Tuesday, September 30, 2008

these green fields

Leigh Hunt to Percy B. and Mary W. Shelley.

8, York Buildings, New Road,
August, 1819.

My Dear Friends,

henever I write to you, I seem to be transported to your presence. I dart out of the window like a bird, dash into a south-western current of air, skim over the cool waters, hurry over the basking lands, rise like a lark over the mountains, fling like a swallow into the vallies, skim again, pant for breath, there's Leghorn eccomi! how d'ye do?

I wish you would encourage my epistolatory interviews by writing to me every Monday morning; I would write on the same day myself say at nine o'clock; and then we should have the additional pleasure of knowing that we were occupied on the very same thoughts, and almost chatting together. I will begin the system, at any rate; and if you do not help me to go on with it, why, I will heap Christian coals of fire on your heads by endeavouring to go on without you. There is the same continued sunshine this season as last year. Every Saturday, when I go to office, I seem to walk through vallies of burning bricks, the streets and pavement are so intensely hot; but, then, there is a perpetual fanning of fresh air in the fields, and you may imagine I am oftener there. Sometimes I ramble about in them, sometimes take my meals, sometimes lie down and read. The other day I had a delicious sleep in a haycock. These green fields and blue skies throw me into a kind of placid intoxication. Are there many moments more delicious than the one in which you feel yourself going to slumber, with the sense of green about you, of an air in your face, and of the great sky arching over your head? One feels, at such times, all the grandeur of planetary consciousness without the pain of it. You know what I mean. There is a sort of kind and beautiful sensuality in it which softens the cuts and oppressiveness of intellectual perception. Certainly, a country so green as England cannot well be equalled by any other at such a season; and did not the less pleasant causes of that green return, I should try my utmost to induce you to come back again; for, at this identical moment, I do not think you would be more comfortable anywhere than in such a place, with a book or two, a basket of fruit, and (O vain, flattered friend!) Leigh Hunt. Shelley does indeed flatter me, when he writes to me as the "best friend" he has left behind. I heartily wish he had any better, for I am sure that they would go through a dozen fires for him; and, as for that matter, so would I. In no race of friendship would I be the last, if my heart broke for it at the goal. But enough of this at present. Pray do not let Shelley be uneasy about my pecuniary affairs. It was he that enabled me to throw off the weight of them at first, and I should think it an ill return if I did not at least exert all the faculties which he set free. . . . . I guess, by Shelley's questions about the Euganean Hills, that he has not seen my criticism yet in the Examiner, for surely I spoke there of a poem which I admire beyond measure, for thought, imagination, music, everything. He has a great admirer here from the Lakes, who has come to London for his health--Lloyd, one of the earliest Lake poets. More of him in my next. God thrice bless you, Shelley mio, Marina mia. Ever most affectionately yours,
Leigh Hunt.

-from The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt / edited by his eldest son (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1862) volume 1, pp. 135-36.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

of a higher sphere

Leigh Hunt to Percy Bysshe Shelley in Italy

York Buildings, July, 1819.

My Dearest Friend,

y letter would have come off to you before I received yours, had I not been laid prostrate by a bilious fever, from which I am now recovering, and which, I think, has left me in a condition to get better than I was before, if I take care and take exercise, which with me are nearly the same thing. I had received the news of your misfortune, [the death of their son William from malaria in Rome] and thought of all which you and Mary must suffer. Marianne, I assure you, wept hearty tears of sympathy. He was a fine little fellow, was William; and for my part I cannot conceive that the young intellectual spirit which sat thinking out of his eye, and seemed to comprehend so much in his smile, can perish like the house it inhabited. I do not know that a soul is born with us; but we seem, to me, to attain to a soul, some later, some earlier; and when we have got that, there is a look in our eye, a sympathy in our cheerfulness, and a yearning and grave beauty in our thoughtfulness that seems to say, "Our mortal dress may fall off when it will; our trunk and our leaves may go; we have shot up our blossom into an immortal air." This is poetry, you will say, and not argument: but then there comes upon me another fancy, which would fain persuade me that poetry is the argument of a higher sphere. Do you smile at me? Do you, too, Marina, smile at me? Well, then, I have done something at any rate. My dear friends, I affront your understandings and feelings with none of the ordinary topics of consolation. We must all weep on these occasions, and it is better for the kindly fountains within us that we should. May you weep quietly, but not long; and may the calmest and most affectionate spirit that comes out of the contemplation of great things and the love of all, lay his most blessed hand upon you. I fear this looks a little like declamation; and yet I know that he would be a very mistaken critic who should tell me that it was so.

I can do nothing with my tragedy at least, not at present: I may do something when the new management at Drury Lane is settled, provided Kean likes it on perusal. He has rejected it, in a manner, at present, without perusing; for in my letter to him I unfortunately said that there were two characters in it, either of which, it was thought, would suit him; and it turned out just afterwards that he had a mortal antipathy to having any second Richard in the field. He returned me a very polite answer, in which he said that his hands were full. I then sent to Covent Garden; and here, it seems, the manager lives in the house of a bad dramatist, to whom he is under obligations, and who settles the destiny of all new comers. I had the honour to be rejected. You cannot suppose, of course, that I think my tragedy worse than those which are received. I know it to be a great deal better: but between ourselves, I think I have hurt it for publication, by keeping in mind its destination for the stage. At all events, I shall keep it myself, in hopes of future performance. What I most regret is the waste of my time, which I might have turned to more lucrative account; but I did my best, and most industrious. The two little poems (Hero and Leander, and Bacchus and Ariadne)* are out; and if Ollier does not bestir himself, I will make up a little packet next week, with these and one or two other things in it. Perhaps I had better do so at once, if Peacock does not send. Is it possible that you have never received even Ollier's first packet yet, with the portrait in it, which I thought, in my egotism, was to gratify you so? I guess as much, by your silence about it. You will see in the Examiner what I have said about your lovely poem of Rosalind and Helen, which is a great favourite of mine. I was rejoiced to find also that Charles Lamb was full of it. Your reputation is certainly rising greatly in your native country, in spite of its honest Promethean chains; and I have no doubt it will be universally recognized on its proper eminence. I long, by-the-by, to see Prometheus himself. I have no doubt you have handled his "wearied virtue" nobly. It is curious, but I had thought a little while ago of writing a poem myself, entitled Prometheus Throned; in which I intended to have described him as having lately taken possession of Jupiter's seat. But the subject, on every account, is in better hands. I am rather the son of one of Atlas's daughters, than of Atlas himself. I am glad you like the specimen of the Pocket-Book. As my old chat refreshes you, I think myself bound just now to write often; I shall despatch another letter next week addressed to Mary, which I hope will induce her to oblige me with one of those gigantic paragraphs which she entitles a letter. Won't you write to me frequently, too, if I write frequently? God bless you, my dear, dear friends, and take care of your health and spirits, if it be only for the sake of your affectionate
Leigh Hunt

*Hero and Leander, and Bacchus and Ariadne (London: C. & J. Ollier, 1819)

-from The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt / edited by his eldest son (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1862) volume 1, pp. 130-32

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

patience in a post-office

Leigh Hunt to. Percy B. and Mary T. Shelley

8, York Buildings, New Road,
Thursday, 12th November, 1818.

My Dear Friends,
So I find, all of a sudden, why it is you do not write to me. I sent my last letter thoughtlessly, by Mr. Ollier's box, and they tell me, to my great chagrin, that perhaps it may not have reached you yet. I had no idea of this or I should have written to you again long before; and so I should at all events, had I not been daily devoured with printers' devils, and in expectation besides of hearing from yourselves. So Shelley has been hanging his head, I fear, and saying, "Hunt is too careless," and Marina has been looking sideways, and thinking it not worth speaking about; and First Lady has consigned me over to the common character of mankind. Well, I shall sit like Patience in a post-office, and wait for one of the kindest letters in the world. What think you of my modesty as well as industry? I have been writing a Pocket-Book. The booksellers tell me it will do exceedingly well; and Shelley will be at once pleased and surprised to hear that it is my own property, and I mean to keep it so. It is entitled the Literary Pocket-Book,* or companion for the lover of art and nature, and contains a long calendar of the months, written by myself, interspersed with quotations from dead and living poets. Lists of men of original genius from the earliest times to the present, of living authors of Europe, artists and musicians, extracts from Bacon and others, and original poetry, among which I have taken the liberty ("Hunt is too ceremonious sometimes") of putting Marianne's Dream to the great delight of said Marianne, not to mention its various MS. readers. The names are not mentioned in this department of the book; but Shelley will be in good company, at least, I may speak for Keats, and Shelley will speak for some one else. I forgot, in my box letter, to allude to the criticism in the Quarterly Review upon Marina's book. Upon the whole, I congratulate her on it. They have now been abusing Keats at a furious rate ever since their abuse of Shelley, and it is pleasant, on many accounts, to see how the public disgust is increasing against them every day. I made no answer to Gifford myself, partly out of contempt, partly (I must really say) out of something bordering on a loathing kind of pity, and partly for the sake of setting an example always praised, but seldom or ever practised. I therefore instinctively paid a friend like Shelley the compliment of feeling for him, as I felt for myself; but there are limits in forbearance, especially when the task is not one of self-revenge, but of friendship; and as they have sent for his poem from Ollier's to criticise it, I mean, if they (Gifford or others) do not take warning, to buckle on my old rusty armour, and give them such a carbonado as I know I am able to give, and they most capable of feeling. I hope Ollier has told you that Shelley's book sells more and more. God bless you all, and never think angrily or doubtingly of one who is just as sensitive to the opinion of those dear to him as he despises that of the reviewers.
Most affectionately yours,

Marianne's ill but sends very best love. Bess requests to be put in by all means. Hogg, Keats, Novello, H. Robertson, and Coulson send their remembrances--Hogg especial ones. I am now resuming my drama; and am going to propose to Constable, that when I have done it I will undertake specimens of the Italian poets from Dante to Metastasio.

*The Literary Pocket Book (1819-23 C & J Ollier) - 5 vols., periodical edited by Leigh Hunt---Percy B. Shelley's poem, Marianne's Dream appeared in this periodical.
[In 1818 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus was issued (London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, 1818) - 3 vols., and Percy Bysshe Shelley's Laon and Cythna or, The Revolution of the Golden City was issued (London: Sherwood, Neely & Jones, 1818) which was brought out in a second state with the new title The Revolt of Islam - A Poem in 12 Cantos (London: C & J Ollier, 1818).]

-from The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt / edited by his eldest son (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1862) volume 1, pp. 124-26.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

of a most domestic kind

Leigh Hunt to Mr. Ives.

5th February, 1813.

Mr. Leigh Hunt presents his compliments to Mr. Ives, and puts down his wishes upon paper as requested.

His first and greatest wish, then, is to be allowed to have his wife and children living with him in the prison. It is to be observed, that his is a new case within these walls; and not only so, but that his habits have always been of the most domestic kind, that he has not been accustomed to be from home a day long, and that he is subject, particularly at night-time, to violent attacks of illness, accompanied with palpitations of the heart and other nervous affections, which render a companion not only much wanted, but sometimes hardly to be dispensed with. His state of health is bad at the present moment, as everybody may see; not so bad indeed as it has been, and he wishes to make no parade of it; but quite bad enough to make him feel tenfold all the wants of his situation, and to render it absolutely necessary that his greatest comforts should not all be taken away. If it would take time, however, to consider this request, his next wish is that his wife and children be allowed to be with him in the daytime. His happiness is wound up in them, and he shall say no more on this subject except that a total separation in respect of abode would be almost as bad to him as tearing his body asunder.

His third and last request is, that his friends be allowed to come up to his room during the daytime; and if this permission be given, he will give his word that it shall not be abused. His physician has often declared that society is necessary to his health; but though he has been used to every comfort that domestic and social happiness can bestow, he is content with as little as possible, and provided his just wish be granted, could make almost any sacrifice.

This is all he has to say on the subject, and all with which he should ever trouble anybody. The hope of living in Mr. Ives's house he has given up; many privations, of course, he is prepared to endure; with the other regulations of the prison he has no wish to interfere; and from what little has already been seen of him in this place, he believes that every credit will be given him for conducting himself in a reasonable and gentlemanly manner; for as he is a stubborn enemy of what is wrong, so is he one of the quietest and most considerate friends of what is right. He has many private friends who would do their utmost for him; and his character, he believes, has procured him some public ones of the highest description, who would leave no means untaken for bettering his condition, but he would willingly leave his comforts to those about him. To conclude, he is prepared to suffer all extremities rather than do himself dishonour ; but it is no dishonour to have the feelings of a husband and a father: and till he is dead to them and to everything else, he shall not cease exerting himself in their behalf.

-from The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt / edited by his eldest son (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1862) volume 1, pp. 73-74.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

the inconveniencies of grandeur

William Shenstone to Mr. Jago

London. 1743.

Dear friend,
I shall send you but a very few lines, being so much indisposed with a cold, that I can scarce tell how to connect a sentence. . . .

London is really dangerous at this time; the pick-pockets, formerly content with mere filching, make no scruple to knock people down with bludgeons in Fleet-Street and the Strand, and that at no later hour than eight o'clock at night: but in the Piazzas, Covent-Garden, they come in large bodies, armed with couteaus, and attack whole parties, so that the danger of coming out of the play-houses is of some weight in the opposite scale, when I am disposed to go to them oftener than I ought. ----There is a poem of this season, called "The Pleasures of Imagination," worth your reading; but it is an expensive quarto; if it comes out in a less size, I will bring it home with me. Mr. Pope (as Mr. Outing, who has been with Lord Bolingbroke, informs me) is at the point of death. ----My Lord Carteret said yesterday in the house, "That the French and Spaniards had " actually said, they would attempt a second invasion." ----There is a new play acted at Drury Lane, "Mahomet," translated from the French of Voltaire; but I have no great opinion of the subject, or the original author as a poet; and my diffidence is rather improved by the testimony of those who have seen it. ----I lodge between the two coffee-houses, George's and Nando's, so that I partake of the expensiveness of both, as heretofore, I have no acquaintance in town, and but {slender inducement to stay} and yet, probably, I shall loiter here for a month.

T--- H--- was knighted against his will, and had a demand made upon him for an hundred pounds before he could get out of St. James's; so soon are felt the inconveniencies of grandeur! He came out of the court in a violent rage, "G__d! Jack, what "dost think?---I am knighted!---the devil of a "knight, e'faith !" I believe he was sincere in his disgust; for there had been two barge-masters knighted in his neighbourhood some time before.

I saw, coming up, Lady Fane's grotto, which they say, cost her five thousand pounds; about three times as much as her house is worth. It is a very beautiful disposition of the finest collection of shells I ever saw--Mr. Powis's woods, which are finer.--Mean time, if I had three hundred pounds to lay out about The Leasowes, I could bring my ambition to peaceable terms.

I am, dear Sir, with all affection, yours and Mrs. Jago's.
W. Shenstone.

Write soon. It is this moment reported that Pope is dead.

-from The Works in Verse and Prose of William Shenstone, Esq. Volume III, containing Letters to Particular Friends from the Year 1739-1763. / 2nd. Edition (London: J. Dodsley, 1769) pp. 72-74.

they are few

Voltaire to Mme. . . . .

Les Delices,
June 20, 1756.

I am only an old invalid, mademoiselle, and my not having answered your letter before, and now replying only in prose to your charming verses, prove that my condition is a serious one.

You ask me for advice: your own good taste will afford you all you need. Your study of Italian should further improve that taste which was born in you, and which nobody can give you. Tasso and Ariosto will do much more for you than I can, and reading our best poets is better than all lessons; but, since you are so good as to consult me from so far away, my advice to you is--read only such books as have long been sealed with the universal approval of the public and whose reputation is established. They are few: but you will gain much more from reading those few than from all the feeble little works with which we are inundated. Good writers are only witty in the right place, they never strive after smartness: they think sensibly, and express themselves clearly. Now, people appear to write exclusively in enigmas. Everything is affected--nothing simple: nature is ignored, and everyone tries to improve on the masterpieces of our language.

Hold fast, mademoiselle, by everything which delights you in them. The smallest affectation is a vice. The Italians, after Tasso and Ariosto, degenerated because they were always trying to be witty: and it is the same with the French. Observe how naturally Mme. de Sevigne and other ladies write: and compare their style with the confused phrases of our minor romances--I cite writers of your own sex because I am sure you can, and will, resemble them. There are passages of Mme. Deshoulieres which are equalled by no writer of the present day. If you wish examples of male authors--look how simply and clearly Racine invariably expresses himself. Every reader of his works feels sure that he could himself say in prose what Racine has said in verse. Believe me, everything that is not equally clear, chaste, and simple is worth absolutely nothing.

Your own reflections, mademoiselle, will tell you all this a hundred times better than I can say it. You will notice that our good writers--Fenelon, Bossuet, Racine, Despreaux--always use the right word. One gets oneself accustomed to talk well by constantly reading those who have written well: it becomes a habit to express our thoughts simply and nobly, without effort. It is not in the nature of a study: it is no trouble to read what is good, and to read that only: our own pleasure and taste are our only masters.

Forgive this long disquisition; you must please attribute it to my obedience to your commands.

I have the honour to be very respectfully yours.

-from Voltaire in his Letters: Being a Selection from His Correspondence / translated with a preface and forewords by S. G. Tallentyre (New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1919] pp. 156-58.

Friday, September 19, 2008

clearly and correctly

Voltaire to M. Helvétius

June 20, 1741.

I greatly reproach myself for my laziness, my dear friend, but I have been for a whole month so unworthily occupied in prose that I hardly dare write to you of verse. My imagination is weighed down by studies which are to poetry what dark and dusty old furniture is to a gaily-lit ballroom. I must shake off the dust to reply to you.

You have written to me a letter in which I recognise your genius. You find Boileau fairly clever: I agree with you that he has neither sublimity nor a very brilliant imagination; but he has done exceedingly well what he could do, and what he set out to do. He has put good sense into melodious verse; he is clear, logical, easy, and agreeable in his transitions; he never soars high, or falls low. His subjects are not suitable for the dignified treatment yours deserve. You have realised what your talent is, just as he realised his. You are a philosopher, you see everything life-size, your brush is bold and big. So far, nature has made you (I say it in all sincerity) greatly Despreaux's superior: but your talents, fine as they are, will be nothing without his. You have so much the more need of his correctness because the breadth of your thoughts is less tolerant of circumstriction. It is no trouble to you to think, but much to write. I shall therefore never cease to preach to you that art of writing which Despreaux knew and taught so well, the respect for our language, the sequence of ideas, the easy manner in which he carries his reader with him, the naturalness which is the result of art, and the appearance of ease which involves such hard work. A word out of place spoils the finest thought. Boileau's ideas--I confess it once more--are never fine, but they are never ill set out: so, to be better than he is, it is essential to begin by writing as clearly and correctly.

No false steps can be permitted in your stately measure: in a little minuet they would not matter. You sparkle with precious stones; his dress is simple but well made. Your diamonds must be in good order lest your diadem shame you. Send me then, dear friend, something which is as well worked out as it is nobly conceived: do not disdain to be at once the owner of the mine and the gold digger. You know, by my writing to you thus, how great an interest I feel in your reputation, and that of the arts. Your last visit has doubled my regard for you. It really looks as if I should stop writing verses, and content myself with admiring yours. Mme. du Chatelet, who has written to you, sends kindest regards. Goodbye, yours for ever.

-from Voltaire in his Letters: Being a Selection from His Correspondence / translated with a preface and forewords by S. G. Tallentyre (New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1919] pp. 68-70.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

she bids me

Voltaire to Mme. la Comtesse de la Neuville

[In 1734 Voltaire, in order to avoid arrest consequent on the appearance of his English Letters went to the Chateau of Cirey-sur-Blaise in Champagne, a country house of the Marquis and Marquise du Chatelet. The Marquise, one of the most brilliantly accomplished women of her generation--perhaps of any generation--was for fifteen years Voltaire's mistress, and for that fifteen years Cirey was his home.]


It seems an age since I have seen you. Mme. du Chatelet fully intended coming to call on you directly after she arrived at Cirey: but she has turned gardener and architect. She puts windows where I have put doors: she alters staircases into fireplaces, and fireplaces into staircases: she has limes planted where I had settled on elms: she has changed what I had made a vegetable plot into a flower garden. Indoors, she has done the work of a good fairy. Rags are bewitched into tapestry: she has found out the secret of furnishing Cirey out of nothing. She will be engrossed in these occupations for several days longer. I hope to have the honour of acting as her post-boy to Neuville, having been her garden-boy here. She bids me assure you and Mme. de Champbonin how anxious she is to see you. You may be sure I am not less impatient.
-from Voltaire in his Letters: Being a Selection from His Correspondence / translated with a preface and forewords by S. G. Tallentyre (New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1919] pp. 35-38.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

only a guinea

Voltaire to Dean Swift

At the Sign of the White Peruke,
Covent Garden, London,
December 14, 1727.

You will be surprised, sir, to receive from a French traveller an Essay*, in English, on the Civil Wars of France--which form the subject of the Henriade. I beg your indulgence for one of your admirers, who, through your writings, has become so fond of the English language that he has the temerity to write in it himself.

You will see, by the Preface, that I have had certain designs on you, and have ventured there to speak of you, for the honour of your country and the good of mine: do not forbid me to adorn my work with your name.

Let me have the satisfaction of speaking of you now, as posterity most certainly will.

Might I ask you, at the same time, to use your influence in Ireland to procure me a few subscribers to the Henriade which, for want of such assistance, has not yet appeared? The subscription is only a guinea, payable in advance. I am, sir, with the profoundest esteem, your very humble and obedient servant,

*An Essay Upon the Civil Wars of France, Extracted from Various Manuscripts (London, 1727) with dedication to Jonathan Swift.

-from Voltaire in his Letters: Being a Selection from His Correspondence / translated with a preface and forewords by S. G. Tallentyre (New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1919] pp. 21-22.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

obscurity of some retreat

Voltaire in exile in England to his friend M. Nicolas-Claude Thiériot

August 12, 1726.

My dear Thiériot,
I received your letter of May 11th very late. You know how unlucky I was in Paris. The same evil fate pursues me everywhere. If the character of the hero of my poem [Henry IV in his Henriade] is as well sustained as my own ill luck, that poem will certainly succeed better than I do. You give me such touching assurances of your friendship that it is only fair I should give you my confidence. So I will confide in you, my dear Thieriot, that, a little while ago, I paid a brief visit to Paris. As I did not see you, you will know I saw nobody. I was seeking one man, who hid, like the coward he is, as if he guessed I was on his track. My fear of being discovered made me leave more hurriedly than I came. The fact is my dear Thieriot, there is every likelihood that I shall never see you again. I am still uncertain if I shall retire to London. I know that England is a land where the arts are honoured and rewarded, where there is a difference of conditions, but no other difference between men, save merit. In this country it is possible to use one's mind freely and nobly, without fear or cringing. If I followed my own inclination, I should stay here; if only to learn how to think. But I am not sure if my small fortune--eaten into by so much travelling--my health, more precarious than ever, and my love of solitude, will make it possible for me to fling myself into the hurly-burly of Whitehall and of London.

I have many introductions in England, and much kindness awaits me there: but I cannot say positively that I shall take the plunge. There are two things I must do: first, risk my life for honour's sake as soon as I can; then, end it in the obscurity of some retreat suited to my turn of mind, my misfortunes, and my low opinion of mankind.

I can cheerfully renounce my pensions from the King and Queen: my only regret being that I have not been able to arrange that you should take advantage of them. It would be a consolation to me in my solitude if I could feel I had been useful to you for once in my life: but I am fated to be wretched in every way. . . .

Farewell, my dear Thieriot: love me, despite absence and misfortune.

-from Voltaire in his Letters: Being a Selection from His Correspondence / translated with a preface and forewords by S. G. Tallentyre (New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1919] pp. 19-20.

Monday, September 15, 2008

a house of mourning

Earl Grey to Princess Lieven

No. 25.
Berkeley Square,
June 11th, 1835.

Dearest Princess,

was beginning to think the interval very long since your last letter from Berlin, when your letter of the 6th from Frankfort was brought to me this evening.

In the meantime this has been a house of mourning. Poor Captain Barrington (my son-in-law), after another attack which from the beginning left no hope of recovery, was carried off; and the next day deprived my daughter Mary [Lady Mary Wood] of her only child--a sweet little girl of two years old. . . .

I have seen few people, and have not been out at all, on account of these misfortunes, for the last few days, and have less than usual to tell you. Besides, my feeling of the insecurity of the post by your change of place is stronger than ever, and makes it impossible for me to discuss as freely as I should otherwise be inclined to do the present state of affairs here, and its probable consequences. Nothing, indeed, has occurred since my last to afford better lights as to what is likely to happen, with the exception of the new Corporation Bill brought in by the Ministers. This seems to have been well received, and may give them some popularity in the country, and is in itself, I think, a good measure. Peel has acted, for his own interests, judiciously, and for those of the public usefully, upon it; but not very agreeably, I should think, to his High Tory friends, or very consistently with his former conduct and opinions. It is, as you say, very true that there now appears to be little difference between him and me (with one exception), on the most important question of our internal policy. Why was not this agreement sooner apparent? I certainly have not changed. From the moment of the passing of the Reform Bill my object was to work out its necessary consequences on true Conservative principles. This necessity he now acknowledges, and I have only to add that if this conviction had broken upon him sooner, much difficulty, and perhaps much danger, might have been avoided.

As to foreign politics, I have so little knowledge of what has been lately passing, that I can give no satisfactory opinion upon them. The question of intervention [in Spain]--that is, direct intervention--seems to be settled for the present. Louis Philippe appears to have been decidedly adverse to it, and has been encouraged, it is said, in that opinion by Talleyrand, who on that account is in great favour. What effect our more limited intervention--by suffering troops to be raised here, and officers to enter into the service of the infant Queen [Queen Isabella]--may have, remains to be seen. The Proccs Monstre seems to me the greatest act of political folly that ever was committed. I really have not temper or patience to follow its details. As far as I can judge, I should say that it is involved in insurmountable difficulties, and that if it had been the object of the Government to destroy any little character and consequence that the Chamber of Peers may possess in public opinion, it could not have hit on any measure better calculated for that purpose.

We have now the most delightful weather, everybody complaining of the heat; but this is never a subject of complaint with me. It puts me in mind of former pleasant days at Sheen and Richmond. By the way, Pozzo has been looking at my old house and at Sudbrook, but does not seem inclined to take either.

God bless you, dearest Princess.
Ever yours most affectionately,

P.S.--Brougham has published a book on theology (!!!) which is making a great noise, and has already reached a second edition, but which I do not feel at all inclined to read.

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 126-28.

Friday, September 12, 2008

prophetic tears

Princess Lieven to Earl Grey.

Berlin, April 22nd, 1835.

My dear friend,
hat can I write? I have no words left, and what can you say to comfort me? Was ever any bereavement more complete than mine? To lose both my children, children whom I passionately adored, as perhaps few other mothers have ever adored their children. And still to live on when they are both dead, dead--under my very eyes.
Arthur told me he was dying; poor angel! he felt the hand of death upon him; and I have had to survive him. Tell me, what is to become of me? I am now nothing but a waif in the world.

My husband could only travel with me as far as Berlin; and I feel that I shall never see him again. I am waiting now for Paul [Prince Paul Lieven then living in London] to come, but he can only stay with me a few weeks.

And then, where am I to go to? What am I to do with my miserable existence? Do not you, at least, abandon me; continue to love me, and write me letters every week at furthest. Address your letters to Berlin. Send them to the Foreign Office.

Are you Prime Minister now? What has happened in England, and what is going to happen there, in that England that I still love, and where I was so happy? Ah, if you only could have kept me there! I know well you would have done it if you could, and you did do your best to prevent our going away. I, too, wanted so much to stay--and were not my tears as I left your shores prophetic of evil? Sorrow even then seemed to weigh me down; but I did not imagine I was destined for such sorrows as have now befallen me. No, it was too horrible even to be dreamt of. And even at this present moment I hardly believe it can be true--Never to see my children more; all the joy, all the occupation of my daily life gone, and nothing left for my heart to love ! . . .

I can think of nothing now. I can do nothing but weep. Here in Berlin they are very kind, and do all they can for me. The Duchess of Cumberland and all the Prussian Princes come to call, and what I ask of them is that they should talk, and make a noise, and take me out of my own sad thoughts. For I am frightful to my own self, and am crushed down by my misfortune. I often think of you, and indeed I know you would pity me.

Write to me, tell me what you are doing and how matters go with you. This is the only subject to which I can turn in order to distract my mind. I am anxious to learn all that is passing in England. Your letters are to be forwarded on to me from Petersburg, and I await them every moment. But an answer to this might reach me more directly.

Write me at length about everything, and do not cease to love your poor friend.

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 106-07.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

not unmindful

Earl Grey to Princess Lieven

March 12th, 1835.

Dearest Princess,
We arrived here on Sunday, and your letter of February 17, No. 19, reached me yesterday. We proceed on our journey to-morrow, stop two days at Lord Dacre's, and intend to be in town on Monday.

As on my first arrival I may find it difficult to write, I send a line now, to show that I am not unmindful of my promise. How, indeed, should I be at this place, where I am so strongly reminded of you, and of the pleasant party which met here at the time of my last visit! How I wish those days could be renewed, and that I could once more have the happiness of seeing you!

Melbourne and John Russell met me here, and though I have had a good deal of conversation with them, it has not furnished me with anything that I can write. All I have heard from them has confirmed the view which I had previously taken of the present state of affairs, and has not diminished my sense of the difficulties resulting from it. I shall perhaps be able to send you something more satisfactory, when I have had time to look about me after my arrival in London. En attendant, I must refer you to the opinions I have already expressed. I will only add that Howick's conduct has given me the greatest satisfaction. It has shown great good sense and discretion, and is in perfect concurrence with my sentiments as to the necessity of preserving a straight and manly course, equally avoiding any compromise of his principles on the one hand, or any tendency to violent measures on the other. John Russell has gained great credit by his speeches, but he looks very ill, and I do not think he will be able to stand the fatigue of every description to which his new situation exposes him. [Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons.]

The death of the Emperor of Austria gives a new interest to foreign politics. I regret it sincerely, fearing its effect on the Austrian Empire, and consequently on the state of Europe. Has your friend Metternich secured himself with the new Emperor, or is his power, of which he has had longer possession than most Ministers, likely to be subverted?

We have had rather a large, though chiefly a family, party here. The Duchess-Countess came for one day to state all her alarms to me. She feels, as well she may, great uneasiness at the present state of affairs, but seems very much disposed to place her confidence in me. My son George is gone to pass some months at Tours, to learn French. He had been at Rochecotte, where he had received great kindness from Madame de Dino and Talleyrand, and says nobody can look in better health than the latter. What a miserable letter! but it will at least assure you of my constant and most affectionate remembrance.
Yours ever,
-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 89-91.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

so hand in glove

Princess Lieven to Earl Grey.

St. Petersburg,
Nov. 9th/21st, 1834.

have just received your letter No. 7, my dear lord, and I realize by its date, October 20, how far separated we now are one from another. As long as the Baltic remained open, the fact was not so keenly brought home to me; but this cutting off of one of our means of communication seems like a new separation. If this acts on you as it does on me, it will turn to the profit of our correspondence, for I feel myself urged to write to you now oftener even than before. I am more anxious than ever for my English letters, and, above all, for yours. I devour all the newspapers I can get with an inconceivable avidity, and I am better pleased by a visit from Mr. Bligh than from anyone else; in short, it is English and of England that I must speak, in order to keep myself in passably good spirits.

Lord Durham's speech at Glasgow was of a strong order; we shall see if he will and can act up to the principles there expounded. The speech seems to have made much stir both in England and abroad. I see that France deems herself offended by it. I have just read the article in the Edinburgh Review which gave rise to Lord Durham's attack on the Chancellor. The latter was certainly the first offender. It all appears to me a war of words, in which the personal element has been carried much too far; and what you say on the subject entirely coincides with the conclusions I myself had already drawn.

We as yet know nothing of the result of the recent Ministerial crisis in France. It appears to be grave, and I wonder whether you will not feel the counter-shock of the contest over in England. Hitherto a certain sympathy in the matter of political crises has always been found to exist between the two countries. Further, it would seem to me likely that the present Government [Lord Melbourne's] in England will find some difficulty in getting on comfortably, what between the Chancellor and certain other of its members. No Administration can hold its ground when its members are always quarrelling, and assuredly this present Whig Government can hardly be considered as united in the bonds of amity. What is become of M. de Talleyrand? I have heard nothing of him, for, much to my annoyance, they have kept back in London a letter for me from Madame de Dino; and it would have told me everything. Lady Cowper writes to me very often, but, then, she is so hand in glove with the present Ministry that I do not learn much from her letters. I prefer hearing from outsiders, for they at least do not try to mislead. It is astounding how like bad faith this Ministerial prudence too often becomes.

Since the departure of the Emperor and his son, I have been trying to orient myself somewhat in Petersburg society. I am at home every evening. Up to the present, however, I cannot say that I have made any very notable progress. I see plenty of people, but have found no society. I am very well pleased with your Minister here, and with the two Ambassadors of Austria and France. Marechal Maison is a soldier of the school of Bonaparte, with rather too much of garrison manners and methods of speech to be quite to my taste; but he is an intelligent man and full of tact, without either exaggerated ideas or diplomatic affectations; and he is, besides, full of good sense and very amusing. See what poor letters I write you now, my dear lord, and what a fine opportunity you have of showing your generosity towards me! You have everything to give, and nothing to receive, unless it be the reiterated assurances of my constant and warm affection.

My husband desires me to give you many messages from him, and both to Lady Grey and Lady Georgiana I send my most affectionate greetings.

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 49-51.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

in this remote corner

Earl Grey to Princess Lieven

Dec. 1st, 1834.

Dearest Princess,
Since my last I have received your letter of the 1st November--No. 9. . .

You would naturally expect from me much information at this interesting moment. I live here, in a great manner, excluded from the world, and the present state of uncertainty* in which we await the return of Sir Robert Peel is likely to last at least ten days longer. In the meantime 'his Highness the Dictator' is himself the Government, concentrating in himself all the power of the State, and uniting in a manner neither constitutional nor legal the appointments of First Lord of the Treasury and Secretary of State. This is producing, according to the best information I can obtain, an effect very unfavourable to his ultimate success; and the formation of a new Ministry will be a work of more difficulty than I at first thought it. The manner, too, in which the late Government was dismissed has greatly affected the public feeling.

Living in this remote corner, and having, as I have already said, little intercourse with the active world, my means of information are necessarily very limited. Add to this that those with whom I communicate are chiefly persons whose opinions are strongly adverse to the change that has taken place. But with all the allowances to be made on these accounts, I see strong reasons for believing that public opinion is receiving a powerful direction against the Duke of Wellington and his supporters, and that a conflict is likely to take place which, whatever party prevails, must produce results very unfortunate for the country. What afflicts me most is the tendency that things have to unite the Moderate Whigs with those whose views would still lead them to very extensive, and, as I think, dangerous changes, which it may become very difficult to prevent. All this is very vague, but I have nothing better to say in the present state of affairs, though if I could have the happiness of seeing you, I might explain more fully the view which I take of these matters, and the reasons on which it is founded.

My time has lately been passed very pleasantly. The whole family of the Seftons, and others, have been here for the last fortnight, and our weather continues very fine. . . . The favourite amusement of our visitors is to pass the morning on the rocks by the sea-shore; and you know Sefton well enough to know that our evenings cannot be otherwise than pleasant. How different the climate which you describe, and for which I really pity you! But I rejoice to hear that you are so well pleased with your new establishment at St. Petersburg, and always pray that every happiness may attend you. God bless you, dearest Princess.

Ever most affectionately yours,

[*Until Sir R. Peel could be communicated with, the Duke of Wellington, by the King's command, temporarily assumed the duties of First Lord of the Treasury, and at the same time, pending the new arrangements, held the seals of the Home Office, and of the two other Secretaries of State. For himself the Duke refused the chief place; the battle would have to be fought out in the House of Commons, and the Prime Minister would have to be personally present at the crisis of the struggle. The news of Lord Melbourne's dismissal reached Sir R. Peel in Rome, November 25; he immediately set out, and reached London on December 9.]

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 47-48.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pray tell

Princess Lieven to Earl Grey.

Oct. 11th/23rd, 1834.

The mail steamer has met with an accident, my dear lord, which prevents its leaving the day after to-morrow; the steamer from Lubeck, which we have been expecting for the last four days, has not yet come in, all of which means that I have little to say and nothing to answer. I must send you my letter by the land post, and I write because I imagine you wish to hear from me, that you like my letters because you love me, and because I myself feel the sad need of a little talk with you. I have absolutely nothing of news to tell you. I have not stirred out of this place, and my days run on in the manner I have already described to you. The only variety is on Sunday, when the high officials of the Court, and the Ministers, come out to pay us a visit, and among them comes Count Nesselrode, whose society is always like a holiday to me. The Emperor's return has been postponed; he is making an inspection of the central provinces, and reviewing some of the army corps. He is to make a short stay also at Moscow, and will in all probability only arrive here at the end of another fortnight.

Having now told you all about myself, let me put some questions in return. Pray tell me what is taking place in England. What is the position of things between the Government, the Radicals and the Tories? Is O'Connell content with it all? I should be much grieved if he were. Do you not somewhat regret the death of Don Pedro? I myself imagine there is no one in Portugal who inherits either his strong will or his energy; and certainly for keeping faction at bay the lack of these two qualities will make itself felt most disastrously. Pray tell me what you think about Portugal. As far as politics are concerned, she is too far away from us to interest me much; but I take some thought in the matter on account of my liking for Palmella. Louis Philippe is doing well to inaugurate the etiquette of a Court at Fontainebleau. This best of Republican Governments would have been greatly amazed four years ago had they been told that Court state would again be held in their midst! But heaven be praised that it has so fallen out; you would never imagine how fond I am become of courtly ways; possibly it is for that reason I so detest revolutions.

Oct. 24th.
Here is your letter No. 6 just arrived. Thank you a thousand times for it. You would be well pleased could you see how much happiness your letters give me. When they come I have such pleasant moments, for I make believe I am still at Ashburnham House. Heaven help me! Matuscewitz has arrived, and I hope to meet him to-day, and am all impatience to talk to him. Madame de Dino writes to me very regularly, but I do not gather from her letters, any more than you do, whether M. de Talleyrand is to return to London or not. He adores England, but then he hates Lord Palmerston; of that there is no doubt.

I do not understand why the French Government have shown themselves so adverse to Donna Maria marrying the Duke of Leuchtenberg. If I were the Portuguese, however, I should not approve of the marriage. The quarterings on his father's side leave much to be desired, and they are a proud race, those Portuguese. From what they all say, however, he is personally a very proper sort of person.

Adieu, my dear lord. A thousand kind messages to Lady Grey. I am fully of your opinion as regards Lord Harrowby, as long as he keeps to English; but when he talks French he bores me, for he is pretentious, is a purist in literature, recites verses, and has a grating voice, all of which are antipathetic to me. He has an excellent head for business, however, and has had great experience in dealing with people, so his advice is always worth listening to. His wife is charming, very witty, and full of good sense, without an atom of pretence. And, although she has never, I fancy, confessed it, she has always had a strong liking for you.

Adieu, once again. My love to Lady Georgiana, and a thousand kindest regards. My husband sends you many messages.

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 41-43.

Friday, September 5, 2008

ennui with resignation

Princess Lieven to Earl Grey.

St. Petersburg,
Aug. 24th\Sept. 5th, 1834.

Many, many thanks, my dear lord, for your letter of August 15. No one cares for me here as you do--at any rate, no one tells me they do--and I have now more need than ever of your friendship. . . . It is all a sad change for me.

Everything you write of your family affairs is to me of the greatest interest, and I entreat you to continue, and by so doing enable me still to live on, in fancy, the life of your own dear and beautiful country. My other correspondents do little or nothing for me. Lady Cowper very naturally prophesies that all must go well, and that her brother [Lord Melbourne] will find everything come easy to his hand. She has her interests so bound up in the present Ministry that her opinions, and even her facts, must be taken with caution. One must stand among the spectators to see the play fairly; the actors themselves cannot possibly judge of the effect. And this, believe me, is the fruit of my observations during the twenty-two years I passed in England watching those who in turn have been at the head of affairs. I have found no exceptions, not even in your case. The statesman in power is surrounded by flatterers. He is naturally little prone to give credence to uncomfortable facts, and those who are interested in obtaining Ministerial favours keep all disagreeable matters from his knowledge. It is the way in all countries, and your country in particular forms no exception.

Now pray write me all the news you hear, and your opinions on it all. The present Government has your goodwill, but you will not fail to see their faults, and the greatest of all faults is for them to imagine themselves indispensable. This is abject folly, and I was surprised to hear that Lord Melbourne could be such a coxcomb. I really did not give him credit for it.

You will see by all this that my heart is still in England. You wish, however, to have news of me, and hence I must recall the fact that I am writing to you from Russia. My dear lord, I spend my day wearying my body and resting my mind. No one would imagine that this suited me remarkably well, but I have no other choice at present. Life at Court is not what I was made for. I rarely now dine with their Majesties in private, or with so few at table as to allow of pleasant conversation. There are generally dinners of a hundred or two hundred people, after which in the evening there is card-playing or a ball, following on which comes supper. And this is my day. At these soirees I no longer play a prominent part; I am only a spectator, and I regret I am no longer twenty years of age, for then I should be able to amuse myself. I turn my eyes to right and to left looking for succour, but those who might aid me go and establish themselves at the whist-tables, where everybody has to play extremely well and stake extremely high. I therefore remain glued to my chair, suffer ennui with resignation--and the next day begin it all over again. I know nothing as to what life we shall lead when the Emperor and Empress are away. Nothing has been settled as yet, except that we are to pass the time in the country, with our young charge. On the 1st November I go and establish myself in town. I shall be wondrous well cared for there in all material points, but whether my mental requirements will be equally well provided for remains to be seen. I should like to send you the plan of my house, or, at any rate, that of the floor I am to occupy, in order that you may be able to form an idea of me when I am at home.

Your bracelet I always wear, and the ring Lady Grey gave me, and I shall never leave either of them off.

Sept. 6th.
The Russian messenger who arrived yesterday brought me your letter No. 3; thank you once more for so faithfully writing to me. Of all the friends I have left in England, it is you who are the most constant in friendship; and I only hope you will not weary of me. I had seen in the papers the account of your triumphal march through the North Country; it pleased me, and made me feel very proud for you. I am delighted also to learn that you are on such good terms with Lord Durham. For everything that is of concern to you interests me.

What the Times says amuses me greatly; its strictures on the Chancellor are most biting. If, as you have always told me, the Times represents public opinion, all this is not very favourable to the Government. And if the Ministry really does not enjoy the public favour (and seeing they have no great talents in the Cabinet), I am curious to know how they will manage to keep on their legs. They will take a good deal of beating, however, to make them resign, for they have a marvellous tenacity of will for keeping in office. Lord Palmerston has become very amiably disposed towards Russia, now that he no longer has my husband to deal with. This is what I had foreseen, and for Russia a good understanding with England is of too great importance for me to complain of the personal sacrifice. . . .

Your letters reach me perfectly securely. I tell you this once and for all, so you can write everything to me without any fear of the Foreign Office.

Sept. 8th

I must close this now. The great fete is just going to begin. Ever since early morning Petersburg has been inundated with masses of troops--a hundred thousand men in all, they say. It will be very fine and imposing, and it is being done as a last tribute to the memory of the Emperor Alexander I. Adieu, my dear lord. Pray keep in mind the very great pleasure your letters afford me. A thousand most friendly regards.

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 12-16.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Baltic voyage

Princess Lieven to Earl Grey

St. Petersburg,
Aug. 6th /18th, 1834.

Your first letter was indeed a pleasure to me, my dear lord, and its arrival afforded me the one happy moment I have experienced since I bid you good-bye. Ours was indeed a sad parting, and every day I realize more and more the pain and the bitterness of what I feel. Time brings healing to every grief, but what I have lost in this separation so wounds me that I hardly imagine I shall ever get the better of this sorrow.

I wrote to you from Hamburg. The Baltic voyage, after leaving that port, was most horrible. We struck on a rock near the desolate island I was telling you about at Woburn, where the post only comes once a year. During ten long hours we hung literally between life and death. You were often in my thoughts, my dear lord, and I knew you would have given me all your pity. At times it seemed sad to me to have to die so soon; but I had lost England, and I felt I had little in life to regret.

You can imagine what my condition was on arriving at Petersburg after all this. During the first few days I was too ill to go out to the country to see the Emperor and Empress. They, however, have come in to Petersburg, and I have been passing the last two days at the Palace. Their reception of me was most friendly. The Emperor well understands all my regrets, and thus I find myself at liberty to give free expression to all I feel--and I make full use of my freedom. It is a sort of pleasure to me, and I have no inclination for any other just now, unless it be the pleasure of seeing their Majesties again, for I love all the Imperial Family with my whole heart. The young Czarewitch is most charming. You cannot imagine anybody more handsome. He is in every way interesting; he has a most intelligent, sweet face, and a manner of speech and ways that are all one can most desire. I shall love him, I know, as my own son, and in his service I have both interest and occupation, as also my pleasure.

It remains to be seen how I shall get on in my dear native land. The climate, the manners, and the society will all be somewhat of trials to me. To begin with, we are to be left all alone with our young charge. The Emperor sets out in three weeks on a voyage that will take him as far as Siberia. The Empress is going to pass two months at Berlin. The Ministers remain in Petersburg. My husband, therefore, in three weeks' time enters on his important charge of Governor to the Heir of the Crown. Till then we shall be occupied in setting up house. We have found one that I think will suit us perfectly, and it has what to my eyes is the merit of being situated on the English Quay.

Poor Mrs. Arbuthnot's death shocked me greatly. I should not be at all surprised if this event were to lead to the Duke of Wellington marrying again. I wish he would choose Georgina Bathurst, for he could not do better. All the news you send interests me in the highest degree. I wish I could agree with you in thinking that your present Premier has in him the qualities necessary for carrying on the Government as one would wish; but frankly I have no faith in his principles. He may become Radical or he may turn Tory; at least, this is my opinion of him--but I should hasten to add that as a private individual I like and esteem him very highly. There is in him the naivete of a child, and this used to charm me completely; but he never seemed to have the stuff in him for the Premier Minister. I trust the event will prove me to have been in the wrong.

Aug. 9th / 21st
Until to-day I was prevented from finishing my letter, and now I am in the midst of my packing before going into the country to join the Court. So I must close this. I met Mr. Bligh again with the greatest possible delight; he is English, and we talked of England! He is a most agreeable man, and is very popular both in general society and at our Foreign Office.

Adieu, my dear lord; I would I could travel to Howick in the place of this letter. You must not forget me; I trust to having news of you every fortnight, and this will be to me a great, great pleasure. Write of everything. Your letters reach me perfectly safely, and I am curious to hear of all that goes on in England.

A thousand kindest regards to Lady Grey, to Lady Georgiana, and to your son Charles. I love them all with my whole heart, and you more than all of them put together.

P.S. --You cannot conceive the astonishment which was caused here by the news of your retirement, or rather of the manner in which it was brought about. They understand nothing of these things, and I have failed to give them any lucid explanation of what has taken place. Your conduct is clear enough, but what the others have done--ah, mon Dieu ! You would, however, be satisfied if you heard how they judge you and know you here; and it is such a pleasure to me to hear you thus spoken of.

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 9-12.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Earl Grey on Early Rising

Thomas Hood to The Duke of Devonshire

Winchmore Hill.
[April, 1831]

My Lord Duke,
On learning that Your Grace is at Chatsworth, I send off as many titles as have occurred to me; promising myself the honour and pleasure of waiting upon Your Grace with some others on the 14th, and am, My Lord Duke, Your Grace's most obliged and obedient servant,
Thos. Hood.


On the Lung Arne in Consumption. By D. Cline.
Dante's Inferno; or Description of Van Demon's Land.
The Racing Calendar, with the Eclipses for 1831.
Ye Devill on Two Styx (Black letter). 2 Vols.
On cutting off Heirs with a Shilling. By Barber Beaumont.
Percy Vere. In 40 volumes.
Galerie des Grands Tableaux par les Petits Maitres.
On the Affinity of the Death Watch and Sheep Tick.
Lamb's Recollections of Suett.
Lamb on the Death of Wolfe.
The Optician. By Lord Farnham.
Tadpoles; or Tales out of my own Head.
On the Connection of the River Oder and the River Wezel.
Malthus' Attack of Infantry.
McAdam's Views in Rhodes.
Spenser, with Chaucer's Tales.
Autographia; or Man's Nature, known by his Sig-nature.
Manfredi. Translated by Defoe.
Earl Grey on Early Rising.
Plurality of Livings, with regard to the Common Cat.
The Life of Zimmermann. By Himself.
On the Quadrature of the Circle; or Squaring in the Ring. By J. Mendoza.
Gall's Sculler's Fares.
Bish's Retreat of the Ten Thousand.
Dibdin's Cream of Tar -- .
Cornaro on Longevity and the Construction of 74's
Pompeii; or Memoirs of a Black Footman. By Sir W. Gell.
Pygmalion. By Lord Bacon.
Macintosh, Macculoch, and Macaulay on Almacks.
On Trial by Jury, with remarkable Packing Cases.
On the Distinction between Lawgivers and Law-sellers. By Lord Brougham.
Memoirs of Mrs. Mountain. By Ben Lomond.
Feu mon pere--feu ma mere. Par Swing.

-from Memorials of Thomas Hood collected, arranged, and edited by his daughter with a preface and notes by his son / 2 volumes (Boston: Tichnor and Fields, 1860) pp. 29-31.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

unreal folios

The Duke of Devonshire to Thomas Hood

[February 8th, 1831.]

Accept my best thanks for the beautiful copies of the "Comic Annual," which I have had the pleasure of receiving from you; you could not have selected a person who has enjoyed more the perusal of your works.

I am almost afraid of making the following request, but perhaps it may be as amusing as it must be easy to you to comply with it, in which case alone I beg you to do it.

It is necessary to construct a door of sham books, for the entrance of a library at Chatsworth: your assistance in giving me inscriptions for these unreal folios, quartos, and 12mos, is what I now ask.

One is tired of the "Plain Dealings," "Essays on "Wood," and "Perpetual Motion" on such doors,--on one I have seen the names of "Don Quixote's Library," and on others impossibilities, such as "Virgilii Odaria,"-- "Herodoti Poemata"--"Byron's Sermons"--&c., &c.; but from you I venture to hope for more attractive titles--at your perfect leisure and convenience. I have the honour to be, Sir, with many excuses.
Your sincere humble servant,

-from Memorials of Thomas Hood collected, arranged, and edited by his daughter with a preface and notes by his son / 2 volumes (Boston: Tichnor and Fields, 1860) pp. 28-29.