I like to have you talk, as in your latest letter, of the making of yourself. It seems so much more possible than that I could do the same. But I am a miserable groping creature, cast on a sea of doubt, rejecting one spar to grasp another, and crying all the time against the storm, for help. I do not know another man who has tortured himself so insistently with the problems that are unsolvable. You are firmer in your grasp, and when you get something you cling to it and push your way like a practical person toward the shore, that shore of solid earth which is not, but by the pushing you realize the illusion, or the reality, of progress.
Here I am talking loosely of the greatest things, and perhaps pedantically; well, we agreed to talk, didn’t we, of anything and everything? You have the birds, the lake, the mountains beyond, the children next door, and the Fairy all our own, and I have my desk to look at and outside brick blocks and the sky. If I ever do hypnotize myself into any kind of faith, or find contentment in any one thing, it will be the sky. The reason I like the water is because it is so much like the sky. There is an amplitude in it that gives me chance for infinite wanderings. The clouds and the stars are somehow the most companionable of all things that do not walk and talk.
Well, we have walked a bit together and have come to the edge of the field where we look off and see the unending stretch of prairie and the great dome. ...
To William R. Wheeler
Washington, August 21, 1916
My dear bill,—Owing to your departure I have been laid up in bed, ill for a week. You left on Thursday and on Friday night I went to bed ... The doctors don’t know what I had, excepting that I had things with “itis” at the end of them. I have had allopaths, Christian Scientists, osteopaths, and Dockweilers. The latter has been my nurse at night, his chief service being to keep me interested in the variety of his snoring. I really have had one damn hell of a time. The whole back and top of my head blew out, and I expected an eruption of lava to flow down my back. The only explanation of it is a combination of air-drafts and a little too much work and worry. I am now somewhat weak, but otherwise in pretty good condition ...
I have no intention of saying anything in reply to Pinchot. He wrote me thirty pages to prove that I was a liar, and rather than read that again I will admit the fact.
My regards to the Lady Alice Isabel. As always affectionately yours,
To James Harlan
My dear Jim,—I am writing you from my bed where I have been laid up for a few days with a hard dose of tonsillitis. Don’t know what happened but the wicked bug got me and I have suffered more than was good for my slender soul.