John Sanborn Phillips to Ida Minerva Tarbell, May 7, 1908 (fragment)


[beginning of letter missing] I am sending over [to] Charities the address by Miss Addams which she delivered at the dinner given to Mrs. Humphrey Ward. After all there is only a small part of that piece that we could use in the magazine; that is wonderful. It is such an expression as you will remember as having rarely seen or read; but it dovetails into the rest of the address and belongs with it. You can't cut it off. I am copying right here part of the letter I wrote to Mr. Kellogg of Charities about Miss Addams' work. He asked me to tell him why they were not available, and I have tried to tell him. It is as follows:

"Now referring to your letter and to these articles by Miss Addams, the reason we don't publish them is because they were so extraordinarily well adapted to their purpose, to the place, and the audience. Unconsciously, instinctively, Miss Addams has used the general ideas wonderfully expressed to help make the specific points to the particular audiences she was addressing. Now this shows what a really natural and genuine literary artist Miss Addams is. You can see that in both of these addresses there are parts that rise to general heights that anyone could understand, and that anyone would be interested in, and the expression is almost masterly in an unconscious way. But then Miss Addams comes down to the particular at once, properly, rightly, with great intelligence, in mind of the points she is after and the people she is speaking to, realizing their knowledge and their interest in the particular subject.

"I don't know that I make myself very clear, but the thing is very clear to me, and I think I have worked it out correctly.  And I want to say that if Miss Addams ever gets to the point of writing with the special view of printing, or addressing through print a large number of people with that keen understanding of what they know and don't know, she will, I [page 2] am confident, prove to be one of the most remarkable writers of our time. For she does the thing she sets out to do so well, almost perfectly, with unerring intelligence, and with illuminating words. She has the ability to endow old words with fresh meanings. Just note the beginning of this address that I am sending back, how the sentences seem like fresh bright coins from the mint."

This brings me to a point which I have had in mind lately; that is, if Miss Addams would through an autobiography endeavor to present her own views and experiences and work to this people, she could produce a book that would stand with the best of such books in our time. Really, she ought to do it. I am convinced that such a book would in its long life have a splendid and beneficent influence, that it would have more influence than the work itself, because it would show knowledge, and understanding, and sympathy, and after all unconsciously communicate Miss Addams' beautiful and wonderful personality. I wish you would speak of this to her. I wish you would yourself present to her the ideas I have tried to give in the letter to Mr. Kellogg, and tell Miss Addams that I didn't want to write them, that I felt [some way] they were very hard to express in writing -- that it was hard to give real appreciation and at the same time [explaining] the point. I thought you might translate what I have said into more personal language, and also bring up the point of the autobiography. This is, I think, a good idea. [page(s) may be missing]