1862-01-21, James T. Fields
To JAMES T. FIELDS
January 21, [1862?], Wheeling
I have not received the book yet, but I thank you for it prophetically.
As to Margret—yes—please send me 20 copies by express and ask “the publisher” to settle for price charges, etc. with that mysterious “copyright” which he understands—and I don’t. May I ask you something as a friend—please tell me the truth, for it’s a matter of etiquette and I am ignorant. There are two or three of your New England writers for whom I hold my old childish admiration. I would like to send them the book as an excuse for showing it, only I am afraid it would look like saying, “Look at me, and pay me a compliment?” Would it? Is it usual—I “drive the proprieties four in-hand”, or want to. Please tell me quite sincerely, for I really want to know. Do not be offended if I say I am sorry you send me those books by mail. To make a present and pay a duty to Uncle Sam for it is hardly fair. If ever you think of such a thing again, send it in the same way as I said about Margret, please——
Certainly I will send my photograph as soon as I have them taken to Mrs. Fields. Whenever I leave home—here I am too tender of my beauty to consign its fame to our unfortunate artists!
Many thanks to her for the wish—
1. From Little Dorrit (1855-57) by British author Charles Dickens (1812-1870).↩