and said timidly that he had read of the steeple-climber's offer, and would be glad to ascend the spire on his back. I was amazed, and tried to point out to Hearn the peril of the thing. He would not listen. Finally my desire to get a 'good story' overcame my scruples, and I told Hearn I'd arrange the matter with the steeple-climber. I thought the latter was making a hugh bluff for business and advertising ends, but I was mistaken. He was as zealous as Hearn. Well, I brought the two together. They arranged their end of the feat, and I washed my hands of further responsibility for either the steeple-climber's or Hearn's safety.
"At the appointed time Hearn mounted the steeple-climber's shoulders, and the dizzy journey began. Tens of thousands of people watched the foolhardy pair. At last the cross was reached and Hearn left his perch on the climber's shoulders. The steeplejack swarmed up the cross and stood on his head upon the apex of it. The mob in the streets below cheered the daring fellow, but he was so high up in the air that the cheers were inaudible. The two men returned to the ground safely. Hearn came back to the office and sat down and wrote two columns of a story describing his sensations and the glories of the view he had obtained from the steeple top. It was literature, this story, and it is regretable that it has been lost in the obscurity of a forgotten newspaper. Such a glowing description of a city seen from a great height I never read before or since. The most interesting thing about it to me was the fact that Hearn couldn't see five feet beyond the tip of his nose, so myopic, was he.
"Since that day in Cincinnati Hearn has become one of the best writers this country has ever produced. His descriptive power is not exceeded even by Gautier, Flaubert or De Maupassant, and yet the Frenchmen had the advantage of Hearn in that they could see the things they described. Hearn could not. His descriptive powers were due wholly to his glowing imagination. Once an humble reporter, Hearn stands among the foremost living writers of English. He always had a love for the Orient and its philosophies, and I am not surprised to learn of his successful career in Japan."
MARY ANN HEARN, better known as Marianne Farningham, the non de plume over which she writes for the press.
MARIANNE FARNINGHAM HEARN lives at No. 12 Watkin Terrace,
[Continued on page 726]
Thanks to Catherine Bradford for transcribing this page.
Copyright (c) 1999, 2007 Brian Cragun.