The Diary of James A. Garfield

    Source citation
    Brown, Harry James and Frederick D. Williams, eds. The Diary of James A. Garfield. Vol. 1. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1967, p. 296-297.
    Author (from)
    James Garfield
    Date Certainty
    Don Sailer
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible.
    MONDAY, 19. Left on the 7.15 train for Garrettsville. Read Aurora Leigh on the way. John Ruskin says it is the greatest poem the century has produced. I have much sympathy with this statement–though I know the assumption contained in the statement. There is a great power and boldness of illustration in the whole poem. She does not seem afraid or morbidly modest and wherever her convictions lead her, thither she goes with her woman’s foot unfaltering and without daintiness. The chief power that an author has over me is in expressing a great cumulative world truth that embraces and exhausts a whole field in its enunciation and elucidation. Now Elizabeth Barrett Browning possesses this in an extraordinary degree. There is sometimes a torn edge of passion that shows itself in her thought but its roughness results rather from the energy of her tread than from her lack of taste.
           I presume there is a lack of esthetic culture in me, but I must acknowledge that I cannot find any responsive echo to all her talk about art, used technically, I mean. There is something so exoteric, so outré, in talking about art rather than thinking thoughts. Reach Hiram in time for my last class in the forenoon. Classes went very well. Cold dreary night. Some disagreeable work to do tomorrow–some students to be disciplined. I must lecture tomorrow morning but don’t yet know what. Late and cold and I will try to sleep.
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