Bliss Carman's Letters to Margaret Lawrence 1927-1929

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley

Assisted by Margaret Maciejewski



Letter 35

The Raleigh

Waco, Texas

18. Nov. 1927

 

 

Darling Margaret:

 

Your letter of the 15th came to-day. I am distressed at your illness and distress. I should say that a visit to Battle Creek1 would be the best thing if you could manage it. As for doctors, I have no faith in any cures but that of homeopaths.2 I should say their principles. There is one of the best, there in Toronto. I have forgot his name, but it is Titherington3 or something like that. Theirs is the only treatment I trust at all. If you were in Vancouver I should ask you to see Ernest Fewster.4

My dear, a thousand thanks for the offer to see about a lodging for a vagabond. But think of your being so near the Ernescliffe!5 How amazing. It may be I could be there, but I shall not mention the true why I am threatening to stop off at Toronto. Anyhow I shall not be an embarrassed guest anywhere, and was thinking only of a hotel. I will let you know.

The last few days have been rather hectic.

Did I say that I had a huge audience at a small town of Commerce?6 On Wednesday I came on here and met Dr. Armstrong.7 Thursday I went to Belton 30 or 40 miles away by bus, to a woman’s college8I forget how many hundred, quite amazing. Had the afternoon there and dinner in the immense dining room of the college, with reading afterwards. Then a very small and early reception, and as there was no decent hotel in the town, they put me up for part of the night. The taxi driver called for me at 3:30 in the morning, and roused me, drove me down to intercept a bus, and at five I reached another small town, and was set down in a lone street at the door of a so-called hotel. All dark. But I rang in faith, and presently a light and a landlord in dressing gown & slippers, and I acquired a modest but immaculate room and turned in again until eight. Then up and found the college9 and did my stint at 10 o’clock. Half men, half women, a large audience. I had to get them, but succeeded, and had a very hearty applause and appreciation at the close. Also talked to one of the advanced classes, on the relation of literature and philosophy. It is a live place with a very able President, a young man. Then back here, and visited the Browning room in the University Library, Dr. Armstrong’s hobby and achievement.10 They have the finest collection of Browning first editions, mss. letters, portraits &c &c anywhere. Three fine stained glass windows in the room illustrating three of Browning’s poems. Really very choice. Then at a very nice little dinner of 8 or 10 people. Oh, no, dear, it is not the least thrilling or adventurous or romantic. All these colleges are sectarian foundations, Baptist, Methodist or Presbiterian [sic]. All most prohibitionary and circumspect, poor dears, and none of them speaking our language at all, except those half dozen folk in New Orleans. One cannot be irked, for it is all so genuine, and they all really care for what they hear, or I mean for poetry. And it is successful. It is like what being a best seller must be. In a small way of course. And of course I give them the real insides of what I think about poetry and no clap-trap. They are not fooled. They get real food. And that is why they like it. I am more fundamental than their "fundamentalism", so it doesn’t disturb them.

The stars were fine this morning, long before dawn. A huge one hanging in the East like the lone star of Texas.

(I think Tirrell is the doctor’s name in Toronto[.])11

If California were half as good as Texas, for wandering bards, I could go there without a manager—almost.

I am tired, sweet person, and must go to bed.

 

Lovingly

 

C

  1. The sanatorium in Battle Creek, Michigan where Carman was treated in 1919. See Letter 13 n.2. [back]

  2. Practitioners of homeopathy, a system of treating diseases by small quantities of drugs that cause symptoms similar to those of the disease. [back]

  3. Not identified. [back]

  4. See Letter 8 n.13. [back]

  5. The Ernescliffe Apartments at the corner of Wellesley and Sherbourne Streets in Toronto were home to Carman’s cousin Charles G.D. Roberts from 1926 to his death in 1943. [back]

  6. See Letters 33 and 34. [back]

  7. See Letter 23 n.3. [back]

  8. Baylor College for Women in Belton, Texas, founded in 1845 as a department of Baylor University and separately chartered in 1866 as Baylor Female College. It was privately owned and controlled by the Missionary Baptist General Convention of the State of Texas and became Baylor College for Women in 1925. [back]

  9. Possibly Southwestern College (now University) in Georgetown, Texas, a co-educational institution founded in 1840 and affiliated with the Methodist Church. [back]

  10. See Letter 23 n.3. [back]

  11. Not identified. [back]