Christina Taking Down the Verses of Swynfen Jervis

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1852 August 4


◦ WMR, ed., Family Letters vol. 2, 95

◦ WMR, ed., Family Letters of Christina Rossetti, 21

Scholarly Commentary


The charicature was enclosed in DGR's letter to CR on 4 August 1852, which WMR printed in The Family Letters of Christina Rossetti, (21) (see also Fredeman, Correspondence, 52. 8 ). CR was staying with the family of Swynfen Jervis in Darlaston, Staffordshire; Gabriele Rossetti taught the family Italian, and Mr. Jervis dabbled in literary affairs. WMR glosses the drawing in his edition of DGR's Family Letters vol. 2, 95 : ‘The whole thing is “chaff,” and should not be understood as seriously ill-natured to Mr. Jervis, who was something of a Shakespearian commentator, and something also of a verse-writer. The sketch represents Christina either drawing a portrait of Mr. Jervis or transcribing verses from his dictation. Mr. Jervis, goose-quill in hand, rests his right elbow on the plinth of a bust of Shakespear. This bust has a sly glance, as if Shakespear took a view of Mr. Jervis's lucubrations rather different from that gentleman's own view. On the plinth is inscribed “We ne'er shall look upon his like again”; to which Mr. Jervis has appended the words, “Oh ah! S. J.”—A mushroom grows as the base of the plinth. In the background appears a totally unrecognizable scribble of Westminster Abbey. Christina's profile is caricatured, but expressively so.’

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