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Appendix V: Letters

The following letters are a few taken from a great number as evidence of the faithfulness with which my work has been done, but more especially interesting as showing the marked individuality of the different writers. It is in the latter respect I offer them to a public already well acquainted with most of their names and work.

New Haven,
December 24, 1889.

Mrs. Amelia E. Barr,

Dear Madam:

Many thanks for your kind note. My criticisms of “Friend Olivia” addressed themselves only to minute points of historical accuracy, and I fear that some of them may have seemed to you, what the Germans call spitz-findig. This you will pardon, however, when you consider that my duty was to pick all the small holes that I could. As regards historical accuracy in a larger and far more important sense, I think that you have succeeded admirably in catching the atmosphere of feeling of the period, and especially the spirit of the Friends. It must be hard to think back into a past century in this way.

In any case, I am sure that you have made a very charming story, and one which I shall re-read with much greater pleasure, when I no longer have to read it pencil in hand, in search of microscopic slips in the chronology, etc.

Very respectfully,

Henry S. Beers.

Kelp Rock,
New Castle, N.H.,
Oct. 14th, 1887.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

Mrs. Stedman has written our appreciation of your charming remembrance of us, but I must have a word of my own. My wife said to me, that “she loved you at first sight,” but she was too Saxon to write this to you, and being Saxon, it was a most unusual thing for her to feel, or say. As for me, I have not forgotten the evening you made so pleasant for us, in which your instant suggestions for my Christmas poem, explained to me the rapid and ceaseless inventiveness, displayed in your succession of books. Another one is out, as I see by the papers, so I have another pleasure in store. You might not soon see a review of your “Border Shepherdess” which came out in Wednesday’s Boston Advertiser; so I enclose it to you. Competitive criticism usually stings somebody; in this case, your neighbor Mr. Roe suffers; and he really seems one of the most unselfish and agreeable members of our Authors’ Club in N.Y. I presume you have seen the other notice from the Tribune, whose literary editors are justly proud of your tales. Of course, I shall see you in town this winter.

Very sincerely yours,

E. C. Stedman.

Montclair, N.J.,
Oct. 2, 1896.

A beautiful story, dear Mrs. Barr, is “Prisoners of Conscience.” I have just finished it, and am moved to say “thank you.” Noble characters, rich in human and divine love, yet frozen into poverty of life, by that awful logic with which saintly fools shut out the sunlight of God’s heart, and shut in men’s souls to despair.

It is a sad tale but made well worth your strong, fine telling of it, by the illumination of David’s life, when God’s truth has set him free. Such a tale is worth unnumbered barrels of sermons, and whole libraries of theologic disputation.

What a wide range you are getting! It is a far cry from the dainty romance of “The Bow of Orange Ribbon” to “Prisoners of Conscience,” but all fresh, unhackneyed, in fields of your own finding out. I have not read all your books, but I never read one, without vowing to get at the others. They are instinct with life, one feels them true, however distant and unfamiliar the scene, however strange the types of characters. And they are so full of joyous sympathy with youth and love and brightness, so tender and understanding of trouble and grief, and stress of soul, so large and noble in the interpretation of spiritual aspiration, that they must be twice blessed—to us your readers, and to you the bountiful giver.

Well pardon this little outburst! Since the early Christian Union days I have always felt a peculiar interest and pleasure in your growing success, and have regretted that circumstances should have carried me into lines of work, that did not give me the pleasure of an association with it, which I should have so greatly enjoyed. But your well built ships have been skillfully piloted, and I wish you ever fair seas, and many a happy voyage.

Sincerely your friend,


Christian Herald
91 to 102 Bible House
May 6, 1897.

Mrs. Amelia E. Barr,
Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Dear Mrs. Barr:

From present prospects we will have five or six vessels sailing for India laden with corn, and I still think it would be a grand thing if you could see your way clear to join us on our India expedition; and be among those, who at Calcutta, will represent Christian America, and transfer this enormous contribution into the hands of those who will gladly and honestly administer it; so that it may do the greatest good to the greatest number, but I presume the heat deters you from going. A three days’ journey through the Suez Canal and Red Sea, is not one of the most delightful excursions, but what there is beyond, will more than compensate for the discomforts endured. Should you change your mind do please let me know at once, that I may arrange for your trip.

With kindest regards, and best wishes, I am

Very cordially yours,

L. Klopsch.

Princeton, N.J.
Nov. 11, ’09.

My dear Mrs Barr:

I can not tell you how touched I was in receiving just now your new book with its tender dedication.[9--To William Libbey, Senior, My First Friend in New York. Mr. Libbey, Senior, was then dead, but he knew.] I shall have to confess it brought the moisture to my eyes, and I really appreciate it all so deeply.

Now come to us, and let us both show you how much we think of you. I know that Alice can be happy here for a little while at least, and you would make us very happy; you describe those forty years beautifully, let us celebrate the anniversary.

It is needless to say that I shall read the volume with pleasure. I always do enjoy your stories, and they are about the only stories I ever read.

Give our love to Alice, and believe us both to be your loving and admiring friends.

Yours very truly,

William Libbey.

Newburyport, Mass.
March 14, 1890.

My dear Friend,
Amelia E. Barr:

I cannot approach thee with the formality of a stranger, for my enjoyment of thy “Friend Olivia” has been such, that I have many times almost had pen in hand to express my thanks, and now that my cousin, John G. Whittier, has kindly allowed me to read thy letter of 9th inst., and I find that our past generations were akin in the Quaker faith, I hesitate no longer to give thee a cordial heart greeting. While following thy charming story from month to month in the pages of the Century Magazine, we have admired what seemed to us a true portrayal of the Christian spirit in which Friends met their various trials, amid the stormy times of the 17th century. Thy early associations at Ulverstone, Swarthmore and Kendal, so rich as that region must be in Quaker tradition, were doubtless as thou remarkest of great service in preparing thee for this work, and I rejoice that George Fox and his coadjutors have thus been so nobly and beautifully defended.

Hoping thou may sometime visit New England, and give thy many friends here opportunity to thank thee in person, for the pleasure thou hast given them, I am

Gratefully thine,

Gertrude W. Cortland.

Point Loma,
Nov. 29, 1911.

My dear Mrs Barr:

I am most honored and pleased to receive your kind letter in which you give me an inside view as to certain resemblances between the historic character Peter Stuyvesant, and his modern replica—Theodore. I am reading the book with unusual interest, because of your thought in this particular. The story ought, and no doubt will have a wide reading, especially from New Yorkers, who hark back to the olden days when the metropolis had its beginning. More welcome to me, however, than is the story, is the token your letter furnishes, that I still remain in your kindly remembrance.

It is a pleasure to think of you so strong, and vital in mind, in the full ripeness of your years.

When you come into my thought, our friends Mr. and Mrs. Klopsch come in your company, and the pleasant evening hours spent with you in their home, delightfully repeat themselves. Should we come to New York again, I shall spare no effort to see you. Mrs. Gage desires much to meet you, and it would be a joy to entertain you, if we could, in our California home.

With best wishes for you and yours, in which my wife begs to join, I am

Your friend,

Lyman Gage.


A. Barton Hepburn, President.

June 23, 1910.

Mrs. Amelia E. Barr,

My dear Madame:

They say all “Scotch” is better for being diluted. That indicates one claim to goodness which I possess, but the answer to the question you submit can better be supplied, I am sure, by an “undiluted” Scotchman.

I am therefore sending your letter to the Secretary of our Society, Mr. William M. MacLean, with the request that he furnish data to enable me to reply, or reply direct. You will hear further presently.

Trusting he may be able to discover the information you desire, I am

Very truly yours,

A. B. Hepburn,
President, St. Andrew’s Society.

Eighty-three Cedar Street,
New York

November 23, 1912.

Mrs. Amelia E. Barr,

My dear Mrs Barr:

I received from your publishers yesterday, “A Maid of Old New York,” and shall employ my first leisure in reading the same.

I thank you very much for your courtesy and also for your letter. I shall note the reincarnation of Peter Stuyvesant with interest. I always enjoyed the three Dutch Governors—Wouter Van Twiller was rather a favorite of mine. I remember Washington Irving’s description of him as a man who conceived his ideas upon such a magnificent scale, that he did not have room in his mind to turn them over, and therefore, saw but one side of a question.

Again thanking you,

Very truly yours,

A. B. Hepburn.

Dear Mrs. Barr:

It hardly seems to me possible that I have let a month go by without writing to thank you for your kind thought in sending me yourself a copy of “The Lion’s Whelp.” Mr. Cleveland has been ill most of that time, and that accounts for many of my shortcomings. I want to thank you now, and to tell you, how much pleasure the reading of the book gave Mr. Cleveland while he was still in bed. I have not had time to read it yet myself, but I have the pleasure of possession, direct from your hand—and the other pleasure of reading still in store.

With many thanks and all good wishes for the New Year and Christmas time,

Very sincerely,

Frances F. Cleveland.

13, Dec., 1901.
Westland, Princeton.

My dear Mrs Barr:

Even in this time of great sorrow, I can not forbear to thank you for your book—“Prisoners of Conscience.” I have wandered in the Shetland and Orkneys, and crossed the Pentland Firth, and know the bleakness of the islands, and the wildness of the seas that moan around them. I have journeyed too through the desolate creed of Calvinism, and fought with its despairs in my soul, standing by many a death bed, and beside many an open grave, until God gave me victory over the cruel logics of men, that belied His loving heart. Years ago, as you know, freedom came to my soul through the truth as it is in Jesus, and I have been trying to preach it ever since. I am grateful to you, for the power, the depth of feeling, the intense earnestness, with which you have told this truth in your noble story—God and Little Children—you know my creed. And I will preach it in the Presbyterian church as long as I am permitted, because that church needs it most. And now it comes to me with a new meaning, for my own dear little Bernard is with God in His Heaven, which is full of happy children.

Faithfully yours,

Henry Van Dyke.

220 Madison Avenue,
July 28, ’97.

My dear Mrs Barr:

Jewett brought the book—the novel and I read every word with pleasure, in spite of the grief and sorrow, the pain and anguish that came to the hearts of the brave and good. Every thing in the book is consistent, harmonious. The religion of the people, the cruel creed, the poor and stingy soil—the bleak skies, the sad and stormy sea, the wailing winds, the narrow lives and the poverty, the fierce hatred and the unchanging loves of the fanatic fisher folk, are all the natural parents, and the natural children. They belong together. You have painted these sad pictures with great skill. You have given the extremes, from the old woman who like the God of Calvin lived only for revenge, to the dear widow who refused to marry again, fearing that her babes might be fuel for hell. The story is terribly sad and frightfully true. But it is true to Nature—Nature that produces and destroys without intention, and without regret—Nature, the mother and murderer of us all.

You have written a great book, and you are a great woman, and with all my heart I wish you long life, and all the happiness your heart can hold.

Yours always,

R. G. Ingersoll.

The recent death of Robert Barr will give interest to the following letter:


Aug. 10, 1901.

Dear Mrs. Barr:

I was very glad indeed to receive a letter from you. I hope you are all well on your hilltop. I have not been in America since I saw you at Atlantic City. I intended to go this summer, but I am off tomorrow to Switzerland instead. I spent all last winter on the Island of Capri in the Bay of Naples.

Your remark about loving your neighbors, but keeping up the fence between, is awfully good, quite the best thing I’ve heard in a year. Our neighbors on the side next you are Scotch people, who own a tea plantation in India, and we like them very much, but there is a fine thick English hawthorn hedge between. My ten acres of Surrey is hedged all round, except the front which faces the ancient Pilgrim’s Way, and there I have built a park fence of oak, which is said to last as long as a brick wall. It is six feet high, and can neither be seen through, nor jumped over.

Mary L. Bisland has been staying in Norfolk. She was in London last week, and I invited her out here, but her married sister, and her sister’s husband were with her, and she couldn’t come. She is coming in October. I met her on the street quite unexpectedly last Wednesday. London is so large, that it always seems strange to me that anybody ever meets anybody one knows. Mary was certainly looking extremely well, but she says her nerves are wrong. She suffers from too much New York apparently.

Your books are the most popular in the land. I see them everywhere. There was a struggle in this neighborhood for your autograph, when it got abroad that I had a letter from you. I refused to give up this letter, but the envelope was reft from me by a charming young lady, daughter of a Scotch doctor of London, whose country residence is out here.

I hope you are well, and that all your daughters are well, more especially the young lady I met at Atlantic City. I trust she has not forgotten me.

Yours most sincerely,

Robert Barr.

The Congregational Home Missionary Society
Bible House, Astor Place, New York.

May 13th, 1897.

Dear Mrs. Barr:

What shall I say of your book? That I read it through in one night, which proves my interest—that I have read parts of it—the last three chapters—more than once, and that I envy the hand that can strike such a blow at the cruelest caricature of God, the Father, ever invented by man, the child.

Thank you for many happy hours. Please go right on, smashing idols, letting light into superstitions, and emancipating consciences until the Millennium; which will dawn about the time when you have finished the job.

Sincerely yours,

Joseph B. Clark.

Oh, let me say the style was a feast of Saxon to one who loves the language of the people, as I do.

The Century
7 West Forty-Third Street.

My dear Mrs Barr:

I should have written long since to thank you for your “Bernicia,” but the month of April was a very busy one, and the composition and delivering of a very long course of lectures at Yale University, left no time for correspondence, however attractive. But the journeys to and from New Haven, made a pleasant opportunity to follow in imagination the pictures of your charming heroine, and I found much delight in your fresh and simple story, told with the same skill, which appears in all your work. I am greatly obliged to you for giving me this pleasure.

Believe me, dear Mrs. Barr,

Very cordially yours,

Henry van Dyke.

May 19, 1896.

Cornell University
Department of American History
Ithaca, N.Y.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

I am delighted to have from your own hand your new novel “Bernicia,” and am sure that I shall greatly enjoy it myself, and take pleasure in suggesting to others the same source of enjoyment.

How well do I remember you, as I used to meet you at the Astor Library more than twenty years ago; and your steady and triumphant march toward literary success since then, it has been a real delight to witness. With sincere congratulations,

Yours faithfully,

Moses Coit Tyler.

26, Oct., 1895.

The Independent
114 Nassau Street,
New York.

Aug. 12, 1892.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

I return to you by mail “The Beads of Tasmer” which I have read through with great interest; in fact nearly all before I reached New York, after my delightful visit at your home. It is a capital story. After my return I called on my Newark neighbor, Reverend Dr. Waters, a Scotchman, and I found that he knew the book well, and said it was a good Scotch, and he has read nearly all your stories with great pleasure.

I had a delightful time in your pleasant home. Give my love to the two daughters, and perhaps I ought to say especially, to the one who enjoyed my story of the man who died, and went to Hell, but got out of it again. But you are all in Heaven.

Ever sincerely yours,

William Hayes Ward.

Crescent Hill,
Springfield, Massachusetts,
Nov. 13, 1909.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

I saw your friendly expressions of me in your letter to the G. & C. Merriam Co. And I was pleased to receive the Bookman with the excellent portrait of you. Be sure that I cordially reciprocate your sentiments of regard. Your always welcome visits to the Christian Union office are fresh in my memory so that I well remember the thorough, patient, workmanlike beginnings of your literary career.

Then before long you found your wings, and began that course of admirable imaginative fiction, in which you have had so long and enviable success. It is a great thing to have carried entertainment, stimulus, hope to thousands upon thousands, as you have done.

I am sure that in the essential things, life has dealt kindly by you, or I should perhaps say rather, that you and life have met in the right way; but I hope in the externals and incidentals your path has been pleasant to the feet.

With kind remembrances and best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

George Merriam.

The Marble Collegiate Church
5th Avenue and 29th Street

November 26, 1901.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

I have been prevented by sickness in my family from getting at “The Lion’s Whelp” until now, and I am in the middle of things. I love a good book, and I love Cromwell, so I am twice blessed in your gift. Everything you do with your pen is well done. I wish all writers were like you.

With thanks and sincere regards,

I am yours,

David J. T. Burrell.

New Jersey.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

Thank you for your very kind and cordial letter, and for the gift of “The Lion’s Whelp”; which I shall read with great pleasure. We have already put something about Cromwell’s Time into the Historic Scenes. I was anxious to get a bit about Dutch New York, and for this reason am particularly glad at the prospect of having a scene from “The Bow of Orange Ribbon.” I read “Jan Vedder’s Wife” over again last summer, and enjoyed it more than ever. It is straight, strong work.

Faithfully yours,

Henry van Dyke.

Oct. 30, 1901.

Cornell University,
Ithaca, New York.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

I greatly enjoyed your lovely letter of about a month ago, and likewise even the winsome book of your story of Shetland; for as to the latter, the pleasure of reading, will have to remain among the joys of the next summer vacation. You see it is term time, and I am usually driven by its tasks as well as by some outside affairs just now.

You are right about our Professor Wheeler; he has a very attractive personality, and the charm of brilliant gifts and attainments. Nor do I wonder at the impression you formed of President White, although it might be modified by better acquaintance. His bodily strength is not exuberant, he holds himself in reserve; he is also a little deaf, and he does not come out so easily as does Wheeler. After so many years, there is a risk in asking about dear ones, but I well remember your two daughters, and should be glad to hear their history.


M. Coit Tyler.

1, May, 1897.

Mrs. Amelia E. Barr.

Dear Madam:

Pardon this intrusion from one who has just finished reading with intense enjoyment “A Maid of Old New York” and who has been fascinated with its deeper meanings—its words of wisdom, written between the printed lines. On reading to my wife your post word, we both felt that you surely intended us to recognize, as you have, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt as the present name of the courageous and dominating soul, known to the day of which you write, as Peter Stuyvesant. I cannot think we are mistaken in this. We were also keenly interested in a sketch which appeared recently in the Hearst papers, of an autobiography shortly to appear from your pen, giving your beliefs and knowledge as to reincarnation and spiritualistic phenomena. We are very desirous of reading this crowning synopsis of your life’s rich experience and unfoldment, and will be very grateful if we may know when it is off the press and from what publisher to obtain it.

Let me close by thanking you personally and heartily for the pleasure and the profit this book has brought to my wife and myself.

Very sincerely yours,

Charles Stacey Dunning.

The Los Angeles Evening Express,
Los Angeles, California.
July 14th, 1912.

540 Washington Avenue,
Brooklyn, N.Y.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

Perhaps you do not recall me, as I was but a mite in your busy life, and among so many friends and strangers—Mrs. Terry. I used to call upon you at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and you perhaps remember my daughter and son-in-law, Colonel Allen, whom you met at Fort Monroe. You surely remember you were made an honorary member of the Officer’s Club at the Fort; the only woman ever so honored. I have just finished reading your latest—“Sheila Vedder,” having long ago read “Jan Vedder’s Wife.”

With much love for you, and your stories,

Your admirer,

Frances A. M. Terry.

June eleventh, 1911.

Devore, California,
June 26th, 1912.

My dear Lady:

Because I must, I am taking this liberty of writing you; and because I am a woman of sixty, I am not stopping to choose words, nor to apologize.

I have been reading of some strange supernatural experiences of yours. I, too, have been favored in that way, also with the gift of prophecy—involuntarily exercised.

The story of the terrific impact of the great hand on the wooden shutter in your home in Galveston, was almost exactly paralleled in my experience.

If your acquaintance with other people has brought you in contact with many who have similar stories to tell, of course you will not be especially interested in mine, but judging from my own life-long investigations, these manifestations are comparatively rare.

Last year before an aviation meet fifty miles away in which a considerable number of entries were made, I announced the name of one who was to fall to his death. I had never seen him, heard no more of him than of any one of the others, but knew he was to die. I even wrote his mother of whom I knew nothing whatever, begging her not to consent to his flight. And at the moment of his fall to death, I fell with him, and told all the particulars to my family, long before the news came over the wire—but I am not trying to convince any one—against his will.


Emma J. C. Davis.

Amelia E. Barr