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Joseph C. Lincoln bibliography

posted Feb 2006

Joseph C. Lincoln, featured in Our Family Album

The Ladies Home Journal
July 1925
unnamed author, but Freeman Lincoln (Joseph's son) was then working at Ladies Home Journal, so it was indeed "Our Family Album."

    Once upon a time Joseph Crosby Lincoln yearned to be an artist — the paint-brush kind. He made a brave start, in Boston. After a few enlightening months he discovered that his pictures would sell better when yoked with several inches of verse, or the-fewer-the-better lines of merry quip designed for the funny pages. But you can not clog the remorseless processes of Evolution. Gradually the verses grew longer, and merry quips galloped right out of the Lincoln grasp. When he had corralled them again, lo and behold! —they had become short stories.

    Colors began to cake on his palette, but a flock of stubby, soft pencils managed to stay sharp, and somehow there was always a pile of yellow paper at hand, And so, through long months of indecision, as the movie titles say, things went on, which is a way things have. In the end Joseph C. Lincoln signed a quit-claim on any salon niche that had been reserved for him in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    But he drove a rather stiff New England bargain when he did it. For in exchange he acquired permanent title to Cape Cod, in perpetuo, with all wind and water, ancient and whittling skippers, manners and customs grave and gay— including summer city visitors — hereinbefore and hereinafter mentioned. We can't recall any author who has held on to property rights more relentlessly. Every now and then some literary litigant has contested the legality of this deed of gift made some thirty years ago. But their suits have usually been dropped after the first hearing. The Federal Fiction Court is a somewhat severe, if just, judicial body. It will take more than a fiction fieri facias to uncover a flaw in Joe Lincoln's title.

    Lincoln's serial, Queer Judson, begins in this issue Do we hear a ripple of pleasant expectation among The Family? We thought so. Yes, it is Lincoln at his best. No, you will not be disappointed. Yes, it is another with a Cape Cod setting.

    "What about Cape Cod — anyway?" we asked him after we had read the first chapters. "We have to answer a lot of questions about it — and you."

    And here is Joe Lincoln's reply:

    "I use Cape Cod and its people not because I consider all the humor and drama in the world is concentrated on a fifty-mile stretch of sandy soil. I realize fully that these things may be found in almost any locality where human beings live. But I do feel that they may be found on Cape Cod as readily as anywhere else. And I know the people and the country as I could never know any other people or any other country. I write my story, therefore, which might be told with equal plausibility of Maine, Ohio or California, with Cape Cod as a background. Because of my intimate knowledge of it, I feel that I can paint an accurate picture, impossible if I selected the Maine or California locale.

    "Almost all of my stories are of a cheerful nature — that is, they have happy endings. There are many who believe that the story with the happy ending has no realism, and, therefore, is not art. They consider art in literature to consist of a picture of suffering and distress. I believe life contains just as much happiness as unhappiness and that there is just as much realism in portraying the former as the latter. I might possibly be able to write a story with wholly gloomy situations and misadventures. But I wouldn't like to try it. I would much rather try to make people cheerful, and keep myself cheerful at the same time.

    "I like a story for the story's sake. For this reason I never tire of stories by Stevenson, Mark Twain and Booth Tarkington. They give me tales with characters I can like, or dislike, in the old-fashioned way. I realize — no one can help realizing — the literary craftsmanship in a book like Lord Jim. It is a wonderful piece of character mosaic, and yet in reading it I am always conscious of the literary work. I say to myself "This is marvelous; see how the author is picking his hero to pieces, thought by thought, motive by motive.' And, being conscious of the writer, I do not lose myself in the story. This is not offered as a criticism. Certainly I should not presume to criticize Conrad. It is rather a confession of something lacking in me. Perhaps, as a few of my realistically inclined friends tell me, it is a childish love of romance on my part.

    "Whether it is or not, I can't help it, and this sort of thing shows in my own stories. It would be difficult for me to write a long story where all ends dismally, or where mental processes of the main characters are painstakingly vivisected for the benefit of the reader. It is fair to presume that in the majority of my books hereafter the heroine and hero will be reunited, virtue rewarded and vice punished — as has happened in most of those for which I am already responsible.

    "I shall try to make my characters normal people or at least what I consider normal people to be. A specialist in nervous diseases might find interest in a morbid lot of disagreeable individuals, married or unmarried, quarreling through the labyrinths of sex or divorce entanglements, I truly doubt whether the healthy man or woman cares for such problems, and I write upon the supposition that he or she does not."

Thanks to Richard Curry for finding and transcribing this.