My dear Davis:—

So you would give a million dollars for my exuberance? I reject the offer; it is not for sale. If there is anything a man needs in his business in this world it is exuberance — a boiling over of life-force.

You judge rightly when you say that I have still some of the illusion of youth. This same thing said by an enemy would mean differently than it does from you. But, I imagine, you have seen much of life and are no longer as young as you were once. Therefore, you will see the truth in what I wish to say.

I have illusions of youth; but I am conscious of the fact. I want to be always "the boy who wouldn't grow up".

Of old, the Greeks felt how great youth is, and so they made their gods immortally young. All poets, painters, musicians, who were given at birth the Olympian bigness, were the eternally young. May the devil pity me and my plane if I ever become blasè. Look at the face of Richard Realf, as shown in the last photograph he had taken. Behind the scars there is the spirit of the boy. I could print great bunches of paper with examples proving this great fact. God keep us young!

My friend, doesn't it take something of the spirit of a boy to make a man attempt any great labor? If he were too wise, wouldn't he give up at the start? Must we not be blind before we can really see?

If you were out here now, you poor, city-ridden man! you would see some glorious illusions. Spring is the most inspiring season of the whole year; and still behind the green and the garish riot of color there is the rotten leaf, the brown, prosaic old earth. It's all superficial - I know that. But I want to be humbugged. I don't want to see the skeleton. Give me the beautiful illusions of the flesh. I want to believe things.

Five years ago I was older than I am now. Our family had a hell of a fight to get into the air made for us. I haven't always lived in the country. I snarled at sacred things like a mad dog. I was socialistic, atheistic. I am the former now, but not the latter — altho' I never pray. My prayer is in being glad and doing my damndest. And I used to read Schopenhauer, thinking fondly of that time when I should be wiped out, and be no more than a dead dog.

But I got up and shook all that off. I took on illusions, and I am growing steadily younger. During the past month, I have proven my ability to read Shelley, Keats, Shakespere ​ works on the higher bible criticism, living in the upper air; and at the same time make a sailing boat for a boy and enjoy doing it.

From time to time I shall take on more illusions as I find those which seem beautiful.

You may be sure that I am grateful to you for the kind way in which you speak of my work. I had no idea that the Bronze Lady would take a run for office with my letter. I believe in friends. That is why I wrote her as I did. You see, I have a philosophy of life in process of construction— and part of it has to do with the making of friends and the keeping of them.

I hope you will understand the good motive which made me butt in on the question. Here again my philosophy comes in. To me it makes no difference who shall write the great poem, the great short story, the great novel, nor who shall paint the masterly picture nor who shall compose the wonderful air. What we want is the great work. The man is only the stock for the bearing of the seed. Couldn't Shelley have written as well under the name of Jones?

All of which is, doubtless, illusion. But as I said before, may the devil pity me when I am no longer blind!

Your friend,

Jno. G. Neihardt

I am very thankful for Mrs. Cornelius' letter. Altho' she is no critic, she is an intelligent Indian, and, as Andersen says, "that's something".