Early Letters of George Wm. Curtis
by G. W. Curtis, ed. George Willis Cooke
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Give my warmest love to your wife, and believe me—Benedict or no Benedict—always

Your aff.



N.Y., 14th April, 1853.

Caro Don Giovanni,—Any time these six months I have seen a skulking scoundrel who endeavored to avoid my notice, and always turned pale when he saw a copy of Dwight's Journal of Music. I pursued him vigorously, and he confessed to me that he was the chief of sinners, and that his name was Hafiz.

"But," said he, when he saw in my eyes the firm resolve to acquaint the editor with the fact that his correspondent was still living—"but, oh! say that I have just paid to Messrs. Scharfenberg and Luis my subscription for the three copies owing the coming year"—and thereupon he vanished; and I haste to discharge my duty, for if I have a failing, it is doing my duty. Should you see the editor will you please state not only the fact of the subscription paid, but that I have heard this pursued Hafiz swear that not many moons should wane before he wrote to Dwight's Journal of Music a letter about things in New York, "our new music and other things," for instance.

Hafiz, who tries to make me believe that he does the music in Putnam, says that in the May number he has commended your Journal. He is an abandoned fellow.

How are you, and how prospers the Journal? and have you quite forgiven my wicked silences as well as my imperfect speeches; and will you please not to forget that you are never forgotten by Your aff.



N.Y., Sept. 14, '53.

My dear John,—-I have just returned to town, and find your letter suggestive of White Mountains, quiet, artists, and other dissipations; but I am just from the hills, where I have been for six weeks, and am ordered to the sea-shore to be salted. I am not quite sure whether I shall go to Newport or to Long Branch; but I infinitely prefer Newport, although I have very valued friends upon the New Jersey shore.

My old head has been bothering me all summer; but Dr. Gray has taken it fairly in hand, and says I shall soon be all right. I hope he is not all wrong.

I am coming to Boston some time during the season to lecture before your Mercantile Library, and have promised to make something of a visit; but I fear it will hardly be possible to stay long.

X was on my track yesterday, although I havn't seen him for an age. I hear he projects Europe again, but know nothing definite. Today I am just hurrying off to Staten Island to assist at the nuptials of.... So they go, and so, soon—let us pray—may

Your aff.



N.Y., July 19, '53.

My dear John,—It has been anything but indifference that has prevented my sending you some notices of the pictures. But my head, which was muzzy when you were here, has been muzzier ever since, and my Dr. made me relinquish everything and run out of town, so that I have been gadding for a month, and the August Putnam hasn't a line of mine.

You see I have been positively idle; but I hope I am somewhat better. At least I feel so, although I shall not work much for some time to come.

I'm going up to Cranch's this evening and to Lenox next week. It is not impossible that some happy gust may blow me to Conway. Give my kindest love to your wife, and believe me—muzzy or no muzzy—

Your aff.



HOME, 9th Feb., '54.

My dear John,—Behold me with unspoken farewells and innumerable Boston banquets well (I hope) digested, and with only a glancing word with your wife at Mrs. Ticknor's on Monday morning.

One thing thou lackest, O Freunde! You have not heard Miss Skelton sing! It is a young girl who not only does not like "classical" music, but does not even profess to, which I hold to be virtuous in factitious times. But she is a sweet, natural, honest girl, and sings Italian, yea, even "Ah! Non Credea," with a sweet, full, and tender voice which is truly delicious. She is one of Cranch's stars. I heard her at the Greenwoods.

I have a vague idea of darting through Boston again about the first of March. I shall be in New Bedford, and might go to Keene.

Good-night. I have every reason to love your Boston.

Your aff.


Friday I hope to see Mrs. Downing, and if I hear of the great X—an unknown quantity to us—I will inform you.


N.Y., Monday, April 10, '54.

My dear John,—-I send you my humble duty. The season is over, and I return to an accumulated mass of work. I find nothing pleasanter in my winter's reminiscences than the Boston episode.

Give my kindest love to your wife, and my regards to Hurlbut, and believe me as always,




My dear John,——Your letter reached me safely, and I share your surprise and regret at what seems to me, so far as I can see, a wholly unnecessary act. I will speak of it in the Weekly at once because the Magazine is always so long after!

I saw some notice of Cranch's seventieth birthday. Good lack! how the years whiz! I did not hear from him, and I suppose it is not exactly the occasion upon which you ask your friends to make merry. Longfellow, I remember, wrote me when he was seventy that it was like turning the slate over and beginning upon the other side.

We are all well and quiet. The Doctors in New York dine Dr. Holmes to-morrow, and I have promised to go. I have heard nothing from Edmund Tweedy for many a day, but I suppose that all goes well with him and his.

Good-bye. It is very good to hear from you always, and I am always affectionately yours,

George William Curtis.



My dear John,—I read your letter with sincere but hopeless interest, because I know how very slight her chance is in New York. The only hope lies in a circle of ladies who know her and would take pains to help her; but who are they, and how can they care for her? The contest single-armed against established teachers of prestige of a ci-devant Prima Donna, who had small success twenty-five years ago and is forgotten, is only pitiful. I will ask one of the best and most prosperous of our teachers, and who is much interested in my Lizzie, what ought to be done. He knows more than any one with whom I could advise.

I had heard with great delight of your portrait and of the becoming disposition which was made of it. I have thought also how sincerely you will deplore the death of our incomparable orator. And I hope that you sometimes think how affectionately I am always yours,

George William Curtis.


NEW YORK, October 26, 1884.

My dear John,—Your note finds me here on my way to Ashfield. I voted for Edmunds every time, and in the uproar of the vote that made Blaine's nomination I held my peace. But had I voted for Blaine, and had afterwards found good reasons to change my mind, I should not have hesitated to take the course I have taken. I am very busy, and I send you my love always. Your ancient,

George William Curtis.



My dear John,—I do not know your address, but I am sure the Boston postmaster does, and I trust this note to his superior knowledge.

It was very good to see your familiar hand again and unchanged, and best of all to read your strong, clear, masterful, and delightful plea for the true saving grace of humanity, common-sense. It is a most admirable piece of work, and a host of readers will wonder that they had never thought of it before. That is the effect of all wise writing, I suppose, which like yours lays us all under obligation. Why don't you oftener bring us reports of your interviews with Egeria? Cranch had already told me of the paper with great praise, in a letter which told me also of your birthnight orgie with Boott and John Holmes. At the Commencement dinner of the year that Harvard made me a Doctor, I said to President Eliot, "Who is that military man who looks like a captain of Dragoons?" and, after making out the one I meant, he laughed and said, "Dragoons? why that is John Holmes!" As I remember him, his whiskers had a military cut; but I have often laughed since.

I have the photograph of Carrie Cranch's remarkable portrait of you, which is a precious possession; and when I see Cranch I hear of you and when I don't see him I think of you, and always with the old affection. We are all well, which means my wife and daughter here, and my son and daughter-in-law and two grandchildren at Newton. My whiskers are white, but my hair holds out with its old brown! Goodbye and auf wiedersehen.

Most truly yours,

George William Curtis.


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