There are eras in which men deal with life as if they were bewitched. The earth-scene seems enchanted, and men are figures walking in the unreality of a dream. In such times writers and artists deal with appearances, with half-truths, with shallow moralities, with trifling issues. Such a time was the Gilded Age when the energies of the country lay supine sapped by the Civil War. It was a fruitful period for clowns, for American humorists. The people were hurt too badly to laugh except hysterically, and they were too self-respecting to cry. The eyes of one man saw through the sorcery of the late sixties and the seventies. It was Walt Whitman in Democratic Vistas. He was hurt and was not ashamed of it; he was old and not afraid to cry. He was not a clown, but a seer and he told his country what was the matter with it. He did this in 1871 when Twain was finishing Roughing It, when he was lecturing and making money by burlesquing the follies of the human race.