Letters of Edward FitzGerald to Fanny Kemble (1871-1883)
by Edward FitzGerald
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And so it is I do my little owl.

This little folly takes a long bit of my Letter paper—and I do not know that you will see any fun in it. Like my Book, it would not tell in Public.

Spedding reads my proofs—for, though I have confidence in my Selection of the Verse (owl), I have but little in my interpolated Prose, which I make obscure in trying to make short. Spedding occasionally marks a blunder; but (confound him!) generally leaves me to correct it.

Come—here is more than enough of my little owl. At night we read Sir Walter for an Hour (Montrose just now) by way of 'Play'—then 'ten minutes' refreshment allowed'—and the Curtain rises on Dickens (Copperfield now) which sends me gaily to bed—after one Pipe of solitary Meditation—in which the—'little owl,' etc.

By the way, in talking of Plays—after sitting with my poor friend and his brave little Wife till it was time for him to turn bedward—I looked in at the famous Lyceum Hamlet; and soon had looked, and heard enough. It was incomparably the worst I had ever witnessed, from Covent Garden down to a Country Barn. I should scarce say this to you if I thought you had seen it; for you told me you thought Irving might have been even a great Actor, from what you saw of his Louis XI. I think. When he got to 'Something too much of this,' I called out from the Pit door where I stood, 'A good deal too much,' and not long after returned to my solitary inn. Here is a very long—and, I believe (as owls go) a rather pleasant Letter. You know you are not bound to repay it in length, even if you answer it at all; which I again vainly ask you not to do if a bore.

I hear from Mrs. Mowbray that our dear Donne is but 'pretty well'; and I am still yours

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: April 25, [1879.]


I think I have let sufficient time elapse before asking you for another Letter. I want to know how you are: and, if you can tell me that you are as well as you and I now expect to be—anyhow, well rid of that Whooping Cough—that will be news enough for one Letter. What else, you shall add of your own free will:—not feeling bound.

When you last wrote me from Leamington, you crossed over your Address: and I (thinking perhaps of America) deciphered it 'Baltimore.' I wonder the P. O. did not return me my Letter: but there was no Treason in it, I dare say.

My Brother keeps waiting—and hoping—for—Death: which will not come: perhaps Providence would have let it come sooner, were he not rich enough to keep a Doctor in the house, to keep him in Misery. I don't know if I told you in my last that he was ill; seized on by a Disease not uncommon to old Men—an 'internal Disorder' it is polite to say; but I shall say to you, disease of the Bladder. I had always supposed he would be found dead one good morning, as my Mother was—as I hoped to be—quietly dead of the Heart which he had felt for several Years. But no; it is seen good that he shall be laid on the Rack—which he may feel the more keenly as he never suffered Pain before, and is not of a strong Nerve. I will say no more of this. The funeral Bell, which has been at work, as I never remember before, all this winter, is even now, as I write, tolling from St. Mary's Steeple.

'Parlons d'autres choses,' as my dear Sevigne says.

I—We—have finished all Sir Walter's Scotch Novels; and I thought I would try an English one: Kenilworth—a wonderful Drama, which Theatre, Opera, and Ballet (as I once saw it represented) may well reproduce. The Scene at Greenwich, where Elizabeth 'interviews' Sussex and Leicester, seemed to me as fine as what is called (I am told, wrongly) Shakespeare's Henry VIII. {145} Of course, plenty of melodrama in most other parts:—but the Plot wonderful.

Then—after Sir Walter—Dickens' Copperfield, which came to an end last night because I would not let my Reader read the last Chapter. What a touch when Peggotty—the man—at last finds the lost Girl, and—throws a handkerchief over her face when he takes her to his arms—never to leave her! I maintain it—a little Shakespeare—a Cockney Shakespeare, if you will: but as distinct, if not so great, a piece of pure Genius as was born in Stratford. Oh, I am quite sure of that, had I to choose but one of them, I would choose Dickens' hundred delightful Caricatures rather than Thackeray's half-dozen terrible Photographs.

In Michael Kelly's Reminiscences {146} (quite worth reading about Sheridan) I found that, on January 22, 1802, was produced at Drury Lane an Afterpiece called Urania, by the Honourable W. Spencer, in which 'the scene of Urania's descent was entirely new to the stage, and produced an extraordinary effect.' Hence then the Picture which my poor Brother sent you to America.

'D'autres choses encore.' You may judge, I suppose, by the N.E. wind in London what it has been hereabout. Scarce a tinge of Green on the hedgerows; scarce a Bird singing (only once the Nightingale, with broken Voice), and no flowers in the Garden but the brave old Daffydowndilly, and Hyacinth—which I scarce knew was so hardy. I am quite pleased to find how comfortably they do in my Garden, and look so Chinese gay. Two of my dear Blackbirds have I found dead—of Cold and Hunger, I suppose; but one is even now singing—across that Funeral Bell. This is so, as I write, and tell you—Well: we have Sunshine at last—for a day—'thankful for small Blessings,' etc.

I think I have felt a little sadder since March 31 that shut my seventieth Year behind me, while my Brother was—in some such way as I shall be if I live two or three years longer—'Parlons d'autres'—that I am still able to be sincerely yours

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: May 18, [1879.]


By this Post you ought to receive my Crabbe Book, about which I want your Opinion—not as to your own liking, which I doubt not will be more than it deserves: but about whether it is best confined to Friends, who will like it, as you do, more or less out of private prejudice—Two points in particular I want you to tell me;

(1) Whether the Stories generally seem to you to be curtailed so much that they do not leave any such impression as in the Original. That is too long and tiresome; but (as in Richardson) its very length serves to impress it on the mind:—My Abstract is, I doubt not, more readable: but, on that account partly, leaving but a wrack behind. What I have done indeed is little else than one of the old Review Articles, which gave a sketch of the work, and let the author fill in with his better work.

Well then I want to know—(2) if you find the present tense of my Prose Narrative discordant with the past tense of the text. I adopted it partly by way of further discriminating the two: but I may have misjudged: Tell me: as well as any other points that strike you. You can tell me if you will—and I wish you would—whether I had better keep the little Opus to ourselves or let it take its chance of getting a few readers in public. You may tell me this very plainly, I am sure; and I shall be quite as well pleased to keep it unpublished. It is only a very, very, little Job, you see: requiring only a little Taste, and Tact: and if they have failed me—Voila! I had some pleasure in doing my little work very dexterously, I thought; and I did wish to draw a few readers to one of my favourite Books which nobody reads. And, now that I look over it, I fancy that I may have missed my aim—only that my Friends will like, etc. Then, I should have to put some Preface to the Public: and explain how many omissions, and some transpositions, have occasioned the change here and there of some initial particle where two originally separated paragraphs are united; some use made of Crabbe's original MS. (quoted in the Son's Edition;) and all such confession to no good, either for my Author or me. I wish you could have just picked up the Book at a Railway Stall, knowing nothing of your old Friend's hand in it. But that cannot be; tell me then, divesting yourself of all personal Regard: and you may depend upon it you will—save me some further bother, if you bid me let publishing alone. I don't even know of a Publisher: and won't have a favour done me by 'ere a one of them,' as Paddies say. This is a terrible Much Ado about next to Nothing. 'Parlons,' etc.

Blanche Donne wrote me you had been calling in Weymouth Street: that you had been into Hampshire, and found Mrs. Sartoris better—Dear Donne seems to have been pleased and mended by his Children coming about him. I say but little of my Brother's Death. {149} We were very good friends, of very different ways of thinking; I had not been within side his lawn gates (three miles off) these dozen years (no fault of his), and I did not enter them at his Funeral—which you will very likely—and properly—think wrong. He had suffered considerably for some weeks: but, as he became weaker, and (I suppose) some narcotic Medicine—O blessed Narcotic!—soothed his pains, he became dozily happy. The Day before he died, he opened his Bed-Clothes, as if it might be his Carriage Door, and said to his Servant 'Come—Come inside—I am going to meet them.'

Voila une petite Histoire. Et voila bien assez de mes Egoismes. Adieu, Madame; dites-moi tout franchement votre opinion sur ce petit Livre; ah! vous n'en pouvez parler autrement qu'avec toute franchise—et croyez moi, tout aussi franchement aussi,

Votre ami devoue E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: May 22, [1879.]


I must thank you for your letter; I was, beforehand, much of your Opinion; and, unless I hear very different advice from the two others whom I have consulted—Spedding, the All-wise—(I mean that), and Aldis Wright, experienced in the Booksellers' world, I shall very gladly abide by your counsel—and my own. You (I do believe) and a few friends who already know Crabbe, will not be the worse for this 'Handybook' of one of his most diffuse, but (to me) most agreeable, Books. That name (Handybook), indeed, I had rather thought of calling the Book, rather than 'Readings'—which suggests readings aloud, whether private or public—neither of which I intended—simply, Readings to oneself. I, who am a poor reader in any way, have found it all but impossible to read Crabbe to anybody. So much for that—except that, the Portrait I had prepared by way of frontispiece turns out to be an utter failure, and that is another satisfactory reason for not publishing. For I particularly wanted this Portrait, copied from a Picture by Pickersgill which was painted in 1817, when these Tales were a-writing, to correct the Phillips Portrait done in the same year, and showing Crabbe with his company Look—not insincere at all—but not at all representing the writer. When Tennyson saw Laurence's Copy of this Pickersgill—here, at my house here—he said—'There I recognise the Man.'

If you were not the truly sincere woman you are, I should have thought that you threw in those good words about my other little Works by way of salve for your dictum on this Crabbe. But I know it is not so. I cannot think what 'rebuke' I gave you to 'smart under' as you say. {151a}

If you have never read Charles Tennyson (Turner's) Sonnets, I should like to send them to you to read. They are not to be got now: and I have entreated Spedding to republish them with Macmillan, with such a preface of his own—congenial Critic and Poet—as would discover these Violets now modestly hidden under the rank Vegetation of Browning, Swinburne, and Co. Some of these Sonnets have a Shakespeare fancy in them:—some rather puerile—but the greater part of them, pure, delicate, beautiful, and quite original. {151b} I told Mr. Norton (America) to get them published over the water if no one will do so here.

Little did I think that I should ever come to relish—old Sam Rogers! But on taking him up the other day (with Stothard's Designs, to be sure!) I found a sort of Repose from the hatchet-work School, of which I read in the Athenaeum.

I like, you know, a good Murder; but in its place—

'The charge is prepared; the Lawyers are met— The Judges all ranged, a terrible Show' {152}—

only the other night I could not help reverting to that sublime—yes!—of Thurtell, sending for his accomplice Hunt, who had saved himself by denouncing Thurtell—sending for him to pass the night before Execution with perfect Forgiveness—Handshaking—and 'God bless you—God bless you—you couldn't help it—I hope you'll live to be a good man.'

You accept—and answer—my Letters very kindly: but this—pray do think—is an answer—verily by return of Post—to yours.

Here is Summer! The leaves suddenly shaken out like flags. I am preparing for Nieces, and perhaps for my Sister Andalusia—who used to visit my Brother yearly.

Your sincere Ancient E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: August 4, [1879].


Two or three days, I think, after receiving your last letter, I posted an answer addrest to the Poste Restante of—Lucerne, was it?—anyhow, the town whose name you gave me, and no more. Now, I will venture through Coutts, unwilling as I am to trouble their Highnesses—with whom my Family have banked for three—if not four—Generations. Otherwise, I do not think they would be troubled with my Accounts, which they attend to as punctually as if I were 'my Lord;' and I am now their last Customer of my family, I believe, though I doubt not they have several Dozens of my Name in their Books—for Better or Worse.

What now spurs me to write is—an Article {153} I have seen in a Number of Macmillan for February, with very honourable mention of your Brother John in an Introductory Lecture on Anglo Saxon, by Professor Skeat. If you have not seen this 'Hurticle' (as Thackeray used to say) I should like to send it to you; and will so do, if you will but let me know where it may find you.

I have not been away from this place save for a Day or two since last you heard from me. In a fortnight I may be going to Lowestoft along with my friends the Cowells.

I take great Pleasure in Hawthorne's Journals—English, French, and Italian—though I cannot read his Novels. They are too thickly detailed for me: and of unpleasant matter too. We of the Old World beat the New, I think, in a more easy manner; though Browning & Co. do not bear me out there. And I am sincerely yours

E. F.G.


LOWESTOFT, Septr. l8, [1879.]


Your last letter told me that you were to be back in England by the middle of this month. So I write some lines to ask if you are back, and where to be found. To be sure, I can learn that much from some Donne: to the Father of whom I must commit this letter for any further Direction. But I will also say a little—very little having to say—beyond asking you how you are, and in what Spirits after the great Loss you have endured. {154}

Of that Loss I heard from Blanche Donne—some while, it appears, before you heard of it yourself. I cannot say that it was surprising, however sad, considering the terrible Illness she had some fifteen years ago. I will say no more of it, nor of her, of whom I could say so much; but nothing that would not be more than superfluous to you.

It did so happen, that, the day before I heard of her Death, I had thought to myself that I would send her my Crabbe, as to my other friends, and wondered that I had not done so before. I should have sent off the Volume for Donne to transmit when—Blanche's Note came.

After writing of this, I do not think I should add much more, had I much else to write about. I will just say that I came to this place five weeks ago to keep company with my friend Edward Cowell, the Professor; we read Don Quixote together in a morning and chatted for two or three hours of an evening; and now he is gone away to Cambridge and [has] left me to my Nephews and Nieces here. By the month's end I shall be home at Woodbridge, whither any Letter you may please to write me may be addressed.

I try what I am told are the best Novels of some years back, but find I cannot read any but Trollope's. So now have recourse to Forster's Life of Dickens—a very good Book, I still think. Also, Eckermann's Goethe—almost as repeatedly to be read as Boswell's Johnson—a German Johnson—and (as with Boswell) more interesting to me in Eckermann's Diary than in all his own famous works.

Adieu: Ever yours sincerely E. F.G.

I am daily—hourly—expecting to hear of the Death of another Friend {155}—not so old a Friend, but yet a great loss to me.


11 MARINE TERRACE, LOWESTOFT, Septr. 24, [1879 ]


I was to have been at Woodbridge before this: and your Letter only reached me here yesterday. I have thought upon your desire to see me as an old Friend of yourself and yours; and you shall not have the trouble of saying so in vain. I should indeed be perplext at the idea of your coming all this way for such a purpose, to be shut up at an Hotel with no one to look in on you but myself (for you would not care for my Kindred here)—and my own Woodbridge House would require a little time to set in order, as I have for the present lost the services of one of my 'helps' there. What do you say to my going to London to see you instead of your coming down to see me? I should anyhow have to go to London soon; and I could make my going sooner, or as soon as you please. Not but, if you want to get out of London, as well as to see me, I can surely get my house right in a little time, and will gladly do so, should you prefer it. I hope, indeed, that you will not stay in London at this time of year, when so many friends are out of it; and it has been my thought—and hope, I may say—that you have already betaken yourself to some pleasant place, with a pleasant Friend or two, which now keeps me from going at once to look for you in London, after a few Adieus here. Pray let me know your wishes by return of Post: and I will do my best to meet them immediately: being

Ever sincerely yours E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: Sept. 28, [1879.]


I cannot be sure of your Address: but I venture a note—to say that—If you return to London on Wednesday, I shall certainly run up (the same day, if I can) to see you before you again depart on Saturday, as your letter proposes. {157}

But I also write to beg you not to leave your Daughter for ever so short a while, simply because you had so arranged, and told me of your Arrangement.

If this Note of mine reach you somehow to morrow, there will be plenty of time for you to let me know whether you go or not: and, even if there be not time before Wednesday, why, I shall take no harm in so far as I really have a very little to do, and moreover shall see a poor Lady who has just lost her husband, after nearly three years anxious and uncertain watching, and now finds herself (brave and strong little Woman) somewhat floored now the long conflict is over. These are the people I may have told you of whom I have for some years met here and there in Suffolk—chiefly by the Sea; and we somehow suited one another. {158} He was a brave, generous, Boy (of sixty) with a fine Understanding, and great Knowledge and Relish of Books: but he had applied too late in Life to Painting which he could not master, though he made it his Profession. A remarkable mistake, I always thought, in so sensible a man.

Whether I find you next week, or afterward (for I promise to find you any time you appoint) I hope to find you alone—for twenty years' Solitude make me very shy: but always your sincere

E. F.G.




When I got home yesterday, and emptied my Pockets, I found the precious Enclosure which I had meant to show, and (if you pleased) to give you. A wretched Sketch (whether by me or another, I know not) of your Brother John in some Cambridge Room, about the year 1832-3, when he and I were staying there, long after Degree time—he, studying Anglo-Saxon, I suppose—reading something, you see, with a glass of Ale on the table—or old Piano-forte was it?—to which he would sing very well his German Songs. Among them,

{Music Score: p159.jpg}

Do you remember? I afterwards associated it with some stray verses applicable to one I loved.

'Heav'n would answer all your wishes, Were it much as Earth is here; Flowing Rivers full of Fishes, And good Hunting half the Year.'

Well:—here is the cause of this Letter, so soon after our conversing together, face to face, in Queen Anne's Mansions. A strange little After- piece to twenty years' Separation.

And now, here are the Sweet Peas, and Marigolds, sown in the Spring, still in a faded Blossom, and the Spirit that Tennyson told us of fifty years ago haunting the Flower-beds, {160} and a Robin singing—nobody else.

And I am to lose my capital Reader, he tells me, in a Fortnight, no Book- binding surviving under the pressure of Bad Times in little Woodbridge. 'My dear Fitz, there is no Future for little Country towns,' said Pollock to me when he came here some years ago.

But my Banker here found the Bond which he had considered unnecessary, safe in his Strong Box:—and I am your sincere Ancient

E. F.G.

Burn the poor Caricature if offensive to you. The 'Alexander' profile was become somewhat tarnished then.


WOODBRIDGE: Oct. 27, [1879.]


I am glad to think that my Regard for you and yours, which I know to be sincere, is of some pleasure to you. Till I met you last in London, I thought you had troops of Friends at call; I had not reflected that by far the greater number of them could not be Old Friends; and those you cling to, I feel, with constancy.

I and my company (viz. Crabbe, etc.) could divert you but little until your mind is at rest about Mrs. Leigh. I shall not even now write more than to say that a Letter from Mowbray, which tells of the kind way you received him and his Brother, says also that his Father is well, and expects Valentia and Spouse in November.

This is all I will write. You will let me know by a line, I think, when that which you wait for has come to pass. A Post Card with a few words on it will suffice.

You cross over your Address (as usual) but I do my best to find you.

Ever yours E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: Octr. [? Nov.] 4/79.


I need not tell you that I am very glad of the news your note of Sunday tells me: and I take it as a pledge of old Regard that you told it me so soon: even but an hour after that other Kemble was born. {161}

I know not if the short letter which I addressed to 4 Everton Place, Leamington (as I read it in your former Letter), reached you. Whatever the place be called, I expect you are still there; and there will be for some time longer. As there may be some anxiety for some little time, I shall not enlarge as usual on other matters; if I do not hear from you, I shall conclude that all is going on well, and shall write again. Meanwhile, I address this Letter to London, you see, to make sure of you this time: and am ever yours sincerely

E. F.G.

By the by, I think the time is come when, if you like me well enough, you may drop my long Surname, except for the external Address of your letter. It may seem, but is not, affectation to say that it is a name I dislike; {162} for one reason, it has really caused me some confusion and trouble with other more or less Irish bodies, being as common in Ireland as 'Smith,' etc., here—and particularly with 'Edward'—I suppose because of the patriot Lord who bore [it]. I should not, even if I made bold to wish so to do, propose to treat you in the same fashion; inasmuch as I like your Kemble name, which has become as it were classical in England.


WOODBRIDGE: Nov. 13/79.


Now that your anxieties are, as I hope, over, and that you are returned, as I suppose, to London, I send you a budget. First: the famous Belvidere Hat; which I think you ought to stick into your Records. {163a} Were I a dozen years younger, I should illustrate all the Book in such a way; but, as my French song says, 'Le Temps est trop court pour de si longs projets.'

Next, you behold a Photo of Carlyle's Niece, which he bid her send me two or three years ago in one of her half-yearly replies to my Enquiries. What a shrewd, tidy, little Scotch Body! Then you have her last letter, telling of her Uncle, and her married Self, and thanking me for a little Wedding gift which I told her was bought from an Ipswich Pawnbroker {163b}—a very good, clever fellow, who reads Carlyle, and comes over here now and then for a talk with me. Mind, when you return me the Photo, that you secure it around with your Letter paper, that the Postman may not stamp into it. Perhaps this trouble is scarce worth giving you.

'Clerke Sanders' has been familiar to me these fifty years almost; since Tennyson used to repeat it, and 'Helen of Kirkconnel,' at some Cambridge gathering. At that time he looked something like the Hyperion shorn of his Beams in Keats' Poem: with a Pipe in his mouth. Afterwards he got a touch, I used to say, of Haydon's Lazarus. Talking of Keats, do not forget to read Lord Houghton's Life and Letters of him: in which you will find what you may not have guessed from his Poetry (though almost unfathomably deep in that also) the strong, masculine, Sense and Humour, etc., of the man more akin to Shakespeare, I am tempted to think, in a perfect circle of Poetic Faculties, than any Poet since.

Well: the Leaves which hung on more bravely than ever I remember are at last whirling away in a Cromwell Hurricane—(not quite that, neither)—and my old Man says he thinks Winter has set in at last. We cannot complain hitherto. Many summer flowers held out in my Garden till a week ago, when we dug up the Beds in order for next year. So now little but the orange Marigold, which I love for its colour (Irish and Spanish) and Courage, in living all Winter through. Within doors, I am again at my everlasting Crabbe! doctoring his Posthumous Tales a la mode of those of 'The Hall,' to finish a Volume of simple 'Selections' from his other works: all which I will leave to be used, or not, whenever old Crabbe rises up again: which will not be in the Lifetime of yours ever

E. F.G.

I dared not decypher all that Mrs. Wister wrote in my behalf—because I knew it must be sincere! Would she care for my Eternal Crabbe?


[Nov. 1879.]


I must say a word upon a word in your last which really pains me—about yours and Mrs. Wister's sincerity, etc. Why, I do most thoroughly believe in both; all I meant was that, partly from your own old personal regard for me, and hers, perhaps inherited from you, you may both very sincerely over-rate my little dealings with other great men's thoughts. For you know full well that the best Head may be warped by as good a Heart beating under it; and one loves the Head and Heart all the more for it. Now all this is all so known to you that I am vexed you will not at once apply it to what I may have said. I do think that I have had to say something of the same sort before now; and I do declare I will not say it again, for it is simply odious, all this talking of oneself.

Yet one thing more. I did go to London on this last occasion purposely to see you at that particular time: for I had not expected Mrs. Edwards to be in London till a Fortnight afterward, until two or three days after I had arranged to go and meet you the very day you arrived, inasmuch as you had told me you were to be but a few days in Town.

There—there! Only believe me; my sincerity, Madam; and—Voila ce qui est fait. Parlons, etc.

Well: Mrs. Edwards has opened an Exhibition of her husband's works in Bond Street—contrary to my advice—and, it appears, rightly contrary: for over 300 pounds of them were sold on the first private View day, {166} and Tom Taylor, the great Art Critic (who neither by Nature nor Education can be such, 'cleverest man in London,' as Tennyson once said he was), has promised a laudatory notice in the omnipotent Times, and then People will flock in like Sheep. And I am very glad to be proved a Fool in the matter, though I hold my own opinion still of the merit of the Picture part of the Show. Enough! as we Tragic Writers say: it is such a morning as I would not have sacrificed indoors or in letter-writing to any one but yourself, and on the subject named.



WOODBRIDGE: Decr. 10, [1879.]


Pray let me know how you have fared thus far through Winter—which began so early, and promises to continue so long. Even in Jersey Fred. Tennyson writes me it is all Snow and N.E. wind: and he says the North of Italy is blocked up with Snow. You may imagine that we are no better off in the East of England. How is it in London, and with yourself in Queen Anne's Mansions? I fancy that you walk up and down that ante-room of yours for a regular time, as I force myself to do on a Landing-place in this house when I cannot get out upon what I call my Quarter-deck: a walk along a hedge by the upper part of a field which 'dominates' (as the phrase now goes) over my House and Garden. But I have for the last Fortnight had Lumbago, which makes it much easier to sit down than to get up again. However, the time goes, and I am surprised to find Sunday come round again. (Here is my funny little Reader come—to give me 'All the Year Round' and Sam Slick.)


I suppose I should have finished this Letter in the way it begins, but by this noon's post comes a note from my Brother-in-law, De Soyres, telling me that his wife Andalusia died yesterday. {168} She had somewhile suffered with a weak Heart, and this sudden and extreme cold paralysed what vitality it had. But yesterday I had posted her a Letter re-enclosing two Photographs of her Grand Children whom she was very fond and proud of; and that Letter is too late, you see. Now, none but Jane Wilkinson and E. F.G. remain of the many more that you remember, and always looked on with kindly regard. This news cuts my Letter shorter than it would have been; nevertheless pray let me know how you yourself are: and believe me yours

Ever and truly, E. F.G.

I have had no thought of going to London yet: but I shall never go in future without paying a Visit to you, if you like it. I know not how Mrs. Edwards' Exhibition of her Husband's Pictures succeeds: I begged her to leave such a scheme alone; I cannot admire his Pictures now he is gone more than I did when he was here; but I hope that others will prove me to be a bad adviser.


WOODBRIDGE: Jan. 8/80.


I think sufficient time has elapsed since my last letter to justify my writing you another, which, you know, means calling on you to reply. When last you wrote, you were all in Flannel; pray let me hear you now are. Certainly, we are better off in weather than a month ago: but I fancy these Fogs must have been dismal enough in London. A Letter which I have this morning from a Niece in Florence tells me they have had 'London Fog' (she says) for a Fortnight there. She says, that my sister Jane (your old Friend) is fairly well in health, but very low in Spirits after that other Sister's Death. I will [not] say of myself that I have weathered away what Rheumatism and Lumbago I had; nearly so, however; and tramp about my Garden and Hedgerow as usual. And so I clear off Family scores on my side. Pray let me know, when you tell of yourself, how Mrs. Leigh and those on the other side of the Atlantic fare.

Poor Mrs. Edwards, I doubt, is disappointed with her Husband's Gallery: not because of its only just repaying its expenses, except in so far as that implies that but few have been to see it. She says she feels as if she had nothing to live for, now that 'her poor Old Dear' is gone. One fine day she went down to Woking where he lies, and—she did not wish to come back. It was all solitary, and the grass beginning to spring, and a Blackbird or two singing. She ought, I think, to have left London, as her Doctor told her, for a total change of Scene; but she may know best, being a very clever, as well as devoted little Woman.

Well—you saw 'The Falcon'? {169} Athenaeum and Academy reported of it much as I expected. One of them said the Story had been dramatised before: I wonder why. What reads lightly and gracefully in Boccaccio's Prose, would surely not do well when drawn out into dramatic Detail: two People reconciled to Love over a roasted Hawk; about as unsavoury a Bird to eat as an Owl, I believe. No doubt there was a Chicken substitute at St. James', but one had to believe it to be Hawk; and, anyhow, I have always heard that it is very difficult to eat, and talk, on the Stage—though people seem to manage it easily enough in real Life.

By way of a Christmas Card I sent Carlyle's Niece a Postage one, directed to myself, on the back of which she might [write] a few words as to how he and herself had weathered the late Cold. She replied that he was well: had not relinquished his daily Drives: and was (when she wrote) reading Shakespeare and Boswell's Hebrides. The mention of him reminds me of your saying—or writing—that you felt shy of 'intruding' yourself upon him by a Visit. My dear Mrs. Kemble, this is certainly a mistake (wilful?) of yours; he may have too many ordinary Visitors; but I am quite sure that he would be gratified at your taking the trouble to go and see him. Pray try, weather and flannel permitting.

I find some good Stuff in Bagehot's Essays, in spite of his name, which is simply 'Bagot,' as men call it. Also, I find Hayward's Select Essays so agreeable that I suppose they are very superficial.

At night comes my quaint little Reader with Chambers' Journal, and All [the] Year Round—the latter with one of Trollope's Stories {171}—always delightful to me, and (I am told) very superficial indeed, as compared to George Eliot, whom I cannot relish at all.

Thus much has come easily to my pen this day, and run on, you see, to the end of a second Sheet. So I will 'shut up,' as young Ladies now say; but am always and sincerely yours

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: Febr: 3/80.


I do not think it is a full month since I last taxed you for some account of yourself: but we have had hard weather, you know, ever since: your days have been very dark in London, I am told, and as we have all been wheezing under them, down here, I want to know how you stand it all. I only hope my MS. is not very bad; for I am writing by Candle, before my Reader comes. He eat such a Quantity of Cheese and Cake between the Acts that he could scarce even see to read at all after; so I had to remind him that, though he was not quite sixteen, he had much exceeded the years of a Pig. Since which we get on better. I did not at all like to have my Dombey spoiled; especially Captain Cuttle, God bless him, and his Creator, now lying in Westminster Abbey. The intended Pathos is, as usual, missed: but just turn to little Dombey's Funeral, where the Acrobat in the Street suspends his performance till the Funeral has passed, and his Wife wonders if the little Acrobat in her Arms will so far outlive the little Boy in the Hearse as to wear a Ribbon through his hair, following his Father's Calling. It is in such Side-touches, you know, that Dickens is inspired to Create like a little God Almighty. I have read half his lately published letters, which, I think, add little to Forster's Account, unless in the way of showing what a good Fellow Dickens was. Surely it does not seem that his Family were not fond of him, as you supposed?

I have been to Lowestoft for a week to see my capital Nephew, Edmund Kerrich, before he goes to join his Regiment in Ireland. I wish you could see him make his little (six years old) put him through his Drill. That is worthy of Dickens: and I am always yours sincerely—and I do hope not just now very illegibly—



WOODBRIDGE: Febr: 12/80.


A week ago I had a somewhat poor account of Donne from Edith D.—that he had less than his usually little Appetite, and could not sleep without Chloral. This Account I at first thought of sending to you: but then I thought you would soon be back in London to hear [of] him yourself; so I sent it to his great friend Merivale, who, I thought, must have less means of hearing about him at Ely. I enclose you this Dean's letter: which you will find worth the trouble of decyphering, as all this Dean's are. And you will see there is a word for you which you will have to interpret for me. What is the promised work he is looking for so eagerly? {173} Your Records he 'devoured' a Year ago, as a letter of his then told me; and I suppose that his other word about the number of your Father's house refers to something in those Records. I am not surprised at such an Historian reading your Records: but I was surprised to find him reading Charles Mathews' Memoir, as you will see he has been doing. I told him I had been reading it: but then that is all in my line. Have you? No, I think: nor I, by the way, quite half, and that in Vol. ii.—where is really a remarkable account of his getting into Managerial Debt, and its very grave consequences.

I hear that Mr. Lowell is coming Ambassador to England, after a very terrible trial in nursing (as he did) his Wife: who is only very slowly recovering Mind as well as Body. I believe I wrote all this to you before, as also that I am ever yours

E. F.G.

I cannot remember Pangloss in Candide: only a Pedant Optimist, I think, which became the soubriquet of Maupertuis' Akakia Optimism; but I have not the book, and do not want to have it.


WOODBRIDGE, March 1, [1880.]


I am something like my good old friend Bernard Barton, who would begin—and end—a letter to some one who had just gone away from his house. I should not mind that, only you will persist in answering what calls for no answer. But the enclosed came here To-day, and as I might mislay it if I waited for my average time of writing to you, I enclose it to you now. It shows, at any rate, that I do not neglect your Queries; nor does he to whom I refer what I cannot answer myself. {174}

This Wright edits certain Shakespeare Plays for Macmillan: very well, I fancy, so far as Notes go; simply explaining what needs explanation for young Readers, and eschewing all aesthetic (now, don't say you don't know what 'aesthetic' means, etc.) aesthetic (detestable word) observation. With this the Swinburnes, Furnivalls, Athenaeums, etc., find fault: and a pretty hand they make of it when they try that tack. It is safest surely to give people all the Data you can for forming a Judgment, and then leave them to form it by themselves.

You see that I enclose you the fine lines {175} which I believe I repeated to you, and which I wish you to paste on the last page of my Crabbe, so as to be a pendant to Richard's last look at the Children and their play. I know not how I came to leave it out when first printing: for certainly the two passages had for many years run together in my Memory.

Adieu, Madame: non pas pour toujours, j'espere; pas meme pour long temps. Cependant, ne vous genez pas, je vous prie, en repondant a une lettre qui ne vaut—qui ne reclame pas meme—aucune reponse: tandis que vous me croyez votre tres devoue



WOODBRIDGE: March 26, [1880.]


The Moon has reminded me that it is a month since I last went up to London. I said to the Cabman who took me to Queen Anne's, 'I think it must be close on Full Moon,' and he said, 'I shouldn't wonder,' not troubling himself to look back to the Abbey over which she was riding. Well; I am sure I have little enough to tell you; but I shall be glad to hear from you that you are well and comfortable, if nothing else. And you see that I am putting my steel pen into its very best paces all for you. By far the chief incident in my life for the last month has been the reading of dear old Spedding's Paper on the Merchant of Venice: {176} there, at any rate, is one Question settled, and in such a beautiful way as only he commands. I could not help writing a few lines to tell him what I thought; but even very sincere praise is not the way to conciliate him. About Christmas I wrote him, relying on it that I should be most likely to secure an answer if I expressed dissent from some other work of his; and my expectation was justified by one of the fullest answers he had written to me for many a day and year.

I read in one of my Papers that Tennyson had another Play accepted at the Lyceum. I think he is obstinate in such a purpose, but, as he is a Man of Genius, he may surprise us still by a vindication of what seem to me several Latter-day failures. I suppose it is as hard for him to relinquish his Vocation as other men find it to be in other callings to which they have been devoted; but I think he had better not encumber the produce of his best days by publishing so much of inferior quality.

Under the cold Winds and Frosts which have lately visited us—and their visit promises to be a long one—my garden Flowers can scarce get out of the bud, even Daffodils have hitherto failed to 'take the winds,' etc. Crocuses early nipt and shattered (in which my Pigeons help the winds) and Hyacinths all ready, if but they might!

My Sister Lusia's Widower has sent me a Drawing by Sir T. Lawrence of my Mother: bearing a surprising resemblance to—The Duke of Wellington. This was done in her earlier days—I suppose, not long after I was born—for her, and his (Lawrence's) friend Mrs. Wolff: and though, I think, too Wellingtonian, the only true likeness of her. Engravings were made of it—so good as to be facsimiles, I think—to be given away to Friends. I should think your mother had one. If you do not know it, I will bring the Drawing up with me to London when next I go there: or will send it up for your inspection, if you like. But I do not suppose you will care for me to do that.

Here is a much longer letter than I thought for; I hope not troublesome to your Eyes—from yours always and sincerely


I have been reading Comus and Lycidas with wonder, and a sort of awe. Tennyson once said that Lycidas was a touchstone of poetic Taste.


WOODBRIDGE: March 28, [1880.]


No—the Flowers were not from me—I have nothing full-blown to show except a few Polyanthuses, and a few Pansies. These Pansies never throve with me till last year: after a Cartload or two of Clay laid on my dry soil, I suppose, the year before. Insomuch that one dear little Soul has positively held on blowing, more or less confidently, all winter through; when even the Marigold failed.

Now, I meant to have intimated about those Flowers in a few French words on a Postcard—purposely to prevent your answering—unless your rigorous Justice could only be satisfied by a Post Card in return. But I was not sure how you might like my Card; so here is a Letter instead; which I really do beg you, as a favour, not to feel bound to answer. A time will come for such a word.

By the by, you can make me one very acceptable return, I hope with no further trouble than addressing it to me. That 'Nineteenth Century' for February, with a Paper on 'King John' (your Uncle) in it. {179} Our Country Bookseller has been for three weeks getting it for me—and now says he cannot get it—'out of print.' I rather doubt that the Copy I saw on your Table was only lent to you; if so, take no more trouble about it; some one will find me a Copy.

I shall revolve in my own noble mind what you say about Jessica and her Jewels: as yet, I am divided between you, and that old Serpent, Spedding. Perhaps 'That is only his Fancy,' as he says of Shylock. What a light, graceful, way of saying well-considered Truth!

I doubt you are serious in reminding me of my Tumbler on the Floor; and, I doubt not, quite right in being so. This comes of one's living so long either with no Company, or with only free and easy. But I am always the same toward you, whether my Tumbler in the right place or not,



WOODBRIDGE, April 6, [1880.] {180a}


I hope my letter, and the Magazine which accompanies it, will not reach you at a time when you have family troubles to think about. You can, however, put letter and Magazine aside at once, without reading either; and, anyhow, I wish once more—in vain, I suppose—that you would not feel bound to acknowledge them.

I think this Atlantic, {180b} which I took in so long as you were embarked on it, was sent me by Mr. Norton, to whom I had sent my Crabbe; and he had, I suppose, shown it to Mr. Woodberry, the Critic. And the Critic has done his work well, on the whole, I think: though not quite up to my mark of praise, nor enough to create any revival of Interest in the Poems. You will see that I have made two or three notes by the way: but you are still less bound to read them than the text.

If you be not bothered, I shall ask you to return me the Magazine. I have some thought of taking it in again, as I like to see what goes on in the literary way in America, and I found their critics often more impartial in their estimation of English Authors than our own Papers are, as one might guess would be the case.

I was, and am, reading your Records again, before this Atlantic came to remind me of you. I have Bentley's second Edition. I feel the Dullness of that Dinner Party in Portland Place {181a} (I know it was) when Mrs. Frere sang. She was somewhile past her prime then (1831), but could sing the Classical Song, or Ballad, till much later in Life. Pasta too, whom you then saw and heard! I still love the pillars of the old Haymarket Opera House, where I used to see placarded MEDEA IN CORINTO. {181b}

And I am still yours sincerely LITTLEGRANGE.

You are better off in London this black weather.

P.S. Since my letter was written, I receive the promised one from Mowbray: his Father well: indeed, in better health and Spirits than usual: and going with Blanche to Southwell on Wednesday (to-morrow) fortnight.

His London house almost, if not quite, out of Quarantine. But—do not go! say I.


WOODBRIDGE: April 23, [1880.]


I was really sorry to hear from you that you were about to move again. I suppose the move has been made by this time: as I do not know whither, I must trouble Coutts, I suppose, to forward my Letter to you; and then you will surely tell me your new Address, and also how you find yourself in it.

I have nothing to report of myself, except that I was for ten days at Lowestoft in company (though not in the house) with Edward Cowell the Professor: with whom, as in last Autumn, I read, and all but finished, the second part of Don Quixote. There came Aldis Wright to join us; and he quite agrees with what you say concerning the Jewel-robbery in the Merchant of Venice. He read me the Play; and very well; thoroughly understanding the text: with clear articulation, and the moderate emphasis proper to room-reading; with the advantage also of never having known the Theatre in his youth, so that he has not picked up the twang of any Actor of the Day. Then he read me King John, which he has some thoughts of editing next after Richard III. And I was reminded of you at Ipswich twenty-eight years ago; and of your Father—his look up at Angiers' Walls as he went out in Act ii. I wonder that Mrs. Siddons should have told Johnson that she preferred Constance to any of Shakespeare's Characters: perhaps I misremember; she may have said Queen Catharine. {183a} I must not forget to thank you for the Nineteenth Century from Hatchard's; Tieck's Article very interesting to me, and I should suppose just in its criticism as to what John Kemble then was. I have a little print of him about the time: in OEdipus—(whose Play, I wonder, on such a dangerous subject?) from a Drawing by that very clever Artist De Wilde: who never missed Likeness, Character, and Life, even when reduced to 16mo Engraving. {183b}

What you say of Tennyson's Eyes reminded me that he complained of the Dots in Persian type flickering before them: insomuch that he gave up studying it. This was some thirty years ago. Talking on the subject one day to his Brother Frederick, he—(Frederick)—said he thought possible that a sense of the Sublime was connected with Blindness: as in Homer, Milton, and Handel: and somewhat with old Wordsworth perhaps; though his Eyes were, I think, rather weak than consuming with any inward Fire.

I heard from Mr. Norton that Lowell had returned to Madrid in order to bring his Wife to London—if possible. She seems very far from being recovered; and (Norton thinks) would not have recovered in Spain: so Lowell will have one consolation for leaving the land of Cervantes and Calderon to come among the English, whom I believe he likes little better than Hawthorne liked them.

I believe that yesterday was the first of my hearing the Nightingale; certainly of hearing my Nightingale in the trees which I planted, 'hauts comme ca,' as Madame de Sevigne says. I am positively about to read her again, 'tout Madame de Sevigne,' as Ste. Beuve said. {184a} What better now Spring is come? {184b} She would be enjoying her Rochers just now. And I think this is a dull letter of mine; but I am always sincerely yours



WOODBRIDGE: May 25/80.


Another full Moon reminds [me] of my monthly call upon you by Letter—a call to be regularly returned, I know, according to your Etiquette. As so it must be, I shall be very glad to hear that you are better than when you last wrote, and that some, if not all, of the 'trouble' you spoke of has passed away. I have not heard of Donne since that last letter of yours: but a Post Card from Mowbray, who was out holyday-making in Norfolk, tells me that he will write as soon as he has returned to London, which, I think, must be about this very time.

I shall be sorry if you do not get your annual dose of Mountain Air; why can you not? postponing your visit to Hampshire till Autumn—a season when I think those who want company and comfort are most glad of it. But you are determined, I think, to do as you are asked: yes, even the more so if you do not wish it. And, moreover, you know much more of what is fittest to do than I.

A list of Trench's works in the Academy made me think of sending him my Crabbe; which I did: and had a very kind answer from him, together with a Copy of a second Edition of his Calderon Essay and Translation. He had not read any Crabbe since he was a Lad: what he may think of him now I know not: for I bid him simply acknowledge the receipt of my Volume, as I did of his. I think much the best way, unless advice is wanted on either side before publication.

If you write—which you will, unless—nay, whether troubled or not, I think—I should like to hear if you have heard anything of Mr. Lowell in London. I do not write to him for fear of bothering him: but I wish to know that his Wife is recovered. I have been thinking for some days of writing a Note to Carlyle's Niece, enclosing her a Post Card to be returned to me with just a word about him and herself. A Card only: for I do not know how occupied she may be with her own family cares by this time.

I have re-read your Records, in which I do not know that I find any too much, as I had thought there was of some early Letters. Which I believe I told you while the Book was in progress. {186} It is, I sincerely say, a capital Book, and, as I have now read it twice over with pleasure, and I will say, with Admiration—if but for its Sincerity (I think you will not mind my saying that much)—I shall probably read it over again, if I live two years more. I am now embarked on my blessed Sevigne, who, with Crabbe, and John Wesley, seem to be my great hobbies; or such as I do not tire of riding, though my friends may weary of hearing me talk about them.

By the by, to-morrow is, I think, Derby Day; which I remember chiefly for its marking the time when Hampton Court Chestnuts were usually in full flower. You may guess that we in the Country here have been gaping for rain to bring on our Crops, and Flowers; very tantalising have been many promising Clouds, which just dropped a few drops by way of Compliment, and then passed on. But last night, when Dombey was being read to me we heard a good splash of rain, and Dombey was shut up that we might hear, and see, and feel it. {187} I never could make out who wrote two lines which I never could forget, wherever I found them:—

'Abroad, the rushing Tempest overwhelms Nature pitch dark, and rides the thundering elms.'

Very like Glorious John Dryden; but many others of his time wrote such lines, as no one does now—not even Messrs. Swinburne and Browning.

And I am always your old Friend, with the new name of



WOODBRIDGE: June 23, [1880.]


You smile at my 'Lunacies' as you call my writing periods; I take the Moon as a signal not to tax you too often for your inevitable answer. I have now let her pass her Full: and June is drawing short: and you were to be but for June at Leamington: so—I must have your answer, to tell me about your own health (which was not so good when last you wrote) and that of your Family; and when, and where, you go from Leamington. I shall be sorry if you cannot go to Switzerland.

I have been as far as—Norfolk—on a week's visit (the only visit of the sort I now make) to George Crabbe, my Poet's Grandson, and his two Granddaughters. It was a very pleasant visit indeed; the people all so sensible, and friendly, talking of old days; the Country flat indeed, but green, well-wooded, and well-cultivated: the weather well enough. {188a}

I carried there two volumes of my Sevigne: and even talked of going over to Brittany, only to see her Rochers, as once I went to Edinburgh only to see Abbotsford. But (beside that I probably should not have gone further than talking in any case) a French Guide Book informed me that the present Proprietor of the place will not let it be shown to Strangers who pester him for a view of it, on the strength of those 'paperasses,' as he calls her Letters. {188b} So this is rather a comfort to me. Had I gone, I should also have visited my dear old Frederick Tennyson at Jersey. But now I think we shall never see one another again.

Spedding keeps on writing Shakespeare Notes in answer to sundry Theories broached by others: he takes off copies of his MS. by some process he has learned; and, as I always insist on some Copy of all he writes, he has sent me these, which I read by instalments, as Eyesight permits. I believe I am not a fair Judge between him and his adversaries; first, because I have but little, if any, faculty of critical Analysis; and secondly, because I am prejudiced with the notion that old Jem is Shakespeare's Prophet, and must be right. But, whether right or wrong, the way in which he conducts, and pleads, his Case is always Music to me. So it was even with Bacon, with whom I could not be reconciled: I could not like Dr. Fell: much more so with 'the Divine Williams,' who is a Doctor that I do like.

It has turned so dark here in the last two days that I scarce see to write at my desk by a window which has a hood over it, meant to exclude—the Sun! I have increased my Family by two broods of Ducks, who compete for the possession of a Pond about four feet in diameter: and but an hour ago I saw my old Seneschal escorting home a stray lot of Chickens. My two elder Nieces are with me at present, but I do not think will be long here, if a Sister comes to them from Italy.

Pray let me hear how you are. I am pretty well myself:—though not quite up to the mark of my dear Sevigne, who writes from her Rochers when close on sixty—'Pour moi, je suis d'une si parfaite sante, que je ne comprends point ce que Dieu veut faire de moi.' {190}

But yours always and a Day, LITTLEGRANGE.


[WOODBRIDGE, July 24, 1880.]

'Il sera le mois de Juillet tant qu'il plaira a Dieu' writes my friend Sevigne—only a week more of it now, however. I should have written to my friend Mrs. Kemble before this—in defiance of the Moon—had I not been waiting for her Address from Mowbray Donne, to whom I wrote more than a fortnight ago. I hope no ill-health in himself, or his Family, keeps him from answering my Letter, if it ever reached him. But I will wait no longer for his reply: for I want to know concerning you and your health: and so I must trouble Coutts to fill up the Address which you will not instruct me in.

Here (Woodbridge) have I been since last I wrote—some Irish Cousins coming down as soon as English Nieces had left. Only that in the week's interval I went to our neighbouring Aldeburgh on the Sea—where I first saw, and felt, the Sea some sixty-five years ago; a dreary place enough in spite of some Cockney improvements: my old Crabbe's Borough, as you may remember. I think one goes back to the old haunts as one grows old: as the Chancellor l'Hopital said when he returned to his native Bourdeaux, I think: 'Me voici, Messieurs,' returned to die, as the Hare does, in her ancient 'gite.' {191} I shall soon be going to Lowestoft, where one of my Nieces, who is married to an Italian, and whom I have not seen for many years, is come, with her Boy, to stay with her Sisters.

Whither are you going after you leave Hampshire? You spoke in your last letter of Scarboro': but I still think you will get over to Switzerland. One of my old Friends—and Flames—Mary Lynn (pretty name) who is of our age, and played with me when we both were Children—at that very same Aldeburgh—is gone over to those Mountains which you are so fond of: having the same passion for them as you have. I had asked her to meet me at that Aldeburgh—'Aldbro''—that we might ramble together along that beach where once we played; but she was gone.

If you should come to Lowestoft instead of Scarbro', we, if you please, will ramble together too. But I do not recommend the place—very ugly—on a dirty Dutch Sea—and I do not suppose you would care for any of my People; unless it were my little Niece Annie, who is a delightful Creature.

I see by the Athenaeum that Tom Taylor is dead {192a}—the 'cleverest Man in London' Tennyson called him forty years ago. Professor Goodwin, of the Boston Cambridge, is in England, and made a very kind proposal to give me a look on his travels. But I could not let him come out of his way (as it would have been) for any such a purpose. {192b} He wrote that Mrs. Lowell was in better health: residing at Southampton, which you knew well near fifty years ago, as your Book tells. Mr. Lowell does not write to me now; nor is there reason that he should.

Please to make my remembrances to Mr. Sartoris, who scarcely remembers me, but whose London House was very politely opened to me so many years ago. Anyhow, pray let me hear of yourself: and believe me always yours sincerely



WOODBRIDGE: Friday, [30 July, 1880.]


I send you Mowbray's reply to my letter of nearly three weeks ago. No good news of his Father—still less of our Army (news to me told to-day) altogether a sorry budget to greet you on your return to London. But the public news you knew already, I doubt not: and I thought as well to tell you of our Donne at once.

I suppose one should hardly talk of anything except this Indian Calamity: {193} but I am selfish enough to ignore, as much as I can, such Evils as I cannot help.

I think that Tennyson in calling Tom Taylor the 'cleverest man,' etc., meant pretty much as you do. I believe he said it in reply to something I may have said that was less laudatory. At one time Tennyson almost lived with him and the Wigans whom I did not know. Taylor always seemed to me as 'clever' as any one: was always very civil to me: but one of those toward whom I felt no attraction. He was too clever, I think. As to Art, he knew nothing of it then, nor (as he admits) up to 1852 or thereabout, when he published his very good Memoir of Haydon. I think he was too 'clever' for Art also.

Why will you write of 'If you bid me come to Lowestoft in October,' etc., which, you must know, is just what I should not ask you to do: knowing that, after what you say, you would come, if asked, were—(a Bull begins here)—were it ever so unlikely for you. I am going thither next week, to hear much (I dare say) of a Brother in Ireland who may be called to India; and am

Ever yours sincerely, LITTLEGRANGE.

Why won't you write to me from Switzerland to say where a Letter may find you? If not, the Harvest Moon will pass!


IVY HOUSE, LOWESTOFT: Septr. 20, {194} [1880.]


Here is a second Full Moon since last I wrote—(Harvest Moon, I think). I knew not where to direct to you before, and, as you remain determined not to apprize me yourself, so I have refused to send through Coutts. You do not lose much.

Here have been for nearly two months Five English Nieces clustered round a Sister who married an Italian, and has not been in England these dozen years. She has brought her Boy of six, who seems to us wonderfully clever as compared to English Children of his Age, but who, she tells us, is counted rather behind his Fellows in Italy. Our meeting has been what is called a 'Success'—which will not be repeated, I think. She will go back to her adopted Country in about a month, I suppose. Do you know of any one likely to be going that way about that time?

Some days ago, when I was sitting on the Pier, rather sad at the Departure [of] a little Niece—an abridgment of all that is pleasant—and good—in Woman—Charles Merivale accosted me—he and his good, unaffected, sensible, wife, and Daughter to match. He was looking well, and we have since had a daily stroll together. We talked of you, for he said (among the first things he did say) that he had been reading your Records again: so I need not tell you his opinion of them. He saw your Uncle in Cato when he was about four years old; and believes that he (J. P. K.) had a bit of red waistcoat looking out of his toga, by way of Blood. I tell him he should call on you and clear up that, and talk on many other points.

Mowbray Donne wrote me from Wales a month ago that his Father was going on pretty well. I asked for further from Mowbray when he should have returned from Wales: but he has not yet written. Merivale, who is one of Donne's greatest Friends, has not heard of him more lately than I.

Now, my dear Mrs. Kemble, I want to hear of you from yourself: and I have told you why it is that I have not asked you before. I fancy that you will not be back in England when this Letter reaches Westminster: but I fancy that it will not be long before you find it waiting on your table for you.

And now I am going to look for the Dean, who, I hope, has been at Church this morning: and though I have not done that, I am not the less sincerely yours

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: Octr. 20, 1880.


I was to have gone to London on Monday with my Italian Niece on her way homeward. But she feared saying 'Farewell' and desired me to let her set off alone, to avoid doing so.

Thus I delay my visit to you till November—perhaps toward the middle of it: when I hope to find you, with your blue and crimson Cushions {197} in Queen Anne's Mansions, as a year ago. Mrs. Edwards is always in town: not at all forgetful of her husband; and there will be our Donne also of whom I hear nothing, and so conclude there is nothing to be told, and with him my Visits will be summed up.

Now, lose not a Day in providing yourself with Charles Tennyson Turner's Sonnets, published by Kegan Paul. There is a Book for you to keep on your table, at your elbow. Very many of the Sonnets I do not care for: mostly because of the Subject: but there is pretty sure to be some beautiful line or expression in all; and all pure, tender, noble, and—original. Old Spedding supplies a beautiful Prose Overture to this delightful Volume: never was Critic more one with his Subject—or, Object, is it? Frederick Tennyson, my old friend, ought to have done something to live along with his Brothers: all who will live, I believe, of their Generation: and he perhaps would, if he could, have confined himself to limits not quite so narrow as the Sonnet. But he is a Poet, and cannot be harnessed.

I have still a few flowers surviving in my Garden; and I certainly never remember the foliage of trees so little changed in October's third week. A little flight of Snow however: whose first flight used to quicken my old Crabbe's fancy: Sir Eustace Grey written under such circumstances. {198}

And I am always yours LITTLEGRANGE

(not 'Markethill' as you persist in addressing me.)


WOODBRIDGE, Novr. 17/80.


Here is the Moon very near her Full: so I send you a Letter. I have it in my head you are not in London: and may not be when I go up there for a few days next week—for this reason I think so: viz., that you have not acknowledged a Copy of Charles Tennyson's Sonnets, which I desired Kegan Paul to send you, as from me—with my illustrious Initials on the Fly Leaf: and, he or one of his men, wrote that so it should be, or had been done. It may nevertheless not have been: or, if in part done, the illustrious Initials forgotten. But I rather think the Book was sent: and that you would have guessed at the Sender, Initials or not. And as I know you are even over-scrupulous in acknowledging any such things, I gather that the Book came when you had left London—for Leamington, very likely: and that there you are now. The Book, and your Acknowledgment of it, will very well wait: but I wish to hear about yourself—as also about yours—if you should be among them. I talk of 'next week,' because one of my few Visitors, Archdeacon Groome, is coming the week after that, I believe, for a day or two to my house: and, as he has not been here for two years, I do not wish to be out of the way.

A Letter about a fortnight ago from Mowbray Donne told me that his Father was fairly well: and a Post Card from Mowbray two days ago informed [me] that Valentia was to be in London this present week. But I have wanted to be here at home all this time: I would rather see Donne when he is alone: and I would rather go to London when there is more likelihood of seeing you there than now seems to me. Of course you will not in the slightest way hasten your return to London (if now away from it) for my poor little Visits: but pray let me hear from you, and believe me always the same

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: Decr. 6, [1880.]


I was surprised to see a Letter in your MS. which could not be in answer to any of mine. But the Photos account for it. Thank you: I keep that which I like best, and herewith return the other.

Why will you take into your head that I could suppose you wanting in Hospitality, or any other sort of Generosity! That, at least, is not a Kemble failing. Why, I believe you would give me—and a dozen others—1000 pounds if you fancied one wanted it—even without being asked. The Law of Mede and Persian is that you will take up—a perverse notion—now and then. There! It's out.

As to the Tea—'pure and simple'—with Bread and Butter—it is the only meal I do care to join in:—and this is why I did not see Mowbray Donne, who has not his Dinner till an hour and a half after my last meal is done.

I should very gladly have 'crushed a Cup of Tea' with you that last Evening, coming prepared so to do. But you had Friends coming; and so (as Mrs. Edwards was in the same plight) I went to the Pit of my dear old Haymarket Opera: {200} remembering the very corner of the Stage where Pasta stood when Jason's People came to tell her of his new Marriage; and (with one hand in her Girdle—a movement (Mrs. Frere said) borrowed from Grassini) she interrupted them with her "Cessate—intesi!"—also when Rubini, feathered hat in hand, began that "Ah te, oh Cara"—and Taglioni hovered over the Stage. There was the old Omnibus Box too where D'Orsay flourished in ample white Waistcoat and Wristbands: and Lady Blessington's: and Lady Jersey's on the Pit tier: and my own Mother's, among the lesser Stars, on the third. In place of all which I dimly saw a small Company of less distinction in all respects; and heard an Opera (Carmen) on the Wagner model: very beautiful Accompaniments to no Melody: and all very badly sung except by Trebelli, who, excellent. I ran out in the middle to the dear Little Haymarket opposite—where Vestris and Liston once were: and found the Theatre itself spoilt by being cut up into compartments which marred the beautiful Horse-shoe shape, once set off by the flowing pattern of Gold which used to run round the house.

Enough of these Old Man's fancies—But—Right for all that!

I would not send you Spedding's fine Article {201a} till you had returned from your Visit, and also had received Mrs. Leigh at Queen Anne's. You can send it back to me quite at your leisure, without thinking it necessary to write about it.

It is so mild here that the Thrush sings a little, and my Anemones seem preparing to put forth a blossom as well as a leaf. Yesterday I was sitting on a stile by our River side.

You will doubtless see Tennyson's new Volume, {201b} which is to my thinking far preferable to his later things, though far inferior to those of near forty years ago: and so, I think, scarce wanted. There is a bit of Translation from an old War Song which shows what a Poet can do when he condescends to such work: and I have always said that 'tis for the old Poets to do some such service for their Predecessors. I hope this long letter is tolerably legible: and I am in very truth



WOODBRIDGE, Christmas Day, [1880.]


You are at Leamington for this day, I expect: but, as I am not sure of your address there, I direct to Queen Anne as usual. This very morning I had a letter from my dear George Crabbe, telling me that he has met your friend Mr. H. Aide at Lord Walsingham's, the Lord of G. C.'s parish: and that Mr. Aide had asked him (G. C.) for his copy of my Crabbe. I should have been very glad to give him one had he, or you, mentioned to me that he had any wish for the book: I am only somewhat disappointed that so few do care to ask for it.

I am here all alone for my Christmas: which is not quite my own fault. A Nephew, and a young London clerk, were to have come, but prevented; even my little Reader is gone to London for his Holyday, and left me with Eyes more out of Kelter {202} than usual to entertain myself with. 'These are my troubles, Mr. Wesley,' as a rich man complained to him when his Servant put too many Coals on the fire. {203a} On Friday, Aldis Wright comes for two days, on his road to his old home Beccles: and I shall leave him to himself with Books and a Cigar most part of the Day, and make him read Shakespeare of a night. He is now editing Henry V. for what they call the Clarendon Press. He still knows nothing of Mr. Furness, who, he thinks, must be home in America long ago.

Spedding writes me that Carlyle is now so feeble as to be carried up and down stairs. But very 'quiet,' which is considered a bad sign; but, as Spedding says, surely much better than the other alternative, into which one of Carlyle's temperament might so probably have fallen. Nay, were it not better for all of us? Mr. Froude is most constantly with him.

If this Letter is forwarded you, I know that it will not be long before I hear from you. And you know that I wish to hear that all is well with you, and that I am always yours

E. F.G.

How is Mr. Sartoris? And I see a Book of hers advertised. {203b}


WOODBRIDGE: Jan. 17, [1881.]


The Moon has passed her Full: but my Eyes have become so troubled since Christmas that I have not written before. All Christmas I was alone: Aldis Wright came to me on New Year's Day, and read to me, among many other things, 'Winter's Tale' which we could not take much delight in. No Play more undoubtedly, nor altogether, Shakespeare's, but seeming to me written off for some 'occasion' theatrical, and then, I suppose that Mrs. Siddons made much of the Statue Scene.

I cannot write much, and I fancy that you will not care to read much, if you are indeed about to leave Queen Anne. That is a very vexatious business. You will probably be less inclined to write an answer to my letter, than to read it: but answer it you will: and you need trouble yourself to say no more than how you are, and where, and when, you are going, if indeed you leave where you are. And do not cross your letter, pray: and believe me always your sincere old friend

E. F.G.


[Feb., 1881.]


I expected to send you a piece of Print as well as a Letter this Full Moon. {205} But the Print is not come from the Printer's: and perhaps that is as well: for now you can thank me for it beforehand when you reply (as I know you will) to this Letter—and no more needs to be said. For I do [not] need your Advice as to Publication in this case; no such Design is in my head: on the contrary, not even a Friend will know of it except yourself, Mr. Norton, and Aldis Wright: the latter of whom would not be of the party but that he happened to be here when I was too purblind to correct the few Proofs, and very kindly did so for me. As for Mr. Norton (America), he it was for whom it was printed at all—at his wish, he knowing the MS. had been lying by me unfinisht for years. It is a Version of the two OEdipus Plays of Sophocles united as two Parts of one Drama. I should not send it to you but that I feel sure that, if you are in fair health and spirits, you will be considerably interested in it, and probably give me more credit for my share in it than I deserve. As I make sure of this you see there will be no need to say anything more about it. The Chorus part is not mine, as you will see; but probably quite as good. Quite enough on that score.

I really want to know how you like your new Quarters in dear old London: how you are; and whether relieved from Anxiety concerning Mr. Leigh. It was a Gale indeed, such as the oldest hereabout say they do not remember: but it was all from the East: and I do not see why it should have travelled over the Atlantic.

If you are easy on that account, and otherwise pretty well in mind and Body, tell me if you have been to see the Lyceum 'Cup' {206a} and what you make of it. Somebody sent me a Macmillan {206b} with an Article about it by Lady Pollock; the extracts she gave seemed to me a somewhat lame imitation of Shakespeare.

I venture to think—and what is more daring—to write, that my Eyes are better, after six weeks' rest and Blue Glasses. But I say so with due regard to my old Friend Nemesis.

I have heard nothing about my dear Donne since you wrote: and you only said that you had not heard a good account of him. Since then you have, I doubt not, seen as well as heard. But, now that I see better (Absit Invidia!) I will ask Mowbray.

It is well, I think, that Carlyle desired to rest (as I am told he did) where he was born—at Ecclefechan, from which I have, or had, several Letters dated by him. His Niece, who had not replied to my note of Enquiry, of two months ago, wrote to me after his Death.

Now I have written enough for you as well as for myself: and am yours always the same


* 'What foppery is this, sir?'—Dr. Johnson.


[Feb., 1881.]


As you generally return a Salute so directly, I began to be alarmed at not hearing from you sooner—either that you were ill, or your Daughter, or some ill news about Mr. Leigh. I had asked one who reads the Newspapers, and was told there had been much anxiety as to the Cunard Ship, which indeed was only just saved from total Wreck. But all is well so far as you and yours are concerned; and I will sing 'Gratias' along with you.

Mowbray Donne wrote to tell me that he and his had provided for some man to accompany our dear old Friend in his walks; and, as he seems himself to like it, all is so far well in that quarter also.

I was touched with the account of Carlyle's simple Obsequies among his own Kinsfolk, in the place of his Birth—it was fine of him to settle that so it should be. I am glad also that Mr. Froude is charged with his Biography: a Gentleman, as well as a Scholar and 'Writer of Books,' who will know what to leave unsaid as well as what to say.

Your account of 'The Cup' is what I should have expected from you: and, if I may say so, from myself had I seen it.

And with this Letter comes my Sophocles, of which I have told you what I expect you will think also, and therefore need not say—unless of a different opinion. It came here I think the same Day on which I wrote to tell you it had not come: but I would not send it until assured that all was well with you. Such corrections as you will find are not meant as Poetical—or rather Versifying—improvements, but either to clear up obscurity, or to provide for some modifications of the two Plays when made, as it were, into one. Especially concerning the Age of OEdipus: whom I do not intend to be the old man in Part II. as he appears in the original. For which, and some other things, I will, if Eyes hold, send you some printed reasons in an introductory Letter to Mr. Norton, at whose desire I finished what had been lying in my desk these dozen years.

As I said of my own AEschylus Choruses, I say of old Potter's now: better just to take a hint from them of what they are about—or imagine it for yourself—and then imagine, or remember, some grand Organ piece—as of Bach's Preludes—which will be far better Interlude than Potter—or I—or even (as I dare think) than Sophocles' self!

And so I remain your ancient Heretic,


The newly printed Part II. would not bear Ink.


[Feb., 1881.]


Pray keep the Book: I always intended that you should do so if you liked it: and, as I believe I said, I was sure that like it you would. I did not anticipate how much: but am all the more glad: and (were I twenty years younger) should be all the more proud; even making, as I do, a little allowance for your old and constant regard to the Englisher. The Drama is, however, very skilfully put together, and very well versified, although that not as an original man—such as Dryden—would have versified it: I will, by and by, send you a little introductory letter to Mr. Norton, explaining to him, a Greek Scholar, why I have departed from so much of the original: 'little' I call the Letter, but yet so long that I did not wish him, or you, to have as much trouble in reading, as I, with my bad Eyes, had in writing it: so, as I tell him—and you—it must go to the Printers along with the Play which it prates about.

I think I once knew why the two Cities in Egypt and Boeotia were alike named Thebes; and perhaps could now find out from some Books now stowed away in a dark Closet which affrights my Eyes to think of. But any of your learned friends in London will tell you, and probably more accurately than Paddy. I cannot doubt but that Sphinx and heaps more of the childish and dirty mythology of Greece came from Egypt, and who knows how far beyond, whether in Time or Space!

Your Uncle, the great John, did enact OEdipus in some Tragedy, by whom I know not: I have a small Engraving of him in the Character, from a Drawing of that very clever artist De Wilde; {210} but this is a heavy Likeness, though it may have been a true one of J. K. in his latter years, or in one of his less inspired—or more asthmatic—moods. This portrait is one of a great many (several of Mrs. Siddons) in a Book I have—and which I will send you if you would care to see it: plenty of them are rubbish such as you would wonder at a sensible man having ever taken the trouble to put together. But I inherit a long-rooted Affection for the Stage: almost as real a World to me as Jaques called it. Of yourself there is but a Newspaper Scrap or two: I think I must have cut out and given you what was better: but I never thought any one worth having except Sir Thomas', which I had from its very first Appearance, and keep in a large Book along with some others of a like size: Kean, Mars, Talma, Duchesnois, etc., which latter I love, though I heard more of them than I saw.

Yesterday probably lighted you up once again in London, as it did us down here. 'Richard' thought he began to feel himself up to his Eyes again: but To-day all Winter again, though I think I see the Sun resolved on breaking through the Snow clouds. My little Aconites—which are sometimes called 'New Year Gifts,' {211a} have almost lived their little Lives: my Snowdrops look only too much in Season; but we will hope that all this Cold only retards a more active Spring.

I should not have sent you the Play till Night had I thought you would sit up that same night to read it. Indeed, I had put it away for the Night Post: but my old Hermes came in to say he was going into Town to market, and so he took it with him to Post.

Farewell for the present—till next Full Moon? I am really glad that all that Atlantic worry has blown over, and all ended well so far as you and yours are concerned. And I am always your ancient


LXXXIX. {211b}

[March, 1881.]


It was very, very good and kind of you to write to me about Spedding. Yes: Aldis Wright had apprised me of the matter just after it happened—he happening to be in London at the time; and but two days after the accident heard that Spedding was quite calm, and even cheerful; only anxious that Wright himself should not be kept waiting for some communication which S. had promised him! Whether to live, or to die, he will be Socrates still.

Directly that I heard from Wright, I wrote to Mowbray Donne to send me just a Post Card—daily if he or his wife could—with but one or two words on it—'Better,' 'Less well,' or whatever it might be. This morning I hear that all is going on even better than could be expected, according to Miss Spedding. But I suppose the Crisis, which you tell me of, is not yet come; and I have always a terror of that French Adage—'Monsieur se porte malMonsieur se porte mieuxMonsieur est'—Ah, you know—or you guess, the rest.

My dear old Spedding, though I have not seen him these twenty years and more—and probably should never see him again—but he lives—his old Self—in my heart of hearts; and all I hear of him does but embellish the recollection of him—if it could be embellished—for he is but the same that he was from a Boy—all that is best in Heart and Head—a man that would be incredible had one not known him.

I certainly should have gone up to London—even with Eyes that will scarce face the lamps of Woodbridge—not to see him, but to hear the first intelligence I could about him. But I rely on the Postcard for but a Night's delay. Laurence, Mowbray tells me, had been to see him, and found him as calm as had been reported by Wright. But the Doctors had said that he should be kept as quiet as possible.

I think, from what Mowbray also says, that you may have seen our other old Friend Donne in somewhat worse plight than usual because of his being much shocked at this Accident. He would feel it indeed!—as you do.

I had even thought of writing to tell you of all this, but could not but suppose that you were more likely to know of it than myself; though sometimes one is greatly mistaken with those 'of course you knows, etc.'—But you have known it all: and have very kindly written of it to me, whom you might also have supposed already informed of it: but you took the trouble to write, not relying on 'of course you know, etc.'

I have thought lately that I ought to make some enquiry about Arthur Malkin, who was always very kind to me. I had meant to send him my Crabbe, who was a great favourite of his Father's, 'an excellent companion for Old Age' he told—Donne, I think. But I do not know if I ever did send him the Book, and now, judging by what you tell me, it is too late to do so, unless for Compliment.

The Sun, I see, has put my Fire out—for which I only thank him, and will go to look for him himself in my Garden—only with a Green Shade over my Eyes. I must get to London to see you before you move away to Leamington; when I can bear Sun or Lamp without odious blue Glasses, etc. I dare to think those Eyes are better, though not Sun-proof: and I am ever yours


XC. {214}

20 March, [1881.]


I have let the Full Moon pass because I thought you had written to me so lately, and so kindly, about our lost Spedding, that I would not call on you too soon again. Of him I will say nothing except that his Death has made me recall very many passages in his Life in which I was partly concerned. In particular, staying at his Cumberland Home along with Tennyson in the May of 1835. 'Voila bien long temps de ca!' His Father and Mother were both alive—he, a wise man, who mounted his Cob after Breakfast, and was at his Farm till Dinner at two—then away again till Tea: after which he sat reading by a shaded lamp: saying very little, but always courteous, and quite content with any company his Son might bring to the house so long as they let him go his way: which indeed he would have gone whether they let him or no. But he had seen enough of Poets not to like them or their Trade: Shelley, for a time living among the Lakes: Coleridge at Southey's (whom perhaps he had a respect for—Southey, I mean), and Wordsworth, whom I do not think he valued. He was rather jealous of 'Jem,' who might have done available service in the world, he thought, giving himself up to such Dreamers; and sitting up with Tennyson conning over the Morte d'Arthur, Lord of Burleigh, and other things which helped to make up the two Volumes of 1842. So I always associate that Arthur Idyll with Basanthwaite Lake, under Skiddaw. Mrs. Spedding was a sensible, motherly Lady, with whom I used to play Chess of a Night. And there was an old Friend of hers, Mrs. Bristow, who always reminded me of Miss La Creevy, if you know of such a Person in Nickleby.

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