Short History of the American Negro - Benjamin Brawley

Literature and Art

151. Folk-Lore and Folk-Music.—In the life and history of the Negro people there has developed a large tradition of interesting customs, superstitions, and tales. Of the writers of the race Charles W. Chesnutt was the first who fully appreciated the literary value of this material; but other writers, such as Thomas Nelson Page and George W. Cable, have also found it of great service. Its chief literary monument so far has been in the Uncle Remus tales told by Joel Chandler Harris. Important as is Negro folklore, however, the folk-music of the race is still more so. Negro music in America is especially interesting because it is not only the voice of an uncivilized people in Africa, but also a highly developed folk-music. Dr. DuBois distinguishes four steps in its development. The first stage exhibits native African music, and may be seen in such a chant as that for the words, "You may bury me in the East;" the second is that of Afro-American music, the great class, "Steal away to Jesus" being an example; the third stage shows a blending of Negro music with that of the foster-land, as in "Bright Sparkles in the Churchyard;" the fourth shows American melodies affected by the Negro music, as in the songs of Stephen Collins Foster. Another division of the melodies makes two classes of them, those which are the spontaneous expression of the Negro's own feelings, and those which, while now essentially Negro in character, show some evidence of foreign origin. In the second group may be seen traces of European songs and dances, and adaptations of Baptist and Methodist hymns. Those songs which are altogether original are generally religious in tone and most often sorrowful. Typical ones are "My Lord, what a Morning" and "Nobody knows de trouble I've seen." Sometimes however the note of triumph sounds with tremendous force, as in "Oh, give way, Jordan," "In dat great gittin'-up mornin'," and "Oh, den my little soul's gwine to shine." No one is yet able to say just how many of these melodies are in existence, for they have not all been collected. Unlike the English and Scottish popular ballads, they depend for their merit vastly more upon their tunes than upon their words. They are also more affected by nature than are the ballads. A meteoric shower, a thunderstorm, or the dampness of a furrow was sufficient to give birth to a hymn, and the freest possible use was made of figures of speech. As in the ballads, the sentiment of the individual becomes universal; and there is a strong tendency toward repetition. The time-structure of the melodies has frequently astonished musicians by its accuracy; but in recent years there has been a decided tendency toward debasement. "Ragtime" depends for its effect upon an exaggeration of the "rhythmical snap" that is so prominent in Negro music, and upon an excessive use of syncopation. The distinction between "ragtime" and the pure "spirituals" should be insisted upon, however, and more and more should the current debasement of Negro music be discouraged.

152. Phillis Wheatley. The first Negro to achieve distinction in literature in America was Phillis Wheatley. This young woman was born in Africa, in Senegal, in 1753 or 1754. When she was brought to America, in 1761 she was bought for Mrs. Susannah Wheatley, wife of John Wheatley, a tailor, who desired to have a special servant for her declining years. The bright mind and delicate figure of the child soon distinguished her from the other slaves of the household; and with the assistance of Mary Wheatley, the daughter of the family, Phillis learned to read. Within sixteen months from the time of her arrival in Boston she was able to read fluently the most difficult parts of the Bible; and gradually she came to be looked upon by Mrs. Wheatley as a daughter or companion rather than a slave.

In course of time the learning of the young student came to consist of a little astronomy, some geography, a little ancient history, a fair knowledge of the Bible, and a thorough and appreciative acquaintance with the most important Latin classics. Even these modest attainments were most rare for an American woman of the period. Phillis soon turned her attention to the composition of verses, using Pope's Homer as her model; and, as one critic has said, she "became a kind of poet laureate in the domestic circles of Boston." Not only did the gracious demeanor of the girl single her out for special favors at the hands of Mrs. Wheatley's friends; at the age of sixteen she became a member of the congregation of the Old South Meeting House, being the first slave to be admitted into that body. In 1773, after formal manumission, she went to England under the care of Nathaniel Wheatley, the son of the family, the thought being that the air of the sea would improve her health. While abroad she was under the special patronage of the Countess of Huntingdon, to whom a poem on the death of George Whitefield, the former chaplain of this lady, had introduced her. By her wit and modesty she made many friends abroad; presents were showered upon her, Brook Watson, Lord Mayor of London, giving her a copy of a magnificent folio edition of Paradise Lost, which is now in the library of Harvard College. While she was in England arrangements were made for the publication of her volume of verses, Poems on Various Subjects. The illness of her old friend, Mrs. Wheatley, caused her to hasten her return to America. Mrs. Wheatley died in 1774, and her husband in 1778. The daughter of the family, who had married and left the old home, also died in 1778. Nathaniel Wheatley was living abroad. In her loneliness Phillis listened to the voice of John Peters, a ne'er-do-well variously reported to have been a baker, a barber, a grocer, a doctor, and a lawyer. She was married in April, 1778. Hard times now came to her, and her health declined. At last she was compelled to accept work as a drudge in a cheap boarding-house. She became the mother of three children. Two died before her, and her last baby slept with its mother in death December 5, 1784.

Phillis Wheatley's collection, Poems on Various Subjects, contains thirty-nine titles. Fourteen of the thirty-eight original pieces are elegiac and not at all remarkable for poetic merit; at least six others may be classed as occasional; and two are mere paraphrases of portions of the Bible. We are thus left with sixteen poems which permit us to judge of the ability of Phillis Wheatley. Let us keep in mind the fact that all these pieces were written by a girl not yet twenty years old. The masterpiece is undoubtedly On Imagination, lines suffused with true poetic feeling. Several other poems are of interest for different reasons. On Being Brought from Africa to America  consists of eight childish but sincere lines. On Virtue  is the remarkable utterance of a pious, but fatherless and motherless, child. To S. M., a Young African Painter, on Seeing his Works  was addressed to Scipio Moorhead, a young Negro who had evidently some talent for painting, and one of whose pictures (one infers from the poem) dealt with the story of Damon and Pythias.

The form of the verses shows decided imitation of Alexander Pope. The heroic couplet swings through all except two or three of the poems. The diction also is pseudo-classic. The earnestness of the work, however, is one of its strong assets. Phillis Wheatley is intensely serious and pious. She never intends to be humorous, and when in To the University of Cambridge, in New England  the young girl of nineteen gives advice to the students at Harvard, it is not because she so intends that she provokes a smile. As a woman Phillis Wheatley was eminently noble. Hers was a great soul. Her ambition knew no bounds, her thirst for knowledge was insatiable, and she triumphed over the most adverse circumstances. A child of the wilderness and a slave, by her grace and culture she satisfied the conventionalities of Boston and of London. Her brilliant conversation was equaled only by her modest demeanor. Everything about her was refined: her figure was delicately moulded; her handwriting was plain and neat. More and more as one studies her life he becomes aware of her sterling Christian character; and it was meet that the first Negro woman in American literature should be one of unerring piety and unbending virtue.

153. Paul Laurence Dunbar.—Dunbar was born June 27, 1872, in Dayton, Ohio. When he attended the Steele High School in Dayton he edited The High School Times, a monthly student publication, and when he graduated from the school in 1891 he composed the song for his class. After vain seeking for something better, he accepted a position as elevator boy, working for $4 a week. In 1.893, at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he was given a position by Frederick Douglass, who was in charge of the exhibit from Hayti. Gradually, with the assistance of friends, chief among whom was Dr. H. A. Tobey, of Toledo, the young poet came into notice as a reader of his verses. Oak and Ivy  appeared in 1893, and Majors and Minors  in the winter of 1895-96. William Dean Howells, whose attention had been called to the poet's work, wrote a full-page review of it in the issue of Harper's Weekly  that contained an account of William McKinley's first nomination for the presidency. Dunbar was now fairly launched upon his larger fame, and Lyrics of Lowly Life, published by Dodd, Mead & Co. in 1896, introduced him to the wider reading public. This book is deservedly the poet's best known. It contained the best work of his youth, and was really never surpassed. In 1897 Dunbar enhanced his reputation as a reader of his own poems by a visit to England. About this time he was very busy, writing numerous poems and magazine articles, and meeting with a success that was so much greater than that of most of the versifiers of the day that it became a vogue. In October, 1897, through the influence of Robert G. Ingersoll, he secured employment as an assistant in the Reading Room of the Library of Congress, Washington. He gave up this position after a year however, for the confinement and his late work at night on his own account were making rapid inroads upon his health. On March 6, 1898, Dunbar was married to Alice Ruth Moore, of New Orleans. Early in 1899 he went South, visiting Tuskegee and other schools, and giving many readings. Later in the same year he went to Colorado in a vain search for health. Books were now appearing in rapid succession, short story collections and novels as well as poems. The Uncalled, written in London, reflected the poet's thought of entering the ministry. It was followed by The Love of Landry, a Colorado story, The Fanatics, and The Sport of the Gods. Collections of short stories were Folks from Dixie, The Strength of Gideon, and In Old Plantation Days. Volumes of verse were Lyrics of the Hearthside, Lyrics of Love and Laughter, Poems of Cabin and Field, When Malindy Sings, Candle-Lightin' Time, and Howdy, Honey, Howdy, the last four being for the most part profusely illustrated editions of earlier work. The poet's last years were a record of sincere friendships and a losing fight against disease. He died February 9, 1906. He was only thirty-three, but he "had existed millions of years."

Unless the novels are considered as forming a distinct class, Dunbar's work falls naturally into three divisions: the poems in classic English, those in dialect, and the stories in prose. While all his work is remarkably even, it was his verse in the Negro dialect that was his distinct contribution to American literature. That it was not his desire that this should be so may be seen from the eight lines entitled The Poet, in which he longed for success in the singing of his "deeper notes" and spoke of his dialect as "a jingle in a broken tongue." Any criticism of Dunbar's English verse will have to reckon with the following poems: Ere Sleep Comes Down to Soothe the Weary Eyes, The Poet and his Song, Life, Promise and Fulfilment, Ships that Pass in the Night, and October. In the pure flow of lyrical verse the poet never surpassed his early lines:

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes,

How questioneth the soul that other soul,—

The inner sense which neither cheats nor lies,

But self exposes unto self, a scroll

Full writ with all life's acts unwise or wise,

In characters indelible and known;

So trembling with the shock of sad surprise,

The soul doth view its awful self alone,

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.

Other pieces, no more distinguished in poetic quality, are of special biographical interest. Robert Gould Shaw  was the expression of pessimism as to the Negro's future in America. To Louise  was addressed to the young daughter of Dr. Tobey, who, on one occasion when the poet was greatly depressed, in the simple way of a child cheered him by her gift of a rose. A Death Song  contains the haunting line, "Lay me down beneaf de willers in de grass." The Monk's Walk  reflects the poet's thought of being a preacher. To a Violet found on All Saints Day  was the foreboding of domestic unhappiness. Finally there is the swan song contributed to Lippincott's—eight exquisite lines:

Because I had loved so deeply,

Because I had loved so long,

God in his great compassion

Gave me the gift of song.

Because I have loved so vainly,

And sung with such faltering breath

The Master in infinite mercy

Offers the boon of Death.

Of the dialect poems by common consent the masterpiece is When Malindy Sings, a poem inspired by the singing of the poet's mother. Other pieces in dialect that have proved successful are The Rivals, A Coquette Conquered, The Ol' Tunes, A Corn-Song, When de Co'n Pone's Hot, The Party, Lullaby, At Candle-Lightin' Time, Angelina, Whistling Sam, Two little Boots, The Old Front Gate, To the Eastern Shore, and Li'l Gal. Dunbar was a true poet even if not a great one. His work shows a good sense of form, and at its best is almost poignant in its tenderness.

The short stories of Dunbar are remarkably even in literary merit, and would have been sufficient to make his reputation even if he had not written his poems. One of the best technically is Jimsella  in the Folks from Dixie  volume. This story exhibits the pathos of the life of unskilled Negroes in the North, and the leading of a little child. A Family Feud  shows the influence of an old servant in a wealthy Kentucky family. The Walls of Jericho  is an exposure of the methods of a sensational preacher. A Supper by Proxy  shows how a Negro's humor may be at hand to save him even when he faces a most desperate situation. Generally these stories attempt no keen satire, simply a faithful portrayal of conditions as they are. Dunbar's novels hardly reach the standard of his best poems and short stories; but The Sport of the Gods, by its interesting treatment of a definite phase of life, rises somewhat above the others in strength and workmanship.

By his genius Paul Laurence Dunbar attracted the attention of the great, the wise, and the good. His bookcase contained many autograph copies of the works of distinguished contemporaries. One of the most beautiful pictures in the history of American letters is that of William Dean Howells climbing on one occasion to the top of a cheap apartment house in New York to visit the poet when he was sick. The similarity of the position of Dunbar in American literature to that of Robert Burns in English has frequently been pointed out. In our own time he most readily invites comparison with James Whitcomb Riley. The writings of both men are distinguished by infinite tenderness and pathos; and it is pleasant to know that even before Dunbar published his first book, Riley, already successful, perceived his merit and wrote him a word of cheer.

154. Charles Waddell Chesnutt.—Charles Waddell Chesnutt, the foremost novelist and short story writer of the race, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, June 20, 1858. At the age of sixteen he began to teach in the public schools of North Carolina, from which state his parents had gone to Cleveland; and at the age of twenty-three he became principal of the State Normal School at Fayetteville. In 1883 he left the South, engaging for a short while in newspaper work in New York City, but going soon to Cleveland, where he worked as a stenographer. He was admitted to the bar in 1887.

While in North Carolina Mr. Chesnutt studied to good purpose the dialect, manners, and superstitions of the Negro people of the State. In 1887 he began in The Atlantic Monthly  the series of stories which were afterwards brought together in the volume entitled The Conjure Woman. This book was published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., the firm which published also Mr. Chesnutt's other collection of stories and the first two of the three novels which he has written. The Wife of his Youth, and Other Stories of the Color Line  appeared in 1899. In the same year appeared a compact biography of Frederick Douglass, a contribution to the series of Beacon Biographies of Eminent Americans. Three novels have since appeared, as follows: The House behind the Cedars, in 1900; The Marrow of Tradition, in 1901; and The Colonel's Dream, in 1905.

Mr. Chesnutt's short stories are not all of the same degree of excellence, but the best ones show that he possesses mastery of the short story as a literary form, an art the requisites of which are completely uncomprehended by many of the younger aspirants for literary fame. One of the their best technically is The Bouquet. Most famous of all, however, is The Wife of his Youth, a simple work of art whose intensity is almost overpowering. Such stories as these, each setting forth a certain problem, working it out to its logical conclusion, excluding extraneous matter, and, as in The Bouquet, selecting the title from the concrete means used in working out the theme, reflect great credit upon the literary skill of the writer.

Of the novels The House behind the Cedars  is commonly given first place. In the story of the heroine, Rena Walden, are treated some of the most subtle and piercing questions raised by the color-line. The Marrow of Tradition  touches upon almost every phase of the race problem. The Colonel's Dream  is a sad story of the failure of high ideals. Colonel Henry French is a man who, born in the South, achieves success in New York and returns to his old home for a little vacation only to find himself face to face with all the problems that one meets in a backward Southern town. He has a dream of "a regenerated South, filled with thriving industries, and thronged with a prosperous and happy people"; but, becoming interested in the justice visited upon the Negroes in the courts and in the employment of white children in the cotton-mills, he encounters opposition to his benevolent plans, and finally goes back to New York defeated. Mr. Chesnutt writes in simple, clear English, and works with a high sense of art. He is to-day one of the outstanding men of the race in literary achievement, and he deserves credit as a pioneer in treating in the guise of fiction the searching problems that one now meets in the life of the Negro of the South.

155. W. E. Burghardt DuBois.—Aside from his more technical studies Dr. DuBois produced three books which call for consideration in a review of Negro literature. Of these one is a biography, one a novel, and the other a collection of essays. In 1909 appeared John Brown, a contribution to the series of American Crisis Biographies. The subject was one well adapted to treatment at the hands of Dr. DuBois, and in the last chapter, "The Legacy of John Brown," he has shown that his hero has a message for twentieth century America, this: "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." The most recent sustained work is The Quest of the Silver Fleece, which appeared in 1911. This story has three main themes the economic position of the Negro agricultural laborer, the subsidizing of a certain kind of Negro schools, and Negro life and society in the city of Washington. The third book really appeared before either of the two works just mentioned. In 1903 fourteen essays, most of which had already appeared in such magazines as The Atlantic Monthly  and The World's Work, were brought together in a volume entitled The Souls of Black Folk. The remarkable style of this book has made it unquestionably the most important work in classic English yet written by a Negro. It is marked by all the arts of rhetoric, especially by liquid and alliterative effects, strong antithesis, frequent allusion, and poetic suggestiveness. The color-line is "The Veil," the Negro melodies the "Sorrow Songs." Where merit is so even and the standard of performance so high, one hesitates to choose that which is best. The Dawn of Freedom  is a study of the Freedmen's Bureau; The Meaning of Progress  is a story of life in Tennessee told with infinite pathos by one who has been the country school-master; The Training of Black Men  is a plea for liberally educated leadership; The Quest of the Golden Fleece, like one or two related essays, is a faithful portrayal of life in the Black Belt; and The Coming of John is the story of what passes in more than one noble soul that has caught a glimpse of the light. The book as a whole is a powerful plea for justice and the liberty of citizenship.

156. William Stanley Braithwaite.—Foremost of the poets of the race at present is William Stanley Braithwaite, of Cambridge, Mass. Mr. Braithwaite has worked for years at his art most conscientiously, and he has taken the time and the pains to master the details and to secure the general equipment that others all too often deem unimportant. He has published two small books of poems, Lyrics of Life and Love  and The House of Falling Leaves. His work has appeared in the Atlantic, the Century, and other magazines of the first rank; and he is fully abreast with all recent schools and tendencies. Within the last few years Mr. Braithwaite s reputation as a critic has even surpassed his earlier reputation as a writer of verse. He has encouraged many other workers in literary fields, and it is not too much to say that he is to-day the foremost sponsor for current American poetry. This high position he has won by the articles which he has written for the Boston Evening Transcript  and by the anthology of American magazine poetry that he has edited for each year since 1913. He has also edited other anthologies, notably The Book of Elizabethan Verse, The Book of Restoration Verse, The Book of Georgian Verse, and Victory. His position is one of unique distinction.

157. Other Writers.—In addition to those who have been mentioned, there have been scores of writers who would have to be considered in an exhaustive discussion of Negro literature. Most that has been written, however, belongs to the field of discussions of the Negro Problem rather than to that of polite literature. Many collections of sermons and addresses have been published; but in the field of theology in which so much has been attempted no member of the race has yet produced a work that can command the attention of the scholarship of the world, no work, for instance, of the order of Renan's Life of Jesus  or Strong's Systematic Theology. The History of the Negro Race in America, by George W. Williams, was a strong contribution to American historical study. This work was the exploration of a new field; and although it is now more than twenty-five years old and not altogether free from errors, it is still too important to be neglected by any student of Negro history. In technical scholarship one is quickly reminded of the work of President William S. Scarborough of Wilberforce, who has published among other things, "First Lessons in Greek "and a treatise on the "Birds "of Aristophanes.

In recent years there have been published a great many works, generally illustrated, on the progress and achievements of the race. A few of these books have been scholarly and serviceable, more have been indifferent, and still more have been worthless. The common fault has been a lack of literary form. Some collaborations, however, have been of more than usual merit. Three may be observed. One is a volume entitled "The Negro Problem," published in 1903 by James Pott & Co., of New York. This consists of seven papers by representative Negroes. Another collaboration is "From Servitude to Service," published in 1905 by the American Unitarian Association of Boston. This is made up of the Old South Lectures on the history and work of Southern institutions for the education of the Negro. The third book is of special importance for students of the economic situation of the Negro in the South. It is made up of four papers, two by Dr. Washington and two by Dr. DuBois, which were the William Levi Bull Lectures in the Philadelphia Divinity School for the year 1907. It is entitled "The Negro in the South," and was published in 1907 by George W. Jacobs & Co., of Philadelphia.

Prof. Kelly Miller, of Howard University, and Mr. Archibald H. Grimke, of Boston, deserve special mention for their strong magazine articles. Professor Miller has collected some of his very cogent papers in two volumes, Race Adjustment  and Out of the House of Bondage, and he has also written an Appeal to Conscience. Mr. Grimke has written the lives of Garrison and Sumner in the American Reformers series. The work of these two writers, however, belongs rather to the field of history or sociology than to that of general literature. To the same province also belongs William A. Sinclair's The Aftermath of Slavery.

In sustained poetic flight and in the classic drama no member of the race has as yet achieved ultimate success. In closely related fields, however, an excellent beginning has been made. James W. Johnson has had poems in the Century  and other prominent magazines, and he has brought together some of his work in Fifty Years and Other Poems. Mrs. Georgia Douglas Johnson's The Heart of a Woman  is representative of recent and promising things in this field. The work of George Moses Horton, whose Hope of Liberty appeared in 1829; of Mrs. F. E. W. Harper, whose Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects sold thousands of copies soon after the Civil War; and of Albery A. Whitman, who had some of the genuine marks of a poet and who attempted several ambitious productions, all now possesses an interest mainly historical. It is very interesting, however, and is treated at some length in the author's The Negro in Literature and Art.

Several persons have written autobiographies. That of Frederick Douglass under several different titles ran through numerous editions. John Mercer Langston's From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol  is interesting and serviceable. The incomparable work in this class of writing, however, is Up from Slavery, by Booker T. Washington. The modesty and simplicity of style that characterize this book have made it a model of personal writing. Dr. Washington also produced several other notable books, such as The Story of the Negro, The Man Farthest Down, and My Larger Education. The interesting Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man  seems to be half fact and half fiction. It was published anonymously, but is generally credited to James W. Johnson.

Numerous attempts at the composition of novels have been made, but it is in this special department that a sense of literary form has been most lacking. With the exception of DuBois's The Quest of the Silva Fleece, no work in the field has attracted general attention within the last few years. A. O. Stafford, of Washington, however, has published through the American Book Company a small and very good supplementary reader entitled Animal Fables from the Dark Continent.

158. The Stage.—In no other field have Negroes with artistic aspirations found the road so hard as it is in that of the legitimate drama. The one or two who have succeeded in this special line have done so only by reason of great individual force, and at the expense of leaving their home country and seeking recognition abroad where their racial affinity would not always debar them.

Conspicuous on the roll of those who have thus triumphed is the name of Ira Frederick Aldridge. About the early life of this man there are conflicting accounts. One says that he was born in Bel Air in Maryland about 1810, became apprenticed to a German ship carpenter, accompanied Edmund. Kean to England as his servant, returning to America about 1830; and another story, not quite so well founded, says that he was the son of a native of Senegal who was brought as a slave to America, that he was born in New York in 1807, and that he was sent to the University of Glasgow to be educated for the ministry. In any case, when he appeared in London in the early thirties, he became a remarkably popular actor. His name always calls up the part of Othello; but he achieved distinction also in other roles adapted to his color. On the continent of Europe he became regarded as one of the greatest tragedians of the day. He received many decorations of crosses and medals, and became a member of several of the great continental academies of arts and science. The emperors of Russia and Austria and the King of Prussia were among those who honored him. He died in Poland in 1867.

In the dosing years of the last century, as the Negro was practically excluded from participation in the regular drama, there came into existence several musical comedy companies whose chief aim was naturally merely to amuse. Out of all such work Bert A. Williams rose to special individual distinction, so that at the present time he is by many critics considered the foremost comedian on the American stage. The last decade is noteworthy both for a beginning in the serious portrayal of Negro life in the general American drama and for the cultivation of the regular drama by the Negro people themselves. The first tendency is represented by Ridgely Torrence's Granny Maumee  and the second by the work of the Lafayette Players in New York. Both tendencies suggest the possibility of great good in the future.

169. Orator.—In the history of the orators of the race the names of Frederick Douglass, J. C. Price, and Booker T. Washington are conspicuous. Price was for years president of Livingstone College in North Carolina, and his name seems to have become a synonym for eloquence. The speeches of the other two men have become simply a part of the life of the American nation. The real work of the life of Douglass was done before and immediately after the Civil War. Mr. Chesnutt has admirably summed up the characteristics of his oratory. He tells us that "Douglass possessed, in large measure, the physical equipment most impressive in an orator. He was a man of magnificent figure, tall, strong, his head crowned with a mass of hair which made a striking element of his appearance. He had deep-set and flashing eyes, a firm, well-moulded chin, a countenance somewhat severe in repose, but capable of a wide range of expression. His voice was rich and melodious, and of carrying power."

Dr. Booker T. Washington is by general consent one of the first, perhaps the very first, of contemporary American orators. Three of his most notable speeches were delivered in the earlier years of his national prominence. His speech at the Atlanta Exposition of 1895 is famous for its illustration of two ships at sea with the moral, "Cast down your buckets where you are," and for the so-called compromise with the white South: "In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress." Shortly after receiving the honorary degree of Master of Arts at the Harvard commencement of 1896, Mr. Washington made a speech in which he emphasized the fact that the welfare of the wealthiest and most cultured person in New England is bound up with that of the humblest man in Alabama, and that each man is his brother's keeper. At the Chicago Peace Jubilee of 1898 he reviewed the conduct of the Negro in the wars of the United States, making a powerful plea for justice to a race which had always chosen the better part in the wars of its country. Mr. Washington has delivered hundreds of addresses, but he has really never surpassed the feeling and point and frankness of these early speeches.

160. Painters.—E. M. Bannister, whose home was at Providence while he lived, while not known to the younger generation, was very prominent in his art thirty years ago. He gathered about himself a coterie of artists and rich men that formed the nucleus of the Rhode Island Art Club, and one of his pictures took a medal at the Centennial Exposition of 1876.

Incomparably the foremost Negro American painter of the present day is Henry Ossawa Tanner, who was born in Pittsburg June 21, 1859, the son of Bishop Tanner, of the A. M. E. Church. His parents removed to Philadelphia soon after his birth, and there he studied in the public schools and under Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1882 in Paris he began to study under Jean Paul Laurens, being less conscious of prejudice abroad than at home. He gave some attention to landscape, but soon began to devote himself to scriptural subjects; and it is his religious work which has made him famous. He won honorable mention at the Paris Salon of 1896, a third class medal the next year, a second class medal in 1907, and a medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900. In the United States he was awarded the Walter Lippincott prize in Philadelphia in 1900, and silver medals at Buffalo in 1901, and at St. Louis in 1904. In 1906 he won the Harris prize of $5oo for the best picture in the annual exhibition of American paintings at the Chicago Art Institute. Daniel in the Lions' Den, hung in the Salon in 1896, was the first of the line of religious paintings, and The Raising of Lazarus, produced in 1897 and bought by the French Government, won for the artist fame. Other prominent titles are The Annunciation, Christ and Nicodemus, The Two Disciples at the Tomb, and The Betrayal. Within recent years Mr. Tanner has kept pace with some of the newer schools by brilliant experimentation in color and composition. He is thoroughly romantic in tone, and in spirit, if not in technique, there is much to connect him with the Pre-Raphaelites. His whole career is an inspiration and a challenge to younger workers.

William E. Scott, of Indianapolis, is becoming more and more distinguished in mural work, landscape, and portraiture, and among all the painters of the race now working in this country is outstanding. He has spent several years in Paris, and in 1912 and 1913 exhibited pictures in the Salon. He has done much mural work in schools and other public buildings. Some of his effects in coloring are very striking, and in several of his recent pictures he has used racial subjects.

161. Sculptors.—In sculpture several women have risen to recognized position, though, interestingly enough, no man has as yet risen to distinction in this field. Edmonia Lewis, born in New York, first attracted general attention in 1865 by a bust of Robert Gould Shaw exhibited in Boston. She afterwards made her home in Rome, where she produced The Freedwoman, The Death of Cleopatra, several busts, and numerous other works of merit. Within the last few decades the work of Mrs. May Howard Jackson, of Washington, has also attracted the attention of the discerning. That of Mrs. Meta Warrick Fuller is now a part of the general story of American sculpture.

Meta Vaux Warrick (now the wife of Dr. S. C. Fuller, of Framingham, Mass.) first compelled serious recognition of her talent by her work in the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art. Her first original piece in clay was a head of Medusa. This conception, with its hanging jaw, beads of gore on the face, and eyes starting from their sockets, marked her as a sculptor of the horrible. A little later came a crucifix upon which hung a form of Christ torn by anguish. In, 1899 the young student went to Paris, where her work brought her in contact with St. Gaudens and other artists. Then there came a day when the great Rodin himself, thrilled by the figure in Secret Sorrow, a man represented as eating his heart out, in the attitude of a father beamed upon the girl and said, "My child, you are a sculptor; you have the sense of form." A group entitled The Wretched  is generally regarded as the artist's masterpiece. Several other early productions were in similar strong and romantic vein; but in recent years Mrs. Fuller has given her attention primarily to themes of social interest, such as freedom, immigration, and peace. A disastrous fire in 1910 destroyed much of her best work, but by 1914 she had recovered sufficiently to be able to hold a public exhibition of her work. Peace Halting the Ruthlessness of War  in 1917 took the second prize in a competition under the auspices of the Massachusetts Branch of the Woman's Peace Party. Mrs. Fuller leads a busy life, one happy with the virtues of the home, from whose pressing duties she snatches the brief but precious moments for the practice of her art.

162. Vocalists.—It is but natural that soprano singers should have been those most distinguished. Even before the Civil War the Negro race produced one of the first rank in the person of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, the "Black Swan," who came into prominence in 1851. This artist, born in Mississippi, was taken to Philadelphia and there cared for by a Quaker lady. Said the Daily State Register, of Albany, after one of her concerts: "The compass of her marvelous voice embraces twenty-seven notes, reaching from the sonorous bass of a baritone to a few notes above even Jenny Lind's highest." A voice with a range of more than three octaves naturally attracted much attention in England as well as in America, and comparisons with Jenny Lind, then at the height of her fame, were frequent. Some years later rose Madame Selika, a singer of most uncommon ability and power who won great success on the continent of Europe as well as in America and England. The careers of two later singers are so recent as to be still fresh in the public memory; one indeed may still be heard on the stage. It was in 1887 that Flora Batson entered on the period of her greatest fame. The singing of this artist was, at its best, of the sort that sends an audience into the wildest enthusiasm. At one time at a great temperance revival in New York she sang for ninety successive nights with tremendous effect one song, "Six Feet of Earth Make Us All One Size." Her voice exhibited a compass of three octaves, from the purest, clearcut soprano, sweet and full, to the rich, round notes of the baritone register. Three or four years later than Flora, Batson in point both of birth and the period of greatest artistic success came Mrs. Sissieretta Jones, with whose name the "S'wanee River "is almost inseparably linked in the public mind. Her voice is of great volume and unusual richness; it exhibits also the peculiar plaintive quality ever characteristic of the Negro voice.

Within the last few years among the very prominent singers have been Mme. E. Azalia Hackley, Mme. Anita Patti Brown, Mme. Mayme Calloway Byron, and Mine. Florence Cole-Talbert. Mme. Hackley has a splendid musical temperament and has enjoyed the benefit of three years of study in Paris and other European cities. She has assisted many individuals and in other ways done much to show the capabilities of the Negro voice. Mme. Brown, a product of the Chicago conservatories, is the possessor of a voice with a sympathetic quality that makes a ready appeal to the heart of an audience. Mme. Byron has but lately returned to America after years of study and cultivation in Europe. She has sung in the principal theatres abroad and in other ways met with distinguished success. Mme. Talbert has within the last few years sung in the chief cities of the North and West with an increasing measure of success. Of the men Harry T. Burleigh commands instant attention. For more than twenty years he has been the baritone soloist at St. George's Episcopal Church, New York, and for nearly as long at Temple Emanu-El, the Fifth Avenue Jewish synagogue. Roland W. Hayes, a brilliant tenor, has within the last decade filled numerous engagements all over the country with noteworthy success. In addition to those who have been mentioned there are to-day at work several younger singers who need only a little more training and opportunity to secure from the public the high place that they deserve.

163. Fisk Jubilee Singers.—In this general review of those who have helped to make the Negro voice famous, mention should be made of a remarkable company of singers who first made the folk-songs of the race known to the world at large. In 1871 the Fisk Jubilee Singers began their memorable progress through America and Europe, meeting at first with scorn and sneers, but before long touching the heart of the world with their strange music. The original band consisted of four young men and five young women; in the seven years of the existence of the company altogether twenty-four persons were enrolled in it. Says J. B. Marsh in his little book, The Story of the Jubilee Singers:  "They were at times without money to buy needed clothing; yet in three years they returned, bringing back with them nearly one hundred thousand dollars. They had been turned away from hotels and driven out of railway waiting-rooms, because of their color; but they had been received with honor by the President of the United States; they had sung their slave songs before the Queen of Great Britain, and they had gathered as invited guests about the breakfast table of her Prime Minister. Their success was as remarkable as their mission was unique." Altogether these singers by their seven years of work raised one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and secured for their institution school books, paintings, and apparatus to the value of seven or eight thousand more. They sang in the United States, England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Switzerland, and Germany. Since their time they have been much imitated, but hardly ever equaled, and never surpassed.

164. Composers.—The foremost name on the roll of Negro composers is that of a man whose home was in England, but who in so many ways identified himself with the Negroes in the United States that he deserves to be considered here. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) was born in London, and began the study of the violin when he was six years old. As he grew older he emphasized more and more the violin and the piano. In 1890 he became a student in the violin department of the Royal, Academy of Music. In his third year at this institution he won a prize in composition, and in 1894 was graduated with honor. His early works include a number of anthems and some chamber-music. In 1898 Coleridge-Taylor became famous by his cantata, "Hiawatha's Wedding-Feast." This was followed by "The Death of Minnehaha "and "Hiawatha's Departure." His most distinctive work, however, is that reflecting his interest in the Negro folk-song. "Characteristic of the melancholy beauty, barbaric color, charm of musical rhythm and vehement passion of the true Negro music, are his symphonic pianoforte selections based on the Negro melodies from Africa and America, the 'African Suite,' a group of pianoforte pieces, the 'African Romances' (words by Paul L. Dunbar), the 'Song of Slavery,' 'Three Choral Ballads' and 'African Dances,' and a suite for violin and pianoforte." Prominent later vocal works are "The Atonement" and "The Blind Girl of Castel-Cuille." This great musician also wrote the music to "Herod"; "Othello," a suite for pianoforte; "A Tale of Old Japan," his last choral work, and various waltzes, as well as other things. All of his works show breadth of treatment and effects of beauty attained by simple means.

The foremost composer of the race to-day is Harry T. Burleigh, who within the last few years has won a place not only among the prominent song-writers of America, but of the world. His compositions display great technical excellence. Prominent among his later songs are Jean, the Saracen Songs, One Year  (1914-1915), and The Young Warrior, the brilliant war-song the words of which were by James W. Johnson. Of somewhat stronger quality even than most of these songs are The Grey Wolf, to words by Arthur Symons, The Soldier, a setting of Rupert Brooke's well known sonnet, and Ethiopia Saluting the Colors. An entirely different division of Mr. Burleigh's work, hardly less important than his songs, is his various adaptations of the Negro melodies, especially for choral work; and he assisted Dvorak  in his New World Symphony based on the Negro folk-songs. For his general achievement in music he was in 1917 awarded the Spingarn Medal. Another prominent composer is Will Marion Cook. Mr. Cook's time has been given largely to the composition of popular music; he has, however, produced numerous songs that bear the stamp of genius. In 1912 a group of his tuneful and characteristic pieces was published by Schirmer. J. Rosamond Johnson is also a composer with many original ideas. In pure melody he is not surpassed by any other musician of the race to-day. His long experience with large orchestras, moreover, has given him unusual knowledge of instrumentation. Carl Diton, organist and pianist, has so far been interested chiefly in the transcription for the organ of representative Negro melodies. R. Nathaniel Dett has the merit, more than others, of attempting works in large form. Of the very young men of promise, special interest attaches to the work of Edmund T. Jenkins, of Charleston, S. C., who a few years ago made his way to the Royal Academy in London, and who in the course of his career at this institution has already taken numerous prizes, in composition as well as for instrumental work.

165. Other Musicians. Raymond Augustus Lawson, of Hartford, Conn., is probably the foremost pianist of the race. His technique is most highly developed, and his style causes him to be a favorite concert pianist. He conducts one of the leading studios in New England and enjoys a wealthy clientele. While he and J. Rosamond Johnson and Roy W. Tibbs and Hazel Harrison cannot possibly be overlooked, there are to-day so many excellent pianists that a most competent and well-informed musician would hesitate before passing judgment upon them. Of the organists Melville Charlton, of Brooklyn, is prominent. As an associate of the American Guild of Organists he has now won for himself a place among the foremost organists of the United States, and as he is still a young man, from him may not unreasonably be expected many years of high artistic endeavor. Two other organists who have for years been very prominent are William Herbert Bush, of New London, Conn., and Frederick P. White, of Boston. Prominent violinists within recent years have been Clarence Cameron White, of Boston, Joseph Douglass, of Washington, Felix Weir, of Washington and New York, and Kemper Harreld, of Chicago and Atlanta. "Blind Tom" (Thomas Bethune, born in Columbus, Ga., in 1849), who attracted so much attention in the earlier years after the Civil War, deserves notice as a prodigy rather than as a musician of solid achievement. He was peculiarly susceptible to the influences of nature, imitated on the piano all the sounds he knew, and without being able to read a note could play from memory the most difficult compositions of Beethoven and Mendelssohn.