The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.
MANUS ANIMAM PINXIT
Letters A.—To Charlotte Lydia Polidori:—
pp. 3, 4, 34, 35, 36, 37,
46, 82, 86, 91, 100-2-10-32-4-6-43-4-8-50-1-9-74-85, 227-37, 315-26-30.
Letters B.—To Francis Mary Lavinia Rossetti:—
pp. 5, 10, 12, 16,
19, 30, 32, 43, 85, 97, 99, 101-6-7-8-11-6-26-37-43-7-53-5-8-60-5-8-9-70,
Letters C.—To William Michael Rossetti:—
pp. 7, 23, 27, 31, 39, 40,
44, 48, 52, 54, 55, 60, 62, 71, 83, 90, 92, 93, 94, 97, 98, 103-4-25-7-8-30,
Letter D.—To Gaetano Polidori . . . . . . p. 20
Letters E.—To Gabriele Rossetti . . . pp. 22, 26, 114-22
Letters F.—To Christina Georgina Rossetti:—
pp. 82, 95, 119-62-3,
171-83, 224, 322-37-53-61-7-83-6-92-4-5.
Letters G.—To Henry Francis Polydore . . pp. 181, 243, 340-2
Letters H.—To Lucy Madox Rossetti . pp. 310-2-39-56-66-9-70-2-3
I send you twelve drawings for the Bazaar, which I hope will not arrive too late for admission. Julian Peveril, the Turk, the Pygmy, the Brigand, Barnaby Rudge, the Butterfly, the Huntsman, the Harp, and the Shamrock, arethe Dandy, are originals. The Huntsman and the Highlander are intended for Fitzjames and Roderick Dhu, from The Lady of the Lake.
I should have drawn some more, for I have remaining three cards and two pieces of cardboard; but I was fearful that they should reach you too late.
I hope that, should you answer this letter, you will favour me with a “full, true, and particular account” of the proceedings, how many and which of my drawings were sold, and the price which they fetched.
P.S.—The Harp (but this is a strict secret) is copied off a halfpenny.
Perhaps you remember that, one day when you were admiring the drawings which I sent to the Bazaar, I said that I would draw you one. In fulfilment of this promise I send you the accompanying figure, hoping that it will meet with your approbation. It is pronounced by every one to be the
P.S.—Mamma sends you her love, and wishes me to tell you that she has just been talking to Papa of procuring a music-master for Maria, and that he says he will see about it(?).
P.P.S.—The figure is entirely original.
We arrived safely at Chalfont at 12 o'clock yesterday. The village is larger than I expected. The first thing we did
Yesterday I commenced reading The Infidel's Doom, by Dr. Birch, which valuable work forms part and parcel of Uncle Henry's library. However, I have abandoned the task in despair. I then began The Castle of Otranto, which shared the same fate, and am now engaged on Defoe's History of the Plague. This morning we deposited Uncle Henry's books (exclusive of the law books, which are in the parlour) in a closet in Uncle Henry's bedroom, which, in common with all the other closets in this house, possesses a lock but no key.
I do not think that I shall go to church on Sunday, for in the first place I do not know where I can sit, and in the second place I find that we are so stared at wherever we go that I do not much relish the idea of sitting for two hours the lodestone of attraction in the very centre of the aborigines, on whose minds curiosity appears to have taken a firm hold.
I have just had some luncheon, of which however Uncle Henry did not partake, asserting that he was unwell, and would take some pills for his luncheon. Milk is an extremely rare article here; so much so that it was with great difficulty that we obtained a pint this morning and half a pint yesterday, and it still remains in doubt whether we shall be able to procure half a pint this evening for tea. I “in longing expectation wait” the appearance of my dinner; for which however I need not yet look, since it is now nearly 3 o'clock, which is the nominal dinner-hour, but, the fire having gone out, Uncle Henry prophesies that it will not come till 4.
P.S.—I intend to make, for Maria's accommodation, a sketch of the church, which I think pretty, but which Uncle Henry condemns as exceedingly flat and ugly.
P.P.S.—I am sure that by this time you must be tormenting yourself because I forgot to take a Prayer-Book; however, you may set your mind at rest on that subject, since Uncle Henry's Swearing-book combines both Bible and Prayer- Book, out of which I can read the Psalms and Lessons on Sunday in case I stay at home.
I took up my pen, fully intending to commence by hoping that you found yourself comfortable at Chalfont-St.- Giles; but I rejected the idea almost as soon as formed, for sad experience has taught me that over the portal of
So said Byron—so say not I. The Eclogue which he seems to dislike is the very one by construing which from beginning to end (having learnt it at school in capacity of an imposition) I can defeat the malice of Uncle Henry when he defies me so to do.
I have already told you that my Christmas-box has taken up its residence at pot. I will now proceed to acquaint you with the means by which it found its way to that “undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns.” To you probably this will be interesting news—to Uncle Henry it will be one continued nuisance. I well know his abhorrence of a long list of purchases.
I will begin, then, with the prints I have bought for my Waverley Novels—viz., a proof of The Pass of Aberfoil— Stand, which you already know, and for which I gave 9 d.;
So much for every one of my purchases, so much for every farthing of my money, and so much for almost every syllable of my letter; except that Mamma and all send you their loves, and that Dr. Locock, whom we visited again this morning, says that I must not recommence my studies till after New Year's Day; and so
P.S.—I forgot to tell you that, if you want to get splendid prints dirt-cheap, now's your time. Reynolds told me that
“Better late than never,” as the cat said to the kitten when the latter relinquished the Wellington boot in despair. And now, having sent preliminaries to pot in one pithy and well-concocted sentence, I shall proceed forthwith to news.
Yesterday Aunt Margaret, William, and myself, betook ourselves in the afternoon to 15 Park Village East, having been thereunto invited. The first thing I did on my arrival was to enter the office of Uncle Henry. The air therein was
I finished yesterday the first volume of Ten Thousand a Year, the commencement of which, as Aunt Margaret intends to testify in her next epistle, is very unpromising. As it proceeds however it becomes splendid; and, having completed the volume, I laid it down with the impression that it was equal to Dickens. To-morrow I hope to begin the second volume. William is also perusing Charles O'Malley, which he finds very entertaining.
Dr. Heimann has called several times since your departure, and testifies great interest in Papa's health. He was here yesterday to give us our lesson. He intends to take us out with him, and will write a note to fix the day. He surveyed our libraries, and was glad to see that Maria possessed Keble, which he has read, and admires exceedingly (!) Mr. Leader called to-day; and, on hearing that Papa was in the country, seemed pleased, and asked us for his address, which we gave him. The visits of enquiring friends since your disappearance have been so numerous that it would be impossible to remember them. Suffice it to say that all the “amici” small and great have been here. Sangiovanni says that he intends to write(!) The Cavaliere wishes that your correspondence was more voluminous, and says that the Signora Carlotta, having nothing else to do, should write letters ad infinitum.
I have nearly finished studying the bones, and my next drawing will most probably be an anatomy-figure.
Everybody at 15 Park Village East and at 50 Charlotte Street sends his or her love to everybody at 9 High Street, Hastings. And so, having nothing more to say,
On Monday last (the first day of opening) I visited the exhibition at Westminster Hall of the cartoons for decorating the New Houses of Parliament. When I say cartoons I mean of course the large drawings executed in chalks which are afterwards to be painted in fresco on the walls. It is indeed a splendid sight; by far the most interesting exhibition in fact at which I have ever been, more so even than the Royal Academy. The tout ensemble on first entrance is most imposing. The figures are, almost without exception, as large as life, and in many instances considerably larger; added to which Westminster Hall is of itself a most magnificent structure. The subjects are taken chiefly from English history, and a great part of them relate to the times of the ancient Britons and the introduction of Christianity. A full third of the exhibition (not to say more) is occupied by subjects from Milton. There are also a great many from Shakespear and Spenser, a few foreign subjects, and one or two national allegories. Scriptural subjects were I believe excluded; however that may be, not one has made its appearance on the walls. The plan of the exhibition was as follows: Whatever cartoons were sent in (so long as they belonged to the class of subjects specified in the prospectuses— viz., history or some great English author) the Committee promised to exhibit them; and, in proof of the strict manner in which they have kept their word, a quantity of abominations have been hung up which are a disgrace to British Art,
I will now mention a few of those which particularly elicited my admiration. The three which are perhaps generally thought the most of are: The Landing of Julius Cæsar in Britain and his Opposition by the Natives , by Armitage; Caractacus led captive through the Streets of Rome, by Watts; and Boadicea
I find that I have not room to dilate any further on the merits of the individual cartoons, as I had intended, and so I must finish with a few general remarks. Taken on the whole, this exhibition may be considered as a proof that High Art and high talent are not confined to the Continent. The common accusation brought against British painters cannot be brought forward here with any show of reason. The accusation to which I allude is that the English clothe their figures too much; that they conceal their ignorance of anatomy by working up satin and jewels and cloth of gold to the highest state of finish; and thus, by forcing the spectator as it were to admire these outside ornaments, cause him to overlook the want of correct drawing. Here, however, such artifices are utterly out of the question. In the first place, the absence of colour renders it impossible that such stratagems should be resorted to; and in the second place, the subjects (principally taken from Milton and the early English history) make the naked figure positively necessary,
I shall now relinquish this topic, fearing that I may perhaps have tired you, although it is so interesting to me that I can scarcely imagine that it is not equally so to everybody else. I will now proceed to what little other news I have in store.
I have, since I wrote last, drawn some more bones, as well as an entire skeleton. I am now engaged on an outline of the Hercules. There have been two meetings of the Sketching Club since your departure, for which I have made three drawings, one of which was the Death of Marmion , and the other two were of the same subject—viz., The old Soldier relating his battles to the Parson, from The Deserted Village. One of the two which I made for this subject is the most finished and perhaps the best pen-and-ink drawing which I have ever executed. I have given them both to the Cavaliere, who seemed to like them very much. The next subject is to be the Parting of two Lovers, unspecified and indefinite, which I intend to treat in several different manners, and to get up in prime style.
I have just finished Ten Thousand a Year, which is indeed one of the most splendid works (not to say the most splendid) which I ever read. It is a most interesting story, and evidently written by a religious person. It relates almost entirely to a series of law proceedings (not, however, dry and disgusting ones), in which the author seems so much at home that I am convinced he must belong to the profession which
We received this morning Papa's letter of the 12th, which caused us, as you may well imagine, the greatest pleasure. Dr. Heimann, however, who came to-day to give
You wish me to inform you of my progress in drawing, and of the time at which I hope to become a student of the Academy. Upon the first point I answer that I have finished the outline of the Hercules, and drawn the anatomy- figure. I am now engaged on a finished drawing of the Antinous, which, supposing it to prove good enough, I may perhaps send in to the Academy. The next opportunity for so doing will be at Christmas, when I may probably try, though certainly not unless I feel sure of success, for a rejection is a thing I should by no means relish. Besides this there are other matters to be attended to; for, even granted that in the first instance I am admitted, still this is not all. Every successful candidate is required to execute a second drawing, in order to prove that the merit of the first is entirely his own. Added to which he must make drawings of the anatomy-figure and of the skeleton, in any of which if he fail he ceases to be a student; and very few have the courage to venture on a second trial after the disgrace of a rejection. Having considered these things, I shall certainly decline making the attempt at Christmas unless by that time I shall be fully competent to the ordeal; my knowledge of anatomy, in spite of my efforts at improvement, being at present less than imperfect. I intend to commence drawing at home from those casts which I possess, and thus endeavour to get into the habit of working without assistance of any kind. For this purpose I shall want an easel, since I have lately been so accustomed to use one that I find it impossible now to draw otherwise. It is a thing that I must have sooner or later, and it is not so expensive as I supposed, since I find that a very decent one can be got for five shillings.
The Sketching Club continues, and I derive great improvement from it. The subjects I have drawn since I last wrote to you are: The Parting of Two (indefinite) Lovers , for which I made no less than six different drawings, which may perhaps take rank as my best sketches; The Death of Virginia , which, being lazy, I am ashamed to confess I copied from Pistrucci; and Orlando and Adam in the Forest , which I have prepared for the day after to-morrow, being the next club-day. It will then be my turn to propose the new subject, and I have fixed upon Minotti firing the Train from the Siege of Corinth.
The Illustrated Scrap-book continues swimmingly. It improves with every number. Of the number on which William and myself are at present employed I am particularly proud. It contains some of my choicest specimens of sketching. Its pages are likewise adorned with two poetic effusions by Christina, the one entitled Rosalind and the other Corydon's Resolution, both of which are very good, especially the latter, which elicited the warm admiration of Dr. Heimann. Maria has also authorized me to insert in the victorious Scrap-book her Vision of Human Life, originally written for the fallen Hodge-podge, the ”weekly efforts” contained in which have I fear given their last gasp, since not a single perfect number has appeared since your departure.
William has written an enormous quantity of Ulfred the Saxon, which increases in interest as it proceeds. His description of the battle of Hastings and death of Harold is acknowledged by every one to be excellent.
I have not written anything new lately except a third chapter of Sorrentino ; an unfortunate work, the tribulations whereof have been so many and so great that, if the approbation of others were the only encouragement to an author to continue his literary labours, the romance in question would long since have found its way behind the grate. The new chapter has not been more fortunate than its predecessors, since Maria eschews it and obstinately refuses to hear it, under the impression that it is “horrible”. No one however pretends to deny that it is my chef-d'œuvre, an opinion in
I have finished reading Earnest Maltravers, which is indeed a splendid work. I also began Alice, or The Mysteries, but could get no further than the first two or three chapters, so stupid did I find it. As to the indecent books which you speak of in your last letter to me (and of which report I find that Aunt Margaret was the origin), I am completely in the dark, since I have not read a single volume, except those of which I have spoken to you, from the day of your departure up to the time at which she wrote. I really wish that Aunt Margaret would refrain from circulating such falsehoods.— On enquiry I have succeeded in eliciting that the origin of all this was my having hinted at a vague intention of purchasing at some indefinite period the works of Shelley—which I should peruse solely on account of the splendid versification, and not from any love of his atheistical sentiments.
I arrived here yesterday a little before six, after having suffered considerably during the voyage. Fortunately for me the weather has suddenly become fine, after having been very rough for a considerable time. I like Boulogne exceedingly, but I am, if possible, yet more pleased with the Maenza family. They are some of the kindest people I ever knew. I find that Peppino's tastes coincide in every respect with mine. He draws splendidly, and is very fond of poetry, especially Byron.
It is now exactly a week since I arrived in Boulogne. I like the place exceedingly. The views are most beautiful,
My gigantic literary pursuits . . . have prompted me to write a new Romance, which I have already commenced, and which Peppino has undertaken to illustrate. I have made several purchases here, both of books and prints. Among others I have bought Bulwer's Leila, or the Siege of Granada, Calderon the Courtier, and The Lady of Lyons, all in one volume—which I purchased, entirely new and uncut, for two shillings; their price in England, exclusive of the last-named work, being fourteen shillings. I shall however be obliged to smuggle it in under my coat, since I hear that they do not allow French editions of English works to enter the latter country. The other day I went out with Peppino for the purpose of taking a view, but the wind was so high that we found it impossible to draw, and were forced to retreat from the scene of action.
Mr. Maenza has been reading Papa's Beatrice, which he admires very much. My Ballad has also been read, and received the necessary amount of compliments. I find that Mr. M[aenza] is a great admirer of English literature, and is particularly well-acquainted with Byron. I have been reading here The Deformed Transformed by that author, which is a strange drama relative to the Siege of Rome by Bourbon the Constable of France. It is perhaps not equal to many of his works, but nevertheless contains some sublime passages, particularly a quantity of songs and choruses. They have some most splendid books in this house, one of which is a Molière, illustrated by Tony Johannot in a manner so exquisitely comic that it almost made me split my sides with laughing. La Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Monsieur de Pourceaugnac are particularly fine.
I was much grieved yesterday evening on receiving Mamma's letter, and no less ashamed of myself for my unpardonable neglect in not enquiring after your health. I assure you, and I hope you will believe me, that it seems as unkind to myself, now that I reflect upon it, as it possibly can to you. Nevertheless I cannot imagine that you, who have hitherto enjoyed such excellent sight, are now about to be deprived of it. Had this defect of vision come over you when in a perfect state of health, I should certainly have entertained great fears that you were about to become blind; but, as it is, I cannot but hope, and even trust, that it is merely a temporary consequence of the weakness attendant on your long illness. Did you represent this to Mr. Lawrence, and if so did he not lay some weight upon it?
Mr. Maenza agrees with me on this point. He told me of a woman he knew—and who is still living in Boulogne—who had been given over by the doctors as completely blind, but who, in spite of this, recovered naturally in a short time, and sees now, and has for years, as well as he does.
Nevertheless this belief which I venture to entertain cannot prevent me from feeling great anxiety and uneasiness on your account. You say that William is unhappy; can you believe that I am less so? I assure you that Mamma's letter has made me very dull; it does not contain one single piece of good news. . . . The only good I can gather from the letter is that, as Mamma does not mention the state of your health in other respects, I presume that the illness has entirely left you.
As to my own health, which you so kindly enquire after, I am convinced that you will scarcely recognize me on my return. . . . I now feel better than ever I did in my life. Mrs. Maenza says she should not know me for the same
To conclude: the whole family join in affectionate regards and confident hopes for your recovery with
I received yesterday evening your unsightly missive containing the two Chuzzlewits, which were much admired. They greeted Mr. Maenza and myself on our return from an evening walk, during which we met the postman, who informed us that he had left a “gros paquet” at our house, which proved on inspection to be your epistolary eyesore.
The only passages in Byron's mad drama which have left any impression on my mind are the battle-choruses, which are sublime, and the last scene, which is lively and spirited. It was never finished.
I walk out here a great deal, gloating over all manner of Gavarnis, Johannots, Nanteuils, and other delicacies. I have got a large advertisement of the Beautés de l'Opéra, containing a cut by the last-named artist, as fine as anything in the Tasso. I begin already to feel better here. The weather is cold, but clear and beautiful. None of the filthy vapours— half-fog, half-smoke—through which you are doubtless endeavouring to decipher my epistle, while a poetical mind might figure forth the sun ”taking a sight” at you—his face twisted into that comical expression which Phiz is in the habit of inflicting upon him.
Our house is in a most beautiful situation. The window of what Mrs. Wood would call our “salon” looks out upon the market, which Mamma doubtless remembers, and whose pretty groups of pretty girls are at this moment regaling my eye.
Boulogne is certainly, as Mr. Maenza says, a splendid place for an artist. The evening before last Mr. Maenza and I walked about the principal church of the town during mass or vespers or whatever they call it. What between the fine old Gothic interior, adorned with pictures and images of saints—the music and the chanting—the magnificent groups of old fishwomen, whose intense devotion has in it something sublime—and the ”dim religious light” of the lamps placed against the Gothic pillars, which glimmered faintly up and struggled through the gathering darkness—the scene was so solemn and impressive that Maria (whom I wished for much) might have gone a Protestant, but would most certainly have returned a Catholic.
I was talking with Mr. Maenza the other day about Papa's poems, and I mentioned among others Minaccioso l'Arcangel di Guerra, which I find he has not seen. Would Papa be so kind (if he does not mind the postage) as to forward me a copy, should any remain?
Franconi is here, with his manège, which we intend visiting —perhaps to-night. Conspicuous likewise among the fashionable arrivals stands that wandering Spaniard, that dramatic cholera, the accursed De Bazan.
Do not tell me how Sue's novel goes on, since I do not wish to have it stale on my return. Does Papa continue to like it, and was he not pleased with the scene where Gabriel “flayres uppe” so strong?
Is the Barbe-bleue finished? If so, not a word about the end.
Tell the Cavaliere (whom I often remember) that I left his parcel at Lady Hartwell's door, and should have delivered it in person but for the best of reasons—that she was not at home.
I am glad that Papa's eyes are no worse. How is Grandpapa, how is Aunt Charlotte, and how are all the family?
I have bought several things here. Among others I picked up yesterday for fifteen sous (7 1/2 d. English) no less than five coloured Gavarnis, being three Enfants Terribles, one Fourberies de Femmes, and one Étudiants de Paris—all splendid specimens, and which usually sell at a franc apiece. I have likewise got six numbers of Johannot's Don Quixote, which is actually being re-issued at four sous the number! I have likewise got several of the Voyage, and ordered the rest. I have got several other things, but must defer mentioning them for want of space.
Remember me most extra especially to those real friends the Heimanns, and tell the Doctor that I shall write to him as soon as I have the slightest pretence for so doing.
Love to all the family, including the Barone and Cavaliere, and (if you see them) Sangiovanni and Pistrucci.
Mr. and Mrs. Maenza salute you all warmly.
P.S.—Looking over some of Peppino's sketches to-day I found one which he made of me last year, and which I begged for Mamma, thinking she might care to have it.
I hope that you will excuse my writing this letter in English, but my Italian is so “stentato” [strained] that, although perhaps, when finished, it may be passably decent, still the labour of composing in a language in which I am so imperfect is an agony that I would willingly avoid.
I was much grieved to hear that your sight had deteriorated, especially as I had hoped that what remained was almost secure. Have you consulted the German you mentioned? and, if so, would you tell William or somebody to write to me as soon as possible on the subject? Mr. Maenza, who will contribute his part to this letter, is of opinion that Paris is the best place for the treatment of your malady. I fear you must have thought me very remiss in not writing sooner. I should have done so, had I had anything to say which I thought would interest you. In fact I have not much even now, and only write to avoid the appearance of having forgotten you.
My health continues good, with the exception of the toothache—which however confines itself to meal-times. I go out as much as the cold permits me, which, between wind and frost, is biting in these parts. There are no beastly
After much racking of the brains I am sorry to find that this first piece of news is likewise the last. I have therefore only to forward you Mrs. Maenza's kind remembrances (letting Mr. M[aenza] speak for himself), and [to beg] that you will deliver that valuable article, my love, to all friends at home, keeping a large portion for yourself and Mamma.
Following your example, I hasten, as in duty bound, to acquit me of the commission contained in your last. I have enquired at the two principal shops in the town for Ragon's Cours Philosophique, and find that neither of them has got it. Ask Cavalier Mortara whether or not he wishes me to order it from Paris.
I am glad to say that the weather has changed since Saturday, and that the cold is no longer so severe. On Sunday I spent a most agreeable day in the country at the house of a friend who lives about five or six miles from Boulogne
I have been reading George Sand's Horace and Paul de Kock's Ce Monsieur. As regards the first, it certainly contains some splendid and even sublime pieces of writing; but it is full of Saint Simonisme, communism, and sermons of all kinds, which render it both tedious and disgusting. Besides which, there is a great deal of French sentimentalism, and not a single possible character or probable incident. Ce Monsieur, as you may imagine, is glorious from title-page to finis. After all, Paul de Kock is unquestionably the most amusing and the most natural of the novelists. The interest of his works never flags for a moment, and even his pathetic scenes are perfectly true and unaffected. To-day or to-morrow I shall get another by the same author. Should you wish to see a more extended critique on these two works, you may look for it in a letter which I wrote yesterday to Dr. Heimann, wherein I have set forth my opinion at greater length.
I will tell you a few of my purchases. Imprimis seven heads in lithography by Gavarni, which I got cheap at the same shop as the others I told you of. Item, Contes des Fées par Perrault. This little book contains all our old friends, Blue-beard, Cinderella, etc., which I find were originally written by one Charles Perrault, born in 1633. It is full of most exquisite cuts, by Nanteuil, Devéria, Giraud, and, though last not least, a man of the name of Thomas, who is as fine as anybody I know. The misfortune is that, as they are published very cheap in order I suppose to be within the reach of every child, the cuts are printed on the same paper as a little book called the Tour de Nesle, which, as you doubtless remember, I bought last year, and many of the impressions are consequently completely ruined. Nevertheless they will be a capital acquisition for our scrap-book. Item, twelve more numbers of Don Quixote. Item, some numbers of the Musée Philipon, full of first-rate Chams, Grandvilles, and Daumiers, and containing even a few most sublime Gavarnis.
There are a few other things, to see which you must, in the words of Scripture, “tarry till I come.”
By-the-bye, you give me a long account of some Phizes; but you omit something even more interesting—namely, a description of the last Diables and Juif.
Have you seen lately anything of our friend Gilbert, or procured any of his works? I hope his style continues in good health.
Get in Wellington Street the Illustration for Sunday 8 December, being the one before last. I could not procure a copy in this place, they being all sold. It contains some capital Chams, some excellent Bertalls, and two or three landscapes by Calame of rather a sublime character.
You remember two or three cuts in our portfolio signed P.S.G. The name, I find, is Saint-Germain. The other day I actually saw, in a barber's shop on the port, some of the finest cuts from Vernet's Napoleon (among others, the Kremlin and the Battle of Wagram) cut out and pasted on some bottles of eau-de-Cologne. My blood boils within me as I write it.
The other night I went to Franconi's to see the horsemanship. It certainly beats our Astley's. Franconi is the very image of the Duke of Wellington. There was a horse which danced the polka.
I have got the rest of the Voyage with the exception of one number. Unfortunately I do not know which it is. On my return however I shall endeavour to find out by reference to the numbers I bought last year, and shall order it accordingly.
I trust that Papa's sight has improved, or at least remains stationary. Mr. Maenza greatly admired the Canto Marziale, and was particularly delighted with the lines commencing “Sette siri ci colman di mali.” I have a favour to ask for him as soon as I return to London.It is that Papa will make me a present of a Salterio for —, 1 who admires his
1The name has been torn off—perhaps Siesto.
We are still expecting Peppino. I anticipate his advent with great pleasure, since he will be a wonderful acquisition in the way of cheerfulness.
Love to all, especially Mamma. Love likewise from Mr. and Mrs. Maenza.
P.S.—Is Maria yet arrived?
About a couple of hours ago I received your letter, and hasten to answer it. My health improves daily, so much so that yesterday and to-day I have been able to go out. The pustules have almost entirely disappeared, my eyes have not suffered in the least, and I feel much stronger. There is not the least necessity for my staying here after the present week. I shall return (by Folkestone, which the Doctor tells me is necessary) on Saturday or Sunday. He (Dr. R.) says there is not the slightest danger of contagion.
I am sorry to say that we are all invalids here, inasmuch as Mrs. Maenza has a violent cold, and Mr. Maenza (who has been unwell in one way or another ever since my arrival) has been seized to-day with a pain in the leg, which troubles him much and almost prevents his walking. Both wish to be remembered to you, and the former says that she should have made it a duty to answer your letter, had she not been ill.
Did you not think Peppino greatly improved? We have
Being afraid, dear Mamma, that any news I might have to tell would not be of a nature to interest you, I shall address it instead to William; hoping to see you all very soon, and begging you to believe me
I was rejoiced to hear of the prospect of employment which has opened for you. Let us hope that it will be permanent.
Did Peppino show you his Gavarni book? If so, vous m'en direz des nouvelles on my return. If not, you will soon be able to console yourself with the store of treasures to be laid before your admiring eyes on the aforesaid occasion.
I have read several books lately, the principal ones being: M. Dupont, by Paul de Kock; Les Jolies Filles, by Langon and Touchard; and Colomba and other tales, by Prosper Mérimée. The first is excellent, of course, though not so good as some by the same author. The second is a combination of extreme stupidity with the highest pitch of disgusting obscenity.
As regards Colomba, it is perfectly sublime. There is about it a manly and vigorous style which has seldom indeed been equalled. It contains likewise some Corsican ballads, exactly in the style of the old English poetry; one of which in particular pleased me so much that I took the trouble of translating it. It is, I am sorry to say, a fragment, consisting of a very few verses. Among the other tales in the same volume there is a supernatural one, called La Vénus d'Ille, which is unutterably fine.
I have read several other things: among the rest, a poem by Barthélémy entitled L'Art de Fumer, carried through three cantos with a most amusing cheek.
I have bagged a few sketches of Peppino's, with which I am sure you will be greatly pleased. Certainly, as long as he keeps to Nature, his powers are perfectly gigantic.
Having no more room, believe me
Accompanying this is a letter from Mr. L., which has just come in time to send. The stupid seal alluded to we retain, as unworthy of carriage expenses. As to the nonsense about Christina's Verses, I should advise her to console herself with the inward sense of superiority (assuring her moreover that she will not be the first who has been driven time after time to the same alternative), and to consign the fool and his folly to that utter mental oblivion to the which, I doubt not, she has long ago consigned all those who have been too much honoured by the gift of her book.
I hope you told Lady Charles that that poor Maggy is not to be bullied and badgered out of her life by a lot of beastly brats; and that Lady C[harles] fully understands the same, and has already provided the said Maggy with a bamboo.
You do not say a word of your own return, although you cannot but know how anxious we are on the subject.
While William was away two tickets came from Maroncelli (directed to Christina) for a concert, where Jenny Lind sang her Swedish songs and several other things. As I abhor concerts, I gave them to the Heimanns, who, it appears, were greatly pleased. There was a hymn sung, with choruses, in honour of Pio Nono. I suppose you have not heard that the Austrians have been forced by a general rising to retreat from Ferrara. The papers also affirm, as a certain fact, that the Pope has said that, if this unjustifiable interference is continued, he shall first make a protest to all the Sovereigns of Europe against Austria; that, in case this should fail, he will excommunicate both Emperor and people; and that, when driven to the last extremity, he will himself ride in the van of his own army with the sword and the Cross, and that then five millions of Christians shall rise and follow him.
It is now several days since I received a very kind letter of yours, but it is not till now that I have been able to decide in my own mind whether or not I had any right to accept the offer it contains. I have at length resolved to do so; and to this resolution I shall add no mere expression of a gratitude which I shall best prove by profiting as much as possible by the opportunity you so generously place within my reach. Nor do I forget that this is not the first time I have been equally indebted to you.
The motive which has induced me to lay myself under so great an obligation to you is the knowledge that, unless I obtain by some means the advantage which you have offered me, my artistic career will be incalculably retarded, if not
I dare say you will have thought my long silence strange enough. The fact is that, when I wrote to Mr. Ford Brown (one of the artists to whom I alluded in my last), I affixed to my note the address which I found in the Exhibition Catalogue; but it turns out that he has moved since the last time he exhibited, so that my letter probably wandered about before reaching him. When he got it however he called on me, and requested that I would go down to his
On Monday evening next I shall join the academy in question. At the same time I shall of course settle respecting terms etc., whereof I will immediately render you cognizant.
Meanwhile, believe me, my dear Aunt, with renewed thanks,
For the whole of the past week I have been afflicted with a return of my old atrocious boils, which has effectually precluded the possibility of my stirring out. Of this, however, I dare say you have already been informed by Mamma, who thinks everybody's illnesses of consequence except her own. It was therefore not till last night that I was enabled to join the Maddox Street Academy, according to the recommendation of Mr. Ford Brown. I find that the terms are half-a-guinea monthly—rather more than I had been led to believe. However, as you had made me so kind an offer, I thought that I should not be exceeding the bounds of moderation in joining, which I did. In order to pay for the first month I was obliged to inform Mamma of our correspondence and its object; so that it will now be as well to forward to her, instead of to me, the half-guinea in question, which she disbursed. For all this I will not repeat my thanks, because it would perhaps appear an affectation, but I hope you will believe me nevertheless not ungrateful. The academy is a capital one. The hours are from seven to ten in the evening, and the model sits four times a week.
Notwithstanding illness, I have been for some days in a state of considerable exhilaration. Not long ago I sent some poems of mine to Leigh Hunt, requesting him to read them, and tell me if they were worth anything. His answer is so flattering that I cannot quote any part of it, lest it should seem like conceit. Moreover, he requests me, as soon as he has moved into another house (by reason of which removal he is at present in some bustle and confusion), to “give him the pleasure of my acquaintance”!!!!
Ever since I received your last letter (which I fear is very long ago) I have kept it lying on my table as a memento. The fact is that I should have answered it long ago, had I not wished my answer to be accompanied by the poem which I enclose, and which wanted a few finishing touches, which I have at last found time to give it. It is the one of my precious performances which is, I think, the most likely to please you as to style and subject. All the others are of course completely at your service, and shall be sent, if you so desire, immediately upon an intimation from you to that effect. I only refrain from doing so till then because I do not wish you to pay a heavy postage for things of such a little value. I hope you will not be displeased at my adding that I should not wish the verses to be seen by any one but yourself, as I think an unpublished poet is always rather a ridiculous character to appear in before strangers.
Where Hunt, in his kind letter, speaks of my “Dantesque heavens,” he refers to one or two of the poems the scene of which is laid in the celestial regions, and which are written in a kind of Gothic manner which I suppose he is pleased to think belongs to the school of Dante. The other word about which you ask me I read as you do— viz., “round.”
I continue going to the Life-school in Maddox Street, where I enjoy my studies much. During the day I paint at Mr. Brown's, who is an invaluable acquisition to me as regards the art, and moreover a most delightful friend. We are already quite confidential. His kindness, and the trouble he takes about me, are really astonishing; I cannot imagine what I have done to deserve them. Yesterday I showed him some of my poetical productions, which he seemed to
like much, especially the one I send you. Indeed I think myself that it is perhaps my best thing as yet, being more simple and like nature.
I write to you because I have a half-hour to spare and nothing else to do. If, being in the same predicament, you happen to answer, tell me what you do at dreary snobbish Brighton; and, if you have written anything, send me a copy. I have not scribbled a line, but think of shirking the studio to-day, and doing so. I have made a study for the colour of my picture, but, not being quite satisfied therewith, am trying a second. I have also made a nude study for the figure of St. Anne. Hunt and I are now settled down quite comfortably, and he is engaged on the preliminaries for his picture of Rienzi .
I have not yet had time to get quite through the first volume of Keats, which is exceedingly interesting. He seems to have been a glorious fellow, and says in one place (to my great delight) that, having just looked over a folio of the first and second schools of Italian painting, he has come to
I picked up the other day for sixpence a book I had long wished to see, called An Exposition of the False Medium and Barriers precluding Men of Genius from the Public . It is well worth a perusal, and makes mention of Joseph and the Stories. The date of publication is 1833.
Hunt and I went the other night to Woolner's, where we composed a poem of twenty-four stanzas on the alternate system. I transcribe the last stanza, which was mine, to show you the style of thing:—
I saw your Mackay song, which is not at all bad. The other thing very poor. . . .
Our next literary meeting, as you will remember, comes off next Saturday. If you can be there, it will be all the better. Does Christina write? Love to Mamma etc.
First, of the sonnets. I grinned tremendously over Christina's Plague, which however is forcible, and has something good in it. Her other is first-rate. Pray impress upon her that this, and the one commencing “Methinks the ills of life”, are as good as anything she has written, and well worthy of revision. Of your own, The Completed Soul and The Shadow of the Flower (as I should laconize it) are admirable. “I drink deep-throated of the life of life,” splendid. The Great Gulf Betwixt, and The Holy of Holies, are also very good, though a shade less so. I do not think you have improved The One Dark Shade; touching which, moreover, I hereby solemnly declare that “The trees waving which breezes seem to woo” is no verse at all, and should say “The waving trees.” Let me earnestly assure you that this is the fact. As for Thither, you will never make sense of that till you cut away the simile about the poet. If you have written anything since, send it in your answer, which make as speedy as possible, as I am awfully low and want something to stir me up.
I have not read a line of anything since I wrote, and of course therefore have not finished Keats. I dare say, after all, you will have read it before I shall. The only book I have picked up is L. E. L.'s Improvisatrice, for which I gave ninepence. By-the-bye, have you got her Violet and Bracelet with you? I cannot find them in our library.
There was no meeting of the Literary Society on Saturday. Collinson was at the Isle of Wight (whither I did not go with him), Hancock also out of town, and Deverell of course anywhere but where he ought to be. He explained his former absence by saying two engagements kept him away, he having otherwise prepared a dramatic scene for the occasion. This I have not yet inspected; but he sent me the other day a poem, something about a distressingly ideal poet yearning for the insane, which is not quite so incongruous, and contained one or two good things.
Munro has not been to Brighton; but the other day, in London, he fancied he saw you on the top of an omnibus. As he is a Scotchman, this is dangerous, or rather encouraging. There can be no doubt that one at least is to die. Pray to God that it may be you.
Apropos of death, Hunt and I are going to get up among our acquaintance a Mutual Suicide Association, by the regulations whereof any member, being weary of life, may call at any time upon another to cut his throat for him. It is all of course to be done very quietly, without weeping or gnashing of teeth. I, for instance, am to go in and say, “I say, Hunt, just stop painting that head a minute, and cut my throat”; to which he will respond by telling the model to keep the position as he shall only be a moment, and having done his duty, will proceed with the painting.
The Cyclographic gets on fast. From discontent it has already reached conspiracy. There will soon be a blow-up somewhere.
Hunt and I have prepared a list of Immortals, forming our creed, and to be pasted up in our study for the affixing of all decent fellows' signatures. It has already caused considerable horror among our acquaintance. I suppose we shall have to keep a hair-brush. The list contains four distinct classes of Immortality; in the first of which three stars are attached to each name, in the second two, in the third one, and in the fourth none. The first class consists only of Jesus Christ and Shakespear. We are also about to transcribe various passages from our poets, together with forcible and correct sentiments, to be stuck up about the walls.
The night before last I sat up and made a design of Coleridge's Genevieve, which is certainly the best thing I have done. It took me from eleven to six in the morning. I have also designed very carefully Hist, said Kate the Queen , which has come well. I made the other day a small sketch for the Death of Marmion , which I mean to do larger, as it is a fine subject in spite of the muffs. I have not written a line.
I went the other night to see Lucrezia at Covent Garden. Grisi is most tremendous, and Alboni's song, with the funeral chaunt between the stanzas, very fine—in fact, the whole of the last scene is tremendous, as is also the denunciation at the end of the first act. In this Grisi screamed continuously for about two minutes, and was immense. We must go and see it together. Love to all.
William having suggested that you might perhaps like a note from me, I hasten to send you the same, which I would have done before, had I possessed any news which I thought would interest you. At present indeed I have not a jot more than then, except of that class which William gloats over, and all others scorn. This accordingly I must proceed to retail.
I have returned this minute from the Queen's Theatre in Tottenham Street, whither I went with Collinson and Clifton to witness a profoundly intense drama entitled Kæuba the Pirate Vessel, wherein are served up a British sailor and other dainties. One of the pirates wore trouser-straps—which I thought was a touch of nature, considering.
Have you seen Christina's and William's rhyme-sonnets? The second of C[hristina]'s is really good, so is the second of William's. His third is also good, but for the strange word “queer,” wherein I recognize the influence of Christina's powerful mind. His fourth has some very good lines, but is wretched nonsense as it stands.
By-the-bye, I will transcribe you a howling canticle written by me yesterday—in what agony of tears let the style suggest. I hereby declare that if snobbishness consists in the assumption
The folio of the great Cyclographic continues its rounds. It is now with Collinson. Calling on him this morning, and finding that he had no sketch ready and did not mean to make one, I designed an angular saint, which we mean to send round under his name, to the mystification and sore disgust, no doubt, of the members in general. I expect we shall end by getting kicked out. The criticisms are becoming more and more scurrilous. Dennis has helped them materially in their downward course by telling Deverell that his last design is a re-version from Retzsch's outline of the same subject.
Collinson has almost finished his poem of The Child Jesus . It is a very first-rate affair. He has augmented it with two new incidents, by which addition it is now made emblematical of the “five sorrowful mysteries” of the Atonement. He thinks of leaving to-morrow for Herne Bay, with the intention of remaining there a few days. I may perhaps accompany him, but have not yet quite decided.
Having exhausted everything, believe me, dear Mamma,
Will you tell William that our literary criticisms have not yet commenced? I see no reason why he should not retain “grey meadows.”
I believe Collinson's brother has a subscription library. It has just struck me that he may possibly possess the Stories after Nature, or at least know where we might be likely to obtain a copy. I therefore write without delay, in order that you may make diligent enquiry on the subject.
I wrote yesterday the subjoined sonnet touching my picture, for the catalogue. You are going, I believe, to write to Christina, and can then tell me how you like it. I do not quite relish the fourth line, neither am I certain about “strong in grave peace”. You will perhaps remember that in a translation of mine from Mamiani there is the expression “An angel-watered plant”. This is not in Mamiani at all, but was my own addition, and therefore of course at my free disposal. I have here used it in allusion to the allegory of the picture.
Have you written anything or found a castle yet? St. Anne's head in my picture has succeeded beyond my expectations.
Commend me to Collinson—that is, if he is in a good humour; and remember that I am
I am much obliged to you for your note of yesterday, which I would have answered before this morning if my time had been less taken up.
As my picture this year has created some interest, it is desirable that I should come before the public next year as prominently as possible, so as to succeed in establishing at once some degree of reputation. I am therefore about to commence immediately another work, hoping thus to get two done before the next exhibition— one of some size, and another smaller. For this purpose I am now engaged on making drawings. These things considered, I should be unwilling to endanger my chance of finishing two pictures by employing my time on portraits, unless the latter were really to compensate me by a good remuneration.
My terms therefore would be as follows:—
For a small full-length in chalks (18 inches by 15 or thereabouts), £5 5 s.
For a small portrait in oil, like the one Collinson did of Christina, £8 8 s.
For a larger portrait in oil, the price would be proportionate according to the size.
I do not take miniatures; and, as to the number of sittings, that must of course depend in a great measure on the patience of the sitter. Moreover, as I have not much practice in portraits, I cannot be positive in that matter.
Should these terms prove too high (as I almost anticipate
The other day I went to the Free Exhibition, with Millais, Hunt, and two or three other friends; and we remarked one of the critics of the Art-Union journal standing before my picture for a quarter of an hour at least. I therefore anticipate, on the first of next month, to be either praised or regularly cut up in that paper. As the paper is very influential, I hope it will be the former. I have already been approved by the only two other journals whose opinion goes for anything in matters of art—the Athenæum and the Builder. As soon as the Art-Union makes its appearance I will take care that you are apprized of its contents in my regard, as I have reason to know of old how much kind interest you take in my unworthy self.
Mamma and the rest desire me to send you their loves with my own, with which valuable missive I remain
Have you written any more poetry?
Feeling utter disgust at everything, I sit down to write to you, hoping thereby to get myself into a philosophical frame of mind. I ought to have written before, having somewhat to say, but in the daytime the awful bore confronted me in too glaring a manner. It doesn't show (so much) at night. This filthy joke is as a mill-stone round the neck of my spirit, to sink it to the lowest abyss of degradation, whence (having no further to descend) it can now indite this epistle in a mood of sullen calmness.
I believe we have found a publisher for the Magazine— viz., Aylott and Jones, 8 Paternoster Row. I was introduced to them about a week back by a printer, a friend of
Stephens is writing for the first number an article on Early Art which I have not seen. Hunt is at his etching; he is now tremendously agog about the thing. I know not exactly when we shall start on our tour—probably next week. The
The other night I was at Dickinson's, where I met Williams, who has lent me a tale by Wells not contained in the Stories after Nature; as also a poem by Linton on the affairs of Rome. I have not yet read it.
I have done but little in any way, having wasted several days at the Museum, where I have been reading up all manner of old romaunts, to pitch upon stunning words for poetry. I have found several, and also derived much enjoyment from the things themselves, some of which are tremendously fine. I have copied out an exquisite little ballad, quoted in the preface to one of the collections.
I bought the other day the original editions of the lyrical numbers of the Bells and Pomegranates, which you remember contain variations; also Horne's Orion (original edition) and Death of Marlowe; also (for 5 s.) a translation, in two volumes, of the Gesta Romanorum—a book I had long wished to possess. I was however rather disappointed, having expected to find lots of glorious stories for poems. Four or five good ones there are; one of which (which I have entitled The Scrip and Staff) I have considerably altered, and enclose for your opinion, together with another plot of my own devising. Both of these I contemplate versifying when free of existing nightmares. Tell me what you think thereof; and please to return them with your answer, as I may want them. Let me also have Collinson's verdict. I have only written twelve stanzas of Bride-Chamber Talk since your departure; but hope to get through some more to-night before going to bed.
I want to know all about your poem—what the plot is, and how much you have written. By-the-bye, I added three stanzas yesterday to My Sister's Sleep , which I think were wanted as stop-gaps. I wish if possible to have this in No. 1.
What is Collinson after? I suppose (ahem!) he works like a horse; of course I mean a Jerusalem pony. I hope to follow up this delicate compliment with a letter as soon
P.S.—Going downstairs to get your address, I find Collinson there, whose projected return I had quite forgotten. He has given me a vagueish notion of what you are writing. Let me hear from you immediately, as Woolner and I are going forthwith into the country somewhere for a few days, and, if accounts are good, the vine-branches of your rhetoric might induce us to go up into the land and possess it with you.
Coming to Woolner's at the moment of his receiving your last, I undertake (in consequence of a miserable prostration produced in him by unmanly sloth) to answer it for him.
In the matter of editorship, your objections are, I think, set at rest by the fact that we have excluded from the title the words “Conducted by Artists.” You are thus on exactly the same footing as all other contributors. The publishers (whose names appear in the prospectus) are Messrs. Aylott and Jones, who were found on enquiry to be highly respectable. The prospectus is now at the printer's, and in a day or two I expect to send you a copy. Patmore, to whom it
You seem to be getting on like fury with your poem. How the deuce can you manage to do 103 lines in a day? I agree however with Woolner as regards your surgeon, who is a wretched sneak—quite a sniggering squelch of a fellow. Do something, by all means, to pull him out of his present mire.
For my part I have done scarcely anything—having been sadly knocked about in the matter of this prospectus and other bores. I wrote last night to W. B. Scott, returning him his books, and saying that I should send him a prospectus of the Thoughts in a few days, with a request for contributions in the poetical or literary line.
I believe Hunt and self will start on Monday at the latest, so that I fear I may not see you. If you really think you will be up on Tuesday however, let me know, as I would then manage to defer our departure, and say good-bye to you personally. Moreover I long to hear your poem. I have done nothing to Hand and Soul . There is time however, as I believe the first number is to be delayed yet a month, in order to have it out at Christmas, which every one thinks desirable. November is at present in the prospectus; but when I get a proof I shall alter it to December. I was at Collinson's the other evening, and who seems to have been disgracefully lazy at the Isle of Wight. Seddon, who knows that ilk well, says that you should go on to a place called Niton, about six miles from Ventnor, and by far the best in the Island.
With respect to Woolner's poems, I can tell you that Patmore was stunned; the only defect he found being that they were a trifle too much in earnest in the passionate parts, and too sculpturesque generally. He means by this that each stanza stands too much alone, and has its own ideas too much to itself. I think you will agree with me in thinking this objection groundless, or at least irrelevant. Write soon.
I find that by delaying our departure I should be inconveniencing Hunt. I therefore start with him for France and Belgium on Thursday at half-past one, without going at all into the country with Woolner. Either going or on our return we shall visit Brittany, if possible, for the purpose of seeing Wells about his new edition.
Even should the prospectuses be all printed before I go, I am almost certain of not finding time to send any of them about. Would you therefore undertake this job on your return to town, sending to every friend you can possibly think of, as well as to all literary men and artists of anything like our own views? You must also look sharp about advertising, a certain amount of which is unfortunately indispensable.
I believe there is nothing more to be said. Farewell therefore till such time as I see you again.
Seddon is anxious to know whether you intend joining in the model at his place. When in town, just write him a word or two about this matter. A note to T. Seddon Esq. Jun., Gray's Inn Road, will reach him.
FOLKESTONE TO BOULOGNE.
“Darkness, as darkness itself, and as the shadow of death; without any order, and where the light is as darkness.”— Job.
“If ye know them, they are in the valley of the shadow of death.”— Ibid.
Send me your poem immediately, with no more delay than is quite unavoidable. Sit up all night copying, and send it. Copy it on thin large sheets in double columns (like my journal, which I posted the other day for the Isle of Wight, and which no doubt you can get by sending thither), and I have no doubt the postage will not be ruinous. I gather from the outside of your note that you paid 1 s. 3 d. for it in London; whereas Maria's (being, I presume, unpaid) reached me for sixteen sous. It is therefore evident that, unless the heavy postage was owing to the weight of your letter, it will be advisable to leave me to pay for letters. I presume that my journal (which, by-the-bye, is not in rhyme but in blank verse), as well as a joint letter from Hunt and self to Stephens and Woolner, will reach free of expense, as they were paid for here. Let me know about this, as it is as well to understand the postage. I should have paid for
I am obliged to write this on English note-paper, as Hunt has ruined the last sheet of French we possessed by endeavouring to concoct an undecipherable monogram of P.R.B. to be signed to passports etc. The paper however is very thin, and I think will not incur additional postage.
We have made the acquaintance here of two very nice French fellows, named Cotourrier and Levasseur. Perhaps Woolner remembers them as they do him. We climbed with them the other day to the very top of Notre Dame, whence we had a most glorious view of Paris, and shouted in the spirit. The Cathedral itself is inconceivably stunning, and contains most glorious things to put in pictures. While climbing, a sonnet came whole into my head, which however I have almost forgotten, owing to the hurry of the moment and the talk, I suppose. I am trying constantly to remember it, and will copy it in my next note if I succeed.
There is also a little English cove here of the name of Broadie, who is very obliging and really rather clever. We see him a good deal. . . .
I bought yesterday a great number of Gavarni's Charivari sketches at two sous each. I have no doubt of being able to pick up more. The number of book and print stalls is quite incredible. Hunt and I begin to like Paris immensely—the city itself, I mean.
At the Luxembourg there are the following really wonderful pictures—viz., two by Delaroche, two by Robert-Fleury, one by Ingres, one by Hesse; others by Scheffer, Granet, etc., are very good. The rest, with a few mediocre exceptions, we considered trash. Delacroix (except in two pictures which show a kind of savage genius) is a perfect beast, though almost worshipped here. The school of David got at first frightfully abused for making a stand against him on his appearance. They were quite right, being themselves greatly his superiors, and indeed some of them men who I have no doubt would have done much better in better times.
We ran hurriedly through the Louvre yesterday for the first time. Of course detail as yet is impossible, and indeed, to say the truth, there is a monosyllable current amongst us which enables a P.R.B. to dispense almost entirely with details on the subject. There is however a most wonderful copy of a fresco by Angelico, a tremendous Van Eyck, some mighty things by that real stunner Lionardo, some ineffably poetical Mantegnas (as different as day from night from what we have in England), several wonderful Early Christians whom nobody ever heard of, some tremendous portraits by some Venetian whose name I forget, and a stunning Francis I. by Titian. Géricault's Medusa is also very fine on the whole. We have not yet been through all the rooms. In one there is a ceiling by Ingres which contains some exceedingly good things. This fellow is quite unaccountable. One picture of his in the Luxembourg is unsurpassed for exquisite perfection by anything I have ever seen, and he has others there for which I would not give two sous—filthy slosh. I believe we have not yet seen any of Scheffer's best works. Delaroche's Hémicycle in the Beaux Arts is a marvellous performance. In the same place is a copy of Michelangelo's Judgment —an admirable copy, I believe, but one of the most comic performances I ever saw in my life.
Now for the best. Hunt and I solemnly decided that the most perfect works, taken in toto, that we have seen in our lives, are two pictures by Hippolyte Flandrin (representing Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, and his departure to death) in the Church of S. Germain des Prés. Wonderful! wonderful!! wonderful!!! Tell Hancock of this.
The arrival of your poem yesterday was about the best thing that has happened since my arrival here. I read it at once twice through, to the very great satisfaction of Hunt and myself. The points that we noted in any way especially I will now proceed to communicate. But first of all we both think that a better title might be found. I dare say you will manage to think of one.
I do not know if you remember that at the beginning of the
Eve of St. Mark there are the lines—
This is like the beginning of your poem; and, though of course the statement of a fact from observation cannot even be a reminiscence of what has been done before, still I think it is perhaps as well not to have at the very outset a line which some people might manage to draw conclusions from. The expression “fish flapping about” might I think be altered to something newer, and even more strikingly truthful.
The 2nd paragraph is excellent; the 3rd is good. In the speech of Harling (4th paragraph) I think some little bright detail might still be introduced to increase the force. The 5th is admirable—last line especially so. In the 6th the word rustling is rather old, and the last line a trifle common and awkward. In the 7th I see no necessity for second line, which I think makes too much of a trifling point in so serious a poem. Would not “Loosed itself and touched along his forehead” etc. be quite sufficient? Both Hunt and I thought you might alter “Something at a window”. It is rather melodramatic perhaps. “What was at a window” suggested itself to me, but I believe this is too Tennysonian. In the 8th I do not like the position of the man altogether; it seems a little violent. One can fancy some of the Adelphi people doing it. The 9th and 11th will do very well; the 10th is first-rate. In the 12th, I think (as they had been always in correspondence) that Harling might in some way allude to their letters—quite slightly of course, by a word. At present it seems rather abrupt, and at first looks as if they had known nothing whatever of each other for years. In the 13th the “Sir” belongs, as of course you must be aware, to the French school of ultra-metaphysics. 14th to 21st all capital. The last line of the 22nd appears to me scarcely in character with Grey. I have something of the same sort in my Bride-Chamber Talk , but I will have the
Now for the inquest. I do not think that “disclosures extraordinary” is the newspaper phrase, but “extraordinary disclosures.” If so, I would be careful to alter this, as it may be taken for a poetical inversion. “The worthy coroner” is a little strong; but I shall not argue this, as no doubt you consider it the hinge of the poem. At “accommodated with a chair” Hunt suggested “a seat” instead, as being a trifle less comic. “A something trembled at her lips” appears to me, on the other hand, too poetical for evidence. In my copy the line “So she assured that should come to pass” has had some syllable omitted by mistake, I suppose. There is one man in England who will understand the phrase “the living-up of her old love”: his name is Alfred Tennyson. If you write for any other Englishman, this must be cut out. “That in the first letter you sent deceased” is rather a harsh
Your inquest is, on the whole, I think, a very clever and finished piece of writing,—wonderfully well-managed in parts and possessing some strong points of character. The woman's letter is exceedingly truthful and fine. The rest of the poem is very first-rate indeed—some passages really stunning. Hunt suggested that “Who ever heard of Dr. Luton yet?” would more thoroughly explain Grey's intention, and I fancy he is right. True, Luton is a surgeon, but surgeons are constantly called doctors by courtesy. I am not certain whether a few additional lines after the last one would not finish the poem more soberly.
I will now sum up, with “the worthy coroner”. I think your poem is very remarkable, and altogether certainly the best thing you have done. It is a painful story, told without compromise, and with very little moral, I believe, beyond commonplaces. Perhaps it is more like Crabbe than any other poet I know of; not lacking no small share of his harsh reality—less healthy, and at times more poetical. I would advise you, if practicable, to show it to any medical man at hand—Dr. Hare, for instance. He might discover some absurdity which escapes us, or suggest something of value to the story.
Now for myself. I am ashamed to declare I have nothing
I forget whether I told you that it was the ringing of the bells as we climbed the staircase which gave me this valuable inspiration.
The other day we walked to the Place de la Bastille. Hunt and Broadie smoked their cigars, while I, in a fine frenzy conjured up by association and historical knowledge, leaned against the Column of July, and composed the following sonnet:—
I find I must adopt the plan of writing only on one side for it is candle-light now, and I cannot see distinctly.
The other day, pondering on the rate of locomotion which the style of the old masters induces in us at the Louvre, I scribbled as follows:—
There are very few good things at the Louvre besides what I mentioned in my last. There is a wonderful head by Raphael however; another wonderful head by I know not whom; and a pastoral—at least, a kind of pastoral—by Giorgione, which is so intensely fine that I condescended to sit down before it and write a sonnet. You must have heard me rave about the engraving before, and I fancy have seen it yourself. There is a woman, naked, at one side, who is dipping a glass vessel into a well; and in the centre two men and another naked woman, who seem to have paused for a moment in playing on the musical instruments which they hold. Here is my sonnet:—
Last night we went to Valentino's to see the cancan. As the groups whirled past us, one
after another, in an ecstasy of sound and motion, I became possessed with a tender rapture
and recorded it in rhyme as follows:—
(N.B.—The numerical characteristics refer to the danseuses.)
This sonnet is rather emphatic, I know; but, I assure you, excusable under the circumstances. My dear sir, we have not seen six pretty faces since we have been at Paris, and those such as would not be in the least remarkable in London. As for the ball last night, it was matter for spueing; there is a slang idiocy about the habitués, viler than gentism. And
I bought some more of his things the other day, and have got a great number now—more than I care to count. I wish, if you have leisure, you would go to Brown's study, and look up, among our portfolios there, all such Gavarnis as they may contain—since on my arrival in London I will get them bound into a volume with those I have bought here; and it is as well they should not go knocking about among all the jumble of those same portfolios any longer, as the paper of them is somewhat frail.
Hunt and I have likewise bought three stunning etchings by Albert Durer, and one or two other little things.
The other night we went to the Gaîté to see a piece called La Sonnette du Diable, which is an adaptation of Soulié's Mémoires. It was most execrably played, and so stupefied us that we lost ourselves in coming home.
P.S.—The other night we were inexpressibly astounded by Rachel, in a piece by Scribe called Adrienne Lecouvreur.
I am indeed rejoiced to hear that Papa is so much better. I shall write to him immediately almost; also to Cottingham, with whom I ought by rights to have communicated before leaving London.
Stephens must have forgotten that he himself and Hunt, as well as I, were at first all agog for the title of P.R.B. Journal, though we afterwards all abandoned it. As for the sonnets on Keats, I cannot see any call for their appearance in No. 1. As for our title, I think “towards” is much the better—“toward” being altogether between you, me, and Tennyson; and it is well to seem as little affected as possible.
I suppose you have by this time got over the insane exultation incident on finding Joseph and his Brethren rend="i", which Williams brought, together with the Stories, the night before we left. The latter I have taken with me, as they might possibly be wanted somehow in case we see Wells. Love to our family, the P.R.B., and all. We have not yet delivered
I have been thinking whether Brussels offers materials for a sonnet, but have come to the conclusion that not even thus much is to be got out of its utter muffishness. I will therefore fill this last column with as much prose as I can afford you. However, the verse must stand for a letter this time; though, with the exception of two or three of the sonnets, I fear it is not even so good as what I have already sent you. The fact is, a journey in fair and foul weather are two very different things, and the verse gets its measure of estro accordingly. But I will not grunt about past evils, for the weather, these days in Brussels, has been like the finest summer.
There is a most servile aping of the French here, notwithstanding that they seem to be held in hatred. The English are victimized to a beastly extent everywhere. One of the great nuisances at this place, as also at Waterloo, is the plague
I believe we saw all the town to-day, except a lot of scientific and industrial silliness, and one room at the Museum which we perceived was full of Rubenses, and so held aloof. There are a few very fine early German pictures, among them a wonderful Van Eyck. I believe we shall see no end of these stunning things at Antwerp, Ghent, etc.; and, as I am convinced they will drag me into rhyme, I almost fear that I shall not do much, if anything, to Bride-Chamber Talk till my return. Before leaving Paris, we went to the Hôtel de Cluny, a first-rate place, which will be of great use to me in finishing this poem. Could I do it on the spot, I fancy I should be a made man. I fear there is no chance now of going to Brittany.
All further matters concerning your poem we can discuss on my return, which will be much shorter work. I will only mention one thing which forgot to include in my last. I think the penultimate line of the poem would perhaps be more forcible if it stood thus: “I can wait, John, but is not the whole due?”
You can have no conception of the intense sweating exasperation incident on passport-hunting. We had three days of it before leaving Paris.
You talk about printing my blessed journal. I fear this would never do. There is too much of a kind of exclusive matter belonging only to ourselves; and moreover, among the things I have written since leaving London, there are only three sonnets which have received any consideration— viz., the two on Ingres' picture, and the one On the Road to Waterloo—all in the present letter.
I believe it is very probable that you will receive before my return a large volume of old Charivaris containing Gavarni's sketches, which I left with Broadie at Paris, to be
Of the two prospectuses you sent me, I gave one to Broadie, and the other has somehow got all covered with ink. I must therefore let the sending to Lyell and Cottingham stand over for the present. We can discuss advertising at length when we are all together. I quite agree with you about the inadvisability of getting any more proprietors as yet. . . .
It appears to me quite unnecessary to begin sending about prospectuses at present in any great quantity.
You speak of the uncertainty of Haynes' estimate coinciding with Tupper's. If Tupper is more moderate, let us print by all means with him.
Will you tell Papa that while in Paris I called with his letter for Ronna at the address which it bears, and saw a crusty old woman who said he had been gone some time and she did not know whither, but that if I called next day perhaps some one would be there who knew? The quarter of Paris however was one we never had occasion to be in, and which is infamously paved. The consequence was that we put off calling again till it was too late. Owing to the number of things we were obliged to run after, several other letters with which we had been entrusted shared the same fate.
To Papa, Mamma, and Collinson, I intend to write as soon as possible. I hope they have made allowances hitherto. A letter is also due to Christina which still lies unattempted. I have likewise to answer Woolner, and to redeem my promise to Hancock.
Write at once, and if you have done anything send it: if not, something of Christina's. Remember me warmly to all friends, who by my good fortune are too numerous to particularize. I trust Papa's health holds good. By-the-bye, I hear nothing of the Bermondsey murder.
I am quite ashamed, and have been ashamed from day to day for a long while, of not having ever thanked you yet for the kind present you made me some while back. I can scarcely hope that you will believe me nevertheless to be none the less thankful for not having said so, and can scarcely with any countenance assure you that such is the case. The fact is, and I am sorry for it, that my laziness is so great as to account for many things which it cannot excuse. I need not tell you how timely your gift was.
I am now beginning a large picture containing about thirty figures, and concerning the love of a page for a queen, as treated of in one of Browning's songs—a subject which I have pitched upon principally for its presumptive saleableness. I find unluckily that the class of pictures which has my natural preference is not for the market.
I have nearly finished the sketch in colour for my picture, have made many of the studies, and am beginning to draw it in on the canvas; so that I am at least setting to work in time; but it will be a long job.
I trust that this note will find you in a state of robust muscularity.
Your letter received two days back (and which I should have answered before) is the most pitiful apocalypse of dreariness that I remember to have seen. What can you be doing? Of what avail are mere gateways and staircases and gables, be they even of Millaian squalor? Verily they shall not suffice.
I would advise you, if you wish “to elude madness,” to make with some speed for the Lakes or the Highlands, and shake off the dust of Edinburgh, which is just a place where people tell lies in Scotch.
Or, should you remain, being stiff-necked, and have not reached that state of whining impotence which precludes you from society, I shall be able in a day or two to send you some letters from Stephens and Hannay for fellows in Auld Reekie, the fallacious expectance whereof has indeed caused this letter to be delayed.
I have no news scarcely. . . .
Having found it impossible to get the Browning picture ready for next exhibition, I have designed the subject I mentioned to you from Much Ado about Nothing, and shall begin to paint it in a very few days. I think it will come well. I have also made one or two other sketches for different subjects.
Mamma the other day pitched somehow on a paper called The Guardian which contains a flare-up review of The Gurm. It is the number for 28 August.
I went the other night to see the Legend of Florence, which is much more poetical on the stage than I anticipated. Miss Glyn is godlike.
Why do you not write something? By which I mean neither an incubus nor a succubus. I have just read your review in The Critic of the British Institution, many parts of which I do not understand. What do you mean by the “enforcement of magnificence having a tendency to impair the more essential development of feeling?” This smacks villainously of Malvolio's vein.
Can you explain the following?—
This may not reach you, as I have lost your letter, and am uncertain of your number.
Mamma sent Cayley's MS., which I suppose you have got.
. . I reached here yesterday evening, and seem to have come in for the most rascally fortnight of the year. The wet seems regularly established, being nevertheless anything but respectable on that account. I went out this morning with Hunt in search of an eligible spot, and found what I wanted; but was unable to make more than a sketch, since, after an interval of extreme anguish, Hunt and myself were obliged to beat a retreat, soaked to the bone.
I find I shall never be able to get on without a change of nether garments, which article of dress proved this morning
I am become loathsomely matutine, and was up this morning at seven.
Love to all at home from myself, and best remembrances from Hunt and Stephens.
Having been staying for two days at Chelsea with my friend Hunt, I got your first missive only last night at about eleven, and your second this morning. I am very sorry that your generosity to me should have resulted in any uneasiness to yourself.
I shall not dwell, as I know you do not wish it, upon my obligation to you for this new act of kindness. Indeed, I should scarcely know how to express my thanks for so many repeated proofs of affectionate interest on your part, whom I now see so little of, and who know so little of me that can render me deserving in your eyes.
I am afraid in particular that you must have thought me most ungrateful for not answering during all this time a letter of yours received several months back. The reason why I deferred doing so at the time was that I was then in constant expectation of selling a small picture of mine which Lord Compton (now, by his father's death, Marquis of Northampton) had requested, through a friend, might be sent to him for examination. I dare say Mamma may have told you about
Just then I was commencing a small picture, having abandoned the one I had been engaged on for some time, on account of its being too large to get done for the Academy. On this smaller picture however I was unwilling to risk any one's money except my own; since, being rather a hurried affair, and got up chiefly to keep my name before the public, it might possibly not sell after all. Therefore, hearing no more from Lord Northampton, and having determined that I would be no further drag upon my parents, I abandoned the small picture I speak of, and preferred undertaking, for the time being, one or two odd jobs which had turned up, and which might enable me to wait. On these I am still engaged, and they will now before long bring me in sufficient money to discharge what few debts I have remaining after your present; among others, several pounds which I have been forced to borrow of Mamma from time to time. I shall also have a little left for myself; but, I must frankly tell you, far from sufficient to go on with my large picture, upon which, through the lapse of time, it is now absolutely necessary that I should get to work again at once.
I have been induced to give you all these details concerning my affairs because, unless I should immediately get rid of my last year's picture, I shall be necessitated, as soon as my present engagement (which consists in making some drawings on wood) leaves me free for my real work, to be obliged to write to you, accepting those means of pursuing my studies which you have so freely offered me. Indeed, were I notpresent one . If therefore I could get it satisfactorily advanced, I think it very probable indeed that he might purchase it.
I am sure you will agree with me that it is very necessary I should, if possible, occupy myself constantly with my real career as a painter, and put aside that kind of minor employment, either in writing or designing, which, while yielding just the means of daily subsistence, would be causing me to lose entirely what ground I have already gained with the public; which, I may add without vanity, is much more than most young men have gained upon the strength of two [The Girlhood of Mary Virgin] [ Ecce Ancilla Domini] small pictures.
Thus I need not say of what incalculable value to me, at this juncture, will be the means of dispensing with further delay in my picture, nor with how much gratitude to you I shall accept them, from a sense of duty towards myself; seeing that they may probably be instrumental in enabling me before long to be of no further charge to any one. I may add an assurance that I should consider all such sums strictly as a loan, to be returned when the sale of a picture enabled me to do so.
I am sure therefore that, should you hear from me again on this subject within a short period, you will not think the worse of me for thus taking advantage of your generosity.
P.S.—I cashed the cheque as soon as it reached me— i.e., this morning.
I believe Millais, Hunt, and self, are going to-morrow night to have another shy at seeing the Electro-biology. Do you like to come? I suppose I shall be at Johnny's about half after six or so. I shall be at Hannay's late.
I send you a notice of Poole. Please to print all, or not to print any.
Some one is at Hannay's to-night whom you will be surprised to see. Come if you can. This is written from there.
Pray accept my acknowledgments for the receipt of the money-order, which came duly to hand this morning.
I have at present two subjects en train— one from Dante's Vita Nuova, and one from the Poems of Tibullus. I am still in doubt, though I shall be obliged to decide in a day or two, upon which to turn my principal attention. The latter, as being rather the smaller, would be likely to secure a better place in the Exhibition. I think that, as to sale, the chances are about equal.
As regards Lady Bath's idea about sending my little picture to Liverpool, I should certainly have done so (or else to Manchester or Birmingham) last year, had the thing been of a more popular character. Even were it only a little less peculiar, I would have done so for the sake of the chance; but, as it is, I know by experience that you might as well expect a Liverpool merchant to communicate with his Chinese correspondent without the intervention of some one who knows the language as imagine that he could look at the picture in question with the remotest glimmering of its purpose. This is the reason which has prevented me from sending it anywhere; particularly as it would be sure to come back with the frame knocked to pieces, and as it is a very bad thing for any artist, without some definite chance of sale,
I have felt so very ill to-day and yesterday as to have been quite unable to write anything which could be printed about the pamphlet etc. I have lost your note, but believe you said the article should be sent off to-night. I suppose you have not still time to write it yourself. Rintoul however has just sent me an order to go to that blackguard exposure at Lichfield House. I am not well enough to stir out to-night (the order being for to-night only), but will write an article from recollection and catalogue—which Brown has got. This I suppose will be sufficient for the present week. The P.R.B. business will not lose, I think, by waiting till the other papers have had their say.
Will you thank Scott for the Vita Nuova and for his note, which I shall answer immediately?
He is quite right, I know, in all he says of ruggedness etc., and I shall pay every attention to those matters. I have
Remember me most kindly to your host and hostess.
I hope this will reach you before you leave Newcastle: Rintoul has sent me an order for Pocock's Exhibition of Sketches just opened at the Old Water-colour; also an intimation about some blessed Dioramas; also a notice about an Art-Union print; also a letter saying that there will probably be more of the same kidney. I wrote a very long notice (at least I found it very long to write) of the rubbish at Lichfield House, and will see to the Sketches, though I cannot go to-day, as, being the private view, I should be sure to pitch upon some Associate or Academician. I have written to Rintoul saying that the Dioramas can, I suppose, stand over.
As I have got the notice of the sketching geniuses to write, you had better do the Ruskin business yourself. Indeed, as I hear that Egg had been told by some one that I wrote the Spectator notices (regarding which Hunt was obliged to undeceive him by telling him that you did), I had rather not have anything to do with it. Do not omit to mention my name however (though of course not obtrusively), and to dwell particularly on the fact that my religious subjects have been entirely independent in treatment of any other corresponding representation, and indeed altogether original in the inventions.
I have been queer ever since I wrote to you, and to-day am exceedingly disordered and uncomfortable.
Remember me to Mr. and Mrs. Scott.
I have read your paper on the P.R.B., and agree with Rintoul that it is too full of details and particular instances. Moreover it dashes too much at once into these, and seems as if you were too well up and habituated to the subject. Are you aware too that you have not referred to any work of Hunt, though giving a minute analysis of one of Millais, and of mine? I would not for the world that the long paragraph about me should appear without any reference to Hunt. Indeed I think it too long in any case, and would seem like personal bias to some. I wish too you would put the one about Millais first; also that you would not attempt to defend my mediævalisms, which were absurd, but rather say that there was enough good in the works to give assurance that these were merely superficial. My picture should be described as the Girlhood, and by no means Education.
Maria has just shown me a letter of yours by which I find that you have been perpetrating portraits of some kind. If you answer this note, will you enclose a specimen, as I should like to see some of your handiwork? You must take care however not to rival the Sid, but keep within respectful limits. Since you went away, I have had sent me, among my things from Highgate, a lock of hair shorn from the beloved head of that dear, and radiant as the tresses
I am rejoiced to hear of your improved health, and hope it may prove lasting. I was lately in company with Mrs. and Miss Howitt, with whom you are a considerable topic. I believe Mamma forwarded you an intelligent Magazine by Mrs. H[owitt] to which you are at liberty to contribute. That lady was much delighted with your printed performances, and wishes greatly to know you. Her daughter . . . has by her, singularly enough, a drawing which she calls The End of the Pilgrimage , made by her some years back, which furnishes an exact illustration of your Ruined Cross.
On the opposite page is an attempt to record, though faintly, that privileged period of your life during which you have sat at the feet of one for whom the ages have probably been waiting. The cartoon has that vagueness which attends all true poetry. On his countenance is a calm serenity, unchangeable, unmistakable. In yours I think I read awe, mingled however with something of that noble pride which even the companionship of greatness has been known to bestow. Are you here transcribing from his very lips the title-deeds of his immortality, or rather perpetuating by a sister art the aspect of that brow where Poetry has set-up her throne? I know not. The expression of Shakespear's genial features is also perhaps ambiguous, though doubtless not to him. Westminster Abbey, I see, looms in the distance, though with rather an airy character.
I shall very possibly be going to Hastings in a few days. Meanwhile, till I hear from you or see you again, believe me, dear Christina,
I forgot to say that Mamma considers 2 s. 6 d. sufficient to give the maid—in which, I may add, I do not coincide. Mamma however says you must judge.
Now that Chelsea and London are again one continent, I think you could not do better than return to your Lares, who are pining for you with a pencil in one hand and an india-rubber in the other. Or, as I have abandoned poetry, I had better plainly inform you that, almost immediately after your abrupt bolt the other morning, I descended to the parlour with a request in reserve that you would come and sit, but found only that vacuum which Art on this occasion concurred with Nature in abhorring.
If you do not come at once, I am really afraid that I shall not be able to do what I want from you, though it is not much, before you start for Hastings or elsewhither as the case may be. So be a good fellow and come, and tell Hunt I shall cut him if he tries to keep you.
. . . I think the other day named by Christina (whose note I cannot find) was Sunday. If I am able to get round to Wells Street in the morning, I shall come to dine with you afterwards, and may possibly see you this evening, if Tupper and I go to Grandpapa's about the press. I trust he continues better.
. . . I did a sketch of Teodorico last night, but suspect that it was a perfect failure. He has got it, and I believe means to show it you. I am getting to work here.
Let me remind you again to speak to Rintoul, if you have not already done so, about giving you Miss Howitt's Art-student in Munich to review. Pray make him do so, as I have promised that you will. I fancy the book may be out by this time, or will be in a day or two.
Edwards came here last night, and has an idea that he can get some orders for the Haymarket on Monday to see
I came down here again yesterday, having stayed till then at home. I got Christina's note, but I am sure that she will prefer that I should write to you instead of answering her. I must owe her a letter till I have more news. I certainly owe her, and may pay her if my “muscles” permit, a copy of verses also for that very undignified one of hers, which however is exceedingly good. The slightest allusion to it, ever since its arrival, brings to light a neatly-paved thoroughfare between Maggie's ears.
My boil has subsided. . . . Mr. Stewart called here yesterday, and said he would send me some other kind of medicine, as the old is finished. He seemed to like the situation much, and did not consider the rent at all high. I showed him that Annunciation , having nothing else at hand. He said it would be very pretty when finished, but I suspect was rather impressed by it with the idea that the doctor I most needed resided at Hanwell. I showed him also the sketch of Papa, which I have not yet managed to get to the frame-maker, but hope to do so to-day, as Green's man is going to call and fetch
I want to get into the country immediately. . . .
Calder Campbell has just been in here, and detained me some time talking, and I must now set about doing something or other. And indeed I have no more news—or rather no news at all, for that is about the contents of this note. However, I know you have the weakness to care about every detail concerning my health, and so have written, though without mood or material for a letter—remaining, my dear Mamma,
I am going to or near Newcastle with our friend Mr. Scott for a week or so, and find on enquiry that there is no valise or carpet-bag, or anything of the sort, I can take, at home. Have you any such thing that you could kindly spare me? I shall not want it for long. Maria will send Osborne to you this afternoon for your answer, and, if you can lend me a carpet-bag, he will bring it me. You may depend on my taking care of it.
This however is not the only request with which I have to trouble you. I am obliged to leave town without more delay, by continually returning illness, which I ought to have tried to shake off before by change of air. I am doing some work which will not take long to finish on my return, and for which I shall get paid immediately. Meanwhile, if you could increase my obligations to you by a loan of ten or twelve pounds, I would engage faithfully to return it as soon as I get the money in question, of which there is no doubt.
Maria good-naturedly says that she will be at Park Village this afternoon, in case you should be there, to speak to you about this—as I have mentioned it to her, and am myself obliged to be at my study. I think I am going to start to-morrow for Tynemouth, which is a watering-place near Newcastle. I hope the sea-air will do me some good, as I have long been in want of it. I shall bathe, and try to set myself up.
I am glad to say that I am now beginning to see my way much more clearly as regards the sale of whatever pictures I do, and shall without doubt be able to repay you before long, should you kindly oblige me just now.
I left town on Friday morning at 7, and arrived here between 9 and 10 P.M. with Scott. I have got out as yet but little, compared to what I should have wished, as the weather has not been very pleasant for walking. I do not know exactly what my next move will be, but I do not think of staying here, as it is rather a dreary place, and
I suppose perhaps you have William with you by this time. I should like to know what are his plans during his holiday, as we might perhaps combine sooner or later. I fancy I feel rather better than I did in London; but this atmosphere is so stagnant (intellectually speaking) that I really scarcely know, nor can exert myself to think whether I have anything to say. I do not know though that I should have in any case. I occupy my time chiefly in chaffing Scott about his brother David's works, and made a grand allegorical design yesterday in that worthy's style, which I declared was as fine as anything of his, and which Scott, I believe, considers secretly to be really a grand work, though I myself do not understand it.
I trust the governor's health continues in the improved state which was the last I heard of it, and also that Christina is energetic in her pursuit of art. Perhaps it would be as well for you not to take the trouble of writing to me at present, as I am uncertain as to my movements. I shall get away form here I think before long. I have already caught meteoric glimpses of the bore, and foresee that he will shortly commence tossing his Briarean arms in various directions, if I stay.
I got here on Friday night, and this morning have set about letter-writing. I ought before to have thanked you for the remittance which your kindness supplied so immediately, and which I shall not forget to return as soon as
My friend Mr. Scott, at whose house I am, is a very delightful man, but the family-atmosphere is rather inactive, and his inertia encourages mine. I fancy the sea-air at Tynemouth will be the thing for me.
I send this letter to Maria, as I am uncertain about your exact address. This morning, I have written also to Mamma, to whom I lately sent the sketch I made of Papa, which I got framed in London. I fancy William must be at Frome by this time.
Please remember me kindly to all members of the family whom you may see, and believe me
I have been here since Friday, and do not exactly know what I mean to do. Let me know what your moves are to be, how long your holiday is, etc., in case we should
I want to tell you that Lizzy is painting at Blackfriars while I am away. Do not therefore encourage any one to go near the place. I have told her to keep the doors locked, and she will probably sleep there sometimes.
Tell me any news; I have none to tell. I suppose you are probably at Frome. . . .
I have heard several of Scott's poems, some very fine, and am going to do the etching for his Rosabell, as I proposed. By-the-bye, I mentioned to him that affair of The Artist, and that they would have etchings; that Brown was doing one, etc.; and he asked me yesterday whether I thought it could be managed to get them to buy some of those Commonwealth etchings of his. They are really very good, but I do not know whether you could mention it at any time. You will know best.
I suppose, if you write to me here, it can be sent on in case I have left.
I ought to have answered you before, but have been unable to come to any conclusion as to my plans hitherto.
Yesterday and the day before Scott and I made an excursionHouse of John , and told him that I should have no objection to paint something else instead, mentioning the two pictures I had in contemplation—viz., the Magdalen at the door of Simon , and the town-subject, but without describing the latter, or mentioning price for either. I also offered him the Dante water-colour, begun in London, for thirty-five guineas. This last he snatches at. . . . I shall send for the drawing from London, and finish it here somewhere.
Do you know, I fancy after all I had rather go to Belgium than to Paris, which I expect would turn out a bore. But it strikes me that the best (and this I would positively do for a week or ten days, money permitting) would be to go to Nuremberg, and see the Durers etc. I suppose we could include Cologne in such a trip, but have no idea whether the expense (should you be equally inclined for this as the other) would be greater. I fear however that my delay will cause this to reach town after you have left. In this case you will get it elsewhere, and can then write to me at once where you are and what you mean, and I will answer at once with any proposal I may have to join you anywhere. . . .
I have done little here. However I have made a little water-colour of a woman in yellow , which I shall be able to sell, I have no doubt. I have also made sketches for an etching which I mean to do for Scott's book, and for the picture of the Magdalen [Early sketch]. Scott and I have looked through his poems together, and have made some very advantageous amendments between us. Rosabell especially is quite another thing, and is now called Mary Anne.
MacCracken has written a long letter inviting me to Belfast, but I have no idea of going. I heard this morning from Deverell that his father is dead.
I do not find myself much better, I think, at Newcastle than in London. This is a beastly place. But in our late
Remember me most particularly to all at home if you are still there.
I left the North towards the end of last week after seeing several interesting places. Carlisle and Hexham especially delighted me, with all the country thereabouts. Newcastle however, where I was mainly staying, I found a horrid place, and the weather had been generally very shabby. Indeed till I came down into Warwickshire here I had felt but little better, but do now.
I came straight from Newcastle to Coventry by rail, and since that I have had no more of that disgusting work, but have walked always from place to place. To-day I walked from Kenilworth to Stratford—twelve miles. I never feel in the least tired, as it is quite another thing walking here from what it is in London or about beastly Newcastle. Coventry, Warwick, and Kenilworth, are all very interesting places, and the country about here lovely. After getting to Stratford this evening, I walked out again and saw Shakespear's house, to which I must pay a second visit. I shall stay here one or two days longer, and then back to London to get about work, though I shall probably leave again almost immediately to paint a background in the country. I want to find my way
I suppose my letter reached Frome too late for William, from whom I have not heard, though no doubt you sent it on. I imagine he must nearly have finished his trip by this time.
MacCracken is in a state of wild excitement about some subjects I have been mentioning to him, and wrote me a long letter with full directions as to how I was to get to Belfast at once, and stay with him a little while, when we could arrange everything. He has closed with an offer I made him of a sketch, begun in London, for 35 guineas. It is of the same size as those I have sold before for 12 [Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante] , so that this is not amiss. I shall finish it on my return, and send it to him. I shall not go near him for the present, as I think it would be unwise. I have made one or two sketches [Girl Trundling an Infant] [Battlements of Wetheral] while in the country which I shall be able to sell. You will hear from me when I reach London. Meanwhile I am, dear Mamma,
As I have no doubt you have been getting into a state about me, like a dear old thing as you are, I write to-day to tell you that I am come down into the parlour,
I hear you are reading Haydon's Life, as I have been, and am now some way through vol. iii. It gets very melancholy reading as it goes on; but altogether the book gives one a very high opinion of him, I think. I cannot see, after all, that he was so conceited as that fellow Tom Taylor wants to make out, with the insolent pity of a little snob. He was always, or nearly so, dissatisfied with his own work, though certainly he was always saying he could see a great thing before him, which thing he really did see. The fact is that, when a man near the top of a hill begins going into raptures about the view which his position commands, it is necessary that one should be something more than an ant even to understand him, since the ant cannot even look high enough to see that the hill is there at all. I hate that sneak Wilkie. After all, Haydon does not seem to have been extravagant, or even very improvident.
I shall get back to my study as soon as possible, and hope I shall not have any more plagues to prevent my getting to work. I got a letter from MacCracken towards the end of last week, saying he should be in London the early part of this, and would call at my study. I am convinced he has come chiefly to see Hunt and myself, and I fear he may miss both, as Hunt is at Ewell. However, I shall be back there as soon as I am quite well, and should really like to see him, if possible. Meanwhile I have left a note for him with the housekeeper explaining.
Remember me most affectionately to Papa and to Christina.
Maggy's going to Frome this morning recalls to me even more strongly than usual how glad I should be myself to see you again, and how I neglect, through wretched laziness as a correspondent, the only means of communicating with you just at present. I need not say how sorry I was to hear that your health had not been quite so good lately. I trust however that you will not long have this additional trouble. I am much better than I have been, though these hot days make one feel sick and queer. My sketch for MacCracken, which had languished with my health, is very forward now, and I hope soon to get the tin, and soon after that to be able to speak in the same manner of the even more important progress of his picture, on the subject of which his excitement continues unabated, or rather on the increase. MacCrac was, as perhaps I told you, to have come to London for a few days, but, finding on a sudden that the R.A. had closed, he withheld his (yearned-for) visit.
I have seen scarcely any one lately. Read, the American poet whom you wot of, has been here again with his wife and children, on their way to settle in Italy, and consequently bored me for a brief gasping interval. . . .
I am quite sorry to hear of the difficulties which delay the arrival of the Arpa Evangelica, which must be very disappointing. Pray remember me most affectionately to its author, for report of whose manners and habits the mental eye needs no telescope.
I have finished Haydon's Life, which afforded me very great enjoyment. I am now reading that of Benvenuto Cellini, which Grandpapa gave me some time back. This also is more interesting, and I am perhaps the more able to enter into the writer's character from the surprising resemblance which I find in it to that of poor Sangiovanni. The book, as you know, is an autobiography, and at every page it is absolutely like hearing Sangiovanni speak. This is
I am uncertain as to where I shall move to, or whether at all unless my picture absolutely requires it. Scott's holiday at Hexham is now nearly over, so that I should probably not go there now, as I have been prevented hitherto; though indeed the old market-town is attractive enough of itself, but the distance is so very great. I hope still to be able at no distant period to snatch a week or so at Frome, when I should be able to examine the neighbourhood as well as to see your dear old eye.
I am very glad the sketches pleased you, and that they served your object by pleasing Lady Bath. But—that the original box may not bewail its honours—I send you a little sketch for the inside. It is a recollection from Nature —a little girl whom I saw wheeling a baby in just such a barrow. Would it not make a capital picture of the domestic class to represent a half-dozen of girls racing the babies entrusted to their care—babies bewildered, out of breath, upset, sprawling at bottom of barrow, etc. etc.?
I think this sketch ought to have another piece of paper pasted underneath it, or I fear the printing on the box would show through. You should use the paste rather dry also, or the ink may run.
As to what I hope to show you, I merely referred to what I am about for Mr. MacCracken of Belfast, of whom you have heard—which performances [The First Anniversary of the Death of Beatrice] [Found] I trust to see finished at some indefinite period.
I have seen extracts from Sir H. Lowe's Journal, but, to tell you the truth, should be rather doubtful, as far as I have seen, whether he might not have treated poor Bony a little better than he did, without injustice to his own Government. I have been reading Haydon's Autobiography—a most interesting book, which I recommend to you if it should come in your way.
I received your very welcome note, the only at all unsatisfactory thing in which is your hint that I think it a bore writing to you. Is this really quite fair, when I sent a letter by Maria? and even before that think (though am not certain) that I had been the last to write. At any rate, I know I am a better correspondent to you than to almost any one, as my friends could testify.
I have just come in from taking tea at Park Village, where I am glad to inform you that I found all well, including Grandpapa, who conversed with me on a variety of subjects, though his memory seems now and then to be at fault. Uncle Philip seemed much gratified at your having written to him, and repeated at intervals, with a certain tendency to defiance, that the letter was good English.
I know you will be pleased to hear that I am painting Aunt Charlotte's portrait, to be given to Grandpapa. I had the second sitting to-day, and have got very forward with it, though at the close of to-day I discovered a radical defect in the nose, and erased that important feature, whereby the portrait no doubt gains a temporary sublimity by resembling many antique statues. I am confident it will be very like when done. I find they have an old frame at Park Village, which I think can be made to suit it.
I am progressing with my works for MacCrac, the water-colour being at last nearly done, as it ought to have been long ago; but I shall never, I suppose, get over the weakness of making a thing as good as I can manage, and must take to charging on that principle. As for the present drawing, the stipulated 35 guineas is absurdly under its value now, and I think I must give MacCracken to understand as much.
I believe I shall be wanting to paint a brick wall, and a white heifer tied to a cart going to market. Such things are I suppose to be had at Frome, and it has occurred to me
I suppose Christina has not been working much at the Art? Will you tell her that I am quite ashamed of not being able yet to tell her anything positive about Nick? I am constantly remembering it when Hannay is not in the way, and always forgetting it when he is. I have now resolved to remember it the next time I see him, and, if I am baulked again, to write to him the next time I think of it.
I was rejoiced at the arrival of the Arpa Evangelica, in thinking how much pleasure it would give Papa, to whom pray give my sincere love. I have been looking through the volume, and hope before long to have read it through. Its whole plan and arrangement seem to me highly artistic and admirable.
I have been thinking whether anything is left to say; but can only find that George Tupper is still uncompromising, Reeves strenuous, Coleman sleepless, and MacCrac the same frenzied enthusiast; facts which demand that the present writer should be a philosopher of some eminence, as well as being
Give my best love to Maggy and Christina, the former of whom no doubt I shall soon see again.
I learned yesterday with great concern, from Mamma's letter to Maria, that you have had in these last days a severe attack of diarrhœa; but I thank God for the decided improvement of which that letter also assures me. May your health strengthen always from day to day with the fine air of the country, from which I hoped much when you left London.
I would not have delayed so long in answering your dear and affectionate letter, but that I was wishing to speak somewhat, in my reply, about the Arpa Evangelica, and to read it in full before writing to you. Nor have I yet, being much occupied just now, found time for a deliberate reading. I have read the whole second series, the Solemnities of the Church, which I liked well; but more perhaps than any of the compositions there I like the last composition in the fifth series, The Penitent Woman on the Crucifix, which appeared to me very fine, and which might almost appertain to the argument of the second series. The other evening, in my Grandfather's house, I read with him some of the Arpa; and he particularly indicated to me the poem on the Fall of Jerusalem, and I joined him in admiring it. I have also read the first of the three cantos of The Redemption, which seems to me worthy of the other two, which I already knew.
I trust that perhaps I may soon be able to come and see you at Frome, when I hope to find your health improved, and that of Mamma and Christina vigorous. The portrait of my Aunt Charlotte will perhaps require one other sitting, but it is already nearly finished; I think it is now very like. I fear there is not any ground to suppose that Lady Bath wants her own portrait, as she has lately had it painted twice —one in miniature, another in oil. Nor perhaps could I just now undertake it, being bound to paint a picture for that Irish gentleman who owns my Annunciation . For him is likewise the water-colour which I am now finishing, and of which Mamma will certainly have spoken to you.
Please tell Mamma that I have not forgotten her last letter, and will not fail to reply. Assure her, and also Christina, of my sincere affection, and believe me always
Ho saputo ieri con gran rammarico, dalla lettera di Mamma a Maria, che avete avuto in questi ultimi giorni un severo attacco di diarrea, ma ringrazio Iddio del miglioramento deciso che quella lettera anche mi assicura. Possa la vostra salute invigorirsi sempre di giorno in giorno coll' aria benefica della campagna, dalla quale ho sperato molto quando lasciaste Londra.
Non avrei indugiato tanto nel rispondere alla vostra cara ed affettuosa lettera, se non avessi desiderato di parlare alquanto, nella mia risposta, dell' Arpa Evangelica, e di leggerla tutta prima di scrivervi. Nè ancora, essendo molto occupato in questo momento, ho io trovato tempo per una lettura accurata. Ho letto intiera la seconda serie delle Solennità della Chiesa, la quale mi piace assai, ma forse più ancora che qualunque delle composizioni contenute in essa mi piace l'ultima composizione della quinta serie, La Penitente
Spero che forse fra poco io potrò venire a visitarvi a Frome, dove spero di trovare ristabilita la vostra salute, e vigorosa quella di Mamma e di Cristina. Il ritratto di mia zia Carlotta richiederà forse un' altra seduta, ma è già quasi finita; mi pare che adesso somigli molto. Temo che non ci sia affatto luogo di credere che Lady Bath vorrà il proprio ritratto, poichè se l'ha fatto dipingere ultimamente due volte, una in miniatura, un' altra ad olio. Nè io forse in questo momento lo protrei intraprendere, avendo l'incombenza di fare un quadro per quel signore irlandese che possiede la mia Annunziazione . Per lui anche è l'acquarella che finisco ora, e di cui Mamma vi avrà certamente parlato.
Vi prego di dire a Mamma che non mi sono scordato della sua ultima lettera, e che non mancherò a risponderci. Assicurate lei, come anche Cristina, del mio sincero affetto, e credetemi sempre
I have been putting off writing to you under the idea that, by doing so, I should be able to speak positively as to my possible visit to Frome; but find myself as yet still unable to do so, and will no longer defer writing.
I have been working a great deal lately, but somehow it seems impossible to finish anything. I have received £20 in advance towards the payment of the drawing for MacCrac, which is at last nearly done; and have been getting under way with his picture, which I hope, when once fairly afoot, will soon be very forward, as I have been making careful preparations, and caution at first is always the shortest in the long run. Aunt Charlotte's portrait is done to all intents and purposes, though I shall have another sitting. I think it is now a great deal like. I showed it to-day to Williams, who was sitting to me, and he recognized it immediately. As soon as I am able to come to Frome I mean to paint a similar portrait of you; and should like also to do one of Papa, but fear he would find the sitting too wearisome. Aunt Charlotte's is done very carefully—the head quite as finished as anything I have painted.
You will be glad to hear that I have at last some news of Woolner and B[ernhard] Smith. The former has written to his father, and the latter to his brother. At Edward Smith's last night we had a regular meet for reading the letters. It seems that the two went in succession to all the Diggings, or nearly so, during a period of seven months, and were uniformly unsuccessful, working always as hard as navigators, or harder. . . . After the seven months' digging W[oolner] resolved on returning to Melbourne to try his luck at sculpture, and here, I am delighted to say, he seems in a fair way of complete success. He has done several medallions at £25 each—one of Mr. La Trobe, the Governor of the Settlement —and there is a prospect of his getting a commission forSpectator , as conclusive as to his position in England; so that William has probably been of some real use to him. One of them says that “Mr. Woolner is a gentleman of very affable and agreeable manners”, which is rather rich. One bad thing is that the present Governor, who has been very friendly to Woolner, and is a cousin of Bateman, has been recalled, and will shortly leave the Colony. It is to be hoped W[oolner]'s luck will not go with him. W[oolner] is staying with Dr. Howitt (brother of W. Howitt), who as well as all his family are most kind to W[oolner], and greatly taken with him—as I know from some letters Mrs. Howitt here has had from them. . . . Bernhard has gone to the farm of a brother of his about thirty miles from Melbourne, and I believe has been making interest to get into the “Gold Commission.”
Will you tell Christina that Mrs. Howitt asked me the other day whether she could print the Summer Evening in a collection of translations from the German which are to be splendidly illustrated, and to which the publishers have asked her to add a few original English ones? For the same collection she asked me to contribute something, and I gave a ghastly ballad called Sister Helen . The Aikin's Year, where Christina's poem was to have been, it seems, is delayed for the present.
I fear there is not much more news. Hunt and Brown are both I believe well, though I have seen neither very lately. I called the other night on poor Deverell, who is very ill indeed, and I have heard even that his doctor says he cannot live over next summer, if so long. But I hope this is an exaggeration. He is in good spirits, the same as ever, and I told him it was all stuff. He is full of troubles as to maintaining the family since his father's death.
I have written lately to Papa and Mamma (by the bye, has the former got my letter?), but it is some time since I have enlightened you. Maria showed me the other day two poems of yours which are among the best you have written for some time: only the title of one— Something like Truth—seems “very like a whale.” What does it mean?
Allingham has just come to town, and with him and William I went last night to the Howitts. Anna Mary's excitement on your subject has not subsided, and she still hopes, when you come to town, not to miss you again. She has painted a sunlight picture of Margaret ( Faust) in a congenial wailing state, which is much better than I fancied she could paint. I am going down some time by daylight to give her some hints about the colour. I wish there were any chance of my ever doing the same for you, but I am afraid you find art interfere with the legitimate exercise of anguish. Ah if you were only like Miss Barbara Smith! a young lady I meet at the Howitts', blessed with large rations of tin, fat, enthusiasm, and golden hair, who thinks nothing of climbing up a mountain in breeches, or wading through a stream in none, in the sacred name of pigment. Last night she invited us all to lunch with her on Sunday; and perhaps I shall go, as she is quite a “jolly fellow”—which was Thackeray's definition of Mrs. Orme.
Mr. Orme has just received a letter from Woolner, which I think I may perhaps be able to send you when it shall have been seen to-night at a supper which Allingham gives to Hunt, Hannay, Stephens, W[illiam], and self. Hunt still talks of starting for Paris on the 15th, whence he will proceed with Seddon to Egypt possibly, or at any rate somewhither. Millais, I just hear, was last night elected Associate.
You know—do you not?—of poor Deverell's illness. Marshall, whom you have heard me speak of, went the other day to see him, and quite confirmed his own doctor's decision (which I had hoped might be a mistaken one) that he doesThe Doctor's Last Visit —where a doctor is trying to explain to the assembled family of a sick man that there is no hope. His spirits are, I think, the same as ever, and in the evenings he does not seem to suffer much . . . but in the morning, I believe, is his worst time. His complaint is described as “Dr. Bright's disease of the kidneys.”
This is not very cheerful. Sunday night Maria and I went to see Mr. Burrows after attending service at his church. I liked him very well, but he rather reminded me of Patmore in manner. The decorations at Christ Church are very poor —four gilt Corinthian capitals; item, one pulpit-cloth with seven white stars, etc. etc.
I managed to finish Aunt Charlotte's portrait before she left town, except that I find I shall want one more sitting to work on the hands. I have ordered the frame, and, when that comes, shall take the picture to Park Village. Aunt Eliza is coming here to-morrow (9th November) to bask in the ecstasy of the Lord Mayor's Show!
I do not know that I have any more to say, except that I will subjoin two sonnets—one by Tennyson, and the other a parody on it. The latter, I must say, is perhaps rather a stern view of the character.
Love to all.
Excuse me for having so long ago received your dear letter without as yet replying. I heard lately with the greatest sorrow the bad news of your health. But from what I hear now I trust that you find yourself a little better. I would like to say, much.
I can't yet say that I have read the Arpa Evangelica right
Some days ago I showed the Arpa, as your latest work, to a certain Signor Ventura, who came to me as the only Rossetti he could find in the Directory, and thinking that here he would find you. He brought you the respects of a certain Signor Palizzi of Vasto, and also of the brothers of the latter, all of them readers of yours. Ventura himself seemed to know all your works, except this last one; he informed me he does not belong to Vasto, but to Central Italy. I told him I would give you his message when first I wrote.
I greatly grieve, as we all must, for the death of my dear Grandfather, for whom I have always entertained a sincere affection. It would at least have been a slight consolation if he could once have recognized his family before passing away.
In your letter, my dear Father, you speak of my profession. I can assure you that now I am not negligent in that respect. With me progress always is, and always will be, gradual in everything. Of late also health has not been favourable to me; but now I am well and at work, and I also find purchasers, and I can see before me, much more clearly than hitherto, the path to success. How much do I owe you, and how much trouble have I given you, dearest Father, in this and in all matters! Needless were it to ask your loving heart to pardon me; but I must always beg you to believe in the real and deep affection with which I remain
Scusatemi che da tanto tempo ho ricevuto la vostra cara lettera, senza averci ancora risposto. Ho sentito ultimamente con grandissimo rammarico le cattive nuove della vostra salute. Ma, da quel che sento ora, spero che vi trovate un poco meglio; vorrei dir, molto.
Non ancora posso dirvi di aver letta in tutto l' Arpa Evangelica; ma ne ho lette parecchie composizioni da che vi ho scritto l'ultima volta, e specialmente mi rammento quella diretta All' Angelo Custode come una delle più belle, e sopra un' idea che mi è sempre paruta una delle più poetiche che si possa trattare.
Giorni fà, ho mostrato l' Arpa, come ultimo vostro lavoro, ad un certo Signor Ventura, il quale venne da me come essendo il solo Rossetti trovato da lui nel Directory, e pensando che qui vi troverebbe. Esso vi portò i rispetti d'un certo Signor Palizzi del Vasto, ed anche dei fratelli di questo, tutti lettori vostri. Anche questo Ventura pareva conoscere tutte le vostre opere, eccetto quest 'ultima: esso mi disse non essere del Vasto ma dell' Italia Centrale. Io gli dissi che vi darei il suo messaggio, quando prima vi avrei da scrivere.
Io mi dolgo grandemente, come dobbiamo fare tutti, della morte del mio caro avo, pel quale ho avuto sempre un sincero affetto. Sarebbe stato almeno qualche poco di consolazione s'egli avesse potuto riconoscere una volta la famiglia prima di spirare.
Nella lettera vostra, caro padre, mi parlate della mia professione. Vi posso assicurare che non sono trascurato adesso in questo riguardo. Con me il progresso è sempre, e sarà sempre, graduale in tutto, nè ultimamente mi è stata favorevole
I had already heard from the family of poor Deverell's death.
I should like to meet Millais this evening, but do not know whether I shall feel in sufficiently good spirits to come out.
Tell Christina that, if she will come here on Thursday, Lizzy will be here. . . . I shall be glad if she will come, as I have told Lizzy she mentioned her wish to do so.
Allingham has been looking over her poems, and is delighted with many of them. I am going to lend them him (trusting in her permission to do so), that he may give his opinion as to which will be the best for the volume. Lizzy will illustrate, and I have no doubt we shall get a publisher.
I found Lizzie apparently rather better than otherwise; at any rate not worse, either by her own account or by appearances. Some of her bad symptoms are certainly abating, and her spirits, she says, are much better. I have been staying at the Inn here; but move to-day to Mrs. Elphick's, 5 High Street, where Guggum is, and where my lodging will cost 8 s., I believe. Barbara Smith and Anna Mary came down to see Lizzie yesterday from Robertsbridge, some miles from here, where they are staying; and we all took a walk together, which did not seem to fatigue Lizzie much. There are several other ladies who have been most attentive to Lizzie, and every one adores the dear. No one thinks it at all odd my going into the Gug's room to sit there; and Barbara Smith said to the landlady how unadvisable it would be for her to sit with me in a room without fire.
I wrote yesterday, from her own lips, a most minute account of her state to Wilkinson, and expect his reply. I cannot think that there is any need of her going into the Sussex Infirmary as proposed.
She and I are going to Robertsbridge to-morrow to spend the day. The weather has turned, and become most delicious. The sea to-day looks like enamel in the sun, and there is a cool breeze. I write this waiting for breakfast at 8 a.m. (!) Yesterday I saw the sun rise !!! over the sea—the most wonderful of earthly sights. This morning I was awake
But I fear you cannot even yet be much in a mood for hearing of these things. I myself feel more at ease since seeing Lizzie, but nevertheless was not the merriest of our party yesterday.
Bye-bye, Bunk. Love to all.
P.S.—Perhaps I may be bothering William before long to send some painting-things from my rooms, but am not sure how long I stay. Will he go round and see if Ruskin's books have reached there for me, and will you let me know if you write?
I wish you would tell people I am not dead, but by no means encouraging the idea of such an amount of life as at all facilitates human intercourse. It is rather slow here, and generally very windy, though often glorious sunlight. Tell Allingham if you see him that, should he have an idea of coming to Hastings, I wish he would carry it out; andSpec . If you could send me that public organ I should be thankful.
Lizzy seems upon the whole a little better, and Wilkinson judges so from the long account of her symptoms which we sent. She and I spent a pleasant day on Monday at Scalands, where Barbara and Anna Mary have been staying. They made themselves very jolly, and it is a most stunning country there. I heard from MacCrac, who offers £50 for the water-colour, with all manner of soap and sawder into the bargain—a princely style of thing.
There seem to be several places tolerably within range hereabouts which we ought to see, and shall set about seeing; but Lizzy is not capable of too much exertion. I dare say I shall very soon be boring you to send my painting-things from London, but almost think I shall have to come myself when I want them. . . .
There is a very rich skit on A. Smith, Balder, etc., in Blackwood, professing to be a review of Firmilian, a Tragedy by Percy Jones. You should see it, and tell Allingham.
As you ask about the weather here on behalf of some invalid, I write to say that it is just beginning to be decidedly warm—to-day rather oppressively so, seeming to forebode a storm. After which I hope the air may be purer and no less genial. Till the last day or two it had been almost uniformly windy, though often fine weather.
Lizzy went this morning to see a Dr. Hale, to whom Dr. Wilkinson has recommended her, and who advises her to leave this part of Hastings as being liable to get too hot at this time of year, and to go nearer the sea. He thinks her state requires the very greatest care, and gave her some directions. She seems much the same, in fact, I think, though sometimes rather weaker or stronger.
The indefatigable and invaluable Barbara has been getting up a plan for Lizzy's entering another place, since we rejected the Sussex Hospital. This is the “Sanatorium” which she describes as being in Harley Street, New Road, London , “where governesses and ladies of small means are taken in and cured.” It contains only about twenty or thirty patients or so, and is, she says, most admirably managed, the object being to make it as much like a home as possible. It seems Miss Smith has a relation connected with the management of this place, and has already made arrangements by which Miss Siddal can enter at once if she likes, or else put it off for a little and then enter. She wrote to her about it this morning, and certainly it seems a not unpleasant
Love to all.
I wish I had thought of getting that shawl which Aunt Charlotte kindly promised me for Lizzy before I left London, as it would be just the thing. Remember me most kindly to Scott if you see him.
If you are seeing Millais, I wish you would ask him whether he knows anything of Deverell's Twelfth Night which Miller sent to Gambart, or of the projected raffle. I called one day at Gambart's, but he was then out of town.
I return the Spec. , for which thanks. Lizzy is obliged for Maggie's information about the Sanatorium. I wrote at some length to Ruskin the other day. Why do you not mention Collins in the Spec. ? Munro writes to me that there is mention of me with Hunt and Millais in Ruskin's Lectures just out. Have you seen or can you tell me of it?
Calder Campbell writes to me, “Surely you will not continue to respect the woman who weds [A. B.].” Can you interpret? I can conceive no one he can mean but Miss [D.], and this seems impossible. Besides, I thought [A. B.]
I shall soon, I think, be back in town when I have any tin to take me there, which I have not at present. I must come up to see about replenishing my colour-box, etc., before beginning Found , even if I come down here again; also to fetch various things.
This a stunning crib, but rather slow. Remember me to every one. Lizzy is much the same. Where do you think of going this summer?
I think I shall not be in town till the beginning of next week, though I thought to have been there before this. Lizzy seems rather weaker the last day or two, though I trust not permanently, and I do not like to leave her just at this time.
I heard from Millais yesterday, who it seems is leaving or has left London, and tells me Allingham is going back to Ireland and the Customs. I trust not till I can see him again.
Miss Smith has lent me Ruskin's Lectures, where there is only a slight though very friendly mention of me. They are very interesting.
I am sending you back the Spec. , and write these few words to tell you of my delay in leaving here, but am not in any writing mood, so good-bye.
Love to Mamma and all.
I am afraid you will guess, before reading this letter, what it is likely to relate to. I am in a very great difficulty for money, and unless by your kind assistance (if you are able to afford it me) really do not know how to extricate myself from it. I have two water-colours in hand [The Return of Tibullus to Delia] [The Passover in the Holy Family: Gathering Bitter Herbs] , and am beginning an oil-picture. The last, and one of the former, I believe I may consider already sold (to Messrs. Ruskin and MacCracken) as soon as they are finished; but meanwhile I am utterly at a loss for the means of getting models etc. to carry them on. One of the water-colours, at any rate, I hope will not be very long before it is finished, if I am only able to go on with it without being utterly swamped for want of money. I assure you I have not forgotten your kindness last year in lending me £12, nor my promise to return the loan; but I assure you that this has been hitherto simply impossible. If you can and will now assist me again, and I am thus enabled to get through with the works I have in hand, I have every reason to hope that I shall then have in my power (as I shall most sincerely wish and intend) to return you, if not all at once at least by degrees, both this and the former loan. It is my hope indeed to return one day all that you have so kindly lent me from time to time; but I feel almost discouraged from saying so, lest, in my present inability to do so, it should seem like a mere pretence.
I have long been hoping to get through with something, and obtain some money without the necessity of trespassing again on your kindness. But I now find that, unless I do so, I can see before me no means of proceeding with my work; besides that some rent which I already owe here is being continually applied for, and worrying me to suchoil-picture I am beginning is an open-air scene, requiring absolutely a large amount of light, which I should have difficulty in finding elsewhere so well as here.
Could you lend me £25, or if possible £30? But perhaps I am asking much more than I have any right to ask, or than your circumstances (even if you are willing again to afford me this chance) will permit you to grant. Less than £20 it would be of little service to me to ask, as it would be merely to fall into difficulties again immediately, before I had been able to make any considerable progress with my pictures.
I know you must indeed be weary of applications like this from me, and am almost hopeless of my ever making that way in my profession which I ought to make, and placing myself in an independent position. But, if I am only able to get my present works done, no time could well be more favourable than the present for making a sure step in advance, as anything I finish now is almost if not quite certain of sale.
I must now leave what I have said to your consideration. If you consider yourself justified in rendering me this assistance, I know your kindness too well to suppose that you will not do so. And I hope indeed that you may think so; since it is the only means I can see of avoiding a complete interruption to my work at a moment when it is most important to me that I should continue it. When you were last in town I was still hoping to avoid the necessity of making this request, but I find now that there is really no other way. I shall await your answer most anxiously—and remain
Many thanks indeed for the great kindness and promptness of your answer and enclosure; it rescues me from a greater difficulty than I have been in for some time. I trust most sincerely that you will hear of and see some results from it before many months, in the shape of work finished. I really do not know how to thank you enough. I dare say there will be no difficulty about the form of the order, but, if there is, I will send it back at once, as you direct.
I heard two days ago from Mr. Ruskin, who is at Chamounix, and received from him the very valuable present of all his works—including eight volumes, three pamphlets, and some large folio plates of Venetian architecture. He wished me to accept these as a gift, but it is such a costly one that I have told him I shall make him a small water- colour in exchange—which idea seems to please him. Besides this he wants a sketch of mine as a commission. If you at any time wish to read any of his works, I have them at your service.
I suppose it is as hot at Muntham as here. Here it has been almost insufferable these two days—very favourable, I fear, to the spread of cholera. Yesterday the smell from the river was so bad that I was obliged to go out. To-day I am glad to find it much decreased.
I was lately at the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, which is really well worth a visit, or indeed more than one. The Mediæval and Byzantine Courts interested me especially. The Alhambra also is very beautiful.
P.S.—On getting the order, I sent it to my landlord, to see if he could get it cashed at once, and pay his rent out of it—making sure he would find it all right. He tells me, however, that it is necessary that Lady Bath should write her initials across the face of Her Majesty on the stamp; also that you should write on the back of the order, at the end where the stamp is, “Pay D. G. Rossetti Esq., or order, C. Polidori”; and finally that I should write my signature after yours before presenting it at the Bank. These preliminaries, he says, are now indispensable (being perhaps recently introduced, for what I know); so it is a good thing the bill is dated for Saturday, as there will be time for its return to London by then, if you will kindly attend to these particulars. My landlord, who is a most excellent and civil fellow, did not make these objections in any captious spirit, but he assured me that he was quite certain there would be a difficulty made at the Bank, if they were not attended to.
Is the ticket of Ruskin's that you have for me transferable? If so, will you send it on to Lizzy, as she would like to use it, I believe? Does it admit more than one person? If not available for her, will you let me know at once, and also whether you will be in the way of getting more without
Can you fix a day to come and dine with Brown at six— or on Sunday earlier if you like? He tells me to ask you. Brown adds, if you come on Sunday you will have the anguish of missing me. Please don't forget—but I know you won't—about that tin—as soon and as much as you can manage. . . .
Hoping to hear soon,
I'm wanting much to see — this evening; and, as I have not found her in just now, must go again this evening, and am dining meanwhile with Hannay. I therefore apologize duly for not meeting you, and going on to see Ruskin, whom I saw this morning, and who is going to settle £150 a year immediately on — !!! This is no joke, but fact. I shall bring her on Saturday to tea.
If, as you propose, Lady Bath and Lord Ashburton will drive to the College any time between half-past seven till ten on Monday evening, and ask for me, that will do well; or, if she preferred my meeting her anywhere else, I should be happy to do just as she liked. To see the system of teaching in full force, they ought by rights to visit Mr. Ruskin's class some Thursday evening as well—as his class is of longer standing and far better organized than mine. After your first message (viz., that Lady Bath wished to go some Thursday evening, which I find was owing to a misapprehension) I asked Mr. Ruskin about it, and he said it would give him much pleasure.
Thanks for your sympathy with Miss Siddal, whose good fortune could not have been better deserved, or more gratifying to her than to me. I hope to introduce her to you some day at Albany Street. Mr. Ruskin has now settled on her £150 a year, and is to have all she does up to that sum. He is likely also to be of great use to me personally (for the use to her is also use to me), and I am doing two or three water- colours for him. He is the best friend I ever had out of my own family; or, at any rate, I never had a better, not to do injustice to one or two more. I hope to go with you one day to the College, as you say, and wish you could make one of our party to-day. A modelling class is immediately to be added to our drawing-classes, the masters of which will be my friends Woolner and Munro.
Ever since you left I have been intending to write to you, and I hope you have not fancied I forgot you, as I know you would not forget me. I have been busy at times, and at times very ill at ease, though indeed neither of these is really an excuse for so long a silence, which your affection will best make allowance for. I have been pleased to hear such good accounts of Christina, who I hope continues equally stronger and better. But I also hope you are better now, and was truly grieved to hear you had been so far from well. I often fancy you together at Hastings, taking some of the trips probably that I took last year, and certainly rambling about the hills, which grow rather monotonous, but I dare say you have longer patience with them. You know, no doubt, that spot on the East Hill where there is something which looks far off like a ruin, but proves, if I remember rightly, to be nothing but a blocked-up door of some kind. On its side Lizzy and I scratched our initials last year— along the corner of one side, I think. If you are that way, will you try and discover them? Is a very dark gipsy-looking little girl of about thirteen still in the habit of running about on the East Hill with a very fine baby sister? I made a sketch of them, and Lizzy had the girl home and drew her. I used always to think her the image of savage active health; but Lizzy afterwards discovered that, as soon as the cold weather came on every year, she was seized with ague and unable to stir out in the winter; owing no doubt to long disregard of weather and frequent privation of food.
Another place where L[izzy] and I scratched our initials was a stone at the Old Roar, a very pretty place indeed and not very far—I forget now in precisely what direction, but you would easily find out. But perhaps you have been. Our stone would lie to your right as you stood with your back to the fall, and a little way in front of you. By the bye, the
I fancy Barbara Smith must now be again at her brother's farm near Robertsbridge, a railway trip from Hastings. If you would like it, I would find out whether this is the case, and if so write B[arbara] S[mith] word of your whereabouts, as she must often be at Hastings, and has long greatly wished for Christina's acquaintance; so no doubt she would soon turn up if you have any fancy for a little society, and would invite you to spend a day sometimes at the farm, a very lovely place. Another acquaintance of mine—Mr. Smith, chemist of George Street—you might have an opportunity of patronizing if you liked. . . .
I dare say you will have heard something of Lizzy's and my movements from Maggie. She is somewhat better from her trip to Clevedon, and will very soon be in the country again, I trust. She, Maggie, and I, are going to dine with Ruskin on Friday next. Ruskin has been to Tunbridge Wells and Dover; he was far from well, but has returned looking and being much better. He is very hard at work on the third volume of Modern Painters, who, I tell him, will be old masters before the work is ended. Have you seen his pamphlet on the R. A. Exhibition? If you would care to see it, I shall have the 3rd edition from him, I believe, in a day or two, and would send it you. Gift-books have rather poured in on me lately: Hannay's new novel, Eustace Conyers, very first-rate in Hannay's qualities, and a decided advance on Fontenoy; Allingham's new collection of Poems, where there are some illustrations by Hughes, one by Millais, and one which used to be by me till it became the exclusive work of Dalziel, who cut it. I was resolved to cut it out, but Allingham would not, so I can only wish Dalziel had the credit as well as the authorship. I have also a very well-written pamphlet on the War by one Lushington, a new acquaintance of mine on the Council of the W[orking] M[en's] Coll[ege], and a book on Proverbs (I think) by Trench, given me by another Working Men's Councillor.
While Ruskin was at the seaside I painted and sent him a water-colour of The Nativity , done in a week, price fifteen guineas. I thought and think it one of my best, but R[uskin] disappointed me by not thinking it up to my usual mark. I shall do him another instead, and sell that to some one else. At present I am doing two for him, one from Dante, and one begun some time ago of the Preparation for the Passover in the Holy Family. An astounding event is to come off tomorrow. The Marchioness of Waterford has expressed a wish to Ruskin to see me paint in water-colour, as she says my method is inscrutable to her. She is herself an excellent artist, and would have been really great, I believe, if not born such a swell and such a stunner. I believe that, as Lady Seymour, she was Queen of Beauty at the Tournament, and is, I have often heard, gloriously beautiful, though now rather past her prime. To-morrow she has appointed to come and see me paint, but whether I shall be able to paint at all under the circumstances I have my doubts. However, I have told a little boy to come, to paint the head of Christ from. He is a very nice little fellow whom I picked out from the Saint Martin's School the other day. He has a lovely head, and such a beautiful forehead that I thought he must be very clever, but on enquiring as to his favourite pursuit he rather threw me back by answering “buttons”. Little Owens has also been sitting to me. I asked him whether he was often ill, as he seems very delicate, and was concerned (his sister, you know, having lately died of consumption) to be answered that he often was. Enquiring further into his symptoms, their leading character appeared to be stomach-ache, and, on continued
But the funniest boy of all was one of whom Lizzy told me, who accompanied her on a donkey-ride at Clevedon lately. He was about twelve, and after a little while opened a conversation by asking if there was any lions in the parts she comed from. Hearing no, he seemed disappointed, and asked her if she had ever ridden on an elephant there. He had last year when the beastesses was here, and, on mounting the elephant for a penny, he felt so joyful that he was obliged to give the man his other twopence, so he couldn't see the rest of the fair. He wished to know whether boys had to work for their living there, and said a gentleman had told him that in his country the boys were so wicked that they had to be shut up in large prisons. He never knew hisself no boy what stole anything, but he supposed in that country there was nothing but fruit-trees. He pulled a little blue flower growing out of a rock, and said that he liked to let flowers grow in the fields, but he liked to “catch” one when it grew there and take it away, because it looked such a poor little thing. He had a project for leading donkeys without beating, which consisted in holding a handful of grass within an inch of their noses, and inducing them to follow it. Being asked whether that would not be the crueller plan of the two, he said he had noticed donkeys would always eat even when they were full, so he had only to fill his donkey first. All that could be got in explanation of why he thought Lizzy some outlandish native was that he was sure she comed from very far, much further than he could see.
I spent two or three very delightful days at Clevedon. Did you go near it when living at Frome? The junction of the Severn with the Bristol Channel is there, so that the water is hardly brackish, but looks like sea, and you can see across to Wales, only eight miles off, I think. Arthur Hallam, on whom Tennyson wrote In Memoriam (and who was the author of a pamphlet on Papa's view of Dante), is buried at Clevedon, and we visited his grave. We made several longish
Besides Clevedon, I went to Oxford some weeks ago when Guggum was there, and met some nice people, Dr. Acland and his family, who, as well as many others, were most kind to her there—too kind, for they bothered her greatly with attentions. Acland wanted her to settle at Oxford, and said he would introduce her into all the best society. All the women there are immensely fond of her— a sister of Dr. Pusey (or daughter) seems to have been the one she liked best. A great swell, who is Warden of New College . . . showed her all the finest MSS. in the Bodleian Library, and paid her all manner of attentions; winding up by an invitation to a special treat at his own house, which consisted in showing her a black beetle painted by Albert Dürer, and having a real one fetched up from the kitchen to compare the two with a microscope. This she never went to enjoy. Acland examined her most minutely, and was constantly paying professional visits—all gratuitously, being an intimate friend of Ruskin. I went down on purpose to have a conversation with him about her health, and was glad to find that he thinks her lungs, if at all affected, are only slightly so, and that the leading cause of illness lies in mental power long pent up and lately overtaxed. Of course, though, he thinks very seriously of her present state, and of the care necessary to her gradual recovery. By his advice, she is likely to leave England, probably for south of France, before the cold weather comes on again, and must abstain from all work for some months yet.
They were all most friendly to me at Oxford, and Dr. Acland sent me afterwards an invitation to go there on the great occasion of laying the first stone of the New Museum the week before last; but I did not go because of time and expense. I afterwards heard Tennyson and his wife had been there, and staying chiefly at Acland's; I was sorry to
Can you come to tea with Guggum and Mr. and Mrs. K[incaid] on Saturday evening? Mrs. K[incaid] will sleep here, and then she and Liz start at seven on Sunday morning from the Docks for Hâvre. . . .
If I don't see you this evening, would you tell Williams . . . to let me have early to-morrow that sketch of the Queen and Women Sewing which Aunt Charlotte has of mine and I'm sure she'd lend me a few days, as I want to show it to Browning?
In writing this note, I must premise quite sincerely that I only wish to consult your own wishes, and that the matter is put for your unbiased consideration.
A Mr. Marshall, of Eaton Square, who has bought severaloil-sketch of the Queen and Page belonging to you and still at my study. I told him it was not mine; but, as he still continues hankering after and regretting it, I thought I would propose a bargain to you, in case you should not be unwilling— i.e., in case you should really prefer what I propose. Thus then: Would you prefer if I were to paint you, instead of that little picture, a portrait in oil of Mamma, or of either of my aunts, or other member of our family? and in that case sell the Queen and Page to Mr. Marshall, who I suppose would give me thirty or forty guineas for it. He is disposed to be very useful to me, I think, in purchasing my works, and also in very generously paying for them, as he always declares the prices I ask to be trifles; and for these reasons I should like to oblige him, if you would really prefer (once again) the course I propose—without speaking of the convenience which it would also very decidedly be to me at present.
In case you should decide in the affirmative, I would immediately fix a day of sitting next week with Mamma, or whomever you might wish me to attack; and meanwhile and ever am
I will certainly paint Aunt Eliza for you as soon as she comes to town. It will not be any great tax on my
If Lady Bath wishes to favour me with a visit, the best time would be now, as I happen to have two or three things just finished, still by me—especially a drawing from Dante's Vita Nuova, which I should have much pleasure in showing her, and better worth seeing than The Monk , which is not yet finished, but which I could show her also. I should also very much like to show you the things, if you come with Lady Bath, supposing she is able to give me that pleasure.
I've only this moment got your note, and will attend to it when I get the cash; but the order for it, being on Leeds, had to be negotiated through a banker (of course without discount), and this has not yet been accomplished. I have no doubt it will be by Monday. If you want any, pray send at once (for obvious reasons), and I will send it forthwith.
I wish to Heaven I could have come with you; but am at the last gasp of time with those woodcuts, [St. Cecilia] [King Arthur and the Weeping Queens] [The Lady of Shalott] [Mariana in the South] [Sir Galahad at the Ruined Chapel] which are, however, getting a little better forward now, I think, and cannot stir a foot till something more be done towards them. It keeps me also from beginning Plint's picture, which Iwater-colour I have just finished and which I suppose some one will buy.
I've little news. Windus wrote to me the other day asking me to superintend the drawing of his picture, on wood, which he has been asked to allow for the National Magazine, a new People's Journal thing coming out by Saunders & Marston. I have been twice to see Ristori—her two last nights—with a Rev. William Elliott, a friend of Patmore and Woolner, who is a tremendous Browningian. I liked her prodigiously in Rosmunda and in a little comedy, and think her very beautiful —not quite Rachel though, yet, or ever. I saw her in that beastly bosh Pellico's Francesca too, of which no acting can make anything. In going out of the theatre one night I met — and her mother; and, after offering to call their carriage for them and being told they had it not, only having to go home over the way, I stupidly forgot the next duty, of seeing them to their door, which I remembered as soon as they were out of sight. I wish if possible you'd take some opportunity of telling them what an ass I thought myself.
Mamma sent three or four letters to Freshwater for you. Did you get them? One of them was “On Her Majesty's Service,” and was sent on without paying .
I send you a cheque for the Seddon subscription. I am here for a few days only perhaps, but perhaps rather longer.
Please acknowledge at once, as it isn't crossed.
I am most grieved that you should have been suffering anxiety on my account, as I now know you must have done. Had there been the least necessity, I should not have failed to let you know, but there has been none whatever. I do not know how many days I may remain here at present; but it will probably not be long before I am in London, at any rate for a day or so, when I trust not to miss seeing your dear face. You have heard no doubt from Jones, who opened the letter at Oxford. I have only got it this morning. It would be absurd in me to thank you for another proof of the affection which you have lavished on me all my life, and which is often but too little deserved. I am most ashamed of my disgraceful silence all the time I have been at Oxford;
Will you thank William for his note, and say that, as far as I am concerned, this would not be the time to see the Union, as my own work there [Sir Launcelot's Vision of the Sanc Grael] has been interrupted for some weeks? I hope to be finishing it sooner or later. This is an interesting and beautiful part of the country. I was yesterday at Haddon Hall, a glorious old place in some respects.
I think it would be much better if you all came a week later as regards the pictures, [Sir Launcelot's Vision of the Sanc Grael] [Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival Receiving the Sanc Grael] since things are peculiarly in a muddle just now. Do put it off for a week or fortnight, and then come and see something finished.
Pray give my love to Mamma, Maria, and Christina. I am quite enraged at myself for not having written, and shall still immediately to Mamma. But I have not to any one, though this is no excuse whatever.
I am sorry to have left you so long unanswered. Pray pardon, but I have been very busy and much interrupted.
I do not think I will avail myself, after all, of Lady Bath's kindness just yet, as regards the loan of my picture; but will do so as soon as I feel sure of being able to work on it at once, as I would not like to be keeping it for ever.
The pen-and-ink drawing may be, I fear, higher in price than you expected. Its price would be £50; in explanation of which I may say that it will contain, when finished, fully as much work as, if not more than, a water-colour of the same size, for which I should ask considerably more (as for the one of Mary and St. John which you saw, a good deal smaller, for which Lady Trevelyan paid me 100 guineas). Moreover, it is the first design for a work of some importance, and therefore more valuable.
Should Lady Bath wish to have it, I may add (since you say it was her first intention) that an immediate sale would be most convenient to me, as I am sure to have several applications for it, I trust and believe, before the Spring when you tell me Lady Bath will be in London. I should however have to keep it by me for a time after it was sold, both to finish it, and to make use of it in carrying out my picture. In case of Lady Bath's still entertaining the idea of buying it, and wishing to see it first, I would be happy to send it to her to look at, if she did not object to paying the expense of packing and carriage; but I fear I could not spare it just now for more than a day.
You ask me whether I sketch my pen-and-ink drawings
I am at work now both on my pictures for Llandaff Cathedral (which I think you saw begun) and on the Mary Magdalene . I feel quite emancipated in getting to work of so large a size. I trust to have something considerable done to show you when you are next in London.
I shall have much pleasure in Lady Bath's and Miss Baring's proposed visit. I have been hunting for a Hogarth Club ticket, but find I have none, and fear they are being re-printed just now; so that I may not be able to send you one for a few days, but will be sure to do so.
Do I understand you rightly that Miss Baring wishes me to consider the drawing as hers now? If so, I will send it her as soon as finished, but should have to borrow it for a short time further, to be photographed. My question is put because it is quite contrary to my practice to send a work of mine to be seen by any one before purchase; though I was happy to break through this rule, for the first time, the other day, on account of your connexion with the matter.
I understand, from certain members who have been looking up fresh rooms for the Hogarth Club, that they will not improbably take some they have seen in Waterloo Place,
You ask me about Halliday's sketch. I think that, like all he has done, it is very satisfactory, considering that it is only a few years ago that he began painting figures, and that at a later time of life than most men begin at. The subject is a good one of its class; but I do not sufficiently recollect the head of the mother to be sure whether I agree with your criticism. The artist might plead, however, that grief for the father's want of sight at that moment might predominate at least as justly as joy at the child's birth.
I am very sorry that I have really nothing by me that I could send which would be of the least use to such beginners as your protégés. What they ought to do in reality would be to take a piece of mossy bark, or something that would not decay, and try to imitate it on its own scale as exactly as possible—at first in pencil or Indian ink, and afterwards in colour. This would be a work of time, and perhaps requires in the first instance that some one should be by to rouse the beginner to a full consciousness of how close a fidelity he ought to aim at, and to be able, by mere industry, to attain. But, if they liked to make any such attempt, and you would forward me the result, I would gladly give what advice I could from a distance. The best gift you could make them would be of a plaster cast or two of natural leaves, and the materials necessary for drawing them, which could all be got cheaply enough. I will get you these if you like, and send them. If you and they still wish for a figure-piece of some
By the bye, all these ages I have a photograph, inscribed with your name, of that Mary Magdalene .
The Hogarth will not be open after the end of March.
I certainly did not black-ball —. In each case after these ballots I have the same thing told me—viz., that the exclusions are owing to me—and have serious thoughts of resigning in consequence, as it is very annoying and very absurd.
The ballot in this way becomes a mere farce. Those I voted against I really objected to, and it is childish in such a case to say anything more about the matter. I should like you to show this note to any one who has expressed to you the opinions you mention.
I am afraid the going to Scott's is impracticable for me, much as I should like it, with the amount of work I ought to be doing. I should not feel comfortable. As you said you were en cas to pay my journey, would you mind sparing me a few pounds for home use instead? I am setting toLlandaff centrepiece, and am expecting £50 from Seddon in about a week or ten days, but till then am run quite dry, and do not know how to get on. If you can do this, I would come either to Somerset House or Albany Street for it before you leave.
Leathart of Newcastle has written me this morning, settling a commission which he has now given me for the Found , at 350 guineas; so my business motive for going is done away with. You know he also has my Christmas Carol and Sir Galahad .
If you could come here yourself, I would show you the head I have painted for Boyce.
I write you this word to say that Lizzy and I are going to be married at last, in as few days as possible. I may be in town again first, but am not certain. If so, I shall be sure to see you; but write this as I should be sorry that new news should reach you first from any other quarter.
Like all the important things I ever meant to do—to fulfil duty or secure happiness—this one has been deferred almost beyond possibility. I have hardly deserved that Lizzy should still consent to it, but she has done so, and I trust I may still have time to prove my thankfulness to her. The constantly failing state of her health is a terrible anxiety indeed; but I must still hope for the best, and am at any rate at this moment in a better position to take the step, as regards money prospects, than I have ever been before. I shall either see you or write again soon, and meanwhile and ever am
Many sincere thanks for your brotherly letter. I assure you I never felt more in need of such affection as yours has always been than I do now. You will be grieved to hear that poor dear Lizzy's health has been in such a broken and failing state for the last few days as to render me more miserable than I can possibly say. The spectacle of her fits of illness when they come on would be heartrending to a stranger even.
There seems to-day to be a slight rally; but till yesterday she had not been able to keep anything—even a glass of soda-water—on her stomach for five minutes, and this has been the case more or less for a long while. She gets no nourishment, and what can be reasonably hoped when this is added to her dreadful state of health in other respects? If I were to lose her now, I do not know what effect it might have on my mind, added to the responsibility of much work, commissioned and already paid for, which still has to be done,—and how to do it in such a case? I am sorry to write you such a miserable letter, but really it does me some good to have one person to whom I can write it, as I could not bear doing to any other than you.
I must still hope for the best; indeed, she has been as bad before in many respects, but hardly all at once as now. Yesterday, owing no doubt to the improvement in the weather, she has taken some slight things—such as beef-tea and jelly —without as yet bringing them up again. I have been enquiring as to a special license, as there seems little prospect of her being able as yet to enter the cold church with safety; but I find this promises so much delay and expense as to be hardly possible. The ordinary license we already have, and I still trust to God we may be enabled to use it. If not, I should have so much to grieve for, and (what is worse) so
I shall have to be in London for a few hours to-day, but really have not the heart to see you just now, though it is some relief to write this. I have to come up to fetch money (which I left at home, expecting to have fetched her back, when I came here), of which at least, thank Heaven, I am not short at present, though I only have it as an advance on work to do. I shall come back the first thing to-morrow morning at latest. You need not talk much about the state of her health, as it is so wretched a subject, at such a moment especially, but I thought I would tell you.
Lizzie and I are just back from church. We are going to Folkestone to-day, hoping to get on to Paris if possible; but you will be grieved to hear her health is no better as yet. Love to all.
On the last page hereof is a paragraph which I wish you would get put in the Times. Some one told me our marriage had appeared there; but it must be a mistake, no doubt, unless you have put it in. If the governor's birthplace
On our way here we stayed several days at Boulogne, and saw a great deal of the Maenzas, who quite fascinated my wife— i.e., Mr. Maenza chiefly. He is far from well, poor old fellow—indeed, has been very ill—but greatly excited of course about the Garibaldi business. After seven years they have at last had accidental news of their son in Australia, who at any rate seemed in good health then, and not starving, but no doubt he is leading a vagabond sort of life. Near Boulogne we saw a very ancient château, with a wonderful garden and lots of paintable things. It might be rented cheap, I believe, and I have some thoughts of taking it for the summer months, in case at the end of that time we found it advisable (if possible) to push further south. One might paint some very paying backgrounds for small pictures, and it is lovely beyond all description. My wife has been in very fluctuating health, and still is so, but on the whole has had fewer violent fits of illness since I saw you than before. Still I need not say what an anxious and disturbed life mine is while she remains in this state. And this is increased by the absolute necessity of setting soon to work again, while in fact her health at times demands my constant care.
I shall be giving up my rooms in London, whether I settle there or at Boulogne for the present; and even in the latter case shall have to come to London to settle things and fetch my work. So no doubt I shall see you before long, whatever happens. We do not propose to stay here much more than a week longer, and were expecting Jones and his wife as soon as they are married; but it seems he has been very ill lately, poor fellow, and on the whole I am not sure it may not prove wiser for him to stay at home. So we are not sure of having them now.
We have been staying a week at the Hôtel Meurice, which is very dear, and have only lately got into these rather
I hope Brown is better than when I last heard of him. Will you give him my news if you see
him, and say how glad I should be to hear from him, if he will pardon my not having written
yet except once since our marriage? My best address would be—
Chez Mme. Houston
the said Mme. is English and very obliging.
I hope they will not charge you extra postage for this, but I have not had the energy yet to buy foreign paper. Give my love to all at home. My wife joins in kind remembrances. Love to Top, Gillum, Woolner, and all friends.
Ruskin is off, I suppose—I wrote to him.
On the 23rd. ult. at St. Clement's Church, Hastings, by the Rev. T. Nightingale, Dante Gabriel, eldest son of the late Gabriel Rossetti, of Vasto degli Abruzzi, Kingdom of Naples, to Elizabeth Eleanor, daughter of the late Charles Siddal, of Sheffield.
We shall most likely leave here on Thursday, but I cannot say precisely on what day we shall reach London. Thanks for your letter. I think we shall bring two dogs— a big one and a little one. Lizzy continues rather better on
We have given up the Boulogne scheme, I believe. You know of course that Jones has been very ill, but I trust from what you say he is better.
My love to Scott. . . . The picture is going on, and will soon make great advances. . . .
I am much annoyed at my stupid forgetfulness in not having tried before to get you here one evening. In fact, the few who have been have been asked through my meeting them accidentally, and somehow I have not turned you up lately. Pray pardon. I will write fixing a day next week, I trust, if you are able to come. Just now I am so busy morning and evening with work I am doing here that I had better put it off a few days.
Thanks about Maenza. I have no doubt we mean the same thing, and can do nothing till I see you, as I want to concoct a circular with your help. . . .
I am not on good terms with the Union fools, and had rather no one were sent in our name.
I had Dr. Crellin to see Lizzie yesterday, as she was very ill; but, while I was gone for him, another doctor had
You are to use your discretion about the subject of this note.
I am under the impression that you told me once that Lady Bath was desirous of possessing a water-colour drawing of mine which was at that little exhibition in Russell Place some years ago. The drawing was not then for sale, but has lately become my property again through an exchange. Its subject is some people playing music, and it is called The Blue Closet .
If you think there is any probability of Lady Bath being still in the same mind, you might mention the matter to her, but not if you feel the slightest awkwardness in renewing the subject. It occurred to me as possible she might still wish to have it; and, as (like others) I find married life increases one's expenses, I thought I would not leave this stone unturned. But you will judge best about it. I may mention that the price is 50 guineas.
I left at last at Albany Street that photograph which has long lain here inscribed to you.
I wish I could give you the best news of my wife, but I must hope for the best, and meanwhile be content if it goes
I am doing so many things in the way of work, and am in such a perpetual moil about them, that I really do not know which to tell you of; but some day you will come and see them.
I have been trying to get a house at Hampstead, but find there is nothing so difficult as to get suited in this respect; so have not yet got rid of these rooms, which, with the lodging we have at Hampstead (necessary to my wife's health), comes expensive, you may be sure.
Lizzie is so unsettled just now by constant moving about that I think we had better put off the plan of her coming to Albany Street, though I am most anxious it should be so. We have only just got out of that lodging at Hampstead, and so cut off an expense; taking instead for the winter the second floor in the next house to this, additionally to this one. We take it unfurnished, and must manage to fill it somehow. I hope then, if not before, we may manage to have your company in our new rooms. Nothing would give me greater pleasure, as nothing pains me more than the idea of our being in any way divided—which would indeed be a bad return for all I owe to my dear good Mother. But I trust you feel sure how much I suffer from this idea, and how wholly I hope to see it set right. My only reason for not giving Lizzie your letter just now is the one I have named; and, if I see her stronger and more settled to-morrow or next day, I shall still give it her. Love to all.
I am pushing on at last with my Italian Poets at the printer's. Could you help me at all, do you think, in collating my Vita Nuova with the original, and amending inaccuracies, of which I am sure there are some? I have so much to do that I am tempted to bore you with it if you can and will. If you will answer yes, I will send it you by book-post. It ought to be done immediately.
Will you tell me how Mamma is? Lizzy is so-so.
I asked Ruskin whether he would say a good word for something of Christina's to the Cornhill, and he promised to do so if she liked. If so, would she send me by book-post the book containing the Poem about the two Girls and the Goblins?
Many thanks. What I want is that you should correct my translation throughout, removing inaccuracies and mannerisms. And, if you have time, it would be a great service to translate the analyses of the poems (which I omitted). This, however, if you think it desirable to include them. I did not at the time (on ground of readableness), but since think they may be desirable, only have become so
I mentioned to Ruskin Christina's Goblins, as one having a subject. But we must see. But has she not a tale too? If so, would she send it me? Will you tell her we are very thankful for her paper-box, which is very useful?
Love to Mamma and all. I am glad indeed to hear she is getting over her illness.
I saw MacMillan last night, who has been congratulated by some of his contributors on having got a poet at
The Vita Nuova will not be long now.
I want very much to hear William's Preface to Dante. Would he be able to take tea here any evening, and read it me?
Many and many thanks for your fair copy just received —which is so fair it almost seems a pity to print it.
Thanks about the “ye,” but I'm afraid I don't think it matters much. I've not yet looked into W[illiam]'s notes, but see they'll be useful.
Last night I read some of your poems to Stokes—a very good judge and conversant with publishers—who thought them so unusually excellent that there could be little doubt ever of their finding a publisher, not to speak of a public. Really they must come out somehow. I should have come to Albany Street last night, had not Stokes come in, but shall probably do so to-morrow evening. Every one seems to have been struck (on own hooks) by Up-hill. The best of all your things, I think, is “When I was dead my spirit turned”. Might it not be called At Home? I shall give it at once to Macmillan.
Many and many thanks for a most essential service most thoroughly performed. I have not yet verified the whole of the notes, but I see they are just what I needed, and will save me a vast amount of trouble. I should very much wish that the translation were more literal, but cannot do it all again.
My notes, which you have taken the trouble of revising, are of course quite paltry and useless. What I think I shall do is to write a sort of essay, as short as I can make it, in front of the second part of my book (called Dante and his ), embodying what little has to be said about Dante and Guido Cavalcanti, and indeed various poems of The Canzoniere.
Will you thank Mamma very much for her help?
It is with very great regret and disgust that I enclose a note from Ruskin about Christina's poems—most senseless, I think. I have told him something of the sort in my answer. He has not yet returned the volume I sent him (with the Goblins), but I suppose will soon. I have some idea (with Christina's approval) of sending the Goblins to Mrs. Gaskell, who is good-natured and appreciative, and might get it into the Cornhill or elsewhere. Would she like this done? Or perhaps Allingham might help.
Lizzie has just been delivered of a dead child. She is doing pretty well, I trust.
Do not encourage any one to come just now—I mean, of course, except yourselves.
We have got some stuff which we want to make up for hangings for our sitting-room, and want some one who
I think from the tone of your note that Gambart, in addition to his statement (which may be all or only half or less true), must have abused me so much as to have left you with the impression that I was acting wilfully wrong. This is not so in any degree. I am really quite anxious to do justice to the relatives of so excellent a man as Plint as I am to get myself out of the most difficult fix I was ever in. The unfortunate thing is that, owing chiefly to Plint's habit of pressing money on one for work in progress (of which I naturally availed myself, being always hard up), I am in debt to the estate for three pictures to the amount of 680 guineas. These three pictures are in hand, but, especially the principal one, little advanced. The other two, [Dr. Johnson at the Mitre] [Burd Alane] though needing a good deal, would be soon finished.
You see, things being thus, it is impossible for me to combine justice to the estate ( i.e., to the value of the pictures) and hurry in their completion; and, besides, must do other work to live by while I paint them. Unhappily, I am even prevented from setting to work at once on the pictures (in which case I might probably get them done somehow by April), but am under promise to finish Leathart's Found at once, and do other things, besides the Llandaff picture , on which I am now hard at work, and which has to be sent off in two or three weeks at furthest.
With Gambart I will have nothing further to do (indeed I may say nothing simply, as I have shut him out hitherto)— that is, if I can help it, his letters being very offensive, and attempting intimidation with talk of law, etc. Since answering his last, I have written direct to the trustees, making a proposal that I should give them other finished works to the amount of the money paid, which I could do before April, I doubt not.
They seem to think this feasible (and in no case to contemplate law), but are going to refer the proposal to Gambart, so I do not know what it may come to.
I have been suggesting to them to transact through Ruskin on my behalf; but now it seems unfortunately that it was Ruskin who advised them originally to employ a dealer, and they went to Gambart.
Ruskin, who has been away, is just back, and I shall see him to-day, so perhaps some suggestion may turn up.
In any case, I should be quite as unhappy at adding to the difficulties of Mrs. Plint as at any misfortune to myself personally, and you may be sure I am altogether in a most anxious state. But Gambart cannot be stood at any price.
I hope Christina got her poems safe.
I think the letter is calculated to rile Gambart a little, if not to do him good, which it also may; so would be obliged to you to send it; but would you mind re-writing it for the sake of a slight alteration I have made? as it is well not to seem decidedly to put everything else I am doing before these pictures.
The portrait came last night. It is a funny piece of painting, but no doubt considerably though not perfectly like. The question is now what to do with it. I would willingly make a drawing—perhaps on wood would be best— and get it cut here and sent over. The cutting might be some slight expense to Rossi, though I am not sure whether I could not get it done for nothing.
Would you take the trouble of writing to him, asking the
I am out here painting a portrait, and left Lizzie staying with the Morrises. Now she writes me that she has left them in a hurry, making me very uneasy, as I know there was not a halfpenny of money at Chatham Place. If at all possible, would you go there, and take her some few pounds, which I shall be able to repay you on my return immediately, and will punctually do so? It was impossible to bring her here with me, both from her very delicate state and from the very reason that what money we had hardly sufficed for my own journey. On my return I shall have earned 50 guineas, and shall certainly be back in a week from to-day. If not convenient to call, you might send the tin by post. I would not trouble you, but know William is away. At present, of course, it makes me very uneasy.
I meant to have said before, and have just been incited by Linton to say, that I think really you, as a man whose name is known in that way, ought to write a letter to the Athenæum on the shameful rejection of David Scott's portrait by the National Portrait Gallery.
He says he has no doubt they would print it, and you might surely instance as a strong comparative case the acceptance of Wright of Derby.
Linton wants to meet you. Could you appoint to come here one evening? and I'd ask just one or two men besides.
Many thanks also about the bedstead. I shall certainly have no absolute necessity for it: nevertheless should
I believe we shall be able to conclude the business about the house to-morrow, as Rose has managed to secure our safety in the matter.
Here are the two notices. I forgot that one puffs me too; so, if you want to show them to any one, I would be obliged if you would copy them, and not show them in my writing.
I have just got yours from Somerset House, which shows me that you are well again after the attack of cold of
I have written to Meredith about his share, and am likely, I find, to see him at Chelsea on my return. I trust I shall be able to suffice to all by end of January, having that month clear before me; but meanwhile the rent is a heavy item, and endless debts besides which ought to be paid, and a few which must.
You will know when I leave (it will be to-morrow at 1.30 I suppose) by receiving an insurance-ticket from the railway, as I suppose you did when I came.
Would you give Baker the photograph of Old Cairo which hangs in your parlour; and, if there are any stereoscopic pictures, either in the instrument or elsewhere, which represent general views of cities, would you send them too, or anything of a fleet of ships? I want to use them in painting Troy at the back of my Helen , and will return them soon.
I have seen the owner of the Zebu, and undertaken to buy him for £20,—£5 payable on Monday, and the rest within a fortnight. I shall then have plenty, but I just now have none. Could you pay your £5 as the first instalment? If so, I will send Pope to you at Somerset House on Monday morning, and then on to him with the tin. If not, however, please let me know by return of post in answer to this, as I must then raise it somehow.
Pope has been in the beast's pen, and says he is quite tame. The owner says he would cost about 2 s. 6 d. a week for keep; but, even if rather understated, it would most likely be no great expense. He would need a shed of some sort in winter, but none in summer. Trusting to hear that you can do the needful on Monday,
Chapman is coming up to-night (Saturday), if you like to come too. I have let the peacocks out in the garden.
Pray do come Friday evening, or rather as early as you all can in the day, as I shall have no model. I should like you to see my David , which will be going on Monday, I suppose.
Thanks for proposed hour-glass. . . .
I am glad you wrote to me, as there is a mixture now, much preferable to milk and water, for setting chalk or pencil drawings. It is a French invention, and can be procured (at 1 s. 6 d. a bottle, I think) from Lechertier Barbe, Artists' Colourman, 60 Regent Street. The benefit of it is that it is passed over the back of the drawing, not the front, and penetrates the paper.
I wish you had asked your various questions, as nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to answer as many as you pleased. In default of the questions, however, I do not know what the answers should be, and the unvaried tenor of my working-life is not suggestive of spontaneous narrative. The other day I finished and sent off to Llandaff the picture of David as Shepherd, completing the Triptych which I have painted as the altarpiece of the Cathedral, and which altogether is entitled The Seed of David . It is intended to show Christ sprung from high and low in the person of David, who was both Shepherd and King, and worshipped by high and low—a King and a Shepherd—at his nativity. Accordingly in the centre-piece (which I forget whether you saw at all, but certainly not finished) an Angel is represented leading the Shepherd and King to worship in the stable at the feet of Christ, who is in his mother's arms. She holds his hand for the Shepherd, and his foot for the King, to
The two side-pieces represent, on one side, David as Shepherd with the sling, walking forward and taking aim at Goliath, while the Israelite army watches the throw behind an entrenchment. The other side-piece is David as King playing on the harp.
The three pictures are in a stone framework in the Cathedral, which I fear, being white, must injure their effect much; but before long I shall go down there, and give directions for such decoration of the framework as seems best. Some day I must get them lent me for exhibition in London, whenever I collect my works together for that purpose—as I mean to do at some date, I hope not very distant, but probably not for a year or two as yet. I have been thinking of some concise mottoes to inscribe on the stone-work round the pictures, and so suggest their purport, and have hit on the following:—
Do you not think this will help the spectator?
By the bye, I believe I bothered you once before to enquire who ought to be written to relative to my old picture of The Girlhood of Mary Virgin , bought originally by Lady Bath, and which I understood once its present possessor (to whom I believe it was a gift from her) proposed varnishing or doing something to. This was told me by Hunt. I did not write to him at the time (though I fancy you kindly gave me some information), but have always meant to do so, and should like to do so still, in case the picture needs my revision in any way.
I have quantities of commissions now, and never was nearly so prosperous before. I trust shortly to begin a very large work, on commission, and henceforward to do almost exclusively large works in oil. Small things and water-colours I never should have done at all, except for the long continuance of a necessity for “pot-boilers.”
I am very glad the Bakers are doing rather better. They are worthy souls, but odd.
Will you present my regards to Lady Bath? and believe me
Can you conveniently contribute £10 to house expenses? I, . . .being obliged to stick to painting these flowers, cannot knock off before then to earn the money otherwise. It would have been all right if I had got the remittance I expected on the large commission, and the promise of which has made me over-confident of meeting expenses in time. It does not come, and I cannot keep up the sickening job of writing to the people for ever.
If you can manage £10, I dare say I can get the rest in time somehow.
P.S.—I have been too busy to send Pope for the chameleons so will expect them when you come. The above is Ned Jones's cartoon of the Eastern style.
I received your good old letter, and am very glad to hear of Henrietta's decided improvement. Will you give her my love, as well as to Maggie? I hope the three of you will be even better at arrival of this than at departure of yours. As for me, I have no chance of getting away just now, as I am tied down to my canvas till all the flower part of it is finished. I have done many more roses, and have established an arrangement with a nursery-gardener at Cheshunt, whereby they reach me every two days at 2 s. 6 d. for a couple of dozen each time, which is better than paying a shilling apiece at Cov[ent] Garden. Also honeysuckles I have succeeded in getting at the Crystal Palace, and have painted a lot already in my foreground, and hope for more. All these achievements were made only with infinite labour on my part, and the loss of nearly a whole week in searching. But the picture gets on well now.
The peahen has hatched two out of her four eggs, and now stalks about with two little whining queernesses at her heels— no bigger or brighter than ordinary chicks, but perhaps a little steadier on their pins.
Chapman is at Malvern doing the cold-water business. He lodges at a house called the Berry, and is improving but slowly. . . .
The other day I sent Christina this month's Fraser, which contains a review of her in conjunction with Miss Ingelow, Mrs. Browning, and Miss Procter. The palm among living poetesses is given to Christina on the whole. But probably she will be sending it on to you. I do not know who is the writer, though I have some idea it may be a man of the
I have not yet seen William's chameleons, but shall, I believe, to-morrow, as he is coming here and proposes to bring them. I have been so busy that I have not been anywhere except where my picture took me to look for flowers. I got three different parcels of honeysuckles from three different friends in three different parts of England, none of which were of any use, being broken and faded. Then I got some from a nursery at Waltham Cross which were not much good either, and lastly from the Crystal Palace. All with much delay and bother. So you see I have had a time of it.
A friend of Mr. Mitchell, who is to have the Venus , called from Yorkshire to see it the other day, and was much delighted. I hope it may do me good when it gets there.
Write again when you can, and I will give you such news as there is in return. The best news I can have is that you are all well.
I have left the Grand Hôtel, and am now at Hôtel de Dunkerque, 32 Rue Laffitte. I do not know how many days I may stay now. I enquired at Delacroix when it shuts, and they said it would be open in all probability to the end of the month.
I should be very glad to hear you were coming.
Fantin is anxious to see anything you may have written about his Delacroix picture. Is there anything, and where? I saw the picture, and think it has a great deal of very able painting in parts; but it is a great slovenly scrawl after all, like the rest of this incredible new French school—people painted with two eyes in one socket through merely being too lazy to efface the first, and what not. Fantin took me to see a man named Manet who has painted things of the same kind. I also went with him to Courbet's studio. Courbet was away, but I saw various works of his—by far the best an early portrait of himself about twenty-three or twenty-four, resting his head on one hand. It is rather hard and colourless, but has many of the fine qualities of a Leonardo. His other works have great merit in parts, and are all most faulty. Both he and Delacroix are geniuses much akin in style to David Scott, an exhibition of whose works would, I should think, make a great sensation here.
Will you let me know if you have written anything on Fantin? . . .
It is splendid weather, but cold.
I am extremely sorry to hear how unwell both you and Christina have been; but both, I learn from William, are better now—I trust definitively so.
I fancy most probably I shall not stay here more than a week longer now. The weather has been splendid hitherto, though rather cold. In fact, I could not have been more fortunate. But to-day is wet for the first time. It does not, however, look like a hopeless case of wet. I have done no work at all as yet, but shall probably do a little if I stay a week longer. I took, according to my habit, enough work to last me for three months in case anything detained me.
Paris is very much altered since I was last here, but I keep in so narrow a circle that I see little of the change. I have bought very little—only four Japanese books, and some photographs from the early Italian masters which William will be much interested in. I went to his Japanese shop, but found that all the costumes were being snapped up by a French artist, Tissot, who it seems is doing three Japanese pictures, which the mistress of the shop described to me as the three wonders of the world, evidently in her opinion quite throwing Whistler into the shade. She told me, with a great deal of laughing, about Whistler's consternation at my collection of china. This, however, will interest William more than you.
It is well worth while for English painters to try and do something now, as the new French school is simple putrescence and decomposition. There is a man named Manet (to whose studio I was taken by Fantin), whose pictures are for the most part mere scrawls, and who seems to be one of the lights of the school. Courbet, the head of it, is not much better.
I shall bring the dear old Ancient a little tortoise-shell purse, and a fan for Christina, and a dress for Maggie, which I hope will not be an abomination to her. It is a sort of brown Coburg, with some embroidery on it, simpler and in better taste than most such things I have seen.
I have changed my address, as you will see, and am now in a house which is one of those curious mechanical contrivances peculiar to this country. My two rooms have seven doors in them, which, according as you open or shut
them, offer you a choice of sounds and sensations, varying between the apex of a windmill, the interior of a paddle-box, and the circular whirl of a maleström.
I am very sorry indeed to have missed your visit and that of my aunts to-day. I was gone to Brown's exhibition, where he is hard at work preparing for the public, and, finding I could be of use to him, I stayed late. Thanks for the necklace and sketches. I hope you made yourselves comfortable, and saw what there was to see. I wish you would all name an early day to come and see me again.
Your last letter is very considerate, but I almost fancy you ought to have some security in the shape of note of
My prospects promise to improve very much just now, through the high prices which some of my pictures have fetched in the market. Gambart, the great dealer, to whom I sold a recent picture of mine ( The Blue Bower ), has re-sold it to a Mr. Mendel of Manchester, as I understand, for 1,500 guineas! This, as it was not a large picture, and had been painted in two months, is about the highest price proportionately that I ever heard of a picture fetching. Nor is this the only similar instance lately. I need hardly tell you that the price I received for the above picture, as for others, is very small, compared to the enormous rate at which it has been re-sold; but such facts cannot fail to tell very shortly on my own prices in a very marked manner, though in themselves mere market-meteors, the lucky hits of a dealer's ingenuity. I may thus after all perhaps (who knows?) be in a position to re-pay you my debt sooner than I looked to do so. Already I am getting commissions and effecting sales to greater advantage than hitherto, and such advantage cannot but continue on the increase for the present. Should you mention this phenomenal market-transaction to any one, it would be better not to dwell on the fact that the dealer has made an enormous profit on the price paid to me. It is of course my interest to help him in getting the highest prices he can for my works, and not express the least discontent at his being the first to profit to such extent by the market he creates for them. I will take care my turn comes too.
I do not know whether you may have seen an article in the Athenæum on some of my pictures about a month ago.
These matters are all egotistical, but I have reason to know that you take an interest in my affairs, and are glad I should do well.
I am extremely sorry to hear so poor an account of household health with you. I really fare better in this respect than I have any right to look for. Referring to my diary, I find there have been only twelve days during the five months ending with the close of October which have not been spent by me in work at my easel. I have completely missed all exercise and change of air this year, yet have no reason to complain as regards health.
What success I may have with any problems or enigmas in the Latin tongue I view as being in itself quite a doubtful question. It strikes me that a very amusing pastime for some of your leisure hours might be found in such labours connected with the great Philological Society's Dictionary as William has devoted himself to for some time past. If you felt any call in that direction, no doubt he could put you in the way of it, and the editors would be thankful.
Miss Isa Craig called on me to-day, and seems nice. I couldn't do it; but, as the poem seemed good for illustration, I sent her on to Sandys, and, failing him, to Hughes. . . . Only I fear they've no idea of Sandys' prices. Hughes perhaps might do it cheap for love of you. You know he's painted a capital picture from your Birthday, with the poem at full length on the frame. You ought to call and see it, which would please him.
Your Hero is splendid: I don't know if I'd ever read it. You ought to write more such things.
I think I forgot to tell you about that other poem shown to Sandys. He read it, and on reflection said the only thing he could think of was to make a drawing of the woman lying ead, with some women preparing the grave-clothes and baby-clothes at the same time. This seems a fine idea, but requiring to be pointed to in some way in the poem. Would you mind having it called Grave-clothes and Cradle-clothes, or something of that sort?
Love to Mamma and all. What in the world has become of William? And is Hunt married? I'm coming down soon.
By the bye, I suppose you know now of one of the saddest things I ever heard—Mrs. Hannay's death on the 29th. I got a circular, and haven't yet had courage to write. When I've done so, I should like to call with William, if he thinks of doing so.
The Beloved is going away on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. I should like you to see it, if you can, finished, as I know you nurse my productions in your dear heart. William will be dining on Tuesday, so would you come then, and stay to dinner? Sisters also of course if practicable.
I am very anxious to paint your portrait. Do tell me what day next week you could come conveniently, sit to me, and dine. Maria and Christina might come too if they could, and enjoy the garden.
Chapman, whom you met here, has been making interest with me to get Christina to sit to him for a portrait. Now I want to do it myself, as soon as I have done yours, so shall remain neutral.
You know Chapman is painting a little picture suggested by Christina's sonnet A Triad.
I think we said the 24th for your next sitting, but suppose we say instead, Tuesday of next week. . . .
I have a proof of the title-page to Christina's book.
I should be very happy to receive Lord and Lady C. Thynne's visit on the Wednesday of next week, any time between three and five o'clock. I hope this may be convenient to them, and am sorry to be so precise as to time, but am very busy. Of course all the introduction needed will be that they should send in their card when they call, as I shall be expecting them unless I hear to the contrary.
Thanks for your most kind and I know most sincere good wishes. I have been pretty well in health, and any imperfections in this respect I may pretty safely attribute more to a confirmed habit of life and work than to any defect of constitution. My work progresses continually, such as it is, and I should much like to have an early opportunity of showing you all I have in hand.
Uncle Henry was here yesterday for the second time since he has been in town. I am sorry to say he seems to me far from well. Christina, as you probably know, is in Scotland. Her book is just out at last. Perhaps you have a copy. If not, I shall be happy to send you one. I think Mamma is looking very well again. I have made some progress lately with her portrait, which every one says is very like.
My garden is looking nice again now, though left all to itself, and a wilderness in most people's opinions. I prefer to compare it to an Eden. At any rate, it is primitive enough by this time for the simile.
By the bye, I have been intending, as you probably know, to build a studio in this house, either at the top or in the garden, and have only been deterred hitherto from taking up the job by want of time to attend to it. Now, on enquiry, an architect gives it as his opinion that the thing on various accounts is not easy to accomplish. Thus, could I meet with a satisfactory residence elsewhere, possessing
By the bye, let me ask a favour. Will you kindly address me as in the signature of this letter? I have so written my name nearly all my life, and varieties in one's nomenclature are apt to create confusion. Not that the matter is of consequence to any one, not even greatly to
I have been often thinking of you, and meaning to write. . . . The other day an extraordinary apparent German
I have been working chiefly at the Toilette picture, and at the one with the gold sleeve, both of which I think you know. The former will, I think, be my best picture hitherto. I engaged it some time ago to a Mr. Leyland of Liverpool for 450 guineas, and hope to send it him by the end of September. The other one I have not yet sold, so that all the money is to come when I do. And, what between this and the Beatrice ; (which I have engaged for 300 guineas to Mr. William Cowper), I hope a goodish sum will come in all at once, and enable me for the first time to open a banking account at the end of this year with a goodish sum, especially as, besides these two, I have some other small things in a forward state and still for sale; nor do I anticipate any difficulty in selling any of them, though I have as yet hardly shown them to any one. I am glad Mr. Cowper (who is Lord Palmerston's stepson, and was Chief Commissioner of the Board of Works in the last Ministry) is to have the Beatrice , as he, and his wife particularly, are very appreciative people, and it is pleasanter sending a poetic work where it will be seen by cultivated folks than to a cotton-spinner or a dealer. I could have got considerably more for the picture in some such quarter, I make no doubt, as I had several requests for it; but, as Mr. Cowper had asked me for a picture, and is not at present a very rich man, I preferred offering it him for 300 guineas. This panic year, strange to say, promises to be much my best as yet.
I have been telling you all this about myself, because I know you are a dear old thing and like to hear it all.
I lately sent back Colonel Feilding's picture, with the offer to paint his wife's portrait in exchange for it if he liked; but this he declined, as she had recently been sitting for a portrait, and couldn't stand it over again, and moreover did not wish to part with the picture, as her mother had given it to her.
Mr. Clabburn, who gave me both the peacocks, old and new, was here to-day; and says the present one may be expected with confidence to start a tail next year, as he will then be three years old, which is the proper age. He shows no sign as yet.
I left London on Monday, and till to-night have been at Winchelsea, which is a most delightful old place for quietness and old-world character. I have got you a photograph of the old church, which I shall give you on my return. The outside is fine—partly a ruin—and quite imbedded in ivy, and the inside contains some very fine tombs with effigies. I should think yourself, with Maggie or Christina or both, would find Winchelsea a most delightfully quiet sojourn some time you are leaving town. The charges at the inn were very moderate, and I should think a moderate lodging could be got in a private house. A walk of two miles takes you to a most solitary sea-beach,
On the day after our arrival at Winchelsea there was a solemn procession to inaugurate the Sessions, which were opened by the Mayor. The procession consisted of about seven persons, including the Mayor in splendid robes of scarlet lined with sables, and three officials in blue robes, one of whom was the parish barber and another the carpenter. These had silver maces—really splendid pieces of design of about the time of Edward II. or III. at latest; and I also saw the town-seal of the same period, and got an impression of it in gutta-percha—a very fine design. This procession was viewed in the street by a mob of one female child and by ourselves from the inn window. When it had entered the Town-hall, we rushed in in a mob of three, including the landlord. The public was decidedly out-numbered by the officials, who mustered perhaps fifteen in all—including a dog who belonged to one of the constables, and seemed to consider the extension of their staves during the Mayor's address to be pointedly aimed at him. The Sessions consisted of the Mayor being informed that there were no cases, and then severely animadverting on an individual who had once been found drunk in the streets about six months before, and adding that these observations having fallen from the bench would, he hoped, prevent the recurrence of such an evil in the future.
This may give you some idea of the pleasant doziness of the place, which is more to my taste I think than any other I know. Every one is eighty-two if he is not ninety-six.
I feel very much better, and have come on here to-night, having heard that there are some interesting things in the neighbourhood. We may probably visit Stratford-on-Avon, Kenilworth, and Warwick, and perhaps take some other direction also before our return. I do not, however, expect to be away much more in all than a fortnight, though it might possibly be that I remained longer.
I hope your dear old health continues good, and that
Though withdrawn for the moment, Swinburne's book is not “suppressed,” so no one need exonerate himself from having contributed to such a result. I myself jointly with Sandys devoted one afternoon to what we considered a friendly duty towards Swinburne; though not certainly, as you know, because we think the genius displayed in his works benefits by its association with certain accessory tendencies. Since then, my own constant occupations have prevented me from meddling further in the matter, or from becoming the reporter, apologist, or antagonist, of those who do or do not.
I have been out here about a week or rather more, and walking eight to ten miles a day, which I have enjoyed very much. There is plenty of delightful country all round, and the weather has been splendid. To-day, however, it seems breaking up for a time; so, as I must choose some moment to come to London and look at copies going on for me, I may probably come now, and you may see me in a day or two, but I shall, I believe, be coming into the country here or elsewhere again for a while. The hedges are still beautiful here, plentifully enriched with honeysuckles, snapdragons, and other flowers, and loaded with blackberries. Autumn gives the woods a monotony in their tints, but hardly as yet a decided change. I hope to find you well when I see you, and with love to brother and sisters and all relations am
Will you address and post this at once? Sandys's picture of Medea has been turned out of the R.A.—a most disgraceful affair. I have written also to Burnell Payne. Can you do anything in the way of denunciation?
The reminder of the solemn fact that I am a man of forty now could hardly come agreeably from any one but
I meant to have given you for your last dear birthday a sideboard which I have got, but some doing-up which it needed was not finished in time, nor indeed is yet quite done. I hope it may be of use to you, though rather large; but it is a really beautiful thing. It has a great plate-glass back with beautiful carved pillars, and some convenient drawers and receptacles. I forget the exact arrangement, but this gives some notion of it [ Diagram here]. It strikes me the best place for it would be against the folding doors either in the drawing or dining room. The pillars are carved in the “Chippendale” style, and are really beautiful.
Will you give my love to Christina? I am writing to Uncle Henry with this. I hope you are benefiting by the change, and am ever
I have paid a cheque, £30, into the Union Bank for you, and they have written to-day to Blumenthal & Co., 3945 Traghetto Sto. Benedetto, to pay you that sum. I
I am sending this to Euston Square in case they know your address there, but otherwise can only send it to the Poste Restante in hopes you may call for it. I greatly regret that your trip should have been baulked by this hitherto unexplained accident. I would have sent more money if you had told me; as it is, I send 30 instead of 20; but I presumed, from your only naming that sum, that it was all you needed. In great haste in middle of a sitting,
It is extremely vexatious to think of the inconvenience to which you have been put. However, I judge by the telegram received at Euston Square that you got my first telegram sent immediately on receipt of your first; and I suppose another which I sent on seeing the one to Christina has reached you too. I hope to-day you will have got the money—£30—which I sent through the bank to Blumenthal on the morning following your first telegram, and that you will not find it necessary to cut your trip short. I will show your letter to Mamma to-night, but probably she has one too.
I wish I had come with you to Italy, but did not see the great desirableness of it till just after you started. I suppose from what you say that your pockets or luggage were rifled
Of course I hope to hear of your getting the money, as this will ease my mind about your position.
P.S.—I wished of course that the bank here should telegraph to Blumenthal to pay you the money; but this they would not do, as they said frauds would follow such a practice.
Here I am after toils worthy of Æneas. I shall write before long to the Antique.
This is to ask you to send Scott any Notes and Queries that contain articles about the Fairford windows attributed to A. Durer.
I spent a couple of hours in the Exhibition at Leeds, where there are a good many things worth seeing: a most glorious Sandro Botticelli ( Nativity ), a very fine Carpaccio ( called Landing of Queen Cornaro in Cyprus), and splendid heads by Titian, Morone, Bellini, and Velasquez.
This is a delightful place, and I slept better last night than I have done for a long time.
Your friends here send regards.
I have been meaning to write to you, but was in hopes of being able to give better news of my eyesight, which I am sorry to say is not the case yet. My sleep has improved extremely.
The glen belonging to the house here is a perfect paradise —one of the most beautiful spots I ever was in—and much of the scenery around is interesting. I take good walks and have a good appetite, and in most respects am perfectly well. The weather is in the main fine, and everything favourable; Miss Boyd's kindness being extreme, and Scotus a good companion, though not over fond of locomotion. Visitors are fortunately most rare, only one party having as yet turned up. Of this party one member was Lady Waterford, who again spoke of the illustrations she had been making, in conjunction with Mrs. Boyle, to Christina's Maiden Song, and told me that Mr. Gladstone had repeated the poem to them by heart.
I do not yet know how long I may be staying, but I fear I should find work so little possible, were I to return to London at present, that I have no temptation to do so. However, I may perhaps soon find that I am inconveniencing Miss Boyd in her movements by staying here so late in the year, and that may bring me back.
With love to all at home, including Uncle Henry,
I'm afraid I didn't write very hopefully to you last time, so I had better enclose you a letter just received from Bader, the oculist of Guy's Hospital, who was the first I consulted. I have not seen him for some little time; but, since being here, received a note from him, and wrote in reply respecting some additional troublesome symptoms which had supervened since my seeing him. His favourable view seems, as you see, to be unaltered, however, if that is worth much. I thought at any rate you would like to see the note.
I have just got your dear letter, and one from William. In yours I think I detect a funny old intention of writing large for the benefit of my sight. This would be quite in the Antique spirit.
The kindness of Miss Boyd is unbounded, and I suppose I shall not be returning to London at present. The weather here continues almost entirely fine in the daytime; indeed, more splendid walking weather could not well be imagined.
I get up very late here, to give myself the utmost benefit of sleep, which continues in a
vastly improved condition. I then simmer gradually to walking-heat, and walk accordingly. In
the evening, after dinner, we read aloud, and sometimes play whist. There is an aunt of Miss
Boyd's, an old maiden lady named Miss Losh, a year younger than your funny old self, who is
staying here, and is a nice, cheerful, intelligent old thing. I read a vast amount of
Christina aloud the other evening, which was much enjoyed, though every one knew it already.
The 2nd vol. only is here. A passage occurs in
L. E. L. (Christina's poem) which says
“And rabbit thins his fur.”
Miss Losh surmised this to refer to the habit of rabbits
With love to all,
P.S.—I did not mention in my last that Scotus's pictures are now quite finished, and look very fine. There is a hedgehog together with other beasts, in the last one, which would delight Christina.
I like the plan you tell me of. If I were you, I would certainly try and get Payne to conclude with (or include in the series) a volume of selected Minor Poets, comprising many good unknown things, such as Ebenezer Jones, etc. I would lighten your labours by assisting you in this. I don't understand if old poets are to be put into the series.
As to the etchings, Smetham is an available man certainly; but do you propose having all the volumes done by one man?
The only other man I can think of is Nettleship (unless Halliday might be also eligible). Nettleship would do well for Shelley or anything of that sort.
Of course I should be very glad if Smetham were selected, and he has the advantage of being quite as good at landscape as figures.
I shall see you tonight at Scott's, but write in case talk be difficult there.
I send you my sonnets, which are such a lively band of bogies that they may join with the skeletons of Christina's various closets, and entertain you by a ballet. Their shanks
It is to be feared indeed that they have left a growing family who may be trained to the same line of business; but in the long run the cock crows, or the turnip-head falls off the broomstick, or the price of phosphorus becomes an obstacle, or the police turn up if necessary.
I have not been to see you for whole ages, and am really most sorry to be so long without your dear company. The last time I came you were gone to bed, and ever since I have had an extraordinary number of engagements. I have taken to going out more than before to dinner-parties etc., in the hope of shaking off ennui; and, as soon as one begins that sort of thing, one gets involved to an extent quite unforeseen. I shall certainly see you in an evening or two, you dear old thing. And, if you can come up to my place, the tent and weather together make the garden charming at present. However, I may possibly be out one day before the end of this week, so will not ask you to come without appointment.
I hope you continue to have good news of Christina. I shall turn up at Penkill myself some time before very long, I dare say.
Here I am since Thursday afternoon, as I know you will be glad to hear in your maternal solicitude. I left London on Tuesday, and spent two nights and a day at old Miss Losh's house near Carlisle, where, as you may be sure, she made me very comfortable. I saw in the neighbourhood some most remarkable architectural works by a former Miss Losh, who was the head of the family about the year 1830. She must have been really a great genius, and should be better known. She built a church in the Byzantine style, which is full of beauty and imaginative detail, though extremely severe and simple. Also a mausoleum to her sister—a curious kind of Egyptian pile of stones with a statue of the lady in the centre, and opposite a Saxon cross—a sort of obelisk, reproduced from an old one, but with restorations by the lady herself. Also a Pompeian house for the schoolmaster, a parsonage, and a most interesting cemetery-chapel attached to a cemetery which she presented to the parish before such things were instituted by law. The chapel is an exact reproduction of one which was found buried in the sands in Cornwall, and excited a good deal of controversy at the time under the name of “The Lost Church.” She also built a large addition to the family mansion at Woodside in the Tudor style. All these things are real works of genius, but especially the church at Wreay, a most beautiful thing. She was entirely without systematic study as an architect, but her practical as well as inventive powers were extraordinary. I am sure the whole of this group of her works would interest you extremely, and I should suggest your paying a visit to the neighbourhood on one of your holidays. There is also most lovely scenery, and some amiable Loshes besides the Miss Losh you wot of, whose house is called Ravenside (five miles from Carlisle), where I am sure she would be delighted to welcome you and yours if she heard you were
Everything here is as pleasant as ever, and Miss Boyd sends you and Maggie her love, as does Scotus also. I have brought no work down, as I felt need of rest and was uncertain as to time.
I hope you are benefiting at Folkestone, and shall be delighted to hear so from yourself. What a good piece of news William's promotion was!
There is some prospect of Brown coming down here. Miss Losh seems very uncertain.
I am printing some old and new poems—chiefly old—for private circulation; and shall send them you of course when the proofs are complete. To-day I am calling-in William's valuable aid for revision. My object is to keep them by me as stock to be added to for a possible future volume; but in any case I thought it necessary to print them, as I found blundered transcripts of some of my old things were flying about, and would at some time have got into print perhaps,— a thing afflictive to one's bogie.
With love to Maggie,
P.S.—I should have said that just before I left town I at last got possession of my stables, and shall very probably be turning them at once into a fine big studio, but must first see about getting leave to build and an extension of lease.
P.P.S.—I suppose I told you of my seeing Bowman before I left London, and that, instead of taking a guinea fee (which he refused), he proposes to pay me 150 for a little water-colour which is fortunately just upon finished, so that the tin will come in conveniently on my return to town without much additional trouble. Scott and Miss Boyd both desire to be most kindly remembered to you.
After much bother with the proofs, and constantly finding new blunders, I have bethought myself to bother you with them, so send them with this by book-post. Would you read them through, and, if you find anything obviously wrong, correct it? In punctuation I have my own ideas, which may not be yours, so I will ask you generally to leave this alone; but, if anything seems like a printer's error, will you notify it to me, and I will tell you whether to alter it? Also I should wish much to know of anything you disliked in any poem, as it is still time to alter.
I believe I am likely to cut out Mary in Summer , The Choice (three sonnets), and The Bullfinch (sonnet); but am not yet quite certain. I hesitated much to print Ave, because of the subject; but thought it well done, and so included it. Do you think the foot-note is sufficient as a protest? The question I asked about “wert” and “wast” refers chiefly to a line in the first paragraph of this— “Thou hast been sister, etc.,”—which if admissible I should make, “Thou once wert sister,” etc. So, if you think this will do, put it.
Sonnet, French Liberation of Italy , I have removed from the second section, and shall not replace.
When you have realized all your ideas on the proofs, I wish you would write me at once. You need not send them back to me, as I have another set. But I will write you when to send them on to the printer. Love to Christina.
Thanks for your valuable letter. I am attending to it, and will do so further when I get your concluding admonitions. I have sent the Italian poem to Maggie to see if she makes the same remarks, and should like to show it to Teodorico. You know, I think there is no doubt that metre of this kind abounds in the early poets.
I think I shall omit the Song and Music , page 67.
I remember I had made additions (now lost) at points which I thought abrupt in Stratton Water and Staff and Scrip . In Stratton Water some stanzas were inserted after “The nags were in the stall” (page 48), to give the gradual impression of his recognizing the girl whom he thought dead. Do you think it is necessary to write something of the sort again?
In Staff and Scrip there was something added where the damsel gives her the relics, to develop this incident and help the transition. Does this seem necessary? Or is there any other point in any of the poems which seems to want working out?
I have added a first stanza to Sister Helen , as Scott said the impression of what was going on was not perfectly distinct.
Would the title of the Sonnet at page 93 run better On the Refusal of Aid to Hungary, 1849, to Poland, 1861, to Crete, 1867, or is it better in the simpler form?
The article in Tinsley is gratifying. . . . I suppose, from yourMy Sister's Sleep will I fancy render it necessary for me to include that rather spoony affair in my reprint, as, now attention is attracted a little to it, it may go on till the thing gets into print again without the correction it ought to have. What think you? I don't remember it clearly, and would be obliged if you or Christina would take the trouble of copying it from the Germ , and sending it here by return of post. If Christina would read my things, and give any hints that occur to her, I would be thankful. Tell her this with my love.
I was very glad to hear from you again, and know that you have been enjoying your trip. The weather here is splendid, though so warm for walking that I generally change my shirt on coming in!
I am doing no work except a little in the way of revising proofs, at which William is now affording me his usual most valuable help. He has fallen very foul of a little Italian poem of mine in which he finds various errors of metre and even of grammar. I would like Maria's opinion, and so enclose it without mentioning the weak points found by William. Will she at her leisure give me her verdict? Of course it is meant to be a very irregular sort of antiquated Italian, and I am pretty sure quite as bad slips are continual among the earliest poets.
I have seen Tinsley, which is so far satisfactory that, after twenty years, one stranger has discovered one's existence. The . . . opinions supremely correct for the most part, as far as they go !! From what was said in the former article about William, and from the absence of all recurrence to him in this one, I have no doubt he will furnish matter for a third.
I believe I have yet nine years of my lease at Cheyne Walk to run. Thus my plan will be to apply for an extension of lease before building; but, if this is refused, or a very considerable immediate increase of rent made the condition of it, I shall then, I think, build irrespective of contingencies, as nine years is a long time; indeed, Time may be no longer for one, for anything one knows.
With love to Maggie,
P.S.—It is pleasant to know that poor Henrietta is suffering somewhat less.
I believe the author of the Tinsley articles is probably a man named Forman, unknown to me.
Your second to hand to-day. I'll now go over some of your ground—neglecting such things as I quite agree in, and ignoring others here and there, where they involve corrections I must attend to.
Page 25. I don't like to shorten the last line. It used to stand “Saint Mary Virgin,” etc. Is this better? There is a point in this poem I am going to change, either less or more thus (the present simile trivial for the sea):—
Page 5. A question I wish to ask on my own hook is whether trembling or tremulous would be best in the last line in italics. The first is objectionable because of stepping above, but does not the second trip awkwardly? “Circlewise”: would this be better, “They sit in circle”? I dare say you agree with the removal of lapse for “flight” in last stanza but one.
Page 10. Does the last stanza of this page seem awkwardly interpolated? and does it seem that a more distinct speech for the spirit is necessary to introduce the next stanza?
Page 8. Third stanza—last line sounds shortish, but is not. What do you say? Suggest anything.
Page 65. Hecate wouldn't do, as it reminds the general world of Macbeth. I see no objection to Luna, but none either to Cynthia except that people know it less as meaning the moon. Dian would answer best of all for the meaning of the passage, but I didn't like the sound so well as Luna. I like the long lines myself.
Page 14. It occurs to me to go back and ask your opinion on a point here. The stanza “On London stones” is combined from what was once two stanzas. The change was made when I printed the poem first.
Page 147. “Care, gold, and care,” can be altered to “Vain gold, vain lore,” which meets your views. There is a very vexatious point connected with this sonnet which was one reason for my thinking of omitting the three. The idea, “They die not, never having lived,” is identical with one at the close of Browning's In a Gondola. I know that I had never then read that poem, and that on first reading it this annoying fact struck me at once; but then this is not known to the world. The point is just what is wanted, and not possible to alter. There is a similar case in the Nocturn (page 8)— “Lamps of an auspicious soul” stood in my last correction (made long ago) “pellucid,” which is much finer. But lately in the Ring and Book I came on pellucid soul applied to Caponsacchi, and the inevitable charge of plagiarism struck me at once as impending whenever my poem should be printed.
There is also in the Ring and Book“Pale frail wife,” which interferes in the same way with the “pale frail mist” of my New Year's Burden also of course written long before. But this I left.
Page 167. I also object to difficult rhyming with vault of course most absolutely. But, the distance from rhyme to rhyme being considerable, and alteration difficult, I have left it. I suppose I did not notice it at the moment of writing the sonnet (in front of the picture in British Institution many years ago), though I know I did just afterwards.
Page 169. “Life touching lips,” etc. I remember you expressed a preference once before for the old line, which seems to me quite bad. “Solemn poetry” belongs to the class of phras absolutely forbidden, I think, in poetry. It
On reflection, I think the best plan will be for you to post your set of proofs to me at once on getting this letter, as I have other changes to make in them before sending back to the printer, and can more shortly do them myself than explain them to you.
Please answer questions here asked as soon as possible. I will probably apply again for Christina's views with the next revise.
Thanks for your note to-day. I think I shall most likely omit the Italian poem. At the same time I get Christina's copy of Sister's Sleep , which I returned tattooed to you for consultation. The thing is very distasteful to me as it stands, and I have quite determined on all changes made in pen and ink. In pencil I indicate a very radical change in the omission of two more stanzas which would eliminate the religious element altogether. Scott thinks the poem in
do you like best
“Ah let not life be still distraught,” (as it stands) or
“Ah let not hope” etc. ? In this poem it has crossed my mind to change the title, and merely use a proper name, as Dorothy. What is the meaning of that name? I forget. But I do not think I shall really do this. What say you? “Whose speech truth knows not” etc. is better than faith, is it not?
But perhaps, as it occurs to me the proof will probably have left you before you get this, I had better put off further questions till I can send you them again in a revised state.
I don't think dating throughout would do.
I had not heard of Leys's death. It is indeed a sad and premature event. He called on me the year before last, or beginning of last, looking perfectly well.
P.P.S.—What do you think of the proposed note to Sister's Sleep ? The curse of In Memoriam would be thus avoided. I remember too there is some Christmas Eve business in In Memoriam, but what I cannot remember. Of course the note is strictly true. This In Memoriam question was one great reason for my burking it.
Will you thank Christina much, with my love?
To-day I have sent my proofs to the printers, and told them to forward you a corrected set, as well as one to me. This I suppose will be before many days. I benefited much by your labours, as you will see. Your last line to the Satan sonnet I adopted with a slight change, but am rather uncertain whether I may not change back again. What you said of the foggy opening of Nocturn induced me to restore a second stanza which I had cut out in printing it, in case this might make things any clearer. I have also added three new stanzas towards the close of this poem, to develop the sudden flight of the bogie on finding another bogie by the girl's bed, which seemed funkyish, though of course the right thing if she was already in love. I have also added three stanzas at the point I referred to in Stratton Water , and made the proposed restoration (with addition) to the Nineveh . Also added a further useful stanza in the middle of Sister Helen .
About “Miching Mallecho,” I must say Keightley's explanation seems to me final, unless he has really quite made some mull of the language. Have you reason to think so? Certainly the coincidence you have been struck by is very singular, and, failing Keightley, well worth following up. I suppose the name is not Longfellow's invention?
Have you heard of the death of poor little Burnell Payne after a few days' illness?
Love from all here.
I suppose ere this you have doubtless got the new proofs of which I received a set yesterday. You will see much that is due to your labours in them. However, I have been at work on them still further now, and have done various things. I have revised the additional verses to Stratton Water , which were rather in the rough, and have added one further on about the priest in a funk. In theNocturn I have made the following change in the third, which now runs:—
Now there is another question. The first conception of this poem was of a man not yet in love who dreams vaguely of a woman who he thinks must exist for him. This is not very plainly expressed, and not I think very valuable, and it might be better to refer the love to a known woman whom he wishes to approach. There is only one stanza I think that stands in the way of this interpretation,—the one beginning“As since man waxed deathly wise”; and I want your opinion as to whether it would not be better to cut this stanza out. It is a good one, but is rather objectionable as resembling in its rhymes the penultimate preceding one. I think it should go. Another slight point. The fourth stanza used to say:—
You will have noticed another new stanza in Sister Helen — “But he calls for ever on your name,” etc. This is valuable for elucidation. However, I have improved both this and stanza I.
In Penumbra I have altered in last stanza “rasp the sands” to “chafe.” The other seemed violent and inexact. In sonnet A Dark Day — “sowed hunger once,”—I believe this used to stand since. Which is better?
Venus sonnet has— “She hath the apple in” etc. Now “apple” is here placed awkwardly between two vowels, which makes the prosody dubious. Does any change suggest itself?
In the new sonnet, Parted Love , the last line is declared by Scott to be too violent. Do you think so? It occurs to me to say, “And thy feet stir not, and thy body endures.” Do you like this better? It conveys the sense of impotent retention, which is wanted, but that is already conveyed in line seven. You will observe that I have now included two old sonnets, Autumn Idleness and A Match with the Moon . The
The Card Dealer you will find improved, I doubt not.
I am now sending the printer seven new sonnets, of which four are for designs of mine—viz., two for Cassandra , one for Passover , and one for Magdalene . I think this may help me in defending the subjects against plagiarists. I think all are very good. I have also begun two new poems. One, called The Orchard Pit , will be my best thing; but I have not yet got much beyond a careful synopsis in prose, which I consider a very good plan of action. I shall certainly go on and finish it as soon as may be, as I feel great confidence in it. The other I have done rather more to. I find this place most favourable to writing, and should soon get into very regular habits of production.
However, I had determined to leave here next Thursday, but find so much more benefit within the last few days than before that I may perhaps stay on till Tuesday next, on which day I certainly expect to start homeward, but may be detained a day with Miss Losh. I have felt far from well till just now, but am now feeling better.
I was nearly forgetting the Italian poem, which I had put pretty well out of my head. I sent it to Teodorico, and enclose you his answer and new version, which no doubt you will think with me rather modern and loaded. I cannot gather clearly that he objects on grounds of prosody other than what may be said to depend on taste. If you see him, you might discuss the point. I must answer his letter. Of course if I print the thing it must be as I wrote it, or nearly so. Should a version resulting from mine and his occur to you, I would be obliged by your sending it me. I am sick of the affair.
With love to all,
Have you seen the wombat?
I may as well answer one or two points in your letter.
Page 24. I fear the sea must remain at Nazareth; you know an old painter would have made no bones if he wanted it for his background. The lines following this I have altered now.
I have made a change in the Hill Summit (page 141) thus:—
I am in a rather productive mood, and have written two sonnets since writing to you yesterday. For one of the Cassandra ones, I want to know whether Achilles killed Hector with a sword or a spear. Will you look this up? or perhaps you know.
Scott wanted me to tell you that you were to keep back a certain proof of his where a newly-discovered Durer
Will you thank Maggie for her most complete information about the Passover? Also Christina for the Shrine in the Italian taste which she has reared for the wombat. I fear his habits tend inveterately to drain-architecture. I wrote for directions about his food to Nettleship, who is always at the Zoo, and he has sent me some. It appears the wombat follows people all over the house!
About the Byron business, I certainly think I have heard — allude to the connexion with his sister. I also thought at first there could be no doubt, but am very uncertain now. It seems to me by no means impossible that Lady Byron laboured under a hallucination on this subject; and that, even if she did rear an illegitimate child of Byron's, this particular attribution of its birth may have been her own inveterate fancy. The question of relationship raised in the Times is well worth considering also. Did you see a letter by a man named Radclyffe in the Telegraph (I think)? He was brought up by Mrs. Leigh, and speaks in the most reverential terms of her,—employing I must say a rather Irish style of phraseology. It has been sent here, and, if you have not seen it, I can look it up for you.
(P.S.—I send it.)
Lastly . . . the vital interest of his poetry is all we have to do with.
P.S.—Scott agrees, especially with the last sentiment.
I saw a letter from W. Howitt in one paper about Lady Byron's great obstinacy in fixed ideas.
I still have rather a grudge to the three sonnets called The Choice . Do you feel sure they ought to be in? Also to the two on Ingres's picture , which are merely picturesque, and which stupid people are sure to like better than better things.
I came back last night, and shall of course be seeing you immediately; but write lest you should write again to Penkill.
Your last letter has already been sent back to me here. I wrote some more poetry, and one Ballad, which is my best thing, I think— Troy Town .
The Wombat is “A Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness.”
I have got Tinsley to-day. They treat you very respectfully, but are obtuse about Mrs. Holmes Grey , which they discuss at great length. Perhaps you will have it.
I have seen no one yet.
Will you dine here Thursday? I hope so. Nettleship and Brown are coming—also Tebbs . . . . I hope you will manage to come.
I wished last night to speak to you on a subject which however I find it necessary to put in writing. I am very anxious to know your view of it, and to remind you beforehand that no mistrust or unbrotherly feeling could possibly have caused my silence till now.
Various friends have long hinted from time to time at the possibility of recovering my lost MSS., and when I was in Scotland last year Scott particularly referred to it. Some months ago Howell of his own accord entered on the matter, and offered to take all the execution of it on himself. This for some time I still hung back from accepting; but eventually I yielded, and the thing was done, after some obstacles, on Wednesday or Thursday last, I forget which. An order had first to be obtained from the Home Secretary, who strangely enough is an old and rather intimate acquaintance of my own—H. A. Bruce. . . . All in the coffin was found quite perfect; but the book, though not in any way destroyed, is soaked through and through, and had to be still further saturated with disinfectants. It is now in the hands of the medical man who was associated with Howell in the disinterment, and who is carefully drying it leaf by leaf. There seems reason to fear that some minor portion is obliterated, but I most hope this may not prove to be the most important part. I shall not, I believe, be able to see it for at least a week yet.
I trust you will not—but I know you cannot—think that I showed any want of confidence in not breaking this painful matter to you before its issue. It was a service I could not ask you to perform for me, nor do I know any one except Howell who could well have been entrusted with such a trying task. It was necessary, as we found, that a lawyer should be employed in the matter, to speak to the real nature of the MSS., as difficulties were raised to the last by the Cemetery Authorities as to their possibly being papers the removal of which involved a fraud.
I am glad to hear you are getting better, and very glad you view the matter on which I wrote as I do.
Yesterday I went to see the book at the Doctor's house. It will take some days yet to dry, and is in a disappointing but not hopeless state.
P.S.—You know I always meant to dedicate the book to you. This I shall of course still do.
Could you dine here Sunday? One or two fellows are coming, and I would esteem it a boon if you could come.
I hope you are better. I got the MSS. to-day.
In setting Dunn to work at your binding to-day, I find I need the exact size. If you will send it me by return of post, I dare say I shall be able to let you have the thing on Saturday, or Monday at latest. The colour could not be better than that apple-green roan; but, if they won't take the trouble of staining the cloth to this, let the binder send me his patterns and I will choose a grey of some sort. I remember to have seen a sort of dull indigo-grey once which is not a bad colour.
Will you thank Christina for the arrival this morning of Commonplace, which I already like the looks of? Also thanks to yourself for the Pall Mall article, which I will return shortly. It is of course the best I have yet seen. Among the fault-findings as to points of expression at the end, I rather agree with some, but not with others; notably not with that about the closing sentence of the Memoir, to which I see no objection—though it certainly belongs, in legitimate measure, to the class of expression which the Yankees have vulgarized by hyperbole.
I should, as you may suppose, have written before this in answer to yours, if I had been able to give any very favourable account of myself, but I am not very brilliant. I suppose I may perhaps stay a fortnight longer. Stillman is a very pleasant and kindly companion, never obtrusive and always helpful. . . . His little boy is, I fear, not for this world.
I have written just a sheet of additions to my book since I came here, and it is now printing—to wit, a poem called The Stream's Secret , of which I had a few opening stanzas already done, and a few additional sonnets. I shall certainly get the book out before the end of April, as three or four friendly hands are already at work on it for the May periodicals. Swinburne is to do it in the Fortnightly . . . . The binding is in progress, and will I hope be a success. . . .
God bless you, dear old darling, is the heartfelt prayer of
I have read Commonplace (which I return by bookpost), and like it very much. It certainly is not dangerously exciting to the nervous system, but it is far from being dull for all that, and I should think it likely to take. Stillman and I noted one or two trifles on the opposite blank pages for your consideration—mere trifles. He likes it much also.
I return the MS. by bookpost. No doubt Ellis will be very glad to have it as soon as you can let him. I am glad Miss Boyd is to do the woodcuts.
P.S.—Of course I think your proper business is to write poetry, and not Commonplaces.
P.S.S.—You will be sorry to learn that I hear from Boulogne to-day that old Maenza is dead, just as he was thinking of making a move towards Italy. His poor old wife is of course in a sad state. If any of you would like to write condolences, the address is 19 Rue Simoneau, Boulogne-sur-Mer. She did not write to me herself, but a certain Neapolitan music-master named Siesto, whom I remember there centuries ago, and whose feelings are expressed in three notes of admiration at a time.
I have not written to you for an age, but have been meaning to do so, only things did not look promising enough to be worth talking about. However, for the last few days this glorious weather seems to be doing me good in some ways at any rate. It is impossible not to feel a different being when such a change is going on all round one. But indeed I have improved for some time past in one essential respect— i.e. that the pains I had constantly in the eyes and head have almost entirely left me,—quite so indeed but for a very slight and occasional twinge. I have been drawing regularly, though not many hours, for several days, and am beginning to feel more cheerful. The air is delicious—the weather very hot just now while the sun lasts, but exquisitely cool in the evenings. I send you specimens of the wild flowers which are all out in immense profusion everywhere; as to the primroses, the country is already smothered in them. The white violets came in a swarm, and are now almost gone. The blue ones are everywhere now, and the wood-anemones, of which I send a few, are most delightful, as well as the wild daffodils. Lambs have tails, and begin to prance a little. They and their mothers make various toy-noises, only the mothers' are penny noises, and the lambs' halfpenny ones.
I find Mme. B[odichon] will need this place after the 7th, but I may possibly stay on till nearly that time if I can manage it. My book is to be out by the end of next week, and perhaps I shall have to come up then for a day.
Things are not quite idle with me in London, as regards work; since Dunn is grouping the studies for my large picture together, so that it will be ready for me to begin on the moment I return.
Janey Morris is here, and benefiting greatly. Top comes from time to time. I have an invitation to go to Florence
With love to all,
I ought to have put in the book I sent you that it was a birthday present. I did not forget the dear day (27 April), only forgot the inscription. I hope you liked the binding, which I think very successful; only the back of the pattern has been made too wide, which renders a ridiculous padding of blank paper necessary inside. This will be remedied in the second edition by having the back part recut. Also the fly-leaves will be printed on a greenish paper. At present they look raw. You will be glad to hear that the first edition is almost exhausted, and that Ellis is going to press with the second thousand copies. There are going to be a few special copies printed on large paper, of which I shall get one for you. I was in town for a few hours only last Tuesday week in order to inscribe copies at the publisher's, but returned here in the afternoon. I expect probably to come back for good, or at any rate for the present, early next week. But I believe nothing would do me so much good, if I could make it convenient, as to bring work down and spend the summer in this neighbourhood, so as to get out in good air whenever I pleased. There is a lovely old mansion near here in which I could rent a set of rooms which would do well to paint in, and I have serious thoughts of it; but in any case I should have to return to London at present, to start fair with my painting and see what I should be going on with.
I am wonderfully better within the last month—specially last fortnight, and have no doubt I am really benefited in every way, but London might bring on a relapse for all that.
Janey Morris is much better. Top is coming down again to-day, and we shall make some more excursions probably, as there are various things worth seeing.
My book will have brought me £300 in less than a month, which is not so bad for poetry, particularly if it goes on. Love to all.
I just hear from Mamma, with a pang of remorse, that you have ordered a copy of my Poems . You may be sure I did not fail to think of you when I inscribed copies to friends and relatives; but, to speak frankly, I was deterred from sending it to you by the fact of the book including one poem ( Jenny ) of which I felt uncertain whether you would be pleased with it. I am not ashamed of having written it (indeed I assure you that I would never have written it if I thought it unfit to be read with good results); but I feared it might startle you somewhat, and so put off sending you the book. I now do so by this post, and hope that some if not all of the pieces may be quite to your taste. Indeed, I hope that even Jenny may be so, for my mother likes it on the whole the best in the volume, after some consideration.
I dare say you have heard, from that only too partial quarter, of the commercial success of the book. The first thousand sold in little more than a week is not amiss for poetry. The second edition is now out, and I have already received £300 for my share of the profits. Of course it will not go on like this for ever, but perhaps a quiet steady saleEarly Italian Poets , as perhaps a new edition may profit by the luck of the other book.
I hope you are well, and that it may not be long before we meet.
I'm sending you Hake's book as by his request, and no doubt he would be very glad if you could do something for it. However, I believe Hueffer is disposed to do it for the Academy , if you do not. Hake, in writing to me, says: “I am almost afraid to ask it, but do you think Miss Rossetti would read Madeline? The impression it made on a lady of acute mind it would be interesting to know. . . .” I dare say Christina would like to oblige him. . . . If she liked to look through the book, Old Souls would certainly please her, and I think the others in that section, and probably much of the Epitaph; and, if she liked to write me her views, I would send to Hake.
I am afraid you must have been expecting me to-night, and I fully meant to come, having indeed put off my usual Tuesday evening appointment with the Scotts for that purpose, as I had been to my vexation so long without seeing you. But quite unintentionally I got fidgeting at a perplexing piece of work after dinner, and suddenly found it was too late to reach Euston Square with any good chance of seeing you. I then took a walk, and returned after all to the Scotts—only to find them gone to you—so the whole thing was a contretemps.
I now fear I can't get to you till Thursday, but then hope to come without fail in time to see your dear loving face. My evenings are so much taken up at present that I get to you much less often than I should wish; but believe, dearest Mother, that you are very often in my mind when I am away from you. I have been blessed with your love so long that I could imagine no good world, here or elsewhere, without it; and I blame myself a thousand times for the many days that pass me without my seeing you.
As soon as the weather is better again we must get together our family party here which had to be given up on New Year's Day. Your presence here seems to bring with it always the peace and rest which are often too long away.
Ellis is going to Florence in a hurry to see about buying old Kirkup's books, which Kirkup has resolved to sell owing to his changing quarters. He has already had some correspondence with Kirkup about it through a third person, and Kirkup expects him; but Ellis would like much to have a note of introduction from you, introducing him as a friend of ours. He is to take Kirkup my book, which it seems never got sent owing to ignorance of address, though I thought I had given it.
Ellis starts on Wednesday. Could you send him a note for the purpose by then to 33 King St.? . . . He thinks the books will prove a good affair.
I did not reflect, when I saw you to-day, that it was your birthday, though I have been thinking of it often before in the course of this month, and promising myself for certain to go and see you then if not before; remembering how this day once provided, for four children yet to be, the dearest and best of mothers. It makes me very unhappy to think that extreme worry with my work for a week or so past has put this intention to flight, and even found me oblivious of the anniversary when I saw your dear face to-day. It was a wretched thing to be prevented from benefiting by your visit, and it leaves a painful impression on my mind to remember that such a thing should have occurred just to-day. I must have seemed very neglectful lately in not coming to see you; but daily I find my work pushes the day on, and leaves me so weary that I am unable to start out anywhere till too late to reach Euston Square before your bedtime. In a day or two now I shall be somewhat less taken up, and then trust to see you without fail, and to try and get you to pay me another visit. I was very sorry also to miss Maria, who is so seldom able to come.
With all truest love and every heartfelt wish for you to-day, my dearest Mother,
I don't care about contributing to magazines. It takes the freshness off one's work when collected.
I'm delighted to hear of Christina's improvement. I fear I may not be able conveniently to get round till Sunday evening; so, if there is any increased anxiety on her account, pray let me know, that I may look in to-morrow.
The design for Maggie's binding is coming on very nicely, and I shall bring it, I do not doubt, when I come next.
I was sorry to take away Forman's book the other night, in case you had not done with it; but it belonged to Scott, and he wanted it back, to take with him to Penkill. As two of your babes figure in it, perhaps it might be a welcome possession to you; so I have asked Ellis to get a copy, and send it to you, and, when I am next in Euston Square, I will write your dear name in it.
I cannot say how sorry and vexed I am at never seeing you just now. But the fact is that my work at present is almost always standing-work, as I have to go back constantly to look at the effect; and I am so tired by dusk that, if I do not wait an hour or two to rest before going out, I am obliged to take a cab, and sacrifice my walk—without which I am done for. Thus I seldom get out till after nine, or sometimes
I suppose Christina will get away soon. If you like, I could write to Anthony at Hampstead to try to find lodgings on the Heath, as he knows the place well. I spoke of Dr. Hake at Roehampton to Maria, as I feel sure he would be delighted to receive you and Christina in the rooms he has set apart for me; but I understand from William that this seems to you to involve some awkwardness.
Goodbye, dear darling. I am going out now for a walk, and then home to bed.
Whitley Stokes has come from India, and stays only a very short time in London. He is to dine with me Wednesday at 7. I hope you can come, as I am sure he would like to see you again.
I forgot till this moment that your American Selection ought certainly, I think, to contain some specimens of poor Menken. I have her book, which is really remarkable. If there is still time to introduce them, I would mark the copy for extract, and write some short notice to precede them, to save you trouble, as I know the book.
I may probably look in to-night, but have been so often prevented that I write this.
To my surprise I cannot find my Menken's Poems anywhere. So I send you on a letter and notice received from Purnell, and am writing to him to get a copy sent to you.
My own impression is that much the best piece in the book is one called (I think) Answer Me; though I remember finding that some points of it were much better than others, and should have been inclined only to print the good stanzas, which make a fine poem enough by themselves; but I don't know if such plan would suit you. There is also a short rhymed poem which is remarkable, called I think Ambition, or something of that sort, but it is defective of a line somewhere —accidental omission, I suppose. These two, I remember, are clearly the best. However, there are one or two others I had marked, but my copy seems nowhere. One of the most characteristic is that about “Angels, sweep the leaves from my door.”
I am obliged to hand the matter over to you, in the absence of the book, as I leave town
to-morrow afternoon. My country address is
The Manor House
Love to all.
Purnell told me that she was buried in a shabby way first at Paris; but that her husband Kerr afterwards sent £200, and that she was reinterred more honourably, and her own epitaph (quite sublime, I think) put over her.
I have been here since last Wednesday, and am already greatly benefiting by the change. This house and its surroundings are the loveliest “haunt of ancient peace” that can well be imagined—the house purely Elizabethan in character, though it may probably not be so old as that; but in this dozy neighbourhood that style of building seems to have obtained for long after changes in fashion had occurred elsewhere. It has a quantity of farm-buildings of the thatched squatted order, which look settled down into a purring state of comfort, but seem (as Janey said the other day) as if, were you to stroke them, they would move. Janey is here with her children, and she is benefiting wonderfully, and takes long walks as easily as I do. The children are dear little things—perfectly natural and intelligent, and able to amuse themselves all day long without needing to be thought about by their elders. The younger one—Mary, or May as she is called—is most lovely; the elder interesting also. I mean to make drawings of both while I remain here. Allan and Emma have both come down, and the children's nurse is here; besides which, there are two “native” servants.
My studio here is a delightful room, all hung round with old tapestry, which I suppose has been here since the date of its making. It gives in grim sequence the history of Samson, and is certainly not the liveliest of company. Indeed, the speculation as to the meaning of incredible passages of drawing
I hope you will see this lovely old place some time when it is got quite into order, and I am sure it will fill you with admiration. The garden is a perfect paradise, and the whole is built on the very banks of the Thames, along which there are beautiful walks for miles, though just at this moment the floods rather interfere with their enjoyment. Other walks all round the neighbourhood are of course plentiful, and the nearest town, Lechlade (three miles off), is a most beautiful old town (no Station); but on the whole the flatness of the country, being absolute, renders its aspect rather wanting in variety and interest. As for solitude, it is as complete as even at Penkill.
A lot of furniture and conveniences have been got into the place, and order increases daily. This house has never been inhabited but by the family that built it in old times (named Turner), and the last surviving member of which, an old lady, lately gave up residing in it on the death of her husband, which caused it to be let.
While I remain here I am having great alterations made in my studio in London, which I have always contemplated, and which my friend Webb the architect will superintend. By this means I shall henceforth have a quite satisfactory light. Otherwise I should really have been obliged to carry my big picture elsewhere, to do the little that remains to do to it on my return, as I never could get a real view of it in any part of the room; and this evil would of course have renewed itself with every large work I might paint in the future.
I am having my painting-things sent down here, and shall do some leisurely work while I remain, which will be I suppose for two months at least.
I trust you and Christina are both feeling the advantage of Hampstead air, and that C[hristina] is able by this time
With best love to both,
I have mislaid a letter of Maria's containing Mamma's address at Hampstead, so must ask you to send on the enclosed. You might write me any news there is, for this is the abode of silence. It is wonderfully beautiful as to house and surroundings, but rather monotonous when further afield. Did you get Menken from Purnell, and do the notice and extracts?
How is the Shadow of Dante getting on? While I stay here I am having a radical alteration made in my studio at Cheyne Walk, which will improve the light enormously. I expect to be away some two months, but may perhaps be back for a day or so at the end of the first month, to see what is doing to my studio, etc.
Looking at the Athenæum Gossip to-day, it struck me it might be to the credit of our Father to record the proposal to remove his remains to Italy. Do you like to notify this to Furnivall? Or I or you might do so to Knight.
When do you leave London yourself?
I am very sorry to have omitted answering your note the moment I got it, as it somehow since escaped my memory till now. However, I cannot say much to the purpose, as I (like most artists) am quite ignorant about picture-cleaning, further than the obvious plan of removing outside dirt with soap and water. To deal with a picture safely is no easy matter, nor should a work of any value be entrusted to every one. If care is worth while in the case you allude to, a safe person to go to is Mr. Merritt, who works a good deal for the National Gallery. His charges (he lately cleaned an old picture for me) are not low, but not immoderate, and he is really capable. His address is H. Merritt Esq., 54 Devonshire Street, Portland Place.—I am sorry I cannot be of more direct use.
You will see by my address that I have left town, having taken, jointly with the Morrises, a share in this very nice old house—as good and genuine a specimen of old middle-class architecture as could be found anywhere. I suppose its aspect is absolutely Elizabethan in every respect, but it is probably a century later. . . . I have been here over three weeks now, and shall probably stay some six weeks longer.
You see I have dated this letter, as you told me you liked dates. I am afraid there is no reason for writing in these stagnant surroundings except the somewhat phantasmal one (I trust) of the fear lest you should seem to be out of mind with me if I were silent. The heat here is now excessive —so great indeed that walking even at the close of day is no pleasure, and one is tempted to keep indoors altogether. However, I yesterday evening strolled out after dinner when the sun was quite gone, and found it cool and delightful, so I think I shall time my walks chiefly so at present; only the twilights are very short and there is no moon now, and walking in pitch darkness is not pleasant. I have been painting pretty steadily lately here, and getting through a duplicate of that Beatrice picture—dreary work enough. I am also beginning a little picture of Janey with a river background which will come nicely, I think, and am drawing the children too, [Portrait of Jenny Morris] [Portrait of May Morris] who are dear little things, particularly the younger one,—she is destined moreover to be a great beauty beyond question. I have written a few small things, and will copy one out for you, to send with this letter and make up a little for want of news. I hope you and Christina both thrive; of Maria I have no doubt on that score, and am very glad she is with you, as I am sure she needs change. I think her book will make a very good appearance—even the frontispiece looking satisfactory enough at last—and am anxious to have a complete copy in my hands.
I rather expect to stay here even as much as two months longer, as the people who were to alter my studio-windows at Chelsea in my absence ( of which I think I told you) are so dilatory that I am not sure whether the work is even yet well begun. Morris is expected here in about a month now, —doubtless with wonderful tales of Iceland; for what is the use of going there if you are not allowed to make people stare well when you come back? An Icelandic paper which he
The Browns, as you probably know, went for a month to Lynmouth, but are now returned to Fitzroy Square. With them went Hueffer, and William's favourite Miss Mathilde Blind, who by lucky accident unearthed there some old woman who had known Shelley and his first wife Harriet when they were staying at the place, and had all sorts of funny things to tell about them, all of which Miss Blind has written in a letter to William.
Will you thank Maria for her letter in answer to mine? . . .
Did you see that a Miss Rossetti, “young and beautiful” and apparently Irish, has come out successfully as a concert-singer in London? I wonder who her father may have been. Perhaps however the name is merely assumed, as an Italian one ready to hand.
As I have absolutely no more news, I fear, I will proceed to copy a few verses suggested by the river here instead, and, with love to all, remain
P.S.—I doubt not you will note in the above the intention to make the first half of each verse, expressing the landscape, tally with the second expressing the emotion, even to repetition of phrases.
. . . I have now for some time been taking an acid medicine prescribed me by Bowman, and which is appetizing if taken before meals, and (by my experience) more beneficial than anything else I had tried.
I am glad Sing-song is going on nicely. Do you see that the Athenæum quite gratuitously announces a forthcoming volume of mine? Who these very ultra-omniscient gossips may be I cannot conceive, but they are always at it with one person or another.
Having no news in answer to your letter, I'll send you another little poem done from Nature. I don't know if you ever noticed the habit of starlings referred to, which is constant here at sunsets at this season of the year.
I also have by me several French volumes of Tourguenieff, lent me by Ralston, and which I have been intending to read with much anticipated pleasure, yet have not hitherto done so to much purpose—the only piece I have read being Le Pain d'Autrui, which I think quite admirable in its way. We read a vast deal of Shakespear aloud in the evenings here, and I also declaimed Browning's new poem Balaustion's Adventure one day on the lawn outside the house from first to last (of course with book)—a process lasting about an hour and a half. . . . Of course it has its beauties; but it consists chiefly of a translation of Euripides' Alcestis, interlarded with Browningian analysis to an extent beyond all reason or relation to things by any possibility Greek in any way.
I am reading also Walter Scott's St. Ronan's Well, which I had never read, but which Morris had often recommended to me as one of his best; which indeed I think it is so far as I have gone,—quite out of his usual way, more like a simple study of actual life, and with much more individual passion in the hero and heroine than that class of personage generally has with him. I dare say a Folkestone library or railway stall would easily furnish you the book, which I am sure you would like if new to you.
We read Plutarch too, so at any rate our studies are not of an ephemeral order.
I think a very fine play might be made of the Life of Pompey, which Shakespear has somehow left alone, though he seems to have given more perfecting labour to Roman
P.S.—I have not told you what beautiful old churches there are here. A famous one at Lechlade, in the churchyard of which Shelley wrote one of his poems; but, still more interesting to me, one or two simple ones—the Kelmscott church as good as any—of the most primitive order, with two bells hanging visibly on the roof at one end—looking just as one fancies chapels in the Mort d'Arthur, particularly from one side when one sees it above some wild-looking apple-trees. I shall certainly get it into some picture one day if I keep on coming here.SUNSET WINGS.
What you say of the rarity of our intercourse is but too true. However, you would be astounded to learn (if the facts could be conveyed to you) how little or nothing I see even of the oldest friends among whom I live in London, how seldom I meet the circle at Euston Square, and how absolutely every far-between excursion of mine is regulated by such work as I can do away from home.
For instance, just now I have taken this house, in conjunction with my friend Morris, as a means of establishing some country-quarters for work, where I can leave my belongings, and return to them as opportunity offers. When I came here some weeks ago I knew exactly the task I had to do, and surrounded myself with the means of doing it; and,
I may perhaps have to stay here several weeks longer,
To your enquiries about my prospects I may reply simply that I make lots of money (for a
poor painter), and never have a penny to fly with. My father used to have an Italian proverb
(perhaps known to you) which said:—
Chi a venti non sa
Mai non saprà.
Chi a tentra non fa
Mai non farà.
Chi a quaranta non ha
Mai non avrà.
And alas it is all true.
I am extremely sorry to hear that your income has suffered lately—let me hope, not permanently or beyond chance of recovery. I am so far from exempt myself from signs of failing health already that I look with the less wonder on the same in your case. Poor Christina's state has been a sad one lately; and I was deeply grieved to hear such melancholy accounts of Henrietta—as I need hardly tell you. It is great comfort at any rate that my Mother keeps up well.
An autograph is puzzling. Will the one enclosed do?
I wish you'd write me anything of your doings abroad or other news. I am likely to be back in about a fortnight
The changes in my studio at Chelsea under Webb's directions, giving me a good light at last, will be completed next week. You might go and take a look at them if you liked.
I have been doing a replica here (of that Beatrice )—a beastly job, but lucre was the lure. . . . I have written a few things— notably Part I. (51 five-line stanzas) of a poem called Rose Mary (you may remember my using the name long ago for some rubbish destroyed), and which is about a magic crystal, or Beryl as it was called—a story of my own, good, I think, turning of course on the innocence required in the seer. Part II. will be much longer, I think, and should hope to get on with it now, were it not that Top comes here to-night from Iceland. . . .
On one short thing I have done, not meant to be a trifle, I want your advice about the close. I copy it herewith, and the form of the four last lines there given is the one I incline to adopt—thus, you see, leaving the whole question open. But at first I had meant to answer the question in a way, on the theory hardly of annihilation but of absorption. As thus (last five lines)—
Does the parrot brought me by Stillman talk?
I am getting towards a finish with my poem, which will be about 150 stanzas, and makes three parts. I ought to have asked you (though late now) for any information you have at hand about magic crystals or mirrors. I remember in a note to Lane's One Thousand and One Nights there is an account of some such transaction—I think it is in the volume you have; and the only thing I can remember about it is that the first thing seen is a figure sweeping with a broom. This I have used. I have been unlucky in being out here when I wrote the thing, but don't know after all whether book-information would have served me much. If you'd give a look in any likely quarter,
You will be grieved to hear that the poor woodchuck is dead.
I meant in last writing to have mentioned the matter about the proposed memorial to our Father at Florence. I should like myself to subscribe £50 or £100; but should not think it perhaps advisable to take these steps at once if there were any danger thereby of stopping subscription in Italy, as it would be a great pity not to be able to say that the honour done to his memory was thoroughly a national one. Will you give me your ideas on this point? I think it most likely that I shall be back now about the 1st October. I have finished Rose Mary —3 Parts, 160 stanzas.
Thanks about the memorial-matter. I shall be very glad to do as you suggest when necessary, but do think it a great pity if the Vasto people are being (or have been) stopped in a subscription by the news that more than ample funds were offered by the family. A pity, I mean, for the honour's sake. If this has not yet been done, and could be staved off by your writing to Ricciardi or any one your views on the subject, I would certainly do so.
It strikes me, if a medallion had to be done, the best plan (if our funds are to be used here) would be to employ some one—say Tupper—to produce something from such
What do you think? — writes me that Maitland is — Buchanan!
Do you know Buchanan's prose, and can you judge if it be so? If it be, I'll not deny myself the fun of a printed Letter to the Skunk.
— says he has it “on very good authority.”
Buchanan had never occurred to me, but on your mentioning him it seemed to me exceedingly probable. I have now read the article through again. It seems to me that in point of style etc. it might very well be Buchanan's, but still I don't feel strengthened in that view by the perusal. Buchanan is himself twice named: page 334 as personating Cornelius (which seems to imply a slight more or less); page 343 as your prototype in Jenny . This latter (see also the reference to Buchanan's critics attached to it) does seem very much the sort of self-assumption which Buchanan might be minded (in utter ignorance of dates etc.) to indulge in. Also, page 348, Ballad on a Wedding, and Clever Tom Clinch: I don't know whether these are Buchanan's, but they rather sound as if they might be. The phrases weird—solemn league
The observation (344) that you are not to be blamed for selecting the subject of Jenny looks rather like Buchanan, who has been censured for somewhat similar subjects. Also the reference (336) to Swinburne's illness notified in Athenæum . Buchanan, I know, saw that or some similar printed report; for he thereupon took the good-natured trouble (as I suppose I must have mentioned to you) of urging Dr. Chapman to try to get hold of Swinburne and restore him to health, and Chapman called on me in consequence.
My opinion is that there is not at present sufficient material for pinning Buchanan as the author of that review; and at all events I have a strong belief that you will find it in the long run more to your comfort and dignity to take no public steps whatever for the scarifying of Mr. Maitland—though of course the temptation is considerable.
We got here to-day at 11, after 14 or 15 hours' hard travelling, but in a most luxurious way such as I could hardly have imagined. An immense deal has been done by Mr. Graham to smooth away difficulties, and his kindness throughout has been excessive. What to say of Brown's brotherly lovingness to me I do not know—even from him I could hardly have supposed such love and long patience possible. Since we arrived here it has been raining, but this evening we three—including George Hake—did manage to walk out a little about the garden etc. There are many beautiful points which we enjoyed, and there is even a scheme for my painting a picture of one if such a thing can be thought
How wonderful and happy to hear of Christina's sudden rally! I suppose she is now already at Hampstead, and I trust still further benefiting. I was glad to understand that William had managed to get to business again.
The most striking point about the situation of this house is an immense hill which faces the dining-room window, and has from many points of view much that is imposing and noble. It would of course be the leading point in any picture which dealt with the spot. It seems that the battle of Killiecrankie, at which the Marquis of Dundee was killed, was fought on the site of this house—a former Urrard House having been his residence; and in the garden a mound marks the spot where he fell by a bullet after reaching his own door.
I thought I would not let a day pass without just putting pen—a very bad one—to paper to let you hear of me; but in fact I am no correspondent just now, and will not ask you to answer this even, knowing well all that your love would say.
With my own love to all at home, I am
I have been meaning to answer your letter, though with no particular material. I rejoice to hear that Christina is getting on so fairly well on the whole.
The matters you dwell on about the translation and Selections are quite unimportant. I have been in the habit of answering such applications as the latter, or not, just as it chanced. The lady perhaps required a word of thanks.
I need not be calling on you for further books at present, I believe, as we have got some from a circulating library at Edinburgh.
Will you give my warmest love to Brown, together with all best wishes for Cathy's welfare and congratulations to Hueffer? We have not heard from Brown for some time, but no doubt all his time has been taken up.
The weather is very uncertain here, but a little less so for the last few days. I manage to go out daily, but my lameness and all else is just the same as ever. The goodness of Dr. Hake and George quite unwearying. We read aloud now in the evenings for two or three hours.
I thought I would write, but, as you see, have nothing to say. With warmest love to yourself, Mamma, and Sisters, I am
I dare say you know that Dr. Hake is leaving here, and that Dunn is coming down. I think it is very objectionable for my house to be left with the servants only in it, and . . . I should be glad if you would look down there when you can.
For myself, I have been painting a little. Of course there was little I could do here without models. I took up the replica of Beatrice which I was doing for Graham, and had abandoned last year as hopeless. Now it seems to be coming round tolerably, and, if fit to deliver, will at any rate relieve me of a debt of 900 guineas, though it brings no present grist to the mill.
My lameness continues the same, and I have little doubt will be permanent. An utter sleeplessness, except some two or three hours about once a fortnight, is the state of things in spite of heavy narcotics.
I get out daily for a six miles or so of walk, unless the weather is very bad, in which case my walk is shorter.
Since I ceased to be Graham's guest, expenses here are of course an anxious matter, but it cannot be helped. I heard some time back of your having made some payments in London, and have just asked Dr. Hake to look up your letter on the subject; but, though he is sure he kept it, he cannot find it now. I did not look at it when it came, not being in the mood.
I suppose Hueffer and Cathy Brown were married yesterday. Will you say everything that ought to be said to the Papa and family from me when you see them? I may or may not be able to write myself.
P.S.—In the matter of Brass the Builder's bill, you did right to refer it to Webb. He (Brass) said at starting that the cost of the alterations in the studio would be about £70 or £80. This Webb thought a low estimate. I don't know what . . . his bill is; but I paid him £60 at Christmas last, and see no reason to be paying more at present.
I forgot yesterday to allude to the
drawing, which George tells me was sold by Marks to Heaton. I ought not to have
parted with it—at any rate yet—as it is worth more than I got, and is
moreover a thing I mean to paint if I go on working. As it is, a photo of it should at any
rate have been taken, and if Heaton retains it he would no doubt allow this to be done. The
photo should be about the size of the largest Parsons has done for me. I don't know if it
could be borrowed, or if Heaton would get it done at Bradford. I dare say you have already
written him about it. His address is
J. A. Heaton
I am rather desirous to get at Salammbô, which I possess and have never read. This is not so easy now that Dunn is away: . . . perhaps you would look it up and send it. It may possibly however be in that cupboard in the back room, first floor.
I received your affectionate letter, and was glad to find the news of Christina pretty good. . . .
I fear you have derived (I know not how) too favourable an impression about myself from my last letter. This would of course be a gain, were it not for the coming