Letters of Edward FitzGerald in Two Volumes - Vol. II
by Edward FitzGerald
1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcribed from the 1901 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email





All rights reserved

First Edition 1894. Reprinted 1901

{The "Little Grange," Woodbridge: p0.jpg}


To E. B. Cowell.

88 GT. PORTLAND ST., LONDON, Jan. 13/59.


I have been here some five weeks: but before my Letter reaches you shall probably have slid back into the Country somewhere. This is my old Lodging, but new numbered. I have been almost alone here: having seen even Spedding and Donne but two or three times. They are well and go on as before. Spedding has got out the seventh volume of Bacon, I believe: with Capital Prefaces to Henry VII., etc. But I have not yet seen it. After vol. viii. (I think) there is to be a Pause: till Spedding has set the Letters to his Mind. Then we shall see what he can make of his Blackamoor. . . .

I am almost ashamed to write to you, so much have I forsaken Persian, and even all good Books of late. There is no one now to 'prick the Sides of my Intent'; Vaulting Ambition having long failed to do so! I took my Omar from Fraser [? Parker], as I saw he didn't care for it; and also I want to enlarge it to near as much again, of such Matter as he would not dare to put in Fraser. If I print it, I shall do the impudence of quoting your Account of Omar, and your Apology for his Freethinking: it is not wholly my Apology, but you introduced him to me, and your excuse extends to that which you have not ventured to quote, and I do. I like your Apology extremely also, allowing its Point of View. I doubt you will repent of ever having showed me the Book. I should like well to have the Lithograph Copy of Omar which you tell of in your Note. My Translation has its merit: but it misses a main one in Omar, which I will leave you to find out. The Latin Versions, if they were corrected into decent Latin, would be very much better. . . . I have forgotten to write out for you a little Quatrain which Binning found written in Persepolis; the Persian Tourists having the same propensity as English to write their Names and Sentiments on their national Monuments. {2}

* * * * *

In the early part of 1859 his friend William Browne was terribly injured by his horse falling upon him and lingered in great agony for several weeks.

To W. B. Donne.

GOLDINGTON, BEDFORD. March 26 [1859].


Your folks told you on what Errand I left your house so abruptly. I was not allowed to see W. B. the day I came: nor yesterday till 3 p.m.; when, poor fellow, he tried to write a line to me, like a child's! and I went, and saw, no longer the gay Lad, nor the healthy Man, I had known: but a wreck of all that: a Face like Charles I. (after decapitation almost) above the Clothes: and the poor shattered Body underneath lying as it had lain eight weeks; such a case as the Doctor says he had never known. Instead of the light utterance of other days too, came the slow painful syllables in a far lower Key: and when the old familiar words, 'Old Fellow—Fitz'—etc., came forth, so spoken, I broke down too in spite of foregone Resolution.

They thought he'd die last Night: but this Morning he is a little better: but no hope. He has spoken of me in the Night, and (if he wishes) I shall go again, provided his Wife and Doctor approve. But it agitates him: and Tears he could not wipe away came to his Eyes. The poor Wife bears up wonderfully.

To E. B. Cowell.



Above is the Address you had better direct to in future. I have had a great Loss. W. Browne was fallen upon and half crushed by his horse near three months ago: and though the Doctors kept giving hopes while he lay patiently for two months in a condition no one else could have borne for a Fortnight, at last they could do no more, nor Nature neither: and he sunk. I went to see him before he died—the comely spirited Boy I had known first seven and twenty years ago lying all shattered and Death in his Face and Voice. . . .

Well, this is so: and there is no more to be said about it. It is one of the things that reconcile me to my own stupid Decline of Life—to the crazy state of the world—Well—no more about it.

I sent you poor old Omar who has his kind of Consolation for all these Things. I doubt you will regret you ever introduced him to me. And yet you would have me print the original, with many worse things than I have translated. The Bird Epic might be finished at once: but 'cui bono?' No one cares for such things: and there are doubtless so many better things to care about. I hardly know why I print any of these things, which nobody buys; and I scarce now see the few I give them to. But when one has done one's best, and is sure that that best is better than so many will take pains to do, though far from the best that might be done, one likes to make an end of the matter by Print. I suppose very few People have ever taken such Pains in Translation as I have: though certainly not to be literal. But at all Cost, a Thing must live: with a transfusion of one's own worse Life if one can't retain the Original's better. Better a live Sparrow than a stuffed Eagle. I shall be very well pleased to see the new MS. of Omar. I shall one day (if I live) print the 'Birds,' and a strange experiment on old Calderon's two great Plays; and then shut up Shop in the Poetic Line. Adieu: Give my love to the Lady: and believe me yours very truly E. F. G.

You see where those Persepolitan Verses {5} come from. I wonder you were not startled with the metre, though maimed a bit.

To T. Carlyle.



Very soon after I called and saw Mrs. Carlyle I got a violent cold, which (being neglected) flew to my Ears, and settled into such a Deafness I couldn't hear the Postman knock nor the Omnibus roll. When I began (after more than a Month) to begin recovering of this (though still so deaf as to determine not to be a Bore to any one else) I heard from Bedford that my poor W. Browne (who got you a Horse some fifteen years ago) had been fallen on and crushed all through the middle Body by one of his own: and I then kept expecting every Postman's knock was to announce his Death. He kept on however in a shattered Condition which the Doctors told me scarce any one else would have borne a Week; kept on for near two Months, and then gave up his honest Ghost. I went to bid him Farewell: and then came here (an Address you remember), only going to Lowestoft (on the Sea) to entertain my old George Crabbe's two Daughters, who, now living inland, are glad of a sight of the old German Sea, and also perhaps of poor Me. I return to Lowestoft (for a few days only) to-morrow, and shall perhaps see the Steam of your Ship passing the Shore. I have always been wanting to sail to Scotland: but my old Fellow- traveller is gone! His Accident was the more vexatious as quite unnecessary—so to say—returning quietly from Hunting. But there's no use talking of it. Your Destinies and Silences have settled it.

I really had wished to go and see Mrs. Carlyle again: I won't say you, because I don't think in your heart you care to be disturbed; and I am glad to believe that, with all your Pains, you are better than any of us, I do think. You don't care what one thinks of your Books: you know I love so many: I don't care so much for Frederick so far as he's gone: I suppose you don't neither. I was thinking of you the other Day reading in Aubrey's Wiltshire how he heard Cromwell one Day at Dinner (I think) at Hampton Court say that Devonshire showed the best Farming of any Part of England he had been in. Did you know all the Dawson Turner Letters?

I see Spedding directs your Letter: which is nearly all I see of his MS.: though he would let me see enough of it if there were a good Turn to be done.

Please to give my best Remembrances to Mrs. Carlyle, and believe me yours sincerely,


To Mrs. Charles Allen.

LOWESTOFT, October 16/59.


In passing through London a week ago I found a very kind letter from you directed to my London Lodging. This will explain why it has not been sooner answered. As I do not know your Address, I take the Opportunity of enclosing my Reply to John Allen, of whom I have not heard since May.

I have been in these Suffolk and Norfolk Parts ever since I left London in March to see my poor Lad die in Bedford. The Lad I first met in the Tenby Lodging house twenty-seven years ago—not sixteen then—and now broken to pieces and scarce conscious, after two months such suffering as the Doctor told me scarce any one would have borne for a Fortnight. They never told him it was all over with him until [within] ten Days of Death: though every one else seem'd to know it must be so—and he did not wish to die yet.

I won't write more of a Matter that you can have but little Interest in, and that I am as well not thinking about. I came here partly to see his Widow, and so (as I hope) to avoid having to go to Bedford for the Present. She, though a wretchedly sickly woman, and within two months of her confinement when he died, has somehow weathered it all beyond Expectation. She has her children to attend to, and be her comfort in turn: and though having lost what most she loved yet has something to love still, and to be beloved by. There are worse Conditions than that.

I am not going to be long here: but hope to winter somewhere in Suffolk (London very distasteful now)—But here again:—my good Hostess with whom I have lodged in Suffolk is dead too: and I must wait till that Household settles down a little.

If it ever gives you pleasure to write to me, it gives me real Pleasure to hear of you: and I am sincerely grateful for your kind Remembrance of me.

'Geldestone Hall—Beccles' or 'Farlingay Hall, Woodbridge,' are pretty sure Addresses. Please to remember me kindly to your Husband and believe me

Yours very sincerely,


BATH HOUSE, LOWESTOFT. October 26 [1859].


I must thank you for your so kind Letter, and kind Invitation. But if I was but five Days with my old College Friend after twelve years' Promise, and then didn't go just on to Teignmouth to see my Sister, and her Family, I must not talk of going elsewhere—even to Prees—where John is always good enough to be asking me: even in a Letter To day received.

By the way, Last Saturday at Norwich while I was gazing into a Shop, a Woman's Voice said, 'How d' ye do, Mr. FitzGerald?' I looked up: a young Woman too, whom (of course) I didn't know. 'You don't remember me, Andalusia Allen that was!' Now Mrs. Day. I had not seen her since '52, a Girl of, I suppose, twelve, playing some Character in a Family Play. John's Letter too tells me of his son going to College.

But Tenby—I don't remember a pleasanter Place. I can now hear the Band on the Steamer as it left the little Pier for Bristol, the Steamer that brought me and the poor Boy now in his Grave to that Boardinghouse. It was such weather as now howls about this Lodging when one of those poor starved Players was drowned on the Sands, and was carried past our Windows after Dinner: I often remember the dull Trot of Men up the windy Street, and our running to the Window, and the dead Head, hair, and Shoulders hurried past. That was Tragedy, poor Fellow, whatever Parts he had played before.

I think you remember me with Kindness because accidentally associated with your old Freestone in those pleasant Days, that also were among the last of your Sister's Life. Her too I can see, with her China-rose complexion: in the Lilac Gown she wore.

I keep on here from Week to week, partly because no other Place offers: but I almost doubt if I shall be here beyond next week. Not in this Lodging anyhow: which is wretchedly 'rafty' and cold; lets the Rain in when it Rains: and the Dust of the Shore when it drives: as both have been doing by turns all Yesterday and To day. I was cursing all this as I was shivering here by myself last Night: and in the Morning I hear of three Wrecks off the Sands, and indeed meet five shipwreckt Men with a Troop of Sailors as I walk out before Breakfast. Oh Dear!

Please remember me to your 'Gude Man' and believe me yours truly,

E. F. G.

Pray do excuse all this Blotting: my Paper won't dry To day.

To W. H. Thompson.



After a Fortnight's Visit to my Sister's (where I caught Cold which flew at once to my Ears, and there hangs) I returned hither, as the nearest Place to go to, and here shall be till Christmas at all Events. I wish to avoid London this winter: and indeed seem almost to have done with it, except for a Day's Business or Sightseeing every now and then. Often should I like to roam about old Cambridge, and hear St. Mary's Chimes at Midnight—but—but! This Place of course is dull enough: but here's the Old Sea (a dirty Dutch one, to be sure) and Sands, and Sailors, a very fine Race of Men, far superior to those in Regent Street. Also the Dutchmen (an ugly set whom I can't help liking for old Neighbours) come over in their broad Bottoms and take in Water at a Creek along the Shore. But I believe the East winds get very fierce after Christmas, when the Sea has cooled down. You won't come here, to be sure: or I should be very glad to smoke a Cigar, and have a Chat: and would take care to have a Fire in your Bedroom this time: a Negligence I was very sorry for in London.

I read, or was told, they wouldn't let old Alfred's Bust into your Trinity. They are right, I think, to let no one in there (as it should be in Westminster Abbey) till a Hundred Years are past; when, after too much Admiration (perhaps) and then a Reaction of undue Dis-esteem, Men have settled into some steady Opinion on the subject: supposing always that the Hero survives so long, which of itself goes so far to decide the Question. No doubt A. T. will do that.

To W. F. Pollock.



'Me voila ici' still! having weathered it out so long. No bad Place, I assure you, though you who are accustomed to Pall Mall, Clubs, etc., wouldn't like it. Mudie finds one out easily: and the London Library too: and altogether I can't complain of not getting such drowsy Books as I want. Hakluyt lasted a long while: then came Captain Cook, whom I hadn't read since I was a Boy, and whom I was very glad to see again. But he soon evaporates in his large Type Quartos. I can hardly manage Emerson Tennent's Ceylon: a very dry Catalogue Raisonnee of the Place. A little Essay of De Quincey's gave me a better Idea of it (as I suppose) in some twenty or thirty pages. Anyhow, I prefer Lowestoft, considering the Snakes, Sand-leaches, Mosquitos, etc. I suppose Russell's Indian Diary is over-coloured: but I feel sure it's true in the Main: and he has the Art to make one feel in the thick of it; quite enough in the Thick, however. Sir C. Napier came here to try and get the Beachmen to enlist in the Naval Reserve. Not one would go: they won't give up their Independence: and so really half starve here during Winter. Then Spring comes and they go and catch the Herrings which, if left alone, would multiply by Millions by Autumn: and so kill their Golden Goose. They are a strange set of Fellows. I think a Law ought to be made against their Spring Fishing: more important, for their own sakes, than Game Laws.

I laid out half a crown on your Fraser {13}: and liked much of it very much: especially the Beginning about the Advantage the Novelist has over the Play-writer. A little too much always about Miss Austen, whom yet I think quite capital in a Circle I have found quite unendurable to walk in. Thackeray's first Number was famous, I thought: his own little Roundabout Paper so pleasant: but the Second Number, I say, lets the Cockney in already: about Hogarth: Lewes is vulgar: and I don't think one can care much for Thackeray's Novel. He is always talking so of himself, too. I have been very glad to find I could take to a Novel again, in Trollope's Barchester Towers, etc.: not perfect, like Miss Austen: but then so much wider Scope: and perfect enough to make me feel I know the People though caricatured or carelessly drawn. I doubt if you can read my writing here: or whether it will be worth your Pains to do so. If you can, or can not, one Day write me a Line, which I will read. I suppose when the Fields and Hedges begin to grow green I shall move a little further inland to be among them.

To Mrs. Charles Allen.



Your kind Note has reacht me here after a Fortnight's abode at my old Lodgings in London. In London I have not been for more than a year, unless passing through it in September, and have no thought of going up at present. I don't think you were there last Spring, were you? Or perhaps I was gone before you arrived, as I generally used to get off as soon as it began to fill, and the Country to become amiable. Here at last we have the 'May' coming out: there it is on some Thorns before my Windows, and the Tower of Woodbridge Church beyond: and beyond that some low Hills that stretch with Furze and Broom to the Seaside, about ten miles off.

I am of course glad of so good a Report of John Allen. I have long been thinking of writing to him: among other things to give his Wife a Drawing Laurence made of him for me some four and twenty years ago: in full Canonicals—very serious—I think a capital Likeness on the whole, and one that I take pleasure to look at. But I think his Wife and Children have more title to it: and one never can tell what will become of one's Things when one's dead. This same Drawing is now in London (I hope: for, if not, it's lost) and you should see it if you had a mind. For you don't seem to find your way to Frees any more than I do: I should go if there weren't a large Family. Mrs. John is always very kind to me. I do think it is very kind of you too to remember and write to me: at any rate I do answer Letters, which many better Men don't.

Please to remember me to your Husband: and believe me unforgetful of the Good old Days, and of you, and yours,




It is very kind of you to write to me. Ah! how I can fancy the Stillness, and the Colour, of your pretty Tenby!—now eight and twenty years since seen! But I can't summon Resolution to go to it: and daily get worse and worse at moving any where, a common Fate as we grow older.

Your Note came in an Enclosure from your Cousin John, who seems to flourish with Wife and Children. It is Children who keep alive one's Interest in Life: that is to say, if one happens to like one's Children.

I have had to stay with me the two sons of my poor Friend killed last year: he whom I first made Acquaintance with at your very Tenby. As I haven't found Courage to go to their Country, their Mother would have them come here, and I took them to our Seaside; not a beautiful Coast like yours—no Rocks, no Sands, and few Trees—but yet liked because remembered by me as long as I can remember. Anyhow, there are Ships, Boats, and Sailors: and the Boys were well pleased with all that. The place we went to is called Aldborough: spelt Aldeburgh: and is the Birth place of the Poet Crabbe, who also has Daguerrotyped much of the Character of the Place in his Poems. You send me some Lines about the Sea: what if I return you four of his?

Still as I gaze upon the Sea I find Its waves an Image of my restless mind: Here Thought on Thought: there Wave on Wave succeeds, Their Produce—idle Thought and idle Weeds!

Adieu: please to remember me to your Husband: and believe me yours ever very sincerely,


To George Crabbe.



. . . I forgot to tell you I really ran to London three weeks ago: by the morning Express, and was too glad to rush back by the Evening Ditto. I went up for a Business I of course did not accomplish: did not call on, or see, a Friend: couldn't get into the National Gallery: and didn't care a straw for Holman Hunt's Picture. No doubt, there is Thought and Care in it: but what an outcome of several Years and sold for several Thousands! What Man with the Elements of a Great Painter could come out with such a costive Thing after so long waiting! Think of the Acres of Canvas Titian or Reynolds would have covered with grand Outlines and deep Colours in the Time it has taken to niggle this Miniature! The Christ seemed to me only a wayward Boy: the Jews, Jews no doubt: the Temple I dare say very correct in its Detail: but think of even Rembrandt's Woman in Adultery at the National Gallery; a much smaller Picture, but how much vaster in Space and Feeling! Hunt's Picture stifled me with its Littleness. I think Ruskin must see what his System has led to.

I have just got Lady Waterford's 'Babes in the Wood,' which are well enough, pretty in Colour: only, why has she made so bad a Portrait of one of her chief Performers, whose Likeness is so easily got at, the Robin Redbreast? This Lady Waterford was at Gillingham this Summer: and my Sister Eleanor said (as Thackeray had done) she was something almost to worship for unaffected Dignity.

MARKET-HILL, WOODBRIDGE. Whit-Monday [May 20, 1861].


. . . I take pleasure in my new little Boat: and last week went with her to Aldbro'; and she 'behaved' very well both going and returning; though, to be sure, there was not much to try her Temper. I am so glad of this fine Whit-Monday, when so many Holiday-makers will enjoy theirselves, and so many others make a little money by their Enjoyment. Our 'Rifles' are going to march to Grundisburgh, manuring and skrimmaging as they go, and also (as the Captain {18} hopes) recruiting. He is a right good little Fellow, I do believe. It is a shame the Gentry hereabout are so indifferent in the Matter: they subscribe next to nothing: and give absolutely nothing in the way of Entertainment or Attention to the Corps. But we are split up into the pettiest possible Squirarchy, who want to make the utmost of their little territory: cut down all the Trees, level all the old Violet Banks, and stop up all the Footways they can. The old pleasant way from Hasketon to Bredfield is now a Desert. I was walking it yesterday and had the pleasure of breaking down and through some Bushes and Hurdles put to block up a fallen Stile. I thought what your Father would have said of it all. And really it is the sad ugliness of our once pleasant Fields that half drives me to the Water where the Power of the Squirarchy stops!

To E. B. Cowell.



I receive two Books, via Geldestone, from you: Khold-i-barin (including a Lecture of your own) and 'Promises of Christianity': I think directed in your Wife's hand. The Lecture was, I doubt not, very well adapted to its purpose: the other two Publications I must look at by and bye. I can't tell you how indolent I have become about Books: some Travels and Biographies from Mudie are nearly all I read now. Then, I have only been in London some dozen hours these two years past: my last Expedition was this winter for five hours: when I ran home here like a beaten Dog. So I have little to tell you of Friends as of Books. Spedding hammers away at his Bacon (impudently forestalled by H. Dixon's Book). Carlyle is not so up to work as of old (I hear). Indeed, he wrote me he was ill last Summer, and obliged to cut Frederick and be off to Scotland and Idleness: the Doctors warned him of Congestion of Brain: a warning he scorned. But what more likely? The last account I had of Alfred Tennyson from Mrs. A. was a good one. Frederic T. is settled at Jersey. I cannot make up my mind to go to see any of these good, noble men: I only hope they believe I do not forget, or cease to regard them.

My chief Amusement in Life is Boating, on River and Sea. The Country about here is the Cemetery of so many of my oldest Friends: and the petty race of Squires who have succeeded only use the Earth for an Investment: cut down every old Tree: level every Violet Bank: and make the old Country of my Youth hideous to me in my Decline. There are fewer Birds to be heard, as fewer Trees for them to resort to. So I get to the Water: where Friends are not buried nor Pathways stopt up: but all is, as the Poets say, as Creation's Dawn beheld. I am happiest going in my little Boat round the Coast to Aldbro', with some Bottled Porter and some Bread and Cheese, and some good rough Soul who works the Boat and chews his Tobacco in peace. An Aldbro' Sailor talking of my Boat said—'She go like a Wiolin, she do!' What a pretty Conceit, is it not? As the Bow slides over the Strings in a liquid Tune. Another man was talking yesterday of a great Storm: 'and, in a moment, all as calm as a Clock.'

By the bye, Forby reasons that our Suffolk third person singular 'It go, etc.,' is probably right as being the old Icelandic form. Why should the 3rd p. sing. be the only one that varies. And in the auxiliaries May, Shall, Can, etc., there is no change for the 3rd pers. I incline to the Suffolk because of its avoiding a hiss.

To George Crabbe.



Let me know when you come into these Parts, and be sure I shall be glad to entertain you as well as I can if you come while I am here. Nor am I likely to be away further than Aldbro', so far as I see. I do meditate crossing one fine Day to Holland: to see the Hague, Paul Potter, and some Rembrandt at Rotterdam. This, however, is not to be done in my little Boat: but in some Trader from Ipswich. I also talk of a cruise to Edinburgh in one of their Schooners. But both these Excursions I reserve for such hot weather as may make a retreat from the Town agreeable. I make no advances to Farlingay, because (as yet) we have not had any such Heat as to bake the Houses here: and, beside, I am glad to be by the River. It is strange how sad the Country has become to me. I went inland to see Acton's Curiosities before the Auction: and was quite glad to get back to the little Town again. I am quite clear I must live the remainder of my Life in a Town: but a little one, and with a strip of Garden to saunter in. . . .

I go sometimes to see the Rifles drill, and shoot at their Target, and have got John {22} to ask them up to Boulge to practise some day: I must insinuate that he should offer them some Beer when they get there. It is a shame the Squires do nothing in the matter: take no Interest: offer no Encouragement, beyond a Pound or two in Money. And who are those who have most interest at stake in case of Rifles being really wanted? But I am quite assured that this Country is dying, as other Countries die, as Trees die, atop first. The lower Limbs are making all haste to follow. . . .

By the bye, don't let me forget to ask you to bring with you my Persian Dictionary in case you come into these Parts. I read very very little: and get very desultory: but when Winter comes again must take to some dull Study to keep from Suicide, I suppose. The River, the Sea, etc., serve to divert one now.

Adieu. These long Letters prove one's Idleness.

To R. C. Trench. {23a}



Thank you sincerely for the delightful little Journal {23b} which I had from you yesterday, and only wished to be a dozen times as long. The beautiful note at p. 73 speaks of much yet unprinted! It is a pity Mrs. Kemble had not read p. 79. I thought in the Night of 'the subdued Voice of Good Sense' and 'The Eye that invites you to look into it.' I doubt I can read, more or less attentively, most personal Memoirs: but I am equally sure of the superiority of this, in its Shrewdness, Humour, natural Taste, and Good Breeding. One is sorry for the account of Lord Nelson: but one cannot doubt it. It was at the time when he was intoxicated, I suppose, with Glory and Lady Hamilton. What your Mother says of the Dresden Madonna reminds me of what Tennyson once said: that the Attitude of The Child was that of a Man: but perhaps not the less right for all that. As to the Countenance, he said that scarce any Man's Face could look so grave and rapt as a Baby's could at times. He once said of his own Child's, 'He was a whole hour this morning worshipping the Sunshine playing on the Bedpost.' He never writes Letters or Journals: but I hope People will be found to remember some of the things he has said as naturally as your Mother wrote them. {24}

To W. H. Thompson.



I was very glad to hear of you again. You need never take it to Conscience, not answering my Letters, further than that I really do want to hear you are well, and where you are, and what doing, from time to time. I have absolutely nothing to tell about myself, not having moved from this place since I last wrote, unless to our Sea coast at Aldbro', whither I run, or sail, from time to time to idle with the Sailors in their Boats or on their Beach. I love their childish ways: but they too degenerate. As to reading, my Studies have lain chiefly in some back Volumes of the New Monthly Magazine and some French Memoirs. Trench was good enough to send me a little unpublished Journal by his Mother: a very pretty thing indeed. I suppose he did this in return for one or two Papers on Oriental Literature which Cowell had sent me from India, and which I thought might interest Trench. I am very glad to hear old Spedding is really getting his Share of Bacon into Print: I doubt if it will be half as good as the 'Evenings,' where Spedding was in the Passion which is wanted to fill his Sail for any longer Voyage.

I have not seen his Paper on English Hexameters {25} which you tell me of: but I will now contrive to do so. I, however, believe in them: and I think the ever-recurring attempts that way show there is some ground for such belief. To be sure, the Philosopher's Stone, and the Quadrature of the Circle, have had at least as many Followers. . . .

It was finding some Bits of Letters and Poems of old Alfred's that made me wish to restore those I gave you to the number, as marking a by-gone time to me. That they will not so much do to you, who did not happen to save them from the Fire when the Volumes of 1842 were printing. But I would waive that if you found it good or possible to lay them up in Trinity Library in the Closet with Milton's! Otherwise, I would still look at them now and then for the few years I suppose I have to live. . . .

This is a terribly long Letter: but, if it be legible sufficiently, will perhaps do as if I were spinning it in talk under the walls of the Cathedral. I dare not now even talk of going any visits: I can truly say I wish you could drop in here some Summer Day and take a Float with me on our dull River, which does lead to THE SEA some ten miles off. . .

You must think I have become very nautical, by all this: haul away at ropes, swear, dance Hornpipes, etc. But it is not so: I simply sit in Boat or Vessel as in a moving Chair, dispensing a little Grog and Shag to those who do the work.

To E. B. Cowell.



. . . I shall look directly for the passages in Omar and Hafiz which you refer to and clear up, though I scarce ever see the Persian Character now. I suppose you would think it a dangerous thing to edit Omar: else, who so proper? Nay, are you not the only Man to do it? And he certainly is worth good re-editing. I thought him from the first the most remarkable of the Persian Poets: and you keep finding out in him Evidences of logical Fancy which I had not dreamed of. I dare say these logical Riddles are not his best: but they are yet evidences of a Strength of mind which our Persian Friends rarely exhibit, I think. I always said about Cowley, Donne, etc., whom Johnson calls the metaphysical Poets, that their very Quibbles of Fancy showed a power of Logic which could follow Fancy through such remote Analogies. This is the case with Calderon's Conceits also. I doubt I have given but a very one-sided version of Omar: but what I do only comes up as a Bubble to the Surface, and breaks: whereas you, with exact Scholarship, might make a lasting impression of such an Author. So I say of Jelaluddin, whom you need not edit in Persian, perhaps, unless in selections, which would be very good work: but you should certainly translate for us some such selections exactly in the way in which you did that apologue of Azrael. {27} I don't know the value of the Indian Philosophy, etc., which you tell me is a fitter exercise for the Reason: but I am sure that you should give us some of the Persian I now speak of, which you can do all so easily to yourself; yes, as a holiday recreation, you say, to your Indian Studies. As to India being 'your Place,' it may be: but as to your being lost in England, that could not be. You know I do not flatter. . . .

I declare I should like to go to India as well as any where: and I believe it might be the best thing for me to do. But, always slow at getting under way as I have been all my Life, what is to be done with one after fifty! I am sure there is no longer any great pleasure living in this Country, so tost with perpetual Alarms as it is. One Day we are all in Arms about France. To-day we are doubting if To-morrow we may not be at War to the Knife with America! I say still, as I used, we have too much Property, Honour, etc., on our Hands: our outward Limbs go on lengthening while our central Heart beats weaklier: I say, as I used, we should give up something before it is forced from us. The World, I think, may justly resent our being and interfering all over the Globe. Once more I say, would we were a little, peaceful, unambitious, trading, Nation, like—the Dutch! . . .

Adieu, My Dear Cowell; once more, Adieu. I doubt if you can read what I have written. Do not forget my Love to your Wife. I wonder if we are ever to meet again: you would be most disappointed if we were!

To W. H. Thompson.



The MS. came safe to hand yesterday, thank you: and came out of its Envelope like a Ray of Old Times to my Eyes. I wish I had secured more leaves from that old 'Butcher's Book' torn up in old Spedding's Rooms in 1842 when the Press went to work with, I think, the Last of old Alfred's Best. But that, I am told, is only a 'Crotchet.' However, had I taken some more of the Pages that went into the Fire, after serving in part for Pipe-lights, I might have enriched others with that which AT {29} himself would scarce have grudged, jealous as he is of such sort of Curiosity.

I have seen no more of Tannhauser than the Athenaeum showed me; and certainly do not want to see more. One wonders that Men of some Genius (as I suppose these are) should so disguise it in Imitation: but, if they be very young men, this is the natural course, is it not? By and by they may find their own Footing.

As to my own Peccadilloes in Verse, which never pretend to be original, this is the story of Rubaiyat. I had translated them partly for Cowell: young Parker asked me some years ago for something for Fraser, and I gave him the less wicked of these to use if he chose. He kept them for two years without using: and as I saw he did'nt want them I printed some copies with Quaritch; and, keeping some for myself, gave him the rest. Cowell, to whom I sent a Copy, was naturally alarmed at it; he being a very religious Man: nor have I given any other Copy but to George Borrow, to whom I had once lent the Persian, and to old Donne when he was down here the other Day, to whom I was showing a Passage in another Book which brought my old Omar up.

(end of letter lost.)



Thanks for your Letter in the middle of graver occupations. It will give me very great pleasure if you will come here: but not if you only do so out of kindness; I mean, if you have no other call of Business or Pleasure to yourself. For I don't deserve—

You should have sent me some Photograph. I hate them nearly all: but S. Rice {30} was very good. I wonder you don't turn out well: I suppose, too black, is it? It is generally florid people, I think, who fail: yet, strange to say, my Brother Peter has come quite handsome in the Process. . . .

I am all for a little Flattery in Portraits: that is, so far as, I think, the Painter or Sculptor should try at something more agreeable than anything he sees sitting to him: when People look either bored, or smirking: he should give the best possible Aspect which the Features before him might wear, even if the Artist had not seen that Aspect. Especially when he works for Friends or Kinsfolk: for even the plainest face has looked handsome to them at some happy moment, and just such we like to have perpetuated.

Now, I really do feel ashamed when you ask about my Persian Translations, though they are all very well: only very little affairs. I really have not the face to send to Milnes direct: but I send you four Copies which I have found in a Drawer here to do as you will with. This will save Milnes, or any one else, the bore of writing to me to acknowledge it.

My old Boat has been altered, I hope not spoiled; and I shall soon be preparing for the Water—and Mud. I don't think one can reckon on warm weather till after the Longest Day: but if you should come before, it will surely be warm enough to walk, or drive, if not to sail; and Leaves will be green, if the Tide should be out.

You would almost think I wanted to repay you in Compliment if I told you I regarded even your hasty Letters as excellent in all respects. I do, however: but I do not wish you to write one when you are busy or disinclined.



'What Cheer, ho!' I somehow fancy that a Line of Nonsense will catch you before you leave Ely: and yet, now I come to think, you will have left Ely, probably, and will be returning in another Fortnight to Cambridge for the Term. Well, I will direct to Cambridge then; and my Note shall await you there, and you need not answer it till some very happy hour of Leisure and Inclination. As to Inclination, indeed, I don't think you will ever have much of that, toward writing such Letters, I mean; what sensible Man after forty has? You have done so much more (in my Eyes, and perhaps so much less in your own) coming all this way to see me! I did wonder at the Goodness of that. I suppose Spedding didn't tell you that I wrote to him to say so. It was very unlucky I was out when you came: I have often thought of that with vexation.

Well, I have gone on Boating, etc., just the same ever since. And just now I have been applying to Spring Rice to use his Influence to get a larger Buoy laid at the mouth of our River; across which lies a vile Bar of shifting Sand, and such a little Bit of a Buoy to mark it that we often almost miss it going in and out, and are in danger of running on the Shoal; which would break the Boat to Pieces if not drown us. Here is a fine Piece of Information to a Canon of Ely and Professor of Greek at Cambridge!

Spring Rice does not speak well, I think, of his health; not at all well; and his Handwriting looks shaky. What a Loyal Kind Heart it is!

To W. B. Donne.



I talk indignantly against others bothering you, and do worse than all myself, I think, what with Bookbindings, Dressing-gowns, etc. (N.B. You know that the last is only in case when you are going your Rounds to St. James, etc.) Now I have a little Query to make: which, not being even so much out of your way, won't I hope trouble you. I remember Thompson telling me that, from what he had read and seen of Grecian Geography, he almost thought Clytemnestra's famous Account of the Line of Signal Fires from Troy to Mycenae to be possible (I mean you know in the Agamemnon). At least this is what I believe he said: I must not assert from a not very accurate Memory anything that would compromise a Greek Professor: I am so ignorant of Geography, ancient as well as modern, I don't know exactly, or at all, the Points of the Beacons so enumerated: and Lempriere, the only Classic I have to refer to, doesn't help me in what I want. Will you turn to the passage, and tell me what, and where, are:

1. The [Greek text]—

2. The [Greek text]—

3. The [Greek text].

What, where, and why, so called? The rest I know, or can find in Dictionary, and Map. But for these—

Lempriere Is no-where; Liddell and Scott Don't help me a jot: When I'm off, Donnegan Don't help me on again.— So I'm obliged to resort to old Donne again!

Rhyme and Epigram quite worthy of the German.

To W. H. Thompson.

Fragment of a Letter written in Nov. 1862.

I took down a Juvenal to look for a Passage about the Loaded Waggon rolling through the Roman Streets. {34} I couldn't find it. Do you know where it is? Not that you need answer this Question, which only comes in as if I were talking to you. I remember asking you whence AEschylus made his Agamemnon speak of Ulysses as unwilling at first to go on the Trojan Expedition. I see Paley refers it to some Poem called the Cypria quoted by Proclus. I was asking Donne the other Day as to some of the names of the Beacon-places in Clytemnestra's famous Speech: and I then said I believed—but only believed, as an inaccurate Man, not wishing to implicate others—that you, Thompson, had once told me that you thought the Chain of Fires might have passed from Troy to Mycenae in the way described—just possibly MIGHT, I think—I assure you I took care not to commit your Credit by my uncertain Memory, whatever it was you said was only in a casual way over a Cigar. Are you for [Greek text]? {35a} a point I don't care a straw about; so don't answer this neither.

No, I didn't go to the Exhibition: which, I know, looks like Affectation: but was honest Incuriosity and Indolence.

. . . On looking over Juvenal for the Lines I wanted I was amused at the prosaic Truth of one I didn't want:

Intolerabilius nihil est quam femina dives. {35b}

To George Crabbe.

Dec. 20, 1862.


. . . I have been, and am, reading Borrow's 'Wild Wales,' which I like well, because I can hear him talking it. But I don't know if others will like it: anyhow there is too much of the same thing. Then what is meant for the plainest record of Conversation, etc., has such Phrases as 'Marry come up,' etc., which mar the sense of Authenticity. Then, no one writing better English than Borrow in general, there is the vile IndividualPerson—and Locality always cropping up: and even this vulgar Young Ladyism, 'The Scenery was beautiful to a Degree.' What Degree? When did this vile Phrase arise?

To W. H. Thompson.

Good Friday, 1863.


Pray never feel ashamed of not answering my Letters so long as you do write twice a year, to let me know you live and thrive. As much oftener as you please: but you are only to be ashamed of not doing that. For that I really want of all who have been very kind and very constant ('loyal' is the word that even Emperors now use of themselves) for so many years. This I say in all sincerity.

Now, while you talk of being ashamed of not writing, I am rather ashamed of writing so much to you. Partly because I really have so little to say; and also because saying that little too often puts you to the shame you speak of. You say my Letters are pleasant, however: and they will be so far pleasant if they assure you that I like talking to you in that way: bad as I am at more direct communication. I can tell you your letters are very pleasant to me; you at least have always something to tell of your half-year's Life: and you tell it so wholesomely, I always say in so capital a Style, as makes me regret you have not written some of your better Knowledge for the Public. I suppose (as I have heard) that your Lectures {37} are excellent in this way; I can say I should like very much to attend a course of them, on the Greek Plays, or on Plato. I dare say you are right about an Apprenticeship in Red Tape being necessary to make a Man of Business: but is it too late in Life for you to buckle to and screw yourself up to condense some of your Lectures and scholarly Lore into a Book? By 'too late in Life' I mean too late to take Heart to do it.

I am sure you won't believe that I am scratching you in return for any scratchings from your hands. We are both too old, too sensible, and too independent, I think, for that sort of thing.

As to my going to Ely in June, I don't know yet what to say; for I have been Fool enough to order a Boat to be building which will cost me 350 pounds, and she talks of being launched in the very first week of June, and I have engaged for some short trips in her as soon as she is afloat. I begin to feel tired of her already; I felt I should when I was persuaded to order her: and that is the Folly of it. They say it is a very bad Thing to do Nothing: but I am sure that is not the case with those who are born to Blunder; I always find that I have to repent of what I have done, not what I have left undone; and poor W. Browne used to say it was better even to repent of what [was] undone than done. You know how glad I should be if you came here: but I haven't the Face to ask it, especially after that misfit last Summer; which was not my fault however.

I always look upon old Spedding's as one of the most wasted Lives I know: and he is a wise Man! Twenty years ago I told him that he should knock old Bacon off; I don't mean give him up, but wind him up at far less sacrifice of Time and Labour; and edit Shakespeare. I think it would have been worth his Life to have done those two; and I am always persuaded his Bacon would have been better if done more at a heat. I shall certainly buy the new Shakespeare you tell me of, if the Volumes aren't bulky; which destroys my pleasure in the use of a Book.

I have had my share of Influenza: even this Woodbridge, with all its capital Air and self-contented Stupidity (which you know is very conducive to long Life) has been wheezing and coughing all the very mild winter; and the Bell of the Tower opposite my Room has been tolling oftener than I ever remember.

Though I can't answer for June, I am really meditating a small trip to Wiltshire before June; mainly to see the daughters of my old George Crabbe who are settled at Bradford on Avon, and want very much that I should see how happily they live on very small means indeed. And I must own I am the more tempted to go abroad because there is preparation for a Marriage in my Family (a Niece—but not one of my Norfolk Nieces) which is to be at my Brother's near here; and there will be a Levee of People, who drop in here, etc. This may blow over, however.

Now I ought to be ashamed of this long Letter: don't you make me so by answering it.

Ever yours, E. F. G.

To George Crabbe.

WOODBRIDGE, June 8/63.


Your sister wrote me a very kind Letter to tell of her safe Return home. I must repeat to you very sincerely that I never recollect to have passed a pleasanter week. As far as Company went, it was like Old Times at Bredfield; and the Oak-trees were divine! I never expected to care so very much for Trees, nor for your flat Country: but I really feel as one who has bathed in Verdure. I suppose Town-living makes one alive to such a Change.

I spent a long Day with Thompson: {40} and much liked the painted Roof. On Thursday I went to Lynn: which I took a Fancy to: the odd old Houses: the Quay: the really grand Inn (Duke's Head, in the Market place) and the civil, Norfolk-talking, People. I went to Hunstanton, which is rather dreary: one could see the Country at Sandringham was good. I enquired fruitlessly about those Sandringham Pictures, etc.: even the Auctioneer, whom I found in the Bar of the Inn, could tell nothing of where they had gone.

To W. B. Donne.



. . . I can hardly tell you whether I am much pleased with my new Boat; for I hardly know myself. She is (as I doubted would be from the first) rather awkward in our narrow River; but then she was to be a good Sea- boat; and I don't know but she is; and will be better in all ways when we have got her in proper trim. Yesterday we gave her what they call 'a tuning' in a rather heavy swell round Orford Ness: and she did well without a reef, etc. But, now all is got, I don't any the more want to go far away by Sea, any more than by Land; having no Curiosity left for other Places, and glad to get back to my own Chair and Bed after three or four Days' Absence. So long as I get on the Sea from time to time, it is much the same to me whether off Aldbro' or Penzance. And I find I can't sleep so well on board as I used to do thirty years ago: and not to get one's Sleep, you know, indisposes one more or less for the Day. However, we talk of Dover, Folkestone, Holland, etc., which will give one's sleeping Talents a tuning.

To George Crabbe.

WOODBRIDGE, July 19, [1863].


You tell me the Romney is at Gardner's: but where is Gardner's? And what was the Price of the Portrait? Laurence said well about Romney that, as compared to Sir Joshua and Gainsboro', his Pictures looked tinted, rather than painted; the colour of the Cheek (for instance) rather superficially laid on, as rouge, rather than ingrained, and mantling like Blood from below. Laurence had seen those at last year's Exhibition: I have not seen near so many. I remember one that seemed to me capital at Lord Bute's in Bedfordshire.

I came home yesterday from a short Cruise to Yarmouth, etc., where some people were interested in the Channel Fleet. But I could take no interest in Steam Ships and Iron Rams.

WOODBRIDGE, August 4, [1863].


I have at last done my Holland: you won't be surprised to hear that I did it in two days, and was too glad to rush home on the first pretence, after (as usual) seeing nothing I cared the least about. The Country itself I had seen long before in Dutch Pictures, and between Beccles and Norwich: the Towns I had seen in Picturesque Annuals, Drop Scenes, etc.

But the Pictures—the Pictures—themselves?

Well, you know how I am sure to mismanage: but you will hardly believe, even of me, that I never saw what was most worth seeing, the Hague Gallery! But so it was: had I been by myself, I should have gone off directly (after landing at Rotterdam) to that: but Mr. Manby was with me: and he thought best to see about Rotterdam first: which was last Thursday, at whose earliest Dawn we arrived. So we tore about in an open Cab: saw nothing: the Gallery not worth a visit: and at night I was half dead with weariness. Then again on Friday I, by myself, should have started for the Hague: but as Amsterdam was also to be done, we thought best to go there (as furthest) first. So we went: tore about the town in a Cab as before: and I raced through the Museum seeing (I must say) little better than what I have seen over and over again in England. I couldn't admire the Night-watch much: Van der Helst's very good Picture seemed to me to have been cleaned: I thought the Rembrandt Burgomasters worth all the rest put together. But I certainly looked very flimsily at all.

Well, all this done, away we went to the Hague: arriving there just as the Museum closed for that day; next Day (Saturday) it was not to be open at all (I having proposed to wait in case it should), and on Sunday only from 12 to 2. Hearing all this, in Rage and Despair I tore back to Rotterdam: and on Saturday Morning got the Boat out of the muddy Canal in which she lay and tore back down the Maas, etc., so as to reach dear old Bawdsey shortly after Sunday's Sunrise. Oh, my Delight when I heard them call out 'Orford Lights!' as the Boat was plunging over the Swell.

All this is very stupid, really wrong: but you are not surprised at it in me. One reason however of my Disgust was, that we (in our Boat) were shut up (as I said) in the Canal, where I couldn't breathe. I begged Mr. Manby to let me take him to an Inn: he would stick to his Ship, he said: and I didn't like to leave him. Then it was Murray who misled me about the Hague Gallery: he knew nothing about its being shut on Saturdays. Then again we neither of us knew a word of Dutch: and I was surprised how little was known of English in return.

But I shall say no more. I think it is the last foreign Travel I shall ever undertake; unless I should go with you to see the Dresden Madonna: to which there is one less impediment now Holland is not to be gone through. . . . I am the Colour of a Lobster with Sea-faring: and my Eyes smart: so Good-Bye. Let me hear of you. Ever yours E. F. G.

Oh dear!—Rembrandt's Dissection—where and how did I miss that?

To E. B. Cowell.



I don't hear from you: I rather think you are deterred by those Birds which I asked you to print (in my last Letter) with some Correction, etc., of your own: and which you have not found Time or Inclination to get done. But don't let anything of this sort prevent your writing to me now and then: no one can be more utterly indifferent than I am whether these Birds are printed or not: and I suppose I distinctly told you not to put yourself to any Trouble. Indeed I dare say I should only be bored with the Copies when they were printed: for I don't know a Soul here who would care for the Thing if it were ten times as well done as I have done it: nor do I care for Translation or Original, myself. Oh dear, when I do look into Homer, Dante, and Virgil, AEschylus, Shakespeare, etc., those Orientals look—silly! Don't resent my saying so. Don't they? I am now a good [deal] about in a new Boat I have built, and thought (as Johnson took Cocker's Arithmetic with him on travel, because he shouldn't exhaust it) so I would take Dante and Homer with me, instead of Mudie's Books, which I read through directly. I took Dante by way of slow Digestion: not having looked at him for some years: but I am glad to find I relish him as much as ever: he atones with the Sea; as you know does the Odyssey—these are the Men!

I am just returned in my Ship from Holland—where I stayed—two days!—and was so glad to rush away home after being imprisoned in a sluggish un- sweet Canal in Rotterdam: and after tearing about to Amsterdam, the Hague, etc., to see things which were neither new nor remarkable to me though I had never seen them before—except in Pictures, which represent to you the Places as well as if you went there, without the trouble of going. I am sure wiser men, with keener outsight and insight would see what no Pictures could give: but this I know is always the case with me: this is my last Voyage abroad, I believe: unless I go to see Raffaelle's Madonna at Dresden, which no other Picture can represent than itself: unless Dante's Beatrice.

I don't think you ever told me if you had got, or read, Spedding's two first volumes of Bacon. My opinion is not the least altered of the Case: and (as I anticipated) Spedding has brooded over his Egg so long he has rather addled it. Thompson told me that the very Papers he adduces to clear Bacon in Essex's Business, rather go against him: I haven't seen any Notice of the Book in any Review but Fraser: where Donne (of course) was convinced, etc., and I hear that even the wise old Spedding is mortified that he has awakened so little Interest for his Hero. You know his Mortification would not be on his own score. His last Letter to me (some months ago) seemed to indicate that he could scarce lift up his Pen to go on—he had as yet, he said, written nothing of volumes 3 and 4. But I suppose he will in time. I say this Life of his wasted on a vain work is a Tragedy pathetic as Antigone or Iphigenia. Of Tennyson I hear but little: and I have ceased to look forward to any future Work of his. Thackeray seems dumb as a gorged Blackbird too: all growing old!

I have lost my sister Kerrich, the only one of my family I much cared for, or who much cared for me.

But (not to dwell on what cannot be helped, and to which my talking of all growing old led me) I see in last week's Athenaeum great Praise of a new Volume of Poems by Jean Ingelow. The Reviewer talks of a 'new Poet,' etc., quite unaware that some dozen years ago the 'new Poet' published a Volume (as you may remember) with as distinct Indications of sweet, fresh, and original Genius as anything he adduces from this second Volume. I remember writing a sort of Review, when about you at Bramford, which I sent to Mitford, to try and give the Book a little move: but Mitford had just quitted the Gentleman's Magazine, and I tore up my Paper. Your Elizabeth knows (I think) all about this Lady: who, I suppose, is connected with Lincolnshire: for the Reviewer speaks of some of the Poems as relating to that Coast—Shipwrecks, etc. I was told that Tennyson was writing a sort of Lincolnshire Idyll: I will bet on Miss Ingelow now: he should never have left his old County, and gone up to be suffocated by London Adulation. He has lost that which caused the long roll of the Lincolnshire Wave to reverberate in the measure of Locksley Hall. Don't believe that I rejoice like a Dastard in what I believe to be the Decay of a Great Man: my sorrow has been so much about it that (for one reason) I have the less cared to meet him of late years, having nothing to say in sincere praise. Nor do I mean that his Decay is all owing to London, etc. He is growing old: and I don't believe much in the Fine Arts thriving on an old Tree: I can't think Milton's Paradise Lost so good as his Allegro, etc.; one feels the strain of the Pump all through: only Shakespeare—the exception to all rule—struck out Macbeth at past fifty. {47a}

By the way, there is a new—and the best—edition {47b} of Him coming out: edited by two men (Fellows) of Cambridge. Just the Text, with the various readings of Folio and Quartos: scarce any notes: but suggestions of Alteration from Pope, Theobald, Coleridge, etc., and—Spedding; who (as I told him twenty years ago) should have done the work these men are doing. He also says they are well doing about half what is wanted to be done. He should—for he could—have done all; and one Frontispiece Portrait would have served for Author and Editor.

Come—here is a long Letter—and (as I read it over) with more Go than usually attends my old Pen now. Let it inspire you to answer: never mind the Birds:—which really suggests to me one of Dante's beautiful lines which made me cry the other Day at Sea.

Mentre che gli occhi per la fronda verde Ficcava io cosi, come far suole Chi dietro all' uccellin la vita perde, Lo piu che Padre mi dicea, etc. {48a}

To W. B. Donne.



Very rude of me not to have acknowledged your Tauchnitz {48b} before: but I have been almost living in my Ship ever since: and I supposed also that you were abroad in Norfolk. I pitied you undergoing those dreadful Oratorios: I never heard one that was not tiresome, and in part ludicrous. Such subjects are scarce fitted for Catgut. Even Magnus Handel—even Messiah. He (Handel) was a good old Pagan at heart, and (till he had to yield to the fashionable Piety of England) stuck to Opera, and Cantatas, such as Acis and Galatea, Milton's Penseroso, Alexander's Feast, etc., where he could revel and plunge and frolic without being tied down to Orthodoxy. And these are (to my mind) his really great works: these, and his Coronation Anthems, where Human Pomp is to be accompanied and illustrated

Now for Tauchnitz; somehow, that which you sent me is not the thing: I don't like it half so well as my little Tauchnitz stereotype Sophocles of 1827. The Euripides you send bears date 1846: and is certainly not so clear to my eyes as 1827. Never mind: don't trouble yourself further: I shall light upon what I want one of these Days. It is wonderful how The Sea brought up this Appetite for Greek: it likes to be called [Greek text] and [Greek text] better than the wretched word 'Sea,' I am sure: and the Greeks (especially AEschylus—after Homer) are full of Seafaring Sounds and Allusions. I think the Murmur of the AEgean (if that is their Sea) wrought itself into their Language. How is it the Islandic (which I read is our Mother Tongue) was not more Poluphloisboi-ic?

Sophocles has almost shaken my Allegiance to AEschylus. Oh, those two OEdipuses! but then that Agamemnon! Well: one shall be the Handel and 'tother the Haydn; one the Michel Angelo, and 'tother the Raffaelle, of Tragedy. As to the famous Prometheus, I think, as I always thought, it is somewhat over-rated for Sublimity; I can't see much in the far famed Conception of the Hero's Character: and I doubt (rest wanting).

To S. Laurence.



. . . I want to know about your two Portraits of Thackeray: the first one (which I think Smith and Elder have) I know by the Print: I want to know about one you last did (some two years ago?) whether you think it as good and characteristic: and also who has it. Frederic Tennyson sent me a Photograph of W. M. T. old, white, massive, and melancholy, sitting in his Library.

I am surprized almost to find how much I am thinking of him: so little as I had seen him for the last ten years; not once for the last five. I had been told—by you, for one—that he was spoiled. I am glad therefore that I have scarce seen him since he was 'old Thackeray.' I keep reading his Newcomes of nights, and as it were hear him saying so much in it; and it seems to me as if he might be coming up my Stairs, and about to come (singing) into my Room, as in old Charlotte Street, etc., thirty years ago. {50}

To George Crabbe.



. . . Have we exchanged a word about Thackeray since his Death? I am quite surprised to see how I sit moping about him: to be sure, I keep reading his Books. Oh, the Newcomes are fine! And now I have got hold of Pendennis, and seem to like that much more than when I first read it. I keep hearing him say so much of it; and really think I shall hear his Step up the Stairs to this Lodging as in old Charlotte Street thirty years ago. Really, a great Figure has sunk under Earth.

To W. H. Thompson.



You see I return with your other troubles of Term time. Only when you have ten spare minutes let me know how you are, etc. . . . I have almost wondered at myself how much occupied I have been thinking of Thackeray; so little as I had seen of him for the last ten years, and my Interest in him a little gone from hearing he had become somewhat spoiled: which also some of his later writings hinted to me of themselves. But his Letters, and former works, bring me back the old Thackeray. . . . I had never read Pendennis and the Newcomes since their first appearance till this last month. They are wonderful; Fielding's seems to me coarse work in comparison. I have indeed been thinking of little this last month but of these Books and their Author. Of his Letters to me I have only kept some Dozen, just to mark the different Epochs of our Acquaintance.

To E. B. Cowell.



I have only Today got your Letter: have been walking out by myself in the Seckford Almshouse Garden till 9 p.m. in a sharp Frost—with Orion stalking over the South before me—(do you know him in India? I forget) have come in—drunk a glass of Porter; and am minded to answer you before I get to Bed. Perhaps the Porter will leave me stranded, however, before I get to the End of my Letter.

Before this reaches you—probably before I write it—you will have heard of Thackeray's sudden Death. It was told me as I was walking alone in those same Seckford Gardens on Christmas-day Night; by a Corn-merchant—one George Manby—(do you remember him?) who came on purpose to tell me—and to wish me in other respects a Happy Christmas. I have thought little else than of W. M. T. ever since—what with reading over his Books, and the few Letters I had kept of his; and thinking over our five and thirty years' Acquaintance as I sit alone by my Fire these long Nights. I had seen very little of him for these last ten years; nothing for the last five; he did not care to write; and people told me he was become a little spoiled: by London praise, and some consequent Egotism. But he was a very fine Fellow. His Books are wonderful: Pendennis; Vanity Fair; and the Newcomes; to which compared Fielding's seems to me coarse work. I don't know yet how his two daughters are left provided for; the Papers say well. He had built and furnished a fine House at 7 or 8000 pounds cost; which is as good a Property for them to let or sell as any other, I suppose; and the Copyright of his Books must also be a good Property: always supposing he had not encumbered all these by anticipation.

I was not at all well myself for three months; but either the Doctor's Stuff, or the sharp clear weather, or both, have set me up pretty much as I was before. I have nothing to tell, as usual, of People or Places; for I have scarce stirred from this Place since my little Ship was laid up in the middle of October. Donne writes sometimes; I see an article of his about the Antonines advertised in the present Edinburgh; but that you know is out of my Line. His second son, Mowbray, is lately married to a Daughter (I don't know which) of Mrs. Salmon's; widow of a former Rector here, whom your Elizabeth will remember all about, I dare say.

This time ten years I was lodging at Oxford, reading Persian with you. I doubt I shall never do so again; I am too lazy to turn Dictionaries over now; and indeed had some while ceased to expect much to turn up from them. You are quite right, as a Scholar, to work out the Mine; but you admit that nothing is likely to come out of such Value as from the Greek, Latin, and English, which we have ready to our hands. Did I tell you how pleased I had been with Sophocles and AEschylus in my Boat this Summer?

I dare say you are quite right about my 'Birds': indeed I think I had always told you that my Version was of no public use; I only wanted a few Copies for private use; and I wanted you to add a short Account, and a few Notes; in which I am shy of trusting my own Irish Accuracy. But you have plenty of better work, and this is quite as well left.

Miss Ingelow's second volume isn't half so good as her first, to my thinking; more ambitious, with a twang of Tennyson. I can't add to the List you have sent of Elizabeth's Poems.

Maria C[harlesworth] was staying with my Brother at Boulge in the Autumn, and sent a very kind message to me; I now am sorry I did not see her; but I keep out of the way of the Company at Boulge, though I am glad to see my Brother here. So I wish I had asked her to take the Trouble to come and see me in my Den. Alas! if ever you do come back, you will have to come and see me; for I really go nowhere now. Frederic Tennyson came to me for a few Days, and talked of you two: he was looking very well; and was grand and kind as before. I hear little of Alfred. Spedding's Bacon seems to hang fire; they say he is disheartened at the little Interest, and less Conviction, that his two first volumes carried; Thompson told me they had only convinced him the other way; and that Ellis had long given up Bacon's Defence before he died.

Now my sheet is filled on the strength of my own Glass of Porter—all at a heat. So Good Bye: ever yours, E. F. G.

To S. Laurence.



I only got home last Night, from Wiltshire, where I had been to see Miss Crabbe, daughter of the old Vicar whom you remember. I found your two Letters: and then your Box. When I had unscrewed the last Screw, it was as if a Coffin's Lid were raised; there was the Dead Man. {55} I took him up to my Bedroom; and when morning came, he was there—reading; alive, and yet dead. I am perfectly satisfied with it on the whole; indeed, could only have suggested a very, very, slight alteration, if any. . .

As I passed through London, I saw that wonderful Collection of Rubbish, the late Bishop of Ely's Pictures; but I fell desperately in Love with a Sir Joshua, a young Lady in white with a blue Sash, and a sweet blue Sky over her sweet, noble, Head; far above Gainsboro' in its Air and Expression. I see in the Papers that it went for 165 pounds; which, if I thought well to give so much for any Picture, I could almost have given, by some means, for such a delightful Work.



. . . I will send back the Gainsboro' copy {56a} at once; I think the Original must be one of the happiest of the Painter's; while he had Vandyke in his Eye, with whom he was to go to Heaven. {56b} I will not argue how far he was superior to Reynolds in Colour; but in the Air of Dignity and Gentility (in the better Sense) he was surely inferior; it must be so, from the Difference of Character in the two men. Madame D'Arblay (Miss Burney) relates how one day when she was dining with Sir Joshua at Richmond, she chanced to see him looking at her in a peculiar way; she said to him, 'I know what you are thinking about.' 'Ay,' he said, 'you may come and sit to me now whenever you please.' They had often met; but he at last caught the phase of her which was best; but I don't think it ever went to Canvas. I don't think Gainsboro' could have painted the lovely portrait at the Bishop of Ely's, slight as it was; Sir Joshua was by much the finer Gentleman; indeed Gainsboro' was a Scamp.

* * * * *

In the summer of 1864 FitzGerald bought a small farmhouse in the outskirts of Woodbridge, which he afterwards converted into Little Grange.

To George Crabbe.

WOODBRIDGE: July 31/64.


I returned yesterday from a Ten Days' Cruise to the Sussex Coast: which was pleasant enough. To-morrow I talk of Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

. . . Read Newman's Apologia pro Vita Sua, something of a very different order [from the 'Dean's English'], deeply interesting; pathetic, eloquent, and, I think, sincere: sincere, in not being conscious of all the steps he took in reaching his present Place.

To E. B. Cowell.



. . . I hope you don't think I have forgotten you. Your visit gave me a sad sort of Pleasure, dashed with the Memory of other Days; I now see so few People, and those all of the common sort, with whom I never talk of our old Subjects; so I get in some measure unfitted for such converse, and am almost saddened with the remembrance of an old contrast when it comes. And there is something besides; a Shadow of Death: but I won't talk of such things: only believe I don't forget you, nor wish to be forgotten by you. Indeed, your kindness touched me.

I have been reading Juvenal with Translation, etc., in my Boat. Nearly the best things seem to me what one may call Epistles, rather than Satires: VIII. To Ponticus: XI. To Persicus: and XII. XIII. and XIV to several others: and, in these, leaving out the directly satirical Parts. Satires III and X, like Horace's Poems, are prostituted by Parliamentary and vulgar use, and should lie by for a while. One sees Lucretius, I think, in many parts; but Juvenal can't rise to Lucretius, who is, after all, the true sublime Satirist of poor Man, and of something deeper than his Corruptions and Vices: and he looks on all, too, with 'a Countenance more in Sorrow than in Anger.' By the way, I want you to tell me the name and Title of that Essay on Lucretius {58} which you said was enlarged and reprinted by the Author from the original Cambridge and Oxford Essays. I want much to get it.

There is a fine Passage in Juvenal's 6th Satire on Women: beginning line 634, 'Fingimus haec, etc.' to 650: but (as I think) leaving out lines 639, 640; because one can understand without them, and they jingle sadly with their one vowel ending. I mention this because it occurs in a Satire which, from its Subject, you may perhaps have little cared for.

Another Book I have had is Wesley's Journal, which I used to read, but gave away my Copy—to you? or Robert Groome {59a} was it? If you don't know it, do know it; it is curious to think of this Diary of his running almost coevally with Walpole's Letter-Diary; the two men born and dying too within a few years of one another, and with such different Lives to record. And it is remarkable to read pure, unaffected, and undying, English, while Addison and Johnson are tainted with a Style, which all the world imitated! Remember me to all. Ever yours E. F. G.

'Sed genus humanum damnat caligo Futuri'—a Lucretian line from Juvenal. {59b}



Let me hear of you whenever you have something to tell of yourself: or indeed whenever you have a few spare minutes, and happen, to think—of me. I don't forget you: and 'out of sight' is not 'out of mind' with you, and three or four more in the World. I hope you see Donne at times: and you must look out for old Spedding, that melancholy Ruin of the 19th Century, with his half-white-washed Bacon. Perhaps you will see another Ruin—the Author of Enoch Arden. Compare that with the Spontaneous Go of Palace of Art, Mort d'Arthur, Gardener's Daughter, Locksley Hall, Will Waterproof, Sleeping Palace, Talking Oak, and indeed, one may say, all the two volumes of 1842. As to Maud, I think it the best Poem, as a whole, after 1842.

To come down to very little, from once great, Things—I don't know if it's your coming home, or my being better this Winter, or what: but I have caught up a long ago begun Version of my dear old Magico, and have so recast it that scarce a Plank remains of the original! Pretty impudence: and yet all done to conciliate English, or modern, Sympathy. This I sha'n't publish: so say (pray!) nothing of it at all—remember—only I shall print some Copies for you and one or two more: and you and Elizabeth will like it a great deal too much. There is really very great Skill in the Adaptation, and Remodelling of it. By the bye, would you translate Demonio, Lucifer, or Satan? One of the two I take. I cut out all the precioso very ingeniously: and give all the Mountain-moving, etc., in the second Act without Stage direction, so as it may seem to pass only in the dazzled Eyes, or Fantasy, of Cyprian. All this is really a very difficult Job to me; not worth the Candle, I dare say: only that you two will be pleased. I also increase the religious Element in the Drama; and make Cyprian outwit the Devil more cleverly than he now does; for the Devil was certainly too clever to be caught in his own Art. That was very good Fun for an Autodafe Audience, however.

But please say nothing of this to any one. I should like to take up the Vida es Sueno too in the same manner; but these plays are more difficult than all the others put together: and I have no spur now.

How would you translate Pliny's 'Quisquis est Deus, et quacumque in parte, totus est Sensus, totus Visus, totus Auditus, totus Animae, totus Animi, totus Sui?' {61}

This Passage is alluded to by Calderon; but, in the manner of our old Playwrights, I quote it in the Latin and translate. I want to know by you if I have done it sufficiently; and I don't send you mine, in order that you may send me your Version freely.

Now, Good Bye: I suppose it's this rainy Day that draws out this, with several other Letters, that had waited some while to be written.

Yours ever E. F. G.

To R. C. Trench.



Edward Cowell's return to England {62a} set him and me talking of old Studies together, left off since he went to India. And I took up three sketched out Dramas, two of Calderon, {62b} and have licked the two Calderons into some sort of shape of my own, without referring to the Original. One of them goes by this Post to your Grace; and when I tell you the other is no other than your own 'Life's a Dream,' you won't wonder at my sending the present one on Trial, both done as they are in the same lawless, perhaps impudent, way. I know you would not care who did these things, so long as they were well done; but one doesn't wish to meddle, and in so free-and-easy a way, with a Great Man's Masterpieces, and utterly fail: especially when two much better men have been before one. One excuse is, that Shelley and Dr. Trench only took parts of these plays, not caring surely—who can?—for the underplot and buffoonery which stands most in the way of the tragic Dramas. Yet I think it is as a whole, that is, the whole main Story, that these Plays are capital; and therefore I have tried to present that whole, leaving out the rest, or nearly so; and altogether the Thing has become so altered one way or another that I am afraid of it now it's done, and only send you one Play (the other indeed is not done printing: neither to be published), which will be enough if it is an absurd Attempt. For the Vida is not so good even, I doubt: dealing more in the Heroics, etc.

I tell Donne he is too partial a Friend; so is Cowell: Spedding, I think, wouldn't care. So, as you were very kind about the other Plays, and love Calderon (which I doubt argues against me), I send you my Magician.

You will not mind if I blunder in addressing you; in which I steered a middle course between the modes Donne told me; and so, probably, come to the Ground!

To John Allen.

MARKET HILL: IPSWICH. {63} April 10/65.


I was much obliged to you for your former Letters; and now send you the second Play. This I don't suppose you'll like as well as the first: perhaps not at all; it is rather 'Ercles vein' I doubt. I wish to know however from you what you do think of it; because if it seem to you at all preposterous, I shall not send it to some others: but leave them with the first, which really does please those I wished it to please, with its fine Story and Moral. If you like what I now send, I will send you a Copy of Both stitched together, and another copy to your Cousin: and indeed to any one else you think might be pleased with it.

I am indulging in the expensive amusement of Building, though not on a very large scale. It is very pleasant, certainly, to see one's little Gables and Chimnies mount into Air and occupy a Place in the Landscape.

There is a duller Memoir than the 'Lady of Quality,' Miss Lucy Aitken's Letters, etc. You will find the Private Life of an Eastern Queen a good little Book. I have now got Carlyle's two last volumes of Frederick: of which I have only read the latter Part; I don't know whether I can read through the Wars and Battles, which are said to be very fine.

The piece of Literature I really could benefit Posterity with, I do believe, is an edition of that wonderful and aggravating Clarissa Harlowe; and this I would effect with a pair of Scissors only. It would not be a bit too long as it is, if it were all equally good; but pedantry comes in, and might, I think, be cleared away, leaving the remainder one of the great, original, Works of the World! in this Line. Lovelace is the wonderful character, for Wit: and there is some grand Tragedy too. And nobody reads it! Ever yours,

E. F. G.

To Mrs. Cowell.



I answer you thus directly because I would stick in a Bit of a Letter from Thompson of Cambridge: which relates to a question I asked him weeks ago, as I told E. B. C. I would.

You must not think I was in a hurry to have my Play praised: I was really fearful of its being bombastic. You are so enthusiastic in your old and kind Regards and Memories that I can scarce rely on you for a cool Judgment in the matter. But I gather from E. B. C. that he was not struck with what I doubted: and I am very glad, at any rate, that you are very well pleased, both of you.

E. B. C. is quite right about obscurity of Phrase: which is inexcusable unless where the Passion of the Speakers makes such utterance natural. This is very often not the case in the Plays, I know: and the Language, as he says, becomes obscure from elaborate Brevity.

What you tell of the Music in the Air at your Father's Death—Oh, how Frederic Tennyson would open all his Eyes at this! For he lives in a World of Spirits—Swedenborg's World, which you would not approve; which I cannot sympathize with: but yet I admire the Titanic old Soul so resolutely blind to the Philosophy of the Day.

Oh, I think England would be much better for E. B. C. and you: but I can't say anything against what he thinks the Duty chalked out for him. I don't believe the English Rule will hold in India: but, meanwhile, a good Man may think he must do what Good he can there, come what may of it. There is also Good to be done in England!

The Wind is still very 'stingy' though the Sun shines, and though it blows from the West. So we are all better at our homes for the present.

Ever yours, E. F. G.

To W. B. Donne.

RAMSGATE: August 27, [1865].


Your letter found me here, where I have been a week cruising about with my old Brother Peter. To morrow we leave—for Calais, as we propose; just to touch French Soil, and drink a Bottle of French Wine in the old Town: then home again to Woodbridge as fast as we may. For thither goes William Airy, partly in hopes of meeting me: he says he is much shaken by the dangerous illness he had this last Spring: and thinks, truly enough, that our chances of meeting in this World sensibly diminish.

You must not talk of my kindness to you at Lowestoft: when all the good is on your side, going out of your way to see me. Really it makes me ashamed.

Together with your Letter, I found a very kind one from Mrs. Kemble, who took the trouble to write only to tell me how well she liked the Plays. I know that Good Nature would not affect her Judgment (which I very honestly think too favourable), but it was Good Nature made her write to tell me.

Don't forget to sound Murray at some good opportunity about a Selection from Crabbe. Of course he won't let me do it, though I could do it better than any he would be likely to employ: for you know I rely on my Appreciation of what others do, not on what I can do myself.

The 'Parcel' you write of has not been sent me here: but I shall find it when I return, and will write to you again. I puzzle my Brains to remember what the 'Conscript' is.

I have been reading, and reducing to one volume from two (more meo), a trashy Book, 'Bernard's Recollections of the Stage,' with some good recollections of the Old Actors, up to Macklin and Garrick. But, of all people's, one can't trust Actors' Stories. In 'Lethe,' where your Garrick figures in Sir Geoffrey, also figured Woodward, as 'The Fine Gentleman'; so I think, at least, is the Title of a very capital mezzotint I have of him in Character,

Oh! famous is your Story of Lord Chatham and the Bishops; {68} be sure you set it afloat again in print.

You don't tell me if Trench be recovered: but I shall conclude from your Silence that, at any rate, he is not now seriously ill.

Now I hear my good Brother come in from Morning Mass, and we shall have Breakfast. He is really capital to sail about with. I read your letter yesterday while sitting out on a Bench with her—his Wife—a brave Woman, of the O'Dowd sort; and she wanted to know all about you and yours. We like Ramsgate very much: genial air: pleasant Country: good Harbour, Piers, etc.: and the Company, though overflowing, not showy, nor vulgar: but seemingly come to make the most of a Holiday. I am surprized how little of the Cockney, in its worse aspect, is to be seen.

To E. B. Cowell.



Let me hear of you: I don't forget, though I don't see, you. Nor am I so wrapt up in my Ship as not to have many a day on which I should be very glad to dispense with her and have you over here: but I can't well make sure what day: sometimes I ask one man to go, sometimes another, and so all is cut up. Besides I was away six weeks in all at Lowestoft; then a fortnight at Ramsgate, Dover, Calais, etc. When the apple [Greek text] {69a}—then my Ship will be laid up, and one more Summer of mine departed, and then I hope you will come over to talk over many things.

Read Lady Duff Gordon's Letters from Egypt: which you won't like, because of some latitude in Religious thought, and also because of some vulgar slang, such as Schoolboys, and American Women use, and it is now the bad fashion for even English Ladies to adopt. But the Book is worth reading notwithstanding this, and making allowance for a Lady or Gentleman seeing all rose-colour in a new Pet or Plaything. On sending the Book back to the Library this morning I quote out of it something about Oriental Poetry which you may know well enough but I was not so conscious of. In a Love-song where the Lover declines a Physician for the wound which the Wind (Love) has caused, he says 'For only he who has hurt can cure me.' 'N.B. The masculine pronoun is always used instead of the feminine in Poetry, out of decorum: sometimes even in conversation.' {69b} (It being as forbidden to talk of women as to see them, etc.)

I was very pleased with Calais, which remains the 'vieille France' of my Childhood.

Donne came to see me for a Day at Lowestoft, the same 'vieil Donne' also of my Boyhood.

Ever yours, E. F. G.

To John Allen.



Let me hear how you and yours are: it is now a long [time] since we exchanged Letters. G. Crabbe wrote me you were corresponding with a very different person: the Editor of the Times. I never see that nor any other Paper but the good old Athenaeum. G. Crabbe also said you were at the Norwich Congress. Then why didn't you come here? He said the Bishop of Oxford, whom he had never met before, met him at Lord Walsingham's, and shook him so cordially by the hand, and pressed him so for a visit to Oxford, that he (G. C.) rather thought he (Sam) deserved the Epithet usually added to his Name. Perhaps, however, the Bishop did feel for a Grandson of the Poet.

I have no more to tell you of myself this past Summer than for so many Summers past. Only sailing about, Lowestoft, Ramsgate, Dover, Calais, etc. I was very pleased indeed with Calais; just as I remember it forty years ago except for the Soldiers' Uniform.

Duncan wrote me not a very cheerful Letter some while ago: he was unwell, of Cold and rheumatism, I think. Of other Friends I know nothing: but am going to write my annual Letters to them. What a State of things to come to! How one used to wonder, hearing our predecessors talk in that way, something! But I don't think our successors wonder if we talk so; for they seem to begin Life with indifference, instead of ending it.

My house is not yet finished: two rooms have taken about five months: which is not slow for Woodbridge. To day I have been catching Cold in looking at some Trees planted—'factura Nepotibus umbram.'

1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse