The rest of the day I spent in writing, and in the evening went down to the Mercantile Library and got Howells’s A Foregone Conclusion. It makes me feel blue when I read his style and then look at my own poor endeavors, the distance is so immeasurable that it makes me heartily discouraged. I wonder if the time will ever come when I will be able to do work somewhat to my satisfaction - I begin to think there’s poor prospect.So wrote Howard Pyle to his mother on November 12, 1876, referring to what he had done the day before. At the time Pyle was living in a boardinghouse at 250 West 38th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in Manhattan. I find it somewhat helpful - if that's the right word - when folks destined for greatness reveal their doubts and struggles. Or maybe it's just Schadenfreude.
Years ago, on a whim, I went to the General Research Division at the New York Public Library and requested an early edition of A Foregone Conclusion. Lo and behold, the copy had once belonged to the New York Mercantile Library and could very well have been the same one Pyle had read back in 1876.