Witness Letters
WS Thomas



Newburgh, N.Y. stationery

please excuse pencil May 31 1920

My dear Cousin Will,

I am writing from my bed- I could not sleep last night in thinking over our conversation with Mr. Tryon I got drawn into this cross-examination which was quite inquisitorial in its nature, Quite unwittingly for I did not realize there was to be such a delving & talking over our past history & genealogy. even to bringing in my parents, sisters, brothers, aunts & Uncles, & eventually having them in the limelight of public criticism, for the problematical authorship of that poem- In thinking it over I got frightened & the issue being very uncertain, the obloquay that would fall upon us by people & press, is more than I could stand-

My health is not good & I have been under the Doctor's orders to lead a very quiet life & that is why I am out of the city & up here. I don't sleep well & am easily distressed & worried over the least thing, and I have many things to worry me

Being very sensitive & tender hearted I really could not stand any publicity, or disagreeable controvery- "Let the dead past bury its dead" as Longfellow says, or as we lesser lights would say "let the old Cat die"

I don't approve of having the ashes of the past relative to two old Colonial gentlemen raked up stainless tho they be one as to a very problematical authorship (as we have no proof positive) & the other to a long reputed claim! It is a very delicate question to handle & I am not at all in favor of a writer for a christian science paper handling it- It ought to be touched on veyr delicately & by some man of eminent literary attainments- A very charming article can be made on the character of Henry L- by itself, but don't drag in the question of authorship now, wait till you find the fit man to do it- We relatives would only have dirt thrown at us by press & people for C. Moore is a demi-god almost in their eyes! almost a century has this "fetish" been adored & I will not have myself or my family mixed up in it. What inquisitional questioning has frightened me & to tell the truth & I was not prepared for it, & I was not very much impressed by Mr. T- He never gave any plan of operation & hardly opened his mouth! He has a fine subject & theme & probably would enjoy the notoriety it would bring him but it is too delicate a subject to be dragged & raked about except with great tact & reverence- As far as I am concerned & all my family to the 4th and 5th generation concerned, I do not wish them in the limelight of an antagonistic criticism before the public eye Cousin. Wait till you get some one of high literary merit to write about the authorship, we would only be scoffed at & held to derision, & fall back humiliated into our former place- Do not make this of any but a first class writer & let alone a Xian Science one.

Remember you are the grandson of an Episcopal cleryman & it appears to me like a smirch on his fair name to be connected with the other avenue of publication. I advise you to wait awhile & let us talk it over together - this summer quietly- I am not in favor of the scheme as it stands, please remember, dear Cousin Will & if we disapprove Mr. T has no right to xx for I disapprove of myself or any of my family so categorically given away (inadvertently thro enthusiasm for the subject) & talked about up in a Xian Science periodical, by a writer who has no well known name.

Wait, please wait a little longer- I am feeling too unwell & run down to discuss it now, & as others of the family do not quite approve of this publicity either, I say, wait & let the old Cat die, for the present. You as a doctor, & dear relative, do not want to make me feel distressed & make me sleepless- besides I think some of the family feel as I do about publishing this as a controvery-

My head aches badly today & I'm glad to be back in my quiet home- Didn't sleep well in N. York, or last night either. I felt after Mr. Tryon's short hand examination as tho I had been on trial before a jury! so forgive me for now changing my mind for the present- couldn't stand it- & don't let him begin this xx back & I would like to have my article back as it belongs to one of my family- We will confer this summer & don't be angry please.

Your affte Cousin Nellie

SOURCE: New York Historical Society, Thomas Papers


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