Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, February 11, 1891

     5:30 P.M. Not with W. except for about 20 minutes. Had been in to see Ferguson today—making preparations for the new volume. W. "glad" I "had paved the way." Said he did not feel well— "congested"—he described it so. Had made me out a long list of pretty nearly everybody under the sun for Stoddart. Forty-six names. Called my attention to a couple of transposed lines in the Lippincott's galley proof—prose. I assured him they must have caught this in proving the pages, but he was uncertain and asked me to see about it—if it was too late to correct. Gave me mail for Post Office—paper for Gilchrist—letters, among others, for Bucke, Kennedy, Stead (Review of Reviews). Did not appear at all cheerful. Complimented me on the galley proof of the Dutch piece. "It is a handsome piece of work—the proof splendidly read, too." Had I Schiller's works, in English, at home? He was "curious to get some greater insight—Schiller is a man who, from what scattered glimpses I can get, satisfies, uplifts me: a great sampler." He spoke of my cold hand, "You don't know how grateful it is to me: an immediate flavor of out-of-doors." He had saluted me, "You come with the sunset: welcome! Welcome!"

     Left with him Mrs. O'Connor's letter enclosing Scudder's. Down in an hour or so to get it. "Attracted towards the project."

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112 M St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
Feb. 9, 1891

Dear Mr. Traubel,

Your letter of the 7th was awaiting me when I got home from the office this ev'g. I wish you were here this minute that we might talk the whole matter over. You have touched upon the subject nearest & dearest to my heart.

This idea of having William's descriptions of wrecks, etc. put into a volume has never left me. Stedman proposed it to W[illia]m the last time that he was in W[ashington] before Wm. died, at our house one ev'g, & many persons have proposed it to me since. Mr. Kimball, the Chief of the Life Saving Service told me that it ought to be done; & that he should like to write the Preface. Dr. Bucke and I discussed it when he was here last May, & when I was in New York the last time, I discussed it with Rossiter Johnson; & all have said that it must be done; all say, as I do, that it will make the most live & thrilling book ever published. It will sell too, tremendously, if the right house does the publishing & manages it properly.

I told William just a little while before he passed away, that nothing he had ever done was I as proud of as that Life Saving work. He gave his life to it just as truly as any man ever did who died on the battle field. He worked night & day literally, to get out the reports, & he broke down under the tremendous strain of it. I could tell you by the hour of it all, & how he put his very life into it. It was truly "Life Saving" to the world, but he gave his life for the world.

How soon would you like to begin the work? & who would be your choice as to the Publisher? I think Mr. Stedman's advice as to Publisher would be excellent! & no one's better, I guess.

You must come on to Washington & spend a Sunday with me, & I will put into your hands all the material needed: & much information that I can't write. I will put you in possession of the things you will need to know, & a few choice people who worked with William in the office, & who can tell you much that you will need to know—things that I have not time to tell you now, & indeed some that I would not care just now to write.

I will pay your fare over & back from Phila., & you are to be my guest, of course. If you could come this very next Sat. to spend the

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Sunday, you could have the room which I reserve for the lady who owns the house, as she is not yet here but will be very soon.


If you decide to come this next Sat. send me a line at once & say by what train you will come, & when I may look for you.

It will I suppose be impossible to get a complete set of the reports, but I have a set which I shall put at your disposal. They are very bulky, but we could take out what you want.

I will enclose a copy of the letter that I had from Mr. Scudder, the Editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and you will see what he says about the book, etc. I have to use my eyes in the office all day from 9 to 4 & so can't write much or even read in the evenings, so I get my sister to make the copy of the letter.

If the story comes out in April & May, it will soon be here.

I get papers from Walt, & thank him very much. I wish I could write him, & how much I want to see him! Give him my love. & thank you, too, for the papers.

I am glad Walt is so well & able to do his literary work still. I want to know more about Walt's new book. But you can tell me all when you come.

I will do better still. I will send you the letter of Mr. Scudder to read, & you will please read & return it to me, as I value it, & also as a matter of business I must keep it. It came the last day of the old year—I said it was the best New Year's present that I could have had, as this business of getting these matters of William's under way & in train weighs upon me, & often rather oppresses me. But if you can help me in this matter I shall be rejoiced. They, the descriptions, surpass any thing that he ever did, & as someone said, no one but Victor Hugo, or William O'Connor could have written them.

Send a line at once to say if you are to come next Sat.

Yours cordially,

Ellen M. O'Connor.



29 December 1890
Editorial Office of
The Atlantic Monthly, Boston.

Dear Madam

Your volume of stories by Mr. O'Connor has been before Messrs. Houghton Mifflin & Co., but they are not quite clear in their minds as

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to the best course to pursue regarding publication. The book, for a collection of stories, is pretty large, too large I think for economical publication, & there is always considerable doubt attending the issue of a volume of short stories. Again, the Christmas element in the book is so prominent that there is a propriety in issuing the book in the fall rather than in the spring.


It has occurred to me that some light could be thrown if I were, with your consent, to print The Brazen Android in the Atlantic, for which you tell us it was originally designed. It is true that the story is more effective if read at one sitting. Yet midway in the story is the incident of the entrance of the Paduan, & a division could be made there. The entire story would probably occupy at least forty pages of the Atlantic, & it would be quite inexpedient to publish the story whole in a single number.

Let me then make this proposal, that I print the tale in the April & May numbers of the magazine & that you defer publication of the book till the ensuing Christmas. Whether the book be issued by this house or some other, there will be plenty of time to make arrangements after the appearance of the May number, & the appearance of the story in the Atlantic would I am confident work no detriment to the future of the volume.

The Brazen Android is a striking tale & ought to attract attention. Of course you will understand that the Atlantic will pay for the story independently of anything you might receive from book publication.

Yours Truly

H. E. Scudder

Editor Atlantic Monthly


Left Harper's Weekly with him. He spoke of his "unending enjoyment of the pictures."

     I was reading [Robert Louis] Stevenson's "Whitman." Did not think much of it. "Nor I," he said. "It amounts to nothing."


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