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3 In the Footsteps of General Grant Among the new esthetic and literary enterprises which the Exposition had brought to Chicago was the high-spirited publishing firm of Stone and Kimball, which started out valiantly in the spring of ’94.The head of the house, a youth just out of Harvard, was Herbert Stone, son of my friend Melville Stone, manager of the Associated Press. Kimball was Herbert’s classmate. Almost before he had opened his office,Herbert came to me to get a manuscript.“Eugene Field has given us one,” he urged,“and we want one from you.We are starting a real publishing house in Chicago and we need your support.” There was no resisting such an appeal. Having cast in my lot with Chicago, it was inevitable that I should ally myself with its newest literary enterprise,a business which expressed something of my faith in the west.Not only did I turn over to Stone the rights to Main Traveled Roads, together with a volume of verse—I promised him a book of essays—and a novel. These aspiring young collegians were joined in ’95 by another Harvard man, a tall, dark, smooth-faced youth named Harrison Rhodes,and when,of an afternoon these three missionaries of culture each in a long frock coat, tightly buttoned,with cane, gloves and shining silk hats, paced side by side down the Lake Shore Drive they had the effect of an esthetic invasion, but their crowning audacity was a printed circular which announced that tea would be served in their office in the Caxton Building on Saturday afternoons! Finally as if to convince the city of their utter madness, this intrepid trio adventured the founding of a literary magazine to be called The Chap Book! Culture on the Middle Border had at last begun to hum! Despite the smiles of elderly scoffers, the larger number of my esthetic associates felt deeply grateful to these devoted literary pioneers ,whose taste, enterprise and humor were all sorely needed 24 Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page 24 “in our midst.” If not precisely cosmopolitan they were at least in touch with London. Early in ’94 they brought out a lovely edition of Main Traveled Roads and a new book called Prairie Songs. Neither of these volumes sold—the firm had no special facilities for selling books, but their print and binding delighted me, and in the autumn of the same year I gladly let them publish a collection of essays called Crumbling Idols, a small screed which aroused an astonishing tumult of comment, mostly antagonistic.Walter Page, editor of the Forum, in which one of the keynote chapters appeared, told me that over a thousand editorials were written upon my main thesis. In truth the attention which this iconoclastic declaration of faith received at the hands of critics was out of all proportion to its size. Its explosive power was amazing.As I read it over now,with the clamor of “Cubism,” “Imagism” and “Futurism” in my ears, it seems a harmless and on the whole rather reasonable plea for National Spirit and the freedom of youth, but in those days all of my books had mysterious power for arousing opposition,and most reviews of my work were so savage that I made a point of not reading them for the reason that they either embittered me,or were so lacking in discrimination as to have no value. In spite of all appearances to the contrary,I hated contention,therefore I left consideration of these assaults entirely to my publishers.(I learned afterwards that Miss Taft was greatly interested in Crumbling Idols. Perhaps she assumed that I was writing at her.) Meanwhile in Rose of Dutcher’s Coolly, the manuscript of which I had carried about with me on many of my lecturing trips, I was attempting to embody something of Chicago life, a task which I found rather difficult.After nine years of life in Boston,the city by the lake seemed depressingly drab and bleak, and my only hope lay in representing it not as I saw it, but as it appeared to myWisconsin heroine who came to it from Madison and who perceived in it the mystery and the beauty which I had lost.To Rose, fresh from the farm,it was a great capital,and the lake a majestic sea.As in A Spoil of Office, I had tried to maintain the point of view...


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