The Letters of Gamaliel Bradford, 1918-1931

The Letters of Gamaliel Bradford, 1918-1931

The Letters of Gamaliel Bradford, 1918-1931

The Letters of Gamaliel Bradford, 1918-1931

Excerpt

The Letters of Gamaliel Bradford add, in many important ways, to the picture of his character and career which he so amply rendered in his Journal. While the Journal describes his inner life, the Letters represent a social life, restricted in other aspects, more or less, by continuous ill-health, that abounded and overflowed in this epistolary form. Mr. Bradford often refers, in Journal and Letters alike, to a certain disappointment which he always felt in conversation, as if, face to face with his interlocutors, he could neither express himself in a way that pleased him nor elicit a satisfactory response. No such impression ever dawned upon anyone who ever talked with him. His conversation was always full of matter, and exceptionally sympathetic; and he was in constant personal touch with a large circle of friends and acquaintances. Through the medium of the written word, however, he felt that he expressed himself more freely, and the circle of his correspondents was very large. In his card-index of names and addresses, there were, at the end of his life, upwards of five thousand. While the Journal suggests the picture of a lonely man, the Letters thus reveal a very different character, one that was connected by countless threads of sympathy with a multifarious outer world.

It is true that this wide connection was a somewhat late development in Mr. Bradford's life. Up to his fiftieth year, or thereabouts, although he was always surrounded by a devoted group of intimate friends, he lived the relatively solitary life of a student. He had the good fortune that Longfellow noted once: 'I have been meditating on the great importance it is to a literary man to remain unknown till he gets his work fairly done. It can hardly be overstated.' It was the publication, in 1912, of Lee, the American that drew him into the larger outer circle. He had formed the habit of typewriting his letters, driven to the practice by a severe case of writer's cramp; and in 1918 he formed the further habit of keeping carbon-copies of all his letters, which he caused to be bound, in groups of two hundred sheets, in stout red cloth. It is from these letter-books, fifty-four in all, that the following pages have been drawn. In . . .

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