Enjoyed Thanksgiving visit to Columbus. Canfields away, leaving house to Dorothy, Jim and fiancée, and herself. Many parties. Is spending much of her leisure time with Ethelbert Nevin, a lovable man. Has been reading Kipling's poetry, as she used to at the university. [Stout #55]
Agrees the story is rather chilly and impersonal, but it doesn't warrant amplification. Looks forward to visit so they can talk. Will try again on The Golden Bowl [James, 1904]. Didn't manage to penetrate it last year. Wonders what new Kipling story is about. Willa Sibert Cather [Stout #109]
Envies his being in Italy. Is working on the material about Eddy, after three men failed with it. It drives out every trace of an imaginative idea. Why doesn't he like [Pierre] Loti—afraid of real imagination? He covers up his own with slang and imitations of Kipling. Or maybe he fears being sentimental. McClure has paid $500 for illustrations for "The Valley of the Mills." Was in Pittsburgh a couple of months ago and saw the Willards. Only music saves her in New York. Please ask Mr. Reynolds to send her his work personally. Willa S. Cather [Stout #125]
Back from an active summer. Brought along her twenty-year-old brother, who is enrolled at Carnegie Technical. Couldn't put the war out of her mind even when she was in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains [in northern New Mexico]. Shouldn't hear any more about suffrage and such for a while. Recent issues of Punch make one realize how solid England is. Kipling's recent speech was splendid. Will be in New York in October but only for a week; wants to keep working on her book in Pittsburgh until the first of the year. Willa [Stout #287]
Has been in Boston since January and is now, after a couple of weeks with Mrs. Deland, back in the comfortable, old-fashioned Parker House. Has been seeing many remarkable people, including Winthrop Ames, an arts patron interested in Ibsen who has an air of ennui and the grandson of Otis [actually, Oliver] Ames. Listening to him talk, one thinks of that rocky monument to the Ames brothers on the mountain [near Laramie, Wyoming], and knows that they were not bothered with ennui. Oh, well, it is difficult being one of the first generation of sophisticates—think of the talk they heard about the Troll Garden. Is sailing for Naples with Isabelle on either April 8 on the Carpathia or on April 11 on the Freiderich der Grosse. Itinerary includes Naples, Capri, and Pompeii, Rome, a 300-mile walk along the Mediterranean from Monte Carlo to Marseilles, Arles, Avignon, and finally Paris. Seems odd to go to Rome after its long life in her imagination and education. One could say that Rome, London, and Paris were the three main cities in Nebraska. May or may not stop at London; has letters of introduction to Kipling, Maurice Hewlett, Barrie, and Conan Doyle, among others, but is more interested in places and ancient ruins than people right now. By comparison with Roman civilization, our own looks pretty shabby. The Roman civilization is still preserved in southern France, where people still live as in Virgil's Georgics. Has bought Roscoe several excellent pictures in Boston: Van Dyck's self-portrait, The Windmill (old Dutch), The Song of the Lark by Jules Breton, Wyeth's Calling the Moose and Indian Hunter, "The Dinkey Bird is Singing in the Amfalulu Tree" by Maxfield Parrish, and Remington's Caught in the Circle, all for $16.23, which Roscoe now owes her. Hopes he and Meta like them. If he doesn't appreciate the Van Dyck, she will be angry, as she has one and loves it. It was Jessie who thought he would like The Song of the Lark. Would have preferred to send older French and Dutch images herself, but thought he might prefer these moderns. Does he like The Queen's Quaire? Willie
Saw Cape St. Vincent, Portugal, this afternoon, a place sacred to all with ties to England, and soon will see Trafalgar Bay, the site of Nelson's victory over Napoleon's navy. The sea floor here is covered with the skeletons of French, Spanish, and Italian sailors, thanks to Nelson. A British captain onboard commented that he thinks of Nelson's victory every time he passes this place. Is thinking of Nelson atop the column in Trafalgar Square, London, and his letter to Lady Hamilton [Nelson's mistress] in the British Museum, written the night before he died. "If Blood be the price of admiralty" [line from Rudyard Kipling's "Song of the Dead"]. Enjoys thinking of Nelson and the dead on the sea floor and the glory of the English navy and of his statue in Trafalgar Square protected by Landseer's lions, and the people's affection for Lady Hamilton. Wishes Roscoe could see these things with her.
Appreciates his vivacious letters and would like to visit him, but must keep writing on a story that is proving difficult [most likely Song of the Lark]. Though taking a break on a piece that is going smoothly is all right, it's not a good idea when the writing is proving tricky, as it is too difficult to get into it again. Hopes to see Roscoe in July, though. He shouldn't slay any beast for her unless he has plenty of refrigeration! Being a writer is an erratic enterprise. Is going to Maine Sunday to visit Olive Fremstad for a week. Hadn't planned this, but had better seize the opportunity when it is there. Fremstad is a synthesis of a major artist and a Swede just off the prairie, a combination that fascinates her. Has believed since she was a child that a great artist would emerge from the immigrant population in this new country, and it is exciting to see her expectation fulfilled. They'll talk about it when she is there. So wishes to see Meta and baby Virginia, but is leaving on "the long trail, the trail that is always new" [quoted from Rudyard Kipling's poem "A Long Trail"]. Human beings are the most fascinating part of creation—even more than the grandest scenery. Willie.
Has been embarrassed to write after so long. Has put off writing everyone but mother and Jack, who was ill. Is mortified that she even neglected writing Mrs. Deland, for now her sick husband has died. It is the war that is causing the problems: it even makes writing books seem trivial. Can't make progress on the new book, and will probably have to rewrite or abandon it. Houghton Mifflin people are very displeased that it will not be ready for fall publication. There are good things in the new book, but it does not seem to be working. Is going to put it aside for a while and write some short stories—needs the money. Has Elsie heard that Rudyard Kipling's son, the prototype for Dan in the Puck tales, is missing in action? It has been over a year now, and hope seems lost. Mr. Greenslet, who just returned from England, said Kipling is devastated. What a shame, as Kipling has given so much joy to so many. Edith's health was good this winter. Helps Edith with eye treatments. They plan to go to Washington tonight. The war and resulting rise in costs have hurt the magazine publishing business. Has had many wonderful musical get-togethers with the Hambourgs, and had dinner with the recently-married Olive Fremstad and her husband [Harry L. Brainard and Fremstad were married November 4, 1916]. They had a fine evening. Has already written mother describing it. People she knows in the British war department say the war will go on at least two years. When Greenslet was in London, he had trouble getting decent food and enough of it, and many buildings had to go without heat. Newspapers aren't really providing the whole story: if not for the entrance of the United States, the allies would have been defeated, for the submarines prevented proper food from getting to the army. Germany's food supply is much better than that in England and France. If the U.S. can produce enough ships and men, the allies may yet win in two years. If not, we will all be Prussian. The Russians can't hold the eastern front unless the allies keep Germany tied down in France. If not, St. Petersburg will soon fall, and then the German army will be fed from the vast agricultural output of Russia. The U.S. has a unique opportunity: we can protect or lose Democracy for the entire planet. And yet a letter from her Mesa Verde guide claims the war is taken as a joke out west. Like Russia, the U.S. is so enormous we can't get things together. Believe it: dark times are ahead. Needs to stop now, but hopes to be better about writing in the future. Willie.
Can't decide what books to get for the twins, as she doesn't know what they have. Do they have Kipling's Jungle Books or Louisa May Alcott's novels? How about Little Lord Fauntleroy, Hans Brinker, Pilgrim's Progress, Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer? Please send a list of what they would like. Won't be able to buy them for this Christmas, but would like help for the future. Just received her pleasant letter. Is pleased not to be an embarrassment to her nieces. Hopes Virginia will write when she's read the first installment of Death Comes for the Archbishop. That is her real holiday gift for her family: the Archbishop can't be purchased; one needs a crafty aunt to invent him. Willa Cather.