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Chicago's Homer Craze

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The good work begnn by Professor A. J. Fishbladder in Chicago some years ago is being continued by others now. It will be remembered that the professor carne here and taught our best society how to behave itself. Public lecturea were delivered upon etiquette, and private instruction was given in the art of entering a drawing room, eating with a knife, usiog the handkerchief, etc. Thia was a great work, and Professor Fishbladder will always be held in grateful reinembrance by ourcommunity. Having learned not to draw their boots as soon as they enter the house, and having acquired the art of eating without their knives, our people have yearned after the enjoyinent of those higher pleasures of which these prelirninary teachings afforded a gümpse. Fishbladder was the pioneer; he set the ball to rolling, and it has been kept rolling ever since. The wool has dropped off and we are now nearer a wild, barbarous civilization. We have even ceased to regret that we used te live in trees and in leaves. We are a highly cultured people. One of our latest fads is a Honier school. Homer was a poet who lived a good vnany centuries ago. Chicago society is as particular about rts poetry as it is about its pork tenderloins. It has no use for fresh killed poetry; the poetry dished up for Chicago nn. have hung in the ice house a long, long time or itis rejected. Shakespeare and Dante were our favorites, until about six weeks ago along came somebody from the east and told us that Homer wrote poetry a thundering long time before either Shakespeare or Dante was bom. At first we didn'tbelieve it; thouglit it was a joke - didn'tsee how it could be true. But Professor Swing said it was so, and that he had known it all the time. Whatever Professor Swing says goes. Then all at once Chicago began to take up with Homer. It was hard on Shakespeare and Dante, but it couldn't be helped; it was not Chicago's fault, but it was simply their niisfortnne that they were not bom soon encragh. The demand was for Homer; it was universal, extending from the stock yards to the water tower and from the lake front to Cicero township. Even Rudyard Kipling had to make way for the gentleman from Greece. Answering this demand our eminent publishers suspended work on their railway maps and guides and set about issuing a cheap paper edition of Homer"s epics transí ated in gas meter by Professor Phlobottom, of Evanston, and adorned with a number of beautiful cuts which had been left over from their popular edition of "BelAmi." Two hundred thousand of these superb volumes have already been issued to the eager public, and the thirtieth edition is now in press. In the forum, upon the streets, in the horse cars, in the family circle - everywhere and at all times are our people to be seen poring over the immortal lucubration of the extinct genius. Responding to the Macedonian importunities of those who pine to "know more" of Homer, au ariny of professors and savants has flocked hither from the east. borne have come via slow freight, others havo walked. They are a disheveled, unkeinpt, hungry looking lot. Their suspendere, when they have any, are secured at each end by nieans of tenpenny n.-iils or second hand safety pins. They are impecunious but soholarlv. They philosophize and rhapsodize and speculate and introspect; they do not pay cash. Their eyes are ablaze with inspiration ; their bowels are filled with afflatus; their souls yearn and groan and long and pine and hunger and thirst, and their inouths overflow with polysyllabic bellowings. Chicago is the Mecca of these erudite professors. They are telling us all about Homer. We are flattered and delighted; they are making it pay. Three square ineals a day ia not to be sneezed at. Phüosophy is not filling; it does not butter flapjacks nor grill rump steaks, unless, perchance, the philosopher happens to strike sonie such soft snap as Chicago is. There are now eighty-seven Homer clubs in this city. Within a naonth the number of Browning clubs has dropped from sixty-five to eleven. The Homer boom is killing oif everything before it. We onderstand that J. W. Ellworth and the Rev. Dr. Ounsaulus have gone east to buy a first edition of the old man': book, if they can find one. Mr. Ellworth is reported to have said that he would pay $25,000 for one if necessary. Ho wants to ezhibit it in the Art society along with hia Gtatenberg Bible. At the city register's office we are told that this Homeric iufatuation is manifesting itself in the curious names now being bestowed upon infants at baptism. In Maren 40 per cent. of the male children boru in Chicago were nam -d Homer, 5 per cent. Ajax, 11 per cent. Achules, 7 per cent. Héctor, 3 per cent. Ulysses, 4 per cent. Nestor, and one infant has been named Thersites. In the inusic circle it is rurnored that Regiuald de Koven and Harry B. Smith are engaged on a coniic opera founded upon the scènes described in the Eiad. J. Raphael Fogg, president of the West Side Art association, has painted a life sized portrait of Homer, which is being exhibited in the well known meat shop of Cleaver & Co., in Müwaukee avenue, and is for sale, or will be exchanged for improved North Side real estáte. - Eugene Field in Chicago News.


Old News
Ann Arbor Register