Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Yorkais d'origine

Henry James to George du Maurier.

{The article on George du Maurier was that reprinted in Partial Portraits (1888).}

115 East 25th Street,
New York.
April 17th, 1883.

My dear Du Maurier,
I send you by this post the sheets of that little tribute to your genius which I spoke of to you so many months ago and which appears in the Century for May. The magazine is not yet out, or I would send you that, and the long delay makes my article so slight in itself, rather an impotent conclusion. Let me hasten to assure you that the "London Society", tacked to the title, is none of my doing, but that of the editors of the Magazine, who put in an urgent plea for it. Such as my poor remarks are, I hope you will find in them nothing disagreeable, but only the expression of an exceeding friendliness. May my blessing go with them and a multitude of good wishes!

I should have been to see you again long ago if I had not suddenly been called to America (by the death of my father) in December last. The autumn, before that, I spent altogether abroad, and have scarcely been in England since I bade you good-bye, after that very delightful walk and talk we had together last July an episode of which I have the happiest, tenderest memory. Romantic Hampstead seems very far away from East 25th St: though East 25th St. has some good points. I have been spending the winter in Boston and am here only on a visit to a friend, and though I am "New Yorkais d'origine" I never return to this wonderful city without being entertained and impressed afresh. New York is full of types and figures and curious social idiosyncrasies, and I only wish we had some one here, to hold up the mirror, with a 15th part of your talent. It is altogether an extraordinary growing, swarming, glittering, pushing, chattering, good-natured, cosmopolitan place, and perhaps in some ways the best imitation of Paris that can be found (yet with a great originality of its own. ) But I didn t mean to be so geographical; I only meant to shake hands, and to remind myself again that if my dear old London life is interrupted, it isn't, heaven be praised, finished, and that therefore there is a use--a delightful and superior use--in "keeping up" my relations. I am talking a good deal like Mrs. Ponsonby de Tomkyns, but when you reflect that you are not Sir Gorgius Midas, you will acquit me. I have a fair prospect of returning to England late in the summer, and that will be for a long day. I hope your winter has used you kindly and that Mrs. du Maurier is well, and also the other ornaments of your home, including the Great St. Bernard. I greet them all most kindly and am ever very faithfully yours,
Henry James.

-from The Letters of Henry James selected and edited by Percy Lubbock (New York: Charles Scribner's & Sons, 1920) p. 98-99.

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