Mr. Gilder has asked me to stay with them at Marion, and to go to Cambridge with Mrs. Gilder and dear Mrs. Cleveland and Grover Cleveland, when he reads the poem before D. K. E.
I have bought a book on decorations, colored, and I am choosing what I want, like a boy with a new pair of boots.
In addition to his regular work on The Evening Sun, my brother, as I have already said, was devoting a great part, of his leisure moments to the writing of short stories, and had made a tentative agreement with a well-known magazine to do a series of short sketches of New York types. Evidently fearful that Richard was writing too much and with a view to pecuniary gain, my mother wrote the following note of warning:
I wouldn't undertake the "types." For one thing, you will lose prestige writing for ----'s paper. For another, I dread beyond everything your beginning to do hack work for money. It is the beginning of decadence both in work and reputation for you. I know by my own and a thousand other people. Begin to write because it "is a lot of money" and you stop doing your best work. You make your work common and your prices will soon go down. George Lewes managed George Eliot wisely.
He stopped her hack work. Kept her at writing novels and soon one each year brought her $40,000. I am taking a purely mercenary view of the thing. There is another which you understand better than I-- Mind your Mother's advice to you--now and all the time is "do only your best work--even if you starve doing it." But you won't starve. You'll get your dinner at Martin's instead of Delmonico's, which won't hurt you in the long run. Anyhow, $1000. for 12,500 words is not a great price.
That was a fine tea you gave. I should like to have heard the good talk. It was like the regiment of brigadier generals with no privates.
This is a letter written by my father after the publication of Richard's story "A Walk up the Avenue." Richard frequently spoke of his father as his "kindest and severest critic."
You can do it; you have done it; it is all right. I have read A Walk up the Avenue. It is far and away the best thing you have ever done--Full of fine subtle thought, of rare, manly feeling.