With Walt Whitman in Camden, by Horace Traubel
Copyright 1996 by Fellowship of Friends. All Rights Reserved.

On Criticism

Sunday, November 1, 1891

Wallace remarked that he had never read anything of Ingersoll's except the Whitman lecture. W. as to that (with a laughing merry musical tone), "That's largely a pouring out of his emotional nature--not so much a tribute to what I am as to what he has heard I am or ought to be. That's the origin of what I called out when you first came here--that you should, yes, come to be disillusioned." But was not sympathy at the base of all real criticism? Was it to be made to appear less? W. then warmly, "No, not at all--I did not mean that. Bacon--some cute fellow, I think Bacon--has said that no man can criticize another, do him justice, anyway compass, measure, him--except out of an enthusiasm, or the fire that lights up, moves, enthusiasm--from affection, from such a point of view. That of course is the justification of the Colonel: his point of view--his radiant lovingness--his capacity to receive, accept, keep--with none of the damned pessimisms or inquisitionals, or all that, to interrupt, becloud--for which, through which, all criticism, anywhere, is made null and void."