WALT WHITMAN

(p. 5103.

WALT WHITMAN.
AN ADDRESS
BY

ROBERTO. INGERSOLL
LIBERTY
IN

LITERATURE.

Delivered in Philadelphia, Oct. 21, 1890. Alo Funeral dress Delivered at Harleigb, Camden, N. J.,

Ad

March

30, 1892.

WITH PORTRAIT OF WHITMAN.
AUTHORIZED EDITION.

NEW YORK;

THE TRUTH SEEKER COMPANY,
28

LAFAYETTK PLACE.

Copyrighted, 1890,

BY

THE TRUTH SEEKER COMPANY.

TESTIMONIAL
TO

WALT WHITMAN.
OF
all

the placid hours in his peaceful

life,

those that Walt

Whitman spent on

the stage of

Horticultural Hall last night must have been

among

the most gratifying, says the Philadel22, 1890.

phia Press of October

To

a testi-

monial, intended to cheer his declining years,

not only in a complimentary sense, came some

eighteen hundred or more people to listen to
a tribute to the aged poet by Col. Robert G.
Ingersoll, such as
living

seldom

falls to

the lot of

man

to

hear about himself.

On

the stage sat

many admirers

of the vener-

able torch-bearer of

modern poetic thought, as

4;

LIBERTY

IIST

MTERATURE.

Colonel Ingersoli described him, young and old,

men and women.
"

There were white beards,

but none were so white as that of the author of

Leaves of Grass."

He

sat calm

and sedate

in

his easy wheeled chair, with his usual garb of

gray, with his cloudy white hair falling over
his white,

turned-down collar that must have

been three inches wide.
from the orator's
ity
;

No

burst of eloquence

lips disturbed that

equanim-

no tribute of applause moved him from his

habitual calm.

And when
said,

the lecturer,

having concluded,

"We

have met to-night to honor our-

by honoring the author of 'Leaves of " and the audience started to leave the Grass,'
selves
hall,

the

man

they had honored reached for-

ward with
"

his cane

and attracted Colonel Inger-

soll's attention.

Do

not leave yet," said Colonel Ingersoli,
to say."

"
1

Mr. Whitman has a word
This
is

what he

said,

and no more characterlips or

'

istic

thing ever

fell
;

from the poet's

flowed from his pen

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
"After
all,

5
factors

my

friends,

the

main

being the curious
presence

testimony called personal
to

and
to

face

face

meeting, I have
myself,

come here

be

among you and show

and thank you with

my

living voice for coming,

and Robert Ingersoil for speaking.

And

so

with such brief testimony of showing myself,

and such good
hail

will
.

and gratitude, I bid you

and farewell."

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

THE ADDRESS.
Let us Put Wreaths on the Brows of the Living.

I.

IN the year 1855 the American people

knew

but

little of

books.

Their

ideals,' their

models,

were English.

Young and

Pollok, Addison and

Watts were regarded as great poets. Some of the more reckless read Thomson's "Seasons"
and the poems and novels of Sir Walter
Scott.

A

few, not

quite

orthodox,

delighted in the

mechanical monotony of Pope, and the really

wicked

those lost to

all religious

shame

were

worshipers of Shakespeare.

The

really ortho-

dox Protestant, untroubled by doubts, considered

Milton the greatest poet of them

all.

Byron and Shelley were hardly respectable
to

not

be read by young persons.

It

was admitted

k

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
all

on
of

hands that Burns was a child
his

of nature

whom

mother was ashamed and proud.
free

In the blessed year aforesaid, candor,

and

sincere

speech,

were

under

the

ban.

Creeds at that time were entrenched behind
statutes,
ity,

prejudice, custom, ignorance, stupid-

Puritanism

and slavery

;

that

is

to say,

slavery of

mind and body.
it

Of course

always has been, and forever will

be, impossible for slavery, or

any kind or form

of injustice, to

produce a great poet.

There are

hundreds
side of

of verse

makers and writers on the
but they

wrong

enemies of progress

are not poets, they are not

men

of genius.

At

this time a
is

young man

he to

whom

this

testimonial
fallen the

given
of

he upon whose head have

this

more than seventy winters man, born within the sound of the sea,
snows
world a book, "Leaves of Grass."
is,

gave

to the

This book was, and
soul.

the true transcript of a

The man

is

unmasked.

No

drapery of

hypocrisy, no pretense, no fear.
as original in form as in thought.

The book was
All customs

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
were forgotten or disregarded,
all

9

rules broken

nothing

mechanical

no

imitation

sponta-

neous, running and winding

like a river, multi-

tudinous in
sea

its

thoughts as the waves of the
or measured.

nothing mathematical

In
is

everything a touch of chaos

lacking what

called form as clouds lack form, but not lack-

ing the splendor of sunrise or the glory of sunset.

It

was a marvelous collection and aggre-

gation of fragments, hints, suggestions,
ries,

memo-

and prophecies, weeds and flowers, clouds
clods,

aijd

sights

and sounds, emotions and
constellations.

passions, waves,

shadows and

His book was received by many with disdain,
with horror, with indignation and protest
the

by

few as a marvelous, almost miraculous,
to the

message

world

-

full of

thought, philos-

ophy, poetry and music.

In

the

republic

of

mediocrity genius
fills

is

dangerous.

A
is

great soul appears and

the

world with new and marvelous harmonies.
his

In

words

the old Promethean flame.

The
line.

heart of nature beats and throbs in his

10

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

The respectable prudes and pedagogues sound
the alarm, and cry, or rather screech
"
:

Is this

a book for a young person?"

A poem
as nature

true to
fills

life

as a

Greek statue

candid

these barren souls with fear.

They

forget that drapery about the perfect

was suggested by immodesty. The provincial prudes, and others
mold, pretend that love
passion
a
is

of

like

a duty rather than a

kind of self-denial

not an overof pre-

mastering

joy.

They preach the gospel
they cast

tense and pantalettes.
cerity, of truth,

In the presence of sin-

down

their eyes and

endeavor to

feel immodest*.
is

To them,

the most

beautiful thing
blush.

hypocrisy adorned with a

They have no idea
glorying in
its

of

an honest, pure passion,
intense,

strength

intoxicated

with the beautiful, giving even to inanimate
things pulse and motion, and that transfigures, ennobles, and idealizes the object of its adoration.

They do not walk the

streets of the city of

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
life

H

they explore the sewers
"

;

they stand in

the gutters and cry

Unclean
;

!"

They pretend
;

that beauty is a snare

that love is a Delilah
is

that the highway of joy

the broad road, lined

with flowers and

filled

with perfume, leading to

the city of eternal sorrow.

Since the year 1855 the American people

have developed

;

they are somewhat acquainted

with the literature of the world.

They have

witnessed the most tremendous of revolutions,
not only upon the fields of battle, but in the

world of thought.
concluded that
it is

The American

citizen has

hardly worth while being a

sovereign unless he has the right to think for
himself.

And now, from

this hight,

with the vantage-

ground of to-day, I propose to examine this book and to state, in a general way, what Walt Whitman has dne, what he has accomplished,
and the place he has won in the world
thought.
of

12

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

II.

THE EELIGION OF THE BODY.
Walt Whitman
book, where
ually
all

stood,

when he published

his

stand to-night
line

on the perpetends and
to the

moving

where

history
full

prophecy begins.

He was

of life

very tips of his fingers

brave, eager, candid,

pyous
the

with health.

He was
and

acquainted with
of

past.

He knew something
philosophy
art

song and
of

story,

of

much

the

heroic dead, of brave suffering, of the thoughts
of

men, the habits of the people

rich as well

as poor

familiar with labor, a friend of

wind

and wave, touched by love and friendshipliking the

open road, enjoying the

fields

and

paths, the crags

friend of the forest

feeling

that he
willing

was

free

neither master nor slave

that all

should know his thoughts

open as the sky, candid as nature

and he gave

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

13

his thoughts, his dreams, his conclusions, his

hopes, and his mental portrait to his fellow-

men.

Walt Whitman announced the gospel
body.

of the

He

confronted the people.

He

denied

the depravity of man.

He

insisted that love is

not a crime

;

that
;

men and women should be

proudly natural

that they need not grovel on

the earth and cover their faces for shame.

He

taught the dignity and glory of the father and

mother

;

the sacredness of maternity.

Maternity, tender and pure as the tear of
pity,

holy as suffering

the crown, the flower,

the ecstasy of love.

People had been taught from bibles and from
creeds that maternity was a kind of crime
the
;

that

woman
in

should be purified by some cerebuilt in

mony
god.

some temple

honor of some
"

This barbarism was attacked in

Leaves

of Grass."

The glory
tion
of

of simple life

was sung

;

a declarafor

independence

was

made

each

and alL

14

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
yet this appeal to

And

manhood and
It

to

womanhood was misunderstood.
nounced simply because
it

was de-

was

in

with the great trend of nature.

harmony To me, the

most obscene word
It

in our language is celibacy. for people to

was not the fashion

speak or

write their thoughts.

We

were flooded with

the literature of hypocrisy.

The

writers did

not

faithfully

describe the worlds in which
to

they lived.

They endeavored
hut in which

make a

fash-

ionable world.
tage or
palace,

They pretended

that the cot-

the

they dwelt was a
little

and they called the
their

area in which

they threw

slops

their

domain, their
of

realm, their empire.

They were ashamed

the real, of what

their

world actually was.
lies,

They imitated
and
lands.

;

that is to say, they told

these lies filled

the

literature

of

most

Walt Whitman defended the sacredness
love,

of

the purity of passion

the passion that the world with art

builds every

home and

fills

and song.

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

15

They
sion

cried out
is

"
:

He
!

is

a defender of paslives in the mire.

he

a libertine
!"

He

He

lacks spirituality

Whoever differs with
with a led multitude
multitude of taggers

the multitude, especially
that is to say, with a
will find out

from their

leaders that he has committed an unpardonable
sin.

It is a
if

crime to travel a road of your own,

especially

you put up guide-boards

for the

information of others.

Many, many centuries ago Epicurus, the greatest man of his century, and of many centuries before

and
;

after, said
is

"
:

Happiness

is

the

only good

happiness

the supreme end." generous,

This
noble

man was

temperate, frugal,
all

and yet through

these years he has

been denounced by the hypocrites of the world
as a
It

mere eater and drinker.

was said that Whitman had exaggerated the importance of love that he had made too

much

of this passion.

Lat me say that no poet
has had imagi-

not excepting Shakespeare

nation enough to exaggerate the importance of

16

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
love

human
and
all

a passion that contains

all

hights

depths

ample as space, with a sky in

which
within

glitter all constellations,
it

and that has

all

storms,

all

lightnings, all wrecks

and

ruins, all griefs, all sorrows, all shadows,
all

and

the joy and sunshine of which the heart

and brain are capable.

No

writer must be measured by a wr ord or

paragraph.

He
all.

is to

be measured by his work
of

by the tendency, not
tendency of

one

line,

but by the

Which way does
it

the great stream tend?

Is

for

good or

evil ?

Are the motives high and
?

noble, or low and infamous

"We cannot measure Shakespeare by a few
lines, neither

can we measure the Bible by a

" few chapters, nor " Leaves of Grass by a few

paragraphs.

In each there are many things
:

that I neither approve nor believe

but in

all

books you
foolishness,

will find a of

mingling of wisdom and
mistakes
in

prophecies and

other words,

be defects.

among the The mine

excellencies there will
is

not

all

gold, or all

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
silver,

17

or

all

diamonds

there are baser metals.

The

trees of the forest are not all of one size.
of

On some

the highest there are dead and

useless limbs, and there

neath the bushes, weeds,

may be growing beand now and then a
books of the

poisonous vine.
If

I were

to

edit the

great

world, I might leave out
leave out the best.
of

some

lines

and I might

I have no right to

make

my

brain a sieve and say that only that
to the rest of

which passes through belongs
the

human

race.

I claim the right to choose.
all.

I give that right to

Walt Whitman had the courage
his

to express

thought
here
let

the

candor
say
it

to

tell

the joy

truth.

And

me

gives
to look

me

a kind

of perfect satisfaction

above the big-

oted bats, the satisfied owls and wrens and
chickadees, and see the great eagle poised, circling higher

and higher, unconscious
it

of their

existence.

And

gives

me

joy, a

kind of per-

fect satisfaction, to

look above the petty pas-

sions and jealousies of small and respectable

18

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

above the considerations of place and power and reputation, and see a brave, intrepid
people

man.
It

must be remembered that the American

people had separated from the Old World
that

we had declared not only the independ-

ence of colonies, but the independence of the
individual.

We

had done more

we had

de-

clared that the state could no longer be ruled

by the Church, and that the Church could not be ruled by the state, and that the individual
could not be ruled by the Church.
larations were
in

These dec-

danger of being forgotten.

We

needed a new voice, sonorous, loud

and

clear, a

new poet

for

America

for the

new epoch,

somebody new day.

to chant

the morning song of the

The great man who
his mind, fascinates

gives a true transcript of
instructs.

and

Most writers
to

suppress individuality.
the public.

They wish

please

They

flatter the

stupid and pander

to the prejudice of their readers.

They

write

for the

market

making books as other me-

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
chanics

19

make

shoes.

They have no message
they are simply the slaves
are

they bear no torch
of customers.

The books they manufacture
;"

handled by " the trade
harmless.

they are regarded as
object;

The

pulpit

does not

the

young person can read the monotonous pages
without a blush
or a thought.

On

the

title

pages of these books you will find the imprint
of

the great publishers

on the rest of the

pages, nothing.

These books might be pre-

scribed for insomnia.

20

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

III.

Men

of talent,

men

of business, touch life

upon few sides. They travel but the beaten The creative spirit is not in them. They path.
regard with suspicion a poet

who touches

life

on every

side.

They have

little

confidence in

that divine tiling called sympathy, and they do

not and cannot understand the
into the hopes, the aims,
others.

man who

enters
of all

and the feelings

In
little

all

genius there

is
;

the touch of chaos

a

of

the vagabond

and

the

successful
sells,

tradesman, the

man who buys and

or

manages a bank, does not care

to deal with a

person who has only poems for collaterals
they have a
little

fear of such people,

and

re-

gard them as the awkward countryman does a
sleight-of-hand performer.

In every age in which books have been pro-

TESTIMOX AL TO WALT WHITMAN.

21

cluced the governing class, the respectable, have

been opposed

to the

works

of real genius.

If

what are known as the best people could have had their way, if the pulpit had been consulted
the provincial moralists the works of Shake-

speare would have been suppressed.

Not

a line

would have reached our time.

And

the same

may be
If the

said of every dramatist of his age.

Scotch Kirk could have decided, noth-

ing would have been
If the

known

of

Robert Burns.

good people, the orthodox, could have
say, not

had their

one line of Voltaire would

now be known.

All the plates of the French

Encyclopedia would have been destroyed with
the thousands that were destroyed.

Nothing

would have been known
Diderot, or

of

D'Alembert, Grimm,
Titans

any

of

the

who warred

against the thrones and altars and laid the

foundation of modern literature not only, but

what
tion.

is of far

greater moment, universal educa-

It is not too

much

to say that every

book

now held

in high esteem

would have been de-

22
stroyed,
if

LIBERTY ix LITERATURE.
those in authority could have had

their will.

Every book

of

modern

times, that
intel-

has a real value, that has enlarged the

lectual horizon of mankind, that has developed

the brain, that

has furnished real food for

thought, can be found in the Index Expurgatorius of the Papacy,

and nearly every one has

been commended

to the fi^ee

minds

of

men by

the denunciations of Protestants.
If the

guardians of society, the protectors of

"young persons," could have had their way, we should have known nothing of Byron or Shelley. The voices that thrill the world
would now be
silent.

If

authority could have

had

its

way, the world would have been as

ignorant

now

as

it

was when our ancestors
their

lived in holes or

hung from dead limbs by

prehensile

tails.

But we are not forced
If

to

go very

far back.
first

Shakespeare had been published for the

time now, those divine plays

greater than con-

tinents and seas, greater even than the constellations of the midnight sky

would be excluded

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

23

from the mails by the decision of the present
enlightened postmaster-general.

The poets have always
better than the real world.

lived

in

an ideal

world, and that ideal world has always been far

As a consequence,
the enthusiasm of

they have forever roused, not simply the imagination,

but the energies
race.

the

human

The great poets have been on the
oppressed
of

side of the

the

downtrodden.

They have

suffered with the imprisoned and the enslaved,

and whenever and wherever man has suffered
for

the

right,

wherever the

hero has

been

stricken

down

whether on

field or scaffold

some man

of genius has

walked by his

side,

and some poet has given form and expression,
not simply to his deeds, but to his aspirations.

From

the Greek and

Roman world we
The
and
the orators

still

hear the voices of a few.
losophers,
speak.

poets, the phistill

the

artists

Countless millions have been covered
of

by the waves

oblivion,

but the few

who

uttered the elemental truths,

who had sym-

24

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

pathy for the whole human race, and who were
great enough to prophesy a grander day, are as
alive to-night as

when they

roused, by their

bodily presence, by their living voices, by their

works
men.

of

art,

the enthusiasm of their fellow

Think
of wealth

of the respectable people, of the

men
manto

and position, those who dwelt

in

sions, children of success,

who went down

the grave voiceless, and whose

names we do not

know.
less

Think

of the vast multitudes, the end-

processions, that entered the caverns of

eternal night

leaving no thought
!

no truth as

a legacy to mankind

The great poets have sympathized with the
people.

They have uttered
cry.

in

all

ages the

human

Unbought by

gold,

unawed by

power, they have lifted high the torch that
illuminates the world.

TKSTIMONIAL TO WALT WHtTMAN.

25

IV.
Walt Whitman
is in

the highest sense a be-

liever in democracy.

He knows

that there

is

but one excuse for government
tion of liberty
;

the preserva-

to the

end that man may be
is

happy.
for

He knows

that there

but one excuse
the

any

institution, secular
;

and religious
is

preservation of liberty

and that there

but

one excuse for schools, for universal education,
for the ascertainment of facts, namely, the pres-

He resents the arrogance and cruelty of power. He has sworn never to be tyrant or slave. He has solemnly declared
ervation of liber ty.
I speak the pass-word

:

primeval, I give the sign of democracy,
all

'

\

By God!

I will

accept nothing which

cannot have their

counterpart of on the same terms.

This one declaration covers the entire ground.
It is a declaration of independence,

and

it

is

26

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

also a declaration of justice, that is to say, a

declaration of the independence of the individual,

and a declaration that

all

shall

be

free.
:

The man who has
I

this spirit can truthfully say
hat to nothing

have taken

off ray

known

or

unknown.

I

am

for those that

have never been master'd.

There

is

in

Whitman what he

calls

"

The

boundless impatience of restraint"

together

with that sense of justice which compelled him
to say,

"Neither a servant nor a master
wise enough to

am

I."

He was
self

know

that giving

others the same rights that he claims for him-

harm him, and he was great " As if it were not indispensaenough to say ble to my own rights that others possess the
could not
:

same."

He

felt

as all should feel, that the liberty of

no man

is safe
is in

unless the liberty of each
little of

is safe.

There

our country a

the old ser-

vile spirit, a little of the

to others.

bowing and cringing Many Americans do not understand

that the officers of the government are simply

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
the servants of the people.

27
so de-

Nothing

is

moralizing as the worship of place.

Whitman

has reminded the people of this country that
they are supreme, and he has said to them
The President
is
:

there in the

White House

for you,

it

is

not

you who

are here for him,

The

Secretaries act in their bureaus for you,

not you here for

them.
Doctrines, politics

and

civilization

exurge from you,

Sculpture and monuments and any thing inscribed anywhere
are tallied in you.

He

describes the ideal American citizen

the

one who
Says
indifferently

and

alike

u

How

are you, friend ?" to

the

President at his levee,

And he

says "Go.>d-day,

my

brother," to

Cudge that hoes

in

the sugar- field.

Long ago, when the politicians were wrong, when the judges were subservient, when the
pulpit was a coward, Walt

Whitman shouted

:

Man
The

shall not hold property in
least develop'd

man.
is

pors

>n

on earth

just as

important and
per-

sacred to himself or herself as the most develop'd

son

is

to himself or herself.

28

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
This
is

the very soul of true democracy.
is

Beauty

not

all

there
It

is of
is

poetry.

It

must

contain the truth.

not simply an oak,

rude and grand, neither
is

is it

simply a

vine.

It

both.

Around the oak

of truth runs the vine

of beauty.

Walt Whitman
and
is

utters the elemental truths

the poet of democracy.

He

is

also the

poet of individuality.

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

29

v

i

INDIVIDUALITY.
In order to protect the liberties of a nation,

we must
is

protect the individual.

A

democracy

a nation of free individuals.

The individuals The
na-

are not to be sacrificed to the nation.
tion exists only for the

purpose of guarding

and protecting the individuality of men and

women.
"

Walt Whitman

has

told

us that

:

The whole theory

of the universe is directed

unerringly to one single individual

namely

to

You."

And he has
city
is

also told us
is

that the greatest
"

the greatest nation

where the

citizen

always the head and ideal."

And
A
If

that
is

great city
it

that

which has the greatest men and women,
huta
it

be a few ragged
the whole world,

13

still

the

greatest

city in

30

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

By

this test

maybe
is

the greatest city on the

continent to-night

Camden.
:

This poet has asked of us this question
What do you suppose
free will

satisfy
?

the

soul,

except

to

walk

and

own no

superior

The man who asks

this question has left

no

impress of his lips in the dust, and has no dirt

upon

his knees.

He was
The

great enough to say

:

soul has that

measureless pride which revolts from every
its

lesson

but

own.

He

carries
:

the idea of individuality to

its

utmost hight
What do you

suppose I would intimate

to
is

you

in

a

hu'n^

dred ways, but that

man

or

woman

as good as

God?

And

that there

is

no God any more divine than Yourself?

Glorying in individuality, in the freedom of
the soul, he cries out
to struggle against great
:

odds, to meet enemies undaunted!

To be

entirely

alone
1

with

them,

to

find

how much one

can stand

To look

strife,

torture,

prison, popular odium, face

to face

I

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
To mount
with
tho
perf(

31

scaffold,
i-t

to

advance to the muzzles of guns
I

nonchalance

To be indeed a God!

And

again

;

the joy of a manly self-hood

1

To be

servile

to

none, to defer

to

none,

not to any tyrant

known
To walk with

or

unknown,
step springy and elastic,

erect carriage, a

To

look with calm gaze or with a flashing eye,
full

To speak with To

and sonorous voice out of a broad
all

chest,

confront with your personality

the other personalities of

the earth.

Walt Whitman
is

is willing to

stand alone.
:

He

sufficient
I

unto himself, and he says
I

Henceforth

ask not good-fortune,

myself

am

good-fortune.

Strong and content

I travel

the open road.

He

is

one of
in

Those that look carelessly
ernors, as to say

the faces of Presidents and Govare

"Who

you?"

And
to say
:

not only
"

this,

but he has the courage
is

Nothing, not God,
self."

greater to one

than one's

32

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

Walt Whitman

is

the poet of Individuality

the defender of the rights of each for the

sake of
as

all

and his sympathies are as wide

the world.
race.

He

is

the

defender

of

the

whole

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

33

VI.

HUMANITY.
The great poet
nitely sympathetic
is

intensely

human

infi-

entering into the joys and

griefs of others, bearing their burdens,

knowis

ing their sorrows.

Brain without heart
act

not
the

much

;

they must

together.

When

respectable people of the North, the rich, the
successful, were willing to carry out the
gitive
I

Fu-

Slave law, Walt
I

Whitman

said

:

am

the hounded slave,

wince at the bite of the dogs,

Hell

and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the

marksmen,
I clutch

the

rails of

the fence,
skin,

my

gore dribs, thinn'd with

the ooze of
I
fall

my

on the weeds and stones,
haul close,
the

The

riders spur their unwilling horses,

Taunt

my

dizzy ears, and

beat

me

violently over

head

with whip-stocks.

34

LIBERTY IX LITERATURE.
my
changes of garments,
lie

Agonies are one of
I

do not ask the

wounded person -how
. .

feels,

I

myself

become the wounded person.
I

.

...
feel

see myself in prison shaped like another man,

And
For

the dull uninterrnitted pain.

me

the keepers of

convicts shoulder their

carbines

and

keep watch,
It is I let

out in the morning and barr'd at night

Not a mutineer walks handcuffd
to

to jail

but I

am

handcuff'd

him and walk by

his side.

Judge not as the judge judges, but as the sun
helpless
thing.

falling

upon a

Of the very worst he had the
*ness to say

infinite tender-

"
:

Not

until the

sun excludes you

will

I

exclude you."
this

In
lands,
life
;

age

of

greed when

houses

and

and stocks and bonds, outrank human
is

when gold

more

of value

than blood,
all
:

these

words should be read by
the psalm sings instead of the singer,

When When

the script preaches instead of the preacher,

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
When

35

the pulpit descends and goes instead of the carver that

carved the supporting desk.

When

I

can

touch the body of books by night or
again,

day,

and

when they touch my body back

When

a university course convinces like a slumbering

woman

and child convince,

When

the minted gold

in

the vault smiles like the night-

watchman's daughter,

When

warrantee deeds loafe
friendly companions,

.

in

chairs opposite

and are

my

1 intend

to

reach them

my

hand, and

make

as

much

of them

as I do of

men and women

like you.

36

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

VII.
The poet
too, deals in
is

is

also a painter, a sculptor
color.

lie,

form and

of

necessity

The great poet a great artist. With a few
filling

words he creates pictures,
with living
feel

his

canvas

men and women

with those

who

and speak.

Have you ever read

the ac-

count of the stage-driver's funeral?
read
it
:

Let

me

Cold dash

of waves at the ferry-wharf, posh and ice in the

river, half-frozen

mud

in the streets,

A

gray discouraged sky overhead, the

short last daylight of

December,

A

hearse and stages, the funeral of an old Broadway stagedriver,

the cortege mostly drivers.

Steady the trot

to the cemetery,

duly rattles the death-bell,
is

The gate

is

pass'd, the new-dug grave

halted

at,

the

liv-

ing alight, the hearse uncloses,

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
Tho
coffin
is

37
is laid

pass'd out, lowcr'd and settled, the
coffin,
is

whip
in,

on the

the earth
flatted

is

swiftly shovel'd

The mound above

with the spades
it

silence,

A
He

minute
is

no one moves or speaks

is

done,

decently put

away

is

there any thing

more?
bad-

He was

a good fellow, frec-mouth'd, quick-temper'd, not

looking,

Ready with

life

or death for a friend, fond of

women, gambled,

ate hearty, drank heart)-,

Had known what
toward the
Died,

it

was

to

be

flush,

grew

low-spirited
contribution,

lasr,

sicken'd,

was helped by a
his

aged forty-one years

and that was

funeral.

Let me read you another description
of a

one

woman

:

Behold a woman!

She looks out from her quaker

cap,

her face

is

clearer

and

more boautiful than the sky.

She

sits

in

an

armchair under

the shaded

porch

of the

farmhouse,

The sun

just

shines on her old white head.

Her ample gown
Her grandsons
spun
it

is

of cream-hued linen,
the
flax,

raised

and

her

grand-daughters

with

tlie

distaff

and the wheel.

38

LIBERTY IX LITERATURE.
of the
earth,

The melodious character
The
finish

beyond
to

which philosophy
go,

cannot go

and

does

not wish

The

justified

mother of men.

Would you hear
Would you
stars ?

of

an old-time sea fight
the light of
the

?

learn

who won by

moon and

List to the yarn, as
it

my

grandmother's father the sailor told

to me.

Our

foe

was no skulk

in his ship I

tell

you, (said
is

he,)

His was the surly
or
truer,

English phick,

and there
will

no tougher
;

and never was, and never

be

Along the lower'd eve he came horribly raking

us.

We
My

closed

with

him.

the

yards

entangled,

the

cannon

touched,

captain lash'd fast with

his

owm

hands.

We
On

had

receiv'd

some

eighteen

pound

shots

under

the

water,

our

lower-guu-deck
killing all

two large pieces had burst

at

the

first fire,

around and blowing up overhead.

Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark,

Ten

o'clock at night, the Full
gain,

moon

well up, our leaks on the
reported,

and

live foot of water

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
The master-at-arms

39

loosing the prisoners confined in the after-

hold to give them a chance for themselves.

The

transit

to

and from the magazine

is

now

stopt

by the

sentinels,

They see so many strange
trust

faces they do not

know whom

to

Our

frigate

takes
if

fire,

The other usks
If our

we demand quarter?
struck and the
fighting

colors are

done?

Now

I

laugh content, for
tain,

I

hear the voice of

my

little

cap-

"We

have not

struck,''

he composedly
fighting."

cries,

"we

have just

begun our part of the
Only three guns are
in

use,

One

is

directed

by the captain

himself against the enemy's

mainmast,

Two

well serv'd with grape and canister silence his

musketry

and

clear his decks.

The

tops alone second the

fire

of this

little

battery, especially

the main-top,

They hold out bravely during the whole
Not a moment's
cease,
fast

of the action.

The

leaks gain

on the pumps, the

fire

eat*

toward the

powder-magazine.

40
One of
the

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
pumps has been shot away,
are sinking.
little
it

is

generally

thought we
Serene stands the

captain,
is

He

is

not hurried, his voice
to

neither high nor low,

His eyes give more light

us than our battle-lanterns.

Toward twelve there
render to us.

in

the beams of the

moon they

sur-

Stretch'd

and

still lies

the midnight,

Two
Our

great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness,
vessel

riddled and

slowly sinking, preparations to pass
conquer'd,
coldly

to the one

we have
the

The

captain

on

quarter-deck

giving

his

orders

through a countenance white as a sheet,

Near by the corpse of the child

that serv'd in the cabin,

The dead

face of

an old

salt

with long white hair and care-

fully curl'd whiskers,

The flames

spite of all

that can

be done flickering

aloft

and

below,

The husky
duty,

voices

of

the two or three officers yet

fit

for

Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of
flesh

upon the masts and

spars,

Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe
of waves,

Black

and
scent,

impassive guns,

litter

of powder-parcels,

strong

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

41

A

few large stars overhead,

silent

and mournful shining,
of sedgy grass and
fields

Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells

by the shore, death-messages
vivors,

given

m

charge

to sur-

The

hiss

of the

surgeon's knife,

the

gnawing teeth of

his

saw,

Wheeze, cluck, swash of

falling blood, short

wild scream, and

long, dull, tapering groan.

Some people
that
it

say that this

is

not poetry

lacks measure and rhyme.

42

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

VIJL

WHAT
The whole world
commerce
exchange
sounds,

IS
is

POETRY?
invisible

engaged in the

of thought. of

That

is

to say, in t]^

thoughts

colors

and

forms.

by words, symbols, The motions of

the silent, invisible world, where feeling glows

and thought flames
of

that contains all

seeds

action

are

made known only by sounds
and
is

and

colors, forms, objects, relations, uses

qualities

so that

the visible universe
of
is

a

dictionary,

an

aggregation

symbols,

by

which and through which
invisible

carried on the

commerce

of thought.

Each

object

is

capable of
in

many meanings,
to

or of being used

many ways
the brain.

convey ideas or states of

feeling or of facts that take place in the world
of

The

greatest poet

is

the one

who

selects

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
the best, the most

43

appropriate

symbols to

convey the
thoughts.

best,

the highest, the sublimest
of his

Each man occupies a world
is

own.
is

He

the only citizen of his world.

He

subject and sovereign, and the best he can
is

do
in

to give the facts concerning the world

which

he

lives

to

the citizens of

other

worlds.

No two
of all

of

these

worlds

are alike.

They

are

kinds, from the

flat,

barren,

and uninteresting
eled and worthless

from the small and shrivto those

whose

rivers

and

mountains and seas and constellations

belittle

and cheapen the
ants of

visible world.

The

inhabit-

these

marvelous worlds

have been

the singers of songs, utterers of great speech
the creators of art.

And

here lies the difference between creimitators
:

ators and

the

creator tells what

passes in his
not.

own world

the imitator does

The

imitator abdicates, and

by the

fact
like

of imitation falls

upon

his knees.
talk,

He

is

one who, hearing a traveler
others that he

pretends to

has traveled.

44

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

In

nearly

all

lainls,

the

poet

has

been

privileged

for the sake of beauty, they have

allowed him to speak, and for
he has told

that

reason

the story of the oppressed, and

has excited the indignation of

honest

men
all

and even the pity
others, has
of

of

tyrants.

He, above

added

to the

intellectual

beauty

the world.

He
and

has been the true creator has
left

of

language,

his

impress

on

mankind.

What
poetry

I
it

have
is

said
of

is

not

only

true All

of

true

all

speech.

are
as

compelled
dictionary.

to

use

the

visible

world

a

Words have been invented and
invented
for the reason that

are

being

new

powers are found in the old symbols, new The qualities, relations, uses and meanings.
growth
of the
of

language

is

necessary on account

development of the human mind.

The

savage needs but few symbols

the civilized

many The
must

the poet most of
old

all.

idea was, however, that the a

poet

be

rhymer.

Before

printing

was

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

45
the

known,

it

was said

:

the

rhyme
of

assists
exists.

memory.
Is

That excuse no longer

rhyme a necessary part
judgment, rhyme
is is

poetry?
to

In
ex\

my

a hindrance

pression.

The rhymer
introduce

compelled to wander

from his subject

to say more or less than he

means

to

irrelevant matter

that

interferes

continually with

the dramatic ac-

tion

and

is

a perpetual obstruction to sincere

utterance.

All

poems,

of

necessity,

must be
is

short.

The highly and purely The

poetic

the sudden

bursting into blossom of a great and tender
thought.

planting

of

the

seed,

the

growth, the

bud and

flower must be rapid.

The spring must be quick and warm
soil

the

perfect, the sunshine

and rain enough

everything should tend to hasten, nothing to
delay.
tion

In poetry, as in wit, the crystalliza-

must be sudden.
are rhythmical.

The greatest poems
rhyme
is

While

a hindrance, rhythm the poetic.

seems to be
a,

the comrade of

Khythm has

46

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

natural foundation.
rises
relax,

Under emotion, the blood
muscles
the
fall

and and

falls,

the

contract

and
is

this

action of

blood
of

as

rhythmical as the rise and

the

sea.

In

the

highest

form
be
in

of

expression,

the
this

thought

should

harmony with

natural ebb and flow.

The highest
that an
its

poetic truth

is

expressed in

rhythmical form.

I have sometimes thought
its

own words, chooses own garments, and that when the thought
idea selects

has possession, absolutely, of the speaker or
writer,

he unconsciously allows the thought

to clothe itself.

The

great

poetry

of

the

world

keeps

time with the winds and the waves.
I

do not
at

accent

by rhythm a accurately measured
is

mean

recurring
intervals.

Perfect time

the

death of music.

There

should always be room for eager haste and
delicious
delay,
in

and

whatever change there
time,

may be
itself

the

rhythm or

the action

should suggest

perfect freedom.

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

47
believe

A

word

more

about

rhythm.

I

that certain feelings and passions

joy, grief,

emulation,
ular

revenge,
in

produce
the

certain

molecevery

movements
is

brain

that

thought

accompanied

by certain physical
that
certain

phenomena.

Now
in

it

may be
the

sounds, colors, and forms produce the same

molecular action

brain

that

accom-

panies certain feelings, and that these sounds,
colors and forms produce
first,

the molecular

movements and these
the
feelings,

in their turn reproduce

emotions
producing

and
the

states

of

mind
like

capable

of

same
that

or

molecular
call

movements.

So

what

we

heroic music, produces the same molecin

ular action
ical

the

brain

the

same

physreal
call

changes
of

that are produced
;

by the

feeling

heroism

that the sounds

we

plaintive

produce the same molecular movethe

ment

in

brain that

grief,

or the twi-

light of grief, actually produces.

There may

be a rhythmical molecular movement belonging to each state of mind, that accompanies

48

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

each
that

thought
music, or
the

or

passion,

and
or

it

may

be
pro-

painting,
state
of

sculpture,

duces
that

same

mind
or

or

feeling

produces

the

music

painting

or

sculpture,
lar

by

producing

the same

molecu-

movements.
spirit,

All arts are born of the same

and

express
that
is

like

thoughts

in

different
like

ways
states
of

to

say,

they produce

mind and
the

feeling.

The

sculptor, the painter,

composer, the poet, the orator, work to

the same end, with different materials.

The
color

painter

expresses
;

through

form

and

and relation
relation.

the sculptor through form and
also

The poet
give

paints
relation

and chisels

his

words

form,

and

color.

His statues and his paintings do not crumble,

neither do they fade, nor
as

will

they as

long

language

endures.

The

composer

touches the passions, produces the very states
of

feeling

produced

by

the

painter

and
these

sculptor, the

poet and orator.

In

all

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
there must be

49
pro-

rhythm
to
say,

that

is to

say,

portion

that is

harmony, melody.
is

So that the greatest poet
idealizes

the one

who

the

common, who gives new meansymbols,
life.

ings to old

who

transfigures

the

ordinary things of
the

He must
and with

deal with

hopes and

fears,

the experi-

ences of the people.

The
fect

poetic is not the exceptional.
is like

A

per-

poem
must

a perfect day.
of

It

has the
ease.
of

undefinable
It

charm

naturalness and
to

not

appear

be

the

result

great labor.
that

We

feel, in

spite of

ourselves,

man does

best

that

which

he

does

easiest.

The great poet

is

the instrumentality, not

always of his time,
time,

but of the best of his

and he must be in unison and accord
his
race.
is.

with the ideals of

The sublimer
of

he

is,

the

simpler he

The thoughts
in

the people must
of feeling

be clad

the

garments
apt,

the

words must be known,

50
familiar.

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

The hight must be

in the thought,

in the sympathy.

In the olden time they used to have

May
was
old
their

day

parties,

and

the

prettiest

child

crowned Queen of
blacksmith
little

May.
wife
in

Imagine
looking

an
at

and

his

daughter

clad

white

and

crowned

with roses.

looked at

They would wonder while they her, how they ever came to have
a child.
the
It
is

so beautiful

thus that
children

the

poet
ideals

clothes
of

intellectual

or

the

people.

They must not

be

gemmed and garlanded beyond
tion
of

the recogniall

their

parents.

Out from

the

flowers and

beauty

must

look the eyes of

the child they know.

We
cites

have grown
art.

tired

of

gods and god-

desses in

Milton's heavenly militia ex-

our laughter.

Light-houses have driven

sirens from the dangerous coasts.

We

have

found that we do not depend on the imagination
for

wonders

there

are

millions

of

miracles under our

feet.

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

51

Nothing can be more marvelous than the

common and everyday
phantoms
have

facts

of

life.

The

been cast aside.
for

Men and
In
the
all

women

are

enough
is

men and women.
tragedy and

their lives

all

the

comedy that they can comprehend. The painter no longer crowds his canvas
with the winged and
life

impossible

he paints

as he sees
in

it,

people as he knows them,
is

and

whom
the

he

interested.

"The Anis

gelus,"

perfection of pathos,

nothing
in

but

two

peasants

bending

their

heads

thankfulness as they hear the solemn sound
of the

distant bell
to

two peasants, who have
for

nothing

be

thankful

nothing

but

weariness and want, nothing but the crusts
that

they

soften

with
look

their tears
at

nothing.

And
feel

yet as

you

that

picture you

that they have something besides to be

thankful for

that they

have

life,

love,

and

hope

and so the distant bell makes music

in their simple hearts.

52

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

IX.
The
attitude
of

Whitman toward
Towards
creeds, he

religion

has not been understood.
of worship,

all

forms

towards

all

has main-

tained the attitude of absolute fairness.

He

does not believe that Nature has given her
last

message to man.
all

He

does not believe

that

has

been ascertained.
written

He

denies
entire

that any sect has
truth.
lieving,

down the

He

believes in progress, and, so
:

be-

he says

We

consider bibles and religions divine
are not -divine,

I

do not say they

I say they have all

grown out of you, and may grow out of

you
It is not

still,

they

who

give the

life,

it is

you who give the

life.

His

[the poet's]
things,

thoughts are the

hymns

of the praise of

In the dispute on

God and

eternity

he

is

silent

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
Have you thought
there could be but a single supreme?

53

There can be any number of supremes
vail

one does not counter-

another any more than one eyesight countervails

another.

Upon

the great questions, as to the great

problems, he feels only the serenity of a great

and well-poised
No
array of terms

soul.

can say
death.

how much

I

am

at peace about

God and about
I

hear and behold
not in the

God

in

every object, yet understand

God

least,

Nor do

I

understand
. . .

who

there can

be more wonderful than

myself.

In the faces of

men and women

I

see God, and

in

my own

face in the glass, 1
find
letters
is

from

God

dropt in

the street, and every one

sign'd by God's name.

The whole

visible

world

is

regarded by him

as a revelation, and so is the invisible world,

and with
Not

this feeling
to

he writes

:

objecting

special

revelations

considering

a curl
just

of

smoke

or a

hair

on

the

back of

my hand

as

curious as any revelation.

54

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

The creeds do not
ogies are not enough
at
best,

satisfy, the old
;

mythol-

they are too narrow

giving only

hints

and suggestions

;

and feeling this lack in that which has been
written and preached,
Magnifying and applying come

Whitman
I,

says

:

Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,

Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,
Lithographing
grandson,

Kronos,

Zeus

his

son,

and

Hercules

his

Buying
In

drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus,
portfolio placing Manito

Brahma, Buddha,
Allah on a
leaf,

my

loose,

the

crucifix

engraved,
the
hideous-faced
Mexitli,

"With

Odin

and

and

every idol

and image,
Taking

them
more.

all

for

what they are worth, and not a cent

Whitman keeps open
lectually hospitable.
to a

house.

He

is

intel-

He

extends

his

hand

new

idea.
it

He

does not accept a creed

because

is

wrinkled

and

old

and

has a

long white beard.

He knows

that hypocrisy
it

has a venerable look, and that
looks

relies

on

and masks

on stupidity

and

fear.

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
Neither does

55

he
new.

reject

or

accept

the

new

because

it

is

He

wants the truth, and

so he welcomes

all until

he knows just who

and what they

are.

56

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

X.

PHILOSOPHY.
Walt Whitman
is

a philosopher.

The more a man has thought, the more he has studied, the more he has traveled
intellectually,

the less certain

he

is.

Only

the very ignorant are perfectly satisfied that

they know.

To

the

common man

the great

problems are easy.
accounting
for

He

has

no trouble in

the

universe.

you the origin and destiny of why and the wherefore of things.
he
is

He can man and
As a

tell

the
rule,

is

a believer in

special
to

providence, and
that every-

egotistic

enough

suppose

thing that happens in the universe happens
in reference to him.

A
the

colony of red ants lived at the foot of
Alps.
It

happened one

day,

that

an

avalanche destroyed the hill; and one of the

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
ants

57
could

was

heard

to

remark

"
:

Who

have taken so much trouble to destroy our

home ?"
Walt Whitman walked by the side of the " where the fierce old mother endlessly sea
cries
for

her castaways," and endeavored to

think out, to fathom the mystery of being;

and he said
I too

:

but signify at the utmost a

little

wash'd-up

drift,

A

few sands and dead leaves

to gather,
drift.

Gather, and merge myself as part of the sanda and

Aware now

that

amid

all

that blab

whose echoes
least

recoil

upon

me
I

I

have not once had the

idea

who

or

what

am,
all

But that before

my

arrogant

poems the

real

Me

stands

yet untouch'd, untold, altogether unreach'd,

Withdrawn

far,

mocking mo with mock-congratulatory signs

and bows,

With

peals of distant ironical laughter at every
written,

word

I

have

Pointing in silence
beneath.
I perceive I
.
.

to
.

these

songs,

and then to the sand

have not

really understood

any

thing, not

a single

object,

and that no man ever can.

58

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
is

There

in our

language
one

no

profounder

poem
Drifts."

than

the

entitled

"Elemental

The
been,

effort

to

find

the
be,

origin

has

ever

and

will

forever

fruitless.

Those
life

who endeavor
semble a
thinks

to find the secret

of

re-

man
if

looking

in

the

mirror,

who
quick

that

he

only
the

could

be

enough he could grasp
sees behind the glass.

image

that

he

The
"

latest

word

of
:

this

poet

upon

this

subject is as follows

To me

this
is

life

with

all

its

realities

and functions

finally

a mystery, the real

something yet to be evolved, and the stamp

and shape and
important,

life

here
the

somehow
main,
this

giving an
to

perhaps
.

outline

something further.
everything
inside
of
else,
all

Somehow
stands

hangs over
it,

and

behind

is

facts,

and

the

concrete
life

and
anc)

material,
sense.

and the worldly
is

affairs of

That

the

purport

and

meaning

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

59

behind

all

the

other

meanings

of

LEAVES

OF GRASS."

As a matter
gin and
the

of

fact,

the questions of ori-

destiny

are

beyond
can

the
see

grasp of
a
is

human
;

mind.

We
that,

certain
indis-

distance
tinct
;

beyond

everything
is

and beyond the indistinct
In the presence of
everything
destiny,
is

the un-

seen.

these

mysteries
so
far

and

a

mystery
are
is

as

origin,

and

nature

concerned

the intelligent, honest
"
say,

man
a

compelled to

I

do not know."
few
truths like
the brain

In the great midnight
stars of

shine on forever a

and from
struggling

man come
a few

few

gleams

of

light

momentary sparks.
that

Some have contended
spirit
;

everything
is

is

others that everything

matter

;

and

again, others have maintained that

a part is
spirit

matter and a part

is

spirit;
;

some that

was
ter

first

and matter after
first

others that mat;

was

and

spirit

after

and

others

that matter and spirit have existed together.

60

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
of

But none
sibility
tell

these people can by any posis,

what matter
difference is

or what spirit
spirit

is,

or what the
matter.

between

and

The
ists

materialists

as

upon the spiritualand the spiritsubstantially crazy
;

look

ualists

regard

the

materialists
spiritualistic
;

as

low and
hold
is

groveling.

These

people
all,

matter in contempt
quite
little

but, after

matter

a mystery.
earth
it

You
4

take in your hand a
dust.

a

little

Do you know
;

what

is ?

In

this

dust you put a seed

the rain falls upon the seed grows
;

it;

the light strikes it;
;

it

bursts into blossom

it

produces

fruit.
is

What

this
it?

dust
Is

this

womb?
anything

Do you
in

understand

there

the

wide universe more wonderful than this?

Take a grain

of

sand, reduce

it

to

powder,
look at

take the smallest
it

possible

particle,

with a microscope, contemplate
it

its

every

part for days, and
a secret

remains the citadel of
fortress.

an impregnable

Bring

all

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
the theologians, philosophers, and
in

61

scientists

serried

ranks against

it;

let

them attack

on every side with all the arts and arms of thought and force. The citadel does not fall.

Over the battlements
victorious secret

floats the flag,

and the

smiles at the baffled hosts.

Walt Whitman did not and does not imagine
that

he

has

reached

the

limit

the
race.

end

of the road traveled

by the human

He knows

that every victory over nature is
battle.

but the preparation for another
truth was in
his
well
;

This
"

mind when he
it

said

:

Un-

derstand
sence of
success,

me
no

is

provided in the es-

things,

that

from

any fruition
shall

of

matter

what,

come

forth

something to make a greater struggle necessary."

This

is

the generalization of

all history.

62

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

XL
THE TWO POEMS.
There are two
have
first

of
call

these

poems
Out

to

which I

time
is

to

special

attention.
of

The
Sea."

entitled,

"A Word

the

The boy, coming out
the
of

of the rocked cradle,
fields,

wandering over the sands and
mystic
play

up from
of

shadows,

out

the

patches of briers and blackberries

from the
re-

memories
sponses of

of

birds

from

the

thousand

his

heart

goes back to the sea

and his childhood, and sings a reminiscence.

Two

guests

from

Alabama

two

birds
light

build their nest, and there were

four

green eggs, spotted with brown, and the two
birds sang for joy
Shine! shine! shine!
:

Pour down your warmth, great sun!
"While

we

bask,

we two

together.

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
Two
together!
south, or winds

63

Winds blow

blow north,
black,

Day come white, or night come
Home, or
Singing
rivers

and mountains from home,
minding no time,

all time,

While we two keep together.

In a

little

while one of the birds

is

missed

and
the

never

appeared again, and

all

through

summer

the mate, the solitary guest, was
:

singing of the lost
Blow
!

blow

!

blow

!

Blow up sea-winds along Paumanok's shore;
I

wait and I wait

till

you blow

my mate

to me.

And

the boy" that night, blending himself
feet,

with the shadows, with bare
to the sea,

went down
in the

where the white arms out
;

breakers were tirelessly tossing

listening to

the songs and translating the notes.

And
was

the singing bird called loud and high

for the mate,
in

wondering what the dusky spot

the

brown and

yellow,

seeing

the

mate whichever way he looked, piercing the

woods and the earth with

his song,

hoping

G4
that the

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

mate might hear his cry

;

stopping

that he might not lose her answer ; waiting and " Here I am then crying again And this
:

!

gentle call

is

for
of

you.

Do
wind

not
;

be deceived

by the whistle shadows ;" and
past!

the

those are the
:

at last crying
songs of joy!
fields,

happy
air, in the

life!

In the

woods, over

Loved! loved! loved! loved! loved!

But

my

mate no more, no more with me!

We

two together no more.

And

then the boy, understanding the song

that had

awakened

in

his breast a thousand

songs clearer and louder and more sorrowful

than the bird's, knowing that the cry of unsatisfied

love
;

would

never

again

be absent

from him
all,

thinking
of

then of the destiny of
the

and asking
the sea

sea

the

final

word,

and

answering,

delaying

not

and

hurrying not, spoke the low delicious word

"Death!" "ever Death!"

The next poem, one
as

that will live as long
"
:

our

language,

entitled

When

Lilacs

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

65

Last

in

the

Dooryard Bloom'd,"

is

on the

death of Lincoln,
The
sweetest, wisest soul of
all

ray days and lands.

One who reads
odor of the
"
lilac,

this

will

never forget the
"

the lustrous western star

and

"

the

grey-brown

bird

singing

in

the

pines and cedars."

In this poem the dramatic unities are perfectly preserved, the in

atmosphere and climate
event.

harmony with every
Never
will

he forget the solemn journey of

the coffin through
great

day and night, with
the
land,

the the

cloud

darkening

nor

pomp
and

of inlooped flags,

the processions long
of

winding,
flames,

the

flambeaus
silent

night,
faces,

the
the

torches'

the
the

sea of

unbared

heads,

thousand

voices

rising

strong and solemn, the dirges, the shuddering organs, the tolling
of lilac.

bells

and the sprig

And then

for a

moment they

will hear the

grey-brown bird singing

in the cedars, bash-

66
ful

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

and tender, while the lustrous
the

star lingers

in

West, and

they

will

remember the
to

pictures

hung on the chamber walls
the grey

adorn

the burial house

pictures of spring and farms

and homes, and
bright,

smoke

lucid

and

and the floods

of yellow gold

of the

gorgeous indolent sinking sun

the sweet her-

bage under foot
prolific

the green leaves of the trees
of.

the breast

the river with the wind-

dapple

here and there, and the varied and

ample land

and the most excellent sun so
the violet and purple

calm and haughty
with
just-felt

morn
born

breezes

the

gentle

soft

measureless light
ing
all

the miracle spreading, bath-

the

fulfill'd

noon

the

coming eve
and
the

delicious
stars.

and the

welcome

night

And
the

then again they will hear the song of
bird
in

grey-brown

the

limitless

dusk
will

amid the cedars and

pines.

Again they

remember the
lilac.

star,

and again the odor

of the

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

67

But most
lated and

of all, the

song of the bird transfor death
:

becoming the chant
A CHANT FOR DEATH.

Come

lovely

and soothing death,

Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night to
all,

to each,

Sooner or later delicate death.
Prais'd be the fathomless universe,

For

life

and

joy,

and for objects and knowledge curious,
but praise! praise! praise!

And

for love,

sweet love

For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with

soft feet,
fullest

Have none chanted
Then
I I

for thee

a chant of

welcome ?
all,

chant
thee

it

for thee, I glorify thee

above

bring

a

song

that

when thou must indeed come,

come

unfalteringly.

Approach strong

deliveress,

When

it

is

so,

when thou

hast taken them I joyously sing

the dead,

Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,

Laved

in the flood of thy bliss

death.

From me
Dances

to thee glad serenades,

for

thee

I

propose
thee,

saluting

thee,

adornments and

feastings

for

68
And

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
the sights of the open

landscape

and the high spread

sky are

fitting,
fields,

And

life

and the
in

and the huge and thoughtful night
star,

The night

silence

under many a
the

The ocean shore and
voice
I

husky whispering wave whose

know,
vast and well-veil'd
death,

And

the soul turning to thee

And

the body gratefully nestling close to thee.
I
float

Over the tree-tops

thee a song,
the

Over the

rising

and sinking waves, over
prairies

myriad

fields

and the

wide,
cities
all

Over the dense-pack'd
and ways,

and

the

teeming wharves

I float this carol with joy,

with joy to thee

death.

This

poem, in memory

of

"

the sweetest,

wisest soul of all our days and lands," and for

whose sake

lilac

and star and bird entwined,

will last as long as the

memory

of Lincoln.

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

69

XIT.

OLD AGE.
Walt Whitman
is

not only the poet of childall,

hood, of youth, of manhood, but, above
old age.

of

He

has not been soured by slander
;

or petrified by prejudice
flattery

neither calumny nor

has made him revengeful or arrogant.

Now

sitting

by the

fireside, in the

winter of
breast,

life,

His jocund heart

still

beating in his

he
his

is just

as brave

and calm and kind as
days,

in

manhood's

proudest

when

roses
life's

blossomed in his cheeks.
seven steps.
"

He

has taken

Now, as the gamester might

say,

on velvet."

He

is

"

enjoying

old

age ex-

panded, broad, with the haughty breadth of
the universe
;

old age, flowing free, with the

delicious near-by freedom of

death

;

old age,

superbly rising, welcoming the ineffable aggregation of dying days."

70

LIBERTY IX LITERATURE.

Ke

is

" taking the loftiest look at last," and
:

before he goes he utters thanks
For
health,

the
life,

midday

sun,

the

impalpable

air

for

life,

mere*

For

precious

ever-lingering

memories,
brothers,

(of

you

my

mother

dear

you, father

you,

sisters,

friends,)

For

all

my

days -not those of peace alone

the days of

war

the same,

For gentle words, caresses,

gifts

from foreign lands,

For

shelter,
distant,

wine and meat

for

sweet appreciation,
countless,

(You

dim unknown
readers

or

young or old

un-

specified,

belov'd,
-

We
For

never met, and ne'er shall meet
brace,
long,

and yet our souls em-

close

and long.)
deeds,

beings,

groups,

love,

words,

books

for

colors,

forms,

For a

1

!

the

brave st-ong men-devo'ed,
in

hardy men
all

who've
all

forward sprung

freedom's help,

year.",

lands,

For braver, stronger, more dovoted men
I

(a special

laurel ere

go,

to

life's

war's chosen ones,
the great artillerists

The cannoneers of SMig and thought

the foremost leaders, captains of the soul).

It is a great thing to preach philosophy

far

greater to live

it.

The highest philosophy

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

71

accepts the inevitable with a smile, and greets
it

as though

it

were desired.
:

To be
The

satisfied

This

is

wealth

success.

real philosopher

knows that everything
con-

has happened that could have happened
sequently he accepts.
lived

He

is

glad that he has

glad that he has had his

moment on

the stage.
life.

In this spirit

Whitman has accepted

I
I

shall
shall

go

forth,
tell

traverse the States awhile, but I cannot

whither

or

how
soon

long,

Perhaps

some day or night while

I

am

singing

ray

voice will suddenly cease.

book,

chants

!

must
at

all

then amount to but this

?

Must we barely
it

arrive

this
;

beginning of us

?

and

yet

is

enough,

soul

soul,

we have

positively

appear'd

that

is

enough.

Yes, "Walt
his place

Whitman has appeared. He has upon the stage. The drama is not
is
still

ended.

His voice

heard.

Poet of Democracy
poet of
the

of all people.
soul.

He He

is is

the the

body and

He

has sounded

72

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE

the note of Individuality.

He
is

has given the

pass-word primeval.
manity
of

He

the Poet of

Huhas

Intellectual

Hospitality.

He

voiced the aspirations of America
all,

and, above

he

is

the poet of Love and Death.
his

How

grandly,

thought,

how bravely he has given and how superb is his farewell
:

his

leave-taking

After the supper and talk

after the
final

day

is

done,

As a

friend

from friends his
r

withdrawal prolonging,
lips repeating,

Good-bye and Good-b} e with emotional

(So hard for his hand to release those hands

no more will

they meet,

No more

for

communion of sorrow

arid joy, of old

and young,

A

far-stretching journey awaits him, to return

no more,)
off

Shunning, postponing severance

seeking

to

ward

the last

word ever so

little,

E'en at the exit-door turning

-

charges superfluous calling back

e'en as he descends the steps,

Something
fall

to

eke out a minute additional

shadows of night-

deepening,
lessening

Farewells, messages

dimmer the

forthgoer's visage

and form,

Soon

to

be lost
1

for

aye in

the darkness

loth,

so loth to

depart

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

73
lost,

And

is this all?
?

Will the forthgoer be

and forever

Is

death

the end

?

Over the

grave beiids Love sobbing, and by her side
stands

Hope and whispers
shall

:

We
leaf,

meet
all

again.

Before
is life.

all

life

is

death, and after

death

The

falling

touched with the hectic

flush, that testi-

fies of

autumn's death,
of spring.

is,

in a subtler sense, a

prophecy

Walt Whitman has dreamed great dreams, told great truths and uttered sublime thoughts.

He
t':e

has held aloft the torch and bravely led
way.

As you read the marvelous book, or the " Leaves of Grass," you feel person, called
the freedom of the antique world the voices of the
;

you hear
first

morning, of the

great

singers
storm.

voices elemental as those of sea and

The
ample,

horizon

enlarges,

the

heavens
the

grow

limitations

are

forgotten

realization of the will, the

accomplishment of

the ideal, seem to be within your power.
structions

Ob-

become petty and disappear.

The

74

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

chains and bars are broken, and the distinctions of caste are
lost.

The

soul

is

in

the

open
of

air,

under the blue and stars
Creeds,
to

the flag
philosore-

Nature.

theories

and

phies ask
constructed.
tions

be examined, contradicted,

Prejudices disappear, supersti-

vanish
places
clasp

and

custom

abdicates.

The

sacred
desires

become
hands

highways, duties and

and

become
drops
the
the

comrades
scepter,
falls

and
the

friends.

Authority
miter,

priest the

and

purple

from kings.
late,

The inanimate becomes

articu-

the meanest and humblest things utter

speech and the
song.

dumb and
of

voiceless burst into

A
of

feeling

independence takes posthe

session

the soul,
full

body expands, the
superiors vanish,
life

blood flows
flattery
is

and
art,

free,

a lost

and

becomes

rich,

royal,

and superb.

The

v.oiltl

becomes a perthe
conti-

sonal possession, and

tho

oceans,

nents, and constellations belong to you.

You

are in the center, everything radiates from you,

and in your veins beats and throbs the pulse

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.
of all
free.
life.

75

You become

a rover, careless and

You wander by

the shores of all seas

and hear the eternal

psalm.

You

feel

the

silence of the wide forest,

and stand beneath

the intertwined and over arching boughs, en-

tranced with symphonies of winds and woods.

You

are borne on the tides of eager and swift

rivers,

hear the rush and roar of cataracts as

they

fall

beneath the seven-hued

arch,

and

watch the eagles as they circling soar*

You

traverse gorges dark and dim, and climb the

scarred and threatening

cliffs.

You stand
fall

in

orchards where the blossoms

like

snow,

where the birds nest and

sing,

and painted
through
those
the

moths make

aimless
live

journeys
the

happy
till

air.

You

lives of

who

the

fields,

earth, and walk amid the perfumed hear the reapers' song, and feel the

breadth and scope of earth and sky.

You

are

in the great cities, in the midst of multitudes,
of the

endless processions.
plains

You
with

are

on the

wide

the

prairies

hunter

and
feel

trapper, with savage and pioneer, and

you

76

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

the soft grass yielding under your feet.
sail in

You

the

many ships, and breathe the free air of You travel many roads, and countless sea.

paths.

You
;

visit palaces

and prisons, hospitals
convicts,

and courts

you pity kings and

and and

your sympathy goes out
insane,

to all the suffering

the oppressed

and enslaved, and even
the din of labor,

to the infamous.
all

You hear
field,

sounds of factory,

and

forest,

of all

tools,

instruments and machines.

You become
employ-

familiar with

men and women

of all

ments, trades and professions
burial, with

with birth and

wedding

feast

and funeral chant.
of war,

You

see the cloud
ineffable

and flame
perfect

and you
peace.

enjoy the

days

of

In this one book, in these wondrous "Leaves
of

Grass," you

find

hints and
all

suggestions,
is of life,

touches and fragments, of
that
lies

there

between the babe, whose rounded

cheeks dimple beneath his mother's laughing,
loving eyes, and the old man, snow-crowned,

who, with
death.

a

smile,

extends

his

hand

to

TESTIMONIAL TO WALT WHITMAN.

77 our-

We
selves

have

met

to-night
the

to

honor

by honoring

author of

"Leaves

of Grass."

A DDR eSS AT THB
Funeral
of

Walt
0.

Whitman

BY ROBERT
to Harlelgh,

INGERSOLL,

Camden, New Jersey, March 30, 1892,

AGAIN, we, in the mystery of Life, are brought
face to face with the mystery of Death.

A great
and we

man, a great American, the most eminent citizen
of this Republic, lies

dead before

us,

have met to pay tribute to his greatness and
his worth.
I

know he needs no words
is

of

mine.

His
of
it

fame

secure.

was, deep in the above all I have known, the poet of humanity, He was so great that he rose of sympathy.

He laid the foundations human heart and brain. He

80

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

above the greatest that he met without arrogance, and so great that he

stooped to the

lowest without conscious condescension.

He

never claimed to be lower or greater than any
of the sons of

men.

He came
meled

into our generation a free, untram-

spirit,

with sympathy for

all.

His arm

was beneath the form

of the sick.

He sympa-

thized with the imprisoned and despised, and

even on the brow of crime he was great enough
to place the kiss of

human sympathy.
enough
"
:

One
his,

of the greatest lines in our literature is
line is great

and the

to

do honor to

the greatest genius that has ever lived.
said,

He

speaking of an outcast

Not

until the

sun excludes you will I exclude you."

His charity was as wide as the
ever there was
fortune, the
it

sky,

and whermis-

human

suffering,

human

sympathy

of

Whitman bent above
and splendid plan

as the firmament bends above the earth.

He was

built on a broad

ample, without appearing to have limitations
passing easily for a brother of mountains and

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
seas and constellations
little
;

81

caring nothing for the

maps and

charts with which timid pilots
freely with

hug the shore, but giving himself
and tides
stars

the recklessness of genius to winds and waves
;

caring for nothing so long as the

were above him.
writers,

He walked among
and

men,

among

among verbal varnishers and
literary milliners
tailors,

veneerers,

among

with the unconscious majesty of an antique
god.

He was

the poet of that divine democracy
all

which gives equal rights to
daughters of men.
ican voice
;

the sons and

He

uttered the great Amer-

uttered a song worthy of the great

Republic.

No man

has ever said more for the

rights of humanity,

more

in favor of real de-

mocracy, of real justice.

He

neither scorned
slave.

nor cringed

;

was neither tyrant nor

He

asked only to stand the equal of his fellows

beneath the great
stars.

flag of nature, the

blue and

He was

the poet of

life.

It

was a joy simply
;

to breathe.

He

loved the clouds

he enjoyed

82

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

the breath of morning, the twilight, the wind,
the winding streams.

He

loved to look at the

sea

when

the waves burst into the whitecaps

of joy.

He

loved the

fields,

the hills

;

he was
all

acquainted with the

trees,

with birds, with

the beautiful objects of the earth.

He

not only

saw these
ing,

objects,

but understood their mean-

and he used them that he might exhibit

his heart to his fellow-men.

He was
ashamed
every

the

poet of

Love.

He was
that

not

of that divine passion that has built

home; that

divine

passion

has

painted every picture and given us every real

work

of art

;

that divine passion that has

made
some

the world worth living in and has given

value to

human

life.

He was
men
ural.

the poet of the natural, and taught
is

not to be ashamed of that which

nat-

He was

not only the poet of democracy,

not only the poet of the great Republic, but he

was the poet

of the

human

race.

He was

not

confined to the limits of this country, but his

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

83
to all the

sympathy went out over the seas
nations of the earth.

He

stretched out his hands and felt himself
all

the equal of

kings and of

all

princes,

and

the brother of

all

men, no matter how high, no

matter

how

low.

He

has uttered more supreme words than

any writer of our century, possibly of almost any other.

He was, above
all

all things,

a man, and

above genius, above
of intelligence,

the snow-capped peaks

above

all art, rises

the true man.

He was
life

the poet of Death.

He

accepted
all.

all

and

all

death, and he justified
all,

He had
and to

the courage to meet

and was great enough
all

and splendid enough to harmonize
accept
all

there

is

as a divine melody.

You know
been, but let
did,

better than I

what his
:

life

has

me

say one thing

Knowing

as he

what others can know and what they can not, he accepted and absorbed all theories, all
creeds, all religions,

and believed

in none.
all

His

philosophy was a sky that embraced

clouds

and accounted

for all clouds.

He had

a philos-

84

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

ophy and a religion of his own, broader, as he believed

and as I believe

than others.
all,

He

ac-

cepted all, he understood

and he was above all.

He was
as light.

absolutely true to himself.

He had

frankness and courage, and he was as candid

He was

willing that all the sons of

men should be

absolutely acquainted with his

heart and brain.

He had

nothing to conceal.

Frank, candid, pure, serene, noble, and yet for
years he was maligned and slandered, simply

because he had the candor of nature.

He

will

be understood

yet,

and that

for

which he was
candor
will

condemned
add

his

frankness,

his

to the glory

and greatness

of his fame.
;

He
to us

wrote a liturgy for mankind
life,

he wrote a

great and splendid psalm of

and he gave
the greatest

the

gospel of

humanity

gospel that can be preached.

He was

not afraid to live

;

not afraid to die.

For many years he and Death lived near neighHe was always willing and ready to bors.
meet and greet this king called Death, and for many months he sat in the deepening twilight

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.
waiting for
the

85

night; waiting for the light.

He
filled

never lost his hope.
the valleys, he looked

When

the

mists

tops,

upon the mountain and when the mountains in darkness dis-

appeared, fixed his gaze upon the stars.

In his brain were the blessed memories of
the day and in his heart were mingled the

dawn and dusk

of

life.

He was
moment.
desert him.
clasp the

not afraid

;

he was cheerful every
of

The laughing nymphs

day did not

They remained
hands and
of

that they might

greet with smiles the

veiled and silent sisters

the night.

And
the

when they did come, Walt Whitman stretched
his

hand

to

them.

On

one

side were

nymphs

of day,

and on the other the

silent sis-

ters of the night,

and

so,

hand

in hand,

between

smiles and tears, he reached his journey's end.

From

the frontier of

life,

from the western

wave-kissed shore, he sent us messages of content
like

and hope, and these messages seem now strains of music blown by the " Mystic
"

Trumpeter

from Death's pale realm.

86

LIBERTY IN LITERATURE.

To-day we give back to Mother Nature, to her clasp and kiss, one of the bravest, sweetest
souls that ever lived in

human

clay.

Charitable as the air and generous as Nature,

he was negligent of

all

except to do and say
say.

what he believed he should do and should

And

I to-day thank
all

him, not only for you
the brave words he has
for all the

but for myself, for
uttered.

I thank

him

great and

splendid words he has said in favor of liberty,
in favor of

man and woman,

in favor of

moth-

erhood, in favor of fathers, in favor of children,

and I thank him
has said of death.

for the brave

words that he

He
rible

has lived, he has died, and death

is less ter-

than

it

was

before.

Thousands and
"

mill-

ions will walk

down

into the

dark valley of the
the hand.

shadow

"

holding Walt

Whitman by

Long

after

we

are dead the brave words he has
like

spoken

trumpets to the dying. And so I lay this little wreath upon this
will

sound

great man's tomb.
love

I loved

him

living,

and I

him

still.

A New Book About the The Best One of All

Bible.

THE BIBLE
By

JOHN

E.

REMSBURG.
Cloth,

Large IQmo.

500 pages.
Postpaid.

$1.85

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Eleven Chapters on the Authenticity of the

BibleThirteen on the Credibility of the BibleTen on the Morality of the Bible With an Appendix of Unanswerable Arguments Against the
Divine Origin and in Favor of the
of the Bible.

Human

Origin

to refer in

Twenty-six pages of Index, enabling the reader an instant to any Authority quoted or
used.
titles of

Argument
The

the chapters, in detail, are: Sacred Books of the World, The Christian Bible, Formation of the Canoa, Different Versions of the Bible, Authorship and Dates,

The Pentateuch, The Prophets, The Hagiographa, The
Epistles, and Revelation; Pauline Epistles, Textual Errors, Two Cosmogonies of Genesis, The Patriarchal Age, The Jewish Kings, Inspired Numbers, When Did Jehoshaphat Die? Harmony of the Gospels, Paul and tbe Apostles, The Bible and H stoT, The Bible and Science, Prophetic*, Miracles,T le Bible God, The Bible Not a Moral Guide, Lying, Cheating, Stealing, Murder, War. Human Sacrifices, Cannibalism, Witchcraft, Slavtry, Polygamy, Adultery, Obscenity, Intemperance, Vagrancy, Ignorance, Injustice to women, Unkindness to Children, Cruelty to Animals, Tyranny, Intolerance, Conclusion, Appendix.

Four Gospels, Acts, Catholic

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NEARLY 400 PAGES A PAGE OF TEXT TO EACH PICTURE ABOUT 200 PICTUKES
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A

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