Knebworth, Stevenage, Herts.
My Dear Howell,
You never turned up on Wednesday night, and kept my unhappy old female sitting up for you till three, and on Thursday I was very seedy and awaited you in vain. O monstre! homme infame!
I want you to get for me two Chastelards and a Byron, and send them here at once if possible. Excuse my troubling you about my errands, but I know you won't mind, and I can't write to Moxons. I've had a note from Hotten which I must answer at once. Lord Lytton advises my reissuing the Poems and Ballads at once with him, and breaking off wholly with Payne*, which is satisfactory. He says either Hotten should buy the surplus copies of the edition in his own interest, which would be impaired if Payne sold it as waste paper; or I must buy them up under a friend's name. Or, Payne must be compelled to destroy them instead. This is his advice as a man of business. Will you tell Hotten this, and let him act on it? Please, too, find out what Hotten proposes about my Blake, which is nearly all in type. If he offers to buy it up I shall not allow Payne to publish it or anything more of mine. Please ask also about the remainders and next edition of Chastelard, Atalanta, and The Queen Mother. Lytton thinks Hotten's offers very fair, and advises me to arrange in the same way about the other books. So if Hotten likes to offer for them and arrange with Payne separately, well and good. I will reply as soon as he makes his offer. With Payne I will hold no further communication except through a third party.
All this you may shew or read to Hotten if you please. Pardon for the trouble my friendship entails on you, and believe me, Your affectionate
A. C. Swinburne.
P.S. I hope your cousin is well; please remember me to her. It is very jolly here, people, place, and weather. The furniture would at once cause Gabriel to attempt murder of the owner through envy so rich are the cabinets, etc., in every hole and corner.
[bibliography for A. C. Swinburne]
* J. Bertrand Payne, successor of Edward Moxon who died in 1858.
-from The Letters of Algernon Charles Swinburne Edited by Edmund Gosse, G.B. and Thomas James Wise (London : William Heinemann, 1918.) vol. 1.