Skip to main content

#0028: Willa Cather to Mariel C. Gere, August 4, 1896

More about this letter…
Plain view:

Guide to Reading Letter Transcriptions

Some of these features are only visible when "plain text" is off.

Textual Feature Appearance
passage deleted with a strikethrough mark deleted passage
passage deleted by overwritten added letters overwritten passage
passage added above the line passage with added text above
passage added on the line passage with added text inline
passage added in the margin passage with text added in margin
handwritten addition to a typewritten letter typed passage with added handwritten text
missing or unreadable text missing text noted with "[illegible]"
uncertain transcriptions word[?]
notes written by someone other than Willa Cather Note in another's hand
printed letterhead text printed text
text printed on postcards, envelopes, etc. printed text
text of date and place stamps stamped text
passage written by Cather on separate enclosure. written text

My Dear Mariel1;

Your letter dated July 10 has just reached me after almost a month's delay because you forgot to put Ea the sacred words East End on the envelope. This is the tony part of the town and the people who are so happy as to dwell here have to be particularized.

Now I am just back from an excellent rendition of Fra Diavolo4—went with a little Chicago5 chap—and I feel the spirit of battle. Tomorrow I will write you a lot of pleasant things, but tonight I am going to scrap with you a bit. Now Mariel, did you ever think I meditated a solid course of Bohemia6 in all its degrees? If you did you do me rather an injustice. Of course one may think of it at times, but 2 I used to actually think about slapping Tude Pound7, yet I certainly never would have done it. Really, I never for a moment seriously contemplated becoming a citizen of that "desert country by the sea."8 If I have'nt any regard for myself I have just a little for my family. I may go to New York9 sometime, but not for the express purpose of going to the bow-wows10, and certainly not until I get some money ahead. I can most effectually surprise my friends and pain my enemies by living a most conventional existence, and I intend to do it. As to T. Wing's11 words, Heavens how much or how little did I tell you on that night of much morphine and little Morpheus12? The less I care about T. Wing and his "words" the better, thast thats one reason I was so awfully glad to get away from Lincoln13. I am going to quit writing to that gentleman pretty soon and then forget all about that conversation. 3 Only yesterday I wrote him that I had never forgiven it and never could. He has one creed and I another. They are creeds that never meet in this world. There is no gGod but one God and Art is his revealer; thats my creed and I'll follow it to the end, to a hotter place than Pittsburgh if need be. Its not an affectation, its my whole sle self, not that I think I can do anything myself, but the worship of it. That is about all that life has given me: it is enough. I dont ask anything more. I think I get as much good out of it as most people do out of their religions. I love it well enough to be a failure in it myself, well enough to be unhappy. It has been so felt this way from the time I could like anything, and it only grows stronger as I grow older.

Just now I find it very easy to be "conventional," I never worked half so hard before. The only form of excitement I indulge in is raceing with the electric cars on my bicycle. I may get 3 killed at that, but certainly nothing more. and But as to writing, it is not likely that I will treat more delicate subjects than "The Care of Children's t Teeth" for some years to come.

Then really I like the work, grind though it is. I really like it immensely. Its a great boon just to be of some absolute use somewhere, to be at the head of something and have work that you must do. It does away with the tedium of life. Then the town and the river and the hills would compensate for almost anything. And I meet so many different kinds of people. I h I have met a lot of New York dramatic critics, Amelia E. Barr14 a paid me a business call last week as she went through Pittsburgh, and I have talked 46 minutes with Rudyard Kipling15, which alone was worth coming here for. Then my head is so thumping full of 4 new ideas. I seem for some reason to be able to do better work than ever before. I begin a little serial story "The Count of Crow's Nest"16 in the September Monthly17 which I showed to Harold Dundy18 one of the mss. readers f of the Cosmopolitan19, and he pronounced it first class stuff, said he could use it and would give me a hundred dollars p[?] for it. Of course I was'nt at liberty to sell it as it was needed here. The artist20 to whom I sent it to be illustrated also wrote me a charming note about it, though she did'nt know it was mine. Its so good to be in a country where there is a Caesar21 to appeal to in these things. Since my work is improving I dont feel that I am wasting time here. O if I can only make it some day and triumph over T. Wing and the rest! I doubt 5 if I ever do anything very good, though. I seem to lack the one thing.

I enjoy the manuscript reading and the proof reading dont bother me as I feared it would. They are very considerate of me at the office, and let me off a day to write wh whenever I want it. Indeed, I do pretty much as I please, I am rather at the head of things so long as I follow their policy.

I cant tell you how nice Mr. Gerwig22 has been to me. He is my devoted slave and I can call on him for anything. I have met a lot of charming people and already bel belong to the "swell" Woman's Club23 of the town. That dont look very Bohemian, does it?

Well, I have written you a long tirade about my work. Pretty soon I will get time to tell you about the picnics and boat rides and excur- 6sions and things. I have a good deal of that sort of thing and enjoy it immensely.

Please dont foget to thank your mother24—or yourself—for that those photographs.

In Haste and with much love to all Willa.

P.S. I have a real live stenographer of my own, she is a dandy too. I dictate all my business letters.

W. C.