Friday, April 25, 2008

a contract with time

Heinrich Heine to Rahel Varnhagen Von Ense.

Berlin, April 12, 1823.

I am going away soon and I beg you not altogether to throw away my image into the lumber room of oblivion. I could make no reprisals, and though I were to say to myself a hundred times a day, "You will forget Frau von Varnhagen!" it could not be. Forget me not! You cannot excuse yourself on the score of bad memory, your spirit has made a contract with time, and if after some hundreds of years I have the pleasure of seeing you as the fairest and most beautiful of all the flowers in the fairest and most beautiful of all the valleys of heaven, then you will have the kindness to greet me as a holly tree (or shall I be something worse?), as an old acquaintance with your friendly glance and your soft breathing sweetness. It is sure that you will do so. You have done so in the years 1822 and 1823 when you treated me, a sick, bitter, morose, poetic, and insufferable human being, with a kindliness and goodness which I have certainly not deserved in this life, and must owe alone to tender recollections of an earlier acquaintance . . .
H. H.

-from Heinrich Heine's Memoirs from his Works, Letters, and Conversations edited by Gustav Karpeles translated by Gilbert Cannan (London: William Heinemann, 1910) vol. 1.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

some praise and bitter censure

Heinrich Heine to Ferdinand Dummler.

Berlin, Jan. 5, 1823.

Our mutual friends have praised your activity and loyalty. Because, being sharpened by experience, I do most loyally esteem these qualities in a bookseller, more than any other interest, I now make you a proposal to publish one of my books.* It contains (1) a little tragedy (some three and a half printer's sheets long), the main idea of which is to be a substitute for the usual Fate, and will certainly cause a stir in the reading world; (2) a longer dramatic poem, called "Almansor" the matter of which is religious and polemical; it is concerned with topics of the day, and will cover perhaps a little more than six sheets, and (3) a cycle of humorous poems in folk-song metre that will take up three to three and a half sheets; some of them have appeared in the journals, and by their originality have excited much interest, some praise and bitter censure. As to the little tragedy which I have designed for the stage, where it is certain to be produced, I will give you its title and contents as soon as I find that you are not averse to my proposal. I do not want it to be known here before it has begun to be printed, and only two people, Professor Gubitz and Councillor Varnhagen von Ense have seen it.

I cannot myself pass any judgment upon my own worth as a poet. I will only say that my poems have excited extraordinary attention throughout Germany, and that the very violence of the hostility with which they have been assailed here and there is itself no bad sign . . .

I do not think I am much known here in Berlin; but I am better known in my own country on the Rhine and in Westphalia, where, as I hear from all sides, there is great anticipation of the appearance of my long expected book of poems, and its greatest sale will certainly be there

*Tragödien, nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo (Berlin: Dummler, 1823)

-from Heinrich Heine's Memoirs from his Works, Letters, and Conversations edited by Gustav Karpeles translated by Gilbert Cannan (London: William Heinemann, 1910) vol. 1.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

reverencing and admiring

Miss F. Burney to Dr. Burney.

Monday, June 19th, 1786.

How great must have been your impatience, dearest sir! but my interview has only this morning taken place. Everything is settled, and tomorrow morning I go to the Queen's Lodge, to see the apartments, and to receive my instructions. I must confess myself extremely frightened and full of alarms, at a change of situation so great, so unexpected, so unthought of. Whether I shall suit it or not, heaven only knows, but I have a thousand doubts. Yet nothing could be sweeter than the Queen, more encouraging, more gentle, or more delicate. She did not ask me one question concerning my qualifications for the charge; she only said, with the most condescending softness, "I am sure, Miss Burney, we shall suit one another very well." And, another time, "I am sure we shall do very well together." And what is it, dear Sir, you suppose to be my business? Not to attend any of the Princesses but the Queen herself! This, indeed, was a delightful hearing, reverencing and admiring her as I have so sincerely done ever since I first saw her. And in this, my amazement is proportioned to my satisfaction ; for the place designed me is that of Mrs. Haggerdorn, who came with her from Germany, and it will put me more immediately and more constantly in her presence than any other place, but that of Mrs. Schwellenberg, in the Court. The prepossession the Queen has taken in my favor is truly extraordinary, for it seems as if her real view was, as Mr. Smelt hinted, to attach me to her person. She has been long, she told Mrs. Delany, looking out for one to supply the place of Mrs. Haggerdorn, whose ill health forces her back to Germany; "and I was led to think of Miss Burney, first by her books: then by seeing her; then by always hearing how she was loved by her friends; but chiefly by your friendship for her." I fancy my appointment will take place very soon.
F. B.

-from The Diary and Letters of Frances Burney, Madame D'Arblay. revised and edited by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey in 2 volumes (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880), vol. 1.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

unexpected condescension

Frances Burney to Miss Cambridge.

Monday, June, 1786.

"I will share," says my dearest Miss Cambridge, in a letter, not long ago, "in all your cares all your joys.' Is it fair in me, beginning, perforce, by the worst, to take you at your generous word? Yes, I hope it is for would you have invited such a participation, and not have wished it? No, I know your noble sincerity too well, and I call upon you to speak to me in those words you would speak to yourself, when I have told you the subject of my present difficulty. It is only by minds such as yours as my Susan's, Mrs. Delany's and Mrs. Locke's my four invaluable friends, that I can hope to be even understood, when I speak of difficulty and distress from a proposal apparently only advantageous. But Susan's wishes are so certainly and invariably my own, that I wish to spare her from hearing of this matter till the decision is made; Mrs. Delany, with all her indulgent partiality, is here too deeply interested on the other side to be consulted without paining her; and Mrs. Locke has an enthusiasm in her kindness that makes every plan seem cruel to her that puts or keeps us asunder. In this particular case, therefore, I shall apply for no opinion but yours, yours, which I may here peculiarly trust, from knowing that it unites the two precise qualities that suit it for judging my situation, a strong sense of duty, with a disinterested love of independence. And you are liberal enough, too, I am sure, to permit me openly to tell you that I do not beg your advice with a premeditated resolution to follow it; but simply with a view to weigh and compare your ideas with my own, in the same manner I should do could I talk the matter over with you instead of writing it.

I now come straight to the point. Yesterday evening, while I was with Mrs. Delany, Mr. Smelt arrived from Windsor, and desired a private conference with her; and, when it was over, a separate one with me; surprising me not a little, by entreating me to suffer some very home questions from him, relative to my situation, my views, and even my wishes, with respect to my future life. At first, I only laughed: but my merriment a little failed me, when he gave me to understand he was commissioned to make these inquiries by a great personage, who had conceived so favorable an opinion of me as to be desirous of undoubted information, whether or not there was a probability she might permanently attach me to herself and her family. You cannot easily, my dear Miss Cambridge, picture to yourself the consternation with which I received this intimation. It was such that the good and kind Mr. Smelt, perceiving it, had the indulgence instantly to offer me his services, first, in forbearing to mention even to my father his commission, and next in fabricating and carrying back for me a respectful excuse. And I must always consider myself the more obliged to him, as I saw in his own face the utmost astonishment and disappointment at this reception of his embassy. I could not, however, reconcile to myself concealing from my dear father a matter that ought to be settled by himself; yet I frankly owned to Mr. Smelt that no situation of that sort was suited to my own taste, or promising to my own happiness. He seemed equally sorry and surprised; he expatiated warmly upon the sweetness of character of all the royal family, and then begged me to consider the very peculiar distinction shown me, that, unsolicited, unsought, I had been marked out with such personal favor by the Queen herself, as a person with whom she had been so singularly pleased, as to wish to settle me with one of the princesses, in preference to the thousands of offered candidates, of high birth and rank, but small fortunes, who were waiting and supplicating for places in the new-forming establishment. Her Majesty proposed giving me apartments in the palace; making me belong to the table of Mrs. Schwellenberg, with whom all her own visitors bishops, lords, or commons, always dine; keeping me a footman, and settling on me 200 a year.

My dear Miss Cambridge will easily feel that this was a plea not to be answered. Yet the attendance upon this Princess was to be incessant, the confinement to the court continual; was scarce ever to be spared for a single visit from the palaces, nor to receive anybody but with permission, and, my dear Miss Cambridge, what a life for me, who have friends so dear to me, and to whom friendship is the balm, the comfort, the very support of existence! Don't think me ungrateful, meanwhile, to the sweet Queen, for thus singling out and distinguishing an obscure and most unambitious individual. No indeed, I am quite penetrated with her partial and most unexpected condescension: but yet, let me go through, for her sake, my tasks with what cheerfulness I may, the deprivations I must suffer would inevitably keep me from all possibility of happiness. Though I said but little, my dear Mrs. Delany was disturbed, and good Mr. Smelt much mortified, that a proposition which had appeared to them the most nattering and honorable, should be heard only with dejection. I cast, however, the whole into my father's disposal and pleasure. But I have time for no more detail, than merely to say, that till the offer comes in form, no positive answer need be given, and therefore that I am yet at liberty.

Write to me, then, my dearest Miss Cambridge, with all your fullest honesty, and let me know which you wish to strengthen my courage in making my real sentiments openly known, or my fortitude in concealing what it may be right I should endure. The moment this affair is decided, as I shall then strive to make the best of it, whatever be my decision, I shall entreat you to return me this letter, or commit it to the flames. The measles will keep off any meetings at Windsor for some time. I hope, therefore, to receive your answer before I am obliged to speak finally. Can you forgive me this trouble? If matters take the turn I so much dread, I shall not give you much more! If it should be in my power, I still intend to defer my going to Windsor till all this is arranged. Adieu! my dearest Miss Cambridge; I am sorry to send you a letter written in such confusion of mind.
[Frances Burney]

-from The Diary and Letters of Frances Burney, Madame D'Arblay. revised and edited by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey in 2 volumes (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880), vol. 1.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I will endeavor, however

Miss F. Burney to her sister Esther Burney.

Windsor Dec. 17th, 1785.

My Dearest HETTY,
I am sorry I could not more immediately write; but I really have not had a moment since your last. Now I know what you next want is, to hear accounts of kings, queens, and such royal personages. O ho! Do you so? Well. Shall I tell you a few matters of fact? or, had you rather a few matters of etiquette? Oh, matters of etiquette, you cry! for matters of fact are short and stupid, and anybody can tell, and everybody is tired with them. Very well, take your own choice.

You would never believe, you, who distant from courts and courtiers, know nothing of their ways and the many things to be studied for appearing with a proper propriety before crowned heads. Heads without crowns are quite other sort of rotundas. Now, then, to the etiquette. I inquired into every particular, that no error might be committed. And as there is no saying what may happen in this mortal life, I shall give you those instructions I have received myself, that, should you find yourself in the royal presence, you may know how to comport yourself.

Directions for coughing, sneezing, or moving, before the King and Queen: In the first place you must not cough. If you find a cough tickling in your throat, you must arrest it from making any sound; if you find yourself choking with the forbearance, you must choke but not cough. In the second place, you must not sneeze. If you have a vehement cold, you must take no notice of it; if your nose membranes feel a great irritation, you must hold your breath; if a sneeze still insists upon making its way, you must oppose it, by keeping your teeth grinding together; if the violence of the repulse breaks some blood-vessel, you must break the blood-vessel but not sneeze. In the third place, you must not, upon any account, stir either hand or foot. If, by chance, a black pin runs into your head, you must not take it out. If the pain is very great, you must be sure to bear it without wincing; if it brings the tears into your eyes, you must not wipe them off; if they give you a tingling by running down your cheeks, you must look as if nothing was the matter. If the blood should gush from your head by means of the black pin, you must let it gush; if you are uneasy to think of making such a blurred appearance, you must be uneasy, but you must say nothing about it. If, however, the agony is very great, you may, privately, bite the inside of your cheek, or of your lips, for a little relief; taking care, meanwhile, to do it so cautiously as to make no apparent dent outwardly. And, with that precaution, if you even gnaw a piece out, it will not be minded; only be sure either to swallow it, or commit it to a corner of the inside of your mouth till they are gone for you must not spit.

I have many other directions, but no more paper; I will endeavor, however, to have them ready for you in time. Perhaps, meanwhile, you will be glad to know if I have myself had opportunity to put in practice these receipts? How can I answer in this little space?

My love to Mr. B. and the little ones, and remember me kindly to cousin Edward, and believe me, my dearest Esther, most affectionately yours, F. B.

-from The Diary and Letters of Frances Burney, Madame D'Arblay. revised and edited by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey in 2 volumes (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880), vol. 1.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

long expectation

Miss F. Burney to Mrs. Phillips.

St. Martin's Street
February 25, 1782.

re you quite enraged with me, my dearest Susy ? Indeed, I think I am with myself, for not sooner and oftener writing to you; and every night when I go to bed, and every morning when I wake, I determine shall be the last I will do either again till I have written to you. But helas! my pens get so fagged, and my hands so crippled, when I have been up two or three hours, that my resolution wavers, and I sin on, till the time of rest and meditation, and then I repent again. Forgive me, however, my dearest girl, and pray pay me not in kind; for, as Charlotte would say, kind that would not be, however deserved and just.

My work* is too long in all conscience for the hurry of my people to have it produced. I have a thousand million of fears for it. The mere copying, without revising and correcting, would take at least ten weeks, for I cannot do more than a volume in a fortnight, unless I scrawl short hand and rough hand as badly as the original. Yet my dear father thinks it will be published in a month! Since you went I have copied one volume and a quarter no more! 'Oh, I am sick to think of it! Yet not a little reviving is my father's very high approbation of the first volume, which is all he has seen. I totally forget whether, in my last, I told you I had presented it to him? but I am sure you would never forget, for the pleasure you would have felt for me, had you seen or heard him reading any part of it. Would you ever believe, bigoted as he was to "Evelina," that he now says he thinks this a superior design and superior execution? You can never half imagine the delight this has given me. It is answering my first wish and first ambition in life. And though I am certain, and though he thinks himself, it will never be so popular as "Evelina," his so warm satisfaction will make me amends for almost any mortification that may be in store for me.

One thing frets me a good deal, which is, that my book affair has got wind, and seems almost everywhere known, notwithstanding my earnestness and caution to have it kept snug till the last. Mr. Barry, t'other day, told me he had heard from Miss Mudge what, &c., &c., he had soon to expect from me. The Hooles have both told Charlotte how glad they are in the good news they hear; and Mrs. Boyle and the strangers take it for granted, they say, that I am too busy for visiting! Mrs. Ord, also, attacked me very openly about it, and I have seen nobody else. It is easy to guess whence this comes, but not easy to stop its course, or to prevent the mischief of long expectation, any more than the great disagreement of being continually interrogated upon the subject. I thank you most heartily for your two sweet letters, my ever dearest Susy, and equally for the kindness they contain and the kindness they accept. . . . .

*Her novel "Cecilia."

[Scarlatti - Sonata No. 15 in D minor]

-from The Diary and Letters of Frances Burney, Madame D'Arblay. revised and edited by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey in 2 volumes (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880), vol. 1.

Friday, April 18, 2008

constancy invariable

Miss F. Burney to Mrs. Thrale.

[July] 1780.

obody does write such sweet letters as my dear Mrs. Thrale, and I would sooner give up a month's allowance of meat, than my week's allowance of an epistle. The report of the parliament's dissolution I hope is premature. I inquire of everybody I see about it, and always hear that it is expected now to last almost as long as it can last. Why, indeed, should government wish to dissolve it, when they meet with no opposition from it? Since I wrote last I have drunk tea with Dr. Johnson. My father took me to Boltcourt, and we found him, most fortunately, with only one brass-headed cane gentleman. Since that, I have had the pleasure to meet him again at Mrs. Reynolds's, when he offered to take me with him to Grubstreet, to see the ruins of the house demolished there in the late riots, by a mob that, as he observed, could be no friend to the Muses! He inquired if I had ever yet visited Grubstreet? but was obliged to restrain his anger when I answered "yes to," because he acknowledged he had never paid his respects to it himself. "However," says he, "you and I, Burney, will go together; we have a very good right to go, so we'll visit the mansions of our progenitors, and take up our own freedom together." There 's for you, madam! What can be grander?

Yesterday I drank tea at Sir Joshua's, and met by accident with Mrs. Cholmondeley; I was very glad to find that her spirits are uninjured by her misfortunes; she was as gay, flighty, entertaining, and frisky as ever. Her spouse is not confined, as was said; he is only gone upon his travels: she seems to bear his absence with remarkable fortitude. After all, there is something in her very attractive; her conversation is so spirited, so humorous, so enlivening, that she does not suffer one's attention to rest, much less to flag, for hours together.

Sir Joshua told me he was now at work upon your pictures, touching them up for Streatham, and that he has already ordered the frames, and shall have them quite ready whenever the house is in order for them.

Adieu, dearest madam, and from me accept not only love, and not only respects, but both, and gratitude, and warmest wishes, and constancy invariable into the bargain.

[Charles Avison Concerto grosso, n. 5]

-from The Diary and Letters of Frances Burney, Madame D'Arblay. revised and edited by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey in 2 volumes (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880), vol. 1.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

counting laurels

Miss F. Burney to Miss S. Burney.

Chesington, July 5, 1778.

My Dearest Susy,

Don't you think there must be some wager depending among the little curled imps who hover over us mortals, of how much flummery goes to turn the head of an authoress? Your last communication very near did my business, for, meeting Mr. Crisp ere I had composed myself, I " tipt him such a touch of the heroics" as he has not seen since the time when I was so much celebrated for dancing "Nancy Dawson." I absolutely longed to treat him with one of Captain Mirvan's frolics, and to fling his wig out of the window. I restrained myself, however, from the apprehension that they would imagine I had a universal spite to that harmless piece of goods, which I have already been known to treat with no little indignity. He would fain have discovered the reason of my skittishness; but as I could not tell it him, I was obliged to assure him it would be lost time to inquire further into my flights, since " true no meaning puzzles more than wit," and therefore, begging the favor of him to " set me down an ass" I suddenly retreated.

My dear, dear Dr. Johnson! what a charming man you are! Mrs. Cholmondeley*, too, I am not merely prepared but determined to admire; for really she has shown so much penetration and sound sense of late, that I think she will bring about a union between Wit and Judgment, though their separation has been so long, and though their meetings have been so few.

But, Mrs. Thrale! she she is the goddess of my idolatry! What an eloge is hers! an eloge that not only delights at first, but proves more and more flattering every time it is considered!

I often think when I am counting my laurels, what a pity it would have been had I popped off in my last illness, without knowing what a person of consequence I was! and I sometimes think that, were I now to have a relapse, I could never go off with so much! I am now at the summit of a high hill; my prospects on one side are bright, glowing, and invitingly beautiful; but when I turn round, I perceive, on the other side, sundry caverns, gulfs, pits, and precipices, that, to look at, make my head giddy and my heart sick. I see about me, indeed, many hills of far greater height and sublimity ; but I have not the strength to attempt climbing them; if I move, it must be downwards. I have already, I fear, reached the pinnacle of my abilities, and therefore to stand still will be my best policy.

By the way, not a human being here has the most remote suspicion of the fact; I could not be more secure, were I literally unknown to them. And there is no end to the ridiculous speeches perpetually made to me, by all of them in turn, though quite by accident." An't you sorry this sweet book is done? " said Mrs. Gast. A silly little laugh was the answer. "Ah said Patty, "'tis the sweetest book! don't you think so, Miss Burney? " N. B. Answer as above. "Pray, Miss Fan," says Mrs. Hamilton," who wrote it? ' " Really I never heard." 'Cute enough that, Miss Sukey!

*Mrs. Cholmondeley was wife of the Hon. and Rev. Robert Cholmondeley, and sister of the celebrated Mrs. Margaret [Peg] Woffington.

-from The Diary and Letters of Frances Burney, Madame D'Arblay. revised and edited by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey in 2 volumes (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880), vol. 1.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Rainer Maria Rilke to Adolf Bonz

Im Rheingau, Berlin-Wilmersdorf
[December] 25, 1897 .

want to speak to you in all sincerity now . . . about the poems. You see, my view on this point is purely subjective, and it must be and must remain so. It is not my way to write poems of epic or lyric style that can stand five to ten years of desk air without becoming deathly sick. Short stories and dramas are results that do not age for me, poems, which accompany every phase of my spiritual longing, are experiences through which I ripen. Short stories are chapters, poems are continuations, short stories are an appeal to the public, courtings of its favor and interest, poems are gifts to everyone, presents, bounties; with a short-story book in my hand, I am a petitioner before those who are empty, with poems in my heart, I am king of those who feel. A king, however, who would tell his subjects in ten years how he felt ten years ago, is a sham.

Seven sketchbooks full of things I am burning to utter await my choice, and they must be said either now or never. But because I knew that I would want to say them, I have undertaken to mark each lyric period by a book. Since the Dream Crowned period, seven sketchbooks have come into being and an eighth is begun which seems to me to indicate an entirely new stage. So it is my plain duty to settle accounts with these ripe riches, that is, to commit what is good in them either to the fire or to the book trade. I prefer the latter, for my books have had success, that is, they have awakened here a smile, there a love, there a longing, and have given me an echo of that love, the reflection of that smile and the dream of that longing and have thereby made me richer and riper and purer. Please understand me, I grow up by them, they are my link with the outside, my compromise with the world. Now I can defend the verses as episodes, as little moments of a great becoming, as real, deep spring: if ever I have a name, they would be misunderstood as final products, as maturities, mistaken for summer. I cannot keep my springtime silent in order to give it out some day in summer, old and faded, and were I untrue to my resolve, which for four years has been fulfilled in Life and Songs, Wild Chicory, Offerings to the Lares, Dream Crowned, all further publication, seeming to me a betrayal then, would probably cease too. But I am earnestly sworn to persevere, and this whole attitude is so bound up with my life that I cannot dismiss it. Quite the contrary, if I ever have a name, that is, have become (and the becoming is much too glorious for me to long for that) , then the poems will be entirely superfluous; a selection can then be made, a complete edition which will then also have something about it of a comprehensive result but then they will be blossoms, memories of spring, lovely and warm with the summer that lies over their stillness. Until then is further than from today until tomorrow. What I am saying today is nothing but the word "heart's need" of the other day, a rocket sent into the air, bursting into these thousand words of my innermost conviction. And valued and dear as your advice is to me, you will now not take it amiss any more if I do not follow it, but do everything to consecrate a new book of poems, Days of Celebration, to young '98. I cannot do otherwise, so help me God. . .

-from The Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1892-1910 translated by Jane Bannard Greene and H. D. Herter Norton (New York: W. W. Norton, 1945)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

scorn and uneasiness

Rainer Maria Rilke To Ludivig Ganghofer

8/1 Bliitenstrasse, Munich April 1 6, 1897

Dearest, much honored master, when one has a very dark childhood behind one, in which the everyday resembles walking in dank cold streets and a holiday is like a resting in some narrow, gray, inner court, one becomes diffident. And ever more diffident if, at the age of ten, from these troubled and yet enervated days one is deposited in the rough activity of a military institution where, above the longing for love that has scarcely come to consciousness, an icy, wild duty rages away like a winter storm, and where the lonely, helpless heart after unhealthy coddling experiences unreasonable brutality. Then comes the crisis: the child becomes either indifferent or unhappy. I became the latter. A strong disposition toward excessive piety grew to a kind of madness under the influence of the spiritual loneliness and the coercion of an odious duty hard as fate. The blows I often endured from mischievous comrades or coarse superiors I felt as happiness and went in for the idea of a false martyrdom. The continual excitement of this almost ecstatic joy in torment, the passing of the hours of recovery in the institution chapel, the excruciating sleeplessness of nights frantic with dreams all that together was bound finally to exercise a detrimental influence upon my resistless growing organism. After an added inflamma- tion of the lungs, I was sent for six weeks as "highly nervous" (!) to Salzburg for a salt cure. Had I been allowed to leave then! But everybody thought it perfectly natural that, having borne it four years, I should remain for the six to come, which would be better, in order to become a lieutenant and to provide for myself.

In the fifth year of my military training (the fifteenth of my life) I finally forced my departure. Things didn't get much better. They put me in a commercial school in Linz, where I saw a cheerless office future darkening before me. After scarcely a year's time, I tore myself away against everyone's will by an act of violence and have since been accounted a kind of prodigal son.

They wanted to try the last resort. Since in both previous institutions and in my family it was noticed with scorn and uneasiness that I "made poems," they wanted to make college possible for me. At that time it was my father's brother, who played a considerable role in Prague as lawyer and deputy to the assembly of Bohemia, who put in a good word for me and with generous financial assistance made possible the costly private study my father could never have afforded. For that I thank him far beyond the grave. After three years of serious but joyous work I had gone through the entire eight-grade grammar school so well, even after the thoroughly defective preparatory training of the military school, that in the summer of '95 I passed my entrance examination with distinction. Unfortunately my uncle could no longer look upon this success . . . and he probably took with him under the earth the opinion that I would not amount to much. He left no stipulations of any kind in his will save that his daughters, my cousins, should allow me to study up to the entrance examination and, under certain circumstances, the university years.

Now it seems to me that all people do not give alike. And in the two years of my university study I have got the feeling rather strongly that I am a burdensome duty to the two ladies. Much more burdensome to me is the feeling of slavery in such helpless dependence at my age when others may already support their parents. And then: on this road I have no objective at all. For I keep costing more and more money, and if I become a doctor and do not want to pine away as a high-school instructor then I shall be costing money again until I get some professorship or other which, however, I do not in the least desire.

With every day it becomes clearer to me that I was right in setting myself from the start against the phrase my relatives like: Art is something one just cultivates on the side in free hours, when one leaves the government office, etc. That to me is a fearful sentence. I feel that this is my belief: Whoever does not consecrate himself wholly to art with all his wishes and values can never reach the highest goal. He is not an artist at all. And now it can be no presumption if I confess that I feel myself to be an artist, weak and wavering in strength and boldness, yet aware of bright goals, and hence to me every creative activity is serious, glorious, and true. Not as martyrdom do I regard art but as a battle the chosen one has to wage with himself and his environment in order to go forward with a pure heart to the greatest goal, the one day of celebration, and with full hands to give to all successors of the rich reconciliation finally achieved. But that needs a whole man! Not a few weary leisure hours.

I do not know, dearest master, in how far you agree with me and whether you are perhaps wisely smiling at the impetuousness of this youthful resentment; then you will forgive too. Now I am free of the university. The time has come. Dear sir, you yourself once offered to give me help if I needed it. Now then: today I have come to you.

I would like through agreement with a publisher or some steady engagement on a newspaper to earn enough to be able to live soon and well on my own. I would like to spare my cousins their wanting-to-give-gladly and, by grateful renunciation of my monthly allowance, to enable my dear father, who is somewhat ailing, to allow more for his health. I cannot work in peace before that happens. I myself, of course, need little. . . .

Full of profoundest trust I lay this whole avowal in your kind hands and sincerely beg you: counsel me, help me. . . . Be assured that I shall never and nowhere bring discredit upon your recommendation . . . and to you all the gratitude I can prove to you through deeds for a lifetime.

-from The Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1892-1910 translated by Jane Bannard Greene and H. D. Herter Norton (New York: W. W. Norton, 1945)

Monday, April 14, 2008

substantial vapours

William Beckford, a letter home.
From the Summit of the Mountain Saleve.
9. o'clock Sept. 15th, 1777.

From whence do you think I date this letter? Not from a neat precise study, with a mahogany inlaid table, nicely lined with baze and placed in a central situation, having two quires of gilt paper on my right hand, a silver ink-stand at my elbow, an almanack in a superb case, pens, pounce, wafers, dutch wax and all other implements, in abundance. Not one of these circumstances. On the summit of a lofty mountain, I gaze at an assemblage of substantial vapours, which hover above, beneath and around me. This very sheet of paper which, barring accidents, I trust you will receive, is cast carelessly on a rugged fragment, mouldered from the peak of the mountain, or torn from the bosom of its native rock, by the hand of an ancient Helvetian in defence of his liberty. A cot awkwardly put together just screens my head from the wet vapour, which seems to have fixed its residence on these extensive eminences. A flock of goats, and a peasant, that looks as if he descended from Pan in a right line, stare at me with all their eyes and all their horns. Full five hours have I waited the dissipation of this fog; but hark! a sullen rustling amongst the forests far below which are intirely concealed by mists, proclaims that the north wind is arisen. Look! the blasts begin to range thro' the atmosphere! what majesty in those volumes of gray cloud that sweep along, directing their course Eastward! Mark! they are succeeded by curling volumes of blueish grey, like the smoke of a declining volcano. How gently they bend and then fly downwards in a misty haze. What are those objects just emerging? horrid forms, like crucified malefactors, start from the gloom, another blast discovers them in the shape of weather beaten oaks, whose fantastic branches have stood the brunt of tempests for ages. A gleam of pale yellow light mellows the white surface of the boundless cloud ; before my eyes it gives way; it seems to rock, it opens and discloses a long line of distant alps; but another cloud fleets from the north and closes the faint glimpse, which waves a moment and again opening, not only the alps, but the summits of the woods appear. The sun struggles with the vapours, the clouds chase one another; the white cloud so universal a moment ago is broken, it fleets, it dissipates; the beams pierce the vapours on every side; long streaks of azure sky, partial prospects open like an heaven; rivers and extensive regions all unfold; my senses are confounded, I know not where to fix my sight. See! the lake appears, in all its azure glory. A boundless scene is unveiled, the creation of an instant. Objects crowd too swiftly for me to continue, I must abandon my pen and gaze. Five hours are elapsed! Hours of wonder and gratitude! I have been steeped in those sensations which arise from the contemplation of the great objects of nature. 7. o'clock eve: The mellow tints of the evening begin to prevail. I shall wait the moon ere I descend the mountain half past 8. Night draws on, the stars glow in the firmament. From the promontory of a rock I overlook a vast extent of inhabited country. The lights glimmer in a thousand houses like the reflection of the stars. The moon appears. Farewell, I must descend the mountain.

-from The Life and Letters of William Beckford of Fonthill by Lewis Melville (London: William Heinemann, 1910)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Votaries of the Muses

Thomas Love Peacock to Edward Hookham

Maentwrog Lodge, March 22, 1810.

I sit down with a resolution to write a very long letter, so put on your nightcap and compose yourself at full length on the sofa. When your letter arrived last week, announcing the departure of my library and wardrobe, I resolved to devote the whole interval to exploring the vicinity, and have been climbing about the rocks and mountains, by the rivers and the sea, with indefatigable zeal, carrying in my mind the bardic Triad, that "a poet should have an eye that can see Nature, a heart that can feel Nature, and resolution that dares follow Nature;" in obedience to which latter injunction I have nearly broken my neck. Now were I to attempt a description of all I have seen, and felt, and followed, I might fill seven sheets of foolscap, and still leave the cream of the tale unskimmed. I shall therefore content myself with promising, when you come here in August (which may no evil genius prohibit!), to show you scenes of such exquisite beauty and of such overpowering sublimity, as, once beheld, can never be forgotten.

The other day I prevailed on my new acquaintance, Dr. Gryffyth, to accompany me at midnight to the Black Cataract, a favourite haunt of mine, about two and one-half miles from here. Mr. Lloyd, whom I believe I have mentioned to you more than once, volunteered to be of the party; and at twenty minutes past eleven, lighted by the full moon, we sallied forth, to the no small astonishment of mine host, who protested he never expected to see us all again. The effect was truly magnificent; the water descends from a mountainous glen down a winding rock, and then precipitates itself, in a sheet of foam, over its black base, into a capacious basin, the sides of which are all but perpendicular, and covered with hanging oak and hazel. Evans in the "Cambrian Itinerary," describes it as an abode of damp and horror, and adds that the whole cataract cannot be seen in one view, as the sides are too steep and slippery to admit of climbing up, and the tip of the upper fall is invisible from below. Mr. Evans seems to have laboured under a small degree of alarm, which prevented accurate investigation, for I have repeatedly climbed this unattemptable rock, and obtained this impossible view; as he or anyone else might do with very little difficulty, though Dr. Gryffyth, the other night, trusting to a rotten branch, had a fall of fifteen feet perpendicular, and but for an intervening hazel, would infallibly have been hurled to the bottom. But a similar mistake is not likely to occur in daylight. Let me advise you, while I think of it, to provide yourself for your journey with nails in the heels of your shoes, which may save you from the misadventures of the jolly miller who lived on the river Dee, who, according to the old song, had a bump upon his rump.

I make due allowance for the brevity of your epistles, in consideration that this is the depth of the London winter, and the Tramezzani and Catalan! must fill the King's Theatre on every night of performance, and that you are consequently knocking about the bones & skulls most furiously; but when you can find time to peep out of your grave, I shall be glad to know when "The Genius of the Thames" will be published, and when I may expect Kirwan, Berkley, Spence, &c. I just mention these, from an apprehension that your attention to my last list may induce you to forget the first, which consisted of these and of the Critical and Edinburgh Reviews, Dec., Jan., Feb., March; Massinger, and the mathematical instruments. Euclid would be a necessary accompaniment to the latter, and if you have not disposed of Ireland's "Wye and Medway," I shall now be glad to have them. I should be much pleased if you could make it convenient to send me a small box, or parcel, punctually every month, with the Critical Review, Graphic Illustrations, and what others you think proper; a certain regular literary novelty of this description is a thing to which I look forward with inconceivable satisfaction it is one of my hobby-horses.

There is more truth than poetry in the remark of Wordsworth that "as high as we have mounted in delight, in our dejection do we sink as low." You saw this exemplified in me last summer when I was sometimes skipping about the room, singing, and playing all sorts of ridiculous antics, at another doling out staves of sorrow, and meditating a dagger and laurel water. Such is the dispositions of all votaries of the Muses, and, in some manner, of all metaphysicians; for the sensitive and the studious are generally prone to melancholy, and the melancholy are usually subject to intervals of boisterous mirth. Poor Cowper was a lamentable instance, and Tasso, and Collins, and Chatterton a list that might be prolonged almost ad infinitum. I do not mean to say that the effects of this morbid disposition are always so fatally exemplified as in the four I have mentioned, of whom three were driven to insanity, and one to suicide. Cratinus, Democritus, Horace, and others, have opined that a certain degree of non-composity is essential to the poetic character, and I am inclined to think that there is considerable justice in the observation.

Oblige me by sending a copy of "The Genius of the Thames" neatly tied up in a parcel and directed R. Walrond, Esq. on searching for the address I find I have mis-laid it Oh my eggregious carelessness ! My packages are now at Dolgelly. They will arrive here tomorrow morning. Pray write soon, and excuse all the faults and follies of

To: Mr. E. T. HOOKHAM,
15 Old Bond St., London.
[Bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, publisher and purveyor of a circulating library]

-from Thomas Love Peacock Letters to Edward Hookham and Percy B. Shelley with Fragments of Unpublished MSS edited by Richard Garnett (Boston: Bibliophile Society, MCMX)

Friday, April 11, 2008

The source of the Thames, or, invariably yours

Thomas Love Peacock to Edward Hookham

Oxford, June 6th, 1809.

My Dear Edward,

aving given you the space of twenty-four hours to contemplate me in an attitude of profound meditation over the source of the Thames, I resume the thread of my narration. Thames Head is a fiat spring, in a field about a mile from Tarlton, lying close to the bank of the Thames and Severn Canal. This spring in the summer months is totally dry. None of our picturesque-hunters appear to have asked themselves the question: How is it possible that a river which is perpetually flowing can rise from a source which is sometimes dry? The infant river at Kemble Meadows is never totally dry, and to this source, by which the stream there is constantly supplied, can alone belong the honour of giving birth to the Thames. But this spring, Thames Head, would never be totally dry, were it not for a monstrous piece of machinery erected near for the purpose of throwing up its water into the neighbouring canal. The Thames is almost as good a subject for a satire as a panegyric.

A satirist might exclaim: The rapacity of Commerce, not content with the immense advantages derived from this river in a course of nearly 300 miles, erects a ponderous engine over the very place of its nativity, to suck up its unborn waters from the bosom of the earth and pump them into a navigable canal! It were to be wished, after all, that the crime of water-sucking were the worst that could be laid to the charge of commercial navigation; but we have only to advert to the conduct of the Spanish Christians in South America, of the English Christians in the East Indies, and of the Christians of all nations on the coast of Africa, to discover the deeper dye of its bloodsucking atrocities.

A panegyrist, on the contrary, after expatiating on the benefits of commercial navigation, and of the great effort of human ingenuity, the Thames and Severn Canal, which ascends the hills, sinks into the valleys, and penetrates the bowels of the earth, to unite the two noblest rivers of this most wealthy, prosperous, happy, generous, loyal, patriotic, &c, &c, &c, kingdom of England, might say: "And yet this splendid undertaking would be incomplete, through the failure of water in the summer months, did not this noble river, this beautiful emblem and powerful instrument of the commercial greatness of Britain, contribute to that greatness, even at the instant of its birth, by supplying this magnificent charm of connection with the means of perpetual utility!"

I must again break off for the present, and will send you this letter, if possible, tomorrow. Invariably yours,

To: Mr. E. T. HOOKHAM,
15 Old Bond St., London.
[Bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, publisher and purveyor of a circulating library]

(For more on the Thames see this list of books (a select bibliography) and of course Peter Ackroyd's book is perhaps one of the most recent books about the river Thames.)

-from Thomas Love Peacock Letters to Edward Hookham and Percy B. Shelley with Fragments of Unpublished MSS edited by Richard Garnett (Boston: Bibliophile Society, MCMX)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The course of the river

Thomas Love Peacock to Edward Hookham

Chertsey, May 17, 1809.

My Dear Edward,
I am told Tom Warton wrote a poem on the Thames. I suppose you have his works; if so, I will thank you to send them me. I have fixed on the Monday week after next for tracing the river from its source, though I shall have finished the first part before that time, which will then consist of more than 700 lines. If I can make the second as long, the "Genius of the Thames" will be sufficiently extensive. I have not at present materials for such an enlargement; I hope my expedition will furnish them. You will pass Sunday with me at the Wheatsheaf, and early on Monday morning, when you set off for London, I shall walk over to Slough, and mount the rostrum of one of the Gloucestershire coaches. What think you of this scheme? The course of the river, from Trensbury Mead to Chertsey is 1 80 miles, a very decent walk.

I hope the gaiety and dissipation of London has not effaced the impressions produced by Virginia Water. Let me just recall to your mind the King's plantation, the cultivated corner by the chevaux de frise gates, Chapel Wood, the seat under the oak, the old fisherman's punt, the magnificent beech, the 12000 bridge, the Belvidere, the laurel walk, the iron gate under the arch, my favourite pine grove on the bank of the water, the cascade, &c, &c, &c. Kindest remembrances to Tom. Ever yours,

To: Mr. E. T. HOOKHAM,
15 Old Bond St., London.
[Bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, publisher and purveyor of a circulating library]

-from Thomas Love Peacock Letters to Edward Hookham and Percy B. Shelley with Fragments of Unpublished MSS edited by Richard Garnett (Boston: Bibliophile Society, MCMX)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

farthing candle to the sun

Thomas Love Peacock to Edward Hookham

H. M. S. Venerable, Downs,
March 13, 1809.

My Dear Edward,
I should sooner have thanked you and your brother for your very kind and acceptable letter, and your last packet of literature; but I have been very busy with
Forsyth's Moral Science, and my own little poem of The Thames, which I have just finished, and now send to you, such as it is. I have a number of miscellaneous pieces by me, sufficient, with a classical ballad or two now in embryo, to make a volume the size of Palmyra. Perhaps it might be better to publish The Thames alone in quarto.

I sympathise with you most deeply in the doleful description you give of your melancholy pilgrimage through Carr's Scottish Tour. Heaven preserve us!
Sir John Carr *on the banks of the Tweed! As wise and as observing as an owl in sunshine! Sir John Carr on classical ground! Sir John in Teviotdale! In the scenes immortalised by Scott and Leyden! attempting to hold his farthing candle to the sun, and to meddle with things which he has neither a heart to feel nor a mind to comprehend! Rosslyn and Richmond Hill! The Firth of Forth and the Paddington Canal will be the next objects of comparison. What adequate punishment can be devised for the inconceivable folly of this incorrigible champion of dullness? this daring trespasser on the territories of the literary republic? this ignorant intruder on the regions of the picturesque? this itinerant Vandal? this eternal gatherer of nosegays of weeds? You say he went to Bridewell; would to Heaven he had remained there!

I fear you have been considerable losers by the downfall of
Drury Lane Theatre; pray let me know. I send you the only copy of The Thames I have. You will particularly oblige me by writing as soon as it comes to hand, and communicating your ideas on the subject. Yours most sincerely,

It has just occurred to me that I have been guilty of a horrible piece of vandalism in omitting to mention, in the accompanying poem, Runnymead and Cowper's Hill. This palpable deficiency must be filled up. You will see the proper place for introducing them at page 26. Since writing the above postscript I have supplied the defect in a manner. One or two corrections are necessary throughout the poem with regard to the recurrence of epithets, and the addition of a few notes appears indispensably requisite.

*Sir John Carr (1772-1832) Barrister and Travel Writer.

To: Mr. E. T. HOOKHAM,
15 Old Bond St., London.
[Bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, publisher and purveyor of a circulating library]

-from Thomas Love Peacock Letters to Edward Hookham and Percy B. Shelley with Fragments of Unpublished MSS edited by Richard Garnett (Boston: Bibliophile Society, MCMX)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Adrift, or, questions for a circulating librarian

Thomas Love Peacock to Edward Hookham

H. M. S. Venerable, The Downs,
February 10, 1809.

My Dear Edward,
I return with many thanks the whole of your first cargo of books, excepting the comedy of Management. I came on board on Sunday, since which it has blown a constant gale, except during a short period on Tuesday, so that I could not send off this box before. I know not whether our bum boat will be off today, which is the best opportunity I have of transacting any little business of this nature. Have the goodness to send me the fourth volume of Lewis's Romantic Tales, The Romance of the Forest, The Ring and the Well, Adelmora the Outlaw, and something very elegantly romantesque in the poetical department, if you can find anything of that description which I have not yet seen. I have never read the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border; if you can spare it conveniently, you may send me that likewise. Send them in a paper parcel; should they be too many to pack up well in paper, omit The Romance of the Forest.
What new in the republic of letters? Is another volume of Miss Baillie's tragedies forthcoming? Has Gifford undertaken to edit Beaumont and Fletcher? Or is any new edition of these dramatists in contemplation? What is Walter Scott about? Is anything new escaped from the pen of the incomparable Southey? How is poor Campbell? His lyre breathed the very soul of poetry; must it remain unstrung for ever? Is Wordsworth sleeping in peace on his bed of mud in the profundity of the Bathos, or will he ever again wake to dole out a lyrical ballad? His last work to all appearance has damned him irrecoverably. Is there any new romance by the author of The Fatal Revenge ? What tours and travels are at present most in vogue? How is Sir John Carr getting on? What was the last act of folly, in the shape of publication, committed by Mr. Pratt, or Dr. Mavor, or Miss Seward, or Mr. Hayley, or any other of Mr. Phillips's formidable host of inanity? Can you tell me anything concerning Jacky Morfitt, the Latinist of Birmingham? You sometime since mentioned a poem by a Sepoy, which Leyden was translating; what expectations may I entertain on that head? Are Knight and Price still at issue respecting the distinct character of the picturesque and the beautiful? Has anything on that subject made its appearance lately? Now, answer every one of these questions categorically, or to the best of your information, which I have no doubt is sufficiently extensive.
Yours most sincerely,

Apropos, if you have Forsyth's Elements of Moral Science, send that too. I once asked you if Miss Cornelia Knight were the sister of Richard Payne Knight, Esq. You replied, you could not tell, having never heard of her. The lady is the authoress of Latium, or La Campagna di Roma, &c, &c, &c. The gentleman is sufficiently known to you by his analytical enquiry into the principles of Taste. Find out if you can, as I particularly wish to know.

To: Mr. E. T. HOOKHAM,
15 Old Bond St., London.
[Bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, publisher and purveyor of a circulating library]

-from Thomas Love Peacock Letters to Edward Hookham and Percy B. Shelley with Fragments of Unpublished MSS edited by Richard Garnett (Boston: Bibliophile Society, MCMX)

Monday, April 7, 2008

flourishing the goosequill

Thomas Love Peacock to Edward T. Hookham

Chertsey, August 3rd, 1807.

My Dear Sir,
I know not how to thank you sufficiently for your numerous favours; but I shall avail myself of your generous offer, and put my little vessel again on the stocks. I fear you will find me rather troublesome in the course of my undertaking; at present I have only to require Volney's Voyage en Syrie (No. 17469), and Montesquieu sur la Grandeur et Decadence des Romains (No. 16218).

I have some thought of arranging the poem* in four divisions, but of this hereafter. Perhaps I have undertaken more than I can perform, and shall be obliged at last to leave the work unfinished. However, as I have no better occupation, I will return to the idle trade of writing verses.

I am writing in a great hurry, and after dinner, a time at which I am not very fond of flourishing the goosequill. Brevity, as Polonius says, is the soul of wit, but I apprehend, in the present instance it is the soul without a body.
Yours sincerely,
T. L. Peacock
*The Genius of the Thames: A Lyrical Poem, in Two Parts. (London: T. Hookham Jr. & E.T. Hookham, 1810.)

To: Mr. E. T. HOOKHAM,
15 Old Bond St., London.
[Bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, publisher and purveyor of a circulating library]

-from Thomas Love Peacock Letters to Edward Hookham and Percy B. Shelley with Fragments of Unpublished MSS edited by Richard Garnett (Boston: Bibliophile Society, MCMX)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

grounds of palliation

Thomas De Quincey to a Gentleman

July 8, 1854.

The gentleman, who has waited so long for an Autograph, expresses by his patience a compliment to myself far greater than any which I can flatter myself with deserving. For this I thank him sincerely. At the same time I am painfully sensible how little I can seem to have met this courtesy on his part by any corresponding expressions of courtesy on my own. My delays must have appeared unaccountable. Yet they are not so, but have real grounds of palliation in facts notorious to my friends. The first is this that through some accidental oversight in the boyish stage of my education I was never taught to make (or consequently to mend) a pen.

The second is this: I suffer now, and have long suffered, from such a shattering of the nervous system as causes a sense of distraction, and even of horror, to connect itself with the manual act of writing or indeed with any act requiring a close effort of attention. Hence it has arisen that, for some years, I have transferred in all cases where the circumstances allowed it all my duties of letter-writing to one of my daughters; that it is mainly accounts for the delay and appearance of discourtesy, but with this I trust any impression of wilful discourtesy will be removed.
Thomas De Quincey

-from The de Quincey Memorials: Being Letters and other Records, here first Published from Communications from Coleridge, the Wordsworths, Hannah More, Professor Wilson, and Others. Edited, with Introduction, Notes, and Narrative by Alexander H. Japp in Two Volumes (London: William Heinemann, 1891) vol. ii

Friday, April 4, 2008

we beg to offer

Currer Bell to Thomas De Quincey

June 16th, '47.

My relations, Ellis and Acton Bell, and myself, heedless of the repeated warnings of various respectable publishers, have committed the rash act of printing a volume of poems. The consequences predicted have, of course, overtaken us; our book is found to be a drug; no man needs it or heeds it; in the space of a year our publisher has disposed but of two copies, and by what painful efforts he succeeded in getting rid of those two, himself only knows.

Before transferring the edition to the trunk-makers we have decided on distributing as presents a few copies of what we cannot sell: and we beg to offer you one in acknowledgment of the pleasure and profit we have often and long derived from your works.
I am, Sir, yours very respectfully,
Currer Bell.

-from The de Quincey Memorials: Being Letters and other Records, here first Published from Communications from Coleridge, the Wordsworths, Hannah More, Professor Wilson, and Others. Edited, with Introduction, Notes, and Narrative by Alexander H. Japp in Two Volumes (London: William Heinemann, 1891) vol. ii

Thursday, April 3, 2008

the morals of a moral philosophy professor

John Wilson to Thomas De Quincey

{In 1820 Wilson, on the death of Dr. Thomas Brown, was appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh.}

53 Queen Street, August [1820].

My Dear Friend,

In your letter of the 26th you proposed to send in a day or two your review of Malthus. It is now the 5th of August, and I am beginning to fear that something may have occurred to stop your composition. . . Two sheets of the magazine was a promise that raised the mortal to the skies; so do not draw the devil down!

I am quite at a stand respecting my lectures, but have been reading some books, some of which even I understand. What is good in Clark's 'Light of Nature'? He is an insufferable beast as to style, and seems to me to have no drift but to leewards. If you think otherwise, give me notice of those parts of his book that you think worth reading. As I have to lecture on Moral Philosophy, I should merely give such general views of the intellectual part of our nature as are essential to the understanding of Man as a Moral Being: and first of the physical nature of Man.

What should I treat of in the Senses appetites and bodily powers? It seems to me perhaps I said it before that I should have a lecture on 'The Origin of Knowledge' when treating of the Senses. What are the books? and what theory is the true one? And your objections to Locke.

Of the Intellectual Powers, I send you to-day a sketch by the late Professor Brown my predecessor. He had a great character here, and the book seems exceedingly ingenious. I wish during the winter probably about the 1st of December, to explain his Theory to my students; and hope that you will read it, at your leisure, and discuss its merits and demerits fully and freely exactly as you opine them to be, in letters addressed to me. I forget if I mentioned to you that I intend giving half-a-dozen lectures on the Greek Philosophy, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, &c. Have you any books about them and their systems; or can you write me some long letters about either, or their philosophy?

What does, in your belief, constitute moral obligation? and what ought to be my own doctrine on that subject? Are there good essays on the Stoic and Epicurean Philosophy, and where? What books ought I to read for disquisitions and views respecting the duties created by society. This branch, if I treat it at all this winter, and I think I must, is most exigeant.

I sincerely hope that you will not delay, should you not have written to me already, to send me such information as I now seek, for time is flying rapidly, and I have few books.

I write this letter, which probably contains repetitions, to remind you of the necessities of my present situation; and that nothing in the world would benefit me so much as your advice and assistance at the present juncture. In what I have said about your articles for the Magazine, do not imagine that I have any intention however remote of doubting that you will send them if you can. That, however, I know, does, with all men, depend on a thousand circumstances. I tried to convince Blackwood that you never had engaged to write for the Magazine, and his face was worth ten pounds for it was as pale as a sheet. I told him, however, that now you were engaged, so that if the articles don't come now, he will become a sceptic even in religion, and end in total disbelief of Earth, Heaven and Hell.

Believe me to be, my dear Friend, ever yours most truly,
John Wilson.

P. S. Stewart's 'Elements of the Philosophy of the Mind ' consists of 2 vols. the latter of which contains ' Reason/ &c., and the former ' Imagination,' &c. Whatever of these you have not, I will send to you. There is a third volume of separate Essays, which I will send too immediately if you have it not; do let me know how the matter stands.

I have received your long and entertaining letter of the 5th, so delayed sending this letter. Not hearing from you to-day (7th), I send it off. I see the necessity of secrecy. But I am working away. Can you give your letters a less mysterious outward form; and, pray, do not write anything on the backs. Time flies. I will not write again till I bear from you again. Adopt in your letters some ingenious disguise as to your object in writing.
J. W.

-from The de Quincey Memorials: Being Letters and other Records, here first Published from Communications from Coleridge, the Wordsworths, Hannah More, Professor Wilson, and Others. Edited, with Introduction, Notes, and Narrative by Alexander H. Japp in Two Volumes (London: William Heinemann, 1891) vol. ii

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

in confidence

Thomas De Quincey to John Wilson, Esq., Elleray

Grasmere, Friday, September 22nd, 1814.

My Dear Wilson,

I am expecting Mr. and Mrs. Merritt this evening on their return from Keswick where I left them on Tuesday last: so that to-night I cannot possibly come over. Moreover, it appears to me that Elleray is not in the way from this place to Wastwater; but rather vice versa. However, if you and Mr Hogg will come to Grasmere to-morrow and dine with us at half past 2 o'clock [I hope that hour will not be too early], we can arrange a plan for going thither in which possibly Merritt might be included; and that would delight him. He can't walk ['damn his body!' as he says]; but I think I can get a horse for him from Allan Bank.

Mrs. S [damn her body!] has it in contemplation to run away from old S [damn his body!]. She told this in confidence to Mrs. Merritt who told it in confidence to me who hereby, my friend, tell it in confidence to you. Mind that you keep the secret as well as I have done; and then it will stand a chance of coming round to old S to-morrow morning, by the Whitehaven coach. Faithfully yours,
Thos. De Quincey

-from The de Quincey Memorials: Being Letters and other Records, here first Published from Communications from Coleridge, the Wordsworths, Hannah More, Professor Wilson, and Others. Edited, with Introduction, Notes, and Narrative by Alexander H. Japp in Two Volumes (London: William Heinemann, 1891) vol. ii

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

kindness and regard

John Wilson to Thomas de Quincey

Tuesday [May 1813].

My Dear Sir,

was prevented from going with you to Borrowdale by very urgent business in Kendal, but had not time to tell you so in my note sent per coach yesterday. I am at present in greater difficulties about the business I spoke of than I at that time imagined. I heard on Sunday of several very considerable bills of which I had no remembrance; others are far greater than I thought of; and, to complete my bad fortune, some money now due to me cannot be paid for some months. I therefore cannot conceive any way of settling my bills here and elsewhere without getting temporary assistance from a friend. By not settling them, I fear that very unpleasant effects would follow.

When you so kindly offered your assistance on our walk t'other day, my acceptance of it to my mind seemed impossible. The shortness of our acquaintance renders it difficult for me to think that I can have any right to request or accept such a mark of kindness and regard, and, further, I have some doubt of the justice of availing myself of your benevolent disposition, or of that friendly feeling you may entertain towards me. I hope, however, that on no occasion of my life have I preferred my own interests to those of a friend, and I would face any difficulty, rather than be the cause of bringing a similar one on any Man.

But your kindness suggested the relief, and when I contemplate the idea I have of your character, I venture to speak thus to you; it being the first time that I have ever spoken it to any friend. It would, I believe, with what I shall be able to raise elsewhere, keep me afloat for the Summer. At Christmas, I shall be able to repay that sum, together with the interest. On this plan alone could. my conscience allow me to accept of this sum from you. If you can advance that sum to me immediately, it would be a kind of blessing; for there are many feelings both of my own, and of one most dear to me, which it would save. I might say much to you on this request, but I cannot.

If I live till Christmas, you will sustain no loss whatever. If I do not, your debt will be among my sacred ones, and will be paid. Otherwise, I could not have written this letter to you. Let me have a few words from you. I shall be at home on Wednesday afternoon, and also all Thursday. If you cannot come here a day before you go, I will come over if you remain at Grasmere.
Your affectionate Friend,

-from The de Quincey Memorials: Being Letters and other Records, here first Published from Communications from Coleridge, the Wordsworths, Hannah More, Professor Wilson, and Others. Edited, with Introduction, Notes, and Narrative by Alexander H. Japp in Two Volumes (London: William Heinemann, 1891) vol. ii