrow highways and looked hard at it. It has an exquisite forlornness on it, with the deadly thrall: it is elementally the same little old Butte.

Since then I have done the highways daily and I've become used to the thrall and the forlornness. I am becoming once more a citizen of Butte.

And I've met most of the people with whom I once went to the Butte High School, and most of the people whom I met just after I developed from me into Mary MacLane, and a few more. I do not think the Butte people have changed any since I last knew them. But my attitude has changed toward them as it has toward everything since I wrote my book. So that they all seem different. Seven years ago I took myself and everybody and everything seriously - with nearly always disastrous results. (Do you remember how I "shocked Butte society"?) Now I take nothing seriously. I meet misfortune with an insolent laugh and the malice of my fellows with light-hearted contempt. What I cannot laugh at I pass up. I'll no more of the small tragedies that come from too much faith. They sear and corrode one's heart - they scar one's brain. And so, I've nothing but plaisance for the Butte people; they're all of that for me. In short, we get along fine.

I left Butte crude, innocent, and inexperienced. I return to it in the role of a frazzled old rounder. New York has been my abiding place these many, many moons, and it's been in some ways my undoing. It's a city of a million treacherous delights-and-horrors, and of a thousand grievous slips 'twixt the cup and the lip. It is vast and cruel - it devours youth, feminine youth, with the jaws and the palate of a monstrous insatiate demon. I and my folly - for I'm very much of a fool, among other things - were an easy prey. And so I come back to the scene of my youthful faiths with half my bloom irrevocably rubbed away. Still, even more than I love Butte I love New York.

I was at first bored stiff, after the fresh thrill of getting home had subsided, by the ghastly lack of things to do. There's no Rector's to go to after the play and sit drinking that which bubbles long; no Knickerbocker wherein to browse amid the Broadway chorus people with a swissesse beneath one's chin, no Tom Sharkey's wherein to drink beer in delicate abandonment amid the ribald revelry of hilarious sailors, no Cafe Martin wherein to mingle with the absinthe drinkers at four in the afternoon. There's no Maria's and no Jack's, no White Way and no Bowery. But I find there's a hybrid Indian-village sort of imitation of them all. They are live imitations. Butte is the one Indian village that could do it. Butte has gone off and down since I last knew it, and languishes in the clutch of a deadlock. But the glamor of its golden days still lingers on and there is an alcoholic haze to its nights. Moreover, a kindly law of contrast helps things along in my case. Certain men of Butte have taken me to the "Brewery" and Browne's, and out to Jack Reagan's and Billy Smith's and some others whose names I heard too late in the night to recall. We stayed very late in the night, and they introduced everybody to me - bartenders and Chinese waiters and the drivers of deep-sea-going cabs. Everybody seemed pleased to meet me. I seemed to be the only woman the night contained. The next day I went to an afternoon tea amid West Side ladies galore - they were few but select. I enjoyed both those functions. Butte people are very much Butte people, whether lined up in front of the bar at Jack Reagan's or drinking tea in West Granite street. They didn't happen to be the same people, though. At the time I wrote the book which we all thought was so wicked I considered it quite an awful thing for a young woman to go out to the "roadhouses," and I looked upon Mercury street as the haunt of the damned. But I've changed those opinions, partly because I've found by long experience that you can be as virtuous in a roadhouse as in a morgue, and partly because my attitude toward people-at-large has changed and I take nothing seriously: even if you aren't virtuous you aren't necessarily damned. I suppose there may be a lightness of heart, as well as of morals, in Mercury street, and, taken by and large, I fancy life is rather more human there than in Granite. I prefer Granite street, though, because there seem to be cockroaches in Mercury street, and of all things, kind Devil, deliver me from cockroaches. Rather even a cab driver for a husband or a waiter for a lover. More than I like the roadhouses and the afternoon teas I like the people I once went to school with. I like meeting them, shocking them, and having ardent friendships with them. It's fun to be Mary MacLane, a set-apart individuality in any gathering, as marked a woman as Evelyn Thaw or Carrie Nation. And it's pleasing to my vanity to reflect that I was as marked in New York as in Butte.

As to the things the massed Butte public seems to be wondering about me - I'll tell you some of them with a blending of audacity and chaste aloofness that's all mine. As to whether I've spent all my money: well, most of it. There was quite a lot forthcoming from the wicked book and, as I said, I've had a bully run for it. As to why I'm wearing so much complexion, not unnaturally I prefer to be good-looking than otherwise. As to where I acquired my taste for the dry Martini: that's an easy one - on the Great White Way. As I once loved the pallid olive so I now love the dry Martini - all melted gold in a cup of glass. The poetry that lurks in it can be written but scantily. It transfigures one's body as the colorful religion of the Buddhist transfigures the soul and the mind. I shall write more about it one day. As to whether I'm still single-hearted: it's too leading a question to answer. 'Twere folly to confess it at this stage, if I were or if I weren't. I maintain many a chaste aloofness that would make very interesting reading if done in plain terms. The best policy to pursue, whether in writing or war or love, is to combine limitless audacity with virginal reserves. I have myself tried it countless times and it never failed me. It is a combine that keeps the human equation perennially guessing. I think it's the policy which God pursues with all of us.

Another thing they're all asking me is what I have done with myself these seven years. I rather like to be asked that because it's so obviously and delightfully none of their business. For which reason I will say a few things about it. I have lived - for one thing, and it's a thing I never did here. I have been in love - or fancied myself so, which is exactly the same thing - not with vapid shadows, but with men. I am thinking at this moment of the little London Jew with whom I plighted troth and to whom I was engaged for the space of one week. He is now four years in the past, but himself and the memory of him still rouse deep-red poetry and passion in the black-and-rainbowed personality of me. He was tender-souled, beautiful to look at, and absolutely "on the level," which latter counts heavily. He was far too good for me, for I was never quite on the level with him. To me he was to be but a poetic incident, though I intended being married to him by a civil contract. He was seductive, but not the conquering devil of my dreams. But, to him, I was to be his wife till the grave yawned for one of us - and that sort of thing. Upon that we disagreed, so he went back to London beyond the sea - after a week of delicate and delicious cross-purpose. No other woman has yet got him for her own, which thought gives me a savage pleasure, and at times, as now, he glows warm in my memory. He was but one of several, but incomparably the most alluring and the only one to whom I waft still-born regrets through fast-darkening distance.

The Devil I once wanted never arrived - him of the steel-gray eyes - but so many imitations of him presented themselves, all with the one crude purpose, that he and his sometimes charm grew a bore and a monotony.

But I've not confined myself entirely to efforts to be gaily led adown the primrose path these seven years. I have gone everywhere and seen everything on the island of Manhattan. I have met fascinating people galore, from Ann O'Delia Dis Debar to Elinor Glyn - and back again, and from Mark Twain to Tom Sharkey in his native gin palace, the odds, as an interesting character, being heavily in favor of Tom. More than prize-fighters and literary people, both of whom I do like, I like vaudeville people on and off the stage. I fall the quickest of all for the people from the London music halls. They are artists on the stage, in their own lines of business - people like Cecilia Loftus, Marie Lloyd, Alice Lloyd, and Vesta Victoria - and off the stage, sitting in Rector's, with a pint of 'alf-and-'alf, they prove to be traditional British types of a most delectable brand. They combine a high-colored and high-seasoned domesticity with the thick local-color of the halls. They earn fabulous salaries over here, for they have a charm we cannot duplicate in America, and as they sit in the gilded thick-padded splendor of New York cafes they'll tell you how they started twenty years ago in the Shoreditch hall at "ten-and-six the night." There is nothing introspective about vaudeville people, nothing shadowy and sinister. They have brains of the sanest and simplest. In short, they are so satisfyingly different from myself, of whom, at times, I'm deadly weary, that I find a deep restfulness in their atmosphere.

Which brings me back to me. The thing I took away with me from Butte seven years ago - a restlessness of spirit, a shadowed and turbulent mentality, a lack of inward peace - is the thing I've brought back with me, and which will follow me to what I trust will be a young grave. I am myself like this little town with its subtle deadly thrall upon it, yet fired with certain headlong madnesses of youth. It is so with many, many others in Butte. Their inward fires glow and smoulder, with a dull personal menace, the more for the outward deadlock of this semi-bewitched Butte.

I have written this article, as I wrote the wicked red Mary MacLane book, as personally, as egotistically, as insolently as it's in me to write - because I know that only so could I picture the human equation. I write as many another feels, as many another is - and with the darksome spirit of Butte-Montana hard and fast upon me.

Because the Evening News seems to me more vividly Butte-Montana than any other sheet in this place I write it for the Evening News.

I am once more a citizen of Butte.

"Mary MacLane Soliloquizes on Scarlet Fever" (Butte Evening News, March 1910, age 28)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

"Mary MacLane Meets the Vampire on the Isle of Treacherous Delights" (Butte Evening News, March 1910, age 28)

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"The Autobiography of the Kid Primitive" (Butte Evening News, April 1910, age 28)

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"Mary MacLane Wants a Vote - For the Other Woman" (Butte Evening News, April 1910, age 28)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

"Men Who Have Made Love to Me" (Butte Evening News, April 1910, age 28)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

This article is going to be very egotistical and MacLanesque and maybe somewhat shocking besides, so I strongly advise divers citizens of Butte not to read it. It occurs to me that some of the things I write do not agree with the constitutions of the said citizens - it seems to be bad for their livers - hence this preliminary note of warning. So now if you go right on and read it and it affects your liver unpleasantly, don't blame me.

To the others I fain would say here this, that I aim not to instruct in these articles, neither do I aim to better people's morals, nor in fact to bore people in any other way. My aim is to write something to entertain those who pay a nickel-a-throw for the Sunday News - to entertain them in the vaudeville way, artistically if I can, but, anyway, cheerfully, gayly, after the drive-dull-care-away method. If only the citizens of Butte would regard me as vaudeville and read me, with a patter and kettle-drum chorus, only to be entertained! But no, the stuff comes out on Sunday and so they read it at breakfast and assuage their consciences for not going to church by knocking it and me. And they call me a menace. All right - I'll be a menace, and if they don't look out I'll be "some menace." But at that I'll be a gay menace, a menace bound in red and gold, a menace with hair in little curls, a menace with bells on, a menace de luxe. Perhaps I'll come out as the original menace. I'll hit up the menacing business in Butte - I'll let my friends in cheap at the bottom - and we'll all go a-menacing together. It'll be quite fine and dandy. And all owing to the nifty parties who read my stuff at or after their Sunday morning breakfast and don't go to church.

I am herewith going to make a few genre pictures of men I have known and loved. I would rather write about women because men are so nearly all alike and are such conventional masculine beasts, anyway. But the editor of this neat sheet said men for this article - (it'll be women in another one) - so what can a poor girl do?

Since the spring of 1902, that lucky time when I ceased to be I and became M. MacLane and left little old Butte to go and fathom the mysteries that lie along the Atlantic seaboard in the depths of cities, when I knew completely nothing about the element masculine - since that time I have met upwards of a thousand men. The women at first fought shy of me for the most part, but the men came and went in my life in a never-ending stream, like a long glittering galaxy of little gods. So I know quite a lot about them. I shan't write everything I know - t'would hardly bear it - but from the thronged memories within me I'll cull a few types - like as: the Callow Youth, the Literary Man, the Bank Clerk, the Prize-Fighter, the Absinthe Drinker, the Middle-Aged Gambler, the Younger Son, and the Husband of Another.

If all these types seem to make love to me don't be surprised or alarmed. It's the only reason I happen to know anything about them, and besides men always make love to women - always.

The Callow Youth: I knew him first in St Augustine, Florida, where I used to spend my winters. St Augustine is a be-palmed and be-pointsettiaed winter resort of wonderful hotels, small in territory and congested in visiting population. One meets a motley moneyed company there - people from darkest Pittsburgh and deepest Indiana. And into my life one winter there blew a Callow Youth, aged but twenty: I being twenty-four. He was not only callow, but was a gilded sort of youth as well, a golden lad. His hair was the color of benedictine, his outlook on life was assured and mostly sanguine, and he looked a dream in white duck without a hat and with his sleeves rolled up over his bronzed biceps. He had a doting mother and an acrid spinster cousin, by way of family, in Stamford, Connecticut, and he himself was a Yale sophomore. But at the time I met him he was out of that institution on an involuntary vacation, the sole information he gave me on the subject being, "Poor mamma! She doesn't know I'm down here. You see it would worry her - and so needlessly - to know I'd got suspended just for wrecking a fire-engine." He had absolutely no sense of humor - his type never has, and the lack is either quite fatal or else the most delicious thing in the world. 'Twas the latter in the case of the Callow Youth - his callow name was Gerald - he took himself and all the world with a seriousness that was colossal, and for some mysterious reason he fancied himself in love with me. And for the time - and pour passer le temp - it was not difficult to imagine oneself in love with him. He and I used to amble together at sunset when the bells of the ancient cathedral sent languid chimes out over the sea and the low waves splashed the sea-wall at noon-tide, and the sky was of opals and amethysts. And thus the Callow Youth: "You know, Mary, you're the only women I've ever known who understood me at all, and you don't know how much it means to a man. You see, a man's got to have sympathy from some woman or nothing's worth while. There are plenty who'll tell you they love you, without really being sympathetic © like poor Fluff, for instance." ("Poor Fluff" was a personage with intensely yellow hair, by surname O'Rourke, who had supported Trixie Friganza in the chorus of "The American idea.") "Fluff was an uncommon girl in every way, and an awfully good sort, but she always wanted so much sympathy herself, you know - it made it awkward. Now, you're so different. There's just one woman in all the world for me, from now on. Everything and everybody are dead set against me, except you, and if you should fail me now there'd be nothing before me but the grave."

At which point I always looked away at the line of opals and amethysts, whereupon he glanced at me with, "You may not even yet quite comprehend me, Mary - you may think me young and all that rot, but I tell you, truly and really, I'm a devil of a fellow when I get started." Alack, that he never did get "started," whatever that may mean. 'Twas full three weeks before he bored me.

The Literary Man: a type that is rife in New York town, and quite the coldest, hardest, brutalest of all who walk its busy marts, but with a certain scourge-like charm of its own - he was my bete noir for a matter of months. I was not happy with him nor away from him. He possessed that pleasant faculty of keeping me in a chronic state of tolerable misery. And this his manner of speech the while he sat in my little den smoking my cigarettes and damaging sundry of my little belongings - pictures or pillows or articles of vertu by roughly handling them as he talked: "Mary - Mary, you're such an incomparable idiot! I've known you long enough by this time to cease to expect even ordinary decency and propriety from that twisted concoction you call your personality - but up to now I have given you credit for ordinary intelligence. The things that I impressed upon you as distinctly not to be said, at that tea-fight yesterday, were the very things you said, and now see what's come of it - you utter fool! You have just cost me six useful friends merely by sheer wanton recklessness. I wonder if there can ever be such a thing as keeping a tab on your insanity and reckoning on it, or whether it will always be a little blighting curse on us both." Said I, in extreme discomfort, "That being the case, why don't we just drop things right here?" On my left third finger blazed an oriental stone of deep-toned red, the outward and visible sign that the Literary Man and I had exchanged betrothal vows. The Literary Man: "Oh, I've promised myself to break it off - a hundred times. You've cost me so much in every way! But sometimes, and almost, I think possibly you're worth it. Let's go over to Mouquin's and talk things over." We talked things over infinitely that winter, and a countless number of times - and he called me a liar, and an evil spirit, and an imp of darkness, and various other names, besides tramping rough-shod on my already battered heart. But withal it was I who finally broke it off, quietly and triumphantly, and with the pleasant feeling of knowing that it left him in a carping, dissatisfied mood, and with a set of assorted qualms which I think even yet flit, hornet-like, through his mind.

The Bank Clerk: his temperament may not be typical of bank clerks, and yet I've found it characteristic of men in those clerical positions which occupy them from eight in the morning till six in the evening, working for an employer, and leaving them thereafter time to indulge their poetic dreams. I have never known a magazine poet - and New York teems with them - who really had any romance in him. They are all much more interested in sausages and beer and poker games. But in clerks, from law-readers to bartenders, it runs like a vein of precious metal.

The Bank Clerk: - a tall, slightly consumptive looking, rather ordinary chap of six-and-thirty - I recollect his eyes were set somewhat too close together - I knew him in Boston, a picturesque old town which harbored me five years, a town full of delicate incongruities and as capable, in its way, as New York of being one's undoing - and New York's indeed but five hours away from it. The Bank Clerk: he had made up his mind, years before, that when he happened upon a young woman of ordinary good looks and possessed of an imagination, a soul above beer and skittles, he would straightaway fall in love with her and ask the favor of her hand in marriage. Well, he happened upon me, and realizing only that I had an imagination, and not that I was also a perfect devil - he foolishly fell in love with me and asked the favor of my hand in marriage. And I - I never intended to marry him, but for a matter of eleven days my left third finger bore a glittering diamond set between two scintillant sapphires. Because my own name was too ordinary he called me Rosemary; we walked on the Common Sunday noons and week-day evenings, in the teeth of November winds, the while he spoke: "To think that my long dream is realized and She is walking by my side! My dear - my dear, do you know how I look forward to six weeks from today? I have saved up for the last dozen years about six thousand dollars out of my fool salary - and all for my wedding journey! Though I've had none but a phantom bride - still I laid it up against the time when she'd be Living Reality and she and I would make a wedding journey together. Six weeks - think of it! - and you and I will have quitted this frozen New England for Naples - we'll have landed on the shores of fair Italy, where the skies are ever blue. Can you fancy, my Rosemary, the bay of Naples at nightfall, with an indigo sky above it, hung with stars such as Massachusetts will never know - stars like immense yellow daffodils and seeming so near that almost we might reach up with our hands and gather them - stars like golden tears from the tender eyes of some mammoth night goddess - stars that will be blooming there but for us? We'll rest on some rocky promontory between sea and sky, surrounded by the soft black silence, unbroken save for the remote voices of singing fishermen many feet below, and the low music of the orchestras in the little cafes that edge the bay. It will be a soft black world lit but with yellow daffodils, voiced but with far-off music, and melting with the nameless enchantments of only you and me and the feelings in us."

Thus the Bank Clerk, to whom I listened fascinated, for he meant it all. Yet - not for mine. If ever there's a wedding journey for me 'twill be to London, to nowhere but London, that vast mixture of Babylon, Ancient Rome, and itself. As for the Bank Clerk - Boston is full of women - may he have found one, a better one - which might be, easily, and may they have had their day in fair Italy, where the skies are ever blue.

The Prize-Fighter: I met him in New York: a featherweight of local fame, with the lithe grace of a Greek disc thrower, the brows and lips of a demi-god, and the eyes and mind of an unreflective terrier. His succinct name was Red, though his very beautiful hair was of a deep orange color, and though his clothes were well-tailored his taste in neckties was something indeed fierce. With him have I gone many a summer's day down to Coney, and many an evening to Sharkey's, or to Port Arthur or some Chinese restaurant down the Bowery, and many a night have we danced away a half-dozen golden hours in the Third avenue dance-halls. He was a delight to at least three-fourths of my senses - I think he gave me more unmixed pleasure on the little jaunts we took than any man I've yet known. "Kiddo," he said one evening, over a chop-suey, "you sure've got me going. There ain't another skirt on the planet. Jimmy Ryan, frien' o' mine, manager of the Idle Hour, 'e says to me the other night, 'e says, `Just cast yer lamps over this bunch o' skirts on the floor,' e' says, `and pick the winner - she's yours.' But I shakes me head an' I says, `Jimmy, I know a kiddo that's got 'em all skinned forty ways' - and, kiddo, that goes. You don't want me money and y'er the only skirt I ever knowed that was on the level. I was dippy about you the first time we went out to Coney, and I'm dippy about you yet. You may chuck me away any day - I know you ain't in me class - but I'd be dippy still." He himself was one square pal while I knew him, and he never failed to thrill me to my very finger-tips. I'm wondering, with qualms and regrets, if indeed he's dippy still.

The Absinthe Drinker: him, too, I knew in New York. He was good-looking in a pallid sort of way, a slender, tallish young man, a dilettante in letters, and a follower - if that can be called following which bothers not even to note the direction of its leader - of an extremely indifferent, light-hearted, indolently-reckless cult. I was fond of him for two reasons - that the light-hearted and reckless always make an appeal to me, and that I felt my conscience in a perpetual state of assuagement (like the citizens of Butte at their Sunday morning breakfasts) by being myself in a state of but half-approval of his tenets. Every time I held back and took exception to his modes of thought, I reflected, "What a good sort I must be, to disapprove of this." It's a pleasant feeling. In the Cafe Martin, Twenty-sixth street and Fifth avenue, at four o'clock, we spent a hundred afternoons, listening to the music, watching the people, desultorily talking, and looking upon the absinthe in its cold, sinister, death-colored seduction. The Drinker drank eight absinthe frappes in the hour, while I ambled through one. "To think," said I in half-sad protest, "that it's slowly killing you, that you've been slowly dying for two years and are slowly dying now!" And said he quickly, "But, my child, what a sweet, sweet death to die! We are all dying, you know, from one cause or another - we are all, in this orchid-decked room, slowly moving toward our graves. So how much better to go with this exquisite poison in our veins, with the taste of it on our lips, and the flavor of it in our hearts! It brings us the flower of life and the music of the spheres - it would bring them to you if you'd give way to it and take it as I do, with ardor and delight. We would then slowly die together - a primrose death. It softens all the heart-breaks of life. My soul and body are dedicated to it and it, like a Green God of Misericorde, giveth me sundry good gifts in high reward. So drink, my child, drink to the primrose death." I drank with him that spring too often, to the primrose death, but always under a protest - a protest not strong enough to let me refuse my one thin glass, and so much the less strong to make his number smaller. Presently an invisible grave began to yawn too near his careless feet. He was a charming thing, the Absinthe Drinker, but my friendship with him blew away in the autumn winds like the scattering of dead leaves.

The Middle-Aged Gambler: the memory of him brings me mirth. He was hard-headed and hard-hearted (except in my direction), with hard-looking iron-gray hair, and hard-looking fishy gray eyes. He had race-horses at Sheepshead and a great deal of money. I liked him because he was one more type of humanity, and it was my plan to crowd all the people and all the experiences I might into my life while living in New York - knowing that some day Butte-Montana, of deadly-thrall fame, would be again my portion. Besides, the Gambler was kind to me, though he was the sort of man who by nature is hard on women - hard on their souls and hearts and bodies, a flinty experience in their lives. He had a penchant for slim sweet feminine youth with an admixture of subtle brain, and he fancied I filled that bill. He came ever and anon to see me in my little green-and-white apartment in Twenty-seventh street, into which he fitted with that aptness proverbially accredited to a bull in a china shop. He would glance contemptuously around at its thin lack of luxury as he walked about in it - he himself lived in apartments of bizarre and barbaric splendor - and would regard me with amorous compassion. "Kid," said he, "I've got to run out to Pittsburgh for a couple of days, and when I come back we must have this thing settled. I've told you before now that I'm crazy about you - and you know I am - I needn't go over that ground again. You can do whatever you like about me, but Kid, I'm damned if I'll go on like this. You need some one to take care of you - and you've got to agree to let me do it. I've thrown that into you fifty times, and I'm going to keep on throwing it into you till you agree to something. After that, whatever you want - I don't care what it is - anything in New York - just hand me the tip and I'll come through with the coin. Whatever I clean up on the ponies - but I've told you all that before. Come, Kid, be nice to me - say something kind." - I liked him better than literary men, anyway.

As for the others, the Younger Son and the Husband of Another - I'm supposed to hold the stage but seventeen minutes in this vaudeville stunt, so it's to dismiss them with cursory glances. The Younger Son was the younger son of a baronet in England, who had been busily engaged since the hour of his birth in doing nothing whatsoever. He wore a monocle. "But I'm frightfully interested in you, Mary," said he, "and New York's a frightfully interesting place - frightfully."

He and I wandered languidly around New York, languidly out to Brighton, languidly up to the Bronx, and languidly down to Coney. Languidly he loved and languidly he rode away. He had filled me with languid laughter while he stayed, then languidly I "ditched" him. A quaint experience was the Younger Son. He had managed to waste a shocking lot of my time, but then - he was so frightfully classy!

The Husband of Another: the most exasperating invention known to civilized man. He railed at his wife and wept on my doorstep at four in the morning. Indeed, one never knew just when he wasn't going to burst into tears - otherwise one might have avoided those damp incidents. "If only I had met you thirteen years ago," he wailed, "the tragedy of all this might have been averted." "Thirteen years ago," said I, "I was just twelve years of age. I didn't know a tragedy from a glass of lemonade - and cared considerably less. Now kindly retreat from this, my little abode, for I've got to make a quick change and go uptown for dinner." "Always hard - cold - heartless with me now," said he, gazing at me with a large, heavy, sodden, and most annoying brand of reproach. "Is it because I'm married? Is it? Oh, but had I known you thirteen years ago!" and he managed to change the gay, chaste atmosphere of my little flat into a briny gloom, flavored with what may be termed the juice of forbidden fruit. The Husband of Another - I recall him now, and from this distance, without exasperation - with no feeling at all, in fact, but one of gratitude that the gods did not lead him up to me thirteen years ago.

So there were eight of the little gods. There were more. May there be others! A fascinating, fascinating game. One's loves are so real - while they last. And thereafter - one day later - of what are they made, and where are they?

The nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows?

Yet - how much better to be wondering whither and whence the nightingale than never to have heard its mad trill!

"Butte Society - 'The Lady in Green Tights'" (Butte Evening News, May 1910, age 29)

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"The Latter-Day Litany of Mary MacLane" (Butte Evening News, May 1910, age 29)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

"The Borrower of Two-Dollar Bills - and Other Women" (Butte Evening News, May 1910, age 29)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader and Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler.]

"A Waif of Destiny on the High Seas" (Butte Evening News, May 1910, age 29)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader and Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler.]

"The Big Fight 'Has Something Doing'" (Butte Evening News, July 1910, age 29)

[Availability: not yet reprinted.]

"Woman and the Cigarette" (syndicated, February 1911, age 29)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader and Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler.]

"Mary MacLane Says -" (syndicated, September 1911, age 30)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader]

"Mary MacLane on Marriage" (syndicated, June 1917, age 36)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

"The Movies and Me" (Photoplay Magazine, January 1918, age 36)

[Availability: included in Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader.]

Any time I write my opinions and impressions of this moving picture thing in its varied phases and components, it is not in the least as a critic who carps, but purely as an ardent film fan who eats up the whole game relishingly from soup to nuts.

Everybody knows it is not the critic who keep that multi-colored ball rolling, but "us fans" who pay our fifteen cents and go in at the front door prepared to like every possible thing we see that's likeable and eat up every possible morsel of romance that slides Lillian-Gishfully across the screen.

Many a critic, if we are to credit their interesting dope sheets, has come away from a picture show sickened, nauseated to his hard heart's core by the tragic want of art, logic, continuity and all those juggled-up things to be found in the whole film idea as is.

But nothing like that ever happens to me. In the first place, I don't attend picture shows in order to get nauseated. And in the second place, I usually grow so delightfully fussed up with charm, thrill, appreciation and the general sense of human emotion and color that the demon art seems quite all out of it.

It is one of my theories that the true expression of the human equation never can be pure art, and pure logic and pure continuity. Human beings are not formed to that end - not while kaisers and cabarets still go on and beds continue to sag in the middle. And since - which is another of my theories - the cinematograph really does mirror human life as it really does daily happen, it can't possibly be pure art and pure logic and still be good moving picture stuff.

Charlie Chaplin is, in my opinion, the nearest thing to a perfect artist in the long gamut of film stars, and he is by that token a case in point: Charlie Chaplin does not in any way express any form of human life as it is lived in this present state of civilization.

He falls down flights of stairs nine times with the utmost abandon and runs around tables with surprising velocity and precision, but, strictly speaking, those things are unlikely to happen in most average households. The cook would leave too often, and besides it would wear out the rugs, and prove otherwise inconvenient. No, the nonchalant Charles, though I hand it to him as an artist and a very good one, is not a favorite of mine. Nor is Mister Fairbanks, remarkable though he is for his ready mirth and his ability to jump over things. For, again, the following reasons: though indubitably great stuff it is not true to life. I have not yet known the host in any menage I've been in to go from room to room in leaps and bounds. It's all very intriguing to those who relish the bizarre and the highly improbable in pictures.

But for myself, I am the tamest, the least fiery, the most equable type of film fan. I like dramas where young people marry with lacy clothes, and a mob in the last few feet; romances where I can sit open-eyed and pensive, forgetful of passing time; and everydayish stories where I can watch Alice Brady walk and Robert Warwick frown and Valeska Suratt's back and Louise Glaum look balefully at her leading man.

Sometimes the mere look of a country hillside with the sunshine sparkling upon it, and leaves and grasses and wild flowers blowing in the breeze, to a gaze too long inured to farthest Butte or darkest Chicago, is plaisance and paradise enow.

Since nineteen-eleven when most of the stars who now bloom madly in electric lights were not even names and were in fact working humbly and anonymously for Biograph, the picture theater has been my main stand-by in moods of relaxation.

I spotted the lyric-looking Blanche Sweet as a coming star when I was totally unable to discover her name, so reticent was the screen in those days. And the famous Pickford was known but by her curls. And the artistic Walthall peered at the camera merely as a hard-working lead. And "legits" shied like frightened steeds at the mere mention of the films. And Theda Bara in her sleek darkling pride existed not.

I have trailed stars from their dawn to their be-limousined present. I have paid fifteen cents on several thousand afternoons in the far wilds of my native Butte in order to translate me from the somber colors of myself to the passionful prisms of life as presented by Mister Selig, Mister Fox, Mister World, Mister Essanay, Mister Blue Bird, Mister Paramount, Mister Triangle, et al. And I have never been disappointed.

There has always been something in every picture I have ever seen, though it might be but the single expression of some warmly-sexed lips or eyes, that registered at rather more than fifteen cents' value. I maintain there is more of sheer beauty - world beauty, life beauty, human beauty - in moving pictures than in any other popular expression of everyday life. If there's much that is crude in it all as yet, there is much more that is lovely.

And speaking of Mister Essanay reminds me of the most astonishing thing that ever happened to me. Without effort, without volition, without, in short, wanting to, I - I have become a "film star".

Such is fame.

Nay, more, a vampire. I had thought that it required a devilish lot of energy and pep and punch and stunningness to become one of those things. But not so. It requires languor and clothes and ease and loads of astonishingly yellow make-up. And a kindofa, sortofa vampish way with men. I have thought of myself, when it came to self-expression, purely and simply as a lit-ry woman.

But being gently induced to play the lead in a picturization of some of my own stuff I found I had all the requisites of the little old screen vampire.

I shall have a lot to write about the making of my picture when it is all over. But just at present my days are a wild maze of directors, camera men, extra people, heroes, sets, props, electricians, luncheon hours and rumblings out of bed at six o'clock in the morning.

And they tell me I have a screen personality. Still I remain in my own accounting not a film actor, but a lit-ry lady. I am still deeply unused to grease paint. I may look like a vampire, but I continue to feel singularly unlike one. I am a fan and not a critic, and my secret hankering is to be an extra person, ad-lib-ing in a mob. Voila.


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