London - Tuesday - l9 July 1853]
14 Chatham Place -
Manuscript Addition: after Newcastle visit
Editorial Description: William Bell Scott's note about the date of the letter.
My dear Scott
I returned here on Friday night after a week's walking in Warwickshire. At the end of said
week I felt a great deal better than I had done for some time, and had enjoyed myself mightily,
especially in the neighbourhood of Stratford. You seem quite to have miscalculated my energies,
as I found two letters of yours on my return, the first of which is dated on the Monday after I
left Newcastle! you seeming to think that I should then be already back in London. I hope you
will henceforward do more justice to the wild enthusiasm of my character. Since I came
back, I have begun to feel queer again, and have got a boil at the
back of my neck, which already prevents me almost from putting my coat on & I fear will
give me some trouble before I get rid of it. I am most heartily wishing however to be with you
at Hexham, where I suppose you now are, and hope to be ready to join you as soon as this
abomination leaves me clean again. Let me hear from you when you get this, that I may know
where you are - I found William returned from Paris, foaming at the mouth with Art. I have no
doubt he will write to you.
I think the "Saint Margaret" is full of beauties. My only
objection to the lines of "burden" would be that they immediately put
me in mine of a thing by Mrs. Browning called "The Brown Rosary," which however I dare say is
unknown or at least unfamiliar to you. If you do not think this coincidence objectionable (and
it might occur to others) the lines seem to me otherwise rather to improve the poem,
especially in the last stanza, which would end rather abruptly & awkwardly without the
burden. But in any case I should take away the expression "loved ones" as that is quite
decidedly "Barrett-Browningian" & I think feminine in the abstract.
There are a few
lines which seem to me inharmonious, & unfinished in rhythm. Such are the 2nd &
3rd (especially 3rd) of stanza 1; the 1st of
stanza 3; and the burden of stanza 5. In the 4th line of stanza 1, I
do not understand the use of the word "waiting." A few things like these seem to me capable of
improvement, and well worth the trouble, as the poem is among your excellent ones.
When I left Stratford the Avon was flooding the whole country. The crops were under water
& the hay going down the current. It suggested a ballad I have partly written &
mean to finish. However the weather was mostly fine—often lovely & the beauty of the
country inexpressible in many parts. I quite woke to a sense of my Shakespearean awe &
homage. When I got within hail
Editorial Note (page ornament): Ass's head drawn in text of the letter just above the text of the poem (the
“likeness” of the parson referred to below).
of his ghost at Stratford. You know his mulberry-tree was cut down
& his house (i.e. the one he built) pulled down in the last century by
some stinking wretch of a parson, whose likeness has been preserved. I wrote a
sonnnet, as an inscription for the site of the tree.
- This tree here fall'n, no common birth or death
- Shared with its kind. The world's enfranchised son,
- Who found the Trees of Life & Knowledge one,
- Here set it, frailer than his laurel-wreath.
- Also the wretch whose hand it fell beneath
- 'Mid men stands singly — the supreme unhung.
- Lo! murdered Turpin rises with black tongue
- To plead this man's unsuffocated breath.
- Blest be Thy glossary, Shakespeare; whence almost
10(and whence alone) a name might be revealed
- For this deaf drudge, to whom no length of ears
- Sufficed to catch the music of the spheres:
- Whose soul is carrion now,— too mean to yield
- Some tailor's ninth allottment of a ghost.
Is this strong enough for the "shotten herring?"
I spent a very pleasant day on Sunday in an excursion to Hendon with Brown, who is the only man I have seen yet since my return.
Nevertheless one feels again within the accursed circle. The skulls & bones rattle, the goblins keep mumbling, and the owls
beat their obscene wings again, round the casting of those bullets among which is the devil's seventh, though it should be
hidden till the last. Meanwhile, to step out of the ring is death & damnation.
I notice that the above metaphor is very fine. Something might be done with it—in charcoal. I suppose if I come to
Hexham my plan is to take the Newcastle train & go on past that spirited city, is it not? Please tell me this, & believe
D G Rossetti
Kindest regards to Mrs. Scott & Mrs. Norquoy.
W. B. Scott Esq.
I hope to get the design for the etching done by the time I see you again, and then to profit by your experience in carrying