Where are the Originators?

Prof. Oscar Lovell Triggs, in an article recently published in the New York Times, replying to certain criticisms alleged to have been made by him, in the classroom, with reference to poetry, literature, sociology, etc., makes a somewhat elaborate explanation, in the course of which he says:—

Where, now, are the "makers," the originators, the poets in American history? Poe and Whitman perhaps in the field of literature; Washington and Lincoln, let us say, in respect to politics; Story and Marshall in the courts of law; Mrs. Eddy in the realm of religion. Plainly the creative spirit does not manifest itself greatly in these fields. We are inheritors of literature, laws, politics, and religion. We brought with us, for instance, the distinction between Catholicism and Protestantism and inherited all the disputes of the Protestant sect. We have created nothing new in religion unless it may be Christian Science. It seems to me that in one respect only have we been inventors and "makers." What we are creating on this continent is an industrial democracy. The real "poets" are working in the field of industry and upon the structure of the ideal commonwealth. A thousand others besides Mr. Rockefeller might be mentioned as showing the direction of the social energy. Some day the same social energy may issue in literature and a greater than Shakespeare may arise in the Western world. But meanwhile the best explanation I can offer my classes of the absence of a Shakespeare in America is that the Shakespeare energy is to-day absorbed in other than literary activities. Is America in the twentieth century to be considered less in the total of its energy than England in the sixteenth century?

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Hymn Inspired by Jacob's Dream
October 24, 1901

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