Monday, July 7, 2008

a flying leaf

Coventry Patmore to William Allingham

10, Cambridge Villas,
Camden New Town,

Sept. 14, 1849.

My Dear Allingham, .... Blake's print pleases me more than anything of the kind that I have seen for a long time. Its extremely pathetic character corroborates the view, which I have long held, that pathos must be founded upon strength and the most severe nobility.

I have often thought of you and of your verses since I saw you--much more however of the former than of the latter; for these are but trifles compared with what I feel persuaded that it is in your power to do, if only you will put out your strength and strive indefatigably to do your best. Many a first-rate genius has made only a second-rate poet, because he has not chosen to work hard; and it has often happened that a man of inferior power, like Gray, has won a lasting reputation with few other claims to it than the "claims of industry." It seems to me that nothing can be better in the same way than some of the verses you showed me. Let a brother-worker be allowed to urge you never to do anything but your best.

I envy my brother the pleasure of spending a week or two with you in the country; but I hope my turn may come some day. If I may trust the impression of so short an acquaintance with you, I think that we are adapted to become friends. There are probably many years before us yet; and the next time we meet, it will be at least with the advantage of increased knowledge on both sides, and therefore with less danger of that sad but frequent end of early- friendships, the exhaustion of each other's interest.

I am in better spirits now than when I saw you. The sea-air has braced my nerves, and I feel fit for work. I regret, however, that I am at present, and probably long shall be, condemned to prose. When my Muse soars with any effect you shall hear from me. Under similar, or any other circumstances indeed, I shall be glad to hear from you. I am a bad correspondent. That is, I cannot write long letters, but I shall always be delighted to exchange a flying leaf with you whenever you like.

Yours ever truly,
Coventry K. Patmore.

-from Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore By Basil Champneys (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900) p. 168-69.

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