James T. Fields

Dublin Core


James T. Fields


August 17, [1861], Wheeling 

Mr. Fields

Your letter has just arrived, the mails between here and Pittsburgh have run “clean daft” like everything else. For that reason it would be better as you say, not to return the mss: we’ll have to leave the weather and superfluous adjectives to the mercy of the readers.

I wish you would add “1860" to the date of the ledger.— somewhere in the first pages, will you, please? I forgot; and another thing, can the division between the 2nd and 3rd parts as I made it, be a division in your arrangement?  The sense demands a break there, imperatively.

About the name, unless you very much prefer it, I don’t like “Margret Howth” at all, because she is the completest failure in the story, besides not being the nucleus of it. However if you do not see this, and really think it a more apt title, alter it, certainly.  You know best about what is attractive, and I do not care, myself.  I put that all into your hands.  “What is today fifty years hence?” ‘Parbleu!’ as Sir Pierce says “Am I at work for future ages?’[1] I am very glad it can appear in September – thank you – and I quite agree about my name not being given, although I don’t think the public will wonder to any alarming extent. I give you an address to which please enclose your letters in the future, or for a while. If Gen Lee can pass Rosecranz’s force, it is probable he will scatter our Wheeling government, and our mails will be deranged.[2] I do not think it likely, but it is as well to be safe.  Just now ‘New Virginia’ and its capitol are in a state of panic and preparation not to be described.                                          

Sincerely yours,

Care of James B. Wilson, Esq.[3]
Washington co

May I send my regards to Mrs. Fields, and ask her to tell me if she likes the story when she reads it? I mean criticism, not praise, sincerely.

Received of Ticknor & Fields, $40 on account, Aug. 17, 1861.
R. B. Harding—

[1] Unknown.

[2] Wheeling was the headquarters of the Union Army’s Mountain Department, where Gen. William S. Rosecrans was stationed at this time, defending the area against the Confederate military leader, Robert E. Lee.

[3] RHD’s relative on her mother’s side; he resided in Washington, PA.


S. M. Harris


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


S. M. Harris, “1861-08-17
James T. Fields,” Rebecca Harding Davis: Complete Works, accessed January 27, 2023, https://rebeccahardingdaviscompleteworks.com/items/show/35.

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