Confound this pen! Monday, Oct 21 2013 

From a letter by Julie, winter of 1859:

“Dear Morris,

I hate to write today because this abominable old pen makes me nervous, and my head aches on the top of it to split. It rains out of doors and drizzles and drops. The clock ticks loud enough for a drum in a dead march. The children can’t go to school because the slush is a foot deep on the pavement. Altogether, I feel out of sorts, confound this pen! I have a great mind to crunch it on the floor, it spoils my temper.”


One does wonder if the original letter had an ink blot or two due to a difficult fountain pen….  Despite her difficulty with the pen, Julie goes on for a bit over a page (typed) perhaps with a new pen?  There are some good things about modern computers!

Book Reviews Saturday, Jan 5 2013 

Though Julie Palmer Smith was the first author to live at Esperanza, her son-in-law, William Webster Ellsworth, was a well respected author, his career at the Century Company, from its beginning’s as an offshoot of Scribner and ending as Secretary (think CEO), meant that he had a formidable network of connections.

A review of his book ‘A Golden Age of Authors’ published in 1919 by Houghton Mifflin* hints at this network; the review was by Albert Bigelow Paine*: “When the MS. arrived and I saw the size of it, I said, ‘It looks formidable but I’ll read it. I’ll do it for Ellsworth, I’ll do anything for Ellsworth.’  Then after dinner I got my clothes off, got into bed, propped up, and began. I hadn’t read three pages before I realized a remarkable thing, viz: that it was not I doing it for Ellsworth, but Ellsworth doing it for me, by the Great Inventor of Letters, yes! I was simply eating it up. I was enthralled, enslaved. I couldn’t stop. I read till late, late (I am an early bird) and at five thirty the next morning I was at it again. It was not a big MS. any more, it was too little.’

A much more interesting, and honest, book review than many!

*He had parted ways with Century Company a few years earlier, following a rather nasty personality clash with the new editors brought in after Richard Gilder’s death.


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