know that it was, but a portion of a larger design.
Various things came in the way, and before ‘The Divine Tragedy’ appeared (1871) he had written of it, ‘I never had so many doubts and hesitations about any book as about this.’
On September 11 in that year he wrote in Nahant
, ‘Begin to pack.
I wish it were over and I in Cambridge
I am impatient to send “ The Divine Tragedy” to the printers.’
On the 18th of October he wrote: ‘The delays of printers are a great worry to authors;’ on the 25th, ‘Get the last proof sheet of “The Divine Tragedy;” ’ on the 30th, ‘Read over proofs of the ‘Interludes’ and “Finale,” and am doubtful and perplexed;’ on November 15, ‘All the last week, perplexed and busy with final correction of “The Tragedy.”
’ It was published on December 12, and he writes to G. W. Greene
, December 17, 1871, ‘ “The Divine Tragedy” is very successful, from the booksellers' point of view—ten thousand copies were published on Tuesday last and the printers are already at work on three thousand more.
That is pleasant, but that is not the main thing.
The only question about a book ought to be whether it is successful in itself.’
It is altogether probable that in the strict views then prevailing about the very letter of the Christian Scriptures
, a certain antagonism