Helen Hunt Jackson 2-1-8 transcription
|Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part
2, Ms 0156, Box 1, Folder 8, letter from HHJ to Richard Watson Gilder, not
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, August 2003.
[note: this letter is an unsigned, undated draft, full of cross-outs and incomplete thoughts, almost certainly never mailed.]
Dear R. W. --
Your letter of the 24th is at hand.
I am sorry you think I am unreasonable about the S.H. Serial. I don=t mean to be. -- I do not in the least quarrel with Dr. Holland's position that he will not positively agree to take any story he has not read. He has a perfect right to take that position. I think myself it a sensible one.
On the other hand -- Most of the S.H. Stories were positively engaged before they were written -- You used to write to me often - "Let us have another" "When will the new one be ready" "We want all you=ll send us" &c &c & the last year I was in Newport the Eds sent me a formal offer for a serial in twelve nos. -- for which they would pay me $2500.
Moreover I know that a great deal of the best work is not only positively engaged beforehand but is applied for -- bespoken -- with no thought of such a thing as any possibility of its being read before acceptance. --
Moreover -- I have now a certain market for all the stories I can write, & more too.
Now you say --
"Dr. Holland has no thought of declining yours after reading it -- but makes the stipulation for safety's sake. As the longer his experience runs the more that is made necessary" -- Then explain to me, wherein this "safety" which you speak lies, except in the fact that Dr. Holland reserves the right of declining the story if it does not please him. --
Why or how you call this "engaging" a story I must own I fail to perceive. --
Now we've had a good many words over this -- and we do not seem to come much nearer to an understanding. Here lies the thing in a nutshell.
Dr. H. does not any longer feel sufficient confidence in the S.H. work to positively engage a S.H. story, as he used to. He wishes it sent liable to his refusal, if it doesn't please him that is all right. [three lines crossed out]
I in my mind, say very frankly that I think the quality of the S.H. work is now sufficiently established to entitle it to at least as much confidence as it commanded three years ago. [two lines crossed out] & that while nothing is farther from any wish than to press a S.H. serial on Dr. H. -- I see no reason why I should send him one subject to refusal.
You say that he said lately that it was only just that you should have the benefit of a S.H. Serial. -- In reply to this I have only to direct you that I sent him one last spring -- which he wished me to modify to an extent which I was unwilling to bother & that I wrote him that I was ready to furnish another [one line crossed out] this year, -- & that I have carefully avoided using the nom de plume anywhere else. -- & that I am [four lines crossed out] & that I stand ready today is give him my next story if he will positively engage it as he did formerly. --
maintained by Special Collections; last revised, 7-2004, jr