I told you I would send Wells’ history to you, and to it I have added one of the greatest of human documents, William James’ Letters. I hope you love the largeness of the man, to be large and playful and useful, I say, man, can you beat that combination? I believe I know another beside James who meets the specifications. And strangely enough he, too, evolved from physician to psychologist, to philosopher.
Well, here’s hoping that he and his High-Souled Partner meet with many joys and few sorrows in 1921.
F. K. L.
LETTERS TO ELIZABETH 1919-1920
To Mrs. Ralph Ellis
[Camden, North Carolina, March, 1919]
My dear Elizabeth,—And so they call you a Bolshevik! a parlor Bolshevik! Well, I am not surprised for your talk gives justification for calling you almost anything, except a dull person. When one is adventurous in mind and in speech—perfectly willing to pioneer into all sorts of mountains and morasses—the stay-at-homes always furnish them with purposes that they never had and throw them into all kinds of loose company. I have forgotten whether or no there was a Mrs. Columbus, but if the Old Man on his return spoke an admiring word of the Indian girls he saw on Santo Domingo you may be sure that he was at once regarded as having outdone that Biblical hero who exclaimed, “Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity!,” after having run his personal attachees up into the thousand.
Yes, the very solemn truth is that adventuring is dangerous business, and mental adventuring most dangerous of all. We forgive those who do things that are strange, really more readily than those who talk of doing them. People are really afraid of talk, and rightly so, I believe. The mind that goes reaching out and up and around and through is a disturber, it bumps into every kind of fixed notion and takes off a chip here and there, it probes into all sorts of mysteries and opens them to find that they are hollow wind-bag affairs, tho’ always held as holy of holies heretofore. To think, to speculate, to wonder, to query—these imply imagination, and the Devil has just one function in this Universe —to destroy, to kill, or suppress or to divert or prevent the imagination. Imagination is the Divine Spark, and old Beelzebub has had his hands full ever since that spark was born. “As you were,” is his one military command. His diabolical energy is challenged to its utmost when he hears the words “Forward March!” There is not much—anything—of beauty or nobility or achievement in the world that he has not fought, and all of it has been the fruit of imagination, the working of the creative mind. You see I come very near to believing in that old personal Devil which my Presbyterian father saw so vividly, and which our friend Wells has recently discovered,