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I do beg you3 not to use the Fairchild4 sonnet
.! As the
tribute of a friend, even, it is not convincing, because it is so full of
artificial, colorless phrases. Many a college undergraduate could do better. The
sonnet is distinctly third rate as poetry. I had hoped that this would be an edition5 of Miss
Jewett6 for writers. If Mme.
Tchekova7, or Lawrence8, or
Middleton Murray9 picked up these volumes and ran them over, the first thing
their eye would light upon would be a tiresome piece of "old-lady-poetry." Why put
piece of feeble, foolish verse into a volume whose avowed excuse for being is its
I wish you would read10 "Decoration Day."11 It's simply one of the times when Miss Jewett didn't accomplish what she longed to do. It scarcely belongs in the second grade of her work, much less the first.
However, if Miss Mary12 is set upon it13, and you feel that you must
sconcede to her, put it in ,; and I will, in that part of
the preface where I say that the stories in Volume II are of unequal merit, simply
say that I do not consider that one among her best, but include it at the request
friends. I'll try to word it ni ecely. But do not take out "The Hiltons' Holiday" .14! I don't greatly
love it, but Oone of the longest talks I ever had with Miss Jewett was
about that story, and she felt strongly about it. I wonder what was the date of her
letter to Mrs. Richards15?
To me she spoke differently. When I told her that
"Decoration Day" to me seemed more like other people's stories, she said with a sigh
that it was one of the ones that had grown old-fashioned.
You see, in the preface I've made a very high claim for these stories, and I can
defend it with any really first rate
writer of any country; but no critic, no writer, could make
su such a claim for a conventional magazine story16 like
"Decoration Day." If you have to include it, I must say it that it is done by request (which sounds foolish);
(otherwise) that one story would quite
invalidate the preface.
About this story you must do as you think best. I wish
you could omit it. But
Aabout the Fairchild sonnet I can't
compromise- - - what has an "occasional" sonnet to do with a literary work, even if
it were a good sonnet .? If you use the sonnet, I must withdraw
the Preface altogether. I won't be one bit disagreeable about it, you
understand,—but I shall be firm.
Won't you take this up with Miss Mary17? As an editor, with a publishing interest, you will have more influence than I.