Vachel Lindsay to Jane Addams, October 29, 1916


October 29, 1916.

My Dear Miss Jane Addams: I can hardly wait a decent interval to answer your letter. You do not know how eager I am for your friendship. <But> I do not want to impose on a convalescent. I must begin by thanking you for the gift of your beautiful book: The Long Road of a Woman’s Memory. I sat down and read it all morning and half the afternoon the minute it arrived. It is a lovely book -- the work of a Greek, a woman more Greek than Christian -- as was “The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets” the first I read of yours. But I shall write you a review and send the clipping.

Certainly I will visit you at Hull House when next I am in Chicago -- which will be from Nov. 23 through December fourth, perhaps. I will be indeed honored if you can come to Miss Daugherty’s and Mr. Lindsay’s recital of his poem-games. As to staying at Hull House, I certainly desire to do it, sooner or later, but Mrs. William Vaughn Moody is already the hostess for the Daugherty-Lindsay team this time. I am wondering if Hull House is a [page 2] place where one could live and write for a month while he learned the run of it? I have consecrated December and most of January absolutely to the business of writing, and I am wondering if I could be man enough to refuse most social invitations and write there a month and take in Hull House in the evenings through the skin as it were? I would like to really be permanently effective in such a field [sometime], but haven't the least appetite for being a philanthropic bunko-artist. And you know the dabbler through and through, I have no doubt. As I grow older I have so much more faith in the unintentional benevolence of blind forces like the photoplay -- and so much less in anybody’s [amateur] or even professional good intentions. <The real workers at your house must be very wise.>

Which brings me to my gratitude to you for backing my movie-book. It is my Hull House on paper as it were. I was determined to put everything I thought about this whole wide world into it, and I think I did. And then the question was so big it was like trying to fill the ocean with one river.

If I may say so -- both Epes Winthrop Sargent and D. W. Griffith have backed my photoplay book manfully. Sargent has boosted it in his columns for the professionals, and Griffith has made some exceedingly friendly overtures. I began to feel myself a little bit on the [page 3] inside of the game with the people in the midst of the business, as much as I could ask -- enough to certify to the general technical respectability of my powers of observation, just the portion that the outsider might mistrust in the work. On the other hand, people in the commercial end of the business consider the last section of the book where the people around you would approve -- they consider the last sections mere moon-talk. Griffith and Sargent <are polite enough to> let me take them to school as it were, but not to church! Maurice [Browne], on the other hand, lets me take him to church, but not to school! Gordon Craig writes to me in entirely fraternal fashion apparently including the whole book.

But to the point. I am so jealous to have this book count with people on the very inside of our civilization -- now you know them. I hope you will land at least one great predatory statesman for me, Col House, or Roger Sullivan or J. Pierpont Morgan, or anybody else powerful enough to put into practice the chapter on Architects as Crusaders, if he only wanted to. That is the kind of chapter that to moving picture people is purely fantastic. [page 4] But I have just been rereading it -- and I say to myself why not? Why not?

The trouble with me is I am not man enough to land my statesman. Or patient enough. And it isn’t my field. I am here to make songs, if anything.

Back of it all is the hope that my book shall be a live thing -- a piece of ink-dynamite, not just a book pleasantly discussed by people who read my verses. With so many books dying before my eyes -- I cannot bear to write a dead one. Circulation is no test. The book looks now like it will go into the third printing -- which is a plenty. But if I had my way that edition of a thousand would be read by the thousand most potent grimmest hardest executives in America and completely make them over. But I can't get my thousand. Even one might do, if he ruled a thousand.

I should say that my [illegible] <four> best new friends -- [are] in Chicago are Carl Sandburg -- Edgar Lee Masters and George Hooker -- and Jens Jensen -- though Jensen and I raw a deal, because he accuses me of being an aristocrat in a swallow tail coat! Ain’t that funny? Harriet Monroe and Mrs. William Vaughn Moody are my perpetual hostesses and loyal [page 5] sponsors in Chicago, and when you are with any of these people please consider me present also and ask them to sing my praises or blast me heartily as the occasion requires. I hope you and Mrs. Moody are good friends and we may be able to get together much of the time this next visit. I have loved you a long time dear lady.

Very sincerely

Nicholas Vachel Lindsay. [signed]