To Her Majesty by Edgar Wilson Nye

Story type: Essay

To Queen Victoria, Regina Dei Gracia and acting mother-in-law on the side:

Dear Madame.–Your most gracious majesty will no doubt be surprised to hear from me after my long silence. One reason that I have not written for some time is that I had hoped to see you ere this, and not because I had grown cold. I desire to congratulate you at this time upon your great success as a mother-in-law, and your very exemplary career socially. As a queen you have given universal satisfaction, and your family have married well.

But I desired more especially to write you in relation to another matter. We are struggling here in America to establish an authors’ international copyright arrangement, whereby the authors of all civilized nations may be protected in their rights to the profits of their literary labor, and the movement so far has met with generous encouragement. As an author we desire your aid and endorsement. Could you assist us? We are giving this season a series of authors’ readings in New York to aid in prosecuting the work, and we would like to know whether we could not depend upon you to take a part in these readings, rendering selections from your late work.

I assure your most gracious majesty that you would meet some of our best literary people while here, and no pains would be spared to make your visit a pleasant one, aside from the reading itself. We would advertise your appearance extensively and get out a first-class audience on the occasion of your debut here.

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An effort would be made to provide passes for yourself, and reduced rates, I think, could be secured for yourself and suite at the hotels. Of course you could do as you thought best about bringing suite, however. Some of us travel with our suites and some do not. I generally leave my suite at home, myself.

You would not need to make any special change as to costume for the occasion. We try to make it informal, so far as possible, and though some of us wear full dress we do not make that obligatory on those who take a part in the exercises. If you decide to wear your every-day reigning clothes it will not excite comment on the part of our literati. We do not judge an author or authoress by his or her clothes.

You will readily see that this will afford you an opportunity to appear before some of the best people of New York, and at the same time you will aid in a deserving enterprise.

It will also promote the sale of your book.

Perhaps you have all the royalty you want aside from what you may receive from the sale of your works, but every author feels a pardonable pride in getting his books into every household.

I would assure your most gracious majesty that your reception here as an authoress will in no way suffer because you are an unnaturalized foreigner. Any alien who feels a fraternal interest in the international advancement of thought and the universal encouragement of the good, the true and the beautiful in literature, will be welcome on these shores.

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This is a broad land, and we aim to be a broad and cosmopolitan people. Literature and free, willing genius are not hemmed in by State or national linos. They sprout up and blossom under tropical skies no less than beneath the frigid aurora borealis of the frozen North. We hail true merit just as heartily and uproariously on a throne as we would anywhere else. In fact, it is more deserving, if possible, for one who has never tried it little knows how difficult it is to sit on a hard throne all day and write well. We are to recognize struggling genius wherever it may crop out. It is no small matter for an almost unknown monarch to reign all day and then write an article for the press or a chapter for a serial story, only, perhaps, to have it returned by the publishers. All these things are drawbacks to a literary life, that we here in America know little of.

I hope your most gracious majesty will decide to come, and that you will pardon this long letter. It will do you good to get out this way for a few weeks, and I earnestly hope that you will decide to lock up the house and come prepared to make quite a visit. We have some real good authors here now in America, and we are not ashamed to show them to any one. They are not only smart, but they are well behaved and know how to appear in company. We generally read selections from our own works, and can have a brass band to play between the selections, if thought best. For myself, I prefer to have a full brass band accompany me while I read. The audience also approves of this plan.

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We have been having some very hot weather here for the past week, but it is now cooler. Farmers are getting in their crops in good shape, but wheat is still low in price, and cranberries are souring on the vines. All of our canned red raspberries worked last week, and we had to can them over again. Mr. Riel, who went into the rebellion business in Canada last winter, will be hanged in September if it don’t rain. It will be his first appearance on the gallows, and quite a number of our leading American criminals are going over to see his debut.

Hoping to hear from you by return mail or prepaid cablegram, I beg leave to remain your most gracious and indulgent majesty’s humble and obedient servant.

Bill Nye.

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