On the contrary, there are two evident sources of the plain speech of which Miss Repplier and others have complained: First, the commercializing of sex by novelists, dramatists, theater managers, and publishers many of whom are reaping a golden harvest and few of whom have any sincere interest in promulgating sexual information to any end except their own pocketbooks.
Her sense of humor is awakened by his frantic efforts and by her own absolute security; and not until he is spent with exertion, and lies panting and exhausted on the bricks, does she arch her graceful back, stretch her limbs lazily in the sun, and with one light bound spring from the window to my desk." And what more delightful word did ever Miss Repplier write than her description of a kitten?
She fancied that his even grayness might reveal a thousand tints of lavender and blue and silver. At supper he hinted his love for Sir Thomas Browne, Thoreau, Agnes Repplier, Arthur Symons, Claude Washburn, Charles Flandrau. He presented his idols diffidently, but he expanded in Carol's bookishness, in Miss Sherwin's voluminous praise, in Kennicott's tolerance of any one who amused his wife.
The emperors of imperial decadent Rome are led by the chains of art behind the chariot wheels of the poet: Julius Cæsar, whom Cato called "that woman," Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, the wicked Agrippina, for whom Agnes Repplier named her cat, Claudius, Nero, Hadrian, Vespasian, down to the incredible Heliogabolus.
And Sainte-Beuve, whose cat used to roam at will over his desk and sit or lie on the precious manuscripts no other person was allowed to touch; it is flattering to know that the great Frenchman and I have one habit in common; and Miss Repplier owns to it too. "But Sainte-Beuve," says she, "probably had sufficient space reserved for his own comfort and convenience.
Agnes Repplier says: "It is part of the irony of life that our discriminating taste for books should be built up on the ashes of an extinct enjoyment." A book is such a fact to children, its people are so alive and so heartily loved and hated, its scenes so absolutely real! Prone on the hearth-rug before the fire, or curled in the window seat, they forget everything but the story.
Phillips was not a ready writer and his letters cost him some pains. Several lay open on the table in different stages of composition. They were all exactly the same in wording as the first one Urwick had received. They were addressed to Booth Tarkington, Don Marquis, Ellen Glasgow, Edna Ferber, Agnes Repplier, Holworthy Hall and Fannie Hurst.
Finally, Miss Repplier, like so many other critics of sex-instruction, has in mind only the physical consequences of wrong-doing. Here again is the influence of the pioneer sex-hygiene. However, she pleads for the "gradual and harmonious broadening of the field of knowledge and for a more careful consideration of ways and means" for sex-instruction.
Other forms of essay writing, surely, have seemed in our own generation less distinctive of our peculiar quality. While admirable biographical and critical studies appear from time to time, and here and there a whimsical or trenchant discursive essay like those of Miss Repplier or Dr.
Clinton Locke, who is a member of the English cat clubs, and whose kennel in Chicago contains some of the finest cats in America. The Beresford Cat Club has the sanction of John G. Shortall, of the American Humane Society, and on its honorary list are Miss Agnes Repplier, Madame Ronner, Lady Marcus Beresford, Miss Helen Winslow, and Mr. Louis Wain.