Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Letter to William Bell Scott, July 1853, manuscript
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1853 July
Type of Manuscript: fair copy of sonnet in letter
Scribe: DGR

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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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
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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
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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 I fancy 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
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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
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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?"
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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
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Hexham my plan is to take the Newcastle train & go on past that spirited city, is it not? Please tell me this, & believe me
Your friend

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 it out.
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Note: blank page
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: dgr.ltr.0538.rad.xml