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The frontispiece is from a photograph of Mr. Burroughs sitting
in the doorway of Slabsides, taken by Clifton Johnson in 1901.
The vignette of Slabsides is from a photograph by Clifton
Johnson in 1900.

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of the writer, it cannot take rank as good literature. To become literature, truth must be perpetually reborn, reincarnated, and begin life anew.

A successful utterance always has value, always has truth, though in its purely intellectual aspects it may not correspond with the truth as we see it. I cannot accept all of Ruskin's views upon our civilization or all of Tolstoi's upon art, yet I see that they speak the truth as it defines itself to their minds and feelings. A counter-statement may be equally true. The struggle for existence goes on in the ideal world as well as in the real. The strongest mind, the fittest statement, survives for the time being. That a system of philosophy or religion perishes or is laid aside is not because it is not or was not true, but because it is not true to the new minds and under the new conditions. expresses what the world thinks and feels.

It no longer

It is

outgrown. Was not Calvinism true to our fathers? It is no longer true to us because we were born at a later day in the world. With regard to truths of science, we may say, once a truth always a truth, because the world of fact and of things is always under the same law, but the truth of sentiments and emotions changes with changing minds and hearts. The tree of life, unlike all other trees, bears different fruit to each generation. What our fathers found nourishing and satisfying in religion, in art, in philosophy, we find tasteless and stale. Every gospel has its day. The moral and intellectual horizon of the race is perpetually changing.

IV

In our modern democratic communities the moral sense is no doubt higher than it was in the earlier ages, while the artistic or æsthetic sense is lower. In the Athenian the artistic sense was far above the moral; in the Puritan the reverse was the case. The Latin races seem to have a greater genius for art than the Teutonic, while the latter excel in virtue. In this country, good taste exists in streaks and spots, or sporadically here and there. There does not seem to be enough to go around, or the supply is intermittent. One writer has it and another has it not, or one has it to-day and not to-morrow; one moment he writes with grace and simplicity, the next he falls into crudenesses or affectations. There is not enough leaven to leaven the whole lump. Some of our most eminent literary men, such as Lowell and Dr. Holmes, are guilty of occasional lapses from good taste, and probably in the work of none of them do we see the thorough ripening and mellowing of taste that mark the productions of the older and more centralized European communities. One of our college presidents, writing upon a serious ethical subject, allows himself such rhetoric as this: 66 Experiment and inference are the hook and line by which Science fishes the dry formulas out of the fluid fact. Art, on the other hand, undertakes to stock the stream with choice specimens of her own breeding and selection." We can hardly say of such metaphors what Sainte-Beuve said of Montaigne's, namely, that they are of the kind that are never de

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grow and stand upright without a certain balance and proportion. A man does not live out half his days without a certain simplicity of life. Excesses, irregularities, violences, kill him. It is the same with books-they, too, are under the same law; they hold the gift of life on the same terms. Only an honest book can live; only absolute sincerity can stand the test of time. Any selfish or secondary motive vitiates a work of art, as it vitiates a religious life. Indeed, I doubt if we fully appreciate the literary value of the staple, fundamental human virtues and qualities- probity, directness, simplicity, sincerity, love. There is just as much room and need for the exercise of these qualities in the making of a book as in the building of a house, or in a business career. How conspicuous they are in all the enduring books-in Bunyan, in Walton, in Defoe, in the Bible! It is they that keep alive such a book as "Two Years before the Mast," which Stevenson pronounced the best sea-story in the language, as it undoubtedly is. None of Stevenson's books have quite this probity and singleness of purpose, or show this effacement of the writer by the man. It might be said that our interest in such books is not literary at all, but purely human, like our interest in "Robinson Crusoe," or in life and things themselves. The experience itself of a sailor's life, however, would be to most of us very prosy and distasteful. Hence there is something in the record, something in the man behind the record, that colors his pages, and that is the source of our interest.

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