Reverting to Mr. Davis, the Tower was one of the staple subjects of conversation of his heroes and heroines when they happened to be in the Congo, or Morocco, or looking longingly from the decks of steamers in South American waters; and the shadowy personage—very probably Van Bibber—who took “A Walk up the Avenue” started on his journey from the Square. Van Bibber! Of course it was Van Bibber. It must have been Van Bibber. For when he reached Thirty-second Street a half-dozen men nodded to him in that casual manner in which men nod to a passing club-mate. The particular club has since moved some thirty blocks uptown, but to the old building you will find frequent references not only in the Davis stories, but also in the novels of Robert W. Chambers, who was in the habit of indicating it as the Patroon.
Beyond Madison Square the novelists of earlier generations seldom went. It is to the men of today, above all to those who have been specializing in what may be called the New York “novel a la mode” that we must turn in order to follow farther the trail. Here is the stately street as portrayed in Mr. Chambers’s “The Danger Mark,” or “The Firing Line,” or “The Younger Set,” or in any one of a dozen swiftly moving serials of the hour, whether the author be Mr. Rupert Hughes, or Mr. Owen Johnson, or Mr. Gouverneur Morris, or Mr. Rex Beach. The novel may serve its light purpose today and tomorrow be forgotten. But the current of human life up and down the Avenue is ever running more swiftly.
Trails of Bohemia
Trails of Bohemia—The Avenue and its Tributaries—The “Musketeers of the Brush”—The Voice of the Ghetto—South Fifth Avenue and the Old French Quarter—The Garibaldi—“A la Ville de Rouen “—The Restaurant du Grand Vatel—The New Bohemia—The Lane of the Mad Eccentrics—Sheridan Square—“The Pirate’s Den”—Absolam, a Slave—Gonfarone’s—Maria’s.
Once upon a time an over-astute critic found grave fault with the title of a novel by Mr. William Dean Howells. There was to his mind at least an unfortunate suggestion in calling a book “The Coast of Bohemia,” even though “Bohemia” was used in its figurative sense. What if the title had been derived from a line in Shakespeare? That did not alter the fact that ascribing a coast to Bohemia was like giving the Swiss Republic an Admiralty and alluding to Berne as a naval base. What would that censorious critic have to say of the association of Bohemia with stately Fifth Avenue? For to him and his kind it is not given to realize that Bohemia is a state of mind, a period of ardour and exaltation, a reminiscence of youth rather than a material region.