1862-10-20, James T. Fields

Dublin Core


1862-10-20, James T. Fields


October 20, [1862], Wheeling

My dear friend

Here is the Christmas story, [1] which I hope you will like. I am sure my heart never wrote one as much before.

I received Annie’s letter the other day, it must have crossed mine. I am so glad to hear from her and will write in a day or two again. I have been busy or would have written sooner. My sister[2] too has been ill with diphtheria and I was nurse.

Do you know I am going to say something I’d hardly have courage to say if I did not know you so well and know you will understand me just right. About my stories for The Atlantic. You know I would like to write onlyfor you, partly because we are friends, and partly because I am in earnest when I write and I find the audience I like in Atlantic readers. But I’m going to be perfectly honest now. If I wrote stories suitable for other magazines, I could make more. The Peterson’s in Phila. sent me in September $300 for a story very little longer than David Gaunt and very inferior. [3] I wrote it in two weeks. It was anonymous, of course. They offered more if I would allow them to say by the author of Margret Howth. Now I would rather write for you—alone—I don’t like to write that sort of articles even anonymously. It does me no good and for others is neither harmful not helpful. Yet as times are, I am not justified in refusing “the higher price.” So I thought I would say to you as a friend to whom I can be candid that I hope Mr. Ticknor and you will give as much for future articles as you can legitimately afford so that I can write solely for the A.M. You would understand me “all right” don’t you?

This story is longer than I meant it should be when I began, but I hope not too long for one number—a little more I think than one half of D. G, but I don’t know.

Do you know a Mr. Savary, a clergyman in West Newton—in Horace Mann’s old church? [4] He wrote me in a way I especially liked the other day. Please give my love to Annie. I will try and write tomorrow.

Wilse[5] sends his best regards. My mother[6] and sister also—

Yours always—

Will you acknowledge the receipt of this as early as possible? Our mails are all wrong here & I am constantly worried.


1. “The Promise of Dawn,” published in the Atlantic Monthly in January 1863.

2. Emilie Mary Harding (Gow) (1842-1904).

3. Probably payment for “My First Case,” published in Peterson’s Magazine in August 1862.

4. Rev. William Henry Savary (1835-1906) was minister of Newton, Massachusetts’ First Unitarian Church from 1860-63. Horace Mann (1796-1859), education reformer, U.S. Congressman, and president of Antioch College.

5. Her eldest brother, Hugh Wilson Harding (1835-1906).

6. Rachel Leet Wilson Harding (1808-1884).


S. M. Harris


Richard Harding Davis Papers, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia



S. M. Harris, “1862-10-20, James T. Fields,” Rebecca Harding Davis: Complete Works, accessed December 8, 2019, http://rebeccahardingdaviscompleteworks.com/items/show/156.

Output Formats