Why has not some artist with pen or pencil made use of the many models to be found in Memorial Hall at certain hours of the day?
It must have struck many a man with a taste for the study of human eccentricities that here in our midst was a fecund source for the most varied work.
The artist is given a choice even of races. There is the Caucasian in multitudinous variety, the African at his chosen post-slavic occupation, and, in smaller numbers, the Mongolian, and besides many of the intermediate hybrid types.
And what better opportunity could be desired than the opportunity afforded by the rest and quiet of feeding time.
The hunter in Africa hides himself by some favorite pool, and is sure to have at certain hours of the day a variety of animals to choose from for his game-bag.
The trapper, in the Western wilds of this country sets his trap in the vicinity of some well known feeding-ground and relies upon the axiom, that "Nature abhors a vacuum," to secure him a breakfast.
Birds of beautiful plumage with noisy clatter, it is said, hover about these feeding-grounds and find their food in the remnants of the feast of the larger and fiercer animals.
Birds of prey sit aloft and watch with eager eyes the appearance of the sportsman that they may pursue their nefarious practices upon the carcasses left as useless by the nobler huntsman.
And just as these animals are taken advantage of most easily at feeding-time, so may man be most easily seen and studied, when, forgetting his occupations, his loves and hates, he assembles at the hour when mind and body crave repose, and proceeds, in various and unstudied ways, to replenish exhausted resources, mental or physical. Pliny says, somewhere, of the Greeks, that it is their distinctive quality to hide nothing, and this quality, it is thought, is what gave the Greeks that "grand simplicity," which makes them, for all time, masters in the realm of art.
And again, if, as Epicurus says : The origin and root of all good is in the pleasure of eating, we may not only get a natural portrait but a portrait of man at his best, i. e., when happiest.
This last fact may serve also as an excuse for the artist, for, in so far as the sketches are inaccurate or faulty, the enjoyment of the food must have been slight, owing either to the indisposition of the eaters or the uncongeniality of the food.
And now where shall we begin! What shall we hold up as a prize from the literary game-bag as first worthy of notice! Let general peculiarities be given the first place.
What a number of very young men, in very correct costumes, one sees, who wear a studied look of painful indifference.
The languid walk from door to table the lustre-lacking eye, the half-closed mouth, the colorless cheek, the indifferent greeting with a sideward duck of the head, are undoubtedly considered the accurate external indications of a mind and body which have probed life's complexity, a mind which has said : "Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas;" a body which has answered : "Very true, it is 'the thing' to live and move and have our being, however, we must put up with it."
And it is best that they should live. How should we know what the last thing in neck-wear was if that blank-faced young man, X -, did not consider it his duty to keep the run of the proper things to support his chin, and serve as a walking show-case to his less ambitious neighbors.