Just a word, to scoff at you, with your extravagant suggestion that I read the biography of Phillips Brooks—the very dullest book that has been printed for a century. Joe, ten pages of Mrs. Cheney’s masterly biography of her father—no, five pages of it—contain more meat, more sense, more literature, more brilliancy, than the whole basketful of drowsy rubbish put together. Why, even in that dead atmosphere even Brooks himself is dull.—he wearied me; oh how he wearied me!
We had a noble good time in the yacht, & caught a China missionary & drowned him. Don’t you give it away; we are letting on that it was General Funston, U.S.A.
Sam also scoffed at the idea of Joe teaching him how to fish, and claimed he hadn’t “caught a fish—for ‘sport’—in 42 years,” and would “rather lose a finger-joint that see the poor devil struggle” [MTP].
Notes: Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) was American Protestantism’s most respected figure in the last half of the 19th Century; for over twenty years pastor at Boston’s Church of the Holy Trinity. The biography of Brooks was an adoring one: Alexander V.G. Allen (1841-1908) wrote: Life and Letters of Phillips Brooks, 2 volumes, 1900 (see Gribben p. 21). General Frederick Funston captured the Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo on Mar. 23, 1901.
William John Sowden (b.1858) editor of The Register, Adelaide, South Australia wrote to Sam advising
he was “sending you a copy of a little book of sketches written by me for private circulation after a visit to China.” Sam noted on the envelope, “China Sketches” [MTP]. Note: see Gribben p.654.
August 29 Thursday – In Saranac Lake, N.Y. Sam wrote to Frank Bliss, rethinking the idea of writing a book on lynchings:
No, upon reflection it won’t do for me to write that book if Mr. Newbegin values his Southern Trade, for I shouldn’t have even half a friend left, down there, after it issued from the press.
You have probably already thought of that. It is a pity. I think I could make a book that would make a splendid stir—in fact I know it.
I shan’t destroy the article [“The United States of Lyncherdom”] I have written, but I see it won’t do to print it. I shall keep it, & wait. There is considerable vitriol in it, & that will keep it from spoiling.
Sam felt someone should write such a book but could not think of the right man [MTP].
Notes: R.G. Newbegin Co. was the distributor for Sam’s Uniform Edition (see other entries). This letter begs the question: did Sam hold off here after considering the heat he’d taken for his stance on anti-imperialism and the Philippines? Did he really think his reputation and sales would greatly suffer? He’d shown much courage in denouncing the political course of the country, so why would he shrink from denouncing lynchings? Did he really think Southerners were enamored of the widespread practice? Was it truly only about book sales? Surely the man didn’t lack the courage—did Livy play a hand in this decision? Coming from a family background supporting the Underground Railroad, it doesn’t seem likely she would object. Whatever the true reasons, the article wasn’t published until 1923 in Europe and Elsewhere; the book was never written. Theodore Roosevelt would make public statements against the practice, which continued for decades, and did not end until after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, though there were a few exceptions.
Sam also wrote to Susan Crane.
You have a small book by a Negro named Ball, which tells of terrible things in the Dismal Swamp in slavery times. Won’t you send it to me—for use?
All well, here, & send lots of love. I was very very sorry to miss your visit [MTP].
Note: the book was by Charles Ball: Slavery in the United States: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, a Black Man, Who Lived Forty Years in Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia, as a Slave, New York 1837. See Gribben p.43. Evidently, Sam intended to use the book in his proposed volume on lynching. Sue Crane’s visit
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.