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A VIEW OF SALT LAKE CITY
THE MAN WHO GAVE US THE
"Graft," the word of 'wide-spread
use, is the real monument of "Josiah
Flynt," the name by which the soci
oligical writer, Josiah Flynt Willard,
was known. So declares the New
York Evening Post in summing up
the picturesque career, just closed,
of the man who was probably the
most genuine of the American ex
plorers of the "submerged" world.
"Borrow would have recognized in
'josiah Flynt' a litciary descendant,
and one influenced by the same wan
derlust," says the New York Evening
Sun. The tramp was to Flynt "a per
son to be studied with sympathetic
interest." From his writings resulted
a sort of "realistic sociology," to
which there have been many contri
butors, none of which have quite
achieved the qualities of their proto
type. Says the Evening Sun:
"The magazines have been full of
accounts of the investigations of all
sorts of inquirers, 'from the Chicago
stock-yards to society at Washington.
But the Walter Wyckoffs and so on
were lacking in the very quality that
made the man they tried to imitate
preeminent. He never took on a su
perior air or behaved with condescen
sion to those about whom he was
curious. lie was simply interested in
the life of all sorts of queer people
crooks, petty graftgrs, the enemies of
the policeman in general. The books
he wrote about them were the natural
result of the travels. The travels.
werc never undertaken for the pur
pose of writing the books. There is
an essential distinction here."
The history of the word "graft,"
now so common and inevitable as to
seem to have been created by the
thing it represents, is traced by the
Evening Post to its source in one of
Mr. Willard's books. Thus:
"When, six or seven years ago, a
volume called 'The World of Graft'
and describing the life of the 'under
world' began to attract notice, the or
dinary respectable readers had to find
out what the last word of the title
meant. They learned that it was a
jiort of thieves' Latin for the ill-gotten
gains of the powers that prey. It
applied to the petty thief's takings,
the swindler's gains, the gambler's
winnings, the corrupt policeman's
hush-money. But there was some
fascination about the word. It began
to appear in respectable company.
Gradually it lost its quotation-marks.
It lost its original meaning at the
same time; The term 'grafter' came
to be reserved for the unfaithful cm-
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ployec or public servant, the purchas-i j
ing agent who accepted secret com- f
missions, the legislator who spld hjs j
vote, the official who held an interest j
in public contracts. With that mean
ing, the word passed t)ic stage pf
slang within an almost incredibly short
period, and as yet shows no signs of
disappearing from our speech." s
Vagabondage is no new thing for
a man of good family and education,
remarks the same paper. "There is
an appeal to every one who possesses
either intellectual curiosity or love of
adventure" in the kind of exploration
that Sir Richard Burton, Dorrow, and
Charles Godfrey Leland underwent.
But "it was a sordid and depressing
world enough to which Josiah Flynt
introduced his readers." His ac- j
counts, however, were free from the f
dilettantism, continues The Post, of ,j
such writers as Richard Harding Dav- t
is, who once lived, disguised, among
the thieves of Philadelphia; of Riqharcl fl
Wihitcing and Arthur Morrison, who
have "interpreted their London of
mean streets;" of Prpfcssor Wyckoft
or Mrs. Van Vorst. To quote fur- ,
"Josiah Flynt's people, outcasts, I
criminals, and scmicriminals, abnorm- r-,
alitics generally, did not make the H
same human appeal as the gipsies or
the honest poor. He lacked the gen- J,
ins ically to ennoble his narratives, i.
however vivid and searching they '
might bc.t Pity and terror were not i
the emotions they arouscdj rather, t
plain curiosity. Such influence as i
they may have had was in their dis-
closure of corrupt alliances between
the criminal and the officers of the 1
law. Like any ordinary 'cxposer,' he jj
encountered for a time the wrath, of
those whom he had criticized, the l)
high police officials of this city, For il
a fortnight after his account of crime
in New York was published, our i
I whole police force was hunting, him fj