Letters of Edward FitzGerald to Fanny Kemble (1871-1883)
by Edward FitzGerald
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Transcribed from the 1902 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email





All rights reserved

First Edition 1895 Second Edition 1902

{Edward FitzGerald. From a photograph by Mess. Cade & Wight, Ipswich: pi.jpg}

Of the letters which are contained in the present volume, the first eighty-five were in the possession of the late Mr. George Bentley, who took great interest in their publication in The Temple Bar Magazine, and was in correspondence with the Editor until within a short time of his death. The remainder were placed in the Editor's hands by Mrs. Kemble in 1883, and of these some were printed in whole or in part in FitzGerald's Letters and Literary Remains, which first appeared in 1889.


{Frances Anne Kemble. Engraved by J. G. Stodart from the original painting by Sully in the possession of the Hon. Mrs. Leigh: pii.jpg}


'Letters . . . such as are written from wise men, are, of all the words of man, in my judgment the best.'—BACON.

The following letters, addressed by Edward FitzGerald to his life-long friend Fanny Kemble, form an almost continuous series, from the middle of 1871 to within three weeks of his death in 1883. They are printed as nearly as possible as he wrote them, preserving his peculiarities of punctuation and his use of capital letters, although in this he is not always consistent. In writing to me in 1873 he said, 'I love the old Capitals for Nouns.' It has been a task of some difficulty to arrange the letters in their proper order, in consequence of many of them being either not dated at all or only imperfectly dated; but I hope I have succeeded in giving them, approximately at least, in their true sequence. The notes which are added are mainly for the purpose of explaining allusions, and among them will be found extracts from other letters in my possession which have not been published. The references to the printed 'Letters' are to the separate edition in the Eversley Series, 2 vols. (Macmillans, 1894).

In a letter to Mr. Arthur Malkin, October 15, 1854 ('Further Records,' ii. 193), Mrs. Kemble enunciates her laws of correspondence, to which frequent reference is made in the present series as the laws of the Medes and Persians: 'You bid me not answer your letter, but I have certain organic laws of correspondence from which nothing short of a miracle causes me to depart; as, for instance, I never write till I am written to, I always write when I am written to, and I make a point of always returning the same amount of paper I receive, as you may convince yourself by observing that I send you two sheets of note-paper and Mary Anne only half one, though I have nothing more to say to you, and I have to her.'


January 1895.


WOODBRIDGE, July 4, [1871.]


I asked Donne to tell you, if he found opportunity, that some two months ago I wrote you a letter, but found it so empty and dull that I would not send it to extort the Reply which you feel bound to give. I should have written to tell you so myself; but I heard from Donne of the Wedding soon about to be, and I would not intrude then. Now that is over {3a}—I hope to the satisfaction of you all—and I will say my little say, and you will have to Reply, according to your own Law of Mede and Persian.

It is a shame that one should only have oneself to talk about; and yet that is all I have; so it shall be short. If you will but tell me of yourself, who have read, and seen, and done, so much more, you will find much more matter for your pen, and also for my entertainment.

Well, I have sold my dear little Ship, {3b} because I could not employ my Eyes with reading in her Cabin, where I had nothing else to do. I think those Eyes began to get better directly I had written to agree to the Man's proposal. Anyhow, the thing is done; and so now I betake myself to a Boat, whether on this River here, or on the Sea at the Mouth of it.

Books you see I have nothing to say about. The Boy who came to read to me made such blundering Work that I was forced to confine him to a Newspaper, where his Blunders were often as entertaining as the Text which he mistook. We had 'hangarues' in the French Assembly, and, on one occasion, 'ironclad Laughter from the Extreme Left.' Once again, at the conclusion of the London news, 'Consolations closed at 91, ex Div.'—And so on. You know how illiterate People will jump at a Word they don't know, and twist it in[to] some word they are familiar with. I was telling some of these Blunders to a very quiet Clergyman here some while ago, and he assured me that a poor Woman, reading the Bible to his Mother, read off glibly, 'Stand at a Gate and swallow a Candle.' I believe this was no Joke of his: whether it were or not, here you have it for what you may think it worth.

I should be glad to hear that you think Donne looking and seeming well. Archdeacon Groome, who saw him lately, thought he looked very jaded: which I could not wonder at. Donne, however, writes as if in good Spirits—brave Man as he is—and I hope you will be able to tell me that he is not so much amiss. He said that he was to be at the Wedding.

You will tell me too how long you remain in England; I fancy, till Winter: and then you will go to Rome again, with its new Dynasty installed in it. I fancy I should not like that so well as the old; but I suppose it's better for the Country.

I see my Namesake (Percy) Fitzgerald advertizes a Book about the Kembles. That I shall manage to get sight of. He made far too long work of Garrick. I should have thought the Booksellers did not find that pay, judging by the price to which Garrick soon came down. Half of it would have been enough.

Now I am going for a Sail on the famous River Deben, to pass by the same fields of green Wheat, Barley, Rye, and Beet-root, and come back to the same Dinner. Positively the only new thing we have in Woodbridge is a Waxen Bust (Lady, of course) at the little Hairdresser's opposite. She turns slowly round, to our wonder and delight; and I caught the little Barber the other day in the very Act of winding her up to run her daily Stage of Duty. Well; she has not got to answer Letters, as poor Mrs. Kemble must do to hers always sincerely

E. F.G.




Is it better not to write at all than only write to plead that one has nothing to say? Yet I don't like to let the year get so close to an end without reminding you of me, to whom you have been always so good in the matter of replying to my letters, as in other ways.

If I can tell you nothing of myself: no Books read because of no Eyes to read them: no travel from home because of my little Ship being vanished: no friends seen, except Donne, who came here with Valentia for two days—you can fill a sheet like this, I know, with some account of yourself and your Doings: and I shall be very glad to hear that all is well with you. Donne said he believed you were in Ireland when he was here; and he spoke of your being very well when he had last seen you; also telling me he thought you were to stay in England this winter. By the by, I also heard of Mrs. Wister being at Cambridge; not Donne told me this, but Mr. Wright, the Bursar of Trinity: and every one who speaks of her says she is a very delightful Lady. Donne himself seemed very well, and in very good Spirits, in spite of all his domestic troubles. What Courage, and Good Temper, and Self-sacrifice! Valentia (whom I had not seen these dozen years) seemed a very sensible, unaffected Woman.

I would almost bet that you have not read my Namesake's Life of your Namesakes, which I must borrow another pair of Eyes for one day. My Boy- reader gave me a little taste of it from the Athenaeum; as also of Mr. Harness' Memoirs, {6} which I must get at.

This is a sorry sight {7} of a Letter:—do not trouble yourself to write a better—that you must, in spite of yourself—but write to me a little about yourself; which is a matter of great Interest to yours always

E. F.G.


[Nov. 1871.]


I ought to be much obliged to you for answering my last letter with an uneasy hand, as you did. So I do thank you: and really wish that you would not reply to this under any such pain: but how do I know but that very pain will make you more determined to reply? I must only beg you not to do so: and thus wash my hands of any responsibilities in the matter.

And what will you say when I tell you that I can hardly pity one who suffers from Gout; though I would undoubtedly prefer that you should be free from that, or any other ailment. But I have always heard that Gout exempts one from many other miseries which Flesh is heir to: at any rate, it almost always leaves the Head clear: and that is so much! My Mother, who suffered a good deal, used often to say how she was kept awake of nights by the Pain in her feet, or hands, but felt so clear aloft that she made Night pass even agreeably away with her reflections and recollections.

And you have your recollections and Reflections which you are gathering into Shape, you say, in a Memoir of your own Life. And you are good enough to say that you would read it to me if I—were good enough to invite you to my House here some Summer Day! I doubt that Donne has given you too flattering an account of my house, and me: you know he is pleased with every one and everything: I know it also, and therefore no longer dissuade him from spending his time and money in a flying Visit here in the course of his Visits to other East Anglian friends and Kinsmen. But I feel a little all the while as if I were taking all, and giving nothing in return: I mean, about Books, People, etc., with which a dozen years discontinuance of Society, and, latterly, incompetent Eyes, have left me in the lurch. If you indeed will come and read your Memoir to me, I shall be entitled to be a Listener only: and you shall have my Chateau all to yourself for as long as you please: only do not expect me to be quite what Donne may represent.

It is disgusting to talk so much about oneself: but I really think it is better to say so much on this occasion. If you consider my circumstances, you will perhaps see that I am not talking unreasonably: I am sure, not with sham humility: and that I am yours always and sincerely

E. F.G.

P.S. I should not myself have written so soon again, but to apprise you of a brace of Pheasants I have sent you. Pray do not write expressly to acknowledge them:—only tell me if they don't come. I know you thank me. {9}


[27 Feb., 1872.]


Had I anything pleasant to write to you, or better Eyes to write it with, you would have heard from me before this. An old Story, by way of Apology—to one who wants no such Apology, too. Therefore, true though it be there is enough of it.

I hear from Mowbray Donne that you were at his Father's Lectures, {10a} and looking yourself. So that is all right. Are your Daughters—or one of them—still with you? I do not think you have been to see the Thanksgiving Procession, {10b} for which our Bells are even now ringing—the old Peal which I have known these—sixty years almost—though at that time it reached my Eyes (sic) through a Nursery window about two miles off. From that window I remember seeing my Father with another Squire {10c} passing over the Lawn with their little pack of Harriers—an almost obliterated Slide of the old Magic Lantern. My Mother used to come up sometimes, and we Children were not much comforted. She was a remarkable woman, as you said in a former letter: and as I constantly believe in outward Beauty as an Index of a Beautiful Soul within, I used sometimes to wonder what feature in her fine face betrayed what was not so good in her Character. I think (as usual) the Lips: there was a twist of Mischief about them now and then, like that in—the Tail of a Cat!—otherwise so smooth and amiable. I think she admired your Mother as much as any one she knew, or had known.

And (I see by the Athenaeum) Mr. Chorley is dead, {11} whom I used to see at your Father's and Sister's houses. Born in 1808 they say: so, one year older than yours truly E. F.G.—who, however, is going to live through another page of Letter-paper. I think he was a capital Musical Critic, though he condemned Piccolomini, who was the last Singer I heard of Genius, Passion, and a Voice that told both. I am told she was no Singer: but that went some way to make amends. Chorley, too, though an irritable, nervous creature, as his outside expressed, was kind and affectionate to Family and Friend, I always heard. But I think the Angels must take care to keep in tune when he gets among them.

This is a wretched piece of Letter to extort the Answer which you feel bound to give. But I somehow wished to write: and not to write about myself; and so have only left room to say—to repeat—that I am yours ever sincerely

E. F.G.




I set off with a Letter to you, though I do not very well know how I am to go on with it. But my Reader has been so disturbed by a Mouse in the room that I have dismissed him—9.30 p.m.—and he has been reading (so far as he could get on) Hawthorne's Notes of Italian Travel: which interest me very much indeed, as being the Notes of a Man of Genius who will think for himself independently of Murray &c. And then his Account of Rome has made me think of you more than once. We have indeed left off to-night at Radicofani: but, as my Boy is frightened away by the Mouse, I fancy I will write to you before I take my one Pipe—which were better left alone, considering that it gives but half an hour's rather pleasant musing at the expense of a troubled night. Is it not more foolish then to persist in doing this than being frightened at a Mouse? This is not a mere fancy of the Boy—who is not a Fool, nor a 'Betty,' and is seventeen years old: he inherits his terror from his Mother, he says: positively he has been in a cold Sweat because of this poor little thing in the room: and yet he is the son of a Butcher here. So I sent him home, and write to you instead of hearing him read Hawthorne. He is to bring some poisoned Wheat for the Mouse to-morrow.

Another Book he read me also made me think of you: Harness: whom I remember to have seen once or twice at your Father's years ago. The Memoir of him (which is a poor thing) still makes one like—nay, love—him—as a kindly, intelligent, man. I think his latter letters very pleasant indeed.

I do not know if you are in London or in your 'Villeggiatura' {13a} in Kent. Donne must decide that for me. Even my Garden and Fields and Shrubs are more flourishing than I have yet seen them at this time of Year: and with you all is in fuller bloom, whether you be in Kent or Middlesex. Are you going on with your Memoir? Pray read Hawthorne. I dare say you do not quite forget Shakespeare now and then: dear old Harness, reading him to the last!

Pray do you read Annie Thackeray's new Story {13b} in Cornhill? She wrote me that she had taken great pains with it, and so thought it might not be so good as what she took less pains with. I doated on her Village on the Cliff, but did not care for what I had read of hers since: and this new Story I have not seen! And pray do you doat on George Eliot?

Here are a few questions suggested for you to answer—as answer I know you will. It is almost a Shame to put you to it by such a piece of inanity as this letter. But it is written: it is 10 p.m. A Pipe—and then to Bed—with what Appetite for Sleep one may.

And I am yours sincerely always

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: June 6, [1872].


Some little while ago I saw in a London Book Catalogue 'Smiles and Tears—a Comedy by Mrs. C. Kemble'—I had a curiosity to see this: and so bought it. Do you know it?—Would you like to have it? It seems to be ingeniously contrived, and of easy and natural Dialogue: of the half sentimental kind of Comedy, as Comedies then were (1815) with a serious—very serious—element in it—taken from your Mother's Friend's, Mrs. Opie's (what a sentence!) story of 'Father and Daughter'—the seduced Daughter, who finds her distracted Father writing her name on a Coffin he has drawn on the Wall of his Cell—All ends happily in the Play, however, whatever may be the upshot of the Novel. But an odd thing is, that this poor Girl's name is 'Fitz Harding'—and the Character was played by Miss Foote: whether before, or after, her seduction by Colonel Berkeley I know not. The Father was played by Young.

Sir Frederick Pollock has been to see me here for two days, {15} and put me up to much that was going on in the civilized World. He was very agreeable indeed: and I believe his Visit did him good. What are you going to do with your Summer? Surely never came Summer with more Verdure: and I somehow think we shall have more rain to keep the Verdure up, than for the last few years we have had.

I am quite sure of the merit of George Eliot, and (I should have thought) of a kind that would suit me. But I have not as yet found an Appetite for her. I have begun taking the Cornhill that I may read Annie Thackeray—but I have not found Appetite for her as yet. Is it that one recoils from making so many new Acquaintances in Novels, and retreats upon one's Old Friends, in Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Sir Walter? Oh, I read the last as you have lately been reading—the Scotch Novels, I mean: I believe I should not care for the Ivanhoes, Kenilworths, etc., any more. But Jeanie Deans, the Antiquary, etc., I shall be theirs as long as I am yours sincerely

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: August 9, [1872].


I think I shall hear from you once again before you go abroad. To Rome! My Brother Peter also is going to winter there: but you would not have much in common with him, I think, so I say nothing of an Acquaintance between you.

I have been having Frederick Tennyson with me down here. {16a} He has come to England (from Jersey where his home now is) partly on Business, and partly to bring over a deaf old Gentleman who has discovered the Original Mystery of Free-masonry, by means of Spiritualism. The Freemasons have for Ages been ignorant, it seems, of the very Secret which all their Emblems and Signs refer to: and the question is, if they care enough for their own Mystery to buy it of this ancient Gentleman. If they do not, he will shame them by Publishing it to all the world. Frederick Tennyson, who has long been a Swedenborgian, a Spiritualist, and is now even himself a Medium, is quite grand and sincere in this as in all else: with the Faith of a Gigantic Child—pathetic and yet humorous to consider and consort with.

I went to Sydenham for two days to visit the Brother I began telling you of: and, at a hasty visit to the Royal Academy, caught a glimpse of Annie Thackeray: {16b} who had first caught a glimpse of me, and ran away from her Party to seize the hands of her Father's old friend. I did not know her at first: was half overset by her cordial welcome when she told me who she was; and made a blundering business of it altogether. So much so, that I could not but write afterwards to apologize to her: and she returned as kind an Answer as she had given a Greeting: telling me that my chance Apparition had been to her as 'A message from Papa.' It was really something to have been of so much importance.

I keep intending to go out somewhere—if for no other reason than that my rooms here may be cleaned! which they will have it should be done once a year. Perhaps I may have to go to my old Field of Naseby, where Carlyle wants me to erect a Stone over the spot where I dug up some remains of those who were slain there over two hundred years ago, for the purpose of satisfying him in his Cromwell History. This has been a fixed purpose of his these twenty years: I thought it had dropped from his head: but it cropped up again this Spring, and I do not like to neglect such wishes. Ever yours

E. F.G.


April 22, [1873.]


One last word about what you call my 'Half-invitation' to Woodbridge. In one sense it is so; but not in the sense you imagine.

I never do invite any of my oldest Friends to come and see me, am almost distressed at their proposing to do so. If they take me in their way to, or from, elsewhere (as Donne in his Norfolk Circuit) it is another matter.

But I have built a pleasant house just outside the Town, where I never live myself, but keep it mainly for some Nieces who come there for two or three months in the Summer: and, when they are not there, for any Friends who like to come, for the Benefit of fresh Air and Verdure, plus the company of their Host. An Artist and his Wife have stayed there for some weeks for the last two years; and Donne and Valentia were to have come, but that they went abroad instead.

And so, while I should even deprecate a Lady like you coming thus far only for my sake, who ought rather to go and ask Admission at your Door, I should be glad if you liked to come to my house for the double purpose aforesaid.

My Nieces have hitherto come to me from July to September or October. Since I wrote to you, they have proposed to come on May 21; though it may be somewhat later, as suits the health of the Invalid—who lives on small means with her elder Sister, who is her Guardian Angel. I am sure that no friend of mine—and least of all you—would dissent from my making them my first consideration. I never ask them in Winter, when I think they are better in a Town: which Town has, since their Father's Death, been Lowestoft, where I see them from time to time. Their other six sisters (one only married) live elsewhere: all loving one another, notwithstanding.

Well: I have told you all I meant by my 'Half-Invitation.' These N.E. winds are less inviting than I to these parts; but I and my House would be very glad to entertain you to our best up to the End of May, if you really liked to see Woodbridge as well as yours always truly

E. F.G.

P.S.—You tell me that, once returned to America, you think you will not return ever again to England. But you will—if only to revisit those at Kenilworth—yes, and the blind Lady you are soon going to see in Ireland {19a}—and two or three more in England beside—yes, and old England itself, 'with all her faults.'

By the by:—Some while ago {19b} Carlyle sent me a Letter from an American gentleman named Norton (once of the N. American Review, C. says, and a most amiable, intelligent Gentleman)—whose Letter enclosed one from Ruskin, which had been entrusted to another American Gentleman named Burne Jones—who kept it in a Desk ten years, and at last forwarded it as aforesaid—to me! The Note (of Ruskin's) is about one of the Persian Translations: almost childish, as that Man of Genius is apt to be in his Likes as well as Dislikes. I dare say he has forgotten all about Translator and Original long before this. I wrote to thank Mr. Norton for

(Letter unfinished.)




It is scarce fair to assail you on your return to England with another Letter so close on that to which you have only just answered—you who will answer! I wish you would consider this Letter of mine an Answer (as it really is) to that last of yours; and before long I will write again and call on you then for a Reply.

What inspires me now is, that, about the time you were writing to me about Burns and Beranger, I was thinking of them 'which was the Greater Genius?'—I can't say; but, with all my Admiration for about a Score of the Frenchman's almost perfect Songs, I would give all of them up for a Score of Burns' Couplets, Stanzas, or single Lines scattered among those quite imperfect Lyrics of his. Beranger, no doubt, was The Artist; which still is not the highest Genius—witness Shakespeare, Dante, AEschylus, Calderon, to the contrary. Burns assuredly had more Passion than the Frenchman; which is not Genius either, but a great Part of the Lyric Poet still. What Beranger might have been, if born and bred among Banks, Braes, and Mountains, I cannot tell: Burns had that advantage over him. And then the Highland Mary to love, amid the heather, as compared to Lise the Grisette in a Parisian Suburb! Some of the old French Virelays and Vaux-de-vire come much nearer the Wild Notes of Burns, and go to one's heart like his; Beranger never gets so far as that, I think. One knows he will come round to his pretty refrain with perfect grace; if he were more Inspired he couldn't.

'My Love is like the red, red, Rose That's newly sprung in June, My Love is like the Melody That's sweetly play'd in tune.'

and he will love his Love,

'Till a' the Seas gang Dry'

Yes—Till a' the Seas gang dry, my Dear. And then comes some weaker stuff about Rocks melting in the Sun. All Imperfect; but that red, red Rose has burned itself into one's silly Soul in spite of all. Do you know that one of Burns' few almost perfect stanzas was perfect till he added two Syllables to each alternate Line to fit it to the lovely Music which almost excuses such a dilution of the Verse?

'Ye Banks and Braes o' bonnie Doon, How can ye bloom (so fresh) so fair? Ye little Birds how can ye sing, And I so (weary) full of care! Thou'lt break my heart, thou little Bird, That sings (singest so) upon the Thorn: Thou minds me of departed days That never shall return (Departed never to) return.'

Now I shall tell you two things which my last Quotation has recalled to me.

Some thirty years ago A. Tennyson went over Burns' Ground in Dumfries. When he was one day by Doon-side—'I can't tell how it was, Fitz, but I fell into a Passion of Tears'—And A. T. not given to the melting mood at all.

No. 2. My friend old Childs of the romantic town of Bungay (if you can believe in it!) told me that one day he started outside the Coach in company with a poor Woman who had just lost Husband or Child. She talked of her Loss and Sorrow with some Resignation; till the Coach happened to pull up by a roadside Inn. A 'little Bird' was singing somewhere; the poor Woman then broke into Tears, and said—'I could bear anything but that.' I dare say she had never even heard of Burns: but he had heard the little Bird that he knew would go to all Hearts in Sorrow.

Beranger's Morals are Virtue as compared to what have followed him in France. Yet I am afraid he partly led the way. Burns' very Passion half excused him; so far from its being Refinement which Burke thought deprived Vice of half its Mischief!

Here is a Sermon for you, you see, which you did not compound for: nor I neither when I began my Letter. But I think I have told you the two Stories aforesaid which will almost deprive my sermon of half its Dulness. And I am now going to transcribe you a Vau-de-vire of old Olivier de Basselin, {23a} which will show you something of that which I miss in Beranger. But I think I had better write it on a separate Paper. Till which, what think you of these lines of Clement Marot on the Death of some French Princess who desired to be buried among the Poor? {23b}

[P.S.—These also must go on the Fly-leaf: being too long, Alexandrine, for these Pages.]

What a Letter! But if you are still at your Vicarage, you can read it in the Intervals of Church. I was surprised at your coming so early from Italy: the famous Holy Week there is now, I suppose, somewhat shorn of its Glory.—If you were not so sincere I should think you were persiflaging me about the Photo, as applied to myself, and yourself. Some years ago I said—and now say—I wanted one of you; and if this letter were not so long, would tell you a little how to sit. Which you would not attend to; but I should be all the same, your long-winded

Friend E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE, May 1, [1873.]


I am very glad that you will be Photographed: though not by the Ipswich Man who did me, there are no doubt many much better in London.

Of course the whole Figure is best, if it can be artistically arranged. But certainly the safe plan is to venture as little as possible when an Artist's hand cannot harmonize the Lines and the Lights, as in a Picture. And as the Face is the Chief Object, I say the safest thing is to sit for the Face, neck, and Shoulders only. By this, one not only avoids any conflict about Arms and Hands (which generally disturb the Photo), but also the Lines and Lights of Chair, Table, etc.

For the same reason, I vote for nothing but a plain Background, like a Curtain, or sober-coloured Wall.

I think also that there should be no White in the Dress, which is apt to be too positive for the Face. Nothing nearer White than such material as (I think) Brussels Lace (?) of a yellowish or even dirty hue; of which there may be a Fringe between Dress and Skin. I have advised Men Friends to sit in a—dirty Shirt!

I think a three-quarter face is better that a Full; for one reason, that I think the Sitter feels more at ease looking somewhat away, rather than direct at the luminous Machine. This will suit you, who have a finely turned Head, which is finely placed on Neck and Shoulders. But, as your Eyes are fine also, don't let them be turned too much aside, nor at all downcast: but simply looking as to a Door or Window a little on one side.

Lastly (!) I advise sitting in a lightly clouded Day; not in a bright Sunlight at all.

You will think that I am preaching my own Photo to you. And it is true that, though I did not sit with any one of these rules in my head; but just as I got out of a Cab, etc., yet the success of the Thing made me consider afterward why it succeeded; and I have now read you my Lecture on the Subject. Pray do not forgo your Intention—nay, your Promise, as I regard it—to sit, and send me the result. {25}

Here has been a bevy of Letters, and long ones, from me, you see. I don't know if it is reasonable that one should feel it so much easier to write to a Friend in England than to the same Friend abroad; but so it is, with me at least. I suppose that a Letter directed to Stoneleigh will find you before you leave—for America!—and even after that. But I shall not feel the same confidence and ease in transcribing for you pretty Norman Songs, or gossiping about them as I have done when my Letters were only to travel to Kenilworth: which very place—which very name of a Place—makes the English world akin. I suppose you have been at Stratford before this—an event in one's Life. It was not the Town itself—or even the Church—that touched me most: but the old Footpaths over the Fields which He must have crossed three Centuries ago.

Spedding tells me he is nearing Land with his Bacon. And one begins to think Macready a Great Man amid the Dwarfs that now occupy his Place.

Ever yours sincerely

E. F.G.


September 18/73.


I have not forgotten you at all, all these months—What a Consolation to you! But I felt I had nothing to send among the Alps after you: I have been nowhere but for two Days to the Field of Naseby in Northamptonshire, where I went to identify the spot where I dug up the Dead for Carlyle thirty years ago. I went; saw; made sure; and now—the Trustees of the Estate won't let us put up the Memorial stone we proposed to put up; they approve (we hear) neither of the Stone, nor the Inscription; both as plain and innocent as a Milestone, says Carlyle, and indeed much of the same Nature. This Decision of the foolish Trustees I only had some ten days ago: posted it to Carlyle who answered from Dumfries; and his Answer shows that he is in full vigour, though (as ever since I have known him) he protests that Travelling has utterly discomfited him, and he will move no more. But it is very silly of these Trustees. {28a}

And, as I have been nowhere, I have seen no one; nor read anything but the Tichborne Trial, and some of my old Books—among them Walpole, Wesley, and Johnson (Boswell, I mean), three very different men whose Lives extend over the same times, and whose diverse ways of looking at the world they lived in make a curious study. I wish some one would write a good Paper on this subject; I don't mean to hint that I am the man; on the contrary, I couldn't at all; but I could supply some [one] else with some material that he would not care to hunt up in the Books perhaps.

Well: all this being all, I had no heart to write—to the Alps! And now I remember well you told me you [were] coming back to England—for a little while—a little while—and then to the New World for ever—which I don't believe! {28b} Oh no! you will come back in spite of yourself, depend upon it—and yet I doubt that my saying so will be one little reason why you will not! But do let me hear of you first: and believe me ever yours

E. F.G.




You must attribute this third Letter to an 'Idee' that has come into my head relating to those Memoirs of yourself which you say you are at some loss to dispose of. I can easily understand that your Children, born and bred (I think) in another World, would not take so much interest in them as some of your old Friends who make part of your Recollections: as you yourself occupy much of theirs. But then they are old Friends; and are not their Children, Executors and Assigns, as little to be depended on as your own Kith and Kin? Well; I bethink me of one of your old Friends' Children whom I could reckon upon for you, as I would for myself: Mowbray Donne: the Son of one who you know loves you of old, and inheriting all his Father's Loyalty to his Father's Friends. I am quite convinced that he is to be perfectly depended upon in all respects for this purpose; for his Love, his Honour, and his Intelligence. I should then make him one day read the Memoirs to me—for I can't be assured of my own Eyes interpreting your MS. without so much difficulty as would disturb one's Enjoyment, or Appreciation, of such a Memoir. Unless indeed you should one day come down yourself to my Chateau in dull Woodbridge, and there read it over, and talk it over.

Well; this is what I seriously advise, always supposing that you have decided not to print and publish the Memoir during your Life. No doubt you could make money of it, beside 'bolting up' {30} such Accident as the Future comprehends. The latter would, I know, be the only recommendation to you.

I don't think you will do at all as I advise you. But I nevertheless advise you as I should myself in case I had such a Record as you have to leave behind me.—

Now once more for French Songs. When I was in Paris in 1830, just before that Revolution, I stopped one Evening on the Boulevards by the Madeleine to listen to a Man who was singing to his Barrel-organ. Several passing 'Blouses' had stopped also: not only to listen, but to join in the Songs, having bought little 'Libretti' of the words from the Musician. I bought one too; for, I suppose, the smallest French Coin; and assisted in the Song which the Man called out beforehand (as they do Hymns at Church), and of which I enclose you the poor little Copy. 'Le Bon Pasteur, s'il vous plait'—I suppose the Circumstances: the 'beau temps,' the pleasant Boulevards, the then so amiable People, all contributed to the effect this Song had upon me; anyhow, it has constantly revisited my memory for these forty-three years; and I was thinking, the other day, touched me more than any of Beranger's most beautiful Things. This, however, may be only one of 'Old Fitz's' Crotchets, as Tennyson and others would call them. {31}

I have been trying again at another Great Artist's work which I never could care for at all, Goethe's Faust, in Hayward's Prose Translation; Eighth Edition. Hayward quotes from Goethe himself, that, though of course much of a Poem must evaporate in a Prose Translation, yet the Essence must remain. Well; I distinguish as little of that Essential Poetry in the Faust now as when I first read it—longer ago than 'Le Bon Pasteur,' and in other subsequent Attempts. I was tempted to think this was some Defect—great Defect—in myself: but a Note at the end of the Volume informs me that a much greater Wit than I was in the same plight—even Coleridge; who admires the perfect German Diction, the Songs, Choruses, etc. (which are such parts as cannot be translated into Prose); he also praises Margaret and Mephistopheles; but thinks Faust himself dull, and great part of the Drama flat and tiresome; and the whole Thing not a self-evolving Whole, but an unconnected Series of Scenes: all which are parts that can be judged of from Translation, by Goethe's own Authority. I find a great want of Invention and Imagination both in the Events and Characters.

Gervinus' Theory of Hamlet is very staking. Perhaps Shakespeare himself would have admitted, without ever having expressly designed, it. I always said with regard to the Explanation of Hamlet's Madness or Sanity, that Shakespeare himself might not have known the Truth any more than we understand the seeming Discords we see in People we know best. Shakespeare intuitively imagined, and portrayed, the Man without being able to give a reason—perhaps—I believe in Genius doing this: and remain your Inexhaustible Correspondent

E. F.G.

Excuse this very bad writing, which I have gone over 'with the pen of Correction,' and would have wholly re-written if my Eyes were not be-glared with the Sun on the River. You need only read the first part about Donne.




Had you but written your Dublin Address in full, I should have caught you before you left. As you did not, I follow your Directions, and enclose to Coutts.

You see which of the three Photos I prefer—and very much prefer—by the two which I return: I am very much obliged to you indeed for taking all the Trouble; and the Photo I have retained is very satisfactory to me in every respect: as I believe you will find it to be to such other Friends as you would give a Copy to. I can fancy that this Photo is a fair one; I mean, a fair Likeness: one of the full Faces was nearly as good to me, but for the darkness of the Lips—that common default in these things—but the other dark Fullface is very unfair indeed. You must give Copies to dear old Donne, and to one or two others, and I should like to hear from you [before you] leave England which they prefer.

It was indeed so unlike your obstinate habit of Reply—this last exception—that I thought you must be ill; and I was really thinking of writing to Mr. Leigh to ask about you—I have been ailing myself with some form of Rheumatism—whether Lumbago, Sciatica, or what not—which has made my rising up and sitting down especially uncomfortable; Country Doctor quite incompetent, etc. But the Heavenly Doctor, Phoebus, seems more efficient—especially now he has brought the Wind out of N.E.

I had meant to send you the Air of the Bon Pasteur when I sent the words: I never heard it but that once, but I find that the version you send me is almost identical with my Recollection of it. There is little merit in the Tune, except the pleasant resort to the Major at the two last Verses. I can now hear the Organist's burr at the closing 'Benira.'

I happened the other day on some poor little Verses {34a} which poor Haydon found of his poor Wife's writing in the midst of the Distress from which he extricated himself so suddenly. And I felt how these poor Verses touched me far more than any of Beranger's—though scarcely more than many of Burns'. I know that the Story which they involve appeals more to one's heart than the Frenchman does; but I am also sure that his perfect Art injures, and not assists, the utterance of Nature. I transcribe these poor Verses for you, as you may not have the Book at hand, and yet I think you will thank me for recalling them to you. I find them in a MS. Book I have which I call 'Half Hours with the Worst Authors,' {34b} and if People would believe that I know what is good for them in these matters, the Book would make a very good one for the Public. But if People don't see as I do by themselves, they wouldn't any the more for my telling them, not having any Name to bid their Attention. So my Bad Authors must be left to my Heirs and Assigns; as your Good Memoirs!

On second Thoughts, I shall (in spite of your Directions) keep two of the Photos: returning you only the hateful dark one. That is, I shall keep the twain, unless you desire me to return you one of them. Anyhow, do write to me before you go quite away, and believe me always yours

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: Novr. 18/73.


I should have written to you before, but that I was waiting for some account, for better or worse, of our friend Donne; who has been seriously ill this Fortnight and more. I don't know what his original Ailment was, unless a Cold; but the Effect has been to leave him so weak, that even now the Doctor fears for any Relapse which he might not be strong enough to bear. He had been for a Visit to friends in the West of England: and became ill directly he returned to London. You may think it odd I don't know what was his Illness; but Mowbray, who has told me all I know, did not tell me that: and so I did not ask, as I could do no good by knowing. Perhaps it is simply a Decay, or Collapse, of Body, or Nerves—or even Mind:—a Catastrophe which I never thought unlikely with Donne, who has toiled and suffered so much, for others rather than for himself; and keeping all his Suffering to himself. He wrote me a letter about himself a week ago; cheerful, and telling me of Books he read: so as no one would guess he was so ill; but a Letter from Mowbray by the same Post told me he was still in a precarious Condition. I had wished to tell you that he was better, if not well: but I may wait some time for that: and so I will write now:—with the Promise that I will write again directly there is anything else to tell.

Here my Reader comes to give me an Instalment of Tichborne: so I shall shut up, perhaps till To-morrow.

The Lord Chief Justice and Co. have just decided to adjourn the Trial for ten Days, till Witnesses arrive from your side of the Atlantic. My Reader has just adjourned to some Cake and Porter—I tell him not to hurry—while I go on with this Letter. To tell you that, I might almost have well adjourned writing 'sine die' (can you construe?), for I don't think I have more to tell you now. Only that I am reading—Crabbe! And I want you to tell me if he is read on that side of the Atlantic from which we are expecting Tichborne Witnesses.

(Reader finishes Cake and Porter: and we now adjourn to 'All the Year Round.')

10 p.m. 'All the Year Round' read—part of it—and Reader departed.

Pray do tell me if any one reads Crabbe in America; nobody does here, you know, but myself; who bore about it. Does Mrs. Wister, who reads many things? Does Mrs. Kemble, now she has the Atlantic between her and the old Country?

'Over the Forth I look to the North, But what is the North and its Hielands to me? The North and the East gie small ease to my breast, The far foreign land and the wide rolling Sea.' {37}

I think that last line will bring the Tears into Mrs. Kemble's Eyes—which I can't find in the Photograph she sent me. Yet they are not extinguisht, surely?

I read in some Athenaeum that A. Tennyson was changing his Publisher again: and some one told me that it was in consequence of the resigning Publisher having lost money by his contract with the Poet; which was, to pay him 1000 pounds per Quarter for the exclusive sale of his Poems. It was a Woodbridge Literati who told me this, having read it in a Paper called 'The Publisher.' More I know not.

A little more such stuff I might write: but I think here is enough of it. For this Night, anyhow: so I shall lick the Ink from my Pen; and smoke one Pipe, not forgetting you while I do so; and if nothing turns up To- morrow, here is my Letter done, and I remaining yours always sincerely

E. F.G.


WOODBRIDGE: Nov. 24, [1873].


A note from Mowbray to-day says 'I think I can report the Father really on the road to recovery.'

So, as I think you will be as glad to know this as I am, I write again over the Atlantic. And, after all, you mayn't be over the Atlantic, but in London itself! Donne would have told me: but I don't like to trouble him with Questions, or writing of any sort. If you be in London, you will hear somehow of all this matter: if in America, my Letter won't go in vain.

Mowbray wrote me some while ago of the Death of your Sister's Son in the Hunting-field. {38} Mowbray said, aged thirty, I think: I had no idea, so old: born when I was with Thackeray in Coram Street—(Jorum Street, he called it) where I remember Mrs. Sartoris coming in her Brougham to bid him to Dinner, 1843.

I wrote to Annie Thackeray yesterday: politely telling her I couldn't relish her Old Kensington a quarter as much as her Village on the Cliff: which, however, I doat on. I still purpose to read Miss Evans: but my Instincts are against her—I mean, her Books.

What have you done with your Memoirs? Pollock is about to edit Macready's. And Chorley—have you read him? I shall devour him in time—that is, when Mudie will let me.

I wonder if there are Water-cresses in America, as there are on my tea- table while I write?

What do you think of these two lines which Crabbe didn't print?

'The shapeless purpose of a Soul that feels, And half suppresses Wrath, {39} and half reveals.'

My little bit of Good News about our Friend is the only reason and Apology for this Letter from

Yours ever and always E. F.G.


LOWESTOFT: Febr. 10/74.


A Letter to be written to you from the room I have written to you before in: but my Letter must wait till I return to Woodbridge, where your Address is on record. I have thought several times of writing to you since this Year began; but I have been in a muddle—leaving my old Markethill Lodgings, and vacillating between my own rather lonely Chateau, and this Place, where some Nieces are. I had wished to tell you what I know of our dear Donne: who Mowbray says gets on still. I suppose he will never be so strong again. Laurence wrote me that he had met him in the Streets, looking thinner (!) with (as it were) keener Eyes. That is a Portrait Painter's observation: probably a just one. Laurence has been painting for me a Copy of Pickersgill's Portrait of Crabbe—but I am afraid has made some muddle of it, according to his wont. I asked for a Sketch: he will elaborate—and spoil. Instead of copying the Colours he sees and could simply match on his Palette, he will puzzle himself as to whether the Eyebrows were once sandy, though now gray; and wants to compare Pickersgill's Portrait with Phillips'—which I particularly wished to be left out of account. Laurence is a dear little fellow—a Gentleman—Spedding said, 'made of Nature's very finest Clay.' {40} So he is: but the most obstinate little man—'incorrigible,' Richmond called him; and so he wearies out those who wish most to serve and employ him; and so has spoiled his own Fortune.

Do you read in America of Holman Hunt's famous new Picture of 'The Shadow of Death,' which he has been some seven Years painting—in Jerusalem, and now exhibits under theatrical Lights and accompaniments? This does not induce me to believe in H. Hunt more than heretofore: which is—not at all. Raffaelle, Mozart, Shakespeare, did not take all that time about a work, nor brought it forth to the world with so much Pomp and Circumstance.

Do you know Sainte Beuve's Causeries? I think one of the most delightful Books—a Volume of which I brought here, and makes me now write of it to you. It is a Book worth having—worth buying—for you can read it more than once, and twice. And I have taken up Don Quixote again: more Evergreen still; in Spanish, as it must be read, I doubt.

Here is a Sheet of Paper already filled, with matters very little worthy of sending over the Atlantic. But you will be glad of the Donne news, at any rate. Do tell me ever so little of yourself in return.

Now my Eyes have had enough of this vile steel pen; and so have yours, I should think: and I will mix a Glass of poor Sherry and Water, and fill a Pipe, and think of you while I smoke it. Think of me sometimes as

Yours always sincerely, E. F.G.

P.S. I shall venture this Letter with no further Address than I remember now.




My Castle Clock has gone 9 p.m., and I myself am but half an hour home from a Day to Lowestoft. Why I should begin a Letter to you under these circumstances I scarce know. However, I have long been intending to write: nay, actually did write half a Letter which I mislaid. What I wanted to tell you was—and is—that Donne is going on very well: Mowbray thinks he may be pronounced 'recovered.' You may have heard about him from some other hand before this: I know you will be glad to hear it at any time, from any quarter.

This my Castle had been named by me 'Grange Farm,' being formerly a dependency of a more considerable Chateau on the hill above. But a fine tall Woman, who has been staying two days, ordered me to call it 'Little Grange.' So it must be. She came to meet a little Niece of mine: both Annies: one tall as the other is short: both capital in Head and Heart: I knew they would fadge well: so they did: so we all did, waiting on ourselves and on one another. Odd that I have another tip-top Annie on my small list of Acquaintances—Annie Thackeray.

I wonder what Spring is like in America. We have had an April of really 'magnifique' Weather: but here is that vixen May with its N.E. airs. A Nightingale however sings so close to my Bedroom that (the window being open) the Song is almost too loud.

I thought you would come back to Nightingale-land!

Donne is better: and Spedding has at last (I hear) got his load of Bacon off his Shoulders, after carrying it for near Forty years! Forty years long! A fortnight ago there was such a delicious bit of his in Notes and Queries, {42} a Comment on some American Comment on a passage in Antony and Cleopatra, that I recalled my old Sorrow that he had not edited Shakespeare long ago instead of wasting Life in washing his Blackamoor. Perhaps there is time for this yet: but is there the Will?

Pray, Madam, how do you emphasize the line—

'After Life's fitful Fever he sleeps well,'

which, by the by, one wonders never to have seen in some Churchyard? What do you think of this for an Epitaph—from Crabbe?—

'Friend of the Poor—the Wretched—the Betray'd, They cannot pay thee—but thou shalt be paid.' {43}

This is a poor Letter indeed to make you answer—as answer you will—I really only intended to tell you of Donne; and remain ever yours

E. F.G.

Pollock is busy editing Macready's Papers.


LOWESTOFT: June 2/74.


Many a time have I written to you from this place: which may be the reason why I write again now—the very day your Letter reaches me—for I don't know that I have much to say, nor anything worth forcing from you the Answer that you will write. Let me look at your Letter again. Yes: so I thought of 'he sleeps well,' and yet I do not remember to have heard it so read. (I never heard you read the Play) I don't think Macready read it so. I liked his Macbeth, I must say: only he would say 'Amen st-u-u-u-ck in his throat,' which was not only a blunder, but a vulgar blunder, I think.

Spedding—I should think indeed it was too late for him to edit Shakespeare, if he had not gone on doing so, as it were, all his Life. Perhaps it is too late for him to remember half, or a quarter, of his own Observations. Well then: I wish he would record what he does remember: if not an Edition of Shakespeare yet so many Notes toward an Edition. I am persuaded that no one is more competent. {45a}

You see your Americans will go too far. It was some American Professor's Note {45b} on 'the Autumn of his Bounty' which occasioned Spedding's delightful Comment some while ago, and made me remember my old wish that he should do the thing. But he will not: especially if one asks him.

Donne—Archdeacon Groome told me a Fortnight ago that he had been at Weymouth Street. Donne better, but still not his former Self.

By the by, I have got a Skeleton of my own at last: Bronchitis—which came on me a month ago—which I let go on for near three weeks—then was forced to call in a Doctor to subdue, who kept me a week indoors. And now I am told that, every Cold I catch, my Skeleton is to come out, etc. Every N.E. wind that blows, etc. I had not been shut up indoors for some fifty-five years—since Measles at school—but I had green before my Windows, and Don Quixote for Company within. Que voulez-vous?

Shakespeare again. A Doctor Whalley, who wrote a Tragedy for Mrs. Siddons (which she declined), proposed to her that she should read—'But screw your Courage to the sticking place,' with the appropriate action of using the Dagger. I think Mrs. Siddons good-naturedly admits there may be something in the suggestion. One reads this in the last memoir of Madame Piozzi, edited by Mr. Hayward.

Blackbird v. Nightingale. I have always loved the first best: as being so jolly, and the Note so proper from that golden Bill of his. But one does not like to go against received opinion. Your Oriole has been seen in these parts by old—very old—people: at least, a gay bird so named. But no one ever pretends to see him now.

Now have you perversely crossed the Address which you desire me to abide by: and I can't be sure of your 'Branchtown'? But I suppose that enough is clear to make my Letter reach you if it once gets across the Atlantic. And now this uncertainty about your writing recalls to me—very absurdly—an absurd Story told me by a pious, but humorous, man, which will please you if you don't know it already.

Scene.—Country Church on Winter's Evening. Congregation, with the Old Hundredth ready for the Parson to give out some Dismissal Words.

Good old Parson, not at all meaning rhyme, 'The Light has grown so very dim, I scarce can see to read the Hymn.'

Congregation, taking it up: to the first half of the Old Hundredth—

'The Light has grown so very dim, I scarce can see to read the Hymn.'

(Pause, as usual: Parson, mildly impatient) 'I did not mean to read a Hymn; I only meant my Eyes were dim.'

Congregation, to second part of Old Hundredth:—

'I did not mean to read a Hymn; I only meant my Eyes were dim.'

Parson, out of Patience, etc.:—

'I didn't mean a Hymn at all,— I think the Devil's in you all.'

I say, if you don't know this, it is worth your knowing, and making known over the whole Continent of America, North and South. And I am your trusty and affectionate old Beadsman (left rather deaf with that blessed Bronchitis)

E. F.G.




I must write to you—for I have seen Donne, and can tell you that he looks and seems much better than I had expected, though I had been told to expect well: he was upright, well coloured, animated; I should say (sotto voce) better than he seemed to me two years ago. And this in spite of the new Lord Chamberlain {48a} having ousted him from his Theatrical post, wanting a younger and more active man to go and see the Plays, as well as read them. I do not think this unjust; I was told by Pollock that the dismissal was rather abrupt: but Donne did not complain of it. When does he complain? He will now, however, leave Weymouth Street, and inhabit some less costly house—not wanting indeed so large [a] one for his present household. He is shortly going with his Daughters to join the Blakesleys at Whitby. Mowbray was going off for his Holiday to Cornwall: I just heard him speaking of Freddy's present Address to his father: Blanche was much stronger, from the treatment of a Dr. Beard {48b} (I think). I was quite moved by her warm salutation when I met her, after some fifteen years' absence. All this I report from a Visit I made to Donne's own house in London. A thing I scarce ever thought to do again, you may know: but I could not bear to be close to him in London for two days without assuring myself with my own Eyes how he looked. I think I observed a slight hesitation of memory: but certainly not so much as I find in myself, nor, I suppose, unusual in one's Contemporaries. My visit to London followed a visit to Edinburgh: which I have intended these thirty years, only for the purpose of seeing my dear Sir Walter's House and Home: and which I am glad to have seen, as that of Shakespeare. I had expected to find a rather Cockney Castle: but no such thing: all substantially and proportionably built, according to the Style of the Country: the Grounds well and simply laid out: the woods he planted well-grown, and that dear Tweed running and murmuring still—as on the day of his Death. {49a} I did not so much care for Melrose, and Jedburgh, {49b} though his Tomb is there—in one of the half-ruined corners. Another day I went to Trossachs, Katrine, Lomond, etc., which (as I expected) seemed much better to me in Pictures and Drop-scenes. I was but three days in Scotland, and was glad to get back to my own dull flat country, though I did worship the Pentland, Cheviot, and Eildon, Hills, more for their Associations than themselves. They are not big enough for that.

I saw little in London: the Academy Pictures even below the average, I thought: only a Picture by Millais of an old Sea Captain {49c} being read to by his Daughter which moistened my Eyes. I thought she was reading him the Bible, which he seemed half listening to, half rambling over his past Life: but I am told (I had no Catalogue) that she was reading about the North West Passage. There were three deep of Bonnets before Miss Thompson's famous Roll Call of the Guards in the Crimea; so I did not wait till they fell away. {50a}

Yours always

E. F.G.


LOWESTOFT: Aug. 24, [1874.]


Your letter reached me this morning: and you see I lose no time in telling you that, as I hear from Pollock, Donne is allowed 350 pounds a year retiring Pension. So I think neither he nor his friends have any reason to complain. His successor in the office is named (I think) 'Piggott' {50b}—Pollock thinks a good choice. Lord Hertford brought the old and the new Examiners together to Dinner: and all went off well. Perhaps Donne himself may have told you all this before now. He was to be, about this time, with the Blakesleys at Whitby or Filey. I have not heard any of these particulars from himself: nothing indeed since I saw him in London.

Pollock was puzzled by an entry in Macready's Journal—1831 or 1832—'Received Thackeray's Tragedy' with some such name as 'Retribution.' I told Pollock I was sure it was not W. M. T., who (especially at that time) had more turn to burlesque than real Tragedy: and sure that he would have told me of it then, whether accepted or rejected—as rejected it was. Pollock thought for some while that, in spite of the comic Appearance we keep up, we should each of us rise up from the Grave with a MS. Tragedy in our hands, etc. However, he has become assured it was some other Thackeray: I suppose one mentioned by Planche as a Dramatic Dilettante—of the same Family, I think, as W. M. T.

Spedding has sent me the concluding Volume of his Bacon: the final summing up simple, noble, deeply pathetic—rather on Spedding's own Account than his Hero's, for whose Vindication so little has been done by the sacrifice of forty years of such a Life as Spedding's. Positively, nearly all the new matter which S. has produced makes against, rather than for, Bacon: and I do think the case would have stood better if Spedding had only argued from the old materials, and summed up his Vindication in one small Volume some thirty-five years ago.

I have been sunning myself in Dickens—even in his later and very inferior 'Mutual Friend,' and 'Great Expectations'—Very inferior to his best: but with things better than any one else's best, caricature as they may be. I really must go and worship at Gadshill, as I have worshipped at Abbotsford, though with less Reverence, to be sure. But I must look on Dickens as a mighty Benefactor to Mankind. {52}

This is shamefully bad writing of mine—very bad manners, to put any one—especially a Lady—to the trouble and pain of deciphering. I hope all about Donne is legible, for you will be glad of it. It is Lodging- house Pens and Ink that is partly to blame for this scrawl. Now, don't answer till I write you something better: but believe me ever and always yours

E. F.G.


LOWESTOFT: October 4/74.


Do, pray, write your Macready (Thackeray used to say 'Megreedy') Story to Pollock: Sir F. 59 Montagu Square. I rather think he was to be going to Press with his Megreedy about this time: but you may be sure he will deal with whatever you may confide to him discreetly and reverently. It is 'Miladi' P. who worshipped Macready: and I think I never recovered what Esteem I had with her when I told her I could not look on him as a 'Great' Actor at all. I see in Planche's Memoirs that when your Father prophesied great things of him to your Uncle J. P. K., the latter said, 'Con quello viso?' which 'viso' did very well however in parts not positively heroic. But one can't think of him along with Kean, who was heroic in spite of undersize. How he swelled up in Othello! I remember thinking he looked almost as tall as your Father when he came to Silence that dreadful Bell.

I think you agree with me about Kean: remembering your really capital Paper—in Macmillan {53a}—about Dramatic and Theatric. I often look to that Paper, which is bound up with some Essays by other Friends—Spedding among them—no bad Company. I was thinking of your Pasta story of 'feeling' the Antique, etc., {53b} when reading in my dear Ste. Beuve {53c} of my dear Madame du Deffand asking Madame de Choiseul: 'You know you love me, but do you feel you love me?' 'Quoi? vous m'aimez donc?' she said to her secretary Wiart, when she heard him sobbing as she dictated her last letter to Walpole. {53d}

All which reminds me of one of your friends departed—Chorley—whose Memoirs one now buys from Mudie for 2s. 6d. or so. And well—well—worth to those who recollect him. I only knew him by Face—and Voice—at your Father's, and your Sister's: and used to think what a little waspish Dilettante it was: and now I see he was something very much better indeed: and I only hope I may have Courage to face my Death as he had. Dickens loved him, who did not love Humbugs: and Chorley would have two strips of Gadshill Yew {54} put with him in his Coffin. Which again reminds me that—a propos of your comments on Dickens' crimson waistcoat, etc., Thackeray told me thirty years ago, that Dickens did it, not from any idea of Cockney fashion: but from a veritable passion for Colours—which I can well sympathize with, though I should not exhibit them on my own Person—for very good reasons. Which again reminds me of what you write about my abiding the sight of you in case you return to England next year. Oh, my dear Mrs. Kemble, you must know how wrong all that is—tout au contraire, in fact. Tell me a word about Chorley when next you write: you said once that Mendelssohn laughed at him: then, he ought not. How well I remember his strumming away at some Waltz in Harley or Wimpole's endless Street, while your Sister and a few other Guests went round. I thought then he looked at one as if thinking 'Do you think me then—a poor, red-headed Amateur, as Rogers does?' That old Beast! I don't scruple to say so.

I am positively looking over my everlasting Crabbe again: he naturally comes in about the Fall of the Year. Do you remember his wonderful 'October Day'? {55}

'Before the Autumn closed, When Nature, ere her Winter Wars, reposed When from our Garden, as we looked above, No Cloud was seen; and nothing seem'd to move; When the wide River was a Silver Sheet, And upon Ocean slept the unanchor'd fleet: When the wing'd Insect settled in our Sight, And waited Wind to recommence her flight.'

And then, the Lady who believes her young Lover dead, and has vowed eternal Celibacy, sees him advancing, a portly, well to do, middle aged man: and swears she won't have him: and does have him, etc.

Which reminds me that I want you to tell me if people in America read Crabbe.

Farewell, dear Mrs. Kemble, for the present: always yours

E. F.G.

Have you the Robin in America? One is singing in the little bit Garden before me now.




It is very good of Mrs. Kemble to wish to tell me a story about Macready, and I shall be glad to know it.

Only—she should know that I am not writing his life—but editing his autobiographical reminiscences and diaries—and unless the anecdote could be introduced to explain or illustrate these, it would not be serviceable for my present purpose.

But for its own sake and for Macready's I should like to be made acquainted with it.

I am making rapid way with the printing—in fact have got to the end of what will be Vol. I. in slip—so that I hope the work may be out by or soon after Christmas, if the engravings are also ready by that time.

It will be, I am sure, most interesting—and will surprise a great many people who did not at all know what Macready really was.

You last heard of me at Clovelly—where we spent a delightful month—more rain than was pleasant—but on the whole charming. I think I told you that Annie Thackeray was there for a night—and that we bound her over not to make the reading public too well acquainted with the place, which would not be good for it.

Since then—a fortnight at St. Julians—and the same time at Tunbridge Wells—I coming up to town three times a week—

Noctes atque dies patet atri janua Ditis, {56}

and as there are other points of resemblance—so it is natural that the Gates of Justice should be open even during the Vacation—just a little ajar—with somebody to look after it, which somebody it has been my lot to be this year.

T. Wells was very pleasant—I like the old-fashioned place—and can always people the Pantiles (they call it the Parade now) with Dr. Johnson and the Duchess of Kingston, and the Bishop of Salisbury and the foreign baron, and the rest. {57a}

Miladi and Walter are at Paris for a few days. I am keeping house with Maurice—Yours, W. F. Pk.

We have J. S.'s {57b} seventh volume—and I am going to read it—but do not know where he is himself. I have not seen the 'white, round object—which is the head of him' for some time past—not since—July.—


WOODBRIDGE: Novr. 17/74.


Your Letter about Megreedy, as Thackeray used to call him, is very interesting: I mean as connected with your Father also. Megreedy, with all his flat face, managed to look well as Virginius, didn't he? And, as I thought, well enough in Macbeth, except where he would stand with his mouth open (after the Witches had hailed him), till I longed to pitch something into it out of the Pit, the dear old Pit. How came he to play Henry IV. instead of your Father, in some Play I remember at C. G., though I did not see it? How well I remember your Father in Falconbridge (Young, K. John) as he looked sideway and upward before the Curtain fell on his Speech.

Then his Petruchio: I remember his looking up, as the curtain fell at the end, to where he knew that Henry had taken me—some very upper Box. And I remember too his standing with his Hunting spear, looking with pleasure at pretty Miss Foote as Rosalind. He played well what was natural to him: the gallant easy Gentleman—I thought his Charles Surface rather cumbrous: but he was no longer young.

Mrs. Wister quite mistook the aim of my Query about Crabbe: I asked if he were read in America for the very reason that he is not read in England. And in the October Cornhill is an Article upon him (I hope not by Leslie Stephen), so ignorant and self-sufficient that I am more wroth than ever. The old Story of 'Pope in worsted stockings'—why I could cite whole Paragraphs of as fine texture as Moliere—incapable of Epigram, the Jackanapes says of 'our excellent Crabbe'—why I could find fifty of the very best Epigrams in five minutes. But now do you care for him? 'Honour bright?' as Sheridan used to say. I don't think I ever knew a Woman who did like C., except my Mother. What makes People (this stupid Reviewer among them) talk of worsted Stockings is because of having read only his earlier works: when he himself talked of his Muse as

'Muse of the Mad, the Foolish, and the Poor,' {59a}

the Borough: Parish Register, etc. But it is his Tales of the Hall which discover him in silk Stockings; the subjects, the Scenery, the Actors, of a more Comedy kind: with, I say, Paragraphs, and Pages, of fine Moliere style—only too often defaced by carelessness, disproportion, and 'longueurs' intolerable. I shall leave my Edition of Tales of the Hall, made legible by the help of Scissors and Gum, with a word or two of Prose to bridge over pages of stupid Verse. I don't wish to try and supersede the Original, but, by the Abstract, to get People to read the whole, and so learn (as in Clarissa) how to get it all under command. I even wish that some one in America would undertake to publish—in whole, or part by part—my 'Readings in Crabbe,' viz., Tales of the Hall: but no one would let me do the one thing I can do.

I think you must repent having encouraged such a terrible Correspondent as myself: you have the remedy in your own hands, you know. I find that the Bronchitis I had in Spring returns upon me now: so I have to give up my Night walks, and stalk up and down my own half-lighted Hall (like Chateaubriand's Father) {59b} till my Reader comes. Ever yours truly

E. F.G.

Novr. 21.

I detained this letter till I heard from Donne, who has been at Worthing, and writes cheerfully.


LOWESTOFT, Febr. 11/75.


Will you please to thank Mr. Furness for the trouble he has taken about Crabbe. The American Publisher is like the English, it appears, and both may be quite right. They certainly are right in not accepting anything except on very good recommendation; and a Man's Fame is the best they can have for that purpose. I should not in the least be vext or even disappointed at any rejection of my Crabbe, but it is not worth further trouble to any party to send across the Atlantic what may, most probably, be returned with thanks and Compliments. And then Mr. Furness would feel bound to ask some other Publisher, and you to write to me about it. No, no! Thank him, if you please: you know I thank you: and then I will let the matter drop.

The Athenaeum told me there was a Paper by Carlyle in the January Fraser—on the old Norway Kings. Then People said it was not his: but his it is, surely enough (though I have no Authority but my own Judgment for saying so), and quite delightful. If missing something of his Prime, missing also all his former 'Sound and Fury,' etc., and as alive as ever. I had thoughts of writing to him on the subject, but have not yet done so. But pray do you read the Papers: there is a continuation in the February Fraser: and 'to be continued' till ended, I suppose.

Your Photograph—Yes—I saw your Mother in it, as I saw her in you when you came to us in Woodbridge in 1852. That is, I saw her such as I had seen her in a little sixpenny Engraving in a 'Cottage Bonnet,' something such as you wore when you stept out of your Chaise at the Crown Inn.

My Mother always said that your Mother was by far the most witty, sensible, and agreeable Woman she knew. I remember one of the very few delightful Dinner parties I ever was at—in St. James' Place—(was it?) a Party of seven or eight, at a round Table, your Mother at the head of the Table, and Mrs. F. Kemble my next Neighbour. And really the (almost) only other pleasant Dinner was one you gave me and the Donnes in Savile Row, before going to see Wigan in 'Still Waters,' which you said was your Play, in so far as you had suggested the Story from some French Novel.

I used to think what a deep current of melancholy was under your Mother's Humour. Not 'under,' neither: for it came up as naturally to the surface as her Humour. My mother always said that one great charm in her was, her Naturalness.

If you read to your Company, pray do you ever read the Scene in the 'Spanish Tragedy' quoted in C. Lamb's Specimens—such a Scene as (not being in Verse, and quite familiar talk) I cannot help reading to my Guests—very few and far between—I mean by 'I,' one who has no gift at all for reading except the feeling of a few things: and I can't help stumbling upon Tears in this. Nobody knows who wrote this one scene: it was thought Ben Jonson, who could no more have written it than I who read it: for what else of his is it like? Whereas, Webster one fancies might have done it. It is not likely that you do not know this wonderful bit: but, if you have it not by heart almost, look for it again at once, and make others do so by reading to them.

The enclosed Note from Mowbray D[onne] was the occasion of my writing thus directly to you. And yet I have spoken 'de omnibus other rebus' first. But I venture to think that your feeling on the subject will be pretty much like my own, and so, no use in talking.

Now, if I could send you part of what I am now packing up for some Woodbridge People—some—some—Saffron Buns!—for which this Place is notable from the first day of Lent till Easter—A little Hamper of these!

Now, my dear Mrs. Kemble, do consider this letter of mine as an Answer to yours—your two—else I shall be really frightened at making you write so often to yours always and sincerely

E. F.G.


LOWESTOFT, March 11/75.


I am really ashamed that you should apologize for asking me a Copy of Calderon, etc. {64a} I had about a hundred Copies of all those things printed when printed: and have not had a hundred friends to give them to—poor Souls!—and am very well pleased to give to any one who likes—especially any Friend of yours. I think however that your reading of them has gone most way to make your Lady ask. But, be that as it may, I will send you a Copy directly I return to my own Chateau, which I mean to do when the Daffodils have taken the winds of March. {64b}

We have had severe weather here: it has killed my Brother Peter (not John, my eldest) who tried to winter at Bournemouth, after having wintered for the last ten years at Cannes. Bronchitis:—which (sotto voce) I have as yet kept Cold from coming to. But one knows one is not 'out of the Wood' yet; May, if not March, being, you know, one of our worst Seasons.

I heard from our dear Donne a week ago; speaking with all his own blind and beautiful Love for his lately lost son; and telling me that he himself keeps his heart going by Brandy. But he speaks of this with no Fear at all. He is going to leave Weymouth Street, but when, or for where, he does not say. He spoke of a Letter he had received from you some while ago.

Now about Crabbe, which also I am vext you should have trouble about. I wrote to you the day after I had your two Letters, with Mr. Furness' enclosed, and said that, seeing the uncertainty of any success in the matter, I really would not bother you or him any more. You know it is but a little thing; which, even if a Publisher tried piece-meal, would very likely be scouted: I only meant 'piece-meal,' by instalments: so as they could be discontinued if not liked. But I suppose I must keep my Work—of paste, and scissors—for the benefit of the poor Friends who have had the benefit of my other Works.

Well: as I say, I wrote and posted my Letter at once, asking you to thank Mr. Furness for me. I think this must be a month ago—perhaps you had my Letter the day after you posted this last of yours, dated February 21. Do not trouble any more about it, pray: read Carlyle's 'Kings of Norway' in Fraser and believe me ever yours

E. F.G.

I will send a little bound Copy of the Plays for yourself, dear Mrs. Kemble, if you will take them; so you can give the Lady those you have:—but, whichever way you like.


LOWESTOFT, March 17/75.


This bit of Letter is written to apprise you that, having to go to Woodbridge three days ago, I sent you by Post a little Volume of the Plays, and (what I had forgotten) a certain little Prose Dialogue {65} done up with them. This is more than you wanted, but so it is. The Dialogue is a pretty thing in some respects: but disfigured by some confounded smart writing in parts: And this is all that needs saying about the whole concern. You must not think necessary to say anything more about it yourself, only that you receive the Book. If you do not, in a month's time, I shall suppose it has somehow lost its way over the Atlantic: and then I will send you the Plays you asked for, stitched together—and those only.

I hope you got my Letter (which you had not got when your last was written) about Crabbe: for I explained in it why I did not wish to trouble you or Mr. Furness any more with such an uncertain business. Anyhow, I must ask you to thank him for the trouble he had already taken, as I hope you know that I thank you also for your share in it.

I scarce found a Crocus out in my Garden at home, and so have come back here till some green leaf shows itself. We are still under the dominion of North East winds, which keep people coughing as well as the Crocus under ground. Well, we hope to earn all the better Spring by all this Cold at its outset.

I have so often spoken of my fear of troubling you by all my Letters, that I won't say more on that score. I have heard no news of Donne since I wrote. I have been trying to read Gil Blas and La Fontaine again; but, as before, do not relish either. {67} I must get back to my Don Quixote by and by.

Yours as ever

E. F.G.

I wonder if this letter will smell of Tobacco: for it is written just after a Pipe, and just before going to bed.


LOWESTOFT: April 9/75.


I wrote you a letter more than a fortnight ago—mislaid it—and now am rather ashamed to receive one from you thanking me beforehand for the mighty Book which I posted you a month ago. I only hope you will not feel bound to acknowledge [it] when it does reach you, I think I said so in the Letter I wrote to go along with it. And I must say no more in the way of deprecating your Letters, after what you write me. Be assured that all my deprecations were for your sake, not mine; but there's an end of them now.

I had a longish letter from Donne himself some while ago; indicating, I thought, some debility of Mind and Body. He said, however, he was going on very well. And a Letter from Mowbray (three or four days old) speaks of his Father as 'remarkably well.' But these Donnes won't acknowledge Bodily any more than Mental fault in those they love. Blanche had been ill, of neuralgic Cold: Valentia not well: but both on the mending hand now.

It has been indeed the Devil of a Winter: and even now—To-day as I write—no better than it was three months ago. The Daffodils scarce dare take April, let alone March; and I wait here till a Green Leaf shows itself about Woodbridge.

I have been looking over four of Shakespeare's Plays, edited by Clark and Wright: editors of the 'Cambridge Shakespeare.' These 'Select Plays' are very well done, I think: Text, and Notes; although with somewhat too much of the latter. Hamlet, Macbeth, Tempest, and Shylock—I heard them talking in my room—all alive about me.

By the by—How did you read 'To-morrow and To-morrow, etc.' All the Macbeths I have heard took the opportunity to become melancholy when they came to this: and, no doubt, some such change from Fury and Desperation was a relief to the Actor, and perhaps to the Spectator. But I think it should all go in the same Whirlwind of Passion as the rest: Folly!—Stage Play!—Farthing Candle; Idiot, etc. Macready used to drop his Truncheon when he heard of the Queen's Death, and stand with his Mouth open for some while—which didn't become him.

I have not seen his Memoir: only an extract or two in the Papers. He always seemed to me an Actor by Art and Study, with some native Passion to inspire him. But as to Genius—we who have seen Kean!

I don't know if you were acquainted with Sir A. Helps, {68} whose Death (one of this Year's Doing) is much regretted by many. I scarcely knew him except at Cambridge forty years ago: and could never relish his Writings, amiable and sensible as they are. I suppose they will help to swell that substratum of Intellectual Peat (Carlyle somewhere calls it) {69} from [which] one or two living Trees stand out in a Century. So Shakespeare above all that Old Drama which he grew amidst, and which (all represented by him alone) might henceforth be left unexplored, with the exception of a few twigs of Leaves gathered here and there—as in Lamb's Specimens. Is Carlyle himself—with all his Genius—to subside into the Level? Dickens, with all his Genius, but whose Men and Women act and talk already after a more obsolete fashion than Shakespeare's? I think some of Tennyson will survive, and drag the deader part along with it, I suppose. And (I doubt) Thackeray's terrible Humanity.

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