Posts Tagged ‘Writers’

“People Count Themselves to Death in This Life”

September 24, 2012

Image from Today in Literature

Superior Sagas

By INEZ ROBB

This country has run plumb out of frontier. But despite the laments of the pessimists, it has not run out of the bold, freewheeling pioneer spirit before which the frontier vanished.

That, says an expert (borrowing from Freud) is the reason we Americans are crazy about westerns; We read ’em by the thousands to sublimate our intense yearning to pack up the covered-wagon and git for the great open spaces.

And that goes for President Eisenhower, too, who is one of the most consecrated devotees of western fiction in the country.
So says Louis L’Amour (his square name), walking encyclopedia of the Old West and author of “Hondo” and other superior sagas of the wild and woolly.

“The American is still a tough hombre, rough and ready, no matter what sociologists say about the debilitating effects of central heating, can openers and air-conditioned autos,” said L’Amour when I cornered him for luncheon the other day.

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Product of West

A product of the Old West and the descendant of pioneers, at least one of whom lost his hair to the Sioux, the author bases this heartening appraisal of his fellow citizens in part on his experience with them in a tank destroyer unit in Europe during World War II.

“It may take a jolt to waken that tough, rough and ready streak in him, but he’s got it, even here in the effete East,” says L’Amour.

Born in North Dakota, this is one western author who spent his childhood playing cowboy and Indians with real cowboys and bona fide Indians. There he began to collect, subconsciously, the extraordinary range of western lore that makes the background of his western as authentic and factual as a history of the period.

“I’ve got no time for this Hopalong Cassidy stuff,” said L’Amour, who looks as big and rough hewn as any of his heroes. Having committed heresy, he went on to say that his hero gets the girl, if any, and doesn’t have to go around kissing horses in the sunset.

Even though the Indians scalped his great-grandfather, the author has affection and respect for the noble Redskin and treats him as a man with problems, mainly the pale face, in his fiction.

Not only is L’Amour recognized as a real long-hair student of the Old West as pertains to the pioneers but as an expert on the American Indian, his life and hard times. The two fields mesh and L’Amour is toying with the idea of writing a dictionary or encyclopedia on both.

Most Americans today, he pointed out, don’t even know such elementary facts as why the pioneer used oxen rather than horses or mules on the trek west, or how much goods and gear a covered wagon held.

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Lot More Tasty

Fully loaded, the wagon would tote 2500 pounds. And nature provided the oxen with large hoofs which didn’t sink into sand or sod as did the dainty hoofs of horses and mules. And, in addition, oxen were a lot more tasty in the stew pot if worse came to worst and an animal had to be killed for food.

L’Amour always intended to be an author, but never of westerns. His first novels were about the East Indies, on which he is also an expert. In fact, this inexhaustible man is a student and expert on a dizzying number of subjects, Indian archeology and the 12th Century, to name two.

He recently signed a contract to do two novels on the 12th Century theme. But in the intermin, he has a number of novels on the fire for Americans who long for a home where the buffalo roam and who, when they settle down with a good book, begin to hum “Don’t Fence Me In.”

Albuquerque Tribune (Alburquerque, New Mexico) Aug 12, 1954

This Writer’s Life Better Than Stories

By HAL DOYLE

NEW YORK (AP) — “People count themselves to death in this life,” said Louis L’Amour, declining to give his age.

With L’Amour, one of America’s  most prolific adventure writers, keeping his age to himself isn’t a matter of vanity. It’s a philosophy.

“It isn’t the number of years you’ve lived that’s important,” he said, “It’s a mistake to measure living in terms of years. It’s how you’ve spent the years that puts real meaning into existence.”

Judged by most standards, L’Amour has had enough experiences to last the ordinary man through several reincarnations.

The average adventure writer is a swivel chair dreamer who would think twice before picking a quarrel with his dentist.  L’Amour not only looks like the adventure heroes he writes about — he probably could whip one of his own heroes in a fight with either fist or gun.

The big 6-foot-1 inch author weighs 200 and is a judo expert as well as an authority on desert or jungle survival. He has been a sailor, a miner, a hobo, a professional boxer — he won 54 bouts, lost 5 — and an antitank combat officer in World War II.

At 15 he left his home in Jamestown, N.D., and joined a circus as the first step in a search for adventure that has carried him to almost every place in the world.

“Even then I knew I wanted to write,” he recalled. “But I figured I could learn more out of school than in it. I felt I had to see life before I could write about it.”

“I had 200 stories rejected before I sold my first one for $10,” he recalled.

His career has now reached the jackpot stage. He has published more than 400 short stories, turned out half a dozen adventure novels, including “Hondo,” made into a movie starring John Wayne, to whom he bears a strong physical resemblance. Recently he sold a magazine serial for $15,000, sat down and wrote another book, “We Shape the Land,” in 55 hours at the typewriter in 5 days.

L’Amour, whose own experiences have proved a fruitful gold mine, has no patience with people who think of adventure as something limited to the glamerous past.

“It isn’t,” he said soberly. “There is more adventure alive in the world today than there ever was, plenty of unexplored places. Adventure is there waiting for any man with the courage to go and find it. But you’ll never discover it by looking at the calendar — and counting yourself to death.”

Abilene Reporter News (Abilene, Texas) Apr 25, 1955

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Proving, once again,  that “going to school” is not the same thing as “receiving an education”:

Anderson Daily Bulletin (Anderson, Indiana) Sep 16, 1954

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Panaman City News (Panama City, Florida) Jul 16, 1969

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One of several Louis L’Amour books made into a movie:

Hammond Times (Hammond, Indiana) Sep 27, 1956

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A real “corker” of a quote:

The Daily Intelligencer (Doylestown, Pennsylvania) Dec 27, 1955

American Mind

March 20, 2012

Image from Impressions of Niagra

AMERICAN MIND.

[The following complimentary tribute to the active intellect of our country, is from the pen of Lady EMMELINE STUART WORTLEY, and was written since her recent tour through the Northern States.]

Wand’rers! whose feet, like mine, ne’r press’d before
This proud, magnificiently – various shore —
Wand’rers! who speed from many a distant zone
To gaze on Nature’s transatlantic throne —
Ne’er lightly view the thousand scenes sublime
Of great America’s resplendant clime,
But still, in thoughtful mood’s observant care,
Weigh well the many mingling glories there,
Since all the loftier wonders of the land
Are most admired — when best ye understand!
It’s a gracious study for the soul,
As, part by part, the Heav’n stamp’d leaves unroll; —
Not only all-majestic Nature here
Speaks to each kindling thought, but far and near
A large and mighty meaning seems to lurk,
A glorious mind is every where at work !
A bold, grand spirit rules and reigns around,
And sanctifies the common air and ground ;
And glorifies the lowliest herb and stone
With conscious tints and touches of its own ;
A spirit ever flashing back the sun,
That scorns each prize while aught is to be won ;
More boundless than the prairie’s wondrous sweep,
Or the old Atlantic’s long resounding deep,
And more luxuriant than the forest’s crowd
Of patriarch trees, by weightiest foliage bow’d —
More rich than California’s teeming mould,
Whose hoarded sunbeams laugh to living gold —
More soaring far than the immemorial hills —
More fresh and flowing than their streams and rills —
That mind of quenchless energy and power,
Which springs from strength to strength, hour after hour —
Man’s glorious mind in its most glorious mood,
That seems for aye, on every side to brood,
In this empurpled and exultant land,
So gladly bow’d beneath its bright command —
Man’s glorious mind on its most glorious march —
High spinning earth, like Heav’n’s own rainbow arch.
That soul,  that mind, ’tis every where reveal’d!
It crowns the steep, it gilds the cultured field,
It charms the wild, and paves the rushing stream,
And scarce allows the sun a vagrant beam;
It tames the rugged soil of rocks, and flings
From seas to seas the shadow of its wings,
(And Time and Space in that great shadow rest,
And watch to serve their ruler-sons’ behest.)
And still its growing, gathering influence spreads,
And still abroad its own great life it sheds
O’er mount and lake, o’er cataract, field and flood,
O’er rock, and cave, and isle, o’er plain and wood,
It lives, it lightens, and in might inspires
Each separate scene with fresh creative fires.
Where’er it moves a Wondering World awakes,
And still all nature’s face its likeness takes;
It quickens s—, and kindles and pervades
Her startled deserts and receding shades,
Her mightiest solitudes and paths unknown,
Her hidden shrines and well-springs pure and lone —
Hung — as The Heavens are hung above them all,
And holding their sublimest powers in thrall !

Tioga Eagle (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Dec 5, 1849

*This version is slightly different than the one found online. Maybe it had been reworked after this was first published.

The real traveler is born, not made. The urge to wander is close kin to that which drives the explorer out beyond the end of the trail and like it gives peace and rest only in assailing action. There is something terrifying to the homekeeping about the genuine traveler, and woe unto such as falls under his domination to be dragged everywhere and nowhere, only to be turned about and started elsewhere. The species is usually masculine, regardless of sex, and when the wanderer chances to be a woman there is likely to be a rare excellence about the accomplishments, the spirit in the doing, and especially about the records kept for the timid at home. Such is the case with Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley and her narratives of American, Spanish and Syrian journeys.

It was in the spring of the year 1849 that Lady Emmeline and her daughter Victoria set out for America to begin the travels here described. The mother was the second daughter of John Henry, fifth Duke of Rutland, and the widow of Charles Stuart-Wortley, second son of the first Lord Warncliffe. The daughter was soon to become one of Queen Victoria’s maids of honor. The one was already a confirmed traveler, at home in Russia, Holland, Italy and the Near East; the other was a child of twelve years whose goings and comings were shaped by a will not her own. A notable and interesting pair to view America at the end of that Fabulous Forties.

They landed in New York after a passage of eleven days, took one glance at the “ever teeming, tumultuous Broadway,” and then hurried toward Niagra Falls, the mecca of all Europeans in those days. This was the beginning of an itinerary that led along the eastern coast from Boston to Washington, turned westward down the Ohio to St. Louis and southward on the tawny Mississippi to New Orleans; a few days in Mobile, a few more at the capital of Mexico, a turning back to Havana and then into the flood that ran gold-thirsty across the Isthmus toward California. They did not enter the land of gold, but went down to Peru as the farthest point of interest before retracing their steps to Jamaica and back to old world wanderings in Spain and Syria.

The original letters from which Mrs. Cust has constructed the American portion of her narrative have long been in print. They were first published in 1851 under the title “Travels in the United States,” and were gratefully received by a self-conscious people hungry for commendation. A few bits from the younger traveler, however, have been added and the whole woven into a running story heavily sprinkled with quotations from the “diaries, letters and published books.” Strange to say, the original charm has not been lost in the process. Mrs. Cust has selected well to preserve the best comments on the American scene, and in the added narratives on Spain and Syria she has given us a chance to follow these delightful observers still farther.

The main interest of the American reader probably will be in the keen observations made on our means of travel, our thriving cities and our ways of life in those spacious days of national youth. Few salient features escaped them. The floating palaces on the rivers which, under driving competition, carried passengers for less than one-sixth of a penny per mile, the tow-boats almost hidden by the freighted crafts they propeller, the wrecked steamboats, product of collision and explosion, all told buoyant, careless material growth and the attendant growing pains. Yet amid such hurry the railway trains checked speed to allow a lady to cross the tracks and stopped entirely to allow a worried bridegroom to go back to seek the lost bride.

“Eager and go-ahead as they are,” burst out the good lady, “the Americans are the most philosophically patient travelers in the world.”

The cities showed startling evidences of too rapid growth. New York seemed  “a vortex of sound and fury,” Boston a “strange chaos of commerce” where great ships leaned “as if tired” against crowding warehouses; Washington, filled with Negroes and pigs, “would be a beautiful city if it were built”; St. Louis, recently swept by fire and disease, was rising so rapidly that buildings seemed every morning to be about a story higher than when left the preceding night, and New Orleans, smothered with cotton, had a touch of “Spanish grace and Parisian fashion” mingled with an American push and energy manifest at wharf and slave market.

The trip across the Isthmus gave opportunity to see the gulf rush. Dauntless men, fighting river, jungle, disease and passion, yet ever cheerful with their “Ho! for California”; yet something about them seemed to indicate that they went to build a civilization more than to find gold. A royal lady, meanwhile, holding her own with them!

These are [examples?] of American customs — mixed bathing at the beaches, the use of iced drinks, anti-foreign sentiments, etc. — that round out the picture and give the work historical value. And there are, of course, the equally entertaining narratives of journeys in Spain and Syria for those who wish to follow a genuine traveler back to the old world. It is a book worth reading for pleasure or for information.

(“Wanderers,” by Mrs. Henry Cust; New York Coward-McCann)

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Feb 17, 1929

Title: Travels in the United States, etc: during 1849 and 1850
Author: Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley
Publisher: Harper & brothers, 1851
(Google ebook LINK)

*I didn’t find the Wanderers  version by Cust online.

PAST AWAY.

In looking over the list of our Contributors for the past year, in order to count our strength in the present, we find that death has taken one the number, whose last contribution to the pages of this work was written from Marsailles, prelusive of those wanderings in the East which have ended so fatally. We allude to the death of Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley, whose poems and lively prose sketches so frequently appeared in these pages. Her Ladyship’s death was characteristic of her active energetic nature. In May last, whilst riding in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, Lady Emmeline had the misfortune to have her leg fractured by the kick of a mule. Notwithstanding the weakened state of her Ladyship’s constitution, she persisted in undertaking the journey from Beyrout to Aleppo, returning by an unfrequented road across the Lebanon. Lady Emmeline reached Beyrout on the 26th of October; but, in spite of the unremitting attention of Dr. Saquet, the French government physician, and two other medical gentlemen, her frame was so weakened and exhausted by the excessive fatigue of the journey, that she gradually sunk and expired on the night of the 29th. Her Ladyship was an authoress of repute, and had probably traveled more than any other lady of her distinguished birth. A daughter of the present Duke of Rutland, her Ladyship married, in 1831, the Hon. Charles Stuart-Wortley (brother of the late Lord Wharncliffe), who died in 1844. Generous, kindly, and genial, she will be long remembered and regretted by those who had the pleasure of knowing her.

Title: THE LADIES’ COMPANION AND MONTHLY MAGAZINE VOL IX
Published: 1856
Page 41