“Days of happy work amid the silence of the everlasting hills, days like drops that fall from the honeycomb.”
. . . . . . . . . .
“Slow, sweet busy hours that brought me all things good.”
After my return we had to consider the winter. During the previous winter we had suffered much from the severe cold, it being impossible to warm the house, when the thermometer sank to twenty, or to even thirty below zero. After some efforts to find suitable winter quarters in the neighborhood we closed the house, and went for a week or two to the Fifth Avenue Hotel. I had a business contract pending with Mr. Edwin Bonner, and we knew that a suitable house somewhere near New York would be the best for me. There was one great trouble connected with this arrangement: we had to send our English mastiff to the kennels, and Sultan was really a very much beloved member of the family. He had been given to me by my friend Dr. Bermingham when we first went up the mountain. “It is a lonely place,” said the good doctor, “and you ladies will need a protector.” He was sent from the kennels with a pedigree as long as an English duke’s, and he was positively described as a Saint Bernard. I knew he was an English mastiff of pure breed, as soon as I saw him, and I loved him all the better for it.
Everyone’s dog does wonderfully, but Sultan excelled them all. He could nearly speak, and in the last agonies of death, he did really call “Lilly” as plainly as I could have done. He came to every meal with us, and had his plate and napkin laid next to Lilly, for between Lilly and himself there was the strongest affection. He permitted no other dog on the place, but he talked to all the dogs from far and near through the gate, and they brought him all the news of the mountain. Sometimes he brought it to us, and we always listened and answered, “Is that possible, Sultan?” and he would give a little bark of assent, and lie down to consider it. He liked me to be prettily dressed, and always showed his satisfaction in some unmistakable way. He was most polite to company, met them at the gate, and conducted them to the parlor, invariably lying down at the feet of the prettiest and best dressed person in the company. If I was in England he watched for the mail with Lilly, and listened attentively while she read my letter to him. When she came to the words, “Mamma and Alice send their love to Sultan,” he always answered the message with a little bark of pleasure. Oh, indeed, I could tell still more wonderful things of this affectionate creature, but they would raise a doubt. No one could believe them, unless they had lived with the splendid fellow, and known him as we did. So it was hard to part with him, even for a week or two, but he was large as a mastiff of pure blood can be, and the proprietors of the Fifth Avenue Hotel would not hear of him as a guest.
We went to the hotel on October, the seventeenth, and between that date and the twenty-seventh I made a contract with Mr. Bonner for four serials. I was to deliver two each year, and he was to pay me twenty-five hundred dollars for each, in all, ten thousand dollars. In the meantime Lilly had found a house in East Orange, which was thoroughly warmed, and we moved into it on October the twenty-fifth, and brought Sultan home with us.
We were soon comfortably settled, and on the first of January I had finished the ninth chapter of my first serial for Mr. Edwin Bonner, called “A Sister to Esau.” On the eighth of February it was finished. But the press of business, and the proposals of various publishers, seems to have really made me very unhappy. In a note on the twenty-third of February, when I had had a great deal of business to attend to, I wrote at night, “I am sad and weary with the day, and feel terribly unfit for the considerations I have to face. I have a sense of being politely bullied, and of having suffered a loss of some kind—spiritual, mental or financial—perhaps something in all respects.”
I was much interrupted by callers in East Orange, a great many of whom brought manuscripts, which they were sure I would like to read, and could easily place for them. I had a heartache for the peace and solitude of the little cottage on the mountain. Now the dream of every English man and woman is a home of their own, and I saw this to be a possibility now; and I could think of no place but Cherry Croft. I wanted it for my own. Then I could put in a proper furnace and make it habitable all the year round.
I had finished Mr. Bonner’s serial on the eighth of February; on the fifteenth of February, I began for Lippincott’s “A Rose of A Hundred Leaves.” Its heroine, Aspatria, was one of my favorites. She dwelt among the Fells in one of those large, comfortable farm or manor houses, occupied for centuries by the Sheep Lords of the North Country. I always knew what she was going to do. Sometimes I have wondered, if Amelia had once been Aspatria. Her brothers seemed so near and real to me, and she lived in just such a home, as I have had glimpses of, whenever the Past comes back to me. I finished the book on the fifteenth of March, and Mr. Mead praised the story, which pleased me, because it was the first time he had ever expressed satisfaction with my work.
On the twentieth I went to Cornwall, and bought Cherry Croft, paying for it six thousand dollars in cash. Some told me I had paid too much, others too little, but I was satisfied. The house was not worth much, but there was nearly four acres of land full of fruit and forest trees. And there were the mountains, and the river, and the wide valley view, and that general peace and quiet, that has in it a kind of sacramental efficacy.
“Cherry Croft,” Cornwall-on-Hudson
I had at this time a great deal of trouble with English houses printing my work, without either payment or permission, and a laughable but provoking incident occurred with the proof-reading of “A Sister to Esau.” In this story, my chief character is a Scotch gentleman, of the most perfervid Calvinism, and the period of the story was the glorious ecclesiastical “departure” of the Free Kirk. Now Mr. Bonner’s proofreader happened to be a strict, strait Methodist, and he altered all the Calvinism to Methodism, which was sheer nonsense in the mouth of a Scotch Chief, and a seceding Free Kirker. However as soon as I explained the circumstances to Mr. Bonner he had the text restored as written, with many apologies for his Methodist proofreader’s conscience.
The whole summer was spent in writing Mr. Bonner’s second serial, “Love for an Hour Is Love Forever;” and in attending to the alterations going on in my home. Every room that was papered and painted afresh, was a new pleasure; and I had a fine garden, and began to plant vines, and to make an asparagus bed. Also, I made preparations for the winter’s comfort by putting in a hot water furnace, and then I began a novelette called “Femmetia’s Experience” for Mr. Bonner. It was a reincarnation story, and had a large sale, though at the time, the doctrine was but looming up on my spiritual horizon. The main facts of this story had been told me by an old lady when I lived in Boroughbridge, and was only twelve years old. Dr. Deems came to see us just as I had finished the story, and I spoke of its tendency and he said he had a strong leaning to the old heresy, that it had never died out of the heart and imaginations of men, and was steadily gaining a new growth.
I ought to have had a very happy summer, for I had my own home, good health, and all the work that I could do; but how often below this calm idyllic surface of life, there is some fateful, domestic sorrow! It is likely met with the heroism and devoted affection of the old Greek tragedy, but there it is! and it has to be borne as best it may. I found in love and work the strength and consolation, the heavy-hearted of the Greek world never knew. It brings tears to my eyes yet, to read the short, pitiful entries of that cruel November. Yet I finished “Femmetia’s Experience” and wrote also a novelette for Bonner called “The Mate of the Easter Bell,” and other short articles. For in mental grief, mental work is a great salvation. I worked hard, though I was often compelled to lay down my pencil to seek the strength and comfort found only by “fleeing to the Rock that is higher than I.” At the last, all was well. The gay handsome Captain M—— passed out of our lives, and Lilly bore the breaking of the tie better than I expected.
I must not forget that in the midst of this trouble one of the dearest friends I still possess came into my life. It was Rutger Bleecker Jewett, the son of the learned Professor Jewett, of the General Theological Seminary. Through the December cold and deep snow, he climbed Storm King, one afternoon, and stepped into the light and warmth of Cherry Croft, like an incarnation of splendid youth and hope. He brought his welcome with him. With open hearts, and both hands we all met him, and he was free of my home from that hour. His father and mother were my friends, but I had never met Rutger before. Yet in a recent letter he writes, “I have always felt that we were old friends from the first—never strangers. It was as though we had met again, after an absence, not as though we were meeting for the first time. I also cherish vivid memories of you later in our old graystone house in Chelsea Square. The old house with its deep windows, big old-fashioned rooms, and vine-covered walls, has been replaced by a modern building, no more comfortable, and nowhere so picturesque as the house we knew. It is more than twenty years since I first came to Cherry Croft—twenty years of unbroken trust and friendship—a very rich possession to me.”
And to me also. As opportunity offered, I have often sought his advice or help, and he has never failed me.
On January tenth I began “A Singer from the Sea,” Mr. Bonner’s third serial. On the twenty-second I was at the Astor Library all day, and at Rossiter Johnson’s at a reception in the evening; Mr. Jewett went with me. On the twenty-third Mr. McClure and Mr. Ballistier took lunch with me at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and Mr. McClure would have been very generous to me for some stories, but my engagement with Mr. Bonner prevented any business. I was at Mrs. Dodge’s in the afternoon, and among the numerous visitors picked out Edith Thomas at once. I took dinner at Dr. Jewett’s and watched with delight Mrs. Jewett dancing with her sons and daughters.
On March fifteenth I finished “A Singer from the Sea” and then began “Michael and Theodora” for Mrs. Dodge, which I did not finish until June; and in July I began “Girls of a Feather,” Mr. Bonner’s last serial, which I finished in October. I was busy all summer in having a fence put round Cherry Croft, and a hedge planted within the fence. During October I wrote an article for the North American Review called “Flirting Wives;” I had my little green house filled with bulbs and flowers, and planted with my own hands, and many tender memories, some laburnum trees. They were my mother’s favorite, and I can see them dropping golden flowers all around our pretty garden in the Isle of Man.
On November sixth I began the “Flower of Gala Water” which Bonner published after its serialization in the new Godey’s Magazine, and on the eleventh we were honored and delighted with a visit from Dr. William Hayes Ward, who spent the week end with us. A little event of this visit remains like a picture on my memory. There was some question about a text in the Epistles, and Dr. Ward took from his vest pocket a small Testament. He said he had carried it there for many years. “Then it is not a revised Testament?” I asked. And he looked at the little book affectionately, and answered, “No.” Yet the doctor had been on the committee of revision. But I understood. For me there is no version but the King James Version, and nothing could make me give it up. I have only one copy of the revised edition, and that Dr. Talmage inscribed to me with such extravagant encomiums, that I leave it lying on my parlor table, as a kind of certificate of moral health.
During 1892 I had written “The Singer from the Sea” and “Girls of a Feather,” “The Flower of Gala Water” and “The Preacher’s Daughter,” “Michael and Theodora” and several articles. My eyes were very tired, and I did not do so much during January, 1893. On the twenty-third, I began an article for Mr. Bok called “Why Literary Women Do Not Marry” and on the twenty-ninth, I began my novel called “Prisoners of Conscience.” It was then a short story, and was published in the Century Magazine, but was later enlarged to book size, and published by the Century Company. During the month I also wrote another article for Mr. Bok called “Women’s Weapons.”
In March, I wrote “The Lone House.” A study of this story had appeared in the Christian Union. It was a good book, but Rutger told me the young people said it was “too religious,” and they wished I would go back to my love stories. So I began “Bernicia,” a love story among people of the first condition. But on my sixty-fourth birthday I became very ill with ulcerated sore throat, and on the fourth of April was in such a dangerous condition, that I sent for a New York specialist. I came near to death, but recovered slowly, and on June sixth I took Alice and went to England.
It was not until the beginning of 1895, that I was able to take up “Bernicia,” but during the same interval, I had written a story and several articles for the Bacheller Syndicate. From the eighteenth to the twenty-first of January I was in New York paying a visit to Mrs. Goldschmidt. The first afternoon we went together to a large studio reception. There were all sorts of professional people there, but I remember no one but Mrs. Frank Leslie. She was then Mrs. Wilde, I believe. The next day Mrs. Goldschmidt gave a dinner, and I sat next to General Collis, but liked Mr. John Wise and his beautiful wife best of all. I believe they were Virginians. The day following there was a crowded reception, and a supper party, and I sat next to Moncure Conway and Mrs. Frank Leslie. For the next night there was a theatre party, and a supper at the Waldorf. More weary than if I had written a book, I went home in the morning. I was grateful for the kindness shown me but very sorry indeed for the people who called it “life” and lived it.
On my sixty-fifth birthday I was still on “Bernicia,” but I had been very sick, and had a great deal of trouble of a heartaching quality, but though I complain a little to my diary, I add, “Truly I am old and weary, but with Thy help, O God, I am young, and strong, and ready to mount up as on eagles’ wings. Thy loving kindness faileth not!”
I finished “Bernicia” on the twentieth of April, and found a couplet from the Sufi poets, which pleased me so much, I will copy it here:
“The Writer of our Destiny is a fair writer;
Never wrote He that which would wrong us.”
I was very ill with nervous dyspepsia during June, but on July second accepted the proposal of the New York Herald, to run for one of the three judges of the ten thousand dollars prize offered by that paper for the best novel submitted to it. My vote was so large, that it was at this time the Herald said I must be “the best beloved woman in the country.” Mr. George Parsons Lathrop and Mr. Hazeltine were my colleagues.
After this I wrote “The Knight of the Nets” for the Herald. “Discontented Women” for the North American Review—for which article Mr. Rideing the editor wrote me a letter of thanks, a story for the Home Queen, and other small items.
On the twenty-sixth of September Lilly married Mr. Edward A. Munro, a Canadian whose business was in Brooklyn. It was an overwhelming trial to me, for Lilly had been my right hand in all affairs since her father’s death. It is true that ten words by telegraph never yet failed to bring her to my side by the next possible train, but the house was empty and forlorn without her; and both Alice and I were desolate. However life is a constant learning “to do without” until that wonderful, “never-coming-back,” we call death, restores to us all that we have lost.
On December twenty-second, our dear Sultan died. We buried him in Cherry Croft, and were all heart-broken. Alas!
“There’s sorrow enough in the natural way,
From men and women to fill our day:
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware,
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.”—Kipling.
January twelfth, 1896, Mrs. Goldschmidt had opened her house in Cornwall and Mr. Wilcox, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the artist Arter and Mrs. Arter and others were staying there. I took dinner with them, and that evening made up my mind that large parties were a mistake. A man’s family is never too many, because perfect freedom and unanimity of interest make them one. But with strangers there should be no more guests than the host can personally entertain. The Ettrick Shepherd’s “Rule of Three” is a good one, both as regards the guests and the courses. Every one has been to crowded and extravagant dinners, where they played the hypocrite for three or four hours, and said a fervent “Thank God!” when it was over.
Two days after this dinner I was in New York to attend Edward Bok’s reception—I think at the Waldorf Astoria. I should call it a mob, and not a reception. I had with me Dr. Lysander Dickerman, but even his splendid physical bulk, could not make a way for me through the crowd. The next day he came to Cornwall with me, and with Dr. and Mrs. Stone, who called to see him, we had a delightful evening. I wish I had space to say more of Dr. Dickerman, but there must be many living yet who remember his piety, his vast stores of learning, his attractive personality and fine conversational powers. The next morning Mr. Paul, a London editor, came in and brought me his last book.
On the twenty-seventh of this January, 1896, I made an arrangement with Mr. Dodd to enlarge “The Knight of the Nets” for a book, for which they agreed to pay eight hundred dollars on January, 1897. Then I went out to spend the weekend with Irving Bacheller at his home in Port Chester. He had a beautiful place there, and a lovely wife, and I enjoyed my holiday very much. Mr. Bacheller was a good performer on the organ, which astonished me, and yet it need not have done so, for men seem to play with little or no effort. He was a fine driver also, and I saw the villages of Greenwich and Belle Haven. Professor Gaines dined one evening with us, and my visit to Mr. and Mrs. Bacheller is full of pleasant memories.
I returned to New York on Monday morning, Mr. Bacheller coming with me. I intended spending the day in the Astor Library, but when we reached Astor Place, Mr. Bacheller said suddenly, “I am going to see Louis Klopsch, and I want you to go with me.”
“Who is Louis Klopsch?” I asked.
“The proprietor of the Christian Herald.”
“Oh!” I replied. “Do you think he will care to see me?”
“He will be glad to see you, and I dare promise, that you will be the better for seeing him.”
So I went to see Louis Klopsch, and it was one of the happiest and the most profitable things I ever did. We found him in his private office, and the room was in itself remarkable. It had an ornate, Eastern look; the windows were shaded with tinted glass, and there was an oil painting of “The Descent from the Cross” covering a large space of the western wall, while other Biblical pictures and models were everywhere to be seen; giving it the Oriental look of which I have spoken. And I had never seen such handsome furniture and appointments in any editor’s or even publisher’s office. I thought of the rather large closets, with their plain wooden chairs and simple desks, in which Harper’s editors sat; of the slips in which George Merriam, and Moses Coit Tyler wrote and read; the poverty of all the editorial offices I had ever seen flashed across my memory, as I sat amid the color, beauty and luxury of the office of the Christian Herald.
Dr. Klopsch rose as we entered, and with smiles came to meet us. Mr. Bacheller hastened away, I stayed nearly two hours, and they went like ten minutes. At the end of our interview, I was astonished at my first estimate of his countenance. I had then thought it remarkable, but not handsome; but I soon understood that it was the only face, that could have expressed his complex inner man, as well as properly manifest his slight, graceful personality. He had charming manners, and walked with a kind of alert grace. I have been particular about Dr. Klopsch’s appearance, for I came to know him well, both in a business and a social way, and I suspect he could appear very different, to people with whom he was not in sympathy.
I went home on the first of February, and found so many letters I could do nothing on the second but answer them. Among the writers were Mrs. Libbey, and Mr. Rideing; the latter sent me a check for seventy-five dollars in payment for “Discontented Women.” On the eleventh, I went to Princeton, and remained with the Libbeys until the fourteenth, when I returned to New York, and dined with the Rideings. I liked to go to the Rideings; there was always such a sweet, old English air and influence about their home and dinners. I think they spent their summers in England, and never quite lost its atmosphere.
On the sixteenth I began to rewrite “The Knight of the Nets” for Mr. Dodd; and on the twenty-first I signed a contract with Dr. Klopsch to write him a serial for the Christian Herald for twenty-five hundred dollars. I also saw Mr. Booth King about a short story of four chapters for his paper called Fashion and promised to write it for five hundred dollars. Then I worked on “The Knight of the Nets” all the rest of February.
On the fourth of March I was again in New York attending a play and supper at Colonel Robert Ingersoll’s. Mr. Jewett went with me. I remember nothing about the play, but I shall never forget Robert Ingersoll. I know all that has been said against him. It does not alter my fixed opinion that in practice he was one of the best Christians I ever knew. He has gone to the Mercy of the Merciful One, and I can only remember his wonderful intelligence, and personal charm.
On March nineteenth the Sorosis Club gave me a breakfast at the Waldorf, at which I met Mrs. Helmuth, Jennie June (Mrs. Croly) and many other notable women. I returned home after the affair, and the next day went to work on Mr. King’s story called, “I Will Marry My Own First Love.” I did not finish it until the thirty-first, for though I had contracted for twelve thousand words, I wrote twenty-one thousand, because I could not properly develop the story with less work.
March, the twenty-ninth, was my sixty-fifth birthday. I was writing all day on the story for Mr. King. “In the evening I sat with Lilly and Alice in the firelight, and talked of God’s wonderful care over us. Alice said many comforting things. So sweet and good is the dear One! We used the new blue dinner service for the first time.” (Diary, 1896.)
I was on “The Knight of the Nets” again until the twentieth of April, when I got a letter from Mr. Charles Frohman, about “The Bow of Orange Ribbon.” On the twenty-first I made a contract with him to dramatize it, if I could, about which fact I was doubtful. I had already realized that a play was not to write, but to build. Mr. Frohman gave me a box for that night’s performance of “The Prisoner of Zenda” and Mr. Edward Dodd and Mr. Bacheller occupied it with me. Before trying the play, I finished “The Knight of the Nets” so often delayed and put aside. This was not until the eleventh of May.
I gave nearly two weeks to the play, but felt it was not technically right, and Mr. Frohman in a kindly and gentlemanly manner told me so. And I was sorry at my failure to do what he wished. It made me nervous and sick, and I went to stay a few days at Elwyn, with Dr. Martin Barr.
This clever, delightful physician is not, I regret to say, any relative of mine, but we are the best of friends, and I always resort to him for advice when sick, and other physicians fail me. Only three months ago I did so with the usual success. He is the head of the Elwyn State Institution for Insanity in many forms, and an exceedingly clever physician and social scientist.
As the Elwyn Institution is very near to Swartmoor College I visited Professor De Gama, its principal at that time, and was delighted with him, and his large body of male and female students. He took me through the building, until we came to a door leading into a separate wing of the house. He told me he could not pass this door, as it led to the quarter sacred to the women students. “But,” he added, “go down the corridor, and you will find plenty of friends.”
I did so, and seeing a door open, and a room full of girls, I stood and looked at them. There was an instant pause, and then a little joyful cry of “Amelia Barr! Amelia Barr!” Afterwards I had as happy an hour as any woman could have, and standing among that joyous, handsome crowd of young, lovely girls, and hearing their sweet voices call me, “Friend Amelia,” I felt young again. And my thoughts flew instantly to the fair streets of Kendal, on First Day morning, full of beautiful, richly-gowned Quaker girls, going to meeting, while the magical chimes of Kendal Church filled the still air above them with heavenly melody. And every morning, as long as I remained at Elwyn, I found on my breakfast table a bouquet from the girls of Elwyn College. May God bless every one of them, wherever they now dwell!
On the first of June, I began a story for Dr. Klopsch called “The King’s Highway.” It is a good story, but would have been better, if I had not received so many instructions from the editors of the Christian Herald. It had an unique acknowledgment from Mr. Thomas E. Clarke of Minneapolis, who sent me a copy of a story called “The King’s Highway” in the Dakota language.
On the twenty-second of June, I was at a dinner party given to Julian Hawthorne on his fiftieth birthday, and had the pleasure of sitting between Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. Hazeltine. I know there was a very fine dinner, but as to the feast of reason and the flow of soul, if it was remarkable I have quite forgotten all about it. Yet with Hawthorne and Hazeltine present, many clever things must have been said. The two items that impressed me, was the beautiful gown of Mrs. Richard Stoddard, and the wreath of laurel that crowned the chair in which Julian Hawthorne sat.
On the ninth of July I was so tired, that I took my work to Nantasket and stayed there two weeks. It was then a quiet seaside resort, I believe it is now a kind of Coney Island. But I met pleasant people, and saw the New Englander on his native soil, and liked him so much, that I wrote the following poem to express my admiration of his character:
They intended to go to Virginia,
But God at the wheel said, “No!
The hundred that I have chosen,
To the cold, white North shall go.
I will temper them there as by fire,
I will try them a hundred fold,
I will shake them with all its tempests,
I will steady them with its cold.”
So these men from the English meadows
By the pitiless Plymouth Bay,
Learned well the worth of their Freedom,
By the price they had to pay.
But out of the fires of affliction,
The tumult and struggle of wars,
They brought forth her glorious banner,
Its azure all shining with stars.
The Hundred has grown to a nation,
The wilderness blooms like the rose,
And all through the South and the West
Go the men of the ice and the snows.
But wherever they go, they carry
The strength of their forefather’s fight—
The courage and moral uprightness,
Of men who prefer to do right.
On July thirty-first, I had a letter from my sister Alethia who was staying a few weeks at Castletown in the Isle of Man. In this letter she told me she had been with a marble cutter to Kirk Malew churchyard and had had Captain Thomas Huddleston’s grave stone cleaned and all the moss and lichen removed from the lettering. My readers may remember that he was captain of the Great Harry and was bringing home troops from America, when his ship was wrecked on Scarlet Rocks, every one on board perishing. And she told me, that when the stone was cleaned, she noticed that this tragedy occurred on the twenty-ninth of March, so that Captain Thomas Henry Huddleston and his son Henry died on the day that I was born.
Early in August I finished “The King’s Highway” and began to try to dramatize “The Bow of Orange Ribbon.” I did not stop for anything except to visit Mr. Hearst’s Children’s Republic near Haverstraw, and to write an article about it. I finished the play in September, and Mr. Frohman was so far pleased with it that he promised to find a playwright who understood stage business to work with me. On the twenty-fourth, he introduced me to Mr. August Thomas, who agreed to direct the work as soon as I came to the city for the winter.
October was a very busy month. I wrote half a dozen articles for Dr. Klopsch, and on the twentieth I went to Princeton to attend a great anniversary. I stayed with my old pupil, Professor William Libbey, and Professor Wheeler of the California University, the author of a fascinating “Life of Alexander the Great,” was there with me. Professor Jacobus and Mrs. Jacobus were also there, and at night I went to a college concert with Mrs. Libbey. On the twenty-first I went to Alexander Hall with Mrs. Libbey and heard Henry Van Dyke deliver a splendid poem written by himself called “The Builders.” After it, I was unable to decide whether he was greater as an orator, or a poet. On the twenty-second I saw the degrees given, heard Mr. Cleveland speak, and then went to a reception at President Patton’s. On the third of the following March, I had a letter from Moses Coit Tyler in which he says:
My dear Mrs. Barr:
I had from my colleague Wheeler a faithful account of his talk with you at Princeton last fall, and of your kind message to me. I’m sorry that I can’t send you a portrait of the literary editor of the Christian Union as he looked twenty-four years ago, when he was that great man. So I must ask you to accept this his latest portrait, which may tell you that these years which have crowned you with laurels, have crowned him with gray hairs. All the same he is
Moses Coit Tyler.
March 30, 1897.
On the twenty-fourth I was at home and wrote an article for Dr. Klopsch on the Armenian question, and on the twenty-sixth I went to a great meeting in Carnegie Hall, called to sympathize with the persecuted Armenian Christians. This meeting was chiefly memorable to me, because I met there Dr. Burrell. He made the great speech of the occasion, and as I sat beside him on the platform I heard and enjoyed every word of it. As an orator, I do not think he has many equals, and his voice is very fine and resonant, and his gestures expressive and pleasing.
During all the month I had been working as I found opportunity on the “Prisoners of Conscience” enlarging it for the Century Company, but I also wrote an article for the Advance on the “Four Champions of Justification by Faith”—Paul, St. Augustine, Luther and John Wesley. At the close of October I saw Mr. Frohman again, and he told me Mr. Thomas wanted one thousand dollars to go over the play, and he would not give it. He was most kind and gentlemanly, but I think this disappointment wearied him. I knew how he felt, because I also was weary of work that wouldn’t be manageable, and I laid it aside without any regret, and returned gladly to “Prisoners of Conscience.”
On the twelfth of November I was in New York, and going into Mr. Dodd’s store then on Fifth Avenue about Twenty-second Street, I met there Barrie and Mrs. Barrie, and Robertson Nicoll, a distinguished editor and publisher of London. I thought Mrs. Barrie a lovely and most attractive woman, and I was proud to take the hand of the famous Scotch novelist.
On the twenty-third of November I went to New York for the winter. I had not finished “Prisoners of Conscience,” but Alice was so exceedingly psychic, I thought it best to take her away from the solitude of Cherry Croft to the material stir of the city. We went to the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the proprietors of which house always made such favorable terms for me, that it was a point of economy in the winter to go there.
On the twenty-seventh, Mr. Frank Dodd asked me to a reception given to Ian McLaren, and on the same day Mr. Sankey gave me a pass to the Moody and Sankey meetings. I did not like Ian McLaren much, but I did like the stir of human feeling in the other invitation, and Mr. Sankey’s singing pleased me, for my taste had not been either trained, or spoiled, by too much classical music; and Sankey’s singing had in it, not only a fine lyrical cry, but also that “touch of Nature, which makes all men kin.”
On the twelfth of this December, Mrs. Klopsch called on me, and then and there began the sweetest friendship that has come into my life. I love beauty, and she was, and still is, very beautiful; and her kind, cheerful disposition made her ten times more so. From that hour I have loved her dearly, nay, but I think I must have loved her somewhere long before that hour, for our attachment was always full grown. And I count her love among the best blessings that God has given me.
On the seventeenth, Mrs. Libbey called and brought me the Professor’s photo in cap and gown. He looked very grave and handsome, and I could not help thinking of the days, in which I had given him music lessons, and cut many a slice of bread and jelly for him, when he came into my cottage, after a morning on the ice. Mr. Jewett took dinner with me and I finished “Prisoners of Conscience.” On Christmas morning Mr. Jewett entered my parlor with armsful of laurel and mistletoe, and dressed it beautifully; and Lilly and her husband came over from Brooklyn to dine with me. I believe in good dinners. In some way or other domestic happiness has a fundamental dependence on them, they are conducive to amiable understandings. They are a festal sacrifice to household love, and sacred friendship, and intellectual recreation; and they are necessary to every kind of success. Only the Scotsman “who is fit for anything when he is half-starved” may neglect his dinner, and not injure his fortune.
The year 1897 has a record similar to the one just described. I spent the first three months at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and then returned joyfully to Cherry Croft, and remained there until near the close of the year. It will be sufficient, if I now note the days containing distinctive events; for instance, on the seventh of January I addressed the men at the Bowery Mission, and on the fifteenth began a story for the Bacheller Syndicate, called “The Price She Paid.” Lilly was sick with grippe, and I missed her daily visit very much. On the twenty-ninth Mr. Thomas called again about the play, and I returned to it, but with little heart, though working under his direction. On the seventeenth of February I wrote “still working hard, but hopelessly on my play. I have finished the second act, and Mr. Thomas professes to be satisfied, even pleased; but then he is a very courteous gentleman.” On the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh I was at the Astor Library, and had a long comforting talk with Mr. Beauregard on reincarnation and other spiritual subjects.
On the fourth of March, Mr. Thomas came and appeared well satisfied with what I had done, and on the ninth Mr. Frank Dodd called and contracted for my next two stories. On the eleventh Mr. Beauregard dined with me, and afterwards lectured in my parlor on occultism. The rooms were crowded, and every one much interested. On the thirteenth I made tea at the Author’s Club, having General Sickles at my left hand. I took a dislike to him, perhaps unjustly, but the Southern gallantry I had admired forty years ago, seemed out of place in a man so old, and a company calm and intellectual. The following day I was at Mr. Robert Underwood Johnson’s to dinner. His now famous son was present, a dark handsome youth, with the quiet thoughtful eyes of dreaming genius.
I spent the evening of the twenty-first at Mr. Dana’s, and saw all his wonderful collection of pottery. Very carefully he unlocked for me the box that held the famous Peach Blow jar, and I will tell the truth, and acknowledge that I was insensible to its beauty. I thought I had seen far lovelier vases. Rutger Jewett was with me, and on the twenty-fifth I was at Dr. Jewett’s to tea. On the twenty-sixth Dr. Klopsch asked me to go to India with the ship load of corn and wheat which American women had given to the famine sufferers. He wished me to go as the representative of these American women. My children would not allow me to accept the offer, which I regretted. The twenty-ninth was my sixty-sixth birthday, and all my rooms were full of flowers, but Lilly had gone to Cornwall, and could not come, so there was a little shadow on it. I spent the afternoon of the thirty-first at Colonel Ingersoll’s and met there Andrew White, our Minister to Berlin, a most interesting man. He was just publishing a book and promised to send me a copy.
On the first of April I came back to Cherry Croft. Lilly had gone there three days previously, and the house was warm, everything in order, and a loving smiling welcome waiting me. I was very happy to be home again. On the third, Mr. Frohman wrote me that he was disappointed in the play. So was I. I had wasted a deal of time and strength on it, and I felt I was doing so, all the time I was working on it.
All the first week in May was spent in trying to see my way clear to go with Dr. Klopsch to India, about which he was urgent. But Alice was mentally very sick, and Mary and Lilly would not hear of the journey, the cholera being at that time very bad there. On June the thirteenth, the Reverend Mr. Boyd of Chicago preached a sermon against the “Prisoners of Conscience” which the Century Company had just issued in book form. On the twenty-second, the Chicago Times Herald published my defence; and Dr. Boyd’s sermon was only a splendid advertisement for the story. In July, I was busy finishing my new novel “I, Thou and the Other” but in August, I left it a week to write a story for the Bacheller Syndicate, called “Judith of Keyes Grif.”
On the twenty-sixth of September I was writing a story for Leslie’s called “The Lost I. O. U.” and on the twenty-eighth I had a letter from Dodd, Mead and Company saying they liked “I, Thou and the Other” very much. There was nothing out of the usual course of events in October, but a dinner which I gave, and which, quite unintentionally on my part, consisted only of three clergymen. One day the Reverend Mr. Snedeker, the Methodist preacher at Newburgh, told me many interesting things about Father McGlyn, his offence against the Church, and his summons to appear before some spiritual court at Rome. I said, “I should like to see any man, who had been brave enough to offend the powerful prelates of Rome;” and Mr. Snedeker answered, “He wishes to meet you.” “Then come to-morrow,” I replied, “come to dinner, and there is a fine moon to light you home.” He gladly accepted the invitation, and the next morning I sent and asked Mr. Page, our Episcopal minister, to dine with them.
It was a remarkable meeting. Father McGlyn told us all about his visit to Rome, and his interview with the Pope; then he went to Alice’s room, and blessed her, and blessed her altar, and prayed with her. For he had quickly discerned the spirit within her, and with a beautiful humility said it was greater and purer than his own. I shall never forget Father McGlyn. As a social man he was a failure, as a priest of God he was worthy of all honor.
On October the fifteenth, Professor and Mrs. Libbey sent for me to hear the Earl of Aberdeen and President Cleveland speak, but I did not go. A month afterwards I went to the Fifth Avenue Hotel for the winter at the same favorable terms. I noticed that there was a great crowd at dinner but I had a long, pleasant talk in the green parlor after it with Mr. and Mrs. Tom Platt. I liked both thoroughly. Mrs. Platt worked me a most exquisite center piece, and Mr. Platt wrote his name in the corner. This autograph I embroidered, and the beautiful square lies to this day over the green velvet cover of my dining-room table.
The next day I took lunch with the Mount Holyoke AlumnŠ, and made an address on “The Neighbor at Our Gate,” a most important person, for we may choose our friends, but we cannot choose our neighbor. We have to take him as he is, and make the best of him.
On December the second, Miss Jewett, Mrs. Platt, and Mrs. Lockhart of Pittsburgh, and Mr. and Mrs. Saltus spent the evening with me, and I received an invitation to address the Congregational Club on January twenty-eighth, 1898; which I promised to do conditionally. On the seventh, Edward Bok called and I promised to write some short things for him. But I was really too tired to do anything, and was compelled to stay away from Mr. Rideing’s reception on that day, and even Rutger’s happy presence was almost more than I could respond to.
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