Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Appleton Reports

[To Henry W. Longfellow]
London, 1856
. . . Imagine what zeal, patience, boldness, and love of Nature are in these [pre-Raphaelite] pictures; and with these the Anglo-Saxon awkwardness, crudity, and poor sentiment. Still, after seeing the Vernon collection one can't but think better and better of the direction of the new school. One thing I find not stated of it,--how much it owes to the daguerrotype. The fine, minute finish, and the breadth at the same time they give; and absolutely they manage to have the same defects,--edginess and want of roundness. . . Ticknor looks wonderfully natural in the Twistleton house. It has a library, the historic background for him, and the Dwight Allston, looking well. He invited, the other day, Mackintosh and myself to meet Thackeray. It was very pleasant. Thackeray seemed to remember the Yankee sunshine, and expanded, and looked well, though but lately recovering from an illness. . . .

-from The Friendly Craft: a Collection of American Letters edited by Elizabeth Deering Hanscom, Ph.D. (New York: Macmillan, 1908) p. 170-171.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ford Madox Brown's Chaucer

[To Lowes Dickinson, 1851]

. . . As to the papers, I have had some fine criticisms and some violent abuse. They seem to smell a rat, and begin to know that if not an actual Pre-Raphaelite Brother, I am an aider and abettor of Pre-Raphaelitism, and under that impression they do not seem to know how to act. Many of the papers who abuse Hunt and Millais most violently pass me over in utter contempt, which is hardly to be looked at as sincere. The Times seemed to have a great inclination to abuse, but to hesitate and give it up. My picture [Chaucer at the Court of King Edward III] looked well in my studio, but in the Academy it is placed too high and shone all over, which hurt it; and then I find that our pictures are so totally unlike any of the others that they lose immensely from that very reason. We ought (to do them justice) to exhibit them quite apart.

-from William Holman Hunt: The True Pre-Raphaelite by Anne Clark Amor(London: Constable, 1989) p. 79.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Holman Hunt's Valentine

[1851, Spring]
[To William Holman Hunt]

[Concerning William Holman Hunt's painting Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus]

My Dear Hunt,

I could not pass this evening in peace if I did not write to tell you how noble I think your picture. I went up to see it after some resistance on the part of your landlady. I can scarcely describe the emotions I felt on finding myself alone with your beautiful work (quite finished and you out, that was something of a triumph), but certainly your picture makes me feel shame that I have not done more in all the years I have worked. You will now have one long course of triumph, I believe--well you deserve it. Your picture seems to me without fault and beautiful in its minute detail, and I do not think that there is a man in England that could do finer work; it is fine all over. I have been to see Millais. His pictures are wonders in colour and truth; in fine, admirable for all they intend, but I like yours better for my own use, although there are qualities in Millais which have never been attained, and perhaps never again will be. If Rossetti will only work, you will form a trio who will play a great part in English art, in spite of Egg's predictions. I mean to be much more careful in future, and try next time to satisfy myself. I wish I had seen you tonight, for I am full of your picture, and should like to shake you by the hand. I have had serious thoughts of joining PRB on my pictures this year, but in the first place I am rather old to play the fool, or at least what would be thought to be doing so; in the next place I do not feel confident enough how the picture will look, and unless very much liked I would rather not do it; but the best reason against it is that we may be of more service to each other as we are than openly bound together. I wish you all the success you deserve.

Ford M[adox] Brown

-from William Holman Hunt: The True Pre-Raphaelite by Anne Clark Amor(London: Constable, 1989) p. 77.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Boswellian Antipathies

To William Temple, 6 April 1791 [London]

I . . . called on old [in his nineties] [Charles] Macklin the Comedian whom I found with a mind active and cheerful in his ninety second or third year. I could not but wonder while he related theatrical stories sixty years old . . . Here sat I forty years younger than him, listless and desponding, and unable to rid my mind of a disagreeable sensation as if I had been sitting in Edinburgh. I really my dear Temple believe that as much pain may be suffered from antipathies, as from almost any cause. Would it not torture you to be again at Professor Hunter's eating jeel. The possibility of a disturbed imagination reducing me to the mode of existence in my youth frightens me. Alas! what real advances have I made above that state! How delusive is this low-spirited thought!--But indeed I much fear that to a speculating and very feeling mind all that life affords will at times appear of no effect. When I recall the infinite variety of scenes through which I have passed, in my moment of sound sensation, I am elated; but in moments of depression, I either forget them all, or they seem indifferent.

My Life of Johnson is at last drawing to a close. I am correcting the last sheet, and have only to write an Advertisement, to make out a note of Errata and to correct a second sheet of contents, one being done. I really hope to publish it on the 25 current. My old and most intimate friend may be sure that a copy will be sent to him. I am at present in such bad spirits, that I have every fear concerning it--that I may get no profit, nay may lose--that the public may be disappointed and think that I have done it Poorly--that I may make many enemies, and even have quarrels. -- Yet perhaps the very reverse of all this may happen . . . .

-from The Essential Boswell: Selections from the Writings of James Boswell selected and edited by Peter Martin. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003) p. 319-320

Friday, July 27, 2007

Francis Bacon on Bodley's Ark

[To Sir Thomas Bodley] *


I think no man may more truly say with the Psalm Multum incola fuit anima mea**, than myself. For I do confess, since I was of any understanding, my mind hath in effect been absent from that I have done; and in absence are many errors which I do willingly acknowledge; and amongst the rest this great one that led the rest; that knowing myself by inward calling to be fitter to hold a book than to play a part, I have led my life in civil cause; for which I was not very fit by nature, and more unfit by the preoccupation of my mind. Therefore calling myself home, I have now for a time enjoyed myself; whereof likewise I desire to make the world partaker. My labours (if I may so term that which was the comfort of my other labours) I have dedicated to the King; desirous, if there be any good in them, it may be as the fat of a sacrifice, incensed to his honour; and the second copy I have sent unto you, not only in good affection, but in a kind of congruity, in regard of your great and rare desert of learning. For books are the shrines where the Saint is, or is believed to be; and you having built an Ark to save learning from deluge, deserve propriety in any new instrument or engine, whereby learning should be improved or advanced.

* Bacon sent a copy of his newly published book The Advancement of Learning to Bodley as a gift.
** "My soul has long been a sojourner."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jonathan Swift Expounds

To Thomas Beach*
12 April 1735

After the fate of all poets, you are no favourite of fortune; for your letter of March 31st did not come to my hands till two days after Sir William Fownes's death, who, having been long afflicted with the stone and other disorders, besides great old age, died about nine days ago. If he had recovered, I should certainly have waited on him with your poem, and recommended it and the author very heartily to his favour. I have seen fewer good panegyrics than any other sort of writing, especially in verse, and therefore I much approve the method you have taken; I mean, that of describing a person who possesseth every virtue, and rather waiving that Sir William Fownes was in your thoughts, than that your picture was like in every part. He had indeed a very good natural understanding, nor wanted a talent for poetry; but his education denied him learning, for he knew no other language except his own; yet he was a man of taste and humour, as well as a wise and useful citizen, as appeared by some little treatises for regulating the government of this city; and I often wished his advice had been taken.

I read your poem several times, and showed it to three or four judicious friends, who all approved of it, but agreed with me, that it wanted some corrections; upon which I took the number of lines, which are in all two hundred and ninety-nine, the odd number being occasioned by what they call a triplet, which was a vicious way of rhyming, wherewith Dryden abounded, and was imitated by all the bad versifiers in Charles the Second's reign. Dryden, though my near relation, is one I have often blamed as well as pitied. He was poor, and in great haste to finish his plays, because by them he chiefly supported his family, and this made him so very uncorrect; he likewise brought in the Alexandrine verse at the end of the triplets. I was so angry at these corruptions, that above twenty-four years ago I banished them all by one triplet,** with the Alexandrine, upon a very ridiculous subject. I absolutely did prevail with Mr. Pope, and Gay, and Dr. Young, and one or two more, to reject them. Mr. Pope never used them till he translated Homer, which was too long a work to be so very exact in; and I think in one or two of his last poems he hath, out of laziness, done the same thing, though very seldom. . . .

* Thomas Beach, wine-merchant of Wrexham, author of Eugenio.
** The last three lines of A Description of a City Shower.

-from Poets Through Their Letters: Volume 1 by Martin Seymour-Smith (London: Constable, 1969) p. 183-184.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lady Mary Awaits a Book

To Frances Hewet* October 1709

I suppose my dear Mrs. Huet has by this time resolv'd never to think more on so Insensible and ungrateful a Creature that could be so long returning thanks for such a Letter, and repented of past Favours--I cannot blame your Resentment, appearances are against me; and yet I am not so much to blame as you Imagine. You Expressed a desire of seeing the 2d part of the memoirs of the Atalantis. I had just then sent to London for it and did not question having it last Satterday. I hop'd a book you had a mind to see might attone the Nothingnesse of my Letter, and was resolv'd not to send one without tother; but like an unfortunate projector as I am, my designs are allwaies followd with Disapointments.--Satterday came and no book; God forgive me, I had certainly wished the Lady that was to send it me hang'd but for the hopes it was come by Nottingham Carrier and then I should have it Monday; but after waiting Monday and Tuesday I find it is not come at all. Now Madam I dont question your forgivenesse, and hope you'l ever beleive when I don't write to Mrs Huet there is some unadvoidable cause for my silence.

Your News and Your book very much diverted me; tis an old, but a very pleasant Spanish Novelle. When we leave this place I am not able to tell you. I have no reason to wish it, but (since I cannot see you) that it may be in my power to write you more entertaining Letters. I had some last post told me Lady Essex Saville is going to be marry'd to Lord Lonsdale. I won't swear to the truth of it, for people make no Conscience of what they write into the Country, and think any thing good enough for poor us . . . I am promis'd a Cargo of Lampoons from the Bath; if they come safe you shall share them with me--My dear dear Mrs Huet, could I contribute any way to your Diversion twould be the height of my Ambition.

[Lady Mary Wortley Montagu]

*Frances Bettenson, da. of Richard and Albinia Bettenson, m. (1689) Thomas Hewet of Shireoaks, near Worksop and Thoresby.

-from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Selected Letters edited with an introduction by Isobel Grundy (London: Penguin Books, 1997) p. 12-13.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Donne on Letter Writing

To Sir Thomas Lucy

9 October 1607

I make account that the writing of letters, when it is with any seriousness, is a kind of ecstasy, and a departure and secession and suspension of the soul, which doth then communicate itself to two bodies: and as I would every day provide for my soul's last convoy, though I know not when I shall die, and perchance I shall never die; so for these ectasies in letters, I oftentimes deliver my self over in writing when I know not when those letters shall be sent to you, and many times they never are, for I have a little satisfaction in seeing a letter written to you upon my table, though I meet no opportunity of sending it. . . .

-from Poets Through Their Letters: Volume 1 by Martin Seymour-Smith (London: Constable, 1969) p. 100.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Conrad and the 'illusion of nearness'

To E. L. Sanderson

14 April, 1896
Ile-Grande, par Lannion

Dear Ted,

At last, from my new (and very first) home, I write you to say that I am quite oppressed by my sense of importance in having a house,--actually a whole house!!,--to live in. It's the first time,--since I came to years of discretion,--that such an event happened in my life.

Jess is immensely amused by the kitchen (the fireplace alone is big enough for her to live in) and spends most of her time trying to talk with the girl (who is a perfect treasure). The kitchen is the most splendid and the best furnished apartment of the palace,--and the only way in or out, anyhow. So we see it pretty often. Our sticks and caps have their domicile there altogether.

The coast is rocky, sandy, wild and full of mournful expressiveness. But the land, at the back of the wide stretches of the sea enclosed by the barren archipelago, is green and smiling and sunny,--often even when the sea and the islets are under the shadow of the passing clouds. From beyond the rounded slopes of the hill the sharp spires of many village churches point persistently to the sky. And the people that inhabits these shores is a people of women,--black-clad and white-capped,--for the men fish in Iceland or on the banks of Newfoundland. Only here and there a rare old fellow with long hair, forgotten by the successive roll-calls of the sea, creeps along the rock between beaches and looks sad and useless and lone in the stony landscape.

The first chapter of The Rescuer is gone to London yesterday. I want Unwin to have a sample to show to the Mag.[azine] Editors.

Write to me about yourself as I write to you about myself. So we shall have the illusion of nearness.

[Joseph Conrad]

-from Joseph Conrad: Life and Letters by G. Jean-Aubry (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Page & Co., 1927) Vol. 1, p. 188.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hamsun for Strindberg

To A. Paul

Paris [1895]

Strindberg is very badly off . . . He is living here on a most insecure footing, writing an article from time to time which perhaps some paper prints and perhaps not. He is badly paid--he only got forty francs for his last article on sulphur; his translator kept twenty francs, so only twenty francs was Strindberg's share. He is in debt and has been living on credit the whole time and does not know how long he will be able to remain where he is.
He lacks clothing. Now, in winter, he goes about in a light green summer suit and he is embarrassed. He feels he cannot call on anyone, not even on publishers, in his present state.

I thank you personally for being willing to intervene on his behalf in Berlin. You tell me he has a grudge against you. But I scarcely know anyone against whom he hasn't a grudge. He doesn't like me either, he says my personality is too strong for him. It's hardly possible to have anything to do with him. But I don't mind and I see that you don't either. In spite of everything he is August Strindberg.

. . . We were going to dine together one evening and were looking for a place. We stopped in front of a little restaurant with no particular pretensions where other people gong in were also shabby. But Strindberg said: 'No, it's too well lighted for me here, it's too bright. Let's go somewhere else.' He didn't say it in a complaining tone, he simply stated it as a fact. 'Here it is too bright for me!' And yet this was none other than August Strindberg! I cannot forget the impression it made upon me. Do something for him if you can--

-from The Strange Life of August Strindberg by Elizabeth Sprigge (London: HamishHamilton, 1949) p. 159.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

J. K. Rowling to a Special Fan

Here are the letters that author J.K. Rowling wrote for Ralph Houston, a Harry Potter fan who is terminally ill and at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center:

J.K. Rowling's letter to Maggie Huffman, who works in public relations at the hospital:

Dear Maggie,

I am so very sorry to hear about Mr Houston's illness. This must be such a difficult time for him and his family.
I completely understand your desire to give Mr Houston the opportunity to read the final Harry Potter book before publication and I am sure that I would make the same request in your position.
Tragically, requests just like yours are now coming in via my publishers and agent, all asking that their terminally ill friend or relative be given an early copy of the book. These letters are, without exception, heartbreaking, as is the fact that they are coming in such numbers.
It is, perhaps, not generally appreciated that it is not the author's decision whether or not a book can be sold or released before the publication date. Such authority now lies with the publishers to whom I have sold the rights.
I fully appreciate what a disappointment this will be. I hope you can understand how hard it is for me to give you a negative response. I shall continue to hope that Mr. Houston will be able to read the book in July, and I would be so grateful if you could give him the message from me below.
With very best wishes,
Jo Rowling

J.K. Rowling's letter to Ralph Houston:

Dear Mr. Houston,
Maggie Huffman has written to me about you, and I'm so very sorry to hear how unwell you are. I do hope you're not feeling too bad at the moment. I can't tell you how honoured I am to know how much you like the Harry Potter books. I treasure my unashamed adult readers!
I am thinking about you and hoping very much that you are comfortable and happy. You have evidently made a real hit with the staff at hospital, Maggie describes you in glowing terms!
With love from
J K Rowling (Jo)
-from The Oregonian May 20, 2007.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sir Thomas Browne and Many Gates

[To Elizabeth (Browne) Lyttelton]

[Sept. 15, 1681]

Deare Betty,

Thoe it were noe wonder this very Tempestious and stormy winter, yet I am sorry you had such an unComfortable sight as to behold a ship cast away, so neer you; this is noe strange tho unwelcome sight at Yarmouth, Cromer, Winterton & sea Towns; tho you Could not save them I hope they were the better for yr Prayers, both those that Perishd and those that scapd. Some wear away in Calmes, some are Caried away in storms, we Come into the World one way, there are many gates to goe out of it. God give us grace to fit and prepare our selves for that Necessity, & to be ready to leave all when and how so ever he shall call. The Prayers of health are most like to be acceptable, sickness may Choak our devotions, & we are accepted rather by our life then our death; we have a rule how to lead the one, the other is uncertain & may Come in a moment. God I hope will spare you to serve him long, who didst begin early to serve him. There dyed 36 last week in Norwich, the small pox very common, & we must refer it to Gods mercy when he pleaseth to abate or Cease it, for the last run of the small Pox lasted much longer then this has yet dun.

Yr Brother Thomas went once from Yarmouth in the evening and arrived at the Isle of White the next day at one a Clock in the afternoon, but it was with such a wind, that he was never so sick at sea as at that time. I came once from Dublin to Chester at Michaelmas & was so tossed, that nothing but milk & Possets would goe down with me 2 or 3 days after. Yr self is not impatient, you will have no Cause to be sad, give noe way unto Melancholy, wch is purely sadnes without a reasonable cause. You shall never want our dayly Prayers & also our frequent Letters. God bless you both. I rest,

Yr Loveing father,
-from The Prose of Sir Thomas Browne edited by Norman J. Endicott (Garden City, New York: Anchor, 1967) p. 495-496.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ursula Nordstrom to the Reys

To Margaret and H. A. Rey*

October 29, 1945.

Dear Reys:

The Librarian I wish you would meet in Chicago is Miss Agatha Shea, of the Chicago Public Library, main branch. I've written her that you may get in touch with her and that I hope you will meet each other even if briefly.

Miss Shea is a perfectly grand woman, with a sensible, vigorous, intelligent approach to children's books. I think I mentioned over the 'phone that several of the New York librarians are not overly fond of her, because she has locked horns with them on several occasions. She is the librarian who told me years ago not to worry about what this librarian and that librarian thought, that her advice to me was to go ahead and do the books I liked and believed in, and let the various library cliques take them or leave them. Perhaps I shouldn't write this (please burn the letter) but I've always appreciated her hearty and friendly comments on Harper children's books. She and I haven't always agreed on various books but even when we've argued, I've never felt she was stuffy about them.

Margaret, Miss Shea is not young and beautiful like you. But she is well worth knowing. I told her, in my letter, that you and Rey might telephone but added that if you didn't it would just be because you hesitated to interrupt one of her busy days. So if your time in Chicago is too rushed, don't worry about getting in touch with her.

I hope you have lots of fun. Please remember every single thing so you can describe the trip to me in detail. I hope you are impressed with the Mississippi River.

Ursula Nordstrom

*Author/illustrator team. The Reys had been living in Paris at the time of the Nazi invasion. Fleeing to America, they took an apartment in New York's Greenwich Village not far from UN's. Harper became the Reys' second publisher after Houghton Mifflin, which had been lucky enough in 1941 to secure American rights to Curious George. The Reys' Harper books included Pretzel (1944) and Spotty (1945), both written by Margaret and illustrated by her husband; in addition, H. A. Rey illustrated Charlotte Zolotow's first book, The Park Book, published by Harper in 1944.

-from Dear Genius: the Collected Letters of Ursula Nordstrum collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus. (New York: Harper Collins, 1998) p. 11-12.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Augustus John's 'Creature' Sells

19. 3. 20

Dear John,

Really, I'm hotter stuff than I thought: the wrathful portrait went off at top speed for a thousand to a Duke! That puts me for the moment easily at the head of the field in your selling plate. Of course I know you will naturally think the glory is yours--but I believe it's due to the exceeding beauty of my face . . . What do artists' models of the best sort fetch per hour (or perhaps per job, for I might fall on a Cezanne, and I don't want to get rich): It seem to me that I have a future. I went to your show last Thursday with Lionel Curtis. We were admiring me, and a person with a military moustache joined us and blurted out 'looks a bloody sort of creature doesn't he?' Curtis with some verve said 'Yes.' I looked very pink. Yours ever.

-from Chiaroscuro: Fragments of Autobiography First Series by Augustus John (London: Jonathan Cape, 1952) p. 246.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hopkins and Ship Wrecks

Mount St. Mary's College, Chesterfield.

April 2, 1878.

My Dearest Bridges,--Your last letter was very kind indeed, but I should have lost all shame if under any circumstances I had allowed such a thing to be as for you to come hundreds of miles to cure me.

I am overjoyed to hear of your and Mrs. Molesworth's intercourse with Oak Hill.

It was pleasing and flattering to hear that Mr. Pater remembers and takes an interest in me.

My muse turned utterly sullen in the Sheffield smoke-ridden air and I had not written a line till the foundering of the Eurydice the other day and that worked on me and I am making a poem--in my own rhythm but in a measure something like Tennyson's Violet (bound with Maud); e.g.--

They say who saw one sea-corpse cold
How he was of lovely manly mould,
Every inch a tar,
Of the best we boast seamen are.

Look, from forelock down to foot he,
Strung by duty is strained to beauty
And russet-of-morning-skinned
With the sun, salt, and whirling wind.

Oh! his nimble finger, his gnarled grip!
Leagues, leagues of seamanship
Slumber in his forsaken
Bones and will not, will not waken.

I have consistently carried out my rhyming system, using the first letter of the next line to complete the rhyme in the line before it.
Well, write those things that 'will tickle me'.

The Deutschland would be more generally interesting if there were more wreck and less discourse, I know, but still it is an ode and not primarily a narrative. There is some narrative in Pindar but the principal business is lyrical. This poem on the Eurydice is hitherto almost all narrative however.

And what are you doing?
From notices in the Athenaeum it would appear that Gosse, Dobson, and Co. are still fumbling with triolets, villanelles, and what not.

Believe me your affectionate friend.

-from The Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges edited with notes & an introduction by Claude Colleer Abbott (London: Oxford University Press, 1935) p.47-49.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ruskin Refuses

Matt. P. Fraser, Esq.
President of the Conservative Club

Concerning the Lord Rectorship of Glasgow University

Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, 10th June, 1880.

My Dear Sir: I am greatly flattered by your letter, but there are two reasons why I can't stand--the first, that though I believe myself the stanchest Conservative in the British Islands, I hold some opinions, and must soon clearly utter them, concerning both lands and rents, which I fear the Conservative Club would be very far from sanctioning, and think Mr. Bright himself had been their safer choice. The second, that I am not in the least disposed myself to stand in any contest where it is possible that Mr. Bright might beat me.

Are there really no Scottish gentlemen of birth and learning from whom you could choose a Rector worthier than Mr. Bright? and better able than any Southron to rectify what might be oblique, or hold straight what wasn't yet so, in a Scottish University?

Might I ask the favor of the transmission of a copy of this letter to the Independent Club? It will save me the difficulty of repetition in other terms.--And believe me, my dear sir, always the club's and your faithful servant,

J. Ruskin

-from The Complete Works of John Ruskin (London: The Chesterfield Society, n.d.) vol. xxiii, p. 195 of Arrows of the Chase: Being a Collection of Scattered Letters.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

R. L. Stevenson Tries His Hand

To Professor Aeneas Mackay

Kinnaird Cottage, Pitlochry, Perthshire June 21, 1881.

My Dear Mackay,-- What is this I hear?--that you are retiring from your chair? It is not, I hope, from ill-health?
But if you are retiring, may I ask if you have promised your support to any successor? I have a great mind to try. The summer session would suit me; the chair would suit me--if only I would suit it; I certainly should work it hard: that I can promise. I only wish it were a few years from now, when I hope to have something more substantial to show for myself. Up to the present time, all that I have published, even bordering on history, has been in an occasional form, and I fear this is much against me.

Please let me hear a word in answer, and believe me, yours very sincerely,

-from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson (New Haven: Yale University Press )Volume 1, page 69.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

George Borrow Invited Out

To George Borrow, Esq., Oulton Hall, Lowestoft

Heavitree, Jany, 28, 1846.

Querido Don Jorge,--How are you getting on in health and spirits? and how has this absence of winter suited you? Are you inclined for a run up to town next week? I propose to do so, and Murray, who has got Washington Irving, etc., to dine thought you could be induced to join us. Let me whisper in your ear, yea: it will do you good and give change of air, scene and thought: we will go and beat up the renowned Billy Harper, and see how many more ribs are stove in.

I have been doing a paper for the Q. R. on Spanish Architecture; how gets on the Lavengro? I see the "gypsies" are coming out in the Colonial which will have a vast sale.
John Murray seems to be flourishing in spite of corn and railomania.

Remember me kindly and respectfully to your Ladies, and beg them to tell you what good it will do you to have a frisk up to town, and a little quiet chat with your pal and amigo.
Richard Ford

-from The Life of George Borrow by Clement K. Shorter (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, n. d.(1919)) p. 167.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mavis Gallant in Paris

October 31 [1950]

Dear Billy,

All our problems seem to be very basic in this city--how to keep warm, where to get the most to eat for the least money, and how to get rid of a cold. I think I mind the cold more than anything. My room is enormous and the radiator very small indeed. Around three o'clock in the afternoon it seems to reach its lowest temperature and if I am working my hands get numb and I have to soak them in warm water. I can now understand why the French never sleep alone. They aren't any sexier than any other race, but it's the only way of keeping warm. . . Actually I like Paris and if I find I can provide myself with some sort of income, I shall try to find an apartment and stay for a bit . . .

Are you coming over this winter, and if so when? I can show you all the places where one can eat under 300 francs [less than a dollar]--I've become an expert. . . .Much love,

-from Getting Started: a Memoir of the 1950s, with letters from Mordecai Richler, Mavis Gallant and Brian Moore by William Weintraub (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2001) p. 12.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Arthur Rimbaud alias Alcide Bava

Charleville, Ardennes, 15 August 1871.

Sir and cher Maitre,

Do you remember receiving from the province, in June 1870, a hundred or a hundred and fifty mythological hexameters entitled Credo in unam? You were kind enough to answer!

The same imbecile is sending you the above verses, signed Alcide Bava--I beg your pardon.

I am eighteen.--I will always love the verses of Banville.
Last year I was only seventeen!
Have I made any progress?

Alcide Bava
A.[rthur] R.[imbaud]

-from Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters translation, introduction and notes by Wallace Fowlie (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975 [6th impression]) p. 313.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Trollope Hangs Thackeray

To George Smith

July 6 1864

This morning we hung Thackeray up in our library, and we are very much obliged to you for the present*,--not only in that it is in itself so valuable, but more especially because it is so suited to our feelings. To-day we go into the [new] Garrick Club and have an initiatory dinner at which as Chairman I shall propose his memory. I heard yesterday from Shirley B[rooks] that the Dean of Westminster has consented to put up a memorial (whether bust or statue is not yet decided) and the subscription list is now opened. I have been nervous about this lest the time should slip away. The next thing will be to have a perfect edition of his works, --for which we must look to you.

*George Smith presented Trollope with a portrait of Thackeray by Samuel Laurence.

-from Trollope: A Commentary by Michael Sadlier (London: Constable & Co., 1945 {1927}) p.257.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Arthur Rimbaud in the Spring

To Theodore de Banville

Charleville (Ardennes), 24 May 1870.

Dear Maitre,

We are in the months of love; I am seventeen.* The age of hope and dreams, they say--and now I have begun, a child touched by the finger of the Muse--excuse me if this is banal--to express my good beliefs, my hopes, my sensations, all those things dear to poets--and this I call the spring.

If I send you some of these verses--and this thanks to Alph. Lemerre, the good publisher--it is because I love all poets, all good Parnassians--since the poet is a Parnassian--in love with ideal beauty. It is because I esteem in you, quite simply, a descendant of Rimbaud, a brother of our masters of 1830, a real romantic, a real poet. That is why. This is foolishness, isn't it? but still?

In two years, in one year perhaps, I will be in Paris,--Anch'io, gentlemen of the press, I will be a Parnassian! I do not know what is inside me . . .that wants to come out . . . . I swear, cher Maitre, I will always worship the two goddesses, the Muse and Liberty.
Do not frown too much as you read these verses . . . .You would make me delirious with joy and hope, if you were willing, cher Maitre, to make room for the poem Credo in unam among the Parnassians . . . . I would like to be in the last issue of Parnasse; it would become the Credo of the poets! . . . . O mad Ambition!

*Rimbaud was actually fifteen on this date. The poem Rimbaud calls Credo in unam is later entitled Soleil et chair.

-from Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters translation, introduction and notes by Wallace Fowlie (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, [6th impress.] 1975) p. 297-299.

Monday, July 9, 2007

E. B. White to Groucho Marx

April 12, 1954.

Dear Mr. Marx,

Before our correspondence attains the intensity of the Shaw-Terry letters, I want to explain my suspension in the spirit world--which is sometimes misinterpreted. Ross had a theory that if he could throw me with a better class of people, I might be more productive. (Ross entertained some incredibly unsound ideas and at great cost to himself.)
At any rate, once in a while he would pry me loose, and on the whole they were miserable experiences for the person who got involved. I think of an evening when he attempted to throw me with Ginger Rogers and we all went down to Chinatown for a debauch that should live forever in Miss Rogers' memory as an example of midnight stagnation. (Another Ross illusion was that he understood Chinese food.)

It is nice here in the spirit world and if you get here I would like to buy you a drink. Garbo is here. We maintain separate residences, for appearances' sake.

-from Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987) p. 132.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Groucho Marx to E. B. White

To E. B. White

April 5, 1954.

Dear Mr. White,

I received your note. I am now willing to concede that you are a fairly migratory gent. When I arrived in New York I was told you were in Florida. When I called you again they said you were in Maine.

I went to New York ostensibly to do the Rodgers and Hammerstein festival. Actually I came to New York to cut up some touches with the author of "Charlotte's Web."

Some years ago I had a dinner date with you and Ross. He showed up but you failed to appear. It's strange--I have no difficulty meeting Nick Kenny, Toots Shor, and other minor luminaries in New York, but you have adopted the mantle of Garbo and to me you are just a wraithlike figure who lives suspended in a spirit world.

Sincerely yours,

Groucho Marx

-from Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987) p. 131.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ralph Ellison to Albert Murray

March 22, 1950.
608 Fifth Ave.

Dear Murray:

What goes? Are you going abroad or not? I wrote you last month but received no answer. As you can see I'm back in Steegmuller's office pounding away. Book almost finished--I hope. There'll be rewriting to do but the main thing will be over. Right now it reads like a three-ring circus. All the anti-violence boys will blow their tops should it come their way. Regards to Mozelle from us two.

-from Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray edited by Albert Murray and John F. Callahan; Introduction by John F. Callahan (New York: Modern Library, 2000) p. 10.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Margaret Fuller Visits George Sand

Naples, March 17, 1847.

. . . Our eyes met. I never shall forget her look at that moment. The doorway made a frame for her figure; she is large, but well-formed. She was dressed in a robe of dark violet silk, with a black mantle on her shoulders, her beautiful hair dressed with the greatest taste, her whole appearance and attitude, in its simple and ladylike dignity, presenting an almost ludicrous contrast to the vulgar caricature idea of George Sand. Her face is a very little like the portraits, but much finer; the upper part of the forehead and eyes are beautiful, the lower, strong and masculine, expressive of a hardy temperament and strong passions, but not in the least coarse; the complexion olive, and the air of the whole head Spanish, (as, indeed, she was born at Madrid, and is only on one side of French blood.) All these details I saw at a glance; but what fixed my attention was the expression of goodness, nobleness, and power, that pervaded the whole,--the truly human heart and nature that shone in the eyes. As our eyes met, she said, "C'est vous," and held out her hand. I took it, and went into her little study; we sat down a moment, then I said, "Il me fait de bien de vous voir," and I am sure I said it with my whole heart, for it made me very happy to see such a woman, so large and so developed a character, and everything that is good in it so really good. I loved, shall always love her.

She looked away, and said, "Ah! vous m'avez ecrit une lettre charmante." This was all the preliminary of our talk, which then went on as if we had always known one another. . . .

Her way of talking is just like her writing,--lively, picturesque, with an undertone of deep feeling, and the same skill in striking the nail on the head every now and then with a blow.

We did not talk at all of personal or private matters. I saw, as one sees in her writings, the want of an independent, interior life, but I did not feel it as a fault, there is so much in her of her kind. I heartily enjoyed the sense of so rich, so prolific, so ardent a genius. I liked the woman in her, too, very much; I never liked a woman better. . . .

I forgot to mention, that, while talking, she does smoke all the time her little cigarette. This is now a common practice among ladies abroad, but I believe originated with her. . . .

[Margaret Fuller]

-from The Friendly Craft: a Collection of American Letters edited by Elizabeth Deering Hanscom, Ph.D. (New York: Macmillan, 1908) p. 178-179.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sydney Smith to Francis Jeffrey

Postmark: June 1801

My dear Jeffrey
After a vertigo of one fortnight in London, I am now undergoing that species of hybernation or suspended existence, called a pleasant fortnight in the country. I behave myself quietly and decently as becomes a Corpse, and hope to regain the rational and immortal part of my composition about the 20th of this month.

Nothing has pleased me more in London than the conversation of Macintosh. I never saw so theoretical a head which contained so much practical understanding. He has lived much among various men with great observation, and has always tried his profound moral speculations by the experience of life. He has not contracted in the world a lazy contempt for theorists, nor in the closet a peevish impatience of that grossness and corruptibility of mankind, which are ever marring the schemes of secluded benevolence. He does not wish for the best in politics or morals but for the best which can be attained; and what that is, he seems to know well . . .

. . . Read Parr's sermon, and tell me how you like it. I think it dull, with occasional passages of Eloquence. His notes are very entertaining. You will find in them a great compliment to my brother. Excuse my ending my letter so soon. I write in great haste . . . Write a book--I exclaim of my friend as Job did of his enemy. Yrs. my dear Jeffrey with great regard.

-from Selected Letters of Sydney Smith edited by Nowell C. Smith; with an introduction by Auberon Waugh (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981) p. 17-18.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

John Adams to his Wife Abigail

[from Philadelphia, 1776]

. . . The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.

You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not. . . .

-from The Friendly Craft: a Collection of American Letters edited by Elizabeth Deering Hanscom, Ph.D. (New York: Macmillan, 1908) p. 268-269.
[Happy Independence Day]

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Boswell to his Wife Margaret

3 July 1786 [London]

My Dearest Life, That I am very selfish you have told me, and I have acknowledged it. But I am not so excessively selfish as to resist your very strong and persuasive letter of the 23 June, in which you describe the uneasiness it would give you should our family be removed to London and the desolation of Auchinleck so feelingly, that I yield to you. . .

For some time past, my constitutional melancholy has been grievous. The solitude of this house has frightened me into constant dissipation. I do not mean vice but a perpetual succession of company; and my mind has been quite unhinged. My anxiety about you and the children has been dreary, and I have upbraided myself for neglecting you.

I am now convinced that there is no probability of my getting great practice at the English bar; and therefore there is not an adequate reason for putting you and my children into a state of inferiority and running the risk of their being estranged from Auchinleck.

The difficult question then is, what should be done? Lady Forbes says that if you are assured that I will return with you to Scotland in the spring you will have no objection to come to London and bring Veronica and Phemie and pass the winter; and your mind being relieved from the imagination of being banished forever from your country and friends, that much of London would do you no harm and then I shall have made a fair trial of my chance in Westminster Hall. But, in truth, I already see clearly that I have so poor a chance that it is not advisable to persist. Mr Malone thinks otherwise, and I am loath to contradict his opinion. Yet is is shocking to me, who have been used to have a competent share of practice, to be altogether without it, and I am impatient and fretful. Lady Forbes and Sir William are full of your kind attention to them last winter, and have proposed that as it may be better for Sandy to be at the High School while we are in London, he shall be at their house as one of their own sons. How agreeable is it to be so well with them! My next consideration is Dr Johnson's Life, which it is necessary I should get ready for the press soon, that the public attention may not be diverted to some other object; and as I have collected a great variety of materials, it will probably be a work of considerable value. Mr Malone thinks I can write it nowhere but in London. But I feel that it is almost impossible for me to settle to it here on account of the agitation to which I have been used; and, especially in the present state of my mind, how can I settle to it, when I am in a kind of fever to think of my absence from her I love, and who is my own, and with whose illness I was lately so deeply alarmed? . . .

[James Boswell]

-from The Essential Boswell: Selections from the Writings of James Boswell selected and edited by Peter Martin. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003) p. 289-290.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Aldrich on Browning in his Pajahmas

To George E. Woodberry

Ponkapog, Mass., June 12, 1899.

Dear Woodberry,--Don't ever go away from home on a ten months' absence without leaving somebody behind to answer your letters for you. I have been swamped, and am only just getting my head out of my correspondence. I found my private affairs in a tangle, too, and not easy to straighten out. But the slug's in the bud, and God's in the sky, and the world is O. K., as Browning incidentally remarks. A propos of Browning, I've been reading his letters to "Ba" and "Ba's" letters to him and think it a shameful thing that they should be printed. All that ponderous love-making--a queer mixture of Greek roots and middle-age sickliness ("Ba" was 40 years old)--is very tedious. Here and there is a fine passage, and one is amused by the way the lovers patronize everybody they don't despise. But as a whole the book takes away from Browning's dignity. A man--even the greatest cannot stand being photographed in his pajahmas. Thank God, we are spared Shakespeare's letters to Anne Hathaway! Doubtless he wrote her some sappy notes. He did everything that ever man did.
. . .In haste as ever,

P. S. I met Browning on three occasions. He was very cordial to me in a man-of-the-world fashion. I did not care greatly for him personally. Good head, long body, short legs. Seated, he looked like a giant; standing, he just missed being a dwarf. He talked well, but not so well as Lowell. . . .

-from The Friendly Craft: a Collection of American Letters edited by Elizabeth Deering Hanscom, Ph.D. (New York: Macmillan, 1908) p. 202-203.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A Prime Minister to his Brother

Office of the Prime Minister

July 18, 1959.

Dear Elmer,
I am in my office at the moment and it is now 3:00 P.M. and the House has been sitting continuously since 11 o'clock this morning and there is some hope that we may finish today. That is the expectation, but by the time you receive the letter you will know whether the objective was attained.

Last evening we sat until after midnight and as always near the end of the session the accumulation of work and the long hours make everybody short-tempered and bellicose. I am told that at the very moment Pickersgill is charging me with political interference, but I am not going near the place.

Olive and I hope to go out to the country place tonight no matter whether the proceedings end here, and while tomorrow will be no rest it will at least be a change. I have two major speeches to make on Monday in Quebec and have not any new material, and for that matter no ideas. Three of four have given me their suggestions and when I throw the omelet together tomorrow morning I will have to unscramble it and come up with something.

. . . While I have pressing invitations from Italy, Turkey and the Union of South Africa, I am going to stay in Canada. I have quite a number of appointments in the next few months but intend to reduce them to a minimum. I would like to speak once in each province before the next session begins although that is a big prospect.
On Monday Joey Smallwood is going to bring a Motion before the Newfoundland Legislature asking for unanimous support for a resolution condemning my Government. Two Conservative members in the Legislature, Higgins and Duffy, will leave the Conservative Party and become Independents. The other two will not, and Joey has intimated that unless the vote is unanimous he will immediately go to the country. Under those circumstances I would not sincerely have a visit to Newfoundland in mind, although I did intend to spend three days there this summer.

I can't tell you yet when we will be coming West but it will not be long. I am glad to have your report that crop conditions are good and that the rains have brought about real hope for the wheat farmers. . .

With all good wishes,

P.S. I will phone you tomorrow. Please send me a list of the accounts I paid for Mother during 1958--hospital, nurses etc.

-from Personal Letters of a Public Man: The Family Letters of John G. Diefenbaker edited by Thad McIlroy; with an Introduction by J. L. Granatstein (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1985) p.93-95.