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19 New Life in the Old House Meanwhile, Chicago rushing toward its two million mark, had not,alas! lived up to its literary promise of ’94.In music,in painting , in sculpture and architecture it was no longer negligible, but each year its authors appeared more and more like a group of esthetic pioneers heroically maintaining themselves in the midst of an increasing tumult of material upbuilding. One by one its hopeful young publishing houses had failed,and one by one its aspiring periodicals had withered in the keen wind of Eastern competition. The Dial alone held on, pathetically solitary ,one might almost say alien and solitary. Against all this misfortune even my besotted optimism could not prevail.My pioneering spirit,subdued by years of penury and rough usage,yielded more and more to the honor and the intellectual companionship which the East offered.To Fuller I privately remarked:“As soon as I can afford it I intend to establish a home in NewYork.” “I’d go further,” he replied.“I would live in Italy if I could.” It was a very significant fact that Chicago contained in 1903 but a handful of writers,while St.Louis,Cleveland,Cincinnati,Detroit and Kansas City had fewer yet.“What is the reason for this literary sterility?” I asked of my companions.“Why should not these powerful cities produce authors? Boston,when she had less than three hundred thousands citizens had Lowell,Longfellow,Emerson and Holmes.” The answer was (and still is),“Because there are few supporters of workers in the fine arts.Western men do not think in terms of art.There are no literary periodicals in these cities to invite (and pay for) the work of the author and the illustrator, and there is moreover a tendency on the part of our builders to give the eastern sculptor,painter or architect the jobs which might be done by 222 Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page 222 local men.Until Chicago has at least one magazine founded like a university, and publishing houses like Scribners and Macmillans our authors and artists must go to New York.” Of course none of these answers succeeded in clearing up the mystery,but they were helpful. Some of the writers in the Little Room were outspokenly envious of my ability to spend half my winters in the East, but Lorado Taft stoutly declared that the West inspired him, satisfied him. “Chicago suits me,” he asserted,“and besides I can’t afford to run away from my job.You should be the last man to admit defeat,you who have been preaching local color and local patriotism all your days.” In truth Taft was one of the few who could afford to remain in Chicago for its public supported him handsomely, but those of us who wrote had no organizations to help sustain our self-esteem. Nevertheless I permitted him to imagine my pessimism to be only a mood which,in some degree it was,for I had many noble friends in the city who invited me to dinner even if they did not read my books. The claims of Chicago upon me had been strengthened by the presence of Professor Taft who had given up his home in Kansas and was now settled not far from his son and near the University. He had brought all his books and other treasures with intent to spend the remaining years of his life in the neighborhood of his illustrious son and his two daughters,a fact which I could not overlook in any plans for changing my own residence. Don Carlos Taft was a singular and powerful figure, as I have already indicated,a stoic,of Oriental serenity,one who could smile in the midst of excruciating pain.With his eyes against a blank wall he was able to endlessly amuse himself by calling up the deep-laid concepts of his earlier years of study.Though affected with some obscure spinal disorder which made every movement a punishment, he concealed his suffering, no matter how intense it might be,and always answered,“Fine,fine!”when any of us asked “How are you to-day?” He lived in Woodlawn as he had lived in Kansas, like a man in a diving bell. His capacious brain filled with “knowledges” of the days when Gladstone was king and Darwin an outlaw, had little room for the scientific theories of Bergson and his like. He reA Daughter of the...


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