Thursday, July 31, 2008

object and province

Charles Dickens to W. Wilkie Collins

Tavistock House,
Sunday, Fifteenth April, 1855.

My dear Collins, ----Hurrah!
I shall be charmed to see you once more in a Normal state, and propose Friday next for our meeting at the Garrick, at a quarter before 5. We will then proceed to the Ship and Turtle.

I fell foul of Wills* yesterday, for that in "dealing with" the second part of your story [Sister Rose]** he had not (in two places) "indoctrinated" the Printer with the change of name. He explained to me that on the whole, and calmly regarding all the facts from a politico-economical point of view, it was a more triumphant thing to have two mistakes than none--and, indeed, that, philosophically considered, this was rather the object and province of a periodical.
Faithfully always, C. D.

* W. H. Wills, sub-editor of Household Words.
** The French Governess's Story of Sister Rose first published in Household Words April 1855, and later published with five other short stories in his first volume of shorter fiction After Dark (1856).

-from the Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins edited by Laurence Hutton (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891) p. 31.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

no end of Basils

Charles Dickens to W. Wilkie Collins

Chateau des Moulineaux,
Rue Beaurepaire, Boulogne,
Friday, Twenty-fourth June, 1853.

My dear Collins, --- I hope you are as well as I am, and have as completely shaken off all your ailings. And I hope, too, that you are disposed for a long visit here. We are established in a doll's country house of many rooms in a delightful garden. If you have anything to do, this is the place to do it in. And if you have nothing to do, this is also the place to do it in to perfection.

You shall have a Pavilion room in the garden, with a delicious view, where you may write no end of Basils. You shall get up your Italian as I raise the fallen fortunes (at present sorely depressed) of mine. You shall live, with a delicate English graft upon the best French manner, and learn to get up early in the morning again. In short, you shall be thoroughly prepared, during the whole summer season, for those great travels that are to come off anon.

Do turn your thoughts this way, coming by South Eastern Tidal Train (there is a separate list for that train, the time changing every day as the tide varies), you come in five hours. No passport wanted. Mrs. Dickens and her sister send their kind regards, and beg me to say how glad they will be to see you. Our united remembrances to your mother and brother.



-from the Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins edited by Laurence Hutton (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891) p. 14-15.

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.

Monday, July 28, 2008

fairy barks and sails

Felicia Hemans to Mr. L.

Dove Nest Cottage, Ambleside, July 20th, 1830.

My dear Mr. L ,
A letter which I received this morning from Liverpool mentions your having returned home, and I will therefore no longer delay writing to you, as you may perhaps wish to know my present address. I fear you have given up your intention of visiting the Lakes, as your last letter made no mention of it The weather is indeed any thing but alluring, though there are few, even of the most lowering days here, among which one cannot get out of doors in a parenthesis, such as the culinary regions where you now are very seldom afford. I am anxious to know whether you received my little volume, which was sent for you to the Athenaeum: very little of its contents would be new to you, though the arrangement of the whole might, I hope, afford you some pleasure. You were quite right about the name of 'my Cid,' as the old Spanish chroniclers call him: it is Diaz, and not Diar, and he is a personage for whom I have so much respect, that it would have grieved me to see his 'style and title' falsified. I remained at Mr. Wordsworth's rather more than a fortnight, and then came to my present residence, a lonely, but beautifully situated cottage on the banks of Windermere. I am so much delighted with the spot, that I scarcely know how I shall leave it. The situation is one of the deepest retirement; but the bright lake before me, with all its fairy barks and sails, glancing like 'things of life' over its blue water, prevents the solitude from being overshadowed by anything like sadness. I contrive to see Mr. Wordsworth frequently, but am little disturbed by other visitors: only the other evening, just as I was about to go forth upon the lake, a card was brought to me.___________ Think of my being found out by American tourists in Dove's Nest! 'I wish ______, and _______ , and _______, (for they were all impending over me,) were in the arms of Helvellyn and Catchedicam!' exclaimed I, most irreverently: but however, they brought credentials I could not but acknowledge. The young ladies, as I feared, brought an Album concealed in their shawls, and it was levelled at me like a pocket-pistol before all was over. When you see Mrs. ______, will you tell her that I have just had a very kind and pleasant letter from Lady Dacre: tell her, also, that I am going to read some of Schiller with Mr. Wordsworth. I know that she will understand that high enjoyment." . . . .


-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. 142-44.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Crusoe's dismay

Felicia Hemans to family

Dove Nest [Windermere, July 1830]

My dear ,
I have too long left unacknowledged your welcome letter, but the wicked world does so continue to persecute me with notes, and parcels, and dispatches, that, even here, I cannot find half the leisure you would imagine. Yesterday I had three visiting cards--upon which I look with a fearful and boding eye--left at the house, whilst I was sitting, in the innocency of my heart, thinking no harm, by the side of the lake. Imagine visiting cards at Dove's Nest! Robinson Crusoe's dismay at seeing the print of the man's foot in the sand could have been nothing, absolutely nothing, to mine, when these evil tokens of 'young ladies with pink parasols' met my distracted sight, on my return from the shore. En revanche, however, I have just received the most exquisite letter ever indited by the pen of man, from a young American, who being an inhabitant of No. _____, _____, is certainly not likely to trouble me with anything more than his 'spiritual attachment,' as Mr. _____of _____ is pleased to call it. He, that is, my American, must certainly not be the 'walking-stick,' but the very leaping- pole of friendship. Pray read, mark, learn, and promulgate for the benefit of the family, the following delectable passage. "How often have I sung some touching stanza of your own, as I rode on horseback of a Saturday evening, from the village academy to my house a little distance out of town; and saw through the waving cedars and pines, the bark roof and the open door of some pleasant wigwam, where the young comely maidens were making their curious baskets, or mocasins, or wampum-belts, and singing their 'To-gas-a-wana, or evening song. How often have I murmured 'Bring flowers' or the 'Voice of Spring,' as thus I pondered along! How often have I stood on the shore of the Cayuga, the Seneca, the Oneida, and the Skanateles, and called to mind the sweetness of your strains!' I see you are enchanted, my dear,--but this is not all: 'the lowliest of my admirers,' as the amiable youth entitles himself, begs permission to be for once my 'cordonnier,' and is about to send me a pair of Indian mocasins, with my illustrious name interwoved in the buckskin of which they are composed, with wampum beads.' If I receive this precious gift before I return to Liverpool, I shall positively make my appearance, en squaw, the very first evening I come to _____ street; and pray tell Dr. ______ that with these mocasins, and a blanket to correspond, I shall certainly be able to defy all the rigours of the ensuing winter. I am much disappointed to find that there is no prospect of your visiting this lovely country. I am sure that nothing would do ______ so much good as a brief return to its glorious scenery: there is balm in the very stillness of the spot I have chosen. The 'majestic silence' of these lakes, perfectly soundless and waveless as they are, except when troubled by the wind, is to me most impressive. O what a poor thing is society in the presence of skies and waters and everlasting hills! You may be sure I do not allude to the dear intercourse of friend with friend--that would be dearer tenfold--more precious, more hallowed in scenes like this. Oh! how I wish you were here! . . .


-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. 131-34.

Friday, July 25, 2008

esto perpetua

Felicia Hemans visiting the Lake District

Rydal Mount, June 24th, 1830.

Will you favour me by accepting this copy of the little volume, in the preparation of which I was so greatly indebted to your kindness? I have written your name in it, and in the other two that of Dr.______, to whom I wish you would present them with my grateful respects. I seem to be writing to you almost from the spirit-land; all is here so brightly still, so remote from everyday cares and tumults, that sometimes I can scarcely persuade myself I am not dreaming. It scarcely seems to be 'the light of common day,' that is clothing the woody mountains before me; there is something almost visionary in its soft gleams and ever-changing shadows. I am charmed with Mr. Wordsworth, whose kindness to me has quite a soothing influence over my spirits. Oh! what relief, what blessing there is in the feeling of admiration, when it can be freely poured forth! 'There is a daily beauty in his life,' which is in such lovely harmony with his poetry, that I am thankful to have witnessed and felt it. He gives me a good deal of his society, reads to me, walks with me, leads my poney when I ride, and I begin to talk with him as with a sort of paternal friend. The whole of this morning he kindly passed in reading to me a great deal from Spenser, and afterwards his own 'Laodamia,' my favourite 'Tintern Abbey,' and many of those noble sonnets which you, like myself, enjoy so much. His reading is very peculiar, but, to my ear, delightful; slow, solemn, earnest in expression more than any I have ever heard: when he reads or recites in the open air, his deep rich tones seem to proceed from a spirit-voice, and belong to the religion of the place; they harmonize so fitly with the thrilling tones of woods and waterfalls. His expressions are often strikingly poetical: 'I would not give up the mists that spiritualize our mountains for all the blue skies of Italy.' Yesterday evening he walked beside me as I rode on a long and lovely mountain-path high above Grasmere Lake: I was much interested by his showing me, carved deep into the rock, as we passed, the initials of his wife's name, inscribed there many years ago by himself, and the dear old man, like 'Old Mortality,' renews them from time to time; I could scarcely help exclaiming 'Esto perpetua'. . . .
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. 116-118.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

these Abbotsford pens

Felicia Hemans to her family

Abbotsford, [July] 26, [1829].

I believe I have embodied in these lines * my idea, not only of Rizzio's fate, but of Mary's: you, I recollect, thought the latter rather an imaginary view, and it may well be; for I have so often found a kind of relief in throwing the colouring of my own feelings over the destiny of historical characters, that it has almost become a habit of my mind. But how can I go on thus, speaking of myself, here in this faery realm of Abbotsford?--with so many relics of the chivalrous past around me, and the presiding spirit which has gathered them together still shedding out its own brightness over all! I have now had the gratification of seeing him in every point of view I could desire: we had one of the French princes here yesterday, with his suite; the Duc de Chartres, son of the Duc d' Orleans;--and there was naturally some little excitement diffused through the household by the arrival of a royal guest: Sir Walter was, however, exactly the same in his own manly simplicity; kind, courteous, unaffected; ' his foot upon his native heath' I must say a few words of the Duc, who is a very elegant young man, possessing a finished and really noble grace of manner, which conveys at once the idea of Sir Philip Sidney's high thoughts seated 'in a heart of courtesy,' and which one likes to consider as an appanage of royal blood. I was a little nervous when Sir Walter handed me to the piano, on which I was the sole performer, for the delectation of the courtly party. Son Altesse Royale made a most exemplary listener; hut my discovery that he was pleased to consider one of Count Oginski's polonaises as a variation upon that beautiful slow movement of Hummel's which you copied for me, and which is one of my especial favourites, very much neutralized the effect which his 'paroles d'or et de soie' might otherwise have had upon my dazzled intellect. To-day, Lord ______ is expected, with his eldest son, here called the 'Master of ______.' How completely that title brings back Ravenswood and Lucy Ashton to one's imagination! If the 'Master' have not something of the stately Edgar about him, I shall be rather disappointed. . . . . I am so glad you are going on so diligently with Spanish, and anticipate so much pleasure from your further acquaintance with the beautiful Letrillas and romances I have collected myself. I have never had any companion in my Spanish studies, or any person who has taken the least interest in them before,--so that you will be the only friend associated with them in my recollection. I suppose these Abbotsford pens are all spoiled by the Waverley novels. I am really 'a woman to be pitied' for the one with which I write, and your lot in reading will not be much more enviable.

* Felicia Hemans' poem, To A Remembered Picture.


-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. 50-53.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

arch good-nature

Felicia Hemans to her family

[Felicia Hemans made a visit to Scotland in the summer of 1829 with her two young sons. After Edinburgh she travelled to Roxburgshire to stay at Chiefswood, the residence of the author Cyril Thornton, which was close to Sir Walter Scott's residence, Abbotsford.]

Chiefswood, July 13. [1829]

How I wish you were within reach of a post, like our most meritorious Saturday's Messenger, my dear------Amidst all these new scenes and new people I want so much to talk to you all! At present I can only talk of Sir Walter Scott, with whom I have been just taking a long, delightful walk through the 'Rhymour's Glen.' I came home, to be sure, in rather a disastrous state after my adventure, and was greeted by my maid, with that most disconsolate visage of hers, which invariably moves my hard heart to laughter; for I had got wet above my ankles in the haunted burn, torn my gown in making my way through thickets of wild roses, stained my gloves with wood-strawberries, and even--direst misfortune of all! scratched my face with a rowan branch. But what of all this? Had I not been walking with Sir Walter Scott, and listening to tales of elves and bogles and brownies, and hearing him recite some of the Spanish ballads till they 'stirred the heart like the sound of a trumpet?' I must reserve many of these things to tell you when we meet, but one very important trait, (since it proves a sympathy between the Great Unknown and myself,) I cannot possibly defer to that period, but must record it now. You will expect something peculiarly impressive, I have no doubt. Well--we had reached a rustic seat in the wood, and were to rest there, but I, out of pure perverseness, chose to establish myself comfortably on a grass bank. ' Would it not be more prudent for you, Mrs. Hemans,' said Sir Walter, 'to take the seat?' 'I have no doubt that it would, Sir Walter, but, somehow or other, I always prefer the grass. 'And so do I,' replied the dear old gentleman, coming to sit there beside me, 'and I really believe that I do it chiefly out of a wicked wilfulness, because all my good advisers say that it will give me the rheumatism.' Now was it not delightful? I mean for the future to take exactly my own way in all matters of this kind, and to say that Sir Walter Scott particularly recommended me to do so. I was rather agreeably surprised by his appearance, after all I had heard of its homeliness; the predominant expression of countenance, is, I think, a sort of arch good-nature, conveying a mingled impression of penetration and benevolence. The portrait in the last year's Literary Souvenir is an excellent likeness. . . .

-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. 30-33.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

variable spirits

Felicia Hemans to Miss Mitford

St. Asaph, March 23rd, 1828.

My dear Miss Mitford,
I ought long since to have thanked you for your very kind letter, although it brought disappointment with it, in the conviction that I must not hope to see you here. You are happy in having such reasons to assign, for the difficulty of your leaving home; every day impresses more forcibly on my mind the truth and the full meaning of Gray's remark, We can have but one mother; it is now about a year since I have been deprived of mine, and will you think me weak when I tell you that I shed tears over your letter, from the idea of the pleasure it would have given her? I am sure that you will agree with me, that fame can only afford reflected delight to a woman. Do you know that I often think of you, and the happiness you must feel in being able to run to your father and mother, with all the praises you receive. For me that joy is past; but I will not write in sadness to her whose writings have often thrown sunshine over my own variable spirits. How are all my old friends of 'Our Village?' Lizzy and Lucy and May, and the pleasant people at the 'Vicarage,' and the merry men of the cricket-ground ? do tell me something of them all. I became acquainted with your delightful bird-catcher last month, and have only to hope that you were not the worse for that fog in which you encountered him, and the very description of which almost took my hair out of curl whilst reading it. Your autograph, which I transmitted to my American friends, was very gratefully received, and is enshrined in a book amidst I know not how many other ' bright names;' for aught I know, Washington himself may be there, side by side with you; and not improbably is, for they are going to send me an original letter of his, which I shall prize much. If you are likely soon to pay one of your flying visits to London, I should very much like you to see my portrait, for which I sat a few months since; I am sure you will understand why I wish you to see it; it would be giving me something of a personal introduction to one whom I esteem so highly. The picture is at the rooms of the artist, Mr. West, 63, Margaret Street, Cavendish Square: it is considered a very striking likeness. I am about to publish a little volume, called 'Records of Woman,' of which I shall beg your acceptance: I have put my heart and individual feelings into it more than any thing else I have written; but, whether it will interest my friends more for this reason, remains to be seen. May I offer my kindest respects to your father and mother, and beg you to believe me, Dear Miss Mitford,
Very 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. 1, pp. 158-61.

Monday, July 21, 2008

si chevaleresque

Felicia Hemans to Miss Baillie

April 12th, 1828.

My dear Madam,
It seems very long since I have had the pleasure of any communication with you; but this privation has been my own fault, or rather my misfortune; for a good deal of illness during the winter compelled me to give up all other occupation, for that particularly uninteresting one taking care of myself, or rather allowing others to take care of me. I know not how it is, but I always feel so ashamed of the apparent egotism and selfishness attendant on indisposition the muffling one's self up, taking the warmest place, shrinking from the mirthful noises of those who are full of health, &c. &c.--that I believe I am apt to fall into the contrary extreme, and so, in the end, to occasion ten times more trouble than I should have done with a little proper submission. But a truce with the remembrances of indisposition, now that the spring is really come forth with all her singing-birds and violets: it seems as if sadness had no right to a place amongst the bright and fair things of the season.

I am now expecting very soon to hear from my American friends, in reply to the packet which contained your dispatches for them, and will not fail to write as soon as I receive any communication from Professor Norton for you. Dr. Channing has lately published a very noble essay on the character of Napoleon, occasioned by Sir Walter Scott's Life of that dazzling, but most unheroic personage. I wish you may meet with it; I am sure that the lofty thoughts embodied by its writer, in his own fervid eloquence, could not fail to delight you; and his high views of moral beauty are really freshening to the heart, which longs to pour itself forth in love and admiration, and finds so little in the every-day world whereon such feelings may repose.

The little volume, 'Records of Woman,' which you kindly gave me permission to inscribe to you, is now in the press, and I hope I shall soon be able to send you a copy; and that the dedication, which is in the simplest form, will be honoured by your approval. Mr. Blackwood is its publisher. I do not know whether you may have heard of the interest which Sir Walter Scott has latterly most kindly taken in some music of my sister's composition, accompanying words of mine. One song in particular, 'The Captive Knight,' struck him as being 'si chevaleresque,' to use his own word on the occasion, that he has been quite bent on its publication, and it will in consequence be brought out and dedicated to him. I think you may, perhaps, like to see the poetry of it, which I inclose for you. I am to lose this, my only sister,--indeed I may almost say, my only companion, very shortly: she is about to change her name and home, and remove very far from me. O how many deaths there are in the world for the affections! . . . .

.-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. 1, pp. 148-151

Saturday, July 19, 2008

en permanence

Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham

Monday [summer of 1861].

My Dear Allingham,
I am sending you by book post with this a sewed copy of my book. I have only just got a few, and do not offer it you en permanence in this state, as I am going to make an etching, or perhaps two, for it, and there is another index to come at the end, but had 6 copies sent me now to use in getting a publisher, etc. My first offer of it will be to Macmillan, with whom I have had some talk.

What I want chiefly to get rid of is the printer's bill, but I am led to think by some friends that I ought to expect something in money also. What think you? Will you tell me, and say all you have time to say in the way of criticism? Cancels are still possible. There are 5 cancel leaves already in the book (chiefly on score of decorum!), which you will notice by their being in the rough as yet.

My wife progresses well, I am glad to tell you. With her love to you, I am, yours affectionately,
D. G. R.


[Notes: "My Book " was The Early Italian Poets, now called Dante and his Circle. No etchings were included in it, though one was made, now in Mr. Fairfax Murray's collection. Macmillan did not publish the work, but Smith and Elder. For the ''something in money" which his friends led him to think he ought to expect he had to wait eight years. By 1869, about six hundred copies having been sold, he received, Mr. W. M. Rossetti says, "a minute dole of less than nine pounds."]


-from Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham, 1854-1870 by George Birkbeck Hill (London: T.F. Unwin, 1897). p. 260-61.

Friday, July 18, 2008

as the circle spreads

Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham

Paris, Wednesday, [June 1860].
My Dear Allingham,
Have you heard yet that I'm married? * The news is hardly a month old, so it may not have reached you, though I have meant to write you word of it all along, as you are one of the few valued friends whom Lizzie and I have in common as yet; nor, as the circle spreads, will she be likely to feel a warmer regard for any than she does for you.

Of her health all I can say is that it is possible to give rather better news of it than I could have given a month ago. Paris seems to agree so well with her that I am fearful of returning to London (which, however, we must do in a day or two) lest it should throw her back into the terrible state of illness she had been in for some time before. But in that case I shall make up my mind to settle in Paris for a time, as I could no doubt paint here well enough. In any case I expect a move, as winter comes on, will be necessary.

You know I have been meaning to inflict my vol. of MS. rhymes on you for some time, but have been so busy lately and wanted to copy a little more first. I shall try and send them yet. When shall we be likely to see you again in London? Jones is married, too, only a week ago. He and his wife (a charming and most gifted little woman) were to have met us in Paris, but he has not been well enough to travel with pleasure. With love from both of us I remain.
Your affectionate
D. G. ROSSETTI.

* Rossetti and Lizzie Siddal were married in Hastings, May 23, 1860.

-from Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham, 1854-1870 by George Birkbeck Hill (London: T.F. Unwin, 1897). p. 223-24.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

joining the party

Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham

Sunday, July, 1855.

Dear Allingham,
How beastly of them Customs' ogs! I and every one had been on the look out for you. I wish I could come to the lakes with you, but it's quite out of the question just now, though nothing would delight me more. I think it seems possible I may be going on the Continent this autumn. Miss S. is going--to Florence possibly, and a lady, a cousin of mine, is to be with her most likely, so this might render my joining the party possible. She will in any case settle abroad for some time, in a climate less changeable than this--France or Italy. The wizard in the case being of course J. R. [John Ruskin] who you know is to have all she does for some time.

Thus, till this move is settled or quashed, i.e., my part in it, I must bide at my work, such as it is. I don't find what I'm about at all amusing, and should have been peculiarly solaced by a sight of you--but it wasn't to be. Let's go on writing to each other instead at any rate.
Your affectionate
D. G. R.

-from Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham, 1854-1870 by George Birkbeck Hill (London: T.F. Unwin, 1897). p. 149.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

some thoroughly fine day

Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham

Blackfriars Bridge, [Postmark, March 22, 1855].

Dear Allingham,
I have been looking at the mangled remains of my drawing again by the light of your friendly letter, but really can only see it, in its present state, as a conceited-looking failure, and as to the execution, it is on a par with woodcut "Executions" in general; only in such cases the "copy of verses" ought to be made to match.

My wish was, and is, to make you a small water-colour, or pen and ink drawing, of the subject, as I should feel pleasure in doing it, and in your having it, in some shape; and that, since we cannot hang the engraver, the drawing, at any rate, should receive no quarter. By the bye, I have written to Dalziel, and though my letter was not indited, at a severe crisis of punning, it seems to have treated the subject in a manner to make him crusty, as he has never answered. . .

. . . Perhaps before this reaches you I shall get from you Ruskin's letter to Miss S., but if you have not posted it before, pray do so at once on receiving this, as I think I may want it. Ruskin's interest* in her continues unabated, and he is most desirous of benefiting her in any way in his power, and of her becoming a frequent visitor at his house. Some thoroughly fine day she and I are to pay him our first visit together.

Now to answer your question about Dr. Polidori. The fact of his suicide does not, unfortunately, admit of a doubt, though the verdict on the inquest was one of natural death; but this was a partly pardonable insincerity, arising from pity for my grandfather's great grief, and from a schoolfellow of my uncles happening to be, strangely enough, on the jury. This death happened in the year '21, and he was only in his 26th year. I believe that, though his poems and tales give an impression only of a cultivated mind, he showed more than common talents both for medicine, and afterwards for law, which pursuit he took to, in a restless mood, alter his return from Italy. The "pecuniary difficulties" were only owing, I believe, to sudden losses and liabilities incurred at the gaming-table, whither, in his last feverish days, he had been drawn by some false friend, though such tastes had always, in a healthy state, been quite foreign to him. I have met accidentally, from time to time, persons who knew him, and he seems always to have excited admiration by his talents, and with those who knew him well affection and respect by his honourable nature; but I have no doubt that vanity was one of his failings, and should think he might have been in some degree of unsound mind. He was my mother's favourite brother, and I feel certain her love for him is a proof that his memory deserves some respect. In Medwin, in Moore, and in Leigh Hunt, and elsewhere, I have seen allusions to him which dwelt on nothing but his faults, and therefore I have filled this sheet on the subject, though, of course, as far as your proposed criticism goes, I am only telling you that the book tells truth in this particular. Write soon, and believe me
Yours affectionately,
D. G. ROSSETTI.
By the bye, I am delighted at your appreciation of Scott. I shrewdly suspect that the last time I heard you talk of him there "was nothing in him." [Allingham grates a little.] I think myself that Maryanne, with all its faults, is better worth writing than The Angel in the House. As exemplified in this poem, as well as in other respects, Scott is a man something of Browning's order, as regards his place among poets, though with less range and even much greater incompleteness, but also, on the other hand, quite without affectation ever to be found among his faults, and I think, too, with a more commonly appreciable sort of melody in his best moments.


* Ruskin, upon seeing the drawings and sketches of Elizabeth Siddal, began to purchase all of them. He later provided her with an annual sum of 150 pounds in exchange for her drawings up to that value.


-from Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham, 1854-1870 by George Birkbeck Hill (London: T.F. Unwin, 1897). p. 113-17.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the circumstances

John Ruskin to Coventry Patmore

Oxford, 18th Nov. [1854.]
Dear Patmore,
I only got your note yesterday afternoon, owing to my absence from London for the moment. What you tell and show me of the notices of the Angel is only consistent with what I have long observed of press criticism. No thoroughly good thing can be praised or felt at once.

You need be under no apprehension as to the ultimate success of your poem. I don't think you will even need much patience. It has purpose and plain meaning in every line, it is fit for its age--and for all ages, and it will get its place. Its only retarding element is the strong resemblance to the handling of Tennyson, but this will not tell against it ultimately any more than Bonifazio's resemblance to Titian ought to make us cast Bonifazio out of our galleries.

The circumstances of my own life unhappily render it impossible for me to venture to write a critique on it for any publication but whatever my private influence can do shall be done.
Believe me, with regards to Mrs. Patmore,
Faithfully and respectfully yours,
J. Ruskin.


[link to: Effie Gray, Mrs. Ruskin.]
[Picture of John Ruskin above right, by John Everett Millais]


-from Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore By Basil Champneys (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900) p. 278-279.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ruskin asked

Coventry Patmore to William Allingham

British Museum, Nov. 6, '54.

My Dear Allingham,
I do not want you to withhold, in noticing my vol. anything a stranger (a judge of poetry) acquainted with my former doings, would infer from the volume itself. Thanks for the paragraph in " The Critic," which I had not seen. A copy was sent to the Dublin University, also to Kingsley--but anonymously. Ruskin had one, also anonymously. Rossetti was with him a day or two after he received it: R. asked him if he had seen or knew anything about "a glorious book called "The Angel in the House"! Alfred Tennyson is also emphatic in his prophecies of Immortality for the same performance.

Hannay has written a notice of it in "The Leader," regarding it from the ultra-pagan point of view, from which of course it looks rather dull. But the notice is respectful, which is the most I could have hoped, or even desired from the "Leader."

The "Spectator" has also noticed it, in the beginning pronouncing it to be an imitation of Tennyson, in the middle, of Petrarch, and in the end declaring that it is a mere echo of Cowley; to complete this specimen of "critical acumen" the poem is bracketed with Gerald Massey.
Yours faithfully,
C. Patmore.

-from Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore By Basil Champneys (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900) p. 178-179.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

esses and isms

Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham

Finchley, November, 1854.

My Dear Allingham,
Your last letter has been carried carefully in my pocket all this time, with the view of its being answered, as it ought to have been long ere now. To-night I search my pockets for it at last for that immediate purpose, and of course it has somehow flown. I hope I shall not have forgotten anything that ought to be spoken of in this. One thing I must not forget is to say how very busy and bothered I have been, and to beg that may plead my excuse for delay, not only with the letter, but with the more important wood-block, which is not yet sent in. It would have been so before now, but that staying out here, I am prevented from working on it from nature except by flying visits to London on Sundays, and I am loth to finish it without nature. The delay in this has kept me from writing, as I wanted to say it was done, as I trust it now will be very soon. I shall like, if at all practicable, to do another, but meanwhile Hughes is drawing the last block to prevent disappointment, and my second, if done, must take its chance with the publishers as an additional illustration. I hope, above all, they mean to have the drawings well cut. For my part I should like to tell them that they had better in my own case give the price of the drawing as an extra bonus to the engraver, and that then they must let me see a proof as soon as cut--the thing to be cancelled altogether if not approved of by me. I expect this might partly impress upon them that some care was necessary, and that there was a reputation of some sort in some quarters that I had to take care of.

Do you see any objection to my following this plan ? I feel it both pleasure and credit to be associated at all with your volume, and should not like to cut too sorry a figure there, as it is a book which every one will be sure to see.

I have had a hasty look (such as my leisure lately has left possible) through your MS., much of which is as exquisite as can be or ever has been--pure beauty and delight. The Queen of the Forrest, Hughes tells me, is to be withdrawn, as capable of fuller treatment. I am quite of your mind about it, and chiefly because it is already so peculiarly lovely as to be worthy of any elaboration. The Aeolian Harp in long lines is equal to any of that series, and I should have many things to say of many others, if the MS. were only by me. I must write of them when they are printed, and I hope talk of them too with you by that time. You mention having sent a copy of Day and Night Songs to Ruskin: did you remember that I had already given him one? I trust he and you will meet when next in London. He has been back about a month or so, looking very well and in excellent spirits. Perhaps you know that he has joined Maurice's scheme for a Working Men's College, which has now begun to be put in operation at 31, Red Lion Square. Ruskin has most liberally undertaken a drawing-class, which he attends every Thursday evening, and he and I had a long confab about plans for teaching. He is most enthusiastic about it, and has so infected me that I think of offering an evening weekly for the same purpose, when I am settled in town again.
At present I am hard at work out here on my picture, painting the calf and cart. It has been fine clear weather, though cold, till now, but these two days the rain has set in (for good, I fear), and driven me to my wits' end, as even were I inclined to paint notwithstanding, the calf would be like a hearth-rug after half an hour's rain; but I suppose I must turn out to-morrow and try. A very disagreeable part of the business is that I am being obliged to a farmer whom I cannot pay for his trouble in providing calf and all, as he insists on being good natured. As for the calf, he kicks and fights all the time he remains tied up, which is 5 or 6 hours daily, and the view of life induced at his early age by experience in art appears to be so melancholy that he punctually attempts suicide by hanging himself at 3 1/2 daily p.m. At these times I have to cut him down, and then shake him up and lick him like blazes. There is a pleasure in it, my dear fellow: the Smithfield drovers are a kind of opium-eaters at it, but a moderate practitioner might perhaps sustain an argument. I hope soon to be back at my rooms, as I have been quite long enough at my rhumes. (The above joke did service for MacCrac's benefit last night.)

Before I came here I had been painting ever so long on a brick wall at Chiswick which is in my foreground. By the bye, that boating sketch of yours is really good in its way, and would bear showing' to Ruskin as an original Turner--and perhaps selling to Windus afterwards.

Many thanks for your minute criticism on my ballad, which was just of the kind I wanted. Not, of course, that a British poet is going to knock under on all points;--accordingly, I take care to disagree from you in various respects--as regards abruptnesses, improbabilities, prosaicisms, coarsenesses, and other esses and isms, not more prominent, I think, in my production than in its models. As to dialect there is much to be said, but I doubt much whether, as you say, mine is more Scotticised than many or even the majority of genuine old ballads. If the letter and poem were here, I might perhaps bore you with counter-analysis. But in very many respects I shall benefit greatly by your criticisms, if ever I think the ballad worth working on again, without which it would certainly not be worth printing.

I have read Patmore's poem which he sent me, and about which I might say a good deal of all kinds, if I felt up to it to-night; but I don't. He was going to publish (and had actually printed the title) with the pseudonym of C. K. Dighton; but was induced at the last moment to cancel the title, as well as a marvellous note at the end, accounting for some part of the poem being taken out of his former book by some story of a butterman and a piece of waste paper, or something of that sort! (I see my description is as lucid as the note.)

Did you see a paragraph in the Illus. Lond. News headed Americans at Florence, and giving a longish account of a backwoods poem called The New Pastoral, to be immediately published by Read? Have you seen anything of W. B. Scott's volume? I may be able to send it you sooner or later, if you like. The title-page has a vignette with the words Poems by a Painter printed very gothically indeed. A copy being sent to old Carlyle, he did not read any of the poems, but read the title "Poems by a Printer." He wrote off at once to the imaginary printer to tell him to stick to his types and give up his metaphors. Woolner saw the book lying at Carlyle's, heard the story, and told him of his mistake, at which he had the decency to seem a little annoyed, as he knows Scott, and esteems him and his family. Now that we are allied with Turkey, we might think seriously of the bastinado for that old man. on such occasions as the above.

This is the last of Brown's note-paper (I am staying with him here), so I must leave some other thing till next time, especially as it is fearfully late. Miss Siddal is moderately well and making designs, etc.
Yours affectionately,
D. G. ROSSETTI.

P.S.--Hughes asked me for Millais' address from [? for] you. The surest way I know of reaching him is to address to him at M. Halliday. Esq., 3. Robert St., Adelphi.
-from Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham, 1854-1870 by George Birkbeck Hill (London: T.F. Unwin, 1897). p. 81-86.

Friday, July 11, 2008

as many I's as Argus

Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham

Sept. 19 [1854].

Dear Allingham,
I've just got your letter this morning. About the woodcut, I fancy the poem and extracts you send to-day are hardly so much in my "line" for illustration as the two others you sent before. The Maids of Elfin Mere will be the one, I dare say, after all. This chiefly because the Nursery Rhyme on which S. M.'s Eve [Saint Margaret's Eve] is founded is included and illustrated in Child's Play by the Hon. Mrs. Boyle, and is there very well done.

I made a sketch for the Maids the first day you sent it--i.e., for the arrangement, and think it would come nice. At any rate of that or of one of the others I hope you will soon hear that a block is drawn, and Hughes has sent me one.

Hughes was here the other evening, and showed me several sketches and wood-blocks he has drawn,--all of them excellent in many ways; but the blocks I think, especially the one of the man and girl at a stile, rather wanting in force for the engraver. He agreed with me, and I believe will do something to amend this. He has made a few very nice little sketches for cuts in the text, if such should prove admissible. One or two for the Fairies are remarkably original. I should really, I believe, have got mine in hand before this, but various troublesome anxieties have interfered with that and other work, among the rest with my duty to the Folio, which is still by me. I shan't put in my modern design, and must finish one of two or three I have going on, instead. I am doing one, which I think will be the one, of Hamlet and Ophelia, so treated as I think to embody and symbolise the play without obtrusiveness or interference with the subject as a subject.

By the bye Hughes showed me a little poem about What it is they say and do, which I think, if treated carefully, would illustrate very well. It was one of my favorites in your old vol.--but I think on reflexion (sic) would not illustrate except in the text. Are you not going to include the Young Man and Death (if that is the title) one of your very best? There is among those translations of mine a longish dialogue with Death by Guido Cavalcant which always reminds me of that poem--i.e. the original.

I've been very unwell this morning, but have taken some physic and am much better. This must account for the flatness of my writing, for it is flat. I fear you must get the Athenaeum rather late. When I began to have it sent on to you, I found, what I knew not, that they were in the habit of sending it to an uncle of mine at Gloucester. I gave you the priority, but it seems he "appealed" (though he does not care a dump about it), and we thought it better not to hurt his feelings. This will account if it reaches you now later than at first. I'll mention to them at Albany St. about the label. No doubt you saw the review of Hannay's excellent book on Satire; it will put him on a first-rate footing with that fool Dixon, and be of use no doubt. The book has proved a hit. I think, if you liked, I could send you it to read--a copy (i.e.) belonging to the Spectator. Hannay has also brought out a little book with Routledge called Sand and Shells and is writing a novel called Hilton of the Lotus, to be published in the Home Circle, and which pays very well. He has just come back to settle in London, and I spent last Wednesday evening with him. William has been back in London a day or two, after walking through a great part of Devon and Cornwall with Paul, and enjoying it vastly. I do not know whether he has yet left again en route for Belgium, where he is to end his holidays.

I wanted to send you a letter Stephens had from Hunt, but it seems there is some mystic matter in it, so he has copied what I enclose for you. It is the latest news, I believe. The Chief of Zanquebar is a lark, but I confess I begrudge him that whole sheet of note paper. The Times on Massey is loathsome indeed. Really some one ought to write to them about that prig from Poe, which has roused Hannay's bile. I've been reading a Spectator copy of Firmilian in its complete state--on second thoughts I'll post it now for you instead of describing it. Please return it soon. I've also read some of the Stones of Venice having received all Ruskin's books from him, really a splendid present, including even the huge plates of Venetian architecture. I've heard again from him at Chamounix. I've been greatly interested in Wuthering Heights, the first novel I've read for an age and the best (as regards power and sound style) for two ages, except Sidonia. But it is a fiend of a book--an incredible monster, combining all the stronger female tendencies from Mrs. Browning to Mrs. Brownrigg. The action is laid in hell,--only it seems places and people have English names there. Did you ever read it?

I think you're quite right about leaving out a few of my translations from the volume, and should like to know which you think. I had thought so myself, but shall copy out all I have done before determining. I am very glad you like them so much, and will send more when copied.

My plan as to their form is, I think, a preface for the first part, containing those previous to Dante, and a connecting essay (but not bulky) for the second part, containing Dante and his contemporaries, as many of them are in the form of correspondence, etc., very interesting, and require some annotation. I think you have few or none of this class. I shall include the Vita Nuova I am almost sure, and then the vol. will be a thick one. I think, if it were possible to bring some or all out first, as you say, in a good magazine, the plan might be a very good one. Indeed, anything that paid would be very useful just now, as I do not forget my debts. I've a longish story more than half done, which might likely be even more marketable in this way. It is not so intensely metaphysical as that in the Germ. If I possibly can manage to copy what I've done of it, I'd like to send it you. By the bye, in my last long letter (a long letter, Allingham) I put two sonnets which I'm afraid you didn't like. Pray tell me, too, about the alteration I there proposed in the last lines of one, which you objected to.

I fear this letter has as many I's as Argus : argal it is snobbish.
Tenez vous bien for the present and good bye.
Yours sincerely,
D. G. Rossetti.


-from Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham, 1854-1870 by George Birkbeck Hill (London: T.F. Unwin, 1897). p. 54-59.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

to pass for the present

Coventry Patmore to William Allingham

British Museum,
Oct., 1854.

Mv Dear Allingham,
You will receive in a day or two a copy of a poem by "C. K. Dighton" under which name I wish, if possible, to pass for the present--chiefly because the weight of "The Times" attack on my father's book* has fallen on me--even "Punch" abusing me by my full name on account of it. Only two or three of the P. R. B. coterie are in the secret.
Can't you do the notice in the "Critic"? You will find the poem much altered and I hope much improved by the omission of the "Epigrams" as a regular "department."
Yours faithfully,
C. K. Patmore.

* My friends and acquaintance: being memorials, mind-portraits, and personal recollections of deceased celebrities of the nineteenth century: with selections from their unpublished letters by P.[eter] G.[eorge] Patmore, {1786-1855} -Three Volumes- (London: Saunders and Otley,1854) which was reviewed disparagingly in the Times August 19, 1854.

-from Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore By Basil Champneys (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900) p. 178.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

triangles and circles

Coventry Patmore to William Allingham

8, Grove, January 6, 1851.

Dear Allingham,
Mr. and Mrs. Tennyson have not yet fixed upon a house; but I believe they are thinking of settling near Croydon. I have not seen Mr. Clough since you were in town; nor am I likely to see him, my family triangle constituting my entire circle of society just now (pardon such a silly joke which I did not perceive till it was done).

Your friends the P. R. B.'s are to make a great show in the Exhibition next year. I believe Mr. Woolner is not at present talking of going to America. Mr. Tennyson has taken a great liking to him and has had him to stay with him and Mrs. Tennyson: this, among other things, seems to have put our excellent friend into a good humour with England.
Believe me very truly yours,
Coventry K. Patmore.
[Image above right from The Victorian Web, image scanned by George P. Landow.]


-from Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore By Basil Champneys (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900) p. 175.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

tho' as yet obscure

Coventry Patmore to William Allingham

Museum, Jan. 5, 1850.

My Dear Allingham,
A few artists--young and for the most part illustrious tho' as yet obscure (Hunt, Millais, G. Rossetti, &c), have set a-going a small magazine upon a sound system. first No. has appeared, and is full of good poetry and noticeable criticism, and has an exquisite etching by Hunt. I think you would like to form one of the corporation subscribing (one shilling per month) and contributing (gratis). The title is "The Germ." I will send you a number to judge of. The little poem called "The Seasons" is mine. How gets on the "Music Master"?
Yours ever,
C. K. Patmore.

-from Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore By Basil Champneys (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900) p. 170-71.

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.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

it is always summer

Lafcadio Hearn to Sentaro Nishida

Tokyo, 1897

Dear Nishida,
This morning (the 17th) Mr Takahashi came with your letter of introduction. He is a charming gentleman, and I felt unhappy at not being able to talk Japanese to him. He brought a most beautiful present a tea-set of a sort I had never even seen before,--"crackled" porcelain inside to the eye, and outside a chocolate-coloured clay etched with pretty designs of houses and groves and lakes with boats upon them. The cups were a great surprise and delight--especially as they were made in Matsue. Mr. Takahashi gave me better news of you than your last letter brought me: he thought you were getting stronger, so I have hopes of pleasant chats with you. He told us many things about Matsue. He is a very correct, courteous gentleman; and I felt quite clumsy, as I always do when I meet a real gentleman of the Japanese school. I think I should like any of your friends. Mr. Takahashi had something about him which brought back to me the happy feeling.of my pleasant time in Izumo.
I don't feel to-day, though, like I used to feel in Izumo. I have become very grey, and much queerer looking; and as I never make any visits or acquaintances outside of my quiet little neighbourhood, I have become also rather henjin. But I have written half a new book. I am not able to say now what it will be like: for the things I most wish to put into it--stories of real life have not yet been written. I have finished only the philosophical chapters. One subject is "Nirvana," and another the study of matter in itself as unreality, or at least as a temporary apparition only. Then I have taken up the defence of Japanese methods of drawing, under the title of "Faces in the Old Picture-Books." My public, however, is not all composed of thinkers; and I have to please the majority by telling them stories sometimes. After all, every public more or less resembles a school-class. They say, just like my students always used to say when they felt very tired or sleepy, hot days,--"Teacher, we are tired: please tell us some extraordinary story."
I can't just now remember when--at Matsue--a man came into the classroom to watch my teaching. He came from some little island. I have quite forgotten the name. He looked a little like Mr. Takahashi;--but there was something different in his face,--a little sad, perhaps. When the class was over he came to me and said something very good and kind, and pressed my hand and went away to his island. It is a queer thing that experiences of this kind are often among the most vivid of one's life--though they are so short. I have often dreamed of that man. Often and often. And the dream is always the same. He is the director of a beautiful little school in a very large garden, surrounded by high white walls. I go into that garden by an iron gate. It is always summer. I teach for that man; and everything is gentle and earnest and pleasant and beautiful, just as it used to be in Matsue,--and he always repeats the nice things he said long ago. If I can ever find that school, with the white walls and the iron gate,--I shall want to teach there, even if the salary be only the nice things said at the end of the class. But I fear the school is made of mist, and that teacher and pupils are only ghosts. Or perhaps it is in Horai.

Ever with best regards from all of us, faithfully,
Lafcadio Hearn.
-from The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn by Elizabeth Bisland in 2 volumes (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906) volume 2, p. 330-32.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Mr. Yakumo Koizumi

Lafcadio Hearn (Y. Koizumi) to Sentaro Nishida

Kobe, April, 1896.

Dear Nishida, - It made me happy to get your letter, and to hear from you that you think I am beginning to understand the Japanese a little better. My other books have had success in Europe as well as America;--the leading French review (Revue des Deux Mondes) had a long article about me; and the Spectator, the Athenaeum, the Times and other English journals have been kind. Still, I am not foolish enough to take the praise for praise of fact,--feeling my own ignorance more and more every day, and being more pleased with the approval of a Japanese friend than with the verdict of a foreign reviewer, who, necessarily, knows nothing to speak of about Japan. But one thing is encouraging,--namely, that whatever I write about Japan hereafter will be widely read in Europe and elsewhere,--so that I may be able to do good. My first book is being translated into German.

I got a beautiful letter from Mr. Senke the other day, to which he has, I trust, by this time the answer,--in which I told him that I hope to see Matsue and Kizuki again in about another month. Setsu, mother, and the boy come with me. Kazuo is now much better--except morally;--he is more mischievous than ever. I want him to have as much of the sea this summer as he can bear. And I want to swim at Kizuki and Mionoseki, and to talk to you all I can--without tiring you.

I have been away. I have been at Ise, Futami, and nearly a week in Osaka. Ise disappointed me a little. The scenery is superb; but I like Kizuki better. At Ise there is so much money, - - such enormous hotels,--such modernization: the place did not feel holy to me, as Kizuki did. Even the miko won't show their faces for less than five yen. Besides, it was bitterly cold, and hurt my lungs. I came back sick. Osaka delighted me beyond words. Excepting Kyoto, it is certainly the most interesting city on this side of Japan. And I could never tell you how Tennoji delighted me--what a queer, dear old temple. I went to Sakai, of course,--and bought a sword, and saw the grave of the eleven samurai of Tosa who had to commit seppuku for killing some foreigners,--and told them I wished they could come back again to kill a few more who are writing extraordinary lies about Japan at this present moment. I would rather live a month in Osaka than ten years free of rent in Tokyo.

Speaking of Tokyo reminds me to tell you that my engagement with the university is not yet assured. Day before yesterday I had a letter from Professor Toyama that my becoming a Japanese citizen had raised a difficulty "which," he wrote, "we must manage to get over somehow." I wrote him that I was not worried about the matter, and had never allowed myself to consider it very seriously,--hinting also that I would not accept any low salary. What he will next write I don't know, and don't very much care. If Matsue were a little warmer in winter I should rather be teaching there. Indeed I think that even after a few years in Tokyo, I should be asking to get back to Matsue; and in any event I hope to make a home there. If I can get such a yashiki as I had--mean buy one for my own home--Matsue would be a very happy place to work and study in. Besides, if my health keeps fair, I can hope eventually to be able to travel in the coldest winter months, and then the Matsue climate would make no difference for me. In summer it is delicious. Even Setsu now thinks it better to live in the interior; and I shall be glad to escape from the open ports. I have seen enough of the foreigners here, and like them less than ever.

I should certainly like Mr. Asai very much, from your charming account of him; and, at any rate, I expect to see both you and him within forty days from this writing. If you think he would like a copy of 'Kokoro' it will make me very happy to send him one. As he has studied philosophy, however, I don't know what he will think of the chapters on the Idea of Pre-existence and the Worship of Ancestors. You know the school of thought that I follow is bitterly opposed; and I believe it is not honestly taught in any English establishment. In one or two American universities it is partly taught; but only the French have given it really fair attention abroad.
Lafcadio Hearn (Y. Koizumi).

P. S. It made me feel queer to be addressed by Prof. Toyama as "Mr. Yakumo Koizumi"!
-from The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn by Elizabeth Bisland in 2 volumes (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906) volume 2, p. 297-99.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

forced by necessity

Lafcadio Hearn to Ellwood Hendrick

Kobe, Autumn, 1895.

Dear Hendrick, . . . It has often occurred to me to ask whether you think other men feel as I do about some things--you yourself, for example. Work with me is a pain--no pleasure till it is done. It is not voluntary; it is not agreeable. It is forced by necessity. The necessity is a curious one. The mind, in my case, eats itself when unemployed. Reading, you might suggest, would employ it. No: my thoughts wander, and the gnawing goes on just the same. What kind of gnawing? Vexation and anger and imaginings and recollections of unpleasant things said or done. Unless somebody does or says something horribly mean to me, I can't do certain kinds of work,--the tiresome kinds, that compel a great deal of thinking. The exact force of a hurt I can measure at the time of receiving it: "This will be over in six months;' 'This I shall have to fight for two years;' "This will be remembered longer." When I begin to think about the matter afterwards, then I rush to work. I write page after page of vagaries, metaphysical, emotional, romantic,--throw them aside. Then next day, I go to work rewriting them. I rewrite and rewrite them till they begin to define and arrange themselves into a whole,--and the result is an essay; and the editor of the Atlantic writes, "It is a veritable illumination," and no mortal man knows why, or how it was written,--not even I myself,--or what it cost to write it. Pain is therefore to me of exceeding value betimes; and everybody who does me a wrong indirectly does me a right. I wonder if anybody else works on this plan. The benefit of it is that a habit is forming,--a habit of studying and thinking in a way I should otherwise have been too lazy-minded to do. But whenever I begin to forget one burn, new caustic from some unexpected quarter is poured into my brain: then the new pain forces other work. It strikes me as being possibly a peculiar morbid condition. If it is, I trust that some day the power will come to do something really extraordinary--I mean very unique. What is the good of having a morbid sensitive spot, if it cannot be utilized to some purpose worth achieving? . . .

Ever affectionately,
Lafcadio Hearn


-from The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn by Elizabeth Bisland in 2 volumes (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906) volume 2, p. 271-73.