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PAGE 2

Whistler
by [?]

Some One must believe in you. And through touching finger-tips with this Some One, we may get in the circuit, and thus reach out to all. Self-Reliance is very excellent, but as for independence, there is no such thing. We are a part of the great Universal Life; and as one must win approval from himself, so he must receive corroboration from others: having this approval from the Elect Few, the opinions of the many matter little.

How little we know of the aspirations that wither unexpressed, and of the hopes that perish for want of the right word spoken at the right time! Out in the orchard, as I write, I see thousands and thousands of beautiful blossoms that will never become fruit for lack of vitalization–they die because they are alone.

Thoughts materialize into deeds only when Some One vitalizes by approval. Every good thing is loved into life.

Great men have ever come in groups, and the Mutual Admiration Society always figures largely. To enumerate instances would be to inflict good folks with triteness and truism. I do not wish to rob my reader of his rights–think it out for yourself, beginning with Concord and Cambridge, working backward adown the centuries.

There are two Whistlers. One tender as a woman, sensitive as a child–thirsting for love, friendship and appreciation–a dreamer of dreams, seeing visions and mounting to the heavens on the wings of his soaring fancy. This is the real Whistler. And there has always been a small Mutual Admiration Society that has appreciated, applauded and loved this Whistler; to them he has always been “Jimmy.”

The other Whistler is the jaunty little man in the funny, straight- brimmed high hat–cousin to the hat John D. Long wore for twenty years. This man in the long black coat, carrying a bamboo wand, who adjusts his monocle and throws off an epigram, who confounds the critics, befogs the lawyers, affronts millionaires from Colorado, and plays pitch and toss with words, is the Whistler known to newspaperdom. And Grub Street calls him “Jimmy,” too, but the voice of Grub Street is guttural and in it is no tender cadence–it is tone that tells, not the mere word: I have been addressed with an endearing phrase when the words stabbed. Grub Street sees only the one man and goes straightway after him with a snickersnee. To use the language of Judge Gaynor, “This artistic Jacques of the second part protects the great and tender soul of the party of the first part.”

That is it–his name is Jacques: Whistler is a fool. The fools were the wisest men at court. Shakespeare, who dearly loved a fool, belonging to the breed himself, placed his wisest sayings into the mouths of men who wore the motley. When he adorned a man with cap and bells, it was as though he had given bonds for both that man’s humanity and intelligence.

Neither Shakespeare nor any other writer of good books ever dared depart so violently from truth as to picture a fool whose heart was filled with pretense and perfidy. The fool is not malicious. Stupid people may think he is, because his language is charged with the lightning’s flash; but these be the people who do not know the difference between an incubator and an eggplant.

Touchstone, with unfailing loyalty, follows his master with quip and quirk into exile. When all, even his daughters, had forsaken King Lear, the fool bares himself to the storm and covers the shaking old man with his own cloak; and when in our day we meet the avatars of Trinculo, Costard, Mercutio and Jacques, we find they are men of tender susceptibilities, generous hearts and lavish souls.

Whistler shakes his cap, flourishes his bauble, tosses that fine head, and with tongue in cheek, asks questions and propounds conundrums that pedantry can never answer. Hence the ink-bottle, with its mark on the walls at Eisenach, and at Coniston.