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United States Tariff Commission

Washington
EDWARD P. COSTIGAN

Commissioner

March 3, 1920.

A letter bearing your familiar name and calling attention to the desirability of establishing in law and recognizing in practice clear distinctions between art and obscenity, protective of the former though not of the latter, is before me. The differentiation and the principles you mention are at once so elementary and important that I am glad to join in a general expression of approval of those objects. It is highly desirable that art shall be judged by its ageold standards and by those competent to apply them, and I am one of those who earnestly trust that our lawmakers and the courts will find it possible to avoid injustice with reference to all genuinely artistic expression. The encouragement and achievements of human genius certainly deserve no less from us, and, as a lawyer, I am confident that it is possible, without difficulty both now and in the future, effectively to realize this result through the application of the reasonable and accepted tests of public welfare.

Very sincerely,

E. P. Costigan.

245 Nassau St.,
Princeton, N. J.

February 24, 1920.

I am often not in sympathy with the methods adopted by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. On the other hand, I am not at all in sympathy with a group of writers who would take any protest against that Society as a justification for what they are pleased to call art. The harm done by the Society seems to me very slight, whereas the harm done by the self-styled artists may be very great. I feel obliged therefore to withhold my signature from your circular protest of February 14th.

Very truly yours,

Paul E. More.

Los Angeles, Calif.

February 23, 1920.

I have received and signed and forwarded the James Branch Cabell protest. But of what use are kind words to Mr. Cabell? What he needs and what every independent thinker needs in these acute hours is something tangible and substantial in the way of aid. There should be a cash defense fund such as for the last five years I have advocated, which should be devoted to the hiring of competent lawyers and the prosecution of these cattle in every city in which they operate—and they now operate everywhere. Such a lawyer or counsel of defense could use the newspapers, as well as the courts, and make a showing of opposition at least. As it stands we have pale protests from committees who ask authors to sign them.

Incidentally, of what use is the Authors' League if not to aid in such a case as this? Is it solely devoted to the task of discovering where to sell trashy tenth-rate material and to coerce conventional publishers into paying large royalties on best sellers ? tacle! I sympathize with Mr. Cabell, but I will do more. I will give one hundred dollars toward a defense fund if others as well or better placed than myself will do as much.

Theodore Dreiser.

The spec

P.S. If such a defense fund can be gotten together it should be urged by all publishers, producing managers, authors and playwrights, as well as book-dealers, that they contribute liberally, as they should. Let the matter of criticism of books, plays, etc., come from the Attorney General at Washington. As it is now, every little tenth-rate squeak of a minister or white slaver can now pass on France, Freud, Andreyeff, Shestov, and who not else. Think of Noa-Noa being barred by a mid-western vice society! These cattle must be debarred from indicting the characters and morals of their betters. Their muddy hoofs dishonor the temple. It is not for an artist to defend himself. The state should do it. But pending the awakening of the state let the writers and publishers combine to defend themselves. I will do whatever I can.

THE NEW REPUBLIC
421 West 21st St.,

New York City

February 18, 1920. I think I belong to the "in general" protestants.

Sincerely yours,

Walter Lippmann.

Metuchen, N. J.

February 26 1920. I have not read Jurgen, and feel that in fairness to author and publisher, I should not judge on either side.

I agree with you with regard to your opinions. Can you use the enclosed?

Sincerely,
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.

I don't know anything about the Society or the law, hence the changes before signing. I hope you can use one of them. I might do better next time.

[Additional Note.] I have not read Madeleine. I have not read Jurgen. I have not read any book to which public attention is called by the Society for the Suppression of Vice.

I do not think it fair to the Society, to publisher or author, to pass judgment upon a book or measure of which I am ignorant.

I, however, do most sincerely think that any Society, enabled by any law to cast a stigma upon an author or a publisher, unless all the reasons, not in part, but as a whole, are known to the reading public, should have for its judges a body of persons eminently calculated by their own knowledge of literature, and art, and standards of morality, to praise or condemn.

I also think that no books dealing only with the social evil should be chosen for examination, but those dealing with the drug habit and life of the underworld in such a manner as to fascinate young readers and cast a gloss upon evil which may attract their imagination.

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.

Comarques
Thorpe-Le-Soken

May 17, 1920. With reference to your Emergency Committee Protest, my view is that the police alone should have the right to prosecute an author. To give to any private society the right to prosecute on public grounds is bound to lead to grave injustice. In England the number of private prosecutions is now almost nil, and I believe that no effective private prosecution can be begun without the consent of the Attorney General. Two private societies in England took very strong objection to my novel - The Pretty Lady—not on moral but on sectarian religious grounds! They demanded the suppression of the book. As soon as they discovered I was a fighter they let the matter drop.

Yours faithfully,

Arnold Bennett.

1004 West End Trust Building

Philadelphia

April 19, 1920. I cannot express any opinion about the book of Mr. Cabell. concerning which you have written me, because I have not seen it. One book of Mr. Cabell's I know, and like. He was good enough to send it to me some years ago and I had great pleasure in reading the stories that it contained. Its title, if I remember, was A Certain Hour.

In a general way I share the opinion which your paragraphs embody. I think, however, that it is very difficult to lay down any rule for universal application. There are certain themes which should be kept from the young, and are kept from the young in countries like France. To justify works of imagination upon these themes, genius, it seems to me, is needed. For example, the play of Measure for Measure would be purely objectionable in the hands of a number of modern play writers whose names I could mention. I can find but two formulas which I can express to you in words, and which, I think, represent my feelings upon the subject.

First, I think that each individual case should be judged upon its merits.

The second formula is more difficult-namely, who shall be the people to judge. Usually I find myself not completely in sympathy with the sort of people who associate themselves with the suppression of vice. While their aim is high, I am apt to think their judgment is somewhat fallible. Were I to choose a committee who should act as censors upon works of the imagination, whether they be in the form of books or in the form of plays, I should want a committee very variously selected. I should like to see upon it one or two writers of creative talent, one or two enlightened philanthropists, and several men connected with active business, such as bankers, engineers, manufacturers of broad experience in dealing with mankind. These men are apt to take very sane views and to dislike extremes. Their opinion, after conference with the other sort of people-namely, artists and moralists—would bring a leaven that I think wholesome and essential.

Yours very truly,

Owen Wister.

2970 Ellis Avenue

Chicago, Iu.

With every word in the protest you are circulating with regard to the suppression of Jurgen I am in the heartiest accord. If such a book can be put out of circulation by an irresponsible committee; if publishers can be penalized for issuing it; if an author for writing it can be defamed and have his just earnings sequestered, then

indeed every writer in America who wants to deal with the whole of human life will be inhibited. Could a Goethe write a Faust in a country where a book was dealt with in such a way? If the irresponsible Committee in New York want to fill up their time, why don't they deal with the undraped ladies in the movie posters at every street corner? These, I consider, are more likely to affect the morality of the man or the boy in the street (who, by the way, would not read Jurgen for money), than any book that the Committee might smell out. Why don't they deal with the headings of the newspapers that every day drag down standards of wholesome living by exhibiting—not Cocaigne, but the next street-as a place of crime and lust? I should write all this about the suppression of a mediocre book. But Jurgen is not a mediocre book. It is a remarkable book-imaginative, vital and philosophic. I might add, too, that it is an austere book. What Mr. Whibley has written about Congreve's Way of the World applies to Jurgen*as austere as a tragedy, as rarefied as thought itself." The person who could be misled by such a book would not have the patience, the discipline, or the necessary regard for literature to read it. Such books are not for policemen, or for those who, dealing with vice, unfortunately for themselves, have to lay "the dyer's hand" upon an author's book.

Yours sincerely,

Padraic Colum.

1

115 Broadway

19th April I signed the statement and protest as to Jurgen in no spirit of solicitude for art or artists. still believe that petty bureaucratic interference will not hinder the appointed word from getting itself spoken, or picture from getting itself painted. My attention went outside of artists, who, to my view, can take care of themselves, to the mass of us, artists and others, who make up the fumbling giant Democracy and who are depending more and more upon the written word for our communications with our fellows and our understanding of our mass job. The sight of the way our channels of written communications are being muddied by prohibitors and propagandists makes me howl. We must keep them open and that means they should be left absolutely alone. No man living is big enough to interfere with these channels-policemen, parsons, or pleaders for the new dispensation. If they are closed or choked, God save us!

Faithfully yours,

Thos. H. Dickinson.

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