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About The North Platte semi-weekly tribune. (North Platte, Neb.) 1895-1922 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 8, 1916)
THE SEMI-WEEKLY TRIBUNE, NORTH PLATTE, NEBRASKA.
to me Iimmw
JUDGE CLAYTON KNEW
Men knew James Whit
comb Riley and his work in
timately tell something about
the great Hoosierl&bo played
upon the heartstrings of a
nation ith his songs of
common folk and manners
O WAD Ays a poetic genius doesn't
look like one. On the street, you
might guess him to bo n business
rann or n lawyer or n prencher or
n photographer! Not since tho
time of Edgar Allan Poo have real
poets worn their hair long as In
tho coinlc pictures or affected
the soulful expression. Nowaduys
when a tnnn wenrs his hair llko
Spanish moss on n Florida ouk he
Is suspected of being hard up. And
If ho exhibits what Is supposed to
be his soul by certain shifting and staring of his
,oycs he Is pitied as one whose mental gearing
has sand In It.
Bliss Cnrinnn, former editor of the Independent
flnfl n poet of note, was one of James Whitcomb
JUIcy'a closest friends. After thfc Indiana
songster's death on July 23, Carman told much
about Riley to Mr. Joyce Kilmer of alio New ork
Times Maguzlnc and Mr. Kilmer In turn told It
(to tho public.
. Some 30 years ago Carman, was Introduced Jo
'the already famous Hoosler. Kllcy's keen bird
,llke eyes surveyed the tall framo of the now and
young acquaintance: - "Gosh, you're a stalwart,
ain't ye?" he remarked, grinning. "1 guess your ,
parents must have trained you on a trellis."
Then, ns reported by Mr. Kilmer, Carman went
on to suy:
"The next time I saw Riley was In Philadelphia.
I went to read before tho Browning society, and
I don't mind telling you that I was scared to
death. When I got out all alone on the stugo and
saw n thousand, people staring up at me 1 felt
more like running awny than doing anything else.
But when I saw" Riley down In the audience,
looking at mo In his quaint, friendly way, then
I felt nil right I wasn't afraid to read my
poetry to Riley.
"After the reading was over Ulley rucked me
.under his arm and said: 'Now, let's get around
to the hotel and we'll take off our shoes nnd
get n chew of tobacco and be comfortable.'
"You know, such remarks as this wore nil tho
more piquant because Riley was so very punc
tilious nnd scrupulous In nil his personal habits,
lie always was immaculately dressed. I never
know him even to make so .much of a conces
sion to comfort as to put on u smoking JoiWt'
or a lounge coat. But he liked to go to his room
nnd stretch himself on his bed and talk. And
he lievor talked nbout anything but literature,
chiefly poetry. 1
"Riley had n great fund of knowlcdgfe of
poetry nnd knew lots of out-of-the-way homely
verso. Ho delighted particularly In ridiculously
bad uewspnper verse.
"Riley liked to read poetry aloud. When I went
to his house of nn evening, ho generally was wait-
ling far me with some favorite book, ready to
"What sort of poetry did he prefer?" ,
"His tastes covered a wide range. Two poets
to whom ho was especially devoted wero Loug
lellow and Swinburne.
"Riley liked Longfellow's directness and sim
plicity. Tho things that pleased him In Swln
'burno's work were tho music and the deft crafts
manship. "After Riley had received his degrees from
some of tho colleges, ho seemed to feel that ho
lought to bo known as a poet, rather than ns a
humorist and writer of dialect verse.. He tried
Ihard to live up to thenamo of poet, nnd wanted
his nonsenso rhymes of his vagabondage forgot
ten. Yet bis vernacular verse, or, as he called it,
Ills dialect verse, was his chief contribution to
"Riley was Just a poet. That was all ho ever
cared to be. He was not Interested In anything
but poetry, no knew nothing of politics he had
not voted for 30 years. And ns for philosophy,
he had nothing but contempt for the modern
j thinkers. 1
' "Tficro was, something very pathetic and charm
ing nbout Riley's tenacity in holding tho serious
poet pose. His nonsenso was Just one of his ways
of writing which happened to prove popular;
when ho got a chnnco to write In another way
how eagerly he seized It, nnd how persistently ho
clung to It I
"His last years were the happiest of his life.
I think. Ho had his own car and rode around
Indianapolis and Its suburbs every day, generally
taking with him some friend. He was honored
a and loved, and I think he felt Hint life had been
7 good to him.
"Riley's father was n lawyer. His grandfather
enmo to Indiana from Pennsylvania. His grand
mother on his mother's sldo was Pennsylvania
Dutch. Hl father was Irish.
"Riley had many prejudices. Ho disliked Poo
1 irftL ftLM&mrKer
wanted to get even with him, so ho wroto his
Imltntlon of Poe, and had It published In a paper
In another part of tho state with an elaborate
story about the discovery of the mnnuscrlpt.
"At onco it made a great sensation all over
the country. It made so grcut a sensation that
Riley was terrified, and feared that he would be
accused of literary forgery. Meanwhile the edi
tor of the rival paper wrote: 'No doubt our young
friend Riley will belittle this poem nnd say It Is
not tho work of Poe. But It is Poo, and Poo's
best manner.' Tho sensation grew to such pro
portions that Rll6y had to confess that he hnd
written tho poem. And then the editor of tho
paper discharged Riley because ho had not pub
lished It In his pnper.
"Then the Indianapolis Journal gavo him a Job,
which he held for years. He wroto reuras of
nonsense verse, and wroto up In verse tho shops
of the merchants who advertised In tho .Toirrnal.
"Riley's first book was called 'The Old SWlm
mln' Hoo and 'Leven More Poems.' Ho pub
lished It himself. It sold so well that It was soon
taken over by n publisher, and pnsscd through
"Riley's exquisite penmanship showed the caro
with which ho wroto. Orlglnnlly ho wrote a care
less and rather Illegible script, but he had bo x
much dlfliculty In getting the printers to rend his
writing, and printing his dialect verso correctly,
that he took up the study of penmanship. lie
wus careful always to got the dialect of ono
pnrt of Indiana as distinct from the dialect of
any other pnrt.
'"Any man's character,' ho said, 'Is best re
membered, I suppose, by some of his habitual
gestures nnd expressions.' I remember Riley na
very dellborato In his motions, especially In his
Inst years. Smooth shaven, ruddy, well groomed,
he looked llko a benign old English bishop more
than anything else."
Mr. Don Marquis of tho New York Sun aptly
considers Riley and his poetry from'nn entirely
"James Whitcomb Riley," says he, "was tho
companion. of fairies In Arcady; for the Hoosler
belongs to a race npart. And while somo nre
enptured and broken to trnde, the gentle poef
csenped and kept nlways tho vision of hidden
With these prefutory remarks tho writer goes
on with his essay:
"There nre two sorts of Indlnnnn tho ordinary
Indlnnnn, who Is not so very different from tho
Ohlonn or tho Illlnolsnn, nnd tho noosler.
"Tho Hoosler belong not merely to a rnco opart,
but to a separate species. He Is human, but
with n difference; ho Is "nwnro of tho kinship
between humanity und tho so-cnllcd lower nnl- .
mnls (and even tho plants nnd streams) on the
one side, nnd on tho other sldo of the kinship of
humnnlty with tho elves.
"When tho moon turns tho mists to silver and
the Awls wall and the frogs wnko up along tho
creeks nnd lakes nnd the fairies saddle nnd bridle
the fireflies nnd mount them and go whirring and
flashing off In search of airy adventures tho
Roosters steal out of tho farmhouses and ham
lets nnd creep down to (ho bottom lands nnd
dance and sing nnd rnvort under the summer
stars. They do so secretly, dodging tho moro hu
mans, for secrecy Is the essence of tholr midnight,
'Mfrthe daytime they pretend they nro Just
very much, no disliked Poo'b character so much ytmkfor Indlnnans; their own brother nnd
that ho could hardly read his poetry. Of courso iere q sef"1 not ren,li?0 t"nt t''y nro Hoostcrs.
ho must huvo llkcl- Poo's music nnd splew 'ndlnnn. as elsewhere, there Is business
metrical effects. Y'J t0 attend to It, There musf have
"Of course, you know tho story of IMIT Arcady somebody owned tho flocks
mous Imitation of Poe? Ho hnd.
on tho stuff of an Anderson, Ind
editor of a rival paper kept rUUjgt,
s(a cu (
Ircndy and turned them Into
id lenther. nnd the shepherds
urfornnco of their commercial
minded masters. These Hooslers, theso wild bards
and prancing, long-legged lovers of tho moon, are
often captured and broken and tamed to trado
and Industry by .tho moro sordid, citizenry. Thoy
nro yoked to tho hnndlo end of . tho plow,
chained to tho desk; by x the hundreds nnd thou
sands they become clerks nnd salesmen nnd rail
road presidents nnd novelists and business men
of nil Sorts.
"James Whitcomb Riley was n noosler who
happily escaped; ho was never enptured, novcr
enslaved; tho things hidden from tho rest of us,
or revealed only In, flashes, remembered but
vaguely from the days of our own happy Hoo'sler-
dom, ho continued to seo stcndlly; ho lived among
them fnnllllnrly to tho end, nnd until tho end
wns their interpreter to us. 4
" 'Bud como hero .to your undo a spell,' says
Riley in effect, 'and I'll show you not only n fairy,
but a fairy who hns for tho moment chosen to be
Just as much of n Hoosler as the Raggedy Man,
or Orphant Annlo, or Old Klngry, or tho folks nt
"Tho critics rtnd tho learned doctors of liter
ature aro already debating as to whether Riley
had Imagination or only fancy. (It would bo a
terrlblo calamity to somo of them if they said
It was Imagination nnd It wns olllclnlly declurcd
later to bo merely fancy; thnt Is tho sort of
mistake that damns n critic and makes tho sons
nnd .grandsons of critics meek, hacked, apolo
getic young men.) And doubtless tho point is ex
ceedingly Importnnt For If n poet has Imagt
nation they say his work Is significant. And If
ho has only fancy his work Is not significant.
"tiio cnier merit or uiiey's dialect verse
which Is the most popular part of his production
nnd tho part with which tho critics chiefly con
cern themselves Is Its effectiveness ns a medium
for chnractcr portrayal. Whimsical, lovablo,
homely, racy, quaint,- snity, pnthotlc, humorous.
tender are his dialect poems; essentially, ho has
shown us life ;ib n superior writer of prose
sKotcnes mignt tio, adding tho charm of His lyrl
"But, personally, we nover llko him so well ns
when ho Is writing sheer moonlight nnd music.
Probably no poet who over wroto English cer-
tnlnly'no American poet got moro luscious lan
guage, than Riley. A Hwootness that Is not bo
sugury thnt It cloys, having always a winy tang.
For instnuce, from Tho Flying Islands of tho
'. . .In lost hours of lute and song,
When ho wns but a prince I but a mouth
For htm to lift up slpplngly nnd drain
,To his most ultimate of stammering sobs
And maudlin wanderings of blinded breath.. .
"Thero is no better evidence of tho genuine
ness or ituoy's sentiment, particularly in tho dla.
lect poems, than tho discretion with which ho
touches tho pathetic chord when ho touches it
at all. Ono of tho most popular poems ho over
wroto wns 'Old-Fashlotted Roses," nnd ono word
too much, ono pressure tho least bit too Insistent
would hnvo made tho thing as offensive as a
vuudcvlllo bullnd. ' Tho tnsto which told him tn
be simple nnd tho sincerity which begat tho
mwio save tno verses rrom tho reproach.
"His verses for children nnd nbout children
could only hnvo been written by n mnn wiinn
love and Understanding of children wns renl, for
children nro quick to detect and repudiate any-
m'hik ui wo son niai is -pumped up' for effect,
mm uiey conirimucu enormously to tho general
reeling of nffectlon for him. Tho retard nf M.n
children was In a way n testimonial to his per
sisting youthfulness of spirit; ho was still their
plnymnto-; perhaps it is nn earnest of Iromor-
ininy, ir immortality can be. Cortnlnlv In .
dures longer thnn anything clso. nnd thin mn
with the childlike sweetness In his iul goc
ttwtu ua itnuu UB C Ultfll naVO UCCU.
Sometimes it conies in handy foi
u United States judgo to hnvo been a
member of congress. Judgo Henry D.
Clayton, who Is oh the circuit bench ot
Alabama, not long ago was trying a
case in which tho question of n, man's
handwriting wns Involved. Under the
Alabama law It was always nccessarj
to provo a person's handwriting, and
tho admission of one's writing by com
parison could not bo taken lu ovl
denco to provo tho authenticity of a
document inttotfuccd In evidence. Th
defendnnt sought to gain n point lq
his enso by introducing n letter In tin
handwriting of ono of tho parties In-
volvcd. Judgo Clayton ruled that Uii
writing wns admissible.
Immediately tho lawyer on th
other sldo roso nnd suggested to (Ik
court that his long scrvlco In con
gress had probably mado him rust)
in tho law ; that handwriting could not
bo proved by comparison with writing
admitted ns authentic. Whereupon Judgo Clayton calmly remarked thai
whllo ho was In congress as chnlrmnn of tho Judiciary commlttob ho had
passed1 a law permitting proof of handwriting by Just such u method, and lib
referred tho contending lawyer to tho paragraph nnd pngo of tho Revised
Statutes whero tho law could bo found.
"Sometimes oven n practicing lawyer gots rusty," observed tho abashed
nttorney, ns ho sat down.
KENYON MADE THEM HUNGRY
Scnntor Kenyon stirred tho sen-
uto to n high pitch of hungor tho other
day. Ho was talking nbout child la
bor. In tho course of his talk ho
drew n plcturo of n farmer's boy sit
ting down to an old-fnshloncd conn.
try dinner. s
Tho senntor wns contrasting tho
llfo of tho factory boy and tho farm
boy. Ho said thnt whllo tho farm boy
worked In tho Holds, rested nt noon by
turning tho grindstone, milked tho
cows nnd so on, still ho went swim
ming and fishing, snw tho circus, and
had a pretty good time.
"I hnvo a very distinct recollec
tion that ns n boy on a farm I had to
pitch tho bundles to tho threshing
machine," Hnld ho. "I used to think
that wns about tho hardest work that
could possibly bo done In tho world.
"nut when you romombor tho
farmer's dinner' tho fried chicken and
mashed potatoes, and gravy, nnd corn
on tho cob, nnd tomntoes, nnd tho bread and tho butter that molted In you
mouth, nnd tho npplo plo with a piece of cheese and then you could go out
aud 116 under n tree It wns not so bad." 1
At this point thero was n general rush to tho lunchroom nnd n chorus
of orders for fried chicken.
MAYOR MITCHEL STUNG
Mayor Mltchel, Police Commis
sioner Woods and n galaxy of other
luminaries that sparkle la tho Now
York city administration's firmament
embarked on tho pollco patrol boat
at tho Buttery the other day and dis
embarked nt Fort Watlsworth, on
Stnten island. Their object was to
Inspect and rovlow tho 400 New York
city policemen undergoing military
training nt that point, but tho mayor
was badly stung.
It fell out In this manner, Tho
policemen, to do them nothing moro
than Justice, drilled In a very nblo
and vory soldierly manner.
Hovering over tho mayor's head
was a yellow-Jacket, who took lu all
these proceedings with u knowing eye.
Tho last notes of tho pollco band
hud died away, tho last; straining po
liceman had recovered- his equili
brium; It was at that moment tho
beo struck. A shock passed through
tho framo of tho mayor, his faco contorted Into n horrified grimace, and ho
mndo n frantic pass at tho buck of Ills leg. Ho was too late. Tho khakl-chula
wero already leaving tho field, and tho ycllow-Juckct wns gallantly covering
their retrent. And even whllo ho groaned Inwardly, tho pollco band suddenly
broko into tho rollicking notes of "Never Let the Sumo Beo Sting You
'IHwInn" Anil tho tniivnr tnnlc tho hint and loft. tOO.
ADMIRAL HERBERT QUICK
Herbert Quick, member of tho new-
farm loan board, looks llko a ,mng
nate, even if ho Is n farmer. Ono day
when ho went Into breukfast in
Youngs hotel In Boston, ono of tho dig
nified nnd portly negro walteru camo
over nnd filling his glasu said: "Good
mornln', general, will you huvo somo
cnnteloup?" "Yes," snld Quick, "but r
um, not a general."
The waiter Drought it and snld:
"Now, governor, will you have somo
ccrcnl?" "Yes, somo outmeal, but I
nm not a governor."
Again the wnltcr camo and said:
"Now, Judge, what "is you gwlno to
have for breakfast?" "Bring mo somo
ham and eggs," snld Quick, "but I
am not n Judgo."
As tho' meal drow to Us close the
wnltcr said: "Boss, does you mind
tellln' mo what you Is?" Quick's senso
of humor had been already aroused
nnd ho snld: "Why, no, I don't mind
telling you I nm tho ndmlrnl of tho Swiss navy." "For do Lord," said tho
negro. "I did not know Jes what you wns, but I dono know dat whatever
you was you was do top of tho heap."
Ills tlp'wa scarcely less generous thnn tho compliment.
Mr, Quick lus been many things besides admiral of tho Swiss navy,
navlng been bom nnd reared on n farm In Iown and having attended country
schools, It wan not unnatural that in later life ho should become the editor
of a farm Journal; but he also has been n teacher, a practicing lawyer,
manager of telcphono companies, associate editor of n political weekly ami
mayor of Sioux City, In his spare time ho hns written a number of novels
and numerous maguzlno articles, and he has been at times quite active lu
politics as a member of the Democratic party.
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