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Fa consensus of literary opinion could was a boy of the people, who knew and loved be taken to-day, it would probably be the lonely life of the valley and the beauty
found that Tolstoï, Ibsen, and Björn- of the mountain and fjord from his infancy. son would be given the foremost places At the age of twelve Björnson was sent in contemporary literature. The authors to a Latin School, where he seems to have of " Anna Karenina," “ The Pretenders,” spent his energy in instinctive and per
Arne" are not only writers of great sistent revolt against rules, regulations, force, but they are also striking personal and regular study hours of all kinds, but ities, from every point of view among where he also became a leader, organizthe most interesting men of their time. ing a debating society, founding a newsTolstoï is probably, all things considered, paper, and showing in the vital life of the the foremost man in Europe; a writer of school all the energy he failed to display genius who has combined original power in his studies. In 1852 he was admitted of a very high and sustained kind with to the Christiania University, where he the delicacy, the sensitive imagination, made the acquaintance of Ibsen, and the the plastic force of the artist, a passionate two men became fast friends. At the lover of his kind, one who looks at life university as in school, Björnson neglected sadly but with individual passion, a great the regular work, but was intensely active artist turned reformer, without official posi- in all the fields that interested him. tion, excommunicated from the National Here the idea of creating a national literaChurch and yet to-day the most influen- ture, free from Danish influence, took tial person in Russia.
deep hold upon him ; and with a little Ibsen has been for many years a volun- group of young men of kindred spirit and tary exile from his country, a recluse in attitude he became an ardent advocate of his habits, detached and solitary, although Norwegian independence. In 1857 he not without many friends and not lacking went to Copenhagen; and in that city his many agreeable qualities as a companion. first novel, “ Synnove Solbakken,' apHe is a man who has endeavored to look peared, and at once made Norway aware life in the face and has found it, in his that a new writer had appeared among judgment, base and unworthy, and who them, who had brought a new strain into has devoted himself with untiring energy their literature. Simple in plot, direct and almost brutal frankness to the exposi- and sinewy in style, dealing at first hand tion of what he regards as the hypocrisy, with the rustic life of Norway, the new the pretensions, and the benumbing con- novel came like a breath of fresh air. It ventionalities of contemporary life. was the beginning of a new movement.
Björnson is the most wholesome of the In the same class belong “ Arne" and three; a man of powerful frame, of over- " A Happy Boy.” Björnson's interest in flowing physical life, of intense energy of the drama dates from an early period. mind, will, and feeling. He is a dynamic He has acted as director of Ole Bull's worker in every department of life, a born theater in Bergen, where he published his lover of life, a writer who has studied his first dramatic works, and of the Chriskind at close range, who is in revolt tiania theater. He has been the editor against many traditions and conventions, of various journals. He has written but who believes in life, in his fellows, in charming lyric poetry; and in prose, the possibilities of human nature; a great, verse, and plays he has always spoken of sunny, exuberant, boyish leader.
real things in a real way.
He has not Björnson was born seventy years ago only been a leader in the movement for last December in Oesterdalen, in one of intellectual independence, and for the the bleakest and barest sections of Nor development of a native literature to which way, surrounded by lofty, snow-covered he has also been one of the chief conhills. Although the son of a pastor, the tributors, but he has carried into public future novelist, who was to picture the life the same energy and freedom, and for rustic life of Norway with such idyllic sim- many years has been one of the leaders plicity and with such sympathetic insight of the progressive movement in Norway.
HE saving grace of the Republic cities and the railroads and one would
has been its power of assimila- have difficulty in determining whether he
tion. Out of a conglomerate was in New Mexico or our sister republic mass from all nations it has made its to the south. After hours of futile effort citizens. A generation from the father- to find someone who would meet his land and they are thorough Americans. English question with a more intelligible Not so with the Mexicans. For half a answer than “No sabe," he would probcentury they have been Americans, but ably be inclined to think that he had by to-day they are well-nigh as alien as when chance crossed over the border of the we acquired them. The slowness and United States into Mexico. dullness of the race accounts for this in Through the veins of many of the natives part, yet it is only fair to allow for the of the Southwest flows the best of Spanish difference in the method of acquisition. blood. Had their family records been They came to us not by choice but by kept, many could trace their descent from force; they were not transplanted, but left the daring Espejo and his party which on the same old soil in the same surround- pushed north as far as the city of Santa ings; they were not thrown with English- Fé in 1582. Yet they have so degenerspeaking people, but remained with users ated and mingled with the Indian tribes of their mother tongue. To some extent that they do little credit to their intrepid the blame is ours, for we have known and ancestors. There is no higher complicared as little for them as they have for us. ment than to call a native of the SouthIt is only with their demand for Statehood west a Spaniard. The rich and educated that eyes have been turned upon our insist upon being so called, the remainder Mexican brothers of the Southwest. being Mexicans or, somewhat contemptu
That they are Spanish in tongue and ously, "greasers.” The greaser is the customs is well known, but how tena- interesting, picturesque fellow. ciously they have held to their race pecu- The most fruitful region in interesting liarities is known only those who have types is the Rio Grande valley. There lived among them. Get away from the they are more Americanized than back on the mesas and in the mountains—the built of adobe, in that style which has cattle and sheep country where the out- ever proven effective for defense, the of-doors, nomadic life adds a wild, savage house opening only on an inclosed court turn to the already evil-looking fellow- formed by a high wall, the barn, and other but they are still far removed from the outbuildings. All who enter pass through commonplace. One spring day, the same one massive gate into the court, and here, on which most of the photographs illustrat- in grand confusion, live the Mexicans, ing this article were taken, I started south with their horses, cattle, chickens, hogs, from Albuquerque along the Rio Grande. and dogs. Every two or three miles the The river was swollen to a wide, muddy houses get closer together, clustering stream, the acequias were running bank around a little adobe church with its full, and the fields were flooded with water. painted wooden cross and heavy bell The budding trees were alive with birds, ornamenting the plain exterior. These all the various members of the blackbird little towns take the name of the church, family, even to the beautiful yellow-neck and it would be difficult to tell where one fellow, singing in grand concert. Fence- begins and the other ends. post after fence-post was glorified as the As we neared a church we heard the seat of the prince of warblers—the bell tolling, and, rounding a corner, we saw meadow-lark. The robins, not yet gone a small company coming down the dusty north, dug in the soft earth for the fat road. Bareheaded men walked ahead, angleworms, and chirped and chuckled at six bearing a coffin, while behind trailed each new find. This irrigated valley is a fifty or more women, each with a black garden spot.
shawl over her head, and all wailing and Now and then we passed a ranch-house moaning. They passed into the little
church, dimly lighted by a few candles, and there chanted, without a priest, the most dismal of funeral ceremonies. As the body was borne to the grave in the churchyard the women remained inside, seemingly vying with one another in vocal powers as they wailed and moaned. It was all very depressing until of a sudden they broke up into little groups and went off chatting, laughing, and smoking cigarettes. It made me think of the hired mourners of China. At another little town we were surprised to see a woman kneeling in the road, and in front of houses near by were others in the
devout attitude. The explanation was forthcoming when a procession headed by a priest in his robes and followed by girls in white came into view. The devout always kneel at the approach of a priest. The procession went to the house of a sick man, and the girls in white had just taken their first comm union. These people are deeply religious, but seldom moral, and are completely under the power of the
COPYRIGHT, 1901, BY D. T. DUCKWALL, JR.