Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 208



Edward William Bok (1863–1930). The Americanization of Edward Bok. 1921.

Page 208

to flow over it, the surface of the sheet would offer you his photograph as the light pictured it at the instant of writing.
  Look at Mr. Bok’s collection with such thoughts, … and you will cease to wonder at his pertinacity and applaud the conquests of his enthusiasm.

Whenever biographers of the New England school of writers have come to write of John Greenleaf Whittier, they have been puzzled as to the scanty number of letters and private papers left by the poet. This letter, written to Bok, in comment upon a report that the poet had burned all his letters, is illuminating:

  The report concerning the burning of my letters is only true so far as this: some years ago I destroyed a large collection of letters I had received not from any regard to my own reputation, but from the fear that to leave them liable to publicity might be injurious or unpleasant to the writers or their friends. They covered much of the anti-slavery period and the War of the Rebellion, and many of them I knew were strictly private and confidential. I was not able at the time to look over the MS. and thought it safest to make a bonfire of it all. I have always regarded a private and confidential letter as sacred and its publicity in any shape a shameful breach of trust, unless authorized by the writer. I only wish my own letters to thousands of correspondents may be as carefully disposed of.
  You may use this letter as you think wise and best.

Very truly thy friend,


Once in a while a bit of untold history crept into a letter sent to Bok; as for example in the letter, referred



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