Dutch courage and other.., p.1
Dutch Courage and Other Stories, p.1Jack London
DUTCH COURAGE AND OTHER STORIES
JACK LONDON, SAILOR]
"I've never written a line that I'd be ashamed for my young daughters toread, and I never shall write such a line!"
Thus Jack London, well along in his career. And thus almost anycollection of his adventure stories is acceptable to young readers aswell as to their elders. So, in sorting over the few manuscripts stillunpublished in book form, while most of them were written primarily forboys and girls, I do not hesitate to include as appropriate a tale suchas "Whose Business Is to Live."
Number two of the present group, "Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan," isthe first story ever written by Jack London for publication. At the ageof seventeen he had returned from his deep-water voyage in the sealingschooner _Sophie Sutherland_, and was working thirteen hours a dayfor forty dollars a month in an Oakland, California, jute mill. The_San Francisco Call_ offered a prize of twenty-five dollars for thebest written descriptive article. Jack's mother, Flora London,remembering that I had excelled in his school "compositions," urged himto enter the contest by recalling some happening of his travels. Grammarschool, years earlier, had been his sole disciplined education. But hiswide reading, worldly experience, and extraordinary powers ofobservation and correlation, enabled him to command first prize. It isnotable that the second and third awards went to students at Californiaand Stanford universities.
Jack never took the trouble to hunt up that old _San FranciscoCall_ of November 12, 1893; but when I came to write his biography,"The Book of Jack London," I unearthed the issue, and the tale appearsintact in my English edition, published in 1921. And now, gatheringmaterial for what will be the final Jack London collections, I cannotbut think that his first printed story will have unusual interest forhis readers of all ages.
The boy Jack's unexpected success in that virgin venture naturallyspurred him to further effort. It was, for one thing, the pleasantestway he had ever earned so much money, even if it lacked the element ofphysical prowess and danger that had marked those purple days with theoyster pirates, and, later, equally exciting passages with the FishPatrol. He only waited to catch up on sleep lost while hammering out"Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan," before applying himself to newfiction. That was what was the matter with it: it was sheer fiction inplace of the white-hot realism of the "true story" that had brought himdistinction. This second venture he afterward termed "gush." It waspromptly rejected by the editor of the _Call_. Lacking experiencein such matters, Jack could not know why. And it did not occur to him tosubmit his manuscript elsewhere. His fire was dampened; he gave overwriting and continued with the jute mill and innocent social diversionin company with Louis Shattuck and his friends, who had supersededJack's wilder comrades and hazards of bay- and sea-faring. This period,following the publication of "Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan," istouched upon in his book "John Barleycorn."
The next that one hears of attempts at writing is when, during histramping episode, he showed some stories to his aunt, Mrs. Everhard, inSt. Joseph, Michigan. And in the ensuing months of that year, 1894, shereceived other romances mailed at his stopping places along the eastwardroute, alone or with Kelly's Industrial Army. As yet it had not sunkinto his consciousness that his unyouthful knowledge of life in the rawwould be the means of success in literature; therefore he discoursed ofimaginary things and persons, lords and ladies, days of chivalry andwhat not--anything but out of his priceless first-hand lore. At the sametime, however, he kept a small diary which, in the days when he hadfound himself, helped in visualizing his tramp life, in "The Road."
The only out and out "juvenile" in the Jack London list prior to hisdeath is "The Cruise of the Dazzler," published in 1902. At that it is agood and authentic maritime study of its kind, and not lacking in honestthrills. "Tales of the Fish Patrol" comes next as a book for boys; butthe happenings told therein are perilous enough to interest many anolder reader.
I am often asked which of his books have made the strongest appeal toyouth. The impulse is to answer that it depends upon the particular typeof youth. As example, there lies before me a letter from a friend: "Ruth(she is eleven) has been reading every book of your husband's that shecan get hold of. She is crazy over the stories. I have bought nearly allof them, but cannot find 'The Son of the Wolf,' 'Moon Face,' and'Michael Brother of Jerry.' Will you tell me where I can order these?" Ihave not yet learned Ruth's favorites; but I smile to myself at thoughtof the re-reading she may have to do when her mind has more fullydeveloped.
The youth of every country who read Jack London naturally turn to hisadventure stories--particularly "The Call of the Wild" and its companion"White Fang," "The Sea Wolf," "The Cruise of the Snark," and my ownjournal, "The Log of the Snark," and "Our Hawaii," "Smoke Bellew Tales,""Adventure," "The Mutiny of the Elsinore," as well as "Before Adam,""The Game," "The Abysmal Brute," "The Road," "Jerry of the Islands" andits sequel "Michael Brother of Jerry." And because of the last named,the youth of many lands are enrolling in the famous Jack London Club.This was inspired by Dr. Francis H. Bowley, President of theMassachusetts S.P.C.A. The Club expects no dues. Membership is automaticthrough the mere promise to leave any playhouse during an animalperformance. The protest thereby registered is bound, in good time, todo away with the abuses that attend animal training for show purposes."Michael Brother of Jerry" was written out of Jack London's heart oflove and head of understanding of animals, aided by a years'-long studyof the conditions of which he treats. Incidentally this book containsone of the most charming bits of seafaring romance of the Southern Oceanthat he ever wrote.
During the Great War, the English speaking soldiers called freely forthe foregoing novels, dubbing them "The Jacklondons"; and there was alsolively demand for "Burning Daylight," "The Scarlet Plague," "The StarRover," "The Little Lady of the Big House," "The Valley of the Moon,"and, because of its prophetic spirit, "The Iron Heel." There waslikewise a desire for the short-story collections, such as "The God ofHis Fathers," "Children of the Frost," "The Faith of Men," "Love ofLife," "Lost Face," "When God Laughs," and later groups like "South SeaTales," "A Son of the Sun," "The Night Born," and "The House of Pride,"and a long list beside.
But for the serious minded youth of America, Great Britain, and allcountries where Jack London's work has been translated--youthconsidering life with a purpose--"Martin Eden" is the beacon. Passingyears only augment the number of messages that find their way to me fromnear and far, attesting the worth to thoughtful boys and girls, youngmen and women, of the author's own formative struggle in life andletters as partially outlined in "Martin Eden."
The present sheaf of young folk's stories were written during the latterpart of that battle for recognition, and my gathering of them insidebook covers is pursuant of his own intention at the time of his death onNovember 22, 1916.
Jack London Ranch, Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, California. August 1, 1922.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DUTCH COURAGE TYPHOON OFF THE COAST OF JAPAN THE LOST POACHER THE BANKS OF THE SACRAMENTO CHRIS FARRINGTON: ABLE SEAMAN TO REPEL BOARDERS AN ADVENTURE IN THE UPPER SEA BALD-FACE IN YEDDO BAY WHOSE BUSINESS IS TO LIVE
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