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36 Works of Charles S. Brooks

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To any one of several editors. Dear Sir: I paid a visit to your city several days since and humored myself with ambitious thoughts in the contemplation of your editorial windows. I was tempted to rap at your door and request an audience but modesty held me off. Once by appointment I passed an hour […]

It is rash business scuttling your own ship. Now as I am in a way a practical person, which is, I take it, a diminutive state of hard-headedness, any detraction against hard-headedness must appear as leveled against myself. Gimlet in hand, deep down amidships, it would look as if I were squatted and set on […]

Several months ago I had occasion to go through a deserted “mansion.” It was a gaunt building with long windows and it sat in a great yard. Over the windows were painted scrolls, like eyebrows lifted in astonishment. Whatever was the cause of this, it has long since departed, for it is thirty years since […]

On Traveling

Story type: Essay

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In old literature life was compared to a journey, and wise men rejoiced to question old men because, like travelers, they knew the sloughs and roughnesses of the long road. Men arose with the sun, and toddled forth as children on the day’s journey of their lives, and became strong to endure the heaviness of […]

Yesterday I was on the roof with the tinman. He did not resemble the tinman of the “Wizard of Oz” or the flaming tinman of “Lavengro,” for he wore a derby hat, had a shiny seat, and smoked a ragged cigar. It was a flue he was fixing, a thing of metal for the gastronomic […]

Reader, if by fortunate chance you have a son of tender years–the age is best from the sixth to the eleventh summer–or in lieu of a son, a nephew, only a few years in pants–mere shoots of nether garments not yet descending to the knees–doubtless, if such fortunate chance be yours, you went on one […]

It sounds like the tinkle of triviality to descend from the stern business of this present time to write of night-caps: And yet while the discordant battles are puffing their cheeks upon the rumbling bass pipes, it is relief if there be intermingled a small, shrill treble–any slightest squeak outside the general woe. There was […]

In what pleasurable mystery would we live were it not for maps! If I chance on the name of a town I have visited, I locate it on a map. I may not actually get down the atlas and put my finger on the name, but at least I picture to myself its lines and […]

Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!Spring, the sweet Spring! If by any chance you have seen a man in a coat with sagging pockets, and a cloth hat of the latest fashion but two–a hat which I may say is precious to him (old friends, old wine, old hats)–emerging from his house just short of noon, do […]

Once in a while I dream that I come upon a person who is reading a book that I have written. In my pleasant dreams these persons do not nod sleepily upon my pages, and sometimes I fall in talk with them. Although they do not know who I am, they praise the book and […]

Having written lately against the dog, several acquaintances have asked me to turn upon the cat, and they have been good enough to furnish me with instances of her faithlessness. Also, a lady with whom I recently sat at dinner, inquired of me on the passing of the fish, whether I had ever properly considered […]

Book reviewers nowadays direct their attention, for the most part, to the worthy books and they habitually neglect those that seem beneath their regard. On a rare occasion they assail an unprofitable book, but even this is often but a bit of practice. They swish a bludgeon to try their hand. They only take their […]

Reader, if by chance you have the habit of writing–whether they be sermons to hurl across your pews, or sonnets in the Spring–doubtless you have moments when you sit at your desk bare of thoughts. Mother Hubbard’s cupboard when she went to seek the bone was not more empty. In such plight you chew your […]

Are you of that elect who, at certain seasons of the year–perhaps in March when there is timid promise of the spring or in the days of October when there are winds across the earth and gorgeous panic of fallen leaves–are you of that elect who, on such occasion or any occasion else, feel stirrings […]

My grandfather’s farm lay somewhere this side of the sunset, so near that its pastures barely missed the splash of color. But from the city it was a two hours’ journey by horse and phaeton. My grandfather drove. I sat next, my feet swinging clear of the lunchbox. My brother had the outside, a place […]

I have come to live this winter in New York City and by good fortune I have found rooms on a pleasant park. This park, which is but one block in extent, is so set off from the thoroughfares that it bears chiefly the traffic that is proper to the place itself. Grocery carts jog […]

When the sun set last night it was still winter. The persons who passed northward in the dusk from the city’s tumult thrust their hands deep into their pockets and walked to a sharp measure. But a change came in the night. The north wind fell off and a breeze blew up from the south. […]

Do you not confess yourself to be several years past that time of greenest youth when burnt cork holds its greatest charm? Although not fallen to a crippled state, are you not now too advanced to smudge your upper lip and stalk agreeably as a villain? Surely you can no longer frisk lightly in a […]

When it happens that a man has risen to be a member of Parliament, the Secretary of the British Navy and the President of the Royal Society, when he has become the adviser of the King and is moreover the one really bright spot in that King’s reign, it is amazing that considerably more than […]

Not long ago, having come through upon the uppers of my shoes, I wrapped the pair in a bit of newspaper and went around the corner into Sixth Avenue to find a cobbler. This is not difficult, for there are at least three cobblers to the block, all of them in basements four or five […]

In my noonday quest for food, if the day is fine, it is my habit to shun the nearer places of refreshment. I take the air and stretch myself. Like Eve’s serpent I go upright for a bit. Yet if time presses, there may be had next door a not unsavory stowage. A drinking bar […]

By some slim chance, reader, you may be the kind of person who, on a visit to a strange city, makes for a bookshop. Of course your slight temporal business may detain you in the earlier hours of the day. You sit with committees and stroke your profound chin, or you spend your talent in […]

Reader, possibly on one of your country walks you have come upon a man with his back against a hedge, tormented by a fiend in the likeness of a dog. You yourself, of course, are not a coward. You possess that cornerstone of virtue, a love for animals. If at your heels a dog sniffs […]

Runaway Studies

Story type: Essay

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In my edition of “Elia,” illustrated by Brock, whose sympathetic pen, surely, was nibbed in days contemporary with Lamb, there is a sketch of a youth reclining on a window-seat with a book fallen open on his knees. He is clad in a long plain garment folded to his heels which carries a hint of […]

The other day, without any bells or whistles, I slipped off from the thirties. I felt the same sleepiness that morning. There was no apparent shifting of the grade. I am conscious, maybe, that my agility is not what it was fifteen years ago. I do not leap across the fences. But I am not […]

I am not sure that I can draw an exact line between wit and humor. Perhaps the distinction is so subtle that only those persons can decide who have long white beards. But even an ignorant man, so long as he is clear of Bedlam, may have an opinion. I am quite positive that of […]

Although I usually enjoy a party when I have arrived, I seldom anticipate it with pleasure. I remain sour until I have hung my hat. I suspect that my disorder is general and that if any group of formal diners could be caught in preparation midway between their tub and over-shoes, they would be found […]

Not long since I paid a visit to New Haven before daylight of a winter morning. I had hoped that my sleeper from Washington might be late and I was encouraged in this by the trainman who said that the dear old thing commonly went through New Haven at breakfast time. But it was barely […]


Story type: Essay

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I dreamed last night a fearful dream and this morning even the familiar contact of the subway has been unable to shake it from me. I know of few things that are so momentarily tragical as awakening from a frightful dream. Even if you know with returning consciousness that it was a dream, it seems […]

On Going Afoot

Story type: Essay

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There is a tale that somewhere in the world there is a merry river that dances as often as it hears sweet music. The tale is not precise whether this river is neighbor to us or is a stream of the older world. “It dances at the noise of musick,” so runs the legend, “for […]

On Livelihoods

Story type: Essay

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Somewhere in his letters, I think, Stevenson pronounces street paving to be his favorite occupation. I fancy, indeed,–and I have ransacked his life,–that he never applied himself to its practice for an actual livelihood. That was not necessary. Rather, he looked on at the curb in a careless whistling mood, hands deep in the pockets […]

When our Babe he goeth walking in his garden,Around his tinkling feet the sunbeams play. It has been my fortune to pass a few days where there lives a dear little boy of less than three. My first knowledge of him every morning is the smothered scuffling through the partition as he reluctantly splashes in […]

At a party lately a worn subject came under discussion. Our host lives in a triangular stone-paved courtyard tucked off from the thoroughfare but with the rattle of the elevated railway close at hand. The building is of decent brick, three stories in height, and it exhibits to the courtyard a row of identical doorsteps. […]

My windows look across the roofs of the crowded city and my thoughts often take their suggestion from the life that is manifest at my neighbors’ windows and on these roofs. Across the way, one story lower than our own, there dwells “with his subsidiary parents” a little lad who has been ill for several […]

Many years ago there was a club of college undergraduates which called itself the Lost Digamma. The digamma, I am informed, is a letter that was lost in prehistoric times from the Greek alphabet. A prudent alphabet would have offered a reward at once and would have beaten up the bushes all about, but evidently […]

A northeaster blew up last night and this morning we are lashed by wind and rain. M—- foretold the change yesterday when we rode upon a ‘bus top at nightfall. It was then pleasant enough and to my eye all was right aloft. I am not, however, weather-wise. I must feel the first patter of […]