Letter, March 27, 1886, to Mr. Butler



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Letter discussing the death of Mr. Coddington, a future trip to America, and possilbe speaking engagements.


Cobham, Surrey. March 27, 1886. My dear Mr. Butler I find your letter on my return from the Continent, but in my letters from home I had already been told of the illness and death of dear Mr. Coddington. I saw hardly any one in America who inspired me with so much liking and esteem as he did, and the impression was confirmed by what I saw of him over here afterwards. He was the kind of American whom you do not often enough present to the notice of strangers; perhaps I may say, whom you do not produce in sufficient quantities. I remember how much we were all struck with him – with both his integrity and his modesty – the night he had that discussion with Mr. Carnegie at your home about the government of New York City. As to his daughters, they are worthy of such a father; I shall never forget how charmed I was with Fanny the afternoon we met her, not long after our arrival in America, at Fine Meadow. I must certainly see them this summer, even if I go to the Adirondacks for that purpose. And you, my dear Mr. Butler; these horrible American writers – which this year have extended themselves to ____ also – do not affect your friendly cheerfulness and vigour. It is delightful to think that I shall hold you by the hand again, if we live, in a few weeks’ time – and dear Miss Butler too. I have my report on the foreign schools to write – and then I have promised the Nineteenth Century a last political utterance, on Ireland and the policy of the Liberal Party towards Ireland. So I cannot start with Mrs. Arnold, whom Lucy calls for imperiously, and who will go with Nelly, either the 17th or the 24th of next month. I hope to follow about the 20th of May. It will really be my last visit; these efforts, at my time of life, are too great an interruption of one’s habits and work, and take too much out of one. So I am glad to be coming in May, so that I shall have experience of the summer in America as well as the winter. I shall give one discourse, I think, and one only: the promised last and about America itself. I want you to consider about the expediency of giving this in New York, at such a season; I shall give it in hour of five places only – Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, perhaps Chicago, Louisville and New York. I strongly feel, however, that the article I produce is not the sort of article which your people, in general, really like or desire, [continued on first page:] but I can hardly avoid saying something when I am out there, and this discourse will be more satisfactory than a number of little broken and bad speeches. With love from all of us to you and Miss Butler, I remain, ever yours most affectionately Matthew Arnold.


Letters, Arnold, Matthew, 1822-1888