In Every Key – Dec. 9, 1916

By Benjamin De Casseres

Momus, the Slayer of Mars

M. Meyer, editor of Le Temps, recalls that President Felix Faure realized the loss that a President suffered because his office had no uniform decreed to it under the constitution. President Faure asked a great artist to design a suitable uniform, but the matter was allowed to drop.

Newspaper clipping.

The way to end all wars would be to bar uniforms, for imagine millions of men going into battle in jumpers, top hats, derbies, golf caps, creased trousers, pea-jackets, four-in-hand ties and plaid overcoats.

The opposing armies would greet one another with wild guffaws, and Momus would rule the battle-field instead of Mars.


Life is a giant cash-register whereof each one thinks he is the Salesman, but is in reality only the figure—generally a 0.


Truth is an instrument for discovering the errors of our friends.


You know him: He sits in a certain all-night café, and all his thoughts turn into cigarettes, and all the brilliant books he never wrote become highballs.


Why Not?

Austria, France and Germany are enrolling and drilling boys of fifteen for the Big Game.

If the war lasts long enough the babies will be entered. A Baby-Coach Battalion is not inconceivable. A child of three can easily be taught to fire a pistol or wield a short sword.

Onward Christian Babies! Le petit Jean against little Fritz on the Rhine! By all means, the Baby Coach Battalion.


The Masses

The masses! The masses.
Strangled sigh that goes into the Infinite,
Billion-eyed being that sees nothing,
Whose life is nothing,
Pawns of Fate and candidates for Oblivion.
They manure the glory of the Great
And feed the eagles of the conquerors
And are sap and bone in the body of Genius.
Dragging the chariots of Charlemagne, Caesar and Napoleon
Into the Empyrean of the human imagination,
They fall back into the gaping graves of the Old Mother,
And are like a tale that has never been told.


Sir Pertinax MacSycophant Americanus

First Bergson, then Noyes, now Rabindranath Tagore. So long as he is a foreigner and comes from beyond the seas the American people ask nothing more. We are the most hospitable of peoples.

We can afford to be generous to those who come to us thus—one with his plush-and-satin Hegelianism; another who peddles strophes; and a third who carries his Nirvana and Nobel Prize in his jeans—for have we not honored Genius beyond all peoples?

Our parks and drives are fairly encumbered with statues and busts to Poe, Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and Stephen Crane.

In the name of the great god Fad—welcome!


Not In Any Dictionary

Curiosity is a peephole in the brain through which one sees the pomp and ceremony of the absurd.


A Chef is a messiah of gluttons.


To-day is the hearse that carries the dreams of yesterday to the cemetery.


Tradition is a clock that tells what time it was.


Fifth Avenue is the underworld of the upper world.


Glory is to receive a letter of praise from everybody after you are dead.


What’s in a noise? Noise by any other name would sound like Billy Sunday.


In the Great War it is only the dead who have “won ground” of any importance, up to date. Literally, they have “inherited the earth.”


Poet (Staccato): I await the judgment of posterity. I wait—

Gravedigger (blandly): And here, sir, is your waiting-room.


To Correspondents 

Charley—In America the literary life is sui generis. If you have no ideas they will tell you you have style; if you have no style they will tell you you have ideas; if you have neither they will proclaim the “wholesomeness” of your work and film it.

Susie—Memory, my dear, is the eye in back of your head. It outlasts the other two eyes.


What Santa Is Not Responsible For:

The story concerning some hard-hearted codger who becomes as pliant as mush. Dickens started it.

The yarn wherein a poor guy waiting for a handout on the bread-line turns out to be a long lost son just in time for the big spread.

The tale dealing with a second story man who repents to an appropriate background of Christmas trees and little somnambulistic girls.

The gag about the starved newsboy and how the fur-lined citizen—while the big tower clock winks amiably—adopts him.

The concoction containing a cabaret singer who finds her own soul and her true affinity while the raggedy melodies temporarily yield to the chimes.

The sentimental pot-pourri of the erring daughter who on Christmas Eve drops the prodigal son like a hot coal and toddles back home ready to wipe off the crusted snow on the old “Welcome” mat. Obbligato by the old house dog who recognizes her first.

The pale, beeyouteeful snowflakes for which the reader is expected to fall though he knows what becomes of them on the sidewalks of New York.


Harlequin’s Confession

I have driven the light from the day
     And purged the night of its dark,
Cancelled the beams in the Milky Way
     In a fine metaphysical lark.

 

 Source: Puck, Dec. 9, 1916, p. 10