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Charles W. Chesnutt to George Washington Cable, 27 February 1895

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  CHAS. W. CHESNUTT, 7361024SOCIETY FOR SAVINGS BLD'G. Mr. Geo. W. Cable, Northampton, Mass. My dear Mr. Cable:-

The ladies of this town have annually gotten up some enterprise for the support of one of our most deserving charities, the Lakeside Hospital, and it is their intention to publish within the next two months—the exact date I haven't in mind just at this moment—a magazine for the benefit of this institution. To render it attractive they have solicited brief contributions from some distinguished writers, among others Dr. E. E. Hale1 and Mr. T. W. Higginson2 that I think of at present. I have been requested by Mrs. Virgil P. Kline, formerly Miss Ohber of Boston, the wife of one of the distinguished lawyers and public spirited men of the city, and herself one of the leading spirits in this Hospital work, to ask you if you would contribute a brief article, of whatever nature you see fit, for this special magazine.3

Mrs. Kline was aware that I knew you and while I disclaimed any such acquaintance as to warrant me in asking a gratuitous contribution from your pen, I consented to present the matter to you.4 I am requested to add, as I know very well myself, that the object is in all respects a worthy one, that you will be in good company, and that your writings are read and admired in this community. If you can find time, in the intervals of your busy life,   CHAS. W. CHESNUTT, 7361024SOCIETY FOR SAVINGS BLD'G. Cleveland, O. 189 -2- to write say something that would fill three or four, pages of the N. A. Review, it would be of much service to the work undertaken, and would be gratefully appreciated by the ladies conducting it, who are among the best in the city in every sense of the word.5 As to whether it would be of any material value to yourself, you perhaps would know better than I; but I can assure you it would be widely read.

If you feel that in justice to yourself you can help these ladies out in the way suggested, I shall take pleasure in informing them to that effect.

I know it is a rather ungrateful task to ask an author who lives by the product of his brain, to write for nothing; but after all, it is only asking him to give of that which he hath—to draw upon the bank where he has the largest deposit, and by which his checks are most promptly cashed.

With assurances of my own regard, and lively recollection of past advice and encouragement in the line of literary work, which have not as you may have thought, been unfruitful, I remain,

Sincerely yours, Chas. W. Chesnutt.

P.S. Since writing the above it has been intimidated to me by some one who claims to know, that you decline as a matter of principle to write gratutiitously for any purpose. This makes my task a still more difficult one, but as I have written this letter I will send it, believing that if you ever make an exception to your rule you could not make it for a worthier object.

yours &c CWC

Correspondent: George Washington Cable (1844–1925) was a reporter, novelist, and critic. He began his career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, writing nearly one hundred columns in two years. After working on a collection of journalistic essays based mostly on historical accounts, Cable turned to writing short stories, novellas, and novels, typically set in New Orleans. In the 1880s, Cable began lecturing, writing essays, and forming organizations focused on social reform, specifically in the areas of Black rights and prison conditions, and in 1885 he moved to Northampton, MA. Cable and Chesnutt met for the first time in Cleveland, on December 21, 1888, at the Congregational Club's Forefather's Day celebration, where Cable was the principal speaker. They began corresponding immediately, and in mid-1889 Cable offered to employ Chesnutt as his secretary in Northampton, MA; Chesnutt declined. Cable visited the Chesnutt home in the fall of 1889, and for two years, their correspondence was frequent, typically about Cable's political efforts on race issues, Chesnutt's writings, or recent publications. After 1891, they corresponded only occasionally.

1. Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909) was an author, reformer, and Unitarian minister. He contributed several pieces to the Atlantic Monthly and the Boston Miscellany, and he was actively involved in abolitionist efforts within and beyond Boston. He contributed "All Souls--A Poem" to the Lakeside Magazine.[back]

2. Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911) was a minister, reformer, soldier, and author. He was a great advocate of gender and racial equality, and he frequently contributed to the Atlantic Monthly. It is unclear what Higginson contributed to the Lakeside Magazine, as he is not listed in the contents.[back]

3. In his letter to Chesnutt on March 4, 1895, George Washington Cable declines to contribute to the Lakeside Hospital magazine, noting that his physician has ordered "rest and recuperation."[back]

4. Effie Hinckley Ober Kline (1843–1927) was an opera manager and booking agent in Boston, and she founded the Boston Ideal Opera Company. She married Cleveland-based lawyer Virgil P. Kline, who served as the personal attorney of John D. Rockefeller. Effie Kline also served on the Lakeside Hospital's Board of Managers, and chaired its library committee.[back]

5. It does not appear that George W. Cable had written anything regarding the Lakeside Hospital for the North American Review, and he does not mention this request in his response letter of March 4, 1895.[back]