#2203: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, January 18, 1943

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Roscoe1:

I know all about those California violets.! To me a good deal of California3 is like those violets – a pretty show, but somehow nothing very moving underneath the color. The ones you sent me on Christmas Eve perfumed the whole room when I opened the box, and kept their sweetness for several days.

By the way, in trying to clean out my desk lately, I found an envelope marked "For Roscoe – After Elizabeth's4 Visit". Now, this visit must have happened many months ago, and these two clippings about "Sapphira5" I especially wanted you to see. I will send them now, as they might interest you. I was particularly surprised at the one signed6 by William McFee7 Macfee. McFee is the "nautical editor" of the New York Sun8. He is an Englishman and has long been one of the best writers on naval matters. Long ago I wrote him a rather impertinent letter, rebuking him for some of his criticisms of Joseph Conrad's9 knowledge of seafaring. I have long been ashamed of yielding to that impulse and have always supposed that he was no friend of mine. I think it very noble of him to forgive my youthful impatience, and to write so gravely and courteously. He himself has written several nautical novels, which were pretty dull in spite of his vast knowledge of naval matters.

I first heard of the author10 of "Son of the Smoky Seas"11 through Tertius Noble12, the organist at St. Thomas' – the most fashionable church in New York13. He was organist at St. Margaret's in London14 – St. Margaret's is the old church which stands in the enclosure of Westminster Abbey – Chaucer15 died there. Mr. Noble came over here during the first World War. He has been a prominent influence in music here ever since. He told me that this queer fellow was is really a remarkable ·W·S·C· musician, though, of course, he had not the early technical training which enables a man to support the rigours of a professional career. Mr. Noble said, however, that he would rather hear him play than hear many a perfectly trained and accomplished pianist. The musical part of the novel did not interest me especially, but it is the first book I have read that made the Aleutian Islands16 real to me. I think everything in the book relating to that strange North country is wonderfully vivid. I get a great kick out of it. I rather wish he had omitted his courtship. He now lives in Long Island17 and makes his living by lecturing and giving concerts.

With much love to you both Willie

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