Dear Mark, dear old Friend:
This but a week since I parted from you; yet somehow the time seems long—for the reason, I suppose, that I have had so many, many thoughts of you—mostly guessing at your thoughts, trying to imagine them, though knowing that I could not. But I have wondered how the days were passing with you—how life and the world—the past and the future—were looking to you.” Joe offered a few more pages of reflection and comfort [MTP].
July 26 Tuesday – Jean Clemens’ 24th birthday.
In Tyringham, Mass. Sam wrote to daughter Clara, who had left Lee, Mass and gone to New York with Katy Leary to be treated for her nervous condition by Dr. Angenette Parry in N.Y.C.
You dear little rascal, I was exceedingly glad to get your letter an hour ago, & glad to know that you are better,
are comfortable in body, & happily situated as regards both spirit & flesh, & that your present noises are not a torture, & that you have escaped roasting. The roasting I regarded as sure, & was troubled with fears of sunstroke.
All the conditions seem to me to be the best possible. Stay as long as you wish; stay as long as the dear Dr. Parry will let you; & keep Katy with you; you cannot have a wiser not gentler nor faithfuller sentinel to stand guard over you.
Helen Keller’s letter closes with this pathetic & beautiful sentence: “Do try to reach through grief & feel the pressure of her hand, as I reach through darkness & feel the smile on my friends’ lips & the light in their eyes, though mine are closed.” / I kiss you. And Dr. Parry. / Father.
[MTP]. Note: Sam enclosed his calling card and wrote on one side: “Be happy, dear, & don’t forget us. / We
think your little chimney-pests are fledged & gone.” Dr. Parry’s address: 249 E. 32 St., NYC.
Alice Hegan Rice (1870-1942), widely known for her 1901 best-seller, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, visited the Gilders with her brother, Cale Young Rice. Boewe supplies us with the reason for her visit:
In July 1904, ALICE HEGAN RICE and her poet- husband arrived at this Gilder home for a brief visit. Mrs. Rice was a Kentucky novelist whose first book, the 1901 Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, was still a national best-seller; its 1903 sequel, Lovey Mary, was briefly her second best-seller. Because her third novel had been provisionally rejected by Century publishers, Mrs. Rice was invited to Tyringham so editor Gilder could personally help his protégée improve her manuscript [“MT’s View of Three Women Writers”; MTJ (Spring 2007) 18]. Note: Boewe’s article also contains some interesting exposition of the visit.
Isabel Lyon’s journal: I ought not to say I was disappointed in Mrs. Rice, but I was. She seemed very unliterary and inconsequent. Mr. Clemens says that “Mrs. Wiggs” is not literature so there is less need than might be for a literary flavor to Mrs. Rice [Gribben 576: TS 25, MTP]. Note: The Berkshire Gleaner ran a squib on the visit of Mr. and Mrs. Rice [Aug. 10, p.2 under “Tyringham”].
Sam also wrote to Helen Keller.
Your letter of June 14th has reached me this morning, & has profoundly touched me. During 22 long months my trembling family of four groped our way down the Valley of the Shadow of Death, at times heartened & made hopeful by fleeting rays of promise which were but lies & beguilements—& then the end came, in an instant & unexpected. We are still numb with the shock of it. We must wait, & endure. Time is the only helper, Time is the only softener of sorrow. There is no healer of it. I beg to offer my homage to Miss Sullivan; & am / Affectionately your friend … [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Emilie R. Rogers (Mrs. H.H. Rogers).
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.