Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blogs of Old and Books of Today

While doing further research on another brilliant idea I have, I thought I would go ahead and post this on a book I found.

The other day I found a beautifully bound book Every=Day Thoughts by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, W.B. Conkey Company, Chicago; 1901.

When I removed it from the shelf at our local used book store, I had no idea who Ella W. Wilcox was. The reason I took it from the shelf was the binding. Then I took a further look, a glance at a page or two or more. I had a hard time stopping.
It occurred to me it was a “blog” of 104 “posts” from 1901.

Of course upon further investigation at the computer, I learned about Mrs. Wilcox. She was a poet, everyday man's poetry and she was a philosopher. Actually she was a follower of theosophy. That is a mixture of religion and philosophy.
In her poem “Solitude” she wrote the famous line” laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone”. (As you read the wikipedia biography you will find a mention of Sinclair Lewis and Babbitt. Apparently Mr. Lewis did not consider Mrs. Wilcox a great literary genius.)

Many of the “posts” contained in the book are short and to the point. Most are just 2 or 3 short pages.
The author covers many subjects. Most of her writings in this book are in answer to questions posed by her followers, readers. She uses her poetry as a means in some chapters.

Though she considers herself to be a “religious” person, she writes about “Our Empty Churches” (Chapter LX) in response to a young woman
“...telling us that New Yorkers are pagans, because sixty-five percent of us do not go to church.” She answers with some of her theosophy answers. “Every day I am newly surprised to find people I had supposed to be given over to creeds, or to agnosticism, sweeping into line with the great army of devout and forceful thinkers in this new school of theology.”(p. 200)

I put the previous paragraph in here to get your attention. Now that I have it. Here is another “Blog of Old” excerpt in which the Mrs Wilcox gives advice to someone seeking guidance about his unfaithful wife:
“It is one of life's terrible jests, when a man with so much soul and heart and feeling, is mated with a frivolous and worthless woman-- a woman so devoid of the power of appreciation of God's greatest blessings, that she can give up such a love for the cheap pleasures of a third-class theatrical career.”(p. 114)

She writes about “love affairs”. She offers advice to mothers, wives, and husbands on things such money matters, disrespectful children. She writes in one chapter of the need of moderation between seeking poverty or seeking extreme wealth. The author devotes one “Blog post” is on the care of animals. Lest you be misled by the quotation above she is very much for women earning their own way when they have talent.

In all her posts Mrs. Wilcox preaches patience with the changing world. She encourages cleanliness, smiles, and forgiveness. And, thus far in reading from this “blog of old”, I find only one mention of reincarnation. I have not read it all-I hesitate to do so. This book is old and even reading it causes it problems. So I now have to figure out how to keep it in good shape and yet read from it.

In another book written by Mrs. Wilcox, poetry, you will find beautiful, really, “photographic life studies”. Maurine is the title.
hereis the Google Books link.

If you can find some of her “columns”, you will probably find as I have she is a nice person with a “religion” that is quite different. What an interesting person she must have been.

I enjoy these “old blogs” we sometimes call books. But in particular, this book by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is so much like blog posts it is eerie. It also reminds me of some of the books of today-put together and published collections of columns of so-called pundits, or …

The first time I bought a “book” by a present-day columnist, I was disappointed to find it was really nothing but a compendium of columns they had written. I thought I was going to get more of the reasons the columnist writes what he or she writes. I know they are really great writers but hey books are not cheap these days so at least warn me. ( I know I should have checked it out better before I paid good money for it-I was in a hurry.)

Yet, I bought the old one and was thrilled. So, I guess if I can enjoy the “Blogs of Old” I should be more open about the “Books of Today.” After all they are both suited to those of us with short attention spans.


  1. I think it would have been great to have known this poet.

    I like old books especially ones with owners names in them or old library books with the check out card in them.. I like to think of those people that read what I now read. I have one of the poetry books that the wiki article mentions so I have some of her work and I plan to read some of them..

    I enjoyed reading this. I hope to have time to look for the book, and I hope you can enjoy it without losing it.

    Very nice

  2. thomas,
    Thanks for commenting.
    The book is beautiful. Gold designs on the cover and the binding and gold edging on the tops of the pages.
    The little illustrations are neat, small, but neat. And any photo of her is great. She has that very femine 1800's look.
    There is poetry in it as well.
    Interesting that you have one her books.
    We have many books from library or school sales and yes it is interesting to see the check out cards.

  3. I didn't mean that I have one of her books... I do want to have time to look for the book you have there.. I have the poetry collection, Best Loved Poems of The American People by Hazel Felleman and It is a very old copy that Becky's mom gave her some years ago. The Wiki article mentions it. I have looked in inside the book you have written about at amazon I do want to read more of it.

  4. I beg your pardon. My misreading here.
    Anyway I never knew she wrote that line that I always heard as "Laugh and the world...Cry and you cry alone".
    Then there is one that says "laugh all day, cry all night."
    The whole theosophy thing is interesting.
    I had not heard of it before finding the book by Mrs. Wilcox.

  5. I didn't so much think that you misread as I miswrote. But, at any rate I see no need for you to apologize. I hope I didn't sound like I was offended in anyway, just wanted to make sure that I didn't mislead.

    Indeed, her religious views are very interesting. I have often wondered how all of the religions could have God involved in them if they are all different (I don't think God is in some of them). I have pondered this for many years and could only conclude that God is far more omnipotent and omniscient than we can really fathom.

    I didn't know the author of those famous lines either.

  6. Thomas,
    I remember round about the age of 30 thinking how there must be something to most religions as the "stories" are so similar-if you think about it.