Houghton, The Wellesley Index , pp. 723-731.◦
Mackail, J. W. Life of William Morris.
This is one of several pieces in The Oxford and
Cambridge Magazine for which the author is uncertain.
The Wellesley Index attributes it to Burne-Jones, with the
caveat that Mackail’s manuscript notes attribute it to “a professional
writer got in by Fulford” (731). Both conclusions prove problematic.
Burne-Jones had written in August that neither he nor Morris would write for the
magazine again (Mackail, 108). Morris continued to contribute, but if this piece is in
fact by Burne-Jones, it is the only submission after he made that statement. It
also is markedly different from Burne-Jones’s other stories in the magazine,
The Cousins and
The Story of the North, in both
style and theme.
Attributing this piece to a professional writer brought in by Fulford, however,
has its own problems. Certainly Fulford was having trouble getting the other members of the
Brotherhood to contribyte, but all other entries are by writers associated in some way with
either Oxford or Cambridge. It would be surprising for Fulford to hire
an outside contributor for one piece.
The use of cliches
(“high and dry” p. 679, “nipped in the bud” p.
682) and uncomfortably alliterative sentences (“cried a cowardly
cowherd”, p. 686) would seem out of place in a professional
writer’s work, but also in the work of any of the members of the brotherhood.
Whoever wrote this piece was familiar with the general themes of
the other stories in the Magazine. The frame story is a young man visiting
France, who spends the night in a haunted cave, and dreams that he meets a
Druid, who tells him a story about the Roman invasion under Caesar. The
dream motif and the historical setting are tropes shared by nearly all of
the stories in the Magazine.
First printed in
The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine
, November, 1856.