Tuesday, July 29, 2008

first loves

Felicia Hemans to Mr. ________

Dove Nest, Thursday. [July 1830]

My dear Mr. _______ ,
Having received ________'s parcel in safety, I have now two kind letters to thank you for . . . Will you tell _________, with my best remembrance, that Mr. Wordsworth thinks he shall be quite able to read the small edition of Schiller: he is now gone for a few days to his friend Lord Lowther's; but I hope, on his return, to read with him some of my own first loves in Schiller 'The Song of the Bell,' 'Cassandra,' or 'Thekla's Spirit-voice,' with none of which he is acquainted. Indeed, I think he is inclined to undervalue German literature from not knowing its best and purest master-pieces. 'Goethe's writings cannot live,' he one day said to me, 'because 'they are not holy!' I found that he had unfortunately adopted this opinion from an attempt to read Wilhelm Meister, which had inspired him with irrepressible disgust. However, I shall try to bring him into a better way of thinking, if only out of my own deep love for what has been to me a source of intellectual joy so cheering and elevating. I did not accomplish my visit to Coniston last Saturday; the 'cloud land' was too impervious to be entered. . . . Is it not very strange, and hateful, and weariful, that, wherever I go, some odd old creature is sure to fall in love with me just out of spite? I am quite sure that if I went to Preston, Miss _______ (do you remember that long, thin, deadly-looking mansion with her name on the door?) would attach herself to me with the adhesive pertinacity of the Old Man of the Sea. This is really a part of my miseries which I do not think you have ever taken into proper consideration, or sympathised with as the case deserves. If you would but pity me enough, you cannot imagine how consolatory I should find it

You would scarcely know Charles if you were to see him now; he has broken forth into almost tameless vivacity. He wants very much to write to you, but I thought, as you hear from me so often, it would not be necessary to impose upon you so juvenile a correspondent. I was greatly shocked a few days since to hear of the death of Mrs. ________ at Florence. It seemed quite suddenly, in one of those spasms of the heart which the physicians had predicted would end fatally; and Mr. _______ has returned alone to England. Just at this time last year I was with them, witnessing all their preparations for their Italian journey. I remember his being very much affected by a verse which I played and sung

'She faded 'midst Italian flowers,
The last of that bright band'

I have got into a shocking habit, for which you will not thank me, of crossing my letters; but I always fancy I have so much to say when I write to you, that the paper is never half long enough. Will you tell _________ that I shall certainly make her first lady of the wardrobe, for her skill in choosing silks, whenever my long-expected accession to the throne takes place. I am going this evening, for two or three days, to Grasmere; but if I do not fall into Dungeon Ghyll, which I am to visit thence, I shall be back at Dove's Nest on Sunday.
Ever faithfully yours,
Felicia Hemans

-from Memorials of Mrs. Hemans: with illustrations of her literary character, from her private correspondence by Henry F. Chorley in 2 volumes (London: Saunders and Otley, 1836) vol. 2, pp. 145-48.

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