47 Glencairn Ave.
Toronto 12, ON.
May 21, 1954

Dear John:

Excuse this delay but I have been trying to locate magazines, etc. which are hard to find on account of our change of residence from 21 Cortleigh Blvd to the above.

However, I managed to get a copy of Pauline Eschatology and Clay. I could not get hold of the M.A. thesis on Demonology but much of that material was incorporated in P. Eschatology. I do not list P.E. in the volumes published as I don't care much for it since the subject was not of my choosing and I did not feel free to handle it in my own way, there being so many academic restrictions attached to it. Clay, likewise, was not published. I liked it when I wrote it but later I thought it was very loose in construction. The only parts I still regard as passable are the lyrics interspersed – at least some of them. Two or three were included in Newfoundland Verse. The others remain unpublished. The only significance the poem (so-called) possesses is that it did represent a lot of philosophical speculation current at the time in the University of Toronto. Much of it is abstract and wooden as I see it now. It was mainly an account of the difference between Intuitionalism and Rationalism.

Rachel is gone beyond recovery. It was written in a flat Wordsworthian (Michael) style and printed privately by my friends in New York. It was a story of a mother (Rachel) who lost her son at sea and has a Newfoundland background. One section of it – the concluding part – is in Nfld Verse as a fragment. Similarly the fragment from Clay is printed in the same volume.

I didn't find my characteristic vein till The Witches' Brew which, by the way, is on the University of Toronto curriculum (English Department) this year. I never believed it would reach that distinction and I am still a bit nervous about its subject matter. Norrie Frye was strong for it which counts a lot with me. I would have preferred the Cachalot, but I had nothing to do with the selection, now being Emeritus.

The seance you refer to was the result of a request from the widow of a good friend who died at St Catharines, Ont., many years ago. I should prefer not to have it mentioned as there was so much doubt about its authenticity, and I didn't follow up the 'meetings.'

I have about a dozen short poems unpublished in book form, some of which you have seen. I haven't written much because of eye-strain which I referred to some time ago. It makes reading and writing difficult. I may get down to it again if the condition improves.

The 'Titanic' seems to be most acceptable today. It has been on twice in Poems for Senior Students in Ontario High Schools, and twice on the air, first in Ontario; then last week dramatized by the C.B.C. over the Canadian network. The Great Feud is also in demand for speeches, etc.

I can't locate those magazines. E.K. Brown wrote a lot on the various volumes in the spring numbers of the U. of Toronto Quarterly and L.A. MacKay wrote a long review in the Canadian Forum about ten years ago. The Manchester Guardian wrote a lengthy review of the Roosevelt and the Antinoe about the time of its publication. C.P. Scott wrote it – a most heartening review.

By the way did I tell you that your N.R. issue came in for more enthusiastic accounts given personally to me, commenting upon the strength and maturity of your style. There is nothing like it in Canada for incisiveness and originality, it was claimed. This brings me to the last point of your letter – the relation between Methodism and Calvinism.

As you know my father was a Methodist minister, born in England, came to Nfld as a probationer staying there till his death. My mother was the daughter of a sea-captain and the ancestry away back was English.

Have you access to the two big volumes called The Book of Newfoundland edited by Premier Smallwood? In the Second Volume there are two articles, one on Methodist evangelism in Nfld. and one on the Presbyterians. If you can't find this volume in Montreal I shall send my copy to you.

Calvinism and Predestination didn't take much root in the island. Methodism with its salvation free to all flourished. Predestination from Eternity was displaced by the doctrine of Repentance which remitted all sins through faith in Christ. And if a man relapsed into sin the same route to Salvation was still open through Repentance. The Methodists had their affinity with the milder Arminianism, though I must say that the preaching was about as drastic as the Calvinistic, the unrepentant sinners finding their way to the bottomless pit where the fires burned just as fiercely, and the repentant ones could look forward to the joys of Heaven. Free Will was a basic fact. Let me know if you can find the second volume, the Methodist argument written by Rev. Levi Curtis, the Presbyterian by Dr Fraser.

Enough for now
Ned.

Excuse the scribble


P. Eschatology
Studies in Pauline Eschatology and Its Background, his doctoral dissertation, published by Ryerson in 1917.

Wordsworthian (Michael) style
On the model of Wordsworth's 'Michael: A Pastoral Poem' (1800).

seance
Pratt had attended several spiritualist seances in 1928 at the invitation of Jenny O'Hara Pincock. (See EJP: MY, pp. 46-50.) At the time he was quite convinced of their 'authenticity,' and arranged for other such sessions at his own house in Toronto.

N.R. issue
He refers to the special Pratt number of Northern Review in 1952.

The Book of Newfoundland
The Book of Newfoundland, J.R. Smallwood ed. 2 vols. (St. John's: Newofoundland Book Publishers, 1937).

Arminianism
Named after Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), a Dutch religious reformer, Arminianism emphasized man's free will in opposition to the extreme determinism of Calvinism's doctrine of predestination.

Dr Fraser
N.S. Fraser (1864-1953) was a St. John's physician who at various times held most of the major posts in medical administration in Newfoundland. The article in The Book of Newfoundland on the Presbyterian Church in Newfoundland was co-written by N. S. Fraser and Robert A. Templeton.