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The Bubble, Reputation
by [?]

A great dramatist is authority for the statement that–

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.

That is no doubt in a measure true; yet it would be grossly unfair to blame personally certain great ones of the past for the evil that has lived after them and borne their names. For instance, it may be doubted whether Louis XIV of France was all that he should have been. His private life would hardly have escaped censure in Upper Montclair, N. J., or West Newton, Mass., and his public acts were not always calculated to promote social justice and universal brotherhood. But to blame him for all the gilt furniture which has ever since stood around the walls of hotel ballrooms and borne his name is a libel even on that lax and luxurious monarch. Yet such is his fate. You who are familiar with history, I who know next to nothing about it, are alike in this–when we hear the words Louis XIV we do not think of a great monarch with a powdered wig and a powdered mistress, of magnificent fountains and courtiers and ladies dancing the gavotte, of a brilliant court and striking epoch. Not at all. We think, both of us, of a gilt chair with a brocaded seat (slightly worn), and maybe a sofa to match. If you say that you don’t, I must politely but firmly–well, differ with you.

Alas! poor Louis XIV was not the only worthy (or unworthy) of the past who has come down to the present, not as a personality but as a piece of furniture, a dog, a boot, or some other equally ignominious thing. Speaking of furniture, there’s the Morris chair. The man who made the Morris chair was a great and good man–not because he made the Morris chair, but in spite of it! He composed haunting poems, he wrote lovely prose romances of the far-off days of knights and ladyes and magic spells, such as that hight The Water of the Wondrous Isles, a right brave book mayhap you have not perused, to your exceeding great loss, for beautiful it is and fair to read and full of the mighty desire of a man for a maid. Beside all this, he printed lovely books by other writers, and designed wall-paper, and painted pictures, and thundered against the deadening effect on men of mechanical toil, and in social theories was far in advance of his age. Such a man was William Morris–known to-day to the mass of mankind for one of the most accursed articles of furniture ever devised by human ingenuity gone astray! Every day, in a million homes, men and women sit in Morris chairs (made by machinery) and read Robert W. Chambers and Florence Barclay. Such, alas, is fame!

Then there was Queen Anne–in many respects an estimable woman, though leaving much to be desired as a monarch. She had her Rooseveltian virtues, being the mother of seventeen children (none of whom lived to grow beyond infancy, to be sure); and she had what the world just now has come to regard as the monarchical vice of autocracy. In her reign science and literature flourished, though without much aid from her, and the English court buzzed with intrigue and politics. But speak the name Queen Anne aloud, and then tell me the picture you get. Is it a picture of the lady or her period? Is it a picture of Pope and Dryden sitting in a London coffee-house? No, it is not–that is, unless you are a very learned, or a very young, person. It is a picture of a horrible architectural monstrosity built about thirty or forty years ago in any American city or suburb, and bearing certain vague resemblances to a home for human beings. Whatever else Queen Anne was, she was not an architect, and she wasn’t to blame for those houses, any more than she was to blame for Pope’s “Essay on Man.” But that doesn’t count. She gets the blame, just the same. She is known forever now by those gables and that gingerbread, those shingles and stains.