But you are an old, old friend of mine. It is more than thirty years since we dreamed a dream together which you were able to realize. We both have had our fortune in good and bad, and on the whole I think our lives have not added to the misery of men, but have done something toward making life a bit more kind for many people. And why should that boy be taken from you? There is the mystery—if you can solve it you can solve all the other mysteries. I hope you have some good staunch faith, which I have never been able to get, that would enable me to look upon these things in humility, in the confidence that this thing we call a body is only a temporary envelope for a permanent thing—a lasting, growing thing called a spirit, the only thing that counts. If we can get that sense we can have a new world. I do not believe we will change this world much for the good out of any materialistic philosophy or by any shifting of economic affairs. We need a revival—a belief in something bigger than ourselves, and more lasting than the world.
With my warmest sympathy, I am, yours as always,
TO JOHN CRAWFORD BURNS
Washington, December 29, 
My dear John,—The manner in which you write assures me that you are very happy, notwithstanding your marriage and your new religion, for which I am glad. An even better assurance is the picture of the bride. By what wizardry have you been able to lure and capture so young, good, and intelligent-looking a girl? I presume she was fascinated by the indirectness of your speech, the touches of humor and your very stern manner. John, you are a humbug, you have made that aloofness and high indifference a winning asset. I shan’t give you away. Only you fill me with a mortifying envy.
As for your religion, various of your friends think it odd. I think that you are a subject for real congratulation. A man who can believe anything is miles ahead of the rest of us. I would gladly take Christian Science, Mohammedanism, the Holy Rollers or anything else that promised some answer to the perplexing problems. But you have been able to go into the Holy of Holies and sit down on the same bench of belief with most of the saints—this is miraculous good fortune. I mean it. I am not scoffing or jeering. I never was more serious.
This whole damned world is damned because it is standing in a bog, there is no sure ground under anyone’s feet. We are the grossest materialists because we only know our bellies and our backs. We worship the great god Comfort. We don’t think; we get sensations. The thrill is the thing. All the newspapers, theatres, prove it. We resign ourselves to a life that knows no part of man but his nerves. We study “reactions,” in human beings and in chemistry— recognizing no difference between the two—and to my great amazement, the war has made the whole thing worse than